Europe 2017: Amsterdam, Netherlands

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A photo of Bloggers in their natural habitat.

Amsterdam has been on my travel bucket-list for years. So when it came to planning our trip home, I felt it would be downright scandalous not to go through Amsterdam! Luckily the difference in cost between going directly from Warsaw vs. stopping over in Amsterdam was a few hundred dollars which basically was our accommodations in Amsterdam so we went for it.

Compared to other cities we’ve been to, Amsterdam is expensive. The hostels are expensive and there aren’t as many Airbnb’s available as there where in Portugal and Spain. Since we were in Amsterdam for only two days so we stayed at the centrally located Stayokay Amsterdam Vonderplark Hostel  in a mixed dorm room – which was the most affordable hostel we could find in the center of the city.  We knew we only needed a place to sleep & shower, so it was perfect.

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Europe 2017: Warsaw, Poland

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Stare Miasto

The motherland did not welcome us with fine weather.  It was rainy, windy and cloudy the day we arrived, and it stayed that way.  It was the type of weather that leant itself to lazy days or wandering in a museum or keeping warm at a cozy cafe.

When everyone asks me how Warsaw was, I struggle to answer.  I love my birth city but, it has changed a lot and I don’t feel that strong emotional connection any more.  It no longer feels like “home”.  The majority of my key life moments occurred in Toronto.  While the ones in Warsaw are a blur now.  I remember the exact corner where the man sold popcorn in a paper cone stood or sitting with my grandpa on his balcony in the sun.  But, everything is different now and I don’t feel that feeling you do when you are in a place which hits you with emotional memories. So how was Warsaw you ask?  Wonderful, strange, emotional.

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Europe 2017: Madrid, Spain 

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After two days in Seville it was time for us to head to Madrid.   We were taking the high-speed train because why not? I decided to throw in a few different modes of transportation into our trip for fun.

We took a bus from the Plaza de la Encarnación to Santa Justa train station and in 2 hours we were in Madrid!!

As we had a flight to Warsaw the next morning, I choose an Airbnb that was located near Pacificio Metro Station. Making it easier to get to the center but, also to get to the airport in the morning.

I found that Madrid did not have the same charm as Lisbon or Seville. Everything was larger, wider and busier, it was a cosmopolitan city and it showed.

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Europe 2017: Seville, Spain

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La Encarnación square at night

We initially talked about going to Barcelona after the Algarve.   We did want to include one expensive city on our trip.  But, when we found out Seville was a mere 3 hour bus ride from Portimao, we cut Barcelona from the itinerary.

We were not disappointed!

We actually couldn’t believe how beautiful and enchanting Seville was.  And the food .. the food just got better and better with each new stop.  What we loved the most is that people truly lived in Seville.  Everyone went out on the weekend, no one stayed home.  And even thought Spain’s been faced with some economic hardships, people looked happy.  It made we wonder why we are so miserable in North America.  Does weather really make that much of a difference?  I still don’t have an answer but, moving to Seville is on my list of crazy things I could do.

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Europe 2017: Algarve, Portugal

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Good bye Lisbon!

With our stay in Portugal’s beautiful capital, Lisbon completed, our next stop was the beaches of the Algarve.  After sharing a room and bunk beds at the hostel, we rented a Airbnb in Portimao, one with a rooftop terrace and a BBQ.  We were going to enjoy this part of the trip in comfort and privacy.  Our house was not on the beach but, in a quite neighbors  that was close enough to all of the major beaches by car.   The pace in Algarve was slower.  We would wake up each morning, drive to a beach or two, and return after sunset for a relaxing dinner on the terrace.

The slower pace meant I had time to think and reflect on the last year.  It had been a year since my father’s passing and going on this trip was a family moment of bonding and healing.  We wanted to celebrate life, to cry, to laugh, to live and worry less about what would happen tomorrow.

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Soul Poop: My European Adventure

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Seville, Spain

I’ve been spending some time reflecting on the past year and it seems fitting to start the new one with a look back at the last trip of the year.

I can say that 2017 was a year in which I threw my normal perfectionist-driven caution to the wind and I did one thing I had always craved to do – travel.

I have a hard time categorizing my fall trip to Europe.  It was an adventure, a family trip, a discovery quest, a time to put things to rest, to let go and cleanse the emotional blockage – as a friend described it, “a Soul Poop.”

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Wish For (Wednesday)

We’re thinking about the narrow cobblestone streets of Europe this afternoon. It would be lovely to start the day off with a fresh bun topped with cheese and tomato, a cup of coffee followed by stroll through Stare Miasto.

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First we would have to go to an ice cream shop and stop by the Royal Castle to eat Kinga’s favorite lunch, Zapiekanki. After an afternoon spent at museums we would catch up with family and old friends over a delicious dinner and a pint of Okocim. It has been 5 years since we last visited Poland and we think about it more and more as time goes by.

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With all of our fond memories, today #thekollektivewishfor a trip to Warsaw, Poland.

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