San Sebastian, Spain with the Girls!

Gosh, I am so behind on blogging. My next post will be a short and sweet restaurant review, but this San Sebastian post took AGES to get live because there were SO MANY PHOTOS to go through! I really need to stick to just 5-10 photos per post, because picking my favorites and editing through everything can be overwhelming! That said, I am happy to finally tell you all about my trip to San Sebastian with Amie, Jess, and Jess (yes, TWO Jess’s on our trip – double the Jess fun!)
IMG_0753As the girls were already planning on coming to Amsterdam at the end of April for King’s Day, we decided to tack a mini sun-holiday on to the end of their European visit. We picked a spot in Northern Spain that had ample sunshine, but during our stay the temperature hovered in the mid 60’s, which was wonderful for strolling around sans coat, but it didn’t really satisfy our desire for a beachy holiday (although there were many brave souls in minimal clothing lounging by the sea!) That said, we were more interested in pintxos, sangria, and sightseeing anyways, and fell blissfully in love with our flat that overlooked the sea! And I mean, LOOK at that view (above) from our balcony! Continue reading

A Quick Hola to New Orleans, Louisiana

A few weeks ago I mentioned that work travel brought me down south to Alabama. Although we flew into Mobile, Alabama, my boss and I decided to fly out New Orleans, tacking on one night to the end of our trip in good ol’ Louisiana! We got into New Orleans late and ate at a nearby bar recommended by our hotel concierge. We spent the next morning working in the hotel lobby (you know, that glamorous business-travel lifestyle) and found ourselves with about three hours to kill in the afternoon before our flight back to Amsterdam. IMG_3909And so we strolled around the streets of New Orleans, stopping to eat oysters, listen to buskers, have lunch at a New Orleans institution (or so I am told!) and admire the stunning French Quarter architecture. Continue reading

10 Days in LA

I’m embarrassed to admit that I lived for 29 years without visiting LA. I grew up on the East Coast, spoiled by the nearby New York City and content to explore the gems of Boston in my own backyard. Later, when I went to university in Vermont, if I was not frolicking in the snow on a secluded mountain, I was shopping (Underground City!) or eating (poutine!) or dancing (drinking age!) in the nearby city of Montreal. When I turned 22, I moved to Europe, and shifted my focus to exploring as many European cities as possible. Prague, Cologne, Milan, Paris, Berlin, Bruges, Istanbul, London, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Edinburgh, Dublin . . . I am proud to say that the list goes on and on. However, up until recently, my travels were admittedly quite European-centric. I did go to San Diego, California once when I was a kid, where I was traumatized by a popsicle incident. We were spending the day at Sea World, and had just seated ourselves at the porpoise show, where a small child sitting behind proceeded to drop a large chunk of his chocolate Shamu popsicle down my back. It slid into my khaki shorts where it left a big, brown poop-like stain. I had to walk around all day in the smoldering heat, looking like I shat myself at a seal show. And that’s all I really remember about California, other than the numerous signs warming of snakes, and big, dirt-like mountains. So I never really had a desire to go back to the West Coast, even though lumping together and generalizing my distaste for three coastal states (one of which is 800 miles long), based on an unfortunate incident with a Shamu popsicle, was somewhat naïve. However, this past year on numerous occasions, my work travels brought be back to the West Coast, and one of those stops just so happened to be LA. IMG_5101Side note: I actually applied to jobs in LA when I stopped working at Sid Lee! I’m definitely ready to live in a warmer climate (sorry, Amsterdam), and LA is a great North American hub for advertising. Alas, LA was meant to be in my life in a different capacity at this time, and so serendipitously, I ventured there for a shoot with my new job at Booking.com. So let me tell you a little about LA . . . 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

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

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

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.
Continue reading

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