Guide to the Golden Circle, Deluxe Edition

What is the Golden Circle?

If you Google “Things to do in Iceland,” the Golden Circle will likely be one of your top hits. The Golden Circle is a trio of sites that can be seen in one day as you drive around in a circle. The three attractions along the Golden Circle are Thingvellir National Park, the Geysir Geothermal Area, and the Gullfoss Waterfalls. The drive takes about 3 hours from Reykjavik!

Our Route

When we sat down to plan our trip around the Golden Circle, we decided to include a few more stops, that tend to be lesser known. Our route included a stop at the Kerid Crater, Faxi Falls and Friðheimar, which is a tomato greenhouse that also has a restaurant inside! If we were going to drive all day, we wanted to get the most bang for our buck! We also had Bruarfoss Waterfalls on our agenda, but the entrance was closed when we got there. Our total driving time was 3 hours and 23 minutes!

Map of Golden Circle route

Kerid Crater

The Kerid Crater was our first stop and probably the most aesthetically pleasing. The red rock contrasted with the turquoise water in an unreal way! The crater was formed from a volcanic eruption 3000 years ago. The water in the lake is pretty shallow, ranging from 7 to 14 meters! At the crater, you can take a walk around the top, then hike down to the bottom! There is an entrance fee of $3.

Kerid Crater
Bottom of Kerid Crater

Faxi Falls

We still had a bit of time before our lunch reservations so we drove over to Faxi Falls. These falls are lesser known, as evidenced by being the only car in the parking lot. There was a $5 entrance, but they do take credit card. The fall is connected to Tungufljót river and is about 80 meters wide and 7 meters tall. If you have the time, I would check it out!

Faxi Falls

Friðheimar

Finally, lunch time! I had been to Friðheimar during my last visit to Iceland with my family and remembered it being delicious. It did not disappoint! Friðheimar is a tomato greenhouse where can you also eat. Greenhouses are common in Iceland, as their weather isn’t very conducive to farming. Here, you can eat their famous tomato soup with fresh baked bread. They also offer tomato adult drinks and desserts, if you dare! The tomato soup buffet was about $20, and included unlimited tomato soup, bread and garnishes (sour cream, fresh basil you clip at the table, cucumber salsa and butter). If you don’t want to spend that much or if you know you only want one bowl, you can also order a single bowl for about $10. After lunch, you can take a stroll around and see the tomato plants they grow!

Sign at Friðheimar farms
Meal at Friðheimar
Tomatos at Friðheimar

Geysir

Next stop is the Geysers! The area has quite a few geysers! Many are dormant but one does go off every 5-10 minutes! In all honesty, this was one of the least exciting stops of the day but it’s still worth a visit! There is a large cafe and gift shop as well if you need a refreshment!

Geysir
Geysir

Gullfoss

Next stop – Gullfoss! Gullfoss means “Golden Falls” and is one of the most iconic waterfalls in Iceland. The water from the falls comes from the glacier Langjökull. There are several viewing points at this stop. You can take the stairs up and see the view from above or you can walk along the path towards the fall! Be prepared to get pretty wet!

Gullfoss Falls
Gullfoss Falls
Gullfoss Falls

Tungufljót

This wasn’t an attraction per se but as we were driving, we saw some cars parked along the side of the road and curiosity made us pull over to see what was happening! Turns out we were driving over the Tungufljót river! This river is full of salmon and trout, and very important to Icelanders for that reason.

Tunguflot

All over Iceland are these beautiful purple flowers. At the river, they were abundant as well! These are actually Alaskan lupine and were brought over to Iceland in 1945 to add nitrogen to the soil!

Alaskan lupine

Thingavellir

Our last stop of the day was Thingavellir Park. To be honest, we were pretty drained by then and didn’t want to continue to walk around so we stopped for a minute to see what it was about and got back in the car to head home. Here is the one photo of the park I got!

Thingavellir Park is a UNESCO site for it’s nature and because it is the site of the oldest parliament in the world! Iceland’s parliament existed here from the 10th to the 18th century!

Thingavellir

Tips

Overall, we had an amazing day. It’s bonkers to think that in just a few hours, you can see so many gorgeous sites! After exploring for the day, here are a few tips I would share:

  • Call ahead and make reservations for Friðheimar! I was lucky enough to be able to make reservations the night before but I know they can get packed!
  • Start early – you’ll want to take advantage of as many sites as you can! Keep in mind that some places have opening hours and some don’t so plan accordingly.
  • Be prepared for a foggy drive! If you need to, slow down while driving. The fog was unlike anything I had ever seen.
  • Use the restroom when you can! Gullfoss and Faxi did not have restrooms available.
  • Bring waterproof shoes to Gullfoss – you don’t want to have to sit in wet shoes for hours after!

Biggest tip though, is to go do the Golden Circle! It will not disappoint!

Melbourne’s Street Art Scene

When I think of Melbourne, I think of street art and coffee. When we visited last summer, it did not disappoint! Today, I want to relive one of the best tours I have ever been on – the Melbourne Street Art Tour! This was a tour that I booked through AirBnB. If you haven’t explored AirBnB’s experiences section – check it out! There are always incredible adventures to be had that are led by locals.

This tour was led by a local artist who worked with Blender Studios in Melbourne. The tour was a few hours long and led us through alleys and streets I never would have known to go down. Not only was the art incredible, but so were the stories that accompanied the art!

The tour began in downtown Melbourne and ended at the Blender Studios, which was a treat in itself. We got a tour of the studio and got to speak to the artists and owners. Not only that but there was complimentary beer, kombucha, and snacks!

Now let’s get into the art!

Hosier Lane

Hosier Lane

We began in legendary Hosier Lane. Hosier Lane is a famous street in Melbourne, known for its ever changing street art. The energy of the area was high and the smell of fresh spray paint was plentiful. Not only was there spray painted art, but there was also object art (not really sure how else to describe it). The artist leading us pointed out the concrete art that lined the streets.

Hosier Lane
Hosier Lane

The creme de la creme of Hosier Street was a piece done by Adnate. This is a 23 meter tall mural of an aboriginal boy. The detail absolutely blew me away.

Hosier Lane

Flinder’s Lane

The tour continued down to Flinder’s Lane, where I got to meet my second Banksy piece. Excited was an understatement.

Banksy on Flinder's Lane
Banksy on Flinder's Lane

There were plenty of other spectacular pieces in the area as well! The first piece stood out because it extended to the floor as well! I loved how whimsical it was. The second one was just really cool looking, IMO. Perhaps it would make for a cool tattoo?

Flinder's Lane
Flinder's Lane

Pesgrave Place

The last stop on the tour before we went to Blender Studios was Pesgrave Place. The art we saw there was unlike any street art I had seen before. Lots of it was 3D and there was a fun section where the art was all under frames, as if it were a museum.

Pesgrave Place
Pesgrave Place

Blender Studios

Last, but not least, was our stop to Blender Studios. By the end of the tour, most of the other participants had left so it was just us and our tour guide. Honestly, this was my favorite part of the tour, and I feel like the others missed out! As I mentioned earlier, they had snacks and drinks. We got to see everyone’s studio and buy pieces from them directly!

Blender Studios
Blender Studios
Blender Studios
Blender Studios

If you couldn’t tell already, I loved this tour! If you have the chance, you should book it. It’s worth every penny and it goes back to local artists! If you’re interested in other posts about street art, check out this one from my trip to New Orleans!

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Uncategorized

2019: A Year in Review

2019 – damn were you a year. Like everyone else on the planet, there were highs and lows and days that just felt fine. 2019 brought me lessons, laughter and my fair share of tears. 2019 brought me travel and adventure with the people I care about. So before 2019 melts into the other years, I want to reflect on what happened and what I learned.

Travel

If you’ve been reading for a while, you probably understand the role that travel plays in my life. It’s always been important to me, but it’s importance grew during my first two years of teaching. I wasn’t able to find much joy in my day to day life, so I escaped by planning trips. Maybe it’s my vice or my coping mechanism, but honestly, I’m okay with that. 2019 was a travel heavy year for me.

In January, my husband and I wrapped up our road trip through Texas, during which we learned that pick-up trucks take a LOT of gas and that creative pursuits are worth spending time on. This year also brought me to New Orleans with one of my best friends, where I saw my first Banksy piece and binge watched too much Yummy Mummies.

Studio Be in New Orleans
Obligatory beignets in New Orleans

I had two trips out to Denver to see another best friend of mine, one of which had me gambling for the first time (I lost a whole $10). The other trip brought me to New Mexico to see the hot air balloon festival, which absolutely blew my mind.

The hot air balloon festival in New Mexico

For spring break, my husband and I ventured to Italy, where we ate some delicious charcuterie boards, but were overall not that impressed. We did get some dope matching tracksuits and made some pasta from scratch though!

Vintage tracksuits, vintage building (!)
Pasta making classes

During the summer, we traveled to Singapore, Korea, Japan, New Zealand and Australia. Of those places, New Zealand is the spot that truly took my breath away. As my husband says, cities are cities are cities. New Zealand, however, had nature that we don’t get to see very often.

The black sand beaches of New Zealand
Marina Sand Bay, Singapore
Kawaii photo in Japan

I rounded out the year with a trip to Spain with my mom. It was great to be able to spend quality time with her, especially as I grow older and life gets busier. While we did get on each others nerves, it was a trip that I will hold dear to my heart.

Mama y yo in Barcelona

Work

2019 was the year that I finished my first year of teaching outside of Teach for America. It was the first year I didn’t hate what I did. When I decided to teach for a third year, I was nervous. What if it wasn’t where I was teaching that I hated, but just teaching in general? Thankfully, I discovered that I love teaching. I love working with kids and seeing their excitement when things click for them. I finally can say that I love what I do. I am so grateful for that – how many people can claim the same for their jobs?

My first day of my fourth year

I was unsure if teaching was the right path for me, so I completed a fellowship on career choice this spring. While a lot of paths seem interesting to me, the fellowship reinforced my decision to stay in the classroom, at least for now. It was great for me to be able to have dedicated time and space to really think out my career plan. To be honest, I don’t have much of a “plan” at the moment. All I know is that I am happy teaching right now, so happy I will remain!

The fellowship I was so damn grateful for

2019 was also the year that I bit the bullet and got my real estate license. My husband had been encouraging me to get it for quite some time, and I finally sat down and did the damn thing. Working with real estate on the side allowed me to work skills that I don’t generally have to work while teaching – like talking to adults! While I didn’t do much with it this year, I look forward to what kind of endeavors it brings in the future.

Relationships

The older I get, the more important quality relationships mean to me. This year, my husband and I celebrate four years of marriage and five years of being together. I would say that this year brought us so much closer to one another, through the hard times and the good times. Leaving 2019, I feel more confident than ever in my relationship with my husband and excited to see what the future holds for us and our growing family.

My incredible husband

In terms of friendship, I invested in the relationships that mean the most to me and drew myself back from those that did not bring me joy. The older I get, the more I realize that one or two solid friendships is all I need. If I’m not truly thrilled for a person when good things happen to them, then I know that I can’t be a true friend to them. 2019 is a year that brought me a tight circle whom I truly trust and care about.

Self-Improvement

I worked on myself a lot this year. For the first time in a long time (maybe ever), I felt comfortable in my skin. I attribute a lot of that to hot yoga. One of my friends convinced me to give it another shot and I fell in love. The fact that in one hour, I can sweat, meditate and grow stronger absolutely amazes me. The funnest aspect of yoga is watching myself improve. To see my body move into positions that it previously couldn’t made me think about how incredible the human body truly is. While I’ve had to take a break from hot yoga during the pregnancy, I am excited to head back in 2020!

My happy place
My form isn’t perfect, but damn was I proud of my body

In 2019, I also invested in my health in other ways. I (very casually) took up meditation and mantras, and found peace and relief through acupuncture. My body and mind had gone through quite a lot this year, and I am grateful that I found coping mechanisms to help me rise above it. Listening to and making music helped put my soul at ease. Books helped me get lost when I needed to escape the most. Writing played a role in my self improvement as well. While few people may read this blog, every time I post, I feel relief. Writing makes me feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I hope to do more of it in 2020.

Cupping therapy

Overall, 2019 has been wonderful to me. I had new experiences, both good and bad. I felt low so that I could feel really high. I surrounded myself with people I love. I became a better version of myself. 2020 has a lot of changes in store for me (cough motherhood cough) and I’m excited for it all. But for now, I pay respect to what 2019 brought me. Cheers to 2019, and to 2020 vision.

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Uncategorized

A Casual Day at the DMZ/North Korea

We have a scratch off map at home with all the countries we’ve been to, and I’m having a serious moral dilemma. Can I scratch off North Korea now that we’ve been to the DMZ?!

When we were in Korea a few weeks ago, we booked a tour to go to the DMZ – the area between North and South Korea that serves as a buffer zone. The tour included stops at the Doransan Station, 3rd Infiltration Tunnel, the Dora Observatory, Imjingak Park. The tour itself was $40 – so quite a good bang for your buck, in my opinion. Now let’s break it all down.

Dora Observatory

The Dora Observatory is an observatory (duh) that you can see North Korea from. Well, usually. The day we went was extremely hazy so this was the best that we could do.

View of Dora Observatory

According to our tour guide, on a clear day, you can actually see a North Korean town (although she claims it’s a facade and not an actual town). From the viewing deck, you can also hear North Korean propaganda music!

South Korean Artwork

Downstairs, they had videos playing about North Korea, as well as artwork made by South Koreans. All of the art centered around how it felt to lose family in the separation. The picture above was one of my favorite pieces. (For anyone looking for a latte – this is the one of two stops on the tour where you can get one. You’re welcome, in advance).

Imjingak Park

I will preface this by saying this is the second stop on the tour where you can get your coffee fix. Aside from that, this park is located in Paju, South Korea and is known for the Freedom Bridge there.

Train shot by North Korean military
A train that was shot by North Korean military that sits within the park
Train sign to North Korea
Prayer ribbons
Prayer ribbons put up by vistors
Prayer ribbons
South Korean army man
Obligatory South Korean cheerful army man near the entrance to the bridge

While Imjinak Park is an important landmark, as an outsider it was just an okay stop along the way. I think my favorite part would probably have to be seeing all those prayer ribbons, because it made the war and the separations that followed feel real to me. It made me understand that there are people, to this day, that are hurting because of it.

Dorasan Station

The next stop was a train station. Random, right? It’s actually the last train station in South Korea, and if trains were allowed, it would continue on to North Korea. Not so random after all, my friends!

Dorasan Station map

At the station, we learned that South Korea refers to itself as an island. If you look at the map above, if it weren’t for the inability to go through North Korea, you could hypothetically travel Europe via train from Seoul!

Dorasan station and tickets

At the station you can purchase a “ticket” to get inside the station. I guess it was cool to see where we would hypothetically catch a train to North Korea.

Ticket to Pyeongyang
The ticket – pretty official ya’ll

3rd Infiltration Tunnel

After the Armistace Agreement, South Korea found a series of tunnels that the North Koreans dug into South Korea. Most of them routed themselves to Seoul, making the South Korean believe that they were planning a massive attack on their largest city.

DMZ sign
Peep the soldier with the peace sign between the M

Interestingly enough, North Korea claimed they were mining for coal, and after getting caught, painted the interiors of the tunnel black to look like coal.

DMZ

We decided not to go down into the tunnel as it was incredibly crowded but did watch the video that South Korea made to discuss the tunnels. Holy propaganda guys! If you get the chance, go to the tunnels and watch the video. Bring some popcorn. It’s pretty damn amusing.

DMZ chocolate
Didn’t purchase this, but was mildly amused by it.

Also – pro tip, buy the hoodies at the gift shop there. They are the comfiest hoodies I’ve ever owned.

In Conclusion…

No travel post would be complete without a food pic, so here ya go! For lunch that day, we had a choice between bulgogi or bimbimbap. We both went for the bulgogi and it was surprisingly delicious. Lunch was served in what looked like an old government building and was buffet style. I would just like to point out that they had cherry tomatoes in the dessert section. I did not snap a pic because I was too infuriated by the fact that someone could call tomatoes a dessert.

Traditional Korean lunch

At one of the many gift shops, we picked up a bottle of North Korean liquor. It was fine. It tasted like plum wine and communism.

North Korean liquor

That’s all folks! I personally enjoyed the tour, although I don’t know how much of that is just because I can now (kind of) say I’ve been to North Korea. If anyone is looking to book it, book it far in advance as they do tend to sell out! We went through a tour group called Kooridoor, although there are numerous other tours that go out that way.

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Travel

Discovering the Heart and S(e)oul of South Korea

After our brief visit to Singapore, we moseyed on over to Seoul, South Korea. Going into this trip, I had an idea of what most of the places would be like, but Korea was an unknown for me. If you asked me what I knew about Korea, the most I could give you would be a list of assorted food items that I’d seen at the Asian market growing up.

Our flight to Korea was about 6 hours long. We flew Singapore airlines, which I had heard rave reviews about. The airplane/airport geek in me was pumped! My short review? Good meals for economy. Decent leg room and seats that were as comfortable as an airplane can get. Great service. Insanely clean bathrooms.

Upon getting on the flight, we met our seat mate. His name is Jin, but he goes by Jimmy. Jimmy chatted with us throughout the flight, and essentially made us feel like unaccomplished humans. He had been in the Olympics as a judo fighter (I’m not 100% sure if it was judo or some other sport but I am 100% sure about the Olympic thing). He also had completed his mandatory 2-year service in the Korean army. What was Jimmy doing now? Training to be a commercial pilot. Jimmy gave us a little crash course into Korean life and described how insanely long days are for both children and adults. If anyone would like to follow our homie Jimmy on Instagram, click here. (You’re welcome Jimmy).

On to Korea.

Day One

We took a cab from the Incheon Airport into Seoul. Cabs are pretty affordable in South Korea and saved us the headache of trying to figure out the bus system. To be honest, we used cabs to get pretty much everywhere while we were in Seoul because #affordableluxury.

We stayed in an area called Myeong-dong, which is known for it’s shopping and K-beauty (neither of which interested me). For our first night, we wandered the streets near our AirBnB, and ate our little hearts out. The area was fun to wander through because of all the little side streets that kept leading you to more food! Scroll on for the grub from that night 😉

Buchimgae – Korean pancake
Kimchi
Banchan 4 life
Cute rice balls for the banchan
Hot pot

Day Two

The next day, we had meandering on our schedule, as well as a kimchi making class. Whilst we meandered, I made a few observations…

  • Public bathrooms were a bit hard to come by – as were garbage cans
  • Americanos were not very good at all!
  • Air was dirty. Dirty enough that I longed for that presh Chicago air. Yes, it was really that bad!
  • Everyone is incredibly nice. Reflecting back on it now, I can’t determine if it was genuine niceness or just a politeness that we don’t have at home.
Google Translate: if I buy you a bouquet, will you be mine?
#kawaii

Meandering was fun, but the streets were incredibly crowded and the air was not the best, so we were ready to go indoors for our kimchi class. Kimchi is something that we eat frequently – we’re all about those probiotics! During the class we learned so much about the history of kimchi and what it means in Korea. Essentially, kimchi is a staple in Korean daily life. Families even get together annually for an event called Kimjang, in which they make kimchi all day long. People even get the day off of work for this! We also learned about the million and one types of kimchi, as well as how kimchi ages (similarly to wine I suppose).

If you’re curious about the process and history of kimchi, take this class! It was taught by a husband and wife team, and not only did we make kimchi, but we also had a homemade meal together! I would recommend it 100%!

All the spices!
Smug mug
Dinner! Bossam (boiled pork), buchimgae (pancakes) and rice cakes!

Day Three

The last thing that we did in Seoul proper was a city walk. We booked a tour off of AirBnB and our host was great! We met at the Seoul Cinema, where he began by talking about the history of the Korean language. Fun fact alert: did you know that up until the 1980s, Mandarin Chinese was a common language for Koreans? I didn’t!

We continued on our tour by visiting what was the first shopping mall in Seoul. It has since been converted into electronic shops, as well as studios for young artists, who can receive funding from the country for an apartment and studio space! In front of the building was a statue of a robot, which symbolized the creation of new technology that occurred there.

We had to
There were public rooms where you could listen to a collection of records!
They had rooms throughout where people could meet and work!

As we delved deeper into the buildings, we came across stores that sold all types of obscure electronic pieces. The tour guide told us that the government paid for training so that these store owners could keep up to date with current technological needs!

The interior of the buildings
The view from the top floor, which had been renovated as a meeting space for locals

After exploring the buildings, our tour guide brought us to a fun little coffee shop in the design market. In Seoul, businesses that do similar jobs are located near one another. This coffee shop was in an area that had many businesses that did graphic design and packaging for goods. Clearly, the coffee shop had a great design team behind it.

The coffee shop!

We continued on with a walk through the Gwangjang market, where we saw stands selling custom made hanbok – traditional Korean dresses.

We ended our tour in the street food section of the market. Our tour guide got us bean sprout pancakes, as well as gimbap – Korean sushi rolls, and we went on our merry way to explore the market on our own! The tour itself was great, and I would highly recommend it! If you’re interested, this is the one we took.

Now here’s the exciting part! Guess who we met? GUESS? No, it was not the dude who sang Gangnam Style. It was mother fracking Yoosun Cho from Netflix’s Street Foods! Of course we stopped for a bite to eat and a selfie with the noodle queen!

Day Four

We ended our visit to South Korea with a day trip to the DMZ (which I’ll obviously need to dedicate an entire post to), and a day in Incheon where we ventured to a Korean spa. In all honesty, I don’t get the hype about the Korean spa. It had a bunch of different saunas at different temperatures and purifying elements (like a sauna full of charcoal and one full of amethyst). It was cool, but one sauna room would have done the trick as well.

Reflection

Overall, South Korea gave us some great times, some good laughs and tasty food. Coming from the U.S., it was hard to ignore the level of conformity that existed (a lot of websites were blocked – like Reddit) and the insane hours of work that people put in. At the end of a visit to a new country, I like to reflect and think about if the place I visited was a place I could imagine myself living. While Seoul was fun, it’s a hard no for me. The air quality was terrible (which is huge for us) and the idea of being a “company man” would never be appealing to me. Korea was fun to visit, but I’ll keep it at that!

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Travel

Singapore: Too Perfect?

I’m trying to write all these thoughts out before too much time passes so that the details are still clear in my memory. Today is July 29th and we are 11 days into our 5 week trip through Asia and Australia. So I guess all of this word vomit is 11 days old.

We left Chicago on the 18th on a flight to Singapore, with a layover in Korea. Our first flight from Chicago to Korea was glorious… meaning we had the seat next to us empty. There’s nothing like sitting cross legged without butting your neighbor with your knee on a fourteen hour flight.

After a 2-hour layover in Seoul, we had one more flight to Singapore. Why Singapore? I’m an airport geek. I love watching YouTube videos about airport features, and apparently, Singapore is #1!

We stayed at the Yotel at the Singapore Airpot for both nights. It’s fine for a layover, but expect to be stepping on the toes of anyone you happen to be staying with. I didn’t get get any photos of the room, but I assure you that one photo would have captured it all. Also, there’s no real divider between the bathroom and bedroom, so I hope you’re comfortable with your roomie.

Moving on… we arrived around 1am and decided to have a little walk while it was empty. The Jewel, which is the part of the airport that the Yotel is in, is a brand new addition to the Singapore Airport. It was opened this past April and is essentially a massive mall attached to the airport with an indoor forest and waterfall. It’s pretty spectacular, especially at night when no one else is around.

Around 3am we finally fell asleep, and woke up the next morning to explore Singapore! Singapore has been intriguing to me ever since watching Crazy Rich Asians. Was it really that rich? Was it really that manicured? After 24 hours there, I can safely say that I don’t have an answer for the first question, and a definite yes to the second one!

Driving out of the airport into the city, you couldn’t help but noticed how well maintained everything was! Every bush, flower and tree we passed was in pristine shape. Garbage on the road was nowhere to be found. It seemed almost too perfect.

Our first stop was to a hawker center, or Singapore’s version of a food court. The one we went to was called Lau Pa Sat. When we got there, we walked around and saw about 100 different food stalls selling a variety of food. We finally settled on a serving of Kaya toast, which is toast with a spread of coconut milk and eggs (something that Singapore is known for) and a plate of char sui, which is Chinese barbecue pork. In all honesty, neither blew me away.

After eating, we walked over to Gardens by the Bay. Along the way, we found an Ayurvedic shop called Ega Juice Clinic, which sold pressed juices, as well as goods based on your Ayurvedic type. The woman at the shop was so kind and explained the concept to us, which we both found incredibly intriguing. She gave us some soap for our type, and a couple of quizzes to determine what we leaned towards. (For anyone interested, I’m a Vata).

After drinking our juices, we finally made it to the Gardens by the Bay. While there, we explored two of the conservatories – the Flower Dome and the Cloud Forest. Both were beautiful! It was incredibly hot, so we didn’t explore much of the outside – although we did get an obligatory picture.

After exploring the gardens, we headed back to the airport to explore the Jewel some more. The taxi driver along the way gave us an interesting insight into what it meant to be from Singapore. Singapore was established in 1965 when it broke off from Malaysia. Singapore is a city-state that is only slightly larger than the city of Chicago, yet it is an economic hub. Essentially, they have limited natural resources, due to their size, but have made a name for themselves in finance due to their political stability. The taxi driver was incredibly excited to talk to us about the Jewel, and rattled off all kinds of facts, such as how many stores they had and the exact date of it’s opening. Clearly, the launch of the Jewel was a source of pride for those from Singapore.

The Jewel has no shortage of delicious food, but what few may know is that it also has several restaurants which have received Michelin stars! That night, we ate at Putien, whose other branch had earned a Michelin star in 2016. The restaurant specializes in Chinese food that is sourced from the best regions in China.

Bian rou – dumpling soup
Roasted bitter melon
Cold Pork Trotters Jelly
Seaweed with mini shrimp
Braised bean curd
“100-Second” yellow croaker

In all honesty, I wasn’t blown away by the food but it was an experience. Most of the Chinese food I’ve had in my life has come from either Joy Yee or Panda Express so I was glad to get have some real Chinese food. The best dish would probably be the dumpling soup. Interestingly enough, the wrapper isn’t made of flour but of pork meat! #keto

With that, our 24 hours in Singapore came to a close. My thoughts? It was beautiful, but almost too perfect. It kind of felt like that scene in Passengers where they’ve built a garden in the space craft. I’m grateful to have visited, but in my opinion, one day was enough to get the gist of Singapore. For anyone visiting, take some cash out for the hawker centers, but everywhere else will accept credit card. Taxis are extremely reasonable as well!

See the similarities?

When we woke up the next morning, we boarded a flight to Seoul, South Korea… which is where I will pick this blog back up at (soonish). Side note – Singapore is one of those airports where you can’t bring water past security, however you can bring empty bottles and fill them up before boarding. Just in case any of ya’ll are into hydration like we are.

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Head + Heart = Hustle Thoughts

Do You Follow Your Fire?

I went to the DMZ yesterday (that’s a story for another post), and along the way, in an effort to reduce my battery usage to increase Instagram story output, I rediscovered some of my old downloaded playlists.

Does anyone remember Kodaline? I know they’re still active, but let’s be real, they peaked in 2014. They have this one song, that I listened to on repeat yesterday, that has had me thinking. A lot.

Are you still following your fire? Do you even know what it is anymore? Remember in college, when you had passion? Lord knows about what – possibly a war in a country that you hadn’t even heard of or being a vegetarian – but it was passion. It was something in the pit of your stomach that just made you feel all these exquisite feelings at once. You felt like you could possibly be an agent of change one day. You felt like you could matter.

Then you graduated college, and your passion became your career. Maybe your drive became paying your bills and keeping up with rent. Passion became productivity.

I’m on a 5 week trip at the moment, and I really hope that this helps me rediscover my fire. I’ve been feeling a bit drained lately. I want that fire in my life again – excitement, too much energy to sleep, the whole nine yards.

In the past, I’ve always taken away so much from travel. Much more than I ever expect to. I can zoom out and see my day to day life clearly. I can see how others live and see what I need add to my own life. I’m excited to see what comes of this trip.

I’d like to have a conversation. For anyone who is reading this, what is your passion? How do you balance your fire with being an adult? How do you ground yourself in the fact that you are more than your job description?

Categories
Life Lately

Life Lately

I have been neglectful AF towards this blog – which is audacious considering I pay to have it! I don’t even have a good excuse – I’ve been on summer break for the last two weeks doing nothing but going to yoga and annoying my husband.

I thought it’d be fun to do a quick scrolleroo (can someone with the hook up at Websters get that word in please?)through the phone and use my pictures to show you what life has been like lately.

First things first – I got licensed as a real estate broker. My husband works in real estate and it’s a nice little side hustle for me, especially with the down time I get with teaching. Plus I’m super nosey and very into HGTV so the fact that I get to sneak peek into people’s homes and lives has been a great lil perk!

I mentioned this before, but when my friend and I went to New Orleans, we ended up binge watching practically the entire first season of Yummy Mummies. (Side note: Yummy Mummies is NOT fun to watch alone – you must have a companion whom you can trash talk with) Last week, we had a private viewing party (real talk – it was me and her and a few bowls of carbs) to watch the second season. We made it 80% through. In my humble opinion, there was just not a whole lot of drama happening which made it not as enticing to watch.

In more royal news – last month someone told me that whenever Meghan Markle goes on tv, they’re reminded of me. I have been riding incredibly high on that compliment horse. The combination of joy that I got from that compliment, combined with my abundance of free time has resulted in me making too many photos to show off the similarity that I, a simple Muggle, have with royalty.

If you’re local, you need to check this place out. I had it last night with my mom and ugh, it was so good. It’s basically Chipotle style bimbimbap! Definitely go with the beef over the chicken though. Also – they have free miso soup! Like $0.00 free! GO NOW!

What a great introduction into my next photo, which is an image of the 50,000 Korean Won. I have never felt so wealthy. In reality, that bill is $40. BUT IT SAYS 50,000! WOAH! We’re heading to Korea next week and I am so excited. Stay tuned for a review comparing Korean bimbimbap to that of the previous photo!

Lastly – I am obsessed with these pants. They were $10 at the Gap and I am looooooving them. I have recently discovered that I do indeed like shopping which I thought was a problem, but it’s only a problem if you say it is. I will continue to allow myself to purchase clearance items because why the feck not? Maybe this will turn into a pseudo-fashion blog?!

That’s all for now folks! I’ll be (hopefully) keeping this blog more updated – especially with our upcoming travels! Enjoy your tans, ya beautiful people!

Categories
Travel

Things We Did and Ate in Rome (in Pictures)

This post is delayed but this week has been busy, so it is what it is. Plus, I’m sure there is not a single soul on this earth who has been waiting at the edge of their seat, so it’s all good! We started our trip off with several days in Rome. It was nice, but that’s all. I will say – Rome has some delicious cheeseboards though. I think the more we travel, the more we’re learning that cities aren’t really our jam. We live in a city. A nice, big, crowded one. When we get away, we crave the outdoors. I digress. Keep scrolling for some photos (and words) about Rome, in no particular order!

Our First Roman Meal

When we first got to Rome, we headed straight for our AirBnB to drop our luggage off then headed out for our first *true* Italian dinner. We didn’t head far – the restaurant La Forchetta d’Oro was right across the street from us! The prices were reasonable and the food was pretty good!

Bruchetta
Seaweed salad
Beef carpacio
Cuttleink pasta
Tiramisu

That pretty much ended our first night. We wanted to take a walk to see the Colosseum at night, but the rain wasn’t cooperating!

The Macro Museum

While Rome is know for their classical art, we ventured out to the Macro Museum. I’m a huge fan of modern art. I think it’s just so much more fun than painting of sad old people and bowls of fruit. Call me uncultured, that’s fine. Unfortunately, this museum was a bit lackluster. There weren’t all that many exhibits. On the bright side, it was free.

Ten bonus points for having a super modern bathroom

The rest of that day was rained out. We had bought tickets for a hop on/hop off bus, but the rain stopped us from hopping off. Eventually, we got dinner, and called it a day.

Checking Out the Colosseum

It wouldn’t be a trip to Rome without a visit to the Colosseum. I strongly advise getting tickets in advance. We went pretty early in the morning (8:30) and there was already a line of probably a few hundred people trying to purchase tickets.

Is it terrible that I wasn’t super impressed? Okay, the fact that they built a thing like this back then is cool, but IDK. It was just a building.

Roaming Through Trastevere

We also explored this neighborhood called Trastevere. It was filled with boutique shops, coffee, and all the cheeseboards you could want. In our three hour visit, we consumed three cheeseboards.

They have a cool hill in this neighborhood you can walk to and get a view of Rome from above!
This place was excellent! Check out Donkey Punch if you’re looking for a delicious meal!
La Prosciutteria

A Roman Cooking Class

We also participated in our first ever Air BnB experience: PASTA MAKING! We took this class and learned how to make several types of pasta. Making pasta was much easier than I had assumed it would be!

The finished product!

Overall, Rome was nice, but that’s all I can say. It didn’t blow my mind or anything like that. We ate some good charcuterie and saw some old buildings. Perhaps if we were history buffs it would’ve been more of a dream come true, but in all honesty, it was just a tad bit overrated.

Where You Should Eat in Fiumicino, Italy

Spring break this year was spent in Italy. We visited Rome and Naples, the glorious cities of treasures as all the travel blogs say, but in all honesty, the most spectacular place we visited was a ten minute cab ride from the airport. Continue reading to see (pun intended – there will be lots of photos) why you should eat in Fiumicino, Italy!
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Fiumicino is not Rome. It’s a town that people live in. The menus are not all in English and there aren’t tourists everywhere. Fiumicino is a fishing village, which you will see as you walk through. There are fish stands, seafood restaurants and boats galore. After spending a week in crowded Rome and Naples, it was a relief to be able to walk down the street without a waiter standing outside promising “authentic” pizza and pasta. Because it’s a town that isn’t necessarily catered to the tourists, the prices are much more reasonable as well!

We came into the town simply searching for a meal. We were staying near the airport, and wanted one last meal in Italy. We were not expecting to be blown away by this little town, but alas, we were.

Our first stop was Indispensa Bistrot. Indispensa is an adorable restaurant with a beautiful menu.

My husband got the steak coated in zucchini and I had the salmon. Both were phenomenal!

Keep in mind that Fiumicino is a fishing town, so the seafood is fresh and tasty! This was hands down one of the best meals we had in Italy. Their drinks were excellent too. I had a negroni, which got my drunk way too fast, and the husband had red wine, which I recall him liking!

After our meal, we went down the street to Le Moko Cafe, where we had coffee, beer and a charcoal croissant! The owners were friendly, the prices were reasonable and the coffee was strong.

Next door to the cafe is a vintage shop, Vintage 77, that you need to visit. Prices were reasonable and the selection was beautifully curated. My husband walked away with an Italian silk button down for 15 euro!

We then continued to walk through the town. Lining the streets are small boutiques and shops, selling clothing and home goods. We wandered into some fish markets and oohed and aahed at the prices of wild caught salmon.

After an hour or two, our stomachs wanted more food and we stopped in at Tarumbo. There, we got the meat and fish samplers, which were an excellent deal! They included a board of food, as well as a drink! For 25 euros total, we ate fresh seafood and drank beautiful mojitos.


After this, we wandered a bit more – partially to see more of the town and partially to work up more hunger! Eventually, we wound up at our last stop of the night, Uniti nel Gusto! If you visit, you must order the seafood sampler. For 25 euros, you can sample six of their delicious seafood dishes! I promise that A) you will not be disappointed and B) you will be quite full!

Okay – I lied. I said that was our last stop but it wasn’t. We couldn’t end our trip to Italy without one last cannoli. I don’t recall the name of the pastry shop, but it was delicious. They had an assortment of mini and regular pastries, all under 2 euro! We got three mini pastries: a cannoli, a fruit tart, and a chocolate puff, and all of them were delicious!

As you can see, Fiumicino is a delicious little town. If you are visiting Rome, take the ten minute cab ride over and be prepared for some delicious seafood and authentic feels!