I arrived in Amsterdam on Monday morning expecting nothing but a normal day in the beautiful city. Boy oh boy was I wrong! Turns out that I had arrived on the biggest public holiday of the year in the Netherlands…
Queen’s Day 2012
Queen’s Day, or “Koninginnedag,” is the national celebration of the Queen’s birthday. It’s celebrated every year on April 30th, which was the birthdate of Queen Juliana. They decided to keep it this date when Beatrix became queen because the weather was better for partying in April, rather than in January (her actual birthday).
It was 6 am when the shuttle dropped us off at the hotel. Already, there were people setting up their items for the one day of the year that Amsterdam has unregulated street trade. I made my way over to see what people were selling, but it turned out to be nothing more than items from your typical garage sale: dated and used clothing, electronics, and stuffed animals. I took a few photos and quickly headed back to the hotel room to get a quick nap before the big day.
At about noon I made my way downtown to find the most insane and biggest party ever. Music was blasting out of every bar, DJs were blaring techno, and various bands were playing on street corners. People were arriving on their boats in the canals, dancing through the streets, throwing beer bottles left and right, and peeing in the alleys. The color orange had filled the streets and canals.
This was my first impression of Amsterdam. I honestly didn’t know what to think. It was insane, yet so interesting to experience such a huge national holiday that I had never even heard of!
Apart from when a Brazilian man chased me begging me to give him a kiss and a drunkard spilling beer on my face, I really did have a good time. Luckily I happened to bring my only orange shirt and a few ladies gave me some festive necklaces. I may not have felt like I fit in with all the drunks, but at least I looked like I belonged!
Since it’s a national holiday, nothing was open on Queen’s Day apart from bars and restaurants. Trains were shut down, trams stopped running, and cars didn’t even dare to drive on the streets. Party people filled literally every open space! So did trash… Apparently Queen’s Day is also Trashcan-free Day. People just dropped and left their trash everywhere – guilt free. I made the mistake of wearing open-toed shoes and spent most of the day dodging pieces of broken glass beer bottles!
Queen’s Day in Amsterdam was quite the experience for my first time in the Netherlands. It seems like the unexpected always happens to Laura and me, but this seemed so extreme!
What’s the craziest thing you’ve experienced unexpectedly in your travels?
Have you ever celebrated Queen’s Day?Read More
Have you ever been so set on something that it constantly occupied your thoughts, conversations, and even dreams?!
Arriving in Positano, Italy in 2009 was a dream come true for us. It was by far one of the most incredible and memorable trips that we have ever been on.
When we found out that we were going to have the chance to make the trip we were absolutely ecstatic. We spent the months prior to our journey glued to travel books and the internet, learning everything we could about Italy so that we wouldn’t miss out on anything once we got there. We researched hotels, activities, restaurants, and cool local spots to visit. We even invested in Rosetta Stone and other Italian language books to prepare us for the language barrier. While we did find quite a few great recommendations and tips on Italy, we spent most of our time before the trip drooling at too-perfect-to-be-real photos of the little Amalfi Coast jewel known as Positano.
From the moment we discovered that a place like Positano existed we became completely obsessed with it. We knew we had to get there and see it for ourselves, so we planned our trip around a one week stay in Positano.
The photos are astonishingly beautiful, yet they do not even begin to do the place justice. You can drool over gorgeous photos like we did, but you have to go for yourself if you want the complete experience.
For us, looking back at these photos conjures up memories beyond just the visual sense. When we look at these pictures we remember hearing the hustle and bustle of the local markets and the waves crashing against the beach at night. We remember the taste of hand crafted pasta and the smell of all natural tomato sauce with fresh basil and garlic. We also remember the feeling of the tiny pebbles under our feet as we walked on the little beach and the refreshing feel of cold ocean waves misting us as we took a ride on a tiny boat around the coast.
Colorful houses hug a cliff that overlooks the sparkling turquoise ocean. We spent a lot of time just hiking around the the town, exploring and taking in views like this one.
To us, Positano had it all…the food was unbelievably good, the weather was perfect, the air was clean, and the locals treated us like family.
Can it get any better than that?!
Each day we had a new adventure. We took a few day trips to the nearby towns on the coast and loved everything we saw almost as much as we loved Positano. We either traveled by bus or boat. And by boat always turned out to be the most scenic route! One of our favorite excursions was to the beautiful Isle of Capri.
One night we went out to Music on the Rocks, a unique nightclub that is literally inside of a cave and is only open (or dry) during the low tide season (summer). We met some great friends and had a sweet time dancing all night!
And during the day we spent time on the beach of Positano where you won’t find one grain of sand… Positano’s beaches are pebbled which was SO cool. We had never seen a pebble beach before and loved searching for pretty colored sea glass. We each brought home a little bag a sea glass to remind us of our trip!
We never wanted to leave this little piece of paradise. It’s truly a piece of heaven on earth and we cant wait to go back. Positano will always hold a special place in both of our hearts because it was the first place that truly sparked our passion for travel. However, we are determined to keep traveling and searching for new places that will fuel our interests and passion for the world.
Tweet @Two4Travel about your #DreamTrip
or blog about the most amazing trip you’ve been on, and title it #DreamTrip!
Do you have a smart phone? An iPhone or an Android? No matter which gadget you’re on, you can join in on the fun of the hottest photo sharing app in the market!
Instagram just released their (previously exclusive for iPhone) app for the Android phone just a few days before they were bought out by Facebook. This app is just getting bigger and bigger and more people are signing up and taking more shots… But what does this have to do with travel, you might ask…
Well, think of this scenario… You’re out with friends in your hometown and you see a beautiful sunset. You didn’t bring along your digital camera, but you have your iPhone. You take it out of your pocket, snap a shot of the sun setting behind the mountain in the distance, add a cool effect, and within seconds… millions of people can enjoy your photo and see where it was taken!
It’s an instant photo sharing app that will allow you to see the amazing things your friends are doing from all over the world. You not only indulge in unique photo ideas, but also travel inspiration!
Here are some fellow travelers that we follow:
@amzkiz – Amy & Kieron from Don’t Ever Look Back
@nomadicnotes – James Clark from Nomadic Notes
@ihartravel – Fidel Hart from Scene with a Hart
@travelbcouple – Geneva & Carlo from Travel Budget Couple
If you take part in the fun of Instagram, let us know in the comments!Read More
Hawaii is one of the most colorful states I’ve been to, but sometimes being colorful is what makes the most interesting black and white photographs. Here are a few of my favorites…Read More
Whenever we go on a trip, we try to take part in some sort of activity or sport that we normally wouldn’t back at home. Here a few we have tried out:
In Australia we took surfing lessons at Point Leo, Victoria. It was so much fun and we caught quite a few good waves… Check out some photos:
Do you like our cute wetsuits?
There we are on the right learning some surf moves with our “beginner” group before heading out.
That’s Laura in the middle catching a huge wave. The sharks can’t catch us!
Here we are after becoming pros out there in those 40 foot waves. Notice our hat heads from our helmets.
Next time we plan on hanging ten ;)
In Tybee Island, Georgia we rented some awesome paddle boards. If you don’t know what a paddle board is, it looks like a surf board, except bigger and you usually don’t have to catch a wave to stand up. You stand and paddle! Check out our experience:
Here we are ready to go paddle boardin’… “Watch out, Ocean!”
Defying the seas. (Okay, it’s a lot harder than it looks)
After a few struggles and falls, we got back up again..
Paddlin’ away to the Pacific.
Yep, we went kayaking on Tybee Island, too!
This was a lot of fun!
This is our whole kayaking group.
See those green marshes in the background? Yeah… we kayaked through that ;)
Another time we went to Tybee Island we rented these awesome mopeds. It’s so fun to ride these around a little beach town/island like Tybee.
In Positano, Italy (favorite place we’ve ever visited, by the way), we rented a pedal boat! It was so fun to just pedal out to wherever we wanted, for example, this cave/cliff thing…
We thought about going into the cave but decided not to take any risks. Probably a smart choice.
Taking a break from pedaling to relax on our little boat in beautiful Italy.
In Australia we took a bush/beach horseback ride. Although our horses were very stubborn, it was one of the most amazing things we did in Australia! Here are some of our photos…
Along the gorgeous beach… we were slacking behind the rest of the group, as you can tell. Also we were the only ones on the beach… it was like our own beautiful private beach!
Through the bush. Check out that stunning view! No civilization in sight.
We had so much fun. A spectacular experience.
Some other Xtreme travel sports we enjoy…
Snorkeling, snow skiing, water skiing, wake boarding, fishing, boating, boogie boarding, hiking…
Some of our Facebook fans told us which Xtreme sports they enjoy…
Adam from Travels of Adam went skydiving over the Great Barrier Reef in Australia!
Leonnie also went skydiving in Darwin, Australia!
Shirlene from Idelish went ice climbing on a glacier in Alaska!Our Facebook page.
What Xtreme sports do you take part in while traveling?!Read More
Recently, I went to Israel for a three-day trip. Although I definitely would have liked to spend more time in Israel, I can’t say I didn’t see everything I wanted to see. In fact, I saw more than I had expected.
We stayed at the Intercontinental David Hotel in Tel Aviv. We couldn’t have been happier with the accommodation brought by the staff there. They all spoke fluent English and gave us great recommendations for what to see and do during our stay! Aside from the hospitality, the hotel is right across the street from the beach. We had a beautiful view from our room where we could see the gorgeous sunset over the water. Also by the beach is a playground…for adults. Basically, it’s workout equipment, playground-style. Unfortunately we didn’t save time to try it out, but that’s for sure something we’ll do next time!
In the evening we took a stroll down the beach-side streets up to Jaffa. It’s a nice walk but it can be tiring if you’re not in shape. We stopped along the way in a few shops and caught a glimpse of the night life. There’s even a restaurant in Jaffa in the sky. Yes, in the sky. It’s called Dinner in the Sky, and it’s pretty self-explanatory. A crane lifts the 22-seater up almost 165 feet so that the customers can enjoy their meals with a spectacular view! It’s fairly expensive, but if you have the money and you’re up for the experience, then I would highly recommend this!
The next day, we took a cab into Jerusalem. It’s only about an hour away and it was an awesome experience. I would recommend spending at least an entire day in Jerusalem! We went straight into the old city on a tour. The city offers tours that you can pay for and also tours that are free. We were originally going to pay for one, but we started talking to a guy who told us that the free tour is actually really good. We were pretty satisfied with our tour guide; however, there were a lot of people on the tour so it was hard to hear what he was saying when we got caught in the back of the group. If you want a more in-depth tour, perhaps religion-specific (Christian-based, Jewish-based, etc), then I would definitely recommend paying for a private tour!
The old city was so cool. It’s amazing how they have kept everything almost the same as it was in biblical times. All the stones and tiles are ancient and you almost feel like you’re going back in time when you enter this holy city. There are kids playing ball and running around in the alleys and quaint shops on the sides. It’s amazing how they make room for so much in the walls of such a small city. The tour guide took us on the roof of one of the buildings so that we could see everything from a different point of view!
The next day we went to the Dead Sea and Masada. It was a private tour so we were in a van of about 10 people. As we drove through the desert, the van driver would point some things out to us and tell us stories. He pointed out the cave where the Dead Sea scrolls were found, gave us random fun facts, and told us stories about the desert-dwelling bedouins. He brought us to a factory where they make Dead Sea skin-care products and we were able to try some out. Then we went to the Masada. You have the option of walking up or taking the tram. We took the easy route, the tram! It’s amazing how much of the Masada is still preserved, you can see all the original stones and baths. Not to mention the view from Masada is spectacular. If you go for no other reason than the view, you will not be disappointed! It’s pure desert, but it’s beautiful.
We then went to the Dead Sea for a swim… or should I say for a float! We had a little over an hour to enjoy the Dead Sea, which was more than enough time! If you go here, you MUST try the mud bath. I know it sounds gross, but it’s so worth it. The mud at the Dead Sea is famous for its healthy minerals and healing powers. You go into the water and grab a handful of mud from the bottom, and rub it all over your body. Let it dry completely and then wash it off in the provided showers. Your skin will feel smoother than ever before and you will feel completely renewed! It’s so worth it!
The whole trip to Israel was amazing and I hope to go back and experience more of it! If you’ve been to Israel, let us know what you enjoyed most and any tips you have! We’d love to hear them!
Check out a video slide show from the trip:
This is a blog hop onRead More