Tag Archives | willet-holthuysen

Spring Break Europe 2013

Spring Break Europe 2013: What is Hot right Now?

If you’re wondering what European destinations are still making the top slot when it comes to spring break, look no further.

We’ve enlisted our friends at beatthebrochure.com to help give us brief rundown of what’s hot in Europe for 2013:


It may not score highly for hot temperatures, but give Iceland a go for its stunning architecture and scenery of glaciers, ice fields and volcanoes.  It’s also a prime position to catch glimpses of the Aurora Borealis, that’s the Northern lights to you and me.  There’s fantastic terrain for hikers to conquer, The Winter Lights Festival in February to enjoy, volcanic thermal spas to luxuriate in and capital city, Reykjavik.  The best news is that holidaying in Iceland is still relatively affordable.

Holland Museum

Willet Museum Amsterdam. One of our faves!


We have long used Amsterdam as a stopover in route to destinations afield in Europe.  We always like to build in a day or two in the city.  There are so many things to do in Amsterdam!  Spring break is the perfect time to take in Holland’s famous tulips.  Yes, the city is noted for it’s dark and seedy underside.  But the Dutch capital has so much to offer for the arts, history and culture lover.  The city is home to an amazing Van Gough Museum.  2013 marks its 40th birthday and no doubt will be honoring the country’s most celebrated artist, Vincent van Gough on what would be his 160th birthday.  Take a morning and visit Anne Frank’s home.


Barcelona is still as popular as ever.  Could this be due to the fact that it is crowded with fantastic architecture, is the place to indulge in guilt-free café culture and has its very own beach?  Whatever the reason, Barcelona is a must-visit destination for spring breakers, if only to appreciate architect Antonio Gaudi’s own inimitable style of architecture throughout the city.  Check out our post about the 10 Best of Barcelona.  The mild temperature of the area makes this the perfect spring break location.  Better yet take in the Barcelona and Real Madrid match!

Istanbul Carpet

One of our treasures being wrapped up at the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul


The next pick is a Fighting Couple favorite  Istanbul.  This welcoming city is an interesting blend of old and new.  A contemporary art scene, boutique hotels and plenty of retail therapy opportunities rub shoulders with historical places of interest.  Enjoy the best of both worlds, but be sure to check out Turkey’s latest discovery, the ruins of Göbekli Tepe.  As well as Istanbul’s Old Town, Midyat and Mardin are also worth exploring.  Don’t forget to get an unforgettable Turkish bath!


The once imposing Berlin Wall, now reduced to remnants and the city’s chequered past, are of course huge pulls for visitors.  After all who isn’t fascinated by Berlin’s history and this now physically undivided city?  You’ll also find the Reichstag and great art galleries and museums to explore here.  Berlin is no longer dark and cementy? (Is that even a word?)  It is now a vibrant metropolis offering couples romantic parks, and tasty eateries.

You cannot go wrong choosing any one of these lovely locations.  Get out and enjoy spring!  So do you have a fave European city to welcome in spring?

Drop us a line below in the comments section if you have been to Iceland, Berlin, Amersterdam or Barcelona!

One night in AMS

One of the great things about woodenshoeland is that every flight in the world stops there. Once on a flight from SFO to LAX I had a 2 hr layover there.  Amsterdam is truly a vibrant city.  So easy to get around.  Great young vibe.  This coupled with the fact that it is one of the most storied cities in Europe.

What to see during a layover?

1) Anne Franks House

Read the book, stand in line, see the house.

2) National Museum (Rijksmuseum)-candidly we were not incredibly awestruck by their expanse of their collection, by you must, must, must see the Night Watch by Rembrandt.  It is a massive painting that is uber-compelling.  Don’t go looking for the girl with pearl earing.  she doesn’t live here.  She hangs at The Hague.  But there are a lot of “hot” milkmaids…aka Vermeers.

3) Willet-Holthuysen Museum-Ok, so we may be a little biased on this one…as Mike may be distantly related to the former owners of this old mansion.  Located on a side street not far from Rembrant square is this well preserved, traditonal Dutch mansion.  For travel buffs, it is not to be missed as Mr. Willet was a travel buff of his time.  The house is filled with trinkets and souvenirs he purchased while getting his passport stamped all over the then known world.  Ok for those of you not into beautifully restored mansions, priceless art collections, statues and furnishings…there is the Museum of Handbags a couple of doors down.  I think that Luci is still there.

Where to Dine?

You really cant go wrong in the AMS.  Such an eclectic mix true to is mariner heritage.  We did seek out and were richly rewarded with a visit to Greetje.  The food was simply scrumptious.  A strong mix of traditional Dutch fare.  The owner Rene was an absolute pleasure.  Reservations are almost mandatory to get in.  Please, please help us vote them higher on Tripadvisor.  This is too good a place to be ranked #8.

Where to stay?

If you are on layover, this may limit your options.  We were, but with the exceltnt tram and train service we opted to stay in central AMS.  Where would be the ideal place for a couple of peace hating, fighting, ugly Americans to say?  Yep, you guessed it, two floors above John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s honeymoon suite.

Take the time to see AMS.  When scheduling your flights, take the 8 hour layover option there in lieu of the 2 hr.   Afscheid!