Wanderlust #21: Tips For Lack of Cell Service When Traveling

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This is something that I would just like to say is a fault for Straight Talk as a company, their phones are locked until one year later. I went to Berlin on the notion that I would be able to put a temporary sim card on my phone that had data. Sadly, because I had purchased my phone in November of 2016, when May 2017 rolled around, it hadn’t been a year. It was extremely frustrating as an international traveler to not have that stability. So, I wanted to give tips on how to travel with no cellular service.

  1. Download an offline version of Google Maps. My favorite thing to do is to “favorite” all the places that I want to go to and then download an offline map version so that I can reference it when I have no WiFi.
  2. Take screenshots of the subway directions to your destination. You can be super sure and take directions back if you wish.
  3. Addresses and addresses. I would 100% recommend making an excel sheet and typing out all the addresses of the places that you want to go, screenshot it or have an offline copy so that if your map doesn’t work, then you can ask a taxi driver or local how to get to a certain place.
  4. Real maps! You can usually get a map of the area or a subway map at the front of the hotel or hostel that you are staying at. Otherwise, find a visitor center that will have all the information that you will need.

What are your tips when you have no cell service?

-Tiffany

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Wanderlust #20: The Berlin State of Mind

Image may contain: 1 person, cloud, sky, bicycle and outdoorPeople are on bicycles everywhere. No, literally, everywhere.

There is something about Berlin that has my heart and if I could spend my life living there for a couple of years, it would be a dream. Although there are tourists, it isn’t like London where you are in a congested world of tourists. Berlin just has a vibe that is hipster and chill. I found that I just fell in love with waking up and being in a city that wasn’t like anything else that I had ever been in before. The fact that people were on bicycles everywhere made me wish that I could ride a bicycle. The people were all very kind there and it was only sketchy at night in certain areas. Since I was filming a short film there were a lot of people.

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A museum near Alexanderplatz.

I think that the beauty of Berlin is that there is so much to do and yet there can just be space. I should elaborate. When I walked to a destination I would just wander in the direction back to the hostel but not really worry about getting back by a certain time. I passed by homes, grocery stores, cafes, parks, etc. I had this sense of fear and freedom. I think that the biggest fear was being unable to communicate with people and with little to no cell service. I didn’t travel as far as I probably would have if I had a working cell service.

Image may contain: people sitting and outdoorMe taking the morning sitting outside the hostel to just enjoy Berlin and be grateful for what I have.

In Berlin, my worries were less about school and what I am doing with my life. My worries consisted of where I am going in life. Where do I see myself? I had a lot of freedom to really think about what my life is like right now and where it could go. I watched people in Berlin walk the streets and drive-by, living their life. Berlin is a place for exploring, adventure, self-exploration, and perspective.

Would you all be interested in an Italy and London version of state-of-mind?

-Tiffany

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Wanderlust #19: Berlin Hostel | The Circus Hostel

Image may contain: 1 person, smilingThis is me in the hostel bathroom downstairs. I know, cheesy, but the U-bahn map is so freaking cool!

To be honest, this was a wonderful hostel but it definitely had some pros and cons, more pros though. Upon arrival it is very open, there is a cafe to your left and a seating area on your right. The receptionist desk is a little farther in and they speak English which is nice. I had just had just had an awkward half-English conversation with the taxi cab driver, a super nice man. The whole place is very clean and has a calm and cool vibe. Now, time to break it down…

Price
I believe that it was about $27.00 per night in a larger room and a smaller room was about $36.00 a night. Of course, prices may have changed since I was there in May 2017.

Reception
Super helpful! I enjoyed talking to them when I needed help because I knew that whatever issues I had, they would happily help solve it.

Rooms
So, I ended up staying in two rooms, a 10-person room, and 2-person room. It was how it worked out with my flight schedule since my friend was booking it for me. The 10-person room was co-ed and it was okay to stay in. It was a little awkward because there was absolutely no privacy. Unlike Palmer’s Swiss Cottage in London, where curtains gave privacy, this was wide open. I also wasn’t used to sleeping in a room with men I didn’t know. The first night was mainly women with one male and the second night was a bunch of males and only me. It was fine though. I moved to the 2-person room where I stayed with one of the actresses on the short film I was working on in Berlin. She was awesome. The private room was also just perfect for privacy. There was a table and chairs and two chairs, a lockbox and dresser. My only issue with the hostel’s rooms is that there is no air conditioning, at least, not set on a cooler function. I was getting hot most nights which made it uncomfortable to sleep. So, to solve that, I left the window open. The windows are huge and let a lot of light in but the sounds of the ambulances is insane because they are louder than American ones. The noise from partiers is also a little obnoxious but that happened mainly on one night.

Bathrooms
The bathrooms are separated by male and female bathrooms, the showers are separated. The bathrooms are small but they have enough room so that you can change in the stall while the showers are a little roomier but they don’t have shelves. It was kind of frustrating to have to keep opening the door to grab what I needed, getting water everywhere.

Location
A great location if you don’t want to be around the center of the city. The great thing about this hostel is that it is on the corner of the intersection and there are so many cute shops and restaurants that make living at the hostel so easy. There is a flea market called the Flohmarkt am Mauerpark which is a definite must if you are in that area, it is about a twenty-minute walk. There is a park that is about five minutes or less from the hostel as well that is super cute. The U-bahn (subway) is right outside the hostel which is so nice and easy to get to other locations.

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Food
This is a selection of the breakfast that you can get at the hotel using a voucher or paying about 5-10 euros (I think). My absolute favorite thing to get was the yogurt with the chocolate and granola mix. It was so good and refreshing in the morning. There weren’t any warm foods, a lot of cold cuts and fruit. You could toast the bread but that was the only “warm” food. Orange juice and coffee are non-refillable so you would need to pay for another glass. Water is free. You can get other sandwiches and goods which are made fresh every day from their display.

Let me know if you have questions!

-Tiffany

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Wanderlust #18: Language Barrier


Photo was taken at the Flohmarkt in Mauerpark in Berlin!

The language barrier in Berlin is not as drastic as some might think. Sure, there are plenty of people who don’t speak English but they do try to help in the best way that they can. I love that the people were kind enough to be patient with me or take my pointing at things on the menu as a sign not to judge me too harshly. I think that because I stayed at a hostel that shop owners in the surrounding area spoke more English.

For example, the people at the falafel shop right downstairs, across the street, spoke a little English and were friendly. The woman at the sushi spot around the corner spoke no English, she actually spoke Vietnamese and then German to me, but I couldn’t speak either German or Vietnamese. I may not understand German but I was always, always, thankful and made sure to tell people “Danke” (“Thank you”) every time I got food or went shopping. I feel that it is our number one priority (aside from being safe) as outsiders in a new place to be thankful for the people who help make our situation a little easier.

This was short and sweet but I think that it definitely had to be said. I hope that more people will take the moment to just appreciate and remember all the people who helped you when you were lost or couldn’t understand a different language.

Lots of love.

Wanderlust #17: How I Got to Travel to Berlin

This is way overdue when it comes to updating everyone but I am so excited to share my Berlin adventures. I had a summer of fun and hard work and I am just getting around to talking about Berlin. Boy, do I have a lot to talk about! There is a whole series of Berlin blog posts I have cooking in my head so that I can share them with you. Now, how did I get to go to Berlin? I actually didn’t think that I would have the chance to travel internationally because my plan for the summer involved a summer job and summer school.  Thankfully, an opportunity came my way that I hadn’t expected. I was working on a short film project one weekend and talking to my friend, a wig and makeup artist, and she mentioned how she was going to Berlin for a short film with a group of people from the school.

I asked her if they had someone who was going to do wardrobe and she told me that they hadn’t thought of using someone. I texted the co-producer, someone I had worked with before, and he told me the basics. I told him that I was in almost instantly. Logistically, I knew how to get somewhere on my own and it didn’t worry me since I traveled to Italy and London last year, solo for a month and a half. I asked my wig and makeup friend where she bought her ticket. I used WOW Air which saves you a ton of money. My flight to was about $320-330 and my flight back was about the same amount. In total, I spent around $750 which was a huge steal. I can give you all specific amounts if you really want it. I also purchased my hostel stay which was about $500 for two weeks. Miscellaneous costs were food, transit, and personal gifts.

How did I pay for it though? Well, I will be absolutely honest, I used my student loan money that I had from my refund check. I find that it is absolutely justifiable in this way because I am using it as a school expense. I went to the bank to get euros ahead of time so that I wouldn’t have to struggle to try to get money later upon arrival.

I hope that this gives you all some insight and I will be talking about WOW Air because it is important to really be able to save money and I think that they are worth it! (not sponsored) So, let me know where your favorite place to travel has been, domestic or international!

Let me know where your favorite place to travel has been, domestic or international!

-Tiffany

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Wanderlust #21: Misconceptions of New York

IMG_2835New York has always been a place that I wanted to go to and when I was around the age of 11 or 12, my whole family went for a wedding. I have never been more afraid in my life. My parents, like many others, are super overprotective and very cautious. It frustrates me to this day that they impose their fears onto me because I don’t want that negativity in my life. I don’t want my experiences to be soiled by their fears. Thankfully, my idea of New York changed when my friend let me stay at her place. If you have seen my recent posts, I talk about my experiences in New York and I cannot wait to go back. Now, before I get into all of this, I will say that there are always truths in each misconception but it is not the full truth. My parents made it seem like New York was full of hooligans and murderers only.

IMG_1097Misconception #1: You will get hurt in New York if you head out at night. I was actually nervous when my friend sent an Uber for me around 10:00 pm because I am not someone who goes out at night at all. I got in and went to her restaurant to find that the people in the restaurant and the people around were really nice. The atmosphere was so different than what I was used to. New Yorkers just don’t care that you are walking around. I was in the Lower East Side which made the experience so much more authentic because it wasn’t full of tourists. I remember going through the city in the wee hours and not feeling weighed down.

Misconception #2: New York is dirty. To a certain extent, yes. I will say that I was nervous because I would see trash bags on the sidewalk and be worried about all the rats. I actually only saw one rat. I found out that the main reason that trash bags are on the street is that there are no trash containers for the trash trucks to grab. The subways are not the cleanest and it does smell but it isn’t the worst thing. I saw so many interesting people on the subway and it really gives you another perspective to the New York experience if you want a well-rounded one.

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Misconception #3: Don’t trust anyone. I can understand this if you are in a heavy tourist area because when I did go to Times Square or Staten Island, so many people kept asking us to buy tickets to this and that. However, if you are not in the main area of New York where there are so many people bombarding you with tickets and things, you can find the gems that are decent people. My friend had to go to work and because I wasn’t going to get to her apartment in time, she left her keys next door at a restaurant with a worker. Another day she left her keys at a deli with the owner for a guest. It blows my mind because I feel like if you did it in other cities that people would give you a funny look. Maybe I am wrong, but it just changed my perception of the people there.

IMG_2819Misconceptions #4: Cabs will steal from you. I am sure that it does happen but each cabbie I was a customer of was either quiet or very nice. I love that the cabs in New York have a credit card machine so you don’t have to have cash on you at all times. I also think that the media portrays some cab drivers as people who will drive away with your luggage or that people will throw up in those cars and the cabbies won’t clean them up.

Misconception #5: You can’t sit on the Met steps. This is going to sound silly but I swear that I read that you couldn’t sit on them because so many people kept doing it when Gossip Girl was on the air.

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Misconception #6: You won’t get anywhere if you take a car. Not true. Sure, you could probably get somewhere by walking much faster than by car. I feel that my friend and I got to the Seaglass Carousel from where she was much faster than if we had taken the subway because we didn’t have to wait for a subway car that was delayed. If you are with a cabbie or uber driver then you are fine because they know just how crazy to drive to get you to your destination.

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Misconception #7: New York is full of people who are not happy with their lives. Not true at all. There are so many people who thrive in New York, like my friend who is living in the city of her dreams. New York offers people so many cultures in one small area of the world. The people who live in New York, truly live in New York, find something about it that speaks to them or keeps them going.

Have you heard any misconceptions of New York that changed?

-Tiffany

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Wanderlust #20: Anastasia on Broadway

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I reunited with my sister after a couple of days to meet up with her and her friends. I cannot even begin to express how beautiful this musical was. It had the perfect mix of traditional-childhood and brand new. I wasn’t sure what to expect but I was pleasantly surprised. My favorite costume was the queen’s/tsarina’s because it had the most beautiful long cape that just trailed across the floor. Even though I was in the mezzanine, the costume was the most amazing out of them all. The one thing I am most disappointed in is Anastasia’s final look, you know, the yellow gown that we all know from childhood. However, she came out in a red dress that kind of made her look short from the mezzanine. I looked into the concepts of the costumes and found that the red was meant to represent the color of royalty.

Overall, the impact of using history added more depth to the musical but I found myself falling in and out of the story. I think that if I had been closer then I would have a better perspective. I think that I will definitely go back to see this musical again. Out of all the musicals I have seen that is stemmed from a childhood movie, this was the best interpretation because it had something new for audiences but still kept a lot of the heart of the material.

IMG_1223(Onee-chama is just an old nickname, so just ignore that on the snapchat lol)

-Tiffany

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Wanderlust #19: Tourist Eyes in New York

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Out of all the things I wanted to do in New York, the Seaglass Carousel was the number one thing that had to happen. If you don’t know what Seaglass Carousel is, it is a carousel that is in Battery Park near the Staten Island Ferry. The carousel has four rotating boards that have large fish that you can sit in. The carousel lasts 3 minutes and it is the most magical thing. I wish I could have gone at night but when I did, they were closed (definitely supposed to be open but they closed early) but I did enjoy the daytime visit.

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After hanging out around the Seaglass Carousel, where I purchased some cool souvenirs, we went to MoMa and the Metropolitan Museum. I had Anastasia this night so we were tight on time but we made it work. I saw all of MoMa, something you can do in a couple of hours, but only got through a small portion of the Met. I saw a beautiful exhibit that included what Rihanna wore to The Met Gala. Really interesting and structural pieces.

I did get to relive my dream of sitting on the Met steps from Gossip Girl. I wish I could have been on the steps a little bit longer and spend some time just enjoying New York in that way.

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-Tiffany

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