A winter weekend in Amsterdam for couples (NEW vlog)

Amsterdam is a city with a reputation. While we did discover the best place to get high (above the city, you cheeky things), on our recent winter weekend in Amsterdam for couples city-break, we fell a little more in love … with the city, too.

Winter in Amsterdam can be a little harsh, as we experienced in the pitch black at 6pm on Saturday night.

We pushed slowly against the wind, hail slapping us hard in the face as we pressed one slow step at a time forward along the side of a bicycle highway towards our hotel, harbouring a very real concern that someone wouldn’t see us among the construction and the weather and knock us down.

At the end of the shortcut we’d naively taken along the waterfront towards Aitana Amsterdam, I felt quite exhilarated about surviving, and can’t help but relate to the scene in Clueless where Cher, Dion and Murray are able to pull over safely after a brush with death-by-Californian-highway.

To be honest though, the weather was about the same as London in terms of chill factor, and if you’re rugged-up, winter in Amsterdam for a traveller is just fine!

The other bonus about this time of year is that you can secure lovely accommodation for a fraction of the price it is in summer, and the city isn’t as busy either (although I wouldn’t say it was quiet).

Winter weekend in Amsterdam for couples: best travel experiences

I’ll address the elephant in the room now – yes, you can buy weed here, it’s well-known for that.

But, Amsterdam is so much more than some of it’s seedier (sorry…) areas, although no judgement there!

Amsterdam is full of all sorts of fun – and it’s just so beautiful, interesting, chic, delicious, as you’ll see in our vlog below…

We featured a few tips in a previous blog on Amsterdam here.

Once you’re done with the tourist area, may we suggest wandering the neighbourhoods around the city’s popular shopping precinct near De Negen Straatjes (‘The Nine Little Streets’)? There’s a neat blog on Amsterdam shopping areas here that might be helpful, but always ask a local for advice.

Getting high (on life)

In the first instance, we can’t recommend highly enough the I Amsterdam City Card – we have used it twice on visits to the city and it’s excellent value for money, including transport and entry to most attractions, a free canal ride and discounts in many stores.

Discover more and buy yours here 

There’s SO much to do in Amsterdam that while a winter weekend (or spring, autumn, summer) is amazing, there’s never enough time, even though this is a little city.

Every time we go we discover more that we love, and more we want to do.

Our top travel experiences: winter in Amsterdam

Yes, it’s quite cold in the wintertime, but we didn’t find it any worse than London.

Same clothing rules apply: layer, wear a waterproof and warm jacket, hat, scarf, gloves, warm socks and comfortable shoes for walking.

Our winter weekend in Amsterdam itinerary included indoor options though, because you do need a little respite from the cold. That said, all of this is awesome to do at any time of year.

We’ve featured it all in our special vlog, but in summary our top travel experiences for a weekend in Amsterdam for couples include:

  1. The delicious and fabulous one-hour cheese and wine tasting at Reypenaer Cheese
  2. Learn about Amsterdam’s interesting history through its national drink, Genever, and a cool sensory experience at the House of Bols (with free cocktail!)
  3. Step back in time to discover how the wealthy set lived (this was an incredibly rich city and important trading port just a few centuries ago) by exploring one of the mansions open to the public with the past on display. We enjoyed Museum Van Loon
  4. A canal cruise, included with your I Amsterdam City Card, or hop on board one of the many options available when you arrive in town – day, evening, dining – whatever takes your pleasure. But do definitely see Amsterdam from the water!
  5. Then see the city from the opposite perspective at A’DAM Lookout, which features restaurants, bars, a panoramic sky deck and Europe’s highest swing (and a disco elevator to the heavens, that’s fun!).

 

Do you have questions or tips of your own? Do let us know in the comments.

Amsterdam is one of our very favourite cities so we’d love to have a conversation with you about it… you can find us on social media too.

Sarah & Cooper x

Christmas in Mallorca, Spain

The past few weeks in London had been cold – colder than I care for, but I had Christmas in Mallorca to look forward to! Work days at a top of 3 degrees, and when you top that off with a daily ride to work full of sniffly, coughing commuters, well, you can appreciate that we all need a little break come Christmastime.

I’d been very good [hello Santa] coming up to the festive period. One who enjoys the sparkly allure of a Christmas party, this year the late nights were kept in check, that is, until 22 December when a slew of happy events led me to being in a state not at all fit for a 4.30am rise.

We got through Stansted airport, fending off the rest of the Saturday morning school holiday rush. I thought I was doing well, despite the brain fog and living on the edge of severe grumpiness, only to get to security and realise my computer and liquids were inside my carry-on suitcase. I slid the laptop out through the side and attempted a very cunning manoeuvre to remove my plastic bag full of liquids, only for the entire suitcase to flip over on itself and for all the contents to scatter along the floor.

Oh yes, I was that person.

It would have been hilarious if only it wasn’t me. I’m sure for the hoards of holiday-goers trying to cope pre-caffeine it was hysterical. I didn’t look. I still can’t think too much about it.

Fortunately, just over two hours later, I was in Spain where I would happily take the sun and breezy 17 degrees by the marina – a pleasurable escape from the grey that has been my adopted home of the UK (I’m its biggest fan but even I need a little sunshine every now and then).

Thank the Universe for Christmas in Mallorca (sometimes spelled Majorca).

Then there was Spain

There really is something about Spain, for us at least.

We love the language and the accents and the culture. The sun and beaches are pretty nice too.

Last Christmas we defied tradition and visited Ibiza, a long-time dream destination of ours. It certainly did not disappoint and remains one of our favourite places. I’m looking forward to returning to that blissful, melodic island – probably in summer when everything is open!

We couldn’t get as far as home (Queensland), so wanted an Ibiza-esque Christmas experience in 2017. That is, sunshine, beautiful scenery and travel experiences, but with a little more actually happening over the festive break. After a long discussion where the list of possibilities became impossible (we just want to go everywhere!), one weekend in September we literally closed our eyes and put a virtual pin on Google Maps.

Mallorca (or Majorca) was the winner.

Is anything open at Christmas in Mallorca?

At Christmastime for most around the world, we all encounter the same thing which is a lack of activities, shopping and travel options on offer late December. Fair enough, this is a time for families and if you’re lucky enough to not be working, then so be it (you deserve it!).

As a visitor to a region though, we want to be able to take in a couple of new experiences, and my research indicated that while much of the island of Mallorca may not be open (some beach clubs operate seasonally across the summer months), the capital of Palma promised to be abuzz with plenty to do.

As it turns out, this is very true. Even London totally (totally!) shuts down on Christmas day, but in Mallorca the local buses were operating, as was City Sightseeing (hop on hop off bus tour) and many bars and restaurants opened their doors.

Winter in Mallorca – travel tips, transport and best-of

The weather in December averages a top of about 15 or 16 degrees. It’s warm in the sun but can be a little chilly if there’s a breeze, and the temperature does drop at night. It’s quite pleasant though.

The capital, Palma, is buzzing with plenty going on, so in the first instance wander the back streets, visit art galleries, take a look inside the old churches and try some tapas.

The Cathedral of Santa Maria of Palma (or La Seu) is unmissable, its Gothic structure standing tall over the city. Work on this cathedral began in the 13 Century, and famous architect Antoni Gaudí (who has left his stamp all over Barcelona) even spent time working on this structure between 1904 and 1914.

Another Gothic structure that’s well worth the trip to the top of a hill overlooking the city, is Bellver Castle. The only circular castle in all of Spain, this 14th Century structure is really interesting to explore, and with a huge bonus in that it boasts the best views across Mallorca.

Hire a bike and ride along the extensive promenade, explore the marinas and along the coast.

You could ride to, or take bus number 25 to nearby beach s’Arenal. Many beaches and beach clubs around the island are closed over winter but this is a nice area and some eateries and shops are open.

The bus system is quite easy to use, but you’ll need cash. A single fare is currently €1.50, and the driver can change up to a €10 note.

If you have spare time and in need of retail therapy, there’s plenty of stores and a mall in the city, and a large shopping destination called Porto Pi which you can take a bus or a cab to.

Another experience that was mentioned to us a few times was a steam train that runs between Palma and Soller on the other side of Mallorca.

The whole trip is about an hour and a half one way, and you can’t pre-book tickets. The line was closed for maintenance when we were there, but this seems like it would be a lovely thing to do. Do keep an eye on the timetable though, because return trip would need to be planned.

Christmas in Palma – dining ideas

To be honest, we didn’t have a bad meal here! I remember being concerned about what may not be open at Christmas in Mallorca but there’s no need to worry, you’ll have plenty to choose from even on 25 December.

Notable venues we found:

Lennox the Pub, for €2.50 glasses of wine and gorgeous bar ambience.

Cafeteria Tropic (opposite the marina and next to the Auditorium), for delicious tapas.

Hogan’s Live Music, Sports Bar & Restaurant for yummy burgers, pub menu and music.

Bodega can Rigo, in Palma town, a charismatic little restaurant and bar, excellent food and coffee and a popular bar since 1949. We literally stumbled across this place and loved it!

Chez Camille for a finer dining experience.

All of the above and much more was open on Christmas day. It’s quiet around 5pm so go for a wander and see what takes your fancy.

UK blog awards and our best of 2017

 

Wow, we just received an email from the UK Blog Awards team to let us know that we made it into the nominations for our vlog and travel blogging efforts during 2017!

 

We are always asked why we seem to be working all the time; why we can’t just take a weekend or a holiday and chill out? Well, to us our ‘break’ time is an opportunity to create.

To discover, share and inspire is where we are at, here on the blog and on our social media.

With that in mind, we are thrilled to be nominated in the vlog and travel blog categories in our adopted home of the UK.

This is the first round of the awards, and to move forward in such a competitive landscape, we do need your help.

If you’ve enjoyed our weekly vlogs, we’ve helped you along the journey somewhere, somehow, and you have a spare 60 seconds, we would be so grateful if you could put your vote in for us now. Click on the VOTE NOW image below.

 

Best of 2017

We’ve achieved a lot through our content this year, and love talking to you all each week on social media and catching up at travel and blogging events.

Thanks to each and every one of you for your continued support!

It’s nearly the end of the year and we’ve had a think about some of our favourite posts that you’ve told us you loved too.

1. Most romantic

The Emerald Isle never fails to charm, and a special photo feature developed in Ireland during the TBEX conference in October captured your attention too, with over 76,000 views. View the feature

2. Most viewed

We produced a series of vlogs in Malta during the year that were shared all over the place on Facebook – very exciting for us! Organic reach exceeded 80,000 as fans of this little island wished summer would never end. Find out more

3. Funniest moment

In one of our first vlogs of the year, we defied all sorts of traditions and went to Ibiza for Christmas. Party season it was not, as non-alcoholic beer was [unintentionally] on the menu. Watch the video blog

4. Best trip

We were lucky enough to collaborate with To Tuscany to discover one of the loveliest regions of the world – a must-visit for you all, and another reason why Italy is always a good idea. Read the story