“I dream of travelling the world with you, go on adventures, take photos, be happy and kiss you in every city of my dreams”
But in the real world – it is not that easy my dear. But maybe we can do it once in a while. And we did.
I admit that at the start of our relationship, The Hubs and I, all we wanted was to be together, we did not have any plans or relationship goals going into our partnership. All we knew then was we love each other and we will surely do anything and everything to be together. Having been together for 11 years, married and with 2 kids, you always have to take things into perspective. You have priorities, bills and more bills. However, considering all that we have been through, we thought of rewarding ourselves with a Honeymoon/Adventure. It is something we hoped to do when the kids are done with college but we felt, having the little wedding celebration with our family last July 2014, we owe ourselves this – our dream honeymoon. The Euro Adventure of our dreams. It was a 9 days and 8 Nights Escapade – Plenty of memories that will keep us smiling until our old age. We took the trip from 30 January to 07 February 2015.
And here goes… the first of a four part series, recalling the four countries, 6 cities first ever winter travel of our lives/official honeymoon trip as Husband and Wife.
Honeymoon Dream Part 1 – Amsterdam, Netherlands
Amsterdam is one of the places I have always dreamt of visiting – because everything about it looks so beautiful in photos. And the books I have read with Amsterdam setting intrigued me all the more – the liberal views on tabooed topics, the beautiful building architectures, the romantic strolls in canals, Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Anne Frank, the works.
One week before our trip, I was already refreshing Yahoo Weather literally every 30 minutes because on our day of arrival it was predicted to snow. And having grown in the tropics – snow is like unicorn and pixie dusts – you will never know it’s real until you see it. So upon touch down at Netherlands’s Schiphol Airport – this scene greeted us.
I was whispering in hushed tones – Wow, Whoa! SNOWWWWWWWWW. I was crazy teary eyed! (yup, I am a weirdo!)
Here we are after getting our luggage, about to board a train going to the city.
So we took a train from the Airport to Amsterdam Centraal. We booked a hotel close to the central station because of our crazy itinerary. It is quicker to go and dash to the airport. Travel time to and from is around 15 minutes. Our Amsterdam stay was for 2 nights and 2 days.
Stepping out of the train station, our first ever winter experience has begun. 3 degrees Celsius at 12 noon greeted us as we set foot in Adult Disney Land (no pun intended haha). After check-in, we immediately wanted to go out and enjoy the sights and sounds of the beautiful Amsterdam. First stop – we went to say our prayers and gratitude in St. Nicholas Basilica which is a 2 minute walk from our hotel. It’s the only Basilica in Amsterdam apparently. And as always, upon entering, you experience the calm and peace and immediately, with God’s grace, we were sure the trip will be an amazing adventure and one we will always look back to as we grow old together.
After the church visit, the Amsterdam adventure begins. We kept reminding each other – what happens in Amsterdam, stays in Amsterdam. We looked for a place to eat to sample local cuisine. and of course, drink some spirits because the temperature is not going up anytime soon. We badly needed to take something – in fact anything – to keep our body warm.
After eating, we immediately did the tourist route – we took the Hop on, Hop Off bus. There’s just so much beauty and awesomeness around and the husband chiming in – Are we going to the Red Light District now? Are we? Are we?????? ( I still can hear the excitement in his voice to this day – SMH). It was starting to rain but still we were able to capture a few photos.
Since it was almost 5pm, and during winter months, everything just goes dark so easily and the tour bus stops at 6pm, we decided to go to the Heineken Museum. (Yup, more beer). I am a not beer drinker but there’s something about the freshness of beers in Amsterdam that I drank it like coke. (LMAO) We were so busy enjoying the whole – How are Heinekens’ made – when I looked at the window and it started to snow. I was transfixed with the whole thing that I was so speechless. This moment was the realization of one of my childhood dreams. I immediately told the Hubs – we have to go out. We have to go catch snow drops! Maybe I can eat them to know how they taste? This feels like Christmas all over again. I was ecstatic bordering on crazy. (haha)
So we went, catching snow drops and realizing in hurts when it touches your skin. We were catching the snow drops from all angles even if hurt my eyes. We wanted to enjoy the moment because, there we were – he who turned 37 a week back, and I about to be 35 in May – never saw or experienced real snow – so how can we let the moment pass? Locals on their bikes, walking, rushing to go home looked appalled at us. Because there we were – so happy and playful acting like we won the lottery and there they were – just wanting to go somewhere dry and warm.
The only decent “while snowing” photo
When it was all over it was chaos – we were shivering to the nines and we couldn’t catch a taxi to go back to the hotel. It was already 8pm, which means 10pm on our Dubai body clocks, and having traveled a 7 hour flight in the morning meant that our body just wanted to rest. We were waiting for public transport to come when a fellow Filipino heard us and invited us for coffee. We gladly accepted as we were desperate for warmth. He took us to his store, one of the few Filipino stores in Amsterdam and a few more Kabayans were there for a meeting. We regret however that we were not able to take photos with them. We left their house and the temperature was down to 0 degrees Celsius.
The next day, we went out very early to experience the Amsterdam sunrise and see the Zaanse Schans.
We went for a quick walk to enjoy the morning sights and sounds. The place is magical just when you know everyone inside those pretty houses are just about to wake up or having their coffee.
The experience just spelled romance – I felt so in-love.
We then took a train to Zaanse Schans, a quick 30 minute travel to experience the old windmill town of Netherlands. We still saw a few drops of the previous night’s snow.
So this is how snow feels like… Oh shoot, I just grabbed dog poop!!!
We walked for about 10 minutes when the smell of freshly cooked cheese just came at us. We knew then that we are close. And the view to the bridge leading to the place literally takes your breath away.To say that the place is magical is an understatement – the snow, the sun shining on a freezing morning, the frozen canal, the old town charm – everything was just mesmerizing.
We went back to the Centre during lunch time. It was time to see the Museumplein. The place was too crowded for our liking. Everyone wanted to climb the I Amsterdam sign.
We visited the Anne Frank museum, walked to enjoy the views of the Canals until the Dam square. Stopped for a quick coffee and went to rest a bit because we were saving our energy for the best part of the tour.
After an hour’s rest at the hotel, we stopped by the sex museum for more fits of laughter. D*ck you say? Oh, they got plenty that I am no longer shocked. (disclaimer – Due to the fear that my kids may one day read my blog, I am not going to post any of the graphic photos that we took! Hahaha)
We quickly had dinner and went to the most intriguing place of all – The Red Light District. To say that I was in for an adventure is an understatement. It is a place I will never forget. All kinds of Hash were there – lollies, cookies, beer, whatchamacallits. We went to window shop for a bit, and the tales I have read are real – They were like live Barbie dolls waiting for someone to buy them or knock so they will open their doors and close the windows and lights. One, actually winked at my husband while we were walking. My husband – the naughty person that he is – gamely pulled my hand and gave the “doll” the “3” number sign, to which she nodded, looked at me with a devious smile in her lips. I was laughing as we quickly rushed out of her sight, we passed by more of those dolls, saw people in some corners looking as if they are up in the clouds, some were showing things “live ” for a fee as we looked at eyes that seem to have no feelings. It was one to read those things on paper, but experiencing them first hand makes me feel overwhelmed. Humbled even. You question why and how… but even around the area where in most cases you don’t feel safe, I felt ok while roaming the district. I didn’t fear for my life. It boggles me to this day.
That wraps the Amsterdam leg of our trip. We went back to our hotel, packed our stuff. We had to prepare for an early morning flight to Rome – the Part 2 of our Honeymoon.