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

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

Fall in Amsterdam

Amsterdam is stunning in the fall. A light haze has set in above the city, complimenting the earthy hues that mast Amsterdam’s cobblestone streets. Golden sunlight slips through the trees, and sparkling shadows are cast along the canals. There’s a buzz in the air as people scurry a tad bit faster on bikes and scooters to avoid the city’s new, frigid state. 
IMG_0345I truly can’t believe it’s mitten weather again already, but this past weekend, an undeniable chill arrived in Holland. While summer is my favorite season, the cold air of fall makes my lungs feel alive again. And so while the foliage slowly dies, I’m awakened by chilly fingers and crisp oxygen in my chest. On Saturday, following a leisurely brunch with my girlfriend Sophie, I decided to take a long stroll around the city to enjoy the autumnal sunshine and capture Amsterdam’s golden glow with my camera.

Here are a few photos from my walk :)

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Tips for Hiking to Kjeragbolten, Norway

Sorry I’ve been absent this past week. I’m honestly feeling a little bit blue. I just swapped out my little summer dresses for big wooly sweaters and warm leather boots. Fall is here and I’ll be 29 in three weeks. I’m at an age where I’m supposed to have my shit together, but I’m feeling restless and like I still have a lot to figure out. And while these last few weeks of summer have been really therapeutic and restful, I still barely have the attention span to watch a whole movie. Over the past 5 years I’ve evolved into this go-go-go person, and I find the act of simply resting or slowly digesting a book oddly foreign. Even while unemployed, I have to-do lists that are a mile long. I’m yet to spend an unemployed day under the duvet, binging on Netflix. To thrive and feel happiness, I need to be challenged. I’m ready to have too much on my plate and work ungodly hours. And so this morning I finally started looking for jobs. Researching into agencies and brands I’d be interested in working with in Amsterdam, and maybe even beyond :) I feel like this past year has come with SO many changes, and it’s time for me to take the reins. With that in mind, nothing says ’empowerment’ like hiking 570 meters up and into the Norwegian Fjords. I told you about Stavanger and camping, and now I will tell you about the best part of our trip to Norway – climbing up to Kjeragbolten.Norway Camping_9669Kjeragbolten is a boulder located on Kjerag mountain in Norway. The base of the mountain is about a 2.5 hour drive from Stavanger. There are also ferries that travel regularly to and from the mountain. The boulder itself is a wedged deep in a crevasse of Kjerag, suspended above a 984-meter abyss.  Continue reading

Camping in Norway

After a quick 24-hour stop in Stavanger, Kira, Elliot, Anthony, and I picked up our trusty rental car and started the steep drive towards Kjerag, a Norwegian mountain located in the Lysefjord. Our ambition was to hike up to Kjeragbolten, a huge boulder wedged between two cliffs, dangling 3,00ft in the air – but that adventure calls for a whole separate blog post, which I will share next week :) In addition to our epic boulder hike, we were really excited to simply live out of our backpacks for a few days, soak up the stunning Norwegian landscape, and fall asleep under the stars.
Camping on a waterfallNorway is unique in that it is legal to camp freely on uninhabited land. This law is known as “every man’s right” as it grants access to uncultivated lands such as the mountains. Even private property is up for grabs, as long as it is not clearly inhabited by livestock, fenced off, or within 150 metres of a house. The general rule of thumb is leave the land as you left it – you must carry out all of your trash, and while it’s OK to start a campfire, forest fires are somewhat frowned upon ;)
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Baby Goat Farm, Amsterdam

We all have a happy place. My mom’s happy place is on the beach, toes dug firmly in the sand. My Dad’s happy place is on the family room couch, eating Cheez-Its and watching the Red Sox beat the Yankees on TV. My little sister Jess finds bliss while cruising around in her car, classical music blaring. And my sister Liz comes alive in the front of a classroom, with dozens of young, eager eyes following her lessons. I guess you could say I’m a bit of an odd ball, as my happy place just so happens to be a goat farm.

Last summer was tough. I went through an intense breakup, and settled into life alone in Holland. But in all actuality, I wasn’t alone. I was surrounded by wonderful friends who felt like family – who encouraged me to try new things and embark on new adventures. About a year ago, my dear friend Bex, having also recently experienced the woes of heartbreak, took me out to her happy spot – Amsterdam’s (well, Amstelveen’s) very own goat farm. IMG_7819The goat farm is located in the Amsterdam Bos, and is referred to as the Geitenboerderij Ridammerhoeve (say that in Dutch ten times fast!)  Continue reading

A Taste of Home

I’m so behind on blogging. Like, embarrassingly behind. I have two more Maine posts, three London posts, a delicious Amsterdam restaurant recommendation, and a trip to the zoo to share. I am strongly determined to catch up. But at the same time, I appreciate the lag. Going through Maine summer photos in late September makes me smile. These memories are precious and I am glad to have cause to visit them again. I mean, just look at this dreamy lobster roll . . . . IMG_2258If that doesn’t make you lament summertime, I don’t know what will. Double drool. I’m going to try and wrap up the Maine posts in the next two days, so without further ado, here’s a very big and delicious taste of New England.  Continue reading

Ice Storm in Maine

I’m sure you’ve all heard of a snowstorm, but have you ever experienced an ice storm? Last week the forecast was bleak. The weatherman said we were in for two days of rain, followed by a freezing cold period. As the temperature dropped, the roads iced over and everything became covered in a thick coat of freeze. B had never experienced an ice storm, and was quite surprised to find that everything from the cars to the pavement was coated in ice. If you follow me in instagram, you’ll have seen that trees were skewed and distorted by the heavy ice, and the roads were dangerous and slick. B and I tried to go to the beach, but we had a scary slide and decided to head back to the house. We explored my parent’s frozen yard instead.IMG_7344The trees were covered, like bark-popsicles!IMG_7354IMG_7362My Dad’s workshop was heated inside, so the body of the building didn’t freeze. But the dripping water froze, covering the shed in hundreds of tiny icicles. 
IMG_7363Towards the back of the yard we found lots of animal prints – rabbits, turkeys, and these deer tracks.IMG_7372Despite the freeze it’s been a refreshing change of pace in the countryside. I’m looking forward to enjoying one more week of Maine :)

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

Exploring the Île Sainte-Marguerite

On day 3 in Cannes, B and I hopped on a ferry and headed towards the Lérins Islands. We docked at the Île Sainte-Marguerite, the largest of the Lérins Islands, about a half a mile away from Cannes. It’s famous for its fortress, which once upon a time housed the Man in the Iron Mask. Today, it’s known for its stunning views of the French Rivera, serene beaches, and butterflies. Lots and lots of butterflies! We hiked our way around the island, stopping to go for a dip in the sea when we got too hot. We came across deserted buildings, lovely outlook points, and several hidden rocky coves. We collected sea-glass, enjoyed a picnic, and relaxed as we bronzed our skin. It was my favorite day in Cannes so far, surrounded by nature, exploring the unknown with my favorite :)IMG_8786^As we pulled out of Cannes into the harbor.IMG_8791IMG_8797IMG_8807^ ^ Landed! Our majestic ocean chariot (ferry).IMG_8830IMG_8806IMG_8804^ ^ The view of Cannes from Sainte-Marguerite.IMG_8802IMG_8828IMG_8812Into the wilderness we went!IMG_0039IMG_8822IMG_8853^ ^ The last signs of civilization (other than the yachts!)IMG_9005IMG_8824IMG_8942^ ^ Oasis number one, discovered!

IMG_0045IMG_8897IMG_0044 IMG_8940^ ^ Picnic / swim spot assembled!IMG_8922IMG_8912 IMG_8917IMG_8902img_8927^ ^ Time for a dip!IMG_0055IMG_0059IMG_0075^ ^  French sea glass to make something special for my Mom!
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IMG_8840IMG_8844IMG_8865^ ^ Keeping us hydrated. IMG_8986IMG_8989IMG_9002^ ^ Sometimes Sainte-Marguerite looked so much like Maine.IMG_8952IMG_9033IMG_9013^ ^ Sampling the waters in cove #2.

IMG_9026IMG_9021^ ^ Deep sea swimming with the fish.IMG_9027IMG_9032IMG_8995IMG_8951IMG_8974Sending lots of love from Cannes! x