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

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!

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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

London For Less Than 24 Hours

As many of you know, I am studying in Florence this semester (February to May)! My dad and I decided to make a trip out of it, and we first went through London. We flew the absolute cheapest way possible, which is definitely an option for those who are interested. I believe we paid close to $200 a person for our flights to London one way, which is really quite affordable. We kept laughing, though, because our low prices were EARNED. We flew from Austin to Vegas, Vegas to OSLO, NORWAY, and then Oslo to London. The flights were exhausting, and the Oslo flight was actually hilarious. We had to walk outside and get on a bus in the literally freezing cold, where it was raining/snowing, and then go get on our plane. The plane, by the way, did not recline, even have tray tables, or offer free drinks. Also, serious disclaimer- most of the flights we had to pay a lot of extra for my luggage. Normally, we would have been fine, but we had 4 suitcases, two of which were overweight. So when booking cheap flights, make sure the luggage fees won’t get you.

Once we go to London, we stayed in an Airbnb in South Kensington. Huge mistake- we got off the train from the airport to our place one stop too early and had to take an hour and a half uber. Oops. That night, we had the BEST pizza that I have had so far in Europe. Yes, that includes Italy! Our Airbnb host recommended Franco Manca, which we walked to, and it was absolutely amazing. I had a cheese pizza with goat cheese, artichoke, and tomato on it. It seemed that the employees were Italian, so maybe that explains it. Both me and my dad could not speak highly enough of this place, so definitely go if you are looking for good pizza in that area.

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After sleeping, we woke up early to go hit the tourist spots of London. First, we went to the Tower of London and walked across the bridge. The tower is really incredible, but we did not have time to go in. I do remember going in when I was a child, and being amazed, so for sure do that if you have time! After that, we met one of my friends from Belmont, Micaela! We met at Westminster Abbey and did a short walk through. People varying from Charles Darwin to famous queens are buried there, so that is worth a look. We also ventured over to Buckingham Palace, which is beautiful. The gates and the general area are very cool to look at. Finally, we went to the London Eye for a ride. Sadly, there was quite a line and we were unaware that the ride takes 40 minutes! So we left to the train station that was taking us to Paris. We were bummed that we did not really get a good look at Big Ben, but it was being cleaned so it was harder to see and we ran out of time for other things. London is not my favorite place to visit, but I want to go back just to see some of the things I missed this time around. Comment your favorite things to do in London below!

(My cute sunnies are from Beehive Boutique !)

Xoxo

G

Paris: What to Do and Where to Stay

It’s official. I am in love with Paris.

I had visited Paris last when I was 11 years old, and now, 10 years later, I am 21! My dad and I took the train to Paris from London, which is crazy because it goes under the channel. The ride was so short, and we arrived to our hotel, the Hilton Paris Opera, in the evening. When we got there, I was so excited to see that the hotel was gorgeous, and a perfect location. They had even left a sweet note for me in the room, some wine, and a mug! The small things 🙂 We only really had a day to explore Paris, which would be hard, so we wanted a genuine Parisian dinner before the next day. The hotel recommended a restaurant right across the street called Mollard, which I thought was fabulous. Another wonderful thing the hotel did was give us a voucher for free champagne, which is a really great little touch.

Mollard is modern but feels very old in the best way possible- the interior is stunning and has pink, turquoise, and gold accents that put you in another century. Both the hotel and restaurant were antique and made the European experience even better. Although I was incredibly skeptical, my dad encouraged me to try the escargot. I did, but did not love it. It was not as awful as I had expected, but I would probably not try it again. The apple tart, however, is the dessert I would definitely recommend to visitors. Real apple slices with a scoop of ice cream on top were perfection.

We went to sleep after dinner, and the hotel provided lavender scented sleep spray which actually was very effective! We accidentally slept in, so we quickly got up to go to the Montmarte district and see the Sacre Couere, a Roman Catholic church and minor basilica. Although the basilica was beautiful, my favorite part was the view of the city. From here, you can see an amazing landscape of Paris. Next, we went to lunch at L’Avenue, which I really liked. It was in the Champs-Elysees area close to the Eiffel tower, and is a place that makes you feel VIP. The vibe of the restaurant was very stylish and the food was excellent.

 

The Eiffel tower, as obvious as it is, is such a cool thing to see. Our mistake was standing in line to buy tickets to get onto the elevator- it was too late for us the day of, but I 100% suggest buying them online the day before. Even though the weather was freezing, there was still quite a line. But, the view was worth it. The city is so beautiful from above. After the Eiffel, we had our taxi driver drive us through the Arc De Triomphe, which was so exciting to see! Bad experience though- the taxi driver tried to rip us off. Travel tip**: never forget to make sure their meter is running! We did not look, and so he tried asking for triple what it should have cost. Last, we went to the Louvre. Unfortunately, we only had about an hour, when the Louvre deserves a few hours. I would definitely recommend going with time on your hands. The art is beautiful and it takes time. We had dinner at Hotel Costes, which was also really cool. You need reservations, and the restaurant has a DJ and dimmed lights. It feels almost like a club, but not at all overwhelming. The food was delicious.

That concluded our trip! Make sure to book Hilton next time you go, and check out the places I mentioned! Comment below your fav things to do in Paris!

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Xoxo

G

Cali Christmas

What’s better than Christmas? Christmas in LA when the weather in Texas is freezing. My family and I went to Palm Desert and Los Angeles over the break, and hit all the touristy spots. We flew in and out of LAX even though we were going to Palm Desert first, because that airport regularly cancels. We went to visit my grandparents and aunt and uncle there, which was really nice. Although there are not many things to do in Palm Desert other than take pretty pictures and golf, it was nice to relax. I also splurged on a Gucci belt, so obviously felt the need to take a thousand pictures. Everything is really gorgeous in that area, so I had a photoshoot with my siblings and we did some adventuring around.

 

We were only there for a little bit, then we rented a car and drove to LA. I would 10/10 recommend using airbnb. This particular host rents out penthouses to people on airbnb. It was cheaper than a nice hotel would have been, but with stunning views. Our first day in LA, we drove over to the Santa Monica Pier and spent a few hours there. Although I have been a few times, I really enjoy this every time I go. The booths and performers on the pier are hilarious, and the carnival activities are really fun- especially with a family. We also took some pictures under the pier and walked along the beach- it is a great way to spend a few hours. (P.S. my fun leggings can be bought here!)

After the pier, I made my family try poke bowls, which were not entirely a hit… haha. I still recommend poke places- especially where you know the fish is fresh. A good rice, salmon, tuna, avocado, seaweed salad, and (I tried something new) mango combo is delicious! Once we were done with Santa Monica, we headed over to the Getty Museum. Although it was super cool, we didn’t realize that we would get there just an hour before it closed. I had no idea how huge it was, and so we barely were able to cover any ground. So I would recommend giving yourself a few hours to tour it- all the art and architecture was unbelievable. We also got lucky with a gorgeous sunset (which shows up in the youtube video here !!). Dinner was at Bottlefish, which my grandparents suggested to us. I do not have enough good words for this place! The service was incredible, and the food too. If you ever make your way over there, I would suggest trying some of their oysters, their lobster avocado toast, and dumplings!

Our second day started out with a fun angel wings sign and a gorgeous hike (ish) to look at the Hollywood sign. Unfortunately, I did not do my research beforehand, and literally google mapped us to ‘the Hollywood Sign’. Don’t do this! Google different places you can see it from, because we accidentally went to the Griffith Observatory where they told us it was a 6 mile total hike. That is not ideal for our group. We eventually left and went to Lake Hollywood Park, where we only had to walk for maybe ten minutes to get this view.

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We were nice and ready for our smoothies we got afterwards, at Urth Caffe on Melrose. They are so yummy always and the area around it is so cute. I got a strawberry mango smoothie and a blueberry muffin, which shockingly seemed relatively healthy. Really good shopping and some fun walls like the one below!

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Finally, we wound up shopping on (where else?) Rodeo Drive for the last few hours of our day. Parking is always ridiculously expensive and we didn’t buy much, but the people watching and sight seeing can be the best part. The store designs and structures are always gorgeous, and my personal favorite is YSL. We were exhausted after that, so that was the rest of our trip! An unexpected surprise was that we were not done. Our flight was leaving at noon, and I found this ah-mazing shooting space on Peerspace! We coordinated with Carol, who owns and decorates Ragdoll Pink Palace AKA the cutest pink space ever. We had to be super quick to make our flight in the morning, but still got some really fun shots. Would totally recommend her space.

Up next, headed to London/Paris/Florence with my dad! Make sure to follow the blog to stay updated 🙂

xoxo,

G

Winter in NYC!

I went with my family to New York for my Thanksgiving break this year, and it could not have been more fun. Although we only had four days, we jam packed so many fun touristy and non-touristy things in as we could. When we usually travel, we do it with the extended family and have a bigger budget, but this time it was just us! So I’m going to give some recommendations on how to minimize spending while there, and on the spots we enjoyed the most! My biggest tip for saving money would be taking the subway everywhere you can. We took a taxi or an uber just twice, and it was as much as it cost to buy one person a subway ticket for a week. You can walk anywhere from a subway station- they are literally everywhere.

The first night, we got into JFK pretty late, so we only had time for dinner. We went to Ellen’s Stardust Diner, which I was skeptical about. We had to stand in line for a while, which I am never a fan of, but it was totally worth the wait. The diner is a place where aspiring Broadway performers serve as the waitstaff, and are constantly performing musical numbers as you eat your meal. The singing was super fun, and the food was actually way better than I expected. We got the fried mac and cheese bites which were heavenly, and 10/10 would order the salted caramel shake again.

Day 2:

The next morning, we went to the “Top of the Rock”, which had the most unbelievable view. It is an observational deck at the Rockefeller center, and we ascended to the 67th floor. My siblings and I were shocked when we saw the views… words do not do it justice so I put some of my favorite pictures below. This was probably my favorite thing we did, and I would hugely recommend doing it. It did start raining at the end though, so make sure you go on a clear day!

After this, we went to lunch at a delicious little Italian place called Nino’s 46. It was fairly good, but not the best place we ate at while there. I do have to say, though, that the server was overly nice and made the experience better. We then walked around Rockefeller center and saw the cute shops and ice skating rink, and since it was holiday time, there were lots of really fun decorations and sculptures/trees. Next, we went to see the Rockettes! Even if you are a boy and think you would hate this show, I would also 10/10 recommend. My dad, who falls asleep in every show he ever goes to, stayed awake the whole time and loved it. If you don’t know, they are a group of line dancers and are so talented. The Christmas show is a really cool experience.

For dinner, we went to a super nice Pan-Asian restaurant called Tao Uptown. It was honestly amazing. We got sushi, fried rice, and things like that, and the vibe of the restaurant was very chill. The lights are dimmed and the music is good, and you feel like a VIP. It was expensive though, so don’t go if you are trying to save money. I did really like the area it was in, too- the Trump Tower and lots of designer stores like Gucci and Louis Vuitton were next door which are always fun to walk by.

Day 3 (Thanksgiving) :

The Macy’s Day Parade was happening, but we decided to avoid all the congestion and just do our own thing. I have heard from many people that a parade in New York in the winter is not worth the cold, and just to watch on TV. We planned to go to Union Square and shop around the Holiday Market, but it was closed! We were pretty disappointed that a holiday market would be closed on a holiday. So we went on to our Thanksgiving ‘dinner’ (lunch) at Jane, a cute little restaurant on Houston. I really liked how they had their menu- there were starter options, entree options, and dessert options, and you pick one from each category. Safe to say we were stuffed. After that, we still wanted to do some Holiday market shopping, so we went to Bryant Park instead. They had the cutest little booths and I ended up buying some posters which I’m sure you will see later (Home tour blog post?). We walked around Times Square for a while, which is always really cool to see, day or night.

 

Day 4:

We started out this day with my new favorite place (call me basic), Central Park. It was so refreshing seeing a gorgeous park full of colorful trees when the rest of the city is so urban and developed. We walked around for about an hour, and even took our family pictures! The fall colors were beautiful and y’all who know us well will see the picture on our Christmas Card.

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For lunch, we ate at a restaurant called Carmine’s that was probably my favorite of all of the ones we went to. It was an Italian ‘family-style’ restaurant in Times Square, and had some of the best Italian food I’ve had. All of their plates come out huge and can feed 3-4 people. We totally underestimated this, so if you go, UNDER ORDER! We had way too much food at most meals, especially this one. We got the Penne Alla Vodka and Chicken Scallopini, which were heaven on earth.

After that, we walked to an unknown destination (thanks, mom) and did not know what to expect. We walked by a theater which was showing Wicked, and my troll of a dad joked about wishing we could afford tickets. It was at the Gershwin theater, and we walked in!! I was totally shocked, but we had tickets to be third row to one of my all time favorite musicals. Major shoutout to my grandparents for hooking us up. The cast was unbelievably talented, and seeing their faces for once really made it special. For dinner, we had reservations, but didn’t end up liking the place or being hungry. So (it was black Friday, after all) we did some shopping! We ended up eating dinner at a hole in the wall Japanese place. Those are always perfect, and the sushi we got was so fresh. Sadly, this was our last night.

I hope this was helpful to anyone traveling to New York soon, and to everyone else who is dreaming of the city that never sleeps! Let me know in the comments if y’all have other places to see and things to eat that the people need to know about!

XOXO

G