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Ain’t no Mountain High Enough, Ain’t no Water Blue Enough

I’m a Minnesotan by choice, but I was raised a California girl. I don’t miss much about the Golden State, besides the people I left behind, as there’s not much there I can’t find here. Except for one thing: mountains.

I recently flew back west to enjoy a girls’ weekend with some high school classmates. One of them has a stunning house in Truckee, so we headed up there for some sun, fun, wine and lip syncing! Not much I’m gonna say about all that (what happens in Tahoe, stays in Tahoe), but I do want to share some of the gorgeous scenery. If you’ve never been to Lake Tahoe, you really should put it on your bucket list.

Enjoy!

The drive up to Truckee

The next day we went boating — thanks Chip for being our Captain, and Shabi, the dog, for being the bestest mascot!

No social distancing on the beaches!

Lake Tahoe’s water is famously stunning!

We boated by the Thunderbird Lodge, which I’d ever heard fo before. So beautiful, and evidently lots of history.

The next day we hiked around before lunch and driving back to the Bay Area. The other girls were after exercise — I just wanted to play tourist and soak up a few last moments. It had been at least 12 years since i had last been in the mountains, and I have no idea when I will be luck y enough to go back!

Going Dutch

HWSNBN has done a lot of European travel for work this past year. While not always great for either of us, we have decided to take full advantage of all those frequent flyer miles, and my flexible retirement schedule.  He recently mentioned he needed to go to Belgium for a trip, and would I like to tag along ad meet him in Amsterdam ?  So I checked my schedule for the least difficult weekend to bail on my responsibilities, and off we went!

I had been  to Amsterdam several times, but only in the airport (seems all flights from Minneapolis go through there). We had bandied about the idea of using Amsterdam as a departure for another location, as he didn’t think we could find enough to do there.  Silly man.  He still underestimates my epic planning skills! I knew we would never get it all done in the long weekend (Thursday-Sunday) we were there.  I was right (shocking, I know).

He arrived in Amsterdam on Wednesday, and had meetings through Thursday night, which meant I’d be on my own until he could escape from work.  He apologized, but I knew I’d be fine.  Pretty sure I could travel anywhere solo and find ways to entertain myself!

I arrived midday Thursday, and had arranged a one one one tour for myself through an AMAZING company called With Locals (https://www.withlocals.com/).  You should check them out (they are all over the world): you pick your own guide, based on little bios on the website.  Into fashion and shopping? Pick this guide! A foodie? This one’s for you! I chose mine based on my love of history and architecture.  Ente was fantastic.  We spent three hours wandering, discussing how the city evolved with the political and economic changes of the times.  Every time we turned a corner (and there were many — old cities built around canals have lots of corners), he pointed out something new about a building or a location, pulling out old maps and drawings to show context.  Some folks might’ve been bored; I was fascinated.

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Sometimes you gotta look up to find local color

Afterwards I moseyed back towards the Museumplain, or museum district, where our charming hotel was.  We were staying at the Hotel Vondel (https://www.hotelvondel.com/en).  Holiday lights and shop window decorations always delight me.  Whether whimsical or charming or just plain head-shaking, I think they are often a glimpse into a city’s personality.

HWSNBN being still in a dinner meeting,  I wandered the misty streets, looking for a cozy brown bar to have a beer and dinner.  A brown bar or cafe is an old place with lots of wood and smoke tinted walls — no, they don’t smell gross and dirty.  They just feel old and welcoming!  A quick Trip Advisor app search (smart phones are saviors, lemme tell ya) led me to Gollem’s Proeflokkal (https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g188590-d2405892-Reviews-Gollem_s_Proeflokaal-Amsterdam_North_Holland_Province.html), where I cozied up to a beer and bitteballen, a traditional Dutch snack of deep fried dough and ground meat.

Perfect for enjoying the happy sounds of a neighborhood bar, while watching the world pass by.  HWSNBN finished his meeting and met me, and we enjoyed more food and drink as we planned our attack on the next few days!

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