Balkans Road Trip Part V: Montenegro & the Adriatic Coast

It’s hard not to be enchanted by the coastline of Montenegro.  It is what I imagine Croatia was 15 years ago, on the cusp of becoming a highly touristed destination, but still a hidden gem.  Montenegro is the only country we visited that is on the Euro, making it pricier than Serbia and Bosnia, but still quite inexpensive as compared to its neighbors Croatia and Italy.  The food is the best of all worlds: excellent Mediterranean fish,  pizzas, pastas, and, of course, bureks.

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Bay of Kotor (town of Perast)

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Bay of Kotor (town of Perast)

in town

Bay of Kotor (town of Perast)

Highlights:

  • The only ‘fjord’ in the Mediterranean, the Bay of Kotor, and all of the little towns along the Bay.
  • Don’t miss: make a dinner reservation at Galion Restaurant in Kotor and sit out on the water for the sunset.
  • The walled old city of Budva (which is like a mini Dubrovnik) and 3 miles down the Coast, the (now) private island resort of Sveti Stefan, famous as the vacation destination of Elizabeth Taylor and Sofia Loren
St Stefan

Sveti Stefan, private island resort

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View of the bay of Kotor from Galion restaurant (town of Kotor)

 

Word of warning:  Montenegro’s “undiscovered” nature lends it to be a tough place to drive/navigate.  The roads are unmarked, unnamed, sometimes unpaved, un-railguarded on the sides of cliffs, and one lane for two ways of traffic (particularly in Lovcen National Park).

GPS

25 Hairpin turns up a mountain later…

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Ari & Pierre in the old town of Kotor

 

 

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Balkans Road Trip Part IV: Mostar, Herzegovina

Just a few hours south of Sarajevo, Mostar feels like a different world.  It is closest destination in Bosnia to Dubrovnik, Croatia and as we entered this mixed Croat/Bosniak city in Herzegovina, we fell back in love with the Adriatic landscape that enticed us to return to the Balkans to begin with – particularly the drama of the mountains plunging into bright blue-green waters.
Mostar is one of the Balkan’s most well-known gems and it is a-bustle with tourists who stop by for an hour or two during the day; it’s even the cover of the current Lonely Planet Southeastern Europe guide book.  There isn’t much to do in the town itself aside from take pictures on and of the eponymous bridge and, for the those who dare, jump off the bridge.   That said, it’s well-worth the stop, especially as a point to relax and break up the drive to Montenegro or Croatia, and a great base from which to go out on day trips and excursion in and around the area.

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The famous Mostar Bridge

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Where to Eat, Drink, & Stay
Admittedly somewhat touristy, we enjoyed great food at Sadravan and Konoba Taurus, and drinks at the fun Black Dog Pub overlooking the water, included the locally brewed OldBridz brown ale.  We stayed right in town at Villa Fortuna, which has the most charming inn keeper, if not the most reliable internet.

 

from the drive down to Mostar from Sarajevo

from the drive down to Mostar from Sarajevo

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Balkans Road Trip Part III: Sarajevo, City of Heartbreak

Sarajevo is a tale of two cities: the city before 1992 and the city after.

Pre-1992 Sarajevo is that which is first apparent to visitors; it is the city of east-meets-west, where, from the center of town, the eastern side of the city is a mini Istanbul, reflecting its establishment and first 400 years as an Ottoman Turkish city.  From the west of the center, the city is a mini-Vienna, reflecting its 40 (highly productive) years of Austro-Hungarian rule, which brought Europe’s first electric-tram system.  It is the city where Gavrilo Princip, trained by the Black Hand in Serbia, assassinated the future Emperor of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Franz Ferdinand – the excuse for the start of World War I.  It is the city that was known as little Jerusalem, where from a main square, one was never more than a few hundred feet of an Eastern Orthodox church, a Catholic Church, a mosque, and a synagogue.  It was the gem of the former united Yugoslavia, when it hosted the 1984 XIV Winter Olympic Games.

Sarajevo was under siege from 1992-1995, surrounded by the Serb army, the scars of the war are visible on the facades of buildings, on the Sarajevo Roses around town (red resin filling in mortar scars indicating where people were killed during the war), from the tour guides who are no older than I am who talk about growing up in a city under siege, and by the abandoned Olympic venues – which are now surrounded by land mines and are a haunting reminder of just how transient the coming together of nations can be.

Bosnia & Herzegovina today is complicated beyond my understanding.  It is mandated as two territories post-war – the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) and the Republika Srpska (RS).  It has 3 postal systems, 2 tax systems, and 3 governments with 3 presidents (one Bosniak, one Serb, one Croat), which has lead to the 45% official unemployment rate.

Sarajevo, as the New York Times wrote last year, has a charisma that “is intoxicating, but the hustle and bustle belies a tragic past.”

It is hard not to fall in love with Sarajevo, but it is a city that will break your heart.

The eastern side of Sarajevo is a mini Istanbul

The eastern side of Sarajevo is a mini Istanbul

The western side of the city is a mini Vienna

The western side of the city is a mini Vienna

mini Vienna

mini Vienna

What to do

  • Don’t miss a walking tour of the city, we loved the Free Walking Tour with Neno, a Sarajevo-born guide just a few years younger than I am, who presents his personal history alongside that of the city
  • The underground tunnels (near the airport) from the siege time – which has an interesting 12 minute documentary and 25 meters of tunnel still open
  •  the abandoned Olympic venues - impossible to get to by public transportation, but well worth renting a car or going with a tour (most of the hostels and a few of the tour companies will run them) (thanks to T.Cain for this rec!)
  • Gallerija 11-7-95, which I wrote about here
  • The food!! Recommendations below.
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The siege tunnels from 1992-1995

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The Latin Bridge where Archbishop Franz Ferdinand was assassinated, aka the beginning of WWI

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The red resin “Sarajevo rose” over the mortar shell scar

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The abandoned bobsled track from the 1984 Olympic Winter Games

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The abandoned bobsled track from the 1984 Olympic Winter Games

Where to eat

  • Bakeries selling Bureks, the phyllo pastries filled with cheese, spinach, potato, or meat, are on every corner, but we highly recommend Buregdzinica Bosna, which is in the old town, and came touted as the best in the city (we won’t argue with that!)
  • Bosnian coffee at Divan - also in the city, and a great place for people-watching
  • Cevapici, the mini-sausage version of Turkish Kebabs, served with pita and onions.  The city is divided on its favorite Cevapdzinica along sports team allegiance, but Zeljo and Ferhatovic are a toss up for #1.

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Where to stay

  •  Once again, we opted for AirBNB.  The $35/night apartment (6 minutes from old-town )was only bested by the adorable host parents who adopted us for our time there (the apartment is owned and rented by their daughter and attached to their home)

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Balkans Road Trip Part II: The (treacherous) drive from Serbia to Bosnia & Herzegovina

Part A: The Road Trip

After a few great days in Belgrade, Serbia, it was time to get on the road and begin the actual road trip.  When I originally decided that now was the right time to do my long-awaited Balkans trip, there were a few modes of transportation that I’d looked into.  Trains were out of the question, as many of the lines were never restored post-war and those that were, are outdated and take twice as long as any other mode of transit.  Our options were buses or driving – we opted for the latter for the flexibility in travel itinerary and timing – and despite what transpired, it was one of the best travel adventures I’ve ever had.

There were some obstacles we were made aware of from reading blogs before the trip, namely:

  • a manual-transmission car
  • the lack of highways
  • reckless drivers
  • one-lane roads that cling to the sides of the mountainous topography
  • land mines that remain on the side of the roads once you enter into Bosnia – wartime remnants from the Serb army

There were some obstacles that were a surprise:

  • a total lack of roads entirely for some stretches
  • roads in total disrepair that were barely drivable (7 mph, max)
  • our cell phones not working at all in the Balkans (thank you, Verizon)
  • flooding caused by the torrential rains during parts of our drive

We took a detour to stop in Srebrenica – my thoughts are below – and so, in its entirety, the journey took us 8+ hours from Belgrade to Sarajevo, which is 120 miles as the crow flies.  Stocked with a great Spotify music playlist, a bagful of pastries from Belgrade, and the best co-pilot/company a girl could ask for, we ended up having an incredible adventure – and one I won’t forget anytime soon.

 

Sometimes there were roads...

Sometimes there were roads…

Sometimes there were not...

Sometimes there were not…

Beautiful Bosnian countryside, though we dared not step off the road to take pictures, because of the land mines.

Beautiful Bosnian countryside, though we dared not step off the road to take pictures, for fear of land mines.

Part B: Stopping in Srebrenica on Yom Hashoah

I was 11 years old when the genocide in Srebrenica took place in July 1995.  I had just finished 5th grade.  I remember hearing the news coverage of the systematic massacre of 8300 Bosniak (ethnically Muslim) boys and men age 12-77 by the Serb army as the Dutch UN peacekeepers stood by and watched.  Here’s a link for a brief recap of the history.

The moment we decided to make this a road trip, I decided I needed to stop in Srebrenica along the way.  It’s not “my” history per se, but perhaps as a Jew (and as a former camp counselor who brought students to bear witness at the concentration camps in Poland), I felt compelled to acknowledge the history of the other 20th century European Genocide.  What I didn’t realize until the night before, is that the day of our trip was Yom Hashoah – Holocaust Remembrance Day.

I don’t want to add much commentary for fear that anything I might possibly be able to write risks making the experience seem trite.  My only note is  how particularly difficult it was to read the echoes of the Holocaust’s “never again” in the memorial prayer in the cemetery  “…May mothers’ tears become prayers that Srebrenica Never happens again to no one and nowhere,”  because it did happen, again – and in our lifetime – as the world watched, again.

For visitors to Sarajevo, Gallerija 11/7/05 is a moving 2 room gallery with a photo exhibit and a 27 minute documentary that is not to be missed, despite the heavy topic.  (Because it was the 1990s, the Serbs were broadcasting much on their news coverage – which is now part of the documentary.)

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Balkans Road Trip Part 1: Belgrade, Serbia

It’s a city not known for it’s beauty.  In fact, it’s often referred to as one of Europe’s ugliest capitals.  But what Belgrade, Serbia, lacks in aesthetic , it makes up for in personality.  A city whose most recent history includes its dark role as the capital of former Yugoslavia, Belgrade is one of Europe’s oldest – and most conquered – cities (having been settled by Celts and conquered 38 times – by the Romans, Slavs, Byzantines, Frankish Empire, Bulgarian Empire, Ottomans for 500 years, and Hapsburgs).

With a few delightful pedestrian boulevards (Knez Mihajlova  and the Bohemian Skadarlija in particular) scattered amongst the rest of the city’s crumbling Soviet-era cement blocks, Belgrade’s true charm lies in its under-developed tourism (and prices!) and perfectly developed, thriving nightlife.

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    With Ari’s Serbian friend Tamara in front of St. Sava church, which has been under construction for 80 years

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    Remnants from the 1999 NATO Bombing

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    The iconic Hotel Moskva

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    The main pedestrian area Knelz Mihailova

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    Sunset from the public park at the Fortress looking over the Sava and Danube rivers

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    The famous Victor monument

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    Knelz Milhailova at night

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    me & the bro walking around the bohemian Skadarlija street

 

We arrived for both the largest football match in the city (with riot police lining every street) and the Belgrade marathon (which was drastically different from my favorite day in New York).

What to do:

  • “Walking tour”  There are free walking tours that run daily, or you can do what we did and create your own (click for our map), check out the itinerary below – you can see almost everything in <2 hours.  Best of all, nearly all of Belgrade’s attractions are free (and are local, not tourist, spots)
  • Belgrade Underground – our one paid tourist activity, and glad we did it.  A great (and passive) way to discover the hidden underground places from Belgrade’s 38 times being conquered, including Yugoslavian bunkers, ancient Roman ruins, and Ottoman buried wells. 12 Euro.
  • Nightlife!  See below – don’t miss it!
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Walking through the underground bunkers

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Entrance to the Yugoslavian secret bunkers

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Looking out from the fortress onto the Danube

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Ari in front of the ancient Roman ruins…in what once operated as a club

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Military remnants & the military museum

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Gov’t buildings at night

Eating, Drinking, and Nightlife:

  • A mix of Eastern European with some Turkish influence, Serbian food is, on the whole, not particularly inspiring.  The highlight was the cheese-filled phyllo dough burek pastries, which we lived on the entire weekend.  Note: Almost all bakeries (pekaras) are closed on Sunday, which we learned the hard way
  • Nightlife starts late.  Begin with dinner/snacks at 10pm at a kafana, which is a traditional tavern.  The best have live bohemians bands that play Serbian traditional music, from whom increasingly-rowdy tables of guests “order” their favorite sing-alongs.  Make sure to order some rakija, the traditional Serbian brandy shots made from various fruit.  We had apple, pear, plum, and peach, each less palatable than the one before, but all part of the experience.  Reservations for kafanas are required, even if they look empty.
  • Conclude the night with one (or many) of Belgrade’s clubs.  We went to Plastic, which is the most well known in Serbian nightlife.  People don’t start arriving until about midnight – the party closes at 4 and moves next door to Mint, the after party club with shared owners.  As the weather warms, people walk from one to the next of the floating clubs along the river, which boast international DJs and impressive parties.  There are no cover fees to enter the clubs, but reservations are required.  Drinks are extremely inexpensive – with Rakija/whiskey costing $2-$4 per drink.  No wonder the nightlife is so impressive!
  • Lastly, I have to mention the homemade wine.  It’s terribly sour…but apparently it’s Serbian custom to mix it with Coca Cola, which forms a saccharine drink they call “bamboo.”  Don’t ask.
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The band serenading patrons in the smoke filled kafana

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#untzuntz at Plastic

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#letustakeaselfie at the club

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Sour homemade wine + Coca Cola = bamboo?

Where to stay

  • At $54/night, our AirBNB rental a few minutes walk from the city center could not be beat.

Our (approximate) walking tour
1. Tasmajdan park and Church St Marko
2. National Parlament 
3. Terazije Street (with the iconic Hotel Moskva)
4. Trg Republike
5. Skadarlija  - great Kafanas!
7. Studenski Trg 
8. Knez Mihajlova - the main pedestrian thoroughfare 
9. KALEMEGDAN FORTESS - go for sunset, you’ll be glad you did! 
10. Belgrade Port 

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Balkans Road Trip

It’s about that time of year again, when I realize how long it has been since my last adventure.  Wanderlust has set in with full force and so I did what I always do and booked tickets.

With an arrival in Belgrade, Serbia and a departure from Podgorica, Montenegro the following week…are you thinking what I’m thinking (of course you are, it’s in the title): Balkans Road Trip!

Ideas for places to stay & things to do are always welcome!

balkans-political mapped

 

April 26: Belgrade, Serbia
April 27: Belgrade, Serbia
April 28: road trip to Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina with a stop in Srebrenica
April 29: Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina
April 30, Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina
May 1: Mostar, Bosnia & Herzegovina
May 2 Kotor, Montenegro
May 3: Kotor/Budva/Sveti Stefan, Montenegro
May 4: Depart from Podgorica, Montenegro

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30×30: One new thing every day until I turn 30

When I started college, I made a list of things I wanted to accomplish by age 30 – things like take an around-the-world trip, run a marathon, travel cross-country, learn a new language, go on a big trip all by myself, and get a graduate degree (amongst other things).

Bucket list items: visiting the Taj Mahal [2007], running my 1st NYC Marathon [2009], climbing Machu Picchu [2011], getting my MBA from Columbia Business School [2013]

Bucket list items: visiting the Taj Mahal [2007], running my 1st NYC Marathon [2009], climbing Machu Picchu [2011], getting my MBA from Columbia Business School [2013]

In 30 days, I turn 30.  What now?  The Mundane list!  In the 30 days leading up to my 30th birthday, I’m attempting to do one new thing each day.  I’m not  talking about big, bucket-list items, rather (mainly) small life-hacks:  things like finally enrolling in Global entry, figuring out a good personal contact management system, and seeing the snow leopards in the Central Park Zoo.  30 items, some mundane & others more exciting; when I turn 30 next month, I’ll start the decade knowing that my personal finances/communications/apartment/health/life are organized & ready to rock.

One new  thing per day , for the next 30 days until I turn 30.  30 by 30.

  1. 30×30 DAY 1Enroll in the Global Entry travel program (wish I had done this before traveling to 50+ countries).  TSA pre-check, here I come!
  2. 30×30 DAY 2: Get my digital life organized with a personal assistant app (EasilyDo)!  Between email programs and apple contacts and calendar invites & maps, it’s tough to keep everything straight, so I installed EasilyDo, a personal assistant app.  For example: it automatically posts birthday messages to friends’ facebook walls (I  select who), merges duplicate contacts,  keeps track of my boarding passes and flight information (ready to go day-of – no more searching through emails!), and many, many more tasks.  Check the website, but I’m totally obsessed.  It has saved me 59 minutes and 30 seconds since installation (it keeps track)!  That’s nearly 2 full Kardashian episodes!Screenshot 2013-12-18 10.33.29
  3. 30×30 DAY 3: ‘Un-baby’ my Facebook feed.  If yours is anything like mine,  your Facebook feed been hijacked by overzealous new parents who treat you to the details of every diaper change.  No more! Rather is a plug-in that will replace babies (or anything else you want -I  didn’t actually choose all babies, but rather  “sponsored posts” “movember,” some baby-related things, and “politics”) and will replace it with kittens (ok, I chose kittens, you can choose anything i.e. “bacon” or “beaches”).  Check out the first successful replacement [Goodbye, Progressive Insurance ad!  Hello, Kittens!
  4. 30x30 Day 4: The lazy person's guide to cleaning out their closet.  Every so often, I go through my closet and get rid of an item or two here or there; I drop off too-tight work pants at Salvation Army or put a pair of old boots on Ebay  but there are always that require more thought or work  than the average sweater & so it just sits in my closet for years. Here are some solutions I love: For the truly lazy amongst us who want our stuff sold for us  Thread Flip has an amazing White Glove Service that will  send you a UPS label & then take care of all the rest (photographing, researching, listing)!  It's free to do and you receive 60% of the sales price.  Have an ugly bridesmaid dress taking up real estate in your closet?  NewlyMaid will send you a prepaid mailer & will donate (to Clothes4Souls), recycle, or upcycle dresses - ecofriendly & easy!  And lastly, for some reason, I always hold on to bigger ticket items such as coats, but the last few frozen days in NYC reminded me how little good those coats are doing sitting in my closet.  For those of you in NYC, New York Cares has an incredible Coat Drive every year, with locations on nearly every block.  Sure, it's not a prepaid label, but going the one block  in winter weather to donate my old coat reminded me why it was worth the walk to do so.
  5. 30x30 Day 5: Get drinks with The Cutest Boy from high school.  You all know who I'm talking about.  Everyone had one.  Most likely, he was the cute upperclassman when you were a freshman,  the captain of a varsity sport, and your 14-year old self 'like, totally' swooned over this ultimate teenage crush.  I like to think of catching up with this friend as a present to my formerly smitten 14-year old self.  And no, dear readers, there's no app for that.  
  6. 30x30 Day 6: Digitally backup & securely store the contents of my wallet. I'm in a constant battle to not leave my credit card at the bar, my wallet in the cab, etc.  Until now, luck has been on my side, but I've been wanting  to backup the contents of my wallet: everything from my credit cards to driver's license & health insurance card - just in case.  I bought oneSafe, the rave-reviewed password manager, which not only saves passwords (how many times have I had to reset a forgotten Twitter account or search for my airline miles login??), autofills, and syncs across devices, but also will scan credit, ID, and other cards...I downloaded it this morning & within 5 minutes I had a digitally backed-up life.  Oh, and security?  It's not only double (or triple) passworded-, but it's literally unhackable.  
  7. 30x30 Day 7: NYC Photo Booth Bar Crawl - for the birthday of a friend who loves cocktails & paparazzi , we'll be starting at the Ace Hotel and working our way through some of NYC's best speakeasies, dive bars, and lounges that have photo booths...stopping in for some photographic evidence at each. [Full credit to RW for the idea & the itinerary!] .  We made it to 6 of the stops: The Ace Hotel (Flatiron), The Tippler (Chelsea Market), The Standard (Meatpacking), Crocodile Lounge (East 14th Street), Otto’s Shrunken Head (East 14th St) – photo booth was out of order, PDT (ok, ok, there was no photo booth there, but it was a great place to end the night)Photobooth bar crawl
  8. 30×30 Day 8: Visit the 9/11 Memorial For a variety of reasons, I just haven’t gone .  So it’s my plan to  finally  visit this evening. However, they make it very easy to visit.  Visitor passes are available online for $2 a person for a specified entry time – no worrying about waiting, timing, or cost. And this week (through December 31st), the memorial is open late for extended holiday hours.  
  9. 30×30 Day 9: Send out holiday cards  I’ve never been ‘grown-up’ enough to get my act together for holiday/new year’s cards.  And let’s face it, it would probably just be pictures  of me & my cat anyway.  Thanks to Paperless Post, it’s not too late for me (sitting here on Xmas Eve) to send out beautiful New Year’s cards online.  I love how easy it was to import my contacts from gmail as well as the beautiful designs (many are free!).  And no, the cards are not  of me & my cat.  
  10. 30×30 Day 10: Unplug on the first day of vacation.  One full day: internet free.  No email, no googling information, no online weather, no spotify, no apps, and certainly no instagram or facebook.  I’ve been unplugged before, mainly on vacations in countries that have limited/no internet (ahem Burma! Cuba!), but rarely by choice, and never with the intention of making a vacation truly a vacation from the start.  Great reminder to be a little less connected for the remainder of vacation.  Except, of course, to post this.
  11. 30×30 Day 11: Learn to play tennis!  That’s it, first tennis lesson in the books!  Absolutely loved it & can’t wait to take another!2013-12-27 15.24.51
  12. 30×30 Day 12: Compile my travel Wish List 
    Having recently realized that I have enough miles to book a true “bucket list” trip in the next year-ish, I’ve started thinking seriously about where the next adventure should be.  While I haven’t booked anything yet,  here’s the  list (and I can think of dozens more!) in no particular order:

    • South Africa
    • Tanzania (Mt. Kilimanjaro, Serengeti, & Zanzibar)
    • Balkans: Bosnia & Herzegovina/Montenegro
    • New Zealand
    • Costa Rica
    • Central Asia: Russia & Uzbekistan
    • Laos
    • South of France
    • Egypt
    • Rwanda
  13. 30×30 Day 13: Go to a pro football game  Dolphins vs. Jets!
  14. 30×30 Day 14: Back up all my photos (past & future!). After losing all my photos from my around-the-world-trip (aside from the ones on this blog!) by getting hit with a double-whammy failed-external hard-drive + laptop crash, I vowed never to let my photos go un-backed-up again.  Fast forward, and here we go.  I wanted to ensure that I not only backed up my photos from the past 2.5 years, but that going forward, any photos I add will automatically be backed up.  Combining two apps that I already frequently use [Dropbox + iPhoto], here is the genius blog post showing step-by-step instructions so that I will never lose my photos again.
  15. 30×30 Day 15: NYE in Miami!
  16. 30×30 Day 16: Use the 1 Second Everyday app to capture…wait for it, 1 second every day.  My friend posted a video of his last 130 days of business school, with 1 second every day stitched together with this app.  And it was awesome.  So, cheers to capturing 2014.
  17. 30×30 Day 17: Financial Check up Part 1:  Organize my finances.  New year, new goals and one of mine is to get my finances in order before turning 30.  From the basics of creating a good monthly budget based on my income, fixed costs such as rent and discretionary spending (restaurants, travel, & shoes!)  to figuring out the best way to pay down my business school loans & maximizing debt payoff in relation to retirement savings, I started using Learnvest.  Learnvest has an amazing dashboard.  Today, I started with the basics of importing my financial information (credit & bank accounts, student loan accounts, etc.), which automatically files each transaction into appropriate folders (so I can easily click and see what i spent at, say, Cafe Grumpy, last month).  I also began to input some big picture monthly budget items as well as some of my big picture goals for the next few years (payoff graduate school loans, appropriately save for retirement and life).  Tomorrow I have my free call with one of their financial planners which will be a great complement to my amazing financial planning team @ Gassman Financial Group.  Once I have some plans in place, the dashboard will help me see in once quick glance, where I am, what I need to be doing, and how to stay on track.Screenshot 2014-01-02 15.18.33
  18. 30×30 Day 18: Finances Part 2: Start making plans for  retirement, savings, mba student debt.  Now that my financial dashboard is set up (and I have a great snapshot of all my accounts as well as awesome auto-budget based on filed purchase), I began a few of the LearnVest free bootcamp programs including the 10 day “retirement in style” plan and the 3 day debt bootcamp.  Each day I get an email with a few steps that take about 15-20 minutes.  Will keep everyone posted on how it goes!
  19. 30×30 Day 19: Track my activity & sleep  Using the Jawbone UP (thank you Kate H for letting me borrow yours for the day!), I’m tracking my levels of activity as well as my sleep patterns (particularly given that I get an average of 4-5 hours per night)…stay tuned for the report!
  20. 30×30 Day 20: Ask a career ‘crush’ to coffee.  There is one person I’ve always aspired to meet &  today I shamelessly tweeted at him to try and get 20 minutes on his schedule…(@yaelsnyc)
  21. 30×30 Day 21: Learn to filet a fish.  
  22. 30×30 Day 22: Learn to code. Since I began tinkering with my company’s website a few months ago (easier to make changes myself than continuously go to the web developer!) I’ve wanted to begin to learn to code.  Using Code Academy, in 30 minutes, I learned the basics of HTML & CSS & made my own website.  (Ok, so it’s not so pretty, but you get the idea).  Really easy, really fun.
  23. 30×30 Day 23: Sit in an audience for a live TV show!  Today we’re going to one of my favorite cooking shows, ABC’s The Chew with Mario Batali & Carla Hall (and others!).
  24. 30×30 Day 24: Sound like a grown up. Stop using verbal fillers. When it comes to these verbal viruses (e.g. like, um, uh, right, you know), I’m especially  guilty of using “like” to indicate what someone has said, to modify adjectives, and to make approximations.  These speech disfluencies not only break the flow of speech, but they undermine the speaker’s credibility and authority, weaken messages, and distract listeners.  I’m only halfway through the day, but I have committed myself to being more conscientious than ever of my speech – this article is helpful in identifying alternative phrases to use & tips to stop using verbal fillers.
  25. 30×30 Day 25: Tackle a new recipe: make my Mom’s Challah.  Growing up, I came home to a house filled with the smells of baking challah every Friday afternoon.  Between the baking, the braiding, the everything…I’ve never attempted to make it.  Until now.  And now my kitchen smells delicious.  My Mom’s recipe, braiding instructions, and bracha here: challah copy
  26. 30×30 Day 26: Actually learn how to use Evernote. I’ve been using Evernote for a few weeks as a notetaker.  I love being able to search through notes and the auto-syncinc between  the version on my computer and iphone, but I still didn’t quite get the “Evernote-is-the-best-thing-ever” obsession that many people have.  What I realized is that I hadn’t even scratched the surface of what the productivity app has to offer.  Here are the two best articles, one with some tips and tricks from Business Insider and the other is how “stop using Evernote wrong” and make it “stick.”
  27. 30×30 Day 27: Get my fortune told.  Neon signs for palm reading, tarot cards, and astrology readings are as ubiquitous in Manhattan as the Duane Reades and Starbucks cafes that adorn every corner.  And I have been curious.  I figured there were two ways to go about this: one was to treat “discovering what my future has to offer” as a serious matter, making the proper investment of research and money as I would a big electronics purchase.  Instead, I decided to go the “under $20″ route of the place I pass every day on my way to get coffee.  Oh, and it was awesome.  Is it bad luck to share your fortune like it is to share birthday candle wishes?
  28. 30×30 Day 28: Try a new cuisine: Laotian! Thank you to everyone who gave me restaurant suggestions on Facebook.  We went to Khe Yo in Tribeca which had fabulous food, drinks, and ambiance.  And now I have many other places to try in the coming weeks (including Malaysian, Uzbek, Serbian, Singaporean, Filipino, and a few others!).
  29. 30×30 Day 29: Switch to online banking!  If nothing else, my Learnvest bootcamps on savings and retirement (see Days 17 and 18) have taught me that I’m missing opportunities by leaving my money in a Citibank account.  After checking bankrate.com for the different rates and fees, I decided to open an online savings account with Barclays, which has one of the highest APYs in the country (11x the average savings account), and will be opening several other sub-accounts to separate out different savings goals.  And now, I feel like I’m almost a grownup!
  30. 30×30 Day 30:  Say “yes” all day on my 30th birthday!  What an amazing day with people I love.  And aside from a last-minute invitation to Sundance, which I just couldn’t make happen (although I tried!), I said “yes” to everything else, all day.

And thus concludes the 30×30 project as well as my almost-year of living publicly (since enlisting the help of my online community and social media  to overturn the insurance ruling about my cancelled spinal fusion in June).

Stay tuned for more adventures…

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