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Tea Time with Tina is BACK!

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My talk show Tea Time with Tina is BACK! It’s difficult to find silver linings or things to look forward to during this uncertain time of quarantining, social distancing and staggering pandemic stats, which is why I have decided to relaunch my talk show Tea Time with Tina. We find ourselves needing entertainment and looking at screens more than ever so what better time to bring you a little recluse? So sit back, relax, pour yourself a cup of your favorite beverage and sip along while I spill the tea. Feel free to comment on the various videos with topic & guest suggestions. Episode 1 is aptly all about self-care (of your thoughts 💭 & mind 🧠 )

Travel Guide to Dubrovnik

When you hear of the city “Dubrovnik”, HBO’s “Game of Thrones” comes to mind. It’s true, Dubrovnik, Croatia tourism has boomed ever since GOT premiered the gorgeous White City of “King’s Landing”, but Dubrovnik is a beautiful city with friendly people and a storied past that goes beyond the Emmy Award Winning Drama.

I was fortunate enough to visit Dubrovnik this past May for my sister’s wedding and wanted to share all the hot spots for those of you traveling to this wonderful city. I’ll show you the best food, bars, gelato, tours, views, photo opps, and more!!

Preparation

Flight / Airline

When I booked, there were no direct flights to Dubrovnik. I flew economy from Boston, Ma, USA to Dubrovnik, Croatia with a layover in Dublin via AerLingus and It. Was. Fabulous. I was anxious about fitting all my clothes, plus my bridesmaid dress, in a small carry-on but luckily I didn’t need to. AerLingus gives you ONE FREE CHECKED BAG, ONE FREE CARRY-ON AND ONE FREE PERSONAL ITEM. Thats right. Additionally, they had free new movies and were super friendly. My flight only cost $700 roundtrip. 10/10 would recommend. Pro tip: just book at least a few months in advance and in an incognito window.

Currency

Pro tip: request Kuna (the Croatian currency) from your bank at least 48 hours prior to traveling. I was misinformed & told Euros (EU currency) were interchangeably used in Croatia. They are not FYI. Most businesses in Dubrovnik are local, small businesses and do not accept Euro because they lose money in the exchange. So when you get to Old Town & see that a cocktail is 75 kn, don’t have a heart attack–that equates to ~$12 USD. If you get stuck with Euros like me or only bring US dollars, there are plenty of places to exchange currency but you will be at the mercy of the exchange rate & fees that day.

Language

Whenever you are going to foreign country, you should learn a few words or key phrases. Not only will it improve the quality of service you receive, but it will start conversations & improve your overall experience as a tourist. Here are a few key words/phrases I was taught by Croatians:

Thank you : Hvala

Beer: pivo

Please / Response to “Thank You”: Molim

Your City is Beautiful: vaš grad je lijep

Attractions / Tours / Photo Opps

Dubrovnik Tourist Guide

Want a GOT tour, a photo tour, a history tour or a custom tour? BOOK IVAN ! He is the official tour guide for GOT actors, a National Geographic co-host & local Dubrovnik celebrity. He has been featured in People, TIME & El Mundo. See for yourself Here.

He gave my brother, sister, boyfriend, sister’s boyfriend and myself a custom tour. He asked me what I like, I said: GOT, Film, History, Culture, Food & authentic, one-of-a-kind experiences you cannot get anywhere else”. He customized the tour to include all this and more. He spent FOUR HOURS with us. AND we saw him at one of the local spots he recommended days later & we drank coffee & chit-chatted about life. I cannot recommend him enough!

Ana is the founder of Hello Dubrovnik and she is just as adorable as her IG photos. As a Dubrovnik native, she has connects to all the local brands, products & services to customers like me & you. She gave me custom recs for food, shopping, tours & photo opps. She’s the one who recommended Ivan (mentioned above). She even offered to set up reservations FOR ME at spots that were booked for months. She’s a gem! Im not even going to give you all the recs she gave me because you will just have to ask her yourself. Trust me, you wont regret it!!

Dubrovnik City Walls

The one thing everyone will recommend is walking the city walls. Old Town Dubrovnik is enclosed by a fortress of walls you can walk along to view the expansive city & coast. The photo to the left here was taken when it started randomly pouring about 5 minutes into our walk. Though, I gladly got soaked to catch a glimpse of these breathtaking views.

I bought tickets in the square for 200 kn (~$50 USD) so I don’t have a great, reliable rec for money saves here. It seems this is pretty standard in my research although you may be able to save a few bucks on websites I cannot personally vouch for. Most of the photos I took of Dubrovnik were taken on this self-guided tour. You can get a tour guide but I highly recommend booking Ivan (mentioned above) separate within the city walls and just enjoying the city wall views without a tour guide. DISCLAIMER: once you get on the wall, you cannot leave & go back. Your admission ticket is only valid once you enter the gates & is rendered void as soon as you leave.

Galleon Tirena

Take a cruise in this gorgeous sea beast called the Galleon Tirena. I was fortunate enough to ride for free since it was part of my sister’s wedding package but for ~50 Euro, this sail is fully worth it. As a social media content creator, this cruise is certifiably ‘grammable. Check out some scene pics captured by moi (and a professional wedding photographer) .

Either before you board the Galleon or after you return to port, walk around the port & the surrounding walls. It has the most gorgeous views of the city. Best of all, its free to look & take ‘grammable pics. But dont take my word for it, look:

Sponza Palace

Sponza Palace is such a gorgeous building with a ton of history. It has withstood hundreds of years, fires & earthquakes and still maintains its beauty. Definetely worth a quick visit. Pro tip: Go in & look up then go upstairs to look down. Its breathtaking arcs & open ceiling will leave you swooning.

Clara Stones

This jewelry store is unlike any other. There are two storefronts right across the ally from one another; one is commercial & the other is more demo/high end. Coral is a very rare commodity & a Croatian specialty.

I went here twice. TWICE. Once on my tour with Ivan (mentioned above) & once with my mom–who is a professional jeweler. Her & the lead jeweler talked about coral & precious stones for over an hour. He even gave her his personal email to stay in touch. I guess there are not a lot of coral enthusiasts & I can see why: it’s so rare that it’s authentic. I will let them explain the process to you but spoiler alert: its fascinating. Even if you are not a jeweler, like me. Mark my words: I will be back here when I get rich & famous to wear one of their gorgeous coral pieces.

Food / Drink

Konoba Dubrava

Hands down, Konoba Dubrava is the best meal I had in Croatia and perhaps in my life….and if you knew me, you would know I would NEVER say that lightly. Disclaimer: this place is not best fit for vegetarians, nor is most of Dubrovnik since their specialty is Octopus & all things seafood.

We ordered the ribeye, the octopus, grilled chicken, chicken wings, french fries, salad & lots of Croatian red wine. If you don’t go with a hungry army like I did and could only order one thing, I would HIGHLY recommend the octopus. It changed my life. The wait staff was amazing & made excellent recommendations! One drawback: it sits on top of a windy mountain so be sure to buckle up in your Uber 😉

Lady Pi Pi

This oddly named restaurant had one of the best views of Dubrovnik plus delicious, reasonably priced food. It’s named after a fountain of a woman with water coming out of her lady bits. I kid you not. You would think this place would be packed but its steep hike up hundreds of stairs just outside the walls borders deters most. Pro tip: wear sneakers!

I happened upon Lady Pi Pi by accident. I was on a mission to find an authentic, hole-in-the-wall spot with a good view. I climbed up hundreds of stairs toward the walls that enclose the city and when I got to the top / the wall border, there it was. Nestled just outside the wall, with an ivy-covered pergola & the best views of the city outside the wall tour, Lady Pi Pi is a MUST. Be ready to climb but what a way to burn off that free bread basket 😉

D’Vino Wine Bar

This was my favorite place to get a glass of wine. Not only did they give us a flight of wine to taste, but their Australian-Croatian sommelier explained his excursions to find each fine wine in great detail. If you love wine as much as I do, this is a must. Get a wine tasting flight & sit outside. You’re welcome.

Glam Cafe

After you get wine drunk at D’Vino’s, save your table & send someone right across the ally to Glam Cafe for lattes & craft beers. The man who works here loves nerding out about craft beers from all over. He came over to give my boyfriend (a craft beer enthusiast) a sip of a rare craft beer he himself was saving for such an occasion. Croatian people are truly the kindest & most generous people. Bonus points: if you have ever been to or heard of Treehouse Brewery –mention it to him. He is OBSESSED with their beer. Massachusetts is internationally known for its beer 😉 Yes thats their sticker on my fridge.

Dolce Vita

You cant do to Europe & not get Gelato. It’s sacrilegious. I went to two Gelato spots, one touristy one & one authentic one. Which one did I prefer? The authentic one obvs: Dolce Vita. They have amazing flavors but you have to get their namesake flavor: Dolce Vita.

Want the ‘grammable, gimmicky experience? I don’t blame you. Hell, thats why I went to the alternative spot: Peppino’s. I got their GOT themed flavor. It was super delicious, albeit not as authentic gelato as Dolce Vita but totally worth it for the ‘gram. Check it out:

Oliva Pizzeria

Want to keep it simple with some budget-friendly pizza? Oliva is the place to get it then. Quick, easy & nice servers. No frills but very cute & cozy. My family & I went here because it was close to our AirBnB & we wanted a relaxing dinner after the wedding madness!

Phew!! That was a lot, I know. And believe it or not, I left out a TON. There were two whole days of festivities I didn’t include among countless other gems that just didn’t make the cut as the BEST of Dubrovnik. There are quite a few expiditions I was unable to enjoy but were recommended, like cave diving, kayaking, etc. But that will have to wait till next time. Hope this was helpful!

xo, Tina Bell

Top Shelf Vintage Co Spring Lookbook

Hello Bellas!

This past weekend I shot with one of my all time favs: Annie from Top Shelf Vintage Co. If you ever want to feel like a million bucks, I highly recommend shooting for her brand. Not only are the clothes amazing and comfortable (maybe because I’m in my element in clothes from another decade), but Annie is such a sweetheart; she give good direction and you’ll get killer images.

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BEWARE: you may end up spending some cash on her items. Not too long ago I modeled a pair of pants for her and I bought them after I modeled them. To this day, I call them my magic pants. You can see them here:

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I told you they were magic pants. I could re-write the entire story of the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, except with just me and these pants. I digress.

This past Saturday, Annie and I went to Providence to a bowling ally to get our product shots for her Instagram and website. The bowling ally was FANTASTIC. Not only were they extremely accommodating, but the ally itself is vintage gold. Check out this carpet:

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COME ON! That carpet needs to be in my house STAT! Even more importantly, that bodysuit is EVERYTHING. I almost bought it off of her, but I promised to budget these next few months for my vacation 🙂 But look at that 70s cut-out bodysuit…LOOK AT IT. I’m obsessed. And the pants are extremely flattering mom jeans. That’s right, you heard me, FLATTERING mom jeans.

And more fun in her clothes:

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A very special thanks to Lang’s Bowlarama in Providence, RI for hosting us, allowing us to roll around on your carpet and lanes, and lending us bowling shoes and balls. You’re the true champions here. Head on over to Top Shelf Vintage Co!

xo Tina Bell

Top #Hashtags to Use in #Modeling #Artistry #Photography or #Industry

Hello Bellas!

Today’s blog is about #Hashtags so I apologize in advance for my excessive use. As a model, MUA, Hair stylist, photographer, or designer here are some hashtags by category you should copy and paste into your social media to build viewership.

Model:

#model #modeling #highfashion #pretty #beautiful #sexy #face #beauty #photoshoot #studio #studiolife #bostonmodel (or wherever you’re from) #fashion #editorial #instamodel #modeltowatch #instamag #magazine #catwalk #runway #fashionshow #clavicles #boudoir #catalog #vogue

MUA/Hair:

#MAKEUP #MUA #MAKEUPARTIST #COSMETICS #EYESHADOW #EYES #LIPS #LIPSTICK #MAKEUPADDICT #MAKEUPJUNKIE #INSTAMAKEUP #BEAUTIFUL #BYME #LOVE #FACE #PRETTY #PICOFTHEDAY #BLUSH #HAIR #FACE #STYLIST #STYLE #WEDDING #PORTRAIT #BEAUTY #ONFLEEK #ONPOINT

Photographer:

#photography #photo #photos #picture #photographer #pictures #snapshot #art #beautiful #instagood #picoftheday #photooftheday #exposure #composition #focus #capture #moment #photoshoot #photodaily #photogram #potd #bestoftheday #igers

Designer: 

#DESIGNER #DESIGNS #BYME #WIW #HIGHFASHION #FASHION # RUNWAY #FABRIC #TEXTILE #STATEMENT #LOVE #WEARME BRANDING #STYLE #NYC #MILAN #PARIS #BOSTON #LONGDON #COUTURE #INSTAMILLION #FOLLOWME #WCW #MCM #OOTD #SILK

When in doubt, Google it. Also, a good idea to start branding yourself is to come up with a catch phrase or good play on words including your brand like: #TeaTimeWithTina #TinaBell #TickleMeTina or #TinkerbellTina (for me). Another good idea would be to be consistent…like every Saturday you post a selfie with #selfiesaturday that way your fans have something to look forward to and frequent your page on Saturdays. Make sure not to be too professional/straight-laced–people want to see a mix of professional photos and the casual/everyday you–it makes you more relatable. That being said, don’t go too high school or amateur with it…people don’t care about you enough to see what you eat every meal.

xo Tina Bell

Open Letter to The Introvert

Hello Bellas!

This is my open letter to the introvert who has had to look within to find self-worth. As my friends and followers know by now, I model. I started doing it to help photographer friends build their portfolios and to get pretty pictures (who doesn’t need a professional prof pic?!). I only just recently truly immersed myself in the modeling world (January 29th to be exact) and I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to have good self esteem.

I used to use social media as a calibrator for self-esteem; posting a picture of myself all done up and letting the amount of likes generate my self-worth. Of course, that helps, but it’s no way to learn to truly love yourself. That method of calibration leaves you feeling shattered every time you don’t get as many likes as you felt you deserved. However, social media like Facebook and Instagram are shallow representations of how you “should” look or “should” feel. For example, I will post a picture of myself like this…

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…and get an overflow of likes. But if I post a link to my blog, a fundraiser that’s dear to my heart, or a pic of me goofing off (me the other 98% of the time), my “like threshold” barely reaches substandard levels. It’s sad. Before I had a shred of self-esteem, something like that would have crushed me.

But thats what modeling has done for me: given me the gift of self-esteem. Surprising, I know. On a regular basis I am put up against younger, skinnier girls with more modeling experience. At first, it made me nervous and I almost never went back. Yet, I got invitations to keep coming and collaborating. Somehow my insecurity hadn’t completely ruined my chances.

The next shoot I was determined. I blocked out the noise, the haters, the observers and embraced the moment. Now people laugh when I walk up to the plate and get behind a camera because they try to talk to me and I don’t even hear them! I’m in the zone. I am busy turning it up and turning pics out. Something changed in me that day. I started going to brunch (unmistakably the best and most underrated meal of the day) without makeup on. I have started learning how to beautify myself. I have educated myself on what want out of my life and my career. Photographers and people have been contacting me. Just when I wanted to hide away from the world, the world has taken notice. Its been fabulous. Confidence is a good color on everyone.

So, modeling world, I thank you. You gave me a run for my money. Just when you were about to break me, you made me. I write this for my fallen comrades who never gave themselves the chance! Invest in yourself, don’t let social media measure your self worth, tune out the haters, and YOU’LL KILL IT. Once you feel like it’s all for not, hopeless; that’s when you need to put your head down, headphones in, and GRIND. Thanks modeling for almost killing me. If you hadn’t, I would never have turned inward and found my strength. Corny, I know. Don’t worry though, I’m done. It’s your move now. So, what will you choose?

xo Tina Bell