Happy New Year! People have been telling me for YEARS that I should start a blog. I actually had a whole website started years ago, and it just sat there. I never actually used it, but today is the day I change that. I’m doing it! This is my first time blogging though, so bear with me. With it being a new year, I figured the best way to start out my blog would be to discuss, well, my New Year! I did something totally unique this year. My husband & I invited our close friends, and cousin to join us in Europe to celebrate the New Year.
I immediately started researching fun, unique activities, and looked for hotel accommodations. The first thing I do when planning our vacations, is always book hotel & airfare. I do this since it is usually the most costly, and the price goes up every day that passes. I like to get that out of the way, then, I find activities. One of my go-to sites for excursions is Viator. They have some of everything and you can read reviews, get tips, and even see pictures of the activity to see if it is something you would want to do. Lastly, I research fun places to eat, and top rated restaurants, because outside of traveling, my favorite thing to do is eat!
After I have a general itinerary written out, I start the fun part – SHOPPING!! On every vacation, I carefully plan out each ensemble, all the way down to what I wear to the airport. Also, my husband and I are that cheesy couple that wears coordinating outfits. I find that it looks better in photos if we wear things that go well together rather than clash. I also think it is important to plan out your outfits. I want to be sure my photos come out great, and I never want to look back at the memories we created and think “what was I wearing?” I will do a more detailed blog on packing for my trips later.
Now, the fun part – the actual Trip!! We started in Amsterdam, and did something I have never done in my multiple trips to Amsterdam, and that was stay in a Hostel. There were 6 of us … 3 couples, so it was a challenge to find one that could accommodate all of us. I found this really cool, modern, ultra hip hostel called Via Amsterdam. It reminded us of being back in college. The room had 3 sets of bunkbeds, a set of lockers, a bathroom, and a seating area. If i’m honest, this was the part of the trip I was most nervous about. How will 6 people share one room? How long will it take 6 people to get ready? One Bathroom?These are thoughts that ran through my OCD, detail – oriented brain. All of that worry was for nothing! It turned out to be so much fun, and an awesome way to bond, and start out the trip…minus the serial snorer LOL!
Confession: We were so exhausted from traveling overnight, and being in airports for over 24 hours, that when we took the train from the Amsterdam airport to our hotel, we rode it back and forth for at least 30 minutes just so we could sleep. Not one person objected, and we still are not sure how we decided to do it, but were glad we did. I don’t recommend anyone do this, but, we needed the power nap and we now laugh about it.
The first day I didn’t plan much, because I knew everyone would be tired and jet-lagged from the overnight travel. To my surprise, everyone was down to get out and explore. We went to dinner at a cute little Italian restaurant. We knew we were at the right place when as soon as our waiter saw we were American, he said “Fxck Trump!”. LOL.. perfect start to the night. After dinner we hung out at a little night club next door, then ventured off to the Red Light District. In my many visits, I had never actually been to the red light district, so this was intriguing. We walk down the alley past windows with red lights, and scantily clad women waiting on their next “guest”. Shockingly, as my cousin stated, these women were “booked and busy”. The majority of the women were ‘booked’, and only a handful were actually available. Interesting!
The next day we had a full day planned. We started with high tea, at The Duchess inside of the W Hotel. We had a blast! They have a cocktail called “in the clouds” – I highly recommend it, as it will definitely leave you in the clouds. The place is so picturesque – perfect to take cute Instagram photos, and the food was really good as well!
Next up was the Heineken experience. My husband had been wanting to do this for awhile, so he was particularly excited about this part. We did the package that included a canal cruise, as well as access to a view point that looks out over all of Amsterdam. We never made it to that part. We had such a blast at the Heineken experience that we literally shut the place down! We drank up all the beer, and it will take years to replenish. Kidding. But, it sure felt like we did. The entire experience is really cool, interactive, modern, engaging, and something I highly recommend. At the end, you end up in the basement, which is setup with multiple bars and was a really cool place to hang out. I am not a beer drinker, so while I tried it to be a good sport, I gave my husband all my beer tokens, which in turn started the competition of who could sneak the most beers. We each took turns going to the bar, and pretending that we lost our tokens, or just flat our snatching beers. It was so much fun! I am pretty sure they caught onto us, but they let us have our fun. Definitely a must-do if you ever find yourself in Amsterdam.
Next, we headed back to our hostel. We were tired from being out all day. We ordered the best pizza the night before, so we decided we would just hang, eat pizza, and play some games. When we walked into the lobby, to our surprise, there was a DJ spinning vinyl hip hop records to a full crowd but empty dance floor. Immediately, without any thought, we all run to the dance floor and start dancing and singing to classic hip hop songs. Everyone stared at us in awe for a few minutes, and then we felt the lights on us, as everyone starts recording us. I am pretty sure we are on quite a few YouTube videos, Snapchats, you name it across the world.
Saturday morning, we headed out to our next destination – Paris! This was what everyone was waiting for. The only thing planned for this day was a cabaret show. We booked the late show knowing that we would be busy traveling during the day. We had a nice dinner in the private room at Vesuvio on Champs- Elysses, then headed to the show.
We met the head dancer LaMichael ahead of the show. He immediately realized from our non-accent that we were American, and it turned out he was originally from Brooklyn. We had a nice conversation, snapped a few photos, then the show started.
The show was INCREDIBLE! We watched in awe as the singer and dancers worked the stage. We sat in the front row – my husband could literally touch the stage, so we were able to really interact with the cast. We had the best time! At the end, we got a personal shout out from LaMichael saying how we were the best group they ever had, and how much they appreciated us. A personal shout out at a world renowed cabaret show? Life made.
We actually weren’t sure whether to book a show at the moulin rouge, or Lido. We ended up going with Lido, since it had better reviews, and are so glad we did! I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who wants to attend, but I HIGHLY recommend that you see it if you make your way to Paris. You wont regret it.
Sunday – New Years Eve – we planned a sunrise photo shoot at the Eiffel tower, complete with formal dress. We wanted to take really nice New Years Photos, so we could have great pics that we could have forever to commemorate the trip. Despite being out until 3 AM the night before, we still managed to get up at sunrise, which was 8 am. Minus the freezing cold temps, we managed to look alive, and take beautiful photos.
Next, we went back to our rooms to nap, and then headed out to do some shopping. We only made it to one store. A common trend on this trip was shutting places down. We went to Louis Vuitton first, as I planned on making a purchase there. If you are going to add to your Louis Vuitton collection, there is no better place to purchase from than the flagship store on Champs-Elysses. There was a long line to get in, but of course we were able to walk right in (cant share that story, ha). We immediately got some bubbly and the shopping began. After a few round of bubbly, and after everyone bought more than they intended, we headed out to get ready to bring in the new year.
Shopping at Louis Vuitton
My husband an I have a few friends who live in Paris, who we met up with for dinner. We had a nice meal together, and they suggested we join them at Queen nightclub to ring in the New Year. We quickly changed, then headed back out to bring in 2018. We started on the streets on Champs-Elysees to do the countdown, and watch the fireworks. As we had been doing the entire trip, we shut down the streets of Paris. While walking to Queen, we were blowing our party horns, dancing, and just enjoying life. Everyone was marveled at our unapologetic knack for having fun, and either joined in, or recorded us. Im telling you, we are on SEVERAL YouTube videos, and Snapchats around the world. LOL.
The next day, we planned to see the Palace of Versailles in the morning. Didn’t happen. We also planned to go sight seeing, and maybe do some of the shopping we didn’t get to do the previous days. Also didn’t happen. No one got out of bed before 3pm. Everyone was EXHAUSTED from our non-stop adventure, staying up all night, and waking up early. We had a dinner cruise that we pre-booked months prior. That was the only thing we made it to. I think the cruise was the perfect end to our trip. We got to relax on the boat as it glided past some of the most popular attractions in Paris – the Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower, and the mini Statue of Liberty. They played music on cue to each attraction; for instance “New York” by Alicia Keys played when we passed the statue of liberty and Moulin Rouge. It was perfect.
We planned to possibly go out after the cruise since it was an early dinner cruise. Nope. Everyone retreated to their rooms, and didn’t surface again until morning.
Overall, it was an incredible experience, one you had to be there to experience the full effect. I have gone over the trip in my mind a few times wondering if it is something that I would do again, and I say absolutely! In fact, I wouldn’t change a single thing if I were to do again. Time to start working on next years plans!