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

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