vacation leftovers | liberation break

In italy, all schools are let out for a week in the month of April for something called, “liberation break,”¬†which is basically a national holiday celebrating their independence as a country! (Yes, they get a whole week to do that.)

My roommate’s boyfriend, along with his brother and best friend, came during that time to backpack Europe, so we spent the break together touring Rome and Cinque Terre, Italy. Here’s a little video I made of the trip. ūüôā The quality is very low budget, and I had no understanding of how to manually focus or use the zoom, but its still fun to look at. If anything, the music is pretty catchy!

GODERE! (:

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Polka Dots in the Water

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When we arrived to Barcelona, we were greeted with brisk wind and abundant sunshine. After all the rain and fog Italy had been receiving, it was a nice change of pace. We embraced Barcelona’s sun with open arms and decided to¬†capitalize¬†on its perfect weather by staying outdoors. We walked along the main streets, took a short boat ride gaining an incredible view of Barcelona gems, and then relaxed with cold cider on the beach.

To dress for the¬†occasion, I wore bright, bold colors and paired them with equally bold prints ‚ÄĒ a polka dot collard tank and a cheetah print belt. Take a look:

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XO.

Friday Five

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Magical dusk at Barceloneta Beach.

This week was filled with several special moments, including celebrating a friend’s birthday, visiting Vicenzia, finding a new favorite cafe, and appreciating time for rest. I leave for Rome Saturday and friends of friends have graciously welcomed us to stay at their home for the night and even offered a ride to the airport. On Sunday, we leave for Greece where we’ll spend the rest of the Easter Break. Hopefully I’ll return with some color on my skin! It actually feels a bit strange that I won’t be celebrating this Easter at home. My church hosts a “passion week” revival and an¬†extravagant¬†Easter dinner each year, and although I can’t join them, I will keep this holiday in mind and be joyful nonetheless. Jesus has risen, people! Hallelujah! (:

Here are my five favorites of the week. Enjoy your weekend, everyone!

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Sail boats were everywhere in Spain and it ignited a new¬†desperate¬†desire in me to find a sail buddy. Where’s a Nolan when you need one? (“Revenge”, anyone?)

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Coffee gelato + girl talk @ Amorino.

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We celebrated a friend’s 21st birthday with 21 gelato pops! (Scoops of gelato dipped in chocolate, then frozen) I tried the custard and mint — both were delicious. Now I’m looking for a reason to make my way over there and try more flavors.

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A new store has opened in Verona; it’s comparable to a Nordstrom or Whole Foods. The first floor is a sophisticated eatery complete with an oyster bar, sandwich counter, fresh produce, and more. The design is phenomenal and I found myself equally enchanted by both the food AND branding. I plan on copying this hanging clipboard design to showcase print in my future apartment.¬†

Happy Friday!
XO.

Churros con Chocolate

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Spain’s most popular dessert is churros with a side of hot chocolate. Walk through the main streets and you’ll be able to find it offered at almost every dessertery. It is, however, more of a day treat, so when we were looking for the cure to our dessert fix after dinner (which was around 11 pm because Spaniards eat late,) no one was serving it anymore. We made just fine with waffles and cream, though. We’re easy.

We ate churros three times throughout the duration of our stay in Spain, but my favorites were the ones in Madrid from¬†Chocolateria San Gines. The venue was recommended to us by a friend (and TripAdvisor), so we set time out of our day (before Taco Bell and after Starbucks — I know, the culture just oozes out of us,) to pay a visit. We ordered our own individual churros, but shared the hot chocolate. Hot chocolate in Europe is not like American’s winter favorite. It’s thick, with the consistency similar to rich fondu; and I’ve noticed most people use it for dipping, not drinking.

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The chocolateria was beautiful – walls lined with b&w photos of past celebrities, deep green, rustic seating, rich, gold accents, vintage-inspired decor, and simple table setting.
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XO.

Sweet Treats in Spain

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I love my American chained goodness, I do. But I adore how European cafes and restaurants all possess strong, unique branding. Or in Korean, “con-cept.” Little quirks – wallpaper, color combinations, type, presentation – when integrated to create one theme, have the ability to transport you to a new world.

My friend is currently studying abroad in Barcelona and was able to free up some of her time to show us around her city. (: Knowing my weakness for cute cafes and desserts, she led my roommate and I to a magical little dessertery called Pudding.IMG_5344

The entrance to a walk-in storybook. (:

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I wasn’t joking when I called this place magical. The strung lights on red/white really made the entire room glow and charming wall decor added to the surrealism. Artificial trees completed the storybook theme – I was just waiting for a trail of gumdrops to fall from the sky and singing blue birds to start sewing my clothes.
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We decided to sit in the sun room so we could have more natural light and also people-watch through the window. Exhibit A:IMG_5361
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PS. Do you see how much CAKE those people left on their table?! Unfortunately, the people escaped before we made our entrance so I didn’t get to see exactly what kind of people in their right mind would deliberately leave behind perfectly good cake. Lucky them, because some dirty, dirty looks would have been sent straight their way. Whoever can’t finish their slice of cake is weird in my book, AND SHOULD NOT BE TRUSTED! Maybe even more so than people who don’t like dessert at all, because these people know better…¬†¬†(We were THIS close to scooting over and rescuing the left over pieces. Spoiler alert: We didn’t. Yeah, that was kind of a low point.)
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White chocolate mousse pie.
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Carrot cake with cream cheese frosting.

How did the cakes taste? Oh, even better than they LOOK. Each bite proceeded with a loud, dramatic “MMM,” because it is impossible to enjoy your dessert without an expressive, “MMM.” Ya just can’t. Cake was not meant to be consumed in silence.
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And the three of us together before we curtsied to the dog posters and said farewell.

Thanks so much for showing us around, Kristen! You were a lovely host. (: Check out Kristen’s blog here to follow her Spanish adventures. Her photos on food and landscape are reason enough to check it out. And the hot dog on the left? My roommate! You can read hers here,¬†where you will find ample posts on humorous vignettes, honest rants, and even more odd, disoriented photos…¬†I know she’s kind¬†of socially retarded and¬†weird,¬†but she’s my friend. So, just promise me you wont make fun of her! (“Mean Girls,”¬†anyone?)

Enjoy! XO.

Airport Style.

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Before I came to Italy, I only needed two hands to count the number of times I rode on an airplane.¬†Now, it’s a different story. In the past three months, I’ve flown on an airplane 11 times.¬†I’ve flown more in the past three months than I have in my entire life!¬†Flying around in Europe isn’t nearly as expensive as it is in the states. Example: I flew to Barcelona last week for only 8 euros! Flying is, also, not nearly as glamorous as I imagined it to be beforehand. It’s exhausting and tedious and always leaves horrendous¬†blotches on my skin. Given, I¬†do¬†fly through really low-budget airlines, (curse you, Ryanair), so customer service tends to be awful and the restrictions are short of not letting the passengers on the plane — but hey, it’s all part of the experience right? Anyway, maybe flying really is glamorous when you’re doing it first class. Wouldn’t know.

Along the way, I’ve picked up some tips and tricks to minimize some of the awfulness that unavoidably follows when flying.

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1. BIG SUNGLASSES | Often departure times are at absurd hours and makeup is the last thing on your mind. To not scare off the entire airport with under-eye bags and dry skin, I cover half of it up with sunglasses! This also lets me keep a little bit of my dignity when I doze off on the plane with mouth wide open.

2. SWEATER, TANK, & SCARF¬†| Airplane temperature is SO unpredictable. Sometimes you’re in an ice box, others you’re in a tanning bed. You never know until you’re already high in the air and it’s too late to jump. I always come prepared ready to take off layers if the ride starts to get stuffy, or use the sweater and scarf as a blanket if the temperatures lowers.

3. MINIMAL JEWELRY |¬†I keep my earrings on but other than that, everything stays in my carry-on to avoid any hassle during security. I hate when a piece accidentally makes the metal detector go off and I have to awkwardly get¬†felt up by a stranger in front of everyone. Oh, don’t forget to take the belt off and leave the bra with underwire at home. (I learned the hard way.) No, I don’t have any bombs or knives hidden inside my pants.

4. LONGCHAMP¬†| Now, I don’t have a longchamp tote but I do think it would make for the perfect carry-on bag. Any bag large enough to fit everything works, and a long strap to free your arms for balancing other luggage is a plus. Inside the bag? Headphones,¬†tylenol, a good read, hand sanitizer, lip balm, tissues, body spray, makeup, a journal and pen, wallet, passport, and fuzzy socks (in case the plane gets really cold.)

5. FLATS¬†| Usually when you wear flat shoes, they don’t make you take it off to go through security. And even if they do, slipping them on and off is painless. It’s always annoying having to take your boots off, go through, lug them to a nearby bench, and then put them back on.

6. BLACK LEGGINGS¬†| Because it’s comfortable and lets you pretend you’re wearing no pants at all. No one likes to sit through a flight in stiff denim. No one. Sticking to black, specifically, is a good choice because its chicness can be dressy enough if you have somewhere to be right after with no time to change.

OTHER THINGS | If you fall asleep on the plane, be sure to keep your belongings wrapped around you so no one nearby can steal your things. Better yet, sit on them if you can! Better safe than sorry. Pack a snack and fill your water bottle before you get on the plane because all the prices get jacked up the second you step on. A cup of water? 4 euros.

Unfortunately, I can’t get rid of screaming babies, rude employees, or the long lines at security — if it were up to me though, I would in a heartbeat — but hopefully some of these will make your next plane ride more enjoyable. (: I’d love to hear any other travel essentials or tips I didn’t mention! xo.