Romantic Valentine’s Day Destinations

Romantic Valentine’s Day Destinations

Valentine’s Day is a celebration of love often made out to be a holiday contrived by corporate America to make us spend money to prove our love to someone. However, we often lose sight of the ultimate message. During our daily lives of juggling busy schedules, work and family we often forget to take time out just to appreciate that special person in our life. So use this Valentine’s Day to show someone just how special they are by going to a romantic destination that you both can enjoy. Check out this article I wrote for CBS about the most romantic destinations around the world, here.

Happy Valentine’s Day,

City Girl Riss

5 Scariest Haunted Houses in America

5 Scariest  Haunted Houses in America


Happy Halloween! With the final weekend of October approaching be sure to check outthe  5 Scariest Haunted Houses in America. If you REALLY enjoy being scared be sure to stop by on of these haunted houses to get the full Halloween experience. Just make sure you can handle being touched, grouped, maybe even faux water boarded. The videos alone were enough to give me nightmares. Check out the article here.


New York, Los Angeles

Adults 18+ Only



Dent Schoolhouse

Cincinnati Ohio

Parental Adivsory Explict Content



Haunted Hoochie at Dead Achres

Pataskala, Ohio

Parental Adivsory Explict Content



Freakling Bros: The Victim Experience

Las Vegas, Nevada

Adults 18 + only


McKamey Manor

San Diego, California

Adults 21+ Only!



5 Spookiest Halloween Travel Destinations

5 Spookiest Halloween Travel Destinations

Here’s an article I wrote for CBS about 5 of the Spookiest Travel Destinations. This year I will be going to Halloween Horror Nights in Orlando, Florida! In 2013, I spent Halloween weekend at Burg Frankenstein where the actors are allowed to touch you. It was certainly my least favorite part about the interactive experience. However, no one was quite as scared as my good friend Melanie. Dear Mel, these are my absolute favorite please don’t hate me. I love you! Thank you Kelly for the pictures. You can read the full article here.




Happy Halloween,

City Girl Riss

7 German Phrases You’ll Want to Know

7 German Phrases You’ll Want to Know

The article I wrote for Pink Pangea is here!


Check out this post about 7 German Phrases You’ll Want to Know here. Be sure to explore Pink Pangea as well! A great site for female travelers offering tips, tricks, experiences, yoga, hiking, and writing courses all over the world!

7 German Phrases You’ll Want to Know

Hope everyone is enjoying the spring as much as I am! Prost!


Happy Traveling,

City Girl Riss

Istanbul, Turkey: What to do

The one where I was banned from traveling…


…because they felt it wasn’t safe. As I’ve mentioned, my former boyfriend and I work  for the US Army. Before we travel to another country, we have to put in a pass for vacation and specify the country we will be traveling to. For safety reasons there are some places that we can not visit  (i.e. Iraq, Iran, Syria.)  due to recent political entagelements and proximity to neighboring “no fly zone” countries. Long story short, our pass was denied for Istanbul, Turkey and despite our booked flights, hotels, and tours the Army did not approve of our trip.


Luckily for me I’m an adult fully capabile of making my own decisions so I decided to go anyways. That being said, the following weekend would lead to a slew of “praying for you” and “you’re crazy” messages from my loved ones arond the world. The most frequently question I got was, “Is it safe?” Unfortunately, there is no black and white answer that exists. Instead I invite you to read my story and look at some basic facts that may help you in making you’re decision on future travel plans to Turkey.


Lets start with the facts…

Turkey is a country that is split between two continents. Separated by the Turkish Straight, Istanbul is located on both the European continent and the Asian continent. Turkey is a democratic, secular, unitary, constitutional republic with a diverse cultural heritage. The vast majority of the population is Sunni Muslim and practice prayer in Mosque’s. Having a long timeline filled with history, Turkish tourism has experienced a huge growth within the last 20 years. In addition to the beautiful city of Istanbul, Turkey offers two out of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, 13 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and 51 historic archaeological sites and historic urban centers. It’s no wonder that it’s the  sixth most popular tourist destination in the world.


Although Turkey is a predominately Muslim country, it’s important to remember that not all Muslim countries are created equal. Comparing Turkey to one of its neighboring countries would be like comparing the US to one of our neighboring countries. Different governments, different histories, different customs.


During my visit I never felt afraid or taken advantage of. To the best of my abilities I tried to respect the status quo dress code of turkey. Typically the men wear parents and a t shirt while the women wear pants, a longer tunic, and a pashmina. However, there was never an issue of my western clothing other than when entering a Mosque to which I either came prepared or borrowed the necessary items from the Mosque. Not to mention, that shopping for a pashmina at the grand bazaar was a lot of fun! Of course, whilst traveling in any country you should always be aware of your surroundings and try to travel with a companion when you can. It’s important to beware of people trying to take advantage you. I met two wonderful ladies from Ireland who had taken a taxi and been charged double the price because of their gender. Make sure you set a price with your taxi driver before the destination and inform him that you will only pay the agreed amount. If you still feel unsure about it take public transportation! It’s not as unmanageable as you’d think and I find that many people are willing to help if you ask.


Now on to the fun stuff…


From the airport we took a taxi and arrived at our hotel in old town. Old town is where you’ll find the more historical sites like our first stop to the…


Hagia Sophia – This former mosque turned museum is the epitome of Byzantine architecture. Inside you will find mosaics, marble pillars, and a breathtaking dome in the center. Believe it or not, this famous mosque was originally constructed and used as a church. However, during the Ottoman Empire the country went through a series of changes and decided that a mosque was more suitable. You are encouraged to wear the traditional dress, however, it is not strictly enforced. Just across the street you will find the equally famous…


Blue Mosque – You will be required to follow the dress code. Luckily, the mosque carries shawls and scarfs that you may use for your visit. This mosque is still active and has a small area where you may take pictures. The larger area is for prayer and is open to all who practice. Just be sure to check the daily schedule because the mosque closes for a prayer service every few hours. Fun fact: The Sultan Ahmed Mosque, more popularly know as the blue mosque gets its nick name from the several thousand of adorning blue tiles on the interior. Certainly a must see. Now just 500 feet southwest of the Hagia Sophia you will find the…


Basilica Cistern – Built in the 6th century during the Byzantine Empire Justinian, this enlarged water filtration system was used to supply water to the great palace of Constantinople, buildings on the first hill, and the Topkapi palace. Although almost empty now, the cistern can hold 100,000 tons of water and is also home the mysterious medusa columns. Although no one is quite sure how or why they are situated there the conspiracy theories are enough to keep the history buff in your life puzzling for hours. On a side note, you have to look hard for this exhibit since it’s entirely underground and the entrance is a small building that can be hidden by large crowds. The next site you’ll find if you keep heading down south from the Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, the Basilica and you’ll find…topkapi-6.jpg

Topkapi Palace – What was once one of the major residences of the Ottoman Empire Sultans for almost 400 years is now a UNESCO world heritage sight, museum, and a huge insight into history and life during this 624 year reign. Containing important relics such as porcelain, weapons, shields, armor, Islamic calligraphic manuscripts, royal jewels, and Muhammed’s cloak and sword. If you fancy a more completed and modern palace and your time is limited be sure to take a trip to see…Dolmabahçe Palace -08 130501

Dolmabahçe Palace – Located in the Beşiktaş  district on the European coastline of the Bosphorus strait, this palace served as the main administrative center of the Ottoman Empire from 1856. The palace layout and décor reflect the increasing influence of European styles and standards on Ottoman Culture and is decorated predominately with gold and crystal. It is also home to the world’s largest Bohemian Crystal Chandelier with 750 lamps and weighing at about 4.5 tons. The gates, fountains, and gardens alone will surely have you feeling like Royalty. If you look across the Bosphorus strait you can see the asian side but if you want a better view try a….bosphorus-tour-istanbul-01.jpg

Cruise Trip – Just a cruise during the day will allow you to see all the sights Istanbul has to offer. However, if you’d like dinner and a show you must try a dinner cruise! You’ll be able to enjoy a traditional turkish meal followed by cocktails under the Bosphorus bridge accompanied by traditional turkish dancing and music. You’ll achieve amazing pictures and have lots of laughs. If you get sea sick but still want amazing pictures be sure to check out a…6915_hamdi-restaurant-eminonu.jpg

Roof top Restaraunt – Try a famous clay pot kebab and get great views of old town. There are tons of options to choose from in old town! A mixed meze plate, turkish tea, and baklavah is also a must have! If you like the tea as much as I did pick up some over at the…


The Grand Bazaar – One of the largest and oldest covered markets with 61 streets and over 3,000 shops. With everything from pottery to pashminas to spices to leather products the Bazaar is a shoppers heaven. You will certainly find sovenuiers for the whole family.


Finally, to finish off the trip we missed our flight because turkish airlines requires you to check in an hour before your flight and we arrived 55 minutes before our flight ..moral of the story, make sure you check in for your flight an hour before or else you’ll be forced to buy new tickets to a different airport before you have to be back at work the next day for the trip you “didn’t” take. Apologize for the lack of pictures as well…the laptop and phone died within the same week….and thus lost all of my turkey photos 🙁 Guess i’ll just have to return!


Other notable mentions-

  1. Try some turkish delight. A sweet traditional Turkish treat.

2. Take a visit to the spice bazaar and explore the Asian side of Turkey.

3. Gülhane Park.


Have any other great things to do in Istanbul? Leave a message in the comments below!


Happy Traveling,

City Girl Riss












Tip of the Week: Travel Hack

Tip of the Week: Travel Hack

Annnd we’re back! Sorry for the delay in posts, the holidays and the move back to NYC has been crazy. I’m settled and ready to get back on the blog train so stay tuned. With that comes weekly tips. Yay!


This week I’m putting my focus on technology. Having a smart phone is an absolute life saver when visiting a big city! Even in airplane mode the battery can desert you when you need it most. This past vacation my friend brought along her portable charger and I don’t know how I’ve made it this far with out one! I immediately went out and bought a big charger that holds enough power to charge a phone and a tablet. Worthy investment and great travel accessory. Hope this tip helps.



Happy Traveling,

City Girl Riss

Last Minute Gifts for Travel Addicts

Last Minute Gifts for Travel Addicts

Christmas is around the corner! Have you found a gift for the world traveler in your life? Try these last minute gifts that’s bound to wow even the most experienced explorer.


  1. Portable charger – The perfect gift for your techie loved one who “literally can’t even.” Traveling is an adventure that requires GPS, Yelp, and Instagram. This can take up a lot of precious battery on an all day tour. That’s why the portable charger will come in handy holding 2 or more extra charges.
  2. GoPro Hero – For the adventure addict who can’t wait to jump out of a plane. This camera/video recorder provides endless options for taking photos, posting them online and making an epic video of your once and a lifetime trip. Not to mention, the tons of accessories that you and your family can coordinate on together.
  3. Collapsible dishwear – From tupperware to pots to stackable cutlery, the backpacker in your family will thank you for years to come. Stack it, fold it, collapse it…the less space it requires the better!
  4. Filtered Water Bottle – For the explorer who likes to take the off beaten path. Whether in a third world country or in the wild, clean water can be hard to come by. Make their life a little easier and get them the product that does the hard work for them.
  5. Lifeproof Case – For that person who seems like they’re always on a cruise ship. Water is their pleasure and if there’s one thing that doesn’t mix it’s water and electronics. They’ll thank you later by sending you all their underwater selfies from the Bahamas.
  6. Travel Size Hair Tools – This vacation can’t even handle her right now with this great gift! From a travel size flat iron to a cordless curling iron, the beauty queen will hail the ground you walk on.
  7. Makeup Palette – Blush, check, eye shadow, check, lip gloss, check! A lady who travels doesn’t like to take a lot with her. If she loves makeup make her life a little less stressful by gifting her an all-in-one makeup palette.
  8. Wet Brush – The water bug that has to hit the ocean as soon as she gets to the beach will do kart wheels over  this product. Specifically designed to brush easily through wet hair, this brush provides TLC to your locks with gentle ease. Even Santa himself would love this gift!
  9. Neck Pillow – Sometimes it doesn’t matter how we get to our destination just so long as we arrive. A simple neck pillow will make all the difference. Bonus points if it has a strap to throw around your carry on or clips easily onto your backpack. Inflatable pillows are a plus for the outdoors person who sleeps via hammock.
  10. USB Car Charger – The road tripper will certainly appreciate this gem. A phone is a necessity for bathroom bakes and food stops. Not to mention all the pictures they’ll take at the worlds largest ball of yarn.
  11. 4-port USB Wall Charger Travel Kit –   Unfortunately, the world is not unanimous when it comes to electricity. Everyone enjoys being prepared and you’ll be the best relative or friend for providing it.
  12. Travel Size Toiletres – If you need a few stocking stuffers for the traveler in your life go with travel size bathroom products. They’ll be used up in no time and the bottles can be reused again and again.

Now all that’s left to do is add on the overnight shipping! The new year brings new adventures.


Happy Traveling,

City Girl Riss