WHY YOU NEED TO VISIT EUROPE AT LEAST ONCE + SIGHTS FROM AMSTERDAM



Hi everyone! Thanks for stopping by today. Today is really special because I'm finally going to be telling you guys all about my recent trip to Europe.

I have been planning, researching, praying for this trip to happen for quite some time now, so when it finally did, it almost felt like it didn't really happen because it felt (and still feels) like it was a dream. There are countless ways and methods that you could take to make this type of trip happen, but for me, I felt like a group tour was the best way to go. It was my first time so I felt like I needed a guide and the idea of meeting people from all over the United States was very appealing to me. The idea of other people (especially many solo travelers like myself) taking a leap of faith into the unknown and experiencing that together?! I totally jumped at the opportunity. I was initially going with a friend, but at the end, she couldn't go, but that didn't stop me at all. I knew I wanted to make this trip happen, and it did! It was the best choice I had ever taken for myself. To step out of my comfort zone, to travel by myself to foreign countries and make new friends while doing it. I know it sounds kind of scary at first, believe me, I was totally terrified at first, but I would never change it! Traveling alone is actually kind of liberating, you learn many things about yourself, and you notice you have a strength that you never knew existed (literally speaking as well, especially hauling luggage every couple of days, LOL!)

If you're looking into visiting a foreign country and haven't before, I think a group tour is a great way to explore. I went with EF college break and had the best tour director anyone could ask for, which made the experience so much more enjoyable and it gave me piece of mind. It also taught me how to plan my next trip outside of a tour group, if I would want to travel on my own terms. The one thing that was most eye-catching for me in traveling with EF is that they offer montly payment plans! It was the only way I knew I could afford to go on this trip. And although it is a bit more expensive as opposed on planning everything yourself, it was worth every penny because the entire experience to me was priceless. They offer so many amazing trips, including the one I went on called the "European road trip"; I chose this one in particular because we stopped and highlighted a great amount of places that I wanted to visit, and two weeks is a great amount of time (although, I would have loved to stay more days in some places, but isn't that always the case?! lol). They have a day-to-day itinerary of what you are going to do and once you are set on a trip and start paying, toward the end you get to be part of a facebook group with all the people that are going on the tour with you, including your tour director. There, a great amount of helpful information is posted, everything from flight scehduling (and on your EF account page as well), things to bring with you, how to pack (don't worry, I'll be doing a post on this asap lol), phone plans, currency exchange, you name it! I felt like I was one of the annoying ones asking so many questions in the group lol, but who cares! Everyone benefited from the questions and answers, and everyone is there to help eachother if you have any doubts. 

Also, on the facebook group, that's where the tour director would post all of the times and places we had to meet to go on the next excursion, as well as, suggestions on what to do on your freetime, and we had a lot of that! As much as I loved the guided tours, going off on your own in a city is much more enriching and let's you explore on your own terms. I never felt like I was "lost" , the tour director always let us know exactly where we were and what train or bus to take to get back to the hotel or to a certain meeting point. All in all it was just amazing. I know this is a lot of info to take in, but if you all have any questions you could leave them in the comments below or email me! I love answering your questions, especially about travel . :)

SO WHY DO YOU HAVE TO VISIT EUROPE AT LEAST ONCE...?!

Ok, so I know everyone would have a different interpretation to this question, but here are mine..

1. It is so refreshing to experience another type of culture and see how the other side of the world lives.

2. COMPLETELY different from the USA. Talk about culture shock, but of course, in a good way. 

3. The. FOOD. (That should be enough to make you book a trip lol)

4. The breath-taking architecture. A mix of the old architecture with a splash of modern; it is just amazing how some buildings are preserved and could still look so beautiful. 

5. The people. Everyone does have a different experience of course, but in every city I went to, I encountered some good-hearted people and I'll never forget it. It also was so memorable to just experience and really "live" like a local for a couple of days. 

6. The air. I know, what the hell am I talking about? LOL . You literally breathe in a different type of air when you're in a foreign country. To freshly made bread in Paris, to fish and chips in London, to a mouth-watering stroopwafel in Amsterdam or other peculiar odors if you know what I mean..LOL..that's all I'm going to say about that for now... (;

But honestly, life isn't meant to be lived in one place, even if you're not moving to a foreign country (YET), you have to visit for yourself. You grow as a person, you learn to appreciate the little things we take for granted, and the memories you make are something you will always have with you until we are no longer here on Earth guys. Well I'm done preaching for now lol, let's start the "recap" of this trip with one of my favorite cities: Amsterdam! I truly underestimated this city, So much. It totally stole my heart and it is so charming and brimming with history.
Let's Start!


This is in the heart of Amsterdam called "Dam Square". It's made of tons of little shops and many places to eat. Here you'll also find street food, a good amount of tourists, street musicians and the most amazing views Amsterdam has to offer. 



The "Saks Fifth ave" of Amsterdam. It's a very luxurious department store. I didn't get a chance to go inside, but maybe it was good that I didn't. ;)



What the city is known for, its charming canals. You will find locals riding around in their boats at everytime of the day here. They really do appreciate their city, they live it up to the fullest. There's also many canal cruises offered for visitors. Our group went on one and it was awesome. We drank wine, had some finger foods, took in the views, and spoke to our "cruise driver" which was very nice and told us more about what amsterdam had to offer.


I came across the most amazing outside market, just filled with fresh flowers. Pretty sad I didn't spend more time in this area. It's definitely a place where you could get lost in for hours. I definitely want to go back!



We had the chance to go to the "Anne Frank house" and visit the secret annex where she and her family were for two years during WWII. It was very sad but moving at the same time. You get to see all the rooms where everyone stayed during that time. You see Anne's room, where half of the wall was filled with magazine cutouts to make the room more "pleasant". They did a great job preserving all this history. This (above) was the only photo I manage to take because they didn't allow photos to be taken. I had to be the rebel and take one anway. This is the "door" to the secret house they resided in. It was made to seem like a book shelf so no one would know what was on the other side! You could see from this photo that the actual door is covered in glass to preserve it. Pretty cool. It's one of my favorite memories from staying in amsterdam. It was included on our tour, so we didn't have to wait in line at all. We went early in the morning (best time to go!) because as the day progressed, the line almost went around the corner! More information here.


We had the chance to go to the Heinekein brewery and museum. It was very interesting and I really enjoyed it. You get a view of the history of the beer and also talk about the process of actually making Heinekein beer. You also tour the grounds where they make it as well. It's also a very hand-on /interactive experience. There are countless little stations with interactive games, photo booth (you know I was all over that lol) and a virtual "ride" that went through the entire process of creating beer! Even if you aren't a beer lover, you will still have fun here! At the end of this tour, there was a roof top bar with a beer tasting. It was around 11a but we didn't care, we all had like 2-3 beers, lol. It was great! The "tour" cost was 16 Euros, pretty decent price I'd say. More info here






I couldn't leave amsterdam without seeing and taking a photo at the famous "IAMsterdam" sign! I absolutely loved this area. Plenty of little areas to sit down and eat and people watch. There were street musicians, like the guy next to me in this photo, and he actually sang pretty good! lol There were also people blowing gigantic bubbles (random, I know!) but it was cool to see that as well. This place was extremely crowded to be honest; pretty difficult to get a decent picture. I'd say you have to wake up at 5am and come here when no one is around to get in those fabulous shots! This one (above) is as good as it got. :) The sign is right in front of the "Rijksmuseum"


My girls. The very first people I met on this trip. I love you all. <3


People looking like acrobats climbing the letters to get their photos..LOL! Which is allowed!



The norm in Amsterdam. Bicycles in every corner that you turn. This is their means of transporation, along with taking the "tram", which is the bus. They take their biking very seriously as that's how everyone gets from place to place. You do see your fair share of cars, but it's not ideal to have a car here. There's barely space to park and the majority of the cobblestone streets is made up of the railroad tracks for the "trams" to run. The bicyclists also have their very own bike lane, so they can get pretty vicious is there are pedestrians on it. I almost got runned over by one, I have to be honest. LOL.

WHERE TO GO/WHAT TO DO:

-Dam Square: It's the City Center and a main destination in Amsterdam. There you will find a Madame Tussauds wax museums, plenty of shopping, and so many great places to eat! Loved this area so much.

- Anne Frank House: Great destination to scratch off your bucket list. It's important to learn some history while you're there. 

- Red light district: Now that I think of it, I barely took any photos here. LOL. I did but the quality wasn't very good. But this is definitely a spot to go to. It's a pretty urban area where it concetrates on sex-oriented businesses and prostitution. It is very alive and kicking in this area guys! It such a taboo in the USA but they are very very "free" about it here. Although it is technically "illegal", they still tolerate it. Just like smoking marijuana, it's the signature scent in the air here lol, but it's what makes Amsterdam, Amsterdam! Also, you do see women behind the windows enticing the men for money. Even though I went during the day, I saw some women behind the windows, half-naked and everything! It was a bit shocking to see, but interesting. 

- IAMsterdam Sign: Touristy destination, but you need to go and see it for yourself!

-Van-Gogh museum: I did not get to visit, but some of friends did and loved it. So I thought it was worth mentioning! For my art lovers, you have to visit!

-Canal Cruise: Must do! Go on a canal cruise like the locals. You get to see Amsterdam from a different perspective. If you go and do this, try to do it in the evening, when the sun is about to set; SO worth it! 

WHAT TO EAT

-Bitterballens: OMG. So SO good. I think I had more than I should've of these. There are deep fried crispy meatballs but the inside is sort of like a croquette pastry. I'm hungry just thinking about these.

-Stroopwafel: It's more of a desert, but I had these at any time of the day in Amsterdam haha. It's basically two thin waffles with a layer of syrup in the middle. Oh-so delicous; especially if it is freshly made. 

- Dutch fries: Lorddddd Jesus Christ. They are similar to truffle fries in the states, but BETTER. I almost ate the whole basket. No regrets. 

-Ham & Cheese Toasties: Very simple, but delicious. It's like a grilled cheese but with ham!
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Have you ever visited amsterdam..? What did I miss? I'd love to know.

& thank you if you made it this far in the post, I know it was a long one.
I appreciate you reading. <3

8 comments

  1. I utterly love European mood! Great post Esteph!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you !!! :) Glad that you love it

      xo
      Estephanie

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  2. This looks like such an amazing trip! I would love to experience Amsterdam - and it looks like you did some really fun things. We were in Paris last year and it remains one of my all time favorite cities, but this looks like a place I would instantly love!

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    Replies
    1. Hi Lisa !!! Thanks for reading. You really need to. I really underestimated it, and it was one of the cities I liked the most. I also visited Paris; it was amazing, definitely a dream come true!

      Xo
      Estephanie

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  3. Amsterdam is definitely on my list! My first time in Europe I also did a tour. I'm so glad to took the chance and to see some travel content as well. Happy travels!

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    Replies
    1. Hi there!

      Yes, you must visit Amsterdam when you can. It is an amazing city with so much to do!

      xo
      Estephanie

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  4. The food in Europe is definitely a reason to visit! I love the old architecture and history in Europe too. Great post!

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  5. I've been in Europe for 10 years now, I may never go home ;)

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