Seaside Holiday

Brighton HeaderHere is a photograph of the pavilion on this gorgeous sunny day!

Let’s back track a little bit (or maybe A LOT) . . .  When my Mum came to visit me during Spring time in London, we decided to take a little weekend trip to Brighton to explore the coastal city and catch some rays along the beach. It was a quick and relatively inexpensive train ride from the centre of London and since the city is so walkable, finding our hotel was pretty straight forward. Luckily I had my mother with me who has a much better sense of direction, which if you’ve been keeping up with my blog, you’ll know that wasn’t a trait that was passed on to me haha. From our experience, the people in Brighton were very friendly and some even struck up a random conversation with us as we were walking to our hotel. The beach is really lovely on a sunny afternoon; however, if you are used to the sandy beaches of California, you may be surprised to find that the beach is more pebbly than anything. Being a Pacific Northwest girl this didn’t bother me at all because we’re pretty used to the rocky shoreline. After settling into our hotel, we took a stroll down the street lined with cute cafes and shops towards the Brighton pier which had the classic 1800’s seaside style. There were lots of people and luckily, the weather held up so we could enjoy a nice evening walk. I loved how vibrant the beach life was with tourists looking at the different seaside attractions, people on holiday basking in the sun, and street performers entertaining a crowd.  Continue reading

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5 Things I Learned in Rome

Things I learned in RomeA Photograph of the roundabout near our hostel in Rome at the top of Via Nazionale.

After reflecting on my trip to Rome, I thought I’d compile a unique list of things that  I learned or wished I’d known before touring around Rome. So here they are . . .

1. Ahhh Choo!-Always have some allergy medication on hand. When it’s nice outside, the pollen in the air is crazy in Rome (at least when we visited) and you don’t want to be sneezing so much that you can’t enjoy what the city has to offer. I wish I would have thought about this before traveling here because my hay fever was off the charts!

2. Sizzling in the Sun-Suncreen is really expensive in Rome! Maybe it’s because people skip the SPF or maybe it’s because it’s so sunny that the shops are sure people will come to purchase some I don’t know, but this stuff will cost you a pretty penny compared to what you’d pay in the States. I’d recommend packing some if you don’t wanna look like a tomato by the end of your trip.

3. Be Careful Where You Look-Whatever you do, don’t even glance at the vendors wandering throughout the city, and it will be difficult because they can be quite persistent when trying to make a sale. It’s like they have a radar or something that thinks you always want to buy something, even if you already have it. When I visited the Colosseum they must have come around about 5 times to ask if I wanted to buy sunglasses when I already was wearing a pair. Gentleman BEWARE-if you are traveling with Ladies, keep away from the rose sellers, they will try and put them in your hand and then afterwards make you purchase them.

4. Bring on the Bubbly-No I’m not talking about Prosecco, although that’s nice too…I’m talking about the San Pellegrino. A whole big bottle of the Aranciata will cost you a little over a Euro. If you’re like me and like a refreshing beverage every once in a while, you’ll know that a can of these in the States is nearly 4 dollars! Make good use of your money and invest in some local treats!

5. Dining in Despar-A trip to the local supermarket will save you some money and get you out of the sun for a little while to cool off. I know Despar isn’t unique to Rome or Italy for that matter, but it’s a great place to pop in for a fresh made salad if you need a little pick me up throughout the day of touring the city. (The Despar right by the Pantheon is our favorite!)

* Bonus! Sight Seeing-The colosseum alone is quite a magnificent sight, but it’s even better with an audio guide. There are lots of free audio guides available through apps if you have a smartphone. Our personal guide of choice on this trip was the Rick Steves’ Europe audio tour which offers tours of lots of popular destinations around Europe for free!

I hope some of these were helpful, if they weren’t at least it only took a few minutes out of your day right? Let me know some of your travel tips for the city in the comments!

Until next time,New blog signature 2

This is What Dreams are Made of

Rome HeaderThe Altare della Patria.

Well, we finally made it to our last destination on this trip, the lovely city of Rome! As I talked about before in my Florence post, I’ve dreamed about going to Italy for a while, and seeing The Lizzie McGuire movie when I was ten only made my urge to hop on a jet plane to Rome even more intense (as cheesy as that may sound). Continue reading

One Ticket to Florence Please!

Florence header 1Why hello there everyone, or should I say ciao! As a girl with a craving for adventure and travel, Italy has been on the top of my list of places to visit for quite a while, so I was so excited to finally have the opportunity to make it to Florence in Tuscany. I think it’s safe to say that by now, Emma and I were craving some warmer weather coming from some areas that were still in the transition between seasons. Continue reading

Vienna Waits For You

Vienna HeaderHere is a photograph of the Hofburg Imperial Palace exterior just before sunset. Isn’t it just gorgeous!

After saying our goodbyes to the city of Prague, we took the train to Vienna, Austria. Despite the beautiful weather reflected in the photograph above, we stepped off of the train into pouring rain. Now coming from the Pacific Northwest, Emma and I are not strangers to heavy downfalls of rain, the problem was that we yet again had trouble figuring out the right directions to get to our hostel. Getting off the metro line in Vienna, we ended up walking about 20 minutes in the wrong direction, so by the time we arrived at the hostel sopping wet, I don’t think we even needed a shower. Continue reading

Czech-ing Out Prague

Prague Header PhotoThe rooftops of Prague taken from the Prague Castle! (Oh and sorry for the totally cheesy blog title, but I couldn’t help myself)

After saying our goodbyes to the city of Berlin, Emma and I boarded the train to Prague in the morning and set off on our next adventure. The train ride was really smooth with beautiful views of the hillsides and rivers along the way. Although we were both really exausted and ready to pass out on the train I managed to stay awake for a little while to soak in the beauty of the countryside. Prague has been on my list of places to visit for quite a while, especially because my Grandmother’s family was from the Czech Republic, and being over in the U.K. this year for Uni, I found it the perfect opportunity to visit. Continue reading

Farewell Amsterdam!

IMG_0439Central Station at night! This was the main hub where we could catch a bus or tram back to our hostel.

Well, our trip had to come to a bittersweet end at some point, but we definitely made the most of our fourth and final day in Amsterdam. After eating a hearty breakfast at the hostel, Emily, Alex and I decided to head out to explore a different part of the city, visit the Begijnhof gardens, and eventually meet up with Christian and Katelyn later. Since we had all accomplished the touristy things on our list that we had wanted to do while visiting the city, we didn’t feel pressure to get to any sites in particular. On the way to the gardens we encountered this guy blowing bubbles in this square near a major shopping district.IMG_0408IMG_0414 IMG_0413

I always love to see what street performers and artists are doing in different cities! Of course some are more entertaining than others, but they always seem to make city life more interesting. The garden took a little while for us to find because it was situated in a residential courtyard located behind a large door in the square. Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to take any photos in the garden, but it was neat to get to walk around such a peaceful area hidden from the main drag of shops. Next, we stopped in a small free museum exhibit at the Amsterdam Museum, which was about five minutes away from the secret garden. One of the art pieces was a carpet composed of several carpet squares corresponding to different countries around the world.

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After our brief museum visit, we headed over to Coffee Company, a local cafe chain in Amsterdam, to meet up with Christian and Katelyn and grab a cup of joe to warm up. We passed another massive square along the way that seemed to attract quite a few tourists.IMG_0427IMG_0433IMG_0432IMG_0293Of course this blog post wouldn’t be complete without a coffee picture! I sprinkled some chocolate on top of my cappuccino and it just happened to form a subtle heart shape.

Once we had all re-fueled and gotten our caffeine boost of the day, we took a tram over to another market along the canal. It was later in the afternoon, so this market wasn’t as busy as the first one we had attended, but it was nice to take a slow walk through the neighborhood. As usual, we ended up at another food place. When we saw the food truck selling frites, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to try the chips in Amsterdam.IMG_0435I guess you could say we liked them ha ha. The cone of frites even came with miniature forks to eat them with!IMG_0437They were nice and crispy and weren’t overly salted.

We made it back to Central Station and stopped at a crepe restaurant for dinner. Although I was tempted to order a savory crepe, I just couldn’t resist the enticing combo of nutella, strawberries, and banana.IMG_0444A picture of Alex’s crepe. My camera died before I could snap a picture of mine.

Following dinner, we decided it would be a smart idea to pick up a few snacks for the long bus ride ahead of us back to London the next morning, so we found the nearest supermarket and made a quick pit stop before heading to the hostel. You would expect it to be just your average mundane trip to the grocery store, but oh no, no, no it definitely was much more than that! After grabbing some crisps, Alex and I went over to pick up some apple sauce near the produce and meat section. That’s when the evening got interesting . . . All of the sudden, I heard the sound of water running in the background so, being the curious person that I am, turned around only to find a middle-aged man peeing in the middle of the aisles in the supermarket!!! Alex’s and my reaction was to get the heck out of that area as soon as possible, I mean we didn’t need the yellow river making its way downstream to where we were standing. Dude, I get that you probably were drunk or on something and needed to go to the loo, but seriously you couldn’t have located the nearest restroom or at least gone out in an alley way? Come on!!! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xVrJ8DxECbg (skip to 1:36 to see what my reaction was like) After Alex and I had evacuated the area to go check out, the guy started following us and saying something in Dutch, but we just avoided him and made our way to find the rest of our group. When one of the supermarket employees had seen the aftermath of the unfortunate event that had gone down, she asked if we could point out the guy. Luckily, Christian was able to track him down and he was taken into custody. Those poor, poor employees that had to clean up the mess though . . . All I can say is that if Cher could really “Turn  Back Time” I wish she could help erase the sight of the man urinating from my mind, which has now unfortunately been singed into my memory. It certainly makes for a crazy story to tell though, it’s not everyday that you are privy to golden showers in a supermarket. By the time all of us were done checking out as quickly as possible, we were definitely ready to go home, take a nice long shower, and relax. It was early to bed for all of us that evening because we had to be up and out of the hostel by 6:30 the next morning to catch our bus.

This time, making it to the bus was hassle-free and we made it back to the parking lot with ample time to spare. Instead of driving onto a ferry to make it over the Channel, we took a train. Here are some photos I took of that experience.IMG_0450IMG_0452IMG_0454

Well that concludes our final day in Amsterdam! I had a fabulous time visiting a new city and I look forward to someday getting to explore the Netherlands during the spring time!

Until next time,New blog signature 2