Here are some highlights from our Christmas vacation trip to Europe.
Let me tell you this. I had the least expectations from Holland out of all counties we planned to visit, and I loved it the most!
We started in Amsterdam with its beautiful gingerbread-like houses along the canals, beautiful people on the bikes, and cozy Dutch restaurants. Here are the places we visited and loved there:
The Canal Cruise
Van Gogh Museum
Anne Frank Museum
The following day we visited Zaanse Schans, a little neighborhood of Zaandam. It has historic windmills, cute green wooden houses plus live demos of cheese and clog making.
Bruges is gorgeous! Especially early in the morning when the tourists are still sleeping! Ha! I could have just walked all day and look at the storefronts of their cute little shops! We also visited Choco-Story Museum (chocolate history and demonstrations) that day.
We also visited Antwerp and Ghent Christmas Markets and savoring Belgian waffles, Belgian hot chocolate, and Belgian fries. Fun fact: did you know that Belgians founded “French fries” and only in the US they are called so, but for the rest of the world, they are “Belgian fries” or Frittes? Belgium was one of the brightest highlights of our trip to Europe.
Restaurant ‘T Minnewater (try their mussels)
We did the Old City walk, Panoramic Lift, and visited the Christmas Market at night.
We had a quick walk at Petite France part of the city (by the number of pictures with me in them you can tell how much I loved it!) and saw the Cathedral Notre Dame de Strasbourg. It was extremely crowded that day, plus we missed the 12-2 pm lunch window and ended up in a shopping mall fast food place. Sad day.
From this point on, you will see a lot of portraits of my little sister (the younger and skinnier version of me!) who joined us on the trip to Europe for a couple of days! We live thousands of miles away from each other these days! So I tried to take as many shots of her as possible – I love and miss her so much!
We took a nice walk in Lausanne. It was foggy but mostly deserted (including restaurants) – a nice break after crowded cities we saw earlier!
Our next stop was Bern, and I loved it!
We walked along the street with the most beautiful clock tower Zytglogge, 16th-century fountains with statues all the way to the Nydeggbrucke bridge and Bear Pit with a live grizzly.
Then we took a short drive to Thun Castel with beautiful lake and Alps views.
We tried swiss cheese fondue.
The next day we decided to take a mountain train to the Top of Europe – Jungfraujoch. The entire experience was so much fun with a giant snow globe, ice castle, and views of glaciers along the way!
By the end of the day, we got to Zurich, and it is gorgeous at night this time of the year.
Zeughauskeller (their food and service was amazing! and fast)
Neuschwanstein Castle was my longtime bucket list item! We took not the easiest way to the top (hiking up in leather boots in a frosted forest). But the castle is amazing! No wonder so many animated movies used it as an inspiration!
After we said goodbye to my sister, we headed to Frankfurt. The next day we took a speed train from Frankfurt to Cologne. Honestly, we didn’t fell the 300 km/hour until we saw the cars on the autobahn going 150km/h + falling behind.
We walked through the Cologne Cathedral and Hohenzollern Bridge and spent the majority of the day at the Kelner zoo! We’ve seen a lot of large animals that day up close, and since it was a workday, the zoo was pretty empty! The kids especially enjoyed playing on the playground.
The last day we spent back in Holland. In a small town of Giethoorn. It is a town without roads and filled with cute old thatched-roof houses.
We took an hour-long canal cruise, and I can only imagine how beautiful this place is during spring and summer! But the fact that we were almost the only visitors that day (opposed to thousands of tourists per day during high season) was a great plus!
Restaurant De Rietstulp