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The 10 Best Water Parks in the USA

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Whether you want to enjoy a big splash or a relaxing float, these water-focused resorts and amusement parks offer ample facilities to keep you entertained.


Discovery Cove: Orlando, Florida

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A tropics-themed water park designed by SeaWorld, Discovery Cove is an all-inclusive day resort where visitors interact with and learn about marine life. Change into swimwear and join a trainer to swim with dolphins (a premium, must-try activity), feed rays and tropical fish, and tour a screened-in aviary with exotic birds. Most activities and all meals and drinks are included in the $170 per person standard admission rate


Cowabunga Bay Water Park: Draper, Utah

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Sitting less than 20 miles south of Salt Lake City, this 1960s-themed water park is decorated with surfboards, sandcastles and a 1967 Volkswagen Beetle water feature. At the park’s elaborate water playground, kids have access to bridges and tunnels that span 12 levels, as well as 300-plus water toys and a 1,500-gallon dump bucket. While older children twist through the 1,000-foot-long Mondo waterslide in the dark, little ones can lounge at Cowabunga Beach or enjoy Cowabunga Kid’s Cove’s smaller slides


Sandcastle Waterpark: Pittsburgh

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This wooded Pittsburgh oasis is a nostalgic treat. Though the main attractions at this former railroad yard are its 15 waterslides, the property also features a wave pool, a lazy river, a pool with a mushroom-shaped waterfall, and shallow play areas for young ones. Plus, family-friendly games, activities and more are available every Friday from mid-June to mid-August. Come for lounging, heart-pumping fun and bingeing on loaded Potato Patch fries – a local specialty.


Noah’s Ark Waterpark: Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin

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Located in Wisconsin Dells, the “Water Park Capital of the World,” the 70-acre Noah’s Ark Waterpark is home to more than 50 attractions, including the Flash Flood flume ride and a 4D dive-in theater that engages all the senses. This innovative park’s latest thrill is the side-by-side tube racer, Raja, which sends riders speeding around 335 feet of track before they plunge 37 feet into the mouth of a king cobra.


Water World: Federal Heights, Colorado

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One of America’s largest water parks, this 70-acre park, which sits approximately 10 miles north of Denver, features 50 attractions, including a circus-inspired lazy river and the Thunder Bay Wave Pool. Children may also have the opportunity to meet the park’s walrus mascot when they’re not zipping down slides or playing in the pirate-themed water playground. Plus, families have access to free parking, complimentary admission for kids shorter than 40 inches, and reduced rates for seniors.


Schlitterbahn Waterpark & Resort New Braunfels: New Braunfels, Texas

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When owners Bob and Billye Henry added a replica German guard tower with four waterslides to their riverfront resort near San Antonio in 1979, they started what would become one of America’s most well-known water park chains. The first of five indoor and outdoor water park resorts, New Braunfels’ Schlitterbahn features 51 German-themed attractions, including the Kinderhaven wading pool, a castle with eight tube chutes, and the thrilling Master Blaster uphill water coaster.


Legoland Water Park: Carlsbad, California

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Young builders will love this park’s Lego-themed rides, slides and splash pads. Kids can even customize rafts for the lazy river using soft Lego bricks. Cartoon Network fans will especially appreciate the Lego Legends of Chima section that’s based on the popular kids television show. Noteworthy features of this area include a spot for kids to design, build and race boats, and the Lion Temple Wave Pool’s arch, which is made of more than 260,000 Legos.


Six Flags Hurricane Harbor: Jackson, New Jersey

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This massive tropics-themed water park sits about 55 miles northeast of Philadelphia. Just as the adjacent Six Flags Great Adventure theme park is known for big coasters, the 45-acre Six Flags Hurricane Harbor (which is one of several in the country) is popular with water lovers. It features more than 25 thrill slides, including the multilane Big Wave Racer and Tornado, which boasts a 60-foot-wide funnel. Additionally, visitors will find a 1 million-gallon wave pool, a nearly half-mile-long lazy river and the family-friendly Caribbean Cove water playground.


Raging Waters Los Angeles: San Dimas, California

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Raging Waters features three California water parks, but its most impressive is Raging Waters Los Angeles. Situated less than 30 miles east of downtown Los Angeles, this water park is the state’s largest. It’s home to a FlowRider surf simulator, a seven-story drop slide and Aqua Rocket, a four-person hydromagnetic water coaster, among other attractions. If you’d rather chill during your visit, check out the quarter-mile-long lazy river.


Darien Lake Splashtown: Darien Center, New York

85.jpegSituated roughly 45 miles southeast of Niagara Falls, this 10-acre water park is part of the Darien Lake amusement park complex, which has entertained families seasonally for more than 50 years. Splashtown offers seven slides, such as the 70-foot-tall Brain Drain and 700-foot-long Big Kahuna. In addition to slides, visitors can float in the heated lazy river, play in the pirate-themed water playground and splash around in the 600,000-gallon wave pool. The property also features a hotel, cabins and campsites.

Featured

8 Ways to Spend The Perfect Summer Night

 

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Summer is  finally here leaving everyone with plenty of nights to spend doing insanely fun activities. Despite the fact that it may feel tempting to stay in your house and binge watch Netflix shows alone, that can be done at any time. Summer nights should be cherished! If you’re worried that the first month of summer vacation will be boring or bland for you with nothing to do, think again. Here are eight ideas to inspire you to spend the perfect summer night.


See a musical

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Although you can see an afternoon musical, there’s nothing quite as spectacular as seeing one at night. Evenings are the epitome of romance, and with melodious singing and an entertaining storyline, you’re bound to chuckle and have a grin on your face. After seeing such a striking performance, waltzing your way out of the theatre and walking on the paved streets at night in a city full of pretty lights will give you a euphoric sense of freedom. Besides, wouldn’t you want to dance and prance to the story of your life like how Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling did in La La Land?


Go to the movies at a drive-in

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Drive-in theatres are trendy, classic, cool and very different compared to the theatres we have today. Why go to an indoor movie theatre when you can bring some snuggly blankets and portable chairs along with a few friends or family members to a drive-in theatre? If you want, you could just sit inside of your car for a comforting seat and high-quality sound system. There’s no need for air conditioning indoors when you can watch a film or two outdoors with the summer breeze and beneath the starry night sky!


Have an evening stroll along the beach

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Isn’t the beach’s atmosphere much more serene and picturesque in the evening? Sit on the beach and watch the hues of oranges, purples and yellows in the sky as the sun sets and becomes pitch black — perfect for Instagram-worthy pictures. Walk barefoot in the sand and feel the cold water touch your toes as the ocean waves come crashing on the shores. Calm nights like these tend to help people appreciate the little things in life more.


Have a bonfire

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Gather your friends and have a bonfire to keep warm during chilly summer nights. Instead of being engrossed with your phone and social media, have interesting and spontaneous conversations while you snuggle by the fire and wear blanket capes! You can also play music using portable speakers or even have live music with you and a few other friends singing and strumming guitars. There’s nothing that screams summer like roasting marshmallows and having a blast with music, singing, laughter and heartfelt talks at a bonfire gathering.


Go to a music festival

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Yes, Coachella may be the most well-known music festival for artsy pictures and bohemian fashion, but there are much more kinds of music festivals of various music genres during the summer besides that. Some examples include Vans Warped Tour, The Governors Ball Music Festival and Hangout Music Festival. What’s more fun than going to a music festival with some your friends, jamming out to your favorite tunes? It’s definitely better than bopping up and down by yourself in your room! Get ready to jump, sing, scream your lungs out and most of all, have a good time


Stargaze

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Do you ever take the night sky for granted? Well, here’s your chance to appreciate the beauty of the night. Lay down in a hammock, sit on a bench or lay down on a picnic mat on the grass and just stare at the starlit sky. It’s the perfect opportunity to pause everything you’re doing to try to spot some constellations and admire the sky. This could also be a cute summer date idea or fun hang out with your best friends. Who knew that the beautiful stars could help people bond?


Build a blanket fort

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Here’s a way to relive your childhood again if you’ve built one before or even a completely new and exciting experience if you haven’t! Once you’ve finished your masterpiece, you can spend the night watching movies and shows on Netflix, play card games like Uno and Cards Against Humanity and board games such as Monopoly and Reversi! Let the waves of nostalgia hit you while you play your old childhood games with others in your comfortable blanket fort.


Have a barbeque

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Forget cooking in the kitchen; an alternative way you can cook your food is to just have a barbecue outside on a nice summer night! Grill some steak, chicken, eggplants, vegetables and whatever food entices you, your family and friends. Having a barbecue is a great way to enjoy the weather and delicious food compared to traditional dinners at the dining table! It’s also better to enjoy the warm weather while it lasts and create laid-back yet entertaining summer memories.


Hopefully, these ideas have inspired you to create an unforgettable summer with dozens of memories that you’ll look back on and cherish. Remember, don’t just spend your summer Netflix-ing away because potentially amazing summer nights would cease to exist. Cherish your summer nights because summer night vibes are often the most magical, fun and breathtaking.

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Featured

What I Love About Summer

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I was walking my dog earlier this week and heard the cicadas, which I have to say, I love the sound of cicadas. It reminds me of growing up playing capture the flag in my neighborhood. It just makes me think of summer. So for the rest of my walk, I was thinking about all the things I love about summer. Here’s what came to mind:

 

1. Hanging out with friends

2. SUN, SUN AND MORE SUN!!!

3. Swimming

4. The heat

5. Shorts

6. Flip flops

7. Pool parties!

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8. Jamming out to music

9. Laying out

10. Sun-kissed skin

11. NO SCHOOL WORK

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12. Laughing with friends

13. Fresh Fruit

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14. Cookouts

15. Free time

16. Getting to spend time with your family

17. Going to the lake

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18. ICECREAM!!!

19. Sun glasses

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20. Fireworks.

21.Travel

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Featured

10 Things To Pack in Your Picnic Basket

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You’ve got the food, the location, and some good company. All that stands between you and a lovely outdoor meal is a well-packed picnic basket. Whether you have a proper wicker hamper or a canvas tote bag, fill it up with these picnic essentials and you’ll be prepared for anything.

These portable dishes are not only easy to take outdoors, but the prep work and make-ahead tips allow for a stress-free and delicious summer afternoon.

Frozen Bottles of Water

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The main rule for outdoor eating is to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Ice packs will get the job done, but frozen bottles of water do double duty. After they melt (and the food’s been eaten), you’ll have cold drinks on hand for everyone.

Corkscrew/Bottle Opener

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If you’re packing wine, beer, or bottles of soda, be sure to toss a corkscrew with a bottle opener in your bag. (Bonus points for packing plastic cups with sturdy, flat bottoms too.)

Wet Wipes
Pre-moistened wipes will keep hands clean and help clean up sticky spills, even if there’s no running water nearby.

Salt and Pepper

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Seasoning is a small thing, but goes a long way in making your picnic feel more thoughtful—especially if you happen to be eating fried chicken.

Paper Towels
You never know when you might have a big spill on your hands. And a roll of paper towels won’t blow away like a stack of napkins will.

A Tray

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If you’re eating on the ground, a lightweight plastic or enamel tray will provide a smooth surface to prevent drinks from toppling over.

Serving Spoons

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Cutlery is essential, of course, but don’t forget a large spoon or two for serving food.

Folding Knife

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A small folding knife will come in handy for a variety of jobs, and is essential if you’re serving meats and cheeses.

Cutting Board

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A lightweight cutting board is also a good idea if cheese is on the menu, or if you’re slicing sandwiches or fruit.

Trash Bags
Always throw a trash bag or two in your bag for easy clean up when the picnic’s over. Even if there are plenty of trash cans nearby, your own bag will save you from having to walk back and forth to throw everything away.

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Featured

10 Things Scream Does Better Than I Know What You Did Last Summer (& Vice Versa)

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Many people credit the ’90s as being a fun pop culture decade, and it’s true that some beloved horror movies came out of that time period as well. The mid-to-late ’90s brought us Scream (1996) and I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997). These two films are popular teen screams that everyone still has fond feelings about today, and each one has sequels (with varying degrees of success and quality). They are also both written by Kevin Williamson who is also known for creating Dawson’s Creek.

Every horror movie does some things really well and some things not quite so well. Here are five things that Scream does better than I Know What You Did Last Summer and vice versa.

***Also If you havent seen these 90s gems…Do yourself a favor and stop reading….GO watch and then come back and read….There are spoilers ahead******


SCREAM: META HORROR

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At first glance, these two films have a lot in common with one another: they are both from the ’90s and they both feature high school characters and scary scenes. But Scream stands out because of one thing: it’s a meta-horror film. It definitely goes without saying that when it comes to meta-horror, Scream does this so much better than any other movie. It’s what makes this film feel so fresh.

One of the characters, Randy Meeks (Jamie Kennedy), enjoys watching horror movies and has a crazy extensive knowledge of them. Not only that, but he’s pretty obsessed with the “rules” of the horror genre. He often tells the other characters about this, and he’s one reason why Scream is known as a meta-horror movie.


I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER: A LOVE STORY

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It might sound strange that I Know What You Did Last Summer has a love story, but the relationship between Julie James (Jennifer Love Hewitt) and her boyfriend, Ray Bronson (Freddie Prince Jr.), is really sweet. He cares about her and looks out for her and her safety… which is pretty key since the group of friends is being targeted by a killer.

Although Neve Campbell’s protagonist Sidney Prescott has a boyfriend (Billy Loomis, played by Skeet Ulrich), he not only pressures her into being intimate when she’s not ready but (spoiler alert) he ends up being the killer (or one of them). It’s safe to say that wasn’t a great love story.


SCREAM: A GREAT CAST

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The cast of Scream really is amazing. Of course, there’s Neve Campbell, who brings her talents to the girl-next-door role.

Other cast members include Drew Barrymore (whose opening sequence couldn’t possibly be more iconic), Courteney Cox as Gale Weathers, David Arquette as Deputy Dewey, and Rose McGowan as Sidney’s best friend Tatum Riley. Liev Schreiber plays Cotton Weary and even Matthew Lillard shows up as Stuart.


KNOW WHAT YOU DID SUMMER: A STRONGLY TOLD STORY

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Both of these horror movies are about serial killers, but there’s something about the way that I Know What You Did Last Summer tells the tale. Based on the 1973 novel by Lois Duncan, the film follows a group of teenagers who accidentally kill someone… or so they think. He’s not actually dead, he knows what happened, and he’s going after them.

The movie may be a bit cheesy (it was the ’90s, after all) but it’s interesting to watch as he targets each of them and as Julie tries to figure out what’s going on.


SCREAM: THE ICONIC MASK

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The killer in I Know What You Did Last Summer is a fisherman named Ben Willis who wears what looks like a black raincoat. He’s not exactly the most pleasant person around, that’s for sure, but he’s not nearly as iconic as the killer in Scream, Ghostface.

And Ben Willis isn’t as iconic as the mask that Ghostface wears, either. There is a reason why people wear this mask, along with the equally famous black coat, for Halloween year after year. It really wouldn’t feel the same if the mask had been different.


I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER: THE PREMISE IS SCARY

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Scream does have its scary moments, but it’s true that the movie has a fun, campy vibe that doesn’t always lend itself to making audiences cower under a blanket.

The premise of I Know What You Did Last Summer is honestly scary. If anyone puts themselves in the shoes of the main characters, they would think that this is a really unpleasant situation to be in. The idea that you would be walking around your town, trying to live your regular life, all the while knowing that someone was after you is incredibly tough. The killer even gets into the characters’ houses.


SCREAM: WES CRAVEN’S DIRECTION

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Wes Craven is widely considered to be a celebrated and talented director, and he was truly a masterpiece of horror movies. He directed Scream (along with the three sequels) and it is a testament to him that the movie is so good.

The movie’s direction is so flawless. There are many scenes that are beautifully shot, whether the camera is panning around the outside porch of Sidney Prescott’s home or watching the group of teenagers at their high school.


I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER: A BEAUTIFUL SETTING

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Most of the movie takes place in the small town of Southport, North Carolina during the summer. It’s a truly beautiful setting, and while the small town of Scream is nice-looking, it really has nothing on the other film’s atmosphere.

It’s definitely even more chilling to watch a scary story that is set in such an idyllic place since people figure “those types of things never happen here.” As Julie visits her friends or Ray down at the docks, it’s impossible not to get at least a little bit distracted by the scenery.


SCREAM: A TRULY SURPRISING REVEAL

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It’s fair to say that no one saw the ending of Scream coming: that Sidney’s boyfriend Billy was the killer, along with Stu. This is mostly because Sidney truly thought that the man her mom was having an affair with, Cotton Weary, was the one responsible for her death (especially because he had been put in jail for it). Audiences learned that Billy was furious that his dad and Sidney’s mom were actually romantically involved, and he was out for revenge.

There was no real “reveal” at the end of I Know What You Did Last Summer because, well, everyone knew who the killer was. That was the whole point of the story.


I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER: A TWIST ENDING THAT SETS UP THE SEQUEL

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There are many times that a character will be killed off in a horror movie or TV show only to come crawling back because—surprise—they’re not dead at all.

At the end of I Know What You Did Last Summer, Julie is showering at college and then it becomes clear that not only is the killer back, but he’s right there, in the bathroom. This is a twist ending since everyone thought that they would be left alone. It does set up the sequel really nicely.

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7 WAYS TO STAY HEALTHY WHILE TRAVELING

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Summer is here, which means it’s time for you to take a vacation! 😉 No matter where you’re headed or what you have planned, if you’re not prepared, a potential amazing vacation can take a turn for the worst. Here are our summer travel tips to help you learn from our mistakes. We hope you have an amazing summer!

1. STAY HYDRATED

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This always seems obvious, but when we’re out and about, it’s so easy for us to forget to drink enough water. PRO-TIP: If you carry a collapsible soft bottle, it makes carrying around water easier, since it can pack away into a pocket. Also, keep in mind that if you’re in a dryer climate than you’re used to, you’ll need to drink more water!

2. KEEP SNACKS ON HAND

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You never know what situation you’ll get into that will cause you delays. If you’re anything like us, we don’t function well when we’re hangry! If we know we’ll be out all day, we always try to pack snacks. It’s always a relief to find them in our packs especially when we get lost on hikes. Lately, we also love drinking Soylents, which is basically a meal in a bottle. It packs in all the nutrients you need in 400 kcal without the excess unhealthy parts of meals, and it tastes like cheerios and soy milk. 

3. ALWAYS APPLY AND REAPPLY SUNBLOCK

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One of the most common injuries with any outdoor activity is getting sunburnt! We’re usually great about applying beforehand, but we’ll admit that we sometimes get lazy about stopping mid-activity to reapply. We’ve learned the hard way one too many times that a bad burn can really ruin the rest of your trip if you’re having to hide from the sun. Most sunblocks tell you to reapply every couple hours, but if you’re swimming or sweating, you have to reapply even more frequently. While you’re at it, it’s also great to use coral safe sunscreen so that you’re not damaging the environment or the marine life when swimming. 

4. ALWAYS DRESS IN LAYERS TO BE PREPARED FOR ANY WEATHER.

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Even if you’re traveling in the summer, the temperatures can drop at night. Even if the outside temperature stays consistent, there are a lot of indoor spots you might visit that pump their AC. Usually, if we run into these situations, Jacob ends up giving me his jacket and he ends up being cold (great husband, right?). Now we both try our best to take at least one extra layer. 

5. TAKE VITAMIN C

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For our day to day, we love taking our gummy multi-vitamins almost as much as we love our candy! 😀 But when we know we’ll be in a crowded place or trapped on an airplane with sick passengers, we take Vitamin C to give our immune systems an extra boost. No more getting sick after every trip!

6. CARRY HAND SANITIZER OR BABY WIPES

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I may be a bit OCD, but carrying hand sanitizer and baby wipes have come in handy for us on so many occasions. Sometimes we’re in camping bathrooms that have no soap. Or sometimes you’re out and need to quickly clean something off.

7. PREVENT UNWANTED HITCHHIKERS

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Whether you are staying at a hotel, hostel, or temporarily renting an apartment, don’t get caught with unwanted hitchhikers! The Raid® Bed Bug Detector & Trap is a way to detect the presence of bed bugs early on. Esther and I have talked about bed bugs multiple times because we get paranoid whenever we feel itchy. Neither of us know much about what bed bugs look like or what to do if we were to find them. We were really curious to see how this worked!

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The Everygirl’s 2019 Summer Bucket List

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Well, this year really is going to be your year — the year you take full advantage of your summer. We’ve rounded up all of our favorite summer activities for our 2019 bucket list to make sure you’re getting the best of the best of what the season has to offer. By the time September rolls around, you’ll be thinking “that was the best summer ever.”

Support your local Farmer’s Market

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Even if going to the Farmer’s Market does not sound like your ideal summer activity, challenge yourself to spend a day exploring the booths and perusing the aisles of your local market. Find the freshest ingredients and make a meal using only what you picked up that day. If you love the Farmer’s Market as much as the pool come summertime, ditch your grocery store for the season and stock up on produce each week at the market. Either way, commit to spending the summer supporting local businesses and eating organic, fresh produce instead of sticking to your usual supermarket.

Rent a convertible for the afternoon

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Because while a sunny drive with music turned up and the windows rolled down is pretty great, a sunny drive with the music turned up in a convertible is even better. And surprisingly, it’s actually affordable! (The experience, that is, not the car.) Grab your crew and rent a convertible for a day from affordable car-sharing sites like Turo, Getaround, or RentalCars. Head to the beach, a drive-in theater, or just through your favorite street in town for a summer experience that feels as luxurious and fun and is it easy.

Make s’mores (the grown-up way!)

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What feels more like summer than a bonfire under the stars and some good ol’ fashioned s’mores? The answer: absolutely nothing. Take your bonfire from sleep-away camp to grown-up with gourmet versions of your favorite summer treat, like adding crushed blackberries and white chocolate or almond butter and banana. It’ll be all the same fun (and gooeyness) as the s’mores you knew as a child, but with a little sophisticated twist (aka a metaphor for your life, right?).

Perfect a boozy lemonade

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So maybe this isn’t the kind of lemonade you sold at your stand when you were a kid, but it’s certainly the kind of lemonade you’re going to want to have over and over again this summer. Forget your typical vodka soda or pinot noir and experiment with the refreshing flavors of the season like an adult take on your childhood favorite, or adding produce like watermelon, berries, and mint to your go-to cocktails. Vodka soda, who!?

Have a picnic while watching an outdoor movie

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Got a date night coming up? Forego your typical dinner and a movie and pack up a meal, a blanket, and a bottle of wine and head to your local park for an outdoor movie instead (if your town doesn’t have movies in the park, a charged up laptop and downloaded movie does the trick). If GNOs are more your thing, grab your friends, have everyone bring a dish (pot luck style) and meet up for a meal and a movie outdoors. Bonus tip: make the food themed, like cheese and wine pairings or Mexican food (queso and margs, anyone?).

Take a road trip you’ve never been on before

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Picture this: you and your best friend, a wide open road, the convertible top down, and iconic sunglasses — all Thelma & Louise style. OK so maybe the convertible is a stretch, and the sunglasses are too specific, but you get the idea. Why bother booking expensive plane tickets when you can make the travel a part of the vacation? 

Read at least 3 non-fiction books you wouldn’t normally choose

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Need a good beach read or looking to put together your comprehensive summer reading list? Instead of the usual romance novels or psychological thrillers, pick up a non-fiction book that you know nothing about. Choose an autobiography by someone you don’t normally agree with or a book covering a topic you don’t know much about. Also think about the self-help books available that cover subjects you may need help in (whether it’s about mindfulness, relationships, or is work-related). Spray on your sunscreen, spread out your beach towel, and get ready to learn a lot.

Pretend you’re a kid again at a county fair or amusement park

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It’s time to let your hair down — channel your inner “XO” and become a kid again at your local county fair or a nearby amusement park. Dress comfy and colorful, play games to win stuffed animals, scream at the top of your lungs on the rides, and eat whatever cotton-candy, fried, greasy garbage you want — absolutely guilt-free.

DIY your own (healthy) popsicles

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When it’s hot outside, does anyone else just crave popsicles? I mean, your first popsicle of the season is a summer rite of passage! Empower yourself with healthier options, using the freshest ingredients for the same satisfying and refreshing taste. Purée your favorite fresh fruit, combine berries with greek yogurt and honey, or make your own green juice popsicle by blending leafy greens, cucumber, ginger, and celery. Add mixtures in popsicle molds (with wooden sticks), and freeze for six hours. (Bonus: if you stuck one of these in a glass of Prosecco, we’d call you genius).

Go to an outdoor concert

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Pause your Spotify, take out your headphones, and listen to your music live this season. Whether it’s a three-day music festival or your favorite band on tour (Jonas Brothers, anyone?), buy your tickets ahead of time because an outdoor concert might just be the highlight of your summer.

Grow your own produce

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You may not think you have a green thumb, but growing your produce is healthier for you, better for the earth, easier on your wallet, and feels soempowering. If you have a yard and the space, start with basic tomatoes and lettuce (easy-to-grow summer produce), or if you’re in an apartment or just don’t have the space outdoors, grow fresh herbs indoors.

Spend a weekend learning a new skill

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Is there something you’ve always wanted to know how to do but just never have gotten around to learning how to do it? Maybe it’s a skill that will advance your career like photoshop, or a hobby you’ve always been interested in like playing the guitar. Spend a weekend perfecting and practicing your skill. By the time Monday rolls around, you’ll already feel accomplished, proud, and eager to learn more.

Take a detox from technology

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You’re #woke enough to know that a tech detox should be a part of your wellness routine year round, but what better time to get serious about your screen time than during summer? Turn your phone on silent and keep it at the bottom of your beach bag for days at the pool, or challenge yourself to a three-day detox on your next road trip or summer vacay (Instagram can wait!). I get that Instagram and Snapchat feel like necessities at this point, but delete any time-wasting apps (like games) for the entire season, unfollow or mute Instagram accounts that don’t make you feel inspired, and turn iMessage notifications off on the days you need to be more present. Get outdoors, live in the moment, and keep off Candy Crush already!

Make a summer playlist

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What songs remind you of summer? The songs that when you hear them it brings you back to spring break in college or childhood days at the beach? Is it classic Island in the Sun that transports you to a tropical vacation even when you’re sitting in traffic, or are you more of a California Girls type of girl? Make a playlist of all your favorite summer songs to listen to while you soak up the sun. 

Host a barbecue

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If you don’t host a lot of parties, now’s the time to break out of your comfort zone and become the hostess with the mostest. Whether your vibe is more low-key hamburgers and denim cut-offs or high-end, high-key (if you will) with vodka lavender lemonades and all-white attire (à la Gossip Girl), summer is the perfect time to put your hosting skills to good use with a summer soirée. The season calls for a carefree vibe, and buying a stack of burgers or preparing side dishes can be especially affordable (especially if you do BYOB). If you don’t have a backyard or a grill, your local park should have grills you can rent or use for free. Worst case scenario, forget the grill and make a taco bar. Just don’t forget the string lights and rosé!

Plan to save $1,000 by the end of the summer

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While summer is all about fun and games, it’s also about getting your life together and achieving your goals. Budgeting yourself to put away $1,000 in a few months is actually easier in the summer — try walking instead of taking Uber (it’s so nice out!), making your own iced coffee instead of picking up Starbucks, pausing your gym membership for outdoor workouts, or heading to the park with a bottle of wine and a picnic blanket instead of going to happy hour. Remember: little things add up, and summer is full of free activities like heading to the beach or going on a hike.

Participate in a themed 5k

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Alright, alright, hear me out — if you’re like me, running on the treadmill for 10 minutes is intimidating enough, much less running anything that ends in “k.” To all you marathon runners out there, I highly commend you for your amazing endurance and physical agility; however, marathons are not my idea of fun. But from one non-runner to you other non-runners, it’s time for us to get out of our comfort zones — in a fun way. There are hundreds of themed runs in your city that you might not even know about, and that (despite the name) you can actually walk. 

Summer-clean your home

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Sure, you’ve heard of spring cleaning, but now it’s time to summer-clean your home. DIY your own cleaner (for a natural, healthier alternative), clean off your patio/balcony/window sills (or any outdoor part of your home), and go through your pantry to clean out any unhealthy or processed foods (since summer is all about fresh ingredients!). Add fresh flowers and house plants; trade darker accents with more colorful pillows, throws, and home accessories; and switch out your bedding for lighter or linen sheets. Don’t forget to fill your home with a signature scent — try diffusing a mixture of lemon and eucalyptus essential oils for a summer smell that’s as intoxicating as it is refreshing 

Take your fitness routine outdoors

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Remember how this is the season for trying new things? It goes for your fitness routine, too. If you’re stuck in a rut because you do the same yoga class everyday, or you spend your entire fitness routine lifting weights in the gym, add in some time outside — bring your mat and your sun salutations to the park, or go for a walk during your lunch break. Also try something you’ve never done before — go for a run, try an outdoor class, or ask a friend to join your workout. Switching up your routine will keep you from plateauing, and the extra sunlight ensures you’ll have more energy to push yourself harder than other times of year.

Cut one plastic consumption from your life

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Whether it’s swapping plastic straws for stainless steel straws, trading in paper towels for reusable wipes, or using a cotton bag to carry your produce instead of grocery bags, make an effort to make at least one reusable swap you can stick to all summer long. To live even more sustainably this summer, bring reusable cups or mason jars to Starbucks to fill up your iced coffee, air dry small loads of laundry instead of machine drying, carry around a refillable water with you everywhere, and walk or bike instead of driving. Whatever way you want to challenge yourself to live more sustainably, stick to it through the entire summer, and feel empowered knowing how a little goes a long way.

Host a grown-up slumber party with your girls

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Take a little trip down memory lane with me: school is out, summer break is here, and you have a good few weeks before camp starts to do nothing but go to the pool every day – most importantly, you get to have slumber parties with your friends every day of the week (that is, if your mom said yes, of course). While you definitely have way more responsibilities (and likely don’t have a summer break at all — major bummer), bring back the fun of slumber parties with your best friends this summer. Watch a movie outdoors, order lots of pizza, put on some face masks, and drink lots of wine (see, grown-up slumber parties can be more fun!).

Volunteer your time to a charity

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If you want to get outside more (and don’t we all during summertime?), why not get outside while you’re doing a good deed? Commit to volunteering for a charity you’re passionate about after work or on weekends — take shelter dogs for a walk, attend beach clean-ups, or help out at your local nature center or forest preserve. Because nothing feels better than doing a good deed, except maybe doing a good deed on a warm, sunny day.

 

 

 

 

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Featured

Your Ultimate Summer Workout Plan

 

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Summer is right around the corner. It’ll be time to shed your clothes, put on your swim trunks, and hit the beach. Ahhh, such a liberating experience; unless of course you’ve sat around and accumulated a hefty amount of junk in your trunk. If so, you may find yourself looking at your reflection hoping it’s actually a circus mirror.

 

Monday

Start out with five to 10 minutes of walking or jogging to get warmed up. It’s time for some bodyweight calisthenics. There are a few ranges you can work with. Beginners may want to start with less and the more advanced fitness folks can use the upper range. We’re going to do two sets of 10 (beginners) to 50 (advanced) of each exercise. Go through the list and do each exercise one time with 10 jumping jacks in between. Then do the circuit again.

  • Pull-ups (regular or modified)
  • Burpees
  • Sit-ups or crunches
  • Starbursts
  • Push-ups
  • Speed skaters
  • Dips
  • Alternating lunges
  •  Leg lifts

Repeat and remember to do the 10 jumping jacks between each exercise. Finish it off with five to 10 minutes jogging or walking and 10 to 15 minutes of stretching.

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Tuesday

It’s time for hill or stair repeats. Always remember to start with a five to 10 minute warm-up and finish with a five to 10 minute cool down and 10 to 15 minutes of stretching. Find a hill or set of stairs—the steeper the better. I always say, “Gravity and fat are bitter enemies and one’s gotta give!” We’re hoping it’s the fat. You can do 20 to 30 minutes of straight repeats up and down or change it up. I like to do forward up, then backward. Do side shuffles. Add a burpee every 10 feet. Change it up and have fun.

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Wednesday

Bring out your dumbbells (or makeshift dumbbells if you don’t have equipment—there’s not excuse not to get moving!). Do your warm up then do two sets of either 10 or 50 reps of each exercise. It’s your choice. This time you’re going to add a 100 meter jog between each exercise. Here we go:

  • Burpees
  • Dumbbell squat/curl/press (all one motion)
  • Dumbbell alternating lunges
  • Sit-ups/crunches with a dumbbell
  • Dumbbell flies
  • Dumbbell squats
  • Dumbbell bent over rows
  • Dumbbell deadlifts
  • Overhead triceps extensions
  • Dumbbell Hammer curls
  • Flutter kicks

Finish off with a cool down and some stretching.

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Thursday

“I feel the need, the need for speed!” is what you should tell yourself today. It’s time to pick it up. You can do this work out on a track, at the park or around your neighborhood. It should be about 20 to 30 minutes. Jog a couple laps to warm up. Run each distance with about a minute break in between. Start with 100 meters. Then go to 200 meters. Or start at 400 meters and go to 800 meters then work your way back down 800 meters to 400 meters or 200 meters to 100 meters. Remember to modify the workout to your fitness level. You can take away or add. I like to add 1200 meters and 1600 meters to this pyramid. Do a couple cool down loops and stretch.

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Friday

The weekend is almost here, so let’s end the week with a bang. This time you’re going to take all the exercises from Monday and Wednesday and put them together on one list. The goal is to go through the list only one time, but to do as many reps of each one as you can. Nothing to it, right? Do an exercise then 10 jumping jacks. Then do another exercise and run 100 meters. Then do another exercise and follow it up with five burpees. Repeat this between each exercise. This is a barn burner that’ll really get your heart rate up, burn calories fast and keep it fun.

That’s all there is to it. Now you can take this format and use the basic outline for the next four to six weeks. Take ownership of it. Make it yours. Add things that you like or remove those you don’t. My motto is, “The worse it is, generally the better it is for me.” The goal of this workout is to shock your body and really get you fired up. The sky is the limit, so remember: you get out of it what you put into it. Have fun and get after it. Can I get a Gut Check?!

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Featured

How to Throw the Perfect Summer Party

 

1. Go with a theme

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Sticking with a theme is an easy way to ensure your party packs a punch. Don’t worry about matching every piece of your flatware, servingware and drinkware — but do keep the look cohesive by choosing an overarching motif. Use sleek and modern elements for a stunning tabletop, or opt for an assortment of shabby-chic pieces for a rustic touch. Another easy way to keep everything looking sharp? Choose a colour palette (like monochrome or primary colours) for a table setting that really pops.

2. Pick the perfect menu

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Whether you’re feeding 20 people or planning a romantic dinner for four, your menu is what your guests will remember. For smaller, intimate affairs, go for cuts of meat that ramp up the swish factor (think Wagyu steaks or filet mignon). Hosting a blockbuster bash? Keep it simple with everyone’s favourite handheld foods — burgers, hotdogs and ribs.

3. Scent your charcoal

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Here’s a clever tip for the grill buff: scent your charcoal with herbs and spices. Simply place sprigs of fresh rosemary, thyme or other fresh herbs on your rocks for a deliciously smoky spin on a traditional marinade.

4. Serve refreshing drinks

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Keep everyone quenched with a bevy of refreshing beverages. Blend your own fruit juices or ices, or whip up a pitcher of homemade lemonade or iced tea. Want a prettier pitcher of water? Dress it up with fresh slices of cucumber, oranges or a handful of fresh berries for H20 your guests will raise a glass to. For cocktail ideas, check out these delicious bevvy recipes to sip under the summer sun.

5. Create conversation pits

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It’s a fact: people tend to flock to areas with food. Set the stage for mingling between guests by creating conversation zones with cosy chairs and tables decked with trays brimming with your favourite nibbles.They’ll be chatting up a storm in no time.

6. Set up games

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Who doesn’t love a backyard game? If your yard space allows for it, set up a net for a lively volleyball or badminton match, or bring back oldies-but-goodies like lawn bowling and croquet to get guests onto the green.

7. Light up the night

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Don’t let dusk put the lights out on your party. Keep the fun going into the evening with a selection of dazzling lights. From the warm glow of lanterns and votive candles to twinkle lights and eco-friendly solar lamps, your fête will sparkle on long after the sun goes down.

8. Set the mood with music

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An amazing playlist is a great way to provide instant ambience to any barbecue. Pair that filet mignon with some cool jazz, or make a mix of everyone’s favourite summer jams to get the party started.

9. Gather ’round the fire pit

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Treat your friends to a taste of cottage life in your own backyard with ghost stories and a marshmallow roast over a fire pit. Don’t forget the graham crackers and chocolate for whipping up a lip-smacking batch of ooey-gooey s’mores!

10. Keep bugs at bay

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No one invited the bugs to the party, so make sure to quell any gate crashing mosquitoes and flies with a selection of bug zappers and strategically placed netting.

Featured

Favourite Summer Smoothies

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In the summer, there’s nothing better than a fresh fruit smoothie. For me, it’s SO HARD to get my smoothie to taste like my favorites from Smoothie King or the local Fruit Store in my town. I would follow all the elaborate ingredients from a recipe online, but my smoothie would never turn out the way I envisioned. This summer, I’m determined to find the easiest way to make the best homemade summer smoothies- and I think I’ve figured it out! All you need is a blender, a few ingredients, and obviously a cute mason jar that you can use to pile your delicious and thick smoothie in to sip on and enjoy!! Below I’ve listed recipes for some of my favorite smoothies that you can make alllllllllll summer long.


Strawberry Smoothie

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What you’ll need:

– 1/2 bag of frozen strawberries

– 1 cup of vanilla Greek yogurt 

– as much coconut water as you want

With only three ingredients, this smoothie is so easy!! The balance of the coconut water and yogurt makes for a creamy yet refreshing taste. I love using Siggi’s Greek yogurt because the taste is a little tangier than other Greek yogurts I’ve tried- plus the calorie count is low and there are tons of flavors!


Tropical Smoothie

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What you’ll need:

– 1/2 cup of orange juice

– 1/2 cup of coconut water

– 1 banana 

– 1/2 bag of frozen mango 

– spoonful of Greek yogurt

– paper Hawaiian umbrella (optional, but strongly recommended)

This is the perfect summery smoothie that belongs on a beach. I borrowed this recipe from Ina Garten (so it’s gotta taste good), but tweaked it based on the flavors I like. With the mango and orange juice, you’ll feel like you’re on a tropical island when sipping this delicious smoothie!


Green Smoothie

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What you’ll need:

– handful of spinach

– 1/2 bag frozen strawberries

– 1/2 cup of coconut water

– 1 container of plain Greek yogurt

By now you’re probably seeing a theme…coconut water! In a smoothie, coconut water is the perfect alternative to orange juice or plain water because it has so many health benefits including that it is high in potassium and electrolytes so it is super hydrating. This green smoothie is a great healthy option and the added spinach makes for the perfect detoxifying effect.


Berry Smoothie

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What you’ll need:

– 1/4 cup frozen grapes

– 1/2 bag frozen strawberries

– 1 cup of vanilla Greek yogurt

– 1 banana

– coconut water

For this smoothie, I recreated one of my favorite smoothies from a local store in my town that uses super fresh ingredients. You can never go wrong with a classic berry smoothie! Although I listed specific fruit, throw a banana, coconut water, yogurt, and any berries you have in your fridge into a blender and you certainly won’t be disappointed!!

 

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Featured

The 21 must-have travel apps for 2019

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With over a million different apps available on both the Apple and Android app stores, sorting the good from the bad isn’t easy. This is as true in travel as any other category—while some apps will genuinely improve your vacation, many others aren’t even worth the time they take to download.

Here are 12 free travel apps absolutely worth their place on your smartphone or tablet computer. All are available for at least iOS and Android.


Google Translate

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If you’re traveling somewhere you don’t speak the language, you’ll find Google’s free translation app very useful. Simply type in the words you need to translate, pick a target language, and away you go.

You’ve also got the option of taking a photo, using handwriting or even speaking a phrase and having the resulting text translated and (in some cases) read aloud.

Most usefully, you can download a language pack ahead of time. This means you don’t even need to be connected to the Internet to translate typed phrases—an important point for international travelers who may not have mobile data.


XE Currency

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There are many different currency conversion apps out there, but XE has long been the best. Choose all the different dollars, pesos, and baht you’d like to convert between, then pick the one you’d like to use right now. Enter an amount, and the equivalent in all other currencies will show on one screen.

It’s quick and easy, and can save you a lot of money when dealing with unfamiliar exchange rates. The app doesn’t require an Internet connection to convert between currencies, but does need one to download rates when you first select a currency.


WiFi Map

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By scanning your surroundings and checking against a database of over 100,000,000 hotspots updated by the app’s seven million users, Wifi Map lets you know the location of the nearest wireless connection.

The app includes any passwords you may need. The free version shows any networks within a little over a mile of your current or a searched location, while the paid version lets you download entire city Wi-fi maps ahead of time to use while offline.


Tripit

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Tripit is one of the most popular travel apps out there, and for good reason. The service makes tracking even complex itineraries a breeze, without having to manually type in the details of every flight, hotel, and car rental.

If the booking was made online, just forward the confirmation email and, in most cases, Tripit will automatically recognize it and update your itinerary.

Once that’s done, start the app and let it download the latest updates. From then on, you can access your itinerary without an Internet connection.

There’s a paid version ($49/year) with extra features, but the free option offers enough for most people.


Triposo

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Taking crowd-sourced information from Wikitravel, Wikipedia, and several other sites, Triposo turns it all into a useful offline guide. As there’s a lot of information for some larger destinations, just remember to download the app and guides before leaving home.

You’ll get recommendations for activities, hotels, restaurants, and more, along with maps and directions.


Google Maps

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Google Maps is easily the best mobile navigation app, and one you’ll likely use every day on the road.

While you’ll need an Internet connection to find new locations, you can save unlimited numbers of maps for later offline use. The GPS in your phone or tablet will still work without a cell signal, and you can even get driving and public transit directions without being connected.


Snapseed

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It takes a bit of getting used to, but after you’ve mastered it, Snapseed is the best mobile photo editing software out there. If your sunset is a bit washed out, the horizon isn’t straight or everything just needs to be made a little more vibrant before you make your friends jealous on Facebook, Snapseed is just the app to do it with.

Sure, it has a bunch of pre-set filters as well—but once you know how to use the app, you probably won’t even need to use them.


Sit or Squat

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It’s not something that’s often talked about, but sometimes when you’re traveling, knowing where to find the nearest public toilet is vitally important. The aptly-named Sit or Squat app does exactly that, scanning a database of over 100,000 restrooms that have been rated “sit” (good) or “squat” (bad) by users to show those close to you.

It’s not something you’ll use every day, but when you need it, you really need it…


TripAdvisor

TripAdvisor

 

There’s no doubt TripAdvisor is the biggest game in town when it comes to user reviews of accommodations and attractions. Its forums, too, provide a wealth of information about destinations all over the world.

The app provides almost all of the information available on the site, including access to the forums, and syncing of bookmarked pages between the web and app versions.

Unfortunately it’s not able to be used offline, although the company does make dozens of free city guides available to download.


Pocket

Pocket

 

There are many different offline reading apps available, and Pocket is one of the best. Save a bunch of articles to read on long journeys, along with any information you need for your destination—attractions, booking details, restaurant recommendations—and access it all without an Internet connection.

Web pages can be saved and accessed from any computer, tablet, or phone that you’re signed in to, and sync automatically on mobile devices.


Lounge Buddy

LoungeBuddy

 

When it comes to miserable parts of the travel experience, it’s hard to go past long layovers and extended delays. Airport lounges are a calm oasis amidst the mayhem—or at least, they’re meant to be.

Realizing not all lounges are created equal, LoungeBuddy stepped in to provide reviews and detailed information about hundreds of lounges around the world. Whether you’ve got access via an airline membership, business class ticket, or independent program, the app is invaluable in deciding where to spend your time.

If you don’t have access by other means, LoungeBuddy also lets you buy day passes for many lounges direct from the app–definitely a better option than sitting on the floor for several hours at LAX!


American Red Cross First Aid

Red Cross first aid app

 

 

Accidents happen, even on vacation, and a little preparedness goes a long way. Install the official Red Cross first aid before you leave, and you’ll be in a much better situation should the worst happen.

With step-by-step instructions for dealing with everything from bites to burns, heart attacks to head injuries, plus instructional videos that help you prepare for problems ahead of time, it’s an easy, free way of being able to deal with health issues and emergencies on the road.


Kindle

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Maybe it’s a little obvious, but no matter how devoted you are to print, there’s no denying that carrying a Kindle is a lot easier than lugging 10 hardbacks around with you. With the Kindle app you don’t even need the Kindle – just your smartphone. While there’ll be no swapping at hotels and hostels, the ease makes up for everything


SAS Survival Guide

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Know your Morse code? How about how to start a fire? With this app you will. If you’re venturing anywhere remotely off the beaten path, it’s a must have. Written by a former SAS soldier and instructor, the app contains hundreds of survival skills that will help you both at home and away. Sure, you might be staying at a 5-star hotel in NYC’s Greenwich Village, but hey – better safe than sorry, right


FlightAware

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Skip downloading individual airport or airline apps for individual flights – FlightAware lets you track any flight in real-time, receive alerts and see airport delays


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Duolingo

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Full of bite-sized lessons and games that teach you how to read, write, listen and speak a language, Duolingo covers 27 languages – including Klingon. Start with basic verbs, phrases and sentences and learn new words every day


AroundMe

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AroundMe identifies where you are, and lists the nearest bank, bar, gas station, hospital, hotel, movie theater, restaurant, supermarket, theatre and taxi. Useful if you want to catch a movie – crucial if you’re taken ill abroad


Wifispc

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While it’s not necessarily a must-have, free WiFi on holiday is definitely a nice-to-have. Wifispc keeps you online, world over, thanks to an ever-growing list of WiFi networks and passwords continuously updated by users


Yuggler

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A blessing to parents travelling with their children, Yuggler lets you discover all the kid-friendly things to do near you. Find tips, see photos and search via filters so that you’re sure to find things just right for your children’s ages and likes (iOS only! But Android is on the way …)


Prey Anti Theft

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One of the worries that comes with carrying your expensive smartphone with you on your travels is that someone might nab it – or that you’ll just lose it. Prey helps you find your cellphone, lock down your device, trigger an alarm and more. It’s a completely free and extremely useful app


WeatherPRO

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Everyone has their favourite weather app, but we love WeatherPRO. It’s extremely detailed, including ski weather, beach weather (with UV Index and water temperatures), and – most importantly – it’s accurate

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Featured

5 TIPS FOR GETTING BACK INTO ROUTINE AFTER A BREAK

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I’m sure we’ve all come back from a break, fearing our inboxes, washing piles and the vacation blues, the following five steps are ones I aim to take after every break to help ease me back in to day-to-day life in a way I look forward to.

I hope you’ll find this post helpful, and I’d love for you to share any tips or tricks of your own in the comments


GIVE YOURSELF TIME TO RE-SETTLE.

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When you return from a trip that airport transfer/hire car situation/late flight is going to have tired you. Travelling is tiring, no two ways about it. Rather than assuming you will slot right back in to your routine, give yourself some buffer time to re-settle. Cut yourself some slack.

For me my buffer time looks like one quiet ‘settling in day’, followed by a light week. I make no big commitments for the week following any travel as I know I will have work to catch up on, as well as sleep and general life.

This also means that I keep communication light, I don’t want to be pitching to any big clients, or committing to lots of social events. I need a little home time to get my feet back on the ground. Furthermore travelling often spark ideas or thoughts for me, I write these down in a journal whilst away and like to take some time when I am home to process.

Takeaway: Whatever that buffer time looks like for you, rest assured that it is completely normal to take a little time to re-settle. If you mentally allocate this buffer, you can cut yourself come slack if you don’t get right back in to the swing of things on day one.


 UNPACK, CLEAN AND REFRESH YOUR HOME.

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When your home has been left unused for some time it can feel stale. I like to use my ‘quiet settling in day’ (ref. above ^) to unpack, clean and refresh my home.

I open all windows and fold back my bed sheets – or change them if I didn’t do so before going away. I collect things like any glasses we forgot to wash up.  I then have a general freshen up and potter about the house reacquainting myself with it.

I try (and I admit that this is currently on the back burner for me!) to unpack right away, put things in the wash or hang them right up. It is so nice to be able to put away the suitcase and use your wardrobe like normal. I’m seeking solace in that slack I talk about above – I know I’ll properly unpack once I have a bit more time over the weekend.

The final touch for me is always fresh flowers. This week I bought some new stocks and lilies and it feels like there is life back in the house again. When I walk in to my office now I am greeted by a beautiful glass vase of white stocks which helps me feel at home as I settle in to some work.

Takeaway: There is nothing like a clean, organised home to help you feel calm and settled. Aim to get reacquainted with your home as soon as is possible for you. If possible, leave your home when you go on holiday in a way which will feel nice to come back to. Or if that’s not possible (hello last-minute packing explosion!) then allocate some time to sort it when you are back.


TACKLE YOUR INBOX.

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Eek – the post-holiday inbox 🙈!

I recently shared some of my thoughts on how and why to take a proper holiday. I’m happy to report that I took my own advice and had one of the best holiday holidays I’ve ever had. One of the reasons I feel this holiday was more successfully restful than others was the time of year I chose to go away. I have learnt that for me personally, high summer is a quiet time of year. A quiet time means less emails, which naturally means less to follow up on when I get home.

I tackled the emails I did receive systematically whilst I was away, so as not to be bombarded when home. I also put on an out of office which helped me to manage the expectations of people emailing me.

I’d love to say I didn’t check my emails at all whilst I was away, but truth be told I like to be kept in the loop. As a business owner I can’t afford to miss a potential client’s email, or an important communication from my team. In order to avoid getting dragged down by emails whilst on holiday, I dipped in to my inbox every day, flagged any important emails and deleted the rest. I found that on average I only had a few per day which required immediate attention, I got back to these and didn’t give the others a moment’s thought.

This being said, if you do come home to a particularly busy inbox when you get back from your holiday, I advise using the one touch technique. Prioritise the emails you need to get back to and allocate focused time to getting them answered. If you focus, over a few days I am confident you can get your inbox back on track.

Takeaway: Set an out of office reply before you go away to manage the expectations of people emailing you. Be systematic on your return from holiday and work through your inbox, using whatever email management system works for you – I like flagging my important emails. Delete everything else so as not to clutter your inbox. Focus in on allocated slots for emails, and know that it will likely take a couple of days to get your inbox under control.


GET BACK ON TRACK WITH YOUR HEALTH COMMITMENTS.

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As I have mentioned before, my health and wellbeing has become an important focus for me this year. I tried to stay on track with my fitness whilst on vacation which has made it an easier transition once I got home.

Either way – if you have or haven’t had the healthiest of vacations (I’ve seen either side of that coin my friend!) – getting back in to your health groove will help you to settle back in to your routine.

There is nothing like feeling well in your mind and body to assist with focus, sleep and energy levels. This includes habits, exercise and diet.

For me, I have tried to get back in to my happiness habits, and include some activity in to my routine. I gave myself a few days to recuperate on sleep, and now have workouts in my schedule like normal which I am looking forward to.

Further to exercise, eating in a way which makes you feel good and energised is everything. If you do one thing when you first get home – do a food shop. It will save so much ‘searching time’ when deciding on what to eat, what to take for lunch and what to snack on. If you do a healthy shop, it will most likely encourage you to make healthy choices.

Takeaway: Do a food shop, book your gym classes and ease yourself back in to your health and wellbeing routine. A healthy mind and body supports everything that you do, so getting on top of this as soon as possible is going to make everything else you are coming back to feel easier.


BOOK FUN THINGS IN TO AVOID THE VACATION BLUES.

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I admit that when I was lying on the beach on my penultimate day in Menorca, I started to feel the post-holiday blues creeping in. I am such a homebody that this was actually quite an alien experience for me, but I truly couldn’t imagine being anywhere more beautiful, or with people I loved more (except my Mama wasn’t there as she had to stay home for work – so plus my Mum would have been perfect!).

I had had an inkling before going away that I may get struck by the post-holiday blues so long before we departed I booked a girls weekend in with my favourite girlfriends. I also ordered a couple of items to arrive for when I got back including some photos from one of my best friends’ recent weddings. Knowing that I was going to see some of my favourite people, and receive some exciting deliveries, on returning home made me really excited to be landing in England again.

Takeaway: Decide on something you would look forward to, and make plans for it before you get home. Getting coffee with a friend . . . having a manicure . . . allocating a couple of magazine hours for yourself – be sure to have some fun things to welcome you home.

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Featured

8 Summer Fashion Hacks That’ll Help You Beat the Heat

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Summer is just around the corner and it’s that time again where heat and humidity are super high. And while you love the warmer temperatures perfect for outdoor activities or a quick beach visit, unfortunately, we all hate excessive sweating.

But thankfully, I’ve found down below some awesome summer fashion hacks that’ll help you survive summer while still looking stylish. These are style ideas that will help you feel comfortable and make you look fashionable. They’re the perfect summer outfit ideas that you might want to try. So check them out below and let me know what you think!

Keep Your Clothes Loose

As the temperature goes higher, try getting clothes that are actually loose. A flowy maxi dress will keep you cooler than a pair of shorts and a skintight tank. The less fabric that touches your body, the more comfortable you’ll feel. The loose clothing allows air to pass along the skin and exit, speeding evaporation and carrying off excess heat. So the looser, the better.

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Know the Fabric Rules

One of the easiest and simplest ways to get the right summer clothes is by knowing what fabrics they’re made of. Try cotton, it’s light and breathable which makes it perfect for polos and shirts. Also, linen doesn’t retain moisture so any sweat will dry quickly. And, think about the active wear fabrics, they’re all made of synthetic blends. They can help you combat the heat while effortlessly making you look stylish. Mix and match them and you can look cool and be cool when wearing them.

Wear the Right Shorts

Shorts are a summer staple. They allow ventilation for your exposed legs and they’re great to wear in the hottest times of the year. So try getting comfortable ones made from the kind of summer fabric that works best for you.

Go for Light Colors

Compared to light colored clothes, dark colors absorb more light and that can make you feel hot. So whenever possible, try to stick to light colored clothes that reflect light and will keep you cool.

Wear a Wide-Brimmed Hat

Who say’s you need to be on the beach to wear those wide-brimmed hats when you can wear them evenin the city. They’ll protect you from too much sun and provide shade to the head and face. Not to mention, hats can effortlessly up your fashion game. So consider getting those that are made of lightweight and breathable material to offset the trapped heat.

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Turn Your Flipflops from Boring to Awesome

Flipflops are your feets best friends during the summer season. So why not make them more stylish and fun. All you have to do is simply wrap a ribbon first in the straps of your flips while joining them both. Then stick some beads and bells on them with a strong glue. Let them dry for few minutes and voila, fab and chic flipflops in no time.

Use a Scarf to Keep Your Hair Off Your Neck

If you have a long hair like me, then we both know how annoying it is whenever it sticks to the neck. As a great solution, get a small cotton scarf and use it to tie up your hair. It will help absorb sweat and will make you feel extra cool and fashionable.

Wear Minimal Jewelry

To complete your summer look, try to add some accessories like jewelry. They can add a touch of glam to your look while still keeping it elegant and sophisticated. Just be sure to choose minimal ones since they can easily make feel you irritated once the temperature rises. Earrings are fine because they don’t really touch much of your skin, but necklaces, bracelets, and rings, you should skip them.

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Featured

10 Movies That Need A Female Reboot

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Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson’s The Hustle is the latest all-female reboot of a male-oriented movie, gender-swapping the classic Michael Caine/Steve Martin comedy Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. With the success of movies like Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel, it won’t be long before women can simply lead their own movies without being tied to earlier properties starring men. But until then, while actresses gain the kind of influence in Hollywood that they’re long overdue, more female reboots of older movies starring men will be on the way. So, with that in mind, here are 10 Movies That Need A Female Reboot.


THE USUAL SUSPECTS

The-Usual-Suspects-castIt’s rare that women get to play gangsters in movies. The crime genre is one of the most male-dominated categorizations in Hollywood. But there are female criminals out there and they’re underrepresented on the big screen. The premise of The Usual Suspects is that a bunch of criminals meet in a police lineup, pull off a heist, and then have their story twisted by an unreliable narrator reading names and locations from around the room. That could easily be swapped to an all-female cast, with the police lineup simply revolving around a female suspect instead of a male one. It would make a great ensemble piece, too, like Ocean’s 8, a chance to get a bunch of awesome women on-screen together.


BOYHOOD

Boyhood.jpgRichard Linklater shot his coming-of-age opus Boyhood over a decade or so, in order to capture his lead actor growing up. It’s a grand, sweeping movie about growing up – but it’s about growing up male. Only boys can relate to Mason’s story. A female remake titled Girlhood could give young girls a character they can relate to. It would mean another child actor growing up with a film crew stopping by every couple of years to shoot some more scenes of the movie she’s in, but as Boyhood has shown us, the rewards of this unique kind of filmmaking are obvious.


RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK

Indiana-Jones-in-Raiders-of-the-Lost-Ark.jpgAs long as the Tomb Raider movies continue to screw up the female version of Indiana Jones that we already have, a female reboot of the Indiana Jonesfranchise sounds like a good idea. Steven Spielberg seemed open to a Raidersreboot with a female Indiana Jones, even if his wording was a little clunky: “We’d have to change the name from Jones to Joan, and there would be nothing wrong with that.”

Jones is the last name, so it would be weird to leave a female version of the character with a male first name and a female first name instead of a surname. Still, Spielberg’s open to a female Indy, so it could happen.


FIGHT CLUB

Fight-Club.jpgAs possibly the most masculine, male-focused movie ever made, nothing is screaming out for a female reboot louder than Fight Club. Melissa McCarthy suggested “female Fight Club” as a bridal shower as a joke in Bridesmaids, but it’s not a bad idea. With Netflix’s GLOW, Charlize Theron’s visceral action movies, and more and more female superheroes making it to the screen, audiences are getting used to women fighting on-screen. The female Fight Club wouldn’t follow exactly the same plot, since everyone knows the twist by now, but it could have the same anarchist message and black-comic tone. “I am Jane’s dream of a female reboot of Fight Club.”


TRADING PLACES

Trading-Places-Poster.jpgTrading Places is a classic comedy, but it’s also an interesting study of the class divide. Dan Aykroyd plays a wealthy businessman and Eddie Murphy plays a streetwise grifter. They both think they’d be better off in the other one’s shoes, so like it says on the tin, they trade places. In the same way that Dirty Rotten Scoundrels was a two-hander whose male leads were replaced by women in The Hustle, Trading Places is a two-hander that would work just as well – if not better, with an even more socially conscious plot revolving around women in the workplace – with female leads instead of male ones.


 

THE EXPENDABLES

The-Expendables-Cast-1.jpgThe point of The Expendables franchise was to bring all the old-school, muscle-bound action movie stars from the ‘80s together in one movie. So, why not do the same for all the female action movie stars? The Expendablesfranchise has a great cast, but they’re all male. The third one brought in Ronda Rousey, but that was too little too late. An all-female Expendables movie called The ExpendaBelles (seriously) has actually been in the works for a few years, but it’s time it actually got off the ground. Sigourney Weaver, Linda Hamilton, Charlize Theron, Michelle Rodriguez, Uma Thurman, Zoe Saldana, Demi Moore – the casting possibilities are endless.


TAKEN

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We’ve seen what happens when a male ex-CIA agent’s daughter goes missing overseas and he flies over there to track her down. Now, let’s see what happens when the same circumstances befall a female ex-CIA agent instead. To keep the gender-swapping consistent, the daughter could even be swapped for a son to subvert the trope of the damsel in distress.

It wouldn’t need to be a straight remake of Taken. Instead of Paris, it could be a different major European city – or a different continent entirely. Instead of being sex-trafficked, the kid could be sold off as a drug mule.


THIS IS THE END

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Apart from a couple of cameos by Rihanna and Emma Watson (the latter of whom reappeared for one scene later on before fleeing with all the food), the star-studded apocalypse comedy This is the End was very male-oriented. The 2013 original starred Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson, and everyone else for their comedy clique as the worst versions of themselves. Let’s see the Bridesmaids gang play themselves and tackle the same apocalypse from the other side of Los Angeles from a female perspective: Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Rose Byrne, Maya Rudolph, Ellie Kemper etc., all playing themselves. It would make a pretty awesome movie.


TRAINING DAY

Training-Day2.jpgThe Heat proved that women could lead a buddy cop movie, so there’s no reason why they couldn’t lead a grittier, more dramatic cop movie. Training Daywould be a prime candidate for this, as its premise is simple and character-driven, and therefore easy to rewrite for a female cast. It stars Denzel Washington as a veteran cop who takes rookie Ethan Hawke out on his first day. As the day progresses, Hawke realizes Washington is dirty and tries to expose him. Washington went on to win an Academy Award for his performance in the movie. A female reboot of Training Day could grace the screen with a new iconic duo with fantastic chemistry.


THE AVENGERS

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We got a taste of what an all-female Avengers movie might look like in one scene in Endgame, and it was awesome. Captain Marvel, Valkyrie, Shuri, the Wasp, Gamora, Nebula, Mantis, and every other badass female superhero from the MCU fighting alongside each other was such an incredible sight that it warranted more – like a whole movie of it. Brie Larson has already said she’d be open to an all-female Avengers movie, and she just proved that a female-led MCU film can be a huge box office smash with her $1 billion-grossing solo movie, so there’s no reason not to do this.

Featured

Top 10 Summer Bag Essentials

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The temperatures are soaring, flowers are blooming, the sun is shining. . . it feels like summer to me.  For our family, summer means impromptu play dates, trips to the splash park, lazy beach days, and lots of ice cream.  It’s hard living a block from the best ice cream spot in our city, but somebody’s got to do it. 

The bad part?  The crazy mess that’s left over when the fun is done.

Or even worse, running late because you can’t find the sunscreen or mosquito spray or insert whatever else you can’t leave without.

Enter the summer bag.

One place for all your essentials to be immediately emptied out and repacked when all the fun is done.

The summer bag was our sanity saver last summer, and this year will be no exception.  Here’s my list of 7 items we don’t leave home without, and a few nice-to-haves for certain outings. Also you can customize anything on this list and add things. 


Your Favorite Sunnies

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Nothing says summer like a flirty pair of shades. Whether you’re on the way to the office, laying out on the beach, or cruising in your car–– there’s always an excuse to wear sunglasses. Plus if you’re like me, you’re forever losing and finding them.


A Portable Charger

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Welcome to 2019: The year of SocialMedia, and phone batteries that always seem to be running at less than 10 percent. This portable charger is thin enough for even the smallest bag and, if you ask me, it’s quite chic


Hair Ties

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I’d say the only downfall to summer is how hot (and sweaty) I get when my hair is down. A set of cuter-than-cute hair ties will give your basic ponytail an upgrade, and keep you hair from sticking to the back of your neck.


On-The-Go Perfume

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Rollerballs are small, TSA-approved, and look just as pretty as they smell. Plus, you don’t have to worry about over-spraying since you can directly apply the scent to key points of your body (behind your earlobe, back of the neck, wrists, etc.).


Bobby Pins

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Keep a stash of bright bobby pins in your bag to add a fun accent to your outfit, or to simply tuck back the annoying strands of hair falling out around your face.


Facial Mist

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It’s small, it’s scentless, and it’ll cool your skin when you’re stuck in 100 degree weather. And, did we mention a water-based mist also does a superb job of setting makeup? Goodbye, runny mascara.


SNACKS

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Keep everyone happy with a small selection of healthy snacks.  My favourites to take are apples, blueberries, cherries, crackers, and rice cake chips.


 

Featured

The 15 Best New Books to Add to Your Summer Reading List

Your mission, should you choose to accept it: Tear through all these beach reads by Labor Day.

Book enthusiasts know summer is high season for juicy fiction and gripping tell-alls. This year, several household names are back with new work — Elizabeth Gilbert, Margaret Atwood, and My Favorite Murder podcasters Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark. See these and many more titles readers can’t wait to dive into.

We couldn’t get enough of Helen Hoang’s debut novel, The Kiss Quotient, so it’s no surprise her second book is at the top of our list. This time, we’re following the story of Khai Diep, a man who doesn’t think he’s capable of having feelings. He’s still unconvinced when his family tries to assure him that his autism makes him process emotions differently, and his mom sets out to find him the perfect bride in Vietnam. 

 

Every black sheep needs to bring this read on their next vacation. Even as a renowned neurosurgeon, Dr. Trisha Raje can’t seem to please her strict family. She wants redemption from breaking her parents’ rules, and finds a way when she crosses paths with a chef named DJ. 

 

OUT MAY 28

We’ve heard what Karen and Georgia have to say in their popular podcast My Favorite Murder, but now they’re expressing themselves using a different medium. They share personal stories, recommendations for advocating for yourself, and more in their debut novel. 

OUT JUNE 4

We watched the protagonist jump into new adventures in Eat, Pray, Love, but the latest novel by Elizabeth Gilbert takes a look back at the past. Vivian, a now-95-year-old woman, finally shares her love story from the 1940s. A combination of lust, scandal, and fun, this is another novel you won’t be able to put down. 

 

Featured

48 Hours in New Orleans

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New Orleans (or NOLA) is located in southeastern Louisiana, and occupies both sides of the Mississippi River. The heart of the city and its French Quarter is on the river’s north side. The city is known for its distinct French and Spanish Creole architecture, as well as its cross-cultural and multilingual heritage. New Orleans is famous for its cuisine, music (particularly as the birthplace of jazz) and its annual celebrations and festivals, most notably Mardi Gras. The city is often referred to as the “most unique” in the United States.


Getting There

  • Airport – Louis Armstrong New Orleans International (MSY)
  • Currency – U.S. Dollar ($)
  • Language – English
  • Population – 380,000

From New York, New Orleans is a quick 2 and a half hour flight, and Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport is only 30 minutes from downtown. I took the Airtrain to JFK airport ($8 instead of $50) and used TSA Precheck to skip the security line.

Tip – I often board planes ASAP to avoiding checking my carry-on. Ever since airlines implemented checked bag fees there has been a spike in carry-ons, limiting overhead space.

 


Day One:

First things first, grab some breakfast and head to the WWII Museum. This is a great first activity, as it may take several hours, and is certainly not something you want to do hungover tomorrow morning. Explore for 2-4 hours.

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Upon leaving the WWII Museum, you will see a streetcar near the front entrance. Hop on the streetcar and head to the French Quarter to grab a Po Boy for lunch!

After munching down your Po Boy (and beer) we recommend heading to Saint Louis Cemetery for a creepy tour of the oldest graveyard in NOLA.

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After scaring yourself in the graveyard, head back to your hotel or hostel and get ready for a wild night out!

Looking fresh? Good! Head to Muriel’s Bistro for dinner and enjoy some delicious local Creole food.

Now it’s time to party. Head to Bourbon Street, grab a Big Ass Beer and start your evening!

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Day Two:

Hungover? That will happen. It is NOLA after all.

Breakfast at Cafe du Monde

Wake up and get wired with a classic chicory coffee at Cafe du Monde, one of the country’s most popular coffee spots. Soak up last night’s booze with a helping of sugary beignets. Live music can be heard from musicians surrounding the quarter, a picture-perfect way to start the day. 

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Hop on the streetcar and head to Jacksons Square. Sit in the sun for a while, enjoy the live Jazz, beautiful paintings and street performers. Once you’re bored, head to the river near the French Market – it’s a 5 minute walk!

Grab a beer at the French Market and start exploring. We recommend grabbing a plate of raw oysters from inside!

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Head to Magazine street and get in your last minute shopping.

While walking around Magazine street, stop inside any of the numerous Creole Seafood restaurants for dinner!

Ready, Set, Drink! Enjoy your last night on Bourbon Street! Make sure to stop into some of the famous bars, strip clubs, and jazz bars to ensure you see a little bit of everything!

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End your last night with a midnight Voodoo tour if your so inclined! But I’ll pass on the Voodoo

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So What’s It Going To Cost?

Here is how much we spent, and what we spent it on, in 48 hours. 

Food: Breakfast: We spent an average of $5 USD each morning at local cheap breakfast restaurants. 
Lunch: We spent an average of $10 USD each day at local restaurants.  
Dinner: We spent an average of $15 USD each evening, usually trying all the “best” Creole restaurants. 
Total for Food = $30 USD each/per day.

Beer/Alcohol: It’s NOLA. You’ll drink a lot. Enough said.
Total for Beer/Alcohol = $40 USD each/per day.

Transportation (Including getting to and from the airport): We took a taxi to and from the airport which cost $36.00, each way. In order to get around the city, we mainly used the $1.25 streetcars and would also walk as the city is fun to explore by foot. 
Total for Transportation = $40 USD each (total).

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Featured

Differences Between Jaws the Book and the Film

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Duh-DUM Duh-DUM Duh-DUM….. I love the movie Jaws. I remember when I first saw it at a young age. I was terrified. I still dont like to go into the water. I just finshed the book today and boy-oh-boy what a difference between the book and the movie. 

Jaws is one of the most well known movies of all time, right down to the iconic theme music composed by John Williams. However, there are likely plenty among general audiences out there who don’t know that the 1975 thriller directed by Steven Spielberg was based on a book by Peter Benchley. The book is also called Jaws, but there are quite a few differences between the book and what ended up on the big screen.

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In The Book In The Movie

Chief Brody’s wife has an affair with Hooper.

This doesn’t happen.

Hooper goes into the shark cage to attempt to kill the shark with a boom stick.                             

He wants to use a hypodermic needle to inject the fish with strychnine.                                        

Jaws crushes Hooper’s cage and kills him.

Jaws attempts to crush the cage and gets stuck in it’s remains allowing Hooper to escape and live.

Quint harpoons the shark and then gets his foot tangled in some lines and is pulled under the      water to his death.                                                

Jaws attacks the boat and Quint falls down into his mouth and is eaten.                                             

Each day Body, Quint and Hooper return to shore to try again the next day to kill the shark.

They stay out on the water without returning.

fter being harpooned three times by Quint, Jaws is bearing down on Brody. He waits for certain death, but before the shark can get to him it dies from it’s wound.s

Brody shoves a scuba tank into Jaws’ mouth as it is attempting to kill him. He takes Quint’s rifle and shoots the scuba tank causing an explosion that obliterates the shark.

Mayor Vaughn owes money to the Mafia, who      pressure him to keep the beaches open to keep    real estate prices high.                                          

This isn’t mentioned.                                                  

Deputy Hendricks finds the shark’s tooth in Ben Gardner’s boat and presents it to the mayor.

Matt Hooper finds the tooth while scuba diving in Ben Gardner’s boat, but he looses it when he finds Gardner’s corpse and becomes frightened.

The shark kills an old man shortly after it kills. Alex Kintner                                                           

This doesn’t happen.                                                 

Quint uses other sharks and a dolphin and it’s fetus as bait for the shark.

This doesn’t happen instead he used fish guts.

Martin and Ellen have three sons Billy, Martin Jr. And Shawn.

Martin and Ellen have two sons Michael and Shawn.

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Featured

9 Things For A Happier You!

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Over the last two years I have really tried to concentrate on my happiness. Happiness is such a blissful feeling when you’re comfortable with everything around you. Sometimes when we’re in dark places for too long finding happiness can be difficult and sometimes impossible. But happiness can be found in the smallest places, you’ve just got too know where to look.

I’ve written a short list of the things that make me smile on a daily basis, hopefully they can make you smile too! Even after a long period of time feeling lower than low these may help you crawl out of the dark.

1. The Smell of Cats

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Any cat owner will tell you that cats have a smell about them, I don’t know what it is but they smell so sweet, especially shorter haired cats. I sadly no longer own any cats because people in my family are allergic

2. Books

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I’d like to quote Stephen King here, “Books are a uniquely portable magic”. Of course they are. Books come in different colors and sizes and can be elegantly worn or new and glossy. Some have fancy leather/cloth covers. Old books smell best, but new ones are good, too. Old paper starts to break down, containing compounds found in vanilla and almonds, mmm. Newer paper has the tang of wood pulp and printer’s ink. I still have several of my books from when I was a kid. Why? They were like comfort objects for me. Growing up, I never went anywhere -not even a different room -without a book. I still never leave the house without one. Just having a book makes me feel braver and happier for some reason.

3. Hot Showers

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Nothing is better than stepping in the shower after a long hard day. When I get home after work all I want more than anything is to strip off and get straight in. Bonus if you get to use anything tea-tree related, it just helps you relaxxxxxxx

4. Fresh Good-tasting Coffee

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Oh-My-God, A delicious perfect temperature cup of coffee I could just gulp down is a huge pick me up. Although I find it hard to find good tasting coffee as I have to drink decaf (sucks I know). Also nothing beats drinking coffee naked. Don’t judge me. 


5. ThunderStorms
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I love thunderstorms. There is nothing more beautiful than nature, especially the electric sight of lightning, the roaring sound of thunder and the calming feel of rain. Most people view thunderstorms as a scary storm that creates problems (power lines falling, trees getting struck by lightning, basements flooding), but I tend to view them in a more positive light. Don’t get me wrong, the few times that I was forced to drive when it was down-pouring and lightning was striking near me every two seconds I was terrified for my safety, but every other time there is a thunderstorm I am in complete awe. I sometimes just sit and reflect on things and calm my racing mind while it’s chaos outside. 

6. Lauging

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I love to laugh. I have a pretty good scense of humor and I can laugh at just about anything. Also It helps that my fmaily is pretty funny too. 

7. Movie Theaters 

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I know this would is weird but I get a cozy feeling whenever I go to the movies. Regardless of the movie I’m seeing I feel like I’m in my own world. Words can’t describe the feeling but trust me. 

8. My Dog

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This is my dog Cooper and He makes me so happy. 


9. Long Hugs

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What’s better than a long hug from the person you love or havn’t seen in a while. Most day’s I long for a hug. 

So there it is, the 9 things that bring me happiness. Hopefully you’ll be able to find happiness in these places too.

What are some of your happy places?

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Featured

Australian Slang

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When you learn English you’re taught how to speak and write ‘proper’ English. Then you visit an English speaking country and start hearing some very strange slang terms.

Like I’ve said in my last post,  have a friend here from Aussie and I thought it would be fun to list some Australian slang that I have never heard before, some of it I have heard, but most of it is certainly ‘interesting’!

Although Australia is an English speaking country, arriving into the country with little knowledge of the most popular Aussie slang words may just get you into a few awkward situations. It’s worth noting that Aussies have a tendency to shorten most words in the English vocabulary as well. You will soon become accustomed to this! Here are a list of some common slang words (some found in other English speaking countries) that should help you get by…


A Cold One – Beer

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Accadacca – How Aussies refer to Australian band ACDC

Ankle Biter – Child

Arvo – Afternoon (S’Arvo – this afternoon!)

Aussie Salute – Wave to scare the flies

Avo – Avocado

Bail – To cancel plans. ‘Bruce bailed’ = Bruce isn’t going to turn up.

Barbie – Barbecue

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Bathers – Swimsuit

Beauty! – Great! Most often exclaimed as “You Beauty”

Billabong – A pond in a dry riverbed

Billy – Teapot (In the Outback on the fire)

Bloody – Very. Used to extenuate a point

Bloody oath – yes or its true. “You right mate?”… “Bloody Oath”

Bludger – Someone who’s lazy, generally also who relies on others (when it’s someone who relies on the state they’re often called a ‘dole bludger’)

Bogan – This word is used for people who are, well let’s say, rednecks. Or, if you like, just call your friends a bogan when they are acting weird.

Booze Bus – Police vehicle used to catch drunk drivers

Bottle-O – Bottle Shop, basically a place to buy alcohol

Brekky – Breakfast

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Brolly – Umbrella

Bruce – An Aussie Bloke

Budgie Smugglers – Speedos

Bush – “Out in the bush” – “he’s gone bush” In the countryside away from civilisation

Cab Sav – Cabernet Sauvignon

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Cactus – Dead, Broken

Choc A Bloc – Full

Choccy Biccy – Chocolate Biscuit

Chook – Chicken

Chrissie – Christmas

Ciggy – a Cigarette

Clucky – feeling maternal

Cobber – Very good friend. ‘Alright me ‘ol cobber’.

Coldie – Beer. ‘Come over for a few coldie’s mate.’

Coppers – Policemen

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Crack the shits – Getting angry at someone or something

Crikey – an expression of surprise

Crook – Being ill or angry; ‘Don’t go crook on me for getting crook’

C*nt, the “C” word – Used when exchanging pleasantries between close friends or family member. If someone calls you the “C” word in Australia (and you haven’t done anything to make them angry), then breathe a sigh of relief… it means you have entered the mate zone.

Dag – Someone who’s a bit of a nerd or geek.

Daks – Trousers. ‘Tracky daks’ = sweatpants (tracksuit pants)

Dardy – meaning “cool”, is used amongst South West Australian Aboriginal peoples and has also been adopted by non-indigenous teens. – source

Deadset – True

Defo – Definitely

Devo – Devastated

Drongo – a Fool, ‘Don’t be a drongo mate’

Dunny – Toilet

Durry – Cigarette

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Esky – An insulated container that keeps things cold (usually beers)

Facey – Facebook

Fair Dinkum – ‘Fair Dinkum?’ … ‘Fair Dinkum!’ = Honestly? … Yeah honestly!

Flannie / Flanno – flannelette shirt

Flat out – Really busy – “Flat out like a lizard drinking” – As busy as a bee

Footy – Football (AFL / Aussie Rules)

Frothy – Beer

F*ck Me Dead – that’s unfortunate, that surprises me

Furphy – rumours or stories that are improbable or absurd

G’day – Hello

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Galah – an Australian cockatoo with a reputation for not being bright, hence a galah is also a stupid person.

Gnarly – awesome – often used by surfers

Going off – busy, lots of people / angry person “he’s going off”

Good On Ya – Good work

Goon – the best invention ever produced by mankind. Goon is a cheap, boxed wine that will inevitably become an integral part of your Australian backpacking experience.

Hard yakka – Hard work

Heaps – loads, lots, many

Hoon – Hooligan (normally driving badly!)

Iffy – bit risky or unreasonable

Knickers – female underwear

Lappy – Laptop

Larrikin – Someone who’s always up for a laugh, bit of a harmless prankster

Legless – Someone who is really drunk

Lollies – Sweets

Maccas – McDonalds

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Manchester – Sheets / Linen etc. If you’re from England, finding a department within a shop called Manchester could seriously confuse you.

Mongrel – Someone who’s a bit of a dick

Mozzie – Mosquito

No Drama – No problem / it’s ok

No Worries – No problem / it’s ok

No Wucka’s – A truly Aussie way to say ‘no worries’

Nuddy – Naked

Outback – The interior of Australia, “The Outback” is more remote than those areas named “the bush”

Pash – to kiss

Piece of Piss – easy

Piss Off – go away, get lost

Piss Up – a party, a get together and in Australia – most social occasions

Piss – (To Piss) to urinate

Pissed – Intoxicated, Drunk

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Pissed Off – Annoyed

Rack Off – The less offensive way to tell someone to ‘F Off’!

Rapt – Very happy

Reckon – for sure. ‘You Reckon?’… ‘I reckon!’

Rellie / Rello – Relatives

 

There are so many more, but I didn’t want this post to be too long. Reviewing all the good Aussie words and phrases, I noticed how easily each of them sticks in my mind right from the first time. Perhaps, it can be explained by the uniqueness of the Australian expressionsbecause each saying contains the people’s fondness and respect for own language.

 

Featured

48 Hours in Sydney

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In honor of my friend coming to visit from Australia, I’ve decided to do a post about Sydney. Sydney may not be the capital of Australia, but it’s the largest city and one of the most popular to visit. It’s surrounded by water and home to the breathtaking and iconic Sydney Harbour. With so much to see and do in this glorious city, it can be difficult to know where to begin or how you can fit everything into two days. Fortunately for you, this guide will show you how to spend 48 hours in Sydney without getting overwhelmed.

This guide is perfect for those who only have 48 Hours in Sydney – A 2 Day Itinerary. We will show you what to do in Sydney, where to stay, what to eat and how to get around, whether its a weekend in Sydney or just a quick trip.


THE BEST TIME TO VISIT SYDNEY

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Remember that Australia is in the southern hemisphere, so seasons are flipped around and may be different to what you’re used to. If it’s freezing and snowing in your hometown, there’s a good chance it’s actually hot and sunny in Sydney.

Since Sydney enjoys such a moderate climate year-round, there really isn’t a bad time of year to visit. The only time you may want to avoid is the peak of summer if you’re not used to the heat. While the January and February average is 26 degrees Celsius, it’s not uncommon for temperatures to reach up to 40 degrees Celsius. If you thrive in warm weather, an Aussie summer experience in Sydney may be perfect for you. Summer is also when many of the best outdoor festivals are happening, so remember your SPF 50+!

If you’re used to the cold European and North American winters, coming here during wintertime in Sydney (June to August) won’t bother you in the slightest. In fact, you’ll be surprised to find there’s still plenty of sunshine. The temperature on an average July day is 17 degrees Celsius.October and November are beautiful and tranquil times to visit. The weather is mild and pleasant.


WHERE TO STAY IN SYDNEY

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Here are a couple of suggestions for where to stay in Sydney that will meet everyone’s requirements. We have also written an extensive guide on Where to stay in Sydney.

There’s no denying that Sydney is a very expensive city, and if you flew in from the other side of the world, you likely already paid a lot to get here. If you want to cut back on accommodation costs, you can stay at a quality hostel run by YHA. You’ll find backpackers hostels all over, but Sydney Harbour YHA is the only one with a rooftop overlooking the Opera House and Harbour Bridge.

A bed in a dorm begins at AU$33 per night, while private rooms and even four-bed family rooms can be booked at fluctuating prices.For more luxurious accommodation, look into the Meriton Suites. There are 13 locations spread across Sydney, with Meriton Suites Pitt Street being a top pick. There are studios, three-bedroom apartment suites and even stunning penthouses. All options have a private balcony, built-in wardrobe, kitchen facilities, laundry, espresso machine and living area.


Day 1

Take your jet-lagged morning easy with some brunch at Basket Brothers, followed by a whole lot of culture. 

10 am – Start off at Circular Quay, near The Rocks, the oldest part of Sydney. For about $7 you can take a Sydney Harbour ferry to the seaside town of Manly, with the 30-minute journey providing breathtaking views of the iconic Harbour Bridge, the Opera House, Kirribilli House — the prime minister’s residence — as well as the spectacular north and south heads, the maritime entrance to the harbor.

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10.30 am – Manly is one of Sydney’s most popular seaside destinations, considered the jewel of north shore beaches. It offers gentle activities from strolling along the pine-tree lined Manly Beach, to fishing and scuba diving as well as more extreme sports such as diving with sharks at the Oceanworld aquarium, kayaking and parasailing.

12.30 pm – Enjoy an early lunch at The Bower Restaurant on Marine Parade. This restaurant is situated on the south side of the beach overlooking the ocean and is a perfect spot to enjoy fresh seafood while watching surfers ride the waves at the Fairy Bower surf break, just over the balcony from your table.

2 pm – Take the rest of the day to stroll along the northern beaches, stopping for an occasional drink and to soak up the views from Freshwater, Curl Curl, Dee Why, Long Reef, Collaroy, Narrabeen, Warriewood, Mona Vale, Newport, Bungan, Avalon, Whale Beach and finishing up at Palm Beach. To do this trip justice you need five or six hours, but if you get tired, you can always hop on the L90 bus which runs on the main road close to all of these beaches and will drop you off at Palm Beach, the northern most suburb of Sydney.

Fans of the Australian soap opera “Home and Away” will recognize Palm Beach, as it is where the show is shot — the area is called “Summer Bay” in the series, however. Visitors can often see the cast and crew filming there.

7 pm – Enjoy dinner at Barrenjoey House Restaurant at Palm Beach. This area is nestled on a peninsula with lush evergreen bushland and sandy beaches, surrounded by the blue ocean. The menu offers various choices including Tasmanian Pacific oysters with pickled ginger and wasabi mayonnaise and lightly spiced ocean trout fillet with mussels in garam masala broth.

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10 pm – Head out of Palm Beach and back to the city. You can either hire a seaplane to fly you back to Rosebay, Sydney’s first international airport, or take a taxi (expect to pay about $100) or simply catch the local bus. All three options will provide you with the opportunity to travel back down the coast – the highlight of this trip is the descent toward Sydney Harbour Bridge at night, giving you plenty of time to enjoy the lights of North Sydney, Sydney Harbour and the city skyline.

11 pm – Have a night cap at the Opera Bar on the footsteps of the Opera House and soak up the views.


Day 2

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9 am– Start off again at Circular Quay, where scores of cafes offer great breakfast options.

10 am – Hop on a number 380 bus (about A$4 single journey) form Circular Quay to Bondi Beach, perhaps Sydney’s most famous and the key to the city’s eastern beaches.

11 am – Have a mid-morning coffee or juice at the Crabbe Hole cafe by the poolside at Bondi Icebergs Club, which is located at the southern end of Bondi Beach. Here you can enjoy the beach’s expanse of white sand and panoramic ocean views, while watching the local swimmers do laps in the rock pool beside the cafe.

The Icebergs Club was founded in 1929 and has become famous for its winter swimming season. On the first Sunday in June — the official start of winter swimming — large ice blocks are dumped into the pool, followed by hardened swimmers.

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12 pmWalk south along the coastal path, stopping at Mackenzies Point to take in views of both north and south Bondi. On the headland you will see a chimney in the middle of a golf course. On the other side of the chimney there is a rocky platform with a whale carved into it — one of the many Aboriginal rock carving sites identified around Sydney.

In recent years this pathway has become famous for the Sculpture by the Sea exhibition around October/November. It is Australia’s largest annual outdoor public display of sculpture, attracting interest from all over the world.

Keep walking to Bronte beach, hemmed in by a bowl-shaped park and sandstone headlands, through Tamarama beach (known to the locals as Glamarama) and over the hill to Waverley Cemetery, where local legends and Australian poet and writer Dorothea Mackellar, author of “My Country,” and poet Henry Lawson, whose portrait is on the Australian 10 dollar note, are buried.

Rounding the bend you pass through Clovelly Beach, Gordons Bay and then reach Coogee Beach.

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3 pm Take a late lunch at any of the beachside cafes along Arden Street and Coogee Bay road with choices of Indian, Thai, Italian or just pick up a packet of simple fish and chips and enjoy it while sitting on the sand.

It’s easy to while away the afternoon at Coogee, just watching the people go by or with a dip in the water.

6 pm – Take a number 377 bus back to Circular Quay and then head to the Blu Horizon bar on level 36 of the Shangri-la hotel for cocktails and to catch a last glimpse of the waterways around Sydney Harbour.

8.30 pm – Stroll down to The Rocks and enjoy dinner at the world renowned Rockpool restaurant. For nearly 20 years, chef and co-owner Neil Perry has been one of the brightest stars on the Sydney dining scape. Food on the menu includes twice cooked Murray cod with olive tapenade and black olive oil as well as suckling pig with sweet potato and ginger puree.

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10 pm – Head back to Circular Quay for a last nightcap before preparing for your departure.

There you have it!  

If you’ve only got 48 Hours in Sydney, you can sure pack a lot of adventure in!

 

Featured

Benefits of Quitting Sugar

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What happens when you quit sugar? A lot of good shizzzz. Kicking a sugar habit is challenging—even for the most strong-willed among us. Avoiding processed sugar is a challenge to daily life, but for some adults, stopping sugar is something that has to occur for health reasons. Sugar consumption can have long-term effects on your health, and sugar is associated with some conditions in multiple ways. For starters, consuming sugar in large amounts can lead to a strong addiction to sugar.

My sweet tooth developed as a child. I loved sugary cereals, chocolate chip cookies, homemade brownies and ice cream. Ice cream was on the menu before bed every night. This kind of snacking got increasingly healthier as I got older, but the habits still stuck. I found myself always reaching for “sweet” snacks over savory ones, and while those snacks didn’t include processed sugar, they still contained high amounts of natural sugars

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Benefits of not eating sugar

I know that cutting out sugar from my diet would produce some favorable results. Here are some common benefits of not eating sugar include:

  • Weight loss: Sugar has calories, but no nutritional value; eating sugar causes us to crave even more sugar

  • Reduced bloat: Artificial sweeteners are notorious for causing bloating

  • Mindful eating: Consciously avoiding certain ingredients (in this case: sugar) leads to more mindful eating habits

  • Better dental health: Sugary sodas, juices and candies create an acidic, cavity-promoting environment in the mouth

  • Sustained energy: Sugar crashes become a thing of the past; experience stable energy levels all day long

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How to Avoid Sugar

Now that you have information on what to expect when you stop eating sugar, it’s time to make quitting sugar happen. For this to be a successful journey, consider the tips below to boost your overall success.

1. Avoid Artificial Sweeteners

If at all possible, consider avoiding artificial sweeteners whenever you can. When you stop eating sugar, your brain will more than likely crave something sweet initially, and consuming artificial sweeteners can increase the cravings.

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2. Read all Food Labels

Every food product you purchase in packaging by law should contain a list of ingredients. The best way to avoid sugar is to carefully read your food labels and ingredient lists to ensure that added sugars are not included.

3. Prepare your Own Food at Home

The best way to ensure that you are not consuming any sugar in your meals is to prepare your meals at home. You should expect that any time you eat out somewhere that there is some hidden sugar included, so the best way to avoid sugar is to prepare your meals yourself.

4. Swap Soda for Carbonated Water

If you like drinking soda, then consider making the switch to seltzer or club soda. Many carbonated water options now include natural flavors as a way to enhance the water you drink. The best part about these is that they include no sugar or sweeteners  (but make sure to still double-check the labels for yourself).

5. Clean out Your Kitchen

If you want to avoid sugar, then you need to get rid of the sources of sugar in your home. This should be considered rule number one when it comes to avoiding sugar from here on out. 

There is a lot that can happen when you stop eating sugar, and generally speaking, the hardest part of stopping is in the initial stages. Typically, lethargy sets in and a slew of sugar withdrawal symptoms can set in, which include headaches, nausea, and mental fogginess. However, once you get past these issues, you should expect to notice health improvements including blood pressure and mood. To achieve this success, it is important to find ways to avoid sugar at all costs. After all, if you reintroduce sugar too soon in your diet, you could have a setback, and the process might start all over again.

It will be hard, but you can do it

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Featured

20 Netflix Originals You Need To Binge

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There are a lot of good TV shows on Netflix ,But what’s the best Netflix original series? The streaming service has put more and more emphasis into their own programming over the last few years, and with over 100 Netflix originals — between shows and movies — browsing aimlessly can be daunting. If you’re trying to figure out exactly which original show to watch next, here’s a great place to start with a look at a ranked list of the 20 best Netflix series right now.


Stranger Things

A throwback and love letter to the early 1980s movies of Steven Spielberg and John Carpenter, the Duffer Brothers Stranger Things feels both familiar and new. The first season is about a boy named Will (think E.T.‘s Elliot) who is captured by a The Thing-like creature and trapped in a Poltergeist-like world. His mother (Winona Ryder) recruits the local sheriff to investigate Will’s disappearance. Meanwhile, Will’s dorky, Goonies-like best friends take to their bikes to do some sleuthing of their own and eventually befriend an alien-like girl with telepathic powers (the E.T. of the series). The investigation into Will’s disappearance and the arrival of the telepathic girl all seem to lead back to a power plant operated by a character played by Matthew Modine. It’s great PG horror/sci-fi, like the blockbusters of the early ’80s, but for those who didn’t grow up in the era or aren’t intimately familiar with Amblin Entertainment’s catalog, the series may not hold as much appeal.


Orange is the New Black

Jenji Kohan’s knack for social commentary mixed with humor is perfect for a prison story. Orange Is the New Black is as funny as Weeds in its early years, but Kohan has found a way to infuse poignancy to the overall vibe of her stories. The diverse, engaging ensemble cast is chock-full of fan favorites, and while Orange is the New Black traffics in stereotypes, it also challenges and complicates them. The acting is superb, the writing is brilliant, and the storylines are addictive. More importantly, it forces us to root for people who make poor decisions and appreciate the fact that we all make poor decisions because we’re human. The series will make viewers laugh and think, and every once in a while, it will break viewers’ hearts. It is a smart show, but most of all, it is good, in every sense of the word.

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13 Reasons Why

Whether you’ve read the source material or not, Brian Yorkey’s adaptation of the YA sensation will ensnare you. The saga follows Clay (Dylan Minnette), a loner of a high schooler, as he tries to defog his crush’s mysterious rationale for suicide. (Viewer discretion advised: suicide, drinking, and sexual assault.) The heartbreak is real


Friends From College

This show, from husband and wife duo Nicholas Stoller and Francesca Delbanco, looks like an ensemble comedy, but it’s much more of a fucked-up love story. When you hit play, you’ll meet two cheaters and their friends from Harvard, all of whom make some reaaaaaally bad decisions. If you think the characters are unlikable, that’s the point. This is kind of like the 30-minute dramedy version of the anti-hero story Hollywood has been obsessed with, just with an entire group of morally gray characters. The tone can be confusing at times — you’ll see a few genuinely goofy scenes and then buckets of cringeworthy moments — but the stacked cast and the thought-provoking storylines ultimately deliver.


Tidelands

Sex! Drugs! Mer-people! Australia! There’s a world in which Tidelands, a Netflix original from down under, lives up to its pulpy premise and delivers a fun, fast-paced show. Unfortunately, that’s not this world. For all the mystery, the drug-running, the relationships between the “Tidelanders” (mer-people, more or less) and the average humans, the show plods along more than it should. It plays like a show the CW passed on (albeit with some mild nudity), and while the secrets of the Tidelanders are sufficiently intriguing to move the plot along, but there aren’t enough moments of excitement to make it the an irresistible siren song of a show.

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Sense8

Sense8 was a sens8tion. Perhaps not for everyone, but for enough people that creative duo Lana and Lilly Wachowski’s two-season neon blitz of queerness and sci-fi created a fanbase more loyal than almost any Netflix original series. These fans loved their sensates, who were connected to the audience almost as strongly as they were to each other. That loved the characters so much, in fact, that they were able to push for an epic series finale when it was clear that Netflix wasn’t planning to sustain expensive niche sci-fi shows. With collaborator J. Michael Straczynski, The Matrix creators made a multinational, multiethnic, queer-as-all-hell show jam-packed with diversity on all levels and enough multi-layered plotting to keep the massive cast happy, sexy, and interesting.


Narcos

One popular line of criticism has it that Narcos romanticizes the violence and degradation associated with the Colombian drug wars—and drug culture in general—and I would agree that the excellent Wagner Moura plays kingpin Pablo Escobar so engagingly that he becomes a sort of Walt White-esque antihero. And the rhythms of the documentary-style narration are fast-paced in a way that’s reminiscent of Guy Ritchie, whipping us along at an almost breakneck speed. Nevertheless, this valid criticism misses the important point that we are watching a work of fiction based on historical figures—not a real documentary. And when viewed that way, Narcos is one of the most successful shows on TV, in how it managed to flesh out some very dark characters and tell a complicated story with such urgency and clarity.


Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

After living underground in a cult for 15 years of her life, Kimmy Schmidt is finally exposed to the real world. She decides to make up for her lost years through the cultural, eye-opening streets of New York. Kimmy’s character develops through the help of her new friends– a gay Broadway wannabe, a street-smart landlady and an out-of-touch socialite. Navigate through the streets with Kimmy in this heartwarming and hilarious series. Two big thumbs up to Netflix.

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Dear White People

Deriving from the film, also titled Dear White People, we follow a group of underrepresented students in their fight for racial, social and political equality at the predominantly white Ivy League college of Winchester University. This series is very much relevant in today’s society by harshly, but appropriately addressing the issues revolving around race in the aspects of society and politics. Along with these issues, Dear White People sheds light on gender roles, sexuality and basically the whole rollercoaster of college. Through its blunt reality and crude humor, Dear White People is definitely a must see. #STAYWOKE


Master of None

Aziz Ansari’s Master of None is a post-racial dating and relationship sitcom about millennials. Like the better dating sitcoms of the past, the series still manages to capture the anxieties of dating, of new relationships, and of settling down, only it successfully brings in texting and social media into the mix naturally and without calling attention to itself. It also explores intimacy without resorting to gender stereotypes or relationship clichés. It’s new, and unique, and most of all, it is kind. It’s a good series about genuinely good people, and the chemistry between Ansari’s character and his love interest (Noel Wells) in the first season is electric. It’s not laugh-out-loud funny, but Master of None is funny in its observations, clever in its writing and honest in the depiction of its characters. It’s a truly great sitcom and something of a roadmap to dating for a new generation.

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Peaky Blinders

A British import licensed in America exclusively by Netflix, Peaky Blinders is roughly the UK equivalent of HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, taking place in the same time period and covering similar terrain. It’s got British gangsters, and while bootlegging and gambling are involved, so is the IRA, Peaky has one thing that Boardwalk does not, however, and that’s the piercing, intense Cillian Murphy, who plays something akin to Prohibition-era Boyd Crowder. The show also features Tom Hardy as a phenomenal recurring character in seasons two and three (along with Noah Taylor). It’s a short series, and it is addictive, violent, and intense as hell.


The Crown

At once intimate and sweeping, The Crown presents an inside view of the ascension of Queen Elizabeth II, played by Claire Foy, and the first few years of her reign. John Lithgow is featured as the indomitable Winston Churchill, struggling with the ignominy of age at the end of his career. Churchill’s support and mentorship of Elizabeth, despite his limitations, creates an important emotional center around which various historical events turn. Elizabeth’s relationship with her husband, Prince Phillip (Matt Smith) is also wonderfully explored; his role as consort is one that he by turns delights in and rebels against. The production spared no expense in painstakingly recreating the physical environments and rigid protocols that constrained and defined the royal family. The challenges posed by modernity and the post-colonial period are filtered through the Palace’s political structure, in which despite her role, Elizabeth’s personal needs and wishes are continually subsumed to protocol and appearance. This series will appeal to anyone who enjoys costume drama, but it is also a fascinating exploration of the post-WWII period and the development of a monarch who managed to maintain and even expand the popularity and stability of the British Monarchy against significant odds.


Bloodline

While the second season doesn’t quite live up to the near-perfect first, that freshman outing offers slow-burning greatness, doling out revelations about the Rayburn family incrementally. The series follows the Rayburn siblings, John (Kyle Chandler), Meg (Linda Cardellini), Kevin (Norbert Leo Butz) and Danny, portrayed by the Emmy-nominated Ben Mendelsohn, who gives one of this decade’s best television performances It’s Danny who’s the powder keg, the black-sheep brother who returns home to hotel business and upends the entire family, outing their secrets and putting them all in danger. Bloodline is a stressful series. It seems designed not to entertain, but to give viewers a panic attack. It’s a series that demands to be binged, not because the viewer wants to find out what’s next so much as not pushing through means living with these characters’ anxiety that much longer.

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You

Gossip Girl’s Penn Badgley returns as a scumbag we can’t help but swoon over in this Lifetime drama that’s now been handed off to the streaming platform. Badgley plays Joe Goldberg, a seemingly-sweet guy who works at a bookshop in the city and courts a beautiful blonde named Beck (Elizabeth Lail). Unfortunately, that’s where the rom-com portion of this thriller ends. You see, Joe’s “courting” includes stalking the object of his affections, breaking into her apartment, holding her boyfriend hostage, and peeping in on her most intimate of moments. And that’s only in the first episode. If anything, this show is proof that the modern dating world can be a terrifying hellscape.


One Day at a Time

A remake of a 1970s sitcom produced by 94-year-old iconic television producer Norman Lear, One Day at a Time manages to not only match its predecessor but miraculously improve upon it. This updated version centers on a Cuban America family headed by a single mom (Justina Machado) raising three kids with the help of her mom (Rita Moreno). It’s broad jokes and laugh track feels somewhat out of place on the streaming service, but the jokes still land and more importantly, the characters connect in an honest way as they attempt to live on a modest nurse’s salary and maintain their Cuban heritage while adapting to modern progressivism (much like Fresh Off the Boat). It’s more poignant sitcom than it is funny, but it’s a warm, loving look at difficulties of single parenting that resonates as much in 2017 as it did in the ’70s.


House of Cards

The highly bingeable political series is the grandfather of Netflix original programming, and now with five seasons under its belt, it’s had a lot of highs and plenty of lows. The first season is impeccable, as we see the beginning of Frank Underwood’s ascent to power from Speaker of the House to eventual President of the United States. The series, however, hits some rough spots, especially in season three when Underwood and his wife Clare (Robin Wright) turn against each other. The series is best when the two are working together.It’s beginning to run out of political room to maneuver. Still, the series is never short on twists, turns, and the occasional huge surprise. The supporting cast — which includes Molly Parker, Michael Kelly, Reg E. Cathey, Constance Zimmer, and Corey Stoll, among others — is always excellent, even if their storylines often run into dead ends.After former star Kevin Spacey’s alleged sexual misconduct against 15 accusers, and replacing him with his wife, Claire (Robin Wright), which leads to one of the most misconceived denouements one could imagine for a series of its profile.

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Grace And Frankie

Grace And Frankie‘s first season started streaming on Netflix back in 2015 and the third season was recently added to the streaming service. This series is super hilarious and is not to be missed. When their husbands share that they are in love with each other, the two women become unlikely and surprising friends. They accept each other’s differences and their own and it is a really charming story. This unlikely duo deal with circumstances that you would probably expect in an old-school sitcom but with a new, modern approach. Plus there is the fact that the actors are top-notch, from Jane Fonda to Lily Tomlin to Sam Waterston to Martin Sheen. So guess what you are going to be doing this week? Watching Grace And Frankie! What would you do if you were in their situation? That is something that you are going to be asking yourself!


Girlboss

Following the inspiring book by Sophia Amoruso, #Girlboss is a comedic series that is one of Netflix’s latest originals. Her story inspires young girls and women who want to do more with their life and is an empowering look at not giving up on your dreams. Sophia Amoruso has seriously gone through hell and back to start her business and she has so many amazing stories that have changed her life for the better and she has been a huge inspiration for many who want to do the same. She managed to take her career from nothing to something and it is really awesome. We are very excited to see this series which premiered on April 21st, 2017 (if you haven’t already watched, what are you waiting for?). Based on the trailer alone, it looks like you’ll be inspired and also laughing since this show is definitely super funny. It’s the perfect balance in our minds.


The Get Down

There’s a ton of hype around this Netflix original and for good reason. The Get Downis a short series that focuses on the life of youth detaching from the typical disco scene and trying to make it in the MC rapping world in an era where this type of musical expression wasn’t even valid unless you were performing in an underground community. While you might think this show isn’t for you just because it’s a musical drama, you would be totally wrong! This series takes its musical concept and completely shapes it in a brand new way. So you can definitely curl up on the couch and get started on your binge. Get ready to get down to the amazing music throughout this series! You will be so glad that you gave this one a try and will soon be telling all your friends about it.


Mindhunter

The name and the description may have you assuming that this is a typical network procedural: FBI agents interview psychopaths in order to catch murderers. But Mindhunter is as much Mad Men as it is Law & Order. Produced by David Fincher and Charlize Theron, the story follows two real-life agents, Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff, the original King George III in Hamilton on Broadway) and Bill Tench (Holt McCallany), along with consulting psychologist Dr. Wendy Carr (Anna Torv) in the FBI’s nascent Behavioral Science Unit. Joe Penhall’s series is based on a similarly titled true crime book. Interviewing and cataloguing convicted serial killers (a phrase the trio invents) leads to them helping on active cases, but it also affects each of their personal lives in different ways. Cameron Britton is particularly unforgettable as notorious murderer and necrophiliac Edmund Kemper

 

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Featured

48 Hours in San Diego

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When you think about Southern California, it’s fair to say that the glitz and glamor of Hollywood, the iconic Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco or perhaps even the natural beauty throughout Yosemite National Park will be at the forefront of your mind. I absolutely love San Diego – it’s such a fun, young city, with a real sense of buzz. I get excited every time I visit the city; the beaches are beautiful, the food is fantastic and the people are super friendly. 


Where to Stay in San Diego?

The beauty of visiting San Diego is that if you are flying into the international airport, you are just a short drive from the downtown area where all the main attractions are located. Hop in an Uber and for only $10 you will be transported to your chosen hotel in the downtown vicinity.

Hotel Del Coronado 

For those that want the ultimate luxury experience, why not stay at the exquisite Hotel Del Coronado, now part of the Hilton Curio collection. This hotel is possibly the most iconic in San Diego, and maybe even California, given the role it played in Marilyn Monroe’s “Some Like It Hot” movie. It’s fair to say this is a pretty spectacular hotel and you will be living the dream if you choose to stay here.

Hilton San Diego Bayfront 

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If you are looking for a slightly more affordable option, the Hilton San Diego Bayfront is a feasible alternative that offers great access to many of the city’s iconic attractions. Take a stroll along the promenade or hop on one of the many rental bicycles to head out and explore the city center and beyond.


Day 1

8AM – Take a trolley to Seaport Village, where you’ll find unique breakfast opportunities while enjoying the fresh, ocean air. You’ll also find small shops and boutiques, beautiful parks, carousels, and exciting family activities. Even a short stroll around Seaport Village will give you a good taste of San Diego’s personality.

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11AM – Next stop by Balboa Park and spend several hours enjoying the botanical gardens and one or two of San Diego’s famous museums, such as the Science Center, Museum of Art, Natural History Museum, or the Air and Space Museum. Obviously, you won’t be able to see all of these attractions, but you can pick one that appeals to your personal interests.

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4PM – Head over to the Hotel Del Coronado on Coronado Island for dinner. This luxury hotel is world famous (several U.S. Presidents have stayed there) and is located right on the beach. Your dinner will be unparalleled and after dinner you can enjoy a little ballroom dancing!

7PM – San Diego’s famous Gas Lamp Quarter provides exciting nightlife opportunities with its nightclubs, coffee shops, and live music venues. Finish out your first night in this fun, historic area.


DAY 2

8AM – Drive up to La Jolla Village, just North of San Diego for another delicious breakfast and a full morning of unique shops, family activities, spas, golf courses, or fun on the beach.

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11AM – San Diego houses one of the most famous zoos in the world. Spend your late morning and early afternoon either at the San Diego Zoo or the Wild Animal Park (an offshoot of the zoo where you can see animals living in a natural habitat).

4PM – After the zoo, stop by Old Town, where you’ll find an endless stream of live entertainment ranging from mariachi bands to professional dancers to theaters and themed events. You’ll also find art galleries, unique shops, wine tasting, and more in Old Town!

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7PM – Finish up your night with an extravagant, 3-hour dinner cruise on San Diego Bay. You’ll feel like a king as you enjoy an excellent, 5-star meal while touring the bay’s picturesque sights, such as the Bay Bridge and the Naval Base (which harbors enormous, breathtaking aircraft carriers).

 

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Featured

48 HOURS IN LOS ANGELES

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Los Angeles is one of those destinations that fills your eyes with stars and your heart with dreams. And with a sprawling landscape of endless traffic, pressed juiceries and want-to-be actors, you’ll find plenty to do (and stare at). If you want to see the best of LA in a short period of time, check out my 48 Hours in Los Angeles guide.


Day 1

You’ll likely be flying into LAX. Assuming you’ve packed light (it’s just 48 hours, after all), take the Flyaway Bus to Union Station. This iconic train station, built in the 1930s, is notable for its gorgeous Art Deco style, public art, and its role in films, including Blade Runner and To Live and Die in L.A.

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LA is a city that is overwhelmingly large in size. Notorious for both its hard-to-navigate public transport system and terrible traffic jams, crossing the city is no mean feat. Hiring a car is almost essential; though if this isn’t an option we recommend making use of phone apps Lyft or Uber – both of which are readily available and rides can be shared with others in order to lessen the fare.

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A trip to Los Angeles wouldn’t be complete without a trip to a trendy, vegetarian brunch spot. Known for their juices and egg-based dishes, The Butcher’s Daughter is a hot spot right in the heart of Abbot Kinney. Enjoy the surfer’s breakfast burrito, the local artisan gift shop and people watch eco-friendly hipsters who prefer an aesthetically pleasing breakfast nook with their green juice rather than their own kitchen.

After breakfast, make your way down Abbot Kinney Street to the famous Venice Canals. You might recognize a couple of scenes from Californication or Starsky and Hutch in this man-made, Euro-Cali wonderland. After the canals, check out the buskers, muscle men and art scene on the Ocean Front Walk on Venice Beach. I highly recommend visiting the Santa Monica Pier via rented bicycle or a thirty minute walk.

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You may not be able to afford some of these lavish designers, but you have to see what the Beverly Hills buzz was about in the 80’s, 90’s and even today! Check out Rodeo Drive, the famous Beverly Hills sign, the Sprinkles Cupcake ATM and even take a tour to see some of the most extravagant and ostentatious houses in LA.

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The Skybar is something of a trendy anomaly of WeHo. While most clubs come and go throughout LA, this club scene has withstood the test of time. Maybe it’s the Mondrian’s incredible reputation. Perhaps is the rooftop location that’s always an Angeleno favorite. Or maybe it’s the trendy events and guest list that’s always a “must-be-seen” attraction. Whatever the reason, this place is a must visit!

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Day 2

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If there’s any slut you can get behind, it’s an eggy one. Eggslut is downtown’s latest breakfast craze and it’s really no surprise why. Eggslut is located in the famous Grand Central Market and provides greasy, delicious breakfast concoctions that will cure any hangover and fill every belly. After all, if you’re not doing vegan, do it big, right?

When was the last time you were able to jump off a skyscraper onto a glass slide over the streets of the city? Never, you say! Now’s the time to change that. Along with sliding down the US Bank Tower, Skyspace also has an incredible observation deck of the city and an interactive art exhibit before taking the elevator up. It’s a tad pricey, but if you make the most of your time here, it’s worth it!

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Drive up to the nearest In-N-Out burger joint for lunch. This fast food joint is an iconic LA establishment and most Angelenos will give it two thumbs up. Make sure you order your burger “Animal Style” (more pickles, extra spread, grilled onions and mustard fried onto each meat patty) for the ultimate experience.

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This might possibly be the most touristy thing you do in LA, but it’s worth seeing. Yes, Hollywood Blvd. is super fucking dirty. And yes, the busker’s in off brand costumes are kinda sad. But it really is amazing to see where the Emmy’s are held every year, see famous clubs like the Avalon, and even visit the famous Roosevelt Hotel located right across the street of the TCL Chinese Theatre.

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See one of LA’s greatest monuments. The Griffith Observatory highlights the beauty of space with the Samuel Oschin Planetarium and Leonard Nimoy Event Horizon Theater just inside. But it’s the view outside that brings thousands of tourists here daily. Come to the Griffith Observatory about an hour before sunset and enjoy the spectacular view of the skyline. Hike the area, explore the inside of the observatory or enjoy a casual picnic. Colors radiate the sky as DTLA and the Mid City skyscrapers flicker with lights as the sun goes down.

You’ve probably heard of LA’s gnarly traffic problem. Don’t let the hype fool you. It’s worse than those rumors.

And unlike other major cities around the world, Los Angeles doesn’t have a great public transportation system. Undergrounds and buses exist, but they are not the best way to get around town. If you can, I highly recommend taking shared rides (like Lyft or Uber) or renting a car while you are in town.

 

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Featured

48 Hours In NYC

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Welcome to the city that never sleeps! Spoiler alert: neither will you.

…only joking, you’ll get some rest. For those looking to experience NYC to the fullest, you’ve come to the right place. I love New York City. I have been going to NYC twice a year since I was 2 and plau I have family that lives there. In the city of blinding lights, you’ll find everything you’re looking for. It’s the city dreams are made of, where there’s nothing you can’t do. That’s probably why they named it twice. And yes, I totally just ripped off two famous songs to draw you in here. Whether you’re looking for falafel trucks at 4AM or the pretzel stand at 4PM, we’ve got you covered with this easy guide to maximizing your time in the city, getting around and enjoying some of the very best spots…

Note: Buy your tickets to a Broadway show and Top of the Rock before your visit along with making any lunch and dinner reservations. If you wait until you arrive you may end up spending more time in lines than actually seeing the city.


Where to Stay

Well I have always stayed with family and never in a hotel. 

There’s no hotel in New York quite like the Viceroy Central Park. If you’re looking for a stylish boutique stay, only moments from Central Park, then this is the place for you. The hotel is located on West 57th Street, between 6th and 7th Avenues – it’s a great spot for exploring nearby Central Park and vibrant Midtown. Expect style and sexy decor at this hotel. Set on 29 floors, with an Art Deco feel, the hotel boasts a fitness centre, luxury restaurant and one of the city’s best rooftop bars: The Roof.

Another great find, if you’re looking for a vibrant, youngish kind of stay in New York, The Frederick is a fantastic boutique hotel in Tribeca. The hotel is home to a 24-hour fitness centre, restaurant and cocktail bar. We loved the style of the hotel; it mixes vintage and Art Nouveau styles, with flashes of colour and touches of minimalist design, for something rather unique to the area.


Getting There

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NYC is one of the easiest cities to reach, whatever the means of transportation. With direct trains from most East Coast cities to Pennsylvania Station and no fewer than three easy major airports including LaGuardia for domestic flights as well as Kennedy and Newark for international arrivals, you’ve got options. Newark offers perhaps the quickest route into lower Manhattan, while John F. Kennedy Airport offers excellent connectivity to midtown and Brooklyn.


Day 1

Breakfast The Bagel Store

New York is KNOWN for its bagel scene. Lox bagels, everything bagels, and even cragels! What’s a cragel you may ask? A cragel is a croissant and bagel combo and is found in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn at The Bagel Store. This place is famous for its rainbow bagels and eccentric flavors like cotton candy, bacon schmear and, of course, the cragel.

This family-run business has the friendliest staff you’ll find in New York and the bagels, whether you like ‘em plain or you like ‘em weird, are AMAZING! The store delivers across the country so once you’ve tried them you can have them long after you travel back home.

Shop at the Chelsea Market

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Looking for some of the best grub in a casual setting? The Chelsea Markets are a collection of local shops, eateries and bars enclosed in a building located in the Chelsea neighborhood. Food ranges from sit-down meals to take-away.

CENTRAL PARK

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Perhaps one of the best ways to begin your day is a trip to Central Park for a walk, run or sightseeing. The southeast entrance of the park is located a short 8-minute walk down 5th Avenue from the Omni Berkshire Place. If you’re a runner, stop by the concierge desk for a running map before heading out. Other options inside the park include the Central Park Zoo, beautiful gardens and sculptures, cycling and carriage rides, and ice skating rinks in the winter. I love this place. I remember as a kid getting a big pretzel from the “Pretzel man” as I used to call him and going to the zoo. I watching my aunt and uncle get married in the park.

VEZZO PIZZA

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Hungry from a day of activities, Vezzo Pizza is the perfect pitstop for a late lunch. Ridiculously thin crust pizza that almost struggles under the weight of the toppings. Mushroom lovers, you absolutely need to order Shroomtown

Grand Central Terminal

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After you’ve fueled up, let’s hit the ground running and head over to Grand Central Terminal. This building is famous for its pale blue ceiling that is studded with a series of eye catching constellations that mimic the night sky

Chrysler Building/Empire State Building

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Next, you’ll walk along 42nd street, towards 5th avenue. On the way, you’ll be able to see the Chrysler Building and the Empire State Building. While the view from the top of the Empire State building is amazing, the line is incredibly long and the tickets are incredibly expensive so I wouldn’t recommend it.

New York Public Library

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One of New York’s famous, but less-visited attractions is the New York Public Library. Keep in mind there are over 20 branches of New York public libraries, but the famous one to visit is the Main Branch on 476 5th Avenue. I’m a bookworm myself so it’s incredibly inspiring to walk amongst the old books that contain so much history (both within the pages and the walls of the building).

And if you’re also into movies, you might notice that this was the set for several movies including The Day After Tomorow, Spider-Man, Ghostbusters, and of course, Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

Times Square

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Next we’ll keep walking down 42nd street and head into Times Square. Honestly, I am not a huge fan because it is VERY touristy, so I wouldn’t buy or eat anything here since it’s overpriced and just not worth it. Therefore, I would snap a few pictures and get out of there.

***The only reason to stay in Times Square is if you want to see a Broadway Show. Just hop on the TKTS line in Times Square and get half price tickets for Broadway shows that evening.

I’ve only been to Times Square twice in my life, and I would say skip it

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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You can’t spend 48-hours in New York and not visit one of their great museums. The Metropolitan Museum of Art is one of the world’s largest and finest art museums, and something you must see in New York. Its collection includes more than two million works of art spanning five thousand years of world culture, from prehistory to the present and from every part of the globe. Other great art galleries in the city include the MoMa, which is the home of contemporary art in New York, and the Guggenheim. It’s worth purchasing a CityPass to see these and much more. I love the MET. I think I have been here more times then I remember. 


Day 2

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Breakfast at Boris & Horton

If you spent the previous evening dancing the night away in the city that never sleeps, it’s time for the ultimate hangover cure: puppies! One of New York’s newest cafes, Boris & Horton, is the first dog cafe where you can eat, drink and chill, but with a dog on your lap!

Flatiron Building

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If it’s construction and architecture you’re after, look no further than the Flatiron Building, a “ground-breaking,” triangular skyscraper located at 175 Fifth Avenue in the borough of Manhattan, New York City. It’s famed shape makes it an awesome place to take pictures, but it’s really its foundation you’ll be marveling at.

The High Line

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I had never heard of High Line until my most recent trip to New York. The High Line is a 1.45-mile-long elevated linear park, greenway and rail trail located high above the street. It was originally created on a former New York Central Railroad spur, but had been abandoned (though still decorated with plenty of unused tracks). Now, tourists come to marvel at the view as it’s sandwiched between the edge of the island of Manhattan and the city skyline.

One World Trade Center

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Do you remember where you were on September 11th, 2001? I remember it so clearly, it was a day of such horror and tragedy that even as a middle-schooler, I knew that what was happening was pure evil. I could get into my personal story but I’ll save that for another post.

Start your morning paying tribute to the Americans who lost their lives at the 9/11 Memorial & Museum. Afterwards, check out the newly rebuilt One World Trade Center where you can view the city from its observatory at 102 floors up. For those architect lovers, head over to the Oculus and marvel at its design.

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Eataly

From here, depending on how hungry you are, you can stop at Eataly for some of my favorite pizza and pasta in the city. This restaurant and grocery store combo was created by none other than Mario Batali so you know the ingredients are fresh and that the food is delicious.

Wall Street

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After you’ve had your fill, walk on over to Wall Street, see the Stock Exchange, and the Charging Bull statue.

STATEN ISLAND FERRY

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Take the free Staten Island Ferry from Whitehall Terminal and enjoy the boat ride views of Manhattan. Once back on dry land head up to the Brooklyn bridge and either stroll or bike ride over. If you get far enough go to DUMBO and get that classic shot of the Brooklyn Bridge between the buildings.

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Featured

Annoying Questions People Ask Starbucks Baristas

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The first few times I walked into a Starbucks, this was my experience: Why are the words on the menu so small? *Walks closer to menu* I thought Starbucks had tons of drinks. Why are there like. . . only ten on the menu?! How do I know what I want? I was such a baby then, but now I’m a pro (**Update…I can’t have coffee anymore…the caffine makes me sick)

The average Starbucks barista encounters hundreds of people in a day. And some of them are a lot more polite than others. You probably already know your barista will be annoyed if you order one of the most obnoxious drinks on the Starbucks menu (or at least on the Starbucks secret menu).

Most of us don’t feel fully human until we have our morning caffeine fix. But if you want better service — and don’t want Starbucks baristas to roll their eyes each time you walk in the door — you should avoid asking them these annoying questions.


Could I have a medium?

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Starbucks has been around long enough — and let’s be real, you probably stop by frequently — that you know the chain’s name for whatever size drink you usually order. (Short, tall, grande, venti, and trenta, remember?) Most baristas won’t get annoyed if you occasionally order a “medium” instead of a “grande.” But don’t lecture the barista about how you think those names are dumb. They’ve heard it before.


What drinks are good?

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You can choose from among a huge number of different Starbucks drinks and customize them in practically endless ways. You should go in knowing what you want, not hoping to get a recommendation from the barista. Just like the servers at your favorite restaurants, Starbucks baristas don’t know what you like. And they can’t read your mind to figure out what you’re craving. Most baristas are happy to answer questions about what goes into a drink or how two options compare. But you should always have a pretty good idea of what you want before you reach the counter.


Ask for extra in a separate cup

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Some drinks, like Frappuccinos, tend to leave leftovers in the bottom of the blender. But your barista is probably annoyed if you ask for extra in a separate cup.


Order espresso over ice and then fill your cup with milk from the bar.

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Starbucks baristas have a name for this: the “Hobo Latte.” Baristas see right through you when you order iced espresso in a Venti cup and then fill the rest of your cup with free milk. Just order a latte, they ask, since that’s what you’re making anyway.


I’m here all the time. Don’t you remember my order?

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You might think you’re a regular at a particular Starbucks location. But stopping in a couple times a week doesn’t guarantee any of the baristas will remember what you order. Obviously, it’s nice to be remembered. But you have a better chance of making a good impression — and of a barista remembering your drink — if you’re courteous, tip well, and don’t ask obnoxious questions.


Can you make me ____? It’s off the secret menu.

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This question by itself is not that bad — if you want a secret menu item (which I hope by now everyone understands is not a real thing), I will gladly make it for you. What’s annoying is when you ask for a Captain Crunch Frappucino or a Butterbeer Frapp, and you have no clue what goes into it, because we don’t know, either. Our training’s intense, but we’re not taught what’s not on the menu, so we need you to help us break it down (instead of a Churro Frapp, try “a tall vanilla bean with two pumps of cinnamon dolce and white mocha syrup”).

Oh, and while we’re at it, adding matcha powder and java chips to a Frappucino doesn’t make it “mint chocolate chip.”


Can you make it the same way they do at [coffee shop that isn’t Starbucks]?

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Even if you’re secretly (or not so secretly) grumpy you have to stop in at a Starbucks instead of your usual coffee shop, you shouldn’t ask your barista to make your drink the way another shop prepares it. A Starbucks barista is pretty unlikely to know how that other shop prepares your drink. So it would be a lot more helpful if you could specify exactly how you want your drink made.


Whoa, why is it so expensive?

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Similarly, Starbucks baristas have no control over the prices that corporate sets. You’ll just annoy your barista if you make a big deal of complaining about what your drink costs. You might be crying on the inside about what your cappuccino habit is costing you each week. But that’s a downward spiral you can always return to later — after you enjoy that delicious cappuccino.


*Let me just finish my cellphone conversation while you wait for me to order.*

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Nobody actually says this. But continuing to talk on your phone while the barista waits for you to order is just plain rude. The barista is awkwardly waiting for you to pay attention and tell them what drink you want. And everybody behind you in line is getting irritated that you’re making them wait, too. Hang up the phone for 30 seconds, so you can actually have a conversation with the barista. Was that really so difficult?


Could you clean up this mess my kid made?

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We all get it. Kids are messy. And unless your Starbucks barista has zero sympathy — pretty unlikely given their ability to tolerate a food-service job — they probably understand even the most attentive parent can’t stop their kid from spilling things from time to time. But if your child spills a drink or drops a pastry, do your best to clean up the mess before alerting a barista. Sure, a stack of napkins can only do so much when an entire venti iced tea is on the floor. But don’t act entitled. And don’t forget to apologize if you have to ask a barista for help in cleaning up the mess.

 

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Featured

48 Hours in Athens Greece

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Athens, Greece’s ancient and storied capital city, stands as each a ruin, relic, and reminder of what great travel is to astute explorers. The cradle of Western Civilization, Athens is one of those rare behemoths of bucket list destinations that contains it all – art, history, beautiful weather, food, and generous people. It rivals Rome in stunning architecture and historical relevance. If you’ve ever read the Iliad, Odyssey in high school/college or drooled over Gerard Butler ‘s amazing painted on six pack in 300 then you know the ancient Greeks were no joke.


How to Get There

Aegean and Easyjet run regular flights from the UK to Athens daily starting from £100.

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Where to Stay

Athens is full of accommodation options to suit a variety of budgets, so depending on how much you have to work with – you can plan accordingly. 

Book at Divani Caravel, which is located just outside of the main Syntagma square and so you get a little more for your money. It’s a five-star palatial offering and yet around £127 per night, so it’s really affordable if you’re trying to keep costs down.

Getting into the main square is just a 1 stop, 1 euro metro ride away, so you won’t miss out any of the action – and the extra walk means you can explore even more of the city in your 48 hour window!

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For sheer Belle-Epoque splendour, see the refurbished and impossibly sumptuous Hotel Grande Bretagne on Syntagma Square . There’s butler service in most rooms and a marble lobby. Doubles from €245, room only.

Fresh Hotel (9) in the meat-packing district at Sofokleous 26 is simple and stylish, with Acropolis views from its rooftop pool. Doubles from €93.50, including breakfast.

For something in the heart of the action and with that same touch of luxury, I’d recommend the Electra Metropolis, where you can spend one afternoon on their incredible rooftop terrace, which offers panoramic views over the city. You can enjoy a cocktail or two in the hotel and won’t want to leave, so I’m sure the bedrooms are just as awe-inducing!


THE ITINERARY

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Once you have arrived in Athens, take the metro to Monastiraki. You’ll fall in love with Athens from your first glimpse at the Acropolis when you come out of the station!

Once your settled into your hotel rooms and showered since you had been traveling overnight. Once your were ready to go, the first thing you should do is have lunch by the Acropolis before embarking on a privately guided tour. Next, head to the Parthenon, which stands sentry over the city of Athens as it has done for 2500 years, but its founders might be shocked by the concrete jungle that has developed a few hundred metres below it over millennia.

After the Acropolis, you will visit the most exciting museum to open in Europe in the past decade. The New Acropolis Museum is filled with exquisite sculptures from the Acropolis.  Return to the hotel, rest up and then get ready for dinner.  Your evening meal will be at a classic restaurant in Plaka where you will enjoy Greek gourmet cuisine.

Next, Grab a table outside for lunch on the terrace at the Acropolis Museum restaurant overlooking the Acropolis.

As you promenade down the Dionysiou Areopagitou Boulevard towards the east, pass stylish town houses, restaurants and shops, and buy a crown of olive leaves for the fancy-dress box from a stall along the way.

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At the Temple of Olympian Zeus, on the east side of Hadrian’s Arch, the complex’s imposing Corinthian columns, measuring 17.25 metres tall and 1.7 metres in diameter, give true meaning to the word awesome.

Wander through the cobbled streets lined with shops selling specialty souvenirs: olive oil, vacuum-packed olives and donkey-milk soap, pom pom slippers, linen clothing and leather sandals. Or buy a treasure to satisfy a contemporary goddess, a piece of Dimitrios jewellery from Byzantino.

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DAY TWO

Wake to the sound of church bells pealing from the tiny churches dotted throughout Monastiraki before heading to the fish market in Athinas Street to take in the action.

After breakfast you will be met at your hotel by your private guide.  Visit the ancient Agora and then take a walking tour in the heart of the classical city, viewing Greek and Roman architecture and learning about the politics of ancient Athens.  Highlights include the best preserved temple in Greece, the Temple of Hephaistion.

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Go to the National Archaeological Museum near Omonia Square, one of the greatest archeological museums in the world and a perfect spot to chart the history of Greek sculpture. The vast collection ranges from the minutiae of life – tiny gold hairpins, decorated with ram’s and goat’s heads, brooches and decorated vessels – to the timeless tragedy of death; an infant’s shroud made from beaten gold and a room full of Egyptian mummies.

A must do is have lunch in Plaka and then return to your hotel to relax before your next adventure. Later on in the day you will want to depart from the center of Athens and will be driven along the coastline to the Temple of Poseidon, around a 1 ½ hour trip with breathtaking scenery.  As watching the sunset from the Temple of Poseidon is something that should not be missed, we suggest that you depart from Athens during the afternoon.

Another great way to finish the night is by listening to some music at the Jazz CafE Bar on the corner of bustling Iroon Square. Drink a night cap or two before ambling back to your Hotel In the morning at your convenience, you will have a private transfer from the hotel to the airport in time to meet your flight home or to jet off to your next Willing foot destination.

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Featured

Reasons To Listen To Podcasts

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  1. Deeper Personal Connections Podcasts offer much more than written media because they put a voice with words. You may have a favorite author or blogger that you love to read, but hearing their voice and hearing them express their thoughts literally adds a new dimension to their content. The audio component promotes a deeper connection between the speaker and listener and builds a greater affinity to the author’s work.
  2. More Personal & Informative Advertising — Not only are podcasts valuable for consumers, but for advertisers as well. Instead of running canned ads many advertisers are opting to have hosts read a short statement about their product or service but then talk more casually about the advertiser. This typically benefits the listener by allowing them to receive more details about a specific product or service without a major interruption to the experience of listening to an episode.
  3. Introduction to New Ideas — As a subscriber to a podcast, you are along for the ride. Much like watching a news program, you trust the provider to take you on a journey through different topics. These often prove to be new and unfamiliar topics and ideas that the host thinks are important. 
  4. Redeemed Time and Continued Personal Growth — Related to the topic above, podcasts allow listeners to grow more in their knowledge or expertise about a topic or situation while at the same time redeeming time that would be wasted on an inane task. Commutes are turned into classrooms through podcasts. Dog walking becomes discipleship time. Exercising not only builds the body but the mind as well.
  5. Cultural Awareness — As podcasts sit on the leading edge of technology and information, those who are consumers of podcasts will often be more aware of the changes in culture. Season one of Serial spawned many debates online and at the office.

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Here are my favourite reasons that I love Podcast.

Podcasts are portable

Whilst it’s possible to listen to podcasts on your computer, I personally prefer to take them on the move. I make a lot of 20 minute trips. Many podcasts fit into this timeframe and when you find one that’s regular you can subscribe so that the next episode is already available when you’re next free. I split my time on the go between listening to podcasts and listening to music.

They energise me

The right podcasts aren’t dumbed down. Listening to Ideas energises me and can set me up for the day.

They educate me

I’m an audio girl for sure, so I don’t know about you but I tend to retain information that someone says to me. Do you ever find that someone has a great idea for a book, but for various reasons they feel compelled to make it overlong? Repeating and embellishing the same point?  Sometimes a 10 minute audio overview can explain the ideas in as useful a way as reading the whole book.

Podcasts give me ideas

Sometimes I drift off whilst listening to podcasts and whilst mulling over something in my head, I get an idea from a completely unrelated podcast topic. Eureka! Shebang – Pow – Blop – Whiz!

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I’m in control

My car, only has a CD player and a radio. I frustrate myself flitting between 1 or 2 radio stations and the single cd. IT’s infuriating! I hate this onsg, shut up stupid, damn adverts…Can rewind, relisten, subscribe, just pick one.

Podcasts are free

Not everyone shares my love of podcasts, maybe because they perceive them as difficult and compared to turning on the TV or the Radio they are I guess. But, once you’ve got used to them, I think that they’re well worth the investment.

I can listen to podcasts while I clean my house.

I really don’t like housecleaning. The dust accumulates just as fast whether I dust once a week or once a month. In just a few days, you can hardly tell I even had a dust rag near the place. Thus, I have to keep my mind off these depressing facts while I clean my house, or I just won’t stick with it. But give me a good podcast to focus on, and I’ll get a room clean in no time. The only problem is that I can’t vacuum because then I can’t hear the podcast. 

 

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Here are some of my favorie podcasts…All of these are movie podcast

  • 2 Guys and a Chainsaw
  • 3 black geeks
  • Let’s Have a Kiki- with MovieBitches (check out their youtube channel -Movie Bitches)
  • A podcast and a movie
  • Best bad movie Ever
  • Bloody Date Night
  • Dead Meat
  • Decades of Horror
  • Friday the 13th podcast
  • How did this get made
  • Podslash
  • HillTop Horror

If you love moives, you should def check these out. Most of them are horror movies, but there are soooo many more movie podcast out there. 

Featured

48 Hours in Orlando

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I love Orlando. I went last year with family and I had a blast. Although, we did go to Universal and I must say that will be the first and last time I ever go there.

Orlando may be famous for its theme parks, but there’s a lot more to do in this vibrant city. If you like nature and wildlife, there are plenty of places that will pique your interest. If you like to soak in the arts and culture, then Orlando has the museums and historical sites you’ll love. If you’d prefer to soak up the sun, then its amazing beaches are waiting just for you. 

 I really think in the future, I would move to Orlando. What is Florida? Beaches, tacky tourist traps, humidity beyond belief? Actually, it’s more than that. Orlando is full of character, fantastic food, wonderful people, and small town wonders.


Day 1

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Orlando has 125,000+ hotel rooms, just behind Las Vegas if you can believe it, so the toughest part about choosing where to stay is just that… choosing.

We stayed at staySky Suites I-Drive Orlando, which wasn’t that bad. It was in the perfect location with a lot of restaurants and shops around and Universal was only a few minutes away.  However, we did get there 5 hours early because most check-In is 4pm and they rushed to clean our room and I had a chemical smell for the first few hours. Also we were harassed a little bit over attending a presentation for park tickets. That was annoying.

Ride the Orlando Eye, a 400-foot tall observation wheel on downtown Orlando’s International Drive, that gives you a bird’s-eye view of the city, including its theme parks and also numerous lakes and green areas. We didn’t get to go on this. The line was extremely long and we didn’t have the time.

Visit Harry P Leu Gardens, which contains 50 acres of mainly tropical plants as well as accessible meandering walkways. The garden also has a reputation for encouraging gardening among those with disabilities; this can be seen in the Abilities Garden here, which features raised areas of grass and planting beds that wheelchair users can easily transfer to.

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Head for CityWalk at Universal Studios to enjoy dinner as well as soak up some of the atmosphere of the theme park based around a working movie and television studio. There is no admission fee for City Walk, a pedestrian area featuring restaurants, bars, nightclubs and other entertainment options, such as a bowling alley and a 19-screen IMAX theater.

Parking is in the main Universal Studios enclosed garage, where accessible parking is available and wheelchairs can be rented. It is about a 15-minute walk to CityWalk from the main parking area. Or, valet parking will leave you just a few-minutes walk from the CityWalk entrance.But the best bet is to try to take a shuttle or bus from your hotel, many of which meet accessibility standards; this way you will not have to worry about parking. You can find many fun and themed eateries that are also wheelchair accessible at CityWalk, such as Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville, NBC Sports Grill (which is really good) and the Hard Rock Cafe.

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After dinner, take in a show  at The CityWalk theater. There is wheelchair-accessible seating scattered throughout the venue, as well as assistive listening and descriptive narration devices for those who are blind, have low vision, or are deaf or hard of hearing.Top Tip: It is best to make a reservation or get tickets in advance. Also we went on Memorial Day weekend and it was packed, go in the off season 


 Day 2

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Ok, Ok now you have two options. You can either go to Universal or off the beaten path. For the sake of this post. I will talk about not going to the theme parks. 

 

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Although, going to Jurassic Park at Universal was pretty cool. It’s one of my favorite movies. 

 

IMG_8335.jpg $8 for Butterbeer…not worth it. Plus Harry Potter Land or whatever it was called, was ok. I’ve never read any of the books or seen the movies, so I didn’t know what anything was. 

Kick-off your Sunday at East End Market– a neighborhood market filled with local food options. People rave about the pastries and croissants from Olde Hearth Bread Co, or if you’re in the mood for something lighter, order a fresh juice or smoothie from SkyeBird. Next start your day with a hot air balloon ride over Orlando at sunrise. You can check out the services offered by Orlando Balloon Rides. The view is spectacular, so there’ll be tons of Instagram snaps for the taking. 

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After the hot air ballon (no thanks..I rather stay on the ground) head to Lake Eola Park gives a great view of the downtown Orlando Skyline, and it’s such a pretty park for a walk. I’m always weary of downtown areas because you never know about the crime and also because parking is typically a nightmare, we lucked out getting a spot close, but you can google “Lake Eola Parking” like we did and it will show you different garages and streets you can park on!

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We didn’t get the chance to see this mural, but I thought it was a really cool way to show tribute to the people harmed in the Pulse night club shooting. I think what I like the most about this art piece is that despite such a hate-charged tragedy, they put up love. It’s also very surreal to be in a place that experienced something like that.

Also check out Sugarboo&Co …One of my favorite stores EVER! Such a cute store, but expensive.

Time for tacos! Orlando has some great Mexican restaurants that have popped up in recent years. Hunger Street Tacos is a favorite for authentic, creative tacos and Reyes Mezcaleria is super cute and has a great tequila/mexcal list!

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End your night with drinks at The Matador– a popular spot that has a dive bar feel with plenty of seating and a fun cocktail list.

Side Note*** We also drove to Daytona Beach, which is 45 minutes from Orlando and we spent the day on the beach and getting sun burn, but that trip was fun. 

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I hope this guide helps anyone traveling to Orlando and not wanting to visit the theme parks- or I think doing a day at the parks and a day in Winter Park/Orlando would be perfect! Shiloh and I would love to know if you have any other must-dos in Orlando or the nearby areas- let me know in the comments!

Featured

48 Hours in Boston

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Boston is known for a lot of things: its rich history, its educational institutions, its passionate sports fans, its colorful autumns (and brutal winters), its culture, and its pride. While Boston may only be a short train journey away from the bright lights of New York City, it is a world away in terms of its pace of life. This charming New England city is one of the USA’s top city break destinations. 


WHERE TO STAY

If you want to feel like an absolute rock star while you’re in Boston then book yourself in at the Four Seasons. If you’ve just come from New York, you’ll notice the rooms are about 487 times the size of your last hotel (you’ll actually be able to open your suitcase the whole way!), plus it’s in a prime location so you’ll be able to walk your way around the city. Also, book a stay at The Envoy Hotel right in the heart of Boston. Drop your suitcase in your room, then proceed directly to the rooftop bar for a sunset cocktail and a taste of the good life. You’ll be close to several popular local attractions. 


Day 1

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9.00 am

One of my go-to places in Boston, flour bakery boasts a great selection of scrumptious pastries which makes it a perfect choice for breakfast. Who wouldn’t like a warm banana bread, a ham and cheese croissant, or brown butter cinnamon rolls to start the day? Besides pastries, they offer a variety of sandwiches and grain bowls. Flour offers consistently delicious, fresh, and affordable meals. 

10.00 am

From flour bakery start walking towards the North End (Little Italy). Cross the Seaport Boulevard Bridge and stroll along Harborwalk which is public walkway that stretches 43 miles along Boston’s shoreline. Walking from flour bakery to the North End will take no more than half an hour. Make sure to stop at one of the wharves to get beautiful views of the harbor.

11:30am

 Visit the South End for even more Insta-worthy townhouses lining cobblestone streets. But our all-time favorite activity in Boston is walking the Freedom Trail, where you’ll learn fun facts about the Founding Fathers of our country that’ll come in handy at dinner parties. 

1pm

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Boston Public Market is located a few minutes-walk away from the North End and is open seven days a week. This indoor year-round marketplace offers fresh local foods produced in Massachusetts and New England. On Fridays and Saturdays from dusk to dawn, you can also visit historic Haymarket located nearby, on Blackstone, Hanover, and North Streets. Merchants gathered at the location of current Haymarket from around 1830-s. The produce is usually several times cheaper than in supermarkets, especially if you come by the end of the day.

2pm

One simply cannot spend 48 hours in Boston and not visit Brattle Book Shop, one of my favorite places in the city. Housed in a three-story building, Brattle is one of the largest used book shops in the country with 250 000 books in stock. Two floors feature general used books, while the third floor is dedicated to antiquarian books and first editions. My favorite space in Brattle, though, is the open lot outside with books for sale. Located in between two red brick walls, the lot houses carts with books that cost as low as one dollar.

3pm

If you’re staying at the Four Seasons you’ll probably just want to soak up all the goodness for a little while. Have a little rest in the most comfortable bed you’ll ever lay on, and check out the ah-mazing pool (don’t miss the sauna) and take in the views of the Boston Public Garden.

4:30

Once you’re feeling well and truly refreshed, venture out to the beautiful Boston Public Gardens and have a little walk around. Once you’ve got your greenery fix, check out Newbury Street for some seriously good shopping, or go the other way into the Boston Common—another park that makes up part of Boston’s famous Emerald necklace—a ‘chain’ of parks that resembles a necklace hanging from the Boston Peninsula.

****If you are a fan of the TV-show Cheers, the famous Cheers bar is located just outside of Boston Public Garden. Stop there for a beer on the way to Beacon Hill. 

5:30

North of Boston Public Garden is located one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in Boston – Beacon Hill. With its narrow streets, brick sidewalks, historic homes with intricate iron work, and brass door knobs, Beacon Hill is one of those places where you wander around imagining what your life would be like if you had a couple million dollars laying around.

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6:30pm

It’s going to be an awesome dinner tonight, but that’s because you’re about to go and get your sport on, but more about that soon. For now, get yourself a table at Antico Forno and take in all of the authentic Italian vibes.

Everything at Antico Forno is seriously delicious so go hungry and then share as much as you can fit in. If you’re a wine drinker, you’ll want to take a good hard look at the wine list because it is top notch and there are a few knock out reds on the list you’ll definitely want to try.

7pm

If you’re lucky enough to be in Boston while the basketball is on, you have to get tickets to a Celtics game. Even if you’re not into sports, I promise you’ll have fun, just take a seat and start cheering! The ice hockey is also pretty great to watch

10pm

If you have any energy left in you, it’s time to say goodbye to beer in plastic cups and hello to some of the best cocktails in Boston. Jump in a cab and head to Drink in Fort Point. Drink is a little different than your average cocktail bar in that they have no menus, just bartenders who know their shizz. All you need to do is tell them what you feel like drinking and they’ll making something 18 times better than what you felt like. 


Day 2

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Hopefully your head isn’t too sore after last night because there’s lots to see today!

9am

Start your second day in Boston at South End Buttery, a café located in the South End neighborhood of Boston. Their menu features a wide selection of breakfast items from muffins and croissants, to sandwiches and burritos, to oatmeal and yogurt parfaits.

South End Buttery is also one of the filming locations for Academy Award winning movie Spotlight. In the movie, the Boston Globe journalist Sasha Pfeiffer (played by Rachel McAdams) interviews one of the victims in the case she is investigating at South End Buttery.

10.00 am

The neighborhood of South End was designed from scratch by Charles Bulfinch, the architect who also designed Massachusetts State House and the Boston Common. Despite the name, the neighborhood is not located directly to the south of downtown Boston and should not be confused with South Boston (also known as “Southie”).

11am

Head to Harpoon Brewing for lunch. If you’re mad on beer, you should do the public tour which starts at 1pm. This includes about 15 minutes where you can taste as many beers as you can manage, and even if you’re not mad about beer, there are plenty of options you’ll want to try, just ask them about the combo that tastes like apple pie!

12pm-2pm

Start making your way to Cambridge to soak up all of the college vibes at Harvard University. Cambridge is an easy train ride away and when you step into the streets you’ll feel like you’re in a completely different city. Meet your Harvard Tour guide on the edge of the campus and then let them take control. With a seriously beautiful campus, some pretty fascinating history and a couple of bizarre Harvard traditions to learn about, you’ll most likely finish the tour wishing you were a student again.

3pm-4:30

Now you hit up all the sites, It’s time for some shopping.When it comes to shopping in Boston, Back Bay’s Newbury Street is the trendiest destination. Rain or shine, its sidewalks are filled with throngs of shoppers from all over the world. Though this stretch may be the most popular, Boston has plenty of other great places to shop.

A few streets away from Newbury, and only 2 miles from the Boxer, Copley Place is a high-end mall with a wide range of designer brands. Whether you’re shopping for clothes, accessories, or jewelry, it has everything from Burberry to Salvatore Ferragamo to Tiffany & Co. For a delicious dinner after a day of shopping, head over to Fogo de Chao, a brazilian BBQ restaurant where a variety of meats are served endlessly until you eat you full and give up.

Or try Downtown Crossing, located at the intersection of Washington, Winter, and Summer streets, is one of Boston’s most bustling shopping districts. Part of its allure is the fact that a stretch of Washington and Winter streets are only accessible to pedestrians, allowing a relaxing shopping experience. The area specializes in department stores like Macy’s, Primark, Marshall’s, and H&M.

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5pm

Depends on where you go shopping, and if you stay in Cambridge, go to the Little Donkey. This will undoubtedly be one of the best meals you eat on your US trip. The cocktails here are ridic—don’t miss ‘the one in a grapefruit’ which literally comes in a grapefruit—and the wine list is solid.

Little Donkey has an amazing raw bar with some of the best ceviche we’ve ever eaten, so you absolutely need to try some of those. We let our waiter bring out whatever they thought was best and were not disappointed.

8PM

If you’re into jazz, you’re going to be in your element tonight. Scullers Jazz Club is probably the most well-known jazz club in Boston—it’s been around for close to 30 years after all—and they host some of the best talent going around. Take a look at the calendar and find a show you like the look of. If they don’t happen to have any shows on while you’re in town, check out Beat Brasseries which is in Harvard Square (these guys also do jazz brunches on the weekends) or the Beehive which has live music every night of the week.


Day 3

9AM

Start your day right at The Friendly Toast in Back Bay for breakfast. The menu is as long as your arm which isn’t surprising considering there is a whole section dedicated to benedicts, another section dedicated to pancakes and plenty of other goodies. The Friendly Toast does a dang good boozy brunch—mimosa flight anyone?—so why not have a drink… you’re on holiday after all.

If you’re not too hungry and just want coffee, stop by The Thinking Cup for a seriously good cup of joe.

11AM

Finish up that last mimosa and head to the Skywalk Observatory for the very best view of Boston. Grab a set of headphones and learn about Boston and its history as you check out the views.

12PM

If you’ve got some spare time, check out the Museum of Fine Arts—you could honestly spend an entire day walking around this gorgeous museum.

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Featured

My Favorite Movies from Every Year I’ve Been Alive

Here is my top movie from every year I’ve been alive (1988-Current). I’ve been alive for some pretty awesome movies! How many have you seen? (holy shit this was hard)

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1988

Die Hard

1989

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation

1990

GoodFellas

1991

New Jack City

1992

Aladdin

1993

Jurassic Park

1994

Speed

1995

Bad Boys

1996

Twister

1997

Scream 2

1998

Can't Hardly Wait

1999

The Mummy

2000

Bring It On

2001

Training Day

2002

My Big Fat Greek Wedding

2003

Elf

2004

The Day After Tomorrow

2005

Mr. & Mrs. Smith

2006

The Devil Wears Prada

2007

American Gangster

2008

The Dark Knight

2009

Avatar

2010

The Town

2011

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

2012

The Avengers

2013

The Heat

2014

Whiplash

2015

Southpaw

2016

Sausage Party

2017

It

2018

Black Panther

2019

Well It’s only March and I’ve ony seen 1 movie so far this year. I will come back in December to tell you my favorite movie of the year. 

This list was really really hard. 

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Featured

10 Easy Things You Can Do for a Mental Recharge

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We all have one those days — the ones that feel never-ending, like everything that could possibly go wrong has, and that leave us wondering how on earth we’re supposed to get up and do it all again tomorrow.

When that happens, sometimes a good night’s sleep is enough to recharge us enough to conquer the next day — but sometimes not and a little more TLC is required.

Doing certain things can help you unwind and give yourself the recharge you need to get back on track. No matter what your situation, these are things — both big and small — that you can do when you’re in the market for a much-deserved mental recharge.


Read a book you enjoy

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I always have a book with me at all times. Make a habit of keeping a book on hand that you can step back and read a chapter of whenever you’re feeling overwhelmed. It will allow you to escape from reality for a few minutes, and can give those of us who work on our computers all day a break from the constant screen time. By book I mean a paperback or hard cover book, not kindle. 


Allow yourself to do something fun

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If you’re a workaholic who has a hard time letting yourself take a break and say yes to plans, set aside a time that you do something non-work-related, exclusively to have fun. Whether it be getting drinks with friends or having a staycation for the weekend in your town, take the time to log out of your work accounts and step away from stress. this really helps. I live blocks from the beach and In the summer, its awesome to go and get away


Get a journal

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We often preach the wonders of journaling, and for good reason. Taking even five minutes to be alone and write down some of your thoughts — no matter what they are — before bed (instead of scrolling through your phone) can help you feel at ease and sleep more soundly. I started doing this a few years ago. There where a few tragic moments in the last 5 years that writing it down helped me. 


Set a time that you take a break during your work day

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No human being on this earth can work for eight hours straight without taking a step back to get their head on straight. In our office, we’re all about 2pm walks to get coffee — some fresh air in the middle of the day always gets us ready to conquer the rest of our afternoon. Whether you work in an office or from your home, set a time that you’ll hold yourself to for taking a break every day.


Give yourself a week of easy nights

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It’s always borderline impossible to resist after-work drinks with your coworkers, but giving yourself a week of obligation-free nights can leave you feeling your fullest. After work every night, make yourself dinner, watch an episode of your favorite show, and get to bed early. Getting the additional rest is enough to make you feel like a new person on its own. This is hard in my household, I don’t have kids yet but we have so many visiters and people coming and going its hard to have time to yourself. 


Drink a cup of coffee or tea

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Don’t gulp it down on your morning commute like you usually do — make your favorite coffee or tea, and sit and give yourself some time to scroll through Instagram or Pinterest guilt-free.


Give yourself a spa night

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We know a face mask won’t cure all our problems like we hope they will, but that doesn’t mean they won’t help us feel a little better. Turn off your phone, fill up a bubble bath, light some candles, and sit in peace for a while. Taking a full break from your phone while doing something just for you can give your batteries some much-needed juice. I’ll leave this one because I cant sit still enough to go to the spa, but I might give it a try one of these days.


Follow the two-minute rule

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The two-minute rule states that if a task is going to take less than two minutes, to do it straight away — whether it be responding to an email or calling to refill a prescription. This way, the small tasks you’re procrastinating won’t weigh on you throughout the day, and you can focus all of your time and energy on the big things you need to tackle.


Take a yoga class

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I’ve only recently hopped on the yoga bandwagon (Why do I need to go sit, breathe, and stretch for an hour? Who has the time?), but going to an actual class where you’re held captive and required to do those things is vital to those of us who are used to going 100 mph every second of our lives. Being in a dark room and having no distractions does wonders for your mind. Shutting off and allowing your mind to escape to a stress-free place leaves you feeling more serene and at ease than you can imagine — it’s like hitting a restart button on your brain. Although you don’t have to go to a class, you can do it in your house or apartment. I did this before I went to a class, so I didn’t look like a newbie. I still did though


Go for a walk or run outside

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This is a tough option when it’s minus 30 degrees outside, but even a quick walk around the block with your dog to get some fresh air can help clear your head. If you live near a walking or hiking trail, more power to you — spending some time on a walk or run outside is a totally different feeling than going on one on a stuffy gym treadmill. In whatever capacity you can, get outside.

Featured

Top Super Hero Movies

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I love Superhero movies. I just seen Captian Marvel in the theaters 2 hours ago and It is fresh in my mind. There are 21 films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The MCU is the shared universe put out by Marvel Studios based on the #Marvel comic books. It started with Iron Man (2008) and the next film will be Avengers Endgame!

In honor of Captain Marvel and Stan Lee, I decided to list my top 10 MCU movies. 

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Black Panther

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Black Panther is definitely a great movie and a must watch for superhero fans as well as marvel fans. I don’t understand all the negative reviews, its obvious some are just DC fans hating on the movie and some people are just nitpicking very small things, but of course the movie does have flaws. I am a big Marvel fan and a very big fan of the MCU, when I go to see movies in theaters I normally have high expectations as many people do, with Black Panther I did as well. What makes a movie good is different between every single person though i have very high expectations as long as the movie has a good plot, great fight scenes and characters I will be impressed whether i have high expectations or not.

Black Panther had a good plot, it does not bore you and keeps you interested but it isn’t unique it can be predictable and a bit cliche but throughout the movie i was very interested and wanted to carry on watching . The whole idea of “Wakanda” is great and is different from normal superhero movies.


Captain America The Winter Soldier

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Went into the movie not expecting much as I felt that the first Captain America was one of the weaker movies in Phase one of the Avengers. However, this movie was one of the best of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

First off, the action and fight scenes in the movie are just awesome and there is plenty of action to keep you entertained throughout the entire movie. There is also enough humour to balance all this. The characters all had their own amazing moments and the acting is decent as well. You get to see more of Nick Fury, and he was awesome in this. Black Widow is used much more in this movie and as well as being badass, she brings out more of the Captain’s story. Sam Wilson (the Falcon) is great and is involved in some great action scenes. The villains in this movie were awesome as well.

Quite enjoyed the story as well. There were a few twists; some unexpected, some expected. And the reveal of the unexpected twists in the final third were epic. The story is not just about Captain America and the Winter Soldier, there are darker forces at play and causes the Captain to ask dangerous questions.

This movie is very entertaining, the story is decent, the ending is awesome and satisfying and I would recommend watching this. Makes for a decent political thriller as well. This will easily be one of my favourite movies.


Captain America Civil War

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Captain America: Civil War is without a doubt the best of the Captain America trilogy. Steve Rogers’s arc in the MCU comes to a major head in this film, making him doubt his role in society more than ever. Add that to a fierce showdown between former allies, a great villain, some entertaining new characters, and you’ve got yourself a winner. The Russo brothers should be proud, since they take the reins for Infinity War.

After mass casualties in The Avengers, The Winter Soldier, Age of Ultron and during the opening fight scene, there are calls to hold the Avengers accountable for collateral damage; this leads to the passing of the Sokovia Accords, which keeps the Avengers from acting unless otherwise ordered by the government. Each of the members of the team are divided on this issue, none more so than Tony Stark and Steve Rogers. This issue becomes even more troublesome when Bucky Barnes is framed for murder, and Rogers needs to prove Bucky’s innocence while risking all-out war within the Avengers.

One of the things that make this movie so great is how it makes the main conflict so believable. It falls back on several MCU movies building up the body counts and developing these characters so that when we see them make their decisions on the side they take, we believe those choices and understand why they make them.

Civil War you get a 9/10.


Dr. Strange

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Acting (10/10): This cast is amazing! They embody their characters instead of trying to act like the character. Benedict as Dr. Strange was a portrayal right out of the comics! Tilda as the ancient one killed it!

Action (10/10): Wow! I could argue the action in this movie being on par with the scenes in civil war. It was so incredible watching this scenes with million pieces moving yet focus sing on the main characters. Wide angles, long shots and great choreography. what else do you want?

Story(8/10) : This movie had a solid story and you believed what, how and why things were going on! Villain was good and actually a memorable one for once(stab, you’re welcome dc fans). It was not flawless though. The pace kind of slows down before the final act which was unnecessary!

Cinematography/VFX 10/10: The images in this film blew my mind! There is a scene in the beginning where the ancient one shows Dr strange “the magic” and it is great! Some serious mind-bending stuff combined with great visuals to let it manifest itself to the audience. Most artistic movie yet of marvel.

Overall, i’d give this movie an 8.5. Though this isn’t THE best marvel movie, it is truly one of best out there. After the disappointing Jason borne, jack reach er etc. we finally have a movie that lives up to the hype! GO Watch this movie in Max 3d if possible, because it is worth it for once!


Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

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My main criticism was that I don’t feel like you needed to have seen the previous movie to really get/enjoy this one. You would have missed out on the bonding of the team and the backstory of Nebula and Gamora, but overall you’d be fine.

Overall, though it was a great movie, it felt more like a side story in the many adventures of the Guardians of the Galaxy and less like an actual continuation of their main story. Why? Well, we did have that wonderful cameo of great actors who portrayed the original Guardians. We had our Stan Lee cameo. And, we had Peter Quill’s backstory explained. Other then that, I don’t yet see how any of this advanced the main plot of Thanos or of any big threat to the Galaxy.


Thor: Ragnarok

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This movie is one hell of a journey! The story is truly serious and great, the fun moments are tons! The cinematography of action scenes is just unrealistic good. Hela is one of the best MCU villain so far! Cate Blanchett just killing in it in this role. She looks sexy, furious and also got her arc in the movie, which is big step, thinking about previous Thor movies. Hulk got so many epic moments, that I just can’t count. Valkyrie fits perfectly in the ne “Revengers” team such a good actress. Loki is fan favourite again! Every moment with Tom Hiddleston on screen is awesome.

The movie it’s so colourful and extraordinary, so you can watch it again and again and again! The score of the movie, the intense scenes, I mean I really love this movie. Is the best one among all of the three Thor movies. Firstly because it feels like whole new story telling, and secondly it’s also one of the best MCU movies.

Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe gives us truly great movies, and like a die hard MARVEL fan I appreciate that.

I will not reveal the plot or some big details of the movie, I want you to enjoy yourself first, but you’ll not be disappointed at all! Hela is epic, Odin got his role in Ragnarok and there are some HUGE details that’ll lead to Infinity War and you’ll lose your mind when you see them.


Marvel’s The Avengers

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The Avengers changed the game forever. Four years of Marvel Cinematic Universe movies centered around the individual Avengers members made us care about the characters before bringing them all together for the first time. Add that to a great villain, a smart script, and plenty of action scenes, and you’ve got yourself a movie for the ages.

In this movie, Loki plots to invade the Earth using the power of the Tesseract and an army called the Chitauri, and Nick Fury must bring together a group of remarkable people to see if they can become something more, so when we need them, they can fight the battles that we never could.

As an MCU film, this movie is filled to the brim with seeds planted throughout each of the prior five solo films. Captain America’s Tesseract, Thor’s villain, Iron Man’s tech, and Hulk’s “issues,” and they all come together in one pretty package.

This movie has a fairly straightforward “save the planet” plot, but Whedon manages to make it work using the characters and their relationships with one another. There are several interesting pairings in this movie: Black Widow and Hawkeye, Iron Man and Bruce Banner, and the brotherly relationship between Thor and Loki is explored a little more as well. Of course, a team like this has several strong personalities, and they often come to blows at several points; namely, Tony and Steve have some pretty fundamental disagreements on dealing with the enemy. This won’t be the last time they quarrel like this, but I’ll leave that for you viewers to watch for yourself. 😉

The action scenes are a lot of fun. It’s a blast watching the various team members work together and kill aliens and save civilians. There’s even ample room for comedy at several points, two of which involve the Hulk that’s sure to make you laugh and want to see again. And all the CGI is flawless, colors pop, and the shots of space are great to see.

Of course, like all MCU films, this movie plants the seeds for future adventures with our heroes. For one thing, it sets up the next Thor movie, featuring both Asgardians. It also sets up a major arc for Tony Stark that ends up carrying over into the next several years. And it plants seeds of distrust of the government in Steve, crucial to understanding his actions in later Captain America films. And there’s also the hint of a bigger, even worse threat than Loki out there among the stars….

The Avengers: my favorite MCU Phase 1 movie, and a movie that I’ll be coming back to for a long time. Very highly recommended.


Avengers: Infinity War

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This movie has made me feel things that I haven’t about a movie in a very long time. If you are anything like me you will definitely feel a sense of “everything is gonna be alright” because of the generous sprinkling of light humour that makes the situation feel less serious than it actually is. The emotional roller coaster that begins right at the beginning of the movie to the very end has you feeling more and more frustrated and on edge as it goes on. Don’t get me wrong this movie is absolutely stunning and amazing and a cliffhanger at the end has you wanting more and more. I’m definitely very excited to see how this storyline will carry out in the next Avengers movie.


Captain Marvel

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The movie was fun. Though it’s far from being the best MCU movie. Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel had been promoted as the most powerfull super hero, and indeed the movie reveals her to be very powerfull. The supporting cast especially Sam Jackson’s Nick Fury has done a great job. The visuals were great, humor was well placed, and twists were good too. Overall its was an entertaining and fun movie. One issue which I found with the movie was that the character of Captain Marvel didn’t get a challenging opponent through which she could grow.

I really hope that Marvel doesn’t endup making the same mistake DC did in Justice League, where our superheroes struggled hard to beat the villain without much success until Superman showed up and with ease, defeated the bad guys.

Though Captain Marvel is extremely powerful, she should act as a surplus for the surviving heroes in their battle against Thanos, and not the star of the show who just comes and takes down the mighty Thanos just to earn the title of being most powerfull. It should not become her movie, she can be the a very powerful supporting character, but not the key to defeat Thanos. My rating for Captain Marvel is 3.5 it of 5 stars. And for me, the show stealer is Goose The Cat!


Ant-Man

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For a few brief moments, the unstoppable juggernaut that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) looked like it was about to grind to a halt with Ant-Man.

As with all the other films and television shows in Marvel’s burgeoning media empire, the cast of Ant-Man is pitch-perfect. Rudd puts his goofy and amiably sexy charisma to excellent use as Scott, allowing us to believe that this one man can be as silly as he is strong, and as serious as he is funny. Lilly gets the big-screen role she richly deserves in Hope, who’s acknowledged at every point in the film as being better, stronger, and more capable than the men around her think she is. Douglas plays a far more palatable version of Dr. Pym and does so with his trademark charm and magnetism.

Ant-Man may not edge out the other films that make up Phase Two of the MCU in a straw poll – it does, after all, face some pretty serious competition in what has been an unbroken run of truly excellent superhero films. But it’s an incredibly solid effort: smart, rich, deep and funny, teeming with ideas, genres and the potential for so much more. Now if that doesn’t make for a great superhero movie, what does?


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Featured

Salted brown butter krispies

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Here’s the truth: the classic recipe that’s been printed on the Rice Krispies box since 1940 is already a genius dessert. It’s ready in 10 minutes without heating the oven, using three ingredients you can find anywhere: cereal, marshmallows, butter. In fact, it’s so ubiquitous that we tend to thumb past it in our mental recipe files in favor of newer, flashier prospects. But here’s another truth: most people will walk past all sorts of fancy cookies and tarts to get to the stack of crispy treats before the rest of us make off with them.

I discovered this recipe thanks to my aunt. I went on vacation with aunt this past holiday season and she brought these for dessert.  As soon as I took a bite I knew she had done something different with the recipe. Sure enough these were a hit. 


Recipe: Salted Brown Butter Crispy Treats
Makes 16 treats

You’ll need:

1/2 cup unsalted butter, plus more for the pan
1 10 oz. bag marshmallows
6 cups Rice Krispies cereal
1⁄4 teaspoon coarse sea salt

Instructions

butter an 8-by-8-by-2-inch cake pan. If you want to make it extra easy to pop out the treats, line the pan with parchment paper, leaving a 1-inch overhang on two opposite sides for easier lifting when the bars are done.

Melt the butter in a large pot over medium-low heat, stirring frequently with a silicone spatula, until it browns. The butter will melt, then foam, then turn clear golden with brown bits and start to smell nutty. Be patient and don’t wander away—the bits will go from brown to black quickly, and you don’t want black.

Turn off the heat as soon as the bits in the butter are a deep nut brown color. Immediately add the marshmallows and stir until smooth. The residual heat from the pot should be enough to fully melt the marshmallows, but if not, return the heat to low and cook until the marshmallows are completely smooth.

Remove the pot from the heat and pour in the cereal and salt. Stir well to make a big sticky mass, then quickly scrape the mixture into the prepared pan. Flatten the gooey mix evenly with a spatula or buttered waxed or parchment paper, pressing into the edges and corners.

Let cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes, and cut into squares to serve. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Tips

1- Use a fresh bag of marshmallows, stale old ones will make the bars tough and chewy.

2-It’s important that you don’t overcook the marshmallow butter mixture. If the heat is too high it will start to caramelize the sugar in the marshmallows with which also make the bars tough.

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Featured

Stereotypes About Americans

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Ohhhhh Beautiful…..I don’t know the rest of the words. I love America, besides this is the only country I know. First let me admit America is not the most perfect country in the world (then again we are not the worst either). As a country we are very judgemental, don’t get me wrong. I love watching videos where people from other countries were interviewed about what they think about Americans, America, and what they think American stereotypes are. I’m going to keep it real, I sometimes get mad when I watch those videos. I know they are supposed to be lighthearted but it gets under my skin for some reason. 

It was so interesting to see what people would actually say. We noticed after watching the videos featuring people from several different countries that a lot of people said the same things, but that they also see Americans in relation to their own culture and character traits.

I thought it would be fun tell you some of the stereotypes that came up multiple times by people from several different countries, and respond to the stereotypes, and also see what any of my international readers have to say! American or not, I’d love to hear your thoughts about this topic and some of these specific stereotypes.

I will post the 20 (yes 20) common ones that I seen online and heard. 


All of us are fat or obese

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This is so not true, we are very mixed overall. Some of us are natural super small, a little chubby, or built with a lot of muscle that is not entirly toned. If there’s anywhere to start, it’s right here. Our expanding waistlines have been the subject of global ridicule for decades


Americans are rude.

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This stereotype has likely stemmed from open-mouth laughing or public nose blowing, the product of culturally unaware American travelers. But while these actions seem ‘rude’ to foreigners, Americans are in fact quite polite.We are more likely to smile at, help, or acknowledge a stranger; they don’t wait for introductions and will happily chat with someone in the elevator.


Americans are loud and obnoxious.

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I’m not going to lie, I find this one funny. I agree with this…we are loud. When I go out with my family and fiends, we are loud. Americans are accustomed to this stereotype, a longstanding one of which many are reluctant to let go. This is partly due to the majority of young American students backpacking or studying abroad who have helped to perpetuate the reputation , But when it comes to day-to-day conversations, Americans aren’t a particularly loud group of people.


Americans don’t like to travel.

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Americans have a reputation for being lousy travelers, and the stereotype of the “ugly American” who loudly roam the streets of Europe looking for McDonalds are widely believed. Most Americans I know do love to travel, just domestically, since for most of us going on trips abroad cost a lot of money and take a lot of time. It’s far easier for, say, a Belgian to travel abroad than it would be for an American, simply because of geography. We are loud, though- I’ll admit that.


American food is lousy.

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I encountered many people abroad who erroneously assumed that ubiquitous fast food restaurants like KFC and Burger King accurately represented American food. I’d shake my head, tragically, thinking of how foreigners are missing out on things like BBQ in Texas, North Carolina, and Kansas City; “Mexican” food from California to Texas, lobster and clam chowder in New England, salmon in Alaska, deep dish pizza in Chicago, and on and on and on. San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago are world-class restaurant cities with an almost unimaginable range of ethnic cuisine, some of which is the best in the world outside their home countries. I’m not saying American food is better than the food anywhere else, but if you’re not eating well in the United States it’s your own damn fault 🙂 It’s not all corn dogs and funnel cakes…but I do love a corn dog


Americans are dumb.

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This one hit me a little hard. Many people said they don’t think Americans are smart or intelligent. That we are dumb and stupid. It just makes me sad that this is what foreigners think the majority of Americans are like. Yes, we have people that aren’t smart, people that are naive, people that don’t think much beyond their town, state, country (as I’m sure every country has people like this) — but instead of foreigners associating Americans with all of the super smart people we have, their immediate reaction was that we are stupid.


Americans are all patriotic

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I would say this is true. I mean I have an american flag haning in my room. Americans have a reputation for being overly patriotic. Many first-time visitors to the US are surprised by the preponderance of American flags waving from our schools, offices, and homes, and it’s pretty common to hear Americans proclaim their country the greatest on Earth.


Freedom

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It was funny but people just said the word freedom. I thought it was great that they associate us with freedom. Goes back to the patriotic thing.


Americans are ignorant about the world

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I guess I can see how other people might think this. I think a lot of Americans just don’t really care to think outside of their own lives. We only border two countries unlike Europe. If your job or business has nothing to do with the global economy or learning about it isn’t a hobby I can see how some people wouldn’t know or care too much about it.

It’s an unfortunate reality that many Americans who travel lack knowledge of the culture and customs of the country they are visiting, and worse yet, sometimes they don’t seem to care enough to learn.

Americans can combat this stereotype by engaging with people from other cultures abroad and making an effort to see things from their perspective.


Americans love sports

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Well this is definitely true! Us Americans LOVE sports


Americans all carry guns

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This is probably the single most popular myth. Well, we don’t. Some of us have no interest in owning a gun, much less carrying one around. Some states forbid people from carrying a gun except for very under specific circumstances and for specific jobs.


Americans can only speak English

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The United States is notoriously monolingual, perhaps more than any other country in the world.

This reality might not hold up to scrutiny: An increasing number of Americans, especially young ones, are able to communicate in a language other than English.

Travelers can’t be expected to become fluent in the local language of every country they travel to, but learning a few key phrases can go a long way toward building relationships with people you meet and earning their trust.


Americans drive everywhere, creating massive pollution

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Ok, creating lots of pollution part is true entirely, I’ll give you that. Bur driving everywhere? Wrong, for the most part. People who live in crowded cities or live in a town center may not have to drive to get groceries or their workplace. But a lot of us Americans due have to drive, as living in big cities like Long Beach or NYC is incredibly expensive, as much as everyone fantasizes (myself included) about living there. Where I live, driving everywhere is a must, as everything is a five minute or longer drive, while walking this could take or hour or two


Everything in America is big. Tall buildings, tall people.

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This was just funny. I think for countries in Europe it has to do with space and our cities being newer. We don’t have a lot of super old small buildings and cobblestone streets everywhere. We have giant strip malls and Costco and parking lots and highways and SUVs.

And Americans do tend to be on the tall side. I wonder if this has to do with milk and other hormones in our food?


All Americans are rich

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One of the most common misconceptions I encountered abroad is that all Americans are wealthy — and everyone has multiple cars and a big house.

That misconception comes in part from America’s powerful global economic standing, I learned. But as plenty of Americans know, not all of that wealth makes its way into the hands of every citizen, and there are millions of Americans living in poverty.


Americans are lazy

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This kind of generalization could be applied to any nation. There are lazy Americans and then there are some serious hardworking Americans.


Americans are ENTITLED

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The perception that people from America feel a sense of entitlement likely comes from the interactions that the rest of the world has with them while they are visiting as tourists.

Many people feel that USA folk feel the rest of the world should conform to them when they are visiting their countries, but this is likely anecdotal.

For the most part, they tend to be very open to other cultures when traveling and do their best to follow the customs and languages of others, even if they initially go in unaware of much of it.


EVERYONE FROM AMERICA IS MATERIALISTIC

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I do love to shop. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that a lot of the world looks at the US and sees a country that is obsessed with material possessions. That perception likely stems from the wealth that is seen in America and the relatively nice lifestyle that the average person in the country is afforded.

But a decent lifestyle by the average citizen in the US does not necessarily equate to a materialistic approach in life. Although it is true that there are those who are in fact materialistic, it is also true that this mindset exists everywhere in the world as well.


Americans are CAREER OBSESSED

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This one goes back to the mostly true stereotype previously listed regarding USA folk being a hardworking people. With that mindset, it likely means that work is seen as a very important facet of life in the US which is mostly true.

But there is a fine line between being focused on getting ahead in work and being obsessed with one’s career. The former is more true in the US while the latter only pertains to a select group, much like with any other country in the world.


Americans don’t understand soccer

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For some, this is the worst American stereotype of them all. Somehow, despite soccer being the most popular sport in almost every country and having an estimated 4 billion fans worldwide, Americans have largely resisted its charm.

Despite soccer’s slowly growing popularity in the US, the general lack of interest in the sport in America came as a shock to many non-Americans I encountered while traveling.

 

Featured

48 hours in Amsterdam

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So, you’re going to Europe and you’ve got 2 days in Amsterdam and not a clue how to spend them. Well my good friend, you have come to the right place! I’m here to help and guide you through 48 hours in Am-Dam .While Amsterdam is the capital and largest city – over one million inhabitants – of the Netherlands, it is not that big of a city compared to other capitals in the world. The city is located in the northwest of the country, in the province of Noord-Holland

The best time to visit Amsterdam is between April and May or September and November – right before or directly after the summertime high tourist season


Day 1

OK so you have just arrived in Amsterdam. First thing first, you need to check in at one of the many hotels and cute BnBs. One place to stay is Hampton By Hilton Amsterdam Arena Boulevard. 

One of the best things about Amsterdam is that its city center is small and very walkable. After you have had time to rest, Start your day off with a Dutch staple: pancakes. I’d never heard of Dutch pancakes,these are wide but thin, and come topped with both savory and sweet ingredients of your choice. American pancakes, on the other hand, are thicker and fluffier with ingredients mixed in. You’ll find pancakes, or “pannekoeken” on practically every corner in Amsterdam’s city center, but the most popular spot to indulge is The Pancake Bakery.

After breakfast , it’s best to work off breakfast on a bike – the best way to see Amsterdam like a local. Hire a bicycle in the square or pre-book a guided ride such as Cycle Amsterdam 

The next thing to do is visit the Anne Frank House. I know rather grim, but this is best done in the morning to avoid the crazy lines particularly in peak season. I would even recommend purchasing tickets online.

You can’t go to Amsterdam and not take that iconic photo with the “I Amsterdam” letters. My best tip? Head there early. Once the crowds start it is nearly impossible to score a good spot with everyone flooding the photo. 

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Make sure you visit The Jordaan, Amsterdam’s most famous neighborhood known for its beautiful canal houses, art galleries, and shops. 

Side Note…Coffeeshops – note that it’s one word, how they differentiate themselves from actual coffee shops – sell marijuana.

You have had a very busy morning…It’s time to recharge over a koffie verkeerd (milky coffee) with a slice of appelgebak (apple pie). Next it’s time for a canal tour where you’ll explore Amsterdam from the water. There are many tour operators to choose from.  A number of canal tour companies depart from the area across from Amsterdam Centraal Station.

Now its time to go back to your hotel to rest and freshen up to get ready to head to the Red Light District. No not the Ludacris album but the famous Amsterdam Red Light District.  You saw it coming, right? I’m still astounded how this street is still in business but nevertheless, it is still so fascinating to see. You have everything from sex museums to live sex shows, so take your pick while you are there. Once you’ve had your fill, there are plenty of bars to enjoy the rest of your night at. And of course, once you’re done, you simply must try Patatje Oorlog from any “snackbar”. The most delicious fries you’ll ever taste.

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Day 2

I hope you have recovered from your night in the Red Light District or didn’t end up in jail.  After more dutch pancakes, Visit one of the city’s most popular museums, like the Amsterdam Tulip Museum, Amsterdam Cheese Museum,The Van Gogh Museum, The Rijksmuseum and how can I forget The Sex Museum. 

For lunch, grab some food, a bottle of wine, and head down to one of the many spacious parks like Vondelpark, Oosterpark, Westerpark, Sarphatipark or Amsterdamse Bos. Its the best thing to do especially after a long morning at the museums. 

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After a morning devoted to high culture, relax with a beer at The Heineken Experience. This brewery-turned-interactive museum still has original 19th-century machinery and old photographs, so even if its interactive elements get mixed reviews for being too touristy. Since you’re in the Netherlands, you might want to try a traditional Dutch restaurant for dinner. 

If you still have energy, there are countless numbers of bars and clubs in Amsterdam that maybe you didn’t get to visit on the first night. Rembrandtplein is one of the busiest squares in the city, at least when it comes to nightlife and clubbing.

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Featured

CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER NO-BAKE ENERGY BITES

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These are sooooo good!!!! These easy no-bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Energy Bites are healthy snacks disguised as dessert. Make a batch today to enjoy all week! In under 10 minutes, you can have these chocolate no bake peanut butter balls ready to go. There are no dates or food processors involved so you can make these no bake energy balls in no time.

I’ve been called a ball queen (Don’t ask). It’s weird I know. 

  • 1 cup (dry) oatmeal 
  • 2/3 cup toasted unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup ground flaxseed
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1-2 tablespoon chia seeds 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

The recipe is quick and easy, requiring just 10 minutes and 5 ingredients. Stir all the ingredients together until combined, pop the mixture in the fridge for 15-20 minutes and then use a tablespoon cookie scoop to scoop out dough and roll between your palms to form balls.

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To form the balls I used half tablespoon measuring spoon, that gives me 1 inch energy bites. But you can make them smaller or larger.

 

Featured

Hotel vs Hostel vs Airbnb

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One of the most important choices a traveler can make when planning their trip is deciding where to stay. This decision is one that can make or break your trip, so consider it carefully.

I’ve always used hotels in the past. I’ve never used an Airbnb before but I would if I looked and if I found it cheaper and I will absolutley never use a hostel. When I think about hostels, I can’t help but think of the torture porn movie called “Hostel” (Look it up…the movie is gross). Now I know thats not fair to judge hostels based on that movie,I just can’t help it. I feel more comfortable in a hotel

I will list the pros and cons of all 3

And now, the great debate: hotel , Hostel or Airbnb?


AIRBNB

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The question of what to expect when staying at an AirBnB is a little more complex. An AirBnB is when someone rents out their apartment or home and lists it on the AirBnB website. Travelers can then search by specifications of price, size, location, and more. When you get to your room, the owner/renter will stay somewhere else so you have the place to yourself. I like watching AirBnB horror stories on Youtube. The stories are wild plus you hear about people staying at an AirBnB and robbing the place on the news. 

Pros:

  1. Cheaper than a hotel in most cases.
    If you’re looking into a medium-level accommodation (not a hostel and not a fabulous de-luxe suite) staying at Airbnb is cheaper in most cases. The price of a hotel room often includes breakfast but you can save even more money on lunches and dinners if you’re cooking at home. You can’t cook at a hotel.
  2. You get to experience the city as a local.
    You’re living in a normal apartment or a house, you get to greet neighbors, find out where the closest grocery store is, where to drop off the garbage and stuff like this. No matter how good the hotel is you can’t get that level of authenticity in a hotel.
  3. More options for unusual, weird, experimental, non-traditional places
    Yeah, there are plenty of non-traditional hotels as well, but their variety is not as huge as on Airbnb. On Airbnb you can try to live in a cabin, in a treehouse, in a plane, in a taxi cab in a middle of Manhattan, in a fairytale-style gingerbread house, you name it. Plus prices for unusual and design hotels are extremely high which you couldn’t say about Airbnb.
  4. It is more convenient for a medium-term stay.
    Some people could argue on that but let’s be honest – staying in a hotel for, let’s say, a month (or even two weeks) is awful.
  5. Airbnb could be an introvert’s dream
    With the rise of self-checkin and self-checkout options coming to more and more places on Airbnb it could become an introvert’s dream. For me it is. I don’t have to talk to anyone at a reception on arrival, same for leaving. And room service won’t bother me in the middle of the day.

Cons:

  1. Sometimes checking in and out can be a huge pain in the ass.
    If a host doesn’t support a self-check-in option it might be a pretty hectic experience. Especially if you’re arriving late at night. And you feel awful just asking your host to check you in late at night.
  2. Not convenient for a short-term stay.
    Especially if you’re visiting a city just for one day (sometimes two). This applies mostly to business travel. It’s just too much hassle checking in and out within one day.
  3. It’s illegal in some cities.
    With the unknown legal status of Airbnb in some cities and in some cases you’re being put into a tricky situation. What happens if neighbors, the police or anyone asks me who I am and what I am doing here? Should I say I’m visiting a friend or can I simply confirm I’m renting this place on Airbnb? This leads to a general feeling of trying to avoid tricky conversations with neighbors.

HOTELS

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Hostels are the go-to option for travelers and backpackers who plan to spend very little of their time in their room and most of their time exploring. They’re also a great way to meet other travelers. Unlike a hotel, hostels are more communal in nature and that includes sharing a room with strangers (though sometimes you can get a private room if you want to pay more).

Pros

  • Private rooms are just like hotels. No sharing bathrooms. No sharing (gasp!) bedrooms.
  • There are amenities like a hotel! Complimentary/cheap breakfast, shampoo, etc.
  • Everything is cheaper. Breakfast in the morning is either free or a couple euros.
  • Communal kitchens. Meaning you can cook and store food in the fridge. Really budget friendly!
  • Tons of young travelers and there are free or cheap outings. 
  • There are some CUTE AF hostels out there. 
  • HostelWorld.com exists, and people say it’s a lifesaver. SO MANY HOSTELS. SO MANY REVIEWS.
  • Great advice and transportation info from the young, hip people who work there. PLUS MAPS! Both hostels had custom-made maps with tons of info for young people.

Cons

  • Privacy. If you like your privacy, hostels may not be for you. Some do have private rooms, but most are dormitory style 
  • Noise. The hostel crowd generally skews younger, so be prepared for some noise. They’ll be loud in the common areas while they’re getting ready, and while you may get some sleep after they go out, you’ll probably wake up again when they stumble in during the early hours of the morning. Be prepared for this to happen several times throughout the night. And even if you don’t have partiers in your room – at least one person will snore.
  • Some hostels are mixed, meaning a 20-year old girl could be sleeping in the same room as a 45-year old man which can make for an uncomfortable stay.
  • Friends aren’t free. You gotta MAKE friends. And MAKE time to hangout with the other travelers. ALSO, the travelers that are there when you are there might suck. Put yourself out there!
  • Most hostels are converted from something else (an apartment complex or a big house), so some things don’t make sense.
  • You gotta book ahead of time, especially if you want a private room. You only put down a small deposit, and it’s refundable, so get it in!
  • Linen fees. Eye roll. Not everywhere has them, so just be carefull.

Hotel

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For the sake of simplicity, I’m grouping hotels with inns and bed and breakfasts. While they differ from each other, they share a common denominator of being more traditional places that allow you to be catered to by staff.

Pros:

  1. Perfect for a short-term stay (one or two days)
    Again, this applies mostly to business travelers visiting a city just for a day or two. Check-in is extremely fast and easy, get the keys, go to your room, sleep, go to a meeting, leave. All you need is a nice bed and bathroom, that’s it. You couldn’t really care more about its furniture, decorations or any other fancy stuff.
  2. 24/7 reception
    You can easily check-in at any time of day and don’t feel bad about yourself.
  3. Breakfast!
    Most hotels include breakfast in the room price and their food is pretty good most of the time. This is probably my favourite part of the hotel experience.
  4. Room service
    Everything is clean and shiny every time you come back to your room so you don’t have to think about it at all.

Cons:

  1. It is more expensive.
    If you’re comparing two similar options in terms of location, amenities, etc. hotels will be way more expensive than Airbnb.
  2. Lack of authentic feeling of a city
    Especially if you’re staying in a chain hotel. It’s like going to a new city and eating at McDonald’s. You know what to expect and it’s more or less the same anywhere you go. But you don’t get to experience the feel of real living apartments or houses in this new city.

So, having said that I prefer to stay in a hotel if I’m visiting a city just for a day or two (and mostly for business) and Airbnb if I’m staying for a longer period or if I’m just traveling and don’t have to focus on work most of the time.


Which one do you prefer. Let me know in the comments

Featured

Most Expensive Places to Travel

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From the Las Vegas strip to the beaches on Honolulu, here are the 11 most expensive holiday destinations on the planet. They are ranked by the average all-in price per person per night, alongside a breakdown of how you’ll spend your money in each place. I always set aside a budget of $2000-$3000 for every trip I make and plan. This includes everything: plane tickets, lodging, day-to-day activities, dining, transportation, and keepsakes, Even though I’ve never been overseas.


Zurich

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This city lies at the heart of Switzerland. No doubt it’s one of the most beautiful and serene places to visit, but it also happens to be pretty expensive. Simple things such as cup of coffee at a cafe can put a