Costa Rica (late, late, late post)

April 25, 2017

Wow it’s already April and I haven’t written a blog post since November. Which, I should have because I visited another country that month! This time I decided to dabble in Central America with my boyfriend. We flew into Liberia Airport in the Guanacaste Province of Costa Rica. After being re-inspired by reading my blog posts from my Europe travels, I decided again to tell you about my amazing trip to Latin America.

Thursday, Nov 3

Today would be a day of constant travel. Our first flight was to LAX, where we would catch another flight to Liberia. Nothing newsworthy went on during our flight other than EFF AIRPORT FOOD. I’m starting to learn how to travel smart and that means downloading movies to my iPad ahead of time, since Southwest doesn’t have any person TV’s we’re all used to in those luxury airlines. We arrived in Liberia around 9-10pm, they’re only an hour ahead. I arranged a taxi with my AirBnB host, which was nice actually since the hecklers outside of the airport were a bit intimidating and annoying, trying to probably scam us with a ride to our destination.

Our driver didn’t know much English, I tried to tell him “thank you for waiting” since our flight to Liberia was delayed a bit and we got there later than we’d hoped. All he could say in response to us was “pura vida”, that was the first time I would hear the Costa Rican infamous moto, but I was confused as to why he was saying it as a response. (Note: come to find out later, it can be used in response to things like “how are you” and is more of a term like “no problem” or “my pleasure”.) We were exhausted on our ride to our hotel but we couldn’t help but notice the Costa Rican driving: although it was dark, we saw that most of the main roads were only one way; if you were going slow you would be passed very quickly; Costa Rican drivers are really good at stopping on a dime and navigating their roads; the non-paved roads are very bumpy (since it’s the rainy season and littered with potholes); and these drivers are very confident even though it’s stormy as hell, hard to see, and rainy AF (that’s ‘as fuck’ if you’re an old fart reading this).

We finally got to the AirBnB (Hotel Mamiri) an hour later: the host was very gracious and stayed up even tho it was well passed 12am. Our BnB was nice with two stories and air conditioning. However, the boyfriend didn’t like it since the sheets were musty (a smell we could not escape since it seemed like they didn’t wash the sheets and since it’s always humid/damp in the tropics it probably wouldn’t be washed out) so we didn’t sleep in the sheets the whole time we stayed there–one, because it was hot, and two because the stench was really that bad.

Friday, Nov 4

We woke up super early today to meet our tour guide for our excursion. Randall from Shaman Tours greeted us bright and early at 6:30am (remind you, we probably went to bed at 1am) and informed us of the long trip to the Rincon de Vieja national park. This day was our activity day where we would be doing zip-lining, horseback riding, hot springs and innertubing down the river.

[Tip: We were recommended this tour company by a travel blog called MyTanFeet. If you ever go to Costa Rica, we definitely recommend checking out this blog & using this tour company. You can find reviews on Shaman here.]

First off, horseback riding. Luckily we just missed the rain, all that was left was a slight mist that eventually cleared up so we could see patches of sunlight! We had a relaxing horse ride in this national park that was absolutely beautiful. Everything is green and lush and just beautiful scenery. Our tour guide Randall was waiting for us at the end of our horseback ride to take us to our next activity which was INNER TUBING! This was quite awesome actually. We started off in this big group and were instructed to hold on and paddle when we get stuck–that was it in terms of instructions, the rest was up to the river to take us where we needed to go. It was probably the funnest activity, the rushing river took us on little rapids and waterfalls all while we looked up at the thick canopy of trees above us. When we got to the end, Randall yet again was waiting for us at the bottom and even helped carry my inner tube up the hill (A1 service if you ask me).

After our first two activities, it was lunch time. We were the first people to get to lunch and had a great table in the corner at the edge of the patio that overlooked their amazing property. We ate delicious “comida typica” or their traditional food of rice, beans, plantains and some sort of meat.

We then went zip lining through this lush, green forest and over ravines of water. It was such a cool experience. Randall also took us to a waterfall that was gushing with water (because it was the rainy season and had just rained). During the dry season, you can usually swim at the base, which we unfortunately couldn’t do.

Lastly, we finished our activity day at the hot springs. These natural hot springs are heated by the volcano and the pools are situated on the edge of a river. We took a mud bath that was heated by the volcano that was supposed to cleanse our skin. Overall it was very relaxing and extremely beautiful.

On our way home it was raining again. It took us over 2 hours to get back to Tamarindo and we were exhausted. Since it was raining and it gets darker earlier, we went to a delicious Mexican restaurant called Green Papaya, that had the most delicious enchiladas I ever had. We went back to our hotel and passed out.

Saturday, Nov 5

Today we slept in a little, woke up in time to have complimentary breakfast at our BnB. I had the breakfast tipica while JM had pancakes. We had to check out quite early but it was no problem since our other BnB has a flexible check-in time and was right around the corner. The Beach Bungalows was by far better than the first BnB, and it was so freaking adorable. We had our own bungalow (there were 5 all together on the property) with an open kitchen and pool in the middle.

Our host, Niko, was a Frenchman expat who decided to live in paradise with his wife and set up this beautiful bungalow BnB. Each bungalow had it’s own relaxation pad underneath the elevated living space, where you could sit on the lounge chair or hammock. He sat us down once we got there and gave us important information about Tamarindo, things we could do, places we could go and which restaurants were the best. It was superb hospitality right from the start.

After settling our luggage we grabbed some towels and headed to the infamous Tamarindo beach. The town we were staying at, Tamarindo, is famous for it’s beach. It’s good for surfing, swimming, relaxing…etc. There were a lot of restaurants that lined the beach–we ended up settling on one and relaxing on their beach chairs. Someone from inside gave us a menu and explained that all drinks were “buy one get one half off”, their “happy hour price” which is basically all day, every day. We hung out there for a little, played on the beach for a bit, then decided to check out the town, since we hadn’t really explore the place. Wanting a little snack, we settled on this cute plaza with cheap food & a pizzeria. Pizza sounded good (and we could split it), plus it was cheap.

After walking around for a bit, we just relaxed the rest of the day. We ate again at this restaurant called the Beach Shack or something like that, drank more and just absorbed the Tamarindo Town.

Sunday, Nov 6

Today we woke up, ate a great breakfast prepared by lovely Alice, one out of the two workers that worked at the BnB. She made us this delicious breakfast torta: egg on refried beans with salsa/tomato sauce over a fried tortilla. IT WAS AMAZING!! We had time to kill, so we went to the beach and wait for our sunset cruise, which would start at 1pm.

We met at the beach for our sunset cruise called Blue Dolphin Cruise. One couple that was staying at the same bungalows as us actually booked it for the same day & time as we did. They were a really sweet couple from the East Coast; the husband even offered us some coconut that he bought off a vendor on the beach. Once on the boat, we found out that one of the groups that took the same Rincon de Vieja adventure tour on the same day as us were also on the SAME sunset cruise. It was a great atmosphere. They played great music, had unlimited drinks (the dolphin especial was their house cocktail, I had about 6 of those) and brought us out to this amazing private cove. Once there, we could either take a kayak, stand up paddle board, or snorkel gear out to the “reef” area. I was a bit disappointed because it was pretty muggy out in the water and the guys were yelling at me to stay away from the rocks (the only area where there were actually fish). I had to assure them that I was a great swimmer and I could swim confidently. [Plus, I was in the don’t-give-an-eff mode since I was probably 4 cocktails in by this point].

After being docked for about an hour, we set back to Tamarindo. On our way back they had a buffet full of food where you could make tacos and nachos. I was so hungry too since I swam for a long ass time. I made friends with the group who also did the adventure tour the same day as us, and they were really nice people from Austin! As we were coming back, the Captain & crew started to salsa and play Latin music. Drunk me was having fun watching when the Captain grabbed me and started dancing with me. Drunk me didn’t know if I was in rhythm or really how to dance like that, but I obliged and tried to dance. The sun started to set and it was an amazing spectacle to see out on the water!

We said goodbye to our new friends, headed back to the BnB, took a nice warm shower and ate at our favorite place: the Green Papaya!

Monday, Nov 7

We booked a second day trip with the same tour company, Shaman Tours. Randall arrived at our bungalow bright and early (630am). Today we were doing the “Hanging Bridge Tour”, a hike/canopy tour of the amazing protected land of Tenorio national park. First off, we stopped at an amazing waterfall at Llanos de Cortes. We were the first people there (because it had to have been like 8am or so) and the only people there. The waterfall was gushing with rushing water because it was the rainy season. It was so perfect since it was quiet, pristine, and intimate!

We stayed for about an hour and were back on the road. It took us about another hour to reach the park. Randall was great, stopping at places to see if there were sloths/howler monkeys and grocery stores so we could get something to eat. Once we got to Tenorio Park itself, we realized it would be a relatively easy/short hike (which was so nice because at this point we were so tired from all our earlier activities). The park was beautiful & picturesque. What made it even more unique were these suspended hanging bridges, where we would be in the canopy, admiring the view. We didn’t see any animals unfortunately, but it was still so serene and beautiful.

Of course, my annoying-ass had to ask Randall if this was normal, not seeing any animals & all. So, he was determined to find me a sloth (or a monkey at least). On our way out of the park, Randall kept an eye out. He stopped at a tree on the side of the road where the slots normally “hang” out (hahah see what I did there). He took out his huge telescope and found us not only one, but two sloths on the tree!! I was so ecstatic to finally see a sloth, especially in the wild.

On our way back, we were given an option for lunch. It was either to go to a “Restaurante Tipico” where they serve authentic Costa Rican dishes OR to go to a Tilapia farm, catch our own fish, and have it fried fresh to eat. Our choice was obviously the tilapia farm (1, because we’re Filipino & can’t say no to fried fish and 2. who doesn’t wanna catch their own fish?!). Ok, so it wasn’t really that hard to catch a fish because you first would bait it in a small pool where they’re raised and then keep throwing in your line until you caught them. This particular fish farm was so adorable! It was family-owned with all generations in the house. We met a little boy named Ian, who was three years old. His mom was the cook and his older brothers were the waiters.

Randall accompanied us to lunch, he caught his own fish & everything. They asked us what kind of flavor I wanted for my smoothie (I got mango, obvi). The first course they brought out to us was this savory fried plantain cup filled with refried beans. IT WAS SO DELICIOUS! Then…our tilapia came out and HOLY EFF WAS IT AMAZING!! I wish I took a picture of it (I thought I did but I guess my camera wasn’t on all the way). I guess it’ll just stay ingrained in my memory forever.

Our bellies were full and we were headed back to Tamarindo. I was so freaking tired on the way home (plus a full-belly) that I kept falling asleep and snoring. JM had to bump me constantly bc my mouth was wide open & I looked like an obese, drunk man after a night at the bar. I’m not sure how we ended this night, but we probably drank again or just passed out really early because we were tired.

 

Tuesday, Nov 8

We woke up again for the delicious breakfast from Alice. The same couple that was on the sunset cruise with us were also eating breakfast. We chatted with them and they suggested we go to Playa Conchal (literally translates to Shell Beach). They said that the water over there was amazing, crystal blue like Hawaii, and they snorkeled and ate lobster prepared on the beach. It sounded great & our host, Niko, said that he could get us a cab there for cheap (which ended up not being as cheap…). We didn’t have anything planned that day so we decided to check it out.

We were dropped off on the beach and told the taxi driver to pick us up “a las cuatro”. We had the whole day to spend there, and it was so freaking beautiful. The water was turquoise blue and the beach was made out of millions of crushed shells (although later we come to find out that the WHOLE beach used to look like that but because of tourism & the gov’t deciding to use them for construction, only a tiny section of the beach is truly all made out of shells). The boyfriend & I set up camp under some trees for a free shady area–hecklers were asking if we wanted to rent chairs & umbrella for $20 the whole day, but we politely declined. The rest of the day we just hung out, went into the water, and literally soaked in the sun. We didn’t do much but we didn’t need to, we just relaxed and really absorbed the environment around us.

We started to get hungry and we were a little late asking the guy, who was going around to the different tourist on the beach, for some food. He told us he sold out of the lobster, but that he had freshly caught Red Snapper. This was the best choice for us anyways since neither of us like shellfish. We bought two cervesas (Imperial is the beer of Costa Rica) and the Red Snapper was delivered to us. LET ME TELL YOU, THAT WAS THE BEST-TASTING FISH I EVER HAD! (Freshly prepared fish, the fish the day before was fried not grilled, so there’s a difference…I think). So fresh, cooked so perfectly, and we ate it sitting on the beach with beer–it can’t get any better!

Finally, we were picked up and brought back to the hotel (it was $20 one way to the beach then $40 on the way back!!!! SUCH A RIP OFF!!). After another shower, we wanted to get happy hour drinks before our dinner reservation. Our host made reservations for us at Patagonia, this upscale Argentinian Steakhouse. Jon-Mykal and I split a plate because, we don’t eat a lot and we knew it was going to be expensive. After that we went back to the BnB and drank the night away.

Wednesday, Nov 9

Today, we woke up with the sad, sad reality that Donald Trump won the election back in the states. Glad to be in a different country when this news broke, we sorrowfully headed down to the kitchen for breakfast. Nothing like Alice’s delicious breakfast torta & international talk couldn’t fix (it didn’t actually fix it but it helped lessen the tremendous defeat we were feeling). We were checking out that day, so we hastily ate, packed, got ready. Our next host wouldn’t be picking us up until 1pm, but we had to check out by 11am.

With time to kill, we walked around Tamarindo looking for non-touristy pasalubongs (Tagalog for souvenirs). That proved difficult since Tamarindo is a very touristy town and we were touring in the off-season so no one wanted to give us discounts. On this ominous day, since finding out that Trump was the new leader of our country, there were actually optimistic locals who wanted to talk politics to us. This one lady manning a souvenir shop explained that both of the candidates were a bad choice. She was saying that this is a great opportunity for people to band together against the greater evil. It was a nice perspective to speak to intelligent locals who know their shit, don’t knock you for being American, and realize that there are solutions to problems.

We needed this healing, in a way. Talking it out with people from other walks of life and perspectives gives you a better understanding and acceptance of the situation. We, after all, can’t really do anything about the situation other than accept the circumstances and try everything in our power to resist.

Since it was lunch time, we wanted to get some food before going to our next hotel. We opted for the pizza place again since it was cheap and just enough food for the both of us. Headed back to the bungalows, we waited for our host to pick us up. Felipe showed up at our hotel in his white pickup truck. He had a cute little doggy in the back. We gave our hugs to Alice & Edwin (the other employee there) and even Pepito (the resident gato who was so friendly).

Me and JM squeezed into his small truck. Blancita (Blanca), his pup, was riding in the back when Felipe explained why he had his dog. She apparently is very attached to him and was able to escape her lead & fence at their home, he ties her in the yard on his way to pick us up. The next thing he knows she’s chasing him down the road and he had no choice but to pick her up and bring her along. She doesn’t even like being in the back of the truck, and Felipe was worried that she would jump out of the back into traffic. As most of you all know, I love dogs, so I said I didn’t mind if she sat in the front with us. So all of us–me, JM, Felipe, AND Blancita–are all squeezing into this very small pick up truck.

Felipe let us know that we were going to a very remote area of Playa Grande (which is a protected national park) and that there wouldn’t be food options near by. So we stopped at a supermarket while Felipe got gas to get our dinners for the night. We opted for sandwich making ingredients for our dinner/breakfast in the morning (we’re only staying one night). After what seemed like the longest, bumpiest road ever, we finally made it to the Pipe Hotel.

The Pipe Hotel is amazing! Felipe made the space all from scratch–he was an engineer from San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica, probably the most westernized city in CR. He didn’t like his life in the city so he moved to Playa Grande (which is just a 30 minute car ride from Tamarindo & a 5 minute boat ride), bought a plot of land, and created the Pipe Hotel. What’s unique about this hostel are the pipe beds. These huge industrial pipes were recycled and made into sleeping pods. Each pod can hold 1-2 people & there’s just a bed and a small rack inside. The Pipe Hotel has 6 Pipes but only one other person was staying there (it is the off season after all). His name was Grant, a young 18-year-old from Washington and a pro wake surfer. He was here to surf, since is a great surfing spot. Felipe is also a beach bum with a great community of friends who are also beach bums.

We had a lot of time to kill–we were away from the city and in a remote area. So the only thing to do now was to explore the beach, that was literally in our backyard. Playa Grande is a protected area and beach so it’s very quiet and remote. Turtles, like the  endangered large Leather Back Sea Turtle, lay eggs at this beach. Since they’re endangered the beach is off limits to big tourist companies/hotels. JM and I spent a lot of time at the beach, just taking in the incredible scenery. The amazing thing about traveling to CR during this time was it was the tail end of the rainy season, which means…everything is green!! We only caught rain once and that was the first/second day we were there. So fortunate to have missed the rain but get all the benefits of the after effects!

After watching the sunset with Felipe, Blancita & Taco (his other pup), JM and I went to make our sandwiches! Grant was hanging out in the common area so we had a conversation…all night. He shared his Cuba Libre’s (rum & coke in a can) with us and Felipe came to join us. We had a really good night just sitting around talking for hours on end. People here also don’t have any reason to stay up late. They wake up and go to sleep with the sun because most of their work is done when the sun is up. Unfortunately, we were only staying here one night, I wish we were staying here longer because it was one of the BEST NIGHTS WE HAD! Hostel-type accommodations are definitely more my pace, especially when we’re not traveling with a lot of people. You can meet some great people from all over in these types of hotels.

Anyways, we had to sleep early since our cab was going to pick us up early to go to the airport.

 

 

&&& Thursday we left. Nothing much notable there. So that was my trip. I loved Costa Rica, everything about it. Now I know why a lot of expat’s go there. If you ever go, I would recommend going to the Guanacaste Province in November or December. I went in Nov, and it happened to be great timing. There was some showers but not a lot, not too touristy, and very green & lush! I plan on going back one day and spending LOADS more time there. Anyways, pura vida!

Here are some pics of our adventure! The video that I made will be on the next post!

IMG_0398

Mud baths on our adventure tour!

IMG_0400

The waterfall was gushing so we couldn’t swim.

IMG_0401

Riding horsies apart of our adventure tour!

IMG_0402

The natural hot springs were right next to a rushing river.

IMG_0407

Tamarindo beach

IMG_0411

On the Dolphin Sunset Cruise with my Dolphin Especial! I would later lose an earring that day because it fell off in the water *cue Kim Kardashian’s iconic I lost my diamond earring in the ocean scene*

IMG_0412

We were the first and only people here! The water fall was also gushing, but the water was SOO COLDDDD.

IMG_0415

Hanging Bridges tour with our tour guide Randal!

IMG_0416

RANDAL FOUND US A SLOTH! This is a picture taken on the inside of a telescope! It’s arms are in it’s head.

IMG_0417

I “caught” a tilapia from the fish farm, then had it fried!!

IMG_0436

Playa Grande– see how no one is on the beach, yeah we saw maybe 5 people during the 3 hrs we were out there.

IMG_0434

The Playa Grande sunset & last night of our trip. IT. WAS. AMAZING!!

Amazing Amsterdam

Wednesday, August 19

I successfully navigated myself back to the airport and got on the flight (very late) to Amsterdam. I also successfully got myself from the airport, on a train and walked to my hostel. My hostel in Amsterdam is called The Bulldog, but as I was walking I saw….3 Bulldog facilities. The first one was the Bulldog Coffee Shop, which notoriously is the first coffee shop in Amsterdam, which you can smoke in. Second one was a cafe that serves food, where you can also smoke in. The last one was my hostel, and a bar on the bottom, which you can drink and smoke in.

When I got into my room I met some cool Brit girls who were super enthusiastic to be there. I ended up going to the coffeeshop down the street to you know, have some coffee and stuff and then walked around. I was wondering WHY THERE WAS SO MANY PEOPLE WALKING THE STREETS. It felt like Disneyland, where you couldn’t walk anywhere without being in a hoard of people. I found out that it was SAIL and Canal Festival. I guess Sail happens once every 5 years and is the biggest Maritime Festival in the world. Old sail boats from all over the world come to Amsterdam to show off their antique-style ships, fleet boats (with sailors), and other ships come into port where the sailors off-boat for a few days in Amsterdam, no wonder it’s crazy as hell. I ended up getting some Dutch fries and sat on the pier just watching all of these massive ships go by. The Dutch also seem like a huge boating community, because so many families were out on the water, eating, drinking, and just having a good time.

After a little me-time, I went back to the hostel where I met more girls. One girl, Elle, is from England and she was solo traveling for the first time. I could tell she was a bit nervous to be by herself but she was very sweet and polite. Two other girls from America (New York) were also in the hostel, and they invited us to explore with them. So we got a few drinks and other smokable stuff and just explored the town. I forgot to mention that our hostel is right in the middle of the Red Light District, which is amazing. We walked around this area amazed at the prostitutes. Amsterdam must be the Mecca, Holy Land, for the prostitutes. They have no shame because they worked hard (with all of their plastic surgery and all) to get a coveted spot in the Red Light District. I mean no shame, there’s just families with kids and old people walking around and they’re standing their banging on windows and looking…slutty. After that I went to bed.

Thursday, August 20

I woke up early today because I had booked a 10am canal tour. I got some free breakfast downstairs before heading out. I found this boat tour on TripAdvisor, it was rated #1. However, the tickets were twice as expensive because of the Sail event going on. I booked it because, hey, when am I going to be in Amsterdam next? There was an older couple and two guys from Montreal on the boat (and the tour guide). We went through the Canals and we asked him a lot of questions since he is Dutch and our tour guide. The main part of the tour was going through the Sail festival and seeing all of the big cool boats. it was like a big party on the water. We also saw that they were having a Canal Festival with floating stages and seating areas. It was pretty cool. The only thing that the tour lacked was a tour guide that actually wanted to tell us interesting stuff, not just answer our questions. He sometimes would not even answer my questions…and I’m a very curious person. But it was very relaxing and pretty nonetheless.

For lunch I ate this delicious sandwich from this cute cafe. I went back to my hostel to chill and then my godsister/cousin, Rachel hit me up because she lives in Amsterdam and was back in town! She met up with me at my hostel and we got some coffee and sat by the canal and just talked. That was the first time we’ve really seen each other in about 5 years. And, now that we’re older we can talk and relate at a different level. It was really good seeing her and catching up and just talking to someone so close. It was so easy and fluid, I just love those type of days and conversations. We ended up talking for about 4 hours haha. I went back to my hostel and me and Elle decided to go out. We got some coffee, walked around, ate some fries, looked at prostitutes, and got more coffee.

Amsterdam is absolutely beautiful and has been by far my favorite place. It’s truly unique and unlike any other place in the world. It has a unique character to it that is genuine and historical. I can see why so many foreign people want to move there, it is a GREAT place that I hope to visit sometime soon.

DSC_1946 DSC_1948 DSC_1949 DSC_1951 DSC_1954 DSC_1956 DSC_1958 DSC_1965 DSC_1968 DSC_1975 DSC_1980 DSC_1988 DSC_1989 DSC_1990 DSC_2003 DSC_2007 DSC_2011 DSC_2019 DSC_2022 DSC_2029 DSC_2028 DSC_2031

Paris and Berlin

These past couple of days I have been solo traveling around Europe. Since it’s my first time in Europe, I have to see the most popular destinations. I want to get out of my comfort zone and do things that are memorable and expose myself to different cultures and ways of life.

Sunday, August 16

Today was my first full day in Paris. Despite my awful AirBnb, which I’m requesting a refund because that place was a piece of shit, I got up pretty early to explore this infamous city. My first stop was the catacombs, something I really wanted to see. But, when I got there I noticed that the line was a tad long, and when I say a tad, I mean wrapped around the whole block and back up. Because only had a day here. I decided it wasn’t worth it, since the line was going to take a good few hours. I headed to the Notre Dame, another place on my itinerary. I looked at the building, it was so cool and reminded me of The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Gargoyles, you know classic cartoon/movies I used to watch as a child, naturally. After spending sometime in that area, going on Love Lock Bridge and seeing the book sellers by the canal, I decided to take a Big Bus tour, since Paris is really only good for sightseeing and museum hopping.

The Big Bus tour was ok. I mean they drive you around to all the important places in Paris, which is better than walking on foot to all of those places. Nothing was really interesting other than learning about the history of the buildings and of France. After spending two hours on the bus I finally got off at the Louvre. It was crowded (like every place in Paris that day). I wanted to see the Mona Lisa, she was cool. The building itself had some great architecture and design inside. I found Napoleon’s Apartment to be quite interesting, but for some reason I was not feeling Paris. The people are unfriendly, there’s nothing quite interesting other than the art, and it’s incredibly crowded.

After the Louvre I went to this plaza where a cluster of violinists were playing some great music of popular classics. I decided to eat at a café overlooking this plaza, which was quite relaxing and nice. After that I walked along the Tuileries Garden before I finally decided to go in (which was only about 7-8pm). I guess I’d had enough of the overrated city.

Monday, August 17

My flight to Berlin was at 1pm, so I left the awful apartment quite early. It is very true what people say about the French, to put it in light terms, there assholes LOL. I knocked out on the plane because I guess that’s a normal thing for me now. When I got to Berlin I of course had to buy a Bratwurst first thing out of the airport. I then took a train to Alexanderplatz, a central station in Berlin. I met a really nice guy from Saudi Arabia p, studying chemistry in Germany. He could speak 4 languages (Arabic, German, English, and Spanish), which definitely put me to shame. I only know one language, which is also the problem I’m America, so embarrassing. Most of the people I meet can speak like 3-4 languages. Anyways I finally made it to my hostel, which by the way has a bar in its reception area and a pretty big one at that.

I had a tour at the Riechstag building at 745, their most famous building. Here I toured the dome, a really big glass dome that sits on the very top of the building and overlooks most of Berlin. There was an audio guide that narrated the political history of this building and the surrounding areas. After this short tour I took a walk around and saw Bradenburg Gate. By this time I was exhausted and went back to the hostel to get an actual decent night of sleep.

I’m going to stop right here, since this is probably a really boring post to write and since I don’t have any pictures to illustrate it’s probably an even more boring post to read, sorry yall I’ll add what I did today (Tuesday) on another post, since this was actually a really great day in an awesome city.

Paris

DSC_1766

A really cute farmers market that was right outside my apartment.

DSC_1767 DSC_1768 DSC_1770 DSC_1773 DSC_1778 DSC_1783 DSC_1820 DSC_1833 DSC_1834 DSC_1835 DSC_1849 DSC_1864 DSC_1885

Berlin

DSC_1888 DSC_1889 DSC_1893 DSC_1894 DSC_1897 DSC_1898 DSC_1899

Reichstag Building

British Slang (Vocabulary, Jargon, Lingo, etc.)

  
Since I’ve spent a little over a month here in England, I have been paying close attention to the English vernacular. While London isn’t totally English (I mean it is and it isn’t, it’s a more global city than anything), they do have a lot of interesting vocabulary or sland that took me a little while to understand. And, while America is from British settlement, there are a lot of words that are a bit different from American slang.

Terms-

Toilet/Loo – Bathroom/Restroom; In America, we think the term toliet is a little derogatory or gross to describe a bathroom and that it only describes the literal toliet that you use in the bathroom, but here in London they call it the toliet which also includes the sink and washroom so I don’t quite understand it. “I need to use the toliet”

Cheers – Thank you/Your welcome/See you soon; This term almost always is said at the end of the sentence at a parting of ways between people. It’s almost like a fond farewell, good tidings, blessings type response. “Thank you for my coffee, cheers!”

That’s alright/okay – No worries/no problem; This term is used when someone doesn’t want you to feel bad for asking for help or said immediately after you say thank you. So for example if someone says, “thank you so much for your help” their response would be “Ah, that’s alright”

You alright? – How are you? Are you doing okay?; I’m usually asked this while getting serviced somewhere. At first I thought they were asking me because I looked as though I was unwell or lost or obviously American. But, alast, if I’m waiting to get served at a coffee bar or pub, to get my attention they will say “You alright?”

Cheeky – smart-ass/cunningly rude; This word is used to describe someone who is sarcastically rude or cunningly insults you. This term was said to me when I accidentally told the coffee barista to “put her stamps onto my card” when he was stamping her card (I meant the other way around, to put my stamps onto her card) and he responded “well that’s quite cheeky”.

Dodgy – sketchy; A verb used to describe a not so good situation, place, person usually unsafe or bad conditions. “Melissa, becareful when you go to _____ it’s a really dodgy area.”

Bloody – hella (in Bay Area Terms)/extremely/horribly; An adverb used infront of a noun, verb, adjective used to intensify how bad/good/extreme a situation is. Can use it infront of the terms “bloody hell” (most often) “bloody awful” “bloody marvellous” or “not bloody likely”, basically to over empahsize something like we do in the Bay Area with the use of “hella”. “Melissa, that use of your business ideas were bloody genius.”

Blooming – same use as bloody in that they use it before another word to exaggerate or intensify it “I need that bloomin’ dress”

Dim/Daft – stupid; just another slang term to call people stupid

Fancy – want/desire; If you fancy something that means that you want something. It usually is followed by “a” since they use “a” before a lot of verbs. “Fancy a walk, fancy a look, fancy a chat”

Piss off/Fuck off – Fuck you; Piss off is a more PG term but it basically means fuck you or get the fuck outta here. I’ve heard it once said by a drunk man when I said something shocking he replied “fuck off” like “Really?!” but in a drunken ramble. Another time someone said piss off was when someone was getting angry that we weren’t sure which way to go, he told us to piss off but I also think he was quite crazy. In other terms, it’s not usually a nice phrase and you say it when you’re mad or insulting someone.

Posh – high-mainteanance/upper-class/high-society; Now I understand why Posh Spice was callled Posh Spice. It’s a term used to describe rich people, high-class, and high-mainteanance. In America we call them “yuppies” but here they use the term “All of the posh people live in that nice area.”

Rubbish – trash; Rubbish is the stuff you put in the trash can/waste basket/litter etc. Sometimes when people describe something that is horrible or disgusting they sometimes will use the word “Well that’s quite rubbish“.

Films – movies; “Do you want to watch a film tonight?”

Cinemas – the movie theater; the place where you go to watch films “I went to the Cinemas yesterday and the tickets cost me 15£”

Queue – line/to stand in line/to wait usually in a line or pecking order; This term can be used as a noun (“You need to stand in the queue to go into the store”) or as a verb to say you’re waiting in a particular order (“Did you have to queue for that restaurant?”  or “I didn’t want to wait because people have been queuing for 3 hours”)

Quid – pound/bucks; It is a slang term for pounds like how in America we say “Aw man I lost 5 bucks to the lottery” they say “Man I paid 5 quid for nothing”

Lift – elevator; “Take the lift up to the 5th floor”

Plaster – band-aid/bandage; This one was very confusing for me, since it came up when me and my coworker were talking about how flats really hurt the back of our foot (where girls usually put band-aids to stop the rubbing). She had said “Sometimes I think plasters don’t really work for me, I still end up getting blisters”.

CLOTHES
Jumper – sweater/sweatshirt

Trousers – Pants

Trainers – sneakers/athletic sneakers

Pants – briefs/underwear

Knickers – panties/girl undies

FOOD

Porridge – oatmeal

Chips – fries

Crisps – chips

Biscuits – cookies   

My Trip to DOOBLIN (Weekend….??) PT 1

I don’t know which weekend it is anymore, I’m only counting the weekends I have left for my program, which are two. Thank you to all who’ve read my blog and hopefully liked my random thoughts and sometimes tangents of weird things I find interesting and also my strong opinions. I hope there are a lot of you (but it might just be my parents) and I hope this blog has provided some interest.

Friday, July 31

Today, I lost my phone. A sad, sad day. I was traveling for work and I guess it fell out of my pocket in the bus. This sucks because I almost always look back on my seat to see if I’ve forgotten anything and I never keep my phone in my back pocket, but I didn’t do both of those things and low and behold my phone is lost. The sucky part about it is that I was not in a very nice neighborhood so the chances of a good samaritan giving it to the bus driver was zero to nilche. Also, today I was traveling to Dublin, and I wouldn’t be here for the weekend, so I was SOH.

My work was nice and they let me leave early to prepare for my flight. I took a train, then a bus, to Luton Airport. It was my first time doing all of this by myself, but I got the hang of it. My flight was only 55 minutes (if that). I took a public bus to my hostel, where I checked in. It was a nice hostel, very young and trendy, definitely for the young traveler like myself. I went into my mixed dorm room and realized I would be sharing a room with a guy who wasn’t there. For safe measure, I took the closest bed to the door on the top bunk, this was my first time at a hostel afterall. Then I tried to go to sleep but realized that the guy had come back and turned the fucking light on and left it on all night. I was trying to sleep early since I had to wake up at 6am to make it to a tour bus.

Saturday, August 1

Since I had lost my phone, I have to find new ways of living life (literally) like my alarm clock. I put it on my iPad, thinking that my iPad was going to wake me up…well it didn’t. Luckily, the dude I was sharing the dorm with left the lights on all night, so my body I guess woke me up at the time I was supposed to. I got ready, realized that the place I had to meet the bus was 15 minute walk (I left the hostel 8 minutes before I had to be there) so I hauled ass to the meeting spot where I was supposed to take my tour. We were going to the Cliffs of Moher, and I guess I got there late and the bus with all the normal people left. I was stuck with the bus load of Spanish High School students. This didn’t prove to be annoying until later on but I’ll get to that. There was another solo girl who ended up sitting next to me from Canada. She has lived in Dublin for 3 months for work.

Now, the bus driver was great. He was a local Irish man from Cork (the second biggest town with only like 500k?) His interests were history (YESSS), music, anything Irish, he was very proud of his culture and I was extremely excited to learn (cos I’m a Geek who loves culture, history, and learning – and I actually appreciate culture and the “old fashion way” but maybe it’s because I’m so curious). As we got into the bus he was talking about things and asking people to respond, but since these were students who were too cool for school, no one wanted to participate. He said maybe he can talk later since maybe people are sleepy.

I slept cos I only got maybe 3 hours of sleep the night before. I awoke to him saying that we were at our next stop, a place called Barack Obama Plaza. Literally in the middle of nowhere, is this Barack Obama gas station pit stop. I guess Barack Obama visited this place since his mom is some Irish. They dedicated this place in his name and they even have an exhibit upstairs (which I’m really bummed I didn’t check out but I didn’t even know until I got back on the bus). I got coffee and breakfast and then we headed on our way. Our nice guide started to talk about Irish history (YESSSS). He was so freaking knowledgable, I was impressed. He seriously knew everything about Ireland, his country, and all the small details. Basically anything you needed to know about Ireland, he knew it. However, while i was trying to listen and while he was talking, some rude young girls who were too cool to listen were talking really loudly about some random shit (I’m not sure since they’re Spanish and I was listening to the guide. I kept glaring at them but they were in their own world. Other people around them were also glaring at them. Finally at one point, when I had it, I looked at them and said “Can you please be quiet” and they stopped talking. He started from the really early settlers, to the Kells (people who settled here), to them being bullied by the Brits.

As he spoke he would point out some cool things out on the road, like the different cows, the horses, the sheep, the stone fences, the types of stone, the types of castles, the types of abbeys and churches, and towns. It was amazing, I loved every part of the trip. Our next stop was Limerick (like the poem), where he was trying to find a stone that some important Irish people signed with the Brits to keep peace. I thought they carved it in the stone but no, they signed it on a piece of paper that was on top of a stone (DUHHHHH?).

Our next stop was finally the Cliffs of Moher, we were to spend an hour and a half here. When we got here the cliffs were AMAZING. They were beautiful, and I  can’t really use words to describe this breathtaking view. I was very speechless. I guess people have fallen off the cliffs because they tried to get to close or they were very close to the edge and lost their footing (there was significant wind as well) but there weren’t any precautions to keep you from falling so you had to be really careful. They had an awesome visitor’s center that is made inside the cliff. This is probably best since a big building would have ruined the beauty of the landscape.

After the Cliffs of Moher, we went to this small town for some lunch. It was a local town that the guide knew very well. He recommended this pub and I was totally smitten with this culture, so I went and checked it out. I first got a pint of Smithwicks, and I finally found a pint of AMBER ALE! It was the best pint I have gotten since my time here abroad, and the best part was that the waitress lady spilled the little bit I had left so she gave me another half pint for free. I also ordered Irish Stew, which was AHHHMAZING. If you don’t know me I’m obsessed with gravy, meat, and mashed potatoes, and that’s what it was. The guide was eating next to us and he ordered the same thing as I did, he literally licked his bowl clean.

On the road again, we stopped at this area that the guide called Lunar Landscape. It’s actually called the Burren, but since it looks like you’re standing on the moon, they call it a lunar landscape. The guide also mentioned that the British rulers moved all of the Irish to this area of the land, since you couldn’t really grow any crops, have any cattle, and it was the worst place in Ireland to live. This place was pretty cool and it made for some awesome pictures.

Our guide also took us to another small town, the only interesting thing about that was this little shop I went into had a fairy exhibit on the upper floor. This felt extremely Gaelic to me for some reason. We also stopped at an old Abbey.

After the tour was done, the group with the students thought that they were going to be dropped back off where they came (some 45 minutes away from Dublin) since they got picked up. But, the bus driver had been with us for over 12 hours and I’m sure his shift was ending. It also said that pick-ups and drop-off were not included in the tour. This man had just driven us around all day and they were extremely angry. The students were also angry in that they had to pay for a train ticket home. Who ever organized the tour for them didn’t get the full information and that wasn’t the driver’s fault. In the end, he kindly dropped them off at the train station so they didn’t have to walk from the drop-off point. None of the students gave him tips, not even the teachers. I was very angry by this since I thought he was amazing and he put so much effort into making our trip awesome. By the end I gave him 10 euro tip (that’s all I can afford) because I felt so bad for him and I wanted to show him that I appreciated all of his effort and his stories and knowledge.

I walked back to my hostel where I met 3 other people who were in my room. Two of them were from the states and one was from Sweden. By the time I got back to the hostel, it was already 9 almost 10pm. I went to get some food and had a chat with some of the kids in the lounge. They were all very cool and in the same boat I was–they were traveling abroad for a long time hopping from place to place. I guess it’s very common, especially in Europe. There was a girl from England, a guy from England, a girl from Australia, and 3 guys from the States, one was even from San Jose and went to Cal. They invited me out but by the time they got going it was almost 1am and I was POOPED from my day trip, so I had to pass. I went to sleep and literally passed out.

Barack Obama Plaza

DSC_1424

The Barack Obama Plaza, guys

DSC_1425

It just literally looks like this

The City of Limerick

DSC_1430

The city of Limerick

DSC_1445

How picture-esque is this place? Straight out of a movie

DSC_1447

Castle + Swan = SWAN PRINCESS

DSC_1448

The stone that they used to sign the treaty (but didn’t actually sign on it)

DSC_1439 DSC_1444

Random Scenic Views while Driving

DSC_1449

Refurbished Castle bought by the O’Brien’s. There are hundreds of castles like these and most of them are ruins unless they’ve been bought and restored like this one.

DSC_1457

What once was a castle

DSC_1453

These stone fences were common, they use the stones from the burren

DSC_1461

MOOOOOo!

DSC_1459

So lush and green

THE CLIFFS OF MOHER EVERYBODY

DSC_1503

Inside the mountain in the Visitor’s center

DSC_1463 DSC_1500 DSC_1495 DSC_1487 DSC_1472

The Burren

DSC_1505 DSC_1528 DSC_1512 DSC_1518 DSC_1511

Little Random Local City (with a hidden Fairy Exhibit in a small shop)

DSC_1543 DSC_1546 DSC_1544 DSC_1545

Weekend #4

I should just name the title “Sunday”, since my weekend was really only Sunday since I had work on Saturday (groan).

Saturday, July 11

Today I had work all day. After that I went back to my flat and hung out with my flatmates for the first time in forever (since I had been with my mom the whole week prior). I made some dinner (more like heated up dinner) and drank some booze since me and some of my flatmates were going out. They had tickets to the Ministry of Sound, I didn’t have a ticket because I didn’t want to buy the boat cruise that was going on during the day since I had work. When we got there it was 28 quid (that’s slang for pounds) just to get in! Ridiculous! But luckily the girl in front of me told me that if you have a student ID, you can get a discount to get in for 21 pounds (ugh I don’t have the pound sign on this keyboard). I realized I didn’t have my student ID, but I begged the lady in the front and she believed me and gave it to me for 21lbs (lol, lbs). The club was pretty cool, and I was trying really hard to get into the music, but the music here is so different, it’s a little hard. I fake danced the night away (since i don’t know how to dance to techno with no words or singing to it) and went home with these other 2 girls from my program [:

Sunday, July 12

A day off yay! First off, I slept until 12pm since I went to bed at 4am. Then, me, Carly, Drea, Madina, and her friend from Germany went to Camden Town to shop and walk around. Camden Town was packed to the brim with tourists! I can see why, this place is very interesting and has a lot of character to it. This place seemed like the birth of grunge and goth with it’s eclectic shops and unique storefronts. I wanted to take pictures of the shops but there are a lot of “no picture” signs in them (sucks). There were shops that had steampunk-esque clothes, old Victorian goth, cutesy Victorian tea party lacey vintage clothes, and more. I got a cute black lace dress from the cutesy Victorian-esque tea party store (I had to buy something, it was just…too cute).

We walked around more and ended up at the Camden Market. They had a great outdoor area with street food from every country in the world (literally) and the food was super authentic because the people running these stalls were native to their country. I ended up getting Italian street food, but that was only because it was so crowded and I didn’t want to go all the way back through the bodies of people to look all over again. After that we roamed around the markets. I got this cool witch pendant from witches and a hand-carved tribal face from a sculpturist from India, who learned how to make sculptures by learning from the people who would carve Hindu statues for the temples (SOOO COOL). We walked around more and found more interesting stuff, this place is crawling with unique items, but it started to rain so we waited for the tube to open back up and went home!

El Fotos

DSC_1321

Hand-made pasta (I was so tempted to get this but I kept walking…regrets)

DSC_1323

My home-made smoothie next to my home-made Italian Street food wrap with prosciutto, arugula, mozzarella, y tomato (they also had dough the size of a fat man’s belly sitting on the table where they made the wrap from)

DSC_1324

The view from where I was sitting to eat (you can see half of the food market on the left).

DSC_1326

This market is the Horse Stable Market, where this old stable was converted into a market back in 18-something.

DSC_1327

Each stall is a different store! I always try to imagine old stuff back in it’s hay-day (LOL PUN). Imagine this place filled with horses, that is just so cool to me.

My Week With My Mom! (Week #3)

This week I was definitely spoiled! My amazing mama came to visit me in London, and I got to stay in her luxurious hotel. Definitely a step up from my flat, I mean this room has air conditioning, a comfy bed, room maintenance, and best yet, a TV! I haven’t watched British television since I’ve lived here and watching it for the first time was very interesting (and boring, they have shitty entertainment here). So let’s see, I will break it down again by day to give you my week!

Monday, June 8

I had my internship today, I’m learning a lot and just happy to be in the fashion industry! Mom went to Wimbledon today, she was fortunate enough to buy a ticket and sat at Court 1. We were supposed to go get Ramen today after work, but she said that she was going to watch 3 matches instead of 2, so me and Carly went out instead since we love our 2 for 1 Bun Monday’s at Shoryu ramen. After that mom came home exhausted.

Tuesday, June 9

For work, I am constantly traveling around London to different manufacturers. Today I ended up in Stratford. I always end up in Stratford, since that’s where one of their manufactures are based, so I told mom to meet me at Westfield. We first went to a bar called Cafe Football, where we watched Wimbledon on TV and drank San Miguel (beer from the Philippines yeeeey). After that we tried to shop, but the shops were so crowded and it was hard to look around like that, since I am her child after all and we tend to hate the same things like being around crazy people in malls that are crowded. So we opted to get dinner at this Brazilian place that served us some good food. We had tickets to a rooftop movie across the street, so we got our blankets and set up in our little chairs and headsets. The movie we were watching was “10 Things I Hate About You” starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Heath Ledger. Surprisingly that was my first time watching that movie, and I loved it. It was a teenager click flick and I dug it! Plus, it is so cool to watch it on a rooftop outside in great weather.

IMG_9233-1 IMG_9234

Wednesday, June 10

Work was work, I had a lot of traveling to do today. They made me go from their store in Highgate, back to Clerkenwell, then back to Highgate, then to Stratford, then back to Clerkenwell. Awesome stuff right? Anyways, the Tube was going on strike today so we got to leave a little early from work, since the Tube would be closing at 6:30. I met mom at the hotel and we went to dinner at this really cool Japanese place that was AMAZING. It was the best food I have eaten in London so far. The atmosphere was really cool too since it was like rock-n-roll theme-ish? They restaurant also had a ramen spot called Bone Daddy’s that we will try out next time. We went to this play after called “The Mentalist”, a comedy show about two guys. I wanted to try it out since it was British and comedy and I wanted to see how it was. Well it was terrible. Like horrible, actually. I thought it would have some substance or being interesting at all. Well it wasn’t and I actually fell asleep during it…Never doing that again. Mom and I got boba after and walked home since the trains weren’t working.

IMG_9238-1 IMG_9243-1

Thursday, June 11

Today I didn’t have work! Yay! It was also good I didn’t have work because it was a Tube strike, which meant havoc on the streets. Literally the streets were bumper to bumper traffic and the sidewalks were filled to the brim with people. We couldn’t get anywhere on the bus so we had to walk. We first got breakfast, then walked about 1.5 miles to the London Museum, which was very interesting because I love history. Then again they also don’t mention in their museum or history about their cruel pasts as a colonizing country or the fact that they had slaves, but of course why would they mention and make their perfect country look bad.

After that we walked to Shoreditch to the Box Park where I bought me and JM shoes from Filling Pieces, an Amsterdam designer sneaker that isn’t available in the states. We wanted to go home after and tried the bus, which was a bust since we went NO WHERE so we got off and walked the rest of the way home, which was around 1.7 miles. At home, we wanted to watch the women’s semi-finals (Serena against Maria Sharapova) so we went to this American Sports Bar (lol) and ordered 2 beers each. After that we walked all the way to Knightsbridge to go shopping at Harvey Nichols and Harrods. Such great luxury apartments. After that again we walked all the way to this gourmet Dim Sum place that was really good and then walked home exhausted from the day since we basically walked like over 6 miles.

DSC_1302

Filling Pieces was even playing Little Simz (my favorite British rapper) when I came in

DSC_1305

Vertical garden on a hotel

DSC_1307

Crazy amount of people on bikes and on foot during this Tube strike.

DSC_1316

The cute tribute to Princess Diana and her boyfriend in Harrods

DSC_1312

My mom and her adorable self.

DSC_1319

Harrods, the department store that looks like a palace

Friday, June 12

I had work yet again, and I turned in my SWOT analysis. My manager said it was the best first project that she has read by an intern ever, that’s good news. Anyways, after work I met mom and we went to the Bone Daddy’s ramen place that was pretty good. I had to leave her because I wanted to go out that night (which I shouldn’t have done at all and instead have stayed the last night with her, but I went out instead). I got ready and everything but by the time we got going it was already 1am and I had to leave because I had work in the morning (yes I’m like one of the only people in my whole program that has to work on weekends).

Overall it was a great week with my mom. She spoiled me rotten and after living the life, coming back to the flat without her is making me miss home even more. But I’m glad she came and I had such a good time! LOVE YOU MAMA ❤