Springfest München

I’ve always heard of Oktoberfest, but Springfest is like the little sister that fewer people know about! I am so glad I got to make a trip to Munich during my time in Europe, and had no idea how close Italy was to Germany. Although the trip there was crazy, I would definitely recommend it and had a fabulous time.

Maddy and I were flying from Bologna straight to Munich, which is only one hour away. Unfortunately, once we got to the Bologna airport, Maddy realized she had forgotten her passport! We begged the gate assistant to overlook this, but she was forced to go home. So I flew by myself to Munich, where I was staying at one of the most amazing Hiltons. The Hilton Munich Park has amazing customer service, is right next to metro stations, and has amazing accommodations! Our room was on the 12th floor, which had a beautiful view, and they left us sweet touches like notes and fresh fruit.

Once Maddy got back, she found a Flixbus that would go through the night and arrive to Munich in the morning! So I enjoyed the free breakfast that comes with the room, and we planned to meet at the fest. Although the hotel sells gorgeous Drindls, the traditional German dress worn to the festival, I set out on a mission for more affordable options. The hotel sells genuine ones, so the price range is higher. The concierge was so helpful with public transport, and I was able to buy my ticket directly from him! It was actually quite difficult to find a store, but I found one with tons of options close to the fest in the 50-70 euro price range. The store owner was so nice, and gave me a free hairpiece!

I finally met up with Maddy at Springfest, after her literally 12-hour bus ride… Fun. The fest is basically a big carnival, with things like a ferris wheel and some actually crazy rides! We went into the Hippodrom, which is a huge tent where everyone sits and drinks beer while listening to some live music. Maddy and I don’t even like beer, but the ambience was so fun! I ate huge pretzels and had way too much sugar, then we went back to the hotel and relaxed.

In the evening, we were introduced to the ‘cocktail master’, Lucas, who the manager definitely hyped up. We were not let down. After some of these tasty and colorful drinks, we headed to their restaurant. I was so impressed by this food and service! The manager kept checking on us and was so friendly, and had lots of recommendations. Being from Texas, I wanted to try their filet, and am very picky about this particular staple. Maddy also has all of her dietary restrictions, but neither of us were disappointed. My steak and Maddy’s chicken were amazing, and I could have legitimately had hundreds of the sweet potato fries.

Although we were there for a very short time, the hotel completely took care of us and made everything so fun and easy. I can’t believe this was my last weekend trip while abroad, and am so glad it was this one!

20180505-_X4A0424

Cinque Terre Day Trip

Time to talk major wanderlust: Cinque Terre, Italy!

I think most of us have seen pictures of the gorgeous coast with the insanely colorful buildings, but I had no idea how incredible the area would be in person. My school has an annoying policy where whenever we have a holiday with school off, we have to make it up that Friday. So since we didn’t have time for a full blown weekend trip, we did a day trip through Smart Trip, which was so fantastic! I’m so glad we did it through this company, because the way the tour went was perfect.

The group met at 7am at the train station, where we took a 2.5 hour bus to the first town, Manarola! This town was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen, and is the one that shows up in the image at the top! We climbed around the rocks and got some of the best views. I would love to go back and take a boat tour or in the summer when it’s warm enough to swim.

We didn’t have much time to spend in this town, but I was in love with all the colors and my personal favorite part- I saw a ton of cats! We went through some random streets looking for hidden gems and were not disappointed.

Next, we took the train to Riomaggiore! This town had so many stores selling lemon candy and other lemon-themed things, which I am always a huge fan of. It’s a great spot to get cute little gifts. We continued to explore, and made some new friends from California and London. In every town, we wanted to see the water, so we all ventured down towards the beach area together. We found so many cute spots and hung out on the rocks again, which I have to warn can be treacherous! Classic Grace move- I saw a crab and fell on the rocks because I was so scared. Other than that, loved it.

The next town we took the train to was perfection. We went to Monterosso, which is the major beach area. The Smart Trips guides gave us some recommendations on places to get lunch and drinks, and we got some of the BEST calamari that is prepared right in front of you. A really great drink place is right next door, so we stocked up before walking down to the beach. Side note- I’m in love with bandanas lately! I’ve been using them in my hair or around my neck as a scarf, and it is so convenient and a cute pop of color if you need one.

There were chairs on the beach that you can lay in, but expect to pay. Since it was only five euros a person, we thought it was worth it. The weather was absolutely perfect, very sunny and in the high sixties, so we were able to bust out our bathing suits! Finally. We laid out for a few hours, and it was so relaxing. How perfect are my friends??

Since spring break was moderately chilly, finally having weather and time to lay out and tan on a beach was so nice. If planning a trip to Cinque Terre, I would say it’s definitely worth it to wait until it starts to warm up. I had wanted to go before, but this was the first weekend of warm weather and I’m so glad I waited. The towns are stunning and I think everyone should try and visit!

Xoxo,

Grace

Sorrento: My New Favorite Place

I’ve always wanted to go to the Amalfi Coast/Positano area, but had never even heard of Sorrento. It is a total hidden gem and I would recommend this to anyone who wants that beautiful coast type of Italian vacation!

I do have to admit, some of my favorite places (like Capri!) are not incredibly easy to get to. However, they are absolutely worth the hassle. I took the train from Rome to Napoli Centrale (Naples), which is just a little over an hour with the high speed train. Once you arrive in Naples, you are supposed to (in theory) take the Circumvesuviana, which is the train that takes you to all the little towns on the way to Sorrento, and Sorrento. Not surprisingly, my family had trouble finding it, so we ended up just taking a taxi. It was honestly pretty hilarious, because there were 6 of us and an absurd amount of luggage fitting into a basically 5-seat car. Whoops. We felt a little guilty using one of the non-legit taxis, but it was pretty inexpensive. Still, would recommend figuring out the train and doing that instead. We stayed in the most beautiful and perfect place, the Hotel Bristol Sorrento. The staff, food, location, everything was incredible. Our rooms had stunning views of the cliffs overlooking Naples and Mount Vesuvius, and came with really cute touches like local oranges.

The first day we really just wanted to walk around and get a feel for the city, so we walked with no destination in mind and just saw all the beautiful surroundings. There is literally a gorgeous view around every corner!

We walked all the way down and looked at some of the cute stores, and wanted to find a view of the beach. Once we finally found a good spot, the lighting was perfect! The weather was also really nice- we got lucky. I probably wouldn’t suggest going to the Amalfi coast area before April at least, or it’ll be chilly. Isn’t Mount Vesuvius cool?? Loved getting to see it with such a pretty sunset.

Of course, we had to ask strangers to take family pictures since the atmosphere and lighting were so perfect! Golden hour >>

After that, we walked back to the hotel, which had such a fabulous view and actually delicious food! Here are a few of my favorite shots of the landscape on the way back.

Our second day there, we went to Pompeii! We hired a guide to tour us and drive us from Sorrento, which is honestly the best way to do it. It’s a huge area, so it can be overwhelming if you try to go there on your own not knowing what you want to see. P.S.- our guide recommended we try Da Franco Pizza for lunch, and she delivered. If you go, Da Franco is a total hit and a must!

To anyone wanting to visit Positano/Amalfi Coast area- do it! Make sure to go see Sorrento at some point!

Xoxo

Barcelona for Spring Break

Okay, so it’s official… I’m in love with Barcelona. We went here for spring break and were initially supposed to stay three days, but extended it to five because the city was so amazing. When we got there, it was in the evening, so we only had dinner, did some shopping, and went out. The dinner place was SO good and in the city center, so if you find yourself there, go! It was called Woki Organic Market, and right next to all the shopping. I had never seen Pull and Bear before, but that is my new favorite place to shop. Please come to Texas!

It’s pretty cool- all the clubs are right next to each other and on the beach, so we went to Opium, but a lot of places like Pacha and Shoko looked great as well. I hate being negative, but DO NOT stay at this Airbnb! We had a poor experience with this place, and should have also done a better location. It obviously depends on the person, but if I could do it again I would stay by the beach. Barcelona’s metro system is pretty solid, though, so getting around isn’t really an issue if you get a metro pass.

We hit the beach where the weather was nice, restaurants were great, and knockoffs GALORE. I may have spent 90% of my money on the knockoffs… ha. The vendors sell tapestries super cheap by the beach, which is nice to sit on if you don’t want to get sand everywhere. We got the BEST poke bowls at Kaymana, which is right by the beach, and acai bowls from FitBar. The places that are close to the beach are pretty expensive, but all of the ones we went to were delicious. We also got breakfast at Brunch and Cake, which everyone loves but I had an allergic reaction. If allergic to nuts- would not recommend, but otherwise, it’s great!

We had reservations to go see Guell Park, which was beautiful! Unfortunately, some of it was under construction so we couldn’t get to the coolest viewpoint that I’ve seen all over the internet, but it was still pretty. If going to Guell, buy tickets online and in advance for convenience and to save money.

Arguably my favorite part of Barcelona was La Rambla. It is a market with all sorts of fruits, meats, and sweets! First, we got a MUCH needed mani/pedi at Secret Spot, who did a really great job on us. They were right across from La Rambla, so we got lunch there! My favorite booths were empanadas and chocolate covered strawberries.

They also had a huge selection of candy, desserts including fun variations of crepes, and so much fruit!

For our last night, we stayed at the Hilton Diagonal Mar, which was completely opposite. Wonderful customer service, great location, and an awesome pool. Sadly, the weather was not great to go to the pool, but when it gets warmer, it will be amazing. Lastly, if looking for a fantastic breakfast place, definitely check out Metropolitan Cafe– everyone who worked there was incredibly nice and the food was delicious.

I can’t wait to go back! Comment what your favorite part would be!

Xoxo,

Grace

Ibiza in March??

I’m very used to Spring Break being when I go to a beach or somewhere warm from Texas, so this year was a little different. It has been very cold in Florence, and we wanted to go anywhere that would be warmer at all, so we thought Spain! Unfortunately, our ideas of Ibiza being a beach and great nightlife were off by a few months. It turns out everything on the island is essentially closed until things warm up.

Okay, so this may have been a mistake to go here during spring break. Did I enjoy it? Yes. Would I recommend it? No. We stayed in the best Airbnb that I definitely would recommend, but didn’t go out much. Basically the only thing we did was order Japanese food and go to a chilly beach pretending it was warm, but that was still really nice! We walked over to Playa De Talamanca and laid out for a few hours, and took these pics. Duh.

 

I’m so obsessed with all of my Triangl bikinis, but would definitely have gotten a larger top, so if considering buying this bikini, size up in the strapless ones! Also, I’ve definitely gained more than a few pounds living in Italy, but #bodyposi and all that. Love pizza.

 

I found my new favorite brunch place ever- too bad I probably won’t ever see it again! But if you visit I 100% suggest going here! It was healthy, ridiculously tasty, and right next to the beach! Passion Marina was the name, and the brunch was fantastic. We missed breakfast sadly, but the lunch was still amazing. Maddy was able to eat there, which is always a plus as she is gluten free/dairy free/sugar free. We got some delicious smoothies, and I had a goat cheese salad.

 

We really really wanted to see Es Vedra, which is apparently a stunning sunset viewpoint, but couldn’t afford the super expensive taxi to get there. So instead, we went to Ses Salines with a bottle of wine to enjoy it from there. It was really pretty, but so cold!! I would suggest to anyone visiting Ibiza- definitely go to Es Vedra. From what we heard and saw on Google, it would have been incredible.

 

This is when things got funny. A German man and woman saw us from what we assumed was a home, and knew we were cold so they invited us in! After telling ourselves we wouldn’t get murdered, we went in and realized it was more of an outside shack. It still shielded us from the wind, and we met a man named Lutz who was a caretaker of the resort on the beach. It was totally empty since the weather was still bad, so he had the place to himself. We also met his friend, Ulrike, who we found out MODELED IN PLAYBOY. What? We hung out with them for a few hours, then went home.

It was only about a full day in Ibiza, but I’m glad we didn’t spend more time there. It seems amazing when its in full swing, but we definitely went at the wrong time of year. Some places it can be beneficial to visit during off season, but I’m realizing many European places actually shut down during winter. So before visiting, make sure you find out if hotels/restaurants/clubs etc will be open!

Xoxo

Slumming it in Genoa and Nice

Maddy, Rachel, and I wanted to go to Nice badly for a while, but it was about an 11 hour bus ride so we began looking for alternatives. We ended up deciding to go through Genova, also called Genoa (confusing??) which would split the trip up into two 2.5 hour bus rides. Although we didn’t go in knowing much about Genoa, we all agreed it was one of the coolest places we have seen so far and I would definitely recommend both of these places!

In Genoa, we got there late and literally went hotel to hotel seeing which ones would take us and were affordable. We found a super cute B&B that was affordable, but surprisingly did not include breakfast! The first thing we did was go to Palazzo Reale, which was so beautiful that we had to do a mini photoshoot there.

After that, we went on a hunt for the classic colorful building/beach that you think of when you imagine Cinque Terre or Positano type of places. We were told to go to the ‘fisherman’s market’, which we were pretty skeptical about. But once we got there, it totally lived up to all our expectations. The buildings were beautiful, and the beach was really incredible.

We didn’t do much else in Genoa, but we had an amazing seafood lunch right on this beach, which is always really fun when you are so close to the water. We went on to Nice that evening. Unfortunately, the weather was absolutely horrible so we didn’t get to experience it like we should have. I will say that the market we stumbled upon was probably the highlight for me- handmade soaps, essential oils, meats, cheeses, pastries, you name it. It was pouring rain the entire time but we really loved this market and also went to a cool photography museum that was (yay!) free for students!

20180216-_X4A6253

20180216-_X4A6249

After that, we hid from the rain in the CUTEST little shop. Sadly, I am allergic to nuts and couldn’t try the macarons, but they looked like perfection. I also got a hot chocolate there which was exactly what we needed to warm us up.

After that, we were aimlessly wandering and stumbled upon what seemed to be a church and some gardens. We followed where other people seemed to be walking, and got so lucky. The view was beautiful, and even though it was still raining, we really enjoyed it. We also went to a dock kind of area to see the view, which wasn’t really that cool, but we still gawked at the yachts.

Finally, the best part of Nice was the Carnival we went to late that night. It was only one street over from our hostel, which I highly do NOT recommend, by the way. Long story that is not worth blogging about, but if you want sexual harassment and horrible customer service definitely go there! Carnival was basically an enormous parade with thousands of people in the crowd, and a huge highlight of my studying abroad so far. You can see a lot more in my Youtube video, but here are a few pictures. It featured Trump, Putin, and Kim Jong which was hilarious. There was confetti, dancers, loud music, and it was really cool to be a part of. Make sure to watch the video, and email subscribe for my next adventure!

Xoxo,

G

 

How I Snuck Into a Versace Fashion Show

Yes, you read that right. It is Milan Fashion Week 2018, and my roommate, and I decided to go. We wanted to see all of the street style during the weekend, and perhaps get a glimpse of a show. Little did we know that we would end up smack in the middle of Donatella Versace’s fall/winter collection fashion show in the Royal Palace of Milan.

We arrived this morning by train, and checked into our hotel early so that we could attempt to go shop and find outfits that looked much more expensive than our wallets actually allowed. After hurriedly rushing to and from Zara and H&M, we got ready for the night. Maddy’s outfit is mostly pieces from Zara, and my black pantsuit is from H&M. I’m all about dressing for less and this was a great addition!

Although the venue was not listed on the official Milan Fashion Week website, we did some digging and were able to find out that it would take place at the Royal Palace, or Palazzo Reale. We took a taxi there with no expectations, simply having fun getting dressed up and wanting to see what would happen. After approaching the main entrance, where we asked the security guard if we could go in without invites, shocker- he said no. So we lingered for a bit with about ten other people who seemed to have the same agenda, but decided the best move would be to wander a little bit.

We walked for a while (by the way, it was raining and in the thirties!) in what felt like a sad attempt to find the back entrance. We had just decided to give up, when a random security guard left his door to approach us. This was the one part of the night that we are still not able to figure out. He asked us if we were looking for the Versace show, to which we sadly said no, we did not have invites. Although we kept saying no, he insisted it was ‘no problem’ and pointed us to a small lit up door. Having no idea if this was even the right building, we went where he said. We took the elevator up, having literally no idea where we were going, and walked out into a bathroom kind of area. That was when we saw signs on the door that said Palazzo Reale. What?!

After venturing into the bathroom and seeing models with pins in their hair who were clearly getting ready, we gathered our nerves and followed them into an unknown room. We were asked by one guard if we had tickets, to which we said no, but he pointed us to another door. Once we walked in, we were shocked. Kaia Gerber was sitting on the floor amongst the other Versace models. We were IN the backstage dressing room with probably about ten other people.

We desperately tried not to look out of place, but felt that it was so obvious we were the only people who did not belong. After staying in there for a few minutes, and even witnessing them making video montages that we tried not to get in, we decided to walk towards ‘the light’. The dressing room led us straight to the runway, where we very inconspicuously walked out… ha. The venue was stunning. Did I mention Anna Wintour was sitting in the front row?

We had about forty minutes before the show was supposed to start, so we made it our mission to not get caught before then. We made a few friends who were our age, two girls dressed in super blingy outfits that were not exactly subtle. After exchanging a few words and pictures, a security guy came up to us asking for our surnames and asking if we were on the list. Maddy and I literally ducked out, and hid in a group of forty somethings, hoping badly that we could make it until the show started. We watched the two girls get escorted out, and were terrified that it would happen to us as well. We continued to stay out of the guards’ eye as long as we could, and then the lights dimmed. We did it. Unfortunately I can’t add my videos to this, so I’m putting a few terrible quality screenshots in here.

Our standing spot among probably less than 20 people (my estimate is 150 sitting) was right next to the head honcho of light/sound, and so we heard him say ‘go’ and then the music and the lights came up. Kaia Gerber, Gigi Hadid, and other rising models made appearances in amazing pieces from the collection. I am absolutely in love with the collection, and Kaia Gerber (in the photos above) is my new favorite model! She is only 16 years old, and killing the game. My favorite outfit from the collection was the one she wore in those pictures. Donatella came out at the end for about .5 seconds, but it was so cool just to be able to see her.

I also got to meet Nicola Peltz, one of my favorite actresses, after the show which was so exciting. She is just as beautiful in person, and was very down to earth which is refreshing! We walked out at the same time as her, which was hilarious, because paparazzi were everywhere and Maddy and I felt like celebrities. Keep an eye out for me in the tabloids.

We were exhausted after this 4 hour adventure (if you didn’t know, the shows only last about 10-15 minutes!!) so we needed to eat. Someone recommended we go to Gino’s for pizza, which was like two minutes away from the Duomo. I definitely give this place a 10/10, they gave us free champagne when we sat down! I think they thought we came from the Versace show, and technically weren’t wrong… The crust and cheese were so perfect and I would definitely suggest going here to visitors.

Hope you enjoyed reading about this insane night that I had!

Xoxo,

G