Tag: travel

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! 🙂

 

My Favorite Places to Eat in Berlin

Destinations Europe Germany

My Favorite Places to Eat in Berlin

One thing about Berlin that pleasantly surprised me was all of the incredible food! I had never known Berlin to be a “foodie” capital, but I think it definitely should be. You can get anything there and no matter what it is, it’s going to be delicious. Here are a few of my favorite places to eat in Berlin, Germany:

Fraticelli

Fraticelli is an Italian restaurant located near Alexanderplatz. You can eat inside or outside and since it was a beautiful, breezy September morning, I decided to eat breakfast at one of the tables outside. One thing to keep in mind though, if you’re not already aware, is that Berlin is full of bees! This makes it a little difficult to enjoy eating outside, since they’ll constantly try to fly into your food and drinks, so next time I think I would eat inside. The service at Fraticelli is pretty slow (they seemed seriously understaffed), so this isn’t the place to grab a meal if you’re in a rush, but if you have some time to spare then the food is totally worth the wait. They even have blankets to put over yourself if you get cold!

I had a cappuccino with cream and a glass of prosecco to drink. To eat, I had the brunch plate for two (obviously I shared it, it was a lot of food). The brunch plate had all kinds of yummy breakfast foods, like fresh fruits, various sliced meats and cheeses, scrambled eggs, sausages, grilled chicken, salmon, granola, nutella, butter, jam, and a basket of bread rolls. It was really a breakfast to remember. This meal was so filling, but in a healthy way instead of the “I’m about to explode” fullness you feel when you eat a lot of fried or greasy foods.

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Il Buco Di Heidi

Il Buco Di Heidi is a little French cafe and another breakfast stop during my stay in Berlin. Once again, you can eat inside or outside and I chose to eat outside, which led to the same problem: bees everywhere. If you’re not a fan of bees, don’t eat outside in Berlin (obviously, something I kept forgetting). The service here was very quick, so it’s very easy to spend only about half an hour here and be on your way. The atmosphere is very much what a French cafe should be, cute and cozy.

To drink, I had a an elder and rhubarb German spritz drink. It was so refreshing and tasted amazing. Please don’t make the mistake of just getting a small glass like I did because it actually is really small! To eat, I had an omelette with smoked salmon. The portions here are generally not very big, but the food is healthy, fresh, and delicious while looking pretty, too!

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Alexanderplatz Sausage Cart

Okay this isn’t a restaurant, but if you eat anything in Berlin, please eat a sausage from one of the carts in Alexanderplatz! They’re always there, day and night (I would know because I had a sausage for dinner once and then again for breakfast another day, I couldn’t help myself). I’ve never really liked sausages, but German sausages are really the best ones in the world, by far. It might sound like I’m exaggerating, but trust me, you need to try a sausage in Berlin. They’re crispy and full of flavor, even the bread they’re served on is soft and tastes great. If I could get on a plane and go get one right now, I would.

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Burger Vision

Who doesn’t love a good burger? Burger Vision is the place to go if you’re craving a burger in Berlin. They have all kinds of burgers, from your classic double cheeseburger, to Hawaiian burgers, chicken burgers, veggie burgers, and more. The staff was super friendly, they even took the time to explain what some of the German words around the restaurant mean in English.

The burgers are excellent, made fresh right in front of you and they’re huge, juicy, and full of flavor! The fries and onion rings are just as delicious as the burgers. I had a Hawaii burger, which is a cheeseburger with pineapple. I’d never had a burger with pineapple, but it actually tastes really good  and I’ve even started adding pineapples to burgers I have at home sometimes.

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GPSMyCity Travel Guide Articles + App Giveaway

Lifestyle

GPSMyCity Travel Guide Articles + App Giveaway

What is a GPSMyCity travel article?

Many people have limited internet access when traveling abroad, which makes it difficult to research places to go while you’re there. On top of that, you’d have to spend extra time figuring out how to get to your desired location. What if you could have access to informative and easy to understand articles with GPS coordinates built in? Well, you can with the GPSMyCity app!

Through the GPSMyCity app you can download numerous travel articles covering different places of interest throughout over 700 cities around the world. Each article is its own individual app located within the GPSMyCity app, which you can use without internet access (no roaming or data plan needed!) once download. Every article has a built in offline map that you can use to get around once you’re in the city. Basically, with this app you’ll be able to be your own tour guide! The articles are free to download and read wherever you go and you have the option to upgrade your article to access the GPS guided version complete with travel routes, a high resolution map, and no ads for just $1.99! Not only are you paying a tiny fraction of what it would cost to go on a guided group tour of a city, you’re also paying for peace of mind since the upgraded GPS version will easily save you from getting lost in an unfamiliar place.

Upgraded App Giveaway!

For a limited time (October 17th, 2016 to October 24th, 2016), you can access the upgraded version of my article app “Mini Travel Guide: Belfast, Northern Ireland” on GPSMyCity for FREE! That means you can check out how this app works for yourself for absolutely no cost. To access the article app, click the link below:

GPSMyCity: Mini Travel Guide: Belfast, Northern Ireland (Links directly to iTunes. If you haven’t downloaded GPSMyCity you will be prompted to do so. Once you download the app you will be redirected to the article and will see an option to upgrade it.)

You can also download the GPSMyCity app through the app store and browse or search cities. Click on or search for the city of your choice, then click the guide you’d like to download. Once the guide downloads, you will see an option to upgrade it. For example, if you wanted to find my Belfast article you would download GPSMyCity, search for “Belfast, Northern Ireland” and scroll down until you see the article titled “Mini Travel Guide: Belfast, Northern Ireland”.

Don’t forget to use GPSMyCity for your next trip!

GPSMyCity article apps are currently on available for iOS devices, Android versions are still being developed.

Seven Places You Should Visit in Berlin, Germany

Destinations Europe Germany

Seven Places You Should Visit in Berlin, Germany

Berlin, Germany’s capital city, merges a rich history with a modern, artistic edge and has an endless amount of things to do. I never once felt bored during my stay here, far from it in fact. Here are seven places I went to in Berlin that you should definitely check out during your visit!

 

Alexanderplatz

Alexanderplatz is a major square and and transportation hub in Berlin, as well as one of its most famous sights. If you’re in Berlin, you’ll probably end up at Alexanderplatz whether you planned to or not, since its a convenient central place for shopping and getting around. I was there every day during my time in Berlin, whether it was to exchange currency, shop for new clothes (the H&M there is amazing), transfer trains, or even grab one of those delicious German sausages. It may not seem like it, since Alexanderplatz appears very commercial now, but it is also a place that holds a lot of history. Alexanderplatz was actually a market during the Middle Ages and most of it was destroyed as a result of a bombing in World War 2. The square was rebuilt and Berlin’s famous TV-tower, Fernsehturm, was one of the results.

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Berlin Zoological Garden

I’m an animal lover, so of course I was excited to check out the Berlin Zoological Garden and I highly recommend it! It’s the oldest zoo in Germany and like many buildings in Berlin, had been destroyed during World War 2, but completely rebuilt again. It’s a unique zoo because of its wide open spaces, beautiful scenery, and an impressive variety of animals. They probably have your favorite animal at this zoo since they have nearly everything, from elephants and lions to penguins and pandas, a petting zoo and even an aquarium. So many baby animals too! I couldn’t get enough of watching all of these amazing animals, many of which had huge habitats that were an accurate replica of their natural habitats. If you love animals, this zoo a must.

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Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church

I actually went here out of curiosity without knowing exactly what it was and I’m glad I did. The Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church has been preserved as an anti-war memorial representing peace. It has a damaged appearance as a result of being heavily bombed in World War 2. Inside is a mini museum, taking you through the church’s history. I didn’t know anything about this place before going inside and was in awe that I was standing in yet another piece of history. Right next to the ruins is the new church where services take place. It’s a modern style building with blue shimmering light coming from the inside. A service was going to take place shortly after we stumbled upon the church, so we decided it wouldn’t hurt to experience it. Everyone is welcome to join in. Whether you’re religious or not, it’s just one of those experiences that make you feel like you’re witnessing something meaningful. The service took place completely in German and since I know very little of it, I didn’t stay for the entire thing, but it’s worth at least a peek inside.

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Berlin Wall East Side Gallery

How can you go to Berlin without seeing the Berlin Wall? This was one of the places I had looked forward to seeing most and it did not disappoint. Art has always fascinated me and the street art on the Berlin Wall East Side Gallery is incredible. So many ideas are represented on these walls, from pop culture inspired pieces to political statements. The Berlin Wall East Side Gallery is much more than an art gallery though, it’s an important piece of history (can you tell that this is the case with pretty much everything in Berlin?). The Berlin Wall once served as a barrier that divided the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) and the Federal Republic (West Germany) from 1961 to 1989. Its purpose was to prevent East Germans from fleeing to West Berlin, but more than 5,000 people were able to cross anyway. About 3,200 were arrested at the border and more than 160 were killed. The wall was taken down in 1989 to symbolize Germany’s unification and the East Side Gallery is what has been preserved from it.

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Museum Island

This was one of my favorite places in all of Berlin! Museum Island is what it sounds like; the northern part of an island in the Spree river located in central Berlin, home to five world famous museums, plus the Berlin Cathedral and a gigantic bookstore. The five museums are the Pergamon Museum, Bode Museum, Neues Museum, Alte Nationalgalerie, and Altes Museum. The Berlin Cathedral is a stunning church building both inside and out. If you pay to go inside (don’t forget your student ID for a discount), you can walk all the way up to the top for a stunning view of Berlin. Also in Museum Island is Buchhandlung Walther Konig, a bookstore that’s much bigger than it looks on the surface. You can’t tell as soon as you walk in, but if you simply keep walking further and further into the store you’ll realize that it’s actually huge with an overwhelming amount of books. Many are in German, but there are plenty in English and even some in other languages like Japanese. They cover a vast amount of topics such as art, photography, politics, different countries, and even just life advice. Museum Island is a breath of fresh air for any artist or art lover.

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Brandenburg Gate

The Brandenburg Gate is the symbol of Berlin. From gift shops to designs shaped like the Brandenburg Gate decorating the trains, it’s pretty obvious that this is an important part of what makes up Berlin. The gate was erected between 1788 and 1791 as a masterpiece inspired by the Propylaea in Athens. The gate has taken on many meanings from when it was originally commissioned as a symbol of peace to being used as a political party symbol to today being used as one of Berlin’s symbols of unification. Of course, like all great landmarks, the Brandenburg Gate is usually incredibly crowded. Tourists from all over the world come to see it, so odds are you’ll end up with either a crowd of people in any pictures you take or you’ll have to wait around for a long time for the crowds to start dissipating. Regardless, this is a must-see in Berlin.

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Last Cathedral Horror Rock Bar

Last but certainly not least is a much more local place to go to in Berlin, The Last Cathedral Horror Rock Bar. I noticed it because it just happened to be right next to the apartment I was staying in during my visit (which was super exciting for me). Loud rock and heavy metal music blasts from the bar every night until about four in the morning and all types of alternative fashioned (leather jackets, piercings, dyed hair and all) Berliners spend their time there, dancing and drinking. The inside of the bar is full of skulls, creepy old fashioned art, and even tables shaped like coffins. Even the bathrooms are edgy and filled with graffiti. All of the drinks are horror themed, like the one pictured below called The Zombie. I never thought that a rock horror bar was a real thing, but it’s the coolest bar I’ve been to and if I lived in Berlin, this would be my number one hangout spot. This isn’t a typical tourist stop though, so don’t expect the people going to the bar or the bartenders to understand you unless you speak German!

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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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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.