Month: August 2016

Authentic Japanese Food in Orlando, Florida

Florida North America United States of America

Authentic Japanese Food in Orlando, Florida

If you’re looking for a great (and affordable!) local Japanese spot to eat in Orlando, check out Bikkuri Sushi Noodle and Grill! I think I started to fall in love with the restaurant before I even got inside. The glowing red neon lights and the flashing “open” sign were the first promising signs of an interesting atmosphere, and it only got better from there. As soon as you walk in, you’re in a lobby with a mirror on the wall (perfect for cool selfies bathed in red light) and a set of stairs.

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Once you’re up the stairs, you’re greeted by a sign that asks you to wait to be seated and get your first peek of the restaurant. The whole place is cozily small and dimly lit, with red Japanese lanterns, soft lighting above each booth and a few neon signs in the windows. It immediately gives a kitchy, New York City 80’s vibe with a Japanese twist, which I absolutely loved.

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There’s a full bar with a TV, making it an ideal place for a night of drinking (but I’m under the legal drinking age, so I didn’t experience that part).

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My friend and I were seated right away. The booth was by a window with a view of the street below and surrounding buildings. Each table was set with the usual silverware, napkins, and condiments along with chopsticks and a rose in a glass vase. From the inside out, Bikurri is an extremely aesthetically pleasing place. Another bonus, for an evening in downtown Orlando it wasn’t crowded at all! There were a few other groups of people, but it was pretty quiet and overall very chill with quick service.

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Now, onto the food!

There were a large variety of drinks, from your normal soft drinks to cocktails to Japanese teas and sakes. I had a cold Hojicha Green tea, which wasn’t sweetened at all but very refreshing and felt cleansing, like an instant detox. I skipped the appetizers because they were a little on the pricey side (like, over $10 an appetizer) and went straight to the entrée. For my entrée, I ordered donburi, which is a bowl of chicken, fried egg, onion, and scallion over steamed rice with broth. This was so delicious, I’m really glad I chose it. The combination of savory flavors and the warmth of the food made me want to curl up with the bowl on a cold, lazy and rainy day. I would describe donburi as the ultimate Japanese comfort food. While it wasn’t exactly comfort food weather (90 something degrees on a humid Florida day), this was still so appetizing and filling, too.  I still crave it from time to time (right now, for example).

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I also got the salmon tropical roll on the side, which consisted of 8 medium sized rolls of sushi with salmon and cream cheese inside, topped with mango, pineapple, krab, scallion, avocado, and mayo sauce. I wasn’t nearly as impressed with the sushi as I was with the donburi. There wasn’t anything wrong with it at all, I just felt like there wasn’t anything unique about it. I mean, I’ve bought sushi that tasted just as good from the supermarket. The tropical addition of mango and pineapple sounded interesting, but it wasn’t what I expected it to be. Basically, it just tasted like having mango and pineapple in your mouth and then having a mouthful of sushi. It didn’t complement the flavors inside of the actual sushi. When it comes to getting sushi from Bikurri, I would recommend it, just in a different (maybe more classic) flavor.

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For dessert, I had fried cheesecake with vanilla ice cream on the side. These don’t actually come together, but I thought that vanilla ice cream would be the perfect match, so I ordered them separately. This was really tasty and I would definitely recommend ordering it! You can’t go wrong with taking something sweet and frying it. The outside of the fried cheesecake was warm and crispy, while the inside was cold and creamy like a normal cheesecake. It was an amazing combination, especially with the vanilla ice cream added. If you love cheesecake, you’ll love this dessert, I promise.

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Overall, my meal was about $36, including the tip. The portions were all generous and the service was good, so I had no problem with the price. What really won me over was the awesome atmosphere of the restaurant, but I left happy (and stuffed) with the food I had, too. It’s not easy to find a place that can do both, so this was a win-win. Without a doubt, I would go eat at Bikurri Sushi Noodle and Grill again and actually hope to make another visit soon.

My Travel Bucket List: 50 Things I Want to See and Do Around the World

Lifestyle

My Travel Bucket List: 50 Things I Want to See and Do Around the World

I think we all forget that our time here on Earth is limited and don’t put enough effort to figuring out exactly what we want to do before we die. I know one of the things I obviously want to do most is travel; near, far, and everywhere. Well, I stumbled upon a page in my journal (I’ve kept journals consistently since I was like 8) where I wrote down my travel bucket list a couple of years ago and was inspired to tweak and add to it to share on here. The more I publicize my goals, the more I’m pushed to actually complete them, so these are all places I’m going to strive to see and things I will strive to do! Maybe this will even inspire you to put together a list of your own! 

  1. Take a long term trip to Tokyo, Japan
  2. See Mount Fuji in Japan
  3. Teach English in Asia (stuck between Japan and South Korea)
  4. Visit London, England:  I found this one on the list in my journal, but I can now cross that off
  5. Take a boat ride in Niagra Falls, Canada.
  6. See the Glowworm Caves in Waitomo, New Zealand
  7. See the Sea of Stars on Vaadhoo Island, Maldives
  8. Have my honeymoon in Santorini, Greece
  9. See the Colosseum in Rome, Italy (I’m seeing multiple Italian cities in July 2017!)
  10. Take a gondola ride in Venice, Italy
  11. Go to the beach in Monaco, France (also going to France in July 2017)
  12. See the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France
  13. Go to Monet’s house in Giverny, France
  14. Go to the Gothic Quarter in Barcelona, Spain(also happening in July 2017…how lucky am I?)
  15. See the animals in the Galapagos Islands
  16. Snorkel or scuba dive in the Great Barrier Reef, Australia
  17. See the Great Wall of China
  18. Visit San Francisco and Los Angeles, California (this is in the works for my 21st birthday in March)
  19. See the Grand Canyon
  20. Visit the Isle of Skye in Scotland
  21. See a black sand beach in Hawaii
  22. Go on a safari in South Africa
  23. See the Berlin Wall in Berlin, Germany(this is happening next month!)
  24. Pet a sloth in Costa Rica
  25. See the Northern lights in Iceland
  26. Go to Tomorrowland in Belgium
  27. Fly first class (to anywhere, really)
  28. Ski in the Swiss Alps
  29. Float in the Dead Sea
  30. Take a cruise to Alaska
  31. Go to a full moon party in Thailand
  32. Attend the Yi Peng Festival in Thailand
  33. See pyramids in Egypt
  34. Ride a camel
  35. Go to a yoga retreat in India
  36. Visit the canals in Amsterdam
  37. Go to the infinity room in the Milwaukee Art Museum
  38. Swim with a dolphin
  39. Visit all of the 7 Wonders of the World
  40. See the stone heads in Easter Island, Chile
  41. Go to Yellowstone National Park
  42. Tour the Moundsville Penitentiary in West Virginia
  43. Stargaze in a desert
  44. Stay in a glass igloo in Finland
  45. Go on a roadtrip to famous haunted houses 
  46. Go on a solo trip
  47. Have a conversation in a foreign language in another country
  48. Get a tattoo in another country
  49. Take the Eurorail around Europe
  50. Visit every continent 

This list only covers 50 out of the endless amount of things I want to do travel-wise and considering I’m always discovering new places and activities that I want to experience, I’ll probably update it sometime in the future (and cross out/post about the things that I end up doing). Hopefully I’ll have a post about each of these things on my blog eventually! Did any of these things interest you, too? Where do you want to go or what do you want to do? Let me know in the comments.

 

What To Do If You Get Lost In New York City (Without A Phone!)

New York Travel Tips United States of America

What To Do If You Get Lost In New York City (Without A Phone!)

We all get lost sometimes, it happens to the best of us (at least that’s what I tell myself). This is especially true if you’re going to be spending time in the enormous city that never sleeps, New York City. Getting lost always seems to happen at the worst time, too. Trust me, I lived in New York for about a year and during my last month there, it happened. I was on my way back from the Bronx, well after the sun had set, heading to my dorm in Queens. My charger was broken and the final percentage of my phone battery that I had desperately clung to drained away. It was okay though, I knew the way home like the back of my hand. Or so I thought. After waiting for what seemed to be forever (the later it gets, the slower the buses run in the city), my bus finally came. This was a bus I had taken several times before, so I got on, found a seat, sat back and relaxed. That was until I noticed the bus pull in to an unfamiliar location and stop. The location was full of other buses and everyone remaining on the bus got off. I didn’t know why or how (I still haven’t quite figured it out), but I took the bus to the final parking stop. Thanks to common sense, I managed to make it home from an unfamiliar area in NYC, late at night, with a dead phone. Here’s how I did it and how you can make it home if you ever got lost without a working phone:

  • STAY CALM! I can’t stress this enough. It’s easier said than done, but when you go into panic mode your mind is all over the place and thinking practically is the last possible thing you can do. If you realize that you’re lost, don’t start thinking about all of the awful things that could happen to you. Just don’t even allow the thought to cross your mind, push it away immediately and stay focused on your goal: getting back. Once I was back home, I realized I could have very easily been mugged, murdered, or any combination of horrible things, but at the moment I was so set on getting home that I didn’t let these thoughts occur to me.
  • FOLLOW A CROWD! Okay, so for me there wasn’t a large crowd anywhere at the stop since Queens isn’t the busiest area of New York, but there were a few groups of people walking in the same direction. The thing about New York is that there is bound to be some amount of people outside, so it shouldn’t be too hard to find a common direction people are headed in. Of course, they might not necessarily be going where you want to go, but the whole idea is that if many people who don’t know each other are headed in the same direction, they are headed to public area, which makes it easier to get help. Just be sure to keep a safe distance when following them because you never know what kind of intentions people have. (Side Note: If you can’t find any kind of crowd, walk down a well lit street where you can see stores or some sign of a public area ahead)
  • DON’T LOOK LOST! This is extremely important for being lost anywhere. If you look lost, you look vulnerable and are an easy target for someone with bad intentions. If you look like you know exactly where you’re headed and are in a rush to get there, you’re more likely to be left alone. How exactly do you do this? Once you’ve found your crowd or general direction, walk directly towards where you want to go with your head up confidently, eyes straight ahead, and a quick pace. You’ll look very focused and very not lost.
  • ASK FOR DIRECTIONS! Be very careful with this step. You’ll want to ask someone who appears trustworthy (this doesn’t mean they are  trustworthy, but follow your instincts). Try to ask a woman if possible, not that women can’t do anything bad to you, but they are statistically less likely to. Stand a decent amount of distance away from the person that you’re asking in case you need to make a quick get away from them. What I did was once the groups I was following for awhile started to lead to a busier street with stores and more people walking, I asked two teenage girls where the train station was. Of course, this was an easy question to answer because it wasn’t far away, but if you’re in New York someone will know of one somewhere and can point you in the general direction.
  • BE OBSERVANT! The reason that I thought to ask where the train station was in the first place is because I remembered being near the area I wandered into at one point to take the train in a certain direction. This was only once a long time ago, so I wasn’t sure where it was exactly, but since I was observing the places around me I was able to piece together that I was somewhere near the station. Even if no matter where you walk you have absolutely no clue where you are, being observant will save you. You could be lucky enough to notice subway signs or a taxi service place. Even if you don’t see these, keep in mind that if you’re seeing a lot of stores and places to eat or things to do, you’re bound to be at least somewhat near a method of transportation. How else would people get to these things if many New Yorkers don’t have cars? While parts of New York can be extremely dangerous, it’s also not the worst place to get lost in because as long as you keep walking, you’re going to end up in a place with things to do.
  • GO INTO AN ENCLOSED PUBLIC AREA! For me, this was the train station that the girls pointed me towards. This is the perfect place to go when you’re lost, because even if you’re not sure what train to take, you can ask someone working in the station and they can help you. You should always be carrying money or a Metrocard on you wherever you go, but if you so happen to have none, a worker might give you a break and let you ride for free or at the very least let you use a phone so you can get into contact with someone who can help you out. If this enclosed public area is not a place to get transportation, go for it anyway if you can’t find any. Every business has a phone, so no matter what store, library, restaurant, or whatever you walk into, you’ll at least have a way to get in touch with help.
  • GET TO YOUR DESTINATION ASAP! Once you’ve found your public place and got your ride straightened out, go directly to where you need to go. As soon as I was in that train station, I swiped my Metrocard (that I very luckily had) and got on the train that I knew would take me back to the bus stop I was at to begin with. This time, when the bus got there, I asked the bus driver if the bus was going to my destination so that I wouldn’t have to end up going through the same thing all over again. It was, so I took it to where I needed to go and stayed alert the entire ride back to make sure I got to the right stop, let out a huge sigh of relief when I did, and went back to the dorm that I had never been so happy to see in my life. No matter how confident you are that you finally know your way back, don’t make any stops along the way or stop paying attention to the things around you. The faster you’re back where you need to be, the less likely it is that something will happen to you, so get back as soon as you know that you can.

That’s it! Every situation is different, but generally following these steps will get you where you need to be safely if you’re ever lost in NYC without a phone. Hopefully this never actually happens to you because it’s a scary experience, but now you’ll be prepared if it ever does (lesson learned though: always make sure your phone is charged or that you at least have a working charger). Have you ever been lost somewhere? What did you do or do you have any other advice? Let me know in the comments!

August’s Interesting Holidays Around the World

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August’s Interesting Holidays Around the World

Every month has unique celebrations and holidays taking place around the world, so I thought it would be fun to look into a few of these and share them each month on here. Learning about a country’s holidays can tell you a lot about it and might even inspire you to visit one day! Here’s some that I found for this month:

August 7th: Friendship Day (India)

While Friendship Day is a day that is recognized in multiple countries around the world, including the United States where it originated, it is most actively acknowledged and celebrated in India. There is no set way to celebrate this day, but it is most often celebrated with parties, small and large, consisting of friends spending time together. People also get each other cards and gifts, most popularly friendship bracelets. These are usually handmade and easy to make (you can learn how to make one here). They can come in all kinds of colors and designs. This holiday is simply meant to be a day to celebrate your friends and enjoy each other’s company in whatever way you see fit.

August 9th: The Night of Sevens (China)

Also known as the Qixi festival, this holiday falls on the 7th day of the 7th month on the Chinese calendar. The Night of Sevens is basically the Chinese equivalent to Valentine’s Day in Western countries. The holiday originated from a Chinese legend about Zhi Nu and Niu Lang, a weaver girl and a cowherd who were forbidden lovers. According to legend, Niu Lang was an orphaned boy who lived with his older brother and sister-in-law. They treated him poorly and eventually he was driven out of his home. On the day that he left, an old man, who was a supernatural being in disguise, led him to a sick ox, which was a being from heaven. Being a cowherd, Niu Lang knew how to care for the ox and nursed him back to health. In order to show his gratitude, the ox told Niu Lang that if he wished to have a wife, to go to the brook where the Emperor’s fairy daughters from Heaven were bathing. Niu Lang went to the brook and was immediately drawn to the youngest and most beautiful of the 7 daughters, Zhi Nu, the weaver. He secretly took her fairy clothes, so that when the other fairies flew away she could not fly off with them. Once they left, Niu Lang approached her and told her he would return her clothes if she promised to be his wife. She shyly agreed and they married and had two children together over the next two years. The Emperor realized that the sky was not as beautiful as it had been before, since Zhi Nu was not around to weave clouds and rainbows. He told the Goddess to go search for her and bring her back. Once she found her, after angrily realizing that she had married a mortal, she took her back to Heaven. Niu Lang had been told by the ox that if he killed him and put his hide over himself and his children, that they would be able to reach Heaven, and so he did this and chased them in the sky. However, the Goddess created a huge silver river, the Milky Way, between them and they were forced to stay on the stars on either side of it, Niu Lang with the children seen has the star Altair and Zhi Nu seen as Vega. Once a year, on the 7th day of the 7th month all the magpies in the world would take pity on the couple and fly to heaven to create a bridge for them so that they could be together again for one night.

To celebrate this day, girls usually pray for wisdom and needlework skills, as well as wish for a good husband. During the festival, contests are usually held to put the girls needlework to the test and offerings, such as paper and fruits are made. For newlywed couples, this is a day to worship Niu Land and Zhi Nu as a couple together. The Chinese also stargaze to look for Altair and Vega and the third star forming a bridge for them. Overtime, these traditions have began to die out, as younger Chinese people tend to celebrate Valentine’s Day instead of the Qixi Festival.

August 17th: Ghost Festival (China) 

Another celebration taking place in China, the Ghost Festival (also known as the Hungry Ghost Festival), falls on the fifteenth day of the 7th month on the Chinese calendar. It is claimed to have originated from Buddhist scriptures and not only takes place in China, but other Asian countries, such as Cambodia at other times of the year. The 7th month is known as the Ghost Month in China, meaning this is when ghosts come out from the lower realm. During the Ghost Festival, it is believed that the dead are visiting the living and wandering the earth in search of food. The Taoist community gather at temples to pray for blessings and removal of evil in the ghosts. They perform rituals to remove the deceased from suffering. The ordinary people celebrate in other ways, one of the most important being releasing lit floating lanterns in the shape of lotus flowers down rivers in order to provide a guiding light for lost ghosts. They also burn incense and make offerings to their ancestors. At night, the people will have a feast where they usually leave an empty seat at the table and food for deceased family members. Ancestor worship also takes place. The Ghost Festival is no longer seen as a purely religious celebration, but is seen more as a family gathering and way to honor ancestors. Either way, it is still a culturally rich festival that gives insight to the strong Chinese value of family.

My personal favorite from this little list was the Ghost Festival, after researching it I think I’m going to add celebrating it in China to my bucket list. Which holiday was your favorite? Any other holidays taking place this month? Let me know in the comments!

How to Spend a Weekend in London, England

Destinations England Europe

How to Spend a Weekend in London, England

I’ve only been to London once for not much more than 48 hours, but it was easily one of my favorite places that I’ve traveled to so far. There’s a reason it’s such a popular destination spot for people from all over the world, whether for business, study, or leisure. London combines being a huge, modern fashion capital with being full of culture, history, royalty, and charm. Of course, not everyone has the time or the money to experience this place for an extended amount of time, but no need to worry! You can easily get to know what the city has to offer in just two days if you do it right. (Keep in mind that such a big place will be divided up into different areas. The area I stayed in was Westminster.)

Buckingham Palace

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The very first thing I did (besides almost getting lost on the way to check into our hotel) was see the Buckingham Palace. This is where the king and queen of the United Kingdom live, as well as the place where you can see London’s famous royal guards. I didn’t actually go on a tour of the inside, but if that’s something you’re interested in I strongly suggest looking into this before you go, as it is only open for tours at certain times of the year. However, seeing it from the outside is a must have experience in itself…and it’s free! I also recommend going into the gift shop, even if you don’t buy anything. They have everything from fragrances for your home to corgi plushies (I didn’t know the Queen’s dogs were such a big deal until I visited London…they’re everywhere). One thing I didn’t know beforehand and ended up figuring out myself is that you don’t actually meet the royal guards outside the Buckingham Palace, since there’s a massive gate between you and the entrance of the palace. If you’re interested in taking pictures with them, you should go to Horse Guards Parade, which I wrote more about later in this post.

St. James Park

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Just a 10 minute walk from Buckingham Palace is one of my favorite spots in London, the beautiful St. James Park, which is the oldest royal park in the capital. St. James Park is the perfect place for a peaceful stroll, solo or with company. From the park you can see two of London’s most famous landmarks; Big Ben and the London Eye. It also has a small lake full of different types of birds, from pelicans to geese to several types of ducks, to the swans owned by the Queen herself. You can feed them (I bought a bag of nuts from a corner shop a few blocks away), just keep in mind that geese and swans are pretty aggressive. You can also feed and pet the squirrels, they’re extremely friendly here if you have food for them. (Side note: Make sure you’re just feeding the animals nuts or bread, as other things may be bad for them). This is definitely a great place for an animal and nature lover like myself. Besides that, the park is a great photography spot and just generally a very pleasant place to be. I wouldn’t go to London without checking this place out.

Big Ben

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Obviously, seeing Big Ben up close is a must (by the way, Big Ben is actually the name of the clock inside the tower. The tower itself is called the Elizabeth Tower, but everyone calls it Big Ben anyway). I don’t believe you can go inside the tower, but everyone who visits London needs a picture with it! You can see Big Ben from all over the city, although one the best spots is on the way to and standing on the Westminster Bridge.

London Eye

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A ticket to ride the London Eye costs about 20 pound, which is a little expensive for a Ferris wheel, but this is one of the biggest and most famous Ferris wheels there is. I rode it at night, which is probably more impressive than during the day because Big Ben is lit up down below and you can see city lights all around you. Pictures are probably better quality during the day though, so that’s something to take into consideration. The London Eye is 443 feet high, but it goes up slowly and has seats in each car, so even if you’re afraid of heights you don’t have to back out on this opportunity.

London Aquarium

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There are a few attractions right by the London Eye (London Dungeon, wax museum, Shrek adventure, aquarium) and they all cost about 20 pound each so I chose the one I thought I would enjoy the most, which was the London Aquarium. While this isn’t the biggest aquarium I’ve been to, I had a great time here. They have sharks, tropical fish, penguins, and even crocodiles. There were a few educational lectures going on about different species of fish and an exhibit where I got to touch starfish and an anemone. I wouldn’t put this as a first priority of things to do in London, simply because you can have a similar experience in a lot of cities, but if you want to kill some time before getting on the Eye, this is a great way to do it.

Horse Guards Parade

You can watch the guards change (switch places with a new guard while marching) every morning at the Horse Guards Parade. Another interesting thing to do there is “meet” the guards. As many people know, you won’t actually get to speak with them because the guards on duty aren’t allowed to speak to you, smile, or interact with you in anyway unless it’s to yell at you for doing something you aren’t supposed to. A lot of people like to try to make them break this rule by telling them jokes or making faces at them, but almost no one succeeds. It doesn’t hurt to try, though! Plus, how often do you get to pose with a royal guard?

Westminster Abbey

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Westminster Abbey, a cathedral that is over 700 years old, holds so much British history. It has been the home of many coronations and royal weddings since it was built. It really blew my mind to be standing in front of such a physically breathtaking piece of architecture that had so much take place in it. It is possible to go inside, but it costs 20 pound (that seems to be the average cost of the big attractions in London). You can actually get in for free on Sundays if you say you’re going for worship, although keep in mind it will be very crowded, so it’s probably not the most enjoyable way to experience the cathedral.

Walk Around!

These things are barely the tip of the iceberg when it comes to London, but they’ll make for a weekend you’ll never forget. One thing I don’t regret, however, is walking everywhere! Even though my feet were absolutely killing me by the end of the trip, I got to see a lot of London in between walking from one main attraction to another. There are plenty of pubs, places to eat, statues, and red telephone booths to see on the way to pretty much anywhere in Westminster, so I highly recommend saving some extra money and getting some exercise by spending your two days walking as much as you possibly can (Google maps and Starbucks wifi will be your best friends while doing this).

Introduction

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Introduction

Hi! I’m Lianna, a 20 year old girl from central Florida, and this is where my blog begins. Like many other writers, I dealt with a very long writer’s block where no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t create anything. Then I was randomly inspired (I still can’t remember where the idea came from, it just feels like it popped into my brain somehow) to start this blog. After a lot of planning and teaching myself how to actually make a decent looking website, I made it happen. This is a travel and lifestyle blog, meaning exactly what it sounds like – it will be focusing on my travels and the topic of traveling in general with a little bit of day to day life thrown in. I started this blog because two of my greatest passions (besides petting animals) are traveling and writing and I just decided to combine these things and share it with some sort of audience, because why not? It’ll be a little different from the usual travel blog, since I have to balance my never ending urge to see the world with the responsibilities of young adulthood (college, job, loans, savings, relationships, etc). This means I only have certain stretches of time where I can explore the world, but I’m doing the best I can with it until I move on to my next phase of life (I have no idea what that next phase consists of yet, but definitely more traveling). I’d love to look back at posts one day and see how I’ve grown to become a world explorer. My next big upcoming trip will be to Berlin, Germany and you can find a list of my other upcoming trips here. You can also find where I’ve already been here.

I plan to write at least one new post every week (every week, I promise). Always feel free to comment on my posts or contact me directly with any questions, comments, things you loved, things you hated, additional information on a topic, anything. You can’t grow without feedback! My hope is that this little blog will inspire other young adults (or anyone of any age) to see somewhere new. Enjoy!