“Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.” I am a firm believer in this quote. Traveling is such a rewarding experience; you get to learn so much about the world. This past year Parker and I were lucky enough to go on a European adventure. We set aside 2 weeks to explore and check off a few of the places on our bucket list. This 2-week itinerary allowed us to travel to and see a handful of countries and is perfect for someone who is going to Europe for the first time (like us!)

Stop #1: Washington D.C. – Days 1-3

With Parker being quite the proud American, our first stop before crossing the pond was Washington D.C. He had never been so we thought it would be a great first destination and help to break up the long flight between California and Europe. We only had 1 full day in D.C. so we took advantage of every second we had and started exploring as soon as we were checked into our hotel and dropped our heavy backpacks (yes, we took backpacking backpacks, and while they did quite the number on your back after carrying them around for a while, they were so much easier to deal with than a roller!)

Europe in 2 Weeks - Balanced and Beautiful Europe in 2 Weeks - Balanced and Beautiful Europe in 2 Weeks - Balanced and Beautiful Europe in 2 Weeks - Balanced and Beautiful

Our top spots in Washington D.C.:

  • Arlington Cemetery – not exactly in D.C. but just a short metro ride away
  • Founding Farmers – farm-to-table restaurant, walking distance from the White House
  • Georgetown – the best place to walk around, shop, and grab a bite to eat

Stop #2: London, England – Days 4-8

We both agreed that London was our favorite stop on the trip. The accents, the big red buses, and the hustle and bustle, we loved it all. This was our longest stop and we wish we could have spent more days here. There is so much to do, see, and explore. We loved how each area in London has it own feel and has something different to offer. On the weekend, we took the tube to Notting Hill to browse the Portobello Market. There were stalls and stalls of people selling all sorts of good and the most delicious looking foods. From there we wandered around the neighborhoods, admiring all the pretty pastel houses. It was my favorite day.

Europe in 2 Weeks - Balanced and Beautiful Europe in 2 Weeks - Balanced and Beautiful Europe in 2 Weeks - Balanced and Beautiful Europe in 2 Weeks - Balanced and Beautiful Europe in 2 Weeks - Balanced and Beautiful Europe in 2 Weeks - Balanced and Beautiful

Our London must dos:

  • Kensington – walk around Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park, to top it off; go grab a drink and sticky toffee pudding at The Abingdon
  • Notting Hill – Portobello Market and neighborhoods
  • Ciders – try as many as you can, they are SO delicious!

Stop #3: Paris, France- Days 8-11

This was the stop I was most looking forward too! I have been dreaming of going to Paris and seeing the Eiffel tower and it did not disappoint! When we first got off the metro from the train station and climbed the stairs to the street, the first thing we saw was the Notre-Dame Cathedral, I was amzed. Everything was so beautiful, the buildings, the river, I was in love. (In love in the City of Love, how appropriate!) We rented an apartment for our time there on Ile Saint-Louis. I would recommend this for anyone going to Paris, or really anywhere. Living as a local rather than as a tourist in a hotel gave us a much more authentic experience. Plus, it was much cheaper than staying in a hotel and because of that we were able to stay in a better area.

Europe in 2 Weeks - Balanced and Beautiful Europe in 2 Weeks - Balanced and Beautiful Europe in 2 Weeks - Balanced and Beautiful Europe in 2 Weeks - Balanced and Beautiful Europe in 2 Weeks - Balanced and Beautiful Europe in 2 Weeks - Balanced and Beautiful Europe in 2 Weeks - Balanced and Beautiful

Our Paris top picks:

  • Picnic under Eiffel tower – my absolute favorite thing we did the whole trip! We bought all the fixings for the perfect picnic on Rue Cler, a street just a short walk away from the Eiffel tower
  • Palace of Versailles – great day trip, will blow you away
  • Berthillon – on Ile Saint-Louis, luxury ice cream and sorbet, need I say more?

Stop #4: Ghent, Belgium – Days 11-13

All of Belgium was a fairytale. The towns are so quaint and it doesn’t hurt that they sure know how to make chocolate and beer too. Ghent was a quick stop on our trip and the one full day we had there we ventured over to Bruges. Bruges is like stepping into a storybook. With the canals running through the town, the horse drawn carriages, and the lush green fields, you will never want to leave. It truly is a beautiful town.

Europe in 2 Weeks - Balanced and Beautiful Europe in 2 Weeks - Balanced and Beautiful Europe in 2 Weeks - Balanced and Beautiful Europe in 2 Weeks - Balanced and Beautiful Europe in 2 Weeks - Balanced and Beautiful

Europe in 2 Weeks - Balanced and Beautiful Europe in 2 Weeks - Balanced and Beautiful

Our Belgium recommendations:

  • Train to Bruges – just a 30 minute train ride away from Ghent
  • Chocolate – chocolate on your waffle, hot chocolate, chocolate bars, go all out!

Stop #5: Amsterdam, Netherlands – Days 13-16

Our last stop and we hit quite a bit of rain in Amsterdam. Despite the weather, we were still able to explore the city. Again, we rented an apartment in the Jordaan, which was a highly recommended neighborhood. Canals, bridges, stores, and cafes, Amsterdam had it all.

Europe in 2 Weeks - Balanced and Beautiful Europe in 2 Weeks - Balanced and Beautiful Europe in 2 Weeks - Balanced and Beautiful Europe in 2 Weeks - Balanced and Beautiful Europe in 2 Weeks - Balanced and Beautiful

Our Amsterdam favorites:

  • Thai & Co – AMAZING food! We even came back again the next night because it was so good
  • Zaanse Schans – we took a bus to this cute windmill village, full of clogs, cheese, and windmills!
  • Walking canal tour – In our tour book, Lonely Planet Pocket Amsterdam, there was a free, guided walking tour of some of the prettiest and most interesting canals in Amsterdam.

Happy traveling,

Krysten