All posts filed under: Traveling

The Color of London in Notting Hill

My favorite place in London is, without a doubt, Notting Hill. It’s not just because I have been hoping to run into Hugh Grant for years (movie Hugh Grant not real life Hugh Grant)…though that wouldn’t be an awful turn of events. Notting Hill is filled with colorful houses reminiscent of Rue Crémieux in Paris (though it is much more crowded), with streets of creamy white houses thrown in for good measure. Every Saturday on Portobello Road, there is a huge market, with everything from antique jewelry and china to clothes to fresh produce. As the cold sinks in, several vendors take advantage and ladle out cups of mulled wine for shoppers. The market is always crowded and it takes a discerning eye to see what’s authentic and what’s a ploy for tourists. The last time I went to the market, I was overwhelmed by crowds and despite my searching, found nothing that really caught my eye (that, however, didn’t stop me from leaving with armfuls of scarves and dresses). This time was much more …

Italia V: Water, Water Everywhere

After Rome, Florence, and Cinque Terre, I was tired. I was so ready to just relax and have a spritz – the traditional aperitif of Venice – and watch the boats drift up and down the river. And that, friends, is exactly what I did (but not before crying while crossing the bridge into Venice because I had made it before it sunk). Venice let me decompress, see Lala, who lives nearby, and take a ton of pictures. And get lost. You’re probably thinking, “stop talking about getting lost. we already know you can’t follow maps or compasses or directions.” But there is no better – or easier – place I have found in the world to get lost than Venice. Everything requires crossing at least ten bridges, and Google Maps doesn’t work. Let that sink in. As a result, I almost walked into the river (once), walked in many, many circles, and crossed the same bridges multiple times hoping to find something that looked like anything familiar. Walking through the back street of Venice …

Italia IV: Hiking Along the Italian Riviera

In second grade, my teacher gave us an assignment to write a postcard to someone – “Wish you were here!” We could describe or invent any location we wanted, imaginary or real. I think mine was sent from the inside of a waterfall or somewhere else where mermaids might be found. If only I had known then that Cinque Terre existed – I would have wished for all of you to be there. Only three words were necessary to make me want to go to Cinque Terre: limoncino, Mediterranean, gelato. Or maybe gelato, limoncino, gelato. Tough choice, but worth it quand même. Cinque Terre is at the north west coast of Italy on the Mediterranean, only about two hours from Nice. Though it is possible to navigate the five (cinque) lands (terre) alone, I highly, highly recommend doing it with a tour if you are only there for a day. My friend Laura recommended a tour she used when she went a few years ago, which just happened to be the number one rated tour on …

Italia III: Caught in the Tuscan Rain

I have a well-tested theory that loving a city in the rain is proof that you really love it, kind of like loving people even when they don’t return your texts automatically. My experiences in Paris, New Orleans, and now, Firenze, all prove this to be true. I knew I loved Firenze the minute I stepped off the train. The train station is still filled with signs in Italian – tabacchi, giornali, banca  – instead of the italicized Helvetica translations on every sign in Rome. My Airbnb host gave me some recommendations, with her primary tip being to just walk around and discover. After my overwhelming experience in Rome, I have never received better advice. Her apartment was in the very cool design neighborhood, so I found myself peering into the workshops, catching glimpses of the life of furniture makers, painters, and jewelry makers. I did what I do best – got lost – up to Ponte Vecchio, where shops are built on the bridge. I walked in awe of the artisanal atmosphere in Florence, stopping every …

Italia II: A Rome-ing Anne Gathers No Moss

Between birthday celebrations and packing for Paris to see Lauren this weekend (!!), editing and sifting through pictures from Italy has been pushed to the side – sorry Italia! I’ll finish eventually je vous promets. My exciting news for this week is that yesterday my I Heart My City: Aix-en-Provence was published by the National Geographic Intelligent Travel blog! Cue tears. But now, cue Roma. Most of my time in Rome was spent with serious vespa separation anxiety. I would see someone riding through the city – looking super chic – thinking, ” Dang it, that could be me.” Dang it, that was me. The best part of Rome, for me, was riding a vespa. The best part of being in Rome was that my sister was there too…because maybe or maybe not I followed her high school trip there. She has grown up before my eyes Skype screen (I left for college when she was ten) but I still take 50 percent credit for how smart, how dedicated, and how caring she is. She’s …

Italia I: To Rome (On a Vespa) With Love

This might sound like the most tourist-y travel post I’ve ever written. I prooomise it’s not (it’s actually really far from it). As you know, I don’t usually do tours. I would rather just wander and get lost and explore (and, in fact, I am quite good at getting lost). However, after talking to Annie at Scooteroma and dreaming of riding through Rome on the back of a vespa, the little Audrey Hepburn inside my head piped up: A vespa is always a good idea. My guide Jacopo was waiting for me in front of my hostel as soon as I arrived in Rome – a most welcome change from airports and transfer buses. A quick lesson on what not to do on a vespa (move quickly, lean over, fall off, etc) and we were off! Many people have asked me if it is hard to learn how to drive a Vespa in Rome. Let’s all take a second to remember that I am absolutely terrified of riding (non-stationary) bikes in Washington, D.C. (and Aix, for that matter) – …

The Orange of Séville

Going through Séville felt like when Leslie Knope sent Ron Swanson on an adventure through Scotland with exact directions for him to follow for him to find everything he will love (RIP). As soon as I booked my flight back in November, I emailed Katie and her best amiga from Spain Sam about everything I should do once I got there. Sam sent me back a detailed list of sights and restaurants, including the must-try dishes at her favorite places. I printed out the email and carried it with me through the city, crossing off restaurants and making notes as I went along. The only thing that would have made it better would have been if they had been there with me…and if I spoke Spanish. Speaking Spanish would have been a big help. “Why didn’t you go to Barcelona or Madrid?” is a question I’ve been asked several times. The easy answer is that I asked Katie what her favorite city in Spain was and she said Séville so I booked my tickets about 20 …

Preview: The Oranges of Séville

When I left Séville this morning, the oranges were being pruned off the trees as the temperature climbed up to 60 degrees. I took my coffee (because in Europe coffee is taken, not “had” or “drank”) along the river on the edge of Triana, with a line of yellow, red, and coral buildings being slightly blocked by more orange trees. I have SO MUCH to share about my trip and can’t wait to tell you all about it – but my suitcases are calling my name once again and I have to go print off my next boarding pass. Ciao for now! ♦

Eating to the Heart of Lyon

Let’s rewind for a second. It’s 2005, and I haven’t quite grasped how to use a hair straightener or bottom eye liner or how to stop my five-year-old brother from running into my sleepovers. I’ve just moved from Maryland to Virginia and am desperately seeking friends. Any friends (and/or kittens…which is half of the reason why my mom now has four cats). Boy, did I get lucky. Remember Katie? I talk about her a lot. She was also new to school that year, also making new friends, and welcomed me into her heart/family. I wedged myself in juuuust enough that none of them could ever get me out. This brings us to this weekend, 2015, nine and a half years (!) since Katie and I met. Katie’s aunt Lala lives in Italy and emailed me asking if I wanted to meet her somewhere for Valentine’s Day weekend. Obviously, yes. We headed off to Lyon for what I think is the definition of the blink of an eye, and ate (and drank) our hearts out…because what else would …