#13 - Tbilisi, Georgia

Tbilisi, Georgia...my gosh what a gem! Living in Yerevan is a super easy trip to get up to Tbilisi, the capital of Gerogia, so lots of my friends have done the trip a few times to get a change of scenery.

This is actually the beginning of another 4-5 weeks of straight traveling - I decided to finish the Birthright program much earlier than expected because I was getting a bit antsy to continue to travel and see more of this region and the Middle East and cross a few places off of my bucket list. Tbilisi seemed like a beautiful place to start.

I think I was moreso excited to get out of Armenia and experience a new country and culture, which is why I loved Tbilisi so much. From all of the beautiful and vibrant cafes and restaurants, to wine country, the mountains, and the coast, Georgia as a country is sooo underrated and I highly recommend adding it to your list. All of these are what I thought made it such a great place.

I spent 3 days and 3 night in the capital exploring and sight-seeing, going to cafes, eating good food, and drinking good wine. I also spent a day in a northern city called Kazbegi (just south of the Russian border) and was absolutely blown away by the mountains up there. I cannot say enough about this day.

This episode features an interview with Konstintine, the owner of the hostel I stayed at in Tbilisi. He was born and raised in Tbilisi and is a true local through and through. I hope you all enjoy this one!

#12 - Armenia: Part I

Apologies for the brief hiatus, but today marks week 7 of being in HAYASTAN! Since I will be in Armenia for a while, I'll be producing multiple episodes here so that you can get a real flavor for the culture, lifestyle, the land, and hearing thoughts from people from all over. I also want to be sure that I'm expressing as many opinions as possible - I will always have a local Hayastanci on the show, as well as someone from the diaspora here for volunteer work or expating. There is so much to say about Armenia so far and I hope I'm giving you a good flavor of my time here so far.

It was definitely a slow and a bit rough transition coming here - I had such an amazing time backpacking before arriving that I wasn't sure what to expect once getting here. I didn't read or do much research beforehand because I wanted to come with a completely open mind and soak in everything like a sponge, and wow it's been crazy so far! I lived with my host family for about 3 weeks and then decided to get an apartment with a friend I met here in the city center, I'm taking Armenian language classes (finally!), I've been on excursions all around the country every weekend, and I love the work that i'm doing with the software company I was placed at.

While it was a rocky transition to really assimilate into the culture here, there's definitely pros and cons about living in Yerevan, just as there is in any place. Take a listen to my thoughts and the following interviews to here more! Enjoy Part I!!!!

#11 - Linz, Austria

This episode taking place in Linz, Austria is my all-encompassing episode to Austria as I only did one interview in the matter of 13 days there - my bad. I was a bit distracted with the bazillion fun activities in Austria, beautiful scenery, and amazing company the whole time. I spent a few days in Linz with my good friend Spencer who I've known since we were little in Sunday School together :) she became fascinated with the German language and German culture at an early age and did a couple of exchange programs there early on, studied abroad for a semester in Vienna, did her honor's thesis in Berlin, and is now in Linz teaching English on a Fullbright scholarship. 

I loved Linz because it was small and definitely off the beaten path in terms of tourism, yet it was still a large city with plenty to do. Spencer took me to some of her favorite cafes, bakeries, cooked a few meals together, and we really just chilled and caught up. Hearing her perspective on living and working in Austria was so insightful as you'll hear in this episode. 

All in all, I looooved Linz and Austria as a whole. This wraps up my pre-Armenia backpacking trip, so stay tuned for the next destination ;) enjoy!

#10 - Milan, Italy

Milan, you will always have my heart. It wouldn't be a trip in Europe if I didn't stop over to Milan to hang out with my mom's Italian side for a while. Every time I'm in Milano, I love it even more and discover new hidden gems in the city. Catching up with all of my cousins, aunts, and uncles is extremely special any time I'm in Italy, or when they're in the US, because the families have been separated for three generations now as a result of WWII. They always do such an amazing job when I visit by cooking, taking me to different places around Milano, and making sure that I see all of the relatives while I'm in town. I'm forever indebted to them :)

A rundown of a few things I did in Milano: visited the Monza Speedway racetrack again, went to another appreitivo dinner with about 14 other cousins, celebrated my cousin Antonella's birthday with the entire family, watched my cousin Marco's show at a local pub and hung out with all of his friends, visited the Duomo, Galleria, Monumentale, Collone di San Lorenzo, Montevecchia, countless other neighborhoods in the city of Milan, I went up to Lugano, Switzerland for a few hours to explore, went up to Lago di Como again to hang out for an afternoon (one of my FAVE places on the planet!), and I also took a couple day side trip alone to Genova on the coast and also did a day in Cinque Terre where I did some amazing hiking and exploring the five cities within the park.

This episode features interviews with my awesome cousin Marco who I've always been so close with. He is one of the most hard-working, down to earth, cool people ever and every time we're together I just have the best time. He lives in a city outside of Milan called Monza with my aunt and uncle and commutes to work in Switzerland every day. He knows Monza and Milano inside and out and always takes me to such cool places with his friends (who I've become close with over the last few years as well!). He's hilarious, so I think you all will enjoy hearing him. I also thought it would be fun to interview my great uncle Franco who is going on 90 years old, and have Marco translate for us. My Italian side is originally from the south of Italy in Calabria, which is where Zio Franco is from, but he moved to Milano long ago for work and that's where all the family is today. His positive perspective on life is contagious, and he tells the most beautiful stories about my family and the past. I learn more every time I see him, and it's important to keep all of these stories alive and passed down. 

I love you, Milano! Enjoy!

#9 - Nice, France

Hey Nice, you were sooo nice! I loved spending time here on the coast for about 4 or 5 days as I finished two and a half weeks in France. Nice is the main central city on the French Riviera and it's very easy and accessible to reach other towns along the coast via bus or train. I spent time strolling along the sea and at the beach in Nice, and then on other days I took buses to Antibes, Cannes, Eze, and Monaco. I'm so glad I was able to explore so much of the coast and enjoy the gorgeous weather.

One attribute that makes Nice so great is the diversity. It's a huge cultural hub as it's a vacation destination spot for tourists year round. I also LOVED how friendly the people were. Compared to the other places I visited in France, locals in Nice were so open and happy. It was refreshing to talk to locals who were accepting of tourists.

For this episode, I spoke with Marianne who owns a little organic cafe that I had dinner in. She is so passionate about her work and serving the community healthy and local foods, and she was also a riot to talk to! I'm glad I got her perspective about Nice, and her love for the town really shines here. I also spoke with Najeed - he owns the hostel that I stayed in and was SO accommodating and welcoming. He is originally from Paris and moved to Nice when he was 30 to get away from the hustle bustle life and to feel more relaxed on the sea. He gave me great suggestions on other towns to visit in the Riviera and I'm glad I got to talk to him about his experiences in both cities. 

I loved Nice! Have fun with this one!

#8 - Provence region, France

Provence in southern France...what can I say - STUNNING! I'm so thankful that I got an opportunity to go down here. This was my third stop in France after being in Bordeaux (wine country!) for a few days. My German friend who I mentioned in the Paris episode, Sarah, has a family summer home in the Provence region of southern France. This region is best known for having gorgeous weather year round, a beautiful mountainous landscape, fresh air, and it's a vacation home destination for people from all over the world. I stayed here for four days and had the most relaxing time spent reading on the patio, cooking meals, going on runs through the stunning landscape, and exploring the small villages that encompass the Provence region.

Coming to Sarah's home really came at the right time in my trip. I was beginning to feel a bit burned out from the heavy travel, being in big bustling cities, and not having too much quiet time. Her grandparents were so welcoming and provided the best hospitality. I was finally able to relax in a very quiet place for a while and it really felt like home from the moment I arrived.

I spoke with Sarah, of course, for this episode, and got her take on coming to Provence to visit the house every summer. She has a huge family and extended family, so the house is a connecting factor that brings everyone together. It's so special that they can all share such a beautiful home in one of the most beautiful places and come and go when they have time. She is taking a long break this year and will be staying in Provence for about 5 months, and I was her first visiter! I also spoke with her grandmother who owns the house. She inherited the home from her mother and has fixed it up over the years, and wow, what a fantastic job she has done. She is one of the most well traveled and well read people I've ever met and continues to have such a young, vibrant spirit. I thank them both so much again for hosting me and sharing a piece of where they call home with me.

#7 - Paris, France

WOW - where do I even begin with Paris. It was my first time here, and it's a city that I've purposely tried to avoid going to because of the over-tourism, crowds, it's expensive, etc. I definitely had to give it a chance at some point, and this trip presented the perfect opportunity. I spent 7 days total in Paris which wasn't nearly enough time to cover everything...it's just so insanely big with so many beautiful places to see. I'm from a rather large city, but I was definitely overwhelmed with the size and the crowds in Paris. It was still incredible in every way though.

I met up with my friend Sarah from Germany for the first 3 or 4 days in the city, and then covered the rest alone for the remaining days. To sum it up, I hit the Picasso Museum, the Louvre, an exhibition at the Grand Palace, the D'Orsay Museum, the Architecture and Heritage Museum, the Basilica of Sacred Hearts and Montmartre, the top of the Arc de Triomphe at sunset and watched the Eiffel Tower light show from the top, the Eiffel Tower and surrounding grounds, Luxembourg Gardens, Tuileries Gardens, Buttes-Chaumont Park, Bastille, Saint Chappelle church, Notre Dame, the Palace of Versailles and the chateau, explored Marais, Babylon, Vaugirard, Belleville and ate at some amazing restaurants all over the place. I think I covered it all!

Though Paris is known to be over-crowded with tourists, Parisians come off a bit unfriendly, and it's expensive, I really loved being here and exploring this amazing city. It has so much to offer in terms of art, architecture, history, music, night life, the list goes on. There is really something for everyone here. 

This city also made me realize how difficult it is to interview people for this show sometimes. Having true locals of a new city on this podcast probably means that they don't speak much English, or rather, I don't speak the language of their country. It was challenging trying to find people for this episode because Parisians are notorious for disliking English, but I did manage to interview Beatriz, a photographer and painter from Spain. She and her husband own the Aux Arts Etc. Cafe by Notre Dame and Paris is essentially her playground as far as photography goes. She has lived all over the world, but Paris kept pulling her in which is why they have now settled there. Beatriz gave me great perspective into what makes Paris beautiful in her eyes, and I hope it comes through here...enjoy!

#6 - Oslo, Norway

Oslo - you were the coolest. I'm so glad I made time to see this awesome city and also visit a few friends. Oslo is pretty small and compact for being a capital city, but that doesn't stop it from having its own personality and flair. The weather was perfect the weekend I was there, and the city was booming with excitement. You can definitely see all of the main tourist spots in a day, so I toured around in the sun all day on Friday. 

I primarily went to visit one of my best friends, Mark, who is from New Zealand and lives in Oslo now. I met Mark while I was studying in Australia for a semester and we have visited each other and met up in different cities since then. He took me around with all of his friends to different bars, cafes, and restaurants on Friday night, Saturday, and Sunday and I had such a blast. He has acclimated to the city so well, and I gained so much insight about Norwegian culture from him. I also hung out with two girls who I met at Carnivale in Rio in February. Helena and Mimi are Swedish and they both work at a cool restaurant in Oslo now. I met up with them at their restaurant and hung out over the course of a couple days. It was seriously so insane to see them, and this is really why I love traveling so much. You meet people in crazy places on a whim, and it's so easy to reach out to them if you're ever visiting their city. 

All that being said, I probably wouldn't have liked Oslo so much if I didn't have friends there to take me under their wing. It's a very typical cosmopolitan capital city with all of the typical things that cities offer. You can definitely explore it in a day or two and then move on. Mark made a good point to me that if you're not from Oslo, it's definitely hard to know the cool spots to go to. Everywhere he took me looked very unimposing from the outside, but then we would walk into such cool spots. This is definitely the case for any city - getting a local's perspective and going to all of their lesser known favorite places can make all of the difference in whether you fall in love with a city or not. I was definitely the only tourist in most of the places we went and I was so happy about that. I've come to realize that what really makes a place great depends on the people you're sharing those experiences with, because good friends and company is always more fulfilling than flying solo.

This episode features conversations with Dave, Mark's roommate, who is from Sydney, Australia and now living in Oslo. He's been in Oslo for almost five years and has really found his niche and a great network of friends in the city. He gave me great perspective in our conversation, as well as the whole weekend, about his new social life in Norway, his tough transition into this new culture, and his favorite things to do. Dave, Mark, and all of their friends were such a blast to hang out with all weekend and I'm so happy they could make the time to show me around. I also spoke with Lucas, who is a co-worker of Helena and Mimi's at their restaurant in Oslo. He was born and raised in Oslo and loves it - he gave me lots of tips on things to do in the city and raved about it to me. I think his passion really comes through here. 

This is Oslo for you!

#5 - Bergen, Norway

Bergen, Norway - you were a STUNNER! Bergen is the second largest city in Norway after the capital, Oslo, and it did not disappoint. It is known to be the gateway into the fjords and where people begin their hiking, camping, and outdoor journeys throughout Norway. The town itself reminded me of a colorful and vibrant ski-town which was so refreshing. It's famous for the colored homes that line the harbor and mountains, as well as the massive ships in the harbor, great food, and quaintness. I was there for a total of four days during Easter weekend, so it was a little dead, but I still managed to get some great activities in. I hiked to the top lookout point, Floyen Mountain, overlooking all of Bergen and the harbor, and then hiked even further up the mountains on a few trails over the course of an afternoon...so gorgeous! On another day, I took a cruise through the fjords and it was just another one of those days that will seriously top the birth of my children ;) the water was so still and the reflections of the fjords looked absolutely insane and picturesque. Other than the outdoor activities, I had a few amazing meals in the city center, strolled around, and hung out in cafes the whole time. I can't recommend this town enough!

It was quite difficult to get locals to interview for the show since everything was closed down for Easter, and all locals were out of town. I did manage to have a conversation with Suzelle who works at a lovely cafe I spent some time in. She moved to Bergen decades ago with her husband and couldn't stop raving about it! I'm so glad I got her perspective on this cute town. I also had a few brief conversations with some fellow travelers in my hostel who were also coming through Bergen for the mountains and outdoor culture.

Bergen has so much to offer and I definitely know I will be back there - in the summer next time! Hope you all enjoy this one!

#4 - Copenhagen, Denmark

This episode of the pod will focus on one of the coolest and funkiest cities I've been to - Copenhagen! This was actually my second time in Copenhagen, and marking the first stop on a 6 week backpacking trip to visit family and friends in Europe before starting Birthright Armenia in May. My cousin Mikael from LA is living in Copenhagen for 6 months for an internship with the UN (casual) and I crashed with him for a few days and he showed me everything I missed the last time I visited Copenhagen.

Mikael and I absolutely killed it in the city - we hit a few museums, walked through the royal grounds and parks, Nyhavn, Christiana, had a night out with his co-workers, went to an improv show, ate some amazing food, and so much more. Copenhagen rocks, and I'm so glad that I got to experience it in the eyes of a local this time. 

For Denmark as a whole hailing as the happiest country on earth, Copenhagen is a place to experience great art, music, culture, and people with any interests and backgrounds will absolutely find their niche. My conversations feature Mikael who gave me a whole rundown of his time in Copenhagen thus far, and I also spoke with Carl who works at a cafe next door to Mikael's apartment. I highly recommend traveling here at some point to experience a bit of Scandanavian culture - enjoy this one!

#3 - Paraty, Brazil

After a fun time in Rio de Janeiro celebrating Carnivale, I headed to a small beach town 4 hours south called Paraty for some R&R - because sometimes you need to take a vacation while on vacation! Paraty is known for its historical old town in the center of the city with adorable cobblestone streets, churches, and great cafes and restaurants. Its also known for its beautiful beaches and dozens of islands off the coast where you can take boating trips, snorkel, hike, and explore. Though it rained the majority of my time here, I still took advantage of a boating tour, had a few really great meals, and wandered around the old town.

This episode features a conversation I had with a Turkish expat named Ersen from Istanbul. After getting off the bus ride from Rio, I walked into the Turkish restaurant he cooks and serves at and ended up staying for a couple hours eating and chatting. He had been traveling in South America for a bit before calling Paraty home base, and he plans on doing more traveling throughout South America very soon. 

This episode also discusses challenges I had along the way, as well as the not so glamorous side to traveling and backpacking cheaply. It's frustrating at times, but it truly helps build character and keeps you thinking of alternatives on the fly when Plan A may not work out. After all, a wise man once said that it's not about the ~destination~ it's the ~journey~ ... enjoy this one!

#2 - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

I'm excited to share the first city out of three that I traveled to during my trip to Brazil last month - RIO! I landed in Rio de Janeiro just in time for the big celebrations centered around Carnivale; a long-standing tradition leading up to Fat Tuesday before Lent. Rio holds the largest Carnivale celebration on earth and I'm so glad that I had the opportunity to see and participate in this wonderful tradition up close.

Aside from celebrating this colorful, beautiful, vibrant holiday, Rio is seriously one of the most stunning cities that I've ever been to. The beaches are endless and expansive, the famous landmarks are absolute must-sees, great hiking and nature, the food is fresh, and the people are so welcoming. I was in Rio for about 7 days total, and it really began to feel like home - I'd grab coffee at the same shop every morning and chat with the locals there, went running along the coast multiple times, and made great friendships with other travelers. 

This episode features two conversations with people that I met in my hostel in the neighborhood called Leme, just north of Copacabana. Ricky is originally from Belgium, traveled to Rio, and never looked back. He volunteers and works in the hostel that I stayed in and thinks he won't ever leave. I also spoke with Pablo, originally from Chile, who owns the hostel that I stayed in. After lots of traveling when he was younger, he decided that Rio was the place he wanted to make home, and built the hostel from the ground-up. I'm so glad I crossed paths with these two wonderful people, and I hope that I accurately expressed the crazy passionate vibe that is Rio de Janeiro.

#1 - Chicago, IL

I thought it would be appropriate to kick off this podcast with the place that I personally love and call home: Chicago! Being born and raised just a few minutes north of the city in Evanston, I experienced the city first hand growing up by constantly going to Cubs games at Wrigley, begging my parents to take me to all of the fun museums, and walking up and down Michigan Ave any time of the year. Now living in Lincoln Park just a couple miles north of the city center, I love experiencing everything that the city has to offer. 

With a population of 2.7 million people, the third largest city in the US, Chicago boasts world-class architecture, beautiful parks and trails that run along Lake Michigan, a die-hard sports fan base, unique arts, comedy, and music, as well as an endless restaurant and bar scene. I've lived here my whole life and I still have yet to run out of new activities to get into in this ever-evolving city.

This episode features conversations that I had with two good friends who are not from Chicago but moved here after school for job opportunities and how they transitioned to the big city. I hope our passion for Chi-Town rubs off on you in some way or another - enjoy!


This episode is a short introduction into the premise for this podcast. My biggest passion in life is traveling, and I'm constantly meeting people from all corners of the world through my travels. A common theme that I've encountered is that everyone seems to rave about their hometown, and there is a huge sense of pride for where people are from. This has led to me to explore the question, what makes a place great? Is there truly a best place on earth to live? Let's find out!