Monthly Archives: August 2015

European Travel part 2: Rome

Italy. The land of wine, carbs, and culture. Italy was our second country on the ‘HBK Euro Vacay’ and it definitely claimed a special place in our hearts. We went to 5 different parts of the country, and took an incredible amount of photos. How could you not? From the architecture to the landscape, every part of this culture is picture perfect. As I started this Italy recap, I realized that I had way too much to share to just do one post for Italy. So, for that reason, I’ve split it up into three parts. Today I’m sharing a recap of our time in Rome

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Rome is a city full of history, beauty, and tourists galore. Even though hearing italians speaking english on account of the american visitors lessens the magic, it didn’t take away from the awe of being in a city so rich in history. From the Colosseum, to the Vatican, to St. Peters Basillica, every inch of Rome is humbling and reminds you of how small you are in context of history.

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We had our first experience of an Air Bnb in Rome. We stayed in a private room. The ‘private room’ option here was our first and last time. It is definitely not as enjoyable as having a whole home to yourself! However, we had a beautiful overlook into the street, had cafes down the street, and the location was walking distance from the historical attractions!

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We spent our first night in Rome wandering around the Trastevere area. This neighborhood of Rome is a must. It is full of the rich italian culture that you can sometimes loose with the touristy areas of Rome. It is filled with amazing restaurants, friendly italians, and some of the best gelato around. We had our favorite meal of the trip in Trastevere.

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We had a nice little cafe right down the road from our Airbnb! It was called Cafe Negresco. Cappucino & a croissant is the standard breakfast in Italy. But be sure only to drink cappucinos before noon! A *cultural* thing that the all-day coffee drinker in me didn’t quite understand. If you’re feeling sluggish, grab an espresso!

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Since we had limited time in Rome (2 days!) we had to cram a lot in in a short amount of time. We had to miss some stuff, but we made sure to spend our money on the things we didn’t want to miss: The Vatican Museam (get the audio tour!), The Sistine Chapel, The Colosseum, and St. Peter’s Basilica!

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It is pretty unreal to see the amount of artwork that filled the Vatican. Not to mention, it was a crazy experience to see in person the artwork I’ve been studying the last four years as an art major!

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We made it to the Trevi Fountain! Although, unfortunately, it was under construction for the summer. They had a little kiddie-pool sized water area where you could throw a coin in, though!

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The Vatican Museum: One of the highlights of our whole trip was getting to see the Vatican Museum. I would reserve at least half a day for it! It was unreal to see the artwork that filled the walls of that place. I recommend doing the audio tour and BUY YOUR TICKETS AHEAD OF TIME! The line for tickets is insane, but if you buy them online prior, you can just walk straight in!

Sistine Chapel: The Sistine Chapel is part of the Vatican Museum. It was a crazy moment to see the famous Michelangelo painting on the ceiling.

Trastevere Area: Best area for culture and food!

Gelateria Valentino: Gelato in Italy…you just can’t beat it. My favorite place for gelato in Rome was a place called Gelateria Valentino. It’s near the Trevi Fountain. The gelato is sweet, but the owner is even sweeter!

Breakfast: Croissant + Cappuccino was a daily ritual in Italy. The croissants are amazing in Italy.

Pizza: The pizza in Italy is NOTHING like here in the US. It’s amazing. Get it. All the time. Also wine.

Affordable Wine: In most places, wine was cheaper than water! Not to mention, even the cheap stuff is incredible. Have it as much as you can, bring some home, nothing beats an Italian wine in Italy. 

*Stay Tuned in the next couple of days! Next up is my personal favorite: Florence!*

European Travel part I: Spain

Where do I even begin? It has taken me a little bit to start posting about my trip to Europe because of  the struggle of not even knowing how to recap a trip like this! We had a month filled with memories and adventure, and I am so excited to start posting about each place we went to, travel tips, favorite spots, etc. My hope is that you would be inspired to do something similar. Maybe it’s a trip like ours, maybe it’s a cross country road trip, maybe its moving to your dream city. Whatever it is, I promise that if you just give life a yes, the details, the money, the rest will work itself out. So, with that little bit of encouragement, let’s start! I’ll be sharing about our trip through the photos below.


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The first place we had on our trip was Spain. We had about 4 days in Spain. Our flight was roundtrip from Madrid (we found an amazing deal and just decided to make it work!) and so we decided to spend a day there before we went to Barcelona. So, I want to share a little mishap that happened with our flights. Back in January, when we had booked our flights, I (as the type A person I am) wanted to make sure our flights were 100% the same, that we were seated next to each other, that we all got the same deal, etc. So, I got everyone’s American Airlines information, logged each of us in on three devices (all right in front of me) and made sure every detail was the exact same. It was the biggest relief to hit that purchase button! Well, fast forward 5 months to about a week before we left, life seemed to be crashing down around me as I realized that somehow, I had scheduled my flight 24 hours after theirs. Yikes. I had a minor melt down, you know, right as something like this happens it feels like the end of the world. After making some calls, I found out it would be almost double my ticket price to change my flight. So, I flew in the day after. Which, in retrospect, was not a big deal at all. Of course, it was sad to not spend that flight all together, and communicating in a new country was hard as I got off the plane, but hey, it worked out! Future tip: have a few people look over your flight information before you hit purchase 🙂

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Spain was a perfect place for us to start our trip. Kristie speaks a little spanish, her dad was born and raised in Spain, and she had already visited a couple times. It helps so much to have at least one person who has a little bit of familiarity with a culture. For our three days in Barcelona, we stayed at Hotel U232. It was a cute little boutique hotel in a great part of town. Every day started with a chocolate croissant and cafe con leche at the cafe down the street. We would spend a good amount of time there waking up, people watching, etc. We spent most of our days roaming around (lots of walking!) and eating amazing food. Tapas, Paella, and Sangria are the big three over there. And I’ve gotta say, I recommend every single thing. I’m not sure I had a bad meal!

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The Mercat de La Boqueria is a well known, must see food market in Barcelona. It is crowded with tourists, but is so rich with culture that it’s something you can’t miss. Spices, meats, cheeses, foods of all kinds are on display at this market, along with local vendors urging you to try whatever it is they are selling. This is a great place for picking up souvenirs or grabbing a quick, well-priced lunch!

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At La Boqueria, they have these juices everywhere. Essentially, its a bunch of different types of fruits, juiced! They are only like 1-3 euro each, and are delicious! A quick, affordable taste of culture! I got the dragonfruit juice!

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So much history covers the streets of Spain! It’s hard to walk a block without seeing a building or piece of architecture that’s hundreds of years old. 

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On this particular day pictured above, we went to Park Guell. If you’ve ever googled pictures of Barcelona, pictures of Park Guell more than likely pop up on the screen. Its a mosaic type of structure overlooking Barcelona. Well, we spent the majority of the day walking up stairs and very steep hills to get to this overlook. We ended up going up three times the elevation we needed to, only to find a not-so-great overlook. I mean, the view was beautiful, don’t get me wrong, but when you’re expecting the structures in the picture and only find a dirt patch overlook, it can be pretty surprising, ha. But hey, you can get beer up there, which is great when you’re as hot as we were! As we climbed down, we saw the real overlook, which we then found out now has an entry fee of about 10 euro. Our whole Park Guell experience was not idea, however, I do think if you’re going to Barcelona, you should go. Just plan better than we did, and be ready for walking up a lot of steep hills!

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Our favorite neighborhood of Barcelona was by far Gracia. It’s a must. When we arrived, it’s like all of our expectations were finally met. It is the younger, artsy neighborhood of Barcelona. It’s filled with young people, live music, outdoor restaurants, and art galleries. We found this particular restaurant pictured above and were instantly drawn to its bright colors and beautiful design. It was called Cantina Machito. People in Barcelona don’t eat dinner until 9 or later, and since it was still late afternoon, we decided to just get an appetizer and drinks. It was at this restaurant that we ended up meeting some real-life spanish Tuna’s (google ’em)! They’re the guys with the spanish costumes and guitars. They sung and danced and were so much fun (pictured below). We ended up spending a good amount of the night with them, making memories, taking selfies, and laughing through the language barriers. 

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Above is the lookout from Park Guell! The hike is not the easiest, but the overlook is so worth it!

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*Menu del Dia: Menu of the Day. This is pretty much the best deal you can get for lunch or dinner. It’s a set price that usually includes: an appetizer, main meal, bread, and a beverage! We loved these because they helped us get a great amount of food for our money!

*Paella: A classic dish in Barcelona. It is essentially a cast iron skillet filled with rice, veggies, and seafood/chicken. It’s very filling and easily splitable.

*Sangria: Grab a pitcher at a sidewalk cafe and just enjoy. 🙂

*The Mercat de La Boqueria: Wander around, see the culture, eat the food, grab lunch, try the juices.

*Park Guell: Beautiful park, great way to see the city, amazing overlook, and tons of art. The main overlook costs money and tickets are purchased at the bottom of the park when you enter!

*Start every day with a chocolate croissant and cafe con leche.

*Gracia: make your way over to this neighborhood, wander around!

*To eat and drink: Tapas 24, Milky Way Coffee, Cantina Machito

Thanks for following along with part one of my Europe recap! Next up: Italy!

Life Lately.

Hi, friends! It’s been a bit since I’ve shared my heart and mind in this little space. I want to take some time to share about some personal things that have been going on in life lately. Some great things, some not so great things, learning a ton through all of it.

As I had mentioned earlier on the blog, I spent a month traveling Europe with my two best friends, Hannah and Kristie. We traveled to Barcelona, London, Amsterdam, Paris, and through Italy. It was the trip of a lifetime, to say the least. Every moment was filled with beauty, valuable life lessons, adventure, and friendship. There’s not a day that passes that I don’t wish I could wake up next to my two best girl friends, grab a cappuccino + croissant from the bakery across the street, and end the day with tired feet and full stomachs. I’m so excited to show you guys all the photos we took in each city. I hope they leave you inspired and itching for your own european getaway! Stay tuned in the next couple weeks for highlights from each city we visited!

After Europe, I packed my bags once again and settled back into a new home in Fayetteville, Arkansas. I fell in love with this place through college, and just-so-happened to meet a boy who makes sticking around not so scary. I truly never thought I’d be starting my post grad life in Fayetteville. But, you know, here I am. I’m scared and I’m uncertain of what the future holds, but I will say, I am so thankful that so many others in my college community decided to stick around, too. I’m living in a two bedroom apartment with my roommate of the past three years. First time I’ve had my own bedroom since high school (gasp!). It sure does feel nice to finally have my space set up, decorated, and lived in. Nothing like a little nesting to make you feel more at peace in a new season.

So what now? Now that I’m back, I’m slowly having to accept the things I left behind here in the ‘real world’. I’m twenty-two years old, unemployed, and scared. Scared of my savings account running out too soon, scared of investing my heart, & scared of ending up in a job I’m not passionate about. In this season, with so much uncertainty, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t struggling with walking in fear. Don’t we all? We look at our circumstance, we forget about hope, we forget that God is actually for us, and we set our sights on all that isn’t. I’m constantly having to remind myself of truth. The truth that God hasn’t forgotten me, that faith isn’t faith when you get to see everything up front, and that life truly is an adventure when you operate out of trust. Of course, even as I type these things, I’m preaching to myself. These are things I have to remind myself of daily, no, moment by moment. I’m learning and living these things day by day. I’m job searching, I’m sending out resume’s, I’m interviewing, I’m doing all the things that adults have to do, and I’m learning to see the purpose in it. The purpose in ‘the in-between’, the purpose in the lack, in the process. It’s not fun, its painful, but, I know it will reap a better, more heavenly-satisfied heart in me.

Any of you other twenty-something’s feeling my pain? If you’re walking in this valley, too, I want to encourage you that you’re not alone. It’s hard, but you’re strong and capable and worth it. And these lessons, these processes, are worth far more than any paycheck.

Thanks for listening to my little heart spill. Lots of things going on in my heart these days. Keep an eye open for part one of the HBK Euro Vacay recap!