I had a little vacation to Nice in the South of France, and it was beautiful. I have always loved traveling but was hesitant to do some solo traveling. When I first arrived, I knew it was the right decision because I was staring at the French Riviera when I got off my bus. Nice is a relatively small city and can be explored in just a few days. While it’s not a thrill seeking city by any means, if you’re looking to have some wine and pizza on the beach (which I did), it’s the perfect place to go to.
These photos were taken while going on a free walking tour. I used the app Meetup, which gives tons of free events to join by simply plugging in what area you’re in. The thing about the app is that you can choose your location no matter where you currently are, so I was able to find Nice events while still in London. Our tour guide was great because she led us on top of a waterfall, where we got the view of the entire beach. It’s really breathtaking.
While we were walking, we found a ton of lunch spots but opted to get two pizzas and two bottles of wine to take with us to the beach. I don’t have pictures, but there was a pizza that had bacon, goat cheese and drizzled honey on it, and it was amazing. If you’re looking for a cheaper option, try going through narrow roads like this one rather than all the restaurants along the beach. You can have a little picnic while still having the view. Also wine is 5 euros for a bottle at corner stores, and it tastes just as delicious.
Here’s another really lovely photo from atop the waterfall. It really is such a stunning city. One thing I’ll say about solo travel is that you end up meeting tons of other people traveling alone. I think people are hesitant because you’re worried you won’t meet anyone and will feel lonely. However, if you’re going to be staying in a hostel, you’ll have loads of people to interact with. Take some time to be alone as well. I went to grab this amazing basil pesto pasta shortly after landing and it was one of my only moments alone. So if you’re considering traveling, but your friends have different schedules, just do it because you won’t feel alone, and even when you are alone, t’s still worth every penny.
That was my trip. I’m not claiming to be an expert of this city. I was there for only three days. For me, it was about the experience. It felt like I could take a pause on life, but it also felt like moments I’d remember forever. Sounds dramatic, but if you’re need of some TLC, maybe take a weekend to yourself and take a chance.
In an effort to blog more, I wanted to recap a couple of places that I visited last year but never got a chance to write about. My new year’s resolution is to blog more about my travels in Europe. Here are a couple of gems I went to in London.
First off was the Columbia Road Flower Market, which is located in Bethnal Green. They had a ton of flower stands on sale, and it gets pretty crowded quickly. I also love the vibe with sellers chatting with customers or yelling out their latest deals to customers. Additionally, there are a ton of restaurants nearby to grab a quick Sunday brunch.
The second place was Notting Hill, which is such a quaint shopping spot with little stands ranging from old fashioned cameras to alpaca wool sweaters to street food. My favorite part was walking around and seeing all the little houses that were each painted a different color. It’s so cool to see that people actually live these houses too. It seems like a pretty quiet area in comparison to most of London, so it was a nice excursion.
Outfit details: My flower printed boots in the first picture were from Charlotte Russe and was only $15, and my scarf was actually from a charity shop for $2. My long coat is from boohoo and was on sale for $30, and my fur coat is from H&M and was on sale for $25.
My brother recently edited these photos from over the summer, and this jumpsuit was only $16.99 from H&M with the original retail price at $34.99 I believe. There’s a funny story about this jumpsuit. I was going through a stage where I wasn’t really happy with my body. I woke up feeling bloated and just wasn’t feeling a fitted jumpsuit like this one, especially for a wedding.
At the time, I thought a black wrap dress would be safer, but looking at these photos, I really love how I looked that day. When you’re not really happy with how you look, it’s easy to magnify all your imperfections. Now, I’m so thankful I went outside my comfort zone, because at the time, the only thing I was looking at was my arm fat or my stomach peaking out.
Just a friendly reminder to take it easy on yourself. January is all about starting new, so naturally people are in fitness mode after the holidays. Remember to be kind to yourself because at the end of the day, you can be your biggest critic.
This black dress was such a steal, and it was only £11.00 on sale from Misguided. I love wrap dresses because it really flatters my figure and the slit was a nice little surprise to the dress as well. The dress fit like a glove, and I was nervous because sleeves can be too skinny sometimes, especially lace. Does anyone else have that struggle with long sleeved dresses?
I will say most people who like wrap dresses probably want a super slimming material to cling, but it is a lot of material because there’s a thick overlay of lace. But other than that, this dress was super comfy and can be worn for a number of occasions. Misguided has some other items on sale right now, so check out their latest deals.
Netflix’sBlack Mirror unleashed its much anticipated choose-your-own-adventure episode “Bandersnatch”, where it allows the viewer to make decisions throughout the film, which alters the ending. After watching the episode, I must say, it’s mind blowing. It’s not the best installment of Black Mirror, but it is a one of a kind experience. My mind is still processing the endings, but I do want to break down and rank all the endings I found. If I’m a bit off or wrong about certain aspects, please forgive me as I spent three hours watching through a lot of the possibilities. Here’s my ranking and needless to say: SPOILER ALERT
8) Too safe for good reviews: If you were too scared to see Stefan go completely insane, then you probably clicked on options such as “spill tea on computer” or “take pills” which both result in poor reviews of “Bandersnatch” with an unhappy Stefan watching his game fail. I grouped these all together because ultimately, you decided to play it safe, rather than go down a twisted path.
6) Stefan works for the company: To me, this isn’t even a real ending as Will Poulter’s character, Colin, lets you know right away that you made the wrong move already. This is literally 15 minutes into the episode, so there’s no way you’re content and decide to leave it at that. So is it really an ending? Wrong choice mate.
6) Stefan falls to his death on acid: This ending means you followed Colin back to his apartment for a drug-induced night. While they’re on drugs, they go out to the terrace where Colin says one of them is going to jump. What. And you have to choose who. WHAT? This is one of the first really intense choices you have to make, and I chose wrong as I chose Stefan, thinking he’d have a Birdman moment and start flying. Anyway, you’ll want to go back and choose Colin after making this fatal mistake. Just remember to stay away from drugs kids.
5) Stefan’s father drags Stefan out of his therapist’s office: This is one of the first set in stone endings as Stefan and his father fight his therapist. Stefan learns that Netflix is watching over him and controlling his every move. The fight is actually pretty badass and crazy, but to me, it ends so abruptly and we don’t get to know how the game turns out. Weird, but at least it’s a final ending.
4) Stefan buries his father, goes on killing spree: This was the first ending that I got that didn’t give me the option to go back. I closed my eyes as I clicked “Kill Dad” and watched as the “White Bear” symbol determined pretty much the rest of the ending. He kills his father, Colin’s wife shows up to his door, but then the dog discovers his father’s body. Apparently though, there is a path where Colin comes to his door and you get the option to killing him too. I didn’t get that, but Stefan is sent to jail before finishing the game and he gets poor reviews.
3) Stefan goes back in time to join his mother on the train: This ending was really interesting and it definitely has potential. Stefan gets to the safe and picks the option “TOY” and out pops the white rabbit he was looking for right before his mom’s death. It’s surprising as he travels back in time to that moment so he can board the train with her. Stefan dies in present time because of this decision and the episode ends. I’m surprised this ending led to tying in his mother’s death because it was the only one that did. However, everything about the video game proves to be irrelevant after the episode ends, so it leaves me missing some sort of conclusion to the game Stefan was working on so intently.
2) Dr Hayne’s office is revealed to be a movie set: This is such a cool ending. Instead of the therapist brawl that ensues, you can choose to climb out the window, and it leads to a way more of a meta ending. At this point, Stefan is aware of Netflix making his decisions so he asks his father to take him to Dr Haynes. When Stefan goes to climb out the window, someone says cut, and it becomes clear that the entire episode is being filmed as a director tells “Mike” that he’s doing the wrong action. I know it ‘s supposed to be a bit light-hearted but it’s pretty satisfying and funny because it shows how emotionally stunted the actor was as he got too into his character “Stefan.” If there was more to this ending that involved the video game, maybe it’d feel more satisfying. As a whole, it’s not the best ending, but I found the most joy and watching this ending.
1) Stefan chops up his father, gets in the right mindset and gets rave reviews: I love the Netflix ending. It’s so interesting, but it’s another storyline that sort of ended. This is the darkest of the endings, as you choose to chop up his own father’s body. It started to dawn on me that the uglier more gruesome choices led to more interesting paths, so Stefan kills his father, chops up the body and has plenty of time to finish the video game. This is the only ending where Stefan gets rave reviews, but his moment is short lived as he’s arrested shortly after. Colin’s daughter Pearl takes over the game years later, and we think the episode is over, but when there’s a glitch in the game, we have to choose to destroy the computer or spill the tea, and either way, it ends the episode. What makes this ending the true ending to me is the fact that Stefan concludes that he needed to make people think they had a choice, when in reality, he chose the ending. And in reality, we as viewers think we have a choice, but we’re often pushed to complete certain actions like killing his father and refusing to work with the company. It’s mind-boggling and I loved it.
My favorite moment from the whole episode was Will Poulter’s monologue about Pac-Man making you think you have all these choices and free will in life, when in reality you simply don’t. Everything he said about alternate timelines was exactly what happens, making his character more self-aware than anyone else’s. When he said “wrong choice” he’s talking more so to the audience. When he said “you’re down the hole” he’s telling the audience you’re deep into the path you’ve selected. His character was definitely a scene stealer for me. Loved the acting. Also it breaks my heart that people were bullying the actor on social media after the episode aired, so much so, that he quit Twitter. People are so cruel.
The acting in general was all very good. Apparently every path was filmed separately meaning they had to film similar scenes multiple times. I guess I get why because it made every moment to moment choice feel very seamless, but that sounds incredibly difficult production wise.
Overall, I really enjoyed the experience. While the plot suffers because of all the choices you have to make, I’ve never had the joy of choosing what happens in an episode, and it was exhilarating to have unfold. All of the endings sort of leave you lacking in other subplots and points, but I feel like they did the best with what they were working with.
There’s also a PAC ending, where Stefan finds out his father and mother are working for the government, but it actually leads back to Stefan having to choose to kill his father, so to me, it wasn’t exactly needed.
My ranking is purely based on my own opinions, and if you disagreed, that’s totally fine. To me, it was important to have certain moments like what the heck happens with the video game which happens to be the title, so if it didn’t include that, I was just more inclined to rank it lower.
I want to know other people’s thoughts. What’s your favorite ending?
You was a series I was excited to watch immediately after its episode one airing on Lifetime. Then, all of a sudden, I was in the UK, and there was no way of watching the series legally. I was bummed after seeing what could be a great guilty pleasure. Then, I hear the entire season is on Netflix, and I waste no time binging through the remaining nine episodes. And boy, it was exhilarating.
The series stars Gossip Girl’s Penn Badgley who plays Joe, a book store worker who meets a young graduate student, Beck, and instantly falls for her from first sight. Joe starts finding out more about Beck (Elizabeth Lail) , such as a mild social media search and a quick address search in Google maps. Sounds like stuff we’ve all done right? But something isn’t right, as Joe starts stalking her, watching her, breaking into her apartment and a variety of creepy activities in his all black getup and a cap. His infatuation turns into an obsession and the scariest part is that from Beck’s perspective, Joe seems like the perfect gentleman.
The series definitely has a Lifetime feel, don’t get me wrong. The show is not something that is always the most smartly crafted series ever, but it really embraces that guilty pleasure feel that I miss in a series. Every episode is unpredictable as Badgley shows Joe’s erratic behavior perfectly through his eyes and clenched demeanor every time something doesn’t go his way. It’s a social media horror story, as Instagram and Twitter become key mediums for Joe to pull off some of his shenanigans. Additionally, it’s relevant more than ever as dating apps and “sliding into the DMs” are the new ways of meeting people these days.
The show largely benefits from the fact that Joe is the one narrating every creepy thought he has, and it’s twisted that we can actually empathize with him at times, especially when we see him care for his neighbor, Paco.
Pretty Little Liars star Shay Mitchell also stars in the series as Beck’s spoiled Queen Bee friend who is smarter than she appears, as she catches on to Joe’s sketchy behavior quite quickly into the series. John Stamos also makes a surprise appearance as Joe’s therapist late into the series. These guest stars add to the overall drama and both play key roles in how the story unfolds.
The 10 episodes fly by quickly, and the ending left me pretty satisfied as the finale escalated to a point when I started saying “How are they possibly going to wrap this up?” If a series has me asking that by the final episode, that’s a good sign. With the twist at the very end, I’m not sure how strong a second installment of the series will do, but I’ll definitely be tuning in to see how the second chapter will go down.
It’s been a crazy couple of weeks, and immediately after vowing that I’d blog more, I got so caught up with getting settled in London.
School: Going to school in London was a big risk, and the week that scared me the most was the very first session because I wondered if I made too much of a leap. I was stressed over being stressed for classes. How silly does that sound? The first week was exhausting and the transition from undergrad to master’s was so apparent to me. The workload and expectations seem higher, but I also think that’s a good thing. A lot of my friends didn’t pursue a master’s degree, which is totally fine, but it made really feel this enormous pressure to do well and prove that I needed that extra year. It’s definitely not easy, and it’s a big step up from my undergrad, but it’s a good push for me. When I was deciding what school to go to, my friend who came from Europe to the US said I would regret not leaving the United States, and he was completely right!
Transportation/ City Life: The culture shock is definitely something to get used to. Paying with predominately coins is so strange to me, and I still forget to bring my grocery bags with me so that I don’t have to pay for plastic bags. It’s all an adjustment, but it’s so worth it. The city of London is so beautiful. There’s so much to see, and I’m so happy that I’ve befriended people just as adventurous and in awe of the city as I am. One of the prettiest areas was near St. Paul’s Cathedral. I went to a rooftop bar nearby and the view was stunning.
Nightlife/ Social Scene: When I was in school, I always told myself not to get too comfortable, but I did. I went to the same bars and clubs all the time. I was with the same friends drinking the same drinks, eating the same food, and it felt pretty great at the time. The only time I actually remember going on adventures was when I’d venture to Montreal or Vermont. While I loved my college experience, I’m so glad I decided to go to London and pursue my master’s instead of staying in New York, which was arguably way more of a safer choice in terms of being near to friends. However, every day, I meet people all over the world in areas I’ve never been before. The other day at Oktoberfest, I befriended the DJ and sound guy who were both from Germany. I have friends from Morocco, Ireland and Rome now. Everyone I meet has their own interesting story, and it’s challenging me to grow as a person as well.
I’ve been binging romantic comedies all summer, and while I’ve been enjoying them more now than ever, I find myself seeing the same female leads. I remember watching The Spectacular Now and completely identifying with Shailene Woodley’s character. That was back in 2015 when I watched that movie. She played the shy Amy who slowly came out of her shell through the eyes of her love interest, which reminds me a lot of Lara Jean from To All the Boys I’ve Loved. And while I adore these female leads, I find myself not relating to them anymore, mostly because I’ve grown out of that phase of not truly knowing myself yet. Now bring in this little gem of a movie starring a black female who knows she’s dope but for whatever reason doesn’t have her life figured out quite yet. Jessica Williams shines as she plays a total bad ass whose insecurities are shown through actions and body language rather than talking about it. Not only is this the perfect display of showing rather than telling, but it really does emulate what twenty somethings are going through.
Everyone is all about talking about what they’re passionate about, but at the same time, everyone is struggling to pursue that same passion. James works at a nonprofit and wants to pursue play writing, but the movie itself is more or less about her trying to get over a breakup. She meets Boon played by Chris O Dowd who is totally opposite from her but also getting over a breakup so they begin a weird relationship, including a pact to follow each other’s ex. It’s a story we’re all familiar with, but it’s a more modern take. Chris O Dowd brings the same charm he had in Bridesmaids and it really works because he feels much more like a real human being instead of a Prince Charming. He makes mistakes and doesn’t make some sort of grand gesture for them. Instead, the two leads talk through their shit like normal adults would, and it’s refreshing to watch. In addition to the romantic elements, there’s a great side storyline that shows James interacting with one of her students. It’s simple but a great display of why Jessica James pushes some of her students so much to pursue their dreams.
Overall, I really loved how realistic this movie felt, and I love seeing more interracial couples come to screen lately. Growing up, a lot of my friends assumed I liked people with skin like mine, and it really upset me when I was younger but I couldn’t quite pinpoint why so I kept my mouth shut. I remember my friends in 5th grade asking me if I liked the only other colored person in my class and I couldn’t express back then why it was so wrong of them to say that. However, when I saw the backlash with To All the Boys I’ve Loved with some people saying they should of casted an Asian male lead to play Lana Condor’s love interest, I resonated so much with the actress’s response.
“You are being racist unknowingly and continuing to put us in a box that we don’t need to be in. It’s really unfair. People should be able to love who they want to love. It’s offensive to me — you’re continuing to promote tribalism. So I can’t be with who I want to be with? These are probably the same people who have an issue with the LGBT community. It’s the same thing — you telling me who I can love is unfair,” Condor said.
Anyway, I went off on a bit of a tangent, but my point is that I love that we’re seeing more diversity because growing up all the love stories seemed to happen to people that didn’t look anything like me, so I hope young women and men are inspired in a way that I wasn’t able to be when I was growing up.
I recently visited The Alpaca Shop, where I walked the cutest alpaca. When I first arrived in the UK, I needed a few days to shop for university, so with the shopping and traveling that I’ve been doing, I was feeling very stressed out. This was such a therapeutic experience and the whole thing was one of a kind for sure. There were alpacas when we first stepped foot on the farm and they were a little daunting at first, but we had a great tour guide who explained the rules as we continued to see more and more of them on the farm and how to approach them. These animals are so dang cute and have their own little personalities, so I slowly feel in love with them as we continued.
We walked them a descent amount along a path as each adult got to walk their own alpaca, while children had to share one with their guardian. I think that’s pretty appropriate too considering some of the alpacas were larger. As we walked together, our guide was attentive and made sure we all stuck together. There were times when the alpacas wanted to do their own thing. Mine was named Rosa, and she was constantly pooping and stopping to eat, so it was pretty funny to pick up on her cues and habits. Overall, I loved the experience, and anyone who knows me, knows that I’m obsessed with alpacas and llamas, so this was extra special for me. Apparently, these are popular in the UK, so if anyone ever has a chance to check out one of these farms, know you’re in for a very unique trip.
Also, the coat I’m wearing is from Boohoo, and it was 50% off online at the time, so I scored it for $30. It’s perfect for London weather. The scarf I’m wearing is from a thrift shop from Burlington, Vermont, but I don’t have any other details on it.
I got to spend the weekend in Maryland for the past weekend, and I loved it. I really want to talk about my little weekend vacation because it made me remember how much I love traveling and writing.
While I was in college, I somehow lost my desire to write about my travels even though I had some pretty fun adventures in places like Jamaica and Montreal. I got to attend Igloofest, which was one of the coolest events ever, and my phone died before I could capture what it was even about. That’s not usually like me. Traveling is something I’m sure all 20 somethings want to experience, including myself. If you have the opportunity to do it, plan it before it’s too late. So many people my age are settling down already, and while not that’s not necessarily a bad thing by any means, I think everyone can agree there is so much of the world to experience.
This weekend, I went to the The National Harbor. It was such a nice spot to relax, eat some great food and shop around. It definitely had a boardwalk feel to it, as the harbor was surrounded by unique shops and tons of seafood eateries. The first spot we checked out was a restaurant called The Walrus Oyster & Ale House. There were a ton of seafood options along with a great selection of drinks to choose from, including a separate Happy Hour menu with $7 frozen mojitos and margaritas.
Oysters are one of my favorite dishes to eat, so I was excited to try different types of oysters for $2.50 each. The oysters are divided into three categories: sweet, briny and salty. I chose one from each category, along with a single crab cake as a side. Even though I love oysters, I’ve always thought they all tasted the same. However, the sweet one was buttery and light. The briny one had a nice savory bite to it, and the salty was my favorite, so it’s interesting to see how my opinion shifted once they were divided on the menu.
Next, we went to Ben & Jerry’s for something sweet and decided to go on their ferris wheel. The view was beautiful, and we were able to go around four times to really appreciate it.
We walked around after, and that’s when my brother found The Pepper Palace. This place is so cool. You walk in and it’s sample heaven. There’s a ton of different salsas, dips, and BBQ sauces to try for free. Additionally, there’s a station to try their hottest pepper called The End (there was another to try but I cannot remember the name). I was hesitant, but I also wanted to say that I tried it so we signed their book, got our stickers and tried their pepper sauce. They put a single drop of sauce on a little plastic spoon, and that kind of scared me even more.
We tried it, and at first, it wasn’t that bad. It felt more like an instant spice, but then it faded. However, there was a pain in my stomach that I couldn’t explain. I thought it would go away, but it didn’t. I tried to down some milk, but that made it worse because I don’t usually eat or drink large amounts of dairy at once. I’m not going to get into detail, but the pepper upset my stomach so much, that I ended up puking behind a Rita’s Italian ice truck. Do I regret it? Kind of. I assumed tons of people try it, so I could too, but it did not agree with my stomach at all. Moral of the story: Be careful when doing some of these food challenges.
Anyway, those are a couple of the highlights from our trip, and tomorrow, I leave for London for a year! So with that being said, I plan on writing about all my experiences. Hope you enjoyed this post!