Greece, Travel

My Favorite Greek Cosmetic and Beauty Products

February 11, 2019

Greek Cosmetics

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click on the link and make a purchase, I may earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

For the past three years, I have gone to Greece, and each time I go I discover another great Greek cosmetic or beauty product. As in many European countries, you can find upscale brands of beauty products in the pharmacies. Don’t worry; I am not becoming a beauty blogger. However, I think it is helpful to share this with you for two reasons. One is, so you don’t have to search for good brands for the basic needs of shampoo, lotion, etc. Two, I think these things make better souvenirs since you will actually use them.

Korres

Korres was the first Greek beauty brand I discovered. I love the smell of cotton, and I found their brand when I saw a lotion called Pure Cotton. I also noticed they had a perfume called Pure Cotton as well! When I left Greece, I had bought both of them on one of the Greek Islands. The smell is heavenly and not overpowering. The lotion was a body butter and while thick absorbed quickly. My skin appreciated the moisture after two weeks in the Greek sun.

At the Athens airport in duty-free, there is a whole Korres shop. Since I had some Euros left over, I bought some colored lip balm that went well with my tan. Then I also found an anti-aging body oil that smelled of Jasmine. That went in my basket as well! The oil was great for putting on after a shower.

The next year, I discovered the Melissa stick. I had a few bug bites after my last trip, and the Melissa stick is an anti-itch formula made of natural ingredients. It goes on all my trips now.

Korres also makes shampoos, conditioners, make-up, hair color and some natural health remedies. I have only tried the throat lozenges. You can really only find these items in the pharmacies and maybe the store in the Athens airport.

Some of the Korres products are available at Sephora but not the body lotions and shower gels. It is mostly their skincare line, which I haven’t tried yet. You can find some of their products on Amazon as well if you can’t wait till you get to Greece to try them.

Apivita

Apivita was my discovery of Greek cosmetics this year. I had not brought lots of shampoo and conditioner on this trip knowing I would be in Greece long enough to need to find a local brand to purchase.  I have oily roots and dry ends. One day, I was looking and found Apivita had a shampoo and conditioner specifically for oily roots and dry ends! It is the first product like this I have seen that actually works for me. I could go for several days without my hair looking greasy at the roots. It also smells of rosemary!

Apivita also makes body lotions and some anti-aging products. The other product I have loved from them has been the facial scrubs. I had been in Greece for so many months, my skin was suffering from all the sun exposure, my fault. I was looking for a scrub that would do more than just exfoliate. Apivita has a Bilberry brightening scrub and mask that is great. It is a bit expensive but a little goes a long way.

Unfortunately, I have not found Apivitia in any US beauty stores yet. However, some products are available on Amazon like the Korres products. You may be able to find it in some other European countries though as they have a search function for stores on their website.

Olive Era

Olive Era is a brand I found in the Sofitel Athens Airport Hotel. It was in the bathroom for the toiletries. If you love the smell of olive leaves then you will love this lotion! It smells like an olive grove with some citrus. I believe it is a spa product though as I haven’t seen it anywhere else. I can’t even find it online, which is a shame as I only took one lotion bottle from the hotel and there were two! This is definitely a hidden gem and something to look out for. There was also shampoo and conditioner of Olive Era in the hotel. They sold full-size bottles in the spa though. now I think I am on a mission. According to the label, it is made in Crete, so Crete may be on my next trip to Greece!

What about you, do you have any favorite Greek cosmetic or beauty brands?

Greek cosmetics

Greek cosmetics

Travel

How I Make Travel a Priority

February 4, 2019

How I Make Travel a Priority

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click on the link and make a purchase, I may earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

I frequently get asked how I have traveled for so long or how I afford to continue to travel. The other day someone commented that they were going to move their business to a foreign country so that they could travel more. What many people don’t realize is that while I was living in Qatar, I was working full-time and continuing to travel up to three months a year. Since leaving Qatar, I have continued to travel. This is all possible because I make travel a priority.

At this point, many travel bloggers would tell you that they are going to tell you how you can do the same. I am not going to tell you that. Everyone’s situation is different. I am a single woman with no kids, and that inherently makes my life more flexible than others. What I will do is make suggestions on how my strategies can work for you to make travel a priority as well.

I Moved Abroad

How I Make Travel a Priority

Moving aboard was a priority for me for many years before I moved to Qatar. After living in the Turks and Caicos for about three months, I had met a few long term expats. They told stories of places they had lived and trips they had been on. I remember thinking to myself, “I am living my life wrong!” Not long after my return, I started applying for jobs abroad. It took about three years, but I eventually landed the role in Qatar.

This was a massive shift in my travel lifestyle. Not only was I living in a foreign country, but many other countries that I wanted to visit were also a much shorter flight than they had been when I was living in the US. Before I had even moved, I started making plans to travel. I moved to Qatar in August 2013, so I wasn’t planning on coming home for Christmas. I planned to spend Christmas in Rome, which was only a six-hour flight.

Over the four years of living there, the travel trend continued. I went to Greece, France, Thailand, Sri Lanka, and many more. All of these places were closer and easier to get to from Qatar than from the US making it much easier to plan a trip.

While moving abroad may not be an option for us all, you can take trips to countries that are nearer to you. Now that I am back in the US, I am planning on taking trips to Central America. Many of the flights from Dallas to popular cities in Central America are a 3 to 4-hour flight. Meaning, I can take a long weekend trip to Mexico if I want. Sometimes we fail to see the opportunities that are right in front of us or in this case, south of us!

Using My Vacation

How I Make Travel a Priority

I am a huge advocate for using your vacation. Using your vacation makes you more productive at work when you return. Scientists have even figured out how long your vacation should be for optimal relaxation, which is eight days. I was fortunate in my last several jobs as they had ample vacation time. In Qatar, I had 24 vacation days excluding holidays and sick time. If you average that out to 5 days in a week, then I was getting almost five weeks of vacation a year.

How did I use that to my advantage then? Well, the first year of my time in Qatar was not a full year, and I wasn’t about to take off from a job for two weeks that I had just started. However, I was itching to go somewhere almost immediately. Luckily, I was able to take a work trip to Belgium that helped.

The key here was using my vacation days wisely. I only took off one day to go on my trip to Rome and combined it with the days we already have for the semester break. As a result, I carried over five days of vacation over to the next year.

I continued to schedule trips around other scheduled holidays, and since I was usually a short flight away, many of my trips were only five days. However, I was able to see many countries this way and still come home for two weeks at Christmas time every year after 2013.

You can do this too. I know that Americans, on average, only get between 10 and 14 days of vacation a year making this more difficult. Choose vacations that are closer to home. Take vacations around built-in company days off. If you can’t afford to fly somewhere, choose a town nearby and take a staycation. Get away from the stress of work and daily chores and let a hotel pamper you.

Taking a Sabbatical

How I Make Travel a Priority

When I left Qatar, I had planned to travel and not work. There was no set time frame for how long I would travel. I had saved money while working in Qatar for this specific plan. I had no long how long it was going to take me to save enough for me to feel comfortable and when I originally arrived in Qatar, I had planned to stay as long as possible.

Then the travel bug hit! I was no longer satisfied with taking a two week holiday every few months, and the dream of traveling full-time became more urgent for me with each passing month. After doing some math and looking at my bank account, I decided it was time.

I left my job in Qatar at the end of my contract in June 2017. After returning home to bring my limited amount of things back, I flew out on a three-month trip. While I had specific destinations in mind, I knew I needed to be somewhat flexible to make decisions on places I wanted to go. All in all, I went to six countries during that time. Some countries were ones I revisited, and some were completely new.

Now, you may be thinking I can’t just quit my job and travel! I totally get that. Remember, I had no bills and no kids. But you might be able to do this too. Ask your company if you can take a short sabbatical. Even a month is a great start. If approached in the right way, you might be surprised at how many places are willing to let you have unpaid time off. They would much rather you take off for a month or two than have to hire and train a whole new employee, especially if you are a well-liked and reliable employee.

What Now?

As I had not been working since June 2017, I really needed to start working again. However, my focus has changed. I eventually want to be one of those “digital nomads.” However, my idea of nomading is more like move somewhere for a few months and then come home and then go somewhere else. In the meantime, I need to make some money and rebuild my savings.

For now, I am doing many things. I started taking on clients for digital marketing and SEO services in January and began working at Starbucks! Also, I am now working at Medium remotely, which I hope will help in my goals to nomad later. I have no idea how long it is going to take to begin my full-time travel dreams again, but if I can wait three years for an overseas job, then I can wait out this dream as well.

I hope this answer some questions and gives you some ideas. What else would you like to know?

How I Make Travel a Priority

How I Make Travel a Priority

Travel, United States

16 Amazing Things to do in Fort Worth

January 28, 2019

Things to do in Fort Worth

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click on the link and make a purchase, I may earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Even though I am from Dallas, I had not spent much time in Fort Worth until I moved there for a few years. It was then that I discovered there are tons to do in Fort Worth. This gateway to the West has many things going on and has more art museums than we do in Dallas!

1. Watch a Cattle Drive at the Fort Worth Stockyards

Things to do in Fort Worth

Have you ever wanted to see longhorn cattle up close? Get yourself to Fort Worth to see the twice-daily cattle drive. At 11 AM and 4 PM, they drive longhorn cattle through the streets of old town Fort Worth. It doesn’t take very long so make sure you are in the area right on time. If you want to get a close up look, you can visit the cattle in their pens in the Livestock Exchange Building. Drovers are available to answer questions after as well. This is a great activity for kids and there are tons of places to eat after the drive.

2. Enjoy some Tex-Mex

Things to do in Fort Worth

You can’t go to Fort Worth and not eat Tex Mex. In Fort Worth,  El Asadero, Taco Heads, and Joe T. Garcia’s. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but these are my personal favorites. If you go to Joe T. Garcia’s, there may be a line on the weekends. The menu is limited in size, but the food is good and the portions are huge. Our family of five will split two entrees sometimes. If the weather is nice, ask to sit in the garden.

3. Go to the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth

Things to do in Fort Worth

Surprisingly, the very western town of Fort Worth has a modern art museum. They have hosted some large traveling exhibits as well. Once, I saw Kaws there. Outside there is a large Richard Serra piece entitled, Vortex. They also have an Andy Warhol. It is one of the Marilyn Monroe pieces.

Adult admission is $16 and kids under 18 get in free.

4. Visit the Fort Worth Botanic Gardens

The Fort Worth Botanic Gardens are located not too far from downtown Fort Worth and is 110 acres of gardens. There is something going on here during every season. One of the biggest highlights is the Japanese Garden that is 7.5 acres filled with cherry trees, Japanese maples and bamboo bridges. There are koi fish in the ponds and it reminds me of Monet’s Giverny water lily ponds. There is also a monthly Japanese Tea Ceremony that takes place in the garden. The cost of the ceremony is $30. It is best to book this in advance.

Admission is free to most of the gardens. The Japanese Garden is $7 for adults and kids ages 4-12 are $4.

5. See a Rodeo at the Fort Worth Stockshow and Rodeo

Things to do in Fort Worth

The Fort Worth Stockshow and Rodeo is the oldest continuously running livestock show and rodeo. It runs for about three weeks starting in the middle of January every year. There is so much to see and do at the stockshow and rodeo. You can watch cattle be auctioned off, go shopping, see barrel racing, eat great food and ride some rides. Every day there is something going on. Admission varies from year to year and tickets to the rodeo are extra.

6. Go to the Amon Carter Museum of American Art

Things to do in Fort Worth

It isn’t all cows and horses in Fort Worth. The Amon Carter Museum of American Art is a museum must see. The museum features American art from the 19th and 20th century. One of their most famous collections is the Remington and Russell collection that allows these two great American artists to be compared to each other. Admission is free. Parts of the museum are undergoing renovation and the whole museum will be closed from June 3 to the end of August 2019.

7. Visit Sundance Square

Things to do in Fort Worth

While there is a square, Sundance Square is actually 35 blocks of downtown Fort Worth. It features shopping, eating and entertainment options. Many times there are events happening in the Sundance Square Plaza. You could spend the whole weekend here with plenty to do.

8. See Dinosaurs at the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History

Things to do in Fort Worth

The Fort Worth Museum of Science and History covers the science and history of Texas. It features Texas dinosaurs and ranching history. Also, it has the Omni Theater, which is an IMAX theater and a planetarium. While much of the museum is dedicated to children, many adults will also find it interesting. In full disclosure, I should tell you I worked here for about three years several years ago.

Admission is $16 for adults and kids, 2-18 are $13.

9. Explore the Fort Worth Water Gardens

Things to do in Fort Worth

Located in downtown Fort Worth is the Fort Worth Water Gardens. This interactive park is a large scale water installation. It is a nice place to relax and unwind. The sound of the water drowns out any city noise you might hear. Admission is free!

10. Tour the Kimball Art Museum

Yet another art museum in Fort Worth. This is one of my favorites. The Kimball Art Museum collection is small compared to many museums. The collections range from paintings, sculptures, antiquities and ceramics. It features two of Monet’s paintings. He is one of my favorites. The museum was recently expanded in order for the museum to expand its exhibition space.

General admission is free and there is sometimes a charge for special exhibitions.

11. Dance at Billy Bob’s Texas

Things to do in Fort Worth

One of the biggest dance clubs is Billy Bob’s Texas. Many famous country singers have started their careers here and many continue to play here. I have even seen Willie Nelson at Billy Bob’s. On Friday and Saturday nights, you can pay extra to see live bull riding. This is a prize event so the riders can win prize money.

12. Explore the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame

The National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame is the only museum to honor women of the American West. It includes artifacts, artists and musicians of women. Some names include Georgia O’Keeffe, Patsy Kline and Dale Evans. The museum is about to begin some renovations and will be closed from February 10 to March 8, 2019.

Admission is currently discounted due to the renovation. Adults admission is $5 and kids from 3-12 are $3.50.

13. Watch Money be Made at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing

Things to do in Fort Worth

All the money in the US is made in Washington DC and Fort Worth! In fact, billions of dollars are printed in Fort Worth every year at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. You can take yourself on a self-guided tour Tuesday through Friday from 8:30 t0 4:30. Best of all admission is free and reservations are not required. I remember going to this as a kid and loving it!

14. Eat Your Way Down Magnolia Avenue

Magnolia Avenue is probably the exact opposite of much of Fort Worth. Magnolia is full of places to eat and drink and sort of the hipster area of Fort Worth. There is one of my favorite bars there called The Usual, which serves prohibition era cocktails. There is a coffee shop and roastery called Avoca. There is even a vegan diner that serves great good called The Spiral Diner. You could spend all day here from breakfast to after dinner drinks and dancing. I would recommend eating here a few times if you are spending any length of time in Fort Worth.

15. Drink Local Beer at Rahr Brewery

Things to do in Fort Worth

Not too far from Magnolia is Fort Worth’s own craft brewery, Rahr. This brewery is a local favorite. The great thing here is that you can visit and get to try the beer. Each week there are tastings on Wednesdays and Saturdays. For $15 you get 3 pint glasses of beer and the pint glass to keep. You can also get a tour of the brewery. There are usually food trucks outside as well on these days and even live music!

16. Listen to Jazz at the Scat Jazz Lounge

One of the coolest things to do in Fort Worth is to hear live jazz at the Scat Jazz Lounge. The lounge is located in Sundance Square down an alley. While the focus is mainly jazz, they also show local musicians as well. Ticket prices vary and some nights there is no cover charge. You can make a reservation, which is a good idea if the musician is popular.

As you can see there is no shortage of things to do in Fort Worth and there is something for everyone.

Have you been to Fort Worth? What is your favorite thing to do there?

Things to do in Fort Worth Things to do in Fort Worth

All Photos courtesy of Visit Fort Worth.

Travel

Carnival Cruise Tips

January 21, 2019

Carnival Cruise Tips

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click on the link and make a purchase, I may earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Last week, I went on a Carnival cruise, and I was going to write about the whole cruise and the cruise ship. However, the Carnival Triumph we sailed on is about to be removed from service to be totally refitted. It will be renamed the Carnival Sunshine and should set sail again in April. So I will be giving some Carnival Cruise Tips instead so you can enjoy any Carnival cruise!

1. Bring your own wine

Each adult is allowed to bring one bottle of wine that is 750ml. The bottle must be brought in your carry-on, and you will have to show it upon boarding. My tip is to take it out before you get to check-in so you can quickly get through the process.

2. Bring a wine bottle opener

Even though I brought my own wine, I did not bring a bottle opener. If I took the bottle to the dining room, they were going to charge me $14 to open it! That was more than I paid for the bottle. Someone in our group bought one on board for $10 still outrageous, but at least we could open it. Bring your own, and you won’t have either of these issues. Another idea is to make sure your wine bottle has a screw top instead of a cork.

3. Bring earplugs

Carnival Cruise Tips

Carnival is known as the Fun Ships but should be known as the Party Ships. Every night there was a loud group of people in our hallway well after I had gone to bed. The first night, I got up and found my earplug that I never travel without. Others in my group wished they had brought some. Keep in mind this loudness is almost everywhere, especially by the main pool.

4. Pack pants and a jacket

Carnival Cruise Tips

The first day we left from New Orleans, it was only in the 50s, and it was very windy. It was cold on deck as well. At night the dining room was freezing. I was glad I had brought a cardigan and pants. Even the rooms were chilly, and you can only control the airflow speed, not the temperature.

5. Only bring a carry-on suitcase

You can check bags when you arrive, but they don’t guarantee their arrival in your room till around 6 pm. Which, if you want to change for the early dinner, then you need to have your clothes in a carry-on. I only brought a carry-on since it was a four-day cruise, however, I could have done seven days or more in my carry-on. Of course, this depends on how many elegant nights you are planning on attending and if you like to get very dressed up for those.

There isn’t much room for suitcase storage unless you put them under your bed. Having smaller bags means you can put them in the closet after you unpack. It also means you can leave the ship first when disembarking. If you check bags, you have to wait till your number is called to leave. It took me over an hour to get off at 8:30 AM, so it will probably get worse as the day goes on.

6. Pre-order bottled water for your room

The free water on the ship doesn’t taste very good, so if you are a big water drinker pre-order a package of water for your room. You can do this on Carnival’s website after you have checked-in. The pre-0rder price is much less than paying for bottles at the bars. If the taste doesn’t bother you, then bring a refillable water bottle.

7. Pay for things before the cruise

Many things, like the water, are cheaper if you pay for them beforehand. Internet was cheaper when purchased in advance. You can also buy drink packages at a discounted rate before the cruise. Excursions are not less expensive, but the more popular ones will sell out fast once you are on board. You can book shore excursions in advance as well online.

8. Order room service

Carnival Cruise Tips

We ordered coffee for our room every day. It was a nice treat to have fresh coffee brought to the room before we left. I am not a morning person, so I need some caffeine to face a ship full of people. Room service for basics like breakfast and coffee do not cost extra.

9. Eat the Carnival Melting Chocolate Cake

Carnival Cruise Tips

So this is more of a recommendation than a tip, but the best dessert on the ship was the melting chocolate cake. After trying it the third night, I ordered it again and so did several people at our table. The cake came in its own dish and dusted with powdered sugar. The cake is hot and is like a brownie just out of the oven with a melted center. It is served with a side of vanilla ice cream.

10. There is a line at breakfast and lunch

Every morning, I went to the Lido deck for breakfast. This is where they serve breakfast and lunch buffet style instead of in the dining room. At breakfast, there was a line. There was less of a line on excursion day. Just be prepared to wait. There never seemed to be a time that wasn’t busy and by the time breakfast was finished being served, lunch was being laid out. If you really need to eat on a schedule, my tip is to order room service for breakfast.

11. Bring a lanyard for your Sail & Sign Card

Carnival Cruise Tips

When you arrive at your Carnival cruise room, your Sail & Sign card will be outside in an envelope. This is the card that you get in your cabin with, how you pay and how you leave and return to the ship. It has a hole punched in it. By bringing a lanyard, it makes it easier to keep track of. This especially true if you have kids on the cruise with you. You can purchase a lanyard on board, but they are probably expensive.

12. Bring your own soda

Like wine, you can bring soda on the ship. I recommend this as a Ginger Ale cost me almost three dollars! You can bring a 12 pack of soda on board per person. You will also have to have this inspected just like the wine. I think it is so you don’t sneak alcohol onto the ship with you instead of soda. You can also bring juice or milk. This is great if you are going to buy a bottle of liquor and want to have a mixer.

Hopefully, these Carnival Cruise tips will help you enjoy your next cruise and save you some money as well. If your ship leaves from New Orleans, check out my hotel recommendation.

Have you been on a Carnival Cruise? What tips do you have to share?

Carnival Cruise Tips