Weekend in Bruges, Belgium

Last weekend we took a three hour train ride to the beautiful and romantic city of Bruges! Bruges, also sometimes spelled Brugge, is full of cobblestone pedestrian streets, old brick buildings, picturesque canals and of course amazing chocolate & waffles!

Ryker was so excited to be on the train and loved looking out the windows! (Also look at those blonde curls!!)
Made it to Bruges! Walking from the train station to our Airbnb and stopping to enjoy some of the beautiful canals and buildings.
We bought some Belgian chocolate here – yum! And some Stroopwaffles (which I believe are Dutch, I first discovered them in Amsterdam, and they are AMAZING!)
The Watson family in front of the Belfry of Bruges!
When in Belgium… had to get a Belgian waffle! It was better than I ever imagined a waffle could be. I went to Chez Albert, although there are many many places you can get a good waffle. I saw them making it, and the dough that was put into the waffle machine was super think, more like a biscuit than how we normally make waffle batter. I need to figure out how to make these!
Caught red handed eating sand :) A really cool park around the corner from our Airbnb
The rain didn’t stop us from exploring!
The boys in front of Church of Our Lady Bruges
Belgian beer! Really good beer flight at The Bruges Beer Experience. Ryker loved playing with the coasters and throwing them on the ground.
Walking and exploring the cute streets.
One of the chocolate shops had this really cool hot chocolate bar! It was delicious and perfect for a raining afternoon.
We went out to dinner on Saturday and ordered one of the traditional Belgian meals – mussels and frites!
Despite that look on his face, Ryker actually really liked eating the mussels!
More pretty canals :)
Sunday morning walk to the Markt of Bruges, we beat the rest of the tourists!
Eric and Ryker and the Belfry.
Sleepy dude :)
Dancing in the rain in front of Sint-Salvatorskathedraal!

Thanks for a great family weekend getaway Bruges!

Paris Parks!

We have experienced a lot since being in Paris! In order to best blog about our time here, we’re going to break it down into several themed posts, such as tourist attractions, life in Paris, people in Paris, our visitors, what we do day to day…etc. I’m going to start off my talking about the parks in Paris!

One of the things we do very often is picnic in a park! Sometimes Ryker and I meet Eric at a park for lunch, and once or twice a week Ryker and I will venture out to a new area of town, bring lunch and enjoy! I pack Ryk some snacks and usually pick up a sandwich from a nearby Boulangerie (on an AMAZING baguette – the bread here is delicious) or a salad and croissant (I should do a whole post one day about the croissants haha). There are so many parks here – some huge and some tiny. Some with play structures, some with ponds and waterfalls. Some in epic building courtyards, and some in quiet relaxing neighborhoods.

I tried to organize these park pictures by Ryker’s age, with the most recent ones being last. It’s crazy to see how’s he changed in the couple months we’ve been here!

This is our closest park – a great neighborhood park with sand, play structures, grass, and lots of other kids!
Another picnic at our close neighborhood park – Thomas Jefferson Square
Picnic in Montemarte at Square Marcel Bleustein Blanchet – my favorite park in Paris!
Some random park day, this was when Ryker was just starting to scoot/crawl and he really wanted to get that small flower.
This is how Ryker and I take on the town when we go for adventures!
Front pack baby at Square of Saint-Jacques Tower
Enjoying some cheese and cucumbers at Jardin Anne-Frank
Picnic (after a family run along the river) at Square René Viviani, chewing something yummy!
I can’t remember where this one was, but we were eating raspberries! :)
Picnic right outside of the Louvre at Jardin des Tuileries!
Stopping on a bench for a strawberry snack!
Meeting dad for lunch at Parc Monceau. This is a big park that is always packed with people enjoying the day! Kids playing, people on lunch breaks, school’s “recess” etc. Fun place! Eric is taking Ryker to go look at the leaves :)
Picnic at a park near the rugby stadium – taking a break from watching the rugby 7s tournament!
A play area in the Parc Rives De Seine – another one of my favorites. Bonus points because it is close to one of my favorite coffee shops! (Le Peloton Café)
Yum! Another delicious picnic at Square Marcel Bleustein Blanchet in Montemarte.
Nice summer day :)
During the first heatwave, we (and a lot of other Parisians) took a dip in the Trocadero Fountains!
Back at Parc Rives De Seine – Ryker is excited to be able to crawl through this structure!
Place des Vosges
Look at this park loving cutie!! Who is starting to stand! (At Jardin Villemin near the canal St. Martin)
Family park picnics are the best! A great way to get out and enjoy the city and the sun!

Santorini, Greece!

We just got back from an AMAZING trip to Greece! It was absolutely beautiful and a perfect, relaxing vacation. We hiked, walked around town exploring the awesome & unique Greek architecture, chilled on our Airbnb porch, ate a lot of tomatoes, cucumbers, and Greek fava, & loaded Ryker up with so much sunscreen haha. Great trip! More details in the captions below!

Baby is asleep, time to enjoy some wine with a view from our Airbnb!
Our Airbnb was AMAZING! What made it such a great experience were our hosts. The host’s mom lived next door and she adored Ryker and brought us homemade Greek treats almost every day. We felt like we were part of the family!
Enjoying the sunset while eating Tomatokeftedes Santorinis (fried tomato fritters) that she made us!
Our awesome cave Airbnb! We stayed in the town of Finikia, which was about a ten minute walk from Oia. It was perfect! We were able to live among the locals, but could easily access the restaurants, wine bars and beautiful streets of Oia.
One of the many stunning views of walking around Oia. Oia is the town on the island known for its beauty and sunsets as well as a romantic and more quiet feeling. (On the other hand Fira is the capital of Santorini and is known more for shops and nightlife.)
Wandering Oia!
This was the rooftop of a library/bookstore in Oia – so cool! Also a perfect diaper changing spot because nobody was there ;)
Santorini wine! At a cute little spot called Meteor Cafe in Oia.
Oia! From here is where we hiked down to Amoudi Bay.
One afternoon we ventured down many steps to beautiful Amoudi Bay. The water was perfect and refreshing and it was so much fun to watch Ryker play in this little tide pool – he loved it! His favorite thing to do was move the rocks around in the water!
Freshly caught octopus in Amoudi Bay, we ate some of this (after it was grilled in delicious spices) and it was amazing!
Amoudi Bay – Ryker just woke up from his nap on the go and is ready for the water!
Ryker loved playing with and sorting these rocks! He would make piles and move them from one side of Eric’s legs to the other, back and forth :) Ryker loved playing in this little ocean puddle!
Happy mama and baby!
Delicious calamari from Dimitris Taverna! So fresh!
One afternoon we did a little wine tasting at Domaine Sigalas. It was about a ten minute walk from our Airbnb and had great wines!
Ryker and Eric ready for our big hike! We hiked from the town of Fira all the way to Oia, which is about 6.5 miles.
Spectacular views along the whole hike!
The Fira>Oia hike takes you through several towns as well as some volcanic landscape right along the coast.
More great hiking views!
Sweaty and extremely lathered in sunscreen! Amazingly none of us got sunburned on this trip :)
We picked up gyros and kababs one night for a picnic dinner with an epic view.
On our last day, we spent an afternoon at Kamari beach! We didn’t stay long because of the heat and sun, but we all got to get in the water and cool off!

Definitely a trip to remember! I highly recommend a Santorini vacation! :)

Amanda & Ryker go to Strasbourg!

Hello! Eric and I have been terrible about keeping our blog up to date while living abroad in Paris – but now we’re going to try and catch up! Living in Paris has been a really cool experience, and we’ll write a few posts about that soon. For now I’m going to catch you up on a trip Ryker and I took, and then the next post will be about our trip to Greece!!

Last week, while Eric was in Africa, I decided to take a spur of the moment overnight trip with Ryker to the fairy tale picturesque town of Strasbourg, France. This adorable town is right on the boarder of Germany. It actually used to be the capital of Alsace Lorraine, so there’s a huge German influence (yay pretzels!!)

Strasbourg is a two hour train ride from Paris, and Ryker was great on the train ride! He made lots of friends, played with cups – throwing them off his seat over and over, and took a short nap! For the two days we were there, we pretty much just wandered around the town – it’s one of the cutest towns I’ve ever been to!! We stopped in a few cafes, played in a park, and even found a coffee shop that had a bunch of baby toys and books to play with. It was raining most of the time, but that didn’t stop us from adventuring out with our umbrella! Our little Aribnb was cute and quite quirky, the floor was very slanted haha, so all of Ryker’s toys and balls would end up in the same corner of the apartment, but it was great for a night!

I highly recommend a quick visit to this town! Check out the pictures!

Happy boy getting off the train and into a new town!
Happy boy getting off the train and into a new town!

Cute Strasbourg! Walking along the canal.
Cute Strasbourg! Walking along the canal.


Had to stop and get a pretzel - yum!
Had to stop and get a pretzel – yum!

More wandering the town
More wandering the town



Cathédrale Notre Dame de Strasbourg!
Cathédrale Notre Dame de Strasbourg!

So beautiful! Sun came out on Sunday!
So beautiful! Sun came out on Sunday!

My date buddy! Glass of rose for me, puffs for him! :)
My date buddy! Glass of rose for me, puffs for him! :)

He LOVED crawling around this park, and especially the dirt (especially eating the dirt haha)
He LOVED crawling around this park, and especially the dirt (especially eating the dirt haha)

Sunday morning Coffee date!
Sunday morning Coffee date!

My little boy!
My little boy!


The Bests and the Worsts

It’s hard to believe that one year ago we got married and departed on an epic adventure! In celebration of a year going by, I dug up this list we created as we were heading home… some of our favorite things, places, experiences, and some of the not so favorite as well :)

  • Best Castle
    • Amanda: Tower of London
    • Eric: Edinburgh Castle, Scotland
  • Best Meal
    • Both: The Tagine Kefta at Tommy’s in Fez, Moracco
  • Best Hike
    • Both: Rio Chillar in Nerja, Spain
  • Best Beach
    • Amanda: Nerja’s small beach
    • Eric: Lagos small beach we ran to
  • Best Beer
    • Amanda: Hofbrauhaus at Oktoberfest, Munich
    • Eric: Pilsner dark lager (has another name) in Prague
  • Funniest Moment
    • Both – Something to do with Bill…
  • Most Surprisingly Great Thing:
    • Amanda: The Lagos Coastline
    • Eric: Scuba Diving
  • Favorite Place Overall
    • Both: Koh Tao, Thailand
  • Most Foreign Experience:
    • Amanda: The prayer calls in Fez, Morocco
    • Eric: The Mekong river boat ride in Laos
  • Worst Airport Experience:
    • Both: Wuhan, China
  • Best Airport
    • Both: Copenhagen by far!
  • Best Restaurant
    • Both: Su Chilli’s on Koh Tao in Thailand!!!
  • Best Night Out
    • Both: Lisbon, Portugal
  • Best Day Drinking
    • Both: Oktoberfest in Munich
  • Most Disappointing Thing
    • Amanda: Luang Prabang, Laos
    • Eric: Pinxtos in Bilbao, Spain (Amanda agrees here too!)
  • Best Architecture
    • Amanda: Everything in Prague!
    • Eric: The Guggenheim, Bilbao, Spain
  • Craziest Drivers
    • Amanda: China
    • Eric: Morocco taxis
  • Most Surprisingly Awesome City
    • Amanda: Stockholm, Sweden
    • Eric: Granada, Spain
  • Worst City
    • Both: Wuhan, China
  • Coolest Bar
    • Amanda: Fizz in Koh Tao, Thailand
    • Eric: Szimpla Kert in Budapest, Hungary (So epic!!!)
  • Best Sunset
    • Both: Koh Tao from Sairee Beach, Thailand
  • Best Sporting Experience
    • Amanda: The Usa/South Africa rugby game
    • Eric: The Scotland/Samoa rugby game
  • Place We’d Most Want to Live
    • Amanda: Stockholm, Sweden
    • Eric: Lisbon, Portugal
  • Best Accomodations
    • Amanda: Bergen, Norway AirBnb
    • Eric: Fez, Morocco AirBnb
  • Coldest Experience
    • Amanda: Scotland nights in the van
    • Eric: Walking around Vienna
  • Prettiest Nature (really hard queation!):
    • Amanda: Glencoe, Scotland
    • Eric: The fjords of Norway
  • Country with the Worst Food
    • Both: Laos
  • Country with the Best Food
    • Both – Thailand
  • Worst Accommodations
    • Both: Algeciras, Spain Hostel/Hotel
  • Biggest Life Revelation:
    • Amanda: Having her own fitness comapny/gym
    • Eric: He wants more technical work
  • Moment You Felt the Happiest:
    • Amanda: Going on a long solo run/hike reflecting on life in Nerja, Spain
    • Eric: Sitting on the beach in Nerja, Spain
  • Thing you Missed the Most:
    • Amanda: My girl friends
    • Eric: The vitamix
  • Thing you Didn’t Miss the Most
    • Both: Bay Area traffic
  • The Thing you Realized about California
    • Amanda: That SF is an AWESOME city, can’t beat it!
    • Eric: The people are better and really nice, easy to communicate
  • The Best Item you’d Want to Have in our Future House
    • Amanda: A Spanish microwave (we have one now!)
    • Eric – Two duvet covers on the bed like they do in Scandinavia 
  • Best/Most Interesting History
    • Amanda: Prague, Czech Republic
    • Eric:  Scotland


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Chiang Mai – Northern Thailand

We ventured around Northern Thailand for 4 days, and it was great! One day we explored beyond the city limits of Chiang Mai by going on a nice bike ride to the mountains and then a hike. Another day we went to an elephant sanctuary where we got to feed elephants, give them a bath, and then play with them in the mud.

For the other two days we ventured to Pai, a town about 3 hours north of Chiang Mai. Once there, we rented a scooter for a day and drove up and down the hills and mountains, stopping in some small villages. We saw a lot of the Thai agriculture, many locals just livin’ life, and some great views. These pictures of our time in Northern Thailand will tell you more than I can describe in words :)

Here’s a whole separate post of the elephant pictures because there are too many great ones!

Bike ride from Chiang Mai!

After biking to the base of a mountain, we had a picnic in this cute river hut!
After biking to the base of a mountain, we had a picnic in this cute river hut!

Picnic time!

Then we hiked through the jungle...
Then we hiked through the jungle…


To this waterfall!! Then we biked back to Chiang Mai and made it just before dark
To this waterfall!! Then we biked back to Chiang Mai and made it just before dark

A pit stop on our scooter ride through Pai
A pit stop on our scooter ride through Pai

Pretending to fish with a bamboo pole we found


Sometimes the hills were too steep and we had to have one person walk up the hill and the other walk the bike up hahah :)

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Elephant Sanctuary in Chiang Mai!

Here are a few of the many pictures we took on our day with the elephants, what amazing animals! Quote from Amanda… “Elephants are like a mix between aliens and dinosaurs” :)

A baby!!

Elephant kisses!

Elephant kisses!!

This one was trying to sneakily grab the bananas from behind Eric’s back!

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Quick Day in Bangkok #2

As we travel from the south to the north of Thailand, we swung through Bangkok for another day of exploring. It’s a great break between the 12 hour ferry/bus ride from Koh Tao, and the 14 hour train ride we are about to embark on to Chiang Mai. We slept in, got breakfast, then went for a jog through the city to the train station to get our tickets for later that evening. Then Eric & I walked around and grabbed a water taxi back to our hostel.

The water taxi was quite the experience! I just kept laughing as the boat workers were yelling in Thai, jam-packing people onto the boat. They’d be shouting in Thai, and shaking this metal tube filled with change. This went on for a little while, then with the use of universally understood hand motions we (and the other few non-Thai tourists) realized they were trying to get us to go even further into the boat, which seemed like an impossible task. Let’s just say you quickly get to know all your neighbors, and whether or not they’ve showered recently… hahaha. And it was like that at every stop along the river! So by the time you reach your stop, of course you’re way at the front of the boat, problem is the boats are loaded and unloaded from the back, so now it’s time to wiggle and weave back through the people in order to get off the taxi boat. It was an awesome, authentic Thai experience as we were jammed next to Thai kids, adults going to work and monks, all of us going down the river together.

After the awesome taxi boat, we grabbed some snacks for our journey ahead and some street food for dinner. We then took a regular taxi (which are all bright pink in Bangkok) and just barely caught our train.

By the way, I’ve always thought the traffic in the Bay Area was the absolute worst, but that was before experiencing the traffic in Bangkok… It took us twice as long in the taxi than it took us when we ran to the train station earlier that morning. Thus the reason we nearly missed our train. I’m convinced that some intersections don’t have traffic lights, I think the drivers just have this pact to wait behind a crosswalk until one risky motorbike decides to make a go for it across the intersection, then everyone else follows suit!

But good news is, we didn’t miss our train, and we had an awesome taxi driver who laughed at everything he said (must have been a funny guy, but we couldn’t understand him so we just laughed along anyways).

We’ll get one more stop in Bangkok right before we leave Thailand to come home, but for now – off to Chiang Mai!!

PS – this is us so in need of somethung to do on the train that we guessed how many raisins were in the pack, then counted them hahah. Eric won, my estimation was pitiful :)

So long Koh Tao!

The time has come for us to leave Koh Tao, nooo! This is the first place that I was really sad to leave, its no wonder why a big chunk of the island population is 30 year old ex-pats that travelled there, found a job and never left…the island sucks you in!

What will we miss? Daily beach visits, jungle hikes, delicious food, friendly Thai locals, awesome other backpackers, amazing scuba diving, and many cool cafes and bars right on the beach.

Plus, we both treated our 3 1/2 week on Koh Tao as a “mini fitness retreat” haha. No doubt we’ve been active nearly everyday while traveling, but it’s just not the same as getting tough workouts in. So we both joined gyms and whipped our own butts into shape, successfully! Eric did a lot of Muy Thai (sometimes two training sessions in one day!) and lifted at the gym. I joined a crossfit gym and ran. We also did several steep hikes. Plus, it’s soo humid here, we were just constantly sweating haha. It was fun and we both reached our goals, yipee!

We’ve got the chill island, laid back vibe going on and it’s not bad :) I highly recommend Koh Tao if you’re planning a trip to Thailand anytime in the future. Next up? A quick day in Bangkok, then a night train up to Chaing Mai, in northern Thailand. We’ll keep you posted!


So… We’re Still on Koh Tao in Thailand

So 9 days later and we are still on the island of Koh Tao! We originally were planning on staying here for only 5 days, but the night before our ferry off the island (my birthday) we didn’t want to leave – this place is too amazing! So we decided to stay an extra three weeks here! :) Here’s what we’ve been up to and why we are loving Koh Tao…

  • The island life is so relaxing. This is the happiest and most relaxed I’ve felt all trip! (The same for Eric as well)
  • It is beautiful and hot here, I mean look at these pictures!
  • The hiking is great! Steep and very very sweaty
  • The snorkeling is amazing – best I’ve ever seen
  • …Which is what lead us to getting scuba diving certified! You’re looking at (reading about) two officially certified divers as of today!
  • Koh Tao is one of the best diving locations in the world, we can’t wait to get in a few more dives while we are here – there are SO many different dive sights all around the island!
  • The Thai culture is neat and the Thai people are so nice
  • The tourists here are also a great group of people. Koh Tao is a hard island to get to, so it really attracts what I would call “dedicated travelers and backpackers”, people who are here for the adventure. Almost all of the tourists here, or the ex-pats that are living or temporarily living here, are age 20-35, super adventurous, very chill & down to earth, and are up to join you for a hike, swim or dive followed by a few drinks on the beach.
  • You have to (GET TO!) take of your shoes before entering any store, restaurant, hostel, dive shop, or home as it is a sign of respect. It’s quite free-ing to be barefoot all the time :)
  • The Thai food is DELICIOUS!!! Our go to restaurant is Su Chili’s, we go there about every other night now because nothing else beats it. Best street food = pad thai, fried chicken over rice, or a fresh fruit and muesli bowl. We have amazing fruit smoothies every day, and sometimes grab a peanut butter banana Thai “pancake” for dessert. Yum!
  • Many, many beach bars to grab a drink at and watch the beautiful sunset
  • There are also many cool coffee shops and cafes for us to duck into midday to beat the heat and work a bit (I’m still working on my fitness certification & Eric still has some contracting he is doing)
  • IT IS CHEAP. Very Cheap. $8/hour Thai massage cheap. Less than $2 pad thai cheap. Really nice dinner for two = $12…
  • The jungle is cool



Can you see the massive spider??


This is our FAVORITE place to get Pad Thai, best pad thai on the island! We like is so much we asked our gal Pe-noot if she could teach us how to make it – she agreed and let us take the reins! Now we can make you delicious pad thai :)

The end result of our pad thai skills!

One of many beautiful hikes

We are now scuba certified! Can’t wait to go on more dives during our two more weeks here.