travel tips

Farmer’s Markets + Family Style Eats at Monell’s

BY CAILIN BURKE

While in Nashville, we wanted to make sure we got a meal at Monell’s, because their whole dining experience is so unique and nothing like a restaurant we had ever been to!
Their concept is family style dining with the slogan, “Enter as strangers, leave as friends.” But unlike typical family style, your group doesn’t get its own table with just larger portioned shared foods — you actually share a table with several other groups of people! I think there were about 13 people at our table and after saying hello to your new tablemates, food just starts coming around the table.

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East Nashville’s Best Eats

BY CAILIN BURKE

After our morning of traveling, shopping and checking out some of the city’s coolest street art, we headed to Barista Parlour for much needed coffee and snacks! If you’ve checked out our blog at all, you know we love discovering and hanging out in new cafes. Most Nashvilians raved about Barista Parlour and we liked that it had such a cool cafe space and motorcycles just chilling out front. And of course, the coffee!

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Exploring East Nashville

BY CAILIN BURKE

Even though we all had traveled and just arrived to Nashville that morning, we wanted to make the most of our day and check out our new stomping grounds! We got an Airbnb in East Nashville and it was an adorable house near a huge park and conveniently 5-15 minutes from everything. A lot of the other houses in the area, like the one below, were super colorful and almost every one seemed to have an adorable porch swing! We personally love staying in Airbnbs because it’s cool to be in a more residential area and get a glimpse of how a Nashvillian lives! We picked one in East Nashville because we had heard the area was growing and had a lot of cool spots, but was outside of the toursity areas.

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Well what we heard was true — because East Nashville quickly became one of our favorite pats of the city! After stopping into our house to get the Greyhound off of us, we headed to Five Points to walk around, see some street art, and shop! Five Points is the center of East Nashville in terms of food and businesses! Right away we stumbled upon a huge few walls that had a bunch of murals and grabbed some photos.

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Arriving in Nashville & Heading Straight to CREMA

BY CAILIN BURKE

A few months back we went on a six day visit to Nashville, Tennessee for a girl’s trip! We had always wanted to go to Nashville to eat amazing food, try out their cool coffee shops, and of course… hear some live music! When we discovered that we had a Greyhound Road Reward to take a free bus ANYWHERE, we wanted to get the best value and chose Music City! With all the public transportation and crazy long commutes we’ve done in the past, we knew we could handle the 24 hour bus ride. After several transfers, sitting in bus terminals, and long naps — we arrived!

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We started our Nashville visit with caffeine and food of course! Straight from the bus terminal we walked to CREMA, a really cool cafe and artisanal coffee roaster that we heard amazing reviews of! We each got an iced chai latte, and they were amazing! They were pretty spicy which I really enjoyed, and unlike the normal chais I’ve had in the past. Since being home, I’ve found myself craving one of these again but can’t find a place that makes them the same!

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Manuel Antonio –> Drake Bay

BY CAILIN BURKE

For our next leg of the trip we headed to the small (like really small) town of Sierpe to catch a boat to Drake Bay. Drake Bay is a part of the Osa Peninsula, one of Costa Rica’s most biodiverse sections, which made it more difficult to get to – but totally worth it. After arriving in Sierpe and leaving our rental car in a grassy knoll for $3 a day, we hopped on a boat and off we went!

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Liberia, Puntarenas & Jacó

BY TARA BURKE

This January we had the chance to travel to Costa Rica. We were super excited to go on this trip since it had been in the works for years. We landed in Liberia, picked up our rental car and stayed the night in the city. Our hostel had this cute little backyard with string lights and hammocks, so we stayed out there a bit and talked with the other hostel guests.

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¡Hola from Costa Rica!

As you may have seen on our Insta, we’ve been in Costa Rica! We will have plenty of posts coming up all about what we did and where we went! To get you excited for what’s to come from this beautiful country, here is a little vid we put together with some highlights.

Stay tuned and Pura Vida! 

*Make sure to hit settings to change the video quality to HD!

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BY CAILIN BURKE

1044483_10152003468289196_2128690760_nThis week we’re changing it up a lot and starting our Feature Friday- Traveler Series with Kate Lyons! Instead of focusing on an artist or designer, the last Friday of each month we’ll share some tips and stories from people who have traveled everywhere. As both Tara and I love to travel, we wanted to bring more travel inspiration to Castle Foundations. Hopefully reading about other’s epic adventures will get you to save some money and go out and travel too! If you’ve already got the travel bug, then we have some advice that can help you plan your next trip as well. This week’s feature, Kate Lyons, has done extensive traveling throughout Europe and seeks to spend the rest of her life continuing to see more places and continents. Her most recent trip gave her the chance to trek through London, Amsterdam, Paris, Rome, Malta, Venice, Nice and Galway for six weeks.

During her time there she not only got to see some of the world’s most famous sights, but didn’t have to break the bank to do so. Currently she has her own blog to document her travel experiences and give others tips about how to travel affordably. She also has a lot of advice for anyone who wants to go on a similar trip so keep reading and check out hopelesswanderer1.wordpress.com to hear more about her travels!

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Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 01.34.24: What made you decide you wanted to travel?

Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 19.00.27: I’ve always had the desire to see more of the world for as long as I can remember, probably from watching movies and shows as a kid. I told myself that I would do a big trip around Europe when I was in college. So when I finally got to college it was almost like I didn’t have a choice in the matter, like I was fulfilling some kind of prophecy I had made for myself. Even with all the factors saying it wasn’t a good idea, this was just something I had to do, even if financially it didn’t seem to make sense. And now, I’m so glad I did it. I don’t regret a single dollar I spent. I will make that money back eventually. Those experiences were invaluable.

Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 01.34.24: Out of all of the countries and cities you’ve visited which was your favorite?

Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 19.00.27: My favorites were London and Malta for two very different reasons. From the first full day in London, I felt like I could see myself living there. It’s so easy to get around and it’s really not all that different from a city here in America so it would be an easy adjustment. There’s just so much to do there, I couldn’t imagine ever being bored of it.

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Malta, on the other hand, I loved in an entirely different way. It’s so beautiful and relaxing. I don’t think I could ever live there, not until I’m retired at least, because I don’t think I would get any work done. It’s so hot and sunny I would just want to relax by the Mediterranean all day every day. I traveled with my boyfriend Frankie and since his family lives there we had an apartment to ourselves and ate every meal for free at his aunt and uncle’s seaside restaurant. His family welcomed us with open arms and showed us everything the island had to offer. It was so different after a month of traveling alone, and everything we could have asked for.

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Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 01.34.24: What, if anything, do you wish you had done differently?

Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 19.00.27: We did this trip with the mentality of being on a very strict budget. In almost every circumstance, if it cost money and wasn’t necessary, like food or travel expenses, we didn’t do it. We only spent $3,000 each for six weeks, which was a lot less than we anticipated and it was great to come back with more money than we expected. Looking back, we both agree that we wish we had done a few things that at the time we said were out of our budget. In hindsight, we should have sprung for one nice, real Italian dinner in Rome or taken the 40 Euro bus ride to see the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland.

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Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 01.34.24: How does one go about planning a trip like this?

Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 19.00.27: We planned everything meticulously. We did hours and hours of research. First we decided where we wanted to go and found some big things to do in each city and used that to decide how long we wanted to spend there. Then we searched for tickets to and from each city and plugged in different dates to find the best prices. That’s how we determined the order we would go to them in. We did find out that it’s cheaper to fly into Ireland than any other part of Western Europe. Even if Ireland isn’t somewhere you want to go,  you can fly to other countries from there.

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After we bought all our tickets we looked for places to stay. We compared prices, locations, and all kinds of of factors between different places in various areas of each town. Then we bought all of our bus and train tickets from the airports to our hostels. We didn’t leave much room for spontaneity, which might sound like it takes the fun out of things, but we met a few people who were figuring it out as they went along. They seemed much more stressed out and ended up spending hundreds of dollars more than we did.

Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 01.34.24: Tell us a little about your housing/living situation while there?

Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 19.00.27: We stayed in almost all hostels with the exceptions of Paris, where we stayed in a inexpensive hotel, and in Malta, where we stayed in Frankie’s dad’s flat. For the most part we couldn’t have been happier with the places we stayed. We had a lot of reservations about staying in hostels from all the horror movies out there, but we never felt unsafe. When we were choosing where to stay online, in a lot of cases we chose a cheap price and a good location over cleanliness and level of service, so we didn’t have very high expectations. But in all but a few (like Venice, where there was a pretty bad bug problem) we had great experiences. We met a lot of great people and made some memories with them that we’ll never forget.

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 Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 01.34.24How did you travel from place to place?

Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 19.00.27: We took planes everywhere. Fourteen in six weeks. It turned out to be the cheapest option after buses and we didn’t want to spend entire days sitting on a bus. Planes got us to a different country in about an hour and for only around 30 to 40 Euros.

 Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 01.34.24What were the best foods you ate while there?

Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 19.00.27: We did everything on the cheap so nothing we ate was too gourmet, but we did try to eat one meal that the city is known for everywhere we went. In London we went to a pub for fish and chips and shepherd’s pie; in Amsterdam we got pannekoeken, or Dutch pancakes, for breakfast; in Paris we bought baguettes and brie and salami and ate them under the Eiffel Tower. In Rome and Venice we were always able to get affordable pizza and pasta, but it was never fantastic. We ate our fair share of gelato and drank a lot of wine pretty much everywhere we went.

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Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 01.34.24: What advice would you give to people who want to try backpacking?

Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 19.00.27: Just go for it. Don’t let anything stop you. You can find a way to do it. Even if you don’t have anyone to go with – we met plenty of people who were traveling solo and they actually met more people and probably had a more social experience than we did.

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 Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 01.34.24What’s next on your travel bucket list?

Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 19.00.27: What isn’t? I’m dying to go to Eastern Asia. For a while I was focused on Thailand but I’ve heard that I might like Vietnam even more. But it will be a while before I can afford that plane ticket.

Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 01.34.24: Tell us a little about the blog you keep to document your travel experiences.

Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 19.00.27: I started the blog as a way to show people that it is possible to do a trip like this without spending as much as you might think you have to. We learned a lot when we were planning this trip and I don’t want all that knowledge to go to waste. I write about our experiences in each city and what we learned both in preparing to leave and once we were there. Blogs like this really helped us when we were looking for things to do, so I want to help other people in the same way. I think this is an experience everyone should have if they want to!

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