A Quick Summer Stop in Chicago

As you know (or may not know!) I work at Booking.com. I love my job because it means I get to eat, sleep, and breathe travel, which just so happens to be my all-time favorite thing to do. Specifically, I manage communications for the US, which involves strategically and creatively overseeing all of the ads we put into the market. Sometimes I travel to LA or other exotic locations for big, cinematic television shoots, and in other instances I sit at my desk in Amsterdam, sip coffee, and sense check content articles or Facebook posts before they go live. Part of my job also entails of identifying who our key consumers are and what they will react to. If I haven’t lost you yet, this means my job also requires attending and analyzing focus groups. Basically, I’m the creepy person who sits on the other side of the tinted glass window, making comments and taking notes. Focus group participants can’t see or hear me, but I listen in and try to get a read on what they think about Booking.com, our ads, or travel in general. It might sound snoozy, but I find this part of the job ultra-intriguing! Sometimes we put our heart and soul into a piece of creative work, and it gets shredded to bits by consumers in a focus group – yes, this really happens! There are also usually mini-kitchenettes attached to each observation room, so in addition to gaining valuable insights about our brand, I also have access to unlimited snacks and takeout options. What more could a gal ask for?! Where am I going with this? A few months ago, some focus groups we were conducting landed me in Chicago. It’s worth noting here that I also went to Atlanta and NYC on the same trip, but holy-hell Chicago blew me out of the water, and is the only city that gets a full, dedicated blog post ;) Maybe it was seasonal and due to the perfect, balmy weather, but damn, Chicago was pretty!

While traveling alone can be a bummer for some, I absolutely adore it. I have the drive to wake up early and explore, or head out after office-hours solo to discover something new. I think moving to Europe and living alone for a few years had a big impact on how I function – I am much more independent than I was five years ago. I really value Ali-time, and the ability to choose what I do next, or where I want to go without anyone else weighing in. I spend a lot of my holiday days traveling with family, friends, and Kai, but sometimes it’s nice to wander around a new city alone with a book, taking in the sights and stopping to read on whatever grassy green knoll takes my fancy! Continue reading

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Vintage Kiloshop in de Pijp, Amsterdam

The past 10 days have been a total whirlwind. Friday the 12th was my (amazing, cool, super sweet) friend Kira’s birthday. It was a hot night, and so we ate popsicles and danced outside until it was dark, and then danced some more inside until the sun came back a few hours later. I love summertime in Amsterdam, and how many lucky hours of sunlight we get here! I had a super early 6am flight Saturday, and made it home from the birthday-dance party just in time to catch a 4am cab to the airport. I would rather dance all night than sleep for only 4 hours. The feeling of waking up with only a half-night’s sleep makes me sick to my stomach. Thankfully, I was able to recovered from my all-nighter with a solid nap on the plane, followed by a second bus-doze. After 6 hours of nap-traveling (while others drank beers and did fun awake things), the entire Sid Lee Amsterdam team arrived at St Tropez in France. I’ve been to the south of France for holiday before (read here, here, and here), and truly believe it’s one of the most beautiful vacation destinations in Europe. The Sid Lee crew spent the entire weekend, all of Monday, and half of Tuesday out of the office, soaking up the sun, eating seafood, and relaxing on the beach. I have ample St Tropez photos to come (perhaps the first double-post of this summer!?) but let’s stick to the ‘busy’ storyline for one more minute. Upon our return, work was insane. Although we only had 3.5 days in the office, there were 5 days worth of work to be done. By the time Friday arrived, I felt physically and mentally exhausted, and fell into bed early after a lavish Chinese dinner (I can never resist a good Nam Kee session) Then this past weekend I went camping in Belgium (probably no blog post on this as I illegally camped in a national park – ha!) and now Monday has come and gone and I’m taking a moment to pause, thinking . . . *wow* where has June gone?!

Anyways, that’s what I’ve been up to the past few days, hence being light on the blogging. But now, let’s get to the meat of this post! A few weeks ago, I noticed an adorable new vintage shop on my street, and so I took it upon myself to investigate. IMG_6390Kiloshop Amsterdam is a new(ish) ‘vintage by the kilo’ shop in de Pijp that not only sells vintage clothing, but also has a beautiful indoor hang-space where you can sip coffee and eat croissants in a bath of natural sunlight.  Continue reading

Granger & Co, London

As I did a semester abroad at Lancaster University and later a master’s program in Leeds, I have a great handful of friends who still live in the UK. I mentioned a few of these brilliant women in a previous post, as I was lucky enough to spend the past bank holiday weekend with them in the Big Smoke. Today I’ll introduce you to my huge-hearted friend Nat, along with a tasty little brunch spot in Clerkenwell, London.

Granger & Co is a laid back and delicious foodie establishment that’s popped up in Hawaii, Australia, Japan, and now London. Bill Granger is the mastermind chef behind the chain, and is especially well known for his talented touch with eggs. IMG_2843But before I tell you about the eggs, let me tell you about London . . . .  Continue reading

Brunch at Drover’s Dog, Amsterdam

Two weekends ago, B and I had breakfast at Drover’s Dog with our friends Tom and Melissa. Typically, B and I stay in de Pijp when we brunch. Stellar spots such as Little Collins, Bakers & Roasters, and Trust are all within a 2 minute walk from our flat. But as these places are located in de Pijp, they’re usually packed on the weekends, and good luck getting a table at prime brunching time, never-mind in the sun, without a wait. So we decided to be crazy and try a new spot outside of de Pijp, and Drover’s Dog came highly recommended.

Mint Tea

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Scandinavian Embassy, Amsterdam

I really love good coffee. I’ve come to appreciate a fresh brew, warm, foamy milk that’s heated just right, and exotic beans. So while I’m a regular at de Wasserette, I’m always open to trying out a new boutique coffee spot in town. Lately, there’s been a lot of buzz around Scandinavian Embassy. They’ve newly opened and are on my street, so I really didn’t have an excuse not to go.

IMG_6065The owners are meticulous craftsmen, who not only brew delicious coffee but also build beautiful interiors. They conceptualized Scandinavian Embassy and then built it from the ground up, making shelves, walls, and tables by hand.IMG_6054The interior is cosy and fresh, smelling of clean cut wood.IMG_6068IMG_6063The coffee is also delicious – creamy, smooth, and served with love at just the right temperature. IMG_6071B and I got our coffees to go, and enjoyed a casual stroll around de Pijp.IMG_6075The drinks were just right, and we are excited to welcome our new, delicious neighbors! IMG_6074If you need a quick early morning pick me up, or fancy a lazy Sunday munch and brunch, you can find Scandanavian Embasy at: Sarphatipark 34, 1072 PB Amsterdam,Netherlands. Happy sipping!

De Wasserette Amsterdam

Today I cleaned the house, bought a puzzle, and drank coffee at a corner-side cafe. It’s been a lazy one to say the least, but that’s OK. Sunday’s are meant for self respect, whether that means going to church or nursing a hangover. If you want to lie in bed watching movies until 3pm on Sunday, that’s OK. If you want to wake up at 8am and do laundry, that’s also OK. On Sunday, you gotta do what you gotta do, even if that includes watching four episodes of Downton Abbey. This Sunday started with a big mug of lemon and honey tea. I have been fighting a stubborn head cold for the past month, and I’m determined to win! B was kind enough to brew me this delicious remedy, before he started clicking away at his laptop in the living room. I sat in bed watching puddles form outside. Around noon the rain let up and we decided to pop out for a coffee. I use the phrase ‘pop out’ a lot, but this time, I really mean it. De Wasserette, our favorite weekend coffee spot, is literally 6 doors down. Because it’s so close we tend to treat it like our very own kitchen, heading over without grooming or primping in the least. We threw on our big fuzzy fall sweaters and popped ;) downstairs to our coffee neighbors for a steamy Sunday latte. IMG_4776De Wasserette is simple, and totally Dutch. In the morning they serve warm drinks and ‘breakfast’, which in Holland means big slabs of bread with various meat and cheese toppings. B and I come for the coffee – their lattes are super creamy and one of the best in de Pijp.IMG_4779Today, de Wasserette was surprisingly sparse, probably due to the rain that fell all morning long. On a typical Sunday, it’s hard to find a seat.IMG_4786IMG_4783Our usual is two lattes and a flapjack to share. I eat B’s latte foam and he gets most of the flapjack. Win-win if you ask me.IMG_4770IMG_4782De Wasserette is a corner cafe, a great perch for people watching. They have indoor and outdoor seating, so you can escape the chill or enjoy the sun, depending on the weather and your mood.IMG_4784IMG_4792^ ^ See, I told you, unbrushed hair and sleepy pillow eyes!!IMG_4803^ ^ I did have time to slip on my Great Great Aunt Madeline’s ring. She was the monarch of our family and passed away last winter at age 101. My Gramma gave me this ring for my birthday and I haven’t taken it off since. IMG_4805We finished our lattes, pleased as always.IMG_4806If you’re in the neighborhood and want to pop by de Wasserette, here is a super adorable hand-drawn map of where you can find them. They open at 7.30am and close around 6pm. And their lattes come highly recommended!! xx