July 31, 2012

Lisbon: Part 1

Oh Lisbon...gorgeous Lisbon! A picture perfect Portuguese town painted in blues and whites and yellows and as you can probably tell, we loved it. With my sister and brother-in-law in tow, the four of us found our way to the cute Air BnB apartment we rented in Bairro Alto. The building was in a beautiful part of the old town which was ever so conveniently around the corner from nightly street parties and sidewalk cafes and yet still quiet with the outside adorned in vibrant pink.

Instead of making a plan we opted to wander around the city instead--feasting on bifanas (typical Portuguese pork sandwiches), arroz con mariscos (seafood rice similar to paella) and washing it all down with Portuguese vinho verde (green wine). Ultimately we ventured up to Castelo de Sao Jorge. It seemed like we spent hours admiring the view and walking through the castle...but the best thing about Southern Europe is that long days means late dinners so we were in no hurry :). Once we got back to Bairro Alto, we wined and dined until well past midnight on Portuguese pork and clams and yet another bottle of vinho verde. 

And well...once we stepped outside of the restaurant...full on STREET PARTY...and a half liter of sangria was only 2 EUR!! It's no surprise that we took full advantage of those sangrias...and totally fell in love with Lisbon. Day 1 = TOO much of a success! Oh boy...I'm just getting started on you, Lisbon!

July 26, 2012

A Canal Boat Benefit and a Boat Full of Angels

 A few months ago, my best friend came down with some very serious health issues, which is why I randomly flew home in March. I may or may not discuss those things at some point…but not today :).

To love a friend so deeply and to be so far away from them during a time like this is not easy. At all. Because while my body is here, my mind is in California.

Christian and I wanted to help in any way we could. In the last few months, I was overwhelmed with support from my Amsterdam buddies who also just wanted to help. Christian’s ingenious ideas meant that he rented his company’s canal boat which ever so conveniently fit 30 people (and this was the small  boat), had a sweet sound system, a beer tap and a boat captain, and turned it into a fundraiser and boat party in honor of my friend and to just say ‘Hey! You have a team of people in Europe cheering you on!’. And thus this event turned into the Canal Boat Benefit!

We spread the word and before we knew it the boat was packed full! My sister and her husband were in town for the event as well as our travel buddies Denis and Emma who came from Paris, Christian’s best friends who came from Maastricht, and 20 other friends from Amsterdam, including Liz, Jana, Lily and Ellen. Another friend came straight from the airport to the boat (with luggage in tow)…awesome. Some friends couldn't make it, but donated anyway...like Jeanelle :') and a handful of others.

I felt so blessed as we cruised around the canals of Amsterdam—looking left to Christian, my twin sis and my brother-in-law and right towards the blogger girls I was lucky enough to befriend in the last few months and then all around at colleagues and close friends who I had come to know very well over the years. I got emotional…but thankfully I was wearing sunglasses and stood by the keg ;).

We sent the donations and a signed card with well wishes to Julia—she said she felt so lucky. I told her I felt lucky too—to have her as my best friend for 11 years and counting, to have this life, love and a wonderful family (which Julia is an honorary member of by the way!) and to call each of these people on the canal boat my friend because all but 4 of them actually met Julia and insisted on helping a complete stranger anyway. 

People amaze me.

THANKS EVERYONE!! I could never ever thank you enough :).

July 20, 2012

“Gelati for Breakfast” & Italian Spontaneity

It’s not every day that you meet one of your best friends on a street corner in Amsterdam…who comes from a bazillion miles from where you come from but who equally loves hanging out on canals, wearing sandals all day and can happily lay in the sun for hours on end. Yep I’m talking about my friend Courtney from Australia! We met while doing some street promoting in Amsterdam and we became good friends instantly (or friends at first sight as our Canadian friend described it). Seriously.

Within hours of meeting Court, she talked about how she was really craving a sunny holiday after spending over a year in Denmark and I talked about escaping anywhere to celebrate my forthcoming graduation from Grad school in Amsterdam. Within a couple of days we found a super promotion on Ryanair (as in 25 EUR round-trip total price!!) and together we flew off to Italy for 5 days. After first laying my eyes on Cinque Terre earlier in the summer with Christian, I knew we had to make a beeline straight towards the Ligurian coastline—so we did! And I think we set an all-time record for laying out and swimming for 10 hours straight on the rocks in front of Riomaggiore

Coincidentally Court’s dad was in Pisa for business so after spending a couple of days  in Cinque Terre, we hopped over to Pisa and San Gimignano. After eating gelato for breakfast, lunch and dinner, this spontaneous trip infamously became known as 'gelati for breakfast'.

It's pretty cool because Court will be one of my bridesmaids next year ;). Weird things happen on street corners in Amsterdam and it's happenings like this that makes me realize that while love is meant to be, sometimes friends are meant to be too! 

Well, it just so happens to be this little Aussie lady’s birthday this weekend. I’m sure if she was here we’d spend the day eating Indian food and sitting and laughing on a canal as we did before she left Amsterdam last year. Unfortunately several oceans and continents separate us at the moment. But I’m thinking about you! (Actually I'm probably gonna What's App you right now). 

Happy Birthday my friend! I miss you, you lil ‘roo ;).

Let’s take a trip down memory Italy lane!

(Christian was kinda creeped out that I escaped off to Italy with a friend I had just met…hahaha...he has since accepted my crazy antics.)

July 16, 2012

Back from the Sunshine & An Interview with To and From Magazine!

We are back from 10 wonderful days in the sun! Our first few days were spent pigging out on grilled 'frango piri-piri' and sangria in Lisbon, Portugal, with my twin sis and her hubby then we island-hopped our way down the Croatian coastline--which was absolutely incredible. Lisbon quickly climbed our list as one of the absolute best cities in Europe and we almost instantly agreed that Croatia was the most beautiful place we've ever been--seriously

I'm excited to post some pretty pics in the next few weeks and cannot speak more highly of Lisbon and Croatia! 

But I'm also really excited for another reason--a few weeks ago I had the honor of being interviewed by Diana over at To & From Mag! I was totally floored when she asked to feature Let's Be Adventurers :).

Check out the article hereThanks Diana!

Here are a few iPhone pics from our sunny days in Lisbon and Croatia...

The Bairro Alto street where our apartment was (above) and the beautiful view over Lisbon from Castelo de Sao Jorge (below).

A giant map and ode to Christopher Columbus :)

Delicious dinner of grilled chicken at a local spot in the heart of Bairro Alto, Lisbon

Sippin' on gigantic sangria with my twin sis at a Bairro Alto street party on our last night in Lisbon...then cruising over the Croatian coastline

One word: HVAR!

The most beautiful Croatian island: Mljet!

A grape-vine covered terrace at our hostel/pension in Dubrovnik--in love!

Jewel of the Adriatic :)