Sunday, April 28, 2013

[May] Expat Blogger Brunch invite

Happy Sunday, my friends!

Guess's time for the May edition of the Expat Blogger Brunch!
Kaitlin and I are putting details together for our upcoming meet up
and we would love it if you joined us.

Are you looking to expand your social circle, just settling into life abroad or in need of a creative boost? Our aim for the group is primarily socializing, networking
and exchanging ideas with other bloggers.

Curious? Have a look at our previous (and first!) expat blogger meet-up hosted by Kaitlin in Utrecht last month. Such fun!

This round, I'm hosting the blogger brunch brunch over here in Amsterdam on Sunday, May 19! 

Interested? Great! Shoot me an email blog[at]lilywanderlust[dot]com for more details. 
We have 15 spaces available, please RSVP by Friday, May 10.

See y'all in a few weeks!

We created the Expat Blogger Brunch to...
-Generate a creative, social forum
-Expand experiences abroad through a network of expat bloggers in the Netherlands
-Cultivate social media contacts into real life connections
-Exchange ideas, suggestions and support about and within the expat community
-Inspire each other through topic discussions and special events
This group is open to expat bloggers both novice and seasoned, we encourage bloggers different backgrounds to participate.

Ps. Last round, we had a lot of responses from expat bloggers outside of the Netherlands. To clarify, the invitation is open to any expat blogger so, if you're going to be in town feel free to join us, the more the merrier! You can also follow along on twitter and instagram with #expatbloggersnl

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Around Town: Walking Tour in Amsterdam

Earlier this month, one of my very best friends from Florida, Jolie, came to visit for two weeks on her very first trip to Europe! We had a brilliant time together, as good friends usually do, and it was especially fun to show her about this darling city I happily call home.

Although Amsterdam is known as a bike friendly spot (actually, that's one of my favorite aspects of living here!) it's nearly impossibly, especially for visitors, to properly take in the sights while steering and peddling their way along the fietspad

Cycling in Amsterdam is great fun and a definite necessity for locals, but everything whizzes by so quickly! That's why I recommend all visitors to take more time to stroll the streets and enjoy the picturesque scenes.

Let me get to the point, walking tours are a good thing!

That said, it's no surprise I also love a leisurely walk in the city because it's simply a relaxing way to see a new perspective of life happening around you. You'll never be able to catch the details of Amsterdam's historic canal houses, cute window scenes, or little spring flowers while rushing along on a bike! Plus, walking offers great opportunities for picture taking, which is an absolute must.

We chose Sandmans Free Tours for extremely biased reasons as my colleague Mark, a witty ginger from Ireland, just happens to be a guide for them (Hi Mark!)

Although I've been along the same tour a few years ago, this round did not disappoint. We spent a few hours learning the history of Amsterdam, while wandering the streets, peaking around tiny alleys and chucking at our guides entertainingly off color jokes. While I'm already acquainted with the history of Amsterdam, it was great fun to hear Jolie's unfamiliar point of view, observations from a fresh perspective are so interesting. Our tour was great combination of history and humor!

Yes, that's a boob, Amsterdam's Oudekerk is located in the heart of the Red Light District.

Oh look, it's Amsterdam's thinnest house! Can you believe someone really lives there?!

A few snapshots around the Jordaan neighborhood in west of the city center

If you're visiting Amsterdam, showing friends around the city or just curious to explore a bit of history definitely check out these tours. And don't forget to tip generously if you found it fun,
the tours may be free but the guides still gotta eat!

Speaking of eating, our tour ended in the Jordaan and after browsing a few overpriced cute boutiques I took Jolie to one of the tastiest vegan restaurants in town, De Bolhoed. You may remember it from my Friday Pieday series and although it's been ages since I visited their food was yummy as ever!

Note: If are are brave enough to hop on a two wheeler in Amsterdam here's a little secret...
The locals exactly don't appreciate amateurs taking their sweet time frivolously cycling and pretty please don't ring your bells obnoxiously, it's just annoying. While you might be leisurely cycling along be warned there's a chance swarmed by dining bells and angry locals zipping past.
Just stay to the right, be aware and everyone's happy! So, now you know. 

Monday, April 22, 2013

Weekend Wanderings: Sun, Sun, Sun in Amsterdam

Here we are, it's Monday again.
I can't be the only one who feels like the time is shorter on weekends, right?

We've started moving back into the kitchen (!) but I escaped the kitchen project for a few hours of reading and enjoying the sunshine in the park. Apparently, this is a reoccuring theme in my life and I'm just fine with that!

It was a generally quiet time reading and people watching, enjoying the fresh spring air and checking out both the routine and odd characters who make their way through the park. From people playing ball or setting up a picnic to the more unique characters who have clearly enjoyed a few too many beers for the day.

Nothing fancy here, just a few bright, sunny images to send some happy energy your way this Monday morning which just happens to be Earth Day as well!

Does anyone else find it interesting to see discover who shares the park bench? 
Maybe it's my inner anthropologist but subsequently, it turns out an open seat on the park bench is a nice way to practice speaking a bit of Dutch with my neighbors. 

Friday, April 19, 2013

Signs of spring in Amsterdam

It seems that spring has (finally!) arrived here in Amsterdam...
and this time, I'm sure if it!

This week has been hectic but in many ways reviving. The weather has been absolutely stunning with fresh spring breezes (ok, it's full on windy here), buds on the trees and flowers taking their turn to bloom. I've been buzzing around the city like a busy bee, with a million things to do, like, getting a haircut (long overdue), celebrating a friends birthday (Hi Rose!), enjoying the weather with an ice cream along the canals and finding plants and little bits and pieces for our nearly completed kitchen.

Obviously, all of that means hardly any time for this little blog of mine, but at least the sun is shining and it feels so good! We were without a web connection for a few days and it was very refreshing to spend more time reading and helping my handy Dutchman with his projects instead of at the computer. Ahh, the fun of living in a construction zone never ends! 

On Wednesday, I had an hour to spare and immediately grabbed my bike and headed straight to the park for a bit of reading. It was 20°c and I couldn't get enough! Who would imagine that me, a girl obsessed with hot, hot heat and sunshine, would ever in a million years be excited for 20°c (68°f is basically winter in Florida!) but there I was. Plus, since I work so much behind the computer it's great to have a break from artificial light and enjoy some quiet time in the fresh air just to read a real book all by myself.

My current book, Blog Inc was a sweet birthday gift from my mother and it arrived in perfect timing giving a push of motivation for organizing the Expat Blogger Brunch group with my friend and fellow blogger Kaitlin. It's a quick, informative read and I definitely recommended to other curious bloggers!

Now that the weekend is upon us, we'll hopefully finish the kitchen (fingers crossed, the end is near!) and then I can get back to editing my photos from Jolie's visit and our trip to Paris together.

Looking back, April has been such a crazy month and even Queen's Day will be taking place soon. Time sure is flying!

Can someone please remind me how lovely it's been this week when the unavoiadable rain arrives? Well, hopefully by then we'll have a cosy kitchen to hide away in...

Are you up to anything fun this weekend? Feel free to link up your posts to this one! Enjoy!

Monday, April 15, 2013

[April] Expat Blogger Brunch in Utrecht

As mentioned before, my pal Kaitlin and I have started organizing fun meetups with other expat bloggers around the Netherlands. Having met through our blogs and gone on to become close friends in real life, we wanted to reach out to other expat bloggers around the country who we knew digitally, in an effort to form a sense of community away from the computer. 

In fact, this past year we had a great group of blogger friends here in Amsterdam (remember our apple picking day and now defunct book club?). Sadly, many of those lovely ladies have since moved back to The States this year Ahhh, such is the life of an expat! and we wanted to reach to others and create a new forum. 

Our first official took place in Utrecht, Kaitlin's stomping ground. We met up at the historic Winkle van Sinkle for brunch and a subsequent walk through the city with Kaitlin as our guide. Naturally, our group snapped away at the old, cosy streets. 
Together we enjoyed great conversation and even... sunshine and blue skies!

I'm serious when mentioning sunshine, this was the first bare legged day of the year for me (quite a struggle for this Florida girl, that's for sure!) After our tour, we headed to a sunny terrace for drinks and more chit chat...because no sunny day in Holland ever exists without biertjes!

 It was such a fun day and I can only hope the next event is as successful.
Honestly, we have been blow away by the positive response! Thanks to everyone who showed an interest and I know I speak for both Kaitlin and myself on how great it was to get such an enthusiastic response to our idea!

The following Expat Blogger Brunch will take place in Amsterdam next month and I'll be sure to post the invite on here soon. If you have any questions feel free to shoot me an email, blog [at]

In the mean time, check out a few of my new blogging buddies,
I'm sure they'd love it if you stopped by to say "hello!"

Allison | The Nomad Cooks
Monique | Mo Travels

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


My twenty seventh birthday was a surreal day, filled with fun and some of my favorite people from back home and abroad and of course, many of my many yummy bites to eat.

Of course, 27 isn't that old but this morning after dropping Jolie off at the airport, it hit me that I moved to Amsterdam at the ripe age of 23 (and to think I felt so mature at the time, ha!). Now that my darling friend is back on her flight home, it's really hit me how amazingly quickly time passes. Where did the time go!? I'm so glad to have this little blog as a space to capture memories, both big and small.

Origionaly, I hadn't planned much for my birthday since a two-week visit from Jolie, (one of my best hometown friends) also included a long weekend in Paris together. Adding in a quick visit from my Mom was plenty to ring in the occasion. But, as the day went by a few other friends wanted to join in the fun, so last Wednesday ended up becoming quite a random, social day celebrations! What luck!

We started out with a girls brunch and a visit to see the Van Gogh collection at The Hermitage museum. The exhibit was packed with touristic chaos, but we made up for dealing with crazy crowds by meeting my sweet Mother who so thoughtfully brought a bottle of my favorite South African wine. We sat together in the sunshine and enjoyed a street side choir outside of the Carre Theater, a fun touch despite hardly understand the meaning of their old Amsterdam songs. 

 Who wouldn't want to snuggle a teeny tiny puppy on their birthday!?

Naturally, the bottle emptied quickly in due timing to the weather cooling off. So, we made our way back home to see my Dutchman for an evening drink. Leave it to my jet setting mother to bake my favorite almond cake and drag it all the way to Amsterdam. In our family, birthdays aren't complete with out a homemade almond cake!

Later, we trekked into the city center and stuffed our selves with sushi. The ensuing food coma was both delicious and useful since Jolie and I had a 5.30am wake up call to catch our train to Paris

Clearly, this day was a big step up from spending most of the day hiding from the rain at home, alone, like I did last year (no worries, there were evening drinks with friends too). And who doesn't love the abundant outpour of sweet, messages from friends near and far? A big thanks goes out to everyone who celebrated with me, in person and abroad (and to those who have read through this very long winded post)!

Honestly, my heart is still overwhelmed with how much positive energy was sent my way. What a lucky start to kick off a new year.  I have some big hopes and it seems that just one week in, year 27 already has many good things on the horizon! 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Travel Tuesday Blog Hop

We've just returned from a few fun days in Paris and before plunging into editing photos about our trip, I'll be enjoying the last full day of having a special out of town visitor. 

We'll be taking advantage of today's free cone day, that's for sure!

I'll be back with lots of stories to share later this week but in the mean time,
check out a few more Instagram snaps from Paris.

Plus, today I'm linking up with the blog hop over at Lost in Travels, what a fun way to connect! 
If you've stopped by from the blog hop be sure to say 'hello' in the comments below!


Thursday, April 4, 2013

En route to Paris

In celebration of my 27th birthday (yesterday!) and long lasting friendships, I'm up bright and early and heading to PARIS for a few days with one of my very best friends who is visiting from Florida.

Who could ask for more!?

You better believe we are going to gorge on macarons, burn off the calories while trekking around the city and then eat some more! We're excited to discover quirky places, listen to gypsy blues and maybe take party in a massive pillow fight too. If the weather cooperates we're hoping for a wine filled picnic in one of the city's lovely parks...or maybe under the Eiffel Tower! This is going to be one action packed trip, as it's Jolie's first visit to Europe and I haven't been since 2007!

A few photos from my last visit to the City of Light...


 If you're curious what we're up to, feel free to follow along on instagram (@lilywanderlust),
and I'm sure we'll be doing at least a few of these very French things (ha!)

Do you have a favorite Parisiene activity or spot that we shouldn't miss?

Leave us a suggestion in the comments below or send me a tweet,
I love hearing what other travelers recommend!
Well, adventure calls... Bon voyage!