Row Boats and The Butchers Daughter; An Afternoon in Venice

Venice Canals ; Venice, CA

Venice Canals ; Venice, CA

Despite growing up in LA, today was the very first time I have ever visited the Venice Canals. Man-made in 1905, these canals were the architectural brain child of developer, Abbot Kinney, as to recreate the feel and essence of Venice, Italy in Southern California. Though I am sure the authenticity of Venice, Italy remains intact, the landmark's quiet walkways and trickling shoreline makes for a lovely afternoon of relaxation amidst a bustling beach town. 

No two homes are alike in the area. You can spend your entire stroll fantasizing about which unique home best suits you and why! From traditional craftsmans or beachy bungalows, to modern mini-mansions and exotic villas, nothing is cookie-cutter. See for yourself!

We parked locally in the neighborhood with zero constraints and walked right into the area. Total cake! After we worked up an appetite, we decided to head onto About Kinney Blvd. for lunch and some window shopping. We wanted to keep the meal lite and scene bright- enter "The Butchers Daughter." I had originally seen the picturesque restaurant in Nolita, Manhattan but ever had the chance to pop in! Upon remembering there was a Venice location, it was a no-brainer for the perfect healthy lunch spot. With a vegetarian and often vegan menu, the chefs have outdone themselves with everything from breakfast burritos to stone-oven pizzas and fresh pressed juices. 

A couple of refreshing white teas, simple salad and order of sweet and sour Pad Thai (with impressive carrot slaw) later we were fat and happy. The rest of the afternoon was spent window shopping, with the exception of LeLabo. I bought a little Rose 31 for my wrists. 

With Abbot Kinney being just about the hottest real estate on the map right now, you can get lost for several hours between it murals, shops and eateries. It is a real day-date paradise!

Preserve Your Penny:

  • Strolling the canals costs nothing. Though it is a landmark, keep in mind these are still rows of homes to many people. Stay on the sidewalks and enjoy the tranquility. 
  • If dropping an easy $100+ on perfume at LeLabo isn't in the cards at the moment, hold yourself over with a $6 sample of your favorite scent. With these robust fragrances, less is more and a sample can last several months if you are wise with your sprays!

I look forward to the next afternoon I can spend in the area! Who's coming with me?

xx

Sara De

4th of July in Oceanside

Oceanside Pier // Oceanside, CA

Oceanside Pier // Oceanside, CA

To me, nothing is better than spontaneous trips. Our first Fourth of July back in LA almost came and went without any major plans until our friends Dane and Amy put a sparkler under our booties and we set off together for Oceanside. 

We had just about 24 hours to make the most of our holiday. Board games, smash-ball, crashing waves, new recipes and beach city exploring made for the perfect short but totally sweet mini-vacay.

We strolled the Oceanside strand with warmth on our backs and a breeze at our cheeks. It was the perfect afternoon activity. Next time you are in the area, stop at "That Boy Good" in downtown Oceanside for the best BBQ in Southern California. The Mac and Cheese is out of control and the Louisiana atmosphere is authentic as can be. 

We ended the evening with a cotton candy sunset and a bubbly toast to what was a totally spontaneous, extra special time with the sea.

xx

Sara De

Greystone Mansion; France Found in the Hollywood Hills

Greystone Mansion // Beverly Hills, CA

Greystone Mansion // Beverly Hills, CA

It is officially summer, and with that, peak daydream season! Warm temps with meals alfresco transport me to destinations all over the globe in my mind. Unfortunately whisking away to worldly hotspots on a whim isn't always an option. Today I forced myself to find a bit of France at my fingertips.

Desperate for my daydreams, we took a drive up into Beverly Hills to Greystone Mansion instantly transporting us into the French countryside. Strolling the grounds is completely free and the views expansive. The next time you need to escape the city and flirt with your French fantasies, make your way to Greystone Mansion.

Preserve Your Penny:

  • Exploring the Mansions grounds are free!
  • Parking on site is free!

xx

Sara De

My Go-To Guacamole!

My first recipe post! Cooking is just as much a significant part of my life as travel. I think it appropriate that I share the simple and easy recipes that keep my (old as dirt, but kind of cute despite the color) counter tops buzzing! 

The Penny Perspective is all about keeping things simple, sustainable, and colorful. That doesn't change in the kitchen. Quality ingredients, with a dash of salt and pepper goes a long way. This simple and easy guacamole recipe is anything but basic and makes for the perfect afternoon snack or centerpiece at your next potluck!

HERE IS WHAT YOU WILL NEED :

  • 2 large, ripe avocados
  • 1 large lime 
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 12 cherry tomatos, quartered
  • 1 small handful of cilantro
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Your favorite tortilla chips

** This is a comfortable starter for 3 people, and totally filling snack for 2 people.

Grab a cutting board, your favorite kitchen knife and crank up the tunes - it's  guacamole time! I like to chop the tomatoes, mince the garlic and slice the lime before coring out my avocados. Once all of the smaller produce is ready to go, I cut open my avocados, core out the meat and get to mashing. The back-side of a fork is all you need! Feel free to be your own master of texture. If you prefer a heftier bite, lighten up on your mashing. If you prefer a smoother feel, go to town! That's the glory of guacamole!

Once both avocados are blended in the bowl, layer in your tomatoes and garlic. Next have a strong squeeze of the whole lime and sprinkle in your salt and pepper to taste! Lastly, rough chop your bundle of cilantro, dust over the top and mix. VIOLA! You have a down right easy and totally delicious crowd pleaser. 

I have set you up with the basics, but feel free to play with your palete! If you prefer a little more freshness, throw in some extra cilantro or lime. If you are missing that tangy crunch of an onion, make that addition! Hot for some heat? Dice up some jalapeño or green chilies for that warm kick. The bowl is your oyster!

15 minutes and a hungry crowd is all you will need to see this come to life. Hope you enjoy! Feel free to leave a comment highlighting your experience! Happy dipping!

xx

Sara De

LACMA ; The Perfect Afternoon Date

The Edge of Illumination; LACMA

The Edge of Illumination; LACMA

Unless you have been living under a rock since 2008, you most likely have seen a photograph of Chris Burden's sculpture "Urban Light." 202 restored street lamps stand erect and grid-like at the south entrance of the Los Angles County Museum of Art - better know by its acronym LACMA. Whether you are heading east or west on Wilshire Blvd. you cannot miss the installation drawing eyes to the largest art museum in the Western United States - and home of your next perfect afternoon date!

The grounds are expansive and the museum's collection of permanent and revolving works; just as immeasurable. Household names like Picasso, Matisse, Warhol, and Calder can be found within its walls along side a menagerie of other historical and cultural pieces. The only days LACMA does not see admittance are Wednesdays, Thanksgiving and Christmas - I implore you to take the other 311 days and get to know each other.

On top of having totally reasonable adult admission prices, LA County residents see free admission after 3pm on weekdays. We capitalized on our new proof of address and took the afternoon to stroll the grounds, and later, toast to the sunset with a smooth happy hour cocktail on the Patio of Rays/Stark Bar. See much, spend little. My kind of day-date!

Preserve Your Penny:

  • If you are an LA County Resident, bring along your ID after 3pm for free admission.

  • Because of the 3pm or later admission, you too are right on time for happy hour at Stark Bar. Discontinued cocktails?! You had me at "Hello!"

  • Lock this down for your next family fun day as anyone under 17 years of age sees free admission.

xx

Sara De

 

Art in the Sky - The Getty Museum ; Los Angeles

Sara over LA //  The J. Paul Getty Museum

There are many reasons to love this museum. It's permanent and revolving exhibits are world class, its free admission makes art accessible to all and in my humble opinion - the Getty is home to thee most sought after view over the city of stars. Hands down. From the business towers downtown to the lifeguard towers on the sand, the Getty magnifies LA and puts this vast landscape into the palm of your hand.

The halls of sculpture, oil paintings, photography and beyond are expansive and equally as thrilling are the stunning grounds they call home. We spent the afternoon studying the work that captured us inside and capturing a blue-bird winter afternoon in LA outside. The museum, atop the Palisade mountains, peering over the 405 freeway, is hard to miss. It is stunning from a far and exquisite up close. Each fountain, garden, flower and formation is calculated and perfectly so. We let ourselves get lost and like it.

Shawn in symetry // J. paul Getty Museum

Preserve Your Penny : 

  • Entrance into the Getty is Free! Enjoy a guilt free afternoon of artistic enrichment!
  • Pro-tip! If you arrive to the museum after 3pm, parking drops from $15 to $10. Save a few bucks and be sure to come for sunset. The view surely won't disappoint!

 

xx

Sara De

Lovers Lunching at Malibu Farm; Malibu, CA

Settling back in to Los Angeles is taking its time. We have returned to LA from the ever entertaining San Francisco, where it feels like every night of the year we could find a new restaurant to try, new bar to visit, or activity to partake in. Obviously Los Angeles, with all of its sprawl, is not going to see a shortage of exciting new experiences. With that - I started to create a list of the many places I am eager to visit as a reinstated Angeleno.

Malibu Farm scored the top spot on my list of eateries with a view. There is no better place to enjoy an idyllic lunch with my favorite guy during this week of love! The food is fresh, local and down right delicious. The cocktails have a zing, while the food is savory and satisfying. I cannot wait to go back! We ate on the gorgeous patio over looking the rippling waves, with a Motown soundtrack overhead. Perfection.

After we stuffed ourselves with insanely delicious food and washed it down with great conversation, we decided to stroll down to the end of the Pier to check out the smaller Malibu Farm Cafe and Ranch at the Pier - a charming store of Malibu-centric knick knacks, fashions and artisanal finds. 

This day solidified the notion of all the special moments I have ahead as a new woman in this city. I am, for the first time, excited about it. 

xx
Sara De

Reinventing My Exit

This month has been relentless. With a world changing election, a reflective birthday, and an unexpected arising of opportunity - November has my head spinning.

There is only so much one can do on a daily basis to feel in control of their life and I did my damnedest this month - I voted with my conscience, reflected on my shortcomings and hopes for an improved new year and seized opportunities despite the risk of the unknown. I tried to be immediate and thoughtful. Particularly regarding a fresh occupational opportunity that fell into my lap - All that said, I am excited to announce: I have accepted a new position within my current company and am relocating to Los Angeles next week.

Truthfully, it doesn't all feel real yet. San Francisco is my home. I have spent my most formative years here; creating my perfect home, building a strong adult-relationship,  and growing and changing with a city that allowed me endless excitement and wonderment. This is bittersweet. Straight up.

Though I am allowing myself to mourn the city that shaped me, I am also reinventing my outlook and staying open to all the new joys that will set in from being back in Southern California; Close to my dearest friends and family. I need to not just look at what I am losing, but moreover what I have to regain with this transition. I am eager to embrace the new personal and professional milestones that await me!

Today, on Thanksgiving, I want to thank San Francisco for all the friendship, art, community, smiles, electricity and heart it has shown me. The World Series Championships, the moments above the fog, the friends around my table, dancing in the park, and rooftop serenity. You were my Everest. Coming here was my dream I turned reality. Living and working in this city not only gave me the opportunity to thrive within it, but abroad as well. San Francisco gave me my thirst for life and travel. This city very literally was my golden gateway to the rest of my life. Now it is time to tackle my next highest mountain; my next list of dreams. I dont know what else to say other than I love you so much and thank you for everything.

Here are some memorable moments from half a decade in this magical city with magical people.

To San Francisco - a big, giant, creepy love-hug from your most humbled inhabitant. Thank you.

xx

Sara De.

Day-Cation; Point Reyes, CA

Sara shooting the Shipwreck // Inverness, CA

I feel pretty darn fortunate to live in a place like California - particularly San Francisco. I can go surfing and snowboarding in the same day. I can hike rolling headlands and hoist a sail all in the same afternoon. The day to day grind can get you down, but no matter where you live, there is always somewhere to go and something to do that is different and entertaining - all you have to do is seek it.

To separate ourselves from the city we decided to take a day-cation to Point Reyes. A picturesque peninsula that hosts a charming little town and some of Northern California's most precious views. Just 30 miles North-West of the city, we set out  for an adventurous day grabbing some general-store goods, sighting shipwrecks and catching wind at Point Reyes Lighthouse.

Point Reyes Station

Point Reyes Station is a little town chalked full of charm on your way out to the seaside. Toby's is a general store where you can walk out with local produce, crafty cook books and just about anything in between! 

Cowgirl Creamery and Bovine Bakery are a few places along the main drag where you can find some tasty snacks to bring on the drive. Above is a map from Point Reyes Station to the lighthouse. Point A to Point B.  If you are interested in exploring more of this area, take a drive further to Point C to Chimney Rock. My time at Chimney Rock can be seen here!

Point Reyes Lighthouse

On the way from Point Reyes Station to the Lighthouse, you are met with winding roads of pasture farms and even stumble upon this stunning Cypress tree tunnel. Once at the Lighthouse, there is a small parking area, followed by a quick and easily accessed fire road to the viewing area. The coastline is gorgeous. We had the best time rolling down new roads together.

Inverness ShipWreck 

This shipwreck on the shore of Tamales Bay is an iconic site in this area. Heading North on Sir. Francis Drake Blvd. towards Inverness, on the way to Point Reyes Lighthouse, will lead you to it. Keep a look out on the shoreline. The wreck is nestled behind some small markets - dont blink! You might miss it!

Preserve Your Penny:

  • The only cost of the day was our delicious lunch in Point Reyes Station. The Lighthouse is protected by the National Parks Service - there was zero cost for visiting!

xx

Sara De

San Francisco Flower Mart

I have been feeling a little run down lately. There are many things in life to be excited about right now, but I feel like the world is moving so quickly around me that I haven't stopped to take a minute to smell the roses. Literally.

I have been itching to make a stop at the SF Flower Mart for as long as I have lived here, but just never made time for it - Today that changed. I woke up, turned to Shawn and assured him that visiting the Mart would be our one and only definite plan for the day. He obliged and we had a great time choosing fresh florals to bring home with us.

To me, flowers are so special. They brighten up any space and arranging them myself has always proven to be a stress reliever. The bushel gathered today was a bit of Blue Thistle, Pink Ranunculus, White Dahlias and some wild lavender fillers.

It was a sweet and easy time having fun with my guy. Just what I needed.

Preserve Your Penny:
  • Bang for your buck! Heading to a mart and buying different florals in bulk to arrange yourself is not only fun but cost effective. I was able to make 3 full bouquets for the standard price of 1 pre-arranged at a florist. 
  • Cheap date: Shawn and I had a great couple of hours together for practically no money spent. We were able to play "name that flower", build bouquets, have a fun drive through the city and reconnect.

What kinds of cheap and easy things do you like to do to decompress?!

Leave me a comment below!

xx

Sara De

The Unbelievable Beauty of Budapest; Hungary

Cruising the Danube River at Sunset // Budapest, Hungary

Going into the trip, I knew barely a handful of things about Budapest. I knew that its Parliament Building was the Gothic charmer of my dreams, that Paprika was the #1 export and that Goulash was something I HAD TO try, but other than that, I was ready to let this Hungarian hideaway surprise me. And that it did!

Not knowing what to expect, you could imagine my eyes wide as wide could be when first driving through the city. EVERYTHING was so regal looking. The buildings were gorgeous, the monuments, towering. I was blown away at my first impression. We stayed in Terézváros, Budapest's VI district, on the "PEST" side of the Danube. Budapest was formerly two separate cities: Buda sitting on the west bank of the river and Pest on the right. In 1873, shortly after the Austro-Hungarian compromise, the cities merged to create a Twin Capital City for the dual Monarchy. Many bridges stretch over the Danube connecting the more flat and urban Pest to Buda's green, quiet, fairytale hill tops. 

The Chain Bridge from the Buda Side looking towards Pest // Budapest, Hungary

Reading on, I will break down our sites, eats and more based upon which side of the river we roamed. 

PEST: 


New York Cafe:

Something we noticed immediately while here is; you will NEVER go hungry in Hungary. There are ENDLESS options and seemingly a restaurant on every corner. Nosh the goulash and eat the cakes! One place in particular to pop in for a cocktail and cake is

Minimalism is not the motif in Budapest. The more decor, the better, as you can tell with this masterpiece of a building. Not only did the beautiful atmosphere set the tone for our afternoon cocktail, but so did the pianist who played "The Greatest Love of All" by Whitney Houston. Let me tell you, it will be an afternoon snack you won't forget! After your grub, get above the city with some stellar views at St. Stephens.


St. Stephen's Basilica 

Budapest from a top St. Stephen's Basilica  // Budapest, Hungary 

It is 500 Hungarian Forint (HUF) to climb the tower - in USD $1.78. Insane views for less than $2! The beauty seen atop the Basilica is truly breathtaking. This is a North West view of the city from atop the 364 step ascension. You can take the elevator, but what fun is that?! We shared some quiet moments taking in the view. In that time I realized that this place might be one of the most beautiful I will visit in my lifetime. 

After we rubbed our eyes and made sure this wasnt indeed a dream, we spent the rest of the day exploring and eating up the culture. Literally. 

 

Hungarian State Opera House

If you have the means to see an Opera in Budapest - TAKE IT. Hungary in known for there dramatic Opera's and the Hungarian State Opera House is a stunning statement piece in the heart of PEST. Unfortunately June/July are its off season - so plan accordingly!

Legenda; Duna Bella Cruise:

Before we start up about the BUDA end of the city, I want to encourage everyone to ride the waves in between. Shawn and I both agreed that the HIGHLIGHT of our time in Budapest was a sunset river cruise on the Danube. The experience was 3,900 HUF which translates to $13.95 USD. Insanely affordable. We chose the 6:30pm Duna Bella cruise from Legenda Sightseeing Boats. We booked the day before and had no issue with getting tickets - but as always, "better safe than sorry." Book in advance during peak season - you won't be disappointed. It was perfection! With champagne in our hands we set sail on a golden Daunbe and witnessed the shores of this amazing city like no other.

 

Everything felt SO walkable in Budapest. We spent a day across the bridge getting to know BUDA a little better. Quant and quieter, we took the afternoon to find romance and more stunning vantage points.

BUDA: 


Fisherman's Bastion: 

No matter where you stand, this city sparkles. In doing my research I remembered this white castle-looking attraction that allured me. It was Fisherman Bastion - hands down the visually most unique site I have visited in Europe. During the Middle Ages, local fisherman defended this span of city walls, hence it's name. The sprawling terrace sits directly next to Matthias Church - another neo-gothic masterpiece. 

This is the best spot to get a gorgeous  panoramic view of Pest.


Buda Castle and In Between:

Between Fishermans Bastion and Buda Castle is a sweet little stretch of shops, eateries and idyllic alley ways. Take your time and stroll. Buy some paprika. Take home a Hungarian doll. Savor your moments!

Buda Castle can be seen from just about ANYWHERE in Budapest. It is hard to miss atop the highest hill. The castle and its grounds can provide ENDLESS entertainment. There are museums galore, restaurants, tours, festivals and beyond. I would absolutely suggest looking into what the museum has to offer if you should choose to visit. A new Picasso exhibit had just opened at the Hungarian National Gallery before our arrival. Jackpot!

Budapest was undeniably, hands-down the jewel of the trip. I would HIGHLY recommend anyone going to this beautiful and storied city. Shawn and I knew this Eastern European trip was going to be the most challenging when it came to language. 5 new countries, all with vastly different ways of communicating. Though we always find it respectful and appropriate to study the basic phrases before touching-down - most everyone spoke English and happily. Aside from being a breathtaking city, the US Dollar goes FAR here. It absolutely must be a stop on your next excursion abroad! 

Here is the rest of the highlight reel. Reliving this gives me all the feels!

 

Preserve Your Penny:

  • Simply Go to Budapest! The US Dollar goes far there. Shawn rationed $200 for 4 days in Budapest and  after still came out in the green ! You can really do and see so much here with very little spent! 
  • Use your benefits! Every attractions offers great student and senior discounts! Bring your ID verifying and you are set!

The Where To's: 

Where to Grab a Bite (Yellow): Jamie Oliver's, Chagall, Iguana Bar & Grill, Pesti Disznó, La Pampa, Domi's Bake Shop

Where to Grab a Drink (Red): Müvész Kávéház, New York Cafe, Cech In, Pontoon, Simple Kert Ruin Pub, Instant Ruin Bar, Biergarten

Where to Stop and Look Around at All the Beauty (Green): All Places mentioned above with a few others to boot! 

I hope when planning your next big adventure, you consider this unbelievable beauty! Your dollar goes far, and the sites are incredible! 

xx

Sara De

 

 

 

Brand Spotlight: Jins

Setting out on a sunny European vacation, I knew I needed the perfect pair of shades to make the trip with me. Thankfully my friends over at Jins were able to help me out with that! Comfortable, affordable and down-right-sexy, these shades are the perfect pair to wear this Summer. 

Order yours online by clicking the link HERE, or shop others styles on the Jins website!

 

Thank you again to Jins for the partnership.

xx

Sara De.

24 Hours in The Fair City; Dublin, Ireland

Pub Crawl through Temple Bar // Dublin, Ireland

THE WHERE TO's

Where to Have A Drink: You would be remiss if you did not walk the streets of Dublin's Icon "Temple Bar" Street. Grabbing a pint of Guinness is made easy at several Irish Pub's along the strip like The Auld Dubliner. I found a particularly pleasant pint just across Dame St. on Dame Lane at The Stag's Head. Between those 2 areas, you should easily find a place for a pint.

If coffee calls after a long night of pints, head to Art Cafe for a relaxed vibe along with your latte. 

Where to Grab A Bite: For tapas try The Port House. For trendy and hip try CrackBird. For Iconic, try The Winding Stair. Bistro delights can be found at The Green Hen or Pichet. Despite old lore, good food can be found in Ireland. Have fun with it! 

Where to Go Shopping: On the South Side, head to Grafton Street. A variety of notable retailers line the street. Amuse yourself with the street performers in between purchases!

Where to See Some Sites: If you have it hard for Hogwarts, head to the Trinity College Library. "The Long Room" is a magical looking place. Dublin Castle and St. Patricks Cathedral would round out your fairytale first time in this lively city. If alcohol is of interest (lets be real, it's all about the booze here...) making your way to the Old Jameson Distillery or Guinness StoreHouse would be fantastic choices! 

                                                                                                 On the Map Each Color Indicates - 

Red; Grab A Drink // Yellow; Grab A Bite

Purple; Go Shopping // Green: See Some Sites

Samuel Beckett Bridge //  Dublin, Ireland

Samuel Beckett Bridge //  Dublin, Ireland

Preserve Your Penny:

  • The taxi in and out of the city center from the airport can run anywhere from  € 30 and upward! Take the Dublin Airlink Double-Decker bus to the airport for just  €6!  It is quick, efficient and best of all, CHEAP! There are many pickup locations all over downtown making it a breeze!

Our time spent in Dublin was quick. There is so much more to explore here and beyond on the Emerald Isle. Can't wait to find ourselves back in Ireland in the future! Cheers!

xx

Sara De.

 

At Home in Rome; Trastevere, Roma

Calm morning along the Tiber // Rome, Italy

I spent some time in Rome last Spring. It was my first time to Italy and truthfully it rocked my world; So much so that we made it a point to spend the first  couple days of this Eastern European trip in the Eternal City again.

Rome is one of the world's most sought after cities with 7-10 million travelers cycling through year after year, and rightfully so. There are endless activities to fill up any week-long schedule. Below, I am going to share a few of my favorite memories and let you in on Roma's most precious secret; Trastevere. 

Even if there weren't endless things to do in this amazing city, you could spend your entire allotment simply roaming its picturesque streets and stopping off for the most delicious food on every corner. To get the most out of our experience last year, we went ahead and purchased the ROMA Pass. With a one time payment of  € 39 you have access to a slue of Roman sites, museums and landmarks over a 72 hour period.  With visits to the Colosseum, Roman Forum, Circus Maximus, and Palatine Hill we put our pass to use right away - Not to mention, the ROMA Pass gives you unlimited/free access to public transportation all around Rome! Definitely something I would recommend for a first timer! 

This time around there was less on the agenda leaving more room for flexible site seeing and absolutely more room in the agenda for pasta. Lots and lots of pasta. To get our appetites up we needed to set out on the town and get our walking feet moving. We had our eyes set on two main sites: The Vatican Museum/Sistine Chapel and The Trevi Fountain. Last year, the Trevi Fountain was under construction so we were unable to see it in all of its glory. As for the Vatican, there is MUCH to cover, so a-lotting a full morning to its expansive grounds in necessary.

June in Rome is no joke, but we were excited about being back in our favorite country and ready to roll with the heat and hectic-ness.

The Vatican:


 The Vatican City is an entire country in and of itself surrounded by Roman lines. Think about that, the Vatican is its own country! Crazy! If you are to ever visit Rome, visiting the Vatican, St. Peter's Basilica and the grounds many museums and gardens is a MUST. Michelangelo outdid himself on this one!

Shawn and sara sneak a picture of the sistine chapel // The Creation of adam is directly above

Any given day can be a busy one. Book your tickets in advance for a morning visit! I suggest the morning because depending on the day of the week, sites like the Sistine Chapel and the Basilica close early to prepare for Pope audiences or other occasions hosted in the Holy City.  Sometimes the most effective way to ensure that you even get into the exhibits in a timely manor is through a tour agency. Now, typically, we are travelers who have little interest in tour groups and like to do the exploring and investigating on our own but with the Vatican, tour groups are almost necessary. We did an English speaking tour through Maya Tours Roma . Our tour guide Deborah with a zesty Italian woman with so much to share and was a seasoned guide, totally kicking butt through the large crowds all while giving an informative experience. 

After the Vatican, it was mid day and time to eat! You can find food everywhere in Rome, just do your homework. Try to avoid places that look designed for tourists. Yelp and Trip Advisor are your friends! If the menu is in more than 2 languages, and mostly pictures: avoid it. If the patio is filled with Aperol Spritz drinking, Italian Speakers, you know you have found the right place! Take a few extra moments to get the Italian food of your dreams! Below I will list a few of my favorites! Read on!

If you prepare for it, Rome is quite the walkable city. If you are there in the Summer just know that a water bottle, comfortable shoes and some patience through the crowds will be necessary. Also, the city of Rome has flowing water fountains almost on every corner. Clean and safe to drink, this makes for filling-up on the go a breeze! We were in the mood for a bit more water so next, we head over to the Trevi Fountain to make a wish and see what the year prior had not allowed us.

The Trevi Fountain: 


Nicola Salvi's - The Trevi Fountain

When in Rome, you do as the Roman's do - but only after you have finished all the touristy stuff. It's impossible to avoid. You go to Rome for the food and the zest and the wine and the joy but truthfully you must see many of the works created by the artists, politicians and clergymen before you. They are truly spectacular and that is why visiting the Trevi Fountain is something to do while finding your way through Roma. 

The fountain is situated in central Rome nestled between the Pantheon and the Spanish Steps. It is something you could stumble upon if you weren't being intentional. 30 years in its construction, the fountain is a prize of the Eternal City paying homage to Baroque style and the story of Rome and its iconic aqueducts. 

Take a few moments to marvel at its size & beauty. It is customary to throw a coin into the fountain using your right hand over your left shoulder. Make a wish !

Revel the city you are in because it is truly a Crown Jewel of the world. To me, Rome (and all of Italy for that matter) is a region of wonder. I come to LIFE when I visit and I hope you do to. There is a particular neighborhood in Rome where I feel truly at peace and that is in Trastevere. Just over the Tiber river, this quaint and often unnoticed treasure stirs with its buzzing night life, picture perfect piazzas and food that will rock your world.  We have stayed in this neighborhood both times during our Roma stays and I feel genuinely at home there. 

Trastevere: 


When we first decided to visit Rome early last year, I didnt know where to start. A close friend pointed me in the direction of dreamy Trastevere and since then, we were hooked. This is a very special part of the city. Out of the way of the central bustle, this little nook below the Vatican comforts you with all the joy's of Rome. The vines grow wild, wine is shared at all hours, and the pop-up cinema's make Summer even more magical. 

Santa Maria Basilica and its Piazza is a perfect place to share a meal and a gelato on the fountain at dusk. The metro runs straight through the middle of town in case walking over the river in the hot sun seems too much. The smell of pizza dough fills the air and the twinkling lights over head illuminate it. It is my perfect neighborhood. Artisanal shops, the finest bakeries, and crafty merchants line the streets. Oh, and Gelato; did I mention endless amounts of Gelato?! 

I am in love with this place. We feel most in love in this place. It is good for our souls. 

We always make it a point to share at least one fancy meal in each city we travel before we leave. Vacation is about "treating yo-self" after all! On our last night in Rome we chose Taverna Trilussa to dine and BOY OH BOY did it leave a mark on us! Starting with a local Lazio bottle of Vino we surveyed the menu with wide eyes and hungry guts. Shawn went in blindly ordering the Ravioli Mimosa alla suggestion of our waiter, Adriano. I was set on the Bucatini all' Amatriciana. 

Everything was perfect. The ambiance, both on the ivy covered patio and indoors with hanging racks of cured meats, was perfect. I felt like I was in the heartbeat of Italy; Fluttering with each new bite of my delicious food. It didnt matter that I had slept 45 mins the night before (Thanks Jet-Lag!) I was wide awake, filled up to my puffy eyeballs with pasta, wine and true, uncontrollable, so-happy-I-could-die, love.

The Where To's:

Have Dinner: Taverna Trilussa, ai Spaghetteri, il Ciak, Galeassi (All in the Trastevere Area)

Have Gelato: Fonte Della Salute, Don Nino

Be sure to also explore: The Pantheon (my favorite monument in Rome), The Colosseum,  and attend mass at Chiesa di Santa Maria Maddalena

Go Shopping:

Designer Via del Corso, Via del Babuino, Via Ripetta, Via Condotti, Via Frattina, Via Borgognona. These are all grid-like shopping streets crossing over one another around the Spanish Steps. Via del Babuino is the mother-load leading straight to the opening of the Spanish Steps draped with designer labels. 

For the standard shopper - There is some pretty great shopping between Piazza Di Barberini and the Trevi Fountain. Get lost a while and window shop. You will hit a slue of shops past the fountain near Piazza Colonna like Zara and Calvin Klein. There is even an AS Roma store for your boyfriend to peruse while you finish your spending. 

Catch a Breath-Taking View - Minerva Roof Garden or Canonne del Gianicolo 


There is so much more to say about this magical city. Italy is the one place I have visited thus far that has felt "like home" to me. Whether it be in the heart of the hustle in Rome, finding peace in Vatican City, sitting above the bell towers at Canonne del Gianicolo or sipping in the shade in gorgeous Trastevere - I feel whole here. And I hope you will too.

 

xx

Sara De.

 

 

Coming Up on TPP: Eastern Europe Report

Sara wishing in the Trevi Fountain 

I am BACK! 

Sorry for the quick absence, but I was too busy finding my way through Eastern Europe! We just traveled through 5 countries in 19 days and "BOY!" was it a whirlwind. We not only made wonderful memories exploring new regions, but also had time to dream up ways that will hopefully inspire you to get out and visit! Here is what you can expect from The Penny Perspective in the coming week(s) :

- Doing Dublin: A 24 hour hit-list in The Fair City!

- Rome Rundown: Why this is my favorite city I have visited so far!

- Beautiful Budapest: My eyes couldn't believe themselves - and yours won't either!

- When in Wien: Why Vienna makes for a great place for travelers and excites the expats!

- The Power of Prague: Czech drinks, Gothic Spires and Biergartens that make the heavens look like the cheap-seats!

Thanks for hanging in there! I am very excited to start plugging away! Stay tuned!

xx

Sara De. 

 

Conquering the Carry-On! Summer Packing Tips to Help You Skip the Baggage Line!

When it comes to packing for a trip, I like to consider myself a PRO! I have been successful in packing a months worth of NECESSITIES (being the operative word here) in a single Carry-On and Backpack combo - even with room to spare! Half the trouble with packing is being able to say "NO" to the things that take up needed space. Below I will list tips on consolidating, suggestions for optimizing space and will encourage you to say "YES" to the things that you actually need and "see you when I get back" to the rest!

Conquering the Carry-On:

  1. A key to packing is remembering that typically, no matter where you are, (despite some adventure-travel deep within rural or underdeveloped areas) you more than likely will have access to a washing machine.  The washing machine is your friend. The washing machine enables you to leave all 6 extra pairs of jeans at home so you can focus on the 1 or 2 you actually need to bring. Cutting your "must take" garments pile in half is a good start to this exercise! What I think anyone really needs for 3+ weeks of Summer travel is this:
  • 1 pair of denim and 1 athletic pant
  • 1 light sweater and 1 jacket for warmth
  • 1-2 light cotton dresses / 1 maxi skirt
  • 2 pairs of shorts
  • 8/10 shirts
  • 2 pairs of shoes. One walking sneaker; One sandal
  • A few pairs of socks
  • Toiletries (though those can be bought and utilized on an "as-needed basis" whilst away)
  • 1 set of PJ's
  • A handful and a half of undies / 2 Bathing suits 
  • Toothbrush, HairBrush, MakeUp Bag

2. Compartmentalizing is KEY. I think that packing bags/squares/cubes are an essential part of staying organized and making it all fit! I bought a set of Bloomora laundry bags to help consolidate my essentials. Using a "rolling technique" v. folding can really save you some extra inches! 

3. When it comes down to the travel day, wear your bulkiest items on the plane. You can always layer-off when you are ready for departure without sacrificing space in your bag!

4. Pick styles that are neutral and versatile. Chic, simple, and comfy is the only way to travel-lite! If you pick "statement pieces," you more than likely won't re-wear these garments and ultimately waste space for the classics.

5.  Stuff those sneaks with socks and undies (assuming you dont wear that bulkier item on the plane.) Sit on that suitcase and zip it tight! I know this seems like it may be a lot for one little carry-on but trust me, you can do it!   This is my 21in. TravelPro MaxLite 4 and very rarely does it not fit  the carry-on size standards for airlines. I believe only some budget airliners throughout Europe have asked for smaller. 

The Basic Backpack:

Your backpack is the 1 personal item you are allowed to carry-on as well as your luggage. This is where all the immediate necessities need to be stored:

  • Wallet
  • Travel Documents
  • Headphones
  • Sunglasses
  • Snacks
  • Water
  • Camera/Cellphone
  • Ipad/E-reader/Tablet/Book
  • Immediate Meds
  • Chapstick
  • Etc.

The idea behind this is simple; while adding new things to your "must take pile" ask yourself, do I REALLY need this?! If you answer is anything over than, "Of Course!" ..... ditch it and leave room in your bag for epic souvenirs along the way.

Pro tip: for all you girls out there having trouble OVERpacking, play "the packing game" with your boyfriend or brother. This is a cut throat, dudes-version of packing that will revolutionize the way you see necessities. Hold up the garment, defend its honor and if the boy thinks its excessive, he's is probably right. Hah!

Remeber, this is supposed to be fun! The excitement starts with packing and trust me, the excitement  continues when you are out exploring with less "stuff" to worry about! Pack light, pack right and have a good flight! 

 

xx 

Sara De.

How to Share a Romantic Afternoon in Florence; Italy

Sara and Shawn atop the Duomo // Florence; Italy

There will never be enough to say about beautiful Florence, Italy.  A quick hour and a half train ride from Roma, brings you to this Tuscan city. Red rooftops, and cobbled streets swirl around the cities crown jewel; il Duomo. Everything about the city screams romance. The rumble of music, laughter and joy amongst its streets brings warmth. The architecture, captivating. The museums, moving. This is the perfect place for you are your love to explore. Here is an afternoon itinerary full of romance in the home of renaissance.

Wake up slow, have a café and greet the day! Make sure to have a fueling lunch al fresco - you will need it with all the walking this day will entail! Here we go:

The Duomo: Start with a visit to the Santa Maria del Fiore, aka Duomo. This is one of the most popular sites in Florence to visit and rightfully so. This green, pink and white marble structure is a Gothic masterpiece. I literally gasped when our cab leading us into the city, turned to face it. It is breath taking in every sense of the word. There will surely be a line to climb to the top of the monument, and if you should want to challenge yourself with all 463 steps, it is absolutely worth the wait. A few notes I can offer: if you have spacial issues, or suffer from claustrophobia this would be something to consider. At 720 years old, the Duomo was not constructed with the modern tourist droves in mind. You can expect tight spiral, stone staircases, narrow walk-ways, and as you reach the final paces of your accession, very steep steps. Again, all worth it! Tired and ready for open air, walking out onto the rounded terrace is SURREAL. The tattered red roof tops and rolling Tuscan hills in the distance are your reward for completing the trek. Bravo to you! 

When you are on vacation, rarely are there any rules. Stop for dessert before dinner at Gelateria Edoardo (a gelataria that prides themselves on all organic and local options!) on your way out to your next destination, Ponte Vecchio!

Ponte Vecchio:  The Ponte Vecchio is an iconic Firenze bridge that connects both sides of the city. This medieval stone, enclosed arch-bridge hovers over the Arno River and houses small boutiques of jewelers, art dealers and souvenir shops. Grab a couple of postcards, take a couple pictures over the water, enjoy the street performers along the way and continue on South towards your climactic sunset destination Piazzale Michelangelo. There is a lot of walking to do while exploring a city. Refreshing yourself by grabbing a glass of wine at Bevo Vino in the Piazzetta di San Miniato before making your climb up the stairs of Scale del Monte alle Croci......Onto sunset!

Piazzale Michaelangelo at sunset // florence, italy

Piazzale Michelangelo: When we visited Florence last year, I knew before diving deep into the city that I was going to love it. Studying Renaissance Art in both high school and college, I was drooling over this place since the second I laid eyes on it. With the stunning Uffizzi Gallery having arguably the most important collection of the worlds most ground breaking masterpieces, this city knows a good thing when they see it. We found a whole new masterpiece at the top of Piazzale Michelangelo. The Piazzale is much like an outdoor amphitheater inviting you to have a seat on one of its many stairs to enjoy the view. I have made it a point to seek many gorgeous sunsets in my life and I can truthfully say that in 26 years, this was my absolute favorite. 

The rich rust colored roof tops cast deep shadows over the town. The golden glimmering Arno River cuts through the landscape. Clocktower bells ring in the distance reminding you that time is still passing even when it feels like it's standing still. The Duomo, bold and strong, governs over its beloved city. Ugh! I wish I could be there right now! It was a moment in time I will not soon forget. Every person should see this view and know this joy. It's a must!

Once you have come back down from heaven and your feet are firmly planted on the ground, make your way back to the North side of the city over the river. At this point you will have far passed your average "step count" for the day! When the sun goes down, the Italians eat! By now you will surely need it after all the exercise you have seen! For a mellow, no fuss, yet still epically romantic dinner head to All'Antico Vinaio. There may be a bit of a line peaking out of the small storefront, but it is WORTH IT. Build your own pannino to-go with all the best meats, veggies and fresh ingredients Toscana has to offer. Couple that with a bottle of wine, two plastic cups provided by All'Antico and finish the evening sitting along the stone walls in Piazza Del Signoria. The twilight above you, the trickling water of Fontana del Nettuno (Fountain of Neptune) bonding sweetly with the cellist sonata from a talent playing for tips. I can only hope your time is as idyllic as ours was. Savor your bites and sip your wine slowly - this is what life is ALL ABOUT. As you look up at the Palazzo Vecchio clock tower above you, you will notice that you have just enough time to get to Vivoli for one last scoop of Gelato before there close at Midnight. Don't miss out! Vivoli is said to be the best gelato in Florence, if not all of Italy. PRO TIP: At the intersection of Via del Proconsolo and Via Ghibellina there is (hopefully still there!) a random, stand-alone photobooth. Make memories in this one-off time capsule! Our photostrip is my most beloved souvenir of the whole trip!

At the end of a long afternoon we were proud of the distance we had walked, the heights we had climbed, the moments we let sink in hand in hand. I grew closer to my partner that day by letting this city take hold! 

I hope I have painted a picture for you that is desirable! This, for me, was an afternoon that has made such an impression on my heart, on the way I view my moments with my partner, on the way I savor sunsets, on the way I think about life and love and simple joys. If you end up in Firenze, send all my love. I cannot wait to return!

Preserve Your Penny:

  • Purchasing a bundle card could be a good option for a place like Florence with its 100's of museums and sites. See if the Firenze Card is a good investment for you during your stay! 
  • Though I believe it very important to experience a luxurious meal with a Florentine Steak, having a pannino in a piazza is a great way to fill up and save some dough.
  • Our Airbnb in the heart of Florence was exceptional and cheap! Consider this route over a pricey boutique hotel!
  • Eat where the Italians eat. Restauranteurs will try and lure you into their over priced, decent at best establishments, especially around the main attractions. Dig a little deeper - find a place where the patrons are speaking Italian and the menu is hard to read..... thats when you know it will be the better stuff!

 

xx

Sara De.

Japanese Tea Gardens in SF; Golden Gate Park

Japanese Tea Gardens // Golden Date Park; SF

I have been needing a day of relaxation. Sometimes the rat-race gets the best of us and we need to take a step out of the fog and clear our heads. I decided to find my "zen" at an SF landmark I had yet to visit in the heart of Golden Gate Park; The Japanese Tea Gardens. This lush, green landscape, with vibrant red pagodas, an arched drum bridge, and traditional stone lanterns was the perfect place to find tranquility. 

It was a rather crowded day in this small garden oasis, but even with all the people, I found beautiful moments of serenity; Much stemming from good conversation with my girlfriend Christine. After doing an initial stroll through the sunny garden, we plopped down in the outdoor cafe and talked over cups of tea, bowls of Miso soup and a few nut tarts for a sweet finish.

The Tea Gardens are tucked in the corner of Golden Gate Park's Main Concourse. With an $8 entrance fee for out of towers and a hefty serving of tea, you can find a couple hours worth of peace for less than $13! Today I enjoyed a cup of Hojicha while looking over a waterfall, and Koi pond surrounded by Japanese maples and pines. This was a great way to feel like you are not only away from bustling city, but in another part of the world all together. 

When a garden is used as a place to pause for thought, that is when a Zen garden comes to life. When you contemplate a garden like this it will form as lasting impression on your heart.
— Muso Soseki

I am looking forward to going back to the gardens! Make a stop here if ever in Golden Gate Park!

xx

Sara De.

What to do with 48 Hours In Berlin; Germany

Waiting for a train // Alexanderplatz Station; Berlin, Germany

Berlin is a special place.  So much history has swept through this capital city, it is only but a ghost of its former self. Berlin looks very different from the rest of Germany; from the rest of Europe even. The landscape have been bombed to bits throughout several wars, leaving very little of the typical "old world charm" seen in surrounding countries. But just because Berlin has lost many of its frescoed walls, does not mean Berlin has lost its beauty. In fact, I felt the true beauty was in that of its modern inhabitants. Warm, progressive, inviting and streamlined; this was Berlin!

If you only have 48 hours in this awesome city, this is what you do ......


Visit the East Side Gallery: The East Side Gallery is a mural and memorial on a 1 mile stretch of the Berlin Wall. This remaining portion of the wall can be found in Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg on MülhenstraBe. Take your time with all 105 works along the wall and really read into the emancipation message shared with each beautiful piece. There is no fee or entrance to view the gallery, it is simply a public monument for all to marvel.

Typography of Terror: With Germany, there is no escaping it's notorious past. It was the home of the worlds most powerful dictator who left a devastating footprint on history and human-kind. Berlin had seen the terrors of war continuously throughout the 20th century and instead of continuing to let it reign power over their lives today, Berliners have stared it in the face, turned fiercely way from the ideals of the past and proven that with love, compassion, and strength they could take their heritage back and create a brighter future for the modern German. The Typography of Terror is a indoor/outdoor historical museum located on the previous site of the Gestapo and SS Office during the 3rd Reicht. This space is a maze of visual displays chronologically guiding you through the rise and fall of the Hitler Regime as well as a portion of the Berlin Wall with relics shining light on their fight to freedom during the Cold War. Advisory: As the internal  exhibit progresses the content becomes far more graphic. I can assume you expect that knowing the atrocities of WW2 but I figured I would still mention. This is a building dedicated to the acknowledgment of Germany's troubled past through comprehensive displays. 

This FREE museum has guided tours and all of its written exhibitions in both German and English. Definitely a place to visit if you should seek solace with the ones lost and communities effected during those portions of history. 

Other notable sites: The Brandenburg Gate, The Reichstag, and the Memorial to the Murdered Jews for Europe.

THE WHERE TO's:

Where to grab a drink: KASCHK! Artisanal coffee by day and Bier pourers by night. I had one of the best nights of my life here in Prenzlauer Berg. Be sure to head downstairs to the basement for some shuffleboard fun! After you started with a few tall and cheap German craft beers, head to Brut around the corner for a classic cocktail. After a good nights rest, head to Roamers Coffee & Booze for a pick me up and idyllic storefront!

Where to grab a bite: Curry at the Wall! When in Berlin you must try their staple dish - currywurst! Besides wursts, Berlin is actually quite the cultural culinary city. We had delicious Thai food at Thai Window Asia, and even felt at home with some American fare across town in Gleimviertel at The Bird, ordering yummy Brooklyn style burgers and chops! Be ready for cash only and a strict medium-cook on your burger. Many places we visited in Europe WERE NOT into the "well done" option.

Where to shop: Berlin has EXCEPTIONAL flea markets. A stroll through the city on any given day can lead you to the treasures and trinkets of your dreams. Some information about the local flea markets and their schedules can be found here.

With only 48 hours, this should surely give you LOTS to do around Berlin. In my opinion, this is one of the most fascinating cities in Europe. The people are kind and eager to interact with travelers. The history: rich and important. The art, music and youth scene: abundant. No matter what you do, give into the adventure! Happy travels!

Preserve Your Penny:

  • Every site that I have listed above is a FREE attraction to explore. The Reichstag is the only landmark where you need to preregister before entry (being that it is the current parliament building of Berlin) - other than that bit of logistics, visiting the Reichstag dome is still free!
  • You get a lot of BANG for you BUCK when it comes to drinking German beer!  No need for fancy cocktails most days! Find yourself a biergarten and make the most of your day enjoying the weather and sharing some sips with friends!

xx

Sara De.

 

 

Penny's Picks: theBalm Lip Matt(e) & Sam Edelman Booties

Sara wearing "Adoring" Meet Matt(e) Hughes by theBalm Cosmetics

There are a few things every gal needs in her style-arsenal and in my opinion, that is a go-to red lip color and chic pair black booties. These classic staples round out any weekend wardrobe. Whether its a casual lunch date or fancier night on the town, look to these timeless pieces!

I have heart-eyes right now for this long wear lip color: Meet Matt(e) Hughes Long Lasting Lip Color by theBalm cosmetics. The shade I am wearing above is "Adoring." With no need for lipliner, this matte paints on beautifully and lasts! I personally love a satin finish and this product give just that!

Grab Meet Matt(e) Hughes Long Lasting Lip Color here!


Circus by Sam Edelman Rylan Mid-Calf Boot 

These Sam Edelman booties are the apple of my eye! I have searched far and wide for the perfect pointy black bootie, and my search is over! Comfortable, chic and classic, these booties leave the house daily. The inseam zipper makes for easy on/off access and metal detailing on the toe adds some flash!

Pick up these perfect pointed booties here!

Aside from being two wonderful products, these additions to my outfit of the day made me feel beautiful! Thats what it is all about!

xx

Sara De