Sunday, March 31, 2013

Around Town: Amsterdam Favorites

The time has finally come and one of my dearest friends from Florida landed in Amsterdam on Wednesday!
Naturally, I want to show her a great time while visiting my darling city but it's also her very first time to Europe making the trip extra special!

I'm really looking forward to showing her around, not only the highlights of Amsterdam but also a little gilmpse into what my life is like here as it's quite a change from living in Florida.

Here are five of my favorite places around Amsterdam that we'll definitely be checking out together...

1. Brouwerij 't Ij not only has delicious, organic, locally brewed biertjes but also happens to be the spot where my Dutchman and I first spotted each other! The brouwery offers free tours which I'd highly recommend, who knows you may end up catching the eye of someone interesting or at least sample some great beers on their sunny (and often packed) terrace. 

2. The Albert Cuyp Market is my favorite spot to browse fresh fruits and veggies, pick up some delicious hapjes like marinated artischoke hearts and tasty dips for bread. The surrounding area has a wonderful selection of bars and restaurants too. Some of my favorite spots in this area are: De Vredespijp for coffee and cake, Poptasti Pastry for macarons, Bazaar for an exotic dinner or The Flamingo for some beers!

3. Vondelpark is synonmymous with Amsterdam, the way Central Park is with New York City. It'a place to see and be seen, where locals and visitors collide with bikes, footballs, live music, theater and a generally awesome time, in any season. You'll find me relaxing at our secret spot in the park practically every day during the summer picnic season- my favorite time of year!

4. Museums are a highlight of the Netherlands, there are literally hundreds around the country and Amsterdam is known for some of the best. Purchased annually, The Museum Card has been a staple for very year I've lived here. Purchased annually, it gives you unlimited, free entry to hundreds of museums around the country! Perfect for popping in to check out a new exhibition, hiding inside on a rainy day or showing friends around town.

5. The PureMarkt is one of my favorite happenings around Amsterdam.
This monthly market full of food trucks, local products, vintage goods and live music!

Feel free to follow along on instagram (@lilywanderlust)

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Weekend Wanderings: Mama's visit to Amsterdam

Last weekend my Mom came to town for three days
It's always fun when she comes to visit but to have her here for an entire weekend really felt like a mini holiday (courtesy of Delta). Since my Dutchman is working on renovating our kitchen I stayed at the hotel with my mom which really made it feel like a stay-cation in Amsterdam.

Unfortunately, the weather had taken a turn for the worse with bitter cold winds so that nixed our idea of a cycling day trip.  Instead, we spent Friday at our favorite Thai restaurant and Saturday in the city, checking out the Nine Streets and getting the most of our museum cards. On Sunday, we braved a cold afternoon to check out the Food Film Festival and the Puremarkt. 

Here are a few snapshots from her visit!

[Our Favorite Thai dishes]

[Wandering the Nine Streets]
[Museum Van Loon]

[The Amsterdam Museum + The Begijnhof]

 One of my best friends from Florida arrived this week and we've been exploring the city and catching up on life. It's so fun to have her here, March has been a busy month full of visitors!

Have a fun weekend!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Guest Post with A Georgia Peach Abroad

My good friend Kaitlin, an expat living in Utrecht, recently interviewed me for her blog series 'For the Love of Travel.' 

You can read the interview here and learn more about my travel style and other adventure related topics.

Be sure to have a browse through her blog, A Georgia Peach Abroad as well for more on her experience of life
in the Netherlands! Thanks for having me, Kaitlin!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Odds + Ends: Weekend Fun

Hooray, it's Friday!

March has been a hectic, action packed month filled with weekend visits from family and friends, 
our kitchen's current state of construction and saying good-bye my expat pals Jana and Kevin,
 (reoccurring farewells are one of the hardest parts of expat life)...

And we haven't even officially made it to this weekend yet!

Allegedly, spring has arrived but, I'm not quite convinced. The skies keep mixing bouts of blue with frozen rain and snow. That doesn't feel like spring to me but colorful tulips around the house sure do help brighten the mood.


My mama arrives today for a weekend visit and it's no surprise that I'm looking forward to big hugs, exploring the city, catching up over a bottle of wine and a yummy dinner at our favorite Thai restaurant. (Hi Mom!) 
Maybe we'll even head out of the city for a day trip as well!

If you're in the Netherlands, have a look at some of the fun things going on in Amsterdam or your city!
My favorite home wares store is having a mega sale!
Fashion, food and live music at Roest
 Films and food trucks? Count me in! 
The American Indian exhibition has been on my to-do list for a while
We're throwing a fun masquerade party! Expat friends, don't miss this!

Are you up to anything fun this weekend?
Feel free follow along on instagram (@lilywanderlust) and share your links below!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

South Africa: Tsitsikamma National Park

After our week long safari in Kruger Park we headed out on the famed Garden Route along South Africa's magnificent coastline.

A few of our first stops included iconic waves at Geoffrey's Bay and an adventurous tree top canopy zip line trek near Storms River.

While staying in Storms River we spent only one (of two allotted days) 
The view looked a little something like this.... 

Like all travelers, we can't control the weather so, unfortunately, our first visit to Tsitsikamma Park was sepia toned and not as scenic. We opted for a little drive but so much exploring that day!
At least know we know why the area is called Storms River!

Fortunately, as luck would have it, the sunshine came back out for our second day of hiking in the park before we headed back along the Garden Route towards Hermanus for some whale watching.

Tsitsikamma means, "place of abundant or sparkling water" and with ocean views, deep gorges and water falls, that's exactly what this park has!

Visitors can catch gorgeous views of the area while camping, hiking, kayaking, mountain biking, canopy tours and so much more.
In fact, this national park streatches across more than 50 miles of coastline, amazing!

This seems like a post where I'll should let pictures can do the talking...

Calla Lillies and two Dassies, a fat South Africa rat

If you're heading to South Africa, I'd highly recommend checking out the SANParks website for information all of the country's unique and stunning national parks.

If you'd like to get caught up on our South African adventure, have a look at what to pack, Safari in Kruger Park part one and part twoJohannesburg, the Cradle of Mankind and Sterkfontein caves.

Plus, close encounters with a cheetah, an early morning bush walkelephants on paradepetting baby lionsflora and fauna, driving the garden route to Geofrey's Bay and the Addo Elephant Park.

Happy Travel Tuesday!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Weekend Wanderings: An Expat Sunday-Funday

After spending Saturday writing and helping my Dutchman with the kitchen renovations, I was ready to get out of the house for a breath of fresh air. So, on Sunday, I headed into the city centre to meet with my pal Rachel and Fiona, and ex-Amsterdam-expat in town from London. 

We brunched along the Single and befriended yet another set of expats (from Australia) at the table beside ours.
It's always fun to meet newcomers in the city!

Sitting outside on this nearly spring winter morning, the sun popped out to say 'hello' to our little expat group. Of course, I instinctively whipped around to snap a picture (no surprise there!)  As you're probably aware, here in Amsterdam, sunshine is a precious commodity and I make the most of it!

And good thing I do because the blue sky disappeared quick as it came and just as expected,
the rest of the day was buried in clouds and drizzle.

After brunch, the three of us spent our Sunday afternoon wandering along cobblestoned side streets, popping into little shops, chatting and snapping pictures along the way...

We spotted a few oddities, like a gang of noisy four-wheelers bounding through the city, quite an interference... the charming canal scenes of Amsterdam!

How sweet are these love locks?
 I'm tempted to bring my Dutchman across this bridge and add one of our own!

We finished our Sunday-Funday day with a St. Patrick's Day drink, in homage to Rachel's Irish roots,
and a quick glimpse of the sunset.

And just like that, we're back to Monday.
I hope you had a lovely weekend too!