Rome Vlog! My First Solo Trip

Last week, I was stuck in quite the funk in London. Getting rejected from job applications and drowning in depths of schoolwork, I needed to get away ASAP. I booked a quick trip to Rome, and decided to take a bit of a risk – I would travel alone. While I’ve traveled alone in the States before, this trip was my first voyage abroad sans companions, and I’m so glad I finally bit the bullet and went for it.

The weekend in Rome was restorative, immersive, and even a bit meditative. Plus, it was filled with sunshine and plenty of pasta and stunning ancient ruins. Since I didn’t have any real-life friend with me, I thought I’d bring YOU, my internet friends, with. Being the obnoxious millenial I am, I vlogged the whole trip. Check out all my food porn and painful attempts at Italian! Can’t wait for my next solo trip; I may be newly addicted.

London Brunch: Ivy Chelsea Garden and Chelsea Wanderings

Recently, the London brunch queens decided to head west and pay homage to a very famous London brunch outpost – the Ivy Chelsea Garden. Buzzy, oft-instagrammed and sometimes filled with a celeb sighting or two – the Chelsea Garden is a member of the Ivy family of restaurants and probably it’s most hyped member. So, is it worth it?

Spoiler Alert: the short answer, is yes. Reasonably priced, yummy food, attentive service, and a beautiful and scene-y ambiance make the Ivy Chelsea Garden worth every bit of hype and winding through lines of tourists. I’d even make the pilgrimage out on the District/Circle line for it. That’s love. You may have to make your brunch reservation a month in advance, but have you seen the pink sofas and eggs benedict?

I had the classic while my friends went with the fancy lobster and trendy avocado. Much to the pleasure of my American sensibilities, they have a pot of filtered coffee on the menu with cream. It’s surprisingly very difficult to find classic coffee and cream (half and half) here in the UK, so I inhaled the stuff. Apologies for the lighting. The interiors are gorgeous in person but not the best for instagram food photography. Besides, nothing beats natural light….

The garden terrace tables don’t open until noon, so we missed out on enjoying the famous al fresco space. Once warmer summer weather hits, I will be sprinting to snag a table and sip rose all afternoon long on this patio. I was lovestruck by those seafoam chairs!

After we wandered around the garden and likely overstayed our welcome, we parted ways. I decided to take a detour from studying and explore more of Chelsea. In one of London’s most photogenic neighborhoods, I was not going to waste the fact that I had already made the commute.  Chelsea, and its residents did not disappoint.

I mean, it’s a rule if there’s a bicycle parked out front you have to take a photo, right?

The pastel hues of Lenox Garden Mews are fairly insta-famous, and their pink and lavender facades lived up to their notoriety.

Praise be to the Mercedes driver that parked their car so perfectly in front of this home. Classic London at its classiest and finest. Hate to see the price tag on the car or address.

If you follow me on instagram you’ll have seen this whimsical little porch already. Potted plants, pink facades and purple doors. So lovely. It’s on Bywater Street, and a definite visit for any photographers. Practically every house on that road is begging to be photographed.

Added Scalini to my list of London restaurants to try. Locals filtered in pretty regularly and that royal blue facade is enough to tempt me.

After exhausting my feet and appetite for photography (my phone memory was starting to wane as well), I decided to bid adieu to my fantasy Chelsea life. I’ll certainly be back once the summer sun returns, to sip pink cocktails in the garden and waste away another afternoon discovering more dream homes.

 

Linking Up With:

Wanderful Wednesday hosted by Lauren of Lauren on Location, Van of Snow in Tromso, Isabel of The Sunny Side of This and Marcella of What a Wonderful World. Click on the button below to check out more great travel content!

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DISCLAIMER:
This is not a sponsored post and all products were purchased with my money. Affiliate links are occasionally used when linking products. This gives me a small percentage of a purchase total through these links. This does not affect the price you pay for items through these links. All ShopStyle & AirBnB links are affiliate links.

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My Top Tips for Visiting Westminster Abbey

Glasses // Shirt // Jacket

Westminster Abbey is one of London’s most visited sites and with good reason. It’s historic, awe-inspiring and quintessential England – it’s truly one of my favorite places in London. While it’s frequented by millions of tourists, unfortunately many visitors don’t get the most out of their visit to the Abbey or simply stop for a quick selfie outside. I did a thorough tour in 2014 and walk by the Abbey at least once every day, so I wanted to share my top tips for visiting, straight from the mouth of a London local. Enjoy and be sure to caption an instagram with #WestminstagramAbbey or #WestminsterCrabby (Only true Mary-Kate and Ashley/Winning London fans will get that last masterpiece).

Getting There
The Abbey is located literally smack dab in the center of London. Westminster tube station is the closest, but Waterloo and Charing Cross are also very much within walking distance. Multiple buses serve the area, and I like how you can look out the window and get the lay of the land, however I’d get off a few stops before the Abbey and walk to the destination as the area is highly congested.  Also check beforehand and see if any events or demonstrations are scheduled for Parliament Square, as there may be road closures and unexpected crowds. Travel for London has an excellent Twitter account with updates (follow here).

Go Early
As much as I enjoy a lie-in and a late brunch of the waffle or eggs benedict variety, you’re going to want to set your alarm and get to the Abbey in its opening hours. It opens at 9:30 on most days (opening times here), so not too dreadful, but beat the crowds and queues by arriving in the morning. The surrounding area will also be less crowded, so better for taking photos in front of the Abbey, London Eye and Big Ben. Suck it up and down those Americanos! Otherwise, you’ll be stuck in an hour long wait with groups of school children and every other tourist in London.

Nope, that’s not the Abbey
Well I may sound like Captain Obvious, Big Ben is not attached to Westminster Abbey. It’s a common misconception, but that large beautiful building with the two towers, that yes does look a lot like Westminster Abbey, is actually the houses of Parliament. This is where the UK legislature is housed. So don’t make the rookie traveler mistake of mislabeling it in your insta photos like I may or may not have a few years ago #amateurhour

Big Ben and Parliament #notwestminsterabbey

Book the Verger Tour
There are two official tour options once you enter the Abbey – a self guided audio tour and the Verger tour. Please, for the love of travel everywhere, book the Verger tour. It’s only five pounds more than the audio tour and eons away in quality. You’re led through the Abbey by a very knowledgeable guide, and groups are kept to 10 people max – so very intimate. Best of all, you get to see areas of the Abbey like Edward the Confessor’s tomb, the Cloisters, and the Nave which are NOT open to the public and audio tours. VIP, baby!  The experience was one of my all-time favorites in London. For only a 5 pound price increase, you won’t be disappointed. Definitely book in advance here.

Budget Time to Explore 
Once the tour is finished, don’t rush outside to your next destination (likely the pub)! Explore the Abbey in all its grandeur and take your time to take in each nook and cranny. There are so many Harry Potter esque halls, courtyards, arches, etc. that will transport you through time or make you feel a little like a royal (or wizard). You’ve paid for admission, now get the most of it!

Forget Your Camera
Sad news for the photography or vlogging obsessed, but photography and videography are not allowed inside the Abbey. You can take plenty of snaps of the intricate and awe-inspiring exterior, but I’d leave the clunky DSLRs at home for this tour. You won’t be able to use them. Just take it all in and commit the stunning historical interiors to memory the old fashioned way.

See it from a new angle
While you’ll  want to tour the Abbey early in the day, I recommend returning at sunset, dusk and after dark to enjoy it from a new perspective – and with dope new lighting. Some of my favorite personal photos of the Abbey were taken just before nightfall. The street lamps give it that quintessential spooky London glow. Also be sure to explore and photograph the Abbey from every angle. It’s such an immense and detailed structure, so you’re bound to find pleasant little surprises and ways of enjoying it beyond the typical entrance shots.

Feels like Sherlock Holmes is bound to come running around the corner chasing a mystery.

Avoid nearby pubs
You’ll be smack in the middle of a major tourist zone, so any nearby pubs are usually overpriced, serve average (at best) food, and are prone to theft. Walk a bit further to the Covent Garden Area to the East or Pimlico to the West for better quality options or more local haunts. I love Cross Keys and Lamb & Flag in Covent Garden.

Want to see the Abbey for free?
Shhhh – want to know a well-kept little secret of most big churches in Europe? Want to see them for free? You may not get the entire tour and see every thousand year old relic and antiquity, but go to the Abbey for evensong, and you can take in all its glory without paying a dime (or pence).  Evensong is a daily mass and choral service, open to the public at the Abbey. The music is beautiful, and you don’t need to be religious to enjoy the feast of sound and sights. Simply line up at the Abbey’s West door 30 minutes prior and enjoy! A schedule is here, but evensong is usually at 5PM on weekdays and 3PM on weekends.

Enjoy your visit to the Abbey and let me know in the comments if there are any other London attractions or tips you’d like me to share!

Love traveling? Grab $35 in Air BnB credit when you create an account through THIS LINK! It’s free to you, and I’ll receive a credit when you sign up. Thanks and happy traveling!

DISCLAIMER:
This is not a sponsored post and all products were purchased with my money. Affiliate links are occasionally used when linking products. This gives me a small percentage of a purchase total through these links. This does not affect the price you pay for items through these links. All ShopStyle & AirBnB links are affiliate links.

Linking Up With:

Wanderful Wednesday hosted by Lauren of Lauren on Location, Van of Snow in Tromso, Isabel of The Sunny Side of This and Marcella of What a Wonderful World. Click on the button below to check out more great travel content!

London Cheap Eats: Pepe, Covent Garden

After a surprisingly industrious morning reading for school and photographing some perfectly pink mews in South Kensington (you can see my snaps on Insta), I decided to reward myself today with one of my favorite London cheap eats – Pepe. Right around the corner from Coven Garden and Mr. Fogg’s, this little pizza haven is just off of St. Martin’s Lane.

There’s usually a queue around lunch time, but they really rush people through quickly and efficiently. Also, I’m always down to patiently wait in line when these salivating sights keep me in their thrall.

While I’m always down for a fancy brunch or wining and dining at a posh Mayfair hotspot, I’m still a student and London is DAMN expensive. Pepe is only 4 pounds for two large slices of pizza, so I can feast to my heart’s content without feeling guilty.

Pepe has other dishes like pasta, but I’d stick to the pizza. They reheat the pasta in a microwave, and the sauce (aka the best part) gets all vaporized and gross. It’s also a few pounds more expensive than the pizza, and the slices win quality-wise every day of the week. TEAM ZA!

Trying not to burn my hands on my scalding hot pieces of heaven, I walked a few blocks to enjoy my sausage and spinach selection in solitude at a nearby park. Let’s be honest, I also wanted to find a food photography spot where less passerbys could gawk at me while I burned my hand and held my pizza like Simba over Pride Rock. No shame in my #foodporn game!

Check out Pepe the next time you need a cheap, yet fully satisfying meal in Covent Garden. There are so many overpriced, tourist traps in that area, so I wouldn’t steer you wrong. Plus, you’ll have more money to spend at the bevy of nearby shops. Win-win.

Love traveling? Grab $35 in Air BnB credit when you create an account through THIS LINK! It’s free to you, and I’ll receive a credit when you sign up. Thanks and happy traveling!

DISCLAIMER:
This is not a sponsored post and all products were purchased with my money. Affiliate links are occasionally used when linking products. This gives me a small percentage of a purchase total through these links. This does not affect the price you pay for items through these links. All ShopStyle & AirBnB links are affiliate links.