Beginner's Manual for Staying In An {Italian Villa}

When we planned this blogger hen-do,
we knew it had to have a supreme backdrop.

With us all coming from different places in Europe,
we knew that most any decent place 
within the reaches of Ryan Air was our play ground.

So we settled on Tuscany.

Megan, our bride-to-be, had never been,
and as a wedding gift to her, 
I thought she should experience the greatness that is Italy.

And, as you may be realizing,
 I have issues with spending any free time I have there. 

Really bad issues.

So Liz found us an amazing villa on *AirBnB,
we paid the deposit, packed our bags,
and away we went.

If you are looking for an affordable place to rent in Tuscany,
this might be your spot.

It has four bedrooms,

two and a half bathrooms,

large common areas,

an updated kitchen perfect for making big meals,

and, most importantly, a pool set among an olive grove.

It took a lot, I mean, a lot to post a picture of me in a swimsuit next to tiny Megan.

The other great thing is that it's about 15 minutes away
from my favorite place in the world, Lucca.

I have highlights from Florence & Cinque Terre to come,
but for now,
enjoy the quick trip to our temporary piece of heaven.

To read the more tragic & real start to our trip,
head over to Liz or Megan's blogs for the recount.

They wrote out the stories so well,
I'll leave it up to them to give you the full picture.

{Read my review for renting an affordable house in France here.}

*all images original to Aspiring Kennedy
**if you haven't used AirBNB, use this link. We both save money. Win-win.

Dreaming of St. Andrews

I'm back from our blogger weekend in Italy
and am already pulling 12 hour work days 
as my new semester starts.

It feels good though.

I like being busy.

Before I get heavy on the Italy pictures
and trying to articulate all that happened during our trip,
here are the dreamy shots I promised
from our trip to St. Andrews.

Even though I lucked out with posh accommodation this time,
what I typically like the most about this town
is how normal St. Andrews is.

There are just a few streets running through the town
lined with approachable restaurants, regular shops & charity shops....
it's just a sweet place for regular people to live and study.

{Or for Royals to fall in love... whichever.}

Regardless of the town being really tiny and secluded
and being, well, pretty much freezing most of the year, 
I actually think I could live there.

Isn't this place the cutest?

To get more information on visiting St. Andrews,
read my post here on things to do
and my review on staying at the famous Old Course Hotel.

And if you wonder if the nut falls far from the tree,
this picture of my dad taking a picture
reminds me that my genetic predisposition is what it is.

No need to keep fighting it.

*all images original to Aspiring Kennedy

The Most Epic BLATE Ever.

For those of you who don't know
a "blate" is a blogger date.

A few months back, 
over dinner in Glasgow
Megan & I started scheming up 
what could be an amazing hen-do blate
{hen-do = British bachelorette party}
after her and Stephen got engaged.

{We had a feeling it was right around the corner.}

Obviously, I suggested Italy.

Obviously, Megan thought it wasn't a terrible idea.

Fast forward to 3 months later,
and I'm sitting on the rug of my living room 
packing for a 5 day get away to Tuscany
with two of my favorite blogging friends.

{Us American ExPats in Europe have to stick together.}

We meet in Pisa tomorrow
where we will drive to a villa
and lounge in the country for two days...
after that, our men come to join the party.

I simply can't wait for several reasons:

1. It's so fun to spend time with blogger friends in real life.
Getting to have girl time with Megan & Liz is just what the doctor ordered.

2. We will be in Lucca, which (as I have previously said) 
is Tyler & my's favorite city in the world.
That's a bold statement, but we love it there.
 Remember when I spent my birthday there last year?

3. There is this really awesome gelateria there 
with a particular homemade flavor that I love, Raffaello.

It's white chocolate, hazlenut and fresh coconut... just like the candy truffles. 

Last summer, we drove all the way from Florence on our last night
and each ate a large cone full of it...
and went back in for a second cone when we finished.

So yeah, that's another pretty big draw.

If you could join us in Tuscany, 
what would you insist on doing/eating/seeing?

Follow Us on Instagram During Our "Viaggio."

me - aspiringkennedy | megan - msgram | liz - lizdenfeld

*all images via

Pack Your Bags: {Classy} St. Andrews

If you've read this blog for a little while,
you might have learned that there are certain places
that I kinda get obsessed with after visiting.

And when that happens,
 I visit them again... and again... and again.

St. Andrews in Scotland is one of those special places.

This famous town was listed on the first itinerary I ever had,
so, site unseen, I showed up and spent the day exploring the tiny coastal town.

And ever since that random day,
 it's become one of my favorite spots in the UK.

Since I'm typically there with students, 
I experience the town through the eyes (& budget) of a student....
but last week, I went with my parents
and got to experience the town through their eyes.... and budget.

All of that lead up to say:
we stayed at the St Andrews Old Course Hotel
and it was freakin' awesome.

{Oh yeah, I'm classy and belong in luxury hotels, y'all.}

A few things to know about the famous hotel:

It's owned by Kohler.
Yeah, like the water faucets.

While this seems weird, it results in the hotel having 
amazing tubs and showers in every room
I have ever been to in my life.

{Use of the thermal spa is free for hotel guests.}

I lierally sat in one of the whirlpools and thought:
I feel like a Roman at the baths.

And when we sat in the rooftop hot tub
as the sun set over the coast
drinking my chamomile,
I felt exceptionally fancy.

The breakfast served at the hotel is amazing.
Order some waffles
and tell me if you've ever had better.

You can't. 

It's impossible...
because they are actually, believe it or not, Belgian
and have the yummy sugar pearls in the batter.

Oh my.

Regardless of if you are staying in the hotel or not,
you can come eat at the resort's pub, The Jigger Inn.

It's the cute little white house tucked between the golf course & the hotel.

It's well-priced, 
the service is really great,
and the freshly caught haddock, for the fish & chips, is completely legit.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly,
free on-demand movies in your room.

I totally veg'ed out after dinner
watching movie after movie
in our enormous, American-sized bed
cradled by an obscene amount of fluffy pillows.

So this is my instagram-level tour
and review of our stay at The Old Course Hotel in St. Andrews.

Overall, it's a great hotel that would make the perfect setting
for a trip to St. Andrews... if you can make the splurge.

{It would be hard to imagine being disappointed if you did.}

Wait for tomorrow when I take you on a drool fest
throughout the rest of town and our stay
with the pictures I took on my "real" camera.

*all images original to Aspiring Kennedy.
**follow me on Instagram. Username: aspiringkennedy

Downton Abbey: Back in Britain

Some of my stateside friends
were bemoaning the airing 
of Downton Abbey's Season Three premier 
here in the UK last night.

Yeah, sucks to be you America.

I'm totally kidding,
 I love America...
but it is tragic that you won't have it
until several months down the line.

When I am into a series,
whether it is book or film,
I absolutely hate when people drop spoilers.

{Wouldn't that be soooo Edith of me?}

When someone is a step ahead of me in reading or watching 
and starts a sentence with the phrase,
"I'm not giving anything away, BUT.... "
it makes me fussy.

Because, as well all know, they actually DO give something away.

With that perspective in mind,
I'm going to do my very best to keep quiet 
on the weekly happenings of Downton
until my American friends can catch up.

So since I can't tell you any details,
I'll just tell you...
the awesomeness that you fell in love with
from Seasons 1 & 2,
well... it's still there.

My mom was here watching it with me 
and we were in the zone.

You have good things waiting for you.

While you're dreaming of Season 3,
here are some dreamy shots of my favorite, Lady Mary Crawley.

*images sourced via

Pack Your Bags: Edinburgh (Family Style)

My parents came to visit
and we decided to take them to see
a few places that they have never seen.

Ok, well one place really: Scotland,
with a lot of little stops along the way.

The first stop was Edinburgh for two nights
until Tyler could wrap up work and join us.

While I typically run around the town
with college students
or with our awesomely low-budget.

But this time around,
oh friends,
I came with mama & papa.

I may or may not have persuaded them into the ways of Barbour upon arrival in the rain.

And traveling with mama & papa
can always make things a bit more fun.

We had such a good time.

We saw all the sites
like the Edinburgh Castle 
and the Queen's Edinburgh palace, Holyrood...

we ate tons of food
at cozy places like Under The Stairs
and lunch at the famous Elephant House,

ok, actually haven't eaten one yet... but will work up the nerve to soon.

& we slept like kings
while staying at The Balmoral.

Enormous rooms, cozy robes & REN bath products. Oh, yes.

Fun fact: JK Rowling finished Book 7 of HP in a suite at the Balmoral
as a way to enjoy her success as an author.
From her starting point over a single cup of coffee at The Elephant House
to a suite at Edinburgh's grandest hotel-
I like her style!

So do I recommend the splurge for a stay at The Balmoral?
If you can swing it, of course!

Or if you want to go for something more modern,
the Hotel Missoni draws me in big time!

Edinburgh + Missoni = Awesome doormen in kilts.

Though if you can't swing it,
which is the camp I most often fall into,
I also highly recommend an apartment through Advocate Apartments
either will give you great rooms at a great price in fantastic locations.

More soon as our journey continues...
the next stop is one of my favorites: St. Andrews!

*all images original to Aspiring Kennedy via my instagram. Username: aspiringkennedy

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