Tag: travel blog

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.

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

 

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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

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 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

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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.

 

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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!

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!