Yesterday morning was probably the best morning I’ve ever had. I don’t know if it is the end of the holiday parties and I get to let down or the fact I was able to enjoy NYC like a kid, but I laughed the entire hour and a half I spent with Google. I met up with my fellow Team Pixel members in Union Square. I had no idea what to expect, but I was instantly greeted by a row of decked out Pedicabs. Like I said, I instantly began to laugh and smile. I’ve never been in a pedicab before, but always wanted to know what it was like to see New York City in one.
I was recently invited to Sea Beyond, where Royal Caribbean Cruises announce it’s latest technological advances and the frictionless experience for those aboard. It was an evening of many firsts. The first time I’ve ever seen gigantic robots dance in unison, which by the way was amazing and I linked a video of it below. It was the first time trying Virtual Reality dining, and eating food completely blind. It was the first to see what the new suites on Royal Caribean will look like, and the luxury is divine. Most importantly, it was the first time I’ve witness facial recognition to check passengers in. It is the effort the massive cruise line is making to ensure a frictionless experience for vacationers to board, relax, and have a wonderful time.
Ekk! Thanksgiving is next week which means the busiest travel week is upon us. I too am heading out for the holidays this year and cannot wait! I don’t know about you, but a vacation and a little downtime are exactly what I need. Every year, I pack a small bag and a big bag to travel. Both which get’s through security and on the plane with ease. Yep, I have mastered the art of traveling with only carry-ons. I, in fact, went to Europe for a full month with only one small roller bag and a purse. If you want for me to write a post on how to pack light, let me know in the comments!
Today I am sharing what I bring with me on my holiday travels. It’s typically the same essentials each year. And it looks a little something like this!
If you were born and raised in a western household in a western community, then Asia is probably a region full of mysteries and experiences that you’ll want to encounter at some point in life. However, because it’s such a distant and different place than what we’re used to, it can be difficult trying to find the right places to visit and the language barrier can be a problem. Fortunately, it’s fairly easy to travel to Southeast Asia without having to spend too much money, and we’ll be discussing some of those tips in this article.
Perhaps you’ve done a lot of traveling in your years. In fact, perhaps that’s the problem. You feel as if you’ve almost done too much traveling. You’ve seen everything there is to see, surely? You’ve gone to all the biggest capitals, seen all the most iconic sites (both manmade and natural) and skipped from continent to continent in order to experience every culture to some degree. While that’s fantastic in itself, there’s still very much to explore. There are smaller towns and cities that may never crossed your mind to explore, but contain intricit landscaps and incredible history. That means there’s always more for you to see, should you so wish. And don’t feel bad if you’ve only ever explored your local area because your chance to see more of the world could start right now! Here are some unique places to explore if you want to travel more.
Last month, I was fortunate enough to experience brunch at the infamous Lotte New York Palace. I’ve been in awe of the establishment since the days of Gossip Girl. But even before that huge television series filmed at the hotel, I have been in love with the architecture nestled behind Saint Patrick’s Cathedral. The beautiful structure has been there since 1882.
Last night, I was fortunate to attend the third presentation of Shorties by Condé Nast Traveler. I attended the event last year (check it out here!) and became enamored with the magazine, as well as the concept of one-minute video journeys around the world. Traveling is one of the greatest investment a person can make. The memories continue to grow over time, and your outlook on life changes almost drastically by being exposed to new cultures and traditions. There is something that is, for lack of better words, magical and feeds the soul when you travel.
In case you missed it, here’s part one and two. Finally, the end that you have been waiting for. Did we stay another night at the haunted apartment? What happened when we returned from dinner? Let’s find out…
Sitting at an outside cafe with our tapas and paella, we watched the locals relax into the evening. Work was over, and it was time to enjoy life. Something I relished about the European culture: delicious food, happy company, and the sense of no worries until tomorrow. But as our meal came to an end, a sense of dread loomed over my friend and me.
“How many more nights are we book at this apartment?” my friend asked as she sipped her sangria. I could tell neither one of use wanted to head back to the haunted flat.
I stabbed an apple slice floating in my sangria with my straw and let out a nervous sigh, “two more nights.”
“Oh my gosh. I honestly don’t know if we can do it,” my friend replied. “All day, I’ve been thinking of ways to make it work, but there is something wrong with that place.” There was a brief paused before she leaned in, “I didn’t want to freak you out earlier, but after we said those prayers I went into the kitchen to wash my hands. While I was in there, I glance up at the window overlooking the courtyard. In the reflection, I saw this dark figure. It was there only a second, but I felt its’ presence directly behind me.”
“There is something I didn’t mention as well,” I took a breath. “When I woke up after my dream, I looked all around the room before turning the lights on. At the end of my bed was a long dark shadow. I thought it was a bed post or something because that’s what it looked like.”
“Yeah…” My friend interjected as we huddled towards the center of the table, clenching our glasses.
“There’s no bedpost on my bed. I realized that when I turned the light back on.”
“Oh hell no! That’s it we can’t stay there another night. I mean what if you wake up tonight and turn to me speaking in tongues? I rather lose the money” My friend exclaimed pushing away from the table. “Uh-uh.”
“What should we do? Because the sun is setting as well speak and I rather not be possessed on this trip.”
“I’ll look up hotels, ” My friend whipped out her phone while I grabbed the check. Within minutes, she book a place for tonight while I paid the bill. If anything, this haunting experience has really made us work like pros together.
Five minutes later, we were standing in front of the apartment. I turned the lock to enter the dark foyer with green and brown peeling paint.
“How did we not notice this before, it is straight out of a horror flick?” I asked while looking at the walls.
We walking into the elevator that is only big enough for two people and pressed our floor. The doors shut and the light began to flicker. All of the sudden the elevator felt like it was rocking back and forth barely moving between floors.
“You got to be kidding me,” My friend said.
“This can’t happening”. I closed my eyes and began praying my freaking heart.
It took a minute, but the elevator finally moved and opened to our floor.
I turned the key to the apartment door and hesitantly stepped inside. The air is thicker than I remembered. The sun is quickly setting and the space was dark.
“I am going to keep the front door open, just in case,” I told my friend as I propped a chair in front of the heavy door. I didn’t want to be locked in here with evil spirits lurking.
I slowly made my way further into the flat, switching on lights as I went. I got to my room and turned the handle terrified to go in. As I creaked the door open. There it was, the mirror facing directly towards me again. There is no way for it to unlatch itself, there is no reason for it to be moving on its own. Something is living in this apartment and is not happy that we are here.
As fast as I humanly could, I snatched all my belonging from the closet and checked under the bed to make sure I had everything. I had never been so terrified in my life to look under a bed. I braced myself as I placed my head to the floor. I felt the thickness in the air surrounding my every move. I lifted the edge of the dust ruffle and looked. Only a water bottle cap was there. Oh thank goodness.
I picked up the cap, refusing to leave anything behind and I hauled my stuff into the living room to repack. I will never step foot in that room ever again.
As I was repacked at lightening pace I heard, “Ellese?”
My friend’s voice came from her room.
“Are you okay? Is everything okay?” I respond.
“Uh, yeah. Let’s get out of her quickly though.”
I zipped up the last bag, made one final sweep of the place and headed to the front door. I hung up the keys on the hook near the door before shutting it for good.
“Give me one of your bags,” I motioned for my friend to hand me one of her large suitcases. With her large suitcase, my large suitcase and a duffle bag I made my way to the stairs, “I am not stepping foot in that elevator.”
Trudging down the floors, I noticed that they were all dark with this giant marble stairway in the middle.
“Did you ever realize how much this looks like an old school?” I mentioned as we got to the first floor.
“It really does. It is eerily like your dream. Maybe the lone balcony is the principles old office.” My friend replied. Maybe so.
Once outside, I miraculously spotted a cab at the corner intersection. Unlike New York, there weren’t cabs at every block. So when I saw this one, I ran for it. I mean sprinted, dragging the bags with me and flailing one arm like a maniac. To me this was my only way out of this nightmare.
The cab driver looked at me like I was nuts, which honestly I didn’t blame him. We gave the hotel’s address and loaded into the taxi. I watched as the apartment was finally out of sight.
“So, why did you call my name before we left?” I looked down at my feet and realized I forgot to tie my sneakers before sprinting out.
“Before we left the apartment, did you move my luggage?” she asked me.
“No, why?” I laced up my shoes as she looked frightened.
“I had my purse was in the center of the bed, but when I went back into the room my purse was on the floor with credit cards, eyeliners, and lip gloss scattered on the ground.” My heart stopped when I heard this.
“I am so glad we are out of there,” I looked out into the night sky. “I can only imagine what would have happened next.”
Thank you for reading my real life ghost story in Barcelona. The events really did happen. I eventually worked with Airbnb to get a refund for our stay. They were extremely cooperative and even wrote this short email:
The rest of our trip was smooth sailing. I ended up visiting the Vatican in Rome where I bought a rosary, and St. Michael pendant for extra protection. I’m not even Catholic, but thought it can’t hurt! It was also where we met the legendary “Mr. Winker”, who I am all too excited to tell you about on Monday.
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So, you’re brave enough to return. Hadn’t my real life ghost story freaked you out enough? Or are you dying to know what happened next?
Let’s see, where did I leave you? Ah yes, I was walking back from the bathroom after discovering the light was on. Something I knew for certain I turned off before going to bed. I am one of those people who needs it completely dark in order to sleep.
While heading down the long corridor to my room, I felt a strong energy following me. It drew closer and closer to the point that my neck started to tingle. Too afraid to turn around to see what it might be, I scurried to my room and flipped on the light. As the bulb flickered on, I saw my reflection greeting me at the doorway. The mirror somehow unhooking itself from the original position and turn 45 degrees away from the wall. “How does this keep happening?” I whispered to myself.
The one thought that came to mind was what my boyfriend had once told me. In his culture, Jamaicans never bought used or old mirrors because it is believed that souls could remain trapped inside.
“Fantastic, I am so glad I have that thought crossing my mind right now,” as I climbed back into bed. I kept the light on for awhile longer, hoping to calm myself down enough to eventually fall asleep. I watched as the hours passed on the clock beside me. Two am, three am, eventually four in the morning I figured maybe I could finally rest. It was after the bewitching hour and nothing else had moved.
I turned off the light, and within minutes fell asleep. That was my greatest mistake.
[The next part is slightly disturbing and not appropriate for children, read at your own risk]
I fell into a deep sleep, during which I had a vivid dream. I stood near an establishment that seemed to be part school and part church. Children, parents, and familiar faces were dancing all around on a green lawn. There was a cascading gothic tower in the near distance. Everyone was celebrating and seemed to be happy.
Out of the crowd, a man who wore tattered overalls and had a look of desperation on his face, raged towards me. I panicked. I somehow knew him.
When he got closer he said “Please, I beg you. You cannot fire me. I need this job. I need this job.” I noticed white strokes on his jeans. He’s the painter for this establishment, and I must be partly in charge.
I shrugged and heard myself say, “there is nothing I can do.”
As I said those words I watched him stand up and angrily stammered, ” If I can’t work, if I don’t have a job, then I’m going to commit suicide,” and forcibly bolted through the crowd.
Heartbroken, I began yelling “Stop, Stop. Don’t do that!” As I began chasing after him I heard someone call my name.
“Ellese,” startled, I turned to see who knew me. I saw a tall clergyman cloaked in his traditional garb yelling. “We need you, there is a girl that needs help.”
Torn as to which was to go, I decided to follow the clergyman who seemed to be in charge. As we approach this large dark room with rows of empty beds, I slowed my pace. Something didn’t feel right. I took a couple of steps forward to turn the corner. There I saw laying on the ground a young girl who had her legs broken at the knees. I knew she was alive but I didn’t want to see more.
The man who knew my name and acted like a figure on the church was standing over her body. But his whole phsyic changed. His eyes became vicious and his voice more sinister. He said, “Look at what we were able to do in an hour, imagine what we can do together…”
That is when I stared him straight in the eyes and yelled as loud as I could “YOU B@$%@!D.” A phrase I never use, a word I never say.
At that precise moment, I saw his face shrink backward and I jolted awake. As I woke up I felt this huge energy force leaving my body. I never believed in dark energy, but this was unlike anything I’ve ever felt before.
For a few minutes paralyzed out of fear, I stayed stationary trembling on the inside. Every hair on my body stood on end. I looked around the dark room, panicked and disturbed. I repeated to myself that I am okay, I am safe, it was just a dream. I bravely reach my hand out for the lamp switch and let the light slowly fill the room. Nothing was there, nothing else had moved.
I looked at the clock, it was only six in the morning. I felt my body shaking from exhaustion and that odd feeling of having something leave me. I replayed everything in my head, trying to figure out what it meant.
Around 7:30, I heard my friend as she walked down the hall. I called her and told the whole story, praying she didn’t think I was crazy.
“No, I believe you! I felt some strange energy last night when I was alone. Maybe someone did commit suicide her and needs help. Let me text my brother to see what to do. He knows certain prayers to help the souls who are stuck.”
I nodded my head, thinking we need something if I am going to stay here again tonight.
She received a list of prayers, and we went room to room and read them off her iPhone. I pushed the mirror back into place and I turned to my friend and thought, this isn’t exactly what I imagine we’d be doing in Barcelona. After breakfast, I check the mirror in my room and it hadn’t moved! Maybe the prayers actually worked.
In the hopes of reviving the day, we left the apartment and took a tour bus around the whole city. I sat on the upper deck in the shade and watched the beautiful city pass by. I was pleasantly happy not having to move while listening to the history of the city. It made me forget all about last night and the apartment. Well, until dinner…
Come back at noon for the final cut!
Here are some photos from our Bus tour. At least Barcelona is gorgeous!