8 Tips for Cruising on a Budget

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St. Thomas, USVI

Nowadays when it comes to vacationing it seems almost impossible to get away without throwing away your entire pit of savings. Recently, my family and I have really enjoyed cruising because you get to see many different places, there’s always something to do, and there always seems to be something to do that appeals to each of us.

The only problem with cruising is somehow no matter what we do, we always end up with some sort of ridiculous bill at the end. I would say that is the biggest downfall to a cruise vacation, for what going in can seem very budget friendly (if you can find a cruise special for under 300 and flights for 200 or can drive to port you could potentially go on a 5-7 day getaway for around 500 per person).

That being said, as I stated earlier, cruises always have a magical way to get you to fork over ridiculous amounts of cash. More recently it seems as though around every corner on the boat there is some sort of costly temptation whether it be drinks, excursions, gift shop, sweet shops, or specialty dining.

Because of this, I have compiled a list of ways to enjoy your cruise and not break the bank and or potentially not spend any additional money.

1. Look for Cruise Specials

Okay so this one is obvious, and often times this isn’t really an option for everyone because most of the time the sailing date is often at a weird time. However, if you find yourself with a flexible schedule, you may be able to find a cruise that may cost $500+ during a summer month for $200-$300 per person in January. If are traveling with let’s say a family of five, saving $200 per person could save you $1000 in the long run.

2. Find a Departure port within driving distance

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Charleston, South Carolina

Once again, this option may not really work for everyone. If you are departing from a city in the middle of the USA it may just not really be possible to make the drive to a port city. That being said, I know I would personally be willing to drive max 10 hours away, so in that situation I would actually have a lot of options. Although you would still have to pay for gas tolls etc. that would probably maximally come to about $200 total. Once again, if you think about a family of five going on vacation and you get a flight for anywhere from $200 to $500 per person, you could potentially save yourself anywhere from $800 to $2300 dollars.

3. Fly out of a major airport

So this is for those who driving really isn’t an option to. You can save a lot of money on flights if you simply just fly from the nearest major airport to you. Living near Philadelphia I kind of luck out that within two hours I have several major airports. However, let’s say you live in Rochester New York, I can almost guarantee you that if you that if you look to fly out of the local airport it is going to cost you. Instead be open to flying out of other airports such as Buffalo, Syracuse, Toronto, or even the Niagara Falls Airport for flights with discount airlines such as Spirit or Allegiant. If you are willing to drive around two hours to an airport you could save a significant penny.

4. Look for cruise ports that won’t require you to book an excursion

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San Juan, Puerto Rico

This a really big one considering excursions can range anywhere from like $30 per person to $200+ per person. That being said I have done excursions that were worth every single penny– but that is not the point. The point of this is sticking to a budget. A couple of ports I would recommend would be Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos; Isla Roatan, Honduras; Havana, Cuba; Nassau, Bahamas; Catalina Island, California; San Juan, Puerto Rico, Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic; or any time the cruise ship mentions going to their private island. These ports have either had a beach or the city right there so you can just get off the boat and immediately be right where you want to be and explore without having to spend an extra dollar.

5. Be careful at the bar

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Charleston, South Carolina

Okay I’ll be honest this one can be tough. Obviously the most cost effective solution is to not drink but as most of us are cruising for vacation, this really isn’t an option. I have seen drinks at the bars on boat range anywhere from around $7 to $11+. If you choose to pay for drinks as you go you could save $100+ just by getting one of the less expensive drinks on the menu. Another option the cruise is going to tempt you with is going to be to buy a drink package. Basically, you would pay around $55 dollars a day and you get like 10 or 15 drinks a day included. I would definitely recommend this if you plan on getting at least 7 drinks a throughout the course of the day or if you enjoy really fancy drinks such as martinis.

If you plan on going on a vacation where you are going to be drinking quite a bit, cruise lines such as Norwegian now have some cruises where all the alcohol is included. So you literally just walk up to the bar and they give you whatever you like. Or anytime a server comes by with a tray of drinks you can try whatever you would like to try. This is also nice because if you get a drink you don’t like you don’t have to feel so bad about not finishing it.

6. Eat On-Board when you are at port

The best thing about the cruise is that you literally have unlimited food within an arm’s reach ALL THE TIME and…. IT’S FREE! So if you want to save a chunk of money on your days at port simply eat on the boat right before you go, explore– maybe get a small snack, drink, or a local favorite, get back on the boat and then fill up on all that good free food again. Going back to my family of five scenario, let’s say for everyone to get lunch at port it costs $100. If you go to three different ports you could save yourself a good $300 dollars.

That being said, I do understand that some places you go there are food you are going to want to try. However, if you opt for a couple small snacks, this little trick will still save you a lot of money!

7. Only allow select members of your group spending privileges

This one more pertains to families, but when you are on the boat your room key becomes your form of payment. When you book your cruise you will have the option to choose who in your party has the ability to make charges on their card. My next tip will kind of get into this more but the boat is going to have a lot of ways where it is easy to swipe your card and pay for something stupid and if only one or two people have access to making charges, it is a lot easier to control what, when, and how money is spent.

8. Avoid all the ‘extras’

This one could probably be the most difficult. Like I stated in the beginning, every corner on the boat there is some sort of option to spend extra money. This can include but is not limited to shopping, specialty dining, a sweet shop, arcade, a casino, and even classes. Long story short, if you want to save a good amount of money I would just straight up avoid all the above because I can tell you from experience you really aren’t missing much.

So if you are planning your next vacation but finding yourself on a rather tight budget, cruising could be a really great option for you! By following the tips listed above you can make sure you actually stick to that budget.

Got any other suggestions or think I’ve made a mistake? Leave it in the comments?

Need help planning your next vacation??  Leave me comment!

xoxo

 

Work Chronicles: Kindness Matters

Happy 2019!!

So a new thing I think I’m going to start writing about more are certain scenarios that happen at work. In October I started working at the front desk of a local Homewood Suites by Hilton and almost everyday encounter different situations that leave me thinking longer than after the moment ends.

The past couple weeks I have not been able to stop thinking about the concept of kindness in regards to how easy it is to show kindness to people and how often it seems as though people just unfortunately don’t get to be treated kindly.

I’m going to begin by explaining the story that initially inspired this post.

At some point between Christmas and New Years I had a family staying with two boys who seemed like the could be somewhere from nine to thirteen years old. Immediately after check in the kids began to walk into our little store to pick out some snacks. As the parents remained in the lobby waiting for them the older of the two boys calls out to his parents and ask them what kind of ice cream they would like. After his parent questions him he simply responds that he wanted to buy ice cream for everyone to enjoy.

So immediately this sounds like a super generic story– someone buying ice cream– yippee. However I was initially intrigued when the young boy decided this and at no point demanded his parents buy him an ice cream. Instead his first thought was to think of what everyone else wanted before he picked out what he had wanted. The other reason I was intrigued was because literally everyday I see kids walk into our little snack shop and demand their parents buy them sweets and in some situations, through a fit when they do not get their way.

Next, when the boy goes to pay he hands me a debit card that almost seems like it is some sort of visa card he probably received as a Christmas gift. As I go to put it through the system the card declines. At this point, however, I truly was feeling touched by how this boy wanted to do something nice for his family and told him he could have the treats and not to worry about it.

The boy was shocked. He was in complete disbelief that someone was going to allow him to have these things without paying. As well, this was not the fake shock people do when they have almost manipulated a way to get something for free– this was genuine surprise– because every time this boy came down to buy snacks and I gave him a discount or a discounted price he was still in disbelief. At one point later in the night he even came back down after he found out that his younger brother had taken something without asking/paying to offer payment for the treat and to apologize.

Now I am not saying that in order to be kind you have to give things away for free. What I am trying to more or less get to is that first, that kindness inspires more kindness, and yes my effort of kindness where to let this boy have some snacks on the house but more importantly, that a boy, so young has already learned to not expect kindness from others; you can demand and beg to get what you want but by simply being a good person you get nowhere. You can be cruel and nasty and have everything you want but by putting others first you end up a step back.

How sad.

So this brings me to my next story that left me speechless for a moment. Similar what I learned from the previous story, this one features some kids who had learned not to expect kindness from other people.

After returning to work from vacation I just so happened to look in my drawer at work to find a big yellow envelope. Honestly at first I was nervous to open as I was expecting to see some sort of complaint- not that I had done something I thought someone would be unhappy about but often times people are more likely to let someone know when they are dissatisfied versus satisfied.

Instead, I open this envelope to find thank you cards that ended up being from kids who had stayed at our property. To be completely honesty, when I first read through the thank you notes I almost didn’t remember these kids. After reading the notes to me from the kids listing very specific things I did I finally remembered. The reason I had trouble remembering the kids was because I couldn’t remember doing something that deserved a thank you like this.

The notes gave thanks for me putting out more hot chocolate and hot water for them, and giving them some treats for less than the listed price in our snack shop.

It truly shows that you never know how your actions are going to affect people. In the cards that kids wrote that I was the nicest hotel worker they have ever met. This is simply not true. However, these kids only elementary or middle school aged had once again already learned that when they go someone they should not expect kindness and I am so honored and happy that I was able to show them that this doesn’t have to be true.

Kindness matters. Simple as that. You don’t have to do crazy acts to show kindness but by simply trying to do a good job you can out a positive effect on someone else without even knowing.

So if you have read to this point here is your little reminder to do something nice for someone today. It doesn’t have to be giving something to someone for free but by keeping a smile of you face as you walk around, or saying hello to someone you pass by,  or holding the door you can have the biggest impact on someones day or even have the ability to change someone’s life.

xox Hannah

05.25.17 Village Bake Shoppe vs. DiCamillo Bakery, Lewiston, NY

This blog pertains to a hard-hitting, potentially controversial issue. If you are a fellow pastry enthusiast like me, read on. For the sake of the general public and journalism I made it my mission today to do a little Lewiston, NY pastry taste test.

I sampled two bake shops I have never tried: DiCamillo Bakery and Village Bake Shoppe. My goal today was to pick a winner and help give some insight as to which shop you may prefer.

So here we go.

I started off at Village Bake Shoppe (no particular reason, it was just closer to where I parked). As soon as you walk in you notice an extensive counter and a variety of seating. I was a little surprised, but at the same time happy to find out that not only do they have pastries, but they also serve lunch, breakfast, PIES, and other sweet treats.

Initially I my thought process was to get items that I thought I would easily be able to compare to the other. Ultimately that didn’t go as planned, but oh well. From each place I picked two things, so yes I will indeed be hitting the gym later.

From Village Bake Shoppe I chose a cherry turnover and a cannoli. The selection of goodies here definitely seemed to be more geared to sweet treats rather that the typical pastry items I was sort of expecting (not complaining though).

I’ll start with the cherry turnover.IMG_2873

To be honest, I would not get this again and I really wouldn’t recommend it. It took a couple of bites to get to the cherry filling, and in my opinion, they went a little too skimpy on the cherry. This was very doughy and the pastry part was neither flakey nor had a lot of flavor, unfortunately. In the shop I was immediately drawn to this because it reminded me of pastries I tried while I was backpacking through Europe. Lets just say it wasn’t anything near comparable. The only reason I continued to eat it was because I was trying to convince myself I would like it.

IMG_2872On to the cannoli.

This was great! I don’t know why I decided to buy a cannoli in the first place because I usually don’t like them. I think I just continue trying them because they look so stinking pretty and that makes me want to like it. This one was actually delicious! The filling had a really tasty flavor and the filling to shell ratio was perfect, in my opinion. You could taste the gentle sweetness as well as the subtle flavor influences from the ricotta and a slight cinnamon/nutmeg flavor, but in a way that none overpowered the other. 10/10 would recommend.

I paid a total of 6.48 for both goodies, but I am guessing the cannoli was what upped my total a bit. Personally I think this is a tad pricey but not horrible.

I walked a quick two blocks to DiCamillo Bakery and was once again a little surprised when I walked in. This was what you would imagine when you think up a small town bake shop. Here they feature more breads and a couple of sweet treats. The selection was a little bit smaller but they still had plenty to choose from. As well, there did not appear to be any seating in here.

I decided to go with a snickerdoodle cookie and a cheese Danish. Both of these items are some of my favorites when I enter a bake shop so unfortunately my expectations were a little bit high. As well, the snickerdoodle cookie from orange cat (about a block away) is one of my favorites so I was doing another test there.

I’ll start with the snickerdoodle cookie.IMG_2871

Similar to the cherry turnover, I was not impressed… at all. The cookie was rather hard, and not in a good was. I literally took one bit and put it back in the bag to eat later (yes I am still going to eat it). Too be honest I don’t have much more to say about that cookie other than it tasted like sadness.

Finally, the cheese Danish.

IMG_2870I’ll just cut to the chase, this was INCREDIBLE, seriously. I don’t really mess around when it comes to Danishes so I would like to think I am a rather reliable source on this judgment. The pastry part was super tasty and the perfect combination of flaky yet doughy consistency (I am by no means a baker so sorry for my funky lingo). The filling is what really sold me though. Holy moly. It was the perfect sweetness mixed with just the right amount of savory for more umami in the mouth. The best part was this sucker was huge and I have no shame in saying I ate the whole thing without thinking twice. I would 100% be going back there to get it again, my only hesitation is that there was no place to really sit in there. Next time I would probably get one and then walk down to the waterfront.

The best part about this place was for both things it only cost be 3.29, which I thought was very reasonable.

All in all I would say if you are looking for something more tradional, go for DiCamillo Bakery, if you are looking to treat yourself a bit more head to Village Bake Shoppe. The overall pastry winner for me was hand down the Danish. I would say the cannoli was just as good, I am just extremely biased toward Danishes.

As far as shops go I would vote Village Bake Shoppe because I really liked how you could sit there and enjoy whatever you got if you wanted to.

I think I may have to try this experiment again and instead as the worker what they recommend and do a comparison that way.

Four pastries later, I think it’s time for me to hit the gym!

Hope you all have a wonderful day!

Hannah

04.22.17 Taste of Niagara Falls

This past Saturday I had the luxury of being able to eat out three times. So this may not have been the best thing for me but I was happy to have been able to revisit one of my favorite places in the area, as well as try out some new restaurants.

First off, I am very proud to say that this summer I will be interning at Old Falls Street in Niagara Falls doing Event Planning and Marketing. Because of that, on Saturday I had my first day of job training. Little did I know that at the end they were going to treat us to lunch. We went to a place called 3rd street retreat, which has been open for I think a little over a year now.

I was very excited to try it as I had heard a lot of good things about it. Thank god I went there with my work because I would have got totally lost if I had tried to find it myself. This restaurant is neatly tucked out of the way under an apartment building. Don’t let that deter you from coming to this hidden gem, I was shocked at how cute the interior of this restaurant is, as well as how amazing the menu was! Seriously, I think I am going to make a goal for myself to eat through the entire menu before I graduate. I don’t think there was one item on the menu I didn’t want to try. On top of that they have daily specials and the prices are extremely reasonable. There menu features all day breakfast and a vast variety of sandwiches as well as salads and a few other things.

For my lunch I chose one of there specials: fish tacos. As I ate I thought of my Dad who says if he doesn’t know what to order he always chooses fish tacos if available. Today I was thankful for these words of wisdom because by entrée was incredible! The fish tacos featured breaded haddock, a spicy slaw, and some sort of pineappleish salsa.

As my training finished, I found myself back in my car with a slue of messages from my friends asking if I wanted to go to the silo because it had just opened for the season. Even though I had just ate, the silo is simply one of those restaurants I can’t say no to. The Silo is a seasonal restaurant in Lewiston, NY that was made famous by Man vs. Food for its Haystack sandwich.

This sandwich is one of those things that when I explain probably never makes sense why I am so in love with them, so if you are reading this and are still skeptical you will just have to trust me and try one.

Basically it is shredded sort of beef with mozzarella cheese and I think a little mayo topped with the haystack variety of potato chips. The best part, in my opinion, is the Silo also makes a vegetarian version, which tastes exactly the same (Go Silo!!). There is also something special about enjoying this sandwich with the waterfront view of the river, outside on a nice spring, summer, or autumn day with great company. The best part? If you still have room after you meal there is an ice cream place right next door, which features a variety of sundaes and more ice cream flavors than you could have even imagined existed.

I would be 100% lying if I said I didn’t get ice cream after. Too be honest, I really don’t think I was even hungry anymore, actually, I know wasn’t hungry. There was simply just this sensation inside of me that made me feel as though I needed it. Like this gravitational pull to the ice cream place, I like to believe that in that moment there was a similar dependency between the shop, and me like in that moment we both just simply needed each other.

Okay so enough about that, on to the next one.

Probably a week ago or so, a friend had mentioned to us that there is a taco place (Colosso taco) in Niagara Falls that is opened 24/7. I’m not going to get into details about how we ended up there, but we were excited to eat at a 24/7 place that wasn’t McDonalds.

To be honest, I can’t necessarily say I was 100% impressed. Compared to chains, I wouldn’t say that this place was anything special and the prices also weren’t necessarily brilliant. That being said the prices were decent and the food was good, just not great—especially compared to the food I had tried earlier.

I decided to try the Chicken tender taco, which as I said, was good but not great. I think next time I’ll just go to mighty taco if it is open and I am in need of a taco.

It was an exciting day of trying and getting to eat at all sorts of different restaurants in the Niagara Falls region. As well school year comes to a close I look forward to being able to try more local places and share with you which ones are my favorites!

Have a great day!

xxHannah

04.21.2017 Kiwi and coffee?

Kiwi, caramel, and coconut in a latte? Yes you read correctly!

Orange Cat in Lewiston does it again. Absolutely Delicious.

This morning I found myself with the need to have a little sweet indulgence, so naturally I thought of Orange Cat coffee in Lewiston, New York. Usually when I simply get one of there flavored coffees of the day, sometimes accompanied with one of their incredible cookies and muffins.

Today, however, I decided to treat myself to a specialty latte and one of there to die for cookies. This is where the title of this blog comes in to play. On there menu you will find a variety of I guess what you could say are ‘standard flavors’, however, tucked in the middle you will see one with kiwi, coconut, and caramel. Me being me, I was so curious I just had to try it! I have been loving the coconut cold brew at Starbucks and I love caramel but the fact that it also used kiwi intrigued me.

Lets just say I was not disappointed. This latte was the perfect little treat to start off a happy little Friday. As for the flavor it was a little too sweet for may day-to-day needs, however like I said today was one of those treat yourself days. The flavor is interesting because you can definitely pick up on the caramel and subtle coconut flavor, but then I think the kiwi almost brings a little extra element of acidity and sweetness—definitely not extremely noticeable but at the same time, if you didn’t have it in there I think you would definitely pick up a difference.

As far as the cookies go I really don’t think you can go wrong! I am simply so in love with their snicker doodle one that I have yet to try another. The other really cool thing about all their food is that it is all vegan. Truly, you would never know; in fact I actually didn’t order food there because I assumed it was all too good to be vegan—common misunderstanding.

All in all, Orange cat is definitely one of my favorite places to go to when I want to treat myself or just get something to brighten my day. I love going to a local owned place because you can get these little specialties such as kiwi in a latte or mouth-watering vegan goodies. If you are within reasonable distance to Lewiston, New York, you definitely need to make a stop!

Have a great day!

xxHannah

02.02.17 The Universal Language of the Cappuccino

So for those of you who don’t know, I went on a solo-backpacking trip through Europe over the course of 11 days over my Thanksgiving break. I had the absolute blessing of being able to travel to 8 countries, 7 of them new to me. Out of the man lessons I learned, one thing that stood out to me is 1. If there was a universal language the word ‘cappuccino’ would be in it. 2. Whenever I feel awkward and don’t know what to do with myself I find myself in the nearest coffee shop ordering a cappuccino.

Now, some of you might say, Hannah, aren’t you vegan? How did you drink cappuccinos? To that I would like to respond with when you are by yourself and menus are written in a Cyrillic or Greek alphabet you have to make the call to either try to figure out a way to explain no dairy or eggs, or you can just go for it. In this situation, I just went for it. I will say that throughout the whole time; however, I never found myself feeling like I really missed these dairy products I was consuming, which was reassuring to me.

 

Okay so now we begin my journey through Europe: one Cappuccino at a time.

 

Sofia, Bulgaria

Long story short, when I got to my hostel I was told that I needed to stay at the sister hostel just a short walk away. Fortunately this walk helped orient me in this new city and also showed me where the main shopping and eating street, ‘Vitosha’, is After getting to the hostel, and being shown my room, I had one of my first chances to take my backpack that I had been carrying around for literally past 24 hours off. I can’t lie, from here I fell asleep in my bed and didn’t wake up till about 4am the next day (thanks jetlag).

img_0111So the next morning I made it my mission to start my day off with a cappuccino from one of the cute cafes on Vitosha street, which I could enjoy sitting in one of the outside, covered patios. I never would have been able to predict how intimidating it is to walk into a café and order a coffee from places where the signs are completely foreign. Seriously. The first café I went into I got embarrassed when the lady told me I had to pay with cash, and left. So now, not only am I on a hunt for coffee, but also an atm. Long story short I found and atm and eventually built up to enter a café that wasn’t that crowded and also allowed me to sit outside.

So basically I walk into this café, take a deep breath, look the man behind the counter in the eyes and say cappuccino please. This is when I had my first inkling that ‘cappuccino’ was going to be a go to of mine. So I grab my drink and head outside to people watch in the covered patio situated outside on the main street.

As I am sipping my beverage watching the average person go about their day-to-day life I sort of remember that I haven’t had this much dairy in one sitting since august. There is a good chance that in oh lets say 15 minutes I will be up running from this café to find the closest bathroom. I guess that was my price to pay for going against my vegan ways for a couple of days. Long story short I was fine and was able to enjoy this delicious cappuccino before a long day of walking, site seeing, and getting a sample of Bulgarian culture.

Athens, Greece

My time in Athens was very short, quite literally 24 hours, but I believe I made it extremely worthwhile. In my taxi from the airport to my hostel, I was fortunate enough to have a driver that gave me a whole bunch of tips and things to try during my time here. He told me I had to the coffee shop chain ‘Coffee Island’ and try a local special called a Cappuccino Freddo. So that beverage became my coffee mission for Athens.img_7330

When you are walking on the street up to the Acropolis, there is a road called Makrigianni. Here you will find a whole bunch of restaurants and shops. The Coffee Island I went to was here, basically right across from the Acropolis metro stop.

So this cappuccino is an iced drink. Instead of milk that blends in easily, the espresso is topped with a very thick, sweet cream. The cream is almost the consistency of a custard and tastes absolutely incredible. Definitely the kind of drink you would save for a dessert or if you are really in need of a sweet kick but 100% worth it.

I walked with my drink down to a bench next to Hadrian’s Arch and the temple of Zeus and enjoyed this refreshing yet decadent beverage whilst once again, people watching and reflecting on all this things I was able to do thus far on my trip.

Paris, France

The tale of the voyage of the cappuccino continues. It was here that I began the ‘lets order a cappuccino because I don’t know what else to do trend. It was started out in the Paris airport. As I walked through the baggage claim exit, I was expecting my passport to be stamped and it just so happened that no one did. So I quickly texted my dear mother and asked if I should be worried. As I waited for a response my café raider seemed to have turned on because I instantly saw a Relay café where I had my first cappuccino in Paris. This cappuccino was honestly nothing too special, but like I said before, stay tuned for a trend to follow. I guess you could say this beverage was also necessary because I was meeting a friend who was studying abroad in France that night and needed any little extra boost of caffeine I could get.

On to the next morning.

img_0390Before my trip I had joked with my family that my Thanksgiving dinner was going to be a Pain-aux-chococolat and a cappuccino. Being that today was Thanksgiving, that was my mission. That morning I was meeting my friend at the Notre Dame so I left a little bit early so I could stop in at a patisserie on my way to the metro station from my hostel. I conveniently passed the café ‘AM Martinho’ so I popped in for my desired Thanksgiving meal and the opportunity to test my French.

I was able to successfully avoid embarrassment and ordered my breakfast in French. Feeling like a champion, I walked out of the café and proceeded to the metro, sipping what tasted like victory, or a cappuccino. Happy Thanksgiving to me.

The next morning was bye-bye to France and hello Croatia for me. In typical Hannah fashion, I arrived to the airport very early. But as you can probably guess, that means one more cappuccino and two more pastries for Hannah. I should probably apologize to the French people for being the reason why they need to restock their espresso bars and pastry shelf but hey, it had to be done.

Zagreb, Croatia

I got to Zagreb around 4 and made it to my hostel around 6. I spent 2 nights in Croatia However, my time was mainly spent in the evenings because I took morning bus trips to both Ljubljana and Graz (stay tuned).img_0658

The next morning I was taking the bus to Graz Austria just for the morning and afternoon. My first cappuccino experience occurred at the Bus station where I happily arrived early to enjoy a delicious pastry and cappuccino at the café called Dubravica. In my opinion, what better way to pass time than indulging? Luckily I was doing more than enough walking everyday to make up for it. Heck, even if I wasn’t I would still have no regrets. No pastry or Cappuccino left behind.

As you can imagine, the next morning followed the same way. I left my hostel a little extra early and sampled a different pastry and yet another cappuccino.

Graz, Austria

img_7944img_7932What a beautiful little city. My morning started out with me finding my way from the Bus station to where the town square area was. I immediately saw to a hill/ mountain you could go to the top and found drawn to it like a magnet. After my climb it was time for a reward, which was my lunch. I walked around the square and considered many tasty options I chose to sit outside at the café/ restaurant AUER, situated right in the square surrounded my many shops with gorgeous architecture and detailing, as well plenty of people for to fancy my people watching obsession. With it I enjoyed a delicious little sandwich, which it is possible may have even been vegan.

Ljubljana, Slovenia

This was my favorite stop; however also the shortest stop my entire trip. This city was quite literally something from my dreams and honestly, I wasn’t going to go because the bus left at 7 am and I would return around 3:30. But like I said 100% worth it.

The walk from the bus station to the old city area was quick and easy. I roamed around for a little bit getting a lay of the land while also making quick decisions as to what I wanted to do with my short time here. After finding myself in constant awe from the beauty of the town during my walk around I found a café situated on a street where there was what appeared to be a little flea marketimg_8077.

Prior to entering the café I walked into a convenience sized grocery store where for literally about 2 Euros I walked out with two different pastries. Then I proceeded into the shop, ordered my cappuccino, and enjoyed it outside with my pastries, watching the locals interact in this charming town.

While I was at the bus station, I got a little bit hungry again because I took another hike up a mountain to see a castle. At the bus station, my choice of food was McDonalds, however I wasn’t really upset because I quite enjoy trying seeing how it differs from in America. You can probably predict the next sentence, so yes, I did order a cappuccino with my meal. The funny part about this one is that I had planned to eat my meal on the bus back to Zagreb.

Unfortunately the spot where I was supposed to catch my bus from wasn’t necessarily clear so here I am carrying my backpack, purse, a salad, a bag with a pastry, and a coffee back and forth along the length of the bus terminal looking for a bus that said to Zagreb. After a couple laps up and back I eventually got on my bus but I could only imagine how silly I looked thinking what would happen if I missed my bus while holding on to this McDonald’s for dear life, while also making sure I don’t lose my bus ticket.

Once on the bus though, I was able to take a deep breath again and sip this McDonald’s coffee in a state of bliss.

Warsaw, Poland

I arrived at my hostel in Warsaw around 8pm and honestly I was exhausted so I basically went straight to bed. The next morning I wanted to find breakfast at a local coffee shop. I took a walk through the old town area and told myself I had to pick place before I arrived back at my hostel. I passed several Costa Coffees and Café Neros, however, I really wanted to go to a place that wasn’t a chain.

img_8188I found myself in a small café called café trackt ordering a tasty almond flavored pastry in addition to my cappuccino. It was much colder here so I enjoyed my breakfast in the warmth of the café. After this, I took another walk through the old town, venturing a little further this time and got myself lunch. After this I walked and checked in to the hostel I would be staying at for this night.

img_0990At this point, I was at this awkward time where it wasn’t really appropriate to eat dinner yet I had done enough walking so I decided gee, I better try one of the chains. Into the next café nero I went and honestly I may as well have just gone to dinner. I ordered a medium cappuccino and this huge slice of apple pie with a meringue on top. I can not begin to explain how good it was but I also laugh at myself because I was avoiding eating dinner early yet here I am ordering a slice of decadent pie probably bigger that my face. But like I said this was a voyage of the cappuccino/ no pastry left behind mission. It had to happen.

The next morning I successfully took the polish metro to the airport and rewarded myself with not just a cappuccino but a mocha cappuccino. Yes, a Mocha cappuccino. I would like to say I was stepping out of my comfort zone but really this was one of those machines where you simply press the button of what you want and your beverage is dispensed because I was in a convenience store. Poland you were so good to me.

Riga, Latvia

Alright so my final stop, you can only imagine what happens here. This was my last chance to leave no pasty and no cappuccino behind. How American of me. Indulge, Indulge, Indulge.

The first cappuccino I drank here is kind of a funny story but also not at all. I was following my screen-shot on my phone of the directions from the hostel website and ultimately ended up walking the completely wrong direction for about 5 minutes. My intuition started to kick in and I ended up turning around. However, about 2 blocs before I got back to where I started my phone had died. I’m not going to lie I began to worry a little bit. So what do I do?

Fortunately the bus stop I was supposed to get off at was a mall, which happened to have a costa coffee at. I had a feeling that they would most likely have an outlet and I would be able to recharge my phone. So in I went, found a seat near an outlet and let my phone begin charging as I specifically ordered a large cappuccino. Yes, I ordered a large. I figured my the time I finished it I would not only know where I was going, but also be more calm. Fortunately I figured it out and was able to not only enjoy the rest of my day in Riga, but also fall in love with the city.

img_1104The next morning would be last morning waking up in Europe. I new I needed to wake up an extra hour early so I could get one last coffee shop visit in. Into another Costa Coffee I went and got myself a caramel macchiato a slice of cake and a muffin. If you were wandering if the barista looked at me like I was crazy, you thought correctly. But, no shame in my game. This ended up being the best piece of cake I have consumed in my entire 20 years of existence plain and simple, no questions asked. I was also able to save the muffin I ordered for the airplane, which ended up being perfect!

Is it ironic to say that my over-caffeinated, over sugared self left that café feeling bittersweet? My cappuccino voyage had come to an end and let me tell you, absolutely no pastry was left behind. So if you’re ever feeling lost or like no one understands you, simply walk into a coffee shop and say cappuccino, you’ll be quite surprised.

If you want to read more, hopefully I will have the rest of the blogs about the places I visited up within the next week!

Have a glorious day!

Hannah xx

10.19.16 Hannah’s life update

Okay so the title of this makes it sound like I am about to announce something super dramatic but I am not. I just want to give a little update about what sorts of things I have been up to since, besides my post about Vermont, I haven’t blogged since Thailand.

I mentioned in the last blog that I would give a little life update and right now I am currently in the mood to procrastinate in the library before getting my work done… So here we go.

As I sort of began to talk about in the last blog, the first time I went grocery shopping by myself I made the decision that I was going to buy only vegan food and test it out for the first week- week and half. This has been something I have really been wanting to do for a while and now it just seemed to be the perfect time because I get to be 100% in control of what eat. Another mini-update… I am also living in a house off campus with 6 people, therefore I am buying all my groceries and doing all my own cooking.

The challenge with going vegan when I was at home is that I would feel bad making my mom cook something basically completely different. My family has already been extremely accommodating with me being a vegetarian; however, I think that this is just something that would be better for me to get used to on my own so I can already have most of the details figured out about what good meals are for me.

Anyways, I have made my very best attempt at eating a vegan diet for the last month and half. Yes I have messed up a couple times but I can honestly say my intention was fully there, it just so happened that after the fact I learned that “Oh, this product actually have dairy” or “Oh looks they made this with cheese even though I asked for no cheese.”

I have made some incredible dishes too and am loving coming up with new recipe ideas and such. One thing I am hoping to progress to in this blog is actually sharing things like my recipes, favorite meals, taste tests, and what I buy when I go shopping.

Ultimately I want to also start a Youtube channel and do tings such as sampling like 12 different kinds of vegan veggie burgers, which would also be accompanied by a blog post. At this point I am really open to doing whatever. I just think that this is information people sort of look for because being a vegan in college, on a college diet can be hard—especially if you are in transition and kind of have no idea what you are doing (like me).

So the next thing I’m going to be working on is, as of yesterday, I am working on doing things that make me uncomfortable. Because I really need to work on getting out of my comfort zone and breaking through these boundaries because I need to stop holding myself back. I have come to realize that anything that could potentially make me stand out in a crowd is something that makes me uncomfortable. So, I am trying out things like auditioning for solos in the acapella club I am involved in on campus. I honestly have no real intention of getting this solo, my main goal is to make it so one day I get up in front of a room full of people and my hands don’t shake and I don’t start sweating profusely.

That was the start of my mission to do things that make me uncomfortable. Yesterday when I was at rehersal I told myself, “Okay Hannah when they ask who wants to audition for the solo just raise your hand.” That is the hardest part for me. The actual action of saying I am going to do it. So I went with the group out to the other room to audition and immediately as I began to sing I could feel the shaking in my voice. After I was done I literally couldn’t get my hands to stop shaking. I really don’t understand why I get so nervous in that situation because I literally make an idiot out of myself on a daily basis doing simple tasks. Why is it that something I am actually relatively decent at makes me so nervous? Well, it just so happens that they ended up giving the solo to me, so that’s going to be a whole new battle to face next rehearsal—and an even bigger wall to break down when we perform because I know my friends want to come to the performance and maybe only 2 of them have actually heard me sing. Well, this just means I will have more probably embarrassing stories to share with you all.

Today I knew I was going to work out clothes to school so I could exercise after class and I forced myself to put on my neon pink exercise leggings instead of muted blue, grey, or black ones. I have legitimately never worn these pants in public before and that is honestly ridiculous of me to say because I really like the pants and I paid for them. This ones a little less drastic; however, in my opinion it still definitely counts for me because it required me to do something that felt a little bit awkward and out of my norms.

My goal isn’t necessary to do something every day but I think if I have to opportunity to do something of my usual habits or choose the option that makes me step out of my comfort zone I will make myself choose the more difficult option. I think if once a week I can do one big uncomfortable task (like auditioning for the solo) then that would be helpful to me.

Hopefully by doing this I will gain a little more self-confidence because I still find a bit of difficulty when it comes to believing in myself and believing that me alone is good enough. I have come a long way but to lose a little bit of this sense of hesitation would kind of be nice. And if maybe by sharing this I can encourage one other person to do something out of their comfort zone then that is definitely a success! You don’t have to start big, what comfortable to you may be uncomfortable to someone else and what makes you uncomfortable may make someone else feel perfectly okay and it is important to know that that is okay. Maybe your first step is just saying hello to a stranger you pass on the street. Maybe it signing up for something you would normally be scared to do but have always wanted to. Whatever it is, it is important you do it because the fact that it scares you is even more the reason why you should do it.

Well, I think that’s all for now, I kind of went off on a bit of a tangent but Oh well, it’s my blog I can do what I want. J I’m going to try to blog more frequently now to update you on my eating uncomfortable chronicles. As well, hopefully I have some more adventures to share with you all soon. This girl is craving some adventure.

Well, have wonderful days or nights!!!

Hannah