Tag Archives: travel

Our Engagement Story

Guys I am soooo overjoyed to share with you Clayton and I’s proposal story. This past week has been the best week, full of excitement, friends, family, and a promise that I get to look down at on my hand every day! I can’t say enough about how thankful I am to be Clayton’s girl, and how excited I am that I get to spend a lifetime with him!

So let’s hop into the story, shall we?

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We were in Portland, OR visiting one of my college roommates and her husband who moved there about a year ago. I had been searching for a good time to come visit, and when I saw the ticket prices drop, I jumped on it and invited Clayton to join too! The whole weekend was absolutely incredible. From foodie spots to hikes on the coast, it couldn’t have been a better trip. Clayton has been sooo busy with American Native and we had been fighting for quality time together, so this trip came at the perfect time. We hadn’t even started our first day in Portland when I mentioned how good the trip had already been, being together and focusing on nothing other than being together. Little did I know one of the biggest moments of my life was around the corner!

 

It was our first morning there and we woke up early,  our bodies touching the ground on each of our deflated air mattresses in Julie & Trav’s living room. Luxury travel, I know. Because of the time change, we were up preeeeety early, so we decided to go on a little run through the city to get the day started. It was absolutely perfect weather, sunshine and only slightly chilly. We got back, and Clayton seemed a little eager to get the day started. (I only found out later that he was on a timeline with the photographer). So, we decided on a breakfast place, and headed out to enjoy one of our favorite meals of the day together.

We settled on a brunch place called Screen Door. They specialize in southern food and let me tell ya, it was probably my favorite meal of the trip.We love early mornings and breakfast food, so it was the perfect way to start an engagement day. His order: chicken and waffles. Her order: Veggie Egg Frittata. Um, YUM. We had the best time, people watching from the patio and seeing multiple trucks come in with farm-fresh produce. Needless to say, I was already loving Portland.

To my knowledge, the day was free and there was no agenda to be had. I was open to anything! Clayton mentioned going up to Mt. Tabor, a mountain that overlooks Portland to get a better view of the city before we jumped into our weekend activities. I had heard him mention it before, so I had no obligation! We headed that way and it was the first time I had a good look at the trees in Portland. They were huge, and made you feel so small. I haven’t seen anything like them before! From where we parked, it was a short 10 minute walk up to the top of the mountain, where the overlook was. We parked and started our ascent.

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As we walked up, I noticed all the wild daisies sprouting up everywhere. Wild daisies like this are my absolute favorite flower, and every spring I feel like a kid in a candy store, nose against the window looking at these beautiful little things that just grow on the side of the road. These daisies that sprout up, without permission and in no need of adoration, are one of the ways I really feel Jesus and am reminded of how much he loves his kids. It’s always been that way with wild daisies, and so it was just that much more special to see these all over the place I would be getting engaged.

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We got to the top and saw the overlook of the city, the trees, and enjoyed the sunshine for a bit. Clayton suggested going down in the center of the park, under the trees. When we arrived, he reached into his back pocket and pulled out a little book. He suggested it was just a ‘little something’ and truly y’all, at this point, I STILL did not know a proposal was about to happen! I flipped through the book and saw that Clayton had compiled all the polaroids that we had taken over the past 16 months of our relationship. Pictures from our trips, various dates and events, all such sweet memories that I loved looking back on with him. Polaroids are kinda ‘our thing’ so we have quite a few piled up over the past year and a half. When I got to the end of the book, I saw that he had written a little something: “Will you be in my polaroids for a lifetime?”

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My heart stopped, and as he sunk to one knee, I was truly in shock! I could not believe THIS WAS THE MOMENT!!! I kept saying “oh my gosh, wait, wait! slow down!!! Pause! Let me soak this in!” But of course, he didn’t stop, he continued to pull out a beautiful blush, crushed velvet ring box with a gold-foiled “C” on the top (Chamberlain, his last name). When he opened up the box, I truly couldn’t even keep myself from freaking out. I was shaking and tears were comin’ and I just couldn’t believe how beautiful this ring was! He slid it on my finger and I even think I forgot to say YES because I was so lost in the moment (I followed up with a YES, DUH, OF COURSE afterwards).

As if this wasn’t like the peak experience of my life, Clayton tells me that my favorite photographer, Phil Chester, was here to photograph our proposal!!! I hear some clicks from a camera, and there he is!! I start shaking and freaking out even more. Phil has been like my favorite photographer for YEARS and I couldn’t believe he was HERE to capture OUR engagement!!! CAPS!

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It was such an unbelievably special time and even now, I can’t believe it’s real: that I actually get to marry Clayton Dean Chamberlain!!! After Phil finished up our photos and headed out, Clayton and I continued to stick around and talk about what the heck just happened. I begged to hear all the details: how he got Phil, how he decided to do it in Portland, when he got the ring, how he got the ring box, what secrets he (and all my friends and family) had been keeping from me! I wanted to know it all, and he was an open book.

After I had heard it all and cried some more, we got to spend some time praying together. I think out of everything, this was my favorite moment of the day. It was the first time Clayton and I were able to really pray as a couple committing their lives to each other and to Him together! It was such a freeing moment, not having to worry about emotional/spiritual boundaries because of the promise wrapped around my finger. It truly was amazing and opened up the door even wider for thankfulness, joy, and expectancy for what’s to come.

The rest of the day, as you can imagine, we were just on cloud 9, loving life, loving eachother, calling friends and family to share the exciting news. The rest of the weekend was enjoyed in Portland as a committed, engaged couple. (Stay tuned for a Portland recap and Bae Vacay video ROUND TWO!).

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Lastly, though, I just have to say – Jesus is so faithful. Since I was young, I have hoped and most importantly, prayed into my future marriage. I would day-dream about what he’d be like, what his qualities would be, made my list and checked it twice of my ‘wants’ and ‘musts’, and while those ‘musts’ are important, Jesus knows my desires and needs wayyyyyyy better than I do. Clayton is my answered prayer, but he’s so much more. He’s God’s grace on my life, he’s all I want and exactly what I need in a life-partner. He makes me better and stretches me to be more Christ-like. So so so thankful and can’t wait to begin this adventure through life with him.

Photos by Phil Chester

Home Sweet Home: Favorite Things to do in Dallas, Texas

I always love trips back to my hometown. I grew up in a Dallas suburb, but spent plenty of time all over the metroplex. I honestly always thought I’d graduate college and move back. Funny how life works, huh? I have a few favorite spots that I’m always sure to visit or eat at while I’m home. While Fayetteville is known for it’s local attractions and small businesses, you still miss out on the great shopping and restaurant scene in this big city.

Clayton and I packed our bags and headed to Dallas for Easter this past weekend and had such a fun time. I thought I’d share a little bit about our weekend and share my favorite spots for the next time you’re in the heart of Texas.

First things first: clear your schedule to make time with hometown-friends. Let’s be honest, this is always a priority when I am in Dallas. Growing up, this group of guys and girls were my family (and still are!). We all grew up in youth together and have stayed friends ever since. Seriously, we have a group text that has been going strong for the past 6 years. Through life changes, moves to different states for college, marriage, and new seasons, we’ve all stayed so close. It’s always one of my favorite parts of the weekend getting to spend time with my people.

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Brunch, always. Let’s kill two birds with one stone here, right? For our day together, we decided to kick it off with an amazing brunch at Oddfellows in Bishop Arts District. We love any chance we have to get out in that area. We shared laughs, meals, and coffee. Highly, highly recommend their brunch! Dallas has a handful of amazing brunch spots. Don’t miss these:

  • Oddfellows
  • Bread Winners
  • Cafe Brazil
  • Ida Claire
  • Public School 2014

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Bishop Arts District is seated right in Oak Cliff and is home to a handful of fun restaurants, shops and coffee spots. I would say it’s one of the best spots in Dallas. We spent the rest of our day walking around in the beautiful spring weather and exploring new areas! Be sure to check out my favorite shops:

  • Set + Co
  • DIRT Flowers
  • Dude, Chocolate
  • Society Candles

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Coffee Shops are always a fun way to explore a new city. While Dallas is more known for their overload of Starbucks, you can still find some fun coffee shops if you’re willing to drive around a little more. We found a great coffee shop in Bishop Arts called Wild Detective. It’s located in an old house right off the main strip. They had a beautiful back patio area too! Some of my other favorites are:

  • Ascention Coffee
  • Houndstooth
  • Crooked Tree
  • The Joule Hotel
  • Davis St. Coffee (pictured below)

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What’s for dinner? That’s a pretty common question in my family. We really enjoy dining out, especially for a special weekend like Easter. Clayton and I had some great family time this past weekend. We spent our Friday night on a double date with my dad and his fiance (and my step-mom-to-be) in downtown Mckinney. We ate at a new restaurant called Sugar Bacon and let me tell you I have been dreaming about that place ever since. It was delicious. And not to mention, downtown McKinney gives you that small-town-feel that made it seem like I was back in Fayetteville. Still hungry? Here are some other fun restaurants/ areas to dine:

  • Sugar Bacon in Mckinney Square
  • Square Burger in Mckinney Square (Clayton and Dad had a little date here!)
  • Whiskey Cake (you. must. try. the. whiskey. cake.)
  • Cane Rosso
  • Artins in Shops at Legacy – Shops at Legacy is an upscale area filled with restaurants ranging from $ to $$$$. It’s a great place to walk around when the weather is nice, as well!
  • In-in-out….get it while you can!

The rest of the weekend was spent with family, celebrating Jesus and all he did for you and me. He’s good and I’m thankful. This weekend was one for the books, for sure. Are you planning a trip to Dallas? Here are a few more of my favorite things to do while home: 

  • Head to the DMA! It’s an amazing FREE art museum!
  • Steel City Pops – ummm…popsicles anyone? Yum!
  • Klyde Warren Park is great for walks on a beautiful day. They’ve got food trucks if you get hungry, as well!
  • Northpark Mall – pretty much every store you could imagine.
  • Walk around, eat, and shop at the Shops at Legacy.
  • See a movie at iPic or Studio Movie Grill! Who doesn’t love eating dinner while they enjoy a movie?!
  • If you’re in town during the summer, you can’t miss the Snowcone Lady in Frisco. She’s been around as long as I can remember and is quite the legend.

To finish off, I’ll leave you with a few more pictures of my weekend. I just wish I could take everyone I love and move ’em up here with me!

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10 Tips for Planning Your Trip to Europe

If you’re reading this post, there’s a good chance you have an incredible trip to Europe coming up. I must admit, I’m a little envious. My month-long trip to Europe with my besties last summer was seriously one of the highlights of my life. I wish I could do a trip like that every year. I truly think about the memories we made every day! So, world-traveler, it’s time to get EXCITED and start PLANNING!

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Are you the planning type? Let’s be honest, planning a trip to Europe can seem pretty daunting if you aren’t type A. Luckily, I am, and planning this huge trip was, yes stressful, but also so much fun. We went to 5 different countries, 8+ cities, had to figure out the maze of transportation, and were working on a TIGHT budget. But hey, we did it and did it well. So friends, if you’re about to sit down and nail out your own trip, let me offer some advice to ease the stress. Here are some tips I learned after planning our own trip to Europe last year.

  1. Grab a friend and make some lists:
    Whether your traveling with your significant other or traveling with a group, put your heads together and brainstorm all the places you may want to visit on your trip. When we started planning, the first thing we did was browse Pinterest and see what countries really sparked our interest. It’s important to consider everyone’s contribution and make sure you hit places everyone wants to see. We crossed off places, added new ones, and finally had a concrete list that worked with our time frame. We opted for spending more time in less places. I highly recommend this. We had more time to experience the culture of each place, plus, it really cut down on our travel costs.
  2. Plan out your ‘musts’:
    As fun as it is leaving room to explore in each city (more about that on number 8), it’s so important to nail down the things you really want to see while in each city and country. For me, a day at the Vatican was a priority. Even though we only had 3 days there, we made sure to do all our research about this place we knew we wanted to see. It was a good thing we did, because we realized we were able to buy tickets online which saved us literally hours and hours of waiting time.hbkspain-38
  3. Figure out your budget – This is probably the hardest part of planning out a Europe trip – figuring out the budget. Depending on where you are in life, you may have a really luxurious trip, or a really budget-friendly trip like we did. Our budget for four weeks in Europe after purchasing our plane tickets was $2500 for four weeks. We had to sacrifice a little here and there, but overall this budget is completely do-able. We worked our butts off saving enough to do this trip and a trip like this was hands-down the best way to spend your money. You wont regret a penny.It’s important to know in advance where your money will be going. That’s a huge reason we decided to book the majority of transportation and stay before. That way, we already knew what we were spending and could better budget out our days accordingly.

    We mostly ate breakfast at home in the mornings, cooked dinner at home some nights (Shopping at local markets is an experience in and of itself. It really makes you feel like a local), shared plates at restaurants, and left a little wiggle room for nicer dinners. It’s completely do-able, you just have to get a little more creative when on a smaller budget. On average, we budgeted about 30 euro a day per person on food. Some days we spent more, some days we spent less, but it’s always nice to overestimate than underestimate.

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  4. Grab your type a friend and get ready to get detailed – As I mentioned above, I was the type A friend of the group, and I highly recommend that if you aren’t type A, to bring in someone who is. There are so many little details that need to be planned, so it really helps to have another person there who is a little more naturally inclined to notice them and help plan them out.Do your research on each city, noting different neighborhoods and places to go, researching if there’s anything you need to buy in advance. Getting an idea of what you’d like to do will really help you estimate how much you will be spending. A great source for me was pinterest. There are a ton of blogs that have laid out travel tips and expenses. See what I’ve pinned here, it may be of help to you!

    When researching transportation to and from each city, pay attention to every possible route. Sometimes, it may be cheaper to fly from Paris to Rome than from Rome to Paris. Seeing these difference will help you identify the best route for your trip. Additionally, be sure to check on prices every day. They regularly fluctuate.

  5. Pick one person to make most bookings and transactions – This was something that really worked well for us. I was usually the person to make the bookings for travel and stay because I was a big part of the planning process. It made things a lot easier, because instead of there being a lot of loose ends between travelers, everything is concise with one person. After the bookings (pre-trip), I just totaled up what I had spent and divided it by three. We used the square cash app to pay each other back.italy-39
  6. Book your stay – Everyone travels differently. I heard from some people that fine details like hostels and hotels can be booked on the fly, giving you flexibility while you’re there. Through my experience, I completely disagree. There was SO much stress and worry and time saved on our trip by having our stay pre-booked. We had one instance in which we didn’t know where we would stay for the night. Figuring out where we would stay in peak-season took so much time and energy, wasting time we could have been exploring the city! That being said, I recommend booking your stay (or as much of it as you can) before you hop on your plan to Europe. This is where setting your dates in step 4 comes in handy.Instead of hostels, like most of our fellow travelers did, we opted for airbnb’s. For some, hostels are a great way to meet new people, but for this trip, we really wanted quality time with each other, which a private apartment provided. This was seriously the best decision we could have made. It was so nice to have our own space to come home to, privacy and security for our belongings, and gave us the true cultural experience. In peak season, most of the time, staying in a hostel was equal-priced or more expensive than splitting an airbnb 3 ways.

    Sometimes, though, airbnb’s weren’t always so easy to book. When we just needed a place, Hotwire was an incredible resource. On hotwire, you put in where you are wanting to stay, and it gives you a list of hotels in the region without their names. The downside is that you don’t quite know what the hotel is called until you book it, but the upside is that you get a WAY cheaper price this way. It’s not like you’re booking in the dark though, when picking the place, it gives you the neighborhood it’s located in, price, and customer reviews. We had great experiences with it!

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  7. Book your transportation – For the same reasons I recommend booking your stay before your trip, I also recommend booking your transportation. Let me say this first: Figuring out trains in Europe was probably one of the hardest things to manuver. So, if you’re wanting to pull your hair out, you aren’t alone. It was definitely confusing. While planes were definitely a more comfortable route, traveling by train is so much fun.
    By train: For our train transportation, we ordered a Eurail pass. This pass MUST be ordered before your trip. The site can be pretty confusing, so really allow yourself time to sift through it and see what is the best option for you. Since we were going to less places for more time, an unlimited pass didn’t make sense for us. Instead, we did a select pass that allowed 4 trips. For the rest of the transportation we needed, we went by plane.
    By plane: Traveling by plane was definitely, for the most part, a more comfortable option since it was familiar. We did a lot of our flights through Ryanair. We heard some negative things about flying with them, but our trips with them were actually a great experience!
  8. Leave your days open for adventure – As much as I recommend planning ahead on the big things, be sure to leave each day open to adventure. Sure, there will be a few things in each city that are a must-see, but wandering around, adventuring, and exploring are half the fun! Savor each moment.hbkspain-30
  9. Make copies of your documents – Travel tip 101, be sure to make copies of all your documents or take a photo of them on your phone. Passport and credit card are important things to have copies of. Send pictures of these copies to relatives so that if you loose your phone, you have a backup!
  10. Take a deep breath – Planning a trip to Europe can be overwhelming and stressful,  I know firsthand. But this is going to be a trip you will remember forever. Take a deep breath and just know that regardless of if you have every wrinkle ironed out, this is going to be a trip for the books. Enjoy the process and don’t be afraid to ask for help!

I hope these tips helped you in your planning process! Now grab a cup of coffee, read through your favorite travel blogs, and get excited because you’re going to Europe!

European Travels Part 7: Paris

Oh, Paris. Seriously, where do I even begin with this city. The intricate details in every building’s architecture, the sidewalk cafes around every corner, the bakerys that are a feast for the tummy and eyes, the style, the romance…I could truly go on and on. Paris was everything I anticipated and more.

One of my favorite moments of the trip was our first night in Paris when we first approached the Eiffel Tower. We were in awe, it was as though the heavens collided and we felt as though we had made it. And then, as if we were the starlets of some romance film, the Eiffel Tower started sparkling and shining it’s countless lights against the gradient of a perfectly-timed sunset. Paris *sigh*

I’m so excited to share my time in Paris with you all. My photos won’t even begin to do this city justice, all I can do is urge everyone to go and see it for yourself.

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Sidewalk Cafes can be found around every corner. They are not seldom in this city. Sit and enjoy a drink, people watch, relax. My best moments of traveling happen like this.

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European Travels Part 6: Amsterdam

Ah, Amsterdam. The city of bikes, good design, and wonky buildings painted different colors on every street. Amsterdam is a city that is filled to the brim with rich culture and a laid-back lifestyle I could definitely get used to. With streets that line canal after canal, more bikes than people, and a value for it’s sweets, Amsterdam is a place you don’t want to miss.

We had about 4 days in Amsterdam and our favorite part of the whole trip was our Airbnb. Seriously, we lucked out. The apartment we stayed in was in a hip residential area called Oud-West, which is seated right behind the infamous VondelPark. Not only was our location a perfect distance from the hustle and tourism of the city center, but the streets were conveniently filled with markets, restaurants, and cafe’s to meet all of our needs. You can rent it yourself here!

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European Travels part 5: London

Hi, friends! Life has been crazy and I keep putting off the last 3 cities on my Europe recap. As little time as I have, I just want to get them on here, or else I know I’ll never finish and it will drag out waaaay longer than it needs to.

London, England. England was the third country we traveled to and was the place we were in the longest. We were in London 6-7 days. For those of you who have been and know how expensive it is, you probably thought it was a little crazy of us. We decided to stay in London the longest because of the fact that we had free places to stay here. Being hosted by friend is by far the best (and most budget-friendly) way to travel!

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Our first connection was with a family in Croyden. Croyden is a suburb about 30 minutes south of London. Now, before we got to London, 30 minutes didn’t seem like too far from the city. Once we got there, we quickly changed our minds. The cheapest transportation pass (per day) in London was about 18 pounds. Crazy! As soon as we figured this out, we scheduled our time accordingly and scrambled for a new place to stay in the city. Luckily, Hannah had a connection in the city who was actually going to have a vacant apartment during the time we would be there! She let us stay in her apartment for free the rest of our time in London. This made a HUGE difference, being in the middle of the city. If you’re going to London, do your best to find housing downtown!

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London is painted with historical buildings and architecture everywhere you turn. It’s a beautiful mix between the old and modern London. They do an incredible job preserving the old buildings and homes.

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The Camden Market is a district filled with thrifty finds, vintage stores, and an eclectic mix of tourists and locals alike. There is a clothing market and a food market. As funky as the clothing market was, I wasn’t too impressed with the quality of items. I was more drawn to the food market because it was filled with vendors giving you a true ‘foodie’ experience with foods from all over the world.

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The Borough Market is another great place for you foodies out there. They have every type of food you could think of! It’s a great place to get a meal + some souvenirs!

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One of our favorite spots was a coffee shop we stumbled upon called “The Book Club”. It had a great environment for enjoying a coffee, people watching, or grabbing a bite to eat.

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One of my favorite memories in London was when we did a ‘high tea’ at the Dean St. Townhouse. High Tea’s are very common in London, especially for special occasions. Everyone orders a different type of tea (you get your own pot), finger sandwiches, scones, and desserts. A perfect way to spend an afternoon. You feel super cultured and girly while enjoying a high tea. A little pricey, but it was definitely one of the highlights of our trip!
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  • High Tea at Dean St. Townhouse
  • Lunch at the Borough Market
  • Fish and Chips at Shakespeare’s Pub (it’s a must!)
  • A stroll or bike ride through Hyde Park
  • Seeing Buckingham Palace! It’s pretty surreal.
  • TRY PIMMS CUP! My trip to London made this drink one of my new summer favorites.
  • Camden Market
  • Clapham Commons. Grab a pitcher of Pimms Cup and a blanket and lay out on the grass!
  • Clapham Junction is a really young, hip area of London full of great restaurants and pubs.
  • Harrod’s. We never went, but I wish we would have just to have seen it!

Next Up: Amsterdam! Thanks for following along on my trip recap!

European Travels Part 4: Day Trips in Italy

On our trip, we spent the most time (a full week) in Italy. We knew that there were a few core places we wanted to stay (Rome and Florence), but we also knew that there are so many places in Italy we just couldn’t miss. Today I’m going to be recapping our three day trips in Italy: Tuscany, Cinque Terre, and Venice! 

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Ah, Tuscany. The wine region. If there was anything on my bucket list for Europe, it was to do a wine tour in the rolling tuscan hills! And, we did just that. For this specific outing, it was just me and Hannah. We went with Tuscan Wine Tours for our wine tasting. It was about $100 a person and that price included a wine tasting class to start your day, transportation to and from Tuscany, tour of two local wineries, a classic tuscan lunch at the second winery. Let me just say, this was probably the best thing I spent my money on the whole trip. If you have the opportunity, you must do this!

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^The three sections are different grapes which produce different types of wine. 

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We learned so much, met a bunch of great people, and had one of the best meals of our whole trip. An unforgettable experience!

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Cinque Terre, have you heard of it? If you haven’t, you’re welcome. Cinque Terre is a region on the coast of Italy, made up of five different small towns. If you’ve ever seen that picture floating on pinterest of all the colorful little houses off the coast, this is the place. A lot of people hike from town to town, but we just decided to stay in one city for the day, explore, and lay on the beach.

One big mistake we made: I didn’t really know that one of the main attractions of Cinque Terre was the public beach. I had always known water was a part of Cinque Terre, but didn’t know how much beach there actually ones. Unfortunately, we didn’t bring our bathing suits for this reason, but it was for sure one of my biggest regrets!

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Caprese salad while overlooking the italian coast with wine for the table. Doesn’t get much more italian than that! 

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Venice was our last stop in Italy before we flew out for London! While I’m glad we can say we went, Venice was actually one of my least favorite spots. Don’t take my word for it though, I’ve heard some people say it was their favorite! For me, I kept wondering where everyone was! The streets seemed empty, which was quite the change from the busy italian streets we were used to. It was fun to get lost on the streets and alley ways of Venice, though!

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*My best advice for your time in Italy is to do a wine tour! You wont regret it!

*Get a liter of wine at every meal.

*Cinque Terre – don’t miss it. But be sure to bring swim suits. I would have loved to stay the night there if I had the option to.

*Gondola rides are way overpriced, but you can haggle!

*At some of the wineries, they also harvest olive oil! Since we didn’t check luggage, bringing home a bottle of wine wasn’t really an option. But, olive oil comes in a travel size, so be sure to get two or three or ten to bring home to loved ones!

*Be sure to try your best to stay in Venice when you visit. We stayed on the outskirts, which made the commute way further than desired.

To sum up my time in Italy, I will just say that I could have spent my entire month in this wonderful country. I’m set on coming back, that’s for sure. Next up, London Town!