Go Do - Jónsi


Hardcore Days & Softcore Nights

Scotland wins my love for favorite country in the UK. Our four day visit to Edinburgh, Elie, and St. Andrew's was absolute bliss. How to sum it up in one post?! I'll do my best.

Hailey and I on the coast
Staying on the Royal Mile put us at the base of Edinburgh Castle and the center of everything the country's capital does best. If I ever open a boutique, the storefront will be inspired by what I saw in Edinburgh. A little eclectic, a little traditional - who knew Edinburgh had such a great vintage selection? The girls and I went on half of Sandeman's New Europe Tour - but shopping & lunch was calling our names so we ditched the history lesson early.

Beautiful Edinburgh!
Hailey & I found the greatest potato shop for lunch, walked around, and made a pit stop at the Scottish National Gallery to check out its beautiful painting gallery. Leaving the museum, we caught a streetside bagpipe performance. So cultural! So fun!

Greyfriars Cemetery, the inspiration for several characters in J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series, was the highlight of the afternoon. Taylor, Kristen and I found the tombstones of Thomas Riddle, Professor McGonagall and some others. Located in the heart of Edinburgh, Greyfriars is both pretty and eerie - I loved it. We stopped for hot chocolate at The Elephant House after the cemetery, where Rowling penned the Sorcerer's Stone overlooking Edinburgh castle.
Pink & white 'mallows? Okay!

Taking pictures of snowdrops!
Day two started with a fun morning around Edinburgh before a train to the seaside town of Elie. Kristen's family friends, Marion & Dave, were our wonderful hosts for the next two nights. Their renovated loft is one of several in a 17th-century estate overlooking the woods - big, beautiful trees and snowdrop flowers cover the landscape. It was night and day, staying in their gorgeous space as compared to the sketchy hostels we've been frequenting! Marion and Dave went above and beyond to bless us over the next two days. It was such a treat!

Dave and Marion - THANK YOU BOTH! :)
We walked along the coast of Elie before returning for a wonderful dinner... wonderful is an understatement, it was actually the best meal I've had in Europe to date. No kidding. ITW (Is This Womanly?) became the phrase of the week... shout-out to Marion who gave us etiquette lessons over our stay. We are 10 times more cultured and refined now, thanks to her guidance.

Crail Harbour
Our tour of Scotland's fishing villages was on the schedule for Thursday, with a final destination of St. Andrew's! On the way, we stopped in Crail Harbour and for a tour of the fish market, where freshly-caught salmon and other North Sea fish are brought to be smoked, packaged, and shipped out worldwide. As a business minor, I loved getting a firsthand look at the logistics of the fishing industry. It was also THE best smoked salmon I've had in my life. 

On route to St. Andrew's, we stopped for hot chocolate, coffee, and Scottish tablets on the terrace of Crail Harbour Tearoom. It was beautiful by the sea - I love a good tearoom, so this hit the spot.
Coffee and hot chocolate at Crail Harbour
Arriving in St. Andrew's, we went directly to the fourth floor of the Old Course Hotel to get a view of the iconic golf course. The breathtaking view of the green running into the sea made me want to pick up golf again. We took pictures on the 18th-hole bridge, and I did my best Tiger impression in honor of my brother Justin (hollaaaa!). 
Rooftop of St. Andrew's Old Course Hotel
Following lunch at the course, we headed over to St. Andrew's University. I loved wandering through the brick buildings of the school, partly admiring its beauty and history, partly imagining myself as Kate Middleton meeting Prince William for the first time on campus... Creepy, I know. 

Pavlova for dessert
Dinner that night was a casual five-course dinner prepared by Marion, featuring the salmon from the market that morning and homemade rhubarb pie. Seriously - Marion and Dave outdid themselves. We had so much fun.

Friday was the send-off! We had lunch at a local pub in Elie before our hosts dropped us off for a flight from Edinburgh to Brussels.

Kristen and I on the coast!
Scotland was wonderful. I want to visit again some day, maybe in the summer for a round of golf at St. Andrew's and a sailboat ride to one of the many islands off the coast... you know, something simple. Four days was not long enough!

Check out the pics here!


Dublin, Doolin, and everything in between.

Taylor, Kristen, Hailey, Elizabeth and I in Doolin
Carnaval break was a whirlwind of 10 days - SO many great experiences in such a short amount of time. I'm breaking it up into several posts so as to not overwhelm with information. So here goes:

Kristen, Taylor, Elizabeth, Hailey and I kicked off the break with a sleepover in the Charleroi airport. WORST IDEA EVER... but so funny looking back on. I slept in an airport security bin, and when I say "slept" I mean inhaled dust and the smell of body odor while simultaneously trying to guard my belongings. It was great.
Sleeping in a security bin? Why not.
Day 1 in Dublin was a blur, thanks to lack of sleep. I'd like to share fun cultural memories but can't recall anything past our 3-hour nap in the hostel lobby.

Day 2 started with a 2-hour train ride from one coast of Ireland to the opposite. The country is just like the pictures - bright green fields, burly white sheep, and country cottages across the landscape. We spent the afternoon in the fishing town of Galway, enjoying a farmer's market with local food, flowers, and artisan crafts. Lunch in a traditional pub, wandering through the old cathedrals, a stop at an afternoon tea room - it was a perfect day! An evening bus brought us to the tiny village of Doolin - our stop for two nights. We were even offered an upgrade from hostel to B&B by our wonderful Rainbow's End hosts Mattie and Carmel.

Rainbow's End B&B
Doolin (population 500ish) is rural enough to where we could see HUGE stars above the hills and castle ruins. What a welcome! Saturday night was spent in the most authentic Irish setting you can imagine - McGann's pub. We happened to be there during an eulogy for a local musician who passed away - it was something I'll never forget. Dancing, drinks, and celebrating the life of a dear member of the community. That's how I want to go out - with celebration!

McGann's Pub in Doolin
Day 3 - Waking up to fresh scones in the Rainbow Bed & Breakfast set the day off right. We got a (crazy, roller-coaster in real life) ride to the Cliffs of Moher from Mattie, our host. The Cliffs are stunning - deep blue sea set behind steep stone walls and perfect green grass. Words can't describe how beautiful it is! After soaking in as much as we could, the girls and I took a wonderful 2-hour walk back to Doolin. We were blessed with PERFECT weather - sunshine and a slight breeze - it was gorgeous!

Day 4 brought us back to Dublin. Our initial airport sleepover was a learning experience (NEVER.AGAIN.) so we invested in a hostel before an early flight to Scotland the following morning.

Dublin was my least favorite of the metropolitan cities we've been to so far. Still, we had a great time touring the Guinness factory, Trinity College, and an evening in the Temple Bar district with a friend of Kristen and Elizabeth's who is studying in Dublin. 

Kristen, Hailey and I at the Guinness Factory in Dublin
Ireland was great! High point - Doolin. Low point - airport and sketchy hostel. 
Good luck mucking through the album, I filled an entire memory card in these 4 days alone!


Valentine's Day + Carnival plans!

I couldn't have stumbled upon this quote at a better time... losing my backpack last weekend was unpleasant, but this put things in perspective. How often do I find security in my things? I had to let it go! And trust that God provides everything I need to get through each day. Matthew 6:25-34 was a great passage to read through.

So candid. V-day 2k12.
Valentine's day in Maastricht was so fun! It's starting to warm up so I went for a run that took me by a beautiful cemetery, a medieval Cathedral, and up to the second river that I had yet to see.  I hope to go back and photograph soon!

To celebrate the holiday, Taylor made yummy strawberry crepes, my friend Katie surprised me with fresh white tulips (flowers might be my favorite thing), we had a festive get-together in the dorms and later went to the Shamrock. An overall successful Valentine's Day, in my opinion.
Taylor's AMAZING crepes. Pro status.
Tonight, 5 of us girls are going to Brussels and sleeping in the airport, as we take off for Dublin early tomorrow morning! I can't believe its already Carnaval break. Ireland and Scotland are on the agenda for our 10-day vacation this week... Can't wait!


Ze Veekend in Germany!

Our short trip to Munich and Fussen in Germany this weekend was a blast!
I’m trying to shorten these posts; I tend to rant, so here is my attempt at Germany in a nutshell:

Friday, Feb. 10
- 9-hour train ride to Munich 
- Marienplatz Square for shopping and chocolate-covered bananas. And a look at the Glockenspiel! Intricate architecture, to say the least
- Hofbräuhaus– the official site of Oktoberfest each year. With 1-liter beer mugs as the standard, it’s safe to say the place was wild! We got a taste of traditional German culture with a live brass band, men in feather-flecked hats with shorts and suspenders, and hefty beer garden women serving fresh pretzels.
- First stay in a hostel (thanks for the mems, 4you)

Saturday, Feb. 11 
Visiting Dachau was difficult, but necessary. It was completely different than visiting the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C., something about entering the guard gate marked with “arbeit macht freit,” walking through the stark white halls, seeing where they slept, where they lived, where atrocities were carried out for 12 years – it just hits you. I left with a lot of things on my mind.

-Deutches Museum - beautiful view of Munich from the museum's top floor.

Olympiapark and the BMW museum in the afternoon. Olympiapark, site of the 1972 olympics, was SO cool. I liked seeing the 'Schwimhalle' best.

 - Night train to Fussen! And a night out with the whole group (9 of us total).

 Sunday, Feb. 12
Neuschwanstein Castle (the inspiration for Disney’s Sleeping Beauty Castle!) This was one of my favorite mornings! Fussen is, hands down, the cutest European town we’ve visited so far. It was a winter wonderland – pure sparkly snow, huge pine trees in a little valley surrounded by mountains, and cute café’s in the town center. We stayed in a little house/hostel, got breakfast, and then took a bus up to the castle. 

The 20-minute hike up to the castle was BEAUTIFUL! I can’t even describe it. I’ll have to just leave you with the pictures. After the castle tour (very obscure on the inside, and has spent most of its existence as a museum rather than a monarch’s residence), we literally RAN down the mountain to make a bus to the train station... hilarious, but I have never been so cold in my life.

We got back to Maastricht late last night.

This weekend was such a blast. It was freezing (a chill 5 degrees in Fussen yesterday), but beautiful and I love the people who I’ve been privileged to travel with.

The only downer this weekend was the loss of my beloved backpack, containing my clothes, toiletries and makeup, homework, and room key for the dorm. In a moment of rush, I left it on a train going from Koln to Aachen (the train’s ultimate destination was Paris). We are in the process of trying to track it down right now, but recovery is not in my odds.

In order to process my loss, I’ve written a modified haiku:

Where have you
Gone to?

Check the full Germany album HERE!


Survivor: Maastricht

View from a bridge in Maastricht on our walk to church last Sunday

 This first week of class was eventful, to say the least. When I say ‘eventful’ I really mean the strangest experiences of my life happened back-to-back-to-back. From getting lost trying to get to the grocery store DOWN THE STREET, to making friends with the local rugby team at The Shamrock, to getting locked out of my dorm room in my towel, and being informed by our dear chef Frank that the name 'Anna' is synonymous with large farm girls in the Netherlands – each day held its own surprise. I have some great stories under my belt now, but this one deserves the most blog space:

Tuesday night a group of us went to the Shamrock and had a great time. I got in at about 2 and crashed right away. About 3 hours later, Lainey and I wake up to a blaring alarm. We jump up totally confused, stand there for a minute trying to process what was going on, and finally Lainey (she’s brilliant) opens our door and checks the hall, turns around and yells “THERE’S ACTUALLY SMOKE!!!” I’m in boxers and a t-shirt, absolutely unfit to be seen in public but can’t seem to find sweatpants or shoes anywhere... But there was smoke! I needed to get out! so I grabbed my cowboy boots (naturally), threw on a trench coat, and literally SPRINT down our hall to get downstairs. A ton of other students were rushing out to the lobby where we were told to sit inside (praise God, it was probably 2 degrees outside).

Fifteen minutes later, the Dutch firemen roll in and take care of the problem. One of our hall-mates had charred some rice, triggering the smoke alarm. Our hallway reeks now, thank you very much, but the whole scene was hilarious… My sweet friends Kristen and Taylor thought a gunman was holding them hostage and triggered the alarm to get them to come out, so they came downstairs shaking after realizing it was just a fire alarm. Lainey and I were absolute shambles… I looked ridiculous (cowboy boots and a trench coat… c’mon).  

The best reaction out of everyone, though, goes to the one and only Brady Desko. He made it to the lobby about 10 minutes after the rest of us. Fully clothed, relatively composed. He then described how he woke up enraged and smashed his roommates phone in the ground, thinking it was responsible for the noise. Realizing it wasn’t the phone, he decided to stand up on his bed, break three ceiling tiles and ultimately the fire alarm. He has no idea why he woke up so angry, but has decidedly earned his nickname ‘the Hulk.’ He’s normally not prone to anger fits, and sadly is now indebted 300 euro to Teikyo Guesthouse. What a night.

Our first self-planned trip begins tomorrow! Eight of us are taking a train to Munich early in the morning… it’s going to be a quick trip, but I’m so excited! I'm sure I'll have more stories to share come next week. 
Until then, auf wiedersehen!

Kristen and Elizabeth at our favorite study spot in town
Lainey and my first dorm pet - appropriately named Mr. Maas...
He passed away this morning.

P.S. - A special shout-out this week to my wonderful sister Krista, my mom Julie, and my roomie Meredith who's holding the fort down back in Waco. You all are such an encouragement to me and I don't know what I would do without you! Thanks for everything! "She who refreshes others will herself be refreshed." - Proverbs 11:25


Student vs. Traveller

As a student at Maastricht University this semester, I'll be receiving a secular education for the first time in my life. Apart from a two-year stint at charter school in junior high, I've been in Christian schools from kindergarten up through college now at Baylor. Why? I don't know... that's been God's plan for me and I've learned to appreciate it in many ways. But I'm excited for the opportunity to learn from a secular worldview. I'm taking two courses from Dutch professors - one is an intercultural philosophy course, the other focusing on world literature. I love learning, I'm such a nerd I can't help it, so I'm ready to get classes going. My winter break has officially ended - first day of class starts tomorrow!

Hopefully travel won't distract from homework too much. "Student first, traveller second," in the words of UM director Jorg de Vette... We'll see about that! A small group of us are making plans for Germany next weekend. Booking hostels, figuring out trains and deciding where exactly to go in such a short amount of time is such a mess! If you have any tips, please send them my way.

On another note, I learned that one of my favorite bands, Radical Face, is on a European tour and played TONIGHT in Cologne, Germany - only an hour from Maastricht!! I was so sad to have missed it.
My favorite song of theirs:

Enough... night!


On Valkenburg, and Becoming a Human Popsicle

I honestly wasn't sure if I'd make it back to my cozy dorm room to write this today. It turns out that -8º celsius is a bad idea for more than 15 minutes at a time... who knew?! Our tour of picturesque little Valkenburg, however, was an all-afternoon event.

Not to say that I didn't enjoy it! Our wonderful guide Vivian walked us through the town. It's history, dating from 1041 AD, is preserved with a Germanic castle, Roman catacombs, and remnants of the WWII Valkenburg resistance. We even got to experience some present-day action, with the Red Bull Crushed Ice World Championship making a stop on the same day as our visit! Loved mingling with the locals.

We had lunch in a cave and stopped at a cafe to thaw out mid-tour. Have you ever tried advocaat? I had the pleasure of chasing my coffee with the bright yellow stuff. Had I known it was egg yolk, I would've thought twice about that one.

One big take-away I had from this trip was hearing Vivian tell her father's experience of 4 years in a German concentration camp. I've heard the stories before - all horrific - but this one hit home. Hearing it from someone affected so directly by the event, seeing her cry retelling his experience, made it tangible.  Even more, realizing that brutality like that is happening in other countries TODAY (Darfur, the worldwide human trafficking crisis, etc) placed a burden on my heart.

It also called me to gratitude. I've been given more than I can ask for. Not just physical needs as basic food, clothing, and shelter. But also a supportive family, loving friends, an education, opportunities to travel, financial provision, and most importantly a relationship with the Lord! Everything I have doesn't compare to knowing Christ... I have nothing without Him, and I believe that wholeheartedly.

This leads me to one of my life verses:
Psalm 116:12-14
How can I repay the Lord for all His goodness to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord. I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all His people.

Being so miserably cold, but realizing that I have been given everything I need to get through the day helped me enjoy the experience of Valkenburg. Gratitude and living moment-by-moment got me a lot farther than dwelling on the weather! And that, I believe, is how I survived the coldest day of my life.

Click here to see my photo album from Valkenburg!



Was it really just one week ago we landed in Amsterdam?? I cannot believe how fast time flew on our group trip to England, but at the same time it feels like I've been here forever!

Visiting Canterbury and London was a whirlwind six-day trip. Canterbury is a charming small town with cobblestone streets, little cafes and shops on every corner, and a wealth of history. London, in contrast, is busy and jam-packed but similarly full of history... you can't walk far without running into some big monument or another. Our hotels were both centrally located so it was fun to walk around and explore all of the different areas.


  • Tower of London... I made a real life Amazing Race experience for myself after losing my subway card and having to find my way to the Tower - at a full sprint- with 4 other group members. But we made it and it was SO worth it!
  • St. Paul's Cathedral (Whatup, Princess Di?)
  • The British Museum (not my favorite)
  • Harrod's (looooved it!)
  • Afternoon tea at Bea's of Bloomsbury (check off the bucket list!)

All in all, a fabulous trip. Unbelievable architecture, greatest accents and tea to last for years.  Pictures are worth a thousand words, so with that I'll sign off and leave you with the album... Cheers!

Click this link for my photo album from the trip!