zaanse schans, netherlands

On the second day, we went to de Zaanse Schans – a historic windmill town near where we were staying.

This was one of the highlights for me on the trip. The small town preserved the old style of houses and the windmills are in actual working order. We learned about how to make clogs, cheese, and peanut oil. We went up one of the windmills and found out after leaving you are supposed to pay 2 eus for entrance. The person collecting wasn’t there. Oops! 🙂

Everything was super cute and there were quite a few artists there painting the scenery. I’m glad our ABnB host suggested we get there in the morning since the tourist rush came just as we were leaving.

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keukenhof, lisse, netherlands

Keukenhof is one of the world’s largest flower gardens – focusing on tulips. It’s located in Lisse, Netherlands and is only open a few months of the year. My family highly recommended that I visit and I was not disappointed.

Ditta and I hopped on a bus to Lisse straight from the airport. We noticed the sun was out when we landed and that the weather forecasted rain the next couple days so we  impromptu rejiggered our plans and headed south. Good thing we did too! Round trip transportation was €24 versus €55 in listings in town.

It was beautiful. We were dead tired from our early morning flight, but still enjoyed it immensely. The colors were so vibrant! I’m not quite pro enough to edit any of my pictures when I post it on this blog so believe me when I say that it was prettier in person.

wormerveer, netherlands

Ditta and I decided to take a mini-trip to another country while she was here. We chose Amsterdam since it was the cheapest in such sort notice. I had also wanted to see the Tulip festival.

Since it was last minute plus the Easter holiday, accommodations were pretty pricey so we ended up in a spare room Airbnb in Wormerveer (about 20 mins from Amsterdam). Our hosts were a well traveled young married couple who rented out their room to meet new people. Marcel, the husband, picked us up from the train station, gave us tips to save money on transportation, and even cooked us breakfast one of the days. As nice as they were, I think I’ll stick to whole apartment Airbnb’s going forward. My days of couchsurfing seem to be behind me.

Unfortunately, I ‘m still not quite used to taking pictures of things so didn’t take a lot here. It was a cute little town with a main canal running through it, but reinforced that I need to live in a city. We tried to find water and dinner the first night and everything was closed by 9. We ended up eating at a Dominoes for the first dinner.

The second night we ate at Patmos, a ‘grieks’ restaurant Marcel suggested. We sat down and picked up the menu and realized that it was all in Dutch! Pretty much pointed to a random line and got lucky. It was good, but the portions were way too big for either of us to finish.

All in all, it was good to see a different side of Holland by staying here, but a bit too quiet.

ditta takes london – day 4

John wanted to show her around his neighborhood on day 4 so we headed over to Brixton after work.

He took us around the places he showed me when I first arrived: Brixton Village, Bowie Wall, etc.

We had dinner in Pop Brixton at Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen. I had been itching to try African cuisine and I’m glad I tried it. Had the delicious jollof fried chicken with the hot pepper mayo. John and Ditta got the stews and they were much spicier than I though they would be. It was all good, though probably not one of those meals I would have a craving for later. Washed it down with some palm wine, which kind of taste like kombucha.

It was great to get together with old LA office buddies.

ditta takes london – day 2-3

I had work during the week so we met up after and wandered around London some more. The nights were kind of a blur since we explored all the nearby neighborhoods.

We hit up sights in Chinatown, Soho, and Trafalgar Square. While walking around, we even found where Ben Franklin used to live and Ditta showed me this super cute hidden gem she learned about online – Neal’s Yard.

Day 2: Took her to the rooftop of my office in South Bank. We ended up having dinner there – cheap but yummy pizzas and cider.

Day 3: Had dinner at the Admiralty at Trafalgar Square for some traditional British pies and ale.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I led us astray a bunch so ended up walking miles each day. We kept joking that we would be super fit after her visit instead of putting on vacation weight.

ditta takes london – day 1

I’m hosting my first visitor – the lovely Ditta.

She is hopping around Europe for the next 2 weeks with my apartment as home base. Thanks to John for lending the air mattress and Anne for the extra comforter. 🙂

I picked her up from the Heathrow on Sunday, dropped off her bag at my place, and straight away began the tour!

We walked along Bank Side to the London Eye, Big Ben, St Paul’s Cathedral.

She saw online that the Coppa Club had outdoor igloos so she made a reservation for dinner there that night. We typed in Coppa Club to Citymapper and made our way there. Of course, we ended up at the wrong one near St. Paul’s. I wish I could say this is the only time that happened during her stay, but we ended up walking 10 miles a day while she was here due in part to my horrible sense of direction.

We ended up in the right place finally and had a couple appetizers and drinks. I wouldn’t say the food was all that great, but it wins for ambiance and view.

After we walked by Tower Bridge and the Tower of London and made our way back. She had counted Sunday as a travel day, but we ended seeing everything she wanted to see in the city in those few hours!

herne hill

This weekend has the best weather  I’ve experience since moving here. I was just planning on hanging at home on Saturday but I ended up going to Anne’s neighborhood of Herne Hill. She was kindly lending me a comforter for an upcoming friends visit. It was such good weather we ended up exploring her part of town. Gotta say it I like the area!

We walked around Brockwell Park, which was just what I needed. Big, green open spaces on a sunny day does wonders for my psyche. I really took for granted the blue, sunny skies of LA.

After strolling through some of the gardens, we then ate at the cafe at the Brockwell Lido’s – which I found out means swimming pool. Ordered a carrot cake and beet/apple juice. I don’t love beets but I had to get it since it reminded me of the daily beet smoothies my mom made our family at home.

With cute attached houses and a huge park, Herne Hill is also conveniently located next to the bustling Brixton.  It’s an area I wouldn’t rule out living in – quiet, but close to the action. And, it’s only 20 minutes from work.

We ended up eating dinner at Pop Brixton, where I again ordered Koi Ramen. It was super crowded since everyone was out with the nice weather, but we found a spot upstairs.

Ended the day with a cider at The Regent Prince – a local pub that I would totally go to again. Busy, but with enough space to sit down and have a conversation.