Early this March I took a quick trip to Los Angeles in honor of my 21st birthday! California is a place that I had been wanting to go to for such a long time because although I’ve been out of the country multiple times, I had never been to the West Coast. Because of work and college classes I couldn’t stay for very long, but during my four days in Los Angeles I was able to do some of the things I had wanted to the most. I would definitely recommend them for anyone who only has a few days to see the iconic city that is LA for the first time!
hollywood walk of fame
I’m one of those travelers that loves seeing famous landmarks, so I was super excited to see the Hollywood Walk of Fame in person! While I wasn’t looking for any celebrity’s star in particular, it was fun to see stars belonging to icons like Michael Jackson, Bob Marley, Will Smith, Madonna, etc. Initially, I was under the impression that the Walk of Fame was its own isolated street that was only used to walk along and look at the stars, so it surprised me to see that it was actually all over the streets of Sunset Boulevard. I can’t guarantee you’ll find any particular star that you’re searching for because they’re scattered so much that it was impossible to see every single one. As we looked at the stars, we passed tons of different stores, restaurants, bars/clubs, theaters, and just lots of various entertainment. If you have extra time to spare, then you’ll definitely find a lot to do in the Sunset Boulevard/Sunset Strip/Walk of Fame area. I highly suggest going while the sun is still out if you want good pictures, since the stars are harder to see at night. Definitely stay for the evening though, because the sunset was so stunning here (maybe why the area is called the Sunset Strip?). I think that visiting the Walk of Fame really captured the cinematic feeling that Hollywood is so well-known for.
Where I ate: I ate at Los Burritos, a Mexican restaurant on Sunset Boulevard. If I’m being honest, I’ve had better Mexican food before. This place wasn’t bad, but it was very mediocre. I ordered a few chicken tacos, but the tacos literally just had chicken and waaay too much cabbage. For authentic Mexican food, there wasn’t much flavor to them, but I did like the rice and beans. The people I traveled with agreed that the food wasn’t anything great. I’m sure there were better places to eat in the area though, but we ate there on a whim instead of doing any research and that doesn’t always work out.
Disneyland & California Adventure
Disneyland and California Adventure aren’t technically in Los Angeles, they’re located in Anaheim which is located right outside of it. Still, these theme parks are definitely something to check out if you’re in the LA area, especially if you have children or just haven’t been to Disneyland before. Being from Florida, I’ve been to Disney World plenty of times, but I still wanted to see what Disneyland would be like and I’d actually like to check every Disney park in the world off of my list someday.
California Adventure was more of a fun experience to me personally because it felt like I was visiting somewhere new, while Disneyland was extremely similar to Disney World, just much smaller (I’ll be writing a detailed post explaining Disneyland vs Disney World soon!). However, if you’ve never been to any Disney park then you should definitely make it a point to visit both. Disneyland is actually the only Disney park in the world that was built directly under Walt Disney’s supervision, making it not only a theme park, but a huge piece of history.
Museum of death
The Museum of Death isn’t for everyone, but if you have a bit of a morbid side then it’s one of those experiences you can’t really get anywhere else. In this museum you can read letters written by serial killers and look at art they created, watch autopsy videos (these are a little hard to watch) and photos including those of JFK and Marilyn Monroe, see exclusive crime scene photos from famous murders like the Black Dhalia and Manson murders, see a severed head, lots of taxidermy, a section all about Heaven’s Gate, and much more. It’s a self guided walking tour, so you have plenty of time to really soak in what you’re seeing because there’s a lot to look at and read about and you’ll definitely learn something new. The way I see it, you’ll either think “What kind of sick person would enjoy going to this?” or you’ll be extremely fascinated or maybe a combination of both. Unfortunately, pictures and videos of any kind are not allowed inside of the museum, so it’s something that you’d really have to go and see for yourself. I personally really enjoyed going here and if you’re into crime shows, horror movies, or anything of that kind of nature then I highly recommend this as something a little different to do is LA.
Venice Beach is another one of those iconic places that you just have to go to during your first visit in LA. Admittedly, the actual beach itself is nothing special. It’s definitely not ugly, but it’s not a beautiful, brightly colored tropical beach either. However, the Venice Beach boardwalk is a place that really captures the culture of Southern California and that’s what really won me over. From getting something to eat and shopping around to getting a tattoo to even seeing if you qualify for a marijuana card (I’m not sure how genuine these booths are by the way), there’s plenty to do just walking along the boardwalk. You’ll also see plenty of people on skateboards, street performers, fortune tellers, musicians, and just all around interesting Californians. This is a place I’d love to go back to.
santa monica pier
The world famous Santa Monica Pier made me kind of wish that I had grown up in California. The Santa Monica Pier is similar to a year-round fair, with its rides, games, and food. Despite being a very touristy area, I found it to actually be a charming place and you can’t beat the beautiful seaside view during the day (at night it gets extremely foggy, though). The only ride I actually got on was the ferris wheel, which gave a perfect view of the whole pier and the beaches surrounding it. Besides food and entertainment, the Santa Monica Pier is also a great place to buy souvenirs. I found the souvenir shops in downtown LA to be a little cliche, but you can get all kinds of cool, vintage California things from stands on the pier. Overall, I’d suggest this place as something to do right after going to Venice beach. The whole area has a really fun, carefree vibe to it!
Where I Ate: I ate at Bubba Gump Shrimp, which is a seafood restaurant inspired by the Forrest Gump movie. This isn’t exclusive to California, but I don’t think there’s really a better way to enjoy a plate of shrimp and a cocktail than with an ocean view at the Santa Monica Pier.
Last but not least, a first time trip to LA is not complete without a visit to the Griffith Observatory! I personally chose to go to the Griffith Observatory to get a good view and pictures of the Hollywood Sign, since this seems to be the easiest way to do it if you’re not a fan of hiking (I’m definitely not). Along with an easy place to get a look at the Hollywood Sign, the Griffith Observatory is also the perfect spot to take in an amazing view of the city of Los Angeles. If you actually go inside of the building, you can look at different exhibits and look through telescopes. Depending when you go, you can even see a live show at the planetarium. Admission to the building and the grounds is completely free, so there’s really no reason not to add this educational and sight seeing experience to your Los Angeles itinerary!
The perfect way to describe Southern California in my opinion is a perfect cross of Florida and New York City, so having lived in both of these states, it almost felt as if I had been there before. Despite this, I was left wanting more, the way I am with nearly every place I’ve visited. There’s still so much of California and even Los Angeles that I haven’t seen (which just means I’ll have to go back someday), but I think that if, like me, you only have a few days to spend in the city of angels, you’ll get a decent taste of it and great memories from visiting everywhere on my list!
Have you been to Los Angeles? How did you spend your time there? Let me know in the comments!
One of the questions college students probably get the most is “What’s your major?” and this is often followed by “Oh, okay…so what are you going to do with that?”. It can be a frustrating thing to answer when your major doesn’t have a set career to go with it. I started college at a university as an English major before transferring to a community college (a long story for another post). During the process of transferring colleges, I wasn’t too sure what I wanted to study anymore. A lot of people had actually brought me down about being an English major, since liberal arts are often seen as a “waste of time” or just assumed I wanted to be a language arts teacher…which I didn’t. I just knew that I wanted to pick a major, transfer from community college to another university, get my degree and move on. I juggled different ideas from psychology to veterinary technology, but I’ve finally come to a solution that I’m comfortable with.
i followed my passion
As corny as it may sound, I followed my heart and decided to choose English again. Why? Well, writing and reading are both things that I’ve always been passionate about and I’m good at both of these things. To be talented in something you really love is a truly amazing thing and I didn’t want this to go to waste. Being an English major was just something that felt natural to me, so I decided f*** what everyone else thinks and went back to it. I’m a firm believer in not letting others dictate your life choices. Sure, some people get the most satisfaction out of a major that pretty much guarantees money, like engineering or medical related subjects. There’s nothing wrong with that, but there’s also nothing wrong with studying an art if that’s what you want to do. A quote that I absolutely love that ties in is “Medicine, law, business, engineering, those are all noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.” (Dead Poets Society). I feel like artistic passion is something that’s belittled in society. As artists, we are always told to think more realistically, to play it safe. We are forced to believe that our role in life is to wake up, go to a 9-5 job that we can barely tolerate, go home, pay bills, and repeat. This is not the life that I want, I want to choose the life that I lead. The first step towards this is making the decisions that I want despite what other people may think. That is why I am proudly and unapologetically studying something that I love.
and here’s what i’m doing with that passion…
Of course, as much as I am a dreamer, I also like to go into things with a plan. I don’t expect to just spend a few years learning about things that I think are interesting and then being clueless about what to do when I graduate. I think anyone can make a career out of any major, you just have to think creatively in some cases. My goal in life is to travel the world no matter what, but I’m hoping to do this by being a full time travel/lifestyle blogger, turn my website into my own little business, and ultimately just be my own boss. I don’t really need a degree for this, but studying English will help me be the best writer that I can be for it. On top of majoring in English, I plan to minor in business so I can have some extra knowledge on the business side of my goal.
These things do take time though, which is why I plan to teach English as a second language in other countries as a way to make some money while traveling and building my blogging business. I don’t plan for teaching abroad to be my long-term career, but I’m super excited to spend a few months to a year in countries all over the world, making a difference in others’ lives while fulfilling my own dreams. I’ll be writing about these plans more in the future, but Japan and South America are definitely on my list! Finally, if I need a break from teaching English in other countries and I’m still working on my blogging career (because I refuse to give up!), I wouldn’t mind working in editing, publishing, or even teaching English as a second language to adults wherever I choose to live. I’d even love to publish a few books. The point is, I don’t feel scared or stuck with an English degree. I’ve already explored plenty of possibilities and I’m happy with them. Maybe what I want isn’t for everyone, but it is my life after all and I’m actually excited for my future.
Moral of the story
Believe me, I know that the decisions you make in your young adult years come with an extreme amount of pressure from other people. Plenty of people that I know have decided to give up whatever dream they were pursuing in order to study a major that would guarantee them a big paycheck. If that’s not what your heart tells you to do, don’t do it! I know that I may never be rich, but as long as I’m comfortable and get to see the world I know I’ll be more than happy. I know that the major I chose is the right one for me. It’s not silly or childish to follow your passions. Other people have succeeded in whatever it is you want to do and that’s because they decided to take a risk and pursue it. The first step you take is one of the most important ones and if you decide that one of these steps is going to college, then my advice to you is to study something that you’re genuinely interested in. Do what you love and the money (and lots of happiness) will follow.
When most people think of travel, planes, cars, trains, and even cruises come to mind. Bus travel is almost never considered as a way of long distance travel, at least in the United States. Is it time to consider booking a bus for your next trip or should you stick to whatever you normally do? I can’t give you a direct answer for this, but I can tell you all about my own experience!
A few months ago, I decided to take a Greyhound bus from Florida to New York. This was because I had already spent quite a bit of money to fly from New York to Germany, as well as fly back home. I’d never taken a bus out of state before, but as someone who loves saving money (who doesn’t?), it was time to give it a try! Here are some bus travel pros and cons I learned from my journey:
traveling by bus is really cheap!
The only reason I considered taking the bus from Kissimmee to New York City in the first place was because I assumed it would be affordable and I was completely right! It was actually cheaper than I expected. I’m not sure about other bus lines, but Greyhound actually gives you a discount code for your first ride if you create an Road Rewards account with them (this is NOT a sponsored post by the way, just a useful fact). In total, I only paid $59.20 for a one way trip. This means that if I had chosen to do this round trip, I would have only paid $118.40. Considering the fact that a round trip to New York by plane would normally cost me hundreds of dollars, this was amazing.
The bus has wi-fi and charging outlets
As a blogger (and just a 20 year old in general), having wi-fi and a way to keep my devices from dying on the road is a great perk. As I was booking my bus trip, seeing that I would have access to these things actually brought me some relief. I wouldn’t have to worry about keeping myself entertained on this incredibly long trip (I’ll get to the length of it soon).
…but the wi-fi sucks & the outlets might not work
Sadly, the Wi-Fi was worse than just using my phone’s data, so I just ended up not really using it. It worked because I was able to use it on my laptop to finish a quiz for one of my classes at the last minute (oops), but it was very annoyingly slow. You can forget watching Netflix on the bus because loading videos was pretty much impossible, at least for my ride. To make things worse, the outlets on the entire side of one of the buses I was on didn’t work at all. I had to transfer buses a couple of times and the first one was fine, but this was only about an hour trip. On the second bus I couldn’t charge my devices at all and neither could anyone else on my side. This was apparently due to some outage problem on the bus, so it’s probably not a common issue. However, I’d advise taking a portable charger.
the ride felt extremely long
I’m not exaggerating when I say that this bus ride felt like forever. I’ve taken planes to other continents and these didn’t feel half as bad as this bus ride up the east coast. Driving to New York from Central Florida (where Kissimmee is) takes about 16 hours. Taking the bus ended up taking about 30 hours. This is because there are constant stops along the way, many of them requiring you to get out of the bus and wait for hours to board again. From Kissimmee to New York City specifically, the stops included Orlando, Jacksonville, Savannah, Fayetteville, Richmond, and Newark. If you’re feeling adventurous I suppose you could try and check out what’s nearby during the longer stops, but the bus driver made it very clear that they leave right on time and wouldn’t wait for you, so it’s not a risk I was willing to take.
the food at the stations is decent
Unless you bring your own food, you’re going to have to buy something at one of the stations to eat. Honestly, I was a little worried that the food would be gross, but it’s not. I remember having fries with cheese and bacon bits at one station, chicken tenders at another, and buying some juice. The quality of the food is comparable to what you’d get at a fast food restaurant, which to me isn’t bad. The prices for food are affordable, too. Basically, your meals won’t be anything to brag about, but you definitely won’t starve.
comfort is extremely limited
You’re going to want to bring a neck pillow and blanket if you plan to take a bus trip because the seats are nothing special. I would compare them to your standard airplane seats; nothing awful, but nothing extremely comfortable. The awful thing is actually that when you finally manage to fall asleep, you’re randomly woken up to get off of the bus and wait at a station. Trust me, being woken up at 3 am to sit on a freezing cold bench in a tiny station is definitely not a fun time. When I think back on this bus trip, I vividly remember being cold and tired beyond belief.
Conclusion: you get what you pay for
Like most things in life, you really get what you pay for when traveling by bus to another state. The price is extremely affordable compared to other methods of transportation, but it will usually take much longer to get to your destination. By the time you arrive, you’ll probably be exhausted. The bright side is that you can use the money you ended up saving on transportation for activities or accommodation. For me personally, I wouldn’t go out of my way to take the bus to travel again because it was a long and uncomfortable experience. That doesn’t mean I would never do it again, but I would only do it if I desperately wanted to go somewhere and really couldn’t afford any other way of getting there. While it’s an annoying experience, it’s not so bad that I would miss a trip somewhere just to avoid it.
I do recommend this mode of transportation if you’re missing out on traveling simply because plane tickets are too expensive for you, but I wouldn’t do this just for the fun of it, because there really isn’t much (if any) fun to it.
Have you ever taken a bus to another state? What was your experience like? Let me know in the comments!
After a busy first day in Gatlinburg, I was very eager for my second day of exploring this beautiful little city before heading back home the next morning. Here’s what day two consisted of:
Hiking Great smoky mountains national park
The most popular attraction in Gatlinburg is, without a doubt, the Great Smoky Mountains that surround the city. It also happens to be a beautiful hiking spot, especially during the fall. The Smokies are something that I saw in some way or another my entire time over there, but I never got tired of looking at them. My family and I decided to actually go into the national park and hike the Baskins Creek Trail, which led to us to a waterfall called Baskin Falls. I believe that this trail was 3 miles each way and there were a few rough, steep areas. I’m not much of a hiker personally, so for me the walk was kind of difficult (I actually fell). It was a good workout though, I have to admit. Be prepared to keep your balance if this is something you want to do!
sNOW TUBING at ober gatlinburg
Ober Gatlinburg is a small amusement park and ski area located in the mountains of the city. You have to take an aerial tramway (or cable car) to get here, which was an adventure on its own. An aerial tramway is pretty much a huge, enclosed skylift and also happens to be the safest method on transportation in the world. It’s hard to believe it when it starts rocking back and forth thousands of feet from the ground while it’s pitch black out, but it’s definitely true.
Even though it wasn’t actually snowing in Gatlinburg, I still got to experience the fun of going snow tubing (thanks to snow making machines)! Snow tubing is basically getting to race down a hill of snow on something that resembles a pool floatie. You go down super fast along with the people next to you and it’s so much fun! For 25 dollars I was able to go down the hill as many times as I wanted for an hour. Even though I’m definitely not a little kid anymore, I had a great time doing this and think that people of all ages would have a blast snow tubing in Gatlinburg.
baymont inn and suites
Okay, this isn’t really an “activity”, but I thought I would mention what hotel I stayed in. Baymont Inn and Suites is a pretty well-known hotel chain and the rooms themselves weren’t anything out of this world, pretty much what you’d expect from your standard hotel room. Decent amount of space, two king sized beds, bathroom, Wi-Fi, TV, etc. What I really enjoyed about staying here were the little Gatlinburg touches. The view from the hotel balcony was so charming, it was right over a little creek that ran next to the mountains and in front of the cabins. It was a perfect little mountainside country scene. I’m also the kind of person who really enjoys the little things, so the fact that the continental breakfast included bear shaped waffles really won me over. Bears are pretty much the mascot Gatlinburg and there were bear statues in various areas of the hotel. The location of the hotel was also pretty good, since it was easy to get everywhere we planned to go. When I do return to Gatlinburg, I wouldn’t mind staying here again at all (but the goal is to stay in an actual cabin next time).
If you enjoyed these posts about Gatlinburg, Tennessee, you should watch my first ever travel vlog about my trip on YouTube! Be sure to like and subscribe! 🙂
Are you bored of the daily grind? Desperate for a change of scenery and a shakeup in your routine? If so, traveling is always a good idea. Here are just some of the many benefits of spreading your wings:
When you travel, there are often things you want to see and do. Perhaps you’ve planned an itinerary around all the sights or maybe you’re hoping for spontaneous adventures on arrival. Wherever you go, it’s highly likely that you’ll do things you’ve never done before and you may possibly never do again. The world is such a vast and diverse place. It’s a shame not to get out there and see its wonders for yourself.
There are few things in life that can teach you more about yourself than traveling. Jetting off on a plane is not just about visiting famous monuments and reclining on palm-lined beaches. It’s also a voyage of self-discovery. According to this article listing these nine ways to be more positive, taking time out gives you a chance to think about your life, assess where you want to go and what you want to do, and learn more about yourself. Doing new things and meeting new people can give you clarity and inspiration. Perhaps you’ll decide that you want to change career or you’ll make a concerted effort to do more to help others when you get home. Traveling can also give you a new lease of life if you’ve been struggling. It can make you stronger and more independent, and you may find that you’re better equipped to deal with obstacles after your trip.
Image courtesy of https://pixabay.com/en/photos/mountain%20climber/
When you travel, you’ll undoubtedly learn new things. This may include lighting a fire or catching fish if you’re out in the wilds or speaking a new language if you’re working abroad. It always good to strive for development and to try and improve yourself continually. Nobody will ever get to a point where they know too much, or they have too many skills. The things you learn will set you up for life and make you a more well-rounded person.
Image source: https://www.pexels.com/search/camping/
Learning to prioritize
When you’re away from home, it can make you understand and appreciate what’s important. There’s often an assumption that success is defined by money and possessions. But when you’re camping out in a hut in the middle of nowhere, you get a sense of what really matters. You’ll probably be more grateful for everything your parents do for you and the bonds you have with your best friends when you get home.
You often hear people enthusiastically prasising the virtues of traveling. If you haven’t traveled much before, you may be wondering what all the fuss is about. The truth is that it’s very easy to get bitten by the travel bug. Once you start, it’s hard to stop. The world is such a fascinating place, and there’s so much to see, do, and learn. If you’re after a change of scenery or you’ve reached a crossroads in your life, why not consider embarking on an adventure? You won’t regret it!
Gatlinburg, Tennessee is a gorgeous town located in the heart of the Great Smoky mountains and such an underrated place to visit! I didn’t even know it existed until a few months ago, but I couldn’t be happier that I went. My family and I like to do random little trips every so often and this time we decided to spend a couple of days in Gatlinburg right before Thanksgiving break. This was really the perfect time to visit because the weather was nice and cool and the leaves were beautiful shades of red, orange, and gold, which made the mountains look even more beautiful. As someone who lives in Florida (where it feels like we only have two seasons: summer and slightly colder summer), seeing mountains and fall colored leaves is so exciting on its own. However, I was surprised to see that there’s actually a lot more to do in Gatlinburg than admire the scenery! With only two full days there we didn’t get to do a large amount of things, but we did enough to leave with amazing memories and a promise that we would return and see more one day.
Edit: Unfortunately, just a few days after returning home from Gatlinburg, wildfires spread across parts of the city and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I actually had this post up and ready to go the day I found out the news, so I decided to unpublish it and add my support before publishing it again. Gatlinburg (and nearby Pigeon Forge) is really such a wonderful place that I’d love to see again and my heart goes out to those affected by the fires. I really hope that this beautiful little city makes a strong and speedy recovery. If you’d like to help the people of Gatlinburg, I found a link with different ways you can help here .
Sugarlands Riding Stables
There’s nothing like riding a horse through the Smoky Mountains in the fall. This was actually my very first time horseback riding and I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way! I’ll admit I was a little nervous about it because as much as I love animals, I had the irrational fear of the horse kicking me off. A few minutes into the ride I realized that the horses here really do know what they’re doing and I was able to relax and take in the views and believe me, they were incredible. At Sugarlands Riding Stables you have an hour to ride your horse up and back down part of the Smoky Mountains where you get to see the other mountains surrounding you, beautifully colored trees, and babbling creeks. This was probably my favorite activity in Gatlinburg and I guarantee that every nature lover would really enjoy this experience.
Ole Smoky Tennessee Moonshine
It doesn’t get more Southern than drinking moonshine in Tennessee. At Ole Smoky Tennessee Moonshine you can actually sample shots of several flavors of moonshine like coffee, pumpkin pie, margarita, peppermint, and more and you can also buy bottles of the flavors you liked. Of course, they check your I.D. so I couldn’t try any myself (about 4 more months to go!), but my parents loved them and this is something I’d really like to experience first-hand when I come back.
Arts and Crafts Fair
I just happened to stumble upon this fair while walking around the town and it was a really cool experience. This craft fair had a lot of different handmade items from bath bombs and body butters to Christmas decorations and wind chimes. The people at the stands were really friendly and there were a lot of really cute, unique things to buy, like candles that can be used as lotion when melted. Something I didn’t know until I left and researched Gatlinburg craft fairs is that Gatlinburg has a really strong arts and crafts community which I think is awesome because I really love seeing the things that other people create.
I think that the best possible way to take in the scenic town of Gatlinburg is by taking a ride on a sky lift. This is an open-air chair lift ride that goes up to 1,800 feet over the Smoky Mountains with a perfect view of Gatlinburg. It was breathtaking to say the least. I’m still in awe of the fact that such a beautiful place exists. In fact, during the sky lift ride I couldn’t help but get that overwhelming feeling that I get when seeing a new place that I love, that feeling that reminds me (as if I really need reminding) why I love traveling. Basically, the feeling of “wow, the world really has some beautiful places”. I’ve been saying “beautiful” a lot in this post, but that word especially sums up the sky lift. It’s a little difficult to get good pictures when going up the lift, but once you reach the top you’re able to get off and take pictures and also shop at a little gift shop before going back down and taking in the view again.
Blaine’s Grill and Bar
One thing I really love about traveling is eating food. Okay, maybe eating food is one of my favorite things in general. When it comes to the United States, one kind of food I really enjoy is Southern. Blaine’s Grill and Bar is a great place in Gatlinburg to have authentic Southern and BBQ food. I ordered a fried chicken sandwich with bacon, lettuce, and tomato with a side of potato salad and a lemonade. I couldn’t even finish it because it made me super full, which is unfortunate because it was delicious. The service there is great, too. The food didn’t take too long to be served and despite me accidentally spilling my lemonade (oops), the waitress was all smiles. Even though the food is mostly Southern and BBQ type food, the restaurant looked a lot like an Irish pub which was interesting. Definitely would recommend.
This isn’t exactly located in Gatlinburg, but in Pigeon Forge (just literally a few minutes away) is a street known as Arcade City. This street is filled with all kinds of bright neon light covered arcades. Arcade City was our last activity of day one and the perfect way to end the night. We chose to go to just Rockin Raceway Arcade (though I think “arcade hopping” around the street would be a cool idea). This arcade works kind of like Dave n’ Busters in the fact that you get all of your points for prizes on a card and you can come back and use this card as much as you want. There were all kinds of games here, from classics like Dance Dance Revolution and ball throwing games to a giant Connect 4 game and a zombie shooting game that you win or lose by how much you get scared (it measures your pulse to check). We decided to go with the 50 dollar card deal, which between 4 people still got us a lot of games. I don’t know exactly when we’ll be back in Gatlinburg, so we didn’t save our points and ended up getting a pink dolphin pool floatie, nerf gun, ball, and some candy with them.
Make sure to check out part two of this post: Exploring Gatlinburg, Tennessee: Day Two!
I know it’s still only November, but if every store you walk into can be ready for Christmas already, then so can you! Instead of going to the mall and risking searching for hours for the perfect gift, why not do your Christmas shopping online this year?
I had the wonderful opportunity to receive a few things from Love Hayley Beth and I couldn’t have been more satisfied with this adorable online shop! Love Hayley Beth is based in England and all of the items are handmade by Hayley herself. From phone cases to jewelery, christmas decorations, notebooks, and more, there’s bound to be something (probably quite a few things) that will make a great gift for someone you know or even just to treat yourself. Plus, you really can’t beat the prices. Some of the things cost as low as one pound! Not from the UK? No problem, Love Hayley Beth also ships internationally for as low as 3 pounds (shipping in the UK is as low as 1.50 pounds).
I can also assure you that everything will come quickly and exactly as pictured online! I live in Florida and received my package from Love Hayley Beth in exactly a week. All of the items were neatly and individually packaged inside of the box in perfect condition. You could really tell that these were new, well taken care of items that were shipped with care. Here’s what I got:
Super cute right? Plus, all of the jewelry looks great on and everything is amazing quality! I can tell that everything I got will remain in good condition for a long time. They all fit perfectly with my style too, which I really loved because I tend to be a bit picky about the things I buy. I’m very into a simple, vintage look, but also really love cute things like Hello Kitty,so you can imagine how excited I was to have all of the things that Hayley sent me! There’s really such a great variety of things to suit any taste at Love Hayley Beth.
Make sure to visit Love Hayley Beth for all of your Christmas (or any occasion) gift needs and use my promo code LIANNA20 for 20% off of your purchase!
Hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
Every year my family and I go to Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival at Disney World and it’s always a lot of fun! During this festival stands are set up all over Epcot, each representing its own country. There are over 30 stands to choose from! At these stands, you can buy authentic food and drinks from the country, made and served by people who are actually from there. Every year some of the countries are changed out for new ones, while some of the more popular ones stay. While you eat, you can also enjoy live music from various cultures. It’s the perfect festival for travelers who love to eat (like me)!
At Epcot, you can get your own free festival passport to keep and place a sticker by the name of each place you “visited”, as well as check off what you had there. It makes a cute keepsake!
Here’s all the places I got to visit:
The Hawaii stand has been at the food and wine festival every year that I’ve gone and I don’t think it’s going away any time soon. I highly recommend getting the Kalua pork slider, it’s a very popular choice and for a good reason! The savory meat and sweet pineapple along with some spicy mayonnaise make an amazing flavor combination. I’m just barely under the drinking age in the United States, so I couldn’t buy any drinks myself, but the beer pictured is my dad’s Kona Brewing Company Big Wave Golden Ale.
I’ll be honest, I had never heard of Patagonia before seeing it on this year’s passport. After a little research, I discovered that it’s located at the southern end of South America and is shared by Argentina and Chile. The food from this stand was delicious, especially the beef skewer. In fact, the beef skewer topped with Chimichurri sauce was my favorite food out of the whole festival this year. Hopefully Patagonia is back again next year because I’d love to have their food again!
Islands of the Caribbean
I was born in an island of the Caribbean (Puerto Rico), so seeing my part of the world being represented is always exciting. Maybe I’m biased, but Caribbean food is some of the best food there is and this section did not disappoint! I had the pescado con coco (I forgot to mark it off, oops) and the Jamaican beef patty to the right. Both are an accurate taste of the Caribbean, even if the beef patties were pretty tiny.
Morocco is on my bucket list for sure, but until that happens, the Morocco stand at the food and wine festival will have to do. I’m not a fan of onions, which this pita pocket had a lot of, but the seasoned pork inside definitely made up for it. There was also live Moroccan music being performed near the stand, which was fun to listen to and watch.
I love flan and I love chocolate, so imagine my excitement when discovering that Mexico had chocolate flan! The line for Mexico was incredibly long, but the chocolate flan was worth the wait. I wish the serving size was bigger, but maybe next year I’ll get two.
My most recent trip was actually to Germany, so going to this stand was super nostalgic for me. If you’ve ever listened to me talk about Germany, you know that I can rave about their sausages forever, so obviously that’s what I ended up getting. While they aren’t crispy on the outside like the ones I had in Berlin, they do taste very close to them, even down to the bread they were in. Also, European beer is the only kind of beer that I sort of like, so it was nice to try some of it again (the beer was my dad’s once again, so I didn’t mark it off, but it was the first one on the beverage list).
Smoked salmon is one of my favorite kinds of fish, so I had to get the potato pancake with smoked salmon. I wasn’t really sure how to eat it since I couldn’t cut the potato pancake with a fork, so I ended up rolling it up and eating it like a taco. Close enough, I guess? The pancake itself didn’t have a lot of flavor, but smoked salmon and sour cream is surprisingly good together, so I enjoyed it.
Ireland is a place I’ve been to quite a few times (both the actual country and the stand) and one of my favorite stands at the festival every year. One thing they always have is the fisherman’s pie, which is made up of mashed potatoes, melted cheddar cheese, and pieces of seafood, like clam and lobster. It’s a must-have if you’re a sea food lover, I promise! Two new things featured in Ireland were the warm chocolate pudding and the pumpkin chai tea and caramel shake. Everything the Ireland stand has is always delicious and this whole meal was perfect for fall (if only it was chillier in Florida). I’ll definitely be looking for a recipe for that pumpkin chai tea shake.
What I had at Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival was just a small taste of what they have to offer, since my stomach and wallet can only afford so much food. There are still so many other countries to check out (from Australia to China to even more), so there’s something for everyone! If you’re ever going to Orlando in the fall, I highly encourage you to discover all of the countries and their delicacies for yourself!
One thing about Berlin that pleasantly surprised me was all of the incredible food! I had never known Berlin to be a “foodie” capital, but I think it definitely should be. You can get anything there and no matter what it is, it’s going to be delicious. Here are a few of my favorite places to eat in Berlin, Germany:
Fraticelli is an Italian restaurant located near Alexanderplatz. You can eat inside or outside and since it was a beautiful, breezy September morning, I decided to eat breakfast at one of the tables outside. One thing to keep in mind though, if you’re not already aware, is that Berlin is full of bees! This makes it a little difficult to enjoy eating outside, since they’ll constantly try to fly into your food and drinks, so next time I think I would eat inside. The service at Fraticelli is pretty slow (they seemed seriously understaffed), so this isn’t the place to grab a meal if you’re in a rush, but if you have some time to spare then the food is totally worth the wait. They even have blankets to put over yourself if you get cold!
I had a cappuccino with cream and a glass of prosecco to drink. To eat, I had the brunch plate for two (obviously I shared it, it was a lot of food). The brunch plate had all kinds of yummy breakfast foods, like fresh fruits, various sliced meats and cheeses, scrambled eggs, sausages, grilled chicken, salmon, granola, nutella, butter, jam, and a basket of bread rolls. It was really a breakfast to remember. This meal was so filling, but in a healthy way instead of the “I’m about to explode” fullness you feel when you eat a lot of fried or greasy foods.
Il Buco Di Heidi
Il Buco Di Heidi is a little French cafe and another breakfast stop during my stay in Berlin. Once again, you can eat inside or outside and I chose to eat outside, which led to the same problem: bees everywhere. If you’re not a fan of bees, don’t eat outside in Berlin (obviously, something I kept forgetting). The service here was very quick, so it’s very easy to spend only about half an hour here and be on your way. The atmosphere is very much what a French cafe should be, cute and cozy.
To drink, I had a an elder and rhubarb German spritz drink. It was so refreshing and tasted amazing. Please don’t make the mistake of just getting a small glass like I did because it actually is really small! To eat, I had an omelette with smoked salmon. The portions here are generally not very big, but the food is healthy, fresh, and delicious while looking pretty, too!
Alexanderplatz Sausage Cart
Okay this isn’t a restaurant, but if you eat anything in Berlin, please eat a sausage from one of the carts in Alexanderplatz! They’re always there, day and night (I would know because I had a sausage for dinner once and then again for breakfast another day, I couldn’t help myself). I’ve never really liked sausages, but German sausages are really the best ones in the world, by far. It might sound like I’m exaggerating, but trust me, you need to try a sausage in Berlin. They’re crispy and full of flavor, even the bread they’re served on is soft and tastes great. If I could get on a plane and go get one right now, I would.
Who doesn’t love a good burger? Burger Vision is the place to go if you’re craving a burger in Berlin. They have all kinds of burgers, from your classic double cheeseburger, to Hawaiian burgers, chicken burgers, veggie burgers, and more. The staff was super friendly, they even took the time to explain what some of the German words around the restaurant mean in English.
The burgers are excellent, made fresh right in front of you and they’re huge, juicy, and full of flavor! The fries and onion rings are just as delicious as the burgers. I had a Hawaii burger, which is a cheeseburger with pineapple. I’d never had a burger with pineapple, but it actually tastes really good and I’ve even started adding pineapples to burgers I have at home sometimes.
I was recently nominated for the Liebster Award by Cecile from Nomadic Hippie 2.0 ! I just wanted to start off by saying thank you so much for the nomination, it means so much to be recognized after only a couple months of blogging!
What exactly is the Liebster Award?
The Liebster Award is an online award given to bloggers by bloggers, helping each other promote their sites and connect! You can find a post detailing the official rules here (this is also where you’ll submit a link to your post when you’re done).
The basics are:
- Display the award on your blog
- Thank the blogger who nominated you and link back to their site
- Answer their questions about yourself (feel free to include photos!)
- Write your own set of questions for your nominees
My answers to Nomadic Hippie 2.0’s questions:
- How did you decide to become a travel blogger?
Well, it started with a project for one of my college classes where we had to research our career of choice in depth throughout the whole semester. Weirdly enough, the career I chose at the moment had absolutely nothing to do with travel or blogging. I had actually chosen to research forensic psychology! I was okay with this for awhile, even though it didn’t feel quite right (I often jumped from one career choice to another). Towards the end of the project, we had to make a list of all of our future goals and then pick the top 5 most important goals and rearrange them in order of importance. As I did this, I began to realize that the most important thing to me was to travel. I didn’t care what career I had or even how much money I had, as long as I was able to travel the world, every corner of it. By the time the project was over, I realized my heart wasn’t really in forensic psychology and that my heart had always been in two things: writing and traveling. Long story short, I did some research on my own time and realized that being a travel writer was an actual career choice. Why not get started towards it now? That’s how From Lianna with Love was born.
- Where’s your favourite place in the world (so far)?
This is really such a difficult question because I’ve fallen in love with so many places already. Almost every time I see a new place I end up thinking this is my new favorite place in the whole world! One place I will always want to come back to over and over is definitely New York City. It’s not necessarily that I think New York City is better than any other place I’ve been because I love different things about different places, but New York City will always fill me with excitement and nostalgia whenever I set foot in it.
- What’s the best food you’ve ever eaten and where did you eat it?
I can’t name one specific food as the best food I’ve ever eaten (sorry, I just can’t do it!), but the place where I’ve eaten the best food is definitely Berlin, Germany. It’s such a melting pot of so many different cultures and I was able to enjoy everything from Italian to Lebanese to Vietnamese to obviously, German. I loved absolutely every meal I had there.
- What’s the most incredible thing you’ve done while travelling?
In case you couldn’t tell, I’m a really indecisive person, so I’ll list three. One was walking around New Orleans’ most haunted neighborhoods and cemeteries at night, another was seeing all of London’s city lights from the top of the London Eye for the first time, and another was my first canal boat ride in Copenhagen.
- Who would you choose as your travel companion, if you could pick absolutely anyone (dead or alive, real or fictional character)?
I’d love to travel with Anthony Bourdain. He always eats the best food and I’m a huge fan of trying new foods. Plus, he just looks like a really fun time in general and he has experience, so I bet we’d have no problem finding amazing things to do in new places.
- Who would you say inspires you the most (in your travels or life in general)?
As cliche as it is, I don’t think anyone has inspired me more than a few of my close family members (parents, aunt, and grandmother) and boyfriend, especially when it comes to travel (life too, of course). Not only have they all actually given me the opportunity to see so many incredible places in and out of my country, but they’ve always supported my passions in writing and traveling. I wouldn’t have seen so many places and had the motivation to actually start and keep up with this blog without each of them. I’m forever grateful.
- What’s your favourite travel quote?
My favorite travel quote is “I am not the same, having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world” – Mary Anne Radmacher. I love it because I relate to it so well. Every time I travel, I feel myself grow in the best way possible and I don’t think I ever come back home as the same when I left.
- Name 3 items that you cannot travel without (passport doesn’t count!)?
I never travel without a camera of some kind (usually phone, but recently my Polaroid has come along too), headphones, and if it’s a plane trip, gum.
- What’s the best piece of advice you could give to someone who wants to become a travel blogger?
Remember that travel doesn’t have to be expensive! Someone who loves travel may not start a blog because they think they don’t have the money to do it a lot. That’s where you’re wrong. Traveling is simply leaving where you live. This means you can go to the next city over and still be traveling. You can make a whole blog based on the area you live if you can’t afford to go anywhere else. Don’t let money stop you from following your dreams.
- Apart from travelling (and blogging about it), what is your biggest passion?
My biggest passions besides traveling are writing and animals. I’ve been a writer since I had the ability to write and even went to an arts high school for it. My major now involves writing. It’s been a constant in my life. Same thing with animals, I’ve always had pets (cats, dogs, fish, hermit crabs) and I love animals of all kinds. If there was a way to combine writing, traveling, and helping animals for a living that would be my dream! For now, I think one day being a full time travel writer and then eventually retiring and opening up my own animal shelter is close enough.
- What’s your next destination?
My very next destination is Gatlinburg, Tennessee to stay by the Smoky Mountains. Then I’m planning a trip to California to see Los Angeles and San Francisco. In the summer, I’m making a brief stop in Ireland and then going on a cruise to Spain, Italy, France, and Montenegro. That’s all I have planned out right now, but hopefully some more destinations will be coming up in between!
My nominees for the Liebster Award are…
The Coddiwomplers – “A travel blog aimed at millennials written by two Gen Y gals who are skipping the typical American dream in order to travel the world.”
Pebble Walks – “Pebblewalks is a travel blog for all lovers of time travel. Through photo stories you will see changing landscapes, cultures, yum eats & experience tales of people, from familiar & not so familiar lands. It hopes to make us more welcoming of all that makes us different, even uncomfortably so.”
The Backpacking Mama – “The Backpacking Mama is a blog about the travel adventures of Mohit and Pooja who used to be backpackers till their kids arrived. They choose to continue traveling with the kids who are now 5yo and 2yo. Together the family has been to over 30 countries with the kids. They hope to inspire young parents to travel and share their stories and travel hacks through the blog.”
Glamour Granny Travels – “My name is Inka Piegsa-Quischotte, a free lance travel writer and photographer. I have created this blog with a view to encourage female baby boomers who, in theory, love to travel but do not yet really dare to go out and actually DO it.”
Curious Jessie – “I’m Jessie and you guessed it, I’m pretty curious, curious about Blogging, Design and Travel. I’m a Media and Journalism Graduate turned Digital Marketer from Liverpool.In August 2015 I finally took the plunge and left the comfort of my home town to travel the world with my Girlfriend.”
My 11 questions for my nominees:
- How many languages do you know?
- What’s your favorite method of travel (plane, boat, car, etc.)?
- Who is your favorite person to travel with (or do you prefer to travel solo)?
- What is your most memorable travel experience?
- How do you save money while traveling?
- What’s your favorite destination?
- Least favorite destination?
- Three things you’ve learned from traveling?
- What blogs do you read regularly?
- Where are you going next?
- One interesting fact about yourself (travel related or not)?
Now it’s your turn to pass the award on to bloggers who you think deserve it!