Category Archives: Places

Travel – Amsterdam, Netherlands Part I

Back at the end of October, G was traveling to Amsterdam for a work conference. Since I’ve never visited Netherlands (or most of Europe with the exception of Paris and London, really), I happily tagged along on his trip. We extended our stay for the weekend as well, since G for the most part hadn’t really seen much of Amsterdam or Netherlands outside of work.

I have to say Amsterdam reminds me a lot of Paris, the historical buildings and the canals/rivers, but it’s the hip, cooler sister to Paris. Since we were going to be in Amsterdam for almost a week, I decided to purchase a visitor pass, much like I did when I was in Paris. The Holland Pass is available in a choice of 2, 5, or 7 free tickets to over 60 attractions and museums. It also comes with a pass for limited hours to free public transportation. I opted to purchase the 5 free tickets which includes a pass for 24 hours of free public transportation from Viator. The tickets come in a combination of Tulips and WIndmills. The Tulip tickets holds more value than the Windmill tickets, as a Tulip ticket enables one to access major museums (e.g., Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum, and Stedelijk Museum). (WARNING: Picture heavy post!)

Holland Pass Amsterdam Netherlands

The first attraction I visited on my first day was the Amsterdam Museum. I had read reviews online that it would be a good place to start, giving one a history of the city. I have to say I wholeheartedly agree with that review. The Amsterdam Museum was an insightful and interactive museum. The displays incorporating touch screen videos and scanner for QR codes were ingenious. Upon purchasing or redeeming tickets to the museum, one would be asked language of preference for the exhibits. You would then be given a pamphlet in your language of choice. On the pamphlet, there’s a QR code for the language which prompts videos to be played in your language of choice at various sections of the DNA exhibit. As a tech-savvy person, I absolutely loved it!

Tickets to Amsterdam Museum

Entrance to Amsterdam Museum

Walk on Art Amsterdam Museum

Art carpet

Infamous I amsterdam miniature version Amsterdam Museum

Museum Cafe Mokum

Arch to Amsterdam Museum

My next stop was the Museum of Handbags and Purses (Tassenmuseum) but not without getting lost in the streets of Amsterdam! Here’s some snaps from me wandering around, stumbling upon Remblandtplein in the process.

Siebel

Rembrantplein

Rembrandtplein

Rembrandtplein

Vijzel Straat Centrum

Bridge Canal in Amsterdam

Amsterdam Canal

Tassenmuseum Sign Post

Finally, I found my way to the Museum of Bags and Purses! As a bag aficionado, this was a must-visit for me. The exhibits gave a detailed history on why bags were created. Little did I know that bags were actually worn by men before it became a fashionable item for women!  There was also a cozy room that serves as the cafe.

Museum of Bags and Purses

Purse in Museum of Bags and Purses

Suitcases in Museum of Bags and Purses

Chanel 2.55 Coco Chanel Purse Bag

Hermes Kelly worn by Grace Kelly in Museum of Bags and Purses

Peacock Clutch

Cafe Museum of Bags and Purses

Pastries in cafe

My last stop for the day was Rijksmuseum and by the time I got there, I was exhausted! I should have known better than to be walking all across the city and being ambitious, hitting up 3 museums in one day! All was well after I took a short rest and I got to see the famous Nightwatch painting by Rembrandt in all its glory. Rijksmuseum Rijksmuseum

Arches of Rijksmuseum

Rijksmuseum Exterior

Rijksmuseum

Stained glass in Rijksmuseum

Stained glass in Rijksmuseum

Nightwatch Rembrant

Nightwatch RembrantRembrandt’s famous painting, Nightwatch

Miffy in Rijksmuseum ShopMiffy memorabilia sold at the Rijksmuseum shop

 With that ends the first day of my exploration in Amsterdam! Stay tuned for the next part where I explore Amsterdam and the outskirts on a bike!

Winter Wonderland in London

I hope you had a good holiday or perhaps some of you are still on holiday! G & I spent our first Christmas together and had a low-key holiday just enjoying each others’ company. Having just moved to London, a friend highly recommended that I check out Winter Wonderland and to go with an empty stomach. Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park, London is bound to put most people into the festive holiday spirit unless you’re an absolute grinch. It is a combination of a Christmas market and a carnival (funfair). While it would have been nice to see the Christmas lights in the evening, G and I opted to visit Winter Wonderland in the late morning on a beautiful Saturday gearing towards Christmas.  We figured it would be less crowded and warmer than visiting in the evening. We both enjoyed ourselves checking out the various stalls while trying out different food. (Tip: Bring cash with you!) The veggie burger (£5.50) I had from the Angus Steak and Burger hut was quite good. G had the cheeseburger (£6.50) but it wasn’t particularly good and he didn’t finish it! I will recommend the marzipans (£4 for 100g) since I have a sweet tooth but I would say overall, food was quite pricey. A small cup of mulled wine ranged from £4-6, so we both decided to pass.

There were plenty of games and rides for children and there was also a skating rink that caters to both adults and children. We however, didn’t check those out since we don’t have any children yet nor did we particularly feel like ice skating that day. If you plan on doing either or both, feel free to get more information here.

Winter Wonderland London UK

Winter Wonderland London UK

San Antonio Street Winter Wonderland London

Winter Wonderland London

Hot Roast Pork Winter Wonderland London

Winter Wonderland London decor

Winter Wonderland London decor reindeer chandelier

Winter Wonderland London Christmas Tree

Winter Wonderland Dunnele Bakery German Pizza

Homemade Food Winter Wonderland London

Winter Wonderland London Pizza House

German Sweets Winter Wonderland London

Marzipan at Winter Wonderland London

Winter Wonderland  London Jagerwald

Winter Wonderland London Nordic Wooden Sculptures

Winter Wonderland London

Hand painted bowls from Turkey at Winter Wonderland

Winter Wonderland London Candle Holder Lamp Shades

Winter Wonderland London Wooden Hanging Decorations Stall

Toys & games at Winter Wonderland London

Winter Wonderland London Carousel

Winter Wonderland Rides London

Winter Wonderland Ferris Wheel London

We didn’t walk through the entire Winter Wonderland for it started to get more crowded particularly near the rides, so we decided to exit Hyde Park and head towards Harvey Nichols and Harrods for some window shopping instead. Would we return to Winter Wonderland? Quite likely but perhaps on a weekday evening for a change of scenery. If you’re in London, do pay a visit before their final day on January 5!

Summer Weekends

Summer is quickly drawing to an end and seeing kids getting on a school bus while on my way to work reminded me that Fall is almost upon us.  (Yes, I know some bloggers have been avidly posting Fall outfits although it befuddles me since it’s still nice and warm out there!) It’s been a busy Summer and here are some snapshots on what I’ve been up to by far this Summer.

Bridal wedding gown decorWedding decor at a wedding that I attended back in June (what I wore here)

Great Falls Maryland

Great Falls MarylandHiking at Great Falls, Maryland

Potluck picnic Summer

Potluck picnic with friends at Sycamore Island Canoe Club

Rayban wayfarers and H&M straw hat SummerMy Rayban Wayfarers and H&M straw hat (similar), my trusty Summer must-haves

Pretty black eyed SusanPretty Black Eye Susans in the neighborhood

Caesar's Palace Las Vegas hotel38 hours in Las Vegas to see G and we stayed at the Caesar’s Palace Hotel

Laduree macaronsLadurée macarons, a surprise treat from G who brought it with him from London!

Laduree macarons

Of the 18 flavors, my favorites were chocolate and salted caramel but Pierre Herme wins the taste test while Ladurée wins packaging wise!

Ronald Reagan Airport Virginia DC View of the National Airport from the Metro platform

Trapeze DC flying Flying trapeze at Trapeze DC for my bachelorette party! (So.much.fun!)

Tea set for tea ceremony Chinese wedding Tea set for Chinese wedding tea ceremony, a wedding I just attended this past weekend

Pennsylvania Station BaltimoreBaltimore Pennsylvania Station, where I was waiting for the train back to DC after said wedding

2013 is perhaps the year of weddings as I attended two weddings over Summer and I’ll be attending another, the weekend after Labor Day. And then of course, there’s my own wedding. No, I’m still not quite done with wedding planning although most things have been squared away. In any case, with Summer winding down, I’m still hoping to be able to make a trip out to Shenandoah for a final hiking trip for one of these Summer weekends!

How have you been spending your Summer? 🙂

Travel – Birthday Vacation: Topsham

We explored Topsham, a nearby town with G’s cousin and wife while visiting Exmouth on our second day. We took the train and it was only a short 15 minute ride away. Our first stop was at Bridge Inn, a historical pub that dates back to 1897 for some drinks and snacks. They serve a variety of lager and ales but I’d have no clue which is which since I don’t drink! I had some hot chocolate instead and a pie. (WARNING: Picture heavy post!)

Topsham Train Station

Bridge Inn Topsham Devon England UK

Mobile Telephone sign inside Bridge Inn

Sign inside Bridge Inn

Empty kegs outside of Bridge Inn

Bridge Inn bench wood carving

Next, we were given a brief walking tour of Topsham along the river by our hosts. We then stopped by for a quick bite at Route 2 Cafe Bar. The cafe is a cosy hangout with its own adjacent bike shop that provides bike rentals and bike service and repair. I would’ve love to bike around town but the typical English weather did not permit that as it was cloudy and rainy the whole day!

Roses Topsham

Poplar House Topsham Devon England UK

Hope House Topsham Devon England UK

Shell House Topsham Devon England UK

Conservation sign

Alley in Topsham Devon England UK

Boats on the river Topsham Devon England UK

View of boat on the river

Topsham Museum

The Goat Walk Topsham Devon England UK

Benches by The Goat Walk Topsham Devon England UK

Union Jack by the river

Statue Decor

Wall hangings

The Lighter Inn Hall and Woodhouse

Route 2 Cafe Bar Topsham Devon England UK

We ended our tour of Topsham at the Quay Antique Centre. I highly recommend this place for any vintage/antique lover as it is a three-story warehouse building filled with a wide array of goods from home ware to toys!

Quay Antique Center

Antique brass kettles Quay Antique Centre

Beautiful China ceramic Quay Antique Centre

Peter Rabbit Beatrix Potter Quay Antique Centre

Dial-up telephones Quay Antique Center

Ship Wheel  Decor Quay Antique Centre

For more pictures of Topsham, check them out here. I’ll have one last post from my birthday vacation up soon. Hope you have a great start to the week! 🙂

Travel – Birthday Vacation: Exmouth

On my birthday, we spent the morning in London before we took the train to visit G’s relatives in Exmouth for a few days. G spoilt me with some delicious macarons from Pierre Herme and a bracelet from Givenchy. (Thank you, G!) (WARNING: Picture heavy post!)

Birthday presents - Pierre Herme macarons and Givenchy braceletGivenchy Obsedia Triple Wrap Bracelet in RedGivenchy Obsedia Triple Wrap Bracelet

I had been obsessing over the python Givenchy Obsedia bracelet for a long time at Barney’s and it either wasn’t marked down or it did and sold out in no time. I’d always stalk it online, patiently awaiting for it to go on sale but alas, no such luck. I was pleased to finally find one in a color that I liked and G happily bought it for me as a birthday gift in advance! (trust me, I count my blessing every day and am very grateful to have G who spoils me!)

Pierre Herme macarons London landmarksPierre Herme macarons

Pierre Herme macaronsDelicious macarons from Pierre Herme that we bought the day before from Selfridges

For my birthday, my only request was to have some macarons to celebrate since I had received my gift in advance. I had heard a lot about Pierre Herme and from the reviews I read, it is touted to be better than Laduree. I was curious to have some and G allowed me to pick as many as I’d like. Since I liked the London Landmarks box, I got to pick 16 macarons! I had one of each, as there were 13 flavors to choose from and doubled up on the chocolate, Matcha green tea and salted caramel. My favorite flavor was the Matcha green tea. I love that the macarons were not too sweet and it melted in my mouth. I had to pace myself and not eat all 16 of them during our train ride from London to Exmouth. Let’s just say it took me a lot of self-restraint!

Caterpillar birthday cake My caterpillar birthday cake

Caterpillar cake and teaMy slice of birthday cake and some tea after the long train ride

Upon arrival in Exmouth, I was treated to my own caterpillar birthday cake! G had told them in advance that it was my birthday. G’s cousin and his family whom we visited has a household tradition whereby caterpillar cakes are a must for birthdays. I felt very loved! After some cake and tea, we were given a brief walking tour of Exmouth.

Beach Sign

Exmouth Festival 2013Exmouth Festival 2013

It was Exmouth Festival when we visited and we got to listened to a couple of songs by one of the many bands that performed. Sorry, I forgot the name of the band! We then took a stroll along the seafront.

Exmouth, Devon seafront seaside coast

Exmouth Devon England seafront seaside coastBeautiful seafront

seagull England Devon

Exmouth Pavillion

Wishing Well Rotary

Exmouth Lifeguards

Exmouth Fun Park

Exmouth Fun Park Swan Boat Rides

Swan Boats Exmouth Fun Park

Exmouth Children Swing

Carriage Cafe Exmouth

Next we proceeded to walk along the neighborhood near the seafront and look what I found! The White House followed me to England! 😉

The White House in Exmouth Devon EnglandSpot the rainbow Exmouth Devon EnglandSpot the rainbow!

It was a beautiful day on my birthday and after the little tour from G’s cousin, we had a BBQ cookout to end the day. Needless to say, I had a wonderful birthday and am so thankful to G and his relatives for making it a special day!

UPDATE: Here are the other pictures of Exmouth as promised.These were taken on our last day in town as went to check out the Marina.

The Beacon Vaults in Exmouth Devon England

the Beacon Vaults Exmouth Devon England

Fats Exmouth

Exmouth Devon England Marina Exmouth Marina

Exmouth Marina bridge Devon EnglandBridge at the Marina

Boat tour company Exmouth Devon England

House with yellow door Exmouth Devon England

Exmouth War MemorialExmouth War Memorial

For more pictures of Exmouth you can find them here. I also have more snapshots of Topsham and Exeter (that I will blog about in a separate post), which we visited during our short stay in Exmouth. Please stay tuned!