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With just two days, I feel like I only began to scratch the surface of Amsterdam.

Unlike most big cities, this one felt uniquely distinct. I knew I was in Amsterdam, and I felt it. The whoosh of people whizzing by me on their bikes. The wafting aroma of marijuana as I walked by an unassuming coffee shop. The tall, lean houses smushed one right after another along the canal streets. The murals and hand-lettered signage found in deserted alleyways and painted across trendy shops. The quirky houseboats lining every canal. The laid-back attitude of nearly everyone I met—never in too big a rush to meet up with friends at the nearest café for a beer.

When I first exited the train station into the busy Damrak area, I thought I’d hate Amsterdam. It was busy and ungodly touristy. I felt so claustrophobic that I immediately hauled major ass away from the madness. I had no idea where I was going, but headed straight south anyways. And after about 15 minutes of walking, the crowds loosened, the streets calmed, and I looked around to really see Amsterdam for the first time—charming and intimate, boasting a whole lot of character.

I can’t say it’s one of my favorite cities, but you can bet I’ll be back for a second visit. Oh Amsterdam, you’re truly one of a kind.

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My two day trips to Amsterdam were most definitely not enough to take advantage of seeing everything this huge European hub has to offer. I’d easily budget a week in Amsterdam, although three to four days is probably doable to see most of the major attractions. Like I mentioned from Maastricht, I can’t vouch for places to stay but there’s a few good-looking AirBnb apartments here, here and here ( on a houseboat! ).

*Also an important note: cafés sell coffee, coffee shops sell marijuana. You’ve been warned.


EAT

If you don’t like to waste time upon arriving to a new city ( like me ), I recommend starting your day at STACH. With a few locations around the city, it’s the perfect place to grab a take-away coffee + a few healthy snacks for morning fuel. For a cheap + filling lunch, eat at one of the many kebab shops for a kebab, shawarma or falafel. I ate at KEBAB HOUSE ( ahem, more than once ), and it was delicious and only 5€!

Another great lunch or dinner option is a stop at the market. The ALBERT CUYP MARKT located in the hip De Pijp neighborhood had endless options—from falafel to frites to stroopwafels and fresh produce. When dinner rolls around, HOFJE VAN WIJS does not disappoint. Run by a 200-year-old coffee + tea vendor, the café is a lovely respite near the Red Light District. The fondue + seafood pasta were both excellent, as was the extensive wine + beer list.


SEE

The art lover in me demands that your first stop be the VAN GOGH MUSEUM. It’s a thorough retrospective of his career and personal life, which ended with his suicide in 1890, and was my favorite museum I visited. That being said, the RIJKSMUSEUM is also fantastic with a can’t-miss Rembrandt exhibit that runs through May. Sadly, I didn’t make it to the ANNE FRANK HOUSE, but hear nothing but rave reviews ( including that epic trip to the museum in this tearjerker ).

As I mentioned, the ALBERT CUYP MARKT makes for a nice afternoon stroll, especially if you venture off the main street into the De Pijp neighborhood, which is littered with cute restaurants and shops. I took a nice bench break in SARPHATIPARK and people watched with the locals. No trip to Amsterdam is complete without a visit to the RED LIGHT DISTRICT, although I didn’t last long before I quite literally had seen enough. Do stop at the DE OUDE KERK—Amsterdam’s oldest city building and parish church—located in the Red Light District.

Honestly, most of my time was spent strolling along the canals ( the Jordaan area is especially nice )—crossing bridges, switching street sides and just gazing at the one million cute houses.


SHOP

Two shops in Amsterdam really caught my eye. I luckily happened upon SEC, located in the Red Light District, which sells minimalistic women’s wear by Scandinavian designers. The shop owner was the cutest / nicest human being, so I couldn’t help but walk out with this cute colorblocked dressBY AMFI is another must-shop. The store of the Amsterdam Fashion Institute, the school’s students concept, design and produce collections which are sold in the store. Seriously rad.

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Maastricht, The Netherlands | Hollis Anne

Maastricht is a gem of a city.

Within 10 minutes of arriving, this southernmost Dutch city had already wiggled its way to the top of my list of favorite European cities. I found myself immediately captivated by its quaint streets, medieval city center + pan-European flair. People here are easygoing and energetic—always out in the plaza drinking by 5pm, which I’m sure is partly due to being nestled between Belgium + Germany. There’s a term here called bourgondisch, which loosely translated, is an attitude for enjoying life. In Maastricht, there’s always time to stop for a snack and a drink with friends.

What I’m trying to say is that I may have found my spirit city.

Maastricht boasts a well-regarded university as well as great museums, parks, ancient churches, shopping and eating ( so.many.waffles. ). Plus, it has a gorgeous train station, which, to me, is the marker of any good European city. The history of Maastricht is everywhere. Spanish and Roman ruins can be found dotting the city, and being so close to Germany, it still bears scars from World War II. And—nerd alert—in 1991, it was the site of the official formation of the European Union.

In other words, this place has everything.

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Ideally, I’d budget three to four days to truly enjoy Maastricht and linger through its charming streets, although two days will suffice. I made two day trips to Maastricht, so I can’t vouch for places to stay, but you can find a good list here. This house + this apartment on AirBnB look pretty rad too. Also, you should eat waffles…lots of them.


EAT

Start your day with breakfast at BISSCHOPSMOLEN, a local flour mill + bakery. They have the best spelt waffles ( see above ) and a small, sit-down breakfast menu. If you head to the back of the shop, you’ll see it’s still powered by a 7th century water mill. CAFÉ ZONDAG is an eclectic café that’s perfect for breakfast, lunch or good coffee for take-away. REITZ is the only place to go for frites. I got a cone topped with mayo and onion gravy—a shop specialty—for about 4€.

For sweets, the café at MUSEUM AAN HET VRIJTHOF is a lovely stop. The atrium is open and airy, and the pastries are quite good. I recommend ordering the apricot tart + a latte for afternoon sustenance. If you’re looking for a pint, I say pull up a chair and grab a BRAND beer ( the oldest brewery in the Netherlands ) anywhere along the VRIJTHOF, one of the city’s main squares.


SEE

If you’re an art lover like me, your first stop must be the BONNEFANTENMUSEUM. Now through June, they’re running an exhibit of Dutch painter Henri de Fromantiou’s still lives that is not to be missed. My second stop would be SINT JANSKERK, a small church located off the Vrijthof. Climb to the top for 2€ for sweeping views of the city. Exit the church and to the right is the MUSEUM AAN HET VRIJTHOF. This museum tells the history of Maastricht, as well as showcases local artists + artisans. A must see, if only for the cutest old ladies who greet you at the door.

All Harry Potter fans will love the SELEXYZ DOMINICANEN BOOKSTORE. Originally a Gothic church built in 1294, it now houses endless shelves of books and is truly stunning. A trip out to FORT SINT PIETER makes for an afternoon excursion. It’s about 1.25 miles south of the city center, and offers a gorgeous walk along the old city walls and through neighborhoods. I hear a tour of the fort’s underground tunnels + caves is pretty cool, although I didn’t have time to go.


SHOP

I found RECHSTRAAT to be the street for shopping. It houses a collection of restaurants + shops, with one of my favorites being DE HEPPIE STORE, an adorable kids boutique. I wanted to buy my nephew one of everything there. GROTE STAAT is another shopping lane that’s enjoyable to browse, although the city is sprinkled with cute shops + stores nearly everywhere.

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MY BUSINESS CARDS

2015/03/30

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Even though I printed my business cards more than three months ago for my portfolio show, I finally got around to finishing trimming all the cards just a few weeks ago. Normally, the reason would be that I’m really good at procrastination ( usually by means of hilarious Buzzfeed articles like this ). Lately however, work has been steady + I haven’t needed the cards so much.

BUT I still love these letterpress, hand-watercolored nuggets just as much as the day I printed them. It’s probably because they combine all my most favorite things : letterpress, hand lettering, mustard yellow + polka dots.

These cards were letterpress printed by me on two types of paper—chipboard + a super thick white stock called Crane’s Lettra. I stuck with a dark charcoal gray ink for letterpress, then added a fun, custom pattern to the bottom of each card with watercolor. That makes each card truly unique. And am I the only one who loves having different options to choose from? These cards were a huge hit at the portfolio show, which makes me believe I’m not alone in this.

Don’t make me pick a favorite card, although the mustard yellow polka dot one clearly wins.

Buzzfeed even has my back on this one ( see #22 ).

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1 comment   /   design, letterpress