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9 Things I Enjoyed in Belém more than the Torre de Belém

By May 21, 2015 Lisbon
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Today I learned one of my new favorite quotes, but I learned it in Portuguese so this may be a bit off:

Tudo vale a pena quando a alma não é pequena.

This was exactly the mentality I was trying to have while visiting Belém, a suburb of Lisbon known mainly as the part of the city that used to guard the port into Lisbon and secondly as the departure point of Vasco De Gama as he set off to conquer India in the 1500s. Now, Belém is visited mainly by tourists to visit the famous Torre de Belém, the Presidential Palace, or the Pasteis de Belém.

I had visited Belém on my last trip to Lisbon and thought it was pretty mehr to be honest, so when I arrived this time and heard all the talk about how you “must go to Belém,” I felt pressured to try it again.

So I took a few hours on Monday morning, paid €1.70 for the thirty-minute train ride, and arrived in Belém…with pretty much the rest of the entire train who also got off at the Belém stop. It seemed like there were two groups of tourist motives – those who headed straight for the Torre de Belém and those who headed straight for the Pasteis de Belém. I decided to part left and go for the Torre as well, but upon arrival, I noticed nothing had changed except that this time there were were segways and selfie sticks.

It’s not that I don’t mean to give credit to a worldwide-known statue that represents something important to a country, but for the sake of making your Lisbon trip the most exciting it can be, I just want to say that a trip to the Torre de Belém is probably not going to much of a marker of your trip. So with this new tudo vale a pena quand a alma não é pequena mentality, here a few things I personally enjoyed 10x more than the Torre de Belém.

First off, you don’t have to go to pastel de Belém like everyone says you do

Bring up Belém to anyone in Lisbon and the first thing they’ll ask is, “You got the pastel de Belém, right?” Let me break it down for you in my very watered-down knowledge of cuisine. The pastel de nata is português for a vanilla cream puff with a croissant-y flaky crust. It’s sweet and cinnamon-y and perfect paired with a cafézinho (an espresso shot). With that being mentioned, the pastel de Belém is said to be the crème de la crème (literally), as you’ll notice from the ten-minute line of tourists wrapping around the building. This line, by the way, is only for take-away service; you can still get a pastel de Belém in the same amount of time or less if you opt for table service by simply walking in the restaurant like you own the place.

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How I ended up working at a hostel bar in Lisbon for one month

By May 16, 2015 Life Stories, Lisbon

Every traveler knows there are cities you connect with, and others you just don’t. For me, it’s been Paris, Berlin, and Lisbon – and I’ve lived in two of those. Lisbon, though, has been on my radar ever since I visited in 2012. The orange tile rooftops, the crooked alleyways filled with colorful street art, and ha, let’s not forget the Portuguese language – it was all so different from everywhere I had lived before (New York, Barcelona, Paris…um, Indiana, hello!).

After spending the past four years going through a true love-hate relationship with New York City, I could feel my time there was about to expire, as my relationship was starting to turn more hate than love. I knew it was time to do something. Yes, a move to LA was imminent, but ever since living in Paris, I’d been dying to move back to Europe, even if it’s only for the 90 days the Schengen Region allows Americans. With all that on my mind, it was time to check back in with Lisbon.

I emailed the hostel I had stayed at my first time in Lisbon (Lisbon Destination Hostel) to tell them how much I enjoyed my stay and just how MTV Real World their hostel looked (seriously). I decided to throw in a quick PS about how I’d love to work at the front desk for a few weeks.

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The hostel that put other hostels to shame.

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5 Things You Can’t Forget to Do Before Traveling

By May 14, 2015 Must-Haves
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1. Put a travel notice on your debit and credit cards

To avoid having your heart sink to your butt because you got an “error, can’t access your funds” message in the middle of a foreign country while trying to withdraw money from a local ATM, you need to make sure that every time you travel, you put a travel notice on your bank cards. If you forget to do this, your bank will assume a rando overseas is trying to steal your money, when in reality, you’re now broke with no access to your own account. Let the bank know where you’re traveling abroad and for how long to avoid living this nightmare. The only thing that’s just as bad as getting robbed abroad is having your cards without being able to actually use them, don’t be that #traveln00bie.

2. Call your phone company to see if you get free data overseas, or suspend your line altogether

Damon and I both have T-Mobile’s simple choice plan (no this is not a sponsored post but is something you might want to look into getting yourself). This plan allows us free unlimited data overseas, aka we’ll be posting our adventures on social media and youtube free of charge, can’t forget free calling on facebook messenger or whatsapp. It also allows free wifi calling to people back home, so if you’re connected to your hostel wifi, your phone will work just like it would back home. If you don’t have a plan that gives you free data abroad, or just want to disconnect while traveling, call your phone company and have them suspend your line. You’ll most likely have to pay $10-15 for suspending it each month, but it’s better than paying the full amount that your bill would normally be. Save the dollars for travel, not unused cell phones!

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How to Spend a Day in Wicker Park

By May 12, 2015 Chicago, Midwest
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Before my next three month Eurotrip I decided to take a trip to Chicago – a city I’ve been to probably about a trillion times and also a city I have never left the downtown. Gasp! Aren’t I a great travel blogger? Back when I was growing up in Indiana, I would take a trip to Chicago nearly every year, either for a field trip or family trip, or spontaneous trips like that one time I drove shoeless because I wanted to have a more comfortable drive, just to get to Chicago and realize I forgot to bring any shoes at all. As you see, Chicago and I have never really clicked, and I know this especially now in comparison to so many other big cities I have clicked with.

This time, passing through Chicago, I wanted to do anything except be downtown. I didn’t care about the Bean, the Loop, the Magnificent Mile, or the Willis Tower – which, by the way sorry, but that tower will always be the Sears Tower to me. So I scoped out Lincoln Park, Wicker Park, and Logan Square all on Google and five minutes after doing so, I found a subway stop named Damen and I was convinced it was a sign: Wicker Park, here I come.

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After an oddly interesting train ride you can read all about that in the appropriately named post,  The man I sat next to on the train ride on ChicagoI got off at the Damen station and made my way to my hostel, well scratch that, I actually first made my way to a taco joint named Flash Taco because their $4 three burrito and a coffee morning special lured me in immediately. You wave my three months in Latin America at me like that and I’ll be in your restaurant asap.

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