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Dirndl: a traditional dress typically worn in southern Germany primarily in Bavaria during Oktoberfest.

Lederhosen: a mans traditional outfit worn in southern Germany primarily in Bavaria during Oktoberfest.

Beer: the number one liquid (even over water) consumed during the 16 day festival.

Time to experience Bavaria Germany at the worldwide known event! Feel free to read Hurry up and wait! to see how we made it to this moment.

Once the doors open there are 2 rules, no running and no standing on the table tops.  Other than that, first come-first serve.  Ready, set, GO!  
Once  you’ve claimed your table, you sit patiently like children in the classroom waiting for cupcakes and chocolate milk. The menu is on the table for the ordering all day and the beers start flowing from out of nowhere!


 Quick story of the day: Carina and Jenni ordered Weisswurst (a white Bavarian sausage) that requires the removal of a thin skin before you can eat the meat.  I’m used to this process after witnessing in times past, however my sweet girls clearly had never seen such a thing. Please… please enjoy this sequence of photos I captured during the removal of the skin! 


Well that was fun.
All righty, lets take a look around and share the glorious energy of thousands of people gathering to celebrate! In no specific order, here’s a series of photos for your own personal tour through the eyes of my camera. 




Did I mention that we were still having a blast? My cheeks began to hurt from the laughing, singing and smiling. The energy all around just keeps you going!

   Year after year, we’ve kept our classic photo a tradition!


End of the day? Yep.

Hopefully that gave you a decent idea of the fun to be had inside the tents at Oktoberfest. Tomorrow will bring a solid vision of what’s happening on the outside during these festivities! 

Random Oktoberfest facts:

Oktoberfest started as a celebration of the wedding between Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig and his wife, Princess Therese. 

There is approximately 1.8 million gallons of beer served every year at this festival.

Paris Hilton is banned for Oktoberfest due to inappropriate dress attire while trying to promote a new product.

Over 4,000 lost and found items turn up by the end of these shenanigans. Last year items included 350 cell phones, 520 wallets, over 1,000 passports, 370 pairs of glasses, 425 sets of keys, 1300 items of clothing, and at least one set of dentures. Even 48 children were lost, then found. 

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

Next time I’m bringing a pirates hat

The day before kadooment, there’s an annual cruise with limited guests having unlimited fun. I’m honored to have been a part of this celebration for three years know and plan to keep it in the running!

M.C. Buccaneer Cruise 2012


M.C. Buccaneer cruise 2013


Let the fun begin now in 2014. Many familiar faces and a few new ones make this day exactly what the island ordered.

We snuck on before the crowd gathered. It looks so innocent, right?


Once the guests gathered, we departed on the crystal clear waters. It takes no time for the hosts to bust out the snacks. By “snacks”, I mean vodka soaked fruit and coffee flavored tequila with whipped cream and sprinkles.




No, that’s not my usual seaweed snack… It’s the greens of a scrumptious strawberry.


Keep in mind, although we’re cruising the smooth waters of Barbados, we’re still on a boat. With your eyes open and hands ready to grip the nearest stable surface at any given moment… take a walk (or wave induced stumble) with me!







Notice the hands bracing themselves on the pole? We’ll pretend that’s not in preparation for the dainty dance that involves the Soca encouraged hip thrusting.


Looks like a singles cruise? Not hardly! Most of these happy-go-dancing are couples or married, some with several children! Maybe there’s something to be said about the young at heart. Either way… Single, married, young, experienced… The vibes are just connected, all the way around. Well done my Bajan friends… Well done!





A pit stop means it’s time to eat! Fish or pork cutters with a few crackers and dip is served to fill the belly of any person willing to stop dancing long enough to inhale a bite.


If you’re not eating or dancing, more than likely you’ll be found enjoying the water that only seems to be found on postcards.


My dearest Ryan likes to do it all, so I thought I’d help out this year and simply toss him the food from above. Success!


As the ship returns, reality hits that’s there’s still “real life” happening on land. On second thought… Reality hits that this is my reality and I should be extremely grateful for this experience!


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It all starts with a “Hello”.

Ok ok, I know it’s been awhile since I’ve posted but I’ve got wonderful reasons why. Let me catch you up on just a portion of last months beautiful connections and reunions Ive gotten to experience.

First up, we have an outstanding host turned friend that took me in while trekking New Zealand. From Wellington, I bring you (again) Regina! Here we were in new Zealand followed by a photo of us now!



Her and her husband Mike came to the states in the beginning of a backpacking journey through North and South America. My heart is filled with excitement knowing the path they’re about to experience. Congrats my friends!


On this night, we went down to Sutter street with Freya (you read about her in the previous post) to show them the popular walk of Folsom.

Handstand shot? Of course! Thanks to the help of my world traveling buddies, we created a tri-friendstand! Any guess on how many attempts to capture this photo? Maybe 2, 3… or 30, nobody was counting.

Moving on to these fine gentlemen who were introduced to me during my pre-Eurotrip training (I didn’t like beer and was soon to be standing on benches in Munich at one of the worlds largest beer festivals… I needed help). I then got to put my practice to purpose and reunited with them at Oktoberfest!
I met the fine couple (who’s expecting their first baby) at the same Oktoberfest and proceeded to “Proast!” with them for the following 3 years in Munich


Now we all reconnect in California for some quality bowling and catch up time!


Then there’s the unforgettable Marshall. We met poolside in Vegas and began to randomly chat about travels, shocking right? We took the day after and walked the strip coming to the conclusion that, indeed someday we would reunite abroad.

Sure enough, just months later we high-fived at a pub in Amsterdam before starting our road trip through Germany, Austria, Hungary, Slovakia, and The Czech Republic. If you were following back then, I’m sure you can recall some of the adventures, one of my favorites being Salzburg done in 24 hours.

Fun friend fact: Marshall also got to meet Simon, the Dutch guy I climbed Machu Picchu with (whom I originally met in Argentina). As well as Denise, my dear friend that I met in Spain, reunited with in Argentina and visit every year in The Netherlands. Not to mention, he met the German couple from the bowling pictures above at Oktoberfest last year!

Now, he makes his way to California with his beautiful girlfriend Jaquiline for a west coast visit.


Who else does he get introduced too? Mike and Hayden, who also got to meet Denise and Simon abroad. Bringing all of my worldy friends together…. One by one!


The following is a conversation from a hostel room near Lake Tekapo that started this wonderful friendship:
“Erika. Yep, what’s yours?”.
“No, that’s my name. I was asking for yours”.
“It’s Erika, I already told you”… this name game went on for far too long before we realized that we were both named Erika (or Erica, if you ask her). The two of us were traveling alone in the middle of New Zealand which brought a beautiful opportunity to carpool south. Hundreds of miles in a car that barely fit us and our backpacks, we ended our journey sharing a a hostel in Queenstown.


Erica, being from New York and me a California girl, we joked about the day we’d reunite. 2 years later and over 6000 miles away, a great magnetic pull finds us side by side again, and how convenient… she needed a haircut!


It’s connections like this that remind me how powerful a smile and “hello” can truly be. Would if she was hadn’t of asked my name? What would the outcome had been if I was too shy to respond?
As I finished the haircut, we dreamt of the the location for our next reunion. It was then that I realized yet again, just how fortunate I really am.

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“The Yao of cooking”

Again I start with the idea that people cross your path for a reason, a season or a lifetime. On this day, I’m confident to say that I acquired all three of them!

Days prior I met Claudia who was introduced to me by Bree (the girl I met on the flight to Asia). The three of us partook in Monk Chat that led us to a beautiful organic cafe with this sign posted:


After meeting the enthusiastic owner we decided to return in celebration of her book release. Plus, free gourmet organic food, live music and a multi cultural crowd? Can’t really go wrong with any part of that!

Blending with us is on this little adventure is also sweet Maddi, a new gal in our dorm room that was easy to chat with and willing to join! When we arrived the double story cafe was packed full of smiles, glowing energy and enough bare feet to question the reason we even bother wearing shoes.



Downstairs there were sample trays full of her own recipes from flavorful spring rolls and sweet dip to a pumpkin-veggie-nut mixture that I could have swam in. We over heard the waiter ask the owner “how much food will be served?” Her response, “…until everyone has had their fill”. That alone should give you an idea of what kind of woman we’re talking about. Up stairs introduced you to floor tables, bean bags and more shining faces. You really couldn’t frown in a place like this!






Recognize that jolly bearded man? Yes, another brilliant unexpected path crossing as that guy was the English teacher for the Monks that we just met. Turns out he’s also a fan of this quaint cafe trying to make a difference in the community. What joy reached his face when he glanced over and saw the three of us smiling back!


There’s so much to look at in this shop! Have wandering eyes? Me too.





The food eating slows and now it’s time for sweet Yao and her colleagues to share a little bit about their goals in regards to supporting local growers and artists. This is when what I think is going to be a neat little taste of a locals perspective, turns and hits me with an unpredictable love-punch straight to the heart.
There were times I felt like they talking directly to me…. maybe in my teary eyed little world, they were.


The band started back up and books start flying off the shelf. Not literally, but I do think there were definitely multiple reasons of why the books were jumping into the hands of all of these smiles. The author is a quality, personable human being that puts just as much effort into her community as she does in her recipes.


Instead of paying a huge company to bind the books in large quantities, she found this local artist that personally hand-bound (I think that’s how you say it) every single one. When I approached the table, I took time to look at each design and picked my absolute favorite. She smiled and held my hand as she whispered “I only made one like that, I’m glad you chose it.”




You can imagine the natural high I was floating on as we left this building of love. I met people who had just the right thing to say at that moment, connected with some that I plan on seeing again and bonded even more so with my dear friend Bree.

Dear Yao,
Your soft voice speaks in volumes through your genuine eyes and passion towards helping others. I’m honored to have met you and I give thanks for your encouraging words and devotion to leading by example. You are a hero!


Categories: Art, Edibles!, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Big kids pretending to be adults

This is my third time to the amazing island of Barbados which speaks volumes considering I rarely return to a destination unless there’s friends, family or a culture that speaks to me. Here, I feel like there’s all three!

To get warmed up for the week ahead (that you should be very excited about), I’m going to share the annual boat cruise on MC Buccaneer. This limited, invite only event (yes, I feel extremely special to be one of the attendees) is a gathering to take in the sun, enjoy some drinks, and move to Caribbean music.


Flash collage from last years cruise! To see the full post, click here.


This year brought just as much fun with the same incredible people and even more memories to pile into the book of Barbados. First things first, meet the bartenders and the entertaining DJ Puffy.








And we’re off! The music steps up and the games begin!








Ooh look, we have a birthday today! Sweet Aldo gets cup cakes and punch right out the fruit! Oh grown-ups pretending to be children… or should I say big kids pretending to be adults?










Wait 30 min after eating to swim? Nope. Remember the safety flotation devices from last year? They’re back, just for our protection.










Time to head back to the dock. Which really just means more dancing, more smiles and the overall energy kicking up a notch!












Another success my friends! Thank you Daniel, Sean and Dwayne.


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“How do you afford all that traveling?!”

How do I afford it? I’m not a professional traveler nor do I guarantee that “my way” will work for everyone. I’ve just been asked so many times that I feel the need to share as much as I can in hopes that others will take an opportunity in their life and make it happen as well.

Lets start with the primary way I’m able to travel, the beautiful world of volunteering. My thoughts have always been that I have a healthy body, active mind and an abundance of energy… Why not put it to use! While researching my possibilities, I fell upon the program described below and have stuck with it ever since.

“Help exchange” is an online listing of hosts that generally offers a room and meals in exchange for work. You can snoop around the website without registering, but the annual fee is minimal and it allows you to see everyone’s profile in detail. If you desire to travel abroad, meet locals, and learn more about culture than the “tours” provide, I highly suggest you check this out, it’s changed my life.

Help Exchange .

To give you an idea of some of the things I’ve gotten to do and places I’ve seen while volunteering, here are a few links to some of my favorite hosts!

This was with an amazing family in Australia that provided a tree house for the accommodation, scrumptious vegetarian meals and a plethora of knowledge with organic gardening.   LIFE IN THE TREES OF WOONONA .

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

this took me to a tiny coastal town in New Zealand. I got to share a cabin with another volunteer from Malaysia.  ON THE RESERVE .

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An orphanage in Argentina that opened my eyes to a group of smart, funny and extremely entertaining children.  ANOTHER DAY WITH THE KIDS .

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This was in a small village outside of Cusco Peru. We got to work at the school and then direct the after class programs.
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

If I’m not volunteering, I’m usually staying with a friendly fellow traveler that I’ve met along the way.  
“Well, if you ever make it to (fill in a random city here) you’re more than welcome to stay with me”. 
This is a common offer that I rarely turn down… and fully plan on returning the favor when (if) I grow up and get a place of my own.

If I’m not volunteering or reconnecting with a friend, I’m usually on the way to do so. This leads to my next accommodation that, for the most part, is free considering I have to do it either way. Planes, trains, buses and boats!
If at all possible I make my transfers during the “night route”. Prices are generally the same and sometimes even cheaper. Depending on how long the ride is, they depart between 10p and midnight, getting you to your destination by the morning. So if you can sacrafice a night without totally horizontal sleep and can endure the random crying baby, Mr. Sneeze McGee or Captain Cough sitting behind you… You’ve just got one more night of rest (or attempted rest) for no extra charge!

When none of the above has fallen into place, I resort to the hostel life.  
Definition of hostel: A hostel is a budget-oriented, shared-room (“dormitory”) accommodation that accepts individual travelers (typically backpackers) or groups for short-term stays, and that provides common areas and communal facilities.
It serves it’s purpose for a minimal price compared to hotels and resorts.  Even though it’s money out of the pocket, I still feel like it’s a positive addition to my journey. This is usually where I get bunked up with a stranger that leaves as a new friend that I usually reconnect with down the road.  Without the handy backpacker accommodation, I wouldn’t meet nearly as many people as I do. 
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Next expense – Transportation
Of course to get to the main destination, especially from the states, a flight is neccessary. Unfortunately I haven’t met a backpacker yet with part ownership in a major airway company, so I just rely on a few basic tricks to get the best, cheapest flights possible.  Here’s what I’ve found:

What day and time you fly – Be flexible. Do you have to fly out Friday Or Sunday (the most expensive days) or can you swing a red eye on Wednesday?

What day and time you purchase – It’s been proven that shopping and purchasing flights on Tuesday afternoon is usually the cheapest option. Airlines are battling for your ticket because most people snoop for deals on the weekends when they have time to look.

Airports – sometimes flying into and out of a nearby airport can save money.  This isn’t my favorite trick because sometimes you’ll spend just as much money (and time) getting a transfer to your final destination over the direct savings. 

Using the plastic – Because I use so many different airlines and travel companies, I use a general CC that allows me to save up points and use them towards ANY ticket. It’s a beautiful circle of using the card to buy the tickets (paying it off every month!) and then using those points for the next flight.  

Buying in bulk or one ways- Most of the time I just have a general layout of when and where I’ll be month to month.  This prevents me from purchasing specific tickets in advance, however I found a company that allows you to buy in bulk with the flexibility to change your dates.

If I don’t use them for my flights, I’ll stick to a one way purchase then figure it out as I go.
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Websites – Kayak, Travelzoo, Orbits, Expedia and the list goes on of sites that can help with your journey.  I don’t soley rely on them, however they are helpful to narrow down some options and they’ll email you valid deals that the general public won’t hear about.

Once I’ve landed…

Plane, train, bus or share – Before I decide on my transportation details, I first pick which type is going to be the best fit to my needs.  Financially, what is the cheapest and is it worth it. Is it safe enough to risk and save the money? What about time flexibility, can I afford to loose a day of travel on a 22 hour bus ride or should I just pay the extra for the 2 hour flight? A fancy train for speed, luxury bus for semi comfort or a local van to save the green? 

My favorite way to really save with ground transportation is sharing a ride.  I’m not necessarily talking about hitch hiking, although that was a blast in New Zealand! The photo below is the brave driver who picked me up, my new and still friend Hamish!
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The other option which is an organized ride share that you can usually find in every country. for example is a site that links people looking for gas money if you want a ride to where they’re going.  A high speed train from Madrid to Barcelona is about 120 euro, a public bus averages 50 euro, but a ride share would ask for 30 euro. Is it worth it at that time?
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Last option that Ive always kept as a possibility is car relocation services.  There are online sites that link you with companies that need a one way driver. Maybe it ws rented by a previous traveler to go to an major airport and now needs to make it back to it’s original city. You pick it up, drive it to your next stop and then viola, you just payed for gas with a bonus of the open road! This is even more amazing if you can find another backpacker going in the same direction who wants a ride and will split the gas… Score!

I get there, stay there and now it’s time to eat!

When volunteering, part of your work is rewarded with meals.  It can vary between getting all your daily meals to just eating dinner with the family. Either way, I always have a variety of protein, carbs and fat in my backpack to hold me over and or consume as an emergency meal. Some examples are a variety of nuts, dried fruit or veggies, dry oats (granola if you need more flavor), honey, etc. Once I arrive to a new destination one of my favorite things is to find the local store or market and look around for healthy items that I’ve never seen before to throw in my bag for the next bus ride. Financially I can survive much longer by making my own meals which is another bonus of hostel traveling. The kitchen is open to the guests to use (something you won’t find at hotels).  

Left overs? Save them! If I DO eat out I’ll always see if someone wants to share a meal and if not, I’ll wrap up what’s left and eat that for meals to follow until it’s gone. See the “edibles” posts for some examples of creative re-use of food.
This meal, I turned into three!
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Commonly hostels or volunteer hosts will provide a spread for breakfast that might include (rarely including ALl) things like fruit, cereal, oats, breads, yogurt, eggs and so on. The yogurt will spoil over time on the road so eat that first. You need heat to cook eggs, so if yogurt isnt your choice of protien go for the egg.  The breads, oats and grain travel well, so snag a serving and throw it in your bag for a later snack.  Ive even put my morning yogurt in the freezer and taken it when I leave. This is so when I hit the road and get hungry, I snag a piece of fruit from a stand and my thawed yogurt is thawed and ready to eat…and free! 

Lastly, “Do you ever make money”?

Yes! I’m fortunate that the 4 career choices I’m experienced with, I can take around the world.  Primarily hairstyling because everyone wants a haircut and most travelers don’t have the desire to trust or over pay a salon.  So when I arrive in a new hostel I’ll hang a small sign stating my prices and room number and see what comes my way.  Usually at each hostel, I’ll make enough to pay for my stay and walk away with some change.  At one accommodation, the owner of the place let me give his staff haircuts and didn’t charge me for the 3 nights I stayed!
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Massage therapy, bar tending and teaching are the other three that I use when opportunity arise. Sometimes I get paid cash, other times its a barter like dinner, a bus ticket, a free night stay or my personal favorite, language lessons!
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

So there you have it, a general guide to my sneaky ways of traveling like I do. Hopefully it’s obvious I truly enjoy it, so please don’t hesitate to email me with specific questions.

Cheers to adventure!

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

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