Monday, December 30, 2013

Looking Forward: 2014

For the first 2 years of Jason's time at SWA, I honestly feel like we were traveling all time. We wanted to go everywhere and see everything we possibly could. This was great as we had so many amazing experiences - but it also didn't leave much time for anything else. This coming year, I want to work on improving the balance in my day to day life.

On the other hand, we've been really blessed in 2013 to see family more than ever, so that is one aspect that we've been really happy about. Between all the weddings, birthdays, bachelorettes and holidays, I really feel like we were able to strike a good balance.

My word for this coming year is: Selective
Now this is me we're talking about, so of course we will still travel, but we will be more conscious of the time we take to do it. Most of our trips will be shorter and closer to home (like New Mexico, Louisiana and within Texas). Non-stops are an amazing thing that we need to start taking more advantage of.
Another aspect is that we will be more selective with the places we go. Through our travels, we've definitely realized that just because a place is a "top place to travel", doesn't necessarily mean that we will like it. Same goes for attractions in each city. Rushing around to see everything in each place really doesn't make for a fun OR relaxing trip, so we're all for taking a step back this year.

We are definitely looking forward to bringing you more recaps of our amazing trips in 2014. Thanks for reading and I hope the new year brings you much happiness (with some travel mixed in)!

-Christy & Jason

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Amsterdam {Day 3}

Our last day in Amsterdam, we woke up and headed to Sara's pancakes. We had some sun this morning, so the canals looked spectacular!

Jason's pancake with banana, bacon and cheese.
We all then jumped into a paddleboat to explore the canals up close. We made our way from the Anne Frank House to the Rijksmuseum in about an hour. Jason and John were our lovely chauffeurs and Mallory and I got a relaxing tour. Thanks boys!

Santa (St. Nicholas really) in the canals!

We once again explored the Museumplein and got to watch some ice-skating.

We needed to warm up, so we set up shop inside of a little pub near our place. We spent hours here drinking, playing cards and people watching.

That night, we headed out to the Christmas markets for dinner. Our canal cruise picked up outside of Amsterdam Centraal station, so with our dinners in hand, we headed to the pick up point. The canal cruise was fine, but honestly nothing special. That could have been because it was raining, but it was nothing to write home about.

After the cruise, we headed back to our place to prepare for our journey home. We had an early morning, but we made it home with no problems. We jumped on our nonstop KLM flight and landed in Houston 10 hours later - still smiling! Our plane was super full, but we're pretty lucky with this whole standby thing and even got seats together!

Thanks to John and Mal for being great travel buddies (again). We had a great Thanksgiving weekend exploring a new city! And of course, thanks SWA!

Overall, we loved Amsterdam and had a GREAT time, but we were pretty exhausted. (We actually both ended up with pretty nasty colds after this trip.) So, in conclusion - glad we did this (crazy) trip, but we probably won't again. It also served as our 4th anniversary trip! I'm so thankful to be married to my best friend (and the world's best travel companion).

That's all the travel we're doing this year, but check out where we're tentatively heading in 2014!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Amsterdam {Day 2}

Amsterdam is a fairly small city, so we found that walking was always the easiest way to get around. All the locals have bikes through and we were constantly having to move (or jump) out of the way!

Day 2 started by walking over to Bazar Amsterdam - a North African restaurant. This was in an old converted church, but the d├ęcor screamed Moroccan. It was delicious and a good stop between our canal house and the Van Gogh museum.

We wandered around the markets before we made our way to Museumplein.

The Van Gogh Museum was the perfect kind - small, but full of great pieces of art. I liked hearing his story and following along with his artistic progression. I realized why I love his work - his pieces jump off the page by both his use of contrasting colors and his painting technique.

This was one of our favorites, so we got a print and some playing cards of this guy!

That night, we went to Pulitzer Bar in the Nine Streets for drinks. This bar was in the Pulitzer Hotel, which was used as a filming location for Ocean's 12. I might need to go back and watch that movie again now!

After drinks, we went to de Struisvogel for dinner. This restaurant was on our street and served a 3 course dinner for 25 Euro! The restaurant was very cozy and the food was great. I'm still dreaming about my pumpkin soup.

Up Next: Our last day in Amsterdam!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Amsterdam {Day 1}

One of my bucket list items was to travel to Europe for a long weekend and what better time than Thanksgiving? We had a few days off and, well, Thanksgiving isn't a holiday in Europe. Flights were pretty open and we knew we had to try!

We ended up on a nonstop from Houston on KLM on Wednesday afternoon and arrived before the sun rose on Thursday morning. Daylight hours are only from 8:30-4:30 this time of year.

John and Mallory were due to arrive later that day, so we had time to go to check into our canal house and then walk a block over to the Anne Frank House before they got there. If you want to see this, get there early! We had zero line and minimal people in the house around 9am, but it gets crazy later in the day per John and Mallory who had been before.

View from our canal house

I know most of us read The Diary of a Young Girl growing up, so this was just surreal to see where all of her silent suffering took place. The museum shows all of the rooms in the office below as well as "The Annex". It had the stories of all individuals in hiding there as well as interviews with Otto Frank, who was the only survivor after the war. No pictures were allowed inside, but below is the outside + museum.

After this, we met up with John and Mallory. We grabbed lunch and walked around the city.

We made a quick jaunt around the Red Light District, but since I don't want my camera smashed into 100 pieces by an angry bouncer...and in an effort to keep this PG, no pics except one of the canal in that area!

That night, we grabbed some wine and pizza from La Perla in the Jordaan area. Yummy! We were pretty wiped after our day of traveling (and time zone changes), so we took the pizza to go and finished the night at our place.

Up next: Day 2 in Amsterdam!