Friday, July 3, 2015

Heatwave

It's been horribly hot in London this past week. It got up to 95 degrees one day! It's terrible because we have no AC in our flat so it has been extremely hot in our flat. Most buildings, restaurants and even some of our classrooms in London don't have AC either. It's been absolutely dreadful sleeping at night because all we have is a fan. Luckily, today wasn't too hot and the forecast says the temperature should go down this weekend. Besides from the heat, I've been doing a ton of sightseeing. One day we went to Borough Market, which is an amazing food market. There are so many options that you don't know what to choose from so you've just got to try it all. There are tons of free samples! We must have tried 20 different types of cheeses. For my main meal I got the best grilled cheese I've ever had! It was gooey, crunchy and absolutely delicious! I also got an oyster from a fish market because it reminded me of my summers eating oysters in Nantucket, Massachusetts. There were so many options that it was difficult to choose what I wanted for my main meal, so I'm definitely going to go back.

After Borough Market, we walked to London Bridge and the Tower of London. Overlooking the Tower of London is a bar and cafe called, London Riviera. We got a fruity and refreshing cocktail and relaxed by the Tower of London. Across the water is The Globe Theater, which I haven't been to yet but plan on going to in the future. After our drinks, we walked on Tower of London and went over to the other side of the bridge and walked around the area.



That night my friend Madison, who is interning in Paris, came for the weekend. That night we went to the tallest building in London called, The Shard. The Shard is an 87-story all glass skyscraper. Madison and I went to the Aqua Shard, which is a bar and restaurant on the 32 floor. It's an absolutely spectacular view! You see all of London. Many people we've met on our trip that live in London say it's a better view than The London Eye. The Shard is expensive but definitely worth it for the view! Madison and I had a cocktail at the bar and chatted while looking out at the amazing view. My family is coming this weekend so I'm excited to take them to The Shard. My Mom is afraid of height so I don't think she'll love it but I know my Dad and my brother will thinks it's awesome. I'm excited for my family to visit and to explore London with them!






New Beginnings

These first two weeks in London have been a whirlwind. From getting used to a new city and public transportation system to new classes and teachers, there have been so many changes it’s hard to know what to focus on. One of my favorite parts of getting to know London has been exploring the area that we live in. Our apartment, or flat as it is called here, is in South Kensington just a short walk from Kensington Palace and Hyde Park. It is a great area of the city with a lot of different restaurants and shops. We are also really close to the tube station, which makes it super easy to get everywhere in the city. On our first day of classes our professors told us that London is the easiest city to get around in and they were right! The number of signs everywhere makes it impossible to go the wrong way, making it really easy to get used to everything,
We have already gotten the chance to try a handful of restaurants and they have been so good! While English food isn’t really special or particularity good, they are very good at embracing other cultures and their food. In the two weeks that we have been here we have already had food from so many different places around the world. One of my favorite places that we have been to is just at the end of our street. They have authentic Italian sandwiches, antipastos, deserts and so much more. It is so fresh and a great place to go to grab food on the way back from class. We also had amazing Belgian waffles from a place in our neighborhood as well as a lot of other good food from around the city. 
While not close to our neighborhood, we also went to Borough Market last week and they had a million different stands to get food from. Some of it was too take home and cook later but they also had a lot of options to eat while you were walking around the market. We all decided to have grilled cheese for lunch because we had heard it was the best in the city. I never thought my opinion of such a simple food would change. The stand we got it from used very unique cheese that made it have a really different flavor. We also had cookies as big as our heads and a million little samples of every food you could imagine. There were so many different places to get food from that we couldn’t eat everything in one day and will defiantly be back! I can’t wait to continue finding new places to eat all around the city!
Belgian Waffle and ice cream from a small stand by our flat

Simple looking but hands down the best grilled cheese ever!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Day One in London

It's day one in London, and my homesickness has already eased. Right when I got off my flight I saw a familiar face and realized that another girl from my program had taken the same flight as me. By coincidence, a second girl from my program had landed near the same time as us, so we all decided to split a cab to our flat. I was beyond relieved that I never got lost nor had to lug my huge suitcase around town in attempt to find my flat by myself. Right when I walked into our flat I knew that this journey was worth it. Our kitchen, bathrooms and bedrooms were more than what I expected. We were so lucky to have been supplied with so many amenities, like toilet paper, cooking utensils, appliances, hangers and bedding. I was in awe with how extremely clean and chic everything was. Even when I walked into my bedroom, I saw an FIE tote bag filled with mini traveling brochures and books to guide me throughout my stay.









Immediately after we arrived, we decided to take a quick stroll throughout town to familiarize ourselves with the area, buy some last-minute toiletries and grab a small brunch. This affluent area is so quaint and beautiful. Like our flat, the rest of the neighborhood was extremely clean and safe. There were so many pretty and petite white buildings, vintage-styled cabs and various bushes of flowers and greenery. Our very first meal in London was at Cote Bistro, where we each ordered salad. After that we went back to the flat to unpack our luggage and freshen up. We all ended up having dinner at Da Mario, which happens to be one of Princess Diana's favorite restaurants. I treated myself to shrimp, wine and canolli, and I definitely want to revisit this place again before I leave to try another new dish. My first day in London was definitely fulfilling, and now I can't wait to sleep in my comfortable bed and slowly wash away my jet lag.



Food, Art and Fashion Abroad: Pt. 1

I am currently on Study Abroad in Rome with both Drexel, and other students, of all majors. Even though the program is not major specific, Italy is an obvious fashion giant that suits Design and Merchandising perfectly.
            Rome, and all of Italy for that matter, is arguably known for three main subjects: Food, Art and Fashion. This works out well for me, as these are three of the subjects that I focus the majority of my studies and life on. Since this is the case, I think there are no better topics to focus my blog posts on for these upcoming 10 weeks. Aside from Italy, I will be traveling to other areas of Europe, the Caribbean, and America, so it will hopefully be interesting to compare Food, Art and Fashion across continents.
            For my first post, I’d like to focus on my favorite meal from the last week and a half that I’ve spent in Italy. This past weekend, the group and myself took a brief trip to Florence. In fashion, Florence is known as the holy land of leather goods, however I was much more impressed by what they were able to do with the meat of their prized cattle. The cut known as the Bistecca alla Fiorintina, is most relatable to a Texas T-Bone steak. However, the astounding thicknesses of the meat even made a carnivore like me feel challenged. 
            Many places in Florence serve the bistecca, but my restaurant of choice was Perseus. Like most places that serve steak in Florence, they only offer it cooked “rare”, most comparable to our medium-rare. This is due to the fact that pieces of meat that size will toughen if you attempt to cook it through any more thorough. In doing so, a wonderful sear is achieved on the outside while maintaining a juicy center. Some people might like to enjoy the majesty of this meat on its own, however I like ordering the full spread. I ended up deciding on caprese, spring salad, spinach, zucchini flower pasta, fried vegetables and house wine for the table. They also brought out some complimentary focacchia bread and a fresh vegetable arrangement. Once the steak arrived, I was in heaven. Many of the others tapped out after a couple of the large pieces, but I was determined to clear every last piece, including chewing the bones. To other patrons I might have looked primitive, however in all honesty it was sadly the first meal I thoroughly enjoyed in Italy. In fact, I enjoyed it so much I decided to return the night after with Emily for round two. I can only hope to enjoy another meal as much as I did Perseus during my upcoming weeks in Italy. If I do, I can promise this blog will be the first to know.



           

Week One: The Grass is Greener

Did everyone have the most stressful couple days leading up to their departures?! After my car getting towed, delaying my flight because of my lack of a passport and visa, and almost having to cancel my trip all together, I am finally in Dublin. If you get to know me at all over these next few weeks, which I hope you do, you might start to figure out that I am not a nature lover. By that I mean I prefer a street over a trail and air conditioning over wind. So why did I choose to spend 5 weeks in a city filled with green landscapes? While I still might be trying to figure that out, the simple answer is that when else will I ever be able to.

So after a frustrating journey to Ireland I have now been here for just over a week. During the cab ride to the apartment I was surprised by the lack of green in the city of Dublin. Instead of hills and well, nature, I found myself driving through a city filled with cobble stone streets, coffee shops and pubs. So many pubs. While Dublin is an urban environment for the country of Ireland it is very different from what we know to be considered urban.

Street in Dublin @lexieberg


After spending time in Ireland, or the correct term, The Republic of Ireland, the school took us to Northern Ireland which is part of The United Kingdom. Here is where I came across the typical green landscapes that I had been expecting to see. As the locals say, "the grass is greener on the other side of the border." Stopping in Belfast, Derry and Donegal via bus, we were given a true scenic and historical tour of multiple cities. Cities that look straight off a postcard.
 Slieve League Cliffs @lexieberg
 
As previously mentioned, I have pretty strong feelings towards nature and having to hike miles to be able to see such incredible views. So while I did hike to the top of almost every hill, below is a more realistic photo of me sitting and enjoying the view rather than hiking it. Basically I was living up to every Europeans idea of Americans being lazy. But hey, I am still hoping I can blame it on the jetlag. My hope is to have a different outlook on such activities by the time I leave so I will keep everyone posted and photograph my progress along the way!
 
 Slieve League Cliffs @lexieberg

I Have A Confession To Make.....

I have a confession to make. Originally, I wanted my first post to be about how I finally made it to Paris, how much I love it, and how much of a great experience this was going to be. To be honest, this has kind of sucked so far. Here are the reasons why:

1. United Airlines hates me. 



My parents are members with United Airlines, and I will agree that United is definitely one of the top airlines that is based out of the United States. However, United and I have had a long history of straight disrespect. Every flight I have been on has either been delayed for an enormous amount of time (without any valid reasons), they seat me next to people that are not ideal, or I get attitude from the flight attendants. For this trip I had to leave from Houston, Texas to Newark, and from Newark to Paris. Of course, my flight from Houston to Newark was about two hours delayed due to the fact that their flight staff was running late. This delay caused me to only have a little less than an hour to get from my gate to the other side of the airport. I booked it.  Luckily, I made it to my gate with just enough time to do a quick currency exchange. I guess I run faster than I think I do. 

2. Taxi drivers hate me.

Like United Airlines, I have a long awful history with taxi drivers. I've been denied service, yelled at for using my credit card instead of cash, hit on, preached to and just straight up disrespected by taxi drivers.  I have never had a good experience with a taxi driver, until Uber came along. After finishing my 10 hour journey to Paris, all I wanted to do was go to my hotel room and sleep for the rest of the day. It was 8:45am and I planned on not waking up till 8:45 am the next day. I meet my prepaid driver at the front of the airport and we make our way to my hotel. The guy driving me is not a taxi driver so this complaint is not about him. It is about the french taxi drivers that are blockading the freeways leaving the airport because they are protesting against Uber. Because of this, instead of me getting to my hotel in 30 minutes, it took us almost 2 hours. I stop using taxis, and they still want to make my life a living hell. 

3. Hotel policies suck. 

For the first night in Paris I wanted to stay in a hotel until my roommate made it into the country. I wanted to move into our apartment together so I would not have to stay in an unfamiliar place by myself. It was 10:45am, I was jet lagged and I smelled like airplane. But, of course, I could not check into my hotel room until 3:00pm. I had to stay in the hotel lounge for two hours drinking coffee (I hate coffee) until they were able to put me into a room. I could have walked around for a little bit, but I could not handle any more walking considering how tired I was. I was fortunate enough to get into a room around 12:30pm instead of 3:00pm. 

4. Paris is actually hell on earth. 

I am from Houston, Texas where we only have two seasons, Fall and Summer. Summer lasts for about 10 months out of the year, and for those 10 months it is extra hot and extra humid. I should be use to going to other places that are equally hot and equally humid. I guess that's not the case. Paris is hell because its a different kind of hot. Its the kind of hot that makes people tired and nauseous. Paris is hell because everyone looks fantastic in this weather, and I look like I should be admitted into a hospital. Paris is hell because Parisians already have a preconceived notion about me and look right past my southern charm. I'm nice! I swear!

I have been reflecting on these past few days and thinking about how horribly things have been going since I have arrived to Paris. Right at this moment I realize that I have missed so many things that have gone right! Now that I think about it, there is a lot of things that have gone right since I've been here that I have overlooked and under-appreciated: 

1. I live in a bangin' Parisian apartment with a really cool roommate. 



2. We got to go to my favorite restaurant in the entire world on the first night! 



Kong is a Japanese fusion rooftop restaurant that has the best cocktails and the best udon noodles I have ever had in my entire life. Not only does it have really cool decor and good food, it has an amazing view of the Louis Vuitton headquarters. Someone google Jordan Nile Bingham and decided to make the perfect restaurant in my honor.


3. I get to live in Paris for the next month to study the luxury goods market and the French wine business. How many people my age can say that? 



I live a good life and I know that this is going to be the adventure of a lifetime. I am so ready!!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

First Week In Paris


As we landed in Munich, Germany where we had a layover before arriving in Paris, I looked out the window and couldn't believe I was no longer in the US.  Having never been to Europe before, I had no idea what to expect. However, one thing that came as a shock was finding out that our luggage was still in Philadelphia once we had arrived in Paris.  Trying to work with what we had and make the best out of the situation since here we were in PARIS, we spent the next couple of days exploring!

                                                                   
Views from our apartment 

First stop was the Eiffel Tower where to hopped on a bus tour and went all throughout the city of Paris.  The tour stopped at Champs Elysees where we saw the Arc de Triomphe, grabbed a bit to eat and shopped on one of the nicest streets in Paris.



The next day we went to Galleries Lafayette where I could not believe my eyes when I had walked through those doors.  Every designer and brand was all right in front of me! It was not like any ordinary mall we have in the US, it was totally different.  We only made it to half the floors during the 3 hours we spent in there, so looks like we'll have to return very soon to finish the rest!




Another part of Paris that I quickly fell in love with was all the food.  On our first night here we walked down the streets surrounding our apartment and could not believe all the choices we had. Restaurants and bakeries one after the other.  Although I have not tried anything crazy yet I am really looking forward to trying all the different foods Paris has to offer!


Amazing bakeries at every corner 


Amorino Gelato 

After six days of being here we are still without luggage but who needs that when you are in a beautiful city that has an endless amount of stuff to offer!


 La Seine River