Tomorrowland Experience

It’s been 4 years since I embarked on my incredible journey to Tomorrowland. It was an amazing experience that I never truly got to share with everyone! Since Tomorrowland 2018 is right around the corner, what better time is there to share that than now? Hopefully, I could shine some last minute light on what to expect for the festival goers and help those that couldn’t snag tickets this year imagine what it’s like to embark on this journey to the Holy Grail of festivals.

Camping at Dreamville

0107-2018-0950187249057372800.jpeg

Gather up your crew and pitch a tent at DreamVille. This is the best way to make new friends with other people from all around the world.

There are different accommodations available in DreamVille suitable for all budgets, group sizes, and packing needs. There are packages anywhere from Magnificent Greens, where you need to bring your own tent and sleeping bags, to the Cabana and Mansion Packages that come equipped with beds and shelter.

My friends and I were lucky enough to score a Friendship Garden Package which consists of a reserved camping area large enough for 10 people with 10 wristband tickets. This would be the best option to camp together and be a little more secluded from the Magnificent Greens since it was a clusterfuck there.

At the Friendship Garden, they have secluded bathrooms where the toilet paper is always stocked and the porta potties are cleaned multiple times of the day. There are showers but you do need to pay for them! Don’t worry about food, there is a marketplace where you can buy your necessities with tokens as well as ready to eat food.

You are able to leave Tomorrowland whenever you like to go back to the campsite when you are tired and need to replenish your energy. But be warned that it is a pretty long walk from the entrance to camping! Sometimes they leave bikes around for you to take from place to place.

Pre-party at DreamVille

Being in DreamVille, you are allowed to start your party on Thursday with “The Gathering” which is only available with a camping wristband. The Gathering was a lot of fun and it gets you pumped up for what’s to come!

Go crazy, go wild, go out of your mind! But not too crazy that you can’t attend the rest of the festival.

0107-2018-0615183622945215842.jpeg

Make Friends with Your Neighbors and Everyone Around You

After my crew and I got settled in, pitched our tents, and relaxed for a bit, we were ready to start our long, fun day ahead of us. Remember to not be too consumed with your plans, and let the magic of Tomorrowland take you on a spontaneous ride. Make friends and talk to everybody you can, they are generally really welcoming and can surprise you. We made friends with our Belgium neighbors and hung out with them during one of the days at Tomorrowland! The campsite on the other side of us are from London and ’til this day I still keep in touch with them. Tomorrowland is a great place to make connections and start new friendships.

0107-2018-1054189070841195742.jpeg

Represent Your Country

0107-2018-0614183622338625938.jpeg

Bring your flag and rep it proudly! It’s awesome taking a look around and seeing where everyone is from. The world may seem like an enormous place but at Tomorrowland, it felt like it’s a small world, after all. (Maybe Sherman Brothers were right all along.) You also instantly click with those from the United States of America since you have a common similarity!

Although I repped being American and Californian, I have learned that people respond better to being a Californian rather than an American (I don’t blame them). They are also great conversation starters and it’s so funny to see what the world thinks of where you are from. From everyone that approached me, they refer to America as “McDonalds” and “cheeseburgers”, whereas California is known for “Los Angeles” and “Hollywood”.

Make Memories and Take Photographs

1907-2018-0526220238583698955.jpeg

Remember to take a lot of photos, after all, it is a once in a lifetime experience! You will be so glad that there are photos and memories to look back on! Remember to embrace everything around you and enjoy the moment.

Do Not Let the Weather Ruin Your Fun

 

Remember to dance in the rain! During our time at Tomorrowland, it rained on and off! The booths gave out free ponchos to protect you from the rain so you can keep on dancing!

The sun doesn’t really set in Boom, Belgium until basically 11 PM and at night it is FREEZING cold. Make sure to pack for every type of weather.

Admire the Art, Details, and Surprises

The backgrounds for each stage changes every day! It’s amazing and so beautiful the work they put into making Tomorrowland so magical. The sets that you may be looking for will not be the same the next day. It is so fun to see what surprises they bring. At first, I was so confused until I realized what was going on. The presentation and attention to detail at Tomorrowland is top notch. There are also many surprises embedded in the program and lineup, as well.

Other Miscellaneous Information

 

At the end of the night, Tomorrowland is TRASHED. But everything is lit up so magically. Remember to pick up after yourself! After all, there is just one Earth and we need to take care of it as much as we can.

Be mindful of your belongings! Do not be too carried away with your fun that you are not looking after your stuff. Even though there are good people out there, there are also bad people to balance out the good. Lock up important things (such as your passport) and other items when you don’t need it. Someone from our group had his backpack slashed at the top and bottom, losing his camera and other items.

Bring a lock if you are camping to lock up your tents because there are thieves that go around when people are at Tomorrowland to see what they can get their hands on.

Have questions about Tomorrowland and my experience? Don’t be shy! Leave them in the comments below.

 

Be a Traveling God in Athens, Greece

There is without a doubt that Athens is the historical capital of Europe. Full of history and character, you can spend countless of hours visiting the historical architecture and marveling at ancient buildings. The stories that have been told and passed on to many generations of Greek gods and goddesses, like Zeus and Aphrodite, paints the picture of the way you see Athens and all of its fascination.

From the top of Athens, Greece

When my travel partner and I landed in Athens, we took the bus to the city center. It was pretty confusing to read the bus stops since I didn’t know how to read Greek (all I knew was the Greek alphabet but that didn’t help). So, we used common sense and tried to match the words found in our Google Maps directions to our destinations on the bus. We also found other tourists to ask for help, but they were just as confused as we were.

Be sure to stay in or near the city center of Athens, if possible, as everything is nearby. After I arrived in the city center, we were a bit lost so we flagged down a taxi driver and he dropped us off in front of our hotel. Unfortunately, our hotel is now out of business so the name isn’t even worth mentioning.

Tip: Purchase your ticket for the Acropolis at the main ticket office. It allows you to visit the Acropolis (Parthenon and the Erechtheion) along with many other historical sites for €30.

Sights to Visit

Acropolis

4

When planning a trip to the capital of Greece, Athens, the Acropolis should undoubtedly be on the top of your sightseeing list, as it is the most visited attraction. If not, it is very difficult to miss when you are in the city. This must-visit ancient citadel, Acropolis, is in the middle of the city and can be seen from almost anywhere in Athens.

Bottom steps of the Acropolis

As the Acropolis sits on top of a hill, you will be able to see a piece of history from anywhere you plan to be. If you are staying in the city center, you can easily walk to the Acropolis without needing any form of transportation. Once you get to the base of the Acropolis, it will require a short hike through dirt, gravel, and some stone steps before you actually reach the top. Be sure to bring a lot of water as climbing to the summit can make you sweat, especially with the hot summer sun rays shine upon you. As soon as you reach the top of the Acropolis, the Parthenon and Erechtheion greet you along with the crowds of tourists eager to capture a picture.

If you only intend on visiting the Acropolis, there is an entrance fee of €20 and can be purchased at the main ticket office.

Parthenon

Pathenon

Within the Acropolis stands the most iconic and recognized ancient landmark of Athens, The Parthenon, also known as Athena’s temple. As you gaze at the panoramic Acropolis, you see a part of history before your eyes instead of reading about it from a book. It is truly phenomenal to be able to see the Parthenon as it sits on top of a hill from almost anywhere around the city center. The Parthenon overlooks the city from the highest point and the view from the top is absolutely breathtaking.

It is no wonder that the temple is dedicated to Athena as she is an important goddess of many things: wisdom, courage, war, inspiration, civilization… etc. Throughout Athens, you’ll be able to see how much ancient Greece adored their Greek gods and mythology.

Erechtheion

Standing on the north side of the Acropolis is the Erectrhleon, a temple dedicated to Athena and Poseidon. This temple looks miniature when it stands next to the Parthenon but compared to the Parthenon, it is still mostly intact. When studying the temple, the attribute that stands out the most is the Porch of the Caryatids, which looks like six females gracefully holding up the roof with their heads.

Temple of Olympian Zeus (Zeus’s Temple)

 

The temple of Zeus was considered one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world. It is amazing to see how tall the Greeks made the pillars that still stand today, even though the statue of Zeus is no longer there. These pillars were the largest in Greece with columns measuring roughly 17 Meters (55.77 Feet). You can imagine that when the temple was first completed it was truly massive.

Hadrian’s Arch

1

You can catch the Hadrian’s Arch when you visiting the Temple of Olympian Zeus, as it is only a few steps away. There is no admission fee that you need to pay and will not take much of your time as it is a quick stop to take a swift picture of the triumphal arch. It is nice to see one of the monuments, as it stands on the edge of the archaeological site.

Theatre of Dionysus

theatre of dionysus

On our way to the Acropolis, we stopped by the Theatre of Dionysus. Dionysus is the god of wine and theatre (among other things), so I understand why this theater is dedicated to him. As you take a look around the Theatre of Dionysus, all you see are the remains of an ancient stadium.

Odeon of Herodes Atticus

Next to the Theatre of Dionysus stands the Odeon of Herodes Atticus. Similar in the design of the Theatre of Dionysus, this theater is partially completed and still functional today. Certain times of the year, you can actually see operas and plays at this ancient theater. So be sure to go when a full cast is on stage so you can enjoy the open air theater as the people of ancient times did.

Hadrian’s Library

As we continued on our walking tour through Athens, we visited Hadrian’s Library. There wasn’t much left of Hadrian’s Library but you can picture how big it was when it was still standing. You can walk around and see the stones that once was a three-story library, housing books and a place for study.

Ancient Agora of Athens

athena agora

While on the mission to go to all of the ancient cities that were still available (to get our money’s worth), we wandered around Ancient Agora of Athens. This was a central place in ancient Greece for the gathering of people and marketplace. Currently, the area is filled with stone piles throughout the site as there wasn’t much preservation. However, in prior centuries, the Agora played a significant role in Athens as it was where the Greeks would go to socialize with others.

Temple of Hephaestus

Hephaestus

The most preserved structure remains on top of a hill near the Ancient Agora of Athens. You can see the temple and all its glory up on this hill. This temple doesn’t compare to the Parthenon in size but it shows how great the city once was. The temple rests tall and mighty and it displays how a temple in ancient Greece would look like if they were still around. It has a central area that is used for worship and is surrounded by columns throughout the temple. There is an entrance fee needed for this place but it was included in the all-day pass.

Roman Agora

The Roman Agora was a graveyard of columns. The only thing that really still stands is the Tower of the Winds. There were not many ruins and rubble around this site but it was a nice stop before heading to other areas. This location has plenty of standing columns but none were full sized, aside from the gate Athena Archegetis located at the entrance of the site.

Monastiraki

Head over to Monastiraki for Athen’s Flea Market and Vintage Market. Here you can do some shopping, whether it be for yourself or a souvenir to bring back home.

Mount Lycabettus (Λυκαβηττός)

mount

For views of the city, go to Mount Lycabettus to observe the buildings below. Also, you can watch the sunset from the top and the city lights at night.

Psyrri

Wander around Psirri in the daytime to find a colorful, vibrant neighborhood with street art everywhere. Restaurants, cafes, and bars make Psirri a lively area at night, as well. However, it should be noted that the food in Psyrri is not a good representation of authentic Greek food.

Kolonaki

Another great place to enjoy some nightlife options, frequented by locals.

Food to Eat

Fagopoti (Ταβέρνα Το Φαγοπότι)

We checked into our hotel pretty late and we were starving so we asked the front desk staff to recommend a place for us to eat nearby since we did not want to bother traveling anywhere far. We were recommended Fagopoti, which was a short walk down a dark street. There were seats inside, which felt like it was too hot, and outside on the patio in front. It felt a bit sketchy at first but I’m glad we made our way here because our dinner was pretty good. It felt like an authentic home cooked meal, and I was happy with the food I received. I got a lamb dish with tomatoes, which was recommended and very tender. My friend’s dish was a meat dish with fries. Both were good and at a fair price.

Πιτσαρία ΜΥΡΟΦΥΛΛΟ

During the start of our busy day, we needed to grab something quick to eat. We asked the hotel concierge where we could get pizza and they pointed us to this restaurant. Why we asked for pizza in Greece? You better ask my traveling partner for the answer to that question because looking back on it, that was a strange decision.

It was only a short walk from our hotel. There were no one in sight and no English menu available. However, the employees were friendly and helped us decide what to order. We waited for a while and ordered it to-go to take back to the hotel. I can’t quite remember how the pizza and pasta we ordered tasted but probably what you could imagine eating Italian food in Greece. The food was okay but nothing to write home about.

Falafellas

IMG_20140729_065351.jpg

MUST GET falafels here, they are very good! You can get a small for yourself or a large size to share, or if you are very hungry. Either way, it was very filling, crispy, and delicious. Make sure you make a stop here for a snack or for lunch!

Bairaktaris

gyro

When you visit Greece, GYROS are a MUST! But 2 Euro gyros?! Sign me up! Here you can pick up a quick gyro as you see the electric rotisserie out in front. I was too full from the previous meal that I only grabbed a Gyro Pita (beef) just to have a taste. It was pretty tasty and plus the price made it taste even better. Affordable and appetizing, Bairaktaris is recommended.

O Thanasis

Just right across the way from Bairaktaris lies O Thanasis, which I am told is the rival. Try a gyro from both Bairaktaris and O Thanasis and you determine which is the winner!

Fresko Yogurt Bar

IMG_20140729_033516.jpg

If you like Greek yogurt, try it at Fresko! Fresko is recognized to have one of the best yogurts in Athens.

I did not know what I was presuming when I tried this place. I already do not like Greek Yogurt, never have, but I thought it would be different in Greece. Wrong. I, still, am not a fan of Greek yogurt. I think it takes a type of person to enjoy it and I am not that person. If you are that person, give Fresko a try! As for me, I wasted a few dollars but I got a picture out of it!

Other Recommendations
  • Tzitzika Kai O Merminga
  • Chocolat Royal for Breakfast
  • Drink a Mythos!
  • Order a Greek Mac at McDonald’s (or step into McDonald’s to see what’s different!)

Well, that’s all I have for now. I did not spend much time as I hoped in Athens and it was my first big international trip by myself so I wasn’t very good at planning then. If you have any suggestions that I should add to my list, please let me know in the comments below.

Athens, Greece

Happy Traveling!

Drink Guinness in Dublin, Ireland

Ah, Dublin. When someone mentions Dublin, the first thoughts that come to mind are probably the color green, Guinness, St. Patrick’s Day, and Conor McGregor. I must say, as I got off the plane and stepped into Dublin, Ireland, the first thought that came to mind was, “Wow, Dublin is really green”.  It was late and there was no public transportation available from the airport to our hotel, so we took a taxi. You should note that you do not have to worry when taking a taxi. They are regulated by the government. Thus, you don’t have to worry about the taxi driving in circles or taking a different road just to drive your taxi fare up. Make sure you ask for a receipt at the end if you think there is something shady going on. Also, taxi drivers do not expect a tip but it would be nice if you round up to the nearest euro. If you would like to download the taxi app ahead of time, it’s called “Hailo”.

Getting Around

Dublin is very easy to navigate around using their transportation system. You can purchase them on the bus or get a 24-hour tourist pass called the Leap Visitor Card at the airport or the Dublin City Center. Make sure when you are at a bus stop, put your hand out to signal the bus driver to come pick you up. I made the mistake of not knowing so I ended up walking the whole way home because no bus drivers would stop for me. Sadness.

Accommodations

If I had to redo my Dublin trip, one thing I would do is book a better hotel. The hotel I booked was away from the city center and it was kinda creepy. I would shell out the extra money to stay in something more comfortable. Also, plan to book as early as possible because when I went in September, all of the hotels that were reasonably priced was all booked up.

Things to Do

dublin5

Guinness Storehouse

It’s true, Guinness does taste better in Dublin. You MUST grab a pint while you’re in Dublin. Better yet, go on a brewery tour and learn how it’s made, how it should taste, and how to pour your own Guinness at the end of the self-guided tour.

dublin11

The Guinness tour is based on how fast you want to go or how much you care about Guinness. There are about 6 floors of information and once you pour your own Guinness, you can go to the bar on the highest floor. The bar has windows surrounding it so you can look down at Dublin.

dublin

St. Patrick’s Cathedral

In Dublin, there are many beautiful places to see, such as the castles and cathedrals. The city is full of Gothic Architecture that you can marvel at. St. Patrick’s Cathedral is the largest church in Ireland, so if you were only planning on visiting one during your trip, I would suggest St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

dublin12

St. Stephen’s Green

Smack dab in the middle of the city lies a public park called St. Stephen’s Green. Here is where you can be at peace with the world around you. The green surrounds you with peace and beauty. Inside the park lies a pond in which you can sit alongside and watch the ducks swim around. Take a stroll around St. Stephen’s Green, as it is a perfect place to get away from the hustle and bustle of Dublin City.

dublin2

Phoenix Park

As you should know by now, Dublin is very green. It’s no wonder why Ireland is usually associated with the color. Phoenix Park is no different to the stereotype. However, it does sit a little ways from the city so you will need to take transportation here. Phoenix Park is a very large park which should only be visited if you have some time to spend here. There is wildlife here, deer to be exact! When I heard that you can get up close and personal with them, I knew I had to put it on my list to visit. I had the whole image in my head on how I wanted to take a picture with them but once I got there, the number of deer intimidated me so I stood and admired them from afar.

dublin16

Wander the Streets of Temple Bar

Dublin is pretty lively at night, especially around Temple Bar. Head over to Temple Bar and go bar hopping in the surrounding area. There is live music everywhere, you will never be bored. Most of the people around are actually tourists, so it’s more than likely you will be running into tourists rather than locals. The Temple Bar area does not only have bars, they also have places to eat. Head over to Oliver St. John Gogarty’s for some Fish and Chips if you are in the mood.

Don’t just wander Temple Bar during the night time, check it out during the day too! There are a lot of cute stores, you will never know what you might find. If you are able to wake up early, grab an Irish breakfast at Stage Door Cafe.

dublin10
George’s Street Arcade

Ireland’s oldest shopping center. Here you can find a lot of vintage items or just browse around for what these little shops have to offer. I went into Spindazzy Records to see if I could find some vinyl for a steal.

Dublin Castle

If you visit a cathedral during your trip, you must also visit a castle. Dublin Castle should be on the top of your list if you want to learn and see historic Dublin. It is very spacious with a lot of great photos to take.

Trinity College

dublin_trinity

One of the most mentioned places to visit in Dublin is the Trinity College, more specifically, Book of Kells. If you are a fan of Harry Potter, you will immediately recognize and remember the Book of Kells from one of the films when you see it. Although I did not have time to go through the tour, I had a great time just exploring Trinity College itself. You can simply walk into Trinity College, however, if you’d like to see the Book of Kells, it will cost you around 11 – 14 euros.

Ha’Penney Bridge

dublin14

There is an abundance of bridges in Dublin, so what makes Ha’Penney bridge so special? I don’t quite know, it’s probably the history behind this bridge. All of the travel blogs will tell you that this bridge is a must visit so I put that on my list of things to check out. However, I don’t think it’s anything special about the bridge otherwise. It isn’t worth going out of the way to look at but if you were to cross it to get to somewhere you need to be, then why not.

Other Recommendations to Visit
  • Dublin Castle
  • Kilkenny Castle
  • Blarney Castle
  • The Olympia Theatre
  • Newman University Church
  • Croke Park
  • Grafton Street – Popular with tourists and locals
    • Head over to Bewley’s Coffee for a nice brew with a view
    • If you are into a different type of brew, walk on by to Porterhouse Central for a cool vibe and entertainment along with their house brews.

Places to Eat

dublin4

The Brazen Head

Known as Ireland’s Oldest Pub, a popular place to get drinks and food.. mainly drinks. Since this was the oldest pub, that means you have to try it right?! After all, it is a part of Irish history! I had my first meal here and I still can’t decide if I enjoyed my dining experience here or not. As we walked in, we were unsure if we would need to seat ourselves or have someone would seat us. When I tried to ask someone, all they did was yell at me! So my first impression of Irish people is that they are not very friendly people. However, I’m sure they get a lot of tourists that come and go here that could do some annoying stuff but I was trying to be as courteous as possible.

dublin9

Anyway, I had my first beer in Dublin here and for the entrees, I got the chicken wings and a beef dish which was both not very memorable. However, what I should’ve ordered were the bangers and mash and the Guinness stew.

Please note: They are very impatient here and if you ask them what they would recommend, they will give you a snarky attitude and respond “everything here”.

Queen of Tarts

dublin8

If you love sweets and desserts like I do, then you have to head over to Queen of Tarts. There are several locations around the city that serve brunch food, pastries, and tea. Each cute little store only holds a few people at a time, sitting down so be prepared to either wait or take your food to-go. Everything I wanted to order, they were already sold out of. So, I got the cheesecake and it was pretty good. Come to think of it, I probably should’ve gotten a tart since their name is  Queen of Tarts. Oops. Everyone raves about the scones or the chocolate fudge cake so I would suggest getting that if it is available.

Boxty House

dublin_boxty

If you know me, then you should know that I LOVE flights or samplers. I like trying one of everything! At The Boxty House, they have a stew sampler in which you can try all of the Irish stews they have to offer. I liked the idea of it a lot and they actually give you good portions! The service that I had at The Boxty House was top notch also. It definitely made up for my bad experience in Dublin.

Murphy’s Ice Cream

Murphy's

Whatever you do, you have to make a stop at Murphy’s Ice Cream! This little ice cream store has artisan ice cream with various flavors aside from your basic strawberry, chocolate an vanilla. The lines can get a little long but it moves pretty quickly! Don’t know what you want? Ask for samples!

Brother Hubbard

dublin13

I am not a big fan of waiting in line and the line for Brother Hubbard was just too long to wait. Also, we were on a time crunch so we wouldn’t have been able to dine in even if we wanted to. Thus, we decided to order our food to-go and sit somewhere nearby to feast on our pulled pork sandwich.. and you know what? This was actually really surprisingly good, although extremely messy to eat (be sure to grab a fork). I recommend it!

dublin17

As we were leaving, we stopped by a local bar because they had a special on 3 oysters and a Guinness for 5 euros! Is this why they call it Oyster Stout?

Other Recommendations
Watering Holes (Pubs)
  • McDaids
  • O’Donoghue’s
  • Bushmills Whiskey
  • Copper Face Jack’s
  • The Church
  • Mulligan’s – Get the Oyster Stout
  • House
  • John Kavanagh – The Gravediggers
Dining
  • Breakfast & Coffee
    • Beanhive
    • The Joy of Cha
    • Third Space
    • The Lovinspoon
    • San Lorenzo’s – Get the French Toast
  • Real Meals
    • The Fumbally
    • Bunsen (Burgers)
    • Tribeca
      • Recommendation: Chicken Wings
    • The Old Storehouse Bar and Restaurant
      • Recommendation: Seafood Chowder
    • The Vintage Kitchen
      • Recommendation: White onion soup, risotto, and salmon
    • The Lotts Cafe Bar
      • Recommendation: Fish and Chips alongside a pint of Galway Hooker
    • My Meat Wagon
      • Recommendation: Mixed meat plate
    • Fade St. Social
      • Recommendation: Truffle Pasta
    • Bernard Shaw
Other mentions
  • Tipping is customary in Dublin if it is a good meal and good service, you need to tip 10-15%.
  • Do not talk about leprechauns