June 29, 2012

My Best Friends in Amsterdam Part 1

We have been spoiled rotten with visitors since moving to Amsterdam, especially in the last two years. My best friend Smitty flew over on her first ever Eurotrip in September 2010 and we tackled Paris, Oktoberfest, Cinque Terre, Sicily and Venice…Amsterdam too ofcourse.

Another one of my best friends—Traci--came a couple of months later, my mom came for Queen’s Day and and we spent Mother’s Day in Venice, we had our friends Denis and Emma over from Paris, my friend Traci came yet another time and we sampled tons of Belgium beers in Ghent, and Smitty and I city-tripped off to Prague on her third trip to Europe this past February. Most recently my parents came over for their second trip out to visit me since I moved here and we had two amazing weeks in Amsterdam, Normandy and Tuscany :).

Just last weekend, my friend Tanya came over from Brussels and we wandered around street markets and had canal-side picnics—pretty good intro for her first time in Amsterdam! And THIS SUNDAY my twin sister and her hubby will be here and will be joining us and 25 of our friends on a canal boat! See? SPOILED ROTTEN!!! And I’m not even counting all of the small weekend visits from friends like Jacqui, Chris, Ross, Jon, Christian’s friends and family, etc.

But the absolute king of all visits happened last summer. Smitty decided to leave Cali behind and go off to Europe once again but this time she stayed with us (we made her a mini room behind the couch…hehe) in Amsterdam for THREE WHOLE MONTHS—yes an entire summer in Amsterdam with one of my best friend! Oh but just wait! Smitty and I aren’t alone though, there’s a third best friend in our trio—Julia. Once Julia got wind of the situation, she decided to also fly out to Amsterdam for a few weeks! Actually the first time I ever came to Amsterdam, I was with Julia! But this time was too incredible to believe…

YES THAT’S RIGHT—REUNITED IN AMSTERDAM WITH MY BEST FRIENDS!! Not just for a weekend or a few days, but for over two weeks the three of us were seriously smitten, doing what we did back home, laughing, getting in to trouble, staying up until the early morning hours and thoroughly enjoying every single second that we had together. I miss them so much and here they were…with me…in Amsterdam.

It was a summer of a lifetime…

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{Lounging on the canals daily}
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{Street markets}
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{Breakfasts at 4PM!}
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{Just bein' creeps!}

{Canal...mmmm at about 5AM}

{Lots and lots of rain!}

{Typical best friend conversations with this view...every single night! Seriously!}

June 22, 2012

Portuguese Paradise

Oy vey! I think a hurricane has hit Amsterdam---an ocean is falling from the sky right now! Fortunately as I look outside, I think that in just a few weeks we'll be jetsetting to southern Europe--PORTUGAL! My twin sis and her hubby are visiting for a few weeks and we'll be spending a long weekend in Lisbon before they go off to Rome.

Christian, my sis and her hubs have no idea what they're in for in Portugal--I do! I was lucky enough to visit my aunt TWICE during the time she lived in the Algarve. On our first trip, Portugal was my first stop on a eurotrip I did solo--and I had never met her before! Well maybe as a baby :). As soon as she picked me up from the airport in Faro, I knew were in for an amazing time. My Aunt Steph has a stellar fashion sense and really knows how to enjoy the good life. For a whole week, we ventured all around the Algarve from her cute villa in Loule. We wined and dined on gazpacho, garlic-marinated carrots and Portuguese vinho verde and visited the fortress in Tivera, bought that delicious piri-piri sauce in teeny tiny Silves and relaxed in the mountain town of Monchique. I was completely and utterly amazed at the beauty and colors of Portugal. One of the most amazing places we visited were abandoned pousadas in the Portuguese countryside--old mansions and palaces of former wealthy patrons who left the place in ruins, but were still beautifully restored. And the coolest part is that there are hundreds of pousadas around Portugal which have been renovated into hotels :).

I loved being in Portugal so much with my aunt that I spent a good 10 days there while I was an exchange student in Finland. Any European would argue that flying from Finland to Portugal is crazy and long. I happily made the trek there to be able to lounge in the Portuguese sun with her once again! For a week we sat pool-side indulding in everything and anything Portuguese. My aunt and uncle drove me up to Lisbon to catch my flight back to Finland and I instantly loved the city. It was only a quick rendezvous around Lisbon before I had to say goodbye, but one thing was for sure--I loved Lisbon!

And in just a few weeks I'll be there with Christian and my twin sis! My aunt, who has since moved back to the US, will hopefully be meeting us in Lisbon for yet another rendezvous. Everything about Portugal is beautiful...here's a few snaps from my trips to Portugal with my super cool aunt...I can't wait to meet you there again soon! :)
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June 19, 2012

Mother’s Day in Paris & a Guest Post!

So while my dad is at home in California smitten over his new Father’s Day iPad (which was very affordably split 8 ways between my 7 siblings and I…yep 7 sibs!), my mom is still smitten over how we spent her Mother’s Day in Paris. After we ventured up to Normandy and before we jetset off to Tuscany, we managed to squeeze in a quick two days running around Paris—which just so happened to be on Mother’s Day!

Ofcourse, my mom loved the idea of Mother’s Day in Paris. She enjoyed her favorite wine on our Parisian hotel balcony upon arrival and we dined at a random Parisian brasserie before hopping aboard the Bateaux Mouche just in time for sunset. My mom was a happy camper especially because she thought we could never beat last year’s Mother’s Day in Venice—well we did! The next day we spent the morning in the Louvre, ate macaroons for lunch and spent the afternoon walking around Montmarte admiring artists and eating French onion soup.

Unexpectedly we were able to spend our last night in Paris with some friends Christian and I studied with in Finland, Denis and Emma. Like us, these two lovebirds (him a Frenchy and her a Finn!) are travel fanatics, understand the necessity of a good bottle of wine and we were lucky enough to go island-hopping with them in Greece last year. It’s no surprise that they picked out an amazing local wine shop, 5e Cru, for us to meet and have a few drinks. Well just a few drinks turned in to a few bottles and plates of cheeses and cured meats. Our parents tagged along too and their plan to turn in early for the night obviously didn’t happen—this wine cellar was amazing with bottles lined from floor to ceiling and a free aperitif before we left! Denis and Emma always pick the good spots and are too much fun to hang around with! Which is exactly why we’re headed off to Croatia with them for yet another trip in just a few weeks ;)…

**AAAAND, I’m guest-posting over at Alla Fiorentina today for her Travel Tuesday series :). Check out all my favorite summer things to do in Amsterdam here!**