Europe

Venice in Pictures

I found this draft post, tagged with photos uploaded and the works scheduled for March 1st... 2017! What is even worse is that these photos were from my trip to Venice in 2013!!! So here they are 5 years later. and although they are not the best quality (yay for improving photography skills) let's just say this post is for closure.

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A Porto AirBnB for Three

The problem with blogging about my travels is that I take FOREVER to blog about my travels.

But better late than never right? I want to share more about my trip to Europe last summer, the trip that happened before my sudden move to Los Angeles. Lets start with my Porto Airbnb!

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My partner, his brother and I stayed in this cozy and eclectic apartment (Ai, Porto - Family & Friends) on the top floor of a typical residence near the University of Porto. Although the climb to the top is as grueling as the steepest of Porto's streets, the balcony and view from above was worth it.

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Our hosts obviously took a lot of time decorating, and I particularly appreciated the lush plants everywhere, gifts of port and chocolate, and the design magazines throughout the apartment. The only possible downside to this spot is that there is no kitchen, but considering how much amazing food Porto had to offer this was not a problem for us at all.

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All in all this was an place to write home about and made our time exploring Porto that much more memorable.

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5 Restaurants to Try in Barcelona

I have become pretty good at planning vacations. I scour the internet for the best neighborhoods, museums, shopping and the like. But one thing I tend to struggle with is food. I am the type that can go from having a blast to being hangry in the matter of an hour so being around good food options while traveling is a must. But at the same time I HATE eating at tourist traps. It is the saddest things for me to spend on of my few meals on vacation at a place that over charges you for the poor imitation or watered down version of a local cuisine. That is why I have to share some of the best place I at at on this trip to Barcelona.

For a full foodie day start off with a coffee here. Satan's coffee corner is small, quasi-hidden spot in the gothic quarter serving up rich brunch dishes, pastries, and excellent coffee. Hipster vibes are abound, and they're only compounded by the super slow and apathetic service. But despite this you can't help but feel a little cooler leisurely drinking your coffee here, and the food certainly makes up for it. 

For a proper breakfast head to Bubó Bar, right next door to world renown Bubó patisserie. If you are an eggs and bacon kind of person (like I often am!) you might be hard pressed to find it at other places in Barcelona. Especially if you are looking to avoid the very touristy places. Luckily there is Bubó Bar, situated right in from to Santa Maria del Mar Cathedral. Tables are limited, but their farm fresh eggs and incredible breads and pastries are worth the wait.

If you love a good donut then definitely pop into Chök, located in the heart of Las Ramblas. If you don't love donuts, who are you? No but in all seriousness, there are goodies for everyone here including truffles, churros, and other beautiful and artisanal pastries. Beware though, choosing just one is nearly impossible.

For cocktail hour and tapas you must go to El National. It is located in Eixample neighborhood (read more about Barcelona's various neighborhoods in this post) on the main stretch of Passeig de Gràcia. This parking garage turned high end "gastronomic experience" is beautifully designed and won't break the bank. There are several areas and bars to choose from including a tapas bar, oyster bars, cured meats bar and more.

For dinner you'll need to head to the beach for authentic paella that is rumored to be the best in Barcelona. Xiringuito Escribà is a spot on the boardwalk serving up seafood and sangria like none other I've had before. You can even watch your paella get cooked up in their open kitchen, but likely you'll be more focused on the seaside views or whatever delicious appetizer is in front of you.

Special shout out to Sal for being our foodie guru throughout this trip and leading us to many delicious meals!

 

Minimalist Packing: Summer in Europe

I have wanted to do a minimalist wardrobe packing post of ages! And I am finally organized (with enough photos) to do one. This post is essentially a what I made, what I wore, and how to pack light (one of my travel resolutions!) all in one. Although, it doesn't include the few electronics or toiletries I brought along with me, and for the sake of not droning on forever those will have to wait for another time.

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Clothing

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For my 2 weeks in Europe this September, easy day dresses (that are easy to wash if needed) were my go to. I prefer simple silhouettes that can be worn with any shoe like the ones pictured above and below. The black one on the top left is a tencel number from Zara's Join Life collection, and the one on the right is a just a striped t-shirt dress.

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Again with the easy dresses, and these two I made! If you follow me on Instagram, you'll know I love to get my sew on (this girl over here is really getting to her slow fashion). And this summer I challenged myself to make as many garments as I needed to take along with me to Europe instead of buying new stuff. In total, I made 2 dresses, a skirt, 2 tops, a necklace and a bag for this trip! On the left, you'll see I am wearing a me-made grey and white striped linen shift dress with a v-neck, and on the right a boxy cotton number that ended up being perfect for the beach.

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When packing for longer trips I stick to what I love to wear, that generally means denim, stripes, linen, and tees. Some of my most worn tops were a self-made navy striped breton top tee, a self-made black linen top, my Everlane white linen tank and navy boxy tee. I also packed 2 more striped items, one a shirt dress and the other a t-shirt dress, because I can never have enough stripes. On the bottom, I kept it super minimal with a pair of black high waisted jeans, denim cut-off shorts, and a black linen wrap skirt that I drafted and made myself!

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outerwear

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Outerwear can take up a lot of precious real-estate in your carry on so I bring items that are layerable on the plane and can work with every outfit I pack. This year my denim trucker jacket was the savior of cooler mornings and evenings. And an item I never leave at home is my 4-year-old Uniqlo Ultra Light puffer jacket. This thing is light enough to fit under any jacket for added warmth but thin and light enough to get tucked away in the smallest of handbags. When all else fails and I just couldn't bear to wear either of those layers, I would just steal my boyfriends grey cardi, because after all sharing is caring.

Shoes

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Shoes, much like outerwear, is bulky and if you are like me you probably have a very hard time keeping this category to a minimum. But now I have a pretty tried and true method of packing footwear when I am planning a variety of activities. I forget about heels, I may wear them once for a few hours but the nuisance of packing isn't worth it. Instead, I opt for a simple, versatile and comfortable sandal that can be dressed up like my broken in Madewell leather sandals on the left. I also always pack my rubber Havaianas that double as a house slipper and beach sandal. And finally I have a walking/travel sneaker like my Supergas on the right, this is the shoe that will bail you our when your dogs are barking after days on days of exploring.

accessories & bags

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Last but not least the accessories! This is the key to variety in my outfits when I pack light. I usually have a pair of earrings or two, a bracelet and a couple of necklaces tucked away. A scarf, and belt that can be work at the hip or natural waits is always useful. And then a pair (or two) of sunglasses.

As for bags, I am not much of a minimalist, but fortunately, the bags I take can fit within one another and take up very little space. I use a Fjallraven backpack as my hand luggage while traveling. I find that the wrap around zipper just makes accessing all the stuff in my bag so much easier when on the go, and it fits a lot without being heavy or bulky. I also always have simple tote bag squirreled away for those moments when I need to stash a layer or pack up a beach blanket. But for nicer dinners or slightly dressier outfits, I take a small black leather cross body bag. It is simple enough to wear during the day but looks nice enough for a night out. And finally, this year I took a special beach bag I made from a clothesline. Normally I would probably skip this item but since I made it and love it I brought it with me and did get a bit of use out of it on our beach days.

And that is everything! All of this (plus my toiletries) fit comfortably into my lovely Away carry on. I will be writing a review on this suitcase soon, I wanted to use a few times first before posting, and now I finally have seen both the good and the bad and can give a comprehensive review.

I hope this packing summary helps anyone who is trying to pack a bit lighter. Let me know if you have any packing hacks or holy grail items!

Amazing Beaches You'll Want To Add To Your Bucket List

If you Google 'world's most beautiful beaches' you are sure to find listicles naming pristine places in Greece, the Carribean Islands, the Phillipines and definitely Hawaii. But in addition to those dreamy destinations I want to share 5 beaches I absolutely adore. And once you see these photos I am sure you'll be adding them to your bucket list too!

In no particular order here they are...

Coastal Catalonia 

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Coastal Catalonia is the southeastern most area of Spain on the Mediterranean Sea. Well known for being home to the beautiful city of Barcelona, this area is all home to many stunning beach towns with even more impressive beaches than those of Barceloneta Beach (pictured above).

Costa Rica

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Costa Rica has some of the most diverse beaches, especially considering it is a small country. It is located on the Central American isthmus that connects North and South America. This geography gives it warm Caribbean waters (and vibes) to the east and cooler Pacific waters to the west.

Cote d'Azur 

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The French Rivera, or Cote d'Azur, is known for is pebbly beaches and oh so relaxed French-ness. The Riviera spans the southern coast of France so there are many beach towns from Marseille to Nice (pictures above) from which to choose.

Italian Riviera

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A bit further south of the French Riviera you will find the Italian Riviera. Rocky like it's French counterpart, it is home to Cinque Terre and many cliffside villages. At the base of the mountains are exquisite waters perfect for sunning beside and dipping in after an incredible Italian seafood pasta.

Riviera Maya

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And the so called Mexican Riviera (aka Riviera Maya)... *swoon*. Last year I fell in love with the beaches (and everything else) in Tulum and nearby Coba. These beaches are unspoiled, and if you are traveling from the US like myself, easy to get to. I mean just look at these waters! Who doesn't want to be there right this moment!?!

So there you have it, 5 bucket list worthy beach destinations! Which beaches would you add to this list? Share them in the comments below!