Tuesday, July 29, 2008

{eye candy from JCrew's fall collection}

I was wasting time, putting off studying and decided to check out JCrew's website. Their Fall preview is up and everything is AMAZING + I love that they have posted a storyboard for fall because I think it's so cool to be able to see where designers get their inspiration. I'm pretty sure I'm in love with every single thing! JCrew has really hit a stride and are doing so many cool, creative and stylish things!! I'm in love... you MUST go to the website and see how gorgeous everything is for yourself!

Monday, July 28, 2008

{day 28}

After class I went to lunch wth a few of the girls at Pret. I will miss Pret, but not as much as I thought when I first had it because it’s pretty much all I eat here. After lunch we went to Primark, this store that is very inexpensive. It was the most crowded I have EVER seen a store – Ever. More crowded that the mall right after Thanksgiving. It was too crazy for me, so I didn’t get anything and one of the girls and I left and went to Oxford Street. Oxford Street has tons of souviner shops and their prices are a little better than most of the really touristy areas. We got yummy ice cream and walked around for a while and then decided to go to Kensington Park Road where there are some cute boutiques. We went to Coco Ribbon, which is so cute and has totally girly stuff! I bought a really cute frilly edge umbrella and pretty floral makeup bag from two of the shops we stopped in. Such great finds! We had to be back around 4:00pm to get ready to go see Never so Good.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

{day 27 - Dublin}

This morning we woke up and had breakfast at the most charming little cafe! The food was so good. I got a big breakfast of scrambled eggs, sausage links, toast with butter and strawberry jelly and orange juice - so yummy! When we finished our breakfast we decided to hop on the Dublin tour bus that you pay to ride the whole day and it takes you all around Dublin and you can jump on and off wherever you like! It was so cool to be able to see ALL of Dublin on the top of a double-decker bus! We jumped off at a really cute little store that is a lot like Anthropologie, only it has an adorable bakery on the bottom floor with incredible cookies, cakes, cheesecake, scones, muffins - you name it! I HAD to get the cheesecake because it looked too delicious - which it was. It was unlike traditional cheese cake in that it had a sugar cookie like crust on the bottom and then the same crumbled on top with fresh raspberries and blueberries... way too good.

We also went to the Jameson factory with the intention of taking the tour but it was too long so we had a drink at JJ's, the totally Jameson bar, which was very cool looking, took pictures around the inside of things that looked like they could have been part of the tour and shopped in the gift shop.

We went to Hard Rock Dublin for lunch and ate way too much - but it was so good (It's a good thing we walk everywhere or I would have easily gained 20lbs by now). After our late lunch we went souvenir shopping and then left for the airport. Dublin was really fun - I definitely wish I could have spent more time there!

{day 26 - Dublin}

Today was my first day in Dublin! We had to wake up at 5:30am in order to have 8 girls ready to go by 6:30am so we could grab some breakfast and make our Paddywagon tour to Blarney Castle. We stopped at McDonald's (very Irish, I know) for breakfast and then walked to the Paddywagon "Station" to get on the coach that would take us to Blarney.

View from the top of Blarney Castle
It took 4 hours to get to Blarney, about 20 mintues to climb to the very top of the castle and kiss the stone and about an hour and a half to eat lunch at a nearby Irish pub before having to get back on the coach to make the 4 hour journey back to Dublin. Blarney Castle is completely different from the castles in London! #1 - it's very very old, #2 - it's completely made of stone, #3 - #1 & #2 make it way cooler than London's castles because you can really imagine how it could have been many years ago. I loved it! It was a little scary climbing to the top because the stairs get more and more narrow as you go up, but once you come to the top (where you kiss the stone) the view is AMAZING! Everyone kissed the stone and I promptly antibacterial-ed my mouth afterwards (laugh... it's fine..).
They take your picture with one of those cameras, like they have at the end of a rollercoaster ride, when you kiss the stone that you can buy for 10 euro, which I think is a total rip off, and I had one of the girls take my picture instead - which came out much cuter! Our lunch made up for our breakfast because I got an baked potato - which was very good. I picked up a fw souviners while we were waiting to get back on the coach, one of which was a bag of Leprechan poop (green jellybeans) for my little cousin - he will think it's hilarious and I kind of do too! When we got back to Dublin we grabbed a few drinks at a local pub and called it a night because we were all very tired and wanted to wake up early to do fun Irish things in the morning!

{day 25}

Today we didn't have class because we had to leave the dorm very early for our tour of Canterbury! The coach trip was pretty long just getting there and back - we were only actually walking around Canterbury for about three hours. Just enough time to see Canterbury Cathedral and grab some lunch. The poor waitresses that served our table of nine or ten at lunch! I'm sure she wasn't used to such a large group but she was very nice and brought me a ton of ice when I asked for "extra" in my Diet Coke. So she gets a gold star from me! When we got back to the dorm around 5:00pm I had to scramble to pack and get ready to leave for the airport to fly to Dublin!!
We left the dorm around 6:15pm to make it to the train station to get on the train that would take us to the airport for our 10:15pm flight - I am coming very close to being over flying anywhere for a long time - but I could not be more excited that I got the chance to go to Dublin! Amazing!! When we finally got to Dublin around 11:45pm we went straight to the hostel and straight to bed so we could wake up early for our trip to Blarney Castle to kiss the Blarney Stone! I know... I will have kissed a dirty, old rock that has been kissed by 1000s of other tourists... the things people will do for 7 years of eloquence!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

{day 24}

Today we had our final English paper due, which I am so glad to be done with. School work isn't any fun in a place like London! I was very tired from staying up late writing my paper so I took a long nap and woke up just in time to get ready to go see Spartacus! I had never seen a ballet, other than The Nutcracker, so it was really incredible. It's amazing that a story can be told with music and dancing alone. It was really neat how even the fight scenes were graceful and flowed perfectly. I have never seen so many male dancers - the case was huge. I wish I had read Spartacus before we saw the ballet so I would have had a better understand as to what was going on during certain points in the show, but overall I really enjoyed it and I'm glad I had the opportunity to see such a wonderful production.

{day 23}

This morning we didn't have classes because we had an early tour of Parliment that we absolutely had to be on time for because they were doing us a favor allowing us inside (according to the people in charge of LSU in London), although there were several other groups touring at the same time as our group. The tour was really cool! We weren't allowed to take any pictures inside (can you see a pattern forming?), but we went into the House of Commons and the House of Lords, both of which were really cool to see. After the tour I grabbed lunch at Pret and then came back to the dorm and organized the 250+ photos I have taken since I have been here and piddled around until it was time to leave for Billy Elliot!

Talk about a fun show!! It has a lot of British humor in it and some political references that none of us really "got" but that aside it is a really funny show! There was a group of about 15 tween-age girls in the row in front of us and they absolutely loved it!

{day 22}

Today was business as usual with classes and everything... but in the evening we went on the Jack the Ripper walking tour! I was expecting more of a haunted house type of deal but it was literally just walking around London to the places that Jack the Ripper once committed his crimes. It was definately something I would not recommend. Although I would recommend the good people of London build a Jack the Ripper haunted house because that could be cool. After the tour I had to start working on my second and final English paper which is due later in the week. This week won't be too exciting because we have school stuff to do and honestly, I'm starting to run out of steam! BUT I am leaving for Dublin, Ireland Friday, so that is VERY exciting!!

{day 21}

Well... it's official... for the first time since I have been in London, I have nothing exciting to report. I had a very boring day that consisted of class in the morning and resting all day long. I was still exhausted from my trip over the weekend and needed to catch up on sleep. Don't worry! I will have new and exciting things to share tomorrow - we are going on the Jack the Ripper walking tour, so that should be... fun? ...maybe more like creepy. We shall see... until then... Good Night!

{day 20 - Florence}

This morning we had to wake up very early to make our flight back to London. We flew out of Pisa, and had ever intention of seeing the Tower of Pisa before our flight and taking the pictures only tourists take, where it looks like you are holding the tower up, but ran out of time. I was very tired from our busy weekend in Italy so I took a long nap when we finally got back to the dorms around 3:00pm. It still hasn’t actually hit me that I saw two incredible Italian cities… ahh Italia…

{day 19 - Florence}

This morning I woke up in Florence! I thought Rome was beautiful but Florence is beau-ti-ful!!

We woke up early to go to the Italian leather market, which was really cool. I got a leather money clip/wallet for my beau, a cute little strawberry keychain for me and a pink ostrich skin eyeglass holder for my mom. Some things were very expensive but I feel like I made it out of there with some bargains.

There were alot of sidewalk artists recreating famous works of art on the street with just chalk! So cool!

When we finished shopping around the leather market we did a little souvenir shopping (where I found a perfect Italy charm for my charm bracelet – the Coliseum) and then went to buy tickets to see Michelangelo’s David statue. We sat in a nearby gelateria and had granitas until it was time for our “tour” to see the David.

Being able to see David was incredible! He is a very large statue – his feet and hands seem a little too big for his body and his eyes are wild looking. The David is different from most marble statues because he has a lot of veining and isn’t the typical creamy white color but more of a bluish-grey white. When we left the museum we were ready for dinner so we went to one of the many local restaurants.

I had the most delicious ricotta ravioli (there was a tomato cut into the shape of a rose on my plate!) and we all enjoyed complimentary limoncello from our waiter! Limoncello is a lemon liqueur from Southern Italy, made of lemon rinds, alcohol, water and sugar. It is very sweet and not at all sour because it is made without any actual lemon juice. I didn’t particularly care for it because it has the consistency of cough syrup and I didn’t like the taste, but it was very nice of our waiter to share some with us! After dinner we went back to our hostel because we had to wake up early for our flight “home” to London.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

{day 18 - Rome}

Today was our second day in Rome and we planned to go to Vatican City. It was so beautiful! We toured St. Peter’s Basilica which is absolutely breath taking! It is the largest and most highly decorated Catholic Church in the world. It’s unbelievable that mass takes place each Sunday!

We also saw the Sistine Chapel! Talk about intricate! You aren’t allowed to take photographs inside, like most holy places, but I will remember it forever! It was so beautiful! The most famous piece of the large ceiling, with Adam and God’s hands touching, is actually a lot smaller than I imagined from having seen pictures but it was still incredible to be looking at something that was created by Michelangelo. It was a truly moving day in Vatican City.

After we left the Vatican we stopped at a gelateria and had the most delicious gelati! So it was time for dinner so we ate an early, and leisurely, dinner in true Italian style at one of the many sidewalk bistros before catching our train to Florence. What a perfect Roman holiday!

{day 17 - Rome}

Today I arrived in Rome at 6:00am (we had to leave for the airport at 2:00am... it was pretty terrible) and spent the day exploring the beautiful city!! It was so unbelievable to be in such a historical place. Here are a few of the pictures of what I saw - it was AMAZING!


The Spanish Steps
One of the many Caesar statues around the city

The Pantheon

Roman Forum ruins

Arch of Constantine

Trevi Fountain {I threw my penny in!}

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

{day 16}

After my English exam this morning I went down to M&S (grocery store) and got some lunch. Then came back to the dorm and looked up the address to Emma Bridgewater because I've seen her cute kitchen accessories before and I wanted to check out the store since I'm in London! I got the Union Jack mug!! It is so cute and I was looking for a really cute London souvenir mug and I think it is absolutely perfect! When I got back to the dorm I had to pack for my long weekend trip to Italy!! Until next week... Ciao!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

{strawberries + bumblebees}

I love the UK textile designer Jan Constantine! Too bad her store is 2 hours from Notting Hill... BUT she does love an online store front! Her stuff is so sweet and cute - perfect hostess gifts! A few of my favorites:

{day 15}

Today I finally walked the length of Portobello Road Market! It was just like everyone said, very market-y, meaning a lot of junk, a lot of fresh produce and a lot of really awesome antique home furnishings and accessories. I came out with two very cute Union Jack burlap tote bags, I think I'm going to have to go back for another one because my original plan was to keep one and give the other to one of my sisters, but I'm afraid they are too cool and they'll fight over it so I'm going to get a third! They're only £2! I also went with a friend to check out the Piccadilly Circus Antique Market which is only on Tuesdays! Were you excited? Did you think it would be really awesome since it's only on Tuesdays and the name is so grand and wonderful? Prepare to be disappointed. The market is somewhat the equivalent in grandeur to a church rummage sale. There are about 20 booths set up in a little grid like pattern and there is faux jade jewelry, leather good, sterling silver goods and some antique china pieces. Not worth the train ride over there, but you can't win them all!

I actually had great luck at the tiny souvenir shop next door where I found the world's most perfect Union Jack charm for my charm bracelet!
After all of our shopping we stopped at Crussh on the way home to grab a smoothie - their smoothies are delicious and fresh, and you can make your own from just about any fruit/veggie you can think of! Disappointing markets aside, it was a good day in Jolly 'ol London!

Monday, July 14, 2008

{day 14}

After classes today I went with the three other girls I am traveling to Rome with, to book our train ticket from Rome to Florence, which took about 3 seconds (we had spent an hour trying to do it ourselves online)! After the train was booked we ran into TopShop, I have officially been there too much, because two of the girls wanted to try to find some dresses, since it is going to be hot in Italy! Later that day I went with a big group of girls to grab some gelato at Gelato Mio (yum) before going to see Mamma Mia. Unfortunately Mamma Mia was SOLD OUT when we got to the theater (which is a one screen theater - no megaplex AMC 24s in London) and we weren't able to see it, so we all decided to be good little students and go back to the dorm to study for our political science test we had the next day.

{day 13}

{Picture from Stratford-upon-Avon.co.uk}

We woke up early to get on the coach to make our trip to Blenheim Palace and then back to London! Blenheim Palace is AMAZING! It is so beautiful and grand - you even have to take a short train ride to get to its butterfly gardens. After roaming around Blenheim Palace for several hours it was finally time to climb back on the coach and make our way "home" to London. Everyone was worn out when we got back to the dorm and went straight to sleep.

{day 12}

Today was our first full day in Stratford. We woke up early and walked to Shakespeare's birthplace where we took a tour of the house Shakespeare grew up in. It was fairly modest and very charming. We weren't allowed to take pictures inside, so I don't have very many to share.
After Shakespeare's birthplace we walked the THREE MILES (I wasn't happy) to Anne Hathaway's Cottage. It was a lot bigger than Shakespeare's house and had beautiful gardens all around it. There were daisies (my favorite flower) everywhere!

When we finished the tour of Anne Hathaway's we had to walk the THREE MILES (me = unhappy again) back to town. I went to the cutest little boutique - Aspire Style. It is so girly, frilly and fun! They have tons of cute accessories, including: big flower rings, cupcake (hand towel and tiny soap) gift sets, coin purses, ruffle umbrellas, etc. After shopping a little bit we went back to the B&B to freshen up for the play we were seeing later that evening. We saw Taming of the Shrew performed by the Royal Shakespeare Company. No one in our group really enjoyed it. It was performed very well - the actors were all outstanding, but the direction the director took the play was pretty dark and not at all comedic.

Since no one really enjoyed the play we were all ready to do something fun afterward! A big group of us went to The Golden Bee Pub. It was really fun because the place is huge, they have plenty of seating and the drinks are SO cheap!! All in all it was a fun day in the little town of Stratford.