A quick trip to Amsterdam

A quick trip to Amsterdam

It was an early morning trip to the airport. The metro station was almost empty but the airport was full of people. You can really feel the ‘revenge travel’ that people are talking about. Then the rain started just when we had to leave the bus to board the plane.

It was the big plane, the one you take on an intercontinental flight. I dreamt of flying to Tokyo or Seoul… Once we are up, it was sunny and very pretty!

I arrived at my hotel in central Amsterdam. I was too early and sweating from wearing thick clothing all the way from Helsinki. I took off my coat, left it, walked and sat myself to breakfast in this cozy place. I came in just at the right time as the place became full too quickly. Apparently, it was a known place for the locals.

I walked back to the hotel as the rain started pouring. I had no umbrella and no coat either. The closest shop was the cheese shop and that was how I ended up owning a cheese umbrella. I arrived at the hotel and was able to check into my room. The stairs was a typical dutch stairs – long, steep and narrow. But I was able to manage to get to the third floor. The secret – travelling light! The room was tiny. I can’t remember staying in such tiny hotel room ever in my life. But I managed. The secret – I’m a tiny person myself! (Note: this room was not even cheap!)

Then came the name test during breakfast the next day. And it was 100% perfect. The guy behind the counter got my name by just saying it once. He even offered a muffin for 25 cents. This was a correct name third time around. First in Paris, then Vancouver and now in Amsterdam. This place also played Billie Holiday.

Then it was walking walking walking. It’s really worth staying close to the major attractions. I was also back at Van Gogh museum after 6 years. I didn’t visit when I was in Amsterdam in 2019.

But the main reason why I was in Amsterdam was to attend my son’s graduation for his bachelor’s from the University of Amsterdam. We even went out the first evening to shop and dine. It was a special event. Just think about how these students spent the last two years studying online. It was a happy reunion with course-mates whom they haven’t seen in two years. Students flew from different countries to attend the graduation ceremony. Some even flew all the way from Dubai. I was such a proud mum! After the dinner of humongous burger, we said goodbye as he was busy with his classes the next day. He is taking a Master degree course after all!

So I continued to explore Amsterdam by foot the next day before heading to the airport. It was cloudy with few showers here and there but it was nice. The day before, my son took me to a special cookie shop. It’s so famous that they were out of cookies already when we got there. So there I was at 10.15 and a queue was already formed. I queued for fun. It was my first time to queue for cookies and I can honestly say it was worth it!

I continued walking and passed by this cute croissant shop and also saw a Gashapon shop. Guess if I played? Then I got breakfast at a pancake place where only one person works. She was amazing because the place was actually packed. She took the order, cooked, took the payment, cleaned and repeat. Some people were eating open pancake but I rolled it!

I head back to the hotel with a few diversions. The cookie shop still had a long queue. I also looked around the book market where I was 6 years ago and got myself some old postcards. Interestingly, I bought two very old postcards from Japan mailed to a person in Finland! I also passed by the Flower market and bought some bonsai seeds. Then I took my small luggage from the hotel and headed to the airport by bus. I arrived 4 hours before my plane departs without knowing that I should be at the airport 4 hours before my plane departs because of the revenge travel! There were lots of people. The queue went in and out of the airport. They even made a tent. I haven’t seen anything like this in my entire life and I have travelled a lot.

But I made it. It was a crazy three hours queue, longer than flying to Helsinki! Why did I come to the airport 4 hours earlier is still a mystery to me up until now…

It was a quick and lovely break, something that I thought I didn’t need but I actually did!

I took back the summer

I took back the summer

The song, We lost the summer by TXT, was kind of my theme song last year. It was one of my most listened song during the pandemic and I hope it will not remain this way. However, today, I felt like the summer is nearly over. The wind is blowing cool air and the nights have been chilly. Tomorrow, I’ll return by my desk and start thinking what is next for me. A lot of reflections need to be done there…

But to end this summer of 2021, I booked a trip to Paris. I thought Paris will be a bit empty, but no, there were a lot of people. Although, there were obviously fewer foreign tourists and the need for a COVID pass (EU COVID certificate for me) to enter museums and other tourist spots like the Eiffel Tower and Sacré-Cœur Basilica made queues disappear. But the time spend just walking, sat at a cafe and having a perfect meal was just so worth it.

In any case, the saying that Paris is always a good idea didn’t fail me. It was a good idea to spend a short trip in Paris and to cheer Hooray to the end of the summer that I took back!

All photos by Ari Vitikainen @ https://www.arivitikainenphotography.com

Budapest and the gradual return to a semblance of normality…

Budapest and the gradual return to a semblance of normality…

Did the world become a friendlier place or is Budapest always been like this?

After a year and 7 months, we were able to travel outside of Finland again. Europe has reopened especially to those who are fully vaccinated. Hungary has also claimed to have reached herd immunity or at least, a large portion of its population has already been vaccinated. It’s very rare to see people wearing masks and there are no social distancing whatsoever. Restrictions have been lifted and it seems like the old times. However, there are obviously less tourists which is nice in many ways. There are no crowds, no tour groups and all that.

I was really loving the architecture in Budapest. I can imagine how glorious this city was in its former days. I can’t stop admiring all the fine details placed into building this city. But what fascinated me even more was how friendly and helpful people were. It was so amazing! This friendly atmosphere was something that I didn’t expect. Is Budapest always been like this or did the world become a friendlier place?

When we booked our hotel room, we chose the cheaper option. But, we were upgraded to the best room of the hotel which has two double rooms, two bathrooms, a living room and a rooftop which faces the Hungarian Opera. It was such a treat! And one of the must places to visit in Buda is the Fisherman’s Bastion. Such a breathtaking view!

I also recommend climbing the Citadella for its amazing view of the city after sunset and when the city lights are on!

All photos by Ari Vitikainen at https://www.arivitikainenphotography.com. All rights reserved.