September 2, 2019 – A Monumental Semester Part Two (OOTD #559)

For part one, click here.

I think the main draw of Washington DC as a tourist destination for me is the monuments and memorials. Think about it — what can you really see in the White House or the Supreme Court? Not a lot. The average tours they give to the public only last about 30 minutes because there’s very little that they actually will allow people in to see. They have the potential to be very cool buildings, but you can’t see much of their insides, and what you can see of their outsides is pretty but not jaw-droppingly so.

So what’s left? The museums, I guess — which I absolutely respect if you were to say they’re your favorite part of DC. I’m just not a museum person. I don’t deny that the Smithsonians may be some of the best history and science museums in the world, but that only means so much to a gremlin like me that gets bored in museums. My only exception is art museums — I could spend a lifetime in those. Unfortunately, DC’s not big in the art museum scene. I guess there’s the National Portrait Gallery?

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That’s not to say DC lacks art, though — and that’s where the monuments and memorials come in. With the exception of the Washington Monument (which — I’m sorry if you’re a big Washington Monument fan — is just a giant stick into the sky), the monuments and memorials on the National Mall are really something to see.

This was my second tour of the National Mall within just a few days, though this one was a lot more thorough. Compared to last time, where we were just led around from one monument to another to explore on our own (so much on our own, that I in fact got separated from the group and never made it to the Jefferson Memorial), this time, we actually had someone explain to us what we were looking at.

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Honestly, it was almost too much explaining — it was like, a four-hour tour, and we really only saw a few things. I still haven’t gotten to see the Jefferson Memorial. Will I actually make it there before the end of the semester? 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 life this semester in Washington, DC. 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: H&M

Shorts: H&M

August 31, 2019 – A Monumental Semester (OOTD #558)

Blog title courtesy of Notre Dame’s Washington Program tagline.

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Say what you will about Washington DC being a fake city consisting of nothing but tourists and glorified temps who come and go with every election (in fact, I’d probably half agree with you), but I like the monuments and memorials.

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I don’t know, I just think they’re cool. With the exception of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial (which is my favorite) and maybe to a lesser extent the Korean War Veterans Memorial, none of them are super provocative, which to me is what makes a good memorial.  However, they’re still fun to look at. No, there’s nothing emotive or honestly really even that controversial about the Lincoln Memorial. In the end, it’s just a giant statue of a guy in a chair. But you can still marvel at the artistry and technique that went into creating the giant statue of a guy in a chair.

I think, for me, that’s what makes the difference between a cool statue and a memorial — a memorial should have some form of impact for the viewer. And that doesn’t have to be in the form of controversy in its creation or design, as was the case with the Vietnam Veterans Memorial (though I do find the story behind its design to be fascinating).

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A memorial should make you think or reflect on something — in the case of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, it’s to make you reflect on how terrible war is for just about everyone involved. It’s an ugly wall for an ugly war. To compare, the National World War II Memorial may have a flashy fountain and beautiful sculptures of eagles, but it doesn’t really make you think about anything but how flashy the fountain is and how beautiful the sculptures of the eagles are. For that reason, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial is the better memorial — even if it’s the uglier “statue.”

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Like I said, though, that’s not to say that some of the “big statue” memorials, like Lincoln or Washington or Jefferson, aren’t still fun to see. They’re just not provocative to see. Comparing the Vietnam Veterans Memorial to the Lincoln Memorial is like comparing a Francis Bacon to a Pier1 Imports painting of a fruit bowl — yes, Lincoln is pretty to look at and an impressive display of technique, but what did it really make you think about? We all already know what a fruit bowl looks like, and we all already know that Lincon was a good president.

Anyway, those are my thoughts on the monuments and memorials in DC that you didn’t ask for. One last opinion for the road — how long until a woman gets a memorial on the National Mall of the scale of Lincoln or Jefferson? And who do I have to know in order to get to design it?

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my life this semester in Washington, DC. 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: H&M

Skirt: Forever21

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

July 31, 2019 – Off to the Races (OOTD #537)

Disclaimer: This post contains products that were received complimentary from DiscountGlasses.com. All opinions are my own.


Sometimes, I happen upon clothing in the strangest places.

Case in point: I came across these racing silks (the jacket jockeys wear when racing horses) in a bargain bin of a leather goods store’s going-out-of-business sale.

Apparently, they’d been used as a part of store decorations and promotional material during spring meets (aka, around the time of the Kentucky Derby). They also had various Christmas and Halloween decorations in the pile. With the store going out of business, there was no reason for them to keep their horse season decorations, and so they threw them in the bin to get rid of.

I of course wasn’t really in the hunt for racing silks when I entered the leather goods shop — I was looking for leather goods (specifically, for a wallet to replace the one I lost whilst in Rome). I found the wallet first, and as I was waiting for my dad to finish looking around, I came across their bargain bin holiday decorations.

I couldn’t resist the jacket, even though I admit I don’t really need more jackets. It’s just such a fun yet unobtrusive was to represent my Kentucky heritage in fashion. Who needs one of those t-shirts that says “y’all” inside the silhouette of Kentucky when you can have racing silks?

Side note: these are the exact same brand and model of glasses that I lost in France after a Tinder date gone-awry! Long story short, I had just gotten this new pair of glasses from DiscountGlasses.com as a part of a sponsorship, and so I brought them with me on my trip to Vichy, France right after Christmas. Unfortunately, I never had the chance to bring them back from my trip to Vichy, France, as I somehow lost them while I was on a walk in a park with a guy named Axel whom I’d met through Tinder.

I liked them so much that I decided to order a replacement pair. They’re the Westend Argyle Park design, and you can check them out here on DiscountGlasses.com’s website. Maybe you’d also like to bring them with you on your next trip to France.

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my life back home 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: Thrifted (a local leather goods store)

Top: H&M

Shorts: American Eagle

Glasses: DiscountGlasses.com (Westend Argyle Park)

July 13, 2019 – Eastern Kentucky or Croatia? (OOTD #531)

I think my favorite part of Croatia was just driving through the countryside.

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croatia or eastern kentucky?

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For some potentially explanatory context, I was hardly in a car at all for the entirety for my time in Europe. In Rome, I drove with some friends to a club once and once to the airport shuttle stop when I was about to leave. In Copenhagen and Budapest, I never even had the chance to get in a car if I’d wanted to. In comparison, back in the US, I’m in a car almost everyday, especially when I’m at home with my parents in Kentucky. It’s a little different when I’m on campus at Notre Dame, but for most parts of the US, you need a car to go anywhere, so you tend to spend a lot of time driving around places.

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over the castle on the hill

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So when I got to Croatia and I got to live with my friend’s cousin’s family, that was pretty much the first time I got to drive anywhere in over a month. And since they didn’t really live in the city (but rather, a small town called Samobor outside of Zagreb), we ended up driving a lot.

One day, we drove out about an hour outside of Samobor to a museum in the mountains where they’d found some Neanderthal remains. Being honest, the museum — or the restaurant we went to afterwards — wasn’t the most interesting part of the day. It was the drive through the Croatian countryside.

The Croatian countryside reminds me in a way of Eastern Kentucky. Lots of rolling hills and mountains with houses dotted along the road. It’s quiet and picturesque, though if you ask me, Croatia beats out Eastern Kentucky in the picturesque category. The people of the Croatian countryside are quite different from the people of the Kentuckian countryside, who very often seem to fit their stereotype of being “hillbillies.” It can be a bit hard to categorize Kentucky as picturesque when, among the rolling hills and green mountains, there are people who look like Colonel Sanders was their father.

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

Jacket: H&M

Trousers: The LOFT

 

July 10, 2019 – What Rhymes with Zagreb? (OOTD #529)

All I could potentially think of was “Maghreb” but I don’t know how I’d be able to utilize that for a blog title.

My trip to Croatia did not turn out quite as planned: for one, my school friend whom I was visiting with got sick the day before I arrived, meaning we were unable to visit any of the other cities we’d been planning to go to. Instead, we spent the week in Somobor with a day trip to Zagreb and to Brezîce, Slovenia.

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At first, I was disappointed: everyone goes to Croatia to see the beaches, which was a part of our original plan that ended up getting scrapped. Instead, I mostly saw a small town outside of the capital. However, as the week went on, I realized I didn’t mind spending the majority of my time in one place — it helped me to get to know the people I was staying with better. I did feel a little badly about potentially overstaying their hospitality’s welcome, though. I’ve never met more kind and generous people than this Croatian family; I wish there was some way I could repay them.

And I did get in little day trip to Zagreb itself. My friend needed to go to the hospital, and so her cousin, her cousin’s sister, and I tagged along for the drive into the city. My friend and her cousin went to the hospital and left her cousin’s sister, Nina, and I to hang out for a few hours in the city.

Zagreb I think wins the cutest European city award for me. It’s tiny compared to larger cities like Rome or London, but it is its size that makes it special: it feels like something out of a storybook. With its color palette that relies heavily on pastel pinks, blues, and yellows and its location nestled into the lush Croatian countryside, it could easily pass as a water color background in a Disney fairy tale.

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it’s all croatian to me

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Would I ever move here? Maybe not — it’s a little too quiet, kind of like Copenhagen was. But unlike Copenhagen, which seemed almost eerily happy, Zagreb had a more somber, melancholy air that I appreciated. It felt more authentic, less tourist-driven. Maybe it’s the recent memories of the Yugoslav Wars that haven’t quite healed, but I got the sense that behind the picturesque imagery, Zagreb had more of a story to tell.

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once upon a time

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Unfortunately, though, I was only there for part of a day, and so I did not get to uncover it. Maybe I’ll get to go back one day and try, though.

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!


Coat: Vintage (thrifted, Ecseri Bazaar in Budapest)

Top: H&M

Skirt: Pull&Bear

July 5, 2019 – Marketable (OOTD #526)

So rarely do I actually buy things at these markets I visit.

Markets may be one of my favorite sites to visit when I travel to new cities, but I almost never do anything other than that walk around and peruse the items.

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szia and see ya

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In regards to just about everything but clothes, I do a fairly good job of not buying things I don’t need. I don’t buy magnets, or cheap made in China scarves, or keychains. If I don’t see something that calls to me, then I walk away without buying anything. Markets with clothing — especially vintage clothing — are another story, but otherwise, I like to think I’m not a complete slave to consumer culture.

The Budapest Central Market was a great place to visit. It’s got this really beautiful, ornate architectural style and lots of natural light (which means good pictures). As a place to shop, though, I was personally a little less impressed. A lot of what the vendors had to offer was food, but I just wasn’t hungry when I went. If you’re not looking to buy food, however, there isn’t really much for you but gimmicky tourist stuff.

If you’re looking for a better market for gift shopping, I’d have to recommend the Ecseri Bazaar, which I’ll write about in tomorrow’s blog.

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: Zara

Shorts: H&M

 

 

July 1, 2019 – The Grand Budapest Student Dorm (OOTD #523)

*post does not actually feature any images of said dorm.

It took a very long time for me to decide to go to Budapest after Rome. Here’s what happened: when I booked my plane tickets from the US to Europe, I booked a date to get to Rome that aligned with my start day for work. Then, to go back home, I booked a date from Zagreb, Croatia that fell approximately two weeks after my last day at my internship. I knew I needed to end up in Zagreb at the end of those two weeks, and that I needed to vacate my room in Rome two days after the end of work, but I didn’t have any plans for where to go in between then.

By chance, a friend of mine messaged me while I was in Rome and told me that I should visit him in Budapest, where he had just completed a year of study for his master’s degree. This friend has actually featured on my blog before: his name is Bilal, and he was one of the madrasa students from Pakistan whom I met during Madrasa Discourses in Nepal and Qatar. Bilal and I had become closest friends during our time in Nepal and Qatar, and so I was ecstatic when he suggested I visit him in Europe. Plus, Budapest has always been somewhere I wanted to visit, and now I had an excuse.

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eye don’t see what the big deal is

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Apart from the part where I tumbled down a moving escalator at the Fiumicino Airport and broke the handle of my suitcase, the travel from Rome to Budapest went relatively smoothly. It was a super cheap ticket on Whizz Air (yes, that’s actually its name), but it did the trick and got me where I needed to go.

I stayed with Bilal in his dorm room on an air mattress, though I ended up having to switch rooms with one of his friends (and then switch rooms back again) because a housekeeping lady saw me and they’re not supposed to have overnight guests in the dorms. It wasn’t the most glamorous sleeping arrangement I’ve had during my travels (though it beats the time I slept on a bench in the lobby of London Heathrow — more on that later), but again, it did the trick. No Grand Budapest Hotels for me.

On my first full day in the city, I visited the Parliament Building, the Danube River, the Budapest Eye, and St. Stephen’s Basilica, most of which I just looked at from the outside and had little other interaction with. Parliament was closed to the public, the Danube isn’t exactly a river you just go swimming in, and the Budapest Eye was overpriced to ride on. St. Stephen’s Basilica was the only one with both free and practical admission (as all churches should be, in my opinion).

At one point in the afternoon, after I’d finished visiting all of the major tourist sites within walking distance of each other in the city, I wound up having to wait for Bilal for a few hours to finish up an assignment at his university. I decided to sit in a bookshop for a while, where I read The Little Prince and The Old Man and the Sea for the first time. I don’t often just sit and read books if they’re not required for schoolwork (the most recent one I’d read before then was Shortest Way Home, Pete Buttigieg’s autobiography, which my friend Joe lent to me and that I had to finish within a week in order to give it back to him before he went back to England).

It was refreshing to just sit for a while and read something short and poignant, a description that applies to both The Old Man and the Sea  and The Little Prince, but especially to The Little Prince. If you’ve never read it before, I highly recommend that you do. It’s probably my favorite thing I’ve read in years, and perhaps one the best children’s stories I’ve read ever.

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!


Dress: Thrift

Jacket: H&M

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

Wait, this isn’t Naples, Florida.

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wait, this isn’t florida

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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.

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mall rat

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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.

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twisted my ankle twice on these streets

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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.

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i’m having a moment

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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.”

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not a bad view

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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.

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sea you around

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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

June 5, 2019 – Tourist Day (OOTD #512)

I think every trip to a new city over a week long needs a “tourist day.”

Of course, only if you have time for one. Not every travel experience is meant to be vacation, and that’s fine. But if, on your non-vacation travel experience, you have the time to take a “vacation day,” you should go for it.

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one step at a time

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At this point, I’d been in Rome for well over two weeks, and I had yet to see most of the major tourist sites. In fact, I’d seen more of Florence’s tourist sites than I had seen of Rome’s, the actual city where I was staying.

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roaming rome

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It’s hard to go out and see a city when you’re more there to work than to simply visit. You’re there for an extended period of time, and it’s not like any of the sightseeing destinations are going anywhere, so it’s easy to just convince yourself that you can put off exploring for another day. You have work and chores and responsibilities to deal with; your purpose for being in the city is not to see the city, as is the case when you’re just a tourist.

For example, I lived within five minutes walking distance of the Colosseum, but I never had the desire to see the inside of it. That’s not because I didn’t want to see it for its own sake —  I did — but I didn’t have the time to deal with the hassle of ticketing and crowds when I had work. I was usually too tired after work to try fighting off the tourists, and the weekends were so insane with swarms of people that even with extra time on my hands, it didn’t feel worth it.

And that’s why I believe giving yourself a designated “tourist day” is so important. Sometimes, you just have to push yourself to get out and see the world, even if you don’t feel like you have the time or energy. Imagine how much I would have regretted it if I had been in Rome for two months and I never saw the Colosseum, the Forum, Palatine Hill, the Spanish Steps, and Trevi Fountain.

But don’t worry — I did see all of those things! Rome has a deal where they offer entry to all of their historical sites for free for one day a month. In anticipation of this deal, I asked for the day off of work (and yes, I was honest with my bosses about the reason I was asking off), and I made it my mission to see as much of Rome as I could in the afternoon that I had.

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At this point, I had finally established a small group of friends (my Firenze pals), and so I invited them to join me. It was probably only the first or second time in the two weeks I’d been there that I actually got to hang out with a group of people my age, and I didn’t realize how much I missed it. Up until that point, I’d pretty much been completely on my own — another factor that was keeping me back from going out and doing tourist things. That first one-third of my time in Rome was kind-of lonely.

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this is what dreams are made of 🎵

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My friends and I made it everywhere I was hoping to go except for the Pantheon. Spoiler alert: I never made it in the whole two months I was there. A friend told me it wasn’t super exciting, and so every time I told myself I was going to check it out after work, I ended up coming up with an excuse for why I was too tired to go, and that I’d just go tomorrow.

But eventually, I ran out of tomorrows, and the Pantheon remains for me unseen. I guess that’s one for the bucket list for the next time I visit.

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: H&M

Trousers: Thrifted (Salvation Army)