Missed us? Sorry we’ve been MIA this past month. I want to say its partially because the holiday season crept up on us and got us both really busy with a bunch of festivities shenanigans. But also, we sort of just accidentally abandoned this. SORRY.
But worry not – we’re back! We’ve got some fun content planned for you guys this year, and we can’t wait to share those with you 🙂
But first, let’s talk about Europe. Last month, my family and I got to visit Berlin and Amsterdam for two weeks and it was so much fun! As you may know, I was just in Berlin last September but I loved it so much that I didn’t mind returning so soon. Amsterdam, on the other hand, was my first time so I was SUPER excited about it.
But ya know, that excitement didn’t last too long because two days before the trip, I got hit with the “shit we messed up” realization, which was also super fun (not).
Long story short, the 20+ flight and two transits got us really confused so we miscalculated our arriving date and time. That means, we would’ve missed our flight to Berlin and lose so much $$$ on that plus Airbnb since we got those tickets on nonrefundable terms.
We considered to cancel the trip altogether by this point but due to some godly miracle, we managed to get seats on an (extremely full) standby flight a day early, and arrived in time to catch our Berlin flight.
So pro-tip to you and my future self is to:
1) triple check your flight booking both departure and arrival, 2) get travel insurance, and 3) as much as it hurts the wallet, sometimes it’s worth paying a higher rate for flexibility in case stuff happens.
Anyway, mini-crisis aside, let’s talk about some of my favorite places, in case you need some ideas 🙂
Back in September, I did a whole Eating in Berlin guide, here if you missed it. And tbh, a lot of the places I went to this time around were the same ones I liked from that trip.
I made sure to return to House of Small Wonder, my absolute favorite brunch place, they nailed it once again with their amazing food and lovely atmosphere. Even my family was really impressed with them and it became our comparison point for the rest of the brunches we had on the trip, a really high note to start off our trip.
I also went back to Portofino for their Gorgonzola pizza (which was 10/10). I’m also super happy because they gave us free Jell-O shots so I got my family to drink with me for once HAHAH.
And of course, it’s not a trip to Berlin without getting Curry 61, a staple fast food that I’ve been craving for. We upgraded to large this time because it was just THAT good.
Sightseeing / New Love
A couple of new favorites this time was the Gendarmenmarkt, one of the most beautiful and popular Christmas markets in Berlin. They start from the end of November and goes until the end of December, just in time for us to catch its last tail. People always talk about this ~ magical Christmas market ~ thing in Europe and it was my first time experiencing it. And let me tell you, it was all worth the hype.
From the many food stalls to mulled wine to random Christmas carols sung around the area, it was indeed a lovely time. Do know that the food will be kind of marked up (or so I think) but it was a really fun way to try out new things we don’t normally gravitate towards. They also had a LOT of cute souvenirs around, that I found to be more unique than the typical touristy stores.
Check out this neat little ornament I found.
Oh and since we had time this trip, I managed to book the free viewing to Reichstag Dome this time. Pro-tip, this is a nice viewing point that is completely free BUT you need to book at least a month in advance if you want to get a spot. Or else, you might have to wait in line for a long time with no guarantee of entry.
Unfortunately, it was a gloomy day when we went so we didn’t manage to catch sunset like we wanted to, but the interior was still nice enough for photos so I’d recommend it anyway.
When in Berlin, don’t forget to spare some time just walking around the different districts, you really never know what you’re going to find. Near Curry 61, we stumbled across this really cool graffiti area that was both picture-Esque and also filled with cute shops to wander around in.
I had some bucket list for brunch places in Berlin like Factory Girl and Father Carpenter but unfortunately, I didn’t manage to visit them this time.
Next time for sure!
THE NETHERLANDS / AMSTERDAM
Back in the Netherlands, we wasted no time and head off to our first mini trip to Zaanse Schans on our first full day there. Only about 40 minutes away from Amsterdam, this little town offers a nice change of scenery with just a quick train ride away.
Beware that this area IS touristy, so the food options are quite limited and honestly mediocre. But the windmill views and its neat attractions make Zaanse Schans a great walking-around-destination. Don’t miss the cheese factory for some yummy free cheese samples, and make a pit stop at the wooden shoe workshop, it’s super cute and its fun to look at the different kinds of clogs made throughout history.
Of course, everything in this town is photogenic and beautiful, so get your camera (and poses) ready.
We also squeezed in another mini trip to Utrecht while in Amsterdam since we’ve heard such good things about it. Utrecht is another canal town, similar to Amsterdam but arguably prettier since its smaller and less touristy than the city. Few highlights here include dapp frietwinkel for really fresh and delicious fries, Ted’s for aesthetic brunch (but the portion is smaller than expected), and the gorgeous Cathedral.
Unfortunately, the Dom Tower is currently under construction so we missed out on this popular landmark. It’s totally fine though – as always, my favorite part was walking around the streets anyway, and Utrech had a lot of little streets and shops to discover.
Back in the city, we had a couple of days left to explore the town. We visited the highly awaited Mr. Stacks, a famous vegan pancakes shop in the city and was blown by away by its seriously gorgeous presentation. The food was yummy too, but it was a rather dense pancake that I was sort of surprised by.
Not sure if this is because we came on New Year’s day but it was sort of a weird experience since it was so quiet when we went (even though there were about 6 other tables served around us). There was no music playing, no one in kitchen speaking, and it took them some time to even come to us and in which we were told we cannot place an order yet since the kitchen was not ready. So we had to just order a drink first and wait around some more before they could take our order and then more waiting for the food after.
Also, not sure if this is normal, but their trash was on the outside facing the customers’ tables so we could see when they dumped the rest of the food in there and was just not a pleasing sight to see.
Given their super high rating, I’m not sure if they were just having an off day or it was normally like that. I was just confused and honestly disappointed by their lack of professionalism that it kind of set the mood off even before the food arrived. I mean if you’re curious to try, it is a unique experience with absolutely beautiful plating – but I probably wouldn’t be returning.
We made a quick stop at Foodhallen after, similar to Grand Central Market in Los Angeles in a way that it’s an indoor food market. I liked the atmosphere a lot and honestly, the food was pretty good! It’s hard to find seats though, so just have to keep an eye out and scout-like an eagle if you visit…
Before we know it, it was the last day of our trip already so we finished off the trip with one last brunch at Factory Girl (a branch from Berlin). It was good and they were really friendly, but not as memorable as House of Small Wonder if we’re being honest.
We then visited the Van Gogh Museum for a quick look around – it’s a really neatly organized museum with nice storytelling so even for someone like me, who’s not super familiar with art or Van Gogh himself, the museum was a fun learning experience.
At last, it was time for the last meal and I met a friend at Umami by Han Amsterdam, an Asian fusion restaurant nearby.
This dinner was a really interesting concept because it was a 3-course meal that allowed us to choose 4 dishes per course for 2 persons.
It was a LOT of food, more than what we thought it’d be but I liked the experience overall. It’s definitely more on the pricey side though, about 40 Euro per person with a drink – but if you’re looking for a change from the usual European food, this place is a good one.
Oh btw – we also went to van Wonderen Stroopwafels for some fresh stroopwafels. Honestly, it was mostly worth it for the gram but I didn’t like it too much. The Pancake Bakery saved us on Christmas day as it was one of the few places that remained open, and I personally liked it, but my family thought it was a bit bland for their liking. So just keep these in mind if you want to give those a try!
If you made it this far, congratulations, you made it to the end! And also I love you 😉
Here’s my custom map of everything I visited/wanted to visit, for Berlin and Amsterdam, in case you want more details to plan. I tend to save these for reference in case I find myself in the city. Feel free to save mine too!
This Euro trip was a hell of a trip and I had so much fun even though we all got sick by the end (what else is new though). Anna and I are actually planning to go back sometime this year, maybe to London and Paris this time. It’s on our 2020 life plan so let’s see if we can make it happen.
If you got any Europe recs for us, please PLEASE share, we’re always in a hunt for good food.
Thanks for reading!