Top 5 Things to Do in Amsterdam.

I’ve written about all of the things below in greater detail, but if you’re planning a trip to Amsterdam in the near future, these are the condensed top 5 things i would recommend doing! (See all my writing on Amsterdam here.)

1. Albert Cuyp Market. If you want to see a local side of town, this – the oldest street market in the Netherlands – is it. The market is exploding in stalls of things to try – everything from frites stands (mmm!) to lingerie shops. We took a full morning to peruse the selection and mostly ate our way through, devouring a powder-sugar-covered waffle at Wally’s Wafels and gorging ourselves on local olives. The prices are unparalleled for such gourmet food! (The market runs Monday – Saturday, 9 am – 5 pm).

top 5 - market

2. A Bike Tour. Really, i’m sure any company will do you just fine; Mike’s Bikes was great for the youthful, edgy side of Amsterdam (if a little heavy on the information about weed and prostitution for people not looking for that sort of entertainment) but if you want to get the lay of the land hop on a bike and go. It is the local way of getting around, after all!

shop cats make for the best bikes!

shop cats make for the best bikes!

3. The Van Gogh Museum. While the actual Van Gogh museum was undergoing renovations whilst we were in Amsterdam, the Hermitage Museum displayed the bulk of the collection in a special exhibit. Regardless of their housing, Van Gogh’s paintings come alive off the walls and force you to pay attention to their kinetic, vibrant energy. Though this is on the pricier end of Amsterdam museums, it is worth every cent!


4. Dam Square. Though this is certainly the touristy center, there are so many great little shops to peak in (and wonderful people-watching!).  As a connoisseur of cheesy souvenirs, i loved shopping in Dam Square Souvenirs which is full of beautiful – if pricey – wooden shoes and other lovely Holland-themed merchandise. The best part, though, is the enormous yellow wooden shoe outside. Free mega-tourist-photo-op!

top 5 - souvenirs

5. Eat. Anything, really, but especially the bread, cheese, sausage, and frites! The Albert Cuyp Market is definitely the place to eat your way through, but don’t let your gastronomical exploits end there. Our favorite restaurant was van Kerkwijk, in Amsterdam Centruum. The menu is recited by the wait staff, who are warm and friendly folk, and it’s a selection abrim in quirky combinations (like steak slathered in strawberry sauce and goat cheese – shockingly good!). Another great place was right next to our hotel, the Café Onder de Ooievaar – the cheese and sausage plate made for a sumptuous late-night snack!

top 5 - eat

Bon voyage!

Highly Honorable Mentions:

The Anne Frank House (it was a wee bit crowded for this claustrophobic, but still very powerful – book tickets online & try to go first thing in the morning, rather than in the afternoon!)

if you like my condensed travel reviews, you’d probably like my tripadvisor profile!

current jam: ‘shake it out’ florence + the machine.

best thing: magna carterrrrr!


Fifteen Things in Six Months: The Challenge Revisited.

Greetings, Ducklings.

Last night, i published a rather lackluster account of my mostly-adequate attempt to accomplish ten tasks before January 1, 2012, set forth in September of 2011. I managed to do 6 out of the 10; not shabby, but certainly not stellar. As my friend Morgan commented, “6 out of 10 is passing in college, so I’ll take it.”

And while i’m glad to have at least passed my initial challenge, i am a Gryffindor. I don’t take defeat very well – not very well at all. Therefore, i am not going to lie down and let the list go undone – i am burning the boats, facing forward, and upping the ante. Perhaps not the wisest idea as i couldn’t even complete ten things, but still. Gryffindors are not always revered for their brains. And i did think i couldn’t write 50,000 words in one month, but i managed. So maybe i’ll surprise myself.

Enough rabble – to the point! I am now, hereafter setting forth, a new and revamped and more extensive list. What’s this? You already know what it is from the title?

Oh. Cut the dramatic music then.

Well, i guess here’s the list, and stuff:


  1. Go to a Broadway show.
  2. Shake John Green’s hand and tell him how Looking for Alaska saved me (melodramatic, but pretty true).
  3. Road trip to Vermont. Eat Brenna’s cooking.
  4. Get a summer job.
  5. See my brother Thom’s directorial debut – a play entitled The Pillowman, whilst never relinquishing the hand of the poor soul who winds up sitting next to me from sheer terror. (Seriously, the show will be brilliant and scarring).
  6. Go to a temple, synagogue, or some kind of house of worship different from the kind i was raised in.
  7. Apply for studying abroad in 2013.
  8. Finish the first draft of my novel.
  9. Host a live show on BlogTV or something akin.
  10. Go ice skating. Preferably on the MHC lake.
  11. Blog every single day for one week.
  12. Celebrate my one-year blogging anniversary with a giveaway!
  13. Write postcards. Actually mail them.
  14. Present a blog entirely in photographs.
  15. Watch a documentary.

Now, i do realize some of these are repeats from the last list. But! The things i’ve repeated are things i feel worth repeating – tasks i wished i had accomplished or ones i know i can do again. Big and small, these are the ten goals i aim to have completed by May 7th, 2012. Whew, that seems so distant from me now – but i am assured that, come that date, the time will have flown faster than the TARDIS.

Until then, ducklings.

current jam: ‘blink’ chameleon circuit.

best thing in my life right now: sherlock. new episode sunday! and the premiere of season 2 of downton abbey! (it’s really laughable when people call me productive. really. i do nothing but spew nonsense here and watch telly).

#7 completed: i wrote ten thousand letters…

But I intend to send them. And I only wrote four.

For those whom the Maroon 5 (/coughWarblerscough) reference flew past like a fizzing whizbee, allow me to explain: I have now completed my second task from the ten things list!

Considerably simpler than dying my hair, this achievement consists of writing actual letters/postcards and mailing them. Check. A few days ago, while purchasing some of my textbooks for classes I procured a box of over a 100 postcards, the set entitled Postcards from Penguin: One Hundred Book Covers in One Box. A collection of a hundred postcard-renditions of original Penguin Paperback covers, these fun little works of art were a fabulous addition both to my postcard collection and to my ‘things to mail’ shelf.

a century of quintessentially british paperbacks in one package!

And while I do confess a sizable portion of these works of art will plaster my walls and never make it to the mailrooms of America, a few already have been shipped off!

Sending postcards is such a lovely way to share a little happiness with people, so I’ve tried most especially since coming to college to regularly mail these little notes to friends far from me. And I, for one, love getting mail that isn’t an enticing credit card offer (not), bills (even more unwelcome), or a craptastic magazine. I hope to send many more postcards before the semester concludes, but I’m thrilled I have (for now) completed two of my ten challenges!

current jam: ‘sigh no more’ mumford & sons

bes thing in my life right now: classes today!

days until departure: 28

#1 completed: lizzie is now a ginger!

Greetings Friends,

Since I last wrote to you pertaining to the gross garmental displays in the Junior’s section at Kohl’s, I have officially moved back to college and am settled in, anxiously awaiting classes commencing tomorrow morning. It was a crazy few days involving some thirteen hours of road-tripping, abundant runs to the local suppliers of all needs for dorm-ware, tears-of-joy reunions, and most pervasively a sense of being home at long last.

While packing up my life before departing from NC, it occurred to me that I had not stayed in any one place longer than three weeks for nearly four months. In May, I drove from Massachusetts to NC, where I remained for some twenty days before leaving for Uganda. Once in the Pearl of Africa, life was nonstop (and a nonstop slowness). While I lived in  Kotido, we did travel rather frequently to and from the town- meaning my life was more often than not contained to a backpack. Please don’t mistake me in this, I love this kind of living. But then it was back to NC where I remained for another twenty days before one more big road trip to school.

And now here I am, with plans to remain put until Daddy McMizzie and I tear off for the UK in October. Lawd knows we with itchy traveler’s foot cannot stay in any one place for too long without the threat of spontaneous combustion.

Yet while I am the first to profess an adoration for travel and exploration, even I need consistency and a sense of place. Two aspects of my life I have been bereft of since April 30th, 2011. So coming home to school was a much-anticipated return to normalcy and stability…and my definition of thus is the commencement of a new semester, crammed full of new schoolbooks screaming to be scrawled upon, pens heralding me to hold them, books banging on my door to be cracked wide open and consumed.

Never a dull moment, dearest twelve readers, never a dull moment.

And to keep things spiced up in my ever-so-dull life, I thought it time I tackled the number one item on my ten things to do in four months list: I spontaneously dyed my hair.

Yup. It is Lizzie McMizzie in vivid pink, ya’ll.

Even though I intended it to be Lucille Ball red, but that’s a tale for another caboose, folks.

I’ve wanted to go ginger since I was in elementary school- the principle heroine in every one of my fantasies as a child (be they in written, drawn, sung, or otherwise acted out form) was a sassy, feisty redhead with a ton of spunk named Cara. In middle school I dreamed of having luscious red locks tumbling down off from my scalp- in high school I always threatened my poor parents with hair beyond all reckoning of normal colors should they decide to move. Through a combination of circumstances (work, parental wishes, guilt, and being a stupid scaredy-cat) I never worked up the guts for even one firetruck-inspired streak.

College has changed me.

Last night my friend Hattie spied a bottle of Splat hair dye tucked into my newly-arranged bookshelf, and before I could say ‘but I like having a soul!’ I was morphing into a Weasley.


hattie bleaching my hair!

bleach blonde = pseudo-cyndi-lauper look alike with all the wrong coloring?

i'm fred weasley! but alive...


She did a fabulous job, and the timing could not have been more perfect as today was Mount Holyoke’s 175th annual Convocation! At our school we do not have ‘school colors’ per se, but rather we have a class color. The colors rotate with each graduating class, and my color happens to be a vivid red. Per tradition at my beloved institution of higher learning, Convocation is celebrated with the students of each class clad in their respective colors; red, green, blue, or yellow. My new ‘do was delightfully apropos for the fesitivities- and while it has, since the initial coating, turned a shade more pink than red, I’m still thrilled with our somewhat spur-of-the-moment decision!

convocation, rain or shine!

home with my sisters at mount holyoke!

Makes one down, nine to go!

current jam: ‘laundry room’ avett brothers

best thing in my life right now: classes tomorrow! #NerdHeaven

days until departure for london(!): 29 days

p.s. all the pictures you see here are courtesy of my very dear friends grace and hattie!

ten things in four months.

As I no longer have adventures and crisis and the mundane ordinary of day-to-day existence of life abroad to chronicle here on this blog (a blog created expressly to do just that) I have decided to branch out.

It’s no secret that while this blog first was meant to document travel adventures, it has since grown into my brain-child of musings,  whining about bottomless wanderlust, and attempts to hash out thoughts (slash putting up pictures of my kitties). In this vein of Wandering Writes wandering off into new directions, I am prompting myself with a new blog theme to keep me writing in the coming months.

Inspired by my friend Mary Day Saou (who is a delight to know and I cherish her virtual presence on the web as well as knowing her in the flesh), I am creating a dream/goal list of things I hope to achieve before the conclusion of 2011. Granted, her list is 101 things to do in 1001 days, and mine is a mere ten things- but hey, baby steps. If I complete this list, than perhaps I shall commit myself to making a far longer and more involved one!

So without any further ado, I present ten things I hope to accomplish prior to January 1, 2011:

  1. Spontaneously dye my hair an exuberant color.
  2. Vote in local North Carolina elections!
  3. Go to a local band concert in the Pioneer Valley.
  4. Read a book during the semester purely for the enjoyment and pleasure of reading the book, not for explicit academic research or reasons.
  5. Travel somewhere historic in Massachusetts that I have not previously visited- like Salem, or the Lizzie Borden House.
  6. Read an Emily Dickenson poem on the Dickenson property.
  7. Write actual postcards and letters. Mail them.
  8. Visit a temple, synagogue, or place of worship from a faith that I was not raised in.
  9. Go to bed by ten on a school night.
  10.  Visit London and see a Shakespeare show!

Now, did you catch what I did there?

I hinted at the possibility of further travel excursions; namely to Europe, where I have never been. As it just so happens, I have already begun PLANNING my trip to London in the fall! My Dad and I are going to the UK for five days in October while I am on fall break. Needless to say, I am beside myself with excitement and anticipation. Since returning from Uganda I’ve satiated the travel itch in my feet by plotting and planning all the touristy and knick-knacky things we’ll be doing whilst in Great Britain. A few highlights do include seeing a Shakespeare show, visiting the Globe Theatre, and hitting up the Doctor Who Experience at the Earl’s Court Exhibition Center. I plan on just being one crazy anglophiliac tourist whilst in the country (well, one who doesn’t gawk awkwardly at locals or busts out the map in the middle of Trafalgar Square) and soaking in every deliscious fish-and-chips moment.

The other side to our trip is an academic one; I am hoping to study abroad for a semester my junior year in the UK. Part of our time is to look at one university in particular. So, you know, those two days of classes missed are not completely in vain.

But for now I have to finish packing and tear myself away from the internet because we embark on the endless road tomorrow, back to Mount Holyoke!


current jam: ‘idle days’ beirut (though i confess i have had to force myself to stop listening to the season 5/6 doctor who soundtracks…i keep quasi-accidentally calling my car the TARDIS and find myself worrying about alien incursions while folding the trousers. not conducive to focused speed-packing, i assure you)

best thing in my life at present: i will be home in three days. oh mount holyoke, we pay thee devotion!