Saturday, May 31, 2014

Summer ready!!

After months with barely any sun, I am excited to spend my summer exploring Pittsburgh and lounging by the pool! To make this summer even more exciting is that I have found some amazing swimsuits and accessories to wear! 
Swimsuit (left): Old Navy Swimsuit (right): River Island Leopard espadrilles: h&m 
Jelly shoes: Primark Sunglasses: Forever 21 Earrings: Francesca's  

My new model.

One of the many perks to being home is that I now have a new model to take photos of almost everyday! My nephew is just so cute and silly that I find myself wanting to be around him all the time. He has a personality that I want to capture and show everyone.

Here are a couple of my attempts using my iPhone:

Friday, May 30, 2014

Doctor Who Round Up!

I know from experience that once you get into Doctor really get into Doctor Who. Luckily, my time in the UK was perfectly timed so that I was at the height of my obsession while there. As a result, I took advantage of every Doctor Who opportunity I had and let me tell you...there were a ton! From day trips, to afternoons exploring, to seeing a show...Doctor Who is all over the UK! 

Here is a list of the awesome Dr. Who-related adventures I had the chance to do throughout my semester: 

1) The Doctor Who Experience

2) Visiting Cardiff

3) Tardis at Earl's Court

5) Megastore on Shaftesbury Ave. (where I got a few more items to add to my growing Doctor Who collection)

6) Theatre in London (David Tennant and Arthur Darvill)

There are dozens of other Who spots I wanted to visit while living in London, but I just ran out of time. Some I had in mind include going to Chiswick to see where Donna lived, seeing Matt Smith in American Psycho, and going to see Amy and Rory's tardis house in Wales! 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Back in the good old USA

After going to Rome for a few days, I flew back to London to get my bags and then flew home to the US a few days earlier than I had originally planned. However, I decided to keep my dad out of the loop on this change. So, my mom, sister, and nephew picked me up from the airport and the next day we left to surprise my dad at one of his Civil War reenactments! 

The gorgeous weather we had made the five hour drive amazing! My mom and I couldn't help but stop at a few scenic spots along the way! 

It made me realize that rest stops can be a chance to not only stretch your legs but to snap a few pictures as well! Overall, it was a fantastic trip and my dad was 100% surprised! 

p.s. I think this trip somehow helped lessen my reverse-culture shock
p.p.s. Check back next week to hear about my first month back in the US after spending 4 months abroad 

Monday, May 26, 2014

Italian eating

I think I almost forgot how much Italians really do eat! For every day that I stayed with my cousins, we had one huge meal in the middle of the day with at least four courses! Not only that, but I was there for my cousin Tony's birthday so we had an extra big celebration that day :) 

I wish I could remember everything we ate, but there was just too much...I do remember it included: prosciutto, melon, cheese, fried dough, grilled egg plant, two types of lasagna, pasta, beef with vegetables, and more! 

Following that we had dessert and champagne! Maria made fruit tiramisu and my Zia Dora made fruit pastries...everything was delicious! 

Last but not least, here is the birthday boy himself!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Family time

I'm so lucky to have family still in Italy. My grandpa came to the United States in the 1950's but his brother stayed in Italy and started a family. So I have quite a few cousins and my Great Uncle Peter's wife, Zia Dora, living in Rome. I really got to know all of them last year during my semester abroad and I spent basically every weekend with them. Having a few days to visit with my cousins before coming back to the US was amazing! I loved being able to spend time with them, see how things have changed/stayed the same during the year I have missed, and talk about future visits! Here's a few shots of some of my lovely cousins! 

My younger cousin Peter. 

Tony driving us to pick up Peter from school

My last night in Rome

We didn't want to say goodbye 

Maria holding Stella 

Friday, May 23, 2014

Returning to Rome

Can you believe it has been over a year since I studied in Rome? So much has happened in that year that it now actually feels like my semester in Rome is so far away from me. My time in London has just been so drastically different from my experiences in Rome. All that being said, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to visit not only a city I used to call home, but also visit my amazing cousins before I left Europe! 

I did spend time with my family at their home, but I wanted a day to myself in my old neighborhood. To say it was weird getting off the train from my cousins house in the center of Rome would be an understatement. I was all alone and felt like a tourist all over again. I was holding my bag tightly, I was walking down streets that weren't familiar, and my heart was racing. It was a horrible feeling and in that moment I thought I made a huge mistake asking my cousins for a day alone in the city. 

But then I began walking towards my old neighborhood. On the way I stumbled into St. Peter's Square and I remembered what it was like to wander around Rome. Everything is so old yet still, more or less, intact. Italy's unique history gives off such a different feeling than England does and I just needed to get back into the Italian mindset. 

Finally, after a bit more walking than I remembered, I arrived in the Trastevere where I used to live. It seemed to be almost exactly how I had left it. After a few deep breaths, I felt better and I walked the familiar route to my old apartment. 

I made a few quick stops before heading up to Gianicolo Hill (pictured above) to read in my favourite spot. I bought strawberries from the outdoor market, two bombas from my cafe (where they remembered me!), and apricot juice from Todis (the local grocery store). 

After a lot of walking, a coffee with a friend, shopping, a pizza, and a gelato from Frigidarium, I headed over to my favourite monument in Rome! 

The monument to Vittorio Emanuele II (pictured above) is just breathtaking, especially on a day with blue skies like the one I had. Not only is it a fabulous building to take pictures of but it is great to take pictures from because the view is incredible! 

So, by the end of the day I was very happy with my choice to return to the city alone. I got to reflect on my time abroad both in Rome and in London, I finished the book I was reading A Fault in Our Stars, and I remembered quite a few details of Rome that I had forgotten. 

Monday, May 19, 2014

Exploring: Los Angeles

Hi there! I'm Annie, Hope's sister, and I'm so excited to share some of my lovely travel plans! Hope's recent trips have made me so eager to explore a new city and while a London vacation is out of my budget at the moment, (I have a new baby, after all) I have plans for a few weekend trips in the US for this summer and fall.

My husband and I are itching to get out to Los Angeles, California before the end of this year...the sooner the better! Our favourite late night talk show host, Craig Ferguson, is leaving his show in December and we really want to be in the audience before he leaves! So a trip to LA is definitely necessary!

After exploring a couple of my favourite California-based bloggers, Oh Joy! and Jennifer Chong, I have made a list of a few places I want to be sure to hit, other than the CBS Studios to see CraigyFerg, that is!

Basically a trip for me means eating. I have pinned far too many restaurants and bakeries to visit in one weekend trip, so I figure a stop at the historical Grand Central Market would let me cover quite a bit of food in just a morning visit! I really want to eat at Eggslut. It began with just a food truck and now has a stall in the GCM. Speaking of food trucks (would a trip to LA be complete without stopping at a food truck?) I really want to try out the Steel City Sandwich Truck to find out how LA does Pittsburgh food! And I have to be sure to grab dinner at Republique. I've read that the food is amazing, as well as the architecture! So much food, so little time! But I will absolutely leave room for dessert (or maybe a savory) pie at the Pie Hole.

In between all that eating we'll cover the basic Hollywood tourist spots since it will be my husband's first time in LA! I also want to check out the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

What a weekend plan! Sometimes planning is just as much fun as going on the trip! I'll share my experience in LA later this summer.