Bye LA, Hello Amsterdam!

 

There is a word in Dutch called gezellig, and it's kind of a big deal here. It translates roughly to "cozy," but it really describes everything that makes a space warm and charming— good company, pleasant ambiance, an upbeat atmosphere. I'm not sure exactly what they're doing to create it, but the feeling was almost palpable everywhere we went. In the brickwork on the buildings, charming little storefronts with red doors and flowerpots on the windowsills, and lots of dark wood interiors— they have gezellig down to a science.

It's this aesthetic value that makes Amsterdam so damn charming. Even though it was SO cold (at least for us Angelenos) when we got there, I was absolutely in love— the narrow brick buildings, bright red doors and shutters, the canals dotted with adorable houseboats along the side— I could not get enough. I think I may have more than 100 canal pictures from our five days there. Ha! 

I realize it's weird to photograph someone's doorstep, but they just make them so precious here! I tried to be subtle, but to whoever's doorstep this is: thank you and keep being fabulous. 

Fondel Park is one of Amersterdam's most beloved parks. It's in the city center and surrounded by tall brick buildings, but still very lush— and all these little blue-green bridges are straight out of a fairy tale. 

Cobble stone: difficult to walk on, always picturesque. Same thing with brick. Both Paris and Amsterdam have this figured out.

There is a little museum in the Jordaan neighborhood dedicated exclusively to cheese. Then, of course, you must purchase cheese on your way out. I mean, it's not a requirement… but let's be real, cheese was purchased. 

There is another little museum located near the cheese museum that is dedicated entirely to tulips and their place in Dutch history. 

People really put effort into their front steps here. I couldn't get enough of these pretty railings and doors, painted different shades of red and blue. And bikes are basically locked to everything. Somehow they make that look nice too.

We were in awe of the Rijks Museum and all the masterpieces it  holds.  Through colonization and cultural exchange during the Dutch Golden Age— they have a lot of good stuff. Exploring this museum was such an adventure— it could take up to a full day or several to fully explore it, but it's definitely worthwhile.  

Guys, Indonesian Food… what?! Apparently it is all the rage in Amsterdam, so we had to go. How have I NEVER tried this in my life before? Adam and I ordered this inspired thing called a "rice table" that comes with about 15 little dishes, both meat and veg, and rice. They had some items I recognized from Thai cuisine, like satay, and others for which I had absolutely no reference point. Everything was amazing. We ate way too much. No regrets here. 

Canal tours: cheesy but worth it for the intimate view of the city and just to be on these beautiful canals. 

Oh man, Amsterdam is so picturesque at night, especially with all their holiday lights still up. My photos are not even doing it justice. 

More tulips… because they love their tulips here. 

Dutch markets are incredible.  We went to several, including their biggest: Albert Cuypt Market. They have incredible produce, cheese (that's a given), stroop waffles (also a given), and lots of interesting housewares— some vintage, like the above. It's one of many moments you realize Amsterdam is the design capital of the world: good design is very accessible here. 

Have you been to amsterdam? what did you love/what should we check out next time we visit? 

Bye LA, Bonjour Paris [Part II]

 

Here is the second and final installment of our Paris photos! I have more pics, but honestly, I can't make another one of these Paris posts without dropping everything and moving there. Some of my more well traveled friends actually rent an apartment in Paris for a few months out of the year, and I feel like that's going to be one of our next adventures when we have the time and budget (or at least can justify both). I am definitely not an expert traveller, but I feel like Paris really lends itself to this kind of experience— the city's markets are super high quality and cost effective (much more so than dining out here, which we found to be even pricier than anywhere in the US we've been) and each of the neighborhoods are so full of personality that you wouldn't get bored spending most of your time in one place. 

^How can you not fall in love with a door like this? How?!^ 

On our last day in Paris, we went to the ^Marché des Enfants Rouges^ in what quickly became my favorite neighborhood, the Marais. This market is more about prepared foods from different cultures (see below) than groceries. If I wasn't in love with the food in Paris before, this little market sealed the deal. 

You guys, Moroccan food!! Am I just really late catching on to this? And where can I get this in Los Angeles?! Please do share if you know any spots because this stuff is honestly amazing. This ^chicken tagine^ was like a savory, sweet, briny, warm-cinnamon hug. 

Sorry. I was going to post like four more pics of our meal, but I realize it's getting too intimate. Food porn pics are very personal, and I get that. 

We reserved almost a whole day for Paris' modern art museum, the Centre Pompidou, and I'm so glad we did. Not only was ^the view^ absolutely stunning, but their permanent collection rocks! We had to break for lunch in the middle because there was just too much to see! 

One of my happy places, standing in front of a ^giant Kandisky.^

I will never get enough ^Pollock.^

I will also never get enough ^shawarma.^

One of our nights in Paris, we decided to wander aimlessly through the city, starting at the Boulevard du Montparnasse. Somehow we ended up in the Latin Quarter, so I jumped at the chance to see the famous ^Shakespeare and Co.^ bookstore. It is the tiniest little shop ever, but crammed with an expertly curated selection. They don't let you snap photos inside (really, it is too small and crowded to even hold your camera properly), so all I have is this one I snapped while we were waiting to get in.

Oh, Paris at night. I mean... right?!