Friday, May 31, 2013

[June] Expat Blogger Brunch invite

Hello, friends and Saturday to you!

Kaitlin and I are delighted to receive such positive feedback on our Expat Blogger Brunch group.

We tried not to be too optimistic when organizing the group (we figured if no one wanted to join, at least we'd have a fun brunch together!) but the concept has caught a lot of attention by expat bloggers both here in the Netherlands and abroad, which is great! Most importantly, we are just so pleased that y'all who've attended had fun!

Our June meet-up will take place in Leiden on Sunday, June 16. If you're interested in joining us then please RVSP via email (include your blog address) to blog [at] lilywanderlust [dot] com before before Wednesday, June 12 and we'll be happy to send you the details!

If you'd like to know more about our group, have a look at the April and May editions. We're looking forward to catching up with everyone during brunch and who knows, maybe we can even enjoy a sunny, summer day in Leiden! Quick, knock on wood!

The idea behind Expat Blogger Brunch is to...
-Generate a creative, social forum
 -Expand your experience abroad through a network of expat bloggers in the Netherlands
-Exchange ideas, suggestions and support about and within the expat community
 -Cultivate social media contacts into real life connections 
-Inspire one another through topic discussions and special events

Thursday, May 30, 2013

For the love of Instagram

This morning, while sipping coffee and flipping through a few of my favorite blogs, I spotted this article featuring a documentary about Instagram. As somewhat of an Instagram addict myself, I made sure to watch the flick online and found it interesting enough to share. Instagram is not only a creative inspiration but also my favorite way of sharing bits and pieces of life online (that are often featured on this blog of mine!)

Social media continues to amaze (and at times overwhelm) me daily but Instagram is definitely one of the most influential platforms that's clearly reflected throughout the experience of others. A common theme throughout the film is community and that's exactly where I fall within the realm of using social media. 

For me, Instagram is a simple, magical tool for capturing and sharing daily moments. 
Living abroad has changed the dynamics of my friendships so immensely and social media whether it's keeping up with old friends back home or connecting with new pals around the world.

"And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it." 
-Roald Dahl

I've always had a passion for film photography and although it would be fantastic to find darkroom access here in Amsterdam (any suggestions, friends??). Today's technology has formed another  medium for sharing meaningful moments, unexpected adventures and small lovely bits of the day. That's exactly why I love this app as much as I do! 

Here are a few of personal favorite snaps from my account (@lilywanderlust)
You can follow along here 

Do you find yourself posting constantly or does it freak you out to have so much shared online? My Dutchman is completely uninterested in social media (that's why you'll never see him on my blog) but I'm kind of in the middle. I love photography and keeping in touch with my friends but sometimes I'd like to share a moment but only specifically with others and in that case, I'll skip uploading it because the timeless online archive kind of weirds me out and sometimes I wonder what will happen our digital bazaar in the future (eak!) but that's a discussion for another day...

So, what are your thoughts? Are you an Instagram fan too or do you have another favorite?
Is there something specific which inspires you to share online? I'd love to know! 

Friday, May 24, 2013

An autumn boat ride in May

June is just around the corner but where is our spring??
Amsterdam's canals and streets are littered with fallen flower petals and leaves now have a tinge of brown and gold. A scene perfect for autumn, if only we weren't expecting summer in a few weeks. May hasn't been very kind with overcast skies and temperatures more appropriate for scarves and mittens than flowy skirts and dresses. In fact, I've only worn a skirt in Amsterdam once this year which is undeniably breaking the heart of this sun loving, Florida girl.

In an effort to summon a proper spring, my sweet Dutchman took Kaitlin and I out for a boat ride after our Expat Blogger Brunch wrapped up. It was Kaitlin's first trip and our enthusiasm for kicking off 'boating season' has been few and far between since the weather in Holland has been generally miserable over the last few weeks. Since we're getting sick of waiting for a perfect, sunny day to arrive, the fact that it wasn't raining seemed good enough reason to take the boat out for a few hours.

Of course, every good boat ride comes with its own wild story. There's a reason we prefer to take the boat along the quiet flow of the Amstel River instead of around the chaotic, tourist infested canal belt. You can read that side story about that after the jump. 

It's a shame to have scenic photos of Amsterdam and not share them because this city is still charming despite the lack of blue least that's what I keep telling myself! 

Still looking for those idyllic sunny views? Check out this post from last year's summer boating season. Plus, have a look at a (sunny!) week along the canals in France, last summer here, here, here and here.

Have a fun weekend! Are you up to anything exciting?

Thursday, May 23, 2013

[May] Expat Blogger Brunch in Amsterdam

This past Sunday, I hosted our second Expat Blogger Brunch here in Amsterdam.
Thanks to everyone who attended!

It was a lot of fun to meet a few new faces and catch up with bloggers who joined for our April brunch in Utrecht. This time around, I completely dropped the ball on taking pictures (oops) but only because we were having so much fun and the time completely flew by!

Our chatty group of expat ladies had many different experiences and personalities, so the afternoon was filled with buzzing conversation. After brunch, it wasn't raining (for a change) and we headed out for a walk through Amsterdam's charming Nine Streets and a round of biertjes along the Prinsengracht. Sunday Funday, indeed!

We are so happy to hear such positive feedback about our quickly growing group, definitely get in touch if you'd like to join for our next event in June. Kaitlin and I will share more details for the upcoming edition of our Expat Blogger Brunch and if you have any questions, feel free to shoot me an email blog [at] lilywanterlust [dot] com

In the mean time, be sure to take a look at these fun expat blogs!

Christa | ChristaCordova
Shoshannah | Awesome Amsterdam
Candi | Going Dutch

Monday, May 13, 2013

Biking through the Dutch countryside

Here in the Netherlands we had a bank holiday during the week, so my Dutchman and I made the most of the (much needed) day off with an afternoon of cycling through the country.

One thing we both love about Amsterdam is its close proximity to the country scenery. I love what city life has to offer but living in but the countryside holds a special place in my heart too. It's my dream to keep pet chickens again one day!

From Amsterdam's city center, we just have to follow the Amstel River out of the city center and a few kilometers later suddenly, we're transported to another world of farms, windmills and lots of cows.

It's no surprise that my Dutchman is a big fan of cycling (as so many Dutch are) and he takes the whole thing pretty seriously, busting out spandex shorts, fancy cycling shoes, a speedy racing bike, the whole nine yards! During a spring bike ride last year, I learned a hard lesson... that my yellow, perfectly accessorized bike is adorable, but it is not a bike for racing. At all.

So, this week, my sweet handyman added yet another bike to his collection and fixed up a nice vintage racing bike just for me! Needless to say, he's been waiting for the day I can race along the river and (try to) keep the pace.

I tried my best to race him but, my speed isn't up to par with his. He cheered me on to keep racing and even treated me to a mid-afternoon beer in the sun (which for the record did not in any way help my speed increase).

In total, our trip was 40km (25 miles) and boy, were my legs burning! In all honestly, I wouldn't have minded a few more stops to take pictures- so many cute windmill, tulip and sheep photos were missed as we zoomed by but I did manage to snap a few. Enjoy!


Now that spring has arrived we're all about getting outside, enjoying nature and getting some exercise! What outdoor activities do you enjoy?

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Celebrating my well adventured Mama

With footprints in 55 countries (and counting!) my Mom, Nancy, is definitely the one most responsible for my wanderlust. She has always encouraged me to live a passionate, creative life and constantly seek unexpected opportunities to grow and challenged myself. Thanks Mom!

In case you didn't already know, my mom is awesome. But seriously! She hauled me around the world since I was a baby, often along with my travel loving Granny, and those experiences undeniably shaped the person I am today. My mom taught me to always choose adventure and independence.
  No wonder I ended up living abroad!

With flights to nearly any destination at her fingertips, I've tagged along on numerous work trips with her, while she has also met up with me on during my own travels and even while studying abroad in China. These days, she frequently visits me here in Amsterdam, a special treat during this chapter of my expat life.  I'm a lucky kid!

A day in Strasbourg during our canal boat trip in France

Mom, your laughter is infectious, your courage is inspiring, and your positive attitude and curiosity for living life to the fullest impresses me. Your life is a life of constantly changing scenery and you always inspire me to make new discoveries and overcome challenging situations. I can't even imagine my life without the adventures, lessons and comedy of errors we've shared not traveling around the world together but in every day life. The unique opportunities you have shown me endless and I'm forever grateful! What I'm trying to say is, thanks Mom and Happy Mother's Day!

Traveling together in France, Turkey, China, South Africa, Greece and the Cayman Islands

As long as I've had this blog, I've wanted my Mom to write guest post about traveling. She frequents multiple continents on a weekly basis but always seems to be too busy sipping wine in South Africa, dancing the night away in Paris or catching up with jetlag to write for this blog of mine.

But, today is Mother's Day and so I interviewed my dear Mom her about amazing life of travel. After 30 years as a flight attendant she's what I'd consider an expert. It was a lot of fun reading her responses and I hope you'll enjoy it too!

Visiting Amsterdam together in the 90s and celebrating Queen's Day together two decades later!

Happy Mother's Day, Mama!

Check out her interview after the break...

Friday, May 3, 2013

The Last Queen's Day (for now)

Koninginnedag or Queen's Day is now officially King's Day as Queen Beatrix resigned earlier this year making way for her son, now the new King Willem-Alexander to take the throne. On April 30, The Netherlands celebrated the (last) Queen's Day and welcomed a new King, the first in more than a century! It was a fun, exhausting day of celebration and also my first time to see the royal family in person. Well, technically we were behind a thousand other people, but whatever...

If you aren't already familiar, Queen's Day celebrations are known for being over the top with street parties (think live music, dancing and lots of booze), orangjegekte, (participants who dress up in orange, the official color for the Dutch royal family), and vrijmarkts (rummage sales where everyone hawks there unwanted goods on the street for low prices).

Looking for more? You can read more about the holiday in this article by yours truly or check out my previous Queen's Day celebrations here and here.

Everyone (myself included) predicted that Amsterdam would be a complete madhouse while the annual celebration of Queen's Day took place on the same day as a change in royals. But, this was not the case. In fact, my Dutchman (who loves all things vintage and thrifty) was a bit disappointed in shortage of virjmarkt participants. The streets were eerily quiet for what's expected to be a chaotic, crazy celebration! 

This year, I got up early to wander the sidewalk sales for good bargains with my Dutchman...
 Then, we headed into Dam Square to catch a glimpse of Willem-Alexander's inauguration, quite a sight to see but again, not nearly as packed as we'd expected.

Of course, what's a day in Amsterdam without a bit of wandering along the canals? We roamed around the Jordaan with friends and finally met up with a fun group for some biertjes along a quieter waterway. The festivities continued with finding my Mama amongst the orange masses at Nieuwemarkt and naturally, that included a few more drinks, laughs and dancing in the street.

I love celebrating Queen's Day, not just for the party but also because it's a great chance to learn more about the culture and history of my home abroad. Plus, drunk people are much more entertaining to speak Dutch with, ha!

Check out this fun Queen's Day video made by my friend Christian!

Have you ever celebrated Queen's Day or a national holiday in a country different from your own?
Feel free to share your stories in the comments below.