Thursday, April 30, 2015

Work Upon Work, Upon Work...

Hey guys! Sorry, this post isn't going to be that interesting today. No photos or exciting vacations. Instead, just a quick update.

These upcoming weeks are going to be hell, to say the least. As the school year wraps up, I have so many things to do: projects, final exams, and papers. I can't believe that my first year of college is already ending. To be quite honest, I still feel like I have so much more to learn in the next 3 years. But for now, in just two short weeks, I'll be free! A few of my summer resolutions this year are to try new things and travel! Well see, only time will tell...

Thanks for sticking with me during this hectic time. I know that my last post were much more interesting. Oh... and Day 2 in Amsterdam is coming! 

xo, Katherine

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Hello Amsterdam

School is basically going to be my life for the next two months. I have found some time in between studying/working on projects to write this blog post so here we go...


Spring Break Part 2! (If you didn't see my last blog post on my trip to Belgium click here) After taking a train to Amsterdam, we settled into our hotel. We stayed at the Linden Hotel in Jordaan. I like to consider it the Brooklyn of New York City. Slightly away from the center, there are a lot of young inhabitants and swanky shops. I would definitely recommend staying in Jordaan; peaceful yet only a bus away from the city center.

Waking up the next day, our first task was to find a place to eat. This was a slight challenge because we couldn't find any place was open. We ended up going to a dried goods store, and by my mom's request buying some dried mangos. The store clerk informed us that Dutch people don't really go out for breakfast and that might be why many places were not open. We ended up stumbling into a coffee shop (excuse me... store that sells coffee) called Headfirst. I ordered a latte and a blueberry muffin on the side. One thing to be noted: the muffin was amazing! Without a doubt, the best blueberry muffin I have ever had in my life. Not too sweet, a warm inside, and the slightly crunchy exterior.

Walking toward the city center, I did not forget to miss a photo op. I straight away took out my camera and snapped some shots.

We didn't have anything planned for the first half of the day so we explored the city by foot. A store that caught our attention was Anna & Nina. The store is filled with cute knick-knacks. They sell jewelry, decorative items, cute and funny stationary, and so much more. I really wanted the small notebook, as I've been into journalling recently, but I needed to be money-savvy and only purchase things that were necessary.

If anyone knows me, they will know that I LOVE macaroons. This is why I had to take this picture. 

I'm not sure what attracted me to this but it has become one of my favorite pictures from Amsterdam (even though there is nothing that says it was taken in Amsterdam). It's funny because this piece was attached to the side of a sketchy building in a dark alleyway. I guess art is truly everywhere, you just have to keep your eyes open.

After walking for a while, we were getting really hungry. While exploring the city, we spotted a chicken place near the city center called Hendriks that looked good so we decided to head back. We ordered two chickens (Green Herbs and Spicy) and an Onion Soup. All three were delicious. Definitely craving the chicken as I type. The whole atmosphere was great. There weren't that many people (in fact it was us and a couple). The music was great, definitely my kinda music. The decor was also really great as well. The exposed brick, the accent wall, the wooden beams, and the brown and green colors all created a cool and relaxed vibe.

Delicious Green Herbs Chicken & presentation gets an A+

Love the decor!

Later in the afternoon, we decided to do some hardcore tourist stuff. First stop windmills. We traveled to this 'town' that had some windmills that we could explore. We should have known that it would be commercialized when we signed up for the tour. The whole 'town' just seemed fake. Walking in, there was a guy taking our picture, and right there I knew that upon leaving they would ask us to buy the photo. The little shops were all colorful, which was pretty, but it didn't seem authentic.

We went inside the windmill house to get a short tour. Someone probably should have given a warning or something. Peanuts are the number one allergy and it was shocking to know that they let people in without a warning. Shells and smells everywhere. Luckily my allergy to peanuts is only severe when I consume them. 

Can this photo get any more Netherlands themed? (maybe add some wooden clogs though)

We jumped back onto the bus and headed to a cheese factory. I don't want to sound like a Debbie-Downer but I thought it was going to be an actual factory that showed some in-depth steps. Instead it was a cheese shop upstairs and displays of cheese wheels and old-fashioned machinery downstairs. By the end of the short presentation, they pushed us to buy their cheese and some people definitely feel into that trap.

My family likes to explore cities for the true beauty of it. We tend to veer away from tourist attractions and large crowds. One of the best parts of the tour was not the attractions themselves, but the little stuff in between. We walked alongside the water on our way to the cheese factory. Even though it was a cloudy day, the sea smell and air was cool and invigorating. Staring at the water was truly inspiring (panorama shot needed). When people say that large bodies of water make you feel so small, they are absolutely right. Opposite the water were quaint little beach houses. My family loves design and we spent a couple of minutes slowly walking, pointing at cute little houses and imagining a peaceful life living in them. If it were up to us, we probably would have sat in those little benches facing the water taking everything in.

Another fav pic. Everything in the picture is very harbor like.

The final stop on the tour was a town whose income relies heavily on the mass production of clogs. Almost all of the citizens contribute to making the wooden shoes. It was slightly weird navigating our way to the building. It felt almost like we were infiltrating them. A large group was walking on small, narrow paths weaving in and out of houses and getting so close to their houses that we could look inside their windows. Passing by, I looked into one of the window and there was an old man reading the newspaper. I don't know how they do it. If I was in their position, I would feel uncomfortable if complete strangers could see right through into my home.

The factory was pretty cool. The guy showed us and demoed the machines that carved the outside and shaved the inside. They really know how to 'milk it.' Right after the demonstration, we were herded right to the gift shop. We didn't buy anything but just got back on the bus headed back to the city.

Like I said, my family doesn't like to do the typical touristy things and we all didn't really like the tour, but we did see what we paid to see: windmills, cheese, and clogs. One additional thing that I believe needs mentioning is that there were hardly any historical facts. The tour guide didn't really say anything or know anything about the places that we visited. And what irritated me the most was the fact that our tour guide was not Dutch. I mean I don't know if I should really take her word for it considering she's not from The Netherlands. It would have been much better if the tour guide was a native. Having grown up there and experienced the lifestyle, I would take her word over any foreigner.

After a long day, we grabbed some food on the way back to the hotel and crashed. Nine whole miles, much greater than my typical four mile average.


Stay tuned for Day 2 in Amsterdam. I know this was maybe slightly on the rant side but trust me, the next couple days were so much better and better pictures are to come!

Thursday, April 2, 2015


  1. I’m back from Spring Break! I am back at school with loads of homework and studying to do. Last week went by so fast and I can’t even believe that my first year of college is coming to an end.

    But let’s take a step back to the start of Spring Break. This may be a little bit of a surprise, but I went to Belgium and The Netherlands last week. I rarely tell people my travels simply because they are never set in stone but luckily this one was a success. And with that said, I have some pictures to document my vacation.

    We left Saturday evening meaning that we would arrive in Brussels in the morning. Call me crazy but sometimes I enjoy airplane food. I don’t think I actually enjoy airplane food itself but I like the fact that the flight attendants bring you food. You basically don’t have to lift a finger. For dinner I had chicken and polenta with a salad, dessert I had an ice cream sundae, and breakfast was fruit and yogurt.

    I watched two movies on the plane: Wreck-It Ralph and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (I know, completely different movies). Both movies were pretty good for completely different reasons. Because we would essentially miss bedtime, I slept a little on the plane. With the lack of sleep, surprisingly I didn’t have jet lag that day.

    Arriving in Brussels, Belgium we headed to our hotel: Aloft Schuman. Let me say that this hotel was one of the coolest hotels I’ve been to. I’ve never set foot into any of the W hotels, but apparently Aloft hotels are like the swankier babies of the W hotels. The decor of the Aloft Schuman was colorful and modern. One thing I will say is that the weather was a lot colder than I thought it would be, so I wished our hotel would have been closer to the city center than it was. Luckily the nearest metro station wasn’t too far.

    Thinking of Belgium, the first thing that comes to mind, or at least my mind, is chocolate and waffles. Before coming to Brussels I did a little research about the best chocolate stores. From my research Leonidas, Mary’s, Pierre Marcolini, Galler, Elisabeth, and Maison Dandoy (for waffles) seemed to pop up frequently and so these were our first stops. 

    The macaroons were some of the best macaroons I've had so far. My favorite macaroon flavor is rose and Pierre Marcolini's Rose macaroon was absolutely delicious.

    After accomplishing our main goal in Brussels, we decided to explore a bit. We walked through Les Galerie Royales and ate frites.

    Hôtel de Ville de Bruxelles

    Little courtyard off of Hôtel de Ville de Bruxelles. One of my favorite pictures because of the vibrant colors of the flowers, the cobblestone flooring, the architecture, and all the little aesthetic details from the lanterns to the curvature of the flowerbed.

    Still in the courtyard. Can you spot the top of the Hôtel de Ville de Bruxelles?

    The 'ketchup' sauce was way different than the ketchup in the U.S. It was slightly sweeter and the color was more brown.

    We had made a reservation at a place that was apparently one of the better places in Brussels, but unfortunately they weren’t open that day. We decided to instead find some place on the street and came across La Marie Joseph. Food was good; I ended up getting a fish platter with salmon, sea bass, sardine, cod, and something that I don’t remember. The place had a cute but misleading environment. There were chicken decorations everywhere, but what they served was primarily seafood.


    After sleeping in, we started the day by going to brunch at a place called Belga Queen. The interior was amazing and definitely something that you don’t come across often in the U.S. Appetizer was rabbit; I’ve never had rabbit before but it tasted similar to tuna. Steak was the main dish honestly it was pretty good.

    Only in Brussels for a day and a half, we checked out of the hotel and spent three hours in a train headed to Amsterdam. Our train was in the evening so we would be missing dinner but luckily we had gotten a couple of sandwiches for the journey. For being bought at a store in the train station the salmon, pesto, and cream cheese sandwich was actually really good.

    Arriving in Amsterdam later in the night, we immediately went to the hotel and hit the hay, but not after we took a couple of photos of Amsterdam at night.

    Amsterdam Centraal


    I hope you enjoyed the first two days of my vacation. Day two was pretty short so I didn’t think it was worth its own post. But, stay tuned for my post of Amsterdam. Trust me, the pictures are pretty awesome!