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Adventure Time: Amsterdam, Netherlands

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Hello all! Its time for part two of our Christmas break vacation. If you haven’t read it yet, check out Shannon’s post about Cologne, Germany.

Shannon was by far the most excited about the Christmas Markets of Germany, but I was looking forward to going to Amsterdam the most. We didn’t have a ton of specific places to visit for this city, so we spent a lot of our time exploring and wandering the many canals of Amsterdam.

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On our first day our only real priority was seeing the Anne Frank house (this is the canal outside the Frank museum). There is an entire museum now that takes you through Otto’s old warehouse where he ran his business and the secret annex where the Franks spent their time in hiding. I read the diary when I was in middle school, so it was really cool to see the actual diary and to be in the building where Anne wrote it. All of the furniture that used to be there is gone, but you can still see the swinging bookcase that was used to hide the secret entrance and the pictures Anne glued to her wall as decoration. Overall the museum was super interesting and worth every minute we had to wait in line. (P.S. you aren’t allowed to take pics).

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After the Anne Frank house, we walked to a quaint little dutch cafe with a view of one of the many canals for lunch. Luckily EVERYONE in Amsterdam speaks nearly perfect English, so ordering food or asking questions was never a problem. We just walked in to places and ordered in English as if it were the US. When we finished eating, we spent the rest of the afternoon walking around the city and wandering into stores and tourist shops.

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During our wanderings, we stumbled across this little stroopwafel shop. Stroopwafels are very thin waffles filled with a caramel sauce. This place was especially delicious because they made the waffles to order right in front of you so they were nice and warm.

 

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Later on in the evening we went out for dinner at a cool little Dutch pub and then checked out one of Amsterdam’s finest museums: the Sex Museum. In reality it was a super cheesy museum that looks like something out of a bad 80’s movie. You could say it wasn’t what we expected. We then ended the evening by walking through the Red Light District. Although it seems like it would be a shady place, the Red Light District is actually full of tourists and feels very mainstream. It’s another place where we weren’t allowed to take pictures, we even saw a lady of the night throw water on a tourist who took her pic.

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Our last half day in the city before our flight was pretty uneventful because it was Christmas Day. Most of the shops and restaurants were closed, so there wasn’t much to do except walk around and see more of the city.

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Adventure Time: Cologne, Germany

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Hello friends & happy holidays! I was lucky enough to spend these special days with my two most favorite people, Kayla and Logan. As teachers, Logan and I get a nice long winter break *yay* so what better time to travel the world? It was easy for us to decide on Germany and Amsterdam (next post) because Cologne is known for their amazing Christmas markets and Amsterdam is easy to get to from Cologne (if you count a 4 hour bus ride as easy….). Prepare yourself for Christmas Markets, really tasty German food, and some old buildings.

1. Christmas Markets

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Cologne had not 1, not 2, but 3 Christmas markets!!! They were all within 15 minutes of each other, so we didn’t have to worry about public transportation. I’ve been a bit obsessed with going to a German Christmas market ever since I researched them my sophomore year of college, so this was like a dream come true. You can easily spend hours walking around looking at all the different booths (which we did). Each market had roughly 75-100 booths *not exaggerating* offering a ton of different goods: food, candy, gifts, toys, everything your little heart could possibly desire.

2. Super delicious & wonderfully tasty German food

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Germans know food. As far as I’m concerned, this is now an undeniable, indisputable fact. We definitely ate our way through Germany, and I’m so glad we did. Brats, pretzels, tasty drinks – you name it, one of us most likely consumed it. It was delicious and also super affordable (my favorite combo). I already miss it.

3. Old buildings & such

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Cologne’s cathedral is the most visited landmark in Germany (over 20,000 visitors A DAY). It took 600 years to build, and allegedly holds the remains of the 3 kings in a very impressive solid gold tomb. It’s in the very heart of the city, and it is SO BEAUTIFUL. Really, pictures don’t do it justice. It’s so massive you have to set your camera to panoramic setting just to get the entire building in it (or stand really, really far away).

landmarksSadly, a lot of Cologne was destroyed during WWII, so there aren’t many historical landmarks remaining. But there are a few scattered throughout the city. The site on the left is where nuns used to pee; that’s right it was originally a bathroom attached to an old convent (history is riveting, right?).

Here are a few more random photos, just in case you didn’t quite get your fill.

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Besos y abrazos,

Shannon

Adventure Time: Toledo

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KAYLA IS HERE!!! No, you aren’t seeing double, that’s my twin sister, Kayla, who is hanging out with us in Madrid for a few weeks. We wanted Kayla to see an older part of Spain, so off to Toledo we went. Toledo: the land of Marzipan, old ass buildings, and lots of hills.

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Our first objective was hunting down the typical tasty treat Toledo is known for, marzipan. It’s a cookie-like dessert made from sugar and almonds and other things I’m not sure of. If I had to describe the taste I would describe marzipan as edible cookie dough, so obviously it’s delicious.

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Next stop was seeing the Alcazar, which initially I was really pumped about because of the alcazar in Segovia was super awesome. But Toledo’s was a bit of a disappointment. The inside of the building has been transformed into an epic maze-like museum of Spanish history. It’s cool if that’s what you’re in to, but I just wanted to see the view of the city from the top patio. It took us like 35 minutes to actually find the patio, and when we did the view wasn’t that good *womp*. It’s a good place to go if you want to look at a bunch of old armor, but other than that I’d say skip it.

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After a Menu del Dia lunch, we made our way through the winding, hilly streets of Toledo to the Cathedral. If you are going to Toledo please keep in mind that it is very much a walking city, although the different sights are relatively close to each other, the winding streets make it a bit of a journey. This cathedral is super old and super beautiful, but you have to pay 11 euros to go inside, so we decided to just marvel at the outside of the building and the take in the intricacies of the architecture.

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Next sight on the list was the monastery, Toledo has a mosque, a cathedral, and a monastery! So we wanted to get a look at each one. I regret not paying the 3 euros to tour the inside, so if you have the chance you totally should.

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On our trek back to the train station we took the beautiful Bridge of San Martin. This bridge was built during the 14th century and it’s the best way to get to the city center. Sadly, the day turned quite gloomy near the end and we were rained on a bit, but don’t worry it didn’t ruin our trip.

I’m happy the three of us were able to explore another niche of Spain!

Besos y abrazos,

Shannon