Hiking in Morzine, France

Morzine is a traditional market-town nestled in the French Apls. The little village is strung with chalets that run through the center and then high up into the adjacent mountains. In the winter, Morzine is a skier’s paradise, and in the summer, it’s a desolate haven, filled with colorful flowers, restaurants that rarely fill up, and cool shady streets. The mountains are speckled with local kids playing football, and the far and few who do come to the area in the off-season to mountain bike, hike, or cave.While I have some pretty photos to share, I don’t have much to tell you about Morzine. Sometimes you go on a vacation and the destination is so foreign and exciting, you simply MUST sample all of the local cuisine, fully embrace the nightlife, shop to your heart’s content, and wander all of the major landmarks endlessly until you feel you’ve truly consumed the place. Well, going to Morzine was kind of the opposite. I tagged along with Kai and his friends, we stayed in a cute little Lincoln-Log-like condo at the base of the mountains, and just chilled. We had breakfast and lunch at home, we climbed the hills, we went swimming, we took adequate beer breaks, and we walked through the little town of Morzine.  Continue reading

A Romantic Evening at Casa di David, Amsterdam

I’m writing this post while soaring on an airplane towards Italy. I’m turning 30 this weekend and wanted to celebrate three centuries of life surrounded by friends and the Italian countryside. Although I grew up in the US, my family is very Italian, and so my birthdays were always accompanied with big family dinners and a spaghetti and meatball feast, typically followed by Italian pastries (supplied by my Grampy), gifts, and many well wishes. I know good Italian food. I have so many wonderful Italian chefs in my family, and I have also ventured over to Italy on many occasions to take in the scenery, the culture, and above all, the cuisine! When in Amsterdam, it’s hard to come by a decent Italian meal. There are many restaurants offering Pizza (and don’t get me wrong, some of these joints are fantastic!) but there are very few locals that are comparable to the real Italy. img_7271Casa di David is on my list as a  ‘definitely yes!’ when it comes to Italian dining in Amsterdam. A few weeks ago, the boy and I were lucky enough to snag a front-of-the-house table on a dark and dreary summer evening. And so we stayed dry inside, sipping wine and twirling fresh pasta around our forks in the candlelight. 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

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, hardened, and void of hope. Continue reading

Summer in Maine, USA

As I’ve blogged about visiting Maine many, many times before (see here, here, here, and here – just to name a few!) I was less vigilant about whipping out my camera for the sole purpose of blogging this time around. I snapped a few photos here and there, but mainly to remember the moment or capture a smile – as most photographers would :) And so while I don’t have specific reviews or recommendations to post, I do have a great collection of Maine memories to share from this summer. IMG_8126From a photographic perspective, the highlight of the trip was getting to spend lots of time in Portland, Maine, which is a quick 15 minute drive from my parent’s country house. Portland is the biggest city in Maine, and (although I’m totally biased) it’s also one of the most beautiful. The small, harbor city is set on a hill and boasts of cobblestone streets, long wharfs, red brick buildings, and deep-blue ocean views. Continue reading

Cirque Éloize, Amsterdam

Last week I was invited to the press opening of iD, Jeannot Painchaud’s fabulous Cirque Éloize extravaganza. The show is a mix of circus arts and urban dance, brought to life by a talented and energetic cast. IMG_7754The show was at The Royal Theatre Carré in Amsterdam, which was actually built in 1887 to be a full-time circus building! Continue reading

Sid Lee does St. Tropez, Part 1

While I love blogging, my day job is also pretty cool. I work at a global advertising agency called Sid Lee (some office photos here), where we make ads for clients like Facebook, Red Bull, and Absolut. Advertising is very much a work hard play hard industry, and the brands you work with often contribute to the overall culture of the agency. There are countless late nights and busy weekends, but on the flip side, at Sid Lee, there are also expensed dinners, cool colleagues, agency parties, and many, many Absolut cocktails. Recently, to say ‘thanks’ for a long year of hard work, the Sid Lee Amsterdam team was treated to a long weekend in paradise. IMG_7551I briefly mentioned our travel regime in my previous post – our airplane left Schiphol at 6am – which meant we had to meet in the airport lobby bright and early at 4.15am. Of course I pulled an all-nighter (I was THAT person at the airport) and stumbled through security and found my seat on the plane in a tipsy, blurry haze. After a few hours of dozing on the plane, and then on a bus, we arrived in St. Tropez.  Continue reading

Game of Thrones Exhibit, Amsterdam

Four years ago, I read a fantastic book series by George R.R. Martin. I was immediately enthralled with the characters, the fictitious lands, and the juicy plot lines. I started scouring online forums for spoilers, theories, and other fan fiction. To say I was a Game of Thrones geek would be an absolute understatement. I was Daenerys Targaryen, Robb Stark, or Cersei Lannister, pending the day and my mood. Never did I imagine I would get to see some of my favorite characters come to life on HBO.

At first I resisted watching the TV series. I’d read the books and didn’t want to fumble through inaccurate plot lines and poorly portrayed characters. But come the third season, I could’t resist. I didn’t have to backtrack, because, hey, I’d read the books! And George R.R. Martin had made it abundantly clear that The Winds of Winter (the next book in the Song of Ice and Fire series) would not be coming out for quite some time, so I needed a Game of Thrones fix in between reads. Truth be told, HBO did not disappoint. The acting is superb, the costumes and set designs are mind blowing, and the plot lines are equally alive. So when HBO asked if I wanted to attend the Game of Thrones Exhibition in Amsterdam, my answer was not ‘yes’, it was ‘HELLLLS YES!’

IMG_7929The Game of Thrones Exhibition is an international, traveling event, featuring costumes, props, and interactive installation. Continue reading

The Best Nachos in Amsterdam

A few months ago, I got a major craving for nachos. Unfortunately, Mexico is quite a ways away from Holland, so there are very few Tex-Mex or authentic Navajo joints sprawling about the city. Luckily, I’m a member of the Sid Lee Supper Club, and therefore have several culinarily inquisitive friends. Together, we decided to embark on an epic Mexican adventure – a quest to uncover the best nachos in Amsterdam. We famed our escapades the Nach’yo Average Pub Crawl, and mapped out several local Mexican haunts to visit around the city. Armed with score cards and sombreros, we kicked off our escapades on a sunny day, in search of crispy chips, melted cheese, and cool, creative toppings.IMG_6865

We planned to visit six spots around the city that served nachos – de Biertuin, Agabi Santa Maria, Cafe Harlem, Los Pilones, Waterkant, and Cannibale Royal. Some we’d been to before, some we’d heard good things about, and others we’d found on TripAdvisor.  Continue reading