ENGLAND ITINERARY

Life has been a bit crazy as of late. In addition to our move to North Carolina in July, I am also finalizing the details for a trip to England with Luke just two days after we move. We will mostly be in Nottingham to visit Luke’s family, but we will also spend a couple of days in London and Birmingham. This will be my first time visiting England so I’m pretty excited about it. I wanted to share my current itinerary with you, but also ask you for any suggestions that you think are “must-do’s” that I should add to my list!

England Itinerary

Nottingham

Wollaton Park Home of Wollaton Hall and Nottingham Natural History Museum but also, more importantly, home to hundreds of friendly deer

Sherwood Forest Nottingham’s claim to fame, the forest in the legend of Robin Hood and home to Major Oak (a nearly 1,000 year old tree), Newstead Abbey, and Nottingham Castle

Nottingham Caves One of the largest networks of man-made caves in Europe

The Arboretum  Nottingham’s first public park

Old Market Square The center of Nottingham, the largest city square in the U.K.

Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem  Known as England’s oldest inn, a pub that has served locals and tourists alike for centuries

Bromley House Library  A nineteenth century library fit for Princess Belle

Birmingham

Cadbury World To see how the best chocolate in the world is made (and hopefully taste some) 🙂

London

Sketch Luke’s family is already giving me a hard time for this one. Aside from being a unique and top-notch restaurant, Sketch is famous for its bathrooms. Each toilet is its own “pod” and the ceilings of the bathroom are colored in every hue of the rainbow. We’ve already booked a table for afternoon tea here, so I’m looking forward to doing a restaurant review!

British Museum History Museum containing the Rosetta Stone, which was used to depict ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphics and the original pediments of the Grecian Parthenon (featured in this post)

Buckingham Palace Home of the Royal Family and the sight where many tourists gather to see the “changing of the guards”

Harrod’s “Macy’s but nicer” – Luke

Camden Lock Market Outdoor market with vendors selling everything from art to street food

Kew Gardens  The largest collection of living plants in the world

Westminster Abbey A beautiful gothic church and the traditional place of coronations (and weddings – Prince William and Dutchess Kate were married here!) for British Monarchs

Notting Hill Famous neighborhood of streets lined with cotton-candy colored pastel houses

We will have two weeks to spend in Luke’s home country and I’m so thrilled to have a little vacation before he starts business school at Duke in the fall. Are you familiar with any of the towns I’ll be visiting? Is there anything that’s not on my itinerary that should be? I want to hear ALL of your suggestions, from restaurants to historical sights to museums! Let me know by leaving a comment below! I can’t wait to share all of my photos and tips from my travels with all of you!

Emily

Helpful Links

15 Things Everyone Should Do in Nottingham

Ultimate London Travel Guide by The Blonde Abroad

The “Points of Interest” on Google have been really helpful for me to not only plan itineraries for upcoming trips, but also to help me remember some sights I’ve already seen but maybe have forgotten the name of. They have these for most cities, so just Google “[City] points of interest”.

Nottingham Points of Interest

London Points of Interest

2017-04-03T00:30:03+00:00 June 30th, 2016|Travel|0 Comments

ROMPER ROMANCE

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I’ll be honest, I have a love/hate relationship with rompers. The idea of them is perfect – a wearable dressy piece with the security of a constantly covered backside (read about my dress-phobia here). However, the excitement is usually abruptly ended when I take my pretty little romper back to the dressing room to try on and realize that if I make any movement, I will be mooning everyone. I stumbled upon this high-neck one at Target and was instantly drawn to it because of the color but after inspecting it for a moment, I thought maybe, just maybe, it would give me the coverage that I was looking for. One life-changing trip to the dressing room and here we are! Something that is pretty unique in the construction of this romper is that the shorts have a good, thick lining which seems to tame the thin exterior fabric a bit. In the last few years I have really come to appreciate versatile pieces, especially when I travel. I have worn this piece to the weekend farmers market with a straw sun-hat as well as with some lace-up heels for a date night and it was perfect for both occasions. I’m looking forward to wearing this affordable romper all summer (this entire look is under $50, BTW) and it will definitely be in my suitcase on my next trip in July. Any guesses where I’m headed?

Emily
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June 2016

I was wearing;

Target Mossimo Olive Romper; Exact Here

Sam & Libby for Target Orange Lace-Up Sandals; Exact Here

“Romper Romance” Photographed by Luke Bowes

2017-04-03T00:30:03+00:00 June 23rd, 2016|Fashion|0 Comments

BANDANA BABE

Bandana Babe 1

Summer is in full swing so I wanted to feature this outfit as an opportunity to talk about some of the season’s biggest trends. The fashion industry has seen a big resurgence of 70’s inspired styles in the last few collections with lots of denim and bohemian details making a comeback. Off-the-Shoulder tops are HUGE right now (just search #OTS on Instagram and you’ll see what I’m talking about!) so I wanted to experiment with this current trend. I bought this comfy shirt at H&M last year, and it was my go-to for dressier occasions during the summer, but I never wore it off-the-shoulder style. To be honest, I have several tops with elastic necklines that are intended to be worn OTS (like this one from a recent outfit post), but every time I tried to pull it off, I didn’t like the way it looked on me. So this time I decided to add a little something extra to make this trend pop! I found this unique bandana at Forever 21 and I loved that it had little polka dots instead of a paisley print. It’s crazy how something as small as a bandana can make such an impact on an outfit but without it, this look is pretty plain. I guess I need to be more serious about accessorizing (bold lips count as accessories, right?!). What do you think of the off-the-shoulder trend? Would you love it or leave it? Let me know in the comments below!

Emily
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June 2016

I was wearing;

Divided by H&M off-the-shoulder White Blouse; Similar Here

H&M Denim Button-Down Skirt; Similar Here

Coverse All-Stars in White; Exact Here

Forever 21 Red Bandana; Similar Here

 “Bandana Babe” Photographed by Luke Bowes

2017-04-03T00:30:03+00:00 June 16th, 2016|Fashion|0 Comments

PRIMO RESTAURANT REVIEW

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Luke and I are always looking for new local restaurants to try. Primo opened in the early Spring of this year (2016) and, like most new downtown eateries, there has been a lot of buzz about it lately. It is Chef Bruce Bogartz’s first project since the overwhelmingly popular, albeit not exactly successful Rouxbarb. I had the pleasure of dining at Rouxbarb only once, but it was enough to make me a big fan of Bogartz so I was thrilled to hear that he’d be head of the first Italian restaurant in downtown Knoxville. Being that Bruce is such an esteemed chef – and fairly well known by most Knoxvillians, Primo is what I would consider a “fine dining” establishment – one of the more expensive places in the area. I think Knoxville needs more of these types of restaurants. Most of the eateries, especially near downtown, are fairly casual so it’s nice to have a couple of spots to visit for special occasions or even just when you want a more intimate date night. We had previewed the menu online, so we were well aware of the steep prices (it is Bogartz, after all). What did come as surprise, though, was the utterly underwhelming experience we had dining at Primo.

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  • We made reservations for our Saturday night date early in the week. We like to eat pretty early (we’re both 75 at heart) which is usually not a problem downtown but because of its newness and Knoxville’s flocking tendencies, we reserved a table just to be safe. We arrived on the 5th floor of the Sunsphere for our 5:30 reservations to a fairly empty restaurant. We didn’t have to do much walking as we were sat directly in front of the elevators and hostess stand at a TINY square table (no more than 2×2 feet). Intending to take blog photos, I had my chunky DSLR and I carried a small purse, both of which I had to set on the floor by the time our drinks arrived. One good thing about sitting on the westward-facing side, though, was that we were in the prime spot for the sunset and the Sunsphere provides some of the best views of Knoxville.

To start, we had the “Tartufo Fonduta”, a thick and decadent pesto cheese dip served with veggies, house-made chips, and warm bread. Looking back, this was most definitely the best part of the meal. You know how a lot of people will refer to themselves as a “dessert person”? Well, I am a “cheese person” and I could, and sometimes do, eat copious amounts of cheese for every meal. The fonduta had a rich flavor and I was practically eating it by the spoonful once we ran out of our dipping snacks.

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Before placing our order, we inquired about the origin of the meat on the menu and were sadly told that the kitchen did not source locally. Many restaurants downtown really pride themselves on featuring produce and meats that are grown and raised by local farms, so I was disappointed to find out that even though I was paying double what most of these “trendy” restaurants charge, the quality of the meat still did not meet my standards. There was only one vegetarian-friendly entree, so I decided to try two small Primi pasta dishes instead (I’d rather have pasta over meat anyway). I ordered the only two Primi dishes without meat – the “Orecchiette” and the “Dolce Patata Gnocchi”. Luke tried the “Chicken al Mattone”. We had to play a game of Tetris to fit the dishes onto our small table upon their arrival.

The orecchiette was not my favorite – I ordered it despite the menu stating that it had leeks and artichokes which I kind of despise (its a texture thing) but I thought I would be able to eat around them. The pasta was served in a mushroom broth that both of the roots had been cooked in, making them tender but also… flaky. It was impossible to take a bite of the dish without having that repulsive texture against my tongue. The dish was almost in between a soup and a traditional pasta, with the broth making it watery and flavorless. A true testament to my attention to detail is the fact that I noticed that on the menu, the orecchiette was “finished with parmesan curls”. CURLS, people. Like freshly grated slivers of heaven shaved from an aromatic block of parmesan. When it arrived, it was topped with parmesan shreds that were clearly scooped out of one of those industrial-sized Costco containers. As a cheese person, that was the last straw.

Since the orecchiette was such a disappointment, I was really hoping the “Dolce Patata Gnocchi” would be special. What I didn’t realize was that “Dolce Patata” meant sweet potato. I think I would have enjoyed it more had the sweet potato been shaped into gnocchi-sized potato pillows, however it seemed like they just cubed a roasted sweet potato and called it pasta. The gorgonzola cream sauce was almost overwhelmingly sweet, but it did have a good flavor that complemented both the taste of the sweet potato and the poached pears well.

Luke is not picky at all when it comes to chicken, but the “Chicken al Mattone” at Primo must be one of the only exceptions. I think their menu is really poorly done, from it not clarifying (in English) that the “Dolce Patata Gnocchi” was sweet potato gnocchi to stating that the chicken was served atop a “brick pesto potato salad and mama’s broiled tomatoes” when it arrived in front of Luke with a pile of olives (one of the only foods Luke cannot stand) the same size as the chicken leg with hardly any potatoes and no tomatoes in sight.

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We were both already so uncomfortable by the time our food arrived that the disappointment in our dishes made for a pretty terrible overall experience. It may work in a bar area, but there is absolutely no place for a table of that size in the dining room where patrons are encouraged to eat multiple courses. Our legs kept colliding and as the restaurant started to fill up, we felt even more claustrophobic when fellow diners began bumping our shoulders as they were seated.  Other couples who arrived after us (probably without reservations) were seated at spacious four-top tables while we were crammed in between them. The presentation of our meal was surprisingly underwhelming, with all our dishes thrown into what reminded me of my dog’s dinner bowl without much care as to how they looked. I think it’s important to state that, while many may think I am nitpicking, these are things that I expect when I pay for a “fine dining” experience. If you’re curious about Primo, I would suggest going for appetizers and drinks and sitting in the bar area. The lounge is on the south side of the sphere as well, providing good sunset views and it has a row of intimate couch-surrounded tables facing the floor-to-ceiling windows. Our drinks and appetizer were the only part of our meal that we actually enjoyed, so this is our plan should we choose to revisit Primo. If you’re looking for an Italian eatery (with a hint of a southern influence) in downtown Knoxville, Emilia in Market Square opened in late Spring (2016) and it is incredible. The experience I had when dining at Emilia was the one I was hoping Primo would deliver – an intimate setting with traditional, yet inventive authentic Italian cuisine. I’ll try to squeeze in a proper review of Emilia before I leave Knoxville in July, so keep your eyes peeled and let me know if you have any questions or comments about Primo, Emilia, or downtown Knoxville dining.

Emily

Primo’s Website

Emilia’s Facebook Page

Emilia articles in KnoxNews

“Primo Restaurant Review” Photographed by Emily Davis

© Emily Davis

 

2017-04-03T00:30:03+00:00 June 9th, 2016|Food|0 Comments

ATHENS PHOTO DIARY

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Like most of my international excursions thus far, my trip to Greece was through a study abroad program. I tried to push myself out of my comfort zone on a couple of my trips, but for my last one I wanted to go somewhere I’d fantasized about visiting for my entire life – so I chose Greece and it totally blew me away. Many times when people envision Greece, they picture cobalt-colored water and little white hillside villages. While I did not get to see Mykonos or any of the more well-known Greek isles on this trip, I was still in awe of the beauty of the entire country. We began our course in Athens, which was a dream come true for an art history nerd like me. I can’t even explain how awesome it feels to have learned about something in class and then to get to stand in front of it. I want so badly for everyone to have that awe-struck feeling about something, whatever it may be, and that’s why I’m such a big believer in the power of travel and pushing yourself outside your own comfort-zone. I can’t wait to share these photos with you, along with helpful tips if you’re planning to visit Athens. If you have any questions about my trip or about Athens, please comment below.

P.S. There will be lots more photos from the rest of my trip coming soon!

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From my first night in Athens as I was walking around and exploring the neighborhood near my hotel (which is something I always recommend doing when traveling).

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(Left) Slipper shopping at the Plaka market. I bought a pair of these wooly ones and they are the only house-shoes I’ll ever wear! I have to get some backups on my next visit! (Right) Lone poppy in the flowerbed around Agios Eleftherios Church in Mitropolis Square.

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Inside the airy Acropolis Museum, where many artifacts of the original Parthenon are on display. While you’re here, take advantage of the amazing view from the cafe patio.

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The remainder of the pediment and frieze on the East end of the Parthenon, a temple built in honor of Greek Goddess Athena, the “patron” of the Greeks.

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The Mediterranean wind gusts are incredibly strong up on the Acropolis so if you aren’t comfortable flashing strangers, learn from my mistake and don’t wear a dress!

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(Left) An intricate artifact from the Benaki Museum, which focuses on Greek art throughout the country’s history. (Right) Fancy Spanakopita (spinach pie) for lunch at an Athens restaurant.

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One of my favorite activities to partake in while traveling is people watching. Most Americans are turned off to the idea of people staring at them, but from my experiences, other cultures pay no mind to making eye contact with a stranger.

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There are three Metro routes in Athens, all intersecting in the city center.

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Overlooking the Temple of Hephaestus through a field of bright poppies in the agora (gathering place) of Ancient Greece.

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A sculptural marble head in the Stoa of Attalos overlooking the Agora.

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Even though there are symbols of ancient time throughout city, Athens has all the hustle and bustle of most capitals. I love this juxtaposition of the remaining columns of the Temple of Olympian Zeus with the graffitied storefront and busy mom.

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Fun photo-op alert! The guards of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in front of the Old Royal Palace in Syntagma Square change each hour and you can pose for a photo to see how close you can get before they aim their weapons at you.

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The view of the Acropolis from the Ancient Agora. One of my favorite views was from the Areopagus (commonly known as Mars Hill) which is on the northern side of the Acropolis, near the entrance. It has great views of the Acropolis and the city of Athens, both in the day and at night.

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A local sits back to people watch in Monastiraki, the “flea-market” neighborhood. Outdoor vendors sell everything from jewelry to fresh produce in the best area for bargain shopping in Athens.

“Athens Photo Diary” Photographed by Emily Davis

© Emily Davis

2017-04-03T00:30:04+00:00 June 2nd, 2016|Travel|0 Comments