Hidden Gem of London: Cafe Miami

A positive, pretty café makes for the perfect work environment. I am a firm believer that your surroundings set your mood and how productive you will be that day. This is why it is so important for me to find the best places to study, read and write in while in London.

I recently stumbled on a little place in Hackney called Café Miami. The glass storefront and pastel colors instantly drew me in. The welcoming staff, attention to detail, and delicious food made this place a new favorite spot of mine.

Cafe Miami London

The interior is everything. Cute quotes, pretty pink tables, powder blue chairs. How can you not love looking at this place?

Cafe Miami London coffee

My favorite part of Café Miami was the fun-shaped sugar cubes. This detail may seem so small but it was the most precious thing! I am a sucker for the little things in life and these cloud and heart-shaped sugar cubes are no exception.

Cafe Miami London

Cafe Miami London waffle

Not only were the sugar cubes in the shape of hearts but so were the waffles and the cinnamon on the top of my latte. Who doesn’t love hearts all over their food!? The hearts simply warm my heart. No pun intended.

Cafe Miami London latte

Cafe Miami London

I ordered the Waffle Burger (minus the chorizo) with avocado, fried egg, and hot sauce. The waffles were made with corn which made it savory and delicious. While it wasn’t a breakfast to fill a starving stomach, it was just what I needed that afternoon.

Cafe Miami London egg

What are you waiting for? Hop on the 55 bus and head to Hackney for the prettiest afternoon you’ve had all spring. You surely won’t be disappointed!

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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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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.

Shoreditch Street Style

Shoreditch is the coolest place in London to live; I will take that statement with me to the grave. Being a fashion and art lover, the environment really spurs so much creativity. Every time you walk down the street you notice a new painting or music poster on the exposed brick buildings. There is constantly something that inspires me with a new idea.

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Maybe it’s just me being crazy, but I think I’ve gotten a lot cooler since moving to Shoreditch. The neighborhood openly accepts the most artsy form of yourself, which I love. I can where whatever I want to wear without being looked at twice (unless your outfit is just so cool it requires a few extra glances). Everyone is always expressing themselves and simply living their lives. If you have a new idea or a creative soul, this is the only place to pursue it.

London street style

Staying true to my own style, I love to take business-like pieces and pair them with more eclectic, hip accessories. I took this rather fancy silk blouse and paired it with my new favorite Topshop jeans and Asos rose gold loafers. The cold and rainy weather clearly hasn’t stopped me from sporting my favorite pair of shoes.

London fashion blogger

I have been wearing a lot more blue since being in London, and I can’t help but think if the weather is what is inspiring this new wardrobe change. It really is as gloomy as everyone says it is (although this was shot on a super sunny day, of course)! Luckily, living in Shoreditch, there is always a colorful art mural just around the corner to brighten my day.

London fashion blogger

Fashion and art are two topics which can be interpreted in many different ways. We all see different things as forms of art and different styles as “fashion-forward”. Living in London has reinforced this viewpoint of mine more than ever. There are so many different parts of the city, each with different kinds of people, restaurants, and architectural styles. There truly is a neighborhood that is meant for everyone.

London street style

I am lucky enough to live in the neighborhood that fits me the best. Shoreditch is for the so-called “hipsters”. Kensington is for the posh museum-goers. Camden is for the eclectic, edgy character. Westminster is for the tourists…

london fashion blogger

The next time you are looking for a unique source of inspiration, explore a new area- whether it is a small street just a few minutes from you or a completely unknown neighborhood. You never know what you will find and how it will inspire you.

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Photos by Colton.

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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City Girl… or Farm Girl?

If you are an avid Instagram-scroller and health foodie then you have probably heard of a little place called Farm Girl Cafe in the neighborhood of Knotting Hill in London. After drooling at pictures on my feed for the past few months, I finally had the opportunity to taste the luxe lattes and fresh avocado toast.

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If you visit this restaurant expect a wait… a very long wait. One thing I have noticed in London is that waiters are not rushing around, worrying about each customer’s happiness the way the waiters do in America. Here they make you stand outside in the cold for nearly an hour before finally acknowledging your hangriness and dire need for food.

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The menu is full of options, from vegan and vegetarian to a loaded chicken sandwich, it is a safe place to drag your meat-loving friends. However, don’t expect to escape the endless health and vegan jokes. “That coconut bacon does not deserve to call itself bacon.”

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“This charcoal latte is crunchy. I can feel it in-between my teeth”. I will admit, these jokes are hilarious because quite often I am blinded by how ridiculous these things really are. I love trendy health food but I also appreciate a good laugh at them.

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These drinks have been haunting me from my Instagram feed since the moment I saw them. Rose and charcoal lattes? Definitely not something you find at your typical Starbucks! Unfortunately they do sound and look a lot cooler than they taste. Do it for the picture, though, right?

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I can’t go to brunch without eating some form of avocado, usually avocado toast. There is just nothing that beats it. This avocado toast was decorated with lemon juice, pomegranate seeds, and a poached egg. I ordered coconut bacon and sweet potato fries on the side. Both were delicious but definitely not worth the money. I would stick with the sandwiches which seemed a lot more filling than my £12 slices of bread.

Overall, this place makes for very cute pictures and a lovely place to chat with friends. However, if you are looking for a full on feast and to save some money, you may want to try somewhere else.

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Hidden Gem of London: Daunt Books

Literature has been a major theme of my new year. After all, I did set a resolution to read a new book each week, which I will be filling you in on at the end of each month. Naturally, I am always looking for a new book to pick up and dive into next. 52 books is a lot of books! Can you even name that many books you have read over the course of your life? I’m not sure I even can.

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I stumbled upon Daunt Books one day after venturing off of Marylebone Road where my University’s campus is situated. The surrounding area is bustling with small cafes, boutique shops, and, of course, this fabulous book store.

Best London Bookshop

The first thing I was attracted to was the large window in the back of the store, lined on both sides by upstairs railings. In this room, each bookcase showcases a different country and travel guides to visiting that country. The perfect shelves to browse while planning a European adventure! I must say, the atmosphere is truly unlike any Barnes and Nobles at home (sorry!).

Best London Bookshop

Aside from the unique beauty of the store, each book itself is a true work of art. I was able to find some of my favorite books lining the shelf, all of which had cover art that I had never seen before (Michael Lewis’s books included). Despite popular opinion, I am a firm believer of judging a book by its cover. The outside is an art entirely separate from the words inside the pages, and it deserves to be treated that way.

As an art and book lover, I highly recommend stopping in this shop while venturing through the neighborhood of Marylebone in London. Not only can you find an endless amount of inspiring and well-written literature but also individual works of art in the form of cover pages.

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A New Year, A New Adventure

2017 is just a few hours away and with this new year comes the new year’s resolutions. Have you decided yet what you are striving for once the year turns? Many people make it their goal to exercise, eat healthy, or maybe read a few more books, but a new year is about so much more than just these minuscule goals. Yes, miniscule. In the grand scheme of life are these things the secret to your happiness? Definitely not.

In the middle of January I am leaving the United States in order to study abroad for five months across the Atlantic Ocean, in London. As the day of my departure comes closer and closer, my parents and friends keep asking me why I have to leave. Of course my parents thought I was crazy when I said this, but I told them it was because I was getting too comfortable here.

hudson river new york city

I am someone that needs to be constantly challenged or I get bored and fall into a “funk”. In the last few months I have been experiencing this funk greatly. While I was happy, I knew I needed a change and I to push myself outside of my own limitations. What better way to do this than to move to a new country where you know nothing about the culture or the people?

There is something so frightening yet so exciting about living an entirely different life for a few months. I am ready to meet new people, explore new cities, and experience the discomfort of something entirely new. When is the last time that you went into something blind and alone? These leaps of faith are the ones that help us to learn the most about ourselves and grow into the person we want to be. It gives us a sense of clarity about what we love, appreciate, and want in the future.

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If you have the feeling of extreme comfort in your life, go out and destroy that feeling. Move somewhere new, take a trip alone, or do something that scares you. You will never know what you can learn about yourself until you try. Nobody progresses anywhere by being comfortable in life. So make 2017 a year of growth and happiness, not by losing weight or earning an A in one of your classes, but by going outside and experiencing life.

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