This is the insatiable Virginia! She came to visit me when I had a week off of school for Winter Break and we attempted to take Europe by storm! We titled our trip the European Appetizer Sampler and we hit five countries in ten days. We both ended up sick, but I'd do it again in a heart beat. She is an excellent travel partner and friend. Where's our next adventure Virginia?
Naturally the first thing we had to do when VA arrived in Oslo was get a hot dog with potato salad and crispy onions. If you come to visit me and think your first meal is not going to be that you are incorrect. It's delicious and perfect and everything a hotdog should be. Since we needed to cover so much ground in such a short amount of time we headed to the Viking Ship museum as soon as our hotdog was finished.
We asked the woman who checked us in at the hotel if she would recommend the Viking Ship museum and she asked us why? We explained our good friend Tami said it is the one thing you must see in Oslo, the hotel woman replied, "Well, do you trust Tami?" We half-heartedly replied yes, taken aback from her question and proceeded on to the museum. After some small complications getting on the correct bus we made it to the museum and our conclusion was we ABSOLUTELY trust Tami! It was very impressive.
They had an entire Viking Ship in the museum and two other partial ships. The carving detail was incredible, and it was of course all done by hand.
I can imagine how intimidating it must have been for people on land seeing these ships approach their shore. The Vikings were not known for their kindness, however their craftsmanship should not go unnoticed.
After that VA and I did some shopping in Oslo and called it an early night. We were due in Stockholm the next day for less then 24 hours and had to get our beauty sleep.
I must pause here for a brief moment to talk about what happened at the airport in Oslo on the way to Sweden. Virginia fell in love. We made it to the airport and bought lunch at a bakery in the airport. Here VA met her perfect sandwich and fell in love.
She loved this hearty baguette filled with pesto, huge chunks of brie, and thinly sliced tomatoes more than she had loved any sandwich in all her life. She named the sandwich - une sandwich. (She was practicing her French in preparation for Paris so everything was French.) Une sandwich was the love of her life and also a source of panic. What if she had peaked with food and the trip was only beginning? I assured her that Paris would not disappoint and we headed to Stockholm.
Stockholm was an experience! First we toured a good portion of Stockholm with luggage in hand just trying to find our hotel. On this adventure we did find a cute bakery and eventually made our way back there. Once we found our hotel we went exploring for real and found....nachos. We had TexMex in Stockholm. It left several things to be desired, but sometimes you just need a taste of home...or the closest proximity. We then found that cute bakery and I got a piece of Princess Cake!
I've wanted to try Princess Cake since I saw it on the Great British Bake Off and it did not disappoint. Layers of light sponge with soft cream and soaked rasperries on the bottom all covered in a lovely green fondant. Mary Berry would be proud. We then made it to the Stockholm Ice Bar!
I'm so glad we went, but I don't think I'm going to make it my life's goal to see all the Ice Bars in the world. I think once you've seen once you've seen them all. There was a drink included and it was pretty good.
We did have a lot of fun and the ponchos were warm!
Next on to Amsterdam!!!
Amsterdam unfortunately doesn't have a ton of pictures because it was raining the entire time and I was sick so I wasn't as contentiously taking pictures. We did arrive in Amsterdam that night and sought out Ristafel, an Indonesian dish our friend Cari recommended. As I did more reading many people encourage travelers to try the Indonesian food in Amsterdam and I'm so glad we did.
Ristafel is a rice dish with about 10 - 20 sides that accompany it and the heat level goes up as you eat. It was incredible. I think I could have eaten that every day we were in Amsterdam. At the restaurant we shared a table with an Australian, living in Brussels, visiting Amsterdam. He was full of helpful information, and to be perfectly honest VA and I just kept nodding and smiling because he was so cute! (
The next day we had a full day of sightseeing. We had tickets to the Anne Frank museum at 9:15 and then the Van Gogh museum at 11:30. There are no pictures allowed at the Anne Frank museum, but that was such an overwhelming experience. By the end VA and I were both in tears and in awe of the power of this young girl's words. I bought a postcard and it was my favorite picture I saw in the museum. It is a picture of Anne's father returning to the house where they were in hiding after the war and after his entire family died. His body and face has so much weight to it.
After the museum we had Dutch pancakes. I had poffertjes, which are small Dutch puffy pancakes served with jam. The picture is not good, but they were delicious.
Off to the Van Gogh Museum! Here I thought of my mother, a woman who not only appreciates art, but teaches it to her preschoolers (that is more patiences then I would EVER have!) and my middle and high school art teacher Ms. Jenkins. She taught me who Van Gogh was and to appreciate his style. Thank you Ms. Jenkins!
Photographs weren't allowed, so don't call the museum on me! This is of Van Gogh's pallet.
After the museum VA and I headed back to our hotel for a quick break before heading to the red light district later that night...when in Amsterdam! On the tram VA got of, the doors closed and I couldn't get off! I waived and prayed that we would find each other again! She didn't have cell service so we had no way of contacting each other and I couldn't get off the tram! Two stops later I hopped off and followed the tracks back to VA where I left her, after the panic of losing your travel buddy in a foreign city subsided we both fell over laughing! Those trams can be tricky!
After a quick nap we headed to the Red Light District. There are no photographs allowed here, in fact we read that your phone could be taken and thrown in the cannel! The red light district was a tourist trap with sadness. Things there felt sterile and dirty at the same time and it wasn't my favorite place. I'm glad we went, but I think the cheese I bought was the highlight of the evening.
Also the rumors are true Amsterdam loves bikes and canals are beautiful. I can just imagine how gorgeous they are when the tulips are in bloom!
The next day we got on a plane for Paris....but Paris deserves its own blog post all to herself!