I Ate Gelato Every Day

Hi, everyone!

I have just returned from the most amazing trip to Italy! My grandparents travel to Italy every year in May, and since I am in London, they invited me to tag-along their vacation. We spent 10 days in Capri, an  island off the coast of Naples. Although we stayed in Capri the whole time, my grandparents ventured with me to other parts of Italy nearby – Anacapri, Naples, Sorrento, Positano, and Amalfi.

I am so grateful and thankful that my grandparents took me with them to such a beautiful place. It was a once-in-a-lifetime vacation that I will never forget.

Here are some of my favorite pictures:

The view from our hotel.

The city of Naples (with Mt. Vesuvius in the background)

Positano

Inside the Blue Grotto. Shout-out to my grandma for going inside with me! There is a bit of a process when visiting the grotto. From the harbor in Capri, you take a boat to the other side of the island, near Anacapri. The boat anchors, and you hop into a tiny row boat, and sit on the floor. Once on the floor, you are rowed to the grotto entrance, which is the hole you see in the picture. The man rowing the boat then tells you to lie down on your back in the boat (keep in mind that you are in this tiny row boat with 3 other fully grown adults..). Then the man rowing the boat grabs two chains that are hooked on each side of the tiny hole entrance. He counts to 3, and suddenly pulls the tiny row boat into the grotto. Once inside, you see the glowing blue light from the water (which is sunlight shining through the water), which was pretty amazing.

Me at Amalfi

The Faraglioni

Like I said in my previous post about Scotland, I am a the biggest whimp. So, when I took the ski lift (that’s what my grandma and I called it, but pretty sure that isn’t the proper name) to the very top of Anacapri by myself, I not only shocked myself but my friends and family who had seen what I did via Instagram. Not going to lie, the whole way up I was gripping onto the handle bar and kept thinking “if I were to fall right here, would I die or just get really hurt??” Although I was freaking out, I did it, and got some pretty amazing pictures!

Like the title of the post says, I ate gelato every day during our trip. Literally. In addition to the exorbitant amounts of stracciatella gelato (basically the Italian word for chocolate chip), I ate the yummiest Italian food – pasta, pizza, mozzarella, bread, and bread and bread. I made sure to take a picture of almost everything I ate, to not only remember the delicious food, but to also show my dad, because I know he would have loved it as much as I did!

My first of many gelato cones.

Ravioli Caprese

The best eggplant parmesan I have ever had EVER.

Pizza in Naples, obviously.

Veal Milanese

 

Like I said before, it was an amazing trip that I will remember forever. Thanks again to my wonderful grandparents for bringing me along!

Well, I have just over a week left here in London. I cannot believe this adventure is coming to an end!

Thanks for reading, and I will probably be back with one final post before I head back to the States 🙂

Cheers,

Katie

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Beautiful Scotland

Hello!

Last weekend, I fulfilled another dream of going to a place I had never been: Scotland.

When I had visited the UK 6 years ago, I had been almost everywhere EXCEPT Scotland. It was a slight disappointment at the time, but I promised myself then that sometime in the future I would visit.

My flatmate Sari and my friend Sam both had similar dreams to visit Scotland as well, so decided to go together. Trains run often from London to Edinburgh (pronounced Ed-in-bruh), and we were able to find some really cheap fares. The train ride up is a little lengthy, but the beautiful views of the English and Scottish countryside make up for the time.

We arrived to Edinburgh in the early afternoon, and made our way to our hostel, which was conveniently located right next to Edinburgh Castle.

Here is a view of the castle from the front door of our hostel.

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We decided we might as well visit the castle first, which provided gorgeous views of the city!

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We also had a great view of our hostel!

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The castle also provided some humorous picture opportunities..

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After our visit to the castle, we walked around the city, and it was absolutely beautiful!

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We had an early night, because the next day was a full day. From Edinburgh, we took a bus tour throughout the Highlands and to Loch Ness. I took a billion pictures, and it was gorgeous.

Here is the map of the route we took.

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Urquhart Castle on Loch Ness

 

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Beautiful Loch Ness!

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The closest I could get to Nessie….

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The Highlands!

 

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The next day, our last day, we made it a mission to go to The Elephant House for breakfast. This cafe is famous for being the “birthplace of Harry Potter” – J.K. Rowling did a lot of her writing for the Harry Potter series there.

The cafe was adorable, not to mention yummy.

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Our next mission was to climb Arthur’s Seat, a giant hill, and I think one of the highest points in Edinburgh.

My family members and close friends know that I am a whimp when it comes to heights. That, coupled with my general fear of hiking (an odd fear, I know), it was a kinda-big deal for me to go to the top. It took some time, and a lot of comfort from Sari and Sam (both held my hands at several points!) I made it to the top! I was so happy that I did, and now I can say I will never do it again!

A view from the bottom.. it doesn’t look that big, BUT IT WAS.

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Can you see the fear in my eyes?

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Our train home was that evening, so we had a pretty laid back afternoon. Scotland was gorgeous, and I am not going to lie, it was one of my favorite places I have visited so far!

Thanks for reading!

Cheers,

Katie

DOWNTON DAY

Hello, everyone!

So, I am not going to lie, but, when I decided I was going to study in London for the semester, I made a list of things I wanted to do and places I wanted to see. At the very top of the list, which may not come as a surprise to those who know me, was to see Downton Abbey in person.

I have been obsessed with the television show for a few years now. I have to thank my mama for introducing me to it in the summer of 2011. We went on a trip to DC the summer before my freshman year at AU so I could attend Eagle Summit – the orientation program for AU. The night before I went to Eagle Summit, I stayed in a hotel with my parents. I was pretty nervous the night before, and my mom had her iPad with her that had the whole first season of Downton Abbey on it. I started watching them and finished that night! Ever since, I’ve been hooked.

Last fall, when I decided I was going to London, I also decided that I HAD to visit Downton Abbey (which is actually called Highclere Castle). After doing some research, I discovered that it wasn’t very far outside of London at all, and pretty accessible via train. But I also learned that tickets to the castle were sold out for months – the whole time I was going to be in London.

When I arrived in London back in January, I had made some friends who also shared my love for Downton Abbey, and we also bonded over our desire to go see it, and not being able to because it was closed and tickets were sold out. When Lisa and I discussed our love for Downton, we made a pact to find a way to go see it somehow in person – whether that be just approaching it and snapping a few pictures, or actually breaking in (we were desperate).

Back track a little to a few weeks ago when Kendal and I did a tour to Leeds Castle, Cliffs of Dover, and Canterbury. We did it through a company called Premium Tours. We had a really good experience with them, and I decided to look through their website to see what else they offered. I saw a tab on the side that said “Downton Abbey Tours” and immediately clicked on it. Just for kicks, I decided to see what availability there was for the Downton Tours. To my surprise there was an availability, and decided I HAD to go. I reached out to Lisa, and she was totally game to go with me. It was a little pricey, but I knew that it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I couldn’t pass up. It was most definitely worth every penny, and one of the best.days.ever.

The tour started off in Oxford, where we were able to walk around and grab some lunch. Downton Abbey isn’t filmed there, but it was still fun to visit another English city!

Our next stop was Bampton, which is a tiny village in Oxfordshire where the village scenes in Downton Abbey are filmed. As we were pulling up, our tour guide told us that he was informed that we may not be able to walk around some parts of the village because they WERE FILMING PARTS OF SEASON 5. Lisa and I immediately began freaking out, and then proceeded to pray that we would see Branson or Carson in the flesh.

Unfortunately, the cast was on lunch break when we arrived, so we didn’t get to see anyone 😦 BUT, we did get to see the crew and the sets, which was pretty freaking cool!

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Cousin Violet’s house!!

 

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After Bampton, we finally made our way to Downton Abbey aka Highclere Castle! I actually could not contain my excitement as we were walking up the driveway….

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Proof I touched the house, obviously.

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Pictures weren’t allowed inside the house, so we had to be super sneaky when taking them. Here is me being super sneaky.

 

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So, I have been developing a slight – some might say huge – obsession over Theo James ever since I saw him at the Divergent premiere, and then again a week later when I picked up Gabby from Heathrow (all of which I believe signifies that we are meant to be.. but, I digress), so I HAD to snap a picture of the room where Mr. Pamuk died, of course.

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It was such an amazing day, and I am so thankful and grateful that I was able to check off this visit on my bucket list.

Thanks for reading! Don’t anticipate too many more posts in the future as I return to the United States in less than a month! TIME. FLIES.

Cheers,

Katie

My Birthday in Berlin

Hello, everyone!

Once again, this post is extremely late. My birthday was April 9th (2 weeks ago, now?), and I went on amazing trip to Berlin for it!

Sari & Kendal joined me for the trip/celebration, and I couldn’t have asked for a better group to join me in my b-day celebration. I had never been to Germany before, so I was really excited to explore a new country/city. Berlin is very much a city, with lots of stores and restaurants that I recognized from the United States, but there was also plenty of monuments, museums, and historic landmarks that are iconic to Berlin and its history.

The history of Berlin was one of the most fascinating things about the city. Again, I won’t do an in-depth description of what we did each day. I will just post some pictures below with descriptions!

Brandenburg Gate, the former city gate.

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The Reichstag – where parliament is located. You can go up to the glass dome, but apparently had to get tickets a few days in advance. Since we didn’t know, we didn’t get the chance to go up 😦

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One portion of the Eastside Gallery – parts of the Berlin Wall are still up, and artists have painted murals on them (on the East side of the wall 😉 ). A lot of them are really colorful, and I could NOT stop taking pictures. This one was one of my favorites!

 

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Here are some more murals!

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Checkpoint Charlie, the famous crossing point between East Berlin & West Berlin (before the wall came down).

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This was the Holocaust Memorial, which was a pretty powerful place, to say the least.

 

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We also went to the Topography of Terror, a museum that sits on the original site of the headquarters for the Gestapo & SS during the Nazi Regime. Some pretty intense pictures were displayed inside of the museum that showed the terror imposed by the Nazi Regime, and part of the Berlin Wall (slightly noticeable in this this picture) is still up outside of it.

 

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I essentially ate my way through Berlin. I’m not gonna lie, I am usually not a huge fan of German food, but for some reason, craved everything I saw.

Here is a super attractive picture of me eating a bratwurst.

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On my birthday, we went to a brewery/restaurant called Brauhaus Sudstern. We loved it so much, we went there twice!

I had one of their light brews on my birthday!

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This was the schnitzel wiener-art that I had the second night we went there – probably my favorite meal of the whole trip.

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On our last day in Berlin, we went to KaDeWe, a HUGE department store in Berlin (think of it as the Harrod’s of Germany). It is apparently the largest department store in continental Europe, so we decided to check out their food floor. For some very odd reason, we found ourselves near the crepe section. The woman behind the counter gave us samples of rice pudding, and I fell in love. While Sari & Kendal got crepes, I got this giant bowl of rice pudding with fresh fruit and ate the whole thing.

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This is a doner kebab, apparently a specialty of Berlin. I didn’t question it, and ate the whole thing.

 

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Our last day, we went to Charlotenburg Palace, the only royal residence in Berlin. It is surrounded by beautiful gardens, and we did some exploring.

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I hope you enjoyed reading this! Hopefully my next few posts won’t take as long (chances are they probably will!).

Cheers,
Katie

Castles, Cliffs, Canterbury, & FREAKING SHAILENE WOODLEY

Hi, everyone!

Just wanted to write up this post to tell about this past weekend, which was one of the best so far.

Kendal and I had bought a Groupon for a tour to Leeds Castle, the Cliffs of Dover, and Canterbury a few weeks ago, and finally used it this past Saturday (29/3/14). The weather was absolutely PERFECT – sunny, clear skies – and made for an absolutely wonderful day.

We started our day at Victoria Coach Station where we boarded a bus that took us to Leeds Castle, which is southeast of London in Kent. The castle is hundreds of years old, once owned by Edward I, and eventually belonged to Henry VIII, who gave it to (one of his many wives) Catharine of Aragon.

In addition to once belonging to historic British monarchs, the castle eventually belonged to a few wealthy families. The last person to privately own it was Lady Baillie, who lived there in the 1930s. The amount of money these people had is actually unfathomable, and actually being there and seeing that wealth around us was insane to say the least.

Like I said before, we had absolutely GORGEOUS weather that provided amazing photo opportunities:

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Next stop on the tour was the Cliffs of Dover. I was especially excited to go to this spot because of a scene in the most recent Pride & Prejudice adaptation, Elizabeth Bennet standing on the cliffs looking out to the sea. It is one of the most beautiful scenes in a movie I have ever seen, and I was highly anticipating seeing these cliffs in person! I wish we could have gotten a little closer to them, but regardless, it was amazing to finally get to see them in person!

Again, the weather held up and really good pictures were taken:

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The next stop on the tour was Canterbury, another historic English city. Canterbury is probably familiar to a lot of you because of The Canterbury Tales by Chaucer that is based on the popular pilgrimage that Christians take to Canterbury Cathedral, where Thomas Becket was murdered. Kendal and I visited the cathedral which was just as gorgeous on the inside as it is on the outside.

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Canterbury has a lot of literary history as well. A lot of famous playwrights and authors – one of which is Christopher Marlowe, who I am writing one of my final papers on! – were from there/wrote a lot of their famous works there. Charles Dickens, who was one of these authors, apparently walked to Canterbury from London several times. That’s 60 miles, by the way…

After our time in Canterbury, the bus took us back to London, specifically to Greenwich. I actually hadn’t been to that part of London yet since I have been here, so it was nice to walk around and get some good pictures of the Old Royal Naval College, which is not only an actual university, but was also used to film some epic scenes in a recent superhero movie. Any guesses which one?Image

..the answer is Thor 🙂 (that was for you, Gianna and Celene 😀 )

The next day, Kendal and I casually attended the European premiere of DIVERGENT in Leicester Square, and it was actually one of the best days of my life. Let me preface this story with a few things. First, I LOVE the Divergent books. Celene gave me the first one for my birthday a few years ago, and since then I have been hooked. Veronica Roth, the author of the trilogy, was at the National Book Festival in DC last semester, and I was one of the first people there to see her and have my book signed. Secondly, I LOVE movies, and am very interested in film publicity. I interned for a film promotion company last semester, and fell in love with it. The whole atmosphere in Leicester Square was actually insane, but so much fun, and something I would love to do as a career in the future!

SO, going to this was a huge deal for me. I am highly anticipating this movie, and Kendal (who also loves the books) and I jumped at the chance to possibly see it ahead of time, as well as meet the stars of the film.

We only got there about 2 hours early, but still (somehow, magically, miraculously) were able to get VERY close to the red carpet. There was an opportunity for us to get into the actually screening of the movie, but it required us to literally RUN to get a spot, and we had such good spots near the red carpet, we didn’t want to risk running for our lives and then lose our current spot near the red carpet. Although we didn’t see the actual movie, we got AMAZINGLY AMAZING pictures of the stars of the film.

Here are the pictures I took… I DIED:

Veronica Roth was there, which was pretty cool! She is the mastermind behind the whole story, after all.

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Next, we saw Shailene Woodley, who I am slightly obsessed with. She gets a bad reputation for being on the television show “The Secret Life of the American Teenager” but she is (in my opinion) SO much more than that show! Watch The Descendants or The Spectacular Now and you will see how amazing of an actress she is. Also, I did my final Entertainment Communication project on her last semester, so I know just about every facet of her life.

I got some amazing paparazzi-worthy pictures of her (the very close-up ones where she is literally INCHES from my face are blurry, BUT I DON’T EVEN CARE):

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Next, we saw Ben Lloyd-Hughs, who I honestly had never heard of.. After some research, Kendal and I discovered that he is a British actor, and was in the very popular British show “Skins.” He plays a kind of major character in the movie, which I am excited to see him in.

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Next, we saw Neil Burger, the director of the movie!

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Next, was the one and only Kate Winslet. She is actually one of my favorite actresses of all time, and is a true legend. To see her in the FLESH was incredible. Kendal and I had a few laughs because someone across the way from us had their Titanic DVD with them for her to sign, which was hilarious and brilliant at the same time. Before the premiere started, some book promoters were passing out little pamphlets of a chapter of some new random young adult book. Kendal had taken one, and since she nor I had any paper for Kate to sign, Kendal had her sign that. We thought it was pretty funny!

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Lastly, we saw Theo James, the lead actor in the movie. Downton Abbey fans should know that he plays none other than the Turkish Ambassador, Mr. Pamuk, in season 1, who had a pretty MAJOR part in the whole Mary saga on the show.. Anywho, he is starring in Divergent and is beautiful and I died.

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He is essentially waving to me in this picture.

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It was SUCH an incredible day that I will never ever forget!

That is all for now. More fun-filled weekends are in the future! 😀

Cheers,

Katie

 

Long Overdue Post: Dublin & Paris (with guests in between)

Hello, everyone!

Like the title of this post says, this is LONG overdue. These past 3/4 weeks have been crazy busy – but the best kind of crazy!

Immediately after Lena left, my friend Adam came to visit! He had never been to London, and we did a lot of the tourist-y things to do in London. We had a lot of fun, and it was nice to have a familiar face around for a few days!

Right after Adam left, Kendal, Ragini, and I headed to Dublin for the weekend. This was the weekend before St. Patrick’s day – a perfect time to go, if you ask me! We went to not only celebrate the holiday, but we also went to celebrate Kendal’s 21st birthday, which happens to fall on St. Patrick’s Day.

Dublin, of course, is such an amazing city. I had been before – almost 6 years ago now – but to be honest didn’t remember as much of it as I thought I had! Also, I was only 15 at the time, and couldn’t do some of the more fun things that people 18+ can do! 😉

I won’t give a day-by-day description of the weekend, I’ll just put some pictures below 🙂 But, before I do, a HUGE shout-out goes to Emily who let us stay with her! She was an amazing host to us, and we couldn’t be more thankful for her hospitality!! THANKS EMILY ❤

Approaching the Emerald Isle..

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Our first meal. SO GOOD!

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St. Patrick’s Cathedral

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Christ Church

 

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A colorful fair happening along the water

 

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At the Guinness Storehouse Tour. The bar at the top floor had amazing views of the city!

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Dublin Castle

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It was a great weekend with great friends & amazing weather! 🙂

The day after I got back from Dublin, Gianna came to visit! She is studying abroad in Rome this semester, and had a week spring break. She came to London for a few days and had never been before! Again, we did some tourist-y things, but I did do a few things I had never done before!

Gianna and I in South Bank 🙂

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One thing we did that I had never done before was tour Westminster Abbey! Most of you may know it as the church where William and Kate got married, but it is also notable for being the place where royal coronations happen and is also the burial site for basically every British Monarch. It was beyond cool to finally go inside and see the coronation chair and relics. Unfortunately, photography isn’t allow inside, so I don’t have any pictures to post here! I will say that although you have to pay to go inside, it is well worth the money to do so!

The next thing Gianna and I did that I hadn’t done yet was go to Abbey Road! This is the street where the famous picture of the Beatles was taken for the cover of their album “Abbey Road.”

Here is what it looks like (if you live under a rock and don’t know what I am talking about.. JK, but really.):

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(photo source)

Gianna and I made our way to Abbey Road, which, to be expected, was just a random street in London. We did, though, have a hard time discerning which exact zebra crossing the photo was taken at… but after some research, we realized it was the one closest to Abbey Road Studios, pictured below:

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Yes, that graffiti made me and Gianna LOL.

Also, I never got a picture of the true zebra crossing (mostly because I thought it was a different one.. You were right, Gianna! 😉 ) BUT, I did get an official picture of an Abbey Road street sign:

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The next day, Gianna and I made our way to Paris! Our friend Celene is studying abroad there, and this was the perfect time for the three of us to reunite!

It was truly the perfect weekend, again! Great weather, great friends, and SUCH a great time. Again, I won’t do a detailed description of the weekend, just some pictures below 🙂

Really cool picture of the Eiffel Tower’s shadow (taken from the Eiffel Tower!)

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Another beautiful shot taken from the Tower

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I am the biggest wimp ever, and was freaking out as we climbed up the Eiffel Tower. Here is me gripping onto it for life:

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Outside the Arc de Triumph, which unfortunately had ugly scaffolding on the outside

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A view of the Avenue des Champs-Elysees taken from the top of the Arc de Triumph

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The Tower at night

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Outside the The Palais Garnier – Phantom of the Opera, anyone?!?

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Outside the Louvre

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And finally, outside Notre Dame

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Although I had been to Paris before, this trip was still fun! Not only was I in one of the most amazing cities in the world with some of my best friends, but I also got to do A LOT of things I didn’t do last time like go up the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triumph. I also didn’t go inside the Paris Opera House or Notre Dame last time, and was able to this time around!

That is all for now. Classes finished up this week – which is CRAZY! Like I said (I think?) in a previous post, classes end here at the end of March. We have all of April off for “Spring break” and then exams begin in May. I have 3 papers due at the end of April, and then one exam in May – literally the very end of May. So, other than studying/writing papers, I will have a lot more free time in my final 2 months here! Expect (hopefully!) more frequent blog posts filled with lots of adventures!

Thanks for reading!

Cheers,

Katie

 

Lena Comes to Visit

Hello, everyone!

These past 2 weeks have been CRAZY! Although a lot has been going on, I have found the time to write up this post about when Lena came to visit! 🙂

I had really been missing my family lately, so I was SO excited for Lena to finally come. She wasn’t arriving until Monday (3/4/14), BUT another very special person, the one and only Ally Vitale, who is essentially a sister to me, was arriving in London on Friday.

A few weeks prior, I had known Ally wanted to make plans to visit London (she lives in Spain, nbd 😉 ), and when she told me of the possible dates she would come, I told her that they overlapped Lena’s visit, and BOOM, two people I love were coming to London at the same exact time!

So, since Ally came a few days earlier, I got to hang with her for a bit on Saturday evening! It was a last minute meet-up, and when I saw her I immediately started crying! I didn’t expect it (and neither did she!), but I think I was just super overwhelmed and really needed some company from someone who is essentially like family to me. We hung out by the bar at the BFI in Southbank. I met her friend Mike, who she was staying with, and is a true Londoner and gave lots of great London advice. We had a great time, although it was just a few hours!

Me & Ally ❤

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Just a few days later, Lena finally arrived!! She has been to London twice before, so we didn’t do ALL of the traditional sight-seeing, but we did fit in some!

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One thing Lena hadn’t done in any of the times she visited London was go to Harrod’s. We walked around for a few hours, and I discovered something I had never seen in my previous visits there… THE DISNEY STORE.

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Tuesday of the week Lena was visiting was “HARRY POTTER DAY.” Lena, Ally, and I (all Harry Potter super-fans) got tickets to go to the Harry Potter Studio Tour. It was truly one of the most magical days EVER, and worth every single penny! The tour is in the actual studio where they filmed a lot of the Harry Potter films, and all of the props, costumes, etc. are original as well!

All of my favorite pictures from the day are below.

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BUT ACTUALLY THIS IS MY FAVORITE PICTURE:

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Since Lena had been to London previously, she asked if we could also plan a trip elsewhere while she was here for the week. We decided we wanted to go somewhere neither of us had been, but was close enough to make a 2 day trip. So, we decided LET’S GO TO AMSTERDAM!

We left Thursday morning and came back Friday night. It was a fast trip, but so much fun! It has been a dream of mine to visit Amsterdam, and am so glad I got to go with my sister ❤

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On Lena’s final day here, we went to Portobello Market in Notting Hill had afternoon tea at the Orangery. It was a beautiful day out, and was the perfect end to a wonderful visit!! 🙂

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That’s all for now! Thanks for reading 🙂

Cheers,

Katie