Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving!

 One of my favorite things to do during the holidays is setting the table (I definitely get this from my mother)! Tablescapes are so fun and they really set the mood. For this years tablescape, I wanted something that screamed thanksgiving but in an elegant way. The first thing that came to mind was lots of warm colors and some greenery. I was lucky enough that my mom had exactly what I was envisioning sitting in her closet, this tablecloth! The only thing that is missing is gold silverware. My mom and I actually went out the night before Thanksgiving to see if we could find any but we didn't have any luck. When we got home, I looked online and found a lot so I told her that is what I want for Christmas (I think that is when you know you are growing up... when you ask for silverware for Christmas lol)!
Here are some similar items:

I would love to see how you decorate your table for the holidays! Tag me in your photo on Instagram or Twitter (@blushroad). 
xo, brit 

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Day Trip to Alicante

Alicante is a city in Spain that is home to the Santa Bárbara Castle (Castillo de Santa Bárbara). The Santa Bárbara Castle sits on top of a mountain, high above the city, with breathtaking views of the Mediterranean coast. Alicante is also known for their beaches, shopping and nightlife. I think Alicante is extremely underrated compared to Santorini, the Almalfi Coast, Paris, Barcelona, Dubai or London, to name a few. 
If you ever plan a trip to Spain, include Alicante on your itinerary & you can thank me later ;). If you are a student studying abroad in Valencia or just traveling there, I would HIGLY recommend taking a day trip to Alicante. It is only a little over an hour train ride from Valencia.
To give you an estimate of the distance from cities by train:
Alicante --> Barcelona: aprox. 5 hour train ride
Alicante --> Madrid: aprox. 2 hour train ride
Valencia --> Barcelona: aprox. 3.5 hour train ride
Valencia --> Madrid: aprox. 1.5 hour train ride
Train tickets are extremely inexpensive. We paid 16,10€ ($17.73) for our ticket, there and back. 
Before my trip to Spain, I went on Pinterest and searched "Spain." After many hours of looking through pins, I came across Alicante. There was a picture of white houses stacked on top of each other with pink and blue flowers and I thought it was Greece until the location said "Alicante, Spain." I googled how far it was from Valencia and immediately sent Abby the picture I found on Pinterest and told her we needed to go there. She thought it was gorgeous and was on board with my idea. I think Alicante was the thing I was most excited about when traveling to Spain.
CC booked the tickets online and she said the only thing we had to do was open our ticket on the Wallet app on our iPhone. Thankfully, CC was used to booking train tickets and catching trains because without her, I am not sure Abby and I would have made our way through the train station and to the castle. 
We chose an early departure time so we would have almost the whole day in Alicante. The train left Valencia at 7:17am and arrived in Alicante at 9:08am. Once we got there, we had to take the subway (metropolitano) to a different part of town that was closer to the castle. This was cool because we got to experience the underground transportation in Spain (the ticket was only 1,40€).
When we got to the castle, we found a sign saying, "Santa Bárbara Castle" so we assumed that was where we needed to start walking uphill. We weren't sure if we were at the right 'entrance' since the castle sat way up on a mountain and you weren't able to see it from the street we were on. Once we started walking uphill, we saw the castle way off in the distance but we were walking on a road with no sidewalk and no one else was around. We didn't think it was the right way but there were no signs saying not to walk on the road sooo we kept going. On our hike up, there was a platform overlooking the city so we stopped to take some pictures. All of us were in awe of what we were seeing. It was like nothing I have never seen before. You could see mountains off in the distance and the whole view of the city. 
We kept walking and finally we got a point where there was a sidewalk and we saw more people. The higher we kept walking, the prettier the views became. Every time we got a little further up, we stopped to take a picture. It took us 45 minutes to get to the entrance off the castle because of how many times we stopped for pictures (totally worth it, though)!
Once we got to the castle we could see the Mediterranean coast, so at this point our views were of the whole city, the mountains off in the distance and the Mediterranean coast. The three of us just kept snapping photos and drooling over the views. When we finally reached the top of the castle, all of us probably said "I cannot get over this" or "this is the most beautiful view I have ever seen" at least 300 times. The top of the castle was the BEST view, obviously.
When it was time to start heading back down, we started walking down a different way than the way we came up. There was a walking path so I think that was the path we were supposed to hike up rather than the road we hiked up, lol.. oops (they should have better signs and directions!!). Halfway through the hike down, we spotted the row of white houses! We stopped for a few minutes to wander the streets then we made our way to the bottom and walked across the street to the beach. We had to go in a beat-up restaurant to change into our bathing suits (soo gross). The beach was so pretty because you could see the whole castle behind you. It was lined with restaurants and shops which also made it super cute. We grabbed a drink at one of the restaurants before we headed back to the station and we also did some shopping on our way back.
On the train ride back to Valencia, CC said she was so happy we chose to do Alicante over Madrid!!

Our schedule
7:17-9:08am: train ride to Alicante
10:52am: purchased our metropolitano ticket 
11:11am-12:04pm: hiking up the mountain while stopping to take pictures
12:04pm: arrived at the entrance of the castle
12:04-1:04pm: kept walking towards the top of the castle 
1:04pm: made it to the top of the castle
1:45pm-2:15pm: walked back down
2:15-2:45pm: made our way to the beach
2:45-4:05pm: beach
4:05-5:00pm: ate
5:00-7:15pm: walk back to the station while doing some shopping on the way
7:15pm: at the train station waiting to board the train

Soooo, between the Santa Bárbara Castle, Mediterranean coast, Greece knock-off and good shopping,  Alicante is definitely worth a day trip!

^^^ the best beer I have ever had **highly recommend trying

Outfit details:
Target Active Long Sleeve (similar), F21 LeggingsNike SneakersRay-Ban Sunglasses, Swimsuit purchased from a boutique in Spain (similar pattern, similar style here & here), Francesca's Cover Up (similar here & here)
xo, brittany

Monday, June 27, 2016

Plaza del Ayuntamiento

Plaza del Ayuntamiento 
This plaza was my favorite plaza in Valencia. From the moment we saw it to every other moment we passed it, I had to stop for a couple of seconds to admire everything and take it all in. In the center of the plaza, there is a fountain with flower shops bordering it and office buildings and fast-food restaurants surrounding it. There is a Taco Bell directly across from the fountain that serves beer and has happy hour... really what more could you ask for!?! This plaza is home to Valencia's City Hall and the central post office (both of which are worth taking a peek inside). It is also a short distance to the train station (Estació del Nord) and the city's bullring (Plaza de Toros de Valencia). 
Plaza de Toros de Valencia
When I found out I was going to Spain, the first thing that came to mind was, "Omg I wanna go to a bullfight!" I thought back to America's Next Top Model (cycle 7) when the models did a photoshoot at the bullring in Barcelona, Spain. However, I was unaware that they actually kill the bulls during the 'show.' As much as I wanted to witness a bullfight in Spain and to see the interior of the ring, I do not think I would have been able to make it through the whole show knowing the bulls were going to be killed. Abby and CC did not want to go either so it made my decision not to go easier. Approximately 5-6 bulls get killed during a show. I realized bullfighting is very controversial in Valencia, some want to go and enjoy it and others stand outside protesting (kind of reminds me of a circus in America- although they do not actually kill the elephants during the show). The exterior of the ring was everything I imagined a bullring to look like! They also host concerts and other types of shows inside the ring. 
Estació del Nord
In Europe, train stations are extremely popular because it is usually how most people travel. I've never been inside a train station in America or in Europe so I was really excited to visit one for the first time. When I walked in, I felt like it was something out of a movie. The walls, ceilings and even the floor, had exquisite detailing. There were a couple little shops and bakeries inside which were nice when we had some time to spare. It is hard for me to compare this train station to others because it is only one of two that I've ever been in, but I feel like this could be one of my favorites. The second train station I went to was in Alicante when we took a train there for a day trip. The station in Alicante was no where near as detailed as Estació del Nord.

^^^ Plaza de Toros de Valencia

F21 Coat (similarvest version), Splendid Long Sleeve TeeF21 JeansAdidas Sneakers, Bag purchased in Spain (perfect dupe for the Céline Trapeze Bag, Belt purchased in Spain (similar only $12!!)
xo, brit

Thursday, June 16, 2016

The City of Arts and Sciences

On our fifth and sixth day, we decided to take a double-decker bus tour to see the whole city and I am so happy we did this! The first stop was in Plaza de la Reina which was convenient because it was only a 4 minute walk from our hotel. The bus pass is 17,00€ for 24 hours or 19,00€ for 48 hours and you can hop on and off anytime. We decided to do the 48 hour bus pass because we didn't get on till late in the afternoon. They offer 2 different 90 minute tours, Route A "Historical Valencia" which has 8 bus stops and Route B "Valencia Maritime" which has 9 bus stops. We did Route A the first day and Route B the second day. To be honest, I did not like Route A as much as Route B. If time is limited, I would only suggest doing Route B. The only thing that interested me in Route A was the Bioparc, which is Valencia's zoo.
Some of Route B's destinations include:
 -The City of Arts and Sciences (Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias)
-L'Oceanografico (Europe's Largest Aquarium)
-Aqua Mall (Centro Comercial Aqua)
-Las Arenas Beach (Playa de las Arenas)
-Museum of Fine Arts (Museo de Bellas Artes)
We decided we really wanted to do The City of Arts and Sciences (CAC) and the Oceanographic because this is one of Valencia's most popular sites.
First of all, The City of Arts and Sciences consists of the Oceanogràphic, the Hemisfèric, Príncipe Felipe Science Museum, Palau de les Arts (an opera house), the Umbracle, the Ágora (not open to the public), and the Asset D'or Bridge. 
We hopped off the bus at the third stop, which was the CAC, by the opera house so we went there first. Neither of us had any clue that it was an opera house so when we walked in they directed us to the science museum. If you don't love science or museums then I would suggest to skip this. Abby and I were so bored walking around in it. We wish we would have skipped this and saved that time for the aquarium. The aquarium was about a 15-20 minute walk from the Opera house. I believe it was 36,00€ for both the museum and aquarium. When we got to the aquarium, we realized we only had a little less than two hours left before our pickup time. We did not know it was Europe's largest aquarium until we arrived which made it even cooler to be there! 
The aquarium has nine underwater towers, three restaurants (one being underwater) and the park is split into ten areas. One of the areas is a dolphinarium that has a total of five pools. I wish we would have had more time there to view a dolphin show or eat at the underwater restaurant. 
We gave ourselves 30 minutes to exit and find the bus stop so we wouldn't miss it.... but we almost did. We couldn't find the bus stop (we looked for like one second) so I told Abby that we should just start walking to the first stop that we got off at since we knew where it was. As we were walking, we realized we only had like 10 minutes until pick-up and we were pretty far so we started running... yes, we were actually full-on running (just try to picture that for a second, lol)!! As we got closer, we started getting out of breath so we slowed down and realized pick-up time was in like 1 minute so we started running again. We made it as soon as the bus got there. Once we got on the bus, the next stop was the aquarium where we realized that the bus stop was literally right where we were standing looking for it. 
***Soooo, if you ever take a tour bus that has multiple stops that allows you to hop on and off, the first thing you should do is locate the correct bus stops and know exactly where they are before you begin adventuring. 
As we were finishing up the tour and passing the other stops, we were drooling over Las Arenas Beach. We both wish we would have had time to get off there and explore that part of town. It looked like a cute, little beach town with a marina and you could see the mountains way off in the distance. 
Depending on your preference of what you want to explore and how long you want to explore, these routes are totally versatile. At a minimum, you will be on the tour for 90 minutes but you could easily turn it into a day-long thing if you want to stop at every stop! 
I would highly recommend taking a bus tour anywhere you visit, if they offer it.

^^^ Opera house

^^^ the Ágora

^^^ Opera house & the Hemisfèric

^^^ (left to right) Hemisfèric, Príncipe Felipe Science Museum, Asset D'or Bridge and the Ágora

^^^ inside the science museum

^^^ my favorite part, FLAMINGOS!!

^^^ 1 of the 9 underwater towers

^^^ Aqua mall (taken from bus)

Coat purchased in Spain (similar), Pull & Bear TeePull & Bear Jeans, Nikes, Bag purchased in Spain (perfect dupe for the Céline Trapeze Bag), Miu Miu SunniesASOS Belt

As you can tell from my last two posts that I repeated the basics, like my jeans and shoes, and just switched up my coats. I mostly packed shorts and short-sleeve tops and planned all my outfits around my shorts but when we got there, we realized we would not be able to wear anything other than jeans and a coat (the weather was about 50 degrees + constant wind). I'm so glad there was ample shopping for me to purchase a couple pairs of jeans and coats!
On another note, I am so excited for this weekend. I am done with summer classes so my mom is driving up today to help me pack up my apartment and then I am heading home for the rest of the summer!!
Thanks for stopping by!
xo, brittany

Funny story! When Abby and I got on the tour bus, they handed us headphones to hear the tour guide. When it started, we realized it was obviously in Spanish and we couldn't understand anything the guide was saying so we just took out the headphones and started guessing what all the monuments were. When we told CC that the tour guide wasn't much help because we did not understand what they were saying, she said, "Ya'll know there are eight different languages to choose from, thats why there are buttons where you put the headphones in...?!?" Abby and I could not stop laughing for a good ten minutes because of how dumb we were. We were glad we realized that for Route B the next day, though!! 

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Shopping in Spain

Shopping in Spain was one of my favorite things that we did. I loved walking down the beautiful streets of Valencia, finding cute little shops and boutiques. There was so much shopping that I was actually overwhelmed!! I was kinda nervous that using Euros would be confusing but it wasn't at all. They don't have single bills, so instead they give you 2,00€ and 1,00€ in coins. The prices were easy to understand because 2,00€ was equivalent to 2.26USD so you didn't have much to calculate.
Our friend, CC, who was studying abroad in Valencia told us that everything was dirt cheap and that we could get a full outfit for like 25,00€ (which would be about $25.00) so I super excited about that, only to find out that their prices were pretty close to American stores, if not more. I showed CC a purse I purchased for 100,00€ and she said "you are not shopping at the cheap stores that's why!!!" so maybe if Abby and I shopped at the cheaper stores, then we could have bought a whole outfit for 25,00€...! Abby and I underestimated how much shopping we were actually going to do because we did not leave much spare room in our suitcases (on our way back, mine was actually over 50lbs)! 
On our second and fifth day, we shopped pretty much the whole day. The central area for shopping reminded me so much of New York City.  Pull&Bear was one of my favorite shops. It reminded me of Brandy Melville mixed with Pacsun. Another favorite was Mulaya (pictured above). It was like Forever21 mixed with Zara. They had Miu Miu, Celine and Prada sunglass dupes for 4,00€ (Abby bought 2 Miu Miu dupes and I bought a Prada and a Celine dupe)! There was also a huge mall called El Corte Inglés. The one we went into either had 7 or 9 floors!! I wish I took a picture of the inside because it was so pretty and so nice. It was similar to a Nordstrom or Bloomingdales where they had affordable and high end things.

^^^ Standing in front of Torres de Serranos

F21 CoatPull & Bear Jeans, Nikes, Bag from Spain (perfect dupe for the Céline Trapeze Bag), Ray-Ban Sunnies

Quick brag about this coat! I love the collar and that there are no buttons showing. I usually don't like the way collars look on me so I was skeptical to try it on but I was so surprised. When packing for this trip, I knew I needed to pack lots of good walking shoes and less sandals. These are my favorite Nikes I own. They are SO comfortable & lightweight and I love the all white look. If you are looking to purchase a new pair of Nikes, I highly recommend these!! 
** all these photos were taken with my iPhone6
Thanks for stopping by!
xo, brittany.