Weekend Getaway to Paris

Twenty years ago, it would have proven difficult to seamlessly plan a trip for six people traveling from various locations all over the world to meet in one city for a long weekend. Luckily, we are not living in a time where this is difficult anymore. With the constant evolution of technology and communication via the internet, the six of us were able to fly from San Diego, Boston, London and Madrid to stay for a long weekend in the beautiful city of Paris. I am going to share with you some of the tools that we used to make our travel smooth sailing while sharing with you some incredible panoramic shots of Paris taken by my friend Kyle.

Firstly, staying in Paris is expensive. Before you assume that hostels will be your cheapest option take a look at airbnb. It is a website that allows homeowners to rent out their apartment for a designated period of time, giving vacationers all the amenities of being at home while being away. This is a great option for groups and allows you to save money on food if you are willing to cook a couple nights in.

Another bothersome point when planning group travel is tracking all your expenses and splitting them accordingly. I don’t know about you, but one of the last things I want to do during vacation is figure out the most efficient way to calculate who owes who what money. A tool that we found useful is splitwise (I even use it for day to day costs between my roommates). It allows you to add expenses or payments to an online platform that splits them accordingling amongst your group. You can avoid the headache of doing the math of owing 6 separate people money. It does it for you. Splitwise makes the expense division as simple as possible, all while keeping records of your costs.

Hopefully you find these tips helpful. Planning group travel really isn’t as daunting of a task as it once was.  Try out these tools for your next trip. If you have any tips on how to make group travel easier, let us know. There will be much more travel in the future.

8 Comments

Filed under France

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I hope you are filling your houses with drool-causing smells and are about to embark on an epic adventure of taste bud fulfillment and dangerously full stomachs. This is my second year celebrating Thanksgiving in Spain (you can read a bit about my first one, here and here). The traditional turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, apple sauce, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie have been carefully prepared by yours truly with the help/overseeing of my male roommates. Due to conflicting schedules we decided to hold this delicious holiday in my household on Wednesday (hence the premature pictures). But no worries I am lucky enough to be celebrating this twice, both Wednesday and Thursday. So enjoy your company, watch some football, and EAT some incredible food. Cheers!

2 Comments

Filed under Food

Funding Your Dreams

A lot of you have asked me, how am I able to pay for all the traveling that I do. Well, that is a multi-part answer. I do have to admit that I have been very lucky to have parents that are very supportive of my travels (for example: my August Eurotrip this past year). However, I have funded a good portion of my travels and my education. What does it take: work+work+work (lots of hours), understanding/maneuvering of the system (in terms of finding great travel deals), and taking advantage of scholarships that are available to you. So with that in mind, I am writing this post to ask for your help.

Please click on either the picture above or the link below and “like” + “tweet” my painting. I have entered the Make Art. Save Art. Scholarship by the non-profit organization Do Something. The winner will receive a scholarship and a donation to their respective university to support art education. The link is below:

http://www.dosomething.org/make-art-save-art/gallery/only-your-soul-can-secede

Thank you for all your support and help!

Cheers.

-Samantha

4 Comments

Filed under Travel

David

If you have ever studied art history, Michelangelo’s David probably came up in a discussion or two.  Its true, it is an absolutely incredible piece to see. 15 feet of pure marble carved into man form without the computerized sandblasting technology that we have today. Only be advised, Florence decided to be tricky when it comes to seeing the real David. There are multiple Davids in Florence. The real David can be found in Accademia di Belle Arti where they forbid taking photos (though you can probably get one or two if you are sneaky enough). If you do not want to stand in line to see the original, there is a copy of the statue in the original location in front of the Palazzo Vecchio.

 

(Unfortunately these were the only photos I took, which means you need to visit Florence and see it for yourself.)

2 Comments

Filed under Eurotrip, Italy

Leaning Tower of Pisa

When I was little I remember joking around about the Leaning Tower of Pizza. I think I got that from the show Rugrats or something, however since then, I figured I couldn’t go to Italy and NOT see the Leaning tower of Pisa or just the Torre di Pisa as the locals call it. If you haven’t heard yet, I will tell you now…in my opinion (and the opinion of many others) Pisa is a city worth doing a day trip to (more like a couple hours to). Do not stay there over night or for more than a day if you value your precious time in Italy. When I visited, I took a train from Florence to Luca where I explored the city for 5 or 6 hours and then took another train to Pisa for an addition 2 hours. By nightfall we were back in Florence and relaxing with a bottle of wine.  Granted I only had a couple days however, there wasn’t much else going on in Pisa that I was aware of (though if you have recommendations, please let me know). But do go and see the tower, at least for the epic picture.

15 Comments

Filed under Eurotrip, Italy

Mykonos Windmills

As your boat cruises into the harbor and bounces along the choppy waters of Mykonos, large white windmills come into view as your eyes graze the coastline. The windmill is a renowned landmark of Mykonos, a beautiful island off the coast of Greece. Initially built in the 16th century by the Venetians, these windmills’ primary function was to mill wheat, which was used as a source of trade and income for the inhabitants of the island.  Nowadays the windmills are no longer in use (they ceased production in the 20th century) however they are continually restored as a symbol of the island and some have even been converted into museums.

13 Comments

Filed under Eurotrip, Greece

Lennon Wall

Wander down a back street by Grand Priory Square in Prague, pass by a bridge full of locks, and you’ll find yourself in front of the Lennon Wall (for more simple instructions you can use GPS on a phone like I did). The Lennon Wall, a cement wall covered with Lennon-inpired graffiti and Beatles quotes, is layered with paint symbolizing youth ideals of love and hope. Individuals have been painting this wall since the 1980s when Czechs used to write about injustices that later caused a clash between the outspoken youth and security police. The wall is constantly changing, but the message still remains the same. If you have a bit of spare time when in Prague, check out this collaborative artwork.

5 Comments

Filed under Czech Republic, Eurotrip

The Parthenon

Sometimes I feel like our brilliance (and by “our” I mean society today) is trumped by the grandeur accomplished in such structures as the Parthenon. The feeling you receive from being in the presence of such an august creation does not mirror the feeling you receive from any description of it in a paper, movie, photo or blog post. The Parthenon is a magnificent sight that everyone should witness at least once. You need to be next to it. You need to feel its vast presence; witness miles and miles of its incredible view over the city of Athens.

Have you had this experience? What made you pause….and think, “Wow, this is incredible.” Those are the moments we should seek. These are the moments that make you strive for more. Hopefully you have had many. This was one of mine.

16 Comments

Filed under Eurotrip, Greece

Horseback through Chianti

Since I am back to the reality of going back to school to finish my degree and thesis, travel has been on a halt. However, I have a multitude of adventures to share with you.

One of the most memorable and whimsical experiences I had during my Eurotrip was horseback riding through the Chianti region of Italy.  A slight breeze sang through the vines and brushed through my hair as we rode amongst the valleys of the vineyards. The sun shone bright on the land interrupted by the occasional whipping of the horses tail creating a shadow dance on the gravel below. The calm nature of the horses made even the most inexperienced rider at ease. And with a small group of four, the tour’s intimate feeling allowed us to listen and learn all about the Italian wine.

I highly recommend this tour if you visit the Tuscany region. This particular tour (you can see more information here) leaves from downtown Florence and provides all the transportation needed for the day. You enjoy an hour ride through the vineyards, a wine tasting of different varieties, a delicious pasta lunch finished with fresh gelato. It was a perfect way to spend a Sunday.

3 Comments

Filed under Eurotrip, Italy, Travel

Fall is here

Summer is officially over and fall has come upon us. Goodbye summer dresses and hello crunchy leaves and crisp autumn air. Lets hope for some great travel adventures.

Photos courtesy of Lisa Kurth

3 Comments

Filed under San Diego