Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Best of Cardiff, Wales

We stayed in our first hostel! & it was so funky/cool. The Bunkhouse Hostel has a great location being near the train station. They have a cafe/bar area that is decorated with bunting, Christmas lights, and origami cranes. It was very cozy and welcoming there. The staff is lovely and I highly recommend it. 

The first and only night we stayed in Cardiff we ate at Bar Revolution. This restaurant and bar is huuuuge, nicely decorated and at the time we went (5pm) it was rather empty. But we found the food and staff to be lovely. The price point was perfect. For 3 euro we got a discount card that made our bill half off (that deal was specific to Wednesdays). I had a veggie burger that we modified to be vegan by removing the sauce. & there was a buy one get one free special on cocktails. 

The next day for lunch, I was pleasantly surprised to find a little cafe, The Plan, that had three vegan options on their menu. They offered a vegan sandwich, curry and salad. I opted to get the vegan sandwich before we hopped on the train to Paris. It was delicious and came with a yummy side salad. 

The reason we went to visit Cardiff was for the boys (my boyfriend Keith & our friend Sean) to visit The Dr. Who Experience. (Sean is a diehard Dr. Who fan.) I was not too fond of attending the experience so I opted out. Instead, I walked around town to do some shopping. 

eyes lips face is a vegan & cruelty free cosmetic line that has a storefront in Cardiff. Who would have thought? I was happy to see there was a whole store with vegan makeup. I wasn’t in the market for makeup but I was happy to see the availability. 

I needed to replace my vegan probiotic and I found a natural health food store down the street from where we were staying (Beanfreaks). I was talking to another man staying in our hostel and he informed me of Holland & Barret health food store. It is a chain of small health food stores throughout the UK, one of which was walking distance from our hostel. After one of the hostel employees pointed me in the right direction, I was a 5 minute walk away from getting my probiotic buy one get one free. Woo! 

I know going to find a place that offers vegan probiotics isn’t necessarily riveting material, but things have been difficult sometimes being vegan on this trip. I have eaten MANY potatoes, in the form of fries (chips) and chips (crisps). But it has evened out with meals full of vegetables. I was pleasantly surprised at how vegan friendly Cardiff was. I will definitely love to return. 

- Christina

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Best of Dublin

When we arrived in Dublin we stayed at two Airbnbs. We decided to get into Dublin a day earlier so we had to stay here, but we GREATLY enjoyed our stay at this Airbnb. Not only was it in a great location & very comfortable but the individuals that hosted us we’re amazing. They we’re so welcoming and helpful. The Irish are really great people. 

The first night we went to an Indian vegetarian restaurant called Govinda’s. There are multiple locations throughout Dublin. You choose what size plate you want and they fill it up with the options at the buffet. The night we went, every option was vegan. I was so happy (!). That day I didn’t eat much because we were on the train and ferry all day. It was nice to have a filling meal the first night in Dublin. 

We also went to a Thai restaurant near the college called Yum Thai Noodle Bar. It’s mostly omnivore but they do have a veggie option (veggies, tofu and white rice). Just be sure to ask before you order if the veggie option was cross contaminated with seafood. They have that noted on their menu.

We went to the Irish Whiskey Museum. (I heard from some locals that it’s new.) We we’re taken on a tour where we learned the history of Irish whiskey. I thought it was fascinating that Bushmills was a distillery ran by a woman. The tour ended with a tasting. Apparently my favorite whiskey of the batch was the “Avril Lavigne of whiskeys.” Oh well. Haha. 

Then we went across the street to Trinity College where the Book of Kells is held. The monks who created the Book of Kells put SO MUCH effort into every detail of that book. It was fascinating to learn about it & then finally seeing it. 

The Book of Kells is housed in one of Trinity College’s libraries. So on the second floor is The Long Room. The Long Room housed many original publications of books and was a place where many scholars translated books into many languages. 

We we’re in Dublin on St. Patrick’s Day! So we went to the St. Patrick’s Day parade that runs through the heart of Dublin. It was a very unique hometown type of parade. It was also PACKED, but fun. 

We dove into The Porterhouse to have a quick pint and we actually made fast friends with Ray and Ashley. They we’re a joy to be with and we had great conversation. Ireland was the most kind country we’ve been to on this trip. 

We also made a point to go to get a print out of our coat of arms. We went to this little shop where the woman was so kind to give us all of the vital information. I’m really intrigued to learn more about my Irish heritage. (The boys both have Scottish and Irish heritage which is very fascinating.)

& that rounds up our stay in Dublin! It was VERY enjoyable city. The Irish are very kind and welcoming. I HIGHLY suggest visiting Ireland. I can't wait to go back. 

- Christina

Monday, March 16, 2015

our time spent in london

We made it to London safely! We flew out on Tuesday afternoon and landed in Heathrow Wednesday morning. Only slept on the plane for around two hours (11pm-1am California time). The jet lag was insane. We pushed through and stayed awake until it was night time. We stayed near London Eye & Big Ben, which was nice to see pretty early on in our trip. Keith and I got some earl grey tea as we all walked along the Thames. Thought about going to Westminster Abbey but decided to return another time (we didn't, but it's okay). We walked around a lot. There were many times we could have taken the tube but we walked instead. Gotta see the sights! & that is not to say we didn't take the tube. We became season pros on the tube, moving just as fast as the locals. There are many beautiful parks throughout London and just walking between buildings and parks was lovely. 

The next day we went to St. Paul's Cathedral. You are not allowed to take photos in the cathedral but it is truly breathtaking. The inside is just as grand and the outside. They have an audio tour that gave us all of the important information. I kept on thinking how scared Princess Diana was getting married in such a huge church. I'm sure it was really nerve-racking. (Also, King Arthur's funeral was at St. Paul's Cathedral. 1 million attended! The drawing depicting it was insane.) 

After St. Paul's we went to The National Gallery. 3 hours of painting after painting. It was beautiful. It was exhausting. Highlights included Monet & Van Gogh. It was really lovely to see those paintings in person. (The National Gallery has free admittance.) In front of The National Gallery is Trafalgar Square. Trafalgar Square as many statues and we we're drawn to the lions. :) Across the street from the square & gallery was Cafe Nero. Cafe Nero is an Italian coffee chain that we enjoyed very much (we went there twice). It was great at perking me up. I really enjoyed drinking espresso as I could look out of the window to the square. 

(After reflecting on this day, I'm realizing how great it was!) We concluded the night at Mildred's, a vegetarian/vegan restaurant in SoHo. This small cozy restaurant has a bit of a wait (because it was so popular & it's rather small) but their bar area was comfortable with delicious cocktails. I had a dark and stormy and a bloody mary. (The bloody mary was too spicy for me!) For dinner I enjoyed an English pie, with smashed peas and chips. 

The next day we went to The British Museum (another museum with free admittance). The Egyptian and Greek & Roman wings were very extensive. Keith informed me that the collection of Egyptian artifacts was the largest in the world! This museum had so much that we didn't even see. It was full to the brim with history. & full to the brim of tourists. You could tell that people from all over the world was enjoying this museum. We also went when there was many, many, many, school children there on field trips. 

We ended that night at Hummus Bros. I had a delicious bowl of hummus filled with veggies and falafel with pita for dipping. I really enjoyed it and definitely recommend it. (Sorry my photo of my meal was poor and not worth including in this post.) It wasn't a vegan restaurant but had vegan options.

We enjoyed such great weather while in London. It was around 45 degrees everyday. Not bad for London! We even got blue skys at points. Our last day seemed a little colder than the previous but I think it's because we walked a lot that day. We walked to The Tate Modern & Shakespeare's Globe Theatre (which are near each other and at the South Bank.) (The front The Tate Modern has the view of The Millennium Bridge and St. Paul's Cathedral. It was nice to see some modern art at The Tate Modern. Highlights included a Salvador Dali and a couple Picasso paintings. There were many thought provoking pieces. I highly suggest visiting the Tate (as they call it). 

We concluded the day with a tour of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre. It was so interesting and I didn't realize how new it was (completed in 1997, even though it has been in the works for decades. The original was destroyed & was not in the South Bank.) There were many, many interesting facts that our tour guide, Dom, shared with us about how they strove to create The Globe the same way it was built originally, what Shakespeare's intentions were when creating The Globe and what it was like to be an audience member in Shakespeare's day. It was fascinating.  I really enjoyed it (& it was affordable!). 

I really wanted to go to Cookies & Scream (a vegan bakery that has a ice cream sandwich) that night but I failed by not realizing that they closed at 6pm. We arrive in Camden Town way after 6pm. We did go to Inspiral a vegan restaurant in Camden Town. We had another English pie with carrots, kale and chips. (Sorry another meal not photographed, but it was REALLY tasty!). 

Now we're on our way to Dublin (specifically for St. Patrick's Day & other sights). I can't wait to make more memories there & I will be sure to blog about it! I hope you enjoyed virtually following along. We miiiight make our way back to London at the end of our trip so please feel free to leave suggestions on other things to do. &! If you have any suggestions for Dublin, I'd love to read about it! Thanks for reading!

- Christina

P.S. Thank you to those who expressed interest in joining Weekly Wishes. I love that series so much, but I’ve decided that I’ll continue it when I return from traveling. I’ve found that it will be difficult for me to post weekly like that. Maybe I will get into a groove out here & it will return sooner than later. We’ll see! & just FYI, I accomplished last week’s goals. ;)

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

what i packed for my eurotrip

We left for our Euro trip today! Eeee! We're currently in London, starting to settle in. We left L.A. at 5pm and arrived in London at 10am, their time. A 10 hour flight. & I got 2 hours of sleep. Yaaay. Haha. 

I wanted to start my Euro post with a haul of what I packed. Over the last couple of months leading up to our trip, I've been collecting things that I've needed to pack. I've collected a lot of fun items, so I hope you enjoy this little haul video.

Do you have any fun items that you like to pack for your trips? Any special items that you love? I'd love to hear about them! Thanks for watching!

- Christina

Sunday, March 08, 2015

weekly wishes 005

Weekly Wishes, created by Melyssa from The Nectar Collective, is a place to share your weekly goals. 
Join & see what we achieve!

You guys. We leave for Europe in two days. TWO DAYS! I am so excited. & SO nervous.

Last week my goals were to:

1. Get ready for a garage sale. We are so thankful for the donations we received for our garage sale. (This was my favorite donation by far.) The donations truly helped. The garage sale was exhausting but I'm happy we hosted one. Some extra cash before we leave really helps. 

2. Sew headbands. This goal was definitely not accomplished. I really didn't have time to sit down and sew. Any of you sew? Taking out the sewing machine and starting a project can be just so time consuming. 

3. Get ready for Europe. Just as I suspected with my to do list. The second I checked something off, it grew again. But I feel that we got A LOT done the week before we leave. Still working on it, but it's almost done. 

My goals for this week are to:

1. Take this flight like a champ. We are leaving Tuesday afternoon. We will arrive in England in Wednesday morning. tiiiimetraaavel. I will be completely honest with you all, I have never left America. I'm not afraid of flying (fortunately) but going to a whole new part of the world is a foreign concept to me. & just logistics of airports and public transportation is kind of daunting for me. Fortunately the people I'm traveling with are pros. ;)

2. Take a chill pill. There is an attraction in Disney's California Adventure where you take a little quiz to determine which Disney character is most like you. One question I always remember is, "Do you like to plan things out? Or see what happens?" I am definitely a "plan things out" type of girl, but I want to be more of a "see what happens" kind of girl. So for this trip I want to be more relaxed with our plans. I don't want to feel anxious about not seeing all of the sites or not being at the right place at the right time. This trip should be more about relaxing.

Wish me luck with my goals! I hope I can achieve them.
What are your goals for this week?

- Christina

Thursday, March 05, 2015

#throwbackthursday to vlogmas 2014 | VLOG THREE

This is my third installment of me throwing it back to Vlogmas 2014 (#throwbackthursday!). I thought I didn't have enough footage to participate this past December, but it turns out I have 4 vlogs worth of footage. So this is the second to last one! 

I hope you enjoy watching me get Christmas gifts gathered, receiving exciting news from Arm the Animals and going to visit my friend Katie

If you need to catch up on previous Vlogmas videos, click here for the playlist. 

Hope you enjoy! Thank you for watching. I really appreciate it. 

- Christina

P.S. - I apologize that most of my posts have been Weekly Wishes and Vlogmas videos, but next week will be more exciting. I promise!