I probably should have submitted today’s post for the Thailand Achiever’s Blog Hop earlier this week. The original theme was OnStage highlights. But then someone mentioned Eastern Palace sneak peeks so I went that direction instead. Looking through the blogs, I realized most of the demonstrators featured OnStage highlights. So, I’m a couple of days late. However, I still thought you might enjoy reading and seeing some of the photos from our adventure in Amsterdam.
Since I’ve “cashed out” of the last few incentive trips I’ve earned, Mike and I haven’t been on a good vacation in years. We were overdue and we loved our trip to Amsterdam. I love that Stampin’ Up! gives us an excuse to travel. If you didn’t know, Stampin’ Up! holds a semi-annual convention called OnStage. For the past couple of years they have rotated between the main markets: North America, South Pacific, and Europe. When the event is held in one of those markets, the others get smaller one-day local events that share some of the highlights from the main event.
It doesn’t take much to inspire me to travel. So, when I heard the live event was being held in Amsterdam and it was the event where I’d be celebrated for my 10 year Stampin’ Up! anniversary, I knew I wanted to attend the live event! Mike and I flew over a couple of days early and stayed a couple of days after and loved every single minute! I had been to Amsterdam on a whirlwind one-day trip over 10 years ago. I knew I wanted to spend more time exploring the city – and we did!
On our first day we spent time wandering, took in a canal tour, dined at a super fun restaurant where the servers serenaded us with some phenomenal opera, and tried a chocolate covered waffle (it’s all about the food for me). I was on a mission to get a waffle so I bought the first one I saw on the walk back to the hotel. I’ve been on Weight Watchers the past six months so it tasted really good. However, we quickly learned that they weren’t necessarily fresh or even baked on site.
Day two we walked, rode a train, took a bus, and found ourselves at Keukenhof. What is Keukenhof? It’s a gorgeous park that showcases over 7 million flowering bulbs including tulips! Hello! We were headed to Holland during Tulip Season. The one thing on my to-do list was to see tulips! We loved walking the grounds. Everywhere you turned there was a new variety of tulip. They were so pretty. And the park smelled glorious!
But, Keukenhof on took about 1/2 of the day so we spent the afternoon taking a second canal tour, toured a Diamond Factory, and walked through the Red Light District.
Day three was the first day of the conference. There were roughly 830 demonstrators in attendance. Most were from Europe as you might imagine. However, I believe there were 20-30 from the US, 8 from Canada, and a handful from the South Pacific. I actually knew a handful of demonstrators who were attending – most of whom I’d met through my Founder’s Circle Retreats or Incentive Trips. I also knew a few from Europe who I’d met through Facebook. It was so great to meet these inspiring women in person! But, I just loved to stand in the crowd and listen to the accents and languages. While some of us didn’t speak the same language (though most spoke English), stamping is universal. It was just like being at a convention in the states with swapping and selfies and recognitions and Prize Patrol.
I was curious to see how they’d distribute our catalogs since we were from different countries and spoke different languages. Well, they did it by country and ran around the conference room passing out over 800 catalogs in multiple languages and countries. It was only about a 2.5 hour session where we watched stamping presentations. The evening was the highlight. About 250 of us boarded buses to a high-end hotel for dinner, music, and dancing. It was a special dinner only for demonstrator leaders who’ve achieved a certain title. They spoil us at these events with a served 3-course meal, gorgeous centerpieces…..and free stamps and a gift! We were blessed to sit with a couple of demonstrator friends from Canada who also had their husband/fiance attend with them. I snagged this great photo of our table (taken by Sean Douglass) from Sara’s post on Facebook.
Day four and five brought more stamping presentations, more fun, and meeting up with more friends. The conference flew by! Here are some of my favorite selfies with new friends from the US, UK, Germany, and Canada. Whenever we’re asked what we think is the best part of being a Stampin’ Up! demonstrator – the majority of us immediately respond – RELATIONSHIPS! And it’s not just relationships with employees and demonstrators – I’ve formed so many lifelong friendships with so many of my customers.
After the conference was over, we still had a full day and a half to explore Amsterdam. We really loved the location of our hotel – even if it was within sight of several red-lit windows. The architecture, restaurants, sights, canals, and more were all steps away from our hotel. The best meal of the trip was at De Silveren Spiegel. And we only discovered it because it was across the street from our hotel and EVERYONE stopped to take photos of the building. Okay – it leaned…A LOT and was so photogenic! The restaurant was recently closed for five months for renovations. We considered ourselves so lucky that it had only re-opened a week or so before we arrived in Amsterdam. We chose to dine off of the tasting menu perfectly paired with fabulous wines. The plating was beyond words. That frame was even edible! At the end of the meal, the young (and very handsome) chef came out to chat with us. It was such an incredible experience that I’ll never forget.
I told you it’s all about the food, right? Well, we found a carnival being held at Dam Square. We loved sampling all of the local carnival food from waffles to bratwurst to stroopwaffels to french fries in cones to potato chips on a stick – it was all amazing! On our last day, we decided we should visit a museum so we hopped on a tram and visited the Rijksmuseum on Sunday morning. It was a gorgeous morning to walk around a new part of the city. We visited a couple of Record Stores, sampled Jenever, participated in a wine and cheese tasting, and ate more carnival food!
Wondering where I might be off to next? Well, our next Stampin’ Up! trip is a free trip for two to Thailand in July. I can’t wait! Thailand has been on my bucket list for close to 20 years. I’m so stinkin’ excited. Have you considered joining Stampin’ Up! so you can earn free trips or just have a tax-deductible vacation or to buy all of your stamps at a discount? I’d love to have you join my team!