Friday, March 29, 2013

Europe Haul: Jewelry and Purses

Continuing my Europe haul from yesterday, I'm going to show my purses and jewelry today! I didn't expect to buy purses in Europe just because they aren't exactly backpack friendly, but I found four bags I fell in love with!

Nude patent handbag from Mango in Rome

Koan crossbody bag from Coin in Rome

Large Koan tote bag from Coin in Rome (this was a great carry on for some of my clothing purchases!)

Mint studded bag from Primark in London

I also picked up a few pieces of jewelry.

Statement earrings from Dorothy Perkins in London

Matching necklace and bracelet from Primark in London

Evil eye charm necklace from Elias and Panos in Athens

And last but not least, I spoiled myself a bit with these earrings from the Ponte Vecchio bridge in Florence!

Happy Friday!

<3 Katie

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Europe Haul: Makeup and Nail Polish

Today, I want to show you the makeup and nail polish I bought on my trip to Europe! I was really excited to get my hands on some products that aren't available in the U.S. One brand I was really excited to check out was Kiko. It's a makeup store based in Milan that has drugstore prices. I've seen their polishes on some international nail polish blogs and popped in to 2 different locations in Rome to pick up these products.

First, I bought 3 nail polishes:
 336, 295, 343

...and on my second trip, I picked up two of their Ultra Glossy Stylo lip colors:
808 and 817

I checked out this second brand, Inglot in Coin, which is an Italian department store. They have a big range of products, but I decided to stick with a couple eye shadows and their magnetic palette:
31 and 423

I picked up three Sleek palettes, one in a Sephora in Milan, and the other two in Superdrug in London:
Original palette
Storm palette
Showstoppers palette

Another item I got in the Sephora in Milan was this Loreal nail polish. I've never seen these small polish bottles in the U.S. so I took a look and picked my favorite:

916 Confettis

Lastly are some more Superdrug purchases in London. I had to pick up a couple Barry M nail polishes since I've heard great things:

Pink Flamingo and Blue Moon

and a Gosh lipstick:

Hope you enjoyed seeing the makeup I bought on my trip! Tomorrow I'll show you the jewelry and purses I picked up.

<3 Katie

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Trip Recap: Paris and London

The final leg of my journey was spent in Paris and London. Boy did I go through a lot to get to Paris. I was supposed to fly out of Florence at 6:50 PM and arrive at Charles de Gaulle around 9 PM, leaving me plenty of time to go by the Eiffel Tower at night and then head to my hotel. Well, due to wind in Florence, we couldn't take off there, so they loaded the entire flight on two buses and took us about an hour away to the Bologna airport. We didn't end up taking off until after 10 PM! Needless to say, I arrived in Paris around midnight, after all public transportation was closed, and had to take a 60 euro taxi ride to my hotel from the airport. I was a little bummed, but hey... I was in PARIS!!

In the morning, I dropped off my bags in a locker at the nearby train station and headed towards the closest pick up location for the hop on/hop off bus tour I booked with Les Cars Rouges. My first true site of Paris in the daylight was this- the Paris Opera. I walked up the stairs from the metro and was facing this building head on. I don't think I could have been any more excited to be in Paris at that moment!
I boarded my double decker bus and despite the bitter cold wind, I decided to sit up top so I had better photo ops. From the Opera, we headed down the Champs Elysees and ended up at the Arc du Triomphe. So cool! I hopped off the bus for a sec to capture this photo.
I jumped back on the bus and we headed in the direction of Trocadero, which has a prime view of the Eiffel Tower. I had to find someone to snap my picture! (I'll tell ya, if anything made me stand out more as a tourist, it was that stinkin pink rain jacket! I really needed an actual coat. And its too bad you can't see my oh-so-Italian looking tennis shoes in this picture that I picked up in Florence.)
Not too far after I got back on the bus, I was presented with even more beautiful views of the tower, so I captured some more pics.
Soon after that, we stopped at the Louvre and I spent some time in the courtyards admiring those picturesque glass pyramids. I didn't actually go inside the museum for the sake of time, and I'll admit, I'm not much of an art buff.
Across the street from the Louvre, there was a bridge crossing over the Seine to Ile de la Cite that was covered in locks. It made for a really cool picture!
There was also a great view from the bridge.
The last major thing I saw on the bus tour was Notre Dame. So pretty!
After the tour, I decided it was time for lunch, and time for shopping! I hopped off the bus at the Arc du Triomphe and headed down the Champs Elysees to find a cafe. I ate at Le Deauville and had my first ever croque monsieur!
Next door to the cafe was Laduree, which is a world famous macaroon shop that originated in Paris. It was the most adorable place I've ever seen!
Check out these sweet little desserts!
I came out with a box of six macaroons, which were delicious! I then headed across the street to do some shopping Champs Elysees style. After shopping, it started to rain, so I figured what better time to stop into a cafe for a nutella banana crepe!
My time in Paris was coming to a close, so I had to make one last stop at the Eiffel Tower to see it at night, which is so much cooler than in daylight.
And off to London I went! I took a train from the Gare du Nord in to London St Pancras station. When my train arrived, I had another "I'm in LONDON!!!" moment... haha. I took the Underground to my hotel and immediately noticed there was a Daniel Radcliff look a like on the train car. Coincidence?

The next morning I started off with some shopping at Primark (LOVE!!) I spent two whole hours there! (Well, part of that time was spent on the phone with my credit card company to prove that yes, I was in London, and yes, I was trying to buy a bunch of clothes.) I then headed off to Leicester square to join up with the Harry Potter walking tour I booked through Celebrity Planet London. If you make it to London and are even remotely a Harry Potter nerd like me, go on the tour! We walked for about two and a half hours and got to see filming locations, places that inspired J.K. Rowling, took a short river cruise on the Thames, and ended up at Platform 9 and 3/4. It was pretty cool, plus I got to see some less touristy parts of London that I wouldn't have gotten to see otherwise. Here are some photos I took during the tour, starting with the London Eye.
Big Ben and the Parliament Buildings through the London haze
The Millenium Bridge on the left and the dome of St Paul's Cathedral on the right
Shakespeare's Globe Theater
The Tower Bridge
And finally, Platform 9 and 3/4!
After the HP tour, I headed on to meet up with my bus tour, The Original Tour. The tour was great; had a live tour guide instead of headphones like in Paris, but it was soooo cold at this point and raining. I sat up top again, but I was in a covered section. I hate that I didn't get better pictures, because I absolutely LOVE all the buildings in London, but pictures through a rain covered window don't really turn out all that well. I did manage to get some good shots of Big Ben.
After the tour was over, I walked over to The Rock and Sole Plaice in Covent Garden for some fish and chips. Looks good, tasted a little bland. I was just happy to try some authentic British food.
The rest of my evening was spent shopping. I made my way in to Topshop, Dorothy Perkins, Superdrug, and Primark (again!) to buy a suitcase so that I could fit all my purchases in to bring home. Plus at this point I was really sick of that backpack and glad to squeeze it into my new rolling suitcase. I was a little disappointed in Topshop because I had been dying to get my nails done at WAH Nails, but they were too busy and couldn't fit me in :( If you haven't heard of WAH, look them up on instagram @WAHNails - they do some seriously cool nail art!

The next morning, I headed to the airport and flew home. I LOVED Europe. So many people have asked me what my favorite thing was. For me, I loved all the jaw dropping moments I experienced when I got to see places and things I've only ever seen in pictures- the view of Athens from the Acropolis, the impressiveness of the Colosseum, walking out of the metro to be standing in front of the Paris Opera- just so many WOW moments!

My favorite city, if forced to pick, would have to be London. I loved the architecture, I loved learning about their government and the monarchy, and they had by far the best shopping! I could have spent several more days there. Of course, I'd love to also go back to Paris, Rome, and Athens one day. They are all such spectacular cities!

I hope you've enjoyed getting to see and hear about my trip to Europe! Tomorrow and Friday I'll be showing off some of the goodies I purchased (aside from clothing, as you'll see that in upcoming outfit posts).

Linking up with Amy for Keeping it Casual Wednesdays!

<3 Katie

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Trip Recap: Italy

The majority of my trip was spent in Italy. I traveled with my little sister and three of her friends who are studying abroad with her. We started our trip by flying from Athens to Milan. We got to Milan in the evening and left the next morning, so we didn't have much time there. Our hostel was a little tiny place, definitely the worst we stayed in for the trip. But hey, it was pretty clean and we all got hot showers, so not too much to complain about! After we settled in to our hostel, we went across the street and had dinner at Due Chef, where I ate the best pizza I have ever had in my life!
Here's my prosciutto pizza....yum!

In the morning, we had a couple of hours to site see before we took a train to Venice. We started at the eastern side of the Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, which is a major shopping strip in Milan. Here's a view down the street to the Duomo.
A fun window display at Furla on Corso Vittorio Emanuele II
And at the end of the shopping strip, the Duomo! This was one of the most beautiful buildings I saw in all of Italy.

The arch at the entrance to the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in the Piazza del Duomo
A beautiful little flower shop on the street with some old Milano architecture in the background
We continued walking down Corso Vittorio Emanuele II until we got to the Sforza Castle.
And that wraps up our whirlwind tour of Milan! We didn't get to see much since we had an 11:30 train to Venice. We saw some beautiful scenery out the windows of the train and I'm sad I didn't catch any good pictures! Just imagine the Italian countryside with snow capped mountains in the background...gorgeous!

After 3.5 hours on the train, we arrived in Venice! Here's the view we saw when we exited the train station.
There are tons of little bridges in Venice that had amazing views! We got a girls' picture overlooking the buildings along the riverbank. On the left is my sister's best friend Lauren, and my sister Rachel on the right. Check us out in our backpacking gear! :)

Venice is full of winding streets, some with the canal in between, and of course, gondolas! We decided not to ride one because it was a little pricey.
After making our way through the winding streets and taking in the scenery, we make our way to St Mark's Square. Here's a look at the Campanile (bell tower) in the square.
And here is St Mark's Basilica.

We spent some time checking out the square and then decided to make our way back to the train station so we could get to our hostel. It was cold! Walking around with our backpacks all day had us exhausted. This was the moment on my trip when I realized 1) I am out of shape compared to 20 year olds (I couldn't keep up!) and 2) my riding boots which I thought were comfortable, were not at all! Walking on cobblestone streets in boots with no arch support does nothing for your feet- oww!

After an hour walk back to the train station, sneaking on a train, getting off at the wrong stop and getting freaked out, we finally made it to our hostel! We had to be up at 5 am the next morning for our flight to Rome, so we went to bed early.

We got into Rome around 11:00 the next day and decided to head straight to our hostel to set our backpacks down before we started exploring. We were on the third floor of the building and had a pretty nice street view outside our window.
I had a nice lunch at the Merulana Cafe around the corner from our hostel- gnocchi! This was really good.

After lunch, we stopped by the Pope's Cathedral which was very close to our hostel. This was a gorgeous church inside and out!
We headed towards the Colosseum next- AMAZING! This is one of those landmarks that you've seen pictures of your whole life, and it is incredible to see in person.
The Arch of Constantine next to the Colosseum
We called it a day after tons more site seeing- the Forum, Vittoriano Monument and the Piazza Venezia. We grabbed dinner and of course gelato near our hostel before heading in for the night.

The next day, which was Saturday, we went to Vatican City. Our biggest dissapointment of the trip was that the Sistene Chapel was closed the day we were there because of the recent conclave. Such a bummer! We still got to see St Peter's Square and Basilica.
 From the front entrance of the Basilica
 The details are so intricate and the paintings on the walls and ceiling were beautiful.
Since the Sistene Chapel was closed, we decided against going to the Vatican Museum and ventured on to see the Castle of Angels, Trevi Fountain, and the Spanish steps. Here's a view from the bridge outside the Castle of Angels.
 The gorgeous Trevi Fountain!
 Throwing our coins in! (She's 5 years younger and 5 inches taller than me!)
Our last day in Rome was spent in the Villa Borghese Gardens in early afternoon, and then I split from the group to do some shopping on Via del Corso. Here's a gorgeous view of Rome from the Pincio in Villa Borghese.
On Monday morning, the Harding group left to fly back to Athens, and I ventured on to Florence by train. The Florence Duomo was the first place I went, and boy was it gorgeous!

I continued walking through Florence to experience all the piazzas and wonderful architecture the city has to offer. I tried to ignore the fact that I had 30 pounds on my back and it was raining! To get out of the rain for a bit, I stopped on Ponte Vecchio, a bridge that is full of jewelry stores down the whole length of it.

Check out my jewelry haul post on Friday to see the beauties I spoiled myself with :) Here's a view of the bridge from the opposite side.
After several hours of walking around Florence in the rain, I came to the realization that not only were my boots not very comfortable, but they weren't waterproof either! I spent my last hour in Florence checking out a couple shoe stores for some comfy tennis shoes. I then proceeded to throw my boots away in a trash can on the side of the road! Oh well, they were old and scuffed up anyway. I'll invest in some new ones next fall :)

Sorry this was so long- It was hard to edit down my pictures! Congrats to those of you who made it through it, and I hope you at least enjoyed the pictures! Tomorrow's post will conclude my trip recap with Paris and London!

<3 Katie