Tag Archives: blogger

Amsterdam, Netherlands

For those who have never visited Amsterdam, it’s easy to assume a young, daring city with the reputable “coffee shops”, Red Light District, exciting nightlife, and Space Cake. I personally associated it with the hash brownie scene from Eurotrip. But Amsterdam is SO much more than that. It’s a city thriving with history and artistic heritage, a maze of canals and narrow houses, 17th century buildings that tilt at impossible angles, a beautiful countryside with some of the last remaining windmills that are centuries old, and the best made Gouda you will ever have in your life. There are few cities that can combine history with modern urban flair like Amsterdam. This city truly holds a special “personality” if a city could have one.
Bikes, Bikes, Bikes!
Cycling is the heart to Amsterdam’s character. It is a way of life and there are are nearly double the amount of bicycles than residents. Most people own two bikes; one for work, and one for leisure. Bikes are how Amsterdammers do everything – whether riding to work, or meeting a friend for coffee, or heading to a dinner date. If you’re feeling daring, head to a rental shop and take a spin. But you better keep up! Everyone yields to bikes. They simply rule the city.
Canal by Boat
If locals aren’t on a bike, they may well be on a boat. Amsterdam has an endless network of canals and many options for taking a boat ride. I would suggest taking an open-air canal boat or one of the free ferries behind Centraal Station. If you really want a workout, try the paddle-boats. But speaking from experience, it’s only fun for the first ten minutes… and make sure you can paddle and steer fast enough to get out of the way of every other boat on the canal. Paddle-boats never have the right-of-way.
Gezellig!
Amsterdam has a feeling of gezellig, a Dutch trait that translates something similar to content and cozy. It’s easier to experience than define. It’s as if time stands still, an awareness of the present that puts all of your stresses aside, at least until tomorrow. You can feel it anywhere, whether you’re sipping coffee at a traditional cafe, walking aimlessly through the flower market with the smell of fresh waffles in the air, or simple chatter after a tasty dinner. There is a calmness and quietness about this city – and I think it’s gezellig.
Zaanse Schans
Windmills are the icon of Holland. Amsterdam used to be filled with windmills for various purposes, whether to prevent the city from flooding or grinding seeds for mustard. Most of the country’s windmills have been taken down, some relocated to the outer city where wind conditions are more favorable. We ventured out to Zaanse Schans in the Dutch countryside for a day trip to see some of Amsterdam’s remaining windmills, followed by Marken and Volendam. I would highly recommend taking the trip!
Red Light District
Back in the day, as in the early 1300’s, women would practice the “worlds oldest profession” by carrying red lanterns (due to their flattering light), and waiting for sailors near the port. Amsterdam’s infamous Red Light District is a neighborhood of vice, skimpy prostitutes in brothel windows, seductive bars, haze-filled “coffeeshops”, strip clubs, and sex-themed museums. It’s not for everyone – but if you choose to satisfy your curiosity, here are some tips:
1. Watch for pickpockets. The Red Light District can be crowded, especially at night. Sticky fingers could be anywhere…
2. Don’t take pictures or videos of the prostitutes. I’ve heard that pimps will harshly take your phone and toss it into the nearest canal.
3. Have an open mind. The Red Light District leaves nothing to the imagination.
Grub
I noticed an on-going theme with the cuisine in Amsterdam. Dutch waffles (which are thin wafer-like cookies filled with honey or syrup), Gouda which is commonly paired with mustard, French Fries with mayonnaise, and croquettes with ham and cheese. Oh, and Heineken. All of which I was happy to eat in excess every day while I was there. But Amsterdam has inherited a variety of international cuisine including Argentinian steakhouses, Italian trattoria’s, Indonesian cuisine, and German Schnitzel. There is something to satisfy every type of craving. So you better have a big appetite!

A charming city that surprised me in every way. I truly cannot wait to return to Amsterdam one day. Come back soon for when I recap my time in Italy!

xx

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

COUNTRY GIRL

Maxi Dress | fab’rik Denver
Belt | Buffalo Exchange
Boots | eBay

As a Colorado-native, I pride myself in being a true country girl. I grew up in Parker, had a couple acres of land as a backyard, played in the dirt, owned a pair of pink cowgirl boots, and had a true cowboy of a father to look up to. Being a country girl is a state of mind, a free spirit, daring, caring, sometimes swearing, giving her best, living her best. For me, it’s also a fashion trend and a common go-to when I am crossed with what to wear. I simply embrace my inner country girl with a sundress and my favorite pair of cowgirl boots. “Country” is always in style when you live in Colorado. One of my friends calls it “cowgirl chic”.

There is a field in front of my parent’s house that has the perfect country backdrop. Open acres of wild grass overlooking the Rocky Mountains, endless wooden fence, barely a dirt road, and surrounded by farms of horses, llamas, and goats. My sister and I played around in this field on a rainy afternoon. It was dreary and misty and perfect for running around in a pair of boots. I nearly ruined a new dress that I scored from fab’rik Denver, but hey – a little mud never hurt anybody. That’s the country girl attitude.

xx

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

HAVANA DIARIES: PART II

Havana is where you go to travel back in time. Spanish-colonial buildings, vintage 50’s cars, NO modern influence anywhere. Spending time in Old Havana was truly nostalgic and humbling, like you got to go back to a simpler time. But we didn’t spend the entire time in Havana. We ventured out to Viñales and Varadero.

Viñales, Cuba
Cost – 
$67 CUC per person (day trip included round-trip transportation, tour, and lunch)
Tour Company – Cubatur
Travel Time – 2.5 hours by bus, approx. 179 km each way
My friends and I woke up early for a day trip and headed West to Viñales. Viñales is an extremely rooted and picturesque town in the heart of Cuba’s prime tobacco-growing region. We settled into the small town and started at a rum factory, headed on to Mural De La Prehistoria in Viñales Valley [where I fell in love with a horse in front of one of the most largest murals in the world], then to a 4th-generation tobacco farm where we purchased fresh hand-rolled cigars. We ended the day cave-exploring and then I met a water buffalo named Thomas. Needless to say, it was a pleasant rural getaway from the hustle and bustle of Havana.
Fun Fact – When Christopher Columbus first visited Cuba, he found the local population smoking a local herb, cohiba, through a pipe, or tobago. They called the act of smoking “sikar”. Columbus brought back some samples, and it wasn’t long before millions of Europeans were smoking tobacco rolled into cigars and cigarettes. Tobacco was grown commercially in Cuba as early as the 16th century, and by the late 17th century, it was the country’s most important export crop. By all accounts, the finest cigars in the world come from Cuba. [Source: Frommer’s Easy Guide to Cuba]

Varadero, Cuba
Cost – $190 CUC roundtrip by taxi
Travel Time – 2 hours, approx. 145 km each way
In short, Varadero is the prime beach destination of Cuba. It is a beautiful drive from Havana which stays along the coast to this resort-filled peninsula. My friends and I traveled to Varadero to visit some other friends who were staying there. This day trip was interesting to say the least.
Tip – Unless you are part of a tour group, or have hotel reservations, DO NOT visit Varadero on a whim. Most of the hotels are all-inclusive resorts, and unless you are a guest at one of these resorts, these places will not exactly be waiting for you with a welcome mat and a Mojito. We found it extremely difficult to step within 5 feet of these hotels once they found out we were not guests. Most wouldn’t let us inside, and we never found our friends who we intended to visit. For such a hospitality hub, I am sad to say that the Varadero we saw was anything but hospitable. One hotel even called security on me when I tried to get my money back after buying a failed Internet card. Ouch.
Now, I am not trying to slam Varadero. It is a lovely place to visit, and perfect if you need some R+R on the beach. I would simply advise planning ahead and making a reservation to stay at one of the hotels so that you can enjoy the amenities, or go with a tour company that will have everything lined up for you to enjoy.

Havana Diaries Part III coming soon!

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

TIME OUT

Top | VANILLA STAR
Belt | Steve Madden
Jeans | American Eagle Outfitters
Sunglasses | Urban Outfitters

We stumbled upon this dreamy valley when we were struggling to find parking for Muir Woods. We knew it was risky to visit on a Saturday, along with the rest of the world, and what seemed to be an endless road taking us further and further away from the entrance eventually brought us to this place. I jumped out of the car and asked my sis to snap some photos. It was kind of majestic and picturesque and we were the only ones there. The only thing that could have made it better was maybe a white horse and a picnic.

 I love places like this though. I am not a city person. Country girl all the way. Don’t get me wrong, I love visiting and galavanting around – but after a while it can get overwhelming and I get bored of concrete. Gotta escape back to nature, ya know? Into places like this. A time-out from city chaos. I will never forget this special place.

xx

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

old and new

Floral Maxi Skirt | Pink’s Denver
Strappy Block Heels | Franco Sarto
Nude Bodysuit | H&M
Suede Moto Jacket | BNCI by Blanc Noir
Amelia Sling Purse | Be&D
Sunglasses | Urban Outfitters

I specifically planned this look for the farmer’s market at the Ferry Building this past weekend. It’s common for us fashionistas to coordinate our outfit based on where we’re going, but this look was randomly thrown together and then saved for Saturday morning. A mix of old & new, I picked up the Pink’s maxi skirt and Franco Sarto block heels right before the trip; the moto jacket, sunglasses, and Amelia sling have been living in my closet for a while. I sat on the floor in my bedroom with a glass of wine and threw it together, simply inspired by what I would want to wear at the farmer’s market. And here it is. Ta-Da!

xx

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,