Thirty (?) Hours of Layovers

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My gang of hooligans at Grandio, when I finally arrived!

Ahhh, the sweet price we pay to travel on the cheap.

My flight from Bali to Budapest took me to Jakarta, Singapore, and London first. On paper, it seemed reasonable. I leave on Wednesday night and arrive Friday afternoon. That’s not so bad, is it? Continue reading “Thirty (?) Hours of Layovers”

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Bali, so Bintang-y

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“Don’t you get sick of the instability?”

I’m sitting on the balcony of my hostel in Ubud, Bali, sipping a Bintang and watching the sunset over a rice patty with my newly acquired Dutch friend. She’s a teacher, on summer holidays for a few weeks. This is the one time a year that she leaves the comfort of home and goes to explore the world, and already she’s itching to get back.

“I love the thrill of living each day one at a time.” Continue reading “Bali, so Bintang-y”

Big Bananas, Byron Bay, and Brisbane

 

 Holy alliteration, am I right?

To ring in the new year (happy new year everyone!!) my sister came to visit me in Sydney. We only had two weeks together and wanted to see as much of Australia as we could, so I hired a car from Jucy rentals and we hit the coast!  Continue reading “Big Bananas, Byron Bay, and Brisbane”

Where 2015 Took Me

 

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As this year draws to a close, I’ve been thinking a lot about where it took me. If I told myself on January 1 of this year all the places I’ve seen and the crazy stuff I got into, I honestly don’t think I would have believed it. I knew this would be a big year for me, since I finally graduated from university, but I had no idea just how big it would get. Continue reading “Where 2015 Took Me”

London: Bar Crawl Edition

  

I find myself back in London once again, nearly exactly one year later. This time, I am here for longer and so have more time to explore the city truly, in my favorite way: by going to as many bars as possible. 

Our first excursion out into the city brought us to Camden Town for my friend’s 21st birthday celebration. It was a Monday, so not many bars were very active. We met a promoter on the street who offered a free drink for the birthday girl, so we stopped into Bar Vinyl and received a free shot a piece. The shots were some sort of creamy, coffee liqueur that the bartender then lit on fire. We grabbed two more cocktails at half price, so the whole night ended up only costing £10. We called it quits early because we were having a bit of a quiet evening, but Camden has so many other bars to offer for a big night out!

  
My next booze-fueled exploration brought me to SoHo, to Ronnie Scott’s jazz club. It was the night of another friend’s college graduation ceremony, so a large group of twenty-something’s were there and looking for a big night. We arrived after 11, so we had to pay a £12 cover and were the soberest ones there. Not for long! 

    

Downstairs at Ronnie Scott’s is a subdued, more upscale experience. There is a live performer and tables all around the dimly lit room where older couples were all enjoying their overpriced cocktails. Initially, my friend and I were seated here. This does not seem right looks were exchanged between us, both dressed in flannels and jeans. We soon figured out that the real party was upstairs, so we got out of there quickly. 

Upstairs, a young band was feverishly playing at the center of the dance floor. Drunk college graduates were jiving and swinging all around them. We were in the right place. My friend treated me to a cocktail or five, off of a rather overpriced cocktail menu. But damn, they were good. At 3 am, we were herded out onto the street to end our evenings. 

Overall, I’d give Ronnie Scott’s a 7 out of 10. It was great fun, with awesome music, but out of my budget. Once was plenty for Kylie. 

Friday night, we were looking for a little bar to just grab a few drinks in. We found Simmons Bar in King’s Cross, just a few blocks away from where I was staying. Simmons is well known because it is decorated like a 1950’s living room and because they serve drinks in tea cups. While we all ordered beers and so missed out on the tea cups, the experience was pleasant. The DJ played old jams that catered to the audience, which consisted of mostly people in their late twenties and early thirties. Drink prices were reasonable and we went home feeling good!

  
Saturday night was our first real big night out. We signed up for a bar crawl in Shoreditch, one of the most hipster neighborhoods of London. The bar crawl (Website here) started at a bar called Translate, where we received one free (and watered down) shot and had happy hour drinks for about £5 each. I got a whiskey drink, which was amazing. 

 
From there, we went on to Road Trip bar. This bar was on a corner and was pretty big. It is also a diner and sports bar. They offered rail vodka drinks for only £3, so we had several each. We weren’t here for long, but just long enough to take a selfie with their American flag painting!

   Our third stop was a Brazilian bar called Floripa. This is where the dancing started and the fun really began. Floripa offered cheap drinks for those of us on the crawl and had a stage that we could dance on. They pumped out Caribbean style dance music and even had a few go-go dancers to show us the ropes. Though we wanted to stay, we moved on just after midnight to our final destination. 

The last club of the night was Club Aquarium, close to the Old Street tube station in Shoreditch. There were dancers dressed like unicorns and plenty of other strange sights here. The music was okay, with mostly mo-town oldies and a few pop hits. It wasn’t my style, but I still spent a solid couple of hours getting down with my bad self. 

  
In all, I spent less than £20 on drinks for the whole bar crawl. That’s unheard of for a night out in London! Shoreditch is an awesome area, and we went back in the early evening the following day to hang out in one of the many cafes. We picked The Love Shake, a little retro diner on a bar-filled street. We grabbed a chocolate shake and a hot dog, for a total of only £6. The place offers free wifi and an overall awesome atmosphere for spending a few hours. 

  
My first week in London for this summer is coming to an end. I head off tomorrow for a five day tour of Northern England and Scotland before heading back to London for one more weekend. I feel like I have made a dent in seeing the city, but there is still so much more to explore. I look forward to seeing a bit more before I leave the UK indefinitely again!

Xoxo, k

And don’t forget! If you plan to travel in Europe and want to check out a festival, visit the Stoke Travel site and use promo code “kykyamplify” for unlimited free booze on any of our trips!!

One Month Out: Backpacking Prep

 

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Less than a month until I hit the road for 75 days with just my backpack and my wandering spirit. I have never been on the road for this long, so I am trying my best to prepare and to not freak out. But I am, a little bit.

Osprey backpack via the REI website
Osprey Farpoint 70 backpack via the REI website

Deciding on a backpack took me a few weeks of research. What I settled on was the Osprey Farpoint 70 Backpack in a size S/M. I wanted to get a front-loading backpack as opposed to a top loader due to the nature of my trip. I am not going adventure hiking. I am going camping, technically, but mostly I am just hostel-hopping around Europe. A front-loader is much easier for this sort of thing because I can gain access to my stuff like I would with a normal suitcase. Also, this pack and a detachable day-pack, which is super convenient.

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In terms of size, this pack is pretty small. But I needed something that I could use as a carry-on, if necessary. The only thing I may have to worry about is the weight limits for carry-on luggage. I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it, I suppose.

So far, I am happy with the pack and am really excited to push myself to only pack what fits into it. I know I am bringing some jean shorts and a few black tee shirts, but I am sure paring everything down will be a big challenge. To help me pack, I also purchased a set of three packing cubes. I decided to get three of the same size, since I don’t really see the point of huge ones and small ones.

Set of three packing cubes, with my hand for reference.
Set of three packing cubes, with my hand for reference.

I am still looking to do some more research and to finish booking the rest of my fights, trains, hostels, and buses! So much planning has gone into this trip. I will post the full itinerary and a packing list soon!

Stay Dreaming,

Ky

One Year Ago…

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I have the app Timehop on my phone, and today it notified me that exactly one year ago today, I left the comfort of America for adventure in Australia. As I think back to the person that I was then and compare her to who I am now, I wonder how much I have changed. As I return to the routine monotony that was my life before traveling the world, am I changed?

Deciding to leave my home took a great deal of courage, but I had just done it six months before when I moved rather spontaneously to Washington DC. I think my experience in DC served as a trial run. I put complete faith in myself and headed down to start a life with just $800 to my name. And I flourished. Australia for me was a more dramatic next step in a test of my spirit.

I always knew that I wanted to study abroad. I made the decision to go to Australia my freshman year of college, so I had that idea in mind for a long time before I departed. I did a decent amount of research leading up to my trip, finding out about how to go about getting a job internationally. But when I actually booked my flight and was enrolled at University of Sydney, it became real. Tangible.

When I stepped on the plane in LAX, I was very naïve. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I had been living in a bubble that is America and Western culture and I knew very little about the world. I was excited for a life of lounging in the sun, punctuated by periods of surfing and drinking. I didn’t yet know the rush of living on the road, of seizing every opportunity as it came for the sake of the story.

It was hard for me to conceptualize actually being in Australia. In my mind, Australia was a place on a map. It was a distant land that I could not actually imagine myself standing in. When I got off the plane, I felt very disoriented. The beautiful beaches and landmarks that formed Australia in my mind were replaced with the reality of a gloomy, hot, loud city. There were strange signs and everything was on the wrong side of the road.

It took time, but I acclimated to Australian life. I found a job; I navigated the city; I saw sights. I surfed for the first time and second time and third time. I thrived, again. I immersed myself in the Australia that you don’t see in a travel brochure. And then I began to explore more. I went to New Zealand and then left Australia with a backpack and spent a month tramping through Europe. I met people who changed my life, despite only being in it for less than twenty-four hours. I learned that a sunrise and a sunset in two completely different places could fill my heart in a way that I had never experienced before.

People may call it the “travel bug,” but I have been traveling since I was 6 months old. Some may call it “wanderlust,” but even that magical word doesn’t cover it. This was different. I fell head over heels in love with the world.

One year later, I have returned to the life I lived before stepping on that plane in LAX. But I have a completely new perspective. The world seems big and distant, but now I can picture myself standing in it. I look forward each day to a new horizon. I know how true love feels, and it is beautiful.