Christmas Spirit in Philadelphia

If you couldn’t tell already, I love this time of year. There’s so much to see and do, and it’s easy to get into the holiday spirit. Last weekend, I visited one of my very best friends in her new city, Philadelphia! This is her first Christmas in the city, so we were excited to get into the holiday spirit together. We set out on Sunday afternoon to experience all the Christmas cheer Philadelphia had to offer. It was rainy, but we made the most of it!

DSC_5868DSC_5921The first thing we did was visit the Christmas Village in Love Park! There were vendors set up in adorable little pop-up shops selling all sorts of Christmas goodies. They had food, ornaments, and other homemade items. If you’re looking for a unique, homemade Christmas gift, this is the spot for you! (As you can tell by the photos, it was packed.)

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After wondering around for a little, we walked across the street to Dilworth Park’s Winter Garden. There were even more pop-up shops, an ice skating rink, and their giant Christmas tree!

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Even though it was rainy, the city was still pretty all decorated for the season. It was the perfect time to go, because I think the rain scared off some people! I can’t imagine how crowded it would’ve been during a nice day!

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After walking around Dilworth Park, we walked to Franklin Square. They have a really cool light show that starts at 4:30 and it runs every half hour.

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While we waited for the show to start, we ordered some hot chocolate and took some photos. 🙂

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After finishing our hot chocolates and watching the lights (so cool!), we ordered an Uber and called it a day! The sun was setting and the temperatures were dropping. We had such a fun time exploring Philadelphia on a dreary Sunday. I think we’ll make this an annual tradition from here on! ❤

Have you been to Philadelphia during the holidays? What should we do next time?

xoxo

Our International Phone Plan

Ni Hao!

Today I wanted to write about something that Taylor and I get questions on a lot. Our phone plans! Kind of a boring topic, but I think it’s informative for someone traveling abroad or moving internationally.

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Before we moved abroad, Taylor and I had contracts with Verizon. We were loyal to them for several years, and we absolutely loved them. We never had any issues and they’ve always been great. When we found out that we were moving to China, our phone plans needed to change because we needed something that allowed us to communicate internationally. Unfortunately, Verizon didn’t have any long-term international plans available. They only offered a daily rate. They actually recommended that we check out Sprint. I really didn’t want to check out Sprint, because I’ve never heard anyone say they enjoy their phone plan with them. Then again, I didn’t know anyone living internationally!

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Sprint offered to pay off our contracts with Verizon and allowed us to text and FaceTime from anywhere in the world at no extra cost. It was also way cheaper than what we were paying with Verizon. Taylor and I were able to update our iPhones, plus they gave us an additional 2 phones that we now have as backups. We’ve been living in China for 4 months now and have traveled to multiple countries, and haven’t had any issues with our Sprint phones. We can still text free of charge (on both ends) and we can FaceTime with anyone in the world. If we make a normal phone call it is 10 cents a minute, so not a big deal. However, all FaceTime calls are completely free. Taylor and I have an app called WeChat, which allows us to make phone calls to each other within China if needed.

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After visiting America for a few weeks back in August, I’ve had the chance to see how my Sprint phone preforms there as well. To be honest, it works much better abroad. I didn’t get great signal and almost all of my calls were dropped. The internet was slow as well, unless I was connected to the wifi. Our sprint phones serve their purpose and work great while we’re traveling. We spend more time in other countries these days so it’s perfect for our needs. Whenever it’s time for us to move back to the states, I’m not sure if we’ll keep our sprint plans. However, it’s super cheap so I can’t complain too much! 

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For those of you asking, yes you can text and FaceTime call us free of charge! We may be in another country, but we’re easily accessible! The only difference is the time! 🙂 I hope this helps some of y’all if you’re thinking about changing phone plans or if you’re moving internationally anytime soon! xoxo

Xuanwuhu Park

Good Morning!

I wanted to hop on the blog and give a small update about Taylor and I. I mentioned before that we ended up staying in Nanjing for the Chinese National Holiday, which was exactly what we needed mentally. Taylor is back to his typical work schedule now, and we’ve been preparing for a few upcoming trips! We have a trip to Beijing planned this weekend, and then it’s time for our next Visa run to Hong Kong the weekend after that.

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The weather in China has done a complete 180. It was unbearably hot and humid before the Mid-Autumn Festival, then the leaves transformed overnight and now it’s cool and comfortable outside. We have been LOVING this new season. We never had Fall while living in Florida, so this has been a breath of fresh air.

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On Monday, we decided to get out of the house and go for a walk in one of China’s many parks. We packed some peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and took the subway to Xuanwuhu Park, which surrounds the Nanjing city wall. This park is massive! We’ve been 3 times now and still haven’t seen all of it.

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The fall foliage was stunning. I couldn’t put my camera down!

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Walking around the park is something we really enjoy doing together, especially with the cooler weather.

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The picture above is funny because the next day someone bought a drone of his own. 🙂

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We had a wonderful time strolling through the park and just being still together. Times like this give us a chance to really connect and step back from the hustle and bustle that life brings.

That’s it for today’s update! Thank’s for reading! xoxo

 

Florence, Italy

Taylor and I are officially back in China, so that can only mean one thing. Our Italian blog posts are nearing the end! If you missed the first few posts, you can read them all here:

Zurich, Lugano, Lake Como, Venice 

The fifth city we visited was Florence! After we packed our bags up in Venice, we took another train and rode to our next destination. We really enjoyed taking the trains everywhere in Europe. It’s so much easier and cheaper than flying. Florence is located in central Italy, within Tuscany.

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I’d say that Florence is known for architecture and food. It’s here where we ate the best Italian food of our lives.

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The man behind all the travel plans. 🙂 I’d be lost without him…literally. He puts so much effort into planning our adventures together.

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If I’m being honest, Florence wasn’t my favorite city that we visited during our European adventure. We were still coming off a high of visiting Lake Como and Venice, and Florence was just okay in my book. I’m not dying to go back, and I really don’t know if I’d make an effort to return. I’m glad we came, but I wouldn’t spend more than two nights here. Like I said before, the food was INCREDIBLE, but that was the highlight of visiting Florence.

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When visiting Florence, you NEED NEED NEED to eat at ZaZa’s. This place was so incredible that we ate there TWICE. This is unheard of for us. The even crazier thing about this place, is that it’s ranked in the 200’s on Trip Advisor for some reason?? I guess there’s just so many places to eat in Florence that the competition is hard. The lasagna was the best I’ve ever eaten and so was the homemade gnocchi. Seriously. You have to eat here.

We also stumbled across a unique wine shop one night called DiVino. You purchase the bottle size you’d like (or glass) and they’d fill it up with whatever local wine they had available. The first time we went, we purchased a standard 750ml bottle and filled it with cabernet. Our total was 4.50 euro and the wine was delicious! We returned the next day and it was only 3 euro since we already had the bottle! Such a genius idea!

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I felt so uninspired to take photos here. I’m not sure if it was because taking photos of architecture isn’t my thing, or that museums are difficult to photograph, or if everything looked the same. Maybe I’m crazy? If you’ve travelled all over Italy, let me know your thoughts on Florence, because I’m really curious. I don’t want to hate on Florence because we really did have a good time. If art history, architecture, and good food are you’re thing then you’d probably love this city!

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If you do find yourself in Florence, you need to walk through the gardens overlooking the city! The view gives you an incredible lookout for miles!

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The second thing you need to do is go and see the David statue, which was created in 1873! One thing to note is that there’s the real, authentic David, and then there’s a mock David. Please make sure you go see the real one, and not the fake! You can find the beautiful marble statue in the Accademia Gallery. The replica is in the Piazza della Signoria.

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With an abundance of museums in Florence, your time there can get expensive! When we were deciding which museums to purchase tickets for, we both agreed that that Museo Galileo would be the most interesting. Taylor is all about science and navigation, so this was absolutely perfect! 🙂 Tickets were 10 euro each, and it took us about an hour to see everything. We had the best time looking at all the early maps and scientific inventions!

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That’s it for our time in Florence! Next stop, the beach!

Living in China – Week 1

Greetings from Nanjing, China!

As I’m writing this post, Taylor and I have officially been living in China for one full week. This is my first post about our time in China so far, and it will be unlike anything I’ve ever posted before. It’s not the typical short vacation away with amazing pictures and adventures, because we’ve actually moved across the world and this is life for us now.

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Taylor and I had been anxiously awaiting our move to China for months. We dreamed of all the travel opportunities and envisioned an amazing experience living abroad. The two of us would talk for hours about all the places we wanted to go and everything we’d get to see in Asia. The job Taylor accepted here offered us housing, transportation, great pay, and a lot of travel benefits. Before we moved, I wrote down all the amazing travel posts I was going to write and even considered starting a YouTube channel about our lives here. Then we got here, and reality hit me.

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If I’m being super open and vulnerable about my experiences so far, things haven’t been great for me. I don’t know if my hopes were too high or maybe I just didn’t exactly think about how drastic of a move this was going to be, but it’s been one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. Adjusting to the time has been rough. China is exactly 12 hours ahead of America right now, so I spent the first few days awake all night and tired all day. For the past week, I’ve woken up every morning feeling so incredibly homesick that I cry all morning long. I haven’t gone one day without crying yet. My anxiety has flared up so significantly in just one week, that I have to lie down and try to control my breathing. Afternoons and evenings are a little better than mornings.

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A lot of people have been asking me what the hardest part is, and I honestly don’t know. I don’t think it’s just one aspect. I think it’s a million little things, so I feel extremely uncomfortable all the time. Although I’m here with Taylor, I feel incredibly isolated. I’m craving the comfort of things that used to be normal for me. There’s no family around, the food is drastically different, Maybelle isn’t here, I don’t have coffee, and almost nothing is westernized. I can’t eat and I can’t sleep.

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Taylor has been my rock through it all. He’s great at comforting me and keeping me busy and calm, while trying to give me hope. He’s adjusting perfectly fine and loving his new job, but I think it’s hard for him to see me so upset. I know we’ve only been here one week, but to me it feels like an eternity. Whenever I think about living in China, I start panicking and beg to go home. This behavior is so unlike me, because I typically love seeking adventure and traveling all over the world.

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I wasn’t expecting this setback at all. I’ve struggled to sit down and write on the blog because I haven’t taken many photos, I still haven’t unpacked, and I’m not comfortable. I honestly feel like I don’t have any creative juice left in me. 2 years seems like a long way away, and at this point I’m not sure I have what it takes to stay here. I’ve been clinging to my family and their affirmative words, and I’m praying things get better. I’ve discovered that I really enjoy walking to the lake and people watching, because this area of Nanjing is more touristy. I know things will get better with time, but my fear is that I’ll go home for Christmas break and not want to come back. Or, that my friends and family will come visit and I’ll be heartbroken to see them go.

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I know this post isn’t what people were expecting. Everyone has been rooting for our move to China because we love traveling and have lived away from home before. However, I wanted to be open and honest, rather than hiding behind a smile in a few photos. Here’s to another week, and I’m praying my anxiety lessens and I can calm down enough to enjoy myself.

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We’ll be in Shanghai briefly this week, so hopefully I can take a lot of photos to share!