Category Archives: Travel

Weekend in San Francisco: My Fav San Fran Spots & College Fashion Week

San Francisco Favorites by Ramblings of a Wild One Finally, I got some time to put together a little run-down of my weekend in San Fran ( last weekend )!! I went to San Francisco to attend College Fashion Week ( learn more about how I decided WTF to wear here & my final outfit choice here ) & spend a little Father-Daughter time with my Dad.

Weirdly enough, I had never been to San Francisco before… I fancy myself more of a Southern California girl (<< PS: didja know I’m moving to LA in JANUARY ?? … omg, can’t wait). Honestly, I was surprised by Northern California. It’s a little chillier than SoCal & the vibes of San Francisco reminded me more of a North Eastern town.. it has a feel all its own. I also loved how the city is separated into very specific neighborhoods. I got to visit many of them, but I can’t wait to go back and explore the rest!

We didn’t get to spend that much time in the city ( because we only had 2 days.. ugh ), but we did get to cross a few San Fran must-sees off the to-do list. I’m no pro at conquering San Francisco, but here are some of my favorites from my weekend (+ Some pictures from College Fashion Week at the End!):

This post is pretty lengthy, so prepare yourself »

ROAWO's San Francisco Checklist: Lots to see in so little time! First off, I should note that we stayed at the cutest little boutique hotel called Hotel Carlton in the Nob Hill area. We were greeted with a bottle of red wine ( from the California wine-country ) by some witty hotel employees.

The decor throughout the hotel is eclectic & super-chiller status. Hotel Carlton is less than a 10 minute walk from Union Square (<< we’ll get to this later) and is an LEED certified hotel (which means its environmentally responsible… how California, right?).

Hotel Carlton :: ROAWO's Guide to San Fran Hotel Carlton :: ROAWO's Guide to San Fran Hotel Carlton :: ROAWO's Guide to San Fran Obviously, my Dad insisted I see the Golden Gate Bridge ( he’s an airline pilot on the side, so he’s seen it 302843854 times & thinks its an absolute must-see ). Its windy AS HELL up there on the Golden Gate & you have an insane view of the city from that vantage point. I mean, its a seriously beautiful city. The huge ocean, huge mountains, and views made me feel teeny-tiny. Its a killer feeling fer sher.

Dynamo Donuts :: ROAWO's Guide to San Francisco For breakfast on Saturday morning, we headed over the Mission District to see what all the hype is about Dynamo Donut + Coffee. I discovered this little gem while watching one of my favorite shows, Unique Sweets on The Cooking Channel. This place is a serious must-eat.

I have always been a donut lover ( who isn’t ?? ), but sometimes, those little pastries can make my stomach hate the hell out of me. I mean, some donuts are just too sweet. At Dynamo D+C, they understand that sentiment completely, and have created some extremely balanced, gourmet donuts with some interesting flavors. Plus, they use mainly organic and local ingredients…. ahhh two of my favorite, favorite, favorite things ( times a million ).

Dynamo Donut + Coffee :: ROAWO's Guide to San Fran I tried the Lemon + Pistachio Donut ( not a normal choice for me.. but let me tell ya, I do not regret it ) and the sticky bun ( a HUGE cinnamon roll, basically ). I 100% recommend the Lemon + Pistachio donut if its on the menu when you ( inevitably ) make a trip to Dynamo. The flavor was done perfectly ( PS: sorry for the shitty picture… iPhone photography at its finest… ugh ).

The Mission District is really freaking badass too. It’s kinda of grungy, but in that cool, laid-back kind of way.

Mission District: ROAWO's Guide to San Francisco

Mission District: ROAWO's Guide to San Francisco

Shop the Look: Jacket, Top, Jeans, Shoes, Bag, Sunnies

Okay, possibly my favorite spot in San Fran??? Union Square, duh. For those of you who live in SF, you’re probably thinking ‘gross, what a cliche‘ BUT: I’m a serious shopping-addict, so can you blame me?

I checked out the BCBG/Herve Leger by Max Azria storefront ( and ended up staying for like two hours… sorry Dad ) while I was there and DIED/ fell in love.

BCBG & Herve Leger by Maz Azria Storefront in San Francisco First of all: I got to try on some seriously insane dresses & shoes… AND they have champagne. So, why would you ever want to leave? The girls ( and guys! ) who work here are super-chic and helpful too. Shopping here is a real experience ( even you’re not going to buy anything… some of the price tags are redic, obviously ).

BCBG Booties :: zOMG.

These Shoes in a Heel Version Found Here

BCBG Holiday Collection Dress :: ROAWO

Dress found Here

Herve Leger Dress :: ROAWO

Herve Leger Dress found Here

After shopping around a little on Saturday, we went to check out Lombard Street. Apparently, this street is ‘the most crooked street in the world,’ though I can’t tell you who came up with that title or if ‘crookedness’ is something that you can actually measure.

Anywho, Lombard Street is a super-crooked street that snakes left and right all the way down a huge hill in San Francisco. From the top, you have a reallllly insane view. The street is lined with flowers and cute little town homes ( that probably cost a pretty penny ). Warning though, this is a major tourist hub, but its worth it.

Lombard Street :: San Francisco

from Instagram: @ROAWildOne

Lombard Street :: San Francisco Lombard Street Town home: San Francisco After taking in the views & touristy sites of SF, I had to stop by Samovar Tea Lounge to try some of their famous tea and soak in the super-zen atmosphere. I have never been to a cafe specifically for tea ( usually, I’m a coffee girl ), but I’ve become really obsessed with specialty tea lately. So, I had to check it out. This place has a calming, hip-vibe.

I got the Green Ecstasy Tea ( << really good and earthy ) & my Dad ( who is a little less adventurous ) got the Tea Lemonade. We also shared the ‘Raw Honeycomb with Local Artisan Cheese, Homemade Crackers & Fresh Fruit‘ Plate. Gahhh, that raw honeycomb.. I could eat it all day. And cheese… duh.

Samovar Tea Lounge :: San Francisco Samovar Tea Lounge :: San Francisco Samovar Tea Lounge :: San Francisco Samovar Tea Lounge :: San Francisco Before I made my way to College Fashion Week, I had my hair blown out at the drybar ( Union Square Location ). I had never been to a drybar before, and I instantly fell in love. The salon is so clean & fresh, and I love the bar theme they have going. I sat back, sipped some fruit-infused water, and had someone else mess with my hair for a nice change.

I need to learn how to blow out my hair like they do… I mean, they are seriously skilled. I got the Mai Tai blowout: nice, messy waves. Also, I got roped into buying the Texas Tea hair volumizer spray, and I can’t say that I’m sad about it. It’s pretty good stuff.

The Drybar Experience :: ROAWO

from Instagram: @ROAWildOne

Mai Tai :: The Drybar Blowout Saturday Night, I went to Her Campus College Fashion Week. It was a night full of drinks (at the Origin Nightclub), makeup (by bareMinerals), hair-dos (by TRESemmé), and clothing (from Boohoo). The whole set up was so fun, and I got to meet some really cool people who are as interested in fashion as I am.

HerCampus: College Fashion Week: ROAWO

from Instagram: @ROAWildOne

Most girls ( & guys ) I met there work in publications ( blogs, college newspapers, etc. ), study fashion, or are just super interested in clothes & accessories, like me. I snagged some pictures from the HerCampus CFW Facebook page to show y’all how sweet the setup was.

HerCampus: College Fashion Week HerCampus: College Fashion Week HerCampus: College Fashion Week After the show, my Dad and I grabbed a late dinner at Waterfront in Fisherman’s Wharf. This place is on the water & a little pricier than the usual, but its worth the extra $$. It was a really relaxing spot to grab a nice glass of wine & enjoy some authentic, local seafood.

I went a little overboard and got: a 2006 Cab Franc from Napa ( zOMG ), Baked Oysters, Organic Greens Salad, Pan Roasted Sea Bass with Veggies, and some of their Lemon Cheesecake (zOMG times a million).

I can’t pass up an opportunity to indulge in some quality food-age. Also: the Italians that I know would look at me like I was crazy for this food and wine pairing.. but I couldn’t help it.

I seriously LOVE all that San Francisco has to offer, and I can’t wait to make many a trip back to discover more. For those of you who live in ( or just love ) San Francisco, what did I miss? I need to add some places to my future San Fran To-Do list.

Marble Stairs:: San Francisco Sidenote: How cool are these marble stairs?? Doorway of my dreams.

BTW: Have you entered the sweet giveaway I’ve got going on right now? Click here for details! 

Until tomorrow, ladiez.

P xx

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Redken Color Rebel at Austin City Limits ( Talk About A Perfect Pair !! )

Redken Color Rebel

Redken Color Rebel Have you ever had one of those days where everything ( I mean, everything ) just goes absolutely wrong? Well, that’s been my life since Sunday… and now its Tuesday and it just needs to STOP.

Yesterday, I was planning on putting this post up, and I woke up all excited about sharing my ACL experience & fun, colored hair with y’all. I went to open my computer… and…. it is completely dead. Like, wont-charge-or-turn-on dead. As a college student (and blogger, obviously), this is my worst nightmare coming to life. So, my poor little computer is being checked out by technicians for the next week.

This morning, so far, I have stepped in dog poop, spilled my green juice all over my kitchen / self, missed a class because my alarm was set for 9 PM, not AM… and I’ve only been awake for like an hour. Luckily, the school computer lab came in clutch this morning ( and Starbucks helped a little ).

Alright, I’ll shut up and get down to biz.

I spent my weekend jammin’ out at the Austin City Limits Festival. Eating, drinking, listening to some coooool tunes. Not too shabby. Here’s the low-down on ACL, through my eyes:

Pros:

∇ The Food: GoodPop Hibiscus Mint Popsicles are everything

∇ The Drank: There are five million bar areas ( + Juice places !! )

∇ Eminem, Lana, Jhené Aiko, Iggy, Calvin Harris, Zedd, etc. Are you serious with this lineup ( btw: Jhené Aiko is my new obsession… she is the most legit flower-child I’ve ever seen & her body is rockin’. Total Babe.)

Cons:

∇ Tweens. Everywhere.

∇ Ohhh my god, I hate crowds.

∇ Being 20 million miles away from all the performers (see above con)

∇ Probably coming very close to contracting Ebola… like, germ-city.

Redken Color Rebel + ACL The best part of Austin City Limits this year?? Picking out what to wear + my Redken Color Rebel Hair dye ( temporary, of course! ). This stuff is real-deal, easy AF, temporary hair color. I chose this bad-A hot pink for my ends at the festival. Obviously, it screams music festival ( keeping in mind for Coachella. k duh… )

I chose to join the campaign for this wonderful product because 1) I lurve Redken just in general and 2) I lurve changing my hair up with some cool color every so often, but I’m not daring enough to make it a permanent thing.

Redken Color Rebel + ACL

Redken Color Rebel + ACL Here’s the deal with Redken Color Rebel:

• The sponge-tip applicator makes it super easy to glide on to hair
• I had the best experience with coloring my hair when it was clean & dry, and then sealing the color by brushing through my hair & applying a little heat ( with my curling iron … But you could also just hit it with a blow dryer ).
• The color stays true for about two washes, then it’s done-zo.
• Redken makes a bazillion different colors of this stuff ( I have red and pink ), but I liked the pink best this weekend.

Redken Color Rebel + ACL Redken Color Rebel + ACL You can find alllll the details on Redken’s Color Rebel Campaign here. And follow Redken on social media too ::

» Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, & YouTube. «

[ Shop my look? || Ballin’ Tee || Flannel || Shorts || Fun, Festival Top (SOLD OUT), but Similar Here || Arm Cuff (SOLD OUT), but Similar Here ]

Welp, that’s all I have for y’all today! Is anyone else going Her Campus College Fashion Week in San Fran on Oct. 25?? I can’t wait! I need some San Francisco tips, so let my know below what your fav spots in the city are!

[ PS ]

Disclaimer: I am a part of the Redken Color Rebel Campaign because I love their products first and foremost. I do receive benefits (like samples) for being a part of their campaign, but that doesn’t sway my opinion on the product! I joined their campaign because I love the product (not the other way around)!

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Florence, Italy : The Food

Florence, Italy :: The Food [ See the full guide to Florence, Italy here ]

I’m sure you already know this, but Italian food is kind of amazing. Lets just state the obvious. The elephant in the room. During my summer abroad, my roommates and I ate out for pretty much every meal. Yes, it was expensive, but we never actually had time to go to the grocery store & prepare our own meals. Thats the thing about studying abroad in the summertime: there is SO much to do and SO little time.

I think its also important to note that dining is almost a religious experience in Italy. Another European thing that they just get. I am all about the dining experience ( the atmosphere, the people, the drinks, and obviously the food ), so eating was pretty much my favorite part of the trip. Italians often eat slowly, drink for the added flavor ( literally NO ONE drinks to get drunk… its a dead giveaway that you’re American, by the way ), & grab a cappuccino or espresso at the end of meals. So, give that whole process a try… but a warning: the wine in Italy is stronger & SO good… so slow sippin’ is probably a good idea.

Heres a little list of some of my favorite food spots in Florence, along with various things you just have to try:

Cheese & Wine :: Food in Florence, Italy 1. One Word. Cheese : You can get a yum-o little cheese plate at pretty much any restaurant in Florence. I freaking love cheese ( << sounds so strange to say for some reason ). But, who doesn’t? The mozzarella in Florence is literally to-die-for, because its usually made fresh.. like everything else. We could really take a hint from the Italians: Fresh is the BEST. Usually, a cheese plate will include some sliced meats, fruits, & balsamic / honey as well. Too. Damn. Good.

Cappuccino :: Florence, Italy 2. Cappuccino : This little glass of goodness was my BEST friend in Florence. Cappuccino was always there for me: for dessert ( sooooo Italian of me ), during a rough morning, before class, etc. Florentines ( is that a word? ) know their cappuccino, & I honestly think you can get a good cup of this stuff basically anywhere. They even do it To-Go ( which they call “Take Away,” not to-go ). Most Italians will drink theirs at the cafe, because ( like I said before ) they savor the whole experience when it comes to food and drink. Drinking a cappuccino or espresso is not something they do on the go, its something they do in conjunction with conversation / relaxation. So, slow down for a sec, learn some italian words from a barista or the Italian sitting next to you, and enjoy your capp, k?

Mercato Centrale :: Florence, Italy

source: instagram

3. Mercato Centrale : I got reeeeeal lucky because this amazing market was quite literally 20 steps from my apartment in Florence. At the very bottom floor of the Mercato Centrale is a huge underground-looking market with fresh fruit, veggies, pastas, meats, and other foods ( some of them very, very strange ). There’s also a little espresso / cappuccino counter where you can get the cheapest capp in town. Its a giant market and is open until around 2, so go early in the day. On the top floor is a collection of cafes / bars / restaurants with an assortment of food & drinks. This part is open pretty much all day. There is also a little store for cooking ingredients / supplies & wine. And theres a kitchen for cooking classes ( sooooo nice ). My friends learned to make Gnocchi in the kitchen at the Mercate Centrale. It is near the main train station in Florence, and a very necessary stop on your foodie tour.

Gelato :: Florence, Italy 4. Gelato : Okay, this one is obvious. Florence has a gelato shop on every corner, pretty much. My favorite was Gelateria Edoardo near the Duomo.  A little tip I learned is to generally stay away from the gelato near the tourist hubs ( the Duomo, big piazzas, etc ) , but this place was an exception. Generally, the cafes near tourist areas will be more expensive and less authentic. You see that huge pile of colorful gelato staring at you from the window of that highly-trafficked, touristy cafe? Stay. away. The real deal stuff isn’t that huge or colorful. The size / color is a ploy to attract tourists ( mainly us Americans whom are entranced by the “bright & shiny” things of the world ). The good stuff, I learned, is at the places that have their gelato covered in metal lids. Its a must to find your fav gelato place & become a regular ( this goes for cafes too ). You’ll feel like a local.

Astor :: Food in Florence The Diner :: Food in Florence The Diner :: Food in Florence 5. Astor & The Diner : Are you craving the greasy-goodness of American food? Welp, these two places will provide just that. After being in Florence for awhile, I just really, really needed a hamburger. At Astor, you can get a burger, fries, and a beer for super, super cheap. At The Diner, you can get those things, as well as an American-Style breakfast and much more. If we are being really honest here, none of it is as good as the real thing, but its good enough ( not to mention familiar enough ) to get you through a home-sick, I-need-a-huge-plate-of-grease lull. ( Please ignore the photo quality, iPhones aren’t exactly the most professional… )

6. Da Pinocchio : Okay, so this restaurant was in the same building as my apartment, so we frequented it a lot. One grrreat thing about living in this area was we got to know the owners and workers at this little place. They offer a great student discount ( alongside most other restaurants in Florence ) & great service. I recommend getting the Ravioli with Spinach & Truffle and a glass of the House Red Wine. The truffle in Florence is life-changing and the ravioli here is incredible ( most places will have this dish, actually ). We developed an early loyalty to Da Pinocchio, so I had to mention it. My Gluten-Intolerance was out of control in Florence, but this amaaaazing ravioli was so, so worth it. & Free Wifi lolz.

7. Mimi & Coco : This restaurant was also right next to my apartment, so we frequented it as well. Again, the Spinach & Truffle Ravioli & House Wine is my recommendation here. We became friends with the people who worked at Mimi & Coco as well. I think this restaurant is a little more well-known than Da Pinocchio, but its about the same quality. I loved this place because they would stay open a little later than usual just to feed us after a night out… they never turned us away & we were pretty annoying soo….

Gusta Pizza :: Florence, Italy 7. Gusta Pizza : This one is a must-have. I repeat, A MUST have. It is on the more local-ridden side of the river & the pizza is possibly the best in the city. Its a Firenze classic for study-abroaders. It is on every list of Florence food suggestions, so I had to add it to this one. Theres a reason for that too…. Its unbelievable. I am a lover of really, really thin pizza with delicate, melt-in-your-mouth flavor. This is Gusta Pizza in a nutshell. My friends claim that the Pesto Pizza is the absolute best. It isn’t on the menu, but they know what you’re talking about when you ask for it. I stick with the classic cheese usually ( yeah, I know I’m boring ) & it was no upset.

8. Veggy : As a juice fanatic, I frequented Veggy for their green juice. Florence doesn’t have many vegetarian / juice places, so this is a little gem. It may seem a little expensive, but I didn’t think it was too bad in comparison to most Juice places in the United States. They have all kinds of juices, salads and wraps. Its a nice light option in comparison to most of the other restaurants in Florence. AND the juice is HUGE ( major plus considering my juicing addiction ).

9. Fruit Stands : Another light, detox option is going to a fruit stand. There a couple strewn about Florence. The one I frequented was near the Duomo ( or I went into the Mercato Centrale ), but you can probably find another one close to your area if thats inconvenient. I luuuurve my fruit, so these little stands were heaven on wheels  ( or pegs or whatever ). Also, the fruit is pretty cheap. Overall a good choice for a little detoxifying snack.

10. Ristorante Messicano Tijuana : Are you a Texan or just overall badass who needs Mexican food to live? Well, heres your place. I didn’t get to try it, unfortunately, but my roommates ( who know their mex food ) said it was really good. Obviously, in Texas, we eat a lot of Tex-Mex, but this is real, quality, straight-up Mexican food. The exception is that they have queso, which I’m fairly certain is a Tex-mex thing. But seriously, they have queso, so you have to go this one.

11. Pino’s Sandwiches : This is another one I didn’t get the chance to try, but my roommates who stayed a little longer than me loved it ( as did most people I have talked to about food in Florence ). Its a classic little sandwich shop that is fairly infamous for their yum-o sammies. Its a quick & easy place to stop by if you have a busy day. Or if you don’t. Whatever.

So, I’m not really sure why my lists always end at super random and awkward numbers… it is a painful thing for the perfectionist side of me to look at. Stay tuned for some more Florence tips & helpful info !! Also, don’t forget to check out the entire guide to Firenze here!

Now, its your turn. What is your favorite Florence, Italy food spot? What did I miss?

[ PS ]



Summer in Florence :: 2 Cents From My 3 Weeks

All-Inclusive Guide to Florence, Italy

( Past Post on Florence Here )

Florence, Italy. I mean, it really is the perfect city to study abroad in ( esp if its your first time in Italy ). Its relatively small & the city is filled with students, so there is always something going on. Trust me, I lived in a ( weirdly huge ) apartment near the Mercato Centrale ( <<< I’ll cover this later ) this summer while studying Event Planning ( yeah, reaaaaal serious ) at Lorenzo de’Medici, and it seemed like the streets were NEVER quiet. Which is exciting, and somewhat annoying, but mostly exciting.

Before I got to Italy, I consulted TONS of blogs / people about all the things I had to see / eat / do / etc, ( okay, so sometimes I’m a little over-prepared ) and it was super helpful to have an idea of the city before I got there. Its a pretty small city, but its over-flowing with culture / interesting people / good restaurants & bars / etc, so your to-do list might get a little overwhelming. ( BTW :: Girl in Florence is a GREAT reference for anyone who is planning on studying / visiting the city ). For me, three weeks was not enough to see everything I wanted to … so, I guess that means I’ll just have to go back soon ( fine by me ).

One of my good friends is studying there this fall, and I promised her that I would make her a little list of all my favorite spots in the city ( & weekend trips !! ). So, why not share it with the rest of the world? If I can help anyone else have a bomb-azz time in Florence, I’m a happy girl. Instead of making one longgggg, drawn-out post, I’ll split it up into:

1. 2 Cents From My 3 Weeks :: random tips / helpful stuff to maximize your amazing experience & have enough money to do everything you want << This Post

2. Food in Florence :: Omg, You’ll die.

3. Weekend Trips You Gotta Take

4. Night Out On the Town :: The Best Bars / Clubs

5. Shopping :: The Best Leather store in town & more!

6. A fun little Compilation Video of my time in Italy / France / Monaco !! ( Go – Pro is a must-bring )

So, Here goes some stuff you need to know to help you : 1) stay afloat monetarily ( nearly, impossible.. FYI ), 2) know what to expect.. its not all butterflies & rainbows ( you’ll miss some things about the US ), 3) get around town, 4) Etc. Etc. Etc.

Florence, Italy :: My 2 Cents on my 3 weeks :: Ramblings of a Wild One

Tipity-Tips ( in no particular order ):

1. Cash is your BFF. Because of international transfer charges, using your credit card ( most cards, at least ) is more expensive overseas because you are charged extra. Florence is an expensive city already, so you don’t wanna waste money because you’re too lazy to hit up the ATM.

2. Exchange your money at a bank / post office for the best exchange rates. I had to exchange my American money right when I got off the plane in the airport, and they rip you off big time. Convenient but brutal. So, either get a handful of euros from your bank before you leave ( good idea ), or find a bank or post-office in Florence to exchange your dolla-dolla-bills. Bringing a good amount of cash with you & limiting your trips to the ATM ( get more money out than you think you need ) will save you money on ATM fees as well.

3. Before you go, at least try to learn a few Italian phrases. Only one of my friends did this, so we found ourselves leaning heavily on her for vocabulary. A lot of people speak English, but you’ll run into your fair share who don’t. And its frustrating. So, learn some simple phrases before you go; it’ll help you out A LOT. Plus, You get major brownie-points with Italians when you at least TRY to speak / respect their language. Don’t just expect them to speak English… apparently it can be considered rude. ( Mostly what happens :: you try to speak Italian and they look at you like “oh, what a cute little American” and then they will turn to English because they don’t want to have to hear you butcher another Italian word )

4. Also:: Before you go, Plan ahead for any medication you take ( sometimes you can’t get the same meds over there ) & make copies of all your prescriptions. Its just a good idea to have copies of these for proof that you got your meds from a real doctor and not illegally. I left some medication on the plane on the way to Florence, and I was able to tell a doctor there exactly what it was / how much I needed / etc. Very handy if you lose everything, all the time ( me ).

5. Wifi. Wifi. Wifi. So, if you aren’t planning on spending a bijillion dollars on an international plan, wifi is your best bet. Most restaurants / bars have wifi for customers ( they give you the password when you order ). This is basically how I stayed connected with the world.. thank God for iMessage.

6. Save money on dinner :: Aperitivo. This will save your life. Food can be kind of expensive in Florence / Italy in general, so we went out for aperitivo around dinner time most nights. Basically, around dinner, restaurants have a time where you can order a drink or two, and get access to a yum-o little buffet ( which differs slightly from place to place :: find my favorite places in a post soon-to-come ). This is what they call “Aperitivo.” So, its free food with the drinks you are obviously going to buy ( its Italy, live a little )… AND you can go back to the buffet as much as you want. What could be better?

7. While on the subject, when ordering wine at a restaurant / bar ( which you have to do ), ask for the House Red / White. First of all, its usually reaaaal cheap. Also, it is SO much better. Italians take pride in their locally-made stuff ( ex: truffle oil, olive oil, wine, etc <<< gotta try it all ), and with good-freaking-reason. Its amazing.. as most locally-grown / fresh stuffz is. Also, you’d be surprised how many things that we add to food / drinks in the US are actually illegal to put in food / drinks in Italy ( & the rest of Europe :: article here ). Yeah, gross. Local is a huge thumbs up.

8. Citronella Candles are your other BFF during a summer in Florence. Those bugs will eat you alive.

 Things to Prepare For / What You’ll Miss About Home

1. Free Water :: Florence is pretty toasty in the summer time, and as an American, you’ll want COLD, ICE WATER, because thats what we’re used to. Nope. First of all, water usually costs money, and they bring your whole table a tiny little wine-sized bottle of lukewarm water… seriously. They don’t do ice. People who have told you that sometimes “water costs more than wine” are NOT lying. BUT, you can order tap water at a lot of places for free, so I highly advise that. Considering the amount of wine you’ll probably be drinking, you are going to be feigning for some cold h20 in the morning, so going to a cheap little store and grabbing a huge water bottle MULTIPLE times a day is perfectly the norm. You’ll look obviously American, but oh well, stay hydrated my friends.

2. Air conditioning :: Also, as an American ( living in the most consumption-crazy country that ever existed ), we expect AC in the summer ( or always, if you’re from Texas like me ). Also nope. They aren’t really into the whole air conditioning idea. So, expect to be a tad sweaty, and plan your clothes accordingly. Hey, its Europe, people kinda smell… at least you’ll blend in with the locals. Its a culture thing.

3. Huge, greasy plates of food :: Europeans are in good shape.. I mean, really. More than half of the girls in Italy look like they could be high-fashion models. Besides walking a lot, they eat smaller portions of food. Obviously, the United States is kinda known for fatties ( its a fact ) & our fatty-fat portions of food & our fatty-fat hamburgers, fried chicken, & french fries ( <<< BTW: when you miss the salty-goodness of fries, you can always hit up McDonalds or The Diner… sounds gross, but sometimes you miss all that greasy goodness ). Hungover me missed being able to go grab some chips & queso, fried chicken, b-fast tacos, or whatever other nasty thing I end up convincing myself I need in the morning.

4. Not being confused :: You’ve never really been lost until you’re lost in a Foreign Country.

5. Driving :: Oh my god, I missed driving on big, US roads. We took the train most of the time. Its cheap & convenient, but not the cleanest or most organized system in the world. I missed my car.

6. Cleanliness :: Alright, Florence is a pretty clean city, but its still a City. It gets a little messy at times ( even though they clean the streets completely at night … which I heard from my bedroom every. damn. night. ) Also, Europeans aren’t as germ-a-phobic as we are in the US, and they definitely don’t shower as much. I can see how that is a wonderful & freeing way to live, but I’ve been conditioned otherwise.. I can’t help it. So, be prepared for that.

7. A LOT less Cat Calling / Annoying Street Vendors :: So, you know when you’re walking in the mall and those annoying kiosk vendors bombard your life to ask if you want your hair curled or if you want to try some dead-sea scrub / lotion? Yeah, no thanks. Its awkward & invasive & annoying. Florence street vendors are 10x worse. Basically, you just have to ignore them. Its not rude to do that there, so don’t worry. Also, when those old men yell creepily at you from the bar patio… do as the Italian women do & ignore, ignore, ignore.

8. Large & open spaces :: Everything is smaller in Florence. Cars, streets, rooms, people ( I noticed people are generally shorter / skinnier ), portions of food, etc. Its quaint, but sometimes got a little too claustrophobic for me. I mean, HOW DO THEY DRIVE ON THOSE ROADS WITHOUT DYING??

9. Obviously, I missed my family / friends / my dog. Duh.

10. Did I say AC? Good God.

Now, don’t let all the little things you’ll miss distract you. I’m just warning you, so you can know you AREN’T alone & that you’ll live without all of these things. So, soak up the culture, buy a mini fan, keep some ice in your fridge, & get over it.

Read my other posts on Florence here !!

Until nexxxxxt time, k?

[ PS ]



Durango, CO :: Part II

Durango part 2 Here’s a lil’ recap of my last few days in Durango:: ( If you didn’t see Part I of my Durango adventures, check it out here )

So, my family is extremely into sports/being active ( those of you who know me are thinking… duh ), so we always enjoy getting outside and getting a little workout in. Durango has some really pretty hiking trails, so we decided to go for it.

fruit and granola fitfam hike wildflowers IMG_6452 IMG_6416 The hike took us about 2 hours to finish. There wasn’t an inch of the land that wasn’t absolutely beautiful AND the air was sooo crisp and clean.. I love it. My little brother was even able to finish the hike ( props on being a strong leetle kid, Brooks ), but I can’t say that he did it without complaints.

After our hike, we ate at Kennebec Cafe. We got the charcuterie plate to start ( << freakin’ delish ) and I got the Grilled Top Sirloin with mashed potatoes ( << I could live off of mashed potates ) and spinach. Mine was the table favorite, per usual. I have quite the knack for ordering.

pint cup ALSO: this Hubert’s Lemonade was a good little find at the grocery store in Durango. Its all-natural ( they also have organic ) and soooo tart, which is exactly how I like my lemonade. It tastes super natural and clean.. no nasties. And its cute-looking. Oh, and I snatched this awesome pint glass from Earthbound Trading Co for like $2.. I luv.

I have been so spoiled this week and a half with perfect weather in California + Colorado… I’m dreading getting off the plane in Texas to a cloud of humidity. I LOVE the crap outta Texas, but the weather isn’t the most amazing thing ever.

‘Till next time.

[ PS ]



Durango, CO

Durango, CO :: As told by ROAWO I am SO in love with Colorado in the summer, it’s unreal. Its the perfect temp and not humid at all ( esp for someone coming from Texas.. hot and humid is pretty much the norm ). The cherry on top of this little getaway was our new house in Durango. Seriously, the perfect mountain home… I’m such a lucky gal !! Here’s my favorite stuffz about the house ::

Durango, CO :: As told by ROAWO IMG_6109 DurangoLeather IMG_6112 IMG_6218 The town of Durango is the cutest little town I’ve ever seen.  Its a little hippie town ( probably why my grandma loves it so much.. she’s a little bit of a tree-hugger ) with a large Native-American presence. There is an endless amount of amazing restaurants that provide yummy meals made from organic and locally grown ingredients ( << they’re real big on that in CO ). In the evening, most bars/restaurants have live music and options to have a drink/relax or dance.

Also, Durango hosts SO MANY places to shop for gypsy/Native American-esque jewelry, leather, home decor, etc (some of my jewelry bought from Durango can be seen here). My favorite.

Here’s some highlights from the first few days in CO::

IMG_6088 IMG_6191 My favorite coffe-spot in town:: The Steaming Bean Coffee Co.. the lady who works there is such a badass too.. its a must-go.

Granola_Latte IMG_6201 IMG_6248 The train that goes from Durango to the town of Silverton is something you gotta do at least once. We rode in the Silver Vista train car, and it was so worth the money to sit first-class. The car was glass-roofed and open on the sides so we could see EVERYTHING.. which is what you want because the views are absolutely incredible.

Seriously, though. Amazing. The railroad also offers special wine tasting experiences and a bunch of free stuff when you sit first class, SO its worth it. A 3 hour train-ride is really only enjoyable with some snack/drank action going on.

IMG_6291 IMG_6386 Colorado in the summer = flowers galore. The town is COVERED in them and they are all bright and perfect and beautiful.

IMG_6387 Also a must-go:: The Durango Juice Bar. I got the Daily Greens Juice ( spinach, parsley, kale, celery, cucumber, green apple, & lemon ) with a wheatgrass shot pretty much every day. The sunflower seeds are grrreat too. My 9-year-old brother liked the green juice here.. so obviously, its freakin’ good.

A couple other places we ate in the first few days that I recommend are::

Eolus:: really good organic food and tons of gluten-free options ( and sushi )! I got the chopped salad and we all split the flourless chocolate cake, the creme brûlée, and the gluten-free beignets w/ lemon custard sauce. My family goes really hard in the desert arena… as you can tell. Also, Eolus has live music most nights on the roof in the summer.. its a really cool spot.

Christina’s Mexican Grill & Bar:: the most amazing mexican food! I mean, we have GREAT mex food in Texas, but this place competes with some of the best Mexican food I’ve ever had. I got this amazing Pollo Asado with beans and rice on the side ( we all decided mine was everyone’s fav ). They serve some AMAZE breakfast too.

Find Part II of the trip here!

IMG_6139 [ PS ]

 

 



Quick California Trip: Instagood

Not long after returning home to the US of A, I was (already) packing my bags for San Diego / Orange County, Calif. No whining for me, though, considering California is basically my second favorite place on Earth (behind Texas, of course). Here’s my SD / OC adventures via Instagram ::

[ Del Mar / Encinitas / Carlsbad ]

Okay, so the first two aren’t from Instagram. They were taken by a cute old man photographer who was taking pics on the beach while I was watching my boi surf.. I made friends with him, naturally. I love seeing people who are so in love with what they do.. And he certainly was.

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I love the chill-vibe San Diego has going on. It feels so much cleaner than LA… And much slower-paced. Huge difference.

[ Newport / Huntington ]

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ZZOMG:: I love Lemonade. I always make it a point to swing by this place for a little somethin’ when I can. It’s a healthy lunch spot but the portions are freeaking gigantic, so make sure your eyes aren’t bigger than your stomach. This time I got Citrus-Poached Salmon, Israeli Truffle Couscous, Brussels Sprouts ( yum ), and Cucumber Mint Lemonade.

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My beach necessities :: A book ( this time it was Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn… I’m only halfway through so more to come on that ), sunnies, food ( duh.. Acai bowl ), and H2O because I’m a water-fiend.

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Casey’s Cupcakes in The Fashion Island shopping center :: First of all, this chickadee WON Cupcake Wars on Food Network. Second of all, Casey’s offers gluten-free and vegan options, specialty cupcakes, online ordering AND you can purchase cupcake mix online ( ballin’ ). & Third of all, she’s a major HOTTIE. Like, really a babe. Make sure to visit Casey’s Cupcakes when you’re in the area. PS : There are 3 locations, so visit the website ( linked above ) to see which one is closest to you… And then get there ASAP.

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The US Open of Surfing was… An interesting experience. We weren’t there very long, but I honestly felt slightly out of place surrounded by a sea of Tweens with “FREE HUGS” written across their tween-y chests / stomachs. You wouldn’t believe how many awkward brace-faced, coed, oddly-flirtatious selfies I witnessed whilst roaming around the beach. So, I noticed it was run mainly by a younger crowd BUT it was also a people-watching haven… So I had a good time. We were a little late to see any actual surfing, which was a bummer, but there’s always next year.

Now onto Durango, Colorado.

[ PS ]



Monte Carlo, Monaco : A Weekend Living the High Life

So, its basically been years since I’ve been able to make it to a computer (with wifi) and post something on this ish. Since my last post (like, a week and a half ago), I’ve been in Monte Carlo, Monaco –> Florence, Italy –> Frankfurt, Germany –> Chicago, IL –> Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas –> San Diego, CA –> Newport, CA. So, Lord help me. I should be sick of traveling by now. Anyways…

Monte Carlo, Monaco

SO, more importantly: Monte Carlo, Monaco.

We stayed at the Fairmont Monte Carlo, and I STRONGLY recommend this hotel. It’s huge. It’s clean… something I rarely came across in Florence. It’s luxurious. There is a rooftop pool and room service. That’s all ya need. Also, the staff was incredibly helpful when it came to locating my purse at a nightclub in Nice, France.. they basically made miracles happen [see explanation here]. Honestly, we rarely left the hotel in Monte Carlo… oops.

On our first day, we arrived in a cab from Nice. The hotel gave us pool passes to use until our check-in time [clutch city, Fairmont]. The pool is on the rooftop of the hotel, so you have a 360 degree view of Monte Carlo [the ocean and all]. This city is basically made of gold.. or at least, all the yachts are. Also, the Rosé in the riviera is the best in the world.. really.

Monte Carlo, Monaco On your next trip to Monaco, you have to eat on the roof of the Fairmont at the Horizon Deck Restaurant & Champagne Bar. Luckily for us, the night we chose to eat here the annual fireworks show was going on, which meant BUFFET time on the Horizon Deck. Aka: endless gourmet food, dessert, champagne, wine, etc, etc, etc. Did I mention the rosé?

Monte Carlo, Monaco The Fairmont also offers Nobu, Nobu Nights [by the pool, on the roof, after hours], and a bar overlooking the ocean filled with luxury yachts [Saphir 24.. open 24 hours obviously]. Saphir 24 has some of the best hand-crafted cocktails that I’ve ever had. Personally, my fav was their cranberry cucumber mojito.. so refreshing. But the whole cocktail list is to-die-for.  The Fairmont Monte Carlo The Fairmont Monte Carlo Nobu Nights, Monte Carlo When we actually left the hotel [a rare happening], we went the the Oceanography Museum of Monaco and to the Prince’s Palace [where we weren’t allowed to snap da pics]. The oceanography museum was my favorite of the two.. my favorite were these little guys:

Oceanographic Museum, Monte Carlo, Monaco Oceanographic Museum, Monte Carlo, Monaco Monaco also offered the best crepes of the trip, thus far. The crepes were actually made the CORRECT way, so they were more chewy than the ones made in the US. I got an egg and cheese crepe-aroni [you can find crepe stands everywhere].

Crepe in Monte Carlo, Monaco So, unfortunately, this is where my trip to Europe ends. I’ve decided to go hang with my family [because I get so little time with them] in California and Colorado for the rest of my summer.. only because I’ve been promised another trip to Europe in the near future. And California is basically my favorite place on Earth.

More summary to come on my study adventures in Florence, Italy. Don’t forget to follow me on instagram for more ramblings!

xx

[PS]

 

 



Nice, France

Considering I have been studying the French language for 9 years now, I was SO PUMPED to finally be able to practice the language with some real french peeps. Also, getting away to the South of France is the perfect end to our super-difficult study-abroad week [lol, jokes jokes].

The French Riviera We stayed at the HI Hotel Eco Spa & Beach during our trip to Nice. We were there for two nights, but, wow, did this little beach town really get the best of us. We indulged in some great food, a lot of sun, and some really great drinks…. but the hotel was less-than-pleased that my good vegetarian friend decided to chunk a hamburger out of the window at 3 AM.. perhaps she was taking a late night stand against the meat industry? Who knows. However, the beach that the HI Hotel provided was parfait for our bronzing, eating, sipping and people watching.

The French Riviera

wearing Victoria’s Secret swimsuit [similar here bc I can’t find it online]

The French Riviera My favorite little breakfast spot was a place called Le Cocodile on the Promenade des Anglais. We ate brunch here both mornings… the omelets kept us comin’ back for more. Also, the prices weren’t absolutely ridiculous, so thats an extremely lucky find in the area. We got to look at perfect blue water, eats omelets seasoned to perfection and sip cappuccino. Life is hard… I know.

Le Cocodile, Nice, France The French Riviera As far as nightlife goes, the only club we went to was the High Club on the main street, the Promenade des Anglais [this street runs down the whole coast in town pretty much]. The atmosphere was really really freaking cool, because there were 3 separate “clubs” within High club, each with it’s own vibe. Sadly, I entered the club with a huge purse and exited sans purse, so that was a little bit of a buzzkill. BUT fortunately, the hotel’s guest services at our next stop [ Monte Carlo, Monaco ] frantically contacted the club’s owner and bugged him enough, and after many e-mails and phone calls, I have all my stuff back! The people at the High Club were extremely accommodating, offered wonderful service and helped return my stuff [including ALL my credit cards, cash, camera, phone, etc]. Thats a pretty good deal.

The High Club, Nice, France

spotted: purse before it was gone (almost) forever. Wearing Zara in-store.. not available online.

The High Club, Nice, France I got VERY lucky in Nice, and now on to Monte Carlo, Monaco [ maybe my luck will follow me into the casino? ] … and I couldn’t be more thrilled. Merci de lire mes divagations, mes amis!

PS: A few more pics because I just can’t help myself…

Mon petit chien

how. cute. leetle french dog.

The French Riviera The French Riviera { PS }

 

 

 

 



Day Trip to Lucca, Tuscany, Italy

Lucca, Tuscany Lucca, Tuscany

Yesterday we took a little day-trip to a small town in Tuscany called Lucca. It was about an hour and a half train-ride from Florence [well, more if you count the amount of time we were STOPPED due to bad weather… good thing we brought a couple of bottles of wine on board]. This charming little town had so much more to offer than I expected.

After we rented some cute city bikes, it didn’t take us long to find a quaint spot for lunch: a restaurant called Stella Polare. After a couple of glasses of the house white [tippity tip: ordering the “house” wine in italian restaurants is a bargain AND usually the most tasty] and a TON of bread [also: bread is not free… they literally put it in front of you and you choose to eat it or not…. what the hell kind of mind game is that??], I ordered a piece of salmon with veggies [pretty much my first vegetable of the trip, so sad]. Though mine was deeeeelish, my roommate, Abbey’s, ravioli looked far more yum.

Stella Polare in Lucca, Tuscany PS: Those little yellow-ish bread ballz are called “Pasta Fritta,” which means fried pasta… essentially. Obviously, so amazing. Beyond what words can describe.

Stella Polare in Lucca, Tuscany Stella Polare in Lucca, Tuscany Then, my friend Megan insisted that we ride to the Torre Guinigi to check out the view from the top of the tower. After busting our booty-regions to climb the bagillion stairs to the top, we overlooked the city from a small garden on the roof of the torre [aka: tower]. I was hesitant at first, but the leetle climb was worth it to witness a 360-degree view of Lucca and the surrounding Tuscan mountains.

Lucca, Tuscany

Wearing: All Things Fabulous Top and PUBLIK Shorts

Lucca, Tuscany Though we are not the most agile and experienced bicycle operators [I speak mainly for myself], we managed to make it through this little town’s streets and park [Passeggiata delle Mura] without hitting anyone/any cars and without wiping out completely. That might’ve been a buzz-kill.

Lucca, Tuscany Lucca, Tuscany Lucca, Tuscany After all of this super hard work [my life is so difficult, I know], we stopped at a local wine shop… you have to stay hydrated, amiright?? What I loved most about this town is the emphasis on local ingredients in food, local olive oil, wine, and more. It has a very authentic feel, much the opposite of the feel we have in the States. Nothing looks processed or just digusto.

Lucca, Tuscany Lucca, Tuscany Overall, I’d say the trip was a success. It was nice to get out of the hustle and bustle of Florence for a little bit. Uhhh also PS: Lucca Hosts a Summer Music Festival that is going on right now. And the BACKSTREET BOYS will be performing on the 24th of this month. As a majorly loyal NSYNC* fan, it pains me to say… but I really need to see the B-Boys in concert at least once in my life, right? It would be a fun little blast from the past.

N E ways, more to come my leetle freakshows [aka: my mom and grandma because those are my blog readers]. Sorry if I’m embarrassing you via the internet, momz.

Want more Euro adventures? Read the dirty deets on Florence, Monte Carlo, & Nice!

[PS]