Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Babymoon I - The Netherlands & Belgium

After being awake for 22 hours as we made the long haul back from Europe, we are home from our fabulous vacation that we booked before we committed to adoption and slept in our bed last night for the first time in 12 days. There have been times where I have felt guilty about booking this trip and looking forward to it because of how much help we've needed to get ready to adopt sooner than later. In the end, I am very glad we went because we celebrated so many things, including our marriage and the blessings that make trips like these possible and finally getting to a place in this journey to parenthood that has us excited and filled with hope. The truth is, if we hadn't booked this before deciding to adopt, there's no way we would have planned a trip like this, and after all we've been through together the past 2+ years, we really needed to go. I do mean to use the word need. We have lived too long in a very painful "what-if" land of disappointing hope and serious grief. We needed this trip.

It seems silly that nearly 9 months ago, when we booked the trip, I allowed myself to worry that I might be pregnant and we'd have to cancel the trip or I wouldn't be able to drink alcohol or do anything too adventurous on the trip.

And why is the post titled "Babymoon I"? Because I have this feeling we'll be waiting long enough to have a Babymoon II. It won't be as extravagant as this trip, and I have no idea what it would be, but I see another trip in our future before we bring a baby home.

There are a million pictures and memories to sort through, but here are the highlights.

We spent 3 nights in Amsterdam in a rented houseboat on one of the canals in the Jordaan district. We rented bikes and got all around town. Sights we saw included the Anne Frank House, the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum, and the Boom Chicago improv comedy troop. We also went to a real European spa day at a resort about a 30 minute bike ride out of Central Amsterdam (no clothes, no one caring, massages, and countless different pools/saunas, etc.).

Then, we went on a 7 night cruise and visited Antwerp, Ghent, Bruges, Brussels, and a few small towns that had windmills and beautiful countrysides. We were the youngest couple on the cruise by far and did our own thing away from the groups as much as possible, hopping on the bikes the ship had and finding our own adventures. Although we've decided that we will not be cruising again anytime soon (it's so not our style adventure-wise), we had a marvelous time. The cruise had a beer theme, so we were bombarded with lots of special (mostly Belgian) beers and a few really awesome brewery tours. I don't think I'll be drinking much for the next month as I am "beered out"!

I am also "fooded out." We. Ate. So. Much. It was all delicious, but man, I am DONE with three-course meals for a while! Another drawback of the cruise was the food. Holy cow, it was delicious, but there was so much, and when you've paid for it in an all-inclusive fee and it's in front of you all the time, it's hard no to eat it. I am up 6 lbs. from the trip!

Lastly, we found a very special beer in Brussels that we are saving for when we get "the call" (that we've been matched with a child to adopt). It is called Westvleteren 12, and it is made by the monks at the Trappist Abbey of Saint Sixtus in Vleteren, Belgium. The beer is sold only to support the monastery and is rarely found anywhere in the US, and it was even a little hard to find on the trip.

The weather was not the best, but it was perfectly normal weather for The Netherlands in late March/early April. I did not pack appropriately, as 45 degrees in Nebraska feels much different than a rainy 45 degrees in The Netherlands. I did not bring enough warmer shirts and found myself picking out hideous additions to my wardrobe from H&M out of necessity.

Our first meal in The Netherlands - savory pancakes

Fish at an open market

The view from our houseboat (pardon the rain)

Houseboat buddies

Cogels Osylei neighborhood in Antwerp

Middleheim Park in Antwerp - really amazing park and sculpture garden

Cantillon Brewery in Brussels
Marzipan galore in Brussels

We told the cruise ship that we were celebrating a birthday and an anniversary. They threw in a honeymoon celebration too, so on three different nights, we had cake and song at dinner and stuff like this in our room!

Keukenhof Gardens in Amsterdam. We were a little too early for all the fields to be in bloom, but this garden attraction was beautiful.

I will forever see tulips in the US as lame compared to all the incredible varieties we saw.


  1. Sounds like an awesome trip. I'm so glad you both enjoyed yourselves! Now I want to see fields of tulips and windmills... :)

  2. Take me with you on Babymoon 2 please! Your trip looks like it was an amazing adventure!

    1. Stephanie - that's how I felt about YOUR Babymoon! That is a great trip idea that I have tucked away for a future getaway.

  3. what a great trip! With lots of beautiful pictures too.