It's no secret I love to travel. I'm always planning my next trip. For me planning is half the fun. Anyways, earlier this year I realized that I had a Southwest Flight I needed to use before April. My husband is busy with work right now, so I decided to invite my Mom.
I searched where was an affordable place to go before April. While I would have loved to go to the Caribbean, it's obviously primetime there, so I decided I wanted to go to a city I haven't been to before. I settled on Boston, since flights were cheap and I got an awesome steal at a hotel (less than $100/night for a DoubleTree!).
I scoured the internet and put together a rough itinerary of where I wanted to go. My mom was just getting over an illness and I decided a few weeks before to give up alcohol for Lent, so I knew this wasn't go to be a "drinking" trip, which I wasn't upset about.
We flew out Thursday morning. The Sunday prior to our trip a major snowstorm hit Boston. While I was hoping for "warmer" (meaning like low's in 30's, high's in the 50's) for March (which locals said was normal temps for that time of year), that wasn't the case. We flew into 20 degree temperatures. I honestly had no clue how cold that was (Give me a break, I'm from the South and it rarely gets that cold!). We flew through BWI and our flight from BWI to Boston was on a Boeing 737-Max 8. I would say we were lucky to fly out the week before the flights were grounded, but I don't know if luck is the right word. It's a little frightening to read articles about issues with this type of plane. I do feel blessed we were spared any incidents.
After arriving in Boston, we dropped our things and headed to Harvard Square. Harvard Square was about a mile from our hotel. I was really hoping to be able to save some money and walk on this trip, but the cold temperatures proved to be too much for me. Luckily our hotel had a complimentary shuttle that took us to three central points. However, when we go there the shuttle wasn't due to run for a few hours so we grabbed an Uber.
The Harvard Square area was really cute and quaint. It was cool to be steps away from an Ivy League school. Can't say I've ever been remotely close to an Ivy League school. We strolled the square and grabbed lunch at the Russell House Tavern. This place stood out because the name of our student union at the University of South Carolina is the Russell House. I grabbed a bowl of French Onion Soup (mostly for the warmth) and split a burger with my mom. The food was good. It was quiet because it was a Thursday afternoon. I would love to go back at night and see the place come alive. We next stopped into a cute little boutique, where we got some tips on the area. Then we stopped into the bookstore before heading back.
Thursday night was quiet, as we were both exhausted and it was bitterly cold outside. I grabbed dinner at the restaurant in the hotel. It wasn't bad. I also realized that I could sit at a bar and enjoy a club soda and relax (no alcohol needed!).
Friday morning, I headed down to the hotel gym to try and complete the Crossfit Open 19.3 workout. The gym at the DoubleTree Suites in Cambridge was one of the nicer hotel gyms I've ever seen. I prefer when on vacation to not drop into Crossfit gyms and instead just do a hotel workout. Trying to arrange a travel schedule around a gym class schedule is really hard, so hotel gyms are great on the fly. The hotel gym had a C2 Rower and tons of dumbbells. Luckily all the workout called for was one 35 pound dumbbell and a 20-ish inch box or something to step up to. I found just that in the gym.
After my workout, my mom and I grabbed breakfast at the hotel restaurant. Unfortunately, breakfast was not very good and very much overpriced. After breakfast, we headed into town to start our day. I wanted to do the Freedom Trail, but with 10 plus inches of snow still on the ground, it was still a bit too cold to that. Our shuttle dropped us by the Aquarium, which is right near Faneiul Hall.
We headed to Faneiul Hall. Again, it was really quiet because it was a Friday morning. We checked out Quincy Market. Quincy Market is filled with little restaurant stalls. It reminded me of a HUGE hyper local food court. We didn't get a chance to eat at any of the stalls there just because we had recently eaten. We decided to shop a bit at some of the stores nearby. We stopped into a LOFT to try and find my mom a sweater for dinner. While there I noticed this warm jacket that I just had to have. The jacket was olive green (my favorite color!) and lined with fur (I'm guessing faux fur). It was certainly warmer than the coat I brought. I tried it on, it fit perfect. It was marked down to $40 from $200, so I scooped it up. I was lucky to also have bought some duck boots on Amazon for super cheap prior to the trip, which were a Godsend! (Here's a link to my Amazon store to buy them for yourself: www.amazon.com/shop/mooreaboutcharleston)
After switching into my new coat, we saw some Trolley Tour buses nearby. We decided since we couldn't walk Boston, this was a great alternative. It was $40 a person for two days, not bad. I figured we would spend that much just Ubering around the city. It was also good for my mom, since she was still recovering from being sick.
We hopped on the Trolley and enjoyed the narrated tour. The trolley took us to Charlestowne, North End, near Mass General Hospital, and then to Beacon Hill, where got off. I heard Beacon Hill was great for antique shopping, which I knew was something my mom would love.
My mom and I both loved Beacon Hill. It was just very iconic. We stopped into a few antique stores and found a place for lunch. We stopped into the Sevens Pub. The pub seemed like a great local spot (which I'm a huge fan of!). It was good to warm up and relax for a bit. I grabbed the Rachel Sandwich (turkey, coleslaw, Russian dressing) with Boston baked beans. My mom got a BLT. We both were amazed at how delicious this hole in the wall pub was. I 10/10 recommend this place and would love to go back. It just seemed quintessential Boston. The kitchen was at the bar, which I've never really seen before.
After eating, we wandered around Beacon Hill some more. While wandering, my mom mentioned how she was amazed at how upscale the neighborhood was, but also how much trash was on the ground. There were mini bottles and just trash on the side of the street. We assumed probably from when the plowed the street. Anyways, right after she stated that I looked down at the ground at the trash. In the trash I noticed what I thought was a $10 bill. It looked like Monopoly money honestly, so I was hesitant to dig through the trash on the ground to pick it up. Well, I decided what did I have to lose and picked it up. It ended up being $100 bill!
I felt this $100 bill truly was a blessing from God. I believe in luck, but I also believe in divine intervention. I believe God rewarded me with the coat that fit perfectly and was deeply discounted and this $100 bill for not drinking and for making good decisions with my life. I don't know, sounds a little crazy, but just my thoughts.
Anyways, below are some pics from the first half of our trip. Have to run, but more to come with part two! Stay tuned...
Let's just say last year didn't go as planned. It started off great then went quickly downhill. But how often does anything in life go as planned? It was a year of chaos, change, and depression. Things went from great to straight up hell. In retrospect, I should have realized when I was feeling that ultra-high there would be a low. Last year taught me that I am stronger then I think, but also can become my own worst enemy.
I am happy to leave 2018 in 2018. While it wasn't all dark clouds and rain showers, there were plenty of good times. My peak was definitely Europe, specifically the five days in London. My valley was the summer of 2018 and all the changes I thought I "wanted". The best day of 2018 was the Monday spent at Oktoberfest. The lesson I took away from that is just be okay to drink a little too much and have a little too much fun and don't worry about what other people think. For a while there, I took life a little too seriously.
I don't know what is in store for 2019. May be a move to a new city? May be nothing drastic at all? May be the purchase of a new "toy" aka boat? Who knows. I do know that I'm going to keep busting my butt every single day to become a better version of myself. That's all I can ask of myself.
The other day when I was in the gym and thinking of "goals", all I could think of is that I don't to bitch out on workouts or aspects of workouts because they are hard. I think that goes for life too. I think last year, when the going got tough, I crumbled. I did a lot of positive things for myself last year (like going to therapy regularly) which helped me gain a new perspective, but still sat out on the sidelines during the hard times of life, instead of other positive outlets.
I am finally in a good space when it comes to my health and wellness. Going back to my old Crossfit gym and realizing that it's one hour of my day and doesn't have to monopolize my life has been of the utmost importance mentally and physically. For the most part, I'm performing better than I ever have. My diet is somewhat reigned it and should get better throughout the year. I recently started working with a nutritionist.
I would love to travel more this year. I've found traveling gives me something to look forward and keeps me motivated to work harder than ever. Work hard, play hard mentally. My first trip of 2019 will be to Boston the beginning of next month. I challenged myself to pick a city I haven't been before. I had a credit with Southwest Airlines. While I would love to go to the West Coast, that wasn't doable this time around, so I chose Boston. I'll be going the weekend before St. Patty's day so it's actually pretty affordable. (Hello nice hotel for under $100 a night and a RT flight for less than $215!) I still would love to go back to Europe, perhaps Paris (and of course, while I'm over there go back to London!).
I also want to keep growing as an entrepreneur. I've worked in a entrepreneurial role now for two years and it's time to start spreading my wings and grow. Nothing makes you feel like more of an entrepreneur than tax season (and the sweat and anguish that comes with it!). I would love to take on more new clients and grow with my main company, the Link Builders, and build my brand HPMarketing (DBA as Moore About Charleston).
It has taken me a month to finish this blog, I'll admit. I love to write, but then get super busy with work and life, and forget about it. The good news is we still have 11 more months of 2019., so let's kick it!
After spending five-ish lovely days in Munich, it was time to embark on the next part of our journey. Our journey was originally going to take us to Zurich, Switzerland for the day and night then off to London the next. We may have been over eager when planning the trip because after five days in Munich, we were exhausted. We re-booked our trip and decided to go straight to London. We booked a Eurowings flight that had a layover in Cologne, Germany leaving mid-morning. We didn't think much of it and thought we would be in London by mid-afternoon, we were wrong!
Our flight was delayed out of Cologne, then we spent a nightmarish 2 hours in line in customs at Stansted Airport in London. I 10/10 DO NOT recommend flying into this airport. With 100+ people in line they fluctuated between 1-3 agents working at a time. We ended up checking into our hotel after dark.
I'm a Hilton snob so I knew I wanted to stay at a Hilton. I book and un-booked basically every Hilton hotel in London because I was indecisive. I decided to use all my accrued points and stay at the DoubleTree in Kensington and I was glad we did. Kensington (yes, like Kensington Palace) is the most amazing area. The hotel was undergoing renovations, but nothing too drastic that interfered greatly with our stay.
After checking in, we asked the front desk where to eat. She recommended this Italian place called Rocca. We noticed it as we were walking to the hotel and it seemed like a lively spot, so we took her recommendation and went. The recommendation was spot on. It was a great cozy spot, with fresh Italian food and not overly priced. We stuffed our faces (since we hadn't had much of a real meal all day). After dinner, we ventured back to the hotel to grab a drink (PS according to my husband, the bartender makes the best White Russian he's ever had) and called it a night.
On our first full day in London, we venture to Kensington Gardens in the morning before stopping in to a Lululemon Sample Sale (coincidentally it was in it's last day that day). We racked up on some clothing. After shopping, we ventured back to the hotel to rest and drop off our stuff before heading back out.
We ventured back out where we explored Westminster Abbey and Big Ben. The weather was beautiful. We spent the day strolling around central London. After realizing how easy the Tube was to navigate we went back to our hotel to freshen up for dinner. We were hoping to find a rooftop bar for cocktails, but didn't have any luck. We decided that when in London, do as the Brit's do and grabbed a drink a corner pub in the Soho area. We chatted with some locals for a bit before grabbing a bite at a French restaurant and calling it a night.
The next day (Saturday) was rainy and cold. We got up and grabbed a traditional English breakfast at a place in Kensington. We then heading to Buckingham Palace to see the Changing of the Guards. We got to Buckingham Palace and waited in the rain for 30+ minutes (with a crowd of people) only for them to tell us that the Changing of the Guards ceremony doesn't happen on Saturdays. (facepalm...but in my defense the website said it did). We ventured around the Buckingham Palace area and saw a ceremony involving the Queen's Calvary (horses). We then ventured back to Trafalgar Square. We had plans to meet my cousin (who lives in Oxford, England) for a play that afternoon in London. We had a few hours to kill so we decided to stop in and partake in the traditional English Tea. (Mostly because it was cold, we wet, and wanted a hot drink).
I had the Cream Tea and the desserts were delicious. We then headed to meet my cousin. She reserved us tickets for 42nd Street (the Musical). I've gone to a few Broadway plays so I knew partially as to what to expect, my husband did not. We grabbed some drinks and the show started. The play was good (I admittedly almost dozed off because we had a long day already, and I had a few glasses of wine).
After the play we went across the street to an Indian restaurant that came highly recommended. I am not a fan of Indian food (not a huge spicy food fan), but it was good. The service was excellent. After dinner, we had plans to do the Champagne Experience on the London Eye.
The Champagne Experience was actually quite awesome. It was nice to have a guide take and in the city lights with a glass of bubbly. We decided to do the London Eye at night because I love seeing a city all lit up. After the London Eye (which is 30 minutes all the way around), we stumbled into an arcade. There's something about an arcade, after a few drinks, that makes the inner child in me light up. We played for about an hour, spent about $40 on tokens, and I won enough tickets for a mug, which I later saw in a store for a dollar. Oh well, it's my new favorite mug.
Saturday was a long day, but amazing day. I was happy to see my cousin (who I admittedly only get to see once every couple of years!)
On Sunday, we were supposed to go to Paris, but our flight was at 6 am out of Luton airport (which was an hour plus away). We knew we weren't going to make our flight, so we decided to stay in London.
My husband read that there was a BodyWorlds exhibit happening in London so we decided to stop in there and see if we couldn't book tickets for the exhibition. (Online it said it was sold out for weeks) We walked right in and tickets were available. This exhibit (although not "touristy") was the COOLEST thing I have ever seen. It takes you through the human body and (yes this sounds morbid) but you get to see body parts and full bodies of deceased individuals. They plastinate them (look it up interesting process).
As someone who works out frequently and knows a decent amount of the effects of toxins on the body, it was incredible. It showed you everything, (I mean everything!). Let's just say everyone was anatomically correct and there was even a section behind the black wall showing two people "in position" discussing the birds and the bees. Everything about the exhibit was intriguing!
After the exhibit, I decided I may need to eat healthy. We opted for an Italian joint in central London. I had a salad and regretted it by the end of the day because I was starving. After the exhibit we rested. It was about 6pm London time, so 1pm back home and we knew the NFL games were about to start and wanted to catch some of them. I googled sports bars in London, and one appeared close by. We hopped the tube towards Chelsea and followed our directions to the "sports bar". Well the "sports bar" was next to the Chelsea soccer stadium. We quickly realized this "sports bar" wasn't going to be showing American football.
We walked back to the tube and headed towards Piccadilly Circus in central London knowing that we saw banners hanging advertising NFL. Surely there would have to be tons of places showing the game around there? Wrong! After walking forever we found no such sports bar. We asked the door man at the Ritz where we could find NFL (as we soon realize they call it). He pointed us to a sports bar. There were giant inflatables outside advertising NFL and tons of people inside. We thought we finally were in the right spot. Well, we waited and waited and waited some more for someone to seat us at a table or to just be able to sit somewhere. We tried grabbing a beer at the bar but it was packed. They had two other bars so we ventured towards those bars only be to be told they were "closed". Confusing, given the games had just started. The place was kinda gross inside and I was frustrated. We decided to give up on watching the game and try to get some food.
We ventured to another restaurant in Central London, but the service was awful so we left, again. By this point I am starving. Like I would have eaten dirt. We headed back to Kensington hoping to just grab a bite at the pub near our hotel. We ordered a drink and our food and sat down. By this point, I was wondering if I was ever going to eat again (a bit dramatic, but that was my level of hunger). My fish and chips arrived, complete with mushy peas. I'm glad we ordered when we did because we learned basically all restaurants quit serving food around 7-8pm on Sundays. I devoured my food and called it a night.
The next day we were due to fly back to Munich to begin our long perilous journey home. We had some time to kill before leaving on our night flight to Munich. We decided to venture back and try to see the Changing of the Guards again. We made it about 15 before the Ceremony and it was packed. We couldn't see much due to the crowds. The only glimpses of the ceremony were through people's iPhones and iPads (very frustrating!). After the ceremony at Buckingham Palace we grabbed lunch at Shake Shack (my fave) and headed towards Kensington Palace. We stopped at Kensington Gardens again and took it all in. We made it to Kensington Palace. We opted to sit out the tour (it was expensive and we were tired) and just explore the grounds. The gift shop inside is INCREDIBLE! So many royal gifts!
After Kensington, we headed back to the hotel and then to Stansted Airport to make our journey home. Our flight was delayed to Munich, so we didn't get into Munich until about 1 am. Our flight the next morning was at 7 am so we opted to try the whole "sleeping in airports" thing. It was okay. All the food sleeping spots were taken so we had to sleep in a little booth in the arrivals area. Our travel hack to not smelling awful? Bathe in the free perfume and cologne in the Duty Free shop....hahahaha. It worked. We boarded our flight and made our journey home (after another stop in London).
The trip was amazing! Everything I hoped for and more (even given all the changes in our original travel plans). I feel in love with London. Absolutely, 100% in love. Clean, beautiful city. I am already planning my trip back to London.
Here are some pics from our time in London.
After spending our first night in Munich at the Hampton Inn on the outskirts of the city, we ventured into the city to drop off our luggage and try to check in to the hotel we would be staying at for the rest of our time in Munich. We arrived at Hotel Bayers.
When we initially booked our trip, we were excited to have scored cheap flights to Munich during Oktoberfest (thanks to Scott's Cheap Flights). What we didn't realize until after booking was that hotels were incredible expensive during this time. We knew we wanted a hotel and not an AirBnB because you know more of what you are getting. While we didn't have a horrible AirBnB experience in Rome, it wasn't what we were anticipating. Hotels in Munich cost upward to $400 per night for a basic hotel near the festival. I was able to score a good deal on Hotel Bayers by pre-paying.
Hotel Bayers was right in the central part of Munich. It was right across the street from the Marienplatz (or city center). We arrived at Hotel Bayers and chuckled because it was sandwiched (no pun intended) between a Pizza Hut and a KFC. Were we really in Munich or just back in America?
We dropped off our luggage and they unfortunately (or maybe it was a fortunately) didn't have a room available. We had about four hours to kill and were both well-rested so we decided to walk over to Oktoberfest. Our hotel was about a 10 minute walk to the fairgrounds. It was a chilly and rainy Monday.
We arrived at the festival and took it all in. Since it was cold out (and we knew if we wanted to get into the beer tents, it was better to go earlier), we ventured into the Haufbrau tent. I had done some research ahead of time and knew the Haufbrau tent was pretty American-friendly and would probably be a good start. We ventured in. Took in the scenes, sites, and smells. It's a little deceiving when you walk in to figure out what tables are reserved and not. We found our way to the center of the tent where there were standing tables (like bar tops) and parked there. We ordered our first (of many) beers.
I was amazed at how lively the crowd was for it only being 11 am on a Monday. The band was playing, people were singing, and some were already pretty hammered. We heard English coming from the table behind us and decided to see if we couldn't make friends, knowing that perhaps taking in Oktoberfest may be better with more people. We met an awesome couple from Minnesota, Becky and Paul. (We liked to call them Marshall and Lily because Paul definitely reminded us of Marshall from How I Met Your Mother).
After having a few beers and pretzels at Haufbrau, we decided to venture out with our new friends. (By the way, two beers and I was pretty buzzed). The tents are massive and deciding which one to go to next was like deciding which present to open first on Christmas. We ventured into the "cloud" tent. It called the "Hacker" something or the other (that I can't remember). This tent was super cool inside. We downed a few more steins of beer and by this point the day was getting fuzzy. We laughed because we said we were only going to stop into Oktoberfest and by this point we had been there for well over four hours.
We stopped into one other tent were the four of us shared a table with a family (a Dad, Mom, and their two daughters who just graduate college). They offered us their "chicken" coupons. When you reserve tables at Oktoberfest you have to guarantee a certain amount of food and drinks per table. Obviously the family didn't want their chicken, so we took them up on the offer. The chicken was AMAZING. I was well passed done for the day too, so it tasted even better. By this point it was time to venture home as the tents were trying to usher people out to get ready for those who had nighttime reservations.
We Ubered back to the hotel (and I left my phone in the Uber). My husband retrieved the phone (after a big to do and tipping the driver 50 euros) and brought back Pizza Hut for me. I crashed. Needless to say, it was an interesting first day in Munich.
Our second day we decided to skip Oktoberfest (at least during the day) and venture to the BMW Museum, which we heard was a must do. The Museum was intriguing, very clean, and very modern. I'm not a huge car person, but even I enjoyed learning about the history of BMW's and the future for automobiles. I tried to get my husband to buy me a Beemer at the showroom next door, but he politely declined. After the museum, we headed back to the hotel to relax for a while. We decided that we hadn't had our Oktoberfest fix yet and wanted to explore it at night (and with a clear head), so we ventured back to the festival.
We actually checked out the fair part of this time. We grabbed a Moscow Mule at one of the cocktail stands and enjoyed the lights and sounds. It was super cold that night, but luckily, I had dressed as warm as I could. We opted to not ride any rides (while it looked fun, after a drink or two it could be a little too much). We ventured off to find some "fair food" and to explore the tents at night. We walked into one tent and it was completely packed. We found a seat at a beer garden right outside one of the tents. Luckily, it was heated! We, again in search of friends, started chatting with a Scottish Dad and his daughter. We had a few beers at the beer garden (and a 40 minute wait in line to use the restroom) and decided to explore again.
After drinking all the beer the day before, I desperately wanted a glass of red wine. We found a wine bar in the fairgrounds. We both ordered a glass of red wine, but it was atrocious. I guess that's what you get for ordering wine at a beer festival! I had heard about the famous Statue of Bavaria, and was eager to see it, so we headed that way, before calling it a night. We grabbed some "street meat" at the Mr. Schwarma outside of our hotel and packed it in for the night.
Wednesday was our last full day in Munich. We ventured out of the hotel and across the street to check out the Marienplatz. Unfortunately, Wednesday was a holiday for Munich so not much was open. The Marienplatz was surprisingly open and clean compared to other parts of Munich. After walking around and checking it out, we decided to grab an Uber to Dachau Concentration Camp.
Dachau is about a 20 minute drive from Munich. We heard that it was something you had to see and I'm glad we did. We arrived at Dachau (amazed at how normal everything around it was. There was a Home Depot and a Burger King less than a mile away). We stopped into the visitors center then went about exploring the grounds. The first part we explored were some of the cells. I believe it was considered the "medical cell" area. It is truly a haunting experience to say the least. What really shook me was how there were three very small cells that were considered "standing" cells. They were so small that prisoners were unable to sit at any point. I read that prisoners were kept in these cells for upwards of 72 hours.
Dachau is huge. Admittedly, the Holocaust is not as talked about in my generation, so I didn't know or understand a lot of the conditions that victims had to endure. It was truly eye-opening. We strolled the grounds and ended up at the crematorium and the grounds where victims were executed. This was extremely haunting to say the least. My stomach churned and it was a hard site to see. I'm glad we did because I feel like I know understand more of what victims went through and why it's important to see this and learn about it, so history does not repeat itself.
After strolling through the grounds and taking it all in, we headed back into the city. We grabbed a bite and beer at a beer hall in the Marienplatz. The beer halls are pretty identical to the tents (albeit a bit calmer, and a permanent fixture that are open year round). We ended up at the Hacker something beer hall. Again, our search for friends yielded us a fun group of guys (and one gal) from Sacramento. I ate some truly authentic (and carb heavy) German food at the beer hall and we decided to venture out with our friends from Sacramento. We ended up in a beer garden near the Marienplatz. This was the beer garden I had seen on many documentaries about Munich. I decided to give a Radler a shot (half beer, half sprite). I sadly, wasn't a huge fan, since it was way too sweet. We hung with our Sacramento friends a while longer, before calling it a night, knowing we had to pack up tomorrow and head to London.
,So if I am going to be dealing with hellacious jet lag, I might as well blog...right? Anyways, I'm 48 hours (as I'm writing this...who knows how long it takes me to post it) back from my 12 day trip to Europe, and boy was it an adventure! It was by FAR the best vacation I've ever taken! I learned a lot about myself and how to be genuinely happy again. I found myself smiling, laughing, and enjoying the moment more than I ever have before.
Our trip started Saturday 9/29. We drove up to Charlotte for our flight with a pit stop in Blythewood to grab lunch with my dad. We had an overnight flight from Charlotte to Madrid. We grabbed a few drinks at the bar in Charlotte. Soaked in our last few quarters of American football for a few weeks (more on this adventure later...). Met some fun people at the bar...then boarded up. When we flew to Rome last year, I was super nervous and had a ton of anxiety. I was happy to not have a repeat of this.
I slept off and on during the flight. Got a few hours sleep so I was able to function somewhat. We landed in Madrid about 8 am Madrid time (which was about 2 am back home). We played it by ear as to if we were going to leave the airport. We had an eight hour layover. We decided that we were surprisingly energetic so we decided to venture out. (Pro tip: see if there is a luggage storage facility at the airport, so you can drop your bags, we did and it was helpful (although a bit pricey)). We grabbed an Uber and headed into the Plaza Mayor.
I've previously flown into Madrid (when I was 19 doing a May-mester study abroad), but spent no real time there. I knew from my previous experience in Spain, that the Plaza Mayor was typically city center so just go there. We reached the Plaza Mayor, and stopped into Starbucks to grab some much needed coffee. The weather was GORGEOUS. Sunny and around 70 degrees (a huge relief from the 90 degree Charleston weather). We explored the streets for a little bit, just soaking in some sunlight. We made it back to the Plaza Mayor and grabbed some breakfast at one of the restaurants.
I ended up having a jamon and tomato on toast with coffee and OJ. It was good. It definitely brought back memories (that I thought I had forgotten) about my past experience in Spain. After eating, we decided to walk and explore some more.
We didn't do anything significant in Madrid. It was nice to see Spain again, since the last time I went I wasn't fully prepared for the trip, to say the least and didn't enjoy it as much as I could have. One of my favorite memories was passing a "Ale Hop" store. When I previously was in Spain (I spent two weeks in the Salamanca area) there was an Ale Hop. The Ale Hop had a HUGE cow in the window and served as the meeting spot for our group. It was cool to see this Ale Hop and the cow again.
After a few hours, the lack of sleep was starting to catch up to us. We headed back to the airport, to make it back in time for our flight. Once we got back to the airport, we had more time to kill. The Madrid airport is a lot nicer from the last time I was there. It is HUGE. We grabbed another drink at a very busy bar. Another pro tip for traveling in Europe that I learned: European airports don't assign gates until like 30 minutes before you board. I guess this is to encourage you to eat and shop more in the restaurant and to prevent people from just gathering and camping out in front of the gate. It's kind of annoying especially when you are exhausted because you just want to relax, but can't in fear that you might have to high-tail it across the airport to reach your gate.
The sleep deprivation hit super hard by the time we boarded our flight to Munich. The flight was one of the most miserable we have had, just because we were tired and had been traveling for now almost 24 hours. I was swollen from head to toe. We finally arrived to our hotel in Munich at about 7pm Munich time. We were a bit frustrated because they gave us a dirty room, so we just begged for the room next door. We showered and decided to venture out in Munich and see if we couldn't find a bite to eat.
We didn't realize our hotel was on the outskirts of the city. Luckily we only booked a one-night stay at the hotel because we had pre-booked another hotel closer to the city for the rest of our stay. We ended up reaching the Oktoberfest grounds as it was shutting down for the night. We got a good laugh watching the drunks stumble out. We grabbed a bite an Italian joint (I know first night in Germany and we eat Italian) right outside the grounds. We then headed back and called it a night (thankfully!) and I slept for nearly 12 hours, which ended up being a good thing!
Here are a couple pics from Spain.
prAs I approach thirty sooner rather than later, I have really tried to start a daily skin care routine. After all, I put my skin through a lot, especially this time of year. I am constantly sweating in and out of the gym. My face is typically covered in dirt and grime from the day's workout. Plus the day to day stresses of life are often seen under my eyes and on my face.
I have been in search of a good skin care solution that cleanses, moisturizes, and helps rejuvenate my face. I have tried a variety of products that typically come in my monthly Ipsy bags. While I liked some, I never would follow up and buy the product. A friend of mine passed a long some products they have been using. Anything that my friend recommends, I will follow suit. The line of products my friend passed along, South Beach Skin Lab, has been my life saver.
My South Beach Skin Lab Experience
Prior to using South Beach Skin Lab my skin was blotchy, I had horrible dark circles under my eyes from stress and lack and sleep, and just felt over all yucky. It took me a while to actually start using the product after I received it. Like I mentioned, I had a stockpile of products from Ipsy that I had been testing. The South Beach Skin Lab line sat on my counter, staring at me. Enticing me to use it, but I wasn't ready yet to break the seal on the products. (I hate taking products out of the original packaging and actually opening them...it's a slight hoarding instinct...haha).
I opted to first use the Olive Oil Cleanser when I was in a pinch. I was in a HUGE hurry to make a dinner reservation and was throwing on make up. My eye liner pencil broke on eye lid, leaving me with a giant, black mess around my eyes. I didn't have any make up remover at the time. I glanced over and noticed the word "cleanser" and immediately dabbed it on a rag. What I ended up grabbing was South Beach Skin Lab's Olive Oil Cleanser. The cleanser quickly wiped away all the black eye liner smeared on my eye.
After literally "breaking the seal" on the products, I decided to finally put them all to the test. I applied the Repair and Release Cream to my entire face. After the Repair and Release Cream absorbed I added the Eye Lift Serum under my eyes. I could feel the serum working pretty instantly. You can feel a slight sensation as it absorbs under your eyes.
Within a few days of using the product I noticed a pretty big difference in my skin. My skin tone was more even and soft. The dry aggravated skin that I had been dealing with was a thing of the past. I actually haven't had a breakout (knock on wood) since I started using the product. I think this is partially due to the fact my skin is less irritated daily.
The Eye Lift Serum has worked wonders. Thanks to Somnapure PM (the nightly melatonin supplement I began taking) and the Eye Lift Serum, the dark circles under my eyes are gone. I always say you can tell how a person is doing by the look in the eyes. My eyes are literally a lot more vibrant. It's hard to actually find the word to describe how my eyes look now. I guess the best way to say it is that they look "well rested", even on days when I'm not so "well rested".
My Lasting Thoughts on South Beach Skin Lab
I am usually not one to speak up and say much about skin care products, after all I hardly wear make up since I work from home. I am very much a tomboy who doesn't believe in a good skin care routine, which is why I typically only spend $10 a month on an Ipsy subscription. I can definitely say that South Beach Skin Lab has changed this attitude. I didn't realize how vibrant my skin could look and feel until it looked that way. I am hooked on South Beach Skin Lab!
The good news is right now South Beach Skin Lab is running 15% off and free shipping. If you are an Amazon fan, like myself, you can find the products there; however, with the 15% currently offered on the website, it is a better deal right now to buy it straight from the manufacturer.
I love the beach. Why else would I call Charleston home for the last six years? Sadly, I don't make enough time in my life to enjoy the beach. Something that has been on my bucket list since I moved to Charleston and had yet to do was learn to surf. As a kid, I remember spending my days at Cherry Grove Beach with my brother boogie boarding all day and having the time of my life, so I knew surfing would be something I would most likely enjoy. Thanks to Isla Surf School I was able to check surfing off my bucket list and perhaps find a new hobby.
My Surfing Experience
I arrived at Folly Beach on a breezy Thursday afternoon. I parked near the Tides Hotel and walked over to Isla's spot on the beach at 3 St W. on Folly. I was greeted by the team which included Peter (the owner), Tommy (the Head Instructor), and Trip (another Head Instructor). I was also joined by the Cocktail Bandits (Johnny and Neka), as well as, Jessica with the Red Sunflower.
Prior to hitting the waves we participated in a "land lesson" lead by the comical Tommy. The land lesson is designed to teach you everything you need to know about surfing, including the board, how to paddle, and lastly, how to standup on the board. After laughing and learning (and admittedly struggling a bit to learn how to stand up on the board), we were ready to put on our rash guards, strap our boards to our ankle, and hit the water.
As I mentioned earlier, it was rather breezy out with a pretty strong current. You could definitely see a storm brewing off in the distance. With the pretty aggressive current, it was important that we stuck together in groups. Jessica and I headed out with Peter.
Actually carrying the board against the wind and getting it in the water was one of the hardest parts. By the time I laid down on the board, I was exhausted. However, I was determined to catch a wave. I paddled out to Peter and waited for Peter's cue to start paddling to catch my first wave.
A few minutes later, Peter yelled "paddle" and before I could blink, I was catching my first wave. I paddled hard and aggressively, a little unsure of when to stand. I waited for Peter to yell "stand" and up I went. I really surprised myself that I was even able to stand up. My first wave didn't last long as I felt super wobbly and ended up bailing out. However, the first wave gave me the biggest adrenaline rush!
I quickly got back on the board and paddled back out to Peter. After a few more minutes, I caught another wave, and to my surprise, was able to stand and ride the wave for a good distance. All in all in, I was able to catch about five waves, and stand up and ride about three of the five. The current was aggressive and paddling wore me out. We decided to call it a day just to be safe rather than sorry. I was really amazed to hear Peter say that if you could catch a wave in those conditions, then you could easily catch a wave in calmer conditions.
Overall, I highly enjoyed my experience with Isla. Peter was super patient and chill. He was a great teacher and easily calmed any fear I had. Surfing was the most invigorating yet relaxing experience I've had in a long time. It is definitely a great way to escape and decompress from everything that is going on in life.
(Photos courtesy of Parlay Vous)
So I've always been afraid to state my opinion on this matter because I have a lot of friends and acquaintances who participate in MLM's (mid-level marketing schemes, "network marketing", "pyramid schemes", etc). I by no means want to offend anyone who participates in these, however, I do want to make it known why I am against these types of programs. If you disagree with my opinion, that is fine, but it is just my opinion. Again, I mean no harm in what I am about to say.
1. I am a Marketer and Don't Like the Term Being Thrown Around
I am a marketer by trade. I have a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism & Mass Communications, I took classes on advertising, media, economics, and even social media (yes, back in 2011 social media was still considered a "new" thing). I hate the term being thrown around. I hate the fact that any Tom, Dick, or Jane with a social media account, trying to sell a product, calls themselves a "marketer". Salesperson, yes, marketer, no. There is difference between sales and marketing. My job is to build awareness about a brand or product, a salesperson's job is to actually sell it. In fact, I am a crappy salesperson. I hate talking about money (which I'll get into later). So I would never call myself a salesperson. I am not discrediting salespeople, there are ton of excellent salespeople who are highly skilled and highly educated. So please do not label yourselves as "marketers". You are salespeople.
2. MLM's are Path for Extremely Gullible People to Lose A Lot of Money
I hate when people pray on gullible people. I, myself, can be gullible at times. I thank my husband, family, and friends for helping me to become less gullible every day. Nothing irks me more then to see the messages on Facebook of "Who wants to sit on their couch, in their pj's, and make a decent side income? Reply below if you are interested.". And then people reply "Interested" and then the person says "PM Sent".
Yes, it is possible to make a decent living in your pjs at home. I do it every day. But what I don't do is make a decent living at the expense of others. I have a career that allows me these luxuries. My problem with the above scenario is that if the opportunity was that great, and the money is that great, why not be upfront with how much you are actually making, the job duties required, and how to apply for the position? I have had to rely on Facebook to recruit for my business. However, there are so many skeptics (like myself) who have been burned by MLM's (or are just sick of hearing about them) that bypass my actual recruiting post or see me as a "scam" artist.
Since MLM's are not upfront about what they are "recruiting" for, they lure people in with the thought of making a large sum of money. They play on the heartstrings of women wanting to be stay at home moms, but just can't quite afford it. So they say, you can have all this and be super successful, but you have to invest a little bit first. To be an entrepreneur, you often have to come up with capital beforehand, however, how much is determined by you and your goals. MLM's promise that your small investment will turn into something huge. What they don't include is how much work will be required to reach that level. Tons of and tons of work will go into making every dollar. Many times this is just to recoup your initial investment. There are many other ways I would rather earn a side living than to dump a chunk of change into an MLM and hope I get a return eventually.
3. MLM's Create a Sense of Distrust Around Peers
Prior to MLM's, when I would receive a message from an old friend on Facebook I would get excited. It was always nice to connect with someone from your past. However, now I get skeptical because 99% of the time that person is reaching out to me to join their MLM. It's actually quite hurtful. I love building friendships with people with no strings attached. However, it feels like genuine friendship has gone out the window. (Social media can share some blame in that). I feel like everyone is just trying to strike up a friendship with me so I'll go in on their MLM.
The flip side of that is when you already have a friendship with someone and they invest in an MLM. I'm supportive of friends helping friends. I'm always helping out friends in need. However, I do not want to support friend's who have MLM's because I become a crutch to them and their business. They become pushier and pushier for me to "join" .or whatever. It just takes away from the friendship when you are feeling forced to support their "business", which you yourself do not truly believe in. I'll be happy to support your actual retail business, restaurant, or any other business, but I am not going to support your MLM where you would only receive pennies of my business and the rest ends up in the hands of the higher ups.
As I mentioned above, I also hate talking about money. I hate anytime money is brought up in a conversation. That's why I sucked at sales. I could never close the deal. So I hate feeling like money (and the talk of money) comes between me and my friends.
My reasonings against MLM's are something I've wanted to get off my chest for a while. Again, you don't have to agree with me, but please respect my opinion. I am always respectful to MLM's, but simply chose not to participate. If you are actually interested in building your own unique brand and marketing it, that is an avenue I can definitely help with. I like to see the money people make actually go in their hands and not 1000 other people's hands who had nothing to do with your success. Just my two cents worth. Thanks for reading!
My in-laws love to plan "family field trips". In the past we've done New Orleans as a large family and New York with just them and us. This year, my Mother-in-Law wanted to surprise my Father-in-law with a trip to DC for his 70th birthday. I guess when you live in Fort Lauderdale, going somewhere tropical in the winter is out of the question, so why not go somewhere cold?!
We arrived in DC early Friday morning. My Mother-in-law had everything planned down to the minute. We sat at the airport for two hours waiting on my in-laws flight to land. They also were flying with my Brother-in-law, Sister-in-law, and seven year old Nephew. The flight circled quite a few times and after sitting at DCA for two hours and on little sleep (we took the 6 am flight out of Charleston), we almost debated leaving. The flight finally landed and were were able to surprise my Father-in-Law.
We got into DC, checked into the Embassy Suites in Foggy Bottom and walked around the corner to Crossfit Foggy Bottom, to do the first of the 2018 Crossfit Open workouts. The staff at the gym were very welcoming (although it was weird that it was in the basement of a really nice hotel. There were men in suits and us in sweats.) After finishing the workout, we freshened up at the hotel, and headed out to walk around. The whole time we were in DC the weather was quite gloomy, but thankfully not frigid cold. We walked around the National Mall area, grabbed a hot dog on the street (because I was starving) and headed back to the hotel to relax.
Friday night we enjoyed dinner at the Old Ebbitt Grill. The restaurant is one of the oldest in DC and is near Capital Hill. The restaurant/bar area was quite packed for a February Friday night. We sat at a large table in the corner near the bar. The food was great. I had the crab cakes. We also shared a few desserts. After dinner, we were all quite tired and headed back to the hotel for the night.
Saturday we all got up pretty early and made the trek out to Dulles Airport to see the Steven F. Udvary-Hazy Center Air and Space Museum. I'll admit, I wasn't thrilled to make the trek out to Dulles on a less than ideal weather day. We got to the museum and my attitude changed. I have always been fascinated with planes. Everything about them fascinates me. The museum was definitely worth the trek. Some of my favorite exhibits were the Enola Gay, the Concorde (which I never knew existed), and the USS Discovery.
After the museum we headed back to DC. We walked the full National Mall, went to the National Archives, then trekked back to the hotel. In total we walked about 6 miles that days. We went to a nicer dinner at 1789. The restaurant is one of the oldest in DC. You can definitely sense the history in there. The food was okay. I'm never a fan of super upscale places with tiny portions. They made a cake for my Father-in-Law's birthday and it was phenomenal. Probably one of the best cake I've ever had. I brought the rest back to the hotel to eat, but didn't eat it that night and didn't realize I could pack it in my suitcase. The cake ended up getting left behind :(
Sunday morning we woke up and headed to breakfast at the Riggsby. The restaurant was located in the Carlyle Hotel. The food was good (although I don't recall what I had). The atmosphere was really nice. Definitely a very "Charlestony" restaurant in DC. After breakfast, we got our luggage and made the trek back to the airport and back to sunny and 80 degree South Carolina weather.
If you haven't had a chance, I encourage you to go check out part one of my recent Charleston food adventures. But don't worry, this isn't like the Hunger Games (maybe more like the Hungry Games) where you have to read part one to understand part two.
Anyways, this month I've made an effort to break out of the routine and check out places that typically fall off our radar. One of these places is Locals in Mount Pleasant. We used to go to Locals every now and then. Their sushi is truly the best in the city. However, their service was just plain awful. After a not so pleasant experience where we waited an hour and a half for food, we decided not to go back. However, a couple Friday's ago, we were really craving sushi and wanted something different. We love Zen here in West Ashley, but really wanted Local's sushi. Since it has been several years since we last went, we decided to give it a shot. First, we were impressed with how much nicer it was inside. Next, we were impressed with the expansion of their menu. Lastly, the service was 1000 times better. We had a couple apps and each ordered two rolls. It was as a good as we remembered! I eyed a piece of cake as it was coming out the kitchen and we decided to indulge in a piece of cake to top off the experience.
A few days later, as a new Yelp Elite member, I had the opportunity to join the Yelp squad at Tijuana Flats in Summerville. I couldn't pass up the opportunity because I love Tijuana Flats. T. Flats (as we call it) is one of my favorite places to eat when visiting my in-laws in Fort Lauderdale. I got to experience the Hidden Menu with the Yelp squad. I started out with a Sangria and beefy chips and queso. Both were equally delicious. Next, we had the "Atomic Bombs" which was a jalapeno popper-esque dish. I typically shy away from jalapenos, but decided to give it a try. It wasn't spicy at all and was super delicious. The next course was a Mexican pizza. It was thin and loaded with all the toppings. As my first Yelp experience, I made the rookie mistake of eating a little too much too soon. I was starting to get full, but still wanted to experience every dish. I decided to slow down and just take a few bites of the pizza and the next course, which was a taco. We finished the experience with some yummy churros. I am definitely looking forward to my next Yelp experience.
For Valentine's Day, my husband and I made reservations at R. Kitchen in West Ashley. For our anniversary last year, we experienced R. Kitchen downtown. The West Ashley location is literally right down the street from our house. It blends in with the surroundings and has no real signage, so it is literally a secret spot. The West Ashley location has all bar seats. We sat at the bar and noticed the variety of bottles of wine in front of us. The wine was complimentary with the meal, which was a nice addition. The Chef focused on quintessential "Valentine's Dishes". We started with a Crab Bisque with corn and a coconut milk base. It was so light and delicious .The next dish we had was an "egg roll". The chef used his Mexican heritage to make this more into a "Mexican Egg Roll". I only sampled this dish, as I didn't want to fill up like I did at Tijuana Flats. The next course was "salmon roll". I was anticipating some type of sushi, but was pleasantly surprised when he started plating with molé. The dish was salmon, inside phyllo and brie, atop a chocolatey molé, This was one of my favorite dishes. The next course was a steak and mushroom dish, with a warm cheese sauce a top. We finished the night with a chocolate lava cake with sea salt. I loved the sea salt addition!
We also recently checked out Harold's Cabin downtown for a Saturday happy hour drink and snack. I loved the vibe of this place. It was like a local neighborhood restaurant/coffee shop, but with a funky flare. I ordered the daily coffee cocktail. The bartender really sold me on it. It was delicious and sweet. We also ordered some hush puppies. They were huge and delicious. My favorite part about this experience was the neighborhood kids popping in, grabbing a bottle (yes, old school bottle) of Coke. The bartender told us the kids frequent the spot and that he knows most of their parents. Some parents don't allow the kids to have Cokes, so he has to keep an eye out to make sure they aren't sneaking them. I was reminded of how we need more spots like this in Charleston. I look forward to going back to Harold's Cabin for dinner sometime or even to grab coffee in the morning.
Haley Parler Moore
Charleston resident. Digital Marketer. Crazy Crossfitter. Bulldog Mom. Gamecock fan. Constantly clad in Lululemon.