Monday, August 27, 2012

Canal Boat Adventures in France

I never take for granted how lucky I am to have an adventurous mom who can fly anywhere at the drop of a hat (hint: she's a flight attendant).
She often pops over to Amsterdam for a visit and we've taken countless trips around the world together.
Better yet, her jet-set lifestyle has cultivated a wonderful network of fun, interesting friends who provide excellent adventure opportunities all over the globe.

Jack and Sue, are some of my mother's long time pals and (fortunately for us!) one of the many boats they own resides in France. Just like my mama, I'm always up for a new adventure so, when I was invited to tag long for their annual summer boat trip, the answer was an enthusiastic "YES!"

The four of us spent a week together, floating along canals in the Alsace-Lorraine region of France.
We had a week of gorgeous sunshine, stopped to browse delightful French villages, savored local flavors and of course, I snapped photos along the way.

First, we flew into Strasbourg from Amsterdam, and rode the train north to Sarguimmines
passing through country scenes...


Later, we slept along dreamy canals (this was my favorite spot!)..

We stopped in villages and wandered markets, full of fresh goods...

And passed adorable, historic lock houses like these...
 Wouldn't it be fun to open a little cafe
for boaters and cyclists along the historic towpaths?

Daily, we indulged in scrumptous treats...

And surveyed the scenes, visiting small villages along the canals...


With only four of us, everyone had a task to do in helping the boat in-and-out-and-up-and-down the locks. Actually, this was the first time I'd ever even been in a lock before!
Some of them were occuring often, making for a pretty busy afternoon of boat riding.

I'll be back with more soon, in the mean see check out this map of where we visited...

View Alsace-Lorraine Canal Boat Trip in a larger map

Have you ever visited the Alsace-Lorraine area? This trip was very go-with-the-flow so I didn't do much research before-hand. Do you usually research a vacation or just wing-it?

Friday, August 24, 2012

Weekend Wanderings: The Warmest Day of the Year

 Last weekend, we were blasted with a few of my favorite things... 
warm weather and sunshine! 
The quick heat wave couldn't have arrived with better timing than over the weekend. 
Can you guess what we did?
Here's a hint... 

Grateful for the chance, we spent all of our weekend on the boat 
 with friends, wine and some live bluegrass guitar tunes. 
 Two practically perfect summer days on the boat left us tanned and in a sunny daze. 
 Plus, I did something that I swore I never would...


Thanks to the overwhelming heat (and wine??) I followed my Dutch friends and... 
jumped into the Amstel River! 
The Dutch will tell you time and time again that Amsterdam's famed canals 
are safe for swimming (I've seen it many times!)
but there's just no way I'd ever splash around in that murky city water.

However, after a few hours of floating along in the heat, out in the countryside,
a few kilometers outside of the city, we hopped in for a dip.
Here's a little secret: getting back in the boat without a ladder was not easy,
and it's left me with some pretty impressive bruises. Ouch.


I sure wouldn't mind a few more days like this before autumn rolls in.
A little positive thinking can't hurt, right?

What are your plans for the last weekend in August? 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Amsterdam Pride Parade

Here are a few snaps from the Amsterdam Pride festivities earlier in August.
 Just a little something to fill the intermittent time after coming back from a holiday of
floating along the canals in northeastern France...

I've enjoyed this wild street party and canal parade combo a few times before and spent this year's celebrations along the Prinsengracht dancing, sipping wine
and enjoying the sunshine with friends. 
You probably won't be shocked to hear that during the boat parade we saw more glitter, rainbows and short-shorts than you could ever imagine!


 Back in Amsterdam, we spent all weekend out on the boat. 
They say it was the hottest day of the year too! 
So, needless to say my brain is temporarily fried from the sunshine... Such fun! 
 I'll be back soon with some stories and photos about boating in France,
 that is, once I find time to finish sorting through all the photos...
In the mean time, you can follow my Instagram photos right here.
Happy Monday!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Floating Down The Amstel

 Here's a few from last weekend's boat ride along the Amstel River. Boating in Amsterdam holds many special memories, since my Dutchman and I used to take boat rides almost every weekend the summer we first started dating...

Now that he has finished fixing up his boat we can continue our summer tradition! We were (finally) able to take the boat out for a day trip to Oude Kerk aan de Amstel, a cute little village that's also accessible by bike if you're looking for a fun cycling trip.


It's fun to find a secret spot along the water and stop to take in a bit of Dutch countryside or enjoy an afternoon picnic with friends...which is exactly what we did!
See how nice a summer's day can be when it isn't raining here?

 I think everyone who passes through Amsterdam should have 
at least one leisurely boat ride, preferably with a local guide.
(those touristic boat taxis are probably handy for scenic rides but I don't find them gezellig at all!)
Have you ever floated along Holland's famed canals or rivers? 

Friday, August 3, 2012

Weekend Wanderings: Pure Markt

Over in Oost, Amsterdam's Pure Markt was filled with dozens of food stands, crafts and local goodies.

 Visiting this market has been on my radar for a while so on Sunday 
I cycled over to Park Frankendael with my friend Sita to sample some tasty treats from local vendors. 

We browsed the vast selection from ice cream to crepes, 
fresh flowers to vintage posters... there was just so much to see (and taste)! 
Due to the amount of vendors we devised a fool proof plan and divided the market in half, 
heading down one side for sampling and snacking here, then repeated our delicious method of nibbling while making our way back to our picnic blanket 
to devour the rest of our edible treasures.

This food festival was a lovely way to end my whirlwind weekend.
My prediction is many more PureMarkt visits in the coming months, I can't wait to go back!

I nabbed some local honey to sweeten my morning coffee at home. 
Other favorites included: veggie samosas, chickpea salad, 
a courgette pita sandwich with tzatziki and a scoop of raspberry ice cream!

Various times and locations, see website
Free entrance, bring cash if you want to eat!

Happy Friday! 
Can you believe we're almost back to the weekend already? 
I'll be celebrating with the masses at Amsterdam Pride! 
Are you going to watch the famous canal parade tomorrow?

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Weekend Wanderings: Cycling Through the Dunes

Over the weekend, we went for a day trip to enjoy the beach at Zandvoort aan Zee.
We packed my bike bags with beach necessities, headed to Central Station
to grab our train tickets. Here in Holland, the land of bike lovers, it's an affordable €6 extra to bring your bike along.

Half-an-hour later we arrived at the shoreline.
Instead of staying in the busy main beach area,
we cycled away from the city center and into a protected nature reserve.
After peddling up and down through the dunes, we found what we thought would be
a relaxing, secluded piece of beach...
turns out what we thought was a secret spot was actually a section of the nude beach!
I suppose the beach patrons really enjoy nature the au naturel way, ha!


Fortunately, not that many people make the effort to cycle far down the shore
and we had the beach practically to ourselves.
Oddities aside, we had a lovely afternoon soaking up the sunshine.
Beaches here in Holland aren't quite like back home in Florida,
but a trip to the sea during summer time is always a good idea...
just remember to get back under shelter before the afternoon thunderstorms roll in!

I just love going for cycling adventures around Holland,
let me know if you have any recommendations for nice places to visit!

PS. You can view more of my Instagram photos or follow me here.