If you’ve been following along, you’ll know that we just got back from a whirlwind European vacation. I started out on a river cruise with my mom, grandmother and aunt in France, that you can read about by clicking here. Meanwhile, Jamie was working in Geneva so he came down to France and met me to spend another week both in France and Amsterdam. We went to Disneyland Paris (our last park of the 6 global parks!), then stayed in Paris a few days, then took the train to Amsterdam. I’ll start from the end of the trip and work backwards because you just read about me being Paris and you have likely read 5+ posts about Disney already…so let’s start in Amsterdam…
We took the train from Paris to Amsterdam which was about a 3 hour ride. It was comfortable and actually worked out because Jamie had a lot of work to do, and could do it on the train. And I finished my last blog while on it! Efficient.
We stayed at a really nice hotel, right in the middle of Amsterdam, called The Pulitzer. It’s in an old house (couple of houses), and right on a main canal. When we booked it we didn’t realize it was King’s Day the Friday we were there. King’s Day is the king of The Netherlands birthday and the entire city shuts down and has a big street/canal party. Everyone wears orange and if you’re not partying on a boat, then you’re partying in the streets. Hundreds of boats crammed with (drunk) people were floating down the canal all day. We had a room with a canal view and we were on the 2nd floor, so had a perfect view from our room. In hindsight, might not have been a good idea because the partying was still going until well past 5 am – some people at a bar across the canal were singing “My Heart Will Go On” from Titanic….anyway….
This day was just a giant party. Things I saw online before we went compared it to Mardi Gras in New Orleans and said it was worse (as far as crowds and shenanigans). I have been to Mardi Gras and no, Cajuns party harder, no question. Our hotel had a private party for hotel guests that signed up for it with a DJ, unlimited drinks and snacks, and a front row spot on the canal to watch the “boat parade” (the drunk, boat cruising, party goers). With all that said, we had a really fun time! I had a blast. Albeit, we stayed within the confines of the hotel’s arranged party, but still! Great fun.
The remaining time in Amsterdam we just spend wandering around, eating at cool restaurants and just seeing everything. We also went to Keukenhof to see the tulip festival! Unfortunately it was raining that day so we didn’t get to ride bikes in the fields or anything, but we did walk through the park and got some great pictures.
We also went to Anne Frank’s house. I have read her diary too many times to count and I find her story incredibly fascinating and sad, but without her diary, we might have had no insight into the lives of those like her who had to go into hiding. Seeing the house in real life put everything she talked about in her diary into such perspective. We weren’t allowed to take photos inside, but it is exactly as she described, and left the same as it was when the Nazis came in and arrested them. Even magazine clippings she taped to the walls of her bedroom were still there – things a 13 year old girl would clip: models, actresses, handsome actors, etc. They had video clips of people being interviewed in the 70’s like her dad, Otto Frank, the only surviving member of the family. Also, there were interviews from the women who survived Bergen-Belsen concentration camp and knew Anne when she was a prisoner there, as well. It was heart-wrenching, but definitely a must if you go to Amsterdam. You have to buy tickets online in advance and it is so popular that they only release a certain amount each day. It took me going online every day for almost 3 weeks before I was able to get us tickets. Every time I went online the server was so busy that they had to put me in a virtual queue just to get to the website! Hectic. But I got them, so no worries. 🙂
Paris with Jamie
Jamie and I spent 3 days in Paris and, really, all we did was walk around and explore. We only did what we felt like and didn’t try to overdo it. We stayed at Hotel Tremoille in the middle, right off Champs-Élysées. We walked to Place de la Concorde, then on past the Louvre (for now), along the Seine to Notre Dame. We walked around inside on our own before heading to lunch. I also got my tourist photo in front of the bookstore from “Midnight in Paris”.
We ate and ate while we were here! A couple of the more notable restaurants at which we ate were Brasserie Lipp and Le Voltaire (in the same building Voltaire lived and died, dying May 30, 1778).
We went to the Louvre one evening. It was a Wednesday, actually, one of the only days it was open late. I would recommend this if you go because there was no line to get in the main, Pyramid entrance (usually an hour’s plus wait) and although it was still crowded, it wasn’t near anywhere like it could be in the afternoons. Guys, the Louvre is incredibly overwhelming and massive.
We were there about 2 hours, but you would need a few days to see everything. Also, we had in mind a few things/eras we wanted to see, but even then we were in over our heads. I’d recommend doing your research and, especially if you don’t have much time in Paris, map out those things you really want to see. No trip to the Louvre would be complete without seeing the Mona Lisa. Here I am with her and 50 of our closest friends:
We walked around and went all the way to the other side to see Napoleon’s apartment, which was opulent to say the least. We could have spent a lot more time there, but it was getting late and we made a late dinner reservation at Le Voltaire across the street. Here are some more pics from the Louvre:
You might have seen from one of my Facebook posts my most favorite evening in Paris. Jamie and I had dinner at a little street side cafe then walked over to the Eiffel Tower a few minutes before the lights came on. We laid in the grass in an adjacent park and a few minutes later the twinkling lights came on! It was so romantic! Do this if you go! Bring wine and pack a picnic! You won’t be disappointed!
We did it! Went to all the parks in the world!! My mom joined us on this one, so it was cool to experience it with her, another Disney fanatic (maybe more-so than Jamie and me!). Disneyland Paris has 2 parks: Disneyland and Walt Disney Studios – similar concept to the way California has it laid out. Bless its heart, but Walt Disney Studios was not the best. It needs some TLC. We stayed there for lunch and 2 rides and left, partly because it has the exact same rides as Hollywood Studios in Florida and partly because it wasn’t “magical” enough for us. 🙂 Other Mouseketeers will know what I mean by that, so quit rolling your eyes!
We had lunch at “Bistrot Chez Remy” in the Ratatouille area (obviously) and it was so cute! Everything was scaled to mouse size, so it was like you were in his little restaurant in the movie. And the Ratatouille ride was also adorable! It was a 3D ride as if you were a mouse trying to get through the main restaurant’s kitchen and to Remy’s kitchen. Super cute and only in Paris.
That night we went for dinner at the California Grill in The Disneyland Hotel (similar menu to the one in Florida at The Contemporary). I had pre-booked it for Jamie’s birthday dinner and had arranged an ice cream cake in advance. First, the food was really good, I would recommend it and you get a great view of the castle. It’s a semi-fancy restaurant, so what I am about to say next was way out of the blue!
I didn’t know that when I placed the order for the birthday cake that an entire celebration would be included! We were just having quiet conversation and over the loud speaker, volume on BLAST, someone said “ATTENTION PATRONS! WE ARE GETTING READY TO CELEBRATE A BIRTHDAY!” Jamie looked like he wanted to crawl under the table! Hahaha I am laughing hysterically just typing this! Then about dozen waiters and waitresses bring out the cake with several candles in it, singing and clapping. I couldn’t have planned it better myself. It was a shock to all of us and we were DYING LAUGHING!! Jamie was so embarrassed, but it was the best part of the trip, without a doubt. So, if you go, go on or around a birthday and PLEASE do this to someone you love!
The next day we went to Disneyland Park and spent the whole day. It was small, but the castle was, without a doubt, the prettiest castle there is. It seemed like anywhere you were in the park, you could see it.
First, we wandered around Main Street and then had a character breakfast.
Then we went over to Discovery Land and rode HyperSpace Mountain and Star Tours before having lunch. Then we rode my mom’s favorite ride, Buzz Lightyear.
Next, it was on to Adventureland so we could ride Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril (rollercoaster, not like US) and Pirates of the Caribbean (same as US, not Shanghai).
You could walk through the castle, which told the story of Sleeping Beauty, and then under the castle to where the dragon was sleeping! That was different than other parks and a nice touch. In the castle was also some cute shops, so we stopped at a Christmas one and got some ornaments.
Time for the parade! It was good! We posted up right in front of the castle and the best float was the dragon. Prince Phillip (from Sleeping Beauty) was fighting the demon things in front of it then the dragon came behind breathing fire!
We went back to the hotel and relaxed a bit before the evening. We stayed at the Newport Bay Club Hotel on property – similar to the Beach Club in Florida, but not as nice. It was a massive hotel. We had dinner there before going back to the park for the evening.
In the evening, we took it easy and did the rides in Fantasyland. I LOVE Snow White’s Scary Adventures in the US, but they tore down the one in Florida and last time I was in California it was closed. 🙁 Got my chance this time! They call it Blanche-Neige et les Sept Nains (Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, simply enough), but it’s the same ride. Then we rode the Pinocchio ride, which…I think I hate that movie. It’s sad, weird and scary. No thanks. Small World was next and just as cute as ever. We wandered around and took some pictures before it was time for the fireworks show. This was, IMO, the best fireworks show Disney does! It was just so good, and special for their 25th Anniversary.
Well that’s everything!! We are taking it easy for the next few months. Headed back to the US for the arrival of my brother and sister-in-law’s first son! Hope everyone has an enjoyable summer! Until next time!