Tour Du Mont Blanc ~ DAY 2

Tour Du Mont Blanc ~ DAY 2

 

This is part 2 of my series on the Tour du Mont Blanc. Keep reading to find out how to plan for this amazing hike!

Myself and three girlfriends of mine from the USA were going on an organized trip with Adventures for Solo Travelers based out of Atlanta. I’ve been on several trips with them: I’ve been to Machu Picchu, hiking in Nepal, and now hiking the Tour du Mont Blanc (TMB). Check out my blog and video about Day 1! Day 2 started out rainy, but luckily it didn’t last long and it turned out to be a beautiful day. We started in Martigny and were headed to Lake Champex. The hike started with an hour and half of straight up!

We’re doing the three-day Tour du Mont Blanc with Alpine Treks a company based in Champex. We had three guides with us so the 24 of us were divided into three groups:

  1. A fast group that basically jogged the entire way!
  2.  The middle group which I would have been
  3. The slower group (the fun group!)

I wanted to take lots of photos and do my vlogging so I chose to hang back with the best people in the slow group. We always had the best guide and we took the most time for lunch.

I was very tired after a full day of hiking yesterday. My thighs, calves, and even my toes were sore because we spent most of the day yesterday going down. After about an hour of hiking, we stopped for a break at this beautiful meadow. It was a great opportunity for a snack, to reapply sunscreen, and rest our feet before we headed back up the mountain. After another 45 minutes of hiking, it was time for our next stop at a little hut where there were bathrooms, fresh alpine water, and a great spot for us to have lunch.

 

Lunch and after

Each day the food’s been a little bit different. Today, we have some chicken, delicious breads, five different cheeses, two different kinds of tomatoes, and the best part, avocados! The second half of our hike most of this way is down and it says that we have two hours and 40 minutes of walking Champex du Lac.

 

Something interesting about hiking in the Alps

They don’t measure distance by kilometres or by miles on the trail. They actually calculate the distance by the amount of hours it is that you’re going to be walking! For example, one section might say that it is two hours and 40 minutes away.

Our amazing guide, Nick, from Alpine Treks, taught us so much on the trail. He even showed us how to trail run! The secret to it is small quick steps. The second half of the hike had a lot more people on the trail. There were both day hikers and hikers with largepacks (probably camping or staying in some of the refuges along the way.)

One of the Highlights of the Trip

I was blown away by the variety of terrain. It seemed to change every 15 minutes or so! There were waterfalls and creeks, meadows, and or course mountains and trees.

When we finally made it to Champex du Lac, it was time to celebrate with a glass of wine and a gorgeous view. We stayed at Hotel Splendide right on the lake! We went out to watch some football, had dinner reservations and got a great night’s rest for our final day of hiking.

Thanks so much for watching day two of the Tour du Mont Blanc! Make sure to check out my blog and video about day one if you missed it. I’ll see you on the next adventure!

 

A weekend in London

Welcome to my London travel experience! lt’s been 20 years since I’ve been to London and it happens to be an old home town of mine. Keep reading to find out what I did on my short weekend there.

A little about my journey in London

After graduating college from the University of Texas, I decided not to take the investment banking job on Wall Street I’d hoped to get… Instead, I packed up my bags, had $300 in my pocket, a one-way plane ticket and I moved to London! No, I didn’t have a job. No, I didn’t have a place to live. I ended up couch-surfing on a friend’s couch who I had met a year before and in about three days I found a job typing as a “Kelly girl” in the city of London.

I had planned to stay in London for 6 months but it turned out to be a year and a half! After that, I spent an additional three and a half years living in Europe. To say that this geographical move to London changed my life would be an understatement. This is where my love for travel really took off, and here I am 20 years later back in the city that I love with you.

Tips for where to Eat in London

One of the most fun things to do while you’re in London is to eat. There are so many restaurants and so many areas of London, it can be overwhelming! My suggestion is

  1. Pick a food genre
  2. Pick an area town
  3. Find out what you think is the best restaurant in the area with that particular food genre.

An example from this recent trip: I wanted something a little French and I wanted to be in Covent Garden. I wound up at a restaurant calle Le Beaujolais and I had some amazing French cheese and wine.

TIP: Make sure to try some of the amazing ethnic restaurants that are available. Some people say the Indian food in London is just as good, if not better, than the Indian food in India!

I hope you enjoyed this little blog about my short trip back in London. Tally ho!

What to know for your First Trip to London

What to know for your First Trip to London

This week I’m in an old hometown of mine, London England and I’m going to share with you some top tips for your first trip to London!

 

London is one of the easiest places for Americans to travel to; it is the mother country, after all!  This city feels like a more formal and ancient version of New York City and has everything you could want. London was my first taste of ex-pat life, where I worked as a temporary secretary in the city of London. I love the city and everything it has to offer. 

 

Flying into London

The first thing to pay attention to when you’re headed to London is which airport you are coming into. Did you know there are six airports in London? You want to make a note which one you are flying in and out of.

 

Where to stay in London

London is EXPENSIVE; there’s no doubt about that!  It’s easy to be overwhelmed and a little shocked when looking for accommodations in the city. Some of the most common questions I get are, “Where should I stay?”, “Is there anywhere affordable in London?”, “What about cheap Airbnbs?”  Honestly, cheap doesn’t exist, and if you think it’s cheap, it’s probably scary or so far out that you wouldn’t want to stay there. Not only is accommodation expensive, transportation is also expensive. So what to do? I suggest staying in a hotel inside The Circle Line (one of the Tube lines) for a couple reasons.  1. Time if of the essence, and you don’t want to waste precious hours riding the tube into the city. (TIP: Make sure your hotel is within 3-4 blocks of a tube station) 2. Transportation is also expensive and the further out you stay, the more expensive it will be to get into the city. If you’re visiting London for the first time, you will want to cough up the dough and stay as central as possible. 

 

Here are a couple great Hotel options when booking your trip to London: 

 

 

Money, Money, Money

A lot of people who are traveling to the UK are also traveling to the continental Europe, but it’s important to note: In the UK, they use a different currency! In the UK they use the British Pound. It is different than the euro that you’re going to using in France, Italy, Spain etc.  A great tip: Don’t bother exchanging money from your home currency into the British Pound while you’re at home. Just wait till you get to the UK and withdraw at any of the ATMs. The exchange rate is typically better. Make sure to notify your bank that you will be traveling so you can take money out.

 

How to get Around

The best way to get around is by the subway or the tube – it is the most efficient and least expensive way to get around the entire city. The tubes were used as bomb shelters during WWII! The subway system is easy to use and efficient, but there are some down sides. There are constant delays and certain lines not working due to maintenance issues.  On my last trip to London, I found this great Tube App that not only shows me the best route and travel time, it shows me which lines have delays. This app was invaluable on my trip, as it saved me time as well as stress when finding my way around the city.  Tip: I suggest getting the Oyster Card. It’s a $5 deposit and then it’s only seven British pounds a day for as many rides as you want to take. When you’re done, you turn in your Oyster Card, get your five pounds back for the card and any money left on your card. 

 

What should you wear in London?

It is 10 latitude degrees further north than New York City and it has 106 days a year average rainfall. That means bring warm clothes no matter what time of the year you’re here. Currently, it’s mid-May and packed with me a lightweight jacket, scarves, long pants and close toed shoes. The best shoes to wear in London are walking shoes. Whether you’re taking the tube, a taxi or just wandering around, you’re going to want to be in easygoing, comfortable shoes. As far as style, London is a lot like New York City, so anything goes! If you want to dress up and go to the Savoy for high tea, go for it! OR if you want to be low-key casual in your yoga pants, that works as well.

 

British English vs American English

I wanted to give you a few tips about the language differences between British English and American English. First of all, when you’re in a restaurant and you need a napkin, in London you need to ask for a serviette. (I tend to make a mess when I’m eating so I need lots and lots of serviettes!) Secondly, the boot is actually the trunk of the car. Additionally, when you are asking for the restroom or the ladies room you can actually ask for the loo. When you’re staying at your hotel and they tell you you’re staying on the first floor, that does not mean you are on the ground level. It actually means that you are one level up. In England G is the ground floor, then the first floor then the second floor. Finally, the difference between chips and crisps. Here in the UK chips are french fries and crisps are potato chips. 

 

Food to Try

Great Britain is not historically known for its food, but I do suggest that you give all the traditional British fare a try. Things to try:

  • Shepherd’s pie 
  • Bangers and mash 
  • Proper English Breakfast
  • Fish and chips 

 

 

Other things to Note

Remember that they drive on the other side of the road! If you’re renting a car, you’re going to be sitting on the right-hand side and if you rent a stick shift you’re gonna be shifting with your left hand. When you’re on the road about to turn, you have to look right, left, right! And lastly, note that the adapters for the UK are different than European adapters. 

 

If you enjoyed these tips and you’re headed to Spain, make sure to check out my video: Everything that you need to know before you travel to Spain. See you on the next adventure!

Top 10 Portland, Maine Things To Do & See!

Top 10 Portland, Maine Things To Do & See!

If you’re headed to Portland in the next few months, I have put together a best of Portland, Maine list based on my experience there recently.

 

#1 The Best City Tour in Portland, Maine

The Real Portland Tour is the only sightseeing tour in Portland, Maine that includes a full city tour and a trip to three of the lighthouses. We got to see the full city tour of Portland, from the bustling downtown area and eclectic shops to the art district and the world-class restaurants and bars. We headed out to Casco Bay to see its islands and forts on the way to the Portland Headlight.

Our tour guide, Derrick, was amazing! He knows so much about the city for two reasons:

  1. He’s a local, born and raised
  2. He’s a librarian! He was so knowledgeable and interesting and had the greatest stories about the town where he grew up.

Definitely put the Real Portland Tour on your list!

 

#2 The Best Lighthouses in Portland, Maine

Also while you’re visiting Portland, you have to check out the beautiful lighthouses along Casco Bay. You can take a tour like I did, you can drive yourself, and sometimes, in the summer, you can even bike! The rugged Maine coastline is known for its beautiful lighthouses and just outside of the city of Portland along Casco Bay is the infamous Portland Head Light. Did you know it’s the most photographed lighthouse in the entire US?

Another great lighthouse to visit is the Spring Point Ledge. On the weekends, you can actually walk out there you have to jump on the different rocks to make it all the way out. It’s very picturesque and definitely worth checking them all out.

#3 The Best Restaurants in Portland, Maine

Portland is a foodie town for foodies! Did you know that in 2018, Bon Appetit listed it as the restaurant city of the year? Some of the most well-known restaurants include

There was so much delicious seafood, lobster, oysters, and fresh fish while I was there that I actually had two lunches and two dinners on two different days!

#4 Best View in Portland, Maine

Fourth on my list is a little well kept secret: Come to the top of the parking lot at the Customs House for the best view of downtown! The parking garage is just across the street from the beautiful Customs House. If you go to the top level it’s open air and you can see the spectacular views of all the city routes throughout downtown Portland.

#5 Best Food Tour in Portland, Maine

5th on the list is to go on a food tour! I went with Maine Foodie Tours on the Bon Appetit. Most of the food in

Portland is all about the seafood but this is a very unique tour that gives you croissants clams a little bit of Tex-Mex and some other exciting things. You even get to go to a kombucharia.

 

 

#6 Best Oysters in Portland, Maine

Next on our list are the infamous East Coast oysters. I recommend two different places to get these incredible little morsels.

  1. The Shop which is about a 10 minute Uber ride from downtown Portland and all of their oysters are $1.50, all day long.
  2. The other place to try the oysters is at Scales which is right there on the harbor. While in town, I heard that they had the best oysters in the whole city. My opinion? They may be the best oysters I’ve ever had in my entire life! The oysters are only $1 during happy hour.

#7 Best Boat Tour in Portland, Maine

The next thing that you have to do when you’re in Portland is to go on the Lucky Catch Cruises. It’s so fun to goout in Casco Bay and learn how the lobster man catches your dinner. The Lucky Catch Cruise has been around for more than a decade and honestly, it’s one of the best things that I did during my visit to Portland. It’s also a great value! If you’d like to know more about Lucky Catch Cruises, check out last week’s video and blog here.

#8 Best Dessert in Portland, Maine

Then there’s more food! If you’re in the mood for something sweet, head over to the Holy Donut. They are famous for putting shredded potatoes into their Donuts. If you’re gluten-free like me, they have several options for us, too!

 

#9 Best Bar in Portland, Maine

Now let’s talk bars in Portland. Actually, let’s talk about speakeasies! Portland, Maine was one of the first cities in the entire country to have prohibition so they are known even to this day for the speakeasies. My top choice is Lincoln’s.

#10 Best Taco in Portland, Maine

Our last thing to do is another food item, but this time it has a Texas twist. Head over to the High Roller Lobster Company which started as a food trailer. Now it is it’s brick-and-mortar and I was told they serve the most delicious lobster taco. Instead of a taco shell, they use grilled cheese to hold the lobster meat and toppings. And if you love tacos like I do, check out my video and blog on the Top 5 Tacos in my hometown of Austin, Texas.

I hope you enjoyed my list of the best things to do, see, and of course TASTE in Portland. Share in the comments if you’ve been to any of these places!

WOMEN IN TRAVEL SUMMIT 2019

WOMEN IN TRAVEL SUMMIT 2019

✈ Learn How to Become a Digital Nomad in 2019!  | So I just got back from the Women in Travel Summit, a travel conference put on by Wanderful. If you want to be inspired and connect with other women travel influencers – keep watching!

 

I just returned from WITS 2019 in Portland, Maine and I’m so excited to share about my experience and the amazing women I met. The Women in Travel Summit is the premiere blogging conference for women travel creators and women travel writers. I interviewed 15 women from the conference about what they love about WITS! Some I had met at WITS 2018 in Quebec, and some are new friends, all coming together for the love of travel. If you want to learn how you can work online and travel the world or see other female travel vlogs and vloggers, keep watching! Sign up for WITS 2020 here!

Check out the amazing women and their blogs/businesses below!

Jazmin – Travel to Blank

Paige – Unquote Travel

Cat – For Two Please

Richa –  My Tickle Feet

Fadra – All Things Fadra

Melissa – Roux Roamer

Jenn-  Wanderful team

Richa –  Enricha’s Journey

Summer – Nat Park Stories

Caitlin –  Waypoint Goods

Wendy – Empty Nesters Hit the Road

Marie – Nomad Tours Quebec

Glory Ali –  Muslim Travel Rocks

Bisa –  Myles to Travel

Stacey –  Visit Beloit

 

VISITING MAGNOLIA SILOS IN WACO, TEXAS

VISITING MAGNOLIA SILOS IN WACO, TEXAS

 

Today we are going on a Magnolia Silos tour to see what all the hype is about with Chip and Joanna Gaines’s shops and restaurants in Waco, Texas!

My friend Georgeanne and I decided to take a road-trip from downtown Austin to Waco to check out some Magnolia housewares just in time for the holiday season. Getting from Austin to Waco takes about 1.5 hours, but once you get there, there is so much to do! We visited the cupcake airstream, the Magnolia Bakery, the Magnolia Market and much more. If you’ve ever been curious about the discounted Magnolia products at Magnolia Warehouse or what it’s like to have Lunch at Magnolia Table, keep watching! I hope you enjoy this vlog about the Magnolia Market at the Silos.

If you enjoyed this video about Magnolia Silos, be sure to subscribe to the channel for more travel videos like this video and visit my website below. If you’d like to share your own travel experiences or have a question, leave them down in the comments section, and I will do my best to answer you. Thanks for watching today’s video!

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