‘travel’ Category

14 October 2012

Belated London recap

By: Jessica B.
Tagged: Random, travel

Cheerio readers! Or, the handful of you that might still be out there. Things have been a little crazy since I’ve been back.

But yes, I am back from the other side of the pond. Yes, the London adventure is in the books and it.was.amazing.

And honestly, my first overseas trip where everything just…fell in to place. Paris and Italy both had a few bumps but London was mostly bump-free, and I did not mind that!

I don’t even know how to start summarizing everything that happened or all of the awesome stuff I saw, but my inner history nerd is satiated with joy from what I saw/learned and my inner shopper is happy too (and a little poorer). So let’s hit some highlight/lowlights and some photos!


  • Buckingham Palace State Room Tour – So.cool. The Palace State Rooms are open only two months out of the year (August/September) when the Queen is at Balmoral. I signed up for a private after-hours tour that ended in the gardens with a glass of champagne. Much like biking in Versailles, that was a moment of being truly happy
  • Big Ben – My first time in London, it took my breath away and it still does. I’m moderately obsessed with the structure and the Parliament building. I won’t tell you how many photos I have
  • Nerding out at British history – So many museums, castles and history at your finger tips, I truly could not get enough
  • Beer – It’s good there and so readily available. Almost ever bartender questioned if I could drink an entire pint solo, I proved them wrong :)
  • Shopping - London is expensive but the shopping is amazing. And not only at stores but at the markets too!
  • Abbey Road – I love the Beatles so seeing the studio exterior up close and the personal messages people left on the gate was so cool


  • Weather – Yes, I know it’s England but it still rained on/off every day and one day was ALL RAIN. Ugh.
  • Tube construction – The Tube is your main mode of transportation and my station was all but closed one day, extremely inconvenient

I really loved London and had a great time. Coming home was definitely bittersweet, but now I’m re-adjusted and back in reality (suck).

I cannot wait to go back. Solo adventures are on hold now until spring but coming soon: Costa Rica, possibly Spain and Greek Islands!!

How is everyone else? What’s new!


25 July 2012

Five Days in Napa

By: Jessica B.
Tagged: travel, work

Of all my solo vacations, one of my favorites was Napa Valley. It was my second solo vacation and the longest (at that time). And for seven days, I rotated between wine tasting, dining out, walking around and being deliciously buzzed.

It was heaven.

And, two years after being in Napa for the first time, I got to go back, for work. Yes, I know how fortunate I am.

But it wasn’t all sipping champagne and laying by the pool, they were long days, but it was in a beautiful place, so I won’t complain too much.

We got to eat at amazing places, wine taste and go in a hot air balloon ride. Yes, it was just as amazing the second time. If you’re in Napa and looking for some amazing eats (of which there are many), I add Redd, Morimoto, Kitchen Door and Oenotri to my list from the first visit. All three were incredible. I also still dream about the lobster risotto with truffle and lemon at Redd. O-M-G.

So here are some photos from my five days there. I got a little Instagram happy while I was gone, and for good reason!

Visiting/Trepassing on winery property (shhhh)

The bar at Bouchon

Cheers to the mountains!


Me in the basket (be kind, I was up at 4:30 am)


One of the best US cappuccinos I’ve tasted

I always said I would come back for you Tartine lemon tart. xoxoxoxoxoxo

Seriously though, Napa makes me happy. I think that will join Nola on my list of favorite places. I just, love it. I would move there in a heartbeat. I have to go back here again soon, I cannot stay away.

What was one of your favorite vacations?

12 July 2012

London calling

By: Jessica B.
Tagged: travel

The first time I went to London I was a 20 year old college kid going for a weekend before she flew back to the states from study abroad. It was January, cold as f*ck and I was about as poor and I could get at that time. But I went.

I rode the Tube for four days, ate next to nothing (to save money for the tourist spots) and stayed in the most disgusting hostel ever (fortunately, with nice American roommates).

Side note, eating a sandwich under the Harrods overhang in the middle of winter? HUMBLING MOMENT.

And on the chunnel back to Germany, I swore to myself that I would go back to London when I had more money so I could see it again and do it right.

That time is now. Or will be in September.


That’s right, I’ll be in London for 8-9 days and now that I’ve started trip planning, I am so excited I could scream out loud.

That’s the benefit to living alone, you can do that without sounding (too) crazy.

Right now, airfare, deeply discounted hotel (which is still pretty f*cking expensive but yay Travelzoo!), Buckingham Palace tour and play at Shakespeare’s Globe are booked, and this week I’ll be pouring over my guide books more to set up a schedule of what to see and do.

My inner history nerd goddess is jumping up and down with excitement.

And for some giggles, here is a photo from 2000 where I met up with a few other study abroad kids. Yes, that is my natural hair color…and how I looked back then :)

¬†Another funny note, I took this photo of this photo with my phone because I don’t have a scanner. I fail at technology.

21 June 2012

Stigma of traveling solo

By: Jessica B.
Tagged: travel

My decision to start traveling solo was a big one, and now, I love it.

But, the reaction I get from others is very interesting.

Over my last few US and abroad trips, I’ve told several people about my adventures and get one of the following responses:

  • “Bless your heart”
  • “Aww good for you being so brave”
  • “Why????”
  • “That is awesome”

While I may be sensitive to how I respond to each, I find that I roll my eyes at the first three because they feel condescending. They may not be meant that way, but they are.

To those that doubt or question solo travel and my true intentions, let me be clear.

I travel alone because I love it. Because it lets me see life outside of the Midwest and feeds the need I have to step out of my comfort zone. It’s allowed me to learn a lot about myself and make me a better person.

I do not travel alone because I’m trying to meet men or to give my father an ulcer by saying “damn the man” and getting out of town.

And after a few run-ins with negative Nelly’s in Paris and Hawaii, I don’t let it roll off my back as easily anymore. When they question or make snide comments, I fight back. Not in an aggressive manner, but to clarify.

Maybe it’s not worth it, but to me, it’s worth saying something.

Those who may be more narrow minded, need to hear the truth, even if it ultimately does nothing.

Why do you love to travel either solo or with a partner or friends?

12 June 2012

Aloha Hawaii

By: Jessica B.
Tagged: travel

In my quest to take over the world, I’m ready to add another travel notch in my belt.

Hawaii, get off my list of places to see for the first time.

Yes, I spent seven days in the (insanely f*cking hot) sun and got sand in places I didn’t know was possible in Hawaii. Specifically, in Maui and Oahu.

And after a bumpy May, I was ready to get the hell out of Chicago and hit the beach.

So here are some things I learned on my trip and a few pictures too!

  • Some sights are so beautiful you can’t breathe, but you have to go off the beaten path. And never judge a place by it’s exterior. Many buildings look old but are perfectly normal inside
  • Speed limits are only about 15-45 mph and everyone drives slower than that #killingmeslowly
  • There is some amazing food (but restaurants/bars are only open until 10 usually)
  • For the love of God, please wear sunscreen. All day, every day

Overall, the trip and time away was awesome. I did great on my own (with some text help from home) and had a chance to make my biggest deadline of the day that I be on the beach by 7 pm to watch the sun set over the mountains. Seriously.

On a sentimental note, I’ve wanted to see Hawaii, and specifically Pearl Harbor since I was a kid. It was something on my life list and I had a moment when I saw the USS Arizona Memorial for the first time in person, like, THIS IS HAPPENING! It is a truly humbling moment.

Now I’m back in Chicago for summer and enjoying my tanned skin :)

And honestly, I’m in a bit of a travel flummox right now. I honestly don’t know where to go next!