Sibling Trip 2018: Paris & Amsterdam

For 10 days in mid-July, I was vacationing with my younger brother in Paris and Amsterdam. I received comments and DM's asking questions about where we went, recommendations, and a bit of a story time (y'all loved my brother's cameos in my Instastories). In this blog post, I'm doing just that!

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Backstory

My brother is a newly graduated and commissioned Marine Corps Officer, which means he had a few months this summer of well-deserved freedom before starting more years of training in August. I have literally been working nonstop with no vacations for the past 2.5 years (hello growing business life). To say we were both just needing a BREAK is an understatement. Evan and I have always been close and traveling is number one in our shared interests, so doing a sibling vacation was a no-brainer and the timing finally worked out.

We chose Europe because Ev had never been and he was eager to see why my mom and I always flippantly claim "we belong in Europe." Paris and Amsterdam it was. Also, we hit the jackpot on flights. $800 for direct roundtrip, multi-city flights from DC to Paris and Amsterdam to DC on United. Thank you, Student Universe and its failure to check if I'm actually still a student (I'm not).

The Trip

Favorite things about our time in Paris:

  • Le Marais - the neighborhood of our cute HomeAway apartment. Known as being the hip, young area, it was full of boutiques, great food, and museums. Such a cool vibe and it was walking distance of some main attractions like Notre Dame!
  • L'as Du Falafel (conveniently located in Le Marais) - known amongst the Parisians to be the best falafel in the city. Indeed it was.
  • Sandeman's walking tour - take the tour with Hugo!
  • Le Perchoir Marais - very cool, rooftop cocktail bar with views of the sparkling Eiffel Tower at night. I recommend getting two drinks at a time because the bar can be slow! We had the best time mingling with folks and people-watching. Also, the DJ was GREAT.
  • Les Nautes - don't go here for food or chicness. Go here when it's sunny, with some low-maintenance friends, and you're in the mood to put back some wine along the Seine. No frills and it was absolutely perfect.
  • Of course, we hit all the tourist spots (Les Invalides, Notre Dame, the Champs-Élysées, etc.), but honestly the most special moments in Paris were unplanned or when we were doing nothing at all.
  • I'm intermediately (closer to beginner) conversational in both French and Spanish, so it felt amazing to finally put my French to use. I got by pretty darn well and I'd say my accent got slightly better towards the end!

Favorite things about our time in Amsterdam:

  • Stunning Airbnb - in a great area that wasn't too far outside the city center, spacious, and just too pretty for words.
  • Sandeman's walking AND countryside biking tour (the only tour we took that had a small cost of 20 euros) - take them both with Rocco!
  • Vondelpark - lush, sunny, and lively place to take a break from the city.
  • Eating STROOPWAFELS.
  • Cora Delicatessen & Broodjes - the cutest, TASTIEST little sandwich shop along a canal. I highly recommend the prosciutto, roasted kale, goat cheese, and tomato on a roll!
  • The people. Dutch people are so open, talkative, happy, and fun-loving! I'm only saying this because that's what countless Dutch Uber drivers told us and 100% what we experienced throughout our visit!
  • Unlike France, neither my brother or I could understand a lick of Dutch (now I can proudly say "hello," "please" and "thank you!"), so this was truly the first time I was in an environment I couldn't tell my left from right. The unfamiliarity was exciting!

Reflections

I'm endlessly grateful I was able to experience such a fun trip with my bro. It was incredibly rejuvenating, and I needed it. I'm guilty of tirelessly working and not giving myself more than one day at a time to rest, but this was like finally coming up for air and reminding myself why I work so hard. Work hard, play harder!

If you have additional questions about our trip, do let me know down below! Also, I've saved many Instagram Highlights from both Paris and Amsterdam. Enjoy & happy travels, friends.