italy

Lately I’ve been reminiscing on a Europe trip I did two years ago… probably because around this time TWO YEARS ago, I was planning for the trip with my friend, Priscila. It’s crazy how fast time goes by. Also, with Spring Break coming up, this seemed like a good blog post to do!

The reason we went to Europe was for a study abroad program. Before we met up with the class, we went to London for 8 hours, and Paris for 24 hours. After our program, we went to Italy for a few days. In Italy, we visited the must-see places in Rome, Venice, Pisa and Florence!

Everything is so breath taking in Europe… there is so much history in everything you see. Every detail in all the architecture is absolutely amazing. Amongst all the must-see things, my favorite thing in every city is to just wander and explore. But keep in mind, it is a lot easier to get lost in European cities than in American cities.

Things to do in…

Rome

Lets start off with what we did in Rome!

  • Colesseum
  • St. Peter’s Basilica
  • Roman Forum
  • Trevi Fountain
  • Vatican Museums
  • Spanish Steps
  • Sistine Chapel
  • Piazza Navona

Venice

By far the easiest city to get lost in. I’m pretty sure it took us about two hours to find St. Marks Square.

P.S. Best lasagna I’ve ever had!!

  • Basilica di San Marco
  • St. Mark’s Square
  • Ride a Gondola
  • Rialto Bridge

Florence

  • Florence Cathedral
  • Ponte Vecchio

Pisa

We didn’t do much here because it was a half day trip! We just wanted to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa!!

  • Leaning Tower of Pisa
  • Piazza dei Miracoli
  • Pisa Cathedral

 

Here is a little video I put together of my Outfit of the Days in Rome and Venice 🙂

another san diego adventure

My last San Diego adventure, Maggie and I explored Carlsbad, Encinitas, North Park and a bit of La Jolla. Maggie came to visit again so we explored some new areas!

This time we went to Downtown San Diego, and La Jolla, (and Disneyland but that doesn’t count (but I’ll show some pics we took anyway shhh)).

I’m going to start this blog post off with a little story. So I don’t have a car so I use my moms or my sisters.. but for the weekends when I have friends visiting, I use my moms car! Her car is my fav thing ever BUT its a two door car. So its small.. but I assumed that Maggie’s suitcase would fit or we would make it work lol but it didn’t…

I get to the airport and I see her and we wave excitedly, so I pull to the curb and suddenly there is a HUGE bus behind me and they can’t pull up to the curb so the bus driver starts yelling at me!!! Excuse me, you’re an adult?! Before he started yelling, Maggie comes to the car and we start to put the suitcase in the car… and it doesn’t fit. So then the guy started yelling.. then they started laughing at us because the suitcase didn’t fit. Then I get in the car and pull it up a little hoping it would give them room but I guess it didn’t and they continue yelling and laughing. Then the bus driver got out of the bus and tried to help us put the suitcase in and we told him to leave because, no we don’t need your help at this point! Now at this point, everyone was looking at us so we just unpack her whole suitcase and we put her clothes in the trunk. Then we put the huge suitcase on her lap, I called my friend, Ariana and we drove about 15 minutes to her house to drop off Maggie’s suitcase for the day and decided to figure it out at the end of the day lol.

Once we got to Ariana’s, we changed and regrouped and went on with our day. Our first stop was Cafe Gratitude in Little Italy. Seriously the cutest place ever, 10/10 would recommend. They treat you SO well and the food was SO good.

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From there, we explored the area and just took photos.

After that, we went to Balboa Park and walked around and took more photos! (All we do is take photos). Then we decided, it was time to go home. We went back to Ariana’s and at the point, Maggie was so over it… so we just threw away the suitcase hahahah (and we gave her one of ours)! When we got home, we just hung out and relaxed!

Then day two, we went to La Jolla and explored around there! I’ve never explored the area we were in and it was beautiful! We started off with going to La Valencia Hotel and guess what we did there… took photos! We became friends with a worker at the pool and he took photos of us!

After the hotel, and before our exploration, we stopped at a smoothie place called Beaming Organic Superfood Cafe and it was sooo good and they were so nice!

Then before we went home, we drove along the water and stopped and took pics.

Day three was Disneyland!!! Maggie’s 2nd time there! (It was just a normal Disney day… so if you want me to do a blog post on tips and tricks of Disneyland and what not, let me know!)

(Most of these photos are unedited so don’t mind me on that!! lol)

 

 

how I plan for trips

So I am currently sitting at the kitchen table, eating homemade vegan cookies, scrollin’ through Pinterest planning a trip to LA this weekend with my best friend and I thought what a better time to write a blog post on how I plan for my trips than now! Whether you’re planning for a long trip or a short trip, I have the tips for you!

I asked my friend the other day if she wanted to go to Los Angeles this weekend for one day just for fun because it seemed spontaneous and fun to explore and adventure! I’ve gone to LA multiple times but have only done the most tourist of tourists things you could possibly think of! So I want to plan a trip that is more than just tourist things, I always like to plan like that because I feel like it opens your eyes to whats around you, and you can learn more from what you see or randoms you meet. Obviously, you do have to make time for the tourist things as well though – like the Hollywood sign in LA, the Empire State Building in NYC, or the Bean in Chicago. Those are what make the trip. But I like to look for places that aren’t too touristy and that are cute and artsy (obviously).

So what I do first, is research… I read blogs, I go on Pinterest, I check others’ Instagrams and just open my eyes to what is out there. Once I have a better idea, I start to make a list of what appeals to me. I go through and look at a bunch more blogs and posts, etc. I continue to add to my list. I also text people who have been and ask for recommendations on must sees.

Once I have my list all set, I pull up a map of the city and I open an excel document. I do research on the areas to learn their names and see what they have to offer. I sort out all the places I am interested in by the areas they are in. Then I check the map again and see what makes sense. I plan according to how far things are. I also take into account if it a restaurant or museum and it has hours for when it is open. Depending on how many days you have, you will plan differently. I was in San Francisco for two and a half months so I had a looot of time to explore these areas and places, but for this trip to LA, we have one day so we will probably stay within a few areas that are around each other. I also take into account the time length of the trip because you might not only want to go to one area for a specific thing; I recommend taking the time to explore that area and not only limit yourself to whatever you have planned. It is important to plan extra time for that because sometimes its good to just roam and explore! And thats how I plan for my adventures. I want to make sure I see everything but also enjoy my time there – you never know when you will go back to some place so plan and live it to the fullest – and remember to look up and around and not always down at your phone!

san diego

I have been living in San Diego County for about the past four years and I’ve just been kind of living – going places where my friends think are cool and such. I haven’t really taken the time to learn about San Diego and see what there is to do! So my friend Maggie came to visit and it was a perfect excuse to make my signature excel document on things to do based on articles and Instagram, as well as things I like to do. She was only here for two and a half days. I decided to devote one day to Carlsbad and Encinitas, and the other day to San Diego (North Park and La Jolla). Maggie and I LOVE taking photos so I decided to take her to some cool places where we could take photos. We started off the first day with brunch at Native Foods. The vegan mac and cheese is to DIE for omg I haven’t stopped thinking about it. After that we were on our way to Carlsbad. We explored Carlsbad Village for a bit. I took her to Spin Records and Lhooq Books, as well. Lhooq Books is such a cute, lowkey book shop. The photo of Maggie and I was taken by a photographer that we met at the book store! His Instagram handle is @sweetpapermedia. Such a cool guy!

We just explored random streets around the area until it was dinnertime. We grabbed food to-go from Eve Encinitas, took it to the beach and watched the sunset! The next morning, we had breakfast at home but had matcha at Holy Matcha! which is everything aesthetically pleasing. Maggie is a matcha fanatic so how could we not go there. We explored North Park for a bit. It was my first time there and I really enjoyed the area. It has a lot of cool and artsy places!


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After a bit of exploring there, we stopped by the Spruce Street Suspension Bridge on our way to La Jolla. This has been on my bucket list since I have moved to San Diego and I finally went!! After that, we went to La Jolla to try Trilogy Sanctuary which was AMAZING. Its looks weird on the outside but go to the fourth floor and it is a roof top restaurant! Once we finished there, we were a bit tired from all that we’ve done with the day so we went back home. After we napped, we went to the Carlsbad Forum because that is the best mall ever. It was a quick trip but we fit a lot and it was a great time! San Diego is always a good idea!

new york city

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The first time I ever went to New York City was when I was a Sophomore in high school – it was the time in my life where NYU and FIT were my dream schools and after I attended one of those schools, I would move to Paris and be a fashion designer (haha who am i kidding… thats still my dream today). I went to NYC with my fashion merchandising class for a field trip (why was this a thing in HIGH SCHOOL? idc, thank God it was) and it was the most amazing trip of my life- I loved NYC so much. I even thought the subways were the coolest thing at that age – but I didn’t know anything about traveling because I was with a teacher and a whole class so I didn’t get to learn the city the right way.
Five years later… my best friend’s mom texts me and asks if I would want to go to New York City with my best friend for her birthday. Keep in mind- I have asked my mom at LEAST once a year for the past 5 years if we could go to New York Fashion Week and it never happened, so when this happened, I said HECK YA and my mom said yes VERY EASILY so I saved money for a flight and a few months later was off to New York City- to explore like a true traveler this time!

This is what my list of things to do looked like: 

(peep the Instagram caption idea for the Met steps hahaha)

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So Jasmine (my best friend and the birthday girl) flew from San Diego and arrived around 5am at JFK. I did not get to JFK until 10am I believe. So she ubered to the city, found the hotel, kept her stuff there and explored the area – ALL BY HERSELF, very impressed!!! Then I finally arrived like a million hours later. We met in the middle of the street… what a cute reunion! We went to the hotel- turns out we were at the wrong location- oops! We found the right location, put our stuff there and went out to explore!

The places we actually went from that list:
Times Square
Empire State Building
Top of the Rock Observation Deck
Grand Central Station (funny story… i’ll get to that)
Brooklyn (we saw the bridge, didn’t walk on it though!)
Washington Square Park
Metropolitan Museum of ArtGuggenheim Museum
American Museum of Natural History
9/11 Memorial ​
​Central Park

 

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We purchased the C3 City Pass – you can choose 3 attractions for $76 dollars. We thought this one was more beneficial than the other City Pass because we did not NEED to see everything. So with the C3, we purchased Top of the Rock, Guggenheim Museum, and American Museum of Natural History. We purchased Empire State building tickets separately.

map-hoods4_1_origTo the left, was the map that we followed to know where everything was the whole time. It’s pretty crazy to look at NYC like this on a map because everything looks so easy to understand and get to – which it definitely was. The day we went to Brooklyn, on the subway back, we got off on the Financial District stop and literally walked through Tribeca, Soho, Greenwich Village, Chelsea, and Garment District to get back to Times Square (which is where out hotel was located). I don’t know why we did not uber and our feet sure as heck hurt, but I’m glad we did it this way because we got a feel for each of these areas. I think Jasmine decided that Soho was her favorite.

Aside from the ones listed above, the places on the map that we touched also include: Times Square, Midtown West, Midtown East, Upper West Side, Central Park and Upper East Side.
Guys, I’m not even kidding you… we walked (and took the Subway) EVERYWHERE to make sure we saw EVERYTHING!

 

We are very big Gossip Girl fans so we definitely found our inner Blair and Serena on this trip. We went to Brooklyn and saw how Dan, Rufus and Jenny lived. Saw Chuck Bass’ place in Upper West Side. Ate breakfast for dinner as I hope Blair and Serena would in Upper East Side. We even saw Constance Billard School for Girls.

Brooklyn Pizza… Is it Bella talking if theres no talk about pizza lets be real?! Yes, I’m from Chicago, I’ve had Chicago pizza. I’ve had real Italian pizza from Italy. But this pizza…WOW. It was GOOOD. I don’t remember where we got the pizza and if it was a famous place known for its pizza or if it was one we found on Maps. So I’m sure you can go anywhere and find good pizza.

Okay its also not Bella talk if I don’t talk about bagels. New York is known for their bagels, right? I’m known for my love of bagels so I HAD to go to The Bagel Store in Brooklyn. Very cool. To be honest with you, I didn’t eat the bagel because I did not want to ruin its beauty but I’m sure it was amazing. Lol

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While we’re on the topic of food, I’m gonna go ahead andgive a shoutout to Serendipity 3 (225 E 60th St, New York, NY). The frozen hot chocolate is a must! You might be asking “what the heck is frozen hot chocolate? isn’t that just ice cream?” To be honest, I have no idea but it is AMAZING. I still have dreams about it today, so just do yourself a favor and try it!

Remember when I said I had a funny story about Grand Central Station? Here it is!
On the first day of the trip, Jasmine and I were just strolling around.. Seeing every which way we could walk. We walked through Bryant Park without noticing. Then all of a sudden, I see a big building with a statue on top and I said to Jasmine, “oooh I wonder what that building is and if its anything important.” I squinted my eyes trying to see a name somewhere and started to read “Graaannd… Centraal… Station! OMG its Grand Central Station!” And we both started freaking out. Ok I’m sorry if that wasn’t THAT funny but to us, it was the most hilarious thing for some reason. We just kept walking past popular places seen in movies… and we did it again!

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Central Park is just beautiful… and in the SNOW! Its a lot to walk ALL around but at least walk a lot of it! You can end up in some cool spots!
(Not to fangirl about Gossip Girl again… but we saw where Chuck and Blair got married and I don’t know if my eyes were watering because of the cold or if I was actually crying…)

 

Just remember! Don’t be a tourist, be a traveler 🙂
Take advantage of your time there, explore different and random areas… you might find your new favorite city/town!
And definitely take any place as a photo op!

 

chicago

So I’m from Chicago.
Okay, you caught me, I’m not exactly from Chicago… I grew up in a suburb about 30 minutes outside of Chicago, in Illinois.
But since I’ve lived there for a majority of my life, I figured why not tell you the best things to do in Chicago!

I love exploring new cities and seeing what they are all about. There is just something so magical to me about walking through the buildings and feeling that fresh, cold air.. Each city is unique. One of my favorite things about Chicago, besides the cleanliness, is that on Lake Shore Drive, you look to one side and you get a beautiful view of the city, then you look to your other side and you see Lake Michigan.. I don’t really know how to explain what I find so beautiful about that, but you’ll see it too.

FOOD

​IMG_0009I’m not saying I’m a picky eater… I am selective. I am willing to try new things but I know what I like. And what I like is pizza. And more pizza.

My mouth is watering just thinking about it, WOW.
Anyway, you have to try both deep dish and thin crust pizza. They are both so amazing.The places I recommend are Lou Malnatis and Giordano’s. Both are great.
(The photo to your left is me eating Lou’s on the beach of Lake Michigan.. doesn’t get better than that, huh?)

This is very non-Chicagoan of me. I apologize. I have never had a Chicago-style hot dog (like I said, selective eater) BUT I have heard they are amazing so just do it.

You like popcorn? Go to Garrett Popcorn. I swear you can smell it from miles away.

FUN

Chicago has lots of fun things to do over the summer, such as Lollapalooza and Taste OfIMG_0422 Chicago. One thing I really enjoyed was a movie in the park.. Millennium Park that is. We watched Grease so that was pretty amazing. After or before the movie, I would explore what else there is to see in Millennium Park because there is a lot. Such as the Bean, the Crown Fountain and much more.
And in the winter, you can ice skate in Millennium Park!

If you’re like me and you LOVE musicals or shows, I recommend checking out what Broadway in Chicago has playing and definitely see something- even if you don’t know what it is because you’ll still probably end up loving it!
​Lets not forget about Navy Pier. What isn’t there to do at Navy Pier!

  • Centennial Wheel
  • Navy Pier Park
  • ​​​Beer Garden
  • IMAX Theatre
  • The Crystal Gardens
  • Children’s Museum
  • Shakespeare Theatre
  • Public Art
  • Shopping
  • And just strolling indoor and outdoors to see what you find!

 

Museums are fun… go to all of them!

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    This is the view of the city from the Adler Planetarium

    Art Institute ofChicago

  • Field Museum of Natural History
  • Museum of Science and Industry
  • Museum of Contemporary Art
  • Adler Planetarium

 

 

 

You should also go to Shedd Aquarium and Lincoln Park Zoo (its free!) to see animals!

The Chicago Riverwalk… definitely worth the stroll.

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Go to a sports game! Depending on the season you’re there, you’ll find a game to go to.

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Lastly, just explore!
One of mine and my sisters favorite thing to do, is walk around and take photos! We love to find amazing views, cool buildings and walls full of art. I truly believe the best way to really get to know a city is just to explore. Do all the touristy things, then take time to explore.. get lost and find yourself in some really cool places!

disney college program

My experience on the Disney College Program in Orlando, FL.

Last January or February, of 2016. I was laying on my couch looking outside. The weather was that perfect Disneyland weather.. you know, the one where its sunny but a little chilly- but not too chilly. I was thinking to myself how badly I wish my pass didn’t expire and how I should get a job so I could buy a new one. Then I thought to myself, “girl. you have always wanted to work at Disney, whether you were Belle or just working at Disney. Just apply to the Disney College Program and you can probably get into the parks for FREE!” so I pulled out my laptop and applied just like that! I said that my top three interests were merchandise, photo pass, and character. I really had NO idea what each of those entailed and if I was capable of doing them but I wanted to make my 8 year old’s self dream come true!!

A week went by… I had an online interview. A month or two went by… I had a phone interview. There she asked me if I had any experience taking photos – I told her I enjoy it for fun. She asked if I went to a character audition or planned to – none of the days worked out so I said no. Maybe another month went by. I was sitting at the movie theatre as the previews for The Jungle Book were on… I thought to myself OMG! they said they would let me know in April… its April 15th let me check. And I got an email that I was accepted into the Disney College Program!!!!!!!!! As a merchandise cast member – WOOOHOOOOOO! In Orlando, Florida.
I was terrified to tell my parents – I had just moved to California about 3-4 years before and now I would have to pack up again and move to Disney World for 6 months. But… I told them the next day and they were so excited!!!!! That day, I filled out everything I needed to fill out- I joined all the Facebook groups to find roommates. Its hard to find good roommates… But I definitely got the best!

Now lets get to the fun part….

What should you do when you visit Disney World?
Well everything, obviously!

My top favorite rides at each park:
Magic Kingdom: Big Thunder Mountain and Under the Sea – Journey of The Little Mermaid
Hollywood Studios: Tower of Terror and Toy Story Mania
Animal Kingdom: Expedition Everest and Kilimanjaro Safaris
Epcot: Frozen Ever After and Test Track

I couldn’t pick a favorite show at each park because you literally need to see ALL of them, so amazing!

If you’re at Disney World for a good chunk of time and you have time, it is really cool to resort hop. Disney definitely pays really close attention to detail and sure makes it feel like you have escaped reality, even when going to the resorts! The top 3 that are closest to Magic Kingdom that you should visit are Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, Polynesian Village Resort, and Contemporary Resort. I also recommend doing character dining at one or all of the resorts – definitely a cool experience. If the adults want some adult fun with some great tunes, please go to Jellyrolls at the Boardwalk Resort, you’ll thank me. My, of age roommates and I would go way too often just because it was such a fun experience.

Entertainment 
I was never a big fan of fireworks for some reason but when my roommates sat me down and made me watch Wishes… you can bet that was a very magical moment for me. It was a great story and lesson being told. On my last day of the program, very last day, my roommates (minus one) and I watched it for the very last time and you know we cried. I remember hearing Jiminy say, “the best part is, you’ll never run out of wishes.” And that was just an inspiring part for me at that moment because I truly felt as though I made all of my wishes come true- but then he said that and I knew that meant it was time to make more wishes rather than dwell on the past. SO yes… I recommend watching the fireworks. Unfortunately, they ended Wishes… but they have a new fireworks show called Happily Ever After- and it is amazing. I watched it online and well, cried so yup!

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As for parades, you can’t miss the 3 o’clock parade… its on everyday at 3 o’clock! The real name is Festival of Fantasy. Watch it.

Also, I dare you to wake up at 7am to watch the welcome show. Definitely an experience.

 

Another show we really enjoyed was the Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire!
There is a lot more of entertainment that you find around parks so just embrace it! Those were some of our favorites!

Meet characters!!!

Another fun tip, if you’re there at the right times:
Magic Kingdom has parties! They have a Halloween party and Christmas party! The park is closed down early for the guests who pay to attend the party. There is a new parade, new fireworks and rare characters that usually aren’t seen normally! It is definitely worth the money!

Epcot has festivals: Food and Wine Festival and the International Flower and Garden Festival.
The Food and Wine Festival takes place in the Fall so I was lucky enough to go to it. During this event, they have special foods and wine or other alcohol beverages that each country is known for that you can sample… its very tasty!
The Flower and Garden Festival happens in the Spring. Here they showcase flowers and gardens… I don’t know much about it but its Disney and Epcot so you gotta go!

This is random but I just wanted to give a shoutout to Animal Kingdom. Yes the attractions are fun, the animals are so cool, and the shows are amazing… but one day, just take time to explore Animal Kingdom. There are some pretty cool sayings on the walls, as well as just exploring and feeling like you literally escaped and you are now in Asia and Africa. Definitely a must.

Okay don’t forget about Disney Springs! Talk about ALL MY FAVORITE STORES IN ONE PLACE – does Disney know or what?!?!?!
Disney Springs is the perfect way to still feel as though you’re at one of the Disney parks with all the entertainment… but you are shopping!!
At Disney Springs, you can find not only shopping, but good food.. and good entertainment. You can find bowling, music, Disney Quest, all of it!
If you are a fan of seeing really cool talent… You have to see whatever Cirque du Soleil show is playing. Seriously breathtaking!

Again, I’m just gonna end this blog post telling you to live your life to the FULLEST. Believe in your dreams… and never stop making wishes!!!!
Leaving the home I made for myself the past 4 years, for just 6 months was incredibly hard. But my excitement took over all of that fear because I just knew in my heart that this trip was going to be so worth it- and it definitely was! I believe that all the trips you are presented to go on will be so worth it and definitely a learning lesson. I learned a lot during my time here- whether its to live everyday to the fullest, how to deal with other types of individuals, lessons I can take into my future career… I’m going to take it with on all my endeavors.

No one could’ve said it better than Belle…

“I want adventure in the great wide somewhere!”