You probably thought I was dead. At the same time, you probably don’t care.
Sadly I haven’t had the time I’d like to blog consistently. Sucks, because I do miss it. I want to share the intimacies of my trip with you in hopes that it’ll be interesting, amusing, or helpful for your own trip planning! It was also my first time traveling alone which is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. I can’t say I learned a lot from this experience, but I was able to debunk fears some friends and family had about the whole idea.
So here it starts:
I went on a trip with my family to Europe; specifically Paris, London, and then by my lone self, to Amsterdam. In my opinion, family trips are stressful (they know why). Surprisingly, this one wasn’t so hair pooling (love you guys)! To keep this story brief, I’m only including Paris and Amsterdam and my most memorable adventures, thoughts, and moments.
Paris is truly a magical place because there is so much to see and do.
Within the 6 days I was in Paris, I saw A LOT. Against my will to be exact. My sisters loves to pack in all she can in one day to the point where you gain the ability to sleep standing up and anywhere you can think of. I wasn’t able to take many photos since I was mostly sleeping walking or running out of space on my phone, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t recommendations to be made!
I had to take a baking class this time around. After creating a cookie business and wanting to expand into advanced pastries – and just my love for baking – I really wanted to take a class in where else but Paris. I found a few classes online for decent prices, so I decided to take a few.
The first class picture is a Basic French Bistro Pastry Class at Cookin With Class. I know, it was made for Americans. It was a small intimate class where I was up close and was able to ask many questions. It was a 3 hour class that covered 5 desserts so no time was wasted. It was a fun class, but I was really looking to gain some techniques and be more hands on. We all worked on the same batter, so we passed around the materials a lot. Although I thought that these recipes were doable, they were really hard for everyone else. It was a little frustrating for me because I was more advanced, but was I patient and let everyone have their turn :). We worked on tarts, creme brulee, and madelines. You’d think you can just make them at home with an online recipe but no. These recipes were amazing and tasted like nothing you get out of a box at Costco.
The second class I took was a macaron class – THE macaron. This little french cookie right here is not a force to be reckon with. It will win most of the time, trust me. I took this class at La Cuisine Paris, which was also an intimate class of 8 people. It was a very thorough class that debunked and exposed the techniques on making the perfect macaron. It was the best macaron I made, yet not the best I could do (I have to get hard on myself as a french chef would). Although those circles look “perfect”, they had some air bubbles so it wasn’t 100% cookie. Nonetheless, a great class to take for beginners or intermediates! The other great thing is that you can always email them in the future if you have anymore questions or need help troubleshooting your batch. Let’s just say they didn’t think someone could email so much..
Being my first time going to Amsterdam and going solo, I was pretty excited. Scratch that – YAAASS. Doing a solo trip had always been on my bucket list for several reasons:
1) I’m an introvert, sometimes I like to observe and soak everything in.
2) Test my abilities to be on my own and perhaps even make a few friends with strangers.
3) Take the time to enjoy myself and maybe discover something new about myself.
4) Do whatever weird thing I want and no one can judge me.
5) Take more risks a fearful traveler would be too afraid to do.
Although I only had 2 days alone, I think it was a good precursor to many more solo trips in the future. If you’re ever thinking about solo tripping, maybe this will be of some help.
For my one night in Amsterdam, I decided to stay at the Flying Pig Hostel. It had great reviews, was in the heart of the city, and probably had some great people coming by. I know some people are afraid of hostels, but it’s one of those things where common sense and sense of safety come in. If a place has 2.5 stars, it may not be your best bet. If reviews say it’s an unsafe area, don’t get angry when you wake up to a hobo spooning you. Get the picture? Also noting that I did not have many valuables with me. So if someone somehow stole my luggage of sweaty clothes, I wouldn’t be too upset.
After leaving my luggage at the hostel, I decided to go on a big adventure. At this point, I’ve already seen 1,000 museums and churches and seeing another one filled with paintings would make my head explode. My housemate had recommended a pancake house in the middle of the forest so of course I said “Ummm..YES.” I rented a bike for a few hours and followed Google Maps (Thank you Google). Just some cautionary advice, some roads and bikes may be hard to maneuver. I almost fell over and embarrassed myself once and hit a girl another time..so..yeah. The pancake house, Boerderij Meerzicht, was 45 minutes away by bike, but who could say they’ve gone to a pancake house in the forest?
As for safety, my housemate had told me she herself biked to the house with her friend and it was a safe path. Of course, you shouldn’t always go off one person’s word, but it was a park with families and a decent amount of people that I felt safe enough to go alone.
It was a beautiful day, in and out of cloudiness. As I got further and further away from the touristy chaos, I felt the open air and residential contentment. People – on a Wednesday afternoon – were taking walks with friends, biking in suits, and sitting on benches looking out into the water. It was a beautiful quiet sight. I also passed a few small office buildings with no signs of greyscale corporate parks. It was a nice pace of life and work. I feel as if we locked ourselves in a cycle of moving quickly, wanting more, and being able to prove we can do more and have more than most, that we forget the possibility of happiness in simplicity. Which is why I like to bring myself out of the arena sometimes so that I remember “oh yea, this is what it could be and I’m okay with it.”
The forest was truly a place to explore. It was greener than I expected, and even a little mystical. It felt like the inspiration for Alice in Wonderland with all its nooks and crannies. Biking down hallways of overhanging trees to get some pancakes was a content feeling. Simple comes to mind, a simple way of living.
I was always fascinated by the European way of living and how most of their Scandanavian countries were considered some of the happiest. I think it’s their contentment. I know I use that word constantly – it’s one of my favorite words. *Deep Moment* I know the words seem to go hand in hand, but I feel as if there is a difference between happy and contentment. Happy is something we strive for and we all take different measures to get there. It’s something that all of us strive for meaning it’s not always the easiest to be. Whether it’s getting a paycheck or spending quality time with quality friends, it’s something that we feel in moments and periods of time. A more physical feeling that gives you energy and is apparent. Contentment is a very internal, subtle feeling that is unconscious, but still brings you joy. It’s a peace inside you that is accepting of your life. It also comes and goes, but when you feel it, it’s felt like it’s always been there waiting. To me, that is just as great as happiness and I love the feeling! And this is why I’m a complicated soul T.T
The pancake house was a cute little cottage, just like a fairytale. Overall, the pancakes were just above average and I ordered too much, but I didn’t bike however many miles for one pancake. Kidding, the journey there was something I wouldn’t miss out on. I love nature, and to be out there in the quiet on a bike seeing everything go by was what I really needed. It keeps me sane, I’m sure it does for a lot of us.
The Anne Frank Museum
I know I said I was done with museums, but this museum is a truly unique and haunting experience. It has to be one of the BEST museums I have been to by far, as it really brings to light what it was like to survive during the Holocaust. No grade school classroom can prepare you for this. I wish there were photos to show you from the inside, but I wanted to respect the museum as they asked for no photos. I will refrain from disclosing much about the museum – that would take away the magic.
The wait for the museum was about two hours and I waited patiently. I walked up stairs and through different rooms reading quotes from her book and listening to interviews and documentaries. It has been a very long time since I can remember anything about Anne’s story, so it was as if I was discovering it for the first time. It was haunting to walk through her room and seeing what she had hung herself. There was an attic space without access, but when you look up, there’s a mirror that reflects the entire room while a recorder tells the story of Anne and her father’s friend enjoying the view from the window. I have a feeling everyone imagined a ghostly image of that. The most disheartening part was finding out her father was the only survivor of their family, and set out to make Anne’s dream come true of being a famous writer. Then the hardest part was trying to keep my tears in so I wouldn’t be the weird one crying to herself. It half worked. At the end of the museum, they provided a notebook for visitors to write their thoughts. I had to write “The most amazing museum I’ve been to. Thank you, Anne”.
The rest of my day, I decided to roam the busy touristy streets. Sadly, most of their stores closed by 7pm and I wasn’t able to pick up some nice souvenirs, but then there’s always the Red Light District. It’s a fun little area where you test your curiosity in sex shops and fantasies. Other neighboring streets are filled with street food, cafes, and bars. It was a nice little evening alone for me. I’m a natural explorer and people watcher; it was my porn. I walked where ever my legs would take me, sat down at a bar to drink, and attempted to purchase weed for the first time like a tourist (when in Amsterdam…). And while I was doing all of this, I honestly felt safe. Not because I trusted everyone around me, but because I trusted myself to make the right choices. You also have to look confident and not hostile or like a deer in headlights, just keep your cool. I did not speak to anyone who I second guessed and I didn’t allow myself to get buzzed far from my hostel. I continued my party of one at my hostel, where I made a friend! We drank and smoked LEGALLY the night away. Let’s just say, I will never do that again.
Although I got awfully sick by the time I got home, I loved the trip. It’s always nice to be somewhere new and different. Like I’ve said in my other post Living Out Of My Suitcase, I love traveling and feeling like I am my own home and I take it everywhere with me. Call me a hippie, but that’s just the way I like it. And this trip wouldn’t be possible without my sister, she provides me with the opportunities and makes it easier for to be able to see the world. I’d also like to blame her for these gateway trips because I have a travel addiction and it’s very expensive.
That’s all for now. Welcome back to those who have supported me and welcome to those who are new! There will be more things coming sporadically :). Enjoy these photos for now!