Romance in Rome

As bummed as I was to say goodbye to my family after our amazing Italy trip, I was thankful I had the opportunity to spend the long weekend with my lover in Rome :) My family left on Friday, and the following Monday was a bank holiday, which meant that when Kai flew in on Thursday night, we could spend four whole days together exploring one of my new favorite cities. Kai and I have never really been on a trip together for more than 4 nights, so I really savor these mini excursions we have together :) I spent a lot of time in my last post talking about Rome’s cultural sights, as I ticked most of the main tourist attractions off the list with my family. My time with Kai was a lot different – we didn’t buy tickets or stand in any lines, rather we walked around the city, hand in hand, eating ice cream and getting lost. We walked down small side streets that beckoned to us, and stopped for croissants and coffee when we pleased. We drank cocktails on rooftops, and rented a little buggy to pedal around in the park. That weekend in Rome was HOT (mid 80’s) so on one day we said addio to the hot streets of Rome and hit up a pool in paradise. I didn’t take as many photos, I didn’t really document the restaurants or shops we stopped at, and we spent a lot of time just enjoying each other’s company. It was truly a romantic dream weekend in Italy, and I had the best time. Continue reading

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Pompeii, Italy

Pompeii really blew my mind. I’ve been a lot of places, and I’ve seen a lot of things, but this was the first time I’ve ever walked along a path that was built so long ago – the area was first settled around 800 BC by wealthy Greeks attracted to the sunshine and scenery in the Bay of Naples. The city of Pompeii was first mentioned in written history in 300 BC, about 400 years before its destruction and 300 years before Christ would even walk the earth. If you’re not familiar with the very true tale, at the time of its demise, Pompeii was a thriving community in the Roman Colony. Continue reading

Amalfi, Italy

I hope you’re not getting sick of beautiful Italian seaside photos yet, because I have one final Amalfi installment for you! Having spent some time exploring Positano and Capri, my cousin, mom, godmother and I decided it was time to visit the coast’s namesake town and cruise over to Amalfi for an afternoon.We woke up bright and early in Positano, and slowly made our way down to the harbor for breakfast and to catch the ferry. Continue reading

Positano, Italy

Two years ago, I got let go from my job at Sid Lee. The company’s Amsterdam branch was in the process of going bankrupt, and within six months of my departure, the agency had permanently closed. On one hand, I felt relieved, because I was ready for a big change (I kid you not, after receiving the news I laughed and smiled the whole bike ride home!) But on the other hand, I felt incredibly anxious, because I had never not had a job. I got a large settlement from the company as I was on a permanent contract, so I had no financial worries in the time I was unemployed – the only nagging stress was my visa situation. By law, I had three months to find a new job in Amsterdam, and if this didn’t happen, I would be asked to leave the country. To be honest, I did consider moving back to the US. I was speaking to a few ad shops in LA, and was particularly excited by the prospect of living (somewhat) closer to home and in a bright sunny beach-side state. With less than a month to go in my visa grace period, I got a job at Booking.com (I will tell you about the drama behind this move another time!) And so I spent my last unemployed month relaxing and enjoying some down time before I came back in the new year and started my new job.What does all of this have to do with Positano, Italy? In the period of my unemployment, I made a list of dreams and the things I wanted to achieve while sans job (you know I love my lists!) At the very tipity-top of my list was a road trip through Italy. I wanted to go to Tuscany, Rome, Lake Como, Cinqe Terra, and the Amalfi Coast. I floated the idea past a few friends, and Amie and I wound up heading to Cinque Terra in October during my down time (we also hit up Berlin this trip which was incredibly fun!) While our Italian escape was amazing, it was slightly watered down compared to the grandiose road trip I had envisioned. So I started talking to my mom about a big fat Italian trip – a dream vacation we shared due to our mutual love of sunshine and the sea. As we plotted out potential ideas, it evolved into a family affair, with my god-mother, Sandra, and my cousin Julie also keen to join! And so for two years we tossed around ideas and dates, and finally got around to booking tickets for the Italian trip of a lifetime in the spring of 2017. Continue reading

Part 2: Bordeaux, France

As much as I love exploring a new city or spending a drizzly day hidden in a dreamy wine cellar, our visit to the Dune of Pilat was by far my favorite adventure in Bordeaux. There’s just something about eating oysters by the dozen at the sea, with sandy toes and wind swept hair that feels right (says the Maine girl in me!) Add some awesome friends and a glass of crisp white wine, and you have the makings for an idyllic French adventure.On day two in Bordeaux, we were blessed with some beautiful weather. No-jacket, bare-legs kinda weather, which was quite the departure from our previous day in Bordeaux, when we roamed around bundled up like bunnies (do bunnies bundle? I don’t know, but it sounded cute :) To take advantage of the balmy weather, we popped on our flip flops and headed to the seaside for the day. Continue reading

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

Bikes and Beers in Ljubljana, Slovenia

Slovenia is wild and beautiful, with tall mountains and dark caves, warming dishes and endless vineyards, ancient cobble stone cities and a welcoming buzz that sweeps up visitors wholeheartedly. While there is so much to see and do in Slovenia, Kai and I spent a few days touring around Lake Bled and the mountains, and another day exploring Trieste, an Italian seaside town almost entirely bordered by Slovenia. While visiting Lake Beld was top of my must-do list, we’d heard that spending a few days in Ljubljana was practically obligatory when visiting Slovenia, and wow, and I glad that we did!
Ljubljana is the capital of Slovenia, known for its sprawling green spaces, the peaceful and winding Ljubljanica River, and as home to a jewel box of colorful architecture. Continue reading

A Pit Stop in Trieste, Italy

While planning our trip to Slovenia, Kai and I realized that flights from Amsterdam into Ljubljana were quite pricy. Like, €260 each pricy, which was a bit more than we were hoping to spend on a long weekend trip in Europe. As our ultimate destination was Lake Bled, we knew we would have to rent a car anyways, as there are no airports in the close vicinity of the lake. So when we found €80 return trip tickets to Venice, which is only a 2.5 hr drive from Ljubljana, we quickly got excited about saving some money and also spending some time in Italy! Kai and I had both been to Venice before, and so we decided to do a pit stop a bit closer to Slovenia in Trieste, Italy. We flew into Venice late on a Wednesday night, slept at a cheap and cheerful airport hotel, took advantage of the free breakfast the next morning (ohh how my heart loves a good Italian breakfast of meats, cheeses, crusty bread, and espresso!) and hit the road early enough to arrive in Trieste by lunch time.  Continue reading

Cabin Camping at Lake Bled, Slovenia

Hello, are you still there? I know it’s been a while, like, a really, really long while. But life-insanity is starting to slow down a bit, and there are so many colorful travel photos in my back-log to share. Some highlights from the past few months? I wrote a book! If you enjoy my musings at Amsterdam & Beyond, you’ll probably love my take on Amsterdam in The HUNT Guide. It comes out in August and I am so excited to flip through the pages and hold my words in my own two hands! I write for different travel apps and sites around the web, but this is my first published print work.

Ohh, and I also bought an apartment. A horribly crappy apartment. It’s located in the canals, it has huge bright windows in every room, and it was just the right size. Other than that it was a sad shell, built in the 1960’s and not given much love since. And so I made floor plans, knocked down walls, steamed off wallpaper, commissioned builders, removed tiles, bought faucets, a kitchen, doors, and a big-ass bath tub. And two months later, voilà! With a little bit of imagination and a lot of hard work, my horrible-crappy apartment is slowly transforming into my dream home :) So those are the two big projects that took up most of my spare time the past few months, plus regular work, friends, family, and travel (as per usual!) 

Last September, Kai and I took a trip to Lake Bled in Slovenia. I stumbled upon these beauties earlier this week when picking out a few photos to print and hang in my new place, and was inspired to share! 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