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last minute european adventure

last minute european adventure {paris}

by @according2kelly on April 27, 2011

i love paris in the springtime.
i love paris in the fall.
i love paris in the winter when it drizzles.
i love paris in the summer when it sizzles.
{cole porter}

but let’s be honest, paris in the springtime, really & truly is best of all… walks along the seine, round the notre dame, paris restaurants, morning croissants.

a morning stroll through the louvre, spending a little quality time with a few lovely ladies. (i like to pay a visit every time i’m in town.)

& even though we’d already spent a wonderful evening, eating crepes underneath the eiffel tower… (which still mesmerizes me every time it lights up & twinkles.)

eiffel tower at night

we went back the next day & ate lunch inside the eiffel tower, 123 meter above the ground – all i can say is… oh la la!

& you can’t visit paris (even if it’s your 7th time) without playing tourist. we stayed busy visiting notre dame, the arc de triomphe, moulin rouge, champs elysees, & louis vuitton.

but my absolute favorite memory was a late afternoon on the steps of the sacré-cœur cathedral. located at the summit of the highest point in the city, the sacré-cœur cathedral is the perfect vantage point for an absolutely breathtaking view of the city.

au revoir paris!




last minute european adventure {brugge}

by @according2kelly on April 24, 2011

board a train,  ride south, hang a right, &  you’ll end up in brugge, belgium. (as long as you’re coming from amsterdam that is.)

it’s been said that brugge is a fairytale town, & i’d definitely agree. with it’s cobblestone streets & boat-filled canals, you instantly feel like you’ve stepped in someone’s “happily ever after.”

plus, what’s not to love about being in the chocolate capital of the world? i know i get weak in the knees just thinking about it.

we toured the city on foot, by boat & in a horse-drawn carriage – so romantical.

& have i mentioned the waffles? don’t get me started. they are light, fluffy & absolutely delicious. topped with chocolate & bananas, strawberries & whipped cream, or maybe some nutella? heaven on earth.


last minute european adventure {bikes of amsterdam}

by @according2kelly on April 22, 2011

one thing i can say for surety… amsterdammers (or rather the dutch & netherlanders in general) love, Love, LOVE their bikes. they even go so far as (loudly) declaring this love on billboards scattered throughout the city.

amsterdam loves bikes

their roads have entire lanes devoted strictly to bikes. but, when a country is as flat as holland, & a city as small as amsterdam, it truly is feasible to bike everywhere.

men (dressed in suits) ride bikes. ladies (wearing heels) ride bikes. kids ride (on & in) bikes.

literally everyone rides bikes, & they really are everywhere… definitely my kind of city.

holland bikes

& if the huge billboards weren’t enough to convince you of their love for bikes… the dutch tiles may do the trick.

as you can see, bikes rank right up there with a few of holland’s favorite things: tulips, cows, wooden shoes & windmills.

but even more amazing than the sheer number of bikes, was the personality that so many of the bikes possessed.

there were bikes with built-in head lamps. & bikes with baskets for carrying groceries &  children.

there were colorful bikes. bikes that resembled works of art. & bikes that could be folded up & collapsed into handy-dandy carry ons.

i really loved seeing the amsterdammers take the words of albert einstein to heart…

“life is like riding a bicycle – in order to keep your balance, you must keep moving.”


last minute european adventure {rainbow of tulips}

by @according2kelly on April 21, 2011

holland tulips

amazing. beautiful. awe-inspiring. dazzling.

try as i might, there really are no words to describe the wonderment that is the netherlands’ keukenhof gardens. & with over 4.5 million tulips, in 100 different varieties (who knew there were so many different types of tulips?), it’s pretty much guaranteed to take your breath away (i know it did mine).

we climbed a wind mill for the most incredible view of the fields, & toured the gardens (ohhing & ahhing over each new variety).

holland tulips

we feasted on delicous waffles & again found ourselves trying on wooden shoes.

but, the best part of the entire day, was our bike tour around the tulip fields.

getting up close & personal with the tulips was practically a dream come true… my insides tingle just thinking about it.



last minute european adventure {amsterdam}

by @according2kelly on April 20, 2011

at the belfast airport we said goodbye to aunt marty & uncle dee, while mama jo, sister kerry june, sister-in-law-to-be kristen met up with ashley for the next chapter in our last minute european adventure.

amsterdam, holland

amsterdam, holland (or rather the netherlands) is a picturesque postcard every which way you look… little did i know it’s quite literally the “venice” of the netherlands.

dozens of canals (and even more boats & houseboats) criss cross the city, resulting in a myriad of bridges (mostly cobblestone) & canal crossings.

canals of holland

we spent our days in amsterdam wandering throughout the city… exploring museums (i have fallen madly in love with van gogh’s  almond blossom painting & was touched by anne frank’s plight), & quite literally stopping to smell the flowers.

flower market

we’ve hunted for windmills, rode in water taxis & experienced the city from high atop a ferris wheel.

we ate waffles, crepes & pancakes on nearly every corner and tried on lots of wooden shoes.

wooden shoes in holland

but seriously, what’s a trip to amsterdam without a visit to the red light district? although, i was fairly surprised when i realized it looked just like any other street.

red light district

but, if you looked really closely, you suddenly start to notice that there really & truly are red lights & even red curtains lining the windows. & behind those red curtains, you’ll sometimes get a peek of a little leg, or if you’re really lucky, maybe a bit more. but don’t try to take their pictures, that’s a definite no no, & they will slap you on the wrist.

red light district

next stop? the world famous tulip festival – i just know it’s going to be amazing.


last minute european adventure {ireland}

by @according2kelly on April 19, 2011

a little over two weeks ago the phone rang.

my mom was on the line. “so…….” she said.

“i’m planning a trip. i’m going to ireland, holland, belgium & france. &, if you can find a baby sitter you can come too. no kids. no husband. girl’s only.”

& that was it. i’m sure we talked for a few more minutes. i can almost guarantee i asked several questions. but honestly, i don’t remember any of it.

my last minute european adventure had begun, just like that.

suddenly i was on the scramble to find somebody, anybody, to watch all three of my children for a week or so. with only a few weeks to plan, prepare & secure reinforcements, it often felt like i was moving heaven & earth – but wouldn’t you do that for the trip of a lifetime?

we (as in mama jo, sister kerry june, sister-in-law-to-be kristen, aunt marty & uncle dee) started the trip in portaferry, ireand. just south of belfast – a quaint little countryside fishing village.

portaferry ireland

the village & it’s surrounding area is absolutely breathtakingly stunning – surrounded by green rolling hills (as far as the eye can see), and  bushels & bushels of the wildflower borse.last minute european adventure

{me, kerry june & kristen. ready to burst into song, singing “the hills are alive”}

ireland borse

no matter which way you look you’re guaranteed a beautiful view in portaferry – espepcially in spring when the flowers & trees are in bloom.

portaferryjust a few days into our trip & we’ve already had so many adventures…

i’ve driven the windy, wee country roads from belfast to portaferry (managing to keep everyone alive), all while driving on the left side of the wee dam road, shifting with my left hand & avoiding each & every lorry that came rumbling down the road. (oy vey!) we’ve visited a castle, hiked the local wind mill, dined at a proper irish pub, & even had front row seats to a real live irish brawl. we rode the ferry to the republic of ireland (unfortunately i didn’t get another passport stamp), ate lots of fish & chips and sticky toffee pudding. but probably the most exciting (& the entire purpose of this wee little side trip)… we’ played grave hunters & detectives, as we’ve researched our family heritage.

portaferry graveyard

soon we board a plane & head on to amsterdam. i can’t wait.