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For the Love of Travel Series- Amanda from Poppies and Ice Cream (Guest Post)

This week, I am introducing you to Amanda a fellow expat here in the Netherlands who blogs over at Poppies and Ice Cream. Amanda is fluent in Spanish and has offered to help me improve my language skills. This is one of the many, many reasons I love having a blog, you get to meet so many interesting people. 

Here it goes. 

Tell the readers a bit about you.
 
I am a Mexican-Swiss-British (by accident) girl. Sounds complicated, but, it’s not so much. I was born in the UK (because my parents were studying there), my mom is Mexican, my father is Swiss and my lovely husband is Dutch. I am a biologist / veterinarian who loves baking, reading, traveling, discovering new places, jumping around like crazy and red dresses.
 
Where are you at this moment?
 
I currently live in The Netherlands.
 
Where did you grow up?
 
I grew up in Mexico, where I lived in different cities.
 
What is your favorite destination and why?
 
After thinking long and hard (there are just so many places I love), I think the answer is Barcelona. The first time I went there I was just “passing by”, on my way back to Geneva, Switzerland, where I studied at the time, after having spent the summer working at a Physiology lab in Santiago de Compostela. I went to Barcelona to visit a friend, whom I had met in Venice at the youth-hostel where we stayed, and also, because back when low-cost airlines were just starting, cheap flights were only available from “La ciudad condal”. As soon as I set foot in the
city I knew I would be back. To live. And I did. First I stayed a year, as an Erasmus student, and then I went back for 4 years to study my second degree. The city is full of life, and magic I would say. It is lively, young and international. It has everything you could wish for: mountains, check. The beach, check. Lots of parks, check. Cultural activities at every moment, check. Lovely medieval streets where to get lost, places full of history in unexpected places*, delicious food, friendly people, buildings that could belong in fairy tales**, perfect weather, beautiful avenues….
 
*For example, the Biblioteca Nacional de Catalunya lays in the building which used to be the very same Hospital, dating from the 15th century, where Santiago Ramón y Cajal worked and made his fascinating discoveries on the ways neurons work.
 
** Doesn’t the houses in Park Guell look out of Hansel and Gretel? And what about Casa Batllo or Casa Milla? Green dragon backs, towers that seem made of soft ice-cream….
 
What is your least favorite destination and why?
 
I have yet to find a place that I haven’t loved. I guess we always try to make the most out of any trip and even if I find myself in a seemingly abandoned train station in the middle of nowhere, I can always read a book, go to the supermarket to search for the local treats, or go to a movie theater or a square and just sit and people-watch.
 
What is your favorite vacation memory?
 
It must have been the time I met my husband on an airplane. He was sitting right next to me and we did not stop talking for the duration of the flight. (You can read all about it on Poppies and Ice Cream
 
What is your profession and do you ever travel for business?
 
I am a veterinarian, though I do not currently work in my field. I used to work for a big hotel-reservations website, but I spent my time reading guest reviews and learning all about which hotels had mice, lizards or squirrels and which were located near good restaurants, among other crazy stories. I did not really get to travel for work though.
 
How do you pack and do you have any items that you have to take with you?
 
I normally pack in the last-minute rush; sometimes early in the morning of the day I am traveling. I try to bring items that can be used more than once and combined in different ways (jeans, one or two thick sweaters, a scarf, t-shirts in colors that go with everything else). It is important to bring a good jacket, a rain-coat depending on your destination and comfortable shoes that will not make your feet hurt after lots and lots of walking. If it’ll be warm lots of dresses and a denim jacket do the trick. I bring an extra plastic bag or two as well as Ziplocs. Snacks, tissue and some first-aid supplies* are always good to have with you.
 
** anti-inflammatories, Pepto-Bismol tablets, band-aids, disinfectant…
 
Do you have any trips planned for the future?
 
Yes, we are headed to Northern California (San Francisco and the surrounding area) later this year. I am so excited.
 
How do you plan your trips?
 
I think of a place (I pretty much want to go everywhere, so that is not normally a problem), I figure out the cheapest way to get there (bus, low-cost airline, train) and try to find out if there are any offers for our destination of choice (for instance every now and then airlines release discounted tickets for short periods of time). Right now there are many websites that let you compare rates among companies, I use these to check prices and then book directly with the company involved. Road trips are also lots of fun, Google maps is a great tool to find the places where you would like to stop between A and B and to calculate reasonable distances to travel every day of a journey. Once we sort all of that out, we find a place to stay. We like clean places that are well communicated (even if we have to take public transportation, that´s ok, it adds to the travel experience). I have stayed in youth hostels before, but nowadays in Europe the rates start at circa 25 EUR per night, and since I travel with my husband, with that price we can already stay at a nice, simple hotel, with lots of added comfort and privacy. Staying at apartments is also great because you get to cook your own meals and spare some pennies that you can spend otherwise. After that it is just a matter of studying the place, figuring out if there are specific sights / museum exhibits / restaurants or bars / places that we would like to visit, and otherwise, once there, we just get a map (often free at Tourist Offices) and proceed to get lost in the city and let it surprise us.
 
What is your dream vacation?
 
Oh this one is hard. I really would like to see South East Asia: Vietnam, Cambodia, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia… Costa Rica is also pending on my list. But if you just bring me to France or Italy I will be happy as well. I still have to go to Chiapas, Tulum and Palenque in Mexico. I like to see the places, know the people and experience the local culture, so pretty much any destination will suit me.
 
What kind of traveler are you?
 
I tend to prefer city trips, and I love flying, airports are among my favorite places on earth. Traveling by train is also exciting though, I would like to take the Trans-Siberian train from Russia to China, through all the countries in between once.(Kaitlin here, this is my ultimate travel dream too!) I normally travel with my husband, or with my family. I have also traveled with my 2 best friends, during college. I don’t normally take group tours, I kind of hate being told what to do and given a limited schedule. I prefer discovering things by myself, and stumbling upon places by surprise, which is why we like to walk and walk and walk. Beach vacations and camping are also fun, but I think those are a lot more fun as children or if you are traveling with kids. These days, we kind of get bored if we are just laying in the sun not doing anything. For our honeymoon we combined 3 days of beach- chilling in the Mexican Pacific coast (which were more than enough) with a road trip that took us to other cities (Colima, Guadalajara, Tequila, Tlaquepaque, Manzanillo, Puerto Vallarta, Tenacatita).
 
Thanks so much Amanda, I had so much fun reading about your adventures. If you have any comments, leave them below. Nothing would make our day brighter! And, if you want to participate in the For Love of Travel Series, send me some love at gapeachabroad@gmail.com
 
Barcelona 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Kaitlin's Guide to March in Utrecht

Isn't it always the case that you find out about a great event the day it is happening? Or, you browse a ton of sites looking for what is interesting to you, but you are 5 pages deep and everything has to do with techno music or mommy and me? Sorry, just tried to think of things I have no interest in. I mean this happens to you too, right? Which is why I have decided to put together a guide for people like me on what to do in the Netherlands each month. 

Let's start with Utrecht, because well this is where I live.

Utrecht

  • Cafe Theater Festival: March 1st-3rd, Various Locations. FREE. Even if you don't speak Dutch, this free festival which happens in cafes throughout the city will be entertaining, All you have to do is look at the schedule and go to the performances of your choice. Last year, Loek and I stumbled in on Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. Unfortunately, I'm home sick today and have to work all weekend. 
  • Big Spring Sale: March 3rd, 13:00 to 17:00, Utrecht Central Library Branch. This sale of movies, cds, and books is a great place to get some materials for practicing your dutch.
  • Stitch 'n BitchEvery Tuesday, 19:30, Winkel Van Sinkel. FREE. Bring your knitting needles and engage in some gossip every Tuesday.
  • Delivered Ideals- Peace of Utrecht: March 11th, 20:00, Academy Building University of Utrecht. FREE. I am sure I mentioned before that this year marks the 300th anniversary of Treaty of Utrecht. As such the University is putting on a series of lectures about peace in our times. Lectures are in English.
  • Rock-a-oke: March 16, 21:30, Stairway to Heaven. FREE. Have you ever sung karaoke with a live band? I have once and it reaffirmed everyone's belief that I should never, ever be allowed to sing in public. But it was really fun! You can live like a rock star for just one night.
  • Jesus Christ Superstar: March 25th, 20:00, Beatrix Theater, 30 Euros. I have a thing for Rock Operas, I have no idea what language this will be in and I'm particularly broke this month. But, that doesn't mean you shouldn't go!

Did I miss something awesome? Let me know! Tomorrow, we will check out what is happening in the rest of the Netherlands. 

 

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For the Love of Travel Series- Carolyn from Carolyn Horne Illustration (Guest Post)

Carolyn is a former colleague and great friend of mine from Georgia. She and her husband Daniel (the one with the epic 'stache) are two of the most creative people you could ever hope to meet. I mean they designed their own wedding invitations, created their own decorations, and perhaps most impressive of all, they made their own wedding bands. So sweet! You can see some of her work at Carolyn Horne Illustration, when she updates it. (hint, hint).  Here is Carolyn's story:

Where are you at this moment?

In my apartment in the Atlanta suburbs.

Where did you grow up?

Mostly in Augusta, GA. Which is a great place to grow up, until you hit about 14 or 15- then it becomes Disgusta. (I say that with love...)

Do you have to travel for your job?

No.

What is your favorite destination and why?

That’s so hard! That’s like choosing your favorite child- they’re all different and beautiful in their own way. It’s funny, I love museums and cultural attractions and history, and I don’t consider myself super outdoorsy. And yet my very favorite places I’ve visited so far are Zion National Park, Miur Woods, and the El Yunque rainforest. There’s something really transcendent about these primal, unspoiled places.

What is your least favorite destination and why?

I can’t say that I’ve ever really disliked a destination. I usually travel with family or friends; even with the more touristy/commercial places that I wouldn’t normally choose to visit on my own, I still enjoy seeing new places. With the right company, anywhere can be an exciting destination.

What is your favorite vacation memory?

There are so many good ones, but since my husband and I just celebrated our 2nd wedding anniversary and I’m feeling sentimental, I have to go with one from our honeymoon. After the day-after-the-wedding brunch, and after the goodbyes to our friends who attended the brunch, and after we had somehow, miraculously, managed to smash all of our luggage into our car, we finally hit the road. And as lame as that sounds, driving down I-95 singing along to Journey and Queen with my shiny new husband will always be one of my favorite vacation memories.

How do you pack and do you have any items that you have to take with your?

I pack the night before, like a maniac. A camera is a must, and I also try to bring a sketchbook and some drawing supplies.

Do you have any trips planned for the future?

I’m really hoping to go visit my sister in DC this spring, and I’d love to be able to visit all my far-flung friends. She means me, well and some others, but mostly me! 

How do you plan your trips?

Honestly, I’m not usually the planner of the trip. I specialize in finding bizarre attractions and activities to inflict on my travel companions once we’re there, like the time I made a group of friends accompany me to the Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum in Gatlinburg, TN.

What is your dream vacation?

A very leisurely tour of Europe, with time to satisfy all of my art nerd desires.

What kind of traveler are you?

I enjoy cities and usually think of myself as more of a city person, but I love visiting beautiful natural places as well. I’m not a huge fan of flying, but will put up with the indignity of a public boob grope by a surly airport worker for the sake of adventure. I’ve never really had the opportunity to join a tour group, so I’m not sure if I would like that.

Thanks so much Carolyn, if you have any comments for Carolyn, or would like to commission an amazing art piece, leave your comments below! Have I mentioned how much I love comments?

17 Mile Dr, California 

San Francisco Tea Garden, California 

San Diego, California 

Muir Woods, California 

Grand Canyon

El Yunque Rain Forest, Puerto Rico 

 

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The Netherlands is the Place to be in 2013- Seriously, You Need to Come NOW!

With all the respect that is due to Lonely Planet, and that is a lot of respect because I love Lonely Planet, they were wrong when they named Amsterdam their number 2 city to visit in 2013. In their defense, how were they to know that Queen Beatrix would step down and we would have an inauguration this year? With this major event and so many others, the Netherlands is really the place to be this year.

What's happening in Amsterdam: 

  • 400 year anniversary of Amsterdam's famed canal ring. Did you know that wandering around the beautiful canals of Amsterdam are the number one visitor activity in the city? There are so many beautiful places to find along the canal, or you can take a canal cruise. Personally, I think the traditional canal cruises are a bit boring. Check out the other options like canal hopper or tapas cruise. 

 

  • All about Van Gogh. The Van Gogh Museum will move back to its location at the Museumplein on April 25, 2013, just in time to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the museum.2013 also marks what would have been the artist's 150th birthday, if you know he hadn't shot himself and humans lived to that age. 

 

  • The one I'm most excited about. The Rijksmuseum is opening up the parts that have been closed for renovation for the last 10 years will finally be open on April 13th. The Rijksmuseum is in my top 5 of best museums in the world. The art nerd in me can.not.wait.

 

  • The Artis Royal Zoo will celebrate its 125th year. I have never actually been, but I hear some really good things. 

 

  • Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra also celebrates its 125 year. This is considered to be one of the best orchestras in the world, so you should really check out a show.

 

  • Last but certainly not least, April 30th, the Netherlands will have its first king since 1890. That is a long proud tradition of female monarch's. As someone who was born in a land without royalty, I am excited to take part in a small part of pomp and circumstance. 

Utrecht: 

  • 2013 marks the 300th anniversary of the Treaty of Utrecht, for you non-history buffs out there, he treaties between Spain, Great Britain, France, Portugal, Savoy and the Dutch Republic, helped end the War of Spanish Succession. The city is gearing up for some great celebrations. 

This is only a few of the amazing things going on in the Netherlands this year. Be sure to check back on the first of every month where I will tell you some of the great things going on here in my new home country each month.

What are you looking forward to in 2013?

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I'm Heading to Berlin and ITB in March!

You guys, I am so excited to tell you that I am going to be in Berlin from March 6th to 10th! I'm going with my university. It will be my first time in the city, my first time staying in a hostel (I'm so sorry roomies, I snore), and my first time going to a travel industry event! I'll be at ITB, which is the largest show in the travel/tourism industry on the 9th. I'm really looking forward to the networking opportunities, so if you are going let me know! 

 

I must confess, my knowledge of the city is strictly limited to WW2, the fall of the Wall, and watching Cabaret. I also know that everyone I know who has been loved it and that there is something called Museum Island. Since, I am going with my university, there are a lot of preplanned activities but there is a lot of free time as well. So, I want to know, what do you love about Berlin? 

Flickr Image:  Some rights reserved by korbatz

 

 

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For the Love of Travel Series- Christy from Living in the Promise (Guest Post)

*This week, we are going to try things a little differently, mainly because Loek takes issue with my use of orange font! So, the questions will be in bold. Let me know which one you like better. 

Today's post comes to you from someone who is more like a sister to me than a friend. Christy and I grew up across the street and one house down from each other. Along with our friend Hayley, who was four houses down from me, we were inseparable from the time we were eleven until eighteen. Then we grew up and moved away, went to college, started families, etc. But, whenever we get together it is like no time has passed at all. 

Christy just recently got her Master's in Counseling in Student Services in Higher Ed, she lives in Statesboro, Ga with her husband Scott. You can follow her at Living in the Promise. Let's start this shall we?

Where are you at this moment?

My husband and I live in Statesboro, Georgia, which is about 45 minutes West of Savannah. If you aren’t familiar with the state, we’re in the SE of the United States, and my city is in the SE of Georgia. We are very close to South Carolina and just a few short hours away from Florida. We recently bought a house, so I’ll probably be here for the next 5 years at least!
 
Where did you grow up?
 
Snellville, GA, which is close to Atlanta, that state’s capitol.
 
Do you have to travel for your job?
 
Very little. Sometimes I have to travel to other cities for conferences or other events, but it’s usually just to Savannah or occasionally Jacksonville, Florida.
 
What is your favorite destination and why?
 
My favorite place I’ve ever visited would probably have to be London. I studied abroad and spent 6 weeks there in the Summer of 2007. It’s definitely the farthest I’ve ever traveled and for the longest amount of time. Part of what I loved about it was simply the independence of doing something so outside of my normal routine and having the guts to do it without any family or close friends by my side. Fortunately, I made close friends while I was there (one of them is actually my sister-in-law now because after coming back to the States, I met her brother and we fell in love.) But what I loved about London itself was the way that everyone walked around and used public transportation to get places, the history, the beautiful landmarks, the pubs, the plays, and the accents!!
 
What is your least favorite destination and why?
 
I guess my least favorite place that I’ve visited would have to be Nassau in the Bahamas. I’ve been twice. The first time I just visited the city itself. I’m not a big market shopper, so I wasn’t impressed with the straw market that everyone raves about, and I felt very uncomfortable with all the people trying to talk me into buying things. We went to Senor Frogs for lunch and it felt like a Spring Break party which is not really my scene. And I didn’t feel particularly safe walking around the city. The second time I visited, I went to Atlantis which was BEAUTIFUL! But I realize that’s just for tourists and isn’t a good depiction of what the city is really like.
 
What is your favorite vacation memory?
 
This is a hard one!! It would probably have to be during my honeymoon in Aruba. Everything was beautiful and fun and exciting, but I think my favorite thing was planning all the activities with my husband and realizing that I would be spending the rest of my life making plans with him and I couldn’t be happier about it!
 
How do you pack and do you have any items that you have to take with you?
 
It depends on the length of the trip. If it’s a week or less, I usually try to pack at least one outfit per day, and maybe a couple extra ones for just lounging around or fancy ones for going out. I hardly ever go through all of them, but I’m terrible about packing things “just in case!” If it’s a longer trip, like my trip to London, I try to pack enough basic pieces like jeans, t-shirts, sweaters, etc…things that can be mixed and matched, and just plan to do laundry. I always pack way more underwear than I’ll ever need! For other, non-clothing items, I always make a list just to make sure I don’t forget anything. I always pack a camera, sunscreen, aloe (I burn easily!), and at least one book.
 
 
 
 
Do you have any trips planned for the future?
 
My husband and I are thinking about our anniversary trip (May 30th is the big day…it’ll be 4 years!). We may go on another cruise (it’ll be our third one) or we may just do something low-key like getting a cabin in the mountains of North Georgia or Tennessee. We’ve also talked about doing a long weekend in Charleston or something. Honestly it’s going to depend on our tax refund and how much vacation time I can get at work!
 
How do you plan your trips?
 
We usually do one big vacation a year for our anniversary, and then maybe a couple weekend trips throughout the year. And we usually do a week at a beach house with my hubby’s family during the summer. When it comes to our anniversary, we first consider money. We usually spend most or all of our tax refund on that trip. So, we wait until we file taxes to see what we’re working with. Then we try to plan accordingly. After we have a destination in mind, we research all the attractions and make lists of things we want to do. We are definitely planners! When we took a trip to Disney World for our 2-year anniversary we had custom maps ordered from Disney that were specially marked with all the attractions we wanted to visit while we were there.
 
What is your dream vacation?
 
I’m happy with trips small or big. I just love getting away for a while and spending quality time with my hubby. I think my dream right now would be to go back to London and take him with me. It was such a special time in my life and I have such wonderful memories from there. I just want to share those with him in some way. There are SO many places I’ve never been and would love to visit, but I don’t have one particular place I want to see more than others. I’m open to almost anything as long as the company is good! (Or to visit one of your besties who lives across the Atlantic?)
 
What kind of traveler are you? 
 
I like city trips, like London. But I often feel like beach vacations can be the most relaxing and affordable. Sometimes we are working with a small budget and we just want something where we can be together and relax and forget about work or school or whatever else life has been throwing at us lately. Beaches often fit the bill better than anything else. And it’s much easier to control how much you spend at the beach. I don’t mind flying, but we don’t often go on vacations that require it. Plus I find that car trips can be a fun way to kick off a vacation. I love singing in the car or just having time to talk.
 
 
Thanks so much Christy! If you have any questions or comments leave them below! We love comments! Let me know how you feel about the new layout! Don't forget if you want to participate in this series, send an email to gapeachabroad.com
 
England
 
London Eye
 
London Big Ben
 
Stonehenge
 
Savannah
 
Savannah Forsyth Park
 
Savannah
 
 
Aruba
 
Aruba
 
Aruba
 
Aruba Sunset
 
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I Found Noah's Arc! Apparently, it was Hiding Out in the Netherlands.

What I love most about living here is the unexpected happens on a daily basis. For example, you could be on your way to a castle, and never actually find the castle but run into an ostrich. Yep, that happened. Or if back in August, you went with your mom and fiancee to see the Kinderdijk (place with all the windmills) and you find Noah's Arc. I told you this place is weird and magical. 

Apparently, this Creationist guy here in the Netherlands had a vision to built the 450 foot boat. He outfitted it with fake creatures. Crazy huh? 

Here are some pictures of the area surrounding the Kinderdijk. Getting to the Kinderdijk itself is quite the adventure. First, we took a train and then a water taxi. I'll tell you more about it in Thursday's post. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is weird where you live? 

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Ik Tengo Zesentwintig Años, Or the Pitfalls of Learning Two Languages at Once

Learning a new language is hard work. Being required to learn two languages at once is somewhat of a nightmare. Why two languages you may be asking? The first is Dutch, which makes sense, after all I do live in the Netherlands. I'm marrying a Dutchman and as of now plan on making this my permanent home. Learning Dutch will only help me feel like I fit in here, make new friends and advance my career. Plus I am required as part of my visa to pass a test by June 2015. The second language I have to learn at the moment is Spanish. For my degree, I am required to take two years of Spanish. I'm not really sure why this is, but if you don't pass Spanish you don't graduate. So, I'm stick learning both at the same time. 

Here are some of the pitfalls of learning two languages at once:

1. You mix up the languages in your head. I am 100% sure I put some Dutch on my last Spanish Exam. It didn't exactly help that the instructions were in Dutch first. 

2. You know that you should devote a ton of time to studying both languages, so you get stressed out about it and instead spend no time on any languages. I'll be the first to admit it, I don't spend anytime working on either language. I think I just get overwhelmed. Which is why starting next week I'll have a study schedule. I'm thinking Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday should be dedicated to Dutch, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday Spanish. I'm thinking an hour each day to start off with. Think this will work?

3. You never feel comfortable speaking either. There are plenty of Dutch people here in the Netherlands, there are also plenty of Spanish people. But I am not confident enough in my skills in either language to hold proper conversations. 

Have you ever tried to learn to languages at once? How did you accomplish this? Have you ever learned another language, I'd welcome those tips as well! 

 

 

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For the Love of Travel Series- Megan from Megan O Travels (Guest Post)

Welcome to this week's edition of For the Love of Travel, a series of guest posts where people share their travel experiences. I hope you are enjoying reading the stories as much as I am. This week's post is from Megan of Megan O Travels. She is actually going to be heading to Amsterdam later this week. 

Here is Megan's story.

Tell the readers a bit about you. 

For as long as I can remember, travel is the one thing that’s always made me happy. When I was a little girl, I looked forward to our family trips to the beach and the mountains, and made my dad tell me bedtime stories about how much fun Disney World was going to be. As I got older, I started dreaming about new places to visit and began venturing out on my own. Now, it’s blossomed into a full-on addiction, in which I can’t escape thoughts of travel. I seem to live my
life planning and preparing for or being on a trip, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
 
First things first, where are you at this moment?
 
I currently live in Austin, Texas.
 
Where did you grow up?
 
I was born in Austin, but raised in a small town in south-central Pennsylvania.
 
What is your favorite destination and why?
 
I always have a hard time answering this question because I love so many places for so many different reasons. But I think the one place that absolutely takes the cake for me is Iceland. Iceland is just magical—the landscapes are absolutely breathtaking, the people are beyond friendly, the horses and puffins are adorable, and Icelanders believe in elves and trolls!
 
What is your least favorite destination and why?
 
I don’t really have one. I try to find something positive about every place I visit—even if it’s just one small thing.
 
What is your favorite vacation memory?
 
It’s a big memory—but the entire summer I spent in Rome in 2006. It was my first time traveling abroad, my first solo trip, and a trip that really forced me to break out of my shell and learn to be myself. I also met some of the most amazing people ever on that trip, most of whom I still maintain contact with. And lastly, that was the summer that Italy won the World Cup and the country just exploded in celebration.
 
What is your profession and do you ever travel for business?
 
I’m the lead technical writer and web administrator for a government agency. Unfortunately, since it’s state government, I don’t get to go anywhere. Not even to other parts of Texas.
 
How do you pack and do you have any items that you have to take with you?
 
I’m kind of neurotic about packing. I created a packing checklist and I always use that. I also sort of build every outfit before I go to ensure I’m taking the least amount possible. I always take my Kindle and iPhone. Beyond that, I always pack at least one nice outfit in case I decide to have a nice dinner or go out somewhere fancier.
 
Do you have any trips planned for the future?
 
I do! I’m headed to the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, and Czech Republic at the end of this week. I couldn’t be more excited.
 
How do you plan your trips?
 
Typically I pick a destination (or several) that interests me and start looking into things to see and do. From there, I narrow it down, decide how long I need to go, and start planning the logistics: where to stay, do I need a car, how much will it cost, etc.
 
What is your dream vacation?
 
This answer changes every few days. Right now, I’d love to get an over-water bungalow in Bora Bora and spend my days soaking up the sun, swimming, and reading.
 
What kind of traveler are you? 
 
I’m a pretty easy-going traveler. I prefer city and nature vacations. I’m not much of a beach person (which is probably strange given I just said I want to go to Bora Bora). I love to fly, take the train, and drive. I abhor buses (I had a really terrible experience taking a bus from London to Amsterdam a few years ago).
 
I’ve joined a few tour trips—mostly as day excursions from a particular destination. Otherwise, I prefer to travel with friends or family.
 
Check out these photos!
 
Iceland
 
 
 
Italy
 
 
Philiadelphia
 
 
 
London
 
 
 
Thanks so much Megan! If you have any questions or comments for Megan, leave them below. Want to be featured in the For Love of Travel Series? Just shoot an email to Gapeachabroad@gmail.com
 
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We Need to Talk About the Bathroom Situation...

Bathroom time is not normally something I talk about. However, going to the toilet in the Netherlands is way different than going in the United States. Well, I mean the mechanics are still the same, but using the bathroom here is much more complicated than one might be used to. Also I am an American so to me, bathroom, rest room, toilet are all the same thing. Perhaps, I should clarify. If you can find a public restroom and that is a big IF on most days, you have to pay to get in. 

That's right for the privilege of emptying your bladder whilst not at home or not in a moving train (which I refuse to do) will cost you .50. You better have exact change too. Some places have attendants that can change out a euro or two, but some places just have a machine. Sure some restaurants will let their patrons go for free, but others still charge a fee. The plus side is, the bathrooms are mostly pretty clean. 

On the street, it can be easy to find a urinal for the guys. Although to be fair you could mistake a few for some avant garde statues. So if you are a male, you have a much easier time. Or if you are a lady you could use one of those disgusting lady peeing thing. 

Yep, this is reusable and portable!

The home situation isn't much better. Your toilet will not have a lot of water in the bowl and will have what is called an inspection shelf. You know to examine things. Actually, it is not as bad as it sounds. While you are in the toilet, don't forget to glance at who's birthday is coming up. The Dutch have special verjaardag calendars that list everyone's birthdays for the month and are kept in the bathroom. Actually, this is kind of convenient. 

Another and perhaps the strangest thing that pulls all Dutch bathrooms together be they public or private is the fact that the sinks only have cold water. Ice cold water to be exact. I really can not think of a possible reason for this, so if anyone has any guesses, I'm all ears. 

Sorry if this post is a little crude. However, when you move to a foreign country you are supposed to have culture shock and this happens to be the area that continues to shock me.

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