Hostel Life

I wanted to do a little rundown of all our favorite hostels on our Europe trip! Be aware that while the per night prices include taxes, almost every hostel also had a service charge and tourist tax. It wasn’t much, but did add up! Prices also tend to go up on the weekend–when we stayed over a weeknight and weekend, I just took the average.

Where to Stay When You're Backpacking


Athens–apartment: we stayed in Eleni’s beautiful Athenian apartment. We loved having the space! It was super close to the Metro, just a few stops away from the Acropolis, and check. out. our view from the balcony patio! She was lovely and so helpful!

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Rate: split between 4 people, €12/night


Santorini–Stelio’s Place: Stelio’s is located on Perissa Beach, on the end of the island from Oia and Fira (middle of the main island). There’s a bus stop right across the street and apparently the bus system is super easy to use! (It is an island, after all.) It’s hostel pricing for what is virtually a hotel on the beach–there were actually several other people our age staying there. We. loved. it. We had a three-bed room, but they set up a cot for our fourth person. The hostel is run by Stelios (he picked us up at the airport!) and his daughter. We also met his wife while we were staying there–everyone was so kind and helpful!

The view from the beach right outside our hotel.

Rate: for a 4 bed, €15/night


Rome–Camping Fabulous: honestly, they messed up and upgraded us to a “bungalow” and if it hadn’t been for that…I think we might have hated it. It’s pretty far outside of the city (and charged an absurd amount for the shuttle from the airport), but the bus was fairly simple to figure out. It’s incredibly cheap though, which can be difficult to find in Rome. If you don’t mind a bus + Metro ride to get anywhere, it’s a good money saver.

Rate: for a 2 bed dorm, €8/night

(We laughed for days about how our dinner was more than our one night in Rome.)


Venice–airbnb: Our only airbnb of the trip and it was so worth it! We had booked a spot at a camping site, but this actually ended up being so much cheaper that we took a taxi everywhere but to the train station. The instructions for the metro were a little confusing but ended up being super easy to use. The people who own it are also the sweetest!!!

Rate: split between 4 people, ~$20/night


Salzburg–Yoho International Hostel: this was our first true hostel experience of the trip and it was probably one of the best. It’s pretty centrally located (or at least in walking distance of everything) and so cute inside!

Rate: we had to split up between a 4 bed and an 8 bed, but the average was €15/person/night


Vienna, Munich, Amsterdam–Meininger Hotels: we accidentally booked the same hostel chain three different places and, fortunately, loved them all! None of them were very central to the main town, except for Vienna where we could walk to the Old Town, but they were all very high quality! They advertise themselves as the urban traveler’s hotel–a bit of a mix between hostel and hotel. Great price and we enjoyed all of our stays with them.

Rate:
Vienna: 4 bed private, €20/night
–for what it’s worth, when we didn’t catch our bus, we spent one night in Wombat’s and liked it a lot. It had much more of a “hostel” feel–loud bar, lots of younger people. Rate: 8bed dorm, €19/night

Munich: 14 bed dorm, €19.05/night

Amsterdam: 7 bed dorm, ~€22/night


Paris–apartment: like I mentioned in my Paris post, we stayed with some family friends in an apartment attached to their house. They are so helpful and kind and lovely–I cannot recommend their place enough! They’re a short metro ride outside Paris (the Parisian metro is so easy) and the town around is so nice.

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Brugge–St. Christopher’s Inn: this hostel was nice and definitely within walking distance. The bus was easy to catch to and from the train station and dropped us right outside. The 16 bed was a little large, but all the beds had curtains you could shut with private lights and outlets. With earplugs (because the room was next door to the bar), it was actually some of the best sleep I got on the trip.

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Rate: for a 16 bed dorm, ~€19.50/night


Dublin–Jacobs Inn: super close to Dublin, across the river from the Temple Bar area, and easily accessible! Free breakfast (which is ALWAYS a plus when you’re traveling) and lots of communal space. The kitchen was HUGE and it was right down the road from Tesco, so we cooked each night.

Rate: for a 12 bed female dorm, ~€19/night


Edinburgh–Phoenix I: We had been booked in the Phoenix II, which was just a little bit farther into the city, but because of maintenance issues, they moved us to Phoenix I. We loved this hostel. No bunk beds, huge ceilings, right on Princes St…it was incredible. We had beds in a 9 bed, but there was just one other girl in the room the entire time we were there. (Bless her heart, dealing with all of us.)

Rate: 9 bed dorm, £12/night


London–The Walrus: We shelled out for this one and it was. so. totally. worth. it. We could walk everywhere–not that we should have walked everywhere; lookin’ at you, our 15-mile day–and it wasn’t too loud. They’ve won awards for the staff quality and we could absolutely see why.

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Rate: 18 bed dorm, ~£19/night


Iceland–KEX: I’ve already raved about this hostel here and Iceland was the perfect way to end our trip. That said, it’s freaking expensive. And was totally worth it.

Rate: 16bed, ~$35/night


We did all of our booking through Hostelworld, Hostels.com, and Airbnb with great experiences each time. Our only criteria was that the hostels had to have higher than an 80% rating, but from there, our decision was mostly based on price. Except for the camping site in Rome–it wasn’t a bad experience, it would just have been nicer to be closer in–I would return everywhere we stayed.

Okay, I’m leaving now, because all this post made me want to do is travel again.

If you have any specific questions, feel free to leave a comment or message me on Facebook.

Weekend Wrap Up: July 26

“Close your eyes and imagine the best version of you possible. That’s what you really are; let go of any part of you that doesn’t believe it.”
– C Assad

{Video, 3 min.} Why You Should Be Drinking Shakeology Every Day: I just watched this the other day. It’s so good. This is the Beachbody CEO/co-founder of Shakeology talking about how it works and interacts with your body and also (my favorite) why it’s not like the other “protein shakes” on the market.

ED Recovery and Veganism: This post puts into words thoughts that I’ve been having for a while. I think some people want to be able to define a concrete “healthy diet”, when in my opinion, all we can have is an individual healthy relationship with food. Everyone’s bodies are different and we all have different needs (with most of the same basics).

I think the biggest difference I’ve noticed between eating vegan and restricting, for me, is that restricting was rigid. When restricting I didn’t care if it hurt me; these rules were more important than my wellbeing. When eating vegan, my wellbeing came first, and eating vegan was a part of my wellbeing rather than an opponent of it.

Yes, This Plus-Sized Model Looks Like a Runner. And I Do Too.This cover makes me so happy and this article about it was excellent.

These 20 schools are responsible for a fifth of all graduate school debt: If you need me, I’ll be crying into my pillow because NYU is currently my top choice for grad school.

Inspiration and Imperfection: Another one of my amazing Inspire Joy teammates–I feel like I talk about them all the time but I can’t help it because they are incredible–has stepped up to share a vulnerable part of her story in a major way. I am so, so proud of you, Tveen, and you are inspiring me every day!

Happy weekend!

July Little Things

It feels weird to not be blogging anymore and I’m not organized enough to have a different post ready, so I’m here just for a quick check-in.

Today kicked off with a bang. Our neighborhood had a gas leak, so we were evacuated at 7:30am–I didn’t even have my contacts in (and my glasses are in Austria or Germany somewhere…)! There’s not a lot to do in Newton that early (surprise), so we went for a walk in the park and then out to breakfast. So thankful for these guys–and that we can all stand to be around each other so much.

Being back to real life has been a bit of a strange adjustment. I hadn’t realized how much of a pattern we’d fallen into while traveling until it felt weird to sleep in and weird not to be eating out. Whoa. I’ve been organizing my Europe pictures and have had to pinch myself because now it feels like it was a dream.

My best friend Amanda and I were f i n a l l y reunited after almost 200 days apart. She flew back from her semester in Italy the day I left for Europe and between both of our internships, it took almost a week for us to reconnect. Tooooo long. (Also now she’s in Costa Rica without me. I hate her.)

I’ve finished my second week (of three) at my new internship–mentioned in my last post–and I love it so much. It’s in an admissions office at a local university. The office is great and the people have been so welcoming. I’m learning so much. Hardest part? Finding enough clothes to dress in office attire every day. Aka, I’m not ready for adulthood.

I’ve also been doing Coach Prep School training through my Beachbody upline. I absolutely adore Chelsea and Robb (the creators) and the training is helping me deal with all of my little blocks when it comes to sharing my story, running my business, and helping me really figure out what kind of coach I want to be. Everyone–even if we didn’t attend–is still riding the Summit high and the momentum is real. Here’s to dreaming, setting goals, and making them happen!

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A few of my Team Inspire Joy coaches and I are doing a 7-day Self Love group, starting next week. We’re all really passionate about this and are spending the week talking about self care, loving yourself, and how health and fitness fits into that. I am already so excited. (It’s free and open to ANYONE, if you’re interested!)

Before the school year starts, I’m also digging in to my personal development reading list–thanks to some amazing suggestions from my Inspire Joy and Shred Nation families. It’s a little bit overwhelming but there is so. much. good. stuff. Thanks for letting me raid your bookshelf, Mom!

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This weekend, Rebecca and I are headed up to Biltmore House to celebrate her 21st. HBD to the only girl I could keep up a 20-day Snapchat streak with. #champions

What does your weekend have in store?

Building Up!

Confession: I have the biggest weakness for conferences. I love going and learning and meeting new people.

Our team is already planning for Summit (anyone know any good airbnbs in Nash that can host 16+ people?) and I’ve been researching HESA conferences for my internship, so I’ve been thinking a lot about them lately. 🙂

Because of how introverted I am, I find that I usually spend a lot of my time forcing myself out of my comfort zone, so when I get home, I have to spend a few days processing and thinking back through everything. Energy drain is a real thing, y’all.

UNC’s second annual Basketball Analytics Summit was held in April and, goodness, conferences are 10x harder when you’re emotionally invested. I’ve been on the planning team both years and it’s incredible to see everything come together. It went fabulously and we got some great ideas for next year that I can’t wait to put into action, but it also meant that almost four months later, I’m still thinking about it. (And forever wondering why UNC is a Pepsi school. Come on.)
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Now, I like basketball, I like the Tar Heels, I like people who love and are passionate about what they do. I don’t love analytics. But I love brand marketing and how different industries come together and all the different facets that go into this one niche sector of one sport.

So today, I’m ruminating on this gem from BAS:

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New daily mantra? I think so.

Build Up

Goals and Late Night Thoughts

Ahhh, it’s been so long! I’ve missed blogging so much and I’ve got a bit of a catch up post in the works but y’all, biiiiig things are happening in the Beachbody world right now. Summit was this past weekend, when as many coaches as possible cram themselves into Nashville and spend several days brainstorming and discussing and doing loads of personal development with a few group workouts thrown in. I didn’t go, so instead I went ahead and bought my ticket for next year.

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W H A T.

Who am I?

I have no idea where I’m going to be in a year. I’ll have graduated college, be over a year into my coaching biz, be faced with being a real adult, and (hopefully) have some sort of job lined up. And I’ll definitely (somehow) be in Nashville July 28-31 with my IJ family. It’s fine.

Inspire Joy has some big goals set for our team and we’re setting big goals individually too. My goals are so big that they literally terrify me. It’s actually difficult to write them down (which is why I haven’t shared them with my team yet, oops). But I’m setting them. I’m committing to spending every day growing and improving myself (if anyone has any recommendations for personal development books, send them my way!!) and putting myself out there.

This team and this experience have already made me so much more confident and helped make me the most authentically me I’ve ever felt. When everyone surrounding you is reaching for the stars, how can you not reach with them?

(I was going to make a cute graphic but it's late and I'm tired. Have my FB cover photo instead. <3)

(I was going to make a cute graphic but it’s late and I’m tired. Have my FB cover photo instead. <3)

This is the best thing to ever happen to me and I can’t wait to see where it takes me.

July 1 – July 4: Iceland

Iceland was short and sweet–which was probably for the best given that it was our last stop and we were ready to head home. 🙂

We walked through town on the way to our hostel after our 45 minute bus ride from the airport. (Note: Reykjavik is not close to KEF!) I was already so excited to be in Iceland and the area was so gorgeous.

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Our hostel was actually in a renovated biscuit factory (and made Buzzfeed’s 19 Incredible Hostels!) and was right on the water. Iceland is fairly expensive considering how small it is, so we hit up the grocery store for dinner after wandering around downtown a little bit.

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The next morning, we went on the Golden Circle tour. Since it was the end of our trip, we decided it was easier to just book tours for both days so we didn’t have to worry about transportation or figuring things out on our own. Totally. Worth. It.

2015-07-02 17.02.50Our tour took us more inland than Reykjavik. We visited Thingvellir National Park, which is where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates meet–and are slowly drifting apart! We started on the North American plate and crossed over the Eurasian. It was so cool!

20150702_121549After this, we visited Gullfoss (Golden Falls). It’s part of the Hvítá River and comes from the lake of the Langjökull glacier. It was really cool. We also ate traditional Icelandic food at the falls–lamb and vegetable stew. I’m not usually a big fan of lamb, but the soup was excellent.

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We then visited a geyser park. It was chilly outside, so we had a good time warming up in geyser steam. Only in Iceland?

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Since the next day was the last of our trip, we spent it relaxing in the Blue Lagoon. The Blue Lagoon is a geothermal hot spring, heated by one of the many volcanoes in the region. The water is so warm and it was the perfect way to end such an amazing trip. (And it really was that color!)

We woke up at 2am to see the never-setting sun and it did. not. disappoint.

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Fortunately, our flights home a few hours later were fairly uneventful, but there was a short period where Alyssa and I thought we didn’t have tickets from Toronto to Charlotte. We did and my first American food in nearly two months was Bojangles. Happy birthday, America.

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This was truly an incredible trip and I am so thankful to have had the chance to see so much of our world. It’s crazy to think how much closer I am now with all of these girls and I can’t wait to see what we get up to next.

Thanks for following along on my travels!

All the love.

June 24 – July 1: London Town <3

A bad day in London is still better than a good day anywhere else.”

We spent a week in London and every day was great. Out of all the cities we’ve visited (with the exception of Paris), I could most clearly see myself living here. It doesn’t hurt that our hostel was in an amazing spot. 🙂 We splurged a bit for this one, knowing it would be worth it. Our hostel was located by Waterloo Bridge, in the city of Westminster. (“London” is divided into two cities–London and Westminster.) For nonlocals, we were across the Thames from Big Ben and the London Eye.

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Our first day was a travel day and since we knew we wouldn’t do anything, we planned to go see a movie. Accidentally ended up at the largest theater in the United Kingdom. If you ever have the chance to go see Jurassic World on a screen the size of six double decker buses…do it.

The second day, we got started. We did a bus tour for most of the day to help us get a sense of London! Switching countries so quickly got a little disorienting and taking tours definitely helped to get us acclimated. We learned so much about the history of the city and gave us a lot of context. Definitely recommend.
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It also came with a river cruise!

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The next morning, we went to the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace. Our bus tour had a free walking tour included and it was so good! Our guide was fantastic and took us to all the relevant places. Fun fact: if you’re one of the people who lines up at 8am at the palace–you miss most of the good stuff. That’s just where the official change takes place. We saw the old guard leave their stations at St. James’ Palace and marched along with the new guards from the guards’ museum to Buckingham. It was so cool!

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After the changing of the guard, we took the bus (our passes lasted for two days) over to East-ish London to see the Tower of London. We took a free tour with one of the Yeoman Warders, who live in the Tower and are the Queen’s personal guards. To be a Yeoman, they must serve in the Queen’s service for at least 22 years, so between the 37 current, there are over 1200 years of military service between them. There have only been 400 Yeomen in their entire history (since James I, I believe)–in comparison, 600 people have gone up into space.

The Tower was cool too. 😉

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Once our bus passes ran out, we (maybe foolishly) decided not to get Oyster cards (for the Tube) and instead walk everywhere. I think we walked the entire length of London multiple times. So the next morning, we walked the 3.5 miles to Kensington Palace. The area is gorgeous and even though it was a long walk (like okay, an hour and a half) it was so fun to see London by foot!

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Memorial for Prince Albert

Kensington wasn’t quite what I’d expected and definitely resembled more of it’s country home origin than the palace it is. The exhibits inside were wonderful though! There’s one right now on the evolving fashion of the Queen and Princesses Margaret and Diana. Kensington was also Queen Victoria’s home and there was a great section on her life and her relationship with Prince Albert.

On our way out, we spent some time wandering through Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park. If I lived in London, I think I’d be there every weekend.

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Before we headed back to central London, we stopped by the Victoria and Albert Museum. I think it would have been more interesting if we a) hadn’t walked so much that day and b) had tickets to the Alexander McQueen exhibit. Tickets were sold out until the next week, so if you go to London, be sure to buy them in advance! (And then take dozens of pictures for me because I will be SO jealous!)

I ended up getting separated from the group on our way back–the crowds were unreal–and took my time going back, meandering through Soho and Piccadilly. I felt bad for not being able to contact the others, but it was actually one of the nicest moments on the trip. London was so peaceful and I absolutely fell in love.Snapchat--3265679153235035218

I hit Trafalgar Square and ran straight into the Pride Parade, which was a blast. The square was packed and I met the nicest American guy (he gave away his extra La Durée macaron. True kindness!). We ended up talking for a while because there were so many people around us that we literally couldn’t move. There’s nothing like forced friendship?

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Around a million people came to London Pride 2015!

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The next day, we started off at Westminster Abbey for a service. Since we’d been to one at Notre Dame, we decided to continue the tradition. 🙂 Also, the church is free if you go for a service and £17 otherwise.

After church, we decided to walk over to the British Museum (don’t be fooled–it was basically across London). Oh. My. Goodness. I wish I could have stayed in the museum for a week.

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Like at the Louvre, we each picked a section to see but I think I probably could have gone to any of them and been happy. There was a neat exhibit on life and death in Native cultures around the world, one on propaganda during the time of Napoleon/just after the French Revolution, and their Modern Middle East section was amazing. If you’re in London–go. It’s even free!

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It was so cool to see their Parthenon exhibit after seeing it in person!

After the museum, we stopped and got fish and chips. Of course.

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Since we were more or less (mostly less) in the area, we went to King’s Cross. We were going to try and get Harry Potter studio tickets while we were there, but they were sold out for the entire week before we even arrived in London. In lieu of that, Platform 9 3/4 had to do!

image-155c8ee5a9242b7b906a3ddc2The next day, we took it a little bit slower (there was a lot of walking the day before!) and took a trip on the Eye first thing. Getting there around 10 was definitely the right time! We did the 4D Experience first (since it was free) and it was basically like a giant commercial for the Eye with spray foam. Eh.

The Eye gets sponsored by different countries every few years and the current sponsor is Coca Cola, which was like having a bit of home in London! Yay Coke, yay Atlanta. 🙂

Even though I am not the biggest fan of heights, the Eye was so worth it. It would have been nice to do it at night, but the last trip is at 9pm, so it’s not dark yet. If you go during the winter, definitely do it after sunset!

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After the Eye, we walked over to Covent Gardens Market, which is basically a giant antiques area. It was a really neat area. We did some shopping and watched a few street performers, as well as just wandering around and taking it all in.

From here, we went to Oxford St., in the Piccadilly area. It’s got a lot of shopping and since we didn’t really have anything else planned, we window-shopped and spent a while in trashy souvenir shops (they are the best), before crashing in a Starbucks for a few hours. We booked a Grim Reaper tour of East London through a new app called Whym (iPhone/Android). They sell last-minute discount tour tickets and we had spent several days talking to the developers who visited our hostel. It was fun to support a new venture for a tour we were going to do anyway!

The tour was really neat–it took us from the Tower of London to Shoreditch while the guide told us a lot of the gory history of London. There’s a lot. 🙂 We talked about everything from the beheadings to the Black Plague to Jack the Ripper and some of the lore that has evolved from it. We all really liked it because East London probably isn’t a place we would have ventured on our own, so the tour forced us out of our comfort zones a little bit.

Shot these on the way back. ❤

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It was a long day, even though it doesn’t sound like we did much. It was the longest day of the trip–we ended up walking 15 miles from 10am to 10pm and our feet ached.

Our last day, as a result of the day before and because there wasn’t anything we were really dying to see, was pretty quiet. We walked past Shakespeare’s Globe (and heard our favorite street performer for the second time) before slowly making our way to Buckingham Palace. We hadn’t gotten a great look at it during the guard change, so we sat in the park across the street and just watched for a while.

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Then, like any self-respecting visitor to London, we went and found a Nando’s. I understand. the. hype. Yum.

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It was the perfect ending to our time in London and just in time for us to board a flight to Iceland!

Cheers, London town.