Posts Tagged With: reunion

…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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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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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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Wait, you really want me to climb that thing?

Are you ready for this? Follow along as I take you on a quick journey that guides you to my next entertaining reunion.

Meet Hayden, a childhood friend that I grew up with in Folsom, California. He recently extended his travel wings and met me in abroad in Central and South America. Here we are on a jumper flight in Costa Rica!


Remember Ann and Colin? This is the sweet couple that enhanced my volunteering in Ecuador with their fun loving, open hearted energy.


Peru is the place in which I got to introduce these three amazing people to each other as we bonded our way to Machu Picchu!



During these fun days together, we talked about reuniting in the states and how someday they could teach us how to rock climb. Two months later Hayden and I found ourselves heading to reconnect with our pals in the famous national park of Yosemite!

Road trip!


Fun fact #1 – Over 4 million people visit this National park a year.

The camping bags are packed and the climbing gear is ready as we hit the path towards Yosemite!





A reunion complimented with the classic handstand shot!



Fun Fact #2 – Yosemite is home of North Americas largest waterfall which ranks 3rd in the world!


Today’s play time will be ascending up an angled rock while flexing, stretching, and “hand jamming” our way to the top! I felt pretty cool walking with all the gear.



Fun fact #3 – El Capitan is the largest granite block in the world!

We let the professionals find the right rock to set up and give us a quick but detailed lesson on the sport they love so much.




I’m chalked up and all safety is cleared. Ready, set…Climb!







What goes up… has to walk backwards down? All righty, here I go!




Hayden’s turn!







Now we get shown how it’s done!







For all of the avid climbers out there… This photo’s for you!


What an exhilarating start for my first visit to Yosemite! Tomorrow will bring a gorgeous hike and some water fun!

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Students in Darmstadt!

The very first Oktoberfest I attended, my friend Krista and I randomly ran into (they let us sit at their table) a group of friendly German guys. They welcomed us with beer, smiles and a bit of teasing that we wanted mustard with our pretzels. With good ol’ Facebook, keeping in touch was easy and after all this time, now I’m visiting their city of Darmstadt!

Here we are years ago (My host Markus is on the right).



And here we are now!


Markus is a genuinely kind guy with a happy heart and a smile that I’ve watched light up every gathering we’ve attended. He’s a natural at making you feel comfortable which makes him fantastic at being a part of the “Welcoming crew” that show the college freshman around town.

Before I show you what a day looks like as a chemistry college student, let’s bring it back to the elementary days. This is a castle field trip that usually provides a day of excitement for young school kids around the area. This week, I got a private tour!


The walk to get us to the top.









Of course we stop for some fun!







This tree is over 300 years old and is clear at the top with roots extending all throughout the castle.



The tree for a high view point (including the handstand shot!)




Other incredible sights from up top including some pics with effects added.






The walk back down with a few more cool photos…





Now through the adorable neighborhoods of the small town he grew up in called Bensheim.





Clearly posted…


A peaceful walk through the woods to arrive at the Felsenmeer (sea of rocks)!









On the way back we stopped at this little cabin that was offering homemade pies, cakes, drinks and treats. The man inside looked as if he had built the place and had been running it ever since. I couldn’t tell, but Markus mentioned his “Red neck German accent”. I can only imagine!



Back to the city of Darmstadt to be a freshman for 24 hours. I got to tour the campus, the classrooms, the public transportation and the student beer gardens… Yes, the beer gardens! The drinking age is 16 for beer or wine and 18 for all other liquors. So this means a kid can have a beer while studying on school grounds before he can even drive a car. (They get their drivers license at 18).







I also got a kick out of the idea that one of the “activities” to introduce the new students was a pub crawl… Why not? The drink below is translated in english as “lamp drink”. It’s a stein of apple wine with a champagne glass of cherry liqueur inside. With each sip, you get a taste of both.







Haircuts all around…






…and a few jump shots to finish up my days here in the sweet college town of Darmstadt!




Markus and friends… Thank you for all great conversation and the mini German lessons! It’s been a blast! Tchuss!

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Last stop of the road trip, Prague!

As we depart the striking city of Budapest towards Prague, we’ve got our hwy sticker passes, lap picnic snacks, tunes blaring… and NO GAS!







How did we let it get this low? In every other country so far, there was a station consistently placed for your connivence. I didn’t start to worry until I noticed the “SOS” phones that were on the side of the road every mile. A gas station! We creep into the parking lot using momentum from us rocking forward and backward while laughing in a “stress relief” fashion. We made it. Why not sneak in a handstand here! Did I mention this all happens in Slovakia?


We arrive late enough that I choose to sip hot tea in my pajamas as I say “Good luck!” to the boys as they head out for a pub crawl. Snoring sounds are common with a 8 person dorm room, but to be woken up by a block of wood to the rib cage from the bunk above you was new for me. Ok, ok.. I’m up!


The next morning was bitter-sweet as this would be the last morning here in Europe with my dear friend Marshall. (Enter sad sounds here). We were however, excited to reunite with Michael, the traveler we met in Vienna! Also joining us was a new friend from Brazil, good times!












We heard the sound of a sharp trumpet and after a 360 degree search for where this sweet sound was coming from, we looked up to find the musician perched at the top of this gorgeous building.



Handstand shot!


A walk through some shops to find yet another Irish Pub, Czech… check!








I almost thought we were going to miss out on a market… Nope, found one!









All great walks usually lead to water… So soothing yet extremely energizing!






My time is up here in Prague. I’m on my way to Frankfurt Germany to hit some major reunions as Marshall will be making his way back to the states tomorrow. He drops me off at the train station with no time for soppy goodbyes… Just enough for a monster hug, a high five and two smiles that confirm a Eurotrip well done!


Marshall, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, in my book…. you are quality energy. Your easy going vibe combined with nonstop positive enthusiasm equals a masterpiece for a perfect travel partner. Thank you for the memories, high fives, and the uncountable amount of times you saved me (and startled me) with the unforgettable “Bike lane!!”

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A BIG reunion in Holland

I’m looking forward to showing the beautiful city of Amsterdam and the friendly country of Holland (yes, there’s more to this place than the red-light district and cheese). But for now, I’m excited to share my most recent reunion.

Denise and I met by rooming together in Alicante Spain while studying Spanish last fall. Here we are a year ago. (Almost to the date!)



Then we got to see each other again when I passed through Holland about a month later. Here we are in Amsterdam where we dreamt that maybe someday we could gather again in a different country.


When you want something bad enough… You make it happen. Five months later we met at the front door of our own apartment while volunteering and studying in Buenos Aires.



A few from volunteering at a local orphanage.




This is one of my favorites snap shots after getting our hair done by one the young girls… Gorgeous!

This is the location we met Ioni, another Dutch girl that happen to be in the same school. It was an easy friendship right off the bat as the three of us quickly connected and made priceless memories. I could make an entire post reminiscing of our month in Argentina… But here’s 3 pics instead.




Since both of the girls are from Holland, it was decided that we would reunite someday near Amsterdam. Viola! 6 months later we are getting ready for a night on the town!



A colorful night of bright smiles and positive people!



This club played your typical American top 40 hits and a variety of who know what hits from Holland. I'm a fan of most music, however the Dutch music of the evening sent me directly back to the childhood memory of being at a carnival debating if I liked clowns or not… Weird.











I’m only putting one photo of the actual city at night because I want to save the rest for the future amazing night life post!


Fun photo!


To recover from the 4am arrival of the evening seen above, we decided to hit a flea market on the outskirts for an entertaining walk. I didn’t snag any photos of Denise’s good friend Jella or her sister Manouk, but there will plenty more of them later.

To get to the market do we bus, train, cab or tram? Oh it’s convertible time!

We don’t need hats…we’re wild and crazy girls!


Ok, maybe a little hair control is needed…


Hmmm, just the bangs back?



All right, that’s it… Scarves it is!


The entrance is a small example of the popularity of bicycles here. It’s very typical to have more bicycles in a parking lot than cars.


Like most flea markets, there are vendors providing items for all of your needs… or at least what you think you need that day because its just so cheap! From house decor, clothes, appliances, and lawn decorations to food, treats and a farmers section for fresh fruit and vegetables.

We skimmed through the house decor and lawn section. (At least that’s what I think it was).




Stopped for a pic of this awkward set up.


After being entertained by the walking band and skipping the games, we sit to eat. This is a a Turkish pizza, a thin dough smeared with a light red sauce that’s open toasted on a grill. It’s then filled with lettuce, tomato, and cucumber with your choice of spicy garlic sauces and/or your pick of meat. First time for everything!






After our meal we survive through the sweets with only a stop at a traditional Dutch pancake stand. Jella told them I was from America and had never experienced this delight before. I was handed a complimentary sample… Flag and all!






We end our mini adventure at the farmers market which of course is my favorite!





Finally a quick story. At the market we passed by this green cake that my friends starting raving about. After moments of watching them try to explain the magnitude of amazing this dessert was, we decided to grab a slice and split it so I could try what they considered to be one of the best!

Ooh I was so excited for this new fabulous flavor to hit my taste buds…


It was angel food cake.
(A sponge cake that Americans traditionally top with strawberries and cream.

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