Finding Time to Travel

Life can get in the way of travel and other adventures. There is work, school, kids, and anything else you can think of. In college, I felt like I had more time to travel because of holiday breaks. Also, in college you can study abroad or get an internship abroad. However, in the United States you rarely get holiday breaks and there is no study abroad. There is some jobs that can transfer you, if you are interested in moving. Not all jobs have transfers and traveling for work conferences is not really a vacation.

If your like me, working full-time. Plan your trip, way in advance. Look up your vacation policies before you book your trip. Some jobs offer 2 week paid vacation, upon request. Usually the breaks I have taken to travel internationally have been a little more over a week. I went to Ireland for 9 days and London and Paris for 8 days. They were quick trips but I still enjoyed myself. I usually plan my internationally trips a year to 7 months in advance with a tour group, EF college Break. Tours groups can usually set up your flight and hotel for you. Which really made it easier for me. My trips to the United States travel are usually planned  6 months to 3 months in advance. I recently set up a trip to Denver for June to visit a friend, for 4 days. This gave the time to ask off work, look up flights, and ask my friend if she was available.

When I was working full-time and attending grad school. I had to find time that was good for both work and school. I chose Mid- March to travel to Ireland, It was spring break for school and not a busy time at work. The earlier you plan for your trip the better you can overcome these obstacles. It gives you more time to research the time you have, better plan your trip, and save. Before you book you trip make sure to read about the refund rules for airlines and hotels, if you have to cancel. When I traveled internationally with a tour group, they offered travel insurance. The travel insurance offered cancellation, helped with lost items during your trip, and medical expenses.

If you have a kid, you most likely have to plan a trip that is good for both you and your children. Maybe like a beach trip or visit a place that has theme parks. Also, the same rules apply, you have to find a time that is available for everyone. For example, when the kids are not in school and when you’re not busy at work/school.

I know its difficult to plan trips when your busy but it can happen. Just because you work full-time, have school, kids, or all 3 doesn’t mean you can’t. It just has to be planned in advance. That has helped me and I hope it can do the same for you.

My Texas Bucket list

In honor of Texas Independence day recently, I created a Texas Bucket List. I have lived in Texas all my life and I love it, it’s home. However, there is a lot places in Texas I haven’t visited. Texas is a big state, so it should’t come to a surprise. I’m good with lists and I decided to share my list here, for the blogging world to see. I’m hoping to accomplish this list soon and take a lot pictures. Also, I hope to help tourists or other Texas natives with this Texas Bucket List. This is my list of 10:

  1. Hike Enchanted Rock. Located in Fredericksburg Texas. After, I will reward myself with wine.
  2. Hamilton Pool is located in Dripping Springs. I have been trying to visit this natural pool for years, I will make it happen this summer. Keep in mind, you need to schedule a visit to this beautiful pool on their website.
  3. Visit artsy Marfa Texas. Even though Marfa is in the middle of the desert, they have amazing galleries, boutique shops, and a cosmopolitan dinning scene.
  4. Big Bend National Park
  5. Eat deep fired food at the State Fair of Texas. The fair is located every year around September or October in Dallas Texas.
  6. Swim in the natural-fed spring Krause Spring. It’s located in Spicewood Texas and it’s a family owned property.
  7. Watch a sea turtle hatch in South Padre Island.
  8. See another Texas beach, Port Aransas.
  9. Do a brewery tour for Spoetzl Brewery in Shiner TX. This happens to be the oldest brewery in Texas, stated in 1909.
  10. Finish visiting the mission trails in San Antonio TX.

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Mission Concepcion

I have no idea when I will complete this list but that’s the fun in it. It gives me something to look forward too.  Also, I would live to see y’all s state lists!

 

Saving for Travel

Money is usually an issue when it comes to traveling. At least for me anyways. I remember in college, I wanted to travel internationally but never made the effort because of money. It always stopped me, money was always my excuse. It wasn’t until after college that I realized if I don’t start traveling internationally now, then when will I? That’ s when I booked my trip to Ireland and I don’t regret one cent. What helped me save was being able to set up my payments in payment plans. I booked my trip with a tour group and they gave me the opportunity to make payment plans. Basically, I made a payment each month, until 99 days before my trip. Also, the earlier you book your trip the less your payments each month will be. The tour group included the flight, hotel, tour guides and other options. This made it easier for me to budget and live worry free.

A tour group is a wise choice if it’s your first time traveling or if your traveling alone. The group I went with, EF College Break gave us a schedule of things to do and plenty of free time. Other travel groups I have heard of are Contiki, Gate1, and Go Ahead Tours. These are some options if you’re interested in tour groups. Some tour groups have an age requirements, be sure to be on the look out for that. For example, EF College Break is for people 18-28. I know Go Ahead Tours does not have an age requirement.

For my United State travels, I usually stay with a friend and try to find a cheap flight. I try to fly during a time that’s not a busy travel month. For example, September or  February. These two things have given me the opportunity to travel and to get to experience a local view of the city I am visiting. If I can’t stay with a friend, I try to get a group of friends to go with me on the trip to save on a room. Not only will I be spending the trip with my friends but I will be saving too. Also, when you buy your flight tickets try to avoid coming back on a weekend. Usually, its cheaper to leave on a Tuesday then Sunday.

These things have helped me travel in the past. Both international travel and United States travel. I hope these money plans can help you as well. In the future, I want to learn more about setting up my own international flight. I want to experience being in another country for 2 weeks and backpack. I feel this will help me learn more about myself and the country I am in.

 

New Orleans Favorites

I have been to New Orleans four times. The first time was in March of 2004. I was able to see the St. Patrick’s parade and visit a bit of the shops. The second time I went was during Halloween 2014 for a friend’s bachelorette party. I felt like I experienced more of New Orleans my second time. The third time, I went to Jazz fest with my boyfriend. My final time was this past January. It was freezing but I still had a blast. New Orleans is fun and a cultured city. I love the food, the art, and the traditions. Since, I have been to New Orleans a couple of times, I wanted to talk about my favorite things about the city.

My favorites of New Orleans:

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Coffee

Spitefire Coffee opened in 2013 as the first specialty coffee shops in New Orleans. I had their vanilla latte and it was delicious. I definitely went back this past January.

Restaurants:

Brunch

Ruby Red Slipper is great for breakfast, brunch, or lunch. The food is delicious and they have a variety of breakfast cocktails.

Lunch

Port of Call has great burgers. Instead of offering fries for a side they offer a baked potato. Believe me, the baked potato is delicious. You wont even miss the fries.

Dinner

K-Paul’s is known for blackened red fish. The chef Paul Prudhomme introduced blackened food and turducken. He popularized Cajun cuisine. Obviously, this place is a must try.

Dessert

Cafe du Monde is a must try for beignets, coffee, or hot chocolate. It is a touristy place and will mostly likely be packed but it’s open 24 hours. I usually go after midnight, when there is fewer people.

 

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Cafe Du Monde. Beignets  & Hot Chocolate

Park

Jackson Square is a must see. It is a historic park in the French Quarter of New Orleans. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1960. The park has a Jackson statue at the center and the Saint Louis Cathedral is located there. Jackson Square is beautiful and I try to stop by every-time I am in New Orleans.

Night Life

Bar

Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar is the oldest bar in the United States. It’s also the oldest building in New Orleans.  They have been serving beer and frozen drinks since the 1700’s. It was build during the 1720’s.  This bar is located on Bourbon and Philip street.

Both Bourbon street and Frenchmen are good for bar hopping. Bourbon street is more popular and has a lot more to offer. However, Frenchmen is calmer and offers a different side to New Orleans. I went to Frenchmen for the first time this past January and I fell in love. I was able to see some art, hear some jazz music, and of course visit bars.

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Me on Frenchmen

 

San Diego

My old roommate and close friend, Kanya moved to San Diego recently. I went to visit her with my friend, Carl in March of 2016 for 4 days.

Day 1

We got there on a Saturday afternoon. Kanya lives near downtown San Diego and has a beautiful view of the skyline. After we got settled in, we walked to the Gaslamp Quarter. It’s a district in downtown San Diego. It has restaurants, shopping, and night life. We stopped at a bar called Tipsy Crow to have Cali Creamin beer and grilled cheese. For your information, it was the best grilled cheese I had in my life. At night we had an amazing dinner at Banker’s Hill and I ordered short ribs and a cocktail. It was nice catching up with my friends and being on vacation.

Day 2

For day 2, Cafe 222 was on the list for brunch. I ordered the Peanut butter banana French toast. Bobby Flay said it was the best French toast he ever had. I had to ordered it and it did not disappoint. Since it started to rain, we were only able to drive by Old Town San Diego. A state historic park. When it stopped raining we walked around South Mission Beach. We a took a variety of pictures and I was happy to be at the beach again. The next beach we went to was La Jolla. They both were beautiful beaches but had a different feel to them. La Jolla felt more upscale while south mission beach seemed more casual. For dinner we ate at Lucha Libre Taco shop. The host of Man vs. food, Adam Richman had a meal there. The burrito was delicious and the ambivalence of the restaurant was memorable. We ended the night relaxing at Kanya’s apartment.

Day 3

We went to Hillcrest for brunch, Hillcrest is north of downtown San Diego and is known as San Diego’s LGBT central hub. It has variety of bars, restaurants, coffee houses, and boutiques. The restaurant we went to had a breakfast buffet. I got as much food as I could. After brunch, we walked around Hillcrest and enjoyed the weather. In the afternoon, we went to south park neighborhood for barhopping and beers. The bars in San Diego are so clean, even dive bars. I love it! One of the bars we went to was Hamilton Tavern and they had taps all over the ceiling. It was awesome, it brought more to the bar. We sat at the bar and had our drinks. It felt good to be in San Diego. We reserved a boat ride with Hornblower Cruises & Events to see a view of Harbor view. We sat outside on the boat and we were able to drink beers and see beautiful San Diego. It was of my favorite parts of  the trip. The last night was reserved for Ballast Point Brewery to try the Jalapeno beer. The beer was interesting and I am willing to try it again. Also, dinner and wine in Little Italy. It was memorable to try some Italian wine and have a nice dinner. I was sad it was our last night but was happy to spend it with friends.

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Day 4

Our flight was in the early afternoon. That gave Carl and I plenty of time for breakfast. We had breakfast at Breakfast Republic. They had various of options for pancakes. Yes, pancakes. We each ordered our own meals and shared pancakes. We enjoyed the breakfast and coffee and talked about the trip. After, we took an Uber back to Kanya’s apartment and got ready for our flight. I had a lot fun on the trip and was happy to see my friend’s new home. I plan on going back soon to see Kanya and enjoy more of San Diego.

 

Coffee Shops

I have always had a thing for coffee shops. Even when I wasn’t into coffee. Maybe because I’m a 90’s kid. Who knows? The thing about coffee shops is that they are relaxing. They also remind me about college and being an adult. The good things about being an adult not the bad. For some reason, these coffee shops make me happy. They help me with my work weeks and whenever I have a bad day. I just love to sit, drink my coffee, and think. It relaxes and inspires me. Perfect for journal /blog writing or maybe to catch up with a friend.

I moved to Austin TX about a year and a half ago. Since then, I have tried to visit every local coffee shop in the city. I have not come close to visiting ever coffee shop in Austin. It’s just good to live in a city that has a variety of local coffee shops.  Later, I will make an article of my favorite coffee shops in Austin. Even when I’m in a different city I try to visit a coffee shop. My favorite one in New Orleans is spitfire coffee. I get happy just thinking about that latte.

Yesterday, I got the chance to visit a Japanese coffee shop called Sa-Ten in Austin TX. It was tucked a way in a Austin complex. I think the building it was located use to be a warehouse. Now the building has art galleries and the Sa-Ten coffee shop. The shop was packed and had an artsy feel, it was cute. They even had a vintage-television-turned aquarium. I got in line to order my vanilla latte, my drink of choice. Usually, when I order vanilla lattes, I can’t taste the vanilla.  The vanilla latte at Sa-Ten, I could. It wasn’t a strong flavor but a nice light vanilla flavor. The vanilla did not overpower the coffee at all. The latte was so good, I regretted not ordering the large. My boyfriend ordered a regular latte which he liked as well. If you all are ever in Austin TX, this place is must try. I will definitely be going back.

Whether you’re getting a mocha, a black coffee, or a chai latte. Just remember that coffee shops are there to help us get through the week. To study for that final, catch up with a friend, or to read a good book. For sure, you will find me at coffee shop sipping my vanilla latte and updating my blog.

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Germany

I went to Germany for Octoberfest. When is it a better time to visit than Octoberfest? I was able to visit for 6 days. Again, I went by myself with the tour group, EF College Break. Oktoberfest is 3 weeks. In 2016 it was from September 17th- October 3rd. I choose September 25th to September 30th. EF college had already set everything up for us for the festival. The provided us a tent, food, and two drink tickets. This is set up when you register with them. The first day was spent traveling, it took me 3 hours to get to Philly. And another 6 to Munich.

Day 2

When we first got there, our tour guide took on a walking tour of the Munich Center. The center was modern but kept its old European charm. I got a chance to eat white sausage, a pretzel, and a German beer. Everything was delicious! I even like the mustard that came with the pretzel and I normally don’t like mustard. At the restaurant, I sat outside and looked at Munich Center. This gave me the time to enjoy the Bavarian culture and get to know people in my tour group.  Munich is the capital of  Germany’s Bavarian region and it has strong ties to its folklore traditions. I saw a lot lederhosen there! Especially, since it was Octoberfest month. At night, we were able to attend a local brewery, the original Hofbrauhaus! A lot Germans feel the Hofbrauhaus is too touristy and prefer another brewery’s around Munich. However, I feel like you need to visit at least once. We had some appetizers and of course beer! I ordered a beer with lemonade, it was pretty good. Then after I got a wheat beer.img_0035img_0034

Day 3

We had a guided tour in the old town of Munich. A lot of Germany was bombed in WWII. Munich rebuilt it after the war and decided to keep Munich traditional. While Frankfurt went more modern. The old town was beautiful and I was happy to see parts that were not bombed in Munich. Interesting fact top 3 countries to visit Octoberfest are Italy, Austria, and Australia. From there we went to the Lowenbrau tent for Octoberfest.  People reserve tents months beforehand and I felt fortunate to experience it. I drank my two beers and ate lunch. After I walked around Octoberfest with other members in my tour group. Octoberfest is amazing, all age groups attend because there is something for everyone. I drank at more breweries around the festival and saw people get on rides. There was no way, I could ride rides that day.  As soon as I got back to the hostel, I crashed. Octoberfest got me that day.

Day 4

I attended a museum with 3 other people in my group. We were able to see beautiful art. Unfortunately, since we were short on time we only got to see one museum. After, we headed back to our second day of Octoberfest. That day, I only had one beer and rode the ferries wheel. The ferries wheel is the best way to get a whole view of Octoberfest. Also, That day I was able to buy some souvenirs for my friends and family. I do regret buying some souvenirs at Octoberfest because they’re way more expensive there than any of the shops. When I figured this out, I brought the rest of my gifts elsewhere. After, we rested at the hostel and watched a soccer game at a local restaurant. The game was between Germany and Spain. I feel like soccer isn’t as big in the United States as it is in other countries. I really enjoyed being able to watch soccer like how United States people watch American football. At the restaurant, I ordered a coke beer. It was very difficult to drink because it tastes horrible. Please stay away from this coke cola beer!

Day 5

We had a 2-hour drive to the beautiful Neuschwanstein Castle. It is perched in the foothills of the Alps. I think the architecture was the model for Disney’s sleeping beauty. The castle was home to a crazy king who died mysteriously. The view of the Alps and the castle was absolutely breathtaking! We had to hike to see a tour of the castle. There is a friendly way to get to the castle, however, I took the hiking way. I had no idea there were two ways to get there and regretted this way after. The positive thing was I got a workout. The hike took me to a bridge that had a beautiful of the Neuschwanstein’s Castle. I took pictures and enjoyed the view. The tour inside of the castle was short because the castle was never finished. The king died before it was ever finished. I felt the castle was way ahead of its time. The castle also had beautiful views of the alps. We had some free time before heading back to Munich. We had a meal and tried some delicious donuts. Day 5 was our last day there and we had the farewell dinner at Augustiner. It was my tour guide’s favorite brewery. Both the beer and the meal were delicious. We had an appetizer, entry, and dessert. My trip was short but I was happy to enjoy my time in Germany.

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