July 20, 2016

a beautiful sea.

This past Saturday was one of my favorite Saturdays in a while. A few months ago, Drew and I made a day date out of driving up to Salt Lake City to see a double feature at the Broadway, an independent film theater that is part of the Salt Lake Film Society (SLFS). We are big supporters of the SLFS and love that we get the treat to see some great indie flicks that don't always make it down to Provo. We figured we'd have to do it again once all of the Sundance favorites began trickling into select theaters. So on Saturday, we did just that! The day started with Sing Street, then we tried out the new Nordstrom Grill for dinner, finishing off with a late night viewing of Swiss Army Man. I'm still thinking about both movies, so I felt the need to share the goodness over here!

Sing Street is officially my new favorite movie of 2016. It's the kind of movie I could watch over and over again, and I can't think of anyone who wouldn't enjoy it. It's the perfect amount of happy sad. The characters are lovable and hilarious: teenage boys without the teenage angst, who would do anything for their ~art~. And don't even get me started on the music here. When we discussed the movie over dinner, Drew said that it was exactly the kind of movie he wants to make one day. He's always said that if (when!!) he makes a movie, he wants it to be either set in the 80's, or have a score of all 80's music. I've been listening to the soundtrack non-stop since Saturday. The songs that weren't originally written for the movie (all of which are brilliant and incredibly catchy) include the hits of Duran Duran, A-ha, The Cure, and more. What's not to love?? I can't rave about this movie enough! So go watch it now!

"Maybe you're living in my world. I'm not living in yours. You're just material for my songs." 
 "The problem is, you're not being happy sad. That's what love is, Cosmo. Happy sad." -Raphina

Swiss Army Man was a totally different story. I hesitate to recommend this to everyone because it caused quite the stir at the Sundance premiere, with several people actually walking out of the theater throughout the movie. So yes, it's weird. It's downright disgusting at times. But it's also tender, beautiful, and magical. In summary, Daniel Radcliffe's lifeless body brings Paul Dano's character, a suicidal castaway, back to life. It's unlike anything I've ever seen, and most people agree that it's impossible to categorize. It's a heartwarming story of life and friendship, told in the most imaginative, demented, and visionary way possible. Again, the music is what's really selling it to me! The story dips in tandem with the phenomenal compositions by Manchester Orchestra's Andy Hull and Robert McDowell, with Paul and Daniel helping along with the sound effects in the most hilarious ways. It's the kind of movie that you still think about and talk about with those who watched it with you. So please, if you do venture to see this, let's discuss!

Manny: "You want to go home so you can have love, but you ran away because nobody loves you."
Hank: "Shut up! You can't just say everything that comes into your head, that's bad talking!"

"Before the Internet every girl was a lot more special." -Hank

"If my best friend hides his farts from me then what else is he hiding from me, and why does that make me feel so alone?" -Manny
^^the kind of disturbing yet real questions that really make you think !

Both soundtracks are now on Spotify so I recommend that you 1. Go watch both movies and then 2. Proceed to listen to the soundtracks for a good time! 
I love movies and I love the SLFS so much. I owe it to the fact that I married a huge film buff who has given me an even greater appreciation for the art of filmmaking. I'm trying to make this a thing to write more movie reviews on here, so we'll see how it goes!

June 2, 2016

the city of love & lights

Originally, our plan was to spend one full week in Iceland and the second week in London. But after a little bit of arm-twisting, I convinced Drew that we should cut our time in London a little short to hop on over to Paris for three days because, IT'S PARIS. And it's safe to say that it was totally worth it!
For every person out there who thinks Paris is overrated, there are thousands who will tell you it really is amazing. I am now happy to report that I am one of those thousands! It's the most fawned over city in the world and is known as both 'The City of Love' and 'The City of Lights' for a reason! (hence this blog post title, because I looked it up and I guess both are equally valid nicknames). Many people think it's not worth the hype, but I disagree. Sure, there were things I didn't love about Paris like the insane crowds and the outdated Metro, but the city made it up to me with the stunning architecture, rich history, beautiful museums, and THE FOOD.
Because we only had three days, we really had to make those days count! After dropping off our things at the cuuutest AirBnB, our first stop was Musée d'Orsay. This museum was especially cool because the building itself used to be a train station and was later converted into a museum. It is home to the largest collection of impressionist and post-impressionist pieces in the world, so I loved seeing the familiar works of Monet, Manet, Van Gogh, Degas, Renoir, and Cézanne, just to name a few! After wandering around d'Orsay for a while, we walked along the Seine and marveled at Notre-Dame Cathedral. After a quick nap at our apartment, we headed back into the central city once it was dark outside to climb up Arc du Triomphe, which boasts of the most stunning view of Paris at night. It truly was magical, and despite our best efforts and SPRINTING up to the top, we made it in time to see the Eiffel Tower sparkle for only a few seconds (it does so every hour on the hour for five minutes). So, we decided to leave Triomphe a little earlier to get prime seats right at the base of the tower in time for the next hour. I know Paris is full of these kind of clichés, but it really was the one of the most magical and romantic moments of my life to see the dazzling display of lights on the Eiffel Tower in person. I was so happy to be experiencing it with my sweet husband! <3
Day two was a marathon day, starting off with a visit to Musée du Louvre. That place honestly overwhelmed me with both its grandeur and amount of tourists. It was so massive that I would need to devote at least a full week to see everything on display. We only had a few hours but managed to see some of my favorite highlights: Winged Victory of Samothrace, Venus de Milo, Psyche Revived by Cupid's Kiss, Dying Slave, Great Sphinx of Tanis, and Mona Lisa.
After the Louvre we got lunch in the Tuileries Garden, followed by a visit to my favorite museum of the entire trip: Musée de l'Orangerie. I loved how small and secluded this museum felt, especially compared to the insanity that was the Louvre. It didn't take long to go through the entire museum, which was conveniently located in the west corner of the Gardens. My favorite part was the eight gorgeous Water Lilies murals by Monet on the ground floor. They are housed in two large, white, oval rooms with each one spanning the distance of each of the walls. It was so peaceful just sitting there and admiring those masterpieces, I could've done so for hours. But I didn't, and following the museum we did some more sight-seeing at the Paris opera house Palais Garnier and Sacré-Cœur Basilica.

As I mentioned before, one thing that made Paris so wonderful was all the delicious food. We ate French onion soup, crêpes and crème brûlée at a cafe by the Eiffel Tower, baguettes, croissants, éclairs and beignets at street corner boulangeries, the best gelato of my LIFE in the Tuileries Gardens, and macarons from Ladurée. My favorite meal of the whole trip was dinner in the Marais at the world famous L'As du Fallafel. Shout-out to my foodie friend Emily for recommending this place because I am still thinking about that meal. If you ever find yourself in Paris, please go for me! It is 2DIE4.
On our last day, we took the train to Versailles to spend the day exploring the grounds and the palace. This was one of my most highly anticipated days of the whole trip. I even made Drew watch Sophia Coppola's Marie Antoinette with me a few weeks before we left so we were both equally as pumped to see the extravagance of Versailles in person. And let me tell you, it did not disappoint. Everything about that place can only be described as ornate, ostentatious, and over-the-top. I loved every bit of it! From the massive palace itself, to the gardens, Grand Trianon, Petit Trianon, and the Queen's Hamlet, the entire tour of Château de Versailles was so dreamy and so much fun!
It was, as you can imagine, very bittersweet to be leaving Paris and Europe in general. I had the most amazing two weeks with the coolest travel buddy ever. It's safe to say that traveling with your husband is the very best arrangement. Especially if said husband has a great sense of direction, becomes super friendly and chatty with all of your AirBnb hosts while you nap in the other room, knows how to budget the cash when you keep switching monetary systems, puts up with you complaining about tourists/the weather/walking all day, watches The OC with you every night (Icelandic Netflix > American Netflix), reluctantly becomes your Instagram husband, and takes the siiiickest film pictures for you both to enjoy and to later post on all of your obnoxious blog posts. I love being married to the perfect travel companion and I'm stoked that we have the rest of our lives to explore all the many countries we want to visit together!

For those of you still following along here on my annoying travelogue, here's a lil video that I put together from our trip. This is important because even though Drew is the actual professional around here, I did this (mostly) all by myself! As pathetic as it is to be impressed by myself for making it since it's not even that well done, I totally am. And it was a lot more fun than I thought it would be, so this probably won't be my last ;)
ICYMI: stories and pictures from Iceland and London can be found here and here. Thanks so much for reading!

May 26, 2016

winning london

If you do not understand the reference from this blog title, please educate yourself on the cinematic brilliance that is the Olsen twins' filmography from 1998-2002 (this movie in particular) before reading. I will wait.

I had high expectations for the city of London because everyone I talked to told me how much I would LOVE it since it has so many things that they knew I loved. And folks, y'all were right!! So kudos to you. 
On our first night in the city, we party crashed the BYU Film study abroad's festivities at the British Film Institute (BFI) and walked around South Bank to enjoy the stunning views of the city lit up at night. My favorite part was walking across the Millennium Bridge (the Death Eater bridge) to see St. Paul's Cathedral. Simply beautiful! Drew did this same study abroad with the film program two summers ago, so thankfully he knew his way around the city well enough to map out our five days here. I honestly would have died on this trip without him-- or at least gotten lost a dozen times due to my lack of any sense of direction--so thanks, boo. 

The first full day consisted of my most highly anticipated event of the entire trip: the Harry Potter Warner Bros. Studio Tour !!! I could honestly write an entire post solely about this day, but who wants to read that?! (But like, if you're thinking to yourself 'um me, I'm also a huge Potterhead,' then holla @ me and I will totes write one 4 u). All I will say is that it was magical and amazing and everything I dreamed of. If you also consider yourself a huge fan of the series, make it a priority to visit this place at least once in your life. This may sound dumb (and it definitely sounds dumb if you don't even like HP...I'm sorry but who are you and why are you here get out), but I seriously left that place confident that YES the wizarding world is real YES Harry Potter is real YES MAGIC IS REAL, YOU GUYS. The end. 
^^OKAY BUT THIS ?!? So. Many. Emotions.
I don't want to post a ton of pictures so it remains somewhat of a surprise for those of you who are planning to go! But I will leave you with these because I think they encapsulate my feelings fairly accurately: 
This is no exaggeration, I actually started crying. And now this is officially the end of my HP nerd ramble.

Day two started off with a visit to the National Gallery, the first of many amazing museums in the city. The National Gallery had the most gorgeous architecture and we saw the works of J.M.W. Turner (like the Skyfall painting), plus the famous Arnolfini Marriage. Our next stop was Covent Gardens where we picked up a box of Ben's Cookies and proceeded to eat most of it at Green Park. Then, the trifecta of sight-seeing: Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, and Big Ben. If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen that I met a certain heartthrob known as Uncle Jesse at Westminster Abbey. After all the amazing things I did/saw on my trip, this is still the one event everyone is asking me about. It was such a funny 10 minute spectacle of me silently stalking John Stamos from afar contemplating if it was really him, until I finally walked up and asked for a picture. We even bonded over the fact that both his girlfriend and I are Filipina. And yes, he is just as charming as you'd imagine. Have mercy.
That evening Drew, Lauren (one of our dear friends who was on the study abroad!) and I dined at Dishoom, home to some of the best Indian food I have ever eaten. Afterwards we walked over to Piccadilly Circus to watch Les Misérables at the Queen's Theatre !!! If you know me at all, you know that this is my all-time favorite musical. I'm not even a big musical theater buff, but something about Les Mis makes me lose all chill. I was so happy that Drew managed to find us cheap tickets two days before. I had the best time, cried over the same parts I always cry at, and left singing all my favorite songs on the way home.
Here's another fun tweet that gives you an idea of what my opinion of the show was, since we didn't take any pictures that evening. I am crazy but now Drew understands my obsession after watching a live performance, so it's not a total turn-off anymore ;)

Another day, another museum. On day three we started off at Tate Modern and saw Duchamp's Fountain, Warhol's Marilyn Diptych and Guerrilla Girls, Lichtenstein's Whaam!, a few Picasso's, and so many other amazing contemporary pieces. After walking around South Bank again, we wandered over the the British Museum to see the famous Elgin marbles. I finally ate some fish & chips which were decent but not life-changing, and then we headed back over to Shakespeare's Globe Theatre to try our luck with getting tickets for that night's sold-out performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream. Luckily we were the first ones in the returns line and some kind soul even gave us a ticket for free! £5 and two hours later we were standing front row center for the play. The actors were so talented and I was crying from laughing so hard! I loved how interactive they were with audience members, and being so close to the stage made it all the more dramatic and memorable.

*The following are all iPhone pictures since I guess we didn't really take too many great film pictures this day lolwoops*
On our last full day in London, we checked off the remainder of the must-do's on my list: ate brunch at Portobello Market, roamed the colorful streets of Notting Hill (sadly didn't see Hugh or Julia though), window shopped at Harrod's (in true Elizabeth and Annie James fashion), strolled through Hyde Park, and marveled at Royal Albert Hall and The Albert Memorial. For our last meal in the city, Drew took me to Churchill Arms, his favorite restaurant from his study abroad. It is the coolest looking English pub with plants and flowers climbing all around the inside and outside of the building. The best part? It was actually a pub/Thai restaurant combo. It didn't really make sense to me, but it didn't have to once Thai food was involved.

*A mixture of film photography and iPhone photography*
London was exciting, dreamy, entertaining, and everything I hoped it would be. One day I will return so I can visit more museums, see more shows, spend more time in the countryside outside of the city, and eat five more boxes of Ben's Cookies. The next morning we took a train to Paris for the last stop on our trip :)/:( You can bet I have dozens more pictures and stories to share so stick around if you're not sick of me yet!

May 22, 2016


48 hours after we received our BYU diplomas, Drew and I peaced out for our highly anticipated Tekulve Post-Grad European Extravaganza 2k16! It's especially fun for me to share these pictures because Drew brought along his Nikon FG and I was so excited to see how the film developed. With the exception of using our phones for videos and a few pictures (for the gram), the rest of the trip was captured on film and I am so glad that it was! I was even inspired by a few friends to throwback to the 90s-early 2000s and brought three disposable cameras--including one of those funky waterproof ones!--to use myself. And I don't regret it! There were a few that didn't develop that well (or even at all), but that's the fun of it. The images may turn out quirky, incidental, and grainy, but each one is full of so much personality. And that's the point!
We first spent six glorious days in Iceland, or Ísland, as you say in Icelandic. We have been dreaming of going to Iceland for quite some time now, and even took an Icelandic 101 class last fall semester. Partly just to take a class together before we graduated, and partly because we knew we wanted to travel to this beautiful country one day.
Our first day was spent exploring downtown Reykjavík and it is just the cutest little city! I got a lot of Georgetown vibes from all of the colorful townhouses lining the streets. We marveled over one beautiful building after the next: Hallgrimskírkja, Fríkirkjan, Harpa, Perlan, and so on. There's also tons of street art all over the city, ranging from hardcore graffitied walls to those cute murals pictured above. Between the stunning architecture, cleanliness, and friendliness of the people there, it didn't take long for me to fall in love with Reykjaviík! 
Day two consisted of visiting the famous Blue Lagoon. This geothermal spa is fed from the water run-off of a nearby geothermal power plant and is rich in silica and sulfur, which gives it that gorgeous opaque-blue color. One thing I love about Iceland is how environmentally friendly it is as a country. Not only is it so clean over there, (I literally saw zero pieces of trash on the streets the entire week) but they are big on renewable energy and preserving the natural beauty of the land, while still managing to harness it for other purposes. I found it all so fascinating! Much like a lot of the buildings in Iceland, the Blue Lagoon facility's design was so sleek and modern. We definitely enjoyed our Treat Yo Self 2016 day here, mud masks and all!
In my opinion, the only way to see this country in all of its glory is to road trip it. We rented the cutest little Suzuki Jimny for the whole week and drove all over the country. Well okay, not all over the country, but sometimes it felt that way because we drove a LOT. The landscape is unREAL and you can drive for 50+ miles of mountains, valleys, and farms without even seeing another person. And when you do, it's in a teeny town that consists of maybe 10 buildings with nothing else around it for another 50 miles. It doesn't come as a shock at all that so many movies are shot here, because the scenery is second to none. I finally get it, Jbiebz. It was all so beautiful I'll never get over it. Our third day was definitely my favorite day in Iceland, as we ventured along the southern coast to stay in the tiny beach town of Vík. It probably took us double the amount of time to drive there because we stopped on the side of the road to take pictures every 15 minutes.
After dropping off our bags at an adorable little hostel in Vík, we hit one incredible landmark after another. From the breathtaking waterfalls Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss, to the wreckage of the U.S. Navy aircraft DC-3 on the black sand beach of Sólheimasunder, to the basalt columns of the Reynisfjara shore, southern Iceland was unlike anything I had ever seen before. Sometimes I felt like I was on a different planet!
After saying goodbye to Vík, we drove back up north through the Golden Circle and stayed in the little village of Flúðir. The Golden Circle is a driving route that loops from Reykjavík into central Iceland and back which has been made popular since it hits a few major landmarks in the southwest. The first of which was Geysir, which as you may have guessed from the name, consists of a gigantic geyser that erupts up to 70m high every 15 minutes or so. Up next was probably one of the most impressive sites I have ever seen: Gulfoss. It translates to "Golden Falls," and is so immense and beautiful that pictures don't even do it justice! 
The next day was probably one of the low points of the trip. I say that only because it just consisted of driving. All day long. On unpaved roads. Those roads are no joke, and even though we were in that trusty little 4WD, it was still the bumpiest and and most treacherous drive. Our final destination was Látrabjarg: the largest bird cliffs in Europe, located on the westernmost point of Iceland. To get there you have to drive along the Westfjords for several hours. Despite the dangerous drive, the scenic views from the car and from the top of the cliffs once we finally arrived made it all worth it!
Leaving Iceland was so bittersweet. I already miss the inspiring beauty of the scenery, the 15 hours of sunlight, and feeling like at some points, we had the whole country to ourselves. I was so entranced by this magical land and will definitely find my way back. However, my sadness was over pretty quickly because our next stop was London! Stay tuned for more stories and even more pictures from the next leg of our trip!