New Orleans is magical!

I spent my birthday weekend  in Nola. I needed a fun, but quick getaway and at only a 6 hour drive away New Orleans seemed perfect. And it was.
I spent 4 days and 3 night in that magical town. Exploring the neighborhoods, eating so much amazing food, visiting museums, meeting new people, listening to live jazz and blues, shopping, drinking, and just relaxing and enjoying a new city.
I won’t bore you with every single detail of my trip, but I will give you my top 3!

Drinks at the Carousel bar!

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Carousel bar is a located in the lobby of Hotel Monteleone. The bar includes a piano bar in the back with comfy booths and a faux-starlit sky on the ceiling, but the main draw for me was the actual carousel bar where the bar gets its name from.  Yep! This bar has a working vintage carousel with a bar in the center. I was told that it was hard to get a seat at the actual carousel, but I was lucky and got one of those coveted 25 seats! The carousel doesn’t move very fast, only making one full rotation every 15 minutes. I got two of their signature cocktails-a Pimm’s cup and a Vieux Carre. I enjoyed the drinks and the atmosphere of the place. i can see why it was frequented by literary greats Faulkner, Hemingway, and Tennessee Williams.

Mardi Gras Indian parade

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The Mardi Gras Indians are a group of black carnival revelers in New Orleans. They perform during Mardi Gras and on Super Sunday/Saint Joseph’s Day. I had no idea who the Mardi Gras Indians were or what Saint Joseph’s Day was, but my Uber drivers, bartenders, store owners all mentioned it as something worth seeing, so I went!
It wasn’t very organized like a proper parade. It felt more like a gathering or a block party, which I enjoyed! Waves of people hanging out, eating, and drinking crowded the street. Every 10 minutes or so, a group(tribe) of Mardi Gras Indians would walk down the street in amazing giant feathered costumes playing drums. The crowd would part to let them do their thing dancing along with them and after that was done, the crowd would go back to hanging out until the next group arrived.

Le Pig Mac

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I had the most amazing sandwich from Cochon Butcher. Le Pig Mac-2 all Pork Patties, Special Sauce, Lettuce, Cheese, Pickle, Onion on Sesame Bun
I mean…do I need to say anything about this sandwich?!
Just looking at that pic makes me want to drive back! I love New Orleans and can’t wait to go back again.

London, 2015

Every year I take a solo trip to celebrate my birthday. Last year I went to Barcelona and this year I flew to London. I spent a week there and it was definitely not enough time to experience the city, but I did as much as I could. I went to some museums, toured some palaces, went on one of those double decker bus tours (very informative!), ate fish and chips (AND NANDOS!), cream tea at The Dorchester, and managed to fit in a game of Magic the Gathering at a Friday Night Magic. And of course a very enchanting visit to  the Harry Potter Studios Tour!

I’m usually more wordy on a travel post, but it’s been 5 months and my memory is a bit rusty. So, here are some photos.




Wizard World Comic Con Philadelphia

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I just got back from a last minute trip to Philadelphia for Wizard World Comic Con Philadelphia with my boyfriend and two other friends. We had a great time exploring Philly, eating, drinking, and nerding out at the con. I saw so much great cosplay. My favorites were the lovely lady dressed as Dee from Rat Queens and Gossamer from Looney Tunes. You know the one! The orangey-red monster with the hair! It was such a creative costume that made me smile every single time I ran into him at the convention. Seeing all of the costumes totally inspired me  to actually complete one for myself. Now to narrow it down to one character.

Gaudi, Gaudi, Gaudi!

Day 3

Day 3 is the day that I dedicated to Gaudi. I didn’t want to spend all my time in Barcelona in Gaudi museums so I decided to see the iconic Park Guell, La Sagrada Familia and one museum. Based on reviews and pictures, I chose Casa Batllo. Casa Batllo, a house redesigned by Gaudi, is one of his many masterpieces. It was  commissioned by the well known (in Barcelona) Batllo family and Gaudi was given complete creative freedom.

Casa Batllo facade
The balconies look like skeletal faces!
Before entering the building I spent some time admiring the outside. You probably can’t tell from my photo, but the facade is covered in mosaic of all colors. The facade of the house is so strange to me with all of its windows and oddly shaped balconies. I’ve heard the balconies compared to bats and masks, but I think they look like little skeletal faces. What do you think?

Exploring the inside of Casa Batllo was like exploring an underwater wonderland in some parts and walking through the inside of an animal in others. I know that sounds odd, but that’s what it felt like for me! It was a very fantastical building with surprises at every corner. I was walking through an open room full of windows, turned the corner and SURPRISE! A gorgeous courtyard covered in mosaic and colorful tiled floor. My favorite part of the whole tour was the rooftop.A great open space which gave lovely views of Barcelona and was covered in colorful chimneys and the “dragon spine”.  It took me 2 hours to get through the tour of the house using the audio guide. I’ve read reviews saying not to take the audio and just explore at your own leisure, but I highly recommend the audio if you visit! It gives you a behind the scene history on every inch of the house. And after you take the audio tour, you can take the time to explore the house without it! I definitely recommend this tour to anyone who wants to get an inside look into one of Gaudi’s masterpieces!

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Park Guell

After Casa Batllo, I met up with my new friend Nick  to head to Park Guell. Park Guell is one of the most iconic sites from Antoni Gaudi and the one I was looking forward to seeing the most. It’s a very large park and is now a part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site “Works of Antoni Gaudí”. Entrance to the park is free, but to see the main part which include the famous buildings, monuments and mosaics, you have to pay a fee.  Nick and I packed a lunch of bread, cheese, and wine and had a picnic in the park area! It was quite lovely! Be warned, the hike to Park Guell is super steep. I mean, super steep! I had to take a breather about halfway up!  Pack your trainers and leave the nice shoes at home!

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Days 4 and 5 

The last 2 days were full of hanging like the locals did and a bit of touristy stuff too. I ate tons of tapas, danced the nights away, visited the beach even though it was far too cold, skate parks, went on a self-guided tour of the Gothic Quarter and took a pay what you can walking tour. I totally recommend these tours. They’re very informative and I was enjoy them. I try to take one in every city I visit.

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I had a great time in Barcelona. I already can’t wait to plan my next adventure. Istanbul is really high on my list! What’s on yours?

Barcelona!

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2 weeks ago I went to Barcelona for 5 days. I It was a blast and you get to hear alllllll about it 🙂

*taken from my travel journal*

DAY 1

Hola! Barcelona, Spain! This is my first international trip since Toronto in 2010. I can’t believe I’ve been so stationary for so long. Well, this trip sparked my wanderlust and I’m ready to be an adventurer again!

I decided to go to Barcelona at the spur of the moment. No planning, just booked the flight. I only knew a few things of Barcelona before I arrived and I was super excited to learn more. The first day I was completely exhausted. I usually fall asleep as soon as the plane takes off, but I couldn’t fall asleep on the 7 hour flight. So, I watched movies and played Animal Crossing until I landed in Barcelona. I was so exhausted when I arrived in Barcelona. I took the train to my hostel, checked in and slept until the evening. When I woke up, I met up with 2 Couchsurfing (CS) members for drinks and tapas in the center.  It was a Tuesday night, but the city center was still bustling with activity.

 

 

Day 2

Wednesday! I woke up super early today to go to Els Encants Vells- Barcelona’s largest flea market. Encants Vells is only open Monday, Wednesday and Friday every week. I’m a big fan of vintage and antiques so I was super stoked to get to visit a Spanish market. The market was HUGE and very crowded, but it didn’t have anything that really caught my eye. I was a little disappointed in their selection There were antiques, little souvenirs, but mostly vendors just sold little things you could get from anywhere! Still, I wandered around and had a churro while I explored.

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After Els Encants Vells, I wandered over to La Sagrada Familia. The incomplete, yet beautiful church designed by Antoni Gaudi.  I opted not to go in, but walked around and enjoyed its beauty from outside. It’s truly a wonder with it’s gothic, but modern design, tall spires and beautiful facades. If I’m ever in Barcelona again, I will definitely see the inside. I took a virtual tour when I arrived back home and I kicked myself in the butt for not seeing it. It’s just as beautiful on the inside as it is from the outside.

I spent more time walking around the area exploring and met a traveler from Australia. We just started talking and hit it off and ended up spending the rest of the afternoon together.  We had coffee/churros and shared stories while we wandered around Barcelona. That evening I said farewell to my new friend and headed to Sabadell, Spain, a city about 30 minutes North of Barcelona,to have dinner with my friend Laura and her family. We had  a delicious traditional Catalan dinner and I enjoyed  spending time with her mother, grandmother, and cousin for the evening. Laura’s grandmother kept raiding the fridge and cabinets to find interesting new foods for me to try. It’s amazing I still had an appetite for dinner.

Days 3-5 are a bit picture heavy, so I’ll share them tomorrow.

/fallbreak

Today is the last day of my fall break. I had a week away from teaching the little ones. It was good. Didn’t complete any of the tasks I wanted to, but I relaxed, caught up on some TV shows and got a lot of rest. That’s what breaks are for, right?!

In the beginning of the week, my boyfriend and I spent some time in his hometown of Ravenswood, West Virginia. It’s a teensy little town with a population of only 4,000. We spent the days running around visiting his family and the nights drinking and hanging out with friends. We had a good time. I always love visiting West Virginia in the fall.  Most of the state is covered in trees in bright orange, greens, and reds. It made the 5 hour drive from Indiana quite scenic. Here’s a few photos I snapped while we were there.