A Weekend in Berlin, Part 2

So let me tell you about my party experience in Berlin. Amie and I have caused midnight mayhem in many European cities. We’ve had crazy nights out in Lisbon, Istanbul, Paris, and Amsterdam, just to name a few. But we knew Berlin would be something else. In the 90’s, all of the best parties in Berlin were nomadic – thousands upon thousands had fled Berlin to escape the firm grip of communism, leaving behind empty houses and abandoned industrial buildings. When the Berlin Wall fell, Berliner’s rejoiced, and the once abandoned homes and buildings became a backdrop for the city’s triumphant party scene. Twenty years later, Berlin’s once elusive nightlife is now a permanent fixture in the city’s global persona. Iconic night clubs such as Berghain and Sisyphos draw party-goers from around the globe, while trendy cocktail bars such as Neue Odessa and Green Door serve distinguished cocktails for locals and tourists alike.IMG_2291To say that Amie and I were excited to experience Berlin’s nightlife would be a vast understatement. We’d intentionally enjoyed a week of rest and relaxation in Italy, recharging before an epic long weekend in Berlin. As mentioned in my last post, Amie and I kicked off our Friday evening at Txokoa, where we sipped monstrous G&Ts and enjoyed a rich dinner. Continue reading

A Weekend in Berlin, Part 1

As Germany is right next to Holland, I’ve crossed the border for many jovial long weekends away (read: here, here, and here). However, I somehow always seem to miss out on the Berlin excursions. Berlin is a quick 1.5 hour plane ride from Amsterdam, and often the fare is dirt cheap (around €50). I have friends who go for long party weekends, business trips, shopping adventures, or a simple change of scenery. And while I’ve been invited to Berlin a multitude of times, something else always seems to pop up!

When I got let go from my job a few months ago, I made a list of the places I wanted to visit in Europe before I left, just incase. There were ten places on the list, some more costly and exotic than others. I then listed them in order, starting with the top few I HAD to go to before I (hypothetically) left Europe, the others falling somewhere behind. I vowed to make it to at least two or three spots on the list before my visa was up. Guess what the top two were? Cinque Terre and Berlin :) If you’ve been following along on the blog, I’m sure you’ve read all about my Cinque Terre adventures. In fact, I was so taken by the stunning Italian countryside that I am planning a fall-2016 trip to Tuscany, the Amalfi Coast, and Rome with some of the ladies in my family! And man, I can’t wait to go back :) Berlin was also ticked off of my European travel bucket list in mid-October, while Amie was visiting.IMG_1886 copyWe flew straight from Pisa to Berlin (believe it or not, a €24 plane ride), and quickly switched from a beachy-sunshine mentality to an urban-exploration mindset.  Continue reading

Hello Happy 2016

I wasn’t going to write a ‘Happy New Year!’ blog post. In fact, I finally have the promised Berlin series all lined up and ready to publish :) But I spent some time this evening talking to my mom about resolutions, and now, here I am at midnight, clicking away in the dark, inspired to share some big dreams and stupid regrets. Home

So let’s kick this post off by saying, holy guacamole, 2015 was awesome. And not for any of the reasons I expected it to be. This year has been perception-shifting. Let’s reflect on my New Year’s post from this time last year . . .

I’m so bad at dreams. To have dreams is to put your faith and heart into something that you know might not come true. I’ve absolutely given up on dreams – on trusting what I want to future to be. – Jan 4th, 2015

Reading this quote makes me choke with sadness. It’s true, 2014 was a hard year for me. Many of my dreams turned out to be illusions. And so I went into 2015 mildly content, but without expectations, hard, and void of hope. Continue reading

Corniglia & Manarola, Italy

Hi friends, happy Wednesday! It’s been a while since my last post. Lately, I haven’t been spending a lot of time on my computer, which means I haven’t been very diligent in editing photos, and thusly, posting on the blog. I’ve been wrapped up in some cool real-world things, such as securing a new job (more on this exciting news later), training for a half-marathon, making art, and enjoying the holiday season. Last night I zoomed Stateside for Christmas. I’m currently sitting on a bed in my parent’s house, fending off cats and waiting for a suitable hour to get a cup of tea (because it’s only 5am – ohh hey hey jet lag). I am hoping to share one more Berlin post with you this week before we all get swept up by Christmas cheer. Let’s see if I can stick to this goal! Today, I thought I’d share my remaining Italy photos. So far in Cinque Terre, Amie and I had explored Vernazza, Monterosso al Mare, and Riomaggiore, saving two of the most dreamy villages for last. 10408869_805372874830_3375569558160099926_nManarola (above) is the second smallest village in Cinque Terre, renown for winemaking and seafood. Geographically, it’s not hard to see why. The village is perched on a cliff, dangling in a slew of pastel colors above the sea. Small fishing boats chug in and out of the harbor, towing in the day’s catch and providing fresh fare to the village. While I’d been told that Manarola was hands-down the most beautiful village in Cinque Terre, our first stop of the day would be Corniglia, the only village in Cinque Terre that is not directly adjacent to the sea.
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A Morning in Riomaggiore, Italy

Before I start detailing the beauty of Riomaggiore, I wanted to wish y’all a HAPPY THANKSGIVING! It’s probably not the best day to publish a blog post, as I assume you’re all busy cooking turkey and sharing a big dinner table with family and friends. Alas, Thanksgiving is not observed here in Holland, and I live thousands of miles away from my family. So instead of eating mashed potatoes and gravy, I am enjoying me time, computer time, healthy time, and thankful reflection time. I don’t want to veer off topic too much (Riomaggiore is a must!) but I do want to document my thanks. I am so, so thankful, for a lot of things. And by things I mean people.

Last February I was having a particularly shitty night. A girlfriend dragged me out to the bar downstairs (yes I live above a bar), and forced me to have fun (as friends do). It was there I did something I’ve never done before. I picked up a girl in the bar. Her name was Kira and she had moved to Amsterdam only two days before. That night, Kira had wandered into Flamingo alone, intent on making new friends, assuaged by a stiff drink. She overheard my conversation, asked if I was American (yes indeed) and proclaimed a jovial hello. I knew immediately that Kira was my kind of person – fun, positive, and bursting with energy. After sharing what turned into an epic night out, we made plans to grab dinner the following week, and what I know will be a lifelong friendship was born.

Kira was my American gateway drug. She soon introduced me to Laura, who had also just moved to Amsterdam. Coincidentally, the three of us all live in de Pijp, and thus was the dawn of the Friendship Triangle. Kira also introduced me to her American friend Michael. Unique, hilarious, and incredibly genuine, Michael is the kind of guy you feel lucky to be around. He is always welcoming in new house guests, whether it’s old friends from back home or a new happy face from the train station. And so via Michael I’ve literally made dozens of new friends – people who are intriguing and kind, from all over the globe.

I really don’t know what this year would have been like if I’d never bumped into that girl in the bar. But I think that’s when you know life is right – when you simply can’t imagine it any other way.

Now that you’ve suffered through my verbal cheese, I’d love to share with you some delectable Italian eye candy. Feast on this . . . IMG_1431Riomaggiore is the first village you will come across when traveling from La Spazia through Cinque Terre. Riomaggiore is known throughout the region for producing an amazingly sweet and delicious white wine called Sciacchetrà. They also have a welcome tendency to make homemade Trofie al Pesto with chestnut flour, creating a rich and creamy twist to Conque Terre’s most beloved dish. But perhaps even more notable than the culinary delights hailing from the region are the historic rainbow houses, speckled throughout the landscape. In Riomaggiore, lush, steep ridges climb up and away from the sea, showcasing an array of coloured façades and Cinque Terre’s telltale bright green shutters. Continue reading

Hiking to Monterosso al Mare, Italy

Happy Wednesday! I have another Italy installment for you, which is rather timely, as I just spent the evening cooking a massive Italian feast for friends. I really miss Italy. The sunshine, the wine, the pastel-colored villages, and above all, the rich and flavorful cuisine. Luckily, I own a pasta machine, and can *try* to re-create some of Italy’s finest fare in my own kitchen. Tonight I whipped up an Italian storm, rolling out fresh linguini, homemade pesto, warm prosciutto with herbs, and a light caprese salad. I’m currently feeling pasta-drunk – that post-carb haze that smothers your eyes and soul after a fantastic meal with good company, fresh pasta, and copious amounts of wine. But enough about tonight – let’s chat Cinque Terre! IMG_1126There are five stunning villages in Cinque Terre, and as Amie and I explored Vernazza on our first day in Italy, day number two involved a breathtaking hike in the sunshine to the most northern village, Monterosso al Mare.  Continue reading

Vernazza, Italy

For the past 18 months, I’ve been dreaming of Italy. Shortly after my breakup with B, I had an irrational brainwave (probably inspired by a Pinterest board) imploring me to roam the Bel Paese (or beautiful country, in Italian). I spelled out the dream holiday previously in this post – the trip would involve exploring Tuscany, grooving my way through Rome, and splashing in the sea on the Amalfi coast. At the time of my fantasy, I did not know Cinque Terre existed. If you did not know Cinque Terre existed, you are in for a delight. IMG_0761Cinque Terre means The Five Lands in Italian, and is comprised of five stunning seaside villages: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. Hiking trails and trains scale the lush, hills of the Italian Riviera, connecting the villages. Boats also ferry between the villages, however a major part of Cinque Terre’s charm lies in the fact that the villages aren’t quite accessible by car. Olive and lemon trees speckle the hills, terraces run along the rugged, steep landscape, overlooking the sea, and seafood is plentiful in the local cuisine. Essentially, Cinque Terre is an Italian lover’s dream, and so when Amie made her semi-annual pilgrimage to Amsterdam, we booked an inception vacation (a vacation inside Amie’s vacation) to the stunning Italian Riviera, to visit none other than Cinque Terre. Continue reading

Jordaan Food Tour, Amsterdam

A few weeks ago, Eating Amsterdam reached out and asked if I would like to join in on one of their food tours. Typically, I would not think to hop on a food tour in my own city – I’ve been forking my way around Amsterdam for the past five years, and by now I’m well acquainted with all things edible and Dutch, ranging from raw herring to my beloved stroopwafels. However, when I checked out Eating Amsterdam’s website, I noticed that they had a Jordaan Food Tour, which sparked my interest, as I’m not nearly as familiar as I’d like to be with the food scene in the Jordaan. As a de Pijp local, I thought it would be fun to discover the culinary gems of another neighborhood. IMG_0387Fast forward a few e-mails, and I’m booked into Eating Amsterdam’s 4-hour Jordaan Food Tour, featuring a guided walk through the Jordaan neighborhood and a substantial meal in the form of a dozen delicious Dutch tastings.  Continue reading

Cats, Murder, and Taylor Swift aka my 29th Birthday Party

It’s typical to make a wish on your birthday. Prosperity. Happiness. Ponies. While I didn’t quite know what I wanted for twenty-nine, I knew I wanted it to be memorable. And so, after a bit of deliberation, I decided to kill off my friends, one by one. I wanted excitement, intrigue, and above all, murder. I also wanted to be Taylor Swift for the evening. Happy somewhat-irrational birthday to me!IMG_0523The wish wasn’t entirely preposterous. My good friend Michael and I had been toying with the idea of throwing a murder mystery dinner party for quite some time. Michael is a fantastic host and owns a massive dinner table (bigger than the table I celebrated at Spaghetteria last year) and as of late, I’ve had a bit of free time on my hands and have been *dying* to pen a murder mystery. And so Michael and I joined forces to throw a deadly-awesome somewhat-bloody twenty-ninth birthday party extravaganza for moi!  Continue reading

Twenty-Eight Tidbits of Wisdom

When I was twenty-seven, everything fell apart. I’d had a lot of the future gingerly mapped out, and my life took a drastic detour. I spent the remainder of the year trying to pull myself together, breathing but not really living. I turned 28 at a table surrounded by girlfriends and glowing sparklers, and wished for the year to be one of the best. It went by in a whirl. There were dreamy trips to Istanbul and Munster, Norway and St. Tropez. There were unplanned midnight trips to the emergency room, accompanied by great friends and an onslaught of bubbles until the sun returned. There were ups and downs at work, goodbyes and new beginnings.

Twenty-eight was a coming of age year. I learned how to live on my own. Shop for one (aka thrive on predominantly hummus). Talk to strangers. Set a mouse trap. Fix my bike chain. I gained confidence and friends, new beliefs and dreams. To celebrate a new year of life (holy-cow-twenty-nine-balls approached fast!) I’ve spent some time (while sprawled out, sipping wine on a balcony in Italy) compiling twenty-eight tidbits of wisdom. Some lessons were served hard, while others were lingering and long. Here are a select few from this past year of life.

1. Not all relationships are fairytales. Enjoy them for what they are. Some are for two weeks, some are for two years, and some will feel like two eternities. Time does not define quality. Find meaning in what you do and who you’re with, and simply enjoy the ride.

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