Posts Tagged With: club

7 years ago today…

What were you doing on this exact date 7 years ago? I was zipping up my backpack to load up before my mom dropped me off at the Sacramento airport for the first day of an unpredictable journey around the world. I can recall having no fear or at least no hesitation in the adventure I was about to embark on. Just excitement and a new found enthusiasm for life!

As each year unfolded and my passport filled to the rim (with about 80 stamps!) I encountered new friends, adopted cultural traditions and continued to allow my mind to expand. Sometimes it’s surreal when I look back on the photos as it usually feels like I’m talking about someone else from a book I read or movie I saw. If you want to see a clear layout with links of my first exciting year on the road, take a look at the 2012 archives!

I was going to make this post about some of my favorites from around the world, cuisine, music, architecture, etc. but as I began to write I felt more drawn to explore what kind of lessons I gathered from a variety of places. Could be that I’m 9 months pregnant and my sensitive hormones are on high, or simply because I’ve never really stopped to ask myself such a question.

So Erika, where did you learn some significant lessons and how did you walk away from it a better person?

PERU – Although I visited several different cities throughout the country, a little village has always stood out to me. I rarely go back to a place I’ve been, but the magnetic pull was too strong for me to ignore in Huambutio. I was invited to volunteer there in a variety of things from teaching English to painting walls, cooking and even to coach gymnastics.

The lesson here was simple, appreciation for the simple things.

Sounds obvious or cliche, but there were a few events that triggered this conscious thought. First was the toothpaste. We taught the kids how to make their own toothpaste (that they got to take home) and the importance of dental health. The enthusiasm and gratitude they showed was outstanding! Something we may all take for granted or even see as a thoughtless item we look for on sale at Target, but these children guarded their portion like it was gold. Makes me wonder if they had ever used any… ever. Next was meal time. The children’s breakfast everyday was 1/2 of a hard boiled egg with a scoop of plain oatmeal (not your Starbucks brown sugar, toasted nut and cranberry shenanigans, but warm oats and water). We would divide an apple into 1/8 slices in order for everyone to get a bite as a snack and occasionally got to accompany it with a few pieces of toasted corn. Lunch and dinner was whatever we picked that day from the garden. A clear memory I have was the evening they said we were goin to make corn bread. Now, I was aware enough to not aimlessly look for a box of ready make Betty Crocker, but I was on the scout for cornmeal and the rest of the ingredients. I can’t remember how long they let me look before informing me that we actually have to go pick the corn to start the process. After I was done blushing, off to the garden we went! An experience that made every bite of that bread savored as if we had spent hours preparing it… because we did!

I suppose all of this hit me harder than I was expecting when I flew out of Peru into the states to visit family. My first stop was Dallas, Texas… home of everything huge! I had my apple bits, a few nuts and some cash to get me buy as I plopped down in the food court during my layover at the airport. A family sat next to me who didn’t go out of their way to be discreet. The children were clearly mad at the toy they got in the happy meal, a meal that they didn’t want to finish for whatever reason. After fits and French fries on the floor, the meals went into the garbage. I’m not claiming that we need to starve to appreciate fullness, or go without toothpaste to love a good sale at Target. I will admit however, that I may have judged this situation in the moment, but looking back now it was an opportunity that invited me to reflect on my own behavior. Had I carelessly disposed of food that could of been leftovers or compost? How many times did I complain, especially as a child, about the items in front of me with no gratitude that I even had options!?

Moving from food to activity, we ventured to the outdoor area and I was pleasantly surprised at the creative use of items that would typically land in the trash. Used plastic containers, snack wrappers, laundry bottles, juice boxes, warm out shoes and more. I loved it!

This experience as a whole opened a new part of my character to this day (even ask those close to me), it’s left me very aware of waste, unnecessary abundance and a love for keeping things simple. I am that weirdo that has 1/4 of an apple in my fridge with full intentions of eating it. I order a to-go box with my meal whenever we enjoy the luxury of eating out. I choose not to go to Costco and buy a village sized pack of paper plates on sale because I “might” need them someday. By no means am I claiming some sort of award winning lifestyle, just sharing the lesson that 7 years later still sticks in my everyday existence. And now with a little girl due any day, I hope to carry this in our family and raise a grateful human that appreciates her surroundings and has gratitude for our simple luxuries.

Categories: Accommodations, Edibles!, Travel talk, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Friends, meet your new friends!

We had a speedy layover through Denmark, the land of the Danish. Of all the things in the airport, this character caught my eye and I felt the need to share. You’re welcome.

Ok, that’s all from Copenhagen so now a whirlwind weekend in Amsterdam!  

Since I’ve blogged about this unique city so many times, I’m going to refer those of you who want more details to the past posts.  Click on any of the following links to see some of my favorite photos and moments in The Netherlands.

Foot, wheels, trams and boats… lets take a look at Amsterdam!

Eat, drink, dance and feel the love in Amsterdam!

How to get lost with incredible people in Amsterdam! 

 Now a quick lesson on all of the lovely ladies below. I met Denise and Sofieke in Spain, reunited with Denise in Argentina where we met Ioni then all of us came together in Amsterdam. The other two gorgeous girls are sisters from California that I coached gymnastics to almost 17 years ago! Now, they all meet! Hayden was there too, but it was mainly a girls event (sorry pal).

Our evening started with a group dinner at a local tapas bar.


Check out these little human transporting devices. They were like a one wheeled, non-handled segway.  The group would just hop on and zoom off! 
  Pit stop for some tunes and a bit of laughter, dancing, laughter, talking and then more laughter again.  This angelic woman has been working for years at the coat check section in the upstairs washroom of one of our favorite clubs. I had to remind her who I was the second year, but this time… she made my night.  She got a gentleman to translate, “You’ve come back! I remember you, can’t forget that smile”. She even asked where my camera was. Night out in Amsterdam, success!


The following evening out was a new one for me.  Never did I think I’d be dressing up for an “American western cowboy party” in a small town in The Netherlands. Here’s a few shots from a surprise birthday party of a 60 year old John Wayne fan!  First up, costume! Here’s what I had to work with from my backpack. 


The decorations were outstanding. From rifles to bails of hay, cow print baloons and even a wooden stock (the form of punishment in which ones head and hands would be restricted from movement). A live band, a stocked bar and wonderful food made this gathering a memorable one!  


I felt like a new kid in school when the entire crowd stood up to partake in a traditional birthday dance.I couldn’t tell you what they were saying or how the dance went, but it was highly entertaining! 

Finishing up Amsterdam was a walk to the bus stop with the original three. Here’s a comparison from the first time we met 5 years ago to now. Love you ladies!

  Another path crossing is about to happen in the grand country of Germany! Can you tell this is my favorite part of traveling?! I met Carina, Florian and Jenni at Oktoberfest 5 years ago, then traveled to Costa Rica with Carina, introduced Hayden and Florian in Greece and now Emily and Allie get to met all of them! Did I mention that the Dutch from above and the Germans next up also met when there was 4 Germans, 2 Dutch and me?  Sweet paths of life, I love it!

How did we get from The Netherlands to Bochum? A train ride that was clearly no fun.  

First thing we do in Germany? Go to a fútbol game of course! Next up… just our small group with 80,000 other fans! 


Random bike facts of Amsterdam:

There are over 880,000 bikes in the city but less than 800,000 people and 25,000 of those bikes end up in one of the 165 canals every year! 

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Eat, drink, dance and feel the love in Amsterdam!

Denise should look extremely familiar to those who have been peaking at this blog for the past 21 months as she has made many appearances. I met this magnificent lady years ago while we were studying in Alicante Spain. We reunited in Argentina for some volunteer work and more studies and have spent many of evenings dancing the night away in Amsterdam. Last year, I even lived with her family in Alphen aan den Rijn. Here is just a few pics from the years of memories that I’ve made with sweet Denise.


Now, I return again to replenish my craving for her presence and this time, I get to introduce Mike and Hayden too! (If you’ve followed for long enough, you’d know that last year she got to meet three other of my American friends, Ian, Mike D and Marshall!).

The day starts with the introductory as we sit outside at one of the many terraces offered in Amsterdam.



Time for a snack which leads us to a variety of options. Here in Holland, there are many typical Dutch bites to pick from. In Amsterdam however, you have a wide selection from many parts of the world. Specialty stands to Turkish, Mexican, Italian, Japanese and more. I suggest just wandering the streets until your eyes, nose or tummy decides for you. Today, I went for a home baked spelt bread cone that was filled with Salmon, sprouts and a dill spiced sauce.


The group of us decided on trying out an extremely typical plate here in Holland which consists of herring fish, onion and pickle.


Flashback moment! This construction site has been here every year that I’ve visited. Just for fun, we shot the first picture years ago and of course it has turned into an annual photo. Enjoy, year one, two and present!




After a fun walk around the city, we depart from the boys to go back to her home town of Alphen aan den Rijn for dinner with my (her) family before getting ready for a night out on the town. We made a pit stop by the work place of Denise’s little sister, Manouk. Her and I connected last year when I was adopted into her family. Unfortunately this year, she is working so she won’t be able to join us out and about. Here is her “sad I can’t come with you” photo, followed by the “glad I got to see you” smile.



A little time in the kitchen, a wonderful dinner at the table and a complete evening with one of my favorite Dutch families! Writing this page made me realize I didn’t get a photo of them… Next time.




To get back to the city, we hop on a bus that takes us to the train that brings us to the centeral station. From there, we get her bike again and ride to find the boys.



Along the way, Denise hinted to me that there would be a few more joining us this evening which is always great to hear… the more the merrier! News to me, it was a surprise from my dear friend Carina! All the way from Germany, she had traveled here with another sweetheart Jenni for a night out with us!


Details about Carina and Jenni will come later. For now, here’s a peak at what a girls night out in Amsterdam can look like.









Two fun surprises in the coat check! First we have Denise’s hairstylist that we danced with last year, always full of energy!


Next, this wonderful woman has been taking care of the jackets and wash room here at this specific club now for 20 years! The first photo is from last year followed by this evening!



Not feeling like a big dance party? Other evenings leave you with choices like a nice dinner on a terrace, a walk to a coffee house (not to be confused with a coffee “shop”) or one of my favorites, a picnic next to a canal. Depending on the neighborhood, time of day and weather, you can find several groups, big and small, gathering waterside. Tonight, 4 of us went to a local store, collected goodies then found a seat next to a canal for snacks and great conversation.






Who’s the fourth in the pictures? Lets pause for a moment and reminisce of the times with Simon. He was one of the fellow travelers I met in Argentina that I reunited for the hike in Machu Picchu with. Take a look!


Night walks can also bring unexpected surprises. On this evening, I followed the sounds of a beautiful acoustical set. These three kind girls have been playing to fund their future worldly travels. Of course I’ll donate to driven people doing something they love to support a journey they desire, well done girls! Your voices caught my attention and your attitude kept me intrigued. Keep on smiling and doing what you do!


On Mikes last night here with us, we decided to stay low key and chat at a local pub when this woman approached our table and in the sweetest voice offered us a “reading” based on our names and birthdays. Very interesting and certainly entertaining as she called us out on some personality quirks, especially because the boys and I have known each other for so long!




Leaving Amsterdam before us, after two weeks in Europe, Mike departs back to the states. I watch him walk away feeling gratitude for his company and happy for his experience. Mike, I truly value our deep conversations and friendly debates that not only stimulate new thoughts, but keep me on my toes. Cheers till next time my friend!



My favorite picture of the boys this trip!


A few more days in Holland and then you’ll find me bouncing my way through Germany. Get ready for curry wurst, live music and roller coasters!

Categories: Edibles!, Travel talk, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

City to night life in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

The captain comes on and announces our arrival, first in Malay then in English. This is when my heart picks up pace and I feel those familiar butterflies come alive in my stomach. I can’t believe I’m landing in Malaysia right now! Why here? Ill skip the first dozen reasons that include but are not limited to the culture, jungles, beaches, food, and so on…. and remind you of my new friend Kuldip. I met this fellow backpacker while we were volunteering together in New Zealand. We shared a log cabin along with daily chores that ranged from cleaning and gardening to canning jars of marmalade. Here are some recap photos from February in Akaroa, New Zealand.

Our shared cabin, working away and goofing off!





You can imagine the length of conversation we had during our days of work and hours of tea time. Often we’d share cultural fun facts about our home towns following up with an open invite if either of us ever want to visit. Most of you know me well enough by now that with an offer like that… I’m there! Well actually, I’m here!

The first 48 hours consisted of errand running due to the fact that she’s leaving in two weeks to live in Australia for a year. No worries to me though, I’ve enjoyed riding along to see what the city life in Malaysia looks like.

The following are pictures from the passenger seat (in motion and with the windows up, so I apologize for the lack of extreme clarity).










Yes Malaysia, you kept the streak going… Irish Pub!



A peak of green in the city as we pass by a local park.




For the first few meals, we checked out some street food. I’m so thankful to be here with a local who can look first and say, “No, too expensive” or “Not fresh enough” or “This is the best vendor in the city!”.







I happen to have come at the right time as this night was a double celebration out on the town. Her friends birthday and another couple was sharing their 5th wedding anniversary with everyone!

The club we went to actually offered free makeup and complimentary professional photos. Pretty neat way to start off the festivities!





Quick shout out to the DJ duo that kept the crowd alive! It was absolutely refreshing to dance to their mix. Well done! Thank you Werner’s on Changkat!


Random snap pictures from the balcony and a quick set of new friends!









Here are some of our posed professional photos followed by all the action shots!











I should admit that when I dreamt of Malaysia, sky scrapers and smog didn’t jump into my vision. Now realizing that she lives in the capital city, I’m understanding the traffic jams and the amount of McDonalds I see. Although I enjoyed the experience here in Kuala Lumpur, I’m definitely ready to get out of the city lights and see what else this beauitful place has to offer.

Tomorrow we leave for Ipoh to visit her family… That means green trees, waterfalls, home cooked meals, traditional street markets and more trees!

Categories: Edibles!, Fashion from a backpack, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments


Due to our small delay on the border, we arrive a bit late but that is nothing to stop sweet Niki greeting us with a huge smile and warm hug.

Here’s the dollhouse view from Niki’s adorable place. I personally love the men at work making there sandwiches on the job site.


Our day in the city of Budapest was complimented with amazing weather, perfect for a bike ride!
Tempting… But we went solo this ride.



Here are a few photos on the way to the local market.





Market time! We locked up the bikes and went for a walk.





This is not my favorite part of the market, but I’ll add a few pics to give you an idea. Imagine the smell of this isle… I’ll stick to the fresh fruit!



Next is a quick walk to stop for lunch.







No need to debate if we were up for the challenge to visit the Citadel, a 19th century fortress that sits on top of Gellert Hill. This trek is generally done by foot at a nice pace or in a bus creeping up the windy slopes. A bus? No way! We’ere hauling our bikes to the top of this thing if it takes all day! We don’t even let a slipped chain slow us down…Marshall to the rescue!


Marshall caught me cracking up at the fact that my camera wasn’t even on for the first few pictures (not seen here) that he took on the bridge.





This is where there are supposed to be a bunch of photos of us riding through beautiful greenery, and dirt paths, pushing up stairs and carrying our bikes up rock filled hills. Well, I was too busy doing all of those things so let’s just jump to the pictures at the top!







Of course this was the prime choice for the handstand shot!
“Buda” on the left and “Pest” on the right.


As if the artillery side wasn’t interesting enough, this young girl hidden away stopped me in my tracks. Not necessarily her amazing art piece, but just the entire energy that surrounded her and the painting in front of her.




What’s this? Don’t mind if I do! I must give huge credit to my amazing photographer Marshall, I had no idea he captured so many cool shots. Thanks pal!








After dominating the climb and enjoying the view we headed down to cross the famous chain bridge. Some photos along the way…






Brake… Hey look, it’s a Vegas sign! (For those of you just joining us, that’s where Marshall and I met).


Made it to the base of the bridge to find more stairs. We love stairs!


I forgot that I had left my camera on a this stormy effect. Glad I did, nice pics Marshall!




I would have been totally satisfied just seeing this beautiful city during the day, but energetic Niki was determined to get us out during sun down. The first evening we got to meet one of her good friends Balasz, one of the nicest, most knowledgeable tour guides I’ve come across so far.


Then we got to reunite with our buddy Jay! He was from the “Salzburg” post as one of the Irish Pub guests that helped us keep it going!



Here are the only night shots I snagged from two fantastic evening out. Entertainment full of unique clubs, Irish Pubs and outdoor lounges.







Check out the ladies room I found at one of the clubs… I feel sorry for the girls who had high heels.


Hungry on the walk home? Forget the slice-o-pizza, it’s a hummus bar!


Fun is up in Budapest as it’s time to make our way to Czech Republic. With the signs ahead, we have our stickers ready just in case Mr. Patrol man is doing his job (please see previous post).



Next stop, Prague!

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