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

When my cousin and I were deciding where to travel for spring break Iceland quickly came to mind. Definitely not the typical spring break destination, but the perfect place for an experience opposite that of drinking on the beach.

Road tripping through Iceland was unlike any adventure I have ever been on. My past trips have consisted of exploring new European cities, learning about a country’s history, or relaxing by the ocean. Never have I driven along the coast of a new country, seeing beaches, mountains, glaciers, and volcanic rock all in a matter of a few hours.

To See…

The first thing that comes to mind for many when thinking of Iceland is its beautiful waterfalls. Seeing their size and all of the power they produced never got old. Just think how all this water is coming from the nearby melting glaciers and how its gaining enough momentum to cause this monstrous fall.

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This waterfall is called Seljalandsfoss. There is a good two hour drive from Reykjavik to here, most of which consists of flat valleys. Then, out of nowhere, you see this expansive mountain with huge waterfalls falling from its edge. We were always amazed at how quickly the landscape of Iceland changed.

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The most popular waterfall, and by far my favorite, is Skógafoss. The main reason this was my favorite was because of the beautiful rainbow projected into the mist of the falls. There is also an awesome outlook where you can climb to the top and see the waterfall from above.

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Just outside of Vík is a steep cliff with a lighthouse and stunning view of the Black Sand Beach. While driving up this cliff is a bit frightening (especially when a New Jersey driver is controlling the car), it is well worth it. You can see the ocean, beach, mountains, and glaciers all in one look from the cliff. On the other side you can also spot a huge rock arch jutting out into the ocean.

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The glacier lagoons we found along our drive were such pleasant surprises. The glaciers melt into a lagoon where pieces of ice break off into these huge chunks of “dead ice”. It’s amazing to see how clear these pieces are and simply how pure the water that forms them is. This spot is just off of Eyjafjallajökull. Try and say that five times in a row.

A little Icelandic language tip- anything that ends in “foss” is a watefall and anything that ends in “jökull” is a glacier! If you can figure this out then you basically have all the Icelandic language knowledge you need for your trip.

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The last site to see is not one carved by Mother Nature, but none the less it is pretty cool. You can find the DC-3 plane wreck on the Sólheimasandur Beach. One thing I never heard mentioned, however, was the 4 km walk just to the crash itself. And that’s just one way… This is fine for the young, adventurous soul like me but be warned if you don’t like walking in extreme weather conditions.

The history behind the plane wreck is the most fascinating part. While it isn’t necessary a “wreck”, it was an unplanned landing by the United States Navy. In 1973 the crew was forced to land on the beach due to extreme weather conditions. Luckily nobody was injured and the plane has been a popular tourist destination ever since. Our Airbnb owner even told us that the beach the plane is on is a private beach owned by a local farmer. The farmer was kind enough to open it up to the public free of charge. This just shows the kindness of the Icelandic people!

To Eat…

The food in Iceland has some of the highest prices you will ever see. Yes, higher than both London and New York City. Because of this I recommend choosing where to eat very wisely. Don’t just venture into some random restaurants because you are hungry and they are convenient!

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One of my favorite little spots was Sægreifinn, a hole-in-the-wall seafood spot by the ocean in Reykjavik. They are known for their lobster soup, which has some of the best lobster I have ever tasted. The Icelandic lobster melts in your mouth and isn’t at all chewy like the lobster here in America, or anywhere else for that matter. I also appreciated how the soup is not thick and creamy but rather thin and flavorful.

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In addition to the lobster soup they have kebabs with fresh pieces of fish caught in the ocean just outside the shop. This is the grilled cod special that they had that day. It was some of the most buttery, fresh fish I have ever tasted.

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The second place worth spending the money to eat at is Friðheimar, a local greenhouse that grows its own tomatoes. Everything on the menu is made from their own tomatoes. They use the “imperfect” ones that can’t be sold to the grocery stores in their dishes, although it tastes anything but imperfect. You can order endless tomato soup and bread so be sure to come hungry. After giving up tomatoes for a month I was able to down four whole bowls of soup. It doesn’t sound like a lot but I basically waddled out of that restaurant.

* Be sure to make lunch reservations in advance!

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Lastly, for those of you traveling all the way to the east in Höfn, Kaffi Hornið is for you. Granted, it is also the only restaurant in the small town, so you don’t really have a choice. It’s a cute little wooden lodge nestled in the heart of the small, dark town (if you can call it that). They serve local lobster dishes which will blow your mind. And your wallet… This being said this was my one splurge meal of the trip. The lobster set me back a good $83 but each bite was truly worth every penny.

To Do…

With a bunch of natural wonders comes lots of adventurous activities. If you are in Iceland for more than a week I highly recommend going on tons of hikes. However, if you only have five days like I did, here are some activities you can’t miss.

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The first and by far the coolest thing we did was snorkel the Silfra fissure in Þingvellir National Park. Although I was a bit nervous to snorkel in 30 degree (Fahrenheit) water, it ended up being much more bearable than I imagined. My cousin almost backed out the night before after reading blog posts calling the experience “the coldest thing I’ve ever done”. However, we were super comfortable and enjoyed the swim the entire time. Our enjoyment was definitely a large part due to our amazing instructor, Zsolt, from Arctic Adventures. If you do this tour be sure to book it with him!

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Another one of my favorite things to do was pet the Icelandic horses. If you don’t take advantage of these friendly creatures, you are missing out. Every time we saw horses standing by the fences we immediately pulled over to pet them. It makes them so happy and it definitely made long stretches of our road trip fly by. Just be careful with your clothing, one almost ate my scarf!

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I definitely don’t need to tell you twice about this destination. The Blue Lagoon is the first thing I see listed on every travel blogger’s to-do list. This spot makes for a relaxing few hours, especially after just getting off a flight. Not pictured is the two hours we slept in a freezing car in the parking lot outside of the spa, waiting for the place to open. Such a glamorous lifestyle I live!

* Also be sure to book at least a month in advance!

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I am always determined to find a local bookstore with lots of character every time I visit a new city. Bókavarðan has a funny story behind it actually. I browsing in one of my local bookstores in New jersey when I came across a book with pretty graphics talking about the author’s favorite bookstores in the world. I opened up the book to find the page be on a bookstore located in Reykjavik, Iceland. This was after I had just booked my trip to Iceland, and being a big believer in the Universe working in mysterious ways, I took this as a sign that I had to visit that same bookstore when I was there. And I did just that! There are books in large stacks all over the shop, mostly used, and all written in the Icelandic language. You need to really search to find the hidden gems but it is well worth it!

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Oh the Northern Lights… I am writing about this phenomenon to save you from the same mistake we made. DO NOT pay for a tour to see the lights. First, the night we went out was absolutely freezing and did not allow us to be outside for more than five minutes at a time. Second, the tours simply take you right outside the city and park you on the side of the road for a few hours. This is fine if you plan on staying in the city your entire trip and did not rent a car, but it was pointless for us. If you are going on a road trip and staying at an Airbnb along the way, like we did, this is a waste of money. Find yourself an Airbnb to stay at in a small town on the south east coast and you will be able to see them right from your backyard. I highly recommend staying here, outside of Höfn, if planning to see the lights. Our Airbnb host gladly woke us up as the lights got brighter and brighter so that we could see them from her backyard. Her and her dog made the stay extremely informative and enjoyable.

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And last, but not least… I need to tell you what NOT to do in Iceland. Unfortunately, I had to learn this lesson the hard way. After reading many blogs, I determined that it was absolutely safe to drink the flowing water in streams around the ring road. Every person wrote about how it was the best water they’ve ever drank. Well, that was not the case for me. The first time my cousin and I both tried the water and it was delicious. By far the best water!

However, the second time was different. Only I drank it this time (thank god) and it resulted in a night spent at the hospital. My stomach must have reacted to something in the water because my body simply rejected it, making me extremely sick. Being that there is only one hospital in the ENTIRE country, my cousin had to put the pedal to the metal to drive the remaining four hours back to Reykjavik. Luckily I am fine now but I would not wish that pain on my worst enemy. So lesson learned kids, don’t drink the glacier water! Also, always buy travel insurance (thanks mom for saving my butt!).

Overall, I hope Iceland is a destination everyone adds to their bucket list. Coming from New York City it is extremely humbling to see people live such a simple life. I now understand why tourists are so amazed when they see skyscrapers and lights as bright as Times Square.

Be sure to check out my Instagram for more photos from my trip and stay tuned for more posts about Iceland!

The Rise of Jersey City Street Art

Art. It is all around us but not everyone chooses to see it. Street art was once viewed as a crime thought to be ruining the beauty of a simple neighborhood. However, a lot has changed in the last few years and the whole concept of street art has turned from a negative to a positive.

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Art murals like the ones in this post are now viewed as a way to draw interest to an otherwise ugly space, such as a parking lot. Different colors, patterns, and images are being painted in areas with the purpose of changing the perception of neighborhood elements that have otherwise been thought of as unpleasant to the eye.

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From parking lots to the back entrances of restaurants, murals have turned these places into popular picture spots. Walking around this area of Jersey City I saw multiple photoshoots occurring; not just fashion bloggers like myself, but engagement and couple shoots. Ten years ago these murals would have been viewed as vandalism rather than a place where couples want to share some of the most important pictures of their lives.

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Once the exact opposite, street art can now be viewed as a way to gentrify a neighborhood and attract a new crowd of people. Neighborhoods like Jersey City, Shoreditch, Chelsea, and even my hometown, are embracing this new approach to enliven a neighborhood. So what exactly changed to all of a sudden make street art “cool”?

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Is it the rise of millennials and our culture that are making this a new trend? Maybe. Or maybe it was society’s increasing interest with Banksy, the anonymous British artist known for making political statements with murals popping up on city walls overnight.

We may never really know how society began to accept this form of art that it was so strongly against in the past. However, it is important to consider its importance and how it has changed society for the better. It has given artists a platform where their art is guaranteed to be seen and recognized. It has also introduced the concept of art to many people and has shown them just how powerful it can be.

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Similar to street art, I aim to express myself through what I choose to put on my body each day. The way we dress and what we wear paints a picture of who we are in other’s minds. As cliché as it is, we all judge a book by its cover. It is important to express who you are and what you believe in through what you wear, just like street artists express their views on society through their murals.

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Whether you are a fan of street art or not, the next time you see a mural, stop and try to interpret what the artist was thinking at the time he or she painted it. Art has the power to express meaningful messages if we allow it to. Also consider what message you are projecting to the world when you get dressed tomorrow morning. Clothes, colors, and patterns have the ability to say so much without having to actually say it.

Bag (similar): Bloomingdale’s                                                                Boots (similar): Off 5th

One Shoulder Sweater: ASOS (ON SALE!)

Check out Parisian Street Art (the 10th arrondissement) and Amsterdam’s Art Scene to see some of my favorite street art in Europe.

 

 

 

Parisian Street Art (the 10th arrondissement)

The 10th district of Paris is abundant with colorful street art and lively characters. It is not what one would expect when thinking of Paris. I personally loved seeing this side of the city, covered in music posters and graffiti, because of its contrast to the classic Parisian architecture.

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Paris street art

Paris street art

These graphic stickers of random faces could be found on various corners throughout the district.

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Along the canal were plenty of pop art posters promoting local events and concerts.

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fun Paris street art

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Stickers saying “J’existe”, or “I exist” in English, were stuck all over the canal barriers and street signs.

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This area could easily be considered the Shoreditch or East Village of Paris for those of you familiar with London or New York. If you love street art and exploring the younger scenes of cities, then visiting the 10th district of Paris, by the canal, is a must.

Follow me on Instagram for more photos of the world’s best cities and their street art.

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

Last month I traveled to Dubrovnik, Croatia for a little spring getaway before my finals began. Croatia is a beauty unlike any other city I’ve visited. The crystal blue waters, marble city floors, brightly colored roses, terracotta roofs, sloping cliffs… The beauty cannot be put into words, or even pictures for that matter.

Dubrovnik is a city I would recommend everyone to visit, even if you aren’t an avid Game of Thrones fan. It has a little bit of everything; from the beaches and hiking to the city life, it is the perfect destination no matter what your typical travel style is.

To See…

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Walking the stairs that take you around Dubrovnik’s alleys is a must when trying to see the city. This is the way to find the best restaurants and tiny shops. I found a beautiful art shop with the most amazing gold-leafed paintings. The view down the alleys from the top of the stairs, with the colorful laundry blowing in the wind, is like no other.

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Just a 15 minute ferry ride from Dubrovnik is an island called Lokrum. There are no inhabitants on this island except for some beautiful natural wonders and wild animals. I thoroughly enjoyed watching the bunnies hop around and the peacocks spread their feathers. My favorite part of this island was the Dead Sea, which was just a short walk from where the ferry drops you off.

After much, MUCH searching, climbing through bushes, and scaling down rocks, my friend and I were able to find the cave which we came to the island with the purpose of finding. We saw this on a famous travel blogger’s Instagram and had to hunt it down. Little did we know we would have to walk the entire island and its many hills just to find it in the place where we started the adventure.

Lokrum Island Instagram blogger spot

Travel bloggers make finding magical spots like this seem so easy and care-free. I am here to tell you that that was not the case at all. We climbed the rocks and almost fell in the water multiple times just to get the perfect shot. We even almost got stranded on the island and had to hitch a ride from a maintenance man back to the ferry which was leaving for the day in 2 minutes. Maybe I should have sacrificed for the sake of my blog and slept on the island for the night? Regrets…

To Eat…

Croatia is known for its incredibly delicious seafood and, let me tell you, it did not disappoint. Being the seafood connoisseur that I am, I took full advantage of all the seafood the country had to offer.

Our first stop after landing was, of course, Dubrovnik’s city center for some mussels, octopus and anchovies. This restaurant, Kamenice, was recommended to us by our Airbnb owner as having extremely fresh seafood. There are many different places with similar menus so be sure to pick the places that the locals recommend!

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Dubrovnik food blogger

I love my sushi so any chance I have to get a spicy tuna roll made with the freshest of seafood, I jump on it. These rolls at Shizuku were made of big chunks of fish marinated in soy sauce. While this restaurant is located on the outskirts of the city, it is well worth the Uber ride there.

Dubrovnik sushi

In addition to seafood, Croatia is known for their wine. It is absolutely essential to visit a wine bar and educate yourself (and your palate) on the flavors of the country. I sampled a flight of red wine at D’Vino Wine Bar which was a lovely experience. The waiter even informed us on all the different types of wine that the country grows and the flavors of the grapes from each region. I was surprised to learn that the white Zinfandel, now grown in California, originates in Croatia.

To do…

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Climbing the Dubrovnik City Walls will give you the most impressive views of the city center and the buildings that make it up. It is a beautiful sea of orange. Warning: you will take thousands of pictures of the view (trust me, I learned the hard way). Walk around when the sun isn’t too bright and take in everything that you are seeing without a lense in front of your eye.

Dubrovnik Croatia view

Of all the beaches in Dubrovnik, Banje Beach was by far my favorite. It is so small and intimate, making it the perfect place to lay out and relax. The beach even has a club on it with yummy drinks and lounge chairs that are well worth the money.

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After visiting the port, follow the cost and you will come to steep stairs leading down to the beach. The beach itself is free so if you are looking to save some money be sure to bring your own towel and/or chair to lounge on.

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If you love breathtaking views then the Dubrovnik Cable Car is for you. And if you don’t like views (or are scared of heights), it is well worth facing your fear. The cable car scales 778 meters up the mountain, giving you a view of the entire east coast of Croatia.

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Not only can you see the entire city of Dubrovnik, but you can see the mountains and countryside surrounding it. I was surprised to see that the other side of Croatia is completely covered in mountains and farmland.

Dubrovnik cable car

After enjoying a cup of hot tea in the restaurant on the mountain we hiked our way down in order to find some beautiful city outlooks. We came across a spot covered with boulders and yellow flowers. I am a firm believer that you need to venture off the typical path in order to find the true gems.

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This smile says it all. Croatia is a country filled with happiness, beauty,and life and that just radiates from within yourself when visiting the country.

Follow me on here, InstagramTwitter, and Facebook to see more pictures of this beautiful city.

Take Me to Paris

Paris is the city of love and magic. It is a city that I have wanted to visit ever since I was a little girl, obsessed with all things fashion and fairytales. This past week I finally got the chance to see the monuments that make the city so special and experience a little sliver of the Parisian lifestyle.

While my experience definitely was not like what Lana Del Rey sung about in her song Paris, it was just as special. Sorry Lana, no making out in dark restaurants and staying out late when you are on a family vacation where there’s a 6am wake-up call every morning.

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The first thing I wanted to see when I got to Paris was the Eiffel Tower. Cliché, I know, but this is the icon that represents Paris in every non-Parisian’s mind. Once you see this architectural wonder, that is when you know that you have arrived in the most romanic city in the world.

After a long day of traveling I drug my family through the streets of Paris in order to find an unobstructed view of the tower. Even though they complained the entire way, I refused to give up on finding it. Obviously I couldn’t just take the easy way out and order an Uber right to the area. I needed to find that perfect view on my own, only by wondering through the streets. Eventually, after many winding roads, we ended up in a large park with a perfect view of the Eiffel Tower at sunset. I am a firm believer of taking the roads least traveled by; that is when you end up finding the most beautiful undiscovered treasures!

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While the Eiffel Tower was much smaller than I pictured, it was quite wonderful to see in person. If you have an appreciation for architecture like myself, then you know there really is nothing like it. Sure, it is the symbol of Paris’s beauty, but it is also a work of art in itself. Make sure you pay special attention to the placement of the iron beams when riding the elevator to the top.

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When you think of Paris the second thing that often comes to mind is the Louvre, or perhaps even better known as the museum that houses the Mona Lisa. While I think the Mona Lisa is overrated because of all the tourists it now attracts (but that is another story), the Louvre has a beautiful collection of Greek and Roman sculpture which I have always yearned to see. It still amazes me how these sculptors were able to create movement in their pieces while lacking the advanced tools that we now have.

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Did you really travel to Europe if you didn’t visit a cathedral? Nothing compares to the cathedrals in Europe. Nothing. Each one tells a similar story but in a completely different way. The Notre-Dame in Paris is no exception to that. Similar to the Greek and Roman sculptures, it blows my mind to think about how artists of the past were able to sculpt works of art like these. They are so grand that their building process is completely unfathomable to think about.

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And last, but not least, you cannot leave Paris without trying some Ladurée macarons. Believe me, macarons in Paris really do taste better than macaroons anywhere else. They are the perfect treat after traveling to the top of the Arc de Triomphe, which is right around the corner. After climbing 284 steps, you sure earned the right to indulge in some sweet treats!

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Paris is a city that gives you a new experience every time you visit it. Your experience all depends on what you do and who you are with. I hope to someday experience the city with best friends as well as someone I love. I will eat crêpes in the beautiful parks below the Eiffel Tower and socialize at the sidewalk cafés while drinking champagne. I will have a picnic by the Seine with a good book that I bought at a local bookshop. It is amazing how endless the possibilities of exploring a new city are. À la prochaine, Paris!

Be sure to follow me on here, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter for more pictures and posts about my trip to Paris.

Amsterdam’s Art Scene

When I think of Amsterdam I just think of a cool city with cool people. And naturally, when a city and its people are cool, there is a pretty mind-blowing art scene. Not only are there some amazing, well-known museums, like the Van Gogh Museum, but there are galleries and exhibits that are rarely mentioned in the plethora of guides to Amsterdam that you see on Pinterest.

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One of my favorite places that we stumbled into was the Home of Art art gallery. I loved this lantern-like exhibit that was displayed in the front of the space. The way the sun shone through the windows was beautiful.

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I think I loved this gallery so much because of the people that ran it. They were welcoming, offering us up some wine and snacks, and left us alone to enjoy the art. If you are a frequent gallery-goer than you know that those running it make or break your experience. A lot of people can be stingy, watching your every move, judging you, or simply ignore your presence all together.

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Of course we visited the Van Gogh Museum, which was an amazing experience. I learned so much about the artist that I never knew. I loved seeing how his work evolved throughout the different time periods in his life and changed depending on where he moved. The museum does a brilliant job at intertwining Van Gogh’s history with his paintings, explaining his story perfectly through his art.

Amsterdam Moco Museum

Lastly, right next to the Van Gogh Museum, is the Moco Museum, a pleasant surprise for someone who loves street art or impressionism. I had never even heard of this museum before walking by it. It houses an extensive collection of Banksy and Dali, walking the viewer through the meaning of their different pieces. While we did not get the chance to go inside, this will definitely be the first museum I visit the next time I’m in Amsterdam. Remember to hit up all of the museums early in the day so you don’t face the same struggle against the 5pm closing times that we did.

Amsterdam Moco Museum

To learn about more of my favorites spots in Amsterdam, check out my Ultimate Guide to Amsterdam- What to See, Eat, Do, and be sure to follow me on Instagram to see all of my European adventures!

Hidden Gem of Amsterdam: Toastable

After strolling through the Bloemenmarkt early in the morning, I needed some coffee to get me through the rest of the day. I was instantly attracted to Toastable because of their cute, cheery sign greeting me at the door.

Amsterdam's cutest cafe

I ordered a cappuccino to-go, although my cousin and I ended up spending quite some time in this quaint cafe. Wood tables, pink peonies in glass bottles, white walls, and a decadent gold-framed mirror. If I lived in Amsterdam I could easily spend hours in this light, airy atmosphere.

best coffee in  Amsterdam

While I only came in here for a cup of coffee, I later found out that they sell all varieties of grilled cheese. I mean who doesn’t love grilled cheese? If you stop here, try the Gorgonzola toastie for me; I couldn’t help but eye up all the delicious options on their menu! I highly recommend stopping in here for a quick bite to eat and a cup of coffee before being on your way to explore the city.

Amsterdam's best coffee

Being a blogger, I can’t leave a place this aesthetically pleasing without having a little photoshoot!

Check out my Amsterdam Guide for more recommendations when visiting this city.

Burberry Makers House

This week only, Burberry is holding an exhibit which showcases their February 2017 collection that was shown at London Fashion Week on Monday. The exhibit is named “Henry Moore: Inspiration & Process at Makers House”, brought together in collaboration with the Henry Moore Foundation. The exhibit walks through the artwork, created by Henry Moore himself, and how it inspired this season’s collection.

Burberry cape

In addition to Moore’s artwork and Burberry’s latest collection, Burberry has also displayed their made-to-order couture cape collection. These capes are some of the most beautiful, detailed pieces I have ever had the pleasure of viewing. Each one is created from the most exquisite materials such as shells, feathers, plastic, rope, and beads.

Burberry February 2017

This grey cable knit sweater dress is a favorite of mine from the collection. I can just imagine myself wearing this with some knee-high black boots and a grey trench coat. A girl can dream, right!?

Burberry Makers House 2017

Burberry Makers House production

Being a sewer, I loved experiencing the making of a huge fashion house’s runway collection. The exhibit laid out the fitting and tailoring process of each special piece in the collection. They even had a jacket displayed that still had the pins in it. Many people who aren’t familiar with designing clothes don’t understand all of the math and careful planning involved with each garment. This exhibit gives a deep insight into the process of designing and creating clothing.

Burberry cape

Henry Moore Burberry

This is one of Moore’s bronze sculptures which was the largest source of inspiration for the collection. Each sculpture is meant to represent a sense of security, which can be noticed throughout the clothes in the collection. You can also see how the geometric elements of this sculpture translate directly into the geometric elements of the clothes. This is seen most literally in the shoes paired with each look which have a cut-out round heel.

Burberry Henry Moore

Burberry February 2017

Here is a more literal interpretation of one of Moore’s art pieces. You can see that Christopher Bailey was inspired by the fluidity and design of the light piece when designing this knit sweater.

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We looked at the contradictions in  Moore’s work, between power and gentleness, heaviness and lightness, familiarity and abstraction. Between the hardness of his materials and the fluidity and softness of his forms -(Christopher Bailey)

Burberry February 2017

If you are in London this week then I highly suggest you make a stop at the Makers House. Not only is it a once-in-a-lifetime experience for the fashion phanatics, but it’s free! When you’re traveling on a budget there is no better word to hear. You have until February 27th to check it out, so go now! I am definitely making a few more visits before the exhibit closes. If you go be sure to let me know what you thought!

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.

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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.

Follow me on Instagram for more photos of street art seen around Europe.

 

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.