Best Music of 2016

Top Ten Songs Released in 2016

2016 was a year that started in Greece for me. I moved from Wyoming to Savannah, Georgia, and started a new career. The music I listen to is absolutely a product of my situation and surroundings as I search and sample the new releases on Spotify. Techno dance hits like Believer by Major Lazer entered my playlists from European rave culture, as well as, summer US festivals streamed on YouTube.

Southern rock, and folk songs like Let Me Get By by Tedeschi Trucks Band were on repeat while moving to Savannah in the Spring. More spacey songs like Changes by Mutemath get pumped through my earphones while Im working in Adobe Illustrator from the coffee shop around the corner, Gallery Espresso.

2016 Song of the Year

Song of the Year for me has to go to Tedeschi Trucks Band - Let Me Get By because it was released while we were moving to Savannah. Nothing like some Derek Trucks lead guitar and Susan Tedeschi vocals with the windows down driving southern roads. Uplifting and breezy, driving through a tall pine highway while throwing Boiled Peanuts out the window.

2016 Album of the Year

This one is a tie between Umphreys McGee - Zonkey for some amazingly tight 90's remixes and DD Dumbo - Utopia Defeated for introducing a new sound.

2016 Album on Repeat

Mutemath - Vitals wins for most played album of the year (two years in a row). I float in space whenever I listen to it. I discovered it last year before traveling to Europe and listened to it on almost every train, bus and ferry while on the move. I can now turn on this album and get instantly transported back to any one of those awesome memories.

What's on your best of 2016 list!? What did I miss?

 

The most important apps for traveling in Europe

Map of our europe trip

 

As a service to the many other people that will travel in Europe after me, I thought I would compile a list of the most important apps I used. Organized from most used to least used, these apps were crucial to travel planning and communication with family and friends.

1. Rail Planner Eurail/Interrail (Works Offline)

Google Play | iTunes

Hands down the #1 app I used the most was the Eurail app. It was vital to figuring out train schedules from the Netherlands to Croatia. I was the savior more times than I can count, when we would be transferring trains in a small town, I could see the other travelers, and I could see they didn't know which train they were supposed to transfer to, and thanks to this app, I was able to guide everyone. Best of all, this app works offline. NOTE: The DB Navigator is also a great rail planning app to utilize, but it only works with an internet connection.

2. Rome2Rio

Google Play | iTunes

Whenever we needed to weigh the options of how to travel, Rome2Rio was the first place we would go. It made any travel logistics a breeze. We used it extensively in parts of southern and central Europe when train travel wasn't a realistic option anymore and we needed to use bus travel more often.

3. WhatsApp

Google Play | iTunes

This app makes it so easy to communicate with family and friends back home as it acts like a VOIP phone, or a phone/text message service you use over WiFi. Numerous times, my parents would comments that they felt like I was right there with them, and not in a small Bulgarian town when we were speaking over WiFi. So many apartments, hotels, pensions, and cafes offer wifi, that you will rarely ever feel off the grid. The silent hero in this whole thing was that we used this app many times to coordinate meetups with our AirBNB apartment hosts, and with friends we made while traveling. 

4. Maps.Me (works offline)

Google Play | iTunes

Before we entered a new country I would do two things. #1 - Write down key phrases of the new language onto a single sheet of paper, we would use as a cheat sheet. #2 - Download the new country map from Maps.Me. Combined with GPS and offline mode, this map app helped us out so many times! Before we left one city, we would pin the train station, and our new place on the map in the city we were traveling to. We felt lost plenty, but we were really lost never. The best inadvertent gift at the end of our trip was that we had already pinned everywhere we went out of necessity, now we can use that map as a great memory! NOTE: Google Maps also has ways to download map sections for use offline.

5. Google Translate (works offline)

Google Play | iTunes

The instant text translation feature that uses the smartphone camera was always useful, especially for pointing at menus in other languages. It wasn't perfect, but it gave you enough to go on. For instance, you might not get all the ingredients in a menu but enough to know you are looking at some sort of fish soup. Serve it up! 

Other Notable Apps

AirBNB - If you are traveling as a couple, it's possible to stay cheap at a place with your own kitchen and bathroom. 
Booking.com - This is another very good solution to find small hotels, apartments, and pensions. We split our four months in thirds with AirBNB, Booking.com, and bigger hotels.
PrivateInternetAccess - This can be a good VPN solution for extra security when you are connecting to so many WiFi hotspots.
Snapseed - This app has great photo editing tools to take your camera phone photos to a different level.

Travel Discoveries - Winter Tea Recipe

Hot Water, Tea, Cider (for Mulled Cider), or Red Wine (for Mulled Wine)
1 Tbsp. Honey
1 Orange Slice
1 Lemon Slice
Pinch Whole Cloves
Pinch Allspice Berries
Pinch Nutmeg
1 Fresh Ginger Slice
1 Cinnamon Stick

Combine and stir for a drink that will shock your senses and cure what ails you. After further research I can see this is a variation on the popular Christmas drink, mulled wine, but this Jewish boy didn't discover these spices until sitting in a posh Krakow, Poland, restaurant.

A little bummed to be sick in Krakow, Poland, and not get to try great beer, so I ordered a Winter Tea. This is my new go-to cure-all Winter pick-me-up.

A little bummed to be sick in Krakow, Poland, and not get to try great beer, so I ordered a Winter Tea. This is my new go-to cure-all Winter pick-me-up.

Enjoying my second Winter Tea in Zakopane, Poland after seeing it on another menu and realizing this is a thing.

Enjoying my second Winter Tea in Zakopane, Poland after seeing it on another menu and realizing this is a thing.

Logos Across Europe - Sofia - Cosmetics


Unfortunately, my photos do not give a good view of the reasoning behind this logo, like others in my Europe project. Everywhere we went in Bulgaria, there were shops selling rose products. It's one of the country's biggest exports. They had creams, perfumes, and even tea and jelly for sale. We tried everything, and purchased a few gifts.

The lion is a national symbol for Bulgaria, and is on the coat of arms. If you look at Bulgaria on a map, you might even be able to see a profile of a lion facing the Black Sea. I used that imagery to explain to family where we were in the country. "I'm in Plovdiv! It's in the middle of the belly of the lion."

It only made sense to put the lion and rose together in a logo. It has been a fun challenge.

Logos Across Europe - Paris - Café Invader

Inspiration

Real estate is very important in Paris. You pay more for the same coffee by sitting outside. Sitting outside is so much fun too. You get to smoke your cigarette and drink your Café au Lait with your girl by your side. I am taking many things from my time in Paris, but one thing that is so clear is the image of the two-seater tables outside of the cafes on every street corner.

Space Invader's street art was also everywhere. Just off in your periphery wherever you were. I always just thought of name Space Invader as only the icon from the video game, but now I really see the juxtaposition of the name with the art of graffiti. He is literally invading all spaces around the city. 

So I thought I would add my mark on Paris. Each Cafe I visit, I commemorate the occasion by tiling a wall near the cafe. I am Café Invader!

A few extra photos