weekend (in instagrams)

October 31, 2011
october 28-30th
black night shade | acme bread | the bay bridge
brunch | marketbar | tartine
pacifica | persimmons & pears | foraged spinach
a washboard band | stable cafe | the sutro baths

I don't think I've ever had a more exhausting or more fun weekend. I spent more time in San Francisco than I normally do and it was a welcome change. It was exciting finally meeting Kim and Andre for the first time after more than a year of blog friendship. They are exactly as I pictured them in my head (in the best kind of way).

We are having the strangest, sunniest, most un-San Francisco-like weather over here and I'm taking advantage of it (though I am eager for fall). Walks on the Embarcadero with David, cliff-side beach sitting with my high school bestie, and foraging in Golden Gate Park (we found wild New Zealand spinach!).

I am so tired, but so happy.

Not pictured: a hilarious and heaven-sent Filipino feast with Norris and Jamie.
All pictures: taken via Instagram. I'm hooked.

the hidden terrace

October 27, 2011
I had no idea that my host parents had a terrace during my 2+ months studying in Florence. We never ate in it because it was always so cold in the winter-- I only discovered it the following summer, when I came back for a weekend visit.
the beautiful terrace
It's one of the most beautiful, homey, and special places to me. This time, when I came back to Florence this August, we ate almost every meal outside, under the grape vines and on checkered table cloths.
fresh mozzarella!
every day
dessert wine and tiramisu
But the best part was being with my host family and enjoying the best home-cooked meals from Maibritt (mozzarella salad, panzanella, dessert wine, and tiramisu pictured here). They brought me back to my happy months as a student in Italy, and made me feel even luckier to have a family like this.

eating out in florence

October 26, 2011
Laura: "How do you feel being back?"
Me: "It's weird. It's so hot (I was here in the winter) but it's so nice. I love that I know the streets so well.
Laura: "Ohhh yes it gets reaaally hot!! I guess less clothes more gelato!"
un cappuccino
In Florence I drank the first cappuccino that I've ever enjoyed, ate my favorite fresh mozzarella, and averaged a gelato per day.
da vinatierri
I discovered my new favorite summertime drink: granita. It reminded me of 7-11 slurpees with better flavors and minus the blue food coloring. It was perfect in the Florence heat.
stracciatella + frutti di bosco gelato
stacciatella + cookies 'n cream gelato
dei neri
I could dedicate an entire week's worth of posts to gelato but I'll hold back. Stracciatella is a really simple flavor (basically vanilla with little chocolate bits) but I missed being able to have some whenever I wanted. I'm pretty positive that it's impossible to go wrong with gelato at all, but I hold a special place in my heart for stracciatella.

One might even call it a love affair (sorry, David).

It almost pains me to talk about food in Florence without mentioning all of the amazing home cooking I had with my host parents-- but that's for another post!

the sweetest/funniest little dance moves

October 25, 2011

This is just a tiny interruption in my Florence posts to share my most recent pride and joy. It's a culmination of little phone and Macbook videos of my beloved nieces... who happen to dance like crazy people in very public places. Hope you enjoy!

PS - This is the only song I know by Justin Bieber. We can thank Raine for that.

window-shopping in florence

October 24, 2011
store-front art
Florence is home to some of the most beautiful storefronts I've seen: they're colorful, decadent, and it's easy to lose track of time just window-shopping. It's how I found my discounted Hunters, my favorite gelateria, and my favorite stationary in the entire world. (I may have brought home one too many sheets...)
favorite stationary in the world
san lorenzo
I'm usually weary of the San Lorenzo market since I'm still working on my haggling skills-- but the colorful leather and scarves throughout the market are really lovely. If you go, never settle for the listed price. I'm usually shy about doing this in Italian but it's how I bought myself a leather belt and green wallet for my mom for 25 euro altogether.
leather at san lorenzo
ponte vecchio
Perhaps the most decadent of all decadent shop displays are those on the Ponte Vecchio-- the oldest bridge in Europe. The bridge used to be lined with butchers until Medicis wanted to make the bridge more prestigious-- then they prohibited butcher shops and goldsmiths took their places.
coral everything
Now it's got beautiful (and super expensive) jewelry in each of its windows. Most people admire the gold and jewels, but the coral and cameo jewelry are my favorites. The coral is just simple and classic, while the cameos are elegant and remind me of my Classics major.

Going back and finding my own little treasure from the Ponte Vecchio is the newest addition to my list.

a wanderlust guide (to florence, italy)

October 21, 2011
a wanderlust guide to florence
This is the official start of a new little series called "Wanderlust Guides." They are by no means comprehensive or a proclamation to have the very best of ____ city. Instead, they're my favorites of wherever I go-- places I enjoyed, and places I hope you'll enjoy, too.

I adore Florence. It's my home away from home. It was my most pleasant surprise during my seven months abroad. There are also thousands of guides that'll tell you what to do and where to go:

The Uffizi (cool, but tiring)
The Academia (Il Davide alone is worth it)
The Ponte Vecchio (really, really crowded but really, really charming)

The list goes on and on. Even after you've spent hours in museums (half of which you were admiring The David), climbed Brunelleschi's Dome and rubbed the boar's nose at the Mercato Porcellino, you'd still need several days to enjoy Florence in all of its Renaissance glory. This little guide is for the traveler who wants to experience the simple pleasures in Florence. From the most breathtaking views to the most satisfying gelato, these are my favorite Florentine gems:

The Perfect Panini
via Giuseppe Verdi, 36r (Santa Croce neighborhood)
Take a trip to Salumeria Verdi, affectionately nicknamed Pino's in honor of the salumeria's owner. Although the deli offers home-cooked pasta and a multitude of Tuscan wine, I go here for my lunchtime panini. The fresh vegetables and the perfectly cured meats are a match made in heaven. Try the finocchiona with fresh mozzarella, or ask Pino for "The Best." He'll know what you mean. (from €3.50/ panini)

A Picnic in the Boboli Gardens
Palazzo Pitti
Weather permitting, you can take your panini from Pino's da porta via (to go) and have a little picnic in the Boboli Gardens. They're gigantic, but they're calming and there's a ton of space to lounge at your leisure. Bring a book, pack some snacks and find your own little spot. It's a wonderful way to "escape the city" without actually ever leaving it.

Florence's Best Kept Secret
via Dei Neri, 22 (Santa Croce neighborhood)
No trip to Florence would be complete without at stop at Gelateria dei Neri-- most tourists just don't know it. Although places like Vivoli and the overpriced shops around the Ponte Vecchio seem like good bets, dei Neri offers a wide, flavorful variety without charging the big bucks. Flavors like mango and frutti di bosco are refreshing on sunny days, but stracciatella and cookies and cream are classic year round. (from €1.65/ 2 flavors in an overfilled cup).

The Postcard View
Piazzale Michelangelo
Move away from the city center and take a short hike up to Piazzale Michelangelo for breathtaking panoramic views of the city. From here you can snap the Ponte Vecchio, the Palazzo Vecchio tower and Brunelleschi's Dome all in one picture.

For the Photography Lover
Largo Fratelli Alinari, 15 (Santa Maria Novella neighborhood)
The Alinari Museum is home to some of Europe's oldest photographs. This museum integrates the history of photography with the art itself: not only will you find some of the oldest camera models, you'll also find the most beautiful photos taken by those cameras. A true testament to how far the art and science of photography has come.

A Pharmacy from 1221
via della Scala, 16 (Santa Maria Novella neighborhood)
Literally a stone's through from the Santa Maria Novella church, the Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella used to serve as an apothecary run by monks in 1221. Today the pharmacy is more of a perfumery and herbal shop. Even if you don't plan on buying anything, it's worth it just to walk in and admire the classic frescos, elaborate decor and sample the perfumes.

A Multi-Course Deal
via Palazzuolo, 71 (Santa Maria Novella neighborhood)
Begin you evening with an authentic Italian dinner at Trattoria il Contadino. The menu at this family owned restaurant changes daily and revolves around what's in season. The prix fixe of €12 includes bottled water, a primo (pasta, rice, etc) and a secondo (the main course). And, if you're really up for it, you can take a stroll back to the Gelateria dei Neri to truly end the meal the right way.

*A special thanks to Pugly Pixel for the photo template and the mailing tag!

a passenger's view

October 20, 2011
passenger's view
I love driving. Singing loudly in my car, during sunsets or along the Great Highway. But I drive so much that I needed Europe to remind me what it was like being a passenger. Just sitting and watching and going.
danish horses
right before germany
From Denmark, we drove to Germany (4 hours). And once we got to Hamburg, we took an overnight train to Verona (22 hours). The last time David and I took an overnight train, our circumstances were less than ideal.

This time it was amazing! We had a five-person cabin for just the three of us. So much space, beautiful views the entire way.
train station and our stops
like cel + belle
I ended up having dinner with three Italian motorcyclists who has just spent the past 20 days biking from Verona to Norway. We spoke Italian the entire time (I was so proud)! They were so sweet and showed me the pictures from their trip. I can't even fathom a trip like that! Well, maybe I can...
bikers in their pajamas
The bikers in their pajamas taking a long-awaited smoke break in Bolzano.
We rode through the Alps. We had an enormous breakfast. We chatted with our new friends.

It's not so bad to sit back and enjoy the ride.

PS - I'll be over at Morgan's today with my favorite little things in Europe!

sunset in kisserup

October 19, 2011
Sunset was my favorite time in Denmark.
Maibritt and Luciano lived in a tiny little town called Kisserup. Their house was a quick bike ride away from "the beach" and we'd make the trip out as soon as we finished dinner.
favorite feet of the trip
silly host parents
Always in time for the sunset.
And it always warmed my heart.

copenhagen (part 2)

October 18, 2011
on the harbor

the colors!
Nyhavn. (pronounced new-hown)

I'm still surprised that a harbor as colorful as this exists. It was, of course, filled with tourists but it was pretty evident why. Everyone was so eager to remember these colorful 17th century buildings, the tall boats in the harbor and the epicenter of Copenhagen's charm. My favorite tourists were the adorable little boys on the dock (above) and an old Italian couple at the ice cream parlor.

I wanted to stay longer, to sit in a cafe and read alongside the harbor, but they sky turned a moody gray and before I knew it, it was pouring.