So, how are y’all liking my frequent posts on the blog these days? If you are new here, I wanted to let you know that I now post at least once a week. I try to post something by Wednesday, but this week I am a little behind because I got married last week and a half! Will tell you more about it in a separate post. Today, I am going to specifically talk about one of the most awaited events of my entire life, and that is my bachelorette party!!!
My bachelorette party was planned by one of my best friends / bridesmaid, Zap. Her and I have been friends for many, many, years and we were even roommates at one point. Even though Zap doesn’t live in Atlanta anymore, she still jumped at the opportunity to plan and throw this party for me. One of my other friends / MOH also helped with the planning as well, and I seriously cannot thank them both enough for going through all the hassle for me!
Since we started the planning a little late in the game, the only time that worked for the majority of the people going was Labor Day weekend. Since it was also a holiday weekend, we decided to keep it local to make it easy for everyone, so that we don’t have to travel. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect, because I was in Vegas the week leading up to that weekend, and was traveling back to Atlanta on that Thursday and had Friday off. When I came back from Vegas, I was exhausted from the trip but the Friday at home allowed me the opportunity to spend time with my family before heading out again. The one-night instead of a two-night getaway, was also great because it gave me the time to be away with the girls, yet still have the remainder of the long weekend to spend it with R and Alden. Aren’t I such a good and responsible mother? =P
Anyway, the plan was for me to meet up with Zap and Atoosa on Saturday at a hotel in Brookhaven, where we were staying, and for us to have a pool day. When I arrived, it was just us three girls and the other ladies started coming in later that afternoon. We hung out at the pool for a couple of hours before heading back to the room to start getting ready for dinner and our night time activities. I forgot to mention that when I got to the room the first time, I was surprised to see the room decorated to fit the bachelorette theme with lingerie, party decor and party favors! Everyone got a plastic cup (which was convenient for our drinks) that included a “Hangover Kit” with goodies to help aide our potential morning discomfort from poor decisions made the night prior. I’ll have to say though that not none of us had to use this kit for what it was advertised for, but I’ll have to say, all the essentials were definitely useful for me the next day – Well done, Zap.
After we freshened up for the night, we headed out to dinner. I decided to keep it casual at dinner and wore a white sleeveless body suit and a denim skirt and my favorite sandals this summer from Forever 21. Dinner was at BUA Thai Restaurant in Brookhaven and it was amazing! I had forgotten how good the restaurant was because I haven’t been there in a while. We had a nice-sized group of about 8 people. I had some sushi AND Thai of course, with some delicious lychee drinks. After dinner, we headed back to the hotel room for a couple rounds of bridal games.
We played 4 games in total. One of the games was for me only and the other three were for the girls. I had to guess who purchased what lingerie for me, based on what I know about their styles and personalities. So, instead of buying lingerie that is random, they have to buy something that fits their personalities, so I can match it. I got all correct. Yay, me! The next game we played was, “Polish or Porn”. Zap read out names that could either be from a nail polish or from an actual porno movie, and the girls had to guess if it was Polish / Porn; Faby won this round. Next game we played was a question game where Zap had R & I answer questions separately before, and then we had the girls guess, and Zap read both our answers after. I think Diana won this game. The last game we played was another questions game, and it’s called “How Well Does He Know His Bride?”, where Zap had R answer a set of questions about me prior, and I had to guess his answers. The girls had to guess how many of these questions I would get right, and the closest number wins. Faby won this round! Btw, the last set of questions were hard!! Hahaha. I didn’t do too well.
After games, we got into our sparkly dresses, and yes, that was the theme, and headed out to Lips in Buckhead. Lips is a drag show, and my gosh you guys, it was so much fun! There were a lot of people there with celebrations, which of course included other bachelorettes as well. While we were eating (again), there were performances by the drags and I made it rain on them. Haha. It’s actually not like a triple-X rated show or anything, but they do appreciate tips. Anyway, I, along with other bachelorettes got called on stage for a contest, and of course my clumsy self, made me lose instead of win. But, no one got anything, so hey.. I am okay with that!
We headed back to the hotel after the show and since we got a later showtime, we got back late. We didn’t go anywhere else to party after that because we’re old and we’re lame. Haha. We just went back, washed up and just stayed up talking. That, to me was much more fun! Not everyone stayed over at the hotel, except for Zap, Atoosa, Faby & I. The next morning, we got up at 7 AM, and went to breakfast at Flying Biscuit. One of my friends didn’t get to join the activities the day before due to a conflict with another bachelorette party, but she came out to eat breakfast with us. Really enjoyed our time chit chatting and the food was amazing;; Flying Biscuit never disappoints!
And…that was it! That was my bachelorette weekend with my girls. Although it was short, it definitely was very, very, sweet.
So, if you guys follow me on Instagram, you probably noticed that I went across the pond for a quick-ish trip to the Netherlands early June. If you didn’t know I was away, well now you do.
R had to go on a work trip in Europe the last week of May (his company is based in Austria), and he surprised me with a trip to Amsterdam for my 30th birthday. It was AWESOME! I did not want to come back and before I left the city, I found myself looking at neighborhoods in Amsterdam to live in, and schools we could send Alden to, and not to mention, complete step-by-steps on how to move there as an expatriate. I know, I know.. I’m extra.
Before visiting Amsterdam, I didn’t quite know what I was getting myself into or what to expect really because even though it is a popular place, it wasn’t on my list of top places to visit. I have always seen pictures of Amsterdam but never really looked at them, but when I arrived there, I fell in love. I know I am using this “love” term very loosely when it comes to travel, but I am telling you that this time it is for real. My trip to Amsterdam was my first time ever in Europe. I’ve had a few layovers in Sweden, but I never got the chance to visit, so this trip was enlightening to me. So now, I can finally say that I’ve been to Europe and as always I am thankful to R who always helps me check things off my bucket-list. Right babe? 😉
My post today is going to be about the beautiful and historical Amsterdam. What to do, what to see, what to eat and some other travel trips from a girl less-traveled, and that is me!
Historic Buildings & Architecture
Amsterdam is a historic city, so just understand that being there already is an experience in itself. This is coming from a girl who has never really lived in a place that has a lot of architectural history, so when it comes to traveling to places with a lot of what I’d like to call, “old-time charm”, it always catches me in a daze.
I moved to the US in 2005 and I moved from the buzzing city life to a life on the beach in Florida. From there, I moved to Atlanta but I never lived downtown because I couldn’t justify paying high rent for an apartment and also because I have always worked outside the city center. With that said, I am now used to seeing the usual American suburban towns or neighborhoods that are typically newer built and most of the time, the buildings are all cookie-cutter and look exactly the same; You can be in any part of the country and still find yourself in a standard shopping plaza, which will house your typical grocery store, an urgent care, a nail salon, a couple fast casual restaurants, and a UPS store. Sometimes, you may get lucky with a Starbucks or a cool Mexican restaurant with an outdoor seating area, but most of the time, everything looks typically the same. So, as I was saying, being in Amsterdam itself was a cool experience to me because it was just charming and aesthetically pleasing.
When exploring the city, you’ll notice that the rowed buildings tilt forward, lean to the side or even have gaps in between. It is because these rows / buildings were built on wooden piles since Amsterdam is a city built on water, and naturally after hundreds of years, they deteriorate. When I think about this, it brings me back to the episode on How I Met Your Mother, when Lilly and Marshall bought their first condo and realized that their building was tilted. They found out by accident when they placed a ball on the floor and realized that the ball kept rolling to the other side of the room because the floors were not even, which drove Marshall crazy! Can you guys imagine living in a house like that?
Museums & Experiences
To get a glimpse into what these homes look and feel like on the inside, you can head on over to the Anne Frank House Museum. I am so glad that we took advantage of this and visited the museum – It was such a humbling experience. The tour itself did not take very long; I want to say it was about 30 – 45 minutes. We got a later reservation on a Friday night at 8 PM since R didn’t come in until late afternoon from Austria, while I arrived early that morning. It felt late when we left the hotel to go to the Anne Frank House but the long summer days definitely helped because day time was much longer. (Side note: It did get pretty cold at night, so make sure to wear / bring a jacket).
Just to give you a background on Anne Frank if you haven’t yet read her diary, she was one of the million Jews that were murdered during the Holocaust. Anne and her family lived behind a bookcase where her father used to work, in a place called the Secret Annex and during their hiding, Anne wrote in her diary almost daily for 2 years before they were found and brought to the concentration camps. I read her diary when I was younger and to be able to experience the crammed living quarters in which Anne lived in, was so humbling. I remember being there for only 30 – 45 minutes but I almost passed out due to claustrophobia; I cannot imagine what it would’ve been like to live there – My heart goes out to all the victims of the Holocaust.
TIP: Buy your tickets in advance and and go for an early morning or a late evening time slot. We went to a late night one and it was less crowded but still there were many people and we got stuck in human-traffic in the house due to the volume and I thought I was going to pass out because.. claustrophobia. Tickets
There are many other museums and experiences you can go to while in Amsterdam such as the Rijkmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum & the Heineken Experience, but we did not visit any of them because we’re not big fans of crowds. We actually tried to get tickets to visit the Van Gogh Museum but it was sold out for the weekend. See what happens when you fail to plan?
I AMSTERDAM sign
If you Google “Most photographed place in Amsterdam”, I am pretty sure you will come across the“I Amsterdam” sign, and visiting this is a no-brainer. It is free and it is located in front of the Rijksmuseum and near to the Heineken experience. It’s a pretty cool place just for a photo op but man, was it super packed! We got there sometime during noon and if I have to go back there again, I’ll probably opt to go in the morning or evening to stay away from the crowds. That way I can get more Insta-worthy shots.
Where to Stay?
I loved the Rembrandtplein area, which is also where we chose to stay while in Amsterdam. I didn’t think that we purposely planned to get a hotel outside of the Centraal area, but it was nice that we did because Amsterdam Centraal was a zoo (I told you we have an aversion to crowds). We stayed on Linnaeustraat, which was a streetcar away to the shopping and nightlife district in Rembrandt square and it could have not been more perfect place to stay in. From a location standpoint, I was able to travel from Schiphol airport by myself to our hotel, and by just one train. (Muiderpoort station). After I got off the train, I walked about 2 blocks down to Linnaeustraat street and the hotel was right there to my left. Our hotel also had easy access to the streetcars, which was definitely a plus as well.
I didn’t go crazy with shopping in Amsterdam but I did buy a few things. I felt like the H&M there was much better than the ones here in the States. Even their Zara was better too – Well, duh.. Europe. Another store that I loved exploring was Primark. I get it guys. Things are very affordable there, and they had literally anything and everything for everyone there! And, should I mention once again that they are cheap? I bought a cute skirt from there, a crop top, a sweater for Alden, and R got himself a backpack that he now uses for work. Of course, Ryan and I hit-up H&M too. I loved that their H&M store has a HOME section!! Wish I lived there!
I forgot to mention that one of my best friends from high school met up with us while we were there in Amsterdam and we had such a BLAST. Feeya made the trip even more better because of her craziness and positive energy. It was natural that the three of us, hit up a club in Amsterdam. This was of course, my idea. I love dancing! Even if I am no good at it. I do admit that I only like to go for a short time because I go to bed so early these days. The club we went to was Club Escape, and it was AWESOME. Awesome because, there is a legit light show in the main room, and indoor smoking is not allowed (Thank god! – There are smoking rooms provided indoors though for you smokers) – and like any big clubs, there are several rooms you can go to that play different types of music. For some reason, we ended up in the hip hop room and we soon found out that they LOVEto play throwback music. We thought it was a throwback night or something until we went to another club the next night and the playlist there was almost identical to the one in Escape. Hysterical. They were bumping to Ignition by R. Kelly. I thought I was back in the early 2000s.
Another thing that we did while we were there, was that we went to the Icebar. It was a-ok. I thought it was going to be a bar made from ice that people go to for fun (which it was) but it was more of an attraction versus an actual hang-out spot. Oh, and one last mention, the red light district! It was very surprising to see how clean the district was. There were so many people (sorry I keep bringing up crowds.. I hate crowds) and I didn’t feel creeped out at all!
Floating Flower Market – Bloemenmarkt
Also near Rembrandt square, you will find the famous Bloemenmarkt, which is a floating flower market. I really wanted to go see their tulip gardens outside the city center but we were not in season for it, therefore did not get to experience it. However, if you love flowers, you should definitely check out the floating market. They had all types of beautiful blooms there in varying colors and they were just so pretty! Did you know that Netherlands is one of the biggest countries that export seeds and flowers to other countries? I didn’t buy any because I was traveling, but sigh.. I wish I did!
Find a Windmill – De Gooyer
Another thing that was on our list was to find a windmill. There are not many of them scattered through the city but R was able to find one! The one that we went to is the De Gooyer windmill which is one of the oldest windmills in the Netherlands.
Ride A Bike
I know that it is intimidating to ride a bike in Amsterdam but it is by far, the BEST way to get around over there. R and I made the mistake of not going on the bike the first couple of days we were there, but when we finally did, we got to see so much more! Even though the streetcar/ tram is convenient, there’s just more waiting on that versus just hopping on the bike and walking around to get to places. I felt like the bike there is way better than my bike here, and even though it isn’t a typical road bike, it felt effortless all around. Just beware of other bikers though; They’re pretty aggressive and they are not afraid to cuss you out! Also, don’t be afraid of getting hit by buses and trams or cars because technically, they have to stop for you. So, what are you waiting for? Get on that bike!
TIP: Rent your bikes from your hotel. It was so easy to drop it off right then and there and not having to worry about traveling to a rental place to drop it off at the end of your long exhausting day. The bikes we rented came with locks too, which was convenient. You will be a pro at finding places to park your bike and if you are cycling in a shopping district, you’d come across the famous “No bike zone” stickers that they place in alleyways, etc. So fun!
Go To Local Parks
Because of our choice in mode of transportation above, we got to see so much more and do more things without feeling super exhausted. We were very lucky also that the weather was cooperating with us as well. On one of our afternoons there, we went to a local park not too far away from our hotel and it was the cutest sight! Over there, we saw many locals with families bring their kids out to play, there was an ice-cream man selling ice cream from his bike and in the gazebo, there was a group of older men and women who were dancing and enjoying a salsa & cha-cha session with their peers. It was a picturesque day!
Of course I had to add this to the list. If you like to engage in recreational marijuana activities, there are obviously plenty of coffee shops to go to. I hated the smell but you kind of get used to the smell after a while. I walked in one coffee shop and I was very surprised to see that it is actually very clean and systematic. They also do not serve alcohol there; Just coffee and other beverages instead. It definitely was an interesting experience. Sorry, no pictures =) I’m disappointed I didn’t take photos of the coffee shops from the outside!
Rooftop Bars & Restaurants
As always, when visiting a new place, we always like to search for rooftop restaurants or bars because the view is always just so scenic from the top of a building. We went to a bar in Volkshotel, which I believe was a hotel R wanted to get us to stay in at first but had no availability, and it was so quirky and fun. This bar also had a spa in one of their top floor levels too; Super interesting! We were there in time to watch the sunset (9-ish PM), and it was all around just good feels. Loved it!
Eat, Eat, Eat
I could not explain how well fed I am while I was in the Netherlands. They have some really nice restaurants that are equally diverse. I remembered one of our best meals was actually had was on our last dinner there at an Indian restaurant. It was BEYOND amazing. Enjoy my food snaps as follows.
And, more food…
With all of that said…
There you have my full list of things that I recommend doing/seeing in Amsterdam; I am sure there are more than these things you can do over there, and perhaps we get to back to experience more things but for a short trip, we definitely had a pretty fulfilling vacation there. We enjoyed Amsterdam so much that we skipped our plan on the last day to visit Brussels, Belgium, and spent another day there instead. Even though it was an opportunity missed, I am sure there will be plenty of next times for us in the future.
This is the longest time I have spent writing and crafting a travel post so I hope you enjoyed it!!
I have been meaning to share with you all some wedding updates as you may know that R & I are finally tying the knot (with an actual wedding) this October! We are less than 4 weeks away to one of the biggest days of our lives and we seriously cannot wait! Wedding planning has been pretty easy going at first but everything picked up in the last two months, so it definitely has been very hectic too.
We chose to get married in October because we both wanted a fall wedding since the weather will be tolerable and nice here in Atlanta. October 12th seems to be the perfect date because we are getting married on a Friday (to cut costs since most venue are twice the price for Saturday weddings), and I think it works out really well because the 13th is my late-daddy’s birthday.
Initially, we wanted to have a destination wedding, but that didn’t pan out, so for the longest time we wanted to get married in Savannah, GA. However, the venues that we liked there were no longer doing weddings and it would’ve been too much to coordinate especially with getting our families there since they are coming from out-of-state, so we decided to get married here in Atlanta itself.
We are having a very small wedding with about 75 guests only. Our ceremony will be outdoors in a beautiful garden and our reception will be indoors in a glass ball-room, which essentially is a ballroom with ceiling high windows that overlooks the lush gardens outside. Our venue is perfect because it is romantic, intimate, has an indoor-outdoor feel, and is strategically located. Our venue is doing most of the decor planning for us as well as catering, so that is a huge relief. They will also provide the servers, security, clean-up crew and a wedding coordinator so we don’t have to worry about that operational logistics day-off. We get to customize & personalize our decor with them (which I am so excited to see how it turns out), and we also have flexibility to do our welcome table decor and some other miscellaneous things that is not included in their services as well. Can’t wait for the big reveal.
Just to give you an idea of a “theme” for our wedding, we don’t actually have one but if you need to know, the vision I have for this wedding is a glam romance affair. My colors are neutrals with ivory, white, blush pink & champagne. I wanted the soft colors because I think that you can never go wrong with those classics. I think that the variation in pinks that I have throughout the decor, attire, etc. will be nice because I didn’t want a matchy-matchy wedding; Having the variations will add some richness and character to the overall feel. I am hoping we nail this because I will be disappointed if they don’t.
We will also have a very small wedding party with 3 groomsmen, 3 bridesmaids, 2 flower girls and Alden our ring-bearer. Let’s hope Alden naps the day of and doesn’t throw a tantrum in the processional. To read-up on my girls who will be standing with me, go to our website here.
Anyways, this is about how far I will share with you so far, but just know how much I can’t wait for this day! What do you all think of our engagement photos? They are captured by the most talented, Michael Yang and his site is here.
We officially got snowed-in yesterday here in Atlanta and our city looks absolutely enchanting even though we spent more than 12 hours without power here in our home. With that said, since it is 30 something degrees outside, I figured what better way to start a holiday post than today!
This is a post that I started writing 3 months ago but never published because…life happens.
If you knew me, and if you have been following me from my late teenage years, you’d probably recollect a memory of me telling you how much of a hopeless romantic I am. I love watching romantic comedies, I love watching dating and reality shows (of people in love), I love going to weddings, I love hearing about the nice things couples in love do for each other, I love hearing the beginning of a brand new relationship, I love learning about how some people get over a bump in their relationship and falling in love all over again, I love hearing how couples meet and how he pops the question – I am what you would call, a love groupie. I am that chick who cries at every wedding (even sans alcohol), and I am that chick that would re-watch The Holiday for the millionth time because, love just gives me the feels.