April 30, 2012

Mini Dutch Roadtrip on a Warm Cloudless Day

Yay Monday! And HAPPY QUEEN’S DAY! Possibly THE CRAZIEST DAY of the year in Holland IS TODAY. We’re out and about dressed head-to-toe in orange partaking in Queen’s Day festivities in Amsterdam, which will involve plenty of boats, wandering through the canals and street parties. As the days keep getting longer and the sun peaks it’s little head out, I’m reminded of the most beautiful day I’ve ever seen in the Netherlands a couple of summers ago. On that very day, Christian and I hit the road for a mini Dutch roadtrip to Kinderdijk, an outdoor spectacle of tons and tons of windmills—what doesn’t get more Dutch?! Well maybe tulips ;). On the way home we got an extra treat and explored a mysterious Dutch castle in the neighborhood and declared then and there that yes this was possibly the most beautiful blue-skied day in Holland—EVER!

Take a peak! 

Also, I’m so excited to be doing dual guest-posts today, check them out:

My Top 5 Favorite Travel Experiences over at the Traveling Triplets blog


How to Become an Expat on oh-so-sweet Jenna’s blog A Home Away from Home


April 27, 2012

::Friday Link-Up:: How to Prepare for Queen’s Day in Amsterdam

Today I’m linking up with Ellen over at Company of Clever. April 30th, the craziest party day of the year is upon us Amsterdammers—QUEEN’S DAY!! Every year, Dutchies dress head-to-toe in orange in celebration of the Queen’s birthday (but not this Queen…a Queen from long ago!). Since this is my 4th year celebrating Queen’s Day (except the 2nd year where we escaped to Mexico for some R&R with family and friends), I prepared a How to Survive Queen’s Day List. Amsterdam goes absolutely crazy every April 30th…let the preparations begin!

How to survive Queen's Day:

1. Prepare for crowds, lots and lots and lots of crowds! Amsterdam is a small city and does not cater towards mass amounts of people…there’s basically no way around crowds on Queen’s Day…so the more the merrier!

2. Prepare to dance and bring some booze to sip on (bars are packed!). DJ’s are set up on every square and street corner. Let’s not forget about the boats passing by with drunken party people and their own subwoofers. Dance 'n drink under the sun (well let's hope there's sun)! Or opt for a fresh Sangria or 1 EUR beer sold on the street ;).

3. Have a plan if you're meeting up with friends-phones don't work! The network is overloaded and even getting a text to someone takes multiple attempts or just never gets through. 

4. Walkin’ shoes. I religiously wore my sandals in California and successfully (and preferred to!) walked through plenty of cities, such as Paris, Rome, Cinque Terre, Barcelona and Berlin in the sandals where my toes feel most at home with no issues. Both times I’ve been in town to celebrate Queen’s Day I wore sandals. But the 2nd time, I got a nasty cut on my foot from a broken bottle. Fortunately I was faithful to #2 on the list…and I couldn’t feel a thing until I looked down and saw the trail of blood I was leaving behind. So…wear some closed-toe shoes, or if you are a sucker for sandals like me then prepare for crowds that don’t care about your bare little toes, broken beer bottles being kicked around and no trams or metros operating on Queen’s Day, so you will walk EVERYWHERE!! Sportin’ sandals? No worries, you won’t feel your feet anymore after 2-3 hours.


My mom joined us for Queen’s Day festivities last year…and she had a blast! Check it out…

April 23, 2012

Weekend Adventures!

Why oh why must weekends be so short! Oh but it was such a good one--a street market Saturday, a sunny Sunday and drinks and banter with friends the entire weekend...

*I picked up a burrito for Christian and I from Tomatillo...a Mexican place here in Amsterdam with the most delicious tomatillo-habanero salsa in town and possibly in all of Europe! Right before escaping indoors for pure burrito annihilation, I got a little cuddle from the neighbor's gigantor-cat!

*I came home with an obscene amount of fruit, veggies and herbs from the street market on Saturday morning...still don't know what to do with that butternut squash...hmmmm...any ideas?

*We met up with a good friend of mine for drinking beers in the sun in Rembrandtplein, hopped off to a garden party at my boss' house complete with Mediterranean appetizers, cocktails and showing off the mystery-Dutch-fiance-of-mine to my coworkers ;). Then Christian and I made a split second decision to grab a late-night bite at Nam Kee before we went to a friend's house party by Westerpark...seriously such a fun Saturday!

*To cure Saturday night's festivities, we treated ourselves to brunch and a cozy wander through the canals...and guess what...it was a BEAUTIFUL sunny day!! And the best way to cap off the weekend was plopping a beanbag on the balcony, grabbing a pillow, playing some good tunes and soaking up as many rays as possible. I'm convinced that laying outside on a sunny day soothes the soul...that and chocolate...anyway, hope yours was a delightful as ours!

Dear sunshine, I'm so happy you graced us with your presence! And dear weekend, you were awesome :).
photo (31)
photo (27)

April 20, 2012

::Friday Link-up:: Five Reasons to go to a European music festival

One of the best things about summer are the FESTIVALS!! With Coachella in full-swing back home in California and me oh-so-anxious for summer to arrive, I’ve been researching European festivals this summer almost religiously.

Almost every weekend during summer, there are literally hundreds of festivals going on around Europe at any given time ranging from small, local parties to large, commercial DANCE parties. Electric Picnic in Ireland, rock-festival Rock Werchter in Belgium, Roskilde in Denmark or Hurricane in Germany, Sonar by the sea in Barcelona and on sailboats at Soundwave Croatia, up and coming Exit Festival in Serbia, a crazy-month-long festival called Kazantip in Ukraine (word on the street is that Christian’s friends are taking him here for his bachelor party…lucky duck!), the ultra famous Glastonbury in the UK and ofcourse some local ones in Holland—Loveland, Lowlands and Mysteryland, which often have swingsets, arts and crafts and boats to lounge in. The list goes on and on! I'm envisioning walking into a wooded forest in Norway or Sweden and finding a bustling Midsummer Party in full-swing under the midnight sun…I’m still trying to find if these exist ;)

European festivals are sometimes much cheaper than American festivals, attract the same talent (and artists that America knows nothing about yet!), with less rules and I see just as many people sipping on water as they are sipping on beer—they’re just there for the atmosphere...the festivals are that fun! I’ve been lucky to add a few different music festivals under my belt and loved each of them—Dance Valley in Holland, I Love Techno in Belgium and the iconic Love Parade in Germany.

Today I’m linking up with Ellen over at Company of Clever for 5 simple reasons why you should check out a European music festival this summer:

1. Enjoy the great outdoors! Parties and festivals in Europe usually happen in the summer which means the sun will just barely start going down around 10PM…yep, that’s right, lots and lots of sunshine! (Unless you’re in the Netherlands…then it’s hit or miss). 

2. Meet new friends from ALL over the world. It’s incredible how much music, beer and good ol’ fashioned fun brings strangers together.

3. Learn some new artists and DJs AND experience a new country.

4. Be amazed. Plenty of European festivals have roller coasters, outdoor lounge bars, arts 'n crafts (yes arts 'n crafts!) and NO curfews. Relish in the wonderment of FREEDOM in an adult playground...Europeans not only know how to throw a good party, but their own police force find a way to manage festivals (because they know people are gonna do it anyway!). What does this mean? A go-with-the-flow mentality!

5. DANCE!!!! All day and all night. 

{Dance Valley, Amsterdam, Netherlands}
{Love Parade, Germany}
Yeaaaaaa a festival on an old freight yard gets a little bit dirty...
....ok really dirty....
Lesson learned: don't wear sandals to a festival held at the site of an old freight yard...yes people were taking pictures of my feet...SICK! But mission accomplished ;)
{I Love Techno, Ghent, Belgium}

Lastly, BE SAFE! The Love Parade was indefinitely cancelled after tragedy struck.Go with a group of friends, watch each other and assess the situation at all times. Dance and party responsibly!