Before and after: Nursery

It’s been a while since I blogged about the baby room, so I figured: why not do a nursery update? Quite a few things have changed since my last post about Tala’s room, and I’d love to show them to you.

The biggest change in the nursery has been the crib. From its previous incarnation as a bassinet…

Nursery before with Stokke bassinet

… our Stokke Sleepi had to be reconfigured into its crib form when Tala started sleeping in her room at three months. Have I said how much I love this bed and that it can grow with our baby?

Stokke Sleepi crib with mosquito net

Tala also outgrew her duyan, which now serves as a storage basket under the crib. And yes, that is a kulambo! The mosquito net became absolutely essential in the summer. Who knew that mosquitoes were part of the Amsterdam canal house dream? Though the weather has turned, we’ve kept the mosquito net up—because as Invader Stu has so perceptively pointed out, mosquitoes here don’t leave, they just put on an extra scarf.

More details and pictures after the jump!

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Fall colors on Instagram

Can you tell I really didn’t want to leave Greece behind? All those blog posts were my way of coping with the end of summer and of our Greek adventures. But fall is, and has been for some time now, really and truly here.

Much as I love summer, fall has its own pleasures. Those first few days of a change in the air, that crisp, cold summer air that made me want to breathe in deep lungfuls of it. Leather jackets and long knit cardigans, not to mention the dark tights that are so flattering to short, curvy ladies such as yours truly. Evenings with warm bubble baths, fluffy bathrobes, and full-bodied, smoky red wine.

And of course, the colors, which I’ve been documenting on .

Amsterdam fall on Instagram

There are not a lot of striking fall colors in Amsterdam, which makes the beautiful bright yellow of the elms so special. Amsterdam is filled with elm trees, particularly lining canals like ours. Seeing the yellow of fall reminds me of this same time last year, when we first fell in love with our home and our neighborhood.

Gray is another Amsterdam fall color—and much as I love gray, seeing it everywhere for weeks is not fun. It’s not the deep, velvety gray of gathering storm clouds, it’s just a sullen, flat gray, endless and kind of depressing. Ugh. On to happier thoughts.

I’ve come to associate fall with a time to buckle down and get to work. With the weather forcing lots of indoor time, it’s a season for starting creative projects, looking inward and focusing on home and family. This fall, I’ve taken up Dutch language classes again and signed up for a couple of cool classes on Skillshare.

I’m also working on plans for this blog, so stay tuned. And if you haven’t yet, come for more fall colors and other bits of everyday life in Amsterdam.

Greece: a few last things

Whenever I come back from a trip, it takes me ages to unpack. For me, the magic of travel doesn’t end when the plane touches down, or when I step inside our home—it’s when all my things are packed away and my suitcase is empty. Reluctant to end the spell, I often leave my suitcase on the floor for days, picking things up and putting them away one at a time.

I feel that way about my photos from Greece. I take a ridiculous amount of photos when I travel, and only post a fraction of them on the blog. I was feeling a little sad about relegating all those images to my hard drive, so I thought I’d choose a last few details to share as a sort of farewell to Greece.

There isn’t really much of a story to tie them all together. But these are the little things that made me smile:

Waking up in, and coming home to, our lovely room at the Kavos Hotel in Naxos.

Naxos Hotel Kavos

Aromatics—dried lavender and garlic—hung over doors in Naxos’s old town.

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Seven months!

My baby turns seven months old today!

Tala 7 Months

Sorry for the crappy lighting… this dismal gray fall light is not the best for photos!

This month, Tala started going to a gastouder twice a week. A gastouder (the direct translation is guest parent, but loosely it means a childminder) runs a mini-daycare in their home, with a maximum of three or four children. When I was learning about childcare options in Holland, I wasn’t ready to put Tala in daycare with its bigger groups of up to nine kids and more institutional system.

Then I discovered the gastouder option, which seemed like a good middle ground. The idea of fewer kids and a cozier setting in a home environment was really appealing to me; the Dutch ideal of coziness has really sunk in after nearly three years of living here!

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Atlantis Books in Oia, Santorini

What’s with this year and awesome bookstores? First there was the Stedelijk Museum bookshop, where I scored a really cool alphabet book for Tala. Then there was our visit to Selexyz Dominicanen, a 12th century church-turned-bookstore in Maastricht. Good things must come in threes, because this is the third fantastic bookstore of the year: Atlantis Books in Oia, Santorini.

Atlantis Books Oia Santorini

I was first drawn in by the palm-sized, beautifully printed books displayed out front. They’re published by Paravion Press and are designed to be sent by mail. I’d be thrilled to receive one of these from Santorini… better than a postcard, indeed!

Atlantis Books Oia handmade books

Then I saw this and just had to laughed. For €5, which do you think would be a better companion: a cat or a book? I’d have a hard time choosing, although if it was our cranky black cat for rent, I’d probably advise someone to take a book.

Atlantis Books Oia rent-a-cat

It’s hard to resist something that makes you laugh out loud, and Atlantis Books did just that with this adorable display. How could I not step inside?

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Oia: postcard perfect Santorini

Santorini was supposed to be the relaxing, pampering leg of our Greece trip, but things turned out differently. Not only did Marlon and I get sick, but Tala came down with her first flu on our last three days in Santorini—not a first any new parents want to have while on holiday. Heavily medicated and confined to our hotel room in Imerovigli, we could see Oia winking at us from a distance. So near, yet so far.

“Oia is the postcard Santorini,” I croaked weakly, after sucking out gobs of snot from Tala’s nose while Marlon coughed his way through three boxes of tissues. “We can’t have come all this way and not see it. We have to make it there. We just have to!”

It almost seemed we would never make it to Oia. That we’d have to come back for it when Tala reaches a more manageable age (when she’s 15 and just wants to party in Mykonos, not hang out with her parents in Santorini). But on our last day in Santorini, we finally felt well enough to venture out to Oia.

Did we push it a little? Probably. Was it worth it? Definitely.

Oia Santorini white houses

Oia is probably the most photographed village in the Cyclades, if not in all of Greece—and for good reason. It is just unbelievably photogenic.

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7 great places to catch the sunset in Santorini

In Santorini, life revolves around the sunset. Visitors to this stunning island plan their days around the precious minutes when the sun sinks into the sea. During golden hour in Santorini, “I do’s” are said, roofs climbed, wine glasses clinked, hands squeezed a little bit tighter, and tens of thousands of camera shutters clicked in furious sync.

What makes the Santorini sunset so magical? Combine the drama of being perched on a tiny white village atop volcanic cliffs with the vastness of the Aegean Sea. Add the liquid gold of Greek sunlight and the mirror-calm waters of one of the world’s most famous calderas—the stillness is purely visual of course, there’s an active volcano down there!—and you have all the makings of an unforgettable experience.

As the saying goes, there’s more than one way to skin a cat—and as I discovered, there’s more than one place to enjoy an amazing sunset in Santorini.

1) The village of Oia.

Anyone who’s been to Santorini will tell you not to miss the sunset in Oia. “It’s the most famous sunset in Europe!” a local resident declared to me with pride. This picturesque village at Santorini’s northern tip gives a view of the whole caldera, showing off the island’s crescent shape from one end to another.

Santorini sunset-Oia wide shot

Oia’s whitewashed houses are its most distinctive feature. The cliffside is studded with them, reflecting the changing hues of the sunset—a palette that cycles from warm gold to rosy pink to dusky blue.

Santorini sunset-Oia crop

Be warned: to say Oia is crowded at sunset is an understatement. People will hunt for their spot hours before the sunset and camp out in the blazing sun to protect it. Fortunately, pretty much any place in Oia offers a good vantage point for a spectacular sunset, whether it’s poolside at a hotel or perched on a random wall.

Santorini sunset-Oia crowds

But there are a couple of sweet spots in Oia worth checking out, such as…

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Naxos: Traditional charm at Taverna Lefteris

If you read up on the town of Apiranthos, most travel guides that mention this tiny village in the hills of Naxos will point you toward Taverna Lefteris for food and drink. While exploring the village, we decided to ask a few locals: “What really is the best place to eat around here?” Their answers all matched: Lefteris, indeed! So we couldn’t leave Apiranthos without dropping by this taverna off the teeny-tiny main square for a late lunch.

Apiranthos Taverna Lefteris6

Inside, we discovered the most appealing combination you could ever ask for in a traditional Greek taverna: zero tourists (except us, sorry!) and loads of traditional charm.

Apiranthos Taverna Lefteris1

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Away from it all in Apiranthos

Naxos was our Greek island of choice mainly for its beautiful beaches. But sea, sun and sand can be the same almost anywhere, and after a few days I started seeking visual confirmation that I was indeed in Greece. We decided to rent a car and drive inland, curious about the tiny villages in the hills and mountains of the island.

After living in flat-as-a-pancake Holland, I realized I’ve lost my ability to tell hills and mountains apart. Everything looks like a mountain to me now, and I get wildly excited about even the least bit of elevation.

So I loved the drive into the heart of Naxos, especially seeing the tiny Greek Orthodox churches perched on the most impossible of peaks. In some places, it’s as if someone built a church there just to prove that it could be done. There are three churches in this shot, can you see them?

Naxos mountain churches

Tucked into the hills (okay, I’m pretty sure these are hills) along the way were shining white villages, standing out against a landscape that managed to be both lush and dry at the same time.

Naxos hill village

We decided to stop at a tiny village called Apiranthos after reading that it’s considered by many to be one of the most picturesque villages on the island. That’s because many of its houses, walls and even streets are made of white marble.

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Exploring the port of Naxos

During our recent trip to Greece, we had a three-hour wait between our flight and ferry times. The idea of being forced to wait at the port with Tala really stressed me out. This is probably because the only vivid image of a port in my mind is the port of Manila… and believe me, it’s not somewhere you want to be stuck for three hours with a six month-old baby.

You can’t imagine how delighted and relieved I was to arrive in Naxos town (or Hora as it said on the Greek road signs) and discover this.

Naxos Greece

Sparkling aquamarine waters, crashing waves, beautiful white buildings… well, there are worse places to be stuck waiting for a ferry.

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