Cherry Blossoms in Vondelpark

As expected, spring in Holland is synonymous with expansive, colorful tulip fields but it’s actually the earlier blooming cherry blossoms that mark the arrival of spring here in Amsterdam. This batch of cherry blossoms first caught my eye during an afternoon walk through Vondelpark. It seems they arrived a bit earlier in the year than expected but that’s just fine with me!

Amsterdam Vondelpark Spring Cherry Blossoms 2019 © Lily Heaton-7.jpg

After a long, cold winter, spring attempted to arrive early this year—can you believe that we enjoyed a few bursts of warm, sunny days as early as February (!?) only to follow with long stretches of grey, bleak skies and chilly winds. Fortunately, this combination must have been exactly enough sunshine to wake up the sleeping cherry blossoms. Towards the end of March, an explosion of sakura popped up around the city and soon enough, a few of Amsterdam’s parks were taken over with fluffy pink blooms!

Amsterdam Vondelpark Spring Cherry Blossoms 2019 © Lily Heaton-11.jpg
Amsterdam Vondelpark Spring Cherry Blossoms 2019 © Lily Heaton-1.jpg
Amsterdam-Vondelpark-Spring-Cherry-Blossoms-2019 © Lily Heaton.jpg
Amsterdam Vondelpark Spring Cherry Blossoms 2019 © Lily Heaton-8.jpg
Amsterdam-Vondelpark-Spring-Cherry-Blossoms-2019 © Lily Heaton-22.jpg

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Autumn in Vondelpark

While shooting content for a new project, I made my way through Vondelpark towards Amsterdam’s affluent Oud Zuid neighborhood on an autumn afternoon.

Akin to Amsterdam’s Central Park, our beloved Vondelpark is typically associated with the lush, green days of summer. However, this time of year, I was lucky to catch some of the last remaining, bold colored autumn leaves in during the quiet moment just before a rain storm arrived, forcing us back indoors.

Autumn inspires it’s own unique revival, as nature - and life - slow down in preparation for a season of hibernation, reflection and growth for the coming year. I still can’t believe we’ve already reached December and winter will surely be settling in soon enough.


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Amsterdam's Frozen Canals

Every winter, locals anticipate an icy spectacle and this year it finally happened. Amsterdam's canals FROZE! For those of you who may have missed it, the city turned into a real-life snow globe for the first time since 2012. What a majestic sight! 

Desipite feeling under the weather, I bundled up and ventured out to the Prinsengracht on Friday afternoon. To my delight, the canal was indeed frozen as skaters of all levels and brave explorers began filling the natural ice. At first, my intention was only to observe and snap photos, I hadn't planned to actually hop down onto the ice (natural ice is, no, was a huge fear of mine!) but this year I'm all about taking risks and trying new things so... 

I watched and waited to find a good point of entry where I, reluctant at first, slowly and steadily, slid down onto the ice from the bank of the canal. Anxious, for both myself and my camera, it took a few nervous minutes to catch my bearings. Once the ice felt stable, my slow steps turned into more confident strides and soon enough I was loving it. Suddenly, I'd stepped into another world where walking on water was a reality, it was magical!


Wheeee! I can't believe I'm jumping for joy in the middle of a frozen canal!

A friendly stranger snapped the photo above and immersed in the moment, I did a gleeful, little hop in the air.  So, there you have it. Eight years and endless memories along with the Prinsengracht—from the countless boat ride to canal side picnics and our annual Gay Pride parade—but this was definitely one of the most remarkable moments in my Amsterdam history. This weekend, I feel even more in love with my adopted city. 

I was in the action for about half an hour before my fingers went numb and I headed off to my last meeting of the day... only to return again later in the evening.  By then, the frozen Prinsengracht had turned into a wild scene, complete with (frozen) boat parties, gluhwein and plenty of ice skaters. You're probably curious if people fell in. Well, of course, they did. However, that didn't dissuade the Dutch who love to skate, this was their moment to shine and on natural ice nonetheless!

I love living in a city where it's socially acceptable to take a spin on the frozen canals. In fact, the city helped make this happen by closing off the canals during our week long freeze to encourage ice formation. I was a bit shocked to find a few of the self-made gluhwein stands (pictured below) had not really thought through the idea of stretching an electrical extension cord over ice which is of course bound to melt at some point. 

Ready for more? I sure was! Thinking back at this weekend, I still can't believe that I stood in the middle of a frozen canal and had the courage to face the cold and go back for more. The following day, I returned to our belved canals with my friend Bert to catch the action. I'm glad we did because the ice began to melt later in the afternoon and by Sunday, our ice walking fantasy had melted into history. 

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Amsterdam's Sidewalk Gardens

As a sun-loving Florida gal, it’s no surprise that summertime in Amsterdam holds a special place in my heart. Let's be honest, Dutch summers aren't very reliable for warmth + sunshine (so.much.rain!).  However, this is our little chuck of time to do a sun dance, cross our fingers and hope for the best.  When everything falls into place, tree branches pop with all shades of green, magically transforming the grey and brown bricks of our city into pallets of color and texture when doused in sunlight.  

In every neighborhood, the sidewalks blossom with summer gardens. Here are a few that I caught my eye while wandering the Jordaan on a Saturday...


Windowsills and sidewalks overflow with hollyhocks, roses, lavender, giant sun flowers and Amsterdam's streets bloom with colorful sidewalk gardens, creating a palette of rainbow colors along the canals. 

Summer is the time to be outside and that's exactly where you'll find me! I've been soaking up the (rare) sunshine while people watching on a terrace with a zatte and kaasstengles, roaming the canals for curious scenes and savoring special little moments like reading in the park, sipping bubbles in the garden, watching the bees nibble on pollen. 

Everything and everyone has bloomed to their maximum capacity and that energy radiates throughout the whole city. It's a magical time of year! 

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Summer Stroll through Vondelpark

This summer, July was all about focusing on my personal creative work, like relaunching my blog (welcome back, by the way!) getting to know my new Canon 5d Mark IV and catching up with friends who were neglected while I was swamped with client projects. Andra (@Amsterdamming) and I were long overdue for some girl talk so we met up to chat over coffee and quiche on a rainy afternoon. Lucky for us, the clouds eventually parted to reveal a bit of blue and just enough sunshine to make us smile. Our cameras in hand, we set out for an afternoon stroll through Vondelpark which was surprisingly very quiet thanks to the previously dismal weather. 

Having already lived in so many different pockets of the city, I must say this area near Vondelpark is my favorite neighborhood yet. Nothing beats being a few steps away from the park. It is a living, breathing creature itself. Vondelpark is such a big space, there are spots to see and be seen and other hidden corners where you can easily forget that you’re in the middle of a metropolis like Amsterdam.


On this particular day, I found inspiration in the sunshine that filtered down through the trees, rich shades of green, textured leaves and the fat raindrops on the soft, peachy petals in the Rose Garden. When looking back over these photos, I can almost still feel the thick, humid air that encompassed us.

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