Wednesday, October 31, 2012

In Case You Missed It: October

October was an interesting month. It came in like a lamb and came out like a hurricane. As you know, NYC (my current home) and the Jersey Shore (my home for 22 years) were hit very hard by Hurricane Sandy earlier this week. My apartment is without power until late Saturday, per the most recent estimate. Aubrey was kind enough to take me in before anything happened so that I wouldn't be stranded alone and Jessica has been with us as well. My work in Tribeca has been closed all week, our beach towns at home were all underwater, and some of my friends have sadly lost a lot. It has been odd for me because we have been sequestered on the Upper West Side, where we haven't seen much damage in person, aside from this walk/don't walk sign that was still functioning although on it's side.

But to get distracted from the storm just a little bit, I'd like to wrap up October if I may. The beginning of the month was spent getting ready for my trip and attending a friend's wonderful wedding in North Jersey:

When I got back from Europe, I got to spend a gorgeous Saturday at NY Botanical Gardens with my parents (which I will write about in an upcoming entry, don't you worry):

I got to finally see my old roommate for the first time since we moved and celebrate her birthday with many others, including the lovely Sabrina:

Without knowing that the next week we would all be together for a week straight, Jessica, Aubrey, and I also spent most of the prior two weekends together as well:

Which included a beautiful autumnal walk through Central Park and to Belvedere Castle:

The morning before everything shut down in NYC, we got to catch up with our other home girl, Allie Bear, right before we hurricane-proofed (although I haven't been there to check yet) and evacuated my apartment.

After being inside for days and eating way too much junk food, when the rain and winds died down on Tuesday, we decided we needed to get outside and breathe some fresh air. Jessica did my hair and makeup and we all wore the same outfit because we had gone a little crazy being inside for so long.

And the one good thing about the storm is that I made a new best friend:

I know I personally was very lucky in this storm and I am very thankful for that. My heart is with the Jersey Shore, Jersey City, Hoboken, and the rest of NYC.  I love you all and am ready and willing to help out with whatever you need. Seriously.

In the meantime, if anyone is able to - please donate to The Red Cross here or NJ relief efforts here.


Sunday, October 28, 2012

a hell LOVE a WORLD: Holland Countryside

Okay folks, this will be the last entry about my Euro trip and then I will return to the fabulous happenings of NYC (although we are currently hunkering down for Hurricane Sandy and I am trapped in an apartment for potentially three days and nights with two of my best friends but more on that and if we are still friends later).

One of my last days in Amsterdam, I went to the cutesy little touristy town of Zaanse Schans because I *had* to see a windmill. And when I say this is a touristy town, I really mean, I don't think I have done anything more touristy in NYC...I went to a Dutch clock museum and a wooden shoe museum which is probably something that 90-year-olds do but I loved it. I also climbed up to the top of a windmill and did not get caught in any of the sails by the straps of my overalls - is that from a cartoon or did my crazy mind make it up? I wasn't *actually* wearing overalls.


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

a hell LOVE a WORLD: Belgium

As you may know, my trip this month was my first time to “mainland Europe”, although I have explored London and many areas of Ireland. I wanted to explore another country while I was away since it’s so easy via train over there. Initially, Davesh and I were going to travel through Northern France, hitting up Paris, Giverny, Rouen, Honfleur, Bayeux, Normandy, AND Mont St. Michel BUT we didn’t exactly plan things before I arrived in the Netherlands and the ticket to Paris was too much moola for a day and a half of travel, so we ended up booking train tickets last minute to Belgium instead and traveled from Amsterdam to Antwerp to Bruges to Antwerp to Brussels to Antwerp to Amsterdam.

We spent the most time in Bruges, which worked out well because it was my favorite of the three cities we visited. It is a cutesy little medieval town in northwest Belgium, although if you ever see the Colin Farrell movie “In Bruges”, you will hear otherwise – “Maybe that’s what hell is…the entire rest of eternity spent in (expletive) Bruges.”

While in Bruges, we climbed 366 steps to the top of the Bell Tower (built between the years 1300 and 1486), went to a few different churches/cathedrals – including Basilica of the Holy Blood which had on display a relic with the alleged blood of Jesus himself and Church of our Lady with a Michelangelo statue of Mary and the babe, went on a Belgian beer brewery tour, and ate chocolate and frites (though not together).

We got to Antwerp around nine at night and walked around a little to our hostel. I kept hearing Antwerp described as “posh” and although originally not totally digging that word (can’t stop thinking about Victoria Beckham), it really is the right word for the city. It’s kind of like Soho, if Soho also had beautiful and intricate buildings from the 1600s.

We were pretty tired and I’ll admit, I was kind of a buzzkill (too much chocolate and frites?) so we didn’t do the city nightlife that we would have done if we hadn’t gotten up so early that morning to start our journey. It tells you a lot about the nightlife that when we went for waffles at 10 am no place was open yet since no one wakes up that early. (Typically, that would be my kind of city!) There is not really a lot to *see* in Antwerp and it was pretty rainy for the morning so when places opened, we ate waffles and hightailed it to Brussels early afternoon.

In Brussels, we walked around the city for a while, saw their famous fountain statue from 1619 of a little boy urinating (and if that isn’t weird enough, he has 700 costumes that they dress him up in), went to the Belgian Comic Strip Center (where my dad’s comic strip is *not* displayed unfortunately), the Magritte Museum, and of course ate lots of waffles and frites.

I think we spent the perfect amount of time in each city. I wouldn’t necessarily say that anyone should plan an entire vacation to Belgium, BUT if you are already in the area, it is worth a side trip, if for nothing else but to cross a country off your list and to eat TONS of chocolate, waffles, and frites. And aren't chocolate, waffles, and frites what life is all about anyway?


Monday, October 22, 2012

a hell LOVE a WORLD: Amsterdam

Hi friends! I have returned from my autumn adventure in Europe. I was visiting my friend Davesh who moved to Amsterdam in August (as you may remember). It was such a good trip! The city of Amsterdam is AWESOME. If you can imagine this, I would actually consider living there if NYC ever decided that it was finished with me. And if I lived there, I would absolutely want to live on a houseboat. (You know how much I love being on the water.)


I think the part I enjoyed the most about the city was that it was just so darn cute. There are old skinny row homes everywhere with all different shaped gables. Instead of busy intersections with lots of streets meeting up, there are cute little tree-lined canals. And there are bicycles everywhere you look. I even rented one the last few days (after not riding one since last year and before then, since middle school).

My bike!!

I spent most of the mornings in cute little cafes, eating banana-bacon pancakes, appletarts, and sipping cappuccino. Then I would wander around the city, doing walking tours from the amazing Rick Steves guidebook, stopping by shops, going into museums, and people-watching and reading in the squares.

The Amstel River

An illegal picture of one of Van Gogh's Sunflowers

I amsterdam

Trees in Museumplein

I sampled all this cheese. And much more.

Sunshine, trees, and water <3

Wooden tulips

Gila monster statue invasion

Rembrandt's Night Watch

Painting in Rembrandt's studio

In the evenings, Davesh and I would grab dinner and meet up with his friends, including once at a Dutch trivia night. Even though we didn’t know the language and needed the questions to be translated by the rest of our team, we got third place out of about twenty teams (perhaps because I dominated, per usual, in the music round).We also went to a few bars and clubs and attended the first night of the Amsterdam Dance Festival right before my flight out.

After a night out in Leidseplein

In da club

My favorite thing we did was take Davesh’s and Nick’s boat out on Sunday. Earlier that day, the boat had been almost underwater because it rains A LOT over there. But the boat was drained and we took a wonderful journey through town that afternoon. We all took turns steering (although I only wanted to for a few minutes) and only crashed once, into a giant tour boat that probably had sixty people aboard. I definitely thought for about five hectic seconds that we were going to capsize but we made it through and were able to laugh hysterically about it for the next hour or so.

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