Final Days of Group Travel

I spent my final days of group travel in Pompeii, Sorrento, Capri, and Rome. I know, no complaining here. At this point when you are traveling with a large group of students you start to see the friendships form; this my favorite. Kids from different groups are sitting with different kids at dinner or walking together. Italy is a good place to make friends.

After my final night in Rome I got up early to leave the group to meet my friends for non organized travel in Madrid. When I woke up the next morning and had to hail my own cab and deal with the cost I realized how much I was going to miss this “prepacked” group travel, but I was ready to eat whenever and whatever I wanted!



This holes were once used to serve food; basically McD’s.


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Our hotel in Sorrento, not too shabby.

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Amazing fish dinner on the water in Sorrento

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First steps in Capri

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Caprese in Capri


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Roman Forum


Spanish Steps


Vatican City

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Hanging with the Swiss Guards


Pantheon at night


Piazza Navona


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Traveling with a Pack


Venice started my group travel experience. Our group consisted of 47 students and adults; serious group travel. I know a few people cringe at the idea of traveling with this many people but let me tell you it does have its perks. You have your days planned out. You have a bus that takes you to each destination. Tickets are purchased for you. You get to cut the line. Sometimes thinking is nice. Am I convincing you yet? Maybe these photos will…


Bridge of Sighs


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Piazza San Marco


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The most amazing mussels and clams!


Oyster served with kiwi. I asked the server if they eat the kiwi with the oyster and they said no after and to just put pepper and lemon the oyster. Delicious!

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A campo with the pozzo(well).


Afternoon gondola ride.


In Venice we stayed at a hotel in Venezia which was right on the water and a 25 minute boat ride away from the Venice.

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We stopped in at the new Brew Dog in Firenze!


Il Duomo di Firenze

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Ponte Vecchio

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Seafood rice for lunch!



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Berlin für die Win


Berlin is awesome. It is full of culture and history and was my first stop in Europe. Actually Paris was but that was only a lay over. My route to Berlin was Denver to Minneapolis to Paris to Berlin. My flight out of Denver was delayed about two hours so it delayed all of my connecting flights. The airline rebooked me and I was scheduled to be taking a later flight out of Paris that would get me into Berlin only five hours later than planned, bummer but that is life. When I landed in Charles de Gaulle and tried to get my boarding pass the gate agent said my listing had been canceled and the airlines hadn’t rebooked me so now the flights were oversold and I could only get on the later flight that wouldn’t get me in till 9 pm. Not cool. I expressed my frustration since I had a ticket that showed I was confirmed on the earlier flight so I didn’t understand where the problem was. The gate agent was très agréable and tried to help me in any way. She couldn’t get me a ticket for the earlier flight but she was able to get me a 8 € meal voucher. Since I am familiar and comfortable with standby travel I asked if I could at least standby for the earlier flight since I would be here anyways. She said if I went up to customer service in the gate area they could help me. So I grabbed my bags and migrated that way. They let me on the list though they said the flight was full. I enjoyed a cappuccino and a cheese and butter baguette with my meal voucher (Thanks Delta) and then to my surprise got a seat on the earlier flight! Not just a seat but first class!

Tip of the post: DO be nice to gate agents you never know what they will give you. DO try to be standby. If you are going to wait around anyways you might as well see if you can get on. People miss connections all the time.

Now back to Berlin…


Checking out museum island.

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Things to Eat

I started my first night with beer and German food! We ate at Die Berliner Republick on the Berlin-Spandau Ship Canal right by our hostel. I had the curry wurst and my friend (Shanna) got the kohlrouladen which is a German cabbage roll. I loved the classic curry wurst but my friends cabbage roll took the cake. It has minced meat inside and that made the texture and consistency so light and tasted like biting into meat clouds. It also had a dark sauce on it that was rich like a red wine beef reduction that paired perfectly. I finished her plate.

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Things to See

Shanna and I were lucky enough that the Berlin Gay parade was happening during our visit so that was quite the event one day. We watched the parade then followed the festivities down into Tiergarten. Here we saw the Victory column and then walked through to the Brandenburg Gate. They had a huge screen put up for the Germany verus Ghana game. It started pouring and we ended up going home to get warmer clothes so we ended up watching the game at another outdoor area we found by the metro. That is the great thing about being in Europe during the world cup, you can find a ton of places to watch the game.

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To make sure we didn’t miss anything we decided to do a walking tour. We did a free one from Sandeman’s and this was my first free walking tour experience. It was awesome. I felt I learned so much and saw a lot too. The quality was great even though it was free so I highly suggest them from here on out. We tipped 10 € for the both of us; we saw a lot, learned a lot, but didn’t spend a lot.

Mauerpark Flohmarkt


Starting our waking tour!

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Holocaust Memorial

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Berlin Wall remains


Below is my favorite picture. That is the Detlev-Rohwedder-Haus in the background and during the division of East and West Germany it was the House of Ministries, which was basically East Berlin’s government building.

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Hanging with check point Charlie


Beblplatz Square – Dancing in front of the State Opera House


Liberal Memorial for the 20,000 books burned by the Nazis on May 10, 1933. There are enough shelves for the 20,000 books. There is a plaque next to the memorial that says “Das war ein Vorspiel nur, dort wo man Bücher verbrennt, verbrennt man am Ende auch Menschen,” from Meinrich Hein’s play Almansor which was written in 1821. Which translates to “Where they burn books, they will in the end also burn people.


Where to stay

We stayed at Bax Pax Hostel  in Mitte. It was a great location; close to the metro system (so easy and cheap to get to and from the airport; bus to undergroud) and easy to walk to places. We stayed in one of the 30 bed rooms. It wasn’t bad and it was an experience. When in Berlin might as well push yourself.



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Milan Per Un Giorno


I apologize for my lack of posts. Since I got back from Europe I have been catching up on summer activities, hanging with friends, and also catching up on sleep. With all of that meant no posts for a little over two weeks. It has been a nice little non-posting vaca but I am back and ready to share my time in Europe with you. My first post is what to do in Milan when you only have 24 hours.


1. Start with Coffee

If you are smart you will start you day off with free breakfast at your hotel/hostel but if you are like me and can’t seem to get out of bed instead head into the heart of Milan and get yourself an Italian coffee. I headed into tourist central and decided to have coffee in the Galleria next to the Duomo. Some might not suggest this but I found an infamous spot, Camparino, to sit at.  When you sit down and have your coffee you are removed from the hustle and bustle of all the tourist. I started my morning with lemon pie and a cappucino.  Perfetto!




2. Visit a Church

My next plan was to go into the Duomo but I quickly learned that it is not just shoulders you need to have covered but also your knees so I could not get in with my shorts. My advice for anyone visiting Italy and wanting to go into any Churches come prepared with a pashmina to either wrap around your shoulders or legs, depending on which one isn’t covered. Some churches will sell covers too.


3. Explore


A perfect way to see a city is by bike. If you want to bike around Milan you can rent one from BikeMI. You have to create an account online before. It is € 2.50 to create the account and then it gives you a user name and password. You go up to one of the bike stations (that are everywhere) and put your information into the kiosk then go get the bike that it tells you to. The first 30 minutes are free then € .50  per 30 minutes after that and you can only use it for two hours at a time. This is a great way to see the city but also scary because you are biking around not really knowing where you are going and you have to be careful of cars. I was trying to go see the Navigli District but no surprise I got lost. I finally just put my map away and biked around for a bit. Then I found someone nice enough to just show me where I was on my map so I could find my way back.


4. Public Transit

Use the subway system in Milan. So, so easy. I am serious if I can do it and I didn’t get lost once then anyone, including a four year old, could do it. Not sure if I was buying the correct ticket but it was € 1.50 a ride.

6. Find a Hidden Spot


For lunch I went to Panzerotti Luini and I highly suggest you do to. Italy is expensive, but this little lunch spot was cheap. It was great to watch the business men and women stop by for a quick lunch. They serve panzerotti’s that are sweet and savory; these are similar to calzones but much better. I almost feel like I am insulting it by comparing it. The dough is similar to an elephant ear dough; light and fluffy and a very simple dough flavor. Then you get the fresh tomatoes and the salty creamy mozzarella taste and voila you have magic. Be prepared for a line but it moved quick.


5. Don’t Miss Apertivo

This was my favorite discovery about Italy. Apertivo is basically happy hour but much better. Starting around 5 pm most bars/restaurants start apertivo hour. You order a cocktail like normal but you get a buffet with it for FREE! Seriously this is no joke. I couldn’t believe it was real. It was like I had died and gone to happy hour heaven. I ordered a negroni and it as € 9, yes expensive but I got dinner for free; cheese, olives, bruschetta, salad, rice, meats. I had happy hour at a bar in the Corso Como area. So so good and so so amazing.



6. Mushrooms


This is my final suggestion. If you love mushrooms go to Antica Trattoria Della Pesa and get the funghi porcini pasta. This was defineitly a fine dining situation (I spending about $50 by myself #sorrynotsorry) but it is worth it. This tagliatelle pasta was the most perfectly cooked homemade pasta I have ever tasted and the sauce though no cream was incredibly creamy. Perfect bites of mushrooms that still have a bite to them. I am becoming depressed just thinking about it knowing I don’t know when I will have it again…



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Midwest Tour


(The Wit rooftop bar where my cousins wedding was at.)

Last week I did a little midwest tour. I started in Chicago, then made my way to East Lansing, then headed to Grand Rapids, and ended the trip in good ole Lapeer Michigan. Here are pictures of some of the things I ate.

Chicago – The trip started in Chicago for my cousins wedding. The reception was held at The Wit. We ate a lovely brunch before though at a restaurant called Summer House.



East Lansing – We got to hang in my old college stomping grounds with my mom. If you are in East Lansing for an amount of time you should make your way to Grand River. This is the Main Street that runs outside of campus. On Grand River you will find a lovely spot called the Peanut Barrel. Here they have a killer olive burger. They way to get it: on rye bread, with lettuce tomato and onions, no cheese. You heard me correctly no cheese. This might be the only item in the world that I don’t request cheese on. I’m already starting to rethink my decision…washing it down with a Michigan beer like Oberon is the icing on the cake or shall I say olive sauce on the burger.

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Grand Rapids – I made my way over to the Downtown Market. It was so cute. The cheese counter, fish counter where you can order raw oysters at their tiny three seat bar, olive oil shop, flower shop, ice cream shop, juice bar, the list goes on and on. I had a green drink because at this point in my trip it was very much needed.

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Lapeer – Visiting my dads house is all about the breakfast and happy hours on the infamous deck. My dad switched things up on me this trip and served banana and raspberry waffles versus banana pancakes. Yum!

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(Sagebrush Cantina! One of our favorite Mexican restaurants)



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Food and Drinks in Santa Barbara

This past weekend I went to Santa Barbara for my friend Haley’s wedding. I met Haley studying abroad in Greece and her wedding was basically a reunion for a few of my Greece friends and myself. I was obviously so excited to go to the wedding, be in Santa Barbara, and see my friends, but I was also excited to try In-N-Out for my first time. It was the perfect welcome-to-California burger. I was a little surprised by the animal sauce though. It wasn’t as “saucy” as I imagined if that makes sense; maybe they just didn’t put enough on my burger? With that said though it was a very good burger.


The wedding was amazing! The cocktail hour was overlooking the water and the bride was stunning. We even got a shout out from the father of the bride during his speech; “Michigan Girls” that is us. We felt so special we all shouted and put up our arms—unplanned. Its fair to say we all think the same crazy way.

Below are the rest of the pictures from the trip. Pictures of brunch and bottomless mimosas, the WEDDING!!!!, biking on the water, and some food. I kept just diving into each meal and forgetting to take a picture till basically the plate was empty.

Brunch at State and Fig

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Drinks and dinner at the Boathouse of Hendry’s Beach

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Scallops on the half shell


How everyone felt at the end of the weekend.


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A Time For Firsts

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MGM Pool Party – AfroJack

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 The Bride!

This past weekend I experienced a few “firsts.” The first of the firsts was Vegas. One of my friends bachelorette party was in Las Vegas. I was so excited to experience the crazy party city! But what I decided to do, instead of what my smart sister decided to do, was fly standby. The night before I checked the listings and my fear was confirmed; none of the flights going or returning looked good. Awesome. I called my dad and discussed all my options. I was flying through Salt Lake City so maybe I could take the bus or maybe I could rent a car and drive. Both of those options would not get me to Vegas in time for the pool party we were scheduled for on Saturday so those were out. We finally decided we will just see what happens that morning and say a little prayer that the the standby gods show me a little sympathy.

I wake up at 3 am for my flight and feel good. I get ready and drive to the airport. I get through the airport and then what do I see? My flight is delayed for an hour and twenty minutes. Just enough time for me to miss my connection in Salt Lake City which was the only flight that day that looked good. Once again awesome.

I get to Salt Lake City 30 minutes after the flight I would have gotten on leaves. So I start the waiting process. The 11:01 am flight roles around. I am 15th on the list. Everyone but me and the standby person ahead of me get on. Next flight is 2:09 pm, getting me in at 2:39 pm. Which isn’t too bad, still plenty of pool time. I am 28th on the list and I get on. That is the name of the game, you don’t know what is going to happen till the plane door closes.

Vegas was amazing and crazy at the same time. I did make it to the pool party and it was so much fun. Unfortunately my sister who had bought her ticket who arrived at 9 am had already left the pool, not by choice, for “sleeping” (sleeping is code for something else if you catch my drift) but the bride was roaring to go and it was a blast.

Fast forward through dinner, clubbing, and 19 hours later you find me back at the Las Vegas airport trying for the 10:55 am flight. I somehow get lost in the airport because I couldn’t find the D Gates security entrance. If you are nice enough to the TSA though, they will escort you through the C Gate security and then through the locked door to get on the tram. Lets just say I was struggling. Keep fast forwarding through the day and you will see me sitting at multiple different D gates for the 10:55 am flight, the 1:57 pm flight, the 4:45 pm flight and then finally at the 6:36 pm flight that I shockingly got on. What wasn’t good about me getting on that last flight though was that it missed the last flight to Denver so I was stuck in Salt Lake City. Which is probably the most opposite city of Las Vegas.

Normal me would 100 percent just sleep on the airport floor, but apparently I have changed and I am still trying to deal with this change even as I write this post. I…bought…a hotel room. The second first. Does this mean I am old? That I am a mature adult? AHHHH. I don’t know what it means but I will say I felt great the next morning.

I finally got on the third flight out on Monday and made it to work in Denver only three hours late. So 30 hours in the airport for 19 hours in Vegas…totally worth it!

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New Activities


When I moved out to Colorado I realized how active one person can be. The average person living in Denver either is incredibly active or knows someone who is. If they think of any sport you can possibly do in the winter time then at least one person they know is very passionate about that sport and does it every weekend; skiing, ice climbing etc. If they think of any sport you can possibly do in the summer then at least one person they know is very passionate about that sport and does it every weekend; hiking, mountain biking, climbing, etc. With all this “activeness” I realized there was a lot more “stuff” to do out there then I imagined. Take snowshoeing for example, the most I had heard about it was from Kirsten my sister’s American Girl doll she had when we were kids. In the books that came with her it describes them as real people and Kirsten and her family snowshoed. It was one of her accessories you could buy. I must say Kirsten and her family were on to something because I went snowshoeing for the first time with some friends in Rocky Mountain National Park last weekend and it was awesome.

The weather was perfect; it was warm the sun was out. We started at Beaver Lake then stopped at Nymph Lake and then finally Dream Lake before we turned around. Seriously so fun!

The night before  snowshoeing we stayed in the city and had dinner at a little Idian restaurant called Nepal. If you are looking for Estes Park dinner suggestions then my number one suggestion would be Nepal. It is owned by am adorable Nepalese family. The food was delicious. The restaurant is decorated in things all Mount Everest and the dad of the family, who we were lucky enough to have as our server, will tell you all about his experience climbing the mountain at age 60.

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Bear Lake

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Dream Lake

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We also enjoyed some great views of wild elk. Even one decided to cross the road in front of us.

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Happy New Year!


Happy 2014 everyone!! I hope everyone had a great time celebrating the new year! I flew to South Carolina so celebrate the new year with my old friends from when I lived there. We hit up all my old favorites like Poe’s on Sullivan’s Island and I finally had my first pain killer (now called game changer) from Home Team.





I couldn’t bring myself to buy a real ticket and decided to risk it and fly standby around the holiday. It went shockingly well. So I learned I will not throw in the towel just yet for my non-revenue travels. What I did learn though was not to talk on the phone while you are in line to get on the plane. I forgot my water bottle at the chair I was next to at the gate and sat in the wrong seat. You would have thought it was my first time flying.


Can’t wait to see what 2014 has in store for me…

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