We Had a Supperb Weekend

Peep the video, then read the post…or do it the other way around. Whatever.

We’re covering more and more of the city each day.

It’s been a few days since we’ve done these things so I promise to be better about keeping up with this blog. These pictures below will do a lot of the talking for me, so feel free to skip the sap, scroll through them, and then head onto the next post.

The Rijksmuseum

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Look at this thing! This giant wonderland was founded in 1800 and is rich with art and history – because the two go hand in hand (duh). I was in awe with the size of the museum and its collection, and here I’ll share with you some pieces that caught my eye.

A Few of My Favorijks Things

The main attraction:
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The Night Watch, Rembrandt, 1642

Three fun facts about The Night Watch:

  • The artist – Rembrandt – is a famous Dutch artist and this is his most popular painting.
  • The figures in Rembrandt Square were created in memory of his 400th birthday.
  • It’s the centerpiece of the Rijksmuseum.
The biggest painting in the museum:
Ironically, I don’t know how to get this video to shrink.
Jan Willem Pieneman, The Battle of Waterloo, 1824
A pretty outdoorsy landscape:
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Italian Landscape with Umbrella Pines, Henrik Voogd, 1807
Ugh…I found Herbert (our mouse, who we saw yesterday):
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Mouse with a Candle Stump and a Nut, Joris Hoefnagel, 1594
And here’s the most beautiful thing I saw in the entire museum…my reflection: 😉
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Selfie in a Mirror, Shannon McCormick, 2017

I’m extremely glad we checked this place out first. Through the magnificent storytelling of visuals and guides, I’m beginning to further understand this place we chose to venture off to and the history that made it what it is today.

After seeing the attempts to capture Holland’s beautiful violet skies, it was cool to get a glimpse of the magic that night:
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Every canal is picture-worthy.

Right behind the Rijksmuseum is the ever-so-famous I amsterdam sign. Would we have really gone to Amsterdam if we didn’t take this tourist pic?

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The Irish girl who took this could’ve zoomed in a bit.

Dinner in Style

To round out our productive day, Shan and experienced a lovely, chic wine-and-dine thanks to one of our dearest friends, Frank (@frankroche, not the kitty Frank 🐱) – it’s called Supperclub, where we ate and partied (and looked good) in bed.

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When we first got there, the hostess covered our phone cameras with stickers and warned us not to use our phones at all. There were even characters crawling around with flashlights making sure we were following the rule. Funny enough, we met some really cool people on both sides of our setup and enjoyed the company around us. Europeans are so interesting, hah. We lived large with the cuisine and cocktails, and we enjoyed entertainment that was meticulously bursting with unsaid messages. Our dinner turned into dancing and the night disappeared before we knew it. Thank you Frank!

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Needless to say we spent the next day recovering – until Monday when we went back to the Museum Quarter for more.

Stay tuned to see which museums we hit up next!

✌🏼


Any suggestions on what Shan and I should do next? We’re interested in your recommendations! While you’re at it, feel free to share some of your own experiences by leaving a comment. 🙂  Subscribe to get notified the next time a post is published!

Ok, Sooooo…

It’s been a few days since I’ve posted and there’s been a weird reason why.

I know it’s only week #1, but I’ve been homesick! Kind of. Well, I’m physically sick with a sore throat, and I’ve been confused as hell over what I came here to do.

Not sure how many of you guys are into astrological signs…

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I’m a Taurus (if you disregard that new weird sign that’s popped up over the past year). According to astrology-zodiac-signs.com (which I’ve never used, but the definition is consistent with all other resources I’ve used), here’s how to describe my sign:

“They love everything that is good and beautiful, and they are often surrounded by material pleasures. People born under the Taurus sign are very sensual and tactile. Touch is extremely important for them, both in business and in romance. Stable and conservative, Taurus is among the most reliable signs of the zodiac.”

Check out those keywords I’ve so graciously bolded for you. Those are the characteristics I identify with that are making me feel extremely out of my comfort zone. I crave security, my support system, and a strong sense of purpose. Neither of those things are with me today in Amsterdam, but I’m learning to accept that I don’t need them.

I’ve had to ask myself a few questions:

  • By coming here, what did I expect to do?
  • How will this impact my life?
  • What do I desire to change?
  • How can I improve myself?
  • Who do I want to become?
  • What do I want to go back with?

I didn’t come here to party. I didn’t come here to feel homesick. I came here to give myself a fair shot at becoming a better person by having the space to do it, and that’s what I intend to do.

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Yeah, I’m still sort of freaking out about my future a bit because I know how difficult it can be to get a job. I’ve fumbled through ideas of grad school and going back to where I was working before I came here, but those thoughts are premature and impeding my ability to be present in the moment – right here, right now.

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So, that that mushy stuff being said, let me update you on what we’ve been up to 😁

Stay tuned,

✌🏼

Now That It’s Been a Few Days…

Peep the video, then read the post…or do it the other way around. Whatever.

…I can write a post about how it’s been adjusting to being in the city. I’m not gonna lie, I’ve already had a few waves of homesickness.

We’ve had our fair share of the nightlife thus far. When you’re six hours off from what you’re used to, you wake up late in the morning – or early afternoon in our case. I think we deserved ourselves a bit of fun to kick our adventure off right.

Night #2 started at the bar across the street.

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Inside was a drunk man named Kevin who insisted he was gay but proceeded to hit on us and try to kiss our cheeks. He may or may not have stuck his tongue out at us, and it wasn’t in a childish way. Don’t worry, it wasn’t just us. He did it to everyone in the bar…including the owner who was drunk off his ass on a Wednesday night. The other folks inside the bar included the bartender, another bar employee, and a man gambling his money away at a machine that was not being very nice to him.

Though I don’t remember their names, I remember everything about them.

First, I spoke with the other bar employee who has a brown ponytail and beard. I could barely hear him over the Dutch music reverberating off of the shiny foil-looking walls, but he told me he was from Romania and had lived in Amsterdam for 11 years. Apparently he came for a week’s visit with his friends and never went back. I’ve always wanted to meet someone who said “fuck it” that way, especially since this transition hasn’t been an easy one for me. I admire the way of the nomad – free to go wherever they’re drawn to rather than being stunted by the attachment to one place. It’s currently something I’m trying to master.

He pointed me toward the corner where another employee was curled up asleep in bed. This guy’s job was to be ridiculously cute.

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Okay, so the cat lady in me got out before I could stop her. This little nugget had piercing blue eyes and a thing for walking on the bar, and he almost fell asleep in my arms! My Romanian friend pictured above on the left told me he likes to call him “Friend”…which I misheard, so I called him Frank (shoutout to you, Frank!)

While I was drooling over kitty Frank, Shannon was making friends with the bartender. She only bartends two nights a week, and for the rest of the time she’s an office manager and is running her own business of being a stylist. She told us that Shannon’s color is coral, and that I’m a bottle-green or cherry. “It’s all about the subtle accents,” she said. Nails, lips, jewelry…all of these things go with a white blouse and black pants or jeans. I asked her where she was when I packed all of the other unnecessary shit in my suitcase.

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Because we were wide awake at midnight, we ventured into the Square again.

We walked around a few blocks to get to know the area and look for an ATM. Neither things happened, but we did find a cool McDonald’s where you pay on an LCD menu screen you’re ordering on. We also ran into two guys from Texas who said “y’all” many times. They had come to Amsterdam to indulge in the greenery.

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We found a bar that was open late named Woody’s, which we quickly discovered was a gay bar. The bartender poured us fireball shots that tasted like jaeger while putting his entire mouth around his glass of beer and knocking it back. People were dressed up in togas and singing Whitney Houston. All of it reminded me of college.

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I’m totally watching this show right now (The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt).

Our last and final stop was a tourist bar, Prime. Not gonna lie, I loved the familiar music that I could understand and dance to, but the best part about it was the free drinks we got from our new friends from the U.K.

All in all, we stayed up too late and missed half of another day because of it. Yesterday we wandered around aimlessly and visited the Red Light District before 10 pm, which we may go back to tonight to see it in its true late-night form. More to come on that one and the Rijksmuseum we visited today 😁

✌🏼

The Grind Started When We Hit The Ground

Peep the video, then read the post…or do it the other way around. Whatever.

Day 2 started at 2 pm because that’s when we woke up.

We messed up a bit and didn’t set our alarms to adjust to the time change. But like, we were 30 hours deep without sleep so I think we allowed ourselves some catching up.

It’s already getting dark and we haven’t left the apartment. My eager self wants to go back into the sparkling city streets and check out all of the wonderful reasons we chose this city, but my adult self is creating and organizing our social media pages and content while looking for a place to live in February. Here’s what we’ve been told about getting an apartment:

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🙃

The city is so tiny and crowded that even Netherland natives have a hard time finding a place to live, let alone an outsider looking for a 2-month gig. It can take months to find what you’re looking for and have someone give you a chance.

Let’s go back to that concept of “figuring it out” for a minute.

“Figuring it out” is code word for “someone helping us” from now on. Here are our current leads on apartments and other important things we need in order to get settled, thanks to the people looking out for us:

Apartments

We’re included in a group on Facebook that is for buying/selling apartments and rooms for rent, which is a popular way to nail something down. This is a place where you’ve got to know people in order to make it. Friendliness has gone a long way so far.

Our leads:

We’ve messaged one seller so far about a private room near Westerpark and had a friend send along the contact info of a landlord her friend used not too long ago. We’ve got our eyes on other prospects, too!

Side note: The apartment we’re staying in now is conveniently placed by Rembrandt Square but it’s too expensive to continue on with. Also, I saw a fucking mouse scurry across the floor and I’m going to lose my mind and this owner’s future business if it doesn’t get resolved ASAP.

Places to eat

I will definitely be sharing these as we visit them, but here’s the first one we’ve gone to so far:

Cannibale Royale cannibale-royale

It apparently has the best ribs in the city, which is all I needed to know before we went. Google led us to this location, and a message from a friend solidified our it as our choice of a first meal.

We walked into the dimly lit restaurant/bar, sort of like what you’d see at Bar Taco on a Tuesday night. The place was decently packed, the music was bumping, and the menus were barely legible – which is the true mark of a happenin’ hipster joint. The walls were covered with modest cannibal-esque items: vintage weaponry, tribal masks, and other interesting themed decor. Did I mention this is right next to Dampkring, one of the most famous coffee shops in the city?

Our waitress was incredibly friendly and helpful – not to mention beautiful, which is something we’re beginning to notice. Everyone here is so hot! 🔥  We’re hoping assimilation works on physiques (or lack of), too. Which brings us to the next thing…

A reliable bike shop

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It welcomes repairs for up to two months after purchase, and we’re going there tomorrow. 🚲  We’re coming for you, Bike is Ready!

And more!

This is only Day 2 and I think we’re doing a LOT better than we were before. In between “figuring it out” and actually trying to settle, we’ve been enjoying the true beauty this city has to offer. We already feel like we’re home. It’s so easy to walk around here like you belong while exploring the squares and trying new things.

Here’s a pic of Shan in the middle of the memoriam at Rembrandtplein aka Rembrandt Square:

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When we have some stories of our daytime adventures, we’ll be sure to post ’em here. Stay tuned for more!

✌🏼

$100,000 Goes to Whoever Wants to Take Half of My Luggage Off My Hands

I’m sitting on our grey L-shaped couch of the AirBnB slobbering up one of the 100 Grand candy bars that managed to make it all the way to Amsterdam with us…the rest of the snacks didn’t have a chance. THANK GOD this chocolate is with me right now because if I didn’t have these…so help me God.

I need a minute to indulge as I recuperate from the past eyebrow-twitch-worthy 24 hours we endured from the moment we left the United States. I have not slept, I’ve eaten garbage that’s tasted like garbage, and I need a shower and a nap.

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It all started when we checked our bags in at Newark, NJ around 2:30 pm. I was the lucky gal to discover the hidden fees of this stupid little airline called WOW (I’m sure it’s because of all the fun surprise charges!) and paid $120 for how freakin’ heavy my bag was. I’ll admit I overpacked…but should I pay $20/kg for this horrible mistake I’m still dealing with? I don’t think so…because wait until you hear what else these kilograms made me deal with.

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The first flight was cool – we boarded at 6 pm and sat next to a cop from Brooklyn and another cop and a pilot. We had great conversations, exchanged weird stories you’d only tell someone you’d never see again, and landed in Iceland in time to transfer to our flight to Amsterdam. I watched a Bob Marley documentary and I didn’t sleep a wink.

The flight to Amsterdam consisted of a crying baby and someone listening to Beyoncé too loudly. I didn’t sleep on that flight either, and we flew into the sunrise of 5-degree weather of the Netherlands sleepy and unprepared for what was next.

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When we landed, we talked with the woman next to us who was in the middle of an extravagant holiday. The guy across the aisle made conversation with her, and so we met Aidan.

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I’m pretty sure Aidan is synonym for Angel because this guy was sent from above. He’s from Washington, D.C., and he got us from the airport to the Central Station to the metro to Rembrandtplein, which is right near our temporary home. I know I summarized all of those things into one sentence, but that would’ve taken us ALL fucking DAY if it weren’t for this guy. Aidan, if you ever read this…good karma is going to bring you some reallllly good shit.

“You guys don’t travel often, do you?” – Aidan

He chose to spend his day helping the two clueless tourists who brought one 50 lb luggage too many – each – and patiently waited for our huffing-puffing selves to make it across the platforms and the escalators and everywhere else we traveled this morning. AND he offered to help us find bartending jobs at one of his regular spots! We friended him on Facebook and plan to meet up with him later on tonight when we look and feel like normal human beings.

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Is this real life?

When we found our apartment, a nice young man helped us carry our 50 lb bags up two steep-ass flights of stairs. Generous me only had like €2 in my pocket after spending the €20 from Steph’s cute card on transportation, so I gave the poor guy a $10 bill that is absolutely useless to him. If you thought Shan and I would be smart enough to have gone to the ATM or converted some currency before this point, guess again!!!

I think the way today unfolded is one of those circumstances people allude to when they say “you’ll figure it out” without actually knowing how. Shannon and I didn’t know how we were going to figure it out, and we were fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time with a generous stranger and an easygoing kid. I wonder how many times that’s going to work until our luck runs out, but add that to the list of things we’ll “figure out“.

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To the friends and family reading this rant – I hope the worst of it is over. Typing this now already makes it into a funny story, so at least something good came out of it.

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Next Steps?

Our objectives are to:

  1. Find a place for February.
  2. Get a job. (Maybe that will be solved tonight when we meet back up with Angel? I mean Aidan 😉)
  3. Ship some of these kilos home or straight up get rid of them – because I am NOT going through the same sweaty struggle it took to get where I am right now. My arms are currently jello.

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Until then, ✌🏼

We Said Goodbye :(

The picture we took a half-second later is when my mom started crying.

I’m writing from the backseat of Shannon’s dad’s car listening to Shannon talk about how she knows Barcelona like the back of her hand. We’re en route to the airport: Newark, NJ, USA ➡️ Amsterdam, North Holland, NL


My mind is somewhere else, though. It’s back home in Cheshire wrapped in my mom’s arms in the kitchen full of my luggage.

I can’t believe we’re on our way. The day finally arrived to get on the plane (which is already delayed by a half hour, by the way). I’m trying not to freak out by keeping my mind busy, and that’s half the reason why I’m writing this post. My tummys tumbling all over the highway.

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My adorable Mama and I.

To all of our readers who have followed up until this point, and the ones who are just dropping in…get ready for a major shift. This day marks the start of a transformation – one I will try my best to share with you. These posts are for you. This is where I need your help.

What do you want to know? What parts of this experience am I neglecting to record? What are you excited to hear about once this thing is in full swing? I’d appreciate your input to make this blog one worth following in the future 😁

For now, I’ll try to keep my iced coffee down in Mr. O’Connor’s Acura.

Being American AF.

✌🏼

Overwhelmed Doesn’t Even Begin to Describe It

In less than 48 hours I’ll be on the plane.

My room is still a disaster, but I’ve had no choice but to begin organizing it. My mom is helping and Brittany’s been hanging around making weird noises, so I guess it’s not so bad.

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Britt in her natural Snapchabitat.

I can’t stop thinking about last night.

I have never felt the strange combination and force of feelings like I did while I was with the people that mean the most to me (who were in Connecticut). Oblivious me thought I was going on a dinner date with my best friend Julie, and to my surprise I walked into a room with my some of favorite people on this earth…and they were there for me.


Sneaky, sneaky Julie plotted the entire evening consisting of dinner at the Vic House, a popular Cheshire spot, and cake back at my place…meaning my parents and sisters were in on it the whole time! I don’t know why, but I thought they’d be worse at keeping surprises a secret.

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Me and Julie ❤

Every single moment of it was perfect, and I even have a souvenir to show for it. Courtney, my soul sister since birth, made a journal with some old pictures of us and had everyone sign it. I haven’t read it yet because I already cried enough yesterday for the entire weekend.


These are my people right here in this picture. They are the ones who squeezed me goodbye with their support osmosising into my tear ducts. These are the ones I’m going to miss so incredibly much.

Thankful doesn’t even begin to describe how I feel towards them. I don’t know what I did to deserve such a loving bunch of weirdos, but I’ll try to keep it up in my journeys ahead.

I love you all with all my heart. Thank you for making this difficult. 😉

✌🏼

“Hold On” – Alabama Shakes

I’m sitting in my cluttered room listening to the likable blues rock band called Alabama Shakes. The featured song is one that my sister Brittany and I enjoy belting in the car, which we just did on our way back from the pet store in Wallingford. We cherished a beautiful half hour with a Weimaraner named Jade.

Jade was a wittle sweepy 😴

So yeah, I put off cleaning up the tornado of a bedroom I’m living out of for another week…and the car that has my summer clothes thrown all over the backseat because they were in a garbage bag that ripped back in October – that’s how lazy I am. I moved out of my house into my parents’, and I’m being resistant.

Song change:

As terrible as it sounds, I don’t want to tie up my loose ends here. I don’t want to say goodbye to people over dinner or a drink or a tight-squeeze of a hug. I’ve learned that I’m really bad at goodbyes, so I’d rather just not do them in the first place. Nobody should take that personally, I just don’t like being sad.

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I still don’t know what perfectly prepared looks like on paper, all I know is that I’m not it. Is anyone ever ready to take on a new adventure? All I feel is the knot in my stomach that’s reacting to the doubt whispering in my ear that’s telling me this could be a huge mistake.

In a sense, I went and fucked up my whole life…not necessarily in a bad way, but I pointed out the biggest pieces of foundation and I ripped them out of the ground. There’s rubble everywhere, and I’m being forced to clean up the literal mess that I’ve created for myself.

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What if somedays I don’t feel like dealing with this massive thing I’ve plopped on my to-do list for an indefinite amount of time? I’ve signed myself up for a struggle I can only tackle when I feel like I have the ability to, which will force me to find strength in unfamiliar places. I can no longer hide from my responsibilities. I can no longer choose to feel small when I have an endless amount of tasks to complete. There’s no more room for feeling sorry for myself.

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I’m someone who draws power from the people I love that love me back. I want to focus on ways to keep connected with those who are fueling me even before I leave, like a Flat Stanley-type idea, for example, where myself and my support network will stay close in our hearts no matter the physical distance between us…and then we can Instagram it, of course.


While wrapping up that last paragraph, somebody rang our doorbell. My dad answered and I heard a familiar voice saying my name…it was my friend Steph‘s dad and he had an envelope in his hands. He handed it to me as he said “Steph is in Hawaii so she isn’t able to say goodbye to you and she wanted me to give you this.” Inside were exactly the words I needed to hear from such a dear friend.

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Steph, if you’re reading this, I want you to know how lucky I am to have you in my life. You and I have been friends since God-knows-when and I know we will continue to be rooting each other on for the rest of our lives. Thank you for considering me even while you’re exploring freakin’ Hawaii…I hope you can come visit and show me around the places you went to while you were in A’dam. I love you ❤️ & hope you have an awesome trip!

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Man, I am feeling thankful.

✌🏼

Recharged and Running Out of Time

Christmas Eve:

I spent a few minutes talking with my cousin, Justin, who had been to Amsterdam a few years back to visit his lifelong friend who has lived there for years. He suggested that the two of us get in touch once I arrive. This way I could hear her story, bounce any questions off of her that I might have, and anything else that can happen when you meet someone new whose willing to lend some advice.

A few more minutes of Justin and I chatting revealed that his friend works at a radio station. My jaw dropped when I heard this – broadcasting is what I am pursuing! She has successfully transitioned into the life that I desire for myself, and I have a mutual connection with this person! Leads like this are gifts from the universe…there’s no other way I could describe the chances of this being real. I want the universe to know that I am extremely grateful and I will not waste this opportunity. I will cherish it completely.

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Me reppin’ my 16 Thoughts Down Cigna podcast swag.

Christmas Day:

In between the food, laughs, and home videos of this past weekend, I snuck in some episodes of Anthony Bourdain in Amsterdam, Copenhagen, and Sicily. My appetite for adventure is fully recharged and I’m once again reminded of my motivations for leaving my beautiful, predictable life behind.

Watch Bourdain’s episode of The Layover in “Amsterdam”

A few things I really liked about this episode, aside from Anthony’s questionably sarcastic remarks about indulging in weed, include the following:

The authenticity of an easy day in Amsterdam

It starts with some social sips of coffee, which bleeds into hopping around to other types of coffee shops 😉, then walking or sitting around the streets and canals, and ends with the bar scene where everyone’s got a beer in hand. Now I can see why this city is expensive…but damn do these people know how to live life to the fullest.

The food, obviously

The closer I get, the more intrigued I am over what I’m going to be eating in less than two weeks. Since beginning to poke around on the Internet, and shown in this show, I’m very eager to try:

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  • Stroopwafels
  • Raw herring, weirdly enough
  • Indonesian cuisine (never had it)
  • Dutch coffee

Here are some other popular foods in Amsterdam.

How easily I can picture myself there

Riding a bike, diving into a sensory deprivation tank (which I totally want to try), strolling the streets, admiring the architecture, and meeting all walks of life in a place I’ll soon be comfortable maneuvering…I can see myself doing all of this. It excited me to see the shops I’ll be visiting, the park I’ll find myself lying in…I can’t explain how I feel right now without getting lost in daydreaming.

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I’ll share with you my theme song for the moment. I always feel something new every time I listen to it, for every time it means something more.

I can’t wait to craft my own content about exploring Amsterdam the right way.

✌🏼

An Emotional End to the Holiday Season

Christmas is over, meaning I said my goodbyes to my cousins, aunts, and uncles, and I used the phrase “see you in six months.”

I had such a great weekend with the company that matters most to me: my family.

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It looks like I have a little hat on.

The long weekend was rounded off by our traditional family trip to J. Timothy’s.

If you’ve never heard me go on about J. Tim’s, you’ve missed about 20% of the things that come out of my mouth. They have THE BEST CHICKEN WINGS that I have EVER had – which is totally worth blabbing about. They’re all over my Instagram…I’m not ashamed of my love for chicken that has been sauced and fried twice.

Look, here’s how much of a fan I am:

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So aside from J. Tim’s being full of delicious goodness, I love it because it’s always brought my family together. Little by little our family grows bigger with our new additions tangling their roots into our family tree. One of my sisters is engaged, another lives with her boyfriend in Massachusetts, and the youngest is one of my best friends in this world. My parents are supportive and want us all to be healthy and happy. There’s no reason to frown when we’re all sitting down at the same table.

Notice the hair down in the “before” and the hair up in the “after” ?

As I drove home after hugging Becca goodbye for the last time until June, I cried. I leave in less than two weeks. This, right now, is the end to so many familiarities…so many things that come to easy for me.

Though I am sad, I can’t help but feel a bit of raging excitement for the world I’ve only seen through the TV screen that’s about to become my reality.

I feel pretty empowered rn. Love you, fam 💋

✌🏼