Kröller-Müller Museum, The Netherlands

I first heard about the Kröller-Müller Museum eight years ago. A colleague at 180 (remember those days?) came into work on a Monday morning raving about the experience she’d had at Kröller-Müller over the weekend. I was told that the museum was surrounded by an expansive national park that you could explore by bike, and that the museum itself had a vast collection of art in addition to a lovely sculpture garden. It sounded like an idyllic day trip, and I’ve now had ‘a visit to the Kröller-Müller museum’ scribbled on my Dutch to-do list for more than 7 years. Each time a visitor came to town, I would coax to see if there was any interest in a cultural day outside of Amsterdam. But the train ride to the east of Holland always seemed a bit too long for my out-of-town guests, who always seemed to be more interested in exploring the Rijksmuseum and Ann Frank House within the city.And just when it seemed like I might never make it to the Kröller-Müller Museum, Kai finally agreed to take the leap with me! Continue reading


Brick Lane Colors and Tacos, London

After the long holiday weekend, most Londoners returned to business. However, I had Tuesday off of work (three days in London is never enough!) and so I decided to roam the streets of East London with my camera, doing some vintage shopping and eating copious amounts of street food along the way.IMG_6660

Brick Lane got its name in the 15th century, when brick and tile were manufactured from local deposits. Today, Brick Lane is populated with a large Bangladeshi community and is THE place to go to in London for a mind blowing curry. The area is also world-famous for its graffiti. It’s clear to see that from the local shops, markets, and colors that Brick Lane is an art and fashion hotspot in London.  Continue reading

Rembrandt Canal Cruise, Amsterdam

Hello blog friends! It’s been a while since we’ve had a proper catch up, so I wanted to make this next blog post extra pretty for you! This past weekend, I was invited on the Late Rembrandt Canal Tour. I booked into an early morning cruise, intent on capturing the quiet beauty of Amsterdam before the masses came alive. After grabbing a coffee from de Wasserette, I biked over to the Rijksmuseum to catch the Rembrandt tour boat. I expected it to be a relaxing morning, floating around the canals, sipping coffee, and taking pictures. And while the canals were as beautiful as ever . . . .
IMG_6185It turned out to be a not-so-quiet morning . . . .  Continue reading

February Hibernation Tips

I’ve spent the past few weeks being very boring. Over the summer and into the fall I was feeling super social. I wanted to be out every night, making new friends, going on dates, and enjoying the unknown in Amsterdam. But lately I’ve had this strange, deep rooted confidence. I want to be alone. I want to bask in my independence. I want to spend Wednesday night in, listening to music, surrounded by candles, browsing Pinterest and drinking hot chocolate all by my merry lonesome. I’ve been eating a lot more (yay) organizing a lot more (yay) and reading a lot more (yay). I’m definitely going through a homebody phase, and I think it stems from being content with myself. Over the summer, I could never just come home from work. I HAD to have plans, something to do, someone to see. And if I did have a night in alone (which happened very rarely) I would spend a lot of time on social media, looking for conversation or someone to connect with. I don’t know what’s come over me lately, but I’ve done a complete 180° and am totally enjoying just being an old recluse. I don’t feel hungry for a glamorous social life or attention. I just want to be at home and bake peach cobbler from scratch. And eat peach cobbler that’s made from scratch. Mmmm :)

As I’ve been spending an increased amount of time in my flat, I’ve been focusing on making my home extra atmospheric. Sometimes this simply means coming home and scrubbing the bathroom floor for 45 minutes (after I did this last week my brain kept tripping up, not recognizing where I was . . who knew my bathroom tiles weren’t supposed to have a pink tint!) and sometimes this means embarking on a rather complex home improvement project. As I’ve been perfecting the art of hibernation, I wanted to share some of my favorite tips with you – ways to make your home cozy and warm in the depths of winter.

1) Celebrate new wall art.

My walls are white, and often in the winter, the world is white outside as well. One way to create an eternal summer inside your home is to plaster your walls with bright colors and beautiful summer shots.  Continue reading

Anne at Theater Amsterdam

If you live in Amsterdam, it’s impossible to miss the ‘Anne’ posters plastered all over town. In fact, at one point I think I even saw an entire bus branded with the big yellow ‘Anne’ letters, calling attention to one of Amsterdam’s most historic and harrowing tales. If you’re not familiar with The Diary of Anne Frank, I’ll assume you’ve been living under a rock. As an American, reading Anne’s diary was part of my elementary school education. And as a current Amsterdam-dweller, understanding Anne’s intimate portrayal of World War II reminds us all that life in the Netherlands hasn’t always been peachy, and that this open and accepting Dutch mentality was hard-earned.

Last week, I was invited to Theater Amsterdam, not only to see their interpretation of Anne’s saga, but to also enjoy a lovely three-course dinner at Boven de Planken, the theater’s bespoke restaurant.

IMG_4817It sits on the second floor of the theater, surrounded by large glass windows overlooking the IJ. Continue reading

Green Label Art Gallery, Amsterdam

As much as I love a good whirl about the Rijks, artistic inspiration can be found in many places, from a world-class national museum to an inconspicuous little gallery on the Prinsengracht. IMG_2989Two weeks ago, I went to see a funk-cool installation curated by the Chaotic Bastards, a Dutch foursome who called for digital street art submissions around Europe. Artists uploaded their work to Instagram with the hashtag #GreenLabelGallery, and the Chaotic Bastards chose their favorites. Continue reading

De Parade, Amsterdam

Nothing quite compares to an autumnal New England fair. Imagine hay rides, candied apples, fried dough, bumper cars, and homemade pies. Now pair that with ox pulling, flower shows, craft fairs, baking competitions, starry nights, and musical acts . . . . a day at the fair in New England is an exciting and eclectic harvest tradition :) In Holland, I’ve yet to come across anything that quite compares, and this is probably amplified by the fact that I’m city-dweller. It’s hard to find that crafty, homespun fervor in the city. But two weeks ago, Amsterdam came close. De Parade is an annual theater tour that stops in Rotterdam, Den Hague, Utrecht, and finally Amsterdam, closing with a massive wrap party. There are over 90 different theater performances, played out across a giant fairground of picnic benches, pavilions, food trucks, bars, and dance parties.IMG_2515 Continue reading

Amsterdam Light Festival

Sometimes I do stupid things. . . On Saturday, B and I had the ultimate awesome date-day planned. We woke up, went to a 2-hour Pilates class, and then came home absolutely famished. B kindly offered to make us a meal, so in return I offered to treat us to a movie. I’d gotten some free movie passes from a holiday work party, and we’d been saving them to see The Wolf of Wall Street. After devouring some amazing tapas (which I will tell you all about later this week) we got ready to hit the town. We were about to leave the house when I realized, stupidly, that I had left our movie passes in the office. . . which was locked, as it was a Saturday. Doh! We could have still gone to the movies, but we wanted to save the passes for The Wolf. I was bummed, but B was awesome. He suggested instead we go for a long walk, along the Amsterdam Light Festival route. Not minding one bit I’d stupidly left our movie passes in the office. I’ve got a keeper :)

The Amsterdam Light Festival is an outdoor light exhibition that is set up along the canals every year. There are more than 30 light sculptures and projections that can only be viewed at night. This was the last weekend of the 2013/14 festival, but never fear, as it occurs every year and lasts for about 50 days. So you can always catch the lights next year! The route wraps around the city and you can take a guided boat tour along the canals to look at the lights. As B and I had an open evening and plenty of time to spare (not to mention we’d just devoured enough tapas to feed half of Spain), we decided to walk.IMG_9006We started our light tour along the Amstel River, in the south by The Amstel Hotel. B offered to play cameraman for the evening, so he gets full credit for taking all of these beautiful photos. And not only did he capture some brilliant images of the lights, he also took some stunning photos of Amsterdam’s well-lit historical buildings and attractions along the way. IMG_9011The first installation was also my favorite – a large neon light sculpture glowing in every color. From afar the structure looked round and 3D, but as you got closer and eventually stood parallel to the installation, you realized it was intact flat! I loved the play on perspective and the rainbow lights bouncing off of the water.IMG_9017IMG_9031IMG_9022IMG_9036We continued our walk along the Amstel, up towards the next installation.IMG_9041Which was a bit lost on us, as we somehow landed on the wrong side of the canal to see the projections!output_PzA5VvWe did however enjoy pretending to be chameleons along the wall, morphing from red to green to blue! IMG_9060The next installation was at the Botanical Garden, a big greenhouse with white, flashing strobe lights. It here we first noticed the full moon, complimenting the exhibit’s bright, white lights.IMG_9079IMG_9064We walked up towards the Maritime Museum, which I’d first been to during Museum Nacht back in November.IMG_9075All of the ships were lit with twinkle lights or projections on their sails. IMG_9085We headed over a pedestrian bridge in front of NEMO, towards Central Station and the last two light exhibits.IMG_9094^^ This photo is my favorite from the evening. All night we walked along the canals, admiring how the light refracted against the water. Then, we reached this installation – the only one not surrounded by a body of water. However, B still managed to find a unique angle, capturing the installation’s colorful reflection in a puddle. IMG_9097^ ^ I had noticed this glowing golf ball a few weeks ago when I got in from Boston, and didn’t realize it was part of the Light Festival. Doesn’t it kind of remind you of the big, round ball at Epcot in Florida?IMG_9100We could have continued along the route, but we had already been walking for two hours, and decided it was a good time to walk back down the Damrak and head home. If you’re interested in visiting Amsterdam’s Light Festival, you can find more about the program here. B and I really enjoyed the light festival – it was an unexpected evening spent roaming the city, enjoying a free open air art exhibit. . . only in Amsterdam! xo Ali

Exploring the Rijksmuseum

B isn’t a huge fan of getting his photo taken. He puts up with his snap-happy blogger girlfriend, but isn’t really fond of posing for the camera (ask him why, he will tell you some funny stories). So I was surprised when last weekend, he suggested we bring my camera on along our Sunday playdate to the Rijks. Usually I have to ask politely before I bring my camera on an A+B outing, but this time B suggested the notion without my influence. He took most of these photos, and I promised I would credit him on the blog for his artistic eye.

Recently, we went to the Rijks for Museum Nacht, but vowed to return as we only got to explore the first two floors. This place is massive, and I won’t hesitate to go back again and again. You really can get lost, and engulfed in history and books and some of the most brilliant paintings of all time is a sublime place to lose yourself, and perhaps even discover something new.
IMG_6168Standing in the Rijks is a marvel in and of itself. The architecture is a beautiful juxtaposition of old and new, timeless history and modern thought.IMG_6249^ ^ I swear I am reading a history map and am not texting!!IMG_6256^ ^ This one is photo-credit-Ali, as I had to steal the camera from B to capture this owl!IMG_6250^ ^ My favorite piece in the museum. 
IMG_6232^ ^ I took this photo as well, as the people admiring Rembrandt’s work were almost as thought provoking as the painting itself. I love people watching – wondering about other’s relationships, where they are from, what they think of their surroundings. I often ask the same questions when looking at art.
IMG_6237 IMG_6200B and I have created a photography game that we play when we’re out with the camera. We both take a photo of the same subject, and then afterwards compare and contrast the two, and vote together on which one is the best. I’m really competitive and B is really talented, so it’s a fun game for both of us. B’s photo of the Rijk’s library is on top and mine is below. We both have such a different eye for photography. I love that B has the ability to see the world in a completely different light, and is always opening my vision to a new perspective. We operate on different sides of the brain, and sometimes I feel like he fills this huge gap in my life that I didn’t even know existed. Anyways, I didn’t mean to get sappy! These two photos very accurately reflect our personalities. I like symmetry, and find beauty in balance (Libra!). B is careful but always looking for a new, creative perspective. Which photo do you prefer?
IMG_6205 IMG_6193^ ^ Some proof of B’s creative perspectives! v v IMG_6184 IMG_6179^ ^ I found this funny. ‘Still life with Asparagus’ IE. What the Dutch did instead of Instagraming food photos in 1697.IMG_6264^ ^ The exhibit on the very top floor was all about airplanes. B’s brother is training to be a pilot and B just made a film of them flying together, so B took a timely interest in the planes and their history.
IMG_6261IMG_6172IMG_6273On our way out we stopped to listen to a busking orchestra play Four Seasons by Vivaldi. After having such a visual experience in the museum, it was lovely to just close our eyes and reminisce about the day, taking in the music.

Museum Nacht in Amsterdam

Way back in elementary school, I was a little Daisy. No, not a flower, a Girl Scout. Our troop did heaps of fun things. We would make friendship bracelets, sell cookies, and go cabin camping, but my all-time favorite Girl Scout activity was our annual sleepover at the Museum of Science in Boston. We would spend the early evening wandering the halls and exploring the exhibits, and when our little legs got tired, we would unroll our sleeping bags and snuggle down for a night at the museum. I think sleeping next to a 65-million-year-old fossil is secretly every kid’s dream, right?

Fast forward 20 years and that’s why I love Museum Nacht in Amsterdam. There’s just something about wandering past a van Gogh at 3am that feels electric. Like history can come alive in the dark, or tell a different story. If you’ve seen Night at the Museum, you know what I’m talking about ;) On Museum Nacht, one ticket gets you entrance to every museum in the city from 6pm till 3am. There are parties, performances, and special events, with Amsterdam’s stunning galleries as a backdrop.

We started at the Rijks, which is actually less than a ten minute walk from our house. It’s a fantastic thought that so many famous paintings and artifacts are housed right around the corner. The Delft was my favorite, followed by the beautiful jewels and crowns. I’m fascinated by collections – stacks of vases, model ships, china, guns, cups sipped by royalty and art that defined an era. The Rijks holds a wondrous pool of Dutch history.

IMG_4913IMG_4933AliFindsDelftIMG_4955IMG_4980IMG_4983IMG_4951IMG_4985We spent two hours in the Rikjs, and only managed to get through the first floor (and two beers). Fortunately, your Museum Nacht bracelet also acts as a ticket to any one museum during regular hours, so we vowed to come back, before hopping on our bikes and heading over to the Scheepvaartmuseum, Amsterdam’s very own Maritime Museum. The sea plays such an interracial role in Dutch history, and the Scheepvaartmuseum (which I  keep referring to as the ‘sheep fart’ museum in my head) documents some of Holland’s most brilliant Maritime achievements. IMG_4990IMG_5005IMG_5098IMG_5010IMG_5050IMG_5043IMG_5024DSCF3967IMG_5057IMG_5093IMG_5063IMG_5061IMG_5072IMG_5095Our last stop of the night was the Portuguese Synagog. With no electricity, the 17th-century Sephardic synagogue was illuminated by hundreds of candles, draped from golden chandeliers hung around the room. In the center, a beautiful band hummed, hypnotizing visitors in a daze of candlelight and eerie melody. IMG_5105IMG_5103If you’re a history buff and thinking of visiting Amsterdam in the fall, it’s well worth planning a visit over the first weekend in November. Imagine seeing Rembrandt, van Gogh, candlelight synagogs, and Maritime marvels, all in a matter of hours! You can follow the Museum Nacht site here to keep up to date on events and plan your evening about town next year. Xx