Friday, April 19, 2013

last days london

can not can no can not believe today is the last of my semester in london! though I'll be back in a week to catch my flight back across the pond, it feels like end of something fantastic... these past few months have been beyond amazing as I feel so worldly & as though I have a better hold on how to live a life of adventure, embracing y.o.l.o (you only london once) as much as possible. the people I've meet & experiences I've had are leaving these last moments so bitter sweet and boy have they tasted fantastic...

try studying for finals when it looks like this outside. just try. 
study break at liberty london!

sunsets from the top of nido... 
people enjoying soho square
love & miss : nanny & papa
last day of junior year at IES! 
celebrating our last day of school with some last minute tourism

 me, caroline, natalie & caryn
they're overalls actually, not a denim dress

naturally our abbey road trip was followed with pitchers at an irish pub 
m&m store!

happy hour at las iguanas! 
fish tacos! 
yesterday while we waited for the rain to pass we stopped in the natural history museum 
hyde park! 

best day ever! 

finally gave in & took the classic shot 
farewell high tea at the waldorf 

london ladies 
front row on the double decker! 

Sunday, April 14, 2013

pearls, vino & venice

I think it's happened every weekend, every trip and practically every day in london town. but all I could think by the end of our short three days in venice was "there's absolutely no way anything could be better!" other travelers have boasted this italian city to be far from their favourite (I spell in a british accent now) but our group of six had the most fantastic time! the wandering walkways and calm canals felt like our personal guides as we meandered around without a single map, which proved to be the best way to become unbelievable lost in the most lovely of neighborhoods. we strayed from the grand canal, losing hours among the residential houses that line the tight stone streets, parking their boat mid-canal & flying their laundry as proud as flags. gelato cravings got the best of us at every corner while carnival masks stared at us through the windows of each souvenir shop & restaurant owners gawked at our abilities to put away entire pizzas with couple liters of house wine on the side. venice was a true vacation : empty of worries and full of seafood with a little breeze and a lot of sunshine. 

{day one}
arrival may have been the hardest part of our journey. with the short week that preceded our trip, not one of us had managed to actually look up how to get to our hotel in mestre (on the mainland just across the water from venice) but a few friendly bus drivers & a lot of misunderstood italian later, we had actually made it to our six girl room where we happily curled up for a nap before beginning our adventures. a quick bus ride over the bridge and we had arrived in venice! there were clouds in the sky & rain on the streets but we hardly noticed as I'm pretty sure we ran over the first three bridges we came to snapping pictures with natalie's catchphrase "ohhhh myy god!" then straight into the first restaurant we saw as at this point, we were in serious need of some fueling up! each with our own pizza & two liters of house wine for the table and we successfully stayed at the restaurant until they kicked out us for their mid-afternoon closing. we were a tad tipsy & happily left to continue in the direction of absolutely nothing in particular, filling our cameras with silly snapshots as our boots began to fill up with rainwater. far from the madness of main tourist streets, we eventually were too wet & getting a bit chilly so the next two hours were spent in a coffee shop where caryn impressed us all with her ability to nap at the table despite the strength of her cappuccino. first gelato stop of the weekend, a bit more wandering & we walked into one of the shortest of side streets for dinner (yes, we really do eat this frequently). no worries, we had two more liters of vino on the table soon enough before we turned our attention towards taking full advantage of the island's seafood! my seafood salad came out as a plate of mussels, calamari, prawns & most likely a couple other creatures & left our table completely empty of any sea life. a round of limoncello later & this restaurant was also closing down & kicking us out, though I guess we had been there for about two and half hours already... 

canals are officially just greater than streets

they typical seaside palace... yes, palace 

 I realized I have a thing for wooden shutters this trip...

climbing random things as usual, I was on my way to hijacking a boat in this neighborhood canal

representing the italian flag right here!

 how do you escape the rain in venice? share some wine in a covered alley... we're easy to entertain

 the simple definition of our friday
first gelato of the trip, gnoccio flavoured : choclate & hazelnut! 
 I would definitely paint my boat yellow

 definitely one of my favourite shots of the day!
seafood salad & a glass of wine

{day two}
we awoke to bells in the distance of downton mestre & sunlight streaming in through the thin blinds. wait, sunshine!!? slow to start moving, we got to venice closer to lunchtime and as the only coffee addict of the crew, I ran into the first cafe to take my double espresso in a single shot. just after that, we helped ourselves to a well balanced breakfast of gelato & upon finding the tiniest wine & sandwich shop : girls got their mini salami sandwiches while I couldn't turn down the .90 euro glass of prosecco. we wandered in & out of souvenir shops, picking out gifts for the lucky ducks back home, stopping only to enjoy enormous slices of pizza in the sunshine. many random turns & pictures of picturesque canals later & we ended up at a local flea market that had an assortment of used books, knick knacks & one giant, gold ring complete with crystals surrounding a ruby coloured stone that I absolutely fell in love with. the gelato, the euphoria, my impulse buying tendencies... whatever the reason was, that flashy ring was mine & it proudly glinted in the sunshine the rest of the weekend. taking on our tourist personas, the six of us got a deal on a gondola ride & spent the next hour touring the traditional old village canals of venice, letting the smooth water & our gondolier's italian accent lull us into a calm state of being completely content. the gentle rock of the city was full of old men smoking cigars & young couples enjoying a mid-day glass of wine by the water, it invited us in to just enjoy the beautiful day. we continued our take as tourists, reluctantly leaving the oldest side of the island & making our way to the rialto bridge and st. marcs square : both of which seemed so grand compared to the modest stucco houses we had been surrounded by all morning. from st. marcs we soaked up the rest of the day's sunlight walking along the seaside & enjoying a bottle of wine with our feet dangling over the edge of the boardwalk. we returned to the other side of the island for seafood pasta & mussels for dinner & a third serving of gelato before ending the night at the hotel watching harry potter in italian.

good morning gelato!
 finished in .2 seconds...
 actually it's against the law to swim in the canals. yes, we asked...

morning .90 euro prosecco of course!  
 the street art in venice was some of my favourite from the semester
 entrance to a university

 hello gondolier! don't you love their hats?

recognize this spot? I got so excited when I spotted the infamous exit of the italian job boat race scene!  

a gondolier factory : there's only three in venice & the man lives just there in the wooden hut
 the crew & our favourite gondolier!
these are referred to as 'palaces'

venice flag on the left & italy on the right

 nautical delta gamma shout out

the rialto : hard to get a good shot of since it's so big! 
 st. marcs square : tourist filled of course
 st. marcs cathedral!

 gondoliers on their coffee break
 that little tower was leaning : not me for a change

 loving the sun on the boardwalk!

{day three}
for our last day of venice & sunshine we decided to do an island tour & make our way to murano as well as burano for a quick visit. we got our boat tickets & let the wind off the open water wake us up before getting off at our first stop, glass-blowing murano! gift shops lined the canals of this little island as we stopped in quite a few to gaze up at the most ornate chandeliers & the tiniest of glass critters. we couldn't resist picking up a couple pretty gifts on the quick visit before heading back to the boats for burano. I'm beyond glad we gave ourselves more time for this second island as it was one of the most beautiful places I've ever see! rows of houses adorned in the brightest of hues as each individual color gave the home a personality. the sun glinted off the canals as the color coordinated clothing lines danced in the breeze. we each picked out which color home was ours before sitting down to enjoy an authentic italian spritz on the square (wine, orange, sparkling water & incredibly refreshing). our plane tickets back to london beckoned us away from burano as we made the boat journey back to venice in time to quite literally run to the airport shuttle with our last chocolate gelatos in hand... 

perfectly sunny day for a boat ride around the islands 

a glass blown sculpture in the middle of murano
we caught a demonstration in one of the shops : this guy made a little octopus! 

so nautical... 
 quirky restaurant sign just off the burano boats

 beautiful burano!

which color is your favourite? 

 I swear everyone color coordinates their laundry to look this fantastic blowing against their house

 I was so excited about the sun I took a picture of it... honestly.

denim shirt group shot!

we each picked out our own door : I'd be very happy to live in burano with these ladies

 cheers to our spritz!
my mid-day cocktail with my new cocktail ring

& the last gelato back in venice...