3 DAYS, 2 NIGHTS IN AMSTERDAM

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GETTING THERE

To get from Barcelona to Amsterdam, I hopped on a Vueling flight.  Unlike Ryanair, I didn’t have to pay ridiculous baggage fees, so I was already a happy camper.

WHERE TO LAY YOUR HEAD ON A PILLOW

My friends and I stayed at Hotel Europa 92, which was centrally located to the things we chose to do during our time in Amsterdam.  While the location was cool, that’s where the buck stopped.  Personally, I would not choose to stay here again.  Lack of heat (Amsterdam was cold and rainy…I had to breakdown and buy a coat, bah humbug), not-so-friendly staff, rotten cheese for breakfast…no bueno.  This was not my cup of tea.

GETTING AROUND AMSTERDAM

It was fairly easy to get around Amsterdam, especially with a tram stop right across the street from our hotel.  When we weren’t hopping on the tram, we opted for Uber or a taxi instead.  We did this when we got caught in the rain, which happened several times during our trip.  A heads up, there’s a night tax for taxis.  I can’t recall the exact price, but I remember it was disrespectful!  I didn’t rent a bike, but I plan to do that the next time I visit Amsterdam (speaking it into existence).

WHERE TO EAT

Dutch pancakes and dutch apple pie…both definitely make my top ten list of foods I enjoyed in Europe.  Head to Wikel 43 for dutch apple pie.  It was packed, so be prepared to wait.  Trust me though, it is worth the wait!

Now onto these pancakes.  Looking at De Vier Pilaren’s menu, I was both excited and skeptical.  I eventually settled on a pancake burger and had no clue what to expect.  Y’all, it changed my life!  We were all stuffed from the savory pancakes, so we didn’t have room to try the sweet poffertjes.  Looking at them, I can only imagine that they taste like mini-funnel cakes.  I’m still bummed I didn’t get to try the poffertjes.  If you dine at De Vier Pilaren, consider going dutch on the bill and the bites.  Perfect way to cut down on the costs and try multiple things on the menu.  

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Finally, if you want a bunch of options, head to Food Hallen.  Similar to Time Out in Lisbon, it’s a lively market with an array of food, a dj, and the perfect social atmosphere.

THINGS TO DO

If it floats your boat, visit a coffee shop.  Notice I didn’t include this in the section on food (hint hint).  It’s my understanding that a café is a casual restaurant/bar, a koffiehuis (coffee house) serves coffee, and a coffee shop specializes in recreational activities.  #WhenInAmsterdam

Okay, now for the activities.  Minus a few exceptions, I’m not a huge fan of museums or historic sites.  Nonetheless, I thoroughly enjoyed visiting the Anne Frank House.  Grab your headphones, comfortable attire, and get lost in the history for a few hours.  I could’ve stayed longer; the best 9 € I ever spent.  I’d recommend purchasing tickets at least a day in advance to be on the safe side.  

After you’ve had your history fix, enjoy the more chill things that Amsterdam has to offer.  Walk around the Red Light District, check out the canals in the Jordaan District, take a picture in front of the I Amsterdam sign.  Whatever you decide to do, you won’t be disappointed.  I can’t wait to get back to Amsterdam.  Even in the dreary weather, I had a great time!

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BUDGET

Here’s a breakdown of my budget for three days in Amsterdam.  

Item Cost
Barcelona → Amsterdam 74 € = 89 USD
Accommodations 133 € = 160 USD
Getting Around 30 € = 36 USD
Food and Drinks 61 € = 73 USD
Activities 22 € = 26 USD
Total 320  € =  384 USD

*I used an exchange rate of 1 € = 1.2 USD

Until next time, Amsterdam! Ciao for now,

Marissa

 

6 DAYS, 5 NIGHTS IN BARCELONA

GETTING THERE

After less than 48 hours in La Rioja, my friends and I headed to Barcelona.  We arrived in about four hours on the Renfe train, which is apparently the mode of transportation to use when exploring Spain.

WHERE TO LAY YOUR HEAD ON A PILLOW

We stayed at an Airbnb in Catalonia.  The Airbnb was nice, but definitely pricey compared to my pre-Spain accommodations.  It was located in a safe neighborhood, spacious, modern technology, so I guess a splurge is nice every now and then…I say that now, but wait until I get to the budget section.

GETTING AROUND BARCELONA

Up to this point, I’ve relied heavily on my own two feet to get around — good for my wallet and my waistline.  When traveling with others, majority rules.  So in Barcelona, I found myself in quite a few taxis.  At times, we found it difficult to find open cabs in Catalonia.  So if this is your transportation of choice, be prepared to wait.  One day I insisted we walk and we stumbled upon Park Güell.  Great views, architecture by Gaudí, a quick workout…what’s not to like?

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WHERE TO EAT

Do yourself a favor and make your way to La Boqueria.  You won’t be disappointed!  Located in Las Ramblas, you can eat until your heart’s content then explore the area.  You can snack on fresh fruits, nuts, enjoy a smoothie, or sit down for a larger meal.  I was super hungry when I visited La Boqueria, so I did the latter.  I ate at El Quim de La Boqueria.  I waited for a seat at the bar for at least 30 minutes, but it was well worth the wait.  I had the salmon, second only to the salmon I had in Porto (I swear I still think about that salmon from time to time).  As I ate my food, I eyed all of the other options, which looked equally delicious.  If I return, I’ll definitely eat there again.

THINGS TO DO

Barcelona has so much to offer, so deciding what to do depends on your interests.  Explore Catalonia, Las Ramblas, Gothic Quarter…like I said, options.  

My friend and I decided to get tickets to La Sagrada Familia.  We were able to get same-day tickets online, but options were limited, so if you’re interested in going inside try to secure tickets at least a day in advance to be on the safe side.  In my opinion, going inside wasn’t worth the 15 € entry fee.  Don’t get me wrong, when you step inside, it’s breathtaking.  But after that first breath, that’s about it.

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I didn’t make it to a fútbol match (blasphemy).  I just couldn’t bring myself to spend 200 € on a ticket for a sport that I don’t particularly enjoy…or was it $200?  Either way, I didn’t partake.  My friends went and they had a great time.  So if this is your goal (see what I did there), sounds like it’s worth the price tag.

 

BUDGET

Here’s a breakdown of my budget for six days in Barcelona.  I lost track of some expenses (especially transportation) so I just rounded up here and there.  Better to overestimate than under.  Don’t be too alarmed by the cost of food and drinks; a lot of our meals paired well with wine…bottles of wine.  Remember earlier when I said I was fine with an occasional splurge?  After looking at this breakdown, I’m not.

Item Cost
La Rioja → Barcelona 25 € = 30 USD
Accommodations 330 € = 396 USD
Getting Around 30 € = 36 USD
Food and Drinks 200 € = 240 USD
Activities 15 € = 18 USD
Total 600  € =  720 USD

*I used an exchange rate of 1 € = 1.2 USD

Ciao for now,

Marissa