For senior year spring break, instead of going along with the typical resort vacation, two of my friends and I opted for something a bit more adventurous: a Costa Rican road trip. We began our trip by flying into the capital city, San Jose, then worked our way through Arenal, Monteverde, and Manuel Antonio. This guide will set you up with everything from car rentals to wildlife sitings to the best coconut cream pie in the world.Read More
Going to Colonia was kind of a last minute decision for me. I wanted a quick (and cheap) weekend get away that would allow me to reflect on my time in South America, and Colonia gave me just that. I took the Colonia Express Ferry from Buenos Aires and in less than 2 hours arrived in Uruguay and rented a bike from there. Colonia is an amazing little town that I would definitely recommend for a day or two!
El Viajero - Great space and met some amazing people during my stay here. The staff wasn't great, but for a night or two that doesn't really matter as long as the sheets and room is clean!
Pizzería Don Joaquín - Great pizza, right next to the hostel, and accepts credit card!!
A la Pipetúa - The cutest little restaurant tucked away on the coast of the city. Incredible palle! Only accepts cash though.
Bocadesanto - This is the cutest little place that I cannot recommend enough. It is very secluded, but such a gem. It's a burger/bakery which is a great enough combo to begin with, that has a wonderful service, cute atmosphere and beautiful rooftop if you're lucky enough to see it.
Definitely rent a bike for the weekend, it's a beautiful ride throughout the town. There is also an old bull fighting arena (pictured left) that is well worth the ride out of town for, if you're up for an adventure.
El Chalten is known as the trekking capital of the world, and for good reason. It's a modest little town with some not so modest mountains and hiking opportunities. Nestled right beneath the Mount Fitz Roy this town offers a lot to any person who loves both adventure and food. This was the crown jewel for my trip around Patagonia. The combination of friendly locals, adventurous souls from all over, and Fitz Roy is everything I have ever wanted. Beware though: credit card is accepted almost no where in town and there is only one ATM that works about half the time. So bring cash!
Tres de Largos hike: The longest day hike and hardest hike in the national park, but very very worth it. The hike gets you as close to Fitz Roy as possible, without actually scaling the peak and the view is incredible. Beware though, the last hour of the hike is incredibly steep and physically daunting, so refill your water bottle at Laguna Capri on the way there. If I can do it, you can do it!
Eat / Drink
La Panderia - A little bakery with great (and cheap) sandwiches and backed goods! This place was my go to for day pack lunches.
B&B Burgers - 110 pesos for a burger, fries, and a pint of beer. A nice reward after a long day of hiking.
Isabel Cocina al Disco - Delicious and all meals are made to share between two people!
Heladería Domo Blanco - GREAT ice cream!!
Ushuaia, or as it is better know, "The End of the World," was the last on my two week Patagonian adventure. While the city itself isn't much to write home about, the views are unparalleled. The city is about a thirty minute bus ride from the famed Tierra Del Fuego National Park and the main attraction to the city. There is also the opportunity to see penguins, ski, sail along the Beagle Channel, and is the entry way to Antartica.
The Beagle Channel boat tour! This was one of those things I begrudgingly handed my money over too, but man, was it worth it. This was my last activity on my trip and I loved every second of it. The views are unmatched and it was a nice way to relax at the end of my trip. So bring a bottle of your favorite beverage + camera and enjoy!
Dublin's - the go to place for travelers
Maria Lola - if you love sea food, this is the place for you
I have to be honest, when I was first looking into traveling to Patagonia El Calafate was a blimp on my radar. The glacier didn't really catch my attention compared to the mountains, but boy, am I glad I went. El Calafate is a beautiful little city with a beautiful big glacier. Perito Moreno took my breath away and was definitely a highlight on my trip - so much so that I went back again! I would suggest staying in El Calafate for about 2 days. The first to see the glacier and the second to explore the city.
American Del Sur Hostel: I haven't personally stayed there but all of my friends who have rave about it. I've also heard they have the best breakfast in town!
The Perito Moreno Glacier, why else would you go to Calafate? Definitely spend the extra money to go on the boat tour and take the day to hike the paths around the glacier.
In the summer Calafate puts on a bunch of free concerts in their town square, if you're in town definitely check it out!
Pro tip: there are some flamingos living in the lake that you can go visit!
Don Pichon - Amazing lamb, amazing apple pie, and the best service I have yet to experience in South America. Also, a beautiful view of the water!
Wow, ya'll. Where to begin. The stories I have from this place! TDP gave me my first "typical" Patagonia experiences. From 125+ winds, watching a bus flip over, crossing rickety bridges, chasing Guanacos in an open field, to experiencing all 4 seasons in a matter of hours - this place put me through the ringer. I loved it. Disclaimer: you do need a guide for Torres Del Paine - absolutely, 100%.
I stayed at the Rio Serrano Hotel, again not ideal for backpackers or traveling on a budget, but nevertheless a great hotel with stunning views, a great location, and a yummy restaurant! The wifi wasn't great and only available in the lobby, but what can you expect from the middle of nowhere. I enjoyed my time there! And again - stunning views!
The W Trail
Glacier Largo Grey (it is mandatory to have a guide for this section of TDL National Park). I don't really know how to explain it other than just imploring that you have to go visit! It's incredible! Sadly, I was not able to do the hike to get to the best view because of the wind, but you should go and tell me how it is!
There aren't many restaurants in this area...actually I didn't eat at any but my hotel restaurant. But I would highly suggest G Sushi in Puerto Natales on your way over to Torres Del Paine.
Chiloe Island is a little spot I have dreamed about for a while and Puerto Varas is the little gem I found on the road there. It took me three boats and four buses to get from Bariloche, Argentina to Puerto Varas, Chile, but let me tell you: it was so worth it! Puerto Varas is a beautiful little city nestled right on the Pacific Ocean. It is beautiful, friendly, and has a lot to offer a young traveler. It's also only about 2 hours from Chiloe Island which made it my ideal location to set up camp!
I stayed at the Hotel Patagonica. It was more of an upscale hotel/resort that I wouldn't recommend for backpackers or travelers on a strict budget. It offered great amenities and views so if you're wanting to splurge and get some good relaxation in - this is the place for you!
Enjoy everything this city has to offer!! Lot's of nightlife and water activities. And during their summer season they offer a lot of free concerts and festivals.
Chilo Island. The ferry ride to the island itself was great! Take time to explore the colorful houses of Chacau and then head further down the island to the Punihuil Penguin Colony for the most amazing beach you've ever seen and fun little adventure. Don't forget to visit the fresh markets in Ancud either! I would recommend taking two days to explore Chiloe, if possible. I think the best way to see it would be to rent a car for those days!
La Jardinera - make a reservation!!!!
Be still my heart. Bariloche was my first stop on my Patagonia adventure and definitely a place I will never forget. Bariloche is nestled in the mountains overlooking the spectacular Lake Bariloche. This city holds some of the most breathtaking views I’ve ever had the honor to look upon. It’s a popular destination for college kids to come on holiday, skiers, and, of course, backpackers. The city is very walkable and hitchhiking is one of the most popular ways to get around.
I stayed at Design Suites Bariloche and had a wonderful experience! The hotel has a spa, restaurant, infinity pool that overlooks the water, and large rooms with great views as well! It was a short walk to some beaches and the city.
Go outside and explore!! There are many options including hikes, horseback riding, kayaking, and so much more!! Ask your hotel or research online for some activities that you would be interested in because Bariloche offers so much! Some of my favorite things I did was taking a gondola ride at Cerro Companario + kayaking on Lake Gutierrez. Also, make sure you make time for the city. I didn’t get to explore the city as much as I would have liked to – so don’t be like me!!
Cerro Companario – Gondala ride that takes you to a gorgeous view and Saint Bernard dogs.
Circito Chico – tour around Lake Bariloche
Familia Weiss – Great steak!!
Rapa Nui Chocolates + Ice Cream – Delicious.
Ya'll, Barcelona is the most relaxing, fun, magical place. Barcelona marked the end of my European trip and it was everything I needed. After visiting cities that hold many "must do" sites and activities it was so refreshing to end in a city where the beach was the "must do." It feels like there is no time or schedule in Barcelona, everything moves at a slow pace. Meals can last hours as you are present with your food and friends rather than watching the time to move on. Siestas are a gift of God. Tapas are the food of God.
I stayed in the Generator Barcelona, a hostel, hotel, and lounge all in one. It was budget friendly, so clean, and perfect for instagrams. The hotel/hostel combo allows for any age guest to stay and the lounge and restaurant below makes sure you can always get food and always have something to do. The lounge isn't a popular place for locals, but I met many other travelers there which provided a perfect setting for swapping stories. It is also located in close proximity to the fashion district, holla.
Take a bike ride along the Mediterranean. I signed up for a bike tour along the Mediterranean and it is one of the greatest adventures I have ever gone on. Guys, I didn't even really know how to ride a bike before going on this. It was incredible. And a lot of people can't say that they have biked along the Mediterranean. The tour itself lasted for about two and a half - three hours with a mid bike swimming break. My tour guide was so interesting and fun and I also got a discounted rate on bike rental after the tour - so I just kept riding. Definitely a can't miss. (Check it out at ibikedbarcelona.com)
Parc de Guel
Montjuic Cable Car
La Sagrada Familia
Mercat La Boqueria - open market, beautiful fresh food!
La Roseta - super cute cafe, perfect for breakfast
La Cholita - tapas!!
La Ciel de Sarria - little pricey, but so worth it! Great seafood!!
Motto for this trip: treat yo' self
What a dream Paris was. Before leaving for the city of love I heard nerve wracking stories of gypsies and pickpockets and how dirty the city is - don't believe...well do, but don't. I woke up every morning in this city feeling like I was living in a fairytale. I found all the locals I met to be wonderful, kind people who loved life to the fullest. You'll see people sharing their lives over a bottle of fine wine, slow dancing in the streets, drooling over elegant window displays, and savoring decadent food. Paris is the dreamiest.
I stayed in a IBIS Budget hotel in Saint-Ouen, five minutes from the Garibaldi metro station. It wasn't a great location and I do not recommend it if you are traveling by yourself, but it was clean, cheap, and provided a good breakfast. This area is pretty poor and very, very dirty. But, there are some kick butt bakeries right by the hotel.
Get a lock for your purse and don't talk to gypsies!!!! Seriously. I just bought a plain lock from Walmart and strapped it on my purse zipper and around my strap. Gypsies are out there and they want to take all of your money. Don't sign any petitions either. If someone asks you if you speak English fake your best French accent and say "No" hurriedly and walk away!
Seine River Cruise
Eiffel Tower at midnight
Palace of Versailles
Fragonard Perfume Museum
Shopping on Champs Elysees - Go to Tiffany's.
Just eat everything. Everything is good. But definitely...
L'Escargot - When in France
Crepes - you'll see stands everywhere!
Hot dog on buttered baguette - right behind the Notre Dame there is a little lady with a cart, get one from her, maybe two...probably three. Incredible.
Ladurée Macarons - treat yo' self.
When I thought about stepping off the plane at Heathrow I imagined swimming in a world full of crisp button downs, beautiful accents, and a lot of rain. While, I was right about two of those things, London surprise me by being almost identical to Washington D.C. with the exception of the accents, currency, and driving on the left side of the road. My time in London was a whirlwind between exploring, Harry Potter tours, and even a pub crawl my time in London went by way too fast and I cannot wait for the day that I step back into the Burberry catalog.
Where to Stay
I highly recommend, if you are a young traveler like me, to stay at the Astor Hyde Park Hostel. Not only is it a beautiful and grand Victorian era town house, but it is located in a great neighborhood and within a five minute walk to Astor Hyde Park, Natural History Museum, and the metro. The hostel has a great common room and houses all young travelers. I loved every second of staying there, just beware that there are no elevators. So if you stay on the top floor and overpack like me find a boy.
Do go to Stonehenge and Oxford!! It's a little bit of a bus ride, but SO worth it. Trust me, Stonehenge is so much better in person than as your screen saver. And if Harry Potter and beautiful architecture are your thing then you will love Oxford. I just went for the day, but I would highly recommend doing an overnight!
Astor Hyde Park
Changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace
The London Eye
London Harry Potter Tour & King's Cross Station
Big Ben, obviously
Poppies Fish and Chips - you have to
Ruby Blue - super cool and more upscale, awesome balcony
Bar Soho - more causal, very quirky and hip
Where do I begin with Charleston. If you have ever been you know just how dreamy and awe inspiring it's cobblestone streets, ancient oak trees, and pastels are. I moved to Charleston spring of 2014 and it was a great move. Charleston is basically a college student's playground, home to College of Charleston and The Citadel. My days were filled with long walks along The Battery, warm cups of lavender lattes, and way to many credit card bills from J. Crew. It was a dream that I hope to move back to after I finish my time in Providence.
I will always recommend either the Embassy Suites Charleston or Courtyard Marriott Charleston. Both are located in the center of King Street and on Marion Square Park; beautiful, fun, safe areas right in the heart of the action. Both of these hotels offer great amenities and are well worth the price! There are also many boutique hotels in Charleston, but I have never stayed in them, I'm sure they are beautiful though!
Do visit the College of Charleston!! The Cistern is one of the most iconic Charleston buildings and you can usually find artists, musicians, and many locals lounging on the lawn in front. The campus is drop dead gorgeous.
Angel Oak Tree
Sullivan's Island (my favorite beach)
Shopping on King Street
2nd Sundays (on King Street)
Farmer's Market (Saturday morning in Marion Square)
Hominy Grill (Brunch)
5 Loaves Cafe
French Chocolate Cafe
Writing this post has been harder than the others because Savannah holds such a big place in my heart and narrowing my love for it down to a few words and places is nearly impossible. The first time I stepped into this eccentric city I knew I wanted to be apart of it, some way, some how. From the Spanish Moss to the Pecan Pie to the buzzing art scene what is not to love? And as the fashion industry reverts back to its southern roots if you are at all into fashion this is the place to be. Savannah is a special place, it will make you feel at home in a heartbeat - even if you are an outsider with no real art experience like me. Moving to Savannah was the greatest decision I have ever made, if you are ever in need of finding yourself I highly suggest pretending to be an art student for a couple of weeks and moving down there.
Like Charleston, I lived in Savannah, but I would highly recommend the Savannah Hilton Desoto. This is where I stayed when I visited and is beautiful, relatively budget friendly, and has a great room service menu. It is right in the heart of the historic district of Savannah and a short walk from the SCAD Admissions building. Like I also said with Charleston, there are many beautiful boutique hotels, but they are more pricy (but also more beautiful!!) and I have never stayed there.
Tour the art galleries. Even if you aren't into the art scene, do it. The SCAD Galleries are great - especially the renewed SCAD Museum of Art, but my all time favorite is the Telfair Jepson Museum. There are many hip galleries that host different events too, so ask your hotel concierge or even just check local Savannah Facebook events!
Cathedral of St. John the Baptist - beautiful!!!
Telfair Jepson Center for the Arts
Bonaventur Cemetery - Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
Skidway Island State Park- little bit of a drive, but worth it
Wormsloe Historic Plantation
Soho South Cafe - so good, so cool
Foxy Loxy - See the art kids in their natural habitat
Leopold's Ice Cream - coconut ice cream
Paris Market - best iced coffee in Sav
Collins Quarter - best brunch + street side coffee bar
Parker's Market- Gas Station? Go. Best fried chicken and treats.
Back in the Day Bakery - "I need a good insta + breakfast..."