Well, I’ve made it another year among the living, and Joe stepped up our game when it comes to birthday gifts. He planned a surprise weekend trip to Rotterdam, where we spent our nights sleeping on the SS Rotterdam, a retired cruise ship that now serves as a hotel and meeting/celebration venue.
We loved it. The ship was a stunner in its day, and an affordable way for us to experience what high living would have been like in the 1960s (fittingly enough, the decade I was born). It also seems to be a hit among the Dutch because we didn’t run into any other native English speakers like we usually do when vacationing. That’s A-ok by me because in my next life I’d like to be born in the Netherlands. I just love everything about it. And the Dutch speak better English than most of us do.
Since the ship isn’t in the city center, it’s easy to drive to on a Friday night (and it has plenty of parking next to it). Best part is it has a water taxi stop, so still super easy (and fun) to tour the rest of Rotterdam, which is always a fun city to visit. In typical Netherlands style, it owns its vibe — a combination of old, modern, and a whole lot of quirky “let’s try it this way.”
We mostly strolled, sipped and checked out touristy things (which are worth it) like Markthal, the cube houses, city streets and the little red ship that’s a bar restaurant (shame on me; it has a name, but I can’t remember it).
As you can see I posted several pics of the little red ship because I just liked it so much. Joe dropped the ball on NOT reserving the floating hot tub for us because hello? that so is my style. We got a kick out of the floating bus, which we also passed while it was driving on the street.
So, yep another fun weekend was had. Next up is Nice. We’re packing in our trips while packing up our pad. I don’t yet have my orders, but our next move is official. I imagine I’ll receive my orders sometime this week, which means I can schedule our furniture pickup, car shipment, etc. Our goal is to have it all done by early July, and then find ourselves in our new location sometime before my start date of August 1. I’m finally at peace with saying goodbye to all that here has to offer, and I’m totally excited to begin our new adventure. Which will be in…
Guam! Can you believe?
Oh, and I finally broke down and bought a new phone that can actually take pics, sooooooo cannot wait to see the photos Guam will bless me with. But, before then, I’ll be sure to snap plenty more of the gifts Europe continues to share with us.
Two Americans, a Dutchman, a Siberian and an Iranian gather at a bar…
There’s no punch line to go with that headline, but lol the blurry pic says it all. It’s how Joe and I spent our valentines in Valkenburg, Netherlands. This little town packed with ruins, caves and too many restaurants to list is about a two-hour drive from where I work (on a Friday night, bet it’s a lot less other nights of the week). Prior to our visit the only thing I knew about this place was that it holds its annual Christmas markets in its caves, which we’ve been wanting to check out. It’s way more than that, and I totally recommend visiting it any other time of the year.
Valentines Day is also Joe’s birthday, so I wanted to treat him to a cozy weekend somewhere we have not yet been to. The only reason Valkenburg won the pick is because while checking out places to stay in Maastricht, I saw a post for a hotel that offers an apartment with a fireplace. Ding ding ding … this time of year there’s no telling what kind of weather you’ll have, so our own little fireplace wins.
And what an adorable lil bundle of logs it is — especially on this rainy, windy Sunday (last week we left London in the middle of storm Ciara only to follow its path into Belgium; this week we’ll be coasting with storm Dennis).
Friday night we walked around the town and crossed canal bridges and just loved being away from it all and having the time to walk and breathe. LOL and then we stopped in the hotel bar to have a nightcap, which turned into quite a few with our energetic, fun bartender and the other couple at the bar. We learned about their countries norms and quirks, they learned about ours, and I’m pretty sure we all woke the next morning feeling worldly, blessed and cursed with the reality of too much valentine’s cheer.
After drinking a few gallons of water and loading up on Aleve, Joe and I toured the town and met interesting friendly people every where we went. First up was a mill attached to a restaurant. The owner who lived in the mill invited us to tour his place to see all the cogs and belts that made things work, just because we made the mistake of walking into his work area. And, then, of course ,we bought a loaf of bread — yum.
There’s a whole lot of machinery involved in making organic flour.
I just loved spending the day popping into antique and quirky stores, sipping and nibbling at the numerous cafes, and then peeking into peoples windows (I know it is soo very wrong, but the Dutch have the cutest window decorations). Finally we were ready to climb the stairs to tour castle ruins, and what a treat that was (I’ll never tire of castles and churches).
Look at the view from the top of the hill! Isn’t it such an adorable little town.
We take the WORST selfies, but damn we look good in this one. LOL hangovers are our beauty secret. Afterward we took a tour of the Velvet Cave, which was carved out under the castle. It was used during WW2 as a hiding place for the locals when the Germans came to invade. Luckily this happened during the last days of war, so Valkenburg did not have to hide long. That said, it’s dark and dank down there, and who wants to hide with bats?
There are also numerous paintings all over the cave that tell the town’s stories. Here the walls can actually talk (albeit a visual speak).
Today, we’re going back to a store where we want to buy more stuff we adore but don’t really need, but you can’t take American consumerism out of us just because we’re no longer there, and then it’s back to fighting the wind on our drive home.
Last weekend we went to London to see Book of Mormon, which was a lot of fun (but I didn’t take a lot of pics).
LOL and this pretty much sums up our London trip, but we do want to go back again since it’s nice to be understood. Everything is just so much easier! There are also more plays and musicals we want to see, so I’ll write more about London another time.
Next up is Paris (again, I know) and Bordeaux (woo hoo!). We booked an apartment within walking distance of a wine amusement park or museum (depending on what website you look at). Anyway, I’m pretty sure I’ll be in nirvana.
And that’s it for now. Hopefully, you all had a lovely Valentine’s weekend, and for some of you I think you also have Monday off —- aargh, I’m jealous (I could use a Monday off — lol we’re never totally satisfied, are we?).
p.s. here’s the link of where we stayed. We really loved it here and will probably do a few more weekends just because it’s so close and a nice little escape for us: Hotel Scheepers