When Home Gets Hard

Toronto at night

A rut. A funk. A slump. Whatever you want to call it, I’ve been in one for the past few weeks.

I’ve felt suffocated and heavy, like my body is being dragged down under a tide of sadness and I’m too lethargic to fight my way out. Most mornings I wake up feeling like a hummingbird is caught inside of me, as panic beats its wings madly inside the cage formed by my chest. Panic forces me up out of bed, but it disorients me and paralyzes me too. I feel certain that something terrible is coming my way and, as if to compensate for this nameless, faceless anxiety, my mind conjures up all types of horrible scenarios of things that could (no matter how unlikely) happen for me to fixate on. In those moments I am trapped in a prison of anxiety where fear is my warden; I want to talk to someone and let my worries rush out of me like the tide being called back to the ocean, but the irony is that the worse my worries get and the more talking or writing would bring relief, the heavier I feel—like my tongue is gilded in lead and I can’t muster the strength to form words— and it seems like I can’t do much but despair.

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Chewing the Fat with the Cultural Xplorer

Chewing the Fat logo

It there’s one thing we’ve learned over and over again on our travels, it’s that there’s nothing like food—whether you’re sitting down to a meal or simply just reminiscing about some of the great dishes in your past—to bring people together. I think Chewing the Fat does a great job of accomplishing the same thing (albeit in a virtual space), and it’s been pretty incredible to see so many foodie travelers come out of the woodwork since we launched this series, all of them eager to talk about two of their favorite things: traveling & food! One of the best feedback we’ve received from you, our beloved readers, is that you’ve discovered a lot of great new blogs written by fellow kindred spirits through this series; I hope that today will be another one of those instances. It certainly was for me!

You see, today I’m chatting with Chanel, the founder and head blogger behind Cultural Xplorer, a site where she writes about culture, off-the-beaten-path attractions and destinations, and—of course—all the delicious food she has encountered in her travels. After spending two years living and teach English in South Korea, Chanel is currently a graduate student who resides in New York City and writes quite a bit about the ins & outs of living in the Big Apple (and eating her way through it!), as well as the ‘foodcations’ that she’s able to squeeze in here and there. Prior to receiving her request to Chew the Fat with us, I wasn’t familiar with Chanel and her site, but I’m so glad that is no longer the case! I love the way Chanel dives into the local cuisine of all the destinations she visits without any hesitations or judgment—she is a fearless traveler through, and even when she’s not writing about food, she always comes up with a fun & unique way to put her own stamp on her adventures.

Read on as Chanel talks about why Korean food makes her taste buds tingle with joy, the beauty of NYC brunches, her top foodie destination in the United States and so much more!

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Mini Budget Breakdown: London Travel Costs

Buckingham Palace, London

We knew that following our time in Asia that transitioning to Europe would be hard on our dwindling travel funds. Many people joked that we couldn’t have picked a worse destination than London as our entry point with respect to sticker shock. While it might be true that London is a very expensive city, we had an amazing time during our eight-day visit—I reveled in reigniting a long-standing love affair as well as getting to introduce Tony to one of my favorite cities in the world and watch him start his own romance with London. The icing on this already-delicious cake was getting to reunite with friends made on the road while traveling, and getting to see London through their eyes too.

So, yes London is about as expensive a travel destination as one could pick, but we don’t regret a single pence or pound we spent during our visit. It probably doesn’t hurt that—as The Beatles sang, thanks to a little help from our friends—we were able to keep our budget relatively in check and came up with a few tricks to make our time in London relatively affordable.

Check out a detailed analysis of how much it cost us to visit London to see what I mean:

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Unexpectedly Awesome Adventures in Eating, London Edition

Traditional English Tea

There were many places on this trip that I was excited to visit for essentially little more than the chance to eat my way through them. It will probably not surprise many of you that England was not originally on that list.

It is now. England may traditionally be the laughing stock of the culinary world, but if our meals during our latest visit are anything to go by, Blighty’s days as a gastronomical whipping boy are well and truly over.

Don’t believe me? Take a gander at the (mostly) delicious dishes we tucked into during our time in the city:

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Two Offbeat London Activities Actually Worth Paying For

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In my last post, I wrote extensively about the many free things to see and do in London. With so many free attractions at your disposal, I outlined how it is entirely possible to fill over a week in London town without spending anything above and beyond your lodging, food and transport, and to do so quite happily and without any major FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) taking hold.

As I also mentioned, however, London has plenty of rather pricey attractions—so many that it can be rather difficult to decide where your travel fund is best spent. During our time in London, we were lucky enough to have two wonderful experiences—each off the beaten path in its own way—that we consider to be highlights of our time in this amazing city. Due to the generosity of friends, we were able to enjoy both of these activities for free, but we both agreed that they were each so fantastic that we would have happily dug into our travel fund in order to experience each one because they were well worth their respective admission fees. You don’t need our help to find your way to things like the Tower of London, the London Eye or Buckingham Palace, but I figured both of the following activities are sufficiently unconventional that you might overlook them in favor of some of the city’s more famous attractions and that would be a real shame.

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