Monday, August 3, 2015

Wilde in the World - Ten days in Europe

This past Memorial day, the boyfriend and I spent our vacation traveling across central and eastern Europe. We visited five countries in ten days, accumulating five different currencies, listening to five different languages and carrying all of our belongings on our backs.

I never did the European summer abroad while I was in college. I instead spent my summers earning money for tuition, working in the lab or completing industry internships. My first visit to Europe was in 2006, when the boyfriend and I took a Mediterranean cruise from Spain to Italy. Our second journey was a train trip that began in London and looped through western Europe, departing from Amsterdam.

This time we wanted to see the other half of Europe. We sat down at Starbucks with our computers, Google maps, Trip Advisor, United Airlines and Rail Europe working away. We decided on another open airline ticket and a West to East journey. Flying into Prague, we would then travel by train to Bratislava, Slovakia; Budapest, Hungary; Brasov, Romania; Bucharest, Romania and finally fly to Istanbul, Turkey. We would spend 1-2 days in each city, depending on the things that we wanted to do and the sites we wanted to see.

Planning the route, we realized that we need some luggage that was much more portable than our rolling luggage. After looking through Amazon for some time, I came across the eBags Mother Lode Weekender backpack. I wound up buying the boyfriend the full size backpack and myself the Junior size. I already owned several eBags packing cubes and they fit inside the backpack just perfectly. After planning the route, packing for the trip was the hardest thing.

Stylebook to the rescue! Again! I used the app to plan my outfits, whittle down my packing list and eventually pack my bags. My packing list usually starts off about twice as large as it needs to be. Once I realized that it wouldn't all fit into my new little backpack, some serious editing had to happen. For the ten days in Europe I packed 2 long sleeved shirts, three t-shirts, one sleeveless blouse, a pair of jeans, two pairs of capris and a skirt. I wore the bulkier items, cargo capris, long sleeved shirt and sneakers, on the plane.

I tried to keep the rest of the packing very light, because I like to buy books as souvenirs. I didn't want my bag to start out heavy and just get heavier! Here's my full packing list, in case you need a little help packing for your next trip abroad! I've included a link widget for specific items where I could find them!

3 t-shirts (Old Navy)
1 sleeveless blouse (Equipment)
2 long sleeved shirts (Gap)
1 pair jeans (7 for All Mankind)
2 pair capris (Joie & Stitchfix)
1 skirt (from Stitchfix)
2 tank tops (Gap)
Sandals (DSW)
Sneakers (Nike)
Crossbody Purse (Kate Spade)
4 pair ankle socks
4 pair underwear (Victoria's Secret)
2 bras
Sleep shorts & shirt
Face wash
Tangle teaser
Hair ties & bobby pins
Tinted moisturizer
DSLR Camera
iPad - loaded with travel guides
Dropps laundry detergent
Eyemask & earplugs

I didn't bring any shower toiletries, as we were staying in hotels for the entire trek across the continent. I also brought some Dropps laundry detergent packs to wash my socks and underwear at the halfway point. It also helps to split your toiletries with your traveling partner. If you are planning on enjoying the nightlife in Europe, I might also suggest packing a cute dress! And some eyeliner.

Stop back next for details on our first stop - Prague!

European packing list, train travel in Europe, 10 day European vacation

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Wilde in the World - Atlantis, Paradise Island, Bahamas

If you have been following me on Instagram, then you know that I just returned from a ten-day trip to China. With the completion of this recent visit, I realized that I am months behind on posting here at WITC! Rather than jumping ahead to China, I'm going to spend the next few weeks sharing the previous adventures, starting with our April vacation to Atlantis.

Each year, the boyfriend and I like to take a beach vacation. Generally we try to schedule this trip for February or March, right when we can't stand any more Northeastern winter weather. Due to crazy schedules at both of our jobs, this years beach vacation was pushed into April. We decided to spend half of the vacation on a quiet island (see my Eleuthera post here) and the second half of the vacation at Atlantis.

After the quiet isolation of Eleuthera, Atlantis was quite the shock. Not shocking in that I was awed by the size, beauty,etc. I've been to Atlantis twice before. It was shocking because of how many people were on the property.

Atlantis is celebrating its 20th anniversary and had quite a few vacation deals happening in April. This lead to the resort being pretty busy and all the lounge chairs filling up quickly. I would recommend visiting Atlantis during the quiet months. In the past, I've enjoyed Atlantis for New Years Eve...

And in September, days before a hurricane...

This visit to Atlantis was only three days, but it was just long enough for us. Perhaps if you have a family, you and your kids would want to stay for at least five days. You could make it a full weeks vacation if you throw in a few off-resort excursions. Yet, with the cost of a room at Atlantis, I would try to make the most of your time on site and find a different hotel for a few days on Nassau.

The boyfriend and I aren't really night owls, so we never make use of the hotel casino, bars or restaurants. You're more likely to find us up early, enjoying a coffee at the island Starbucks and settling into a prime spot at the pool.

We generally spend all day at the pool, in the waterpark or on the beach. By the time the sun goes down, we are exhausted and simply want some pizza and our bed. We managed to stay up "late" one night and took in a 9:00 movie in the theater.

I did mention that there were deals to be had on Atlantis hotel rooms, right? We snagged one of those deals and were rewarded with this amazing view...

Not such a huge letdown for the boyfriend and I, since we didn't plan on spending hours relaxing on our balcony and looking at the ocean. Just be warned that if you book a discounted room at the hotel, you will most likely wind up with a roof view balcony!

Finally, I highly recommend wearing a rash guard while enjoying the waterpark. I wore my Mara Hoffman set all week. I was rewarded with dozens of compliments and questions about where to buy it, but I also escaped without a sunburn. It's so difficult to keep up with the sunscreen when you're busy floating around in the lazy river.

Would I recommend Atlantis for a vacation? Sure. Though I would highly recommend booking your vacation with one of their holiday deals. Often times you can get free airfare or deeply discounted room rates. Everything on Paradise Island is pretty pricey, so be sure to pack some extra snacks in your luggage to cut down on incidental food costs, leaving you more money to enjoy your time in the sun!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

2015 Goals - Mid-year Update

Here we are, just over halfway through 2015! I thought that I should take a moment to check in with the goals that I made in January. I have to admit that I haven't done my best so far this year. I all but forgot about the goals until a few weeks ago! Going goal by goal, let's see where I am and how far I have left to go...

Health & Fitness
1. Workout 4 times per week - I'm so close to this goal! On weeks that I'm not traveling I make it to the gym three times per week and I do one home workout. Sadly, I've been a total slacker when I'm traveling. Sometimes I don't even bother to pack my gym clothes. On the bright side, I wear my Fitbit everyday and try to hit my 10,000 steps each day.

2. Run a half marathon - My favorite marathon (The Central Park Women's Half) fell on a weekend that I was away at a conference. I was so sad! I'm looking for a fall half marathon. And the will to train for a marathon during the heat of the summer. Ugh, I hate running in hot weather.

3. Strive for Five - Definitely not five. I think I'm closer to 3 a day. Summer is always better because produce is more delicious. I need to do some research into making this goal a little easier.

Personal Growth
4. Take four courses - Ultimate fail. I haven't done anything to improve myself yet this year. I do spend time each week looking through course websites. I have the urge, just not the conviction...

5. Visit two new places - This goal can definitely be crossed off the list! So far this year I have visited Eleuthera (Bahamas), Prague (Austria), Bratislava (Slovakia), Budapest (Hungary), Brasov & Bucharest (Romania), Istanbul (Turkey) and Shanghai & Beijing (China). I still have a few more trips planned for this year, my passport is getting quite the workout! 

6. Make our new house a home - The boyfriend and I are well on our way to completing the renovation and decoration of our new townhouse. We still have two rooms to paint/reno and there are some missing pieces of furniture in each room, but we have a collective goal to finish before this year is up! 

How to Be an Efficient Blogger- Great tips to get more done and stay organized from The Turquoise Home. #blogging #blogtips
what I need to learn...

7. Post 3 times per week across both WITK and WITC - Total, major fail. While I have been traveling a lot this year, I have definitely had time to post more often than I do. What have I been doing? I have no idea. I need to utilize my planner more in life.

8. Add more lifestyle posts to WITC - Does this one count? Probably not. Time to get back on some sort of blogging schedule.

9. Try 12 more candy recipes for WITK - I've completed 3 more candy recipes so far this year - Cadbury Creme EggsHoney Marshmallow Peeps and Raspberry Lemonade Jellies. I tend to make more candies in the fall/holiday season, so hopefully I can finish up this goal during that time of the year.

How are your 2015 goals coming along? Have you met your expectations, or have you abandoned all hope? We've still got another 6 months in this year, time to redouble our efforts and make 2015 a year full of growth and adventure!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Wilde in the World - Eleuthera, Bahamas

The boyfriend and I recently took a well-deserved Caribbean vacation. We wanted to go somewhere relaxing, with quiet beaches and warm water. There had to be snorkeling and sites to see, but most importantly it had to be affordable. We don't have exclusive resort kind of money.

We chose Eleuthera.

We flew from Newark, NJ to Fort Lauderdale, FL. From there we hopped on a tiny little plane with twenty other people and enjoyed a bumpy 45 minute flight to Eleuthera island. Our destination was Governor's Harbor airport, right in the middle of the island.

Upon landing and walking to the airport, our luggage was carried into the international arrivals terminal, aka, a tiny building the size of a garage. Our rental car was delivered right to the front door and we drove the fifteen minutes from the airport to our little bungalow. I will highly recommend the Squire Estates in Governor's Harbor. We rented the Cottage at Belmont and it was just the perfect little space for two.

Then it was off to the beach!

See that lunatic is the background? That's the boyfriend. He's playing with a ball.

Eleuthera was the perfect place to spend a few days. Just about every beach was a private beach. The waters on the Caribbean side are shallow for hundreds of feet out. Snorkeling areas are plentiful.

I only have one complaint - the food is so expensive! Not necessarily restaurant food, but a trip to the grocery store will set you back a pretty penny! Be sure to pack some extra snacks in your suitcase.

My favorite part of a Caribbean vacation? TING! You can get Ting in American grocery stores these days, but nothing tastes better on the beach.

Oh yeah, and the Buick that everyone is looking for in this commercial? I think we found it.  

This beauty was our rental car. It came with all of those fancy dents - custom decor.

After a relaxing visit to Eleuthera Island, we hopped over to Nassau and spent a few days doing the opposite of relaxing at Atlantis. Stop by Friday for Atlantis through the years!

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