Little Larey

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10x Why The Azores Islands Are Europe’s Best Kept Secret

10x Why The Azores Islands Are Europe’s Best Kept Secret

Last summer we discovered what I truly believe is Europe’s Best Kept Secret: the Azores Islands. These islands are part of Portugal, but are essentially a totally different world. It’s Scandinavia, Hawaii, the Mediterranean, and Canada all tucked into one. And all that could be yours after only a 5 hour flight from Amsterdam (or the US East coast for that matter). In two weeks we hopped around 4 of the 9 Azores Islands, and I’ll show you more of the beauty of these islands in separate blog posts. To kick things off, here’s a little teaser with 10 photos that will make you want to explore the Azores as soon as possible!

1. Unesco World Heritage Angra Do Heroísmo

Did I mention the Azores are a Portuguese autonomous region? So yes: ridiculously beautiful Portuguese architecture everywhere. The best example can be found on the island of Terceira: Unesco World Heritage Site, Angra do Heroísmo.

Azores Islands Portugal Travel Angra Do Heroismo Terceira

2. Hike Inside A Volcano

There are only a few places on the planet where you can explore the inside of a volcano. On Terceira you can do this in the Algar Do Carvão, a magma chamber that is now free from lava.

Azores Islands Portugal Travel Terceira Algar Do Carvao

3. Volcanic Craters

Does this look like Jurassic Park or what? The Azores Islands are volcanic islands, so there are many caldeiras where you can do beautiful hikes.

Azores Islands Portugal Travel Faial

4. The Most Western Point Of Europe

This is one to check off your bucket list: stand on the most Western point in all of Europe. And how cool is the out of this world scenery at Capelinhos, on the island of Faial?

Azores Islands Portugal Travel Faial

5. Red Windmills Everywhere

Who loves windmills? This girl {insert girl with hand up emoji}. Remember my obsession with the molinos on Fuerteventura? Well, on the Azores Islands the windmills are bright red. Be still my heart.

Azores Islands Portugal Travel Pico

6. Historical Whaling Towns

Whale watching in Europe? Well yes, my friends. The Azores are famous for its fantastic whale watching opportunities. And we were lucky enough to see sperm whales; the largest toothed predator in the world. They also have the largest brain of any creature known to have lived on earth. Unfortunately, sperm whales were targeted back in the day, and the many old whaling towns on the Azores are a heritage from that brutal tradition. Cute towns, though.

Azores Islands Portugal Travel Pico

7. Wild Volcanic Coastline

Volcanoes = lava = cool black coastline. Don’t be fooled though, even old lava is hot on the bum when the sun is shining all day.Azores Islands Portugal Travel Pico

8. Crazy Beautiful Lakes

The volcanic craters on the Azores have often turned into beautiful lakes, like the one pictured below: Lagoa do Canario. Gorgeous, right?

Azores Islands Portugal Travel Sao Miguel

9. Tropical Jungle

And if all this beauty wasn’t enough, you can also take a refreshing dip in these lush green surroundings.

Azores Islands Portugal Travel Sao Miguel

10. Chasing Waterfalls

Okay, now you’re just bragging, Azores. Look. At. This. Waterfall. And this is in Europe, people. What?!

Azores Islands Portugal Travel Sao Miguel

Stay tuned for the upcoming blog posts with more details of Europe’s Best Kept Secret. Keep your credit card at hand, because you’re going to book tickets right away. #sorrynotsorry

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Azores Islands Portugal Travel Faial

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Snapshots From Aarhus, Denmark

Snapshots From Aarhus, Denmark

Did you know Aarhus is the second largest city in Denmark, after Copenhagen? Well, I didn’t. In fact, I had no idea where to locate Aarhus, and full disclosure: it wasn’t on my radar at all. But when we took our car all the way from Amsterdam to Norway for our first family vacay, Aarhus was the perfect stop for a short break for all of us to stretch our legs (Luc was stretching his legs in the stroller). Of course a 90 minute visit was way too short, but it was long enough to convince us to come back soon. Let me show you some of our snapshots and you’ll get why!

Bicycle Love

As Dutchies we’re used to seeing lots and lots of bikes, especially in Amsterdam, but they sure love their bicycles in Aarhus. It’s supposedly a very bike-friendly city, and I think the fact that there are a lot of students living in Aarhus also contributes to the high numbers of wheels we spotted. Random fact about me: I’m a huge sucker for bicycle baskets (you know, to carry your flowers in!).

Aarhus Denmark Travel Citytrip Møllestien

Aarhus Denmark Travel Citytrip Møllestien

Aarhus Denmark Travel Citytrip Møllestien

Møllestien

In summer this cobbled street, actually it’s more like an alley, is probably filled with massive flocks of Insta influencers who show off their cool gaze-in-the-distance-look (which I don’t master AT ALL). But on a cold and windy Sunday afternoon in February we were basically the only ones around. Just us and a few locals who are lucky enough to live in these ridiculously cute houses. And did I mention the love for bikes?

Aarhus Denmark Travel Citytrip Møllestien

Aarhus Denmark Travel Citytrip Møllestien

Aarhus Street Food

Since we were in the city around lunchtime we were in the mood for some food. And food-wise there’s not much that makes me happier than a raw industrial building filled with food stalls. Enter: Aarhus Street Food. It’s located in the old bus station (Aarhus Rutebilstation) and there are over 30 stalls and bars to pick and choose from. Super stressful for millenials like me, right? ;)

Aarhus Denmark Street Food Travel

Aarhus Denmark Street Food Travel

“I don’t like tacos”, said no Juan ever, and who LOVES tacos? This girl {insert hand up emoticon}. So we grabbed something to eat at the Mexican Donkey, which is run by a very cute couple (#couplegoals). Note: we both look absolutely charming while eating a quesadilla.

Aarhus Denmark Street Food Travel

Since it was freezing outside we skipped these extremely yummy looking desserts (hello there cookies & mint goodness!), but if we make it back here in summer I’m going to try them all. In other things I loved: you can borrow board games. Which would never work in Amsterdam because Amsterdam people are rude d*cks and these would get stolen immediately. So kuddos to you, Aarhus!

Fun Facts

  • Aarhus was European Capital of Culture in 2017.
  • One in seven residents is a student, giving the city a very relaxed college-town vibe.
  • You can roam through the history of Denmark in Den Gamle By; an open air museum (free admission under 18).
  • Aarhus has an extremely cool art museum called ARoS Kunstmuseum, and it’s also open on Wednesday evenings (I love museums at night!).
  • The city is famous for both its historic buildings and its modern ones, like Dokk1; the city’s new public library.

Aarhus is simply a perfect stop on the way to Hirtshals, from where you can catch a ferry to Norway, Sweden, and even the Faroe Islands (which we’ll be doing next year). I’ll share more of our family winter trip to beautiful Norway soon!

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Aarhus Denmark Travel Citytrip Møllestien

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Our Tropical Island Getaway To Maui

Our Tropical Island Getaway To Maui

I’ve finally come around to editing the many, many, oh so many, photos we took on our Hawaiian adventure on the beautiful island of Maui. It’s funny how time really goes by so fast since we just found out I was pregnant with our baby boy right before we left, and now he’s already 3 months old. We actually shot our super cheesy but super sweet pregnancy announcement on Maui, so the island will always have a special place in our hearts ♡.

Maui Hawaii Napili Bay Travel Pregnancy Announcement

Being 7 weeks pregnant meant that we had to make a few adjustments, especially since I was really struggling with non stop morning sickness (read more about my pregnancy here). So we had to cancel our epic helicopter tour, and testing my surf skills on the famous Hawaiian waves also has to wait for another time. But we still had an amazing time (did I mention Maui is paradise?), so read on for a recap of our tropical island getaway to Maui!

Maui Bound

First up, let’s talk logistics. Maui is the second largest island in the Hawaiian archipelago and you can fly directly into Kahului Airport from San Francisco or Los Angeles. We used our Flying Blue Miles and only paid €10 each for a direct return flight from LAX to Maui. Yes. Read that again. It’s not a typo. Ten euro. How’s that for living your best life?

Bear in mind that accommodation is not cheap on Maui, especially if you want to stay in a fancy resort. There are a lot of Airbnb options though, and if you travel outside the busy season hotel prices are pretty reasonable. We stayed a few nights at the Maui Seaside Hotel, close to the airport. It’s conveniently located in the middle of the island which was nice since we had a late arrival and we wanted to hit The Road To Hana early on the next morning. The last few nights we stayed at the very nice The Mauian Hotel at Napili Bay – often named one of the most beautiful beaches on the planet.

Maui Hawaii Napili Bay Travel

Paia

This sleepy but lovely little town is a great place to grab some food before or after you drive The Road To Hana. Grab some breakfast (order the pancakes!) at Charley’s Saloon, Willie Nelson’s favorite spot on Maui. And for dinner it’s absolutely worth it to get in line at the Paia Fish Market for super fresh Mahi Mahi or Ahi. If you never had these fishes before: it’s going to change your life. And also: ruin you forever since I’m always in the mood for Ahi, and guess what? We don’t have it in Holland.

The Road To Hana

Yes, I’ve mentioned this super famous road twice already. So what’s the big deal with this highway leading to a tiny town called Hana? Well, it’s arguably the most beautiful road on the planet. And if it were up to me, there’s no doubt about it, because you’re truly driving in paradise island heaven. I’m not going to write a detailed recap of the stops on the way over to Hana, because I believe it’s best experienced as an on the go adventure. There are so many beautiful things to see along the way and I don’t want to give you a detailed itinerary you should follow. I want to show you what can be yours to discover and I hope you’ll make your own adventure. If you do want details, you can get a very good audio tour online. All I can tell you is to be ready at every lookout point, every waterfall, and every sign you see. If you have time, it’s best to spend the night at Hana so you can take it slow and don’t have to rush on the way back. Here are some highlights of our The Road To Hana experience!

Ho’okipa Beach Park

Not far from Paia, this beach is a great spot to watch the locals catch some waves. Ho’okipa has the best waves on Maui’s North shore. And it’s supposedly the most renowned windsurfing spot in the world, although we didn’t see any windsurfers because of the wind conditions. But come on, does it get more Hawaii than this?

Maui Hawaii Paia Road To Hana Travel

Maui Hawaii Paia Road To Hana Travel

Maui Hawaii Paia Road To Hana Travel

It’s also worth noticing that you definitely should go down to the beach itself, otherwise you might miss something big. Something very big… You probably think this is a beach with a lot of big boulders, right?

Maui Hawaii Paia Road To Hana Travel

Think again! There were so many big ass sea turtles having a chill, and we hadn’t even noticed them at first. So cool! Please be respectful to these animals and stay at a large distance as not to disturb them. Bring your zoom lens to get up close and personal :).

Maui Hawaii Paia Road To Hana Travel

Twin Falls

I can highly recommend doing this easy hike through some beautiful Maui scenery to reach Twin Falls. Don’t forget to bring your bathing suit and take a quick dip! Especially if you don’t feel like climbing your way down to the Three Bears Falls further down The Road To Hana, but you do want the tropical experience of swimming under a Hawaiian waterfall. Twin Falls is your best bet. Side note: don’t forget to wear your hair up instead of down – unless you’re going for that extra frizzy look. Fyi, I wasn’t.

Maui Hawaii Paia Road To Hana Travel

Maui Hawaii Paia Road To Hana Travel

Waikamoi Nature Trail

This hike is a mile or so, and although it can be slippery and steep at some points, it’s pretty doable. And absolutely worth the sweat since you get to experience the peace and quiet of this often overlooked part of Maui. Ssssht, quiet please: trees at work. And also: I found the most instagrammed plant of 2017 in its natural habitat. Score!

Maui Hawaii Paia Road To Hana Travel

Garden of Eden Arboretum

Although you have to pay a $15 entrance fee, I think this botanical garden is worth it. It’s a great spot to stretch your legs while looking at some gorgeous plants and trees. There are also cabanas where you can have a lovely little picnic.

Maui Hawaii Paia Road To Hana Travel

Maui Hawaii Paia Road To Hana Travel

Didn’t bring any food? Do like us and stop by the Coconut Cafe right at the entrance. The tacos and banana bread are yummmmm. Be careful though: you can burn your bum on the hot picnic table (as is demonstrated by the husband). No shortage of sunshine on Maui!

Maui Hawaii Paia Road To Hana Travel

Jurassic Park

This is what I love most about The Road To Hana: there is more beauty after every turn. You think it can’t get any better than this, and then BAM! Maui smacks you in the face with its gorgeous scenery and epic views. And yes, it often feels like you’re in the middle of Jurassic Park. Minus the dinosaurs. Just to clarify.

Ke’anae Peninsula

I know I said you should find your own adventure on The Road To Hana. But please include Ke’anae. Two reasons. One: the fierce coast line with its black rock beach.

Maui Hawaii Paia Road To Hana Travel

Two: amazing banana bread and shave ice at Aunty Sandy’s. Yes, you just had banana bread at the Coconut Cafe, I know. But seriously, you’re in paradise, who’s counting calories?

And also: I wouldn’t mind going to this church every Sunday.

Maui Hawaii Paia Road To Hana Travel

Chasing Waterfalls at Upper Waikani Falls

Okay, this might not be the best idea if you’re pregnant, but being the little rebel that I am… I had to. I read somewhere that you can climb down on the side of the road, on a very steep and very slippery path (it doesn’t even deserve that name), and then you can crawl your way to the base of Upper Waikani Falls (aka Three Bears Falls). Yep, that’s what I want. Obviously I didn’t want the easy swim-under-waterfall experience at Twin Falls. So we parked the car and decided to give it a go.

Maui Hawaii Paia Road To Hana Travel

It was actually not easy to find the start of the descend (tip: it’s near the guardrail on the Eastern end of the bridge). The first step down is the hardest, after that it’s quite doable as long as you use both hands and feet. And it’s soooooooo worth it! Swimming under a Hawaiian waterfall – just the two of us. Epic doesn’t even begin to describe this experience…

Waianapanapa State Park

Try saying that really fast three times in a row. Right before you reach Hana, you will find Waianapanapa State Park. This park is most famous for its black sand beach, where local families and tourists alike take a dip in the ocean. If you’re up for camping there’s also a campground, and I can only imagine what this place looks like at sunrise. Like paradise.

Maui Hawaii Paia Road To Hana Travel

Hana

There is so much more beauty to be seen along The Road To Hana. Like I said, if you have time definitely spend the night in Hana. Just know that accommodation options are limited in this tiny Hawaiian town. The Road To Hana is absolutely doable as a day trip, you just have to pick a few stops and skip the rest, instead of trying to rush everything. Trust me, it’s going to be the most scenic drive of your life anyway!

Maui Hawaii Paia Road To Hana Travel

Kihei

If we ever were to move to Maui – a girl can dream, right? – I would want to live in Kihei. It’s a very laidback town (no resorts here), with a beautiful beach with nice waves right in the middle of town. I would have my after surf breakfast at the Kihei Caffe every day. And in the afternoon I would pick a spot in the park for a little siesta. Oh man, what a life…

Maui Hawaii Kihei Travel

Even the fire trucks are tropical!

Maui Hawaii Kihei Travel

Wailea

This is where most Maui visitors stay because this is where the big resorts are. And I have to admit, it looks very nice. Very slick. Very fancy. Many, many retirees in golf carts everywhere. If you know what I mean. Nice, but not us. Although you should head to the shopping area if you’re looking for a Hawaiian shirt. Tip: check the collection at Hawaiian shirt company Tori Richard.

Maui Hawaii Wailea Travel

Makena Beach

We really love Makena Beach, a little further South of Wailea. You can park your car near the beautiful Keawala’i Church, and walk down to the beach.

Maui Hawaii Kihei Travel

It probably has the softest sand my bare feet have ever touched. Oh, and if you’re a drone photographer: this is where you want to catch some epic shots of the soft pinkish sand contrasting with the bright blue of the ocean. But even my good old OM-D captured the beauty of this beach perfectly. And obviously it helps to have a handsome model.

Maui Hawaii Makena Beach Wailea Travel

Maalaea

This is where you can – and should – hop on a boat to see some whales. We have seen whales in California, Vancouver Island, and on the Azores Islands, and it’s always a magnificent experience to witness these huge mammals in the wild. On Maui we’ve seen a lot of whales actually jump out of the ocean. I guess the whales also think Hawaii is paradise.

Maui Hawaii Whale Watching Coast Travel

Maui Hawaii Whale Watching Coast Travel

Lahaina

On the West side of Maui you’ll find another lovely Hawaiian town, called Lahaina. It was the capital of the Kingdom of Hawaii in the 19th century, and it has a lot of charm. The main street, Front Street, has nice shops and restaurants housed in historical buildings, giving Lahaina its old world vibe. You can do a self-guided historical walking tour (follow this link) or roam around on your own. If you need to rest your legs, take a little break under the massive Banyan tree located in the town square.

Maui Hawaii Lahaina Travel

Maui Hawaii Lahaina Travel

Old Lahaina Luau

A luau is a traditional Hawaiian feast with a lot of food and live performances. You can imagine most resorts hosts these luaus for their guest, but we were told the Old Lahaina Luau gives the most authentic representation. And yes, all the big luaus are aimed at tourists, but it is part of Hawaiian tradition so we wanted to experience it anyway. And it was such an amazing evening, so we’re very glad that we went. Pro tip: book months in advance so you can get a spot in the traditional Hawaiian seating area (read: on the floor) in front of the stage.

Maui Hawaii Lahaina Luau Travel

They serve great cocktails (even the virgin cocktails!) while you wander around the luau grounds. Before the show begins you can learn about Hawaiian culture and history. One of the highlights is the uncovering of the Kalua Pig from the Imu (traditional Hawaiian underground oven).

The food was delicious, but the highlight was the live performance. A mixture of traditional Hawaiian and Polynesian dances and stories, so we learned a lot about the history and legends of these islands. Highly recommended!

Maui Hawaii Lahaina Luau Travel

Maui Hawaii Lahaina Luau Travel

Napili Bay

Oh, Napili Bay… You so pretty. I’m so happy that we decided to splurge on a hotel at this gorgeous beach. Spending your day with this tropical view is honestly what my dreams are made of.

Maui Hawaii Napili Bay Travel

In the morning we’d grab our breakfast to find a nice spot underneath one of the palm trees. Then we did some reading. Some napping. A little sunbathing. To cool off we’d take a refreshing dip in the Pacific. We did some stand up paddling. We walked along the shore to say hello to a huge sea turtle.

Maui Hawaii Napili Bay Travel

Maui Hawaii Napili Bay Travel

For even more paradise vibes we wandered around the lush tropical garden of The Mauian Hotel. And snapped dozens of pictures of the beautiful plants and flowers.

Maui Hawaii Napili Bay Travel

Right before sunset we freshened up for cocktail hour and a lovely dinner with a view at the Sea House Restaurant. And then we watched the sunset and pinched ourselves. This. Is. Paradise.

Maui Hawaii Napili Bay Travel

Maui Hawaii Napili Bay Travel

Mahalo Maui

Thank you, Maui. Not only did we have an amazing trip, you were also the place where it truly sinked in we were becoming parents. A family. Wow. And yes, it’s halfway across the planet, but we are DEFINITELY coming back to you with our little man. Mahalo.

Maui Hawaii Napili Bay Travel

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Maui Hawaii Ho'okipa Beach Surf Road To Hana Travel

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Baby’s First Vacay: An Amsterdam Staycation

Baby’s First Vacay: An Amsterdam Staycation

“So I guess you’re going to stop traveling all over the world after the baby is born, right?”. WRONG. So, so, oh so wrong. Maybe we’re those naive parents who think it’s perfectly doable to travel with a kiddo. Maybe we’re bad parents because “traveling with kids is selfish” and you’re not doing them any favors. I’ve heard it all before. We just know that traveling is a big part of our life as a couple, so it will naturally be a big part of our life as a family.

I guess it won’t surprise you that we made travel plans even before the little one was born. And there was a lot of pressure for that first family vacay :). Ticket to the tropics? Snowy winter wonderland? By car? By plane? In the end our baby’s first vacation was an Amsterdam staycation. That’s right. We stayed at the relatively new Hyatt Regency Amsterdam – not even 5 km from our home. Ha! Well, rest assured because we have a family winter trip to Norway coming up, ánd we just booked a tropical getaway to Guadeloupe. Oh wait, we’re also discussing a trip to Tbilisi with the guys we met in North Korea (and who we went to Moscow with). Like I said: possibly naive and bad parents.

Amsterdam Staycation Hotelnacht Hyatt

Anyway, our staycation wasn’t only our first trip as a family, it was also our first night away from home as a family. In other words: Luc had never slept in another bed besides his own (and the hospital bed). And although we are blessed (yes, we truly feel #blessed) with a newborn who only wakes us up once a night, it could very well be possible he would struggle in another sleep situation. Spoiler alert: he didn’t. He slept through the night (read: mommy woke up with exploding boobs). Halleluja.

Amsterdam Staycation Hotelnacht Hyatt

So what did we do on this first trip?

Just like last year, we shared our Amsterdam staycation experience with some of our close friends. After we all checked in at the Hyatt Regency, we laid back on the comfy sofas in the lobby for some drinks & bites. It really warms my heart to see my bambino feeling nice and safe in my friends’ arms ♡.

Amsterdam Staycation Hotelnacht Hyatt

The restaurant in the Hyatt runs an Indonesian cuisine and as a something-something generation Indo I can tell you that the chicken saté definitely has my stamp of approval. Selamat makan, for sure.

Amsterdam Staycation Hotelnacht Hyatt

Amsterdam Staycation Hotelnacht Hyatt

Table for five, please

And obviously there was more food on this weekend getaway. Come to think of it, we didn’t actually do anything beside eat and drink. Those are the best weekends, right? We had a table at one of our favorite ánd family-friendly restaurants in this hood: Cafe Restaurant De Plantage.

Amsterdam Staycation Hotelnacht Cafe Restaurant Plantage

Since we are members of the Artis Royal Zoo that’s right next door, we usually come here for a pre-zoo lunch. But this was the first time we had dinner here, and besides the pretty snobby waitress (welcome in Amsterdam), the food was very good. Pro tip: order the sharing platters as a starter and share the lamb dish as a main. Done and done.

Amsterdam Staycation Hotelnacht Cafe Restaurant Plantage

And how did Luc do?

We’ve taken him out to grab a bite a couple of times before, although usually during the day and not this long, and like those other times he was a total trooper. He was awake for most of the time, but didn’t cry or fuzz at all. Sometimes we had to pass him around so everyone could enjoy the food (and HOT coffee!), and he didn’t seem to mind one bit.

We’re so happy that we can take him along on dinner dates with friends. At least for now. Because for some reason I can’t seem to shake the feeling that the other shoe is about to drop somewhere along the line; we can’t be so lucky to have this chill and happy baby, right? Oh wait, maybe the other shoe is our daily struggle with breastfeeding… I’ll probably share something about that journey around the 6 month mark. You know, when it’s behind us. And who knows, I might even miss it by then. Fingers crossed.

Cocktails & Pool With A Newborn

After dinner we went back to the hotel where we had some very good cocktails in the hotel bar. Even my virgin cocktail was exceptionally tasty. While I danced around with Luc in the baby carrier (I can’t praise my Mezaya ring sling enough) the others played a few rounds of pool. And being the curious little dude he is, Luc was wide awake and extremely mesmerized by the mirror ceiling in the bar. Awesome baby entertainment. I might consider putting up a mirror on our ceiling at home as well… No, of course not. I’m not that crazy. Or am I..?

Amsterdam Staycation Hotelnacht Cafe Restaurant Plantage

Slept Like A Baby

As I said earlier: Luc slept through the night and we basically had to wake him up for his breakfast. We had a nice family snuggle session in the comfy bed. Oh how I love hotel beds. And Sundays. Sundays are my fave. Did you know we got married on a Sunday? See more here.

Amsterdam Staycation Hotelnacht Hyatt

Our friends offered to babysit for an hour so we could hit the gym. This was actually our first time alone as a couple since Luc’s birth 2,5 months ago. Wow.

Amsterdam Staycation Hotelnacht Hyatt

Brekkie Time

After a quick workout we picked up the little man who was in the mood for his second breakfast, and then we all headed downstairs to grab a bite of our own. Truth be told: not the best hotel breakfast buffet we’ve ever seen (remember the breakfast at the Sofitel in Manila?). We opted to order one of the egg dishes instead, which was the better choice. Although we all thought it’s kind of ridiculous that a €14 omelette doesn’t come with some toast – you have to order it separately. It was tasty though.

Amsterdam Staycation Hotelnacht Hyatt

Hey Ho, Let’s Go

After a group selfie in the hotel lobby it was time to check out and head home. You know, we had those 5 km of traveling ahead of us. And I have to say, I really love staycations. Even though it’s only one night, and even though you’re super close to home (the husband even went back and forth to walk Polly), I truly felt like we’d been on a short break. And this was a very good practice run for our upcoming travels. So stay tuned if you wanna know if we still think traveling with a little kiddo is a great idea!

Amsterdam Staycation Hotelnacht Hyatt

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2017. One Word. Life-changing.

2017. One Word. Life-changing.

Well that might sound melodramatic. But when I think about all that’s happened this past year I have to admit: it was a big one. The biggest one yet. So many ups. A baby. A puppy. A new house. Quality time with loved ones. Lots of travels. But also some major downs. A burnout (read more here). Quitting my job. Postpartum recovery. I guess it’s safe to say I learned a lot this year. About myself and about life. What I value most and how to fade out all the noise. I grew stronger than ever and have never been more proud of my body. I also learned how to relax and be in the moment. But most of all, 2017 was life-changing because I became a mother. Me. A mommy. I’m someone’s mom now. That’s right. Luc, I am your mother. A title I wear with all the pride in the world ♥.

Last year I reflected on 2016 by writing a recap, but since typing with a baby boy on your arm isn’t particularly efficient, I decided to keep it short and simple and just share a few of my favorite images of 2017. Cue the happy tears!

January

Winter Weekend With Friends, Germany

More German Winter Vibes here

Amsterdam Hotel Night With Friends

Solo Surf Trip, Fuerteventura

Read more about my last minute trip

February

Romantic Winter Weekend, Cotswolds

More Cute Cotswolds Vibes here

PREGGERS!

Read more about my pregnancy

March

Family Visit, San Diego

Check my San Diego Top 10 here

Tropical Getaway, Maui

See more of this paradise island here

Weekend Los Angeles, California

Along Came Polly

See more puppy love here

April

Morning 24/7 Sickness

May

Weekend In The Woods, Veluwe

More photos here

June

Weekend With Friends, Moscow

More From Russia With Love Here

It’s A Boy!

July

Island Hopping, Azores

Europe’s Best Kept Secret Coming Soon

Nursery Prep

See our crazy cool nursery here

August

Hanging Out With Polly

Maternity Shoot With Silvia Falcomer

See more of Silvia’s beautiful photos of us

#Fitmom

Zoo Visit With Friends

September

Babymooning, Hvar

Why you should visit this Adriatic gem

The Third Trimester

October

Fall Hike

(Un-)Dressing The Bump

Due Date!

Read my pregnancy recap

November

LUC IS BORN!

Birth story coming soon

Home From The Hospital

First Time Outside

First Artis Visit

December

First Snow

Babywearing Mama

Family Hike

First Christmas As A Family

I can’t wait to see what 2018 has in store for us. But I already know that my favorite thing will be watching Luc discover the world. Happy New Year, Everybody! ★☆★

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Due Date: Final Countdown To Baby & Pregnancy Recap

Due Date: Final Countdown To Baby & Pregnancy Recap

October 31st 2017. A date that has been on my mind since we found out I was pregnant. My official due date. And it’s finally here! Yay! You know what’s not here yet? The baby. That’s right. That little dude is staying put. So I think it’s safe to say that our baby boy will be a November baby – unless we have a sprint labor and delivery situation coming our way later today…

And since we’re still playing the waiting game and this mommy to be is pretty much getting bored out of her mind, I thought it would be nice to do a pregnancy recap. As always, mostly for our own archives, but maybe it might help or interest others too.

Trying To Conceive

If you’re a mom or you’re trying to get pregnant, you’ve probably heard of the term TTC, which means: trying to conceive. Well, I certainly hadn’t heard of it before we decided to try our luck at making a baby. I stopped using birth control after we got married, and man, we didn’t know sh*t. Yes, of course we knew about the birds and the bees, but it never really occurred to me that you basically only have one chance each month to actually get pregnant. You know, you need to be ovulating and all. Yes, super naive I know. We did know however that it takes the average couple around a year to get pregnant.

We made the decision to be very open and transparent about the fact that we were TTC because it really bothers me that it’s such a taboo to talk about these things. Like we’re all just getting pregnant in the first try, and that’s that. Nobody really talks about the struggle and everyone expects it to go super smooth and easy. You wouldn’t believe how many people asked us if I was pregnant yet. We were even asked if we were getting a dog because we couldn’t get pregnant. Seriously. After a few “rounds” we decided to try our luck with ovulation tests. And I kid you not, there were remarks being made about it not being romantic or natural that way. For real. Well, you know what? When you’re ready to have kids and you know these tests might help you get pregnant, why shouldn’t you use them?

Pregnancy Baby Bump Pregnant Mom To Be Belly Shot

After a few months it really started to bother me that I had to answer “yes, I still drink wine” at every social gathering, and basically the lack of sensitivity some people would address the issue with was getting to me. Even though it was our own decision to be open about it. Not the fact that I wasn’t pregnant yet was hard on us, because we both knew it could take a year. But that other people were expecting us to be expecting so soon was really hard. It might had to do with the fact that I was also building up to a pretty heavy burnout so I was feeling a lot of pressure on multiple aspects of my life (read my burnout story here).

So after 8 months of trying we decided to take a break. If you also read my post about Canada (and the above mentioned burnout blog) it was during that trip that I realized we needed to take the pressure off. We had also booked a trip to Curacao for October and since that little Caribbean paradise island is struggling with the Zika virus we knew we had to halt the baby-making process until at least 3 months after our return. Turns out this was the best decision ever since I could work on tackling the burnout and my back injury. And also, the pressure of trying to please people with baby news was gone. And you know what? The first “round” after we got back in the game I got pregnant. No ovulation test (I just kept a good eye on my cycle). Just a wonderful winter weekend away ♡.

I know there are a lot of couples out there struggling with conception and I hope by reading this people will take a moment and think before making a “funny” remark. This will only make the couple feel uncomfortable and sad, and it will definitely NOT help with breaking the taboo about trying to conceive. If you’re really interested show that by asking a sincere question instead of making jokes about it. I didn’t mind talking about it, in fact I wanted to talk about it, but in a respectful way and without all the prejudice. Just some food for thought for ya…

Pregnancy Baby Bump Pregnant Mom To Be Belly Shot

The First Trimester: Projectile Vomiting

If you follow me on Instagram (@littlelarey) you probably know that I have had a very rough first trimester. 75% of pregnant women struggle with what is commonly known as morning sickness, although I can assure you it has nothing to do with a time of day. I was feeling so, so, oh so very, sick pretty much all day everyday for the first 16 weeks (!) of my pregnancy. I’m not sure if it was the combination with the burnout, but I was basically on survival mode. It started at around 6 weeks, just when we went on our trip to California and Hawaii (more about that soon).

Pregnancy Baby Bump Pregnant Mom To Be Belly Shot

Most people will tell you, it will all get better somewhere between week 10-12, but I had to soldier on till week 16. And even though it might sound like it: I wasn’t complaining. I was so freaking happy that I was pregnant, that there was actually growing new life inside of me, and that’s what makes it all worthwhile. If I was able to eat something it would be a plain bagel with cream cheese, a Brabants worstenbroodje, rice crackers, bread sticks, and thank god – fresh fruit. I was munching on fresh watermelon, pineapple and strawberries everyday, and I think that’s what kept me healthy. Also: I’ve been taking two prenatal vitamins and two prenatal fish oil pills every day, and I can highly recommend Essential Organics (much better to handle than Solgar) and Wiley’s Finest Wild Alaskan Fish Oil.

The Second Trimester: The Golden Weeks

The funny thing was that as soon as I reached week 16 I almost instantly felt better. I got my energy back, my appetite was hugely improving, and I finally had that pregnancy glow (hello bigger curls!). I was ready to get moving again so I started with prenatal yoga and I got back in the weight room with my physiotherapist aka the best personal trainer ever. It was so amazing to feel so good again, while also taking good care of myself and the little one inside my belly.

We went on a few trips during my second trimester: we had a lovely weekend in the woods with our little puppy, we went to Moscow with our friends, and we did some island-hopping on the Azores Islands (also coming soon). We had a lot of get-togethers with friends and family, and we hosted a baby party on pretty much the hottest day of the year.

Pregnancy Baby Bump Pregnant Mom To Be Belly Shot

We had a lot of ultrasounds at our amazing midwives at Femme Amsterdam so we got to see our little one a lot. It’s because we decided to go for their extra care package which means an ultrasound at every appointment, prenatal massages and acupuncture sessions – among other services. (Just to clarify: yes, we know that it’s not for everybody to have that extra care but since we’ve experienced in our own close circle that extra ultrasounds can much better predict how your baby is growing and can even be crucial to notice if there are any problems we really felt like it was worth it.) Oh right, and I also sort of finally kicked that burnout in the ass and decided to quit my job. Yep, it was an exciting trimester, that second one.

Pregnancy Baby Bump Pregnant Mom To Be Belly Shot

The Third Trimester: Getting Ready for Baby

And then you’re suddenly in the final stretch of pregnancy. Wait, what?! It’s so funny how those first few weeks seem to creep by so freaking slowly (especially if you feel like crap), and then before you know it you’re closing in on the finish line.

Pregnancy Baby Bump Pregnant Mom To Be Belly Shot

In this final trimester we focused on getting ready for the baby. Which may seem silly, because hello, didn’t we realize pregnancy means baby? Well, to be honest, we were so preoccupied with the pregnancy itself, me being as healthy and zen as I could be, the husband taking amazingly good care of us, that we sort of “forgot” the little dude still has to come out at some point. Yeah, no sh*t Sherlock. So we enrolled in a hypnobirthing class (again: blog coming soon) and finished up our crazy cool adventure inspired nursery (see photos here). And we decided to do a maternity session with the amazing Silvia Falcomer which I can highly recommend.

Pregnancy Shoot Amsterdam Silvia Falcomer

We also celebrated our two year wedding anniversary on an active but relaxing babymoon to the gorgeous island of Hvar. I tried to stay active for as long as possible, and until week 36 I was still kicking ass at the gym, going to yoga class, and walking the dog every day, but in these last few weeks I’ve started to get into cocoon mode. We’ve really enjoyed these last weekends together and we had a lot of date nights at our favorite restaurants, we went to the opera, and we had plenty of romantic nights at home.

Pregnancy Baby Bump Pregnant Mom To Be Belly Shot

Final Countdown

October 31st 2017. Due date. So now we wait. It might be tonight, it might be tomorrow, it might be next week. Jeez, it might even be the week after that. And although we’re slowly getting just a little impatient, we don’t complain because I’m still feeling perfectly fine, we can both stock up on some sleep, and our house has never been cleaner. We just hope that the little dude will be making his way into this world on his own terms, and that he doesn’t have to be evicted from his current home in two weeks!

Obviously I will let you know when our bambino has decided he’s ready to meet his parents, but I can tell you in advance that the face of our little bundle of joy (and poop) will not be a regular on my blog or my Instagram. Naturally, I will share things about our life as a new family and he will show up in photos – but never with his face. We’ve also asked our friends and family to respect our wishes about not sharing any images of him online. I don’t want to judge people who do share a lot of photos of their kids, because it’s a very personal decision, but this is just something we feel very strongly about. If you want to see our baby boy, you’re more than welcome to stop by! Uh, please call ahead ;).

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