Category: United States of America

A Quick Los Angeles, California Itinerary

California Destinations North America United States of America

A Quick Los Angeles, California Itinerary

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

 

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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

 

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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

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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

 

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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

 

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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.

griffith observatory

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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!

 

summary

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!

 

 

 

 

Should You Travel Out of State by Bus?

Travel Tips United States of America

Should You Travel Out of State by Bus?

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. 

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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.

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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.

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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!

Exploring Gatlinburg, Tennessee: Day Two

North America Tennessee United States of America

Exploring Gatlinburg, Tennessee: Day Two

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!

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 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.

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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).

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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! 🙂

 

Exploring Gatlinburg, Tennessee: Day One

North America Tennessee United States of America

Exploring Gatlinburg, Tennessee: Day One

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 . 


Day One

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.

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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.

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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.

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Sky Lift

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.

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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.

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Arcade City

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.

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Make sure to check out part two of this post: Exploring Gatlinburg, Tennessee: Day Two!

Disney’s International Food and Wine Festival at Epcot

Destinations Florida United States of America

Disney’s International Food and Wine Festival at Epcot

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!

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Here’s all the places I got to visit:


Hawaii

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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.


Patagonia

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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

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  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

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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.


Mexico

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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.


Germany

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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).


Scotland

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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

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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!

Authentic Japanese Food in Orlando, Florida

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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.

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!