Visiting the Tulip Fields in Holland

If you follow me on Instagram or Snapchat, you might have noticed that my travel schedule has been (for lack of a better a phrase) pretty f*cking hectic lately. In April I had guests or work travel every week, with the exception of one stunning long weekend, right at the end of the month. My boyfriend, who I had been neglecting due to work obligations and guests, sweetly suggested that we enjoy the long weekend together. And so I took a red eye back from NYC, napped for a few short morning hours, and packed yet another bag. Thankfully, we had decided to forgo planes and enjoy a mini-European road trip, with an overnight in Antwerp, Belgium and some spontaneous pit stops along the way. Road trippppp! :)IMG_5592Springtime is my favorite season in Holland. In the spring, the weather is often warmer and more reliably sunny than in the summer, and!! you have the tulips. Miles and miles of endless colors paint the horizon, as Holland’s flagship crop begins to bloom. As Kai had never seen the Dutch tulips in all their vivid glory (which I’ve done before, many times! here and here) I suggested that we take our first road trip pit stop in Lisse, where the rainbow-colored tulip fields are both abundant and magnificent.

If you are also interested in visiting the tulips in Holland, here are some tips on when to visit, what to do, and how to get there (along with some photos from our adventure!) Continue reading

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The Keukenhof, Holland

I’m sorry for going quiet these past few days. There are ebbs and flows in blogging, and this past week has definitely been a photo-taking, e-mail-answering, event-attending week. So I neglected the blog space slightly, for which I am sorry! To make it up to you, I would like to share the most colorful post of all time :) One of the reasons I’ve been preoccupied lately is because I’ve had a slew of guests visiting over the past few weeks. First my two best friends, Katie and Amie, came to town. Then my Mom. And then two good friends from college. So now springtime is coming to a close, and I truly feel like the past month has flown by in a blur. I took two weeks off from work, and there have been numerous long holiday weekends this month as well. As you can imagine, with so many guests, I’ve been constantly on the go, super social, and doing tons of cool things in and around Amsterdam! One sunny day while my Mom was here, we headed over to the stunning Keukenhof to admire the endless flower gardens (I’ve mentioned the Keukenhof before here, in my Amsterdam city guide!)
IMG_7168I really have no words that could compare to the beauty of the Keukenhof . . .  Continue reading

Villandry, London

One of the many reasons I love London is because they freakin’ rock the brunch scene. In my opinion, a good brunch menu should have a handful of healthy options (think hearty salad, fresh fruit, homemade muesli, yogurt), the absolute breakfast basics (croissants, jam, fresh bread, porridge), a selection of morning cocktails (especially mimosas), some classics for the mainstream (eggs benny, buttermilk pancakes), and a few ‘wow’ entrees that go above and beyond your average breakfast expectations. Bakers and Roasters and Little Collins tick all the boxes here in Amsterdam, but otherwise, an exceptional breakfast spot is hard to come by in the ‘dam. However, in London, almost every brunch establishment knocks it out of the park – inventive mimosas, flaky croissants, and all.

On my last Sunday in London, Roshni and I popped out to meet up with Emily. The three of us lived together in Leeds, and haven’t all been in the same room since 2010! And what’s the best way to reconnect? Over brunch of course! We set off for Villandry on an ironically wet morning.
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Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens

While in Maine, my mom suggested a family outing to the Costal Maine Botanical Gardens.

I’m sure I’ve made this apparently obvious over the past few years, but I LOVE flowers. I usually have a bunch of fresh peonies or ranunculus brightening up my indoor space, my balcony is adorned with white lavender and potted daisies, and I’ve been known to take road trips for the sole purpose of gazing at fields of tulips.

At the time of my mom’s suggestion, the Keukenhof was the only flower garden I’d ever visited. It’s one of the biggest and most beautiful spring gardens in the world, with a kaleidoscope of color, featuring more than seven million tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths. As the Dutch are known for their beautiful blooms, I was eager to see what Maine’s botanics had to offer in comparison.IMG_2025And so my mom packed us a delicious picnic lunch, and with my sister and gramma in tow, we hopped into the car for an early morning drive up to Boothbay, Maine. 
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Country Life

I’m home. Or at my parent’s house, I should say. They live in Maine where life is easy. Their house is tucked away on a country side road, ten minutes from the beach, ten minutes from the city, and ten minutes from absolutely nowhere. Their old farm house is surrounded by fields and flowers and fruit trees, and in the morning the golden grass is wet with dew. I feel like I’ve come home to a safe haven, where I can cry and laugh and yell, and no one can hear me. When I’m laying in bed with the windows open, all I can hear is the hum of crickets and the chirp of baby birds. So I never feel alone and everything feels so alive, in a completely different way.IMG_0804I’ve spent the past 24 hours embracing the simple things. Continue reading

Tulips in Holland

Dutch fun fact time! Despite being a super tiny country (comparable to the size of Maryland) Holland ranks 3rd worldwide in value of agricultural exports, earning over $55 billion annually. Considering the limited amount of surface space here, I’d say that’s a pretty impressive feat. And the most significant agricultural export? Fresh-cut plants, bulbs, and flowers – the Netherlands exports two-thirds of the world’s total! If you’re thinking of visiting Holland, I highly recommend coming at the end of April. The trees are full on green this time of year, the sun is our until 9pm, Queen’s Day (I guess now formally known as King’s Day) is right around the corner, and the tulips, Holland’s most impressive crop, are in full technicolor bloom.IMG_6722But let me start from the beginning . . .  Continue reading

The Lavender Fields of Provence

Visiting the lavender fields of Provence, France, has been a prominent lust on my travel bucket list for some time now. To catch the lavender, you have to time your trip just right – if you’re too soon you miss the bloom, and if you’re too late, they may have already harvested the beautiful flowers to dry. Luckily, not only did we catch the lavender, but we were also treated to speckles of red all along the landscape, as the poppies were still mildly in bloom as well. But before any of that, we had a slight road-trip ahead of us, up into the French Alps. IMG_0165^ ^ I spy with my little eye. . . . IMG_0184^ ^ We followed a driving route mapped in the Michelin Green Guide to the French Alps. In the book, the tour is called the Valensole Plateau. We wound into the mountains, and after more than an hour of navigating twisting roads and rocky slopes, we were treated to some stunning views.IMG_0199^ ^ This was our first glimpse of the lavendar fields, far, far off in the distance.IMG_0236^ ^ In the middle of the green mountains, we spotted a true-blue oasis. The driving route took us in a curve around the entire lake, and we vowed to come back for a swim later if we had time.IMG_0214IMG_0225IMG_0221IMG_0227IMG_0260We stopped in Riez for a little picnic, but didn’t stay long as the small town was all shuttered up for the lunch hour. If you’re traveling in France, try to avoid city-visits during the lunch hour (12.30-3ish) or Sunday – they will look like ghost towns! I recommend hitting Reiz in the early day, as they have a lovely  morning market.

IMG_0295Our next city stop was Valensole, where we collected lavender gifts for family and friends. IMG_0323IMG_0314 After a bit of city sunshine soaking, we were ready to see the lavender!IMG_0340v v A failed attempt at capturing our excited-lavender-faces.IMG_0336IMG_0394We drove by private lavender farms and sprawling lavender hills, but after a bit of scouting, we chose a lovely lavender field to wander. Bright and purple and swarming with bumble bees, this field was flat and nestled right in the foothills of the Alps.IMG_0413IMG_0389 IMG_0393IMG_0411The fields are alive, buzzing with the sound of honey bees. And the scent is nothing I could describe in words. IMG_0405IMG_0419We strolled through the fields, snapping photos and taking in the view. IMG_0437Ohh, and practicing some yoga postures. v v IMG_0445 IMG_0448 IMG_0469^ ^ Breathe deep, with Claritin®! Kidding, but doesn’t this look like some kind of allergy medication ad?!IMG_0472 IMG_0490 IMG_0491 IMG_0492^ ^ Don’t tell anyone, but we borrowed a few sprigs to take home ;) After roaming the fields, we headed back towards Cannes, once again passing by the crystal clear lake, sitting quietly in the heart of the plateau.IMG_0504We made an executive decision to dip our toes, so we started the steep decent down the mountain, towards the water.IMG_0511When we got there, only B was brave enough to put on his suit and go for a swim. The Alps are considerably colder than the French Riveria. IMG_0535Regardless, it was a great finale to our road trip, and I know it was B’s favorite part of the trip!IMG_0541

Monday Happiness

I think I’ve stressed this before, but lately, I’ve been super, super busy with work. In a nutshell? I work at 180 Amsterdam. I am Account Manager on Western Union and they are the Presenting Partner of the UEFA Europa League. Which means me, the girly American, had to learn all about soccer football.

My calendar year now seems to revolve around the UEFA Europa League Final – which is in two days! And by pure coincidence the Final is taking place in Amsterdam this year. We have so many projects and awesome activations coming to life over the next 48 hours – I’m excited, nervous, and very sleep deprived.

Hence the flowers.

Flower1You see, when I am so busy with work, I really don’t have time for anything else. Friends, drinks, dates, and fun all get the backseat and life becomes functional. Work. Shower. Food. Sleep. When this happens, I do two things.

Firstly, I stock the fridge with tons of goodies. If I’m going to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner at my desk four days a week, that one night I make it home is going to be culinarily phenomenal.

I also buy flowers, because they make me happy. Flower3Flowers are easy. I love books, baking, and bikram, but sometimes I just don’t have the energy or time to enjoy my favorite things. So when I’m short on time, it’s the little pleasures, like flowers, that keep me sane and bring an easy smile to my face. 
Flowers2So these are my pink peonies, the delicate little buds I took a gamble on at the farmer’s market this weekend. Over the past two days, they’ve blossomed into the most beautiful flowers I have seen in a long time.flowers3And so on Monday night, when my eyes are heavy and my brain can’t stop ticking with work, this is what happiness looks like. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. x

Kicking off Queen’s Day

Today I woke up to my beautiful tulips, fully bloomed, wishing me a cheerful ‘good morning!’ They were a happy sight, so I took a quick snap to share with you all.

FlowersTheir colors are quite timely, considering  the Queen’s Day festivities kick off today. Every year on April 30th, the Dutch get sloshed and raise a glass to the Queen. Amsterdam tuns into a giant block party, with awesome stages in all of the main squares, drinking and dancing in the streets, and hundreds of party boats all trying to navigate through the crowded canals. It’s an incredible sight – everyone wears orange and comes outside to enjoy the festivities. This year is extra special, as it’s the last Queen’s Day for a long time. Beatrix, the Queen, will be handing the throne over to her son on Tuesday, so next year we will be celebrating Kings Day! The coronation will take place in Amsterdam, so it’s a big day for the city!

Tonight, 180 has their annual Queen’s Day party with music, dancing and drinks – the start of an awesome weekend, packed with celebrations, and hopefully the sun will be out as well!

Hope you all have a lovely one! x