Three years ago I traveled to Guatemala for service learning during my undergraduate studies. I’ve realized it was a disservice to not have posted these pictures on any of my social media. My next post will overview some of my favorite places to go to in Panama. My family is from Panama, and I know a few hidden gem spots / must-try foods. More travel posts coming soon, I’ll begin solo travels during the late Spring and summer once classes end. ❤
This morning I visited Howth for the first time with new friends. I recommend taking a trip there from Dublin because it’s a fast journey via DART (train) and supremely scenic. The water is a gorgeous blend of turquoise and dark blue. Together, we walked the Cliff Path Loop and then went to The Bloody Stream restaurant.
The Bloody Stream is very Irish — it has a fireplace, pub, and looks dark and cozy. Plus, it’s conveniently right next to the DART station. I ordered fish and chips to review.
The presentation looked as appetizing as it was convenient with the paper bag sheet to soak up the fish’s excess oil. I rate it 5/5. The fish itself was large and fresh, but the batter did not stick to the meat and tasted a bit too oily. I give the fish a 3 out of 5. The fries (chips) were perfect, crispy yet potatoey. I rate them 5 out of 5. Overall score: I added points given that they included iconic mushy peas to the meal, I rate this 14.50 euro meal 4.6 out of 5. I wish the fish had a bit more flavor and less oil. Still, I recommend this restaurant for a visit. It’s the type of place most envision when they think of an “Irish pub” — very classic. ❤
I’ve gotten box braids with extensions done three times now. The first time I got the style installed was in North Carolina. The stylist made the braids skinnier than I anticipated and used *gasp* 20 packets of hair!
I loved the results of this first experience. The hair was not too itchy and the quality of it was nice. The braiding process hurt because of the weight of the style. Plus, it made falling asleep comfortably an impossibility. I took a bunch of Advil to push through during the styling and afterward.
I probably will only do such an extravagant style again for a special occasion. It took about 6 hours for the stylist to finish my hair. She charged $350+ for the style and did not provide the hair. The hair totaled to around $80-$100. (I can try and search for her contact info if anyone is interested)
The second time around I flew to London to get box braids. I went to Natural Gloe Hair & Beauty. Address: 14 Northfield AvenueW13 9RJ
I highly recommend the salon, the owner was incredibly professional. Two stylists — the owner and her assistant worked on my hair at once and finished in 4 hours. The salon provided the hair. At my request, they washed it pre-styling for me because my scalp is sensitive to the chemicals put on synthetic hair.
I had a nightmare braiding experience in 2017 that taught me this, I had to take out my $300+ braids the night after getting them done because my scalp burned and itched horribly. 😦
The style only amounted to around 120-150 euros. I was super happy with how much lighter the hair was but I preferred the softer quality of the hair I used in my first box braiding experience.
I just recently got box braids done again a third time in a thinner style. The stylist only used three packets of the high-quality hair that I purchased called “RastAfri – Freed’m-Triple-Braid”. Though I was unhappy about my stylist’s professionalism, I am pleased with the results. I hope that this time once the braids get frizzier it will look less obvious and more purposeful, akin to Zoe Kravitz’s skinny box braids look. ❤
This fish and chips series will include reviews of fish and chips restaurants at various price points and locations.
I love fish and chips when its done well, and Leo Burdocks at 4 Crown Alley, Temple Bar, Dublin do just that. True, Temple Bar is a tourist area, but the building is so picture-ready! That location’s restaurant is well maintained and fairly priced. I bought a full cod fish and chips with a water and it only ran up to around 11 euros. Its a very large piece of fish and they jam pack the container with fresh hot chips as well. When I went there with a friend on a Sunday afternoon it was mostly empty and quiet during the beginning of our meal. I give the exterior of this restaurant and interior cleanliness 5/5, and customer service 5/5.
As for the food, I loved that the fish was not oily, yet still had a flaky batter. I give the fish and chip quality 4.5/5 and flavour 3.5/5. The dish is very simply flavoured, but despite its simplicity, just like a nicely done lightly seasoned Udon soup, the overall eating experience was deliciously satisfying. It’s best to eat it hot and immediately in house, there’s plenty of seating at this location as well. I recommend Leo Burdocks and I’m happy to kick off this series with this restaurant chain.
When it comes to airport travel, I’ve been aboard the struggle bus for many years. Mainly, because of inexpensive and overweight luggage. 😦 I’ve always dreamed of worry free long distance travel with luggage packed thoughtfully under the 50 lb weight limit.
Throughout my high school years I traveled from state to state following my family’s consulting projects. I’d spend five months in Tacoma, Washington, then two in New York City and later five in Akron, Ohio, so on and so forth. During college, I often studied abroad and traveled regionally. I am by no means a travel expert, but I can confidently say I have a decent amount of airplane travel experience.
I’ve had cheap-o “hard” suitcases literally split in two, luggage handles and wheels fall off mid-travel, and I’ve routinely suffered from overweight luggage. I write the word suffer not melodramatically but in an effort to realistically describe what it feels like to frantically stuff clothes into a tote bag. Then have said bag’s handles rip off due to the weight while running to a new gate that magically decided to change in the last minute.
So when I started to plan for my one-way ticket journey to Ireland, I knew this was my opportunity to shine ––– to tactfully pack four suitcases! I ordered my new Kenneth Cole Reaction Going Places 3 Pc Spinner Luggage Set from Macy’s and also picked up a $30 Samsonite large black duffle bag (not pictured) from my local mall. I purchased my neon yellow luggage tags from Amazon.
I love the Kenneth Cole suitcase set, it was originally over $700 but its now on sale for $160. The suitcase material is a blazer-like fabric that’s easy to clean with lysol wipes. Because the luggage is fabric material, I don’t recommend cleaning it with hand paper because it can make it look linty.
I figured out the secret sauce to avoiding overweight luggage is a recipe of 1.) using vacuum bags for all clothing (non leather), 2.) getting an at-home luggage scale, 3.) avoiding the purchase of full-sized toiletries.
The vacuum bags greatly reduced the weight of my clothing. While the luggage scale gave me peace of mind because I know that each of my bags are under the weight limit. Additionally, full-sized toiletries are too weighty and unnecessary. Things like soap can be purchased in most places. Instead of packing a full box of anything, I only packed one of each thing. Like one bar of soap, for example, to use the first night upon arrival. I made a few exceptions, but mainly stuck to this tactic.
After researching companies in my area and calling UPS, DHL and more, I realized checking in one extra bag for international travel is the most affordable option. I get two free checked bags for my international flight and only had to pay a little over $200 for my extra checked luggage. That’s a little over $200 for three large suitcases (two Kenneth Cole ones and one Samsonite), this is much cheaper than spending over $700 to send one 20x20x20 moving box from the US to Ireland.
I think its better late than never to learn from travel mistakes. I hope to continue to travel and pack smartly! ❤
Iceland was a bucket list travel destination I’ve longed to visit for about 6 years. I finally was able to go with my mother as a college graduation trip May 2018. Did it live up to my expectations? Yes! Was it expensive? Very! The nickname the locals joke about rings true, Iceland is “Price-land$$$”, but there are plenty of inexpensive things to do. Actually, I found a few pricer tourist-trap restaurants and excursions a let down, while cheaper foods and places geared towards locals more enjoyable.
Not everything lives up to the hype in Iceland like visiting Harpa and grabbing a coffee inside. Harpa is an architecturally beautiful place to stop by and walk around for a bit, but the coffee inside the music hall is not special (TripAdvisor suggested otherwise). Its the same coffee that’s sold everywhere else in Iceland ––– just regular stuff in a small cup. Also, its important that if you visit Harpa and take the shuttle bus that you stand right in front of the bus stop rather than near it because its easy to miss the small shuttle when large two-story tour busses block it. I actually missed the bus twice and had to learn this the hard way. 😦
I enjoyed visiting the blue lagoon, and the in-water massages my mother and I had were wonderful. I recommend it to anyone who is able. We went really early and beat the crowds, by the mid-afternoon when we packed up to leave the entrance had long lines that almost reached the front door!
Things to eat:
- Sea Baron – langoustine soup and bread (The soup is very flavorful, and the bread and butter is delicious. Iceland does bread and butter well.)
- Café Loki – bread ice-cream (I recommend sitting upstairs by the window to get a view of Hallgrimskirkja, a famous Lutheran parish church)
- *Also, check out traditional Icelandic hot dogs made of lamb, bread baked in the ground, lamb soup, and dried fish with butter
Things to do:
- Visit black sand beach
- At least one major waterfall
- Walk around Reykjavik, see Hallgrimskirkja in person
- Visit Perlan museum for a view of the famously colorful building roofs
- Browse vintage clothing stores
I do not recommend eating dinner at the pricy Kol, or in spending too much at corner stores. Kol is a famous and highly rated restaurant that’s known for whimsical seafood presentations. See our food from that restaurant below. I personally thought the food was so-so, I enjoyed the presentation but the flavors and seafood freshness could have been better. I liked the local lamb soup in Reykjavik way more. See bread bowl lamb soup pictured below from Svarta Kaffid.
Stay far away from Noodle Station, the soup made us sick! That restaurant is hyped up because its cheap, but to save your stomach the agony, I think its better to just eat fast food or an Icelandic hotdog to save money.
I think corner stores are super overpriced in Iceland. When I planned for my trip, I noticed many people recommended saving money by eating simple things from corner stores. Its true that some foods are much cheaper than a full meal at a restaurant but its still very pricey. I think its better to just eat a pastry from a bakery because there are many delicious affordable bakeries in Reykjavik! Then to eat things like chips and cookies from the corner store because they end up costing about the same. For example, like two bags of chips, one pack of gum, and a soft drink, can amount to $30 at the corner store.
My recommendation if you travel to Iceland is to be well prepared for the cold and changeable weather. Even through I traveled in May it was extremely cold. It rained, hailed, and then became sunny again at least four times a day. So expect the unexpected! I also recommend sticking to restaurants the locals like because they’re cheaper and heartier. Some places are hyped up either because its cheap or expensive, so its important to scout places out.
I definitely will travel to Iceland again! Next time I plan on doing more adventurous things in nature. Have you ever been to Iceland? What’s your top three bucket list travel destinations? ❤