Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Christmas Markets: Strasbourg, Kaysersberg and Coleman France

Just because I was in France for Thanksgiving doesn’t mean I didn’t get to celebrate it!
We had a big Wake Forest dinner in Dijon at a nice restaurant. We were served turkey and all the normal Thanksgiving fixings. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the same as Thanksgiving at home. It was actually the least amount of food I have ever eaten on Thanksgiving. It was sad not being home in the states for our annual turkey feast. I really miss my family, but especially on Thanksgiving. I had to go to class, but I was able to watch a bit of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade via live-stream.

The next morning, we went on our last excursion with our Wake Forest Dijon group to Strasbourg, France.
A very nice but bitter sweet end to our voyages in France.

We arrived Friday afternoon and immediately went on a boat tour through the canals. We learned a bit about the history of the city and how it was disputed between Germany and France during the Second World War.
The main reason that we visited Strasbourg was for the Christmas markets! It is the “capital de noel”!
The Christmas markets were beautiful and really put me and my friends in the Christmas spirit!
We bought some ornaments and other little decorations to bring home to the states!

We had a very Alsace-ian dinner at Gurtlerhoft, with sauerkraut and sausages galore!
It was a delicious dinner that we finished off the night with a little singing at a karaoke bar.
After all my years of theater, I sure did put on a show for everyone, and it felt so good to be performing again!

The next morning, we had a guided tour of the cathedral, and then continued to explore the Christmas markets all day.

We drank hot cider, hot wine and tried not to freeze.
Each little booth or chalet was selling different things: food, wine, soap, ornaments, decorations, jewelry, art, and etc.

H&M gray wool turtleneck | American Eagle burgundy jeggings | navy blue beret bought in Strasbourg

We walked about 15,000 steps.
We dined at À la Tête de Lard where I had a large helping of cordon bleu.
By the end of the night my feet were screaming but I wanted to return to the big Christmas tree and see it all lit up!

Strasbourg was beautiful, and it really proved to be the capital of the Christmas!

Sunday, we left Strasbourg and made our way home. We stopped in Kaysersberg for lunch and Colemar for some more Christmas shopping.

I would highly recommend going to Christmas markets in Europe!
They are so cheerful and happy! I love Christmas and I am so excited to be going home for Christmas especially since I didn’t get to celebrate Thanksgiving with my family this year. I know Christmas is going to be an ever-bigger celebration when I get home! The markets really put me in the Christmas spirit! I can’t wait to see my family and decorate our tree with all the new decorations I bought this weekend!
The Christmas season has officially started!!



Friday, November 23, 2018

Two Days in Venice, Italy

Back in the motherland!
I love Italy. I spent 10 days here this past summer (click HERE to read my three Italy blog posts) and fell in love with the beautiful country.
I was so excited to return, and I am so glad I did.

Venice is the most magical place I have ever been to.
It was a beautiful city that I loved getting lost in.
We saw the major sites, ate the pasta, drank the wine and just wandered.
We had so much fun getting lost and just exploring this tiny city on the sea.

We got in Thursday night to Venice, took the 8 € airport shuttle to the island and used trusty Google Maps to find our beautiful hotel, Hotel Carlton Capri Venice.
3-star hotel, very close to the bus stop, but even closer to the Grand Canal.

Venice is a walking city. There are no cars, only boats and most people don’t even use the boats, they just walk, which is exactly what we did. We walked and walked for miles.
Unfortunately, City Mapper, my trusty friend for directions in cities does not work, but Google Maps works perfectly well.

Wake Forest University owns 4 properties all over the world. Venice happens to be one of the locations. The Venice Campus is right on the Grand Canal. The windows open up onto the canal and all you can see is the beautiful sea foam green water, the boats and the gondolas. It is a stunning property that we visited on Friday. Every semester they have a Wake Forest study abroad program there, and lucky for me, one of my sorority sisters and great friend is studying there and happened to be in town for the weekend.

Thursday night after checking in, we went and met up for drinks with some fellow Deacs. There are no clubs on the tiny island, only lively bars. It’s so fun because all the bars are outside. So, you take your drink and go sit on a bridge and surround yourself with the other college students.

Friday morning, we had breakfast at the hotel, included in our booking, and started to wander.

We had a list of the sites we wanted to see. So, we started nocking those off the list with the help of Google Maps of course. I have a very good sense of direction but even I was really getting lost without the help of a map.

Mango navy blue sweater | American Eagle burgundy high waisted jeggings | Tory Burch double pearl earrings | Tory Burch gold logo bangle (similar) | Sperry classic boat shoes

We stumbled upon some beautiful churches and some beautiful bridges:
the Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari Church and the Centro Storico di Venezia. 

After exploring we went to the Wake Forest house and met up with our classmates. The house is huge, and they are living the life in beautiful Venice!

We grabbed lunch with our friends and then headed to Trattoria alla Madonna, a very nice restaurant that our concierge recommended for dinner.

Crab, pasta and a bottle of prosecco later, we were feeling lively!

Our waiter was super nice, and we were chatting. He asked me where I was from, I replied New York, he said no originally, I said Italy. He responded with “ah yes that makes sense, I can tell because of your nose...” My big Italian nose. Lucky me.

We met up with our friends again for more drinks and got to see how the Italians really party on a Friday night.

Saturday morning, we saw the main attractions: Saint Marc’s Basilica, Plazzo Ducale and the main square outside the palace and the basilica, that was flooded a couple of weeks ago.

I did a lot of shopping on Saturday. My debit card is crying but I love Italian leather. I can’t get enough of it. Quite possibly the best leather in the world.

I also haven’t been shopping in months. The last time I bought a sweater was in October and since then I have been saving all my money for travel. But when I was in Venice I couldn’t help myself. I bought some beautiful leather gloves, a silk scarf, and a bag strap for myself and some gifts for Christmas.

I am actually having shopping withdrawals. When I get back home I will be making a large purchase on
I have been wearing the same 10 shirts this whole semester and I have realized that I don’t really need a lot of clothes to make a lot of really cute outfits, but I miss being able to have a ton of options! But I will be writing a blog post all about my capsule collection that I created and brought with me to France when I return to the states.

In between sight-seeing and shopping we went for lunch at this 2/10-star restaurant. We tried to go off the beaten path and find a non-tourist restaurant, but it didn’t really work. The food was bad and all I wanted was another amazing Italian meal. I have to say that the food in Venice was not as good as the food in Florence or Rome or Tuscany. Very disappointing.

But I should’ve known that that restaurant was going to be bad because it didn’t have a Trip Advisor sticker on the door. I swear by Trip Advisor and will now only strictly go where there is a Trip Advisor sticker on the window.

After watching the sunset, we stumbled upon this amazing restaurant for dinner, La Patatina, and knew it was going to be good because it had the Trip Advisor seal! It was delicious and a bit messy. I ordered lobster pasta and I was delivered a full cooked lobster on a bed of pasta sans tools.

It was a tad messy because I was trying to figure out how Italians eat lobster without any tools. I also just assumed the lobster would already be taken out of the shell, so another fault of mine.
After some serious struggling, good thing I wasn’t on a first date, I finally received the proper devices for eating my lobster.
All in all, another amazing dinner.

There was plenty to see in Venice, but not too much, so it was perfect destination for a weekend trip. We just loved walking around and getting lost. A beautiful city that I am so glad I got to visit with such amazing people!

Now onto the next trip! 
Only 3 more weeks in Europe for me, but 4 more cities to explore!

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