Amsterdam: day 1.

There's a chance I could fit a majority of our trip into one post, but to save you a little, I've decided to break it up. So here we go!

A few months ago, Brandon and I decided that we needed to go on a vacation. We had just been to Disneyland, but we wanted to go somewhere new over my spring break, and for some reason, Amsterdam stuck out in my head as the place to go. Fast forward a little while, and we were on our way!

The Thursday before we left, we got a text that our flight had been delayed, and then Friday morning, Brandon got an email that one of our hotels had closed, and would not be refunding us due their cancellation policy. Shout out to Citi Card for disputing the charge and refunding us anyway! I thought for sure that these were signs of how the whole trip was going to be, but besides those two things, it actually went off without a hitch. Anyway! After a l o n g plane ride, we got to Amsterdam at about 11:00 am. We dropped our luggage off at the hotel, then headed to the Jordaan (pronounced Yordaan) area to see the canals and find some lunch! You guys, I could not get enough of the canals. Every time we walked over one, I stopped to take a picture. I realized after about five pictures that they all basically looked the same. But I still don't care!! They are so pretty!!

After lunch, we headed back to our hotel to take a short nap. Brandon and I woke up before James and Candis, so we wandered through Oosterpark for a bit. Everything was so green, and the trees were already in bloom!  Once we met up with the other two, we made our way to the Anne Frank House. We hadn't purchased tickets in advance, so we had to wait in a huge line. They told us is would be an hour and a half wait, and the house closed in about two hours, so we were really hopeful that the line would move quickly and we would make it in. And we did! I'm so glad we were able to tour the house, because it really put into perspective just how little we actually know about life during the Holocaust. Sure, we can read about it, and we can visit museums and watch movies, but being in the small space where the families were confined, walking on the creaky floor that they had to silently move over...I can't even begin to imagine what their lives must have been like. The house didn't have any furniture in it, and the whole time I just kept thinking, how could they fit a bed in here? How could these parents sleep in the kitchen when there's barely any room for a table? It's so crazy. And humbling.

We finished there at ten, then walked around to find food. Fun fact about Amsterdam: every restaurant not in tourist central closes their kitchen down way early. I don't remember exactly what time, but it was before we go to each of them.  We wandered the streets near the Anne Frank House, in and out of restaurants, then did the same with restaurants by our hotel, only to be disappointed that most places were only serving drinks. So on our very first night in the mystical, magical land of Amsterdam, we had McDonalds for dinner. But Big Mac is the same in every language, so really, maybe it could have been worse.


California: round 2.

Our Memorial Day weekend was spent the way most of our marriage has and will be spent: with Mickey. This was a nice follow-up vacation to our spring break (read post here), because last time we only did the actual Disneyland park. This time, we did California Adventure, and also went to Universal Studios!

Friday afternoon we hopped in the car with our friends Alyssa and Jake, and made the long drive to Vegas. It went quickly, actually, so it wasn't too bad! Saturday morning we were up at five, and on the road by six! We finally made it to the park around 10:30, and were so surprised that it wasn't even close to being hot outside. Thankfully, the sun came out a little later, which I was super happy about because 1: it had been pretty cool in Utah still until that weekend, and 2: I was able to enjoy my traditional Mickey ice cream bar! We got corn dogs, spent a ton of time in Cars Land, rode Toy Story Mania twice, and had bomb seats for World of Color that night. And we of course got to take pictures for our fun little gender reveal. My favorite part was actually giving the balloons away to these three little brothers that were hanging out in the same area as us. They were super excited about them!

That night we drove to our hotel in Burbank, which was a super great idea on our part, because we didn't feel like we had to rush to wake up the next morning in order to drive to the park. We slept in a little, then made the quick drive to Universal. Our first stop obviously was the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. We loved it so much in Florida that we had to go to the one in California asap.

First stop was to take pictures with the conductor of the Hogwarts Express. Guys, I don't know if he was actually British or not, but he had a full on conversation with us and I felt like I was in London. Everyone but me was wearing a shirt or robe that indicated their house, but the conductor guessed that I was a Hufflepuff, and said that you can just tell. Then he launched into this story about how the founder of Hogsmeade was a Hufflepuff, and how we wouldn't be there today if it weren't for him and I was seriously crying. I'm just waiting for J.K. Rowling to expose herself as the designated historian for the magic world because I'm pretty positive that everything she writes is true.

Anyway, we got butterbeer immediately after that (which, in itself is magic), and I was thrilled. You know the feeling you get, like when you try and remember something really awesome or really tasty, but you know that remembering just doesn't do it justice? That's how my relationship with butterbeer has been for the past eighteen months. But I'm also sure that my saying "UGH THIS IS SO GOOD" at a higher than normal volume was just an echo of what everyone around me was thinking, so no, I'm not even ashamed. We stood in line for The Forbidden Journey after that (an hour wait outside, plus more time inside) but were given the magical powers of the wizarding world once we got inside and a staff member told us to go to the front-of-the-line line and say "Expecto Patronum." Guys. We got to skip the rest of the line inside and go straight to the front. I'm pretty sure he overheard us talking about the benefits of staying in line to see the castle (mostly for the benefit of prego me, who couldn't actually ride the ride) versus jumping in the single rider line, but I don't even care what his motive was. It made our whole day.

After the ride, we were starving, so we headed to the Three Broomsticks (casually, you know, as we would do on any other day in Hogsmeade) for a delicious, English lunch. And more butterbeer. I made a goal to drink at least five butterbeers that day, and am super disappointed in myself that I only actually made it through two and a half. I started out with gusto, drank a whole one by myself, then the entire rest of the day, Brandon and I just shared. So we'll just have to go back! We wandered through the shops, rode Flight of the Hippogriff, wandered through more shops, and then finally decided to venture out and do other things. We did the studio tour, which I have always loved, because I like seeing the behind the scenes stuff. We got to the sound stages where they film The Mindy Project and The Voice, and a bunch of other cool things. Later, we watched the Water World stunt show that Brandon was obsessed with, then just kind of walked around before going back to Wizarding World a little later. 

We called it a night before the park closed so that we could get plenty of rest before the long drive home the next day. We did the entire ten hour drive in roughly eleven hours, including bathroom/food breaks and traffic, so it really wasn't terrible. It was a great weekend, even though it was too short! And shout out to Jake and Alyssa for being so easy to travel with! Definitely makes for a fun vacation. We already can't wait to go back!