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Florence Travel Diary + Tips

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Florence travel tips

Welcome back! I hope you guys are loving my travel diary series and gleaning (what I hope is) good advice on traveling in a few of my favorite cities. We had such a blast exploring Spain and Italy! In case you missed them, I already posted my travel diaries from Barcelona and Rome. I’d love for you to check them out!

Today, I’m excited to share my Florence travel diary. We used Florence as our base for the next 5 days, both exploring the city and then venturing off on day trips to Cinque Terre and Venice. I love Florence. (I mean, I pretty much loved every city we went to!) But Florence is so beautiful and full of history. So many iconic structures like the Duomo and Ponte Vecchio, as well as the nearby leaning tower of Pisa, which we didn’t get to and I don’t even want to talk about it. (It was a total time mixup. Can you even believe it?!) Plus… THE GELATO. So much amazing gelato.

How We Got to Florence

After two days in Rome, we hopped on the Trenitalia Frecciarossa and in an hour and 20 minutes, we were in Florence. Trenitalia is so easy to use and a million times better than Renfe in Spain. While you can certainly pre-buy tickets, and it may even be preferable, I was sort of terrified of doing that for all 5 of us and then having some sort of issue, problem or hold up that would prevent us from making the train. Train schedules are so precise, you know? Well. Looking back now, we should definitely have pre-bought our tickets. We also should have called the credit card company to get a pin number for our credit cards before leaving for Europe.  You can’t pay at a Trenitalia ticket kiosk with your credit card without one. Because of this, every time we had to buy tickets, we had to get a number at the information desk and wait anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. Call your credit card company before your trip and request the pin! Side note: traveling second class is perfectly fine, but the first class is so worth the extra money. So spacious and comfortable, snacks and drinks… it was way more enjoyable. (I mean, duh right?) We hopped into a taxi at the station and headed to our Airbnb rental. Actually, we hopped into TWO taxis… finding cabs that accommodate 5 people is hard in Europe, but in Madrid, Barcelona, and Rome, it was doable. Florence, no.

Where We Stayed in Florence

As I mentioned before, we stayed in our second Airbnb. First thing’s first… the air conditioning was AMAZING. You may remember that the a/c efficiency was our #1 travel criteria this trip lol.  While the living area wasn’t ideal, it totally fit our needs for the stay. The location, however, was fabulous. Right on Via de Bardi, literally 50 steps from the Ponte Vecchio. We were right above a grocery store, which is great because we stocked up on water, prosciutto, cheeses, and other yummy things to nibble on for breakfast and snacks. Airbnb was once again the ideal situation for us.

What We Did in Florence

There is so, so much to do in Florence! Plus, it’s super walkable. We only ever took a cab to get to the train station. And really, just because we had bags. In Florence, we did NOT do our Hop On/Hop Off bus tour strategy. We basically just tackled our to-do list in order of what was closest and what was most important to us. (We started with the Duomo monuments!)

Must-See in Florence…

  • Piazza del Duomo // The monuments of the Duomo are all on one ticket, so make sure that you take advantage. The ticket is 15€ per person. 
    • Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore // Arguably THE most recognizable monument in Florence, you can NOT miss the Duomo. Keep in mind that you have to have your knees and shoulders covered! The view from the top is absolutely amazing.
    • Il Battistero de San Giovanni // Do this before the Duomo. Get the audio guide, it’s worth it.
    • Il Campanile di Giotto  // If you follow me on Snapchat, you might remember the video of me climbing the 441 steps of the Campanile. Thought I was definitely going to die, tbh. The stairs are so narrow and steep… but, seriously, the view from the top is so worth it.
  • Palazzo Vecchio // the statue of David used to sit outside the Palazzo Vecchio, but now there’s just a copy. If you want to visit the REAL David, make sure you head to the Accademia Gallery. The Palazzo Vecchio is Florence’s city hall and is a sort of combination fortress/palace/art gallery.
  • Palazzo Pitti // The Medici family’s primary residence, you can check out the Royal Apartments, the Costume Gallery, and the Boboli Gardens. There is an awesome Karl Lagerfeld exhibit, “Visions of Fashion” running now through October 23,2016, which we checked out and loved. (More on that in my next post!) Make sure you buy the ticket for the Palatine Gallery AND the Gardens and Costume Gallery.
    • The Boboli Gardens // stunning landscaping, sculptures, and more, it’s definitely worth a stroll through the gardens. And more than a few amazing photo opps!
    • The Costume Gallery // I loved the Costume Gallery! Highlighting a few of the most fashionable women throughout the past 300 years, I was living for some of the vintage YSL, Chanel, and Versace pieces on display!
  • Ponte Vecchio // Firenze’s most famous bridge, the Ponte Vecchio was always historically lined with jewelry merchants and today is lined with jewelry shops! The view of the city is so stunning from the bridge, and at night there are all kinds of cool performances happening.
  • Accademia Gallery // pop by the gallery and visit the famous statue of David as well as the Birth of Venus. Definitely try to buy your tickets online for the shortest wait possible!
  • Via de Tornabuoni // such amazing shopping! All the luxury shops are located here.

Where to Eat in Florence

We got BY FAR the most recommendations for restaurants in Florence! Here are just a few of the best:

What I Wore in Florence

The whole time we were in Italy, I basically only wanted to wear dresses and rompers. One piece dressing is so chic, easy and comfortable. This dress is a total favorite! The cut is really flattering, the fabric was lightweight, and I really liked the print.

Make sure that you check back, because I’m going to share what I wore to tour the Pitti Palace and Boboli Gardens in a separate post! Plus, all about the amazing ‘Visions of Fashion’ exhibit by Karl Lagerfeld.
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Outfit Details


Forever 21 floral print dress || Qupid lace-up sandals (almost totally sold out, basically identical pair here  || Baublebar gold ‘orbit’ drops || BP rose gold aviator sunglasses || Rebecca Minkoff black ‘Classic Quilted Mini Affair’ bag || Baublebar crystal ‘Mason’ x ring


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Thanks for reading! Tell me in the comments: is Florence on your bucket list? Have you been? What are your recommendations?

xo, Stephanie

Rome Travel Diary + Tips

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Rome Travel DiaryCiao! I am so psyched to share my second travel diary with you all today! The third stop on European summer tour was beautiful Rome, probably my favorite city we visited. I don’t know, I can’t really pick, to be honest

When we started planning our trip, we knew we wanted to do Spain and Italy. As I started researching, what had originally started out as a Spain trip quickly evolved into a mainly Italian vacay. (Whoops, right?) There were just so many amazing cities and places we wanted to visit in Italy, we decided to do 5 days in Spain and the rest of the trip in Italy.  And we didn’t even make it to some of the amazing places I am dyyying to visit, like Capri.

Our first stop was ROME. I was so excited to check out the ancient city. It’s so stunningly beautiful and I’m always totally blown away by a city’s history. Rome was no different. And… the food, though. DYING. I ate pizza and pasta every. single. day. And did not gain any weight, btw. (Sidenote: what they do to our food here in the US is truly appalling!)

By the way– how fascinating is this? According to our tour, ancient cities had a real name and a secret name. The ancient Romans believed that if you knew someone or something’s name, you had power over it. Because of this, they always kept the real name of the city secret. According to some stories, the secret name of Rome is really ROMA spelled backwards… AMOR. Isn’t that so cool!? No doubt Roma is super romantic!

How We Got to Rome

We flew from Barcelona to Rome on Vueling, again. (Sidenote: Vueling is owned by British Airways!) The flight was quick, only an hour and 45 minutes! Checking in at the Barcelona airport was actually kind of a pain… there was a HUGE line to check in and check your bags. Basically, when you get 30 minutes away from your flight, they make announcements and redirect everyone to another line to check in there. (Very stressful!) Only… the announcements are very, very hard to understand!) In any case, we made it.

Where We Stayed in Rome

Rome was our very first Airbnb experience! I was more than a little nervous about trying Airbnb for the first time. I researched the apartments like crazy, reading all the reviews. My main concern was a/c. Seriously, I knew it was going to be 100 degrees. We’re Miami gals. We are USED TO CENTRAL A/C. There is no way that we could survive without a good a/c. That was our main criteria when selecting a hotel/Airbnb. 1) Do they fit all 5 of us? 2) Do they have good a/c? Now… the a/c was okay. NOT GREAT but okay. I think that might just be the name of the game in Rome, though. The buildings are so, so old. It was perfectly acceptable After pouring over review after review, we chose this luxury apartment, right on Via dei Polacchi in Piazza Venezia. The location was fantastic! We were walking distance from so many things and really close to one of the stops for the Hop On/Hop Off bus tour.

What We Did in Rome

The very first thing we did in Rome, no joke, was to get pizza. Jaime Cittadino from Sunflowers and Stilettos texted me a million amazing recommendations on where to go and what to eat before we left, and the very first thing we did was hit up her pizza recommendation. We headed to Dar Poeta in Trastevere and, guys… I ate the most amazing pizza I’ve ever eaten in my LIFE. I thought there was no way that I could eat the pizza they brought me, but I was wrong. I ate the entire thing. A huge pizza. All on my own. Not sorry.

We once again started out by doing a Hop On/Hop Off bus tour, riding the full route once, and then a second time to actually hop on and off.

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Must See in Rome…

I love exploring Rome! The piazzas and squares are so charming and hidden away, all the little alleys lead to something amazing, it’s like a secret city. There is so much history and culture, it’s just so fascinating. Here are a few must-sees:

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  • Colosseum // This is probably a total no-brainer. I was most excited to check out the Colosseum. Definitely, rent the audio guide, it’s totally worth it and chock full of fascinating information. I was so blown away while we were there and couldn’t even imagine attending an event there. I really just can’t imagine wanting to witness any of the brutality that the Romans passed off as entertainment.

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  • Pantheon / Roman Forum / Palatine Hill // the ancient ruins are just so fascinating to me. The Colosseum, Palatino, and Forum all have a joint admission ticket and it’s only 12€. 
  • Borgo Pio neighborhood // the Borgo Pio is a charming, cobblestone-lined neighborhood filled with flowers. You pretty much can’t miss it if you’re visiting the Vatican; it’s located right as you leave Vatican City. (I saw an American-style bistro that looked delicious and promised scrambled eggs and bacon lol!)
  • Piazza di Spagna / Spanish Steps // We were SO disappointed that the Spanish Steps were closed once again for refurbishment. I dreamt of taking a photo with a gelato on the steps, a la Audrey in Roman Holiday. Total no go. I did, however, take a pic in front of the plastic partition because, YOLO.

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  • Trevi Fountain // the Trevi Fountain is the #1 must-do thing, in my opinion. You know the saying… throw a coin in the fountain and you’ll definitely come back to Rome one day! (Which reminds me, I absolutely love the movie, Three Coins in the Fountain. It’s on Netflix. Also, now I have that song in my head. If you watch it, you’ll know.)  But, I have to be honest. My blood boiled intensely. There were SO. MANY. PEOPLE. Which is fine, I get it, we all want our photo throwing a coin in the fountain. But everyone is SO RUDE. As a blogger, I get it. I get the importance of getting the shot and taking a beautiful photo. Because of that, I am SO respectful of other people when they’re taking pics. I wait my turn and then take mine. NOPE. None of that going on at the Trevi Fountain. I got pushed by, like, no fewer than 20 people and some lady and her hubby basically jumped into every single one of my photos. Uber fail. My best advice for hitting the Trevi Fountain is to do it early in the morning. LIKE EARLY. I wish I had done that. If we had stayed in Rome longer, I would’ve. Also, be careful because the street vendors are REALLY AGGRESSIVE. They come up to you and try to sell you things like water bottles, umbrellas, selfie sticks. (This is a major problem ALL over Rome!) They’re super aggressive and persistent… one guy, no joke, came up to us three times in less than 10 minutes! At the Trevi Fountain, though, they try to TAKE PHOTOS OF YOU and then charge you money!! NO THANKS.
  • Piazza Dei Cavalieri di Malta // so this piazza is totally gorgeous and majorly Instagram-worthy. It’s a hedge lined avenue that is famous for its ‘secret’ view of St Peter’s Basilica. If you look through the keyhole in the Priorato’s main door, you’ll see the dome of SPB perfectly aligned at the end of the hedge-lined avenue. It’s GORGEOUS. Please don’t ask why I don’t have a photo of it. Just go.
  • Via del Corso and Via Condotti // I mean. SHOPPING. That is all.

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  • Vatican Museum / St. Peter’s Basilica // You absolutely MUST see the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican Museum, it is STUNNING. Sadly, no photos allowed. It was amazing, no one is allowed to talk and everyone just stands in the room and stares up at the ceiling. Keep in mind that the dress code is very strict; you have to keep your knees and shoulders covered. Wear a midi length dress or skirt and keep a wrap or cardigan in your bag to throw on over.

Where to Eat in Rome

Basically, you can eat anywhere in Rome and it will be amazing. Obvi, go hard on pizza and pasta. And gelato. And tiramisu. And cannoli. Here are a few recommendations on amazing spots:

  • Dar Poeta in Trastevere // the best pizza in Rome.
  • Las Palmas Gelateria // amazing gelato
  • Duecentogradi // super long line for their delicious sandwiches, but move fast and are well worth the wait.
  • Pastificio Guerra // this little spot is only open between 12-3pm. It’s basically a little window with the most delicious takeaway pasta. There are only two house specials offered each day, but the line will tell you something about the quality.
  • Vinando // we ate dinner here our first night in Rome… we literally stumbled across it as we were looking for our apartment. The beautiful, twisty alleyways are gorgeous but way confusing!

What I Wore in Rome

It was hot, hot, HOT! I choose easy pieces like lightweight rompers and flowy dresses, paired with sandals. The city streets are really dirty, just keep that in mind when you’re choosing footwear.

The first day, I wore this floral romper you may have seen on Instagram in the past. It’s light, comfortable, and cool. (My three main concerns!)

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Outfit Details


Romper: Forever 21 , similar here|| Hat: J.Crew || Bag: Rebecca Minkoff || Sandals: Qupid


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Our second day in the city, I did wear two different outfits. The first I didn’t shoot photos of, because it wasn’t really cute, to be honest. I hadn’t planned an appropriate outfit to wear to see the Sistine Chapel and St Peter’s Basilica, so I ended up wearing jeans, which I was actually weirdly really bummed out about. All the dresses I packed weren’t quite midi and didn’t cover my knees! I changed into this dress after and felt a lot better.

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Outfit Details


Dress: Old Navy , similar here || Sandals: Qupid || Bag: Kate Spade via Kate Spade Outlet || Hat: J.Crew || Earrings: Baublebar || Ring: Baublebar || Lipstick: Maybelline Color Sensational Creamy Matte Lip Color in Electric Pink


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I had such an amazing time in Rome! I think it was definitely one of my favorite stops on our trip. After two days in the city, we hopped on a Trenitalia Freciarossa to Florence! Stay tuned for that…

Thanks for reading!

xo, Stephanie

Friday Favorites Vol. 10

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Friday Favorites

Happy Friday! It’s been awhile since I’ve shared a Friday Favorites, so I’m kind of excited to share one today. We are headed to Tallahassee to move Megan into her new apartment today, so make sure you’re following along on Snapchat (username: stephaniepernas) for all of the fun and games that usually follow an 8-hour drive lol. I always love going back, it really just feels like home. I honestly can’t believe it’s been almost 10 years since I graduated from FSU. #GrandmaStatus. No joke.

I hope you’ve been enjoying my travel recaps! In case you missed it, I posted my Barcelona Travel Diary on Wednesday. If you’re planning a trip or it’s on your bucket list… totally check it out! Tomorrow I’m going to post my Rome Travel Diary… can’t wait for you guys to see it. Rome was probably my favorite city. Don’t hold me to that, though. I really loved the whole trip, I can’t decide which was my fave haha!

By the way– I’m experimenting with some subscriber features I’d love your feedback on! If you’ve ever subscribed, you know that you get a daily email with my posts. For a few weeks, I want to test out sending ONE email per week with all of that week’s posts and a few exclusive goodies. If you’re interested, hop on the mailing list here.

This Week on A Sparkle Factor

Packing your carry-on bag for a long flight is a very strategic process… check out my essentials to ensure you have the best flight ever!

Travel Essentials - What to Pack in your Carry On

Barcelona is one of my favorite cities, ever. I shared my Barcelone Travel Diary earlier this week.

Barcelona travel tips

A Few Favorite Things This Week

I’ve been tearing through Lindsey from White Oak Creative’s blog posts. She was at TBSCon and seriously BLEW MY MIND. She is so talented and knowledgeable about design, SEO and blogging in general. Seriously, she is a rockstar. I love this post on how blogging less will actually help your blog grow. Full disclosure, I’ve felt very overwhelmed for awhile, and totally behind. I’m currently experimenting with blogging 4 days a week instead of 5… to allow myself more time to focus on really upping my game in terms of content and also to have more time to do all of the behind-the-scenes blogging stuff that I feel I rarely get around to. I’d love to hear what you guys think about that. Please, bear with me while I figure out what will work best! Currently, I’m planning on having new posts live MONDAY, WEDNESDAY, FRIDAY and SATURDAY.

I feel like I just need this dress. It feels like a good summer to fall transition piece. PS: everyone is talking summer to fall transition. It’s still 100 degrees in Miami. Is it really already time to call it fall??

We are back on Atkins! Yep. I mean, Kim K has lost a ton of weight, I figured, why not? If you have any great low carb recipes, tell me in the comments! (PS: I’ve already lost 3 lbs, so I’m counting that as a win!)

So many girls lately have been rocking this necklace, I am DIE DIE DYING for it. I need it, right??

I feel like I’ve re-discovered Pinterest this week! I hopped on and realized how much I missed pinning! Follow my boards and let me know if there are any great accounts out there I NEED to be following.

I am obsessed with my Moon & Lola charm bracelet that I built at TBSCon. And also, this necklace that I wear all of the time. Moon & Lola is having a sale on their 14k gold pieces! Perfect time to invest in something beautiful and personal.

Favorite Sales This Week

  • Banana Republic // extra 40% off sale
  • Baublebar // summer sale: up to 70% off
  • Express // $25 off every $75 + free shipping over $50
  • Gap // 35% off w/ code: TGIF
  • H&M // fall sale up to 50% off
  • J. Crew // 25% off amazing styles* & extra 30% off sale styles. w/ code: REFRESH
  • J. Crew Factory // 50% off women’s shirts and top and men’s shirts + extra 40% off women’s clearance w/ code: EXTRA40
  • Nine West // $25 off $100 and free shipping
  • Old Navy // $15 dress sale, 50% off all jeans, free shipping w/ any pair of jeans w/ code: FREESHIP

A Few Favorite Sale Finds

What are you up to this weekend?? Tell me in the comments! Thanks so much for reading!
xo, Stephanie

Barcelona Travel Diary + Tips

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Barcelona travel tips

Bon dia! Barcelona was the second stop on our trip and it was probably my favorite. If you’ve never been, I highly recommend adding it to your bucket list. As a city, it has everything; the beach, the city, lush greenery, mountains, amazing food, wonderful people. We found the people to be the friendliest, by far, in Barcelona.

You may remember that I said our first stop was Madrid, but honestly… I don’t know if it was the jet lag or what, but I took, literally, 3 pictures in Madrid. I can’t even believe it!! Such an epic fail, and I’m so sorry! In fairness, I did take quite a bit of video, thinking for a second that I would do more of a video travel diary, but… to be honest… I have literally no idea how to do it and it ended up being more of an undertaking than I thought it would be! So, let’s just pretend it never happened and that Barcelona was the first stop, ‘kay? (LOL!)

How We Got to Barcelona

We actually ended up flying from Madrid to Barcelona instead of taking the train! It came out cheaper to fly. There are so many low-cost carriers in Europe, jetting from one city to another or even one country to another is so cheap! We flew Vueling and it was actually a really easy and pleasant experience. (And it totally blew my mind that it ended up being cheaper!)

Part of me was honestly disappointed that we didn’t take the train because we missed out on a great opportunity to sightsee. It’s about a 2 and a half hour train ride. Our flight was an hour and 20 minutes. Of course… there was a little airport drama and we did have to get there early to check in, so did we save time? I don’t really know.

On another note… the Renfe website is probably the most insane thing I’ve ever seen. (Renfe is Spain’s train line!) It’s a) super confusing and b) really heinously translated. I was cracking up for DAYS that they were translating what I am ASSUMING is a youth fare to “young meat” fare. Disturbing. LOL. I read a review on TripAdvisor that likened the Renfe website to Alice in Wonderland and how nothing makes sense. (TRUTH.)

Where We Stayed in Barcelona

OK, so hotels was a bit of a challenge for us on this trip. Since I was traveling with my fam, we are a party of 5. If you’ve ever traveled in Europe before… you know that hotel rooms are basically all designed for two people. Sometimes even ONE person! It’s definitely not like the US, where you can squeeze four people into a room. So two rooms wasn’t an option. What ended up being best for us was to either stay in Airbnbs or to stay in apartment style hotels, conveniently named “aparthotels”.

We stayed in an amazing aparthotel in Madrid, the Splendom Suites Gran Via. (Seriously, so gorgeous! And an amazing, central location. If you’re headed to Madrid, stay there.) There was a Splendom Suites in Barcelona, but they had zero availability when we were traveling, so we ended up staying at Gran de Gràcia Apartments. We stayed in the 2 bedroom suite. So… there were pros and cons to Gran de Gràcia. PROS: washer/dryer, great kitchen space, plenty of room for all five of us, great living area, full dining room. CONS: the location was a tad far for us. The location was nice and it was a beautiful area, but it felt sort of far from everything.

What We Did in Barcelona

We developed a strategy in Madrid that seemed to work for us throughout the trip. The first day, we would do a Hop On/Hop Off bus tour. We’d ride the full route once to get a feel for the city and then the second time we’d hop on and off to check out the attractions we wanted to see. Now… the bus tour was more successful in some cities than others. In Madrid, it was FANTASTIC. In Barcelona… not so much. It was still worth it at the end of the day, but it just wasn’t as smooth sailing as in Madrid. I’d still recommending doing it, because 1) transportation and 2) you really get a feel for where stuff is. You can also buy attraction tickets on the bus, so that’s good too.

There are definitely attractions you need to pre-buy tickets for, though! The Sagrada Familia and Park Guell are two places that you definitely definitely want to buy tickets ahead of time. We actually forgot to buy the Park Guell tickets before and it was stupid because we ended up going, hiking all the way up this insane hill for, like, an hour, only to get there and buy tickets for entrance later that day.

Must See In Barcelona…

  • Park Guell //  beautiful park designed by Gaudi… this is basically my #1 must-see!! You’ll get so many gorgeous photos and there’s arguably THE best view of all of Barcelona from the top of the hill. (See below)
  • The Sagrada Familia // Gaudi’s masterpiece; the church has been under construction for over 100 years.
  • Las Ramblas // beautiful tree-lined streets, popular with tourists, definite must-see. Connects Plaza Catalunya with the Christopher Columbus monument. Beware of pickpockets!
  • Mercado de Sant Josep de la Boqueria // delicious market where you can eat basically anything. Everything is SO tasty and yummy. Just be careful if you’re buying candy by the pound! We ended up spending, like 50 euro on candy!
  • Arc de Triomf // so gorgeous, perfect spot for photos.
  • Museu Picasso // fascinating museum full of Picasso’s masterpieces
  • La Barceloneta // beach neighborhood. Delicious paella!
  • Passeig de Gracia // luxury shops and shopping district

Where To Eat in Barcelona

There are so many amazing places to eat in Barcelona, narrowing down the list is hard. Since you’re in Spain, really, you MUST get paella and try some tapas! Remember that everyone eats super late in Spain. Mostly because at 9pm it’s still broad daylight outside. Chocolate and churros is THE thing, you HAVE TO HAVE TO HAVE TO try some! If you swing by a grocery store, make sure you stock up on chocolates… I’m obsessed with Kinder and Milka! Here are a few recos:

We spent two days in Barcelona and then headed off to Rome. I think Barcelona was almost everyone’s fave stop on our trip. I love it, but I also love Italy, so… I can’t pick faves!

What I Wore in Barcelona

When I was picking out my outfit for Barcelona, I KNEW that I wanted to wear this pom pom off the shoulder top. I literally had a vision of myself wearing it at the top of Park Guell, with the city and mosaic wall in the background. (I KNOW, that’s so lame right? LOL!) The top is one size fits all, which sounds weird, but ended up being perfect! It’s actually really easy and comfortable and with it’s $22 price tag? An amazing bargain. Sold.

I had also envisioned myself in these amazing earrings, that I basically wore 90% of the trip. (They’re so perfect, right?) They had sold out before, then were restocked, and sold out again. Keep an eye on them, because I’m sure they’ll be back. You can also always go in-store and ask for them to track you down a pair!

Barcelona is so whimsical and colorful, I wanted something that matched its energy. I paired the top with these cutoff jean shorts, since it was very literally 100 degrees and I needed to keep the look cool. Walking around all day meant that I definitely NEEDED to wear some comfy shoes. I bought these sandals, like, two years ago and I still wear them ALL THE TIME. (I guess other people like them too because they’re STILL in stock!)

On our trip, we ended up walking 97 miles over a period of 14 days. (According to my sister’s Fitbit!) There were lots of uphill climbs so comfortable shoes were key. I really WANTED to wear these pom pom sandals, but while they’re adorable, they’re not the MOST comfortable for 12 hours of walking. I had also ordered these, but when i received them, they didn’t fit! (They’re only whole sizes… if you get them, size UP not DOWN, which was what I did!) There wasn’t time to exchange, sadly.

Check out pics from the trip below! My favorite part? Park Guell. (AKA MY VISION! LOL!)

Pom pom off the shoulder top in Barcelona.

What to wear in Barcelona: pom pom off the shoulder top and major earrings.

 
Park Guell in Barcelona Barcelona Travel Diary: what to wear.


Outfit Details


Top: c/o Shein || Shorts: H&M || Sandals: Target || Earrings: Baublebar (sold out but you can track them down in-store!) || Bag: Rebecca Minkoff (similar style same color, same style other colors || Sunnies: c/o Fantaseyes


Barcelona Travel Diary (12 of 16)

Barcelona Travel Diary (7 of 16) Barcelona Travel Diary (8 of 16)View of Barcelona from the top of Park Guell.St. Josep La Boqueria mercado in Barcelona.Macarons and goodies at the St Josep la Boqueria mercado in Barcelona. St Josep de Boqueria mercado in Barcelona St Josep de la Boqueria mercado in BarcelonaBarcelona has everything-- trees, beaches, city, mountains.Where to eat in BarcelonaPark Guell in Barcelona


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Thanks so much for reading! I can’t wait to hear what you think! Have you been to Barcelona? What are your fave places? Any great tips? Let me know in the comments! xo, Stephanie

Travel Essentials: What To Pack In Your Carry On Bag

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Travel Essentials - What to Pack in your Carry OnHappy Monday, girls! Did you miss me?? Taking a few weeks off to refresh, recharge, and refocus my content was MUCH needed, and I hope you gals will forgive me for being so silent. I had an AMAZING trip with my family, we had SUCH a great time in Spain and Italy, and I am so excited to share my trip with you here on the blog over the next couple of weeks. I’ll be sharing my travel diary and tips on traveling in some of my favorite cities in the world. Before we get started, let me know in the comments WHAT you’d like to know about!

Of course, first thing’s first. Before getting into the nitty gritty of the trip, I absolutely had to share my travel essentials, namely, WHAT to pack in your carry on bag to survive a long flight.

By the way– here’s what I wore on the flight! This jersey swing dress is SO COMFORTABLE. It was perfect for the long flight, basically like wearing pjs, but polished and put together.

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SHOP: Dress here || Sandals here || Suitcase from TJ Maxx || Backpack here || Crossbody from Kate Spade Outlet || Necklace here
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Festival Inspired Flat Iron Waves

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How to get waves using a flat iron If you didn’t know, festival style is officially a full-blown THING. It’s become a whole category of fashion and beauty in and of itself, which I think is amazing and cool. The fun thing about festival style is how easy, free, and effortless it comes off as. While I’m not necessarily the head-to-toe quintessential boho chic festival gal, I have definitely taken some cues from festival style in terms of fashion and beauty, especially in the summer. (lace, fringe, shaggy denim cutoffs, gladiators and the like.) But mainly… flower crowns.

Truth be told, I’ve never met a floral crown I don’t like. I SO love that they’re completely acceptable as an accessory these days! My friend Christy from Crowns by Christy makes THE MOST AMAZING ones, btw. Fresh or faux, she’s your girl. Flower crowns are probably the first thing I think when I think festival style. So, when my friends at ghd asked me to use their limited edition ghd Azores collection flat iron to create a hairstyle inspired by festival style, I immediately knew that meant easy beach waves and a flower crown to top it off.

ghd is probably my favorite hair tool brand. I have the rose gold blow dryer which is AMAZING and I highly recommend! I also use their curling iron, which heats up in a jiff and is fabulous. When they sent over the flat iron, I was in love. (I was particularly impressed with the pretty, heat-resistant pouch and the little cap that keeps it covered… weird, I know!)

I had never really been able to master the flat iron wave. I found it confusing, difficult and… I don’t know. But, after playing with the ghd Azores collection flat iron, I am proud to announce that I finally mastered it and… it’s way easier than I thought! I love the idea of using the flat iron to create waves instead of my curling iron. This summer, I’m traveling all over the place and it’s been so much easier to just throw in one hair tool instead of two. (Plus, heaven knows I need the extra space for shoes!)

Tips For Getting Festival Inspired Waves with a Flat Iron

  1. Apply your favorite heat protecting spray.
  2. Hold your flat iron vertically, pointing down.
  3. Clamp the iron on your hair and wrap the hair around the iron once away from your face.
  4. While your hair is clamped, flip the flat iron over 360 degrees.
  5. Run the iron down your hair and release.
  6. You’ll have a tight wave! When you’re done, shake it out and comb out the waves with your fingers.
  7. Spray with your favorite hairspray for hold.
  8. Top with a flower crown! (optional, but recommended!)

GHD azores hair styler how to get flat iron waves how to get flat iron waves how to get beach waves with a flat iron wavy hair style flower crown hairstyle

Thanks so much for reading! Tell me in the comments: how do you feel about festival style? Also: have you ever done a flat iron wave?

xo, Stephanie

Disclosure: I was sent the ghd Azores Collection Hair Styler by Best British Bloggers in exchange for this post. All opinions and ideas are, as always, my own. 

What I Wear to Work

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Modcloth Workwear-2


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Modcloth Workwear-3

When you work from home, the whole… “what to wear to work” thing can get tricky at times. Sometimes, you have to really force yourself to get up, make your bed, get dressed, and have a normal, productive workday. If I’m being honest, there are totally days where I’m just in PJs until 6 pm and then I feel like a total and complete slob… and completely NON-PRODUCTIVE. Getting dressed makes a HUGE difference in how you feel and I find that how much I can get done often depends on how I look/feel. If I feel put together, confident, and presentable.

Because of that, I really try to make the effort to put together easy, effortless looks that are comfy. When my friends at ShopStyle and ModCloth asked me to put together a great workwear look, I was totally sold. ModCloth is a great resource for affordable, ladylike, on-trend styles, and an ideal place to snag some great work-appropriate pieces.

A shirtdress is really a perfect example– it’s still polished and chic but I feel comfortable sitting at my computer all day, running to a lunch date, or (let’s be honest) watching JUST ONE episode of OITNB on Netflix during a mini lunch break.

I love the dark maroon shade of this shirtdress from ModCloth! Dark red is a great color and I love pairing it with cognac and gold pops.

If you’re more into mixing and matching tops and bottoms, there are some really great pieces definitely check out this section and this section!

These heels are so comfortable and so pretty! I love them, they’re great paired with dresses or even a cropped jean. To be honest, I honestly kick off my heels when I work, but I usually slip out for a lunch date or a coffee, so I like to feel polished. There are some other really great shoe options at ModCloth, perfect for work here.

This marble necklace is my new favorite jewelry piece… I think it would be so cute with jeans and a white tank! Wearing an easy, light necklace makes me feel instantly dressed up, with minimal effort.

Since I work a lot from my phone, posting on Instagram, scheduling tweets, shooting off emails while I’m out and about, a cute phone case is an essential! I love this flamingo case!

Check out my look below!
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Outfit Details


Dress: JANTEX INTERNATIONAL LIMITED Kheer to Join Us? Dress in Masala  c/o ModCloth
Necklace: Ali Khan Rock and Key Necklace  c/o ModCloth
Shoes: Legend Footwear Inc Wrapped Around Your Linger Heel  c/o ModCloth
Phone case: Lenntek Corporation Call Wading iPhone 6/6s Case  c/o ModCloth


Thank you to Shopstyle and Modcloth for sponsoring this post. Everything worn was chosen by me and all opinions expressed are, as always, my own. Thank you for supporting the brands who support A Sparkle Factor! 

xo, Stephanie

Nordstrom Anniversary Sale Favorites

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Happy Anniversary Sale! Today is the day we’ve been waiting for, girl. The Nordstrom Anniversary Sale opens today for Early Access! I’ve been perusing the catalogue for weeks, but seriously set my alarm for 4am so I could be the first to peek at the sale. (And round up all the very best for you, of course!) I’ve picked out my very favorite pieces and let me tell you– there are some AMAZING FINDS. A few I wanted to call out:

  • The Tory Burch riding boot? Only $299. (Better get ’em while you can, they go up to $495 in August! But they always sell out before then!)
  • This Rebecca Minkoff bag is SO amazing and on sale for $236. (Full price: $355) Available in black and wine, can’t even decide which is better. JK, it’s black.
  • These Steve Madden boots are a fab Stuart Weitzman ‘Highland‘ dupe. Better scoop it up ASAP because they’ll probably sell out like the other style they did last fall!
  • Buying these Adidas for Spain and Italy. They’re only $59.95!
  • Can’t even believe the sale price on the Dior ‘So Real’ sunnies! HOW ARE THEY EVEN ON SALE?

Shop some of my favorites below. Hover over the plus sign for shopping details and click it to go straight to the product page!


#NSale: Best Pants



#NSale: Best Tops



#NSale: Best Outerwear + Sweaters



#NSale: Best Dresses + Rompers



#NSale: Best Accessories



#NSale: Best Bags



#NSale: Best Shoes



#NSale: Best Beauty



I’m headed to the mall at 10am to shop ’til I drop. Make sure you follow along on Snapchat (username: stephaniepernas) to see! I’ll follow up with a little haul early next week. In the meantime, HELLO, are you signed up for a Nordy card?! Early Access is for cardholders only. If you don’t want a credit card, which I get, you should DEFINITELY sign up for the debit card. (I have the debit card!) You get all the same perks and benefits. You definitely want to shop early access, because by the time general access opens in August, all the best stuff is GONE. If you want more info on the Nordstrom Anniversary sale, what it is, how to shop it, make sure you check out this post. Shop my fave clothing here, fave accessories here, and fave beauty here. What do you think of the sale this year? What are you buying? I’d love to hear, tell me in the comments!

xo, Stephanie

Little Leopard Dress

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Mint Julep Boutique leopard slipdress-2


Outfit Details


Dress: c/o Mint Julep Boutique || Shoes: Chinese Laundry || Bag: Kate Spade from the Kate Spade Outlet at Sawgrass Mills Mall, similar here and here || Necklace: Baublebar || Ring: Baublebar || Earrings: c/o Taudrey


It. Is. HOT. No kidding, I shot this look with my makeup melting off my face and sweat dripping down my back… TMI? In the dead of summer, I find myself gravitating towards loose, easy dresses. They’re really the best way to beat the heat! I don’t even want to think about how hot it’s going to be next week in Spain and Italy!! (EEK! I can’t believe our trip is almost here! SO MUCH TO DO…) I’m running around like crazy this week, shopping, packing, and basically getting everything in order for our trip next week. SO STRESSED OUT! Miami Swim Week also kicks off tomorrow and I haven’t quite decided what I’m going to check out yet… stay tuned!

My friends at the Mint Julep Boutique sent over this pretty little leopard number last week and it’s the perfect summer dress! (It even has POCKETS!) The print is just bold and fun… two of my favorite qualities in a print, let’s be real.

This Baublebar choker necklace is my new favorite! It’s so simple and chic… totally cool and girly at the same time. I’m loving it and it’s been on major repeat lately!

These block heel laceups are SO comfortable and I love them! I highly, highly recommend them! Check out my look below:
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By the way– there’s a BIG giveaway running right now on Instagram! Check it out here. The prize? It’s GOOD, you want to enter!! Good luck.

Thanks for reading! xo, Stephanie

Friday Favorites: Vol. 9

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Friday Favorites

Happy Friday! This short week, for some reason, felt long and weird to me! Honestly, planning our trip to Spain and Italy has been totally stressing me out, but I’m so excited! It’s definitely no easy feat trying to find hotels and Airbnb’s for 5 people in Europe! We finally have all of our hotels booked, so that’s kind of a huge relief. Working on itineraries now, restaurants, etc. If you have any reco’s for Madrid, Barcelona, Florence, Rome, or Venice, let me know! I can’t believe our trip is in less than 2 weeks! Did I mention how excited I am? LOL!

Going to spend this weekend trying to get organized… starting to pull together outfits, do some cleaning, work on blog stuff. I’d love to know what sort of content you’d like to see related to the trip! City guides? Travel diary? Travel essentials? Let me know in the comments!

Favorite Posts This Week

Sharing all about eyelash extensions… my new obsession! Seriously, eyelash extensions have changed my LIFE.

Everything you need to know about the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale and how to get your strategy ready.

A Few Random Favorites

Picked up this $12.99 top at the opening of the new H&M at the Galleria Mall yesterday. Can’t wait to wear it in Italy! (By the way, did you see it all on Snapchat? It was so good to see my boo Kristin! We toured the store and did some private shopping before it opened, so much fun!)

Also had spotted this cute romper (very FSU, no?) but didn’t buy it… should I have?

For you blondies: I’ve been using this purple shampoo since I colored my hair a few weeks ago, and it’s been amazing! I highly recommend it to keep your blonde fresh.

Perusing espadrilles for Spain… currently on the hunt for the perfect shoes. I’ll keep you posted.

My favorite denim skirt is on mega sale for $28 at Saks, so I ordered the light wash as well!

Favorite Weekend Sales

  • Ann Taylor // up to 60% off sale styles // 40% off tops
  • Banana Republic // up to 40% off select styles // extra 50% off sale
  • Bloomingdale’s // extra 40-50% off sale
  • J. Crew // end of season sale: extra 40-60% off final sale styles w/ code: SALETIME
  • J. Crew Factory // extra 50% off clearance styles w/ code: CLEARIT
  • LOFT // 40% off sweet styles // extra 50% off sale styles
  • Lord & Taylor // 3 day sale: 20% off regular price
    + sale items w/ code: LTLOVE
  • Macy’s // one day sale: 75% off women’s shoe clearance, 50% off juniors, 25-40% off women’s dresses, 30-50% off clearance handbags, tons more sales.
  • Nine West // extra 30% off all sandals
  • Old Navy // 25% off adult styles w/ code: ENJOY

HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND! Thanks for reading!

xo, Stephanie

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