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Ireland Personal Travel

February + March Recap

Remember that time that I really thought I had updated this more than I actually had?

Yeah…. sorry about that (again).

Since we last spoke two months have FLOWN by and I am literally one month away from leaving Ireland. I have a funny feeling I’ll be back at some point in the future, but plans can change as we all know. I really should have kept up with this more because I know I am going to be missing some things so let’s just go by the highlights of February and March:

February:

  • Landed in Dublin without any issues with my flights or luggage #praise
  • Settled into my apartment: cannot be more grateful for my location/accommodation/situation
  • Got my car and a driving lesson: obviously asked for an automatic. Only minor mishaps have occurred thus far *knocks on wood*
  • Working lots (but it’s what I’m here to do so obviously)
  • Work night out with the girls and lads
  • Hanging out with friends from past visits
  • Joined an Expat Networking Group that I should probably interact with more…

 

March:

  • Pancake Tuesday: instead of Fat Tuesday they have Pancake Tuesday and they eat pancakes and crepes all day! It’s wonderful and I think this should happen on a monthly basis 🙂

  • St. Patrick’s Day: I sadly had to work that day so by the time I got home all of the parades were over and most people had already been day drinking enough to pass out so that night was actually pretty quiet. Totally did see piles of vomit everywhere #typicalIrishday

  • Nights out with the girls

 

  • Got my first Thai massage: very different than the normal Swedish massage of which I am accustomed. Instead of the normal rubbing movement in circles they just like push the area in one direction. It was less relaxing during the actual massage, but the after affects were better than my normal Swedish one. Also – you can’t beat 40 euro for an hour.

  • Ate ALL the Indian food: My apartment happens to be right around the corner from one of my favorite Indian places from my previous visits: Diwali. UGH SO GOOD. I seriously went 3x one week…. twice. Please refrain from judgement.
  • Hung out with friends
  • Went shopping: Hello, VAT Tax 😉
  • Hiked on Dublin Mountain the first good weather day I had (somehow subsequently got lost while still following the trail)

  • Hurt my foot out dancing (or potentially from the hike)
  • Saw Beauty and the Beast, 50 Shades Darker, and Logan.

April will be a little more coherent because all of those events happened not too long ago so I can still remember them.

These past two months have been amazing and I relish getting out of my comfort zone, but at the same time that is not without growing pains. I am an extrovert and I love being around people (not to say that I don’t enjoy alone time, but I digress). It is very difficult for me to try to be a tourist without also having someone here for activities. I probably would have utilized my weekends better in the beginning had I realized that was going to be such a big challenge for me. I am starting to accept it and force myself to still try new things even though I am alone. In April I did have some friends come see me and I easily packed more into those weeks that the rest of the time exponentially. There have been many #solobrunching experiences and lots of lonely walks around Dublin. When I am at home in Texas I am also usually alone, but I don’t really need to explore things there so I generally don’t think about the loneliness. I guess what I’m saying is that I don’t travel well alone. You would think that I should know this by now, but it is still a weekly challenge for me during this period of time. Now that the weather is finally nice on weekends I am really trying to get it together to go do the rest of the activities on my list.

 

Side note: I think all of my family have been lying about our non-Irish heritage this whole time.

Look at the names on these pubs! BOTH SIDES REPRESENTED

 

I promise the April update won’t take as long to reach you as this post has 🙂

Happy Reading!

-Savvy

Dallas Denton Personal

New Year – New Post

I realize that this is now officially a month late, but trust me life has been HECTIC, which equals more blog content. Christmas and New Year’s went fairly well. Some sad family issues had occurred around those times so that did put a damper on some of the festivities, but life goes on, as you all know.

In early December I had the honor of being in the house party for my friends, Becca and Kent’s wedding. I got to show people where to sit and then dance my face off. It was a little past Fort Worth so my friends and I decided to stay at the Omni Fort Worth since we don’t live super close to the wedding location. You should know by now that crazy things just seem to happen to me. My car’s key fob is broken, but it would sometimes still lock my car. I usually don’t lock it and whenever I give it to valets they apparently don’t either. I think nothing of this and get my car valeted at the Omni. When I made the room reservation and signed up for the rewards program I SWORE that it said that valet was included. I told the front desk this and they immediately comped my parking (which was a ridiculous $32 a night).  My other friends did the self-parking, which was down the street and still $28 a night. Ridiculous. Anyway, we get ready to go to the rehearsal dinner and I text the code to the valet to bring up my car. We head down and they tell us it’s going to be a minute…. 30 minutes later they tell me they can’t find my car. They then realize they know where it is, but they’ve manually locked it and now cannot get it unlocked. However, they feel really bad about this so they offer to comp the parking again, send a cheese plate to the room, and drive me and my friends around in the hotel’s super nice Lincoln Navigator. #designateddriver 

The next day I head down to the valet stand early before we head to the wedding to see if I can get the car unlocked. For whatever reason my actual key cannot unlock the car either so they have to use their unlock kit to get my car open. We go to the wedding, it was beautiful, we did a mannequin challenge, and danced so much. When I get back to the hotel that night I talk to my valet and say “Are you the one parking my car?” He tells me yes and I say “DO NOT LOCK IT”. He says that he has to and I say “NOOOO I’m that girl that has been causing the problems. DO NOT LOCK IT!”. Homeboy totally locks it which I find out the next day at checkout… Guess who made sure to fill out that survey!

For NYE my friends and I went to Beats and Bubbly at the Perot Museum in Dallas.

I got my dress from Rent the Runway and LOVED it! It was long, sparkly, and totally worthy of a fancy New Year’s Eve. If you’ve never heard of Rent the Runway let me break it down: basically, you have some event that you need to attend whether it be a bridal shower, Christmas party, wedding, birthday… anything where you would normally need to go buy a dress. Instead of spending potentially hundreds of dollars for these events to have dresses you might only wear once or twice, instead you can rent an even nicer dress for a fraction of the cost! The dress I rented was designer and normally retailed for $750; I rented it for under $100! You get 20% off of your first order and if you use the code in my link above then I also get a $30 credit 🙂 #treatyoself

This was actually my second order from RTR. For my company Christmas party a few weeks prior I also ordered a similar, but shorter dress and had an awesome experience. Everyone complimented me all night and now I think I should buy that dress lol. However, it also retails for several hundred dollars so I will just rent it whenever I really need it. Some other great perks: not only do you get your size, BUT you can also have a backup size for free in case the original size doesn’t work out , if you join Pro then you get a free birthday rental (plus some other perks), there are tons of reviews on all of the dresses so you can make a really informed decision on fit and how to style the dress.

Honestly, I wish I would have started using this sooner:

  • You don’t have to get the dress dry-cleaned since it’s included in the price.
  • They send it to you in this cool, zip-up garment bag with a pre-paid return slip.
  • You can get the dress for either 4 or 8 days.
  • Just drop it all off at a UPS store by the designated date.
  • If you have any issues just message the company and they will make it right 🙂

For my dad’s Christmas present I got him a cooking class from Sur La Table in Southlake. We learned how to make several different types of dumplings: pirogies, gnocchi, and su mai (not sure how that is spelled). It was a really nice day and the only other people in our class were another father/daughter duo where she had also given him the class as his Christmas present! Our instructor was super nice and was able to accommodate us since apparently I had not actually completed the class sign up online (oops!). However, there was more than enough food and plenty to keep us all busy. Always a good experience!

 

Life started to get a little bit crazier after that (if you can believe it):

  • My tax return was apparently also filed by someone else pretending to be me.
  • The IRS told me I wouldn’t get my refund until APRIL (spoiler: just got it yesterday).
  • I reported my doctor to the Medical Board of Texas and will potentially be suing them.
  • I got stuck in an elevator at work for an hour… alone.
  • My phone broke two days before I was supposed to leave the country for three months.

So that’s been my past two weeks… Fortunately everything else is working out really well now (knock on wood) and I have just started my newest Ireland journey! I will be staying in Dublin for the next three months for work and am looking forward to this next adventure 🙂

Stay tuned!

-Savvy

Dallas Denton Personal

Fall Activities 2016

After coming back from Ireland I was immediately thrown back into the swing of parties, weddings, and dinners. I got back a Thursday, had Friday off, went to a birthday party on Saturday, and had a wedding shower on Sunday. Never a dull moment!

My friend Blake was turning 26 and his girlfriend Kyla suggested we all go to The Deep Ellum Brewing Company to celebrate! They have this really cool deal on Saturdays: they close down the brew house and host tours. You pay $15 and get a souvenir glass and three beers of your choice. Pretty good deal and I don’t even like beer!

I had actually never been on a brewery tour so this was pretty exciting. I do prefer winery tours, but learning new things whilst drinking with your friends is usually a good time. The weather was really nice, the company ideal, and it was essentially just an enjoyable afternoon.

The next day I went to a wedding shower for my friend, Becca. Sadly, the only downside to my Europe trip was that I had to miss her Bachelorette Party 🙁 Her shower was a ton of fun. Her Maid-of-Honor and my friend Melissa’s mom makes cakes and certainly delivered for the shower! She also made her wedding cake a few weeks later and of course I devoured my piece in mere seconds (but that is for another post).

Halloween was slightly less than enthusiastic this year, but we still had fun nonetheless. I was Ginger Spice/Baby Spice and Karma was a Beer frau. Basically, we were Europe. If I had been thinking about it more then I could have been #Brexit. Tara was Sailor Moon and we went to this little block party in Denton for about five seconds before leaving to get Thai and go home.

As per tradition, my friend, Danielle, hosted Friendsgiving 2016 in her new apartment. I made Macaroni with a Beer Cheese sauce in the crockpot. Easy and delicious! There was wayyy too much food, a mannequin challenge, and free flowing wine.

Ignore the fact that the video doesn’t have Black Beetles playing. The struggle was real to just upload it.

 

On November 23rd I finally made one of my personal dreams come true……

I MET GOOD CHARLOTTE!!!!

Not only did I get to see them at Edgefest 2016 (RIP 102.1), but I also got to meet them IN THE FLESH because your girl shelled out for VIPPPPPP! I HAD to! I met each and every one of them, gushed a little bit, gave them thank you notes, and basically fan-girled. To make the long story very short, I was running REALLY late to their concert and thought I would miss the Meet and Greet before the show. I happened to get there just in the nick of time and was the last person to see them before the Meet and Greet was over. Did that give me the chance to leave a lasting impression? I sure as heck hope so! They liked my outfit and my cat shoes. I basically dressed exactly like I did in 8th grade and it worked out. I am now blonde and decided to add glitter roots, but other than that it was basically the same. They had 3 openers, which I considered excessive and helped solidify the reality that I am in fact too old to be in the pit for punk shows. #dontpushmebro 

They finally took the stage before my stamina and bladder gave out and you know I was in the front row singing along with all of their songs, crying my little eyes out. My friends were a little drunk and FaceTimed me right when they were singing Hold On. It was perfection.

The next day was Thanksgiving. We weren’t meeting up with the fam until later so my sister and I took advantage of the gorgeous weather to take Christmas pictures with Karma. There is a little park down the street from my house. We were hoping to be able to put her in a baby swing, but this park didn’t have a swing set. It did have a baby slide so that became the next best thing. Karma’s face is priceless in these next few pictures.

Disclaimer: she wasn’t hurt in the taking of these pictures. It was a baby slide and Tara was waiting at the bottom to catch her.

Whew! That was a lot of activity for basically just one month. I’ll leave December to it’s own devices.

Sneak peak into what’s next: two weddings, a car adventure, birthday parties, company Christmas party, friends, food, Christmas, Hanukkah, and probably New Year’s Eve. It looks like it’s going to be another exciting month!

-Savvy

 

Personal Travel Uncategorized

Leg Three of Europe 2016 – Amsterdam

Hello from Amsterdam! 

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Leaving Paris was bittersweet for me since I never want to leave, but at the same time I was so excited to go into the unknown once again. Dublin, London, and Paris, while not quite home, are familiar. It’s been several years since I’ve truly been immersed in another totally foreign culture. I have never been to Amsterdam, I don’t speak the language, know the transit system, etc. so it was a new and exciting challenge.

This brings up a few tips for next time:

  1. Try to book your accommodations as close to the city centre as possible. This will generally save you transit money (and confusion) even if it costs a little bit more per night. Trust me, when you don’t remember if your train stop is Waterlooplein, Weesperplin, or Wilbaustrautt and it’s getting late you will thank me.
  2. Learn a few key phrases in the local language
  3. Have the address of your hotel/hostel/Air BnB saved into your phone where it doesn’t require wifi or data to access it
  4. Download/Screenshot a map of the area
  5. Try to rely on wifi/data as few times as possible. Even if a country is in the EU that doesn’t mean that your data will transfer from one country to another. If you have a US data plan be prepared to pay a huge fee when you get home too…. #DreadingThatSprintBill

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The people in Amsterdam are very friendly, super chill (probably from the weed), and generally have a great grasp on English so this isn’t an incredible culture shock. The worst part was just remembering the train/bus stops. There are easily more bicycles here than cars (at least near the canals), but unless your GPS is working incredibly well I probably wouldn’t try to get in the fast lane with the more experienced cyclists. After breaking my tailbone in sixth grade, I generally avoid riding bicycles if at all possible so I was not eager to hop on for this trip. If I had a guide to show me where I was going then I would be more apt to rent one for the weekend. Side note: how they remember where they “parked” their bicycle is a mystery to me. There will be MASSIVE racks of bicycles that basically all look the same. There must be some trade secret that I am just not privy to to explain this situation.

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Marijuana and prostitutes are legal here and don’t have the same stigma as they do in the states. I did have to walk through the famous Red Light District just to see it for myself. It really is as easy as walking up to the door where the girl or guy is and hopping into the rented room. One prostitute thought I was there with someone else as a couple and I quickly managed to get myself out of that situation. There are tons of “cafes” where you can purchase all manner of weed varieties as well as edibles and mushrooms, but in most of them you cannot also get liquor, only beer or wine. However, Stoopwaffles are available everywhere and only contain fat and sugar 🙂 Illegal on my real life diet, but totally legal on my vacation diet!

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I also finally got to cross something off my bucket list: visiting the Anne Frank Museum. Unfortunately, they do not allow you to take pictures of the inside, but I got the see the actual red-checkered diary in which she started writing down her novel. If you do go, I suggest booking your tickets online in advance through the museum website. It’s around $12, but you also pick your time slot for the museum so you are guaranteed entrance. I am visiting in off-season and it was still packed. Make sure you do carve out at least an hour for it since there is a lot of reading involved and people in front of you may move slowly. Everything is in Dutch as well as English and you get to see the real rooms and the bookcase that covered the secret entrance to their annex.

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On Day 2 of the trip I went on another Viator tour to Zaanse Schans, which is about 30 minutes away from central Amsterdam. It is a historic town with a ton of old, restored windmills that are actually working to this day. Each windmill works for a specific purpose: one mills wood, another grinds the pigment for the paint used in the town, another made mustard! It was really cool to walk through them and see the people who are so dedicated to preserving their heritage. (again, not sponsored)

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After the windmills we were then transported to another village where we watched a cheese making demonstration. I have a great love of cheese and I was excited to find out that:

A.) They were making Gouda

B.) I CAN TAKE IT IN MY CARRY ON!!

I bought a regular wheel as well as an Italian herb one so invite me to ALL the cocktail parties! 🙂

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After the cheese demonstration we got lunch at a local restaurant. I got fried mussels, which were very tasty. I had previously mistakenly gotten the wrong type of waffle recommended to me by my friend Julia, but the correct type of waffle was being made right next door so I managed to snag one for dessert. True to form, they were tasty, but how can you go wrong with dough and nutella??

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Once the time in that village was complete we were herded onto this river cruise, which normally I would think would be delightful, but it was FREEZING. Of course by the time I got onto the boat all of the inside seats were taken so I froze outside about 80% of the time until I couldn’t handle it anymore and just stood inside to thaw out. Once the ice boat ride was complete we finally got to go to another little village that makes the traditional wooden shoes you always associate with Holland. Back in the day it would take 3 hours to make one shoe; now with “modern” machinery it takes 5 minutes per shoe. I succumbed to my inner tourist and bought a pair…. they are supposed to be water proof so maybe I’ll wear them around in the garden? Orrrrr just put them in a place of honor on my travel wall…..

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It was an action-packed day and a great way to end my time in Amsterdam. Next time I come I’m definitely staying closer to the city centre to take more advantage of the nightlife. Living so far away kinda put a damper on that idea for this go around. Not a problem though since I will most definitely be back and I really could use the down time in a very comfy bed 🙂

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I am now back in my Air BnB taking advantage of the fact that there is a washer and dryer available for my use since all I brought was a carry-on and we are now 7 days into the trip. I am fairly proud of the choices I made in my small carry-on, but I will make a mental note to bring fewer leggings, fewer shoes, and more shirts next time. I feel like traveling by carry-on would have been much easier in warmer weather. It is steadily getting colder and I know that I am going to probably need to buy a scarf in Berlin if this keeps up. #moresouvenirs 

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Tomorrow I head to Berlin for my last real stop on my European tour! After Berlin I’m back in Dublin for a night to pick up the rest of my luggage and then head on back to Dallas. There are still no direct flights to Dallas from Dublin (weird, I know) so I will have to make the journey back through… dun dun dunnnn CHICAGO. I swear to God, if I get stuck there again for another three days it will NOT be good. (if you are confused about to what I am referring, please read this post for context.)

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Leave me some love in the comments and stay posted for the rest of my trip!

Savvy

Personal Travel

Leg Two of Europe 2016 – Paris/Normandy

As sad as I was to leave London, the upcoming rest of the trip was still very exciting. Paris is a city I have visited twice previously. Once on that same London trip when I was 13 and once for a day on a Germany trip when I was 15. I’ve always have a love for Paris and even decorated my childhood bedroom in all of my souvenirs (i.e. useful postcards because I don’t do trinkets) from my first trip. I’ve never bothered to change it so when I visit my room at my parent’s house I get to relive that trip over and over again. Both of my previous trips were in July so it was really cool to see how the city changes in the autumn weather.

Instead of flying to Paris it was significantly easier to just take the train. Previously, on my first trip my family and I also took the train so this wasn’t my first rodeo. However again… that was 12 years ago and I wasn’t in charge that time. I managed to get from the train station to my Air BnB unscathed and was pleasantly surprised to find that the location was as close to the Eiffel Tower as previously described. I was literally across the bridge from the tower and could see it from around the corner of my apartment. This was super convenient especially giving that my grasp of the French language was way stronger in my head than in real life. My French Rosetta Stone computer program is still collecting dust on my bookshelf…. #goals

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I managed to avoid the Metro by being this close to all of the major sites, which from my memory, saved me from some smells I would rather not ever smell again if I can help it. I did notice that in the past 10-12 years Paris does seem a lot cleaner. Maybe that’s just my memory or maybe it was because both previous times were during the height of tourist season and the city just couldn’t keep up with the demands of the people. I really enjoyed exploring the city without the previous hustle and bustle that can occur during the summer months. Either way I wasn’t about to chance it for the smell and for the fact that I most likely was going to get myself lost. If I was here for a week or so, not a problem. Three days is not enough time to salvage time from being lost. I know, I know, “getting lost is part of the adventure“! I’ll save that adventure for my fourth trip to Paris, thank you very much.

The first day was basically just getting to my apartment and walking around the neighborhood a bit. I of course had to visit the Tower several times and Day 1 was no exception. Traveling as an adult who needs to actually be in charge in a new place is way more exhausting than I remember as a teenager who just needed to follow a group. Couple that with anxiety and just getting to my next destination is already enough struggle for most of the day. I managed to get to my destinations and that was basically all I could handle for that day. I have consistently been going to bed super early mainly due from exhaustion and from the paranoia of going out at night in a new city where I don’t know where things are. My love for adventure sometimes takes a back seat to my personal fears and capacities, but that is probably what has kept me safe many a time. If you’re reading this looking for wild stories, then this is probably not the trip for you (but stay posted for other trips with more people and when I’m not in charge). 😉

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The next day was some more low-key sightseeing, which totally needed to include a trip to the Champs-Élysées! Since I had already done my major purchase in Dublin for LV, I just needed a quick run-through of the flagship store in Paris. If I hadn’t already looked at my credit card statement I might have been tempted to buy another addition to my now growing collection. I reigned it in for a few more stores, but then I ran across Longchamp. In my extensive research of what to buy in Paris I discovered than not only LV, but also Longchamp bags were significantly cheaper. They are also a great travel bag since they fold up fairly small and are made from nylon which is more water resistant than the calf-hair MK crossover I had been carrying. Yet another useful souvenir was purchased 🙂 Between the two bags I have probably saved over $500 dollars that I would have spent at some point. I already have been wanting them for a long time so it just makes logical sense to buy them both now at the cheapest I’ll ever get them rather than waiting until I’m back in the states. If I ever get the opportunity, there is also a Burberry outlet in London I discovered for the next trip! I may like to shop, but I am not into paying more than I have to for anything.

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After Longchamp the Ladurée macaron store was calling my name. I would have brought back some for others, but as I am not checking a bag that would prove difficult and they do not travel well. Let me just tell you that they were every bit as delicious as I imagined. Dublin and Harrod’s in London actually have their stores as well, but I decided to wait until Paris to get some for the real experience. I only got 4 for a little snick-snack. Coconut, pistachio, coffee, and salted caramel; all of them delicious. This one also had a little cafe inside, which I probably should have visited, but alas, there were sights to see! Someday when I am rich and famous I will spend more time on this street and the cafe will be my headquarters.

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I walked down the entire district and ended up at the Louvre glass pyramids. I had been previously had spent the better part of four hours in there the last time so I decided to skip it for this trip. However, it did remind me of the time when I went with my parents and sister. My parents left me in charge of 10-year-old Tara (who looked 7) while they went to figure out tickets for our next attraction. All around the glass pyramids there are ponds with ducks. Anyone who has met or knows of my sister probably knows about her love of animals. There are ducks everywhere on the ponds so she was just minding her own business looking at the ducks when all of a sudden an Asian family swooped in a scooped her up and started walking away with my baby sister! Thirteen year old, gothic Savannah was not as assertive as you might think and I was stumped on what to do. I sort of followed them at a concerned pace until I realized they thought she was a cute, french child that would be perfect for their family portrait. They sat her in their family picture, put her down, and walked away without a word. I was never more scared/amused in my life. Fortunately, Marc and Sarah soon returned and I did not get into trouble (my main concern). Tara and I have laughed about that for years. I can just imagine a gigantic blow up of this picture on some random family’s wall hanging there for the past 12 years.

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I like to book tours especially when I’ve already seen most main sites and want a different perspective from an insider. They also take the pressure off of me trying to figure out where I am going for the day/driving. God knows I avoid driving in foreign countries at all costs. I just get flashbacks to watching my parent’s honeymoon video of my dad driving around the Arc de Triumph, videotaping with one of those gigantic 80’s film cameras, narrating, and my mom screaming bloody murder. You need dramamine just to watch the tape. I will not be a part of any driving accident abroad if I can help it. It also doesn’t help that my manual transmission driving skills leave a lot to be desired. Marc took it upon himself to teach me in his Z06 Corvette around the North Texas Motor Speedway a few years ago… let’s just say it didn’t end with flying colors on my part.

My tour for that random site-seeing day was dinner at the Eiffel Tower followed by a show at the Moulin Rouge! I was pretty hyped since this was my first “adult” thing to do in Paris since both previous trips I was barely in high school. Let me save you the trip: it’s basically a dated Vegas show with nothing you haven’t already seen. I’m not going to lie, it’s going to be really cool to say I went, actually going is a different story. Save your money. Dinner at the Eiffel Tower was also pretty cool, but I think I would rather book it on my own next time now that I’ve done it. I had read a lot of travel blogs who hyped it up a lot so I had one image in my mind, but it was actually very different. Because it was a tour and we are on a time schedule there was just a set menu that everyone got (which was good, don’t get me wrong), but probably wasn’t what I would order if I was there as just a normal patron. I will put it on my list to return next time, but it will most likely be for lunch and not on a tour.  The tour was fun though and it was nice being taken all of these places on a comfortable coach bus and skipping lines. You know how much I love living the VIP life.

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The next morning came very early for my Normandy tour. Fortunately, the meet-up spot was right down the street from my apartment, which made my early morning, anxiety-ridden walk that much easier. Our tour guide, Felix, was a very friendly and knowledgable former history teacher from Croatia. I enjoy having tour guides who aren’t from the actual city since they are most of the time not biased the way nationals would be. That being said nationals/locals should know the area really well in their own way and can offer different insights. I have been very fortunate to have really awesome tour guides most of the time so I could myself lucky. I usually book all of my tours through Viator. They have the best deals and always a wide selection to chose from. I’ve had issues with tours not being available on the dates that I want, but that’s usually my fault for looking last minute. (again: not sponsored)

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We left Paris for Normandy around 7am. I am pretty good about sleeping anywhere and everywhere so I slept the majority of the way to our first site, which was the farthest away. The bus was fairly small and didn’t have Wi-Fi (my major complaint) so sleeping was my best alternative. I do have data for some reason in all of these places, which I am sure my cell phone company is going to remind me about on my next bill even though I am on an international plan. I tried to get a portable Wi-Fi device, but even if a country is in the EU that doesn’t mean that their data plans transfer from country to country. That makes no sense to me and in this day and age with international travel being so prevalent this needs to change steps off soap box.

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Our first stop was a gas (petrol) station for breakfast and a leg stretch. We hopped back on and pretty soon were at our first site, Utah Beach. Not going to lie, I am not the biggest history buff. All of my family, that I know of, survived WW2 and no one was stationed in France so I have no personal ties to these historical sites in that way even though I did have several serve in other capacities. We did have one veteran on the trip (he hates Trump) so that was interesting especially since Felix was a history professor so he had his own personal questions, which made for a lively discussion on the bus during our “down time”. After Utah Beach we drove past a German cemetery where all of the graves were buried vertically to save space since it was such a small cemetery. After this we went to a Cidery (my favorite part) and learned about the history of the Cidery and the plans for the future. The owner just got FDA approval to sell in the US so I didn’t feel too bad that I couldn’t buy any at the moment #carryonproblems 

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After the Cidery we went to lunch in a nearby fishing village at a Michelin starred restaurant. I had probably the best Haddock I’ve ever had in my life and I am so glad I took a picture of the restaurant. I sat next to a father/son duo from Minnesota so we chatted about that for a bit since I had visited briefly in college at the Mall of America. I also discovered that there were two other Texan groups on the trip: one from Houston and the other from Forney (near Dallas)! Again, such a small world.

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After lunch we went to Pont du Hoc, which was not that far away, then to an American cemetery for their closing ceremonies where Teddy Roosevelt was buried, and then Omaha beach. We had a long drive back, but managed to stop back just in time for the Eiffel Tower to sparkle at 10pm. It was a great way to end the last night in Paris. 🙂

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Stay tuned for the rest of Europe!

-Savvy

Ireland Personal Travel

Leg One of Europe 2016 – London

After Dublin the plan is: London – Paris – Amsterdam – Berlin – Back to Dublin for a night – Texas. 

London: my parents took me here when I was 13, but that was 12 years ago. A lot can change in 12 years! I decided to do a highlights tour as well as hit up some of my favorites sites from last time. I had also never been to Buckingham Palace so this time I made up for it by accidentally going twice…

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Getting to London from Dublin COULD NOT BE EASIER. Ryanair is basically the European version of Spirit airlines (aka budget) and if you book your trip in advance (and on their app) the flight is 20 EURO…. Obviously I would be going EVERYWHERE if I lived here. That’s cheaper than a tank of gas just getting me around Dallas! The seats don’t go back, but the flight is 45 minutes; a small price to pay for such a deal! I will be using them later in the trip from Berlin to Dublin so stay posted on my feelings after a 3 hour flight…. The only issue is that Ryanair doesn’t fly into Heathrow, it flies into Gatwick. All you do is take a train from the airport into Victoria Station and then take either the Tube or a Taxi to wherever you need to go.

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I stayed in the Hampton Inn in Waterloo (thank you, Hilton points and Gold status!). Honestly, it was way nicer than I thought it was going to be. Also, the included breakfast was probably one of the best free breakfasts that I have ever had at a hotel, domestic or foreign. I would totally stay here again (not a sponsored post btw). It was really close to the Waterloo Tube station as well as most major sites. I totally did my fair share of walking, but I appreciated being so central to everything.

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I visited Harrods, Buckingham Palace (2x), the London Tower, London Bridge AND Tower Bridge (not the same thing!), a few cathedrals, saw some Roman ruins, had a wonderfully colorful British tour guide, and ended up getting to hang out with one of my friends from college! London was the shortest leg of the trip, but I made sure to pack in as much as I could.

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I had messaged my friend Alex about a month prior to the trip and asked for some recommendations. We met at Liberty in the HR cognant, both were in SHRM, and both worked at J. Crew. He has been living in London for the past few years and I caught him just in time since he is about to move back to the States! It worked out that he was free one of the nights I was going to be in town and asked me to go with him to the London outpost of Hillsong. I had actually never been to a Hillsong service even though they visit the Dallas area fairly often and I was actually in the Hillsong “neighborhood” back in the day on my Australian trip (never actually saw the campus though). It was such a great service and I was really happy I went. The guy speaking we are pretty sure spoke at Liberty our Sophomore year (I still need to verify the speaker schedule) and he also played the saxophone! He played “What a Wonderful World” and Justin Beiber’s song “Let Me Love You” (which my new little friend group and I continued to sing the rest of the night). After the service I was invited to tag along for dinner with Alex’s friends aka my new friends. We went to this Brazilian restaurant and stayed for a super long time just laughing and talking. Almost everyone wasn’t from London and I actually met someone who went to the same high school as my cousin! It truly is a small world. If I ever get to come back to Dublin/London I know who to call 🙂

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London was a great couple of days and, per usual, I wish I could stay longer. I could totally see myself living in London, especially once I figure out the Tube system!

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Stay tuned for the rest of Europe!

-Savvy

Personal

2016 Goals!

Hey Everyone!

If you known me for at least several years you’ve probably seen my weight fluctuate anywhere within the range of 30 pounds. I have PCOS (PolyCystic Ovarian Syndrome), hypothyroidism, and adrenal fatigue. These factors together along with stress, bad eating habits, genetics, etc have resulted in my life-long struggle with my weight. I’ve always been that chubby kid even though I played every sport my small school offered as well as danced ballet/tap/hip hop outside of school for many years. I’ve tried a variety of diets with varying successes and failures ever since 8th grade.

Even though I’m only 25 I’ve definitely noticed my metabolism slowly dying and felt helpless against my own body.  It really makes you feel helpless when you’ve been with a personal trainer for 5 months while watching what you ate and at the end you’ve gained three pounds…. #notcool

When I was a freshman in college my dad (who has also had his own weight issues) went on Medifast and lost 40 pounds! He looked completely different when he came to pick me up at the end of Spring semester. Within the sphere of my community I started to see more and more people joining the Take Shape for Life movement (which uses Medifast) and having awesome results. Almost a year ago I decided to give it a shot. I had just had a terrible doctor’s appointment where they were basically telling me that I was on the brink of being pre-diabetic, which would then put me at risk for a multitude of other future health problems. I felt like I had nothing less to lose so what the heck, why not?

My friend Michelle became my health coach since she had already gone through the program and wanted to help other people with their health journeys. I reached out to her at first just with some general questions about the program since I had a small knowledge of it from my dad. It seemed pretty simple and would fit my lifestyle. I chose the 5 and 1 plan where I eat 5 of their meals a day and then one healthy meal on my own. That one is referred to as a “Lean and Green”. Each of their products is between 100-110 calories and comes complete with a ton of vitamins and minerals that your body has been needing.

I started it and immediately started losing weight. I had just seen some friends the weekend before I started the program for a pub crawl (healthy way to start, I know). I saw them three weeks later for a birthday party and had already lost 15 pounds. People didn’t even know that I had been starting something, but they were all like WOAH WHAT HAPPENED. After that initial weight loss it did slow a bit and then I had some life stuff happen so the weight loss slowed and stalled for a bit due entirely to my choices. I would be really good for a few weeks and then kinda fall back into some of my old ways.

However, within all of that I have lost 36 pounds in almost a year and feel the best I have in a long time. I’m off of caffeine (essential to people with thyroid problems and adrenal fatigue), which as a coffee-lover is really sad, but good for my body and my teeth. I’m drinking so much water it’s insane.  I PEE ALL OF THE TIME (tmi??), but I feel amazing. My skin looks better than ever #praise I aim to drink at least a gallon of water per day. I read that everyone needs to drink half their body weight in ounces per day. For example, if you weigh 200 pounds, then you should drink at least 100 ounces of water. That may sound like a lot, but if you have a reusable water bottle that you carry along with you all day then it’s really not that hard. I drink between 16-24 ounces on my commute to work every morning, around a gallon at work, and then an estimate 32 ounces at night. Tip: try to stop drinking an hour before bed or else you’ll have to get up in the middle of the night.

You may say to yourself that 36 pounds isn’t that much. I would argue that for someone with the weight loss issues I’ve had that 36 is better than nothing. 36 is less than what I weighed last year. The end goal right now is 80 and I am aiming for July. It’s scary to put that out there on the internet for whomever chooses to view it, but that is yet another thing to motivate me. On my old blog from college I wrote about trying Visalus, which my roommate had used to get amazing results. It didn’t do much for me, sadly, as did Plexus, which I also tried with no success.

In all honesty, it should have been more by now. It is entirely my fault for getting sidetracked once in awhile, but with the start of the new year I have rekindled my passion for changing my life. I’ve made a lot of changes and tried some new things these past two months. So far 2016 has been challenging, but totally awesome. I am really excited to document the rest of the year with some trips I have planned, changes I’m making, and my weight loss journey.

After I had lost around 20 pounds it was time to go back and get my blood work done again. I passed with flying colors and that was the first doctor’s visit where I didn’t leave crying that I had had in a long time. Best feeling ever. That is what we like to call a #nonscalevictory

I would also like to point out several things though that I don’t want people to misconstrue from my personal life. I am in no way ashamed of the way I looked 36 pounds ago. I did this because my health was starting to spiral out of control and I didn’t want to end up with diabetes and heart disease. I am very body positive and just because you are a larger person does not automatically mean that you are unhealthy. One of my inspirations is plus-size model Tess Holliday. She is nowhere near the “normal” model size, yet has been signed by an agency and is a leader for the body-acceptance movement. Ashley Graham has also recently made a big move by being one of the first plus sized models to be features in the latest Sports Illustrated swimsuit magazine. I am proud to say the least. It has bothered me for a long time that the media only portrays one type of beauty when that’s not real life and that’s not even what a lot of people prefer. Beauty isn’t this one-size-fits all thing. It’s also more than skin-deep, which is also forgotten most of the time.

This is going to be an ongoing thing. I don’t know if I will reach the goal by July, but eventually I will reach the goal. I feel like putting this out there for the world will potentially help me stay on track with everything. Not gonna lie, sometimes it’s hard. I go to birthday parties and I can’t eat the food or drink the wine. Week days are way easier, but sometimes weekends kill me. I enjoy schedules and this diet works really well with that since you eat small meals every few hours. Weekends don’t always lend themselves to set schedules…. There are many pre-prepared snacks that are very portable and I usually keep a box of snack bars in my car just in case there is a change of plans. Always plan ahead!

If you have any questions about the diet or you’re thinking about about trying it out let me know! I would love to be your health coach even though I am still going through this journey. I can relate to your struggles and be someone for you to call/text when the struggle gets too real.

Thanks for listening and let me know if you wanna chat! 

-Savvy

 

Dallas Personal

Free DryBar!

Happy New Year, Gentle Readers!

You read my title right… I was the recipient of *free* Dry Bar!

What is Dry Bar you ask and how did I get this wonderful treatment free? Well let me tell ya….

Dry Bar is a special new type of salon that only does washes and blow outs. “No cuts. No color. Just blowouts” is their motto. I’ve been going for several years now ever since they came to Dallas. My usual spot is the one conveniently placed in North Park. However, a brand new location just opened in Grapevine (fairly close to my work)!

I had tried to get a walk-in appointment at the Plano location a few weeks ago on a whim, but they couldn’t get me right away so I vowed to return again soon. Fortunately, the very next morning I awoke to an email from DryBar telling me about this new promotion ABC Family’s “Pretty Little Liars” was hosting: FREE BLOW OUTS! Of course the site crashed and the app wasn’t working to make a booking, but never fear,  as a former call center employee I am not afraid of calling the help number. After being on hold for a little bit I managed to get two appointments, one for me and one for Tara, at the Grapevine location for that Tuesday. Saving $40 and not having to do my own hair for a few days? Heck yesssss.

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The salon is right off 114 next to Jimmy John’s, Uncle Julio’s, and In-N-Out burger. It is, in my opinion, a little bit nicer and bigger than the one in NorthPark. The location in Plano is much smaller compared to this one. We got there a little bit early, which ended up working out really well. Apparently a lot of people ended up canceling their appointments so they were able to see us right away!

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My stylist was AWESOME. He is probably one of the best ones I had ever had at Dry Bar. He normally works at the Highland Park location and had some wonderful stories about all of the ultra-wealthy of Dallas. Apparently some lady who makes hair extensions frequents that location, gets drunk off of the free wine, and “makes it rain” dollar bills while she is standing on the counter. I need to witness this at some point in the near future.

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Tara hardly ever gets her hair done for fear of the blow dryer making her hair even bigger than it normally is. The skillful hands of her Dry Bar-ista (not sure that’s a correct term, but I’m running with it) her hair looked like a cotton-candy daydream. I think she is now a believer in the Bar. See for yourself!

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After we got our blow outs we treated ourselves to some yummy sushi at Sushi Sam in Southlake. My salmon sashimi was divine 🙂 The powerball was coming up for 1.4 billion and we have both never bought lottery tickets before so of course we needed to make a pit stop at the gas station. We met some interesting characters also buying tickets.

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And that is the story about how I got Dry Bar for free 🙂 This is not a sponsored post and anyone who made an appointment that day also received the same treatment. I was not compensated, I just love Dry Bar.

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Happy Reading!

-Savvy

Dallas Personal

Dallas Holiday Adventures

Hello Readers!

I know I’ve already posted about the end of the year, but I had a few more things to add before we close the book on 2015.

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My sister, Tara, is home from school. She goes to Liberty University where I also graduated from, but is transferring to TWU. She is a yoga teaching vegan who is studying to be a dietician. She is also becoming a Doula in her spare time. We enjoy exploring all that Dallas has to offer and sometimes our mom comes along for the ride.

The other day mom and I got pedicures (Tara opted out) and then decided to hit up Dallas for some tacos and thrifting.

I had to take them to one of my all-time favorite places right outside of Uptown called Velvet Taco. No matter what time of day I go it is always bustling with people. They have a wall of options and then every week they have a new taco to try. My favorites are the Tikka Masala Chicken tacos and the Fried Oyster tacos, but all of the other ones I have tried I enjoyed. If you wanna grab a side they also have these awesome potatoes, tater tots with an egg on top, or mexican street-style corn. They are famous for their Red Velvet Cake (which I have yet to try). They also have Margaritas and a nice beer selection. I highly recommend you go try them out, but be forwarned that there might be a wait. My favorite/worst time to go is right before all of the bars close (2am). Its super packed, but that is exactly when you need a taco. Since you’re in Uptown, Taco Bell or Taco Bueno is just not going to cut it. I’ve yet to try Fuel City Tacos, but I’ve heard they are also hard to beat. Those will just have to wait for a future post.

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During our outing we also ventured to…..

The Gypsy Wagon: an awesome store right down the street from Velvet Taco

Dolly Python: The best oddities/vintage/antique shop in Dallas! (I’m sure there will be more posts on this)

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Of course I also have to mention that the moment I have been waiting for for like 10 years finally happend!!! STAR WARSSSSS!!!

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My friends bought a group of tickets so on December 18th at 10:30pm in NorthPark Center AMC, I got to witness the newest Star Wars film to grace our presence. It was magical. I’m going to have to go see it again just to be able to appreciate the greatest that is Star Wars + Disney + JJ Abrams.

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Since this is a new year and the holidays are over I have gone back on my diet (which will be discussed in another post) so to celebrate my last meal I had to go to one of my favorite sandwich shops! I took Tara on a jaunt to IKEA and then, since we were so close to Plano, we went ahead to East Hampton Sandwich Co.  They have tons of east coast inspired yummyness. Head on over to the site and check out the menu and the locations. I got the Crab Avo Club this time, but the Lobster Roll or Fried Chicken Jack are also big winners in my book. Bring some friends and get a pitcher of the Sangria (or go alone and drink the whole thing by yourself). It’s right next to the Dry Bar so make an afternoon of it!

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Go see my next post about the wonders of Dry Bar 🙂

Happy Reading!

-Savvy

Dallas Personal

2015 Recap

Happy New Year, Readers! 

I hope your 2015 was amazing and everything you wanted it to be.

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Here is a recap of a few exciting things that happened in 2015:

  • Went to IrelandIowa, San Francisco, and Austin
  • Bridesmaid in Lauren’s wedding in May
  • Took two cooking classes
  • Saw several of my friends get engaged
  • Created new friendships, let some old ones go
  • Ran a 5k
  • Lost 30 pounds
  • Explored more of Dallas, Denton, and Ft. Worth (plus surrounding areas)
  • Started this blog!
  • Had some professional victories
  • Saw Maroon 5 in concert
  • Celebrated Galentine’s!
  • Went to a Murder Mystery Dinner
  • Celebrated many friend’s birthdays as well as my 24th birthday

There were so many highs and lows to this year, but I can definitely say I learned a TON and hopefully will be taking some new habits into 2016.

Some goals for 2016:

  • Run another 5k (and potentially a half marathon)
  • Lose 50 more pounds
  • Pay off my couch and eliminate unnecessary spending
  • Spend more time with my dog and my friends
  • Focus more on my blog and professional goals
  • Travel to Ireland and Italy, hopefully Virginia and Colorado, potentially some other places
  • Celebrate my 25th Birthday!
  • Get back into reading at least one book a month
  • Start the MBA process
  • Take better care of my skin {even though that might mean no more tanning ;(}
  • Cook more (since I got new pots and pans for Hanukkah!)

I am sure there are other things that I would like to accomplish for 2016, but honestly I think this list will cover the whole year and then some. I am already trying to figure out how to prioritize my life for these next 12 months.

Holiday Recap

I had a great Hanukkah, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve. There was so much going on in such a short time frame, so sorry for the lack of updates (because I know everyone cares so much lol). I blogged a little bit about Hanukkah already so I won’t bother your with more of that.

Christmas went well. My sister came back to town and will be here for a whole month so we’ve been hanging out. She made me these really cute little embroideries for my travel wall in my house so my best friend came over and helped me hang them along with some other house stuff. I will have to post a house tour on here in a few weeks when I FINALLY finish my Travel Wall in my living room/dining room. I’ve only lived there for almost a year and a half….. no big deal. 😉 We went to my Grandma’s house and I hung out with my little second cousin, Liesel. She is seriously the cutest/happiest baby ever. I’m in love.

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We have so many people in such a small house so my sister ended up getting the special chair in the Annexed part of the house next to an extra table.

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We were tired of having the same food for Thanksgiving and then just a few weeks later for Christmas so we decided to add some Mexican flair since a good portion of my family is Hispanic.

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For New Year’s Eve I was supposed to go out in Uptown with some of my friends. Unfortunately I got kinda sick the day before and it has lasted several days. So last night I ended up just going down the street to Julia’s house and playing games with her, her family, and some significant others, which was exactly what I needed. We had a really great time and I got to see some of her siblings that I don’t normally see. This morning my dad made New Year’s Day brunch since I decided to spend the night.

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Karma and I tried to get it together in time to make a Christmas card this year, but it’s going to end up being more like a New Year’s card (if I even hand them out) (probably not, let’s be honest).

We both wish all of you happiness for the New Year! Let’s make 2016 the best yet!

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