Wednesday, 7 May 2014

European Adventures

It's back to porridge today after a fantastic weekend in Germany & Holland. The adventure started on Saturday morning at 4am when Callum and I headed off in the darkness for a 6.45am flight to Amsterdam. A train from Amsterdam to Dusseldorf had us reunited with my friend and her family by lunchtime and the fun began with the kids leaping into the local outdoor 'freibad' and Cora and I heading for a sneaky 'alt bier' at a pub in the nearby village (wearing pretty much what I said I would wear on my last post - except the trainers came instead of the brogues)


image


The next day, there was a rugby tournament and Callum was thrilled to hear that he was eligible to play with the U10's. He was a useful addition to the team, scoring 11 tries in the 4 matches, which went a good way towards helping the team win the tournament.  Afterwards, while the kids hit the pool again with Cora's husband, we cycled a 14 mile round trip into the city centre of Dusseldorf along beautiful tree-lined avenues and wide cycle and pedestrian friendly paths, along the River Rhine. I borrowed Cora's Scholl sandals as I hadn't quite broken in my Boden sandals after lots of walking the day before and her jacket, as the mac isn't very bike friendly.
image
White Top - DeJa Vu
Jeans - Maison Scotch c/o Feather & Stitch


We had a sneaky glass of the local liqueur, Killepitsch...not the best idea when in charge of a bike in a foreign country I will admit!


image


Monday saw us take the tram into the city again for a bit more sightseeing & shopping - with the kids.


image
image
Bird Print Trousers - Zara (SS13)
Denim Jacket - M&S (SS12)
Cream Cowl Neck Top - Austin Reed from DeJa Vu
Blue Sandals & Cross Body - Boden (SS13)
Necklace - School Gate Style Shop


So I'm sure you can take a guess at how shopping with two 10-year olds went?! I did however manage to pick up some man repelling Birkenstocks at the Birkenstock shop. It was pretty amazing being in the actual shop - the selection was incredible!


image
image


I'd already decided that I either wanted the double strap Arizona or the toe post Gizeh. What I discovered in-store is that you can buy most of the best selling Birks in leather or textile upper - a consideration if you're comparing prices. I didn't like the textile, though it felt lovely and soft, it's not going to be as hardwearing and the price difference wasn't significant enough. You can also opt for a hard or soft footbed in some of the styles, but I didn't find a huge difference between these.


image
image


After trying on many pairs - so many, that Callum actually fell asleep on the couch in the shop - I ruled out the Gizeh but I couldn't decide which colour to get in the Arizona. The white was too much, the black was quite heavy looking and the navy wasn't available in my size. Then the shop assistant brought out the basalt colour - a dark grey nubuck leather and I was sold!


image
Birkenstock Arizona in Basalt Nubuck Leather - Birkenstock Shop
image


And yes, they are a bit cheaper in Germany. I paid €54.95 for them and they retail at £64.95 on the Birkenstock UK site. But as with most things, a bit of googling and ebaying may get you a pair cheaper.  Size wise, I am usually either a 39 or 40 in sandals but in the Birks I was definitely a 39.


Shopping wise,  I didn't get anything else in Germany apart from presents for the kids. School items like stationery, are gorgeous over there so I was able to pick up lots of nice practical bits for the girls, like gym-kit bags and pencil cases. Generally speaking, the Germans spend more money on quality items. They had a range of school bags in the department store we visited and I honestly think they would last the full 7 years in primary school - they were strong, waterproof, practical and €100! And that same trend was visible in home wares and shoe shops. Though having said all that, Primark just opened in the city and it was mobbed on the first day. I had a quick look in a few other shops and I found Zara cheaper - most of the GBP prices were in EUR which equates to about a 15% difference. If it wasn't for Easyjet and Ryanair's extortionate luggage prices, we'd all shop more abroad I reckon....a blessing in disguise perhaps?!


Our last day abroad started with an early train trip back to Amsterdam, which left us with 5 hours to spend in the city. It was the perfect length of time and I managed to steer my 10 year old clear of most of the adult themes of this city...though I did get asked about a Hello Kitty t-shirt that on closer observation (thinking of it for his sisters) turned out to be Hello something completely different that rhymes with Kitties. I wore a similar outfit to what I wore on my last post, with the layered denim jacket (it was cool in Amsterdam!) and substituting my breton top for the white boho style top I picked up in DeJa Vu (new favourite shop!)
image
image
We stayed mostly to the west of the city where there are lots of pretty canals and bridges and after a boat trip and a long walk around that area, we finished up with a pre-booked visit to the Anne Frank house and museum. Even on a Tuesday afternoon, there was a queue of about 100 people who hadn't pre-booked so we were glad we'd planned ahead. We were brought past all the crowds and went in a separate door to start our tour exactly at the time we'd booked it. Instead of finding it depressing (which is why I'd never visited on either of my two previous trips to the city), I found the Anne Frank museum moving and inspiring. It's of course sad, especially watching the videos of her friend and her father (who survived) but overall, it's an immensely powerful place and seeing the throngs of young people there, I was struck by the legacy this brave young woman left behind her.


Back to the airport for our flight to Belfast and by 9.30pm last night, we were home again. I wore a pedometer while we were away and on average each day, we walked 14,000 steps so it's fair to say we slept well last night in our own beds!


I've load of posts to catch up on this week so I'll be back tomorrow with a fab breton striped jacket!


Ax


Share:

17 comments

  1. Looks like you had an amazing time, how lovely to have all that time with your son. The Birkenstock shop looks amazing, I have the Arizona in black, but not worn yet. Come on sun!
    Abbi x

    ReplyDelete
  2. Sounds like you have a lovely trip Avril. I think you made the right choice colour wise with the birks, a great in-between shade. Callum may not forget that trip though after falling asleep and those t-shirts for the girls, where's the picture ......?!?! x

    ReplyDelete
  3. Ingrid NcCarroll7 May 2014 at 23:11

    Curious to know why you ruled out Gizeh please? After many years of Madrids, I have taken delivery of Gizehs in silver this week...

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi Ingrid, they just didn't really suit my foot shape as my foot is quite wide at the front and I felt they made my whole foot look bigger....but mind you, looking back over the photos, I like them more than I did on the day. If I'm totally honest, the kids were melting my head, all the birkenstocks started to look the same after I'd tried on 25 pairs and I couldn't think straight! I'm relieved I'm still happy with my purchase as it could have been one I ended up regretting - lol. Hope you get to wear yours soon x

    ReplyDelete
  5. Wow, what a great mini-break you both had. I love the idea of cycling everywhere (with regular pit stops of course). Got to be honest I'm still not feeling the Birks love, I'm trying, I really am but it's just not happening for me. You packed so well Avril, glad you had a fab time x

    ReplyDelete
  6. I lived in Dusseldorf for a year and you've captured the city very well. Healthy lifestyle, good food and drink, good shopping and Amsterdam on your doorstep. They earn more and have better weather too! The real Germany is very different from our stereotypes.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Saw you in negen straaten area of Amsterdam on tues but didn't say hello because I thought I was mistaken because you'd posted about being in dusseldorf. I live in Brussels and it was my first shopping trip there on my own and I got some fab stuff in Cos. Shame about the weather!
    !

    ReplyDelete
  8. Oh my goodness Charlotte! I wish you had...and I hope I wasn't stuffing my face with ice-cream at the time!! Yes, we flew into Amsterdam as there's a direct flight from Belfast and the times were good. So glad you had a good shopping trip - we got soaked going back to the station but the day up to then wasn't too bad. Wished I could have shopped but time was tight and it wouldn't have been fair on Callum. I did peep briefly into Zara to see how much my yellow coat is in Europe! Will definitely be back - I had forgotten how beautiful the city is x

    ReplyDelete
  9. Thank you Helen - that's so lovely to hear. I really could see myself living there...I found people so polite and kind and how amazing to be able to drive to so many other European cities within a few hours! x

    ReplyDelete
  10. What a fabulous trip and so nice to have some one to one time with your Son, especially in a different country. I would love to visit Anne Frank museum.
    I have the Gizeh Birkenstock and have worn them every year for the past 5 years!!! They have walked miles, even mountain walks.....I had no idea so many people don't like them and think them ugly. :-) oh well, fashion!
    Love your choice Avril, the colour is lovely, xx

    ReplyDelete
  11. Looks like so much fun! Lee and I have wanted to go to Germany for so long and bike all about the place like tourists <3 I LOVE THOSE BIRD TROUSERS Avril!! Yay for the wee man too with all his tries x

    ReplyDelete
  12. Loving those Birkies Avril!! What a fab colour!! The new DeJa Vu top looks pretty special too!! Sounds like you had a lovely trip! xx

    ReplyDelete
  13. Sounds like an amazing trip! I've been to the Anne Frank house and found it incredibly moving also ... how could you not? I absolutely adore your stone necklace (reminds me of the Anthropologie one that Kat has) and am trying to figure out a justification for ordering!!! The Birkenstocks however?? I dunno! I have yet to come 'round to the whole fugly shoe trend :)

    ReplyDelete
  14. Hi Avril,

    I'm so glad you enjoyed Amsterdam and the Anne Frank museum. It is a very good thing you got to see it together with your son.

    Now I also understand why you tweeted that you considered bringing the necklace to Amsterdam! I'm glad you sent it by mail though, because I've already worn it quite a bit and I love it. It also matches well with both my pairs of Birkenstocks, the shiny black Piazza's and silver Mayari's ;-). Aren't they just soooo comfortable?

    Keep up the great blogging!

    Jantine

    ReplyDelete
  15. Cous Cous and Cork Wedges14 May 2014 at 12:35

    What an amazing weekend! It so lovely you were all reunited so soon & what an adventure for your boy! Love the colour of your birks & they will go with loads too! xx

    ReplyDelete
  16. Hi Avril!
    Looks like such a fun trip :) I loved your outfits. I was wondering where did you get the lovely bird print pants & the trench coat? They're both such fun styles.
    Thanks,
    B

    ReplyDelete
  17. Hi there - thanks! The trousers are Zara SS13 and the trench is from Heatons - current season! Avril x

    ReplyDelete

I love reading your comments and will reply as soon as I can if you have a specific question. If for any reason, you are unable to leave a comment, just drop me an email at avril@alifetostyle.com or leave a comment on the A Life to Style Facebook Page! Thank you xx

© a life to style | All rights reserved.
Blogger Template Designed by pipdig