Day 2: Game of Thrones Tour | Girona, Spain 

Yesterday was such a fun day! I decided to spluge on this trip by booking a Game of Thrones tour north of Bardelona, in Girona, and it was such a good way to get out of my shell and hang out with other nerds. The Medeivel town of Girona is like 2,000 years old so it’s pretty incredible in its own rite, but Season 6 of Game of Thrones was also filmed there and so there’s this whole other dimension of awesome in the city.

Asking random strangers to take pics of me. As one does.

This building was used to stage the big bang that Cersei may or may not have done.

These Arabic baths were so beautiful but the bath house was also so cold. The last thing I’d be thinking about here would have been bath time.

In addition to movie locations we also got to see some real castle ruins that were 1500 years old!

True talent is that this picture was taken by a dad who was balancing one kid on his shoulders while his five year old daughter told him how to take the picture. Shoutout to R. Riveter for my new favorite travel bag!

This is our tour guide. He didn’t actually love Game of Thrones but he loved history and architecture so that made up for it. These are the stairs blind Arya sat on.

Hanging out with my Otto bag and enjoying my golden hand. #kingslayer

This popsicle was actually gross, but the cool thing was that it turned your lips metallic gold as you ate it!

In a way im going to count this as my Thanksgiving. I got to eat tapas and traditional Catalonian food with 20 strangers next to the Mediterranean Sea!

And speaking of the sea. There she is!

Tomorrow I’ll be doing a walking tour around Barcelona so that should be fun! Then tomorrow I’m off to Morocco!

To Boldly Go Where No Woman Has Gone Before

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The print that I bought. Love love love.

For a healthy chunk of my childhood Tuesdays nights meant two things: Popcorn and fresh fruit/veggies for dinner and piling in the living room to watch Star Trek. At the time it seemed perfectly normal that our family nights consisted of Sci-Fi shows. Another example would be that every Christmas we would marathon a Sci-Fi series (ex. All the X-Men movies, every Batman film ever created etc.). This was our normal. And it wasn’t until I grew up that I realized not everyone had such a geek infused childhood.

Since I was reared on a heavy serving of Sci-Fi and fantasy, it’s no wonder that I’ve always gravitated toward those things even in my adult life. I read comic books. I watch pretty much exclusively Sci-Fi/Fantasy TV shows. I wake up to the Doctor Who theme song every morning on my alarm clock. The ring tone on my phone is the Legend of Zelda theme…dubstep. Have I earned my geek badge, yet?

One of my new favorite girl power geeks is Jane McGonigal, who is a game designer and author. If you want to look her up, I would highly suggest watching one of her TED talks (especially the one about how gamers are going to change the world) – they’re all amazing. In one of these talks she says:

“Gamers always believe that an epic win is possible and that it’s always worth trying, and trying now. Gamers don’t sit around.” 

And while my gaming is definitely not up to par with a professional grade (gaming was always my brother’s thing, and we’ve talked before about how I kept away from things in his corner), I think this quote is fair of geeks in general. Being raised as a geek really shaped who I am because it taught me that, while there are obstacles (black holes, empires to destroy, Klingons) to overcome, there are always ways to overcome them.

Having stories of dragons, spaceships, other worlds, heroes, warriors, heroines and hobbits helped form my own foundation of one of the most important keys to success: grit.

The get back up and try to save the world again mentality.

It doesn’t matter if it takes 10 years of episodes *cough Stargate, you keep fighting for what you believe in. And sooner or later, you’ll make a difference…or die trying (and then having an epic burial where your body, grasping your brilliantly shining sword, soars over the edge of woodland water falls in a hand built elven boat).

Either way, the point is developing the desire to always find a way to conquer obstacles. It’s a skill that I think the instant gratification culture of today misses all too often, and is something that I really hope to impart to any kids I work with/ever have myself.

It’s pretty rare that I really disclose how much of a geek I am to people, but since I’ve been in Paris I’ve been trying to get better about it. Despite popular opinion, I’m actually extremely shy by nature, so it’s really hard to put myself out there and really present the things that interest me.

But this past weekend I got an amazing opportunity to go and hang out with some of my fellow geeks at the Paris Manga/Sci Fi Convention and it was So. Much. Fun.

I can honestly say it was the first time I’ve felt at home in France, because even though everyone around me was speaking French, I was able to share so many other commonalities with the people around me. I got to rock a Cosplay and revel in the panels that were in English (translated in French) and it was so cool to see other Whovians and think, “Wow. These people live 8,000 miles away from where I come from, and they love the same fandoms/TV shows/comics that I do!” It was a pretty bonding experience. Especially when I sat next to a group that dressed as all 12 of The Doctors.

My favorite moment, though, was when I found TinTin (or, rather, his cosplayer) who I actually yelled at in a crowd of people in order to get a picture with him. Like I said, I’ve always loved comics, and TinTin is a series that I’ve read probably 10 times. All 20+ of them. (It’s all about priorities when you’re a kid.)

Another amazing part of the show were the artists who were lined up doing live drawings in the styles of their work, and selling their prints etc. I LOVED being able to watch professional artists draw and illustrate. It’s so rare that I felt like it was such an honor. And I bought, and had signed, a Daenarys Targaryan print which is now hanging on my wall and that I LOVE.

All in all it was a perfectly refreshing experience. I feel like I went on vacation even though I never left the city. And the best part? There’s another one next weekend.

Allons-y! May the force be with you.

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Me and TinTin! I was so happy I have a ridiculous grin on my face. Also I got to hold snowy – win.
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Me and The TARDIS.
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Me and my Cosplay as Mels from Doctor Who.

Life Hacking My Way To Paris

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Washington State Beauty

I love Monopoly. There are several reasons, such as a desire for world domination, a completely unnecessarily competitive nature and an overbearing Slytherin mindset. But mostly, I like it because it gives you a lifetime worth of money and resources to strategically manipulate in a game lasting a few hours (or longer if you marathon it like me and my siblings did growing up).

I’ve always loved the idea of taking money and finding ways to stretch it beyond what people think it’s capable of – which is probably why I always win Monopoly. If you know my mom, you know where I get this mindset. So, of course, when it came to buying my plane ticket, it was no different.

A couple of months ago I was looking up plane tickets to Paris. I honestly couldn’t believe how much they were. The cheapest were around $1500 – one way.

Knowing that, as an Au Pair, I wouldn’t have a lot of cash flow piling in my bank account (AKA I need to save money, now), I decided that something had to be done. There was no way in hell I was letting $1500 slip through my fingers just to GET TO the country I wanted to live in. So I started researching.

I stumbled across this article on Pintrest that talks about ways to life hack your way around the world; how to travel without paying, or with paying reduced amounts.

I’ve never really looked into life hacking or finding ways around the travel scene, before. I kind of always thought, “Well, that’s the price, so that’s what I have to pay.” False.

After looking up what I would be needing, in regards to travel, I put together a grand scheme.

The next week, I walked into my local Chase bank early one morning (people are nicer in the morning, and they can help you one-on-one because they’re not as busy), and after asking for personal help, and looking up options, I decided on getting my first credit card – joy to the world.

In general, I really hate the idea of credit cards. I don’t like not paying my debts (how Lannister of me) and spending money that’s not mine just doesn’t feel right. I understand why they exist – I just don’t like them.

This time, though, I got a card called the Chase Preferred Sapphire, which allowed me to earn $500 toward my plane ticket as long as I spent $2000 on it during the first three months.

Now, normally, I don’t spend that much money just hanging out with friends (and things like rent and student loans – my main costs – can’t be paid with a credit card) but I did realize, when I got the card, that it was right before tax return season.

Note: As a nanny, I don’t pay my taxes throughout the year but, instead, all at once in Feb/Mar/Apr. 

You’ve probably guessed what I did. Charged that bad boy with my taxes and came out just over $2,000 ($14 over, to be precise). I immediately paid this off, but having spent the initial amount, I still got the voucher.

Then I thought, “Great, I’ve knocked my $1500 down to $1000, but I still think I can do more!”

So I started to look up flights.

Having traveled to the UK before, I knew that Ireland loves people to travel through there, and Dublin will drop its prices drastically in order to get your business. So, I decided to fly into Dublin, and then from there get a smaller plane to Paris.

Side note: I also just LOVE the Dublin airport because they are the most laid back people ever… and I may have really wanted an excuse to hear Irish accents, again. 

Ticket from Seattle to Dublin (after using my $500 voucher) – $448.

Looking up tickets to Paris was a bit harder, but that was because I very specifically wanted to find one that went to Orly airport (the most southern airport in Paris, and more popular – aka more expensive), since that’s where my au pair family said they could pick me up. I settled with a ticket for $200, with a 2 hour layover in Heathrow – another favorite airport (British accents FTW).

Grand total? *drum roll*

$648.

Having saved somewhere around $1000, I feel pretty happy with my plane ticket purchase, and that I have more money in my bank account and a ticket to Paris on my nightstand.

I’ll probably continue life hacking, since this process has the potential to be ridiculously expensive, but so far so good! Have you guys found any awesome life hacks out there while traveling? Send me a comment!

À bientôt!

I've got a golden ticket!
I’ve got a golden ticket!