Blurry Bliss - Dana Chirps

How on Earth has it been so long since I posted? Well, to be honest, that’s an easy question for me to answer. Life has been busy! It’s mostly been very good things…

February 22-March 19th: Brett and I had our 3-year anniversary, his 35th birthday, and my 33rd (saaay whaaaat!?). We also celebrated my cancer-free day (19 years!).

March 8th: My parents were in my neck of the woods for a hockey tournament (which my dad’s team won!), so we got to show them our home in Newburyport during this brief but wonderful visit. It was so nice to get to have a birthday dinner with my parents.

March 24th: Brett and I got to go to one of his friends wedding in Monteray, CA. It was an Indian wedding, which is something I have ALWAYS hoped to get to experience. We wore the traditional attire, ate tons of Indian food, and loved every aspect of it. It was the most spectacular and over-the-top (in the BEST way) wedding I’ve been to. The groom went to college with Brett, so it was all of his Purdue friends. It was so fun meeting them.

March 30th: My good friend from Fort Lauderdale, Angelica, visited me! It was SO nice to see her and we had a blast catching up. I’m hoping I can convince her to come up to Newburyport in the summer months someday because she saw it when it was pretty dead. Now that it’s summer, the town is vibrant and lively.

April 6th: Brett and I got together with my Nana in early April and took her to see the musical, A Bronx Tale. I had never heard of it, but Brett and Nana had! It was a really good play. I still think I prefer the classic heavy hitters, but it was nice to change it up with something less mainstream. Honestly, I was just thrilled to spend the day with Nana.

April 12th: My family suffered an unexpected and devastating loss of my “Uncle Nick”. He was technically my dad’s cousin and was his best friend in the world. It rocked our entire family. I can’t remember which family member said it, but Uncle Nick was “the best parts of Podgurski”. It was absolutely heartbreaking. And to know how sad my dad was to lose his very best life-long friend was unbearable. There is definitely a piece missing in our family, but I know he is looking down on us - especially my cousins.

April 24th: I chopped my hair off!!!!! This is something I’ve been debating literally for YEARS. I finally pulled the trigger, and did so in a bold way - I went to a different salon with a new-to-me stylist. I’m really glad I did it. I keep going back and forth on keeping or growing it back out. I like both!

May 2nd: I took a public speaking course. Normally, I feel very confident giving presentations but I had gone through a funk where I just couldn’t deliver the way I had in the past. I knew it was all in my head and I had to do something or it was going to eat me alive. I essentially used the course as a “reset button.” The instructor essentially said that I have zero issues speaking in front of people, but that I should focus on everything that happens as I am waiting to speak. He offered realistic and helpful tips. It was a good experience for me and I left feeling like my old self again.

May 4th-5th: Brett and I took a weekend trip to Providence and we both LOVED it (we hadn’t been before). PVD is a city that has been gentrifying. There are still some seedy parts, like any city, but overall we thought it was beautiful. The food scene is unreal. It’s common for chefs to graduate from Johnston and Wales and open restaurants in town. There’s also more Italians per capita than anywhere else in the country - so the restaurants in Federal Hill (think Little Italy) are as authentic (and delicious) as they come. The art scene is thriving with RISD being right there. Scenic canals run through the city. It’s a city that is funky, weird, enthusiastic, energetic, and packs a lot of punch for a small city.

May 17th: Brett got me an ebike! I had vowed to never ride a bike again after using one as a primary mode of transportation in Bermuda. But electric bikes are FUN since they provide assistance (mine has three levels of assistance). It’s still quite a workout though! I love that we can go on rides together.

June 2nd: Brett and I took another trip to Providence. Because we had such a great time when we went in May we went into this trip with a “could we live here?” mindset. We also went to a really cool rooftop bar and restaurant called Mare that I had found on “the gram”. We loved everything about it. My favorite part (other than the food itself) was that the rooftop (and killer views) is accessible all year round, too!

Weekend of June 8th: Brett and I attended a wedding in Philly! It was for our friends Kieran and Sam. They visited us while we were living in Bermuda. We had such a blast exploring city and then celebrating their marriage. It was my first time in that city and I really wanted to hate Philly (b/c I hate the Flyers). But I seriously thought Philly (the city, not their sports) was awesome. The foooooood. The walkability was topnotch too.

The Rest of June: It was a CRAZY but AWESOME month. I was gone the whole second half of it. First, I went to South Florida for a few days where I stayed with my friend Angelica (the one who came to visit me in NBPT back in March). I worked during the day and caught up with more friends at night. Then Angelica, myself, and two other girls took a long weekend to Panama. Angelica is Panamanian and graciously offered to host us - I’ll write a separate post about that trip! But we had an incredible time! After that weekend was over, we flew back into Miami and I spent a day working there before I then flew to Denver for a work conference.

Mondays and Tuesdays: I (still) take painting class twice a week. It is the highlight of my week, every week. I love both my instructor and my classmates. They’re all so brilliantly talented. It’s like a family at this point.

Bermy: He is 85lbs and about 8 months old, ha! When Brett and I both have work trips we send him to get formal training (since we’d be boarding him anyways, might as well!). He is so much more obedient! He’s really transformed into this dog that is just fun to have around. He makes Brett and I laugh on a daily basis. We’re so lucky to have such a sweet and lovable pup.

Work: It’s going great. Although the honeymoon phase is over, I still feel like my decision to join this company was a really good one. I seriously love the team I’m on - such good people, and we each carry our weight in our respective roles - no weak links in this group. One of my teammates and I went to a conference in May. It was a blast to hang with her and be back in the multifamily scene, as it was my first industry conference since moving to Bermuda! It was like a reunion in many ways. The best speaker was the CEO of Travelocity and the best “fun” part was going to event at Tom Tom and meeting both of the Toms from Vanderpump Rules. At the end of June I had another conference which was pretty good. The highlight speaker was our CEO (it was my first time hearing her speak and she was really compelling) and Mindy Kalig. The “fun” part was that one of my vendors rented out The Filmore and had The Struts and Keith Urban perform just for us! Right now I am in busy-season with a whirlwind of quick trips, but I live for the chaos.

So there you have it! I’m alive! Ha! So many more updates and news to share, but that is all for now.

Comment

Dana Podgurski

Hi everyone! I'm Dana Podgurski! 

I'm a foot in the mouth, tongue in cheek, head in the clouds, and heart on the sleeve kind of gal. I live for new experiences, but am a total sucker for nostalgia at the same time. I'm tough as nails, but am a complete softie for all things kids and animal related. I fly by the seat of my pants, and live for adventure. But I firmly believe that adventure is a mindset that one's self determines.

For work, I am a marketer through and through. Bringing brands to life, and content marketing are passions of mine. Many would consider what I do as nerdy, but I seriously dig it. I have been doing marketing contract work for years, and appreciate the variety it brings, and the relationships I've developed with my clients. To check out my work portfolio, or if you're interested in a partnership, click here.

For fun I love to create - writing/blogging, photography, and painting are my main three mediums of doing so. Feeling good and healthy is also high on my list, as it really lends itself to making everything more enjoyable. So I maintain a very active lifestyle, eat pretty healthy, and am outdoors as much as I can be. And if my blog didn't make it abundantly clear, I absolutely LOVE to travel. I spend any extra money I have on plane tickets, and feel so fortunate to have been to several amazing destinations both domestically and internationally. There's nothing more fulfilling than coming home from a trip and adding a been-there-pin to my map.

New Year Resolutions - 2019 - Dana Chirps

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When I think of 2018, I can’t help but think of the lyrics “thank you, next” by Ariana Grande. I had a lot of major life changes this year and although many of them are exciting, there was a lottt of stress behind some of them. Not to mention there were also intense moments of fear, sadness, and loneliness this year. Here are some of the changes that occurred:

  • Declined a great opportunity to try something different by working at an agency as a writer.

  • Left the agency to go back to doing marketing for luxury real estate.

  • Bought a condo in Newburyport.

  • Moved into said condo and immediately went to work on it - painting, fixing, furnishing.

  • Bought a new car.

  • Bought a puppy.

  • Did I mention this was my most expensive year to date?

Although I’m very much #byefelecia towards 2018, I did have some incredible experiences that I am so very thankful for. The 2018 highlight reel:

  • I made some dear friends in Portsmouth through a boutique gym called Mission. I honestly don’t think I would have made it through this year without them (or that gym!). Each of us is so different from one another… in terms of personality, you really couldn’t have assembled a more wonderfully diverse group of gal pals.

  • I completed two rounds of Whole30! (And learned how to make some DELICIOUS food from doing so!).

  • I went to two weddings and had an absolute blast celebrating the marriages of such wonderful friends.

  • I created “The Lady Den” in our condo. I absolutely love this space and use it almost daily.

  • I had one of my all time favorite Christmas’ with my family. It was also extra special because Brett joined and so did my brother’s girlfriend (who I absolutely adore). My favorite part was when we all played Cards Against Humanity with my parents - it was HYSTERICAL and so much fun.

  • Brett and I crossed off a bucket list concert - Elton John!

  • I spent time with my niece, nephew, and sister. Those kids are remarkable and my sister has done such a good job raising them.

  • Brett and I took an amazing trip to Spain. We went to Tenerife and experienced the black sand beaches and the most over the top resort. Then we went to Madrid which I would consider my favorite culinary experience in Europe thanks to the jamon de iberico, octopus, coffee, and rioja! It was our first major vacation together and I am so thankful that we got to spend such quality time together.

  • When I went from the agency back to real estate, the people at the agency through me a goodbye party and that was one of the funnest nights I’ve had since moving back to the states.

  • I went to Portland, Maine, Hilton Head Island, Burlington, Vermont for the first time.

  • I went skiing for the first time! And I liked it!

Now for resolutions! Before I get to my resolutions for 2019, I wanted to review my resolutions from last year. My thoughts are in bold.

  1. Fitness - I just need to get back into my routine groove. I was doing a good job for a while, and then the whirlwind of the move and interviews and transitional craziness took over. But now that Brett and I are moved in, game on. I am also going to try some local fitness spots... cycle studios, yoga (you read that right), etc. It will be a great way to meet people. Nailed it! At least until around September. Then I fell off the workout wagon! BIG TIME.

  2. Make NH my own - Brett is from here, so it's all "his." His hometown, his family (who all live nearby), his friends, his spots, etc. My goal is to make my own friends, and find my own spots. This was a challenge. Ultimately, I learned that I needed to be closer to the city and that I really didn’t like living in Portsmouth. (It’s worth mentioning that I have a fantastic time spending the day in Portsmouth, I just didn’t like living there.) Moving to Newburyport has proven to be a positive change and it makes more sense for our jobs, as well.

  3. Diet - Clean.it.up. Whole 30, here we come. I have a lot more on this coming, so I'll keep it at that for now. Welllll I did great while on Whole30, and I still kept up with some of the healthy habits I developed. But starting this fall my diet and fitness went to complete garbage.

  4. Work - Contract work has been a blessing, but I am switching gears and looking for a marketing position within a company. I miss being a part of a team, and the level of work that can only be accomplished with the resources and manpower that stems from working for a company. Added bonus: this will also help with goal number 2. Fingers crossed my next endeavor involves a bit of traveling, too. This was also accomplished. Although I’m still in what I call the “honeymoon phase” of a new job - I am really happy so far. It’s challenging, involves travel, and it’s getting to market what I really love - luxury products.

  5. DanaChirps - Continue to write. Continue to photograph. Share more. I also feel ok about this. I took a hiatus from writing in this blog to some degree, but I was still using my creativity through photography and painting.

Ok! 2019 Resolutions:

  1. Get back into a fitness routine. As I mentioned above, I fell off the wagon around September. I don’t feel as good, and am grumpier and lumpier when I don’t workout. For Christmas, I asked Brett for an Apple Watch since having a fitness tracker is extremely motivating for me. My Apple Watch has already helped and I love using it!

  2. Diet. I’ve got to stop buying junk. If we don’t buy it, we don’t eat it. Brett and I are on Day 1 of Whole30 (more on this later) to hopefully reset our habits.

  3. Creative. I’ve picked up my brushes again and my goal is to paint regularly. I also want to keep up with photography and writing. Now that we are “settled” I finally feel like I have enough mental space where I can do these things again.

  4. Go to Boston more. Newburyport has a train that takes you right to North Station and Brett and I need to take advantage of this and get to really know our city.

  5. Go outside more. I think this will naturally resolve itself once we get Bermy (our puppy) on Saturday. Brett also got me a sleeping bag of a warm winter jacket to make this possible. Brett also got me skis, so I’ll be able to do that occasionally, too! Have I mentioned that I am beyond blessed to be with such a giving person that is willing to do anything to make me happy?

  6. Make new friends. This is my most challenging resolution. Most people my age are busy chasing their adorable babies, Newburyport is small, I have a demanding job and a hard time relating to your stereotypical New Englander. Making friends has never in my life been an issue, but here we are.

4 Comments

Dana Podgurski

Hi everyone! I'm Dana Podgurski! 

I'm a foot in the mouth, tongue in cheek, head in the clouds, and heart on the sleeve kind of gal. I live for new experiences, but am a total sucker for nostalgia at the same time. I'm tough as nails, but am a complete softie for all things kids and animal related. I fly by the seat of my pants, and live for adventure. But I firmly believe that adventure is a mindset that one's self determines.

For work, I am a marketer through and through. Bringing brands to life, and content marketing are passions of mine. Many would consider what I do as nerdy, but I seriously dig it. I have been doing marketing contract work for years, and appreciate the variety it brings, and the relationships I've developed with my clients. To check out my work portfolio, or if you're interested in a partnership, click here.

For fun I love to create - writing/blogging, photography, and painting are my main three mediums of doing so. Feeling good and healthy is also high on my list, as it really lends itself to making everything more enjoyable. So I maintain a very active lifestyle, eat pretty healthy, and am outdoors as much as I can be. And if my blog didn't make it abundantly clear, I absolutely LOVE to travel. I spend any extra money I have on plane tickets, and feel so fortunate to have been to several amazing destinations both domestically and internationally. There's nothing more fulfilling than coming home from a trip and adding a been-there-pin to my map.

Moving to another country? Here's what you need to know!

Tips for moving to another country - Dana Chirps

Tips for moving to another country - Dana Chirps

There are so.many.things to think about when you're moving to another country. Each country has their own set of rules, and way of doing things. You absolutely have to do your research. Below are some matters that you will want to have a plan for before making the jump and moving to another country. 

Health Insurance: When you travel internationally frequently, or are living internationally for a period of time you're going to want to be protected regardless of your actual location. Be sure to find a plan that suits your specific needs.

Drivers License: One thing I wish Brett and I understood better prior to coming to Bermuda was how to obtain our scooter license. In Bermuda it is a three step process, and none of the steps can happen on the same day. The steps were: physical, written exam, and then driving test. We also had to learn how to drive on the left side of the road, which took some practice. 

Medications: You may not be able to find the exact same medication in every country. This might not be a big deal for some, but for others, it could really be a serious problem. I recommend contacting your new pharmacy in advance to see what your options are, and then work with your provider in finding a solution if needed.

Work Permit: If you're planning on moving to another country and "figuring it out when you get there," you're in for a rude awakening. Bermuda is very passionate about hiring Bermudians... so when there is a new job opening on the island they have to post it for a certain amount of time to give Bermudians first dibs... if no Bermudians are qualified, only then can they make that position accessible to expats. I also wasn't allowed to volunteer because it could be taking away experience from a Bermudian. Thankfully, I went to Bermuda with (remote) work in place. 

It is tedious to do the research on these matters, but it is absolutely necessary! 

Like this article? Then check out the number one thing that living in Bermuda made me appreciate about the United States.  

Comment

Dana Podgurski

Hi everyone! I'm Dana Podgurski! 

I'm a foot in the mouth, tongue in cheek, head in the clouds, and heart on the sleeve kind of gal. I live for new experiences, but am a total sucker for nostalgia at the same time. I'm tough as nails, but am a complete softie for all things kids and animal related. I fly by the seat of my pants, and live for adventure. But I firmly believe that adventure is a mindset that one's self determines.

For work, I am a marketer through and through. Bringing brands to life, and content marketing are passions of mine. Many would consider what I do as nerdy, but I seriously dig it. I have been doing marketing contract work for years, and appreciate the variety it brings, and the relationships I've developed with my clients. To check out my work portfolio, or if you're interested in a partnership, click here.

For fun I love to create - writing/blogging, photography, and painting are my main three mediums of doing so. Feeling good and healthy is also high on my list, as it really lends itself to making everything more enjoyable. So I maintain a very active lifestyle, eat pretty healthy, and am outdoors as much as I can be. And if my blog didn't make it abundantly clear, I absolutely LOVE to travel. I spend any extra money I have on plane tickets, and feel so fortunate to have been to several amazing destinations both domestically and internationally. There's nothing more fulfilling than coming home from a trip and adding a been-there-pin to my map.

My Top Three Reasons Why I Love Bermuda - Dana Chirps

Near Fort St. Catherine - Bermuda - Dana Chirps

Near Fort St. Catherine - Bermuda - Dana Chirps

Who would have thought that a teeny tiny island in the Middle of Nowhere, Atlantic would have made such a massive impact on me. I've been trying to peg down exactly why I love Bermuda, and what I think makes it such a special place. 

Cooper's Island Nature Reserve - Bermuda - Dana Chirps

Cooper's Island Nature Reserve - Bermuda - Dana Chirps

  1. Natural Beauty. I think this one was sort of a no-brainer and expected. But I do think it is worth mentioning that I have had the privilege of visiting other gorgeous islands (St. Thomas, St. Martin, St. Croix, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, Dominican Republic), and Bermuda still wins. The whole color scheme is brighter here. Blues are bluer, pinks are pinker. Vibrant tropical flowers that nonchalantly grow everywhere. The water is so dang blue that I continuously have to convince people I'm not filtering or editing the photos I show them. And then you see the pink sand, and it's like "Ok, Bermuda. You're just showing off now." ;)
  2. The people. I simply can't get over the caliber of person I've met and become friends with here. Most of my friends in Bermuda are other expats, and there is this unspoken and deep level of empathy of knowing what it is like to be the new person in a new country. Everyone is welcoming, and invites everyone to everything. Not to mention how fun it is to meet other people who are kind of like you in the sense that they picked up and moved to another country to live on a 20 square mile island. It's an adventurous bunch to say the least!  
  3. Simplicity. So this is something that can be adopted in the states, but it is SO much harder to do so. In the states, there are so many options, all of which are convenient. We run on consumerism, and don't blink an eye at all the things we encounter each day. However, in Bermuda, Brett and I have embraced simplicity. No TV, we pedal bike (not to be confused with "bike" which means "scooter" on the island) everywhere, and mostly spend our free time taking advantage of the island life. Our main grocery store is maybe 1000 square feet, and we purchase our meat from a guy right off the boat. Although nothing is "easy" to do, and you really have to plan your day around simple activities (because you have to allocate time to pedal bike to the store, hope they have everything you need, and pedal bike home).. the simplicity of it is refreshing.

Conversely, if you want to see what living in Bermuda has made me appreciate about the United States - check out this post!

Comment

Dana Podgurski

Hi everyone! I'm Dana Podgurski! 

I'm a foot in the mouth, tongue in cheek, head in the clouds, and heart on the sleeve kind of gal. I live for new experiences, but am a total sucker for nostalgia at the same time. I'm tough as nails, but am a complete softie for all things kids and animal related. I fly by the seat of my pants, and live for adventure. But I firmly believe that adventure is a mindset that one's self determines.

For work, I am a marketer through and through. Bringing brands to life, and content marketing are passions of mine. Many would consider what I do as nerdy, but I seriously dig it. I have been doing marketing contract work for years, and appreciate the variety it brings, and the relationships I've developed with my clients. To check out my work portfolio, or if you're interested in a partnership, click here.

For fun I love to create - writing/blogging, photography, and painting are my main three mediums of doing so. Feeling good and healthy is also high on my list, as it really lends itself to making everything more enjoyable. So I maintain a very active lifestyle, eat pretty healthy, and am outdoors as much as I can be. And if my blog didn't make it abundantly clear, I absolutely LOVE to travel. I spend any extra money I have on plane tickets, and feel so fortunate to have been to several amazing destinations both domestically and internationally. There's nothing more fulfilling than coming home from a trip and adding a been-there-pin to my map.

Number One Thing that Living in Bermuda has Made Me Appreciate About The United States - Dana Chirps

I've been living in Bermuda since mid-March, and feel unbelievably blessed and privileged to get to experience something so extraordinary. It hasn't always been easy (despite what my Instagram depicts), and has been a massive adjustment coming from South Florida. But nevertheless, it's predominantly been an inspiring, thought-provoking, and delightful experience. Living on a teeny (20 square miles!) island has certainly made me acknowledge and appreciate certain things in America that I unintentionally took for granted. So I thought for this year's Independence Day, I'd share with you what I've learned to appreciate about The United States since moving to Bermuda. (Bermuda friends, there will be a post about what I love about Bermuda in comparison to the US coming up. I don't want you all to think I'm hating, I love this island. Every place has their pluses and minuses.)

The number one thing that living in Bermuda has made me appreciate about The United States is the size of the USA. I used to see it as a hinderance, and often wish states operated independently, as their own little countries - much like Europe. I am now undecided as far as that goes. But the biggest mental shift I've made since moving to BDA, is identifying the advantages of being from a massive country...

Cost of living. You can live, do, eat, and drink SO MUCH for relatively SO LITTLE in the US. Most of everything here in Bermuda is imported, so things like groceries are way more expensive. Cars, even old ones, are expensive. Renting is pricy due to the fact that the demand largely exceeds the supply. A gym membership (decent, no-frills type of gym) is about $200 per month. Thank heavens the beach is free. 

Education. Many locals here have to leave the island to get their college education. The wealthier families send their kids to boarding schools in the North East during grade school. I'm not saying the education is bad, I honestly haven't looked deeply into it. But I have noted that trend in conversations with local Bermudians and other expats.

Traveling. As Americans, we can travel into any and every state whenever we please. Each state has its own unique flair, and most people go their whole lives without seeing all 50 because the country is just so massive, and also due to time and money constraints. But the fact we have free access to every state is amazing. I think Americans (even myself at times) forget that our own country is so worthy of traveling. 

But it's not the actual size of the US that propels this, it's the amount of choices we have in America. More land, more people, more innovative and creative minds, more education, more businesses, more restaurants, more job opportunities, more everything. The fact we can choose from so many options of everything is INCREDIBLE. How blessed I was to be able to pick up and move to South Florida (for no other reason than I liked it), choose from a multitude of paths career-wise, and then successfully pursue the career of choice, eat delectable (and affordable) healthy food for lunch, go to a boutique gym with bells and whistles, and then choose from about 30 nearby places (no exaggeration) for a swanky dinner with cocktails... all while living comfortably (3 blocks from the beach), and still having enough to put aside like the responsible adult I attempt to be on occasion. Albeit unintentionally, I took this all for granted while living stateside. Obviously, I've since reflected and have found the vast variety of options in the US to be such an empowering, and invigorating thing to think about. It's truly a country where you can do anything, and how lucky I am to get to call this country home. 

Happy Independence Day! And a sincere thank you to our military (and their families) who serve our country. We would be nothing without you.

 

Comment

Dana Podgurski

Hi everyone! I'm Dana Podgurski! 

I'm a foot in the mouth, tongue in cheek, head in the clouds, and heart on the sleeve kind of gal. I live for new experiences, but am a total sucker for nostalgia at the same time. I'm tough as nails, but am a complete softie for all things kids and animal related. I fly by the seat of my pants, and live for adventure. But I firmly believe that adventure is a mindset that one's self determines.

For work, I am a marketer through and through. Bringing brands to life, and content marketing are passions of mine. Many would consider what I do as nerdy, but I seriously dig it. I have been doing marketing contract work for years, and appreciate the variety it brings, and the relationships I've developed with my clients. To check out my work portfolio, or if you're interested in a partnership, click here.

For fun I love to create - writing/blogging, photography, and painting are my main three mediums of doing so. Feeling good and healthy is also high on my list, as it really lends itself to making everything more enjoyable. So I maintain a very active lifestyle, eat pretty healthy, and am outdoors as much as I can be. And if my blog didn't make it abundantly clear, I absolutely LOVE to travel. I spend any extra money I have on plane tickets, and feel so fortunate to have been to several amazing destinations both domestically and internationally. There's nothing more fulfilling than coming home from a trip and adding a been-there-pin to my map.

Punta Cana and Melia Caribe Tropical Resort - Dana Chirps

melia caribe tropical punta cana - gorgeous beachside massage tables - dana chirps - adventure blogger

So I had a very exciting opportunity to do some event marketing in Punta Cana, which is one of the major cities in the Dominican Republic. Essentially I was hired to handle details, and make sure everyone had a good time, all while positively representing the company that hired me. What I love about working events is the hustle. Everything happens so fast which I think is fun! There's also an element of unpredictability that event marketing brings that keeps me on my toes, and enjoy immensely. 

Ready for work! - event marketing - dana chirps - adventure blogger

This booking involved a lot of firsts. It was my first out-of-country booking, the first time I've been to the Dominican, and the first time I've stayed at an all-inclusive resort. We stayed at the Melia Caribe Tropical in Punta Cana. But before I share my opinions on the overall experience, I want to make it clear that I am unbelievably thankful to have had the opportunity to travel some place new, do work I enjoy, and get paid to do it.

My thoughts are a little scattered, so I figured list format was easiest. Here's my feedback:

  • I thought the $10 (cash only) tourist fee at the airport was a weird way to welcome people to the country. It wasn't a huge deal or anything, but it just sort of felt like I was tipping a country before receiving service, and not something I've encountered before. Strategically, I wonder if it would benefit the DR more to ask for donations on the way into and out of the country instead.
  • It was nice to check into a resort and not "have" to pull out a credit card. However, even though tips were not expected or required, both myself and the group I was with quickly learned that you could get significantly better service when you tipped. This is was particularly critical when I was on the clock and needed to be at certain places at certain times. (Special kudos to Hector and Juan Pablo who busted their tails for our group!)
  • We were in the VIP section of the resort called "The Level." I thought the private check in was a great experience. They brought me to a private area and sat down with me at a table and checked me in (no line!), made sure I had a sense of where everything was, and placed a cute wooden bracelet on me to indicate that I was VIP. I thought the wooden bracelets were a nice touch - way better than those disposable wristbands! 
  • Being a Level member allowed access to Level-only restaurants, and it's own pool, which was awesome. It also offered aromatherapy and a pillow menu for your room - but the process to take advantage of these room services was unclear, even when we asked for clarification. So we unfortunately didn't get to try those out. But it sounded like a neat concept. Level members also had golf cart transportation provided, which was extremely helpful!
  • I thought that for a resort as large as Melia Tropical Caribe was, that it was refreshingly easy to find your way around. There was tons of signage. They also had people posted outside throughout the whole resort in case you needed assistance with anything.

Hmmm, wonder which way i went... - melia caribe tropical punta cana - dana chirps - adventure blogger

  • The pools were fantastic, huge, and beautiful. I found two of them, but there very well could have been more! The resort was that big.
  • The outdoor yoga area was beautiful. I didn't participate, but I saw several people taking a class. There was also a paddle board workout class that I would have loved to have tried but the weather and timing didn't work out. Although it was a little small, the gym was nice, and got the job done. I appreciated that the gym provided towels, water bottles, and fruit, too!
  • The beach was lovely. Light blue water, grainy white sand. It reminded me of Fort Lauderdale Beach, but with more sand. The water was warm, and bath-like. 
  • There were peacocks everywhere, which I lovvvvved! I wish I had gotten a good photo of one, but they were all pretty camera shy.
  • The food was just "ok." This aspect of the experience was honestly a little disappointing, but everyone had a great sense of humor about it. There were a few jokes about some of the culinary "surprises." But I will say that the ambiance and decor was pretty cool at each place I went to. My favorite was The Gabi, pictured below.
  • I liked my room a lot! My favorite parts had to be the 4 person jacuzzi that was open to the bedroom, and the outdoor seating. It was a bit damp feeling inside the room due to the insane humidity outside (it's a villa style resort, so each room opens to the outside). But that didn't really bother me.

The Dominican Republic was a place that I'm glad I got to see and experience, but I don't necessary have a strong pull to go back on my own time/dime. But if I were to go back, I'd probably want to try a different resort just so I could have something to compare this experience to. I also would try to allow for some more time to explore some areas outside of the resort. It's also worth mentioning that if you are learning Spanish, this is a wonderful place to practice speaking it. Everyone I spoke to in (minor and basic) Spanish seemed to appreciate that I tried. La práctica hace la perfección! (Practice makes perfect!)

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Dana Podgurski

Hi everyone! I'm Dana Podgurski! 

I'm a foot in the mouth, tongue in cheek, head in the clouds, and heart on the sleeve kind of gal. I live for new experiences, but am a total sucker for nostalgia at the same time. I'm tough as nails, but am a complete softie for all things kids and animal related. I fly by the seat of my pants, and live for adventure. But I firmly believe that adventure is a mindset that one's self determines.

For work, I am a marketer through and through. Bringing brands to life, and content marketing are passions of mine. Many would consider what I do as nerdy, but I seriously dig it. I have been doing marketing contract work for years, and appreciate the variety it brings, and the relationships I've developed with my clients. To check out my work portfolio, or if you're interested in a partnership, click here.

For fun I love to create - writing/blogging, photography, and painting are my main three mediums of doing so. Feeling good and healthy is also high on my list, as it really lends itself to making everything more enjoyable. So I maintain a very active lifestyle, eat pretty healthy, and am outdoors as much as I can be. And if my blog didn't make it abundantly clear, I absolutely LOVE to travel. I spend any extra money I have on plane tickets, and feel so fortunate to have been to several amazing destinations both domestically and internationally. There's nothing more fulfilling than coming home from a trip and adding a been-there-pin to my map.

Calle Ocho in Little Havana, Miami - Travel - Dana Chirps

Calle Ocho really is as vibrant as this artsy tiled wall there!

I recently had the pleasure of hosting my little brother, Moose, and his girlfriend, Hannah, here in South Florida. Originally, we had all mentally planned for some outdoor activities, but Mother Nature had other plans. So we quickly decided we would instead head down to Miami, and visit Little Havana. Little Havana is the Cuban neighborhood in Miami. The main street is called "Calle Ocho," by both Latinos and gringos. It means "8th Street." It's likely you've heard this area being referenced in one of Pitbull's songs. It is filled with cigar shops, restaurants/bars, ventanitas (coffee windows), and basically all things Cuban. 

What I love about Calle Ocho is the history. Most parts of South Florida are new (at least in comparison). New and flashy is fun, don't get me wrong - and I wear those neon colors proudly! But it's awesome to have an area in Miami where you can be surrounded by deep history and culture, which Little Havana provides. The people, the food, the music, the cigars, the decor... it really does feel like you've been transplanted someplace else, even though you're just a few miles from Brickell.

This is the Cuban tile that surrounds the bar at Ball and Chain.

In this neighborhood, you'll see tons of different variations of Cuban tile all throughout. I loved trying to spot all the variations - I find them to be beautiful. You'll also see a lot of domino references because on 8th and 15th is Domino Park. It's fun to take a glimpse at the older gentleman in these tense domino matches. 

Domino Park! Don't let the grey hair fool you - it can get pretty rowdy in there!

Little Havana is ready for the holidays!

As far as food goes, man oh man... it is SO good. Muy autentico! As my Cuban friend put it, "you really can't go wrong." We opted to go to Ball and Chain, a spot with tons of history, and known for their excellent Cuban food and live music. We conveniently walked in right as happy hour was beginning - love when that happens. 

We ordered a handful of apps which included: Cuban Spring Rolls, Queso Frito, and Mariquitas de Maduros. All three were addicting, but my favorites were the spring rolls, and the mariquitas de maduros. Moose and Hannah (and Moose's friend, Greg, who ended up joining us) all ordered drinks which they enjoyed - I only took sips because I was driving, and thank goodness for that, because they were strong! :) Also - forgive the low quality phone pics... it was monsooning so I didn't want to risk my Nikon getting drenched.

Sweet Mother of God... I think we all could have consumed our body weight in these Cuban Spring Rolls.

Mariquitas de maduros - these were thin and crispy, and sprinkled with salt. Delicious!

I normally don't talk too much about the specifics of my work on blog - but I definitely have to this time. I've been doing marketing for luxury apartments for some time, and one of the deals I've worked on this past year is a property called Intown, which is located on Calle Ocho. We paired off with a local South Florida interior design team, and I have to say - they nailed it. 

The first picture is a snapshot of the clubroom. I love the image that was blown up on the wall. Also, if you look closely, you'll spot some Cuban tile along the wall of the bar that was done so elegantly. But my favorite design element in this property had to to be the enormous light fixtures (there's two) outside of the clubroom. It's the type of fixture that really can't be done just anywhere, it has to be done in the right setting and atmosphere - but the vibe and style of it aligned so seamlessly with the brand of this property. 

Generally speaking, I think that Calle Ocho is a place that anyone coming to visit Miami should check out. It's so different than the rest of Miami, and culturally quite remarkable. 

There are three things I still would like to do in Little Havana:

  1. See a film at Tower Theater - historic theater that shows foreign, award winning, and independent films. 
  2. Attend Carnaval Miami on Calle Ocho - yearly festival.
  3. Go to Versailles.

 

 

 

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Dana Podgurski

Hi everyone! I'm Dana Podgurski! 

I'm a foot in the mouth, tongue in cheek, head in the clouds, and heart on the sleeve kind of gal. I live for new experiences, but am a total sucker for nostalgia at the same time. I'm tough as nails, but am a complete softie for all things kids and animal related. I fly by the seat of my pants, and live for adventure. But I firmly believe that adventure is a mindset that one's self determines.

For work, I am a marketer through and through. Bringing brands to life, and content marketing are passions of mine. Many would consider what I do as nerdy, but I seriously dig it. I have been doing marketing contract work for years, and appreciate the variety it brings, and the relationships I've developed with my clients. To check out my work portfolio, or if you're interested in a partnership, click here.

For fun I love to create - writing/blogging, photography, and painting are my main three mediums of doing so. Feeling good and healthy is also high on my list, as it really lends itself to making everything more enjoyable. So I maintain a very active lifestyle, eat pretty healthy, and am outdoors as much as I can be. And if my blog didn't make it abundantly clear, I absolutely LOVE to travel. I spend any extra money I have on plane tickets, and feel so fortunate to have been to several amazing destinations both domestically and internationally. There's nothing more fulfilling than coming home from a trip and adding a been-there-pin to my map.

Tips and Tricks for Traveling - During the Trip - Dana Chirps

Danube River, Budapest, Hungary

Ok, so my last post was about trips and tricks for traveling that you can do before you leave for your trip. This post lists out some handy dandy ideas that you might want to consider while you're on your trip.

Take notes of what you do. Every day I travel I jot down all the things I did and names of places - sometimes it’s handwritten, or somethings just a note on my iPhone, and most often it’s a quick recap on Facebook (also my way of telling my family I'm alive and happy). But I use these notes to refer to when I go back and blog about the experience more thoroughly. But even if you’re not into writing and blogging, it’s helpful.

Be a creature of habit. Always keep your wallet, passport, and other essentials in the same spot - you’re way less likely to lose something or leave anything behind. It’s one of those simple things that can help prevent a catastrophe.

Do the tourist attractions first thing in the morning. Less lines, less people, less unintentional (and intentional) photobombs, more fun.

Trips are not for sleeping. Get up early, and stay up as late as you can without putting yourself in jeopardy for exhaustion the next day. Coffee is your friend.

Alway bring your camera. The one time you don’t have it is the time you really wish you had brought it. Guaranteed. You only need to learn this lesson once. I learned my lesson in Amsterdam. 

Be friendly, polite, and respectful. I get that this is probably common sense for most people reading this. But it’s good to remind yourself that you are a guest of someone else’s city and country… don’t litter, embrace where you are, and try to say hello and thank you in their respective language. If you have the privilege of getting to know any locals - be good to them, buy them a drink, and show them why American’s are awesome.

Comment

Dana Podgurski

Hi everyone! I'm Dana Podgurski! 

I'm a foot in the mouth, tongue in cheek, head in the clouds, and heart on the sleeve kind of gal. I live for new experiences, but am a total sucker for nostalgia at the same time. I'm tough as nails, but am a complete softie for all things kids and animal related. I fly by the seat of my pants, and live for adventure. But I firmly believe that adventure is a mindset that one's self determines.

For work, I am a marketer through and through. Bringing brands to life, and content marketing are passions of mine. Many would consider what I do as nerdy, but I seriously dig it. I have been doing marketing contract work for years, and appreciate the variety it brings, and the relationships I've developed with my clients. To check out my work portfolio, or if you're interested in a partnership, click here.

For fun I love to create - writing/blogging, photography, and painting are my main three mediums of doing so. Feeling good and healthy is also high on my list, as it really lends itself to making everything more enjoyable. So I maintain a very active lifestyle, eat pretty healthy, and am outdoors as much as I can be. And if my blog didn't make it abundantly clear, I absolutely LOVE to travel. I spend any extra money I have on plane tickets, and feel so fortunate to have been to several amazing destinations both domestically and internationally. There's nothing more fulfilling than coming home from a trip and adding a been-there-pin to my map.

Tips and Tricks for Traveling - Before You Leave - Dana Chirps

Over the last few years I've gotten an increasing number of messages and texts from folks asking for travels tips and suggestions. I figured I'd jot down a quick list of some of my favorite travel tips that might not be as obvious. The list I compiled ended up being longer than a Friday before a three day weekend, so I'll be breaking it up in multiple blog posts. This particular post is focused on the things you can do before you leave for your trip. Most of these can apply to both national and international travel. 

Peep that rain jacket! 

Listen to your mother and pack a damn rain jacket... but let your boyfriend pick it out. Really though, having a light-weight and easy to fold up hooded rain jacket has proven to be quite handy! And thankfully, rain jackets have gotten way cuter over the years. Brett searched online for and with me, but I ended up snagging an EMS branded one at one of their stores for about a hundred bucks. I love it because it cinches at the waist instead of engulfing me in a shapeless rainproof moo-moo, annnnd it's actually plenty long in the sleeves (I'm 5'9 with out of control limbs). I'd wear it as a light jacket if South Florida were cool enough.

Have an “oh shit” list. This is your list of items that you would cause you to be in big trouble if you went a day without. Phone and charger, passport, daily medications, mascara (real talk). These go in your carry on bag or purse. Also - take photos of your IDs/passports and email them to yourself.

Take photos of the outfits you plan on wearing a head of time. This is one of my favorite maneuvers. It just makes the start to the day so much easier by minimizing hassle. It also helps prevent overpacking.

Speaking of packing… if you don’t know the roll-your-clothes method, Google it. Then do it. You're welcome. Once upon a time, I refused to pack this way for no real reason. Brett (who by the way, is a pilot so he packs a suitcase easily once per week) would tell me before every trip "try the rolling method!" I'd counter with something to the effect of  "No! That won't make a difference!" (or something equally as mature) as I would strategically be holding my phone so that he couldn't see via FaceTime that I was literally sitting on top of my suitcase or full nelson'ing myself onto it in desperation to zip it shut. Welp. I suppose this is the part where I say, whoopsies, he was right. You really can fit so much more stuff, and your clothes really don’t get any more wrinkly than they would if you packed them normally. 

But don’t pack too much! Even if you're like me, and not a huge shopper, realize that it is inevitable that you’re going to buy stuff when you travel. So save some space in your suitcase for souvenirs, and gifts. 

Bring a pharmacy… especially if you’re traveling internationally. Have a variety of medications for different types of ailments - headaches, cramps, motion sickness, sinus, etc. You don’t want to be stuck in a foreign country trying to figure that one out. 

Let’s talk footwear. Unless you have a specific event, you really only need to bring flats/boots and a pair of sneakers if you're going to sneak some workouts in. You’re probably going to be walking all day. If it helps you sleep at night, pack a pair of black peep toed heels (classic, sexy, and versatile), but you won’t need them. Also, make sure you wear proper socks for your boots - I once paid the price in the form of some brutal blisters, but luckily I had packed some bandaids in my “pharmacy”. 

Plan time for the unplanned. There will likely be places and events that require tickets being purchased well in advance - do your research. But don’t forget to budget some time for “nothing”. This is just my opinion, but I like having a mix of planned experiences and spur of the moment adventures... it helps prevent you from treating your trip like a checklist, and allows for you to do things you discover along the way.

Comment

Dana Podgurski

Hi everyone! I'm Dana Podgurski! 

I'm a foot in the mouth, tongue in cheek, head in the clouds, and heart on the sleeve kind of gal. I live for new experiences, but am a total sucker for nostalgia at the same time. I'm tough as nails, but am a complete softie for all things kids and animal related. I fly by the seat of my pants, and live for adventure. But I firmly believe that adventure is a mindset that one's self determines.

For work, I am a marketer through and through. Bringing brands to life, and content marketing are passions of mine. Many would consider what I do as nerdy, but I seriously dig it. I have been doing marketing contract work for years, and appreciate the variety it brings, and the relationships I've developed with my clients. To check out my work portfolio, or if you're interested in a partnership, click here.

For fun I love to create - writing/blogging, photography, and painting are my main three mediums of doing so. Feeling good and healthy is also high on my list, as it really lends itself to making everything more enjoyable. So I maintain a very active lifestyle, eat pretty healthy, and am outdoors as much as I can be. And if my blog didn't make it abundantly clear, I absolutely LOVE to travel. I spend any extra money I have on plane tickets, and feel so fortunate to have been to several amazing destinations both domestically and internationally. There's nothing more fulfilling than coming home from a trip and adding a been-there-pin to my map.

Bermudaful - Review - Dana Chirps

When your boyfriend asks you if you want to go to Bermuda, there is only one answer. 

Before I get to the subject of this post I feel like I need to provide some framework. Normally I don't post negative stuff on this blog (I have a private blog for that), but in an effort to be more transparent (inspired by Colleen Nichols), I feel as though I have to touch on some of the significant events of last week. It was a mentally challenging week to say the least. A beautiful girl I knew from high school committed suicide, a sister of a best friend (who I consider to be like a little sister) was informed she had to get chemo. And then getting through the dark cloud of what I call "D-Day", which is my diagnosis day, the day I was diagnosed with cancer BOTH times (weird, that it happened the same day, I know). And for shits and giggles, my ceiling in my guest bathroom was leaking profusely. But in the midst of this miserable mayhem, I was warmly invited to take a trip to the island of Bermuda with Brett (said boyfriend). Having that adventure to look forward to was seriously what got me through that week. But it really goes to show how good traveling is for the mind, soul, and heart.

I've done some traveling, and seen some beautiful places. I've been fortunate enough (as in, I worked my ass off to get to go) to visit a bunch of different islands in the Caribbean. But I have to say, Bermuda is without question the most spectacular tropical island I've been to so far in the North Atlantic. We spent a long weekend there, and it was a nonstop blast. 

There's going to be a LOT of photos in this post... but, can you blame me?

We both arrived on Friday, and within two hours of my arrival we were already on our fabulous host's (Brett's boss, Marty) boat and snorkeling. From there, it was dinner, where I was introduced to some Bermudian classics - wahoo, which is a delicious fish that doesn't really taste like fish, and a "dark and stormy" (rum and ginger beer), which was dangerously good. The night was capped off at Swizzle Inn, which is famous for, well, swizzle - a fruity rum punch. By the end of the night, I could start to feel the stress of the week melting off of me. It was magnificent. 

Saturday began with another fun boating adventure that took us to two snorkeling spots. We saw lots of fish, and captivating coral. The water was so clear. It was also slightly cooler than South Florida's water, which was refreshing! After a full day of snorkeling bliss, we primped and then went out for sushi at Beluga Sushi for dinner which was outstanding. I was feeling risky so I ordered one of the rolls that had no description, The Sammy Roll. We both thought it was seriously phenomenal. After that, we went out and about Hamilton (the downtown area) and had some drinks at a few places, as well as an indulgent rum cake. 

The next day was I think my favorite. We started the day at Elbow Beach - it was a wide beach that boasted the pink sand that I had been dying to see with my own two eyes. Its beauty literally took my breath away. The water almost erred on the side of neon. Bermuda has its very own shades of blue. Sure enough, the sand had this dazzling but subtle pinkish hue. When I picked it up with my hands, I could see the little flecks of pink. The sand is also some of the softest sand I've ever felt.  It was absolutely spectacular. 

Elbow Beach

I thought for sure Elbow Beach was the pinnacle of the beach experience in Bermuda. But then we scootered (best mode of transportation on that island, btw!) to Surf Side Beach, and kept walking until we got to Horseshoe Bay. As we walked, we passed several of these little beach alcoves that were separated by giant rocks. It was like a series of mini private(ish) beaches. Below are a few shots of different spots.

#nofilter

We eventually got to Horseshoe Bay. It took a while because I haaaad to stop and take pictures and swim at each alcove - patience points for the boyfriend. Although Horseshoe Bay is a bit touristy, it doesn't discredit the beauty of it. See for yourself...

Horseshoe Bay - love the swirls in the water. 

At Horseshoe Bay, there is this "mountain," that is really just a couple of huge rocks (where I took the photo above and below from). But people climb it and get to take in gorgeous views, snap photos, and some folks even jumped from the rock into the ocean. I would have loved to do that, but the water was a bit choppy, and I didn't have sneakers to jump with - but I suppose that's another excuse to go back! 

View of the other side from on top of "the mountain". 

The next day we decided to change things up and opted to use bikes instead of the scooter. It was a fun way to get from place to place - though, after one particularly intense "hill," I quickly learned how to use the gears! We biked through the town of St. George's and went over to Fort St. Catherine's. There, we refueled having a scrumptious outdoor lunch at The Beach House

Fish sandwich on raison bread on the left (weird sounding combo, but it's actually pretty good!). Nicoise salad on the right with huge chunks of tuna! I'll let you guess which one I ordered.

Equally as impressive as the food was the view...

Hakuna Matata...

After lunch we walked across the street to the fort itself, and decided to get tickets ($7/each) to get inside. The fort portion was cool, nothing too crazy to be totally honest - but the views... I mean... (see below).

Best looking fort I've ever seen!

After taking in the sights, we went to the beach to cool off for a bit, and then we biked back into town. We stopped for some iced coffee, popped into a few shops, and then made our way back to Marty's. However in true Dana fashion, I had to stop along the way to take photos, and to pause in general to enjoy the scenery I was surrounded by. When we got back, we enjoyed an excellent fondue dinner with Marty, and then hit the hay relatively early.

I loved all the boats and brightly colored homes in this area. 

The next day was the day I was dreading - the day I had to head back home, to reality. My flight wasn't until late afternoon, so we were able to sneak in a bike ride to couple more beaches. The spots we went to on Tuesday were almost totally empty, and simply gorgeous. I was really trying hard to slow the clock down at that point. I was relishing every single second until I had to go the airport, where I fantasized about being stuck in the Bermuda triangle. I concluded that the Bermuda Triangle theory is merely a myth that people have used to escape whatever their reality was to stay in paradise. I can't say I blame them. ;)

Ah, Bermuda, you treated me so kindly. I can't wait to go back. 

Special thank you to Marty who was our gracious host, boat captain, chef, and master storyteller. 

Other observations:

  • Bermudians are extremely friendly.
  • Make sure you use a scooter to get from place to place, and if you're up for sweating, ride bikes!
  • The sun is intense - be ready to apply SPF400 a few times per day, and drink tons of water!
  • Bring old sneakers so you can jump from "the mountain" at Horseshoe Bay. 
  • Know that the swizzle is strong! ;)
Comment

Dana Podgurski

Hi everyone! I'm Dana Podgurski! 

I'm a foot in the mouth, tongue in cheek, head in the clouds, and heart on the sleeve kind of gal. I live for new experiences, but am a total sucker for nostalgia at the same time. I'm tough as nails, but am a complete softie for all things kids and animal related. I fly by the seat of my pants, and live for adventure. But I firmly believe that adventure is a mindset that one's self determines.

For work, I am a marketer through and through. Bringing brands to life, and content marketing are passions of mine. Many would consider what I do as nerdy, but I seriously dig it. I have been doing marketing contract work for years, and appreciate the variety it brings, and the relationships I've developed with my clients. To check out my work portfolio, or if you're interested in a partnership, click here.

For fun I love to create - writing/blogging, photography, and painting are my main three mediums of doing so. Feeling good and healthy is also high on my list, as it really lends itself to making everything more enjoyable. So I maintain a very active lifestyle, eat pretty healthy, and am outdoors as much as I can be. And if my blog didn't make it abundantly clear, I absolutely LOVE to travel. I spend any extra money I have on plane tickets, and feel so fortunate to have been to several amazing destinations both domestically and internationally. There's nothing more fulfilling than coming home from a trip and adding a been-there-pin to my map.

Where Beer is Cheaper than Water - Prague - Review - Dana Chirps

The view of the city of prague

On the way to Prague, we stopped in a teeny town called Mikulov. This is another advantage of going with a tour group - I never ever would have know of the existence of this place otherwise. And even if I did, I wouldn’t have the slightest idea of how I’d figure out how to get there. It was so small, and hilly. The part where we stopped was on top of a hill with a scenic view. It felt like an alternative universe in some ways. We also grabbed a quick lunch at this cafeteria style place that was a part of a rest stop (I think?). But to call it a cafeteria really doesn’t describe it accurately. The food was incredible - tons of premade salads, fancy sandwiches, grill options, and ridiculous pastries. I loved what I ate!

So, three things come to mind when I think of Prague… beer, beer, and beer. In fact, upon arriving in Prague, our tour director explained that “beer is liquid bread”. The funny/sad thing is that I don’t drink beer. Beer doesn’t like me, I don’t like it. I did order and try beers while I was there to experience it, but I didn’t finish any. 

In the Jewish Quarter in prague

In Prague we walked around the Prague Castle and caught the changing of the guards, toured St. Vitus Cathedral, walked the Charles Bridge, saw the astronomical clock ring, and took a guided tour through the Jewish quarter. Again, history nerd here, so I found it to be very interesting, and was really moved by some of the exhibits within the Holocaust museum that we visited. I was particularly struck by the artwork that children made while they were in concentration camps. Having used art as a form of therapy myself (though what I went through pales in comparison to what they endured), I had all kinds of emotions swirling around inside. 

On a lighter note, I tried Trdelnik pastries! Though, I think the Trdelnik smelled better than it tasted, and was no match for the cakes we had in Vienna. But they were still quite yummy! For dinner the girls and I randomly found a spot where we had a carnivorous feast - so many anecdotal things occurred at that dinner. This was how I described it on my Facebook post, “Once upon a time in a lovely city named Prague... four American girls stumbled into a Czech bar featuring live country music (sung in Czech), placemats with NHLers who have been to this fine establishment, a man dressed as a knight, and a punch-dummy that guards the bathroom stating that if one is not satisfied with the service to punch him. So they ordered a meat platter with seven different types of caveman inspired meat that was then was presented ceremoniously to the girls as a turbo charged sparkler was lit up and placed in what might have been the duck. What remains of said platter after the carnivorous attack is an assortment of bones. To celebrate the victory, the cowboy rewarded the girls with a shot of God-knows-what. Needless to say that although dessert wasn't ordered, they walked out as legends.” 

The feast.

After dinner, one of the girls and I rallied and went out to a bar that a friend of mine recommended. There, I tried a cider and a dark beer. The fact that I didn’t make a face and took more than one sip of the dark beer is a pretty strong indicator that the beer is phenomenal, even if it wasn’t my preference. 

Astronomical Clock in prague

The last day in Prague, the girls and I did some shopping! We went to this amazing antique jewelry store that our tour director told us about the day before. I ended up with a bracelet from the 30’s, and two rings from the 40’s. I’m not normally a huge jewelry person, but I was that day!

Afterwards we went to a “beer bath”, which is basically a beer spa where you can soak in these huge vats of beer. It’s supposed to be good for your skin or whatever, I just thought the whole concept was ridiculous and had to do it. Right outside the baths they have beer taps for you to consume as much beer as you please while you bathe in it. It proved to be quite a relaxing experience!

Beer baths at the beer spa in prague

After the baths we went to the John Lennon Wall, it was cool to see that wall as it was in that moment, as it’s always evolving with new art being painted on it. We didn’t realize that the paint was still wet, so we ended up becoming a part of the art! But I don’t know if I would have had it any other way. After the wall, we went to this adorably charming cafe that had all of these flowers and antique trinkets hung throughout.  We had a light lunch of salad, and washed it down with elderflower lemonade (oh how I love elderflower flavored anything!). While we were eating outside it began to pour, so we went inside to wait for it to die down some. The inside of this place was tiny, maybe 3 tables. A French couple saw us walk in and welcomed us to join them at their table. It was so fun to talk with them. Another one of those moments where you just feel so connected. 

"If you lover, if you hater, if you trouble maker... we love you anyway". 

Other observations:

  • Out of the three cities, Prague had the most tourists.
  • Find the quiet side streets - they have the best bars, shops, etc. 

It was so hard to leave to head back to “reality” the next morning. It was such an incredible trip. I loved all three cities differently. But something pretty cool happened on the way back. On my flight from Amsterdam to Atlanta, I sat next to a Polish guy who was about my age. He spoke English, and we chatted a bit. I found out he was taking his first trip to America. It all came full circle in a sense - just two weeks prior to that moment I was in an airplane excited and anxious with anticipation about getting to see new cities/countries, and now I’m getting to watch someone experience the same excitement. Marek, wherever you are, I hope you are enjoying America and experiencing the beauty of my country as much as I enjoyed Europe on this trip.

Comment

Dana Podgurski

Hi everyone! I'm Dana Podgurski! 

I'm a foot in the mouth, tongue in cheek, head in the clouds, and heart on the sleeve kind of gal. I live for new experiences, but am a total sucker for nostalgia at the same time. I'm tough as nails, but am a complete softie for all things kids and animal related. I fly by the seat of my pants, and live for adventure. But I firmly believe that adventure is a mindset that one's self determines.

For work, I am a marketer through and through. Bringing brands to life, and content marketing are passions of mine. Many would consider what I do as nerdy, but I seriously dig it. I have been doing marketing contract work for years, and appreciate the variety it brings, and the relationships I've developed with my clients. To check out my work portfolio, or if you're interested in a partnership, click here.

For fun I love to create - writing/blogging, photography, and painting are my main three mediums of doing so. Feeling good and healthy is also high on my list, as it really lends itself to making everything more enjoyable. So I maintain a very active lifestyle, eat pretty healthy, and am outdoors as much as I can be. And if my blog didn't make it abundantly clear, I absolutely LOVE to travel. I spend any extra money I have on plane tickets, and feel so fortunate to have been to several amazing destinations both domestically and internationally. There's nothing more fulfilling than coming home from a trip and adding a been-there-pin to my map.

Oh, Vienna! You've Taken My Coffee Addicted Heart - Review - Dana Chirps

Schonbrunn Palace.

The thing about traveling is right when you think you have the “best moment of my life!”, something even better happens, often unexpectedly. We arrived in Vienna in the evening, and after a quick dinner the tour director (a European native and expert that basically makes sure that everyone gets to where they’re going, and provides tons of local suggestions) had mentioned there was a “free concert in the park.” I didn’t have anything else in mind for that evening, so I went with the flow expecting to be surrounded by maybe 50 other people in a normal sized park that maybe had a platform for a stage and a group of hippies playing music on it. Oh how very wrong I was. The “park” she was referencing was the gardens of Schonbrunn Palace. There were thousands and thousands of people in attendance of this televised event. The stage was professional, and classical music was being played by some of the best. It was nothing short of a privilege to get to experience such a thing. There were no fights, no sloppy drunks, no metal detectors. Just people embracing the spectacular night.

The concert.

Where the concert was the night before. (You can see the metal framing of where the stage was the night before on the right.)

One of the things I appreciated about that experience was that everyone at the concert was enjoying the moment. Sure, everyone took a couple photos, but then they (gasp) put their phones away and listened to the music that they had the opportunity to hear for free on the palace gardens. It was a good reminder for me. Although I’m not obsessed with having my phone on me at all times, I also know I could probably do a better job at putting it away. 

Garden

The next day we got to actually tour Schonbrunn Palace and its gardens - I love going on palace and castle tours. And I really do think that these are the types of tours that are so much better guided than self-guided as you learn so much more. The girls and I hit up the market for lunch after the tour and walked around until dinner time.

Vienna has some of the most interesting architecture. I loved seeing the works of Hundertwasser, an architect known for championing for greenery, "forests" on the roofs (so people can milk their goats whenever they please), and for the ability for people to reach out their windows to paint their space as they wish. The spontaneity of the colors and vegetation I found to be enchanting.

For dinner, the group and I went to this teeny town outside of Vienna and dined at this outdoor restaurant where I ended up being serenaded by men playing the accordion and guitar while singing “Strangers in the Night”. Although this was goofy in nature, I do find that people are more outwardly affectionate and romantic in Europe. I wish Americans were like that more - love is such a beautiful thing, and it should be expressed. After the dinner we drove back to Vienna and stopped at the ferris wheel that gives you the full view of the city, and the Danube River.

The girls and I started the next day back at Schonbrunn Palace and took some pictures before the crowds got there, and enjoyed walking various parts of the gardens. This place seriously has made me add “have a garden” to my bucket list. After strolling the gardens all morning, we went to a cafe called Cafe Diglas. It was at Cafe Diglas where I started having thoughts of “this is a place I could realistically live.” Vienna is known for their coffee and cakes, and Cafe Diglas showed us why. I ordered a regular coffee that was topped with whipped cream (theirs wasn’t as sweet as what we’re used to in America, and I loved it!), and a rum cake that looked like something out of Alice in Wonderland. The other girls all ordered different cakes and coffees, and so we got to try each others. I liked mine the best, but they were all phenomenal.

It was like eating and drinking art.

Fueled with caffeine and sugar, we walked to St. Stephen’s and went inside - very pretty. Then we went and saw the Crown Jewels were are held in museum within the Imperial Palace. After that we were all pretty hungry again, and we were looking for these hot dog looking things and saw a food festival and looked all around for them… and then we realized… we were at a VEGAN festival. We cracked up at our efforts, and ended up enjoying a vegan pita of sorts just because we were starving. Once we refilled our bellies, we went back to the hotel to freshen up quickly and went right back out to watch a Mozart/Strauss performance in a small, intimate room within the Imperial Palace. I took a classical music course in college, and it was one of my favorite classes, so I really enjoyed myself. 

Front row seats!

I wrapped up Vienna at the rooftop bar on the Ritz overlooking the city while sipping on delicious cocktails. Not sure if there was a better way to end my experience in Vienna.

Other observations of Vienna:

  • Public transportation was really easy
  • Tons of greenery - parks and lawns and gardens
  • Didn’t get a chance to explore it, but there seems to be some cool graffiti art happening there.
  • Take note of the architecture in Vienna - so many different styles, all amazing.
2 Comments

Dana Podgurski

Hi everyone! I'm Dana Podgurski! 

I'm a foot in the mouth, tongue in cheek, head in the clouds, and heart on the sleeve kind of gal. I live for new experiences, but am a total sucker for nostalgia at the same time. I'm tough as nails, but am a complete softie for all things kids and animal related. I fly by the seat of my pants, and live for adventure. But I firmly believe that adventure is a mindset that one's self determines.

For work, I am a marketer through and through. Bringing brands to life, and content marketing are passions of mine. Many would consider what I do as nerdy, but I seriously dig it. I have been doing marketing contract work for years, and appreciate the variety it brings, and the relationships I've developed with my clients. To check out my work portfolio, or if you're interested in a partnership, click here.

For fun I love to create - writing/blogging, photography, and painting are my main three mediums of doing so. Feeling good and healthy is also high on my list, as it really lends itself to making everything more enjoyable. So I maintain a very active lifestyle, eat pretty healthy, and am outdoors as much as I can be. And if my blog didn't make it abundantly clear, I absolutely LOVE to travel. I spend any extra money I have on plane tickets, and feel so fortunate to have been to several amazing destinations both domestically and internationally. There's nothing more fulfilling than coming home from a trip and adding a been-there-pin to my map.

Budapest Review - Dana Chirps

It’s crazy to think that I was gallivanting Europe just 2 weeks ago. I had the pleasure of visiting Budapest, Vienna, and Prague. All three cities were extremely different from one another, and I enjoyed each of them immensely. I booked this trip through the same travel group I did my last trip to Europe through, Go Ahead Tours. In a nutshell, GoAhead takes care of every logistical detail so you can just show up and focus on the fun stuff! They do offer guided tours, and excursions, but they don’t force you to do anything; I enoy that flexibility because I never feel tied to anything. This particular trip there were 4 other girls around my age who all booked this trip by themselves, too! So we formulated our own little pack, and it was a blast!

Buda on the left, Pest on the right.

The first stop was in Budapest. There is a Buda side and a Pest side (pronounced "pescht"), separated by the enchanting Danube River. One of the first places we went to was the Fisherman-Bastion, which is on the Buda side on top of a hill overlooking the city. Although it was a cloudy day, it still provided a stunning view. From there we went back to the Pest side and toured Parliament, which was maybe not the most exciting thing, but still something to appreciate.

An old cigar holder in Parliament.

From there we went to the market, which was a multilevel indoor facility with tons of restaurants, food carts, and street vendors. Budapest is known for their paprika, so I stocked up. I was always though paprika was a good spice but very subtle and often unnoticeable, but when you have REALLY good paprika… it is out of this world delicious! (Side note: if you ever see paprika Pringles, buy them, buy dozens of them!!). At the market we tried a variety of Hungarian grub. I essentially ordered the equivalent of a hot dog cone. It was a thick breaded cone filled with various sausages, sauerkraut, and sauce. One of the other girls got a different variation of what I got, and another got something called “langos”, it’s the Hungarian version of pizza - only the dough tastes more like fried dough, and the cheese wasn’t melted. It was very good, but I still prefer Jersey pie. ;) 

After the exhausting task of eating and shopping for hours, we decided to check out one of the infamous thermal baths, Szechenyi Thermal Bath. The outdoor bath was amazing, and the cool air made the hot (but not scorching) water feel that much more amazing. The architecture you’re surrounded by enhanced the ambiance, crafting the perfect “I can’t believe this is real life” moment. Inside the building (to call it a building doesn’t really do it justice… it looks like a palace), they offered several other baths to choose from. I got a little germaphobic with the indoor baths (used bandaids on the floor are never ok!), but I’m glad I gave it a try. Although I admit it was a little nerve-wracking to take a photo in my bathing suit after eating hot dog cones and langos, I’m glad I captured the moment (on Instagram). After relaxing at the baths for a bit, we stopped at the Heroes' Square… a really beautifully done monument. 

Thermal Bath

Heroes' Square

The next day I took a really intense tour that focused on the history of Budapest. If you’re into history and want to look up something disturbing, research “Bloody Thursday”. We also went all the way through a lengthy guided tour of the House of Terror, which depicts the fascist and communist regimes in 20th-century Hungary. I definitely saw and learned things I’ll never forget. I honestly didn’t know a lot about Hungarian history and politics prior to this trip, but I learned a lot. 

After that tour we walked through the city and passed by St. Stephen’s Basilica. I wish we had had time to go into it. That’s the hard about about these trips - no matter how hard you try, you can’t see everything, but at least you can plan multiple trips back! :) We stopped at a “cafe” that was located inside of a multilevel bookstore. Sound familiar? Well I assure you that this was no Barnes and Noble, in fact, I think Barnes and Noble needs to take some notes! This cafe was located at the top level of the building and was extraordinary. The artwork and molding on the ceilings were beautiful, and made the coffee and cake taste that much better.  

From the cafe we strolled over to the Dracula inspired castle, Vajdahunyad Castle, which although was built not that long ago (for European standards) in 1896, it was gorgeous. I loved the gothic features, especially the gargoyles. On the Vajdahunyad Castle grounds we also stopped by the Anonymous statue, which has an interesting background story!

After a full day of walking, the girls and I decided to go back to Szechenyi Thermal Bath and completely indulge and get not one but two massages - one foot/leg message, one full body. I actually dozed off during the foot/leg massage which is quite a feat because if you know me, you know I am a very light sleeper! 

To keep with the theme of indulgence we then took a cruise down the Danube River that night. I normally am sort of “meh” towards river cruises, and I almost didn’t do this one. But I am SO glad I did. Budapest is a city that is meant to be seen at night, with a glass of bubbly in hand. We didn’t want the night to end so we ended up at a place called Boutiq Bar, where they served delicious cocktails made with the Hungarian liquor, Unicum. I ended up buying two bottles of the plum flavored Unicum, and can’t wait to try to recreate the art I drank that evening. The conversations that flowed were a lot of fun, too - traveling, boys, politics, you name it, we girls talked about it! It is amazing to think about how each of us are so different, but have the common thread of love of travel that brought us together. So many opinions and perspectives were brought to the table; I find those connections to be both invaluable and remarkable. 

Parliament from the Danube River

Parliament from the Danube River

Other observations:

  • Hungarians are grumpy.
  • Ruins bars are like frat houses, and not the good ones. We briefly stepped into one, and quickly left. 
  • Budapest is crazy inexpensive.
  • The folks in Budapest do not dress as well as the people I’ve seen in other parts of Europe.
  • Buy as much paprika and Unicum as you can if you go. 
Comment

Dana Podgurski

Hi everyone! I'm Dana Podgurski! 

I'm a foot in the mouth, tongue in cheek, head in the clouds, and heart on the sleeve kind of gal. I live for new experiences, but am a total sucker for nostalgia at the same time. I'm tough as nails, but am a complete softie for all things kids and animal related. I fly by the seat of my pants, and live for adventure. But I firmly believe that adventure is a mindset that one's self determines.

For work, I am a marketer through and through. Bringing brands to life, and content marketing are passions of mine. Many would consider what I do as nerdy, but I seriously dig it. I have been doing marketing contract work for years, and appreciate the variety it brings, and the relationships I've developed with my clients. To check out my work portfolio, or if you're interested in a partnership, click here.

For fun I love to create - writing/blogging, photography, and painting are my main three mediums of doing so. Feeling good and healthy is also high on my list, as it really lends itself to making everything more enjoyable. So I maintain a very active lifestyle, eat pretty healthy, and am outdoors as much as I can be. And if my blog didn't make it abundantly clear, I absolutely LOVE to travel. I spend any extra money I have on plane tickets, and feel so fortunate to have been to several amazing destinations both domestically and internationally. There's nothing more fulfilling than coming home from a trip and adding a been-there-pin to my map.

New Orleans Review - Dana Chirps

So this past week I booked a very last minute weekend trip to New Orleans with some friends. It was a quick trip, but I feel like I experienced a ton, and absolutely want to go back again.

First things first. There are two things everyone should leave behind when going to New Orleans: 

  1. Heels. I love heels as much as the next girl, but just don't. You can thank me later.
  2. Your give-a-f*cks. Because everyone just does their own thing, and it's accepted...which brings me to my first observation...

The sense of individuality everyone had was truly profound. The diversity was broad - black, white, young, old, southern gentlemen and belles, vampire enthusiasts, pirates (no, really), performers, business men, musicians, etc.  Without question it is the best place I've ever been for people watching (better than South Beach). People looked at each other with curious eyes instead of judging eyes. Everyone was incredibly friendly - the city is filled with types of folks that acknowledge strangers warmly. 

Bourbon Street. You gotta do it. But before you drink yourself into oblivion, I would highly recommend eating a po boy - great pre-drinking grub! By the end of the trip I had tried an alligator po boy, shrimp po boy, crawfish po boy, and fried oyster po boy. All were delicious but I think my favorite was the alligator! With a po boy to line my stomach, I had a classic Hurricane drink at Pat O'Brien's.. which was insanely strong, and veryyyyy sweet. I could only muscle down half, ha! 

From Pat O's, my crew went to The Roosevelt for more of an upscale drinking experience. There, we all had a drink called the "Sazerac" which is considered to be the drink of New Orleans. It tasted like "an old man drink," but I'm glad I gave it a go!

The next day we went to The National WW2 Museum. Totally geeked out for hours, and would definitely love to go back again (and again). I find this to be one of the most remarkable eras of history, and enjoy seeing/doing/learning/reading anything related to it. The museum had this 4D short movie experience - it was INCREDIBLE. I also thought it was both powerful and inspiring to see WW2 vets volunteering at the museum. 

After the museum we grubbed at a hole in the wall which ended up serving us delicious jambalaya and a shrimp po boy. Then we walked around town until a bluesman lured us into a grimy bar from the street with the wailing on his guitar where we ended up sitting back and enjoying the music in for a bit. 

We really lucked out with beautiful weather. It made the next stop, Jackson Square, that much more lovely. In that area we saw more of the beautiful architecture, St. Louie's Church, artists, psychics, the Andrew Jackson monument, the Monument to the Immigrants, and the port of New Orleans.  

With the day starting to set, it was time to go to the meeting spot (at a bar of course) for The Ghost Tour. It was a walking tour that took about two hours (there was a 15 minute break or so in the middle of it). Although it was a little cheesy, there were two stories (out of the ten or so) I liked in particular. One being about this mysterious and very bloody murder that occurred in a stunning, picturesque home. The other was the last story which was more historical than it was ghostly. The guide had wrapped up her tour at The House of the Rising Sun, which was this shoddy home that used to operate as a brothel. It definitely brought the song to life.

After the tour, we decided to continue to contribute to the morbid obesity epidemic by stopping in a little cafe and devouring beignets which were so delicious I was literally smiling eating them. Who can't be happy eating grease filled dough sprinkled with a small mountain of powdered sugar? Along the way and after the cafe we popped in galleries and shops and such - a few pop art pieces caught my eye.

The last stop was at a restaurant and bar called RF's. The drinks were good, the food was even better - but the best was the live music. This woman whose stage name is Hyperphlyy seriously brought down the damn house for hours singing old and new music alongside of her band. She was busting with talent, and charisma that made every single person in that place move and sing to the music. It was such an experience. During one moment while she was belting one of my all time favorite old songs (Stand By Me), I found myself pausing and recognizing that it was a moment to take in and added that teeny sliver of time to the highlight reel of my life. I smiled.

Comment

Dana Podgurski

Hi everyone! I'm Dana Podgurski! 

I'm a foot in the mouth, tongue in cheek, head in the clouds, and heart on the sleeve kind of gal. I live for new experiences, but am a total sucker for nostalgia at the same time. I'm tough as nails, but am a complete softie for all things kids and animal related. I fly by the seat of my pants, and live for adventure. But I firmly believe that adventure is a mindset that one's self determines.

For work, I am a marketer through and through. Bringing brands to life, and content marketing are passions of mine. Many would consider what I do as nerdy, but I seriously dig it. I have been doing marketing contract work for years, and appreciate the variety it brings, and the relationships I've developed with my clients. To check out my work portfolio, or if you're interested in a partnership, click here.

For fun I love to create - writing/blogging, photography, and painting are my main three mediums of doing so. Feeling good and healthy is also high on my list, as it really lends itself to making everything more enjoyable. So I maintain a very active lifestyle, eat pretty healthy, and am outdoors as much as I can be. And if my blog didn't make it abundantly clear, I absolutely LOVE to travel. I spend any extra money I have on plane tickets, and feel so fortunate to have been to several amazing destinations both domestically and internationally. There's nothing more fulfilling than coming home from a trip and adding a been-there-pin to my map.

The Upside - Dana Chirps

We're not even 45 days in, and 2016 has been quite a whirlwind of events - some bad, some incredible. I try to not bring too much life into the negative, which is why you rarely ever see me post anything along those lines on any of my social channels. But I have my moments where I allow things that I can't control to stress me out, but I'm actively working on that. So, that being said, here's to the upside. 

Work: I started a working at a different company this fall - still doing marketing for swanky apartments. This company really enables me to be involved in so many more facets of marketing - interior design, way more hands-on experience with developing brands, going to construction sites of future properties and providing recommendations, and so much more. My most recent highlight was an unexpected surprise... we were meeting at this interior design firm's showroom, and the president of the ID firm happened to be a majorrrrr art collector and had incredible art EVERYWHERE. While I'm normally pretty composed in a work environment, I was like a kid in a candy shop that day. I should also note that while the gig is a grind, that I have a much better work/life balance. 

Friends: I don't have a ton of friends in South Florida, but I'm so grateful for the handful I have.

Family: They're awesome. My parents are so ridiculous and sappy and I love it. My brother has a "Lady Moose" in his life. And I'm SO proud of my sister, Janina, who has just started going to the gym and killing it several times per week. I'm excited for her to feel the gratification of progress, and to enjoy those bursts of endorphins.

Boyfriend: Ha! I bet you thought I had an update. No prospects at the moment. 

Health: Handled and handling some things with regards to that. This is a particular area of my life that can quickly frustrate me - but when I think about what other people are up against I'm humbled and try to be thankful for what I have. During a bout of frustration I had talked to one of my very granola best friends, Colleen, who talked about the benefits of taking a shot of apple cider vinegar daily - I've been muscling that shot of vile nastiness down every morning in an attempt to be even healthier. I also have recently identified what my sweet spot is as far as physique and weight go, and I enjoy working on that with healthy eating and working out!

Travel: I went to Key West in January and absolutely loved it. My next trip is through work, and am going to San Antonio during my bday week - it's honestly a city I'm sort of "meh" about, but I'll give it a fair shot. But most exciting is the Europe trip I've planned! More details to come, but I'm heading out to Budapest, Vienna, and Prague in late May. I'm so stoked. 


Comment

Dana Podgurski

Hi everyone! I'm Dana Podgurski! 

I'm a foot in the mouth, tongue in cheek, head in the clouds, and heart on the sleeve kind of gal. I live for new experiences, but am a total sucker for nostalgia at the same time. I'm tough as nails, but am a complete softie for all things kids and animal related. I fly by the seat of my pants, and live for adventure. But I firmly believe that adventure is a mindset that one's self determines.

For work, I am a marketer through and through. Bringing brands to life, and content marketing are passions of mine. Many would consider what I do as nerdy, but I seriously dig it. I have been doing marketing contract work for years, and appreciate the variety it brings, and the relationships I've developed with my clients. To check out my work portfolio, or if you're interested in a partnership, click here.

For fun I love to create - writing/blogging, photography, and painting are my main three mediums of doing so. Feeling good and healthy is also high on my list, as it really lends itself to making everything more enjoyable. So I maintain a very active lifestyle, eat pretty healthy, and am outdoors as much as I can be. And if my blog didn't make it abundantly clear, I absolutely LOVE to travel. I spend any extra money I have on plane tickets, and feel so fortunate to have been to several amazing destinations both domestically and internationally. There's nothing more fulfilling than coming home from a trip and adding a been-there-pin to my map.

Key West Review - Dana Chirps

This past weekend my friend Mamie (a friend from Virginia who also moved to South Florida) and I went to Key West. Neither of us had ever been before, but were just looking to take a fun weekend trip. We were amazed that although it was only a 4 hour drive, it felt like a totally different world. 

A shot I took while Mamie was driving. Some key, somewhere.

A shot I took while Mamie was driving. Some key, somewhere.

We stayed at a bed and breakfast on Duval Street. It was really cute, and the staff there couldn't have been any nicer. I also enjoyed the fact that all of the guests talked to each other, the warmness of strangers was so refreshing... even when the old man is cracking jokes at our bike skills. ;) Breakfast on the front porch was delicious and homey. 

We ended up renting bikes from a place across the street and used them to get around the whole weekend. It was so fun biking around everywhere. It really made me want to start using my bike back in Fort Lauderdale more regularly. 

Mames and I were pretty nonstop - it was awesome to have a friend to travel with that has similar travel preferences. As soon as we checked into the bed and breakfast we were out the door and biking to Fort Zachary Beach, a really beautiful beach within this teeny state park.  The water is clearer than South Florida's, and the sand is softer but with more rocks. 

Fort Zachary Beach

Fort Zachary Beach

We also went to Ernest Hemingway's home. You can either do a self-guided tour or join a group - we joined a group and I'm so glad we did because our guide was really fun and interesting. I actually found that Hemingway's wives were equally, if not more interesting than Hemingway himself. If you ever go - take note on his leading ladies!

Hemingway's Home

Hemingway's Home

As far as cuisine goes it was "a must" to try conch fritters and key lime pie while we were there. Conch fritters basically taste like a savory hush puppy - not really my thing, but was glad I tried them! We had key lime pie at Kermit's which was quite delicious, and I don't normally care for key lime pie. One day we had lunch at Caroline's - I ordered the Boston Lettuce wraps, which were awesome and surprisingly filling! Willie T's served up a great key lime mojito, and semolina gnocchi cakes that were to die for; and the atmosphere was quite vibrant with the live music. But I wouldn't recommend ordering actual dinner food there. 

I was pleasantly surprised by the number of little galleries throughout Key West. Mamie and I took a chunk of time while the weather was a little iffy and essentially gallery hopped down Duval Street. There were so many cool pieces of art, ranging from undiscovered local talent to Wyland to Rembrant to Picasso to funky antique shops filled with things you'd catch yourself saying you'd buy if you won the lottery.

One of the other fun things we did was SNUBA! Basically it's like scuba diving except your mask is attached to a long hose that is attached to a tank that floats above the water. You're also not going quite as deep (15-25 feet). But you're going deep enough to see some cool stuff! Due to the weather we ended up having to reschedule our trip from one day to another. The day we went out still wasn't the best of conditions - 62 degrees outside, and windy. When I put on the damp wetsuit I was practically convulsing because I was so cold! Luckily, as soon as I got in the water I was good to go. There wasn't a ton to see that day, and we were actually slowed down a bit due to the other couple people in our group that were struggling (I think out of nerves more than anything). But we both still had a good time and we were excited to have experienced something new - we definitely want to give it another go!

Other random Key West tidbits:

  • There are chickens roaming around everywhere, and were hilarious.
  • There are pigeons, too, and they are disgusting. 
  • There is a guy who has this frozen drink bicycle with a crazy loud sound system that blasts oldies music as he peddles up and down Duval enticing people with Fat Tuesday's drinks.
  • If you don't bike, you can rent a moped. Just don't drive.
  • People in Key West do not consider the keys to be a part of "South Florida".
  • If you don't have a slap happy and hysterical laughing episode over words like "foghorn", find a new travel buddy. ;)

 

 

 

 

 

Comment

Dana Podgurski

Hi everyone! I'm Dana Podgurski! 

I'm a foot in the mouth, tongue in cheek, head in the clouds, and heart on the sleeve kind of gal. I live for new experiences, but am a total sucker for nostalgia at the same time. I'm tough as nails, but am a complete softie for all things kids and animal related. I fly by the seat of my pants, and live for adventure. But I firmly believe that adventure is a mindset that one's self determines.

For work, I am a marketer through and through. Bringing brands to life, and content marketing are passions of mine. Many would consider what I do as nerdy, but I seriously dig it. I have been doing marketing contract work for years, and appreciate the variety it brings, and the relationships I've developed with my clients. To check out my work portfolio, or if you're interested in a partnership, click here.

For fun I love to create - writing/blogging, photography, and painting are my main three mediums of doing so. Feeling good and healthy is also high on my list, as it really lends itself to making everything more enjoyable. So I maintain a very active lifestyle, eat pretty healthy, and am outdoors as much as I can be. And if my blog didn't make it abundantly clear, I absolutely LOVE to travel. I spend any extra money I have on plane tickets, and feel so fortunate to have been to several amazing destinations both domestically and internationally. There's nothing more fulfilling than coming home from a trip and adding a been-there-pin to my map.

Amsterdam Review - Dana Chirps

I can't wait to go back. That's the first thing that comes to mind when I think about Amsterdam. It was my favorite city that I visited on my recent trip to Europe. It's not a huge city, but it offers an abundance of culture, history, art, and cuisine. The people in Amsterdam were also incredibly friendly, and I enjoyed every interaction I had with them - even when they spoke Dutch to me thinking I was a local, which I took as a big compliment. ;)

The night we arrived in Amsterdam we took a Red Light Walking Tour. This was really interesting. Prostitution is legal there, which (for me) is just such a weird concept to think about. Our guide talked about how even though it's legal over there, it's not something any parent wants for their child. For basic sex it's about 50 Euros, and the girls average about 10 clients per day. Almost all the prostitutes we walked by were surgically "enhanced" in someway. There are some prostitutes who were born as men, and then if they surgically become women, they don't tell their clients - isn't that crazy?! Anyways, while it's a lifestyle that I don't agree with (I don't even go to Hooters), it was a fascinating learning experience.

From there, a group of girls from my group and I went to this really cool speakeasy that required a password to enter. The inside had this dim lit urban-swank vibe to it. Remember those red Mickey Mouse binoculars you had as a kid with the paper disc of images you'd stick in and click through? They put their menu on one of those discs! Really clever. 

Viewing the menu at the speakeasy.

Viewing the menu at the speakeasy.

The next day we were out and about. The architecture of Amsterdam was beautiful, and the network of canals that ran through it really made you feel like you were some place special. The sidewalks were filled with people on bikes buzzing by - you had to pay attention to avoid getting run over! Every street was packed with little shops, restaurants, bars, etc. So much character radiated throughout the city, every detail seemed to have a story behind it. 

Love Love Love this city.

Love Love Love this city.

We ventured out to a cheese farm outside of the city, where they make the wooden clogs by hand (one of three places that still do this by hand). The cheese (especially the gouda) was delicious, and I bought a wooden clog there and some wooden tulips at the flea market to hang on my wall at home. The people at the farm were outgoing and wonderful.

                                               My wooden clog.

                                               My wooden clog.

During some free time I ventured over the the Van Gogh Museum. It was very impressive and I'd encourage any art enthusiast to go. It was a large museum, and it flowed really nicely.  

That evening we took a dinner cruise through the canals, it was pretty cool to see the city from that point of view. 

View from the dinner cruise.

View from the dinner cruise.

Ah, of course, the coffee shops. Marijuana is also legal there. They have these "coffee shops" which are basically places where you can buy weed and/or edibles and either smoke and/or eat them. Really chill atmosphere, with a wide variety of types of people - old and young, groups of friends, even saw a mother-daughter combo (the daughter looked to be about 20 years old). And rest assured, even if you have zero interest in viewing or participating in marijuana, Amsterdam is still a blast to visit.

                                            A sign outside of a weed shop where you could buy a variety of marijuana and/or edibles.

                                            A sign outside of a weed shop where you could buy a variety of marijuana and/or edibles.

One of the surprises of Amsterdam was going to this particular gin bar. I thought I ruined gin for myself back in college, so I was honestly not looking forward to it, but I wasn't going to be left out on something that was described so enthusiastically by our Tour Director. So a pile of us went to this teeny jam packed bar where they had a gazillion flavors of gin, and a couple of lively people behind the counter giving out samples and combos left and right (and drinking some themselves, lol). I had a butterscotch mocha sample, and it was delicious. But my favorite was the raspberry gin. Oh.My.Gosh. This stuff was incredible. I regret not buying a bottle and bringing it back because when I got home I found out that they do not ship to the US currently. But I plan to check their site sporadically, in hopes that they do sometime sooner versus later! Or if anyone reading this is going, please let me know so I can bribe you to bring me back a bottle! It's that good. :)

                                            The gin.

                                            The gin.

Two places that I didn't get to this trip but would like to next trip: Anne Frank's house, and the Rembrandt Museum.

I smile every time I think about Amsterdam. I can't wait to go back.


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Dana Podgurski

Hi everyone! I'm Dana Podgurski! 

I'm a foot in the mouth, tongue in cheek, head in the clouds, and heart on the sleeve kind of gal. I live for new experiences, but am a total sucker for nostalgia at the same time. I'm tough as nails, but am a complete softie for all things kids and animal related. I fly by the seat of my pants, and live for adventure. But I firmly believe that adventure is a mindset that one's self determines.

For work, I am a marketer through and through. Bringing brands to life, and content marketing are passions of mine. Many would consider what I do as nerdy, but I seriously dig it. I have been doing marketing contract work for years, and appreciate the variety it brings, and the relationships I've developed with my clients. To check out my work portfolio, or if you're interested in a partnership, click here.

For fun I love to create - writing/blogging, photography, and painting are my main three mediums of doing so. Feeling good and healthy is also high on my list, as it really lends itself to making everything more enjoyable. So I maintain a very active lifestyle, eat pretty healthy, and am outdoors as much as I can be. And if my blog didn't make it abundantly clear, I absolutely LOVE to travel. I spend any extra money I have on plane tickets, and feel so fortunate to have been to several amazing destinations both domestically and internationally. There's nothing more fulfilling than coming home from a trip and adding a been-there-pin to my map.

Belgium Review - Dana Chirps

Ah, Belgium, the land of carbohydrates. I was drunk on waffles the whole time I was in Belgium. I'm normally a pretty healthy eater, but dieting goes out the window in the name of traveling in my book. 

Carbs on carbs on carbs.

Carbs on carbs on carbs.

It was a nonstop eating and drinking frenzy in Brussels - Belgium waffles, Belgium chocolate, Belgium beer. Yes, I had beer - those who know me well are probably a little shocked because I hate beer and it hates me, and it's just a glorious hateful relationship. But I wasn't going to let that stop me from trying some of the best beer in the world... beer still isn't my favorite, but I'm really glad I got to experience it. Most of the locals we conversed with in Brussels were kind of grouchy - but I assume it was because they are forced to exhibit god-like willpower by restraining themselves from consuming all of the scrumptious carbs they're surrounded by day in and day out. 

Sugar coated waffle with melted nutella, strawberries, bananas, and whipped cream. 

Sugar coated waffle with melted nutella, strawberries, bananas, and whipped cream. 

One of the things I loved about Brussels that had nothing to do with the edibles/drinkables was the city square. It was beautiful. 

The Market Square in Brussels.

The Market Square in Brussels.

And of course you can't go to Brussels without seeing the little peeing boy statue. The statue is dressed in costume, so below is a snap of what we got to see. :)

Manneken Pis "Little man pee"

Manneken Pis "Little man pee"

From Brussels we went to Antwerp. I liked Antwerp, but I definitely enjoyed Brussels a bit more. Brussels felt more alive. But one of the highlights of my experience in Antwerp was when our local guide took us into the Gothic Cathedral of Our Lady and analyzed some of the paintings by Ruben. This is one of those things where if you're into art, you loved it, but if art isn't really your thing, then you were probably a little bored. I could have listened to that guy all day.

Gothic Cathedral of Our Lady 

Gothic Cathedral of Our Lady 

The Market Square was lovely, but it looked particularly awesome at night. One of the nights we had dinner at a restaurants there. It was at that place that I experienced European's enthusiasm for putting mayo on their fries! I'm generally think mayo is just ok and barely ever it eat normally, but I decided to give it a try. The mayonnaise in Europe tastes different than the Hellman's variation that we are used to. I was shocked that I didn't hate the french fry/mayo combo, and in fact kind of enjoyed it!  

The city square.

The city square.

While I was in Belgium, I did try absinthe. I honestly didn't know anything about it other than you can't get it in the US. But a group of us went out to try it together. It tasted like black licorice (one of my favorite candies), but was extremely intense and whoahhhh nelly, was it strong! I got a good buzz from a single drink, but no green fairies for this girl. Though I'm sure a few of those would make anyone lose their minds, but one was enough for me. 

Overall, Belgium was a really fun experience. I'd love to check out Ghent, and would definitely be open to going to Brussels again. 

 

 

Comment

Dana Podgurski

Hi everyone! I'm Dana Podgurski! 

I'm a foot in the mouth, tongue in cheek, head in the clouds, and heart on the sleeve kind of gal. I live for new experiences, but am a total sucker for nostalgia at the same time. I'm tough as nails, but am a complete softie for all things kids and animal related. I fly by the seat of my pants, and live for adventure. But I firmly believe that adventure is a mindset that one's self determines.

For work, I am a marketer through and through. Bringing brands to life, and content marketing are passions of mine. Many would consider what I do as nerdy, but I seriously dig it. I have been doing marketing contract work for years, and appreciate the variety it brings, and the relationships I've developed with my clients. To check out my work portfolio, or if you're interested in a partnership, click here.

For fun I love to create - writing/blogging, photography, and painting are my main three mediums of doing so. Feeling good and healthy is also high on my list, as it really lends itself to making everything more enjoyable. So I maintain a very active lifestyle, eat pretty healthy, and am outdoors as much as I can be. And if my blog didn't make it abundantly clear, I absolutely LOVE to travel. I spend any extra money I have on plane tickets, and feel so fortunate to have been to several amazing destinations both domestically and internationally. There's nothing more fulfilling than coming home from a trip and adding a been-there-pin to my map.

England Review - Dana Chirps

England was my first destination on my Euro Trip of 2015. As soon as I got to my hotel, I quickly met up with my Tour Director and got some ideas of what I could explore as he waited for the rest of the group to arrive throughout the day. I took his advice and walked around London, and then strolled through Hyde Park. Hyde Park is lovely and sort of like London's version of Central Park (but with no homeless people). It was nice to see a ton of people out enjoying it. I also went to Kensington Palace and toured it. My favorite one section of the palace was the area that featured dresses of the royal family over the decades.  That night a few of us went to a speakeasy called Bart's - it was inside of a hotel and then through a janky looking door. It was a teeny sized bar playing modernized music from decades ago. There I interacted with some locals who were really fun to converse with (ah, those accents :)). It was a blast. 

The next day we went to St. Paul's Cathedral. The bells rang with great enthusiasm outside the church which I loved. The inside was beautiful, and it was easy to see why Princess Diana and Prince Charles were married there. From there we went by some London staples like Westminster Abbey (where royal coronations, weddings, and funerals often take place at), Big Ben (clock tower), the London eye (ferris wheel thing), and the Tower Bridge. Then we stopped at Buckingham Palace which was pretty magnificent - although apparently Queen Elizabeth prefers Windsor Castle. After seeing the must-sees, a small group of us actually went out to Windsor Castle. I am so so so glad I went. Windsor Castle is HUUUUUGE, and the tour through it was just amazing. There was so much history, and so many stories. We lucked out because parts of the castle were open that aren't normally because of the Queen's anniversary. I'd recommend anyone going to England to go there. The little town of Windsor is pretty cute, as well. It has a bunch of shops, and restaurants. I of course took it upon myself to get some Wine Gums while I was there (a British gummy candy), and got a few folks hooked on them, too. 

Tower Bridge in the distance.

Tower Bridge in the distance.

The day after that I went with some folks over to Stonehenge! If you have an appreciation for history and mystery - I'd definitely recommend, otherwise you might just view this as a bunch of big rocks. But I thought it was really cool to see something SO old. Right around the corner from Stonehenge is a town called Salisbury. There, a couple girls and I went to a cafe and had English tea which consists of tea, mini sandwiches, teeny desserts, and little biscuits, and CLOTTED CREAM. OMG. Clotted cream is like a sweet buttery spread - it's so good. I'm almost glad it's not in the U.S. because I don't think I'd have the willpower to not consume barrels of the stuff. After we fueled up, we went to the Salisbury Cathedral which was this beautiful gothic cathedral that happens to hold one of the four original copies of the Magna Carta. It was really cool to see this historic document first hand, and mind-blowing to think of how it influenced our own U.S. Constitution. 

Salisbury Cathedral

Salisbury Cathedral

Later that evening while back in London I tried the famous "fish and chips" meal at a pub. I don't normally care for fried foods, but I actually enjoyed the fish! The "chips" (which are American french fries) were normal. But I also got a side of "mushy peas" which apparently is a thing there. It basically tastes like someone chewed your peas for you and then spit them back out. I love peas, but definitely prefer the unmushed variation! ;) One thing I thought was interesting was that this meal was served with a side of tartar sauce (normal), and a side of this delicious curry sauce. In fact, there were a TON of Indian restaurants in London. I wasn't expecting that. After dinner a bunch of the group got together and went into town and saw "Billy Elliot" at the Victoria Palace Theatre. It's a very British show, and you could really get a feel for that punchy British humor in it. I enjoyed it, and thought the style of the humor was hilarious, but the story itself was a bit lacking, as was the music that accompanied it which shocked me because I love Elton John! But I will say the dancing was extremely impressive, and the acting itself was fantastic, so I'm still glad I went.

Random Observations:

  • There are no street signs in London! And if there are, they're hidden.
  • The guys in London are way more refined than American guys, and they dress exponentially better. Girls in London are pleasant but way more reserved. 
  • There was basically a destructive fire near or at every important thing in England at one point or another. 
  • Everyone smokes.

Overall, England was one of my favorite places. It's such a neat blend of old and new. And there is something for everyone there. I can't wait to go back. 

2 Comments

Dana Podgurski

Hi everyone! I'm Dana Podgurski! 

I'm a foot in the mouth, tongue in cheek, head in the clouds, and heart on the sleeve kind of gal. I live for new experiences, but am a total sucker for nostalgia at the same time. I'm tough as nails, but am a complete softie for all things kids and animal related. I fly by the seat of my pants, and live for adventure. But I firmly believe that adventure is a mindset that one's self determines.

For work, I am a marketer through and through. Bringing brands to life, and content marketing are passions of mine. Many would consider what I do as nerdy, but I seriously dig it. I have been doing marketing contract work for years, and appreciate the variety it brings, and the relationships I've developed with my clients. To check out my work portfolio, or if you're interested in a partnership, click here.

For fun I love to create - writing/blogging, photography, and painting are my main three mediums of doing so. Feeling good and healthy is also high on my list, as it really lends itself to making everything more enjoyable. So I maintain a very active lifestyle, eat pretty healthy, and am outdoors as much as I can be. And if my blog didn't make it abundantly clear, I absolutely LOVE to travel. I spend any extra money I have on plane tickets, and feel so fortunate to have been to several amazing destinations both domestically and internationally. There's nothing more fulfilling than coming home from a trip and adding a been-there-pin to my map.

One Lady Wolfpack - Dana Chirps

I got back from my trip to Europe a couple weeks ago. I'm still in awe that I went to all the incredible places I did. I'm still digesting the experience, and the memories. I'm already looking forward to the next Euro Adventure. 

On this this trip I visited: London, Salisbury, Brussels, Antwerp, Amsterdam, Bremen, Hamburg, Lubeck, and Copenhagen. 5 countries, 9 cities, in 12 days. I'll do a recap on the actual locations I went to soon.

I went on this trip alone, but through a tour group called Go Ahead Tours. I was naturally a little nervous about going by myself (this was my first trip to Europe) - mostly because I was scared I'd get lost in some random alley, or stuck with a miserable group of people. But neither happened - not even close. My group had a wide range of people: a few older couples, a family with two college kids, and a big ol' pack of solo travelers like myself. All of the solos formulated a group and we had a complete blast together. While you never know who you're going to end up traveling with on these groups, you have to remember that you have something in common with all of these strangers from the get-go, as everyone likes traveling and is looking to have an amazing time. 

I'm thrilled that I took this trip through GoAhead. Here are some reasons why:

  • I didn't have to figure out any logistics of getting from point A to point B. They arranged my flights, hotels, buses, cabs, ferries, some meals, excursions, etc. I really just had to show up.
  • Their customer service was exceptional, and every person I spoke to from GoAhead was clearly passionate about what they do, and were determined to help me have the best trip ever. 
  • Met a bunch of awesome new people going through a group. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the whole crew.
  • There was always someone who wanted to do what you wanted to do - you were only alone if you wanted to be.
  • The itinerary that was put together was phenomenal. But it also included enough free time to do other things, and you were never handcuffed to anything in case you wanted to deviate from the path.
  • There were a lot of extremely cultured people in my group, especially our Tour Director. He was with us on our trip from start to finish. He spoke 5 languages fluently, and literally knew EVERY nook and cranny in Europe (and beyond). I got a plethora of ideas of things to do/see that I wouldn't have otherwise known about. 

Simply put - I don't think I could have pulled off a trip as extensive as this on my own. Not on my first trip to Europe at least. Moving forward, I think I would use GoAhead if the trip leans on the extensive side (several locations), or if it were in a country where barely anybody spoke English. But I learned the ropes well enough to feel comfortable to travel to most places in Europe on my own in the future if I want to... but I must say, I loved not dealing with logistics, and really had such a positive experience in the group setting. 

A handful random observations I made:

  • Overall, Europeans conducted themselves with better manners. 
  • You pay for water, and it comes in a small glass bottle (think old school Coke sized). 
  • Sometimes you pay to use the restroom. But when I had to do this, the restrooms were magnificently sanitary (even at gas stations!). Worth it. 
  • Barely any fat people.
  • Barely any African Americans.
  • Europeans dress far more practically - I saw only ONE pair of heels. 
  • Americans are more courteous as far as cigarette smoking goes, and will generally try to at least blow their smoke away from people. Europeans just smoke wherever. 
  • Everybody thought I was Dutch. 
  • The Dutch and the Danes are so much taller - loved this!
  • Euros are way more energy conscious. 

I'm Glad That...

  • I bought and brought my beast of a camera/lens.
  • Took pictures of the outfits I was going to wear throughout the trip.
  • My mom made me bring a rain jacket.
  • My mom made me bring a water bottle with a built in filter.
  • I didn't buy travelers insurance. 
  • I brought a backpack.
  • I left my laptop (i.e. work) at home. SO SO glad. 

But most of all, I'm glad that I didn't let the slightly daunting idea of traveling alone to foreign countries stop me from going. 


2 Comments

Dana Podgurski

Hi everyone! I'm Dana Podgurski! 

I'm a foot in the mouth, tongue in cheek, head in the clouds, and heart on the sleeve kind of gal. I live for new experiences, but am a total sucker for nostalgia at the same time. I'm tough as nails, but am a complete softie for all things kids and animal related. I fly by the seat of my pants, and live for adventure. But I firmly believe that adventure is a mindset that one's self determines.

For work, I am a marketer through and through. Bringing brands to life, and content marketing are passions of mine. Many would consider what I do as nerdy, but I seriously dig it. I have been doing marketing contract work for years, and appreciate the variety it brings, and the relationships I've developed with my clients. To check out my work portfolio, or if you're interested in a partnership, click here.

For fun I love to create - writing/blogging, photography, and painting are my main three mediums of doing so. Feeling good and healthy is also high on my list, as it really lends itself to making everything more enjoyable. So I maintain a very active lifestyle, eat pretty healthy, and am outdoors as much as I can be. And if my blog didn't make it abundantly clear, I absolutely LOVE to travel. I spend any extra money I have on plane tickets, and feel so fortunate to have been to several amazing destinations both domestically and internationally. There's nothing more fulfilling than coming home from a trip and adding a been-there-pin to my map.