Pop the Bubbly, I have a Hubby!

K and M
Weddings are beautiful and magical, and behind every bride, there is a load of stress. I’d say it’s like event planning on crack. You have to orchestrate many moving pieces to come together in perfect unison and form your dream day, and you also have family politics, traditions and childhood fantasies to adhere too while looking fabulous. It is extraordinarily tough to accomplish all of this while still staying under a reasonable budget.
Kiss
I decided to plan our wedding from abroad, with no assistance from a formal planner. I have experience in event planning and TV production anyway, so why not. It came with its own challenges for both myself and the groom, however, in the end, it all came together perfectly and I would not exchange it for anything in the world.
Taco Bout A Wedding
If you want to know more about the planning process, or the details such as what I wore, what venue we decided on and what we ate, check out my latest article for Verge Magazine HERE. If you are looking for gift ideas for your Groomsmen, check out my latest article at Geargreed Men’s Magazine for ideas on what to purchase HERE.
Reception
Honourable mentions to our Best Man, Maid of Honour, Mint Room Studios, Good Fortune Bar and our patient loving friends and families for all their help!
In The Chair
Let me know what you think! Have you planned a wedding abroad? What was your biggest challenge? Leave a comment below!

Cheers,
Melissa

Rise & Shine

I’m going to suggest something that I will RARELY say…Get up early (when you travel)! I know you are on holidays and staying tucked in extra-long can be ever so tempting, but don’t! Not only will rising at the crack of dawn get your day started early (allowing the chance to fit in more activities), but that means you may be able to beat the long lineups and overflow of people at popular tourist attractions.
sunday market (17)
When we arrived early at the Palace of Versailles we were able to view most of the palace on our own, without fighting to see the paintings or antiques because of overcrowding. While not the most important, it also makes it easier to get that perfect picture without soo many heads in your photos. This also takes the stress of waiting, and the anxiety of people out of the equation, meaning you can actually enjoy and relax! Another quick tip, in relation to being an early riser, is to pre-purchase tickets ahead of time, then you really can spend less time on logistics and more time enjoying the beautiful views.
KVDV Photography
Speaking of views… check out the sunrise! How often do you get to witness that? And how frequently in another country? We recently were up at 3:30 am (I know right, ugh) for a safari drive in South Africa, and it was worth every moment. Though be it, the chill permeated through our thin clothes, the views more than made up for it. If the clouds are just right, the sunrise can become one of your favourite memories of the whole trip.
DSC00782
So suck it up buttercup. Put your outfit out the night before if you need to, and pull the shades down early to experience the morning life over the nightlife for once. Plus who’s to say you can’t have a mid-day fiesta if you need a rest?
KVDV Photography
Are you an early bird catches the worm type, or are you a night owl? Let me know in the comments and stay tuned for more tricks and tips next month!

Cheers,
Melissa

Top 7 Things to Do in Berlin

Berlin is an exciting city with something for every kind of traveler, not just for the history buffs, but the art lovers, gardeners, foodies and more. After spending a long weekend exploring the bustling city, I have decided to list my top 7 suggestions of things to do while in this German city. So let us begin!
The Berlin Wall
1) Topography of Terror Documentation Center: There is a reason why over 1.3 million people visited this free museum last year. This indoor and outdoor exhibit is located on a site which was formerly the headquarters for the SS during the Nazi regime. It is also where a part of the Berlin Wall was located from 1961 to 1989, this remaining piece is now the longest existing segment of the outer wall. This museum has a lot of reading; it makes a Ph.D. dissertation look like a postcard. If you want to read it all, be prepared to spend an afternoon. I recommend it. Learn about the history not just of Germany, but Europe, and really the world. Learn from past mistakes. Learn to prevent this from ever happening again. Take a moment to also respect the lives that were lost.
Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp
2) Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp: Since we are on the topic of WW2, I suggest taking a walking tour with New Europe Tours to visit Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp. This tour is about 5 plus hours (including travel time), and only 16 Euros plus a transit pass. Granted there is more than enough to do within Berlin, take a moment and leave the city to experience something else. If you don’t have 5 hours, they also offer PWYC tours that stay inside the downtown core of Berlin and last only a couple of hours.
View of Berlin
3) Get a View: See Berlin from above or at least get the aerial shot for Instagram. Now you do have many options. You can do what everyone else does and go to the Fernsehturm Television Tower’s observation deck and be surprised with the unnecessarily long lineup and a pricey ticket. Want a better view surrounded by buildings instead of on the outskirts? I suggest you skip the line and head over to Kollhoff-Tower in the Potsdamer Platz. There is also a café up top if you want to rest and fuel up with a beverage. For something different, go up in the tethered hot air balloon at WELT Balloon Berlin Service LLC.
Opera House
4 ) Bebelplatz: This stop is free; it is a square after all. I suggest it not just to check out the gorgeous pink Opera House, which looks amazing at sunset, but for the whole area. There you will also see buildings of Humboldt University, and St. Hedwig’s Cathedral, the first Catholic Church built in Prussia after the Reformation. This location is also where the infamous Nazi book burning took place on the evening of May 10th 1933. Today you can see a memorial on the ground in the middle of the square by Micha Ullman.
Sanssouci in Potsdam
5) Potsdam: If you follow my Instagram account you will have seen my gorgeous photos of this loveable town. Why did I enjoy it so much? I felt like I was in Versailles! No really! There is an endless supply of castles (which you can enter for a small fee) and gardens galore. I suggest taking the train (less than an hour away) and checking out this area for an all day trip. Stroll through the properties and you will find surprises like The Chinese House (it’s covered in gold), and more. Before heading back to Berlin you will find ample food options to stop for dinner (I had the best pumpkin soup ever). I highly recommend adding Potsdam to your itinerary!
The Holocaust Memorial
6) Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, or also known as The Holocaust Memorial: This memorial was designed by architect Peter Eisenman and engineer Buro Happold. Building began in April 2003, but it was not completed until December 2004. Sixty years after the end of WW2, it was inaugurated in May 2005 and opened to the public. It is a large site covered with 2,711 concrete slabs. They are assembled in a grid pattern on a hilly concrete field. All the slabs vary in height and are slightly askew so that none is the same as another. At this location, there is also a museum which holds the names of the approximately 3 million Jewish Holocaust victims. This art was never fully explained, but I believe when you walk through this maze of stone, you are meant to feel alone, afraid, lost, isolated and claustrophobic, as the victims would have felt. This memorial cost around 25 million to complete.
Bunker Tour
7) Bunker Tours: Do not leave the city until you have completed a Bunker Tour. It was not only educational but a cool experience. Literally! It was so refreshing to cool down on a hot summer day. Tours are offered throughout the day, in different languages. You cannot purchase a ticket ahead of time, but if you go in a bit before the tour to buy a ticket, you should be fine. Some are offered underground, but we opted for the Flak Tower in Humboldthain Park in Gesundbrunnen. Only a part of it remains as it was destroyed after the war to de-militarize it. You don’t realize it at first but as you walk up the mountain to get to the entrance, it is actually the Flak Tower itself that is buried in rubble and has become a large hill! Here you are shown three of the seven floors of one of the biggest bunkers in the city, but they offer other bunker tours as well!
Inside Zur Gerichtslaube
Bonus: One last thing I would recommend in Berlin is to eat up! You all know by now I am not only a vegetarian, but am gluten free, and to throw in a wrench I’m on a wedding diet! Ahh! This makes travel a bit difficult for suppressing my hunger. Luckily we found options in Berlin (not just options but delicious meals!). At Zur Gerichtslaube they have authentic German food, and are located in a tiny historic building from 1270 which was originally a Medieval Town Hall! If you love pink décor then visit Wilde Matilde Bar. Honestly, even if you just want Shawarma or other foods, the options were all great in Berlin.
Checkpoint Charlie
Berlin is very spread out, so prepare to walk lots! Berlin offers a lot of museums (even a dedicated one for currywurst), and provides so much to entertain yourself for free (such as checking out the Brandenburg Gate or walking past the recreated Checkpoint Charlie which is super touristy by the way)! If in doubt just walk around and explore, sometimes this is how the best discoveries are made, such as an adorable flea market we randomly found!
Flea Market in Berlin
Want to know more? Have you been to Berlin? Let me know in the comments below and stay tuned for my next travel adventure! Thanks so much to KVDV Photography for the lovely photos.

Cheers,
Melissa

Sunshine Blogger Award

Sunshine Blogger Award
Great news! I’ve been nominated for the Sunshine Blogger Award! Thanks so much https://rockpaperspirit.com/ for the nomination. I’m so excited for this opportunity!

RULES OF THE SUNSHINE BLOGGER AWARD:
1. Thank the Blogger who nominated you for the blog post and add their link to your post.
2. Answer the 11 questions which your nominator asked you.
3. Nominate up to 11 new bloggers for the award and write them 11 new questions for the same.
4. Let your nominees know that they have been nominated.
5. List the rules and add the Sunshine Blogger Award in your post.

NOMINEES:
I would like to nominate the following amazing 10 bloggers. Some of them I’ve been following for a long time now, while some others I have just discovered. Please send me a message to let me know when your own Sunshine Blogger Award posts are up!

1. Amsterdam Tourist Guide
2. Dine and Fash
3. The Green Shoestring
4. Cranky Actress Blog
5. Ryan Miller
6. The Gal Pals
7. Tim Van de Vall 
8. Douglas Taurel Acting Blog
9. Actor Adnan Zey Blog
10. Little Travel Bird

MY ANSWERS:

What made you start blogging?
I originally started my website to share my experiences while acting and to further promote myself as an actor. After uprooting my life and moving from Toronto to Amsterdam, I decided to document our travels and soon after discovered that I enjoy sharing my advice on travel and love of food. With this newly discovered passion, I continued my journey by blogging for other publications.

What was your first blog post about?
My first post was simply introducing my site to the world, and reminiscing about my year of acting accomplishments. I was very fortunate to be involved in many plays consistently at that time.

What’s your favourite biscuit/cookie?
Oh gosh, do I have to choose? I have such a sweet tooth and a weakness for all sweets (as long as they are gluten free of course). I must say my top 3 are ginger molasses (from The Rooster Coffee House in downtown Toronto), shortbread and peanut butter!

Who would be your dream interview subject?
Meryl Streep! Hands down! I admire, respect and idolize her amazing talent, and her as a person in the media. She is brilliant!

Who would play you in the movie of your life?
Can I play myself? I am an actress haha. If not, then Melissa Ivy Rauch from Big Bang Theory (she plays Bernadette Rostenkowski-Wolowitz). Melissa is sooo talented and hilarious.

If you could visit any country, which one would it be and why?
My current bucket list of places to explore keeps on growing with no end in sight. After some recent research and reading other people’s awesome travel blogs, on the top of my list are the southern areas of Africa, closely followed by Thailand. Each have their own unique sense of adventure, beauty, fun activities and history.

The world is ending and you can only write one more blog post. What is it about?
About my appreciation and thanks to all of my love ones. I would not be who I am, and where I am, without their continual love and support.

What tips do you have for me on how to improve my blog?
You have such an amazing blog! I love that you recommend books, and would encourage that you continue with explaining what you like about them and what the reader would get out of it.

Who would be your dream brand to work with and why?
Does the Academy count as a brand? I’d love to stand next to Oscar! No? Okay then let us move to another love of mine, shoes! I’d love to work with Christian Louboutin, who isn’t obsessed with that red sole?

Which is better: having a niche or having no niche?
Hmm, having a niche. That means you have a specific passion for something in particular. Even if it’s unique or different, there is always someone out there that may also be interested and soak up your every word.

MY QUESTIONS FOR THE NOMINEES:
I can’t wait to read everyone’s answers and congratulations to everyone for being nominated for this award!

1. What is your biggest challenge with blogging?
2. Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
3. Any advice for beginners to the blogging community?
4. What is one thing you want to do or learn in 2018 and how will this make you a better person?
5. What is the last thing you Googled?
6. Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest? And why?
7. Favorite taco spot?
8. What is the last article you read that made an impact?
9. What inspires you?
10. How do you think technology will impact future blogging and will you adapt to cutting-edge blogging technology as it becomes available?
So Excited!
Thanks so much and congrats!
Cheers,
Melissa

 

Travel On A Budget

sunday market (6)It’s that time of the month for Travel Tip Tuesday! Are you travelling on a budget? Look for free things to do! Most cities offer some tourist attractions that are free or by donation. This can include museums, churches, graveyards, parks, gardens, beaches, waterfalls, hiking and more! Some locations have special free days once a month on big tourist attractions as well (such as the last Sunday of the month in Rome, where most attractions are free including the Colosseum and Roman Forum), or cheaper rates on unpopular nights (enjoy discount tickets at The Rom on Friday nights in Toronto and Thursday nights at The Bata Shoe Museum).RomeHere’s the catch; other people are also looking for these deals and the free days can come with higher than normal lines to get in, and perhaps can overcrowd your perfect Instagram shot. So go early, have patience, bring snacks and be prepared.Tourists at VaticanYou all know by now that I am a huge advocate for the pay by donation walking tours (such as Sandeman Tours), as they allow you to see parts of the city through the eyes of a local.  I recommend doing this at the beginning of your trip, in case you hear of something you want to check out that is not on your itinerary!ArtWant to see more vintage artefacts without spending a dime? Check out high-end antique or art shops. This is a great option if you are a budget traveller, and sales staff are typically more than willing to give you a full history lesson regarding a particular piece.  If in doubt, Google is your friend! Ask it anything!

Any other travel questions? Let me know! And stay tuned for more tips and tricks!

Photos courtesy of KVDV Photography!

Cheers,
Melissa

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