Wednesday, December 10, 2014


                Looks like I’m moving to Amsterdam! I wish, but my trip there this weekend made me fall in love with this quaint canal town. I was expecting Amsterdam to be beautiful, but I was not prepared for how much I would really love it. The canal houses, cozy cafes, and bountiful bikers give a homey feeling. Aaron and I stayed in a nice area within walking distance to all the museums and sites. Plus the public transportation is so easy there; you can hop on the tram, a bus, or rent a bike.
                On our first day, Thursday, we visited the Anne Frank Haus. The emptiness of where two families once hid left an eerie feeling. The attic is pretty much vacant now, with only a few posters stuck up on the walls for decoration. It is hard to imagine anyone living there, in darkness day in and day out. The exhibits were well done, plus I learned more about her father Otto, and how they kept his company running while in hiding.
                We needed a bit of a pick me up afterwards, so we walked across the street to the Amsterdam Tulip Museum. It was a small museum that explained the process of farming tulips in the Netherlands. It actually was really fun and inspired me to purchase some tulip bulbs to plant when I return!
Quick pick outside the adorable Tulip Museum
                To finish off the day we went to the Heineken Experience, located at the old Heineken Brewery. It was a self-guided tour where we learned about the history of the company as well as some sampling. After the main tour there was a lounge/bar with all sorts of games, music, and TV’s to hang out. It was a nice way to end the evening.
Photo-op at the Heineken Experience
                Friday was museum day. We started at the Rijksmuseum, which houses several Dutch artists including tons of Rembrandt pieces. The museum itself is incredible, the architecture outside resembles a palace while the inside is modernized and sleek. It was hard to pick a favorite piece in the museum, because there was so much to see. We spent around 4 hours in the museum, then had a lunch break and made our way down to the Van Gogh museum. The Van Gogh was much more manageable and went chronologically through Van Gogh’s life and work.
                Exhausted from the day of museums, we decided to take a Canal Cruise on Saturday. We walked around the central area which is more populated with tourists and got our tickets. The cruise lasted about an hour where we learned more about the city’s history. Then we did some shopping, some eating, and lots of picture taking.
Aaron and I on the Canal Cruise
                If you are ever in Amsterdam, you HAVE to ride a bike. There are designated bike lines throughout the entire city; it is really crazy but so much fun. We rented bikes in the central area and rode everywhere. Now I understand why everyone does it! We rode through Vondelpark, under the Rijksmuseum, to the Anne Frank Haus, everywhere. I almost wish we had rented bikes for the duration of the trip, because it’s so much quicker to get around.

Biking at Vondel Park
                Afterwards we stopped for some lunch and finished up souvenir shopping and headed to the airport for our return to Firenze. I’m so glad this was my last trip and lived up to all of my expectations. The city is so vibrant and diverse, we ate all different types of food (Tapas, Chinese, Dutch), in just one weekend. I would love to return here in the future, or maybe for an extended time ;).

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Italian Inspiration

     Through my experience as a D&M major, there are times when I question why I chose this major, why do I enjoy fashion? Sometimes I doubt myself and feel like I’m in the wrong field. Having this time in Italy has completely changed this view. I wanted to touch on some things that have recaptured my love for fashion through my abroad experience.
     The all black outfit is very much alive in Florence, but I’ve noticed the girls pay so much attention to detail. They have edgier pieces, high platform boots, a structured jacket, or a cool accessory. I never knew black could look so chic. Even though I don’t own enough black to pull off this look, it really shows how you can individualize a monochromatic ensemble. Plus, there is a sense of confidence I see in these girls which inspires me to "own" whatever look I come up with.
     There are some pieces I would never see in the US, like the big furry jackets that are “in” right now, sky high platform boots, pops of bright lip colors, etc. There are some people in the US who would go for it, but I think people would give you a strange look. I feel like European fashion is not judged as much, some things can be totally out there, but I think people tend to accept it more. I’ve seen all colors of hair, shaved on one side or the other, which I used to think was an odd choice, but now I feel like I appreciate their confidence in their look.
     Having a limited wardrobe has also been a lot of fun to play around with. Since I only have so many pieces, making a new outfit is always enjoyable. Plus, when I buy a new piece I can figure out multiple ways to incorporate it in my wardrobe. People-watching is where I have found new inspiration as well as fashion blogs and my friends from school. A lot of my friends I’ve made here study fashion as well, and I think we all enjoy each other’s style and play off that. Their passion and creativity has inspired me to think differently and have confidence in my look.
     It appears I’ve gone on a bit of a rant, but the overall point is that, living in Italy and traveling Europe has opened my eyes again to my love of fashion. It has also allowed me to appreciate how other people dress, instead of judging them based on their aesthetic. We all have our own style and there are no rules!

Roman Holiday

Our final school trip was to beautiful Roma. The itinerary included the Coliseum, the Vatican (Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Basilica), the Roman Forum, and other sites along the way.
St. Peter's Basilica

We started our first day at the Vatican. The Basilica itself it unprecedented, it’s so large and grand it is impossible to see everything inside. Then we made our way through pieces of the Vatican Museum towards the Sistine Chapel. Once we arrived I was overwhelmed with the beautiful works of Michelangelo. Staring up at the ceiling I finally got to see the amazing pieces some people only get to see in their textbooks. We spent a while just walking around and taking it all in. Afterwards we were lead over to the Pantheon, which was the inspiration for all dome’s to come. It is incredible to think that the dome is free standing, even today it is unexplained how it was constructed.
Dome inside of the Pantheon
At night, Aaron and I grabbed some dinner and then did some sight seeing. We walked all the way around the lit up Coliseum, passed Trajan’s column, and went by the Trevi fountain (which was disappointingly under construction). After our feet our tired of walking we went to the hotel and prepared for the busy day ahead.

The Coliseum at night
Saturday, we started with a tour of the Coliseum. Finally seeing the inside of the massive structure was unbelievable. Imagining how many people (50,000) sat in this stadium, being freely entertained with exotic animals and gladiators is unfathomable. Looking out from the Coliseum we had a perfect view of the Arch of Constantine and the Roman Forum (more ruins). After we wandered around and took our fair share of pictures, we made our way to the Roman Forum. A few of us wanted to see the Pope in St. Peter’s Square at noon, so we hurried our way through the ruins and caught a cab to the Vatican. We pushed our way through the crowds for a good view to the Pope’s apartment (where he comes out on Sunday’s to bless the crowd and the world). It was a really cool experience to be there and be a part of the mass of people filling the square.

Inside of the Coliseum

The Pope blessing the crowd
Before we knew it, we had to head back to Florence. Rome was much more beautiful than I was expecting. I thought it would be tourist infested, dirty, and only have the stereotypical sites to offer. Rome really is a beautiful city where I see myself returning sometime soon.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

I Love London

          One of my good friends growing up, Megan, offered for Aaron and I to stay with her at her flat in London. She is studying there for the term as well, so we took advantage of her hospitality and spent the weekend in London. She lives in Southbank and gave us loads of options of things to do. We left on Thursday, Thanksgiving, and were kindly greeted by Thanksgiving leftovers her and her floor-mates had made. It was just what I needed after a day of travel.
            Friday rolled around and we started at the Imperial War Museum. Most of the museums are free in London because the government funds it through taxes, therefore, they rely on donations. The outside of the museums looked really small and quaint, almost like an old court house. As you enter there are fighter jets and all types of war memorabilia. We could have spent all day in there, but we limited our time to 2 hours. The exhibits covered from WWI to current time. I really enjoyed the Holocaust exhibit, a precursor to my trip to Amsterdam this weekend where I’ll see the Anne Frank Haus. It was quite emotional, especially hearing Holocaust victims’ stories.
            Then we made our way to the tourist sites, Tower of London, Tower Bridge, Parliament, Big Ben, and Westminster Abbey. It started to get dark really quick, so we set up a place to meet with Megan, and then headed to Hyde Park for the Winter Wonderland festival. I had heard there was going to be a festival in a park, so I imagined it would be a few rides and a few vendors. It. Was. HUGE! There were carnival rides so large they should be in a theme park, vendors lined up at every end, and tons of people walking around with sweets and over sized teddy bears. The rides were a bit pricey, so we thought we might get a drink. As we perused about we came across a carousel with adults standing on it, and as we took a closer look we discovered it was a carousel bar! We immediately hopped on, ordered a beer, and sang songs with the entertainer. Finally, we stopped for a quick fish and chips and walked back home.

A perfect view of Big Ben
            Saturday, we bought a day pass for the Underground, because we planned on hopping all around town. We started at Buckingham Palace for the changing of the guards. It was insanely busy, but really cool to see. They even performed a mini concert, which mainly consisted of Abba songs. Then we took the tube toward Camden Market, but took a quick stop at Kings Cross Station. As a Harry Potter fan, I had to stop at Platform 9¾ for a quick photo-op. After a quick snapshot we were on our way to the Market.

Megan and I making our way to Hogwarts 
            The market was incredible, multiple stories, alleys, and stands where you can find food, clothes, jewelry, really anything you can think of.  After some exploring we went to Oxford Street, the main shopping area in the city center. We stopped in Primark, a UK discount store, I’d compare it to a TJMaxx or Target. There I got tons of socks for the winter and a comfy cardigan. The streets were packed with shoppers and Christmas lights hung from building to building. After some more shopping we went back to Southbank for dinner at Nando’s. Nando’s has chicken dishes inspired by Portuguese food. I’d heard about it from friends who visited and it did not disappoint. Aaron and I shared a chicken platter with all different spices, sauces, it was just delicious. After our bellies were filled we hung around for a bit and then met up with Megan’s friends to hang at the local pub. We shared drinks, laughs, and had a nice end to a wonderful trip.
            I absolutely fell in love with London, the combination of an urban oasis and quaint neighborhoods are a perfect blend. Maybe I will be back sometime in the future! Fingers crossed!

The River Thames at night