About me

Mijn foto
Amsterdam, Netherlands
I travel the globe for a living. Luckily I get to see many beautiful things when traveling. Design is one of my passions. On my blog I try to collect a lot of my design-encounters around the world. I hope you'll like it! XOXO Nina

zondag 23 september 2012

Food for thought

I have read about writers and artists that keep a notebook on their nightstand. If a brilliant idea comes up, write it down immediately. Especially when that lightbulb lights up in the midst of the night, write it down asap so you'll remember it the next morning. That's the whole point.
It also has something romantic. A moleskine-booklet next to ones pillow for all kinds of brainfarts.
I wish I could pull it off. 'Brilliant' ideas that pop into my head and written in a illustrative way with doodles and scribbles in my personal notebook, on my nightstand.
In my case, that nightstand is most of the time a different one. And most certainly not always a romantic sight. I am priviliged with the most fun job in the world, but also one of the most hectic lifestyles of many people I know.
Can you imagine that little Moleskine-booklet on monday in Milan in a Marriot hotel, on tuesday in Stockholm in a Nordic hotel, the next day in Madrid lying around in a NH-hotelroom. The week after all the way in Taiwan in the Imperial hotel.
In my case, that little bundle of ideas and thoughts would've been left behind probably allready somewhere between Stockholm and Madrid.
The horror if someone else would find, read and keep it. All my silly ideas, (in my opinion) brilliant concepts and scribbles.
I've never kept a diary. Not that I wasn't into writing or fancied the idea of having one, but the chance of losing it would send shivers up my spine.
The older I get the more I realize how private I have become. Sure, I spill around my opinion everywhere, I talk a lot. But my thoughts, from deep down, hardly ever get to the surface. Nobody's business, I reckon.
That said I guess I'm happy with the way it is.
A notebook. In my head. My own hard-disk.
I just wish I could remember more of those nightly ideas that pop into my head. Especially the one about my new blogpost, instead of this one...

dinsdag 15 mei 2012


Our vacation to Vietnam. Such an adventure. So many fantastic impressions. It made me curious to explore more; Laos, Cambodia and some more remote areas of Vietnam.

We started out in Hanoi. Hanoi was very cool. The whole Indochine-feel and architecture. Great! There were many little squares with nice café's (where baguettes and café au lait is served). The beautiful houses, colonial buildings and the cutest courtyards was something that amazed me.

The streetfood is something else. Supposedly fantastic. This was a bit of a challenge for me, since I'm 'a difficult eater'. I just don't like bits and pieces in my food.
And yes, dogmeat is a favorite dish. I've seen it on the menu; I saw a man drag a dog to some alley (with a stick in his hand), but I haven't seen a dead dog or eaten it. I. Would. Never.

We stayed in a 'boutique-hotel'. Sounds impressive, right? Well. We learned that the term 'boutique' has found it's way in this part of the world. A tiny hotel with an extra bouquet of flowers and chandelier in the lobby calls itself boutique. Cute.
But, the staff was the best. They were helpfull to the max. Sometimes we were in doubt if it was genuine, thát helpfull. But, yeah, they were really cool!
The downside? The traffic, in my opinion. It was very dense and crazy. Never have I seen so many motorcycles in one square meter. Somehow you get used to it. To be honest, it was pretty cool to sit on the side of the street, or on a terrace, and sip on a local coffee or fresh beer and watch the crazy traffic go by.

After a couple of days it was time for our first trip. Halong Bay. We went on an organized tour. There was, supposedly, no other way in doing this.
The scenery was stunning, but it was very very very touristic. Oh well.
We spent the night on a boat (a boutique-boat). Ha ha ha!
We were served delicious food, lots of it and many times.
The other guests/travellers were very nice. People from Holland ( 'we' are everywhere, amazing!), New Zealand, Australia and Argentina.
Halong Bay is an archipelago, an area with hundreds of tiny islands that stand out really tall in an emerald sea. Beautiful.

After that we went up North, to Sapa, by means of the nighttrain. We had a compartment coach with 4 beds and A/C. Soviet-luxury. It wasn't very bad. I actually loved it. I watched the jungles, lakes and little houses pass by, in the moonlight. It was actually a pretty romantic sight. I was seeing all this from the comfort of a bed with a duvet and a fiercely blowing A/C-unit.
We spent two days in Sapa. This is a place way up North, next to the border with China. A lot of indigenous people live here. Most of the tribes still live by their old beliefs and traditions. Most of these people are dressed in their traditional clothes. It was a lovely sight. All those costumes are handmade and many of their outfits took months to make.
We did a trekking with a local guide. A girl from the Red Dzao-tribe. Her name was Pame and she was 24 years old. Married since she was 18 years old and blessed with a 3 year old child. She explained that most of the marriages are arranged and that the average age of the bride and groom is 16.
We actually went to a marriage-fest! Our guide was invited and asked us if we didn't mind coming along for awhile. Ofcourse not! We felt like anthropoligists for a split second, there!
So. Halfway during the trekking we had to cross A LOT of ricefields in the sizzling heat to reach the village where the wedding was being celebrated.
When we arrived we saw: the pig that survived the feast, dogs everywhere (problably survivors as well) , some men vomiting and quite a few men that were passed out.
We were led to a table next to a shed (where The Elder Men were busy passing out, due to the rice wine).
First things first. Food and drinks. Porc, rice, morningglory and rice wine. Actually it was more like bio-gasoline, I reckon 50% alcohol. To the bride and groom! (i took fake sips...)
After an hour or so we had some food, (fake) toasts and after that were excused and continued the trekking.
Sapa is highly recommendable!

Back to Hanoi, to the airport to fly to Hoi An.

My Vietnam-highlight, without a doubt, Hoi An.
We stayed quite some time here. With good reason. It is the best! The cultural & architectural heritage survived the many wars Vietnam has suffered. This town has it all. History, the cutest old town and many culinary highlights, a dish I couldn't get enough of: White rose. Dumplings filled with a shrimp-mousse. A secret recipe, only 1 family in Hoi An knows how to prepare it. It has  quite a lot of lovely café's, beautiful beaches and around 500 tailors! Yes! The only town in the world with that many tailors. Ofcourse we couldn't resist and had heaps of clothes made ( I left Amsterdam with 12kgs and came back with 20kgs. I rest my case). A lot of the stuff I had made is already in the garbagebin. But! One piece stood out from the rest, a sleeveless motorstyle-jacket, that is a favorite piece in my wardrobe at this moment.

It was time to go to Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City).
A. Hysterical. Place.
We saw some highlights; the war remnants museum, markets, etc.

From there we did the coolest thing. A trip on vintage Vespa's through the Mekong Delta.
Sizzling hot. But such an adventure! So worth doing it. In many parts of this area life stood still. Life (seems) so simple, there.
After 2 and a half weeks in Vietnam we traveled to Bangkok and indulged in luxury, shopping, footmassages and culinary highlights ( thank God, I lost those vacation-kilo's again).
As mentioned before, more exploration to be done in that area. I can't wait.
May I say: I love Vietnam!

PS, my apologies for any misspellings, since I am writing this on my ipad and via a crappy blog-app. Double troubleI. I'm sure I will edit it in the near future.
Also the pics.  All mixed up. Pffffff.
So for now, bear with me. :-)

donderdag 15 maart 2012

Coffee and the city

Here a post about a subject I have been thinking about for a long time.

Living in Amsterdam is great. I go almost everywhere by bike.
Because of my job I get to have a lot of time off (yes, I am that lucky!). One of my favorite passtimes is to sit in a nice coffeeplace and chill. Mostly surfing the web, answering emails, meeting up with friends and, ofcourse, enjoy good cups of coffee.

I have a couple of favorite spots.

My very favorite spot is Two For Joy-Coffeeroasters at the Frederiksplein (they have another place at the Haarlemmerdijk) . The best coffee in town, in my opinion, and the owners are two fantastic guys, whom I grew very fond of.
The atmosphere there is very 'Brooklyn'. Customers from all over the world enjoy their coffee, whilst sitting in Chesterfield sofa's.
I have spent hours and hours and hours over there. That's how much I love the place.

My second favorite place opened up a short while ago. In the area called 'de Pijp', which is close to my house. It is called Cotton Cake. Run by two of the cutest young ladies in town.
It is a such a joy to sit there. So light and airy (and they serve Two For Joy-coffee!). They also sell the cutest pieces of clothes and jewellry. And those sandwiches, brownies and toasties... Sigh.
Well done for these ladies!

Since last week a new runner up has opened. The Starbucks- concept store at the Rembrandtsplein.
Fantastic interior. Very impressive how many typical Dutch elements have been used in the interior. The coffee? Well, just Starbucks. Although they joined the hype of having a drip coffee bar.
Not a place where I can hang out all afternoon. It is too dark, too much artificial lighting. So. No.

Eventhough I love hanging out at these places, I'm still hoping and waiting for the 100%-perfect-spot.

In my next post I'm going to let my imagination run wild and tell you about my fantasy of the perfect coffee-hangout.

Until then,


Two for Joy- coffeeroasters

photo by:  www.thecitizn.com
                                  photos by:   www. maevdkrogt.wordpress.com

Cotton Cake

photos by me

Starbucks, Rembrandtsplein

(San Francisco coffee > )
 photos by me