Lettr Review and Giveaway

Monday, March 31, 2014

This was a nice weekend full of warm sunny weather, a friend's birthday, and catching up on a bit of work. I'd like to take that fun and spread it to Monday by having a giveaway. Just read to the bottom of the post for giveaway details.

Do you think it would be cool to turn one of your photographs into a postcard? Well, now you can! Cue Lettr, a new company that allows you to turn any of your photographs into a postcard, which they print out and send to your chosen recipient. You don't even need to have a the mailing address, because Lettr will contact the person via Facebook on your behalf to get the address.

Here is how it works

1) Log in with Facebook

2) Upload your photo and compose your letter

3) Sign it

4) Either enter the recipient's address or allow letter to contact the recipient through Facebook.

5) Pay and Done! Sending a postcard through Lettr costs $2.49 and will be sent to the recipient as quickly as possible.

The only issue that I have with the service is that you need to sign in with Facebook (what if my Facebook lacking parents wanted to send me a postcard?). I would prefer to create an account with Lettr rather than allowing them access to my Facebook.

Using the service, I sent two postcards to my parents in Connecticut, USA. It took about 6 working days for the postcards to arrive to my parents and the postcards were postmarked from Montana. My parents loved seeing my photos on the post cards and laughed at my ridiculous online signature. My Dad's only comment was that he loves to look at the international stamps that accompany the postcard, which of course, were not on this postcard.

Overall my experience working and communicating with Lettr was excellent and I will certainly use their service again in the future. Let me know what you think about Lettr!

The Giveaway

The lovely folks at Lettr gave me two sets of four postcards to give away. If you would like to win some postcards, please follow In Search Of (on whatever means you would like) and leave a comment about where you are sending your postcards from. The giveaway will close on April 11th. I will randomly select the winner from the comments. Good luck!

*This giveaway and review was sponsored by Lettr however the views and opinions, as always, are my own.

Uzupis - A Republic in Vilnius

Friday, March 28, 2014

Uzupis is just a short walk from Old Town Vilnius but somehow it feels like a different city. Uzupis means on the other side of the river, and you get to Uzupis by walking over bridges that ladened with love locks. Uzupis, which named itself as a republic of Vilnius in 1997, is filled with art galleries, street art, speciality food stores, delicious restaurants, and bustling cafes. Uzupis has its own flag, currency, president, and constitution, which is mounted on a wall in several different language. I went to Uzupis as an attempt to learn more about Lithuanian culture and my current city. J and I spent a leisurely afternoon in Uzupis. We checked out several art galleries, had some coffee and treats at Thierry kepykla, and ate the best lunch at Uzupio Klasika. If you get a chance to visit Vilnius/Uzupis I'd suggest going to Uzupio Klasika and ordering the chocolate cake/pie. Be prepared to wait about 15-20 minutes for the cook to make it fresh, but it is worth it (trust me I'm a professional chocolate dessert lover).

Uzupis mermaid
A mermaid statue while crossing a bridge into Uzupis

Uzupis Vilnius
The Uzupio Bar/Restaurant on the edge of Uzupis. Note the lock bridge.

Love lock bridge in Vilnius
Love Locks over the Vilnia River

Street Art
Mounted Street Art

Uzupis Constitution
The Uzupis Constitution

Uzupis Constitution
The Constitution and Flag insignia

Angel of Uzupis
The Angel of Uzupis

Streets of Uzupis

Thierry Kepykla Cafe
A great cafe and bakery (try the jammie doggers)

Uzupio Klasika Restaurant
Oh the food here is just SO good
lunch at Uzupio Klasica


Chicken stuffed with Spinach
Chicken stuffed with spinach so good

Steak from Uzuio Klasika
J had this really delicious steak

Chocolate lava cake from Uzupio Klasika
Oh it was so good

Macaron and coffee
Coffee and Treats at Thierry Kepykla (we've been there several times since)

Coffee and treats from Thierry kepykla
Jammie Dogger!

A specialty food store in Uzupis
A specialty food store

Unique Uzupis

A map of Uzupis
A map of Uzupis

Street Art
Building Art

Street art in Uzupis
Street Art


Today I'm linking up with Quaintrelle for the local travel linkup. How do you travel your city?

Planning a Trip to Beijing

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

While I was living in Yunnan, China several years ago I went to visit a friend in Beijing for a few days. One of my most memorable days in Beijing was visiting a portion of the Great Wall of China. I'm super excited because this summer I'll be taking my husband (J) on his first trip to Asia. We will be spending about a month traveling through parts of mainland China and will certainly be getting back to part of the Great Wall. Our travel schedule looks something like this:

July 10 - July 15: Beijing

July 15/16 - July 20: Xi'an

July 21 - August 10: Yunnan (oh how glorious I cannot wait to visit my friends!)

Neither my husband nor I create detailed trip itineraries when traveling, however we have several places in Beijing that we don't want to miss. Instead of itineraries our trip planning consists of lists (with details like address and opening hours) of places that we want to visit. In addition to visiting some friends, we want to go here:

1) The Great Wall of China

2) Pulled noodles and Hutong exploration in the 1949 Hidden City

3) The Summer Palace

4) Peiking duck (though my Yunnan friends say that Yunnan duck is better)

5) Take a Cooking Class with The Hutong Kitchen

6) The Temple of Heaven (we want to get their early in the morning to see/participate in the exercise classes)

7) 798 Art Space

8) Jingshan Park

The Great Wall of China
The Great Wall

Have you traveled to Beijing? Any suggestions on what to do, see, or eat? How do you plan your trips?

Today I'm linking up with Bonnie Rose for #TravelTuesday and Nicole for #TreatyoselfThursday!

Hair Cuts in Foreign Countries

Monday, March 24, 2014

One of the biggest pains about traveling and living abroad is finding a suitable place to get your hair cut. While I travel, the tell tale sign that I need a hair cut is a jewel forms in my belly button and I look like a 1990 version of a troll doll - eek!

Story 1: In Kunming, China I almost ended up with bangs (not a good look for me) and that was after I could speak the language... I guess the hair dresser just really wanted me to have bangs? Not so cute with curly/wavy hair.

Story 2: In Vilnius, Lithuania it's been hard for my husband (J) to find a barber. After searching online he found a place (it ended up being pretty fancy) to get a hair cut. Not speaking the language, he mimed what he wanted and with a look of fear of his face the hair dress went at his hair with scissors. After an hour and a half of cutting she finally finished and luckily it turned out ok.

Story 3: J and I have now resorted to cutting or trimming each other's hair, which let me tell you, is not my specialty.

Does anyone else avoid getting haircuts while traveling or living abroad? Do you have any haircut horror stories?

St Casimir's Day Fair

Friday, March 21, 2014

Something great about living in Vilnius is that the city really knows how to put on a great fair. St. Casimir was a grand duchy of Lithuania and is the patron saint of Vilnius. If you ever plan a trip to Vilnius I would really suggest scheduling your trip to coincide with the St. Casimir Festival (Kaziukas Muge in Lithuanian), which takes place the weekend closest to March 4th (St. Casimir's Feast Day). This year the festival was held on the 7 to 9 and was spread throughout the city on Mairono g., Cathedral Square, Pilies g., Town Hall Square, and Gedimino g. It was so huge.

Tulips in every color

Lithuanian women
Ladies selling pussy willows and the Lithuanian version of a Palm Sunday palm

Coffee car
I love the coffee cars

Lithuanian street food
Yummy street food

Lithuanian sweet
Lithuanian sweet
St Casmir's festival crowds
People travel from all over Lithuania to attend this fair

cured meats
Every other vendor was selling cured meats

steaming street food
More steaming street food

Lithuanian street food
Really yummy chili-type street food

Lithuanian street food

Vendors at St Casmir festival in Lithuania

street performers
A rare smiling group of performers

Lithuanian baked goods

Lithuanian baked treats

Lithuanian painted eggs
Lithuanian painted or wrapped eggs are the highlight souvenir of the festival

Does your city do festivals? What is your favorite festival?

Today I'm linking up with the Fresh Faced Friday blog hop  and Photography Friday with Sunshine to the Square Inch.

How to pack a carry-on purse

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

I travel a lot, but I think I've finally figured out exactly what needs to be in my carry-on purse. When packing a carry-on purse I first think about the items I’ll want or need while inflight, and anything valuable that I wouldn't want to check (these usually go in my second carry-on which I stow in the over head compartments). 

My packing list:
  • travel documents
  • flight and hotel information
  • money
  • reading materials
  • snacks (I tend to get hangry)
  • chapstick
  • computer
  • camera
  • ipod
  • iphone
  • headphones
  • keys
  • day planner
  • an extra bag
  • notebook and pen 
  • tissues
  • daily medicine (you don't want something necessary to get lost with checked luggage!)
  • pain medication for unfortunately timed inflight headaches

carry-on bag

Its almost spring break! In keeping with my stay positive plan I've been planning several outings around Vilnius and in a few weeks I'm heading to Milan, Italy for a few days. Does anyone else have any upcoming plans?

I'm linking up with TreatYoSelfThursday!

Tarragona, Spain

Monday, March 17, 2014

Thank you all for the really helpful and encouraging comments on Friday's post. I was really nervous about posting something so personal, but took the chance because I wanted/needed to assure myself that I wasn't the only expat to have ever had a to make a tough decision about staying or going. Thanks again!

Tarragona, Spain

Just a short train ride (1 and 1/2 hours) from Barcelona is the beautiful and ancient seaside town of Tarragona. Tarragona is known for its Roman ruins, which have been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In Tarragona you will see a mixture of newer buildings (like those in Barcelona) mixed with Roman walls, towers, arches, and even an amazing amphitheater right next to the beach. I have never seen an amphitheater in person before and wow it was truly amazing.

Tarragona was pretty quite when we visited in mid-Februrary, but as the town is beautiful and located directly on the beach, I expect it becomes very busy in the summer. I think it would be a perfect place for a dip in the Mediterranean so if you are heading to Tarragona in the summer I'd bring a swim suit.

To get from Barcelona to Tarragona head to the train station in Barcelona and purchase a ticket from the counter for about 8 Euros one way. The train leaves the station several times an hour so you won't have to wait long. Once you arrive in Tarragona you have two options for getting into the town. If you follow the road up the hill you will see stairs on the opposite side of the road from the train station. Taking these stairs will lead you to the main street in Tarragona (and you will see several kiosks to get maps). If you continue following the road up the hill past the steps you will come to the  amphitheater.

Tarragona beach

pigeons nesting in an old wall
Nesting pigeons

orange trees and lamps
The orange trees brought beautiful color to the scenery

an outdoor water spout

off the beaten path

orange tree

nooks and crannies
I love exploring the nooks and crannies


window box
A window full of flowers

roman wall
A Roman Wall

Roman amphitheater

amphitheater and sundial
A view of the amphitheater from a small park

amphitheater close up
check out that view!


roman amphitheater

the beach
It makes me want to jump right in!

Have you been to Tarragona? Have you gone in the summer?

I am participating in an exciting giveaway hosted by Amanda at Living in Another Language. This month we are giving away all sorts of goodies like cash, ad space, and goodies. Good luck!

So, what are we giving away? Glad you asked.
-$130 of Paypal Cash
-6 months of ad space
-A Korean goodie box, packaged and shipped straight from Seoul
-And a piece of jewelry like this (bracelet or necklace)
Sound good? Enter away! Remember you can enter everyday via twitter, and the more entries you have, the better chance you have of winning! Winner will be chosen on March 28th. The winner will be verified!
a Rafflecopter giveaway