vacation

Beach Hopping the Nicoya Peninsula

BY CAILIN BURKE

For our last few days in Costa Rica we wanted to just relax on the beach after packed days of rainforest hiking and adventure activities. So we headed to the Nicoya Peninsula on the Northwest Coast which is known for their beaches. Basically every town on the coast has it’s own beach so we wanted to visit as many as possible and ended up hitting three of them! We started at Playa Brasilito which was the longest beach and perfect if you want to walk all along the shoreline (which is what we did during the sunset!) Connected to Playa Brasilito is Playa Conchal so it was easy just to go from one to the other!

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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!

Rockaway Beach

BY CAILIN BURKE

It’s crazy that amidst all of NYC there can be beautiful beaches within the boroughs! We had already been to Brighton Beach (near Coney Island- read our post about it here!) so I wanted to try something new and had heard Rockaway Beach in Queens was beautiful! It was tricky to get there since we found out much, much too late that there was limited subway service. The good thing is that normally all you have to do is take the subway there so it’s such an affordable trip! In our instance though, we had to transfer to a bus but it ended up working out since it took us further down the beach and we ended up getting off around 100th St. This area was far less crowded than the rest of the beach so we lucked out (but shh don’t tell too many people!). Rockaway Beach was just as I had heard, beautiful, clean, and so relaxing!

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Newport Part III

BY CAILIN BURKE

During our last day, we wanted to finish up all of the things we didn’t have time to do the previous few days. We weren’t able to complete all of Cliff Walk the first day so we went back the next morning! I really wanted to see the 40 Steps which is just 40 steps that go down towards the ocean (yup, we counted) and this area had the most epic view of the ocean. From here it looks like the water never ends! We were also lucky that no one else was there at the time so we had a mini photo shoot and just stared out for awhile before heading to our next destination… Ocean Avenue!

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A Mini-Getaway to Newport

BY CAILIN BURKE

Tara and I decided that we desperately needed to see something new and get out of the city for a bit, and Tara had the great idea to go to Newport, Rhode Island! It had always been on my list and since it is their off-season right now, it was a really affordable trip. Tara couldn’t take a lot of time off from work, so this was the perfect way to getaway for a few days and see a brand new place, without actually going too far. Newport ended up being the perfect choice because it really felt like a vacation, complete with the ocean on one side of the island, Narragansett Bay on the other, an amazing hotel, and tons of seafood. We were there for a couple of days and did too much for just one post, so part II and III of our trip will be coming up shortly.

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At Home Spring Break Tips

BY TARA BURKE

You don’t have to go away on some luxurious or party crazy vacation to feel like you’re on spring break. In fact staycations are all the rage due to the slow economy. For whatever reason, if you’re stuck at home during this spring break don’t let it get you down. Take the opportunity to unwind, pamper yourself and enjoy some time off.

Tip #1- Have a spa day! They’re so many amazing convenience store spa items these days and they’re really inexpensive. You can go for the typical green tea mask or try something a little more adventurous like an acai clay mask. One time my sister and I tried a chocolate mask. It was such a treat (pun intended)! It smelled like real chocolate and it was super creamy like a mud mask. We usually go for the $2 Freeman brand masks.

Then grab a magazine or good book, make a cup of tea or a fruity drink, and draw a bath. Throw in some bubble bath, a bath bomb, some scented beads and bath oil. If that doesn’t get you relaxed I don’t know what will.

After you get out of the tub, give yourself a pedicure and manicure. Just like the masks, they’re some great value products for smoothing and moisturizing your feet and hands. I like to use a rice scrub for my feet. I got mine pre-made from a store, but you can easily make your own. Here is an easy recipe to make your own foot scrub. For my hands I usually use an Avon product that my mom gets from an associate from work, but as far as hand creams go I don’t really have a loyal go-to brand. I’m a total brand switcher when it comes to moisturizer. Hey, you probably saved a lot of money staying home so you could just head over to your local nail place and have someone else pamper you!

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Tip #2- Find a body of water. This may be impossible for some people, but chances are you have some type of water near you that you can take a day trip to. If you live near the ocean, lucky you! For me, a river will have to do, but there’s something about running by water that is just so much better than running around your neighborhood. If you’re up for the challenge, get up early and catch the sunrise while you’re on your run. It may be an inadequate alternative to running along the beach, but nature doesn’t usually disappoint. A sunrise is beautiful wherever you are. If you’re back at your parent’s house, either get your family or high school friends together for brunch. It’s a perfect way to kick-start your day.

Tip #3- Do something new! Chances are they’re some pretty cool things in your local area that you’ve never checked out. Go to an open-mic at a cafe, visit an art gallery, try a new trendy restaurant or take a road trip to another town, city or state and explore. What I find so fun about vacations is that there’s never a dull moment. You’re always off jet-setting to new places to do new things. Take the first few days of spring break at home to sleep-in and catch up on all your TV shows, but after that get out there and discover something new. You’ll probably come back home with some vacation-worthy memories.

London: On a Time Limit

BY TARA BURKE

I cannot put into words how much I love London. Cailin and I were blessed enough to have the opportunity to study abroad there my Junior spring semester of college for 4 months, but with everyone’s busy schedule it is lucky if you can manage a two week vacation to the amazing city. In addition, since travelling throughout Europe is fairly easy and inexpensive, compared to the U.S., many people choose to spend a few days in several different countries when they get the chance to travel.

So, if you need a quick guide to tackling London, while still getting an authentic experience, I’ve got you covered with this 3 day guide!

 Day 1

– Find a great little cafe near your hotel/hostel for a quick breakfast and a coffee/tea before you start your first big day! Local cafes are everywhere in London. Just ask your accommodation staff where their favorite around-the-corner spot is. Otherwise, there are plenty of Starbucks and Pret-a-Mangers around to get your morning caffeine fix.

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-Take the Tower of London tour! You can find more info. about the tour here: http://www.hrp.org.uk/TowerOfLondon/. Tickets are a little pricey at about £21 for Adults. Students, children and Seniors get discounted prices. However, it is totally worth it! You get a tour of the tower from hilarious Beefeaters, you can gawk at the British Crown Jewels, see cool exhibitions and re-enactments and tromp along the tower walls as if it were all yours! All the while you can see a great view of Tower Bridge.

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-Get some chow! I must admit I am not a huge foodie expert when it comes to London. Being a student there meant I was more broke than usual. The pound is almost double the dollar! My advice: you can’t go wrong with fish and chips at a pub.

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-Take the tube to the Westminster stop. Take a moment to gaze at Big Ben and walk over to The Eye. If you go around dusk you can see them in the daylight and at night. They’re both beautifully different perspectives. Stroll. Take some time before dinner to just walk in whatever direction the wind takes you. Central London is bustling with energy and it feels great to soak it all in.

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-After dinner you can venture to Piccadilly Circus, the Times Square of London.

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 Day 2

-Eat an English Breakfast. All those hearty beans, fried eggs, and bacon will keep you full till at least tea time!

-Try and get to the ticket booth to see a West End show later tonight for a discount. This link will tell you all about it: http://www.londontheatre.co.uk/londontheatre/info/tickets.htm

-Fit in Buckingham Palace if you have a chance on this day. The Guards start arriving at 11:15am. If you don’t have time try again the third day.

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-Go to Trafalgar Square and go to the National Gallery if you are an art buff. If you are not an art fanatic, try the National Portrait Gallery instead. It is much smaller and there is a chance that even if you don’t know the artists, you will known the influential people portrayed in their paintings. Museums are also FREE and make a great rainy day activity!

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-Visit the Southbank. Visit The Globe, a replica of Shakespeare’s original theater. See if any free events are going on in the area. I’d suggest you look up any special events that are going on during your stay. Chances are there is a super cool festival going on.

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-Feast your eyes on all the food at Borough Market for lunch (pun completely intended). Literally, the whole market is just a feast of delectable treats, scrumptious sandwiches and juicy fruit. While you’re there get a good look at The Shard, which is currently the tallest building throughout Europe.

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-See a West End Show!

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Day 3

-Rise and Shine, it’s already day 3! See those infamous guards protect Buckingham Palace if you missed it on Day 2. Get there earlier than 11am so you can get a good spot to watch. Otherwise, start your day by heading to one of the many markets in London (Camden, Portobello and Greenwich are just a few). Some of these markets can take hours to go through, but are a source of endless entertainment with knick-knacks and secret treasures just waiting to be discovered. They also have great food stands. Breakfast and a light lunch can be eaten here.

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-Head over to Covent Garden for tea time. Many people wish to experience English high tea with the cute tier of tea sandwiches and other pastries, but we found that cream tea was just as effective. Patisserie Valerie in Covent Garden has a great cream tea special for two at a much more affordable price than high tea. Remember, pinkies up! http://www.patisserie-valerie.co.uk/covent-garden.aspx

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-Explore Covent Garden. There are plenty of shops, restaurants, pubs and entertainment to discover in this area. If you have some time to kill, head over to Chinatown and go to O’ Neills, an Irish Pub that often has live music. Additionally, if something on my guide isn’t your thing, I left some extras for yah! If you love to shop try Oxford Street, the 5th Ave. of London, and definitely go to Harrods! The Westminster Abbey tour is also a good option. It is full of history and you can take your time going through all the tour stops since most people choose to use the hand held tour guides.

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Of course, there are many other things to do in London, but hopefully this guide can help you cover the basics if you’re working with a time crunch and are on a budget! Xx

Ten Things to Do While Abroad

BY TARA BURKE

1. Take 100s of photos. The memory is a strange thing. Often times you can remember where you went, but not what you saw. Photos will vividly bring back those memories, are tangible ways to share your experience with family and friends, and are great keepsakes to look back on in     future years.

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2. Put down the camera. At the same time, taking a million photos of that pretty flower you fell upon, will not make it any prettier. Take a moment to step back and enjoy your surroundings in the now.

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3. Keep a journal or blog. Write everything you do down. It is always fun to reflect on traveling. The amazing things you did, saw, learned and felt will all make for a wonderful trip down memory lane.

4. Try something new. Go zip-lining, ride a camel, surf, eat an insect, volunteer, make new friends, rent a vespa, or go dancing.

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5. Do anything and everything that is completely cliché about your destination. Take some touristy photos of yourself in those red phone booths in London and pretend you’re touching the tip of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. You know you want to, so just go for it!

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6. Buy some mementos. Even if it’s just a postcard from every place you visit. When you get home, you can place them in a cute travel box. On another note, it’s inevitable that you will shop a little while abroad. Don’t overpack. Girls, I know we are always tempted to bring our entire     closet because of that nagging voice inside our heads that says, “What if I end up wanting to wear this?” Ignore that sucker, instead bring a few key outfits that you are dying to show off. The rest should be comfortable, easily washable and interchangeable classic pieces.

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7. Don’t fret over the small things. Sure you got fined 50 Euros on an Italian train ride for         unknowingly not validating your ticket, or a cockroach climbs up your skirt in a metro station in Spain (sad, but true stories)… Be livid for 5 minutes. Don’t let it ruin your whole day.

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8. Have at least a few unplanned hours in your itinerary. You’ll be surprised at what magical things you can fall upon by strolling around aimlessly.

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9. Go to local places. Local restaurants, stores, bakeries, hotels, grocery stores and parks. Absorb yourself into another culture. Some cultural differences might make you appreciate home more, while others may make you want to stay in that place forever.

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10. Use the local lingo or speak the native language. I know we are told that it can be annoying when foreigners practice their speaking skills with locals, but most are openly willing to oblige. After taking years of a foreign language in school, don’t be afraid to try it. Plus, the level of      accomplishment you feel after ordering the correct meal in another language is unparalleled.

Most of all have a blast! Being able to travel is a huge privilege and every second should be enjoyed.              

Happy Travels!