10 Reasons To Travel to Aruba

10 Reasons To Travel to Aruba

It's called One Happy Island for a reason.
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My entire life, I have been fortunate enough to travel during the cold months to a warming climate for a couple of weeks. There's Mexico, Puerto Rico, The Caribbean and so much more. However, there is one island, in my opinion, that stands above the rest: Aruba. I've been going to Aruba for three years now, and there's no tropical island I love more (yet, at least). Here are a few reasons why this little island is so amazing.

1. Weather

The warm weather, cool breeze and lack of rain are a few of the biggest reasons you should travel to Aruba.

2. Beaches

For those of you who are afraid of the ocean, there is nothing to be scared about in Aruba. The water is crystal clear with the most beautiful turquoise hues. The sand is white, clean and warm. No cigarette butts to be seen for miles.

3. Flamingo Beach

This beach is located at the Renaissance Hotel in Aruba. I have been visiting the Island for years and have always dreamed of experiencing this. I mean, where else can you roam around freely with funny pink birds?

4. Food

There are so many places to choose from, I can't even begin to name them all. There are restaurants where you can eat on the beach or out on the water. There's an Italian restaurant that makes your pasta dish in a wheel of parmesans. Here's a link to some of the best restaurant on the island. I highly recommend you do some browsing even if it's just to daydream.

5. Endless adventures

In Aruba, you can do just about anything tropical. They offer scuba diving, snorkeling, boating, parasailing, banana boating, tubing and so much more. There are some activities that I have never even heard of before. You will have an experience of a lifetime and some stories to tell once you get back, I guarantee it. (This photo will take you to a youtube video showing the underwater magic in Aruba)

6. The Nightlife

I'm not one for partying and going out. However, for those who like that kind of thing, Aruba after dark is an entirely different experience in it of itself. Everything is close together and there are all different age groups who come to visit. Gambling and drinking are legal for those over the age of 18. It's worth a try if you like that kind of thing.

7. It's easy to travel there

Yes, it's out of the country. Yes, you will need a passport and go through customs. Yes, you will most likely have to take two flights. However, it is one of the smoothest travel experiences I have encountered.

8. The people and culture

I've been to Europe, Mexico, Israel, and many places across the United States and the hospitality in Aruba blows every other place I visited out of the water. Everyone I have encountered on the island is kind, helpful and genuine. All they want is for their guests to have a great time and understand why Aruba is coined One Happy Island (I can absolutely back up that claim). There is also a huge menorah displayed on the streets of Aruba which is something I truly appreciate.

9. Aruba National Park

I mean, look at these natural pools. How could you not want to visit.

10. The memories

There is nothing better than reminiscing about the good times shared between loved ones. I will always carry my experiences on this island with me, especially since I travel with my family, my best friend and her family. I never laugh harder or smile wider than when I'm on the island

Cover Image Credit: Sydney Friedman

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I Visited The "Shameless" Houses And Here's Why You Shouldn't

Glamorizing a less-than-ideal way to live.
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After five hours of driving, hearing the GPS say "Turn right onto South Homan Avenue" was a blessing. My eyes peeled to the side of the road, viciously looking for what I have been driving so long for, when finally, I see it: the house from Shameless.

Shameless is a hit TV show produced by Showtime. It takes place in modern-day Southside, Chicago. The plot, while straying at times, largely revolves around the Gallagher family and their continual struggle with (extreme) poverty. While a majority of the show is filmed offsite in a studio in Los Angeles, many outside scenes are filmed in Southside and the houses of the Gallagher's and side-characters are very much based on real houses.

We walked down the street, stopped in front of the two houses, took pictures and admired seeing the house in real life. It was a surreal experience and I felt out-of-place like I didn't belong there. As we prepared to leave (and see other spots from the show), a man came strolling down on his bicycle and asked how we were doing.

"Great! How are you?"

It fell silent as the man stopped in front of the Gallagher house, opened the gate, parked his bike and entered his home. We left a donation on his front porch, got back to the car and took off.

As we took the drive to downtown Chicago, something didn't sit right with me. While it was exciting to have this experience, I began to feel a sense of guilt or wrongdoing. After discussing it with my friends, I came to a sudden realization: No one should visit the "Gallagher" house.

The plot largely revolves the Gallagher family and their continual struggle with (extreme) poverty. It represents what Southside is like for so many residents. While TV shows always dramatize reality, I realized coming to this house was an exploitation of their conditions. It's entertaining to see Frank's shenanigans on TV, the emotional roller coasters characters endure and the outlandish things they have to do to survive. I didn't come here to help better their conditions, immerse myself in what their reality is or even for the donation I left: I came here for my entertainment.

Southside, Chicago is notoriously dangerous. The thefts, murders and other crimes committed on the show are not a far-fetched fantasy for many of the residents, it's a brutal reality. It's a scary way to live. Besides the Milkovich home, all the houses typically seen by tourists are occupied by homeowners. It's not a corporation or a small museum -- it's their actual property. I don't know how many visitors these homes get per day, week, month or year. Still, these homeowners have to see frequent visitors at any hour of the day, interfering with their lives. In my view, coming to their homes and taking pictures of them is a silent way of glamorizing the cycle of poverty. It's a silent way of saying we find joy in their almost unlivable conditions.

The conceit of the show is not the issue. TV shows have a way of romanticizing very negative things all the time. The issue at hand is that several visitors are privileged enough to live in a higher quality of life.

I myself experienced the desire and excitement to see the houses. I came for the experience but left with a lesson. I understand that tourism will continue to the homes of these individuals and I am aware that my grievances may not be shared with everyone -- however, I think it's important to take a step back and think about if this were your life. Would you want hundreds, potentially thousands, of people coming to your house? Would you want people to find entertainment in your lifestyle, good and bad?

I understand the experience, excitement, and fun the trip can be. While I recommend skipping the houses altogether and just head downtown, it's most important to remember to be respectful to those very individuals whose lives have been affected so deeply by Shameless.

Cover Image Credit: itsfilmedthere.com

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​10 New York City Brunch Restaurants I Love A Waffle Lot

Trust me, breakfast is overrated, even if it is at Tiffany's!

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You guys knew it was coming! If you know me personally or follow me on Instagram you would know that the thing that I love most in the world is brunch. My life motto is "Mimosa es su mosa" or maybe "On Sundays, we drink mimosas." Just kidding! However, there is nothing I love more than having waffles, poached eggs, and a latte on a Sunday with my girlfriends. Brunch is a long-held tradition for us, it's a great way to relax and it honestly just brings everyone together. So I thought I'd share a few of our go-to spots!

1. Dudley's

This is my favorite place of all time to get brunch. Dudley's is right on Orchard Street, it has a quaint little interior great for dinner, as well! However, I suggest going during the summer to enjoy their outdoor seating. The food is just so delicious! The first time I went was actually at the end of August with my best friend Alexia. She had just gotten back from traveling and we wanted to brunch, go to The Met, walk the Brooklyn Bridge and go thrifting all before we went back to school the next day. We got brunch and were full pretty much the whole day, it was insane. It was also really fresh. Alexia even says when she comes home from Greece no meal ever compares to the food she eats back home, but this really hit the spot. The cuisine is American with an Australian twist. I normally get the chia muesli, a burger with a salad on the side instead of fries. Also if it's later in the afternoon, I'll just do cauliflower tempura with green aioli! For drinks, I suggest a latte or their cold brew.

2. Buvette

I literally just went last weekend with my friend Emily, so if that doesn't tell you how much I love it here, I don't know what does! Buvette has extremely friendly staff and great food, the portions are a tiny bit small but they are super filling, definitely try the specials! I suggest the Belgian Waffle with berries and a latte. My friend Emily got a lemonade and avocado toast!

3. Victor's Cafe

Best croquettes and burger to date. I also got yuca fries on the side. Best brunch ever, oh my gosh! Of course, I got a latte with that, too! The paella de vegetales and platanos are to die for, as well. Victor's Cafe has my heart!

4. Your Mother's House

I actually just went to Your Mother's House on Sunday. It's not the best brunch ever, but they have such a great menu with tons of variety. I even had this Groupon for bottomless brunch if you are of legal drinking age. The Groupon definitely makes it worth it!

5. Sarabeth's

This has been a long-standing tradition between my friend Sara and I. The first time we went was actually when I was like 13, I want to say. It was December and at the time Sara was like 17 and she bought me tickets to see the Radio City Rockettes. However, the only reason I took the train at that point was for work so I wasn't going to be allowed to go. So we devised a plan to convince my mother that her mother was going and it all turned out quite splendidly.

We went to Sarabeth's, I got the lemon ricotta pancakes, and Sara got the crab cake benedict. I would recommend both. Then we saw the Rockettes. However, the reason this is a funny story is that a month later on Christmas Eve, she and her parents came over and our mothers are extremely close because Sara and I have been friends since I was five years old. Sara and I went to my room to hang out and left our mothers to talk. After a few glasses of Chardonnay, Sara's mom told my mom that we went alone. I was grounded for three weeks. Well worth it though, not only did I see the Rockettes, but I found a regular brunch spot!

6. Chat Noir Tea

I know I'm a coffee girl, but I needed some tea to spill it at this brunch! Chat Noir Tea has an amazing Croque Monsieur and a great English breakfast tea. I suggest getting the tea service for two!

7. Juliette

I've told you guys once and I'll tell you again, all great things reside in Williamsburg! I'll be back here with my girlfriends in two weeks. I recommend the french toast at Juliette if you have a sweet tooth like me!

8. The Cheesecake Factory

This is probably one of my favorite places to eat, for dinner here I usually get the crusted chicken romano but for brunch, at The Cheesecake Factory they have plenty of sweet things, so I'll normally order a few things and split it with whoever I'm with!

9. Milk & Honey Cafe

I know this one is a throwback to the "10 Instagram Worthy Cafes" article I wrote but the Milk & Honey Cafe does have some great brunch options and come on, you can try one of the best cafes and brunch places in New York all at once! (Fun fact: My Odyssey profile picture was taken here!)

10. Cafe Mogador

So I wanted to include Cafe Mogador in this because it was actually recommended to me and will be my next brunch stop, so I figured why not leave this here as a little surprise for us both!

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