Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Lisbon Favorites

After an action packed week in Lisbon, it's taking some time to sort out all my adventure stories.

Here are some of my favorites moments...

Stopping for a mid-day coffee or sangria at the Santa Catarina Miradouro

Blue skies 

Exploring ruins in the city

Enjoying Bario Alto with new friends by night

Summer celebrations 

Praca dom Pedro IV

Colorful tiles around the city

Bold, bright colors 


Drying laundry on balconies of colorfully tiled buildings

Climbing giant hills to see the sights from Lisbon's famous miradouros

Wandering around the city 

Art deco architecture 

Taking in historical scenes while riding Tram 28

Putting the fun back in funicular

Relaxing in shaded parks to escape the sun

Reading a book on the beach at Cascais

Stumbling upon free jazz festivals

Read more about my trip to Lisbon here

Let's Color!

I just got back to the Dam after a great holiday in Lisbon. Thanks to lack of sleep and a wonderfully sociable time in Portugal, I'm currently feeling a bit exhausted and overwhelmed with the combo of work plus writing articles and editing hundreds of photos from the trip. The city was drenched in sun and climbing the high hills killed my legs while providing spectacular views.

Here's a little something magical to buy some time before sorting out all my Lisbon adventure stories. I jut stumbled upon this organization called Let's Color. They're i the process of turning bleak grey areas into rainbows to encourage positivity around the world. Check out the videos below, they're sure to put a smile on your face.

"Grey is out. Gloom is gone. It’s time to live our lives in colour... A mission to spread colour all over the world. We are working together with local communities across the globe, rolling up our sleeves to paint streets, houses, schools and squares."

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Ola Lisboa!

Lisbon has a lot of adorable windy cobble stone streets, lined with candy colored buildings but the hills are so steep here!
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Lovely tiles in Lisbon

So far, the trip has been great! I love stumbling across a variety of colorful tiles all around the city.
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Portugal vs Brazil

We watched the game in downtown Lisbon. Scorching heat + standing for 2 hours was painful but the game was great! Even though no one scored everyone celebrated!
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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Via Mijn Fiets: Fallen Bike

Dutch of the day: To fall- Vallen

Bye-Bye Grey Skies

Where would you rather be this week?

That's right friends, I'm leaving this chilly, grey city to soak up the sun in Lisbon! No joke, I'm seriously lacking sundresses because Amsterdam has fluctuated between winter and spring for so long that I've lost motivation for summer shopping. Sad, but true.

Don't worry, I'll post from the road. Click here to follow my Portuguese adventure on twitter @lilywanderlust. I can't wait for a few days solid sunshine. Lisbon, here I come!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Free Events: Amsterdam Roots Festival

Free world music concerts in Amsterdam's Oosterpark this Sunday! Let's hope it doesn't rain.

Read my article here:

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Hup! Holland! Hup!

The Netherlands was victorious over Denmark today, celebration erupted throughout the country and it was quite exciting to witness the madness here in Amsterdam! Naturally, everyone was covered head to toe in orange. Not just people but buildings and bikes, too! Even I got out my wild orange sunglasses, which were conveniently left over from Queen's day, to participate in the sea of orange crowded around a giant flat screen t.v.

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I have to be honest here, I'm not really into sporting all. Sure, I appreciate the skill and dedication and yeah, voetbal is fun to play recreationally but I'm the last person to ask when it comes to actual knowledge of athletic facts and figures. The winter Olympics would have completely slipped my mind if I hadn't been living in a country obsessed with speed skating. I even visited Beijing in 2007 and all I remember was seeing them build the bird's nest. But, this week, my apathy has changed.

For some reason, World Cup experience is just more fun in Europe! The atmosphere is so completely saturated with this game that it's actually hard to not care. The energy might even be raising the spirit of non-enthusiasts like myself. Although I can't guarantee that I'll still have this much interest in soccer/football tomorrow or a month from now, it's kind of exciting to imagine the myriad of places I could be watching the World Cup in four years and who I'll be rooting for (besides America, of course!)

Bikes, check. Orange, check. Feeling very Dutch at the moment and the World Cup is definitely growing on me. But for now, I'll just add this to the list of unique expat experiences in the Netherlands and enjoy the perks of cheering for two teams.

Monday, June 14, 2010

delete Tourist Guide to Renting Bikes in Amsterdam

I just wrote a new article in my travel column with great tips for renting bikes in Amsterdam. Check it out and don't forget to subscribe! Click here to read the article. As always, questions and comments are welcomed.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Baked Black Bean Burgers

Summer just isn't summer with out cookouts and picnics. Obviously, I've got the picnic situation under control. But unfortunately, the cookouts are seriously lacking over here in Amsterdam. And then, I stumbled upon this recipe for inspiration.

Without a grill, we opted for baking these veggie burgers which turned out great! And to go with our Mexican flavor obsession, I whipped up a Chipotle Salsa to top the mini burgers and served them on warmed flour tortillas.

Baked Black Bean Burgers

  • 2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup dry rolled oats
  • 1 large or 2 medium carrots, shredded
  • 1 red chili pepper, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped coriander (plus more for garnish)
  • Juice of ½ lime
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ½ large red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese shredded

Run the oats though a food processor until powdered, set aside. Then add the following to the food processor: chili pepper, garlic, onion, oat powder and all spices. Then add ¾ of the black beans and lime juice, mix until almost smooth. Move into a mixing bowl then add the carrots, red pepper, coriander and the last ¼ of the black beans. Ball into the size of a large egg, semi flatten. Grease a cooking sheet with olive oil. Bake the mini burgers in the oven at 170 Celsius (325 Fahrenheit) for 30-45 minutes.

Serve with tortillas warmed in the oven, guacamole, cheddar cheese and chipotle salsa.

Chipotle Salsa

  • Juice of ½ a lime
  • 1 small can chipotle peppers
  • 1 small tomato
  • 1 clove garlic
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • Salt, pepper to taste

In a food processor mix all ingredients and lightly blend

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Summer Cilantro & Black Bean Salad

Remember my post about our Mexican food week? Well, good news...I've got more recipes to share. This is a salad Amy and I made over the weekend with lots of crisp veggies and a light yogurt-cilantro dressing.

Want to enjoy this delicious, healthy salad yourself? Just follow the recipe below...

Summer Cilantro and Black Bean Salad

· 1 package corn bread mix

· ¼ c. jalapeno peppers

· 1 bag of field greens

· 1 red pepper

· 3 small tomatoes, diced

· 2 small red onions, diced

· 1 avocado, thinly sliced

· ½ c. plain yogurt

· ½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped

· 1 tsp. cumin

· ½ tsp. red pepper flakes

· ¼ c. fresh lime juice

· 1 (medium) can black beans, rinsed and drained

· 1 (medium) can corn, drained

· 1 c. shredded Cheddar cheese

· 2 tsp. taco seasoning

· Salt and pepper to taste

Pre-bake the cornbread mix, adding jalapenos. Let cool and crumble.

Add the yogurt, cilantro, cumin, red pepper flakes and lime juice to a food processor and taco seasoning.

Mix until well blended.

In a large mixing bowl, add ½ of the field greens. Then layer with about ½ of each vegetable ingredient. Repeat another layer starting with the field greens. Top with the yogurt-cilantro dressing and avocado slices.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Portuguese Dance Party

I spent a large majority of today organizing my upcoming trip to Portugal. A fellow Couch Surfer recommend this video to reference a 'must see' spot in the city. The music alone instantly put a smile on my face. I can't wait to dance around exploring in Lisbon!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Bakfiets Love

Check out this adorable bakfiets! I spotted it in De Pijp, over by De Fietsfabriek shop. Before snapping a picture, I thought to myself, "Well, it's hard to get more Dutch than this..." Pretty bikes in Amsterdam make me happy. Seeing treasures like this make me fall more and more in love with this city.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Let's Go Ride A Bike Summer Games

While doing a post-vacation catch up on some of my favorite blogs, I discovered this great idea over on Dottie's blog Let's Go Ride A Bike. She's a cyclist in Chicago who writes about all things bike related. Go check out her cute and informative blog! It makes me so happy that daily cycling is still booming because I have such fond memories growing just outside of Chicago and up biking everywhere! That area also has some of the most lovely bicycling paths too. Whenever I see fields of Queen Anne's Lace, I think of riding around with my mom, humming the Indiana Jones theme song.

Okay, so back to the bike games...The first session of the Summer Games is Social Cycling. I love that so many of these events are already part of daily bike routine here in Amsterdam. I've pretty much already completed the list but it's such a fun idea that I want to make sure I share more of the events on my blog. Living in Amsterdam has spoiled me, I feel so lucky to live somewhere with such amazing bike culture! I really try not to take for granted how magical biking is here.

Wanna find out more about the LGRAB Summer Games? Click here!

Go on a group ride: Although I do this on a regular basis, I biked to Durgerdam with friends to explore this cute little village on the outskirts of Amsterdam. Click here: Sunny Bike Ride To Durgerdam
Leave a nice note on a bike, or say hi to a cyclist at a red light: Happy, sunny weather in Amsterdam makes happy bike riders. Smiles all around! But biking Amsterdam is way to aggressive to stop and photograph a fleeting moment in the bike lane, so just use your imagination for this one.
Schedule a bike date with a friend or partner - dress up! + Recruit a non-biking friend for a ride: Picnic dates in the park are always an occasion for dressing cute! Poor Libby got stuck with a broken bike on her first trip to Amsterdam bos. Hilarity ensues. Click here: Amsterdamse Bos Adventures

The next challenges are learning experiences, so check back to see how that

Perform a maintenance task — big or small!
Decorate your bike
Read a book about cycling
Carry a load on your bike — groceries, etc.
Test ride a different type of bike than you normally ride

De zommer is...

...Passend bij mijn ijsje met mijn fiets. Super lekker!
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Friday, June 4, 2010

Boat Party through Amsterdam's famous canals

Spring is over and summer will bring even more wild adventures 
but it also means that my time here is quickly coming to an end! Now that it's June, I've officially passed my half way point for my year in Amsterdam. 
Although, I'm trying to land a new gig to extend my time here, I really have no idea what November will bring. It's both exciting and a little daunting, especially after what a whirlwind the last seven months have been. 

Reflecting on how much I love my life here might get a bit sappy, so, I'm going to keep it upbeat by sharing with you one of my most favorite days in Amsterdam.
I've met some great people and made wonderful friendships during my time in Amsterdam so far. In April we celebrated multiple birthdays by renting out a boat, packing it with snacks, wine and cupcakes and setting out for an afternoon floating through Amsterdam's canals. 
What an amazing day! 
I can't fully articulate with words the magical, happy energy that radiated from our boat party. So, I'll let the pictures do the talking. Thanks to my friends who let me use their pictures since I was too scared of losing me camera in the canals.

For those of you who are visiting and want to see the city by boat, rent a private one!
I wouldn't recommend one of those boat tours for seeing the city, because they just shuttle you around in this secluded glass bubble.
I've never actually been one tourist boats, but whenever I see the tourists crammed inside, watching life along the shore happen without really interacting with everyone else, it makes me sad.

I think the best way for a tourist to discover Amsterdam is by foot (and maybe a few tram rides).
Or, if you're brave, try renting a bike...but please, please, please, follow the bike rules so I don't have to ring my bell and swerve from hitting you!
 I do, however, fully endorse hiring someone to let you party in their boat, while you and friends enjoy a relaxing day in the sun floating past some of Amsterdam's most adorable areas.
Don't forget to pack wine and cupcakes!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

A Week of Mexican Inspired Dishes

Upon discovering canned chipotle peppers at an imported food store here in Amsterdam, some friends and I decided to create and devour Mexican style dishes all week. We started out with a lovely taco feast. Complete with two types homemade salsa, vegetarian refried beans, corn tortillas, cilantro rice, and spicy grilled veggies with lime juice. This deliciousness resulted in a week long repetition of food comas for all of us. Living in Amsterdam unfortunately inhibits adventures in Mexican dishes because there aren't many products imported over here. I'm really interested in learning more about authentic Mexican cooking. I grew up on bean burritos and home made toasted chili peppers but there's so much more I want to explore. Anyone have some tips? I did however learn that soaking an onion in water before slicing will reduce the tearing effect. Click here for article.

There was more than enough food to last for a few meals so, the leftovers became a variety of taco salads. Toward the end of the week we still hadn't fulfilled out cravings and thus, the idea of a Mexican themed veggie meatloaf arose. I've never made a vegetarian loaf before but, this one turned out fantastic! Stay tuned for the recipe.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

My First Guest Blog: Top Ten Sweet Spots in Amsterdam

By the time this post is published, I'll be enjoying the woods and beaches in the Belgian country side. I recently did a guest post on Libby's blog, 5371 Miles Away. We met during our first week after moving to Holland and have been practically inseparable ever since. You'll probably recognize her from many of my photos and stories, since we've had lots of adventures together. Stay tuned because she's going to do a post on here as well. Anyway, go check out her blog to read my section on the Top Ten Sweet Spots in Amsterdam! So, just click this link to read my guest post and then check out some of Libby's great stories about her life as an au pair in Noordwijk.

Libby & Fien in Noordwijk.

Have a great week, everyone!

Puccini Bomboni

Given my ridiculous sweet tooth, it's surprising to many that chocolate isn't my most common craving. I actually prefer sweet treats in the berry or citrus category. Nonetheless, Puccini Bomboni is definitely an exception to that rule. Probably because, this isn't basic chocolate, it's a flavor sensation best savored slowly. 

This gourmet chocolate shop has a unique array of flavors like lemon grass, tea, apricot and tamarind. My favorites are ginger and pepper. And If you prefer a more traditional taste, try the mint, caramel or cinnamon. 

There are two locations in Amsterdam to fill all your chocolate dreams. I'd recommend visiting with a friend so you can try a bite of theirs, too!