Tweet! Tweet! Three Little Birds Travel is now on Twitter!!

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Happy Friday everyone!!! I don’t know about you, but I’m SO ready for this weekend to start! It’s been a long week of attending work trainings and dealing with Polar Vortex #2, so I’m very excited to put the books down and enjoy a nice, relaxing weekend up in Wisconsin.

Before I head up north to enjoy more snow and cold temperatures, I want to take a moment and celebrate my new Twitter account! It’s officially been 1 month since I started this new social media outlet and I’m in LOVE!

It’s a great way to communicate to all my followers about special travel deals and share knowledgable advice from the sources I follow.

I hope you love it as much as I do! Make sure to follow me @3lbirdstravel

Is it Gelato o’clock?

In 2011, my sister and I went to Italy in the hopes of discovering the most mouthwatering, savory, flavorful meals we’ve ever tasted in our lives. What we didn’t realize was that we would discover all of those things in one divine item…gelato. In two weeks, we managed to consume what a normal human would enjoy in two years (ok, maybe four). Seriously! We ate so much that we just starting saying “Is it gelato o’clock?” to each other.

Don’t believe me? Yeah…umm…just scroll down.

oops.

Holy Guacamole Gelato!

Right?!?

We walked absolutely everywhere, so I’m happy to report that we did successfully fit back into the coach airline seats for the long flight home.

If I had to narrow it down (and give you somewhere to focus) I would say that GROM and Giolitti were my favorites. You can only find Giolitti in Rome, but GROM is all over Italy and a few other countries. There are also three locations for GROM in New York so the USA can get their fix too!

Curious to know what flavors we tried? Duh, OF COURSE you are!

Drum roll please……((Deep Breath))…..Chocolate, Oreo, Dark Chocolate, Baileys, Cinnamon, Mint, Stracciatella, Salted Caramel, Pistachio, Bacio, Hazelnut, Coconut, Maroon Glacee, Pear, Fig, Caramel, Italian Opera Cake, Biscotti, Tiramisu, Caffe, Nutella, Honey, Basil, Caramelized Fig, Walnut, Cannoli, Sesame, White Peach & Lavender and Bellini.

Have you tried gelato? What are your favorite flavors?

I went to Cancun and brought Prague, Hawaii, Brussels and Greece with me!!

I finally made it back home from Cancun and I’m already missing the warm sunshine, gorgeous aqua waters and bright green landscape. Here in Chicago the normal winter color palette consists of either white (snow), grey (old snow) or black (really dirty snow) so it was quite a fresh change to see all those beautiful colors for a week. As soon as I got off the plane I was hit with a wonderful “Welcome Home” from Chicago – negative degree weather! Thanks Chicago…

My trip started off at O’hare airport, looking out at all those typical winter colors and counting down the minutes until boarding began. Of course the inevitable happened when my coworker arrived at the gate and looked at me…and then my carry-on suitcase…and then back at me.

“That’s all you brought??”

“Yep! I always bring a carry-on. If I forget something, I can buy it there.  It’s the only way to travel!”

He obviously didn’t read #4 on my 14 travel tips for 2014 – There is only one size luggage for 2014 and it’s called Carry-On. No excuses. What he also didn’t know was that I managed to pack not only my Cancun necessities, but some items from Prague, Hawaii, Brussels AND Greece!! All in my not so fancy carry-on!! Let me explain a little more on why and how I was about to accomplish this amazing feat.

If you remember in my post “Pick one souvenir, and stick with it“, when I travel I don’t spend a lot of money on nonsense items and souvenirs. I stick to ornaments and then decorate my pretty Christmas tree during the holidays. However, there are always exceptions to rules and this is one of them. If you find something you LOVE and know you will USE it, then buy it. I don’t like “stuff” and I don’t like dragging a large amount of goodies with me when I’m traveling from city to city, so if I pick up something it has to be useful and special. When deciding what to pack for Cancun I came across some travel items, from all over the world, that I thought would be useful and not take up too much space! Here’s what I brought:

1. Prague – I’m obsessed with chapstick and always make sure I have some within my nearest reach. Since my sister and I did a Beer Tour in Prague, I thought it only made sense that I purchase beer chapstick from Czech Beer Cosmetics company! I came across this store randomly on the way back to the hotel and brought home lip balm for all of my friends. I normally don’t bring too many gifts home, but these were inexpensive and small so they hardly took up space in my carry-on. Since I purchased over 10 small items, they threw in Beer Shampoo too! My remaining showers in Eastern Europe improved instantly!

Czech Beer Lip Balm

Czech Beer Lip Balm

2. Hawaii – Any part of a beach trip, in my opinion, requires a sarong! They don’t take up too much space and are the perfect cover-up because you can wear them in all sorts of different ways. My favorite sarong was actually a gift from one of my close friends who used to live in Hawaii. Every time I see the bright pink and red flowers, I remember that moment that she gave this to me. It’s such a simple gift that will be used over and over again! On the trip to Cancun, I used it as a beach towel and it was perfect.

Sarong from Hawaii

Sarong from Hawaii

3. Brussels – This next item was also a gift, but this time from my sister. In 2013, my sister traveled to Brussels and had to make the obvious stop to see the little peeing man, otherwise known as the Brussels landmark – Manneken Pis. What she didn’t realize was that there was a whole museum dedicated to this little man’s clothes! There’s actually over 800 different outfits that have been dedicated from countries all around the world. I wouldn’t say that this was on her “to-do” list, but it definitely would have been on mine so that’s why she backtracked and went. She brought me back a deck of playing cards that I like to take on my trips in case I have some downtime. Easy to store so in the carry-on they went!

Manneken Pis playing cards from Brussels

Manneken Pis playing cards from Brussels

4. Greece – My close friend and I visited Greece in October 2013 and had the most relaxing week of stuffing our faces with seafood, watching the Santorini sunsets and laying on the beach. On our last day we took the ferry back to Athens in hopes of seeing the Acropolis. After what seemed like an episode from “The Amazing Race,” we arrive in Athens and found the Acropolis closed. We were so disappointed, but determined to get the only other thing on our Athens list crossed off – Visiting the Poet Sandal Maker. We raced to the shop and hesitantly went down a dark alley in hopes of the famous man who has designed sandals for celebrities such as John Lennon, Sarah Jessica Parker, Jackie Kennedy, and Sophia Loren. We quickly picked out a few pairs and on our way we went! Since i knew I was going to get some beach time in, I packed them in the carry-on!

Sandals from Greece

Sandals from Greece

What are some of your favorite items you like to pack for vacation?

Snorkeling with Sea Turtles!! (…and one scary Barracuda)

It’s very cold in Chicago right now so I’m happy to report that I’m gettin’ the heck out of here and going to Cancun!! I recently got an amazing new job, and a company-wide 2014 kick-off in Cancun is just one more perk! After all the hobnobbing and work presentations I’m hoping for at least one day at the beach, but I know it won’t quite be the same as my first trip to Mexico.

In 2010, my sister and I took our second “Sisters Trip” to Riviera Maya, Mexico. It was the first time we had been to Mexico and the first time either one of us had stayed at an all-inclusive resort. We had a blast at the Ocean Maya Royal resort and immediately headed to the activities desk to view all the suggested adventures. Options included an all-day tour of Chichen Itza (Nope, that was already booked on our own prior to arrival),  Swimming with the sharks (Hell No!! Are you crazy?) and Snorkeling with Sea Turtles (Duh! Sounds amazing, sign us up!).

We booked the tour and had an incredible time snorkeling for the first time, in clear shallow waters, with a handful of sea turtles. All was going just perfectly until we saw it…a GIANT, SCARY, BARRACUDA!!!! AHHH!

Scary Barracuda

Scary Barracuda wanting to eat us, probably.

Luckily it stayed right under a mid-sized boat the whole time, but I sware if the turtles weren’t there it would have had us for lunch. Seriously.

Alright, now for some less-scary pictures of the beautiful and peaceful sea turtles! I didn’t have my go-to Sony RX100 Camera, but I think the inexpensive underwater camera captured some really great shots! If you ever see this type of activity as an option while vacationing, I strongly suggest you sign up!

Enjoy!!

The most amazing thing I ate in Prague! (Hint: It has cinnamon and sugar on it!!)

I’m going to ask you to do something very important, but a bit touristy, on your next trip.

Take pictures of your food!!

Sure, it’s a tad bit embarrassing to whip out your phone or camera and snap away at your dish, but how else are you going to remember how you gained all those well-deserved pounds?! When I came back from a two week trip to Italy, I ONLY posted pictures of the food I ate. Almost 1/3 of those pics were of gelato! ….no judging!

In celebration of all the well-deserved pounds I’ve maybe gained, I’m starting off a new section of my blog, Travel Bites, with the most amazing thing I ate in Prague, Czech Republic.

Introducing….the Trdelnik!

Cinnamon & Sugar Trdelnik

Cinnamon & Sugar Trdelnik

I found this tasty treat all around Prague and it’s absolutely delicious. It’s a perfect pick-me-up for when you’ve been walking all day and just want to sit on a park bench and relax. They come in different varieties, but my favorite was the cinnamon & sugar one.

Important: Make sure you buy them FRESH! They are much better when they come right off the hot stick.

Trdelnik in the making!

Trdelnik in the making!

Fresh Trdelnik from a bakery next to the Charles Bridge

Fresh Trdelnik from a bakery next to the Charles Bridge

If you’re curious to know how they actually prepare these treats, you can click on this Trdelnik YouTube Video I found.

Feeling extra ambitious and a visit to Prague isn’t in your near future? You can try and make these at home! I found a great recipe from Pauline’s Cookbook that you can try. Let me know how it goes!

To see a collection of my favorite Travel Bites, check out my Eat, Drink, Travel Pinterest board.

My SUPER Awesome Travel Map of Istanbul!

Something surprising happened after I visited Istanbul in April 2013…I came back feeling like a more empowered traveler! Even through I’ve been traveling for years, it was a trip filled with “firsts.” My first time traveling to a Muslim country, first time visiting a mosque, first time staying in one city for a whole week and my first time having two days all to myself. It’s my life’s mission to get the word out on how absolutely AMAZING this city is.

To get inspired, visit my Istanbul Pinterest Board “Turkish Delight!”

Here’s another “first” for me, and again it involves Istanbul! My first Custom Travel Map! I’ve pinned the highlights from my trip including Hotels, Tourist Attractions, Food/Beverage Recommendations and Important Transportation stops. My hope is that you’ll use this as a visual guide for when you book your future trip to Istanbul.

What I crossed off my non-existent ‘Bucket List’ in 2013

This week I decided to look through some of the blogs I follow as a activity given to me from WordPress via ‘Zero to Hero’ Challenge (30 days to a better blog in 2014). I stumbled on something that really caught my eye – 30 Tested Adventures for your 2014 Bucket List from Bucket List Publications.  It’s a collection of pictures to inspire you while you’re creating your 2014 Bucket List and you should all check it out ’cause it’s pretty amazing! (Thanks Lesley!)

There’s only one little problem to this….I don’t actually have an official Bucket List! ….Gasp!!

I like to think that I’m a very organized person and I travel quite a bit so I should technically have one, but I don’t. I’m more of a traveling free spirit and have some ideas on where I would like to go but most of my trips just kinda…happen. I’m officially changing this for 2014 and going to focus on something more…official. Check out my newly expanded Andiamo Pinterest Page! For 2014 I’m hoping to cross off Carlsberg Visiting Center for a Brew Tour, Pulpit Rock in Norway, Vasa Museum in Stockholm, Tivoli Park in Copenhagen, stay in the town of Bergen to view the fjords of Norway and see all the amazing architecture in Dubai!

For a recap of what I crossed off my non-existent Bucket List in 2013…see below!

If you have a ‘Bucket List’ Pinterest Page, I want to follow it! Let me know the address and I’ll be sure to check it out!