Europe Trip Travelogue

I was waiting for Reuben to write this post, but since he doesn’t seem to be in too big of a hurry to get to it, I thought I’d give it a shot. This is just going to be a basic travelogue of what we did with a few pictures. If you are just interested in all the pictures we’ll try to have them in Picasa in the next couple days, so stay tuned and we’ll let you know when they’re ready for your viewing pleasure. In the mean time….

Part 1: Copenhagen, Denmark

We spent our first week of vacation in Copenhagen. We stayed in the same place all week and explored the city as well as did some day trips.

The first thing we noticed about the city was all the bikes! You can guess how much Reuben LOVED this.

We explored the city on the free Copenhagen City BikesHere’s the famous Little Mermaid statue. Its actually pretty small, but its in this very cool park.

We decided to go to church on Sunday, more for the cultural experience than anything else. Turns out most investigators there don’t speak Danish, so we got to listen to an English translation. The building is the coolest LDS chapel we’ve ever seen. Its right across from the temple. This is the chapel:

One of the other cool things about going to church was that we met some senior missionaries who offered to let us use their passes for Tivoli, an amusement park in the city. We still had to pay for the rides, but at least our admission was covered. Thanks Elder and Sister Karen!

We took a train to the town of Hillerod and saw our favorite castle, Fredericksborg. In front of the castle were some very impressive Baroque gardens- you’ll want to see the pictures of those when we get them posted. Then we took the train to town of Helsingor and saw the Kronborg castle. This is me in the dungeon. If you look closely you can see some an actual prisoner in the background. After a little hiccup with our train tickets, we made our way to Malmo, Sweden. I was excited to see Malmo because its featured on the Trans-Europo train game we like to play. Malmo has a rather disappointing “castle” and this cool building, as well as a neat old town square and a great place for ice cream!Back in the city of Copenhagen is the Rosenborg Castle- home of the crown jewels. Outside the Rosenborg we found one of our favorite places in the city- The Kings Gardens. The lawns were just covered with people- young and old- out enjoying the sun, beer, and friends. You might think it would be pretty rowdy, but it was actually a really mellow, fun atmosphere.We didn’t find too many exciting things to eat, but I must share this amazing treat that we found in bakery down the street from our hotel. We called them salty chocolate balls. They are fabulous!
Part II: The Netherlands
We flew from Copenhagen to Amsterdam and were happy to see bikes are nearly as popular there as they are in Copenhagen. Check out this “parking ramp”:
We spent an evening exploring the city center of Amsterdam, which is quite amazing. The next morning we picked up our rental bikes and hit the road. We travelled pretty lightly and all our stuff was in the packs on the back bike racks. For the most part we were on separated bike trails. Our first day we took the scenic route from Amsterdam to Haarlem.
Here’s Reuben in pedestrian area of Haarlem. There is a pretty rad church and town square behind him, but my photo skills didn’t happen to capture the radness of it all. Use your imaginations please. The next morning we were off to finally find the tulip fields. Of course when we found them it was raining and I was too cold to get off my bike, but I was still happy to see them.We went to the Keukenhof Gardens where I took a ton of pictures like this:That place is incredible. They have every type of tulip you can imagine. They also have this neat windmill-
After we left Keukenhof, the sun came out and we found more tulip fields!And more windmills! (Sidenote– in case you were wondering, the reason they have so many windmills is because it is WINDY in Holland!)That night we stayed in the cool town of Leiden. I loved all the canals and bridges that ran through the town!The next morning we rode our bikes to the coast/beach. It was pretty chilly so there weren’t too many folks around. We could imagine how popular this place must be in the middle of summer though. Then we took a national bike route down the coast through some amazing terrain. It was a combination of sand dunes/dessert/forest. A very cool place to bike ride. My bike had gears, but Reubens didn’t. For the most part the country was flat enough this wasn’t a problem, but I think this day Reuben was wishing he had some gears.
After a quick stop in The Hague, we made our way to Delft. Here’s a shot of their city center square. Quite impressive. I made Reuben go on a tour of The Royal Delft Pottery factory. It was pretty sweet. Someday we might actually buy some real Royal Delft, but this trip we were happy to settle for some knock-off souvenirs. The next morning we rode our bikes to the town of Gouda. I can’t believe I don’t have any pictures of Reuben with his cheese, but believe me- we ate lots of it. In fact we had some of it for dinner tonight! I loved this town. I was especially impressed with the chuch here. It was once a Catholic church, but is now Protestant. It has these amazing stain glass windows. Words and pictures can’t describe how impressive it all was, but I was blown away by it. We got there on the town’s independence day so there was some sort of celebration going on in front of the city hall building:
More canals ran through Gouda as well. It was almost like all the houses had their own moats. Very cool!
The next day we headed back to Amsterdam. Reuben was the official map master, and he spent a lot of time looking like this: Here I am, happily showing that we did indeed, make it back to Amsterdam.
So thats about it. We spent a couple more days soaking in the Amsterdam atmosphere and then started our trip back home. It was an awesome trip and we both feel so blessed that we had this opportunity to do this together. Like I mentioned above, we have tons more pictures to give you a better idea of all the scenery we saw, but we’ll have to let you know when we’re ready to share them- so stay tuned…..

11 comments to Europe Trip Travelogue

  • Lani

    That looks awesome! What a fun trip!

  • ooh good post, Mel.

  • Awesome!!! I can't wait to see more pictures and hear all about it at pie party.

  • Wow, what an amazing adventure! How long did it take you to plan this trip? Did you research all of the places you wanted to go ahead of time? Did you plan out where you wanted to go, or decide when you arrived? It looks like you had a wonderful navigator and went on great bike tours! This inspires me to travel there myself.

    P.S. Sorry to ask 20 questions, but did you have a hard time without knowing the language? Did most people speak English? I've never been to that part of Europe before, but would like to go!

  • Tara

    Very cool! I have been waiting all week to see pictures & hear how it went, thanks for posting! It looks like so much fun!

  • Sarah-
    We've been talking about this trip for a couple years, but the official planning started last fall. Most of the research for the bike portion of the trip came from finding companies who actually take people on guided tours of the area. I looked at all their different agendas and then sort of decided on the things that looked most interesting to me. So I had a basic route mapped out with the towns I wanted to see and then when we got to Amsterdam we bought some more detailed maps and each day sort of mapped out our route for that day. We were really flexible about choosing what we wanted to do each day. A basic internet search helped me to find our bike rental place and I set that all up ahead of time over email.
    We thought we would be able to roll into a town and find a bed and breakfast or hostel or cheap motel, but after we struck out in the first town and ended up paying more than we wanted for a hotel that was nicer than we needed we decided to book rooms a night in advance after that (every place we stayed had some option for internet use).
    In Copenhagen we didn't have any planned agenda. I brought a guide book with us and spoke with a guy at work who had some useful ideas, but that was it. It was all sort of explore as you go.
    The language was never a problem for us. Everyone spoke English, some better than others, but in every restaurant and touristy place there was never an issue. The only minor issue we had was trying to buy tickets from automated machines. I guess its slightly more expensive if you purchase them at the desk from a real person, but we couldn't always figure out the machines so sometimes we just did that to save ourselves a headache.
    You should definitely put this on your list of things to do someday- I'm sure you would love it!

  • Wow, it sounds like a great trip!

  • Awesome! I love the Copenhagen city bikes, the salty chocolate balls (at least they LOOK good), and the tulips!

  • The Cowles Family

    It looks like you guys had so much fun. Your pictures are really awesome!

  • Nicole

    Sorry, I'm a little late getting caught up but your trip looks amazing! You got great pictures as well. I loved the bike parking ramp.

  • You people have the funnest lives ever.