Are you ready for summer? Because I sure am. The semester is finally coming to an end and it’s only a few days until the sunny season officially kicks off. Between classes and deadlines, I’ve developed a thing for botanical gardens, explored some new hotspots in Amsterdam, and met up with friends in Breda. Luckily, I didn’t just stay within the Dutch borders. This time, it’s all about Portugal. From watching wild dolphins jump in the Sado Estuary and chasing street art in Centro, here is what I’ve been up to lately!
Falling in Love with Botanical Gardens
I don’t know about you, but sometimes I go through these slightly obsessive phases. Last year, I suddenly got really interested in libraries. This time, I’ve found myself falling love with botanical gardens. I’ve even transformed my house into a little bit of an indoor jungle. My living room is full of tropical plants and adorable cacti. Whenever I had some free time, I exchanged the urban sprawl for the peaceful greenhouses of Leiden and Amsterdam. I had a wonderful conversation with Hans, the super friendly botanist at the Zuidas garden. I told him about my friend Ke’s love for bonsai trees and he gave me one to pass on to her. He also gave me a little tomato plant for myself. I’m doing my absolute best to keep it green and healthy!
Amsterdam Hotspot Hunting
One thing I enjoy most about living in a city is exploring new places with friends. One of my favourites in Amsterdam is Singel 404, a very affordable little cafe that serves amazingly tasty lunches. I recently met up with Ke at Singel 404 to give her the little bonsai tree! I almost don’t want to blog about it so that more tourists won’t find out about the cafe. That may sound a little selfish, but there aren’t many places left that don’t serve the typical tourist menu.
Another Amsterdam hotspot that has been luring foodies from every corner in the world is the Van Stapele Koekmakerij. This tiny bakery only makes one thing: their famous double chocolate cookie. I think I’m going to write another post about the cookie to let you know whether it’s worth the hype!
Discovering the Hidden Nature in Lisbon
At the end of May, it was finally time to go on my very first trip to Portugal with Turismo de Lisboa for We Are Travellers. I had been looking forward to it for several weeks and was so excited to land in Lisbon! The trip focused on the natural areas in the Lisbon district, but we also got to spend a bit of time in the city. The streets are filled with eye-catching tiles and decorative doors that will make every Instagrammer’s heart skip a beat. Just pause somewhere in the street and you have a very solid chance that the city pretty much looks like a movie set.
The natural areas, however, were the real surprise. We explored the gardens and palaces in Sintra, went dolphin watching in the Sado estuary (another childhood dream come true), and drove to Cabo Espichel to see the ancient dinosaur tracks at sunset. I can’t wait to tell you more about the extraordinary area. I didn’t have a clue that these places existed right here in Europe!
Foodstock Festival in Breda
If you’ve followed by blog for a while, you must be somewhat aware of my love for food. More specifically, I’m referring to my undying passion for all kinds of ice cream. Strangely enough, I don’t think I had ever been to a foodtruck festival. When I heard that Foodstock was coming to my hometown Breda, my buddy Esther and I decided to go check it out. Let me tell you, we were not disappointed! I ate a Surinamese bara for lunch, tried two different types of ice cream at the Lick ‘m truck, and finished with a fresh slice of watermelon.
In July and August, the festival will also be coming to Sittard, Eindhoven, Den Bosch, and Helmond. I totally recommend it for a cool summer excursion!
Street Art and Historic Charms in Centro de Portugal
Only a few weeks after my very first trip to Portugal, I was lucky enough to return to Portugal! This time, I joined a street art trip in the Centro region. I can now confirm the rumors: the many murals in towns like Viseu, Figueira da Foz, and Covilhã are most definitely top tier in Europe. Portugal is such a stunning country in general and everyone has been so welcoming. Before 2017, I hadn’t even set foot in Portugal, but now I can’t imagine never going back.
Unfortunately, Portugal is going through a very upsetting ordeal at the moment. Just as I flew back to the Netherlands, the region got swept up in devastating forest fires. My thoughts are with those who have lost their loved ones, as well as those who have had to flee their homes.
That’s it for now. I’m currently working on my last few deadlines and preparing for one more trip at the end of June. I haven’t got any concrete plans for the rest of the summer yet, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be going on a few spontaneous escapes in Europe (and perhaps even beyond). As always, keep an eye on my Insta for real-time updates and see you soon!