The Perfect Travel Bag | The Otto From R. Riveter

On Saturday I got back from a two week backpacking trip through Western Europe and Northern Africa and throughout that time I developed a love connection with my newest bag, The Otto, from R. Riveter. Now, I am an ambassador for R. Riveter, but they did not sponsor this post, nor did they pay me to say beautiful things about them. This is, plain and simple, my honest opinion on a bag I think that every travel blogger should own.

Over the past five years of traveling I’ve definitely developed a routine for what works best for me. I have my favorite adaptor, my favorite travel document carrier, and my favorite pack. But I’ve never been able to pin down my favorite travel bag (you know, the one that goes UNDER the seat when you fly). And believe me, I’ve tried to find something that works. If you know me, you know I go through clothes and accessories like my life depends on it, so this is probably the sixth or seventh bag I’ve tried. Luckily, I’ve finally found something I can count on. Here’s why:

Heathrow Airport | London, England

The leather handles are one of my favorite feature with this bag because not only does it come with hand straps, but it also comes with a cross-body strap. This is pretty essential because when I already have a 30 lb pack on my back, the last thing I want is to be carrying a cross-body bag with more stuff in it, and when I’m riding the metro during rush hour (without my pack) the last thing I want is to have to hold on to handles.

Stonehenge | England

When I travel I generally pack very minimal, in regards to clothing. I go for muted colors and a few accessories that can get me through photos without looking like I’ve been cut and pasted into each place. It’s really important to me, therefore, to have a bag that shows quality and simplicity at the same time. The Otto is the perfect balance of chic and also something people notice.

Windsor Castle | England

Size really does matter when it comes to having the perfect travel bag, and The Otto wins this category in spades. The elongated rectangular shape is perfect for putting books, tablets, and other necessities in and I found this so helpful during day trips where I had to have everything I would need for 11 hours in one bag.

Natural History Museum | London, England

When you’re buying  a bag you want it to fit into every part of your lifestyle, and that includes being able to transform as a beautiful day bag for work, to a travel accessory fit for Indiana Jones.

The real question, of course, is how much can you ACTUALLY fit in this thing? Well, for science, I decided to try it out. As you can see, there’s quite a lot that can go in, including (but not limited to) my tablet, a novel, my passport, a water bottle, chapstick, my travel organizer, currency from four different countries, napkins, snacks and postcards. Whew! But honestly, one of the best features of this bag is that it comes with a sturdy zipper to seal all of this madness away. Especially when it comes to stowing it under airplane seats (which I did seven times during this trip), it’s invaluable to know your valuables aren’t going to be sliding back to row 33 during take-off.

Casablanca, Morocco

The pockets are another beautiful, and functional, things about this bag. And let me tell you how much I love beauty and functionality. There are two pockets on the outside of the bag that hug the shape so if you put little items like bus tickets in them they’re not going to blow away. In addition there are two slot pockets on the inside (where I kept my keys, chapstick and other little bits and pieces) and a zipper pocket that stretches almost the length of the back of the bag. This zip pocket I actually used as a wallet for change while I was traveling because I never travel with an actual wallet (story for another time).

Girona, Spain

Stylish, dependable and made by military spouses, there really isn’t a way to lose on this bag. I’m so happy to have mine for this and for all of my future expeditions. It really is the perfect travel companion. Until next time!

Girona, Spain

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Day 2: Game of Thrones Tour | Girona, Spain 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And speaking of the sea. There she is! 

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

A Geek Guide To Vancouver, BC: Part 2

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Okay, so after I wrote up my last post I realized that I had a few more things to say: like that THERE ARE MORE GEEKY THINGS IN VANCOUVER TO TALK ABOUT! And these things I’m super excited to share! So, here’s the part 2 to my post from this weekend. Who knew Vancouver could have so many geeky things – I actually ran out of time to explore them all!

If you have anything that I missed, feel free to let me know in the comment section, below!

TV shows filming in Vancouver:

Obviously there are tons of shows that are being filmed in Canada, but most notably for me are the ones listed below:

  • Arrow (currently)
  • Flash (currently)
  • iZombie (currently)
  • DC Legends (currently)
  • Once Upon A Time In Wonderland (not current, but one of my favorite shows of all-time)
  • Once Upon A Time (currently)
  • Supernatural (currently)

The best part? You can follow along with WHERE these shows (and more!) are filming by stalking them with this handy guide!

Where To Find Some Geeky Reads:

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Vancouver Public Library

The Vancouver library was built as a structure inspired by the colosseum, and it’s quite a spectacle. While I was a little bit skeptical from the outside, the inside of the library was stunning and SEVEN stories high! I’m not gonna lie, I felt a little sick when looking down through the all glass windows that surround one side. Every type of book you could imagine was there including some great titles that coincide with geek favorites, such as Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings.

Albion Books

If you go to a bookstore for happy-go-lucky employees then you may want to stop by your local Barnes and Nobel, but if you’re there for the books this second hand book stop is amazing. Not only did I find a first edition copy of Outlander there for $5, but I also found some beautiful vintage Charles Dickens works for about $10. Some prices were weirdly high, but overall I think this is a great stop for book lovers. The best part? There are three other book stores within a two block distance that you can also walk to!

Similarities in France and US

Okay, so living in another country can feel like you’re living on a different planet, but there are also a lot of things that won’t seem quite so foreign when you travel to France, as an American. Let me give you some examples:

1. Pokemon: I really find it amazing how pervasive Pokemon is globally. I can remember sneak watching Pokemon when it came out in the mid 90’s (because, let’s be real, it wasn’t a friend of many Christian households, once upon a time) and to see my 8 and 5 year old playing with the cards STILL, thousands of miles away from where I grew up is amazing to me.

2. US Pop Music: It’s really funny in France because most people don’t speak English fluently, but the music in all of the grocery stores is American and a lot of French people listen to American Music. The favorite that I’ve noticed, so far, is definitely Katy Perry with Taylor Swift coming in a close second. But it’s pretty funny that, although people sing along, they have no idea what the words mean, half the time.

3. American/British Flags: Most French people don’t really like anyone who isn’t French, but I see SO MANY American and British flags. I see them on backpacks, t-shirts, sweaters and pretty much everything else. It’s like the 4th of July every day.

4. Coca-Cola: If there’s one drink that you can pretty much count on in most restaurants it’s Coke. It’s the American drink found in grocery stores, vending machines and pretty much anywhere else where drinks are sold. When I first came to France I drank a lot of Coke because I was really home sick. But, fun fact: I actually hate coke, and don’t know why pouring poison in my body reminded me of home.

5. Disney! Of course! I live right next to Paris Disneyland, which I haven’t been to yet. But I’m sure that I’ll be headed there at some point in the future (how can I not!). In general, there is about the same amount of Disney influence in Paris as there is in Seattle. Kids here love the movies, and I already own a few more than I did when I lived in the US. What’s nice is that the DVD’s come in English and French, so you can watch either version.

6. Nutella: Fun fact – I had never eaten Nutella before coming to France. But now I’m addicted, like the rest of the world. My favorite it Nutella and banana crêpes. Drool. I also learned while I was in Germany, that Nutella is actually an Italien brand and comes from the combination of the words “nut” and “bella”. Weird.

7. Video games: Video games and gaming are exactly the same in France. They’re just as well loved and the same games are played. My au pair brothers love to play Clash of Clans and own pretty much every type of gaming console.

8. Frozen: Let’s be real, “Let it go” is still echoing off the sides of the Eiffel Tower a year after it’s release. Lucky for me, I happen to LOVE the movie. But it’s still pretty funny how many times I’ve watched it since I’ve been here. I will say it has some of the best dubbing I’ve seen, though, and the characters in French are as good as they are in English.

9. Game of Thrones: Yep. Popular here. Lots of people watch the series, and I can’t wait until the next season starts because I will be watching each episode in our home theater, which has a screen the size of the wall.

10. UNO: Again, games seem to translate well across seas, and Uno is loved by French and Americans alike. It’s really fun to play with my au pair kids because they’re able to work on their English numbers and colors, while playing a game that I absolutely love. I never travel to a house with kids without my deck of UNO cards.

BONUS:

SOCCER: Ok, so it’s not called soccer here. But football is pretty huge in Europe, of course, and France is no different. I love being able to play with my boys, and I love that we can all sit around the TV and enjoy watching a game we all love, and that needs no translation.

Things that are the same in France