Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Portlandia

I got to visit my friend Stephanie in Portland, Oregon last weekend!!! Stephanie and I studied abroad together in Salzburg over two years ago. She was able to make a quick trip to Atlanta on her way to visit family, but this was really the first time we've seen each other since then! It was so much fun - I loved Portland!

My flight got intoPortland on Thursday night later than expected, but still with enough time to rest up for a full day of seeing the city on Friday while Stephanie was at work. (Side note: 6 hour flights are such a pain!!! What do you do to pass the time?)


Even though I felt ok in the morning (the time difference is 3 hours - so 9 AM was really noon for me!) I started off my morning at Barista Coffee. Stephanie recommended a ton of places, and this was on her list for their beautiful latte art! I couldn't resist taking a picture #basic.


After my coffee, I walked a couple of blocks over to Powell's City of Books - which was AMAZING. I seriously got lost in the store - it's so huge. I had a lot of time to spend there so I walked around first and went to each different room, then I went shopping. I had to force myself to put books back on the shelf because I literally would have blown my budget! I ended up getting The Good Girl and The Boys in the Boat



I spent the afternoon walking around near the waterfront. I walked around Chinatown, passed Voodoo Doughnuts (hardest self-control moment of my life - but the line wrapped around the store definitely helped!), and ended up by the Steel Bridge. It had been a little rainy earlier in the day but luckily cleared up around the same time as I was leaving Powell's to walk around! Great timing!


I went to Pine Street Market for lunch, which is a food hall with many many options to choose from - I was definitely overwhelmed! It also didn't help that it was right at lunch rush and super crowded! I walked around trying to choose from the pizza, ramen bar, Korean BBQ restaurant, and southern burger stand. I ended up getting pizza which was very good! Next time I'm definitely going to the burger stand and getting their BBQ fries with lunch - the woman who I sat next to while eating had them and they looked amazing! (These fries are from Bar Bar, where we went at night.)


I'll be honest... at this point, the jet lag was catching up so I went and took a nap for a few hours! (Read: I watched like 7 episodes of The Office.) Then I picked Stephanie up from work, went shopping, had dinner and hit the town. 


Saturday was very nice for Portland standards. (Kind of chilly for Atlanta standards, ha!) We spent the day wandering the streets of Alberta, which is the up-and-coming art neighborhood of Portland.


No Saturday is complete with out street tacos ;) These are from Stella Taco and they were sooooo good. I got the carnitas taco and the fried avocado taco (lower) and Stephanie got a carnitas as well and the brisket. They were all amazing and definitely hit the spot.

 

Be sure to follow my food Instagram for all of my eats during my trips!


Saturday night we went to a burger bar called Tilt for dinner. I was super hungry so I forgot to take a picture of my burger before diving in. Ooooops! But I did manage to take a picture of their homemade pie selection!!



Stiegl is the beer that is specifically brewed in Salzburg, so we drank it all the time studying abroad. The radler is so good - it tastes like carbonated grapefruit juice. I usually always get them, but it was even more special that this time I got to drink mine with the person I discovered them with!


SUNDAY was the main event of the weekend: Portland Pride! We marched with Stephanie's work and had a blast. It was actually very hot and sunny, but overall the weather was very nice.


Unfortunately, my flight got a little funky so I had to go up to Seattle and then take the all-nighter back to Atlanta, which means we had to leave a little earlier than planned. But I still had a great weekend full of great food and even better company.

Have you ever been to Portland?

Monday, June 19, 2017

Bratislava in 24 Hours

One of my major goals when I studied abroad (2.5 years ago... what!!) was to hit as many “off the beaten path” countries as I could. I figured that I could always convince myself to go back to Austria, Germany, France, and Italy, but that the lesser-known countries would be a little harder to go back to. Slovakia was definitely one of those countries, but let me tell y’all… Slovakia is awesome.

Slovakia is relatively new (it became a country again after the fall of the Iron Curtain), but it has so much to offer. It’s also a member of the European Union, so it’s not hard to travel to. Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, is also just a short train ride from Vienna, which makes it an ideal day trip!





When you get to Bratislava, one thing that I would really recommend doing is finding a walking tour to go on. The hostel that I stayed in offered a free one and it ended up being the highlight of my trip. (Many hostels offer them - a great place to find them if your hostel does not is New Europe Tours!) Our guide was born and raised in Bratislava and was attending university there. Her English was amazing and she offered a brand new perspective on the Slovakian revolution to throw off communism since she grew up in the aftermath. The walking tour should ideally take you around the old city of Bratislava and last about 2-3 hours (so make sure you eat a good breakfast or take a snack!).


After the walking tour, choose a place to eat lunch near the main square of the city. This is prime time to try some traditional Slovakian food! I would definitely recommend the “bryndzové halušky” (potato dumplings with sheep cheese, bacon, and sour cream) and “cesnačka” (creamy garlic soup in a bread bowl). Top it off with a local Slovakian beer and you’ll be good to go!


Once you’re stuffed full of delicious Slovakian food, make your way up to the appropriately named Bratislava Castle. You can’t miss it. The castle is on a hill and offers wonderful views of the city and the surrounding Slovakian countryside. After you finish taking in the view, make your way back down to the city. In my opinion, those are the must-do things while in Bratislava. But if you have more time here are a few more things that you can see:

View of the UFO from Bratislava Castle

Panorama from the top of the UFO, Bratislava Castle on the left

Devin Castle – This is about half an hour outside of Bratislava by bus. It’s old ruins of the castle along the Danube River, which makes it lush and green and beautiful on a nice day. If you don’t want to take the bus, another nice option would be to rent bikes and ride along the river until you get there. Unfortunately I didn't make it to Devin Castle, but that's all the more reason to go back to Slovakia ;)

UFO Observation Deck – You can’t miss this landmark in Bratislava. You can see it from almost everywhere in the city. The communists, who wanted to move away from the traditional architecture, built it, but during the U.S.S.R. the observation deck was closed because you could see right into capitalist Austria on a clear day. When it’s sunny, you can see Austria, Hungary, and Slovakia. When it’s not sunny, it’s very windy and cold at the top, so keep that in mind! I actually went up to the top before my afternoon train back to Salzburg - so that's an option too if you're looking for something to fill your morning!

Bratislava is a very very cool country. Don’t be afraid to travel alone there! It’s safe and definitely worth a visit during your travels, whether you’re there for a day or for a longer period of time!


Have you ever been to Bratislava? Let me know!

P.S.: Check out some of my other city guides! (Athens, Greece in 72 Hours and Salzburg, Austria in 24 Hours). More are coming up, but let me know if you have any suggestions! I've been to a lot of cities and I'd be glad to help!

Monday, June 12, 2017

Travel Inspiration

I've been hit with a serious wave of wanderlust. I'm itching to go on a dreamy, adventurous vacation sometime soon... I have a few ideas as to where I want to go, but I can't help feeling inspired by some of these places too.

Here are a few places that I'm absolutely dying to visit.

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ICELAND // Because, duh. How is this place even freaking real?! I've been wanting to visit Iceland for forever, but I want to wait until I can do it properly. (AKA have money to spend on the best trip itinerary ever!)

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CAPE TOWN // Every picture I've ever seen of South Africa is absolutely jaw-droppingly beautiful. My sister studied abroad in Cape Town last summer and loved it, and I also had a couple of friends in college study abroad there too. While I have absolutely zero desire to cage dive with sharks, I have a ton of desire to hike up Table Mountain and go on a safari!

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CHEFCHAOUEN, MOROCCO // Also known at the Blue City, this beautiful city in Morocco has been calling my name for years now. Almost every piece of clothing I own is blue, which I'm pretty sure is a sign. I just want to get lost on these streets.

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PATAGONIA, ARGENTINA // Patagonia has been on my list for a while, too. It's up there with Iceland in terms of "seriously, is this even real?!" I just love these mountains and I want to spend a good bit of time hiking and taking in all that the area has to offer.

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THAILAND // I've wanted to take a trip through Southeastern Asia for a while now, and Thailand is at the top of my list (though I'd be happy with any country, really!). I love the colors, the delicious food (I'm assuming), the culture... just all of it is so wonderful and makes me want to buy a ticket now!

Ok, that's enough for now. I'm pretty much ready to pack a suitcase, board a flight, and never come home.

If you have ever been to and written about one of these places, please share with me!!! I want to live vicariously though you until I can go there for myself!

Friday, June 9, 2017

Weekly Recap

This was a really short week. I ended up being sick on Monday (I think exhaustion after traveling so much, does that happen to anyone else?) so it felt like another 4 day work week.

My friend Erin is visiting for the weekend and we're going to one of my favorite ATL neighborhoods on Friday and the lake on Saturday with my family. My aunt bought a waterski for our boat and I've never waterskied in my life, so I'm nervous but excited to try it out!

On the other hand, I have a feeling that this weekend will be the weekend where I have to make some huge decisions about my future. Hopefully I'll be able to share details soon, but in the meantime, I'm just hoping to keep my sanity while my friend is in town. (Though it will be great to have her around to talk to in person about all of this!)


Mandy Harvey, America's Got Talent // Holy. Crap. This is exactly the kind of inspiration I needed heading into the weekend. I watched this the other night and I really had to keep myself from crying - though on second thought I should have just let it out! I absolutely love this quote that she said, "I wanted to do more with my life than just give up." YES GIRL. I might have to watch AGT just for her!

Homemade Basil Lemonade // I was thinking the other day about a coffee shop in Atlanta that had the best basil lemonade, but I think it closed. Basil lemonade is SO GOOD and so refreshing on a hot summer day (especially in the South when it's 100 degrees and 80+% humidity!). I've never made homemade lemonade but I might have to try this recipe for the infusion of basil.

Amal, The Perfect Mother // Amal Clooney, resident badass human right's lawyer, gave birth to her twins on Tuesday! Of course, they're probably the world's most perfect children. I mean, their mom is one of the greatest women on this earth. I guess their dad is fine too, but Amal is better. Also, this definitely means that Beyonce has given birth to her twins, since her pregnancy announcement was first and she was farther along when her and Jay Z announced that they were expecting... classic Bey keeping it a secret, but we'll hear it soon enough.

Bachelor in Paradise Cast // ABC announced the Bachelor in Paradise season 4 cast (how have there been 4 successful seasons of this...?) earlier this week. I would say that so far the cast is pretty much what we all expected, with the exception of a few. Like, DeMario... what are you doing? Go home my dude.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

4 Books to Read When You Have No Idea What You're Doing With Your Life

I'm so jealous of the people who graduate college and immediately know what they're going to do next. I definitely thought I was one of those people coming into college, but as the years went on (AKA 6 weeks away from graduation) I realized that I had no idea what direction I wanted to go. Luckily, I majored in a pretty versatile subject (broadcast journalism for those curious!) and once you learn how to communicate effectively, you can pretty much do anything with it... but was it really what I wanted to do?

I spent a lot of my first few weeks (ok, months) after graduation trying to figure out my life. And even after two internships, I still have no idea what I'm doing. Here are four books I've read recently that have helped me narrow it down/realize it's ok to have no clue what's coming next.


The One Thing // This book is all about prioritization! If you're like me, you have a thousand things to do and about a million passions you want to follow. The unfortunate reality is that we can't do it all. This book explores different methods of prioritizing tasks so that we can focus on the one thing that will make our lives better and more productive.

You Are A Badass // So this book has been popular for a while, but I've been having a hard time sitting down and finishing it. I think it's a great book and resource for people, I just haven't found the time. (Also I feel a little weird reading a self-help book when my life is perfectly fine/I'm generally pretty happy. Anyone else feel that way?) When I got this book, I had just hit 60 job applications... and 60 non-responses/rejections. I literally felt so crappy and like I wasn't good enough! This book was great for reminding me that I rock, and funnily enough, the week after I bought the book I got an internship at a great company. Kind of silly how that all works out, yeah?

20 Minute Networking Meeting // This one isn't as fun, but it's definitely a great resource. The book basically talks about how to effectively network. (Duh.) Many people don't realize that their networking habits are actually really bad! Like going to a meeting with a friend of a friend, and not writing a single name or suggestion down. Or taking up too much time without having a clear goal going into the meeting. I found this book really interesting as someone looking for a full-time job, and as someone who is open to changing career paths. (Because I don't even have a career yet.)

Strengths Finder // If you haven't taken the strength finder yet, I HIGHLY recommend it!! Not only is it a great answer to the question "What are your greatest strengths?" but it's so insightful. It's one of those things that will make you say "wow, I've never felt so understood!" My five strengths are input, learner, strategic, activator and significance.

Another phenomenal resource that I can't recommend enough is 16 Personalities. It's a (free!) version of the Myers-Briggs test, and if you think Strength Finder understands you... this will blow your mind. I was chatting with a friend about how I was feeling lost and like I was struggling finding my place in the world before I took the test, and my results literally outlined our exact conversation about that. it was almost creepy. I'm INFJ (the Advocate/the rarest personality type) if anyone was curious. I'd love to know your type too!

Have you read any of these books? Are there any that really helped you?

Monday, June 5, 2017

24 Hours in Colorado Springs

I had a crazy week of traveling last week! I went to Colorado on Tuesday night, stayed for work in the morning on Wednesday, flew back to Atlanta Wednesday evening, and then back out to Colorado Friday afternoon and back home again on Sunday! It was definitely exhausting, but also amazing! I just love being surrounded by the mountains and able to breathe in the crisp, dry mountain air. (Anyone who lives in a place with a ton of humidity can attest!)

My mom and I flew out to Colorado Springs this weekend and spent all day Saturday touring around. (P.S.: Taking a trip with just my mom was on my 101 in 1001… I can cross that off the list now!) There’s a lot to see in the Springs, but you can do just about all of it in one (very tiring) day.

We started out by going to the Olympic Training Center. Colorado Springs is “Olympic City USA,” and I’m a total nerd when it comes to the Olympics so there was no way I was going out there and not touring the training center! It was amazing. At the start of the tour, they show a short video montage about the history of the modern Olympic games focusing on Team USA and I started crying almost immediately because of how much I loved it. (I wish I were kidding, but there were real tears shed.)


After the training center, we drove up to the United States Air Force Academy to see their famous chapel. It was so beautiful and certainly did not disappoint! That being said, next summer it’s closing down for a 4-5 year renovation, so if you’re dying to see it, be sure to get out there sooner rather than later!

 

For lunch, we really wanted to go to Old Colorado City (the old mining city) but missed it on the map by a block. But it ended up working out because we got to go to Manitou Springs instead! Manitou is also a mining city at the base of Pikes Peak (the mountain that inspired “America the Beautiful” …casual.) In Manitou there is a ton to do, like taking the train (or starting the hike) up to the summit of Pikes Peak, visiting museums about the miners that used to live there, and they have beer and wine festivals some weekends throughout the year. We decided not to go up Pikes Peak because it was kind of rainy and cloudy and weren’t sure the view would be worth it, but if it’s sunny we definitely would have! (The drive can last anywhere from 2 to 3 hours, depending on traffic, weather, time of year, and how many stops you make for pictures!)

We ended up eating lunch at the Manitou Brewing Company. It was AMAZING. We got two “shareable plates,” (nachos and pulled pork and homemade beer queso and their specialty fries with truffle oil, parmesan shavings, and chipotle sauce) and both of them were huge and so good.  We were both absolutely stuffed but couldn’t stop eating! Luckily, Manitou Springs is a great place to walk up and down the streets, so we did that and enjoyed looking at all of the local stores and jewelry makers.


After lunch, we went to the main attraction of Colorado Springs: Garden of the Gods.  Garden of the Gods is a national landmark park that will always be free (!!!) to the public. However, you can book horseback riding tours through the park and I think that would be a really neat way of seeing the formations. We weren’t prepared to go hiking, so we stuck to the road through the park with just a couple of exceptions, one being balanced rock. Definitely one of the most popular stops, there were TONS of people, but with a little bit of patience and good timing, I was able to take some great pictures on the rock. And the ledge I was standing on was a lot higher than it looked! If I’m ever back in COS I would definitely wear better clothes and follow the hiking paths around and up some of the formations.


By this point, we were pretty tired so we drove to the downtown area and got a drink on the rooftop bar of Phantom Canyon. Then we walked around a little bit (still full from our amazing lunch!) and explored the Springs before getting dinner closer to our hotel on the east side of town.


Colorado Springs is definitely an interesting little place! You can literally see people from all walks of life just walking down the streets. It’s also the second biggest city in Colorado, but I don’t think you’d be able to tell if you didn’t already know. There’s an interesting mix of old and new, run down and just now being built. It’s also only an hour and a half away from downtown Denver, and a little over two hours away from the skiing at Breckenridge, Vail, etc. It would make a perfect day trip if you’re ever in Colorado!

Have you ever been to Colorado Springs?

Friday, May 26, 2017

Weekly Recap

Ahhh. It's been a while since I've done a Weekly Recap! Franky, I think my weeks have gotten more boring as the year has gone on! That and not wanting to share too many political opinions on the blog make it tough to share links these days. But I'll try this week anyway! :)

I've been watching a lot more TV ever since I moved home, and this week was particularly exciting because it was the Dancing with the Stars finale (but more on that below!) and the Bachelorette premiere. I like Rachel a lot and I am excited to watch her season... I definitely think she's smart enough to make wise choices when it comes to these suitors.

I'm heading out this afternoon to go to Myrtle Beach for the long weekend. I'm definitely looking forward to relaxing on the beach with some friends from college.

An old-ish picture from Mother's Day! (This was after our bottomless mimosa brunch...)

Rashad + Emma, DWTS // So I started watching Dancing with the Stars this season in the hopes of watching former Bachelor and my least favorite wanna-be television personality Nick Viall fail. (Unfortunately, he was around for a while.) But right after the first episode, I got totally hooked on Rashad Jennings and he quickly became one of my favorites! In the dance I linked here, I literally sat on my couch and cried. SO. GOOD. And, spoilers!!! He ended up winning the entire competition!

LION // I had been wanting to see this movie for a while, especially after watching all of the Red Carpet interviews with Sunny Pawar and Dev Patel. Let me tell you... it did not disappoint. I was crying at the end but in such a fulfilling way! The absolute CRAZIEST part about the movie... is that it's based on a true story!!! If you haven't seen Lion yet I definitely would recommend it. I also just bought the book that inspired the movie version... I can't wait to read it!

Look for the Helpers // What happened on Monday in Manchester was horrible. I won't get into it here, but reading the news and still hearing details is so hard. I just loved this story about two homeless men - one who wanted to beg after the concert and the other who had fallen asleep - rushed in to help the wounded after the explosion. It makes me think about how many times I've walked passed a homeless person when they needed help, but they were so quick to rush into a dangerous situation and assist. A fundraiser campaign has been started for them - I hope the people who started it find the two men!

10-minute arm workout // I'm always searching for new workout videos to try, especially for arms. I did this quick workout on Wednesday and HOLY CRAP I am so sore still!!! My arms were burning the entire time... meaning I should probably do this video more often so I get used to it! (P.S. Check out some of my favorite home workouts here!)

I hope you all have a great long weekend and a happy Memorial day!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The Best Meditation App (Free!)

Is it just me, or is meditation the newest trend? Move over yoga, there’s a new way to be mindful and focus on an intention. I’ve been on the hunt for a meditation app for a while now. I haven’t been getting great sleep, I’ve been stressed, and often times falling asleep takes me way more than the “ideal” amount of time (10-15 minutes if you were wondering!). I could feel in my jaw and in my shoulders that I was stressed and that something needed to change.

Unfortunately, for a while all of the meditation apps I found and wanted to try cost money - which is ironically one of my stressors at night when I’m trying to go to sleep! I decided to ask my co-workers if they knew of a free but awesome meditation app I could use. Enter: Insight.


You guys… my sleep has gotten so much better!!!! Half the time, I’m so “at peace” that I don’t even finish the meditation before falling asleep.

My favorite one to do before going to sleep is Yoga Nidra. (I think it’s #1… for a reason!)

Do you use a meditation app before going to sleep? Have you ever used Insight?

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