A Castle in the Heart of the City: Cardiff Castle

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I would guess that 90% of my time in Cardiff was spent at the Doctor Who museum and other Who-related sights. However, in an effort to diversify my Wales exploration, I visited the Cardiff Castle.

Cardiff is a bustling city. It is surprising to suddenly stumble upon a castle in the middle of the shops, traffic, and pubs. It could almost be a figment of your beer-filled imagination. But, alas! It is real.

A bit of history: The original (wooden) Cardiff Castle was built in the 11th century on top of a 3rd century Roman fort. The castle was rebuilt with stone in the 12th century. It was attacked repeatedly by the Anglo-Normans during its history. From the 1400s until 1947, when it was given to the City of Cardiff, the castle had many different noble owners.

I had a grand old time at Cardiff Castle. There was even a little fair / reenactment shenanigans happening. Alhtough, it was really more like a bunch of people in costumes leaning on their shields. Come on, guys! You have shields! And fake weapons! Let’s see some action.

Recent shows such as Doctor Who have been filmed at Cardiff Castle. Oops, I guess I can’t avoid the Who-verse after all!  So, among the several tours at the castle, there is one entirely dedicated to exploring film locations.

More info about the Cardiff Castle, including prices and tour times here.

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Stop and Smell the Roses: The Bronx Botanical Garden

Botanical Gardens Entrance
Last weekend, my best friend, Amanda, and her husband came to visit me in New York City. This meant that I couldn’t do what I normally do on the weekends: binge-watch TV shows on Netflix while eating ice cream and various other carb-based foods. I had to make my life seem exciting!

It was a challenge.

The last time Amanda and Max came to visit, I mostly let them call the shots. This led to me being dragged on a pizza tour of lower Manhattan. Ugh. So touristy.

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My First Liebster Award!

Liebster AwardThank you TravelingSaurus for nominating me for my very own Liebster award!

For those of you who don’t know, here are the Liebster Award Rules:

  1. Write a blog post thanking the blogger who nominated you for the Liebster Award, and link back to their blog.
  2. Answer the 11 questions that your nominator asks you.
  3. Nominate 10 bloggers of our own, with under 600 followers, who you think are awesome and deserving of this honor.
  4. Create 11 questions for your nominees.
  5. Display the Liebster Award logo on your page.
  6. List these rules in your post.

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“Don’t Let Anyone Stop You.”

My fabulous family. Full of love...and too many opinions.

My fabulous family. Full of love…and too many opinions.

“You need to start your real life,” my aunt said.

“I have started my real life,” I replied indignantly from the passenger’s seat. “I’m living it.”

She gave a deep sigh and clutched the steering wheel.

This was not the reaction I’d expected from her when I announced that I was going to travel the world for a year. I had expected a reaction like this from my mother or from many of my eight uncles, but not from my mother’s only sister.

For most of my life, her and I had common ground. We were both teased mercilessly in elementary and middle school. We both struggled with our weight and our self-image. She had advised me through much of my youth and could relate to me even more than my mother could.  But this is where the line was drawn.

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Pearls, Gin, and Dancing Shoes: The Jazz Age Lawn Party

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This year marked my second time attending the Jazz Age Lawn Party–a 1920s-themed party on Governors Island in the middle of New York Harbor.

Since moving to New York, I have become a sucker for theme parties. This lawn party is the ultimate themed event for me because I get to dress up, picnic in the park, dance the Charleston (poorly), and drink gin. These are some of my favorite things.

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I have FOMO. Do you?

Central Park, NYC - How can you not have FOMO in a city like this?

Central Park, NYC – How can you not have FOMO in a city like this?

I have FOMO–or Fear of Missing Out–and I have it bad. Even as a kid, I would wake up before anyone else in my house because I was afraid I would miss something interesting or fun if I slept in.

Throughout my whole life I’ve pushed myself to go to parties I didn’t want to go to, or join clubs I didn’t want to be a part of, or agree to trips I wasn’t really interested in. I was afraid that if I didn’t participate in everything I would miss out on something life changing.

Of course, no one can do everything. When I try too hard to say yes to everything, there is only a certain amount of time before I’m in for an emotional, mental, and physical collapse. Growing up in the suburbs, it wasn’t so hard to go to every event/class/party I wanted to go to. But in New York, seeing and doing everything I want to is impossible. It is impossible for me to be in 100 places at once. Although, for the first two years I really did try.

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Escaping the City: Fire Island

Fire Island BoardwalkI have been fortunate enough to visit Fire Island, New York many times since I was a kid.

Fire Island is a narrow island (approximately 32 miles long and an average of one mile wide) that runs parallel to the southern fork of Long Island. There are only two bridges to the island, but in most of the towns, cars are not allowed. Most of the beaches are easy to get to via public ferry, but some of the smaller beaches are only reachable by private boat. This means that many of the beaches are miraculously empty, making you feel like you have the whole island to yourself.

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The Grouse Whisky Tour in Crieff, Scotland

Glenturret DistilleryWhile I was on spring break from my semester abroad in Swansea, Wales, I spent a week with my friend, Laura, in her home country of Scotland.

My friend and college roommate, Brett (of The Sunshine Traveller), and I had taken a trip to Edinburgh, Scotland the year before. Brett introduced me to Laura, who turned out to be a fabulous host and tour guide.

When I visited Laura the second time around, on my own this time, she was equally generous. I had one of the best times touring her neck of the woods, with her in the driver’s seat.

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Silent Discos–For Those Who Hate Clubbing

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I have to admit, when it comes to clubbing, I’m a bit of a party pooper. I’m always up for a night out at the pub or a sensible bottle of wine at the neighborhood wine bar. But when it comes to a loud music and a bunch of sweaty people dancing all up against each other…I’m not so into it.

But when I found out that one of my favorite places in Astoria, the Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden, was hosting a silent disco, I was all in.

For party poopers like me, a silent disco is perfect. At a silent disco, each person is given a set of wireless headphones with two or three channel options. Often, DJs compete for listeners. This silent disco had three different DJs broadcasting three different music genres: R&B, top 40 hits, and 80s/90s songs. While most clubbing isn’t conducive to socializing, if you wish to chat with your dance partner at a silent disco you can just remove your headphones. When you’re ready to head back to the dance floor, all you have to do is tune back into the channel of your choice.

This summer the Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden is hosting a silent disco every other Friday. The company that runs the silent disco, Quiet Events, is also hosting many other events around the city.

How Doctor Who Changed My Life

All the aliens a girl could ask for!

Cardiff, Wales

When I was a freshman in college, my mother noticed that I suddenly had one droopy eyelid. Sure enough, when I looked in the mirror I saw that one eyelid was hanging lower than the other. So, I went to the eye doctor to get it checked out and he gave me some drops, which didn’t help at all. My right eyelid continued to droop.

Then, over summer vacation, I became very weak. I began to sleep a lot. I had to leave my job at the card store because I could no longer lift my arms high enough to put picture frames on the shelves. I went to my pediatrician, who sent me to countless other doctors and specialists who searched my brain for tumors and tested me for everything from cancer to MS. My mother, because of her fear that I was dying, couldn’t bear to even look at me.

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