Tag Archives: travel tips

A love letter to Sevilla

lovelettertosevilla

I’m writing a love letter to Sevilla. The city that inspired me from the second I set foot in Spain. The wonderful people who seem to be living with no stress, even when life isn’t always easy. The siestas and the sangrias. The sun. Sevilla made me smile. Made me realize that no matter what happens in my life, the world is absolutely beautiful and magnificent. The world is inspiring, the world is incredible. Spain is incredible. I’m writing a love letter to Sevilla. I remember eating tapas for just a couple euros. I remember waking up and the Cathedral being the first thing I see when walking outside. The people I’ve met along the way. I’m writing a love letter to Sevilla because Sevilla allowed me to be inspired again. Sevilla showed me I would be okay even when everything isn’t okay. And most importantly. Sevilla told me it would always be there.

Sevilla on a budget!

The beginning of 2015 was pretty rough for me. Had a few huge disappointments, I lost all my confidence and I had to cancel a trip to Los Angeles I was looking forward to. I was sad, demotivated and bummed. But I got myself somewhat together again and gained confidence. I still wanted to get away for a few days though since I am no longer going to be in LA for 3 weeks. But considering I had to cancel LA, I am on a tight budget. An EXTREMELY tight budget.

sevillatriponabudget

I started my search on Ryanair to find out where I could fly to from Brussels without spending too much. I stumbled upon “Sevilla“. A place I’ve always wanted to visit. A return flight with Ryanair was only €50. I can barely buy a return train ticket to another city in my own country for the same amount. I then started looking for cheap, yet fun hostels in the city centre on Booking. And I found TONS. I ended up booking a bed at La Banda Hostal. The hostel has a 9.4/10 rating and the reviews completely convinced me to stay there.

(© Tourist Attraction)

So with a little help from family, February 5th I am packing my bags and I am flying to Sevilla for a couple days to clear my head and get back on track. The weather is supposed to be lovely, it’s a short flight from the African border and I have never been there before so I’m really excited to meet new people at the hostel, explore the city, drink wine, take tons of photos and have a relaxing week. I am convinced this trip will inspire me.

I’ll be blogging about how to pack for vacation in a couple days as well!

Have you ever been to Sevilla before? Anything I should definitely do or visit?

10 things you should definitely do when visiting New York City

New York, the city where dreams come true. I wish it wasn’t as cliché as it sounds but it is the truth. If there’s one place in this world that has inspired me more than anything else, it’s NYC. I’m pretty sure I know my way around the Big Apple better than I know my own city. So if you’re going to New York City anytime soon you should consider doing the following 10 things.

SHOP TILL YOU DROP IN SOHO
My favorite area to shop at in NYC is hands down SoHo. I love how I can find all my favorite stores in one area. From Urban Outfitters to Zara to Brandy Melville. Don’t forget to wander off from the main street because you will find the most unique & adorable stores in the other smaller streets.

EAT THE BEST CHINESE FOOD AT THE GREAT NY NOODLETOWN
If there’s one place I would kill for, well not really but you know what I mean, it would be the Great NY Noodletown. Best Chinese food I’ve ever had. My favorite dishes there are any noodle soup & the salt baked shrimps. Very affordable. The service is fast and they don’t speak perfect English but the food is so great I honestly don’t care about anything else. You can find the Great NY Noodletown on Bowery in Chinatown.

EXPLORE CENTRAL PARK WHILE WALKING
There’s no better way to discover Central Park than to walk. You will find numerous different roads you can’t access if you’re not walking. My advice? Start your adventure at the Columbus Circle entrance. And get lost, allow yourself to get lost. You’ll find your way again but you will discover you new favorite spot that way!

HAVE INCREDIBLE VIEWS OF THE CITY AT ROCKEFELLER
Tons of people go onto the Empire State building to have wonderful views of the NY skyline and although I’m certain the views are epic, I prefer to go on top of the Rockefeller Center near Central Park. Why you may ask? Simple, you can see the Empire State Building from there so your photos turn out to be wonderful and you’re right next to Central Park so you can take the best photos of both uptown & downtown. For tickets click here, I promise you will love this.

MAKE YOUR OWN DELICIOUS BURGER AT FIVE GUYS
I love fast food, a lot. I know I shouldn’t eat it as often as I do but I can’t help myself. One of my favorite fast food chains in this world is Five Guys. You can pretty much build your own burger. You can add whichever toping you want and the burgers are absolutely delicious. Their fries are great too. And they have very decent mayonnaise, I love my Belgian mayo. For around 10/12 dollars you have a delicious fast food meal. There are tons of locations in NYC and pretty much everywhere else in the States. They also have a few locations in the UK. It’s great.

GET THE MOST INCREDIBLE CUPCAKES AT MAGNOLIA BAKERY
I am not the biggest fan of sweets or cakes but good lord, the cupcakes at Magnolia Bakery are a gift from God. There are a couple locations you can find in NYC. They create special cupcakes for special occasions (like the Giants playing an important game) which is always fun. Definitely a must go to place when visiting New York.

VISIT DELICATESSEN FOR THE BEST SANGRIA & MAC N CHEESE
We stumbled upon this restaurant when we were shopping in SoHo, I immediately fell in love with the location, the name & the menu. They call their food “international comfort food” and I quite frankly couldn’t agree more. Delicatessen is a lovely place for brunch, lunch or dinner. You can make reservations during the week, however it’s too busy during the weekends for Brunch so you have to go to the restaurant, write your name down and come back whenever they call you up! Try their sangria, one of their mac n cheese dishes and the fries. SO GOOD. You will thank me later.

GET LOST IN THE NICEST VICTORIA’S SECRET STORE
Near Penn Station on 34th street, Herald Square you will find one of the most wonderful VS stores I’ve ever been to. (My favorite location is the one in London) It has 3 stories and you will find everything you could ever dream of if you think about Victoria’s Secret. From their perfumes/body lotions to their PINK line and of course the traditional VS lingerie.

WALK OVER THE BROOKLYN BRIDGE & GET A LEMONADE
Walking over the Brooklyn Bridge and take skyline photos is one of my favorite things to do while in NY. I recently discovered adorable little lemonade stands when you walk of the bridge in Brooklyn towards the water. Grab a fresh lemonade and enjoy the view.

VISIT THE 9/11 MEMORIAL MUSEUM 
I am not the biggest museum fan. It’s not that I dislike them, I just rarely find museums that completely interest me. I do however absolutely am fascinated by exhibitions or museums about (recent) events or important things of our past. I’m sure that everyone still remembers 9/11 and where you were that day. Whether you live in NY, the USA or not. I still remember what happened, how we reacted to it & how we handled the news back in school when I was 10 years old. The 9/11 museum will leave you speechless. It’s interesting, heartbreaking, fascinating and very, very well done. It’s also interactive, as in, you have the chance to listen to phone calls and more.  They even created an app that you can download for free, while using their free wifi, which allows you to have your own personal guide. So don’t forget to bring your headphones. Tickets are $24 and worth every single penny. It’s one thing you just HAVE to do.

If you’ve ever been to NYC before, what are your go-to places?

(Ps- for more photos of NYC, check out my previous photo post about this great city, I didn’t want to include all of the same photos over & over again)

General travel tips

I’ve traveled quite a lot in the past 7/8 years and I want to share some more travel tips with you! You can check out some specific accommodation & flight tips underneath the Travel Tips tab.

✈ The first question you have to ask yourself even before you start booking a trip, whether it’s far away or not, do I have the amount of money I’ll need set aside? Sounds like a dumb question, but really there aren’t any dumb questions, but it’s something I’ve noticed not everyone always does. Write down what you think you might need for each day (think about food & activities) so you don’t encounter surprises when you’re at your destination. Always save your credit- & debit card receipts, that way you can keep track of what you’ve spend if you’re not carrying cash around.

✈ Don’t convert money at airports or even at the destination you’re going, you will ALWAYS lose money that way and it’s so much cheaper to already convert money back home, at your local bank or at a bank in the country you’re visiting (you will usually pay around $5 fees)

✈ Check public transportation options, when you’re in bigger cities for at least a week it’s always a good idea to buy a week train/bus/metro card, checking these options are useful to see whether you might need to rent a car (think about the LA area, there aren’t that many public transportation options)

✈ If you can’t find a hotel/hostel suitable for your budget, check airbnb, it’s a website where people rent rooms/houses, often very cool & nice looking and most of the time so much cheaper!

✈ Check when there are public holidays at your destination. If you want to go when it’s less busy it’s always nice knowing when it’s busy. Or it’s always fun knowing when there are special events organized! It’s always useful to do this especially when you’re booking a city trip. How much would it suck if you book a trip to Madrid to shop and you get there and all the stores are closed?

✈ ALWAYS have an extra set of clothes in your carry-on bag (that if you travel with checked luggage), thankfully airlines have never lost my luggage before but if it does happen you have extra clothes for at least another day or two before you do receive your luggage

✈ The biggest general travel tip I can give to you is, sorry travel agencies, book your trip yourself. From your hotel to your flight. I often check travel deals and see whether there are any good deals available but if I try to book the hotel offered in the deal myself it’s often cheaper. It’s a lot easier to book an entire ‘deal’ but saving money is always nice. I’m actually especially talking about those travel deal websites who say that you’re saving 30% or more. I can guarantee you that they’re lying most of the time. And if you’re not sure, google the hotel/flight yourself and compare the prices!

✈ Traveling alone is fun too. You are free to do whatever you want to and nowadays there are tons of people traveling alone. Try staying at a (youth) hostel and you will meet new people, often from all parts of the world, who also travel alone and are down to hang out with new friends.

✈ Compare, compare and compare. Don’t book a hotel or flight straight away. Compare prices at different websites. Sometimes it’s cheaper to book a room at booking, but sometimes a hotel offers a special deal if you book straight through their website. You will spend more time planning, but it’s worth it

I hope some of these tips are useful to you, please let me know if you have any tips yourself and I’d love to future them in a new travel tips blog!

xoxo -N

Road trip time!

My friend Casey & I are planning a road trip.. Life is so exciting.

Booking & Mapping

I fly to San Francisco the 7th of May where I’ll be meeting up with my friend from Washington D.C. the 9th to start our road trip through California. We will be driving along the coast and stop in places like Monterey, Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara, Malibu, Los Angeles, Newport Beach and more. I tried putting our road trip in google maps as you can see in the picture below.

We booked most of our hostel/hotels already, still one place to book (Monterey!) and we might cancel certain places in between if we end up finding a better deal. We booked most of the places on booking.com (yay for free cancellation).

We’re renting a car so we don’t have to pay attention to train times and it gives us a lot more freedom. Busses & trains might be cheaper but we’re in California, public transportation isn’t the same as it is in New York. If you use trains you might have to end up taking a lot taxis.

Planning

We started planning this road trip months and months ago, I’d suggest that if you want to plan a road trip, whether it’s for a week or a month, you start planning a lot in advance. Deciding where to go to when you start is fun, but it means you’ll lose a lot of time trying to figure it all out. (I guess you can do that when you have months). We changed our trip several times due to inconveniences or places that ended up being too far away. I can honestly say I’ve spend hours into changing stuff.

We now do have a very organized itinerary which I’ll be printing out, the old fashioned way, and I’m sure it’ll be extra helpful along the way.

xo naomi

Visitors from all around the world!

I was checking my stats the other day and it’s pretty cool to see that people from a lot of different places visit this blog! I’ve been having a lot of fun writing blogs and I enjoy re-reading them every now and then. My mom now knows what I’m doing when I travel and even the rest of my family stays up to date.

Thank you for your visits! And please feel free to give me some advice on how to make things (even more) interesting!

xo naomi

T-minus two weeks before I leave for Bloemfontein!

I’m leaving in less than two weeks for South Africa and I have this obnoxious countdown app on my iPhone ’cause I’m so incredibly excited and nervous at the same time.

I leave Monday the 17th of March at 10am in Amsterdam, we (my cousin and I) have an 10-11 hour flight to Johannesburg where we’ll be spending the night. Our next flight leaves at 7am in Johannesburg, to Bloemfontein, where we’ll be staying for two weeks.

I’m really excited to meet all the other volunteers and the animals, of course! We’ll be getting some information before we start working that Tuesday. It’ll be a long couple of days but I can’t wait!

I’m pretty sure we have a day (or two) off while we’re in Bloemfontein, if you’ve ever been there and have any suggestions, please let me know!

South Africa, I’m ready.

xo naomi