Diary: looking back at November and December!

Last Updated on by Charlotte van de Sande

Wow, the past few months have flown by. I had the intention to write a ‘retrospective blog’ every month, but the past few months I never got around it. Time to revive this. This time, therefore, a blog looking back at both November and December!


From Guatemala to Belize!

I started November while travelling on a bus from Guatemala to Belize. We had just spent two weeks in Guatemala and spent our last week in Belize. The bus ride was a bit unusual, in the seat next to us, sat a very big man who had a large gun on his belt. By occasionally pulling his shirt up, he deliberately made sure that the gun was clearly visible. Well, for us it was clear, this had to be a drug courier. Well okay, to be honest, we might have watched too much Narcos, but still, it was a bit strange.

In Belize, we enjoyed some wonderful days filled with sun, beaches and especially the sea. We went diving, saw sharks and dolphins and made a wonderful three-day sailing trip along uninhabited islands.

Upon returning to the Netherlands, we had a lot of fun events planned out. Erik and Barbie (American friends who just emigrated to the Netherlands) invited us for a real Thanksgiving dinner. Including a huge turkey and other traditional dishes. I ate Pumpkin Pie, Green Bean Casserole and Cranberry Sauce for the first time. It was delicious!Belize droning raggamuffin

Busy and a bit stressed …

After our holiday I immediately started working again and spent my free time organizing a secret birthday dinner for Ries. In addition, there were a lot of blogs that had to be written and of course the necessary Sinterklaas poems (in The Netherlands we have a tradition of ‘ Sinterklaas’ which is a bit similar to Santa Claus but with poems). All this caused more pressure and stress than I initially thought. There are only 24 hours in a day, of which I have to sleep a few, so in the end, I decided to publish fewer blogs. On the one hand, this gave me more time and I got more relaxed, but on the other hand, I really wanted to write all of our Guatemala and Belize adventures down.

My birthday: Scotland

In the end, all of my preparations in November were well-timed, since the first weekend of December I was ‘kidnapped’ by Ries for a surprise birthday weekend to Scotland. We spent three wonderful days in Scotland which made me completely fall in love with this place: we even liked it so much that we have just booked a new trip to Scotland! In April we will be going road tripping and camping for a week through the north of Scotland.

Glencoe

Secret dinner for Ries

Upon returning from Scotland, I had exactly four days left for final preparations for the secret dinner.  And then it finally was the 7th of December, the evening of Ries his 30th birthday dinner. During the day, my parents came all the way from the south of The Netherlands to help me cook. Later on, our friend Thomas helped out to “change” our living room in a dinner place and in the evening my dear friend Fay helped me serve all the food. Together with the ten men who were invited for the dinner, we were awaiting Ries and surprised him when he entered the room. After this big surprise, I served six courses with accompanying wine, whiskey and port throughout the evening. I think Ries had a great evening and looking back, I did too! It was so much fun organizing this!Dinner Ries

Christmas and New Years Eve

The weeks before Christmas remained as busy as ever. With family events, Christmas parties at work and a cosy dinner on Ries’s official birthday. Christmas Eve, we celebrated with just the two of us, we took a long walk through Amsterdam to see the beautiful Christmas trees and lights that make the city so cosy this time of the year. Christmas Day we celebrated with my parents, brothers and sister-in-law in Amsterdam. This was the first Christmas in four years that we were home and to be very honest a Christmas in our cold little country with family feels like a real Christmas! Boxing day we just relaxed. With the family of Ries, we will have a Christmas dinner mid-January.

We ended the year with friends Rolf and Jennifer. They have been living in Valkenswaard (South of The Netherlands) for a few months and invited us to their home. With delicious food, drinks, fun and a lot of games and fireworks we ended December 31 as we started the New Year very well: together with good friends!


Blog

As I wrote earlier, I published fewer blogs in November and December than I had originally wanted. I was simply too busy. Eventually, 14 blogs were published. By the way, did you know that you can always switch languages at the top of the menu page? Click on the Dutch flag if you prefer to read my blogs in Dutch. Incidentally, there may be spelling errors in an English blog, English is not my native language. If you see a mistake, just let me know, I’ll adjust it right away!

Top 3 best-read blogs this month:

  1. How to prevent/ cure food poisoning?
  2. Budget Tips: What did we spend in Guatemala?
  3. Travel Guide: Sailing in Belize with Raggamuffin

Charlotte Plans a Trip

Interviews

We have been interviewed a few times in the previous months and two of these interviews came online in November! Robert van Traveljunks asked us, among other things, about our tips for people who want to make a trip around the world. You can find our answer and the rest of the interview here (only in Dutch)!

The coworking space company Croissant asked us how we organize our travelling life and what our most memorable destination is. Here you will find the whole interview!

Instagram

On Instagram, we had two nice giveaways in December. You could win a coffee table book from Lonely Planet and we made two people happy with a nice travel book from Fernhweh. Didn’t win anything? No worries, soon more giveaways will follow! Follow us on Instagram for more travel inspiration and giveaways!


Discoveries in November and December

What kind of new things did I discover in November and December?

Films: Fantastic Beasts and Before the Flood
Around Christmas, there was suddenly much more time to spend on the couch with a blanket and a nice movie. Among other things, we saw Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, a film by the book from J.K. Rowling. A very nice movie perfect for this time of the year.

A movie that really impressed me was Before the Flood. This documentary, made by, among others, Leonardo DiCaprio, is about climate change and how global politics and commerce contribute negatively to this. The picture that the film paints is certainly not positive and made a big impression on me.

Books: The lives of Jan Six – Geert Mak
For Sinterklaas, I got a new e-reader (this one), the perfect occasion to start a few new books again. One of the books I read at the moment is the book The many lives of Jan Six. This book describes the history of a family that has been living in Amsterdam for decades. I really like to read in this way about my own city (we have been living in Amsterdam for more than six years now) and how it was experienced and changed over the past few centuries.

Food: Chocolate cake from De Drie Graefjes
Not something to make yourself and certainly not healthy, but definitely my number one in terms of food these two months, was the Turtle Cake from De Drie Graefjes. The Drie Graefjes is a phenomenon in Amsterdam. They have delicious red velvet cake, carrot cake and chocolate cake. I bought this chocolate cake for Ries his 30th birthday and wow it was so delicious! Filled with caramel and pecans and incredibly heavy!

App: Headspace
Meditating is something that I am very bad at. Sitting still for a moment and focusing only on my breathing without thinking about anything else, is something I simply cannot do. Or so I thought … until I discovered this app. With the app Headspace, you practice in a relaxed, down-to-earth way, how to meditate. Each session lasts a maximum of 10 minutes and is set up super practical. Even I can meditate with this app!


Favourite moments of November and December

  • The moment a school of dolphins joined our sailboat and swam with us for a while in Belize! This moment was so magical and a big dream coming true!
  • Hiking through the Highlands of Glen Coe in Scotland. It was cold, but it didn’t rain and while we were walking through the snow, the sun came out. The view of the mountains coloured orange-green in autumn, with white tops and everything was really beautiful!
  • When we surprised Ries and he entered the room completely flabbergasted. He was under the firm assumption that the toilet was overflowing (the excuse to lure him home) and before he saw us, he was cursing in the toilet.
  • A beautiful sweet little niece who was born a few days before Christmas! So small, cute and sweet, a little miracle!
  • Christmas and the relaxing days around it. In addition to a lot of fun during the Christmas season, it was also so nice to really relax. I spent most days sleeping, reading and typing new blogs at the Christmas tree!

Glencoe


Well and now it is already January. By far my least favourite month of the year, but hey let’s stay positive: the days are getting longer again! This month we have no trips planned, but we will have many weekends filled with dinners and birthdays! Next, to that, I have joined the ‘dry January’ hype, which means that those dinners are completely sober for me. A reset after alcohol infused December is not that bad, right?

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