Granada: It's All White.

 

Earlier this week, I got the chance to visit La Alhambra in Granada. I've heard about La Alhambra, but I'll tell you the truth: I was blown away with how beautiful it was. It's hard to describe, but I really liked the way Lonely Planet summarized it, so I'll leave it to them.

 

The Alhambra is Granada’s – and Europe’s – love letter to Moorish culture, a place where fountains trickle, leaves rustle, and ancient spirits seem to mysteriously linger. Part palace, part fort, part World Heritage site, part lesson in medieval architecture, the Alhambra has long enchanted a never-ending line of expectant visitors. As a historic monument, it is unlikely it will ever be surpassed – at least not in the lifetime of anyone reading this. (Read more here.)

 

Much better than I could have done. My summary can only be summed up as shaded courtyards, the smell of sweet oranges, cool white marble and sprawling gardens.

Now that you have a bit of an idea of what La Alhambra is, you're gonna need to take a look at it's amazing architecture and design. I was blown away... and the thing is, it's not just a tiny section of the building that is in this intricate style.


It's an entire hilltop fortress. It sprawls over the mountain and building after building mirrors this gorgeous craftsmanship. Yet, while the skill is endlessly dotted around the entire fortress, each area is unique. You really have to see it to believe it.

Also, I've been getting asked to bring back my style/shopping guides that I used to pair with my posts. So in the spirit of the soon-coming warmer months and the gorgeous white walls of La Alhambra, here are some easy picks that I'd love to take back with me on my next visit to Granada.




 

*images original to Aspiring Kennedy


*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Posted on February 12, 2016 and filed under travel, spain, shopping.

A Valentines to London.

I remember standing at the GAP cash register with my mom in 1995 holding my breath in anticipation. On a casual trip to Prestonwood Mall, we had wandered in the the GAP at the wishes of my older sister. While we were there, I found an XS short-sleeved, ribbed, sage turtleneck shirt on the sale racks that (shocker!) was being cleared out with a big orange "FINAL SALE $4.99" sticker on it.

I tried to act cool, like I was so grown up and belonged and not in the kids sections of Meryvn's next door where the rest of my clothes were from. But apparently my mom was in a good mood that day and tossed it up on the counter to buy it for me. What was a simple purchase for her was- to my 11 year old self- an unexpected graduation into coolness.

As I got the bag and held it carefully throughout the rest of our errands around the mall, I felt like I had arrived to the sexy dark-lipstick-wearing-Cranberries-listening club of maturity by that one simple purchase. I had a shirt from the GAP and I was, officially, soooo cool.

Fast forward another 12 years. Tyler and I had bought a tiny house in Dallas and were, slowly, trying to make it cute. I remember getting some floating shelves from West Elm that year for Christmas, and that momentary bliss of feeling cool was back. Here I was- with something from that modern shop, West Elm, that would make our house look so cool. 

*Editor's Note: I have always been (and remain!) a huge dork- just in case you hadn't realized that yet. 

But I've got great news for that eager 20-something version of Lauren: I'm featured on the West Elm blog, Front & Main, this week! I got to scurry around London picking some of the best bits from the shops I love here. It was so much fun and I'm still very flattered to have been asked. 


I'd like to think that the 11 year-old and 23 year-old versions of me would give each other a high-five at the news... but who knows, they're probably preoccupied tearing out pages of Jonathan Taylor Thomas from Tigerbeat and moodily listening to Coldplay.




 

*images by Ben Clube for Aspiring Kennedy & West Elm.

 

Posted on February 10, 2016 and filed under london, shopping, life.

Pack Your Bags: Granada, Spain

This morning, I work up really early and headed out to Heathow. One almond croissant, three beverages, and two flights later- I landed in Granada, Spain for a work trip.

The weather is sunny, the skies are blue, my work friends are here... and the living is easy.

We hit the ground running with a huge lunch and then went to visit the Cathedral of Granada. It was spectacular, and very worth visiting- if you're in Granada. The contrast of light white walls and ceilings with the gold ornamentation is really striking. I've never seen another church quite like it.

This afternoon was spent catching up over coffee, hot chocolates and one giant plate of churros that cost €2 shaded by giant orange trees. 

And now? Well, we're headed to Arabic Baths for a little swim and hamman massage.

To be honest, if you're ever going to leave your family at home for the night... this might be the best way to do it. It's always a weird feeling to leave family, but you know... also nice to get some space to remind you how much you love them being around. (And because you don't have to share any churros with them either.)




*images original to Aspiring Kennedy


Posted on February 7, 2016 and filed under travel.

£100 + A Babysitter | The World is My Oyster.

 

A few weeks ago,  my friend Natalie invited me to go out on a girls day. I was excited because I never get to see my friend Natalie. When I found out that Travelex was giving her/us £100 to spend on a "perfect London day," well... duh, I was even more excited. £100 to spend with a friend around London? Obviously, I jumped at the chance. After all, I'm only human/desperate housewife.

No official day out in London would be complete without terrible weather, and yucky, cold weather was just what was on the menu for our day out. We started the day with a quick visit to Selfridges to pick up our Currency Card from the Travelex desk. (My first time to use these, but maybe a new favorite recommendation for traveling- protected debit card with your choice of currency at the best rate and only a small service fee. More info here, if you're interested.) Then off we went down Regent Street to...

Burberry. I mean, we only had £100, so it wasn't really our day to cash in on a classic trench, but we did get to feel fancy eating in Burberry's cool new restaurant, Thomas's. We had buttermilk pancakes with a slab of honeycomb and rhubarb compote, eggs & soldiers and "perfectly cut grapefruit" (which was hilariously emphasized everytime it was mentioned by the waitstaff.)

It was really fun being there, but I can't say it's a must-do for your trip to London. The food was mediocre, the hostesses were really good at rolling their eyes and the whole concept kinda felt like someone had thrown some tables in the middle of a department store.  (Just trying to be honest for anyone that was as eager as I to try it out.)

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But the coffee was good and so was the company, so we put the tab on our little Travelex card and left happy.

We wandered down Regents Street and waxed poetically about how much we love this cool city.

Then we trotted down through Piccadilly Circus and down to Trafalgar to the National Gallery. In case you haven't noticed from my Instagram, I spend a lot of time in museums in London.

Between work/school/kids/private guiding- I'd say that I average at least one visit a week, but I hardly get to the National Gallery. It was a nice treat to spend a rainy morning walking around it and just absorbing the buzz of people seeing it for the first time. 

After we had our fix on Turner, we headed off for our final destination.

Cheap massages! I looked up spa after spa, but couldn't find anything that would fit our budget... so Natalie dug up a little hole in the wall off Leicester Square, Sensé Spa. Hilariously dingy, but super cheap and actually felt amazing. (Though kinda cold, since I was in a basement and the space heater was only working at half capacity. ha!)

And what girls day would be complete without a cheesy faux-candid shot overlook Trafalgar Square? None, I dare say.

Anyway, it was a great day out- Selfridges, Burberry, Regent Street, Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar, National Gallery, Sleazy Massage Parlous... Doesn't get more London than that! If anyone else wants to invite me to toot around London (or Paris! or New York! I'm not picky!) with free money to spend, just know I'm game. 

 

Now it's your turn... 

How would you spend a £100 in London? 

 



 

*images original to aspiring kennedy

Posted on February 2, 2016 and filed under london, shopping, travel.

Hats Off | Graduation Day!

 

Last week, I graduated from Kings College London with a Masters in Digital Humanities.

We hopped in a black cab and headed to the Barbican Centre early on Tuesday morning. After getting stuck in some killer city traffic, I dashed in minutes before registration closed, got fitted in my Ede & Ravenscroft robe, grabbed a program and headed in to the main hall for my seat. 

The ceremony was awesome in the no-nonsense way that herded us through like cattle but also had some undeniably cool elements such as an amazing trumpeter and organist, the Duke of Wellington presenting our diplomas to us, and finishing with a rousing version of "God Save the Queen."

But let's be honest, what made the day really special was the spread of food and drinks they had for us in the atrium afterwards.

Joking, joking... Despite the fact that those pumpkin and ricotta tarts were delicious.

I'm not sure I'll remember much about the day I graduated with my masters beyond the few glimpses I have of looking across the auditorium and seeing Tyler holding Harrison, who was mastering his clapping game at the sound of every name that was announced and Viola being good by keeping quiet as she crawled around by my parents' legs.

I mean, I don't want to cheapen the pursuit of learning or the accomplishment of getting a Masters. I feel so lucky and so supported to have done this at the stage of life I (read: we) are in. I'm thankful that I got to study this subject at one of the best places in the world there is for it... but man, I'm also glad to get to share life with such nice people!

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If you're curious about Digital Humanities or the degree that I did- you can check out Kings College London MA in Digital Humanities page or this snazzy new video featuring some of my favorite classmates/professors!

 




*images original to Aspiring Kennedy


Posted on February 1, 2016 and filed under life.