The Real Deal on Adventuring Amsterdam

A gorgeous mainland European city! Amsterdam was full of amazing fashion, beautiful carefree people and loads of bikes. In some cities I’d notice the not so nice areas, but I never saw any in Amsterdam. It was generally consistent in terms of Dutch architecture and scenery. I absolutely fell in love with the top parts of the buildings, so pretty!

What I Didn’t Know/Was Surprised At/If you’re visiting you should know:

  • IT IS EXPENSIVE.. Nights out drinks added up much faster than they do in Ireland. Three vodka and Diet Cokes were around 17 euro…yikes!
  • Do NOT take taxis. Download Uber. Way way way cheaper. My boyfriend and I thought it would be a good idea to get in the taxi queue when we got to the airport but we had to actually get out of the taxi 12 minutes later when the fare was already nearly 55 euro!!
    We only had 35 euro cash between us then and that’s all the man got. He then got very mad and rude.
  • BUT Uber can get funky because the road system is a little different. It’s tough for the drivers to stop wherever to pick someone up.
  • The food was actually pretty decent! All our meals were quite good. Especially The Avocado Show cafe where everything is served with avocado. So insanely yummy.
  • You are gonna need change for bathrooms. Many cost 50c and only take 50c coins.
  • There isn’t too many ATMs all around so take out what you think you’ll need to last you awhile.
  • SO MANY tourists.
  • An aesthetic observation…The fashion was very interesting. People watching was made all the more exciting by seeing some really fun fluffy coats and gorgeous shoes. Also, Dutch men and women are super groomed and rather tall.
  • Cannabis isn’t as legal as I thought. You can only buy it in cafes and you aren’t meant to take it with you when you leave. Hence, cafes where cannabis is buyable are very cloudy and smoky. You’ll smell it all around you in the streets of Amsterdam though!
  • You’ve probably heard biking is insane in Amsterdam. IT IS. And it is VERY easy to get hit by a bike so you’ve gotta check all around before crossing. You’ll hear lots of dinging from bells on bikes.
  • The Amsterdam sex workers in the Red Light District are quite visible and absolutely work the windows they are behind. There are a lot of them. They look pretty good. Also, it is very frowned upon to photograph these ladies.
    The lovely Philippa waiting for The Avocado Show.              
    Canal with swan

     

     

     

    Things I recommend doing/places to visit:

     

  • The Avocado Show as mentioned before….Try the nachos. The staff were also super lovely. If you looked just about anywhere in the cafe, someone was photographing their food. We waited outside for around 20 minutes. (The address is: Daniël Stalpertstraat 61, 1072 XB Amsterdam)
  • The Waterhole was a great spot for live music that you’ll probably know all the words to. We went to a few other bars but this one really stood out. (Address: Korte Leidsedwarsstraat 49, 1017 PW Amsterdam)
  • Red Light District Pub Crawl. You’ll meet lots of fun people on your crawl. Each hostel will have a pub crawl. Ours was around 17 euro a ticket and we were provided much more alcohol than our ticket paid for!
  • Van Gogh Museum. Worth the wait in the queue for 45 minutes if you love art. Also, I was super excited to see ‘Sunflowers.’ Even prettier in person as you’d figure!

    I AMsterdam   
  •   I AMsterdam sign. There were so many people trying to take pictures with the sign. Also, there is a fabulous Christmas market on right near there with plenty of creative stalls to check out. I was admiring a cute knitted hat made by a local but she only took cash and at this point I just had my card on me.

    Canal view
  • Boat canal ride. We cruised around the canals for about an hour. Guests were provided with headphones for a listening tour of an older couple who have lived in Amsterdam and are explaining what you’re seeing on either side of the water. Some very cute house boats out there!  

It was a fairly productive touristy weekend abroad with some very fun friends. I’d go back again! I couldn’t believe how much there was to do and see there. I would love to see the tulip fields outside the city. Most people I know that have visited Amsterdam have gone back not too long after going the first time. A weekend was just the right amount of time there though! My feet ached and were ready to head home to bed after walking about.

 

My next big trip will be back home to Boston for Christmas…I’m very excited to see all my friends and family and drink way too much hot cocoa and non-stop cuddle my doggo.

Hope this helps you if you decide to go to Amsterdam (:

x

7 Travel Hacks/Ideas

Now, I don’t always pack like this but when I have time I will pack in a more respectable, organized fashion. It’s all about utilizing the space at hand. These are some traveling hacks I’ve come across in my two years of living abroad that hopefully help!

  1. Roll your clothes – You’ve heard it before and that’s because it works. I’m guilty of sometimes tossing everything I need in a suitcase or duffel bag and zipping it up but rolling your clothes is always the way to go to save space. It’s also easier to see what’s in your case this way.
  2. Socks fit in your sneakers/runners. Just tuck them in, you can fit a few pairs if you stuff them to the top.
  3. Throw your shoes into a reusable plastic bag, like one you got at the grocery store, to save dirt from going all over your bag.
  4. Put hot water in an empty wine bottle for a homemade DIY hot water bottle. GIRLS. I credit my creative boyfriend for coming up with this idea in desperate times. Don’t boil the water all the way. Fill it up and wrap the bottle in a hand towel and lay it on your tummy to battle cramps.
  5. Electrics (chargers, plugs, transformers, etc.) in a see through bag. Keep the chords organized, it helps.
  6. Make an emergency kit – Mine is usually a mash up of a first aid kit and everything a gal may need in a pinch. A typical one should probably have band aids/plasters, Advil and/or paracetamol, Vitamin C stir in packets and throat lozenges. Don’t forget pony tail holders/bobbins and hair pins and whatever feminine hygiene products you use. This is an example of one I’m bringing to Amsterdam this weekend. There’s a mini Nivea moisturizer and Vaseline and lots of other little things I may possibly need. I also have extra eye contacts just in case.

7. THE MINIs– Typical products in a tiny bottle appropriate for travel. By typical I mean you probably already use these.

  • Dry shampoo for those days you skip washing your hair and it feels gross after the plane. It thankfully adds volume as well. I use Baptiste Beautiful Brunette, despite having red hair. It sprays on dark so you don’t have to blend it in. Baptiste’s other dry shampoos spray on a white/grey color. They make mini sizes for travel too! Super handy – pun intended (;
  • Mini roll on deodorant
  • Mini lotion like the Nivea one in my kit picture
  • Some form of chapstick for your lips

If you’re going to be away for a long period of time, purchase shampoo conditioner and all the rest at your destination. It makes it easier and you save space. Buy cheap then leave them behind you when you’re done, that way you have space on your return. I hope at least one of these ideas/hacks benefit you on wherever you may go next!

What are your travel hacks?

x

Quick Autumnal Update

 

Autumnal Update

My favorite season in general and my favorite season in Ireland has finally arrived. I basically love pumpkin anything, all the fall colors, chunky knit sweaters and my riding boots crunching (stomping) all the leaves. It’s a very autumnal October and I’m all bundled up at the train station brainstorming where to take my blog next. I’ve an upcoming Amsterdam trip planned for Thanksgiving next month. I’ve never been and I am very, very stoked. Every year I throw a big dinner party abroad but this year will be a new spin on it. I’m also hoping to get to Madrid in January after my exams with the same group of friends from the Netherlands trip. I’m wondering whether to go beyond just travel and Irish life on here. As of right now I’d love to do posts on yoga, self care, fashion, uni organization AND more travel. If you have suggestions get in touch (my Instagram is @redheadamerican)!

I’ve been a busy bee lately. Uni is in full swing. I’ve been settling in during the week and heading away on weekends to see people and hit the town with them. Final year is obviously more intense and it’s taken some adjustment. It just takes being organized and quite focused. One year left and I’m looking forward to finishing. I can’t believe how fast it has all gone by. Feels just like yesterday my dad left me at my freshmen accommodation and I was an eager little fresher. Graduation next fall seems like a faraway dream, eeeek!

Village of Dunboyne, Meath covered in leaves
“American boots” broken out for the season
Big ol’ leaf in Stephen’s Green in Dublin

I LOVE fall in Massachusetts too. Well, let’s say all of New England. The foliage is beautiful. People from all over go on foliage tours near where I’m from just to see the scenes change. Pumpkins are literally all over house doorsteps, shop fronts and most importantly Dunkin’ Donuts (I miss and love you, Dunkin’. I’ll be home for Peppermint Mocha season, I promise). Ooooh I can’t wait for all things Christmas! But first to enjoy all that fall brings. Halloween, Amsterdam and Thanksgiving first, I must pace myself.

Throwback to last year’s peppermint mocha season – clearly looking content! 
Throwback to last year’s peppermint mocha season – if you know me, you know I miss Dunkin so much when I’m away!

Right, that’s all for now. Let me know what you would like to see if you are interested. 

x

 

Fun in France

FUN IN FRANCE

Beer in Chartes!

Bonjour!

Last week I found myself lucky enough to experience the north region of France. I ended up avoiding Paris altogether, only driving through it a few times. And from what I saw, it didn’t seem how it had always been depicted in movies or on TV. I definitely want to go back and give it another chance though! I didn’t even see the center of it where all the major touristy sights are. Eiffel tower is on my list!

However, where we were in Champagne was just beautiful. The French countryside is as picturesque as you’d hope. And despite stereotypes, the French people were SO nice and kind. It wasn’t even just the country people, it was the people we met in all the cities/towns we visited as well. They seemed to like to practice their english, which was awesome because I know very little French.

 

ACCOMODATION

Outside the villa

 

The villa my good friend had rented for the week was situated in a very rural setting.. Vineyard country. The hills and fields were beautiful. The house was technically an 1800s farmhouse that was transitioned into a rental so there’s plenty of ceiling beams and exposed wall details. It was one of only a few rentals in the area – Le Breiul, a little village in Champagne. The lack of tourists made the experience all the more tranquil. I spent a good bit of time just soaking up the sun and reading outside. It was around 30 C the first few days! Even though it’s not THAT far from Ireland, the weather is totally different (despite it raining a few times on my last two days there!). I did get a little sunburn..which quickly faded. My skin was probably happy to see the sun again, haha.
I had my own room with beautiful lighting. I didn’t spend much time in it honestly, except the time I spent sleeping like a rock. It was lovely though, I really liked it.

What I didn’t like was the spiders the size of tennis balls with the speed of Olympic runners. Terrifying. They showed themselves at night so we were all careful to watch out for them. The wasps were huge also! I’m not delving into negative things about the trip, there weren’t many at all! But if you hate bugs like me seriously watch out.

Quick room selfie
Window views

FOOD & DRINK

Veg/Fruit – Everything was ridiculously fresh. I could eat the lettuce pretty much as is. Tomatoes as well and I’m not even a big tomato fan! The grapes from our yard were also lovely. I made our salads with the lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes and just squeezed lemon on top with a dash of grapeseed oil and pepper. It was simple and tasted fab.

Brie house!

 

Cheese – Not only did I eat some killer cheeses, I got to visit the village of Brie. A charming little town that is the home of famous and amazingly gorgeous Brie cheese. It was adorable and I’m an even bigger fan of the cheese now. Like a lot of the villages in the Champagne area, Brie is fairly small and has a quaint vibe. I’d say Brie ended up being my favorite cheese of the trip!

 

Bread – We would run up to the local boulangerie for fresh bread and croissants nearly daily. Also heavenly. Croissants have never tasted better. They’re especially good with a bit of Nutella on top. Add Brie, lettuce and tomato onto a piece of French bread with a sprinkle of salt. Basically my lunch the entire vacation. I feel like a wheel of cheese. In need of a detox from it.

 

Wine/Champagne – Cheap and delish. A bottle that cost a fiver would taste like one that cost closer to twenty. I was impressed but after all it is one of the French’s areas of expertise.

As a gal pal of mine told me the other day, champagne is only authentic if it actually comes from the Champagne region of France. Otherwise it should be labeled a sparkling wine. The villa we stayed in was surrounded by beautiful vineyards…People pick the grapes from the vines once a year! I wish I could see how it was done.

Prepping lunch one of the days

SIGHTS

My friend loves gothic cathedrals. We purposely planned our day trip towns around this for her birthday. One day we did an eighteen hour road trip of the cathedrals – kid you not! I was wrecked after and don’t want to see another one for at least a month. I see why she adores them, they’re absolutely stunning. The details are so elaborate for their time, most of them having been built as early as 1100 or 1200. We went (in no specific order, because I can’t remember it) to Le Breuil, Château-Thierry, Dormans, Reims, Chartes, Reoun and Amiens. Not all of those towns had cathedrals we visited but majority did. While I enjoyed just about everywhere, Reoun was my absolute favorite. It was by far the nicest city in my eyes.

Highlight of my trip – a light show projected on the cathedral in Reoun

 

Au revouir…

Farewell, France! I shall be back. I have a new love of traveling and appreciation for France and their culture but there’s nothing like coming back to Ireland. I was only gone five days and it was such a relief when the plane landed in Belfast. Since then I’ve moved back to uni. I finally have a place of my own, woohoo!  I’ll have to do a post on how I decorate it.

 

Catch more updates and pictures of my trip on my Instagram: @redheadamerican

x

English Escapades – Manchester!

Finally, at long last I got to see another country after living in Europe since 2015. To be honest, I had no desire to travel on my own so that’s one of the reasons I never really went anywhere. But I do have a huge bucket list of places to see. My boyfriend took me to England to stay with some of his family in Manchester and it was lovely. It was eye opening to see a country of such a similar landscape (in comparison to Ireland) present such diversity in people, architecture and culture as well. While Manchester doesn’t look like Ireland and I’m more so referring to the countryside, I found it unique that Manchester wasn’t super built up but did have a few taller buildings, including the Hilton, where we went for really nice cocktails at their sky bar, Cloud 23.

Cocktail at Cloud 23

Manchester offers an industrial appearance having been primarily an industrial town in it’s day, yet it still seems quite modern. The nightlife was a lot of fun. I think nightlife is always exciting somewhere new, simply because you’ve never experienced it before. My boyfriend’s sister knew some great spots for drinks, nights out and meals. His family loves ethnic foods and I’ve seriously never tried so many different kinds because of them!

People really dress up in England and while I brought too many clothes in my little duffel bag (to which my boyfriend said, “I knew you would”) I still didn’t have any idea of what the fashion would be there. I assumed it would be similar but I was wrong. It’s very glam. I felt a little casual in jeans and a leather jacket. Also, the gals wear a lot of makeup. I wore my minimal look all weekend and by the time I got back to Belfast I said I’d give myself a challenge and not wear any during the day for the week because I started to feel like I had to pile on a lot more.

City hall…so gorg!

 

Another moment of magic was meeting my friend from home’s friend from Manchester! I’ve spent years hearing about her and her adventures in modeling in NYC, taking amazing photography and what an overall lovely person she was. She suggested the Manchester Art Gallery where we grabbed a coffee in the cafe. I just love the artsy and unusual so this was super interesting. She showed me her favorite painting and told me more about her escapades and I probably just sat there looking at her in awe (She’s met Johnny Cash! Like WHAT!). So, so interesting! I get to see her again next week when I head to France and stay with our friend.

Manchester Art Gallery

I didn’t have a blog idea planned out for Manchester simply because I kinda just wanted to soak it all in. So now I’m here trying to decide how to structure this post but I think I’ll just let it be a stream of consciousness post, as is! I’d never been outside of Ireland or the USA so this was special and being in a new place is overwhelming (in a good way)! I’ll be better able to document France now that I know and I’ll be there a little longer.

Can’t wait!

x

 

Bopping around Belfast Day & Look

BELFAST

I’m sitting in Cafe Nero and I just met an old family friend for coffee. We both agreed we miss Dunkin Donuts coffee wholeheartedly. After a strong Americano and a good catch up, I’m bracing myself for a rainy walk back to the flat.  I thought it could be a good day to capture some shots of my outfit but alas, lighting is poor. A very typical rainy Irish day!

I’ve really taken a shining to Belfast this past while. My days here have been really laid back and quite fun. It’s a great walkable, small city with a lot of character. There is a lot of brick used in the buildings here which reminds me of some of the houses on Commonwealth Avenue in Boston.

Cafe Nero inside
Brick work in the houses

Like Dublin, it’s not built up. There is a restriction with height for the buildings. Honestly, this used to irk me about Dublin. If I wanted a day in the city, I could only get a big town vibe. Seeing no skyscrapers bothered me. But with Belfast, I really don’t mind. There is some fabulous architecture in the city center and I find what it lacks in height it makes up for with a fun, quirky sense of art. City hall is a gorgeous spot to visit if you’re in town center.

City hall looking at town
Belfast City Hall

 

OUTFIT (But not really and I’ll explain why)

Here’s a peek at what I wore out and about today. Again, lighting was poor due to rain, sorry! I do want to invest in a proper camera once I save up enough. Little old me was my own photographer. And after some slight consideration, it would definitely be awkward if I began taking iPhone pictures of myself on the street.
I put my sheer Bershka black top (love the frill detailing at the shoulder and how it goes in at the sleeve just past the elbow) over a cheap Forever 21 cami tank top and tucked them into these grey plaid Bershka trousers, pairing them with black two strap sandals from Dunnes Stores and a H&M black handbag I picked up in a sale last week for an interview.
Mango top – £8.99 in the sale                       Bershka trousers – €15

I typically buy things on sale except for staple pieces or shoes/accessories that I definitely know I’ll wear often and for a long period of time. Clothes are very replaceable and unless you’re in love with the piece, you’ll only wear it so much.  Because I’m always up and down from Dublin to Belfast, you’ll notice I used different 
currencies under the photos. Overall, this outfit is pretty affordable.

I let my hair go natural and left it down. For makeup I stayed neutral and did a quick basic look.
Sandals – Dunnes Stores on sale for €9.99
Handbag – H&M on sale for £9.99

Yes, I took this last picture on the street – our sidewalks are so clean..It was outside the apartment so no one saw, shhhh. So, that’s what I went around in today! Thankfully, the rain wasn’t too heavy. Because most of these pieces were on sale I’m not sure they’re still available but it’s worth checking your local store if you like them. They’re all quite comfy and are easy to pair with dark colors.

Visiting Belfast? Check out VisitBelfast.com for touristy ideas.

x

Tips for Moving Abroad

Hi all!

Welcome to my little blog I’ve started. I’m going on my third year in Ireland and I still find myself in awe that I live here. The greenery and scenery are still as charming as the day I arrived. Growing up, my parents would always bring my brother and I to where they’re from in the west of Ireland, which is just stunning.  So naturally, being submerged into Irish culture, I fell in love with the country.  When university time came around, I packed two suitcases and moved to outside of Dublin to study arts.

What People Don’t Tell You About Moving Far Away (or studying abroad/erasmus):

  1. You don’t need two suitcases. You don’t need all that stuff, please believe me. I wish I could tell 18 year old me to stop packing random things I thought I’d want with me that I’d never look at again. One case and a duffel bag is plenty. Choose wisely what you’ll bring. If I could do it again, all I’d pack is clothes and my makeup and some pictures, honestly. You’ll accumulate so much stuff when you’re abroad! Just buy toiletries there.
    Have you already moved with too much? Just bring bare essentials plus the random stuff you’ve decided was unnecessary next time you fly home-home, and leave it there.
  2.  You will miss stuff. Home is a state of mind but of course there is no comfort like your actual ‘I’m-from-here’ home.  Luckily, I don’t get homesick much. Have I? Of course. When my birthday rolls around every year I always sulk a bit that my mom isn’t there to bake cute cupcakes or put my orange juice in a champagne glass for that extra birthday fun effect. I’m from a beach town at home so I miss my little walks along the shore.
    WARNING: If you have pets, you’re A) blessed and B) going to miss them more than a person. A sad reality of mine is that I FaceTime my dog regularly. That’s kind of sad, right? I have screenshots.
  3. Skip decor. If you’re like me and you move accommodation frequently as a student, resist decorating to your heart’s content. Again, it’s just more stuff to pack when you move.
  4. Meeting people can be awkward. I have met some seriously incredible people in Ireland. All unique and talented and beautiful people I get to call my friends. Obviously you’ll meet people you may dislike or find your energies just don’t mix together in a good way anymore, and that’s okay! Don’t let that discourage you from getting out there and meeting more people. I’ve managed to meet new friends all along my journey! Try inviting someone for a cup of coffee or an event for chats.
    – Try meeting your flatmates, neighbors
    – Get involved in clubs (I didn’t, but I wish I did!)
    – Experience the nightlife if that’s an interest of yours
    – Meet your friend’s friends
  5. Keep positive and distract yourself! If you’re nervous, just know it’s natural and you’re going to have so much fun (I hope anyway). Moving is a magical time of starting fresh and meeting some lovely friendly faces that may end up accompanying you in life for who knows how long!
  6. Stuff will go wrong. C’est la vie. There’s going to be countless ups and downs. Boys will break your heart and you’ll cry in bed with Ben and Jerry’s to Adele. You’ll buy way too much Ben and Jerry’s and regret it because it’s not healthy and now you are kind of broke. You’ll miss your parents and friends. You’ll miss their birthday celebrations and feel bad. Again, your pets. There will be days where all you want to do is ring home but your family is at work or asleep due to the time difference. Lord knows somedays all I want is a medium iced mocha coconut toasted almond coffee made regular from Dunkin Donuts.Distract yourself, you will be just fine.

I am seriously thankful my move and transition to Irish life went so, so swimmingly. I was young, and still am at ripe ol’ twenty, but when I look back I realize it actually was easier than I thought. After high school I was ready for a break from my small Massachusetts town. Ireland was obviously very familiar to me having grown up with the culture and I assume that’s what made it a lot less challenging.  I’m super grateful to have a foot in two different countries.

Goodluck if you’re planning a big move!

x