everly abroad

Dear Faithful Readers,

I have so enjoyed this whole blogging thing lately. I’ve been writing about adoption, great books, prayer, being a stay-at-home daughter, singleness and dressing modestly. What you didn’t know was that I was keeping a big secret from you all along. Plans have been in the works for some time, but they weren’t finalized until just last night.

On April 3rd, I am flying out of Houston with my parents and my two youngest sisters and I won’t be back for nineteen days. In the meantime, I will be soaring around in airplanes and chugging along in passenger trains and seeing Europe for the first time in my life.

travel for travel's sake

“Meggie” and my parents had to return to Latvia one last time to get her permanent visa and we’re turning it into a bit of a vacation. I’ve been saving for months, hoping to go. Little did I know when I started saving that I would not only being seeing the beautiful country of my sister’s origin, but also taking a “fika” in the land of my mother’s ancestry, Sweden! And picking tulips in the country of our beloved Vincent van Gogh, The Netherlands! And taking a train through Germany and Austria where the hills are alive with the sound of music! And floating down the canals in a Venetian gondola! And having a lay-over in Moscow! And spending nearly a month abroad, like a character in a book.

Excuse me while I stare into the distance for a moment.

Nope, still don’t believe it.

I’m still pondering how to best invite you all on the journey with me. My instagram account is private, and probably staying that way (lots of little siblings pics appear there) but I may create a hashtag y’all can use to creep along with me. Either way, I intend to have a genuine BLAST in April and want to tell you all about it, already.

But for now, I have a couple more weeks of work left and some loose ends to tie up and would love to ask y’all a few questions as I prepare!

1. For those who have traveled by train in Europe, any advice?

2. To those who have traveled as or with 10-12 year olds internationally, any advice?

3. To those who have seen these specific cities (Amsterdam, Riga, Stockholm, Venice) what is a must-see/must-do?

4. What movies or books should we snag as we prepare for this trip??

5. IF I do create a hashtag, what should it be?


16 Responses to everly abroad

  1. Alex April 11, 2015 at 11:26 pm #

    Hi Everly,

    I don’t really remember how I stumbled across your blog, but thought I’d leave my 2 cents if you don’t mind! I’m English and have been to quite a bit of Europe. You’ve not chosen the most typical route, which I like! Of that list I’ve been to Amsterdam and Venice, both great destinations.

    Amsterdam, as mentioned, you obviously have to go to Anne Frank’s house, also the Van Gogh museum and I really enjoyed the National Maritime Museum. My favourite part of the trip was when we hired bikes and cycled along a river bank to an old mill (ask in the bike hire shop, they’ll direct you) and a cheese and clog making factory where we had a free tour and samples of the Dutch cheese. There were some really expensive bike tours you could go on, but we just did our own for much less and just as fun. Also we took a boat trip along the canal which was really lovely.

    Venice is beautiful, and virtually impossible not to get lost! We stayed about a 15min walk out of the centre near the Ospidale. The restaurants were much cheaper out there as it was much less touristy. San Marco square is beautiful and has lots of huge old buildings, definitely recommend going there. The Rialto Bridge is another top destination in the guide books, but I didn’t think it was all that exciting (everyone else seemed to though, so maybe don’t take my word for it). There are tonnes of cute little shops everyone which are great fun. We also took the bus (boat) to Murano, another island which is famous for glass making where we had a demonstration of the glass blowing. My main tip would be pay attention to the map cos it’s sooo easy to get lost!

    Hope you have an amazing time =) I’ve not made it over to the States yet, hopefully one day!

    • Everly Pleasant April 28, 2015 at 3:46 pm #


      Thank you for taking the time to write your comment! I had a great time in Europe and your advice proved true! Thanks again!
      Hope you’re able to see The States someday soon. I love it here. ;)


  2. Omily (Naomi Brignola) April 1, 2015 at 8:53 am #

    Trains here are pretty regular, so if you miss one it’s not a big deal, you’ll just have to wait a while for the next one. How long depends on where you are going and what time it is. Some trains run as often as every 15 minutes, others only every 3 hours.
    Then again, I’ve never taken overnight trains, those I’m sure don’t go so often :)
    Also, trains here are very bad with timing, so don’t be surprised if they have delays here and there.
    Any changes are anounced over loudspeakers, don’t even try to understand it if you don’t understand the language ;) Ask another passenger, or a conductor.

    I’ve traveled with babies – my own and my siblings – mostly, so no advice on 10-12 year old. It seems awesome since they can’t have a dirty diaper and they won’t throw tantrums when they miss naps ;) I would say buy a few new books they haven’t read that you know they will love. And a laptop with some movies they like on it.

    Amsterdam: Anne Frank’s house, and Corrie then Boom’s if you take the train to Haarlem
    Not Amsterdam, but a little over an hour with trains: Keukenhof. That’s one of the prettiest flower gardens in the Netherlands and April is the perfect time to go. Full of Tulips and more!
    Here is a link to their website, with information on how to get their from Amsterdam: http://www.keukenhof.nl/en/plan-your-visit/amsterdam/

    Venice: it’s best to buy a pass if you want to visit churches and museums. It’s also for public transport. http://www.veneziaunica.it/en/content/how-it-works
    (with this pass, you don’t have to wait in line either)

    Take layered clothes, it can be warm one day and cold the next. Especially a place like Venice with lots of water around: it can be icy cold! So layered stuff works best: you don’t have to take very much but have options for warm and cold weather. Also clothes that wash easy and don’t need to be ironed are handy!

    The hashtag should definately be #everlyabroad :) Very Jane Austen ;)

    And if you stop in Belgium, come see us :)
    Sorry to be so late, but maybe it’s still useful :)

  3. lizinstpete March 16, 2015 at 8:47 pm #

    It sounds absolutely magical, Everly! I’ve been to a slightly different mix of places. For example, I’ve been to Tallinn, Estonia as opposed to Riga, Latvia. It sounds like exploring Old Riga would make for a fun day, just as Old Tallinn is very charming. As far as having kids along, maybe think about your meal situation. I’m not a kid, but tend to turn into quite a grouch during a day of sightseeing with no lunch in sight. Also, I would check into the language situation/tourist friendliness of each place you’re going. I was in Helsinki recently, which is so much like any other modern European country, very easily navigable and many people speak English, yet there were things like grocery stores with the labels in Finnish, and it took a great amount of effort to make a simple purchase. In various countries I’ve had to use a ticket machine in other languages to ride a train or bus. Totally not a deterrent, just another survival skill you have to turn on. Sorry I didn’t answer your questions in order!

  4. Talle March 14, 2015 at 6:29 pm #

    1. Make sure you rest well at night. Since you will be doing a lot of energy draining activities you will want to be refreshed in the morning.

    2. In Amsterdam, go to the Anne Frank House, the Amsterdam Museum. In Venice, well you gotta ride in a gondola. Shop around in Venice, but be sure to carry maps with you (or your phone if it has a map app) because it is extremely easy to get turned around, since all the buildings and bridges look the same. Definitely try the gelato and crepes. There is a little crepe house about a mile from the station (sorry I don’t remember the name..) but they aren’t open on Tuesdays. Also there is the Saint Mark’s Basilica, but if I remember correctly you pay to see each room, but the court area is very nice.

    Number rule for travelling in Europe, let yourself ENJOY your trip, try not to worry too much about costs and your set schedule, be okay with being flexible, because chances are you will have to decide not to see something last minute.

    • Talle March 14, 2015 at 6:34 pm #

      Oh and as for travelling by train.. Most trains in Europe are not comfortable. Look into the Eurail and compare it with buying individual tickets.. Might be cheaper to do a Eurail, I did it and it was pretty good, only since you guys are leaving in a few weeks, you may not be able to order your reservations (if you need any), so make sure the train either doesn’t need reservations or you get your reservations as soon as you’re able to.

  5. Brenda Harris March 13, 2015 at 6:13 am #


  6. baileyelizabethb March 13, 2015 at 4:47 am #

    WHAAAAAT. That’s awesome! I’m a fan of #everlyabroad!!

  7. Jessiqua Wittman March 12, 2015 at 11:49 pm #

    sooo exciting!!!!!!!

  8. Miss S March 12, 2015 at 10:26 pm #

    wow! What a great blessing! :) Sweden has been on my list of places to visit since forever.

    Since you asked for book recommendations… Probably obvious, but Part II of Little Women, when Amy is abroad. If you and your sisters haven’t read the Flicka, Ricka, Dicka books, you might want to try to find them. They’re picture books set in Sweden. A little “young” for your sisters, maybe, but at 20 I enjoy them as much as I did at 5. Number the Stars by Lois Lowry (ok, it’s set in Denmark, but it’s about getting Jews to Sweden during WWII, so it counts as being about that part of the world, right?). Austria and the Sound of Music bring to mind The Story of the Trapp Family Singers. It’s a good bit different from the Sound of Music, but in many ways better. Reading it would, of course, necessitate re-watching The Sound of Music. ;) The Wheel on the School is set in the Netherlands I think, and would be about right for your sisters’ age group. If you can possibly get your hands on them, try the Chalet School books. They’re far from great literature, but fun reads with a European spin. I’m not a Mark Twain fan personally, but if you like him, Innocents Abroad might be a fun choice. Or anything by Henry James.
    That’s all I can come up with off the top of my head.
    …oh. You wanted books actually about those parts of the world or travel guides? Sorry, got nothin’. :P

    I agree with #everlyabroad
    I hope you have a marvelous time abroad!!

  9. Kalyn Brooke (@kalynbr00ke) March 12, 2015 at 5:39 pm #

    I’m so excited for you!! This is going to be the trip of a lifetime {and I’m super jealous!} Have a great time!

  10. Laura Jinkins March 12, 2015 at 5:11 pm #

    This honestly made me cry — in a good way! I’m so happy for you!!!!

  11. The Dutchess March 12, 2015 at 4:46 pm #

    And for advice and questions about Amsterdam-we live nearby-please feel free to ask..xoxo

  12. The Dutchess March 12, 2015 at 4:44 pm #

    That’s so wonderful..come visit me..:-)
    Whenever you need a place to stay..come our way..The Dutchess and Company.xoxo

  13. Natasha Metzler March 12, 2015 at 4:39 pm #

    #everlyabroad :)

  14. Alyssa B. March 12, 2015 at 4:35 pm #

    I have answers to 1 and 3. :) First of all, trains in Europe are pretty regular and flexible. If you miss one train, it’s not too difficult to get on another. I’ve even had times where the one I missed was slower than the next one! So, don’t freak out too much about catching a train unless you’re catching a flight in the airport that leaves shortly after that train arrives. Then, feel free to freak out. :) As for 3, I’ve only been to Amsterdam out of those cities, and even though the city itself didn’t make me fall in love, I never regretted going to Anne Frank’s house. It’s been turned into a museum, and it’s definitely not the most cheerful of things, but it makes her whole story that much more deep, real, and compelling. You really feel like you know her after touring. I also went to the Van Gogh museum. It’s huge, and it took 2ish hours to see everything. The gift shop is pretty expensive, and I regret not being able to get anything from it. Also, a canal tour of Amsterdam would be lots of fun. We did one and it was definitely a really nice way to tour the city (without being stuck in the cold).

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