My sisters came to Amsterdam over Easter this year, and it was a visit I will remember for the rest of my life.
The last time Liz and Jess came to Europe was ten years ago, while I was still living in England. They shared an air mattress on my dorm room floor for a few nights while we explored the UK, and then over the weekend we took a budget airline flight to Venice. My dad got us a free hotel room with his award points, and we ate sandwiches along the city’s breath-taking canals. We pooled all of our money together to be able to afford a gondola ride, and in the evening we drank a cheap bottle of red wine outside on our hotel’s terrace. Of course we argued (as three wildly strong, independent women would) but it was such a treat to travel around Europe with my sisters while I was still a student. I will cherish those memories, and some of the trip’s inside jokes still circulate around at our family gatherings (I’m looking at you, little tuna ;)
Now that I have a guest room in Amsterdam, I’ve been encouraging all of my family and friends to come for a visit. It’s been nearly a decade since Liz and Jess last came to Europe together, so we were way overdue on a sister trip. We all have boyfriends, work obligations, and our own social lives, but despite the distance and existing in very different worlds, Liz and Jess are still two of my best friends. A best friend is someone who sees all of the worst parts of you, and still loves you unconditionally. There are very few people in my life that I know, love, and trust to this extent, and I consider myself incredibly lucky to have grown up in the same household with two of them.
So this trip was really special – not only because it was a once in a decade occurrence with two of my favorite people, but also because being with my sisters teaches me so much. We have such different jobs, skills, and schedules, so getting to spend an extended period of time with them really takes me outside of the bubble I live in. I love hearing about how Jess handles cranky customers at work, and how Liz goes about her morning routine. The things they eat, how they spend their weekends, and even what music they listen to are all so different from how I live my life. So I really value this quality time when I get to know them even better, expanding my own horizons and having meaningful conversations with two of my best friends.
This time around, we spent Easter weekend in Amsterdam, followed by a long weekend in Paris. The girls had never been to France, and I was excited to show them to all of my favorite spots in the French capital!
We took the high speed train, which is a comfortable journey and only takes around three hours get from Amsterdam to Paris.
Once in Paris, we walked from the train station to our Airbnb in Montmartre (my favorite neighborhood in Paris – we stayed here). We dropped our bags at the apartment, but had another hour to kill while the space was being cleaned. So, very hungry at this point, we walked down the street and popped into the first bistro in sight for lunch. We all ordered very french meals – I helped myself to a french onion soup and steak tartare with fries, Liz got the french onion soup with a salad, and Jess got duck, which I envied immediately, despite my own delicious Parisian meal! It’s a tradition to kick off my Paris visits with a french onion soup. I did it the first time years ago, and now always get one to kick-start my time in Paris :)For some reason, steak tartare always tastes better in France!After lunch, we returned to our apartment to freshen up a bit and then hit the streets to take in the city. I wanted to take the girls for a tea at Printemps, one of Paris’s most beloved department stores. And while I’ll never say ‘no’ to an afternoon of shopping, we stopped by to check out the architecture and the views.The department store boasts of one of the most beautiful brasserie’s in Paris, situated under a remarkable stained glass cupola, installed in 1923.While the views at the brasserie are incredibly dreamy, the one I was most eager to show the girls was even higher up in the department building. In the Home Store of Printemps on the 9th floor, you will find a cafe called Deli-Cieux. It’s open Monday to Saturday from 9.30am to 8pm, and here you can get a tea or cake as well as a beautiful panoramic view of Paris. When you see the Eiffel Tower, you know you have arrived in the City of Light, and I wanted the girls to have their first ‘wow Paris’ moment on a rooftop with coffee and cake :)So we ordered three cappuccinos and a box of macaroons, and sipped our coffee while taking in one gorgeous view of the city.On our way out, we stopped for a photo-opp with the flower installations ;)
Following our panoramic tea, we started walking towards the Tuileries Garden.With a quick pit stop in Pierre Herme to stock up on some more sweets ;)I love getting a big box of macaroons to nibble on between meals while I’m in Paris. And with all of the walking, some sweet pick me ups are always welcome as we explore the city.At this point, it started raining, which was a bummer as we had just reached the gardens. Hoping that maybe the rain would pass, we wandered into WHSmith where we browsed the books and had another drink in their tea room. After spending an hour in the book store, the rain had still not stopped, so we got a cab right back to our apartment to chill a bit before heading out to dinner (in which time I showered and polished off at least four of these beauties ;)For our final meal of the day, we went to Mollard, which is one of my favorite Brasseries in Paris.The restaurant has a classic, art deco vibe, and despite the table cloths and fancy dining area, you can score a delicious three course meal for €30. The kind waiter snapped our photo together, and I think this is my favorite sister picture from the trip:This next photo is not very flattering, but it gives you a taste of what the interior of Mollard is like.For dinner, we each went with the three course menu. I got the asparagus with crab to start.Followed by a salmon in cream sauce.And finally a delicious strawberry soup for dessert – a dish I will be trying to create at home sometime in the near future!Jess got a rice pudding piled high with fruit, that stole the show in the beauty department.After a long three course meal, we decided to end our evening with a long walk. Which found us at the ferris wheel right outside theTuileries Garden.While I’ve seen it many times, I’ve never before taken a ride. So the girls and I lined up in the mist to wait for a cabin.We wound up getting a cabin all to ourselves because Liz was unabashedly flirting with the ferris wheel operator. We were cracking up as we hopped in the car and took off into the sky, as Liz blew kisses to the operator down below (if you think this is hyperbole, you are mistaken!) The views of the city from the ferris wheel were spectacular, although I was a huge baby and was incredibly nervous being so high up in such a rickety cabin! When we were on the ground, the girls were like . . . ‘no way!’ but once I convinced them to go for a ride and we got to the top, the roles had reversed and my knuckles were white from gripping onto the cabin’s rails.
Once safely back on the ground, we had about 15 minutes to kill before the hour. And at the top of every hour, the Eiffel Tower twinkles, so we hustled down the Seine looking for a good vantage point before it struck midnight (or more likely 10pm). We came to a clearing just as tower started to sparkle.And so we stood there quietly, taking it in . . . and maybe taking a few selfies as well ;)We started the next day with breakfast at Le Poincare. Amie and I stumbled across this spot a few years ago on a friend trip to Paris, and I’ve been craving their croque madame ever since. So surprise, that’s exactly what I got:The best part about the cafe is that it’s located in Trocadéro, which meant we had a very short walk to some brilliant Eiffel Tower views. If you want to take a picture with the Eiffel Tower, this is the spot! From the Eiffel Tower, we decided to walk along the Seine to the Tuileries Garden, which was too wet to explore the day before. The walk took about 45 minutes, and by the time we got to the garden, we were ready for a coffee. So I convinced the girls that hot chocolate would be even better, and we hopped in line at Angelina to wait for a table. Angelina is a famous tea house in Paris, known for having the thickest hot chocolate in town (maybe even in the world!) Each cup is like drinking six bars of rich chocolate in liquid form. It’s decadent and delicious, and the perfect treat to accompany a Paris trip. The interior of the tea house is gorgeous, although the staff are rude and impatient. I’m yet to have a cheerful server at Angelina. That said, the sweets are worth returning time and time again, and the hot chocolate is by far the best I’ve ever had. I got the high tea, which included a hot chocolate and a tray of petite snacks.I can never finish the whole mug of chocolate, but that’s okay, because there’s always next time ;) Jess got the white hot chocolate, which was also fantastic – almost too sweet for my taste buds but the same thick, creamy texture as the milk chocolate. After all of those sweet treats (and eggs and cheese at breakfast!) we hit the streets once again. This time, the weather was on our side and so we were able to sit by a fountain in the Tuileries Garden without getting soaked by the rain.We snapped some photos together in those famous green chairs, and hung out for a bit, resting our feet in one of the city’s most scenic parks.I love these girls so much!We made a quick stop in Pierre Herme so Liz could get some macaroons for her friends back home, and then we walked over to the Louvre so the girls could check out the museum’s famous glass pyramid. As the line was ultra long, we decided not to go in, and opted for some vintage shopping instead.It was right around this time that I bought a selfie stick, and our sister photo game seriously stepped up a notch!Thanks selfie stick for helping facilitate this iconic photo . . . . . . and then this one!I don’t care how silly we look taking photos – the selfie stick was a great investment!!
Following our selfie stick photo shoot, we got swindled by a cab driver. We were so exhausted from walking so we decided to get an Uber to the vintage store we wanted to check out. Although we had pre entered the address we wanted to got to, when the driver showed up he refused to take us because it was only a five minute drive away. After a little bit of discussion, he finally agreed to take us, but then drove us about thirty minutes in the opposite direction and then yelled at us to get out in the middle of no where. Thank goodness this was all logged in Uber, because we were refunded right away. That said, we were on the wrong side of town, and had to get another cab to get back, so we wound up spending an hour of our shopping time driving in circles around the city.
However, when we did get to the vintage store, the shopping was on, and we modeled old sweaters and funky sun glasses for one another. We wound down a side street, and ended up right outside the Eglise Saint-Eustache (above) where we chilled on a bench and once again rested our sore feet.
There was also the cutest artisan market along the church, where I picked up a new ring and bracelet to commemorate the trip :)Follow our brief shopping spree, we went back to the Airbnb and decided to grab dinner somewhere locally. Most places were quite packed, and we somehow wound up at an Austrian restaurant in Montmartre. I didn’t really dig the meal and wouldn’t recommend it, so I didn’t take any photos. It honestly felt like a tourist trap and was reminiscent of the many Argentinean Steakhouses in Amsterdam. There are hundreds around the city, but as an Amsterdam resident, I can’t say I’ve ever been to one.
The next day we had to check out of our Airbnb at noon time, and I really wanted to go to the Chateau de Chantilly in the morning which is a 23 minute train ride outside the city center. I got up pretty early in order to have enough time to get to the station and head to the château before we had to check out, but the girls decided to take their time starting the day and stayed local.I’ve explored Paris (and more specifically Montmartre) many times before, so I was excited to venture outside of what I’d done before and try something new! And wow, the château was worth it.It was the first day of the season that was warm enough to stroll around without a jacket, and so I did so with a coffee in hand (and maybe a selfie stick too!)Sorry for the zillion photos – I was so awed by the beauty of the château. French architecture is so classic. I wanted to run my hand over every stone, or just create a toy size replica of the château for my home!
Having done a few laps around the château in the sun, I started walking back to the train station to meet my sisters – who had spent the morning shopping – in Montmartre.Bags in hand, we picked up some salads for lunch and then scouted out a spot in the sun where we could have a picnic.And found the perfect spot on the lawn in front of the Sacré-CœurWe made use of the selfie stick one more time . . . And captured our final Paris sister picture together on the lawn in the sun!The weekend was so much fun, filled with great food, sightseeing, and so much sister time!
I love these two to the moon and can hardly wait for their next trip to Europe! Following our time in Paris, we went back to Amsterdam for a few more nights, so I’ll share some of our tulip hunting photos in my next post :)
Until then! xo