Packing Light for Europe
By Jacqueline Weiss
The style of European women has captured the minds of American women since practically the dawn of time, or at least since fashion magazines emerged. With the French’s chic stripes and scarves, the Italian’s all black ensembles, and the Brit’s ability to make every rainy sidewalk a catwalk, on every trip I’ve taken to Europe I’ve done my best to dress the part and fit in. While I wouldn’t consider myself someone who over packs for my trips, I’ve definitely overestimated how much I’d actually wear certain items on trips. I’ve learned quite a bit, especially after spending five weeks in France last year with little to no laundry access, about how to pack light when traveling overseas.
First, bring comfortable, sensible walking shoes. If you’re spending a majority of your day hitting the sights, you likely won’t want to be wearing uncomfortable shoes while you’re walking ten miles daily. I lived in my Adidas Superstars throughout my recent Italy trip, and a pair of Sperry’s while in France, occasionally swapping them out for a pair of sandals or a wedge (beware of heels in cobblestones!) at night. Bring one or two comfortable shoes, and one or two fun extras, and thank me later.
Layering is your key to traveling in comfort and style. Although it can be hot as we inch toward summer, cool breezes come through at night and it’s best to be prepared with a multi-functional shawl or wrap that can also work as a train or plane blanket, like the Heron wrap. For winter, there’s nothing quite as luxe as cashmere, but go for a linen or breathable cotton for spring and summer travel.
It took me a while to get on the boyfriend jean trend, but now that I’m on board, I’m never getting off. They look just as great with your favorite basic top, like the Sparrow crop and sneakers for comfortable sight-seeing as they do with your Birds of Paradise top and ankle-highlighting wedges for nighttime. Plus, you’ll be glad you’re in a comfortable pair of pants as you indulge in the local drinks and cuisine. A pair of great joggers, like the Mocking J joggers, is also a great option to look chic and feel comfortable.
I’m a massive skincare junkie, and have a hard time not justifying bringing multiple serums, elixirs, and more with me everywhere I go. Pick up re-useable travel size containers instead of re-purchasing pre-packaged travel size products. Save the environment by purchasing less plastic over time, and bring the products you want: a total win-win. Cut down on your makeup too, because especially in the summer heat, you won’t want your face in full on glam. Opt for multi-functional products instead, like a BB cream with SPF and a dewy lip and cheek tint.
Let’s not forget to leave room in our suitcases for a little trip shopping, or at least enough room in your personal or carry-on for a few souvenirs. After being in France for five weeks, I amassed over 50 new items (not all for me!) to bring home, including a new piece of luggage to carry them home in. Learn from my mistakes and don’t wear three jackets in June to the airport because you can’t fit everything in your bags. Traveling lighter is not only easier, it’s the European way.
Italy, My Love
By Rachel Primé
Rome is an obvious must-see if you visit Italy – it’s an exquisite city with an unbelievable amount of history. The juxtaposition of the 2,000-year-old Colosseum amidst the hustle and bustle of modern day Rome is nothing short of incredible. Experiencing the art and antiquity housed in the Vatican museums, Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter’s Basilica is truly a spiritual experience. Not to mention Italian food, which I am salivating just thinking about. While I could talk about Rome all day, I’m actually here to lead you off the beaten path, several hours northwest of the well-known capital, to five coastal villages known as Cinque Terre.
Perched cliff-side on the Italian Riviera coastline, Cinque Terre consists of five small fishing villages overlooking the sea. The towns feature adorable multicolored houses and vineyards with arguably some of the best views in the world. The villages are not accessible by car; walking around you’ll find that your modes of transport are narrow pathways, cobblestone, and stairs.
The hike through all five villages is pretty treacherous at times – steep and rocky with no railing to hold onto. It gets a bit frightening when the sun is setting; you’re quite literally on the edge of a cliff, and you have no idea how far away you are from the next village.
The trek is difficult but so worth it. Your reward is breathtaking panoramic views of the ocean, mountains, and villages. I would recommend starting the hike in Monterosso al Mare (the last of the five villages), early in the morning so you have a chance to stop and enjoy each village along the way. At the end of the hike, my boyfriend and I took the train back to Monterosso al Mare, where we were staying in an Airbnb.
The Food and Wine
There aren’t enough adjectives to describe how delicious the food is in Cinque Terre. I ate the best fresh pesto pasta, crunchy focaccia bread, and sweet gelato in the world. Cinque Terre claims to be the birthplace of pesto sauce, so that’s a must try while you’re there. And I can’t forget the wine! Cinque Terre’s local wines are mostly whites, which I was a little disappointed to find out as an avid red drinker – but seriously, these whites are GOOD. The wines range from light to full-bodied and I found most of them to be extremely drinkable with no funky aftertaste or headache the next day.
Enoteca Internazionale is a great place to go before dinner for a wine tasting and appetizer, or after dinner for a night cap and dessert. We went twice during our three-day stay in Cinque Terre. They have a large selection of wines, liquors, cheese, charcuterie, and desserts. As a note, wine “tastings” in Cinque Terre are not samplings but usually full pours.
It was drizzling on our last day in Cinque Terre, so we decided to spend the day shopping for gifts and drinking wine. We stumbled upon Buranco Agriturismo, a lovely winery in Monterosso al Mare. For a very affordable price per person, you can try a variety of local wines paired with snacks like olives, fresh bread, pesto, and bruschetta while enjoying beautiful views of the mountains. The owners are hospitable and attentive, taking the time to explain where the wines come from and how they are made.
My trip to Cinque Terre was absolutely magical. I was far away from any commercial development, enjoying the rugged outdoors, eating amazing fresh food, and sipping delicious local wines. As a city girl, it was such a great experience to slow down for a few days and have a chance to appreciate the beauty and culture of Cinque Terre. If you are planning a trip to Italy, I couldn’t recommend Cinque Terre enough.
Come to find out, there is much, much more to New Orleans than just Bourbon Street and beignets. If you travel in search of the path less traveled, NOLA has so much to discover. Aside from being extremely photogenic, the city is filled with little boutiques, restaurants and finds that will constantly make you feel like you stumbled upon a hidden treasure. Here are some of my favorite finds:
Saint Claude Social Club - This shop for accessories and home goods had some of the most eclectic items I found in NOLA. If you’re looking for unique gifts as a token of your visit, this is where I’d tell you to go!
The Pharmacy Museum - If you want a taste of New Orleans’ spooky side, check out the Pharmacy Museum. In addition to the informational … and creepy!... aspect, the museum boasts a gorgeous courtyard that often hosts wedding ceremonies.
ACE Hotel - A great contemporary hotspot to stay, eat and drink. It’s home to a rooftop bar, a handful of restaurants (I recommend Josephine Estelle) and a cozy coffee shop and bar.
Earth and Odyssey - This small shop is a go-to for gems, minerals and unique magical finds.
Jackson Square - Grab yourself a coffee or mimosa, this is NOLA after all, and spend the morning walking through the area and checking out local artists and musicians. PS - my favorite bands were Buku Broux and Secondhand Street Band. Hopefully you can find them during your next visit! http://www.bukubroux.com/
If you’re interested in more of my New Orleans suggestions, head over to my blog to keep reading!