San Sebastian, Spain with the Girls!

Gosh, I am so behind on blogging. My next post will be a short and sweet restaurant review, but this San Sebastian post took AGES to get live because there were SO MANY PHOTOS to go through! I really need to stick to just 5-10 photos per post, because picking my favorites and editing through everything can be overwhelming! That said, I am happy to finally tell you all about my trip to San Sebastian with Amie, Jess, and Jess (yes, TWO Jess’s on our trip – double the Jess fun!)
IMG_0753As the girls were already planning on coming to Amsterdam at the end of April for King’s Day, we decided to tack a mini sun-holiday on to the end of their European visit. We picked a spot in Northern Spain that had ample sunshine, but during our stay the temperature hovered in the mid 60’s, which was wonderful for strolling around sans coat, but it didn’t really satisfy our desire for a beachy holiday (although there were many brave souls in minimal clothing lounging by the sea!) That said, we were more interested in pintxos, sangria, and sightseeing anyways, and fell blissfully in love with our flat that overlooked the sea! And I mean, LOOK at that view (above) from our balcony! Continue reading

A Night at Zoku, Amsterdam

I have a confession. . . . I am a nomadaholic. I get such a rush from hopping on a plane, traveling to a new destination, and exploring the unknown. Put simply, I am addicted to travel, and I have built my life around this passion – I work at Booking.com as a Brand Communications Manager, where I spend my days creating travel ads and content. I live in Amsterdam, a hub for European exploration. I write for multiple travel publications around the web, sharing city tips and helping others plan their adventures. And of course, I love spending time writing here, at Amsterdam & Beyond, my beloved travel journal :) Because of my passion and lifestyle, I can usually be found boarding a plane at least once or twice a month, whether I’m traveling for work or for leisure. I’ve flown with dozens of airliners, and have stayed at hundreds of hotels (part and parcel of the job!) But recently I stayed at a new kind of hotel, one I had not come accross in my adventures before.IMG_5798

Zoku is located in the heart of Amsterdam’s historic eastern Canal District, on the Weesperstraat (very close to the Amstel). While most hotel rooms are built for sleeping, Zoku’s loft designs shift the focus from the bed to the living space, with a four­ person table that can be used to work, dine, entertain, or just hang out. As a business traveler, this is a dream come true! No more awkward, cramped, late-night meetings around a bed! As a travel writer and marketer, I was invited to spend a night at Zoku ahead of their grand opening, along with a few friends. Continue reading

Road Trip to Antwerp, Belgium

Road trip, road trip, ‘bout to go on that road trip!! >> This sentence was totally inspired by our latest Booking.com commercial, which features Rebel Wilson and Keegan-Michael Key – it is way too catchy for my mental health (you can check it out here – I can’t stop singing!!) In timely fashion, the beau and I also decided to embark on our own long weekend road trip down to Belgium . . . cue Booking.com road trip theme song!! IMG_5735 copyAs mentioned in my last post, our first stop was in Lisse where we roamed the stunning tulip fields, but as with all great road trips, there were of course multiple stops along the way :) After frolicking through fields of flowers for a few hours, we decided to hit the beach for lunch. The day was HOT, and the heat wave had us excited to sip Raddlers and dip our toes in the sea. We didn’t route out our beach trip out ahead of time, but instead just drove west, and somehow landed at the beautiful Noordwijk aan Zee. We hit up the first seaside restaurant we came across (which was De Koele Costa), kicked off our shoes, and ordered some frosty beverages and a feast 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

A Weekend in Berlin, Part 1

As Germany is right next to Holland, I’ve crossed the border for many jovial long weekends away (read: here, here, and here). However, I somehow always seem to miss out on the Berlin excursions. Berlin is a quick 1.5 hour plane ride from Amsterdam, and often the fare is dirt cheap (around €50). I have friends who go for long party weekends, business trips, shopping adventures, or a simple change of scenery. And while I’ve been invited to Berlin a multitude of times, something else always seems to pop up!

When I got let go from my job a few months ago, I made a list of the places I wanted to visit in Europe before I left, just incase. There were ten places on the list, some more costly and exotic than others. I then listed them in order, starting with the top few I HAD to go to before I (hypothetically) left Europe, the others falling somewhere behind. I vowed to make it to at least two or three spots on the list before my visa was up. Guess what the top two were? Cinque Terre and Berlin :) If you’ve been following along on the blog, I’m sure you’ve read all about my Cinque Terre adventures. In fact, I was so taken by the stunning Italian countryside that I am planning a fall-2016 trip to Tuscany, the Amalfi Coast, and Rome with some of the ladies in my family! And man, I can’t wait to go back :) Berlin was also ticked off of my European travel bucket list in mid-October, while Amie was visiting.IMG_1886 copyWe flew straight from Pisa to Berlin (believe it or not, a €24 plane ride), and quickly switched from a beachy-sunshine mentality to an urban-exploration mindset.  Continue reading

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

Exploring Münster, Germany

Last weekend the Dutch girlfriends and I planned a little escape. Fall was in the air and we were craving a change – a weekend outside of Amsterdam or a day in another city. We marked the weekend in our calendars without making a concrete plan. If the weather was sunny and gorgeous, we could head up to Texel and stroll the beach. If it rained, we could spend the day shopping and eating in Antwerp. And if it was a clear, fall day, we could trek a bit further and spend the day in Germany, drinking crisp beers and exploring a new city – which is exactly what we ended up doing!Visiting Munster Germany_9919Melissa picked us up at the crack of dawn. I’d gone out on Friday night and was *dead* after only three hours of sleep, but the adrenaline of visiting a new city for the first time is often stronger than a good cup-o-joe, and so by the time we reached Münster (our decided German destination) I was refreshed and ready to go! This post is going to be more beautiful than informative, as I did no research on Münster ahead of time and don’t have a boat load of recommendations to share. We looked at good ol’ Google Maps once or twice for navigation guidance, but left the rest up to luck! We stumbled into shops, ate at random stops, and gawked at the numerous stunning churches.  Continue reading

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

Brick Lane Colors and Tacos, London

After the long holiday weekend, most Londoners returned to business. However, I had Tuesday off of work (three days in London is never enough!) and so I decided to roam the streets of East London with my camera, doing some vintage shopping and eating copious amounts of street food along the way.IMG_6660

Brick Lane got its name in the 15th century, when brick and tile were manufactured from local deposits. Today, Brick Lane is populated with a large Bangladeshi community and is THE place to go to in London for a mind blowing curry. The area is also world-famous for its graffiti. It’s clear to see that from the local shops, markets, and colors that Brick Lane is an art and fashion hotspot in London.  Continue reading

Park Güell, Barcelona

Eusebi Güell and Gaudí were homeboys. Güell was a Catalan entrepreneur, and in 1890 he established a worker’s colony north of Barcelona, in Santa Coloma de Cervello. While Güell’s textile factory was the economic centerpiece of Santa Coloma de Cervello, Güell commissioned Gaudí, a Catalan architect, to build a church and crypt that would serve as the colony’s cultural and religious epicenter. I’m telling you, total bromance. Güell and Gaudí went on to complete many projects together, exemplifying Catalan Modernism in Spain. In 1900, Güell and Gaudí conceptualized a rich housing estate overlooking the city of Barcelona. Park Güell was originally intended to be the focal point of this rich community, but after the project went bankrupt, the park was converted into a municipal garden open to the city. IMG_5758

Day 3 in Barcelona started in a small cafe. I took a work call while sipping hot coffee and forking chocolate crepes. And although the air was cool and the skies were white, after breakfast a girlfriend Eva and I set off for Park Güell, intent on seeing one of Gaudí’s most renowned creations.  Continue reading