Masters school update + other life updates

I’m sorry I’ve been neglecting you! It wasn’t intentional I promise.

If you know me, I “love” to keep busy so I’ve been up to a lot. I just got back from a three week vacation in Alaska and those vlogs will all be up soon on my youtube. The first Alaska vlog is actually already up here.

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My first semester of graduate school ended back in mid May and it was a hard one. I don’t even know how to describe it briefly, but it was a lot mentally and emotionally. The Australian time difference was taxing, but even more so, doing it all virtual was so isolating. It was just me in my room on zoom late at night in class all alone. It made me really miss the experience of being surrounded by other people in the same boat as me as well as being able to ask the professor questions in real time (not wait for them to check the chat minutes later).

My second semester starts tomorrow actually (I’m terrified) so that shall be interesting. Since Australian semesters go 1 & 2, instead of spring & fall, I only had about a month off as a “winter break” in semesters. I even took an accelerated course on the statistical program “R” which ended the other day. So that’s been OH so much fun.

I got a new part time job, which if you’ve keeping up with my youtube vlogs, or instagram, that would be no surprise. I hit a breaking point with my job at Lululemon and decided it was my time to move on. For shts and giggles, before leaving Lululemon, I looked into other jobs. I came across this whale watching naturalist position and though it was cool but didn’t think much past that. I briefly mentioned the job listing to family and friends and they strongly encouraged me to apply, so I did. I applied on a Saturday, got reached out for an interview that Tuesday, got hired Thursday and left Lululemon on Friday (a crazy week for sure). So I am a whale watching naturalist on a whale watching boat!

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Oh, wait, did I mention on here I got published finally? I think I did cause that seems like forever ago. But my undergraduate thesis got published alongside a professor I worked with in New Zealand earlier this year. Crazy enough, the first time my article was cited (in May) was by HARVARD!!!!!! super insane.

Anyway, I think that’s enough rambling for now.


Hope you all have been well!

As always, thanks so much for taking the time to read this!

Lots of love,

foot

Top New Haven Connecticut Coffee shops

Mini New Haven Connecticut Coffee Tour: ultimate coffee crawl in New Haven CT.

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I ventured up North to New Haven, Connecticut to visit my brother’s new place he moved into for school this year. OF COURSE I took advantage of my time in a new place to explore their coffee scene. I’ve visited him in CT before, but it was nice to have a longer stay visiting him so I had more time to explore this time around.

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There were three coffee spots that were on my list to try this time around:

  1. Fussy Coffee
  2. The Coffee Pedaler
  3. Koffee?

Some I found online – and some were recommended to me so thank you!!! (if you ever have any coffee recommendations either comment below or message me on instagram!!!)

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Related Posts:

How I choose what coffee shops to try when traveling

BEST coffee in New York City

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Fussy Coffee

First Impressions: From the outside Fussy Coffee blended in with the surrounding buildings and if I didn’t see it on social media I probably would have missed it!

Atmosphere: It is attached to a Yale University building but is pretty spacious inside. It was cute how they had a decent amount of outdoor seating as well!! I was so impressed with the interior – bright, minimal and full of plants. The coffee bar itself also had this stunning wood overhang.

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Final Thoughts: I was extremely impressed with the way they presented their menu of espresso drinks. On the left it listed the ratio of ounces of espresso to frothed milk and to the right it had the common name associated with that ratio. It was super unique and I was very satisfied.

I got an oat milk flat white – of course! I was very happy with the way their espresso shined through the frothed milk. I could tell the baristas were properly trained. My brother and I also got breakfast there and also I was super satisfied with it!

Overall if you are in the area – Fussy Coffee is a MUST! Great quality & atmosphere!

10/10, easily.

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The Coffee Pedaler

First Impressions: A super cute brick building situated in a more quiet neighborhood.

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Atmosphere: It is super warm and welcoming inside with a decent amount of seating for productivity (in CT you can already sit inside at places… so weird)!

Final Thoughts: Barista was very knowledgeable and super nice when I asked for a pour over recomendation (it did NOT disappoint)! The Coffee Pedaler seemed like a really nice spot to go to with friends for a nice chat. They also transition to wine later in the evening which is a MOOD!

9/10: great quality & very welcoming atmosphere

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Koffee?

First Impressions: My brother was SUPER excited to take me here! They have the cutest little window to order and pick up from. Also another spot that transitions to alcohol – is this a New Haven thing? hm. “Koffee?” is in a more central location of the city.

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Atmosphere: Although the inside was closed, there was a lot of nice outdoor seating blocked off in the street with lots of plants too – we stan!

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Final Thoughts: I could definitely see myself wanting to go back to here and also to The Coffee Pedaler for the evening transition to alcohol.

It was so humid out by the time we stopped here so we just got a cold brew – but it was super smooth and refreshing!! My brother and I were both really getting some nice chocolatey undertones. A nice smooth cold brew that doesn’t immediately dehydrate you and has some body to it is always a win!!!

9/10: quality & convenience

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Have you been to New Haven, CT? Any coffee recommendations?

As always, thanks so much for checking this mini New Haven Connecticut coffee guide.

Lots of love,

foot
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5 reasons why you NEED to travel to new zealand

Why you MUST visit New Zealand some day.

I don’t know if this is just because I’m more aware of New Zealand now (since living there), or if because this is actually true but – I feel like New Zealand is a more “main stream” travel destination now.

Hey, I am not complaining! It is such a charming little country that I believe paying the extra money on flights to get there is 100% worth it! But I do understand it is a money and time commitment to go. My parents tried visiting me while I was living in Dunedin (in the south island) and it took them almost two days to travel, then two days to adjust to the time difference, and then it left them maybe a week to explore.

I’m also thinking of doing my money saving tips when traveling to New Zealand because when you’re there on a college budget, you come up with a lot of ways to save!!

If New Zealand peaks your interest I have LOADS of tips and tricks of all my hot spots that you HAVE to see.

Related:

Top 10 MUST SEE travel destinations in New Zealand

5 Coolest Hidden Beaches in New Zealand: shhh it’s a secret!

Hobbiton Movie Set Tour: is it worth it?

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The Views

Both islands are filled with mountainous landscape, hidden hot springs, beaches, and rolling hills; the country offers a bit of everything.

So much is packed into the small land-mass of New Zealand, it’s quite incredible actually. New Zealand definitely has more perks if you are the outdoorsy type, with incredible hiking trails. But, regardless, it’s easy to find something to love about it.

Personally, I’m a sucker for a good view: whether I hiked, drove or took a tram up to the top to see it (NZ loves their trams)!

*pro tip* a lot more mountains and trails are in the south island, *cough cough* the better island.

Related: Coromandel Peninsula, New Zealand: are the hot spots worth it?

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The People

I’ve mentioned it before but the people are so welcoming and judgement free. Coming from the States, that was such an eye opener to me.

When you’re in a taxi or an uber the driver actually shows respect and that they care about your day. The interactions are not forced & so much more genuine. Anytime I visit a cafe or a shop I’m always blown away by the hospitality and how they are so open to start conversations with strangers.

The culture behind New Zealand makes the quality of living so much higher and less stressful. I can’t stress enough how coming from the United States this all means to me. So grateful for my interactions with the local kiwis!!!

Related: Unforgettable places you NEED to visit in New Zealand & Getting adjusted // living in New Zealand

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The Cafe Culture

If you’ve seen any of my other posts you could guess that I sure LOVE cafe culture and a food flat white.

New Zealand offers both: the home of the mighty flat white (hence my blog name) and also a great cafe culture. They just know how to put a good menu together and offer you the freshest ingredients where the food also comes out fast!

Cafes act as a the epicenter for social hour – whether it’s to grab a takeaway coffee before work or a nice bite on the weekends. Because of the competitive cafe culture, they have to be designed with more thought and care as a result – some healthy competition!

But seriously, in places like Wellington if your cafe isn’t amazing in every aspect, then you don’t stand a chance. This also results in better coffee in general, which I can’t complain about! All of the baristas have to be well trained and on point with their milk frothing techniques. It’s a win-win!!

Related: Top coffee spots in Dunedin, New Zealand

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The Unique Wildlife

new zealand birds
taken from a no longer existing website – so I got it from pinterest

Oh yes, the unique New Zealand birds.

New Zealand cracks me up because no land mammals are native and the few they have (ferrets, hedgehogs, rats, etc.) are all considered a danger to these native birds. Of course there’s the kiwi bird – what an icon – but another favorite of mine is the blue one in the center, the “Pukeko”. Look them up they look ancient-like with long wobbly legs and are just hilarious to watch. The “Kea” is also a pretty funny one; they are the only polar parrot.

One of the many things I admire about New Zealand is their sustainability and their efforts to protect their natural wildlife & habitats. All over the country, there are sanctuaries for their native birds which give them a safe environment to live in free from land pests.

Besides the crazy birds, they offer so much more: penguins, whales, porpoises, dolphins, seals, sea lions, fur seals, and well….. random land mammals that are pests to the native birds. So lots of marine life and sheep pretty much.

gotta love all the sheep!!

Related: First full day exploring Dunedin, New Zealand

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The Isolation

Let’s be real, it’s no secret that New Zealand is an island nation off doing their own thing.

I personally find the isolation aspect really enticing and also relaxing. The location makes it a lot easier to separate yourself from whatever the rest of the world is doing – in the best way!

I’ve never been a tropical island kind of person, so New Zealand gives me that isolation island feel but without all the sand….

ooooh!!! fun fact: New Zealand has both white & black sand beaches – check out post on the prettiest hidden beaches I’ve found in New Zealand here – 5 prettiest hidden beaches in New Zealand

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After living in New Zealand and being able to go back a couple times I feel like I still have so much to say about this lovely country. Any travel questions or post requests in the future please let me know in the comments!

Thanks so much for checking this out! I appreciate it so much.

foot

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with me on my journey

the ONLY Seattle coffee shop that was worth my money

This is the only Seattle cafe that I was genuinely impressed with.

This past February (before all the quarantine craziness), I took a trip around the west coast of the States to San Francisco, Seattle & Portland, Oregon. So far, I’ve done coffee guides to both San Francisco and Portland but not Seattle.

To be completely honest, I was disappointed with the Seattle coffee scene.

I know, I’m as shocked as you are.

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I would always here how Seattle is the best for coffee and it’s the ultimate place to go to for all things coffee. Now, in the time I spent in Seattle I obviously could only visit a certain number of coffee shops. This is completely based off of my personal experience. There were a couple that were decent but I’m not going to sit here and pretend to praise them for the sake of blog content. Nor am I going to bash on some well known coffee roasters in Seattle that I personally didn’t think was worth any of my money.

…so what is that one coffee shop that I would genuinely want to go back to?

Related:

Where to find the BEST coffee in San Francisco.

The 3 things I look for when choosing a coffee shop.

A guide to Portland, Oregon’s coffee scene.

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Cafe Hagen

South Lake Unioin

1252 Thomas St, Seattle, WA 98109

In recent years, Scandinavia has been described as the happiest place on earth.

Central to this happiness is a little known word called “hygge”(hyoo-gah).  Hygge is about coziness, comfort, and warmth, but also about being kind to yourself — giving yourself a treat, and giving yourself, and each other, a break from the demands of todays’ fast-paced life.

A slice of this happiness and hygge is nested in Seattle in the modern Café Hagen, in the heart of the bustling Seattle South Lake Union.

cafehagen.com

I think one of the reasons why Cafe Hagen stood out to me so much in the first place is because of their unique branding. They are emulating the ultimate European cafe experience. It’s no secret that there is no “American” cafe experience, at least not in my book. If you’ve read some of my older posts I have ranted already about how much I enjoy Australian owned & inspired cafes – they know how to do a great flat white, what can I say!!

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When I went they were still in the process of a “soft opening”, but regardless they clearly had all their crap together and were ready to take on the world.

Their menu was pure quality; the options were really different and prestigious. They roast their own coffee and we’re very knowledgeable on creating their menu highlighting all of their own unique flavors.

The decor was very minimalistic, yet bold. The cafe had different spots all around catering to lots of different clientele: the “productive get work done“ ones, the “i’m on a date” ones & the “takeaway I’m running to work now” ones.

To me, coffee is more of an experience. My favorite cafes are my favorite not only for quality, taste and all that jazz but the experience I had going there in the first place.

When I went I got a tasting flight. There is nothing more that SCREAMS quality than a tasting flight. It proves to me that they care to have the knowledge to piece together their coffee in a way that creates an EXPERIENCE for their guests.

These were the three roasts I had in my tasting. All were super flavorful and gave me the kick I needed that morning.

*fun fact* it was actually my birthday the day I went here & also my boyfriends birthday, as we were traveling together and share a birthday! crazy stuff!

We also ended up getting food, I got the avocado toast (what a surprise) and my boyfriend got this smoked salmon toast. Pretty sure they also have a menu geared more for grabbing a drink with your friends after work, but brunch is more my vibe!

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Interested in what I look for when choosing what coffee spots to try out when traveling? I have a whole post on it!

This is in no way meant to be an advertisement. I found this cafe over on instagram before traveling and was immediately interested in stopping by.

As always, thanks so much for reading.

Lots of love,

foot

Most Instagram Worthy Photo Spots in San Francisco

Want location ideas for your instagram feed? or photo spots that are anything but the Golden Gate Bridge? (because trust me, there are a lot)

Then keep reading!!!

Before leaving for the west coast, I can’t lie-

one of my biggest google searches was “instagram spots in San Francisco”

– or searches dedicated to my other upcoming travel destinations. I had no clue before-hand that putting together a list of your ultimate instagram aesthetic spots was a thing, but I’m so happy it is.

The ones I looked at months ago I found so helpful so I hope this helps or sparks some interest in you!

This past February on my west coast travels, I embarked on a 4-day mini trip to San Francisco, California. Being such an odd time in the year to travel, especially in the states, it made going to the touristy spots much easier to get good photos. Also, with me not being a fan of weather above 65-70 degrees F, if I went to California any later in the year I would die of heat exhaustion.

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Related Posts:

The Best Photo Spots in Berlin

Brighton Beach, New Zealand Photo Diary


Palace of Fine Arts

I was blown away by the architecture and how the area itself made me feel like I was off in some distant country. There was so many spots here perfect for photos and a cute little pond and pathways that wrapped around the main dome.

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Alamo Square

gotta love that shadow of my boyfriend haha

Of course when I went here the “famous” colored buildings in the square were under construction but it still was a great view of the city.

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16th Avenue Tiled Steps

To my surprise the city actually has multiple tiled staircases, and as you can guess, they’re all gorgeous. It took some time to get here with public transportation (and lots of uphill walking, but I guess you have to expect that in San Francisco).

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*random fun fact time* the steepest residential street in the WORLD is NOT in San Francisco!! It is in Dunedin, New Zealand. I have a travel guide featuring it here.


After heading to see the mosaic steps I’m sure you’re going to be tired and just want to sit down; this brings me to my next destination.

I have the perfect place for you.

Home Coffee Roasters

Me being the coffee obsessed person that I am of course I had to include a cute cafe in here (full San Francisco coffee guide coming very soon)!

In the mean time check out my past coffee guides for New York City, Berlin & Portland, Oregon.

The baristas here are SO talented and make it easy to get adorable photos. My mind was blown when I saw the latte art on mine and my boyfriend’s. They also have a long list of really unique flavored coffee beverages!

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The Streets – Lombard Street

Sounds simple but the city itself has so many unique streets. There are many hidden steps and alleyways cutting through parks and such.

One specific one I will mention (because it is the most popular one), is Lombard Street. Even if you don’t go to take photos, per say, it’s such an odd street with its unique characteristics. This spot is normally pretty crowded, but I saw so many people taking that to their advantage to take creative photos.


Palace of Fine Arts

Other Location Ideas: Alcatraz, near the cable cars and the many cute spots on the waterfront!

Thanks so much if you’ve read this far. I appreciate the support so much.

Lots of love,

foot

5 Coolest Hidden beaches in New Zealand

From my travels within the gorgeous country of New Zealand, and also them being an island country and all, they have a lot of beaches. Don’t get me wrong, most of them are gorgeous and “off the beaten path” but there are some beaches that are even more hidden.

Related: Top 10 Unforgettable Travel Destinations in New Zealand, Coromadel Peninsula Travel Itinerary, Coolest things to do in Dunedin, New Zealand.

Keep reading to see the beaches where you can see wildlife up-close & FOR FREE!


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The beaches I’m about to mention I only found out they existed by either:

  1. an intense google search, lots of digging
  2. a local told me, so naturally I had to check it out
  3. I wanted to visit a very specific music video location spot…

*keep reading to find out what music video I’m referring to*


Gemstone Beach

Southern coast of the South Island, New Zealand.

I only found out about this beach because when my Mom came to visit me in New Zealand the only place she wanted to go to was this “Gemstone Beach”.

Gemstone Beach located within 10 minutes drive from Tuatapere

Gemstone Beach is a random little beach off one of the main roads on the southern part of the South Island; it’s not far from the little town of Orepuki.

Let me tell you, if we didn’t know about this place we could have very easily driven by and had no clue that it was anything important, it’s that HIDDEN! (so thanks to my Mom to finding this beach randomly on trip advisor i think)

Okay, okay, so it’s hidden but are there actual gemstones there?

Yes, there are actual gemstones there. But if you weren’t familiar with the beach or you didn’t read the sign then you probably wouldn’t think this beach is anything special.

Best Beaches in New Zealand - South Island - The Fit Traveller

With the location of this specific beach the ocean currents bring in some really cool things. There are different factors that play into what specific gems you actually find on your trip (seasons, storms, etc.), but my family was super pleased to find what we did.

Im positive I found some jasper and other gorgeous ones (I am no expert or I’m sure I could give more specifics). Especially once you put the rocks underwater the colors really shine (this shot is by fit traveler)!

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Related: Explore Tunnel Beach, South Island New Zealand


Bethells Beach

North Island, New Zealand within an hours drive north of Auckland.

You may be thinking either:

  1. WOW that beach is gorgeous!! or
  2. I recognize that beach from somewhere?
she lost him but found herself and somehow that was everything ...

Does this look more familiar?

If not, that’s okay too. Bethells Beach was one of the main filming locations of Taylor Swift’s music video for “Out of the Woods”. The song itself means a lot to me personally, like emerging beyond dark times.

fun fact: I actually got contacted by Taylor’s management and got to meet her back in 2018 if you’re interested in a post on that!

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Regardless if you care for Taylor Swift or not, it really is a STUNNING beach. It’s almost a mini hike from the car park to get to this beach. There’s a creek that runs down past the car park to lead you to this open beach lined with hills.

A beyond stunning beach that is the PERFECT day trip, or side trip from Auckland if you have the time.

Related: Explore Coromandel Peninsula, the most stunning North Island road trip


Brighton Beach

South Island, New Zealand not far from Dunedin.

I have actually done a whole post going more into this gorgeous spot here, but I couldn’t help but include it on this list. Brighton is a small village within an hour drive of downtown Dunedin, New Zealand. One of my flatmates recommended to visit it and WOW I was not disappointed.

I went at sunset just before a big rainstorm so it was extra quiet and eerie.

The beach itself had a massive parking lot and a space for camper vans to park as well.

I’ve mentioned before that there is an endless amount of pretty beaches around Dunedin itself, but this one in particular I only found out about it from a local. So this is me passing that info along to share it with you.

You could spend a couple days alone just exploring the beaches around Dunedin.

Related: Exploring Dunedin, New Zealand – Top things to do

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Point Kean Beach

South Island, New Zealand just outside of Kaikoura

Kaikoura on its’ own is just a stunning spot to travel to. It’s a bit out of the way to get to, but it’s SO worth it. The area is especially known for their ample amount of marine life so the marine biologist in me had to make sure to go here!

The Kaikoura area is so unique because the continental shelf drops significantly just off the coast; meaning, that the ocean gets very deep without having to travel far off the coast. As a result, many marine life (seals, sperm whales, etc.) takes advantage of this and it’s ample amount of resources and calls the Kaikoura Peninsula its’ home.

There are a couple other beaches around Kaikoura where you can see incredible wildlife for zero coast, but this one was the main one I could find after an extensive google search.

Although Point Kean is technically a beach, you can’t exactly enjoy the beach to the full extent you might want because it is taken over by these adorable New Zealand fur seals year round. Their colony extends to this car park where you can easily find them having a good snooze.

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*disclaimer: these photos are zoomed in and I did not get this close to these animals. I am COMPLETELY against the tourists that go DIRECTLY up to them AS A WILD ANIMAL for photos and out of other curiosities. Granted that the area has MANY SIGNS asking to keep your distance from the seals, it’s sad that people DON’T listen. I am very passionate about protecting wildlife so if you visit here, or anywhere with wildlife really, PLEASE keep a safe distance for both you and the animal.


More Seal Pups Slaughtered in Kaikoura: Point Kean Seal Colony ...

To give more of a context, I found this photo which shows how fine the line is between the beach and the car park. You are allowed on the beach/rocky coast itself but only if you are a certain distance from any wildlife. So please pay attention and give the animals the space they deserve.

Me having a degree in marine biology & actually about to do my masters on Australian fur seals (this little guys close cousin), this beach was heaven to me.

Related: Moving to Tasmania for Grad School – Why Tasmania?


Curio Bay Beach

South Island, New Zealand in the Caitlins

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Curio Bay is most well known for being the site of a yellow-eyed penguin colony (one of the most shy and rare penguins in the world) and also a petrified forest. I’m not going to get too much into the science behind it but basically a long time ago this bay was a forest and over time, and a series of ancient volcanic mud flows, the trees fossilized to form these incredible structures you see here.

It’s just a really unique beach to visit. Out of my list this one is the most well-known, as the Caitlins are a more popular spot to explore.

I had a lot of fun with pano shots here.

Related: Top 10 New Zealand Travel Destinations


I hope you enjoyed reading about some of my favorite beaches in New Zealand.

Lots of love,

foot

Berlin Coffee Guide: best coffee in Berlin, Germany

I’m about to drop the ultimate list of the 5 best specialty coffee shops in Berlin, Germany.

Before traveling to Berlin last Spring, I didn’t realize how prestigious their coffee culture is… like VERY prestigious. Very unexpected for me to come across but super thrilled I was able to find the perfect spots.

Read till the end to see my absolute favorite coffee shop that I still dream about.

If you’ve read my past posts on my Germany travels from last March, Best photo spots in Berlin & Cutest German village, my brother was doing a semester abroad in Berlin and on my spring break I flew out to visit him.

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travel tip: While I was traveling around Germany, 90% of the cafes only had soy milk for dairy free options (besides lactate free.. but I don’t count that). Based on this, something I realized was that cafes that did carry other dairy free milks, especially those with oat milk, were easily the more popular, higher end cafes.

At the time I was visiting Berlin, it was my semester break from university so I still had some papers to get caught up on. Naturally, I spent a lot of time at each of these places not only for coffee, but to be productive as well. So, I will be talking about the atmosphere of these Berlin coffee shops in more detail as well.


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The Barn Coffee Roasters

First Impressions: My brother introduced me to Barn Coffee Roasters and I was extremely impressed. Their coffee menu varies considerably from pour overs, to flat whites. As they roast their own coffee, it makes complete sense that they are very knowledgeable on the perfect ratios and pairings of their coffee. A super super prestigious spot; I’m just going to keep using “prestigious” for emphasis.

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Atmosphere: Super rustic with an average amount of seating. One interesting thing to note is the window spots, the best spots, had these signs to deter people from using their laptops. I honestly thought it was a great concept because in the end it forced me to pull out a book to read instead and also let me spend more time people watching the busy street. It’s a very popular spot: lots and lots of in and out and longer lines for people to get their morning coffee before work.

Final Thoughts: 10/10 for quality, aesthetic, branding, the array of options, the list goes on. If you go to Berlin you MUST visit Barn Coffee Roasters. Within the last year they opened more locations too.


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Bonanza Coffee

First Impressions: Bonanza coffee roasts their own coffee (woo!!!!) and they currently have three locations. The one I went to I think is their Roastery Cafe but I could be wrong… it’s been a while. The cafe has lots of space and room to spread out.

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Atmosphere: Lots and lots of room to sit and get work done (I managed to snag a window seat in the back). At least when I was there it was must quieter than Barn, for example. The spot also had lots of plants, so thats a plus for me.

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Final thoughts: 9/10 for great quality coffee, and a friendly & open atmosphere. Not my absolute favorite spot, but super super good. I think I got some sort of oat milk latte here. Their cafes are located in pretty convenient locations so it makes it relatively easy to pop by.


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Distrikt Coffee

First Impressions: I could be wrong, but I think I first found out about Distrikt Coffee by searching cafes in Berlin that had the best avocado toast and came across them. Out of the 5 cafes I mention in this post, this one for sure if the one that is more with a traditional cafe menu. So whether you come here for the food, the coffee or both, it’s a great spot!

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Atmosphere: As I mentioned earlier, this spot is more of a traditional cafe with both great food & coffee. It is a bit louder with the nature of the place, but there are still some corner spots or they have an adorable “mini loft” kinda spot to be a bit more isolated. Also they are a dog friendly cafe SO I SAW THE MOST ADORABLE BEAGLE AND I GOT TO PET IT (a beagle is my dream dog)!!

Final thoughts: if you’re looking for a cafe to get great food AND coffee then 10/10, but if you’re after just the coffee part then 8.5/10.


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Chapter One Coffee

First Impressions: This was the other coffee spot that my brother introduced to me. Chapter One is very much a takeaway or quick in-and-out kind of spot. It was super popular with the locals and overall just seemed like perfect spot to grab a coffee with friends on your lunch break at work,

Atmosphere: Although it was a popular local spot, it is a super small cafe & as a result theres super limited seating. I wasn’t on a quick break from work, I was actually very much a tourist; I was hoping to sit down, rest my legs and enjoy a nice cup of coffee. I managed to snag a super small ledge to kind of hang out near for a couple minutes until I finished my coffee. Also, if lighting matters to you, this place for the most part was pretty dark.

Final Thoughts: If you’re on the go and looking for great takeaway coffee or a quick break then 10/10. But if you’re looking for a cafe to sit down and get work done then head to this next spot.

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Oslo Kaffebar

Ja Ja Ja gets to know Oslo Kaffebar! - Ja Ja Ja
Somehow I never took any photos of the cafe itself, so this one is by Ja Ja Ja Music
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First Impressions: I found Oslo Kaffebar from a quick google search of cafes not far off the train line I’d take from seeing my brother. It was CROWDED with a long line out the door, BUT it moved very timely and once I got to the register the baristas were so welcoming and immediately made me feel like a local. I could instantly tell that, hey, this is the ultimate local gem. Also, if you read my tip from the beginning of this post: they had oat milk… enough said.

Atmosphere: Super rustic, minimalistic and friendly atmosphere. The locals love it here so much that regardless if they got one of few tables available (because it’s so popular), they would casually just hang out outside the cafe. The sidewalk in front of Oslo almost was like an extension of the cafe atmosphere, in the best way possible; this aspect also made waiting in line to order a more entertaining experience.

For the cafe’s size, they did have a decent amount of seating relative to the space. Even though it was crowded, each time I went I didn’t struggle too much to find somewhere to sit. The nature of this cafe is also very “productive” if that makes sense. So many people come here just to relax and do work, which I LOVE!

Final Thoughts: 10/10 for atmosphere, location, friendliness & milk frothing abilities of the baristas.

Also side note, they did a partnership with the oat milk brand “Oatly” themselves. Of course the week after I left this cafe offered free beverages to anyone who got one with oat milk. At the time I was in Germany (March 2019), Oatly was really killing it in the advertising around the country. I even saw their ads in the airport.

If you could only go to one on this list, go here.


If you liked this guide, or found it helpful please let me know! I’d really love feedback.

If you’re on the look out for more coffee guides:

Best coffee in NYC (also the most instagramable spots)

Best coffee in Portland, Oregon (a city, with surprsingly, a lot of killer coffee).

What to look for when choosing a coffee shop to spend your money at

Lots of love,

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Unforgettable Places you NEED to visit in New Zealand

Ever wanted to travel to New Zealand? keep reading!

After my couple visits exploring this magical country, I have finally put together a list of my MUST SEE spots in all of New Zealand.

Before I get into my Top 10 spots to travel to in New Zealand, I have a whole page on my blog dedicated to different places around the country so check that out here.

To really enjoy a lot of the spots I’m about to mention you should rent a car. If you’re looking for a really good deal head to Transfer Car NZ. The only downside with them is you can’t really book far ahead of time as the whole idea with the company is they let people rent cars really cheap (or for free!!) in return of them helping the rental company relocate their cars.

Let’s start with the South Island

Starting with the South Island, because the South Island is so much more memorable… oops! Although both the North & South Islands have stunning scenery, the larger mountain ranges, fjords and Mt. Cook are in the South.

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# 1 Otago Peninsula –

If you get one thing out of this blog post, let me say how incredible & memorable the Otago Peninsula is. The Peninsula is just a short drive outside of Dunedin, a small city on the East Coast of the South Island. The peninsula is known for their abundance in wildlife: the rare yellow-eyed penguins, little blue penguins, New Zealand fur seals and New Zealand sea lions to name a few. It’s also famous for the immense about of hidden beaches.

You could spend a whole day alone just on this peninsula. There is a couple main roads that take you on a loop around the entire peninsula. Let me warn you, it is very windy and hilly but there’s ample amount of spots to pull off and enjoy the view.

I may be a bit bias as I studied abroad in Dunedin, but nonetheless its a spot that is sadly often forgotten *tear*.

*pro tip* if you don’t have a car you can still easily enjoy the peninsula by booking with a tour company.

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# 2 Beaches around Dunedin –

Tunnel Beach, Brighton Beach, and St. Kilda are my personal favorites. But there are many more!

I have a couple older posts exploring them in more detail:

Tunnel Beach – if I had to pick one go here

Brighton Beach

Tunnel Beach – south of Dunedin, NZ

Honestly just go to Dunedin and spend a couple days in that area alone. TRUST ME you will need it!!! There is endless beaches to explore & so much unique wildlife!! Also if geology or rocks peak your fancy, there’s a lot of cool beaches to admire that too.

# 3 Baldwin Street –

Known as “The Steepest Residential Street in the World” ahead of San Francisco. It is within walking distance of Northern Dunedin, but there’s also the bus system to make the walk a bit shorter.

*pro tip* this spot is very touristy! I mean full bus loads of tour groups, so keep that in mind when choosing when to go.

It’s not only a nice brisk up hill walk, but a form of entertainment stopping here. I think the funniest part of visiting here is seeing all of the tourists try to drive their rental car up to the top of the hill.

# 4 The Caitlins –

The final stop on the East Coast of the South Island before moving to the West – The Caitlins. Before traveling, I had no clue this area existed to be honest. This region encompasses the entire southeastern corner of the South Island.

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This is another spot that you really need a car to explore, or you can join in with a tour company. There’s many, many beaches and spots within the Caitlins to see but I’ll name my favorites.

Above is the fossilized remains of an old forest in Curio bay and below is around Nugget Point.

# 5 Queenstown –

Queenstown is landlocked on the Western side of the South Island. It’s located right in the center of some of the longest mountain ranges in all of New Zealand.

A very touristy place, but still a MUST. Queenstown itself is probably the most touristy area in all of NZ, in my opinion. Regardless, the area itself is so breathtaking that it’s impossible not to add it to this list.

Regardless of the time of year, there is the STUNNING mountain ranges lining the lake and surrounding areas. I HIGHLY recommend dropping the money on going up the tram to the top of one of the mountains. It’s the one tourist attraction that really is a must.

Moving to the North Island

# 6 Napier –

Located on the East Coast of the North Island, Napier is inspired by the 1930s Art Deco period. The town itself has a small airport to fly into, or it is about a 4 hour drive north from New Zealand’s capital, Wellington.

I have already done an entire post on Napier here, but I couldn’t help but include it in this list. The entire town is filled with stunning architecture; it’s just a nice town to explore and walk around.

# 7 Craggy Mountain Range –

Craggy Range is a smaller mountain range not far from Napier, New Zealand mentioned above. As you can see from these photos, the range itself is so unique and breathtaking.

What brought me here specifically was a winery WHICH WAS INCREDIBLE so if you want to sip on some great wine while overlooking this mountain range then head to Craggy Range Vineyards. Out of all of the wineries I’ve visited in NZ, this one was by far the most memorable and personable.

Like a lot of the other spots mentioned, I’m sure there are many wine tours that go around and explore this area. The Hawkes Bay Region is one of the top wine regions in New Zealand.

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# 8 Coastal Walkway

Now that we’ve appreciated the east of the North Island, let’s head to the west!

The Coastal Walkway runs along New Plymouth, New Zealand, it’s a series of paths that connect to wrap around the coastline. New Plymouth also has a small airport and the walkway itself meets downtown for easy access.

What’s great about it, is you can start the path at any point and still get gorgeous views of rocky beaches and (if you’re lucky) Mount Taranaki.

These pictures don’t completely do it justice as I had horrible luck with the weather for the most part.. There is supposed to Mt. Taranaki (this gorgeous, dome, dormant volcano) through the end of those white arches.

So insert this mountain (when I had good weather) in that white archway & call it a day 🙂 But seriously, it’s just such a peaceful walk and theres some insanely cool tide pools that get exposed during low tide. New Plymouth PRIDES themselves on the Coastal Walkway it’s so cute!

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#9 Mount Monganui –

Moving to the north part of the North Island, we have Mt. Monganui.

The towns surrounding Mt. Monganui are nice but the mountain itself is the real destination in my opinion. You can do around a 2-hour hike to get to the top (which I keep bugging my boyfriend that we have to do at sunrise) and I’m positive the few is absolutely stunning.

I found this little peninsula to sit an watch the sun set down behind the mountain.

# 10 Hobbiton –

Last, but certainly not least, Hobbiton. I have a whole post going more into detail about my experience at Hobbiton here. Hobbiton is located a couple hours southeast of Auckland, in the middle of vast farmland and rolling hills (I completely get why Peter Jackson chose here as a filiming location)

Even if you don’t care for the Lord of the Rings or Hobbit movies, I still think this is really worth the money. Before going here, I honestly barely watched part of one movie…. oops. There’s so many tour options to get here and explore (from Auckland, Rotorua, etc).

Each tour even includes a free drink at the Green Dragon!

*pro tip* try to go for the final tour of the day: I did and we got offered all the extra beer that was already poured for free.

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Thanks so much if you’ve read this far. I’ve been meaning to put this list together for a while now & I had so much fun putting it together. ANY questions at all about New Zealand or ANY travel questions please don’t hesitate to contact me or leave it in the comments! I want this to be helpful for you.

Have you ever wanted to travel to New Zealand?

What places on the list sound most interesting to you?

Lots of love,

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Travel back to the 1930s in Napier, New Zealand

For those who don’t know, I first went to New Zealand back in 2018 to do a semester abroad in Dunedin. I’ve done a handful of posts on some of my travels there here. I have even gotten to travel back to NZ two more times since then to visit my boyfriend who is from there 🙂

SO if you’re interested in more NZ content (because honestly I could do so much!) let me know!!!

Check out my last travel post Halstatt – an Austrian gem.

I visited Napier last September and beyond blown away with how much it felt like I was in NZ…. but wasn’t… at the same time…

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Napier, New Zealand

Located on the East coast of the North Island in New Zealand, Napier is the ultimate “Art Deco” capital. The mini-city itself was rebuilt after the 1931 earthquake and is about four hours drive North of the NZ capital Wellington.

Art Deco, short for Arts Décoratifs, is characterized by rich colors, bold geometry, and decadent detail work. Having reached the height of its popularity in the 1920s, ’30s, and ’40s, the style still brings in glamour, luxury, and order with symmetrical designs in exuberant shapes

Architectural Digest
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One thing that always cracked me up about New Zealand (especially the North Island) is sometimes you can’t tell if you’re in Hawaii with palm trees or some distant rain forest filled with ferns. New Zealand trees are so random and unique in the best way.

Like, if I told you that this photo was taken in NZ, at first, would you believe me?

Not that I’m big into trees to begin, as I’m more of a marine biologist kinda person, but I’ve also been debating just buying a book on New Zealand trees. Genuinely there is just something about them that makes me really think HA!

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It was incredible how the “Art Deco” architecture filled the streets entirely. It was almost like taking a time machine back 80-90 years.

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Napier is also known for their waterfront, or the “Marine Parade”; there’s gorgeous pathways all along the waterfront lined with these deco pillars and of course, with all of the funky trees!

As much as I loved all the architecture (and good coffee), my highlight had to be the National Aquarium of NZ where they highlight their resident little blue penguins with their famous “Naughty & Nice Penguin of the Month”.

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Here’s this months! taken from their instagram

Right outside of Napier is an absolutely stunning wine region which I will definitely do a whole post on soon, so keep an eye out!

As always, thanks so much for chosing to read this and check out my blog 🙂

Lots of love,

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Halstatt – an Austrian gem

Back in 2017 on a family trip through parts of Europe I made sure to stop by Halstatt, Austria. I’ve mentioned this in the past, but one way I find really unique and photogenic places to travel to is by searching a country or part of the world and go to google images. It sounds simple, and honestly it really is. That’s how I found out about Halstatt and also about Thun, Switzerland (which I talk about my 3 hour trip there, here).

Hallstatt is a village on Lake Hallstatt’s western shore in Austria’s mountainous Salzkammergut region. Its 16th-century Alpine houses and alleyways are home to cafes and shops; a funicular railway connects to Salzwelten.

thanks google

If you’re after more travel posts on Austria, Switzerland, Sweden or Germany I have a whole tab on my home page where you can find those.

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Halstatt is definitely off the beaten path. From Vienna we took a couple busses, a special train that only goes here and then boat to go across the gorgeous lake.

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It has become more and more touristy, so be worn about that. Although it is most definitely worth the trip if you have the chance. Halstatt is exactly as it seems: isolated, stunning and relatively quiet (if you minus all the tourists). As I went a couple years ago I’m sure it’s gotten even more popular by now. Not long after I went I heard that I think in China they created a town completely based off Halstatt, and I don’t blame them!

It’s just such a photogenic spot with all the ivy filled alleyways and cute shops.

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There is a couple paths to head up steep hills that overlook the whole town – and wowowow.

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It’s one of those places that is so cute and perfect looking that you don’t even think its a real place. I can totally see why so many people flock here to visit.

Although I was just there for a few hours, I can totally see myself wanting to go back and stay a couple nights or something. There were some longer pathways stretching around the lake which I’m sure went past some more gorgeous areas.

There’s just something about a mountainous skyline that just make it so much more fun to look at.

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If you ever end up in Austria or are passing through and are looking for somewhere to kill a half a day, go here. The perfect European experience.

Have you ever been to Austria?

I hope all of you are well! I’ll be back soon with more interesting content. If you’ve read this far I’d love to connect further and get to know more people on here!!!

Lots of love,

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