Thursday, August 27, 2015

Tips: From Packing Less to Good Investments

How is it finals week already?!

Everyone warned me about how quickly this trip would fly by but I seriously had no idea how right they would be. While I am sad to go, I am anxious to get home and get back to my normal routine, healthy eating, and most of all, my bed… and dogs. This past week in London has unfortunately been rainy almost forcing me to stay in and write my 3,000 word paper. With that now out of the way I have some free time this weekend before packing up my life and heading to Italy for a couple of days to meet my dad.

There have been many lessons and travel tips I have accumulated throughout my adventure but I figured I would dedicate a post to writing about the most important or most helpful tips for traveling again...hopefully soon. 

One: Pack LESS... always pack less. In fact, if possible pack nothing. Because if you are anything like me you will accumulate so many items that you have to ship, buy another bag, and throw out items in order to make it back home. 

Two: Do at least one spontaneous thing in each city, even if it means splurging. My spontaneous activity in Dublin was in fact one of the best nights I had in the last 9 weeks and that was going to the Avicii concert. I bought the tickets while the opening acts were performing and made it there for the last half. Concerts in the US are one thing, but in Europe they are really something else. 


Three: There's a fine line between beaten path and places you should not go. While not always easy to differentiate between the two, it is important to have some boundaries. I have found some of the most amazing places by not doing the usual touristy attractions. However, if you travel too far off the beaten path and your gut tells you to turn around, call an uber, and turn around. 

Four: At least TRY and speak their native language. Not one of the easiest tips to follow but definitely worth the challenge for self explanatory reasons. 

Five: ALWAYS pack and invest in a good umbrella. I guess it may depend on what city and the time of year you go, but the chances are... it will rain. Even if the forecast says sunny, it's lying. Dublin, London, Paris, rain, rain, rain. And do not just buy a cheap umbrella because you will end up like my friend Kyrsten fighting the wind and getting wet. 


And Six: Be open minded. Every city is different and chances are, they will be nothing like you expect. Luckily for me, they were better than expected and I could not be more thrilled and excited to get home and share all my adventures with my friends and family. 

And That's A Wrap

And that's a wrap! Our final London College of Fashion course is finally over. Last week we had our last Trend Reporting class, which was an interactive course that involved a lot of excursions to art museums, fashion companies and luxury department and flagship stores. In just five days we visited three museums and five fashion firms. The fashion firms were definitely the most valuable experience we had, since we got to meet successful business people who are currently working in the fashion industry. 

Our very first stop was Not Just A Label, which is a company that helps high-end fashion brands network at no cost. They've worked with over 18,000 brands that have amazing high quality designs. 

Then we got to visit a PR company called Iroquois PR. From the moment we walked into this studio we were greeted with the utmost hospitality. They offered each and every one of us a cup of tea, coffee or water, and not to mention, they had the cutest and friendliest dog that we got to play with the entire time. The company works with mainly quirky vintage-inspired brands. Their showroom consisted of so many bold and fun colors and prints, like fruit-printed shoes, sequined dresses and neon bathing suits.

On the third day we visited Mode Information, which is a trend forecasting company that was filled to the brim with trend books and magazines of all kinds. These books were insanely expensive and went anywhere from $2,000 to $10,000, so getting the chance to look through future trend forecasts before anyone else was extremely cool. At the very end they even let us choose from their bookshelf of past forecast magazines to take home.

On our very last day we got to visit two different fashion firms, Jas M.B. and Elaine Hooley Design. Jas M.B. is a luxury handbags company that designs high quality unisex and versatile leather goods. We got to see a preview of their new collection, which had really cool holographic elements. Melanie, the company's seller, was such an engaging and charismatic speaker, and she even handed each of us all of their 2015 range plans and her business card enclosed in a tiny leather pouch. 

Elaine Hooley Design is a fashion design consultancies company that designs women's clothing for high street brands. They have a very strong, quirky and whimsical brand image that has a lot of fun prints and vibrant colors. Once I walked into the studio I immediately thought of Anthropologie. Kevin, the studio manager was so full of knowledge and had such a personable character. What I admired most about this company was that they didn't look up to mainstream trend forecasting websites or books, like WGSN, for inspiration. Instead, they had their own unique process and were able to develop an entire collection from anything, like a pair of shoes or vintage plates.

Within these two weeks I had the chance to gain real world knowledge first-hand. It was absolutely like nothing I've experienced at Drexel before. Yes, I may get to listen to people like these at guest lectures in the URBN Center, but actually getting to visit their studio and see and feel their work in person is a whole other experience.

Our very first museum visit at The Royal Academy

Taking a lunch break at Camden Beach

Our visit to the British Museum

The Welcome Collection's staircase

The Welcome Collection's dining area

International Movies and Their Drink Pairings

A few weeks ago I wrote a blog post about French movies and their perfect wine pairings. Since then, I have had the privilege to travel and see more amazing countries throughout Europe. In honor of it being the last week of mu study abroad program, I wanted to write another movies and their drink pairings post based out of the other countries I have visited.

I. United Kingdom



Harry Potter is a fan favorite in the United Kingdom. This film series is based off of the Harry Potter novels by J.K. Rowling. This series consists of eight fantasy films that are full of magic, adventure, and a tad bit of young love. If you know anything about the United Kingdom, then you know that they have a lot of pride in their pale ales. So, if you do decide to waste a few hours on watching these films, try having a pale ale like Landlord by Timothy Taylor's. Its a stronger ale, but it is very tasty.

II. Ireland






P.S. I Love You is a movie about a young widow who discovers her late husband has left her ten messages that are intended to help ease her pain and move on with her life. Because this movie is based in Dublin, it only makes sense that you enjoy this film with a Guinness. In my opinion, Guinness tastes like poison unless you get it straight from the tap of an Irish pub. So I recommend that you fly to Dublin if you intend to watch this movie with a Guinness.


III. Spain



El Matador, also known as the Matador's Mistress, is one of my favorites. This Spanish film is about a scandalous affair between a bullfighter and his mistress. I love this movie in particular because I have crushes on both Adrien Brody and Penelope Cruz. With this film, I recommend a refreshing Sangria. A sexy film deserves a sexy beverage. In my opinion, anything with red wine qualifies as sexy. 


IV. Greece





Mama Mia is by far one of the most popular films to come out of the Greek Islands. This is a story of a bride-to-be trying to find her father using the popular songs by ABBA. This fun movie deserves a spirited drink. I recommend Tsipouro. This drink it very strong and very sweet. It is recommended to only have a small amount and chilled. When I had this drink it surely kicked me in the bum, but the Greeks love it! 

V. Holland






Anne Frank: The Whole Story is based in WWII Amsterdam. This film follows the life of a Jewish girl from Germany whose family migrates to the Netherlands to hide from the Nazis. This film is surrounded by Anne's diary while in hiding. There is no other drink you should enjoy this movie with other than Heineken, a premium brew from Amsterdam. Heineken is my dad's personal favorite. 

I hope you all get a chance to enjoy these movies and their perfect drink pairings. I know I did. :) 

Amsterdam


After much excitement I finally I got the chance to head to Amsterdam and I must say it was an amazing weekend in a beautiful city.  We had three and a half days there which was the perfect amount of time.  We got to see and do just about everything we had on our list.  

After a little confusion at the airport we ended up arriving at our hostel a little later than planned but that did not stop us from wasting any time.  Of course our first stop was for food.  We sat outside at a little restaurant along a canal and got to take in the amazing scenery.  Afterwards, we walked around the area to try and familiarize ourselves in the hopes that it would make it easier to get around the next few days.  

Sunday came around and our first stop was the Heineken factory.  After being at the Guinness Factory in Dublin I was able to compare the two.  I must say I enjoyed the Heineken Factory more because it was a lot more interactive.  After that we walked around and went into a few museums, tried the famous fries and mayo and ended up in Dam Square. 

The following day we decided to venture out in the countryside of Amsterdam to see the windmills, how clogs are made, and eventually took a boat which end up at a cute little island where we had a cheese tasting and dinner.  Once we arrived back to the center of Amsterdam later on in the night we took a canal cruise all throughout the city.  Although it was dark the scenery was beautiful.  We had gotten a recommendation from a local to go up to the top floor of the Double Tree Hotel where there is a rooftop with a full panoramic view of Amsterdam, so without a doubt that was our next stop for the night after our canal cruise returned. 

The next morning we woke up bright and early to wait in line for about 2 hours to see the famous Anne Frank house.  Although the line was long the wait was well worth it.  Having been to another Anne Frank exhibit when I was younger prepared me a little for the tour of her house.

It was very obvious that we were tourists, everyone had said.  When we would speak to locals and mention all the places we had gone that was exactly what their responses were.  Although I love getting recommendations from locals, I sure do love doing all things touristy. 

With only a few hours left in Amsterdam we walked around and found a local ice cream shop that was recommended to us as well called Banketbakkery v.d. Linde.  The ice cream was made right in front of us which meant it had the freshest taste ever.  Not only was it the best ice cream I've ever had but it only cost 1 euro and 10 cents! For anyone who travels to Amsterdam I recommend this place 100%.  

After a little bit of a flight delay I arrived back in London and as sad as it is, my time here in London is almost coming to an end.  





Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Copenhagen: Pt.2

     With a happy stomach, I decided to end my walk and head back to my hotel for the now open check-in. I relaxed at the hotel for a bit, and around 10 thought I’d head to a nearby area of hip bar/restaurants for some snacks and drinks. Unfortunately, Copenhagen is the city that does sleep, and all of my impressive food options were closed, and many of the drinks were too. I managed to stumble two places only open for drinks, and had an expensive, but delicious cocktail at each. This concluded Copenhagen’s nightlife, and I went home to my forced bedtime. The next morning I got up, prepared for a shopping tour of the city. I started off with a sampling of the local sandwiches, or Smorrebrod, at one of Copenhagen’s most frequented shops. The place was packed with young clientele, most likely meaning I was near a student area. I decided on one tuna sandwich and one salmon sandwich, keeping in mind Denmark’s reputation for fish. Both ended up being delicious, but surprisingly I liked the tuna much more. With a good start to my day, it was time to shop. I made my way from shop to shop, many planned, but also with the occasional random find. I visited local brands such as Han KjĂžbenhavn and Norse Projects, along with cool boutiques like Storm. I really enjoyed much of what Copenhagen had to offer for shopping, but still unfortunately didn’t find anything worth buying besides some sunglasses out of my price range. After my day of shopping, I wanted to experience some of the finer contemporary dining that Copenhagen has become known for. After a little research, I decided on Cofoco, which ended up being conveniently located nearby. The tasting menu was very reasonably priced, by Copenhagen’s standards, so my decision was easy. The 4 courses came out slowly, each one unique and delicious. First was the salted scallops, then mussel soup, followed by rib-eye, then finished off with raspberry sorbet. The meal was wonderful, and left me craving more so I ordered a second dessert of strawberries and elderflower. 
     The next morning I woke up, and headed out for a relaxing day around town. There were a few more stores I hoped to visit, so I planned some exploring around those. I started off with another, and more traditional, take on Smorrebrod. I ordered two, the salted cod and the beef tartare, along with a delicious mint and blueberry lemonade. After breakfast, I made my way to some remaining sites and stores. A couple of really interesting contemporary architecture stood out, and I really enjoyed some of the older copper structures which have now oxidized. I even found the coolest playground I’ve ever seen, which included a full racetrack and old wartime bomber plane-turned play place. However, to avoid any potential charges, I stayed on the outside of the fence and only snapped one quick picture. By this time it was around 5 pm, and I was nearing my reservation at Relae. I had been looking forward to the meal all trip, since it was recently rated in the top 50 restaurants in the world, and 2nd in Copenhagen. With a little time to kill, I bought some wine and had a much needed break in a nearby park. Before I knew it, it was time and I made my way to Relae. The interior was modern, but not uncomfortable, and I was excited to get a table in the kitchen. I watched as they prepared each course, and excitedly devoured each as they came out. The highlights ended up being the venison tartare with peas, the mozzarella ice cream dessert with strawberry and basil, and roughly 7 large slices of the greatest bread of my life. Happily full, I shelled out the hefty price of the check, and made my way back towards the hotel. Copenhagen proved to be interesting and charming, even though in the end I realized it’s much too quaint to consider living there long term. 







London Haul

I am one of the most frugal people you’ll ever meet. I tend to pick up pennies off the ground, thrift shop, and order the cheapest meal on the menu. I don’t online shop unless there’s free shipping and I’m constantly searching for the best deals by looking for coupons and freebies, especially anything that involves free food. However, that doesn’t mean that I don’t know how to enjoy life and splurge on investment pieces every now and then. As a fashion major, I always have an everlasting wish list and as a Philadelphian, it’s impossible to skip the luxury of Restaurant Week. After three whole months of living in London, I’ve had the chance to shop at local flea markets and special retail stores that don’t exist in the States. I’ve racked up on many good finds and have checked off so many things from my wish list that I couldn’t find back at home!

Topshop:

  • White mesh dress $32
  • Liquid eyeliner $10
New Look:

  • Denim overalls $37
  • Marble geometric necklace $8.50
  • Black and white striped socks $2
  • Black frilly socks $1.50
 
Boohoo:

  • Black evening gown $14
  • Floral bellbottom trousers $20
  • White asymmetrical crop top $10
  • White symmetrical crop top $10

Primark:

  • Grey frilly socks $3
  • Mint frilly socks $3
  • Copper hangers (4 sets of 5) $20

Pull & Bear: “I hated everybody before it was mainstream” crop top $9.50


& Other Stories: White bralette $15.50


Make Up For Ever: Primer $11

Liberty: Gold scissors $16.50


The Welcome Collection - Gift Shop: Black pleather agenda $10.50


Camden Market:

  • Maroon elephant printed tapestry $14
  • Mini dream catcher $10

Brick Lane Market:

  • Holographic glasses $8
  •  “Reading” glasses $13

You can probably tell by now that I have a very monochromatic and minimalistic style. I like sticking to the basics, and I truly believe in quality over quantity. Black will always be my favorite color to wear, but this summer I seemed to start a white palette theme, especially when it came to crop tops. I couldn’t be happier with my back-to-school shopping, and I can’t wait to bring some British street style inspirations back to Philly!



Weekend in Paradise

This past weekend my friends and I took our last weekend trip of our time abroad. While I’m not sure how time went by so fast I was so excited for this trip because we went to the Amalfi Coast in Italy. This is one of my favorite places in the world and I was so excited to go since I hadn’t been since I was about 12. The coast was even more beautiful then I remembered and the food was just as awesome as I had always thought. I am a big lover of all Italian food as my mom’s family is from Italy so I always grew up eating lots of different Italian food and making it with my grandparents. Needless to say I was in heaven for the four days we were there.
            Our first full day there we decided to go to Capri, which is an island of the coast. The boat ride there was beautiful and as we went out to the island you could see all the towns lined up along the coast, nestled in-between the cliffs. Once on the island we decided to spend the morning at the beach enjoying the nice weather after is has been so chilly in London for so long. Come lunchtime we decided to walk away from the port and beach area to find food. We started walking up what we thought would be a little hill that said it went to the center of Capri, only to discover that we had to hike about 30 minutes. It was ridiculously hot out so we were all dying of heat but once we got to the top we immediately knew the view was worth it. We had a delicious lunch overlooking the island and then walked around all the different shops. They had a lot of high-end Italian designer stores such as Missoni, Moschino, and Prada in addition to a lot of touristy shops. The one thing I did by while on the island were hand made sandals. It only takes the cobbler about 20 minutes to make a pair so he is able to measure your feet and make them while you wait. The sandals are one of the best purchases I made while abroad!
View of Capri after hiking up to the center

On our way walking down from the center


            The next day we went to the town of Positano. I was particularly excited about this day trip because this is where I had stayed when I came with my family when I was younger. It looked exactly as I remembered, however what I didn’t remember well was the winding road high in the mountains that you have to take to get there. I am terrified of heights so I was not thrilled to be standing on a bus while it looked like we were going to fall over the edge. Thankfully on the way back we were able to take a ferry so I was spared almost having a heart attack for a second time. Other then my bus ride the four days we spent in Italy was by far the most relaxing of our time abroad so it was the perfect trip to end on!
Positano from where the bus dropped us off

Sunset from our hotel

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Copenhagen: Pt.1

     With Berlin out of the way, I was on to my next northern destination. After a short flight I landed in Copenhagen, Denmark early Tuesday morning. I arrived at my hotel well before the 4 pm check-in time, but fortunately they were able to store my bags while I went off to explore. Once I got my hands on some local money, it was time to start the day off with a snack. I found a small food stand that served sausages and sandwiches. I went with the frikadellen sandwich, a tasty sausage patty I’d tried and loved in Germany. After getting a little food in me, I thought it was time to see some of the local interests. I decided to walk across the city, eventually ending in across the waterway. My hotel/hostel was located in the red light district, a now for the most part gentrified and repuroposed neighborhood (by day at least). I made my way out of the district, passing the interestingly central located amusement park, Tivoli, before crossing over the bridge adjoining the city’s sections. The scenic path then took me through a pond and wooded area, known as Christianshavns Vold. The Vold had many walking paths, but remained natural enough to make it a true escape from the city. I made my way through the green space, and shortly after stumbled upon a breathtaking church. The church was named Vor Frelser Kirke, and stood massive with a golden clock tower atop it. I wanted to see it from the top, and was quickly drawn inside. I soon realized a visit to the top came at a price, and instead opted to explore the free inside. The inside was just as astonishing, mainly due to the enormous hand carved organ. Also impressive was the large amounts of marble decoration and golden cherubs, all which adorned the preaching podium and offering.
     After some awe and pictures, I was on my way to Christiana. Christiana is an area of Copenhagen that is considered separate due to it’s alternative policies. Originally, it was a full-fledged hippie commune that sustained itself through open market and drug sales. Now, Christiana is a much more toned down version of its original self due to heavy tourism and a semi-watchful eye. This being said, lax-laws are still in place and cannabis products are sold in various booths known as the “green light district”. Even though I knew the novelty of Christiana would be played out, I still thought it worth visiting since I’ve never been anywhere similar. When I arrived, I was pleased to see that the commune was a nicely kept green space, with plenty of natural growth to crowd out the mildly commercialized food and shops. I was even more excited a little further down the path, as I came across the Wonderland skatepark from Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, which I had assumed throughout childhood to be a made up video game location. The find was awesome, but unfortunately I didn’t have a skateboard or proper footwear. Right past Wonderland lied Christiana’s main attraction, the Green Light District. The district was makeshift, but official. Roughly 25 different small booths made from wood and camouflage spread across a small area, each ran by 1-5 men covered for the most part in military tactical gear. This was presumably to shield their identities, as their booths also had veils to guard their faces. I walked up to a few of the window-like structures, and viewed what they were selling. Different varieties of weed and hashes were laid out at each, most being discernible to the untrained eye. The system for sale was interesting, and in a way seemed to function as a much more low-brow version of legitimate American dispensaries. After I saw where it was bought, I came upon the large open area where much of the products were being enjoyed. The space seemed functional, with lots of tables, ashtrays and surrounding restaurants, but at the same time unappealing. I personally didn’t see the appeal of such a large social environment, with a far too obvious inspiration drawn from biergartens. Possibly at the expense of others, this environment proved perfect for people watching. I took a brief break from walking for a couple of minutes, and enjoyed some of the humorous sights. My favorites came in the form of high groups of old tourists, and families taking their kids on a tour of the premises. Both of these were funny for their own reasons, especially in the presence of each other. Without much more to look at, I thought it apt to try some of the munchies before leaving the commune. I went with the least played out looking option, which was a kebap stand. I went with a trustworthy combo wrap, and was pleased that it was actually pretty delicious. 
     
Continued in Pt.2





Under the Weather While in Beautiful Weather

This past weekend I went to my favorite place in the world, the Amalfi Coast. Unfortunately, I had a stomach virus the last three days on my trip and was unable to eat anything expect for bread. There I was in Italy unable to eat any of the delicious food around me. It was awful! I had the beautiful surroundings of the Amalfi Coast and beaches to make up for all the Italian food I couldn’t eat. The last time I was in the Amalfi Coast it was six years ago for my dad’s 50th birthday. We went with my dad's two sisters and all my cousins and my close family friends. We were a big, loud and lively group of twenty-two so it was a ton of fun! It was one of the best vacations I’ve ever been on. Sadly this vacation was not as fun because I wasn’t feeling well.


Luckily the first day we got there my stomach was fine and I was able to eat! I had delicious spaghetti and clams, which is my favorite pasta dish. We then spent the whole day in the beach near our hotel in Sorrento. The water was crystal clear and so warm and refreshing. It was sunny, hot and perfect weather while we were there. We got to relax by the beach all day and I got to start my book, Paper Towns by John Green. That night we went to a restaurant near our hostel. I got grilled squid and a tomato salad. The tomato salad was so fresh and the grilled squid was very yummy. I’m a huge seafood fan so I’ll eat any type of seafood.




The following day we went to the island of Capri. I went six years ago and find it so beautiful! Sadly that day I didn’t feel well so did not enjoy my day fully. Capri is beautiful and has great shops and pretty beach. I wish I was feeling better and could fully enjoy it.


On Sunday we went to my favorite place in the world, Positano! I stayed here with my family when we came to the Amalfi Coast. I think it's one of the most breath taking places in the world. I still wasn't feeling well but I enjoyed laying on the beach. I went to the shops and got a few presents for my family and for my boyfriend, James. Being in Positano brought back so many incredible memories I had with my family and friends six years ago. I want to go back when I'm feeling better so I can enjoy to the fullest. 



Our flight home was four hours delayed so we got home at 4am on Monday. It was a very long day. Luckily I’m feeling a lot better! On Friday James is coming and we’re leaving for Mykonos that Sunday! We'll be there for a week in a villa with a bunch of our friends. I’m so excited to go to Greece! I’m 100% Greek and the last time I went to Greece was when I was in the 5th grade. It’s going to be so a fun and such a relaxing vacation!