Keatings on Tour

Partake in Court & Karl's Excellent (Amsterdam) Adventure…

And we’re BATH….

I mean, we’reeee BACK! Back to Euro travel that is – by March, it was time to get back on the travel bandwagon, now as a family of 4!! Of course, our little one had already traveled – at 3 weeks old going down to Germany for a day/night at the Christmas markets, and at 3 months ,a three week/trans Atlantic trip to Florida in Feb. But with Karl’s good friends making their way to England, we thought this was the perfect opportunity to try our hand at a short weekend holiday (kind of like the good old days).

Some highlights from our weekend away in Bath:

Time with Friends – there is nothing better than connecting with good friends who you don’t often see, especially getting the chance to meet up with them on the other side of the world!

IMG_6767

Erin+Doug+Baby Bridget in the UK (Coen is asleep nearby!)

The weather – we were extremely lucky to have a very sunny and pleasant weekend in England, it doesn’t get its reputation for rain for nothing, so we soaked up the rays and were thankful to be able to sit outside and walk around the city without getting drenched.

The hills – Little bit of a travel mishap on my part – we certainly got our experience in the rolling hills of Bath (we are wimps now living in flat Holland). The Bed & Breakfast I had booked did have reviews saying it was a bit of a walk uphill, but it was really a walk uphill, especially with bags, strollers, etc. We could have taken cabs but it’s a bit difficult to get all of the kids in one, so, we generally walked up and down quite a few times to get into the city center.

A Rugby Match – so very British/Irish – Karl and Doug got to attend a local Rugby Match.

IMG_6773

The Spa – So, perhaps a little gender stereotypical that Karl and Doug saw Rugby and Erin and I went to the Spa, but hey, I am convinced we got the better end of the deal. With the Dads on kid duty, Erin and I had a good couple of hours away at one of the world’s most famous thermal bath SPAs. (I am not kidding about it being famous, there was a crazy line-up already at 9 am to get in the door, thankfully Erin had been smart and we had booked a few months in advance). There was a hot springs bath on the roof! I had a facial, massage and a scrub! It was magical.

download

I wasn’t allowed to bring my phone to take a photo – but look at this place! I was in a rooftop spa with a castle in the background!!

The Baths – We took a tour as a fam of the Ancient Roman Baths – Coen enjoyed the guys and gals dressed up as old Romans and we enjoyed the history.

IMG_6768

Taking our Tour

IMG_6769

IMG_6764

 

 

Advertisements

Tales from the Adriatic

A road trip. hmmm… Not my preferred method of travel if I am completely honest. Maybe it’s my bad memories of getting car sick back when I was a kid, or, the fact that you can’t sit back and read and relax like you can while training or plane-ing. But, it was time to put my big girl pants on and act like a true Dutchwoman – the Dutch love their road trips and often travel by car all over Europe, usually with their bikes and/or caravans in tow. In fact, the August Saturday we had planned to leave for our 2 week Adriatic Holiday – we found out shortly before leaving that it was coined “Black Saturday” due to all of the Dutch people who were planning to hit the road for their summer holidays. Nonetheless, we were ready to go – a car trip was really the best way for us to travel for a long holiday – we wanted to see a variety of cities and sights, plus, now that Coen was over 2, we are paying for 3 plane tickets now – yikes.

Our trip was a solid 2 weeks long, visiting 7 different cities, 5 countries and countless rest areas along they way. The great part about our trip was once the long drive south was out of the way (about 8-10 hrs), all of our destinations were only a couple hours from one another, so we could easily hop in the car during Coen’s nap and reach our destination in time for the afternoon. The itinerary (planned almost entirely by Karl who did a fantastic job) is now being copied by different friends who want to experience Europe “off the beaten path.”

Below are some pictures and favorite moments of the trip, but the best way to see the action is through the summer blockbuster: Tales from the Adriatic, starring Karl, Court & Coen:

Stop 1: Nuremberg with Friends – our first stop found us in Germany where our great friends, Michelle and Jesse, have been living since moving from Amsterdam almost three years ago. After a long day of driving, it was perfect to be in the comfort of good friends. We walked the streets of Nuremberg, took some time in the park, ate traditional schnitzel and chilled.

IMG_9681

Stop 2: Lake Bled, Slovenia – Wow, all we can say is this place is magical. The town itself is small and most of the action is down by the lake. It’s about 4 miles around the lake, and everyone can enjoy walking, biking or eating around it, or, you can also take a boat trip to an island in the middle, complete with a beautiful church and ice cream stand. About 2km outside of town, you can hike, bike or take a tour van up to the Gorge – a scenic hiking area with a waterfall and streaming river. Crazy as it sounds, we decided to be the adventurous ones and rented bikes to go up. Although it was uphill, it wasn’t too bad – even with my pregnant belly! The trip was rounded out by a trip to Bled Castle, overlooking the lake – so wonderful!

IMG_9897

IMG_9905

IMG_9879

IMG_9884

Boat ride to the Island

IMG_9844

Time for a Swim!

IMG_9858

Bike ride to the Gorge! Uphill there and downhill back

IMG_9760

IMG_9779

IMG_9960

Castle views

IMG_9978

Stop 3: Ljubljana, Slovenia – This place is a hipster’s paradise. As it’s a university town, there is plenty to do, a young vibe and great restaurants that have popped up in recent years. We only had a day but enjoyed strolling along the river, checking out the local pubs and playing in the fountains.

IMG_0121

IMG_0058

IMG_0034

Stop In between – Europe’s largest cave !!

Once in a blue moon, you realize there are sometimes benefits to kids not sleeping in. One of which is that we got to the Potojana caves bright and early before the disney-land sized crowds poured in later in the day. It was actually a rainy day so it was a perfect day to spend underground. Unfortunately I wasn’t very smart and didn’t pack anything other than the summer clothes we are wearing – well, turns out it’s next to freezing in the caves. But, they’ve got overpriced fleeces for sale that solved our worries. The tour of the caves included a long train ride in and an hour long walk among the stalactites and stalagmites. Coen was a trooper and we when we emerged back to earth, we realized just how crazy busy this place is, and quickly escaped the crowds back to our car for the trip to Trieste.

IMG_0091

Our filmographer

IMG_0100

A seriously old ancient cave wall

Stop 4: Trieste, Italy – the wonderful thing about Italy – it NEVER gets old and every city has it’s own charm and character. Our favorite things in Trieste – sipping coffees in the historic cafes (Trieste is known for coffee drinking and production) and spending the morning at a local “beach” (all rocks) where we could play by the water and Coen made friends with the local Italian day-care kids who were there on a field trip. We also took the cable car up to the top of the city, where you could overlook the water and Coen got to practice his exercises with the locals. Finally, we couldn’t leave without visiting the local castle (who doesn’t love a good castle)?

IMG_4862

Rocky Beach Day

IMG_4864

IMG_4867

IMG_0263

IMG_0302

Up up we go

IMG_0288

Time for a stretch

Stop 5: Rovinj, Croatia – Um, just when we thought this trip couldn’t get any better, we landed in Rovinj. This place is AMAZING. We really felt like we were on holiday here, we would wake up early and take turns getting pastries with Coen, go swimming at the different watering holes, eat like locals (truffles!) and enjoy night walks along the harbor, often with a concert somewhere nearby.

IMG_4852

Sleeping child means a date right on the water!

IMG_4854

Not usually one for food photos – but, I didn’t ever want to forget this truffle ravioli strawberry wonder

IMG_4850

IMG_0526IMG_0523

IMG_0515

Morning walk through town

IMG_0504

Stop 6: Zagreb, Croatia- We wanted to check off another “big”city while on our trip, and felt we couldn’t miss the capital of Croatia while we were so close to it.. it was however, the longest drive of our trip as it is about 3 hours in-land from the coast. We spent just over a day exploring, and although it was a cool town, historically it doesn’t compete with the other capitals we have visited. Perhaps as it was coming to the end of our trip, it’s difficult to remember all that we did there. Here are a couple of pics to prove we stopped in the city:

IMG_0579IMG_0559

Stop 7: Salzburg, Austria – the HILLS are ALIVE….. So, the main reason we stopped in Salzburg was due to my forever love of the Sound of Music. I had dreams of a day long tour with the Von-Trapp family. Alas, it turns out you need 8+ hrs for the tour and I didn’t think a 2 year old would fair to well on a bus all day. So, I settled for the gorgeous views (we stayed outside of the city in a cabin-like hotel in the hills), a visit to 1 or 2 sites, and, probably driving Karl crazy listening to the Sound of Music soundtrack over and over.

IMG_0611

IMG_0613

“I go to the hills….”

IMG_0652

A visit to the Mirabell Gardens

IMG_0656

Do a Deer, a Female Deer

And finally, back home! It was a memorable and unique trip that will stay in our hearts for years to come. We are extremely thankful to all of the European rest stops that include child playgrounds, they are what made this trip possible!

IMG_4859

 

 

Gorgeous Geneva

Ok, so the creativity required for the title of this post was pretty minimal, but, once you see the photos you’ll see there wasn’t really another option.

We were extremely lucky on our 4 day weekend in Geneva last May – the spring weather was in full force and in typical European fashion the Swiss were even sun bathing and swimming in the freezing lake (I mean, it was nice, but mayybeeee 65 degrees F, not really warm enough for swimming in my opinion, but fun to see nonetheless).

We didn’t really know what to expect in Geneva, but it turned out to be a really busy holiday with a TON to do. We went on a tour of the UN, visited the Red Cross Museum (de la Croix Rouge), adventured to the Olympic Museum in Lausanne (a gorgeous town on the lake) – all this with some time for walks around the lake and picnics in the park left us very happy with our weekend getaway.

We also ate some delicious fondue and there was a marathon that weekend with tons of activities for kids – so, we weren’t short of stuff to do.   Most European cities we visit have a ton to keep you busy in terms of museums, culture, history, etc. but what we liked about Geneva is that everything we visited was connected to areas we are interested in – UN – world events, Red Cross – WWII , and of course – The Olympic Museum – Sports!

And yes, it WAS expensive, but once you got over that it wasn’t all so bad, plus some grocery store picnic food helped to lessen the blow. Our conclusion – go to this gorgeous place!

IMG_7435

Hello Gorgeous

Trip to the United Nations:

Trip to Lausanne (about 1hr by train from Geneva – Karl was panicked for about 15 minutes that I had put us on a train to Lucerene – 3hrs from Geneva, haha) :

IMG_7507

IMG_7608

Highlights from the Museum

IMG_4366

Wow

IMG_4365

Seriously….

IMG_7478

IMG_7492IMG_7493

Enjoying the City:

IMG_7447

Park Life = Best Life

IMG_7452

IMG_7424IMG_7623IMG_7596

IMG_7600

IMG_4413

Boat ride across the lake

IMG_4408

 

 

 

YYZ aka The 6

Yikes. I am almost an entire year behind on blogging. Clearly not a money maker for us :-), but certainly something I am determined to keep up. I can’t wait to look back on our travels when we are old and grey. So, it’s time to do some catching up. Since our last travels in March to Madrid, we had Easter weekend upon us. Easter is always a memorable time for us, as it’s such a long weekend (we get the Friday and Monday off work), we always manage to make the most of it and get out of town. This time, we extended it to a week and decided to head back to North America.

Since we’ve been in Amsterdam, Toronto has been renamed The 6 and has produced some of the hottest artists around and it’s been fun for us to see how Toronto is getting more and more attention (Drake, The Wknd – I mean cmon! – and those crazy Jays Playoff games!).  We didn’t go back for the rap music or baseball, but rather to see family and friends – we hadn’t been in far too long, 4 years!, and Coen needed to experience where his dad is from!

Despite being freezing the entire week (I know, I know – get over it), the week was otherwise amazing – as we got to spend time with all of our loved ones, family and friends alike. We visited Niagara on the Lake, where Karl’s parents now live, Coen got meet his new cousins Jack and Max, and hunt easter eggs with all of his new TO toddler friends.

We explored Toronto – kind of like locals, but also a bit like tourists too, hitting up one of the highest rated thai places on Trip Adviser that did not disappoint, going to St. Lawrence Market (being almost Europeans we will never pass up a solid market) and to the Toronto Aquarium.  We also went to one of THE BEST sports bars‘ I’ve ever been to (hello 40 foot TV! better than Vegas in my opinion) and got to watch some NCAA march madness games before heading to my first Maple Leaf game.

img_6900

World Traveler – Has everything he needs right here

img_6955

Uni buddies reunited

img_6952

The gangs all here

img_6960

Stopping for a chocolate egg

Day out at the Toronto Aquarium:

img_7054

 

img_6985

Beautiful, crisp day at the Lake

Coen with all of his new friends:

img_7093

img_7086

Real Sports – Seriously impressive 

img_7088

It’s hockey night, tonight!

img_6989

I think we’ve got a Blue Jays fan for life 

March in Madrid

It was finally time to get away for another travel adventure. Madrid was a city on our wish list, and my birthday month was a perfect time to make it happen. We also knew it would be a bit sunnier down south, so away we went!

Madrid, Spain’s capital, is big (3 mil people to Barca’s 1 1/2) also, it has a ton of history and is known for its’ art scene, so, we knew there wouldn’t be a shortage of things to do to keep us busy (plus of course – food in Spain is always top of the list of things to do while there).

With no real agenda for the weekend, we did as we always do, enjoyed and explored the city and did A LOT of walking (our 36 hour bible says “Once again, Mardid has become a city for walkers”). We did a walking tour on Saturday to get our bearings (unfortunately losing Coen’s favorite stuffed animal along the way – tragic! – luckily we found one online later!) and after that, really just continued on throughout the weekend, exploring what we could in the short time we were there.

Highlights of the weekend were: the Sunshine!, the parks! – we literally didn’t walk for more than 10 minutes without stumbling upon a kids park where Coen could hop out of the stroller and go down a slide. Usually, these parks were surrounded by cafes and bars, so the parents could enjoy a beverage and their kids could happily play – genius really. Hitting up Mercado San Miguel – the local food market for some Pinxtos and finally, although we aren’t the biggest fans of art museums, and exploring them with a toddler is nearly impossible – we felt we couldn’t leave one of the best art cities in the world without visiting the Prado, Spain’s most famous museum and home to many famous artworks that of course we  already forget the names of.

Here are some pics of our weekend getaway:

img_6723

Friday Afternoon in the Square – This family loves vacation!

img_6765

Stop at Park One of Many – So smart

img_6758

At the Market – Calamari Option Overload

img_6757

Hello!

img_6750

Abandoning the walking tour to say hola

 

 

 

 

London Calling (Again)

After returning home from the Canary Islands – we had one more trip on the books to round out the Christmas season.

We were off to London for a few nights to see Dave, experience a Boxing day retail experience, and our absolute favorite thing to do in London – see a SHOW!

We arrived on the 26th and after a bit of a debacle getting into the city (the normal commuter train from the airport was under construction – unbeknownst to us, this meant a normal 45 min commute was estimated at 3 hours!!).

Once we were finally in, we took a nice walk – but something felt off, the city was super quiet (not normal for London).  We figured people were still out of town with their families – but, as we got closer to Oxford Street, things became a bit more buzzing – turns out everyone was of course, shopping on boxing day. We popped in to all of the hot spots, but didn’t do much shopping, getting through the streets with a stroller and the thousands of people meant we only lasted a short while. It was fun to get a little Christmas cheer in (even if it was a day late).

IMG_5873

 

WICKED EVENING
IMG_5884

After securing a nanny to come to the hotel (I won’t even mention the price we paid – but let’s just say it was basically enough to pay for Mary Poppins herself) – Karl and I were off on a much needed date night. We had a delicious Italian meal and to both of our enjoyment, WICKED was an AMAZING show (I had tried to read the book a really long time ago, so was a bit hesitant about the show – but with all of the hype, I figured it had to be good). And of course, it didn’t disappoint, the music, the story-line, everything was amazing.

IMG_5878

The Land of OZ

SUNDAY – A NEW LONDON SCENE

IMG_5935

Our travel bible (e.g. 36 Hours) has not 1, not 2, …. 4 different 36 hour itineraries for London. This time, we wanted to take advantage and see a new side of the city. So we set our plans for East London – primarily the infamous Brick Lane and the Sunday market scene. It didn’t disappoint, from the food stalls to the vintage, craft and flow markets, to our final stop at a pub in the ‘hood for a cider beer – all while getting to hang with Dave, it was easy to see why the East side is all the rage with the hipsters these days. 3rd times a charm for our trip to Londontown. (see our previous adventures here and here)

IMG_5889

On our way to the tube

IMG_5893

IMG_5936

IMG_5898

IMG_5905

IMG_5903

IMG_5897

 

 

 

 

A Christmas (Vlog) Story

A sunny Christmas… sure, it seems unnatural, but we’ve come to love and realize we really need it for a break in the sun to get us through the long dark winters of Amdam. 2013 brought Thailand, 2014 was Florida… this year, we wanted to stay a little bit closer. Only challenge with that, there aren’t so many places on the continent of Europe that are actually warm in the winter time. Except for – the Canary Islands! (Spanish islands off the coast of Africa). The weather can be a bit hit or miss, but we were more than lucky, it was pretty hot and perfect pool weather. We chose Gran Canaria over the somewhat more well known Tenerife, mainly because it was further south so we figured the chance of guaranteed sunshine was a bit higher.

We had an amazing week+; mainly relaxing and enjoying the sun, checking out the local water park, playing a bit of mini golf, taking a boat ride to explore other parts of the island,  and Karl’s fave: making movies with his new GoPro.

Check out our “VLOG” (aka movie preview) as well as some pics below.

IMG_5608

 

IMG_3974

Loungin

IMG_5696

IMG_5705

IMG_3976

IMG_5688

IMG_5734

IMG_5681

IMG_5614

IMG_5776

IMG_6194

IMG_5618

IMG_5653

IMG_6914

IMG_5765

IMG_3975

Munich

We had been to Munich before… but let’s be honest, when it’s Oktoberfest, you’re not really in Munich, you’re in the beer tents dressed in Lederhosen all day and all night. We were excited to get back to really experience the city, and as an added bonus, we have great friends in Nuremberg (a bit of a drive, but close enough for a quick visit) and friends actually from Munich – our old friend Sebastian and his wife Sina from our MBA days. So, on a random weekend in November, we booked our flights and headed down.

We arrived on Friday afternoon and took a walk through the city center, and what did we immediately find? A beer garden! – well, not really, but a nice place outside with lots of picnic tables and beer being served, it seemed like most of the city had called it a day and were relaxing with a cold one in hand. One thing we love about Europe is that Europeans do not take for granted good weather – even if it’s cold, if it’s dry – they are outside. Our friend Sebastian came to join us for a beer, and afterward, we took a stroll through the cute market nearby, picking up some traditional cheese and snacks for our apartment.

On Saturday, our old friends from our Amsterdamily; Jesse and Michelle (from Nuremberg) were nice enough to come down for the day to hang out. We met them for brunch, met up with Sebastian, Sina and their little gal Lara, and had a great day walking about, checking out the SURFERS (?!) in the middle of the city, popping into pubs here and there, and enjoying watching Coen play in the fall leaves.

On Sunday we had some time to spare, so took a short train ride to Sebastian and Sina’s house – where they served a very traditional and delicious German “brunch”- basically bread and sausage – so good!

It was a great weekend exploring a magnificent city.

DCIM100GOPRO

Coen enjoying the Beer Garden

IMG_3807

Back with our Amsterdamily – drinking our favorite gluhwein!

IMG_3806

Coen on the autoban

IMG_5467

Such joy going at full speed

DCIM100GOPRO

I was serious when I said Surfers – what a site to see in the middle of November!

DCIM100GOPRO

Ignore the Crane, otherwise a beautiful historic square 

DCIM100GOPRO

Just your average beer pub

IMG_3810

Old friends 

IMG_3809

New friends

 

And a little vid to make you smile:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hawaii Beckons

My dad’s wedding in September was a perfect reason for us to pack up our bags and make our biggest trip yet with Coen… a 10 hour flight back to Portland + a 5 hour flight a few days later to beautiful Kauai, PLUS another 2 hour flight to San Fran for Coen and I.

We were excited to have a reason to get back to the Best Coast, we hadn’t been in a couple of years and were missing family and friends. The 2 weeks were jam packed full of travels, PDX pints, social gatherings, Duck game viewing and the best part: real quality time with uncle CJ and Aunt Kelsey and Uncle Jacob for Coen.

Portland: We only spent two quick nights in Portland. One of which poor Coen was screaming his head off from about 4am onward. Karl popped him in the stroller and took him for a walk in the middle of the night, and thankfully that helped. Yeah dude – we know, jet lag sucks! Coen got to meet one of my oldest and dearest friends (Meagan) and I think we stayed up for about 1 quarter of the duck game but were too tired to watch the rest. Coen also got to meet his great great Grandpa Kern! How cool is that? The two most recent members of our Amsterdamily to move away, Britt and Ian, and their son Kees, had moved back to PDX just a few weeks prior to our trip, and were kind enough to let us crash at their place……. it was so fun to have Coen and Kees together again!

Kauai: Despite some frustrating travel delays, we had an AMAZING time in Kauai. Of course, it was just too short. We really only had 4 1/2 days when it was all said and done. Thankfully the rainy island only got us 1 of the days, the rest was perfectly sunny and warm. We ate absolutely delicious food (POI – YUM), enjoyed the pool, Karl went golfing with my dad and CJ, we hit up a Luau, went on a gorgeous hike and swam/snorkeled on the beach, and caught some once- in- a- lifetime sunsets.

Portland:We were back in PDX for just the weekend, and had a big reunion day with all of our Oregon friends and their little ones.It was crazy to see how the families had grown over the last 4 years.

San Fran: Coen and I were off to San Fran for a couple of days! I couldn’t miss out on seeing 2 of my closest friends and their growing families. So, we hopped on another plane and headed down (Karl had to stay back and work). We got to spend quality time with The Halperin fam (Kenzie, Jory, Ayda, Lou & Ian) and also meet Miss Avery (the new addition of the Burt family).

Portland: Only a couple of days left. This time, Sydney and her new little guy Wes were nice enough to drive down from Seattle for a quick catch up, unfortunately we didn’t get a pic… but we had the best time catching up.

It was an amazing trip and we are very thankful we got to see nearly all of our west coast friends and family (a special thanks to those who made a long drive to see us!)

IMG_3483

Coen’s a NW boy – Loving the splashes at Jamison Square

IMG_3485

First of many meet & greets… this time with Meagan!

IMG_3519

Fun in the Sand with Ayda & Lou in SF

IMG_3520

The San Fran Clan

IMG_3497

Avery & Coen together! 

IMG_4221

All of the new additions to our MBA Class! 

IMG_4222

Coen meets his Great Grandpa Keith & Jayne!

IMG_3504

Back with our Buds & Brews (not pictured)

P1030325

The happy couple! What a beautiful scene!

P1030350

Wedding Time! 

P1030402

P1030373

Impressive skills at the Luau

P1030428

Hiking on the North Shore

P1030432

View from the Top 

P1030415

P1030462

Norway in a Nutshell

I wish I could say we were clever enough to come up with that name, but nope….. Norway in a Nutshell has been on our “must do” list for quite some time now, after (wait for it….) seeing it advertised in a airline magazine (we are such suckers). Of course we’ve had friends who had been, and raved about the beauty (and warned us about the prices); so, with Brenda and Earl in Europe for the summer, we took the opportunity to convince them that NORWAY was the perfect idea for a weeks’ vacation… complete with planes, trains and… boats!

This was the first time we have done a vacation package, and we didn’t regret it.  We showed up, had our itinerary given to us, and only had to pick up some train tickets along the way. Here are some snippets from our fancy detailed agenda, how could we not be excited after receiving this upon arrival?!

Capture

Capture2

Capture3

Capture4

Capture5

Capture6

We had honestly one of our top travel experiences thus far on this trip. We spent A LOT of time traveling, moving from trains to bus to ferry, but every time we were on the move, it was enjoyable due to the gorgeous scenery, and thankfully the trains were comfortable and even had a family play room on board. We ate great food (the Bergen fish market puts Pike Place to shame), drank good beer, experienced Coen needs- a- beanie cold weather and Coen’s swimming in the North Sea weather all in one week, traveled down a terrifyingly steep & curvy road by bus, and overall, had a great week as a big fam.

Check out all the action below in our first “VLOG” (okay, it’s not really a VLOG – at least I don’t think, I’m not quite sure what a VLOG is…but KK put our pictures to music, and it’s awesome).

Post Navigation