Accommodations

Visitors, a dozen of them!

Visitors! I’d love to go into full detail about each guest and at happened while they were here, but I’m too eager to catch up to the present day! With that said, I’m just going to sum up the 10 wonderful months of guests (for my selfish reflection and future reference).

First there’s Florian. If I could bundle up happy, creative, smart, funny, quirky, loyal and loving… he would be it! I met him over 7 years ago at my first Oktoberfest in Munich Germany, (a tradition that went on for years to follow) and continued to reconnect around the world. Prior to Barbados, there was a a surprise trip to Recklinghausen, a quick stop in Amsterdam , a week in Crete Greece and the unforgettable vacation he took to visit my home state of California!

Florian’s visit was over a year ago and I was able to make a post about it (I just didn’t want to leave his smile out of this article). If you’d like to see that one, please click here!

Next up was Amanda, a driven, hard working, beautiful friend that I met while working out. Who would of thought a few partner burpees would lead to a friendship and a visit out of the country?! She was also the first and only guest to get me out to run a casual 5k with her… on a Saturday… just for fun. Only you Amanda!

Kira and John, the first couple to come see us. I was so honored that they were willing to jet off (leaving their 3 kids with Nana) and stay awhile! I don’t think I had laughed so much in a matter of 5 days until these 2 showed up. Too much fun and memories for a life time!

Cole is a photographer, videographer, musician and owner of the quickly growing Enlightened Studios. Such an intriguing guy to have a round, especially when him and Matt would often nerd out on camera talk. Fun facts: Cole is the one that recorded our engagement! Fun fact #2: Cole and Matt now work closely together as they expand Enlightened Studios!

Sweet Erica… hairstylist, yogi, free spirited and a pocket full of sunshine. Her arrival overlapped with Coles and made for a great combo. She joined us with the cruise and a mud n’ paint party fully embracing the local celebration. My favorite part of her trip was our girls day out adventure! Accidentally driving the off road course, animal flower caves, a sunset glass of wine and a toast to the next chapter.

Josh is a long time friend of Matts and a new time friend to me! Adventure came full force when he landed, with hiking, climbing, surfing, dancing and a vegan dinner every night. Josh seemed to fit right in with his flexible personality and willingness to experience it all!

Matts mom Terri, her fiancé Jack and his daughter Lauren came out to see what all of our talk was about this beautiful island. It was also the perfect opportunity for me to get to know them even more! Island tours, boat cruises, beach days, local cuisine and a girls night (just me and Lauren) were just a few of the events welcoming this crew to our home.

Reni was Matts best man in the wedding and stayed with us for the days leading up to it. He doesn’t go unnoticed with his bright smile and not-so-subtle character. It definitely wouldn’t have been the same without him! What added to his energy? Only my dear friend Bree! An equally enthusiastic person with a lot of love and energy to give. These two at our place during the same time made for constant laughter and a family feel right off the bat! We were focused on the wedding so there weren’t too many casual photos taken around the house. Here are a few from the celebrations!

So in the short 10 months that Matt lived in Barbados with me, we got to house-sit 5 different homes and hosted a dozen visitors (not including the 25 at the wedding)! I’d like to claim a small success in sharing the beauty of my favorite island, so thankful we had the opportunity.

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Here comes the bride! 9-28-17

The term destination wedding refers to a location outside of your hometown that generally involves a gorgeous landscape in a distance place. Typically it lands at a snow capped mountain resort, inside a foreign castle or in my case, on a stunning tropical island. I called Barbados home for just long enough that it really wasn’t a “destination wedding”, however for a handful of our guests, it most certainly was!

If you’d rather just skip to the amazing Wedding video, click here!

Let’s begin with the landscape. Well, for starters it’s a beach!! We chose a quaint little surfers bar overlooking the southeast coast called Moonraker at Surfers Bay. It offered a partially covered outdoor seating area with a U shaped bar and an open section for my favorite part, the dancing! Our guests had the option of kicking their shoes off and walking in the sand, dancing on a wooden deck or socializing around an oversized bonfire. So we had love, earth, wood, fire, water, sun, stars, open air and an abundance of positive energy from all of the friends and family that gathered… a recipe for the perfect wedding.

Accommodations – Surfers Bay restaurant and bar was conveniently on the property of a colorful hotel called The Moonraker.

The wardrobe – Most of you have read a story or few that included my dear friend Bree. From our adventures in Chiang Mai, Thailand to her first visit to Barbados, she’s been a beautiful addition to my traveling adventures. What you may not of known is that when she isn’t backpacking, she’s an incredible fashion designer that has even worked in NYC for Ralph Lauren (friend bragging moment). As her gift to me, she designed and tailored my gown start to the very last pin before I walked the aisle. Matt wore a classic beige jacket that was once wore by his dad who was there with us in spirit.

The jewelry – I felt so honored to walk the aisle with an arm full of authentic bangles and an ankle decorated with jewel covered bands, all from India (another gift from Bree and her family). My wedding ring set is a combination of Matts opal birthstone and a diamond band given to me by his mother, a ring that was once given to her by his father…. again, I’m honored. The unique funky earrings? Those were $7.99 from Claire’s (a handy accessory boutique in the states).

The flowers – Instead of pre made bouquets or red roses, I went to a local florist (the day of the wedding) who so graciously allowed me to pick 12 flowers from a variety of local bundles in their back freezer. I don’t know too many businesses elsewhere that would of been so eager to help a last minute Gypsy bride.

The ceremony – my walk down the grassy aisle lead me to a dozen of my dearest girlfriends from around the world, each holding a single tropical flower. As I hugged and thanked them for their friendship, attendance and love, I collected each flower leaving me with a bouquet tied up by a strip of lace that was left over from my dress. This was all being serenaded by Matt on the guitar before he passed it along to come and greet me for the rest of my walk. The service was guided by our dear friend Derek who peacefully spoke about higher connection and divine love. We said our own vows, exchanged rings and sealed it with a kiss.

Drinking and dining – The Bajans and their heartfelt gifts. Instead of presents we asked each local guest to bring a dish to share. (If you’re wondering what the island cuisine consists of, take a moment to check out the posts Welcome to Barbados, let’s eat! and Mr.Delicious doesn’t serve pig tail . Our wedding spread ranged from traditional recipes to creative desserts and most definitely extended beyond what any catering company could of offered. Drinks? Not a dry mouth in the place, if a guests didn’t bring food we invited them to bring a beverage to place on the open bar. Wine, champagne, cases of local beer, liquor, juice, soda and what Barbados festivity would be complete without rum punch! Música! Personally speaking, I can survive any party regardless of food, drink or decorations as long as I have happy people and good music. As if our plans couldn’t of gone any smoother, in walks Dj Trev! He perfectly mixed every genre we wanted to hear, left out all of the songs we didn’t want and had a dance floor that never went empty. He was the icing on our wedding cake!…and the party kept going… and going! I’m so grateful for the experience and love we were able to capture, I’ll hold it dearly forever!

…to be continued.

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Do you all live in straw huts on the beach?

Although we may sleep under them, we don’t live in palm trees or forts made of sticks in the sand. Yes there’s clean water, paved roads and even electricity! (To be said with a slightly sarcastic undertone). We have convenient grocery stores with cheap local items and an abundance of over priced imported goods. In fact, on this beautiful island you can find rum cheaper than water and fresh tropical fruit growing wild along the road side. 

While enjoying our stay in Barbados, I wanted to give you a glimpse of where Matt and I are calling home away from… well, I guess this is home for now! It’s located fairly central with just a quick drive to the popular south and beautiful west coast beaches. Our cozy home is 2 bedroom, 2 bath with an inviting backyard hosting the guest cottage. Although the last kittens were adorable while living in the home seen in a past post,  I’d say this is one of the most comfortable pet sitting jobs we’ve done! Please, take a look around!  Below is the dining (we never eat here) and lounge (we never sit here) portion of the house that realistically is just a common area we pass through to get from our room to the kitchen.

We spend most of our moments outside, however the main two spots that consume our indoor time are the bedroom to sleep and bathe and the kitchen to prepare food and coffee.

If for a moment we want to chill out and get lost in a documentary, we’ll kick back and relax in the additional room.

Now to our prime spot of entertainment. The backyard is where we read, write, grill, eat, talk, nap, stretch and start and end every single day. This photo was obviously shot during my morning tea time.

That cute little cottage house in the back is perfect for our guests. Private full bathroom, coffee maker, mini fridge, a few seating options and an extremely comfortable bed. No need for a “do not disturb” sign as the only knocking you’ll here is from the monkeys on the roof trying to snag a mango off the tree overhead!

Looking past the cottage you’ll see a few neighbors tucked away behind the radiating green that catches the eye from tree to tree.

What else have we used this beautiful back area for? A party of course! Our last visitor had a birthday so we through together a barbeque (literally, Matt turned center blocks and a flower pot into a grill) and invited some friends! A few balloons, another grill and amazing people… success!

What does a group of spontaneous creative individuals do when united? Apparently the mannequin challenge! This was my first time ever hearing of such thing, but hey, it worked!! Check out the video made by Cole Huffer from Enlightened Studios!

No children were drinking before, during or after this video was filmed.

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Ready for the hike! Where’s my blindfold?

Matt and I decided to hit the road and camp for two nights. No, not glamping as seen in the most recent post but good ol’ tent and dirty toes camping! 

Day one brought us to Pine Log State Forest in Northwest Florida. The drive alone was enchanting!

Step one, set up camp. Step two, sage the site. Step three, go for a hike! 

This trek started like none other as Matt suggested we approach it blindfolded! He read about a method in which you trust your instincts while embracing the other sensations around you. The sounds, the ground beneath your feet, the wind against your skin, the tree branch piercing your hip… I’m in!

Once the bandannas were removed we kept walking and I did find myself more appreciative of the glorious sights around us. Not only the ability to actually see where I was going, but the visual stimulation that came from such beautiful scenery.

We were “almost there” Matt confirmed a half dozen times (when clearly we weren’t) as we reached a sign that informed us that we were just barely a little over half way. Honestly it was so refreshing out there, neither one of us minded the extra walk as we laughed it off and kept going. The final stretch was well worth the long way back!

Dinner was veggies and chicken. Those who know me well, have the right to assume that I stuck with the veggies and let Matt battle the bird. With our powers combined (for all you Captain Planet fans) we had a delicious dinner! 

The sun peaking up was warm enough to draw you out of the tent while the chill factor had you reaching for a beanie. Camping weather at its finest!

So turns out we forgot all utensils, but remembered the French press. Go figure. Best backyard barista ever!

Breakfast? Matt thoroughly enjoyed his blueberry muffins as I awkwardly stared deeply into my yogurt. 

Me: “I think there’s raw chicken water in my yogurt.” 

Matt: “What? You still going to eat it!?”

Me: “Yep.”

I had opened it the night before and carelessly put it back in the cooler as if the ice wasn’t going to melt and allow most items to be completely submerged. Don’t worry mom, I scraped off the top layer first (to be said with love in a sarcastic backpacker tone). After consuming the twice blessed breakfast with fingers crossed, we packed up and hit the road to the next adventure! Miles up the highway brought us to Ecofina Creek and the popular Springs.

Just get in!  Sounds easy right? This is until your big toe scrapes the surface of this ice box! For most, this would be a lengthily process of creeping your way inch by brutal freezing inch. For me, it was all or nothing. Head first with no room for hesitation. And for Matt, I’m convinced he’s part marine life.

Deeper into the springs provided more quality shots and the occasional curious substance between your toes. Feel a little nibble? It’s just the fish providing a complimentary pedicure.

Last stop before finding our new sleeping location is called Devils hole. A hidden gem in the shape of a circle with depths only divers can tell you about. Last time Matt was here, he said it was dark and with fairly foggy waters. Today, it’s clear blue! 

The second site was set up quickly as we decided to ditch the tent and go rugged in the open sky. Hammock… check. Sage… Check. Hanging light… check. Good night!

How could I leave this place without a handstand photo?! We returned in the morning to the ice box Springs for a well worth shot, great capture Matt!

Several of the marvelous photos above were from Matt and his quality (aka- fancy or big boy) camera. For more of his work please visit the Stone Sharp Images webite. Care to see his version of our trip? Click here for his blog post!

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Excuse me glamper, did you say S’moreberry?

Some girls go to Vegas, others hit up Mexico (I’m guilty of both) and a few hit the sticks! Mom and I joined our dear friend Gloria for a ladies only camping weekend! Or maybe we should classify it under Glamping, defined as – a style of camping with amenities and in some cases, resort-style services not usually associated with “traditional” camping. Of glamour.

Meet the girls!

Now welcome to our weekend view! This beauty is located at St.Andrews park in Panama City Beach, Florida.

Sun-up is our alarm for a walk into the hmm, can’t really call it the wilderness and it’s not a town so we’ll just go with, a walk in the outdoors! 

Things you may see on a stroll through the paved wilderness. Birds, berries, butterflies, Bambie, bikers and the random tree huger.

As you trek the great pavement, you get to see how others have set up their site as well as where these campers have ventured from. I originally took photos of all the different license plates to show you, but then I realized that may or may not be crossing personal information boundaries. So, for what it’s worth there were over a dozen different states in just a short 1/4 mile stretch.

A bit up the way we explored an old Mill. I felt like kids on a field trip!

Other things we saw along the way.

This woman was collecting trash throughout the property. Thank you ma’am! 

What’s this? An adorable set up that appears to provide a stage and seating for special events. To me… a handstand podium!

Arriving back to the site brought on dinner followed by a friendly round of games complemented with a proper girls toast. These are those moments that, through laughter and genuine conversation you try to appreciate every beautiful second. 

Confession: the main reason I go camping is for the fire at night

How many girls does it take to open a folding chair? We don’t know.


On this evening, we brought out the ingredients for traditional s’mores (a delicate sandwich-like treat composing of chocolate and toasted marshmallow being held together by graham crackers). As we’re roasting, or in my case igniting, the marshmellows, mom gasps with excitement. “I’ve got it! What would this taste like with a warm strawberry inside?” Of course the next step was to try this campfire creation. Thus, the new dessert she appropriately named S’moreberry.

A special thanks to Gloria for sharing her space, energy and time. Our conversations are still present in my mind and I’m so grateful for the love and support. Cheers to the gypsies at heart!

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…5 years later

What makes her happy trails so happy? Let me just share a few reasons that have recently been amplified in this beautiful journey I call life. 
First off, we have this glorious planet offering a variety of stunning landscapes and wondrous elements. Then there’s the creatures that keep us intrigued from under the sea to the tops of the highest peaks. Let’s not forgot the loving, creative, crazy humans that enhance the entire magnificent experience.

My last post wrapped up a season in Barbados which sends me off on another trip back to the states to see family and friends. Before I get to that, let’s acknowledge another happy part of these trails. Connection! Simply one of my favorite things about traveling. You meet a stranger on a bus, in a hostel, the line at a market, no matter where the universe allows it, your paths are supposed to cross. Maybe just for that moment, or continuing through a week of friendship along the trail, or even for a lifetime. It’s magical when you recognize a purpose behind every smile you connect with. 

Exactly 5 years ago, I was on one my first solo international trips. I say “solo”, but although I planned this alone, it was on a semi-guided tour with a company called Contiki.. The route took me and 2 dozen other travelers from Italy to France, down through Monaco and ended in Spain where I parted from the group. 

Along the way I met a dozen or so wonderful people that I’m still in touch with today. Here’s a few meeting to reunion photos!

The most recent reconnection was during my travels from Barbados to Oklahoma with an unexpected magical pit stop in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. I had a 14 hour layover which meant I had a typical over night stay which entails a cold airport floor with the sounds of the custodians popping chewing gum over the humming of their vacuum. I invite you to check out the posts called Work out and rest up in Asian airports and Floor seats in the Lima airport, unforgettable nights for sure! I’m usually bundled up with every heavy piece of clothing item in my backpack in order to endure the below comfortable temperatures while using my backpack as a makeshift cot. The morning consists of me walking the terminals to get the blood flowing again while waiting for the cafes to open so I can get a cup of hot water for the one single tea bag I keep in my wallet. I take a wet wipe shower in the bathroom and although I brush my teeth with real paste and actual water (verses spit and shine in the back of a camper), it still feels like I have backpackers breath as I board my flight with one eye open and the fleeting thought, “I forgot deodorant”. 

Think 14 hours seems a bit much? Check out 51 hours to get 1/2 way around the world!

Well not this time folks! World meet Karyne (pronounced cuh-reen) She’s another one of the amazing friends I first met in Rome back in 2011. After parting ways in the streets of Spain, Karyne and I remained in contact through good ol Facebook. Now, she’s offered not only her home but a lift to and from the airport and an unexpected dinner out. I sat here for too long trying to think of a creative name for the award she should recieve for her hospitality. I felt so welcome and we spoke like it was just yesterday that we were sipping sangria on the famous Las Ramblas in Barcelona.

Here is our then and now pic (sorry for the blurry photo, it was a good night in France).

Her house was right up my alley with instruments, personal artwork and a beverage cart for all to share. 

What was completely foreign to me however, was her spare room aka her closet!

The morning after our catch up session we hustled back to the airport to say our farewells as I departed for my final stop. Such a better ride than the usual airport shuttle!
Bonus highlight! I met this adorable couple on the flight over. Amanda and Tyler share a passion towards biology, art and travel. I’m not sure if I’ll ever see them again, but I can only expect exceptional things in their future. Thanks for the stimulating conversation and supportive energy towards spreading the joy of travel! 

In the next post you’ll see what Oklahoma has to offer me but I’ll close this write up with a collage that shows 3 roads I traveled in 3 consecutive days. Gotta love the beauty in variety! Barbados-Florida-Oklahoma

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The greatest show on earth

Monday and Tuesday make up the grand finale of the previous weeks celebrating Carnival in Trinidad, “The greatest show on earth”. Costumes were distributed to the participants and they’ve been gearing up for the next 48 hours of prancing, dancing, drinking and eating (only if you dare while squeezed into those barely there bikinis). 

A house or hotel room this time of year typically has a few areas designated towards Carnival.  Costumes, clothes, drinks, coolers, and enough random wrist bands from all the parties to create a chain-link fence. Here we have bedazzled tanks and itty-bitty bikini bottoms being stretched over chairs, believe me from experience… It’s necessary. A makeup table that looks like a production off a movie set accompanied by enough hair product to open a salon. An abundance of jewels, beads, chains, art supplies and one hot glue gun for the universal fix-it tool.


Complimentary survival tray provided by the hostess. Jax, you’re amazing!  

Ooh and what did we find here? Sneak-a-nap between parties (with the Barbados flag in hand.. way to represent Clint!)

 

My contribution to this controlled chaos? Hair skills. I found myself behind the scenes for this magical time of year with the honor of making each hair client feel even more spectacular that they already are. Here’s a look at what my hands were doing while all of this was going on.    

 

Where did I find the space for these lovely ladies? Thanks to Vanessa at Bikini Cabana I was able to set up a make-shift salon connected to her store. Here’s a few examples of what they offer (especailly for the “Monday wear” described below). How I walked away without giving in and purchasing something is still beyond me.

Carnival Monday is less intense in regards to the length of time they parade the streets and the extent of the costumes.  The women create their own “Monday wear” by adjusting dresses, customizing swimsuits or simply rockin it raw and casual. Carnival Tuesday is the “full shibang” with head pieces, feathers, beads, diamonds and sparkles. The following is a mesh of both days, random sights, a variety of looks and too much fun. 

     

           
  For some of the most brilliant photos of these costumes, please visit the page of an upcoming photographer who captured the vibrance exuding from the day.  World, meet Keshav D. Ramnath!

Towards the end of the day, I took advantage of a different perspective. Where was I? My new friend Ashleigh is close with the owner of Studio, a hidden gem that happened to have a portion of the bands crossing right in front! Funky decor, happy people, Prosecco and a balcony view… Perfect! 

   They even offered complimentary tasty treats (enter a puckered up sarcastic face here).  These are salt prunes soaked in Tequila. I was keen for the Tequila, not so much the salty prune.  I’ve had worse, but I didn’t go back for seconds. 

As the better part of the day continued, the party didn’t quit. The music still echoed through the streets of Port of Spain as the participants went strong in full costume.  How did they manage to keep that gorgeous fresh look?  I’d personally like to take partial credit. My position on these days placed me at the lunch break in the Bliss tent. I was there for any girls request to touch up their lovely locks. In the following post you’ll get a glimpse of what you don’t see from the road. Courtesy of Bikini Cabana, I was able to be front and center in my favorite spot… Behind the chair! 

  

Above photo by Peter Sheppard
 

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Yes please, but why not both?

Ok, I know I’ve been slacking on the posts lately but let me explain why and catch you up. I’ve temporarily moved into an extended living situation on my favorite island of Barbados. My sweetheart of a friend chose to broaden her experiences away from the island and give Help-exchange a try! If you’re not familiar with Helpx, it’s a key part of how I’ve been able to travel for so long on a “backpackers” budget. I explain it in more detail in the post How do you afford all that traveling. Anyway, Maria asked for my assistance in planning her journey and thus she’s now volunteering on a farm in Hawaii! Me? I’m house sitting for her and taking care of her two paw babies. Quick tour of my (her) house starts with the outside.  I live in the upstairs with that sweet balcony!

 The top photo is looking left back towards the driveway and main the road. The bottom pic is looking in the direction of the south coast.

 A quick peek around shows you a few of her amazing decoration choices, items that I’d have in my place too! 

   

 Then there’s my temporary kitty kids totaling in with 8 legs, many whiskers and 2 sassy attitudes.  Meet Regina and Anastasia. Please feel free to pet them (if they’re in the mood) and don’t dare ignore them (if they want attention) and definitely don’t expect to type at the table or do a floor workout without them doing everything in their power to distract you. 

 
Time to welcome my first guest. Remember Carina?  The precious German girl I met back at Oktoberfest in 2011 and have traveled with ever since. Our adventures range from Germany to North America with a little pit stop in Amsterdam and many memories made in Costa Rica. Now we add Barbados! 

 

The past two weeks looked like this…

Food! Of course I got her to taste all of the local delights from fish cakes and rotis to doubles and Mac pie. She didn’t shy away from the rum punch nor did she decline the opportunity to try pudding and souce (thank you Ryan!) She saw the fresh farmers market and tried a bite from the drive thru at the popular Cheffette (thank you Alex!). What holiday would be complete without a liquid beverage of choice, I offerred a fruit smoothly or Bloody Mary.  Typical Carina response, “Yes please, but why not both”? 

    
   
A fish cutter from Cuz and pit stop at good ol’ Mr. Delicious before saying hi to Coconut Chris. 

    
 
I snuck her in to what I’d like to claim as my own personal hidden gem (that in actuality is a popular shop for the locals) to enjoy a piece of heaven form the ever changing menu. Another trip to Cafe Moya is a success!

 

We treated ourselves to a day at Accra Beach hotel and brought along some German games. Wouldn’t you?! 

 
Did she make it to the beach? I can honestly say I lost track of how many times this girl found herself with red shoulders, sandy toes and a huge smile. 

    
 

There’s no way I’d let her leave without experiencing Cool Runnings (thank you Annika and Robert!) and of course my favorite Tuesday night plans of gymnastic (thank you Shane!) Live music at Mullins Beach bar (thank you Dwayne!) and the Surfers Cafe (thanks Bodie!). We also watched a BVB futbol game (thanks Marvin!) and had some girls night out (thank you Annika, Irene, Monica and many more)!

   
How did we get around the island (if our amazing friends weren’t able for a lift)? Only another experience that one must encounter while visiting.  The local transportation! She expressed that it was like being on a carnival ride with the lights, music, people and incredible (ha ha) driving skills.

 

You’ve seen this familiar palm tree in many previous post.  This time the landscape makes an appearance with a duo handstand! 

 
Lastly, she was one of the bright smiles in the last post, Ms. Barbados, Queen of the sea in which we experienced the annual race around the island!  (Thank you Stewart, Jason and ALex!)

 
Palm trees, sunsets and sandy smiles pretty much sums up our unforgettable time on this magical island.

    

 
Last stop is the airport in which we were both departing on the same day.  Her heading back to the one degree temperatures of of Bochum Germany and me… Well, you’ll see! 
 
Carina, you hold an undeniable light that is constantly illuminating the world around you. Your sincerity, passion for life, and genuine nature has been (and still is) a magnetic quality that I miss when you’re gone. Thank you so much for the years of tummy twisting laughter, hours of silly games, moments of connection and the depth of friendship that I truly hope others get to experience. You are one of a kind and I’m so grateful to call you my friend (or sister if you ask anyone else)! Cheers to us till next time… And who knows where or what we’ll be toasting!? XO

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Hurry up and wait!

The 4 of us left Bochum early to make our way to Munchen knowing the others would soon trail behind by driving themselves the following day.

11 hours on a crowded overnight bus (with team chatterbox behind us) made the 12th hour of transit seem refreshing and oddly easy. Once we made it to the main station in Munich, we took a small train called the SBahn to the nearest stop of our new home.  From there, we made the final stretch into a suburban neighborhood. I’m sure due to lack of sleep, the long walk was mostly silent. However, total exhaustion fuled random bursts of spontaneous giggles. You know the feeling!

  
So imagine this, 3 Americans, 3 Germans and me looking for a place to share. Considering the popularity of Oktoberfest, most accomodations are booked solid months ahead of time and if they’re not, the price is beyond unreasonable.  With 7 of us wanting to stay together, our other option was sharing a dorm room in a hostel which comes with a dozen strangers and a complementary shared public bathroom. 

Been there, did that… so we found something else!

Our perfect location was a treasure rental that is owned and operated by an extremely accommodating host.  With his gentle energy Jorj was there to meet, greet and help with whatever he could during our stay. I didn’t get a photo of him, so please check out his page by clicking here.

Just outside of the city, we (voluntarily) packed into a quaint 2 bedroom, one bath apartment. Down stairs provided an open kitchen, the bathroom with washer and a dining table big enough for all of us to gather around. 

   
 A couple of cute decorations added a bit of character to our little home away from home. 

 The bed I chose was down stairs tucked in a cubby that actaully provided some of the best sleep I’ve gotten on this entire trip! (Thank you amazing-o-friends for letting me have “first dibs”)

The rest of the crew had their pick from 6 spots upstairs. By stairs, I mean a completely vertical walking ramp with hand rails and a warning from the owner.  These things are dangerous with too many proasts at the festival!   

   
We’ve all made it!  

 
It’s early to bed since the morning brings a 4:30 alarm clock. If you recall in recent years, the chances of getting in a tent if you’re not there by sunrise becomes slim and hardly likely. For entertainment purposes, please read Inside the tents!  to see what the traditional morning race entails! Here’s a clip from the crowd of eager attendees in years past.
  
The 4 of us who have been before spent days preparing the others for the exciting bright rise and struggle to the gates. With success, we were all able to get up, dressed and ready (rememebr 5 girls, 2 boys and one bathroom) in time to beat the sun in the German sky. Awful photos, but you get the idea.

 On time and in transit!

  
Finally arriving to the festival grounds, we continued to amp up our group in regards to the battle that’s ahead.  The crowds… the elbows.. the sea of dirndls and lederhosen… are you ready!?  

 
WHAT?! Are you ready for an empty lot with a couple cleaning crew members and a few other confused people?  I don’t even think I knew what this wooden floor looked like from years past! We finally came to the conclusion that it was our first attempt during the week verses a Saturday morning. Turns out it’s easier when a portion of the city has to go to work.   

 
Well, we did what we do best… which is to make the best of it!  A few fun pictures, some hair play and 3 hours of meeting new friends as we watched the crowd slowly expand.       

What’s behind that door?  Our entire day of festivites patiently awaiting our arrival!

  

Doors open! To be continued…
   

Would you rather be 3 hours early or 30 minute late?

  

Categories: Accommodations, Fashion from a backpack, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cambodia… 2 years later, kilts and castles!

Our next quick stop is to the land known for kilts, haggis and castles. Before we dive into bagpipes and scotch eggs, let me share another reason I wanted to explore Scotland.

Back in Cambodia, I was volunteering at the Flicks movie theatre working the popcorn machine with the other travelers passing through. Just before departing, the girl that would be taking my bed arrived early and I’m so glad she did! Mel had just come from Vietnam which is exactly where I was heading so we exchanged pointers, shared a few meals and even made time for a haircut. For that adventure check out the post Ticket for one please and a Cambodian beer

Two years later I’m landing in her current dwelling place of Edinburgh! Here we are back in Cambodia and now in Scotland! 

She not only welcomed us into her home, but handed over the key and let us crowd her room with our backpacks.  Thanks hun! 

 As Mel went off to work, Hayden and I decided to roam the streets of this enchanting place. Here’s what my eyes spotted out while wandering the capital city of Edinburgh. 

Side note, there are 3 handstands in this post!

     
     
     This little cafe had a different persons name on the board each morning. No, we didn’t walk by every day with high hopes one of our names would be printed out front. Maybe. 

 When I thought this ice-cream truck couldn’t get any more adorable, an elderly couple rolled up and I got to watch the man treat the woman to a cone and a kiss. 
  I loved this slope of greenery that seemed to be the perfect invite for students to study, couples to picnic and kids to play. On this day, it invited me for a handstand!  

  

  

It was a challenge to put the camera down since every building resembles a castle or some sort of ancient gothic statue. Even harder was narrowing down the hundreds of photos to the ones on this post! 
     
  

     
   
    

  
The heart of Midlothian sits beautifully in the strets of the Royal mile. Executions used to take place here in an old prison and the heart marks where the doorway used to be. Back in the 15th century, locals spit on it as a sign of disgust for the former prison. Now, it’s been told that spitting on it brings good luck… go figure.
 
This little man was by far my favorite of the day. A magician in training with the quick wit of an experienced comedian.  He was dropping jokes while flipping cards and managed to keep us (me) entertained!
   

  
I’ve gotten the privilege to see several places of this magnitude but there’s something special that I felt here. Considering the size and tourist appeal, it still maintains a traditional energy that makes it feel quaint and delicate. Next up will be a mini treat of food, drinks and a night shot of this stunning city!

Quirky questions for the day-

Gentlemen: For one year, would you rather have to wear a kilt everyday or have your mom pick your clothes?

Ladies: An old fashioned princess gown or dressed by your previous (ex) companion?

Categories: Accommodations, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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