Travel Light | Rome, Italy

28 May 2014

Weather: High 75/ Low 57
Synopsis: Possible rain Saturday and Sunday. Need comfortable clothes and shoes for sightseeing, outfits that abide cathedral guidelines, and maybe a few options for dressier nights.

Afternoon Tea with Team Cigary | The Mandeville Hotel

26 May 2014

I have been dying to go to afternoon tea since I arrived in London back in late September. It's so quintessentially British, how could I not want to partake in the fun! When my friend Kristen gushed about the afternoon tea at The Mandeville Hotel, I knew it was something that Team Cigary and Team Starnes needed to experience together.

Week Thirty-Four

22 May 2014

These past four days flew by just as I knew they would. I LITERALLY JUST wrote my last week's recap on Monday and I am writing this week's recap today (Thursday) because I know without a doubt that it will not get done Sunday or Monday. 

Y'all, one of my best friends and one of my husband's best friends are arriving . . in London . . tomorrow morning at 10:00 AM . . AND I CAN'T HARDLY FIGURE OUT WHAT TO DO WITH MYSELF! Obviously I have lots of cleaning to do, yet I stilllllllll find myself putzing around the flat and leisurely browsing through old facebook pictures from college... le sigh. The good ol' days. 

Like any longtime friendship, we've had our ups and downs and all arounds, but ultimately we have come out stronger and wiser for it, and now, not only are we the bestest of friends, our husbands have developed a bromance unlike any other. It almost overpowers Erika and mine's years of friendship. I love that about us. Couples loving couples. 

I've been doing a lot of shopping for Spring and for our upcoming holiday in Rome (Don't worry, James, it's all returnable!) and just running errands and getting plans made for this weekend.

Monday: I shopped in the morning and then skipped kickboxing because I was still feeling a bit under the weather.

Tuesday: I spent a lot of time on the computer and on the phone knocking things off the task list and coordinating for this weekend. I successfully got the runaround several times throughout the day while trying to coordinate random things here and there, which always puts me in a sour mood. One instance involved an automated system (on an international call, mind you) and the other was with the Islington council. Both a waste of time. 

I also went to vet a place for afternoon tea for EK, Jesse, James and I and, SURPRISE, it was closed. Typical. Then I then proceeded to get on the wrong bus, recognized it immediately and ended up walking the whole way back to Highbury/Islington to take Oliver for a walk. 

Eh. Get it together Tuesday.

Wednesday: More returns, more shopping. It's endless. I had a 2:30 PM hair appointment scheduled in Dalston and I was running a little behind at Oxford Circus, so I had to seriously bust my ass to get there in time. Upon arrival, I knew this wasn't the place for me. Without going into too much detail, when I sat down in the chair and the big burly man told me to talk to him. I said, "I'm looking for really natural highlights. Not chunky, or streaky and I would like for the highlights to start at my scalp." He acted baffled and asked me to explain "natural." He proceeded to tell me that highlights are, in fact, streaks of color, yada yada...  Yeeeeeaaahhhhh . . . So I said, "Thank you! Goodbye!" and parted ways immediately. There were several other comments and incidences that happened in the span of 10 minutes, so I know it was the right decision to leave. (Groupon deal... Go figure.)

I finally made it to kickboxing where I partnered up with some of the instructors and had a really good workout. It would have been easy for me just to stay home and rest, but I am so glad that I went. It made me feel amazing.

And here we are! Thursday. I've been cleaning, I got my hair did, walked Oliver and now I am back to cleaning and getting ready. Hopefully, I will be able to work on the blog a little tonight since I am trying to get as much Barcelona out of the way before Rome. I make no promises.

OMG! What are you doing? Get off your ass and start cleaning! You have so much to do!

Okay, okay, okay!

In honor of my BFF coming to London and #TBT, here are some pictures from the good ol' days!


best friends or boyfriends? I don't know!

Week Thirty-Three

19 May 2014

I guess you can say that I've become somewhat of a homebody recently. Between dieting and an overall lack of effort to explore, I've been sticking pretty close to home. To be quite honest, it's been more relaxing to just play Londoner rather than tourist recently.

The weather was pretty good last week and even got up to amazing Saturday and Sunday. You get a whole new perspective of Londoners when the sun comes out. People come out of the woodworks to enjoy the sun!

I've been dieting and going to kickboxing which has been the main reason I've been MIA from friend activities this past week or so... I haven't mastered self-control yet, so I'm trying not to put myself in situations where I am going to be tempted to eat and drink things I'm not supposed to.

Which brings me to Thursday. . . 

I was seven days into the Dukan Diet and feeling pretty good about my 4-6 lbs weight loss (depending on the day.) The sun was shining, I just had a great walk with Oliver, I was feeling good. Maybeee a little tooooo good.

With very little persuasion, I decided to enjoy my cheat/celebration day one day early. (This is obviously the Team Starnes version of the Dukan Diet; you are DEFINITELY NOT supposed to cheat this early into the diet!) Kristen and I enjoyed a bottle of wine and caught up while James was at a work dinner. It was nice, it was necessary, it was delicious!

Well, to make a long story short. I woke up at 1:30 AM to a raging hangover (I guess that's what happens when you don't drink for nine days??) and I wasn't able to go back to sleep. The decision to cheat and drink on Thursday basically compromised my entire weekend because it threw off my sleep cycle, (as I ended up sleeping from 9:30 AM-2:30 PM Friday morning) and then like clockwork, I got sick Saturday morning.

By Saturday night, I had completely lost my voice and I was hacking up some seriously gross stuff. I have never felt so betrayed by wine in my entire life.

The weekend was low key. James, Kristen, Adam and I went to watch the FA Cup Saturday afternoon, and in an attempt not to get puked on by some very drunk Arsenal fans, Kristen and I left the pub to sit in the sun at Tinto, a local wine bar. 

Ali and Paul met up with us shortly after and Kristen and Adam went their separate way while we all stayed and had a relaxing dinner at Mem and Laz.

As you can imagine, my diet was shattered from the weekend. I still feel good about what changes I have made in my diet and exercise regime, and as long as I don't eat like I am on holiday every day, I should see some improvements. 

Sunday was the best weather we've had in London thus far. Kristen, James and I all went to the park and laid out for a bit to soak up a little sun. It was heavenly. My skin desperately needs some sun. I've been kinda struggling with it recently...

And now, it's Monday. It's currently 76 degrees outside (it was even warmer a couple of hours ago) and I am sitting on the bed in my office writing this post in my underwear. I don't know y'all, this no air conditioning thing could get a little funky. I'm sensitive to the heat now... what is it going to be like in a couple of months? eeeeeeeek.

Well, I've been running errands all day, just trying to get my head in the game for Team Cigary's arrival Friday morning! I. CAN. NOT. WAIT! It's gonna be amazinggggg!

Welp, that's about it! Here are a few pictures from last week!

happy monday!

Inside the Sagrada Familia

18 May 2014

The inside of La Sagrada Familia is just as breathtaking as the exterior. Its massive structure nearly makes it impossible to capture its beauty in one picture. The stained glass windows cast rainbows all over the walls and you feel as if you are walking through a kaleidoscope--it's just incredible. I would absolutely recommend paying to go inside, as it almost feels irreverent to just take it for its exterior and not pay your respects to the inside.

James and I went our separate ways while inside and admired in silence. It is a peaceful series of spaces that leave plenty of room for worship or self-reflection.  The calm interior was a welcome change of pace from our hectic Barcelona itinerary.

View from the Tower at the Sagrada Familia

We enjoyed going up one of the towers of La Sagrada Familia, but in the spirit of full disclosure, I didn't think it was as awe-inspiring as expected. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad we did it, in a kind of check-that-one-off-the-list kind of way, but I wouldn't pay to do it again. 

Here's what you get:
- an elevator ride up to the top one of the towers
- a different perspective of the Cathedral
- an awesome panoramic view of the city
- long single-file walk back down

The views of the Cathedral are limited because of the tall railings and thick walls, so I had a hard time getting a clear view. Plus, it's pretty tight quarters and you're maneuvering around maybe 20 other people up there.

There are one or two areas where you can go out on a balcony and get some good pictures of the cathedral and the city, but those are hot-spots and you will have to wait your turn.

And once you're done, get ready and hold on for dear life for the single-file long walk down.  

Eh. To each there own, but I found the exterior and the interior to be wayy more worth the money.

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