When my daughter made plans for the bank holiday weekend to spend it with one of her besties, it was the ultimate chance for me to dance the night away on a 3 day music festival. And so this story begins….
What better than combining a festival with a citytrip to an idyllic German town to meet up your storybook fantasies. Aachen was an easy pick, just across the Dutch border and public transport available to go and come back from the Pinkpop festival. That last part turned out not to be entirely true. We managed to see al lot of county Limburg due to all the miscommunication between the international bus services.
Besides the bus service failure to Aachen from Pinkpop, the train service during daytime to Aachen is easy and highly affordable. A perfect weekend getaway if you do want to go abroad but not wish to spend time travelling there.
Medieval cobbled streets, boutique arcades, clocks and folk figures that have frolicked prettily in the fountains since the 16th century: A faraway fairytale setting where Disney must have used the background charm for many films. You will fall in love with all of the little details of this city.
Just start wandering the streets of Aachen to explore all the beautiful buildings and architecture before going back to future. Do not forget to stop at one of the many pubs to drink a beer and eat bratwurst or Schnitzel. Germany is going green so every typical German dish has a veggie version. You just cannot live a full life on an empty stomach.
When your friends have tickets to the Spice girls reunion tour and ask you if want to join them your first response is YES. Despite the fact that you need to travel to Manchester for it.
The concert was wet and rainy but an amazing atmosphere. Do you ever listen to a song and remember exactly what life was like when you first heard it? That is the exact nostalgic feeling we had when we sang along with these songs from our childhood memories.
The day after the concert we took a train straight into Liverpool to visit the roots of the other famous band from the UK. Liverpool and Manchester are only a 30 minute train ride apart. So once you visit one, do not forget about the other.
We booked a magical mystery bus tour to guide us to the famous sites the Beatles ever touched or sang about. Our guide and driver are the biggest fans and educated us thoroughly. Did you know that Strawberry field used to be a Salvation Army children’s home next to John Lennon’s childhood home which he used to visit in secret as a little boy?
A complete new perspective on a song.
The tour dropped us off at the famous Cavern Club where their story began. We had a couple drinks, (veggie) hamburgers and sang along with the music. It is what we do best. And nothing to get hung about.
Back in Manchester we enjoyed the best and most creative cocktails ever made at the Washhouse. A top secret spot disguised as a washhouse where reservations are a must. Ring the phone and they might let you enter the club.
Traditions have a very special way of keeping favourite memories forever in our hearts. Our Christmas tradition is leaving right after Saint Stephen’s day for Disneyland. Disneyland is the most magical place on earth and gets even more magical during the Christmas holidays. There is no better period to visit and you can easily combine it with Paris.
The best way to travel to Disneyland is by train. We just love travelling by train, it is convenient, easygoing and environmental friendly. There is a train service from Amsterdam straight into the Disneyland station Marne de la Vallee. Train tickets can be booked 3 months prior to departure and for a return ticket you will pay 70 euros. Children will pay 30 euros for a return ticket.
Hotels in Disneyland are expensive and that is exactly why we book our hotel just outside the park. Hotels in the area have shuttle buses bringing you back and forth within 10 minutes and free of charge to the Disneyland park and hotels.
Going out for dinner in one of the Disneyland restaurants is a must! Bear in mind that prices on these menus are magical as well. To save up we pick one restaurant we need to have dinner at and make reservations prior to our arrival. On our last visit we had dinner at Chez Remy, this restaurant comes straight out of a Ratatouille movie scene and makes you believe you are the size of a mouse.
Other restaurants that are lovely to visit are Captain Jack’s pirates restaurant where you travel through time to the 18th century to some Bounty island surrounded by pirates and scum.
Trust me, it’s a lot better than it sounds.
When you are travelling with little princesses you cannot leave Disneyland without having dinner at L’Auberge de Cendrillon. The Disney princesses will come alive to talk to you and even dance the night away with their prince charmings while you are enjoying your dinner.
If you want to keep your Disneyland trip on a budget I would suggest you have dinner at a Disneyland restaurant once on your trip. There are many other good options just outside the park like the Rainforest cafe or good old Vapiano.
We just cannot leave Disneyland without a short stopover in Paris to enjoy the best pastries in town. We have tried many patisseries but Laduree keeps on being one of our favourites. Especially the eclairs are lovely.
Where to next? Slowly we are collecting passport stamps of the 500 best places to visit on this planet. One day we will be closing this book and have written our own stories. I have always been wondering where this urge to explore the world comes from. So I had our DNA tested on my Heritage to find out more about our ancestors.
Before the results came in, I decided that our next trip will be taken to where my ancestors came from. The exciting moment soon vanished when my results came in. No far away mystical land, just very local Northern European (47% Scandinavian, 37% Northern European and 16% British). So the furthest I could take my next trip was Iceland and I dragged my friend Laura along.
As soon as we arrived on Icelandic ground, that was after I accidentally missed the exit and walked straight through customs into boarding a plane to the US where I luckily found a nice officer to take me back to the “Welcome to Iceland” area, we picked up our rental car to explore the arctic circle.
As the Eiffel tower to Paris is, so the Blue Lagoon is to Iceland. With all the positive and negative connotations implied. It is said to be too commercial and too crowded but you will be missing something if you do not go. When we arrived the wind was so strong it almost blew us out of the car. Luckily we could hold on to the doors.
Following the golden circle we started to track the most amazing cascades in the world. Starting from Haifoss, Seljalandsfoss, Skogafoss to the most famous of them all, Gullfoss.
We stayed in a cute little cabin in the woods before continuing our journey to Jokulsarlon. The glorious luminous blue icebergs drifting through the Jokulsarlon lagoon before floating out to sea.
On our next stop we visited diamond beach. A surreal scene with black sand and diamond shaped ice cubes on the shore. As we wandered the lakeshore it started raining and storming insanely. Soaked to the bone we located our car and drove off with the heaters on defrosting mode.
The next day our journey continued to Skaftafell national park. A breath taking collection of peaks and glaciers.
After visiting the glaciers we went on a hiking trip to the Svartifoss waterfall. The star of a hunderd postcards. This waterfall with the black basalt columns is easy to find when you follow the 2km trail.
On our return to Reykjavik we stopped at the world’s largest spouting hot springs. Every five minutes there is an eruption of steaming hot water in the air. A rare phenomena which we definitely could not miss on our journey. There is a video of the eruption on my Insta travel blog.
Our hotel was located on the perfect spot to see the northern lights. Unfortunately on the days we visited Iceland it was cloudy and the sky was not clear enough to see the northern lights. Which means we just need to visit Iceland again and hopefully luck will be on our side.