Plitvice Lakes National Parks (+ a little bit of Zagreb)

Zagreb

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After Prague we took an all day train journey through the Czech Republic, Austria, and then the upper portion of Croatia heading for Zagreb.  Travel days, especially train travel days, quickly became an oddly comforting experience for me.  It was a day designated to doing (mostly) nothing and catching up on research for our next destination, book reading, picture editing, podcast listening, and (in Josiah’s case) napping.  After traveling by plane between our last few destinations I was excited to be on the train all day.  I had lots of time to research and decide on our final stop for this trip (the Dolomites, woot!), which felt relieving and exciting.  I also got sucked into this book, because dramatic love stories are the best, am I right? Or maybe that’s just me.

Anyway, we arrived in Zagreb late at night and explored a little bit of the city the following day.  We got in some shopping, a trip to the Museum of Broken Relationships, and a lovely dinner in a treehouse-like restaurant eating pizza and drinking rosé.  The next morning was stressful getting out of the city and I may have snapped at my mom like a big jerk (sorry Maj!).  But as we made our way out of the city and into the countryside the stress started to slide away bit by bit.  We made our way to Poljanak, where we stayed over the next couple of days exploring the Plitvice Lakes National Park.

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Plitvice Lakes National Park

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We immediately added the Plitvice Lakes to our list of places to visit after Josiah came across a picture on Instagram.  The colors already had us mesmerized and we were so excited to see them in person.  We stayed in a small house in Poljanak, a little village close to the lakes.  It was so quiet and comforting to be away from city noise and see green for miles and miles.  Our hosts mom let us into the house when we arrived, enthusiastically showing us around, bringing us bottles of sweet liqueur, and trying to communicate even though neither of us knew what the other was actually saying.

That first morning in Poljanak we woke up to a gray wall of clouds and the likelihood of rain all day long.  Undeterred by the inevitable rain we decided to do the long 13 mile loop around the lakes our first day (unless the skies were dumping crazy amounts of rain at which point we’d adjust accordingly).  Thankfully we only had gray clouds and drizzling skies for most of the day so we got to do our planned route and enjoyed most minutes of it.

The sheer beauty of this place is amazing.  It was yet another time on this journey that I found myself laughing randomly as I looked at my surroundings because I didn’t know how else to respond.  It was incredible; bright turquoise waters, electric green leaves, and white/gray cliffs that backdrop waterfall after waterfall.  Wooden plank paths wind over the lakes and skirt by the many waterfalls, and the long trail we hiked that first day took us into the surrounding forests with the lakes or a waterfall never far from view.  Josiah blissfully hiked the whole day in sandals and no shirt, spurring on lots of side eye glances and quiet chuckles as people passed.  And at the very end of our day the sun poked out from the clouds giving us a glimpse of what we’d see tomorrow.

Day two we woke up tired and with sore feet so we decided to do a combo of hiking, taking the ferry, and hopping on the bus to get to the higher lakes.  We were #blessed with a sunny day and were able to see how brilliant the colors of the Plitvice are when that yellow sun is shining down on them.  The crowds were a little heavier with the sun out but we navigated our way around the slow pokes, heading back to our favorite spots the previous day.  We also rented a row boat, all trying our hand at gracefully (or not so much) gliding our bodies through the water.  And after that we celebrated our rowing accomplishments and America’s independence (it was July 4th!) with some ice cream and more hiking.  As the day slowed to an end we took in as much beauty as our eyes and hearts could muster stealing one more look and taking one last picture before heading home.

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Prague

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Well, my hopes for blogging each city as we went through our trip slowly faded with each new place we went.  Once we hit Italy I realized I got way ahead of myself in my blogging expectations (and kind of gave up).  After slow internet, no internet, long days, and tired bones I realized I would be bringing the later half of the trip to this space for months to come following our adventures.

So there’s that, now lets talk about Prague.  While this beautiful red-roofed city was not the highlight of our trip we did enjoy our days strolling through old town, drinking beer at Letna Park, dodging rain showers, and finding fun food spots.  My mom met up with us here after her two week stint in England so our duo turned to a trio for a few weeks.  We dragged my her all over Prague (and then Croatia) keeping up with our long days of walking.  Most of our mornings were slow and spent lounging in our giant apartment.  Josiah and I had just been renting rooms up until this point so having a whole apartment (with a huge bathroom) felt like a treat.

We ended up eating quite a lot of delicious food over the 5 days that we were in Prague.  I wasn’t really sure what to expect food-wise but we picked some great places that have more modern takes on traditional Czech food and use lots of local, seasonal ingredients. We used the Taste of Prague blog and the suggestions of a few locals as a guide for where to eat and drink in the city. We also made sure to drink a decent amount of beer as it is literally cheaper than water.

Our third day we took a trip to the Bohemian Switzerland National Park to get out of the city and into a little bit of nature.  True to form, we packed that particular day full to the brim, doing two hikes and scheduling to go to a Prague Symphony Orchestra concert that night.  All was well and good until we got back to the train station and another downpour of rain started just as we were about to walk to our apartment.  We hopped into a (ridiculously expensive) cab, got ready real quick, ate a convenience store dinner, and headed to the concert.   Luckily, the concert was amazing and totally worth the rush to get there.  It was unexpectedly small and intimate.  There were about 10-12  members of the orchestra playing and two special guests.  They played pieces from Vivaldi, Beethoven, Mozart, and more.  It was all fantastic and one of our favorite things from Prague.

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View from the kitchen window at our Airbnb.

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Sisters Bistro serves up chlebicek, a traditional Czech open-faced sandwich, with a Scandanavian twist.  We tried the six pictured plus three more because when you’re hungry and tired these sandwiches seem tiny.

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We found another raclette cart (which you’ll know is a big deal if you read my rant about the first one we passed up)!  Even though we had just eaten roasted potatoes with sausage and dumplings with bacon we had to try it.  Unfortunately, it was a pretty big letdown and devoid of much flavor.

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Views from the top of Petrin Lookout Tower are beautiful but also very crowded. After we came down we sat on a bench near the tower for a couple of minutes before the first sudden down pour of the day came. Luckily we were sheltered by some trees and could it wait it out (mostly) dry.

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Colorful buildings spotted as we walked down Petrin Hill.

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We happened to stop at the Senate Palace gardens as we were walking from Petrin hill to Letna beer garden.  The garden was pretty and his wall is part of an artificial cave made of lime stone stucco stalactites.*  The best part of our quick stop here was the covered stage area that kept us from getting wet when the second down pour started.

*Info found at this website because I did not actually know what this wall was until I just googled it.

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More rain brewing as we walked up to Letna beer garden.

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Sappy beer gaze.

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Mom was super excited to sit down, have a beer, and eat some fried cheese. (I was too)

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Right after we sat down with our beer a third down pour started. We all laughed a little bit and thanked God for cover once again.

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Roasted beef knuckle, parsley salad, roasted carrots, spinach, potato dumplings, and grilled veggies from Cestr.

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Sunday morning walk to breakfast.

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Market meats.

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I mean, look at those skillets.  Is still a skillet when it’s that big?

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Waiting for a table at Savoy Cafe for brunch.

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Getting ready for the Astronomical clock to start doing its thing.

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Old Town Square.  I love all the colorful buildings!

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Day trip to Bohemian Switzerland.

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View from the top of Mariina Skala.

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Pravcicka Brana, the second largest sandstone bridge formation in Europe.  Some scenes from Chronicles of Narnia were filmed here too.

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Rudolfinum national concert hall.

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Our view during the Prague Symphony Orchestra concert.

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Post concert sunset.

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Lunch at Maso a Kobliha was delicious but the star was definitely dessert.  The vanilla cream stuffed doughnuts are pillow soft and so dreamy.

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Old Jewish Cemetery

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Nap time in the park.

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The Lennon Wall

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Finding a bit of inspiration.

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Cobblestones and crowded streets.

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Another trip to the beer gardens on a sunny afternoon.  Our friend, Rebecca, was in Prague at the same time we were so we got to meet up!

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Meatloaf from Nase Maso Butchery was the perfect post beer dinner.  I don’t eat much meatloaf but this was definitely the best I’ve had.

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Last day in Prague!

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St. Vitus Cathedral from the side.

We had done a free walking tour of Old Town Prague and it was great so we decided to do a tour of Prague Castle as well.  Unfortunately it was not worth the time or the money. We spent about half our tour time riding the bus up to the castle and taking breaks so our guide could eat lunch.

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After our tour we walked toward the Prague Castle Gardens because the views of the city are fantastic. You have to pay to walk through the gardens but the price of admission was worth the solitude and the break from the crowds.

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We had our last, and favorite, meal at Nota Bene. Craft beer, seasonal ingredients, beautiful presentations, and cozy atmosphere.  What’s not to love?

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And that’s all from Prague!

Copenhagen

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I pretty much knew zero things about Copenhagen before going there.  Our sister-in-law Camila had spent time there and was so emphatic about the city that her enthusiasm sparked us to add it to our trip line up. And I’m so glad that we did because I loved it and I hope we get to go back someday. 

I was so naive about Copenhagen that I didn’t realize what a food centric city it is.  As you know by now, food is bae in our books so before leaving Amsterdam we started doing a little research on food in Copenhagen.  I’d been following Mad about Copenhagen on Insta so I knew we were getting ourselves into some tasty endeavors up north.  Our research for more budget friendly eateries led us to two places right away: Copenhagen Street Food, which is housed in an old warehouse on Papioren (Paper Island) and Torvehallerne Market, just minutes from our Airbnb and filled with great food vendors.  I don’t think I can even say we scratched the surface of food in Copenhagen which only means one thing – we must return! 

In between eating we saw a few sights, rode a roller coaster in Tivoli Gardens, and got in a semi-big argument.  Mostly, we just wandered aimlessly until the next time we got to eat.

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We came to Kalaset for brunch our first morning.  The inside has a 70’s-ish vibe going on and lots of outdoor seating.

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We shared a mixed plate that had scrambled eggs, falafel, hummus, fruit, toast and potatoes.  Annnd, chocolate banana pancakes that were incredible.  The pancakes themselves had so much flavor and you can never go wrong with a topping of bananas and chocolate.  They also make their own jams and nutella so I pretty much wanted to move in.

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Views from the top of The Round Tower.

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I love the colors in Copenhagen.

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There was an exhibit in The Round Tower called Greetings from Denmark.  People around the country tagged their instagram photos with #greetingsfromdenmark to show still life pictures of the country.  It was really cool!

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Rosenborg Castle

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Rosenborg Gardens

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Selfie at the Botanical Garden.

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Istid is a liquid nitrogen ice cream bar.  I know… what?!  They make the ice cream right before you eyes using kitchen aid mixers, house made ice cream base, and liquid nitrogen.  Novel, no doubt, and the ice cream was pretty tasty (although not the best I’ve ever had).  It was more of a fun one time experience.

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I think I just got vanilla ice cream (can’t remember!) with an oat crumble on top.

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Torvehallerne, a beautiful food market (or food farm as Josiah likes to call it).

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Josiah’s paleo bowl that could’ve used a touch more salt.

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My duck confit sandwich from Ma Poule.

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Coffee soft serve (!!!!) from Coffee Collective.  Dangerously creamy and so delicious.

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Grod: the worlds first porridge bar.  We came here for breakfast one morning because all the reviews said it was great.  All the reviews were right!

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Barley porridge with hazelnuts, rhubarb compote, and Skyr (Icelandic yogurt).  We also got a chia seed pudding bowl with fresh fruit and nuts.

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Cappuccino from the Coffee Collective.

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After porridge Josiah needed eggs so we came here.

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Mikkeller & Friends bottle shop at Torvehallerne.  If I had room I would’ve brought some bottles back!

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Searching for a massage for Jos proved to be a very frustrating experience. But we finally found someone to work on his shoulder and we only fought a little bit and I only cried once during the whole extravaganza.

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Alone time for me while Jos got his massage.

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The Old Stock Exchange

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Mikkeller Bar

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This was my Vesterbro Spontan Sour and Jos had the American Dream, a hoppy lager.

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Copenhagen Street Food: warehouse filled with street food vendors and lots of outdoor seating on the dock.

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You know you’re in the right place when there’s a silver cow hanging from the ceiling.

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Copper and Wheat french fries twice fried in duck fat and the most flavorful french fries I’ve ever had… we didn’t even need those dipping sauces they were so good on their own.

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Porchetta sandwich!

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We claimed a couple of lounge chairs on the dock, drank beer, and people watched all evening.  One of my favorite nights of the trip!

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Free cheesecake that Josiah pawned off the two girls sitting in front of us.  I’d been eyeing it all night and when I went to use the restroom Josiah slide into their conversation and started asking about the cheesecake and told them we’d take it if they didn’t want to finish it. I’m pretty sure they thought he was joking.  As we were leaving he offers them our chairs and asks for the dessert one more time.  I walked away, they laughed, he laughed, they handed it over, and our night was complete.

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Josiah was all about the protein this particular morning at The Greasy Spoon.

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Bacon & egg breakfast sandwich x 2 for me.

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Tivoli Gardens reminded me of going to Disneyland as a kid and really made me want to go back.

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The big roller coaster!  So fun until we stepped off the ride and Josiah immediately felt motion sick. ha!

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This is one of my favorite things we’ve eaten on this whole trip.  Yes, the whole trip.  You might have your eyebrows raised and questioning my tastebuds because the picture above is clearly of a hotdog.  I might have the same reaction if it was someone else was parading a hot dog in my face calling it a “favorite food.”  But you guys, OMG THIS HOTDOG.  First, it’s not just a hotdog, it’s an organic pork sausage with Danish North Sea cheese (what?!).  And that’s no ordinary bun, it’s a sourdough bun lightly toasted so that you get a little crunch but it doesn’t tear your mouth apart while eating it.  It’s topped with ketchup, mustard, fried onions, and pickles.  If we’d have come here on our first day in Copenhagen instead of our last I have no doubt that we would’ve eat like 13 over that 3 day period.

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Enough food pictures – this is Nyhavn in early evening.

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We took a canal tour our last day.  The views were decent but our tour “guide” was so bad it just became hilarious.

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Circle bridge

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We’ll end things here … before I start talking about the hotdog again.

 

Amsterdam

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I’m not really even sure what to say about Amsterdam, which is odd because I loved it so much.  We didn’t do anything particularly amazing or adventurous.  There’s nothing that stands high above the rest of our experiences beyond the comfort of being there.  It kind of felt like home – and reminded us quite a lot of Portland – which made being in the city easy and (mostly) relaxing.  We walked the canals, ate delicious food, drank good beer and wine, and took our days relatively slow.  The rain came and went pushing us inside on more occasions than we’d usually like, but looking back on it now the rain made us slow down a bit.  It gave us pause and permission to be inside and allowed us to just “be” and not constantly “do.”

Our days usually revolved around what we were going to eat and when (naturally), and we even were able to cook breakfast at our place a few times!  We stayed further out of the main center of Amsterdam and we loved it.  We were close enough to walk everywhere but away from the crowds.  Our street was lined with shops, restaurants, and a couple of grocery stores, and our small room had a balcony that we got to use when the sun peaked it’s head out.

I became obsessed  with the canals and the buildings, taking way too many pictures, which you’ll see below.  And I thought Portland had a lot of bike commuters but Amsterdam showed me otherwise.  Everyone bikes there and you better stay out of their way or they’ll run you over and curse you with cancer.  We stuck mostly to walking with the exception of the peddle boat that we took through the canals one afternoon (and loved). It was so fun to see the city from the water.

Good food was pretty easy to find in Amsterdam.  We went to Foodhallen, an indoor food hall converted from the old train station, a couple of times because the options were plenty and the food was delicious.  We couldn’t pass up fries (who can?) so we enjoyed a paper cone filled with fried taters on a couple occasions.  We also tried come local craft beer in Amsterdam and Haarlem, and went to the loveliest natural wine bar one afternoon just before the rain started coming down.  Our bellies were full and happy, our tastebuds satisfied, and I can’t wait to go back someday.

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Stephanie and I grew up together and hadn’t seen one another since high school. She’s living in Amsterdam for the year working as an Au Pair so we got to catch up over beers and get the lowdown on Amsterdam from her.

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Caught in the rain during our walking tour.

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Flowers at the Albert Cuypmarkt, a street market in the De Pijp neighborhood.

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All smiles after we got off the peddle bikes.

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Tiny houses, Amsterdam style.

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Those yellow doors!

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Views of the canal from the peddle bike.

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The World Press Photo Exhibition was fantastic.

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The Rijksmuseum and a people filled I Amsterdam sign.

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Our day trip to Haarlem was kind of blah, but we got to see this windmill have local craft beer at Jopen

Amsterdam Eats

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Left: Afternoon snack from Vlaams Friteshuis Vleminckx.  Best fries we had in Amsterdam.

Right: Picked up some fries as we strolled to our apartment right after arriving at central station.

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A beautiful place to spend a rainy afternoon sipping on natural wines.

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Gamay Noir + Castelvetrano Olives

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Cappuccino from Scandinavian Embassy.

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Cinnamon bun from Scandinavian Embassy.  I don’t usually like cinnamon buns but this was delicious.

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Breakfast toasts with miso, avocado, eggs, olives, and feta from Coffee and Coconuts, a former cinema in the 20’s converted to a multi-level restaurant/coffee shop.

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FEBO, a fast food/vending machine mash up.

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The Meets – I loved the decor, and the food was simple and healthy.  We ate here for dinner and breakfast.

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My main man.

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Breakfast at The Meets!  Kale fritata, toast, and salad.

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Craft beer from Jopen, an old church converted into a brewery.

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Fresh stroopwafel! Hot molasses-y syrup sandwiched between waffel-like wafers.

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WTF?

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Sweet potato fries topped with truffle mayo, arugula, and sunflower seeds.  Perfectly salty, full of flavor, and the only sweet potato fries I want to eat for the rest of my life.  These were an appetizer to burgers and more fries (#allthefriedfood).

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The second time we went to Foodhallen we picked up this mezze plate. Those falafel were solid.

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Chocolate coffee, chocolate hazelnut, and raspberry pistachio tarts from Delicious Tarts at Foodhallen.

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IPA and bitterballen (basically fried gravy) at Tapzuid.

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One more canal photo for good measure!

Paris

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We’re that annoying couple that got to go to Paris on their honeymoon and loved it.  So naturally our hopes and expectations for the second go-around were pretty high (at least mine were).  I wanted the experience to be the same as the last — picnics in front of the Eiffel Tower, nutella banana crepes everyday, and experiencing new sites together. But this time it was different.  And that’s okay, but it takes a while or a little bit of effort for it to be okay even though it’s different.

Our first afternoon in Paris was like reacquainting with a friend that talks nonstop.  It was busy and noisy and we needed to adjust.  We’d just been in quiet, introverted San Sebastian and now we were hanging out with loud mouthed, extroverted Paris.  Needless to say, as two introverts ourselves, we were a bit overwhelmed.  We found our groove eventually and saw new sights, ate delicious food (mostly brunch and pastries), and enjoyed the days we had in the city of light. But… oh I hate that there is a but!… we didn’t love it like we loved it last time. I almost hate to admit that because my heart for Paris was on par with my 14 year old heart for Josiah (ie, majorly enchanted by those good looks).

But, despite the difference between this visit and the last we had some great experiences that will be highlights of our trip in their own right.  First, and most important, was the brunch we had (twice) at Holybelly.  Holy it was – probably the best brunch we’ve ever had (and we’ve had a lot).  When you see the photos below you might think, “this is the best you’ve ever had?” and YES it was.  The food was simple and perfect; creamy eggs, crispy bacon, crunchy on the outside and tender in the middle hash browns.  I think there are a lot of places that make really good eggs, bacon, and hash browns, but Holybelly stands above them all with both fists pumping in the air and rays of sunlight shining down upon it (whoa, I went a little overboard there but I think you get the point now).  Besides the food, everyone working were incredibly welcoming and made us feel at home.  I wish we could transplant this place to Portland.

The most unique experience we had in Paris was funneling ourselves into the fan zone, set up right behind the Eiffel Tower, for the first game in this years Eurocup between France and Romania.  France is the host country this year so everyone was pumped.  There were so many people, lots of yelling, lots of chanting, and lots of beer getting thrown on us.  It was almost as exciting as eating the hash browns at Holybelly!  We also walked a ridiculous amount (two 15 mile days in a row followed by a 13er), ate passionfruit macaroons, had a picnic in the park, and sat in the Jardin de Tuileries staring into the fountains and watching the baby ducks.

You know, all in all, Paris is still pretty magical.

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View from our room in the 15th Arrondissement.

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Les Invalides

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HOLYBELLY

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I love that water spout.

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I could wax poetic all day about those eggs and hash browns…

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JoJo B at Notre Dame.

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Best cream puffs in Paris.  Pistachio, Salted Caramel, Chocolate, and Pistachio.

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The Louvre!

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Jardin de Tuileries

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Arc de Triomphe – the first time I went to Paris this was the first monument I saw.  We drove past it and I was in awe.  Time two and three have been just as enchanting for me.

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Espressoooooo

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Bacon, egg, and cheese breakfast sandwich at Frenchie-To-Go.

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Pont Alexandre III

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Eurocup/Eiffel Tower – everyone was still waiting for France to score.

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All lit up instead.

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I’ll take two of each. 🙂

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Picnic at Parc de Sceaux.

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This only about 1/4 of the park!

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Macaroons at Lauduree.

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Macaroons from Pierre Herme.  My favorites were the ones with passion-fruit.  Jos loved the very top, which was olive oil vanilla.

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Another view from Jardine de Tuileries.

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Monmarte, 18th Arrondissement.

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Goobs.

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Sacre Cour.

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View from Sacre Cour.

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Bubblegum building in Montmarte.

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Paris Brest – named after the cycling race from Paris to Brest because the cyclists ate this pastry for it’s high caloric intake.  I ate one after a long day of walking so I felt pretty good about life.

San Sebastian

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We almost didn’t make San Sebastian part of our trip but decided to squeeze in a couple of days here between Barcelona and Paris.  It was definitely worth the squeeze and we could’ve spent several more days exploring the food scene, hiking the mountains, and laying on the beach.  The pictures speak for themselves, but San Sebastian is a beautiful place.  The green blue water is crystal clear in parts and deep blue in others and the dark green mountains provide a beautiful contrast to the water below.  Besides the nature views the town is also really pretty with architecture that reminded me of Paris and a clean promenade by the water to take in the views.  The food scene is littered with Michelin star restaurants, pinxtos bars, and delicious fresh produce from local farms so whether you want a simple picnic to eat at the beach, a hoity-toity dinner, or to bar hop all day long this place have has you covered.

San Sebastian was a bit up and down for us despite all the great things it had to offer.  Our bodies were sick (me) and tired (Josiah) and we were struggling on more than one occasion to not let our bad mood or grumpy feelings take over completely.  I wrote a bit more about that here and have taken the lesson of practicing gratitude for the small things with me in the weeks since.  It’s usually the moments of total frustration when I don’t want to be grateful for anything that I have to force myself to see the small bits of light all around.  It’s also a reminder that it doesn’t matter where I am in the world, what I’m seeing, or who I’m with frustration, bad days, and moments where I just want to sit on the curb and cry a little bit will follow me.  It’s life and it’s inevitable, but God keeps meeting me in those places with gentle nudges to find the good.

Lastly, our room was crazy!  The building we stayed in seemed it was caving inward and the slant in the floor of our room made me dizzy every time I stood up.  We were also really close to the church so the bells in the tower rang every hour and Josiah about lost his marbles.  But, for $35 dollars a night I guess you can’t expect the Ritz.

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First glimpses of La Concha Beach – mouths dropped, eyes wide open with delight.

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The beach got pretty crowed in the afternoon as the water slivered the sand away and pushed everyone back toward the promenade.

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Zurriola bridge on a cloudy morning before our Pinxtos tour.

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Cappuccinos from Sakona Coffee Roasters.

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First stop on our pinxtos tour.  We went to five different pinxto bars so we got to try five pinxtos and five different wines or ciders.

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Green on green on green.

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Delicious Iberico ham!

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Josiah showing his quality.

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Oh heeeey.

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L O V E

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Out to Eat in Barcelona

We really hopped on the brunch train in Barcelona and loved every minute of it.  Late morning meals to fuel our long days of walking (or beach sitting) were a great start to our day.  We also had a few good dinners out and tasty treats to appease our (mostly my) sweet tooth. Here are some of the places and things that we ate!

Federal Cafe

We went to Federal Cafe on our first morning in Barcelona after Josiah did some extensive brunch research.  The place was super cute (I wish I had more pictures of it!) with big windows, lots of light, and a cozy modern vibe. We sat at the community table and ordered cappuccinos to start. I made the better decision between the two of us because I ordered the bacon breakfast burger (egg, bacon, caramelized onions, and tomato jam… woot!) and Josiah ordered avocado toast with a poached egg on top.  The toast was okay – hey you can’t go wrong with fat and carbs, right? – but my sandwich clearly superior and one of the better breakfast sandwiches I’ve partaken in over my 28 years of life.

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Creamy egg yolk, meaty savory flavors from the bacon, sweetness from the caramelized onion, and a touch of tartness from the tomato jam all brought together by a soft easy-to-bite-through bun — perfection.

Brunch and Cake

The wait outside of Brunch and Cake was reminiscent of our Portland brunch experiences so we hunkered down and expected to be staring longingly at other peoples food for an hour or so before we got our names called.  Thankfully the wait time was pretty short and we were seated at another community table within 20 minutes.  We sat with a younger couple from the east coast and a trio from Canada.  All of the plates were beautifully laid out, portion sizes were huge, and most options were relatively healthy.

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We had cappuccinos to start again as well as a fruit/veggie smoothie.

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Josiah’s pick was scrambled eggs with mushrooms and a bagel with spinach and cream cheese.

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Mine was a sweet/savory combo – Salad with poached eggs, avocado, and strawberries plus a bagel with house-made hazelnut butter, mango and maple syrup.

OMA Bistro

Our favorite brunch spot in Barcelona was OMA Bistro.  We went back a second time (and got the same thing) because we enjoyed it so much.  It was all simple but really delicious, and having straightforward fried eggs and bacon was just what we wanted.  The big windows let in so much beautiful sunshine and I could’ve sat there for hours drinking espresso and watching Barcelona go by.

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Taranna Bar and Cafe

We went to Taranna for dinner one night and shared a few plates.  Most notably was the burrata with arugula, tomato, and pine nuts.  After our burrata experience in London we were kind of on a burrata kick so we were so happy to see it as a special on their menu that night.

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Tropico

I wish I had better photos from Tropico, but the table we were sitting at didn’t have the best lighting and most of my photos turned out worse than the arepas you’ll see down below.  As with the other places we went, the decor and ambiance was great — tropical (duh), lots of deep green colors, and a huge world map mural in the back section.  We ordered hummus with pita and veggies, an acai bowl, and arepas stuffed with scrambled eggs.  The arepas came with avocado and grilled plantains, which ended up being our favorite part of the meal.  The plantains were kind of caramelized with a nice crunch on the outside and topped with a bit salt – so delicious!

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Chok

I can’t walk by a window filled with beautifully enticing chocolates and decorated doughnuts without taking notice and making a mental note to come back.  Which is exactly what I did the first time we passed by Chok.  At Chok, they love chocolate (who doesn’t?) and their two locations are filled with their unique creations.  Their signature dessert, the chok, is a lighter doughnut glazed and topped with various flavors.  It was hard to pick but when the woman helping me said gianduja (chocolate hazelnut) I knew I’d met my match.

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Churreria San Roman

Now, I went to Disneyland quite often as a kid so I’ve had my fair share of Churros, but Disneyland ain’t got nothing on these (surprise, surprise right?) We walked by this place several time without giving it much thought, but on our last night in Barcelona there was a line out the door so we stopped.  I peeked in the window at all the filled churros, deliberated for .02 seconds and got in line.  The guy that owns the shop was super friendly and joking around with Josiah.  After a few mandatory photos we each took one and had our first bite.  A few chuckles and a lot of “omg these are so good,” occurred as we passed bites back and forth. Chocolate was the uncontested winner (duh).

Once we get back to Portland I’ll be hitting up 180 Xurros to get my fried dough fix. IMG_1170IMG_1168