For when you need a little nudge to venture from your homebody, penny-saving ways.
Featuring: 10 Things To Do on Your Weekends OTHER Than Binge-Watch Netflix and Order Delivery Pizza
*and* Amsterdam for a Day
As explained in last week’s post, Finding a Purpose, I have a problem with being such a homebody that I am perfectly content with binge watching Netflix all day, every day. Well this habit has resulted in an extreme amount of boredom and a loss of self-worth and accomplishment. I worked so hard all through college, just to be doing this? (If you have forgotten or are a new reader, here is the CliffsNotes version of my life; I am a Registered Nurse with a BSN but have recently moved to Germany to live with my husband who is stationed here. The job market for a new grad that cannot speak any German is seriously depressing. Therefore, I am currently a stay-at-home wife and dog mom.)
I have set forth to finding a better use of my spare time. As the first step towards accomplishing Project Julianna, my husband and I chose to utilize #1 on my list of 10 Things To Do on Your Weekends OTHER than Binge-Watch Netflix and Order Delivery Pizza (see bottom).
The only travel-worthy thing to do in Amsterdam is legally pay for sex and drugs, right? Wrong. Surely, it is the place Americans tend to travel to when they are looking for these things, as my father had put it, but there is a lot more to it than that.
This past weekend was my first trip to Amsterdam and in only two short days it has earned first place in beauty over all of the other cities I have traveled to. I have been to London, Dublin, New York, Washington D.C., Salzburg, Munich, Nice, Liverpool, and even Paris, but Amsterdam is by far the most aesthetically pleasing in my opinion. Maybe it’s the canals. Maybe it’s the bicycles. Maybe it’s that each home fits together perfectly while having their own unique characteristics all in one. Or maybe it’s the rectangles. I do have a thing for rectangles, fishing villages, and the midcentury-modern.
We stayed at the Westcord Art Hotel, which, if you do not mind being outside of the city center, I would highly recommend. Beautiful art of the city, crafted by the locals, was hanging on every wall. Even the rooms were not complete until a piece of art was hanging in its interior. The charming and traditional pub-restaurant attached to the lobby was a much-needed pleasant surprise as we arrived late on St. Patrick’s Day and were down for a drink but not down for an hour long walk or cab fare.
After a great night’s rest it was time to explore! My husband and I avoid cabs and public transportation like the plague for two reasons:
1) We would rather spend our money on food and beer.
2) When you only have a day or two to wanderlust, nothing helps you get a sense for a culture better than strolling through its streets and meeting its people.
We began our day by walking towards the Heineken factory. Now, I do believe it is important to try new things, but sometimes you are just begging for something familiar. As American as it may be, we stopped at the Hard Rock Café on the way and grabbed some amazing burgers. If you are ever at a Hard Rock I recommend trying the local burger; each restaurant has a unique local burger inspired by the location’s culture. Once we had our fill, we set forth on our journey and quickly arrived at the Heineken Brewery. We were ready for the “Heineken Experience.”
For less than 20€ you can partake in the Heineken Experience. Learn the history of this famous brew, have a cold one, and certainly have an experience. To me, Heineken was trying too hard to make the tour like a party. It reminded me of being in college; there were black lights, techno music, foosball machines and more. Don’t get me wrong, the beer was delicious and the tour was worth the money – it just seemed like they were trying to compete with the much more laid back Guinness Storehouse tour; they even called my favorite brew out during the tour and accused it of being bitter. Despite that, I was very pleased with the Heineken Experience.
We then wandered the city for a few hours, and to my dismay did accidentally end up walking into the Red Light District. For those of you not wanting to visit the city for its most famous district, finding yourself in the middle of it during the day is not too bad. I did not care to see the Red Light District, with avoiding it being a goal of mine. It turns out that it is pretty difficult to avoid when walking everywhere because it just happens to be in the middle of everything. It became a sort-of landmark for us and helped us to always know where we were. Fortunately, when we stumbled upon it, it was only early afternoon and citygoers of all kinds were passing through. It does not become its reputation until the sun goes down, with only one girl “available for business” as you might say, when we were there.
We then ended the night with a two-hour Dutch Cheese & Wine Cruise through Holland International, for less than only 40€ per person. It was my favorite part of the trip. We each were given a tray with two slices each of four different local cheeses and as much wine as our little hearts desired. What made it even better was that the tour did not feel rushed whatsoever. The staff pointed out Amsterdam’s landmarks and historical sites as we were given a sufficient amount of time to relax and enjoy the refreshments. I have been on a few boat cruises similar to this in other cities, but Holland International’s was by far the most affordable and most memorable of them all.
As our trip came to a close, we had one last thing to check off our list before becoming homeward bound. We had to visit the Anne Frank House. It is a self-guided tour, but if you are interested in attending I would suggest planning ahead. If you book your tickets online for less than 10€ per person there will be no wait for you on the day of. However, if you decide to risk it and simply show up, you will most likely be waiting in line, outside, for hours. Surely, I have read her diary. And yes, I have been to concentration camps before. But no, I was not quite prepared for this experience. She had such hope for a better future while her world was falling apart around her. Standing in the rooms she was trapped in for so long really helps you gain a sense of how large of a feat it would be to remain so optimistic. This is why her story is remembered still today, and why hundreds of people line up daily to visit her refuge.
Our trip to Amsterdam was more than I expected it could be, and definitely worth the time and money. Another popular thing to do in the spring when visiting Amsterdam is go to the Keukenhof Tulip & Flower Festival; something that would have been quite lovely to see but we just could not make the time for.
So I’ve done it. I got my a** out of the house for once, and now it is your turn! Below I have listed a few suggestions, and I would love to hear from you all on how you like to spend your spare time – please share in the comments!
10 things to do on your weekends OTHER than binge-watch Netflix and order delivery pizza:
Travel, Even Somewhere Local!
I understand that not everyone lives in Germany and not everyone can simply hop in the car to arrive in Paris, Amsterdam or Munich in only a handful of hours. However, everyone lives somewhere with its own exciting highlights. It is like the saying “one man’s junk is another man’s treasure.” Your home city and state may seem to be no big deal to you, but to others it is a whole new adventure. Hop online and search the tourist sites for attractions near your home. I bet there is a national park, a “World’s Largest (insert ridiculous item here),” up-and-coming town, or landmark not too far from you.
If you are looking to go somewhere that requires a little more planning than just hopping in the car, I like to use skyscanner. This travel site specializing in finding inexpensive airfares gives you the option to insert “Everywhere” as a destination, thus allowing you to search for the cheapest places to travel to for the weekend.
Try a New Restaurant You’ve Been Craving
You know that mom-and-pop shop downtown that you’ve never been to but recently added outdoor dining and updated the menu? Or the trendy place in the city that everyone at work has been talking about but you haven’t allowed yourself to make a night of it yet. I know it’s hard, and I know you’re perfectly content ordering takeout again – because Chinese food is the greatest – but it’s worth it, I promise. Take your significant other, best friend, or mom out for a meal and try something new this weekend!
Take a Walk Through Your City Center
How long has it been since you simply took a walk downtown? As spring approaches, take some time to take in the changing air and check out what’s new in your hometown. I bet there is something new going on that you haven’t heard of yet. I love shopping around the antique stores and boutiques; and if you’re like me and have a love for HGTV, even walking around the residential streets and pretend home hunting can be fun.
Go to a Theme Park
No, I don’t mean venture all the way to Orlando for the weekend. While Disney World is the Happiest Place on Earth, there are many more theme parks throughout the country, and chances are there is one not too far from you.
Take a Class
Drop by your local community center and see what classes they have to offer. Learn to tango or how to quilt. Many small boutiques offer furniture-repurposing classes as well. Find something you’ve always wanted to learn to do, and learn it!
Nothing will help clear your mind and reset your biological clock like camping will – so long as you pack the bug spray! Check your weather report, and if clear skies are ahead have a little adventure this weekend while leaving the devices behind.
Go to the Theatre
And yes, I mean either kind. Is there a movie you have been wanting to see but have not taken the time for? Check out what’s playing. Or if you’re feeling like getting dressed up, check out what plays or musicals are showing in the nearest metropolitan area. Both will get you out of the house and hopefully a few laughs as well.
Visit an Old Friend or Relative
Remember all of the great friends you made in college that you totally meant to keep in better touch with? Yeah, the ones you thought you had made a forever-friends in? Go visit them! You only get one life and great friends are hard to come by. How about an aunt or uncle, grandma or grandpa that you haven’t seen in a while. I know. Life happens. It seems like you can’t make it to one family party, and then the next thing you know it has been five years and you haven’t seen any family members besides your parents and siblings. Make more time for your family – take it from me, you don’t want the next time you see them to be at a funeral.
Visit a Museum
Even if you think that museums are not for you, I wouldn’t be so sure. You would be surprised with the number of different museums around, and there is something out there for everyone! Unless it’s the Smithsonian or Henry Ford, I have never been too thrilled to enter a museum, either. However, I have been to many other museums for school and while traveling and have not once regretted entering. Museums are great too because you usually get tour them at your own pace. If you are into it, spend hours! And if you’re not, it is okay to leave whenever.
Volunteer at a nursing home. Volunteer at an animal shelter. Volunteer at a school. Volunteer at a hospital. Help others simply for the sake of helping. A year ago I was not about to accept a nursing position that paid less than $45k per year – I was only in it for the money. I did not realize how much my career field meant to me then. Now I cannot wait to be nursing for free, and I am so proud.
Whatever you do, make it something that at the end of the day you’ll be wanting to tell someone about it!
Thank you for reading – New posts every week. xx Project Julianna