Monday, July 30, 2018

Italian Adventure: Venice and Milan

The last leg of my Italian Adventure was Venice and Milan in a 48 hour period. It was a marathon! 
After our time in Sorrento I was well rested and ready to complete the trip by seeing Venice and Milan. We knew we weren't going to have a lot of time, so we planned activities for each day.
We got up early on our last morning in Sorrento and took a car to Naples. Then from Naples we flew to Venice. It was such an easy flight...about an hour or so.

Once we arrived in Venice we were off! We took the shuttle from the the airport to the train station close to the center of town. Since Venice is a very small island there are no cars allowed. The shuttle dropped us off near the train station and we walked to our hotel. Now, let me explain something to you. The scenery is absolutely beautiful. But what you don't realize is that you have to WALK WITH YOUR LUGGAGE THROUGH THE CITY until you find your hotel. So there we were walking through allies, through the streets, up and down stairs, and over the canals until we find our hotel.
We had previously scheduled a tour of Murano and Burano so we were in quite a hurry to get to the pickup spot. Murano is where you go to see the glass-blowing factory. It is beautiful however, glass figurines is a very specific taste that doesn't really fit the aesthetic of my apartment. But it was very interesting to see. We also went to Burano on the second half of our tour. Burano is a very cute and quaint little town with brightly colored painted buildings. I loved that they painted the buildings and homes all the different colors so fishermen coming in could see  through the fog! So cool, right?! There were old gelato shops and restaurants all throughout this little town that were amazing. We of course stopped to get was so hot! It was absolutely beautiful. 

Top (old): Glam Envy//Shorts: Old Navy//Sandals: Report//Hat: J.Crew
Sunnies: Quay//Handbag: JustFab

After the tour we headed back to Venice and we each explored the city on her own. I walked up and down the streets and looked in the shops and restaurants. It was nice to see how people live in the small little city. It's definitely very touristy, but I enjoyed the time that I was there. One day was plenty.
The next morning we got up had breakfast and made our way to the train station. Milan was my last city in Italy and I was looking forward to it. Milan is the fashion capital of the world so I was super excited to see how the locals lived. Were they going to be completely decked out and high-end fashion? Or would they be very casual and undercover with their labels? 

When we arrived to Milan we walked to our hotel from the train station. Again, we were early so we dropped off our bags. The receptionist at the hotel was amazing. He knew we were too early to check in so he took our bags then drew a map of the city showing us where to go. 

The first stop on our adventure in Milan was the Duomo Di Milano. It was beautiful. Throughout the trip we saw so many beautiful churches and cathedrals, however this cathedral was breathtaking. There were so many amazing pieces of art and an enormous crucifix at the top center of the cathedral. It literally brought tears to my eyes because it was so stunning and so breathtaking. Unfortunately it was covered by a big screen so I could only see a portion of it. However, with what I saw I was stunned and amazed.
We each walked around the Duomo Di Milano on our own then met up at the exit. Once we were each finished we made our way to the mall. 

Now like I said before, when you're Milan you are expecting to see nothing but high end luxury shops. That is exactly what we saw! there was Versace, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Chanel, and Prada.  You name it...the gang was all there! And honestly if I could afford to shop at each of those stores, in one session I definitely would! There's something about having luxury items that just makes you feel so special. One day I'll do a post on why I prefer buying luxury items outside of the U.S. They're always a great investment and I always look for ways to save money when I'm making the investment!
We also found a cute pastry and coffee shop to sit in and have a a cup of coffee. With all the walking we did it was nice to sit and relax for a while. We each knew we were going to be walking even more. so this rest was much needed. Plus I think this was the first time we sat to reflect on the time  we spent together over the last 10 days. Milan was my last stop, but my two friends were off to Paris for an additional three days.
Ending my Italian Adventure in Milan was perfect. It was low-key and casual everywhere we went. We even had amazing Chinese food at a restaurant that also serves Italian food? I think by the end of the trip we were a bit tired of pasta so we looked for something that offered pasta as well as something else. It was odd but it was definitely delicious!

Here is some advice when it comes to traveling.
  1. Plan ahead. It was important for us to make sure we had tickets to museums. We also paid for each of our tours prior to arriving. This will save time and you'll have something to do each day! 
  2. Try to pack as lightly as possible or find a place where you can do your laundry. Nobody wants to carry around all that luggage and you will definitely end up buying things to bring home. Make sure there's room in your luggage for the items you'll be bringing back. Hopefully it's not dirty laundry.
  3. Plan time for downtime. When you take a long trip you'll definitely want to squeeze in as much sightseeing as possible. Too much sightseeing can be very exhausting, so plan time to relax. 
  4. Don't be afraid to leave the group and do things on your own. There is something to be said for exploring and taking an experience for yourself. We all experience life differently so give yourself time to do so. 
  5. Try to live like a local! Don't be afraid to talk to people and ask for recommendations for restaurants or activities. No one can give you better advice on what to do in a foreign city like a local! Plus, most people love seeing others enjoying their city. 

Traveling to Italy for 10 days was definitely a long trip to be away from home. I wouldn't change it for the world. There's something inside me that has a strong desire to see every inch of the Earth. This was definitely my chance to cross a additional country off my list. I'm so happy with my decision to go and I'm very much looking forward to my next trip...wherever that'll be!
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Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Italian Adventure: Sunshine in Sorrento

Dress: Forever21//Hat: J. Crew//Sandals: Report//Hip Bag: Jackie Robbins Leather

The third leg of our Italian Adventure was in Sorrento. Sorrento is a quaint little town in the south of Italy, also known as the Amalfi Coast. We took the train from Rome to Naples then took the Circumvesuiana down to Sorrento. Once we arrived in Sorrento we were in the land of rest and relaxation! I was the most excited about this leg of the trip because we had done so much in Rome. In Rome we literally ran ourselves ragged.
We took a cab from the town center up to our bed & breakfast , Via Gallone. Our bread and breakfast was breathtaking. When you walked in you were greeted by lemon trees, lime trees, and gardenias! The air was filled with citrus and floral fragrance. When we got to our room we were greatly surprised to see that it was much bigger than the small hotel rooms we were staying in before. We unpacked a few things showered and we were off to explore.

Sorrento is a small town, so everything is walkable. We walked down the hill to town and explored. We looked in the shops, scoped out gelato places to try, and made our way to dinner. We had dinner at a beautiful restaurant on the water. The wine was cold and delicious, and our meals were amazing! Not to mention the service was so wonderful. It's almost as if the natives of Sorrento know that they live in Paradise, so they transfer a kind a welcoming energy to all the visitors.
 On our second day in Sorrento, which was really our first official full day, we had a tour to Capri planned. We got up early had a small breakfast and headed to the pickup spot. Unfortunately, the tour bus forgot to pick us up, so we had to call. They sent a Private Car to take us to the dock where we would take a boat from Sorrento to Capri. The good news in this situation was that we missed the big boat, so we got to take a private boat from Sorrento to Capri. Being on a boat with myself and two friends was so much fun! What an experience to be on a small dingy jetting across the Tyrrhenian Sea.
We arrived in Capri and met up with the rest of the tour. We explored Anacapri, which is stunning. The views from the top of this island are amazing. Yes, it is a hike, but it is well worth it. We explored Anacapri and all of the shops. We found the most fabulous sandal maker while we were there too. 
Il Sandalo Caprese, is a small handmade sandal shop in Anacapri. Salvadatore Pandolfi has had his shop since the early 60s. He has made sandals for icons like Jacqueline Kennedy, Sophia Loren, and Brigitte Bardot. When I realized that I got to pick the leather and design the shoes myself I was super excited. Not to mention they imprinted my initials on the sandals so they are just for me! I decided to go with a very simple design of a gold straps and a brown strap across the top of my foot. Just being inside the sandal shop was such a cool experience. The process is so simple:
1.       You choose your design
2.       They measure your foot
3.       They tell you to come back within 30 minutes
4.       They finish making the shoe while it's on your foot.
It's that simple! Meeting Salvatore and the rest of the staff was so amazing. We were only there for a short time and all the staff were so kind. If I ever get a chance to go back to Capri, that they first place I will visit! Just to see Salvatore again.

After the sandal shop we headed down the hill and explored the rest of Capri. Capri is filled with shops and views better simply breathtaking. We had frozen lemonade as we took in these amazing views. Honestly, now I know why celebrities are often in Capri. It is simply stunning! When you look out into the Tyrrhenian Sea you see nothing but blue water and clear skies.
On the final portion of our tour we went to see the three limestone rocks...or shall I say boulders. These rocks are over 200 years old. They have been in countless movies and commercials. So being there was again part of a dream. This is often the image shown when people speak of Capri.
On our last full day, we spent the day relaxing by the water. The Italian Riviera is known for having beautiful views and cliffs that you can lay on and soak up the sun. Now I clearly don't need to work on my tan however, just being outside and relaxing was what I needed. We made our way to the Baths of Queen Giovanna. We hiked all the way up the hill from our bed & breakfast then down the hill to this hidden cave where this shallow body of water is. It was nice to go and see however it wasn't something that we could stay at all day. There was no space to lay down. After the baths we made our way back up the hill to a beautiful cliff where we were able to look out at the Tyrrhenian Sea. We laid there for a few hours and Sany.Delight even jumped off the cliff into the water. It looked fun, but I wasn’t about to do it!
Swimsuit: WEST47th//Headband: Zara//Sunnies: Quay Australia //Earrings: Banana Republic 

The time in Sorrento was amazing. Whenever anybody ask me about this trip, the first thing I say was “Sorrento was my favorite!” I'm not unhappy about the time we spent in Florence, Rome, and the other cities however being in Sorrento just felt comfortable. It felt like home and I was supposed to be there. I’m looking forward to the time when I can go back.  
Dress: Forever21//Hat: J. Crew//Sandals: Report//Hip Bag: Jackie Robbins Leather//Sunnies: Quay Australia 
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Sunday, July 22, 2018 Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy

Italian Adventure: Roaming Around Rome

My trip to Rome was quite the doozy! My friends and I took the train from Florence to Rome and the train ride was beautiful. We watched the countryside and admired the beautiful homes as we traveled. Once we got to Rome my first thought was "This looks nothing like Las Vegas!" However, nobody thought my jokes were funny... except for one cab driver. 

When we got off the train, we waited in the cab line for a ride to our hotel. Our first cab driver was not a real cab driver!  He waved us over and we got in his cab and five minutes later he told us it would be 18 Euros for the half a mile he took us. We paid the 18 euros then vowed for the rest of the trip that we would not ride in any cabs drivers who don't have a true meter!

The first night we were in Rome we didn't do too much. We checked into the hotel, unpacked a few things, then headed over to the Colosseum. It was raining so we were only able to look from the outside, however it was amazing! The Colosseum  is something that you look at your entire life in magazines, on postcards, and in history books. So, when you see it in person it's breathtaking. It's almost as if you are in a dream! The first night we grabbed something to eat at a local restaurant and then headed back to our hotel. We were tired from the walking already, so we figured it would be good to go to bed early and get a fresh start in the morning.

The next day we had plans to visit St. Peter's Basilica, so we were up early at about 6 in the morning! Breakfast at the hotel was at 7 a. m. and we wanted to make sure we were on the Metro early enough to get over to Vatican City. Here's something you need to know about visiting Rome: Most of the museums and Cathedrals require a reservation. So, for St. Peter's Basilica, our reservation was at 8:30 in the morning! There was no other time available, so we had to take it! St Peter's Basilica is beautiful! When you're in Rome and you see all the breathtaking architecture you stand there in awe trying to figure out how long it took them to build these sites without the technology we have today. Because we went so early to St. Peter's Basilica, we were also able to squeeze in the Colosseum, the Pantheon, and the Spanish Steps on the same day! 
Here's another thing you need to understand about Italian weather. When the sun is shining it's beautiful! However, in the summertime it is hot! Now when I say hot I don't mean humid or regular ol' California hot. I mean hot like something you've never been in before. I'm a true Southern California girl, and that Italian heat was literally going to kill me! It felt like the sun was following me around tapping me on the shoulder for 10 days! It was the hottest in Rome! And when you visit the cathedrals you are require to have your shoulders and legs covered! Shorts and a tank top or a cute dress is COMPLETELY out of the picture! We were dying from the heat. 

After visiting St. Peter's Basilica, we headed over to the Colosseum. The Colosseum is mind-blowing! To think that Gladiators were there, and it was previously covered in marble is something I'm still trying to wrap my mind around. We walked through the Colosseum, took pictures, listened to tour guides, and took it all in. We also walk through the additional ruins that are outside of the Colosseum. That's something so interesting as well. You're literally walking through ruins of an old city! 
Jumpsuit: Rebdolls//T-Shirt: Old Navy//Sneakers: Dr. Scholls//Sunnies: Quay Australia//Hip Bag: Jackie Robbins Leather + Jewelry

After the Colosseum we took a taxi to the Pantheon. We almost got swindled by another cab driver again, but I had him pull the car over and let us out. I didn't see the proper meter, so I knew he was going to charge us too much. We were able to catch a proper cab and get to the Pantheon. The Pantheon is another beautiful church with architecture that's breathtaking. We walked around and admired the artwork and architecture of the Pantheon then headed to the Spanish Steps. Once we got to the Spanish Steps, we each took a moment to take in the breathtaking view. I went off on my own to sit on the steps and people watch for a bit. (I was also able to scope out some places where I wanted to shop later! There's some fabulous shopping across from the Spanish Steps.) After visiting the Spanish Steps, we went back to the hotel, rested for a while, and each of us went our own separate ways until dinner. I went back to the hotel and took a nap. I knew I wanted to go back out and get some shopping in. Sany.Delight went off to explore the city on her own as well as our other friend. It was nice for each of us to take time to enjoy and soak in the city in our own way.
On our third day in Rome, we had reservations to go to the Vatican. Getting reservations to the Vatican is not easy. It's the most visited museum in the city so we were very fortunate to get reservations for 8 a.m. It was early, but we took it! The Vatican museum is unlike what I expected. I was expecting to see a big church. But what I saw was beautiful art that has been collected over hundreds of years from Popes, Priests, and Kings. I made my way straight to the Sistine Chapel. When you get to the Sistine Chapel you must immediately lower your voice. The lights have been dimmed and you are in a huge room with all the other patrons. Pictures are not allowed, because they want you to buy the merchandise but when you look up you see the artwork that you've been looking at in history books for years. My friends and I purchase the audio tour and we listened to information as we stared at this beauty. It was truly amazing. To be looking at this artwork in person is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I don't know the next time I'll be in Rome at the Sistine Chapel. I don't even know the next time I'll be in Rome! So, taking the time to visit all of these beautiful historic sites was something like a dream.
After the Vatican we headed over to the Trevi Fountain. This is something that Las Vegas has gotten inspiration from! The Trevi Fountain dates back to the 1700s and is the greatest fountain you'll ever see in your entire life. There are so many people standing around it trying to get the best shot that it was even hard for me, at all girl, to get a good picture. 
We did so much in our 2 1/2 days in Rome. I was honestly more exhausted than I've ever been in my entire life. But it was all worth it! We saw so much, absorbed so much history, and ate amazing food! Oh...and I drink a lot of wine! It was so cheap...I had to!

Below is the link to the hotel we stayed in the restaurants we enjoyed the most! Also, check out the Omnia Pass. It was our entry into all of the museums and was a metro pass. It's a great bang for your buck! 

Monday, July 16, 2018

Lemon Flavored

Dress: c/o JustFab//Sunnies: Le Specs//Handbag: Gucci//Sandals: Sam Edelman//Watch: Michael Kors// Earrings: Banana Republic(old) 

One of my favorite things about being in Sorrento this summer was seeing lemons everywhere! I mean the beach was AMAZING, but the lemons were really something else! You'll definitely see lemons all throughout Italy, but you see them in Sorrento like no other! Limoncello, lemon gelato, lemon Italian ice, you name it! It was all there. I even bought some lemon scented soap and the cutest tea towels. Lemons and the color yellow always make me think of summer time and being outside. Besides, we add lemons to all of our favorite summer drinks for that special pizzazz!

When I  saw this dress I knew it would be perfect for my time in Sorrento. I wore it to dinner and I fit right in with the scenery perfectly! It was like I was meant to be there (from this blog to God's ears). Am I the only one who plans their vacation outfits according to the scenery?
 photo Courtney_zpsa7ea05a2.png

Friday, July 13, 2018 Florence, Metropolitan City of Florence, Italy

Italian Adventure: Florence

Dress: ASOS//Sunnies: PERVERSE//Sandals: Franco Sarto

I was fortunate to be able to spend 10 days in Italy during the late part of June and early July. It was a dream. Italy had always been on bucket list so I was so excited that I was going! During the 10 days we visited Florence, Rome, Sorrento, Venice, and Milan. I was a little worried to squeeze so much in during the 10 days but looking back, there was no other way to see it all. I researched and planned as much as I could to absorb as much of the culture as possible. I planned to see every statue, all of the architecture, and drink as much wine as possible! It was truly a whirlwind adventure.

First stop on the adventure was Florence. I was meeting Sany.Delight and a friend in Florence because they were attending a wedding. So I flew in from LAX two days behind them. It was actually wonderful. If you've never traveled alone or flown alone, it is actually really relaxing to take quiet time to yourself and take in the realization that you are traveling to another country. Unfortunately my first flight was not great. My row mate was extremely rude and thought it was appropriate to put your feet in the chair as if you were at home lying on your couch! The second flight was fine. I had a 90 minute flight from Zurich Switzerland to Florence Italy. Once I landed in Florence I looked for a taxi and headed to the AirBnB. The AirBnB was Ok. I knew we weren't going to be there long so I sucked it up, showered and hit the town.

On my first night in Italy I didn't have much time to sight see because of the time difference and it was going to be dark soon. So I made sure I caught the sunset and walked over to the Ponte Vecchio Bridge. The Ponte Veccho Bridge is often referred to as the 'Old Bridge' and has roots dating back to 966. It has been rebuilt twice and survived World War II. Its beauty is something like you have never seen. When the sunset hits the water the sight of the bridge is breathtaking. I literally thought to myself when I looked at it, "Wow, this is so magical."
That night I had a pizza and a glass of wine at a small restaurant by the AirBnB. I wanted to soak up the energy of the city and enjoy being in a country I'd only dreamt of visiting.

The next day we walked through the city. We grabbed a quick breakfast of pastries and coffee. I quickly got used to the small Italian breakfast. I'm used to a traditional American breakfast with eggs and bacon, but the Italians don't spend too much time on breakfast. It's usually a fresh pastry with a cup of espresso. Or in my case, an Americano. 

We explored the Galleria dell' Accademia and saw Michelangelo's David. We tried to get into the Duomo but unfortunately weren't able to get an appointment. In the end everything worked out because we spent the day exploring this beautiful city. We admired the architecture at every corner. The doors to the builds were so grandiose and breath taking and at times we would stop and stare. At a door I know but it was just so beautiful. To think that this amazing architecture was done without all of  the technologies we have today is MIND BOGGLING. 
A definite highlight of my short time in Florence was having lunch at Gucci Osteria da Massimo Bottura. Alongside the Gucci Garden, a unique museum dedicated to the iconic style of the Gucci label, there is a fabulous restaurant. The menu is designed by Michelin starred chef Massimo Bottura.  The food was wonderful. My risotto dish was decadent and full of flavor. This fine dining experience was one that will definitely go down in the books. 
The first leg on my Italian adventure was a success! Its too bad it was only 36 hour is this romantic city! Off to Rome! 
 photo Courtney_zpsa7ea05a2.png
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