Sunday, November 18, 2012

Autumn in New York

"Autumn in New York". Does life get any better than this? Fall is my favorite season and we could not have asked for a better day walking through Central Park in NYC. Sunshine, fall foilage in full bloom, and family. It was a nice relaxing day leading up to our wedding the following weekend. 
Beautiful sunshine behind the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Pop & Joey
Making a wish
Me & Mom at the Bethesda Fountain
Strolling the Mall in Central Park. I felt like we were walking through a painting. What's better than this? Okay- perhaps Paris in Fall is a close second. :)

Friday, November 2, 2012

We're married--We zijn getrouwd!

Photo credit:  Heather Costa
It's official. Jaap and I are married! October 27, 2012 will be remembered as the best day of my life. A beautiful fall day on the Hudson River at Mount Gulian in Fishkill, NY. We're so grateful that everyone we love traveled near and far to celebrate with us. Having our Dutch family and friends there, who traveled from the Netherlands, meant so much to us. I felt like the luckiest girl in the world and I'm so excited to continue my "Adventures with Jaap" for many years to come. More about the wedding on another post.

Sadly enough, our wedding "high" has been grounded by the tragedy of Hurricane Sandy. Our vacation has been extended an extra week because of flight cancelations, but that's nothing. My hearts go out to everyone in the northeast especially people in NY, CT and NJ who have been affected by this storm. It's horrible and sad to see the city and region I love so much struggling during this scary time. Thankfully my parents have power back and all of our loved ones are safe. I only wish it was the same for the rest of the northeast. New Yorkers are tough, but please send these people some love. The last few days have made me feel extra lucky for what I have, especially my hubby. :)
Photo by my beautiful sister-in-law Annabelle Jansen-Bak
Thanks to my dear friend Heather Costa for posting this picture on FB. Visit her website at heathercosta.com. She's an amazing voice over artist! XOXO

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

In Bruges

Of all the places I have been, Bruges is still one of my favorites. This small medieval city is simply gorgeous. Jaap and I traveled there after Christmas 2010. It was nice to return and see the city with my friends who also appreciate good beer and chocolate! Go check out The Chocolate Line. It was recommended to us by a local. We were literally speechless.
We toured the De Halve Maan Brewery, sampled some brew, and afterwards walked through the Markt. The weather was freezing for August, but  we didn't care. We were so happy for all of us to be together. It was the perfect day.
On top of the brewery
I'm glad we got to do some new things that Jaap and I missed our first time Bruges. We enjoyed a nice boat cruise to see Bruges by boat all while trying to understand the commentary by the driver. Apparently he was speaking in English, but we couldn't make out anything. Still fun though.
And no trip to Bruges would be complete without some mussels. Lekker!!!!


Sunday, September 30, 2012

Monschau

When my friends from Boston were visiting us this summer we went to Monschau, Germany for a day. Maastricht is so close to Germany and being only 1.5 hours away, Monschau was the perfect little day trip for us. One of my German friends from Maastricht recommended it and it turned out to be everything that we were a hoping for. Monschau is what Americans picture quaint, little, German villages to be.
Michele strolling the path
We strolled through town, visited some cute little shops, drank German beer and wine, and ate some schnitzel. All with some of my best and dearest friends. What more could you ask for you?


Thursday, September 20, 2012

Musée de Rodin & Midnight in Paris

The Thinker
My friends and I watched Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris the night before we went to Paris. It totally set the tone for our trip. It gave us this exciting, romantic feeling before we even got there. We were inspired to visit the Rodin museum after watching the movie. Some of the scenes were filmed with The Thinker in Rodin's garden.
The Musée de Rodin was a little oasis in the middle of busy Paris. We arrived just 1.5 hours before closing time and enjoyed the quiet atmosphere exploring the grounds and Rodin's former place of residence. The museum houses a large collection of his work and his contemporaries. The house was beautiful, but seeing The Thinker in the garden was the best part.
Before heading back to our apartment in Montparnasse we enjoyed a late lunch with pasta salad and a huge glass of white wine. A nice quiet way to end our day of busy sightseeing

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

I miss Croatia

This is how we started each day in Dubrovnik. We'd wake up, prepare breakfast, and lounge on the balcony. We'd sit outside watching early morning swimmers floating in the a clear blue/green Lapad Bay as we sipped our tea. It was so peaceful. Not to mention delicious. I miss that yoghurt and honey.
Lekker!
I think it's impossible not to feel relaxed in this place. We stayed at a great apartment on Lapad Bay and only a 5 minute walk from the coast. Walking around the peninsula you can find tons of quiet, tranquil, shaded swimming coves.

We had some great afternoons in this little spot. It was perfect. Swimming access, no tourists, and lots of shade. We'd read for hours, lounging around, jumping into the water periodically to stay cool, and Jaap would listen to me talk about how much I love this country.
Jaap, my little fish
And a great way to end the day...some grilled squid. I had grilled squid almost every night. It was delicious and usually only 60 kunas. (That's about 8 euros). I wish I could eat like this in the Netherlands.

I'm longing for the Adriatic, another reason why I can't stop writing Croatia posts. So many good times and memories. Maybe I can squeeze one more post out of Croatia?! I'm still clinging to summer!

Friday, September 7, 2012

A night to remember at Chez Paul

Ile flottante- heaven in a bowl
When my friends from Boston came for a visit this summer, we went to Paris for several days. Living three hours from Paris is still my favorite thing about being in Maastricht. We tried to be French for four days. That was a challenge, considering that only two out of five us spoke French.  Nonetheless, we tried to enjoy the yummy aspects of French life. Croissants, wine, and lekker eten. (This is an American's interpretation of French life). You know you're in for a good time when you visit a country where wine is sometimes cheaper than water. 

We were on a mission for typical Parisian cuisine. I read about Chez Paul from my favorite foodie, David Lebovitz. He has a section on his website about some of his favorite places to eat in Paris. We have eaten at several of his restaurant suggestions now and they were all delicious and usually an experience to remember. Our night at Chez Paul tops them all. 
We came to Chez Paul in search of a true Parisian "bistro" experience. Wow. It exceeded our expectations. The food is simple, but delicious. Several quotes of the night, "This is the best cheese I have ever eaten....This is butter is to die for..." My ile flottante dessert was possibly the best thing I have ever eaten. The lightest meringue I have ever had, topped with a vanilla sauce. This is another reason that I am forever trying to lose 10-12 lbs. Oh well. That extra glass of Côtes du Rhône and meringue are totally worth it. 

In the spirit of our Parisian adventures, I have ordered Ernest Hemingway's A Moveable Feast. My friend Michele (who was with us in Paris) bought it at Shakespeare & Company while we were there. She said it's a great way to keep Paris with us. Cheers to that! 
Jaap's macaroon & strawberry dessert

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Game of Thrones Tour of Dubrovnik

Part of our stay in Dubrovnik involved our own Game of Thrones tour. It's one of our favorite T.V. shows and they filmed lots of the scenes from season 2 in Dubrovnik. Jaap is now working his way through the book series. In the amount of time that he's three Game of Thrones' books, I've managed to read through only 400 pages of my Salman Rushdie book for my book club summer read!
My book worm enjoying Game of Thrones
We visited two monasteries in Old Town, walked the city walls, took a day trip to Lokrum Island, and along the way tried to piece together scenes from one of favorite T.V. shows. 
King's Landing perhaps?
On our last day in Croatia, we visited Lokrum Island. It's a tiny island off the coast and a 10 minute boat ride from Dubrovnik. Lots of locals on the early morning boat heading to Lokrum for swimming. A good travel tip if you want to escape busy Dubrovnik.
We made it to Qarth!
We walked through this former Franciscan monastery piecing together scenes from Season 2's Qarth.
More of Qarth
Lokrum Island is also a nature reserve. The botanical garden has lots of plant life from all over the world. There was hardly anybody in the garden. Nice and quiet.
lizard
Olive tree grove
Lokrum's dead sea
The only inhabitants on Lokrum Island are tons of wild peacocks
It was a beautiful and quiet day exploring this nature reserve. Next time we'll bring our swimsuits for a quick dip!
King's Landing from afar