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!
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!
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!
Definitely a trip to remember! I highly recommend a Santorini vacation! :)
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!
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 :)
Amanda: Tower of London
Eric: Edinburgh Castle, Scotland
Both: The Tagine Kefta at Tommy’s in Fez, Moracco
Both: Rio Chillar in Nerja, Spain
Amanda: Nerja’s small beach
Eric: Lagos small beach we ran to
Amanda: Hofbrauhaus at Oktoberfest, Munich
Eric: Pilsner dark lager (has another name) in Prague
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
Both: Copenhagen by far!
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!)
Amanda: Everything in Prague!
Eric: The Guggenheim, Bilbao, Spain
Eric: Morocco taxis
Most Surprisingly Awesome City
Amanda: Stockholm, Sweden
Eric: Granada, Spain
Both: Wuhan, China
Amanda: Fizz in Koh Tao, Thailand
Eric: Szimpla Kert in Budapest, Hungary (So epic!!!)
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
Amanda: Bergen, Norway AirBnb
Eric: Fez, Morocco AirBnb
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
Country with the Best Food
Both – Thailand
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
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 :)
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!!
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 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…