7 days, 11 States: Intro

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With a week off and nothing to do, what better than a quick road trip? My friend Sasha and I each had one week of free time before our lives began this summer and we wanted to travel, but on a strict budget (we’re students, okay). So we thought we’d head south of the border with little to no plan. I mean, we had an idea of the destinations we wanted to hit but nothing booked, no hotels, Air-BnB’s or any other accommodation what so ever. So we thought it would be a good idea to bring a tent along (just incase)… also we put a mattress in the car (cause who knows where we might wind up).

Through this road trip (as noted in the title) we see 11 States, although we may not have stayed in all of these states we did at least drive through them at one point or another. The 11 States we see are as follows:

  • Michigan
  • Ohio
  • Kentucky
  • Tennessee
  • Georgia
  • South Carolina
  • North Carolina
  • Virginia
  • Maryland
  • Pennsylvania
  • New York

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WanderlustWednesdays: Athens, Greece

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DO: Explore the streets of Plaka. It’s the oldest streets of Athens, vibrant at night and it’s labyrinth like streets are fun to explore.

SEE: You can’t leave Athens without venturing up to the Acropolis! Bring lots of water and get ready for a beautiful view point of the city. Expect steep hills and lots of tourists, but the view and architecture is amazing.

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DRINK: At Brettos for cool cocktails, and a great atmosphere. Look for the colorful bottles!

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EAT: Stamatolpolus Old Tavern – in the touristy neighborhood but a not so touristy restaurant with a cute garden, amazing Greek food, and live music.

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PLAY: Go to the beach for the day and explore! We got great fresh seafood and was a nice break from of the city.

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TRY: Feta wrapped in filo pastry and drizzled with honey and seasame seeds

STAY: Again, my friends and I were princesses and stayed at the Intercontinetal Hotel. Was a great base point though and in a safe area!

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WanderlustWednesdays: Vancouver, British Colombia

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DO: If you are a runner (like me) or even want a long walk, take on the Seawall around Stanley Park. I woke up early one morning and run over 10km. The hardest part was having to stop so front to take in the scenery and take pictures!

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SEE: Although there is so much to do in and around Vancouver like exploring Stanley Park or exploring the Capilano Suspension Bridge, my favorite part was taking the Sea to Sky gondala. Amazing views of Howe Sound, Sky Pilot and the surrounding peaks.

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DRINK: Sit at the bar at Rodney’s Oyster House, order two dozen oysters and a bottle of white wine with a friend, and hangout talking to the bartenders and watch them shuck oysters all night.

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EAT: Although pricer, we splurged our last night and at Chambar, which was my favourite restaurant in the city. So worth the money. Service was best we had in the city and moules frites were unreal.

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TRY: Anything from Purebread. So I have a HUGE sweet tooth – like I mean I go to a restaurant and would order a shitty salad just to splurge on desert. So obviously I went to Pure bread three times during my week visit. Needless today I was in heaven – I suggest the chocolate chip cookie bar, nutella chocolate chip cookie, and their blueberry loaf was amazing too. TBH everything was good. Also suggest trying the many food trucks – I had a amazing smoothie from The Juice Truck.

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PLAY: Rent a car and take the road! We drove along the sea-to-sky highway to go to the Sea to Sky gondala, but also just took in the amazing views and stopped for pictures…and Dairy Queen of course (snacks).

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STAY: In the heart of Downtown Vancouver so you’re close to everything. We walked everywhere, and stayed in an Airbnb in the heart of downtown Vancouver (corner of Hornby and Smithe Street).

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7 Days, 11 States: Day Seven

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Washington – Home

No parking ticket! Praise Jesus. We take the car and drive it to downtown Washington, the only spot we could find had a two hour limit, so the only logical thing to do was see all of Washington in two hours.

We started at the White House, allowed some creepy old man to hit on us so he would take a picture of us together in front of Barack’s place. We then proceeded to take way too many selfies and headed south to the Washington Monument (which we called ‘that stick thing’ all day), took some absurd hand stand pictures in front of it and ran into our friend from The White House again, thankfully he just said hello and kept walking. Next was the Jefferson memorial, nothing too exciting tbh. Next we see the World War II memorial the reflecting pool and the Lincoln Memorial. Of course we took some selfies with Abe, Sasha even attempted to and succeeded at a face swap with the statue.

We did it! Saw all the important sites (that we knew of) in Washington and made it back to the car in pretty much exactly 2 hours. We added another couple cents to the meter so we could grab Which Wich sandwiches for the ride home. The one I got was pretty much the length of my arm, but it was amazing so the more sandwich the better.

We left Washington around 12:30pm; we were planning on making it home for our hockey game that night at 10:15. The drive (according to Google maps) should be approximately 8 hours, so we couldn’t afford much delay. We made our way through Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York then Crossed the border in Niagara Falls. Thankfully we had no border delays this time around. With a couple stops along the way we made it home by 9:30, grabbed our hockey bags and headed over to the rink.

In case you were wondering, yes, we won our game!

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WanderlustWednesdays: Amsterdam, The Netherlands

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DO: Heineken experience – I’m not a beer drinker and I had so much fun. It’s very interactive and you definitely get your money’s worth with the beer tastings. Recommend going up top at the end to get a beautiful view of Amsterdam! Make sure you pre-purchase tickets (we bought ours from the reception at our hostel).

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SEE: Red Light District at night – safer and cleaner then you would think…and you won’t find anything like it anywhere else!

DRINK: We had the best time drinking in our hostel, St Christopher’s Hostel. Met so many great people and they had pub crawls that we didn’t do but sounded fun!

EAT: Doner Kebabas and Vlaamse Fries from anywhere in Amsterdam is a must try.

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PLAY: Rent bikes, pack a picnic and go around Vondel park! Also space cakes from the coffeeshops and the Rijksmuseum was a super fun idea…because ‘when in Rome do as the Romans do’ 😉

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TRY: Fresh stroopwaffles in Albert Market, and waffles with ice cream and Nutella from anywhere. And hanging out at any coffeeshops.

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STAY: St Christopher’s Hostel was awesome. Most comfiest bed I’ve ever slept in! Central location, free breakfast, and lots of fun events. Staff is all super helpful too.

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7 Days, 11 States: Day Six

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Myrtle Beach – Washington

IMG_1031Beach day. We got incredibly lucky with the weather, it was calling for cloudy skies and rain but all we got was blue skies and HEAT. So naturally we coated our selves in tanning lotion and laid out until we were a new race. Of course we swam in the ocean and threw around a rugby ball too, who can just lay in the sun for hours on end? Not us, that’s for sure, gotta toss some activity in there. We used this day as a relaxing day, really just hung out on the beach for hours, the carnival side of Myrtle Beach didn’t interest too much.

It was time to hit the road for one of our longer drives (6 hours) to Washington, but as usual it passed extremely fast. We made one pit stop for dinner at P.F. Changs (Sasha had never been) and it just so happened to be in a mall. After dinner we reorganized the car, changed out of our beach clothes and into warmer clothes (sweats, obvi). Then decided we should use the washroom (restroom to Americans) before hitting the road, the only washroom to use was the one in the mall. We then proceeded to confidently strut through the mall looking like absolute degenerates as we had just changed into all of our ugliest clothing, again didn’t phase us but we did get a few looks.

On the road again, we reached Washington in just a few hours. Parked our car on the street, prayed for no parking tickets and headed up into our AirBnB, no roommates this time.

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WanderlustWednesdays: Barcelona, Spain

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DO: Skip the touristy, over crowded and dirty Barceloneta beach and head out to Bogatell Beach. By far the superior beach, being less crowded and way cleaner. Bring a beach towel and spend the day tanning on the beach, strolling along the promenade, and stopping for a glass (or pitcher) of sangria and fresh seafood at one of the many seaside restaurant.

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SEE: Don’t leave Barcelona without getting tickets to see the Sagrada Familia. Although this large Roman Catholic church is incomplete and has been under construction for over 130 years, it is by far the most beautiful church I have ever seen and beyond impressive for both architecture lovers and us amateurs (like me). Make sure you book ticket’s ahead of time!

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DRINK: SANGRIA FROM EVERYWHERE AND ANYWHERE. ALL OF THE SANGRIA.

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EAT: Best paella and sangria of my life from the beachside restaurant, Xiringuito Escriba. Also go to Chok the Chocolate Kitchen for Instagram and drool worthy kronuts.

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PLAY: Explore La Boqueria Central Market just off Las Ramblas – foodie heaven.

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TRY: Barcelona was filled with too many good foods to try. To name a few: tomato bread (legit tomato speared on bread), bikinis (nope not what you think – they’re mini ham and cheese sandwiches AKA bits of heaven), iberian ham, and eggplant with honey.

STAY: If you want in on the fun, stay along Las Ramblas Street. It is the central boulevard that goes through the heart of the city centre and is vibrant and lively 24/7 (trust me – I walked the streets after the bar at 4:30am and people are up and about either getting up to start the work day or still drunk from the night before). We were princesses and stayed at the Meridien hotel just off Las Ramblas and it was the perfect, central location to explore Barcelona, and we were high enough up that it wasn’t noisy at all when we slept.

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7 Days, 11 States: Day Five

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Charleston – Myrtle Beach

Started our day with sub-par complimentary hotel breakfast that consisted of one waffle maker and soggy yogurt, but of course it didn’t even phase us. Post-breakfast we made our way down to Charleston to explore, parked the car and took the town by foot. We walked along the water, visited waterfront park (beautiful), grabbed iced coffees and went along as our white-girl selves. Had lunch at a cute little place that made the most absurd deep friend chicken sandwich on a bacon waffle (yes, that is literally a waffle bun with bacon cooked into it).

Onto Myrtle Beach, with a short driven (2 hours) up the coast we reach the beach town, it feels like you’re in Niagara Falls on steroids, carnival rides everywhere and so much colour. We decided that we were going to age about 30 years for this night, so we got Thai food and ate it in bed (we got a cheap hotel) while watching a movie just before passing out early.

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WanderlustWednesdays: Mykonos, Greece

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DO SEE DRINK EAT PLAY STAY – Mykonos, Greece

Mykonos definitely lived up to it’s reputation as a nonstop party. Although I was only there for three nights, it will always have a place in my heart (trust me, my liver probably could not handle anymore). Playing and partying on this island should definitely be on your bucket list.

 

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DO: Get lost in the windy streets of the Mykonos town – find amazing restaurants, shops, bars, late night drunk food, and more

SEE: The iconic Mykonos windmills

DRINK: Tropicana Beach Bar –rated the 2nd most popular hot beach bar in the world, a must do  from 4pm onwards – enjoy the sand side bar and great music…and if you get too excited and drink too much Grey Goose and OJ like my friends and I expect to be in bed passed out by 10pm. The party keeps going all night long though.

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EAT: Pepper Gyros – a little hard to find in the windy streets of the town (especially after a few drinks) but best gyros in Mykonos

PLAY: Party and day drink on Paradise Beach – beautiful beach during the day and it turns into a party late afternoon. Be prepared to either spend a lot on drinks or make friends. We made friends with these awesome Aussie guys who had bottles on bottles and were popping champagne like it was no tomorrow (hence the champagne covered go pro pictures).

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TRY: Swordfish Soulvaki from Captain’s in Mykonos town along the water, or Gelarte Gelato for Nutella crepes

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STAY: Anywhere near the Mykonos town – we rented an Airbnb just steps away from the Mykonos town which is great for food, shopping and nightlife. And for the day you can bus to the beaches easily.

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7 Days, 11 States: Day Four

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Great Smokey Mountains – Savannah Charleston

We woke up in a PACKED parking lot, thankfully we put sheets over the windows of our mobile home (car). We enjoyed some cereal out of plastic cups for breakfast then headed out on a hike. We did two different hikes: one that lead us to panoramic views and another that lead up to the highest point in the Great Smokey Mountains. Successful morning to say the least.

Off to Savannah we went, about half way through the drive we decided we’d rather go straight to Charleston instead. So, when we were about an hour out we decided it was time to figure out where we were staying that night. We chose a hotel in North Charleston (oops – we later learned that this is by far the sketchiest area in Charleston). We tossed back a few four locos (in the States they are 12% alcohol) then off to the bars. The first bar we went to had a massive line but we were determined to get in. We walk directly to the front of the line and asked the bouncer if there was any way around it, he told us definitely not. So naturally we start mentioning we were Canadians (they eat that shit up there) and the people in the front of the line liked that and invited us to join them into the bar.. Yea the people in the back weren’t too pleased about that but we’re Canadian, sorry.

Sasha manages to talk a guy at the bar into trying a long pour (he lays on the ground and she pours the drink carefully in his mouth, in theory), she proceeds to absolutely shower the guy in beer, not what he was expecting but made for an amazing snap chat story.

Post bar drunk munch: Street meat – these heavenly cone shaped pita meat things with lots of garlic sauce, still to this day to not know what it was but omg, yum.

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WanderlustWednesdays: Santorini, Greece

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DO SEE DRINK EAT TRY PLAY STAY – Santorini, Greece

Admit it – after watching the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Santorini, Greece has been on your bucket list. This magical island was my first stop last summer on my two month Europe trip (or rather Foodcation). It sure did not disappoint with the picture perfect sunset, sparkling blue water, and enough tzatziki and souvlaki to eat to your heart’s desire.

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DO: Rent ATV’s and explore the island! Everyone does it and it’s the easiest way to get around and see the whole island.

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SEE: Don’t leave Santorini without seeing Amoudi Bay! Spend the afternoon having lunch at Amoudi Fish Tavern, and then follow the corner around and find the perfect spot to relax, swim, and tan.

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DRINK: At Two Brothers Bar in the village of Fira. Came back here twice, once for Happy Hour, with great selection of drinks and cocktails at amazing prices (two for one), and another time after dinner around 10pm; was such a blast, great music and lively atmosphere. They have a funny tradition where you wear a helmet and get hit in the head with a stick while doing a free shot.

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EAT: At Pitogyros – cheapest and best gyros stuffed with French fries on the island! So flavorful and cheap for the amazing quality ingredients and portion size you get. Also try Amoudi Fish Tavern – it’s in the picturesque Amoudi Bay and has everything from amazing sundried octopus, greek salads with massive portions of feta and tatziki.

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TRY: Mousaka – eggplant lasagna which is a surpriginly delicious typical greek dish

PLAY: Visit Amoudi Bay and jump off the cliff that the Sisterhood of the Traveling pants girls jumped off of in the second movie! Here is a link to a step by step guide on how to get there.

 

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STAY: Near Fira. There are tons of amazing restaurants, shops, and more near this part of the island. Oia is the picturesque place to stay but is way more expensive and all the way across the island; you can always go visit Oia by ATV like I did!

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Check back every Wednesday for more #WanderlustWednesdays! Click here for the the full series.