Victoria Moon | Lifestyle Blogger

Weekend in Amsterdam

In August we took a mini road trip to Amsterdam, and it was amazing. It was our first visit to the city and it will not be the last. Amsterdam had so much to offer - beautiful architecture and interiors, delicious food, friendly locals, museums and a versatile nightlife. Walking through the city is pleasant and entertaining in itself though. Every street has a new canal to explore with trees hugging the side of the water and the buildings expose their own intricate story for you to further explore. The first day all we did was walk the entire city in awe of its beauty. 

The second day was filled with more activities. We began our morning at one of the top brunch spots, Bakers & Roasters. I am already craving to go back! Not only for the food itself, but for its deliciously brewed coffee and atmosphere. It is definitely a place to visit while in Amsterdam! 

 

Later we moseyed our way to the Van Gogh Museum, which did not disappoint. This museum was nicely laid out with a clean and modern design and was quite interactive while touring. I would highly suggest paying the extra 5 euro for the audio tour - this offered us great insights of the paintings which made the tour even more enjoyable.  (And yes, the to-go coffee I am holding is from Bakers & Roasters -- Couldn't resist not having one to walk around with! )

 

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Amsterdam has such charm, character and diverse entertainment which is why it has made my list of top cities I have loved visiting. Until next time...

"People don't take trips, trips take people" - John Steinbeck 

 

Warm Weather Activities in Hamburg

This past weekend was the first weekend it truly felt like Spring in Hamburg.  A clear blue sky and warm sunshine had everyone flocking to the outdoors. The cherry blossom trees budding, flowers sprouting and the trees showing off their lush green leaves makes Hamburg even more beautiful. 

The city had an energetic vibe to it with all the activities one can do when visiting Hamburg during warmer weather. JD and I started our day off in the Hafencity and this is where we saw one of the coolest activities (or at least we thought so!) - on road Go-Kart tours! It was a group of 10 or so touring throughout Hamburg - how cool is that? I did some research after seeing this and there is actually a couple of options you can do. 

The tour we saw was a Street-Kart tour through Heiser Events.  This company has other outdoor activities as well, such as scooter and kayak tours. 

Another option is a Hotrod Tour - this looks pretty fun too! And, there are multiple locations throughout Germany where you can do this.


Other activities that we still would like to do and see while living in Hamburg:

  • The Hamburger Dom - A carnival/festival with amusement rides, games and lots of German food to try.
  • Mingle and relax at Strand Pauli - A beach lounge area to grab drinks & hang out during the warm, Summer days.
  • Go to the Hamburg Fischmarkt - This takes place every Sunday from 5am-9:30am where you can buy fresh fish and produce. (and attracts 70,000 visitors weekly!)...and for the party goers, I have been told by friends that some will stay up dancing at the Reeperbahn until 4 and head to the market to enjoy fischbrochens to top off their night life fun!
  • Grab cocktails at the 20up Skyline Bar - feelin' fancy? Then head to this restaurant and bar that is on the 20th floor of the Empire Riverside Hotel with harbor views. 
  • Bike through The Olde Elbe Tunnel - Built in 1911, the tunnel is now a tourist attraction and also used as a short cut to get from one side of the city to the other.

Boat tours, shows/concerts, soccer games and BBQ's by the Alster are also on our radar - Time to start checking off this list!

 

"Some old fashioned things like fresh air and sunshine are hard to beat" - Laura Ingalls Wilder

*Elbe Tunnel Photo by © panthermedia*

 

 

The Baltic Sea: A Productive Vacation

For the Easter Holiday we went to Sassnitz with another couple - roughly a 4 hour drive from Hamburg. Our stay there consisted of home cooked meals in our AWESOME apartment that gave us beautiful views of the Baltic Sea, casual strolls, morning coffees and afternoon naps, sweet treats and a "5:00 somewhere" mentality. It was pretty perfect. 

To be honest, there wasn't a whole lot to do in Sassnitz - especially on Easter weekend when everything closed on the holidays (which was the Friday, Sunday & Monday we were there). But, THAT is why it was the perfect place to go to just relax and wind down. There is a park with walkways by the sea and also a pier area with boats that have fresh seafood for you to eat - delicious!

If you visit Sassnitz,  you can go bike riding, kayaking, take boat tours etc. We took a ferry over to the next town called Binz, which took about 45 minutes. This was a lot of fun because we hopped on the ferry, grabbed a window seat and toasted the day off with some beers (and Easter chocolate!).

Like our day trip to Schwerin, Binz was another cute and quaint town to visit. Buildings with white facades filled the entire town with lots of restaurants and local shops to pop into - and the best part was that it was all right by the sea.

While strolling around, we found our way to a brewery called Fritz Braugasthaus and had flights of beer to taste. The weather was perfect so we sat outside and enjoyed being sun-kissed.

Sitting on the beach by an open fire, crepe tasting & sighting seeing made Sassnitz & Binz the perfect getaway for us. We felt extra thankful, refreshed, and relaxed after a long weekend visit to such a beautiful & simplistic place.

If you have the chance to travel there and enjoy being by the sea, having scenic views, lounging on the beach and leisurely going about your day - then take a look at our adventures there and start planning your trip! 

"Sometimes the most productive thing you can do is relax" - Mark Black

A Castle & a Cafe

One of the top reasons we said yes to moving to Europe was for us to have the opportunity to explore and travel as much as possible (DUH!). Our first day trip was over the weekend to Schwerin - a cute and quaint town about an hour (train ride) from Hamburg. 

When we arrived in Schwerin, we stopped to eat breakfast at this adorable cafe, Kostbar.  Washed wood floors, mixed furniture pieces with bold upholstery and plaid accent pillows gave this space a very comfortable, cozy & welcoming feel - and the food was just as indulging.

Once our bellies were happy, we went to see the Cathedral that sits in the heart of the town.

We then went to Schwerin Castle which is a must see, and it's also ranked in the Top 10 Castles to visit in Germany.  (I can't wait to visit again once spring has sprung! The flowers and greenery must make this place even more BEAUTIFUL.)

You can also tour the museum inside the Castle that showcases pieces from the 19th Century. Learn more about the museum here.

Schwerin was the perfect day trip because we were able to visit the main attractions and walk throughout most of the town during our short time there. It's a charming city that offers history & much character for the eye to see.

"Always be on the lookout for the presence of wonder" - E.B. White

 

Arriving to Deutschland

Leaving home was hard, but arriving to Hamburg was well worth it. JD and I had been a part for two and a half weeks, and prior to that, we only saw each other on weekends since January 1st ( I know that doesn't seem too long, but as newlyweds..it felt like forever). As I was anxious to fly by myself (for the FIRST time ever) abroad, I overcame my fear of traveling alone, getting lost in a foreign airport and hopping on the wrong plane (this did happen once in my life. true story.)

When I arrived in Hamburg, I was greeted by JD standing near the luggage area with flowers and a big grin. We were so excited to finally be back together again! I was also welcomed by clear skies and sunny weather, which is not always the case here in Hamburg. The weather is a lot like London or Seattle, mostly overcast. So sunny days are very much appreciated, and it made my first day in Hamburg even more enjoyable.

JD and I went to the Alster Cafe and had a delicious lunch - baked chicken, potato salad and red rice pilaf. SO GOOD. We then strolled along the Alster, which is the Lake connected from the Elbe River that flows all throughout Hamburg. It is beautifully landscaped with cute cafe's and restaurants nestled along the bank and it has a skyline filled with steeples. There is also a running path around the lake that is 5 miles ( I have yet to do this. And, if I do...I most likely will NOT make it all around to hit that 5 mile mark. Running is not my strong suit.)

Later that evening JD took me to what so far, has been my favorite restaurant - Hans Im Gluck. The decor and atmosphere is AMAZING. The design is creative, energetic and very comfortable. It has a casual feel with the seating and layout, but also gives off an upbeat vibe with the music and simplistic, yet funky decor. Bamboo trees from floor to ceiling fill the entire space, while live green walls and plants hang above the bar - it is definitely a spot to visit! 

I know there is much more to see, taste, and experience - and I can't wait to share more with you. Stay tuned for our next adventures!

"All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware." - Martin Bube

 

 

 

Moving Process

Here is how busy and quick the whole process was after our wedding...

  1. November 14th, MARRIED!
  2. November 16th-November 23, Hola, Honeymoon in MEXICO!
  3.  November 26th, Thanksgiving Day Festivities
  4.  Back to work for 3 weeks until Christmas
  5.  Christmas & New Years Celebrations & Travels
  6. Then, sh*t got real.

JD left for Germany on January 1st for 2 weeks to start his job in Hamburg, and to look for us an apartment. (Which we quickly found out was difficult). We planned to have a yard sale when he returned for the weekend on January 16th. While he was gone, I needed to organize and get ready for not only the yard sale, but the big move!

Let me add that we moved from an 850 sf apartment to an 1,800 sf home, and even though we were only in the house for a short amount of time, we acquired a lot of stuff. We had wedding presents, we bought new furniture for the extra rooms we didn't have before, yard equipment, kitchen gadgets etc. We knew our living space was going to be limited in Hamburg, and we had a short amount of time to get completely out of our house - especially since JD was only in town for the weekends due to his work until he left for good on January 30th. Times were stressful.

The fist step was to go through the house and make three distinct piles: Moving Sale Items, Hamburg Items, and Storage Items. This was easier said then done. I knew what needed to happen, but at this point we did NOT have an apartment lined up in Hamburg yet. This made it difficult because I didn't know how big or small the space would be. Could it fit our bed, or did that need to go to storage?  How many closets will it have to store linens, towels, our clothes? Do they even have closets there?? What about the kitchen...how much kitchen storage would we have (because, I was taking pretty much everything we got from the wedding!). 

I advertised the sale through social media groups for local yard sales and did the traditional signs around our neighborhood. ( Funny side note - I originally took the time to go to the store, buy posters, markers and stakes for the signs....and when I was finished "creating" the signs, I sent an image to my sister to show her my handy work. She then replied with, " I just ordered you a yard sale package from Amazon. It comes with 6 signs, the sticks, a marker, balloons and the price stickers. It will be shipped to you in 2 days." I laughed and felt a sense of relief because deep down, I knew that my signs were ugly....gotta love Amazon prime!).

What was left from the yard sale we took to Goodwill & Salvation Army. We then moved out some furniture that my sister and her fiancé are graciously letting us store at their home...but, I have a feeling I may have to put up a little fight to get back my sectional sofa that actually looks AMAZING in their living area. Really brightens up the space.

4 days later the shipping container and movers arrived to pack up the remaining items that would be going with us to Hamburg. And then the house was completely empty.

Shipping day was the first day I think it dawned on me that we were really moving. To another country.  It was bittersweet, but I did LOVE the feeling of getting rid of old items, random things we didn't need...it was like an early deep,DEEP, spring cleaning! It felt freeing - everything throughout this process has just felt right. I have had a sense of peace, happiness and excitement about it all (and of course, nervousness too!) . And, I think it is crazy & amazing that it is the start of our new life as a married couple.

 

"And suddenly you just know...it's time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings" -Meister Eckhart

Before the big move

6 months after we BOUGHT our first home in Charlotte, NC, and 2 months before we said " I DO", is when JD & I found out we would be moving to Hamburg, Germany for the next 2-3 years! JD works for Siemens Energy and received a job offer there, and we could not turn down this amazing opportunity to live and work abroad. 

Before going into the details about our moving process abroad and the beginning adventures in Hamburg, I first would like to share what was, and still is, the best day of our lives - 11.14.15.

I am originally from Charleston, SC and this is where our wedding was held. We married in Mount Pleasant at Dunes West Golf & Country Club. Everything about this day could not have been more perfect for us - the weather, the service, and the entire flow of the day was beautifully played out. 

Sneak Peek of our wedding film by KLC Videography

Photography by Lauren Jonas Photography

 

 

“Love is a vessel that contains both security and adventure, and commitment offers one of the great luxuries of life: time. Marriage is not the end of romance, it is the beginning.” ― Esther Perel
 

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