Grab a bag and Get Ready, Set, Go!

Can I get a window seat…don’t want no body next to me -Erykah Badu

Although I was traveling in May, the climate in Singapore is pretty consistent and usually warm. Cotton shirts, light colors, sunscreen, sunglasses, sunhats, and a cardigan or two, no real need for a bathing suit though, unless you plan to hit the pool (Singapore isn’t known for its beaches). Whilst the outside temperatures can be warm, inside is a different story. Everywhere you go is air conditioned, so pack for the warm temps but bring a coverup that you can throw on just in case.

Tasha Tip: When visiting Singapore, pack for a warm climate (it’s very similar to the Caribbean climate wise) humid and warm most days.

The weight limits for suitcases weren’t a big concern for me however most airlines limit you to 50lbs /22kg. Surprisingly I only packed one large suitcase and one carry on, to hold me over for the week that I was there.

Since I was traveling on a plane for over 20 hours, it was important to pack the ultimate essentials. My In flight survivor pack consisted of the following:

  1. Eye patch, when flying westward for 20 hours I encountered about 12+ hours of daylight
  2. Reading Material: Magazines, Ipad, books etc
  3. Phone games
  4. Charger: usually just the USB cord
  5. Snacks: make sure to rack up on as much snacks as you can before your flight. Those in flight meals and peanuts are not gonna cut it. : /
  6. Neck pillow and blanket: it can get pretty cold up in the clouds

And we’re off…….

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One flight down, two more to go! #CaliforniaTarmacSelfies
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Delta’s in-flight tracker. This thing helped me keep my sanity 😉

Ready, Set…How to Prepare!

She works hard for the money – Donna Summer

Saving was a huge component in the planning process of my trip. I took about $2000 with me and that was more than enough (I had $200 left upon my return). There is a currency conversion in Singapore; the U.S dollar is more than the Singapore dollar (roughly $1 Sing = $0.80 USD). You can workout your savings in whatever way works best for you; saving $50-$100 a week for about 5 months right up until the week of my trip worked out for me and allowed me to travel comfortably. Once you actually have your savings converting the money is relatively simple. I converted my money once I arrived in Singapore simply because my stop in Japan was very short and they accepted credit cards which automatically did the conversion calculations and charged me accordingly. My advice however is to use cash, keep your credit and debit cards for emergencies. Many banks charge a conversion fee per transaction which varies in price range but can definitely add up.

IMG_0658There are definitely a number of anxieties that come with taking a trip of this caliber. I’d never gone farther West than California so there were many things I had to consider:

Come & Talk to Me: Communicating While Abroad
Communication while abroad is key. I needed to figure out cost effective ways to connect with my loved ones while abroad. I would advise downloading an app called WhatsApp. This app is wonderful for international communication and texting. Additionally, WiFi will be your best friend. To get access to the WiFi in the Tokyo airport ( I had a layover in Japan) you need to have a code texted to you. Unfortunately, I didn’t receive these codes until I returned to the States. Ultimately, whenever WiFi was available I used Facetime on my Iphone.

Tasha Tip: Speak to your provider at least a few days before your trip. See if there are any international phone packages that you can add to your account temporarily. Sprint allows you to choose a start and end date and will charge you an almost negligible amount per text something like five cents a text and $1.20 per minute for calls.

Language Barriers
As for language barriers both the Tokyo and Singapore airports are international so there are plenty of signs in multiple languages including English which was a huge assistance to me. Also, many of the representatives speak fluent English so I didn’t have too much of a problem finding my way. I absolutely loved the service in both airports, everyone was super helpful and pleasant. I spent only a couple of hours in Japan waiting for my connection so hopefully on a bit more adventurous return trip I can delve deeper into navigating the language concerns for Japan. Singapore however is easy as pie! Why you ask? The national languages which include English,are Malay, Mandarin and Tamil (language of the people of South India and North-East Sri-Lanka). Although the demographic is made up of many different peoples including those from neighboring Malaysia, the Philippines, and Thailand the majority of the population speaks English fluently. The locals will almost automatically address you in English so you can always find someone to help you navigate your way around. The beauty of this trip was there was no need for those cumbersome English to (? language) dictionaries.

Ready…Getting your ticket

Come fly with me lets, fly lets fly away- Frank Sinatra

Being that this was my first extensive trip, I missed out on the travel points and mileage gains that I would have gotten had I used a travel credit card. These travel cards would have given me credits usually via a point system for the number of miles I traveled. The beauty of these cards is that for frequent fliers it really gets your trips to work for you and your future travel adventures. But you live and you learn.

Falling credit cardsDeals: I found sites like Skyscanner.com to be a great resource for searching for tickets. It gave an overall view of what the average ticket prices were to travel from NYC to Singapore which helped with my decision making . Essentially Skyscanner.com scans for the lowest price amongst airlines that flies into your area of interest and lets you know about the possible connection options on non-stop flights (I sought a connection in Japan). Overall, it gave perspective on what price range I would fall into when booking my ticket. SkyscannerPricing: When booking my flight for travel in May the price range to fly to Singapore was between $1200-$1600 on a mainstream commercial airline. There were less mainstream airlines that fly to Asia for reduced prices, however I would advise researching their track record if this is an option you would be interested in. While Skyscanner was my tool for keeping in mind the expected price range, I eventually used the actual airline’s website to buy the ticket. I found a ticket on Delta Airlines for around $1400, and spent $1700 in total for the flight. Leg room, was where the extra $300 came in, and this turned out to be a very good investment. Spending 32 hours in total on the plane, including a 20 hour flight from California to Japan and a 7 hour flight from Japan to Singapore, meant that at a mere $85 a flight, the cost for leg room was well worth it. This plus some of the other things mentioned in my next post may help you make your next long distance flight pretty pleasant.

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Singapore: A Tourist Behind The Scenes

Hello All! I’m Natasha and I invite you to venture vicariously with me throughout Singapore!

Hello Asia! For those of you who have never been to Asia I am saying hello for you too; specifically to Singapore and if you’re anything like I used to be, you have no idea where to find this country on the map. So join me in these next few post to explore this tiny country and just some of the wonders it has to offer 🙂

First things first, Singapore is pretty much half way around the world from those of us in the West and its a tiny, highly populated country on the very bottom of Malaysia (don’t worry, I’ve included a map). But please don’t be fooled by its size because what this country lacks in land mass, it most definitely makes up in culture.

map-singapore While this little gem offers many resource, giving you tons of reasons to travel over ten thousand miles to visit, my main reason was family. My nephew was graduating from high school and it was literally my last call to experience Singapore before my family’s return to the States. The pro to visiting my family abroad was that I got the inside scoop of Singapore from these well seasoned expats. Fortunately for me, they didn’t disclose all of the treasures of this country which allowed me to get the tourist eye view as well.

Staying with family meant looking for hotels would just be one less thing for me to worry about but I still had to find flights, build an itinerary and pack.

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Weekends By Ky: Philadelphia

So often we look across the world to experience history and culture and never in our own backyard. This past weekend I decided to visit my friend Brittany in Philadelphia. We spent the first-night having careless fun which included fish tacos at a Mexican restaurant and Korean Karaoke. The following day I felt a little under the weather, so we got a bunch of snacks from the grocery store and watched Law & Order Criminal Intent all day. Finally, she convinced my sick self to get up and catch a movie which we did and it was awesome. Luckily for me, I got a double deal. We went to see the movie on the UPENN campus and I got to experience life as a Penn ivy leaguer, well sort of. That night, Britt made delish spaghetti and I called it a night early.

Kydee WilliamsThe next morning I felt so much better. We got an early start and headed to the Philadelphia Museum of Modern Art. I ran up the Rocky Balboa stairs like I was the champion himself. I had no idea about the significance of those stairs as it related to the movie. I saw people line up just to get a picture with the Rocky statue and I eventually put two and two together. We headed straight to the museum and luckily for me my Penn State credentials granted me access to the museum at a discounted student rate.

Kydee Williams Kydee WilliamsThe museum was amazing, filled with a lot of antique furniture, portraits of George Washington and breathtaking artwork. What captivated me most was the medieval room which was an exhibit filled with military armory from the middle ages. As someone who is always assuming that this part of our history was somewhat fictional, it was interesting to see the steel army wardrobe of the past on display.

IMG_7615 IMG_7616 IMG_7618Kydee WilliamsOutside of the museum was The Oval, which is a seasonal local festival. Brittany and I watched performances and drank apple cider while sitting on a haystack. We enjoyed taking in the amazing sights of this beautiful fall afternoon.

IMG_7606I felt fulfilled as I headed back to New York. Who knew that the Philadelphia Museum was the first museum in the United States? I didn’t. Not only did I experience the culture, and a lot of history in a short 2-days, but this weekend seemed longer than ever. I was totally ready to head back to work and finally have something great to say when someone asks me the quintessential “So how was your weekend?”

The Wedding Day

The day of the wedding was so relaxing. Danielle, Kirsha and I decided to go to the beach across from the hotel which was absolutely breathtaking. The water was clear and the beach was alive and filled with cool vibes and fun tourist. I wanted to stay in the water forever, but the yacht to the private island where the wedding would take place was set to depart at 6PM and with 3-girls in one room, we needed more than enough time to get pretty.

IMG_6773 IMG_6642 IMG_6648The wedding was beautiful. I cried only 2-times (when the bride came down the aisle with her father and grandmother and when the groom said his vows). When the guest first arrived each of us said kind words in a video that they would watch later. I quoted Boyz II Men “You gotta believe in the spirit of love” One of my favorite quotes ever. After the wedding, all the guests took one huge picture before heading back to the reception. Cocktail hour was by the pool and the reception followed shortly after. Akilah and Rion’s union made me come to a lot of realizations in my life. For one, I was twenty-five and was literally messing with the wrong men and getting into the wrong type of relationships. My friends were getting married! Furthermore, I was ready for growth in my overall life. Snapping myself out of my thoughts, allowed me to enjoy why I was at the wedding in the first place, to celebrate my friend’s union, which we did all night. The reception was fun! We danced the night away to the latest songs and jumped into the pool with our wedding clothes on for the hell of it. The Bahamas was awesome!!!!!

IMG_6658 IMG_6663 IMG_6680 IMG_6684 IMG_6688 IMG_6734 Luckily, traveling back to NYC was a breeze. The only thing I needed to focus on was catching up on sleep. It took about a week for me to get into the groove of things, which also meant I was late to work just about every day when I got back. I didn’t realize how little we slept until I returned…geesh. Overall it was an amazing vacation and I am so blessed that I was able to share this memory with my closest friends. Cheers to #DOUBLEADAY

The Day Before the Big Day

Saturday was supposed to be a relaxing day, as it was the day before the wedding. It was also the day that my friend Danielle arrived. I was so excited when she came. We got dressed and headed into town with the other bridesmaids.

After heading back to the hotel, we decided to meet up with the other wedding guests to visit the private beach and pool at Taino for a huge day-before-the-wedding-pow-wow. We stayed in the pool until the last water taxi was set to leave and played Man Hunt, Hide-and-Seek and a whole bunch of other pool games. We also had girls talk in the hot tub where we addressed, relationships, friendships and everything in between.

IMG_6505 IMG_6506IMG_6513When we got on our ”yacht” back to the hotel, the captain took us on a tour of the island where we danced to 90s classics, 112 “Only You” and TLC “Baby-Baby-Baby.” It was so much fun to be surrounded by great people. We got ready for dinner shortly after, in which I fell asleep at the table. I was so deprived of sleep. We then went to the bars and got back to the hotel around 3am. I was finally able to catch what was left of my beauty rest.

Bahama Mamas

The next day, we had a full-blown buffet breakfast which was delicious and then decided to head into town to hang out with the locals. We soon discovered there was not much to the town, but found comfort in a local boutique where the sales associate was so cool. We talked to her for an hour about everything ranging from Drake to Love & Hip Hop to relationships before we exchanged Instagram’s and said our goodbyes.

IMG_6337bahamas kydee williams kydee bahamas IMG_6343After shopping around and meeting other amicable Bahamian’s including Mama G who invited us to the strip club that night, we headed back to our hotel, where we met up with the rest of the wedding guests for an afternoon on the private beach of Taino resort.

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We Made It…Bahamas

I stayed up for about 23-hours without going to sleep on the day of departure. I had to go to work, then braid my hair, then pack and leave for the airport at 3am. My flight departed at 6:30am which meant I literally had no time to even nap.

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Absolutely Delirious-NO SLEEP

The flight attendant put me in a window seat with no windows. I was pissed, but luckily slept the whole way to Atlanta; it didn’t bother me as much as I thought. I met up with my friend Kirsha who would be staying in the room with me. She’s an airline employee so she was first classing it, honey. I sat in the emergency row during the flight to the Bahamas which was super annoying but spacious. Honestly, I was so drunk with sleep, I could care less. When we finally arrived in Freeport we headed straight to the Pelican Bay Hotel to unwind and explore.

Kydee WilliamsPort Lucaya was next door to the hotel so we explored the marketplace a little before taking a nap. Kirsha went straight to bed, but I decided to lay out by the pool and take in some sun before the beach party.

Kydee Williams BahamasThe Welcome Beach Party was the first event for wedding guests. Great music, great people and the food, oh my, I can’t emphasize the food enough, it was delicious. After crash dieting for a week, this was the first time I had actual food and I was just in heaven.

IMG_6254 IMG_6295 IMG_6288The beach party was eventually shut down by cops, so we made our way to the bars at Port Lucaya which comes alive at night time. As the night progressed we jumped into our hotel’s Jacuzzi and talked until the sun came out. The things that happened while in the hot tub were insane. Just when we started to talk about scary movies like “I Know What You Did Last Summer” a weird Eastern European man that we nicknamed, Ivan, appeared in the midst of the night and sat in front of the hot tub. He decided to smoke a cigarette as we watched him silently and he watched us silently. It was one of the most bizarre occurrences of my whole existence. Day One in the Bahamas was definitely one for the books.

Before Take-Off…The Bahamas

August 11, 2013, Akilah and Arion invited their closest friends to a BBQ to announce their engagement and wedding date which would be in exactly one year. My friends and I were so excited. Finally, not only were our friends getting married but they were having an amazing destination wedding…AHHH we were adults.

Summer 2014, vastly approached and before I knew it the wedding was drawing near. 4-weeks before the wedding, my ticket was not booked. Life happens; I decided to take a 2-week vacation to Europe for my 25th birthday which set a sistah back. 3-weeks before the wedding my ticket was still not booked. I somehow hoped that the ticket to the Bahamas which was now a whopping $540 would decrease to $500 possibly? I don’t know; wishful thinking. 2-weeks before the wedding, I had no choice but to book with Delta Airlines, which at that point in time I had over 15k frequent flyer miles and ended up spending about $600 for my ticket. I made a mistake, waiting for the last minute but it’s a mistake that I take full ownership of.

Freeport Bahamas

European Trains

EurostarTaking trains between countries was easier than I thought. In all honesty, it was a breeze. As a point of comparison, I would compare it to taking a bus from New York to Virginia, only the scenery is much more gratifying.

Eurostar from London to Paris was fast. It actually got us into Paris 20 minutes earlier than expected. I literally fell in and out of sleep and before I knew it, we were there. The train ride was about 2-hours long. The annoying part was finding a place to put my bags. I ended up putting it in a storage shelf in the back of the car which was risky because I couldn’t keep watch of my bag, but there was nothing else I could do.

Trenitalia’s14-hour train ride from Paris to Venice, was cheap and fun. We ate before we got on the train but I should’ve brought a snack with me because I got hungry along the way. The train cart we were in had 6 bunks and we shared it with an Italian couple from Milan. They were really kind people. They chose the top bunks and we chose the bottom four. We played games and snacked on cookies and wine. Shadesha and I stayed up and told scary ghost stories with our flashlights. We just made the best of the long ride. We passed through Switzerland and Milan but it was night time so we couldn’t see much. It was still exciting nonetheless. The train car was so cold. I was freezing. Trenitalia did provide blankets and pillows but I questioned how clean they were. Besides, the freezing temperatures I would totally take an overnight train like this again. It was so much fun.

Trenitalia from Venice to Rome was a 6-hour duration and it went by quite fast as well. Again the scenery in Europe is to die for, and I could not complain about the beauty of the Italian cities we passed through including Florence and Tuscany. The wineries, colorful houses, and mountainous regions were a beautiful sight to see.

I am all for trains when traveling through Europe. Not only do they tend to be cheaper than other intercontinental transportation options but it’s also fun. Train systems in Europe are way better than what we have in the States. I would recommend train routes for those who are traveling throughout Europe in a heartbeat.

Ky Tips:

  • Get train tickets early!
  • Unlike flexible prices of flights (Where Tuesday could be $503 and Wednesday could be $490), train ticket prices are not as flexible, which is a good thing. As the departure date gets closer the prices increase.
  • Set up alerts for prospective train routes you are seeking. I did this for trains from Venice to Rome and we ended up paying 13 Euro for our train ticket. Amazing prices.

10 Overseas Travel Prep Tips

It’s officially summer folks, which means a lot of us are traveling. Having recently come back from an extensive overseas trip, I have some valuable tips that I want to share with you if you are planning on traveling this season:

1. Passport

Don’t forget your passport. This is probably the most important identification you will have for your trip. Make sure you allow enough time to get a new or renewed passport if need be.

2. Pack Light

With the hikes in baggage prices, avoid overpacking your bags.

3. Exchange your Money before you Leave

The exchange companies overseas will charge fees like you have never seen before. Please avoid them by all costs (pun intended). Also, get a list from your bank of their affiliations with any other bank in the country you are traveling to so you can easily retrieve money without high-cost fees and exchange rates.

4. Research

Do your research on any country you are visiting. I can’t emphasize this enough. A lot of countries all over the world operate differently from us in the United States. There are so many blogs, book stores, google maps, and review sites like Trip Advisor and travel agents out there that can assist with all the information you will need for your upcoming trip. Use these resources; it’s so vital.

5. Itinerary

Probably the most important piece of paper you will have is an itinerary or a breakdown of how your trip should go (even though a few changes may occur). Make sure to have a list of places you are visiting, dates, hotel names and addresses, phone numbers, confirmations, etc. Everything you will need to survive while out of the country should be included on this list.

6. Download Important Apps

There are amazing travel apps out there for smartphone users. On my recent trip to Europe, I downloaded “What’s App” as a means of texting and MagicJack to make international phone calls to my family for free. It’s amazing what you can discover on the App Store.

7. Know the basics

If you are traveling to a country that speaks a foreign language, know the basics words such as hello, good-bye, how much? Where’s the bathroom? So you can communicate with the locals

8. Maps of Train Systems

I think it’s very important to get familiar with different countries’ metro systems (before traveling) so you won’t get lost or overwhelmed. Also using the trains can help save money on otherwise expensive taxicabs.

9. Beware of Pickpockets and Robbers

It seems as if tourists have an invisible sign on their forehead which says “ROB ME.” Some people can spot a tourist from a mile away and with that being said, it’s always wise to be cautious of your belongings, your purse if you are a lady and your passport. You would never want an ideal vacation to go sour because something was stolen from you…what a nightmare.

10. Be Open-Minded

Indulging in another culture unlike your own could be frightening. However, you have to go into an experience wanting to take it to the fullest. Let your hair down and enjoy the lifestyle of foreign cultures. Try different foods, dance in the streets, sleep in, relax and just enjoy life. You never know what you will learn and you may also discover, people across the world are just like you in a lot of ways.

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Helpful Conversation Starters

Knowing how to say the basic words in each of the countries you are visiting is valuable. Below is a list of terms that I found to be extremely helpful during my stay in Europe. They are in the order of French, Italian, and Spanish. Most Europeans speak multiple languages, including English so it’s rare you will encounter someone who can’t understand you. Nevertheless, I hope this is helpful. Is it necessary to travel with a dictionary? I would totally invest in one, although I forgot mine at home :/ it always helps to be prepared.

Kydee Williams Hello

French: Bonjour

Italian: Bonjourno/Ciao!

Spanish: Hola

GoodBye/See you later

French: Au Revoir

Italian: Arrivederci/ Ciao!

Spanish: Adios

Good Evening

French: Bonsoir

Italian: Buonasera

Spanish: Buena tarde

Thank You

French: Merci

Italian: Grazie

Spanish: Gracias

Where is…

French: Où est

Italian: Dove si trova (didn’t have to use this because all the Italians we encountered spoke English)

Spanish: Donde esta …

How much…

French: Combine

Italian: Quanto

Spanish: Cuánto

Wine

French: Vin

Italian: Vino

Spanish: Vino

Being Black and Being a Woman in Europe

Race Relations is such a hot topic in the United States, so naturally, I thought it would be an issue overseas. I looked up blogs and articles on this issue but nothing came up so I figured I would just wait until I got out there and experience what being a black woman in Europe was all about.

I was surprised by the color blindness of Europeans. Throughout the trip, I never felt color conscious. Occasionally we would have people stare at us to the point where it got a bit awkward but aside from that, it was pretty cool. I guess that’s why so many famous black entertainers like Josephine Baker fled to Europe in an attempt to dodge all the racial issues back in the States. It really illustrates how far we still must come as a nation in America when it pertains to issues of race.

Disclaimer: This blog post is solely my opinion and is not meant to elicit any type of divide. How I would be treated as a black woman in Europe was a real concern of mine before my trip.

Taste of Europe-Food!

“When the moon hits your eyes like a big pizza pie that’s Amore” -Dean Martin

I loved the food in Europe and looked forward to it as well. To be honest I was a little disappointed in Italy’s food. Maybe I didn’t go to the right restaurants, so please don’t hold this statement against me on my next visit, but I really expected Italian food to be orgasmic and it was blah! Italian pizza is actually delightful though. We drank wine a lot with our dinner. When in Europe…do what the Europeans do was our motto and they love wine!

How we chose restaurants? At random. If the price was right we ate there. If not, we kept moving and literally walked around until we could all agree on a reasonably priced restaurant who’s menu accommodated all of our taste buds. I think we only ate at McDonald’s once, and that was a snack. We tried to indulge in the delicacies of each of the countries as much as possible.

London

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Fried Haddock and Chips

France

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Duck, Chicken, Beef, and Pasta (although you can’t see my pasta) in Paris

Italy

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A seafood delight in Venice
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Italian treats

Spain

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I still dream about the Mussels

Amsterdam

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Ahh! The treats we brought back to our hotel in Amsterdam was heavenly…

24-Hours in Amsterdam

“Is this love, is this love, is this love, is this love that I’m feeling” -Bob Marley

Amsterdam was the country I looked forward to the most (shhh, don’t tell anyone). For years, this place has gotten a bad rap for being a “druggies” paradise. But did all the rumors have some truth to it? That’s what I sought to find out.

IMG_3353When we arrived at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, we were amazed by its beauty. By far, this was the best airport we’ve been to all trip. The charging stations immediately captivated Taurie and I. In order to charge your phone you had to pedal a bicycle to get “juice”. We stayed in the airport for at least an hour roaming around.

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We found our hotel without a hassle because it was at the airport. Citizen M was the best hotel ever. Everything was high-tech and contemporary. I checked in using a touch-screen computer. The room was controlled by a single remote. The vibes in Amsterdam were so far, all good!

Kydee Williams When we went downstairs to figure out how to get into the city’s center, the concierge gave us a map and told us we had to take the bus because the trains were under construction. I studied the city’s train system but not their bus system and was afraid we would get lost. Luckily, it worked out all in our favor. We caught a bus and got off at Museumplein, which was ways before we should have gotten off but allowed us to see the IAMAMSETERDAM sign and the Van Gogh Museum.

Kydee WilliamsKydee Williams Kydee WilliamsLater, we took a tram to Central Station and sought to find the Red Light District. It was still light out, but walking through that district scared us. The beautiful women in the windows just ready to be sold for sexual favors was discomforting. We were on our way out of the district when Taurie asked if we could stop at the Bull Dog coffee shop because she was super tired and needed an espresso shot. I laughed so loud and exclaimed:

Ky: “Girl do you know what coffee shops stand for in Amsterdam”

Taur: “Coffee right?”

Ky: “No, Marijuana”

This time we both laughed so hard we could barely contain ourselves.

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Kydee WilliamsKydee WilliamsThe Anne Frank Museum was a must-do while there. This museum single-handedly changed my life. I’m not trying to sound cliché but it shook me to my core. Just being in that small attic was overwhelming. Only 70 years ago, this young woman was forced to hide out in an attic because she was Jewish. However, she didn’t let her enslavement shake her. She had dreams and high hopes that she would make it out alive. Anne was a writer, and one day hoped to become a famous journalist. She wanted the basic freedoms that we too often take for granted. It’s amazing how God works sometimes. Anne’s dreams came true but she never reaped the benefits of it in life. I am inspired by Anne Frank because I am Anne Frank. I went on this trip searching for the same freedom of living life on my terms, just like she yearned for. I too, want to be known for writing amazing books. I want to be free just like she wanted to be free, to travel the world and experience different cultures. She inspired me to keep dreaming and keep doing. I left that museum a changed woman. The world would be mine.

Kydee WilliamsKydee WilliamsKydee WilliamsKydee WilliamsKydee Williams Something that was extremely commendable about Amsterdam is that no matter how far they’ve come from their dark history of Nazi invasions and mass murders, it still brings that past, which made them stronger, into their present and future. I actually saw a billboard by a library that had a picture of Dutch people from the past (circa 1930’s ) and Dutch people from the present which further reinforces the importance of blending periods as inspiration for progression.

I realized that as human beings, we too should never forget where we came from on the path to bettering ourselves. I couldn’t help but be reminded by how far this city and all of the European cities I visited have come. One of the many beauties of Europe is that they preserve remnants from their past in the midst of modernizing their present which is something we all can appreciate and why millions of tourists are drawn here annually.

Kydee Williams Kydee Williams Kydee Williams The Dutch people are some of the nicest and most welcoming people I’ve encountered. They sang songs loudly as they rode their bicycles throughout the streets. The serenity that I received in Amsterdam was one that can only be experienced by visiting this city.

Kydee WilliamsKy Verdict: Amsterdam is one of the most amazing city’s in Europe and I just fell in love with its beauty. From the cool trams to the canals and lofty buildings, it’s just one of a kind. Mercedes Benz Taxi Cabs alongside bike riding enthusiasts is just one of the many disparities that only makes sense in Amsterdam. I just wanted to be there a little longer. Amsterdam is not the city filled with stoners and prostitutes as some people believe it is. It has a laid back, no worries kind of vibe and the Dutch people are so friendly. On my flight to The Netherlands, I sat next to a Dutch woman who was completely maternal. She took care of me the whole ride making sure I had food and drinks because she knew how exhausted I was. She made small talk and just was a pleasure to be around. I knew from that moment my experience in this country would be one of a kind. I think I discovered my nirvana.

Barcelona Remixed

“Maria Maria you remind me of the West Side Story”-Carlos Santana
Kydee WilliamsDay two in Barcelona was way better. We had an early start and made our way to the beach. Barceloneta was calling our names, as the sun shined bright and was beaming in our faces. We were in SPAIN and it finally felt like it. We took a bus to the boardwalk and settled at a cozy restaurant where we shared an array of Tapas and Paella. AHHH! Spain food was to die for. So rich with flavor. I loved how much seafood they used in their dishes. We then walked to the beach and relaxed there for hours.

Kydee WilliamsKydee WilliamsKydee WilliamsWe decided to head back to the hotel so we could get ready for the night. Our first stop was Chupitos where they light your drinks on fire. Burn Baby Burn. We then ate dinner at the most amazing restaurant ever…La Flauta (I still look at the pictures of the food and salivate over the mussels and prongs). Dinner was followed by a night on the town where we danced the night away at The Sutton Club.

ChupitosKydee WilliamsKydee WilliamsThe next day, we had a jam-packed schedule. After a little R&R by the pool, Parc De Guell was our first stop. At the peak of this attraction, we saw all of Barcelona and it was literally breathtaking. We also saw the amazing artwork of Gaudi. I love all of the bright colors and abstract architecture in Barcelona. It’s such a metropolis, however, it still has some out of the ordinary structures that are exquisite. I spent the rest of my day as a tourist walking around, shopping and just enjoying all it had to offer. I also had an amazing dinner with LaSaundra where we reflected on the trip and everything we learned.

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Kydee WilliamsKydee Williams IMG_3311That night it was time to experience the world-famous Opium Nightclub. This club is one of the best clubs in Barcelona, standing out from all of the other clubs I’ve ever been to because the party continues onto the beach. It’s fabulous. We stayed there for a few hours and then found a tapas bar, where we ate some more…the food in Spain is addictive.

Kydee Williams Kydee Williams Kydee WilliamsKy’s Verdict: Barcelona was fun, but probably the one city I enjoyed the least. I think after traveling for so long, you become numb. For me, Spain wasn’t what I expected. I realized I loved the cities that made me feel like I was in Europe, rustic, archaic, historical and Barcelona was just like being in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn with loads of Spanish speaking citizens. Nevertheless, it’s a beautiful city. Some people suggested that I may have liked Madrid better…who knows?

Espana…I’ve Arrived

Baila Mi Cha-Cha-Abraxas Pool

Kydee WilliamsHonestly, when we landed in Barcelona El Prat Airport the vibes were a bit off for me. I wasn’t excited. At this point, I was sleepy, cranky and had very little energy. My emotions were quite odd because every country we visited up until this point made me giddy like a little girl.

Now, the hard task of finding the hotel had begun. Once in Barcelona, we discovered that our hotel was located at the end of town in a neighborhood called Diagonal. Learning this made me even madder because this was my first mistake when choosing a hotel. I didn’t spend enough time researching the neighborhoods of Barcelona and figuring out which one would be best for us.

Ky Tip: If you are ever visiting Barcelona and want to be by the action you may want to find hotels in Barceloneta or La Rambla.

We took 3 trains and 1 bus to get to our hotel. On the last train, I felt a lady try to go in my purse. She unsnapped the lock and luckily I felt it and asked aggressively “What are you doing?” She turned away with shame on her face as if she didn’t understand and got off the next stop. I couldn’t believe I was almost pickpocketed. This experience made me paranoid for the rest of the time I was in Spain.

Ky Tip: Europe doesn’t have as much lethal crime as the U.S does but they do have pickpockets all over. BEWARE! You never know who you’re around and who is watching you. Don’t be the one who ends up with a missing passport or cell phone. Always be conscious of your belongings and wear bags that are harder to get into or that you will feel if someone is trying to get into.

Once we got outside of the train station it was pouring rain. We stopped at a bakery before making our way down to the hotel. At least it was close to the metro. Once we checked in, we realized there was not much for us to do. It was raining, the pool was closed and we had no idea what Barcelona was all about. Eventually, we faced our weather blues and explored our neighborhood. There was a mall next door to our hotel so we went shopping. We then tried to find a cute restaurant to eat at but came to the realization that we were in the middle of nowhere and there were no restaurants in the area (Hard to believe right? Well it’s true). We went back to the mall and ate Chinese food (Ridiculous..where’s the authentic food?). As blessed as we were to be in Spain, this part of the trip was turning into a disaster.

The rain got worst as the night went on. Fatigued to the max, we decided to spend our first night in Spain in the hotel and have a girls’ night in the beautiful and girly Desigual common area.

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Rome If You Want To

“You know literally, we can go shopping in Italy…”-Jadakiss

The first time we took a taxi while in Europe was in Rome. Our train to Rome was about 6hours and we had no idea how to navigate the metro system (nor did we want to). The driver was a bit mean and he tried to overcharge us for our ride.

Ky Tip: Beware of this scheme. Taxi drivers will assume you are a stupid American and will try to overcharge you for their services. Make sure they always have their meters on, unless it’s a standard charge from the airport and also go to each country knowing approximately how much the cost of a taxi is. I used the following website for these calculations: http://www.worldtaximeter.comIMG_2775 IMG_2780Kolbe Hotel was absolutely beautiful. It’s in the midst of the Roman Forum and the Colosseum. I literally was amazed when I opened the door to the room. It was a duplex- loft. This was the best hotel we checked in thus far.

Kydee WilliamsWe got dressed (but not fast enough) and headed to Vatican City. It was beautiful and vast. However, when we got to the Sistine Chapel it was closed for the day. So we did what anyone would do…take flicks!

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Kydee WilliamsWe headed back into Rome to make a wish at the Fountain de Trevi or Trevi fountain. Trevi had swarms of people surrounding it. I made a simple wish and like everyone who has ever thrown a coin inside and held high hopes for returning to Rome one day.

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Kydee WilliamsIf I can count the number of times we ran in Rome, whether it was to cross the street or catch a bus it would be endless. We took buses everywhere. Rome was not as strict about paying for transportation, which worked to our advantage because we got on and off as we pleased. We wandered around aimlessly until we unintentionally discovered the Roman ruins or the Roman Forum. Honestly, this was one of the greatest moments of my trip. Stepping back into time and experiencing how the ancient Romans lived was the most magnificent experience ever.

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Kydee Williams

IMG_3642Kydee WilliamsOur walk back to the hotel was creepy, to say the least. We got chased by a bunch of Italian children who were looking at us weird and pointing at us. However, once we got to the hotel there was no way we could just stay in for the night. We were in ROMA!!!! So we went roaming around the city in search of adventure. It was around 11PM, but this place was still alive.

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Kydee WilliamsWe went to a local bar that was very chic, followed by a bus ride for the heck of it. We got off the bus at the perfect stop and decided to switch gears and start searching for pastries. A local told us about a bakery where we could get fresh-baked treats straight out of the oven. YUM!!!

Kydee Williams Kydee WilliamsKydee WilliamsTime was of the essence for our last morning in Rome. We had a plane to catch at 2pm which meant we only had a few precious hours left in Italy. Our morning consisted of the Roman Forum and the Coliseum.

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Kydee WilliamsKydee WilliamsIMG_2981 IMG_2983Shortly after it was time to say Arrivederci Italia. España here we come!

Ky’s Verdict: I like to think of Rome as a hybrid that merges the elements of city life with its historical past. I can’t wait to go back. This city has too much history and attractions to experience in one day. I just didn’t have enough time and I yearn to return. FYI- Italian men, love chocolate women. This is a gorgeous city and the preservation of its ruins was captivating.

Ciao Venice!

In the villa, in Venice, sipping vino – Jay -Z

Imagine riding on a cold train for 14hrs, with nothing to eat or drink, just to pull up into the most majestic city you’ve ever seen, completely surrounded by a large body of water and colorful buildings. That was my experience upon reaching Venice and that extensive train ride was so worth it. When we got out of the Venezia Santa Lucia train station, I felt like I was in a fairy tale storybook. We walked over a bridge that crossed the Grand Canal and down a block to our hotel.

Kydee WilliamsThe first thing we did was EAT! We found a quaint restaurant close by and ate carbonara and a seafood platter filled with squid, octopus, and prawns. Venice food is so good.

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Kydee Williams Kydee Williams Kydee WilliamsAfter lunch, we went walking through Venice taking in its eloquence. Venice is so effortlessly beautiful.

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Kydee WilliamsWe wanted to buy wine and strawberries for our gondola ride just to set the mood. Luckily we didn’t have to search very far before discovering a supermarket where in addition to our wine we picked up Nutella. There was a Gondola man outside of the market who seemed cool and had a gorgeous boat so we did what anyone would do and tried to negotiate the 80 € price down before hopping on.
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IMG_2609Our Gondola ride was pretty awesome. We sailed along the Grand Canal, snapping flicks and listening to the history of Venice. We passed by the Marco Polo house, only to discover that Hollywood was there shooting a Marco Polo film. It was awesome to see all the actors dressed like they were living in the year 1295. The ride leads us under various bridges and secret passageways that unlocked the mystical charm of Venice. Our tour guide was super cool, until someone got Nutella chocolate on his hat and he went INSANE! He kicked us off his boat cussing us out in Italian. You had to see it to believe it.

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We had one more thing to do for the day and that was to find San Marco Square. Venice has signs on buildings with arrows that points you into various directions and you have to keep looking for these signs…it’s so bizarre and very easy to overlook.
Kydee WilliamsI think the city is a set up for getting lost. It’s something that will inevitably happen to you. We roamed the streets aimlessly sometimes following the crowds and other times just walking into desolate alley ways stopping at Gelato stands and bakeries along the way. Venice is weird like that, one minute you are surrounded by hundreds of people and other times you are on the streets completely alone.

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IMG_2710 Kydee WilliamsFinally, we discovered San Marco Square, the heart of Venice. The first thing we did was go inside St Marks Basilica. I walked to a pew and kneeled on the stand praying to God and thanking him for his blessings and traveling mercies. I then put holy water on my head and walked out. San Marco Square was filled with tourists, pigeons and amazing architecture.

Kydee Williams IMG_2722 Kydee Williams Kydee Williams Kydee Williams Kydee WilliamsTrying to find our way back from San Marco Square to Santa Croce (the neighborhood of our hotel) ultimately meant we would get lost, yet again…only this time we were really lost. I guess I can cross Get Lost in Venice off my bucket list. We walked across the Rialto Bridge, one of the oldest bridges in Venice. It was massive and the sun was setting over it which made it look extra magical. We then walked through a few alleyways, turning left and another left, walking straight down a path, crossing a bridge and walking along the Grand Canal until finally, we saw something we recognized…BURGER KING! In Venice, there was only one McDonalds and Burger King. It just so happens that our hotel was close by. We could finally breathe easily.
Kydee WilliamsThat night we had free cocktails at our hotel bar and talked candidly with the staff. It was after 10PM so we knew Venice had completely shut down but we found a restaurant close to our hotel who cooked us seafood spaghetti and carbonara. Magnifico!
Kydee WilliamsKy’s Verdict: I love Venice but I probably won’t be visiting here anytime soon. All I needed was that one day to experience this beautiful city but after that, I can see it becoming boring.

Nice Meeting You Mona

Bumped into a girl, her name was Mona….Mona Lisa -Slick Rick

Our last day in Paris was interesting, to say the least. We went to a café which served salted crepes and eggs. I forgot to tell them to overcook my eggs and couldn’t enjoy my meal because it was too raw. Unbeknownst to me a bunch of gypsies sitting in front of us was plotting to rob us. I had no idea that those were their intentions as I took a picture of them in awe of how cool and french they looked. The owners of the restaurant eventually chased them off their property. Darn Gypsies.   kydee williams

We decided to walk back to the Love Lock bridge one last time to make our mark. Love was in the air. That’s the awesome thing about Paris, it rejuvenated my spirit of love. Europeans are so passionate about their significant others and they can kiss for hours on end…in public! KydeeTravel IMG_2399 Kydee Williams

Finally, the last thing left to do was to actually go inside the Louvre. We didn’t make it to Musee D’Orsay which was disappointing but gave me even more motivation to return to Paris as soon as I could. The Louvre museum is so grand. It was impossible to get through the whole museum unless you spend a day there which is something I would love to do next time I’m in Paris.
Kydee WilliamsKydee WilliamsKydee WilliamsWe headed straight to the Mona Lisa. She was extremely small, but that’s what everyone says about her. I wanted to learn more about Mona, why was she such a big deal?

Mona Lisa #selfie with MONAThree Facts about Mona Lisa

  1. Her name is Lisa Del Giocondo
  2. The actual spelling of the painting is Monna Lisa (spelled correctly in the Louvre)
  3. She was stolen from the Louvre in 1911 by an Italian extremist and employee at the Louvre

The Louvre museum is filled with art work from all over the world. We got through American, Italian, Medieval and Egyptian art before the whole experience became tiresome.

LouvreIMG_2451Louvre Museum IMG_2447Kydee WilliamsA quick shopping stop on Rue Rivoli meant our Paris stay was coming to an end. Although I wanted to stay just a little bit longer we had an overnight train to Italy that we needed to catch.
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Ky Verdict: Paris for an American girl is absolutely a dream come true. It’s magnificent and contrary to popular belief the French are very nice people. The consistency of the buildings and architecture in Paris made things so handsome.The chateau’s and long windows are tres beau! I loved how peaceful this city felt. Everything seemed so easy going and lovely.

Ky Tips:

  • Go into Paris knowing basic words in French. If you make an effort the French will be more nice and comfortable because you are trying.
  • Be alert at all times. Carry purses that are harder to get into if someone does try to steal from you, you can at least feel it and react.

To Paris, With Love

Now we out in Paris, yeah we perriering” -Big Sean

Things left to do in Paris

  • Eiffel Tower
  • Louvre
  • People Watch
  • Musee D’Orsay
  • Seine River

Our list of things we had left to do in Paris wasn’t impossible, but it was Sunday and a lot of places were closed. We started our day with a nice brunch at a café by our hotel. We had crepes, omelets, and baguettes. I loved how the locals walked around with pain (bread) and baguettes like it was an accessory. One of the things I enjoyed doing in Paris was people watching. There were so many happy and fabulously dressed people to see and the Europeans just loved to sing in the streets.Kydee WilliamsAfter brunch, we walked towards the Seine River and discovered the Love Lock Bridge. We took pictures and celebrated all the love that was in the air. Couples kissing here, a group of friends putting a lock on the bridge over there and then it was us, trying to recreate Beyonce’s XO video…(don’t ask).

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Click to watch our horrific XO by Beyonce reenactment

The Eiffel Tower was marvelous. There were a lot of people who had the same picnic plan as us, so it was quite crowded with tourists everywhere. Everyone was in such great spirits as we ate Nutella crepes and took pictures with Miss Eiffel.Kydee Williams
Kydee WilliamsKydee WilliamsWe proceeded to walk along the Seine River which was close by. The walk was serene and eye-opening. Parisienne people love their bottles of wine. I watched as the locals walked, jogged and played along the river, a bit envious that Paris was a place they could call home, while I had a clicking clock whose time was almost up. I too found peace on the Seine. Kydee WilliamsKydee WilliamsKydee Williams

Kydee WilliamsKydee WilliamsKydee WilliamsThat night, we had dinner at a cute restaurant by our hotel. The waiter was hilarious. He was super charming and allowed us to drink our own bottles of wine. We laughed the night away, embracing French culture to its fullest.

Kydee Williams Kydee Williams Kydee WilliamsAfter dinner, we decided to take the bus back to the Eiffel Tower. It was definitely more gorgeous at night. We had a blast, although we encountered rats in the area…yuck.

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Kydee Williams

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The clock stroke one, which meant the final light show of the night was on the way and let me just say, it was enchanting. We sang Drunk in Love by Beyonce as the locals sang with us. We also made videos of our wacky wine night until it got too late and was getting too creepy. Two guys started following us by the Seine so we naturally ran for our lives. Once we got back to a safe zone, we took a cab back to the hotel. Oh quelle nuit!

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Oh Paris, How I Love Thee!

Excuse my french but I’m in France- Kanye West

Paris is everything and more, Ahhhh! I could barely contain my excitement. Once we got off the Eurostar we needed to catch the 1 train going to Louvre-Rivoli, which meant we had to transfer trains with all our bags (the horror). Anyway, the train ride from Gare Du Nord wasn’t that bad and once we got out of the station, our hotel was literally one block away.

Kydee Williams Kydee williamsI will never forget that feeling of walking onto the streets of Paris. It was absolutely stunning and everything I’d ever dreamed of. We got dressed in our “Paris Outfits” and headed across the street to the Louvre.

Kydee Williams Kydee Williams Kydee WilliamsThe Louvre was absolutely breathtaking and I don’t believe I have the words that will do this museum any justice. It’s so vast and beautiful.

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Kydee Williams

Kydee Williams Kydee Williams Kydee WilliamsKydee WilliamsWe headed back to the hotel to get our jackets because it was getting chilly and took the metro to Champs Elysees. This boulevard was beautiful. Decked in striking lights, lively people and amazing shops, I was so excited to finally be on the avenue that I had learned about for so many years in French class.

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IMG_2090Aux Champs Elysee was the hymn my French teacher would sing to us and I couldn’t get it out of my head. You know when you make up your own words to a song because you have no idea what the artist is saying? Well, I did that for years and recently googled the actual lyrics…what kind of song was this?

Aux Champs Elysees

Aux Champs Elysees

Y a d’la cocaine

Des prostituees

Et de l’herorine a bon marche

Il y a tout ce que vous voulez aux champs elysees

Kydee WilliamsWe found a cute restaurant and experienced french food at its best. I had Smoked Salmon Pasta which was Tres Magnifique. We finally got to the end of the Champs Elysees and encountered L’Arc De Triomphe. It was beautiful but under construction. All roads lead to the arc, it seemed.

IMG_2078 IMG_2747Champs Elysee was “the spot” and we found ourselves back there later that night when we went to Club 79. To make a long and pathetic story short, we couldn’t get in. There were over 200 people waiting outside and we were four of them. We tried to pull our “But we’re American” stunt but they were not having it.

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Kydee WilliamsKy Tip: When going out, be on time. Other countries don’t operate like we do in the States. It’s best to be the first one at the club rather than the ones trying to get in. Try to be out of your hotel at 8PM the latest

I could care less about being in a club, I was in Paris and in complete awe by how edgy and cool everyone is. Cigarettes, wild hair, red lips, and a black ensemble seemed to be the style. Parisienne’s style was some! That night we took a cab home and sang “Drunk in Love” as we drove along the Seine River. Oh, What a night!

 

We’ll Never Be #Royals

“I’ll never see a diamond in the flesh…” -Lourde

One of my goals while in London was to meet up with Louise. Louise is my colleague at work, whom I’ve had the pleasure of knowing and communicating with for over 2-years but we never actually met. When the opportunity presented itself, I jumped on it. We met up at the St. Pauls Tube stop, in which she led us around the corner to an amazing restaurant called The Happenstance. This restaurant was to die for. It’s distinguished by its hybrid of settings, which ranged from girly and sophisticated to rustic and modern with a southern charm. The walls are wooden and chalkboard, while the furniture ranged from standard metal bar stools to rocking chairs. The ambiance was incredible and set the tone for the perfect lunch date. I finally got the chance to order a London delicacy, fish and chips or as the restaurant called it Hand Beer-Battered Haddock with Chips (hehe).

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Kydee Williams

IMG_1715  Louise and I talked about everything under the sun. I explained to her my reasons for my travels in which I confessed my confusion for the next steps of my life. Turning 25 is so pivotal and I wanted to make sure I lived my 20’s to the fullest with very little mistakes or regrets.

Kydee WilliamsAfter lunch Louise and I walked to St. Paul’s Cathedral where Princess Diana got married. We thought it would also be a great opportunity to take cliché London telephone booth pictures. I had a blast with her but she had to go back to work and I had to meet up with my friends. My friends and I had no way of contacting each other because our phones didn’t work, which meant I had to be back at the designated spot on time.

Kydee Williams Kydee Williams Kydee Williams Kydee WilliamsOnce I met up with the girls, we took a double-decker bus to Buckingham Palace. Aside from the soldiers doing their weird march, I loved that the palace gates and fountains were adorned with gold. On my next trip, I may have to go inside to actually get the feel of being in the midst of royalty.

Kydee Williams Kydee Williams Kydee Williams Kydee Williams We strolled from Buckingham to St. James Park where we played on the swings and watched the most interesting looking birds, ducks and geese wander past us. They were so cute and carefree.

Kydee WilliamsThen we took flicks with the stiff soldiers who wouldn’t even crack a smile. No matter what we did to them, they didn’t budge. It was kind of cool but scary at the same time.

Kydee Williams Kydee Williams  Kydee WilliamsFinally, the clock stroke 5 and I encountered the sweet sounds of Big Ben (now known as the Elizabeth Tower). I was so excited to hear him roar. I began to walk towards him, and when I finally was graced with his presence I was in awe by how dignified and handsome he stood. His classic build and quintessential grace is what people think of when they think of London. He’s legendary. I finally felt at that point that my duties as a London tourist were fulfilled.

Kydee Williams Kydee Williams Kydee Williams That night we went to the club Tiger Tiger, which was a recommendation of my friend Brittany. It was a pretty happening club, with 5 different sections, a stripper pole and an LCD dance floor. Each room had something different going on. We danced the night away, partying in London for the first time ever! It was so exciting to see how people on the other side of the pond live. Once we left, we caught a bus that would take us back to Westminster, but the bus driver hated us. She called my friends and me annoying and told us to get out of her sight. It was so rude of her but funny at the same time. She was the first unfriendly person we met in London, which was excellent when compared to the number of unfriendly people you encounter in New York on an hourly basis.

Ky’s Verdict:

When can I move here? I loved London. I can totally see myself enjoying the rest of my 20’s here because it’s so darn cool. However, it’s very expensive. British Pounds are a nightmare.

London Town

Just touched down in London Town -Estelle

WiFi was the equivalent to the air we need to survive during our trip. The second we left customs at Heathrow and realized we could get 30-mins of free WiFi, we stayed in the airport to tell everyone #WEMADEIT. When the time was up, I suggested that we take the Tube instead of the Heathrow Express because it was much cheaper. We got on the blue line tube until we reached our stop at Lambeth North (switching from the blue to the brown line). In total, it was about an hour’s ride from Heathrow. Once we got out of the train station and realized we were in London, it was the most amazing feeling ever. The high was indescribable, that is until we reached the hotel and they wouldn’t let us check-in for another 40-minutes. So with our “loads” of luggage as the brits would say we explored the neighborhood.

Kydee TravelWe discovered a cute London neighborhood with horses and cobble stone streets. We headed directly to the consignment store which seemed like it was straight out of that movie “The Sweetest Thing” with Cameron Diaz. I was in awe of London’s simplistic elegance. The people were polite and just stared at us with curiosity as to where we just traveled from. One man who resembled Grandpa from The Parent Trap movie, came up to us and carried on the most charming conversation with myself and Taurie. He talked about working in the hotel industry for years and how unprofessional our hotel was for not allowing us to check-in upon arrival. He continued to talk to us as we just marveled over his accent. He was the quintessential old British man with a hearing aid and tweed suit…It was love at first sight.

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A thrift store in London, the clothes and shoes they had in this store were soooo cool. Think “The Sweetest Thing” Movie

When we finally got to the hotel, we did a quick change and headed back out to explore Westminster. We followed the road to the London Eye and was captivated by its enormity, It was beautiful and everything I’d ever imagined. We waited on the line for about 15-minutes and spent 20GBP to get on the spectacle. It was awesome to see the whole city from such high peaks. I’m happy I got to do it, but it was definitely a one-time thing.

 

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After the London Eye, we went to meet Desh’s sister for the first time. It was also Desh’s first time meeting her too. Her sister ended up being super cool and took us on an amazing tour of London. We traveled to Piccadilly Circus, the Theatre District, Soho, the Red Light District, and China Town. We ate authentic Chinese food and enjoyed bubble tea as a beverage. I had a blast. We called it a night early, as you could imagine, the jet lag was kicking in.

IMG_1673Once we got to the hotel we wanted to explore London some more, so we walked around the area passing the Imperial War Museum and a bunch of other attractions until we miraculously found a WiFi booth. My mom is either a psychic or has perfect timing because she happened to Facetime me at that very moment. I shared with her the key points of my day and showed her the double-decker buses that passed by. I was so excited to be in London. I wish I could’ve stayed forever.

Bag Lady: Tips and Tricks for Packing

I HATE PACKING…but I’ve never had to pack for a two-week vacation (The Horror). Initially, I was going to buy a new suitcase for my trip. I saw IT-Lightweight luggage at TJ Maxx one day and immediately fell in love. It was a measly 4pounds and meant that I could probably fit more clothes in my suitcase without going over 50 pounds. Eventually, after much thought I decided against it; I spent too much money on the trip already and at this point, I needed to focus on saving for it.

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When I got home I began to pack all of my things in a large suitcase, yet it seemed like the suitcase itself was heavier than my clothes. I downsized literally 2-hours before my flight to a smaller version. It was probably the best decision I made for myself. In total I carried a:

  • Medium suitcase
  • Book Bag with Wheels
  • Purse-which was more like a second carry on

Switching my suitcase now meant squeezing all my clothes in by any means necessary. I had shirts inside of heels and wore two jackets on the plane. I basically packed all my clothes in large Zip Lock bags and poked holes in each of them to release the air (each bag was separated by the outfit I would wear in each country). The zip lock strategy worked out but to be honest by the end of the trip it was hard to keep up with. An approximate list of things I carried is below:

Suit Case

  • About 10 Day outfits
  • 5 Night Outfits
  • 3 Jackets (Winter, Raincoat, Leather)
  • 3 Sexy Shirts for the night
  • 2 Leggings
  • 2 Jeans
  • 1 Overalls
  • 2 Sweaters
  • 8 Shoes boots and sneakers

 Carry On

  • Ipad (A waste, I didn’t use it one time)
  • Passport holder and passport
  • A pen for documentation
  • ID besides a passport
  • Converter-London and Europe plugs are different
  • 2 Travel books
  • A Journal
  • Maps
  • Makeup
  • Gum
  • Tooth Brush
  • Undies
  • Extra Pair of Clothes
  • Sneakers

To be honest I over packed. I packed two pairs of black boots and only ended up wearing one. I also packed three heels and ended up wearing two. My advice: less is more when it comes to shoes

Ky’s Travel Tips

  1. Pack light, in the words of Erykah Badu. Next time I travel to Europe, I will be taking 2 bags instead of three. It becomes too much of a hassle trying to keep up with all that luggage…it’s just super annoying
  2. Also invest in a Bungee for luggage which is a sort of elastic rope that allows you to hold in place any sized carry on, on top of your luggage
  3. Iron clothes before you leave, as European hotels have a weird policy that doesn’t allow irons in the hotel rooms
  4. I bought a lock for my luggage but didn’t end up using it. Don’t be like me and take that risk, use the lock because you never know who’s rummaging through your stuff

Before Leaving for Europe Remember:

  1. Remember to switch your phone to an international service or else you will have no way to contact your loved ones
  2. Remember to download What’s App and MagicJack to call and text internationally

Kydee Williams

 

Travel Style 101: Shopping

I did all my shopping before I left; it’s just too expensive to shop in Europe. Nevertheless, in this photo-driven world that we live in, it was important for me to look the part while in Europe. I wanted each of my outfits to be reflections of my personal style and the countries I was visiting. To start, I researched the traditional and/or stereotypical looks of each country. I then tried my best to imitate:

When I think of…

  • London, I think preppy, I needed a trench coat
  • Paris, I think romance, I needed a beret, soft colored outfits and black
  • Venice, I think nautical, I needed stripes like the Gondola guys
  • Rome, I think of a historical metropolis, I was thinking something along the line of gaudy Donatella Versace
  • Barcelona, I think excitement and liveliness, I needed bright colors
  • Amsterdam, I think Kydee all the way…Boho-hipster

Kydee style boardFor fashion inspiration, I resorted to magazines that illustrated European influenced styles, specifically Harper Bazaar magazine and clipped out tons of photos that fit the looks I was going for. Now I needed to shop:

  • Thrift Shopping: Thrifting was the best. I got a lot of European styled skirts and shoes that set the tone for some of my looks
  • The Fashion District: The garment/fashion district in NYC was my go-to spot for D.I.Y projects. I was attempting a tutu skirt and tassels on my heels
  • Zara: If you know me, then you know that my favorite store since I was 15-years old has always been Zara. I found some really cute things including leopard pants that were expensive ($70) but cute.
  • Forever 21 + H&M: I got a lot of accessories, leggings, shirts, and sweaters from these stores. I also got my walking shoes.
  • Banana Republic: I found my trench coat and blazers here…perfect for the conservative looks.

Ky’s Style Tips:

  • Take pictures of your outfits before you pack them. It’s great for memory and keeping track of what you are actually taking
  • No pictures? No problem…just use an excel document or the reminders app on your iPhone as a checklist

 

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Kydee Williams Kydee Williams

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