The Art of Rest

Author: Ruthie Pollard 

IMG_5795.JPG

As I write, a crisp breeze settles into the summer night, a reminder that August is winding down. Families are heading off on their last vacation, and kids are back to school shopping. Summer is a peaceful time for most people, life seems to halt for two months of sunny bliss and beach filled weekends. But when September comes, so does the rat race! I want to share some tips to keep in mind when things get busy. To develop a peaceful mindset in our hectic culture takes intentionality. 

More Hush, less Hustle

“They are opening the first Starbucks in Milan this year.” My friend somberly stated as we chatted about our time in Italy. A culture that takes so much pride in their coffee will now be rocked by a world of to-go cups and entitled customers. My hope is that this will not be the case, one of the things I appreciated most about the country was their ability to find the hush in the hustle. Restaurants never asked if you were ready for the check, because they didn't want to interrupt a relaxing time with friends and family. It really helped me to reflect on the importance of being present, and treasuring time spent with loved ones no matter how busy life gets.  

Prioritize Rest

Maybe this means you choose not to go out on Friday night. Maybe your plans are literally Netflix and ice cream. For an extroverted introvert such as myself, it can be hard to turn down a fun event but we can't forget to have downtime. It give us time to recharge. I usually look at my weekend and set aside either a night or morning of rest. This sets the tone for my week. 

Re-Evaluate How Time is Spent

Consider coming off Facebook during busy seasons. Sometimes I'll deactivate for a month and it's the best thing ever. Social media may seem like a good way to zone out but scrolling through an endless feed can open up the door to life comparison and allowing ourselves to get consumed with negative news. Some alternatives: read a book for leisure, listen to a good podcast, or go on a nature walk. There are times when it's hard to reach a place of peace because of turmoil happening around us. In this time I am reminded of Matt. 11:28, "Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." We were never meant to bear the weight of the world on our shoulders, but there is One who did for us. Spending time in worship and prayer centers our heart around what truly matters. 

xox, 

Ruthie

 

Becky's Berry Healthy Smoothie Recipe

Author: Becky Sizelove

It's summer time and I've been beating the heat with smoothies. I started adding in Trader Joe's pea protein powder but wasn't a fan of the taste - until I created the most amazing concoction! I love this smoothie so much that I had to share the recipe. It's packed with nutrition but tastes like an exotic tropical day at the beach. 

Ingredients:

  • 1 banana
  • 8 ounces Trader Joe's orange mango juice
  • 1 cup baby kale
  • 1 cup baby spinach
  • 1 cup mixed fruit (I used strawberry, blueberry and mango chunks)
  • 5 ice cubes
  • 2 scoops Trader Joe's organic pea protein powder

Directions:

First blend the banana and juice together until mixed thoroughly. I blend in stages so that I get the right consistency and my blender doesn't go on the fritz with too much to blend all at once. After the banana and juice are mixed, add in the kale and spinach, blend. Finally, add in the mixed fruit, ice and protein powder, blend again. Then enjoy! This recipe is super simple and the end result enables me to consume kale without realizing it (yay!). 

Road Trip to Prince Edward Island

Author: Ruthie Pollard 

I don’t know what lies around the bend, but I’m going to believe that the best does.
— Anne of Green Gables

When I was a little girl I got lost in the world of Anne of Green Gables. A world of optimism, kindred spirits, and rolling green fields. It was my dream to experience Prince Edward Island in all it's beauty. I was so excited when a friend of mine suggested a summer trip to the island. Four of us piled into a mini-van and headed up the east coast for a road trip to Anne's land! This post will feature some of our favorite stops highlights of the trip. 

Charlottetown 

This was the hub of our journey, a central point on the island. We just so happened to travel up on Canada Day which also happened to be...Canada's 150th birthday. The town was buzzing with celebration - free pins, special events, and tall boats in the harbor. In town, we were able to stop at the Anne of Green Gables Store and dine at some of the islands' best restaurants. We also saw two amazing shows that I highly recommend, Anne of Green Gables at The Confederation Centre of the Arts and Anne and Gilbert at The Guild. 

Green Gables 

The woods were God’s first temples. One can’t help feeling reverent and adoring in such a place. I always feel so near Him when I walk among the pines.
— Anne of Green Gables

Ah yes, the highlight of our journey. In the small town of Cavendish sits the house that inspired it all. The quaint white house with green shutters is decorated to look just as the book describes. After touring the house, you can enjoy a refreshing raspberry cordial and take a walk down Lovers Lane and The Haunted Woods. My favorite place was author L.M Montgomery's homestead. The path to the home was lined with white flowers and ran parallel to the meadow that she saw out her window each morning. After a day at Green Gables we headed down the street for some food and shopping at Avonlea Village. 

Our Anne journey was not complete without a trip to the Anne of Green Gables Museum. L.M Montgomery spent time here at her relatives home and it inspired many parts of the book. The rooms overlook the beautiful "Lake of Shining Waters." If you want to get real touristy, they offer "Matthew's Carriage Ride" around the lake. 

 

PEI Beaches 

Aside from all the Anne things, I was most looking forward to going to the beaches. Prince Edward Island is known for their red sand and cliffs. We went to three beaches, and each one was enchanting. 

Greenwich Beach

This was the first beach we visited, and it was a lovely introduction to the island. The greenery around the beach was stunning and under the crystal blue sky, the colors were vivid. 

IMG_5087.JPG

Thunder Cove

I was thrilled to get to this beach! Besides the stunning red cliffs lining the shore, there were red caves and a large rock structure known as "Teacup Rock." In order to get to the rock at high tide, you had to go under the rock caves and through the waves. It was an adventure that was well worth getting soaked!

Penmure Island

The beach has it's own restaurant that offers a take-out service where they bring your food out to you on the beach. Walking the beach looked like something out of Pirates of the Caribbean with neon green seagrass, cliffs and lots of driftwood. Down the street from this beach is the oldest light house on the island where you can climb to the top for a picturesque view.

Island Food 

Potatoes, potatoes, po-ta-toes. I can't even describe how amazing they were in every form...baked, boiled, fried. So good. That red soil though. There's even a potato museum on the island. 

 

Must-Eat: Poutine (hello Canada), PEI mussels, chowder and lobster. I don't think I've ever had more seafood in one week. We hit up several restaurants, my favs were: The Merchant Man and Terre Rouge in Charlottetown.  

 Cows ice cream is a staple on the island and the best way to end a night of adventures. 

 

If you're looking for an east coast summer road trip, this might be the perfect one. Until next time PEI! 

xox

Ruthie 

Red, White and Blue Ice Pops

Author: Becky Sizelove

IMG_0133.JPG

Fourth of July is the unofficial start of summer bliss. The weather starts to get perfect in New England and everyone has BBQ's, fireworks and all things red, white and blue. It's the most wonderful time of the year! To commemorate the season, I conjured up some healthy ice pops with yogurt, strawberries and blueberries (perfectly matched to the color scheme, of course)! Try this recipe out for a deliciously refreshing treat on the most perfect summer day.

Ingredients:

1.5 cup Trader Joes nonfat plain greek yogurt
1/4 cup honey
1 cup blueberries
1 cup sliced strawberries

Directions:

Mix together the honey and yogurt in a bowl with a whisk. Taste to reach your desired level of sweetness. Add in berries and then carefully pour mix into your freeze pop molds. Slide some extra pieces of berries along the side so the pops are full of red, white and blue. Freeze for 4-6 hours. Enjoy!

A Day Trip to Martha's Vineyard

It's finally summer and that means one thing in New England...THE BEACH. We really only have a couple months of warmth so live it up while you can. One of most popular destinations in Massachusetts is Martha's Vineyard. This stunning island is located off Cape Cod and known for it's picturesque beaches and charming cottages. We've been wanting to go for a while now and planned a day trip this past weekend. Here are some tips and spots we discovered on our island adventure!

Getting There 

In order to make your trip worth while you need to wake up early, like early morning flight to Disney early. You can't reserve tickets online unless you have a car so it's first come, first serve. There are many ferry companies that will take you to the vineyard but we recommend using Steamship Authority. The website lists the departures and arrivals of the ferry, and the location of the shuttle parking lot. When you arrive at the ferry terminal, you can choose a port destination on the island. We chose the Oak Bluffs because, Gingerbread Cottages. 

What to Eat 

After walking off the ferry, it was time for donuts - and mostly coffee. We strolled through town like we knew where we were going. Thankfully, there was an informational gazebo down the road with a helpful guide and maps. It's an absolute necessity to start your day trip in Oak Bluffs at Back Door Donuts, highly recommended by many a Martha's Vineyard traveler and it was delicious. For lunch, we headed to Martha's Vineyard Chowder Company and enjoyed some refreshing beverages and of course yummy chowda. To cap the day off we went to Vineyard's Best Ice Cream and Coffee. The ice cream was divine. 

Transportation on the Island

We spent most of the morning walking around the village and shops, after lunch we decided to travel to a new town. There are many methods of travel on the island - bikes, mopeds, taxi's and buses. The bus is a great way to get around the island because it's only $8 for all day pass. It's a complicated system but the ferry terminal has a map/schedule and the drivers are very helpful to connect you with the right route. 

Must-See Spots 

The highlight of our trip was most definitely the Gingerbread Cottages. We wandered around the town for a while before discovering the grove of charming colorful houses. It's hard to tell when you finally reach Wesleyan Grove because all the houses in town are so lovely. But when you get there, you'll know!

Our other main destination for the day was the Gay Head Lighthouse in Aqquinah. It took an hour and a half to get there on the bus with all the stops but it was definitely worth it for the breath taking view. The light house is perched on a cliff surrounded by light blue water, sand dunes and sea grass. The best part is you can actually walk down to the beach!  

If you only have one day, it would be hard to fit in more then two main spots on different parts of the island, but if you happen to have time for shopping there's no shame in doing that touristy thing like perusing in the ultimate prep store Vineyard Vines, or picking up a Black Dog long sleeve tee for the ferry right home. 

If you can time your ferry for sunset, you will enjoy the watching the sky fade into a lovely shade of pink over the water as think about your next trip to Martha's Vineyard. Happy travels! 

Tour de Cali

Author: Becky Sizelove

19212640_10100758858858089_581968227_o.jpg

Author: Becky Sizelove

What comes to mind when you think of the grandest land in America? For me, it's always been California, where mountains meet oceans and chill is a way of life. On the way to my semester abroad to NZ, I had an eight-hour layover in San Francisco. I ventured out and fell in love. I also swore I'd be back some day. Eight years later, my husband and I trekked from San Francisco to Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Park, over to Yosemite and back to San Fransisco in ten days. It was thrilling. 

San Fransisco

Our top spots for San Fransisco were the Painted Ladies, Baker Beach and 16th Avenue Tiled Steps. We were able to squeeze in Lombard Street on our last day and we were so thrilled that we could. The views were epic! This city mesmerized us both and we can't wait to go back someday soon!

Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Park

These two National Parks are side by side, which means you can see awe-inspiring canyons and colossal thousand-year-old trees all on the same day. We landed in King's Canyon at night so we decided to watch the sunrise at Panoramic View. It was one of my favorite memories of the trip. We then went to see General Grant and did the Giant Forest Loop. I was amazed to learn that fire is essential to the growth of sequoia trees. I love our National Parks - you can learn so much while connecting with nature!

Yosemite

We started our first morning in Yosemite at Glacier Point. That same afternoon, we hiked to Taft Point where I conquered my fear of heights to sit at the edge of the most epic viewpoint of Yosemite Falls. After we had our fill of Taft Point, we took the more difficult trail 'round the back of Sentinel Dome (not sure what the trail was called but the views were amazing and sometimes the trail just totally dropped off the edge 😶) - we climbed a snowy Sentinel Dome to see amazing panoramic views of Yosemite. From there, we hiked the easier trail back to the parking lot where we realized the shuttles were no longer running. As luck would have it, a kind man from Texas gave us a ride back to Glacier Point just in time for the most magnificent sunset. Needless to say, our first day was jam packed and so amazing. We chose to travel to Yosemite in June because that's when the best waterfalls happen. What's fabulous is that the waterfall flow this year is the best it has been in years!

After our big ten mile hike on the first day, we took it easy with a pool day and then a day visiting Tunnel ViewLower Yosemite Falls, Cook's Meadow and Valley View on the second and third day. On the fourth day, we were thirsty for another hike. We chose the Mist Trail. This trail transports you to another time and it was my favorite hike of the trip. After passing Merced River, we climbed amazing stone steps Vernal Falls. Mist Trail clearly got its name for a reason. We were drenched by the falls' mist! The sights were worth it, though. We continued our hike past Emerald Pool to Nevada Falls. I was lucky enough to see rainbows at the end of each waterfall! We also visited Mirror Lake after our Mist Trail hike - I sure am glad I hiked the extra couple miles to see it. We ran into a lovely deer on our way back to the shuttle that evening. I felt so honored to be able to see such stunning pieces of nature throughout that day. On our final day, we rode horses through the forest just like John Muir did back in the 1800's! 

Tips for Traveling to Europe

Author: Ruthie Pollard

"Of all the books in the world, the best stories are found between the pages of a passport." 

I adored spending time in Europe, and I'm already dreaming of my next visit! Being a first time traveler to Italy, I did a lot of research before starting my journey. Once I arrived there was so much more to learn! I kept a list of things to keep in mind, and I wanted to share them with you. Whether you're planning a trip abroad or it's on your bucket list, here are some helpful tips: 

1. Find the Right Time to Go

There are ways to find cheap flights to Europe, the most obvious way is to go off-season. I traveled in the winter to Italy and Becky traveled in the early spring to Amsterdam on our recent ventures. Both flights were under 600! My AirBnB host told me that his apartment is always open in the winter but books solid through the summer. It might be a little chilly if you go in the colder seasons, but if you're use to the harsh New England winters then it will feel like spring. Also, when you travel this time of year there are less tourists, and you will have the opportunity to experience more of the authentic culture with the locals.

2. Exact Change is a Way of Life

In the United States, we get frustrated waiting for that person in line to count out their exact change for the cashier. Come on, just hand them a 20 already. However, in European countries you are causing frustration if you try to hand the casher a large denomination. I got the stink eye one too many times for not having exact euros for my purchases. One shop owner had to go to a store across the street to see if she could get me change, and when I tried to pay for chocolate with 20 euro at the airport it was declined. The moral of this tip is to collect as much change as you can and keep your bills small if you want good shopping relations. 

 

3.  Walking Shoes are a Must-Have

I was told by many well-traveled sources that comfortable walking shoes are a must in Europe. I took a trip to the mall per my hair stylists recommendation. She told me about store called, The Walking Company. I previously never knew about this store or any store for that matter that created stylish walking shoes. I took the recommendation and much to my surprise I found a very comfortable pair of booties by Rockport. When I arrived in Italy I was not disappointed with my purchase. The roads are beautiful and historic cobblestone, not smoothly paved like back home. 

4. Bring Your Charger Everywhere You Go

"Why would bring my charger? My battery is 100% charged and ready for the day!" Nope. Your full charge cannot compensate for all the photos you take, the times you get lost and need google maps, or when you're scrolling through your phone on an hour long train ride to Rome. Many of the trains and cafes have outlets so charge when you can. I know this goes against the recent advice warning that charging in public ports is dangerous but, pics or it didn't happen.  

5. But What Shall I Wear?

Glad you asked. The key to style for many Europeans is neutrals and they dress well, always. Everyone I walked past managed to get up and walk the streets on fleek. Black, white, beige, and gray are your best friends in the winter and a scarf almost year round. When the weather warms, you will see more pops of color, but you can never go wrong with a classic basic. I picked up some shirts from Madewell and a beige peacoat at Top Shop. If you want to look trendy, neutrals can do the trick. It's fun to blend in, but also good for safety as the sports sweatshirt wearing, fanny pack toting, sneaker enthusiasts of America are a target for pick pocketers. Along those lines, make sure to bring a purse that zips. 

6. Research Your Transportation Options

When first arriving in Italy I had planned on taking the bus to our AirBnb and then using buses throughout the trip. I never actually ended up using a bus. After a long day of travel with heavy luggage, a taxi was the perfect hassle free choice from the airport. When we needed a taxi back to the airport the local service was only a Skype call away. Many of the cities are "walking cities" so when traveling locally take advantage of all the exercise. For a big day trip, European trains are the way to go. They are clean, well run, and fast in my experience. Generally you can buy tickets right at the station, but if you're traveling on a weekend it's best to check availability online. I used the site "Go Euro" to purchase tickets.

7. Purchase Tickets for Popular Sites and Destinations Ahead of Time

We went "off-season" so naturally one would assume that it would be easy to get into museums and hop on a train to a popular city. Although we were able to get into the Uffizi Museum and see the famous Statue of David, it involved waiting in line for two hours in the chill of the morning. Next time I will surely be a part of the line that already has tickets. On that note, the night before heading to Venice I went online to buy my train ticket and much to my dismay the morning trips were booked. The prices kept rising every time I refreshed the page, little did I know it was carnival time in the city. Lesson learned. 

8. Experience all the Foods

This might not come as an utter shock, but Europeans eat much better than we do. The food is overall healthier and tastes better as they take great pride in food preparation. If a region has a unique food like "wild boar", give it a try! I must admit this was a regret of mine as I stuck to more traditional Italian foods aka: pizza and pasta. And lets not forget about the coffee, I'm sure it's similar all over Europe, but Italians make coffee 10x better than the average coffee in the states. They invented the cappuccino after all. However, the amount of caffeine was not enough to sustain my ability to function. Double expressio is the way to go.

9. Don't forget a Converter

This tip is more practical, if you plan on curling your hair and charging your phone, you'll need a converter for European power outlets. I bought the "All-In-One" converter from Best Buy. I was happy to see that our AirBnb had a hair dryer so we wouldn't have to worry about blowing a fuse. No one wants to be that person. 

10.  Be Spontaneous and Flexible

As much as you prepare and research, not everything will go as planned. Travel is about adventure and sometimes adventures develop in the moment! We never planned to drive up to the hillside of Tuscany with a stranger because there were no taxi's or stumble upon the Piazzale Michelangelo at sunset. There might be bumps in the road or little blessings along the way, but it will all lead to memories that last a lifetime. Happy Travels! 

Please feel free to comment or share any tips you have from your journey abroad! 

ox,

Ruthie

11 Hour Layover in London

Author: Becky Sizelove

When I booked my flight to Amsterdam, I was thinking only of how excited I was to score cheap airfare. I didn't check the details until after booking. It came as quite a surprise when I noticed my flight included an 11 hour layover in Heathrow Airport. But, when life gives you limes, you buy tequila. So when life gave me an 11 hour layover in London, I made a mini vaca out of it. I wanted to share a few tips along with the details of my trip in case anyone else wants to make the most of their long layover!

Tip #1 - Plan Ahead

After a joyous flight of reading and watching two great movies -- Passengers and The Magnificent 8 -- I landed in Heathrow and found the express train to London, which dropped me off at Paddington Station.  Even though I initially planned to map out my journey ahead of time, it didn't end up happening and my trek went wayward for the first 15 minutes. It all turned around when a kind stranger gave me their Oyster card (they were done with it for the night). An Oyster card gets you anywhere you need to go in London. Once I received the Oyster card, I mapped out my journey on Google Maps and saw my trip go from zero to 80 in five seconds! If I made a plan before I landed, it would have made a world of difference. Learn from my mistakes! 

Tip # 2 - Choose a Few "Must Sees" and Go There First

My first stop was Baker Street, because Sherlock. I suddenly felt like I'd been transported to a different time. It was quite exciting. From there, I got back on the tube and stopped at Westminster to see Big Ben. It was essentially the one thing I was determined to see on my layover. That and fish and chips, which I didn't end up having. At Big Ben, I made friends with another solo traveler and we decided to go to a few milestone spots together. I was thankful for this because I didn't know where to go after Big Ben. 

We walked over to the London Eye and on the way I saw the quintessential red telephone booth. Of course, I snapped some photos before walking over the Westminster Bridge where someone was playing the violin, my favorite instrument. It was at this moment that I decided I liked London. I never really desired to visit London before that moment but now I definitely think it's worth a journey back!

After the Westminster Bridge, we walked to get some Indian food and then found China Town. It was so charming there. We also stopped at Piccadilly Circus. It was absolutely stunning at night! The double decker buses zoomed by and I loved every second there. 

London Telephone.jpg

Tip # 3 - Stay on Schedule and Set an Alarm for When You Need to Return to the Airport

Once I felt successfully tired, I hopped on a double decker bus and got to the hotel I booked next to the airport. This hotel was $35 and I found it on Expedia. Sounds sketchy, but it was actually nice for what it was. I showered, slept for a couple hours and then used Google Maps to find the nearest train stop to Heathrow. It was an easy walk and I purchased another Oyster card. I couldn't believe how much I lived in a short 11 hours. You can turn a layover into an exciting adventure! I felt so accomplished for venturing out by myself. It was exhilarating. Once I successfully sat down on my plane to Amsterdam, I knew I had been successful in my mission. I got some shut eye and then landed for my next adventure. You can read all about my journey to Amsterdam here.

Quick Jump to the Netherlands

Author: Becky Sizelove

Since I was a young girl, travel has put a sparkle in my eyes. I long for the change of scenery and perspective so if I stay in one place for too long, I get itchy feet. In college, I did a six-month semester abroad in New Zealand and when I came back, I couldn’t wait to set out on my next adventure. Life and finishing college kept me in place for a while. I ventured around New England and Arizona and had a grand time on little excursions in the states. Then I got married and shortly after, my husband was given the opportunity to work in Barcelona for three months. I told him to take the opportunity because I believe travel is one of the most important things in life. I also got to visit him for two weeks and spent a weekend in Paris with him, which was magical. It almost made up for how much I missed him. This past winter, he went on a business trip to Amsterdam. I didn’t accompany him because he was only gone for ten days. I hosted a Galentine’s party at my house and hung out with my pup. When he was offered to go again in April – I wanted to join him so badly! I’ve always dreamed of visiting the tulip fields. But my mindset was stuck in #adulting mode and I thought I shouldn’t go. I had a conversation with my Aunt Michel and also a friend from work who encouraged me to go after my dream of seeing the tulip fields. I looked up flights and they were just too expensive. So, I prayed for a cheaper flight to become available and the next day, I found the cheapest round trip fair to Europe that I’ve ever seen. Heck, it was the price of a flight to Florida during peak season. I took it as a sign that I should jump for the chance to go! Of course, the cheap flight involved an 11-hour layover in London so I started the journey with a little mini adventure. I shared a how-to on using your long layover to explore for those interested (that's how I saw San Fransisco when I was 20!).

When I arrived in Amsterdam, I planned to rent a bike and explore the city all day until Scott got out of work. Instead, I just kept walking. Every corner I turned brought me to another stunning view and I quickly fell in love. I found a little pizza shop to charge my phone and people watch. The baker made me the most delicious rosemary bread to snack on. I felt like I was in heaven. Amsterdam is flourishing with plant life and budding trees along the most delightful canals. Every building tells a story of where it came from and the history that the city brings. It rains intermittently every day in Amsterdam (or at least in my experience it does) and during one light rainfall, I ducked into the Amsterdam Tulip Museum. Did you know tulips originated in the harsh rocky climate of Turkey? I didn’t, but I do now. The Dutch had a period of hysteria over tulips, quite understandably, and that is how Holland is so well known for its tulips. They certainly do know how to grow lush plant-life in their country! After the tulip museum, I visited the famous flower market where the ceilings are filled with hanging flowers. It was a dream come true to see this!

18261159_10100721756945619_485251543_o.jpg
Amsterdam Flower Market.jpg

Once I had my fill of the city, I took the 307 bus to Purmerend, a quaint farm town in the Netherlands. This is where Scott was staying. We had a nice dinner and the waiter gave us a little back-story of King’s Day, which would be taking place the next day. Essentially, it’s the birthday of their King but also, it’s a day where children are taught the value of earning their own income. When we ventured into Amsterdam the next day wearing our orange garb, following King’s Day tradition, we noticed children hosting their own little flea markets and also saw some children playing the cello and violin! It was so darling. Scott and I were thankful that he had the day off to enjoy King’s Day with me. We had so much fun! It’s amazing how exploring a new place together makes us learn more about each other, even after eight years together. Our faces were beaming all day and we couldn’t get enough of the city and each other.

Becky Sizelove Amsterdam
King's Day
Amsterdam Becky Sizelove
Amsterdam organic coffee.jpg
Amsterdam Wisteria - Thrive Where Planted
King's Day Amsterdam
Amsterdam boat
Amsterdam Wisteria.jpg

I had the next day all to myself as Scott went to work. I debated taking the train to Brussels since it is so close, but I wanted to instead explore the farm town and find windmills! I had such a short time in the Netherlands that I wanted to focus on really getting to know that area. I started out on foot for a few hours, just walking where my heart led me around Purmerend. I found a walking path and explored there for a bit. At one point, I was struck by the beautiful music that the local birds were signing and I found a bench to sit on and just soak up the moment. I felt so much peace and felt incredibly lucky to be in the place that I was. Winter doesn’t sit well with me so I felt like I was shedding a hard outer-shell as I basked in the sun and listened to the songs of nature. The lush green plant-life surrounding me also didn’t hurt. I then walked to a bus stop and went to Amsterdam’s Centraal Station. From there, I asked the train service clerk to send me to the best spot for windmills and she sent me to Zaanse Schans. Not only did this little town have gorgeous windmills, it had the most quintessential Dutch homes. It was a bit of a tourist town, but absolutely charmed me. When I arrived in the town, I ordered a cappuccino but didn’t notice they only accepted cash (I have a travel card and didn’t need cash up until this point) – that’s when a wonderful stranger put down five euros for me and dashed away before I could blink. It was so kind! Being a solo female traveler can be slightly daunting at times, but I’ve always had such luck and I meet the best people. It always restores my faith in humanity. Once I finished my coffee, I trekked to the Zaanse Schans open air museum and was delighted by the roaming sheep grazing on lush grass right in front of the green homes and windmills. After a successful day, I met Scott for dinner and we planned our next day together. It was Saturday, so Scott had the day off.

purmerend holland
purmerend holland
Netherlands
Zaanse Schans Wisteria
Zaanse Schans
Zaanse Schans - a Windmill Village Netherlands
Zaanse Schans - a Windmill Village

Saturday morning, we had some yummy breakfast and then traveled to Schiphol Airport to check into the Citizen M hotel. Schiphol Airport has a bus that goes straight to Keukenhof, also known as the Garden of Europe. Navigating how to get there from the airport was so easy! There, we saw more tulips than the eye can see. It was quite crowded, but for good reason. The garden’s arrangement of florals was the most spectacular thing I’ve seen in a long time. We were absolutely charmed. After we got our fill of the gardens, we walked to the tulip fields. I walked along a sea of yellow tulips as a glorious windmill shined in the background. The air was filled with the an aroma quite similar to the most fragrant Starburst candies. We saw a pink floral field across the way and snapped some photos there, too. We even took the standard “lead me” photo since there was no other way to get a photo of us together (besides a selfie, of course!).

follow me to Keukenhof tulip fields
Keukenhof tulip fields - yellow
Keukenhof tulip fields.jpg
Keukenhof.jpg
Keukenhof tulip fields of pink

All in all, Holland took me by surprise and enchanted me wholly. I’m so thankful that I got to go. I will hold onto the feelings this country brought me and remember how lovely life really is. I’ll also remember that life is short, take the trip. You can still be responsible and #adult while finding your adventure at the same time. I’ll leave on this sentiment, “Let yourself go. You’re bound to bloom.”

Amsterdam Wisteria