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


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

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

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

What I Feel

A wild sense of being an adult and having total independence. Ben moved his things out of the house on Saturday. I helped him pack. I then cleaned the house, put fresh covers on the couches, bought plants for the balcony, re-arranged my clothes in the closet, threw away the half-eaten boxes of Ben-cereal, and lit a candle. It’s strange being in ‘our’ apartment and thinking of it as ‘mine’. But that’s what it is now, and this feeling is both terrifying and liberating. Looking around, thinking, ‘hey, I’m a single chick who lives by myself in Amsterdam,’ is a very powerful thought.  Continue reading

Brussels, Belgium Part 1

In the US, bank holiday weekends are dispersed rather evenly throughout the year – Veteran’s Day takes place in November, Independence Day in July, Memorial Day weekend occurs in September, and Columbus Day crops up in October. While I love a well-rounded calendar year, I think the Dutch might be on to something. Instead of spreading bank holidays throughout the year, four long weekends are given between April and June, allowing the Dutchies to enjoy Holland’s most glorious sunshine months.

I tried to tempt B to go on a long Istanbul weekend with no luck. KLM, please stop sending me last-minute ticket reminders, I’m trying to save up for  wedding! Instead of venturing off somewhere exotic (sad), B and I have been enjoying a series of mini stay-cations in and around Holland. Three weekends ago we rented a scooter and hit the tulip fields in Lisse, and more recently, we took advantage of our second long spring-weekend and hopped on a train down to Belgium for the day.

B and I have been to Belgium before – it’s a short train ride from Amsterdam, and the food, beer, and chocolate are considerably better! On separate occasions we have visited Antwerp, Ghent, and Bruges, so this time around we knew to expect beautiful architecture and delicious food. But nothing prepared us for the stunning square that greeted us – Brussels has my vote for prettiest center in Europe!Brussels Center Continue reading

Paris Part 4

Ohh gosh guys I’ve missed you!! One post a week is just not acceptable. Work was really intense last week, and as a result my brain feels like a fried egg. I had to work over the weekend, and I know it’s going to be another busy one this week. I love my job and the awesome challenges that advertising presents, but I also miss normal-life things when I work these hectic hours – eating meals at home, going to the gym, blogging, snuggling, and sunlight.

Anyways, it’s 8pm and I’ve snuck out of work ‘early’ for the night, so I wanted to finally share with you my Paris Part 4 post. Where did we leave off? After a late dinner on Friday and an ambitious Saturday sprinting all over the city, B and I decided to relax a bit on Sunday. We started with a lazy stroll to the Eiffel Tower, which was not very far from our flat. IMG_1577Summer has always been my favorite season, but after seeing springtime in Paris, I may have changed my mind. IMG_1568The sky was a brilliant blue, the air was warm, and there was not a cloud in the sky to be seen.IMG_1573IMG_1590I don’t want to spam you with Eiffel Tower photos, but man, it was pretty.IMG_1604Below is the only photo B and I got together in Paris. An old man who didn’t speak a world of English came up and motioned that he wanted to take our photo. I hesitantly handed over my camera, half expecting him to sprint. He then spent ten minutes trying to figure out how to work the automatic focus. B walked over and showed him how to point the camera at us, press the button half way down to focus, and then press fully to snap the shot. The old man did not get it. So B walked over again, and then again. By the third time we were genuinely smiling, as this guy was so cute and helpful and clearly trying his best to take a great photo. And on attempt number three, voilà! IMG_1616I love that every photo has a story. 

Great photography makes you wonder who is behind the lens, what happened moments before, what will happen after, who the subjects are, what they were thinking, etc. Some photos say a lot. Others, my favorite kind, leave you guessing and intrigued. IMG_1638After seeing the Eiffel Tower, we decided to head over to Pierre Hermé. We took a complete gamble, as 90% of shops are closed in Paris on Sunday. But the adventure was in the journey, and if we were lucky, we would be rewarded with delicious macaroons. IMG_1632Lots of people go to Paris and swoon over Ladurée. Taste wise, I love both Ladurée. We all know I have an insatiable sweet tooth ;) IMG_1644But these days, Ladurée is showing up everywhere. You can find Ladurée in almost every European capital, not to mention countless other major cities around the globe. I’m glad their business is booming, but when I go to Paris to eat macaroons, I want to feel like I’m eating something I can’t find in my backyard – something unique to the City of Light.IMG_1662I prefer Pierre Hermé, which is native to Paris. . . . . and Tokyo. Why Tokyo? Way back when, Hermé originally worked for Ladurée in Pairs. When he left Ladurée to start up his own macaroon venture, he was banned from working in Paris, due to a non-compete clause in his contract! So you’ll also find Pierre Hermé in Tokyo, but with good reason.

I’m also glad we chose Pierre Hermé. . . . . IMG_1655. . . as they were actually open on Sunday! Initially the prognosis was not looking good. Every shop we walked by was guarded by barred windows and locked doors.IMG_1656But half way down the street, we saw a small group of people on the sidewalk. And as we got closer, we realized they were eating macaroons! We swooped into Pierre Hermé, the only open door on the street, and started pointing at this and that, debating our fare.IMG_1648IMG_1659We went for a box of macaroons and some random confections – a croissant filled with raspberry jam,  a salted caramel tart, and a sweet, sticky cinnamon roll.IMG_1660IMG_1665IMG_1669^ ^ This was seriously the best croissant I’ve ever had! It tasted like a raspberry danish paired with the softest croissant I’ve ever tasted. Le sigh!IMG_1685We ate our breakfast outside in a big square, listening to church bells and chirping birds. IMG_1679We found a nearby park and strolled through the manicured gardens. If there’s one thing the French do well (other than creating delicious bread, wine, coffee, and macaroons) it’s building beautiful gardens. IMG_1674Despite our sugar feast, B and I were still hungry! So we decided to take a friend’s recommendation and head towards Bonjour Vietnam. My colleague Christy is from Japan, and she swears that Bonjour Vietnam serves the best Vietnamese food in Europe. After two days of rich, buttery French food, we were ready for something slightly different.IMG_1682^ ^ We knew we were close by when we saw this guy!IMG_1695Bonjour Vietnam really is a hole in the wall place. If B and I were walking by, we probably wouldn’t have given it a second look. The restaurant can only seat 12 people, and there are only two employees – a man waiting on the guests in the dinning area and a woman slaving away in the kitchen. We weren’t too sure what to get (I haven’t had Vietnamese food since I was living in the US!) so we pointed to a few things on the menu and left our meal up to chance.IMG_1690I had fried scallops and B had sweet and sour beef. Both were delicious, but I think we both had pho envy when the people sitting next to us were served huge bowls of steaming noodles. IMG_1692We kept out meal short (I only took the above two photos) as we had to go back to our flat, pack, and catch a cab to the train station.IMG_1642 IMG_1703We enjoyed the view from our flat one more time before grabbing our bags and heading to the taxi stand downstairs.IMG_1714IMG_1706After two days in Paris we were exhausted. We had sun burned noses and VERY tired feet. We also had a whole bag of macaroons to demolish :)IMG_1715Falling into the train to relax for a few hour was literally just what we needed. And to top it off, we had sprung for first class, so we were fed snacks and tea and treated to free wifi.IMG_1717Goodbye Paris, you are beautiful and amazing and delicious, and I can’t wait to see you again soon! IMG_1721xo Ali

Valentine’s Day Eye Candy

If you haven’t noticed already, I’m quite a girly girl. Everything in my world is pink and rosy, and if there’s an extra side of hearts, lace, and frill, I’m smitten. To celebrate romance, I have a few Valentine’s Day posts up my sleeve. But before you get those, I wanted to share a few inspiration photos from around the web. Most of these pictures are snagged from my pinterest. They represent a collection of gifts, clothing, decorations, date ideas. . . . really anything associated with Valentine’s Day and this season of love. So feast your eyes on some delicious candy, and check back in the coming days for some love-inspires updates!