amsterdam recap & recs.

I can’t believe how fast these past 3 months flew by. My journey abroad came to an end faster than I could’ve ever imagined. For my last weekend trip in Europe, my friend Micah and I decided to head over to Amsterdam.

We flew from Sevilla into Eindhoven, then hopped on a train into Amsterdam to stay for 3 nights. This ended up being under $200, which is pretty good for a super last-minute trip. I have to say, as much as I am not ready to go home, I will NOT miss the hell that is low-budget European airlines. I’m about you, RyanAir.

We stayed at the coziest Airbnb in a perfect location - the neighborhood was quiet but central and walkable to all of Amsterdam’s top spots. The apartment was clean and simple, and we had the authentic experience of having a dutch staircase - which, if you didn’t know - are impossibly steep, winding, and nearly impossible to navigate after a drink or two (or a space cake…) I shared most of my Amsterdam finds on my Instagram stories and received some great feedback and responses about the cafes, shops, and sights. I always think about going back someday.

 

What to Do

Art Canal Light Tour - we found this on Airbnb experiences and totally recommend for a nighttime activity! You'll get onto a comfy houseboat, equipped with blankets, mulled wine, Dutch snacks, and guides that navigate you comfortably through the canals. While cruising through the canals you'll see light art installations of the Light Festival.

De Pindakaaswinkel (the Peanut Butter Bar) - stumbled upon this gem! They make fresh peanut butter and it comes in so many flavors including coconut, coffee, stroopwaffel, even spicy chili. You can make your own if you're feeling up for it, but I just got 3 mini jars. Downstairs is a candy store where you can sample delicious chocolate too. You really can't go wrong with pb & chocolate.

Wake Me Up When I'm Famous Bench - this bench located in De Pijp makes for a fun photo-op. No one was there when we went, and the neighborhood is quiet and hip. Definitely head to Rainbowls after (keep reading).

Anne Frank House - unfortunately we couldn't get tickets to the Anne Frank house. We tried and tried, but it was sold out and we couldn't even get the reserve tickets released every morning. If you are planning on going to Amsterdam, buy tickets to the Anne Frank house as far in advance as possible.

Bloemenmarkt - prepare to have your mind blown by the floating flower shops of Bloemenmarkt. It's so colorful, and you can find an incredible variety of flowers and gardening goods. Of course, the Netherlands are known for their tulips! Here you can buy bulbs, seeds, and gifts. Even if you aren't planning on buying any flowers, it's an awesome tourist experience.

Boerejongens Coffeeshop - It's not a cafe. It's a coffeeshop... Listen, we all know it's legal in Amsterdam. Not SAYING I did it, but if you ARE going to do it, this is the spot. Clean, upscale, simple. Not that I know or anything...

Rocycle - one of the nicest cycling studios I've been to! The class was taught in English, and the staff were all welcoming. They had a nice smoothie/juice bar inside too.

Where to Eat

Rainbowls -  the most instagram-worthy smoothie bowl of your life. I promise. They have plenty of vegan-friendly fare, really good coffees and homemade tea too. I loved that everything was served in coconut bowls or with bamboo straws. This spot attracts tourists and locals alike, but it was in De Pijp, which is a bit outside of the busiest sections. I got a bowl and a tea - we came back twice because it was the perfect spot to recharge halfway through a busy day!

Pluk - if you are looking for a cozy breakfast spot, Pluk will surely satisfy. It's decked out with white, pink, avocados, and everything millennial. There are two locations, we preferred the one on Berenstraat. They have baked goods along with a menu full of healthy bowls, sandwiches, and typical breakfast foods. I got the Double Paradise Bowl, and Micah got the Eggs Benedict. They also sell pretty kitchenware and goodies of all sorts.

Polaberry - a teeeny tiny compact shop with gorgeous Belgian chocolate covered strawberries, cake pops, sweets & espresso drinks. I loved how carefully crafted the chocolate treats were, they were little works of art! Not to mention, sooo delicious. We split a box of 4 strawberries which was perfect for the two of us. I liked the dark chocolate crunch one.

O Mai - between the rainy and chilly weather and the lack of decent Asian food in Spain, we were elated to find this Vietnamese restaurant and enjoy some pho. The restaurant was reasonably priced, the staff were friendly, and they had a lotttt of options. Definitely not your traditional Dutch experience, but it hit the spot.

Van Wonderen - stroopwafel time. I read online somewhere that Van Wonderen was a tourist spot, so it may be a little pricier than your average stroopwafel, but they were made fresh and were absolutely delicious. We got regular sized stroopwafels with toppings, and a bag of minis to snack on. I also got my mom a tin to bring home to the U.S., and she loved them, along with the beautiful tin. While there are probably more authentic stroopwafel shops around Amsterdam, we had a great experience at Van Wonderen.

 

Where to Shop

The three shops I've listed were on The Nine Streets - De 9 Straatjes. This part of the Centrum has the best shopping, all in 9 little streets in Amsterdam canal belt. There are so many beautiful shops there, and you can spend the entire afternoon exploring, but the ones I chose to highlight stood out to me.

Ko - this concept store has so many fun odds and ends that make for great souvenirs. The items sold are carefully selected and range from clothes to home decor, from toys to books. Everything is color coordinated, creative, and original. I found really cool music themed tarot cards!

l'Étoile Luxury Vintage - such an awesome shop full of pre-loved designer bags and accessories. They have Louis Vuitton, Prada, Dior, Fendi, and more. Some come with original boxes too - and from what I saw, items are reasonably priced. If you aren't planning on going to Amsterdam anytime soon, you should check out their website.

My Jewellry - this boutique sells sooo much jewelry, in every trendy design you can imagine. I got a pair of earrings and a cuff, but I wish I bought more. They also had cute clothes - mesh tops, funky handbags, dresses, you name it! The girls working were really sweet and helpful. I wish they shipped to the U.S. because I would totally order more.

 

I will most certainly be back someday. Hopefully soon. XO & HAPPY NEW YEARS!

 

 

study abroad q&a

Hello, hola, bonjour, good day!

A few days ago I asked on my Instagram stories for any questions about my experience studying abroad. If you are new, welcome! I am just finishing up my first semester of my senior year of college. I spent a wonderful semester at La Universidad de Sevilla in Sevilla, Spain.  I took classes taught in English and Spanish, mainly focused on culture and arts.

LET’S JUMP INTO THE QUESTIONS

Top 3 styles/trends abroad?

I love this question. The style in Spain, and in Europe in general, is just so fun. My balcony was directly across from a boutique – they were constantly changing the displays. Spanish fashion is constantly changing. I was quick to jump on board with some of the fashion trends I saw girls wearing here… seriously.  During my first week here I bought one of these bags – they sell them at a ton of boutiques in Los Remedios.

Another trend I’m a huge fan of is platform converse. I noticed a lot of girls wearing them here! Black, white, high top, low top… I ordered a pair to my American address. They’re way more expensive in the stores here.  And my third favorite fashion trend that I’ve totally fallen in love with is cropped flare jeans. I bought way more than I’m proud to admit, from Mango and Zara. 

Any customs/lifestyles you want to bring back to the U.S.?

I love how relaxed the Spanish lifestyle is. The work-life balance is incredible and something I would really appreciate. The shops in my neighborhood, and many throughout the city, close for a few hours daily for siesta. Sundays, everything is closed besides a select few shops and pharmacies. I wish we placed greater importance on relaxation and family time in the United States.  The neighborhood I lived in had a lot of families. I’d often see kids of all ages, even young adults, holding hands with a parent or grandparent when walking. Every time I saw this, I felt my heart grow a little bit, I swear. I wish we would see it more in the US. 

things you missed (besides Logan Porter)?

Logan Porter! Oh wait… okay.  Ah, this is hard, I didn’t really miss much. I missed eating dinner early – 8:30-10PM is the norm here. I was pretty quick to adapt to this though.  Another thing I missed was going to a department store to get all my errands run at once. Here, I would go to a market for groceries, a pharmacy for health products, and a special store for school supplies. I didn’t necessarily mind this, but it’s surely less convenient.

Did you ever get lost?

In Sevilla, no. It took me about five days to understand the layout of the city. It’s a really comfortable size, and you can do everything by foot. Besides going to and from the airport. 

Favorite Spanish food?

I have eaten some damn good bread here in Spain. My favorite dish to get out is a tapa, espinacas con garbanzo. It’s a traditional spanish tapa of cooked spinach with chickpeas, sometimes served with an egg on top. I can’t wait to make this for my family at home… I also really enjoyed gazpacho during the beginning of the semester when it was more seasonal. 

Favorite city you visited?

My favorite city besides Sevilla would have to be Lisbon. I loved it so much and can see myself spending part of my life out there. I loved the size of the city, the culture/diversity, the hills, the tiles, and the art. 

I also really loved Rome, I wish I got to see more of Italy. It felt like home, the food was amazing, and I just love the Italian language and culture. This is a great segway to the next question…

Best food you ate abroad?

So easy. This gelato from Giolitti in Rome.

We ended up going twice.  My friends and I ran in the rain from our Airbnb, and it was worth getting soaked. We walked up to the counter in the dark, romantic gelateria, and each got a ticket for a small gelato.  “Piccolo, per favore”. With the ticket, we headed to the back where the gelato is served. There were easily over thirty different flavors, with a good amount of dairy free options. They also had boozy gelatos, a full bakery, and a bar.

The first night I got a scoop of dairy free dark chocolate and a scoop of dairy free pomegranate. I had every intention of respecting my stomach but then the man behind the counter asked if I wanted the fresh cream on top. I remembered my professor telling me to try the fresh cream, and I knew I had to. It was so worth it. This picture speaks for itself, I think. 

We went back the next day and I got a scoop of lemon and a scoop of blueberry. No dairy this day… one night of an upset stomach was enough. I wish my mom was there because she would have LOVED it. Especially the lemon. 

Advice for picking a city to study in?

It’s funny because I don’t really know how I stumbled upon Sevilla. I was originally thinking Madrid, but I knew I needed a smaller Spanish city. I didn’t really consider any others, I just saw Sevilla on the list and thought “This sounds good!” I recommend doing research about things that are important to you and your study abroad program. For instance, check out the climate, the cost of living, the classes offered, the safety, and the accessibility. 

Did you get homesick?

Shockingly, not really. I was too busy to really think about home. I expected to be terribly homesick the whole time. I adapted well, but I did feel homesick here and there. I spent my first weekend abroad in Madrid, and the culture shock made me want to go home. A few days later, I adjusted, but it was overwhelming for sure. I’d say that I felt more “ready to be back” than homesick. I felt this way after Rob visited and when the holiday season began. I still wish I could be here longer though… 3 months was NOT enough. 

Hardest cultural difference?

Personal space, or lack thereof. OMG. Personal space does not exist at all in Spain. AT ALL!!!

Best city to shop in?

I did most of my shopping in Sevilla, mainly because I was taking weekend trips with low-cost airlines that didn’t permit additional luggage. However, I would have to say Paris. So many good luxury high end stores, and cool boutiques. Also – there were some really good vintage shops here too. 

I answered the main questions that I thought would be beneficial for anyone planning on traveling abroad to know! I’m always a comment or email away if you have any burning questions about my experience abroad, haha. I love answering questions so this was fun! All the best, 

Juliette XO

things I don’t want to forget

About halfway through my semester abroad I created section in my journal called “Things I don’t want to forget.'' Here, I jot down a few words about encounters or things I see that only last a few seconds - but I never want to forget them.

I figured I’d share some of these little things with you.

Spanish people wear a LOT of cologne. Like, an amount that some would consider upsetting… but I love it. I’ve always been a fan of strong perfume and cologne. I appreciate it most when I’ve just walked through someone’s cloud of cigarette smoke, then an old man wearing way too much Giorgio Armani walks by - it cancels it out.

Mandarines. It’s become a habit of mine to grab some fruit from my local Carrefour market for dessert everyday. I am obsessed with these Moroccan mandarin oranges that are so incredibly juicy. They are the perfect balance of citrusy and sweet, and the skin peels off so easily. Anywho, I went to Carrefour on a Sunday afternoon and they had a pack of 5 mandarines for 1 euro since they were getting fresh produce the next day. I ate all five of them that evening. I don’t think I could ever get sick of them.

Sweet barista remembered me. I ran to this little local cafe near Alameda one morning, ordered an americano, and ran back. The barista was really kind - not overly, but was happy to whip me up some hot-bean-juice. I ran back two weeks later and our encounter went like this:
“buenos dias!”

“hola, buenos dias!”

“Un americano?”

(smiling and surprised he remembered) “si por favor!”

I went back a third time and he still remembered me. I like him.

 

Wish, the springer spaniel. Some friends and I were lying in the grass in a park outside of Lisbon, and this beautiful dog was frolicking nearby. We ended up petting it and chatting with the owner. The dogs name was Wish, and I thought that was so freaking sweet. And she was so well behaved!

Tree wearing a sweater. On a guided tour through Lisbon, we ended up in this neighborhood called Alfama that had a tiny square surrounded by tiled buildings and a few cafes. In the center stood a massive tree whose trunk was wrapped by a brightly colored knitted blanket. In this same neighborhood, artists created an exhibit on the walls of an alley with portraits of the elderly who have lived there their whole lives. The art in Alfama was so unique and unconventional… my favorite type of art.

Massive fruit spread in Rome. When I was in Rome, I asked my friend Regina who studied there for her favorite spots around the city. She was thrilled to recommend this spot called Ginger, specifically for their beautiful fruit platters. My friends and I ordered a medium fruit platter to share with our breakfast, and I swear it might be just as beautiful as the world famous Roman art we had seen. The mango was mouth watering, and passionfruit and papaya were so fresh and flavorful. I have to say, it was so nice to get some fresh fruit after living on pizza and pasta all weekend. Fiber, yay!

Birds in the cafe. We stayed at an Airbnb steps away from the Pantheon, and decided to check out some nearby cafes for affogati and cannoli. We sat towards the back of this brightly lit cafe, enjoying our bitter Italian espresso and the most decadent cannoli I’ve ever had. All of the sudden we see a pigeon land on the ground by our table. The Italian waiter did a loud *CLAP*, and like magic the bird flew straight out the front doors.

 

Erotic books in the bathroom. My friend Savannah brought us to the bookstore Shakespeare and Company, right by the Notre Dame. The bookstore is every bibliophile’s dream, and the cafe was a dream too. In the bathroom there was a glass cabinet above the toilet showcasing a collection of erotic books and magazines as decor - nothing too graphic - and I decided I’m gonna copy this in my future home.

Nirvana jacket. While sitting outside of Shakespeare and company with Savannah and Nora, we spotted this adorable gal wearing a denim jacket with an embroidery of Nirvana’s In Utero on the back. It was the coolest jacket ever, so I flagged her over. Luckily we spoke the same language, and she told us about the shop she bought it from in London for 15 Pounds! The girl and her friend were studying abroad in Florence and had been spending the weekend in Paris. They were really sweet. But damn, I want that jacket so badly.

Twinkling lights. Paris reminds me a lot of NYC, only more spread out and more sparkly. We saw the Eiffel Tower sparkle (it does it on the hour every evening!) and while walking to meet my friend Marisa and her family for dinner, I saw so many more twinkling lights lining the streets and restaurants. I see why they call it the city of lights.

Feeling at home. I spent some time with one of my best friends from home, who happened to be in Paris visiting her family. It was the most heartwarming thing ever being able to catch up with such a special soul in such a different environment. Her family was so incredibly welcoming too - her aunt and uncle invited me to their home for the night and made some delicious meals. I was lucky enough to go to the Paris Saint-Germain vs Lille game with them, which was a blast. We also went to an outdoor market on a rainy Saturday morning where local vendors sell fruits, vegetables, fish & meat, and pastries. We got chicken and potatoes to feast on for lunch… then Lebanese food for dinner… I ate so well that weekend haha.

OUTFIT/MY DAY

Hey friends! I’m currently writing to you from one of my favorite coffee shops here in Sevilla… If you ever are in the area, check out Caótica. It’s right by Las Setas - the first floor is a cafeteria where you can enjoy a coffee, a glass of wine, or snack (the best carrot cake you will ever put in your mouth). There are three more floors above fully stocked with books, mostly in Spanish and some English. Plus, they always play The Strokes and Amy Winehouse.

I took these pictures with my friend Micah the other day! I really loved this outfit. There’s something about wearing a short floral dress and stomping around in some boots that is so liberating. I actually got this dress from Forever 21 a few hours before boarding my flight from Boston to Madrid. The waist is super flattering and you can either tie it at the neck or wear it open! Tied is super chic and feels super European haha.

The boots are from Zara. I was shopping last week with my friend Savannah, and saw these boots but put them back on the shelf. As I was about to check out, I had a sudden (and overwhelmingly dramatic) change of heart. They are so comfortable to walk around in, they add an inch or two of height, and they make me feel like the coolest punk rock gal in town.

I wanted to share a day in my life here in Sevilla, so here it goes. Today is Thursday, and I don’t have Friday classes, so it’s essentially my last *productive* day before the weekend haha.

7:30 Wake up call… I went to bed fairly early last night so I naturally woke up around 7:30. I stumble into the kitchen and grab my mason jar of coffee from the fridge. I made it last night so I could have an iced coffee before my run… I might be the world’s next genius.

8:15 Caffeinated, teeth brushed, time to run. I ran 3.5 miles this morning, I usually try to hit 4 but I ran pretty late yesterday so I gave myself a little break. I should also start measuring in kilometers now that I’m in Europe. I looove running in the cobblestone streets here - I think it helps my balance. It’s so magical to be running at this time too. The sun had just risen, people are commuting to work, and I get this sacred hour to myself. To sweat, to fly through the winding streets, and to take it all in. I always spend about 15-20 minutes stretching by the river.

10:30 Just showered and threw on my jeans and boots, put my notebook and favorite pen in my bag, and left. I start classes late on Tuesdays/Thursdays, so I like to get food beforehand - usually a late breakfast. Today I went to MilkAway, which is a smoothie/sandwich shop. Everything is super fresh and there’s a ton of vegetarian/vegan options. They also had jars of peanut butter and almond butter for sale for a couple of euros which is unheard of around here.

I journaled hardcore, eavesdropped on people’s conversations, and enjoyed my pitaya smoothie until the last sip.

12:00 I start heading towards my school, the weather is beautiful. I stopped by one of my favorite kiosks and got a bag of peanuts for 1 euro,  those have been my go-to snack here. Once I get to the university, I found a bench and layed down to read… currently enjoying Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks. Yes he also writes, yes he’s an amazing writer. I layed on this bench for a while eating peanuts and sharing them with the pigeons. It’s funny, everyone here feeds the pigeons. They’re loved too. They’re also way prettier than NYC pigeons…

1:00 / 13:00 I sit down in my History/Mythology class - my only class of the day. I will be the first to admit I have the biggest crush on my professor. We had a lesson planned about the Romans but we ended up spending the full hour and 45 minutes talking about flamenco, Rosalia, gyspy culture, and appropriation. It was incredible.

15:30 I walk towards Caótica with Savannah to meet up with Micah and get some homework done. There is a weekend market by Las Setas, and they have a massive tent where a woman is selling every sort of dried fruit you can imagine, as well as chocolates, baklava, and other goodies weighed per kilo. I told my friend yesterday I was craving dried mango, and because the universe loves me, I found some here!

17:30 I justttt finished my work, as well as my Americano, and decided to start writing this post. I have been eyeing this reflective backpack in the window at Ale-Hop, so I might go snag that on my walk home. I’ll walk about a half-hour home, and work on emails and blog stuff for the rest of the afternoon. Since I’m going to stop writing here, I’ll share what I think the rest of my day is going to look like. Check out my stories on @Juliettiful for the full play-by-play. I usually share my daily life there.

I plan on getting work done, cleaning my room and taking off my makeup to let my skin breathe. I also want to call my parents to say hello! I am going to grab tapas with a friend tonight, I’ll probably get espinacas con garbanzo and a cup of gazpacho, my two favorite tapas. Who knows, maybe even a glass of wine because the weekend is officially here!

 

BESOS! XO! ABRAZOS!

 

Juliette

5 little things

Hello from Sevilla! I felt like I needed to update you. Life abroad can get stressful and messy at times, but I have to say, I had an amazing week/weekend. I read this quote the other day that said “the little things aren’t little at all” and something about that really resonated with me. I tend to romanticize little things, I get caught up in life’s little details and small pleasures. So without further ado I want to quickly share 5 little things that made me happy this past week.

1. Grapes. My friend Savannah turned me onto the grapes here in Spain. Green grapes, red grapes, it doesn’t matter. I pretty much buy a bunch of them from my local market everyday because they’re so inexpensive. For some reason they just taste better here: they’re so juicy and fresh, and I like the fact that they have seeds in them, a little crunch. Sometimes I’ll freeze them and let them thaw a little for dessert, but the fresh ones are so incredible.

2. Sketching Statues. In my painting class we have been sketching statues. I never really thought I was good at drawing bodies, but the statues have been great practice of getting the form of the human body down. This drawing is of a Venus statue in my university - I’m so grateful to be going to such a historical school with an abundance of art and culture throughout the campus. Plus, sitting down and focusing on drawing is so mindful and keeps me really present.

3. Los Vinagres. I went to a rock show at an intimate little venue here in Sevilla, it was a band called Los Vinagres - they consist of 3 Spanish guys that jam about partying and love… I can’t seem to find the actual genre of the band online, in Spanish they call it “volcanic rock”, I would say it’s like Spanish punk rock? I don’t know. Kinda indie, kinda garage rock. Anyway, a friend I met the day before invited me to go on Saturday and I couldn’t say no. Best decision ever. Listen to their song “Verbenita”, it slaps, as the kids say.

4. Kid! I’m not sure if I’ve talked about my living situation here yet, but I live with 11 other students in an apartment type home, and we have two host parents that cook most days and do laundry. They’re absolutely wonderful. My host mom’s granddaughter came by one night and she was the cutest little thing. She’s 7 years old and speaks Spanish, but knows a few things in English. She was eager to show off her English skills and went around telling people “My hair is straight, your hair is curly…”. There was something so lighthearted and refreshing being around the innocent youthful energy. I let her do my hair and makeup and we sang Shakira songs together… so fun.

5. Tattoo. I got a tattoo yesterday. I might post about it at some point but I designed it and it’s something I’ve been wanting for a while. I woke up Saturday and thought “this seems like a cool idea” and went in for a walk-in after the shop opened post-siesta. I’m in love with the tat and the experience was just fantastic overall. A group of my friends came and rooted me on, and I love them endlessly for that!