I’m Back

I feel like Arnold Schwarzenegger as I said “I’ll be back”, and well,  here I am! I am back in the 6ix (and just in time for a sweet Raptors win). I have no super crazy announcements to make…yet…so no need to rush out and purchase tickets to a play or schedule your DVR to record me on TV. However, I can say that I have been hitting the ground running, literally, since we have landed.
Toronto View at NIght
I have been lucky enough to reconnect with my previous agent, Scott Merritt, who has been sending me to multiple auditions a WEEK. Being back has brought on some new challenges, as auditioning in Amsterdam is quite different from Toronto, so that will take a bit to get used to again.  It has been refreshing to get my feet wet in the Canadian acting realm.

For those interested, I have also started to post more regularity on my YouTube channel (Mellie Telly). I took a small hiatus (to ship our editing computer overseas of course) but I am back, with so much new content that I am incredibly excited to share with you on a more routine schedule! So please head over to Mellie Telly and subscribe now to stay notified of my latest videos, I’d love your support. My most recent videos are on the 160th Queens Plate in Toronto, and Bonnieheath Estate Lavender & Winery.

I am also excited to announce that I will now be blogging for Master Traveller, and continuing to share my love of travel! Check out my Q and A HERE.

There are a few more exciting new projects on the horizon, and I can’t wait to get back into the swing of things. Stay tuned!

Cheers,
Melissa

Sweet Dreams

Travel tip Tuesday - Getting Good Sleep
Happy Travel Tip Tuesday! This month’s tip is nothing to lose sleep over. I want to help you feel well rested after your free walking tour in your city of choice. I know it can be quite difficult to catch some Z’s when you are traveling in an unfamiliar setting, flying in and out of different time zones, getting stuck with pancake pillows (the worst), a lumpy mattress, or itchy sheets. Add in some AirBnB roomies and a new environment filled with creepy sounds, and you have a recipe for disaster for your sleeping schedule. So here are some tips to try on your next trip!

Get Active
First, I try to stay active all day long (8am-10pm), which is not very hard to do in a new place. If you spend all day exploring, going on adventures, hiking, climbing to the tops of cathedrals or walking around endlessly in museums, you will naturally be pooped at the end of the day. Trust me. If you are more of a vacation lounger, this may be a bit more difficult unless you are soaking up a lot of the suns rays all day – that alone can make you a bit sleepy. However, try not to nap while resting on that beach, as tempting as it is, as that can affect your sheep counting ability in the PM.
Pink PJs
Cut the Caffeine
I need a coffee IV to function in the morning, ask my husband. It is NOT a pretty sight until I’ve had my caffeine fill. But when traveling I cut myself off by mid-afternoon, as caffeine can stay in your blood for 6 to 8 hours! This is to ensure I’m not all hyped up on my second wind when I should be dreaming of my early morning excursion. (Find out why getting up early is essential when traveling HERE).
Morning Java
Just Ask
Whether you are in a hotel, motel, AirBnB, bed and breakfast, whatever, don’t be afraid to just ask for what you need! Prefer having 3 pillows? More blankets? A fan on (whether for just the white noise or the gentle breeze), ask the host/concierge. It doesn’t hurt to inquire about what will help you reach your sleep goals. Worst case – it’s a no. I find I sleep best when there is a window cracked open, as often it’s hard to get comfortable when the room is too hot and stuffy. If you know you may need certain items in your room beforehand, make a special request so you don’t have to ask after check-in when you just want to hit the hay and put your head down.
Good Night
Other Options
When in doubt, put your phone down and your screen away, pick up a book, relax, have a glass of warm milk (not wine – that can affect your hormones and disrupt your sleep) and pop some melatonin. This is a non-prescription drug that aids in rising your melatonin hormone levels and gives you a little nudge towards sweet dreams. However before taking any drugs or sleep aids, I highly suggest consulting with a physician or doing your own extensive research, I’m not a doctor, clearly!

Do you have issues sleeping when you travel? What do you do to aid it? Any questions for my next monthly travel tip? Let me know in the comments below!

Cheers,
Melissa

10 Things To Do in Mallorca; Caves, Castles, Cathedrals & more!

A great getaway location is Palma de Mallorca (Majorca). This tourist destination is the capital (and largest) city of the Balearic Islands in Spain. It can be intimidating deciding where to go and what to do on the island, so here are my recommendations to ensure an adventure filled trip! There I discovered that most of this dazzling island is covered by a mountain range – a pleasant surprise when we landed. This leads me to my first recommendation when visiting this popular island…
Road Trip Views
1) Rent a car. Start with something relatively narrow, and not a large SUV, or a Fiat (we’ve had issues with those on tight narrow bumpy drives), but definitely leave the comfort of your hotel and drive through the mountains. Literally. There are tunnels carved out through the mountains to get you to the other side faster than zig-zagging up and around. The freedom of driving allows you to make your own schedule, stay where you like and stop when you want for photos of this stunning landscape. Warning, do not follow Google maps blindly, as multiple times we ended up in some sticky situations going uphill in places that were likely meant just for hiking. We may have gotten stuck in a pothole or two – don’t tell the car rental company!
Fornalutx
2) Break in Smaller towns. Okay, you got the car, snacks and a full tank of gas, now what? My first stop would be Fornalutx, nestled in the Tramuntana mountain range. Voted one of the most beautiful places in Europe, I can see why! Stop here for lunch with a view, stroll through the town, and get lost among the cobblestone streets and orange trees. I enjoyed the free range to explore wherever we liked, including an old unique cemetery that was hidden away. We spent a few hours here just basking in the sun and admiring the authenticity of this charming quiet place, with only 1 bus stop – can you imagine! Some other great towns to stop along your road trip include Valldemossa, Soller, Pollenca, and Alaro.
Bellver Castle at Sunset
3) Hike up to Bellver Castle. Built back in 1300, this circular castle was once a residence to kings and queens, then converted into a military prison, and is now the post for the city’s history museum. I really enjoyed our time spent here, especially with the lack of tourists during the down season. A unique aspect of this stop is that you can hike around it for free on their many trails; an activity we did on Christmas Day. So camp out and enjoy the sunset over the Mediterranean sea.
Palace of La Almudaina
4) Feel like a royal at Palace of La Almudaina. By now you probably get that we have seen a lot of palaces. They are fun to visit for the architecture, history and décor inspirations (crown molding and gold everywhere, am I right!?). Royal Palace of La Almudaina dates back to Roman times and hosts one of the most beautiful chapels in the city! For any EU residents reading this, they also have free admission on Wednesday and Thursday afternoons, so now you have no excuse not to visit. However, it was a bit on the small side and is not as glamorous as Versailles, so don’t walk in with high expectations.
Castell d’Alrao
5) Castle ruins in the hills. Sick of castles yet? Hope not because this top 10 contender is worth the drive out of the city. Perched on top of a large rocky mountain, overlooking the town of Alaro, above the clouds are the ruins of Castell d’Alrao. We followed Google’s suggestion to drive up and it was terrifying! The roads are tiny, windy and bumpier then the 29 Dufferin Street bus in Toronto if you can believe that. The narrow roads make it nearly impossible when passing other cars, especially the people that bring their large SUVs, so good luck with that. I pretty much held my breath the entire drive to the restaurant near the free parking lot. We walked from the lot to the castle, which takes about 1.5 hours if you are not an avid hiker. Tip: Pack water and snacks. There is another parking spot much further up the hike, but I have noooo idea who would want to drive there, as at this point the road is pretty much non-existent and truly a one lane road, so if there is oncoming traffic one car would have to back up on the mountain, not my view of a good time. Ascending to the top is rewarded by one of the best views in Palma and an opportunity to check out the castle ruins and monastery at the top.
Palma Marina
6) Walk along the waterfront in Palma. Strolling along the marina is the perfect way to check out the puddle jumpers to the personal yachts rivaling Carnival Cruise Line. Stop for a drink, watch the sunset or lick some ice cream. This is one of the most inexpensive things you can do, AND a great way to view the city. A fun game on your walk: look at the names of the boats along the way, pick your favourite and try to guess how the owners can afford them! Yup, we are nerds.
Cathedral de Mallorca
7) Cathedral de Mallorca is the architectural jewel of the island. It does cost money to go inside, however, if you are there over Christmas Eve you can enter for free for the midnight mass (which actually starts at 11, not 12, and I recommend starting to line up early, at least by 10:30 pm). This is the best way to see the Cathedral in all its glory, lit up and decorated for the festive season, filled with the delightful smell of incense and singing churchgoers. There is a large selection of cathedrals to visit, however, during our trip; most were closed during the day. Oh, Island time.
Port de Pollenca
8) Stop for a swim at Port de Pollenca. This beach is great to explore with its soft sand and near perfect washed up shells. Though it was not warm enough to swim in December, the empty beach was the perfect setting for a nice long walk and some photos for the Gram. End the stroll by watching the sunset while eating cheese and crackers, and let’s not forget some Spanish wine. Or you can grab tapas at one of the many local restaurants – though not all will be open this time of year. See my previous blog post about this HERE. Plus, if you are like us, we prefer not to have tapas and like full entree meals.
Palma de Mallorca
9) Old town timing. Palma’s old town looks like a movie set. Not only is it filled with all the best places to eat, shop, and see, but it really gives the feeling that you are traveling through time. The roads are tiny and untouched, as they would have been originally. Most of the must-see tourist museums are located within this downtown core, including the cathedral and palace. It houses scenic squares, century-old streets, gothic details and Instagram worthy hot spots like Passeig del Born. Be sure to nibble on some tapas (often overpriced), street meat (literally a paper cone filled with jamón serrano [ham]) and their famous Paella rice dish (great for vegetarians).
Coves de Campanet
10)  Explore the caves. The Coves de Campanet are located on Mount Sant Miquel, in Northern Mallorca. Visits include an hour guided tour through multiple spacious chambers. It was a really unique experience, which we were lucky enough to enjoy without a crowd. Normally in the summer, the groups can span from 75 to 100 people, which can get quite crowded through certain passages. Since we were alone with one other couple, we were allowed to venture off and explore on our own, and allowed to take as many photos as we’d like! It can be a bit slippery, wet and hot inside, so dress appropriately.

There are more museums and churches in Palma then you could count on one hand, or even two. As long as you are not traveling over the Christmas holidays you will have an incredible list of opportunities to explore. You can vacation here on any budget, but I recommend coming when more attractions are open. Want to see more from our trip? Check out my YouTube video on Mellie Telly HERE. If you enjoy it please be sure to like it and subscribe!

Have you been to Spain? Did you visit Palma de Mallorca? Let me know in the comments below, Id love to hear from you!

Cheers,
Melissa

Acting Updates

I’ve been posting so much about travel and (wedding) life lately that I thought it might be a nice idea to update you on what is happening in the acting world for me!
In Makeup
Since returning to Amsterdam as a married woman, I have had some great opportunities come my way! I was recently in an international phone commercial that is airing in India right now (watch it HERE) and an anti-wrinkle cream infomercial (I guess I’m at that age now haha)! Both times on set, I didn’t feel as excluded as I often do with the language barrier, as both productions were a cast and crew of internationals from all over. That was a welcomed change. It can get a bit lonely on set when you don’t speak the common language.
One Plus Phone Commercial
I am also part of the crew of a wonderful show presented by the InPlayers called ‘An Enemy of the People’, which will be playing late November! You can get your tickets HERE, with more Details below (show poster created by Quin Mero):
An Enemy of the People
Though it can be difficult to find acting gigs for native English speakers in Amsterdam (compared to Toronto), things are slowly starting to pick up. I’m also attempting to make my own work and create my own opportunities with lots of passion projects on the way. I can’t say too much now but stay tuned for more announcements soon!
OnePlus
Are you acting abroad? Let me know in the comments below!

Cheers,
Melissa

Top 7 Things to Do in Berlin

Berlin is an exciting city with something for every kind of traveler, not just for the history buffs, but the art lovers, gardeners, foodies and more. After spending a long weekend exploring the bustling city, I have decided to list my top 7 suggestions of things to do while in this German city. So let us begin!
The Berlin Wall
1) Topography of Terror Documentation Center: There is a reason why over 1.3 million people visited this free museum last year. This indoor and outdoor exhibit is located on a site which was formerly the headquarters for the SS during the Nazi regime. It is also where a part of the Berlin Wall was located from 1961 to 1989, this remaining piece is now the longest existing segment of the outer wall. This museum has a lot of reading; it makes a Ph.D. dissertation look like a postcard. If you want to read it all, be prepared to spend an afternoon. I recommend it. Learn about the history not just of Germany, but Europe, and really the world. Learn from past mistakes. Learn to prevent this from ever happening again. Take a moment to also respect the lives that were lost.
Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp
2) Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp: Since we are on the topic of WW2, I suggest taking a walking tour with New Europe Tours to visit Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp. This tour is about 5 plus hours (including travel time), and only 16 Euros plus a transit pass. Granted there is more than enough to do within Berlin, take a moment and leave the city to experience something else. If you don’t have 5 hours, they also offer PWYC tours that stay inside the downtown core of Berlin and last only a couple of hours.
View of Berlin
3) Get a View: See Berlin from above or at least get the aerial shot for Instagram. Now you do have many options. You can do what everyone else does and go to the Fernsehturm Television Tower’s observation deck and be surprised with the unnecessarily long lineup and a pricey ticket. Want a better view surrounded by buildings instead of on the outskirts? I suggest you skip the line and head over to Kollhoff-Tower in the Potsdamer Platz. There is also a café up top if you want to rest and fuel up with a beverage. For something different, go up in the tethered hot air balloon at WELT Balloon Berlin Service LLC.
Opera House
4 ) Bebelplatz: This stop is free; it is a square after all. I suggest it not just to check out the gorgeous pink Opera House, which looks amazing at sunset, but for the whole area. There you will also see buildings of Humboldt University, and St. Hedwig’s Cathedral, the first Catholic Church built in Prussia after the Reformation. This location is also where the infamous Nazi book burning took place on the evening of May 10th 1933. Today you can see a memorial on the ground in the middle of the square by Micha Ullman.
Sanssouci in Potsdam
5) Potsdam: If you follow my Instagram account you will have seen my gorgeous photos of this loveable town. Why did I enjoy it so much? I felt like I was in Versailles! No really! There is an endless supply of castles (which you can enter for a small fee) and gardens galore. I suggest taking the train (less than an hour away) and checking out this area for an all day trip. Stroll through the properties and you will find surprises like The Chinese House (it’s covered in gold), and more. Before heading back to Berlin you will find ample food options to stop for dinner (I had the best pumpkin soup ever). I highly recommend adding Potsdam to your itinerary!
The Holocaust Memorial
6) Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, or also known as The Holocaust Memorial: This memorial was designed by architect Peter Eisenman and engineer Buro Happold. Building began in April 2003, but it was not completed until December 2004. Sixty years after the end of WW2, it was inaugurated in May 2005 and opened to the public. It is a large site covered with 2,711 concrete slabs. They are assembled in a grid pattern on a hilly concrete field. All the slabs vary in height and are slightly askew so that none is the same as another. At this location, there is also a museum which holds the names of the approximately 3 million Jewish Holocaust victims. This art was never fully explained, but I believe when you walk through this maze of stone, you are meant to feel alone, afraid, lost, isolated and claustrophobic, as the victims would have felt. This memorial cost around 25 million to complete.
Bunker Tour
7) Bunker Tours: Do not leave the city until you have completed a Bunker Tour. It was not only educational but a cool experience. Literally! It was so refreshing to cool down on a hot summer day. Tours are offered throughout the day, in different languages. You cannot purchase a ticket ahead of time, but if you go in a bit before the tour to buy a ticket, you should be fine. Some are offered underground, but we opted for the Flak Tower in Humboldthain Park in Gesundbrunnen. Only a part of it remains as it was destroyed after the war to de-militarize it. You don’t realize it at first but as you walk up the mountain to get to the entrance, it is actually the Flak Tower itself that is buried in rubble and has become a large hill! Here you are shown three of the seven floors of one of the biggest bunkers in the city, but they offer other bunker tours as well!
Inside Zur Gerichtslaube
Bonus: One last thing I would recommend in Berlin is to eat up! You all know by now I am not only a vegetarian, but am gluten free, and to throw in a wrench I’m on a wedding diet! Ahh! This makes travel a bit difficult for suppressing my hunger. Luckily we found options in Berlin (not just options but delicious meals!). At Zur Gerichtslaube they have authentic German food, and are located in a tiny historic building from 1270 which was originally a Medieval Town Hall! If you love pink décor then visit Wilde Matilde Bar. Honestly, even if you just want Shawarma or other foods, the options were all great in Berlin.
Checkpoint Charlie
Berlin is very spread out, so prepare to walk lots! Berlin offers a lot of museums (even a dedicated one for currywurst), and provides so much to entertain yourself for free (such as checking out the Brandenburg Gate or walking past the recreated Checkpoint Charlie which is super touristy by the way)! If in doubt just walk around and explore, sometimes this is how the best discoveries are made, such as an adorable flea market we randomly found!
Flea Market in Berlin
Want to know more? Then check out my latest video on Mellie Telly YouTube of 20 Things to Do in Berlin! Have you been to Berlin? Let me know in the comments below and stay tuned for my next travel adventure! Thanks so much to KVDV Photography for the lovely photos.

Cheers,
Melissa

Amsterdam Vs Toronto

AMS vs TOIt has been a year this weekend since we packed up and ventured to a new way of life in Amsterdam. It has been exciting, challenging and liberating. To celebrate our one year anniversary here, I have created a list of 20 differences that I have experienced between Toronto and Amsterdam.

  1. Cityscape: There are very few “skyscrapers” in Amsterdam. Downtown most of the buildings have the same look and feel, yet they are different with various colours or characteristic details. I do find the old look to be quite charming. If you want more of a modern look check out Rotterdam nearby!Amsterdam Buildings
  2. Alcohol: Wayyyy cheaper and more accessible here in Amsterdam. Who needs the LCBO when you can walk into your neighbourhood grocery store and purchase 3 decent bottles of wine for 10 euros! That is around $15 CAD! What?!
  3. Communication: Here the official language is Dutch; however, most residents will speak to you in English if needed (especially in touristy areas). Signage and transit announcements are usually in Dutch, which has led to a few funny stories of trains being cancelled and being stranded in the train yard. Fun…
  4. Food: Traditional Dutch dishes are amazing for your mouth, but not so much for your waist. Deep fried, sugary, savoury, cheesy and yummy are all the food groups you can look forward to here!Say Cheese
  5. Way of Life: Amsterdam tends to have more of a work life balance. This is probably since most stores are not open past 6 pm and have limited hours on the weekends. Not so great for the shoppers that are used to typical North American hours – such as the 24/7 Walmarts. On that note you will not find many big department stores in the Amsterdam core as it is majority boutique shops. Great for local businesses, not so great for one stop shopping.Toronto at Night
  6. Weather: Everyone lied to us. It does get cold and it does snow in winter – luckily not as much as Toronto, still enough to cause panic when it snows. Another important fact to know is the significant difference in sunlight hours: 2066 for Toronto and 1662 for Amsterdam. It seems like it is always dreary and cloudy, and I have yet to see anyone skating to work. However this week has been amazingly sunny, so today I am not complaining at all!Toronto Snow
  7. Nature: Amsterdam offers large parks with green space for its residents, and has an abundance of beautiful canals. Toronto also has many park options, especially along the beaches/ island. Pretty even playing field here. There is also less wildlife in the suburban neighbourhoods of Amsterdam (I haven’t seen a squirrel in ages), but a lot more varieties of birds and ducks.Vondel Park Amsterdam
  8. Cleanliness: Though Amsterdam tried to implement a recycling program, I do find that Toronto is much cleaner and more progressive in protecting our environment. In Amsterdam (or Europe rather) you will also find more cats and pigeons inside restaurants. On top of that, places often allow you to bring in your dog!
  9. Bathrooms: Unfortunately there is a theme across Europe that lots of public restrooms are not free. Even in restaurants. It can range from 50 cents to a Euro just to relieve yourself of all the alcohol…I mean water… that you’ve been drinking. Although at night men’s urinals do pop up in the streets for easy usage, but I wouldn’t use one of those. One would expect that paying for the usage of a water closet would ensure a nice and sanitized environment, this is not the case and most can be smelled from meters away. No location signs required!
  10. Extra charges: They don’t just charge you for bathrooms here. Restaurants often put items on your dinner table that are typically free in Toronto. When you go to pay for your dinner, expect that water, bread, condiments and more will be added to your tab!
  11. Location: Toronto has many great spots to visit nearby, but it is not always very convenient via transit. Amsterdam is a prime location to travel to because it is centrally located within Europe. Just do not expect for all your transit to be cheap. There are so many more travel options here, that you are bound to be bitten by the travel bug.Toronto Transit
  12. Shopping: Clothing is quite expensive in Europe. Essentially a shirt in Canada could be 25 dollars, while the same shirt in Amsterdam is 25 Euros, converting to 39 Canadian dollars! Bananas! Although Amsterdam has some really cute boutique shops, it also has some of the same stores that you can find on Queen St. There are still some stores that I miss from Canada and get excited about visiting on my trips back.
  13. Bike Culture: Although hipsters in Toronto love their bikes, Amsterdam has them beat. Honestly, crossing the street here as a pedestrian can be really scary if you don’t look both ways (and then again). There are massive lots for bike parking everywhere; with almost as many bikes as people in this city. Amsterdam is one of the most bicycle-friendly large cities in the world, with 400 km of bike lanes and nearly 40% of all commutes are done via bike. Here most cyclists don’t wear helmets, and bike theft is a big problem. We had one of our bikes stolen within 2 weeks of purchase!Amsterdam Bikes
  14. Crime: Speaking of theft… I felt pretty safe in Toronto most of the time even with the constant reminder of crime on the news. Amsterdam has its pickpockets (especially in tourist locations), bike thefts and large amount of home burglaries. However there appears to be less violent crime here. I have never felt unsafe walking around at night in Amsterdam.
  15. Arts: Although there is a love of culture, and lots of theatre and film options for performers here, if you do not know Dutch it is very very limiting. I’ve been lucky enough to book a few roles, however, here you really have to search for them. It does limit the competition though when the role specifically requires a native English speaker!
  16. Prices: Rent, food and entertainment seem to cost more overall in Amsterdam. This could be because I am still constantly converting the Euro to Canadian dollars in my head every time I make a transaction. But it definitely is cheaper to drink (alcohol) here. Yay!Amsterdam Food
  17. Population: Toronto may have more residents but Amsterdam is BUSY, though most of this population are tourists. Also I do find that overall there is more butting in line here, and less of the Canadian way of lining up. “Sorry!” And to go on a bit of a tangent here, customer service is not always as quick or friendly in Europe like what you can get in Canada. Amsterdam Boat
  18. Living: Kitchens are much smaller in Europe. We were very lucky to land a place with an “American Size” oven, stove and fridge. Dishwashers seems to be non-existent in pre-furnished homes. And dryers? Not everyone has them. If you do, it probably takes hours to dry a single load and normally the clothes just get warm and less damp. I also don’t see very many apartments with elevators or AC, especially if you live in the downtown core. The trade-off? You live in a charming old historic Dutch apartment in the heart of Amsterdam, and have a view of a canal if you’re lucky! Many people also live in houseboats along the canals, how cool is that?Houseboat
  19. Laws: There are laws here, yet they seem more lenient on safety. There is texting and biking, drinking and boating, young kids playing with fireworks at New Years and most canals do not have a railing. In a way it’s a bit refreshing to not feel so restricted and have to own up and be responsible for yourself.
  20. Fashion: I cannot speak for all the men here, but women’s fashion is more laid back. I wouldn’t say its years ahead like the old stereotype goes, but it does have a different vibe from Toronto. Here no one really cares what you wear. Typically you see women sporting jeans, a plain top and jacket. They don’t seem to spend hours on hair and makeup and look like they just rolled out of bed and decided to change out of their PJ’s, and yet still look fabulous.

Overall it has been a year filled with lots of ups and downs. I do not regret the decision to move and am so grateful for the opportunities that have come with moving. Who knows what will happen in this next year to come! Let me know what you think in the comments below!

Are you an expat? Have you lived or traveled abroad? What differences have you noticed in your journeys!

Thanks so much to KVDV Photography for the beautiful photos!

Cheers,
Melissa

St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland

IMG_0105 (1)Deciding where to go on St. Patrick’s Day was an easy decision, Dublin, Ireland of course! Not only is there an unlimited amount of pubs to celebrate in, they also have a parade dedicated for the festivities. Surprisingly though, most of the participating bands, floats and spectators were American; it did not have the St. Patrick’s vibe one would expect – no leprechauns!

In Dublin there are lots of free museums to check out such as: Chester Beatty Library, National Gallery of Ireland and the Natural History Museum. There are also cute parks for people watching such as St. Stephen’s Green. If deciding between which churches to check out (as they are not free here) I would consider Christ Church Cathedral before St. Patrick’s Cathedral. There will be a shorter wait time, more to see and they have a large crypt underneath. Sandeman’s offers free walking tours here as well, but my favourite tour was of Kilmainham Gaol. A former prison not only filled with so much history, it is very interesting for anyone into the Irish politics, and has a museum at the end. This tour was only 8 Euros and my top pick in Dublin. Other spots to check out are Anne’s Lane for the instagramable umbrella art installation, the Spire of Dublin (not loved by the locals), and a walk along the Liffey river for views of the cityscape and many bridges.
IMG_1239Thirsty from all that walking? You can taste local brews at the Guinness Storehouse, the Jameson Distillery and The Irish Whiskey Museum, or any of the local pubs. However I really enjoyed Vintage Cocktail Club the most. At VCC you must make reservations. When you arrive you will see a random door with no door handle and will have to ring the doorbell. It has a speakeasy feel inside, with a vintage décor. It’s cosy, small and has the best tasting cocktails. Their menu is setup based on time periods of cocktail creation and provides an insight as to what was offered throughout history, along with their own signature creations such as The Dirty Wizard.
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When checking out the big cities of surrounding countries, I also like to take the time to see the smaller towns nearby. If staying in Dublin, I highly recommend checking out Howth. Less than 30 minutes away by train, Howth is a beautiful location filled with fresh seafood restaurants, and you can follow the main road which takes you up a hike to the top of the cliffs. This is a must do for nature lovers, or those wanting a fantastic view of the marina. In fact, I enjoyed this the most of our entire trip, namely due to the massive sea swells, and all the breathtaking views from the cliff tops!

Another (touristy) stop that you must do is a trip to Cork. You can get there by an express bus from Dublin, but it takes about 3 hours. Once there stroll through town, or take another bus only 20 minutes out to Blarney Castle and grounds. Here you can eat, shop, stroll through the gardens, check out the caves or climb to the top of Blarney Castle and kiss the Blarney Stone. Legend has it that many celebs, politicians and royalty have done this over time for the gift of eloquence. I would recommend doing an overnight here, allowing for sufficient time to explore Cork as well as visit the beloved Blarney Castle.

Did I miss anything? Have any questions? Any suggestions on where to travel next? Let me know in the comments below!

Also, on a non-travel note, I booked my first modeling gig in Amsterdam! I can’t share all the confidential details unfortunately, but I must tell you that I got to walk the catwalk and it was such a fun experience!I DO MY LITTLE TURN ON THE CATWALK
Cheers,
Melissa

Holidays Abroad

Happy Valentine’s Day! Sending love, hugs and chocolate kisses from Amsterdam.
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Living abroad is exciting and very fulfilling. But what they don’t tell you in the pamphlet is that it can also be lonely, especially during holidays. It can be very challenging trying to celebrate one of your favourite traditional festivities when it is not as popular abroad. Thanksgiving and Halloween are great examples of this. Though slowly picking up in popularity, they are still not big social holidays in The Netherlands. Don’t get me started on finding cranberry sauce or pumpkin pie! Even though we did find a Halloween party for expats, we were the only ones dressed up in costume while on public transit – maybe they thought we were crazy? Then again, it is Amsterdam!
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On the flip side, you also get to participate in new holidays, such as Kings Day or Sinterklass. It’s not every day you see “Santa” arriving by boat and then riding past you on a white horse, or over one million people all dressed up in orange. So if abroad, try to immerse yourself in the local cultural traditions as well as maintaining your own.
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Not to worry, I have been able to find some heart shaped desserts in Amsterdam at Leef, though St.Patrick’s Day decor seems nonexistent!? Has anyone seen this anywhere? Most stores are prepping for Easter now!
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Want to know more about my thoughts of living abroad? Check out my feature online in Expats of Amsterdam here: http://expatsofamsterdam.nl/country/canada/dutch-blood-veins-also-made-feel-home/. So grateful to be part of this! Also, a big thank you to kvdvphotography.com for the Valentines photoshoot, and the white vintage sweater found at Treasure Hunters Amsterdam!

Cheers,
Melissa

Well Hello There 2018!

hello 2018!A lot can change in a year. Last New Year’s we were toasting rum filled drinks on a sandy beach in Cuba, not knowing what life would have in store only a few months later. This has been the year of travel and change. Not only travelling to 10 countries in 12 months (Cuba, Trinidad & Tobago, The Netherlands, Germany, Poland, The UK, France, Belgium, back to Canada twice, and Italy) but uplifting our lives to start a new in Amsterdam as well. Living abroad has brought on new challenges, but also new adventures. It has its uncertainties along with its pleasant surprises. It’s been a year of facing fears, adapting, exploring and reflecting. I have now been on stage (and screen) in another country, bought a bike, had that bike stolen, joined a gym that does not speak English, taught my first acting workshop, lived through culture shock, made new friendships (and strengthened old ones), ate uncertain foods (and my fair share of cheese), and seen more old school windmills than I ever have before.
20161227_174244I have no idea what 2018 holds, I have my goals and plans, but really anything can change. Which also means that anything is possible. Thank you all for your continual love and support, stay tuned, and bring on 2018!

Cheers,
Melissa

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