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Vanlife Thoughts on Nature vs. Cities + Inspiring Moments and Magical Places in Amsterdam

vanlife, mr and mrs adventure, ford transit, couples lives in van, how to live in van, van meals, travel europe in a camper vanSlow mornings with tired muscles, fresh air, hot tea and lots of nature. #Vanlife has the potential to take us ANYWHERE we desire, and while we find ourselves within a stone’s throw of some of the world’s GRANDEST cities, it’s places and moments like this that we treasure most.

german flowers, austrian flowers, wild flowers, lens baby flowers, mr and mrs adventureSo, where in the world are we now? Well after loving Holland, we were invited to head South to visit a dear friend in Vienna. We reserved a nearby campground in order to preserve our sense of peace amongst such a bustling city and spent 2 beautiful days exploring the artistic, intellectual, opulent trove that has attracted royalty and lovers of all things lovely for centuries. Tip: Ride the Prater Tower! It’s the largest flying swing carousel in the world, and the view is SPECTACULAR:

prater tower, giant swing vienna, things to do in vienna, vienna austria

From there we ventured off to “Old Town” Salzburg, a UNESCO World Heritage site, the birthplace of Mozart and the impossibly romantic set of the The Sound of Music, followed by an adventure-filled two days in Hallstatt, another UNESCO site surrounded by some of the most dramatic peaks Austria has to offer – post on both of these beauties coming soon!

salzburg austria, sound of music tour, salzberg town, view of hohensalzberg castle, salzberg castle

hallstatt, hallstattersee, unesco world heritage, unesco sites in austria, things to do in hallstatt, best hikes hallstattSo where does that put us now? In the land of rolling hills, lederhosen and schnitzel galore, GERMANY! Lured by that same best friend, we are here to enjoy a few relaxing days at his Bavarian lake house and we couldn’t be more grateful. More on that soon, but now that we’ve brought you up to date, let’s go back to HOLLAND!

amsterdamse bos, pink tree holland, amazing pink tree, biking amsterdamse bos, girl biking holland, dutch girl bikingIn order to satiate our desire to be in nature, but also wanting to experience the world’s greatest cities, we’ve made it point to try and merge these two worlds whenever possible. While cities may be filled with bustling cafes, relentless souvenir shops, buses full of tourists and tour after tour, there are usually always green pastures, peaceful nooks and other hidden treasures to find. But how does one find these magical places and moments? Well, first of all it takes a sense of adventure and a desire to get off the beaten path.

amsterdamse bos, pink tree holland, amazing pink tree, biking amsterdamse bos, girl biking holland, dutch girl with pink tree in forestWith so many Dutch moments too beautiful to describe, Drew decided it was time to put together his first short film (soon to be series)! Inspired to capture the moments that make a place truly unforgettable, we invite you to experience Holland through our eyes:

Our trick to really making the most out of our time in Holland? Going into nature, breathing the fresh air and seeking out the AUTHENTIC. For the sake of time (we have to meet our friend at noon to see the historic castle his family is renovating!!), I have compiled a simple, and beautiful, collection of our fave places and photos from our time in Holland:

amsterdamse bos, pink tree holland, amazing pink tree, biking amsterdamse bos, girl and boy napping, polaroid photo in holland, napping holland, amsterdam forest, best park in amsterdam1. Amsterdamse Bos (aka. the forest): We went for a run, rode our bikes, took a nap and set out in search of the hairy cows – we didn’t take any photos of them which only adds to their mysticism…

amsterdamse bos, pink tree holland, amazing pink tree, biking amsterdamse bos, girl and boy napping, polaroid photo in holland, napping holland, amsterdam forest, best park in amsterdamamsterdamse bos, pink tree holland, amazing pink tree, biking amsterdamse bos, girl and boy napping, polaroid photo in holland, napping holland, amsterdam forest, best park in amsterdam2. Noordwijk Beach (near Keukenhof): We brought a picnic, mini cooker to heat water for tea, a giant blanket, umbrella and camped out ALL DAY. It was divine.

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dune beach holland, amazing beaches holland, beaches amsterdam, noordwijk beach, polaroid on beach3. Vondelpark (in the heart of the city): We packed a picnic and rode our bikes from the Amsterdamse Bos (where our #rollinghome was parked). People were playing their guitars, hanging out in hammocks, enjoying stroopwafels, walking their dogs, climbing trees, biking, running, talking, reading, napping… EVERYONE was happy to be doing whatever they were doing and THIS is what made it truly magical.

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vondelpark amsterdam, amsterdam bikes, holland biking, lens baby hollandvondelpark, holland picnic, tree with giant hand vondelpark, giant hand statue holland vondelpark, where to picnic in hollandvondelpark, holland picnic, tree with giant hand vondelpark, giant hand statue holland vondelpark, where to picnic in holland4. De Hoge Veluwe National Park (2 hours from Amsterdam): Known as the “Green Gem of the Netherlands,” we rode their white bikes all around, got totally lost, had a blast and finally made it to Van Gogh’s second home in the middle of the woods at the Kröller-Müller museum, which also has an out-of-this-world outdoor sculpture garden!

de hoge veluwe, parks in amsterdam, national park holland

de hoge veluwe, parks in amsterdam, national park holland

de hoge veluwe, parks in amsterdam, national park holland5. Biking the Oeverlandroute to the famed Zaanse Schans windmills (8 mile loop): Recommended by a sweet and adventurous friend, we packed a picnic, enjoyed the peace offered on the trail and made sure to climb to the top of at least one of the historic “windmolens.”

amsterdam bike paths, magic amsterdam, biking holland, amazing bike paths hollandzaanse schans windmills, windmills holland, oeverlandroute holland, best bike path holland, hippie trails holland, biking to the windmills in amsterdam, biking hollandzaanse schans windmills, windmills holland, oeverlandroute holland, best bike path holland, hippie trails holland, biking to the windmills in amsterdam, biking holland6. Amsterdam the city: We loved both the city and the nature that this incredible piece of earth has to offer, so here are some photos of the epic city that we just couldn’t help but share:

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amsterdam bikes, bike garage amsterdam, holland bikes, dutch bikes

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amsterdam canals, beautiful amsterdam canals, wooden canal boat amsterdam, romantic amsterdam7. And then there’s Amsterdam at night: Beyond the clubs and coffeeshops, we found Amsterdam to be so impossibly romantic at night. We took the ferry from Centraal Station (free 24/7) and strolled along the canals, watching as the city transformed into muted hues of blue and soft gold. The canals tunnels lit up, creating twinkling portals on the still waters of the “Venice of the North.”
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amsterdam canals, night photo amsterdam, lens baby amsterdam, amsterdam canals at night

amsterdam canals, night photo amsterdam, lens baby amsterdam, amsterdam canals at night8. There’s no mentioning Amsterdam at night without talking about the notoriously scandalous Red Light District. While WE wouldn’t call it “magical” (though others probably would), we both agree that it is an incredibly-unusual, jaw-dropping site to see. “De Wallen,” as it is referred to by locals, has everything to offer from the infamous window girls, to coffeeshops, peep shows, bustling crowds filled with eager onlookers, nervous teenagers, curious couples, rowdy bachelors + bachelorettes, but even more so, there is a rich and fascinating history to be learned, especially when it comes to laws and human rights. The best way to experience this active phenomenon? Go out for a night on the town with an local expert guide from Amsterdam Red Light District Tours or better yet, explore with the app for free and at your own pace! We learned all sorts of crazy facts + developed a greater understanding of why and HOW such an unconventional industry has been able to flourish for so long! Photos in the RLD are prohibited so we don’t have many images to share, another reason why it’s a site worth seeing with your own eyes. We were told that the girls will literally chase you down if you try to take a photo of them! Despite all the madness that takes place within these crusted walls, we were able to enjoy a moment of peace while sitting along the canal, observing the lights as they glistened on the water… red of course:

amsterdam canals, amsterdam at night, Red light district tourHolland is an incredibly diverse place that truly has something to offer everyone. It was hard to leave but it won’t be hard for us to find a reason to go back… after all, there are fresh tulips to see every year.

holland tulips, orange and pink tulips, lens baby flowers, lens baby tulips, keukenhof

 

2 Comments

  1. Reply

    Barbara

    May 22, 2016

    Lovely, my dear friend Serena is living there.

    • Reply

      mrandmrsadventure

      May 23, 2016

      You should go visit for the tulips 😉

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