August 17, 2019 – A New York Minute (OOTD #550)

Nothing quite beats the feeling of returning back to the US after being gone for a long time.

Even if it’s just an airport — even an airport I’ve never been to before — and I have hours and hours of connections to make before I actually make it back to Kentucky, it’s nonetheless comforting being back in my own country.

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My flight from Tel-Aviv left at around midnight local time and arrived at New York JFK at 6 AM in the morning. My next flight to Atlanta wasn’t until 4 PM (though it ended up getting pushed back a few hours — thankfully I was still able to make the connection from ATL to LEX), so with my time, I decided to do what I do best in airports — leave and come back.

After dropping my bags off at baggage storage, I headed to the AirTrainJFK  to get into the city. JFK isn’t directly connected to the subway system (compared to say, Chicago O’Hare or London Heathrow or Copenhagen Kastrup, where you can get directly on the metro from the airport terminal), but it has its own train line that then connects to the subway in Queens.

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From Queens, I then bought a MetroCard for the subway (hot take: why is it called “MetroCard” when it’s the subway system? You’d immediately give yourself away as a visitor rather than a local if you referred to the New York underground transport system as a “metro” rather than a “subway,” so why do they use the word “metro” for their cards?) and took the J Train into Manhattan.

I only had a few hours — not enough to go into the tourist areas in the center of Manhattan —  so I mostly hung out around East Village.

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This was my first time in this particular neighborhood, and I must say, I liked it very much. With the exception of a homeless man who swore at me for ignoring him as I walked into a Starbucks, it was a lovely part of town — quieter than the Upper East or Upper West Sides, but still very much a part of New York. And it was relatively balanced in diversity — it didn’t seem to have a particular dominant cultural or ethnic leaning. Not that a neighborhood having a strong cultural leaning is a bad thing at all — but I thought it was cool to see a neighborhood that seemed to have so many different people living together in close proximity.

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My one complaint (besides the swearing homeless man — but like, that’s just New York) was that a lot of shops and restaurants were closed, even though I was there during the day. I visited on a Saturday morning, and nothing really seemed to start opening up until around 11AM, which was when I needed to start heading back to the airport. I was able to go into a few consignment shops, but on the whole, I was really only able to wander around the park and read The Times in Starbucks.

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Still better than sitting in the airport, but I guess New York does after sleep sometimes after all.

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 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: A shop on either Ben Yehuda or King George Street in Jerusalem (I’ve already forgotten, oops)

Hat: Thrifted (a consignment shop in Jerusalem)

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.

 

May 15, 2019 – Dilly Dilly Philly Philly (OOTD #501)

Controversial opinion, perhaps, but I love a long layover.

Many might bemoan a long wait time sitting in an airport until your next flight, but I’ve actually come to thrive on them. If it’s over 10 hours, I’ve found, I can leave the airport — especially in a city with good public transport — come back, and it’s like I had a little day-long trip before my main trip. A detour, if you will.

On my way to Rome, I had a nearly 12-hour layover in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, my second-favorite city in the US after New York. I left Lexington at 7:30 in the morning, arrived around 9, and I didn’t have to get my flight to Rome until 7 in the evening. I wasn’t about to wait around in the airport all day, so I grabbed my backpack, hunted down ground transport, and took the train downtown.

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what’s up, billy penn

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As it turns out, I also happen to have an uncle who lives in Philly (and another uncle, and some cousins, and basically my entire father’s side of the family), and so my Uncle Tim agreed to meet up with me for lunch.

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how enlightening

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Uncle Tim has actually popped up on this blog before — namely, on a day-trip to Bardstown, KY when he came to visit my family back home. He also gets a mention sometimes when I post pictures wearing work shirts with other people’s names on them, because he’s the one who gave me those shirts. He drives a hearse, has tattoos, and wears earrings. He’s a quirky dude, and he’s the best.

So Uncle Tim and I headed to the Reading Terminal Market for lunch, where I ordered a Philly Cheesesteak (the only place to buy one) and grabbed a Wawa smoothie to drink. From there, we headed to South Street, where we walked around the vintage and antique shops.

Like my father (his brother) and me, Uncle Tim could spend an eternity in antique shops. We both had a lot of fun wandering in and out of the various oddball stores on South Street. I was proud of myself — I didn’t buy anything, even though there were definitely a few pieces of vintage clothing that caught my eye. I just didn’t have enough storage space in my bags to take them with me all the way to Rome. I’m trying to whittle down my wardrobe, bit by bit.

All in all, it was a good layover, but it was only that — a layover. I wished I could stay longer and meet up with the rest of the family, but I had another plane to catch, so after an afternoon in the city, Uncle Tim brought me back the airport and we said our goodbyes.

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bye, usa

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Next stop: Rome, Italy!

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 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: H&M

Top: The LOFT

Leggings: The LOFT

December 24, 2018 – Christmas Eve in Germany (OOTD #426)

Spending Christmas Eve in Germany was not in my life plans about a month ago.

A month ago, I had assumed I’d be spending my winter break split between Qatar and France — Qatar for a conference on Islamic theology and peacebuilding funded by my university, and then France to immerse myself in French language and culture for a week, also funded by my university. If I was going to wind up in any other countries along the way, I figured they’d just be short layovers not really worthy mentioning — kind of like the time I was technically in Abu Dhabi for two hours for a layover during my flight to Nepal.

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frohe weihnachten aus münchen

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But, as it turned out, once my flights were organized by the conference coordinator, I got an extra long layover in Munich, Germany, on my flight to Doha, Qatar on December 23 — a whole seven hours! Initially, I figured I’d just hang out and explore the airport. I’ve heard good things about the Munich airport.

Remembering the fun I was able to have in Bucktown, Chicago during my long layover in O’Hare on my flight home from Nepal, I began to wonder though if maybe I’d be able to do the same for Munich. I’m not the most comfortable traveling by myself to foreign countries, though I don’t know if anyone ever really is, but I’ve been getting more confidence over the last few years, especially having traveled to London and Nepal semi-independently.

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merry christmas from munich with much love

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After doing some research (namely consulting the TripAdvisor forums), I decided to go for it and try to see the city during the seven-hour layover. There was another Notre Dame girl going to the same conference who wound up on the same flight from Philly to Munich, and after telling her my plan, she agreed to go too. Neither of us had ever seen Germany and neither of us spoke German, but we figured we could function for a few hours.

I departed Kentucky midday, and then I had a medium-length layover in Philadelphia. From there, it was a nine-ish hour flight — at which point, we arrived in Munich at about 9:00 AM local time.

Immigration was a piece of cake — the officer only asked how long I’d be there, and then he sent us on our way. From there, we purchased the less than 20 USD train tickets to Marienplatz, as the TripAdvisor forums suggested.

If there was anything I loved about Germany, it was the S-Bahn train. The New York Subway, the London Underground, the Chicago L — none of those public transport systems have anything on this German train. It was clean, quiet, modern, and perhaps most surprisingly for me — perfectly on time. There was even a screen where you could see estimated arrival times for each stop, and how those ETAs changed based on how long loading and unloading took each stop. The future is now, I guess.

When we stepped out into Marienplatz, the town square, I admittedly didn’t know what to expect. I’ve hardly ever studied German language or culture, and I was too lazy to do much studying up before I went. I had almost no preconceived notions of what a German city should look like — but rest assured, I was not disappointed.

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pretty! buildings!

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I saw a lot of different things over winter break — the colorful Doha skyline, sand dunes in the Middle East, gothic churches in France, a spring of supposedly magical healing water — but I don’t think anything had quite the same effect on me as seeing Marienplatz all decorated for the Christmas Eve Market. For context, the second you walk out from the Marienplatz S-Bahn stop onto the street, the first thing you see is the massive Rockefeller Center-sized Christmas tree in front of the spectacular gothic-style New Town Hall.

Coming from the US, and a relatively small US city at that, I don’t get to see much that even vaguely resembles Marienplatz very often. Notre Dame’s campus has some cool collegiate gothic architecture, and I do love God Quad with the basilica and the Golden Dome, but Notre Dame can’t compete with the feel a real European city. Everything there is so old — even stuff that technically isn’t that old, like the New Town Hall (which actually was only built in the 19th century), feels old.

One of my favorite things about travel is the ability to get a feel for a city — the facial expressions of locals as they walk through crowded train platforms, the ambient sounds as you maneuver through the town square, the kind of birds that nest in the crevices of buildings. If I had to describe Munich from my short visit, it was quaint. London, or what I saw of it in 2017, felt old, but somehow, Munich felt older. Munich felt a little quieter, a little friendlier — distinctively different from the sense of frustrated energy that exists in a massive city like New York or London. And I love the frustrated energy of New York and London — in fact, I’d love to be a frustrated, energetic New Yorker one day — but I also appreciated the slower pace of Munich.

In the end, my friend and I didn’t do much more than walk around. We did end up getting hungry and wander into a random restaurant, where I had the most German encounter of my trip: I tried to order water to drink, and instead I was given beer. I mean, I have nothing against drinking beer in Germany — in fact, that seems to be probably a pretty good place to do it — but I was still kind of surprised when I thought I was just getting water. It was good though. And what was even better was that it ended up being free, for some reason? Don’t know what happened there, but no complaints from me.

I was a little worried about getting back in time for our flight, but I shouldn’t have been. The train ran just as beautifully as it did on the way there, and immigration was once again a simple interaction. From there, it was another six hour flight in order to make it to Qatar. I got in at around 11 at night local time, and I didn’t stumble into my hotel until around 1:30. But more on that later.

To check out my full Munich adventures, I highly recommend checking out my Instagram story highlights from that day!

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my travels. 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: The LOFT

Pants: Thrifted (Salvation Army)

Scarf: My mother’s closet

 

December 15, 2018 – Rerouted (OOTD #423)

Welp, that didn’t’t go as planned.

My semester had ended, I’d finished up all of my finals, and I thought I knew for certain what all of my grades were going to be. There shouldn’t have been anything else left to worry about — everything was supposed to be set for me to make it home by 7PM on Saturday night.

So why then did I not make it back until 10AM the following morning?

That’s an excellent question, and one I’m still asking myself. See, I was supposed to have two flights — one from Chicago Midway at 10AM to Atlanta, and another from Atlanta to Lexington at 5PM that would have gotten me home by early evening. Why not just one direct flight from Chicago to Lexington? Because money, that’s why — I basically always fly as cheaply as possible.

Maybe that wasn’t such a good idea this time, however, because after I made it to Atlanta, all of my troubles began. I shouldn’t have been surprised because I hate the Atlanta airport — the last time I was there, I got trapped for two days after a bad storm in the Southwest trapped the entire airport full of people, meaning that Amanda and I, as two sorry idiots who flew standby, were stuck there until two spots finally opened up for a flight to Lexington. This time, I made it out of Atlanta alive and on time, but my flight didn’t reach my destination. Instead, it got rerouted to Indianapolis 15 miles away from our destination.

Apparently, the runway lights were out or something. I don’t manage airports, so I can’t claim to know how everything works, but it strikes me that that’s not an issue that you should allow to happen. Anyway, my flight couldn’t land, and so they flew us all to Indianapolis at 10PM at night, three hours after we were supposed to have landed in Kentucky.

In Indianapolis, they made us sit there for an hour before they finally decided to cancel the flight, at which point, they shoved us all into the airport with some hotel vouchers. Unfortunately, the troubles didn’t end there.

They put us in a (crappy) hotel about 10 miles away from the airport. I felt so badly for the hotel staff — they clearly were not prepared for an airplane-load of people to show up at 10PM at night. They only had one shuttle, and the shuttle could only take 10 people at a time, which sucked for the airplane full of people who were stuck waiting out in the cold as the shuttle made the 30 minute trip back and forth from the airport to the hotel. Then, of course, when I finally made it to the hotel at about 11PM at night, the poor lone person standing there at the desk was still struggling to make it through the line of people waiting to get rooms.

I don’t think I made it up to my room until about midnight — and at that point, I only had five hours until it was time to get up again and catch the shuttle to get back to the airport for my 7:30AM flight. Resigned to my sad fate, I took some pictures of my outfit (because I figured this was too good of a story to not give it a proper blog post treatment — and also because I liked this outfit), and got a few hours of shut-eye before dragging myself back to the airport.

Thankfully, though, our flight departed on time, and I finally made it back home. It was over 12 hours later than I was supposed to be — and basically 24 hours after I departed from school on Saturday morning. Can you believe that? It took me 24 hours to make it from Chicago to Lexington, which, by plane, should have taken two hours — four if you count the bus ride from campus to Midway.

I don’t think it was my worst travel debacle, but it’s up there. Maybe #2, after the other Atlanta tragedy that I mentioned earlier. I do love to fly, don’t get me wrong — but I don’t love it when I get stranded at airports and bus stops and creepy hotels for 12 hours at a time.

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my life as a world traveler. Don’t forget to check me out on PinterestInstagramFacebookBloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!

Jacket: Thrifted

Sweater: Thrifted

Shirt: J.Crew

DressAmerican Eagle