Summer Abroad

In college, I never studied abroad, mostly because I figured that living across the pond would set back my progress, that I wouldn’t earn enough credits toward my English and Psychology degree. It’s something I’d now advise any student to do, should it be an option.

As a child, I was fortunate enough to leave the country for our family vacations to the Dominican Republic, to Saint Lucia, Mexico, Guadalupe, Eleuthera, places that sounded exotic without even having to visit them for confirmation. It wasn’t until I was married to the Wasband that I set off to Europe. We ate our way through Madrid and Barcelona, where the idea of a tri-color salad was pickles, onions, and a tomato and when you asked for a napkin, they’d slap a piece of ham on it. We shopped in Paris, lounged in Cannes and Nice, then gambled in Monte Carlo and “Hotel Du Cap-eden-roc”ked it in Antibes. We honeymooned in Italy: Venice, Rome, Florence, and a week in Capri. As a New Yorker, it’s been easy to set off to the nearby Caribbean, to the US and British Islands. But Europe has always been my favorite, mainly because I’m not a lover of lounging in the sun. My idea of a vacation involves a camera and sneakers.

Before visiting Japan, my favorite trip was to Italy, where I documented my time in Venice, Florence, Rome, Siena, Bologna, Cinque Terre… here on this blog as I experienced it. But this next vacation in Europe is something truly foreign to me: a European vacation with kids, my kids.

We’re heading to the iconic city of Paris, a destination upon which I insisted and Phil protested. “I just don’t like Paris,” he said, “there’s no reason to go.” Pardon my French? Phil protested, as he’s so apt to do, but then came to me a day later saying he switched the tickets, that the trip would now also include Paris.

Because there’s something iconic about Paris, something that lights up like… Paris. It’s cinematic, it’s all that music and all those movies, and I want to bring that world alive for the beans. Then we’re off to the Netherlands and Belgium.

I’m most looking forward to creating on this trip. Not eating, not shopping, but cultivating my creativity and adding value through drawings, sketchings, photographs, watercolors. Filling my creative well with observations that enrich my life and the lives of those around me.

Hotel Cap du Eden Roc


  1. You either love or loathe unsolicited travel tips, so if you’re a hater, please ignore. But on the off chance you might appreciate them, I’ve listed some Amsterdam ideas below. I’ve enjoyed your blog over many years and, as an Amsterdammer for 10 years now, it’s my way of saying thank you :-)

    So, in no particular order:
    * Museums – Beyond the (wonderful) big hitters in the museumplein, Amsterdam also has some lovely less visited spaces. E.g. Ons Lieve Heer op Solder – after the Spanish were defeated, it was illegal to be catholic for a while. But in typical Dutch style, as long as you’re not too obvious about it, you’re tolerated – this museum is one of the last ‘hidden’ catholic churches to survive that time and is smack-bang in the middle of the red light district (not the eye popping part if you’re worried about the kids), which makes it even more unexpected. You’d prob love FOAM (the photography museum), and some of the old canal house museums are just stunning (e.g. Willet Holthuysen). NEMO is always a hit with kids and has a great roof terrace and is nearby a lot of a other good stuff (view from library, climbing wall, hannekesboom outdoor water terrace etc).

    * Parks / city beaches – If they’re not heading to the beach on a sunny day (e.g. Zandvoort / Bloemendaal – also a very Dutch experience), Amsterdammers head to the parks. Try the Westerpark (you can really go Dutch and buy disposable bbq gear from the supermarkets), Flevopark (there’s a great little place you can try Dutch gin after 3pm or so), Oosterpark, Franckendael, Amsterdamse Bos if you want to avoid the Vondelpark crowds). And if they’re not in parks, Amsterdammers are at a city beach / water terrace, e.g. Café Ceuval in the North (free ferry and then walk or cycle – nice swimming spot), ROEST, PLEK (free ferry to NDSM Wharf – lots to do there), Hannekes Boom

    * Cycling – If you want to do a family cycle but cycling in Amsterdam (rightly..) terrifies you, you could try either (a) taking one of the free ferries behind central station (actually the view from the bus station behind central station is fab) and do the Waterland route through Durgerdam, Nieuwendammerdijk etc (stunning Dutch pastoral views, fishing villages etc), or (b) cycle down the Amstel to Oudekerk and have lunch there (pretty and easy cycle through A’dam countryside with windmills etc and Oudekerk is older than A’dam – have the steak at Loetje).

    * Anne Frank – Assume you’re going to the Anne Frank museum – def worth a visit but extraordinarily crowded (although they do a good job managing the crowds), and only tells part of the story. The Corrie Ten Boom House (in Haarlem – 15 mins from A’dam) is also excellent and off the beaten track. The Resistance (Versetz) Museum and Hollandsche Schouwberg are v good and in a lovely neighbourhood (former Jewish quarter). (You could also stop at the Hoftuin for lunch at Dignita behind the Hermitage museum on the way/afterwards). There’s also a new holocaust museum there too but they’re just getting started and there’re limited English language exhibits at the moment (although the story is v interesting – a decade or so some Dutch history students discovered that Jews returning to A’dam after the war were charged back property taxes for the time they were in camps (!!!) – the city council donated the equivalent amount in modern EUR value to start the holocaust museum as a result and to address a concern that people without much history knowledge would visit the anne frank house and think everyone was in the resistance etc).

    * If you love more modern architecture, Rotterdam is worth a day trip – if time is limited, the Eastern Islands are worth a cycle (e.g. bridges shaped like dinosaur skeletons, buildings that look like whales rising out of the sea etc).

    * Escape rooms have been a big thing over the last couple of years and can be a lot of fun as a family – the Sherlocked one near Dam Square blew my mind – the ‘break in’ room is like being in a movie and the ‘break out’ room is your more traditional experience. They’ve taken over a large space under the old stock exchange building near Dam square and is worth doing it just to see the space.

    * Boat to dinner at an Amsterdam island at the summer pop up restaurant Vuurtoreneiland – is just magical. Can sell out quickly but you can often find tickets on

    * Go to a concert at Paradiso, Amsterdam’s best loved music venue (it’s a converted Church, family friendly and just the perfect space)

    * There’s a Romanian blogger I really enjoy called Amsterdamming – her photographs are stunning and may give you ideas of places you’d like to sketch

    * The Begijnhof (just off Spui, near Dam square) is a special place to visit but go early (the tourists have found it). Nearby is my favourite Dutch frites stall in the Voetboogstraat straat (try them with green pepper sauce).

    * Try one of the old Dutch gin tasting houses and drink like a Dutchie by leaning over to take the first sip – e.g. Wynand Fockink

    * There’re so many day trips depending on what you’re after, but De Hooge Veluwe is lovely this time of year and ticks a lot of boxes – you can walk/cycle/sketch in the park, there’s a great modern art museum in the middle of the park and it’s near lovely palaces etc like Het Loo (the palace park next to it is stunning (there’s a small castle in a lake etc) and is open in summer).

    Sorry for spamming but I love my city and want you to have a lovely time.

  2. And I forgot to mention one of my favourite places in Amsterdam – the Western Islands. Each island has a tiny ‘hidden’ park – very peaceful and beautiful

  3. I adore Amsterdam.. I will write a few more ideas later, but please, if you can.. stop inside this cookie shop.. just trust me.. They are so heavenly delicious…

    It’s called – Van Stapele Koekmakerij
    located in Centrum
    Heisteeg 4
    1012 WC Amsterdam
    The Netherlands
    Phone number 0654-241497

  4. I can’t believe you went to Amsterdam. I want to got there so bad and you work so hard to go to Amsterdam you deserved it

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