A Millennial's Travel Advice

Three Things To Do In Seville on a 20-Something’s Budget

the three things you must do in seville

Are you heading to Seville, Spain? Then you’re in luck as I’ve prepared a list of three things to do in Seville:

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Alcazar gardens.

Three Things to do In Seville

  1. Alcazar: This former royal fortress is very influenced by its Muslim background. The wall tiles and shapes of the doorways speak to its rich history. I loved wandering through the courtyard gardens. These gardens are exactly what I envision living in a palace to be like. They feature beautiful walkways coupled with ambient fountains. In addition, they do offer reduced rates for students with an ID card. Be careful though, it is only for students under the age of 25 years old and they do check both student ID and regular ID.
  2. Plaza de Espana: Words cannot describe how stunning this place is. The architecture doesn’t even look real. Do not miss this breathtaking sight. The stone is chiseled to such perfection that it looks like it could be a drawing. The pictures are underwhelming compared to the real building.
  3. Take in a Flamenco Show: Seville is known for Flamenco, as such it would be tragic not to see a show here. We found that most hour long Flamenco shows cost about 15-20 euros. However, we managed to find a place called Taverna Casa del Volapie which hosts a free show lasting about 20 minutes. The restaurant serves mainly tapas. Which of course are wonderful and the atmosphere was buzzing with life. Equally important, the show was captivating.  I recommend getting there early because it does get quite full. Who doesn’t love a free show? Jess tried to ask our server if she spoke English and was given a bottle of water. Therefore, we feel it was safe to say she did not speak English.

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There is no picture that will do the Plaza de Espana justice.

Side Note:

If at anytime you find yourself in need of a good hangover burger, hit up The Good Burger, we did multiple times for an instant cure.

 

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Millennial Lifestyle

How To Create a Bucket List

how to create a bucket list

Almost anyone that I have ever encountered has had some sort of list of things they hope to do “Someday” or “Before I die.” These are most commonly known as a bucket list. Some people, such as myself, choose to write out a bullet point list of these goals. I even go as far to try adding date of completion to mine. Other people do not write down their goals and they float through the realm of their mind lost forever. I’ve always found that writing down my goals or things to do, makes them more tangible. Writing down goals allows you to clearly see what it is that you want to accomplish.

However, simply making an effort to write down your goals is not enough. Recently, I found an old “Life List” that I made as a teenager but hadn’t seen in years. Looking back on it seven years later I did see that I had managed to accomplish quite a few things that I set out to do. This is awesome but there are also many items on this list that are exceptionally unclear and therefore will never be completed.

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Some unachievable goals.

Sure, delving into my personal psychology or breaking my destructive patterns were noble wishes of an 18 year old. However, how will I know when I’ve completed them? If you want to be able to complete a bucket list the items you add must be tangible and have clear outcomes. Make the items on your list actionable items. “Go to the Grand Canyon” I did that, I know when I did that, I can cross that off. You could even go as far to have multi-part items: Learn to Scuba Dive, Scuba Dive in the Great Barrier Reef, Scuba Dive in Belize, etc, But all items must be clearly actionable and have a clear end point. There is no point if having a bucket list that you cannot complete!

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When the item has clear end goal it is much easier to say you’ve done it.

Give yourself some timelines. A great human error is always thinking that we have more time. Oh, I’ll get to bungee jumping some day. Sure, I’ve always wanted to white water raft but I just don’t have time right now. Thinking you have more time and making excuses will prevent you from ever completing your bucket list. Try choosing 1-3 items a year that you will complete. You can make the time to do three things a year that you have always wanted to do. Even just completing one is a big step towards living the life you want. I will be transcribing my list into my Filofax so that it is always with me.

It is perfectly okay if your goals change over time. Rewrite them so that they fit your new life trajectory or simply remove them. People change over time and our ideas or lifestyles change. For example, I see that at one point I wished to get married. I no longer find this to be important. Sure, I want a partner someday but I don’t find the formality of marriage to matter so much. If five years down the road you see an item that you no longer care to do then change it up.

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Many of my Bucket List items are travel related but not all of them have to be.

Five Easy Steps for Creating a Bucket List:

  1. Actually take the time to write the items down. Better yet, make them fancy, a list that you can be proud of or write them down in their own special notebook. Your dreams and goals are important.
  2. Make them tangible, actionable items. How will you know when you have completed them?
  3. Give yourself some timelines. For example, I want to learn how to scuba dive by 2018. I want to scuba dive in the Great Barrier Reef by 2020.
  4. Revel in the feeling of success or happiness when you have achieved something that you have always wanted to do. You are amazing! Look at what you have accomplished! This will motivate you to keep going.
  5. Adapt your goals to your current life. Desires can change but never lose focus on doing what is best for you.

 

Side Note: Many of the ideas in this post are also translatable to lists and goals outside of bucket lists.

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What You Must Do in Lagos, Portugal

I am officially obsessed with Lagos. From the quaint old town with a mix of bars, restaurants, and shops to the stunning beaches I fell in love. Don’t confuse this with Lagos, Nigeria. Lagos, the love of my life, is in Portugal. All of the photos here are from the cliff walk I mention later on in the post. Read on for what you must do in Lagos, Portugal.

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We stayed at an adorable hostel JJ’s Yard. This is family owned by a young couple that has two locations and lives in between them. They are readily available to help give guidance and stop by every morning to check up on their guests and chat with them about life. The place feels so homey. At night, they take you on pub-crawls throughout the old town. I’ve never felt so cared about by a hostel or hotel for that matter. They truly go above and beyond to ensure you enjoy yourself.

What You Must Do in Lagos, Portugal

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Lagos is full of beaches; it would be a shame for you to not check some out on your stay here. For 25 euro there are boat rides through the coastal grottos. The boatman can be located next to the fortress along the coast.

Another alternative is to do a cliff walk. Actually, it’s not an alternative, it’s a must do. Walk to the fortress and when standing directly in front of the fortress you would head to the fortress’s right. This will take you towards the cliffs and lighthouse. While doing the cliff walk you will get sensational views of the beaches and cliffs. Wear sunscreen though! We got sunburned on our three-hour walk. There trails aren’t always obvious but always try to keep to the left as much as possible. Eventually, you will reach a restaurant called Antonios where we stopped for ciders but they also offer delicious octopus rice.

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Nightlife in Lagos

No list of what to do in Lagos would be complete without nightlife. One of the things that surprised me about Portugal is its vibrant nightlife. I discuss the nightlife of Lisbon here. In Lagos, all the bars are tightly packed together in the old town, which means that our hostel was in close range. We visited Three Monkeys that offers battleshots and beer bongs. This bar was packed the night that we went.

On our second night, we hit up The Tavern. The shots in this bar are insane! They have something called “Walk the Plank” which costs 25 euro (at time of writing) to participate in unless you beat the record time. In order to win, you have to do the six shots (not all are very nice) in less than the record time. When we got to the bar the record was 7.2 seconds; however, this was beat that night and became 6 seconds. I don’t even think I could swallow six times in six seconds. They offer beer bongs and keep a record of the countries that have done it. Naturally, I took one for Canada.

Finally, many of the bars close at 2 am. So at 2 am head on over to Inside Out which stays open until 4 am and keep going. As it is the only place still open, it gets PACKED and quickly too. The Black Cat is where all the locals congregate if you are in for more of authentic experience. Plus, you can drink in the streets here.

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Food In Lagos

We ate breakfast at Café Odeon on both days that we were there. For 3 euro you can get an English breakfast that is quite tasty. Café Odeon is very tiny and non-descript but offers delectable breakfast.

The Green Room serves zestful Mexican food. We had dinner here that included burritos, fish tacos and jalapeno poppers. We now know that authentic jalapeno poppers are made of battered jalapenos and our mouths will beg us to be a bit gentler next time.

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Yum, fish tacos.

Another place we ate was Churrasqueira “Praca d Armas” which served excellent half chicken and fries for 6 euros.

Antonio’s Restaurant is located quite far away from the old town; however, the meal with a view is well worth it. Or in our case, ciders with a view.

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Ciders with a view at Antonios.

On the night of our bar hopping, we finished by getting donairs/kebabs from Paradise Doner Kebab. A local recommended that I get durum which is essentially a Canadian donair. Jess got a doner. Both were simply amazing and highly recommended.

In addition, Bondi Café offers Portuguese tarts that are divine.

 

I cannot recommend a trip to Lagos more. I would love to come back here just for a week of relaxation.

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How to Choose a Job During Your Quarter-Life Crisis

Questions to Ask Yourself When Struggling to Find a Job You Love

The Quarter Life Crisis happens, now how to go about choosing a job during a quarter-life crisis? That becomes the real question. Surely, there are plenty of “adults” who carry that sense of unease and dread in their stomachs for their entire adulthood. And maybe accepting that is just a natural step to adulting. But why does it have to be? We live in a society with options everywhere we turn. Which is great but choice can feel so overwhelming. Now instead of pressure to follow in our parents’ steps, the pressure is to do good, be good and succeed at everything. The beauty of a society with so many options is that you don’t have to settle or only do one thing. We have moved passed the times of finding a job, working the job for forty years, and retiring.

If what you have chosen leaves you drained of life and dreading showing up every day, then it is time for a change. There are only so many hours in a week and there is no need for you to spend so many of them unhappy. That unhappiness is a water balloon that eventually will break over into other areas of life.

For me, I worked a job for years at which I was unhappy. My mood radically changed when I went there. I stopped being the bubbly, people loving person that I am and wished that people would just stop talking to me forever. That’s not me. That is what happens when we don’t stay true to ourselves, we get lost and that adds to the feelings of crisis or discontent. Once I left there, I could feel myself becoming more alive and getting back to who I want to be.

            Is your current job taking away from who you are or who you want to be?

I’ve always dreamed big and expected big things from myself. Which leads me to ask how can I follow my dreams when I have about six of them? I’m sure I’m not alone in this. I don’t know what I want to do because I want to do too many things. Or I haven’t gained enough experience to know what I like and what I don’t like. I’m telling you, it is okay to change paths. It is okay to go through university and think you want to come out of it doing one thing but realize that you can’t actually stand it once you get elbow deep in the field. It happens to so many people. That knowledge you learned and those skills you gained will propel you forward in another direction. They are still a foundation for your talents.

It is okay to skip university and get straight to work. But either track should end in something that you love. Change is a natural part of life. Everything will change. If you have six dreams, follow them. It can even be in different little ways.

If you had asked six year-old Arielle what she wanted to be when she grew up the answer would have been, “An author who lives in New York City” (I was obsessed with Babysitter Club Books and this is where Ann M. Martin lived). Throughout my life, I kept thinking of that dream and writing it off as not practical or unachievable. But the dream never died.

            Are there any dreams or goals in your life that you’ve tried to suppress but just keep coming back? 

I went to university to prepare for what I considered a more practical career, while still thinking of this dream in the back of my mind. Now, I am working a job that I will not stay in forever but this blog is my way of working towards that dream in some small way. While this will likely never be a career, it is an outlet to help me feel like I am making some small difference or helping others through my writing and that will keep me going while I continue to hunt for a job that makes me feel happy.

 If there is, what steps can you take to make them a reality? Even if there is nothing that stands out to you, brainstorm possible ideas of things you could enjoy. I like to think of my work life in terms of one year. Is this something that I could see myself enjoying for at least one year? If after my year comes and goes, if I’m unhappy I start weighing my options for leaving. The year mark is arbitrarily chosen to help me look reliable. Some employers frown on too frequent of job changes.

Slowly, my resume becomes a list of things I hope to never do again. However, that gives me a sense of direction. I know I hate that, I know I won’t enjoy that, so I won’t even apply for it or put it on the table. I’ve been there, I’ve done that. Next challenge please.

            Is there anything on your resume that you know you would never do again or that you just absolutely hated?

Make a list of what you hated about that job. It could be anything from didn’t fit in with workplace culture, the hours, the job tasks were menial, or it just didn’t feel quite right in some way. This list can help provide guidance for what you dabble in next. “Well, I know I hate customer service. Maybe I should look for a job setting where I choose my clients or don’t have  any clients.”

I absolutely love this TedTalk. Emilie Wapnick talks about multipotenialites. What resonates with me the most about this is the idea of not having to do just one thing. I think that we may be a renaissance generation. We no longer have to limit ourselves to one choice. We can explore and dabble in so many different options. The skills you learned in one job or educational path don’t disappear. They carry over into other fields. So keep exploring. Find what you really love. Or learn to combine multiple things that you love! Another reason for my one year deadline, is I find that this is usually about the time my restlessness kicks in. I don’t think that I was meant to only follow one path.

Are there any ways that you can merge your passions together? Or even create a career you enjoy coupled with a completely different passion?

For those of you who truly do have it figured out. That is awesome! Is this something that you can enjoy and still feel challenged at years later? Then pursue it with reckless abandon.

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What to do in Lisbon, Portugal

If you’re wondering what to do in Lisbon, Portugal then something that I recommend is appreciating the architecture. Often referred to as the San Francisco of Europe, Lisbon definitely carries a similar charm with its own European flair. The yellow streetcars creak their way through winding, narrow streets. Many of the buildings are shades of white, making the distinctive yellow of the streetcars stand out against them. However, one of my favourite things about Lisbon is that in amongst the white buildings tiled with brown roofs are the random smatterings of brightly coloured buildings. This character feature adds to the thrill of turning the next corner. In comparison to San Fransisco, I find that Lisbon has a much more relaxed atmosphere.

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I love these splashes of colour.

Another lovely feature of the buildings in Lisbon is the Azulejo tiles on many buildings. These are an Iberian art form and absolutely beautiful. They come in a variety of colours and add so much character to the buildings. They help with temperature control and are easy to clean. Lisbon hosts a San Fransisco-esque bridge which leads towards the interior of Portugal and the large statue of Jesus paying homage to the one in Brazil.

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The trademark number 28 tramcar on a sunny street.

What To Do In Lisbon, Portugal

The São Jorge Castle or Castelo de São Jorge offers stunning views of the city. For students, it is 5 euros or 8.50 otherwise. As always, I brought my outdated student ID and got in at the lower price. The guidebooks tell you to check out the castle, as may gut instinct upon arriving and seeing such a distinctive piece of architecture. But the locals will tell you that there are numerous free miraduoros (viewpoints) around the city. In the end, whichever you choose is up to you. Keep in mind that aside from the view there isn’t terribly much up at the castle.

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The bridge with Big Jesus in the distance.

Another one of the main sights to see in Lisbon is the Praça do Comércio Square that can be found along the Tagus River. Locals refer to this as the Square of the Palace. However, the actual palace was destroyed during an earthquake in 1755. Currently, a variety of restaurants now border the square. From the square you will notice an arch that was created during the rebuilding of Lisbon after the earthquake. Beyond the arch are many cafes, restaurants and tourist shops. In essence, this is a great tourist area of Lisbon.

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Just beyond this arch are tons of sunny cafes and restaurants.

While traveling through Lisbon keep an eye out for the word “miraduoro.” This will be a viewpoint.

Tourist Traps

You may have heard of the Santa Justa lift also called the Carmo Lift. This is the only remaining vertical lift in the city. Skip it. No locals from Lisbon ride this elevator, as it isn’t worth it. The lift costs 5 euro and after waiting in a long, long line you’ll find that it doesn’t even go to the top!! To add insult to injury, you can reach the same level of the elevator by walking FOR FREE.

To avoid this typical tourist trap first head to the Museu Arqueológico Do Carmo. Second, when standing in front of this building, head around the corner to the right. This will bring you up some stairs, which are in line with the top of the elevator. This isn’t even the best view of the city as it is blocked by metal fencing. Fun Fact: the Museu Arqueológico Do Carmo is one of the few buildings that withstood the earthquake of 1755. It has been preserved in the same state to show future generations just how devastating the quake was.

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The view from the castle.

In the same way, a second tourist trap to avoid is the elevators or funiculars that will take you up larger hills. I only recommend making use of them if you are unable to walk a steep hill. Locals used to use these; however, once tourists noticed them the prices more than doubled. For 3.60 euro you can essentially be transported up a hill. These cars are yellow and similar in colour to the tramcars but don’t confuse them. An example of one of these elevators can be found across the street from the Hard Rock Cafe. Anything near such an iconic tourist restaurant is definitely overpriced and for unsuspecting tourists only.

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The Calcada da Gloria street, located across from the Hard Rock Cafe. If you look closely you can see the lift.

 

Authentic Drinks and Food of Portugal

An alternative viewpoint to the Santa Justa lift is located up the hill across the street from the Hard Rock Cafe. Once you reach the top of the tram elevator turn right and walk up the hill. There is an area that will give an excellent view of the city as well as the São Jorge Castle. On the day we stopped there was a market set up. This gave us an opportunity to sample the traditional Portuguese alcohol Ginjinha or Ginja, which is made from sour cherries. It is fairly strong and served in a chocolate shot glass. I liked it but Jess doesn’t like cherries.

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The viewpoint from the above mentioned location.

Another drink we tried that is unique to Portugal is vinho verde. This is a green wine; however, it doesn’t look that green. It has a bit of an acidic taste and must be served very cold. It will get you drunk and is a must try for any wine connoisseur.
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Ginja served in chocolate cups.

Before you leave visit Time Out Market. This place has all of the foods you could imagine and is packed. We each ordered two different dishes and shared them. This is an excellent way of sampling Portuguese foods. As a result of sharing, we managed to try octopus rice and peri-peri chicken. It was mouthwateringly delicious. The market is packed and provides so many food options it was a struggle to choose just two. Make sure to do a  full lap around before letting your stomach decide.

Lastly, sample some Portuguese tarts. They are divine.

Nightlife in Lisbon

Unexpectedly, Lisbon has an excellent nightlife. The Bairro Alto area contains tons of different bars perfect for bar hopping.  The whole area is a grid and some buildings contain helpful maps on the outside. The Atalia Street is busiest because it has the cheapest bars. The Portuguese music Fado can be heard in some of the bars in the area. We didn’t get a chance to hear it but I’m told it is very emotion inducing.

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Throughout the area we noticed maps painted on the sides of buildings to help guide your drunken self.

Here are some recommended bars in the area: 

http://www.welovelisbon.net/articles/lisbons-best-rooftop-bars

http://www.10best.com/destinations/portugal/lisbon/nightlife/bairro-alto-principe-reals-best-bars/

 

Finally, while in Portugal, exercise normal security precautions. This includes keeping your bag in front of you and being aware of your belongings to avoid pickpockets. Do this especially inside the tram cars where you may may find yourself pressed between strangers.

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The Best Things to do on Lanzarote, Canary Islands

Located just about a hundred kilometres west of Africa, the Canary Islands provide Europeans, particularly those from Great Britain, with a beach vacation that is but a short plane ride away. Since this destination is largely targeted towards this market, it is very hard to have a true Spanish experience here. Walking up the main street in Puerto Del Carmen will give you a variety of different restaurants ranging from Chinese food to Mexican to British foods. The entire area is littered with Irish pubs. Luckily, these aren’t included in my list of the best things to do on Lanzarote.

The actual island is full of stunning beaches. It is no surprise that this is a popular destination. We stayed at Parque Tropical and we adored it. Our room was basically a tiny apartment, we had a full kitchen and our bedroom that contained two single beds was in a separate room. The hotel had a pool but we never saw anyone swimming in it.

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The camel driver makes the camel pay attention for you AND they don’t charge for photos.

The Best Things to do on Lanzarote

One of the first things we did after picking up our car from the airport was make our way to Echadero de los Camellos. Here, you get the opportunity to ride a camel around a volcanic area. One camel costs 12 euro, meaning for two people it was 6 euro each. The ride was short but enjoyable. A camel sitting down and standing up is an experience in its own right.

The entrance to the camels is located just before the Parque Nacional de Timanfaya, which is the national park of Lanzarote. Follow the signs for the camels before heading to the park.

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The view of La Graciosa, from the free point of the Mirador del Rio.

We drove up to the Mirador del Rio which offers a viewpoint of La Graciosa, a nearby island which can be reached by ferry in Orzola. The water surrounding it is turquoise and magnificent.

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Don’t miss the Cueva de los Verdes. 

Cueva de Los Verdes offers visitors a trip through a volcanic cave. The volcanoes on Lanzarote are still active so not all of the cave can be explored. However, with a guide you can travel for about an hour through this unique cave. This cost 9 euro but was an amazing adventure. This location served as a hide out from ancient pirates who used to visit the island. The actual entrance for this place is very easy to miss. Cueva de Los Verdes can be found just before Jameos del Agua so keep your eyes peeled.
editedF970D9CC-CCAF-4A62-A216-A4F13EFC26FCThis reflection was perfect (Also, this spot was mentioned on Buzzfeed #7 ).

It may have never crossed your mind to visit a volcanic tube before but Jameos del Agua offers a very unique opportunity to do so. In fact, I don’t even think that I had heard of volcanic tubes before my visit to Lanzarote. Inside, there is a large, still pond. The entire area is serene and peaceful, spa music plays which adds to the ambiance of peace. The cost was 9 euro.

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The serene water of Jameos del Agua. The white spots are microorganisms. 

The towns of Lanzarote are reminiscent of Greece. Many of the buildings are white with painted doorframes that strike out in bright blue or green. I really enjoyed simply driving through them and admiring the architecture. Lanzarote is a popular bike destination so you will often spot bikers along the roads. Watch out!

Eating In Lanzarote

Our hotel was located in Playa Del Carmen, which as I’ve mentioned caters to British tourists. We had a traditional English breakfast most days, this is offered by many restaurants.  Including, our favorite, the Tequila Lounge. We also popped over to La Cantina for Mexican. Many of the restaurants located along the main strip offer happy hour drink specials. Either bar hop to maximize drink specials or walk up the street before deciding where to go. We went to Africa twice as they offer two for one happy hour prices.

At night, walking up the main street of Playa Del Carmen feels like being in Vegas. There are promoters that encourage you to visit their bar or club. Many of the restaurants offer the same foods at roughly the same prices. Eat at whichever strikes your fancy.

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The beach of Playa del Carmen is what really matters here.

The Beaches of Lanzarote

Not only does Lanzarote contain some stunning sights but it also contains gorgeous beaches.

El Golfo: Check out this unique beach. Lanzarote is a volcanic island, which means that there is volcanic ash. At El Golfo, the beach is beautifully composed of black, slightly rocky sand. This is a result of the volcanic ash. The gentle blue water creates a stunning juxtaposition against the backdrop of the sand. The town of El Golfo has numerous restaurants along the water for a meal with a view.

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El Golfo is nestled in the distance of this frothy water beach.

            Mojon Blanco Surf: Located on a sneaky backroad near Orzola, this surf beach has turquoise blue water. In order to reach it, you’ll have to drive by the signs for the boat to La Graciosa, You will approach the back end of the town and see a barren field with a solitary building. Watch closely for the sign offering directions, just before you should see a parking lot with a tiny back road turn right and buckle up for a bumpy ride. There is a sign saying no swimming but there were plenty of people ignoring it and it is easy to see why.

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See why?

            Following the LZI highway towards Orzola allowed us to spot another barely noticeable road to a beach full of volcanic rock that had been arranged as a shelter for daytrips to the beach.

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How cute would a picnic in this volcanic rock circle be?

            Punta Mujeres: Another site of beautiful water is the Punta Mujeres. The water takes on a turquoise blue and I am all about lovely water.

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We picnicked at the Punta Mujeres.

Many of the beaches in Lanzarote are reached by back roads or travelling through the smaller towns. While driving around the island keep your eyes peeled for the sight of sand and watch out for these tiny roads.

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I’m trying to pose for the photo while being alert for bicycles (Actually, I’m a paranoid driver in other countries).

Getting Around Lanzarote

Basically, your life will be easier if you rent a car. There are some tourist buses and cabs that will take you to the main sites but this is expensive. If there is more than one of you we really recommend renting a car. This can be done in the airport at arrivals, reserve ahead of time since this island really requires cars they can be booked up fast. We rented a car from Avis for 93.77 euros for two days and it cost us 20.43 euro to fill up the tank at the end. This was very reasonably priced and well worth it. Moreover, it made our entire experience much more smooth.

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Everyone should know how to read a map. Cell phones aren’t everything.

We visited Lanzarote in May when the water was only about 17 degrees which was far too cold for swimming in our opinions. Brave souls may find this to be reasonable.

These are some of the best things to do on Lanzarote that we found! Please feel free to add your own favourites in the comments.

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Where to Find Cheap Paella in Valencia

where to find cheap paella in valencia

What is Paella?

To be honest, we mainly came to Valencia as it is the place where the traditional Spanish rice dish, paella, first scorched the bottom of its trademark round, flat-bottom pan. Paella comes in multiple varieties including seafood (mariscos), meat paella (carne or pollo if it’s chicken), or mixed (seafood and meat combination). This is to just name a few of the common ones I’ve encountered while in Spain. No matter which variety you choose, your taste buds will rejoice with delight. Read on to find some of the cheap paella in Valencia that didn’t sacrifice their flavour.

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Pan seared from Mercaders, a sign of freshly prepared paella

Although waiting can be a challenge, especially when you’re starving from waiting for Spanish dinnertime, when it comes to paella waiting is a good sign. Some places will pre-cook their paella and re-heat it upon ordering. You don’t want that. True paella is made on the spot and can take upwards of a half an hour. Be patient, the time difference is worth it.

Some of the top-notch, expensive places require you to order 24 hours in advance because the process behind fresh paella can take so long. Freshly cooked paella will cling to the bottom of the pan, scraping these bits should give a burst of burnt taste.

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Ready made paella in the windows.

If you’re okay with not having freshly made paella, you can find a variety of cheap places such as TAPAS PAELLAS Y MENUS located just behind the Mercado Central. As you can see, they have massive pans of palatable paella in their windows. To be fair, they still looked tasty and were prices at 10 euros or less making it excellent for the less picky budget traveller or for those daunted by the long waits.

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A must do in Valencia, Mercado Central

Another Must Do In Valencia

As an aside, you simply must check out Mercado Central, the building was constructed in 1928 and not only is the building surprisingly stunning, the inside is alive with energy and sights to see. Definitely give it a walk through even if you don’t buy anything. Not that we avoided buying anything. The market has a smorgasbord of everything from pastries and candy to fish and ham. We had a divine market breakfast. It was so good, that we returned to the market to purchase snacks for our train to Barcelona. The empanadas were too enticing to resist.

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No one will blame you for getting one of everything. So tempting.

Cheap Paella In Valencia Without Sacrificing Authenticity

For dinner, we stopped by La Roche, which was a very cute restaurant nearby the market. We had Valenciana paella, which contained rabbit, chicken and veggies. Coming at 12 euro each this place was both savory and affordable. The massive pan of paella took about 45 minutes to freshly cook. We were a little wary of eating rabbit and ultimately our forks dodged passed what we suspected were rabbit bits. Either way, we found La Roche to be scrumptious and eyed down every dish that passed our table. It all looked delish.

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Valenciana paella at La Roche

Lastly, we stopped by Mercaders located just off the market, where we had seafood paella (mariscos). It took about 30 minutes and the bottom of the pan was seared, leading us to believe the paella was made fresh. At 13.50 euro each, this was our most expensive paella experience. However, the sight of that large pan was mouthwatering and we happily devoured it anyway.

They also offer a menu del dia, which includes seafood paella as an appetizer plus the standard main course and dessert for ten euros. We skipped this, as we wanted to maximize our paella experience. For those who just want to maximize their lunch experience, this is another viable option. I drank their agua de Valencia that contains vodka, gin and orange juice while managing to taste just like orange juice. They claim to have the best cuban mojito in the city; Jess even goes as far to say the best mojito of her life.

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Appetizing paella mariscos. 

Final Words

Overall, there were plenty of places with delectable paella for less than 15 euro a person. I wish I could have sampled them all but alas there is never enough time. Valencia is home to paella making it hard to go wrong. Even if you don’t make it to Valencia, do not leave Spain without having paella somewhere.

 

What is your favourite kind of paella and where do you get it?

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A Millennial's Travel Advice

How to See London When You’re Short on Time

Much to my chagrin, I didn’t have much time in London. As such we had a bit of a whirlwind trip trying to see as many of the landmarks as possible. In this guide I will touch on what those landmarks were so that you will know how to see London when you’re short on time.

My flight got into Gatwick Airport and I was able to catch a National Express Bus for 8 pounds to the Victoria Station, once I arrived there I paid 12 pounds to get to my hotel. However, I could have easily taken the tube to Earl’s Court Station and walked the rest of the way. As I had anticipated the exhaustion I booked my first night in the Garden View Hotel. This place was adorable and I found the beds comfy.

One thing that I wanted to make sure I ate in London was fish n’ chips. After some quick research I found a place called Poppies Fish and Chips which I was easily able to reach by the tube. The place was very busy which is always a great sign. They have two separate lines depending on whether you want takeaway, served in a newspaper, or to sit down for your meal. I opted for a table for one. The restaurant was set up to look like a 1950s diner. The décor was cute and surrounded by the noise of laughter, chatting, and forks clattering against plates.

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The super tasty fish n’ chips at Poppies.

            I honestly, did not know what to do with myself so I ended up riding the tube to Baker Street (Holla, Sherlock!) and purchasing a few souvenirs for my family. This is also where Madame Tussauds is located. I visited one of these when I was 17 years old in New York and I now consider myself set for life on the wax figures front.

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The Sherlock Holmes statute on Baker Street

            Jess arrived very early the next day so we set out for some sightseeing after transferring our stuff to the Walrus Bar and Hostel where we spent the remainder of our nights in London. This hostel had a very cute bar located downstairs. The location was right by Waterloo Station, which made getting around easy. An unfortunate consequence was noise volume. The traffic and trains were so disruptive.

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Standard London Bridge shot.

            We made some rapid photo stops around the city (see my list below), before scrambling back to our hostel to change for our Alice in Wonderland High Tea at The Sanderson Hotel. I cannot recommend this more. It was super expensive; however, it was amazing. The patio was serene. The menu is displayed in an old book, which adds to the fantasy feel. Everyone is well dressed and conversations are carried out quietly between tables. We ate the most amazing toasted ham and cheese sandwich of life. The desserts are intricately decorated to look like sights you might see in Alice’s dream. They were almost too adorable to eat. Of course, the tea was amazing and you can drink it bottomlessly.

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So delicious!

            On our way home, we stopped for a few drinks in the darling area of Carnaby Street. Many bars had decent happy hour prices and all of the bars were packed.

On our return trip to London, we spent our last day in Harry Potter bliss. Firstly, we stopped by King’s Cross Station for some Platform 9 ¾ photos. The experience has been commercialized. There are now professional photographers waiting to take your photo that can be purchased in the gift shop. The line is also quite long. However, I felt compelled to have a photo and so I did. Jess and I were able to take photos of each other on my phone without causing too much ruckus.

Afterwards we journeyed out to Leavesden for the Harry Potter Studio Tour. You absolutely have to do this if you are a Harry Potter fan like us. Words cannot describe how phenomenal it was to be there. The set designers paid so much intricate attention to details. There are so many small things that you will never notice just having watched the movies. In the potions classroom, each bottle of ingredients has been painstakingly labeled by hand. I was blown away seeing how much effort went into creating those movies. Give yourself a lot of time to get there. It took over an hour by train but it was well worth it.

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Game of chess anyone?

            My last stop in London the morning I left was to visit the Millennium Bridge. This was another Harry Potter themed stop. You may recognize it as the bridge collapsed by Death Eaters in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

To get to Heathrow I took the Piccadilly train line, very simple. Minimal bag struggle.

How To See London When You’re Short on Time- Top Sights to See

  • Tower of London
  • Tower Bridge
  • Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. Fun Fact: Big Ben is actually the name of the bell located inside the tower.
  • London Eye: I rode this my second night there. If you are going to do it, book your tickets online. You will save money!

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The London Eye along River Thames. 

  • Shakespeare’s Globe
  • Millennium Bridge: This is for the Harry Potter fans.

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Bye, bye bridge!

  • Trafalgar Square
  • Piccadilly Circus: Piccadilly Circus gave me flashbacks to Times Square in New York. We didn’t actually stop but passed through in our cab on our way to high tea.
  • Westminster Abbey
  • Buckingham Palace: Changing of the guards happens only once per day and Jess and I were lucky enough to accidentally encounter it. On top of the palace you will either see an empty flagpole or a flag flying. When the flag is flying that means the Queen is in residence. Click here for the current changing of the guard schedule.

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We had an excellent accidental spot for the Changing of the Guard.

  • St James Park: London is full of beautiful parks. I wish that I could have visited them all.
  • Have High Tea: We selected the Mad Hatters High Tea at The Sanderson Hotel. This was our most expensive meal but also well worth it. We had a great time, the food was adorable and the tea was great. This was the reason I lugged my fancy Kate Spade dress around Europe with me.

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Tea time.

Things I wish I had Done:

  • Portobello Market
  • Camden Market
  • Tower of London: I would have loved to actually go inside a site so rich with history.
  • Royal Observatory: Once inside you can have one foot in western hemisphere and one in the right hemisphere.
  • Sunday Roast: I tried to visit The Stanhope Arms for it; however, for Sunday Roast you have to go super early because places sell out. I ended up having a Lamb Shank Shepherd’s Pie that was mouthwatering but I’m sad to have missed out on such a tradition.
  • Saw a play at one of the many theatres. The only night I had time for this was the night I arrived and thankfully I didn’t end up doing it as I would have fallen asleep.

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Always make sure to see Big Ben.

Getting Around in London:

  • London has an excellent underground system, lovingly called The Tube, using this you can get almost anywhere in the city easily. Each station has London Underground Tube Maps. These are tiny and can easily stowed in a bag for quick referencing. If you are staying in London for a few days pick up an Oyster Card as this is the cheapest option for getting around the city, otherwise you will have to buy daily passes which can add up. At the end of your trip, make sure you return the Oyster Card for your 5 pound refund.
  • London also has Uber. Taking Ubers can add up but it is nice to have the option. There were also standard taxies readily available.
  • Naturally, you have to ride a double decker bus at least once. They are the London icon of public transit. If you can, take a seat in the second level and sit in very front.
  • London is a very walkable city. I am always a big fan of walking in other cities because you really get to see and experience the city.

Mysteries of Stonehenge

An excursion that I booked through Golden Tours was to visit Stonehenge. Stonehenge is over 5000 years old and no knows what purpose it served. The actual construction would have taken a ton of manpower and fierce determination. There are many theories on why Stonehenge was created but in the end we can only guess. I visited Stonehenge because I believe when it comes to travel you should take the opportunities that arise. I noticed on Expedia that there were daily trips out here and I thought that it would be an excellent use of one of my days alone.

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Stonehenge, exactly what you’d expect, but still cool.

The tour also included Bath for a visit to the Roman Bathhouses and Windsor to visit the Windsor Castle. I only cared for Stonehenge.

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