From alligators to ghosts, a rundown of my recent vacation to New Orleans, Louisiana.
Traveling can be a luxury but you can definitely go abroad without spending out of your means. There are plenty of sites that share low flight fares and Groupon is a great source for package deals. Last September I traveled to Eastern Europe, visiting Budapest, Prague and Vienna and I only spent less than $1200 for the entire trip. Here’s my breakdown.
I swear! I only paid $30 for the entire flight. I received a $1000 voucher from Delta Airlines due to an overbook flight. I took the offer and had to stay one evening in Atlanta, but it was worth it.
I spent 14 days in three different countries and decided the cheapest option would be to stay at Airbnb. I rented a room in each location and most were less than $80 a night. I also made sure every place I stayed offered breakfast so I eliminated purchasing one meal a day.
For 4 nights in Budapest - $284.94
1 night in Budapest - $75.00
4 nights in Prague - $202.95
4 nights in Vienna 142.95
To travel to each country, I opt to take trains to each destination. I also splurged and purchased first class seats for each train ride, but you can definitely purchase economy seating to keep your spending as low as possible.
For a 6 hour train from Budapest to Prague - $176
4 hour train ride from Prague to Vienna - $142
2 ½ hour ride from Vienna to Budapest - $93
Overall I spent $1146.79
Another way I cut cost of spending, I used public transportation instead of using taxis or shuttle buses. Most were $2 round trip, and many locals are happy to help you get around or your hosts at the Airbnb.
How are some ways you’ve been able to cut costs for traveling?
My last leg of my solo trip is to Budapest. My friend visited Budapest last year and told me how much I would love the city, which prompted me to book this trip altogether (as well as Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel). I stayed at a beautiful Airbnb in the heart of the city with had a desk by the window with a gorgeous view of the city. It was the perfect spot for a writer.
The first night I walked around the neighborhood and witnessed the city's breathtaking skyline.
Budapest is split by two cities Buda and Pest. I decided to take a day tour of the Buda side where I visited the Fisherman's Bastion, Buda Castle, Matthias Church, and the Holy Trinity Statue.
This is a statue of Andras Hadik. Allegedly, if you rub the horse's testicles you receive good luck. I did not test this theory so I'm not sure if it's completely true or not.
I loved the architect of the Fisherman's Bastion and decided to take a selfie but each time I attempted, tourists kept getting in the photo. I settle on cropping the photo.
The big part of this trip was trying as much local food as I could. I had Hungarian beef stew with a delicious duck liver spread. Never thought I'd have duck liver and enjoy it.
Locals made me aware that you're not Hungarian until you take a shot of Palinka.
I of course had to test it out. It tasted like rubbing alcohol and I had to wash the taste away with coke, but now I'm Hungarian.
Toured the Pest side of the city (the area of which I stayed) and visited the Hungarian Parliament, Soviet 2nd WW II memorial, St.Stephen's Basilica and a statue of Ronald Reagan (?!?).
I wish I had stayed a few more days to squeeze in a visit to a bath house and to experience the legendary Budapest nightlife.
However, overall I had a fantastic time visiting Eastern Europe-- cities I never thought I'd see in my life. And now I have the itch of figuring out where my next solo trip will take me. Maybe somewhere in South America, Asia, or South Africa. Any suggestions?
When I told my friends that not only would I spent two weeks in Europe but also as #SingleBrittny, all of them rejoiced. My one friend, Jack, even found the SNL skit "Dongs All Over the World" and declared it as my official vacation anthem. As I touched down in Prague, I re-opened my Tinder account (I have such a love-hate relationship with that app) and started exploring my options. However, after a few swipes, I encountered THIS in Prague. I just couldn't do it and never opened the app again during my stay.
Fast forward to Vienna and Budapest, I legit embodied the lyrics, "I'm a modern day Columbus and I claim this dong for me." I felt like a kid in a candy store with countless amounts of options. I knew it would be a success because the first song I heard when I arrived to Vienna was Britney Spears' "Hot As Ice."
By the end of my stay in Vienna and the last leg of my trip in Budapest, I was getting countless date offers on Tinder and in person. I ended up going on three dates in a row. I could have gone for four but I was mentally exhausted from men (don't you hate when they do that?).
Let's break down each man/date:
The Austrian Novelist
First off his Tinder was very mysterious, so obviously I swiped right because I'm the kind of person who is too impatient while reading a novel and cut to the end to see what happens. Even though we connected on Tinder, he had originally said he was unable to meet with me due to personal plans. But Saturday morning I got a message from him that stated: "What are the chances of meeting an attractive writer? I can't pass up that opportunity." *Heart eyes emoji.* So we set up a date.
I'm not into blondes, however the Novelist was a very tall and handsome and I was into it. We met at a really cute bar near to where I was staying. Automatically he received cool points for not judging me for ordering like a 7 year old, after several hours of not eating from my day trip to Salzburg. He introduced me to delicious Austrian red wine, we bonded over being writers and the constant struggle of being creative, and other random things ones discuss on a first date. He explained to me a clinic in Switzerland named Dignitas, where people pay to commit suicide. I was intrigued but confused as to why anyone would willingly pay to commit suicide when you can do it for free. Aside from the melancholy topic, we had great conversations and even hotter make out session in the rain after we shut down the bar. Afterwards, I was totally in lust over the Novelist but the next morning I was off to Budapest which meant on to the next one.
The Italian Lover
Oh how I adored the Italian. He was such an interesting character to hang out with for a few hours. Before we met, he immediately bombarded me with basketball knowledge after I told him I live in Cleveland and he told me I live in Lebronland (which is basically true). He was a huge fan of hip-hop and expressed how much he wanted to visit places in America where hip-hop is known for, especially Compton. I have never heard anyone say the one place they want to visit in America would be....COMPTON. We met for dinner at an Italian restaurant where I chowed down on bolognese and sipped on multiple glasses of Hungarian wine (I drank a lot of wine in Europe. I'm surprised they're not low on stock in Eastern Europe). We had a great discussion on the many differences between America and Europe like "why do we call a bill, a check?" and "why do you call salami pepperoni?" (fun fact, pepperoni in Italy is simply just peppers) I of course didn't have the answers for any of these questions.
Since I knew the Italian loved hip-hop, I had to ask who were his top 5 favorite rappers. His answer: 1. Tupac, 2. 50 Cent, 3. Nelly, 4. Chingy and I can't remember the fifth because I was still stuck on the fact he had Nelly and Chingy on his top 5 list. I forgave him for his odd list because he was so handsome. However I did have to mention before the night was over that I have never met anyone who had Nelly or Chingy in their top 5 which he found alarming. Is Nelly and Chingy a huge deal in Europe and we have no clue about it?
Southern (Not So) Charming
How I ended up meeting another American on my "Dongs All Over the World" is beyond me and actually I'm quite mad at myself. I can get an American any time I want, and a southern one at that. But we both wanted to check out Hungarian food and drinks together which made me accept the offer. That being said, he doesn't rank high like all the European men I had met prior to him. He wasn't that much interesting, our conversations were kind of dull and I was reaching to find interesting topics to discuss to the point that my brain went on low fuel. He picked a restaurant called "Getto Giulyas," which at first I low key felt offended he wanted to take me to a place called "getto," but it had great reviews on Google. To both of our surprises it was a romantic wine restaurant, which would have been perfect with anyone BUT him. We both ordered a beef stew and tried duck liver for the first time, both were amazing. Then later that night I tried a Hungarian must, a shot of Palinka which is an awful liquor that all Hungarians know is bad but are very proud of. They say you haven't had an Hungarian experience until you've had the shot. Well... I took the shot and was chasing coke cola for the rest of the night to get rid of the after taste. Even with the strong shot didn't make him more enjoyable. I had way more fun afterwards being drunk on Facebook live with my favorites in the Dome.
Then I returned back to America and realized that my love/hate relationship with Tinder really is just the quality of men on there. European men were so much more chivalrous, respectful, upfront of what they wanted, and had worldly experiences and knowledge. It was just a nice change compared to what I've experience with Tinder in Cleveland. But it was nice to date elsewhere and feel really good about myself for a few days.
After my eventful time in Prague, it was off to Vienna, Austria. I embarked on a 4 1/2 hour train ride from Prague to Vienna, which I mostly slept on. I spent the first day being lazy and eating at a Lebanese/Italian restaurant. The following day I went on a walking tour of the city and saw what Vienna had to offer. During the tour, we saw Hofburg Palace which was the birthplace of Marie Antionette, Parliament, and their gorgeous National Library.
I went on a day trip to Salzburg which was about 3 hours west of Vienna. I wish I took pictures of the rest stop restaurant we stopped at because it looked like an euro Cracker Barrel which I didn't even know was humanly possible. Also, no one told me Salzburg would be hella cold and rainy compared to the nice weather in Vienna. With just a sweatshirt to keep me warm, I was cold and damp for most of the day.
While in Salzburg, I visited where Mozart lived. His childhood home was a small little museum that showed sheet music he composed, his pianos he had over the years, love letters he sent his wife and other cool things he owned during his lifetime. I can't say I'm well versed in Mozart's music other than his famous songs, but Amadeus is one of my favorite movies (which was filmed in Prague and I saw some of the filming locations while on my Prague city tour). There was a second home over the little river where Mozart's family lived once he made money for the family to afford a bigger place to live. However, the building is a replica as the original was destroyed during World War II.
Salzburg is also well known for the Von Trapp home and is where many of the iconic scenes of the Sound of Music were filmed. Unfortunately, I didn't see their home but did visit most of the filming locations of the Sound of Music. I have so many fond memories of watching the film and Broadway show with my family growing up that it was surreal to walk the same paths as Julie Andrews. The only time I wish I wasn't alone on my trip was this time so I could have reenacted the "Do Re Mi" scene on the steps.
One of my favorite moments was this sweet Dutch lady telling me, "You have a special President in America," she said. "I just loved Barack and Michelle Obama, I really miss them." GIRL, me too!
Last year on a whim, I decided to purchase a cheap round trip ticket and traveled to Amsterdam, Paris and Brussels on my own. It was freeing, and liberating to be able to travel to several countries on my own, not knowing the native languages, and to figure it out all on my own. I enjoyed it so much, I decided to take another solo trip and visit some more new countries I've never been to before. Since last Saturday, I've been touring Eastern Europe and seeing part of the world I never thought I'd see. Aside from traveling and broadening my horizons, this trip was to self reflect, and understand the woman I am becoming in my thirties. But enough of that sappy stuff, let's see what I did at my first stop, Prague, Czech Republic.
The moment I stepped out of the train station into Prague, I was amazed by the architecture. The buildings were stunning and meticulous with how they were structured, every detail creating such gorgeous architecture that was simply breathtaking. I'm such an American that seeing such gorgeous, old style buildings resembled something almost unreal to me; I had stepped into Disney World, where they have fantasy buildings and sets to make you believe you're in New York City in the 1920's.
Aside from roaming around the city and understanding my "home" for a few days, I did some shopping. I couldn't help myself, especially since there were two malls near where I was staying. The most important item I purchased was an Adidas sweatshirt which was highly needed during the evening. My bomber jacket wasn't going to keep me warm with the low 60 degree temperatures at night.
During my second day, I toured the old and new city of Prague, where I saw most of the Prague Castle and the famous Charles Bridge.
I even had my own Britney Spears "Slave 4 U" moment with a yellow python. It was cute and fun at first, but then the head started getting closer to my face and all I could think about was the movie Anaconda and how my life could come to an end at any moment. (mind you, there was also a giant snake behind me as well.) It was quite possible.
My last full day in Prague I went to the Museum Kampa which had an Manolo Blahnik exhibit, showing off some of his most iconic shoes, drawings, and even some costumes from the film Marie Antoinette, which he was the head shoe designer for. I had died and gone to shoe heaven. I felt I was finally becoming Carrie Bradshaw, I couldn't take home all the fabulous shoes, but at least I was in the same proximity of them.
As a big Beatles fan, I visited the John Lennon Wall, a long wall with graffiti drawings and words inspired by love, peace, and happiness. With the current political climate in America, it was nice to escape the madness and take in some positivity, and sing joyous songs with complete strangers. (Shout out to my Kate Spade purse that found its way into most of my pics.)
Is it just me or is summer flying by. Or maybe I’m just having way too much for, but whatever it may be, I am nowhere near ready to embark my trip to solo dolo trip overseas. I swear it felt like it would be forever from now but as the days creep up, I’m wondering where time went. If you haven’t noticed, I’m a huge music love and have a huge passion sharing playlists. If you’re ever looking for a playlist, I’m the girl for you. I create a playlist for everything, when I need time to unwind, songs to block out loud colleagues when I’m trying to focus, the soundtrack to be my runway tunes aka songs I strut to when I’m walking around Cleveland, OH. Of course, I created a playlist not only for myself but for my fellow travelers. I prefer to compile chill out tunes to help me relax while flying but also help with my anxiety. I will also share a few podcasts that I’ve been listening to that you can add to your queue while you’re at your layover.
Here are 3 tracks to maybe persuade you into checking out my playlist
Don’t Touch My Hair | Solange
A Seat at the Table really resonated with me on so many levels, as being a proud black woman and as someone trying to figure out who I am. “Don’t Touch My Hair” is the first song to lyrically explain how important my hair means to me, especially hearing it from another black woman with natural hair.
Maiden Voyage/ Everything In Its Right Place | Robert Glasper
This isn’t your mama’s jazz music. Robert infuses hip-hop over smooth jazz melodies. Robert beautifully covers Radiohead’s “Everything In Its Right Place’.
Tsunami | Katy Perry
I know it’s popular to hate on Katy Perry at the moment but there are some decent tracks on Witness. If you can overlook that it’s another Katy song that uses metaphors for sex and silly cliché lyrics, “Tsunami” is a stand out track for Perry.
Podcasts I’m Currently Subscribed To
Hosted by Real Housewives enthusiasts Casey Wilson and Danielle Schneider. The duo gives a hilarious take on the latest episodes of the Housewives but also share equally hilarious stories from their personal lives. Bitch Sesh was my introduction into listening to podcast but it also changed my life. One day I will open up about how special this podcast means to me on a personal level.
You can listen here
Watch What Crappens
Everyone who knows me, knows I’m obsessed with all things Housewives and housewives adjacent shows to the point my TV is always on Bravo. Watch What Crappens can be difficult to get into with all the different imitations the hosts does and inside jokes, but once you get it, it’s hilarious. So many times I’ve listened to the episodes on a flight and bust out laughing and immediately embarrass myself.
You can listen here
As much as I love listening to Housewives recaps, I sometimes feel like it could potentially lower my IQ. Which is why I started seeking more intellect podcasts. Two NYT culture writers Jenna Wortham and Wesley Morris dissect the hottest topics from the week that was discussing politics and pop culture. Jenna and Wesley will passionately discuss how the Charlotteville protests personally affected them but also giddily discuss all things Beyoncé.
You can listen here
You Must Remember This
Katrina Longworth beautifully explores the lives of old Hollywood biggest stars and scandals. Recently she shares the parallels of actresses Jane Fonda and Jean Seberg in nine episodes. If you’re a movie buff or love the allure of old Hollywood, this is the perfect podcast for you.
You can listen here
Desus and Mero are the only thing helping me cope with the current political climate. The Bronx duo always find humor in all the craziness this country is experiencing which also reminds you how incredibly ridiculous we must look to other countries but also it’s okay to laugh through the pain. Plus, listening to them reminds me so much of being back home in New York City.
You can listen here
What podcasts are you listening to?
Check out my Transatlantic playlist below. Enjoy!
Traveling has always been a part of my life. Fortunately, my family has made an effort to travel (most of the time) to a new place every year together and has been our tradition since I was a little kid. As I have grown older, I have taken the time to travel without my family to see different places I’ve always wanted to see. The most common question I receive is “how can you afford it?” Yes, traveling can sometimes be very expensive and seen to many as a luxury but it doesn’t have to be that way. I am a budgetista when it comes to travel and love to find the cheapest way see a new city. I reached out to travel agent, Rebecca Mitchell, to give Pierre into My Life’s readers some tips to be able to be a global trotter on a budget.
Flexibility Is Hot
“Be willing to travel during the less busy months. September and May are great for this because the weather is pretty similar to the summer months, but you'll find better deals. Also, be willing to travel Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. The savings on both airfare and lodging can be significant.”
Alternative Lodging Ideas
“Luxury can wait, unless you intend to just stay and enjoy the amenities at your hotel, you don't need to stay in luxurious comfort. Try an Airbnb or a nice hotel that has free breakfast. You can visit those luxurious hotels and Snap and Instagram from the lobby or bar. No one will ever know.”
Snack on the Go
“Snack like you're in kindergarten - instead of going out for each meal, snack as you tour around. You'll get to sample more of the local culture this way and save money.”
Seek out a Professional Planner
“Use a travel agent - sure, you can research and do everything yourself, but why not have someone with experience take care of those details for you? Travel agents are paid by the travel partners they represent, so it does not cost you any more to use a travel agent than it would if you book it yourself. Plus, you'll have an expert in your corner from the planning stages through your trip.”
Use Your ‘Rents As An Excuse To Travel
“Get someone else to pay for it - no, really. Multigenerational travel is the hottest trend in travel right now. Encourage your parents to take that big trip they've been talking about. They fulfill their desire for family time and you'll get a free trip, win/win.”
Rebecca Mitchell is a Travel Agent with FTM Travel and is always looking for her next adventure. She specializes in Disney Destinations, but she can help you with any destination around the world and would love to turn your vacation dreams into your dream vacation. You can get in touch with her via Facebook.
In June's roundup I explained how and why I decided to declare this summer as the #SummeofBrittny. Here are some of my favorite moments throughout the month of July!
Bienvenidos a Miami
After weeks of just Netflix and Chill at the end of June, I decided on a whim to visit my friend Natalia in Miami for the forth of July weekend and it was the best decision ever.
The food. The weather. The company! All worth it.
Natalia took me to Wynwood, the art district in Miami. Everywhere you looked was covered in beautiful artwork.
"TRAP Karaoke is like going to church…but instead of 'Amazing Grace,' you’re singing ‘Back That Azz Up.'" - anonymous. There is no other way to describe the experience of Trap Karaoke. My girlfriends and I watched several Clevelanders get on stage and rap like they were 2 Chainz and we had the time of our lives.
You couldn't go through the month of July and not gather your girl squad to see the hilarious film Girl Trip. We laughed until we cried, we swooned over Malik, and cried over Ryan's keynote speech. Truly a special moment with your girlfriends.
In two short weeks, I will be heading to Europe for 14 days, and I have already begun mentally preparing myself for the 9 hour flight to Budapest. As I have gotten older, and started traveling and flying more frequently, I have learned what helps to keep anxiety down, while en route to your destination.
1. Facial Wipes and Baby Wipes
For most international flights, you will depart early evening and arrive to your destination in the morning. In case you’re not aware, there are no showers on the flights. I recommend packing travel size baby wipes or facial/makeup wipes, and heading to the bathroom 30 minutes before you arrival to clean your face to help take off any excess dirt your face has produced while on the flight. Once you arrive to your destination, head to the restroom and use the baby wipes to give yourself a bird bath. Hey, you do the same with babies, why can’t you do it as an adult?
2. Bring an Extra Pair a Clothes in Your Carry On.
I like to dress comfortably for long flights which normally means leggings, baggy shirt and a sweatshirt. But once I arrive to my destination (after my bird bath), I change into something more stylish.
Keeping yourself hydrated is key. Bring an empty bottle with you to the airport and fill the bottle up at a fountain while you’re heading to your gate. It’s easy to lose water weight while on your flight, so occasionally have some water to keep yourself hydrated. Drinking/swallowing frequently can also help when your ears begin to pop!
4. Sleep Essentials
Some airlines will provide you with eye masks and a pillow, but to be on the safe side, carry an eye mask, a travel size pillow, and even ear plugs to drown out any unwanted sounds. If you’re like me, I need complete darkness and silence to get a good amount of restful sleep, and I always have the best luck when it comes to sitting next to someone who needs to keep the overhead light on for the entire flight (grr, hate those people!).
I’m not into purchasing in flight Wi-Fi, because it’s nice to be disconnected for a few hours, but I definitely need something to occupy my time. International flights normally have a wide array of films and TV shows, but I get anxious and can never settle on what to watch. Instead, I plan ahead and make sure my iPhone has everything I need to keep me entertained. I create a playlist on Spotify with about 500 songs (enough tracks to skip through and not repeat any songs), and I download about 2-3 episodes of my favorite podcasts to listen to.
My favorite portion to prepare for any travel is to pick out snacks to eat on the journey. Sometimes I will purchase junk food at the local drug store the day before and pack it in my backpack, but if I slack, I will splurge and buy all the goodies at Hudson News. I also always make sure to get ginger ale just in case I get motion sickness on the flights, because my stomach never matured with my body.
If you’re like any normal millennial and glued to your mobile devices, then you already know how important chargers are. Make sure to pack your charger in your carry on and also charge up your external battery as well. You can purchase a portable charger that works with any USB port on Amazon for just a few bucks. Most international flights have outlets for you to charge your phone, but again with my luck, I have definitely sat at one where my outlet didn’t work.
It may sound weird, but if you’re sitting in one spot for 8+ hours, it’s a good idea to get up periodically to keep your blood flowing. Every few hours get up and walk the aisle, go to the back of the plane and flex your legs. Personally I like to do squats and stretch my legs. Flight attendants have probably seen way worse, so no need to be bashful, get that blood flowing!
Earlier this year I went through a rough breakup and after months of grieving, I decided it was time to get over the dude and focus on me, myself, and I. I created the hashtag #SummerOfBrittny to be the personification of living my best life. I was going to do whatever I want, when I want, and how I want. I was going to learn to stand up for myself, build up my confidence and try to take in life as much as possible and it has become one of my favorite summers ever.
Since #SummerOfBrittny was such a success, I decided to share some of my favorite moments throughout each month, starting with June!
Foster the People
I jump started #SummerOfBrittny taking in a live show of one of my favorite bands, Foster the People with my close friend Jackie. Foster the People headlined at the legendary Agora Theatre and Ballroom venue in Cleveland, OH. This was my second time seeing them, I saw them back in 2011 but they continue to put on an amazingly fun show that had us dancing the entire night. Plus they perform tracks from their new album 'Sacred Hearts Club' which made me immediately love the album before ending hearing it in its entirety.
The Annual Pierre Vacation
Every year my family gets together and travels to somewhere we have never been before (for the most part). This year our destination was Málaga, Spain and the Canary Islands.
Our favorite restaurant in Málaga, Spain was the Copacabana. They had fresh fish that was absolutely mouth watering and our server was super handsome and so sweet. Nothing better than good food and nice eye candy.
Wake Up and Wine Up
My mom and I decided to take the day tour to a winery in the Canary Islands. We visited Viñedos Angola in Vilaflor in Santa Cruz Tenerife. The winery was so high in the mountains we were above the clouds. We arrived to the vineyard at 10 am and immediately they pour us glasses of wine. I hadn’t even had breakfast yet. During the tour we were instruction on the proper way to produce the finest wine. One important thing is the Spaniards are very heavy handed when it comes to giving us samples of each wine (which was around 10 bottles of wine). We were also treated to moonshine that was 68% proof and tasted like nail polish remover. Yuck! But overall an amazing experience with delicious wine.
I met a very hot man on this very exclusive dating app called Tinder. He was about 41 years old, super handsome like drop dead gorgeous and Australian. Only I could go all the way to Spain and not hook up with a Spaniard. Brittny got her groove back!
Touch the Sky
My sister, niece and I climbed the Volcano Teide, where we were 12,000 ft high.
Non-Stop Sight Seeing
My family can’t go anywhere without taking a day tour. We spent 12 hours touring the entire island of the Canary Island.
Since moving to Cleveland, I gained 40 lbs. Once my family decided where our vacation spot would be, I was determined to get a thot body. After a few months of personal training sessions, Zumba and strength training classes, I finally started to really love my body and curves. Close enough for me to be a z list Instagram model right?…kind of.
The family decided to make a pit stop in Canada before heading back to America. We visited Niagara Falls and rode the Maid of the Mist to see the beautiful falls close up.
After loads of traveling all over the place, I took the rest of the month of June binge watching Riverdale, 13 Reasons Why, and Difficult People. There are no photo evidence of that.
After getting my groove back during my vacation with the hot masseuse, Tupac’s “I Get Around” was my anthem to keep me feeling myself. Stay tune for July's roundup!