Five Things To Do in Florence

I recently went on a trip to Florence with my husband and it was great. Sunny weather, lots of pasta, old bridges and mountains of leather goods.

Although a small and walkable city, there are lots to do which is great but it can also be overwhelming. If you’re looking to travel on a budget, trying to do all of the activities that are available to you is expensive. I’ve decided to narrow down my experiences in Florence to the top five things I enjoyed and would recommend for you to do when you arrive in Florence.

Shopping in Central Market

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It can be a bit much because every time you look at a stall in the market, a vendor is trying to convince you to buy from him but it’s quite a spectacular place. You can find a ton of leather goods like wallets, bags, belts, jackets and more. It smells fantastic (if you like the smell of fresh leather) and it’s super colorful. It’s also free to wander so it’s budget friendly.

There’s also an indoor market right next door where you can buy more trinket or some food.

Tour the Piazza del Duomo

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The Piazza del Duomo is the Cathedral Square located in the historic old center of the city. The building in the center is extraordinary. While on vacation, we didn’t actually go inside of the cathedral as you need to book in advance and lines in August are no joke (even the people with tickets had to wait outside on a long line in the hot Tuscan sun).

One of my favorite experiences near the piazza was a panini shop called Panini Tuscana. It wasn’t just a sandwich spot, it was fun and tasty to way to immerse yourself into a stereotypical Italian adventure (friendly locals breaking bread and slicing up fresh cheese).

Stroll on Ponte Vecchio

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Called the Ponte Vecchio (old bridge), it’s one of the most touristy bridges in Florence. This means lots of foreign people around so keep your wits about you as you could be the target of a pickpocket. I say that to make sure you’re aware of your surroundings, as you can easily get swept up in the magic along the bridge, but it is pretty safe.

There are lots of jewelry shops filled with diamonds, gold necklaces and other fancy trinkets that make you wish you had more money. Other than jewels that will dazzle, the views from the bridge are pretty awesome as well. Stroll along looking for the perfect spot to take in the sunset and admire the colors, the sounds and the vibe. Another plus, this must see is completely free so don’t worry about spending money (unless you’re tempted by the gelato shops at the end of the bridge).

Panoramic views at Piazzale Michaelangelo

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You can walk it but if you’re walking in August, make sure you have a big bottle of cold water.

We walked to Piazzale Michaelangelo to take in a panoramic view of Florence. Once at the top, you’ll find many other on-lookers trying to capture the beauty that in front of you.

And if you’re looking to get a souvenir of the moment (that isn’t a photo), there are a variety of vendors selling scarves, Florence memorabilia, lemoncello, food and alcoholic drinks around the piazzale.

Wander Boboli Gardens

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Florence has A LOT of museums and that can really add up. I admit that we didn’t go to many museums but we did pay to go to the gardens.

It’s a huge mass of land that offers a variety of views and loads of places to sit down and have a bit lunch while surrounded by manicured greenery and distinct buildings. You can literally spend a couple of hours in the garden, wandering through small exhibits and palaces or taking in the atmosphere to do a beautiful sketch. To me, this makes the price of the ticket totally worth it as there’s so much to cover and many places where you can get lost or away from the other tourists.

6 Low Key Things To Do In Lisbon

Spoiler alert, I went to Lisbon Portugal and had an amazing time!

This was one of those trips where I didn’t plan much aside from where we were going to stay and how I was going to get from point A to point B. Other than that, I arrived in Lisbon with a clear state of mind and had absolutely no expectations as to what I should see and do. I usually have a mental list or notes on my phone of food I want to eat, monuments I should see and experiences to try but it just didn’t happen here. For this trip I thought what was best was to plan nothing and embrace everything. And being honest, my mind was distracted with work up until that point.

To embrace all that comes your way in Lisbon and to give you a head start on doing nothing but still having a great time, I’m sharing six things I highly recommend that will leave a sweet spot in your heart for Lisbon. Pocket friendly and cultural, do these things to see what Lisbon has to offer (and it works just as well if you’re short on time in the city)!

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Breakfast at the Brunch Cafe

My husband arrived in Lisbon late on a Saturday night. Deciding to just cosy up at our airbnb for the night, we made a decision to taste some of the food that Lisbon had to offer the very next morning. Enter the Brunch Cafe.

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I’ve never had breakfast or brunch that took up the entire table. I felt like a glutton but was also very pleased.

Now if you’re going to this cafe on a Sunday, please do make reservations because everyone and there mom will be there and you’re likely to find a line. This happened to me so we made reservations for the next morning (Monday) and rolled up to find the place was not as booming (no lines). Any who, once you get in you enter a small but cute space with over 10 different brunch items on the menu. Choose from pancakes or classic bacon and eggs – it’s all there!

A great way to start your morning tour of Lisbon, we paid 12 euros per person for two drinks (hot and cold) plus all you see at the table in the photo! The vibe is also super relaxed. No one is rushing you out the door and the staff are very friendly and patient.

Look at all the Street Art

Nothing screams chilled that free art. Especially street art. If you like browsing the streets of Bushwick in Brooklyn, NY or Shoreditch in London, UK, Lisbon is your place to see a new style.

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If you love color, you’ll love Lisbon!

A great activity to do after eating a large breakfast, literally every corner in Lisbon has something interesting to look at. Make sure you bring your walking shoes because you will be climbing up the city hills and admiring all that is before you because there is a lot. For instance if one corner you might find art that you feel belongs in a museum and on another you’ll find something that reminds you of a beautiful comic book that speaks to your being (or whatever art critic you may be harboring). Various colors, drawing style, patterns and more are all over the city. What I love about this activity is that it’s free and you can stumble across many other parts of the city without using a map. Just follow what delights your eyes and I’m sure a cool cafe or trendy shop will lure you in.

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Bifana and Vhino Verde Break

After you’ve had a chance to view some cool art (and take photos of it for Instagram of course), what you should do next is head to the Bifanaria Lisboa because you will have renewed your appetite.

I’m not a Bifana expert but I will say that although it looks like a tourist trap, this place is pretty nice. The upstairs seating is well decorated and the price of the Bifana (a pork sandwich that can include cheese or chips) is not too bad. It isn’t hugely filling but it is a nice snack that will definitely top you up after you’ve burnt some energy looking at all that art.

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The atmosphere is very relaxed and the food is tasty. I had a Bifana with chips and a glass of some Portugese wine (vhino verde) which was really yum. Take a chance to chill out with some bubbly wine and just people watch from the window upstairs. I really liked this place as it was an unexpected cosy spot. You could catch your breath, plan your next move, or just sit there editing your photos to make people jealous of your vacation.

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Walk the Tram 28 Route

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I found out about the famous tram 28 while in Lisbon and was tempted to go on a ride. But then I looked it up online. It’s the opposite of chill. It’s so touristy in fact that you have to wait two hours online to buy a ticket and once you get on, you end up packed inside a local cuisine favorite (a sardine).

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People love it because it takes you past all the bits of Lisbon city center that you hear about in the guide books but honestly, walking along the route is better. You see more and you get more space and autonomy. Also, if you are desperate for a tram ride, there are other ones that you can get on and they wont be as packed. I’m all for not being stuck in a commuter ride situation where you’re smelling someone’s armpit (not on vacation anyway).

Ride the Metro

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At this point (if you’re doing this all step by step), you’re feet will be hurting so I recommend you give them a break by heading to the metro. I feel like riding the public transport is a great way to get an idea of the kinds of people that inhabit a city. You see who they are, how they interact, how clean the metro is (or maybe not), how it’s designed, etc. For a very curious person, this a great thing to do. It’s also pretty cheap so that can’t do you any wrong.

The metro in Lisbon is also very cool. Aside from the culture, you can see that the art extends from the city walls to the underground. Some cars have graffiti on them, others have colorful chairs and some stations have really unique facades.

Jump off at the Botanical Gardens

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Not pricey and very peaceful, the botanical gardens is a nice place to visit. I went on a Monday and the vibe was very chill. Stroll through the gardens and look at all the flowers and trees around you. Sit down at one of the many benches and do a sketch, listen to music or even journal. My husband and I did this (he sketched and I journaled). It was a great way to take in everything while also letting out some emotions all while on vacation.

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The gardens are also a wonderful backdrop to take photos. I certainly had my husband take quite a few of me because I’m always hungry for content ideas even if I don’t have a particular idea nailed down. It’s fun to just figure things out on the fly.

So there you have it! Those are my ideas to enjoy Lisbon while on a budget and without too much fuss. The people that know me know I like to enjoy and indulge but I also dislike the extra commotion that can sometimes occur when you travel. If you’re like me then these tips will certainly make your time in Lisbon even better.

Have you been to any of these places? Have you been to Lisbon? What’s the most chill or most low key thing you’ve done there but still had a lot of fun doing?  Let me know!

 

Coffee With A View in Silves, Portugal

I’ve never once claimed to be a coffee connoisseur. In fact, those who know me, know I only tolerate coffee that’s flavored or topped with whipped cream. I can’t even handle a cup that tastes like there is too much caffeine in it for fear that my head will explode. Now that I’ve shared these points with you up front, I can get into my post about coffee in Silves.

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Bird song, colorful buildings, cheerfully pink blossoms, the sound of water rushing and the breeze floating through the air paint a gorgeous picture in Silves.

Stroll past the museum and you’ll find the cutest courtyard before your eyes. Pastel pinks mixed with rustic tan, chirping birds, deliciously scented pink flowers. It all awaits. Follow the staircase down into it and to your right, you’ll find Cafe DaRosa.

The aesthetic is very cool and charming. Actually, I found it to be quite French with the blues and whites. Everything was beautiful. A bit hungry and always thirsty (I’ve found Portugal a place that never quenches my thirst), we grabbed a seat on the outside of the cafe as most places in Silves (and Portugal) appear to be a seat yourself sort of atmosphere. I then took it upon myself to run inside for the detail of it all.

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This blue and white tile work is very much part of the Portugal aesthetic. I went to a tile museum where I saw handcrafted bits like these, using blue and white for the color palette and the work was quite beautiful. For some reason however, I did feel like the tile work and the chairs seemed very French but maybe that’s just because I’m in a European place.

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The chairs were too cute. 10 points for ambience no?

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And these little bottles of liquor had a very Alice in Wonderland feel. I’m not sure what purpose they served aside from looking cute but I’m sure they’re probably used to make coffee drinks a bit more potent.

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Lots of biscotti type cookies in jars. If you like biscotti (I’m not the hugest fan), then this is your spot.

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But the main attraction to me was the pastry counter. Would they have the coveted pastel de nata that I so deeply desired? Of course they did as we’re in Portugal. They also had a variety of other tarts that tempted me but I resisted. By the way, how many pastel de natas are too much for one sitting? Three? Eight?

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We ordered and I opted for a pastel de nata with a mocha coffee and my husband went for the espresso (he’s lactose intolerant which can limit things) and a bean tart.  Both items were tasty but being honest, the best pastel I’ve had so far was in Lisbon from a bakery outside of the botanical gardens. This one was a solid but comes in last place out of the three places I’ve tried a pastel de nata. My husband did love his bean tart though. Also, my mocha was like any other mocha. Nothing to write home about but it was good.

So what do I think of Cafe DaRosa? Its atmosphere is amazing. Tres chic and tres cool. The food, it’s decent. Nothing amazing but it’s good and the price wasn’t too bad (6 euros in total).  So if you find yourself in Silves, definitely stop by for the atmosphere and a little treat but if you’re looking for mind blowing food, you could try another spot.

5 Charming Things To Do In London This Winter

I know it’s only October but the holidays, and Winter, are on the horizon. This means that travelers dreaming of the twinkling lights and old charm of London and Europe are going to go in search of this magic. But what do you do when you’ve arrived in London to find that your ideal holiday abroad is overrun with tourists? I’m sharing five amazing things to do in London that are oh so charming and guaranteed to leave you feeling like your Christmas or Winter in London is everything and more!

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credit: World Wandernista

Twinkling Lights

One of the things travelers come to London to see in the Winter are the famous lights over Oxford street. Walk down the street lined with some of the most quintessential London shops (i.e Selfridges and Topshop) to find a gorgeous display of lights all around you. Be forewarned that there will be many, many tourists in the area doing holiday shopping so casual strolling may not be ideal here but you can definitely give it your best shot.

Pro tip – This isn’t the only street in London lined with lights. You can go down many a side streets in this area to find more dazzling light displays down Carnaby street, Chinatown and other parts of Soho.

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credit: Timeout London

Mulled Wine on The Southbank

One of my most favorite activities to do in London during the holiday season is to get a glass of mulled wine and to go on a stroll. It’s romantic (if you’re looking to walk down Southbank with a special someone) and just plain lovely. Why? When the sun has set, you’re walking down a long uninterrupted stretch of land that overlooks the water and is lined with lights and little museums to pop into incase you need respite from the chilly air. There are also loads of little restaurants and stalls that offer heated lamps to sit under and just relax. And the mulled wine – it just warms you up and makes your insides feel like Christmas, ha!

Pro tip – If you keep walking, you’ll run into the Christmas market there or down to Borough market near London Bridge. Lots to buy and taste!

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Ice Skating

A bit pricey but a great buy, ice skating outside Somerset House or the Natural History museum is a great idea to try. Pay for an hour long skating session and listen to pop music and holiday tunes as you glide across the rink. There will be people of all skill levels out there so be prepared for a skater or two to blow past you or a few more falling in front of you. Wear your warmest gear though because it can get pretty chilly.

Pro tip – Some rinks offer added buys on your ticket like a glass of mulled wine or something fun to enjoy after/before your skating session. I’d personally skip it unless your dying to try their cuisine. You can find something cheaper not too far away from the rink.

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credit: Getty Images

Christmas Fair in Hyde Park

Admittedly, I have yet to do this because my time in London has yet to overlap with this particular event but I’ve heard first hand that this can be a lot of fun. Pricey? Most likely but you can only spend on the things you want to do. The Christmas fair in Hyde Park is just what it sounds like, a fair with games, rides and prizes. Bask in the holiday cheer and go on a ride or two in one of London’s most well known parks.

Head To The Market

Now this one is out of the box but I honestly think it’s one of the most cost effective ideas out there. London has some great treats and tastes to try during the holiday season so why not head to the market to create your own goodie bag? Go to Waitrose, Sainsbury or another chain and pick up some Christmas crackers, mince pies, holiday chocolates and more. Not only do they make great treats for you, they will also be magical stocking stuffers or gifts for friends and family back home!

So there you have it! Those are my holiday winter travel ideas for anyone heading to London these next couple of months into the new year. London is magical on it’s own but if you check out any items on my list, I’m sure your experience will be even better! Let me know if you’ve done any of these or if you plan to!

Good Eats: Cuba NYC Lunch Review

Summer is on the way out and Fall is in. This means big tops and jackets to conceal food babies that are destined to grow this season! One way I recommend feeding your food baby while in NYC is heading to this amazing Cuban spot in the west village called Cuba NYC. I recently had a wedding lunch at the location and went back there with my hubby for a second helping because it was freaking delicious!

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On our second trip to Cuba NYC, it just so happened to be brunch and we discovered that they served bottomless drinks. We thought about indulging but my hubby had a flight to catch and we were really only there for the food and perhaps one drink. With that in mind, we ordered a drink each (a mojito and a white sangria) and moved onto the starter.

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A seafood ceviche was calling us. When it arrived, it came in what appeared to be a bottomless goblet and was filled with shrimp, calamari and scallops in a tasty tangy sauce. It also had fresh plain plantain chips on the side for dipping! To tell you that this would turn any anti-ceviche person into a lover would be an understatement. The sauce had a tang to it but it was overpowering. The seafood was crisp and cool. Every bit of this dish tasted so fresh. I could barely stop myself from going ham after all, this was only our starter. The main dish would soon be on the way and from our prior experience, the plate is hefty!

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Next came the main dish. We both opted for pork but it was prepared in two different ways. I had the shredded pork (pictured in the front) with yuca and black rice. Everything was succulent, hot and just bursting with spices (especially garlic). The yuca was lovely and complimented the pork so well. I definitely need to learn how to make this myself but I’m telling you, it was the absolute best!

My husband ordered pork cubes with roasted potatoes and black rice. He gave me a bite of his and I also think it was pretty fantastic. It was a different taste to the shredded pork as I believe my dish was more fatty. His was a bit leaner and had a sweeter sauce drizzled on the meat. It was a delicious taste and pretty hearty. I honestly don’t think you could have gone wrong with either dish but my shredded pork was the bomb!

As for ambiance, the place looks very unassuming from the outside but it’s worth popping in. It’s small but well kept and the servers are pretty nice and attentive. It also has some fun Cuban decor in the space and plays Spanish music in the background. It’s not too loud but you can definitely groove while eating. The price? It isn’t too bad considering west village eateries. I think we paid around $80 with tax and tip (two drinks, a starter, two entrees and a coffee). Considering the portions and the overall flavors, it’s definitely a nice little mini splurge.

Would you pay that much for it? Have you ever been? Let me know! I’m sure I’ll head back there for a third time. 🙂

Summer Eats: The Mac Factory in London

You don’t necessarily think of macaroni and cheese when you think of summer eats. At least I don’t. Summer foods to me are like fruit salads, bbq, fish, chicken salads and quinoa. Basically, light and easy foods that leave you feeling solid and heavy in the humidity. However, I’m a macaroni and cheese girl so when I heard about The Mac Factory in London, I had to try.

The Mac Factory is a NY inspired macaroni and cheese joint that serves up traditional mac and cheese as well as fun twists on what one would come to expect in their bowl (think Italian and Mexican flavors). There are two locations, one is near Euston station in London and the other, you can find a stall in Camden Market. I went to the Camden Market location.

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The stall is quite small but when you arrive you can see the macaroni and cheese mixture being churned and made ever more cheesy. You also will find tempting flavors displayed on menu board that might sway you from getting what you originally planned on trying. But not to worry, you can only really order mac and cheese so you will leave with that, it just might be a different flavor. You can order what they call garlic dough balls (but any NYer knows those are just garlic knots) as part of their meal deal (£10 for any mac + dough balls) but I wasn’t there for dough.

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Staring at the menu for what seemed like 10 minutes, I was originally aiming for La Med Babe (basil, pesto, mozzarella and sun-dried tomatoes on mac + cheese) but changed my mind at the last second. I ordered a Super Mario (sautéed mushrooms, garlic and truffle oil). I figured it would be a nice choice and was then presented with a full size cup of mac and cheese (£7 for the Mario).

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Walking around Camden Market, I looked for a place to settle down and enjoy my mac and cheese. All of The Mac Factory’s mac and cheese are topped with bread crumbs so mine was no different. The first bite was crunchy with the taste of mushroom and something else. I loved the texture but I must admit that I wan’t blown away by the flavor. Don’t get me wrong, it was nice and I definitely found it palatable but it wasn’t worth much. It wasn’t super cheesy and it just didn’t have me licking the spoon or scraping the bottom of my cup to get the last remnants.

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My problem with it truly was that I feel like I can make better mac and cheese. I like my mac and cheese with a nice cheesy sauce, not overdosed so I’m on the toilet but tasty enough to really get that cheddar flavor. Maybe that makes me sound like a foodie but I’m not one, not really.haha So yeah, I found the mac + cheese to be nice but nothing to write home about. Actually, I feel like you’d have better luck making your own mac + cheese and I definitely wouldn’t go there is you are a macaroni lover. If you’re a basic mac+ cheese b***h, it will do but I’m not basic enough for it.haha

It sounds like I’m trashing it but I’m not. It’s cool if you don’t get macaroni and cheese often and definitely has a decent taste but it isn’t the best thing I’ve ever had. Should you go? Sure, but don’t expect to be blown away.

Have you been to The Mac Factory? Are you a mac and cheese head? What did you think of it? Would you go?

 

 

Summer Eats: Soft Serve Society Ice Cream Review

While trekking through Shoreditch one day last week, I happened to find myself back at the Boxpark. Known for selling delicious treats in Shoreditch, I decided to treat myself that hot summer day to an ice cream. But it wasn’t any old ice cream.

Soft Serve Society has been on my list for a bit because I do enjoy ice cream and I came across a mesmerizing photo of a black cone with what looked a delicious flavor of salted caramel ice cream. I wanted to try it but the last time I was in the mood for a treat and was in that area, I went for a bubble waffle wrap filled with strawberries and cream. That day I was craving a sweet treat however, was my moment to give this soft serve place a try.

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They have flavors (no U please) like vanilla, charcoal coconut, the ever trendy matcha and mango. If you want, you can get a “scoop” on a cone or in a cup and they have a variety of toppings including, sweet sauces, candy, cookies, etc. When I arrived, I was overwhelmed by the sundaes list. All of the sweet soft serve creations sounded sooo good but I went for something called The Cloud 9.

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What’s in The Cloud 9? It’s vanilla soft serve with strawberry sauce, two strawberry pocky sticks, strawberry crunchy candy, popping candy and a giant dab of cotton candy (all in a cup). I knew there was gonna be cotton candy but I thought it’d be a small puff, not an actual cotton candy carnival size piece. It was overwhelming, which made eating the ice cream itself, a messy challenge.

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For perspective, you can see how big the cotton candy is in relation to the cup and my hand. To eat it delicately or on the go is a difficult task. You need both hands because the cotton candy sits entirely on the cup and there is no way you can eat it with a bit of ice cream at the same time. Also, be prepared to be stared at because this treat is a spectacle and draws a lot of attention.

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When you do eat it, it’s so sweet. So sweet in fact that I warn all diabetics to stay far far away. But the ice cream, once you get to it, is so delicious. The strawberry flavors are so nice and honestly, I could have done with everything minus the cotton candy. The cotton candy was nice, don’t get me wrong, but it was so much. If I had eaten lunch before this, I may have gotten sick, haha. But I loved the ice cream and made it through all the treats which complemented the soft serve very well.

Would I go back there? Heck yes! So should you? I think so if you’re in Shoreditch and you’re craving ice cream or it’s a hot day. Very tasty and I definitely didn’t regret it. Next time I may get a scoop instead of a sundae but it is something you won’t feel bad about spending money on.

When Travel Stops Being Fun

Have you ever been on your dream vacation but felt off? Like something didn’t feel quite right? Or despite the fact that you were on a trip of a lifetime, you felt miserable. As someone who has travelled quite a bit, I can say that it happens to everyone. It doesn’t mean something is wrong with you or that you’re ungrateful; travel can be A LOT.

For instance, one summer I went to Mallorca, Spain for the first time. I was traveling on my own and decided to splurge on a stay at a relatively nice hotel instead of hostel. The hotel accommodated my later than expected check in, had free breakfast and great WiFi. The trip was pretty awesome until the last day, when I felt itchy. I thought I was just itchy because of the summer bugs but later discovered that the true culprit of my feelings were BED BUGS. Freaking Bed Bugs!! It totally tainted my trip in a less than exceptional light. I was fortunate however to have this negative experience occur at the very end of my holiday to Spain but it did make me feel like “Why did I even bother coming here?”

There was another trip to Marrakech where it began with my phone provider sending me warnings of getting a $800 bill after turning my phone on once I landed in the city. There was also a local scammer walking us to our hostel for 5 mins and getting 5 euros from me (like $10 USD). Later in the day, we ventured out to explore and locals shouted at us and telling us “go here and there because we know where you want to be”, it was overwhelming. To say that I felt that Marrakech lost some of it’s shine on the first day was an understatement. I wasn’t feeling the trip at that moment but that was ok. Traveling is not always fun and it’s perfectly human to have a reaction while on vacation. You don’t need to have every moment be Instagram worthy because life is messy, and that includes travel.

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Why can travel lose it’s luster? I think one of the reasons is the travel industry. The current problem with the industry is the idea of a uniform travel experience or expectation. Traveling seems to always be presented as this pristine, perfect picture with hardly any rough edges. When you see Instagram photos from a specific island or a video about a booming city, you expect to receive a nearly similar experience to the one being shown to you. There’s nothing wrong with showing the highlights but I find people often forget that’s what they are being bombarded with, highlights. That doesn’t work. At least not in my eyes because people interpret things differently. What might be a highlight for you could be an annoyance to someone else.

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Every person is individual and every day is slightly different. Some woman could have went to the hotel I stayed in Mallorca and a had fabulous bed bug free time just because she came at a different point in the year. Another person would have never had to deal with a pushy local if they had already arranged airport pickup and drop off. Different circumstances lead to different results. Unrealistic expectations can lead to bad travels.

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An oasis but you probably can’t tell it was pretty darn cold in this picture.

But that’s not the only way a trip can go sour. You can have a bad time not because of  lofty travel expectations from influencers and tourism boards but just because of sheer dumb luck. Your luggage might get lost. You might have your credit card stolen. You may have gotten food poisoning. All of those things can lead to a bad trip and all of those things are out of your control. What is in your control is how you respond.

Little things happen which can really get you down but think of it this way, when you spend your money and take time off work to go on a trip, do you want to spend it wallowing and complaining? No. So you need to change your outlook. You can acknowledge the suckiness of whatever has just went down but then you need to keep it moving. Sort it out and look for the positives.

When the scammers scammed us in Marrakech, we said it sucked but then we made sure to be extra vigilant and to stay clear of any more of those characters. When it started raining on my trip to Manchester, I changed my itinerary and found some fun inside activities to do and saw the monuments during the light drizzle. It sounds simple but that’s because it’s all you need to do to turn around your travel frustrations. Look for things that make you happy at your destination or remind yourself why you wanted to go there to begin with!

Do you find yourself finding travel frustrating or not fun at times? Let me know!

 

 

Summer Eats: Get All Your Favorite Flavors At Boxpark Croydon

Everyone wants a summer body but let’s be real, summer cookouts and open air eating is what we live for, especially affordable eats. Just outside central London, you’ll find Boxpark Croydon which ticks all of these requirements and some. There’s a variety of cuisines and meal deals that will guarantee that the pickiest eater will find something to enjoy without paying too much. Pizza, burgers, pho, falafel, it’s all there. For a preview of everything you can expect to eat/find, keep reading!

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Right off of the East Croydon train station is the Boxpark. A large structure with outdoor feel, sit down at one of the many benches and soak in the sun. The place has large windows across the ceiling that lets in a lot of natural light but it’s still sheltered in case you run into a rainy or windy day. Walk down the steps and be greeted by what seems like endless food stalls.

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One of my favorite places to go (I have meals there too many times) is Thai Express. I’ve been feeling a true Thai food vibe, so seeing this spot at Boxpark brings me joy as it offers up some really good Thai with huge portions!

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A few steps away is Arancina Pizzeria where you can find a pizza slice (or, as close to a NY slice of pizza in London anyways). Thin crust pizza with a tasty sauce and delicious flavors, grab a slice and a drink for lunch. They do sell arancina but my tastebuds don’t think they’re worth the cash. I know I was spoiled by real ones in Sicily but these, they are a total and utter letdown.

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Across the way you’ll find indian cuisine, Lebanese food, Jamaican dishes and a place called Chicago Ribshack. If you have a craving for BBQ, come here for some baby back ribs or even pick up a milkshake. Again, endless options!

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On the second level, you’ll find bigger restaurants or food stalls with their own private seating (as opposed to Boxparks’ communal layout). The first restaurant I frequent is Chilango. It’s probably the only decent Mexican place in London that I’ve come across. Get their burrito combo with a free lemonade (and it’s actual American lemonade, not Sprite). I truly enjoy the food here so it’s a definite must.

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Similar to Chicago Ribshack but a bit bigger in scale is Meat Liquor on the second floor. Again, it has it’s own seating but the food is very much what you’d picture yourself eating at an American summer BBQ. Grab burgers, shakes and other grilled meats.

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But wait, there’s more. On the outside of Boxpark, that are more stalls. Asian themed places (bubble tea anyone?), Greek places, vegan kitchens and even a fry hut (loaded fries loaded in multiple ways)! One place that is super trendy and is almost guaranteed to have a line at it’s Soho location is The Breakfast Club. Choose from a traditional english breakfast, an american breakfast or some other spin. Though I don’t think the english truly know how to cook an american breakfast so I’d just order another option, haha.

Down below there are a few more options including a bar and a small area in the back where you can dance and drink. I like to call it a mini club. So yes to Boxpark Croydon! It’s everything you could imagine and more when it comes to summer eats. Stop by and give it a try! Are you curious to visit or have you already been? Let me know below!