A Night at Zoku, Amsterdam

I have a confession. . . . I am a nomadaholic. I get such a rush from hopping on a plane, traveling to a new destination, and exploring the unknown. Put simply, I am addicted to travel, and I have built my life around this passion – I work at Booking.com as a Brand Communications Manager, where I spend my days creating travel ads and content. I live in Amsterdam, a hub for European exploration. I write for multiple travel publications around the web, sharing city tips and helping others plan their adventures. And of course, I love spending time writing here, at Amsterdam & Beyond, my beloved travel journal :) Because of my passion and lifestyle, I can usually be found boarding a plane at least once or twice a month, whether I’m traveling for work or for leisure. I’ve flown with dozens of airliners, and have stayed at hundreds of hotels (part and parcel of the job!) But recently I stayed at a new kind of hotel, one I had not come accross in my adventures before.IMG_5798

Zoku is located in the heart of Amsterdam’s historic eastern Canal District, on the Weesperstraat (very close to the Amstel). While most hotel rooms are built for sleeping, Zoku’s loft designs shift the focus from the bed to the living space, with a four­ person table that can be used to work, dine, entertain, or just hang out. As a business traveler, this is a dream come true! No more awkward, cramped, late-night meetings around a bed! As a travel writer and marketer, I was invited to spend a night at Zoku ahead of their grand opening, along with a few friends. Continue reading

Road Trip to Antwerp, Belgium

Road trip, road trip, ‘bout to go on that road trip!! >> This sentence was totally inspired by our latest Booking.com commercial, which features Rebel Wilson and Keegan-Michael Key – it is way too catchy for my mental health (you can check it out here – I can’t stop singing!!) In timely fashion, the beau and I also decided to embark on our own long weekend road trip down to Belgium . . . cue Booking.com road trip theme song!! IMG_5735 copyAs mentioned in my last post, our first stop was in Lisse where we roamed the stunning tulip fields, but as with all great road trips, there were of course multiple stops along the way :) After frolicking through fields of flowers for a few hours, we decided to hit the beach for lunch. The day was HOT, and the heat wave had us excited to sip Raddlers and dip our toes in the sea. We didn’t route out our beach trip out ahead of time, but instead just drove west, and somehow landed at the beautiful Noordwijk aan Zee. We hit up the first seaside restaurant we came across (which was De Koele Costa), kicked off our shoes, and ordered some frosty beverages and a feast to share. Continue reading

Visiting the Tulip Fields in Holland

If you follow me on Instagram or Snapchat, you might have noticed that my travel schedule has been (for lack of a better a phrase) pretty f*cking hectic lately. In April I had guests or work travel every week, with the exception of one stunning long weekend, right at the end of the month. My boyfriend, who I had been neglecting due to work obligations and guests, sweetly suggested that we enjoy the long weekend together. And so I took a red eye back from NYC, napped for a few short morning hours, and packed yet another bag. Thankfully, we had decided to forgo planes and enjoy a mini-European road trip, with an overnight in Antwerp, Belgium and some spontaneous pit stops along the way. Road trippppp! :)IMG_5592Springtime is my favorite season in Holland. In the spring, the weather is often warmer and more reliably sunny than in the summer, and!! you have the tulips. Miles and miles of endless colors paint the horizon, as Holland’s flagship crop begins to bloom. As Kai had never seen the Dutch tulips in all their vivid glory (which I’ve done before, many times! here and here) I suggested that we take our first road trip pit stop in Lisse, where the rainbow-colored tulip fields are both abundant and magnificent.

If you are also interested in visiting the tulips in Holland, here are some tips on when to visit, what to do, and how to get there (along with some photos from our adventure!) Continue reading

Down South in Alabama

Last month, I had my first Booking.com shoot in Mobile, Alabama. Why Alabama, of all places? We are working with Jordan Peele and Chelsea Pretti for our brand campaign (check out our first TV spot here!) and Jordan was already down in Alabama working on another project. And so we flew the crew down to Alabama to take advantage of Jordan’s off-time over the weekend, and shoot the first two TV ads for our campaign.IMG_3653
It was a whirlwind production. We had an intense 48 hours capturing bespoke assets for social media, display,  and of course, TV. While the trip was mostly work work work, there was a bit of play here and there – I’m used to being an Account Director, which is a busy role, especially during production. You have to work with the agency’s creative and production teams, collaborate with third party production partners (and there can be multiple partners, all with different skill sets, such as print, film, event, technology, etc) and on top of all that, you are responsible for managing all communications and approvals with the client. However, in my new role at Booking.com, I AM the client, which means I’m shielded from many of the stressful problems that typically pop up during a production. I was looped in for approvals as needed, once all of the bigger issues were ironed out – which was strange and refreshing, as I am accustomed to working in the heart of the fire. And so I had time to eat lunch by the pool and answer e-mails from colleagues back in Amsterdam, and even explore the hotel grounds a bit. Continue reading

Easter in Texel, The Netherlands

Usually I spend the long Easter weekend in London (see here and here) but this year, I decided to switch it up. I’m headed over to the UK for the Royal Ascot in June, so I’ll still be seeing all of my London friends then, on a slightly belated schedule this year :) And to be honest, I’ve been traveling so much for work as of late, the thought of cramming all of my belongings into yet another suitcase, braving Schiphol, and hopping on an airplane in my downtime sounded tiring and unappealing. And so as the long Easter weekend slowly crept up, I decided to stay local. IMG_4586Luckily, my guy friend ;) was also stark on plans, and so we started toying around with the idea of taking a road trip up to Texel, an island in the north of Holland marked by endless dunes and white sandy beaches.  Continue reading

A Progressive Dinner of Awesomeness

It’s been a while since my last post, and I miss you guys! Funny enough, despite the lack of new content on here, my site traffic continues to climb. It’s like you don’t even care that I’m not here anymore! Amsterdam & Beyond is thriving without me, which is both flattering and alarming. When did my baby go and get so grown up?!

On a more serious note, it really has been a while. I don’t want to make excuses, but real life has been pretty freakin’ awesome lately, and so that’s what I’ve been doing. Living. And my neglect isn’t focused solely on Amsterdam & Beyond – it’s all social media. I used to be a Pinterest queen and an Instagram junkie, with the occasional Facebook post just for giggles. Now, I rarely spend down time on my computer. I prefer to laugh, dance, kiss, talk, drink wine, eat sweets, run, and explore. I have a backlog of photos from the past few months, but have barely made a dent in editing them. My *goal* is to blog once a week. If I can keep up that pace, I will be happy :) So let’s see if I can get any better in April!IMG_4036These photos are a few snaps from a dinner the girls and I concocted last weekend. Have you ever heard of a progressive dinner? It’s a food tour through several houses, where one course is enjoyed at each stop! We thought it would be a fun idea for a Saturday night, as a prequel to some dancing :) And so we rallied eight ladies, four bringing beverages and four offering up their homes to host and cook! Read through to the end for some tips if you’re looking to throw your own progressive dinner party :) Continue reading

The Other Portland, Oregon

As I hail from Vacationland (aka Maine), the word Portland immediately conjures thoughts of a quaint harbor city with numerous lighthouses, delicious clam chowder, quaint cobblestone streets, sunshine, lobster, boutique shops, heaps of snow, and buckets upon buckets of oysters. I’ve shared many blog posts featuring my beloved Portland, Maine (here, here, and a beautiful summertime post here) but I’ve never ventured across the country (3,186 miles to be exact) to visit the other Portland. Apparently, over there they all have beards, eat a lot of kale, and like to bike everywhere. There are feminist bookstores, kitsch doughnut shops, lots of flannel, and microbreweries on almost every block (or so I’ve learned from the show Portlandia). So last week, when work shipped me off to Portland, Oregon for eight days, I was excited to see if all the other Portland-hype was true (and eat a lot of doughnuts). StreetAs I’ve never been to Portland (Oregon) I reached out to a few friends from the area for recommendations. Slowly, I compiled a noteworthy Portland bucket-list that included everything from eating sustainable sushi to visiting the world’s largest independent bookstore. I arrived in Portland on a Sunday afternoon, and went for a long run to get acclimated with the city.  Continue reading

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