Three Things You Should Know Before Traveling Abroad

Three Things You Should Know Before Traveling Abroad

I remember stepping off of the metro into Barcelona like it was yesterday. It was a completely different world that we had never been exposed to before. Your first time abroad you make mistakes and learn a lot! Every country is different and it’s important to remember that. Just because it’s not the way you do it, doesn’t make it wrong- just different. I see a lot of people who have never been to another country not realize that things can be done in completely different ways, that’s why I think traveling is important. You learn so much.

I could honestly go on about that forever, so here are three things you should know before you travel abroad!

Food Customs

This is one that I see surprises a lot of people. In Europe and other countries as well, they eat different things for breakfast. For example for breakfast in Europe you will most likely find a spread of bread, cheese, meats, and vegetables. This may seem really weird at first, but trust me it will grow on you! Go ahead and grab some bread, butter, add cheese, and put your favorite veggies on top and enjoy! Trust me, you’ll wonder why this isn’t a thing in America.

Some countries also eat dinner at different times. This really varies country to country. In Spain you most likely will find that restaurants are closed in the afternoon for “siestas” and then not open again until dinner. But dinner for them usually starts at 7-8pm, or even later.

The way you eat may also be different. In some Middle Eastern countries you should not eat with a certain hand. In some countries, like France, you will notice they even eat pizza with a fork or knife.

Garbage disposals are also not a thing. So save yourself the time ( getting grossed out touching wet food) and make sure all your food is in the trash or recycling before you rinse your plate.

Bathrooms

I think this one is also something that is really different for some people. In Europe you will find that the bathrooms are smaller, sometimes are separate rooms for a toilet and then the sink and shower, the sinks are super tiny, and the toilets are not filled with water. To flush the toilet you also have to hold down a button depending on what business you did; this changes the amount of water used.

In many countries to use public bathrooms you need to pay to enter. If you plan on exploring the city a lot be prepared and bring coins or plan your bathroom visits around meals.

Some countries may also have bathrooms that are really just holes in the ground. For these you need to learn to master the “squat.”

Because water prices may be high, remember to keep your showers shorter than you normally would while at your own home. The water may not be as hot, so that may encourage shorter showers 😉

Social Customs

I’m sure you have heard someone in your life say “the people in blah blah country were so rude.” While to you they may be “rude” because they are not as outgoing, to them this is very normal. Waiters will not check on you every second (and yes you need to ask for the check, yes it will be weird at first), people will be direct about how they feel, and people won’t smile at you on the street. While this is not true for everyone, it’s just an overall generalization of what to expect. I’ve had really friendly waiters and also locals who have talked to me and were really outgoing, but not everyone.

I think the most important thing is to remember what I said at the beginning, just because it’s not how you do it doesn’t mean it’s wrong. That’s what makes this world so amazing is that we are all so diverse. Traveling wouldn’t be fun if we were all the same!

Wherever you’re going I hope you have a blast!

 

Where was or is your first trip abroad? What surprised you the most?

 

 

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Four Reasons Why You Should Visit Copenhagen

Four Reasons Why You Should Visit Copenhagen

 

This past weekend I made my way to Copenhagen, Denmark. A beautiful city that has it all, the old cobble stone streets, great food, and also great views. My plane landed on Friday morning and I didn’t leave until Sunday night, so I got a full weekend and I thought it was a perfect amount of time to explore the city.

I had so much fun exploring this city! It should definitely be added to your bucket list and here are four reasons why!

Delicious Food

Since I was here close to Christmas, I was able to enjoy the Christmas Markets around the city. They had churros, waffle sticks, glogg (mulled wine), and many other foods to try!

In an old paper factory there is now food stalls called, Paper Island, with so many different food choices! I got an open-face sandwich with pork, potatoes, bacon, and fried onions. So good! Some other food options there are: Korean street food, sushi, and even a place that specializes in ostrich! This place is actually closing down soon, so even more reasons to visit like now!

Another restaurant I went to was The Union Kitchen. I really recommend checking this place out. They do tapas and specialize in meatballs. I had the wild boar meatballs and the cauliflower with ricotta and cranberry! There were so many other things on the menu that I would love to try. They also have many speciality drinks that are hand-crafted there.

 

Four Reasons Why You Should Visit Copenhagen

 

Four Reasons Why You Should Visit Copenhagen

 

Beautiful Views

From the views from The Round Tower to Nyhavn, I could just sit and enjoy the views for hours!

Four Reasons Why You Should Visit Copenhagen

Four Reasons Why You Should Visit Copenhagen

So Many Things to Do

Copenhagen offers so many things to do! There are museums, castles, The Little Mermaid statue, and many cafes and restaurants to enjoy. I went to the Danish Design Museum and for students and people under the age of 26, it is free! I am not sure if this is the same for other museums in the city.

If you go during Christmas time you can also enjoy the Christmas Markets around the city. Four Reasons Why You Should Visit Copenhagen

Easy to Get Around

From bikes, trains, to metros or just walking; you can get around Copenhagen very easily. The train and metro both go to the airport and are very cheap. I thought this was very convenient because some cities don’t have this and you have to figure how to get to the city from the airport.

While the city is very walkable, you can also rent a bike to explore the town! Copenhagen is very bike friendly and they separate the road just for bikers.

Four Reasons Why You Should Visit Copenhagen

 

Copenhagen is now on my list of favorite cities and hope to visit again during the summer so I can enjoy the outdoors more!

What’s your favorite city to visit in the winter?

If you want to know how I planned my trip, download my Copenhagen trip planner here:

Weekend in Copenhagen

 

 

 

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How to Spend Two Days in Prague

How to Spend Two Days in Prague

How would I describe Prague? WOW! That’s all I really need to say. If you are looking for a cheap, but also beautiful city rich with history then you need to visit Prague. I think Prague can be done in a day if you want to add it to a trip, but also there is enough to do if you want to stay longer. Here are things to do and eat while you are in Prague 🙂

Day 1:

What to do-

  • Go see Prague Castle
  • Walk across Charles Bridge on your way to the Castle
  • Check out the painters on the bridge
  • Take a boat tour!
  • See the John Lennon Wall
  • Petrin Lookout Tower

How to Spend Two Days in Prague

Where to eat-

  • Get a trdelnik plain or with ice-cream or chocolate (soooo good!)
  • Strahov monastic brewery
  • U Betlemkske Kaple
  • On your way to the castle there is a cafe that overlooks the city of Prague. I didn’t catch the name, but it’s in the wall as you are walking up the steps to the castle. It is also cash only.

Beer is really good in Prague. I don’t even really like beer and I drank a lot of it here. And it’s even better because it’s cheap. They have a dark beer that is sweeter and worth a try and of course Pilsner!

 

Day 2:

What to do:

  • Check out all the shops in Old Town
  • Astronomical Clock
  • Check out one (or two) of Prague’s many museums

I went to the Music Museum and it was pretty cool! They had so many instruments and how they have evolved over time. Music fans I would definitely recommend checking this out.

Where to eat:

  • Cafe Louvre
  • Sisters for open face sandwiches
  • Gingerbread at Pernickuv Sen

Cafe Louvre is a pretty famous cafe in Prague where Einstein, Kafka, and Capek were said to visit. There was a line when I went, but it went pretty fast. I ordered the pancakes (shown below) and they were amazing! Someone told me to get a Turkish coffee, but I totally forgot about it. So, if you go please order it and tell me how it was 😉

 

 

Where to stay:

I stayed at Sophie’s Hostel which was only a fifteen minute walk from Old Town. They offer a five bed women’s dorm and they are like mini apartments! I didn’t realize when I got there that it would have a kitchen and a bathroom just for that dorm. I think this would be awesome if you are staying longer because you can make your own food. The rooms also do not have bunk beds, which is a plus.

Every night the hostel has a happy hour where beers are only 1 euro! The bar and reception are open 24 hours also. You can pay 6 euros for a breakfast buffet, traditional European breakfast and coffee, or you can pay more for a hot brunch along with the buffet.

 

Are you planning a trip to Prague? If not you should 😉

 

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What You Should Pack for a Weekend Trip

This post contains affiliate links. I may receive a payment for items bought through the link. All thoughts are my own.

What You Should Pack for a Weekend Trip

 

Do you ever have a trip planned, but then never end up packing until the night (or hours) before because you don’t know what to bring? Okay so maybe I always do this. Living in Europe and being able to travel over the weekend to a different country has made me better at packing for weekend trips. Here is my go-to weekend trip packing list!

Clothes:

  • One pair of pants/bottom or a dress
  • Two shirts
  • Undergarments
  • Socks
  • I always bring a jacket or sweater just incase it gets cold

Shoes:

You really only need one pair of shoes. Maybe bring a nicer pair if you plan on dressing nicer one day or night.

Toiletries:

  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Hairbrush
  • deodorant
  • Lotion
  • Feminine products
  • Contact supplies
  • Shampoo/conditioner

*shampoo and conditioner can be left out if you plan to shower before your trip or if you don’t think you will need them

Extras:

  • Hats, gloves, scarfs if will be cold
  • Scarf if cold
  • Check to see if your hostel includes towels because you may need to bring one
  • Chargers
  • Headphones
  • Earplugs

What to Pack it in:

I love “weekender bags”! They are super easy to pack and carry. Below I have a few and they are all under $40!!

Products from Amazon.com

 

 

The key to packing for a weekend trip is to keep it light! If you notice that your packing pile is looking big, then go through the items again and see what you can get rid of.

What is your “must have” item when packing?

XX Chynna

 

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How to Spend a Day in Turku, Finland

How to Spend a Day in Turku, Finland

As much as I want to explore Europe, I have to remind myself to also explore Finland! I decided to take a day trip to Turku, the oldest city in Finland. I have to say I would not come to Finland and stay for a week in Turku, a day would be enough.

How to Spend a Day in Turku:

Visit the Market Square

Unfortunately, when I was in town it was pouring rain so there were not many vendors out. I have heard though during the summer it is pretty big. And in the winter they will have a Christmas market.

Check out the oldest church in Finland

Turku, Finland

The inside was amazing! Choir practice was also going on when I visited, which was amazing to hear in the church. Upstairs of the church there is a museum that only costs 2 euros or only 1 euro if you’re a student. The church also has a bible that is thousands of years old!

Turku, Finland

See Turku Castle

Turku castle is the largest surviving medieval building in Finland. I will say the castle is about a 40 min walk from the city center so you will either be prepared to walk that long or take public transportation. There are tours you can go on or just see it for yourself!

Restaurants in Turku

I did notice that there was not that many choices in Turku to eat. I finally found a place called Tres Restaurant where I had a delicious salad and soup for only 10 euros.

If you just want coffee there are a lot of options. If you have never visited a Fazer Cafe, this is one to check out! They have them in other cities in Finland since Fazer is a Finnish brand.

Shopping

There is a pretty nice sized mall and also shops around the city for shopping.

 

If you are planning a trip to Finland here is a blog post on Helsinki and Tampere.

Thank you for reading!

XX Chynna

 

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Top Three Things to Do in Tampere During Fall

Top Three Things to Do in Tampere During Fall

Fall is in full swing over here! We went from sunny weather straight to rainy and cold, but if you’re anything like me you love love love fall. Even if it is rainy 😉 The scenery here has been amazing with the changing leaves so I wanted to share my top three things to do in Tampere during fall!

Go Hiking

Tampere and Finland in general has some great forests to hike through. The leaves are beautiful during this time and also you can see the amazing views of the lakes! If you’re lucky you may even find some berries that are still good on your hike.

Go to Pyynikki Observation Tower Cafe

Pyynikki is said “puuneekee” incase you were wondering 😉 Not only does this cafe have a tower that you can go up and see the views, but they also have amazing donuts! It is located in the forest so you can also take a break from hiking and have a snack 😉 To go up the tower it is only 2 euros. I would deffinetly check this place out!

Go to a Sauna and Lake

I’ve posted before that Finns really love their saunas, but they also love jumping in the lake after. They believe that even in the winter it is good to go for a swim in the lake. I have been to the sauna many times, but I have not jumped into the lake after.  I will let you know if/when I do and what I think!

What’s your favorite thing to do during Fall?

XX Chynna

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Five Things You Should Know About Finland

This Sunday will officially be my second month living here in Finland. It’s so crazy how time flies! Though the days are getting shorter and colder, I am looking forward to my first Finnish winter. I have learned so much already about Finnish culture, so I thought it would be fun to share that culture with you. So, here are five things you should know about Finland 🙂

Evening Snack

In Finland, you have your normal breakfast, lunch, and dinner. But then you will have your evening snack before bed. This is usually bread, fruit, or yogurt. When I first told my host family that in America this is not a common practice, they thought it was crazy! They did not see how you could go to bed without eating first. The evening snack is a common cultural practice here in Finland and every family I have met so far does it (and thinks it’s weird that Americans don’t). I am all for this snack, because who doesn’t like eating bread and cheese at night 😉

They LOVE Finnish Brands

In Finland you won’t really see many chain coffee shops, but more locally owned ones. While you will see McDonald’s, Burger King, etc they are not as popular. Finns love to support local businesses and Finnish brands. Marimekko and Iittala are two examples of Finnish brands that are very popular in Finland.

Recycling

Finnish take recycling seriously! There are places everywhere for you to recycle that is even separated by the material. They even have an organic waste container. There is even a garbage truck that comes to homes to pick up their organic waste!

Saunas

Saunas are very popular. It is common for families or even apartment complexes to have a sauna. Coming from America, these saunas are not what I am used to. It is common practice to go to the sauna naked, usually with friends or your whole family. All saunas are ones you can throw water on the rocks also (which is really fun if you have never done it). A local told me that in Finland they believe that it is good to go to a sauna and get really hot and then go jump in the lake, even when it’s winter! I think I may have to take her word for it.

Moomins

I don’t think I could do a post about Finland and not mention Moomins! Tove Jansson started writing books and comic strips about Moomins in 1945 and they have been a hit ever since. Today you can find in probably almost every Finnish home something with Moomins on it, whether it be bedding or even dishes.

Have you ever experienced a culture that is different from your own? What was your favorite thing that was different?

XX Chynna

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Weekend Travel: Tallinn, Estonia

Tallinn, Estonia

This weekend I traveled to Tallinn, Estonia with a few other au pairs in Finland. Now some of you are probably sitting and thinking, “where is Estonia?” I got a few of those questions from family members so I understand 😉 Below is a screenshot from Google Maps for you to reference!

Tallinn, Estonia

To get to Tallinn from Finland, I first took a bus from Tampere to Helsinki using Onni Bus. Once in Helsinki we took a ferry to Tallinn. Altogether the trip was about 5 hours and only costed about 50 euros. The ferry was nice and we were able to find a spot to lay down for the trip. I would suggest getting there about 30 minutes or more ahead of time so you can get on the ferry and snag a good spot before they are all taken.

Tallinn is a beautiful city and Old Town looks like fairy tales were made here! This city is the perfect place for a weekend trip. Here are some things to check out in Tallinn:

Walk Around Old Town

Tallinn

Old Town is seriously so beautiful! I really loved the medieval feel and it felt like I was in a fairy tale city. They have narrow streets that are cobblestone (which I have a thing for if you haven’t noticed).

Tallinn

See the City From a Tower

We didn’t get to do this because we missed the open hours, but there are churches that you can go up in to see the city. We did find a place were you can go up on a hill and they have an overlook of the city.

Eat at a Medieval Restaurant

Tallinn

We ate at Hortus Summer Garden Restaurant and it was such a cool experience! The restaurant was decorated to look like it was a tent out in the woods. They even had live music playing! I ordered a mushroom soup that also came with fresh baked bread. It was so good and super cheap! The restaurant makes different schnapps and we were able to try one for free. If you get the chance I would suggest trying this restaurant!

Go See the Orthodox Church

Tallinn

The architecture on this church was so beautiful!

Check Out the Gift Shops

There were so many gift shops and and stores with pretty cheap stuff to buy! They had the usual gift shop things, but they also had a lot of wool things to buy like hats or sweaters. I also noticed a lot of wood figures that I though was unique.

Go Out For A Cheap Drink

Side note- I’m not sure if Estonians really like Texas or something, but they sure seemed to have a lot of Texas themed places. But, Eastern Europe is known for being cheap and Tallinn rang true to this. We went to a German beer place where we were able to get a mug of beer for only 4 euros! As some of you may know, in some parts of Europe (like Finland) sometimes going out can be pretty pricey, so getting cheap drinks was a nice surprise!

Tallinn

 

If Tallinn isn’t on your bucket list, then add it now! It’s a perfect day stop city that is also really cheap. Tallinn really surprised me at how much charm it has.

 

Have you ever been to a city that really surprised you?

XX Chynna

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Weekend Travel: One Day Day In Helsinki

Helsinki

This weekend I traveled with two other au pairs in Tampere to Helsinki, the capital of Finland. We took the bus from Tampere and it only cost us around 18 euros round-trip. The trip was also only two hours long. There is also a train you can take and tickets for trains and buses are usually cheaper, but we didn’t book the tickets until the night before. Here is how we spent our day in Helsinki 🙂

One Day in Helsinki:

We got on the bus at 9am and arrived in Helsinki at 12pm so we went to get something to eat first thing. One of the girls knew of a ramen noodle restaurant that was really good so we went there. At first went she suggested ramen noodles I thought of the packets you can get really cheap at the store, but I was surprised by what real ramen noodles are!

Ramen Noodles

Momotoko

After lunch, one of the girls wanted to go to a store called Bypais. 

This store has an outlet store about 20 minutes from the center by bus. It was kind of confusing to find because it was in the middle of the country.

When we got back to Helsinki, we went to the city center to see the market.

I have always loved Europe because of their open markets! The smell of the fresh fruit and seeing handmade products is my favorite. The open market is located right by the sea, so it has a great view.

Helsinki

Next stop was the Helsinki Cathedral located in Senate Square.

This is right by the open market and harbor. We stopped to take some pictures and enjoy the view.

Helsinki

We then headed to a cafe for a coffee and cake break!

I really recommend the place we stopped at, Kulma Cafe. The coffee was delicious and the cinnamon roll I had was big!

Kalma Cafe

For the rest of our day until it was time to go back we did some shopping.

I learned a lot about Finnish brands including Iittala and Marimekko. Iittala is a glassware brand that is very popular. In Finland glassware is very popular so almost all Finnish have Iittala in their homes.

Before we got on the bus, we stopped and got some snacks for the ride.

I was introduced to a little pastry that has rice and cheese on top that was so good! It is a Fazer Rukiinen Piira. These are originally from Russia and have different flavors. At the store it was only 39 cents, so a must try!

We had perfect weather for a day in Helsinki!

Helsinki is a beautiful city that I recommend visiting! What is your favorite Scandinavian city?

 

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Weekend Travel: 4 Things You Should Do in NYC

4 Things You Should Do in NYC

After spending a day in Boston my friends and myself hopped on an Amtrak train and headed to the Big Apple. We stayed in an awesome Airbnb in Brooklyn and had the best NYE in NYC! I will say it was crowded since it was a holiday, but still a great experience.

4 Things You Should Do in NYC:

Go to Central Park.

Getting to walk through the park and see amazing views of the city was one of my favorite parts. It was cold when we went, but I bet in the fall or spring it would be an amazing place to take a walk or just hang out or maybe have a picnic.

Central Park

Walk on the Brooklyn Bridge and Explore Brooklyn.

Another great view of the city! As a said above that our Airbnb was in Brooklyn, specifically near a Holistic Jewish community. If you are interested in cultures like me, you will love exploring all the different communities in New York. I personally had never heard of this sector of Judiasm before and of course after realizing this I had to learn all about it! The fact that there are so many diverse people living in New York City is what I really love about it.

Brooklyn Bridge

Go to Times Square. 

It was a madhouse when we went, but you can’t go to NYC without seeing Times Square. We also decided against seeing the ball drop here for New Years. Our flights were early the next morning so we decided to sightsee instead. Seeing the ball drop in Times Square is on my bucket list though!

FOOD! 

Did you really think this would not be on my list? Eating food is one of my favorite things to in a place I am visiting. Any type of food you are looking for, NYC has it. Here are some places that should be on your list: Le Coucou, Superiority Burger, Los Tacos No. 1 in Chelsea Market, and Patsy’s Pizza – East Harlem. If you love macaroons then Ladurée should be on your list. When I found out there was one in the city I dragged all my friends so that I could get a macaroon!

Extra: Visit Museums and Memorials

I highly suggest visiting the 9/11 Memorial. It is honestly a really humbling experience. You can also visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art and pretend you are on the set of Gossip Girl 😉

9/11 Memorial

I can’t wait to plan my next trip to explore the city more. What are your favorite things to do in NYC?

xx Chynna

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