It’s All Greek to Me

Yasou, everyone!!!

As many of y’all know, my family and I just got back from a wonderful vacation in Greece and Turkey. Greece has been thrown around numerous times in our “where are we going next?” family talks, so this year we finally decided it was time to make this suggestion a reality. 

Guys… wow! That’s all I can say about this trip! Everything you’ve seen on postcards, social media or websites doesn’t do this country justice. I thought I had a decent idea of what this trip would be like, and I figured I knew what everything would look like, but I was totally wrong. Like even Mamma Mia! can’t do it justice. (Also, fun fact: Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again was filmed in Croatia to imitate Greece. WE’VE BEEN LIED TO!!!)

This trip far exceeded my expectations, and my family all agrees that it ranks extremely high on our “favorite trips” list. 

Usually, when we go on vacation it’s just my family; however, we will have extended family tag along, occasionally. This year, I somehow convinced my college roommate Sarah Blazejewski (Blaze for short) that going on an Engles family vacation was something she needed to experience at least once in her life. For people who know my family, you know we call our trips a “cultural learning experience” because we do little-to-no relaxing on them. In fact, we usually ended up getting to our destination super early in the morning and then hit the ground running. Blaze sent me a text a couple days before we left asking if she needed to pack “real/sturdy” tennis shoes. It was in that moment I was scared she might never want to vacation with my family again, but she took this vacation like a champ and became an honorary Engles member by the end the trip. 

For the rest of this blog, I will lay out how the trip’s details and include locations and sights for each day. For the first three days, we spent time in the capital, Athens, before setting sail on a Windstar cruise around the Greek Isles. 

Day One: Arrival in Athens and the Acropolis 

The first day is always a long and exhausting day on our trips. In the past we’ve arrived at our destinations, like Paris and Sydney, at the crack of dawn—like I’m talking 6 AM, folks. Luckily, our flight was scheduled to get into Athens sometime around noon and we had a little bit of time to get to the hotel and freshen up before our afternoon walking tour. 

That afternoon our 4-HOUR!!! (sounds daunting, I know) walking tour began. Feeling pretty decent, we met out sweet guide Stella and began our Athenian adventure.  Stella took us to the heart of Athens where the Old Royal Palace sits. This palace was the first royal palace of modern Greece and has housed the Hellenic Parliament ever since. It sits in the heart of Athens, facing onto Syntagma Square. Very similar to Buckingham Palace, the Old Royal Palace have guards that stand out in front. On the hour, every hour, they have the changing of the guards—which is fascinating to watch. They have an interesting way of stepping into their spots. If you every get a chance to see it, I highly recommend going. We decided to come back the next day to watch it since we had arrived just past the hour. 

Sweet Stella then led us down the winding roads of Athens to start making our way to the Acropolis. The entire walk you see these amazing architectural buildings and old ruins that make you feel as if you were in Ancient Greece. It was like turning back time rounding every street corner. There is no doubt the Acropolis was going to be the highlight of the day, so as we kept getting closer the pep in our step continued to grow.  

We rounded this street corner, and I can remember looking up at the Acropolis in pure amazement. It is so breathtaking to see in real life. We got out tickets and started making the climb to the top where the Parthenon sits. The Parthenon was built for the goddess Athena, whom the Athenians consider their patron. If Greek mythology excites you even just a little, this place will blow you away. The magnitude of this building just captures your attention as you walk through the gates. If you find yourself in Athens, the Parthenon is an absolute must. I don’t even care if you don’t like Greek mythology. You HAVE to go. 

Parthenon

After we finished walking around the Acropolis, we made our way back down to say goodbye to Stella for the evening. We decided that the area we were in was a good place to try and grab a bite to eat before we headed back to get some sleep. Shout out to my mother on this one. She caved at the first person who told us to eat at their restaurant, but it was probably one of the best meals the entire trip. We all had a variation of the gyro, with tzatziki sauce of course, and it was so delicious. After we ate, we were all pretty exhausted from the long day of traveling and walking, so we headed back to get some rest. 

Day Two: Delphi 

Delphi was a stop my father really wanted to see. In ancient times, Delphi was famous as a rich sanctuary and the seat of the oracle Pythia. The ancient Greeks consulted Pythia bout important decision, and they considered Delphi to be the center of the world. 

Delphi is about 2.5 to 3 hours outside of Athens, so our group hopped in a van and set out for a full, fun-filled day. Once again, our amazing guide Stella guided us through these amazing ruins. One thing about Stella is that she loves her some shade, and we were really thankful she was always taking care of us in the hot Grecian temperatures. After she finished explaining to us what all the ruins meant, we had a little bit of free time to go and explore. 

Delphi

At the top of Delphi sits the track stadium. It’s a pretty decent climb to the stop, but if you know anything about my father, we were going to make the climb. It wasn’t even a choice to sit it out. So, we all huffed and puffed our way to the top, but seeing how track stadiums were built then was really interesting to see. It made the workout to the top worth it. 

Lunch Views

After exploring Delphi, we made our way to the village to eat Greek cuisine at a local restaurant. Here, several of us explored many traditional foods such as moussaka, wine leaves and lamb. We enjoyed our food and the view of the villages down below before loading back up and heading to Athens. We all fell asleep on the road trip back, haha! 

Day Three: Panathenaic Stadium and Temple of Zeus 

This was our third and final day in Athens before we were to depart on our cruise. We all decided to sleep-in this day because we had all been going nonstop since arriving in Athens. 

After a late breakfast, we set out to go see the Panathenaic Stadium. This stadium is so breathtaking and amazing. Made entirely of marble, it hosted the opening and closing ceremonies of the first modern Olympics in 1896 and was the venue for 4 of the 9 contested sports. You also get a chance to stand on the Olympic podium and run the track. 

After taking an audio tour, we made our way to the Temple of Zeus and Hadrian’s Temple. We decided we could see all we wanted to see without paying money to go inside, so we just looked between the fences iron bars. After we saw all we wanted to see, we decided just to walk up and down some streets with local vendor, and a couple of paintings in hand later, we headed back to grab drinks on our hotels’ rooftop bar. 

Day Four: All Aboard the Windstar

This day wasn’t really anything too exciting aside from boarding our cruise. We boarded around the early afternoon and hung out on the upper deck why we sailed out to sea. We met most of the wonderful staff on this day and got accustomed to where everything on the boat was located. 

Day Five: Nafplio 

Our first destination on the cruise was the quaint little town of Nafplio. Nafplio, or Nafplion to the locals, is a seaport town in the Peloponnese that has expanded up the hillsides near the north end of the Argolic Gulf. 

Us and a couple other couples on the boat set out for a half-day of sight-seeing the ruins of the town and Palamidi Castle. Palamidi Castle consists of 999 steps from the town below to the top; thankfully, our tour guide dropped us off at the stop so we could walk down, but we all know my father would have made us climb those steps to the top if our guide hadn’t have dropped us off at the top first.  

After walking around the castle, our crew made the hike down to the town to get something to eat before heading back to the boat. Nafplio is such a pretty, quiet town, and I highly suggest adding it to your own Greece itinerary. 

Day Six: Mykonos 

Now this is the day we had all been waiting for… MYKONOS!!! Mykonos is one of the most popular Cyclade Islands in the Aegean Sea and is most known for its windmills, white buildings, blue doors and stone paths. It lived up to all the hype. 

We did a tour called the Five Senses of Mykonos—which featured a walking tour of the town, a drive around the island, wine tasting and then live Greek music and tasting of the infamous Ouzo. 

First off, Ouzo is disgusting. Unless you like licorice and don’t mind drinking it, you probably won’t like it. With a 96% alcohol content, Ouzo is sure to knock you off your seat. Only a few people could handle the flavor going down, including Blaze and my mother. The rest of us decided to hold off on Greece’s national drink. 

(I’m skipping ahead here, but Mykonos is far better than Santorini, if you had to pick between the two. It’s less crowded making it easier for visitors to enjoy.) 

Day Seven: A Day in Turkey 

This day was one of my absolute favorites, if not my favorite.

 Our ship pulled into the Turkish port town Kusadasi. We had a full itinerary of exploring Ephesus with a carpet weaving tour to end the day. 

We started the day by exploring Ephesus. Ephesus was an ancient Greek city on the coast of Ionia. With the library being the focal point of the city, every direction you look there are these amazing ancient ruins. We had a wonderful guide named Eyeshin (I’m only spelling it like this because she told me that’s how you pronounce her name… eye-shin, so here we are spelling it this way). 

After exploring the ruins, we headed to a small village where we had a traditional Turkish meal at a bed and breakfast. This was by far the best meal I had this far on the trip. It was comprised on Turkish meatballs, chicken, rice and other vegetables. Literally, it was the best meal I’d had in a longgggg time. 

After everyone finished eating, we walked around the BnB for a hot second before making our way back to the port for a carpet making demonstration. There are only a couple of carpet making places that Windstar approves of and this was one of them. 

We got a demonstration of how a traditional Turkish rug is made. You’d be surprised at how long it takes to hand weave one of these things. The weaver has to stop every hour and take a couple hours off, so she doesn’t go blind. They treated us to some Turkish coffee and tea, and then we had some time to shop around for a rug if you wanted to purchase one.  After several hours of looking and negotiating, we walked away with our very own Turkish rug. We then headed back to the ship to shower and get ready for our private dinner at Ephesus. 

Everyone on the Windstar was treated to a private dinner at Ephesus this night. Ephesus shut down and specifically held a private dinner for the members onboard. It was so pretty walking up while the sun was setting. We were greeted by a glass of wine and violins playing while we walked to our table/took in the scenery. This was such an incredible experience. Just sitting in front of the library, having a nice elegant dinner couldn’t have been beat. The food was delicious, and this was one of our favorite highlights of the trip. 

After dinner we all got on the buses and headed back to port. In the wise words of our bus driver, “Tell your friends to come to Turkey. We don’t eat people, we eat Turkey.” 

Day Eight: Patmos

This was our first day that we didn’t have any on-land excursions planned. After going for however many days nonstop, we all thought it was a good idea to sleep in a little later than normal.  After getting a good night’s rest, we decided to head to the island and explore the town a little bit. 

We walked around the town, bought a couple of gifts and headed back to the boat for lunch and swimming. When the boat anchors, they open a swimming and watersports platform on the back of the boat. We enjoyed the crisp Aegean Sea water and several of us took turns paddle boarding and kayaking. We really enjoyed getting a chance to swim. The Aegean Sea is enriched with more minerals and has a higher salt concentration, so you float easier!!!

Day Nine: Santorini 

Ahhh here we are… Santorini. THE most popular Greek island. The buildup for Santorini was real. Everyone knows this island for the beautiful village Oia. Oia is a coastal town on the northwestern tip of Santorini. The town has white houses carved into the rugged clifftops and overlooks a vast caldera filled with water. Known for the infamous blue dome churches, Oia is the islands biggest attraction. 

If you know my family, you know we are all about the ocean. We love any water activity, and that day, we had a catamaran cruise of the caldera. We were all super pumped to get our bathing suits on and gets some vitamin SEA. It ended up being a small group of people going on this cruise, and we all had the best time. We swam in three different spots—one which consisted of sulfur water. We enjoyed a BBQ feast (but not our traditional American BBQ–to them it just means food cooked on the grill) and our bellies were super happy.  By the end of the cruise, we were all wanting to spend extra hours out in the Caldera. 

After we arrived back on land, we decided to take the gondola to the top of the island. Here we were greeted by large crowds and narrow roads. We cruised the narrow streets and explored some shops before stopping to get some gelato. We enjoyed the breathtaking scenery while eating before heading back to the boat. 

Our dinner this night was a HUGE grill out on the back deck of the boat. They had everything you could have imagined from shrimp, pork, lobster and the list goes on and on. It was so good that I didn’t have enough room on my plate to get everything that I wanted. I made several trips back and forth to the buffet. Hands down one of the best meals I’ve ever had!!! 

Day Ten: Monemvasia 

We anchored in Monemvasia on the tenth day, and our group decided we would just go on land for an hour then make our way back to the boat for some swimming off the boat. We ended up taking a cab to the “old town” and we were blown away by the beauty. 

The town had that “Mediterranean look” to it. I felt like I was in Spain or Italy. It didn’t resemble anywhere that we had been yet, and it was almost refreshing to see something different. We spent wayyyy more time on land than we had expected. The shops were so cute and had local Greek gifts to take home. After several spices, olive oil bottles and Turkish towels later, we made our way back to the drop-off location. Brooke, Blaze and I got left behind by the rest of the crew, so we had to wait a little longer at the docking station to catch a dingy back to the ship. We were mad that we got left behind, but we ended up seeing sea turtles, which quickly improved our mood. 

We made it back to the boat just in time for a last-minute swim. We, especially Blaze, couldn’t get over how blue the water was. There isn’t anything like it. I don’t care where you’ve been, nothing compares J. We finished the night with some good food in the dining room and some chatting with one of the workers in the bridge. I think the poor guy was sick and tired of us constantly coming into the bridge to ask questions and look around, so shout out to him for putting up with this chaotic bunch!!!

Day Eleven: Homeward bound 

Today’s the day we had all been dreading… leaving this wonderful place. None of us wanted to get off the boat. In fact, I think we all would’ve stayed on for another around if they would have let us. Even though it was hard to say goodbye, it was time to get back to the real world. Can we all just quit our jobs now and go back?? 

As always, if you have any questions about this trip or other trips we’ve been on feel free to reach out. We love sharing our experiences with other people!! 

Trip Details: 

Travel Agent and Company: Amy Daniel with Alabama World Travel 

Athens Hotel: New Hotel 

Cruise: Windstar Treasures of the Greek Isles 

Flight: Atlanta to JFK to Athens 

The Land Down Under

G’Day Mates!!

As many of y’all know, my family and I returned from our trip to the “land down under” (aka Australia) roughly 2.5 weeks ago. We are having many friends and family ask what all we did when while on this trip, so I’ve decided to pick my travel blog back up and inform you about one of the most amazing trips we have ever taken.

Now, I am no expert when it comes to travel blogging, so I am just going to type what I feel about what needs to be said about this trip. It’s so hard to express an experience through words, but I’ll do my best to convey how amazing our time was. I hope this gives you a glimpse into our roughly 3-week long adventure.

Unfortunately, WordPress doesn’t allow uploading of large files, so many of my “great” pictures couldn’t be published. Feel free to go look at my photo album on Facebook if you want to see some cool photos from the trip!

 

Here we go!

Ten flights, 23,817 miles, three countries (our layover in Auckland, New Zealand and stop in Maui counts right??) is all we could fit into our 17-day extravaganza. Y’all let me just make a note, to circle around Earth once is 24,000 miles… WE JUST ABOUT TRAVELED THE DISTANCE IT TAKES TO GO AROUND THE GLOBE!!! I’m so shocked by that statistic. Seventeen days is the longest we have ever traveled as a family, and while we wanted our own beds and to see our pets, we wouldn’t trade this time for anything. Since this was such a long trip, I am going to break this post down into cities and then add descriptions of what we did where. It might get kinda long so bear with me… or don’t, I’ll leave it up to you!

 

There is no direct flight from ATL to Sydney, so we first flew from ATL to LAX. This was roughly a five our flight, but we just so happened to be flying in at night on July 5th and people were still sending off fireworks. IT WAS SO COOL!! I think Abbey and I were the only ones who really saw them but looking down at fireworks is something else let me just tell ya. After we landed in LA, we only had two hours before we hopped right back on the airplane to head to ‘straya (trying to use some of my Aussie lingo). Y’ALL… this flight was 15 HOURS LONG!! The entire family was really dreading it, but luckily we were able to sleep a majority of the flight. We landed in Sydney at approx. 6:00 a.m. their time and had to hit the ground running. We luckily got to head to the hotel and shower to wake us up and help us push through some of the jet lag, because we lost an entire day due to the time difference.

**I’m leaving out the travel days in the day count, so it will seem like we were gone for a shorter time than we really were**

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, let’s get started:

SYDNEY

Hotel: Shangri-La

Duration: 4 days

 

Day One: Our first day we had to our leisure! Once we all freshened up at the hotel, we decided to walk down to the harbor and check out some of the sites, such as the Sydney Opera House. I knew what it was going to look like, but something about seeing it in person makes it that much more magnificent. The entire family, especially Brooke (who was once an architecture major and wont let you forget it) found the design and structure so fascinating. It literally looks like sails from a sailboat. To keep us busy and from sitting down, we took a tour of it. It was really interesting to learn about its history and how long it took to build such an iconic landmark that is recognized all around the world. By the end of the tour, we were all fading extremely fast. You could tell by looking at us that we were so exhausted. So once the tour was over, we headed back to the hotel to get to rest… and yeah… we fell asleep at 4:00 in the afternoon. Needless to say, we were EXHAUSTED!

Day Two: This day we decided we would take the ferry and go visit the Taronga Zoo and Manly Beach. The first half of the day we spent walking around the zoo and checking out the animals. The second half we visited Manly Beach, which is a popular local area with shops and just like its name implies… a beach. This area was so cute, but since it’s winter down in Australia right now it was too cold for us to really enjoy being out on the beach. That’s the only downside of visiting Australia during the United States’ summer, it’s their winter. Our family loves the beach, so I would love to go back during their summer months, because the beach is such a large part of Australian culture.

 

 

Day Three: WE CLIMBED A BRIDGE!!!This was such a cool day. One of the two things I asked to do on this trip was to climb the Sydney Harbor Bridge, and luckily everyone approved of this excursion!! I’m so glad my family consist of daredevils who aren’t afraid of heights, because it got pretty high, even though the climb was an easy one. The top of the bridge is one of the absolute best ways to see all of Sydney at once. It was so breathtaking from the top, looking out onto the harbor and city skyline. If you ever visit Sydney this is one of my must do’s!! After the bridge climb, we headed to a local restaurant to grab some lunch before we headed back to the hotel to rest up. By day three of this trip, I had eaten more fish and chips I could have ever imagined!! That night we had a cruise around the harbor and dinner at a local restaurant. We were told we were going to be picked up by a pontoon… we figured this was the shuttle to the main boat with where everyone else would be… boy were we wrong!! We ended up being picked up by a yacht and having it all to ourselves!! At first we were a little hesitant, but the cruise around the harbor was awesome. They took us to this local seafood restaurant where several of us had the Moreton Bay Bug. Yep, you read that right…I had a BUG for dinner! Fun fact: a bug is very similar to our lobster and it ended up being really good! After dinner we boarded the boat and continued to sail around the harbor while having dessert.

 

Day Four: This day we walked from Coogee Beach to Bondi Beach. By the way, they pronounce it like Bond-eye. That tip will keep you from looking like an American tourist! This was roughly a 5 mile walk along the coast. The views from every inch of the walk were breathtaking. I was constantly trying to take photos of the view, but no picture can do this view justice!! Unfortunately, by the end of the walk and lunch, dad wasn’t feeling too good, so we headed back to the hotel for him to rest.  He ended up having a stomach bug and getting pretty sick on the trip, but luckily didn’t miss out on too much.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PORT DOUGLAS/CAIRNS

Hotel: Sea Temple Resort and Spa

Duration: 3 days

Day Five: This day we flew from Sydney to Cairns. Cairns is located on the northeast tip of Australia where the temperature is significantly warmer than it is down south. It was nice to escape to a tropical paradise from the frigid Sydney temp. We arrived at the Sea Temple and went to our rooms to unpack. WE HAD THE COOLEST ROOMS!!! On the top of each room there was a green space with a grilling station as well as a hot tub. My sisters and I are fascinated by any room that differs from our usual Hampton Inn or Holiday Inn Express lol. Since dad wasn’t feeling too hot, mom and the girls headed into downtown Port Douglas to grab some dinner. Everywhere we went, we kept saying we needed a couple more days there. Port Douglas was no different. The town was so cute, but we didn’t have enough time to explore it.

 

Day Six: THE GREAT BARRIER REEF!!!! I was so excited for this day because I LOVE the ocean. My family is huge into snorkeling and so we couldn’t come alllllll the way to Australia and not snorkel around the Great Barrier Reef. We had been told that the ocean had been really rough lately, so we were kind of concerned about what was in store for us. Once again, I’m so glad no one in my family gets sea sick!! Yes, we indeed had some wimps take sea sickness medicine: **cough cough** Brooke, Mom and Dad. Abbey and I aren’t wimps and decided to run the risk by not taking any medicine. We snorkeled three different parts of the reef and saw so many cool varieties of marine life. We learned that the media has been telling lies about the Great Barrier Reef dying. It indeed is not dying, and we learned that coral bleaching is something that is needed once in a while in order for the coral to continue to grow and flourish. The GBR hasn’t seen coral bleaching in over a year and is expected to continue to thrive and flourish. The crew on board our boat were so welcoming and informative!!

 

Day Seven: We spent our last day in Port Douglas/Cairns by visiting the Kuranda Village. Kuranda is located in the rainforest, so it was really cool to go from the ocean one day to the rainforest the next. We took a scenic train up the mountain to the small village. This was a really cool way to see the rainforest and many of the waterfalls that surround the area. Once at the village we walked around for an hour before we went to HUG KOALAS!!!! You can’t visit Australia and not hug a koala bear, right? We had such an awesome time seeing and hugging these animals. Unfortunately, Brooke and Dad ended up being the Koalas toilet… yuck, I know. After lunch we visited local art shops that sold aboriginal art work. Australia has a large population of aboriginals, and their art work is so cool to look at. We ended up getting several pieces for our own home! After a day at Kuranda we took a gondola back down to the bottom of the rainforest.

 

BRISBANE

Hotel: Sofitel Brisbane

Duration: Two Days

 

Day Eight: This day we flew from Cairns to Brisbane. We got in late afternoon and ended up finding a Mexican restaurant for lunch. We were all craving Americanized food and this Mexican restaurant was the closest thing we could find!! It wasn’t the same as what you would find here in the states, but it was close enough. That night we ended up walking around in what I call “Little Tokyo” the actual name of the area was Queen Street Mall. You could tell this was easily the place to be in Brisbane. All the shops and food were located in this centralized area. The only downside of Brisbane is that all the shops close early. So, we emerged out of our hotel room around 6:00 p.m. and all the stores were closing/closed.

 

Day Nine: THE BEST DAY EVER!!! We visited the Australia Zoo! If you aren’t familiar with the Australia Zoo, this is the zoo that Steve Irwin “the crocodile hunter” started. This, besides the bridge climb, was one thing that I absolutely had to do! There was no question of whether or not I would be visiting this place, because I would have found a way to get myself there if it wasn’t planned into our trip! We had a guide drive us to the zoo and show us around. He had informed us on the way up there that the Irwin family had been in town all week and there was a chance they might be there. Apparently when we arrived he was informed that they would indeed be there. He told my family, but I must not have been paying attention because I was completely shocked when they came running out for the crocodile show. I was so shocked and taken back that they were actually in front of me. I definitely had my fan girl moment right then. It was so cool to see Bindi, Steve and Terri continue to live out Steve’s passion. You could really tell they have a huge heart for all the animals, especially their dads favorite: crocodiles. We spent the rest of the day roaming around the zoo and checking out the rest of the exhibits.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Melbourne

Hotel: Park Hyatt

*side note: this hotel has a dog for its ambassador!! His name is Mr. Walker, and he is a yellow lab that sits out front to greet guest every day. So of course, this has to be our FAVORITE HOTEL EVER!!*

Duration: Three Days

 

Day Ten: We flew from Brisbane to Melbourne on this day. When we got into Melbourne we checked in and took a little nap before heading out for dinner. Our front door man was actually from Dallas, Texas, so he suggested we head over to China Town for dinner since we were craving Asian Cuisine. Let me just says, my father doesn’t need to be the one with the map or giving any form of directions. Like always he thought he knew where he was going, but once again we didn’t end up where we had planned. Luckily there were several Asian restaurants on the street, so we stopped in a local Japanese place to grub. It ended up being a really good meal, which is just what we needed!

 

Day Eleven: This day we spent driving along the Great Ocean Road. The GOR leads to the Twelve Apostles, which was one of the main things my dad really wanted to do. We had the most amazing driver/guide, who went above and beyond for us. This drive was spectacular. Once again, the views were so magnificent even photos can’t do them justice! We made frequent stops along the way to check out the view. We stopped at this one local place that had a light house, it was so cute!! Plus, there was a coffee shop next door that made us some bomb hot chocolate. This drive takes several hours and as soon as we arrived at the Apostles it started raining on us. Now, this is somewhere that you spend hours looking around, but it was so cold, rainy and windy that we could only tolerate 30 minutes of its beauty. It definitely is a place to go back and actually take it all in for more than 30 minutes. On our drive we mentioned to our driver that we had passed the Princess Theatre on our walk back to the hotel the night before and Mamma Mia was showing.. When we looked that night, there was only five tickets left on the back row, so the ‘rents said they would think about it. Our driver actually had a performing arts background and knew one of the main leads in the show. GUYS… he went above and beyond to get us HOUSE SEATS for the show!!! He got us on the seventh row, aka some of the best seats in the house.

Day Twelve: We spent our last day in Melbs checking out the Australian Open Tennis facilities and walking around the city. That night we attended Mamma Mia, and boy are we obsessed with that soundtrack now. If you are/ have been around any of us since we have returned you probably have heard that soundtrack being played in our cars. The cast and show were phenomenal, and it was the perfect way to end our trip!

 

Day Thirteen-Fifteen: We spent these days traveling to Maui where we took two days to recuperate from all the jet lag. This time helped our bodies get somewhat back adjusted to American times. Of course, we were only in Maui just long enough for us to want to go back. I would like to say that we flew Air New Zealand from Melbourne to Auckland to Honolulu and all I have to say is if you EVER have the opportunity to fly this airline DO IT!!! It puts Delta and all other American based airlines to shame!!!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last Minute Travel Facts:

We used Amy Daniel at Alabama World Travel!

The company she used was Abercrombie & Kent, and this  company provided us with the best guides!

Bona Fide or Bogus

To be honest, I knew that something was going down with Facebook; however, I wasn’t sure what exactly had happened. I just remember scrolling through my Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram feed and seeing Mark Zuckerberg appearing in what looked like court. For some reason, I never really invested any of my time into reading up on what all was happening, which I probably should have because Facebook is one of my top applications I use. Luckily, this blog post assignment has given me the opportunity to catch up on the Facebook- Cambridge Analytica data hijacking scandal.

 

This post is focusing on Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook apology. I’m sure most people reading this knows what happened but might not have seen the written apology he made.

 

I honestly think that Zuckerberg’s apology was heartfelt and concerned. He addressed the situation at hand and made feel like he was going to do everything possible to make sure something like this doesn’t happen again. I especially like how he took full responsibility for this scandal. He mentioned that he started Facebook and at the end of the day is responsible for what happens on his platform.

 

“We have a responsibility to protect your data, and if we can’t then we don’t deserve to serve you,” said Zuckerberg.

 

It might seem that Cambridge Analytica needed to take all the blame, but Zuckerberg didn’t bash them. He noted everything in the past Facebook has done to prevent these types of scandals. Even though this happened, Zuckerberg announced that Facebook will now have a feature that reveals what apps are using your data and how to revoke it. This not only shows that Zuckerberg addressed the issue but is implementing a strategy to allow Facebook users to know when their data is being shared.

 

Here is a link to his Facebook apology: https://www.facebook.com/zuck/posts/10104712037900071

 

What are your thoughts? Feel free to leave a comment below.

How AR Is Changing PR

There is a lot of discussion about how augmented and virtual reality are changing the game in public relations, marketing and even advertising. Many are unware that there is a difference between AR and VR. To get y’all caught up, virtual reality is the computer-generated simulation of a three-dimensional image or environment that can be interacted with in a seemingly real or physical way by a person using special electronic equipment, such as a helmet with a scree inside or gloves fitted with sensors. Augmented Reality is a technology that layers computer-generated enhancements atop an existing reality in order to make it more meaningful through the ability to interact with it.

 

Ikea is a great example of how using AR can change the game. Ikea created their own app that allows their customers to view what furniture will look in their own space. In this image, I took an ottoman that Ikea sales and was able to place it in my own apartment to see what it would look like.  In my opinion, this changes the game. For example, with the Ikea app, buying furniture is no longer a pain. Customers don’t have to worry if a piece of furniture will work in their space or not. They can just use the app!

 

I think AR has many practical benefits available to the public relations field. Here are two examples:

 

  1. Press Releases using AR: Using AR in a press release or instead of your typical press release might benefit your company more. Using images to launch a range of media content, social links and 3D experiences can take your engagement to the next level. By using AR, people are going to be more likely to engage and connect to you or your company.
  2. PR Events: Using AR to showcase an event experience is another way that AR can change the game of PR. Customers want to know they are going to have a great experience at an event, whether that’s their seats or venue itself. Using AR to display visual floor plans or view from certain seats will benefit the company more, because the customer knows what to expect; therefore, creating a better experience. By using AR, customers will know what they are getting for their money.

 

These are only two of the hundreds of ways AR can be used and optimized in the field of public relations. I believe that AR and VR might end what we call modern day advertising. AR is constantly creating new experiences for the consumer through their phone or computer screen. AR has only wet our appetite and is only going to continue to grow. A couple years from now, I think AR is going to be everywhere.

Dear Lindsey

Senior year formal with the best gals

If you know anything about me, you probably know that I lack a lot in the sentimental/ emotional aspect of life. I rarely cry, and when I do, its normally happy tears and a dog video is involved. So, when writing this blog, it’s unlikely that I will get chocked up, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not sad to be leaving the place I’ve called home the past four years.

 

Auburn University, what can I say, I owe all of my successes these past four years to you. You gave me my passion in life, and I will never be able to give to you what you have given to me.  Looking back at these four years, a lot has changed. I’m such a better person because of this school, and little did freshman year me know what was in store.

From my senior self to my freshman self:

 

Good grades aren’t EVERYTHING (but they are important)

I, like many others before and after me, spent most of a first semester of freshman year stressing over my grades. I spent a lot more time in the library than out of it. #RBD4lyfe

My grades ended up being really good my first semester, but my social life was kinda nonexistent. Don’t get me wrong, I had a lot of friends, but I missed out on a lot of activities because I was always putting school first.

I believe that there is an even balance between the two. Good grades will get you into grad school, **SIDE NOTE: I’m going to grad school!! GO GATORS!!!** but going four years with little to no social interaction will be more likely to hold you back in life than a couple less than stellar grades on your report.  Learn to budget your time between studying, socializing and sleep.

 

All-nighters weren’t a good idea in high school, and they’re an even WORSE idea in college

 Save yourself a lot of trouble and just make getting a good night’s sleep a priority from the get-go. I’ve always been a night owl, and most of my best work is done late at night; however, college is a whole ‘nother level than high school. Trust me on this one; YOU NEED SLEEP!!! College classes move much faster than high school ones, so snoozing in class will put you very much behind.

Want to know the number of people I know who can be an actual functioning human after pulling an all-nighter? ZEROOOOOOO!!!! Don’t wait until the night before, or the day of like me and this blog post that is due by midnight tonight, to start studying for/doing your paper, project or exam.

 

Learn when enough is enough

This statement applies to many aspects of my freshman self: alcohol, junk food or Netflix binges- the list can go on for miles. Won’t go into great detail here, but just know when to call it quits!!

 

Please take advantage of the nation’s top recreation and wellness center  

 Not going to lie, gymtimidation is a major thing I suffer from. I hate going solely for the reason that I think people are constantly looking at me as if I’m doing something wrong. Well, that isn’t the case. The rec is one of the greatest things on campus, and who wants to gain the freshman 15????

This gets me to my next point…

 

AVOID the freshman 15

 Freshman 15?? More like freshman 30!!! Going from constantly having soccer practice every day of the year to not having to go to any practices was a major wake up call for me. Don’t get me wrong, I was no stick in high school, but I was in shape…


Boy did college change all of that. With that being said, feel free to TREAT YO SELF, but not to every good test or bad week you have. Both happened quite frequently to me, and my “treat yo self” moments added up to be higher than my calculus grade.

 

 

DON’T be afraid to ask for help

This one goes out to my mother!! She was constantly nagging me freshman year to go ask my professors for help. Hate to admit it, but she was right all along. If you know anything about me, you know that I’m a VERY stubborn and strong-willed person. I hate asking for help from other people, whether it be friends or professors. I finally realized that most professors LOVE to help their students and want to see them succeed. Take advantage of office hours if you’re struggling. I promise it will benefit you in the long run.

 

Get involved

 Freshman year, I wasn’t involved in much. I was too scared as a pre-pharm student that getting involved would take away from me making good grades. All I have to say is that getting involved at Auburn was the best thing that has ever happened to me. If I would have realized that being an Athletic Recruiter would completely change my life, I would have joined S.O.A.R. freshman year. You come to college to get an education, but college is SOOOO much more than that. You go to college not only to prepare yourself for the rest of your life, but also to make you a well-rounded person.

My bff Liv and me on game day as Athletic Recruiters

***Don’t get involved so much to where you aren’t having a healthy balance of good grades and involvement!!***

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s okay to change majors, even more than once

 Coming to college, I knew exactly what I thought I wanted to be… a pharmacist. Well, have you ever met a pharmacist? If you have, you know that my personality is not meant to be behind a counter. I am a loud and proud person, and for me to thrive in life, my personality needs to show.

It might seem like everyone else has their life plan mapped out for the rest of their life, but it’s totally fine to not know what you’re going to have for dinner tonight. Let go and trust God to lead you to where you’re meant to be. Who knew that changing majors four times and traveling to ATL to get aptitude testing done would lead me to public relations. But guess what? I changed majors four times, and I am still graduating on time!!!

I only figured out what I wanted to do the rest of my life my second semester of junior year. I had five semesters go by before I realized what my true passion in life was. Take your time deciding, because if you’re not happy with your choice in college, then you won’t be happy in the “real world.”

 

Last but not least, GO TO ALL FOOTBALL GAMES (HOME AND AWAY)

 This one is very self-explanatory, so I promise to wrap this post up. Going to home and away games these past four years, gave me some of the BEST memories and even GREATER friends!! I mean you do attend an SEC school after all, so not going to football games is like not liking the taste of water: RIDICULOUS!!

Auburn @ Texas A&M senior year

Auburn @ Ole Miss junior year

ewwwwww

Auburn @ Georgia freshman year

State of the Union Address

For this blog post, I have created a word cloud for President Donald J. Trump’s State of the Union Address.

 

President Trump had over 5,000 words in his State of the Union Address; however, I decided to only use his top 100 words for my word cloud. I chose not to read the entire address, because I wanted this post to be what topics I thought were most important to him and what caught my eye based on his top 100 words.

 

When first glancing at the word cloud the variations of America are the most eye catching. You can see that American, Americans and America were his top three words. I find it pretty interesting that all three are variations of each other. In my opinion, this tells me that President Trump was constantly addressing the American people. In the State of the Union Address, it is important to make sure your know who you audience is. Yes, he addressed Congress in person, but this address is always for the American people. It is the president’s responsibility to speak to the citizens of the United States through this address.

 

Next, the words “ISIS,” “terrorist” and “immigration” caught my eye. Now these three words were definitely hot topics this year and during President Trumps presidential race, but I found it strange that those three caught my eye before the words “country,” “year” or even “Congress” did.  Immigration was a huge part of President Trumps political campaign, so I am not surprised that it was one of his more frequent words. I knew this word would probably fall in the top 100 words, but he only used it eight times. I found this to be very shocking since he has such a strong stance on the topic.

 

After creating this post and the word cloud, I plan on going back and reading the address all the way through. It will be interesting to see if what I found most important in the word cloud, ends up being what was most important to President Trump in his speech.

 

The State of the Union Address is always an important part to any presidency. I would to love to hear back from anyone who reads this post what they took away from the word cloud.

 

 

 

Technology’s Long Tail: TED Talk

To get everyone caught up on what this post is about, I am writing a blog post on my reaction to the following video: https://www.ted.com/talks/chris_anderson_of_wired_on_tech_s_long_tail#t-842138

Please feel free to give it a view to better understand what I am about to talk about.

 

Not going to lie, I found this TED Talk to be very outdated, but I soon realized after watching it that it was published in 2004. That makes so much more sense. This video talks about “Technology’s Long Tail.” Chris Anderson, who was the then editor of Wired, explored the four key stages of any viable technology: setting the right price, gaining market share, displacing an established technology and becoming ubiquitous.

 

It’s no secret that technology is constantly evolving. We, as a society, love anything new, especially new technology. We can’t wait for the next bigger and better thing to immerge, shoving what we currently have to the side. This video really opened my eyes as to how fast technology is changing and progressing.

 

Anderson mentions the DVD player, Netflix, Wi-Fi and many more technologies in his talk. One thing that I found very interesting is that he said, “Wi-Fi hasn’t reach all four stages.” This made me stop and really think. What do you mean Wi-Fi hasn’t reached all four stages yet? It’s been around for as long as I can remember. But he is so true, Wi-Fi isn’t anywhere near being ubiquitous. Yes, it’s in most place that you go, but there are many places and people in this world who don’t have access to Wi-Fi. Until something new comes along to replace it, I have a feeling Wi-Fi is only going to get bigger, until it reaches every end of this earth.

 

I’ve grown up with technology almost all of my life. For as long as I remember, I had access to some form of technology. Now, this may include the good ole dial up in my grandmother’s computer room, but it still gave me access to the World Wide Web, even if it took four hours to get up and running. I think my generation, millennials, is the last generation to grow up on a VHR, or at least knows what VHR is. Seeing Anderson talk about how Netflix almost singlehandedly got rid of all movie rental stores is crazy. And now, Netflix doesn’t even distribute DVD’s anymore. Everything is all streaming. Anderson even mentioned Skype, which sends me back to my middle school days when I would come home from school and video chat my friends that I just left. Even Skype is basically nonexistent anymore. With Apple’s creation of FaceTime, Skype is no longer needed. FaceTime comes with every iPhone, so downloading the Skype app just takes up storage on our phones.

 

Lastly, it’s crazy to see how much things cost originally, and then as they become popular and new things emerge, the price starts to drop. The average DVD in 2018 cost around 30-40 dollars. In 2004, they were in the range of 100-200 for a nicer one.

 

Technology will always be evolving, and watching this TED Talk just made me realize how fast we as a society are making strides in the technology field. Everyone who is interested in technology’s long tail, please give this video a watch. It’ll only take 15 minutes of your time.

 

source for average cost of DVD player in 2004: http://www.data360.org/dsg.aspx?Data_Set_Group_Id=497

Turk Down For What

Not gonna lie, I have a love-hate relationship with Spring Break. Don’t get me wrong though, I look forward to Spring Break starting in January. For us Auburn students, we don’t have a break between MLK Day and SB.  SOS!! Those nine weeks tend to be very long and full of tests and projects, so by the time SB rolls around everyone can’t contain their excitement.

Almost all of my life I’ve gone to Colorado to snowboard for SB, but starting last year, I made the switch from snow to sand. Last year, I went on the most ratchet (use urban dictionary if you need a definition) cruise that exists on this planet. All in all, it was a huge waste of my money, but the 46 girls I went with all left with some of the funniest memories that we will cherish forever. (#GMOTB)

I’m getting to the point about this whole “sand for sb” thing. If you look at me, you know that I don’t have the bod for a swimsuit. Honestly, thinking about cramming myself into a swim suit is the last thing I want to be doing.

However, I will say that Lent always comes at the right time of year. PRAISE. THE. LORD.  I speak for all the college women out there when I say that we would like to take a moment of silence to thank God for these 40 days!!!  (I gave up bread, which has helped “somewhat” achieve a semi, nonexistent “beach bod”)

However, this Spring Break, I am headed to the Turks and Caicos Islands with one of my best friends, Kate Stewart. **Side note, I would like to thank the wonderful Ms. Knight for introducing us to each other in her Case Studies class our Junior year!!**

 

Anyways, if you’re not familiar with the Turks and Caicos, they are an archipelago (that’s a big word for me) of 40 low-lying coral islands in the Atlantic Ocean. They are a British Overseas Territory southeast of the Bahamas. The island that we will be visiting is Providenciales, or as the locals call it “Provo.”

This is my second time visiting Provo, and I literally can’t contain my excitement to be going back in just a few short days. Kate and I are going to be traveling with a crew of 20… let’s pray that everything goes smoothly. Traveling with this big of a crowd needs a PR plan of its own. There needs to be serious planning, implementation and evaluation to help achieve a successful SB2K18.

My main goal for SB is honestly just to relax. After this week heading into Spring Break, there is nothing more I am going to want to do than just lay by the ocean and listen to the waves crash along the shoreline. Our huge crew will be staying at the wonderful Beaches resort. Y’ALL THIS RESORT IS AMAZING!!! The last time my family and I went to Provo, which was Thanksgiving 2014, we stayed at this fantastic resort in their French Village.

Beaches consists of a 45,000 square-foot waterpark (yes, you read that correctly, A WATERPARK!), five magnificent villages (which mimics architecture of Italy, France, the Caribbean and Key West), a 12-mile beach and 21 taste worthy restaurants. Kate, my ‘rents, my sister and I will be staying at a house in the Key West Village. Just imagine those cute houses down along 30-A, Florida. Pretty much we basically picked up 30-A and moved it to the Caribbean.

There isn’t really an “itinerary” for this trip. We basically are going to wake up each morning and see what we want to do that day. However, we do have a catamaran snorkeling cruise scheduled. (my family is huge into water sports, so snorkeling comes with every trip of ours) Each morning when we wake up, normally at breakfast, we will strategize what all we want to plan and do during the day based on what is around us. My ultimate goal is to come back as a bronze goddess, so you’ll find me out in the sun every day, all day.

If I don’t come back bronze and rejuvenated, then I’m not sure what is going to happen. I need that Vitamin-SEA, ASAP!!

 

Being near the beach is my happy place, so I have a feeling that this SB trip will be very successful. Y’all please pray that I am able to pack my suit case with everything I need, without exceeding the 50 pound weight limit.

 

 

 

I’ll see y’all in a week!!

 

 

 

Your Ultimate National Singles Awareness Day Guide

All the single ladies

Now put your hands up

via GIPHY

I don’t know about y’all, but I hate the month of February. What is worse than a month filled with chocolate, candy, hearts and my favorite, couples. Now one might say, “you don’t like February because you’re single.” Well… you would be correct. February is an entire month dedicated to rubbing in single people’s faces that you’re in a relationship. Well guess what? I’m not about it one bit.

 

If you’re like me, aka single as a pringle, then you’re probably just as fed up with this month as I am. Not only is February 14, one of the hardest days for us people not in a relationship, but for some reason, every couple thinks it’s okay to take the whole month to advertise that they’re in a relationship.

 

Last time I checked it was Valentine’s DAY, not Valentines MONTH!! I do have some good news for all my single ladies out there: February 15 is considered National Singles Awareness Day. Yes, you indeed just read that sentence correctly. NATIONAL SINGLES AWARENESS DAY!!! I promise it’s considered a “holiday,” even nationalcalendar.com told me so. Most acronyms abbreviate it as “SAD,” but we aren’t sad, so I went ahead and added the “N” to it.

So how is one supposed to spend NSAD?? All it takes is a little planning, implementation and evaluation to make this day bigger and better than V-Day. Forget V-Day, it’s now Me-Day. Us single people know we don’t need anyone to complete us. In my opinion, my dog gives me more love and affection than any guy will/ would.

 

To pull off the ultimate NSAD, you’ll need to do a little bit of planning.  In the wise words of Tom and Donna on Parks and Recreation: Treat. Yo. Self. And this is just what we are about to do. Map out how you’d like to spend this wonderful holiday than implement it. Need ideas? Don’t worry, I’ve got your back.

via GIPHY

The first step to my NSAD, is to go out and buy some candy or chocolate. You should know by now, but the day after Valentines, candy is drastically marked down. I would like to say a big “thank you” to Walmart, Target, CVS and Walgreens. We didn’t need your overpriced candy to begin with, now we get to indulge without breaking the bank. See, since we are single, we have no shame stuffing our faces with candy. We aren’t out here to impress anyone, especially not on NSAD.

 

After you’ve racked up on the discounted Ghirardelli, Dove, Lindor and Hershey’s, you’re ready for the next part of your amazing day. On your way home plug that cellphone of yours into the aux or use Bluetooth (because we are so tech savvy nowadays) and jam your heart out. I have included an epic playlist for us single ladies out there, so prepare to channel your inner Beyoncé on your drive home.

via GIPHY

**for the bomb playlist search “man! i feel like a woman” by Amalea Poulos in the Spotify app (don’t know who that person is but everyone thank her for your jams)**

Now that you’ve made it home, order the best take-out food. If you live in the wonderful Auburn-Opelika area, I would suggest Pho Lee. Nothing goes better than Vietnamese food and candy, right? Right! Or if you’re not feeling it Tiger Town Togo has some other great options.

 

Between the time you place your order, to its delivery, you probably have roughly 30 minutes. This is where my ladies need to whip out those bath bombs that I know every one of you currently has at home and have a nice relaxing soak in the rub a dub tub. Keep an eye on the time now. We don’t want any awkward encounters of going to the door in a towel.

 

Once you’re out of the bath and the food has been delivered, it is time to post-up (not as in basketball) and watch the best chick flick or women’s empowering movie. Hopefully by now you have either Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Fire Stick, Rocu or Apple TV; if not, we have a major problem that I can’t resolve. Some movie that I suggest are She’s the Man, Mulan, (if you’re into Disney, because I totally am), Legally Blonde, Clueless, Miss Congeniality or The Princess Diaries 2. There are many more, but those are my faves so that’s what you get from me.

via GIPHY

Time to ball up on the couch, eat your favorite meal and have candy for dessert, all while watching the best women related movies.

 

Now the best way to evaluate how successful your day was, is to make sure you checked all the boxes. If you’re using my routine, you can’t skip any of the above listed elements. They are all a necessity to make sure you NSAD is the best one yet. If you wake up on February 16 happy and stuffed, then I would say you had a pretty successful day. You can thank me later for it.

 

Now then, let’s celebrate not having to celebrate Valentine’s Day!