Tag Archives: europe

Prince of Pop

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On June 25th, 2009 I was in Istanbul, Turkey getting ready to leave for Santorini, Greece. And on June 25th, 2009 Michael Jackson died. It was sad to a lot of people, I’m sure. I guess you could say I was a little more than sad. I had tickets to see Michael in London at the O2 that July. I had been waiting to see Michael Jackson in concert since I was 3 years old dancing around the family room, watching his videos on VHS, learning his dances and singing his songs. It was almost like someone in my family had died. I got so many “sorry for your loss” emails from friends and family asking me if I was OK. (I got the same type of sympathy emails when Jimmy Fallon got engaged, but that’s another story entirely.)

So I flew to Greece where I would be on my own for one day before meeting back up with my friend who I had been traveling with. My iPod broke on my trip over and it just so happened that the only 2 songs I had on my iPhone were “Human Nature” and “Butterflies” by Michael Jackson. I listened to those songs on repeat and wallowed in my sadness until I checked into my hostel in Santorini.

I went out to get dinner and when I came back there was an adorable white lab at my doorstep. He was blocking the door and looked like he just needed a friend. How could I say no to a precious puppy all alone on an island? I brought him in and we snuggled all night long listening to “Human Nature” and “Butterflies”. I named him Prince in honor of Michael Jackson. Prince followed me around the whole week I was in Greece.

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Yes, he was a stray dog.
Yes, he gave me fleas.
Yes, it was worth it.

Lasse Lucidor – Gamla Stan, (Old Town) Stockholm, Sweden

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Gamla Stan is cute. There are narrow cobblestone steps that take you through medieval streets and even on a Saturday night at midnight the streets are quiet. The shops have closed and there are only a handful of restaurants and bars still open.

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One restaurant in particular made treated us very kind and stayed open for us: Lasse Lucidor. The bar and restaurant on the ground level was very nice, but it was what was in the basement that made it one of my favorite places. The bar in the basement was in a brick tunnel and to get there you had to walk through caves and kitchens and windy stairs. The name of the bar comes from a Swedish poet Lars Johansson (aka Lasse Lucidor) who was tragically murdered in the basement of a bar in Gamla Stan.

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Since the restaurant had “officially” closed, they weren’t serving food anymore so we ordered some White Russians and chatted with the owner.

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Green Day

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I normally don’t go crazy when it comes to team colors or holiday outfits.. but last year I was on tour in Europe and found out we were going to be in Dublin with a day off on St Patrick’s day. I figured if there was ever a time to go all out, this would be it. Before I left for the tour, I went shopping for a simple but sweet outfit. Green pants, white T and a vintage green velvet blazer. All I needed were green suspenders. I searched everywhere for a pair but found nothing. Finally, a week before I left my friend bought me a pair that he had found. The outfit was complete!

The headlining band was in a bus but the band I was with were traveling by train so to make traveling easier, I kepy my suitcase on the bus with the other band. We toured around for 3 weeks before hitting Dublin, which would be our last stop. Finally, the day arrived. I didn’t sleep the night before, my flight got into Dublin at 9a, I got off the plane and took a bus into the city. The bus driver took me as far into the city as he could go but most of the roads were blocked off due to the holiday parades and events. I walked for like 30 minutes until I got to my hotel. I had to get to the room, shower, get dressed, get in touch with my friends and get drinking. It was 10:30am. When I got to the room I got the worst possible news that someone can get on St Paddy’s Day. The band bus couldn’t get into the city either and would be parked on the outskirts of town until the next day.

My outfit…….was on……the….bus.

All I had to wear was what I was wearing. Black jeans and a black tank top. No vintage green velvet blazer. No green pants. No suspenders. 3 weeks of traveling with that stupid outfit and nothing to show for it.

I found a guy who had on green suspenders at the bar, so I went up and tried to convince him to give them to me. He said no but I got in them anyway so I could have one photo of me wearing green in Dublin on St Patrick’s Day. That guy hated me.

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The last photo I took on my phone from the night was this:

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And the next morning I woke up in a red bath rub.

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The last show of the European tour was the next day in Dublin. We linked back up with the bus so I wore my green outfit, in full, a day late. Everyone made fun of me. About an hour into the day one side of the suspenders broke. I purposefully left my entire outfit behind in the hotel room when I left Ireland.

Kaffibarinn – Reykjavíc, Iceland

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This place is darling. It’s in downtown Reykjavíc which is cute and clean and quiet. I had read reviews saying that this bar could be hard to get into & super crowded. I guess we picked the right night to go because we walked right in and found a table in the corner right away. The place was lit with candles and christmas lights so right off the bat I knew I would like it. We ordered a round of Icelandic beer called Viking (it was awful) and people watched the entire night.

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Reykjavíc is cold and cozy all at the same time. There are little boutique stores, underground coffee shops and tiny bookstores with books stacked to the ceiling. It’s a really charming city – that being said – you only need about a day or two there before you are ready to get back to real life.

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Like A Kid In A Candy Shop

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When I was 7 my mom took my sister and I to London to visit our family over there. I remember having the best time ever. We stayed at The Royal Horseguards Hotel and this guy that worked there would bring us the most delicious hot chocolate every morning served on a silver platter. I remember visiting with my Uncle Johnny who was just the coolest. I remember going over to his apartment and he surprised everyone with a bunch of lottery tickets. We also went with my cousins to Pooh country (I looved Winnie The Pooh) and saw A. A. Milne’s old house that was now owned by The Rolling Stones. Then we went back to the city and I went to a 7 story toy store called Harrods that was stocked to the ceiling of every toy that I had ever wanted in my whole life. It also had every type of chocolate and ice cream and candy imaginable. I was in heaven. I loved London.

My mom also took us to Paris and we went to the Louvre and to Monet’s house and to the Eiffel Tower and all that good stuff, but I was like “Eiffel who? Bring on the Disney store.” The Disney store was two stories (Europe’s largest Disney store in fact) and also stocked full of everything I’d ever wanted.

All in all, I had a great trip.

It wasn’t until about 12 years later that I was able to return to London & Paris, so I had a huge list of things I wanted to do while I was there. One of the first stops was London so I immediately took my friend to Harrods. I walked in wide-eyed and partially drooling because I could already taste the ice cream and cookies. When I stepped in I was immediately taken back by the huge Versace, Louis Vuitton and Prada signs. There were purses and sunglasses and scarves and no stuffed animals whatsoever. I walked up to the salesman in a fit of rage and said “um, where are the toys?” He told me it was on the 4th floor. I went up there thinking they had done some major renovation since I was there last but then realized that I must have just imagined it being bigger than it actually was. I was pretty sad but being that I was 19, I didn’t really need 7 floors of toys to look at.. one would do just fine.

The next day I visited with my Uncle Johnny and we were reminiscing about my last trip. I told him I remembered the lottery tickets he got us. He didn’t quite remember that part but he was getting pretty old so I just figured he’d forgotten. I  hung out with my cousins and they also said they didn’t remember him giving us lottery tickets but that they did actually remember him sorting out a handful of parking tickets that he got while we were there.

I had also realized a few years before this trip that The Rolling Stones didn’t own A.A. Milne’s old house, Brian Jones from the Rolling Stones did, but it was back in the 60’s and it was famous because he was found dead in the swimming pool. I figured I must have tuned that part out when my mom was telling me about it.

I guess as kids we only see things how we want to see them. However even as an adult, I still truly think The Avett Brothers notice me in the crowd and are singing to me every time I go to their shows.. so maybe some things never change.

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image via..

Leake Street – London, England

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Leake Street is a famous tunnel in London that serves as a canvas for graffiti artists and taggers to show their stuff without any trouble. I believe it was made “famous” by Banksy and the first time I went his stuff was all over the tunnel, along with a bunch of other amazing works.

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The last time I went, there wasn’t much art to look at unfortunately. Most of the art had been replaced by a bunch of tags. There were still a few interesting things to look at though and the feel of the place there is just really cool regardless.

When I was there I met a graffiti artist named Milo. He was from Italy and he wrote my name on the wall.

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Büyükada Island- Istanbul, Turkey

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Büyükada is the largest of the Princes’ Islands near Istanbul. It is about an hour ferry ride from Istanbul and costs only 4 Turkish Lira (about $2.25).

The island is still very small (I met a guy there who is the only Math teacher on the entire island) and gives you a feeling that you have traveled back in time. There are no cars allowed on the island, only horse-drawn buggies or bikes. Beautiful Ottoman Era mansions and churches are nestled into the peaks and surrounded by tall trees, white gates and overgrown flowers.

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There are these little areas all over the island that look like they have hidden treasures buried inside them. The hillsides lead you down rickety dirt paths that open up to little rugged beaches.

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Covent Garden – London, England

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All of Covent Garden is adorable: boutique shops, great pubs and even the largest Apple store in the world next to NY’s Grand Central. But the reason why I love it so much is because of Neal’s Yard. Right off of Neal St is a little narrow walkway called Neal’s Yard. It leads to a little courtyard where they have cute cafes, aromatherapy shops and remedy stores.

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It always makes me feel like I am in a storybook. Last time I was there I drank a cappuccino, ate banana cinnamon bread and listened to someone playing the piano for 20 minutes straight.

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Letná Park – Prague, Czech Republic

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I don’t think I’ve ever been more in love with a view than the one from Letná Park (Letenské Sady) in Prague.

Something about it just draws me in. Prague is a magical place to begin with but sitting at this little restaurant, sipping wine and looking out to the Charles Bridge is by far my favorite thing about the city.

I didn’t stumble upon this park by chance, I saw a photo of it somewhere online and I knew it was in Prague but the photo didn’t say where the view was originating from. My friend and I walked around the entire park until we found the exact same spot from where the original photo was taken. We were exhausted from the trek but it was so worth it. I’ll save you the trouble and tell you that the restaurant is called Hanavský Pavilion. You’re welcome.

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La Boqueria Market – Barcelona, Spain

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La Boqueria Market in Barcelona puts all other markets to shame. Whether you are there to shop or just there to look you will have a good time. This place is huge and has every type of fruit/meat/cheese/candy/seafood/spice/bread that you could ever imagine.

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If you are just there to look, you can pick up a fresh fruit smoothie for €2 or eat at one of the many restaurants inside the market. My favorite is Pinotxo Bar right when you walk in to the right.

De-lish seafood. Always fresh.

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