The Colors of Portugal

The bright and vibrant colors of Portugal make it the perfect summer travel destination. Patterned tiles cover the buildings lining the narrow city streets, making every walk an experience.

Colorful Alfama buildings

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Alfama, Portugal

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My Daily Commute in Pictures

Every time I walk from Old Street station back to my flat I think how lucky I am to be in London in this beautiful neighborhood. While this may not be everyone’s idea of beauty, especially those used to the more traditional London, beauty is all in one’s own perception. Here is my daily commute through Shoreditch in my eyes:

Shoreditch photography

Shoreditch building photography

Shoreditch street shot

Shoreditch street art photography

Shoreditch graffiti art

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Hidden Gem of London: Palm Vaults

I am a sucker for a place with a cute aesthetic and healthy, good-tasting food. Needless to say, Palm Vaults offers both of these, all in the heart of Hackney.

palm vault london

The café truly is an Instagrammer’s heaven with the green plants hanging from the ceiling, marble tables, velvet couches, and pink accents. Not to mention the takeaway cups which are chic enough to include in your next #ootd post.

Palm Vault Dragonfruit Smoothie

My friend ordered the “Unleash the Dragon” smoothie which is undeniably the prettiest smoothie I have ever seen. It still amazes me how a fruit can produce a color as bright and vibrant as this one.

Palm Vault London

Palm Vaults is known for their endless selection of artisan lattes. Tumeric, violet, red velvet, blue moon tea, and charcoal are just a few options included in their menu. I ordered the red velvet latte and was surprised to taste a beet flavor. It turns out the pretty red color is acheived using the natural coloring of beets. While it is definitely an acquired taste, it makes me feel better knowing that I am not consuming artificial chemicals. The beet and mocha flavors surprisingly complement one another very well!

Palm Vault acai bowl

I ordered the “Pataya Bowl”, decorated with raspberries, coconut, blueberries, and goji berries. After seeing pictures of my favorite bloggers eating these bowls on tropical islands such as Hawaii and Australia, I had to have one. This bowl brought a little slice of the warm tropics to London, right before walking outside into the rain of course.

palm vault london

While I loved being in such a pretty atmosphere, with yummy food, places like this attract certain kinds of people. Of course I am not hating on us bloggers, being I am also that girl that has to rearrange the table to get the perfect picture of what I am about to consume, but it is also important to enjoy the moment you are living in.

Often at times we tend to only do things for the image that it portrays on social media. We all get caught up in capturing that perfect picture with the perfect lighting. While this is ok to do to a certain point, there comes a time when it’s necessary to put the camera or phone down and focus on what’s in front of you. Enjoy your delicious food. Enjoy the atmosphere you’re in. Most importantly, enjoy the time with the company that surrounds you.

The next time you go out to brunch or coffee with friends, spend the first 5 minutes rearranging your food and posting it all over social media. After, put the camera away. Put the phone away. Take the time to really talk to your friends and really taste your food. It is amazing how much more enjoyable life becomes when you shut out the digital world and embrace the present.

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The Ultimate Guide to Amsterdam- What to See, Eat, Do

I can officially say I have found the next European city that I long to live in. Amsterdam, you have my heart.

This past weekend my cousin Natasha and I ventured on a train from London to Amsterdam. When you first exit the station you see the beautiful Amstel river in front of you and a path buzzing with bicycles. Even knowing that it is the most bike-friendly capital in the world, I was still shocked by just how many bikers there really were!

Amsterdam is a fairly small city, making it perfect for only a day and a half long trip. Surprisingly, we were able to do most of the things we wanted to, although I would be happy to aimlessly walk along the canals for days.

To See…

Amsterdam canal

Yes, the canals are just as breathtakingly beautiful in person as they are in the pictures. There is something about each street being lined with water that makes the city like a fairytale land. I know I am happiest when I am by the water, so it makes perfect sense that Amsterdam is the happiest city in the world! I suggest enjoying a cup of coffee or tea and sitting along the edge (or if you’re scared of water, on one of the bridges).

Amsterdam tulip market

If you are a flower lover like myself, you must visit the Bloemenmarkt, a flower market floating on one of the canals. They display the most beautiful blooming tulips you will ever see. While I unfortunately didn’t get the oppurtunity to make it to the Dutch countryside for the tulip fields, this was a great alternative.

Amsterdam flower market

My favorite shop was one of the last ones in the market. The ceiling is adorned with delicate bouquets of pastel-colored flowers. If I live in Amsterdam someday my apartment will always be flourishing with an assortment of flowers from this market.

Iamsterdamn sign

The I amsterdam sign has to be the most Instagrammed spot in the city. While I think the sign is quite touristy and overrated, I still recommend visiting the surrounding area. The sign is located by a bunch of beautiful museums, this stunning fountain, and a luscious green park.

To Eat…

Coming to Amsterdam I was most excited to eat the waffles; and let me tell you, they did not disappoint. The first thing I ate after setting foot in the city was some stroopwafels. These are a traditional Dutch dessert consisting of two thin waffles with a layer of gooey caramel in between. They are addicting, beware!

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While the stroopwafels are an amazing treat, my favorite thing I ate in Amsterdam had to be the Milka chocolate-covered waffle. Milka chocolate alone tastes amazing, so just imagine adding a warm waffle and homemade whipped cream to the mix. I’m surprised I remember it as well as I do being that I devoured it in a matter of minutes. Waffle shops are everywhere in the city, and in my opinion, all equally as yummy.

GG's brunch boat Amsterdam

Hands down my favorite part of the trip (even if you include the part where Natasha spilled an entire mimosa on me), G’s Brunch Boat is a must-do while in Amsterdam. Not only is the food amazing, but you get an extensive 2-hour tour of the canals. My cousin and I were huge fans of the music they played- everything from Rihanna to modern remixes to throwback songs, the playlist was on point.

Amsterdam pancakes

Another traditional Dutch food that I had to try while in the Netherlands was poffertjes, or as I like to call them, mini pancakes. You can order these fluffy pieces of goodness with all sorts of toppings like bananas, strawberries, nutella, or whipped cream. I always opt for the simple cinnamon and sugar. Just like the waffles, you can find Dutch pancake houses all over the city. Be sure to stop in one for a sweet snack!

If you are looking for a nice lunch spot with a stunning view of the canal, check out Schreierstoren (or VOC Café). It is right by the train station, making it a convenient choice for your pre or post travels. I even ate next to an adorable Doodle named Cookie which was a huge bonus in my book!

For dinner be sure to check out A Fusion, a Japanese restaurant conveniently located by the Red Light District. If you are looking for something outside all of the bustle of the city center, try Mexico Boulevard for some yummy mexican food and a great service experience.

To Do…

You can’t go to Amsterdam without exploring some of its deep history. I recommend paying a visit to the Anne Frank House. The stories that have been created in the house are tragic but powerful. Visiting the house and experiencing the exhibit makes you really think about life and what is important. As Otto Frank once said, “To build a future, you have to know the past” (1967). This should be reason enough to pay this piece of history a visit. Be sure to buy your tickets online beforehand so you don’t have to wait in line.

Anne Frank House cafe

The café at the end of the exhibit is a beautiful place to have a cup of coffee or enjoy lunch. Light floods into the all-glass walls, making it a brilliant space to work or enjoy with friends. The far side of the café overlooks the canals, giving you a picture-perfect view.

fashion blogger amsterdam

After touring the Anne Frank House, we headed to the Van Gogh Museum. This is the one museum in Amsterdam that I knew I had to visit. If you didn’t know, Van Gogh was actually born in the Netherlands, and you can see this inspiration in some of his pieces.

I have always admired Van Gogh’s artwork and his passion (or madness) for the work he created. The museum walks you through the story of his life and the different paintings which he made in different periods of his life. It is mind-blowing just how many pieces of his they have and just how different a lot of them are from the typical Van Gogh pieces that we are used to seeing.

Vondelpark Amsterdam spring time

This is Vondelpark, the park located by the Van Gogh Museum and Iamsterdam sign,  which I mentioned earlier. If you are as lucky as we were and are blessed with sunny days, spend an hour or two in the park. The energy of the locals here is contagious; kids are running around and people are playing fetch with their dogs. You could even bring some cheese (which Amsterdam is actually known for!) and champagne to the park and have a small picnic!

I am already counting down the days until I can visit this city again… or move there, if I’m lucky. It is so much more than everyone makes it out to be. Experience it for yourself and let me know what you think! Look out for an Art Guide to Amsterdam, coming soon. Until then, follow me on here, InstagramTwitter, and Facebook to see more pictures of this beautiful city.

Weekend Getaway: Cambridge, England

This past weekend I escaped rainy London and headed over to (also very rainy) Cambridge! I figured it was time to start exploring the other cities in England. While I am a city girl and absolutely adore being in London, it was nice to change up my atmosphere for a college campus feel. I would love to say it felt just like home, but lets be honest, my school in the United States is nowhere near as pretty as the University of Cambridge.

Fitzbillies Bakery Cambridge

Are you surprised that my first stop in Cambridge was for food? Neither am I! My friend and I dropped into Fitzbillies, a favorite among the locals, for their famous Chelsea bun. And maybe a scone too… I can’t resist a good cup of English Breakfast tea and a yummy scone with jam when I see one on the menu!

Fitzbillies Bakery chelsea bun

The Chelsea bun did not disappoint. It was just as ooey and gooey as I expected. The raisins inside made for an extra touch of deliciousness. This pastry is a must-have if you are traveling to Cambridge!

Cambridge University England

I like to think I have a deep appreciation for classic architecture, so naturally these buildings took my breathe away. I can’t believe students actually attend classes here!

Cambridge University market

Cambridge University canal

Throughout the varying campuses of the University of Cambridge runs a canal. Many people hop on the canal and opt for a tour of all of the colleges via the water. We decided to skip out on this to save some money, but it would be quite beautiful in the spring!

Cambridge market tea

Since we traveled to Cambridge on a Saturday, all of the vendors were out selling their goods at the local markets. There were vendors selling food, books, jewelry, University apparel, and more. I personally loved this tea vendor because of all of the handwritten tags. You could tell he was extremely passionate about his homegrown teas, which is what I love to see from market vendors.

Cambridge University

After walking around and taking in the atmosphere, we made a trip to The Eagle, the pub where Francis Crick and James Watson first announced that DNA carries genetic information. Being the nerd that I am, I had to get a drink here and bathe in the scientific glory that occurred in this pub.

We ended out trip by making our way to the Centre for Computing History. Little did I know this would entail a 45 minute walk across town, to a rather deserted manufacturing area. The museum was hidden behind a tile factory, making it nearly impossible to find. After finally finding it, I had to pay 7 pounds in order to walk through it. This is a lot for a college student on a budget in a foreign country!

Centre of Computing History Cambridge

The museum had almost every computer ever made, explaining when each one was built and the functions it could perform. My favorite part was the wall of game consoles displayed, each one fully functioning. I played Super Mario Brothers from 1983 and Pacman on a vintage arcade machine, reliving my fondest childhood memories of challenging my mom to Pacman tournaments in Jersey Shore arcades. Now I want one of these for my apartment!

Thanks for giving me a nice city escape, Cambridge! Until the next weekend trip…

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Street Art of Alfama

Art truly is everywhere you look… It just depends what you are looking for. I see art in the the literal sense, through murals and paintings, but also in people and places. Lisbon, as a city, was a work of art in itself.

Aflame street art

Two friends enjoying lunch on a quiet Sunday afternoon. I quickly fell in love with the bicycle, flowers, and painting of the woman with the traditional Portuguese guitar.

Aflame street art

This alley was my favorite discovery I made while wandering the streets of Alfama. It was covered in plants and random colorful collages. There was also a back and white cat sitting on a chair, bathing in the sun. I think he appreciated the artwork just as much as I did!

Aflama street art

The contrast of old and new. Who is to say that one is more beautiful than the other? Although I do wish I knew what the graffiti says.

Aflame street art

A graffitied truck parked in front of an exquisitely built building- the perfect contrast.

pure poetry pura poesia

Pure poetry.

Aflame street mosaic

Aflame street graffiti

Most people choose to just look at the view of the city, I choose to look at the graffiti surrounding it as well.

Aflame street art tile mosaic

Hand-painted tiles on the side of a building that highlight the Portuguese lifestyle in Alfama.

aflama art coffee and red wine

My three favorite things- coffee, wine, and paintings!

I am always mentioning this, but, art is what you make of it. Start opening your eyes to view everything you see as its own work of art. You never know what you will learn to appreciate in the process.

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Lisbon, Portugal- What to See, Eat, Do

This past weekend I headed to Lisbon, Portugal for my first weekend trip of my study abroad adventure. Portugal wasn’t even a place I considered visiting until my friend asked me if I wanted to join him. I can definitely say I am happy that I said yes and had the opportunity to experience such a beautiful city.

Lisbon is a city that is best seen by wandering the streets aimlessly. My friends and I had no specific plans but to walk around and take in whatever sights we could find.

To See…

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The Jerónimos Monastery happened to be only a 15 minute walk from the Airbnb we were staying in. It took my breathe away the moment I saw it. The details of the carvings of the stone are something a picture cannot even capture. The construction began in 1501 and was completed in 1601. The beauty is priceless, both literally and figuratively, making it a must-see!

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We decided to walk up a bunch of tiny alleyways in Aflama which somehow led us to this gorgeous view. From here you could see the entire city, including the 25 de Abril Bridge. Did you know this bridge was built by the American Bridge Company, the same company who built the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco (hint the resemblance)? Explore the city streets and let them lead you to magical spots like this one.

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To Eat…

Portugal is known for their traditional pastry called the pastel de nada, a creamy custard egg tart. They are traditionally eaten in the mornings with coffee, and that is just what we did. Every morning of the trip, actually. I recommend Pastéis de Belém, a pastry shop with an endless selection of sweets and a buzzing environment.

pastel de nata

Being a seafood connoisseur, of course I was most excited to try the fish of Portugal, specifically the ceviché. Ever since I went to Puerto Rico I have not been able to find ceviché that compares to theirs. While Portugal’s still comes in second, it was nearly as delicious. I recommend trying the grouper ceviché and prawn tapas at Mesón Andaluz, a hidden gem just off the popular pink street. One of the things I loved most about Lisbon was the incredibly generous, kind people. You definitely don’t find those in London or New York City! The manager of the restaurant was making jokes and slipping me free food. How could I not love this place?

Portugal octopus ceviche

While I usually head to a certain restaurant for its trendy atmosphere, there was something special about eating in the quaint restaurants owned by the local people. The food was authentic and never disappointed. You can find many cafés with outdoor seating along the streets of Alfama, all with spectacular views of the colorful buildings and city streets.

To Do…

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After realizing a tuk tuk was the same price as an Uber, we quickly embarked on an adventure in one driven by a local, from Belém to Alfama. The fresh air in our faces was liberating and the experience was like no other. Our driver was extremely friendly and told us all the best places to see.

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Lesson learned: say yes to everything. Well, almost everything. Say yes to life, say yes to exploring, say yes to new cities. Life has a funny way of working itself out. I am sure glad I said yes to Portugal.