{April in Paris}

Well hello there blog land. Per usual I popped in quickly and then didn’t make a return anytime soon. Oops! I always have the best of intentions to give this space attention, but somehow it always gets pushed to the bottom of the neverending to-do list. If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter you already know that we bought a house (more on that later)! And that’s what’s been taking up all of our time on evenings and weekends. We’ve also taken a few fun trips to Los Angeles (to meet my adorable new nephew) and to Vancouver, B.C. (you know, because we were really missing using our passports!). I have so many photos from the past months and even year to share and I fully plan on getting them up here!
I’ll start by looking back on an amazing trip I took to Paris back in April. I got a call from one of my best friends at the beginning of the month telling me she will most likely be coming out to Amsterdam and Paris for work (we work at the same company, score!) and would I be interested in joining her in Paris? I mean, you just don’t say no to that! So even though we had just gotten back from South Africa and had many more trips planned that spring, I booked a train ticket to Paris for a weekend away with one of my dearest friends. We had an absolutely incredible time touring the city, eating delicious food and catching up after being oceans apart for far too long. These are memories I will cherish forever and ever.
A few highlights from our trip:
-Hot chocolate at Angelina — how did it take me four visits to Paris before I made it here? You can’t miss it if you’re planning a trip!
-Brunch at Cafe de Flore – a Parisian institution. Amazing people watching!
-Dinner at Le Coupe Chou (not pictured, but trust me it’s incredible!)
-And of course, pink champage and sweet treats at Laduree – as girly as it gets!

{Photos © Liz Denfeld Photography}

{Checking In}

Well, after several comments from friends and family about my lack of blogging, I finally decided it might be time to check in! It’s hard to believe we’ve already been back home in Portland for a month (as of tomorrow!). I am happy to say that my reason for not blogging isn’t just because we’ve been busy catching up with people, but also just because we’ve spent a good portion of time just being lazy and getting settled into life in Portland! Corey are I have both been back at work for a while now (took a whopping 3 days off!) and have been living between my in-laws’ house and my mama’s house. We’re currently searching for a place of our own and hoping to be out of the parent’s house by the end of the summer. But I can’t complain about living rent-free and having dinner cooked for us when we get home each night. Yeah, we’re pretty spoiled at the moment!
A lot of people have been asking if we miss Amsterdam. Mostly, I must admit we’re just happy to be home. Everything feels so familiar and comfortable. But there are certainly times my heart aches for those canals or our perfect apartment where we made such amazing memories. There will always be a big, special place in my heart for Amsterdam.
So what have we been up to? Lounging by the pool, eating lots of home-cooked meals, venturing downtown for dinner + drinks with friends, welcoming our new nephew Ryder into the world, and working on checking things off our summer to-do list. Time is flying!
I have an overwhelming amount of travel posts to blog (some even going back as far as Switzerland in December!) and I can’t wait to get back to it. I keep telling myself this week is the week I’m going to get back to blogging. And somehow it just doesn’t happen. I know I just need to make it a priority! I’ve just been having too much fun being lazy 🙂 So bear with me… I’ll be blogging regularly again soon…
Hope you’re all doing well out there! I’ve so appreciated the few emails and comments I’ve gotten from those saying they miss my posts. It makes me feel so good, you have no idea! And a little guilty, but mostly just really good. I miss you guys and can’t wait to be a regular blogger again soon! Thanks for hanging in there with me! Below you’ll find a bunch of iPhone photos from the last month at home!

{South Africa: Days Five & Six}

Hello, hello! It’s been a while, hasn’t it? Well, the good news is I wasn’t eaten by a lion 🙂
We got back from our safari 8 days ago. I can’t believe we’ve already been back so long.

I want to continue on with a couple short posts giving a general overview of each day of our stay in SA, then I’ll do some more detailed posts on where we stayed, our itinerary, restaurant suggestions, the whole deal. I’ve already gotten several requests for a detailed itinerary to follow, so I will definitely be working on that!!

On our fifth day in Cape Town we finally got to take things a little slower. We slept in a bit and then made our way up to Table Mountain. We booked our tickets on the gondola ahead of time as we’ve heard the lines can get pretty long. Luckily there weren’t any lines at all! Cape Town is just full of amazing views. We didn’t think we’d be up at the top of the mountain long, but of course we ended up taking our time walking around and enjoying the scenery. It was a warm and beautiful day! 

Later that day we ventured over to Camp’s Bay – the more “posh” beachside area in Cape Town. We strolled along the beach as we got lost trying to find our restaurant and wished we would have come down earlier and spent the day soaking up the sun (took note for next time!). We ended up getting appetizers and cocktails and watching the sunset at The Bungalow. I must admit, while it was a nice experience, it wasn’t really our scene. One of our friends had told us it was very “South of France”, but I would have gone further to say it was more Miami. I felt a little out of place, but it wasn’t anything a couple drinks couldn’t fix 🙂 We ended up seeing a beautiful sunset and having tons of fun. 

On our sixth day in Cape Town we checked out of our amazing hotel (can’t wait to tell you more about it!), and drove an hour outside of the city to wine country! We didn’t even make time to drop our bags at our guest house as we had lunch reservations we could not be late for! Going into this trip we actually had a lot of recommendations. A meal at Maison was at the top of our friend’s list, so we booked weeks in advance to make sure we wouldn’t miss out. The second we stepped in we understood why they had said it was their favorite meal of their entire trip. Everything was flawless. The decor, the service, the food, the wine, the grounds. My my my. We ended up spending a good 3+ hours there just making ourselves at home and contemplating never leaving (maybe they wouldn’t find us if we hid in their awesome bathrooms?). It was an afternoon to remember. There will definitely be more to come on this place! 

After checking into our cute little guest house in Franschhoek we made our way to Dieu Donne Vineyards to enjoy the view (and a glass of wine of course). I wish my camera could have captured the insane beauty of the landscape. It literally took my breath away. We were so excited to be in wine country and couldn’t wait for a full day of tasting the following day! 
 {Photos © Liz Denfeld Photography}

{Madrid: Around Town}

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When we moved to Europe we made a huge list of cities we wanted to visit while we were living abroad. The list was long. Way too long to accomplish seeing all these beautiful places in two years. We’ve put a dang good dent in those cities, but there are still many on our list. One that wasn’t on our list? Madrid.
To be honest, as an American, you hear way more about Barcelona than you do about Madrid. And I remember a year and a half ago when we researched Madrid for a quick weekend away, we realized there really weren’t any notable sites we felt like we had to see, so we scratched it off our list.
Well, then Nicole moved to Madrid and she raved about how incredible it was – even saying it was more amazing than Barcelona. I trust that girl’s opinion, so a few months after she moved Corey and I booked a quick weekend visit. I am so glad we did. Madrid isn’t about any specific sites, it’s just about being a big beautiful city packed with charm, beautiful architecture and really good Italian food (What! I know, strange, but true.). We so enjoyed our weekend in Madrid and only wished it would’ve been a teensy bit warmer (but when do we not wish that?!). Hanging out with Nicole is always such a treat! And what’s not to love about having a personal city guide?! She showed us all the best parts of her new home. Here are some snaps from all around town. I hope they give you an idea of just how gorgeous Madrid is!
P.S. A few travel tips below the photos if you’re looking for Madrid suggestions 🙂
 {If you find yourself in Madrid – here are a few places we suggest you don’t miss (many pictured above!): Retiro Park, Mercado de San Miguel, Chocolateria San Gines (for the most amazing churros – be prepared to wait in line), Plaza de Oriente, al fresco lunch at Cafe de Oriente, Plaza Mayor, Vertical Garden at CaixaForum followed by coffee and a treat at the Vertical Cafe, Templo de Debod, and my biggest tip of all (thanks to Nicole), dinner at Piccolo Diavolo – get the pasta with pear and ricotta. I know it sounds crazy, and we were totally skeptical, but Nicole convinced us it was the best thing she’s ever eaten, and goodness was she right. We returned the next night to have that dish!}
{We stayed here. We found the location to be great, the price to be fantastic, and the place was comfortable and cute}

{High Tea}

\\ high tea \\
n. Chiefly British
A fairly substantial meal that includes tea and is served in the late afternoon or early evening.
——
High tea happens to be one of my favorite things about Europe. It’s a concept I know exists in the U.S., but nobody really practices. But in England it’s, like, a totally real thing. People really do drink that much tea and eat cute little sandwiches and a good helping of cake. Can you imagine a more wonderful way to spend an afternoon than by sipping tea out of perfect vintage china teacups, nibbling on tasty puff pastries and sandwiches, and devouring five pieces of cake? Well, that’s exactly what my good friend Jeanelle and I did on New Years Eve day. It was wonderfully girly and the perfect way to catch up after both of our Swiss Christmases. Ah, we live a charmed life (when we’re not getting stuck on Dutch trains and commuting 2-3 hours a day… but we’ll forget about that for a second!). My goal is to make it to the Orangery in London next time we’re there (who knows when that will be – but it’s only a 50 minute flight, so I’d say sooner than later! Plus, I need to meet these girls when they get here!). It looks right up my alley.

Have any of you experienced high tea? Do you love it? Clearly I do 😉

P.S. Jeanelle and I had high tea at this most adorable place in The Hague – Bloem. We highly recommend it!



{Photos © Liz Denfeld Photography}

{Weekending}

With a very busy travel itinerary on the horizon, we are soaking up this relaxing weekend at home in Amsterdam. This morning we slept in, spent a lazy morning laying in bed drinking coffee and reading (well, I was lazy, Corey went for a run…), and then headed out for brunch at one of our favorite spots, Le Pain Quotidien. The best part of the morning was running into our good friends Carly and Marcus (who are moving to Portland in a few weeks!) – so brunch for two turned into brunch for four, and it was just perfect! 
Another plus for this wonderful Saturday is that temperatures are back above freezing (for now), so I took advantage and left my big black puffer at home and wore my favorite leather jacket instead. Paired with a cozy sweater and my wedge sneakers, it was the perfect match for a put-together yet casual weekend look, if I do say so myself! What do you think about wedged sneakers? Would you wear them? They’re all the rage here in Europe!
Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!!
{Leather Jacket: Mom, Sweater: Zara, Scarf: Urban Outfitters (old), Skinny Jeans: Paige Premium Denim, Wedge Sneakers: Nike, Hat: Tie Rack}
 
{Photos © Liz Denfeld Photography}

{Our Two Year Wedding Anniversary}

Happy Monday everyone! How are you all doing? It’s been snowing buckets in Amsterdam and it’s been causing all sorts of chaos – with trains and planes – and worst of all.. with me! I guess biking in 23-degree weather was a bit ambitious for me, because this weekend I came down with a nasty bug that has me bed-ridden today. Husband is taking great care of me and it’s not so bad having a beautiful snowy view out the window. I just wish I could go outside and enjoy the wintery white weather!
Speaking of the huz… Corey and I are creeping up on two and a half years of marriage! Now, I know that’s not a super long time, but what I will say is boy does time fly!! I feel like we just celebrated our two-year anniversary, which I realized I never blogged about!
While I wish we could’ve done something extravagant and luxurious to celebrate our wedding anniversary, I was flying out to Portland the next day and work was crazy busy at the time, so we settled on a romantic dinner at a gorgeous restaurant. We got dressed up and headed to De Kas. This place is so awesome. It sits on the edge of a lush city park in Amsterdam and is probably the coolest looking restaurant we’ve ever eaten in. It also happens to be one of those super fancy restaurants that doesn’t really have a menu. Each day the chef has a three-course dinner planned that consists of three small starters, a main course and dessert. The best part is everything is made with local, fresh ingredients grown in the restaurant’s very own nursery.  We decided to fancy things up even more and get the wine pairings with dinner. The whole things was a fun and special experience and the perfect way to celebrate two years of wedded bliss. Here are a few photos from the occasion.
And P.S. Yes, our wedding anniversary was in August and yes I am wearing tights and a blazer… Why? Because there is no summer in Amsterdam. Yeah, I guess you could say I’m bitter about it 🙂

 {Photos ©  Liz Denfeld}

{Fancy Up Date Night!}

Corey and I love dinner and a movie as much as the next couple, but we’re always looking for fun ways to change up date nights. A couple weekends ago we decided to buy tickets for a beautiful cello show that was playing at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam – it’s a stunning venue known for it’s great acoustics. We thought it’d be a fun excuse to get dressed up and do something different. We had a delicious dinner and shared a bottle of red at this cute italian place just blocks from the concert hall. Once arriving for the show, we realized a free glass of wine came with our tickets – score! The fun continued! We finally sat down to enjoy the beautiful music of Amber Doctors on the cello. It was a night to remember! Here are a couple tips for classin’ up your next date night – enjoy!

 {Photos ©  Liz Denfeld}

{Bruges, Belgium: Part I}

Last week my sister Anna came to Amsterdam to visit us! Having family in town is the greatest. Her trip was pretty quick – too quick (she arrived Wednesday evening and left this morning) – but we managed to take a fun excursion to Bruges on Friday. It’s a 4 hour train ride from Amsterdam (which includes switching trains in Antwerp) and it is completely worth the journey. 

Bruges is pretty much a smaller, cleaner, more fairy-tale-like version of Amsterdam. It is speckled with adorable canals, quaint cobblestone streets and stunning architecture. And don’t even get me started on the waffles, chocolates, frites and beer! So many ways to indulge in Bruges! I know it’s not Paris, but if you have the chance to visit someday, I know you wouldn’t regret it! 
{Photos ©  Liz Denfeld}

{A Relaxing Day in Positano}

Vacations to the south of Italy should be all about relaxation. We put it at the top of our list.
Our favorite way to relax in Positano was to rent lounge beds on the beach (10 EUR/each for the day – worth every penny!) and just lay in the sun for hours.
It didn’t hurt that our view was the gorgeous cliffside hotels and residences of Positano – stunning!
We laid there for hours, only getting up to break for lunch.
There are a few cute and yummy places right in Spiaggia Grande (the beach), but on this day we decided we wanted to lunch with a view (so spoiled we are!), so we hiked up the hill 15 minutes or so to Cafe Positano.
It provided stunning views for a leisurely lunch.
Then we headed back down to our sunbeds that were waiting patiently for us.
Ah, take me back!

{Photos ©  Liz Denfeld}