Friday, July 22, 2011

"Crepe-ing" my way through Paris

While having only been in Paris for a mere 5 days, I can safely say I have eaten enough french pastries & cheese for an entire year. So far, despite the very rainy weather, the trip has been magical. I have roamed nearly every neighborhood, took advantage of the wonderful French sales going on right now, & even made time to see Harry Potter in a quaint French theater. Even though I wake up every morning and my body is sore in every way imaginable, I love this city. With just two and a half days left, Allie and I are planning to take in a few more of the sights including the Louve, Angelina's for french hot chocolate, The Catacombes, & the infamous Parisian flea markets. Hope you all are enjoying those hot summer days while we cool off under the cloudy Parisian skies.
p.s. these pictures may seem of infinitely higher quality...that's because with Allie, also comes her Nikon DX
the top of Sacre Coeur
LaDuree French Macarons
beneath the Eiffel Tower
the Louis Vuitton flagship store on the Champs-Elysses

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Bon Jour

Greetings from Paris! After arriving early this morning on a surprisingly comfortable overnight train, I maneuvered through the metro system (which at one point included getting stuck in between the turn styles & having to climb back over and by another ticket) and arrived at my hotel smoother than planned. After dropping my bags off, I headed to Notre Dame to meet up with one of my friend's I met in Pamplona- however, with the chaotic crowd of people and lack of wifi connection, we were unable to find each other. Even so, I decided to do some exploring.
Following a recommendation Jenna gave me (she spent 5 weeks in Paris last summer), I landed at L'Au du Falafel for a delicious lunch. After filling my belly, I wandered for a few hours and ended up seeing many of the main sights of Paris. Including the Louve, a distant view of the Eiffel tower, the Champs Elysees and the Arc de Triomphe. Already, I am falling in love with this city and as of yet my lack of knowledge in French has yet to be a problem.
On a more serious note, Allie and I both received some startling news about one of our dear friends. It is making it difficult in many ways to enjoy this trip knowing someone we love is going through something so difficult and we can't be there for her. Thankfully, Allie and I will finally be together (in 3 hours or so) and I am hoping we will be able to embrace this opportunity we have and realize how precious life truly is.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Hasta Pronto Espana (Goodbye Spain)

I never thought the time would actually come to say goodbye to my beloved Espana. I feel like I have lived here all my life. I completely immersed myself in this culture and it felt like a perfect fit. From the people to the lifestyle, it will be so strange adjusting back to life in suburbia. The more time I spend in cities, the more I realize how much of a city girl I truly am.
However, I can not complain about having to abandon Barcelona, because fortunately for me, I am not yet headed back to Arizona but in fact headed for the city of love. Oh yes, I am finally going to Paris! And better yet, I am meeting my best friend there. I do not think anything in the world could be more perfect. I will be having my own Blair & Serena moment (a la the first few episodes of season 4). Maybe I will even meet my own Louie! (This statement is HIGHLY unlikely...if not impossible)
Right now, I am headed out to enjoy my final night in Barcelona at the Montjuic park magic fountain and bask in all the beautiful things, places, and people I have met throughout my Spanish adventure.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

A flurry of sights

These past 2 or 3 days (I am losing track!) have been a world wind of breath taking sights, wonderful foods, & incredible amounts of walking. I have also gotten to experience the Barcelona night life which is beyond amazing. Needless to say, my body is sore and I am exhausted. While I had plans today to spend the morning on the beach, the rain clouds that ascended on the city last night thought it would be better if I spent the morning lounging around the apartment. While I love the way the rain changes the landscape of the city, I am hoping that my last two days in Barcelona will be filled with lots of sunshine and sunscreen. Here are a few of my favorite sights I saw over the past few days.
Wonderful fresh fruit from La Boqueria
Gaudi's Casa Batallo
National Palace at Montjuic Park
Views from Olympic Stadium
Joan Miro park

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Beautiful beaches & Captivating Cathedrals

My first day in Barcelona did not go as planned. After a lovely morning spent lying on the beach, I decided I should try and venture out and get my first glimpse of the city. After getting a little lost on my way to the Museo Picasso, I stumbled upon the incredible Barcelona Cathedral. Even under construction (like nearly every cathedral here in the city) it was breathtaking to see. After my little detour, I finally found the charming neighborhood where the Museo Picasso is located. However, I was greeted by an unpleasant sight of an hour long line to enter the museum. Had I realized that, since the museum is free on Sunday afternoons, it would probably be busy, I would have arrived earlier. But alas, I did not. Instead of waiting in line to only have to rush through the exhibits, I decided to wander around. After finding the arc de triompf (and an old man, who in Spanish, advised me to watch my purse) I decided to continue my walk. Only after 10 minutes did I realize I was heading in the direction of the Sagrada Familia. Needless to say, I was more than happy to have stumble upon Gaudi's masterpiece. While I did not go inside (as there was yet another long line), just seeing the exterior was enough to make my jaw drop.
Overall, for having only been in the city for 24 hours, without a map or anyone to guide me around, I'd say I had a rather fantastic day. Here's to hoping tomorrow will go a little more as planned- or not since getting lost in Europe is what I do best!
Cube Installation at Barceoneta Beach
Barcelona Cathedral
Arc de Triompf
The Sagrada Familia

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Goodbye Pamplona

What an incredible, incredible week. By far, Pamplona has been my favorite part of my trip so far. And not because of how much fun I had at San Fermin (which was in many ways TOO much fun) but because of the wonderful people I met along the way. With everyone in town for the festival, there was an incredible sense of camaraderie. I even have plans for when I arrive in Paris next Sunday to reunite with one of my Aussie friends and have a baguette under the Eiffel tower.
To be able to describe the San Fermin festival would be an impossible fete. While the running of the bulls itself does not seem to be all that thrilling to watch, the energy before and after the race makes those hours of waiting for a 2 minute race all worth while. After the Chipunazo on Wednesday, we spent the rest of the day in the park soaking up sun and drinking tinto de verano. We made it an early night so we could get up early to see the first encierro. After getting a fairly decent spot for how late we arrived, we got our first glimpse at the infamous running of the bulls. It was very anti-climatic since the bulls were in no one angry or terrifying but gentle creatures being chased by a bunch of drunken idiots. After the race we got the traditional San Fermin breakfast of chocolate y churros from this incredible Churreria. While it took a half an hour and 8 euro to get them, they were more than worth it. Quickly afterwards we caught the procesion where 100 year old "gigantes" dance through the streets as the San Fermin statue is carried around town. However, after this, we were all exhausted and headed back home for a siesta.
Thursday night we experienced all the "marcha" San Fermin had to offer. After literally dancing the entire night away, we arrived at the infamous Dead Man's Corner at 5am in order to get front row seats. This area of the run is well known because often the bulls loose control at this turn and slide into the gate, which often times means running into people as well. After buying a San Fermin jumper (or sweatshirt for my American friends, I have been hanging with too many Aussies!) and a cup of cafe con leche, I settled in to wait for the run to begin. We were the first ones there so we had some of the best seats in the house. It was pure comedy watching so many drunk tourists getting dragged out of the run by the (incredibly attractive) police officers. Some even snuck back in by scrabbling under the gates. However, I unfortunately saw no fatal injuries or any injuries for the matter. While MANY have occurred, most people only hear about them on the news and rarely see them.
After spending the entire night out, we somehow managed to drag ourselves to the nearby seaside town of San Sebastian. Close to the French border, San Sebastian was one of the most beautiful cities I have seen in Spain. I wish I could have spent more time there but alas, there are only so many hours in the day.
I finally arrived in Barcelona and am looking forward to my last week in Spain. I can not believe how fast these past 3 weeks have gone by.
Plaza Consistorial
Chocolate y Churros
Los Gigantes and El Procesion
Dead Man's Corner The beautiful beach of San Sebastian

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

San Fermin

"Todo el mundo está invitado y a todo el mundo le gustaría venir, pero solo unos pocos son los elegidos"
Translation: All the world is invited, and all the world wants to come, but few are elected

And so the madness known as San Fermin finally begins. It is only 9 am here and already the shops and streets are filled with people preparing for the opening ceremony, El Chupinazo. At noon, everyone heads to the town center to put on their "pañuelo" (a red scarf) to symbolize the beginning of San Fermin. While I am not wearing the customery attire, almost everyone else is decked out in all white outfits with red belts. For the next 9 days, Pamplona is the party capital of the world. Tomorrow is the first "encierro" (or running of the bulls are we call it in the States) and I plan on having a front row seat- even if that means getting there at 6am. It has been amazing seeing the city transform in a matter of days.
On Monday when I toured the city, it seemed like a quiet, tranquil place.While there were people, it was nothing to the magnitude of the business of Madrid. However, yesterday the city transformed. Everywhere I looked I saw groups of young people (mostly Australians) heading to set up their camp. Even though the festivites do not officially begin until today,last night thousands of people were sitting in the streets drinking beer. Already on my walk to school this morning I saw people sleeping in the park. And this is only supposed to get worse. Luckily, I am actually here during one of the least crazy times. This weekend will be pure madness and most Pamplonicas actually leave town because they hate being bombared with all the tourists. I have a feeling 3 days of San Fermin will be more than sufficient.

Feeling like a vagabond

It feels like ages since I have been near a computer with internet connection. Now that I am finally settled in here in Pamplona, I can finally sit down and recount what has happened over the past few days.
On Saturday, I spent the day in Alicante- a beautiful beach on the Costa Blanca. I took an early morning train and arrived in time to meet up with some friends from Madrid. After spending the day at the beach, soaking up way too much sun, we ventured into town to enjoy dinner at the Marina. Of course we ordered sea food and enjoyed red wine as we looked out on the amazing scenery. After indulging in torte de chocolate, we looked around the open air market near the Marina and discovered more of the quaint Alicante community.
Sunday proved to be the most emotionally tumulotous day yet. After catching an early train back to Madrid, I had exactly one hour to get back to my homestay, grab my suitcase, and make the train for Pamplona. After sprinting home, I came home to my mama Española dripping in sweat and in a state of desperation. The look in her eyes when she realized I would be leaving for good in a matter of minutes was heart wrenching. She quickly prepared me lunch as I threw items into my suitcase. When I reappeared to say my final goodbye, emotions took over the both of us as we scrabbled to take photos to remember my time in their home. While I was expecting to cry when having to say goodby to Mama María, I did not realize what a wealth of emotions I would feel. I left wishing I could have given them a proper goodbye. However, my hope is that in the near future I can return and see them again.
After the rollercoaster of emotions I experienced, I was elated to finally make it to my seat on the train and have time to process everything that had happened. With each moment on my train to Pamplona, I became more and more excited for what was to come. When I finally arrived, I was not only greeted by beautiful scenery but fresh, cool air. My homestay mom, Ana, is amazing and we have already spent hours talking together in Spanish. On my first day at school I also met a wonderful girl from Australia named Jacqueline. We have already made plans to visit San Sebastian this Thursday on our day off. Needless to say, the city is in a fury right now as everyone prepares for San Fermin. It is going to be incredible and a once in a lifetime opportunity. I can not wait to share more details about the festival, but as it is, this post is rather long, and I feel bad for the 2 of you who actually read all of this.
Tomorrow I will post again (however, no photos, since I can not use my computer) and introduce you all to the Pamplona I have come to love.

Friday, July 1, 2011

The final days in Madrid

I can not believe I am already leaving Madrid- these past 2 weeks flew by. Yesterday, after taking care of some business at the train station, I walked around the Buen Retiro Park some more and finally got to see the Crystal Palace. Before finding the palace, I stumbled upon the rose garden. After reading the map a few dozen more times I finally found the palace. It is such a beautiful structure with such calm, serene surroundings. If I ever do come back to live in Madrid, I will be spending every Sunday reading under a tree near the Palace. Right now both the Crystal Palace and Valzquez Palace in Retiro are being used as museums by the Reina Sofia. While the Valzquez Palace featured a wonderful artist named Leon Goulb, the Crystal Palace had much stranger modern art that simply consisted of eery music, dirty windows with scribbled notes someone had made on the dusty windows & a large platform in the middle of the palace with screens showing images of the city and a slide to get down to the ground on.
After looking at the art musuems, I continued my walk through the park and ended up on the other side with the Puerta de Alcala. Known as the Plaza of Independencia, the arches are in a sense a door to another part of Madrid. After more walking (I am so sore today!) I finally made it to the National Library where I looked at some more exhibits before heading to Serrano to window shop. This area of town is essentially the Rodeo Drive or Madison Avenue of Madrid.
Since all I could afford to do was window shop, I hoped back on the metro and finally sat down for the Menu del dia. Since lunch is typically the big meal here (except if you are living with a host family like I am), restaurants offer three course meals for roughly $15. While I have been cheap this entire trip, yesterday I treated myself to a nice, leisurely meal.
Today, on my last day in Madrid, my plans are rather lazy. I am so glad I got to have a true feel of the city and discover so many parts of it. With the Gay festival this weekend, I am sure I will end up in Chueca tonight before I head for Alicante for the weekend. Hopefully I will be able to post by Monday but my new homestay in Pamplona will most likely not have internet.
Oh well! The joys of a new adventure!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Just because its Marchesa

Although I adore fashion and design, when it comes to following all the latest collections, I usually end up exhausted and ambivalent (and Im only looking at them online!). However, Ive always loved the romanticism of Marchesa's designs and basically wish I could be Georgina Chapman so I thought I'd share some of the beautiful and colorful designs from the resort collection. Just divine.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

El Escorial

Yesterday was mostly uneventful. I took my time in the morning lounging around the house before i did some more exploring of downtown Madrid. After class I came home for a cat nap before heading out for unlimited Sangria at Casa de Cerveza. A perfectly mellow day- which will be much needed as the craziness of this week progresses.
This past morning I finally made it out to El Escorial- an incredible monastery an hour outside of Madrid where all the Spanish kings are buried. While I was able to take pictures of the outside of the monastery, I was not allowed to take pictures in the most impressive part. Housed inside the monastery is an incredible basilica cathedral. They were playing coral music while I was in the church and I got to listen to the Hallelujah Chorus as I sat in the pews and took it all in. After I got back into the city, I was exhausted and so happy to come home and find my homestay mom had made Spanish comfort food for dinner: PAELLA!
This weekend is shaping up to be very exciting! The gay festival is this weekend in Chueca which means tons of people will be in the city. However, I will only get to enjoy it Friday night because I am heading to Costa Blanca (aka the beach!) for an overnight stay before I leave Madrid. With all the hecticness of the city, I am throughly looking forward to twenty four hours of white sand beaches & tropical cocktails. I can not believe my time in Madrid is almost over! Luckily I have Pamplona and all the festivities of San Fermin to look forward to!
p.s. here are some pictures of 2 things I LOVE in Spain: stumbling upon fun kitschy shops like the one with these vintage lamps & the amazing pastelerias

Monday, June 27, 2011

Reina Sofia & Rebajas

So for those of you who are not friends with me on facebook, I am happy to announce that I finally found a camera chord! I am hoping it will make these posts infinitely more entertaining to read.
Last night was probably one of the worst nights I have had here for one reason & one reason alone: the HEAT!!! The past few days Madrid and all of Spain has had record breaking heat. While I am more then used to these temperatures being from Arizona, the lack of air conditioning is what makes it miserable. I am fortunate enough to have a fan in my room but last night for some reason the heat made it impossible to fall asleep.
My day, even with the lack of sleep, was not ruined. I got up early and headed to the Reina Sofia. With 4 massive levels, it is impossible to see everything in one visit. Thus I focused on the modern art & the amazing Pablo Picasso collection. The most impressive work of art I have yet to see the Guernica; it commends your full attention. The exhibit begins with the various sketches and phases Picasso used to create his masterpiece. After seeing all the different sketches he did, I appreciate him so much more as an artist. I am also fascinated by the subject matter surrounding the Guernica (aka the Spanish civil war) and plan on reading more about it later tonight. After I finished visiting the exhibits, I sat down for cafe con leche in the beautifully modern cafeteria located in the museum's new, more modern buildings.

The Museum Gardens
The new addition- amazing architecture!
The museum library I could totally see myself studying in.
With time to kill, I decided to head to a shopping district near school I have yet to browse through. BIG MISTAKE! The large Spanish clothing chain Mango (I know, we have it in the states....but not in Phoenix) is having the "rebajas" (like every other store in Madrid) which means everything, and I mean everything, is 50% off. Needless to say, I picked up a lovely leather satchel as well as a beautiful skirt. After class I did a little more shopping with some girls from class but solely for gifts from my lovely friends back home. Between all of this, I had no energy to go out tonight- even though I wish I had because it is so hot in the apartment. Oh well!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Segovia & El Rastro

It is hard to believe I have already been in Spain for a week. While the days feel tremendously long (most likely due to the fact that the sun does not set until 10pm), this week has flown by. However, in many ways I feel like I have lived in Madrid for a very long time as I have quickly become accustomed with the Spaniard's way of life. Everyday, I am learning to fight my inner American self and take time to enjoy the simple pleasures in life- like sitting & enjoying a cup of coffee.

On Saturday, a group of us went and toured the nearby town of Segovia. Our first stop was the former winter castle of the King of Spain. While we did not go inside, the gardens were beyond incredible. With over 26 fountains, each was just as ornate as the next.
After the palace, we went over to Segovia- which is known for its ancient Roman aqueducts. After making the long trek up to the city center, we got to see yet another incredible cathedral before heading to the castle that inspired the Disney castles we see at Disneyland and Disneyworld!
The view from the top of the castle.
The Castle.
The Cathedral of Segovia.

After Segovia, we decided to keep the night relaxed and just had wine in the park where Templo de Deblod is located. One of our favorites things about the Spanish culture is how everyone gathers in parks (with Sangria of course!)
Today, I got up (relatively) early and had coffee at a plaza near the outdoor flea market known as El Rastro. Later I met up with one of my friends, and we explored the seemingly endless vendor booths- I have never seen anything like it! After spending too much money, I came back and layed by the pool and also practice by spanish with the "soccrista" (lifeguard). Afterwards I headed to the Plaza de Toros with my room mates to take some pictures and grab some ice cream. While they decided to actually go to the bull fight, I decided this was one Spanish cultural item I would skip out on.

As you can see, my weekend was full but I enjoyed every minute of it. And no- I did not find a camera cord, just stole some photos that my friends have uploaded to facebook. Tomorrow I will FINALLY be visiting the Reina Sofia.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Toledo para Corpus Cristi

Hello everyone!
Sorry for my short leave of absence...yesterday was tremendously exhausting and I ended up sleeping for 13 hours (those red eyes finally caught up with me!)
Wednesday night was the pub was definitely an experience. I had a lot of fun getting to know some of the girls better and it's always fun to dance the night away.
On Thursday during the day I went to Toledo with a few friends I met in class. Toledo is an amazing city 30 minutes outside Madrid. It sits on top of a hill and is one of the oldest cities in Spain. We were there for the holiday Corpus Crisit so the city was packed with tourists there to see the parade and celebrate the holiday. After lunch we ventured into the Cathedral which was indescribably beautiful- no picture can do it justice. The rest of the time we just wandered in the beautiful old cobblestone streets. It reminded me alot of what I believe Italy too look like, and luckily one of my friend's who is Italian, was able to confirm my suspicions. After we got back we went back into the city center for a mojito & tapas.
Today, I made the mistake of using my new cell phone as an alarm clock and instead of getting up early to explore the city, I slept till 1 in the afternoon! However, my body needed the rest. After class I went with a few girls to have "vino de verano" (red wine & lemonade) in the parque de oriente across from Palacio Real. As for tonight, my big plans consist of catching up on some American tv on my computer. However tomorrow we are visiting Toledo- another ancient city outside of Madrid- so I will need my rest.
(Interesting fact: It was the marriage of Fernando of Segovia and Isabella of Toledo that united Spain in 1469- not only am I learning the language but the history as well, mom you should be proud!)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

El Palacio Royal

The more time I spend in the city, the more I fall in love with it. Today has been my best day so far. This morning I stumbled upon some amazing neighborhoods while exploring el centro. I took so many amazing sad I can not share them! After I looked around the incredible Plaza Mayor, I stopped for cafe con leche & a crossiant in the mercado san miguel- a historic market that is filled with wonderful tapas & bebidas. After looking around the palace gardens, I went on a tour of the palace with some students from school. It was incredible & elaborate to say the least. I also made some more friends (who are NOT from Cincinnati- which at this school is rare) and went with them to Parque Oeste after the tour. It has a beautiful view of the rural areas surrounding Madrid. The park also has an ancient Egyptian temple they transplanted brick by brick to Madrid. Tonight we are doing a bar crawl which everyone has been raving about since i have been here. Needless to say, I am a little afraid! Tomorrow we have the day off for Corpus Cristi and I will be visiting the nearby city of Toledo. I hate keeping these so short but it's difficult to find time even to write this!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Impressionists & Vino

Today has been so lovely. I spent the morning browsing the museo thyssen-bornemisza. It had a lot of impressionist art as well as some of Picasso's earlier pieces. I wore my "Spain" pants I bought yesterday at an outdoor market (there are essentially genie pants and are INSANELY popular here) and everyone thought I was "una hispanola". After the museum, I walked around and took pictures of the amazing buildings in the Museum district. I will definitely have to go back next week to explore more! Classes were the same as usual- mundane in many ways. When I came home, I talked with my homestay mom for almost an hour about all the things I have to do while I am in Madrid. Needless to say, I am throughly excited about the day trips I have planned to Segovia, Toledo, & Sevillla. However, tonight I am headed to a bar with over 300 beers to choose from (we meant to go last night but ended up falling asleep...go figure!) Tomorrow I am planning on wandering the "centro" as well as visiting the Royal Palace.
hasta manana!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Mi primera clase

Today was my first official day of class. While I thought I would end up with morning classes like a majority of the students, I unfortunately was stuck with classes in the afternoon. Even though at first I was disappointed, now I embracing having the mornings off to roam around the city. After our tour this morning, I made an incredibly long list of all the places I must visit while I am here. Luckily, I have mastered the metro system and also discovered that most of the museums are free at certain hours.
Seeing the Palacio Real and various "centres" surrounding downtown Madrid was indescribable. What I love most about this city (besides the people, food, & my homestay) is how every inch is dripping with history. The only thing I am truly disappointed about is that I forgot my camera cord so I will unfortunately not be able to share any photos. Tomorrow I should have more exciting things to write about, but right now, I must take my "siesta" before I head out for my first night in Madrid!

Summer Bucket List

While Kacy is off exploring exotic Spain, I am spending the summer at home in northern California. Although I don't have the advantage of the unknown and the charm of Europe on my side, there is plenty to do locally, and so I have made a summer bucket list to keep track of all my little goals.

1. Organize family photos
2. Make lavender ice cream
3. Learn photoshop
4. Indoor sky diving (my mother gave me a gift certificate for this ages ago, and of course I have yet to use it)
5. Take a cooking/baking class
6. Ride bikes at the baylands and pack a picnic
7. Read 12 books (currently on number 5!)
8. Go to Edgewood Eats- a local food truck event
9. Walk my dog at least 5 times a week
10. Go on a boat ride
11. Master my makeup ritual
12. Have sparklers on 4th of July
13. Blog more (obviously!)

Even though I have been working like crazy, I am hoping to be able to find the time to accomplish everything on my list. I made a point to not include anything work or school related- just carefree, quintessential summer activities. What is on your list for the summer?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Bienviendos a España

The past 24 hours have been a flurry of events that have left me exhausted. After a 4 hour delay on my flight to New York, I arrived with literally minutes to spare to the matinee production of Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark on Broadway. For all of you who have heard the hype around this show, the new revamped version was incredible. I highly recommend it to anyone. After the show we had just enough time to grab a drink at the Mariott and an all-american dinner of burgers and fries in Hell's Kitchen. After frantically running around JFK and maneuvering the maze known as the "airtrain", I finally made it to terminal 4 for my flight to Madrid. Only when I got to the gate did I realize I was one of maybe 3 passengers who were American on the fight. I was thrown into using my Spanish even before I left the states.

The journey to Madrid was incredibly smooth and painless. When I arrived at my house family's flat in downtown Madrid, I was again amazed by house blessed I have been when it comes to host families. I feel like I am staying in a 5 star resort complete with pool and laundry service! My host mother is incredibly warm and friendly and immediately made me feel at home. There are also 2 girls from Cincinnati staying in the house with me who were gracious enough to show me around town. After a little relaxing by the pool (which felt heavenly), we headed to the famous Buen Retiro Park which puts even Central Park to shame. We spent the afternoon wandering the various winding paths as well as catching up with some friends they had met earlier in the week. And, not to boast or anything, but so far I have had numerous compliments on my Spanish speaking skills (hey, I worked hard to brag about this!)

By far the greatest surprise I have received so far on my trip is the internet access in my homestay which will make staying in touch with my family (and blogging of course!) that much easier. I am so excited to see what the next month has in store for me...but right now all I can think about is sleep!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Empire State

Hello friends!
For those of you who have come to expect more lifestyle & fashion related posts here on Indulgent Ambition, over the next 6 weeks I will being using the blog as a travel diary. I thought there would be no better way to share all of my experiences in Spain & France than through the wonderful blog world. However, before I get to Madrid, I will be spending a bittersweet 12 hours in my beloved New York City. While I am dreading two back to back red eyes in a row (I know...I'm crazy!), the thought of an entire day wandering the city streets instead of being cooped up in JFK left me with no other choice! I can not wait to share some pictures of the city in all it's summer glory, as well as some initial pictures of my first encounter with the lovely country known as España!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Summer Reading

One of my favorite parts of summer is the opportunity to catch up on my reading- and since I never have time during the school year, I usually end up with a list of at least 20 books I want to read in a mere three months. As of now, Im on my fourth book, so it may actually be a possibility. Here (and also in the picture above) is the short list as of now:

1. Lunch in Paris by Elizabeth Bard (Read it in just a couple days, adored every second. However, be careful when attempting any recipes- they don't have very good directions.)
2. The Girls' Guide to Hunting in Fishing by Melissa Bank (Loved it! Read it, read it, read it!)
3. One Fifth Avenue by Candace Bushnell (Currently reading- typical guilty pleasure chick lit. 'nuff said)
4. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
5. Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann
6. Sellevision by Augusten Burroughs
7. Cane River by Lalita Tademy (Grandmothers Recommendation)
8. Classy by Derek Blasberg
9. All of Chelsea Handler' books

I'm doing my best to strike a balance between entertainment and literary value, including some comedic reads, but also some classics. I just love having the time and freedom to read for the sheer enjoyment of it, and forget how easy it is to be completely wrapped up in a book (doesnt often happen with business textbooks). Does anyone have any other book recommendations? Favorites? Classics? Quick reads?
Happy summer,

Friday, May 20, 2011

Prabal Gurung goes J.Crew!

As someone who not only loves but adores when designer's do collaborations with more moderately priced brands, I was exceptionally pleased to see Prabal Gurung's collection for J.Crew. While I have been obsessing over his spring collection that influenced so many of the color blocking trends we have seen this season, the pieces ridiculous price tags left them out of my reach. While Gurung's collection for J.Crew is in no way a bargain (pieces are still upwards of $250)..they are much more reasonable for even a college student's budget. Even better, the pieces are dramatically different from what he have seen from Gurung in the past, and to my pleasure, much more feminine. I am dying to purchase all of the "exploding bow" pieces when they hit stores next week. But lets be honest...I will probably wait to see if any of them will go on sale, which with my luck is very unlikely.

Source: via Kacy on Pinterest