Today’s fun highlights:
- Loft: 30% off all dresses, cardigans, and and accessories, plus an extra 50% off all sale items (no code needed)!
- Ann Taylor: 30% off dresses, skirts, and more with code WEARNOW (and an extra 40% off sale items!
- J.Crew: 25% off tees, shorts, swim, sunglasses, and more with code HELLOSUMMER (though it is definitely NOT summer here!)!
- J.Crew Factory: Up to 60% off everything (prices as marked)!
- Old Navy: 30% off all adult sizes (today only) and all dresses, tops, and pants are on additional markdowns!
- Gap: 40% off your purchase (they’ve been doing these a ton recently) with code YOURS and an extra 10% off for cardholders with code PERK!
- Target: Get 20% off all Merona items (aka my favorite Target brand) with code MERONA20!
Happy weekend, friends! What are you up to?
Another trip, another packing guide for you guys! This time…what to pack for the great state of Texas…in the winter time (though to be honest, we had weather mostly in the 70-80 degrees).
In case you’ve missed prior ones, feel free to click through the archives below to find some packing ideas/inspiration!
What To Pack: Hawaii Edition – What to Pack: Cruise Edition – What to Pack: Europe Edition (2015)
What to Pack: Florida – What to Pack: Europe Edition (2016)
Full disclosure: there are of a lot of other style bloggers who do “What to Pack” guides. Only they’re normally they’re checking a bag…and I don’t/didn’t.
This might have been the most simple of all my packing guides, but it was also one of the easiest to utilize. I knew what I wanted to wear every day and had a ton basics to utilize. I sometimes wish I was one of those bloggers who thinks of travel “theme” outfits, but I’m definitely not. I like to explore and squeeze in as much adventure as I can while traveling, so my favorite pieces and versatile basics are always what I build my suitcase around.
Plus, I’m notorious for forgetting to take outfit photos while on vacation (guilty AGAIN), so why waste that valuable carry-on space for something you won’t wear again? I guarantee that all these items can fit into a regulation sized carry-on suitcase, your personal item (use a backpack/tote and put your purse inside it along with your in-flight entertainment items), and what you end up wearing on the plane.
Super great right? Feel free to send me the $20-50 you save on checked bag fees. ;)
- Black Tee: Casual and cool and works with everything (jeans, patterned shorts/skirts, etc.). Enough said!
- Gray Tee: Equally casual and cool.
- Stripe Tee: You know I love me some stripes and definitely can’t last six days without them. Wear it with….everything.
- Patterned Tee: Perfect for days when you don’t want to wear solid colors.
- Jeans: I would wear these onto the plane (takes up less room that way!). You choose the rinse and wear them with everything, duh! ;)
- Black Dress: I almost embarrassed to admit how much I wore this on this trip. We were only there for 6 full days, so I’ll let you wager your own guesses as to how much I wore this bad boy.
- Print Shorts: Because you got to have a little print in your life to keep it interesting!
- Denim Skirt: When you can go bare legged in February, you do.
- Stripe Dress: Because more stripes is never an issue.
- Cardigan/Blazer: I wore my new favorite cardigan-blazer on the plane and after the sun went down, and it was so cozy and comfy. Plus, I got a billion compliments. #win
- Jean Jacket: A great light layer piece…ideal when the temperatures drop at night or the air-conditioning is blasting.
- Flat Sandals: When it’s practically summer weather, you wear sandals. And you wear flat ones, because you’re walking around all-day and don’t have a personal driver, because you’re not a Kardashian. ;)
- Crossbody Purse: Hands-free traveling is the best kind. This purse looks super roomy and is affordable! It easily holds a wallet, tickets, sunglasses, camera, and a small bottle of water, which is exactly what I need it to hold and no more!
- Ballet Flats: Bring your most comfy flats, because if you’re sightseeing, you’re going to be on your feet.
So that’s it for my “winter” in Texas packing guide. Obviously, you’ll need accessories, undergarments, toiletries, books/magazines/Kindles/iPads, etc., but that’s more specific to each person!
Is there anything you would add or subtract from my list?
Our last (and favorite) stop of our European trip was the city of Prague in the Czech Republic. This is the furthest we have ever been away from home, but it felt like the most home-like of all the cities. It could be that we stayed in an Airbnb that was very nice and felt like we had an apartment in the heart of the city. We loved our three full days there, learning more about a country and city that we didn’t have a lot of knowledge about and experiencing a culture that we had never been introduced to!
Prague, you’re a gem! Never change…except for maybe those cold temperatures…maybe we can talk about that! ;)
Top Ten Things to Do in Prague (in the order we did them):
- Drink a Liter (of Beer) – Prague loooooves their beer (or pivo as they call it). Our guidebook said that the restaurants might even bring you a liter of beer before you even order anything (even water)! We never experienced this, but did experience tons and tons of beer. The Husband approves…while I enjoyed some alcoholic cider (which they always serve with ice cubes…and I didn’t mind at all)!
- Walk Along Charles Bridge – We did this during the day and at night for very different experiences. It’s one of the most iconic, most beautiful spots in Prague. It’s lined with 30 statues and offers some of the best views of the Vltava River. A must see!
- Taste a Trdelník – Essentially an elephant ear cooked over an open fire! But since you’re eating it in a foreign country, it’s exotic and beyond delicious! ;) I prefer them plain, but you can dress them up with chocolate or apple pie filling or ice cream (or all three if you want).
- Meander Your Way Through Old and New Quarters – Rick Steves is our go-to guy for all of our European trips, and he has a great walking guide for all of Prague, but especially these two quarters. We got to see famous churches, an ancient astrological clock (way ahead of its time…pun intended), historical sites and buildings, and hidden shops and restaurants. When in doubt, Rick Steves should be your first choice while in Europe! Also, we stumbled upon the cutest pancake cafe, Den Noc (that turns into a wine bar at night), for brunch, and I had the best pancakes of my life. They were peanut butter and jelly flavored…and they might be worth the flight to Prague alone!
- Bus It Up to Prague Castle – And then hike back down. The entrance fee and line were definitely worth it for this one! Prague Castle is roughly the size of seven football fields and is the largest ancient castle in the world. The complex includes gardens, palaces/royal residences, churches, etc. You could spend the whole day just touring St. Vitus Cathedral, but make sure to leave some time for the great views of Prague City on your way out of the castle.
- Eat a Traditional Czech Meal – Goulash (but not like we have here in America), schnitzel, dumplings, bratwursts, and hearty stews. Prague has them all, and they are all warm and comforting. Pair them with a beer/pivo, and you’ll be full enough to fuel yourself for all the walking you’ll do around the city!
- Take In the View From Petrin Hill – We didn’t quite make it up here, but I heard the view is beautiful. We instead took the view in from the Strahov Monastic Brewery, because you can see the city, Prague City, and the Eiffel Tower-like structure on the top of Petrin Hill. Oh, and The Husband got to enjoy the monks’ brewed beer. But either way, be sure to get out of the city to see how pretty the city actually is!
- Appreciate the History – Prague has been through a lot (and under a lot of different ruling bodies), which I didn’t know before being actually in the city and reading up on its history. Until 1989 (within my lifetime, folks!), Prague was still under Communist rule! It’s nice to know the history of a place (without have to memorize dates and people) to appreciate what it’s been through and where it plans to go.
- Walk Through the Jewish Quarter – The Jewish Quarter in Prague is one of the best preserved of nearly all the European Jewish quarters despite going through significant hardship. It features six synagogues, a Jewish Town Hall, a cemetery, and a lengthy and tragic history all to itself. Persecution of the Jewish people here, unfortunately, started as early as the 11th century and continued up to the end of the World War II. Today, this area is a testament to the lives lost here (and elsewhere) and to the culture and perseverance that remains. It’s a sombering spot to visit, but nonetheless, very very very important.
- See the Dancing House – This building, you guys (see it below on the right)! It was designed by the famous Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry and Czach architect Vlado Milunić and was originally referred to as Fred and Ginger (after the American dancing pair). It’s the cutest building ever and worth the 15 minute walk to it, since it is outside the main part of the city. A cutesy end to a very memorable trip!
And that’s a wrap on our 2016 European travels! I hope you guys enjoy these travel diary posts. Lord knows that they ALWAYS get me itching to pack my suitcase and book another plane ticket!
Luckily, The Husband and I are lucky enough to have some good travels plans in 2017, so there will be more to come then! :)
For our next stop, we boarded a tiny plane for the 34-minute flight from Lisbon to Seville to start our Spanish adventure. We spent two days in Seville, one day in Granada, and one day in Barcelona.
Like its friend to the west (aka Portugal), Spain was experiencing warmer than average European fall temperatures, so my two warmer weather bottoms were getting a workout! I finally got creative with my favorite black dress (that was also getting a lot of wear) to style it as a skirt to give me some additional options! Knot a tee over top and grab some sneakers, and you have a whole new look!
And now that I’ve covered what to wear…let’s get to the good stuff, aka what to do/see!
Top Ten Things to Do in Barcelona/Seville/Spain (in the order we did them):
- See the Seville Cathedral – We had a gorgeous view of the cathedral from our AirBnb location, so as soon as we dropped our bags off, we decided to walk to it as our first Seville sightseeing spot (say that 5 times fast). It’s the third largest church in the world (behind St. Peter’s in Vatican City and one in Brazil), and it’s a beauty. You can tour the inside, but the lines are so long, so we took our time exploring the outside. Absolutely lovely, probably because it was built to showcase the city’s wealth!
- Get Lost in the Winding Streets of Seville – Seville is very very very walkable, but it’s basically a maze of streets! Some of them are so narrow that taxis can’t even drive down. So it is another one of those places where you bring your walking shoes and give yourself some extra time to get lost! We managed to wander our way through the whole city, including stops at the Bullfighting Museum and the Tower of Gold (Torre del Oro).
- Stop for Tapas – Some call them snacks, others call them appetizers. I call them a whole Spanish meal! The best way to enjoy tapas is to order a whole bunch and share them with your fellow travelers. The Husband’s favorite was a lamb in curry sauce, and my favorite was probably the pork with a whiskey sauce, but we tried all sorts of things. Pair it with a glass of Cruzcampo Radler (basically lemon soda plus beer), and you’ve got my ideal meal!
- Enjoy a Flamenco Show – We booked tickets for a flamenco show just to take in a huge part of the Sevillian culture. While our show wasn’t the best, we heard great things about the expert show at the Flamenco Museum. The music, the moves, and the dresses all combine for a great show of Spanish culture.
- Take in the Views from the Plaza de Espana – Oh my gosh. Definitely my favorite spot in all of Seville, but unfortunately, we only had time to visit it at night. Rookie mistake. It was built in 1929 as part of the Ibero-American Exposition World’s Fair, and it is certainly elaborate. There is a canal through the middle of it that people can rent rowboats on, and it is also great for people watching.
- Visit the Alhambra – Deemed one of the most gorgeous spots in the world, we made a long day trip to the palace/fortress of the Alhambra in Granada. If you liked the tile of Lisbon, you would be amazed at all the tile and intricate carvings in the Alhambra. We had a guided tour as part of our trip, and it was amazing to hear about the history of the place and then be able to explore the gardens on our own.
- Tour the Inside of Sagrada Familia – We had previously visited Barcelona in 2013, but made the mistake of only seeing the outside of the Sagrada Familia and not going into the church. Another rookie mistake. This time around, we made sure to book our tickets in advance and really enjoyed our time exploring Antoni Gaudi’s masterpiece. The crazy part of this church is that they have been building it for over 100 years, and it is still not complete! They’ve added on a few things since our last visit, and they still have to add 6 towers and a ton of exterior decorations, so it still has a long way to go. You can read more about the church online, but this church was to be Gaudi’s tribute to his faith and God, so he wanted it to be elaborate and perfect, and it most certainly is close to that!
- Try Spanish Apple Pie – Go to Granja M. Viader, get a cappuccino and a slice of apple cake (pastel de manzana), and thank me later! Delicious treat or breakfast during your day!
- Walk La Rambla – Start at Plaça Catalunya and meander your way down the street to the statue of Christopher Columbus that looks out on the Mediterranean Sea. There are tons of shops, restaurants, and historical sites along the way, so just take your time and try some sangria along the way. My new discovery this time was a little shop called Friday’s Project, which is basically a Spanish Madewell! Yes, please!
- Visit La Boqueria Food Market Off of La Rambla – One of my favorite things to do in Barcelona is to visit the market and buy a fruit juice for 1 or 2 euros. You can try an old-standby flavor (strawberry-banana) or try a juicy (pun intended) new combination (kiwi-passion fruit). But beyond the juices, you can find everything that you need at this market. Fresh fish, vegetables, fruits, pastries, bread, sausages, cheese, etc.
After our Spanish adventures, we headed for our final European destination (you know, until next time)…which was Prague! I’ll have more on that next week for my last Europe travel guide from this particular trip!
Our next stop was Lisbon in Portugal. We had no idea what to expect from our trip, since we only know a handful of people who have been to Portugal, but what we didn’t really expect was 80+ degrees of summer temperatures in October!
Despite the heat, we really enjoyed all of the sights, sweets, and tile of Lisbon! It’s slowly becoming a more popular European travel destination, but still has a non-touristy feel!
Top Ten Things to Do in Lisbon/Portugal (in the order we did them):
- Explore Faster Via a Hop-On/Hop-Off Bus -This is always been my best recommendation in most European cities…the dreaded “tourist” hop-on/hop-off bus. Yes, you look like a tourist on your giant double-decker bus, but isn’t that what we all are when we visit a new/foreign city? These tours help you see the best sites (with some fun facts thrown in) in the city that you are in…and you’ll get there quickly! In Lisbon, the bus will take you out to Belém, which is difficult to get to on your own!
- Sample a Pastel del Nata – The tastiest little egg custard pastries (see them in one of my snapshots above) that are basically the national dessert/treat of choice. The best ones (in my opinion) are in Belém, but you can find them everywhere! Best enjoyed warmed with a cappuccino!
- Find All the Tile You Can – This should be pretty easy to do, since there are little touches of tile all throughout the city! It’s all over the walls and covering the sidewalks and streets. Apparently, it is super costly to repair when on the ground, and the city has expressed interest in slowly getting rid of it, but the residents just won’t let it go (which I greatly appreciate)!
- Take in a Sunset from a Rooftop Bar – A lot of people recommended Park, but I actually prefered the views from Hotel Mundial (though they were both beautiful). Good people, great sangria, and even greater views at sunset!
- Try Something Outside of Your Comfort Zone (Foodwise) – Maybe it is octopus salad? Maybe it is cuttlefish stew? Or maybe it is a pastry that you have no idea what is inside of it, because you can’t read Portuguese. Just try it! Worse case scenario? You won’t like it…and you can use your Euros to buy something else!
- Hike Up to São Jorge Castle – Lisbon is a lot like San Francisco (hills galore, trolleys, and a Golden Gate-esque bridge), so bring some comfortable walking shoes and hike up some stairs and inclined roads to a Moorish-style castle and gorgeous views of the city.
- Explore the Three Neighborhoods – We like our Rick Steves walking tours (no matter what European country we’re in), and he took us through the three neighborhoods (Rossio, Alfama, and Bairro Alto), each which has its own hidden gems. Lisbon is a great walking city, so if you ever visit, be sure to wind your ways through the hidden alleys/streets.
- Listen to Some Fado – The sad and longing musical styling of Portugal. Most commonly, these songs are about the sea or losing someone or something to the sea. We had dinner in a fado restaurant and enjoyed having our seafood with a side of fado songs!
- Day Trip It to Sintra – Sintra is a town that is about a 40-minute train ride outside of Lisbon. It has roughly 20 different sites to visit and is definitely worth a day trip (if not even more time)!
- Pena Palace – Worth a mention of its own, since it is THE palace (and place) to visit in Sintra (even though the Moorish castle is great too). It was built by the cousin of King Ludwig II (who built Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany), and it basically a Disney castle come to life (see it in the picture directly below). Crazy bright primary colors with tile and carving all over the place! And beyond the castle, the views from the top are great too, and the garden/grounds are gorgeous!
Our next stop (to be posted next Monday) will be Spain (both Seville and Barcelona)!