October 31, 2012

All Hallows' Eve!

Europe doesn't celebrate Halloween like us crazy Americans but there are plenty of pumpkins and autumn-esque eye candy around town. I can't wait to show Christian how a real American Halloween is celebrated!

Tonight we'll be celebrating Halloween with Jana and a bunch of my other fave Americans around town! Hope you all have a festive Halloween! 

{Cute pumpkins at the Puremarkt last weekend}

October 29, 2012

Street Market Saint

Hope you all had a great weekend! The last 2 weeks have been a bit rough (hence the blog absence)—despite being a blogger, traveler and Amsterdammer, life is still life. Work frustrations, family health scares and all-around being stressed out and busy got the best of me. I knew I had to pull myself out of this funk somehow, so this weekend Christian and I decided to seize the day and we enjoyed tasty beers at Amsterdam’s Bokbier Festival, grabbed lunch at the Neighborhood Food Market, and walked through the crisp and colorful leaves scattered all over Westerpark. We also watched Beasts of the Southern Wild (I really liked it! I loved the beginning scene with the fireworks) at a tiny hipster movie theater and did a bit of wedding planning over my fresh mint tea and Christian’s latte (which he claims now takes the cake as the best latte in town!).

It’s been a great weekend! One of the best parts was my random quick stroll to a food market in our neighborhood. The last Sunday of each month, our East Amsterdam neighborhood welcomes bakers, artisans, antique sellers, etc., at the Puremarkt. And we live only a 3 minute walk away! And this walk goes thru a pretty tree-lined sidewalk, which was gorgeous at this time of the year! Having been to the Puremarkt a few times before, I’ve seen this market serve up fresh organic pizzas, BBQ pork sandwiches, paella, Chilean empanadas, chicken gyros, sausages and chorizos of all kinds, mustards, spreads, pestos, hot sauces, artisan breads, pastries and cakes as well as bakjes of pumpkins, bushels of flowers and antiques. Each time we go, there is something new to taste.

This time I headed toward the ABC Baking company stand, which is run by two incredibly sweet American guys (this time they were dressed up as little devils in the Halloween spirit!). The table was littered with cookies, pies, cheesecakes, and they also sell chocolate chip cookie dough (that’s kind of a big deal in Holland where they don’t sell chocolate chips!). After hearing my accent, he told me to stick out my finger and dropped a dollop of cream cheese frosting on my fingertip for a little taste. Next he gave me a sample of chocolate cake. Then pumpkin pie. We chatted for a bit and then he brought my attention to the steamy American-style cinnamon rolls at the end of the table. He boxed one up for me, slathered on some frosting, gave me a big smile, said Happy Halloween! and handed it over. Then he told me to enjoy the taste of home and to have a good weekend.

Genuine hospitality at its finest! After a crummy 2 weeks, this guy made my day…ah hell he made my entire month!  

October 12, 2012

Autumn Weekend in Paris!

Last weekend we escaped for a few days in Pariiiiis! It didn't really include touristy things, but rather to see our travel buddies Denis and Emma. Over the past 2 years, we’ve joined them in drinking endless bottles of wine under the Eiffel Tower, boating in Amsterdam, island-hopping in Greece and Croatia and lounging on a terrace in Brussels (for nearly 8 hours straight)! We just travel so well with them. Oh and not to forget that Denis was also one of the 40 other exchange students we studied with in Lappeenranta, Finland

But oh la la Paris! In between wining and dining on raclette at their apartment and Emma's breakfasts of pain au chocolat, we strolled the streets around Notre Dame, barhopped around town, made a quick visit to Montmartre and had one last rendezvous at Les Caves Populairesone of the many wine bars Denis and Emma frequent. There's always time to squeeze in another bottle of wine and a meat and cheese plate before taking the train back to Amsterdam :). 

It was a cozy, chilled out weekend in Paris and while our memories with them are already incredible....the list keeps on growing and growing--the four of us just booked tickets for a 10-day roadtrip around Iceland for next year!

Has anyone got tips for our first trip to Iceland? We hear Iceland is out-of-this-world incredible!

October 8, 2012

My Favorite Place

Yesterday, Christian and I were listing all of the places we want to go to one day. As we sat there, I also day-dreamed about where would I return to? If I had to pick one destination to go back to, what would it be?

Amsterdam is always my favorite city (both before and after I moved here!). And I definitely love mornings when I wake up with Christian curled next to me and Jack the cat curled on the other side.

Mljet, Croatia, is without a doubt the most magical, pristine place I’ve ever been.

The beaches of Southern California are home and held countless memories of beach days, bonfires, sunsets and, most recently, where Christian proposed.

But no matter where I travel to…my mind always reverts back to one spot…a quiet stretch of coastline between La Paz and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. My parents vacationed here since before I was born and by the time my sis and I were 4 years old, we played in the water here for years and years. It’s the site of my dad, uncle and brothers annual fishing trips, where my dad celebrated his 50th birthday, where my brother proposed to his wife, where several friends and I, over a matter of years, escaped to this quiet Mexican village for tanning, swimming and endless pina coladas and where I would wake up in the morning and see my dad looking out over the ocean enjoying the sunrise with a cup of coffee in hand every single morning.

The calm water changes from turquoise to deep blue, the people are extremely friendly, the local spot in town has the best enchiladas on the planet and it’s in this place that Christian and I will get married next year surrounded by our family and friends :)!

Oooooh Buena Vista and Los Barriles, Mexico, you steal my heart!

If you had to return back to ONE DESTINATION again, where would you go?

October 3, 2012

Maastricht Wedding!

Oy oy oy...after a full-day of wedding festivities in and around Maastricht last Friday, Christian and I slept the weekend away. The wedding was so beautiful and gezellig (that's 'cozy' in Dutch!), we got to see every bit from beginning to end.

Gorgeous wedding. Awesome couple. Intimate family dinner in a Belgian B&B. And a party with family and friends that lasted until the early morning hours!

Here are some of my favorite pics!! Which increasingly got more blurry as the evening continued...I blame it on the open bar ;)...I love Dutch weddings!
{Christian's nieces are the cutest! And are twins...we have twins too...weird twin thing goin on!}

{Brothers of the groom!}