August 9, 2019 – Shell Shock (OOTD #543)

I couldn’t leave the Galápagos Islands without seeing their most famous feature: the tortoises.IMG_4719.jpeg

On my last day on the Islands, we packed our bags and disembarked from the boat for the last time, early in the morning.

While it was definitely sad to bid the boat adieu, it was not sad to bid the rocking motion of the boat and the waves adieu. Like I mentioned in a previous post, thankfully,  I was not burdened with horrible seasickness, like some of my friends were. I definitely didn’t not feel the constant movement of the ship, however, and so I was always wary to avoid looking out at the waves for too long or thinking too much about the motion.

Being back on land again was so funny. I mean, I had been been off the boat every day for the previous week, but only for a few hours at a time. Being back on land again — like, permanently — made me realize how much I missed it.

It took me forever to get my so-called “land-legs” back. I think the worst of it was when I was on the flights back. The change in air pressure from being in the sky along, with the motion of being in a speeding airplane, in addition to the residual sensation of being on a rocking boat would be enough to make anyone feel a little queasy.

But before there were flights and landsickness and air pressure to worry about, I got to see the Galápagos Tortoises, arguably the biggest celebrities of the island. Our last stop of the cruise was to a small “tortoise reserve” (in reality, it was just some random guy with a farm who charged admission to let people in to see the tortoises who would have lived there anyway).

View this post on Instagram

don’t talk to me or my son ever again

A post shared by Meilin Scanish (@meilin_scanish) on

What remarkable creatures. I don’t know if they were my favorite animals that I saw on the trip (I think that honor would go to the sea lions or the birds), but they were up there.

They’re just so stupidly big. And slow. I see why the full-sized adults don’t really have any predators — who could take them down? Sure, they can’t run and they can’t hide, but they’re so massive and well-armored that there’s nothing you could do if you caught one. It would be like attacking a rock.

IMG_4751.jpeg

I heard that Charles Darwin tried to ride them when he first saw them. I see why. I wanted to do it too. I didn’t, obviously — that would have been very much against the reserve’s rules and possibly even the law — but it was tempting. Their shells look like perfect saddles. IMG_4808

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my trip to the Galápagos Islands this summer. Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, BloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!


Jacket: Forever21

Top: Ecseri Bazaar in Budapest

Trousers: J. Crew

August 7, 2019 – Long Walks on the Beach (OOTD #541)

I’ve never really been a beach person.

And that’s that. The beaches of the Galápagos, though beautiful and pristine and quiet, didn’t necessarily change that. I thought they might — I thought that perhaps what was holding me back all these years, and that I just hadn’t, as the Corona ad puts it, “found my beach.”

View this post on Instagram

tag yourself, i’m the bird in pic 10

A post shared by Meilin Scanish (@meilin_scanish) on

And I guess I still haven’t. I’m beginning to wonder if there is a beach for me out there, or if I’m more of an Anakin Skywalker, doomed to hating sand forever.

img_4110

While I don’t love beaches, I still like them, every once in a while. The red sand beaches of Rábida Island just might be my favorite from this summer (they certainly beat the jellyfish-infested beach of Naples, Italy). For one, they made for some killer color-coordinated photographs when paired with my orange outfit.

Secondly, the island itself was just beautiful. I think what I appreciated most of everything I saw in the Galápagos was the physical form of the islands themselves. They were unlike anything I’d seen before — and they were so different from each other.

Take, for example, the difference between Rábida, which I visited in the morning, and Bartholomé, which I visited in the afternoon.

 

August 6, 2019 – The Suite Life on Deck (OOTD #540)

*blog post features no actual images of me on the cruise ship

I’ve never been on a cruise before.

This trip has been full of firsts — first time in South America, first time snorkeling, first time on a cruise. Unlike snorkeling, though, I’ve actually really enjoyed cruise ship life. Unlike South America, though, as much as I enjoyed it I wouldn’t necessarily go and do it again immediately.

I liked the cruise, and I would definitely do one again eventually if given the opportunity. I really appreciated how everything was taken care of for you — there was someone to pick you up at the airport and guide you to the boat, there was someone to carry your bags to your room as soon as you got on board, there was a chef and full kitchen staff so all you had to do was show up in the dining room at meal times. It’s what I imagine vacation for rich people is like.

But since everything is taken care of for you, there’s a lot less autonomy on your part in deciding what to do each day. The boat might offer a range of options — snorkeling, kayaking, hiking, etc. — but they’re still the boat’s options. There’s no such thing as deciding you don’t like any of their options and going off on your own.

There’s also a lot of just waiting on the boat as you travel from one island to another. In principle, I don’t like that — who wants to spend half of their day in transit? But in practice, it was actually kind-of nice to have a built-in rest period during the day. I took a lot of much-needed naps.

Gratefully, I didn’t have trouble at all with seasickness. I’ve been on boats before, but only for a few hours at a time — not for a whole week. I wasn’t sure how my body would react. Turns out, it didn’t really react at all. Sometimes, if I looked out at the window and saw the waves rushing by, I’d feel dizzy, but otherwise, I faired surprisingly well. Honestly, the worst was getting off the boat at the end of the week. I felt like everything was rocking back and forth for days afterwards.

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my trip to the Galápagos Islands this summer. Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, BloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!


Top: Amazon

Shorts: H&M

Hat: Target

August 5, 2019 – A Galápagos Girl (OOTD #539)

Does it still count as an OOTD if I’m not really wearing an “outfit” in these pictures?

The first day or two with a brand new group of people is always a little awkward. You have to be on your best behavior — no questionable jokes (even if they’re funny), no swearing, no copious complaining, especially if no one else is doing it.

And perhaps this is just a rule that I impose for myself, but no excessive requests for photographs, even if you’re on a tropical island in a continent you’ve never visited before, and you have a fashion blog that you want to post all of your trip photos to. You might want to get a photo with every cool-looking rock, but you need to exercise a little restraint — you don’t want to become known as the girl who needs her picture taken with every cool-looking rock.

In general, I try to wait until someone else asks for their picture taken — then I offer to take it for them, and follow up with “oh, and would you mind getting one for me as well?” They can’t deny taking my picture after I’ve offered to do the same for them, and they can’t judge me for asking because they asked first.

Sometimes, though, a cool photo opportunity arises and no one’s posed for the picture question yet. Maybe they’re embarrassed or maybe they’re just not into having their picture taken. In that case, I will ask first. Often, people follow suit in expressing their desire to have their picture taken. If they don’t, maybe it’s a little weird, especially if the group ends up waiting for you while you pose next to your cool-looking rock. Oh well — at least you got your picture with the cool-looking rock. The judgmental people can’t say that.

For my first day in the Galápagos Islands with a new group of friends, that’s what I ended up doing. I couldn’t go a whole day without a picture to post for a blog, so I caved and asked my roommate on the ship to get my picture next to the water.

I’m glad I got the pictures so I could share something with you for today’s post, but being honest, these photos weren’t worth the mental anxiety I put myself through to get them. There are much, much cooler photos to come from my subsequent days in the Galápagos — so stay tuned.

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my trip to the Galápagos Islands this summer. Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, BloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!


Bathing suit: Target

August 4, 2019 – Quitting for Quito (OOTD #538)

Oops, I guess I couldn’t stay in the US for too long.

That’s right, two weeks after I returned home from Italy/Denmark/Hungary/Croatia/England, I was back off again — this time, to an entirely different continent that I had never been to before.

In addition to being my first time in Quito and in Ecuador, this was also my first time in South America altogether. You’d think being the closest continent to my own (North America), I would have been there before, but it’s not a super common destination for American tourists. Maybe that’ll change in the future?

So why was I in Quito? It’s kind of a long story. The short answer: I won an essay contest.

The long answer: one day, I received a mysterious email from Notre Dame International inviting me (and the rest of the undergraduate student body) to apply for what could perhaps best be described as an “academic pilgrimage” to the Galápagos Islands be led by two professors from the Chemistry Department in the College of Science. The goal of the trip was described  broadly as to “trace the steps that Charles Darwin took on his path to discovery,” and in the process, perhaps gain a deeper appreciation for how discovery — in any field of study — occurs. That’s how I interpreted it in my application essay, at least.

I never thought I’d get in — I’m studying history and international relations, and I haven’t studied evolutionary biology since high school. I technically took some science classes my freshman year at Notre Dame, but they weren’t really that rigorous. I’m not even studying the history of science. I definitely haven’t studied anything chemistry-related that I could’ve used to impress the Chemistry professors leading the trip.

I guess my essay comparing the studies of human history and natural history impressed them though, because somehow, I got in. Or maybe it wasn’t the essay — maybe it was the outfit I wore to the interview. It was rather cute. You can actually check out the blog post from the day that I interviewed for the spot here.

Before heading to the Galápagos, our cohort of six stopped for a day in Quito, Ecuador.

 

July 15, 2019 – London Layover (OOTD #533)

Best. Layover. Ever.

Here it is — the last blog from my summer European adventure. And what an adventure it was. Fitting that it should end with one last big adventure, right?

Croatia was not actually the last country I visited on this trip — it was actually England. After departing the Zagreb airport at around 1pm in the afternoon (though I’ll mention I arrived at like 7am, on account of my friend’s flight departing earlier than mine), I made it to London Heathrow a little over an hour later.

And then I sat and waited.

My next flight, the one that would take me to Chicago, wasn’t going to leave until the following day at 7am. I had a 16-hour layover to wait out. Thankfully, if my traveling has taught me anything, it’s how to handle long layovers in the airport — and the best way to handle a long layover in the airport is to leave.

 

July 14, 2019 – Castle on the Hill (OOTD #532)

Blog title courtesy of this Ed Sheeran song. 

With the exception of the fact that this castle in these photos was on more of a mountain than a castle, that is a rather fitting song to go with this blog. For full effect, have it playing in the background while you read this.

I’m kidding — don’t do that, that’s corny. Or maybe do, if you like sappy songs and sappy blogs about nostalgia.

Why reference an Ed Sheeran song that I only kind-of sort-of like? Because this is the second-to-last blog covering my two-month summer 2019 adventure in Europe that, thus far in the chronology of this blog, has spanned four countries and nine cities (soon to be five countries — but you’ll have to wait for tomorrow’s blog for that story), and I’m feeling nostalgic. It was a fun summer. I didn’t want it to end. Now I don’t want to finish writing about, because that means it’s done for good.

On my final day in Croatia, my friend, her cousin and I all hiked up the side of a mountain to where the ruins of Samobor Old Town castle were located. This was somewhere that my friend’s cousin had been trying to get us to go to for the entire week, but for one reason or another — exhaustion, illness, weather — we hadn’t yet made it.

I was actually afraid we might not get to go at all. I like to think of myself as pretty receptive and flexible when it comes to travel experiences, but I don’t know if everyone else is the same way. Someone had mentioned that there might be snakes in the area, and I think my friend was a little nervous to go. I kept mentioning that I was interested in going though, and eventually, she relented.

View this post on Instagram

hvala, sljedeći.

A post shared by Meilin || L'ensemble du jour (@lensembledujour) on

And I’m sure glad I pushed for it. Maybe castle ruins aren’t a big deal if you’re from Europe and there are ancient castles everywhere you turn, but as an American from Kentucky who hadn’t seen a castle up until this summer, it’s still very cool.

Croatia is one of the filming locations of Game of Thones, and Samobor Old Town made it obvious why. Where else in the world can you find castle ruins that are just ruined enough to be whimsical but not so ruined to be unattractive? And in the picturesque mountains of a small countryside town?

On the last night in Croatia, we went to dinner with my friend’s family. I was happy to have been invited along, but I’ll admit I felt a little out of place. The whole week, I was afraid I was somehow overstepping my boundaries as a guest and the only non-family person there, even though there was no indication from my friend’s family that they felt that way. If anything, they were too friendly and accommodating — I know I’ll never be able to return the favor in full, so there’s nothing I can do but be grateful that they allowed me to stay with them in Samobor for a week

That night, when I went to bed, I was full of conflicted feelings. In one sense, I was sad to be leaving Europe after I’d had so much fun and become thoroughly enchanted with their public transportation infrastructure; in another, I was glad to finally be heading home after two months away (which had almost immediately followed another two months away at school). In a third sense, I was nervous to have to fly out again the following day for a three flight, 42 hour travel sequence back to the US.

Yes, you read that right — three flights and 42 hours. Tune in next time for the rest of that story.

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my life in Europe this summer. Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, BloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!


Top: Vintage (thrift, Budapest Ecseri Bazaar)

Jacket: Thrift (ClothesMentor)

Jeans: American Eagle

July 3, 2019 – Fairytale Moment (OOTD #525)

Budapest wins the award for the city where I got the best photographs of me during this trip.

View this post on Instagram

no photographs, please

A post shared by Meilin || L'ensemble du jour (@lensembledujour) on

Not to praise myself, but I think I look really good here. It’s honestly more the background and lighting conditions than me myself, but…you know. My appearance (featuring a top and a dress that I adopted from the unwanted clothing bin in my dorm’s laundry room at the end of last semester) played a small role in the outcome of these pictures.

My next stop on my Budapest adventure was the Buda side of the Danube, where Budapest Castle and Fisherman’s Bastion are located. If you thought St. Stephen’s Basilica and the Parliament Building on the Pest side of the Danube were beautiful, you’re in for a treat with Budapest Castle and Fisherman’s Bastion. There may have been other places in Europe that I liked more for their historical or political or cultural significance, but this may be the one that I liked best purely for physical appearance.

It’s a simply gorgeous area and (obviously) spectacular for photos. I was fortunate to have my friend Bilal along with me, who was happy to act as my photographer for the day. Photography may not be your cup of tea, and as a consequence, you may not get the same kind of personal enjoyment out of these sites as I did. If you are into pictures — either taking them of other people, or having them taken of yourself — then make sure to go in late afternoon or early morning, when you get the best lighting. You’re going to want it.

If you have the time, I recommend taking a stroll across Margaret Bridge to get to the Buda side of the river. It may take significantly longer than the bus, but it’s a nice walk, if a little tiring (especially once you get to Buda Castle and Fisherman’s Bastion, which are at the top of a hill). On a nice day, it’s worth the extra exertion.

View this post on Instagram

this is the church, this is the steeple

A post shared by Meilin || L'ensemble du jour (@lensembledujour) on

View this post on Instagram

budapest more like buda…best? #imsorry

A post shared by Meilin Scanish (@meilin_scanish) on

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my life in Europe this summer. Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, BloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!


Top: Thrift

Dress: Thrift

June 16, 2019 – Ruined (OOTD #519)

Well if you close your eyes / do you almost feel like you’ve been here before? 

Pompeii was one of those places that I knew I wanted to visit as soon as I learned I had gotten the internship in Rome. Everything I’d heard from friends who’d been to Italy before was that it was somewhere I needed to go — and that furthermore, if I didn’t go now, I might never have a chance, as it’s not the most well-preserved site.

After spending the previous day in Naples and liking but not loving it, I decided to take the one-hour train on to Pompeii.

So was it everything I dreamed?

Actually, not really. Admission was steep, and that didn’t even cover the cost of a tour — and so I didn’t get a tour. As it turns out, that’s not a wise idea. It’s a huge space that’s easy to get lost in, and if you can’t read the signs in Italian, there’s not much to indicate what you’re actually looking at. Thankfully, I was there alongside a set of friends who spoke Italian and a set of friends who’d studied Classics and Latin in university, and so together, they were able to piece together what we saw. Without them, though, I would have been completely clueless.

Despite being a history major, if I’m honest, ancient Roman history is just not my wheelhouse. I like modern history — anything post-French Revolution is exciting to me (though 19th century imperialism can be a little dry.) In terms of history, cities like Budapest or Prague or Berlin are the most fascinating to me. I appreciate visiting places like Pompeii and Rome because I appreciate their history — but while I appreciate their history, it doesn’t inspire me like other histories do.

The best part of Pompeii was probably its most morbid element — the casts of dead bodies in their final positions before their owners succumbed to the smoke and ash. I’m not going to post any pictures here because it may be disturbing to some, but I would highly recommend a Google search of the plaster bodies of Pompeii. Through the plaster casts, you get a sense of what these people’s last moments were like before they died. It’s creepy and humbling.

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my life in Europe this summer. Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, BloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!


 Top: Pitaya

Shorts: PacSun

June 15, 2019 – Not Florida (OOTD #518)

Wait, this isn’t Naples, Florida.

View this post on Instagram

wait, this isn’t florida

A post shared by Meilin || L'ensemble du jour (@lensembledujour) on

I’ve actually never been to Naples, Florida. I haven’t actually traveled much around Florida, despite it being the go-to vacation destination for every family that lived south of the Mason-Dixon line from about 2006-2015. I’ve seen Orlando and Destin and Panama City Beach, but otherwise, that’s about it. Don’t tell anyone from Florida, but I don’t actually like Florida that much.

View this post on Instagram

mall rat

A post shared by Meilin || L'ensemble du jour (@lensembledujour) on

So while I’ve never been to Naples, Florida to compare it to Naples, Italy, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Naples, Italy (also known as Napoli in Italian) is the better of the two. If you’ve been to both and have an opinion, feel free to fact check me.

View this post on Instagram

twisted my ankle twice on these streets

A post shared by Meilin || L'ensemble du jour (@lensembledujour) on

As I discussed in my post about my trip to Florence, Northern and Southern Italy have extremely distinct cultures, a distinction that even I, an uncultured American, noticed in comparing Florence and Rome (both of which are actually more Central than Northern or Southern). Naples, the southernmost location I visited in Rome (and furthermore, considered by many to be emblematic of what makes the South of Italy unique compared to Central and Northern Italy) blew the Florence-Rome comparison out the water.

View this post on Instagram

i’m having a moment

A post shared by Meilin || L'ensemble du jour (@lensembledujour) on

Naples was very different — both from Rome and Florence, but especially Florence. It’s like comparing a gated community with a private school that Felicity Huffman paid for her children to go to, to the neighborhood that Kelley Williams-Bolar falsified her address in order to prevent her children from having to school in. Can you guess if Naples is the Felicity Huffman or the Kelley Williams-Bolar?

In fact, when I returned to Rome from Naples, the first thing a friend said to me was “Oh, you didn’t get mugged! I guess you didn’t get an authentic tour.”

View this post on Instagram

not a bad view

A post shared by Meilin || L'ensemble du jour (@lensembledujour) on

Actually, I don’t think Naples is as bad as its reputation. Sure, it was a little sketchy, especially that first night after I arrived after sundown and had to find the AirBnB. And the beach weren’t the cleanest. And one half of our friend group got kicked out of their hotel room after it turned out that they’d booked through a fraudulent website. At least the roads were better than Rome’s — no twisted ankles for me!

Plus, Naples had a beautiful castle — the Castel dell’Ovo, “the castle of the egg.” Don’t ask me why it’s called that. I don’t know (though I’m certain it was explained on one of the signs, I couldn’t read them as they were all in Italian). It was beautiful though, and I got some sweet photos on the way up.

View this post on Instagram

sea you around

A post shared by Meilin || L'ensemble du jour (@lensembledujour) on

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my life in Europe this summer. Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, BloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!


Outfit 1:

Swimsuit top: Hollister

Swimsuit bottom: Target

Outfit 2:

Top: Zara

Shorts: H&M