Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Monte-Carlo Life

Next stop was Monaco, a principality located on the French Riviera. Monaco is governed by a constitutional monarchy and as I am sure many of you would know this is where  Grace Kelly of Monaco, a true fashion icon moved to marry her prince.  I chose to travel to Monte Carlo which is the largest quarter of Monaco because it is where most of the action happens. We rented a hotel room at Port de Fontvieille, which was a little out of the way from the beaches and shops, but was beautifully secluded and still central.

 The first day we arrived my friend and I went straight to the beach! This was after we had finished our courses at LCF so we were ready for a break and deserved one. The beaches in Monaco aren’t your typical white sandy areas to layout and enjoy the water at. Actually, the sand is made out of shells and most people chose to rent beach chairs instead of building sand castles and laying out on a towel. My friend and I started this habit of falling asleep on the beach back in Ibiza and Monaco was no different. As soon as we rented a chair we passed out and we could only hope that we put on sunscreen before. Late on, a friend met us on the beach because he too was on vacation and his father lives there year round. Usually this is the type of living situation in Monaco is common, a family owns a home that they live at part of the year mostly because in this principality you do not have to pay taxes.

Anyway, we had the luxury of having my friend take us around Monaco by night, which is stunning, the entire city lights up. We walked around by the casino which is another iconic landmark where many movies had been filmed and ate lots of gelato. The next day we spent at the beach some more and then walked around town. Monaco is also known for their shopping which we planned on doing some of, but decided to opt out of it because the cheapest thing you could buy was a key chain from Louis Vuitton. This principality is known for luxury, almost everyone that lives there owns a yacht and enjoys the high-class lifestyle, it is in their upbringing. Therefore, this was interesting to see and experience for a few short days at least!

Beautiful Ibiza

The next trip that was on my best friend's and I’s radar was to make it to the Spanish island Ibiza. I have been hearing about all the great DJs/parties that take place on this island for years now and I was determined to get myself on a plane to go. One of my good family friends from actually lived there for about three years previously and happened to be going the same weekend as we were, which was nice because we had someone to show us around.

            The plane ride to Ibiza was on for the books; we were on Ryan Air which is one of the less expensive airlines so there were lots of students on board. Once we took off the duty free alcohol bottles were taken out from under the seats and passed around- the party had already begun! I have never in my life seen so many young kids on a plane, the energy was really young wild and free. Once we landed and stepped outside I knew right away I was in Spain, the warm weather, smell of the sea, and Spanish-speaking people engulfed me.

            Ibiza is interesting because a majority of the island operates on touristic attractions, which just so happens to be the music industry. For example, when we were driving out of the airport there were countless signs for David Guetta, Tiesto, and Avicci concerts going on. That weekend we enjoyed a lot of techno from the day parties, birthdays, and music festivals it was the true Ibiza experience.

            To be quite honest though, it was not the nightlife that made this one of my favorite trips in Europe thus far, it was the land itself. The beaches were absolutely incredible, especially in the northwest part of the island. I was blow away by the massive cliffs and coves that sat nicely next to the beautiful Mediterranean Sea. We rented a car so it would be easier for us to explore the land, and it was one of the best things we could have done. Because we drove through some smaller villages, ate at organic restaurants on top of cliffs, and the saw the old town. Words can’t describe how much I fell in love, so hopefully these pictures will.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Berlin: World Cup Final

My mission this summer was the travel and see as much as I could. I considered London my home base and was eager to explore places outside. One of the first trips I planned was to go to Berlin, this was in July right right in the middle of the World Cup games. England had been out for a while now and the final between Argentina and Germany was scheduled on the same weekend I would be in Germany. This was not planned, but it worked out in our favor since everyone knows Germany won! 

Anyway, I will never forget this time in Germany, it was truly a once in a lifetime experience! Not only did I enjoy being in the city of Berlin, but even more so I enjoyed the activities that were all around me. There was this energy in the air that produced an excitement among the people and everyone was simply passionate about life, it was written all over their faces. I chose to watch the game at a beer garden called Prater Park, my friends and I came there early and ate some German food while waiting for the game to start. Unfortunately, that day it was raining so we had to find coverage under the tent. There was a big screen in the tent and everyone was huddled together to cheer on their homeland. I have a lot of German friends but it was still very intriguing for me to observe the people in their element. The game was exciting and what came afterwards was even more. The entire city went crazy, they unglued themselves from the televisions and started celebrating in the streets. It was wild, there were fireworks going on, chanting, and riots. My friends and I stayed on the streets and celebrated till sunrise, it was truly a unique experience. In conclusion, German fan or not a German fan, this day marked history!

WHO'S NEXT?: Paris Trade Show

When I was in Paris with LCF, we were given an opportunity from one of our professors to attend a trade show. The professor had a few extra tickets because she and her PR firm were attending it that weekend, so I was eager to make sure I got one of the spares. This was my first trade show experience and I was thrilled to go! The trade show was called WHO’S NEXT? and it was located right outside Paris. A few of my classmates and I arrived to the grounds and were surprised to see that it was a massive production, there were 3 huge conference buildings that made up the show. I never really realized how much effort it took to put all of this together. There are many trade shows that go on in Paris every buying season and this was one of the biggest. Each building has a designated product category (accessories, handbags, pret-a-porter, etc.) and within each of these building are hundreds of designers showcasing their new products in kiosk type displays.

We started in the accessories department and ran into our professor who was with her designers, it was exciting to see her in her element and she showed us some of her designer’s jewelry. I also ran into a kiosk that displayed cuffs with transit maps on, I immediately recognized the brand and remembered that when I worked with the online d&mShop we sourced Drexel campus cuffs from this brand. I started conversation with the employee at the booth and she was happy to hear that I had some background knowledge of the brand and mentioned that Drexel was the first and only university that they had collaborated with. It is instances like this that make you realize what a small world we live in.

Anyway, the rest of the tradeshow was awesome, I really enjoyed walking around and observing not only the products but the people. There were SO many people and everyone seemed to be on a schedule; everyone there meant business! It was well worthwhile my time!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Farewell London

Tomorrow is my last day in London and I am feeling very conflicted. It seemed like three months just flew by, but then looking back, I have done so much. My first days in London seemed like so long ago, but I still cannot believe that I am leaving London in two days.  I still remember being accepted into the London College of Fashion study abroad program and being concerned about the financial burden. I was also nervous about leaving the country on my own for the first time.

I would say that aside from academic gains, I feel like I grew so much as a person. I am now even more independent than I already was, and I feel that I became a braver person. Being outside of my home country really opened my eyes to the world. In addition, learning from London College of Fashion tutors really opened my eyes to the global fashion industry. I have always wanted to work internationally, and traveling by myself reassured my passion to travel for my career.  
This London study abroad program will be held in a special place in my heart. I will never forget this experience and how it made me grow as a person. I am so glad I decided to study abroad despite my financial concerns. I honestly think that the financial cost of my study abroad experience is worth it because it has shaped me as a person, which will aid to my future career.

Fine Dining and Nice Views

Coming from a very picker eater, here are my some restaurants in London that I had no complaints about. My first dinner in London was at Wahaca at South Bank. This Mexican restaurant has amazing pulled pork tacos and pretty much anything on its menu sounds delicious. I am very particular about Mexican food and I assure that Wahaca’s Mexican cuisine is very delicious.  Not only was the food amazing, but also the view of the London Eye from the restaurant was also amazing. The price point for Wahaca is reasonable and it is a perfect place for a nice dinner on the weekends.

One of my other favorite restaurants in London is Burger and Lobster. This restaurant only has three items on its menu all costing the same, twenty pounds each.  The options are: a burger, a whole lobster, or a lobster roll. My personal favorite is the whole lobster, however if you do not want to be messy than I suggest the lobster roll, which is just as delicious.

Moving on to fine dining, I strongly suggest Duck and Waffle at Heron Tower. This is officially my favorite restaurant in London. It is open twenty-four hours and seven days a week, but it is evident to make a reservation ahead of time. My reservation for Duck and Waffle was late at night and I enjoyed a beautiful night view of the city. I ordered the duck and waffle dish and it left me speechless. It was probably the best meal I have ever had along with a breathtaking view, it was the perfect meal.

As my London trip is coming to an end, yesterday my friends and I had dinner at the Oblix at the Shard. Like Duck and Waffle, the food is pricey since it is fine dinning, but it is worth the experience. My favorite dish from Oblix is the Smoked Salmon Flat Bread with Cream Cheese and Chives; for my main course I had the Grilled Dover Sole. Oblix is a very high-class restaurant and dinning there made me feel like I was a billionaire (but I also did spend a fortune on my meal). Nonetheless, the view and the experience were well worth it. I know for sure I am going to miss my favorite restaurants when I leave London.

London Pride Parade

I have never been to a Pride Parade before, I was made aware that the London Pride Parade was approaching and I decided it would be fun to attend my first Pride Parade in London. On the day of the parade it was raining really hard so I thought not that many people would attend; to my surprise the streets were filled. Community organizations, campaigners, charities, police academies and individuals participated in the parade. 

The parade was so colorful and lively and the crowd was enthusiastic and cheerful.  I think the rain emphasized the support of the audience for the occasion. I was touched by the smiles on the faces of people as they marched the parade; it was their moment to shine. They all loved the attention and loved stopping for pictures. 

Many of them dressed in exotic colorful costumes, some as famous people. I captured pictures of princesses, Princess Diana and Queen Elizabeth.  When the parade was ending I tried to exit with my friends and somehow ended up walking in the parade! The parade was so fun to attend; I will always remember my first Pride Parade was in London.