travel

Second Time’s the Charm in Edinburgh

Hello! I am finally back to sharing more about my trip!

My second major stop on my tour this summer was the beautiful Edinburgh. I was thrilled to make Scotland the first place I traveled for the start of my solo tour because, as many of you probably know, Scotland holds a special place in my heart. I studied abroad at the University of Glasgow, and so Scotland feels like a second home to me. And it is also the country where I, one day, plan to live.

And I sort of needed to start in a place I was comfortable with because I needed that confidence booster to stop letting everyone’s comments from back home get to me. And this really ended up being the perfect way to handle things.

Edinburgh (pronounced Eden-bra) is such a handsome, historical, and hilly city. And unlike many other parts of Scotland, you will actually be able to understand the English spoken here!

Similar to Ireland, this area of Scotland is a great place for new travelers, because culturally, things are not so different from those back in America, and as a very tourist geared city, you will always be able to find many comforts from home.

Top tourist attractions include hiking up to Arthur’s seat, visiting Scotland’s crown jewels and the Stone of Destiny both in the castle, the monuments on Calton Hill, the famous Greyfriars Kirkyard, and more! There are such diverse attractions in this city to appeal to athletes, historians, the royal family fans, foodies, and those who love to shop––all within walking distance of one another!

Navigation around the city is a breeze with the city compact enough that I was able to walk everywhere I wanted to go, even to the hiking trails, but the hills and stairs can be quite exhausting. (Learn from my mistakes: pack plenty of food and water in your day pack before trying to conquer Arthur’s seat.) Public transportation is available to and from the airport and runs 24/7 with tickets available to purchase at the bus terminal at the airport. It was super convenient purchasing my ticket ahead of time, so I could just board the bus when I was ready to leave.

As a part of the UK, Scotland’s currency is the Pound sterling (£) which is generally, consistently, stronger than the USD. So the prices in the store are not the prices that it would actually cost to an American, when every £1 would cost about $1.31. (And it is not always fun doing that math on the fly. I managed with help from a conversion app.)

And this is sort of the basics of what travelers should know and what they will learn during their time here.

Sightseeing over the summer was an incredible experience, and one that I cannot wait to repeat in the future.

My last visit to Edinburgh was during all of the excitement of the Christmas markets during the height of the holiday shopping season (and the low point on the thermometer). But I was also exploring with my flatmates after living with them for a whole semester.

So my visit in June was very different. Still pretty cold, even relative to Ireland, but much quieter and at much more of a relaxed pace, thanks to not needing to rush to catch a train at the end of the day. I very much enjoyed getting to explore another city in Scotland at my own pace with an itinerary that I did not have to compromise with anyone. I got to wake up early and take a full day to tour the Edinburgh Castle spending hours wandering the halls, walk all the way down the royal mile to see the Queen’s Gallery and stop in for a cup of tea, wherever I pleased.

The most rewarding part of my trip was getting to finally explore the Edinburgh Castle, something that I put off for most of my study abroad, until I returned to America without ever seeing it, so this was something that was at the very top of my list of things I needed to do before returning home.

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The Entrance to the Edinburgh Castle on a gloomy Scottish day

And after doing much research, I made my way up to the castle early in the morning to make sure I could get a ticket, and I had my student ID handy, like I did for most of my trip, to make sure that I could get all of the student discounts on all of my museum visits. Especially since, at this point, I did not know how far I would need to make my money stretch. And solo visits to the museums, I feel, are so much more rewarding than going with someone, or with a group of people. I was able to take it all in, and at my own pace. Things like waiting on a line to see the Scottish Crown Jewels and the Stone of Destiny (used at the coronation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 1953), would probably not be something that I would subject others to doing, but it was something that I felt was worth the wait. And what a breathtaking site (even if photos were not allowed).

And if anyone is interested in a brief history of these Honours of Scotland, the Visit Scotland website is a perfect help. 

Some other highlights from the castle were taste-testing Scottish Whiskey right on the grounds, which was incredible, btw, and even visiting St. Margaret’s Chapel, the oldest surviving building in Edinburgh, that remains from the 12th Century. It is such a small building with small windows (a late add on) which is probably the reason for lasting so long.

And a stay in Scotland in never complete without visiting a historical site while there is a wedding going on. I will never forget the feeling of awe (and jealousy) in seeing couples get married in the most beautiful places, which are during this trip to the Edinburgh Castle, to later on in my trip where I almost accidentally interrupted a wedding procession in Cinque Terre, to all of the weddings we passed in Glasgow at my university or at Oran Mor––the church/bar on the way to my university. They were the most incredible, and accidental events I have stumbled on and ones that inspire my own future wedding plans––hope my future husband is on board.

Another major highlight of my trip, was the day I spend hiking up to Arthur’s seat, an ancient volcano visible even from the city center. (Which actually just went up in a blaze two days ago, so I hope that everything will be okay there!) The hike lead to extraordinary views of the city, especially because I just happened to go on a clear day, and I was able to meet some of my fellow hikers at the top of the hills who helped me take some of my favorite pictures from my trip.

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Standing before the Great Arthur’s Seat

The very same day, before or after my hike (I forget the order), I also was able to visit and sit in on some Parliament discussions, as I just happened to be passing by while it was in session.

And another highlight, that I won’t go into too much detail about because I have written much about it in the past, was my visit to Greyfriars Kirkyard, most recently known to house the inspiration to JK Rowling’s character names, but it is also well known for Greyfriars Bobby, the Skye Terrier who guarded the grave of his owner for 14 years in the kirkyard, and who now can be seen in the statue in front of the entrance.

Aside from all of my sightseeing, perhaps the most memorable part of my visit to Edinburgh is all of the incredible friends that I made there.

I met up with an Australian lady from Girls Love Travel Facebook group at a cafe in town, and learned all about her life, and how she is on her year abroad, looking for work and to travel. Then in my hostel, I made so many friends from Canada, Columbia, and Germany who would all meet down at the hostel pub to share travel stories from like-minded travelers and drink together. And discuss Harry Potter, too! And my very last night in Scotland (for this trip) we all went on a pub crawl together and had a blast before I made my way to the airport, headed for Italy.

My next stop: Bologna.

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writing

It is Almost Time for NaNoWriMo

So November is coming, which means the start of another NaNoWriMo! And I am so excited and motivated this year to finally write an entire first draft of my novel.

If any of you have no clue what I am talking about, and think I just hit the keyboard with that weird string of letters…let me break it down for you.

Na: National

No: Novel

Wri: Writing

Mo: Month

NaNo is an organization that encourages people to write their entire first draft of their novel (50,000-60,000 words) within the month of November. And it is an organization that has been near and dear to my heart for the past five years, because it has lead me to a community of like-minded people at a time when I was really lost at the beginning of my studies. As silly and dramatic as it sounds, getting involved in a writing community has helped me discover and chase my writing dreams, no matter how impossible they will be.

You can check out NaNo’s website if you want to learn all about it, participate in it, or just have a clue about what the heck I am doing with my time!

Or if you would rather hear about NaNo in my own words, I even wrote an article describing the process for my college’s paper that you can check out here. 

But the reason I am writing this in a blog is because this year I am a serious participant. Before now, I was only writing for fun. I would join in on word sprints with some of my favorite authors on Twitter, frequently update my word count in between classes or my work schedule. I was never really concerned about doing more than just getting words on paper in my free time.

And now, things are different. My workload is light (aka still job hunting). I have no more classes (at the moment) that I need to focus on and write papers for. I have had a summer of adventures, meeting all new people from all different sorts of backgrounds in new environments, and unforgettable experiences that I would like to translate into some stories. And I want to continue my momentum from the summer to chase my dreams. So becoming a published author won’t happen if I don’t first put in the time and write the first draft.

And to prove how serious I am this year, I am going to share some of my story details on my blog…and that way all of my followers can hold me accountable and push me when I start running out of steam halfway through the month. Or even only a couple of days in.

This year I am working on a fantasy novel (and remember this is just a very rough draft that is all subject to change because I will probably hate it).

And my title is…

Drumroll please.

Heroic Night.

Totally lame, I know. I had some help from a fantasy title generator. And hopefully it will evolve when I have more written.  But I need a place to start.

Once I actually begin my writing (that will count towards my word count goals) November 1st, this story will be about adventure, romance, action, and drama––all of my favorite topics. And I am hear to write the book that I would want to read, so let’s see how this goes.

nano-challenge

So far, I have some basic characteristics for my characters:

Heroine is a doer, headstrong, solo traveler, independent, and questions everything around her.

Hero is fearless and reckless, lives without consequences.

A setting:

Medieval Fantasy World

Maybe the rest will come to me once I finally begin writing. Like their names maybe? Fingers crossed.

What I have so far may sound familiar to some of you, who have listened to me ramble on about my favorite series, because that author, Sarah J. Maas and Jane Austen (who are my two favorite authors) are my inspiration for my own writing. And at the moment, my genre probably comes from the TOG reread I have been participating in, in preparation for the final book release in a few days.

If you are interested in keeping up with my progress, and in holding me accountable, you can view my daily word count stats here. 

In addition, I could use some more writing buddies! So please share if you are participating, too, and we can push each other!

I’ll leave you with a small excerpt:

“And just before I curl up on my couch with my latest book, is there a firm and quiet knock on my door.

Not unusual for this time of day, just before everyone has made it home for dinner, the sun only just beginning it’s descent. But it was the actual knock that made her suspicious. Her friends yell through the door or barge in. Her neighbors are more hesitant to knock at all, and usually pair it with a chirped hello before barging in.”

Ok, now I am going back to my writing cave to start plotting. Wish me luck and no writer’s block! 

travel, writing

Travel is Good for the Soul

Sadly, all good things must come to a close.

But I feel that my trip was exactly the soul-searching opportunity that I needed. Not to be totally dramatic, but I feel like I have a direction in life again and goals that I am working towards both in my career and personal life.

And I am so looking forward to being reunited with all of the incredible & amazing people who I have met along my own journey.

Thank you to everyone I met for everything that you taught me––from the little things like “the restaurant around the corner has really good dumplings” to the helpful advice that saved me a lot of stress for the entirety of my trip (the GoEuro app) to just simply hearing people’s different world views. I don’t know if I can really put into words the impact that everyone I have met along the way has had on my life, but all I can say is that I will forever love meeting new people from all over the world and becoming more open-minded, culturally aware, and all of the other great things that come from conversing with other travelers.

  • I received cooking lessons from a new Polish friend in my hostel kitchen in Salzburg.
  • Cultural lessons from a Parisian woman whose parents are from Tunisia and Morocco over dinner in Dubrovnik.
  • Dining (and wedding) etiquette from my best friends in Italy.
  • Tours of all different cities and castles, cooking lessons, gardening lessons, and even apartment hunting from my cousin in Germany.
  • The world cup excitement from every European person from bus drivers, to bartenders, to people I passed along the street.

I became more outgoing––able to hold a conversation, ask anyone for directions, or to ask someone to take a picture for me or with me. I learned how to navigate any city’s public transportation (though I still get lost with public busses) and cultural differences or at least where to learn if I couldn’t figure it out on my own.

I also learned a lot about the things that I should and should not have packed. Good news is anything that I forgot at home, I would have been able to buy in almost any city that I visited. Bad news is I way, way, overpacked. And even though it was a small carry-on bag, there were some clothing items that I still didn’t even wear.

The unnecessary items:

  • I had 3 UK adaptors and only 1 European adaptor. And even though I did not know if I was going to make it back to the UK before the end of my trip, I could have sent some of those home with my family. I learned you only need 1 adaptor for each type of outlet. And if you forget one, they are pretty cheap to buy. I spent way more time using my European adaptor and really just carried the other ones around from city to city.
  • Also related to chargers, I brought 2 portable chargers with me. I only really used the more powerful one––which saved me many times during my trip because it was able to recharge my phone 3-4 times. And it was so convenient in my hostels when I didn’t want to leave my phone across the room charging––I only had to leave my portable charger there and then in the morning I could charge my phone while I got started with my day.

The extra items:

  • My clothes. And yes, it is true that you don’t know what types of clothes you will need when you don’t even have a solid plan for where the day will take you, but no matter how long you are traveling for, you won’t need more than a week’s worth of clothes. I didn’t need more than a couple of shorts, a couple of pants, a few shirts, a sweater, sweatshirt, hat, and scarf. Everything that can be worn together and layered. I even made a friend who actually only brought 2 pairs of shorts…and then he lost one of them. I also regretted bringing so much because then I couldn’t justify getting the latest European fashion if it couldn’t fit into my bag.
  • Also (and I fear I may get some heat for this one) I brought way too many toiletries. I had some packages of sunblock, shampoo, and even an extra soap bar that I did not touch at all. I had a shampoo bar that my sister got it for me as an early birthday present––an organic and eco friendly shampoo bar, like the ones that seem to be so popular at Lush, but this one is from her environmental school’s craft fair––which was/is a very long lasting product and I still came home with a big chunk of that left over as well. My very long winded point here is to pack the very bare essentials. Because when you run out (which you will want to happen) you could always purchase more almost anywhere you go. I did chose to forgo the conditioner, though, and that was a good decision that I just had to deal without that luxury for a couple of months.

And now for the big question: Would you do this again? Hell yeah! Now that I have done it once, I know for a fact I can handle this kind of crazy, tiring, invigorating, spontaneous, (insert any more adjectives) travel. And that I love it.

I am not sure where exactly my next journey will take place (South America and Southeast Asia are both at the top of my list) but I am excited and looking forward to all of what is to come.

And now that I am home, I will go back and complete my blog posts for every city that I visited. So stay tuned…

 

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My visit to the Salzburg Castle.

(You never know how good someone is at photography until it is too late––notice the woman’s finger in the corner. LOL!)

travel

Dublin, Ireland

My first stop on my summer of adventures.

This is a perfect city for those novice travelers. Everyone is super friendly. Navigation is a breeze, as the city is small enough that you can walk everywhere. And English is the primary language.

Although now the city appears to be overrun with tourists, and you will have to visit the touristy parts of town, you can experience traditional Irish culture throughout your visit.

Top tourist attraction are the Guinness and Jameson breweries, jail museum, cathedrals, and Irish history museums.

If you are visiting the city for any length of time, I highly recommend you pick up a leap card right at the airport and ride the bus into the city–making your navigation around the city a breeze. It was €40 for an unlimited 7 day pass as opposed to our only taxi ride that cost that much just to get us to our house the first day.

So that is the general what travelers need to know, but here is how our trip went…

We arrived after an overnight flight from New York (we being me and my family) running on very little sleep, because no one really took me seriously when I explained how important it is to sleep as much as you can on the plane. Everyone was so cranky. And uncoordinated with everything from wheeling the luggage to taking bathroom breaks to paying attention to what it is that we are actually trying to find. Then the icing on the cake was finding out ED SHEERAN had performances in Dublin and was staying in Dublin when we would have been able to attend his concerts, except they were all sold out. Apparently the Irish really love Ed as all of his performances in Dublin, Cork, Belfast, and Galway were all sold out! Devastating.

Not my ideal first day of my holiday…but thank god it all got better.

Aside from visiting many of the sights in Dublin including the Oscar Wilde statue, Trinity college, Temple bar nightlife, and many of the cathedral ruins, we were all completely captivated with the (oftentimes depressing) history and especially the remnants of the pagan belief system.

Like I probably mention in every post, I am obsessed with this book series called A Court of Thorns and Roses and the Throne of Glass series fantasy books about fae and fairies, that all come from CELTIC MYTHOLOGY. And we are literally in the birthplace of these mythologies and legends so me and my sisters were living in our glory. So any ACOTAR or fantasy fans, this is definitely a city or country you should check out.

We did a couple of bus tours to see other parts of Ireland. Our first was a mythology based tour to ancient burial grounds in the midlands such as the Hill of Tara, Boyne Valley, Newgrange, and ????. We got to see faerie trees up close and saw where the still practicing druids tie ribbons on the trees as offerings to the fae. Our tour guide was amazing sharing both legends and true history about each of the places we drove past. And at one point during the tour he handed us off to such a charismatic character, Marty, who shared stories about the fae, changelings, and origin stories of the ancient ones who were banished under the Earth. He was hilarious–inventing new plots to the Irish legends about legendary heroes Finn MacCool, Cu Chulainn, the Ulster Cycle, and more! (which are all totally interesting if you have the time and want to check them out!) Plus we got to go hiking & get up close and personal with the sheep! (Maybe my favorite part…I mean they are just so cute!)

The other big tour we did was a Game of Thrones/ Giant’s Causeway based tour to the Northern Ireland. Our first stop on this tour was to the Dark Hedges aka the King’s Road where Arya escapes with the night’s watch after losing her father in Season 1. Then we visited a couple of very small coastal villages where all of the scenes from the Iron Isles were filmed and some of Melisandre’s crazier schemes…like the cave she gave birth in. Those moments were the highlight of the trip for me because, like, we stood exactly where they did. Those places are actually real places. No green screens were necessary. Incredible. And I really hope I never forget the smell of the coastal city so I can get the full effect for when I re-watch the show again.

But the Giant’s Causeway was just as cool. And as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it means that it is a site of cultural value for the world, because it is a visual display of how incredible our earth is. The entire cliffside formed millions of hexagons all from a volcanic eruption and has inspired legends and cultures since it’s creation millions of years ago! But my description does it no justice–brush up on your Earth Science knowledge and visit it for yourself!

My next stop is Edinburgh, Scotland!!!

 

travel

Greetings from Europe

Hello. It’s European me, just checking in during the first stop on my summer of adventures.

(Warning: I wrote this on my phone during a bus trip which means there might be typeos or other grammatical/editing errors. And as I am not really leaving time during my travel to thoroughly edit everything I post…please don’t judge me on the mistakes from now on. Maybe I will dedicate time when I get back to America for editing. But feel free to let me know of anything you catch!)

So first I will start with my final packing count. I ended up departing New York after much chaos the moments before leaving our house with me trying to get my suitcase under the 10 kilo/22lb limit for Norwegian Airlines. (Side note for anyone flying Norwegian–they were very strict with the weight limit and weighed everything I was trying to take on the plane in one batch–and I was still over. Oops.) My sister helped me with my last minute scrambling and was, of course, entertained with my panic. That made one of us.

Obviously I wouldn’t recommend the absolute last second packing routine that I follow…especially when I realized all of the important things I forgot. Like the wedding card.

But I am still impressed with all that I did accomplish. A summer’s worth of clothes, shoes, accessories, toiletries, and more, that all fit into just 1 rolling duffel and very small backpack. Like many who backpack frequently and know how difficult it can be to lug all your unnecessary shit from one place to another, I tried to keep my items down to the bare minimum.

So here is all that I brought:

Sundress, skirt, romper
Teeshirts and tanktops
Shorts, leggings, jeans
Dress for my friend’s wedding

And once arriving in Dublin, I realized I could still cut some things out, and I sent home my bulky european adaptors (in favor of my brother’s smaller one), a few shirts, credit card receipts, and my souvenir shopping.

(Like this cute travel savings collection box that I just couldn’t pass up from New Look):

So now that I made it all the way to Ireland, my new challenge is making sure all of my clothing items and other stuff that I brought remains functional and accessible. I will be trying really hard to live off of the bare minimum…necessities only for the rest of my summer.

Wish me luck!

travel, writing

Is This May Going To Be The Best Time of My Life? Yes!

Honestly I think this is going to be the best month of my life. A Court of Frost and Starlight was finally released (May 1st––if you didn’t notice from my countdown) so I can finally read more of Feysand AND I am getting ready to head out for the adventure of my lifetime!

I cannot believe this moment is finally here. If you asked me years ago, or even months ago, if I thought I would ever be doing this, then I would have said absolutely not. But plans change. Our priorities change. And I will do nothing less than live my life to the fullest. There is so much out there in the world to see and do, and I can’t sit around anymore hoping that one day someone will finally be able and willing to see the world with me.

For those of you worried about me going on a solo adventure, I am and will do everything to reassure you that I will be fine, however, I will not let your fears slow me down. Plenty of people do what I am about to all of the time. I am comfortable navigating the old towns and more modern sections of European cities. I already have experience using public transportation in cities where I don’t even speak the language.

It is invigorating to know that I am capable of figuring out where to go and how to get there all on my own and that I will finally be able to see some of the most magical places in the world. And I am absolutely thrilled just thinking about it.

So please be excited for me rather than scared––I have been gifted this wonderful opportunity while I am figuring the rest of my life out & that I am not afraid to take it as the gift that it is. Maybe one day I will finally land my dream job & life…but for today, I will not pass up any more opportunities to enjoy the world.

The travel gives me the knowledge and experience unlike anything else. It is why people like me catch the “travel bug” and feel a need to continue seeing, learning, experiencing, and are never completely done as the world is ever-changing and so are we. We never see the same place twice because we never are the same person twice.

With all of that being said, I figured some people might be interested in hearing about how I plan to do this and what prep-work has gone into my plans.

My current shopping list keeps growing even though I keep checking things off my list. Today alone I picked up toothpaste, facial moisturizer, mascara, UPF protective clothes, and I even attempted to exchange my Sketchers for another size, but the woman ordered me the same size I returned by mistake, so now I have two pairs of shoes coming in and another return that I will need to do. It is never ending.

In addition, I have finally established my final day at all of my jobs as May 11th, which leaves me the weekend, Monday and Tuesday before my trip to say my goodbyes, pack, and get myself mentally settled.

I really have so many MAJOR things left to do. Actually sitting down to write my itinerary. And packing.

I am still not entirely sure whether I should take my new backpacking-backpack or my actual rolling suitcase.

Do I really need to buy the ticket where I can travel every day for two or three months?

Maybe these decisions would be a lot easier if and when I finish planning out and writing my itinerary…

Here is what my current thought process is looking like:

(Just wait until I crack open my growing pile of guidebooks. Then I will really get it going.)

And then I am trying to figure out how I will keep up with my blog while I am away! I will be bringing my journal to document and remember everything that I see and do…but should I share that information on here too? Or would it be better to feature one thing? Or share a single story? I don’t know. (Feel free to weigh in with your own thoughts/votes/suggestions/opinions in the comments section! I could use someone to bounce my ideas off of.)

Clearly I have too many decisions to make and too little time left. And pretty much all I want to do is reread ACOFAS. Which may be my favorite in the series––but I will get a review of that one up. Hopefully before I leave.

And as a final note, I am still welcoming any travel companions! So please get in touch with me ASAP!

travel

Preparing for my First Solo Female Travel Adventure

So as many of you already know, I am going backpacking this summer––for the whole 4 months of the summer, and I couldn’t be more thrilled!

Currently, I am in the beginning of my planning and packing stage. Still. With T minus 32 days until I start my adventure. I feel the butterflies in my stomach just thinking about my plans this summer, like a kid counting down until Christmas morning. I. Can. Not. Wait.

And then I am going to rattle the stars

  1. My last minute shopping includes things that I have learned are necessities to take on a big trip like the one I will be going on.

I just ordered a pair of very comfortable sneakers. I know I will need to opt for comfort over style because I know that I will rather walk all day to see and do everything instead of needing to take lots of breaks to rest my feet.

So, I am awaiting my pair of You Inspire by Skechers to arrive in the mail. I think they are actually cute and I got a nice, neutral color that will match with my clothes from Ireland to Italy, but more importantly, they are so comfortable. It literally feels like you are walking on a cloud when you wear these. And they are so lightweight too!

At least it won’t be my sneakers weighing down my carry on-sized suitcase. My only concern with these shoes is that the laces are just for show––you can’t tighten them or anything. My plan is to break them in before I leave to know for sure.

(You can check out my shoes if you would like.)

Next thing on my list is towels. I have been doing a lot of research on what kind of towel I should bring with me (because if you don’t know, hostels do not provide you with any basic hotel amenities, like towels) and I have found a lot of people recommend these quick dry towels that a lot of swimmers and other athletes use. These microfiber, compact, fast-absorbent towels only weigh about 9oz and take up very little room in your suitcase.

This Sunland towel from Amazon even comes with a hook attached so I can hang it to dry in my hostel (?) and it comes with the best reviews out of the tons of microfiber towels. I am still deciding on a color, though. 

My next shopping list item is getting a haircut. My intention is to be a practical traveler, and I definitely do not want my hair getting in the way of that. Plus then I can cut down on styling tools that I would otherwise want to bring to the wedding. I think that shoulder length hair will be perfect, require little maintenance, and will keep my natural curls looking healthy. Maybe I won’t even have to stock up on shampoos as often.

  1. And finally in spite of my normal procrastinating self, the last thing on my priority list is me actually planning. A plan to make plans––ironic, isn’t it?

I have already renewed the library guidebooks a few times because I keep putting off reading them and picking out the things I really want to do. I have also been putting off making my itinerary that I am making more to ease my parents’ worries than for me to actually follow.

I am definitely a fly by the seat of my pants type of person in my life as well as in the stories I write.

Along with picking out the places I am going, I have a mental checklist of the clothes and items that I need to bring. I am also considering this a part of the planning stage because I am planning on what clothes to bring. And planning on how much shampoo to take. And what suitcase to put it in. Clearly this is going to take more time.

And these ⇧ are my goals for the week.

But the good news is that I can do a Solo Female Traveler: Part 2 when I solidify my plans. So stay tuned for more updates!

(All of my packing and planning has to get done before ACOFAS release date. I am giving myself those 2 weeks before I leave to be crazy obsessed with Sarah J. Maas’s latest novella and my favorite characters)

But I actually have accomplished some things already:

✓ 3 of my 4 jobs are aware of my travel dates

✓ I own all of the travel accessories I will need (i.e. a travel scale, travel sized bottles, adaptors and converters)

✓ Mentally prepared family and friends already––some are more enthusiastic than others

✓ Checked out various European guidebooks from the library

✓ Contacted European friends to start planning a meet up

✓ Began working out so I can lift my suitcase on my own
So I am off to a good start…

What do you guys do to prepare for travel? Any advice/tips/favorite travels blogs you want to share?

olympics

The 2018 Winter Olympics at Pyeongchang & Why You Should Care (Part 1)

(This is really just turning out to be a stream of consciousness style blog, so be warned in advance)

If anyone really knows me and my sisters, you probably also know how crazy obsessed we are with the olympics. And this year was no exception.

I actually intended to go to the 2018 Winter Olympics, I kept telling myself that I had to go to the Olympics after I turned 21, making this my year. I even signed up to get the ticket alerts and everything. But my plans fell apart when no one actually wanted to go with me. So it is officially on my bucket list, for someday.

*Please let me know if you want to come with me to the next Winter Olympics 2022 in Beijing, because I would love a traveling partner!*

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So, I began writing this while I was watching the Olympic Closing Ceremony, and now I am trying to keep up with the Paralympics. Slowly, in my free time, I will try and continue watching the rest of our Olympics recordings on the DVR. Update: I think I was so burnt out from trying to keep up with the Olympics, that I only got to follow the paralympics through their updates.

My sister and I are so dedicated to the Olympics, especially the winter olympics, and we start off watching every single sport. We become so invested and proud of every single athlete in the Olympics and live for their stories. Seriously, Tara and I are getting so good at memorizing all of the details and athlete stories and we want more. And luckily for us, we were alerted to the existence of the Olympics Channel, so now it can be Olympics all year round!

These Olympics are extra exciting because, though I did not get to actually attend in person, I have been using my VR goggles to watch some of the events. My new goal is to make it to the next winter Olympics in Beijing, 2022. So shout-out to all of my old flatmates––I will see you again soon!

Somewhat related to the Olympics and books too, Bradie Tennell just did her free skate as Cinderella and it was incredible. Maybe even inspired by Throne of Glass’s Celaena as she is a huge Throne of Glass fan apparently. That puts her at the top of me and my sister’s list of favorite olympians. The more interviews I read about her, the more relatable she actually is. I love all of the Olympians, but I really want to be Tennell’s friend.

I mean look at this interviewShe is a huge Supernatural fan, Captain America: Civil War is her favorite movie, and she is waiting for the release of TOG 7. So Bradie, if you happen to read this, can we please be friends and fangirl over this book release together?

More Olympics thoughts (not in any particular order):

Thomas Bach: Actually my hero. Seriously I want to be him.

He is the current IOC (International Olympic Committee) president, and a former Olympic fencer from Germany. Watching him speak with so much passion for the Olympics and the unity that it brings to all the different countries in the world, makes me so incredibly happy and inspired. I am so impressed with his ability to speak so many different languages as well (in my eyes, bilingualism is extraordinary) because at every each and every Olympics, he gives a small speech or a welcoming message in the language of that country, which I am sure takes a lot of effort and practice, but it is such a welcoming gesture for those watching, and I can imagine it means just as much to the people in that country as it does to me. Or maybe I am just incredibly emotional about the Olympics and, therefore, I am the only one incredibly moved by this.

So Thomas Bach, you are my hero. And how do I get your job, because it is officially my dream job. Seriously, just look at him, he is adorable too!

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“The Javi charm” might just be an inside joke between my sister and I, and probably to those who follow the figure skating closely. Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir would always freak out whenever Javier Fernández walked onto the ice, and now I am at the point where I do the same. His outfits are always amazing––totally pirate style with the puffy sleeves and all, and he is such a great entertainer too! During his exhibition, he was doing push-ups! And congrats to Javi, winning Spain its first Olympic figure skating medal–ever! You can even watch his Bronze medal-winning skate at NBC!

One of my favorites, even though it is just an inside joke between me and Tara, is “But his friends call him Max.” We don’t even remember who exactly this comment was in reference to, but the commentators introduced one of the slopestyle athletes in, by telling us his name is Max, “but his friends call him Max,” just like that, so every time any athlete is named Max (or even anything close), we can’t stop laughing for like 5 minutes and shout at the TV “but his friends call him Max!” Guess you had to be there, to laugh as hard as we do, though…

If I gather the rest of my thoughts, I could definitely keep going with this for a long time. Maybe with athlete profiles, and stuff like that. Obviously, I have plenty to say on the subject. And if you want to keep up on your own, make sure you check out that NBC Olympics channel to stay up-to-date all year round! I sure will be!

Uncategorized

✓ First Blog Post

So twenty eighteen is turning out to be a big year for me.

It started with me working my way out of my post-graduate funk, and now I have a job, travel plans, a social life, and am finally inspired to start my blog. Yay!!!

Wow my first blog post. Finally.

What a process it has been to actually begin this. Not that anyone was even wondering why––I think I may just need to explain for myself, so feel free to skip over this section if you don’t want my entire inner-monologue. First, I had to gather all of my bunches of ideas for all of the things I want to write about, so I kept making more and more google docs to collect and “organize” everything I think about. And as you can imagine, my thoughts cover a lot of topics. So this is an ongoing project.

But my biggest problem came while I was trying to come up with the absolutely perfect blog name and title––it had to be good enough to embody any possible blog post idea that I may come up with. This probably makes a lot of sense to anyone familiar with the writing (or any type of creative) process. It is so stressful to try and find the perfect title or the perfect word to use. Because, its like, once you put any type of pressure on yourself to do anything perfect, you just can’t. So I avoided it. For months. Hoping the perfect word would just come to me. Then finally, the other day, I was working on my latest list of name brainstorms and things just clicked. It may not be the perfect title yet, but it covers most of my current topics. So I like it.

It was my New Year’s resolution to begin my blog, but even though it took a long time, it still counts. So ✓ that off my list. But that means that some of my post ideas are a little outdated. I guess I will have to recycle those for next year. (Stay tuned for some really good ones about wrapping christmas presents and being sustainable around the holidays)

I want to be able to explain exactly what my blog is going to be about, and all of the tips for starting your own blog say that you should definitely have a specific topic, but I don’t have an exact answer yet. My plan, as of right now, is to cover the general topics of travel, reading/ books, and environmental issues/ living sustainably. I don’t know if having 3 different topics actually qualifies me as being a lifestyle blog, but I am sure I can cover even more as it goes on. I guess we will just have to see where the blog takes us.

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Let me know what you think! This is a work in progress so I would love some feedback. If you like it, check back next Friday for my next post. And if you really liked it, you can subscribe that way you can be notified when my next post goes up. I think.

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!