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

Last Minute Travel

Grab your agenda, it’s time for travel tip Tuesday!
Travel Tip Tuesday
Sometimes travelling on a whim can actually be the cheapest. And that is not easy for me, the organized – itinerary making – over planner, to admit. For example, our trip to Trinidad & Tobago from Canada, or really most of our European weekend getaways from Amsterdam, have been last minute spontaneous decisions.

So how do you go about this? If you can, search on a Tuesday or a Wednesday, the prices are usually at their lowest then. Next, I like to follow travel Facebook groups which often post last minute deals or promos (such as YYZ deals). If you find a deal you like, act quickly! Great deals often go VERY fast! I also like using sites such as Tickettipper.nl (which will list great travel deals in Europe), and Skyscanner (to book according to the best price). Some airlines often have last minute deals on their site, such as Transavia. The most difficult part is getting the time off, so I preach the tried and true, “Better to ask for forgiveness than ask for permission”. I only know of one story where that failed, he only missed a day of his trip and had to book a new flight. But, it is a risk one has to take to get the best deals.
My Plan
Keep in mind that when you leave it this late in the game, you may not have much selection in your destination. But if you just want a weekend away, and are not particularly picky about where you want to explore, give this a try!

Are there any sites that you suggest? Let me know! And stay tuned for more tips and tricks!

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

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

How to Act

And that’s a wrap on my first play in Amsterdam! Thank you to the amazing cast and crew for making this an unforgettable experience. The thing that was reiterated to me once again about theatre is that no matter what country you are in, theatre translates the same everywhere. It is months of rehearsals, becoming a close knit family, the usual preshow nerves and producing a magical experience for both the actors and audience alike.

Photo credit to Arjen Veldt Photography.

1t2c group

The show was continuously sold out with wait lists filling up each night. Be sure to stay in the loop for what In Players will be showing next at http://inplayers.org/… And if you are looking to learn the basics of acting yourself, come join me in Amsterdam! I will be teaching an acting workshop on November 18th! Come learn ‘How to Act’!

Let's Celebrate National Sunglasses Day! (4)

Cheers,
Melissa

My First Amsterdam Play

It’s official! You will soon see me on an Amsterdam stage! I have been cast in the InPlayers production of ‘One Table, Two Chairs’, coming this November. More details to follow, but be sure to check out their website: http://inplayers.org/onetabletwochairs/. Also a note, the play is in English!

One Table, Two Chairs is about the glimpses into relationships we happen to catch: the fragile beginnings, the tumultuous middles, the bittersweet endings. Inspired by A.R. Gurney’s The Dining Room and Jules Feiffer’s Hold Me, the play consists of short scenes and monologues which take place at a table with two chairs. The setting may be simple, but the problems we see there are complex: sometimes funny, sometimes scary, sometimes tragic.” By Jacquelyn Poplar and Robert Leeds.


In travel news, we just got back from PARIS! I will be posting all about our adventures shortly so stay tuned! A little teaser… J’aime Paris!!!

 

IMG_1484Cheers,
Melissa

Nymph Errant

I just spent last week back in the theatre, and it felt great! Though I wasn’t on stage this time, but happily helping out backstage with hair, makeup, etc. Regardless it was fun to be working with such a great cast and crew in a Dutch theatre. The show was ‘Nymph Errant’. It’s the light-hearted story of Evangeline Edwards, who graduates from a finishing school in 1933. She and her classmates are encouraged by their teacher, Miss Pratt, to “experiment”, in the broadest sense possible. What follows is a romp through Europe with plenty of opportunities for snappy Cole Porter musical numbers, interesting dialogue, lots of accents, wonderful costumes, a few dance steps, exotic locations and a good time for all.

nymph

Now that it’s all wrapped up, I’m prepping for my next Dutch audition, so fingers crossed and stay tuned!

Cheers,
Melissa

A Trip to Cologne, Germany!

I just recently spent a couple days in the beautiful Cologne, Germany!

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The weather was a picture perfect 31 degrees with not a cloud in the sky. There was so much to do, in such little time. From viewing churches, smelling the first ever eau de cologne, to climbing 533 steps in the Cologne Cathedral, tasting sweets at the chocolate museum (yum), the Wallraf-Richartz Museum, taking in the breathtaking view at Köln Triangle and looking at locks of love at Hohenzollern Bridge. I really recommend sampling the local beer Kölsch at a brauhaus, tasting the delicious pastries at the many bakeries and watching the sunset along the Rhine River, while cooling down with a refreshing beverage.

Any suggestions on where to travel next???

Since settling in for the past month I’ve gotten to see more and more of Amsterdam, and even went as far as Rotterdam. Though it was a very quick visit (and I’ll have to go back for sure), we had some time to sample some Trappist beer and enjoy some Spaghetti Parmigiano, that was prepared in a cheese wheel, what!?! It was so good, I’m still thinking about it. Thank you Mangiare Rotterdam.

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Stay tuned for further adventures! And keep your fingers crossed, as I have another audition this weekend!

Cheers,
Melissa

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