Category Archives: Travel

A Day at the Van Gogh Museum

Van Gogh MuseumLocated in Amsterdam’s Museumplein district, the Van Gogh Museum boasts the largest collection of Van Gogh paintings and drawings in the world. It is centrally located and it was a lovely walk from our hotel.

If you’re ever in Amsterdam, be sure to check out first hand The Bedroom, Almond Blossom, Cypresses with Two Women, Starry Night Over The Rhone, The Night Café, Landscape at Twilight and what is widely believed to be his last work, Wheatfield with Crows. You won’t regret it.

Not surprisingly, Van Gogh inspired a new generation of artists, whose works are also featured in the museum collection. These were a few of my personal favorites:

Odilon Redon, The Red Tree, 1905

Odilon Redon, The Red Tree, 1905

Odilon Redon, The Buddha, 1904

Odilon Redon, The Buddha, 1904

Kees van Dongen, The Blue Dress, 1911

Kees van Dongen, The Blue Dress, 1911

Pierre Bonnard, Montmartre in the Rain, 1897

Pierre Bonnard, Montmartre in the Rain, 1897


Protected: Our Summer Outing in Amsterdam

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Protected: The Dutch Countryside

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Protected: Hanging in Scheveningen

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Hoxton Hotel Amsterdam

The Hoxton, Amsterdam, the first location outside of London in The Hoxton series opened for business 2 days ago. Apparently, we were one of the first guests to be received at the new location.

The location on Herengracht was central and very convenient. We walked everywhere. To the Van Gogh Museum. To the best Thai restaurant in the city, Bird. To the de Bijenkorf department store where they were having the biggest sale of the year (I bought a pair of jeans for 5 euros!!!).

Made up of 5 canal houses this grand dame building was once home to the Mayor in the 17th century. Now it houses 111 rooms spread across 5 floors with high ceilings and lots of canal views from each side of the building. Downstairs there’s a restaurant and an upstairs mezzanine coffee and cocktail den.

The interior design of the rooms by local designers Nicemakers were inspired by the building’s history and local neighborhood. Each room was cleverly designed and elegantly presented down to every detail. There were handwritten postcards with pictures of Dutch resort towns that even had stamps and postmarks on it. The bathroom was stocked with the hotel’s own brand of amenities, Pen & Ink in collaboration with alchemist Liza Witte and illustrator Hedof that included bar soap, shampoo, conditioner and body wash.

The mattress was nice and firm and I loved the rainmaker shower! We also had free Wi-Fi and a iMac station where the kids could watch YouTube cartoons while the adults relaxed with a glass of wine.

In the morning we were supposed to get our daily breakfast in a bag containing yogurt, granola and a banana but the first 2 days… no breakfast. They eventually got it right. Understandable though as there are bound to be kinks that need to be worked out when first opening. It’s certainly a clever idea– you gotta give em that. Service was courteous and friendly (especially the front desk and waitstaff), which I consider high on my list when choosing accommodations.

I would highly recommend a stay at the Hoxton Amsterdam but it is a popular hotel chain so book early.

Protected: A Quick Visit to Miami

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Casco Viejo, Panama

Dilapidated shell in Casco Viejo

We feel like time travelers wandering through the old city of Casco Viejo, which sits on a peninsula that juts out of the Bay of Panama. Declared a world heritage site by UNESCO, the architecture is a testament to its diverse rulers and settlers, from the Spanish and the French to the English and the Colombians, notwithstanding the three fires in the 18th century that all but reduced the city to ashes.

Ruben Blades' mansion in Casco Viejo

We come across a plaza with indigenous women hawking their wares to tourists. They are camera-shy and won’t let me take a photo unless I was buying something. Her little girl, however was not so shy and squealed with joy at all the attention lavished on them.



We made our way through the narrow streets with its embassies, the presidential palace, celebrity mansions juxtaposed against dilapidated shells with various shrubbery growing out of the crumbling brickwork, we made our way back to our car. We made a wrong turn and crossed an imaginary boundary into El Chorillo, the barrio just north of Casco Viejo, the origin of most of the city’s organized crime. Pastel colored walls splashed with graffiti, shabby wooden shacks and make-shift cinder block houses with rusting corrugated roofs were all the eyes could see in a brief terror-filled few minutes when we were lost.

We get back to the hotel and walk to a nearby tapas restaurant with a patio and enjoy grilled snapper and local beer.