I don’t know about you, but the thought of wasting a perfectly good outfit on a day spent traveling makes me sad. On that same note, however, the idea that I might meet the love of my life on a day when I look like I’ve just rolled out of bed scares the shit out of me. I am by no means a morning person and the inevitable sleep I would enjoy on my 7-hour bus ride from Lisboa, Portugal to Sevilla, Spain was not about to aid in changing that.
So the question is, how does one balance being comfortable yet fashionable, relaxed yet self-aware, and fashion forward without being that guy/girl in the airport, bus terminal, or train station? Find my suggestions after the jump.
1.) FIND THE MOST VERSATILE ITEM IN YOUR WARDROBE
We all have at least one. That chambray shirt we’ve worn to a party and then didn’t take off for bed. That pair of shorts we’ve worn to a baseball game but have managed to keep clean enough to wear when entertaining guests. That flannel we let our s/o borrow to keep warm around the house but also proudly wear when we’ve forgotten to wash our favorite starch-and-press button-down. The idea is that this item works well both dressed up and dressed down and no one can say otherwise. For me, that item is my much-loved navy lambswool sweater c/o J. Crew.
2.) NOD TO ONE (1) TREND
Following a current trend is an easy way to let people know you haven’t completely forgotten what year we’re in. However, following 12,000 trends at a time without adding a personal touch is a little tacky. A personal favorite of mine (particularly because of how easy it is) is color-blocking. Find two (preferably) drastically different solid-colored pieces, and make them your top and your bottom, respectively. After pulling my sweater out of my suitcase, I decided that the navy would be the perfect complement to a recently acquired pair of maroon courderoys from H&M.
3.) KEEP IT SIMPLE
If I’m going to be spending the majority of my trip playing Temple Run on my smartphone anyway, then having a watch is redundant. In the same vein, the cumbersomeness of wearing multiple bracelets, earrings, and necklaces not only makes sleeping in airline seats more uncomfortable, but also makes going through TSA more of a bitch. If you must, one item of jewelry is advisable. A pair of nice earrings could be a nice conversation starter and are generally the most easily noticed piece of jewelry anyone wears.
4.) FOOTWEAR IS IMPORTANT
Does anyone enjoy power-walking through MIA in their best oxfords or finest stilettos? While that does sound so gorgeously A-List, I certainly can’t get behind of it. Your travel footwear should be something well-broken in (blisters aren’t fun) and something you don’t mind getting a little scuffed up in transit. Shoes in solid neutrals like black, brown, or sand/nude are also advisable. Leave the Nike cross-trainers at home and try a pair of boat shoes on for size. Usually when I travel, I opt for a pair of boat shoes or driving moccasins. For this trip, however, I decided to go with my new favorite pair of fall boots. I applaud United Colors of Benetton for creating a pair of shoes I have been unable to remove since their purchase. In fact, can someone bury me in these? Thnx.
Fuzzy socks, because Europe is cold.
It was the best of times, it was the best of times.
At the urging of a guy I met in Lisbon, I made sure to include on my agenda a trip to the (apparently famous) pastry store Pasteis de Belem.
I’ll admit, I was a little turned off by the fact that there was a line going OUT the door and around the corner. I am not a huge fan of waiting and I almost left. But something told me I might regret it if I did take off so I waited the 15 minutes for my turn at the counter.
As I prepared to place my order in a mix of broken Italian/English, I noticed that the chefs in the kitchen kept rolling out trays and trays of little round yellow and brown pastries—the “pastel de nata” that I was there to experience (not taste, not try). (Smart) People were buying them by the boxfull and it seemed as if as each tray was laid out, the delicacies were being snatched up in bundles by massive invisible hands.
I ordered one.
I made my way to the other side of the bar counter (the section reserved for eating) and handed my receipt to the man who would bring me (and my kin) good tidings. He packed me a to-go bag and I was perfectly ready to turn and leave the bakery when I saw the strangest thing. A middle-aged Asian man unwrapped his bundle of 3 pastels, placed them neatly on one of the restaurant’s blue and white plates, set the restaurant’s logo-displaying napkin dispenser in the background, and proceeded to Instagram the absolute shit out of these pastries.
That’s when I knew. There would be absolutely no leaving without eating.
I opened my package and retrieved my treat. It was still warm. Fresh, I thought and I wrapped my fingers around the object, careful not to squeeze too hard. Not having the good sense to ask for a plate, I folded over the little plastic bag an placed the pastel on it. Yes, I did Instagram it.
My mouth was watering by the time I picked up the pastel to eat it. I still remember how warm it was on my tongue, the cream oozing out like I was eating a cheese calzone. The first taste was subtle, almost without indication as to whether this delight would be sweet or salty. It was sweet. And not a regular sweet either; a rich, delicious, filling sweet that made me ravenous for more. In a matter of seconds, it was gone and a profound sadness set in. I briefly contemplated (and still do) the possibility of having it sent to Italy for me. The realist in my doesn’t think this would work well. The only logical option is for me to return.
Praise be, really.
My biggest regret that day would end up being not having purchased more when the cashier asked me if I only wanted one. Because I didn’t just want one, I wanted all.
After successfully putting off my long anticipated visit to the section of Lisbon called `Belem´in favor of spending the day “dating a local” (as my suitor called it), I finally set my agenda for the day to spending a few hours in the famous Lisbon quarter.
The day started as any other. I finally left my bed a half-hour before breakfast was finished and attempted to reconcile in my head the feat I would try to accomplish for the day.
I met up with a Russian guy I had met a few days ago for coffee at Starbucks (I know; sue me) and we talked for about an hour, exchanging Instagram information (naturally) and discussed the possibility of me visiting Moscow next semester. I had been looking for another out-of-Italy destination to visit so this was a welcomed suggestion. Seriously considering it, too.
By the time I had finished my Caffe Americano, it was just after noon. A shower of rain had just subsided and I figured it was as good a time as any to begin my trek. I took the Number 15 tram from Praça do Comercio, a ride that cost 2.85E and within 20 minutes, I was in Belem.
Lisbon loves itself some color.
After a brief detour to the nearest restroom, I began my stroll through. The first thing I happened upon was a gorgeous park right on the edge. I regret that I didn’t get the name though.
There were about five of these women just hanging out.
The great thing about Belem is that everything you want to see is lined up in one row on the edge of town. So after I reched the end of the park, I found myself right in front of the Mosteiro dos Jeronimos (Jeronimos Monastery). This monastary, originally built to aid travellers of the region, was then expanded under the reign of Kind Manuel I of Portugal to serve as a resting place for members of the House of Aviz and a church. There’s also a pretty sick library inside.
Right next door to the monastery (straight lines, I tell you) there was the Museu de Marinha (Maritime Museum). Anyone that knows me knows that I absolutely love anything ocean-related, so this had to be fate (or urban planning). The museum, erected under the reign of fellow royal/ocean lover King Luis I of Portugal, contains a comprehensive collection of the entire maritime history of Portugal. It’s also a really pretty building to look at from the outside.
After my museum visit, I decided to stray a little bit off the beaten path and get a little deeper into the city. It’s a good thing I did too, or else I would never have seen the incredible Jardins de Belem (Gardens of Belem). I don’t know why, but it made me incredibly happy.
Most photogenic ducks in the world. Professionals, really.
These ducks weren’t quite so chill.
I ended my time in Belem with two important things. 1.) a trip to ‘Pasteis de Belem’ on which I will elaborate later and 2.) a climb up the Padrao dos Descobrimentos (Monument to the Discoveries) which yielded the most amazing view of the city. The history behind this monument is that it was built in 1960 to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the death of Henry the Navigator who must have been one hell of a dude.
Climbed this monster.
The money shot, tbh.
View so great I could see San Francisco.
I’ll be the first to admit that on a regular basis, the idea of leaving my bed on any given day makes me want to pull out my laptop and marathon ‘The Good Wife’ until I fall back asleep. But when you have the fortune of being in a city as gorgeous as Lisboa, Portugal, sometimes sacrifices must be made and corners must be cut.
That being said, I didn’t actually leave my hostel (the pretty sweet Equity Point Lisboa) until shortly after noon even after waking up at 8:30.
After a wholly filling breakfast of toast, fruit, and cereal I set out to explore the center of town in all its overcast/slightly rainy glory. And it was still gorgeous. My hostel is located smack dab in the middle of the major shopping district of Lisboa. Let’s just say it’s a good thing that everything was closed on account of this whole Christmas business.
Made a friend! He told REALLY good stories.
Lisboa is fascinating in the way the streets slope so that you either have the option of getting a nice hike in if you want to explore, or taking a 3.50E tram up and down the hills to get around. Good thing I love walking. On the same note, I also noticed today was that it was near impossible to get lost regardless of how far away from center you think you’ve gotten. The streets all slope down towards the main road (and up away from, natch) and from there it’s a straight shot to get anywhere you want to go.
But my favorite part of my walk today was having HOURS to admire the incredible architecture and colors of Lisboa. Pombaline, Gothic, and “Plain” styles run rampant through the city creating a long and complex narrative about the journey of Portugal towards establishing its own identity. It’s a safe bet to say that the people of Lisbon aren’t afraid of spicing up their buildings with dashes of color and in this way, the graffiti-covered side-streets (and oh there are many) fit right in too. I’m just going to go ahead and say it: Lisboa is a hella Instagram-able city.
After my walk, I stopped by Starbucks and had a slice of caramel cheesecake and a chai latte with soy. Having not had it since I visited my friend in Wales in November, I figured I could indulge just this once, right? I returned to my hostel at about 17:00 and promptly proceeded to pass the fuck out for the next few hours.
That’s not how you spell my name.
I have to say, whenever I travel anywhere, the issue of where to eat always rears its ugly head. This issue is exacerbated significantly when I decide that 22:00 is a great time to go look for food. I found a great little place by the name of “Sol Dourado” where the waiter was multilingual and the food was enormous. They specialize in seafood so I went with my tried and true grilled salmon for dinner and a bottle of sparkling water. Probably as a result of the combination of me being by myself and it being so late, I was comped some free appetizers. Can’t say that I left there unhappy.
Grilled salmon the size of my fucking head.
Cherry liqueur compliments of the restaurant.
So I haven’t touched this thing in a while (with good reason, now that I’m looking at the shit I’ve uploaded here), but I figured it’s probably easier to just clean up what I’ve already started than to begin a whole new project.
So I’ve just spent the first semester of my junior year in Italy and I’ve watched friends create and keep up with blogs while I just sat there eating my pasta and Instagramming (both things I will obviously continue to do). But I decided maybe last week that I’d be remissed if I didn’t find some way to keep a record of my adventures here, and as such, I have decided to dedicate this blog for the next few months to documenting my study abroad experiences in Europe. Fashion, Travel, and Food will be the main focuses and pictures will be coming from my shitty Samsung Galaxy S3 (woot!).
I have a knack for being lazy, however, so please bear with me as posts will be sporadic, but I will try for at least once a week.
Anyway, I’m off to Lisbon, Portugal for a few days to kick off my winter break. I’ve got a pretty adventurous two weeks planned so expect a few posts over the break.
See you at the next update!