Browsing Category

Backpacking Europe

Backpacking Europe


Today it was Amsterdam’s turn to show us what she has to offer. There are many beautiful things to see there and some very impressive sights to visit (such as the Anne Frank house, more on that later in this post)

It wasn’t just me and Sarah today, Kim (another cousin of us, who I hadn’t seen in years) was with us too, three times the fun!!

We walked all around the city starting at the central station, through the Volkelpark, all the way up to Museumplein with its iconic ‘IAmsterdam’ sign and of course the recently reopened Rijksmuseum, the museum that has the Night’s Watch on display.


After getting our photo taken with the IAmsterdam sign (and I unfortunately have my eyes closed in that!) we walked to Leidsche Plein or lunch. Lots of options for places to eat at Leidsche Plein , most bars and restaurants have their seats in the centre of the square all together which makes for a very nice atmosphere.

After getting our well deserved lunch we wandered off in the direction of the Anne Frank house. As we got closer we noticed an enormous queue that stretched all the way around the corner. But let me tell you this, the Anne Frank house is so worth to queue up for! And the queue might seem gigantic, we didn’t even had to wait that long, around 20 minutes or so to get in.
Once you get inside there is a lot of background information on who Anne and her family and other hiders were. What it was like living in wartime and even videos, photos and interviews with people who helped the Frank family during their hiding. At the end you see a video of Anne’s father, the only survivor of all of them and how he came to the decision to have Anne’s diary published.

Of course you get to walk through the secret annexe, and as chatty as people are in the front of the house, once you pass through the hidden door behind the book case everyone was quiet and I mean everyone, even kids!

I think all of us understood the horror these people had to go through, and for me personally it made me realise once again what my grandparents had to go through as well.

Leaving the Anne Frank house behind we felt we had to shake off the uneasiness and the emotional feelings. So a canal boat ride sounded like a good idea.

Sailing the canals Amsterdam is famous for you get a whole different feel of the city and you see things you usually wouldn’t see. Except maybe for bikes, because no matter where you go in Amsterdam or how you travel the city; bikes are everywhere! There are even lee bikes than people occupying Amsterdam with 25,000 bikes dragged up from the bottom of the canals!!

The canal sailing for our spirits up, and before heading home we got a delicious meal at the Heineken cafe at Bijlmer Arena Station.



Oh and of course we saw lots of souvenir shops selling touristy things with the Cannabis leaves on them 😉 (and there are not just tourist shops selling cannabis related things if you catch my drift 😉 )

Be sure to visit Amsterdam when you get the chance, and make sure you join that queue at Anne Franks house, it’s a must see, we can never forget!

Backpacking Europe

Brussels Belgium

Sarah is here! She arrived last Sunday and even though I still have a few days of work left, we had our first city trip adventure today. We visited the beautiful city of Brussels Belgium.

Living relatively close to the belgian border makes it easy to catch a train from a belgian train station to Brussels central station. That way we could avoid international trains and that saves a lot of time.

After arriving we of course had to try to Belgian Waffles, and preferably not the plain ones but topped with strawberries, cream and chocolate. Good thing we had all day to walk off those calories 😉

Sarah eating a Belgian Waffle, Brussels Belgium

Chantal eating Belgian Waffles, Brussels Belgium

Aside from fantastic waffles Brussels has a lot more to offer, beautiful old buildings, fantastic market squares, the cathedral and of course Manneke Pis, the little peeing statue. Our favourite rendition of this iconic statue is a bright green one with funky yellow glasses. Much easier to find too than the original 🙂

Cathedral, Brussels Belgium

The Park across the Royal Palace, Brussels Belgium

Grand Place, Brussels Belgium

We Love Brussels Belgium

Belgium also has some fantastic beers and let’s not forget the very delicious chocolate!

Sarah having a beer, Brussels Belgium

Strolling around Brussels was wonderful and the sunny weather made it even more enjoyable. That’s one city down, many more to go, onto the next!

Images Courtesy of Sarah

Backpacking Europe, Blog

Guestblogging: Tena Koe Sarah

Since the date of our European Adventure is approaching rapidly, I’ve asked my cousin Sarah if she would like to guest blog on here from time to time during our travels too. So soon you’ll not only find posts logging our trip from me here, but also from Sarah 🙂

I’m looking forward to see her posts on here and I hope you’ll all be as kind to her as you are to me.

Haere Mai, Sarah!

I’m aware it’s Tēnā Koe but that didn’t look good in the title making 2 letters bolder, yes, esthetics lol

Backpacking Europe

Backpacking Around Europe, 49 Days Left!

In 49 days my “summer” holiday will start and the adventure of backpacking around Europe will begin. Technically the adventure will begin a little earlier than that as Sarah will arrive days before.

I think by now I’m driving a lot of people in my surroundings crazy because I.CAN”T.STOP.TALKING.ABOUT.IT. Seriously I’m waiting for the day someone tells me to shut up already. Luckily no one has said that yet and they are all still “willing victims” listening to my pre travel plans.

Right now we haven’t booked anything yet apart from the train tickets. No, nothing. Isn’t that exciting? The best thing about that is we can go wherever we please and stay for however long we like. The downside -if you will- is we don’t have the certainty of a place to sleep. But with so many hostels around and maybe even hotels if worst comes to worst I’m sure we find a place to rest our heads. With that said, we’re still debating if we should book anything in advance, it might be a good idea to book at least some hostels in places we know we’re going to stay for a while.

It also pays to buy city cards like the Roma pass or a Paris pass. Although I have to admit I think the Paris pass is expensive. I would have to calculate to see if it’s worth it for what we want to see and do. No one wants to end up having to run around the city using the pass just to get their money’s worth out of it. If you do that, you don’t actually get to enjoy the city, you’re just doing things in a hurry to not waste money; never a good way to spend time.

Apart from that, I’m making lists. Lots of lists of things I still need to buy, things that could come in handy, things I shouldn’t  forget to bring, clothes I want to pack, places to see, things to do. I pretty much think there is a list for everything and knowing me, I’ll probably end up forgetting things I wanted to bring anyway.

One of those things I need to get is a spork. We intend to cooks our meals at hostels but I hate eating from strangers’ cutlery, I just can’t help it, I even drag my own things to work with me, even though we have a dishwasher there. A little strange perhaps but sporks are easy to pack and pretty cheap too at $1.99 a piece. A spork is a combination of a spoon, fork and knife if you hadn’t figured out yet ;).



As you can see I’m even excited about getting silly gear like sporks, but the thing I’m most excited about? It’s seeing Sarah. I can’t wait to see her and hang out 🙂 that will be the best part of the trip!

Backpacking Europe

Less Than 90 Days – Backpacking

Backpacking Adventure

In less than 90 days Sarah will have arrived in The Netherlands and the European Backpacking Adventure can begin. We won’t be leaving to explore Europe right away, as I have a few days of work left at that time but that doesn’t make things less exciting.


The plan right now is to backpack around Europe by train and visit some beautiful cities like Paris and Rome and see stunning views in Austria amongst others. But hey, it’s not set in stone so things could change last minute. That’s the exciting part of backpacking, things can change in an instant and take a whole new direction. Adventures for sure!

Extra Adventurous or Trouble?

What makes this trip even more adventurous (or at least according to some, I’m not in the least bit worried about it) is that Sarah and I never met, at least face to face. We’re family and have spoken to each other a lot and it’s safe to say we have a lot in common and get along well. I’m convinced that this isn’t going to be an issue at all, because hey we’re WHANAU 😉

I still need to get a few things for the trip in the next few months but they’re all minor so that’s going to be a breeze. I even managed to fit my tripod for my SLR in my daypack without being it too heavy to carry so I’m seriously considering taking it. It might make taking photos at certain locations so much easier :). I do still need to get a remote for the camera. That’s one thing I’m sure off I’ll use a lot. Not only on the road but also at home when I find some free, so it will be a good investment.

Have you been to Europe and what would you recommend we really should see?

Image courtesy of Emptyglass /