TRAVEL BLOG: Cape Cod, MA

Happy Monday!

I am SO excited for this week’s post – I am finally back to travel content! As much as I’ve loved being creative in other areas over the past few months, I’m glad to be able to write about traveling once again for a change. I will still be exploring different health and fitness related posts in the future, but it’s nice to switch back and forth at the moment.

This past weekend, I was able to spend a few days in Wellfleet on Cape Cod. Friday was my birthday, so a few of my friends and I rented a house by Lecount Hollow Beach from Thursday to Sunday. I’ve grown up visiting Wellfleet each summer since I was born, so I knew I wanted to spend my birthday weekend there once again. This was especially exciting because of the circumstances over the last few months. I haven’t been able to see lots of these friends because of social distancing, so now that things are finally starting to open up and we’ve all be quarantining in our respective towns, we were able to get together once again.

On Thursday we drove down later in the afternoon, so while we didn’t get a full vacation day in, it was nice to relax and enjoy a sunset dinner on the beach once we arrived. It was also nice to start off the weekend on a quieter note, before the big birthday celebrations began.

On Friday, my actual birthday, I was able to get a full beach day in at Lecount Hollow, and my mom stopped by for a bit as well. My favorite thing about Wellfleet, and the main reason I wanted to spend my birthday here, is the Beachcomber restaurant – and lucky for me, the first day they opened their outdoor seating was Friday. I had such a great lunch here with my mom and a few friends before heading back to the beach, and getting ready for the rest of my friends to arrive that night.

Later in the afternoon, my dad and my brother joined us as well, and shortly after the rest of my friends. We had such a great time hanging out and eating back at the house and on our deck, and then had our big celebration into the night!

Saturday was our last full day of vacation, and more visitors were able to join us! We spent this day at Cahoon Hollow Beach instead, where the Beachcomber is located, and met up with my aunt and uncle as well. Of course I had to have a second lunch at the Beachcomber on Saturday too, and this was nice to be able to bring all of my friends there who couldn’t join the first time. Once again, after our beach day was over we headed back to the house, enjoyed a cook out dinner outside, and enjoyed the beach for the rest of the night.

Sunday morning was checkout, and since it was also Father’s Day, most of us had to head out pretty early to get home. That being said, it was the perfect number of days for us to get away for a weekend, get beautiful beach weather, and see friends and family who I haven’t been able to recently. I wish we had more time, it always seems to go by so fast, but I know we’ll have lots more beach days and weekends in the near future 🙂

Of course we all were careful before and while traveling and took the necessary and responsible precautions when going into public places! Being able to eat out at a restaurant was such an exciting concept, though, and I simply could not wait any longer. As repetitive as the days seem, there really is not much to talk about a beach vacation – we spent every day eating, relaxing, and eating some more! I did want to include this weekend in today’s post, though, because this did start as a travel blog, and this was the first trip I’ve been able to take since my trip to Florida in March!

Now that I’m home and catching up on this productive Monday, I’m thinking about how lucky I am to have had this past weekend with friends and family, and I’m realizing that what is truly important in life is quality time with those people around you – not any material good or experience. Especially during quarantine, I’ve learned to value these memories so much more, and I’m excited for what’s to come as we bounce back from this unfortunate time and begin enjoying moments together again. I’m very much looking forward to the next few months of summer ahead, and I’m feeling optimistic about the future situation in Massachusetts. I will likely be returning to some health and fitness posts in the coming weeks, but stay tuned for more adventures to come (likely back to the beach)!

Thank you all for sticking with me through the non-travel times, and I will see you all next week!

xx,

Megan


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TRAVEL GUIDE: 24 Hours in Amsterdam

Welcome back, everyone!

If you remember from my previous post, one of my final weekends abroad was split between two major cities: Paris and Amsterdam. This was definitely an ambitious travel plan, but we were able to make the most of what time we had in both cities, and I think we did a pretty good job.

Out of everywhere I traveled while studying in Madrid, Amsterdam was definitely my favorite. I’m not sure exactly what it was that made this trip stand out over all of the others, but the atmosphere and the culture I experienced here was like a fairytale, and I know I’ll be back soon. We spent about a day and a half in Amsterdam, but everything we did could have been condensed into one day. So, if you find yourself in Amsterdam for just one day, keep reading for my recommendations.

Before even getting to Amsterdam, you’ll want to book tickets to the Anne Frank house – these sell out VERY quickly, so make sure to look into this as soon as you start planning your trip. When I visited, we booked the weekend too late, and so by that point everything was sold out. These tours are fairly quick, so I recommend either starting or ending your day with this, so you don’t have to break up your entire schedule.

A great way to see the city is by taking a canal cruise, and these run all day so you can plan this around the rest of your schedule. You’ll likely need to purchase tickets in advance for this as well, but they’re much more available and flexible. This cruise is, in my opinion, the best way to see the buildings, the nature, and the whole environment of the city in a relaxing way. Each canal is lined with such beautiful apartments and bridges, so it’s definitely worth exploring.

Another more underrated activity that I think is definitely worth your time is the Heineken Experience. The Heineken brewery is located in Amsterdam, and what we thought was going to be just another tour of the building turned out to be one of the coolest experiences I’ve had. The whole event is way more than a tour, so while you do get to see and learn about the behind-the-scenes aspect of the brewery, you also get to experience an entire show, ride, game, and party (it sounds crazy, but there’s no other way to explain it). Once again, you will need tickets for this, but it was the best $20 I’ve spent.

Aside from scheduled activities, I definitely suggest taking some time to walk around on your own and see some smaller city sites. Dam Square is a beautiful place to explore, and there are lots of shops and boutiques in the area, so you’ll have lots to do. Amsterdam is also home to a number of wonderful museums, including the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh, and the Moco. If you find yourself left with any extra time in the day, this is a great way to fill it.

If you’re looking for something to do at night during your short stay in Amsterdam, I would say the best scene is a bar. This is all we did during our stay, as we’d been told the club scene is not the best, but its definitely a very social city and there is always lots going on at night. Lots of the smaller bars and restaurants were the most fun, as they weren’t too crazy and we could all relax together after a long day of activities.

As far as transportation goes, Amsterdam is a very walkable city. That being said, most (if not all) locals bike everywhere. So, if you’re looking to get around quickly, or just to fit in with everyone else, renting a bike for the day is a great idea. If you choose to stay on foot, though, be careful crossing the streets!

For housing, be aware that Amsterdam is not a cheap city to stay in. This was by far the most expensive Airbnb I booked while traveling abroad, but it was very much worth it. If you’re looking to spend a little extra for a cool experience, I also suggest looking into a houseboat – you’ll see these all along the canals, and if I ever return to Amsterdam, I will definitely be staying in one!

This wouldn’t be a proper travel guide if I didn’t touch on the food, so, here are a couple of my favorites:

  • Pancakes (or poffertjes – mini pancakes)
  • Cheese
  • Stroopwafel
  • Frites and mayonnaise
  • Herring (I never tried this, but I’ve heard it’s great there!)

In the end, you really can’t go wrong in Amsterdam, and if you’re ever planning a trip to Europe or don’t know where to go next, this city is my number one recommendation. While there is so much to do, there’s also a very relaxed feel to the city, so even though we were always going during our stay, I never felt overwhelmed. I would love to hear any of your experiences in Amsterdam, and I’m always available for questions or further suggestions. That’s all for now, and I’ll see you next week with some more travel tips!

xx,

Megan


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A Week in My Life Abroad: Madrid to Copenhagen

Hi, again!

As classes have now finished and I’m in my final weeks here in Spain, I’m doing my best to squeeze in as much activity as I can before I return to the States. This week in Madrid was definitely a busy one, as the next few will likely be as well, and then this weekend I was able to visit my roommate in Copenhagen, Denmark for my last trip of the semester!

Starting out the week was definitely stressful, as I had my last three days of classes Monday through Wednesday, and then immediately began Christmas activities. My friends and I took a bus (called the Navibus) around Madrid on Wednesday night which passes through all of the Christmas lights they’ve set up, and it was so nice to finally be able to really celebrate the holidays. Unfortunately I had my first final exam on Thursday, so it was a busy week of studying, and then I left straight from my exam to the airport.

Spending time with my roommate in Copenhagen was so nice, not only because I haven’t seen her all semester, but it was really nice to have a quick break before buckling down to take my remaining 5 finals back in Madrid. I was only in Denmark for two nights, but we spent our time exploring the city (especially the Christmas markets!), and I took advantage of the amazing food there – I’m starting to get sick of tapas!

Copenhagen was very similar to Amsterdam, which might have been my favorite city so far, so I really liked exploring different neighborhoods and seeing all of the Christmas decorations. The one thing I could’ve done without, though, is the cold weather. I’m definitely a warm weather person, so getting back to Madrid (even though it’s still pretty chilly here) was great.

Now that I’m back, I’ve been hustling to study for the rest of my finals, as I have four on Tuesday and Wednesday, and then my last one the following Monday. On Sunday morning, my friends and I continued to get into the Christmas spirit by running a 5k in Santa suits – so much fun! The suits were far from durable so we lost most of them by the end, but we got to cross the finish line under (fake) snow, so I got a little taste of Boston in my last two weeks here.

This upcoming week will be filled with studying and exams, but once I finish I have some time to spend in Madrid before I leave, so I’m excited to get my last few memories in. I’m so thankful for all the experiences I’ve had these past four months, and I can’t wait to continue traveling the world! Thank you for following along with me on all of my journeys, and I’ll see you next week for my final post of abroad!

xx,

Megan

P.S. Once I’m back in Boston, I’ll be shifting my posts toward more tips and tricks for travel, and itinerary suggestions in some of my favorite places, so please subscribe below for a lot more content coming soon!

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Weekend in Rome

Welcome back! It’s definitely been a while, but I’ve been spending lots of time in Madrid recently and taking some time off from traveling every weekend. I spent Thanksgiving here last Thursday with my entire program, who put on an amazing dinner for us all. Even though I couldn’t be at home for the holiday, it was nice to spend it with so many special people in Spain.

The following day we had a very quick turnaround – early Friday morning we flew out to Rome! I’d only been to Italy for one dinner before back in September, so this was really exciting. We spent lots of time deciding which city we should visit, since there’s really so much to do in Italy, but Rome seemed like the best weekend option.

When we landed Friday morning, we first made our way to breakfast. We walked up the Spanish steps, and then found our way to a small cafe where we had spinach and mozzarella sandwiches. We had some time before checking into our apartment, so we walked around the area we were staying in, visiting the Pantheon as well. I studied Latin all four years of high school, so I spend LOTS of time studying Ancient Rome. Therefore, seeing all of these  sites and monuments in real life was so interesting for me.

After checking in that afternoon, we decided to spend the rest of the day in the Vatican City. Even just walking around outside in the city was so beautiful, and they were setting up Christmas decorations which made it even more special. Walking through the Sistine Chapel as well was amazing. This is definitely one of the most intricate and beautiful things I’ve seen so far, for every wall is lined with famous artwork and designing, and it all tells a story. I am so glad I was able to experience this place, and I would highly suggest a visit here at some point.

For dinner that night, we went to a very small, intimate restaurant which our renter recommended to us. I had spaghetti with a pepper and cheese sauce, and it was by far one of the best meals I’ve ever had. Italy definitely knows how to make pasta! We spent the rest of the night trying a couple different bars in the area as well, as Rome has a much more relaxed nightlife scene.

Saturday was our second and final full day in Rome, so we made sure to hit all of the rest of the city’s sites. We started at the Colosseum, which was probably my favorite part of the weekend. Not only had I studied this in SO much depth in high school, but the structure itself is so immense and breathtaking (it’s one of the seven wonders of the world!). By now we were all starving, so we found a local pizza shop and had a little picnic outside. I don’t know if it was the fact that we were in Italy, or just that I was so hungry, but this pizza was amazing!

After lunch we headed back toward the Colosseum to explore the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill. Everything we saw here was straight out of my high school Latin textbook, so I had another wave of excitement. There was so much history to see in the Forum, and all of it was preserved so incredibly. 

Once the sun began to set, we made our way to the Trevi Fountain to toss in some coins and make a wish. We shopped around this area for a bit, and then got ready for another pasta dinner. This time I got fettuccine with pesto, and this was definitely my favorite meal of the weekend! We explored another bar that night (Scholars’ Irish Pub), which was so much fun, and then went home before we had to catch our Sunday morning flight home. 

This weekend was for sure a quick one, but I’m so glad we were able to see such a beautiful city. The weather was great, and I was with so many close friends, so it turned out to be one of my favorite trips of abroad. Now that I only have a few weeks left, the traveling is starting to slow down while the school work is picking up (today is my last day of school before finals!). I have one more trip planned this upcoming weekend, and then after that my next flight will be back to Boston!

I hope you’ve all been enjoying my weekly updates, and I hope to keep this going in some form or another once I’m back in the States! Please subscribe below to be notified of new content, and I’ll see you all next week 🙂

xx,

Megan

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Weekend in Paris and Amsterdam

Welcome back!

This past weekend was definitely an ambitious one, but it was definitely my favorite so far. We had been mostly traveling to more uncommon cities so far, with a few exceptions, but this weekend we finally hit some of the major “abroad” destinations. On Thursday we started out in Paris, France, and then on Friday we made our way to Amsterdam in the Netherlands.

Honestly, I didn’t expect to like Paris too much, because I had heard it wasn’t the nicest or friendliest city, and it was very touristy. So, I went into that leg of the trip with rather low expectations. I was completely wrong. In the one day I spent in Paris, I saw so much more that I thought I would, and the city completely surprised me. We got crepes, visited the Sainte Chapelle (so beautiful!), the Louvre Museum, and the Arc de Triomphe. From there, we finally made our way to the Eiffel Tower. This was much bigger than I expected, and was really amazing to see. As we were leaving, the sun was setting so they began to turn on the tower’s lights. Seeing the entire Eiffel Tower light up was definitely one of the coolest things I’ve seen abroad so far.

After a break at our hostel, we ended up going back to the Eiffel Tower to eat dinner at a nearby restaurant. Every hour, the tower’s lights twinkle for about five minutes, so we were able to see this before we ate dinner. Standing on a bridge in the middle of Paris, watching the Eiffel Tower light up, was one of those moments that you know is so special, even as it’s happening, and I’m not sure if I’ll ever be back to see that again, but I feel so lucky that I was able to experience it this week. In the end, I’m glad I went into Paris with low expectations, because it only continued to pleasantly surprise me, and I ended up loving a city which I didn’t even plan on visiting.

Friday morning was an early wake up, as I had to catch my bus to Amsterdam. What was supposed to be a six-hour drive turned out to be eight, so by the time I reached Amsterdam, I was ready to walk around. From the minute I stepped off the bus, I noticed how charming and cozy the city was, with restaurants and shops lining the streets, and Christmas lights strung everywhere. I reached the apartment we were staying in, which overlooked one of Amsterdam’s many canals. Sitting in the warmth on the couch looking out at the lights over the cold water felt like the holiday season, and made the weekend even more relaxing and homey.

We didn’t have too much time on Friday since we got in later in the afternoon, so once we were settled we headed out for an amazing pasta dinner at Spaghetteria, and then explored some of the bars and plazas open in Amsterdam at night. Again, seeing all of the Christmas lights everywhere, and everyone so bundled up in the cold, got me SO excited for the holidays.

Saturday was the only full day we had in the city, so we packed everything in. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to get tickets to the Anne Frank House (they sell out really fast, so buy them FAR in advance!), so we started our day with a delicious pancake breakfast at De Carrousel Pannenkoeken. From here, we toured the Heineken Museum, as we had previously bought tickets for the “Heineken Experience”. Going into this, we expected a normal museum tour, explaining the history of Heineken, with a tasting at the end. We were completely surprised to find an entirely interactive experience, with films and music and lights and games, ending in a Heineken bar. I am definitely not a beer person, but the whole experience was so cool, I would definitely recommend the tour if you are even in Amsterdam.

After leaving the museum and getting a quick snack of stroopwafels, we made our way to the canal tour we had booked. I suggest touring the canals both by foot and by boat, because first of all, they’re so beautiful and you can never see enough, but also, you get a much different point of view passing through the streets in the water, and you get to see so many cool bridges and corners and pathways while relaxing on the back of a boat.

For the rest of our day, we walked around to hit some more sights while it was still light out. We passed by the outside of the Anne Frank House, we visited Dam Square and tasted lots of cheese, and walked by the Centraal Station of Amsterdam. Eventually we made our way to Casa di David for another delicious pasta dinner (we don’t get pasta in Spain), and then explored some more bars, including my favorite which had live jazz music.

We flew out early Sunday morning, so I had the day to catch up in Madrid. Again, I’m not sure how we fit Amsterdam into pretty much one day, but I definitely could have spent a lot more time there. This city felt so different from everywhere else I’ve traveled, and I think that’s why I loved it so much. It was definitely the right time of year to visit, with all of the holiday decorations out and the cold air, and even though it’s a pretty big city, it had such a personal, small town feel – I could definitely see myself spending a longer period of time here. It also felt like a much younger city, with lots of students and young families, where Paris had an older, more traditional feel. I will surely be returning to Amsterdam at some point while still in my twenties, hopefully for a few months so I can really enjoy the city.

The semester is finally beginning to slow down, so I will be staying in Madrid this weekend, and then only traveling a couple more times after that. I’ve been seeing and learning so much while abroad so far, and it’s crazy that I only have a few more weeks, but I’m excited to continue exploring Europe in this last month, and even after I return to the US.

I hope you’ve been enjoying my weekly updates, and I can’t wait to share more!

xx,

Megan

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