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

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Being Alone

I’m giving into temptation and blogging, even though it’s 12.25am and I should be winding down for the night. I just got in from work 30 minutes ago. I biked home from the office while listening to music. I locked my bike up outside, and I came up into the flat. I grabbed a big bottle of water from the fridge. I closed the curtains. I opened the mail, and I peeked on social media. I read a few articles online I had bookmarked throughout the day, and then I started getting ready for bed. Yes, it sounds really boring and super trivial, but this is my new normal. And today, it actually felt normal. Like there wasn’t a hole. Like there wasn’t supposed to be someone in the apartment, waiting to greet me as I walked in. I liked crawling into bed alone. I’m ok to close the curtains and turn off all the lights by myself. I didn’t have to worry about cooking someone else dinner, or getting home from work late. And today, all of these boring things that have maybe felt sad, or misplaced in the past, just felt normal. Like this is my life, and it’s totally cool.

I’m going to tell you something scary and new.

I don’t want to be in a relationship, and I really don’t care about getting married, having babies, being a family, being responsible, moving through life, thinking about what’s next.

Isn’t that crazy?

I remember being a senior in college, and having a conversation with a girlfriend about being single. Neither of us were in relationships at the time, and we were both concerned as we were 22 and solo. Can you believe that? 22 and concerned. Even when I did meet Ben, when we had our first, second, third, and fourth year anniversary . . . when he proposed . . . when he told me he wanted to spend his life with me . . . I felt relieved. Like I had sorted out something big that was on a list I was meant to tick off. I felt like I had achieved a milestone in my life that other people were typically worried about, or spent a lot of time searching for.

Oddly enough, after everything I’ve been through, I have this strange, grey feeling of complacency in my chest. Relationships? Meh. Kids? Meh. Boyfriends? Meh. I think this is the first time in ten years I haven’t really cared about finding ‘the one’, settling down, or moving on to whatever (whoever) is next.

I never really understood girls who liked being single. Who said they didn’t want a boyfriend. I just couldn’t comprehend it, and I always thought they had to be lying. That they were secretly sad they were single, that they felt lonely before falling asleep at night. But on nights like tonight, when I get home and open the post, surf the web, crawl into bed, and don’t talk to anyone else but myself in my head, I feel utterly content. And now I realize how narrow-minded I have been.

It’s probably because I’ve always felt lonely. Even when I was with Ben, some nights before I fell asleep, I would feel sad, because when I closed my eyes and started dreaming, I would be alone. But guess what? I live in Amsterdam, while all of my family and life-long friends live in the US. I have an apartment here, a job. I take care of myself, and I am completely independent. I am more alone than I have ever been in my entire life. And for whatever crazy-odd reason, I don’t feel alone. I don’t feel sad. I don’t feel like anything is missing.

Which makes me think, maybe I’ve been looking for the wrong thing all along. I’ve spent the majority of my adult life looking for the one, searching for love. Wanting to fill a hole, to find my other half. But maybe all I really needed to find . . . was myself. Maybe I am my other half. Maybe I am the voice of reason, the unconditional lover, the string that ties my crazy mind to the ground.

I’m 27. I’m single. And yet for the first time in my life, I’ve never felt more complete.

And that’s pretty fucking cool.

The Breakup Guide Part 1

I’m starting the breakup guide, a 3-post series for the lovers of the world who could use a virtual hug.

As you all know, my love life has been in shambles lately. Two months ago, B called off our wedding. It sucks, but I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’m only mourning a relationship. Ben is no longer the person I fell in love with. And so I have my memories and my photographs, and everything else will move on and hopefully just get even better in time. I’ve been staying super busy, but also working in alone-days every now and again so I can get comfortable and content with my own company. I’m meeting new people, experiencing Amsterdam in a new light, and feeling incredibly independent. I wanted to get married, I wanted to spend my life with Ben. But now my life is going in a different direction, and I’m OK with that too.

THE BREAKUP GUIDE
So this morning it was raining cats and dogs . . . . Continue reading

High Tea, Amsterdam

Have you ever read my first blog post? It was about High Tea. B had borrowed his company’s camera for the weekend, and we took it on a walk across town for an afternoon tea date. We took turns taking photos during our meal, comparing contrast, lighting, and composition. When I got home, I wanted to share the photos with my family and friends back home, but instead of writing one e-mail to my mom, one to my sisters, and another to my girlfriends, I decided to put everything online, in one place. Henceforth, Pressed Words was born.

A year and a half later and I’m still doing the same thing. Walking around Amsterdam, taking photos, going on dates with B, and sharing the stories with you. I even still love the occasional high tea, which is what I wanted to tell you about today.

B and I have walked by The London Brasserie in Amsterdam a billion times. It’s on the corner of our neighbourhood, and the British themed menu always catches B’s eye as we pass by. In true UK fashion, they offer a high tea, which I thought would be a nice treat for Valentine’s Day. Leave it to me to spread one day of soppy love out over the whole weekend ;) On Friday night B and I ate ribs and drank wine at Cafe de Pijp, on Saturday night we camped out in the living room and watched movies, and on Sunday, we drank tea. IMG_0205The afternoon started with a walk around town. I wanted to get this photo (do you recognize it?!) of my favorite houses in Amsterdam, to update my blog header – coming soon :)

All of the flowers are slowly creeping out of the ground. It feels oddly early, but at the same time, we didn’t get any snow this winter, and really didn’t have any deep-freeze chills. So I’m not surprised spring is starting early, as we never really had a proper winter. It’s fairly easy for the flowers to pop out of the ground, considering it never froze!IMG_0179We took advantage of the sun’s presence and curved up and around the canals, walking, and counting down the minutes to our high-tea reservation. IMG_0184IMG_0227I know this is not a fashion blog, but aren’t these knee socks the cutest? I did a lot of Topshop-shopping in Edinburgh last week, and I stocked (socked, ha) up on adorable, probably-meant-for-teenager clothing.

* Socks are Top Shop, boots are Frye, jacket is United Colors of Benentton, and bag is Kate Spade*
IMG_0231We arrived for our high tea looking fancy and a tad early. In fact, we were the first ones there!IMG_0232Which was a-ok with us, because we had the whole dinning room and wait staff to ourselves ;) IMG_0247IMG_0240There were red roses and teacups on all the tables, and my date was looking very dapper! IMG_0243To get started, were given a hot pot of water and a box of assorted organic teas. IMG_0241IMG_0235I’m a huge tea junkie, especially on the weekends, so I loved the unlimited tea offered with the meal. I think I tried green tea, darjeeling, organic English breakfast, and earl grey. A very cliche and delicious assortment.IMG_0248And then the goodies started flowing.IMG_0252Sandwiches and scones. . . IMG_0254. . . . homemade whipped butter. And a whole plate of sweets! IMG_0267We took turns, going one for one on the sandwiches and pastries.  IMG_0270And by the end, we had managed to clear three tiers of savouries and sweets :)

There are so many great high tea spots in Amsterdam, and I’ve only just begun to  sample what’s out there. To be honest, I think I preferred Grand Cafe Fossa – my first blog post / Amsterdam high tea experience. Grand Cafe Fossa was located on a huge house boat and the high tea came with a glass of prosecco ;) More my style! That said, the treats and confections at the London Brasserie we’re fantastic, so my sweet-tooth might beg to differ!

I’m going to keep sampling different high tea spots around Amsterdam and will report back. I’m committed to finding just the right high tea, and will not stop sipping, nibbling, and cake eating until I do!

xo Ali