My Vancouver Trip (Summer Edition)

Hey guys! Sorry for being MIA last month. One of the reasons I didn’t post much was that I went back to Vancouver! One of my good friends moved out to Vancouver last year. I went in February to visit her and decided to go back in the summer to see her again. If you haven’t, I highly recommend checking out my first Vancouver trip post because there were so many good food places we went to last time! My last post also includes more of the touristy spots whereas this trip was more relaxed. Let’s get into it!

Day One

The first day was my travel day. Like last time, I did a half day of work and flew out in the early evening. I know that things have been hectic at Pearson and Air Canada lately but I didn’t have too many issues. My flight out was delayed an hour but otherwise, I didn’t have any major issues. I didn’t check a bag so I can’t attest to any baggage issues. I will say they were very strict with the number of liquids I could fly with so I did have to throw out a few things.

My first evening was pretty chill. I just caught up with my friends!

Day Two

If you read any travel blog for Vancouver, you’ll see everywhere all the beautiful hikes you can do in Vancouver. But if you know me personally you’ll know I’m not the biggest hiker. I love being in nature but I had a few bad falls while hiking so I tend to stick to easier trails. My friend said I had to do at least one hike so we did Bowen Lookout at Cypress Mountain.

If you’re a hiker novice like me this one wasn’t too bad. Because it’s located at Cypress Mountain, which is a ski hill, you get to drive up a decent amount. The trail is around 4km and took us about an hour and a half. It’s pretty flat for the majority of the hike. To get to the lookout there is a series of steeper switchbacks. The path is gravel, so while the elevation is steeper at least the trail is not bumpy. Normally at the top, there is a breathtaking view. Unfortunately, it was raining the way we went so all we saw were clouds. But the rainy day gave the whole hike a sort of PNW-Twilight vibe to it.

After the hike my friend and I were hungry so we went to ZUBU Ramen. They had a deal going on where you could get a four-course meal for $30! The food was delicious! The last time I went to Vancouver I went to Jinya Ramen Bar. I would say that the Ramen was better at Jinya, but the whole menu is great at ZUBU Ramen. Either way, we enjoyed our meal at ZUBU.

We finished our Saturday night at The Cider House. I’m so sad this place is in Vancouver because I absolutely loved it. As a big cider drinker, I was in heaven. This place combines the vibe and style of a brewery with a bunch of delicious, local ciders. I got a flight and there wasn’t one bad drink. There are also a bunch of other bars nearby, so this place would be a great way to start the night. This place is right at the top of places I recommend going to in Vancouver.

Day Three

After having quite a few ciders the night before, my friend and I decided to take our Sunday a little slower. It was also a cloudy day with a few showers. We decided to walk from her place in Kitsilano to Jericho Beach Park and Spanish Banks Beach. It’s a nice way, where you can go along the shore or walk along the rich houses of Vancouver. Another fun aspect of this walk is that Jericho Beach has a bunny problem, so there are hundreds of wild bunny rabbits in the park. They are very used to people so you can almost walk right up to them and they won’t run away. Just don’t feed or touch the bunnies because they can carry diseases such as Lyme disease. But it was very cute to see.

For dinner, we decided to try out the infamous Tacofino. Having started as a food truck in Tofino, the brand has expanded and now has restaurants across Victoria and Vancouver. I love a good taco so I was excited to try the place out. It’s a fast-casual restaurant so we got the tacos pretty quick. I was a little disappointed, I won’t lie! Having seen the brand be featured on a bunch of cooking shows, I had high expectations. While the tacos were good, they weren’t as out of this world as I had expected. I think if you went to Tofino it would be cool to go to the original food truck, but I would pass on going to any of the Vancouver Tacofino locations.

We finished off the night by seeing The Lumineers! This was actually the whole reason behind my trip. My friend and I had seen them twice before and knew we wanted to see them again. It wouldn’t out better with our schedules to see them in Vancouver than in Toronto. And I have to say this was probably the best concert I’ve seen by them. It makes sense because the band said during their set that Vancouver has a special place in their heart, having been the first city they ever sold out a concert. If you ever have the chance to see The Lumineers I highly recommend it because they are amazing live.

Day Four

While my friend worked during the day, I did a little shopping around Kitsilano. One of my favourite stores is The Nooks. I mentioned the store in my last post because I bought a necklace there. I decided to continue the tradition and purchase another necklace. For my Ontario gals – they have locations here too! I would recommend checking them out. They are a physical storefront for small, local, Canadian brands!

After my friend was done work we decided to have a bit of a bougie night. We started with some happy hour oysters at Chewies. We decided to try all the oysters they had and we both preferred the east coast oysters. 😅 Then we decided to head over to The Keg. I don’t often go to The Keg, mainly because my parents prefer buying steak and cooking it themselves. But I had a gift card and thought going on vacation was the perfect time to use it!

Day Five

Tuesday was my final full day and the nicest weather wise so I was going to use it to my advantage! I spent the majority of the day at Kitsilano Beach since it’s right down the street from my friend’s place. It was so nice to just relax by the beach and read my book. I’m a big beach girl. Just give me a body of water and a book and I’ll be good all day.

We cooked our dinner that night but decided to finish off the day with ice cream. We went to Rain or Shine Ice Cream. The prices are a little bit on the higher end but the flavours are unique and worth the price. I had the Strawberry Earl Grey and it was sooo good. After we grabbed our ice cream we walked down to the beach and were able to watch the end of the sunset.

Day Six

The only bad thing about travelling to Vancouver is that you waste almost a full day travelling back. This time around I booked my flight at 1 PM so I was able to grab some breakfast before heading out. We went to Body Energy Club. They’re a vitamin and supplement store that was a great smoothie bar. We both got a smoothie bowl and it was delicious. It did a good job of keeping me full through all the hassle of going through security and getting on my flight. And just like that my trip was done and over!

If you have any questions about my trip, let me know in the comments! I have the travel bug and now want to go to so many different places! I’m already planning where I want to go next!

xoxo

Lea

My Vancouver & Whistler Trip Itinerary! (10 Days)

Hey guys! I know it’s taken me a while (aka over a month) but I’m here to share with you my Vancouver and Whistler trip details! I’m going to break down all the places I stayed, visited and ate and let you know if it was worth it or not. If you’re more of a visual learner, check out my Vancouver & Whistler vlog! Now let’s get into it.

Day 1

On the first day of my trip, I flew in. I didn’t want to take a full day off work, so instead, I took a 7 PM flight. I just left work a few hours early and then flew from Toronto to Vancouver. I think this is also a great option because I arrived at 9 PM Vancouver time. If you’re a night owl this means you can still go out. If you’re like me and struggle with time zone changes, this is perfect because I got in at a great time to just have a quiet night in but be ready for the next day.

Just wanted to note here that I stayed with my friend so I don’t have any Vancouver accommodation recommendations.

Day 2

I got very lucky weather-wise while I was in Vancouver and only had two days of rain. Unfortunately one of those two days was the first one. Since I was struggling with the time change and it was the beginning of my trip, my friend and I decided to have a lazy morning.

Our first stop idea was to go to Science World. Learn from my mistake and book in advance. We arrived thinking we could get tickets the day of to find out they were sold out.

Since we were downtown, I suggested we checked out the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Gardens since it wasn’t far from Science World. I had read decent reviews online, with everyone saying just go to the free section. Well, we show up and turns out the free section was closed due to COVID-19. We decided to pay the $16 admission and were disappointed. The gardens aren’t very large and the information given during the tour wasn’t very accurate. If the free section opens up again I recommend checking that out, but otherwise, I would skip the Chinese Gardens.

For dinner, we went to Phnom Penh and it was fantastic. They serve Cambodian and Vietnamese food, and everything looked so delicious. Just a tip: we went at 4:00 PM on a Saturday and had to wait over half an hour for a table. So be mindful that the restaurant is busy and I can only assume during peak time there would be a long wait. But it’s worth it!

After dinner, we did a little window shopping and stopped by this store called The Nooks. It’s a space for small businesses to sell their goods. They have a bunch of locations in Ontario and BC, we stopped by the Gastown location. I got an Aries zodiac necklace from the brand Sol & Luna and I’m in love with it. I think it’s great to shop and support small businesses when travelling!

Day 3

On Sunday, we decided to take a stroll over to Granville Island Public Market. We first stopped at A La Mode to get some lunch. I had a croissant sandwich and my friend had one of their pies. We spent some time walking around all the cute little shops. It was a beautiful day so there were some buskers out as well. Before we left we grabbed some coffee at Blue Parrot and some fresh pain au chocolate at A Bread Affair.

We then took a False Creek Ferry across to Aquatic Centre Dock. We were then able to walk over to Sunset Beach, English Bay and then Stanely Park. At the time that I went parts of the Seawall were closed, but we were able to cut through the middle of the park. If you want an easy stroll I would recommend sticking to the Seawall, as the middle of the park does get a little hillier. I also recommend going up to Prospect Point and going under the Lions Gate Bridge. Both offer beautiful views.

Day 4

I was there on Family Day, which meant that my friend had the Monday off! To start the day we went to Capilano Suspension Bridge Park. This was easily one of my favourite things I did while I was there. The main attraction is the suspension bridge but they have all these walking paths along with treehouses that you can walk around. If you don’t like heights you might not enjoy the park, but I loved it! During big holidays (such as Christmas and Valentine’s Day) they will have light installations you can visit at night. I would recommend going during the day to see all the nature. Another tip is that there is a free shuttle that will take you from downtown to the park!

One of my favourite ways to spend an afternoon is to go to high tea so I knew I wanted to go to one in Vancouver. We went to Adonia Tea House and it was divine. We picked Adonia because it offered a mini afternoon tea, which allowed us to sample the quality of the place. But the food was so good that I would recommend getting the full afternoon tea. Their tea selection was amazing. It happened to be sunny when we went, but this would be a great way to spend a rainy afternoon since we were there for around two hours.

We finished off the day by walking down to Kitsilano Beach at sunset, which was gorgeous. The views of the ocean and city at sunset are breathtaking.

Day 5

On Tuesday my friend worked so I had a lazy day. After she was done, we headed over to the Vancouver Art Gallery. On Tuesdays admission is by donation, so we didn’t have to pay full price! I’m glad we didn’t pay full price because one of the floors was closed and the other had a huge line, so we only saw two out of the four installations. If you’re looking for a rainy day activity I would recommend stopping by.

For dinner, we were joined by my friend’s housemates at Trattoria Kitsilano. On Tuesdays, they do $16 plates of pasta and omg their pasta was amazing. We all sampled everyone’s food and there wasn’t one bad dish. If you’re looking for good Italian food in Vancouver I would recommend it.

Day 6

My friend was working again so I had another lazy morning. I did stop by a little coffee shop called Their There. I had their chai tea latte and it was delicious. The coffee shop has a gift shop section and just has some great vibes – a very Instagrammable place (if that’s important to you).

In the evening we took a bus up to Whistler. We used two different bus companies because we couldn’t get the times we wanted at one company. We used Epic Rides and Skylynx and I would say that both bus companies were comparable.

We had decided to book an Airbnb for our stay. We were silly and didn’t realize we had booked a studio but it served the purpose for us as a place to sleep. It was on the more affordable side, especially considering it had a hot tub and pool. But it was located in Creekside, so we had to get a taxi (no Uber in Whistler) every time we wanted to go to the Whistler Village.

Honestly, I would consider getting a hotel next time I go to Whistler. It would be easier to just get an included breakfast instead of trying to cook our own. Plus we had to pay for locker storage which usually comes free with hotels. And I think we probably would have paid the same amount for a hotel compared to our Airbnb, so just something to consider if you’re looking to stay in Whistler.

For dinner that night we went to Beacon Pub & Eatery in Whistler. We had issues getting seated at a few places so we settled for Beacon and it was alright. They have a great patio so it would be great for apres ski but not the best dinner menu.

Day 7

Thursday was our full day at Whistler. I had decided to rent my skis instead of flying with them. There are a ton of different options to rent skis but I went with Whistler Blackcomb’s ski rentals. They have many locations and I was able to pick mine up right at the Creekside location. The customer service was great as well. My boots were too small on the first day so I went back and I was to exchange them for a new pair with no problem. They might not be the cheapest but the convenience and customer service are worth the higher price tag.

On the first day, we skied Blackcomb which I preferred over Whistler. Just based on my skiing ability and the conditions at the time, I found Blackcomb to be better. But if you’re going for more than one day I recommend skiing on both hills.

In the evening we went to Mongolie Grill. This place was delicious. It’s a build-your-own stirfry restaurant where you select your proteins, vegetables and sauce and they cook it in front of you. Pro-tip: rice comes for free, so skip the noodles since they weigh more and will increase your bill. We did have to wait a while for a table but it was worth it!

Day 8

Friday was our second day of skiing. We did Whistler, which I mentioned above I didn’t like as much. We checked out of our Airbnb and took the bus back.

For dinner, we got takeout sushi from Sushi Flamingo. It’s in a weird location but the sushi is incredible. It’s some of the freshest sushi I’ve ever had. It’s also super affordable. I’m unsure if sushi is just more expensive in Ontario or this place is cheap but either way, I was very impressed. A great casual sushi place.

Day 9

For my final full day, my friend and I decided to get our second ear lobe piercings! I won’t be tagging the place because I felt it was very overpriced and therefore wouldn’t recommend the studio. But it was something I had been wanting to get for a while so I’m glad I got it done. Side note, I’m planning on doing a piercing and tattoo Q+A soon since I also got a new tattoo recently, so stay tuned for that.

Since it was raining we decided to do an early dinner and went to Jinya Ramen Bar. Man, it was some of the best ramen I’ve ever had. We went there at 4 PM and the place was packed. My friend had the Tonkotsu Black Ramen. There was a special when I was there so I was able to get a Chicken Karaage Ramen. My friend had been to quite a few ramen places in Vancouver and she said this was her favourite.

Day 10

I spent my final day travelling. My flight was at noon so I had some time in the morning to finish packing and get breakfast before heading to the airport. I landed around 7 PM in Toronto. I probably could have gotten a later flight but I wanted some time to decompress and see my family before having to go back to work the next week. Honestly, I kind of wish I had taken one more day off or at least a half-day because the jet lag was awful the next day. Something I will consider next time I travel.

And that was my trip to Vancouver and Whistler! If you have any questions about my trip please let me know in the comments. I’m planning to go back in the summer, so if you have more recommendations let me know in the comments!

xoxo

Lea

What I Packed In My Travel Makeup Bag!

Hey guys! Today I wanted to share what I packed in my travel makeup bag when I went to Vancouver. I thought this would be great to share because it’s not trip-specific. This is what I would pack makeup-wise if I were going anywhere for more than a weekend. I tried to really restrain myself since I was flying so I was limited in space. I also put my makeup in my checked bag so I didn’t have to worry about liquids. Let’s get into it!

Before we get into the makeup I wanted to link my makeup case. I got this makeup case for when I went to Europe since I wanted something sturdy enough to fly and lug around for two weeks. There are some pros and cons to this case. The pros are that it fits a lot of stuff and it does a really good job of keeping everything safe. I was able to fit my makeup and skincare in this case when I went to Vancouver. I even put a glass bottle in the case and I didn’t break. The con is that all the extra protection comes with extra weight. If you’re a heavy packer like me and worry about weight in your bag, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this one. But I own it so I use it. Now for the makeup.

My thought process, while I was selecting my makeup, is that I wanted a few options but the options had to be small and not fragile. I decided to bring two foundations. I wanted a lighter coverage foundation so I brought the Fenty Beauty Eaze Drop Blurring Skin Tint. Then for my fuller coverage foundation, I brought the Fenty Beauty Pro Filt’r Hydrating Longwear Foundation. Both of these foundations are longer-wearing and come in plastic packaging so I won’t have to worry about it breaking in my bag. For primer, I brought the Dr. Brant Pores No More Luminizer Primer. This primer works with both foundations and is so luminizing that on lighter makeup days I could skip highlight. I brought one concealer, my tried and true Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer. For powder, I brought the Maybelline Fit Me Matte and Poreless Powder. Not only is this powder great but the square packaging means it fits nicely in the case.

For the face, I wanted to bring both powders and creams to give myself the options but wanted to keep things as compact as possible. For powders, I brought the Cover FX Perfector Face Palette (which is discontinued). I like this palette because it has blush, bronzer and highlights all in one palette. The shades match my skin tone well. What I also like is that it’s a hard case so the powders are protected. It also has a huge mirror so I can use it to do my makeup. I decided to bring my ELF Putty Cream Blush and Putty Bronzer. The containers are small so they were easy to pack. Then for cream highlight, I brought the Grande Cosmetics GrandeGLOW Plumping Liquid Highlight. The main reason I brought this one is that it’s the only liquid highlight I have that isn’t in a glass bottle. Then for setting spray, I brought my favourite Benefit Cosmetics The POREfessional: Super Setter Pore-Minimizing Setting Spray – it’s also the only setting spray I have in a travel size.

For the eyes I brought my eyeshadow primer – the Smashbox 24 Hour Photo Finish Eyeshadow Primer. I kept my eyeshadow very minimal with just the Dose of Colours Baked Browns palette and a Colourpop Supershock Shadow. The nice thing about bringing a powder face palette is that I can use those powders on my eyes as well. For mascara, I brought my Maybelline Sky High Mascara. Call me extra but I did bring a pair of false lashes, the Colourpop Queenie Faux Lashes and my favourite Duo Lash Glue.

I kept my brow game very simple. I brought my ABH Brow Wiz since it’s my shortest pencil and therefore fits the best in the case. For brow gel, I brought the Glossier Boy Brow. It’s not my favourite but it is my smallest brow gel which is why I packed it.

For lips, I *tried* to keep it paired down. I ended up adding a few more things than pictured haha. But it to one of each category. So for lip liner, I brought the Steve Laurant Chic Lip Liner. For lipstick, I brought the MAC Matte Lipstick in Velvet Teddy. The lip gloss I picked is my Maybelline Lifter Gloss in Moon. Then for lip balm, I brought my mini Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment.

Finally, I brought all my brushes! It’s a little hard to tell, but on the top of the case is a flap that protects the brushes. And that’s what I packed in my makeup bag! Let me know if you guys have any questions about my travel bag and let me know what one product you always travel with no matter what. My next post should be my Vancouver trip recap so stay tuned for that!

xoxo

Lea

I Went on a Contiki Trip! ~ European Encounter 2019

Hey guys! So today I am talking about my trip to Europe. I have mentioned before that I went to Europe for two and a half weeks in May, but I don’t think that I explained that I actually did a Contiki trip! In my post I’m going to explain everything about Contiki and my trip. And the end I will also give some general tips about travelling in Europe.

What is Contiki?

Contiki is a travel tour group designed for 18-35 year olds. They first started in Europe but now run tours all around the world. The tours vary in length, from 10 days to a month or more. They have more that 140 trips in Europe, so you basically just pick where you want to go and they organize everything for you. You travel with around 30-40 other people on a coach bus. They organize all the hotels and around half of the meals for you. On top of that, there are some included activities along with a bunch of add-on activities that you can do (which I will break down below).

Contiki, along with other travel groups for young people, have a reputation as being a party-bus. They are known as just being 18-22 year-old, mainly Australians, just getting drunk the whole time. Contiki is also known for being high-pace, with barely any time in the locations you are going to. Also some of the accommodations are not the greatest. I learned all of this through reading reviews on the website and also reading other blog posts.

So why did I choose Contiki? I was travelling by myself. All my friends were either still in school, too broke to travel or travelling other places. I decided that I didn’t want to wait all my life to travel, so now was the time. Of course my parents were extremely worried about me travelling by myself, so we settled on me doing a group travel trip. I choose Contiki because despite its reputation and a few bad reviews, the majority of the reviews were amazing. I also liked the trips they had compared to their competitor, Topdeck.

My Trip

I did European Encounter in May 2019. I went to ‘ten’ (really nine because we only drove through Belgium) countries in 17 days. I was abroad for 18 days because I stayed another day in London after.

My trip was: start in London, Amsterdam for two days, Berlin for two days, Prague for two days, Salzburg for one day, Venice for one day, Rome for two days, Florence for one day, Cinque Terre for one day, Luzern for one day, Paris for two days and then back to Paris. I had the most amazing time in Europe, it was one of the best experiences of my life.

I really liked the route and the layout of my trip. Obviously there are still some places I would like to see, but I felt that I was able to see a lot of Europe. The three cities I felt that I didn’t have enough time in were London, Paris and Rome. T be fair these are some of the biggest cities in the world so it’s hard to see everything in two days. I think the trip was also good at picking out which cities we should days to spend one day in versus two days. For example, Venice is so small that I think if we had spent two days there I would have been bored.

Now to address the ‘reputation’ of Contiki. For some reason, there are a lot of Australians and New Zealanders who go on Contiki trips, and my trip was no exception. But there was a nice mixture. There was six other Canadians, six Americans, a couple from South Africa, and a girl from India. So I would say only half our of group was Aussies and Kiwis. The other thing was the average age of people on our trip was older than others. A few people on my trip had done Contiki before, and they said that our trip was older and more tame compared to the other trips they had done. I would say the average age was probably 23 or 24. There were a few 19-20 years olds and a few 30 year olds, but most people on this trip were around my age or older. There was also a lot of couples on this trip, six to be exact! Almost half the people on my trip were in relationships, which I think helped tame things down. We all liked to party and have fun, but it was not an every night type of thing. I think that the length of the trip and the destinations we were going to, along with the time of year, drew in a older group. All of this was fine by me because I wanted to have fun, but I didn’t want to be hung over every day.

I think the people were really the stand out part of Contiki. I liked the majority of the people on my trip. It was so cool to talk to people from all over the world. Not only was I learning about Europe on the trip, but also all the places people were from. I am so surprised with how close I got with some of the people on the trip, I am definitely planning to visit some of them soon!

The other great people on the trip were my trip manager and driver. A trip manager can really make or break a trip, and we got lucky with an amazing trip manager. The nice thing about doing a tour group besides solo travelling is that you have someone there on the trip whose job is to give you recommendations and make sure you are having a good time. My trip manager was amazing at giving good recommendations, and was very quick to solve any issues we were having.

Hotels

Contiki has options to stay either in hotels, hostels or camping. Call me a princess, but I personally wanted to stay in hotels. I know hostels are cheaper and some of them are really nice, but since I didn’t have a say where we were staying I thought that the hotel option would be better. I noticed that some of the reviews were quite negative about accommodations, so I was a little worried going into it.

Overall I would say that I was pleasantly surprised. I would say everywhere but Italy – with the exception of Rome – we stayed in pretty decent places. I noticed that generally the nicer the places, the further away from the city centre we were. For example, my favourite hotels were in Amsterdam and Rome which were super far from the city centre. But in some cities, like Berlin and Prague, we were closer to the centre so it really varied city to city. The hotels in Italy were generally the worst, but they weren’t awful. They were only bad because they were really outdated.

The worst hotel was the one in Florence. We stayed in the Albergo Auto Park, and honestly don’t ever go there. When I first walked into the room it smelled so strongly of cigarette smoke, it was disgusting. I went down to the front desk and mentioned it, and they basically said just open the windows. Then as I was trying to take pictures of my room, I heard through the super thin walls that some had found bed bugs. We were all staying on the same floor, so every on the trip immediately panicked and looked for bed bugs. Luckily no one else found any, and the hotel was good enough to switch the guys who found bed bugs to a different room. The rooms were tiny, and everything was outdated except for the bathroom. The bathroom was redone, but they had done a pretty crappy job. Overall, I think you could find better places in Florence then this place.

A final note on hotels/accommodations. I had paid extra to get a single room, since I was travelling by myself I wanted my own space. But if you were travelling with other people they were really good about it. They had friends room together, and all the couples were able to get rooms together. The only funny thing was that I often got better rooms than the couples. For example, in Europe it’s cheaper to have two single beds pushed together than an actual double bed. So I would often have a double bed while the couples had two singles. But overall it wasn’t a huge difference in quality of the rooms.

Below I have a slideshow of all the pictures of the rooms that we stayed at. I have included the names of the hotels and also just my thoughts, in case you are looking for places to stay.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Activities

As a part of Contiki, there are some included experiences along with a list of ‘free-time add ons’. These free-time activities are not free though, you do have to pay. Some of our included experiences were a number of dinners, which you would get free food but would have to pay for any drinks. The quality of these dinners would vary, but overall pretty good. Some of the other included activities were a bike ride in Edam (small town outside of Amsterdam) and in Prague, a bunch of free walking tours, a leather demonstration, a Swiss watch demonstration and a perfumery tour.

The free-time add ons basically feel into three categories: dinners, tours or others. There were six dinners, and I did half of them. I didn’t do all the dinners because I had heard mixed reviews online and they were expensive. The nice thing about the dinners is that the alcohol is included and endless, so you can really get your money’s worth if you drink a lot. The food at the dinners were generally above average but not the best I’ve ever had. The nice thing is that they always feed you a lot, I never left those dinners hungry. For choosing what dinners to go to, I would recommend picking the ones that you think you would like the food the best. I did both of the Italian ones but passed on the Dutch, Czech and Austrian ones.

The tours are generally ones that are above your average walking tour. Some of them had food included, like in Berlin and in Venice. In Rome, to go into the Vatican and Colosseum we had to pay, but the nice thing is that we got to skip the lines. As a history person I would definitely recommend these tours, because I got to learn so much from them.

The final type of add ons were the ones that were unique to the cities but super cool experiences. In Amsterdam there was a canal cruise, in Venice a gondola ride and in Switzerland a lake cruise and a ride up to the top of a mountain. These were some of the best experiences I had on my whole trip. They are not things you can do anywhere else in the world, and so it was so cool to do it. The canal cruise in Amsterdam was such an amazing way to see the city, and we also had an open bar! Going to the top of a mountain in Switzerland was super fun to do, because for a lot of my friends it was their first time seeing snow!

The final thing I liked about these add-ons is that the fact that you are doing them with your group. Yes it’s possible to find your own restaurants or book some of these tours yourself, but it can be hard to do with a big group. The nice thing is that you are with all the new friends you have made. When trying to decided what activities to do, I would just pick what interests you. I would say the majority of the add-ons were worth it, and I enjoyed them.

Overall Thoughts and Recommendations on Contiki

I friggin loved Contiki, but I don’t think it’s for everyone. Contiki is definitely meant for extroverted people. Yes it’s possible to leave the group and do your own thing, but you are still spending many hours on a bus or at dinners together with these people. Most of the time you get about an hour in the hotel sometime during the day to freshen up, and then whatever time at night before you go to bed by yourself. You are with people 24/7, so if that’s not your thing, then Contiki can be very draining.

Contiki is also very fast-paced. We stayed a max of two days in a city before moving onto the next one. It can be very tiring to constantly be moving. While I was sad that my trip was over, I was definitely started to get burnt out by the end. If on your holiday you want to spend more time in one place, then Contiki isn’t the way to go.

I think I should also mention that on Contiki you do spend a fair amount of time on a bus. There are some large distances between places that can take a time to cross. I personally didn’t mind the busing. My cottage is 7 hours away, so I have no problem sitting in a car all day. I also spend most of the time talking to my friends or playing games – one of my friends brought a card game and we would play multiple games a day. I also watched a few movies. My trip manager was also great at using this time to talk to us about the places we were going to. You can also nap on the bus as well. I would just recommend bringing some ways to keep yourself entertained on the bus and also some stuff for motion sickness if you are prone to that.

Something I didn’t do, but a lot of my friends did was add time in a city before or after their trip. I would definitely recommend this. People either came a few days before and toured London, or stayed after in Paris or London. Because we didn’t really stay much in London, this is the only way to really see the city. It can also be nice to actually stay put somewhere after moving around for so long. I would personally recommend doing this after the trip, because then you can hang out with the people on your trip if they happen to be doing the same thing. Some of my friends were stayed in London after, so I was able to hang out with them the one extra day I add.

General Europe Travel Trips

In North America, it is way more popular to use cards to pay for everything but that is not the case in Europe. Definitely bring cash and use it. Especially for paying meals, it’s way easier to use cash because they don’t split the bill. What happened is that usually either everyone would pay cash, or one person would pay the full bill with their card and everyone would pay them back. This happened quite often with Ubers and cabs as well.

Try and get a good data plan. While in North America there is wifi almost everywhere, wifi isn’t that great in Europe. Even in hotels it can be crappy. It is way easier to have data to be able to get Ubers, look up directions, look up places to eat, etc.

My two favourite places were Berlin and Prague. I liked Berlin because there is so much history but there is also such a fun party scene as well. All of the Holocaust/WW2/Cold War museums are free, so it is really easy to learn about their history. In Berlin, I highly recommend going to karaoke because it was so much fun. I really liked Prague because it was pretty and cheap. Prague has a very cohesive look to it, so it feels like you are back in time. Prague is also really cheap, so you can go out and eat well while you are there.

If you want to do shopping, Prague is a pretty good place to go because it’s so cheap. If you are looking to get makeup, I would definitely recommend France especially French brands because they are way cheaper than back home.

I don’t have a ton of restaurant recommendations, but I would recommend Lokal in Prague, Ristorante Wanted in Rome (right near the Colosseum) and Carluccios in London for brunch.

But ya that was my trip! This was honestly the trip of a life time, and I definitely have caught the travel bug now! Can’t wait to go somewhere else! If you guys have any questions about any of the places that I went to just let me know and I have answer them/offer some suggestions 🙂

Lea

What Makeup + Skincare I Travel With

Hey guys! So as a part of my travel series, today I am sharing what makeup and skincare I brought with me on my two and a half week trip to Europe! I brought a lot of stuff (my suitcase was almost overweight…) but too be fair I did use the majority of the products. Because I brought so many products, this post would be so long if I were to review each product. Most of the products I have reviewed before, but I think that it’s pretty obvious that I like most of these products since I brought them with me!

First is makeup! I bought a new makeup case specifically for this trip. I wanted a hard case one in order to keep all my makeup safe and in one spot. I got the ROWNYEON case from Amazon and it worked like a dream. I was able to fit the majority of my makeup and my brushes in this case. The only downside is that because it’s so protective it can be heavy, so that is something to keep in mind. I ended up carrying it on the airplane because my suitcase would have been overweight if I had put it there.

Photo 2019-06-14, 2 18 48 PM

So as you can see from the above photo, I brought a ton of makeup, and everything but my Jaclyn Hill x Morphe palette fit in it. I’m just going to go through order of how I apply my makeup.

So first for eyeshadow primer I had the Smashbox 24 Hour Photo Finish Shadow Primer. It’s the only primer I use, so of course I brought it. For eyeshadow I brought my Colourpop single shadows that I mentioned in my Current Faves post in a mini Z palette. Then I brought the Jaclyn Hill x Morphe palette. I know that Jaclyn is currently going through some controversy with her brand right now, but at the end of the day this palette is amazing (and my trip was also before all this controversy). It just has such a nice range of shades, I was able to create some many looks with this palette. It’s also super study so it fit nicely on the side of my suitcase.

For eyeliner I brought the NYX Matte Liquid Liner and the Marc Jacobs Highliner Gel Eye Crayon in the shade (Earth)quake. I always travel with a brown and black liner. I brought two mascaras – the Tarte Tarteist Lash Paint Mascara and IT Cosmetics Superhero Mascara. The Tarte mascara is more daytime while the IT Cosmetics is more big volume-night time looking. I also brought one set of lashes, the Battington Lashes in the style Monroe. For eyebrows I had the IT Cosmetics Universal Brow Pencil and my ride-or-die ABH Brow Wiz.

For face primer I brought my Dr. Brandt Pores No More Luminizer Primer and the Smashbox Photofinish Primer. The Smashbox primer I have in a mini, so it was super nice to travel with. For foundation I brought my Physicians Formula The Healthy Foundation. I had decided to bring the full bottle of foundation with me because when I went to Mexico at Christmas I had depotted some but didn’t have enough so I didn’t want to have that problem in Europe. The nice thing is that this bottle fit perfectly in my makeup case, so I had no issues with it breaking. For concealer I brought my Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer. I brought two powders with me. I would usually apply my Hourglass Veil Translucent Setting Powder (in the mini size) in the morning and then use my Wet n Wild Photo Focus Pressed Powder to powder myself through the day.

I decided to bring my CoverFx Perfector Face Palette mainly because it has a big mirror in it. I used this mirror almost every time I was doing my makeup. I would also use the face products as well, especially the highlights. I still brought tons of face products ahaha. For bronzer I brought the Fenty Beauty Sun Stalk’r Bronzer which I had in a mini! Another mini I had was the Tarte Amazonian Clay Blush in the shade Paaarty – it was apart of the birthday present from Sephora a few years ago. For blush I also brought my Laura Geller Baked blush. I brought my Colourpop Pressed Powder Highlight in the shade Here Kitty Kitty. The formula is so creamy that I wasn’t afraid of it breaking. Finally for setting sprays I brought minis of my two favourites – the Urban Decay All Nighter and the Mac Fix+.

For lips I brought a ton of options, but to be honest I didn’t use most of them. Whenever I know I’m going to be eating food I will usually just wear lip balm or lip gloss. But just in case your curious, I brought: Colourpop Ultra Glossy Lip in Champagne Mami, Tarte Tarteist Shimmering Lip Paint in Flaming Hot, Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick in Patina, Fenty Beauty Gloss Bomb in Fenty Glow, Covergirl Katy Kat Matte Lipstick in the shade Catoure and finally MAC Matte Lipstick in the shade Velvet Teddy.

Now to make this long post even longer – my skincare! So I kept all my toiletries in bag that I’ve had since I was 14, so I don’t think its available anymore (it was also a gift so I have no idea where it’s from). It has lasted me really well! So I keep all my shower products in the front back, and then inside I keep all my skincare to one side and then hair care to the other. As you can see from the photos, I keep some mini products in it all the time. In this post I will not be talking about my hair care because I am planning to do another separate post about that.

Photo 2019-06-14, 2 23 52 PM

In this photo most of these products are full sized, but on my trip I had either minis of everything or they were in travel bottles. First for cleanser I brought my Fresh Soy Cleanser and the Drunk Elephant Beste No. 9 Jelly Cleanser. I hadn’t tried the Drunk Elephant cleanser before going on this trip which was a mistake. This cleanser is too strong for my skin, so luckily I brought my Fresh cleanser because I had to stop using it. For toner I had some of my Origins Zero Oil Pore Purifying Toner.

I had two moisturizers – the Drunk Elephant Protini Polypeptide Moisturizer and my CeraVa Moisturizing Cream. For makeup removing, I had my classic Garnier Micellar Water and Neutrogena Oil-Free Eye Makeup Remover. I also had some makeup wipes as well. In the shower I always exfoliated with my St Ives Fresh Skin Apricot Scrub. Finally I had minis of two of my favourite masks: The Origins Out of Trouble 10 Minute Mask and Retexturizing Mask with Rose Clay.

And those were all the products I brought with me to Europe! This post really gives you a good look at what some of my favourite products are (and how much of an over packed I am haha). Stay tuned for Tuesday when I will have a post up about my actual trip!

xoxo

Lea

What I Packed on my 2+ Week Trip to Europe during Spring

Hey guys! So this next week I will be sharing what I packed on my two and a half week trip to Europe! The next two posts on my blog are going to be all about my trip. On Friday I will be sharing what I packed in my makeup and toiletries bag, and then next Tuesday I will be about my actual trip!

I decided to write this post because I personally researched online what to bring with me, but I struggled to find a spring specific post. I was gone during May and was in both the North and South of Europe, so I had to pack for different climates. I was also pretty unlucky that it was unseasonably cold in a few places, so if I could have changed anything I would have brought more long sleeves and less t-shirts!

So just to let you know, I am going to explain everything I bought, and give some suggestions/things I would change. At the end of my post I will have a list of everything I bought, so you can always just scroll down and check that if you want!

Photo 2019-05-06, 2 37 58 PM

First, I wanted to mention that I found my suitcase at Winners for only $100! If you are looking for suitcases, I highly would recommend going there. I really liked the one I got because it was a front open instead of opening in half, so it took up less space in my room. I also liked this one because the print made it stand out compared to all the black suitcases. This suitcase also matched the size restrictions I had. Beside this suitcase, I also brought a backpack and a backpack purse. Also when I was coming home I brought a tote bag on the plane.

There was a bunch of stuff I bought for my trip, because I have never travelled abroad to Europe before. I bought a power adapter in order to charge my electronics. I got a sleeping mask that also came with ear plugs. I didn’t use it but it was pretty inexpensive and I had a friend borrow it anyways. Next I bought some bed bug stuff because I had read a few negative reviews online about the places we were staying, and I thought it was better to be safe than sorry. I did use the bed bug trap in one hotel, but I never used the pillow.

Photo 2019-05-06, 2 37 34 PM

Next up I bought travel locks and I would highly recommend getting some. I used them on both my suitcase and my backpack purse. If a hotel didn’t have a safe in the room I would always lock my suitcase before leaving. It was also much safer in busy crowds to have the lock on my backpack purse.

Photo 2019-05-06, 2 37 47 PM

I brought with me a microfiber hair towel along with full body microfiber/Sham-Wow-esque towel. I got the microfiber hair towel at Walmart in the spa section and I used it a ton. A lot of the hotel didn’t have a good sized hair towel, so it was useful to just have my own. I only used my full size towel once, most of the hotels had nice towels. I also brought it to go swimming, but it wasn’t warm enough so I didn’t use it for that. I got my towel awhile ago from a swimming store. I would recommend bringing microfiber towels because they are smaller than normal ones but are very useful. I also brought a face towel (not shown) because sometimes I feel guilty getting makeup all over the hotel’s white towels, but I’m fine with getting my own personal towel dirty.

I definitely recommend getting luggage tags. I got these cute Canada ones from Winners. If you have plain suitcase they can help make your suitcase stand out. I got a two pack of Cottenelle wipes just in case, but I didn’t use them at all. I wish that I had brought wet wipes instead of these, especially since they were so bulky and took up a lot of room in my suitcase. I also brought two travel blankets with me. I probably should have just brought one, but I am really happy that I brought it. I used it at night if the duvet cover looked gross, but also on the bus to take naps.

Photo 2019-05-06, 2 37 44 PM

I brought a ton of candy and snacks with me, and ended up buying a ton more there. I brought some Fuzzy Peaches and M&Ms because those are my favourite. I brought a ton of gum because I am susceptible to motion sickness and I find gum helps with it. I also got these maple syrup flavoured candies. It was fun to share a piece of home with my new friends. Finally a bought a few granola and protein bars, which were useful for when I didn’t have time for breakfast.

Photo 2019-05-06, 2 37 41 PM

I definitely recommend getting some packing cubes and vacuum seal bags! I organized my clothes into categories and had a packing cube for each category; so one for shirts, one for pants, etc. The vacuum seal bags were ones that you didn’t need a machine/blow dryer for. They were pretty good at squishing down bulky items such as sweaters. I also rolled all my clothes within the packing cubes in order to fit more into each cube.

I brought with me six pairs of shoes, which was a lot. I had my Vans, a pair of Nike running shoes, a pair of rain boots, a pair of Adidas slides, my Birkenstocks and a nice pair of mules. Most days I wore either my Vans or my running shoes. I wore my slides all the time in my hotel rooms, and once in a gross shower. I didn’t wear my Birkenstocks once, but that’s because we got unlucky with bad weather. I think if you are going during early spring then pack rainboots, but by late May you should be fine and pack sandals instead of rainboots.

Besides my backpack purse I brought along this Aldo fanny pack. This fanny pack was amazing. It is both a fanny pack and a cross body bag. I would wear it as a fanny pack during the day and then as a cross body at night. It also comes with a cute little card holder!

For coats I brought three, all of which got a ton of use. I brought a raincoat, a jean jacket and a light puffer jacket. The puffer jacket was good because we had some colder days, as well being something warmer to wear at night when it cooled down. I also brought an umbrella with me as well.

Besides that, I had a few things in my backpack. I had my iPad and all of my charging cables. I brought a notebook, a travel journal and my pencil case. I had a little mini pharmacy bag which included: Tylenol, Gravol, muscle pain meds, diarrhea meds, Benadryl, medicine for yeast infections, band aids and a thermometer. I brought a bunch of stuff because I heard it can be hard to get over the counter medicine in Europe. I also brought a Brita water bottle, which was an amazing purchase. I saved so much money by not having to buy water all the time. Finally, I brought my Polaroid camera with me, which was fun but I honestly didn’t use too much and took up a ton of room in my bag.

So my ultimate Europe during Spring Packing List is:

  • packing cubes
  • seven pairs of bottoms
    • three pairs of jeans
    • three pairs of leggings
    • one pair of sweatpants
    • one skirt
  • three dresses
    • two casual, one fancy
  • two sweatshirts, one sweater, one cardigan
  • two long sleeves
  • five t-shirts, three tank tops
  • underwear, socks and bras
  • five pairs of pjs
  • six pairs of shoes
    • Vans and running shoes
    • Rain boots
    • slides and Birkenstocks
    • fancy shoes (high heels or flats)
  • three coats
    • rain jacket, jean jacket and puffer jacket
  • two purses
    • backpack and fanny pack/cross body
  • bed bugs supplies
  • bag locks
  • towels
    • hair, face and body
  • travel blankets
  • toiletries + makeup + pharmacy/medication
  • food/candy
  • adapters and charging cables
  • notebooks + pencil cases
  • travel documents

Yes, I realize that I definitely over-packed (fun fact my suitcase was overweight oops). But honestly I have just come to terms with the fact that I am an over-packer. You can take my list and adjust it to your own personal needs. Anyways, stayed tuned for Friday for my toiletries and makeup bag!

xoxo

Lea