A Quick Adventure to Connecticut

Travel

A few weeks ago, I did something I haven’t done in over a year: I took some time off from work and I left the state of Virginia. For someone who has literally traveled around the world, it may seem ridiculous to be so excited about leaving the Mid-Atlantic region, but it was a long time coming (also we were avoiding part of cicada season).

I took a Thursday and a Friday off from work, packed up a car with my (retired) parents and we started the long drive up the East Coast to Connecticut. (If you want a full recap of our road choices, my father can inform you; I was asleep in the back seat for most of this.) Why Connecticut of all places? Well, I have deposited at a law school (!!!) located in Hartford, Connecticut and wanted to go for a visit.

Side note: law school is strange because it is a rolling acceptance system. You can be accepted in September when you apply or you can be accepted from the wait list during Orientation Week. So though I have deposited at a school, I don’t know what the summer may bring. As of right now, I’ll be heading to Connecticut, but I also have my options open until I move there.

Our main goals for the trip were to avoid the beginning of the cicadas in the DC area, to see campus, check out a few apartments, and also go on a little vacation. Also my mom wanted to see a beach – it’s the little things in life. We successfully managed to avoid cicadas on our trip. So, one point to us.

We made it up to Hartford with plenty of sunshine left and decided to head to Dunkin Donuts Park for a baseball game. It’s been a while since we sat in the stands for a game, so we really enjoyed the opportunity to watch the Hartford Yard Goats (#NoGoatsNoGlory) and eat some junk food. Our weekend was made great by some beautiful spring weather (something we don’t really get in DC). So we soaked up some Vitamin D while we could and enjoyed the light breeze. Alas, the goats were defeated but it was a pleasant night nonetheless.

Our first stop on Friday was a visit to the law school. Everything is closed down, but I still wanted to stop by. We made a loop through the buildings, peeking in windows when we could, and marveling at how collegiate it felt. We made mental notes of parking availability and the various names of buildings, before we set off for breakfast (at Dunkin of course!).

Our Friday and Saturday were spent driving around the area, exploring Hartford and West Hartford, taking a couple of apartment tours. Previous attempts at organizing a lot of tours for the weekend were foiled and we were too early for most of the apartments that might be available in August, but the driving around and tours we did take were helpful.

The last time I was in Hartford was looking for colleges for my brother – in 2009. We had vague recollections of this park or that building, but if I was planning to move to the city, I needed a little more information. Our drives showed us the variety of neighborhoods and what driving routes would be available. We spotted a couple of places and made notes. We ate at local restaurants, soaking in the spring weather and the vacation vibes we hadn’t seen in over a year. Generally we ate, explored, and enjoyed the nice weather. We also did get a brief chance to visit a beach for my mother, despite there being absolutely no waves and gross seaweed/moss keeping us from dipping our toes in for too long.

And then it was time to drive home. We got a Dunkin on the road home and made it back with no problems (once again, I was asleep in the backseat). By the time we pulled into the driveway, there was a low buzz – the cicadas had awakened in our time away. My father got a nice bike ride in and my mother and I spent the afternoon washing the cars.

Despite the short timeframe, the lack of an apartment lease, and the long-ish drive, I’d call the trip an overall success, but that might just have to do with all the donuts I ate…

The Good and The Bad

Travel

Not every travel experience is great. Sometimes it rains your entire trip or your travel companion sucks or every mode of transportation is delayed. It happens – and when it does you just have to power through and make the most of it.

When I think of some of my favorite and my least favorite travel moments, I am reminded of my trip to London and Edinburgh in the spring of 2016. As one of my many short trips through Europe while I studied in Sweden, the trip included a few days in London, an overnight bus to Scotland, a few days in Edinburgh, an overnight bus back to London, a day in London, and a night in the airport before an early morning flight. As twenty-somethings trying to save money, we thought using our transportation hubs as ways around paying for hostels would be ideal – spoiler alert: it was not.

By the time we took this trip, my friend and I were well seasoned travelers who had learned quickly what was needed and what was not when hopping Ryanair flights around Europe. So fortunately, we only had light backpacks to lug around with us for most of our adventure. The first few days in London were fine, we checked into a hostel that I have no memory of positive or negative, and we explored. (This trip played a huge part in my desire to move to London for grad school a year and half later.)

Then came our trip to Scotland. Due to the travel distance and time restraints, we made a compromise to spend time in Edinburgh and explore the city, rather than spending our time moving from sight to sight. To save money, we chose a night bus, rather than a train or a plane. (We used Rome2Rio to plan our transportation and sometimes it gave us cool routes for cheap and sometimes it failed us.) So, we had an eleven hour bus ride from London to Edinburgh that made quite a few stops on its way up. Unfortunately, as this all occurred at night, we saw nothing outside of the windows. It was freezing and with the frequent stops, the doors opened to let in the outside air regularly. Sleeping wasn’t really an option – and it was eleven hours on a bus. Not ideal.

Then came the great part: seeing Edinburgh. Genuinely one of my favorite cities I’ve visited over the years, Edinburgh is the perfect mixture of old and new. We mostly stuck to the old, because ya know, history, but found ourselves thoroughly entertained. (It was also apparently a very popular place for hen parties – we saw way more bride-to-be sashes than we did kilts…)

We stayed at Castle Rock Hostel, which was one of the best hostel experiences we had, literally within sight of the Edinburgh Castle. We walked everywhere, including on a free walking tour of the key sights. We wandered through Princes Street Gardens and stopped by St. Giles’ Cathedral and Greyfriars Kirkyard (I love a good cemetery), and visited the Scottish National Gallery. We wandered over to the castle, but didn’t go in (though we stumbled upon an exotic car event). We made our way down the Royal Mile to visit the royals at Holyroodhouse.

But our big triumph of the trip involved venturing a little further from our hostel home. We decided to climb Arthur’s Seat. And fortunately, we got good weather for our hike. Unfortunately, it’s a hell of a climb and it was muddy. It was a breath of fresh air.

After such a pleasant time in Scotland, it was time for another eleven hour bus ride (still not fun) and another day in London. Because our flight was early the next morning, we had figured we would skip a hostel and sleep in the airport. Simple, really. Except that meant we had a full day to fill on next to no sleep. Except that meant dragging our bags with us for an entire day after sleeping on a bus. Not great.

To finish a long day of exploring London, we decided to see a show – there was no rush to get to Stansted, so we might as well enjoy our wait. The show was wonderful and we hopped a bus to the airport arriving (unfortunately) after security had closed. So we (and many other like minded travelers) were stuck in the lobby on chairs with individual armrests and a man who paced past the automatic doors every fifteen minutes letting in the cold air. Seemed fitting to round out our trip this way…

We did survive the night and we did get on the plane and we did leave with positive memories (and books written in English bought from the airport bookshop at 3 a.m.!), but we also learned never to take a hostel for granted.

Iceland

Travel

I’m a big fan of Scandinavian style murder shows – the slow burn, the dramatic locations. I recently watched the last episode of the first season of The Valhalla Murders on Netflix. The drama takes place in Iceland (and is shot entirely in Icelandic with English subtitles) and to my surprise, I was able to recognize a couple of shooting locations used in the show from my travels in Iceland.

My time is Iceland is usually spent in the middle of Keflavík Airport running from one flight to another. I use Icelandair for flying to Europe and back – I find their flight times convenient and they’re the nicest people about avoiding problems with layovers and delays. Keflavík is also one of the most efficiently run airports that I’ve experienced and it’s always neat and orderly. In case you didn’t know, Icelandair has a program for stopovers that allows you to extend your time in Iceland by a few days to explore the country on your way to your final destination. I’ve had the opportunity to use this program twice now (and spoiler! – it’s worth it!)

My first time exploring Iceland was with my parents in the summer of 2016. We utilized the stopover on our way back from Sweden. My parents came to visit as I finished my time studying abroad near Stockholm and we spent a few days in June exploring Scandinavia. We stayed in Reykjavík and branched out from there. My second time utilizing Icelandair’s stopover program, my mother, my grandmother, and I explored on the way back from London in August of 2018. Both times, despite knowing our plan to stay in Iceland, we didn’t pre-schedule anything, choosing inside to pop into tourist information storefronts in Reykjavík on the day of/day before. If you’re staying in town, it is super easy to wander down the main street and pop into one of the information stores that line the street. They’re usually really nice and really knowledgable.

Any of the tours will take you to amazing locations. I’d personally recommend anything along the Golden Circle, especially if it includes Gullfoss. It’s also worth visiting Geysir for a mini Yellowstone experience. Reynisfjara, Skógafoss, and Thingvellir National Park are also wonderful spots to visit.

You really can’t go wrong, but my biggest piece of advice is to leave Reykjavík. Don’t get me wrong – Reykjavík is a lovely little town (and yes I did have to Google how to spell it…). But the beauty of Reykjavík is beyond the borders of this little town. An afternoon could be spend wandering the shore of the bay (there’s a little nice little path that’ll lead you to Sun Voyager). You can also go for a walk through the cute little houses, seeking out the murals on some of the walls, maybe even making your way up to the iconic church on the hill, Hallgrímskirkja. Heck, you could even enjoy a meal at Hlemmur Mathöll, a wonderful little food hall (can 10/10 recommend grabbing breakfast from Brauð & Co), or grab some fries from Reykjavík Chips (I’d recommend trying out one of their different sauces in addition to your classic ketchup). But there’s so much more to explore beyond Reykjavík!

You really cannot go wrong. The people are extremely friendly (and very used to tourists at this point) and even on the gloomiest, rainiest days the country is magical. That being said, my two trips to the country took place in the summer when the days are long and you have nicer weather to explore.

One common concern I’ve heard from friends and family is that everyone has been to Iceland and everything is a tourist trap – to which I say, and? Iceland is just as gorgeous as the Instagrams you’ve seen or the blog posts you’ve read. Yes, the sites are busy, but they’re also grand enough that if you aren’t there at the same time as a tourist bus, you can’t miss them. And there’s a reason they’re so popular – the country is freaking beautiful.

My arguably most controversial opinion is that I really enjoy the Blue Lagoon. Is it super busy? Yes. Is it the lushest thing I’ve ever done? Also yes. Fight me. 10/10 would recommend.

(I also feel I should note that despite my love of Scandinavian crime shows, Scandinavia is a safe place to travel and Iceland is relatively crimeless. In case you were worried….)

Visiting a Friend

Travel, Uncategorized

I’d been looking for a reason to visit a friend who relocated to Bloomington, Indiana. Bloomington is home to Indiana University and located about an hour south of Indianapolis. Visiting in passing during my undergraduate time in Indianapolis, I never really explored the area.

In debating the best time to visit, I saw a show in Indy that I would love to see – one of my current bands on repeat is Joseph, a sister trio with the most soothing harmonies and the most beautiful lyrics; they were playing at the Vogue in Broad Ripple not far from Butler. After a quick text confirming my friend was a) in town that weekend and b) interested in picking me up from the airport and housing me for a few days, I booked my flights to the Midwest.

(Hot tip: Surround yourself with friends who will not only go see your favorite band with you, but who will also listen to their music in the months beforehand to sing along with you at their concert.)

I had grand plans to fully explore the city of Bloomington and see all the sights. I did my research and complied a list. (Spoiler alert: Bloomington is pretty small and the list was pretty short.)

Despite my preparations, we spent most of the time hanging out and catching up. We did go for a wander of IU’s campus and we did find a couple of murals in Downton Bloomington, but it was mostly a trip to say hi.

Joseph was an amazing concert, the weather was wonderful, I took time off of work, and I ate both Kilroy’s breadsticks and Hotbox breadsticks. Not a bad weekend if I do say so myself…

One of my yearly resolutions was to visit friends who moved to new cities – maybe this is the catalyst for me to make a couple more trips (New York or New Orleans next maybe?).

Snow Covered Sheep and Sally Lunn Buns

london, Travel, Uncategorized

We’ve got chilly, dreary weather and it has me reflecting on what might’ve been the coldest day of my life. In early March of 2018, I took part in a day trip through the International Student House in London. They organized the transportation and tickets for a visit to Stonehenge and Bath.

Getting up very very very early on a Sunday morning, we made the trek to ISH and hopped on a small charter bus. One of the toughest things about visiting Stonehenge is simply getting there, so shout out to pre-organized transportation. After a slightly frightening drive thanks to a winter storm hitting the UK, we made it to the stones. The trip was originally scheduled for January and ended up snowed out – the March date was also very close to being snowed out. As you can tell from my pictures, it was snowy all morning, making roads quite treacherous. Fortunately, despite the site closing due to weather, they let us in.

Our tour let us go right up into the inner circle of the stones and a very kind man explained the history of the area and the various theories behind the placement and transportation of the rocks. (My contribution to this part of the day was to regularly nod and say “aliens“.) Stonehenge is admittedly a little overrated and a long way from nothing, but getting to wander this close to the rocks surrounded by a fresh blanket of snow was an amazing experience. You could read where past generations had carved themselves into the stones and stand in awe at how the rocks could possibly be moved to this exact spot.

Once we were ushered away from the stones so they could close the site for the day, we hopped back on our bus. I tried to convince everyone to sneak one of the many snow-covered sheep back with us, but was turned down. It was still relatively early and still not particularly nice out, but we took mostly back roads towards Bath and made it with no accidents. (Our step count for the day was particularly high thanks to the shaking of the bus.)

Our scheduled activity in Bath was a tour of the Roman Baths. Despite it being freezing outside, it was quite steamy in the baths. The tour was interesting and the baths are in great condition despite their age.

After our tour, the plan was to spend the afternoon in Bath exploring. (We had to fight a girl who wasn’t properly dressed and wanted to go home, but we got our afternoon.) Bath is relatively small, and our first stop was lunch.

We wandered our way over to The Salamander, a cute and cozy pub off the main drag and had beer and burgers. Once we warmed up, we wrapped back up and continued our explorations. Bath has plenty of shops if you’re interested, but we found ourselves down by the river and crossed the Pulteney Bridge to the other side for an exploration.

On a warmer day, I’m sure the riverside is packed but we were not there on a warm day. With our time dwindling, we made our way back across the water and popped our heads in Bath Abbey.

Our last stop was possibly the most British thing we did all day (besides regularly commenting on the weather) – we stopped for tea. And not just at any old café, we stopped at Sally Lunn’s Eating House. Older than the United States, Sally Lunn’s tearoom is home to the famous Sally Lunn bun. We had ourselves some tea and some scones and a Sally Lunn bun.

Once we’d eaten our fill, we made our way back to the meeting place, did an accidental loop of the Baths in search of our bus, and headed toward London. And all before it got dark at 5:00 p.m.!

That First Blank Page

Uncategorized

I’ve recently started a new journal – the most exciting and daunting step. There’s something terrifying about a blank page. What if I misspell something on the first line? What if I start with pens that bleed through? Do I want to do the same things I need in my last journal? Do I want to try something new?

I use my journals for a variety of things. This wave of journaling started in college when I wanted a place to put all my cards and notes and photobooth pictures. I bought a cheap journal and taped in each piece so that they weren’t floating around my dorm room. I repeated this habit my sophomore year. I bought a notebook and started to do the same process when I studied abroad in Australia (those bits and bobs are still in a bag somewhere waiting for me to tape and glue them in). I was more successful with the journal I used in Sweden – I organized it in order, placing all of the ticket stubs and plane tickets from each weekend trip together. My senior year of college it was a nice memento from school and I happily taped everything in.

It wasn’t until I moved to London for grad school that I expanded my use of journals from travel mementos to an actual journal. (This was around the time of the bullet journal fad so it’s not surprising I wanted to get in on that.) This journal was filled with cards and ticket stubs, grocery lists and rants. Taped and glued and highlighted together, this journal went beyond that experience, blending that year with the one following it.

I recently filled the last page and started a new one. I’ve used it less frequently because it’s still so fresh. There’s no mistakes so far, no bend in the spine. It sits closed nicely and doesn’t have pieces of paper sticking out in weird directions. This new notebook doesn’t hold the same memories as the last. At least not yet.

And like the beginning of anything new and exciting, I find myself overthinking. But with a new decade, maybe it’s time to dive in.

So I wrote a to do list on the first page, copied over from the end of my last journal. I taped in a ticket from a show I saw. I marked a page with a highlighter.

And suddenly, it’s a lot less daunting…

Dubrovnik: A Love Story

Travel

I already wrote about my roadtrip down the coast of Croatia in a previous post, but felt that Dubrovnik deserved its own dedicated post.

We chose an Airbnb that was a light twenty-minute walk from the old city and absolutely loved it. We were able to cook ourselves breakfast and dinner for most of our time there, saving some money. Some of us were doing work and could relax on the WiFi. Plus it gave us a more realistic idea of the area than just the tourist zone.

We planned our time in Dubrovnik around the arrival of cruise ships. Since Dubrovnik was used as a set for Game of Thrones, tourism to the city has grown exponentially. Cruise ships also favor the city, which means that the city is flooded with bus groups and cruise ship tourists during the peak of the day, but empties out some in the evenings. To avoid big crowds, we planned our aforementioned trip to Kotor on the cruise ship day that overlapped with our time in Dubrovnik.

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(It’s been a while so my timing might not be quite right – forgive me. And take any schedule I provide with a grain of salt.)

Our first day, we wandered around the city. The historic part of the city is inside the city walls, so we focused our explorations there. Just like Venice, Dubrovnik is a place you could get lost in, just wandering down winding roads and alleys, turning corners that end in the water. We had soaked in the sun, ate lunch at a small restaurant in an alleyway, and had plans to take the ferry to Lokrum Island. Unfortunately, we were still in low season and the ferry only ran once or twice a day.

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Our backup plan was a quick sea kayaking adventure. We rented kayaks from just outside the city walls and did a loop of the island. The island has tons of inlets and caves that you can squeeze into and take a look around. I made the great choice to wear jeans on this adventure, which resulted in me walking through hoards of tourists looking like I’d just peed my pants. It was worth it. Following that adventure, we returned to our Airbnb and slathered our sunburns in lotion.

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Our second day in Dubrovnik began early. We wanted to climb Mount Srd to Utvrda Imperial (Fort Imperial) before it got too hot. The view from the top is pretty spectacular, but the hike is serious work – it’s a steep climb with lots of switchbacks and next to no shade. Many people seemed to prefer taking the cable car up and hiking down, but we finished our trip up and back before lunch. Definitely bring water and some snacks (there’s a cafe up top but its usually busy and quite expensive).

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After showers and a relaxing lunch at our Airbnb, we went back into the old town for the City Walls Tour. We went at the end of the day to catch sunset. The whole thing is a loop, so take your time. It’s also nice to pause and look down, letting larger tour groups pass by, and see the city still recovering from its relatively recent turmoil. After our tour, we grabbed food in the old city at one of the many restaurants and enjoyed a scoop of gelato to end the night.

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Our last morning in Dubrovnik was spent at Lovrijenac, the fortress just outside the
city walls that featured in Game of Thrones. Our City Walls tour tickets included Lovrijenac, which is an interesting place to explore.

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After another scoop (or two) of gelato, we went back to our Airbnb and headed north.

Croatia: A Love Story

Travel

Early on in this blog, I wrote about a trip to Slovenia and how beautiful it was there. It’s on my list of must returns – but that’s the problem with traveling: once you fall in love with a new destination, you’ll want to return and also maybe go to that other place you heard of while you were there. Sitting right next to Slovenia on my list is Croatia, the next stop on our roadtrip that April.

We took a Flixbus from Ljubljana to Zagreb. Initially, we planned to explore Zagreb, but there’s not a whole lot going on there and by this point, we were maybe halfway through our trip and ready for a calm night. We picked up our rental car in Zagreb after a couple of rocky Uber rides to the airport.

(Don’t ask me which roads we took as I was not driving and may or may not have fallen asleep for a good portion of the drive.)

From Zagreb, we aimed south. To break up the drive, we stopped for lunch in Rastoke in Slunj. This teeny little town with waterfalls flowing in between homes was picture perfect and a wonderful break from five people packed in a tiny European car.

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Despite skepticism about the possibility of “surprise caving” on our trip, we managed to actually do some surprise caving on our drive. We stopped in Rakovica, Croatia to visit the Caves of Barać. Slovenia and Croatia have tons of caves and we thoroughly enjoyed our quick trip in and out of the darkness (especially since we spotted plenty of baby bats).

After our surprise caving adventure, we made our way to our Airbnb for the night. The next day’s adventure was the reason we chose to do a roadtrip instead of flying or taking a bus: Plitvička Jezera.

Plitvice Lakes National Park is on the list of the most stunning places I have ever visited – pictures just do not do it justice.

Because we were there in April, we missed the big summer tourist rush and winter weather. We started at the North Entrance (Entrance 1) and made our way upstream. Our route started with the highest waterfall, Veliki slap, and moved up the streams toward and through the lakes.

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We made the right call because it seemed that tour buses started at the Southern entrance and end with the Big Waterfall. And tourist groups are rude (and may or may not try to push you into the water). No matter the crowd, there’s various paths you can take, hopping from one to the other depending on people and mud levels. We got to a bus stop and ate some lunch before taking the park’s bus back some of the way to where we parked.

Bring a raincoat and proper walking/hiking shoes as the boardwalks get quite slippery and all that falling water creates a bit of a constant mist.

(We spent a solid day on this particular adventure and even if you aren’t a fan of hiking, it is worth it to see the falls.)

We continued South the next day towards Split. Split is a city on the Adriatic that was home to the history portion of our roadtrip. One major draw of a visit to Split is Diocletian’s Palace, built for Roman emperor Diocletian and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Diocletian’s Palace makes up the old city and can be wandered through with ease. (We bought tickets to see Jupiter’s Temple, Saint Domnius Cathedral, and the Bell Tower, and it really wasn’t worth it.) You can wander around the old structure and underneath which is now a little market. Piece of advice:  visit at night – you can listen to music in the square near the Tourist Information booth and cafés set up little seats if you want a drink.

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For the active amongst us, Park Šuma Marjan is a beautiful hike right next to the old town on a peninsula. You can venture up the paths with views of the Adriatic. The peak point is a platform with a view over the city that makes the hike worth it.

We made two stops outside of Split. The first was Solin for the ancient ruins of Salona. The former city is a fascinating wander and you can go right into the middle of the amphitheatre, right next to someone’s laundry hanging in their backyard. Our second stop was the Fortress of Klis. The medieval fortress sits on top of a hill overlooking Split and has lived many lives from a small stronghold to a castle for kings to a fortress during the Ottoman wars and finally as a filming location for Game of Thrones. I thoroughly enjoyed wandering through the structure learning more about the history of the region (particularly the story of the Uskoks).

From Split, we continued down the coast towards the next stop on the unofficial Game of Thrones tour of Croatia: Dubrovnik. We spent quite a bit of time there so I’ll make a separate post about that particular adventure.

We made a quick stop in Bosnia and Herzegovina to stretch our legs and wander along the water before continuing south.

I absolutely loved our time in Dubrovnik and would return in a heartbeat. One great tip: if there’s a cruise ship coming in, go elsewhere. Just like with Venice, Dubrovnik gets a massive influx of tourists that take over the city when cruise ships come to port. We used this opportunity to go to Montenegro and explore Kotor (where I turned 23!).

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When our adventures in Dubrovnik ended, we hopped back in the car and drove up Croatia back to Zagreb with a stop in Zadar. While munching on pizza from a stand, we wandered towards the sea organ, a musical instrument played by the sea. We stepped over the ruins that sit in the middle of the town and listened to the church bells ring. We didn’t have a lot of time to explore, but with some gelato in hand, we made our way back to the car and continued towards Zagreb.

I can honestly say that this roadtrip was a once in a lifetime experience and I wouldn’t trade the memories for the world. But I am also counting down the seconds until I have a good excuse to go back to Croatia and continue exploring.

The Email That Started It All

Travel
This is the email that started it all. I was a quarter of the way through a two-week adventure and wanted to convince my parents that I was, in fact, alive. It was written on a bus on a phone. (It should be noted that despite telling them I would be sending them pictures, I hit send and then realized I had attached a total of zero photos.)
This is the email that started it all. After sending this quick note, I decided to start writing what I was thinking about my travels and my adventures to an audience wider than my parents and whoever they might choose to forward my email to. It was not the first time I wrote them an email summarizing my travels, but it was the time that convinced me to be a proper millennial and start a blog.
This is the email that started it all and this time I remembered to add the photos:
Good afternoon !
We’re heading off to Ljubljana now from Venice and I figured I would use the bus ride to send y’all some pictures.
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I could have taken photos if every crevice of that place. It’s such an interesting architectural marvel. The alley ways were so light but then they would open up to a massive courtyard. There is something so lovely about northern Italian courtyards with the houses all looking down on them. We only had a day and a half so we didn’t spend it standing in lines for the Doges Palace or St Marks Basilica. We wandered about and, Mom, you would have died at the gorgeous random churches we would find. They were stunning and massive and had their own flair and style. The city fills up during the day in such an overwhelming way (and it’s not even peak season) but we loved wandering around at night and getting lost in the alleys and canals. We got off the main island to go see Murano, which is where the glass blowers all work. Some of the artwork was stunning, some not so much.
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Due to the canals and the steps and the winding roads, bikes are not common, but Venice does have a bike share program, worry not, John. [edit: my father rides bikes regularly. this note was for him.]
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I’d love to go back and just get lost for days but unfortunately it’s time to move on to cheaper cities. We’re heading to Slovenia now. We’ll stay the night in Ljubljana before going to Bled. We’ve been lucky with weather but after cold, dreary London, anything is good weather.
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Love you and I’m sure I’ll update you in a few days!
Ciao, ciao!

Instagram Rules for Traveling

Five Favorites, Travel

It’s the millennial question: do you travel to Instagram? Or do you Instagram your travels?

I’ve got a long list of places I want to visit and some of those are inspired by my friends’ travels, as seen through the lens of Instagram. I don’t find that I’m suddenly willing to find New York worth a visit because of the filters and the clever captions I read online, but I find that it offers a new perspective to the experience of discovering (or rediscovering) a city or a country.

In order to enjoy my trips looking somewhere other than my phone screen I have a selection of five rules (or guidelines) that allow me to use Instagram and fully enjoy my trip:Screen Shot 2018-07-08 at 9.51.15 PM

Snap and Move On

I find that when I see something beautiful or interesting, I don’t want to restrict myself from attempting to capture it in the moment, but that doesn’t mean I should just keep staring at my photos. So I tell myself to snap a quick photo (or ten) and then put the phone away. I do not look through my photos while I am still in a gorgeous place, nor do I post while I am still there. Sitting on a bus or chilling in your hotel room late at night are the times when social media scrolling is appropriate.

Be Inspired, But Original

I don’t want my Instagram feed to be a carbon copy of someone else’s, so I follow the rule that I can be inspired by someone’s photo or choice of perspective, but I won’t copy. This is a little harder with things that have been photographed a thousand times, like the Eiffel Tower or Gullfoss, but it’s always worth it to try a new angle or a different photo stop.

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Mix It Up

I try to not post the same photos over and over again. This is difficult when traveling because all I want is to post similar shots of cute doorways or gorgeous landscapes over and over. So I try to add a little variety, whether it’s a picture with me in it or a picture of a mountain intermixed with the cityscapes. I’m not a specialty Instagram, so posting my meals every day isn’t capturing my experience.

One is Enough

I don’t live by the rule that you can only post once a day on Instagram, but I do find that it is a platform for the good old mantra “less is more“. I don’t like, nor do I need, the ability to post multiple photos at once, so I don’t use that feature. Instagram gives a curated perspective and forces the most stunning photos to be prioritized. If I’m in an absolutely breathtaking location, I’ll post twice in a day, but with some distance between posts, so that I avoid taking over anyone’s feeds. If I want to post twelve photos in a day, that’s what Facebook or Flicker are for.

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For Me, Not For You

I post on Instagram for myself, not for anyone else. It is my visual diary book, taking me through the past four or five years of my travels. I post for myself, not for likes. I scroll for happy inspiration, not for validation. If that ever changes, the app will be deleted from my phone, just as Facebook and Twitter have. At the end of the day, if I’m traveling to post on social media, I’m missing the great parts of what made these adventures so valuable to me in the first place.

What are your rules for internet posting while traveling?

Feel free to follow me on Instagram : @lilpicks95