Month: September 2016

How I Spent a 6 Hour Layover in Copenhagen, Denmark

Denmark Destinations Europe

How I Spent a 6 Hour Layover in Copenhagen, Denmark

Before having a layover in Copenhagen on my way to Germany, Denmark was a place that had never really crossed my mind. Now I can easily say that I fell in love with this adorable city and would return for a longer stay with no hesitation.

The first thing I did upon arrival was exchange 150 USD to about 1000 DKK (this was for me and the two other people I was traveling with). At the currency exchange area of the airport, we asked one of the workers for directions on how exactly to get to the main area of Copenhagen. The Danish are easily the friendliest and most helpful people I’ve ever met, all the people we spoke to were so eager to help us during our whole trip! This meant finding out how to get around was no problem. The worker even took the time to mark a map with the directions in case we forgot anything. We took a train straight from the airport to Nyhavn, a waterfront district in Copenhagen, with no problems and began exploring.

 IMG_6468      IMG_6471

I’ll never forget stepping out from the train station and seeing the city for the first time. My first impression was that it was such a charming and beautiful place. I had to stop and take a moment to take it all in.The colors and general architecture of the buildings were so picturesque, exactly how Europe looks in paintings and movies. Copenhagen was one of those places that was “love at first sight” for me and I couldn’t believe that I may have never visited it if not for having a layover there.

 

FullSizeRender_1 IMG_6457

Of course, after flying for about 7 hours without much to eat I was starving, so our first stop was a cafe called Espresso House. This is a popular Scandinavian chain originating in Sweden, with super quick service and a cozy, comfortable vibe. I would describe it as a cuter, less crowded version of Starbucks. The menu was all in Danish, but it’s easy to tell what the items would be in English because the words look similar. Even if you can’t figure it out, most Danish people speak English (something I didn’t know before visiting, but easily figured out) so you can always ask. I ordered an iced caramel latte and a banana nut muffin, both of which were fresh and delicious.

 

IMG_6469

A really cool thing that I stumbled upon in Copenhagen was an interactive art installation called the Oases in Copenhagen. It’s a huge spinning wheel that has the names and brief descriptions of different attractions around the city on it. Whatever you land on when you spin it is your suggested attraction to check out, which is perfect if you’re a tourist figuring out your next move. Great idea, right? I spun it and ended up landing “CHR. HAUNS CANAL: Enjoy a walk along the canal” and that’s exactly what I did next.

FullSizeRender_3

FullSizeRender_2

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again; Copenhagen is so adorable, especially by the canal. There’s nothing like being in a peaceful city where everyone is sitting down in the grass drinking beer or riding by on their bikes, walking along the water and forgetting all of your problems. It’s really therapeutic. After walking around, I was especially excited to take a canal boat tour around the city. It was the first time I had ever been on a canal boat ride and it’s one of my favorite things I’ve ever done while traveling anywhere. The boat tour was an hour long, taking you all around the area while talking about the history of Copenhagen in Danish, English, and Italian. You could even have a beer while taking in the view of colorful buildings, palaces, sculptures, and more. It was such a relaxing and unique experience and I wouldn’t recommend visit Copenhagen for the first time without taking a boat ride along the canal. You should especially check this out if, like me, you don’t have much time in Copenhagen, but still want to get a glimpse at the whole city. Plus, you have the option to buy both the boat ride ticket and a discounted admission pass to an amusement park called Tivoli Gardens at the same booth, which was great because that happened to be my next activity.

 

IMG_6462

                             FullSizeRender                    IMG_6454

 

The only place that I had actually planned ahead of time to go to in Copenhagen was Tivoli Gardens. This is the world’s 2nd oldest amusement park, opened in 1843. It was about a 30 minute walk from where we were in Nyhavn, probably shorter if we hadn’t gotten lost. Luckily, a few friendly Danish people saved the day  and we ended up finding our way there. By this time, we were pretty close to having to go back to the airport, but decided to have a look around and get on one ride. Tivoli, like the rest of the city, was such a cute amusement park with an old-time feel. It combined the feelings of a nice stroll in the park with the excitement of a carnival. There were all kinds of rides, from roller coasters to giant swings to carousels. The costs of the rides wasn’t included in the admission though and each one cost a different amount of tickets or you could get a wrist band to get on all of them. Since we were pressed for time, we just walked around the amusement park and went on the carousel, which cost one ticket. One interesting thing we learned from this experience is that Merry-Go-Round and carousel don’t seem to translate over to Danish. We asked two different employees where to find the ride and were met with confused expressions until we described it as “the thing that spins around with the horses on it”. Despite the fact that we didn’t get to do a lot in Tivoli, I still had an amazing time even seeing it and have even more of a reason to come back to Denmark now.

After Tivoli, we had to head back to the airport to make sure we wouldn’t miss our flight and I was genuinely so sad to leave, but so glad to have experienced such a wonderful place, even in such a short amount of time. I’ve now gone from trying to get direct flights whenever possible in order to avoid layovers to hoping for long layovers in new places because I had such a great time. Denmark, I will be seeing you again!

Why You Should Travel In Your 20’s

Lifestyle

Why You Should Travel In Your 20’s

There’s no better time to see the world than when you’re young enough to have nothing set in stone, but old enough to have freedom: your 20’s. I’m still very new to this stage of life (20 and a half), but there’s nothing I want more than to go on road trips, catch flights, cruise the ocean, anything that will get me somewhere new. Why wait? Here are a few reasons you should take advantage of this time in your life and travel as much as you can:

You Don’t Have (Many) Expenses

I’m not going to be unrealistic here, of course you have expenses. We all do. The thing is, while you’re in your 20’s you more than likely don’t have a mortgage, that many bills, or any of the huge expenses that tend to come later on in your more stable adult life. It’s easier at this point in your life than ever to cut out some of the things you don’t need sometimes (that new tattoo, expensive clothing, night out with friends, the list goes on) and instead put that extra money into your savings. Do this every paycheck and watch your savings grow until you have enough for that well deserved vacation! Every little bit counts.

You Don’t Have Any (Huge) Responsibilities

Once again, obviously you have responsibilities. You may be in college or have a job or both, but if you haven’t started a family or a career that you see yourself in for a long time, then you really don’t have anything big and permanent to hold you back. There are always breaks from your classes, chances to study abroad, vacations from work, or new jobs waiting for you. You don’t have to be gone for years or even months to travel. Odds are, nothing is completely stopping you from traveling to the point that it’s impossible while you’re in your 20’s. People tend to make excuses out of fear of the unknown, it’s only natural, but don’t buy into these excuses when there’s always a way around them!

It’s Way Cheaper For You

At this point of your life, you don’t have to stay in a luxury hotel or take a quick and easy taxi ride everywhere. In fact, you might even prefer not to! Hostels are so much cheaper than hotels it’s unbelievable and while you’re in your 20’s you most likely won’t mind staying in a room with other travelers around your age or walking around a new city until your feet ache. It’s all about the adventure, which ends up saving you a lot of money during your trip.

You Can Party and Not Regret It

Face it, once you get older you’ll barely be able to stay up past 10 pm, you won’t be able to drink a lot without feeling like death the next day, and you might even have kids or a day job to get up to in the morning. Not exactly the most ideal time to party. When you’re still young, you can make the most of traveling and experience the night life in all kinds of different places with no regrets!

You Can Make Friends From All Over The World

The more you travel, the more people you’ll meet and the more friends you’ll make. This means making connections with people from literally all over the globe! It’s great in general to have new people to talk to and discover more about other cultures through them and this can also make for a possible place to stay on your next trip to their hometown. If you’re traveling while you’re older or with family, you’ll probably find that you and other people your age would rather keep to themselves than get to know other travelers. This is why your 20’s are the best time to make friends abroad.

It Looks Good On Your Resume 

One thing not many people know is that traveling actually looks great on your resume! Potential employers can learn a lot about you from knowing that you’re well traveled. This means that you’re not afraid to make decisions for yourself, you’re organized enough to plan and go through with these trips, and you’ve been exposed to other cultures and different types of people. You’re up for a challenge and odds are, you’re great at communicating since communicating with other people (sometimes even with a language barrier) for help during your travels is a must. Bonus points if you picked up another language during one of your adventures. Employers love all of these things and odds are if it came down to you and someone else with the same qualifications, but they don’t have much travel experience, they would choose you for the job.

You’ll Have Stories To Tell

Honestly, what will you remember more? Spending your 20’s stressing out over the future and constantly having every move you make focus on it or the first time you decided to go backpacking across Europe? When you’re catching up with old friends, will you brag about sitting in a cubicle all day or about your first time seeing the Great Wall of China? Traveling, especially during your young adult years, will give you so many incredible stories to share. I guarantee, anytime you travel anywhere, you’ll have a story to tell. Plus, nothing is a better conversation starter than bringing up one of your trips. Do you want to be the one saying “wow, I wish I could’ve done that” or the one telling the story?

You’ll Grow As A Person

How much can you really learn about yourself if you’re stuck in the same place your entire life? There’s an infinite amount of places to see, people to meet, things to do, and foods to eat all over the world. You will never have much of an understanding of the world or yourself if you do not experience as much of these things as you can. There’s nothing like being immersed in another culture and discovering how different, yet alike, we all really are. You can read all the books and watch all of the movies you want, but you’ll never learn as much as you will by exploring for yourself. Nothing will make you grow as a person more than being exposed to the world around you. What better time to grow than during your 20’s?

Tomorrow Is Not Guaranteed

Not to be a bummer, but I’ve said it before and I will say it again: we won’t live forever.  You can tell yourself that you’ll travel when you retire or that you’ll find time for it in a few years all you want, but who’s to say you’ll make it that far? Anything can happen to any of us at any time and as cliche as it is, it’s true that tomorrow is not guaranteed and life is unpredictable. Make traveling more than just a dream. Stop telling yourself that you’ll wait until the time is “right” because odds are that the time will never feel exactly right. There’s no better day than today.

Mini Travel Guide: Belfast, Northern Ireland

Destinations Europe Northern Ireland

Mini Travel Guide: Belfast, Northern Ireland

    Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland and birthplace of the Titanic, is one of the most underrated tourist destinations in Europe. With its affordable prices (from flights to food) and plenty of easy to reach attractions, Belfast is definitely a place worth exploring! I’ve stayed in this city multiple times and would certainly go back.

What is the weather like?

Like the rest of the UK, Belfast is generally a rainy city throughout the year. The winters are cold and rainy, bringing frost and often snow. The temperature often ranges from about negative 8 degrees Celsius to 1.2 Celsius (18 to 34 degrees Fahrenheit). Spring brings warmer temperatures, although it still isn’t very warm in the spring yet. Like most countries, Spring also tends to bring a lot of rain. Temperatures can range from 0.1 Celsius to 10.7 Celsius (32 to 51 degrees Fahrenheit). Summer gets much warmer and less rainy (although you can still expect it start pouring on random days). The temperature ranges from 10.5 degrees Celsius to 24.6 degrees Celsius (51 to 76 degrees Fahrenheit). Autumn mostly consists of chilly weather, rain and wind with temperatures ranging from -1 degrees Celsius to 20.3 degrees Celsius (30 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit).

How much will you spend?

Accommodation: Hotel costs range from about 30 GBP (British pounds) to 100 GBP per night depending on the quality of the hotel. Hostels can range from about 10 GBP per night to 30 GBP per night.

Transportation Fares: The typical train fare in Belfast is 4 GBP. The bus fare is about 2.80 GBP and taxis are 3 GBP for the first 3 miles then an extra GBP per mile. Tips: Use buses and trains rather than taxis because most places are within walking distance from train or bus stops. If you must use a taxi, the most affordable company is 24/7 cabs. Avoid black taxis because they tend to overcharge.

Cost of Food: A meal from a pub or cafe would typically cost you about 10 GBP. Purchasing a fast food meal would cost around 5 GBP. A meal from the average Belfast restaurant can cost about 20-30 GBP and purchasing week’s worth of groceries would typically cost 50-60 GBP.

Main Attractions

FullSizeRender (15)

 Belfast City Hall

City Hall

The Belfast City Hall is one of the most iconic buildings in Belfast and the city’s civic building. This is a place that holds a lot of history for Northern Ireland. It was first opened in 1906. This is a must see attraction if you’re visiting Belfast and the best part is that you can tour the inside of the building for free!  The tours are available weekdays from 10 am to 4 pm and weekends from 12 pm to 4 pm.

Botanic Gardens

Another popular tourist destination is Belfast’s Botanic Gardens. Established in 1828, this park is a perfect place to simply walk around and enjoy the day looking at beautiful flowers and plants of all kinds. There’s even greenhouses located in the park that contain unusual and tropical plant species. It’s a great spot to soak up the sun on warm days, have a picnic or just sit on a bench and relax. With the exception of any special events, access to the Botanic Gardens is free.

Ulster Museum

This museum is located in the Botanic Gardens and is the largest museum in Northern Ireland. This is another free attraction for all visitors! Here you can find exhibits displaying the animals of Northern Ireland, botany, fine and applied art, archaeology, geology and even an Egyptian mummy.

Queen’s University Belfast

Located just a short walk away from the Botanic Gardens is Queen’s University. Open in 1849, Queen’s University Belfast is in the top 1% of Global Universities and has a reputation for being a great place to study in the UK. The campus is absolutely beautiful, with classic old-fashioned British buildings and lush green landscaping. Guided tours of the university are provided and plenty of information is given at the Welcome Center. This is an especially must see spot if you’re a student looking into studying abroad, since many students from all over the world study abroad at this university.

Victoria Square

Victoria Square is the biggest shopping center in all of Belfast and Northern Ireland. There are over 70 stores, cafes and restaurants located in the shopping center, as well as a cinema, making this place a great entertainment spot. What makes Victoria Square unique is its glass dome, which is also a viewing spot where you can see Belfast’s skyline.

Peace Walls

The first peace walls were built in 1969 to divide the Protestant and Catholic neighborhoods in Northern Ireland during “the Troubles” (a national conflict between those who wanted Northern Ireland to remain part of the United Kingdom, who were mostly Protestants, and those who wanted Northern Ireland to leave and become a united Ireland, who were mostly Catholic). They are a huge part of Irish history and today they are covered in all kinds of unique street art. You have to hurry if you want to see the peace walls though, as all of them are set to be demolished by 2023.

Titanic Museum

The Titanic Belfast is a museum dedicated to the famous RMS Titanic ship, which had been built in Belfast. In this museum, you can take a self guided tour or a walking tour with a guide (the tour with the guide does not include the interactive galleries). This museum gives you an inside look at the making of the Titanic, the tragic story of the night it sank, and real artifacts from the ship. It’s a fascinating and very educational experience.

Titanic Quarter

The Titanic quarter is a waterfront quarter full of things to see and do. Not only is it home to the Titanic museum, but it is also where the SSE arena (Northern Ireland’s biggest indoor arena), SS Nomadic (a steamship of the White Star Line), HMS Carolina (a World War I light battle cruiser), different hotels, and restaurants are located. You can easily spend one of your days in Belfast here by taking a museum tour, getting dinner, and seeing a show.

St. George’s Market

St. George’s market is the last remaining Victorian market in Belfast and considered to be one of the best in the UK. It is only open Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Here you can find meat, fruit, vegetables, cheeses, books, clothes, pottery, and handmade crafts made by locals. Local artists and bands also perform live music at the market. This is really a unique experience that gives you a glimpse of what it was like in Victorian age United Kingdom.

Cathedral Quarter

This is the oldest part of Belfast, named after St. Anne’s Cathedral. The Cathedral Quarter is where Belfast’s art scene is. From Writer’s Square, engraved with quotations from Belfast’s famous writers, to the Black Box, where local performers show off their talent, to the MAC, a multi-arts venue, there’s no doubt that this part of Belfast is full of culture. If you love history and the arts, this is the place for you.

Where to Eat

IMG_6332Chicken and bacon burger and chips from City Picnic, located on Castle Street

Castle Street: Castle Street has plenty of places to eat, from breakfast to burgers to cafes and fish and chip shops.

Victoria Square: In Victoria Square, you can find a variety of chain restaurants including Mexican, American, Italian, and Asian cuisine.

Cathedral quarter: In Cathedral Quarter, you can find various bars, pubs, and restaurants. A local favorite here is The Northern Whig, a designer bar that offers a menu of delicious food and cocktails.

Lisburn Road: Lisburn Road is another place full of restaurants and bars. A local favorite here is Ryan’s, a casual restaurant and bar with an international and grill menu.

Bars and Clubs

FullSizeRender (14)Madden’s Bar

Madden’s Bar

This is a very traditional Irish pub with live Irish music, dancing, and plenty of Guinness. If you want an authentic Irish pub experience where you can meet friendly locals and drink to your heart’s content, this is the right place to come to.

The Crown Liquor Saloon

This is an 1820’s style pub and one of Northern Ireland’s most famous, known for its old-fashioned interior. This pub has booths made of mahogany, mosaic tiles, gas lamps built by Italian artisan builders. Even if you don’t drink, you should definitely stop by and take a look at what has been called one of the most beautiful bars in the world.

Lavery’s

Lavery’s is a traditional style sports bar, complete with a roof terrace and pool table room. This is the ideal place for a casual night out of enjoying good food and drinks, watching a game, and playing a few rounds of pool.

Box Nightclub

Located in the SSE arena, Box Nightclub is 2 floor club with 6 bars. This is one of Belfast’s more prestigious clubs and is largely popular with young people. It features LED screens, plasma screens, DJ booths, and sometimes live music.

Limelight 

Limelight, a favorite among locals, is a multi-genre club venue. It also hosts live music acts from various artists and bands, both popular and local. This venue is made of two clubs, features a bar with a large selection of drinks and has a rooftop terrace.

 

Get this article on the go with the GPSMyCity app!

 

Tips for Traveling with Pets

Travel Tips

Tips for Traveling with Pets

Anyone who knows me well knows that I’m a huge animal lover, so it’s no surprise that one of the first things that comes to mind when I’m planning a trip is what will happen to my pets. Luckily, a simple solution for me is to just get someone to take care of them while I’m gone, but what if I wanted to take them with me?

Should I even bring my pet on a trip in the first place?

  Before making any further plans to bring your pet along for your next adventure, consider if it’s worth it to begin with. Some animals (especially old or sickly ones) are easily stressed out, especially when faced with an unexpected change of environment and the journey to get there. Like people, stress in animals can take a negative toll on their health. If your pet is easily stressed, it’s probably best to spare them the trip altogether and leave them in the care of somebody you trust. You should always consider the happiness and safety of your pet before making decisions involving them.

How should I prepare before traveling with my pet?

  If you think that traveling won’t be a big problem for your pet, your next step should be finding out what requirements must be met for pet travel. If you’re traveling by airplane, make sure you go to the airline’s website or call them for their requirements. Prices for bringing your pet vary depending on the airline, pet species, and pet size, but you should expect to pay at least 100 dollars to bring them. Most airlines will also want you to have a health certificate signed by your veterinarian and may require them to have certain shots (animals that are not old enough for shots are usually not allowed to travel). A trip to the vet before traveling is a must for your companion. In addition to getting all the documents and shots that you need, it’s also a good idea to ask if your pet is healthy enough to travel (they will most likely give them a check up regardless, but it doesn’t hurt to ask). Another big thing to consider is getting a pet microchip. This chip is implanted underneath your pet’s skin and will contain valuable information about them, such as your contact information, that can be easily accessed by bringing them to any veterinarian’s office or animal hospital. You never know what could happen to your pet while traveling, so it will give you peace of mind to know that you can easily be reached if your pet is lost.

   If your pet is traveling by car, you should still bring them to the vet for a check up and microchip if they do not already have one. You should also pay extra attention to your pet packing list (I’ll go into this more later in the article). One important thing to have is a comfortable carrier so that your pet will be safe and secure in the car (be sure to restrain the carrier using a seat belt), as well as plastic bags and paper towels for cleaning up after them.

  No matter how you’re traveling, always double check that you have pet friendly accommodation! Some hotels do not allow any animals at all, or may only allow cats or certain dog breeds. Make sure you call your hotel before you book it and ask if your specific type of pet is allowed.

What should I pack for my pet?

Here is what should be on your packing list when traveling with your pet:

  • Food and water dishes
  • Pet food
  • Bottled water
  • Collar and ID tag
  • Bedding
  • Medication (if needed)
  • Animal first aid kit
  • Litter box and litter (for cats) or pee pads (if you use this with your dog)
  • Grooming supplies
  • Stain remover/deodorizer
  • Paper towels
  • Pet’s favorite toy or blanket

How can I keep my pet comfortable while traveling?

  As soon as you decide to take your pet on vacation with you, get them used to being in a carrier and a car. The more they experience being in a carrier and a moving vehicle, the faster they can adjust to it. This will prevent them from being overly uncomfortable on your way to your destination. Be sure that the carrier has enough room for your pet to be able to turn around comfortably and lay down. On the day of the trip, make sure your pet has eaten, but not immediately before you take off, as this can cause them to have an upset stomach. It is recommended that you feed them about four hours before your flight (or car ride). When it comes to water, staying hydrated is very important, so continue to make sure your pet has access to water up until it is time to take off. It also helps to give them small treats (not too many, though) before the flight and during, if possible. This can help ease their nerves a bit. One thing you should never do is sedate your pet before your flight (unless your veterinarian deems it necessary). Being sedated can affect an animal’s respiratory and cardiovascular functions. These effects can be enhanced by the pressure from high altitude travel. There have been many cases of animals dying from over sedation for travel, so this is definitely something that should not be taken into your own hands. Like I said earlier, if your pet does not seem fit to travel then simply do not travel with them, or if you must take them then be sure to get a veterinarian’s opinion on sedation first if you think it may be needed.

Did this article make you feel more prepared to travel the world with your furry friend? Let me know in the comments!