Friday Five: Five Reasons I Love Living in Lavapies

Do you remember last year, when I wrote that post about the various neighborhoods I might live in?  I took my 10-pass ticket and went from neighborhood to neighborhood, checking it out before searching for flat at random.  I didn’t want to waste my time seeing a flat when I didn’t even like the neighborhood (haha, that was me acting like I would have a choice of flats.  Oh, how naive.)  Anyway, if you don’t remember, and you don’t want to open that link, let me remind you!  I LOVED lavapies.  I liked the liveliness, and the balconies (<3) and the random African men sitting on the corners.  I thought it was funky and fun and then I went home and read…..that it’s dangerous and don’t walk around at night alone here.  (Really, don’t).  But I was still determined to find a place here or close to here and with some random luck through my host mom, I did!!

I have never had any problems in Lavapies and while I still wouldn’t go out frolicking on my own late at night, I think it’s a great place to live.  It’s fun, it’s vibrant, it’s full of new restaurants and bars and stores and everything you could want.  It’s close to the center and close to the metro line I take to get to work.  So with all of that being said, here are five MORE reasons why I think Lavapies is extra special. (In no particular order)

1 //  The muralsspain2

There are murals all over central Madrid, but the ones in Lavapies are so colorful and interesting.  They change constantly and I think they add so much to this area.  spainpicmonkey-collage

2 // The terraces spain5

Spain is terrace heaven in general, but the streets in Lavapies are lined with bars and restaurants with outdoor seating.  Walk down any street on a Sunday and it is absolutely packed with people out and about, enjoying life.

3 // The diversity

spain1

From the abundance of Indian restaurants to the African and Middle Eastern guys hanging out on every corner, Lavapies sure is a mix.  Lavapies is also lined with delicious Indian restaurants!  Where else can you find that in Madrid?

spain10

4 // The pop-up storesspain9

I swear, every couple weeks there is a new store somewhere in Lavapies.  They hang around for a few weeks or months and then something else comes in.  I spent just 6 weeks in the U.S and when I came back, I noticed new cafes and new clothing stores.  I don’t know if this means business is bad, or it means it’s more accessible for normal people to open a store.

5 // The winding streets and beautiful balconiesspain4

This is what made me fall in love with Lavapies from the beginning!  Still love it.

A Weekend in Valencia Part II.

Hola!  if you’re just catching up, check out Part I here.dsc_0101

So, day two!  It started with breakfast (after being woken up by the loudest street band I have ever heard in my entire life….)dsc_0143

And then we headed to the beach.  But first, we stopped in a very close-by market and walked around a bit.dsc_0149 dsc_0155When in Spain, there are pig legs.  Always.

And lots of food vendors!dsc_0160 dsc_0164 dsc_0166

We bought some Greek food (not sure what it was) and some Paella Valenciana that wasn’t nearly as good as the night before, but still tasty.  With our food in hand, we headed to the bus stop to catch a ride to the beach.dsc_0173 dsc_0174 dsc_0175 dsc_0176

The bus took longer than we expected, but once we arrived, we were both happy 😉  We had lunch sitting on the wall that bordered the beach, sharing both of the dishes.dsc_0180

Hehehe.

Then we went to the beach, but the clouds kind of rolled in and it was a little cooler than we had anticipated, so we went for a stroll, sat for a bit, and then headed back.dsc_0182

Still beautiful, though!!

Once back in the center of Valencia, we walked in and out of some of the stores and then headed back to the flat to get ready for a fun night out!!img_6513

We shared some wine and then headed over to the same market from earlier in the day where there was a “tapas fest” of sorts happening!img_6530

We shared, like, 1000 plates and drank a few beers.  I tried things I’ve had before and other things that I have never had!!

img_6532 img_6533 img_6538

But the best part was my handsome date!  The guy on the left.

img_6537

Hahah…just kidding.  The right 😉 )

And then we found a bar with dancing and danced a whole lot 🙂  It was definitely a fun night!!

And in the morning, I sure was feeling it… haha.  We had some breakfast, then shortly after, some lunch, and then back to the train we went!dsc_0188 dsc_0191

Short, but so, so sweet.

A Weekend in Valencia.

dsc_0009Hey!  Look- I’m here!  I pretty much disappeared for the last couple of weeks because I have been out and about and running around.  I’m not really sure where the time has gone, but I have been spending a lot of time getting paperwork done (Spain and their visa process aint no joke), food shopping & prepping for my epic birthday party last weekend, spending time with L who is abandoning me in T-minus 6 days (not really abandoning….just leaving me hah….kidding….), teaching a few private lessons here and there, anddddddd I went to Valencia a couple weekends ago!  So I’ve been busy, to say the least.

L and I wanted to do one last trip before the year kicked into high gear, but we agreed that it needed to be close and short and not too ambitious, since we only had a few free days.  He suggested Valencia, I googled it, we bought tickets….dsc_0107

…and the rest is history.

We went from early Friday morning (via Renfe) until Sunday afternoon.  Short and sweet.  The first day, we found our AirBnb, which was one of those hotel-like AirBnbs, which has it’s pros and cons (always clean, relatively easy to check in…and cons: doesn’t have basic cooking things like oil, doesn’t have coffee (but has a coffee pot), doesn’t have toiletries you might have forgotten).  Then we went out and explored!  Valencia is small, but incredibly beautiful with it’s winding, small streets, cafes, bars, restaurants, and history.dsc_0002 dsc_0003 dsc_0005 dsc_0010 dsc_0011 dsc_0015 dsc_0017 dsc_0021

**These photos are all blurry because I didn’t realize the camera was in Manual Focus #bloggerFAIL

dsc_0018“stop taking pictures”

dsc_0023 dsc_0028 dsc_0031 dsc_0036 dsc_0039

As you can see, I realized my mistake somewhere in there and the pictures cleared up…dsc_0040

These trees were massive!  They were from Australia (but probably had the graffiti put on them later.  Bad bad…)

dsc_0048 dsc_0060 dsc_0056

Ok maybe we didn’t realize the manual/ automatic thing until much later in the day.  FAIL!!!!

dsc_0064Balcony goals ^^^^

After all that walking, we were ready for lunch.  It was already after 4:00 pm and while lunch here is much later than in the States, 4:00 is still pushing it.  We headed to El Mercado Central (lots of restaurants and bars in one hall) in search of some foood.dsc_0072

And found one place that was still serving!dsc_0079

After lunch, we went to the place with “really big swimming pools” (described by yours truly).  Before going to Valencia, I only knew that they had a place with really huge, blue swimming pools.dsc_0088

These “swimming pools” are actually “La Ciudad de Las Artes y Las Ciencias” (the city of the arts and sciences), a huge, state-of-the-art complex dedicated to art and science.  It was an amazing building and grounds, as you can see.dsc_0101

I was impressed.  We tried to take photos, but with the setting sun, this was no easy task.dsc_0107 dsc_0111

But then- success!dsc_0118 dsc_0125

Around the corner, we found a live, outdoor concert!  With Americans performing!  The first performer was okay…playing boring, slow music.  But the second group was so good!  Totally upbeat and fun.dsc_0131

What a venue, right?!

He liked it 😉dsc_0128

We sat there for awhile, chit-chatting away and by the time we left for dinner, the sun was setting.dsc_0133

Speaking of dinner, it was AMAZING (caps are so necessary).  Valencia is known for their paella (ie Paella Valenciana) and not only had I never had paella in Valencia, but I had never had paella in general.  “Isn’t it just arroz con pollo?”  No.  No no no no no.dsc_0139

The picture looks bad because the lighting was not very good, but it was so good.  The rice is chewier thanks to the shallow depth of the pan and the entire thing had such good flavor.  We traveled quite far to have this, but TripAdvisor says it’s the #1 place and it was!  In Spain, paella would typically be eaten as the mid-day meal, but we didn’t want to have to leave the beach the next day to go have paella, so late paella eating was going to happen.  We ordered paella Valenciana, which traditionally has chicken, but this one also had rabbit, peas, and SNAILS (if you agree to having them).  We agreed, as you can see.  I ate one!  I am good on the snail front for the next 75 years of my life, I think (they still had antennas!!!)

Before the paella, we started with a tuna and avocado appetizer since the waiter told us the paella would take 45 minutes (um, lie).dsc_0138

But the appetizer was good (albeit fishy) and held us over before that monstrous dish of paella arrived.  We also had a bottle of wine to wash it all down.

A delicious meal to end a great day!!  This post is too long so I’ll be back with days 2 & 3 shortly.  As always, thanks for reading 🙂dsc_0111

Two Hours in Copenhagen: What to do on Your Super Short Layover.

Hey, hey, hey!  img_6482

I am back in Madrid!!  Very happy to be back and currently blogging from one of my favorite cafes in Lavapies, making good on my post that said I would get out more 😉

Anyway, things have been good!  Sleeping last night was a little bit rough, but I got a few things done this morning including unpacking and getting to the supermarket (the most important things on the top of that basket….) and now I’m here!img_6487

Cheap wine and delicious boxed milk…I missed you both.img_6485

Just look at these prices!!img_6489

The weather is unusually cool here, but I’m read for cozy sweaters and jeans!  With that being said, I’m off to Valencia TOMORROW for a little beach weekend 😉  Why not hit the ground running….  Haha

So, with all that being said, I’m actually here to tell you about my little two hour trip to Copenhagen. dsc_0081

It was actually not planned at all.

A few months ago, I bought a low-cost flight from JFK International to Madrid, but it had a 6 hour layover in Copenhagen, unfortunately (or so I thought!).  I planned to spend it in Starbucks (which I did quickly visit to help wash down my almond butter and blueberry jam sandwich)img_6436

I turned the cup for the photo because they spelled my name “Timara”….ohhhhh so close.

Anyway, like I said, I was going to stay in Starbucks since my layover was only for 6 hours.  That’s short enough to be comfortable (have a coffee, use the internet, go through security again), but too short to do anything fun- like leave the airport- or so I thought!!!dsc_0058

I overheard a girl talking on the place (eavesdropping is my art) and she said that most city centers are very far from the airport, but that in Copenhagen, it was possible since the train and metro take you there in just 15 minutes.  She was talking to two guys that had 9 hour layover, but I thought, “would this be possible with just a 5 hour layover?”.dsc_0063

I quickly did some googling and found that-Yes, it is!  (Although it only takes 15 minutes from the airport to the center of Copenhagen, keep in mind that you should leave about 30 minutes on each end for getting tickets, finding the track, waiting), 15 minutes in the beginning to get a map and talk to the tourist office, and a good 2 hours to actually see anything.  All in all, if you don’t have at least 4 hours, I probably wouldn’t attempt it because you need time to get through security back at the airport).

Actually, none of this would have been possible, or AS possible, or I probably wouldn’t have considered it if Norwegian Airlines didn’t make me check my carry-on bag.  Long story short, I didn’t know that their 10 kilo (22 lb) limit on carry on bags included your PERSONAL ITEM AND EVERYTHING YOU’VE EVER OWNED INCLUDING YOUR SOUL AND DIGNITY.  “Put your water bottle on the scale”.  “Put your lunch bag (that will be eaten before the flight) on the scale”.  “Put $135 dollars on the scale”.  They didn’t actually say the last one, but that’s how much my little mistake cost me.  I had everything planned- my carry on bag would be 10 kilos or less and I would carry my food, camera, and computer in my “personal item”. I have NEVER had my personal item weighed, even with low-cost airlines like RyanAir or WizzAir.  Imagine my horror when the lady (idk her job title….day ruiner?) told me to put everything on the scale and then told me it would be $65.00 to check the bag….x 2.  Since I had two flights.  There was nothing she was willing to do for me and I tried re-arranging, tried putting my computer and camera in my jacket and even considered throwing all of my toiletries out.  I was so angry (mostly at myself), but very taken aback my how rude they were.  It was bad in the moment, but it made my little trip into Copenhagen possible (even though I would have been able to leave the bag in a locker, but probably wouldn’t have even tried). So, thanks, Norwegian Air, for nothing.  I’m still bitter haha.**

Anyway, if you want to go into Copenhagen for a quick trip, here’s how to do it!

  • Step one: Store your bags.  This can either be done in the airport, or if you can manage, you can wait and store them at the train station (which is what I did).  I don’t know the price for storing it at the airport, though.
  • Step two:  Take the train from terminal 2/3.  Purchase a ticket from the machines or buy it from the ticket window.  You want to buy a ticket from the airport (Kastrup Station) to the Central Station (Kobenhavn H). Tickets cost 36 Kr (which is about 3.8 Euros or 4.20 USD).  I paid with my debit card, since I did not want to convert money. Take the train and arrive in just 15 minutes.  *NOTE:  You can also get to the city center by metro (takes about the same time) or bus.  I took the train because it was the first thing I saw.dsc_0002
  • Step three:  Store your bags at the train station if you have not done so.  It’s in the basement, down the steps in one corner of the station.  There are self-service lockers that allow you to store the bags for abbbouuuut $9.00 for 24 hours.  There was no hourly option.  It has to be paid by credit/ debit card.
  • Step four:  Go to the tourist information office, get yourself a map, and ask for a quick walking tour.  For my tour, I made my way out of the building and over to Stroget, which is the longest pedestrian street in Copenhagen.  If you walk briskly, not stopping to shop, you will reach the end and get to the famous canal in right around 40 minutes.  dsc_0069
  • Step five:  Take your photos, maybe have a coffee or a hot dog (there is a fancier name to this).
  • Step six:  Head back to the train.  You can walk along the water or go back via Stroget, which is what I did.  I was afraid of getting lost, so I didn’t mess with what I knew.
  • Step seven:  Head back to the airport!  I had to ask a couple people at the train station to clarify which train to get on, but it wasn’t hard at all.

That’s it!!  A quick trip into Copenhagen is so very, very doable and so very, very, very worth it.  I would like to go back for a weekend and see and do and experience more, but this was a wonderful little trip….and now I can knock another place off my bucket list!  Hey, this can even count towards my 25 goals in my 25th year!

What I saw along the way:dsc_0003They have 7-11 in the train station in Copenhagen!!  It was much fancier than any 7-11 of seen in the U.S.

dsc_0009Bikes.  Everywhere.  Like a sea of bikes.  I would like to go back and ride all over Copenhagen.  My mom would like this too.

dsc_0015Tivoli Gardens.  The woman in the tourist office told me these were beautiful gardens, but would take about 2 hours to see…a.k.a all of my time!

dsc_0018Glass buildings outside of the train.

dsc_0023And no matter where you are in this world, you can always find those golden arches.

dsc_0033dsc_0086These are photos from Stroget, the longest Pedestrian Street.  Think shops, bars, restaurants.  The buildings were beautiful and so colorful!

dsc_0042I like graffiti… dad, does this say “I’m a nitwit?”

dsc_0073Along the water at the end of the canal.  You can get back to the train station via the water path.

And more photos of that beautiful canal:dsc_0081 dsc_0070 dsc_0060 dsc_0051img_6470

And somewhere along the way (or at the airport…duty free), you can buy yourself or a loved one a cute tin of traditional butter cookies.

img_6479

Goal:  Eat homemade, fresh butter cookies in Copenhagen.

Thanks for reading!dsc_0066

**I am aware that it was my own fault that I didn’t read the guidelines.  It does say it on their website, but I’m pretty sure that when I booked the ticket, it said it would be 10 kilos for the carry-on and did not specify that it includes all items.  That lady at the counter was only doing her job, but having a personality and being friendly is obviously not in her job description.

Moving Back.

Today is the day!  I am moving BACK to Spain for another year!  It’s strange, actually….today is one year to the day that I moved there last year.  Didn’t do that on purpose, but funny how things work out!

sept133

I’m flying with Norweigan air, which is a lowcost airline and they don’t give you a.n.y.t.h.i.n.g for free.  Granted, the one way ticket cost me 269 Euros, but I get no food, no blanket, no checked bag, no seat.  Kidding about the last one, but I wouldn’t be surprised.sept13I’m taking one carry on bag that is STUFFED to the brim (mostly full of tea hidden on the bottom).  I’m fairly certain that when that bag goes through security scanners, they will see a whole lot of “organic material” in the sides, which will look quite suspicious!  haha it’s tea…not cocaine!  Then I have that other “personal item” with my computer, camera, magazines, and a lot of food.  Then I have a backpack with more food…

My flight is not until 11:30 pm tonight, but we are leaving for the airport around 4:00 since I need to take 3 trains to get there.  Good thing I have less stuff than last year (because most of it is all in my room in Madrid….)  My mom and I are off to get our nails done soon (my third in the last 6 weeks.  That’s more than my entire life!!!  But I could get used to it…).  This morning I got up early to finish painting this birdhouse: sept131

But not before cuddling with Teddy:sept132

I’m going to miss that little love-bug so much.

Later today, I’m going to pack up a ton of food for 16 hours of travel (with a 5 over layover) and just plan to sleep through the flight tonight (hey Dramamine!!!).  I’ll wake up in Copenhagen, where I’ll have a layover for five hours- most of which will be spent in Starbucks- and then I’ll be back on another plane, headed to Madrid!  To say I’m excited to go back would be an understatement!  I’m excited for a new year and a fresh start and new friends and adventures.  I have been thinking about ways I’m going to make the most of this year, which include:

  • Private lessons only two days a week, and no more than 2 in a day.  Last year got out of hand with the number of private lessons I was doing and was causing a lot of unhappiness that really is not necessary.
  • Go on one outing/ adventure per week.  Hikes, museums, parties, restaurants.  Anything to get out and do things.
  • Take Spanish lessons 2 days per week!  I REALLY want to improve my Spanish this year, so on the afternoons that I’m not teaching, I would like to take classes.
  • Take time to relax.  I think I fell into the routine of life last year, accepting my long days as what is normal, but I was quite unhappy during the week and fairly overwhelmed.  I want to have more free time to write on this blog, go to cafes, read, etc.

In other news, last night I went to dinner with my parents as a “last supper”.  We went to Marzano, a new(ish..2 years) restaurant in Jenkintown because my dad had a gift card.  We would have never gone there on our own, but let me just say- although pricey- this restaurant was SO GOOD.  We were raving about our meals the entire time.  We had quite a generous gift card to spend, so we were able to try a number of delicious dishes.sept138Arancini and porcini mushroom risotto

sept1314

Salad with roasted red peppers, cucumbers, tomato, goat cheese rolled in pistachio, cranberries, and a honey-balasamic viniagrette

sept1313

Lightly breaded veal medallions with an arugula, tomato, and Parmesan salad on top

sept1312

Pan-seared lamb chops in a wine reduction (that didn’t taste like lamb.  They were amazing!)

sept1311

sauteed chicken breast, black olives, asparagus, wild mushrooms, and a light cream sauce

Everything was absolutely incredible.  So full of flavor and fresh-tasting.  The portions were quite generous and we felt that they did everything perfectly.  Highly recommended!

And last, but not least, my mom made delicious, crispy waffles for breakfast yesterday:sept139

After I did a really great (since I’m so sore today…) NTC workout at the gym!sept1310

Off to get my nails done, go for a run (gonna run like Edward Scissor Hands so I don’t mess those babies up) and then finish packing!

Best Birthday Celebration!!!

Wrote this post yesterday evening:

Hi!  Comin’ at you today with a splitting headache and 25 ounces of water next to me that need to be consumed but make my stomach hurt.  That’s all because last night I went out and celebrated my 25th birthday and had one of the best birthday celebrations of my life.

The night went from THIS:bday

And I woke up like THIS:bday3

Spent the entire day in bed recuperating, but it was all SO WORTH IT!bday6

Teddy stayed by me the entire day.

I was back and forth and completely indecisive about whether or not to do anything for my birthday this year.  All of my friends come from different groups (West Chester, Jefferson, high school) and I’m one of those people that worries incessantly about whether or not everyone is having fun, so I was afraid to have something with such a mixed group of friends.  I thought about having a dinner at my house and then going out, but decided against it because I would be so worried about people having fun.  Then I thought I would just have a night of going out and I’m SO GLAD I did!!!bday4

I texted all of my friends in Philadelphia and asked who was around, told them it would be Friday night and then flip-flopped forever on where to go.  My best friend, Shannon, suggested going to Xfinity Live! near the stadiums, since her friend, Krystal, had a happy hour.  All I wanted to do was dance!!!bday7

….And dance, we did!  On tables, on the floor, everywhere!  It was, hands down, one of the best nights….ever.  Maybe that had to do with all of the drinks I had (helllooooo birthday shots), but it also had to do with this girl:bday2

Shannon has been my best friend for over 6 years now and every time we are together, I’m reminded of how great of a friend she is.  I didn’t know those other girls before last night, but Shannon got everyone together and they all treated me like they’ve known me forever.  I am so lucky to have her as a friend!!

Besides them, my two good friends Hannah and Emily came with two of their friends and I was so happy to see them!  I was already pretty toasted once they arrived, so they got to watch me ride the mechanical bull and dance like crazy to the live music that was happening.  I have known both of them since my cross country days and they have stayed true friends since!!

I’m going to try to upload the video of my bull ride to this post, but suffice it to say that my thighs are on fire from holding onto that thing for dear life.

My head is pounding, anything that looks or smells like alcohol makes my stomach turn, and I think I pulled something in my back…but I am so full of gratitude for Shannon and everyone else that came out and made last night SO AMAZING.bday5

Thank you <3

 

Lately.

Hey, hey!  

Now that summer has quietly made it’s exit, it feels like fall is rolling in quite nicely.  I know it won’t last, since we have a heat wave this weekend, but it is nice to feel the chill in the air and know that cozy sweater weather is on the horizon.  One thing I missed dearly last year was FALL and fall culture.  You don’t realize it’s a thing until it’s not a thing where you’re living.  I remember having this conversation last year:

Me:  I want to go apple picking!  I miss doing that and it’s not really a thing here.

L:  You mean, picking…. from…a tree?

Me:  YES!  So I can make pies and apple sauce and things.  I want to pick pumpkins too.

L:  ……silence

L: Why don’t you go to the supermarket?

*sigh*

Maybe there will be another couple cool, crisp days before I head back to Spain (in one week!!), but something tells me there won’t be.  These days will pass by in a flash, especially because I have a long list of to-dos that I’ve been putting off.

Anyway, I’m starting to ramble.  Here are some photos lately.

DSC_0001

Teddy looking oh so innocent

IMG_6019

I went into the city and had lunch with Shannon and Claire (roommates and best friends from college).  Not too much has changed!  (Except Claire is getting MARRIED and I’m so excited for her!!!)phillyPicMonkey Collage

After lunch, Shannon and I walked around Philly, which was so fun.  There is something so great about Center City Philadelphia.  It’s so lively and fun!!

DSC_0012picklesPicMonkey Collage

My dad and I made pickles!  Not only dill pickles, but bread and butter pickles, as well!.  We are so #domestic

DSC_0022peach PicMonkey Collage

And we made jam too…peach jam // peach sriracha (made by my dad) // blueberry

DSC_0045

I had dinner with my parents and everyone in their share house at a local restaurant (but ended up getting sick…)

IMG_5974

My mom made stuffed peppers one night and they were too pretty not to take a photo

exercisePicMonkey Collage

And I’ve been exercising a little bit!!  I went to the gym and did NTC one morning (and was sore for DAYS) and did a trail run another day.

And I can’t end this without unloading the Teddy pics…IMG_6069   IMG_6056 IMG_6036 IMG_5994

Enjoy these preview days of fall, or the sweltering heat of summer.  Whichever you prefer.

 

Things to Always Pack and Questions to Always Ask When Staying in an AirBnB

I’ve done my fair share of AirBnb livin’ this last year with all of my various trips.  Over the course of the year, I stayed in an AirBnb in Alicante, Budapest, Vienna, Prague, and Paris.  I think the concept of AirBnb is absolutely brilliant.  What other time in my life will I be able to stay in a (questionably clean, but) adorable little studio apartment in a hoppin’ part of Paris?  Or a large and in charge apartment right on the beach in Alicante?  Or when will I stay in a beautifully renovated hotel-like studio in the heart of Budapest?  Probably never, is the answer to all of those, but with AirBnb, it’s possible- even just for a weekend.airbnbPicMonkey Collage

I have stayed in apartments that were absolutely beautiful, clean, and right in the center, and have stayed in places that aren’t quite that clean, you run into some difficulties, or find out that the host lives there too.

I’ve been around the AirBnb block, so to speak, so I want to share my on-going list of things that I always bring to an AirBnb (really!  I keep a note in my phone!)airbnb2PicMonkey Collage

  • 1 // Bath towels and a hand towel // You never know if they will provide it (or if it will be clean!)
  • 2 // Coffee and a mini espresso maker if you have it // (How many times have I bought a new bag of coffee?)
  • 3 // Mini jelly packs  // So you don’t need to buy an entire jar of jelly for your bread and espresso in the morning
  • 4 // Mini olive oil and vinegar packs  // Sometimes there is no oil for cooking and you don’t want to buy a new one.
  • 5 // Directions on how to get there from the train station, airport, etc. // You may not have internet to look this up later.
  • 6 // Confirmation page with host contact information  // So you can contact them in the case that you are running late, etc.

Questions to always ask a host prior to the trip:

  • 1 // Do you live in the flat?  You should ask this even if the flat is listed as “entire home”.  I stayed in a flat and the host lived there.  It’s not bad,  but definitely not what I had anticipated.
  • 2 // Are towels provided?  And how many?  If you can swing it, it’s better to bring your own because hosts tend to leave their ratiest, nastiest towels for their lovely guests.
  • 3 // How do I get to your apartment from the train, etc?  Ask for exact directions and clarify anything you don’t understand, especially if you won’t have access to internet.
  • 4 // What time is check out?  Can I check out late?  What time?  Ask this in advance of the day you plan to leave so that the host can make arrangements.  I had a maid open the door when I was still asleep…
  • 5 // Can I leave my bags in the flat on my last day?  Usually, hosts are more than accommodating and will allow you to leave bags on your last day while you go out and about exploring.
  • 6 // Where are the closest supermarkets, attractions, etc.  I always like to get the hosts recommendations, since this is their home, afterall.  Think of them as your personal concierge.

Overall, my experience with AirBnb has been great.  I know it can be more inconvenient than a hotel in terms of getting keys, checking in and out, etc, since you have to do some coordinating.  But on the flipside, once everything is settled, it’s so nice to have your own space– a place to make your coffee, throw your suitcase, and do whatever you want.  It’s like being home for a weekend, instead of a cramped hotel room.

Bagels, Beaches, and Birthdays (and More!)

I can’t believe I’m 25 years old!  25 sounds so…old!…so much older than 24.  25 sounds like an age that someone should have their life together.  Lo and behold, I…do not.  But I am happy and enjoying my life, so that’s something!  IMG_6116

For this birthday, I am at the beach with my parents and the rest of the folks in the share house.DSC_0080All I wanted for my birthday was that photo, haha.  And I got it!

IMG_6141 IMG_6139DSC_0086

And with the two that made this day possible…IMG_6133 IMG_6117

My birthday began with bagels…IMG_6078 IMG_6196

Which are the most delicious cranberry-orange and blueberry bagels (from a place in Ventnor…so good!!).

And then I went walking on this gloomy day…IMG_6090

Which actually ended up being BEAUTIFUL!IMG_6180 IMG_6165 IMG_6183

Finally, the day ended with a really great BBQ for Labor Day.IMG_6100

And decorations!DSC_0064

And a delicious chocolate cake!DSC_0082

It was a low-key birthday, but I wouldn’t change it for anything.  And there will be more fun later this week 😉

Thank you to everyone that took the time to wish me a happy birthday or helped make the day special.  You are all so important to me!

25 Things to Do in My 25th Year.

Hi!  And happy 25th birthday to ME!birthday

^^This is 25 🙂

This is the year of my quarter-life crisis, but maybe I’ve already had my quarter-life crisis and it won’t happen.  Orrr maybe I’ll dye my hair or get a big tattoo on my neck (quarter life crisis things)  Here’s to hoping!

Here are 25 things I want to do / eat / see / etc. in my 25th year of life! (in no particular order)

  1. Travel to at least 3 new countries (Italy, Switzerland, Ireland, Greece…).
  2. Eat a Philly cheese steak.
  3. Put money into my IRA .
  4. Actually invest that money.
  5. Make homemade cheese.
  6. Make homemade yogurt.
  7. Go hiking in Spain.
  8. Make one of those indulgent desserts I see on Facebook and share it with friends.
  9. Ride a motorcycle (!!!).
  10. Ride a jetski.
  11. Donate money to a charity.
  12. Learn to meditate and actually do it occasionally.
  13. See a movie in a movie theater.
  14. Run a half marathon.
  15. Make someone’s day.
  16. Feel really fluent in Spanish.
  17. Practice salsa and bachata.
  18. Get a massage.
  19. Volunteer some time.
  20. Learn a new skill.
  21. Walk 35,000 steps one day (via Fitbit).
  22. Host a dinner at my house.
  23. Get my Spanish citizenship.
  24. Floss more often…
  25. Keep being happy!

A huge thank you to everyone who has made the last 25 years as wonderful (and possible) as they have been.  Here’s to 75 MORE!