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A memorable and fulfilled trip report

My overdue trip reports since I returned from my trip in Europe at the end of Sept. First, I want to use this platform to thank you Sam and numerous volunteers who contributed and shared their knowledge and experience while I planning on this trip. Without all of you, my trip probably would not as enjoyable as it was. I visited Amsterdam, Belgium, and Italy over three weeks. In fact, my favour country is Amsterdam and I will definitely revisit in the near future.

Back in Sept, we flew directly from YVR to AMS. Stayed at Utrecht for 4N, and travelled between Amsterdam and Utrecht. I probably underestimated how much time I should have allowed to explore in AMS. We visited Van Gogh museum (one of my favours) and Anne Frank Museum. Perhaps my background is working in health care, I could totally make the connection and its impact of mental health in one’s life. While visiting the museum, there was a note talked about during Van Gogh’s early age, he experienced isolation and depression from his family and society. He had nobody to talk to, except one of his brothers. After, he left his home and started to express his thoughts and thinking through drawing.

Would I recommend Anne Frank Museum, perhaps no from my point of view. The museum itself provides a mixed of video clips and mostly audio clips in each room. I thought there would be a doll house (i.e. furniture) to bring us back how was the living condition and set up back then. It was a bit disappointed.

Also, we spent time to ride a canal in AMS. Each building has different design and color. I took lots of video clips and truly enjoyed one hour ride. Because I know I would miss this place while I am back to Vancouver.

I made dining experience at two different Michelin restaurants in AMS. Both experience were memorable. Their creativity, presentation, delightfulness, and customer service are top notch. No negative comment. I have to say that no matter what you do in your field, do the best you can! Because it takes a long time and life experience to be an expert in one’s field, especially being recognized and earns fame.

Utretcht is much quieter than AMS, I could imagine myself being here for a month and explore other nearby cities. I did pay a trip to the Miffy museum, and bought some souvenir. One morning, we had brunch at our nearby hotel. It was a lovely café, we had ham cheese croissants, hot chocolate, and latte. We evened face timed with our friends in China. What a fun experience. Technology does make people close in connection no matter where you are around the world.

The next stop, we took train to Belgium, and stayed at Ghent for four nights. Each day, we visited one city (Antwerp, Bruges, and Brussels). My favour is Ghent, Brugges, and Brussels. I enjoyed watching people on the street, browsing shopping malls, simply walking on the street, or sipping caffe Americano in a café shop. I think being a tourist sometimes you want to do everything in the trip, but due to external factors (delay from train schedule, or get lost by google map). This trip we still did a lot, but there are more places I have not yet explored.

Last part of the trip, we flew to Venice, and stayed for 3 nights. It was my second time and my mom’s first time. We both like the city of lake. The tourist wave seemed getting more crowd. We talked many locals and the city is always busy, perhaps lightly slower during winter month. We tried this small café specialized in making tiramisu. Oh, lord. It’s my favour dessert and we totally ordered 4 pieces, and still feel like eating more. We ordered black squid ink noodle at two different restaurants, and both dishes are tasty. How could you go wrong when ordering pizza, seafood, and Italian beers in Italy !

It was in Venice, I found all the small roads are easily get lost. I did have a map and depend on google GPS.

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107 posts

Part 2

We bought local souvenir included glasses made perfume container, photo frame, and leather-made pen holders. Yes, we did a lot of shopping, still not enough time to explore.

Next stop we stayed in Florence for 3 night, Boboli garden is a highlight of this trip. We just took a local bus and arrived at front of the museum. It was the right decision to start early in the morning, by the time when we left, the museum was pack with people.

I am glad that I made one night booking at Lake Como. Yes, I agree that I could have stayed at least 2 nights. Being a city girl, one can totally appreciates the nature and its architecture. I also enjoyed talking to other tourists on the ferry, 30 mins trip could probably get a good snapshot a person’s life journey. Of course, it is a skill and depends on individual’s personality.

During our last few days in Milan, it happened to be the fashion week. Imagine how busy malls and restaurants were. I like the department store – Le Rinascente and I could spent all day explore each floor. I like buying kitchen and home ware items. The design in Italy is very unique, and I can’t find in Vancouver. Hence, we did buy bottles of perfume and other speciality items.

The subway system is very convenient, but I always have to ask locals which exit to take depends on my destination. Last day, we had the time to have afternoon tea, and it was such as delightful experience.

In respective, I think I could easily extend the trip at least one month, to stay at each city extra 1-2 days. It is impossible to check all the to go lists, but I am glad that this trip was very fulfilled with architecture, history, cuisine, and memory. I think the best way to enrich one’s life is to travel, and open one’s eyes and appreciate what we have in life.

Early wish everyone an early merry Christmas and happy holiday !

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9716 posts

Helen! What a wonderful trip report and what a fun time you had with your Mom. I laughed out loud when I read you ordered 4 pieces of tiramisu because it was so delicious! Nothing will ever taste as fabulous as that!

Thank you for taking the time to post. It's always interesting to see what others enjoyed. My goal is to get to the Van Gogh Museum next time I'm in Amsterdam. Have you seen the film Loving Vincent? Now that you've seen the museum and his work this might be interesting for you to see.

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3357 posts

Helen, Thanks so much for sharing your delightful journey. I am musing about finding the best Tiramisu. My favorite as well!

We plan to visit Amsterdam in 2019. I am taking notes. Speaking of Van Gogh, we want to see "At Eternity's Gate." William Defoe portrays Van Gogh in his final two years of his life. Defoe has been nominated for Best Actor.

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1780 posts

hi helenli
nice trip report. so happy it all worked out with you and your mom. it paid off with all your research and questions you asked here. when you are prepared with notes, traveling is so much fun and less stress. i'm the researcher in my group of friends, find things, run it by them and off we go.
laughed so much about your tiramisu story and drooling. took an overnite train from florence to venice (my 3rd trip) with 4 of us. had a bum knee, torn meniscus ouch!, sat at a table on grand canal at restaurant that had the BEST tiramisu (had 2 slices) with prosecco and talked with a family of 5 from padova, great memories. friends met me there and took train back to florence.
we had spent a week in amsterdam before that so i understand how much you loved the town, canal cruise, walked around, stopped at rembrandt plaza for cocktails and people watch, there are lots of people to watch, pedicab tour around dam square, red light district, chinatown, private taxi tour to windmills, small fishing villages, cheese and dairy farm. albert cyupmarket. so much fun and good times. thank you for posting

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16798 posts

Helen, thanks for the report. I am glad everything worked out. Did your mom enjoy as much as you did?

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107 posts

If anyone goes to Venice, I can check the name of this shop, in which specializes in making tiramisu. I love food and very good at looking at the menu and picking the best. Haven’t said that Vancouver has tons of multicultural cuisine, and lucky for foodie, like myself.

Speaking of Van Gogh museum, we only spent few hour. It was just touch on the surface.

I didn’t have time to visit the modern museum in AMS, heard it worth visiting.

I think each city or country has its speciality. Haven’t said that Belgium’s chocolate is famous, and VENCHI chocolate in Italy too. We had gelato ice cream everyday. We spoiled our tummy so much.

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107 posts

Hi Sam,

Yes, we stayed outside almost 10-12 hr hour daily. My mom has good energy, and she likes Amsterdam and lake como very much.

Shopping is endless !

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5022 posts

Thanks, Helen, for your delightful trip report.

jlschandler, did you like "At Eternity's Gate?" It opens here Christmas Day, I believe, and I'm hoping to go see it. We loved the VanGogh museum when we were in Amsterdam some years ago. Thinking about a side trip to Arles in June after our Best of Eastern France tour.

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3357 posts

Jane, I haven't seen "At Eterniy's Gate" yet. Plan to see it during the holidays. We "stalk" Van Gogh wherever we can. ;) I remember my parents taking me as a young girl to see the Van Gogh exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum. Highly recommend visiting Arles. Many of his best known works were produced during this time. Loved Arles! Looking forward to visiting the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam next Fall.

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27735 posts

thanks so much for this fun and happy report. Tiramisu eh? hmmmm. yum.

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334 posts

Nice report. I am intrigued by your opinion about Anne Frank’s House. I have been there 3 times before renovations. May have to revisit to see what they’ve done. I have family in Utrecht and still finding new and fun stuff to do there.

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107 posts

Hi Pab,

Oh really, there has been renovation. Usually I could find some pictures of interior of museums before I visit, except Anna Frank.

Despite you pre-reserve the time slot 3 months earlier, the number of visitors are remain large. I feel that I just listen to the audio clips in each room then move on. Rooms are crowded too. t was not a great experience.

And the ticket fee is not cheap either !