If you have ever been a part of a program that allows you to teach abroad, you know the struggle. You work hard, for very little pay, and are somehow supposed to survive out there, 5,000 miles from your family and on your own. This has been the experience of almost everyone I have ever spoken to about teaching English as a Foreign Language abroad and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. Continue reading “How I Make Money While Living Abroad”
Paris has been long considered one of the most romantic cities in the world for more than obvious reasons. It’s the city of beautiful people (many of them look like Marion Cotillard and Guillaume Canet and it’s horrifically unfair to the rest of us gargoyles) and most importantly it is the city of wine, cheese, and bread- if that doesn’t scream romance at you then you and I are not romantically compatible. Which is fine, because that means more bread and cheese for me. Continue reading “How to Do Romance in Paris (on a budget)”
I posted this in last week’s version of the Present Perfect, but I wanted to give this post its own highlight because I am more than a little proud and I think it is good content. I may be biased. I currently have an internship over at Rue Rodier and I have been working on a few writing projects with her over the last few weeks and one of them is finally live!
The (belated) Birthday Week edition of the Present Perfect is here! In addition to procrastinating this post, I celebrated my birthday last Monday; while turning 29 was a little scary, I have ultimately concluded that it will be fine. Just keep repeating it over and over, 29 and feeling fine. 29 and feeling fine.
Despite that conclusion, 29 is weird. Continue reading “the Present Perfect: 3 – February 25th(ish)”
If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you’ll know that I’m not a big planner when it comes to my travel. I like to have the ticket and accommodation booked and maybe a vague idea of one thing I HAVE to do when I go, but other than that, I like to let my trip take me where it wants to. Mostly, I love to go places that locals suggest because I like to get a feel for how people really live.
Before heading to Australia, I asked two friends who have lived down under for suggestions of restaurants/bars/tourist attractions to go to and let me tell you, they did not disappoint.
The one thing that we knew we wanted to do in Melbourne was to get to the Great Ocean Road, so when it popped up on my friend’s lists, I felt good. We planned to rent a car and drive it ourselves over two days so that we could stop and see everything that we wanted to, but one day in Melbourne turned into 5 and suddenly we had 2 days left before flying to Sydney and rental cars were really expensive so we booked a one day tour through Sightseeing Tours Australia.
I have to admit to you, I was not happy about it. I didn’t want to be packed onto a bus with other tourists – I don’t like crowds and I usually don’t like tours where I can’t decide what I want to do or what I want to see, but we were quickly running out of options so I went along with it.
We chose to take this day-long tour that would take us to see all of the big sites along the scenic highway on New Year’s Eve. I was really skeptical about taking this tour because of a negative review on TripAdvisor that was left semi-recently but I ended up being pleasantly surprised.
The day started out gray and windy and as I waited for the bus to pick us up, I was a little nervous, not only because of that review, but I was afraid we wouldn’t be able to see anything good because of the weather and that the whole day would be a waste. But, our tour guide got us on the road quickly and was very sweet, telling us lots of stories, jokes, and information about the various things we were passing and he included lots of interesting Australian history, which I appreciated. At a certain point, he told a story about a shipwreck at Loch Ard Gorge and I found myself shouting “what happened next?” at the end because I wanted to hear more. History nerd. It is worth noting here that the entire tour was in English, so a solid level of English might be helpful if you want to understand and appreciate a lot of the history that you’re being given.
We stopped in a beachside park for a morning tea in Anglesea. Boyfriend and I chose not to stick around at the picnic tables, but instead, we took our coffee and walked along the beach, which was pretty, despite being completely gray. We piled back on to the bus for a little while longer until we arrived at the Great Ocean Road Memorial Arch for a photo op. I probably could have done without this stop, but I understand why it was made – and I did get a photo or two.
After this, we piled back into the van and soldiered on. The view out of the left side of the bus was incredible. If you can sit on the left side, you should. We were sitting on the right side, and while I could still kind of see across the aisle to the fantastic view, I was more than a little jealous of the 8-year-old sleeping with his face pressed against the window.
Our next stop was in Kennett River where we got to take around 45 minutes to try and spot some koalas out in their natural habitat. I was literally so excited about this, I could have died. I don’t like zoos and all of the animal sanctuaries were too far from where we were staying to make it worth it to go, so this was my first (and only) koala spotting and I couldn’t have been happier. We saw 3 koalas sleeping in trees in the park and we were lucky enough to have one wake up and move around a little bit when we got there. My heart. His ears were so fluffy. He looked so sleepy. I love him.
There was also a tree full of parrots that you could feed but I gave that a miss because birds freak me out.
While checking out the koalas and taking some pictures of the lovely coastline, a local on a hike advised us to hike a little bit further up for an even better view and that was the best advice we took all day. It was incredible. Judge for yourself.
After koala heaven, we went to Apollo Bay for lunch (included in the price of the tour). You could eat in the restaurant or take away a pizza. Pro tip: take away a pizza. We sat in the lovely park and got to enjoy the sunshine, and we had enough time afterward to get an ice cream from the award-winning ice-creamery on the main strip. Is ice-creamery a word?
We got back onto the bus and drove to the Maits Rest Rainforest where we went on a semi-guided tour. I wished I had been wearing actual shoes instead of my Birkenstocks because some sort of bug bit my foot and it got kind of swollen and I was immediately thinking about how Martyn would have to tell my parents that I died in Australia and they would be mad at him and at me for not wearing real shoes in the rainforest. I didn’t die, my foot is back to normal size and all is well, so, it really ended up fine and the hike was very cool.
With the rainforest behind us, the next stop was Port Campbell to see the 12 Apostles (of which, there are actually only 9). I had seen photos of these before, and despite the absolute throngs of people with selfie sticks and seemingly no regard for other people (don’t be this person), nothing could compare to being there and seeing these with my eyes. Nature is incredible, my friends.
We ended our day at Loch Ard Gorge which was arguably more beautiful than the 12 Apostles. I got to stick my feet in the water, take some incredible photos and then Martyn lost his phone. Win some, lose some.
We were back in Melbourne by 7:30 and back to our apartment by 8, with plenty of time to watch the New Years Eve fireworks over the city in our pajamas. It was perfect.
Overall, I would 100% recommend the trip that we took and the company that we took it with. It wasn’t the fanciest trip and it was a long day, but for the price we paid, we saw quite a bit, learned a lot, had a nice lunch, and had the added convenience of someone ELSE driving (I haven’t driven since last August and it’s been even longer for boyfriend so it might have gone poorly if we drove it ourselves).
Moral of this story: don’t always believe every angry French woman on TripAdvisor.
Take the tour.
I have so much to say about the year 2017. Despite it being a dumpster fire of a year for politics, women, minorities, foreign policy, the environment, the economy… (I could keep going but I’m really bumming myself out) 2017 was actually pretty good to me when it comes to travel. When 2017 ends, it will have included trips on 3 continents, 6 different countries, and 10 brand new cities, so it feels really hard to complain about my year knowing what an absolute privilege I have to be able to travel this way. 2018 will hopefully be just as epic as I continue towards my goal of 35 countries in 35 years, if you would like to know what I’m hoping 2018 has in store for me, you can find out here.
So without further ado, here is the down and dirty on my 2017 travel:
My 2017 year in travel started by me hopping off a train in Geneva, Switzerland where I got to see the Jet d’Eau before boarding my next train (as we have previously discussed, I’m counting this as a new visited country, deal with it). I accidentally racked up a 20 euro data charge because of Snapchat in the 3 hours I was there. Cool.
I then went skiing in the French Alps in Flaine, France. Skiing is hard. I fell down a lot, cried, and walked down a mountain despite the persistence of the mountain ranger telling me I would be fine if I skied down. This story belongs in its own blog post and will have one in due time.
I finished up January by laugh-crying my way through my maid of honor speech and then catching the bouquet at my best friends wedding in Indianapolis, Indiana. I’m still not married. In case you were wondering.
February included a surprise vacation to Venice, Italy for Valentine’s Day/my birthday with the best travel companion any girl could ask for. I drank 2 euro prosecco and watched men fix gondolas. It was amazing.
March saw me back home again in Indiana getting to watch another one of my best friends walk down the aisle with my best friends from college and then somehow leaving the after-party with 10 mini bottles of champagne.
April had a chilly and windy but ultimately sunny weekend trip to Deauville in the north of France. I did my first cartwheel in years on the beach. It really hurt.
We also had a quick little weekend in London, England – we tested out some new beer, tried an American Barbeque joint (mixed reviews from the American judge) and got to cheer on the London Marathon.
June had the most wonderful midweek trip to Montpellier, France where we stayed at what I have decided is officially the cutest Bed and Breakfast in the world (proof here ) and we got sunburn at the beach.
The first weekend of July blessed us with a gorgeous wedding in the countryside in Normandie, France with my lovely au pair girls. The weekend was made complete with champagne, fireworks and a pushing our car out of the mud in heels at 3am.
The weekend after that I did a day trip to taste champagne and chocolate in Reims, France where we (myself & a group of interns) almost all died a bubbly and glass shardy death when Sabrage went wrong. Photos here (of location, not of our brush with death)
Right before heading back to the states, we were able to squeeze in a mini-break in the fairy-tale paradise and crystal clear blue waters of Annecy, France. This trip included a two-hour boat tour, kayaking and forcing boyfriend to do a pedal boat twice because I loved it so much.
The rest of August saw me catching a return flight home to the states for a few months for visa renewal but mostly for long hugs with friends and family.
When in Indiana, do as the Hoosiers: we fit in a weekend at the family lake house in North Webster, Indiana full of fishing, boating, and being an old woman and doing a needlepoint while enjoying a beer from New Glarus.
August wrapped up with a day spent in the most magical place in the world, Bloomington, Indiana; where I spent the day inexplicably talking peoples ears off and stealing beer glasses.
Labor Day weekend was spent celebrating a beautiful bride to be in some equally beautiful vineyards in Sawyer, Michigan. Our itinerary here.
The following weekend I was able to celebrate another beautiful bride-to-be while still nursing a hangover in Nashville, Tennessee. A vague write-up here.
I also squeezed in a trip to Chicago to actually apply for my visa, but mostly to eat Portillos.
September ended with a return flight back to Paris, France where strangers on the airplane gave me free champagne and I complained about the in-flight entertainment system because I have no chill or perspective.
Another cheeky weekend in London, celebrating the 30th of a friend and eating far too many doughnuts.
Currently writing this from the beautiful, warm, and sunny Melbourne where so far we celebrated Christmas with boyfriends family, watched the famous Ashes, mini-golfed, did a walking tour and went to an outdoor movie theatre. We have a few more days here before we head to Sydney which will not include any sunburn because my mom would kill me, but will most definitely include lots of sunny beers and a beach or two.
All in all, 2017 definitely had a lot of travel high points for me and I am feeling really lucky to be able to share all of them with you.
Where did you go in 2017?
Where should I go next?
Gifting long distances is hard. Gifting is as much about the experience of watching them open the gift as it is the actual giving of a gift so when someone lives an entire ocean away, it can make gift giving and receiving feel difficult or less enjoyable.
For me, this gift giving/receiving stress is multiplied by the knowledge that my apartment is small, my status abroad is temporary, and I have champagne taste on a sparkling grape juice budget.
If you’re wondering what to do in Paris this weekend AND fancy crossing a few things off of your holiday shopping list – read on!
I have good and bad news about this post:
Bad News: I can only find two of my photos from this trip to Nashville. I don’t know if something got messed up in the cloud (not a tech-savvy millennial) or what, but they are all gone.
Good News: This has made me angry so this blog post will be short and sweet with only three or four photos.
*A very special shout out to my friends Jason and Gary who not only let me crash at their house on Thursday night of this bachelorette week-end but then they bailed me out by sending me a few skyline photos from their office building to round out this post*
As seen in my previous blog post about Sawyer, Michigan, I have entered into the age where all my friends are getting married. After only 4 short days to recover from the Big Nasty Weekend, I drove down to Nashville, Tennessee for a second bachelorette party and let me tell you, it was a struggle.
I took my leftover Pedialyte (only pink was left, because like I said in my previous post, pink is gross) and the bottle of apple wine that I bought the weekend before. I planned to take it very easy. That did not happen.
Nashville is an amazing place for a bachelorette party. The people are nice, there are a million bars, the food is excellent, it isn’t crazy expensive – it’s a home run.
Without further ado: here is what we did on our Bachelorette Party in Nashville, Tennessee:
-pizza and games at our adorable airbnb in East Nashville. I tried to find the listing for you, but wasn’t able to. Just search one that sleeps 16 people and you might find it. It was perfect.
-went out to Kung Fu Saloon, left after a while and went down the street to Winners Bar where we watched the bride sing an interesting rendition of Night Moves and then we went BACK to Kung Fu Saloon. Fun fact, I left my credit card at Kung Fu Saloon and several very nice staff members helped me track it down when I realized it the next morning.
-woke up and took the Nashville Party Wagon tour. We had matching shirts, whistles, balloons and even though it was BYOB, we had a great time. I would definitely recommend this. How many other times can you say that a tractor actually pulled you and your friends through a downtown city?
-Lunch and a cocktail at Acme Feed & Seed – if it’s a nice day, you need to go up to their rooftop. It’s a beautiful view of the city and a cool vibe in general. I’m the most angry about this photo being gone.
-Home for a nap/rest/bride discussing potentially getting a tattoo/ bride recruiting people to go get a tattoo with her/everybody backing down from getting a tattoo and then taking a nap instead
-Dinner at Cabana – I have eaten here before, but it is always a good choice. The fried chicken and mashed potatoes were other level and their Peach Tea Cocktail Moonshine is a must.
-Went out to Tootsies (after I swung by Kung Fu Saloon to pick up the ol’ credit card) where the bride had to perform a scavenger hunt, and then wandered over to the Stage for some excellent live music. We hung around after the show and made a few new friends who decided to take us to the Diner, which is apparently where the party continues after-hours. I wish we had more time to stay at the Diner, because it seemed like a really cool place, but I knew I had to be in the car for 5 hours the following day, so I told everyone I needed to head back and we hopped in an uber home.
-brunch at Saint Añejo which went uneaten by me because I didn’t feel well and also am not a huge fan of spicy food. I should have taken the time to order better, but I just wanted to be back in bed.
I had an amazing time in Nashville on this bachelorette weekend, but my only advice to you, dear reader, is do not do back-to-back bachelorettes. It is rough on your wallet, liver, tummy, vocal chords, and dignity.
Back in Bloomington during my senior year, I lived in a house with 8 girls. It was so filthy and obscene that it was affectionately (and appropriately) called the Big Nasty. The house was crooked, had two kitchens, was also home to fleas and I think a mouse, had a wifi network called ‘the frathounds’ and was next door to a half-way house. Despite all of this, it is also home to some of my best and worst college memories. We had strangers wandering the halls, Jimmy John’s sandwiches covered in ants in our front yard, a Gumby costume that made its way out during special events, a big couch that was perfect for snuggling and 5,000 hot dogs filling the freezers. It has been 6 years since we lived in the Big Nasty and our first roommate got married this past weekend.
While I didn’t make it home for the wedding, I was lucky enough to be in the states for her Bachelorette party which was hosted in Sawyer, Michigan over Labor Day Weekend. Continue reading “All My Friends Are Dead – pt.1 Bachelorette Party in Sawyer, Michigan”