Dreamy Santorini

Just ask any of my friends or parents- I’ve been raving about wanting to visit Santorini for probably the last ten years. As a photographer, I thought it would be the most photogenic place in the world and could not wait to visit it. Well, after my study abroad program ended, I finally did! Although I will say it is very much hyped up, it is still a really cool place to see. Elizabeth and I got there early in the morning by ferry, which was so much better than I expected… We used Golden Star Ferries to get from Mykonos to Santorini which only took about an hour and was pretty reasonably priced. Once we got there, we found out that Oia, our destination in Santorini, was about forty minutes away. We were haggled by taxi drivers, but thankfully our hotel, Oia Mare Villas has free transport services! The drive up is pretty rough… shout out to my mom who I know would have been miserable in the car, ha. It was pretty easy to get nauseous, but once we were there was worth it.

 

The hotel also had a porter who came and grabbed our luggage, which we could not have survived without. Oia is made up of a million stairs, many of which are very steep, and it is not very easy if even possible to carry bags. The streets and views were gorgeous, and we were so excited to see our hotel. We had a really good experience there, but I will say it is for sure overpriced. It was over double the price of our hotel in Mykonos, which was probably nicer. The perks were really great, though. The pool was nice, but small, which I think is pretty common in the area.

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We mostly relaxed in Oia, but did a lot of shooting and one of my pictures of Elizabeth was actually featured on Triangl’s insta, yay! They are probably my favorite bikini brand, so that was pretty cool. After being fried in the sun, whoops, we went out for dinner at Thalami, which the hotel suggested to us. The food was alright, service was pretty poor, but the view was really nice. We made more kitty friends again like in Mykonos, and did a lot of exploring.

 

The shops are also really fun there, and on our last day there we had an amazing lunch at another place with a cool view. You’d think I would be sick of Italian food after my studying abroad there, but their spaghetti carbonara was delicious.

 

Later that evening, we watched the most beautiful sunset I have ever seen in my life… these pictures are barely edited!

 

 

Santorini is definitely as beautiful as people say- I wish I would have had more time! To anyone going- it’s worth spending a while here.

Xoxo,

G

Athens

I never really had Athens on my bucket list, but it was on our route to get home, and I really like it! Anyone who likes history will have a good time there, and since I just took Greek and Roman Mythology this semester, I had some background knowledge in the ruins which made it a fun thing to go see. We only had about 24 hours there, and spent a solid amount of the day laying out by the pool again. The hotel we were staying at, the Hilton Athens, has an indoor and outdoor pool, which is cool. The weather was perfect, so we chose the outdoor one, where I had a really yummy smoothie.

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We recuperated, then decided to go see some of the famous Athenian sites! The hotel was amazing about recommending a few places we could see in our short time. We did not realize that the Acropolis has lots of different buildings that were iconic, so we spent a solid amount of time looking at things like the temple of Athena. The Acropolis is quite literally on top of the city, so the view is vast.

Once we were back, we made reservations to go to the Galaxy Bar/restaurant, which is on the rooftop of the hotel. I assumed it would be pretty, but it was even better than we realized. It has one of the best views of Athens in the city, and just a really cool vibe in general. The interior has dark moody lights, and the outside has a perfect view to watch the sun set. We had two amazing cocktails, and my favorite- sushi!

On our way out, we were able to grab a quick breakfast at the Executive Lounge, which I think is a really cool feature Hiltons have. We got to munch on some tasty breakfast while enjoying the view one last time.

I was so impressed with the staff at this hotel, and the Galaxy Bar/restaurant is definitely worth checking out! Athen is super cool for anyone who knows about mythology, so read up and put this next on your vacation list 🙂

Xoxo,

Grace

Mykonos

I’m sure you have all seen the iconic pictures of places like Mykonos and Santorini, but they really do not do them justice. Elizabeth and I weren’t really sure what to expect, but were totally blown away by this area. First and foremost- there are cats everywhere! Super cute, but obviously problematic as all of them are not fixed. We arrived to Mykonos very early Friday morning to the Boheme hotel, where we were very warmly greeted. The staff was so kind and welcoming, and took our luggage while we were offered breakfast. The lobby area and pool area took our breath away, so we had some amazing omelets while we enjoyed the view.

They were able to check us in early, which was a huge plus, and gave us the keys which were a really cute touch! They are handmade and each key is different, which is special. When we went to our room, they showed us this incredible suite with a gorgeous view and a private Jacuzzi on the outside. I had such a wonderful experience with the hotel and the staff, and would recommend it to any friends going to Mykonos.

After recovering, we decided to go into town. Beware- the shopping is SO good and I am returning home dirt poor. Oh, well. We made our way towards the famous windmills, which were really cool to see in person. The town is so beautiful everywhere you look, with mostly white and blue buildings and really cool stones on the streets. All of the stores drew us in, with local paintings, handmade jewelry, and perfect souvenirs to bring back to family and friends. And although I’m sure they are all disease infested, the cats are everywhere and usually very friendly! So we made some new friends.

We were totally exhausted, so we didn’t go out, but Mykonos is supposed to have really good nightlife so I would suggest finding some fun places and taking part in that. We did go out for a sushi dinner, which was amazing. Koursaros was delicious, but super expensive, which we did not know in advance. So adults, definitely go, but students like me- probably look elsewhere.

I loved Mykonos, and hope you get to see it one day! Make sure to leave lots of room in your suitcase, because the shopping is too good. Comment your bucket list vacation below 🙂

Xoxo,

 

G

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!

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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