Top 5 Things to Do in Amsterdam.

I’ve written about all of the things below in greater detail, but if you’re planning a trip to Amsterdam in the near future, these are the condensed top 5 things i would recommend doing! (See all my writing on Amsterdam here.)

1. Albert Cuyp Market. If you want to see a local side of town, this – the oldest street market in the Netherlands – is it. The market is exploding in stalls of things to try – everything from frites stands (mmm!) to lingerie shops. We took a full morning to peruse the selection and mostly ate our way through, devouring a powder-sugar-covered waffle at Wally’s Wafels and gorging ourselves on local olives. The prices are unparalleled for such gourmet food! (The market runs Monday – Saturday, 9 am – 5 pm).

top 5 - market

2. A Bike Tour. Really, i’m sure any company will do you just fine; Mike’s Bikes was great for the youthful, edgy side of Amsterdam (if a little heavy on the information about weed and prostitution for people not looking for that sort of entertainment) but if you want to get the lay of the land hop on a bike and go. It is the local way of getting around, after all!

shop cats make for the best bikes!

shop cats make for the best bikes!

3. The Van Gogh Museum. While the actual Van Gogh museum was undergoing renovations whilst we were in Amsterdam, the Hermitage Museum displayed the bulk of the collection in a special exhibit. Regardless of their housing, Van Gogh’s paintings come alive off the walls and force you to pay attention to their kinetic, vibrant energy. Though this is on the pricier end of Amsterdam museums, it is worth every cent!

vincent

4. Dam Square. Though this is certainly the touristy center, there are so many great little shops to peak in (and wonderful people-watching!).  As a connoisseur of cheesy souvenirs, i loved shopping in Dam Square Souvenirs which is full of beautiful – if pricey – wooden shoes and other lovely Holland-themed merchandise. The best part, though, is the enormous yellow wooden shoe outside. Free mega-tourist-photo-op!

top 5 - souvenirs

5. Eat. Anything, really, but especially the bread, cheese, sausage, and frites! The Albert Cuyp Market is definitely the place to eat your way through, but don’t let your gastronomical exploits end there. Our favorite restaurant was van Kerkwijk, in Amsterdam Centruum. The menu is recited by the wait staff, who are warm and friendly folk, and it’s a selection abrim in quirky combinations (like steak slathered in strawberry sauce and goat cheese – shockingly good!). Another great place was right next to our hotel, the Café Onder de Ooievaar – the cheese and sausage plate made for a sumptuous late-night snack!

top 5 - eat

Bon voyage!

Highly Honorable Mentions:

The Anne Frank House (it was a wee bit crowded for this claustrophobic, but still very powerful – book tickets online & try to go first thing in the morning, rather than in the afternoon!)

if you like my condensed travel reviews, you’d probably like my tripadvisor profile!

current jam: ‘shake it out’ florence + the machine.

best thing: magna carterrrrr!

 

The Essentials for Any Road Trip

I am, dearest friends, at long last in NYC with my beautiful and hospitable cousins. Yesterday was mostly comprised of the nine-hour drive, getting a little lost in Westchester, clementines, the Jersey Turnpike, and a lot of Ke$ha. It was in the midst of this revelry that it occurred to me how well-suited i have become, of late, to road tripping.

My whole life my parents have conditioned me to be a good traveler.  My father taught me how to pack, navigate, and explore a new place to uncover its best hidden restaurant or secretly amazing museum, whereas my mother deemed i take necessary relaxation time so as to fully enjoy the adventures to be had. Both lessons of equal merit in my mind. When i embarked on my first only-friends road trip to Vermont and Montréal last year (and by this, i mean no parents to guide or purchase snacks) i knew i was ripe and ready to head out on the open road because of their endless advice and our innumerable trips. While the trip to Montréal had a few snafus (mainly getting out of the city when it’s predominantly one-way roads and Google Maps has failed you (again)) i was pretty pleased that we, my friends and i, accomplished such a task.

And, as i’ve now taken three such road trips with only friends (said trip to Montréal; to Cape Cod and back; to Washington D.C. and onwards to North Carolina) and something like seven or eight road trips total since this time last year, i do feel as though i’ve learned a thing or two about what can make or break a good driving excursion.

Therefore, i share with you (and invite your own addendums!) an updated Traveler’s Tips from Lizzie List: The Road Trip Edition.

(please note: all of these tips are in addition to the aforementioned overarching Traveling Tips Page, so read those first if you haven’t already!)

Tip #1: Bring Snacks

I tend to prefer of the healthy-ish variety (like clementines or trail mix) only because i never seem to have any luck finding all-natural-organic-granola-hewn-by-fair-trade-self-employed-women-in-developing-nations in your average gas station. Okay, maybe that was a little stab at my Carrboro roots, but still. Snacking on the road is key, and you never want to run dry of such supply – particularly when you’re driving through Southern Vermont. Nothing for miles, to the untrained eye…bringing me to:

Tip #2: Try for the Best Exits

As i learned when driving to upstate VT, often the signs for food at exits can be several miles away from the highway itself. For this reason, i advise the snacks – but also encourage you to employ the food-rife and gas station-plenty exits when you have the chance. Also, ensure you have the necessary cash or credit to use with at pay at the pump equipment. Granted, anywhere around major metropolises is going to have plenty of rest-friendly places, but when in the more rural areas: take it while you can!

Tip #3: Read Maps and Directions AHEAD OF TIME.

This, more than anything else, would be my biggest chunk of advice. So often in the GPS Generation we rely on KittyKat and TomSlom or whatever to guide us, somewhat blindly, to our destinations. This frightens me for two reasons: 1. Clearly, Cthulu has simply manipulated all of our minds (probably with the help of The Silence) to go only where he sees the ends being fit, and 2. When the battery runs out, your GPS spontaneously combusts, or you deviate from the path – what then? I’m not saying to chuck out the GPS from your car (i borrow my mother’s on occasion and, when lost in Westchester, it proves to be incredibly useful) but i recommend making it a secondary guide. Read the map yourself to get a broader idea of where you’re headed and possible intersections that lead to less-insane highways. In fact, such knowledge of the map might benefit you if there’s insane traffic you wish to avoid.

Most of all, though, read the directions beforehand. I always print out GoogleMaps or MapQuest directions even with the GPS and Road Atlas (kept in my car) and read them long before hitting the road – especially when the trip encompasses two days on I-95. It helps to have the complete map in my mind, but also to see when you’re going to be making thirteen turns in the span of two miles.

With this, though, comes tip #4…

Tip #4: When Possible, Have an Excellent Navigator

Which also includes sub-tip: be a good navigator. My friends have endured nothing less than navigator boot camp from me (sorry, ladies and lads) as i learned from my father. Read the directions clearly, citing the distance both in mileage and in estimated time. If it’s one of those famous OH-MY-ROWLING-WE-HAVE-TO-MAKE-TWELVE-TURNS-ON-ONE-WAY-STREETS-IN-THE-NEXT-FIVE-MINUTES endeavors known to me in D.C. and Montréal, prep the driver wayyy ahead of time with “In about half an hour, we’ll take a right onto Hermione Knows Best Dr. Immediately to our left, then, we’ll make a U-Turn on top of another car at a red light to swivel as fast as possible onto Fred Weasley Remembrance Way.” (Et cetera). A good driver, in my personal opinion, will repeat back to the navigator what they just heard to ensure clarity.

Ultimately, though, the navigator is watching the road almost as much as the driver when enduring such hairy routes. They’re the driver’s wing-men and chicken wings through ice and purple elephant blockages.*

And, finally…

Tip #5: Music. Have it.

As a DJ, i like to think i make a pretty decent playlist mix. But don’t take it from me (she said, patting herself on the back and enjoying a shaken-not-stirred martini on the sands of Baja). For this reason, i like to make extensive, tailored-to-trip-time road trip mixes for the journey, each unique to the people i’m with. While i’m a stickler for the my-car-my-music rule, i try to accommodate other people’s tastes into the hours of music. For example: drives with my dad will always include some classic rock (ish) stuff (Billy Joel, Elton John, the Beatles) as well as our mutual favorites: Mumford & Sons, the Avett Brothers, and such soothing tunes that Rihanna makes. For my friends, mixes tend to include Ke$ha, Lady GaGa, Pitbull, Darren Criss, Ke$ha, and Lady GaGa (maybe that’s more for me, in the end, but…). Whatever your taste, be it audiobooks or music, i endorse a hearty playlist to pass the time.

And now, when it’s T-Minus 8 HOURS TO MEETING JOHN AND HANK GREEN, i need a shower.

current jam: ‘DFTBA’ hank green

best thing in my life right now: I AM MEETING JOHN AND HANK GREEN TODAY.

*these can happen. literally, i have been stuck behind a purple elephant in the middleofnowhere, virginia.

Traveling Tips From Lizzie!

Frequently in the emails i receive from all of you lovely readers i am asked a question usually along the lines of the following:

“Do you have any advice for traveling? I’m going [PLACE], what should i bring?”

I adore getting emails from you all, but as i don’t ever seem to have enough time to answer them all as fully as i’d like to (but believe me, i do read every one!) i wanted to post a FAQ-type answer to this prevalent question. Yet an FAQ page didn’t seem exactly adequate, so instead i am proud to release the answer page to this one very specific question for all of your reading enjoyment! [cue studio applause]

So, if you’ve ever wondered what i might suggest in terms of traveling tips, wandering woes righted, and general advice for going abroad or voyaging across your home country, feel free to check out the new “travel tips” page up at the top bar. Let me know if you love it, hate it, used the tips, or have any advice of your own to add!

Oh, and in a kind-of-vaguely-relate note, my favorite photos taken from my trip to London are now published on my facebook, and you can have a look by clicking here!

current jam: ‘superbass’ nicki minaj (i’m in a bit of an obsessive phase, if you follow me)

best thing in my life right now: blue nail polish.