Month: February 2017

Travel Stories

Finding Inspiration in St. Augustine, Florida

What inspires you? Is it a good book? A movie? A day trip to see something new? Whatever it is, getting inspired is my favorite thing. I’m sure you can probably guess what inspires me, but if you can’t, its traveling! It doesn’t matter where I go, near or far, I always find something that touches me in a new way, lifting spirits and motivating me to keep doing the things I love.

Although many people think traveling is always a long luxurious trip, I’m here to tell you that even a small day trip can inspire you like it inspired me.

Recently, I took a trip up to St. Augustine with my best friend Molly (who also helps me out with this blog!), and it was a day filled with adventure and inspiration.

I had never been to this coastal town before, even though it is only about three and half hours from where I lived. Molly, on the other hand, had and she told me it was filled with history and old homes. So we made a plan to head out to St. Augustine before dawn, that way we could watch the sunrise in Daytona as a mid-way stop.


Even though we left a bit later than we wanted, we stopped for some coffee and still got a beautiful view of the sun rising above the water. There was a slight cold brisk in the air that kept me excited for the rest of the day.


We drove along A1A, which is a road stretched along the east coast of Florida. Driving on this road instead of the typical highway is a fun way to see more of the beautiful natural scenes that Florida is made of. After awhile we crossed the bridge into the town where we then parked the car and headed off to see some sights.


St. Augustine is the oldest city in America, established in 1565. This city is the big field trip for most fourth grade classes in Florida, because of its history. The architecture is more European than American, because it was build by Spanish settlers.


We walked along the main roads parallel to Flagler College, a liberal arts college right in town. We walked in and out of cute coastal yet historic shops. My favorite was Red Pineapple that sold jewelry, old postcards and quote cards. I bought two cards and took a business card to remember them in my travel journal.


We stopped by a fudge shop to buy some delicious fudge and chocolate. Molly told me that she makes it a point to come by there to buy some treats when she visits, because the fudge is too good to pass on.

As we walked among the rest of the tourists, we came upon a bike shop where we rented bikes and headed off for our own tour of St. Augustine. If you’re ever in a new city or town, I recommend renting a bike so that you can see lots of sights in a small amount of time.


We biked beside the water near the marina where we watched boats sail by on that clear day. We rode past joggers walking their dogs along the old torn up sidewalks in front of beautiful homes. Best of all, we passed a bride taking picture with her bridesmaids on the cobble stoned streets in front of houses that have been there for centuries.


The small island seemed to have transported us back to simpler times filled with old memories. I loved smelling the sea in the air and feeling the breeze as I rode along the streets and thought to what the explorers who founded this place must have felt.


Molly and I then headed over to St. Augustine Beach as the sun set behind us ending the day on a beautiful note. We chatted about our lives as we sat and watched people walk by.


This day filled with little adventures had given me a sense of excitement and inspiration after not having traveled for awhile. Even though it was a day trip, it was more than enough to give me the exploring feeling I so desperately craved leaving me inspired to take on the world again.


If any of you ever feel uninspired, make an adventure and do something you love to do or something completely new. Take a mini road trip with some friends or even by yourself. Don’t be afraid to get out there and live!

So may your day be bright and your spirits soar!


Travel Tips and Tricks

Diagon Alley in Universal Studios Orlando

To be completely honest, I don’t trust anyone who doesn’t like Harry Potter. What’s not to love about that incredible magical world?! I was fifteen when I read and watched the films for the first time, which was a bit late in the game, but I fell in love. The storylines, the characters, and the entire world in Harry Potter is capable of warming anyone’s heart.

Since the end of the phenomenal series, Universal Studios in Orlando, and now in California, have made a whole wizarding world that you can see and experience. For die-hard fans like myself, you may ask, is the world a good representation of what the books and the films have captured?

I’m here, as someone who lived in Orlando for more than five years, to say 100 percent yes! I’ve spent many afternoons in this spectacular mini theme park discovering all the incredible things to see and do! I’m here to tell you guys how to get the best out of this amazing place and more specifically in the Diagon Alley half located in Universal. (I will be posting a separate post for the Hogwarts and Hogsmeade area.)

Shopping

“Harry wished he had about eight more eyes. He turned his head in every direction as they walked up the street, trying to look at everything at once; the shops, the things outside them, the people shopping doing their shopping…There were shops selling robes, shops selling telescopes and strange silver instruments Harry had never seen before, windows stacked with barrels of bat spleens and eels’ eyes, tottering piles of spell books, quills and rolls of parchment, potion bottles, globes of the moon…”

The passageway into Diagon Alley hold true to the descritption the reader is given in the book. At your first glance of the hidden London pathways, it will truly feel like you’ve entered a whole new world.

Diagon Alley is filled with shops of all kinds. Some are for display, but many of them are filled with trinkets and clothes to buy. So, get yourself a joke toy from Weasley Wizard Wheezes, a robe from Madam Malkin’s Robes for All Occasions, a Nimbus 2000 from Quality Quidditch Supplies and don’t forget to stop by and choose your wand from shops like Gregorovitch or my favorite Ollivanders. There are so many shops to check out, and by doing so, you will be immersed in what feels like a never-ending world.

Right around the corner of the bright and colorful side of Diagon Alley is also the dark and mysterious Knockturn Alley where Borgin and Burkes is located, even though I’m a proud Gryffindor, it’s my favorite part of Diagon Alley.

 

Food

Once you get tired out by all the shopping, you can head into some of these places to grab a meal, snack or even better a delicious Butterbeer.

The biggest place to set your bags down and enjoy a warm comforting meal is in the Leaky Cauldron. Nothing makes me feel more like I’m in Harry Potter’s world than entering into this quick meal restaurant and seeing all the different decorations.

Want to try a cool quick snack? Try Florean Frotescue’s Ice-Cream Parlour for some delicious and unique options of ice cream.

Rides

Unlike the other part of this two-area adventure, Diagon Alley only features one special ride that is non-other than Gringotts. This ride is absolutely amazing and everything you could hope for in a ride because it truly immerses you into Harry Potter’s world. I don’t want to spoil too much but this one is definitely a must!

Depending on what time of the year it is, the wait times can be extremely long or they can be quite short. The best time I have found to go during the year is January, February, September, and early October. The time of week is probably Tuesday – Thursday with there being less people out and about because of school and work. The best time of day to head over is either incredibly early in the morning or as the park is nearly closing.

If you happen to hit a waiting time, try Single Rider! Even though you will be separated from your group, the line is usually much shorter.

Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure also offers an Express Pass, which allows you to basically skip the line, but I’ve never bought it and in my honest opinion I think it’s a waste of money especially since lines are never too long if you’re there at a good time.

There is also the Hogwarts Express, which allows pass holders of both theme parks to ride of the train all the way to Hogwarts. Also, don’t want to spoil too much, but if you’ve bought the tickets for both parks you should check this one out for sure!

My Verdict: Worth the money and time? 

Nothing makes me happier than spending a few hours here in this gorgeous and unique world. Honestly I would buy a ticket to the parks just to spend all my time in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. So, make sure you make time to experience the adventurous place!

Like J.K. Rowling once said “Whether you come by page, (theme park) or big screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.”

All You Need Is Love : 5 Tips on Traveling with Family

Travel Tips and Tricks

All You Need Is Love : 5 Tips on Traveling with Family

Sometimes all you need is a lovely dose of family, especially when you’re traveling. This past week, as part of a road trip, I traveled with my immediate family to visit a lot of extended family. I could travel forever by myself and yet I would always feel like I am missing something from back home. It isn’t a place or a house, but rather the people in my life that matter the most to me.

After what happened to me in London, I’ve enjoyed moments with my family more because I know at the end of the day, they love me unconditionally and to experience an adventure with them is a treat.

While traveling with family may seem hard to many people, I’m here to tell you that it is absolutely possible! I’ve written five tips based on my personal experiences traveling with family, whether you have young kids or older teens to show you how you can achieve a great trip.

  1. Be Flexible!

I know the prime time to head out and go on vacation with your family is during a time when kids are off school, but if you really want to have a memorable, cheap, and beneficial trip try to travel outside the usual vacation days.

Although I was homeschooled for many years of my life, I also spent many years in school (specifically High School) and I traveled during it all. The trick here is to be flexible enough to travel on low seasons when the kids are in school.

I know it may seem crazy, but if you want to travel to a far and exotic place or even just to a nearby theme park, talk to the children’s school principle and tell them all about the experience the kids will gain and the things they will learn while on this specific trip.

My greatest lessons have come from traveling the world when I was younger. I learned how to say phrases in new languages, tried different foods and learned just how loving people from around the world can be.

As for work, try to use some of your time off for the unusual dates, which will actually be easier because you won’t have to compete with co-workers for time off around the busy tourist months.

2. Cruises!!


Like I recently stated in a blog, this is my favorite form of transportation and I’ve been doing it since I was six years old, loving every minute of it even then.

This is why: Cruises are great for families of all sizes, because the ship has all sorts of actives for everyone! Many cruise lines have special baby, kid and teen area designated by age for kids to hang out with other children their age and for the adults to have some time for themselves.

There are also endless opportunities to get together and discover some exciting things to do on and off the ships, like on some cruises they have rock climbing and water slides. Off the ships, the whole family can get together to explore the different ports the cruise ships will dock in, which could be anywhere from the Caribbean to Australia.

I love this option because everything is included in your cruise like accommodations, food, and entertainment (alcohol beverages, sadly, are not). Be sure to look up all the different types of cruises that you and your family can enjoy!

3. Do Kid Friendly Activities and Visa Versa!


Whether you’re on vacation in Tennessee or France, be sure to include things that your kids or teenagers will enjoy. I remember walking for hours on trips out of the country and hating it, but enjoying the time when my parents would stop to get ice cream or go to a really cool museum. Add different things that the kids would really like doing to keep them entertained and happy.

Also remember to add in things you like doing! If you’re in Disney World for the kids, be sure to do attractions you enjoy, like doing Child’s Swap with your partner and go on some rollercoasters the kids couldn’t do. Find a happy medium for everyone!

4. Do New Activities with Extended Family!

When you’re off to see relatives for the holidays or they’re visiting you, try to do one new exciting thing for everyone to enjoy!

For example, in October my family and I visited my mom’s siblings who live north and we decided to all do some scary haunted houses and I literally laughed until I cried because of how much fun it was. For Christmas this past year, we decided to do a mirror maze which was just another hilarious thing to do with a bunch of relatives. This past week when I saw my extended family again, we headed to Philly to climb the Rocky steps and eat a delicious greasy Philly cheesesteak.

We always try to plan one big crazy thing to do together and with each new thing we do, I never fail to have a great time with my wild family.

5. Reach Out to Old Family and Friends

This past week, my family and I met up with my second cousin and his beautiful family. We caught up over some great food and drinks. It was great to learn about the importance of reaching out to family and friends I hadn’t seen in awhile.

Although it might have been awhile since the last time you saw them, you’ll get to hear new stories about how much has changed, yet find things you’ll have in common. So get out there and text, call or even Facebook people you may know nearby to where you’re headed and you’ll be in for a wonderful time!

Something I learned from all this traveling with my family is how much love I have for each and everyone of them. Today is Valentine’s Day and I think that even if you don’t have that special someone, thats okay because you probably have some amazing family and friends to share the day with.

Personally, I love Valentines Day because it’s a day that celebrates love (and chocolate), whether it’s romantic love or not, it’s a day to spend with the people who matter the most to you. So make a mini adventure and head somewhere new for the day or plan a trip for the whole gang!

Happy Valentines Day!

My Travel Plans for 2017!

My Life

My Travel Plans for 2017!

Today marks the first day of my new adventure! My parents have sold our home; I’ve quit my job and I’m ready to take on the world! Although this may seem crazy to some people, I’ve never felt more free and happy in my life. I’m so excited to see where the next few months will take me and I can’t wait to bring you guys along with me.

Road Trip

Although this country has gone through a lot over the past few months, it’s time to find the beauty in it. I’m heading west to hit up many famous cities across the states.

I’ve traveled many times abroad so I am amazed by my lack of travel right here in my own home country. I’m excited to see parts of the United States I’ve never been to before. America is so large and vastly different from state to state and I look forward to experiencing American culture in ways that I haven’t before.

Cruising!

I’m going back on my absolute favorite form of transportation and traveling east to Europe! The cruise will be stopping all along the Caribbean to visit five different islands. So, I’ll get to write to you guys about all the amazing things I see and do while on and off the cruise.

Europe

My parents’ anniversary is in June and we’re all planning to visit different countries across Europe. It truly is one of my favorite continents in the world and despite how I left it a few months ago, I’m overjoyed and grateful to get the chance to go back.

Saturday Specials!

Although it will not happen every single Saturday, I’m thrilled to announce that I will be posting a travel vlog on here as a Saturday Special on occasion! You’ll be able to find me on YouTube as Melody Wanders. This way you guys can truly come along with me on this crazy journey I’m about to take!

I hope in the next few months these posts will be able to inspire you all to go out there and live as fearlessly as you can, because life is short. Instead of waiting for a perfect moment to live your dream life, I want you guys to go out and do what makes you happy, which will lead you to that dream life. So, make those dream boards and take that first scary step, because anything is possible in this universe meant for dreamers.