the new hood

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Let me introduce you – this is Utrecht, my soon-to-be neighborhood as of December 2014. Now that I’m a bit accustomed to the Dutch way of life, I’m more than excited to venture into the big city, where daily explorations (& shopping) are obviously a must.

I hope you enjoy my little sneak peek, compliments of Instagram (be sure to follow me @whitneynixon17!) – I guarantee you’ll be seeing lots more of these jaw dropping sights in the upcoming months.

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Until next time – tot ziens!

XX – Whitney

bye bye, breda

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The past month has been a complete whirlwind and by the look of things, they are unlikely to slow down. On the bright side, whirlwinds bring excitement, new adventures and everlasting memories; while on the flipside, time flies.

The craze started the moment I heard my apartment sold. In a quick three weeks, I was packed, moved (or should I say stored), on the hunt for a new place and ready for my travel back to the states. My last few days in Breda were certainly bittersweet, as this cozy city introduced and broke me in to all things Dutch. It was truly the perfect place to begin my living abroad journey (not too big, not too small), and thanks to Breda, I am ready for the ‘too big’ city.

Stay tuned for a few more very exciting details… But until then, I hope you enjoy a few of my favorite Breda snapshots taken over the past six months.

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Until next time – tot ziens!

XX – Whitney

reasons for jet lag

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As do most vacas, my trip home to Florida went by way too quickly. Our two weeks were packed with family, friends, and lots of nautical fun – and I wouldn’t have had it any other way (unless an extension of a week… or three… was an option). While I’m still recovering from jet lag (one tough ole bird), I thought I would share a slight recap of our time in beautiful, sunny (for the most part) Florida.

Blue Wahoos game – Pensacola, Florida

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Watermelon cake for my cousin’s birthday

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Necessity for a day of swimming, floating and kayaking on the river

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Pensacola Beach, Florida

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Amazing Americana/nautical manicure

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Early birthday celebration with my parents and Joost

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One of my most favorite gifts (ever) – pretty sure I’m never taking it off

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Until next time – tot ziens!

XX – Whitney

ocean air, salty hair

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at the beach, life is different

time doesn’t move hour to hour

but mood to moment

we live by the currents

play by the tides

and follow the sun

– unknown

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I might be a little biased, but you can’t find beaches more beautiful than the ones on the Gulf Coast of Florida. Like Dorothy said, “There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home.”

Until next time – I’ll be soaking up the sun.

XX – Whitney

memories of home

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After a 4am wakeup call and 20 hour travel day (which led to a 26 hour day), Joost and I finally made it to Florida… and I couldn’t be happier. Our first day in The States consisted of good ole Southern cooking, a Wal-Mart run (never thought I’d be so happy to see that place), a couple of Starbucks stops and quality time with my parents and sweet little bichon, Muffi.

Growing up in Florida, I often took the sunsets, sights and ski time for granted. Of course, once you move away, you realize the gem you once had and long to have it back. So, it was a given, my first Florida sunset would be at home overlooking the basin. The memories here are countless as year after year, weekend after weekend, there always seemed to be a birthday party, ball team get-together or simply, my favorite, a Monster Tube date with friends. When reflecting on these memories, I couldn’t help but watch the sunset with a big smile and happy heart.

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Until next time – tot ziens!

XX – Whitney

belgium brews, chocolates & waffles

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Feeling the need for a mini road trip, Joost and I spontaneously decided to take off to Belgium this weekend (and when I say mini, I mean it, as the Belgium border is about 25 minutes from Breda). When crossing into a different European country, you’ll find it surprising there’s no border patrol, flashing lights or police waiting to check your passports – it’s much like driving state to state in America. Many European countries are about the size of US states (fun fact of the day: Belgium is roughly the size of Maryland), so I guess driving through Europe is comparable to driving through the US, just with obvious differences, such as culture and languages. Speaking of different languages, Belgium has a few of their own. Half of the country speaks a dialect of Dutch called Flems, whereas the other half speak French (and apparently the two sides do not get along, but at least they both make great chocolate and waffles!).

Our road trip took us to the cute, cozy city of Antwerp (shopper’s paradise and second largest city in Belgium). When driving through Antwerp, you can’t help but notice the beautiful church planted in the city center – so it was a given that would be our first stop. The astonishing ‘Cathedral of our Lady’ was built-in 1352, although it’s never been completely finished, and the highest steeple reaches 404 feet high.

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While walking along, you can’t miss ‘the building with the flags’ also known as the Town Hall. Many sights of the city were blocked off and set up for a triathlon, so please excuse the random tents and car display. Joost and I will most certainly have to come back when the skies are brighter and no events are in place. On the other side of the square, you’ll notice tall, narrow and intricately decorated buildings, known as the guild houses. These were homes to the most skillful guilds of the 16th and 17th centuries and the beautifully gold crafted decor are symbolic representations of the guilds who lived in each.

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As our journey continued, we passed the cutest little cafes and shops – oh how I wish I could have delighted in the chocolates and waffles, but I’m currently watching my carb and sugar intake, so a warm coffee on a rainy day sufficed.

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Before the light drizzle turned into a monsoon, we were able to visit the river and even on a rainy day, the sights were beautiful. The Port of Antwerp is actually one of the largest in Europe (believe the Netherlands and Germany are the biggest) and continues to be a solid moneymaker for Belgium. The ships, cobblestone bridge and beautiful views had me at hello.

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Hopefully our next visit will include sunny skies and warm weather, as there were so many things we weren’t able to capture through a lens.

Until next time – tot ziens!

XX – Whitney

sun, sand and saltwater

Spontaneous road trip to the beach? You can always count me in – even with a breezy high of 60 degrees. Tossing my bikini aside (tear), Rockanje essentials included: a light sweater, waterproof jacket, fleece-lined leggings and rain boots. Yes, rain boots (Florida people – please cease your laughter).

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We’re here! Wait… Are we at the beach? Or in the forest? Well, the answer is both! Never seeing anything like this before, I was in love with the little pre-beach walk – most certainly did a great job building my anticipation for the sun, sand and saltwater that lies ahead.

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Finally! After the longest walk ever (ok, it was only 4 minutes), I had the salty air upon my face, the ocean in my sight and the sand in between my toes… I mean, under my rain boots. To say the least, I was like a kid in a candy store. The calm waters, fresh breeze, dunes (quite possibly the biggest hills in Holland – really, this country is like a pancake) and instant tide changes were all noteworthy Rockanje attributes that quickly had me head over heels. I also loved how the beach is not only forever long, but also forever wide (which works in everyone’s favor – apparently once temps are considered beach weather appropriate, the entire country flocks to the coast – and when that time comes, I hope Joost is ready for a 5am departure). Even though the temps were cooler than your typical beach day, Joost and I had a wonderful time walking the beach, drawing in the sand, looking for shells, watching families build sand castles, laughing at dogs chase after sticks (apparently the water wasn’t too cold for them, brr) and ending our day with a beautiful beach sunset.

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I thought this was one of the most hilarious things I’ve ever seen (which is apparently common)… and they call us rednecks?

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Until next time – tot ziens!

XX – Whitney