Anne at Theater Amsterdam

If you live in Amsterdam, it’s impossible to miss the ‘Anne’ posters plastered all over town. In fact, at one point I think I even saw an entire bus branded with the big yellow ‘Anne’ letters, calling attention to one of Amsterdam’s most historic and harrowing tales. If you’re not familiar with The Diary of Anne Frank, I’ll assume you’ve been living under a rock. As an American, reading Anne’s diary was part of my elementary school education. And as a current Amsterdam-dweller, understanding Anne’s intimate portrayal of World War II reminds us all that life in the Netherlands hasn’t always been peachy, and that this open and accepting Dutch mentality was hard-earned.

Last week, I was invited to Theater Amsterdam, not only to see their interpretation of Anne’s saga, but to also enjoy a lovely three-course dinner at Boven de Planken, the theater’s bespoke restaurant.

IMG_4817It sits on the second floor of the theater, surrounded by large glass windows overlooking the IJ. Continue reading

Milan, Italy

Last week I went to Milan for work. I spent three nights in swanky a hotel, attended an innovative conference, drank lots of wine, enjoyed some fantastic company, and gorged on spaghetti, polenta, lasagna, and risotto. Ohh, how my stomach misses Milan. I’ve been to Italy once before (a long weekend in Venice with my sisters), but to be honest, I still haven’t had my fill. My dream holiday (which I’ve been planning in my head for about a year now) involves renting a car in Northern Italy and kicking off a grand road trip. I would start in the Italian Alps, making sure to jump in Lake Como before driving down through Tuscany, stopping at quaint bed and breakfasts and drinking lots of wine along the way. The next stop would be Rome, where I would visit the Pantheon and over-indulge in dish after dish of pasta. Finally, I would drive down to Naples, do some sightseeing, return the rental car, and spend the last week of my Italian holiday sailing along the Amalfi Coast, swimming, eating seafood, and sipping limoncello in the sun. This fantasy has been churning in my head for some time, but for now, smaller, bite-sized pieces of Italian adventures will have to do.IMG_4790I have very few photos of Milan, despite being there for three days. I blame work, which rightly so took up most of my Milan-time. However, I committed to being a geek (woo) and lugged my huge DSLR all around Italia. So on Wednesday night, after three hours in a pub (unfortunately working) and two hours before a business meeting, I was able to sneak off, go on a walk around the beautiful Milano, and take a few sunset photographs to share.

The above photo is the Duomo di Milano, a Gothic cathedral that took nearly six centuries to complete!

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Thanksgiving 2014

I’ve been in Holland for five years, and I think I’ve finally managed to crack the perfect Thanksgiving recipe. No, I am not referring to a delicious Betty Crocker stuffing, or Martha’s expert mashed potatoes. I’m talking about the overall hosting of a detailed dinner, on a work night, in a country that doesn’t recognize one of the fattest and most elaborate food holidays of all. So how does one prepare a Thanksgiving feast for eight on a ten hour work day? Want to know the magic recipe? Late November 2014_1128_2303You will need: one slow cooker, a dash of determination, a local butcher, three nights at the grocery store, four cups of wine, one slightly chopped work agenda, and eight amazing friends.  Continue reading

Prague

Wow. Has it really been 15 days since my last blog post?! November is flying by, figuratively and literally. I’ve been on more planes this month than I can count on both hands – in the past two weeks alone I’ve been to Prague, Denmark, and Milan. My busy travel schedule means lots of client dinners, late nights in transit, and extra work on top of day time meetings, so I haven’t had much blogging down-time. I also haven’t had a lot of alone time, sleep time, eat healthy time, clean my house time, or binge on Netflix time. Tonight my only plan is to put on pajamas and read in bed until I fall asleep. But before I retire into a puddle of laziness, let me tell you about Prague.

IMG_4506Two weeks ago, a colleague and I hopped on a plane to Prague for the European Planning Conference. The conference was super informative, but also very full-on, and didn’t leave for much time for city-exploration. Continue reading

A Weekend Trip to Paris

I’ve blogged about Paris before (here, here, here, and here). In fact, since living in Amsterdam, I’ve been to Paris four or five times. It’s super easy to get to, the train ride down is fairly inexpensive, and I’m consistently amazed at how drastically different the culture is, despite only being three short hours away from Amsterdam. I love France. What other culture can make snails taste so damn good, and cigarette smoking look so chic? I adore strolling through Amsterdam at night, along the yellow-lit canals. The beauty of historic Amsterdam always makes me grin. But Paris surely gives Amsterdam a run for its money, in beauty and in charm.

IMG_4404Last weekend, Radisson Blu invited me to stay at the Dokhan’s Hotel in Trocadéro. Amie was in town visiting, so I asked if she could join as well. This was met with an enthusiastic ‘yes’, so Amie and I planned to end our lady-holiday with a weekend in the City of Light. After a long weekend in Turkey, and four nights in Amsterdam, we ended our Dutch adventures with one last crazy night out, and then got on a train bright and early the next morning, headed south for the last leg of our trip in Paris.  Continue reading

City Insider: Meet Lou in Paris

A few weeks ago, I was featured on Lou’s brilliant blog. Lou is a British gal living in Paris, and her blog serves up a delicious slice of Parisian life. The photos are beautiful, her tone is personal, and her French adventures are just so darn charming. As I was headed to Paris myself last weekend, I decided to ask Lou some insider questions before the trip. And as they were so fantastic, I thought, why not share them with you here?! So as a preamble to my own Paris adventures, here are some lovely Paris tips from a lovely paris insider :)

Welcome to the blog Lou! Can you tell me about yourself, Paris, and your blog?

Hi Ali – thanks for having me on the blog. So, my name is Lou and I’m originally from the UK. I’ve been in Paris now for 5 years and my main reason for moving to Paris was to be with my boyfriend. I blog at www.lou-in-paris.com and originally started the blog over 2 years ago, for friends and family to keep track of my life on the other side of the Channel (like you right?) Over the past year I’ve made more effort to write for a wider audience and about things going on in the world that interest me, as well as the more personal stuff.

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Hungover Istanbul & Day 4

Hello blog friends. Tonight’s blog post is brought to you from the city of Prague, where I am currently flopped on a massive hotel bed that is framed by a large, plush backboard and two beautiful hand-carved side tables, one of which is holding a cold, proper sized beer (you can thank the beer for the run on sentence). I’m here for a strategic conference which I find a bit wanky, but I’ve learned a lot and there’s free booze, and now I’m having some down time to chat with you :) All in all it’s been a whirlwind weekend, what with Halloween and Museum night in Amsterdam. Throw a stomach bug and a city trip to Prague into the mix, and yeah, laying here doing nothing for 45 minutes feels GOOD. I love traveling, seeing the world, working hard, and living fully. But sometimes a gal just needs 45 pillows and some alone time with her laptop. And I really want to share the rest of Istanbul with you, before I move on to Paris, and then Prague. Yes, it’s been a very busy travel month, and I’m looking forward to home-time this weekend :) But before that, let’s chat Istanbul!IMG_4128The reason this post is called Hungover Istanbul & Day 4, is because after our crazy night out, Amie and I were d-e-a-d. Like, went to breakfast and walked past the hotel concierge totally blushing because some definitely inappropriate things happened the night before, dead. We laughed hysterically over breakfast, because who the heck knows what happened the night before (ok we totally do but I’m not telling you). Continue reading

Istanbul Day 2

On day two in Istanbul, Amie and I wanted to go to the Grand Bazaar, eat fish sandwiches under the Galata Bridge, and drink Turkish tea. We also wanted to get drunk, which turned out to be easier said than done. IMG_3891But let’s go in chronological order, and start with a wander through what Amie and I like to refer to as ‘the pajama district’. Continue reading

Istanbul Day 1

Istanbul has been on my bucket list for a while now. I’ve never been to Asia before, and a trip to Istanbul, which a half-European, half-Asian city, seemed like a good way to dip my toe into the Asian scene without being completely immersed and overwhelmed. Luckily, I’ve been racking up the KLM miles for work, and a few months ago I finally earned enough points for a freebie flight to Turkey. I convinced Amie (meet Amie here, here, and here) to join me, and a few days later our tickets were booked and were planning our fifth European adventure together.

I won’t lie – looking at Turkey’s geographic location on a map beforehand was a bit unnerving. ‘Hey, I want to go to a country that borders Syria and Iraq . . . ‘ said no ever. Family and friends in the States voiced a loud and conservative view on how ‘safe ‘Istanbul actually was, compared to many of my European friends who had actually paid the amazing Istanbul a visit in the past few years. So I was excited, a bit nervous, and completely mystified as to how the trip would actually unfold. Having now survived four days in Istanbul, wow, do I have some stories for you.

IMG_3615The first word that comes to mind when I try to describe Istanbul is ‘sensory’.  Continue reading

Twenty-Eight at Spaghetteria

I have officially been alive for 28 years. I wanted to share something profound here – droplets of wisdom or wise old words. But today, I don’t feel like looking back. I don’t want to dwell on twenty-seven or twenty-six, twenty-one or the past. I am sitting here in a clean, ironed shirt, wearing red lipstick with pearls in my ears, and I just want to be. I want to experience the happiness that is pouring from my chest. I want to glow and grow, and hold the present moment in my heart. Birthdays are great because they give us pause to reflect – to establish our own personal resolutions. This year, I will live in the moment. I will not fear the future or hold on to the past. I will appreciate my surroundings, my friends, and the small moments that are often overlooked. IMG_3564Yesterday, my 28th birthday, was a day filled with countless honey-sweet moments. All summer, I’ve been inviting different girlfriends over for dinner on Wednesday night. I’ve coined the evening ‘Woman’s Wednesday’, and I’ve been lucky enough to share my dinner table with some brilliant ladies. As my birthday fell on a Wednesday this year, I decided it was fitting to invite a bunch of my favorite girls out for a big family-style Woman’s Wednesday dinner. Another favorite Wednesday tradition of mine is eating pasta. Growing up, my big Italian family would gorge on spaghetti and meatballs every Wednesday night, so for my birthday this year I asked the girls to meet me at Spaghetteria for massive plates of handmade pasta, crisp Italian wine, and deadly sgroppinos. Continue reading