Amsterdam City Blog restaurants, shops, people and life in Amsterdam

13Dec/131

Life: graduation, party, holiday and a job!

Yeah, life. After all the sweat, hours and effort I put into graduating (with a glorious 8 for my thesis!), I threw a party to celebrate with my lovely friends and family. With an unworded, but heartfelt apology for having neglected them for over three years. I've never seen so many people that I love crammed into our living room, drinking wine and playing charades. Best party ever.

And then Levi and I went on holiday. I was working on my graduation all Summer, and to keep me motivated, we planned a holiday for right after I was due to finish. Three weeks of sun is what we wanted, and because that's hard to come by in Europe in November, we flew to Thailand.
Lush and peaceful Sukhothai Historical Park, Thailand
My highlights:
- exploring peaceful and green Sukhothai by bicycle. So many temples, ponds, trees, fields. Gorgeous!
- lighting and setting afloat a Loi Kraton on Chaweng Lake for good luck during the Loi Kraton festival.
excellent woodfire oven pizza in Bo Phut, Koh Samui- this pizza in Bo Phut on Koh Samui. Most times when Thai try to make western food, it's best avoided. But this, made in an Italian-owned, stylish, modern restaurant with a beach view, was the real deal. Wood fire oven. Crisp thin bottom. Fresh and delicious toppings. Actual Italian olive oil to drizzle over. I didn't write down the name of the place, but I can point you to it if you're in the neighbourhood and in need of fabulous pizza. I am telling you: it will live on in my memory for ever.
- and talking about food: sushi and gyoza on Food Avenue on the fifth floor at MBK mall in Bangkok. Yum!
- we thoroughly enjoyed our spaceous and luxurious bungalow in the lovely tropical gardens at Smile House on Koh Samui.
- and then there was riding around on the back of a scooter, with Levi touring the entire island of Samui. Seeing waterfalls, jungle, tiny villages, temples and secluded beaches. Filling up the tank for the whopping amount of 2 euro.
Fisherman beach on Koh Samui, Thailand

So then we came back, and I checked my mail and found two messages from Rob, a man I worked for a couple of years ago. Was I still looking for a job, because he just might know something for me? Why yes, yes I was. Two days later I had an appointment for an informal meeting with the owner of a law firm, who was looking for a secretary slash marketing specialist. Three interviews and an assessment later, we're now ironing out the details of the contract, so fingers are still crossed. But I may just have some good news sometime soon.

I already know what I'm going to do with my first pay: shop till I drop! Oh yeah, and have a celebratory dinner with Levi. Will keep you posted!

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20Jul/120

Italy, palmtrees and time: post-holiday Friday list

Levi and I were on holiday in Italy for two weeks and came back last Monday. It's been raining and raining since we came back, but today the sun is shining, so here's a sunny Friday list:

    Palmtrees at B&B Lu Casale in San Cesareo di Lecce in Italy
  • I am thankful for holidays. It's lovely to just spend time together, focusing on nothing other than "What shall we do today?" And: "Where shall we have dinner?"
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  • I'm also thankful for our lovely B&B in Puglia, Lu Casale, located in the very tip of Italy's heel. Our host Massimo and his wife Marinella were hospitable and kind. Eventhough they spoke little English and we little Italian, we had loads of fun! I wish I were still sitting by the pool in their tropical garden with its fullgrown palmtrees.
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  • The lovely town of Gallipoli in Puglia, ItalyWhile I'm at it, let's also mention the region itself. I loved the little towns of Alberobello, Locorotondo, Otranto and Gallipoli. I thoroughly enjoyed the heartwarming friendliness of the people in San Cesareo di Lecce, trying to learn a little English and teaching us Italian along the way. I loved the gorgeous sea and the soft, sandy beaches. Truth be told, I'm a little in love with Puglia.
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  • And back at work I realise: everything's easier when you feel well rested and sane. I wish I could always feel like this. I'm afraid it won't last, as I have a monster of a year ahead of me. But I'm enjoying this sanity while I can!
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  • Another thing I am thankful for: time. The school year has not yet started. So for another few weeks I have loads of free time. Time to see friends, read books, fix things in our flat. I love it!

May the summer never end!

25Jul/112

“Ciao bella!”

Levi and I came back from our holiday in Italy on Monday (a week ago). Yesterday's incredibly rainy Sunday capped off our first week back, and what a wet and dreary week in Amsterdam it was!

We spent the first ten days of our vacation in Santa Agata, a small village on a hill near the picturesque coastal town of Sorrento. We visited Amalfi via the amazing Via Nastro Azzurro (Blue Ribbon Road), the Grotto Smeraldo near Amalfi, Pompei, Napels and of course Sorrento itself. We hung out on pebbled Nerano beach, lying towel to towel with the locals. And we drove through sleepy Massa Lubrense on an afternoon after having spent the morning chilling out at our fabulous hotel pool. The views were gorgeous from the hills and from the winding roads on cliff's edges.
coastal town of Sorrento, built on the edge of a cliff face

Before we left, Levi was decidedly against visiting Napels, with its bad reputation of being a maffia stronghold and crime being rife on the streets. But curiosity got the better of us and so we did visit Napels. Twice! As it turned out, I fell in love with lovely Napoli. I have become a fan of frigattorie (Di Matteo's crocche! I'd plan a return visit just for a freshly fried batch of those), the sottosuolo (the underground world of Napels) and the lovely Neapolitans. Many a "Ciao bella!" was heard and I must say, they charmed me to bits.

After ten days it broke our hearts to leave the Sorrentine Peninsula. We were going to miss our friendly and comfortable Hotel Jaccarino and the amazing food and lovely people at Da Mimi's Rosticceria, where we ate most of our meals. Their homemade fresh pasta made me want to weep. Soft like velvet and almost melting in your mouth. If you are ever anywhere near Sorrento, do make the trip up the hill to Santa Agata and go to Da Mimi. Try their homemade manicaretti. Only 5 euro and you'll be in heaven, I promise.

When we arrived in Rome for the next leg of our trip, it was 38 degrees. The Italian capitol was hot hot hot (and I do not mean in the hip and trendy way) and overcrowded with tourists.  I nearly felt ashamed at being one of them. I'd been to Rome before, so I would have loved to forego the Colosseum (lines as far as the eye could reach in the burning sun) etcetera, but it was Levi's first time in Rome, so on the merry-go-round we went.Rome, Piazza del Popolo July 2011

Rome was tiring, but I must say: after two weeks in Italy, my mind felt limber. I'd immersed myself in the language, the sights, the food and the people (although honestly, in Rome, we were hardpressed to find a friendly Roman...). I didn't think about work or school at all and without me consciously noticing it while it happened, I unwound.  I came back relaxed. I'd almost forgotten what that feels like, to be relaxed.

The past year has been gruelling, what with school, work, blog, friends and of course the financial worries that come with the decision to go back to school. I wore myself thin. My new schoolyear's resolution is to try and relax a little more!

Hopefully, there will be only two more years to go after this. Bear with me, I'll try to keep you updated as I go.

8May/100

Off on holiday

You may have noticed it's been quiet here this week Well, that's because I'm off on a holiday!

Levi and I are travelling South East Asia at the moment. We'll be back in Amsterdam at the end of June. I'll pick up where I left off then!

See you soon