Hidden Treasures in Rome

The best part of Rome is that  you will almost always come across some ancient site or church, even when you aren’t looking for one. The cobblestone streets are very charming and it is easy to just wander and get lost, which is what my friends and I happily did almost every day.

roaming1roaming8Piazza Navona
roaming9roaming7Largo Argentina. This is where Brutus stabbed Caeser (~Mean Girls ~)

Oftentimes after dinner, we would wander around the city for hours. It seemed so huge, yet once you figure it out it is really easy to get around! Don’t use the metro-just walk! We spent a lot of time near the Spanish Steps/Spagna because there were great restaurants and amazing shops that you could easily walk to.

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My favorite sunglasses are from Dolce and Gabbana
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Living in Roma

Last year, I studied abroad in Rome for four months. It’s safe to say that I know some of the best places to eat, shop and site see, and a lot hidden treasures that you might not find in your typical guide to the city. It is one of my favorite places in the world and I miss it (and the pasta!) everyday.

When we first arrived after an 8 hour flight, it was a bit of a culture shock! Especially for me as I barely knew any Italian.

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But, we immersed ourselves in Italian culture immediately! Starting with getting a typical Italian breakfast at a local cafe. Breakfast isn’t really a thing in Italy, besides grabbing an espresso. We lived near a great cafe in Garbatella, called Eden Caffe.

rome3rome2This was our typical breakfast before we started cooking at home! Cornetto con nutella and a cappuccio, per favore.

It is amazing to live so close to some of the most beautiful and well known sites in the world. As we were trying to find dinner our first night out, we got out of the metro and the Colosseum was right in front of us.

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Being typical tourists we settled on a tourist trap for dinner. We thought the food was good but we had no idea what Italy had to offer. My one suggestion for restaurants is to never go into a restaurant where there are a lot of tourists! Go find the Italians!

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Rigatoni alla Cacio e Pepe

Cacio e Pepe is my favorite dish in the whole world and I pretty much ate it at every restaurant we went to. I’m a bit of a Cacio e Pepe expert. I will share my favorite restaurants in one of my following Roma posts!

Completely amazed by our first night in Rome, we navigated the metro back to our apartment in Garbatella.

We lived near an area called Testaccio where there are restaurants, night clubs, and markets. So, the next day with our group from school we headed to il Mercato di Testaccio. It has amazing food and produce!

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Our first week in Rome was orientation. We were taught basic Italian phrases, which cafes to go to, and how to get around. We also went to a vineyard outside of Rome, where we had a typical Italian lunch. Tons of bread, meats, and cheese. Followed by pasta and meat. And wine!

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This was a very good vegetable lasagna.

While I was a little bit homesick for a couple days, I was having so much fun that I forgot about it! I have so much to share from the best 4 months ever!

xo, Kate

 

Foodies in London!!!

I love food. I love a lot of different kinds of food and I love trying new food. Studying abroad definitely gave me the opportunity to try food that I would not normally eat like escargot, pork belly, and spleen(which is disgusting, don’t try it).

When I first told my friends I was going to London, I was told that the food was not good. I was really surprised, as my favorite blog The Londoner always has London restaurant suggestions that look amazing! I tried one of her suggestions, called Hot Box, and it was delicious. Here are some pictures from Hot Box’s Facebook page….

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Although these are not my pictures, this is the food that Daisy and I ordered. I would highly recommend the Eggs Benedict (with pork belly), as well as the pancakes! And get tea!

The atmosphere is great, and the dinner menu and bar menu look amazing!

Pretty much as soon as we were done lunch, we were trying to figure out dinner. One of the hardest things about going to a new city is that you don’t know the good restaurants. Eventually, we settled on some BBQ in Soho at Pitt Cue Co. As Americans, we were skeptical of BBQ in London, but the food was delicious. In Italy, our diet consisted mostly of pizza and pasta, so it was nice to have some meat and french fries. Their new location is in Devonshire Square!

The following day, sadly my last day, I was by myself because my friend Daisy left early in the morning. I decided to return to Harrods, Regent Street, Buckingham Palace and Hyde Park. There was perfect weather in London, so I spent a couple hours reading in Hyde Park. In the afternoon, I realized that I had not gone to Notting Hill! So that is exactly where I went; I walked up and down Portobello Road, bought small souvenirs, and planned exactly where I would like to live in the neighborhood. I also discovered an amazing lunch spot called GAIL’s!

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The Wild Mushroom Ragu was the perfect lunch, washed down with lots of tea!

I could have spent all day wandering in Notting Hill, but sadly I had to make my way to Heathrow to fly back to Rome, which is actually not that sad! I have so many great experiences to share from my time in Roma, the Eternal City!

xo, Kate

 

Adventures in London

After seeing The Mousetrap on our first night, we went to a local pub for fish and chips, which you must eat if you are in England!

As tourists, our first stop the next morning was Buckingham Palace, which is beautiful. One of the most amazing thing about London are the parks that are scattered around the city. St. James Park and Green Park are located next to Buckingham palace and from the park, you can see the London eye.

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As you walk through the parks, there are flowers blooming and swans swimming in the ponds. The day we walked through the parks was idyllic. In typical English fashion, the clouds quickly came and the sun was gone but lucky for us it didn’t rain that much. Eventually, we stumbled upon Kensington Palace, which was beautiful and we were lucky enough to go into the gift shop and buy a bunch royal themed gifts.

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We were hoping to spot Kate and William, which we didn’t. But atleast, we got to go inside their home! After we got the itch to shop in the gift shop, we headed to Brompton Road to find Harrods. Daisy and I immediately fell in love with Harrods, but not the prices. Everything was beautiful and expensive. Certain floors have little shops like Cath Kidston where you can get gifts, which is where we actually bought stuff. There is also a gigantic food court, with the most delicious food and tea. I returned to Harrods every day while in London because I loved it so much!

I think I found my next house! This was in a little neighborhood on our way to find the shops.

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This was one of the displays set up in Harrods.

Having spent a couple hours in Harrods, we decided on finding dinner. That night we went to Brasserie Zedel which is right next to Picadilly Circus. We ate at the bar and the food was good, and the atmosphere and dessert were amazing.

We found the best places to eat during our last two days in London. Read about them in the next post!

xo Kate

London & The Nadler Kensington

It took about 2 hours to get to London from Paris. I arrived at St. Pancras station early in the morning and it was swarming with people. It took me about 30 minutes to figure out how to get to my hotel via the tube, which actually was not hard at all.

I took the tube to the Earls Court Station, which was very close to my hotel. My friend Daisy and I stayed at The Nadler Kensington which was amazing. We stayed in a very nice room that had luxury bunk beds, a kitchenette, and an awesome bathroom. It was very clean and perfect for a weekend in London. Our room even had a little patio that you could use, although it was pretty cold when we were in London. I didn’t take any pictures while I was at the hotel but I pulled some off of their website.

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The neighborhood Kensington was very cute, too.

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I HIGHLY recommend the hotel. It was very comfortable, clean, and pretty! My friend and I were joking that we wished our room back in Rome looked like our room in the Nadler. Once we got settled in, we set off on our British adventure.

First stop, The Big Ben and The London Eye. The line went pretty fast for the Eye and we got a great view of the city.

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And, of course, I had to take the typical tourist picture in one of the red telephone booths…

london8My dress and jacket are from Zara. They currently have a similar jacket called the Biker Coat.

London has always been at the top of my list of places to visit and I was not disappointed. I absolutely loved the city and immediately wanted to move there. Later that night, we saw The Mousetrap at St. Martin’s Theater, which was the best play I have ever been to. The Mousetrap has been performed at St. Martins Theater since 1952. The acting was amazing! I would suggest getting tickets if you are ever in London.

It is very close to Leicester Square, which looked like a mini Times Square to me.

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I was in London for 4 days, so I have plenty of advice on places you must go and restaurants you should try! Part II coming…

xo Kate

City of Lights

After walking past the Louvre on our first day in Paris, and seeing the long line, we decided we would get to the Louvre early the next day. It was a good decision because even though we got there early, the line was still pretty long. Once we got inside we had no idea where to go because the museum is huge!

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We, of course, saw the Mona Lisa and the large Crown collection, as well as so many other famous paintings and sculptures. It takes a couple hours to get through and I definitely suggest getting one of the headset tours to explain the meanings behind the art. After the Louvre we headed to Notre Dame.

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Notre Dame was beautiful! And it is located right next to the Seine, which you can walk along to get to the Pont des Arts and the Louvre.

We were only in Paris for 2 days! Which was not enough! Luckily, I was taking the train to London for the weekend!

xo Kate

J’aime Paris

Over spring break, while abroad, I went to Paris for the first time! I absolutely loved the city the moment we landed from Spain. We stayed at The Element Hotel which is located in a small neighborhood near the Goncourt metro stop. I would definitely recommend staying here- it had a cool design, was clean, and not too expensive! It was very easy  to move throughout the city and for breakfast we would usually stop at small bakeries in the neighborhood for chocolate croissants.  As I had never been to Paris, the first thing I wanted to see was the Eiffel Tower.

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We strolled around and under the Eiffel Tower, deciding we were definitely coming back at night! We then spent a lot of time shopping (mostly window shopping) on Champs Elysees, going to Zara, Longchamp, Laduree and Louis Vuitton. The flagship LV store was huge!

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We then walked to the Louvre, on our way to the Pont des Arts.

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I put a lock on the bridge, but they recently took down the bridge because it was getting to heavy. We eventually decided that we wanted dinner but we didn’t now where to go. The restaurant that we settled on, courtesy of The Guardian, was delicious! It is called Le Petit Cler. I would suggest the Escargot and the Emince de Volaille, which is Sauteed Chicken. It was delicious and definitely wallet friendly.

After dinner we headed back to the Eiffel Tower. It sparkles for about 5 minutes around 10 o’clock, which was amazing!

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It was beautiful! Around the Eiffel Tower at night, there are a bunch of little places to get crepes. As soon as we got back to our hotel we passed out from all the walking. I think we walked around 15 miles that day! More things to see from Paris tomorrow!

xo Kate

 

Best Cheese Plate Ever…

I love cheese, especially when paired with fruit and bread!

So for the Superbowl party I went to last weekend, my mom (and I) made a very elaborate, colorful cheese plate, inspired by our favorite cheese plate in Puerto Vallarta.

Cheese, fruit, fruit spread, nuts, and chips!

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Bonne Maman is the best brand for raspberry and fig preserves!

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As I was taking these pictures my dog, Chief, desperately tried to get the cheese!

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He is the cutest Blue Weimaraner pup but he is very bad and does not understand NO!

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Once you have the savory, you have to make something really sweet. So we made potato chip cookies, which are super easy and only have a couple ingredients.

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There are so many different recipes for potato chip cookies, and personally I like mine with brown sugar, not as much butter, and lots of potato chips! But these cookies were made using the recipe from Paula Deen: http://www.pauladeen.com/potato-chip-cookies

Potato Chip Cookie Recipe:

2cups (4 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup sugar
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups potato chips, coarsely crushed
1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar

In your mixer cream the butter and sugar. Then add in the flour and sugar. Once everything is mixed add 1-2 cups of potato chips that have been broken up into little pieces. Make small scoops of cookie dough with about 2″ in between each cookie on the cookie sheet. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until the edges are slightly browned.

Cheese Plate Ingredients:

Brie Cheese
Dubliner Cheese
Manchego Cheese
Goat Cheese
Bonne Maman Raspberry preserves
Bonne Maman Fig preserves
Grapes
Blackberries
Raspberries
Apricots
Almonds
Assortment of chips and bread

Enjoy!!!
xo Kate

 

 

 

 

 

Exploring Florence Part 2

After having a nightmare first night at a hostel in Florence, we made our way to our new hotel in Piazza Repubblica and set off to see more of what Florence has to offer.

We spent a couple hours walking through the shops and cafes near the duomo and bell tower and then stopped for lunch at a typical Italian Panetteria. Firenze2pic1Firenze2pic2

The place that we stopped for lunch was called Pane e Olio, a very small cafe near the Ponte Vecchio. I had the “prosciutto e formaggio” panini. The sandwiches were great and not expensive!

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Following our traditional Tuscan lunch we went to see the David in the Galleria dell’Accademia.

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After spending a couple more hours wandering through the cobblestone streets, we decided that we should continue trying all of the food that the city has to offer. A local suggested a popular crepe place called La Milkeria. It is a small cafe meant for maybe 10 people, yet there were about 30 people crammed inside and in line waiting to get crepes. It was worth the wait!

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That was our last night and Florence, yet thankfully not my last time visiting Florence while studying abroad. Although the city is relatively small, there is something to do in every piazza and on every street that you come across. It is very charming and the train/car ride to Florence will give you some of the best views of the Tuscan countryside.

Places to eat:

  1. La Milkeria (Crepes/Cafe):Borgo degli Albizi, 87, Firenze, Italy
  2. Perche No (Gelateria): percheno.firenze.it
  3. Gelateria La Carraia: http://www.lacarraiagroup.eu
  4. Pane e Olio (Paninis):Via Faentina, 2, 50133 Firenze, Italy
  5. Gusta Pizza: Via Maggio, 46R, 50125 Firenze, Italy
  6. Trattoria Dante (great pizza!): www.trattoriadante.com/en/
  1. Il duomo
  2. The bell tower
  3. Piazza Michaelangelo
  4. Ponte Vecchio
  5. Piazza Repubblica
  6. Galleria dell’Accademia

xo Katie

Exploring Florence

One of my favorite cities in Italy is Florence! While studying abroad in Rome, I spent many weekends exploring Firenze.

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Our first stop during one of our weekends in the Tuscan city was Piazza Michaelangelo, which overlooks the entire city.

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We walked so much throughout the weekend, making it up the duomo and the bell tower, and up to Piazza Michaelangelo.

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After repeatedly getting lost trying to squeeze all of Florence into one day, we headed to  the famous Gusta Pizza near the Ponte Vecchio. I got the “Gusta Pizza” which is made with fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, basil, and huge pieces of parmesan cheese.

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After lunch, we strolled along the Lungarno and back towards the center of the city.

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Most of our day centered around what we were going to eat next, so we definitely managed to find some awesome food spots. Part 2 to come soon!

xo Kate