Life, Travel

Fall in Amsterdam

I did fall today, actually, off my bike. I was hopping onto my bike, and my leg somehow didn’t make it over the bike… My groceries and I were just fine. I’m really glad I waited to get eggs.*

Fall is by far my favorite season. Michigan does Fall very well, as proven in so many PureMichigan advertisements:

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I always felt, that if/when I left Michigan, Fall wouldn’t be the same without cider and donuts at the local cider mill. I googled “Cider Mills Amsterdam” and found ONE in the whole area.

But Amsterdam’s beauty in the Fall makes up for it’s lack of cider mills! Fall is hard to mess up, though.

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The Netherlands can’t decide if it’s ready for winter or not. It goes from winter-coat-cold back to should-I-bother-with-my-jacket warm. Yesterday, I wore a dress and was completely comfortable. That’s something I wasn’t expecting about The Netherlands! An extended season of warm! I like it!

Yesterday I met up with two friends of mine, Tomas and Nazam, for Indonesian food in a nearby city called Haarlem. Haarlem’s downtown is a bit quieter than Amsterdam, and still retains most of the wonderfully Dutch old-architecture, so it’s a popular place for families to move to. Tomas and Nazam know the family from the Indonesian restaurant, which was very cool.

I can’t believe I haven’t discovered Indonesian food before now! It’s delicious! It’s different from Thai, but it does share it’s love of peanut-based sauces, which I love. I feel like there was a missing element of my diet all my life, and Indonesian Satay is it.

I’m headed to Munich for the Christmas markets, so I’m hoping Munich is better at Winter than Michigan! I give Michigan an A+ for the first week of Winter, then hovering back and forth between a B- and a D for the rest of it.

Cheers!
Beth

* Tip for dropping your carton of eggs – if they don’t crack and spread all over the place, but only have little cracks in the shell, boil them up real fast and have a week’s worth of hard boiled eggs!

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Emotion, Food, Life, Travel

I see England, I see France

I’ve been traveling so much these days! It’s great, it really is, but it’s also nice to have weekend at ‘home’ (home being Amsterdam.) Over the past month I’ve spent weekends in London, Disley, Oxford, Düsseldorf/Bonn and Maastricht, in England, Germany and the Netherlands, respectively.

And I fully understand the benefits of a backpackers backpack now. However, I have a laptop with me, so I have this little rolling suitcase/laptop case. It is really great, but not fun when in a rush or when walking on cobblestone! (Note: when walking on cobblestone, I usually pick it up, hence the annoyance.)

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The brand, London Fog, is so fitting for me, since I’m a proclaimed Anglophile (who isn’t though?). It has “Big Ben” on every zipper ;). When I was buying it, it was next to a Parisian brand that had Eiffel Towers all over it. These brands know who their target markets well, that’s for sure.

So anyway, each weekend I bring like, 1.5-2 outfits, because that’s all I can fit with all the other stuff I’m bringing – journals, laptop, sometimes work stuff. I just have to get creative with my clothes, trying to make them look like I wasn’t wearing it the day before, or sleeping in it.

When I went to London a few weeks ago, I had breakfast with a blogger friend of mine, Sara, from realfunfood.com. I’ve always loved reading her blogs, because I feel like they’re perfectly catered towards me – a young female living in London and likes cooking and fitness and other geeky things. So it was very cool to meet up with her! It was tough picking a restaurant out of all the wonderful options, but we picked one called the Electric Diner in Notting Hill. The restaurant looked super cool and the location was great. I love Notting Hill and I don’t think I could ever get bored wondering through Portobello Market, which we did after breakfast!

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Photo courtesy of Sara at realfunfood.com. 😉

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Then I had to rush to the show Les Miserables, which was unsurprisingly fantastic. The only unfortunate thing is that I’ve been exposed to the story so many times now, I think the emotional effect it should have on me is waning…. it’s unfortunate, so (once I finish the book!) I’ll take a break from it for a while. It’s the same concern I had about Harry Potter, haha.

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Who wants one?:

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Is it just me or did they crop the photo on that bag really poorly?

And then I walked to South Bank to meet my friends for dinner and I unexpectedly and delightfully came across Trafalgar’s Square, which was as beautiful as it’s ever been, give or take a couple more blue rooster statues.

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Kim, Warwick Davis was inside this building, below. I’m pretty sure that was his last day of the show, too. (I should specify, the building with the “Spamelot” sign, not the old green taxi station.)

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Looking at the photo below, it’s taking my breath away even now, if that tells you how beautiful the view was in person.

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Right around where I was meeting my friends for dinner, I passed by this outdoor food market, that served hot meals from all ethnicities. It smelled amazing. You have no idea. I told myself that next time I was in London I was definitely getting food from there! However, I was in London the very next weekend, but didn’t make it out there. But NEXT time I’m in London, I really will. For sure.

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And here’s my friend Seb’s photo of the restaurant we went to. By the time I got there it was dark… because I went to the wrong Wahaca! There are two in South Bank! I definitely recommend going to Wahaca, but make sure you know which one you’re going to. I felt so stupid, because I’d given them the address of the right Wahaca myself, and then I went to the wrong one. That’s what happens when you rely too much on the internet and then you unexpectedly don’t have it anymore…

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And for those fans of Pride & Prejudice, I definitely recommend going to Disley, a little town near Manchester. It’s got the Pemberley Estate from the BBC mini series of Pride & Prejudice! I was sooo excited to go, pretending I was Elizabeth Bennet instead of Elizabeth Berens, taking a turn around the gardens at Pemberley.

And I can’t let this irony slip past you: I, Elizabeth, walked out of the courtyard at Pemberley to be unexpectedly greeted by Mr. Darcy himself, soaking white shirt and all.

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The very next weekend, I returned to England to visit my friend in Oxford! She’s just started there 3 weeks before my visit, so it was all new and exciting and surreal. Though, to be honest, I don’t think the omg-is-this-really-my-life-I-go-to-bloody-Oxford feeling will ever fully go away.

I’m seriously seeing Swatches everywhere now. Every airport has them, every flea market! I got one for Sara from an Amsterdam flea market and I remember thinking, “Omg, it’s so lucky this flea market has them!”

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There’s a cool covered market in Oxford. It’s got higher end goods, like boots and vintage clothing, along with product, meats, cafes and lots of cool trinkets. I was in the market for boots, so I went into many of the boot shops, but none of the sales people paid much attention to me. I felt a bit like Julie Roberts in Pretty Woman when she tries to buy nice clothes while wearing her hooker clothing. Haha, no, I was normally dressed, but still not looking the part, I guess. I scoffed a bit at them, but then I looked at the price, cringed, and walked out. So it goes.

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And now ladies and gentlemen, Oxford:

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Did anyone recognize some Harry Potter locations? Yepp, that’s right – the staircase to the great hall, the room they had Yule Ball dance lessons and the courtyard where Draco turns into a ferret – all at Oxford. There was also the Restricted section of the library, but you had to pay for a tour and we didn’t have that much time.

Then we were a bit peckish so we got scones and tea! Of course they were good, but they still don’t match the scones I had at the YHA St. Pancras Hostel!

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After tea time, we decided it was time for another kind of drink, so we headed to the Eagle and Child, a bar famously frequented by J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis.

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They even had board games!

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And though the menu at Eagle and Child had delicious-looking British grub, we weren’t too hungry, so we decided we’d have a night in with pizza, beer and the IT Crowd. I’ve been living on my own for a while, and despite being in Oxford, England, I was really wanting a girl’s night in with my friend. And anyway, the night before, we’d gone to Formal and out to several bars (including one in an old church with very high gothic ceilings!)

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I had to leave the next day because I was also spending a day in London! I met up with a fellow MSU graduate for drinks and also with Sara again! Her boyfriend, also American, met up with us too. First we went to this very cool art deco 1920’s speakeasy-style bar. I definitely want to go back there someday too. Then we went into Chinatown for dinner and little fish-shaped desserts! I had such a great time!

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And then I found out Dan Radcliffe had a stage show in London. :O Gaaah, maybe next time I’m in London.

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Oh, and if you’re wondering about the “I see France” part of my blog title, I’m headed to Paris for a trade show in a couple weeks, for work! I’m meeting up with my friend and colleague from work there too! I can’t wait!

Cheers!

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Food, Life, Travel

Amsterdam + Bruges + Food + Friends = totaal koel weekend

For my job, we travel occasionally. I work in marketing but I work with lots of sales representatives, who mainly do the traveling. But for the big industry tradeshows, it’s important having the marketing team join them, to meet business partners, to be more connected to the industry, etc.

Which is amazing for myself. I never dreamed of having a job that brought me to The Netherlands! At least this early in my career! I never thought I’d even go to The Netherlands!

This was my second year going on this work trip. It’s great, because all our meals are expensed, and the restaurants we go to are vastly more expensive than what I’d pay for traveling on my own!

This is a journey of the food I ate: “Smakeleijk eet”, as they say in Dutch!

On the first night, a co-worker and I went out to eat, and when asked what I wanted to eat, I said “Something different and unique.” Somehow, I found myself eating pizza, though at an admittedly fancy Italian restaurant. But even the proscuitto on it didn’t liven up this relatively boring meal. AND I couldn’t take the left overs with me, which I love doing.

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I love traditional Dutch breakfast. I love it more than North American breakfast. Even than English breakfast! I love meats and good cheeses and eggs with tomatoes and cucumbers, and of course the sweet jam or Appelstroop (apple syrup, a staple in Holland!). The hotel I stayed at this year even had smoked salmon in the breakfast buffet!

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They also had this wrapped sausage thing, which I found tasty, but didn’t know what it was. I just found out that it’s raw beef sausage. Yum? But actually, it was seriously really great. I wonder if I can find it in the States?

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The presentation of coffee and tea is way more impressive than in the States. At really nice places in the States, the presentation for these drinks can be nice, but in many places in Europe, any standard restaurant makes ordering coffee or tea a nice little experience, with a little Biscoff cookie or other treat! I miss that when return to the States!

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Dutch Stroopwafels (syrup waffles): the simple placement of syrup inside thin slices of waffle – a food originally made for the poor – is quite likely the best gosh darn treat I’ve ever and will ever taste in my life. It’s fantastically delicious! (Fresh or packaged!) I ate so many of these while I was there!

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Cadbury, and other chocolate companies sell what’s called “drinking chocolate” which I’m sure is beyond amazing. But that’s still just measly powdered chocolate. This, below, was a chunk of chocolate that you stir into a cup of hot milk. And you get extra chocolate treats on the side. It’s not, but it’s almost too much.

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Below is a delicious “Dutch Coffee” which involves coffee, a Dutch liqueur and I think someone said something about egg?? I forget, but it was WONDERFUL. I tried looking it up, but Googling “Dutch coffee” brings up mainly “Dutch coffee shop” results.

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Below is a delicious mint pea soup that I got at the restaurant connected to my hostel, St. Christopher’s in Bruges. (Stay there if you go to Bruges! It was great!)

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When I bought this salami panini, I was regretting getting something so simple on my first night in Bruges, but it was quite literally melt-in-your-mouth delicious. I was also sure that I’d only eat half of it, but to my astonishment, I ate that gosh darn entire sandwich.

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And after the sandwich, I still had room for this Belgian Waffle! I’m not huge on too much sweet, so I told him to put less chocolate on it than normal. He acted as if it was blasphemous, but obliged. “But it’s Belgian Chocolate!” I had pistachio ice cream, because I’d deluded myself into thinking it would be less sweet than other flavors, like chocolate.
It was quite good, but, as you might have guessed, very sweet for me. I only ate half and then, sadly, chucked it.

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