Easter in Texel, The Netherlands

Usually I spend the long Easter weekend in London (see here and here) but this year, I decided to switch it up. I’m headed over to the UK for the Royal Ascot in June, so I’ll still be seeing all of my London friends then, on a slightly belated schedule this year :) And to be honest, I’ve been traveling so much for work as of late, the thought of cramming all of my belongings into yet another suitcase, braving Schiphol, and hopping on an airplane in my downtime sounded tiring and unappealing. And so as the long Easter weekend slowly crept up, I decided to stay local. IMG_4586Luckily, my guy friend ;) was also stark on plans, and so we started toying around with the idea of taking a road trip up to Texel, an island in the north of Holland marked by endless dunes and white sandy beaches.  Continue reading

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Vernazza, Italy

For the past 18 months, I’ve been dreaming of Italy. Shortly after my breakup with B, I had an irrational brainwave (probably inspired by a Pinterest board) imploring me to roam the Bel Paese (or beautiful country, in Italian). I spelled out the dream holiday previously in this post – the trip would involve exploring Tuscany, grooving my way through Rome, and splashing in the sea on the Amalfi coast. At the time of my fantasy, I did not know Cinque Terre existed. If you did not know Cinque Terre existed, you are in for a delight. IMG_0761Cinque Terre means The Five Lands in Italian, and is comprised of five stunning seaside villages: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. Hiking trails and trains scale the lush, hills of the Italian Riviera, connecting the villages. Boats also ferry between the villages, however a major part of Cinque Terre’s charm lies in the fact that the villages aren’t quite accessible by car. Olive and lemon trees speckle the hills, terraces run along the rugged, steep landscape, overlooking the sea, and seafood is plentiful in the local cuisine. Essentially, Cinque Terre is an Italian lover’s dream, and so when Amie made her semi-annual pilgrimage to Amsterdam, we booked an inception vacation (a vacation inside Amie’s vacation) to the stunning Italian Riviera, to visit none other than Cinque Terre. Continue reading

Summer in Maine, USA

As I’ve blogged about visiting Maine many, many times before (see here, here, here, and here – just to name a few!) I was less vigilant about whipping out my camera for the sole purpose of blogging this time around. I snapped a few photos here and there, but mainly to remember the moment or capture a smile – as most photographers would :) And so while I don’t have specific reviews or recommendations to post, I do have a great collection of Maine memories to share from this summer. IMG_8126From a photographic perspective, the highlight of the trip was getting to spend lots of time in Portland, Maine, which is a quick 15 minute drive from my parent’s country house. Portland is the biggest city in Maine, and (although I’m totally biased) it’s also one of the most beautiful. The small, harbor city is set on a hill and boasts of cobblestone streets, long wharfs, red brick buildings, and deep-blue ocean views. Continue reading

Southend-on-Sea

Nat is one of my awesome UK girlfriends. I’ve told you about her previously, when we popped into Granger & Co and caught up over scrambled eggs and strong coffee. She’s a doll who has been a good a friend since we both worked at a summer camp in Maine, way back in the day! As she now lives in the UK, I wanted to squeeze in some Nat time on my most recent London trip. Turns out, Nat had a rental car for a few days over the long holiday weekend, so we booked in a mini road trip to the seaside.

When I go to London, I rarely escape. I love eating out, fancy cocktail bars, a billion shopping options, and of course soaking up as much friend time as humanly possible. I’ve never really ventured outside of London to see the likes of Windsor or St Albans, both of which are on my bucket list. This time around, Nat suggested we head over to Southend-on-Sea, an adorable seaside town in Essex, England. It’s a short drive east from central London, and boasts of the longest ‘leisure’ pier in the world. IMG_6604The sky was grey, which in my opinion only made the day more beautiful – I LOVE taking photos when the sky is overcast. Also, turns out there was a big motorcycle convention in the Southend that day, which meant lots of big burly men walking around in leather (and women too!) and loud motorbikes screaming in every direction.  Continue reading

Babes on Bikes in Barcelona

On Friday night I left work and grabbed a cab to the airport. Melissa, my longest and closest Dutch friend (I’ve told you about her here and here) had been kidnapped earlier in the day and whisked away for a surprise trip to Barcelona. Melissa is getting married in two week’s time (eee!!) and our jaunt over to Barca was her last ‘hurrah’ before the big day. Friday night in Barcelona was low-key, as we had a bright and early start planned on Saturday. We kicked the weekend off with a champagne breakfast and some silly games, followed by a walk to the bike shop where we all rented bicycles for the day. The Dutch are known for their love of bikes, and ironically the bike shop owner in Barcelona was also Dutch! After renting 16 bight orange bikes, we hit the road for a self guided tour around the city, stopping in large centers and at beautiful parks to complete inane tasks and drink more champagne.IMG_5401Most of the photos in this post were taken one-handed from the back of my bike (yep, I’m also pretty Dutch at this point!) so excuse the lack of a concentrated subject matter. Hopefully the abundance of palm trees and blue skies will make up for it :) Continue reading

Boothbay, Maine

Pressed Words isn’t just my blog, it’s my diary. Sometimes I write for hours, and then publish the post privately. It’s a collection of adventures and thoughts for you, and even deeper notes and memoirs for myself. It’s been an excellent, therapeutic healing tool over the past few months, and I truly believe that in 10 years, when I have 3 kids and am living in some cookie-cutter neighborhood, I will look back at Pressed Words and will feel genuinely thankful that past-Ali took the time to document her travels and young adult adventures. But last night something weird happened, and it made me question whether I should use Pressed Words as a private diary in addition to a public forum. I published a note my Mom had sent to me, as a private post. The title of the post read ‘private’, as all private posts do, but five minutes later my mom sent me a text asking why the heck I had shared her e-mail on my blog. I looked, and it was still marked as private, but apparently a glitch had occurred and all of my e-mail followers were sent the private blog post. I actually got a few high-five comments from readers today saying how much my mom rocked (no denying, she is amazeballs) but either way, I was confused and annoyed, and definitely questioning my judgement in using Pressed Words as a private journal. The post could have been much, much, much worse, and the last thing I want to do is spam you with annoying Ali-thoughts that don’t make much sense.

I’m telling you this for two reasons. A) I am taking the leap and am going to start journaling with a good old fashioned pen and paper. I have terrible, scribbly handwriting and typing is so much faster (my thoughts tend to race too fast for a pen and paper) but I’m going to give it a shot!! Do any of your journal the old fashion way? Care to share some advice? B) My mom has been on my mind (if you couldn’t tell by the faulty e-mail post!), and this update is for her. She’s a sea-lady and loves the ocean. So even though I’m not posting her super-personal e-mail, I am writing this post for her, as deep sea blues and cyan skies always remind me of my mom :)

Meet Boothbay Maine:IMG_2126 Continue reading

Ferry Beach, Maine

Summer is coming to an end. I had hopped that we would get a surprise August heat wave. But no, it’s been raining almost every day here in Amsterdam, and I can confirm that it is definitely now jacket weather. My feet feel chilly on the wood floor in the morning. I’ve busted out my fall clothes. And I’ve been drinking warm tea again – a sure indication that winter is coming soon. Despite the shift in season, I still have still have a few more Maine holiday posts to share. In fact, I’ve had such an active and fun summer, I have a LOT of photos I want to get up on the blog over the next few weeks. A back-log of happy memories and fading summer glory. Today, I wanted to show you the beach.

IMG_1936I am really lamenting this scene. Deep blue Maine sea hues, adorable fishing boats, and sunny blue skies . . .  Continue reading

Reggae on Peaks Island, Maine

If you’re ever in Portland, Maine for the summer, going to Peaks Island for Reggae Sunday is absolutely mandatory. It’s a quintessential Maine summertime outing, and it is not to be missed! The adventure starts on a ferry that departs from Commercial Street in Portland, and cruises through Casco Bay, passing lighthouses, fishermen, and sailboats along the way.IMG_1799 Continue reading

Bloemendaal aan Zee

You live in Amsterdam. It’s summertime, the weather is beautiful, and you want to sip wine on the beach. But there are no beaches in the city, or at least the kind you’re used to . . . where the sand is soft and silky white, and the horizon line is endless. Luckily, you have a smart friend. She suggests a ride to the beach (because she’s awesome and has a car). . . . and even though it’s Wednesday night, you say ‘why not!’ By 6.30pm you’re at the ocean, with almost four full hours of sunshine left to go. Welcome to my hump day at Bloemendaal!DSCF0304Bloemendaal aan Zee is a 20 minute car ride from Amsterdam. Continue reading