Romance in Rome

As bummed as I was to say goodbye to my family after our amazing Italy trip, I was thankful I had the opportunity to spend the long weekend with my lover in Rome :) My family left on Friday, and the following Monday was a bank holiday, which meant that when Kai flew in on Thursday night, we could spend four whole days together exploring one of my new favorite cities. Kai and I have never really been on a trip together for more than 4 nights, so I really savor these mini excursions we have together :) I spent a lot of time in my last post talking about Rome’s cultural sights, as I ticked most of the main tourist attractions off the list with my family. My time with Kai was a lot different – we didn’t buy tickets or stand in any lines, rather we walked around the city, hand in hand, eating ice cream and getting lost. We walked down small side streets that beckoned to us, and stopped for croissants and coffee when we pleased. We drank cocktails on rooftops, and rented a little buggy to pedal around in the park. That weekend in Rome was HOT (mid 80’s) so on one day we said addio to the hot streets of Rome and hit up a pool in paradise. I didn’t take as many photos, I didn’t really document the restaurants or shops we stopped at, and we spent a lot of time just enjoying each other’s company. It was truly a romantic dream weekend in Italy, and I had the best time. Continue reading

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Rome, Italy con la mia Famiglia

Ciao friends and happy new year!! I hope you’re all starting 2018 off right, with great family, friends, food and perhaps even a dose of travel?? I am nearing the end of my Italy saga, which is exciting because I have a few fun posts to share from the fall and winter. I would really love to get caught up on blogging in the coming weeks – I had such a blast in Austria over New Year’s, and I would love to get back into sharing content with you while it’s fresh in my memory and heart :) That said, I also have a hugely busy January kicking off, with travel to NYC and the Dominican Republic, followed by my annual company conference and party here in Amsterdam, so by the end of January I know I’ll be beat and so ready for some hibernation! I am looking forward to hanging at home on dark nights, drinking red wine and doing puzzles – maybe even binging on some Netflix. I also can’t wait to make a big winter fruit salad with fresh produce from the Albert Cuyp Market, and maybe even some hearty slow cooker meals, but those dreams will have to wait a few weeks until I have some down time in Amsterdam.

I am starting to compile a few New Years resolutions, and I will definitely share them here with you once I’ve given it some thought, but overall I would love this year to be about me. Ha – that sounds very self centered, and truly I don’t mean it that way ;) I make a living producing travel content, and I spend a lot of my personal time on social media and blogging. And while I LOVE being a creator vs a consumer, I also want to take violin lessons, and make it to yoga more often, and just do things that wont really have an impact on my professional or social media life, but will make me a better, happier me. I downloaded Moment on my phone, and it was really an eye opener to see how often I was spending staring at my iPhone screen. Granted, 75% of that time is typically for work related purposes, but I hate that I browse social media while I’m standing in line for my coffee, or as a ‘too lazy to get out of bed’ activity in the morning. There are a lot of things I love about social media (and to be honest, I could never quit completely because of my job) but I am often torn between sharing moments I love and that mean something to me vs wanting my feed to look professional and uniform and creatively cohesive. Right now my blog and social media ‘career’ has really taken a back seat to my job (which is really a fusion of travel and advertising, so I am totally okay with this!) so I am happy to keep my content ‘for me’ for now – but there is this niggling voice that’s poking me to get back into marketing myself and my blog, making posts that are less personal but are of more value for readers, but then there’s also a part of me that wants to delete everything and be much more private, and just keep my special moments personal and to myself . . . anyways, I am totally rambling here. But I really want to put some thought into what I’d like to achieve in 2018 :) because as you know I am a type-A personality and can’t do it if I don’t have a list!

Anyways, what was the purpose of this post? Ohh yes, Rome! Rome was one of the few major cities in Europe I hadn’t managed to visit after almost eight years of living in The Netherlands. From Holland, it’s inexpensive and easy to hop on a plane and explore elsewhere in Europe, even if it’s just for the weekend. And while there are some major European cities I’ve been to numerous times, I’ve never managed to catch a weekend in Rome. 

And so when my family agreed to visit Italy, it was unanimous that we had to make a stop in Italy’s sunny capital :) Continue reading

Pompeii, Italy

Pompeii really blew my mind. I’ve been a lot of places, and I’ve seen a lot of things, but this was the first time I’ve ever walked along a path that was built so long ago – the area was first settled around 800 BC by wealthy Greeks attracted to the sunshine and scenery in the Bay of Naples. The city of Pompeii was first mentioned in written history in 300 BC, about 400 years before its destruction and 300 years before Christ would even walk the earth. If you’re not familiar with the very true tale, at the time of its demise, Pompeii was a thriving community in the Roman Colony. Continue reading

Amalfi, Italy

I hope you’re not getting sick of beautiful Italian seaside photos yet, because I have one final Amalfi installment for you! Having spent some time exploring Positano and Capri, my cousin, mom, godmother and I decided it was time to visit the coast’s namesake town and cruise over to Amalfi for an afternoon.We woke up bright and early in Positano, and slowly made our way down to the harbor for breakfast and to catch the ferry. Continue reading

Capri, Italy

On day two of our Italian adventure, we went to Capri. Some people love Capri. In fact, many of my friends who have visited the Amalfi Coast recommended that we make the island of Capri our basecamp for the trip. While I found Capri incredibly beautiful, I also found it slightly more stressful than Positano, as the island was swarming with tourists. Massive cruise ships sailed in and out of the port, docking so thousands of visitors could climb ashore. To be fair, we were also four of the thousands :) but as Capri was an island, it felt slightly more cramped than in Positano, without a lot of free space to escape the rush. In Positano, our little square was quiet, but in Capri, it was hard to take a photo without hundreds of other people walking through the backdrop. That said, Capri had an extra dose of harbor-side magic that we did not find in Positano. While Positano is flanked by tall cliffs and colorful houses, Capri is more flat, even boasting of a small sand beach at the waterfront. The colors of Capri match that of Positano, with pasted rainbow houses and boats lining the shorefront and climbing up the hills.To get to Capri, we took the ferry from the harbor in Positano. There are many different ferry and tour options, and all run pretty regularly. If you know in advance that you would like to travel by boat to Capri or Amalfi, book your ticket ahead so you are sure to get a spot. For our day trips to Capri and Amalfi, we booked our tickets the night before, so securing a seat on the boat was not a problem. However, a lot of the smaller luxury boats and sails were already booked up, so if you’re looking for something a bit more intimate, I’d suggest reserving a few days in advance. Continue reading

Positano, Italy

Two years ago, I got let go from my job at Sid Lee. The company’s Amsterdam branch was in the process of going bankrupt, and within six months of my departure, the agency had permanently closed. On one hand, I felt relieved, because I was ready for a big change (I kid you not, after receiving the news I laughed and smiled the whole bike ride home!) But on the other hand, I felt incredibly anxious, because I had never not had a job. I got a large settlement from the company as I was on a permanent contract, so I had no financial worries in the time I was unemployed – the only nagging stress was my visa situation. By law, I had three months to find a new job in Amsterdam, and if this didn’t happen, I would be asked to leave the country. To be honest, I did consider moving back to the US. I was speaking to a few ad shops in LA, and was particularly excited by the prospect of living (somewhat) closer to home and in a bright sunny beach-side state. With less than a month to go in my visa grace period, I got a job at Booking.com (I will tell you about the drama behind this move another time!) And so I spent my last unemployed month relaxing and enjoying some down time before I came back in the new year and started my new job.What does all of this have to do with Positano, Italy? In the period of my unemployment, I made a list of dreams and the things I wanted to achieve while sans job (you know I love my lists!) At the very tipity-top of my list was a road trip through Italy. I wanted to go to Tuscany, Rome, Lake Como, Cinqe Terra, and the Amalfi Coast. I floated the idea past a few friends, and Amie and I wound up heading to Cinque Terra in October during my down time (we also hit up Berlin this trip which was incredibly fun!) While our Italian escape was amazing, it was slightly watered down compared to the grandiose road trip I had envisioned. So I started talking to my mom about a big fat Italian trip – a dream vacation we shared due to our mutual love of sunshine and the sea. As we plotted out potential ideas, it evolved into a family affair, with my god-mother, Sandra, and my cousin Julie also keen to join! And so for two years we tossed around ideas and dates, and finally got around to booking tickets for the Italian trip of a lifetime in the spring of 2017. Continue reading

Part 3: Bordeaux, France

There are some cities that are perfect in the rain. When I am in Greece for my 31st birthday am I thinking this? Absolutely not. However, in a romantic, land-locked city such as Paris or Bordeaux, there’s something about a grey, drizzly day that makes the atmosphere even more dreamy – if that’s even possible! You have to walk closer to your lover to huddle under a shared umbrella, and the dull, grey skies makes the city’s hues splendidly vivid. You can’t spend too much time outside, so you don’t feel guilty for sleeping in, and spend your days hunkered down inside some of the most charming old stone buildings sipping a cold beer (or perhaps something a bit stronger!) by candlelight. Yes, I am an optimist and a romantic, but I love a good gloomy day every once in a while! And while our friend trip to Bordeaux wasn’t exactly the pinnacle of romance, we had been treated a glorious days of sun, and so on our last day in town, when it rained, I didn’t bat an eye but merely grabbed my rain coat and umbrella, and headed out for an adventure! We had spent a day in the city and a day exploring the seaside, and so on our final day in Bordeaux, we had to do the wine thing!In addition to being a stunning world heritage site, Saint Emilion is also one of the most notable wine regions in Bordeaux. With a history that dates back to the Romans, Saint Emilion is a charming stone village surrounded by thousands of acres of vibrant green vineyards. Continue reading

Part 2: Bordeaux, France

As much as I love exploring a new city or spending a drizzly day hidden in a dreamy wine cellar, our visit to the Dune of Pilat was by far my favorite adventure in Bordeaux. There’s just something about eating oysters by the dozen at the sea, with sandy toes and wind swept hair that feels right (says the Maine girl in me!) Add some awesome friends and a glass of crisp white wine, and you have the makings for an idyllic French adventure.On day two in Bordeaux, we were blessed with some beautiful weather. No-jacket, bare-legs kinda weather, which was quite the departure from our previous day in Bordeaux, when we roamed around bundled up like bunnies (do bunnies bundle? I don’t know, but it sounded cute :) To take advantage of the balmy weather, we popped on our flip flops and headed to the seaside for the day. Continue reading

Part 1: Bordeaux, France

I haven’t done this in a while, but there are too many photos from our wonderful time in Bordeaux, so I will be splitting this up into *gasp* a three part post! I’m not sure where to start, as the entire trip was dreamy (pardon my French) as fuck, but perhaps I’ll begin with our time in the city, and then get into a few of our French field trips a bit later.As you may know, King’s Day is a big to-do in Holland. To celebrate the monarchy, the Dutch dance, drink, sell second hand wares in the parks and along the roads, eat greasy street food, dress up (mainly in orange), and participate in a slew of other debaucherous activities (read an old King’s Day post here). The entire city shuts down, the trams don’t run, the streets and canals are packed with party goers, and music blasts from large speakers in the main squares for almost 24 hours straight. It’s definitely one of my favorite days of the year, and this year was especially jubilant as Amie, Jess, and Andrew flew all the way over from the US to get celebrate with us! As the trip to Europe is not a casual jaunt, we also tacked a little French getaway onto their European visit (I bet you were wondering where I was going with King’s Day in the Bordeaux post!) Continue reading

Musings on 31 Years of Life

Last year I turned 30 in a big Italian villa surrounded by friends. It was the send off my 20’s deserved, and a warm welcome to a new decade of life. This past Sunday, I greeted yet another birthday and turned 31 on a Greek island in the sun. A change of pace and scenery, but magical and memorable none the less.  So far, I have really loved being 30. To some, entering another decade might seem like an indication of old age, but for me, 30 has been one of the best years yet, as I continue to become more confident, more knowledgable, and make even better relationships with the people that I love. That’s not to say I have perfected any of these things – but as time goes on and I continue living in my own skin, I’ve gotten to know myself much better, and that counts for a lot in terms of how I approach new situations and present myself to the world.

As you may or may not know, I like lists – I list out groceries, Netflix series I want to watch, things I need to do around the house, words I’ve recently learned, and a gazillion action items for work. I list out dreams and places I want to travel, and even goals (short term and long term – I know, it’s a sickening habit!) Now that I have seen another 365 days roll by, I took a quick look at my lists from the end of 2016 and 217 to see what I could tick off, and also reminisce on what I have accomplished and learned while 30. Continue reading