Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Short North in Columbus, Ohio: A Retrospective

I loved living in the Short North after college. Officially ranked #7 on Trip Advisor's Things to Do in Columbus, Ohio, you can find something for everyone here. And every year when I visit home, I borrow my mom's car and drive down High St. just to see what's new and to also reminisce on the good times had. Here are some of my favorites:


The Short North in Columbus, Ohio: A Retrospective

The North Market: I used to run 5 miles to campus and back then come here for a tasty lunch. Serafino's was my most favorite pizza slice in Columbus (not including late night slices from Victory's on S. High or whole pizzas I would eat at Ange's, Donatos and late night HoundDogs). Unfortunately, I lived here at a younger age when I lacked an interest in cooking or eating fresh, local foods. I had no idea what I was missing!
Lots to do the North Market, lots to do.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Enjoy Those Roses or Die: 5 Ways to Enjoy Life Everyday

Morcom Amphitheater of Roses

"One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon instead of enjoying the roses that are blooming outside our windows today." Dale Carnegie


When I think of my ultimate "room with a view," it usually involves pictures I've seen on Pinterest of
Just search "palm trees" and
Pinterest shows you the good stuff
beach views with palm trees or city skylines.  Actually, this view has been my personal measurement for success since I could remember. Anyone who knows me knows my one goal in life - to own a house with a palm tree in the front yard.

Sometimes, reality strikes in and I see my real view from the patio sliding doors: it's 15 ft. away from another building looking at the window of another apartment. And it's also part of a sound tunnel where I can hear everything that moves outside (or during the summer when windows are open) as well as conversations inside other people's apartments.

Even though this view sounds quite city-life dismal, I like it. Because right now, I have a private patio with an urban jungle of hanging plants and I also have a rose garden. 
Morcom Amphitheater of Roses


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

17 Surprising Things I Noticed While Traveling in Europe: A Must Read for the Novice American Traveler

About 15 minute read or a 5 minute skim...enjoy!

Bologna, Italy
At the beginning of my 7 week Euro-trip to Poland, Spain, and Italy, I wasn't sure of what to expect while traveling Europe. I knew what to pack, what to wear and how to say three words in Polish/Spanish/Italian combined, so I was ready in some aspects. But I didn't know how this experience would change me.

As early as the first international airport in which we landed, I immediately started noting things that were different in Europe. Some things were barely notable, while others were re-occurring and forced me to take notice. Because I knew my fellow Americans would be itching to hear my exact thoughts on this very topic, I took short notes throughout the trip so I could report my findings. Those extremely scientific notes turned into this very detailed report of what to expect while traveling in Europe and broken out into 3 subgroups - Exceptional Attitudes, Europe-Exclusive Activities and Major Epiphanies:

17 Surprising Things I Noticed While Traveling in Europe

Exceptional Attitudes
1. Quality food is meant to be enjoyed with others and is also made with pride, love and care. Someone recently asked me if the food is really that much better. My answer was an emphatic "yes" and #1 is the reason. In Europe, most restaurants the main goal is the quality of food and customer experience, not the volume of customers they could serve or how fast they can turn over tables. For example...

Dinner is a 3-4 hour experience. In Italy, we rarely went out to any bars because dinner was the main attraction...and a long one at that! Sometimes you order 4-5 courses, drink a bottle (or 2) of wine, had wonderful conversations, then enjoy the ambiance...and that was the night!

They will tell you NO. If you ask for something they don't think you should have...they'll just say no. Ordering food at a restaurant with limited access to WiFi & Google Translate means you're guessing most of the time. And if you guess wrong, they will tell you "no" then either patiently wait for you to order something else or make a better suggestion. Believe or not, this is true customer service because they want you to have the best items on the menu.

2. Nobody cares. Well, they do...but they don't. This was my answer when my good friend, Tina, asked what my favorite thing was about Europe. I'm sure she was expecting a place or an event, but it was actually a general attitude. Actually, Europeans do care, but as business owners their priorities are providing great quality food/products for their customers and then spend the rest of time enjoying life. This is reflected in their lifestyle, for example...

Siestas...and business hours in general. Places typically open at 10am, then shut down from 1pm-4pm and then re-open. There are a handful of places that are still open then entire time, but when it comes to food, be weary of them because it probably means that they're horrible. Europeans don't always care about accommodating everyone at every moment. And I think that's ok.

Low and/or no drama and stress. You know how you people watch and can just see the stress on people's faces? Or how you walk into a meeting at work and feel the tension? Or every clip on Real Housewives of Anytown? Yeah, I didn't really notice that behavior in Europe.

3. Old people don't gotta chill. A couple years after graduating college, one of my
Seville, Spain: Puerto de Cuba
friends I always saw out, eventually stopped going out. When I asked why, the answer simply was, "Old people gotta chill." While living in a medium-sized city at the time, it was a fairly accurate statement - same people doing the same stuff every weekend.

This is actually the opposite in Spain and Italy. I noticed that "old people don't gotta chill." For example...

Bologna, Italy on Monday night. As G and I were heading back to our hotel to relax, drink some wine, and enjoy the view, when we noticed these 2 older couple leaving their apartment to go out on the town. And when I say older, I mean 60s or 70s. Go ahead, grandpas!

Seville, Spain on Saturday night. We were out that night like, "Where the party at?" but at all times we were surrounded by a more mature crowd. It wasn't until we found the club on the water, Puerto de Cuba, did we see younger people. And it wasn't like the more mature crowd wasn't there either. I have to say, it's the only club I've been to that had that much age diversity...ever.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Bergamo, Italy: The Most Beautiful Layover I've Ever Experienced

This cute little town (well "little" meaning 100,000 residents) is located just outside of Milan. And even though the elevation reaches to almost 1000 ft, it's still at the foothills of the Alps. It has a Medieval town on a hill called Citta Alta, with a magnificent 360 degree view of the region, as well as a more modern city below, Citta Bassa. All of these elements combined equals the most beautiful layover I've ever experienced.

Bergamo, Italy: The Most Beautiful Layover I've Ever Experienced

We were only here for 8 hours and first things first - EAT. La Marianna is a deli right next to the last bus stop...sounds delicious. I must note, there was this little thug bird next to our table that tried to punk me and take a bite my sandwich - while I was eating it! Guess who won... 
The streets are narrow and some of the buildings were painted this striking shade of peach. It felt like we were walking around on a movie set!

The city gate. I love city gates. I think we need to retroactively build more in the U.S.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Part I: A Week in Seville, Spain - Traveling Like a Boss (on a Budget)

Patio de las Doncellas or Courtyard of the Maidens
Seville felt like home. It was a picture-perfect city with Moorish-themed architecture, magnificent tapas (small plates of food) and warm people. And the vibe at night was lively, to say the least.We were lucky enough to stay there for 5 nights, which gave us enough time to truly see most of what this city has to offer. Note: one side effect of staying in a city that long actually makes you believe you kind of live there.

My "Traveling Like a Boss (on a Budget)" series for Seville is broken into 4 different parts. Since we were there longer than any other city, this seemed like the best way to present it. Plus, editing the 600 pictures I took into 100 pictures, and then putting all of that into one blog post is pretty impossible. This is Part I and what I consider to be my favorite pics. I know you'll enjoy them!

Seville, Spain Part I: Royal Alcazar

Alcazar - Originally built in the 10th century as a Moorish fort, it's now a royal palace located in the heart of Seville. And because there were many hands in the pot making this better than the century before, please note it's actually a series of palaces and gardens. We literally set aside a full day to take in all of its visually glory! Read more here or here. This was my favorite place we went all summer!
Patio de la Montería near the entrance

Patio del Yeso - all engravings were done via plaster

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Part II: A Week in Seville, Spain - Traveling Like a Boss (on a Budget)

Plaza de España
Seville felt like home. It was a picture-perfect city with Moorish-themed architecture, magnificent tapas (small plates of food) and warm people. And the vibe at night was lively, to say the least.We were lucky enough to stay there for 5 nights, which gave us enough time to truly see most of what this city has to offer. Note: one side effect of staying in a city that long actually makes you believe you kind of live there.

My "Traveling Like a Boss (on a Budget)" series for Seville is broken into 4 different parts. Since we were there longer than any other city, this seemed like the best way to present it. Plus, editing the 600 pictures I took into 100 pictures, and then putting all of that into one blog post is pretty impossible. So I'm starting with Part IV and then building my way up to the most exciting pictures in Part I. I know you'll enjoy them!

Seville, Spain Part II: Plaza de España and La Raza

Plaza de España - Built in 1928, this magnificent superstructure is located in the Parque de la Maria Luisa nearby our hotel. It was definitely one of my favorite buildings we saw all summer and the beauty was in the detail. Wiki info here. And crazy enough, it was 105 F degrees that day - we were close to seriously melting away.
Que hermoso!
There were details errrywhere...

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Part III: A Week in Seville, Spain - Traveling Like a Boss (on a Budget)

Taberna el Papelon
Seville felt like home. It was a picture-perfect city with Moorish-themed architecture, magnificent tapas (small plates of food) and warm people. And the vibe at night was lively, to say the least.We were lucky enough to stay there for 5 nights, which gave us enough time to truly see most of what this city has to offer. Note: one side effect of staying in a city that long actually makes you believe you kind of live there.

My "Traveling Like a Boss (on a Budget)" series for Seville is broken into 4 different parts. Since we were there longer than any other city, this seemed like the best way to present it. Plus, editing the 600 pictures I took into 100 pictures, and then putting all of that into one blog post is pretty impossible. So I'm starting with Part IV and then building my way up to the most exciting pictures in Part I. I know you'll enjoy them!

Seville, Spain Part III: Hotel Alfonso XIII and Taberna el Papelon


Hotel Alfonso XIII - We lucked out with this Starwood Luxury Collection Hotel because of the nice discount we received for paying in full while booking (ballin' on a budget) through their website. This historic building has been a hotel since 1928 hosting royalty and elite...and then us :) It was one of my favorite buildings I saw in Europe. I personally like African/Moor influence on architecture so this was the perfect fit!

  • Our room - was bigger than our last apartment