I’m embarrassed to admit that I lived for 29 years without visiting LA. I grew up on the East Coast, spoiled by the nearby New York City and content to explore the gems of Boston in my own backyard. Later, when I went to university in Vermont, if I was not frolicking in the snow on a secluded mountain, I was shopping (Underground City!) or eating (poutine!) or dancing (drinking age!) in the nearby city of Montreal. When I turned 22, I moved to Europe, and shifted my focus to exploring as many European cities as possible. Prague, Cologne, Milan, Paris, Berlin, Bruges, Istanbul, London, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Edinburgh, Dublin . . . I am proud to say that the list goes on and on. However, up until recently, my travels were admittedly quite European-centric. I did go to San Diego, California once when I was a kid, where I was traumatized by a popsicle incident. We were spending the day at Sea World, and had just seated ourselves at the porpoise show, where a small child sitting behind proceeded to drop a large chunk of his chocolate Shamu popsicle down my back. It slid into my khaki shorts where it left a big, brown poop-like stain. I had to walk around all day in the smoldering heat, looking like I shat myself at a seal show. And that’s all I really remember about California, other than the numerous signs warming of snakes, and big, dirt-like mountains. So I never really had a desire to go back to the West Coast, even though lumping together and generalizing my distaste for three coastal states (one of which is 800 miles long), based on an unfortunate incident with a Shamu popsicle, was somewhat naïve. However, this past year on numerous occasions, my work travels brought be back to the West Coast, and one of those stops just so happened to be LA. Side note: I actually applied to jobs in LA when I stopped working at Sid Lee! I’m definitely ready to live in a warmer climate (sorry, Amsterdam), and LA is a great North American hub for advertising. Alas, LA was meant to be in my life in a different capacity at this time, and so serendipitously, I ventured there for a shoot with my new job at Booking.com. So let me tell you a little about LA . . . Continue reading
The past 10 days have been a total whirlwind. Friday the 12th was my (amazing, cool, super sweet) friend Kira’s birthday. It was a hot night, and so we ate popsicles and danced outside until it was dark, and then danced some more inside until the sun came back a few hours later. I love summertime in Amsterdam, and how many lucky hours of sunlight we get here! I had a super early 6am flight Saturday, and made it home from the birthday-dance party just in time to catch a 4am cab to the airport. I would rather dance all night than sleep for only 4 hours. The feeling of waking up with only a half-night’s sleep makes me sick to my stomach. Thankfully, I was able to recovered from my all-nighter with a solid nap on the plane, followed by a second bus-doze. After 6 hours of nap-traveling (while others drank beers and did fun awake things), the entire Sid Lee Amsterdam team arrived at St Tropez in France. I’ve been to the south of France for holiday before (read here, here, and here), and truly believe it’s one of the most beautiful vacation destinations in Europe. The Sid Lee crew spent the entire weekend, all of Monday, and half of Tuesday out of the office, soaking up the sun, eating seafood, and relaxing on the beach. I have ample St Tropez photos to come (perhaps the first double-post of this summer!?) but let’s stick to the ‘busy’ storyline for one more minute. Upon our return, work was insane. Although we only had 3.5 days in the office, there were 5 days worth of work to be done. By the time Friday arrived, I felt physically and mentally exhausted, and fell into bed early after a lavish Chinese dinner (I can never resist a good Nam Kee session) Then this past weekend I went camping in Belgium (probably no blog post on this as I illegally camped in a national park – ha!) and now Monday has come and gone and I’m taking a moment to pause, thinking . . . *wow* where has June gone?!
Anyways, that’s what I’ve been up to the past few days, hence being light on the blogging. But now, let’s get to the meat of this post! A few weeks ago, I noticed an adorable new vintage shop on my street, and so I took it upon myself to investigate. Kiloshop Amsterdam is a new(ish) ‘vintage by the kilo’ shop in de Pijp that not only sells vintage clothing, but also has a beautiful indoor hang-space where you can sip coffee and eat croissants in a bath of natural sunlight. Continue reading
When you live in a studio apartment, you can’t be precious with your junk. Wares that gather holes, duplicates, or a bit too much love need to be recycled. And if you don’t have the heart to chuck your goods in the bin, renting a stall at the the IJ-Hallen Marketis is the next best thing.
If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll have seen that our lovely wedding invitations arrived from Minted last week. Ahhhh!! * excited wedding dance * B and I were super on top of things and somehow managed to stuff, stamp, and post all 60 wedding invitations within 24 hours of their arrival. Now that the cat’s out of the bag for friends and family, I wanted to give you a peek at our invites, as well as offer some help – because selecting the right wedding invitations can be tricky! Unless you’re a Hallmark veteran, you’ll find yourself turning to the internet for the silliest of questions. Do I spell out the date? How do I address my 65-year-old aunt who lives with her long-term boyfriend? Do I need reception cards? Our day is really laid back, does the invite have to be formally worded? Could I make my own invitations? Where is the best place to order them? Seriously, there’s a lot to consider, so let me help you by putting all of the invite smarts in one place – a simple, wedding invitation crash course.
I could spend hours just gazing up at the Parisian architecture. The contrast of dark, curved window balustrades against light-washed stone is not only romantic, but mesmerizing. I can now say from experience that waking up on the other side of a beautiful Parisian facade is equally charming.We stayed in the 16th, and although our flat was small, it had some stunning views.
Waking up to warm blue skies was a delight, but paled in comparison to our crystal clear view of the Eiffel Tower. Good morning Paris!! When you have a view like this outside your window, you get dressed FAST. Watching the city is beautiful, but such a tease. B and I threw on clothes quick and hit the streets of Paris bright and early, eager to explore and discover a new city.The sunshine was on full force, and all of the trees were in bloom. Although our visit was in early March, the temperature was in the mid-60’s and we ended up carrying our jackets around most of the time. So much for the hats and scarves I packed!
Our first stop of the day was Les Puces de Saint-Ouen – the world’s biggest flea market. After an evening of cabs, we decided to brave the metro, which turned out to be quite underwhelming. It wasn’t packed, the trains ran regularly, and we quickly made a game of trying to guess the pronunciation of each stop before it was officially announced over the train’s speaker. We lost almost every time!
When we arrived at the market, we were greeted by miles of century-old knick-knacks. Stalls and long alleyways were lined with treasures and junk – old postcards, vintage linens, crystal decanters, fur coats, and broken cameras. Couches, dolls, doilies, and shawls. Les Puces de Saint-Ouen is a hoarder’s heaven. It’s like a massive French yard sale – and it’s one of my new favorite places.
We were a bit intimidated at first, but once we got bartering, we found it hard to stop. Everything is for sale, and all of the prices are negotiable. Aim low, bargain hard, and you can leave with some lovely treasures.
B and I scooped up a vintage cake knife for our wedding, and a glass candy dish for our home. I also bought a wool kilt and a leather fanny pack. Soon our pocket cash ran out and it was time to head back into central Paris. We strolled around until hunger hit, and we then went in search of falafel. A friend had recommended L’As Du Fallafel, where the crispy garlic chickpea fritters, creamy hummus, and fried eggplant have a deliciously awesome reputation. You can sit in or take away, but take away seemed to be the more popular option.Despite the long line leading up to the window, we only waited about fifteen minutes before being served. Before you hop in line, make sure to go into the store and pay first. You’ll be given a receipt, and then directed into the line outside. We saw a few people get turned away at the window, after waiting in line for some time, because they hadn’t yet paid inside. So remember to pay inside first!Which is dangerous, as the shelves are stacked with delicious looking treats.We debated finding a park bench or grassy area to plop down on, but in the end we really couldn’t wait, and dug into our Middle Eastern bounty right there on the sidewalk. It was delicious. The falafel were crisp and gently seasoned. The hummus was creamy and the harissa had just the right amount of spice. Underneath it all was a light and crunchy bed of slaw, rounding out the meal in a way that almost made you feel healthy. Almost.
After eating a falafel the size of my head, it was time for more walking. I think the neighborhood area of Le Marais was my favorite in Paris. There were beautiful buildings, but also a unique blend of art and culture. I would compare this neighborhood to Shoreditch in London, or maybe even de Pijp in Amsterdam. Most cities have one – a lovely-artsy neighborhood with hip shops, interesting street art, and interesting galleries. Just the kind of place you want to spend a weekend, or grab a coffee in the sun with girlfriends. B took this next photo – I have to say, he somehow manages to always get the best one in the bunch!We curved in and out of shaded streets, and even debated an ice cream cone. At one point we even got lost-lost, which was actually kind of fun – not knowing where we were, or really caring, in Paris.We were disoriented for maybe ten minutes, before hitting La Seine. We watched boats pass by, and I swear to you, I waved at every single one. Paris has this funny effect on me. . . where I want to smoke a sexy cigarette or dance in the streets to the buskers. Paris makes me feel carefree. Or maybe it’s just the first warm, sunny day of spring ;)That’s enough Paris for one evening. I have two more Paris updates to share, but you’ll have to wait another day or two for the next installment ;) Until then!
Let’s talk about something exciting . . . something like Paris.
I’ve been to Paris for work a few times, but never for play. I’m now getting extremely stoked because in a few weeks I’ll be traveling Paris with B for a long, fun weekend! As I’m a super-nuts-o-planner, I’ve spent the evening mapping out the must-dos, researching restaurants, and pinning some lovely Parisian spots – all while wearing my onesie, as you do. Usually I share my travel recommendations following the trip, but this time around, I wanted to share my plans ahead of time, incase you wanted to chime in with any recommendations as well!So first things first – let’s talk location. We’ll be staying right by the Eiffel Tower. ^ ^ This is the view from our flat. The most important thing was to be in the center of it all . . . . to be able to look out the window and think ‘ah, this is Paris!’ I don’t plan on spending much time at the flat, but I’m excited to see the Eiffel Tower twinkle from my bed. I found this place on AirBnb. I’ll be traveling a lot in the next few months with Radisson Blu (as I mentioned here), so I thought it would be cool to switch it up a bit and stay in an apartment this time around. I love the luxuries of hotels – the deep tubs, fuzzy bathrobes, and well tucked sheets. But staying in a French dude’s flat for a weekend is also cool, because you get to pretend to be a local :)
Now on to the second most important thing, food.I’ve been snooping through Timeout, as when I was in Lisbon they gave the absolute best restaurant recommendations. Here are a few food stops I’m contemplating:
1) Pierre Hermé – This stop is non-negotiable. Last time I was in Paris, I stocked up at Ladurée, so this time around I’m going for Hermé. If you’re going to go to Paris, you need to eat macaroons. I’m not just making this up. It’s the law.
2) Angelina – This is another stop I will definitely be making. Rumor has it Angelina has the thickest, most divine hot chocolate in all of Paris. You know I’m a sweets woman, so you know I will be at Angelina!
3) Pizza Chic – This is on the maybe list for lunch. Usually I only need to eat twice a day, especially if one of the meals is hot chocolate and macaroons. But B is a three times a day guy, and I know he’ll be starving by 1pm. So I’ve picked out a few lunch places, and Pizza Chic was top-recommended on Timeout.
4) L’As Du Fallafel – This is another lunch spot I picked out with B in mind, but hell, based on the reviews I may have to try it as well! Supposedly L’As du Fallafel has the best falafel in all of Paris. Going to have to test this theory . . .
5) Le Dauphin – I stumbled across this restaurant a while ago via another blogger, and have been wanting to give it a try. Vibrant and sexy, Le Dauphin is sister restaurant to Le Chateaubriand, which is *supposedly* the one of the best restaurants in the world. Le Dauphin is much more pocket-friendly, and is €23 for Starter+Main or €27 for Starter+Main+Dessert. Downside? It’s quite a hike from our flat.
6) Restaurant Astier – Right next door to Le Dauphin – also a bit of a trek from our flat. BUT Timeout gives it rave reviews, and Astier’s special menu is €45 and comes with a starter, a main, an unlimited cheese platter (!!!!) and desert. I know it’s a ways out, but I just keep thinking, unlimited cheese, unlimited cheese! (photo below).
7) Brasserie Mollard – Mollard is the third option for dinner on Saturday. They’re a bit closer to our accommodation and the interior is rockin’. They have all of the Parisian classics, and you can get the set menu – a first course, main course, and dessert for €33,70.
8) Au Pied de cochon – I’ve already told B we’re going to Au Pied de cochon for dinner on Friday night. They’re open 24/7, so even though our train doesn’t get in until 9.30pm, we can still have a late, stylish dinner. Hey, we’re only in Paris for two nights! You can get courses for €34.50. Au Pied de cochon are known for their delicious pork, but I’m more of a tartar lady myself. Decisions, decisions!
9) Moisan – One of the most popular bakeries in Paris. Always a line, the tarts are supposedly outstanding. Link here.
Next on the list are things to see – outdoor attractions, parks to walk by, monuments to photograph, bridges, etc.1) Parks – On my list are Monceau Park, Tuileries Garden, Luxembourg Gardens, and Parc De Bagatelle. This is a hard one, because loving a park is so subjective. Some people like trees, some people like quiet, and some people like people watching! From what I can see Monceau Park seems to be the most beautiful, and a trip to Luxembourg Gardens is the thing to do. I’ve saved all my park-picks on a map, and I’ll probably make it to whichever just so happens to be nearby at the time.2) Monuments – This list is obvious, but yell at me if I’ve missed anything important! I’m going to make a point of visiting the Eiffel Tower, the Place des Vosges, and the Arc de Triomphe. 3) Love Lock Bridge – You can’t go to Paris with your partner without locking your love on the bridge. I mean, if you’re in love, and you’re in Paris, this is just the ultimate cliche-cherry on the incredibly delicious cliche-sunday.
Second to last on the list is history. Paris has such a rich and romantic culture, from the Mona Lisa to the Renaissance architecture. On the list I have . . 1) Orsay Museum – I did some research, as I wasn’t sure if I would have enough time to go to both the Musée d’Orsay and the Louvre. When asked, most people chose the Musée d’Orsay. I was still a bit torn, but then saw that the special exhibit at the Musée d’Orsay is Gustave Doré (1832–1883): Master of Imagination. Sold.
2) The Louvre – Ok, so in the end I couldn’t choose just one. I am going to have to apply my ‘when in Rome’ mentality, and get up at 8am on Sunday to go to the Louvre. I will be there at 9am when the doors open, I will make a B-line for the Mona Lisa. If it gets crowded and overwhelming, I will leave. But you can’t go to Paris without seeing the Mona Lisa. She’s almost as important culturally as Pierre Hermé.
3) Notre Dame Cathedral – The only other history-related attraction I feel like I HAVE to see in Paris is the Notre Dame Cathedral. If we have time, we’ll climb it, if not, I’m happy gazing from the ground :)
Last on my to-do in Paris list is shopping . . . I have a few places picked out, but they’re not the high-street shops as you might expect. Sure, maybe some gals dream of Chanel and Louis Vitton when they envision a trip to Paris. But personally, I’m more excited for thrifting!! Thrifting and books.
1) Marche aux Puces de Saint-Ouen – This is the biggest flea market in Paris. Hell, it’s the biggest flea market in the world. I’ve heard people say they spent three days at the Marche aux Puces de Saint-Ouen and they STILL did not manage to see the whole thing. My goal is to come early on Saturday morning, even though it’s by far the furthest attraction from our flat. I’m going to buy junk. Lots and lots of junk. I’m a thrifting lady, and I’m not ashamed. Hence the next spot on the list . . .
2) Vintage stores – There are three or four vintage stores I want to check out in Paris, one of which is a pay by the kilo shop!! Kiloshop, Free’p’n Star, and Rag & Vertiges are all located in the same shopping district, conveniently close to the Notre Dame Cathedral and the Love Lock bridge. So I will be dragging B into a few thrifty stores, if only to momentarily satisfy my bargin-hunting-heart.
3) Shakespeare & Company – Also located nearby is Shakespeare & Company, the most famous bookstore in Paris – a book-worm’s dream. This is the kind of place you buy a book, just to say you bought a book. And then you treasure that book and pass it down to your kids and say, hey, this book is from Shakespeare & Company in Paris. Yes, I want to be able to say that!
If I’ve missed anything, please let me know!! I want to hear your Paris favorites and top recommendations :)
Now, maybe you’re wondering why the title of this post mentions Paris and a onesie . . .
I’m not feeling very well tonight, which is fine. I’m happy snuggled in bed drinking hot cocoa, surfing the web and mindlessly absorbing the internet. Any other night this might be considered boring, but not tonight. Tonight I have something special. Tonight, I’m wearing a brand new onesie.My dork level has risen about 10% thanks to this new wardrobe piece. I’d had my eye on the jumpsuits at OnePiece for a while, and was totally working up the courage to spend €2oo on a pair of pajamas. The running dialogue in my head went something like this . . . You’ll have this jumpsuit for the rest of your life. You can wear it all winter. You’ll never need to buy another pair of pajams ever again. You’re alway cold. It will be totally worth it. I was very close to turning my online shopping basket into a reality. But then, at lunch time on Friday, I was walking down the Albert Cuyp Market and I came across a onesie blowout sale! Off all the things . .This soft grey onesie was on sale for only €10! I used to avoid buying clothes from the Albert Cuyp Market. All of the shops and stalls just feel a bit synthetic. But then, just before Christmas, I found some lovely, handmade Italian leather purses. They would have been beautiful Christmas gifts, but as they were only €15 I was worried they were a bit cheap or fake. I didn’t buy them. About a month later, I saw the exact same purses for sale on the nine-streets, going for €85!! So I’m learning to go with my gut when it comes to the Albret Cuyp Market, as many retailers shop with the same vendors and then just package and price items differently. The second my hand grazed the inside of this onesie, I knew I’d found something special. It was soft and felt-like, and incredibly plush. It also had a hood and pockets – score! So not only do I look stylin’, I was able to do so on the cheap, and I’m super comfy to boot!
Anyways, that’s enough about my onesie. It’s getting late and I’m off to bed. Paris dreaming time. . .
*FYI – Although I take most of the photos on Pressed Words, the lovely Paris photos in this post are not mine. I’ll report back soon enough with some of my own. In the meantime, hats off to these lovely Parisian photographers!
I’ve been working at Sid Lee for the past two weeks, and I have to say, so far so good! I’m not yet drowning in work and I’ve been able to spent a good chunk of time learning about the business and the clients. I’ve met some cool, talented people, and from a personal standpoint, it’s just the change I needed. And to top it all off, I just got back from a crazy-cool team building workshop in Stockholm – so I’m getting to tour Europe a bit more as well!
If you’ve ever been on a business trip, you know it’s all work and hardly any play. Most of the time you stay up late working on a big presentation, and then you have to get up at the crack of dawn the next day for meetings. I’ve devised a particular travel mentality that revolves around the saying when in Rome. Yes, I will stay out for one more cocktail. Yes, I will get up at 6am to go on a long run around the city. Yes, I will hike up a ten story monument with my hand luggage, because hey, we have an extra 40 minutes until the cab arrives!
This trip to Stockholm was no exception, starting with my evening in the hotel. We were staying at Hotel Rival, owned by Benny Andersson of Abba. Every room had a copy of Abba Gold (only the greatest Abba hits of all time!) and a built in surround sound system – even in the bathroom! So on Monday night (after a long and boozy dinner) I stayed up late, swaying in the shower to Dancing Queen. It was superb, embarrassing, and epic. The hotel was really cool. In the rooms were small pots of candy, disco ball chandeliers, aforementioned music staples, and a snuggly teddy bear. Yes, a teddy bear!
On a slightly related note, I have some exciting news! I’ve been asked to be an ambassador for Radisson Blu, so for the next few months I’ll be traveling with them around Europe, staying in their hotels and getting to know the brand. Of course I’ll report back on the travels, but as part of the deal, I negotiated a little something for you too! Just a small something to say thank you for traveling with me around the world, and maybe even inspiring you to embark on a new adventure of your own :) So keep an eye out for something exciting for you as well as some new European travel tales – all thanks to the cool folks at Radisson Blu. From now on I’ll be staying exclusively with them, and I think Hotel Rival was a good note to end on :)
Anyways, back to Stockholm. Although my time there was limited, I woke up super early before meetings were scheduled, to explore the city. This was amazing because a. the city was quiet, sleepless, and the streets were all mine, and b. the sun was just rising. If you’ve never explored a European city at sunrise, you’ve never lived. I set off from the hotel fully prepared to get lost, which is my favorite way to explore a new city.Somehow I found my way to a beautiful lookout point, with gorgeous, early morning views of the Riddarfjärden Bay.Below you will find my failed selfie-attempt. This is the only downside to exploring a new city alone, super early in the morning – no passer-byers around to snap a quick photo memory! I continued to get more and more lost, until it was time to get back to the hotel. Thankfully the streets of Stockholm are not winding and identical, and are fairly easy to navigate.I followed steeple tops and a memorised path of construction signs back to the hotel. Which, by the way, was situated in a beautiful square, also home to this interesting statue.After a quick bite in the hotel and a full day of meetings, some colleagues and I were lucky enough to escape work obligations with a few hours to spare until our flight home. So we hit the streets once more, this time in the city center as the guys wanted to do some shopping at Acne Studios, which is headquartered in Sweden. My priorities were slightly different, as I had gone all day without a proper coffee. So a girlfriend and I hit up a local bakery, where we indulged in sweets and Swedish coffee, which is awesome. While day had started by exploring Stockholm at sunrise, it ended wandring the streets as the sun slowly set.
I took this last photo right before we got in the cab, and I pinkie swear I did not edit this photo what-so-ever. The sky was fading blue and the buildings were glowing pink as I said ‘tak’ (thank you) to Stockholm for such a great day, and sunshine to boot!If you’re in Stockholm for a day, here are a few places I tried, liked, and would recommend:
Dinner at Bar Nombre – Link to the website here. Food was good, cocktails were even better! The cucumber and elderflower vodka cocktail was divine and went down way too easy. We had reindeer for dinner which was also delicious.
Drinks (and maybe a haircut!) at Tjoget – Trendy cool bar, often awarded for their great drinks and mixology. Cool barber shop in front, get your haircut in the day, sip cocktails in the back at night.
Coffee and pasties at Fabrique – Small, aromatic bakery and sweets shop in the main shopping centre.
Shopping at Acne Studios – Why not spend all of your holiday money in one stop? Acne Studios can be found throughout Europe, but as they were founded in Stockholm, you have full permission to pick up an €80 hat or a €300 sweater instead of a lame postcard ;)
Shopping at . . . . .I forget the name!! OK, I need to update this one once I’m home and can look at my receipt. I bought a bad ass graphic wall calendar at a beautiful furniture shop. Of all the ah-manazing tSwedish things – coffee, clothes, cuisine – the furniture is best of the best. The girlfriend I was exploring Stockholm with is in the process of furnishing a new house, so we popped in and out of furniture stores, and honestly, OMG. You may have been to Ikea, but you have seen nothing, young grasshopper. I’ll update this one soon!
Maine has many slogans. It’s where American’s Day Begins due to it’s eastern reaching shoreline. It’s often called Vacationland as a homage to Maine’s beautiful four season weather, not to mention the mountains, lakes, woods, and the endless miles of sandy beaches. However, my favorite Maine slogan is The Way Life Should Be. I’ve traveled around the globe, and have lived in many different abodes. But snowy Maine clapboard houses are what my brain instinctively connects with the word home. I’m programmed to believe that Maine truly is the way life should be!
Since I’ve been at my parent’s I’ve been trying to enjoy the best of Maine. Waking up early to watch the turkeys eating from the bird feeders, driving around town Portland, taking a trip up to the LL Bean flagship store in Freeport, playing in the snow, and having cozy sleepovers at my grandparent’s in the woods. Here are a few snaps from this past week in Maine.In the last week we’ve had not one but two snowstorms! The first time around my Dad was home to dig us out, but the second storm came while my Dad was traveling. I ended up having to snowblow the driveway! I’ve gone from living a mild Dutch winter to being completely immersed in snow in Maine.
Shortly after the storm we drove up to my Grandparent’s house for dinner. The sky was dark and dramatic and the fresh snowscapes were something from a postcard.My grandparent’s street was slippery and plastered in snow.
My Gramma and Papa live on a lake, and this time of year it’s completely frozen. Someday I hope to have an equally dreamy kitchen sink view! I spent the night at their house and woke up early to go on a walk and take some photos outside. After an enjoyable stay at my Grandparent’s house, I headed back down to my parent’s house and had some bonding time. Meet my parent’s cat, Sox.I’m incredibly allergic to cats, but I can’t resist doting on him! On Wednesday we drove down to Boston and picked up B. He didn’t have as much holiday time as me, so he joined me in the States a week later. After a day spent at the house, we were feeling a bit stir crazy and decided to go for a walk in Portland. However, the roads were so icy and slippery, so we spent most of our Portland time shopping inside. I snapped the above photo during our walk, and the next day, a very similar photo was on the front cover of the Portland newspaper! I also finally got B up to Freeport where the LL Bean flagship store is located. They have a giant boot out front that B has been dying to take that quintessential Maine photo with!Boot photo, check! Hope you’re all having a happy holiday season! Can’t wait to share some more Maine adventures with you soon! X
What happens when you mix no sleep with three cups of coffee and two early hours of Nicki Minaj??
Back story: on Friday night I had to work until 1am. When Saturday morning generously followed in suit (sigh), I started climbing the walls. Why hadn’t the weekend started yet?! It was already half way over! When I hit ‘send’ on my last e-mail ’round lunchtime, celebration was in order. Cue kitchen dance party! I got through approximately three Nicki Minaj tracks before B kicked me out of the house, embarrassed, because he had friends over. Fine, I didn’t want to play with you guys anyways!
Enter my Saturday playground, lovely de Pijp. A cozy corner of Amsterdam where I spend my early mornings, evenings, and weekends shopping, strolling, and taking in the views.
I live on a pedestrian-only street that is lined with shops and restaurants and bikes. It’s pretty ideal – everything I need is literally at my doorstep! There are butchers and yogurt shops and concept coffee stores.Vintage clothes and toys for kids. Can you believe this cute little giraffe is my neighbor?If you’re thinking it’s all a bit too urban for you, simply stroll on to the next block. Here you will find Sarphatipark, a brief oasis of greenery in an otherwise very cramped city. In the park dogs play, and ducks swim. And at this time of year, all of the trees are dying in a brilliant shade.Hyper and lacking play buddies, I befriended some really cool turkey-ducks. Or lat least that’s what I started calling them, because it’s close to thanksgiving and they do look like some kind of exotic game you would stumble upon in a fall walk., IE. a turkey. But they’re really ducks. Turkey-ducks. I made pretend to feed them (just did a throwing gesture!) and they came right over to say hi. Hi duck with a cool purple feather, you would make a pretty hat but I like you as a duck.There were lots of seagulls in the park too, all just kind of chillin’ for once which was a nice change, seagulls are normally quite bothersome! Across from the park is B’s favorite street in all of de Pijp. When B and I go for a walk and he gets to navigate, we always end up on this street. It’s his usual to end the walk on, saying goodnight to our favorite houses last. On the other side of the park is another de Pijp gem, de Emaillekeizer. They mainly sell enamelware (damn my lack of storage space!!) but also have a lot of handicrafts from West Africa, such as baskets, lamps, mats, and jewelry (I stole that from the website, go look, it’s cool). If you and I are friends, you can expect to get a token from there for Christmas!!Venturing down the Albert Cuypstraat is not my favorite thing to do on a Saturday afternoon, as this is peak shopping time and it’s usually swarming with people. But to close the loop this was the quickest way to get home, so I took a deep breath and dove into the crowd. Some of the purses really crack me up – check out these owl ones!And of course some of the last stalls I pass before reaching home are the absolute smelliest. But I don’t mind. Fresh squid might not smell delicious but it sure does taste good. And it looks so squiggly and fun!And on that note I am now going to say goodnight. I hope you enjoyed weekend playtime in de Pijp! Night night. Xx
Quite often I get asked about my favorite Amsterdam attractions. When to visit? Where to go? What to do? To be honest, I’ve lived in Amsterdam for three years and I am still discovering something new every day! That said, there are many great Amsterdam gems that I would love to share with you, so here are a few of my favorites.
Be a true Amsterdam tourist and. . .
Start with a boat tour and cruise down the canals. It may sound cliché, but you’ll get the lay of the city and if you see something of particular interest, you can always double back again later. It’s also a great way to learn about the city’s history, and this will help you appreciate your surroundings more throughout the trip. I recommend the Blue Boat Company – it’s a 75 minute boat ride around the city and will only set you back €15. Tip: Buy your ticket online ahead of time for a discount price. The hop-on hop-off canal bus is a neat concept, but in my opinion it’s quite over priced.
The Dutch love their flowers. In fact, flowers are one of the main exports of Holland. If you love flowers too, take a walk down the Bloemenmarkt, Amsterdam’s floating flower market. You’ll find pretty bulbs, colorful succulents, and ample flower souvenirs to take home to family and friends. The flower market is located right in the city center, and is an easy walk from Dam Square. If you happen to visit Holland during the spring, I would also highly recommend a day trip to the Keukenhof, the world’s largest flower garden. It requires a bus ride outside of Amsterdam, but it’s well worth the trek. You will be amazed by the endless, stylized gardens and rows and rows of colorful tulips. You can buy a combi-ticket (bus and entrance ticket) at the Tourist Information Office in Stationsplein or Leidseplein. Tip: I highly recommend visiting Holland the spring so you can catch the flowers in bloom, at the Keukenhof and beyond!
If you’re in Amsterdam to party, head towards Rembrandtplein or Leidseplein. At night these two squares are packed with people ready dance the night away, and here you’ll find an abundance of lively pubs, clubs, and beats. You’ll also find greasy eateries, movie theaters, comedy clubs, and ample shopping. Tip: If you’re visiting Amsterdam in the winter, both of these squares erect large ice skating rinks during the cold months. There are also lots of Christmas stalls set up in the main squares this time of year, serving up warm drinks and sweet holiday treats.
If you’re looking for an even bigger celebration, come to Amsterdam over Queen’s Day and watch the city transform into a massive street party, with stages, dancing, food stalls, party boats, and lawn sales. It’s an amazing celebration of the royal family, and everyone goes mental! Tip: Bring some orange to sport, as everyone wears this patriotic color on Queen’s Day.
OK, so you might not actually want to eat at Febo, but you’ll definitely want to take a picture. These walk-up fast food joints cook up fried cheese, burgers, and chicken. . . all served in a heated vending machine! Febo is pretty much the Dutch equivalent of McDonalds – there are 22 locations in Amsterdam alone! I am ashamed to admit that I have eaten at Febo – only once – after one too many cocktails at a late night house party. Tip: If you do plan on getting a snack at Febo, go for a kaassoufflé. This is deep fried cheese, the US equivalent of a mozzarella stick, and probably the safest thing on the menu!
If your curiosity gets the better of you, take a walk through the Red Light District. Large glass windows showcase naked and tassel-clad women, all illuminated by a tell-tale red light. This part of town is usually quite busy, swarming with tourists, potential suitors, and locals alike. Tip: Plan on spending about five minutes here before you’ve seen more than enough.
Also on Amsterdam’s taboo tourist list is a visit to the infamous coffeeshops. Instead of serving up coffee, these fragrant establishments sell weed and other drug paraphernalia. You’ll usually find a menu on the counter with a selection of marijuana products, ranging from hash to space cakes. The Bulldog Company is a very popular coffeeshop chain with tourists and there are a couple throughout the city. If I have friends visiting who want to take advantage of Amsterdam’s lenient drug policy, I usually take them to the Abraxas – a coffeeshop with a cool, hippy vibe and three stories of comfy couches. People play cards, sit outside, and listen to mellow tunes. I recommend the location on the Jonge Roelenstg. Tip: If you do smoke, be safe, do it with a friend, and know your limits. Amsterdam let’s you indulge, but it’s up to you to be responsible and do so within reason.
Last on the Amsterdam tourist list are a few cultural attractions. A visit to the Anne Frank house is an eye-opening experience, but be prepared to wait a while to get in – the line usually goes around the block! Tip: Planning a visit at the beginning or the end of the day may help you avoid the queue.
The Van Gogh museum is stunning, I’ve gone a few times and never tire of it. Tip: If museums are your thing, plan a visit in early November and buy tickets to Museum Night. All of Amsterdam’s museums stay open till well past bedtime, and can be accessed with one magical ticket. You can find more info here.
The Rijksmuseum, home to over 8,000 objects of art and history, just reopened this year after a decade of renovations. It is absolutely massive and if you find yourself in Amsterdam on a rainy day, you can easily spend from sunrise to sunset exploring this beautiful, national museum. Think Rembrandt, Frans Hals, and Johannes Vermeer. Tip: Don’t forget to stop by Museumplein after a visit to the Rijks, and take a snap on the giant I Amsterdam sign!
Now that I’ve told you about all of my favorite touristy things to do in Amsterdam, here’s a list of my personal recommendations – the things you might not stumble across in a travel brochure.
Live like the Dutch and . . .
Spend a day in the neighborhood of de Pijp, and be sure to visit the Albert Cuypstraat, Europe’s biggest street market. At the Albert Cuypmarkt you will find a variety of stalls selling leather goods, raw herring, fabric, electronics, organic produce, and warm, fresh pressed waffles . . . just to name a few things! OK, so maybe I’m biased as this beautiful market is right at my doorstep, but it really is quite a sight, and a bright cultural hub of the city. The market is open from 9-5, every day except Sunday. Tip: Those waffles I mentioned? They are not to be missed! Also, you can usually find tourist trinkets here – magnets, postcards, flower bulbs – for a fraction of the price you would find in the rest of the city.
If you want to drink with the Dutch, check out the bars in de Pijp, especially along Eerste van der Helststraat. Sit outside and sip a coffee in the day, or drink a pint in the street on a warm Friday or Saturday evening. Also note worthy in the neighborhood . . . . Sarphatipark, a cute park for a picnic or stroll. Blond Amsterdam, selling adorable pottery and more – I love them! Taart van mijn Tante, a colorful cake shop with warm drinks and a big sweets menu. All The Luck in The World, one of my favorite vintage shops. And of course the Heineken Brewery – see where Heineken is made, sample a pint. Tip: Spend a day in de Pijp if you want to see how the Dutch truly live. Go for a stroll in Sarphatipark, grab brunch at Little Collins, do some shopping in the neighborhood, stroll the canals, and enjoy some Japanese tapas and a cocktail for dinner at Izakaya. Congratulations, you’re Dutch!
Rent a bike and cruise the canals. There are designated bike lanes in Amsterdam and everyone in the city is very bicycle savvy. Hardly anyone drives! Biking is the best way to get around, and you can easily rent a set of wheels for the week at MacBike. But beware – peddling around on one of these will immediately brand you as a tourist! If you’ve biked around the city for a day or two and are comfortable peddling, I would highly recommend an afternoon bike trip out to Durgerdam. It’s an adorable fishing village just north of Amsterdam, and you can get there on your bike in about 45 minutes. There’s a pub with benches and tables on the water, and a single cobblestone road that winds through the town. If you follow this road north, you will bike past windmills, fields, islands, and sheep. It’s a lovely trip and is actually where B proposed! It’s quite a special place :) Tip: You can take the free ferry from behind Central Station to Amsterdam Noord. Amsterdam Noord is a trendy area to explore on a bike, and you can then carry on your bike trip out to Durgerdam.
If you’re making a trip all the way to Holland, you’ll probably want to see some windmills. Kill two birds with one stone and stop by the Brouwerij ‘t IJ, a small brewery in Amsterdam located next to De Gooyer windmill. They have a good selection of cold, organic beer and a large outdoor terrace. Sit outside on a sunny afternoon, drink a pint, and admire the windmill. Tip: The pub is open daily from 15:00 to 20:00 – on a sunny day, go early if you want to get a table!
If you’re in Amsterdam in the summer, do like the Dutch and hit up an urban beach. Roest and Plek are two hotspots in the city, serving food and cold drinks, inviting guests to lounge in the sand and enjoy the cool water vistas. Tip: Check out their websites before heading over – both of these spaces are quite experiential and often have unique events, markets, and musical performances. Plek is in Amsterdam Noord and you could easily make a day trip out of the adventure. Roest is actually close to the Brouwerij ‘t IJ, so you could have a mini pub crawl and end at Roest on the urban beach!
I can’t tell you about Amsterdam without mentioning the Jordaan. The Jordaan is an upscale neighborhood, dotted with art galleries, speciality shops, and restaurants. Stroll along the canals and do some serious shopping on The 9 Streets, where you can find adorable boutiques and random knickknacks. It’s a beautiful neighborhood, but I’m quite biased and prefer the younger, more lively neighborhood de Pijp ;) Tip: Get a sandwich from Hartenkaas – they are out of this world!
If you like the sound of the 9 Streets, you may also want to check out the Utrechtsestraat. The Utrechsestraat is a long shopping street, lined with unique and trendy shops. You’ll find interior design stores, fashion boutiques, gift shops, gourmet food, and some really great music and literature shops. Tip: If you’re a vegan, check out the Golden Temple. It’s located right on the Utrechsestraat and the food is great . . . . and you can request any item on the menu to be served vegan!
If you’re cursed with a rainy day in Amsterdam, head to Dam Square and get ready to shop till you drop. De Bijenkorf is a high-end department store with five stories of decadent shopping! Think Armani, Burberry, Calvin Klein, Longchamp, Diesel, Fendi, G-Star, Louis Vuitton – the list goes on! There’s a cafeteria on the top floor with pretty balcony views, and in the winter you can snuggle up inside with a warm cup of tea. The perfect antidote for a rainy day! Tip: You could also spend a rainy day on a boat tour or at the Rijksmuseum, both fun, dry activities!
And a few honorable mentions . . .
If you’re in Amsterdam for an extended period of time, here are a few other activities to fill your agenda.
Go for a walk through the Vondelpark. I love stomping through the Vondelpark in the winter snow, and in the summertime, you can catch some rays along with a large majority of Amsterdam’s population. Vondelpark is the most famous park in the Netherlands, and offers a calm escape from Amsterdam’s otherwise bustling city life.
NEMO is a hands-on science and technology museum, housed in a long, angular boat-shaped building. A great rainy day activity, and also a fun one for the kids.
The Artis Zoo is one of my all time favorite attractions in Amsterdam. The reason it’s not higher on the list is because it’s not truly unique to Amsterdam. You’ll be hard pressed to find dreamy Dutch canals or original Rembrandt art outside of Amsterdam, but most major cities do have a zoo. That said, Amsterdam’s zoo is pretty stellar. Have lunch next to the giraffes, hang out in the tropical butterfly house, and say ‘hi’ to Amsterdam’s very own baby elephant.
Go on a boat. In Maine, when the weather is lovely or you have a long holiday weekend, you head up to camp. Most people in Maine have a friend, or a friend of a friend, with a charming woodland or lakeside cottage. There you will swim, roast marshmallows, and bask in the sun. In Amsterdam, we do not have friends with camps, we have friends with boats. And when the weather is nice, we stock up on fuel, prosecco, and snacks, and hit the canals. We cruise around, waving at fellow boaters and feeling awfully smug at our trendy mode of transportation. If you’re lucky enough to catch the sun in Amsterdam, I highly recommend a boat trip. You can find some decent rental prices at Boaty.
And last, but not least, Amsterdam food. . .
I had to make a separate section for Amsterdam restaurants, as I love dining out and have quite a few spots to suggest. The Dutch aren’t known for their culinary excellence, but there are a few gems throughout the city.
The Butcher is a new burger joint in de Pijp, and I’ll tell you a secret. They have a hidden, password protected bar out back. Do some digging for the password, and you could find yourself sipping cocktails with Amsterdam’s elite. They also make a killer burger. If you’re a burger fan, you’ll also want to try Burger Bar and Burgermeester, two greasy-sloppy-yummy Amsterdam burger spots.
Castell and de Klos are two of the best BBQ spots in town. Both are pretty laid back and serve large, meaty portions. I prefer de Klos – you can’t make a reservation here, but the owner will let you drink a beer across the way while you wait, and will come get you when your table is ready. Tip: Go for the ribs!!
Moeders is great for authentic Dutch food – the fare is warm and hearty. I recommend trying the ‘taste of Holland’ meal for two people – you will be served a family style dinner with stewed pears, sweet cabbage, sausage, bacon, potatoes, and more – a hearty, home cooked Dutch-style dinner.
Spaghetteria serves up delicious Italian – their menu changes daily and features only fresh, handmade pasta. The restaurant has a long bar and one giant table in the center of the room. Towards the end of the evening, conversations around the table start to mingle, everyone becomes great friends, and you’re left with a full belly and a wonderful new Italian family! Also deliciously Italian and in the neighborhood is De Pizzakamer, a cozy, atmospheric restaurant serving pizzas hot off the wood stove. Tip: Sit at the bar in de Pizzakamer and watch them toss and fire pizzas as you sip your wine.
If you’re looking for something a bit more fancy, try a meal at Marius. They have a set, four course menu that changes daily, so you never quite know what to expect. However, rest assured that it will be delicious, as Marius is often dubbed the best meal in town. The last time I was at Marius, I had the most sublime monkfish. If only it were a permanent staple on the menu!
De Kas is also a nice, special occasion restaurant, serving up cuisine inspired by the rural Mediterranean. The menu at de Kas changes quite often, as meals are based on the harvest of their very own green house. They offer a set, three course menu, that’s always sure to please.
I recently blogged about Izakaya, and I would definitely recommend it if you’re in town. Grab a cocktail, listen to the house DJ, and share a few Japanese inspired tapas. The fried rice is to die for, as are the scallops. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself surrounded by the rich and famous, Izakaya is a hotspot for Amsterdam’s young and elite.
I’ve also told you about Ron Gastrobar – a snazzy restaurant serving michelin star food in tapas portions. All dishes on the menu are €15, so you can have a decadent 8-course €300 meal or a snack and a cocktail for €30. Everyone wins! Tip: Ron has a beautiful outside patio area not to be missed in the summer.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for something tasty and cheap, I do have three recommendations. Sonny makes outstanding falafel and is a perfect quick dinner fix at a great price. Eat in and enjoy their bottomless topping bar, or take your treat to the nearby Sarphatipark and enjoy the sunshine.
Albina, also in de Pijp, may look like a greasy hole in the wall, when in fact . . . it is a greasy hole in the wall! But the food is amazing! Try the pork with Cantonese spices, or the roti special. Your taste buds will thank you. Tip: Don’t be fooled by the “New Albina” three doors down – it’s just not the same!
Also in de Pijp is Warung Spang Makandra – I’ve told you about them, here. I bet you can’t say their name ten times fast – but I bet you will have one of the most delicious javanese meals ever here (short of going to Indonesia)! It’s a small place but the service is fast, and it’s definitely worth waiting for a table. Go for the special, it’s huge and consists of a taste of everything divine on the menu. I also recommend trying a deep fried banana with peanut sauce and if you like a drink with a kick, their fresh, homemade ginger juice. Tip: Warung Spang Makandra is halal, so don’t come here if you want a beer with your dinner!
I’m sure more recommendations will come to mind, so check back, as I may evolve this post over time. If this list just isn’t enough, you can also check out the ‘Amsterdam’ tab on my top navigation bar – I’m always trying new places and recommending new Amsterdam spots. If you have a question about Amsterdam, feel free to post it in the comments section, I love this little city and am happy to help you plan your Amsterdam dream holiday!
PS. Although most of the photos on Pressed Words are my own, this post features some brilliant photography from around the web.