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Soul Searching in Seoul: Entry 2

Hey folks!!

I hope all is well. Can you believe that I’ve been living in SoKo almost a full month? (2 days away) This is crazy! Time is really flying.

In today’s post I will talk about my 2nd and 3rd trips to Seoul. (Yes I’ve already been 3 times. There’s so much to see)

On these trips I went to two of the most popular areas of Seoul: Itaewon and Hongdae. Itaewon is known as little America and literally has ALL the shopping your heart would desire. Hongdae is also full of shopping but caters to street performers too.

My trip to Itaewon happened on a Saturday. My friends and I decided to go just to explore. I had looked up some of the more popular things to do in the area ahead of time. As I mentioned in a previous post, the subway system in Seoul is very easy to use. (And super cheap. It’s like 1.25) Just like my first trip to Seoul, I took a bus to Seoul from my city and then took the subway to get to Itaewon.

Our first stop was to the Line Friends store. Line friends is a popular Korean character store. The place was huge!!! We spent about an hour walking around, taking pictures, and even having cute bear shaped funnel cake bites.

There wasn’t much else to do from that particular subway stop so we hopped in a cab and went to a popular shopping district called Myong-Deong. The cabbie dropped us off right at the main street and we were instantly overwhelmed.

The streets were lined with food and clothing vendors on top of 5000 skin care stores and clothing stores. (Korean skin care is amazing and it’s a big deal) We simply started from the beginning and made our way through. We spent about 3 hours just walking the long street and we barely covered half of it only because it began to rain and we didn’t have umbrellas. BOOOOOOOO!!! Don’t fret, I’ll be back there soon enough.

Now for my trip to Hongdae…

So, this trip happened spur of the moment. I had the day off from my training class on a Wednesday and wanted to go explore. (Yes, I’m still in training. One more week though) I had read about a few cafes in the area and I decided to venture out on my own to find them. The number one on my list was the Hello Kitty cafe. It’s exactly what it sounds like…a whole cafe dedicated to the character Hello Kitty. After stopping to ask for better directions from a random Korean girl, I finally found it. OMG!!! It was soooooo cute. As soon as I walked through the gate and up the stairs, I was met by pink everything! Once inside, it was everything I imagined.

I ordered a green tea latte and walked around the 2-story house while I waited for it. I sat and sipped my latte while taking it all in.

Next stop was CaFace. CaFace is a coffee shop where you can get your picture printed in the foam of your drink. (So cool) I ordered an iced vanilla latte. The picture came out so clear. I was amazed. I still don’t know how they print it on the foam but I enjoyed it.

After spending a few minutes in CaFace I walked around Hongdae some just taking in the sights and sounds. Hongdgae is known for housing aspiring singers and artists. They set up shop to display their talents along the streets. I was able to catch a few singers and they actually sounded really good.

After all of that walking I got hungry so I found a super cheap noodle shop and had lunch for about $4.

Once I recharged, I ventured out to find the Kakao friends store. Kakao is a popular messenger app here in Korea with its own set of characters. They sell all types of merchandise with the characters and they are the competitors of Line Friends. (To me they are both SUPER cute). The store was packed, so I only got in one good pic.

My last stop of the day was to DB Story Café. DB Story is a DIY cell phone case and coffee shop. YES! You create your own cell phone case while enjoying the coffee or tea of your choice. I walked in and once again was overwhelmed by everything to choose from. Luckily, they have pre made cases on the walls to give you some inspiration of what you want to make. You start by picking a basic case for your phone, then you go around picking out whatever trinkets and jewels you want to glue on. I chose a cute girly look dawned in pink. You pay for each item a la cart but it’s all super cheap. My case cost about $8 total to make. (You can’t buy a pre made case that cheap anywhere.) Once you glue everything the way you want it, they let it dry for about 20 minutes and package it up for you to take home. They tell you to give it an additional 2 days of drying time. The lady also gave me a free gift for coming in, which was a cute cosmetic bag that I picked out.

It was getting pretty late so I headed back to the subway stop and back to the bus station to head home. As you can see, Seoul has sooooo much to offer and yet I still haven’t covered half of it. Stay tuned for more entries and thanks for reading!

Happy Traveling.

I wore my birthday suit and soaked in green tea!

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Hey folks:

In today’s post I will tell you all about my first experience at a 찜질방 aka a Korean Bathhouse.

I had heard how great the experience was from a few of the other women in my program. I wasn’t able to go with them but made a vow to myself to go as soon as possible. The place was literally a 5 minute walk from where I’m staying.

So here it goes:

I walked in and paid the 5,000 won (a little less than $5) fee. I was handed a ticket with a number and two small towels.

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I then walked to the door for the ladies side of the building. To paint the scene a little more, the building also has a full gym and a virtual golfing center inside plus a men’s and women’s locker room and spa.

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Once you get inside the ladies side, you find the small locker that coincides with the number on your receipt (so for me #429) you place your shoes inside and take the electronic key to find a larger locker with the same number. This is where it gets fun!

You then strip down completely (and I mean completely) and lock your things up. You head into the actual spa area. Once in the spa area, I had to take a shower. (And yes the room is completely open so you have to be comfortable with nudity)

After a shower, you then begin your spa experience. The spa area has 5-6 small jacuzzi like pools each set at different temperatures from cold to hot. One of the pools even has green tea in it. (Yes real green tea) You go and soak from pool to pool as long as you want.

After you get tired of soaking, there are two saunas that you can go in. One is a normal dry sauna and the other was more of a steam room. In the steam room was a large clay pot full of salt. (I think it was sea salt but not 100% sure) You grab a handful of salt and scrub your body down then just sit. Within seconds you start dripping in sweat! The salt pulls water from your body. Once you’ve had enough of the heat, you go back and soak some more. You just keep repeating the process as long as you want. They also have a section where for an extra fee, an older lady will scrub you down and perform cupping on you to help with soreness! (Gonna try that option next)

Once you’re finished, you head back to the shower area and take another shower. They also have these seated bench style showers and it’s very interesting to see. (I won’t go into detail here but ummm just imagine ladies sitting down scrubbing everything from head to toe 😱)

After shower 2, I returned to the locker area to get dressed and head out.

Despite the nudity factor, it was the most relaxing thing ever. I slept like a baby that night. And yes, I will go back!

As always, thanks for reading and happy Traveling! ✈️

 

Soul searching in Seoul: entry 1

Hey folks:

This past weekend I took my first trip to Seoul. When most people hear of South Korea they automatically say oh Seoul? Yea, that place.

My good friend and I took a 45 minute bus ride from her town to Seoul for less than $4. You can’t get a ticket that cheap within a city in the states.

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Once we arrived in Seoul, we then took the subway to the area that we were going to. The subway system is Seoul is very cheap and easy to use. It’s actually easier than the NY system in my opinion with just as many lines.

We were headed to the Sinchon area in a well known neighborhood called Hongdae. Seoul is comprised of bigger neighborhoods that each have their own feel. Within those larger neighborhoods are smaller neighborhoods. (Crazy right?) So if you live in Charlotte think about living in south Charlotte and then having smaller areas like Steele Creek or Ballentyne. That’s kinda how it is but bigger.

My friend had gotten word of a festival in Sinchon that weekend. What kind of festival you ask? It was a WATERGUN festival. OMG!! Yes, there were two days dedicated to people having a giant watergun fight in the middle of the streets complete with a DJ and food vendors.

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It was pure craziness but so much fun! We spent about 3 hours in the madness.

After getting completely soaked we headed to our airbnb to dry off and change.

We decided to walk around to find food because we were starving. We stumbled upon a very nice Bulgogi restaurant and boy was it worth it! We had this large spread (see pic) that only cost about $8 each. Yes, all that for $8 each. And get this…you can ask for more of the sides if you want for no additional price.

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After stuffing our faces, we decided to do some exploring to walk some of the fullness off. We headed back to the main area of the watergun fest and they were having a full on block party. It was super cool. The DJ booth was shooting fire off to the beat of songs.

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We walked even more around the area and decided to stop in what’s called a 노래방 (which translates to singing room aka Karaoke) It’s a very popular pass time here.

We paid $1 to sing 4 songs. It was the funniest thing ever. (Yes, they had American songs. I did Drake so just imagine how that went) They give you a score after your song based on your accuracy. I got a 100 on one song!! (I’m going to try out for Americas got talent because obviously I’ve missed my calling!)

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We also stumbled upon several themed coffee shops which are a big thing in South Korea. I’ll do a separate post to highlight some of the most interesting ones (and trust me they are very interesting!)

After exploring we headed in for the night.

We got up the next morning and headed out to search for some American style breakfast. (Which is rare here unless you cook on your own)

After getting lost a few times from our online map, we finally found the restaurant we were looking for. It took 30 minutes or so to get our food, but it was decent considering it’s a rare find.

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So as you can see my first trip to Seoul was very fun! I will definitely be back a lot over this year so stayed tuned because Seoul is a HUGE and very interesting city!

As always, thanks for reading and Happy Traveling ✈️

I changed my life…About a week Agoooooo!

Hey Folks:

So it’s been a few weeks, but I’m finally able to breathe a little since moving to South Korea a week or so ago. I still can’t believe I’m actually here. It blows my mind everyday.

Anywho, as I sort of explained in previous posts, I’m here teaching English to Elementary school aged Korean kids for a year. I’ve been assigned my schools (yea that’s school with an ‘s’ meaning they gave me 2). I haven’t officially started teaching yet because I have to go through a 4-week training called TESOL (Teaching English as a Second language) which I’ll get a certificate for after. (Yayyy another accomplishment) After that, I’ll be fed to the wolves aka I’ll begin teaching 3-6 grade Korean kids. (The equivalent of 1st – 5th in America)

So now that you know why I’m here, I can tell you what I’ve done thus far. Well for starters…I’ve eaten VERY well. (Like a little TOO well smh) Korean food is absolutely delicious. Yes they still have most American fast food places but why eat there when you can get a FULL  fresh cooked meal for $2-$8? I promise I’m going to sign up at the gym tomorrow before this gets out of hand…because ummm yea!

Outside of eating, I have done lots of exploring in the city that I’m living in. The set up in Korea amazes me so much. As you’ll see if the top picture, buildings stack about 5-7 stories high and cram multiple businesses in each building. Literally each building has 500 food places, 350 coffee shops, 20 skin care stores, a couple gyms, and then random businesses. ( There may be a slight exaggeration on those numbers but whatevs) In Korea, your main modes of transportation (and cheaper) are walking (lots and lots of walking), the city bus, the subway, or trains. So far, I’ve used them all. All are very efficient and it’s pretty easy to catch on to if you aren’t afraid of public transportation.

The program in which I’m employed through, treated us VERY well in our first week of orientation. During the day we took cultural trips to places such as the Korean Independence Hall (Korea’s version of the DC monument and a museum), The city hall in our city to meet distinguished people which also had a trick art museum (sooooo cool), to the Gakwon Temple and the Big Buddha, and then to do important stuff like apply for our Alien Registration cards which make us official residents. (WOW I live in South Korea)

As you can see, I have had quite a busy first week. I even took my first trip up to Seoul for the weekend, but I’ll talk about that in a separate post. So far, I’m enjoying my time here. I’m trying my best to learn more and more of the language each day. I can read and sound out anything but I don’t always know what it translates to. (Praise the tech Gods for Google Translate) My goal after this year is to be able to have basic convos. I know it will take a few years to fully learn everything though.

Aside from the staring (more so at my braids) the people are nice. The kids are sooooooo freaking adorable and will say hello to you 500 times when they see you aren’t Korean. (It’s cute)

Yea, so this is my first week of living in SoKo (South Korea) in a nutshell. I’ll definitely be bringing you lots more…the good…the bad…and the ugly.

As always, thanks for reading and Happy Traveling!

 

Why Broke and Abroad is going…abroad!

5E1B2D63-8C9D-4964-AA2F-DCD8E0BDC20DHappy Tuesday folks!

As you’ve heard me mention in several posts now, I’m moving abroad. When I say Abroad…I literally mean halfway across the globe and in two weeks! (Insert omg face)

Over the last several months as I’ve told people about my decision, the first question I get is WHY?! I always counter back with…why not?!

As many of you can gather from reading my blog, traveling for me is more than just seeing a new place. You see, I’m a Sagittarius(if that means anything to you) and while I’m not big on the whole zodiac thing, the one thing I do know is that we are free spirits and have a great need to travel/explore. Traveling for me is love. Aside from the planning of it all, once I get to a new destination my whole attitude changes. My eyes open just a little bit wider and my smile gets even bigger. My appreciation for the life I’ve been given becomes greater. So the thought of actually living abroad was alway in the back of my mind, I just had to find the right way to do it!

After months of research, reading blogs, and even talking to friends who have lived abroad, I knew it was something I needed and wanted to do at this stage of my life.

This brings me to the next thought or question that many express: what about your career as an attorney and do you not want to start a family? Why would you go now? And again, I counter with why not?

Yes I know I’m 25 (give or take a few years. Don’t judge me) but I’m also a believer of God and his plan for my life. Yes, I want to fall in love, get married, and have a cute kid. And while I’ve dated over the years, I’ve come to the realization that my timeline and God’s timeline of when that’s supposed to happen aren’t the same. So after several (and I mean several!) failed attempts at love, I’ve decided to sit back and let God work his magic in that department. With this move I’ve prayed and prayed and asked whether this was where he was leading me. Sure enough, other plans failed and this one somehow just worked out perfectly.

As far as my career as an attorney, I’m not quitting. Thankfully, once you take the bar exam (and pass) you’re pretty much an attorney for life as long as you pay those annoying dues and complete your CLE hours. So we’ll just say I’m taking a little sabbatical over this year away. And when I decide to come back to the states, I’ll be able to pick back up where I left off. Who knows, I may even discover a new skill set while abroad to come back and cultivate. You never know.

Now for the questions I get when people realize my mind is pretty much made up on going:

1. Am I scared? A little. I’m more anxious to get there and to start adjusting to the inevitable culture shock that I’ll go through.

2. Are you worried about Trump/North Korea/ being an American over there? Ehhh my thoughts on that is that I’m in more danger here in the states. Do you watch the news these days? Sheesh! South Korea is one of the safest countries and guns are illegal too! The biggest thing I’ll have to worry about is being stared at for being brown and having different hair. Of course I’ll always be aware of my surroundings though. I’ll never go anywhere totally naive to the fact that something could still happen. (Which reminds me to get some pepper spray)

3. Speaking of hair, girl how are you going to keep your hair done? Now I know hair is a big issue with us brown girls. But don’t worry, there are black stylists over there. So getting braids or a sew-in is only a bus or train ride away. I’ll be fine in that area.

4. Do you know Korean? I’ve actually enrolled in an online class to learn the language. I’m proud to say I can already read most of it and I’m picking up on necessary words and phrases as well. So by the time I come back your girl will know yet another language (English, Spanish, and Hangul)

Like I said, this opportunity just fell into place so I know I can’t pass it up. Yes I’ll miss home, I’ll miss my routine, and I’ll miss friends and family, but it’s only 1-year. Thanks to technology I can still keep in contact with you all whenever. (just remember there’s a 13-hour time difference though) So I’m going to go into this experience with an open mind and heart. I plan to also travel throughout Southeast Asia as much as I can so stay tuned for more travel reviews. Oh and if you miss me THAT much, my door is always open for visitors. ❤️

In closing, I ask that you send up a few prayers for my journey and that I’ll get out of this experience exactly what God wants me to. I’ll really appreciate it.

As always, thanks for reading!

안녕힝가세요 (goodbye)

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Tuesday Travel Review: Asheville, NC

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Hi folks:

In today’s review, I will talk about a hidden gem. Asheville, NC is a cute little town complete with eclectic food spots and outdoor experiences.

Its only a 2 hour drive from where I live, so it’s perfect for a quick weekend getaway anytime of year.

I’ve been twice in the last few years and I experienced new things each time I went.

Where to stay:

The first time I went, I booked a room in the Esmeralda Inn located in Chimney Rock which is about 20-25 minutes outside of downtown Asheville. Now this place books fast so get on it if you plan to go. Every night they bake fresh cookies and each morning they serve a freshly prepared hot breakfast by the in house chef. Both were delicious.

This last time that I went, I booked an air bnb in south Asheville. It was only a 10-15 minute drive into downtown.

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It was a private apartment in the basement of a large house complete with kitchenette and your own bathroom.

Things to do:

On my first trip to Asheville, my focus was on becoming one with nature. I went in February but still wanted to hike a little. I went to Chimney Rock state park which was a 5 minute drive from the Esmeralda Inn. You have to drive up into the park and pay the entrance fee which was around $7-$10. There are several trails to explore and one that even leads to a waterfall.

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Now if  nature isn’t really your thing, don’t worry there’s plenty more to do.

Asheville is also known for some of its unique restaurants and eating experiences. Within the downtown area, you will only find restaurants born in that area. I can’t name every spot, but some of the ones I’ve tried are: Nine Mile (a  carribean fusion restaurant), White Duck Taco (really interesting taco combinations that you wouldn’t get anywhere else), and Biscuit Head (the #1 breakfast place in town). These are literally only a few of the many places in the area. It’s definitely a foodie town.

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After you fill your tummy, there’s still more to do. As I said before Asheville is a very eclectic town. This last time around I decided to try the LaZoom bus tour. It’s a big purple school bus that’s now converted. They offer three types of tours: a general comedy tour, a haunted comedy tour, and a beer and music tour. I tried out the haunted comedy tour.

The tour takes you through Asheville at night while the host tells funny haunted tales about the city. You can bring your own alcohol on the bus as well. I found it pretty entertaining and it was only $23. I booked my ticket directly on the LaZoom website.

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Another cool area to explore is the River Arts District. If you’re into art galleries this is the area for you! It’s a mile long strip filled with galleries, coffee shops, and breweries. In this area you will also find the NC glass blowing center where you can also do a 30-minute glass blowing or glass torch class.

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As you can see Asheville has so much to offer. I highly recommend it for a quick weekend getaway if you are close.

Giveaway!!!!!!

So this is my first real giveaway. If you read my Los Angeles review you will remember that I received a flight credit from Southwest Airlines. Well, I won’t be able to use the credit in the time limits (must book by April 2018) so I’ve decided to transfer it to one of you.  It’s a $150 credit and depending on where you live and where you go, it can cover a full flight. Here are the rules, you must leave a comment on this post telling where you would like to getaway to and why? Contest will be open until Friday June 30 at 12 noon. I will pick one person and email you with instructions on how to use the voucher. So comment away and good luck!

Happy Traveling ✈️

Travel Review: Lisbon, Portugal 🇵🇹

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Hey folks:

In this review I will talk about my time in Lisbon, Portugal.

Where we stayed:

Republica Bed and Breakfast for 2 nights. The total cost was $128.31 for the 2 nights. The bed and breakfast was centrally located in the Campo Pequeno area of Lisbon with a metro station right outside of its door. Since it was a B&B we had the option for a continental breakfast each morning as well. The staff was super nice and the place was very clean.

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What we did:

We made our way to Lisbon after leaving Lagos by bus. We took a cab from the Rede Expressions bus station to our Bed and Breakfast. The check-in process was very smooth.

After settling in, we decided to catch the metro to explore Lison. We headed toward the main tourist area near Rua Augusta which is home to lots of shops, restaurants, and cafes.

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The main goal for the day was to see Castelo de St. Jorge or the Castle of St. George. The journey to the castle definitely allowed us to see why Lisbon is known as the city of 7 hills. It was at the very top of several steep cobblestone roads, and yes we walked the whole way up. Talk about a leg workout.

We finally made our way to the entrance of the castle. There was an entrance fee to enter the grounds of the castle, it was about 8-10 Euros.

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Before reaching the inside of the castle, you are able to take in one of the best views in Lisbon. However the actual castle was a disappointment. It was literally just the structure of the old castle with no rooms or replicas of what it used to be. From what I heard you can catch the same view plus see the castle from other areas at no cost. I suggest going that route.

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After taking a few pictures around the castle, we took a tram back down to the bottom of the hill. We decided to walk around the main streets and catch some of the stores before they closed. Most of the commercial stores in that area close around 7-8pm. I was able to browse in a few stores before closing time. At that point, we decided to just take the metro back to our B&B for the night.

After sleeping in a little the next day, we decided to take a day trip out to Sintra. It’s a small town about 40 minutes outside of Lisbon by train. We were able to buy a roundtrip ticket to Sintra for 4.30 Euros. The train ride was very smooth and let us off right in the heart of Sintra.

Once in Sintra, we caught the hop on hop off bus that takes you to a few of the main attractions, including Castle of the Moors. The bus was 5.25 euros and allowed you to take one full trip around the loop.

We stopped at one palace (which I don’t remember the name for) and then took the very steep and curvy ride up to the Castle of the Moors. Once you are let off of the bus, you head to the ticket window to pay the entrance fee to see the outside of the castle. There was an additional fee to see the inside. Once you pay, you can take a tram or take a very steep walk uphill to get to the castle. (I walked) There were lots of people of all shapes and sizes taking the trek as well. It was only a 5 minute walk up.

Unlike the castle the day before, this castle did not disappoint at all! It was amazing and full of color. Since we waited until the afternoon to go, it was pretty crowded so it was hard to get that perfect picture. However, there are lots of little hidden vantage points to get your perfect shot. There is a little café on the grounds in case you want a snack or need to get water.

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Now, the hard part was getting back down to the bottom of the hill. The hop on hop off bus fills up quick at this stop since everyone tries to get here so be prepared to wait. If you don’t have patience, there are little tuk tuks that will take you down for 5 euros per person. We waited it out and headed back down to catch our train back to Lisbon.

After finding some food, I decided to head back out to see what was once deemed as Europe’s largest mall. I took the train out to Colombo mall which is in the north west part of the city and has a direct train stop. When I walked in, I was overwhelmed. I could see why it was given the accolades that it had. It was 3 levels of stores upon stores and the largest food court I’d ever seen. The real crazy part to me was that it didn’t close until 2am!!! (WHAAAATTTTT) I walked around until about midnight and even picked up an couple things in the process. Yet that still wasn’t enough time to really take it all in. (My feet were hurting so I didn’t have a choice)

After the short train ride back to our B&B, we prepared to head to our last and final Portuguese city the next morning.

Lisbon is a city full of culture and life. Although I wish I had a little more time to explore the nightlife I was still able to see a lot of what it did offer. Lisbon is a very diverse city and all cultures and races are present. If you are ever in Portugal, you must plan to stay here at least 4 days!

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Thanks for reading and Happy Traveling.

 

Tuesday Travel Review: Lagos, Portugal 🇵🇹

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Hey folks:

It’s Tuesday and I’m finally back and adjusted from my trip. Today’s review will detail my time in the beautiful town of Lagos, Portugal.

LAGOS! LAGOS! LAGOS! Oh how I love thee.

After an overnight in Lisbon, we took a bus to Lagos. We booked our bus ticket online with the Rede Express Bus company that services most all of Portugal. The roundtrip ticket was about $30 only because we waited so late to purchase. You can likely get the ticket for a lot less by purchasing at least 5 days in advance.

The bus ride from Lisbon to Lagos was about 3.75-4 hours. Luckily the bus had wifi so I was able to stay busy.

Once we arrived, we were met by our bed and breakfast host at the bus station. We stayed at Uptown Bed and Breakfast in Lagos. I found the place through booking.com.

It was a 3 level home with multiple rooms on each level. It was very clean and the location was convenient.

After getting settled in, we took our host up on his suggestion to try a local restaurant called Calhou. It was a cute little restaurant with traditional Portuguese décor. The suggestion was to try a local dish called Cataplana. It was an assortment of fresh local fish, prawns, potatoes, and veggies all cooked together in this dome shaped copper dish over a fire. The dish was served still boiling and almost like a stew. The fish was so fresh and the veggies and potatoes were cooked to perfection.

After dinner, we walked down to the center city to see what the night had in store. The Lagos center city was made up of long cobblestone alleys filled with shops, bars, and restaurants. Lagos was definitely a drinkers town, they had happy hour every night from 7-midnight.

After a few hours of taking in the sites and sounds, we headed back to our B&B for the night.

The next morning we had a light breakfast on the rooftop of the house with an amazing view.

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The plan for the day, was to spend as much time near the water as we could. Our host told us about a fun boat tour that took you to see some of the water caves. We signed up for that as it was only 15 Euros.

The tour lasted about an hour and a half and we drove along the coast while going in and out of different caves along the way. From there we ate a quick lunch at the city center before heading to the actual beach. We wanted to rent scooters for the day, however all of the shops shut down for lunch from 1pm-3pm. UGH!

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Instead, we took a taxi out to Praia do Camilo, which is one of the most beautiful beaches in Lagos.

After driving up a few hills and to the top of a cliff, we arrived at the entrance for the beach. As soon as I looked over the cliff, I was totally blown away. The beauty was out of this world. (And I have been fortunate to see some of the world’s most beautiful beaches in my travels)

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We made the walk down the stairs onto the beach. It wasn’t a large beach but it was perfect in size. I laid out my towel and proceeded to enjoy the scenery.

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After some much needed fun in the sun, we made the 25 minute walk back toward our B&B for showers and then dinner.

We decided on dinner in the city center this night. We stopped at a little outdoor restaurant and had spaghetti with prawns. It was decent. (Not the best thing I’ve had but decent) Since this was our last night in Lagos, we chose to look in the shops for any souvenirs that we may have wanted and then enjoy the Lagos Happy Hour crowd.

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The next morning we had breakfast then headed back to the bus station to make the trek back to Lisbon.

All in all, Lagos is a small city with big heart. If you are ever in Portugal, this is worth the 4 hour ride from Lisbon. I honestly could have done another day or 2 in Lagos to see some of the other beaches or to even do a tour to see some other caves further out.

My time here was super short, but it gave me just what I came for…a BEAUTIFUL beach.

As always, thank you for reading. Happy Traveling! ✈️

10 Tips for successfully navigating abroad!

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Hey folks:

Here are my top 10 tips for a successful trip abroad:

1. Always keep your passport on you: I know this sounds obvious but you would be surprised how many people leave their passport in their room or suitcase while going out to explore. While abroad, your passport is literally your lifeline. You will need to show it for the simplest things at times, such as buying a bus ticket. So always be sure to keep it in your purse or book bag.

2. Try to carry a book bag over a purse: I’ve learned that having a book bag is much easier to keep controlled. I have a bookbag that goes everywhere now when I travel. It may not be the most fashionable option but it’s the safest. You’ll want to carry and have on you certain things at all times and a bookbag is the way to ensure that. Also depending on the country, carry your backpack to the front to protect against pick pocketing.

3. Try to consolidate to 1 large piece of luggage: If you plan to city hop, the last thing you want is to carry a bunch of luggage around. You’ll want to be able to move faster and there won’t always be room on public transportation for lots of luggage. Also try to roll your clothes or even air vacuum then to save room in your luggage.

4. Always carry essentials: foreign hotels and foreign countries in general may not have the same hygiene as you so be sure to carry extra essentials. Some that I feel are vital are: wet wipes, hand sanitizer, small packs of tissue, bath towel, face towel, shower shoes, and soap. Public restrooms in foreign countries typically don’t have tissue or charge a small fee for it. So it’s better to be prepared than not.

5. Public transportation will cut down on costs: I know it sounds scary, but if the country/city you’re in has a metro or bus system…USE IT! Yea cabs and private cars are convenient, but after a while they add up. Public transportation is usually pretty cheap and very efficient in getting you around.

6. Street/local food won’t kill you: I know we hear horror stories about people getting sick in foreign countries or we have preconceived notions about food safety in other places, but it’s not that bad! Street food, much like public transportation, can be very easy on the pockets. You’ll pay almost next to nothing for a full meal if you let go of your fears. If you’re still not sure maybe pack some stomach meds just in case. Don’t get me wrong, experiencing a nice restaurant while on a trip is great, but paying for overpriced food at each meal will kill your pockets. Food is more expensive and less authentic in tourist areas, so venture out and try something with the locals.

7. You must have thick skin: People in other counties may not follow your same customs. For instance, I’ve found that in most Arabic and even Asian countries, the concept of personal space is nonexistent. People will literally breath on your neck or stand so close to you they’re touching you. So simply say excuse me or just take it. But getting mad really won’t solve anything. They’re not being rude, it’s just what they’re used to. Another thing I’ve found is the concept of standing and waiting in line is foreign to some countries. People will come up to the counter and start talking while you’re still being helped. Again, just say excuse me or just try to be patient.

8.  Don’t expect everyone to know or speak English: I still struggle with this. We as Americans tend to think that everyone should cater to us, especially when it comes to language barriers. But I’ve found that not every country pushes the need to learn English. So depending on where you’re going, try to learn a few key phrases to help at least get around and to order food.

9. Buy bus/train tickets in advance:  if you plan to city hop, I suggest buying the tickets in advance. Companies typically offer significant discounts the earlier you buy. This will take planning though in knowing your travel schedule and researching the routes in the country. But the later you wait, the more you’ll pay!

10. Try to get currency in advance: a lot of foreign countries don’t accept debit cards at every place, so you’ll need to have local currency on you. This is especially true in markets and smaller food places. While on the subject of markets and/or souks, always bargain on the amount you pay. The price that is listed is never really the final price. Also, be confident in your negotiations. If you seem timid, they can pick up on that and try to overcharge. Try to have a set budget ahead of time so that way you know what you’re working with to spend. Lastly, keep your money hidden and always turn away from the merchant when pulling money out to count. The last thing you want them to know is how much money you have in your possession.

Use these tips and you’re sure to have a great trip abroad.

As always, thanks for reading and happy Traveling! ✈️

 

Tuesday Travel Review: Marrakech, Morocco 🇲🇦

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Hey folks:

Although I’m still galavanting around the world, I decided to go ahead and drop my Marrakech review while I sit on this bus back to Lisbon from Lagos for 4 hours!

The background:

This trip became a thing after I came across a 2-for-1 flight deal. The deal started out of JFK airport in New York flew to Casablanca, Morocco then Lisbon, Portugal. It goes back to Casablanca for a day then back to JFK. The total price for the flight was…$400! Yes $400 for a 2 continent flight. The flight was on a Moroccan based airline called Royal Air Maroc. Ok, enough of the boring stuff…here’s what I did while in Marrakech.

Day 1:

As I said above, our plane flew into Casablanca airport. The plan was to take a short commuter train at the airport to the main train station in Casablanca then take a longer train into Marrakech. We made it onto the commuter train with no issue. But…we ended up getting onto the wrong train at the main station. We ended going the complete opposite way of where we needed to go! (Insert Jordan crying face) We met a very nice lady on our wrong train who helped to get us on a bus to Marrakech. Had we waited to take the train back we would have literally wasted our whole day.

After the 3.25 hour bus ride and an interesting “taxi” ride in a touk touk we finally made it to our beautiful Riad in the heart of the Medina. We were staying at Riad Alnadine. A Riad is a traditional Moroccan bed and breakfast. Our host and the owner, Nadine was from France and was the best!

We were given a tour of the Riad and then shown our room.

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Once we were settled. Nadine walked us to a cute little restaurant just a few steps from the Riad. I ordered the Tajin with tuna. Tajin is a popular blend of Moroccan spices often used on various meats and cooked with vegetables in a clay pot. Most restaurants will also serve bread and marinated olives with each meal.

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After dinner, we decided to just head back to the Riad to prepare for an adventurous day 2!

Day 2:

We started our morning with breakfast prepared by Nadine and served on the beautiful terrace of the Riad.

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We were set to take part in a full day tour beginning at 10am. We booked through a company called Get Your Guide before we went to Morocco. The tour consisted of a camel trek, ATV ride, and finished out with a full treatment at a Hammam. (a Moroccan spa) The price of all of this was only $107 per person.

The tour company sent a van to pick us up from our Riad. We made the drive first to the area for the camel trek.

When we arrived we were served Moroccan mint tea (the best tea ever and I’m bringing some back) then dressed in a traditional style outfit complete with head wrap. We were assigned to our camels and off we went. The trek lasted an hour (wayyyyy to long if you ask me). We literally just rode the camels through a desert like area. The guide would stop ever so often to take pictures for us. It wasn’t terrible but they definitely can shorten it by half the time in my opinion.

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After the trek, we hopped back in our van and took a short ride to our next stop where we would start our ATV ride! (Yesssss)

Once we arrived, we were given a quick tutorial of the bikes and given our helmets then we were out! The ride last about 45 minutes with a stop in a village for more tea (winning) We rode through dunes and even over some nice hills. It was a blast. We did get pretty dirty though so be prepared for that.

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We loaded up once again and drove toward Jemma el-Fna (or The Square) where our Hammam would await.

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We had no idea what to expect before getting to the Hammam. We thought we would simply take a quick shower then receive a watered down version of a massage. Boy were we wrong. We literally received the royal treatment.

We were taken to a room where we undressed and were given plush robes and slippers.  From there we went into this large sauna room made of ceramic and marble. Overhead was the largest rainforest shower I’ve ever seen.

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The staff lady told us to rinse off then lay down on the cushioned bench. We were then lathered in some kind of body scrub from head to toe and told to rinse off again. Next we were scrubbed with these exfoliating hand gloves from head to toe and told to lay down for about 5-10 minutes in the sauna heat. We rinsed off yet again before being rubbed down in yet another body cream. We layed down once more before the final rinse down. We were robbed and taken upstairs to a massage room where two new ladies greeted us.

Next came one of the best Swedish massages I had ever had. The massage lasted about 30-45 minutes and it was heavenly. I literally didn’t want to get up after.

We were taken to a cute little sitting area and served more tea. (You literally get tea everywhere.) We changed clothes and met our driver who took us back to the Riad.

Once back at our Riad, we relaxed for a little before getting dress to head back to the square for an evening of shopping at the souks, eating, and taking in the sights and sounds.

Jemma el-Fna is the main attraction area for traditional Marrakech. It’s a maze of narrow streets filled with souks (Arabic shops) complete with literally anything someone would need. There are lots of restaurants, street food, and fresh squeezed juice stands all around too.

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A word to the wise, if you ever head to the souks, always bargain when buying things. Never just take the first price they offer. Marrakech can be super cheap if you do it right.

That evening, we decided on one of the street food vendors for our dinner. Although it’s street food, you are still seated at a large picnic table to eat. I had mixed meat skewers (lamb, chicken, and kefta) with veggie couscous.

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After a few hours of taking it all in, it was back to the Riad for the night.

Day 3:

This was our day to see the beautiful palaces and buildings that Marrakech is known for. Luckily, everything was still in walking distance so we didn’t have to pay for transportation.

After breakfast on the terrace, our first stop was to Ben Youssef Madrasa. It was 25 MAD to enter. (About $2) Ben Youssef Madrasa was a popular science university and mosque back in the day. The building  which still stands is very detailed with clay and brightly colored hand painted tile. It was beautiful. I literally had an entire photo shoot here.

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After spending some time at Ben Youssef, we stopped by a spice souk before heading back to the square to get a touk touk to Bahia Palace. It was 10MAD to enter (about $1)

Similar to Ben Youssef, the colors and details at Bahia palace were amazing. And yes…another photo shoot took place.

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We trekked our way back toward the square and found a cute little restaurant called Chez Brahim. I ordered the lamb couscous meal which started with a Moroccan salad and ended with fresh oranges sprinkled with cinnamon. It was delicious.

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For our last few hours we walked around the square just taking it all in for one last time.

Marrakech gave me exactly what I needed from it. Old clay buildings coupled with detailed carvings and colors. You won’t need more than 4 days or so to see everything it has to offer.

As always, thanks for reading and happy Traveling. ✈️