Capri, Italy

On day two of our Italian adventure, we went to Capri. Some people love Capri. In fact, many of my friends who have visited the Amalfi Coast recommended that we make the island of Capri our basecamp for the trip. While I found Capri incredibly beautiful, I also found it slightly more stressful than Positano, as the island was swarming with tourists. Massive cruise ships sailed in and out of the port, docking so thousands of visitors could climb ashore. To be fair, we were also four of the thousands :) but as Capri was an island, it felt slightly more cramped than in Positano, without a lot of free space to escape the rush. In Positano, our little square was quiet, but in Capri, it was hard to take a photo without hundreds of other people walking through the backdrop. That said, Capri had an extra dose of harbor-side magic that we did not find in Positano. While Positano is flanked by tall cliffs and colorful houses, Capri is more flat, even boasting of a small sand beach at the waterfront. The colors of Capri match that of Positano, with pasted rainbow houses and boats lining the shorefront and climbing up the hills.To get to Capri, we took the ferry from the harbor in Positano. There are many different ferry and tour options, and all run pretty regularly. If you know in advance that you would like to travel by boat to Capri or Amalfi, book your ticket ahead so you are sure to get a spot. For our day trips to Capri and Amalfi, we booked our tickets the night before, so securing a seat on the boat was not a problem. However, a lot of the smaller luxury boats and sails were already booked up, so if you’re looking for something a bit more intimate, I’d suggest reserving a few days in advance. Continue reading

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Positano, Italy

Two years ago, I got let go from my job at Sid Lee. The company’s Amsterdam branch was in the process of going bankrupt, and within six months of my departure, the agency had permanently closed. On one hand, I felt relieved, because I was ready for a big change (I kid you not, after receiving the news I laughed and smiled the whole bike ride home!) But on the other hand, I felt incredibly anxious, because I had never not had a job. I got a large settlement from the company as I was on a permanent contract, so I had no financial worries in the time I was unemployed – the only nagging stress was my visa situation. By law, I had three months to find a new job in Amsterdam, and if this didn’t happen, I would be asked to leave the country. To be honest, I did consider moving back to the US. I was speaking to a few ad shops in LA, and was particularly excited by the prospect of living (somewhat) closer to home and in a bright sunny beach-side state. With less than a month to go in my visa grace period, I got a job at Booking.com (I will tell you about the drama behind this move another time!) And so I spent my last unemployed month relaxing and enjoying some down time before I came back in the new year and started my new job.What does all of this have to do with Positano, Italy? In the period of my unemployment, I made a list of dreams and the things I wanted to achieve while sans job (you know I love my lists!) At the very tipity-top of my list was a road trip through Italy. I wanted to go to Tuscany, Rome, Lake Como, Cinqe Terra, and the Amalfi Coast. I floated the idea past a few friends, and Amie and I wound up heading to Cinque Terra in October during my down time (we also hit up Berlin this trip which was incredibly fun!) While our Italian escape was amazing, it was slightly watered down compared to the grandiose road trip I had envisioned. So I started talking to my mom about a big fat Italian trip – a dream vacation we shared due to our mutual love of sunshine and the sea. As we plotted out potential ideas, it evolved into a family affair, with my god-mother, Sandra, and my cousin Julie also keen to join! And so for two years we tossed around ideas and dates, and finally got around to booking tickets for the Italian trip of a lifetime in the spring of 2017. Continue reading

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

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

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

A Day in Dublin

Last week I went to Dublin for a research project. We are working with an Irish brand, and were tasked to dig into the culture, uncovering points of pride, Irish characteristics, and unique insights that could only be gathered locally. So on Wednesday morning, a colleague and I left for the airport bright and early, with a long list of hypothesis to verify and a short amount of time to do so. I had a sneaky, personal Irish bucket list as well. Thankfully, it could be accomplished in one sitting, and read something like . . . . IMG_2687. . . . bacon, eggs, grilled tomatoes and mushrooms, beans, sausage, Irish breakfast tea, and a rainbow of puddings. Continue reading

Brussels, Belgium Part 2

Happy Tuesday blog friends! How is everything going?

This past weekend was unreal, but sadly today it’s time to say goodbye sunshine and hello office. Sometimes (actually, all the time) I wish adults had summer break. Instead there’s just piles of work waiting to be done, regardless of the weather. Ohh, the nuisances of being an adult. I guess if we can’t be outside playing in the sun, we might as well be reminiscing about playing outside in the sun. So let’s kick off the week with Brussels adventures Part 2, a somewhat sunny and very Belgian tale.

The first half of our Brussels adventure was spent beer sipping and tapas tasting, and by mid-afternoon, B and I were convinced we should have booked a hotel. We had not been planning to stay the night, but there were just too many delicious beers to sample in such a short 12-hour timeframe! If we had booked a hotel, we would have headed back to kick up our feet for an hour or two before exploring the city by night, but as we had already paid for our return train tickets back to Amsterdam later that evening, we decided to pass on the hotel and dive into some retail therapy instead.

Brussels Cafe 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