cafes, canals & coffeeshops ~Amsterdam~

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Amsterdam was like a picturesque scene every turn of a corner. It was a blur of fresh mint tea in the light Friday afternoon sun and late night apple pie at Winkel’s after sitting outside a coffee shop around the corner. People sat along the riverside as the sun shone brightly, picnicking with friends or just admiring the passers-by.

We explored the area of Jordaan which we were staying in; each street was a row of Dutch houses, perfectly aligned but sometimes jagged as the ground has sunk over time – creating mini leaning towers. And the cafes of course, vegan food galore all over the city. We wandered in and out of galleries and shops in the nine shopping streets, all the while taking caution to avoid the bicycles streaming fast down the cobblestone streets.

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The tulips lining the streets of Amsterdam were nothing compared to the rows and rows of colour just an hour away from the city in the Keukenhof gardens. Flowers of every colour stretched for miles and miles, and everything from red tulips to cherry blossoms could be found. Fortunately, the classic Amsterdam cold and rainy weather was in hiding and the sun came out for us; the perfect opportunity to eat strawberries and cream in the grass surrounded by flowers and happy dogs and children.

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One of my favourite things about the city is that while each street looks similar at first, but deceptively is the opposite. Down each cosy alleyway is hidden coffee shops, cafes, boutiques, busy people and something new to explore – just mind the bikes tied up against the railings…

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tapas and sangria

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The sunshine greeted us from the first moment in Barcelona, and after filling up on paella and sangria at the local restaurant the conversations flowed from life and love to travel and futures and everything in between. The next day we found ourselves winding through tiny streets of gothic town eyeing the washing dangling over the window sills in the tiny apartments. We ended up by the ocean, calmed by the eb and flow of the water as I watched people run along the shoreline and soaked up the sun rays.

Afternoons spent laying in the park as music played from all corners surrounding us and a street performer entertained the intrigued crowds. As the sky turned from blue to hues of orange as the sun went down, we made our way to an underground bar; an atmosphere enhanced by the dimly lit wall of liquors behind the bar and the looming Marilyn Monroe propped up in place of a window.

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After traipsing around the Gaudi’s intricately mosaicked Park Güell we stopped at a small Mexican tapas restaurant with colours jumping off the walls and the smell of fresh tortilla chips and chili filling the air. Our plates overflowed with bright avocado, beans, Mexican cheese and cooked cactus (which tasted surprisingly good).

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Finally, after wandering down tiny alleyways which opened into beautiful Plazas cornered off by cafes, we ended our final night in Barcelona in El National: a rather expensive-looking warehouse of bars and eateries. Perched at a bar with a Spanish waiter serving too many glasses of wine to us, we ate and drank and talked and watched the people pass by until the hours turned into the next morning.

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musings about the future

soph

Sometimes you need to take your future into your own hands, collect all your wisdom, fears and thoughts and let them rush out of you and assemble into something unique, creative and inspiring.

There’s always that quote by Karen Lamb: “a year from now you will have wished you started today”

“a year from now you will have wished you started today”

– and that’s so true. Why do we not take initiative to make a change more often? Why do we always wish it upon someone else to make the start for us?

I recently watched a TED talk by Reshma Saujani called ‘Teach Girls Bravery, Not Perfection’. She comments on society’s need to have girls creating perfect things, words, images, jobs – everything. But why, when we are brought up as girls are we not taught to aspire to be BRAVE, be bold, be daring to take risks? Under society’s cruel watch girls are brought up to be the ideal citizen, child, daughter, mother and student. But we are not taught to embrace life, to go after our dreams and chase that high end career we really want even if we might not be fully qualified.

Why are we not teaching young women to embrace their future and take it into their own hands, despite not being perfect. We don’t need to be perfect, we need to embrace our flaws and quirks and instead think of them as unique bubbles of inspiration. Those weird dreams you have? Pick up a pencil and turn them into art. Then release your words or images into the world and watch them as people are inspired by you.That place you’ve always wanted to travel to? Buy a plane ticket or take a road-trip.

But do it today.

Don’t wait until you’ve perfected your idea. Don’t wait until ‘the time is right’. Be brave. Embrace the now because you don’t know what the future holds. Don’t wait for destiny to kick in – as strong as the universe’s spiritual forces of nature can be, why not take it into your own hands, your own mind and actually BE the change?

The future isn’t coming; it’s here. And it’s waiting for you to make your move.