Browsing Category London

My Travel ABC’s and End of Year Awesomeness

So I know it’s been at least a century since I’ve last posted, but there is plenty good reason for it. You just have to wait until the end of the post. *cue dramatic music*

Last week, I was tagged not once, but twice, by Monica from The Travel Hack and Jaime from Breakaway Backpacker for the Travel Blogger ABC’s. I thought it would be a nice way to recap this previous year, share some awesome photos (all the photos will be from my current trip!) and relive some memories. So without further ado:

A: Age you went on your first international trip:
I took my first international trip when I was 20 years old to study abroad in London. Still one of the more memorable flight experiences, as it was the first time I could legally drink under the age of 21. And you better believe I took advantage!

B: Best (foreign) beer you’ve had and where:
I love all types of beer, but I’m quite partial to cider actually. On my current trip to Europe, I had the most DELICIOUS cider ever called Rekorderlig. It was strawberry-lime flavored and tasted like juice. Love!

C: Cuisine (favorite):
I think anyone that knows me knows that Mexican food is hands down my favorite type of cuisine, ever. Tacos, tortillas, fresh salsa, guacamole, burritos, carne asada, tequila…yeah. Give me all of that. I seriously crave tacos on almost a daily bases, and have splurged and bought avocados while I’ve been in Europe. Italian food comes by in a close second, but give me tacos everyday and I’m the happiest person in the world.


D: Destinations, favorite, least favorite and why:
My favorite destination has to be Paris. There is just something so magical and electric about this city. Everyday, I find a new cafe, new vintage store, candy store, stationary store that just blows me away. And contrary to popular belief, I’ve met some of the nicest, warmest, people in Paris. Then there’s the fact I can walk outside and get a fresh crepe, baguette, chocolate, wine, etc. And the Eiffel Tower is the most gorgeous monument EVER. I never get tired of it. And everytime I see it, I have to take a picture. I swear I probably have about 300 pictures of the Eiffel Tower alone…and it still never gets old.

My least favorite destination has to be Athens. There was just something about that city that turned me off completely. I don’t know if it was the gross men clicking their tongues at me and my friend constantly, all of the dogs, the prostitutes. I will say that the food and shopping was AMAZING…but the overall vibe of the city was disappointing. I’m still eager to give Athens another shot though.

E: Event you experienced abroad that made you say “wow”:
I think watching the sunset on the Greek island of Santorini has been my most amazing travel moment to date. I just stood there in awe…and to this day I look at my pictures and can’t believe I went somewhere so beautiful. I’m dying to go back.

A close second would have to be anytime I see the Eiffel Tower sparking at night. It completely takes my breath away every. single. time.


F: Favorite mode of transportation
:
I’m going to be the first to say that I’m completely obsessed with metro systems. I don’t know what it is about it, but I love the maps, the metro stations, seeing all the different types of trains, the people on the trains, the sometimes entertainment on the trains. The metro system is Paris is so freaking efficient that I sort of want to marry it.

The only problem with the metro is that you’re underground and can’t really see the city. But, I also LOVE taking the bus. Each time you get on a bus, it’s sort of like a mini tour of the city. But I’m obsessed with metros…everywhere!


G: Greatest feeling while traveling:
Sometimes, I have to take a step back and realize that what I’m doing now isn’t the norm. That walking out of my apartment every morning for fresh pain au chocolats isn’t something I can do back in Los Angeles. I’m constantly reminding myself how amazing this world is, and how blessed I am that I am able to see all of the things I’ve seen.

When Johnny and I are walking around at night (our favorite thing to do), we tell each other the 5 things we’ve done that have been awesome. From grabbing gelato in Rome, to late night drinks by the river, the feeling of being so incredible blessed has to be the greatest feeling while traveling.

H: Hottest place you’ve traveled to:
Sadly, I have only traveled to places in the winter (i.e. NYC in March, Studying abroad in London in the winter, this current trip in the winter). So I haven’t been anywhere hot, but I’ve been to NYC when it was about -5 and I cried because it was so cold. It was from then on I realized I don’t know if I could live somewhere as cold as NYC. And yes, Paris is FREEZING, but I think I could still do it…lol!


I: Incredible service you’ve experienced and where:
When I was in London for my 21st birthday, A small Mexican restaurant went above and BEYOND for my party. I was under the assumption that they would just set up an area for us, and that was that, but they actually closed the entire restaurant, decorated it, gave us CRAZY amounts of food and discounted our drinks. It was way more than I imagined, and to this day the best birthday party I’ve ever had.

J: Journey that took the longest:
My plane ride from LAX to London was the longest journey I’ve taken so far. 10. long. hours. And I didn’t stand up the whole time which resulted in my feet swelling to the size where they could barely fit. I know now to stand up and take small breaks.

K: Keepsake from your travels:
Being the avid shopper that I am, I have a lot of momentos from each city I’ve visited. To date, my leather jacket from Turkey and gold jewelry from Athens have been my priciest purchases, but I also like to buy small trinkets. On this trip, I’ve started a travel journal where I’ve kept all of my bus tickets, grocery store receipts, museum tickets, etc, and written little notes about each of them. I’ve been having so much fun collecting everything!


L: Let-down sight, why and where:
ehh..I don’t know if I’ve ever had a let me down site. Everything that I’ve experienced so far has been pretty awesome.

M: Moment where you fell in love with travel:
To be honest, I traveled while I studied abroad, but I don’t think I understood the true magnitude of travel until I was depressed. Looking at all of the travel blogs, photos, and encouraging stories of people fulfilling their dreams pulled me out of the mud and let me know that travel is exactly what I want to do with my life.


N: Nicest hotel you’ve stayed in
:
The nicest hotel I’ve stayed in has to be Hotel Ocean on Ocean Drive in South Beach, Miami. The shower was the size of a bedroom! It was rustic and modern at the same time, really comfortable, and had an amazing view of South Beach. I’ve been dying to go back.

O: Obsession—what are you obsessed with taking pictures of while traveling:
Like I said before, I am obsessed with taking pictures of Metro stations. That, and all the different types of architecture. The buildings in Europe are SO amazing. I have a so many pictures from Paris and Rome alone of apartment buildings and their doors. Love!

P: Passport stamps, how many and from where?
Well, I have less stamps than I should because you don’t get stamped in every country once you’re in Europe. So I have stamps exiting and entering London, Amsterdam, and Greece. But I’ve been to France and Italy, and I will be going to Spain and Portugal.

Q: Quirkiest attraction you’ve visited and where:
Whenever I would drive home from Tallahassee to Alabama when I was in college, I’d always stop by those kitschy little roadside attractions. My favorite one was this giant rooster made from pots and pans.


R: Recommended sight, event or experience:
Eiffel Tower, any time of day. The Vatican Museums, drinking in pubs in London, drinking champagne by the Seine.

S: Splurge; something you have no problem forking over money for while traveling:
FOOD. FOOOOOOOD. FOOOOOOD.
I have no problems whatsoever spending money on good food and wine. In Italy, I damn near lost my mind eating so much. And it was MORE than worth it.

T: Touristy thing you’ve done:
I don’t really know what “touristy” means, especially since I think we’re all tourists. So I would consider going to any major attraction (ex: Vatican, Eiffel Tower, inside of the Colloseum, etc.) to be “touristy”.


U: Unforgettable travel memory:
I will never forget what it was like to step off of the plane for the first time in London. Seeing all of the red phone booths, double decker buses, Big Ben, the London Eye…I’ll never forget that feeling ever in my life. I LOVE the feeling of being somewhere completely new.

V: Visas, how many and for where?
None yet…But I will have one soon! *dramatic drum roll*

W: Wine, best glass of wine while traveling and where?
I’m in the land of wine (aka Europe aka France and Italy), so, it’s really hard to choose when they are ALL amazing. I’m currently drinking an amazing glass of Bordeaux!

X: eXcellent view and from where?:
Santorini, Greece. It’s just breathtaking in every sense of the word. The sunset there completely blew me away.

Y: Years spent traveling?:
I haven’t spent years…Just 5 months in London, 2.5 months currently…and then… *dramatic drumroll* (wait for the end of the post)

Z: Zealous sports fans and where?:
Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida. Tailgating, keg stands, beer pong, flip cup with vodka…yeah. Enough said. (GO NOLES!)


2011 has been a year of crazy ups, downs, ups and downs again. I quit my job, saved money, and decided to travel. My sister is having a baby girl and I was the maid of honor in her wedding. I beat the battle of depression and started to live life my own way. I cried, laughed, cried a lot more, ate a whole lot, then lost a lot of weight. And then I got on a plane to London. I met travel bloggers that I now call friends, (Oneika the Traveler, Toni, Jaime, Ayngelina, Kent and Caanan, Erica and Shaun, Amy and Kieron). Johnny and I celebrated 5 years together. I turned 25. And I’m currently eating chocolate, drinking wine and dancing to Juvenile’s ‘Back that Thang Up’ in the most amazing city in the world (Paris).

Toni, Me, and Oneika in London

And…I have some other amazing news to share with you.

Remember that time I said I was going to teach in S. Korea?

Well…yesterday I officially signed my contract to teach English in South Korea, starting April 5, 2012! I’m moving abroad! It’s all really happening!

The past few weeks have been a big ball of stress. I’ve had to scan documents, make YouTube videos, scan more documents, do Skype interviews…but it finally all worked out. I’m going to be placed in a city about 45 minutes outside of Seoul, and I seriously could not be happier. 2012 is going to be the most amazing year yet! I’m already planning my vacation time.

Thank you all for reading along this past year, following me on this journey and being so supportive. You all helped me when I needed it the most.

Let’s kick off 2012 with a bang! I wish each and every one of you an amazing New Year. 2012 is going to be the start of something fabulous and fierce, and I can’t wait for it!

33 Comments

Seasons Greetings!

Random assorted Christmas pictures from London and Paris. Surprisingly, Rome didn’t have many Christmas decorations…or maybe I just missed them all?  Even though I’m in one of the most amazing cities ever (and even more amazing during the holidays), it still doesn’t feel like Christmas to me. Anyone else have that problem?

I guess that’s the tough part about being a traveler. Either way, Paris is GORGEOUS this time of year. If you’ve never been during the holidays, make sure to come. You won’t regret it. And there’s enough vin chaud for everyone!

Christmas Day, Johnny and I are going to go ice skating at the Eiffel Tower, make dinner, drink champagne, and watch cheesy Christmas movies.

What do you have planned for Christmas? What’s on your Christmas list? I’ve been hinting at Johnny for a bottle of perfume…I’ll let you know the results 😉

Until next time!

16 Comments

Remember that time London always had crappy weather….?

…..Yeah. About that.

I was blessed with the most GORGEOUS weather while I was in London. After studying abroad for 5 months in London, I knew how crappy the weather can be. Gloom, gloom, rain, more gloom, rain, cloudy skies (especially during the fall/winter). Now, I don’t mind London in the rain, as it adds a bit of charm to the city, but being an LA girl, I definitely appreciated the sunlight.

It was still freezing (compared to the 80 degree temps I left in LA), but the sun took a bit of the chill off. Johnny and I rented an apartment by Kensington Gardens, so most of our walks through the city involved going through there and Hyde Park. The fall colors with the bright blue sky were just unbelievable.

It didn’t rain the entire week we were in London. I know, I’m still in shock too, especially because it’s fall. The travel gods were looking down on me, I know it. It definitely made the travel transition a bit easier. And even though the sun sets crazy early in London (like 3:30pm), Johnny and I still enjoyed every minute.

21 Comments

Hidden Gems in London: The Basement Tea Room in Camden

Well, my computer still isn’t working, but I managed to upload all of my pictures to Johnny’s computer, so we are back in business! Still keep your fingers crossed that I can get my computer fixed in Paris!

So, Camden is hands down my favorite part of London. Cheap food, inexpensive clothes, awesome people…it was heaven for me.

Camden is full of unique little nooks and corners. Every turn you take, there was something new to see. Go down a set of stairs and you might find a vintage luggage boutique, or on the canal, a boat bookstore. The Basement Tea Room is no different.

To get to The Basement Tea room, you must first find the Camden Horse Stables. From there, find the set of stairs that go to the toilets, and then follow the signs. You’ll find a magical little vintage trove full of teas, cupcakes, cakes, and other treats.

While we were there, Johnny and I settled for a pot of tea, since we had already stuffed ourselves full of cheap Chinese and Mexican food (more on this later). It was only 2 pounds for an ADORABLE tea setting, and the ambiance to match. Harry, the owner, played Christmas music on an old piano while we sat and chatted. So. freaking. cute.

There’s also an awesome selection of books to choose from, as well as a vintage store that Harry owns as well. It was basically my heaven. If you’re ever in the London area and have a chance to go to Camden, visit The Basement Tea Room!

The Basement Tea Room doesn’t have an official website, but you can check out their Facebook page here.

 

9 Comments

A Stroll through Notting Hill and Portobello Market




London has been nothing short of amazing. I cannot believe the awesome weather we’ve had the whole time we’ve been here. It’s been sunny, bright, and gorgeous the entire time. No rain! It’s a miracle.

We’ve been spending our days walking around without any type of strict agenda, allowing the narrow streets to take us through the city. It’s amazing to just wake up, get dressed, and see where the day takes us. It’s the best way to travel in my opinion. I’m in awe of every little thing: the architecture, the way that bathrooms have full sized doors, the fact there is a pub pretty much on every street, and the amount of different languages you can hear on one corner. At night, after we’ve walked around all day, we usually settle into a cozy pub booth, beers in hand, and reflect over what we’ve seen that day. It’s just been awesome.

In a way, it feels like I haven’t really started traveling yet. Since I lived in London for almost 6 months, it kind of feels like I’m back home. I’m still finding places I’ve never been before though, like Notting Hill and Portobello Market.

But let me tell you, Johnny had to DRAG me out of Portobello Market. Stalls of gorgeous leather bags, antique keys, clocks, vintage books and paintings. My wallet and backpack are thanking me for not buying everything in sight. If you’re ever in London, Portobello Market is a MUST see! I could have seriously spent all day there. Just when you think there isn’t more to see, you turn a corner, and there are even MORE stalls. It was magic. If you love pretty vintage things, you have to go, ASAP. I’m already planning my trip back.

23 Comments