A weekend spent in Germany is a weekend well spent

My time in Germany was brief, but, nonetheless, amazing. Munich was everything I had hoped for. It was clean, the people were friendly, and all around – the city was stunning.

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After a long day of traveling, we finally arrived in Munich. We did what anyone else would do and headed to a famous beer house (Augustiner-Braustuban) for a pint and a pretzel. Now I’m not a huge beer fan but I figured it was an unwritten rule that you have a beer in Germany so I did just that and to my own surprise, I didn’t HATE it. We sat at this long table with a bunch of strangers who we quickly made friends with while we shared a basket of pretzels, a lot of laughs, and classic German meal. It was nice to see that despite the language barrier, we could communicate with mostly everyone at our table.Screen Shot 2018-03-07 at 9.38.24 AM

After our beer and pretzels, we headed to bed so we could get a nice and long day of exploring in the morning.

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The next day we woke up early and had breakfast at the most adorable little café – California Bean. The owner was the sweetest little German lady and she made my cousin and I feel right at home. The coffee was phenomenal, as was the food, and our eggs were shaped like hearts – which made them taste that much better. If you’re ever in Munich I highly recommend this place for breakfast (as good breakfast places in Europe are few and far between.)

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After breakfast, we went right to Marienplatz which is the city’s main square. It reminded me a lot of Paris (which I love).  We visited Saint Peters church, went inside of what felt like every single shop, and walked and ate our way through the markets.

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That night we wanted to check out Munich’s night life so we had a few (too many) drinks at a cocktail bar and our overly friendly bartender ended up taking us to Pacha night club at the end of the night (it’s the same one they have in Barcelona and Ibiza so if you’re looking for a fun club, I highly recommend.)

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Our last day in Germany was my favorite by far. We woke early and took the train to Fussen. The train was a little over 2 hours each way but was SO worth the trip.  From the train station we took a bus to Neuschwanstein castle (which is what Sleeping Beauty’s castle is modeled after). The bus drops you off at the bottom of this enormous mountain, so to see the castle you have to climb up the mountain. I am probably one of, if not THE most, uncoordinated person EVER. So, me hiking up this mountain was a site to see FOR SURE, and to make it even more interesting, it had just snowed the day before so the ground was covered in ice (no ski lift to the top???? COME ON).

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After what felt like days, we finally made it to the top and boy was the view worth it. Seeing the Castle covered in snow with the mountains in the background was breathtaking and is a MUST SEE if you’re in/around Munich.

 

After our photo shoot at the top of the mountain, we climbed back down and took the bus back to Fussen. It was the cutest, quaintest little town and the people could not have been any sweeter. The streets were filled with small bakeries, restaurants, and families out with their children

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That night we had no set plans so I googled things to do around where we were staying(My legs were tired from my big hike so I was trying to keep it close). I found another beerhouse less than a mile away from us so we decided to walk and check it out. This place made my entire Germany experience. We walk into this JAM PACKED place and see a lady at the front collecting payment. Of course, we had no idea what we were paying for but we just went with it anyway (I later found out it was the strong beer festival.

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We walked in to this ginormous hall that sat over 350 people and almost every seat in the entire hall was filled, and every person had a pint of beer in hand. There was a fantastic band playing, people dressed in lederhosen’s, and the whole crowd was standing on their chairs dancing and cheering.  The energy in the room was so positive and fun, and everyone was embracing one another like family.

In the short time we were here, I fell in love with this beautiful country and their people and can’t wait to explore it some more one day. NEXT STOP, VIENNA!!!

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Not all who wander are lost (Unless you try and use google maps in a foreign country, then you’re probably lost.)

Anyone that knows my brother and I can attest that we are polar opposites. So, when we decided to travel separately and meet in Tokyo, it was bound to make for an interesting story.

I am a planner in every sense of the word, and he is, well, certainly way more spontaneous. When I first booked this trip, I planned every hour of every day in my little pink agenda book. Prior to leaving, my brother informed me that when he arrived, he would be following no “set plans” and would be taking the days on as they came. Now im REALLY trying hard with this” uncomfortable” New Year’s resolutions thing, so I ditched my detailed plans and decided I would tag along and wing it with him.

We started our day with an early breakfast at my favorite NYC – Sarabeth’s – breakfast spot that also happens to have locations throughout Japan. I had already seen pretty much all of Tokyo so I decided it would be best that we venture on a day trip to a nearby city. I hit up good old google, and found a city called Yokohama, so we decided to give it a look.

 

 

On the way there I was responsible for the map and directions so we arrived with no problem (The way home was a different story).

When we arrived, we came across a local zoo and stopped by to take some pictures and check out the animals. Then, in dire need of an English menu and some American food, we lunched at the Hard Rock. (So cultured we are, I know!!!!)

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Across the street from the Hard Rock was a pier with a bunch of rides so that’s where we spent most our day. I know the Japanese are technologically advanced, but seeing their amusement park first hand was quite the experience.

 

They had virtual reality roller coasters, and the glass bottom Ferris wheel we rode was equipped with an iPad and games (yah know, in case you get bored of the views and the people you’re with and need some candy crush in your life!!!) and rather than toys or stuffed animals, the claw machines were filled with plastic pieces of sushi and kabob sticks.

 

After we were done wandering around the pier, we were both exhausted and decided to head home. My phone was dead and I had run out of data (thanks Verizon for the ½ GB allowance!!) so I left my brother in charge of the maps (big mistake). At the last stop, we got off the train and my brother informed me we were only 800 feet from our Airbnb. We walked out of the station, and right in front of our face was Tokyo Tower and I immediately knew we had gone way too far.

By this point, both our phones are dead and we were both out of data!!! So, we found a coffee shop a couple blocks down, plugged in our phones and used their Wi-Fi to figure out where we were and how to get home. I put our address into google maps only to see that we somehow ventured an hour past our Airbnb so we were back to square one.

After a 3-hour ride, we finally made it home only to see that our door had been unlocked all day and our floor was flooded!!!!!!

If I have learned anything over the course of the past year, it’s that things RARELY go as planned when you travel in a foreign country, and sometimes all that you can do is laugh 🙂

 

“Give a girl the right shoes and she’ll conquer the world” (Unless they’re heels and you’re walking 15+ miles)

During my second day in Japan, (a cold and rainy one) against my best judgment, I strutted 3-inch suede booties 15 miles around the city.  As you can imagine, by that evening, my feet were swollen and I could barely feel my toes. Now, traveling is a lot of things, relaxing is not one of them. The days are long; jet lag is REAL and you walk A WHOLE LOT. (I’m not complaining, I love to travel, but it is certainly exhausting and not much of a “vacation”).

 

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Despite the not so great weather, I visited the top of the Tokyo government building (which overlooks all of Japan), got a glass of wine, and enjoyed the most beautiful views of the city. On my way, back from the government building, I passed a park that looked similar to Central Park and I decided to take a gander.

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To my surprise, parks in Japan aren’t free, you PAY to walk in them. (The bar at the top of the highest building in Japan was free but not the park???? Hmm.)   After my lovely stroll through the park, I attempted the metro system to get to Tokyo tower (Japans Eiffel tower look alike).

My experience with the metro can be summed up with one phrase “OMG”!!!!!!!

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I never knew that many people could fit in such a tiny space and I seriously felt like a packed sardine. But after SEVERAL disasters, lots of charades, and little to no English-speaking help, I SOMEHOW MADE IT, and boy was it well worth all the craziness.

 

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By the time I left the tower, it was torrentially down pouring, I was soaking wet, umbrella-less and looked very similar to a wet dog.  Just as I was about to lose my mind, an older gentleman stopped me on the street, smiled, and handed me his umbrella to keep.  It made my heart so warm, and was just the reminder I needed of the good still left in this world, and most importantly, why I made the decision to travel.

 

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Long flights, and sushi, and robot dogs oh my!!!!

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My first day in Tokyo can be described in one word, “WOW”!!!  It was everything I had expected it to be, challenging, unique, uncomfortable, and overall, just wonderful.

When I first booked this trip, so many people asked me “why Tokyo?”. Honestly, I had no idea. I always thought about going ever since I heard the Hillary Duff song “Wake Up” in 2005 (“London, Paris, Baby Tokyo”), but there were other places on my “life check off list” (like Australia where there is no language barrier) that were way ahead of Tokyo. As someone who HATES to fly, 25 hours in the air is certainly not ideal and landing in a country where you don’t speak even the tiniest bit of their language is a bit terrifying to say the least.  When I decided to spend the year “getting comfortable with being uncomfortable” – my new years resolution – I knew this would be a great start. So, I took a leap of faith, and booked the trip.

After a 25-hour travel day, I landed in Japan at 530 AM. I hadn’t slept in over 48 hours, I couldn’t read a single sign, understand a single announcement, and I had absolutely no idea where I was in comparison to where I needed to go.  On top of all that, the internet on my phone wasn’t working, and none of my credit cards or debit cards would work. Delirious, hangry, and super frustrated, I did what I do anytime I’m in a difficult situation, drank an extra-large iced coffee and took a deep breath.

My original plan was to take the metro station from the airport to my Airbnb but that was out of the question when none of the ticket dispensaries took American cards. Luckily, Tokyo has uber so although not the most cost effective option, it was the most convenient and my only choice at this point.

My uber driver was incredible.  He was so genuine and kind and truly knowledgeable about the city.  He gave me great suggestions on things to see and places to eat during my stay, so it felt like fate that the train didn’t work out for me.

After an hour ride, I arrived at my Airbnb and it was everything I had expected. Super tiny, but centrally located. I took a quick shower, got myself together, and hit the ground running!!!

I walked out of my Airbnb and walked a few blocks until I saw a bus stop. I couldn’t read anything on the bus map except for the words “Shibuya Station”. Luckily for me, I had just watched the new Fuller House episodes on Netflix days before my trip, and the first few episodes are set in Tokyo. I remembered seeing that Shibuya was like the “Time Square “of Japan, so I figured that would be a cool place to start. (Who would’ve thought I would learn something from Fuller House????)

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I walked and walked until I couldn’t walk anymore and then stopped to try some authentic Japanese Sushi.  I sat at this little counter and ordered what I wanted off an iPad. (The sushi here is nothing like the sushi at home).  Above the counter where I was sitting was a conveyer belt , and when your food is ready it slides down to you and you grab it off the belt. There is absolutely no human interaction involved, all food and drinks are ordered and delivered this way.

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After I ate, I headed into this building that I thought was a shopping mall. It turned out to be a robotic dog park (yes that’s a thing, I couldn’t believe it either). The man working there instructed me to take my shoes off if I wanted to enter, so that’s what I did. I watched as people petted these robotic dogs, threw bones for them to fetch, and cuddled these plastic “animals”.  Confused, and a little creeped out, I asked the man what the point of these things were and he informed me that people consider them their PETS!!!!!

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By now, it was 5PM Japan time which is 3 AM in New Jersey so I decided I had seen enough for the day and headed to bed!!!!

Food delivery on a conveyer belt and robotic dog parks were just the beginning of this crazy Japanese adventure, Stay tuned!!!

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“Get comfortable with being uncomfortable”

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After graduating college in May with a bachelor’s degree in economics, my original plan suggested I would immediately take a full-time job within the financial sector, live with my parents for a few more years, and save enough money to buy a house.

Three days after graduating college, I hopped on a plane to Europe where I spent most of my summer interning in Barcelona, Spain. I traveled to some of the most incredible cities and countries in the world where I met some amazing people, ate some delicious food, and had some crazy life changing experiences in between.

After finishing up my internship in Barcelona, Spain I flew back home to New Jersey and after a few days of being home, I began to have some sort of “quarter life crisis”. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and got the sense that coming home and immediately accepting a full-time position may not be the next chapter in my story after all.

So, instead, I chose to take a leap of faith, travel around the world, and spend a year doing things far out of my comfort zone.

So, Here’s to new adventures and ALL things scary!! Follow along, FIRST stop, TOKYO!!!!!