Posts Tagged With: train

First “Friday Fitness” post!

JOIN ME! I’ll be posting every Friday on our journey to a healthier state of mind, body and reaching personal best! There’ll be realistic weekly goals to challenge ourselves with and tools to help accomplish them! I’ll be sharing my voyage with recipes, workout ideas, struggles, successes and (the dreaded) transitional before/after photos.

It’s time. I’ve previously shared about my journey through the health and fitness world primarily through posts about healthy food choices and workouts while traveling. Some of my favorite memories bring me back to a race in Barbados , yoga in Panama, Paddle boarding and a hike in Tobago, and amazing treks of Machu Picchu. These were all incredible times during my peak in fitness and now I’ve come full circle back into a wonderful world of new challenges. Let me quickly explain from the beginning.

I was born a lovable 8 lb ball of happiness and sprouted into a round head balanced on top of a set of thighs.

Fast forward through the adolescent years and I developed into the “healthy” or “big boned” cousin (a term used to describe chunky kids who aren’t built to be naturally thin). Although some thoughts would cross my mind after comments made, I never really concerned myself with the issue. I liked food, especially ice cream, as well as playing outside, giggling with my friends and making a mess with art and crafts. I was a kid.

Teenage years brought boys, school challenges and a variety of other things to distract me from self-image issues. Even though I’d still compare my body to other girls (who didn’t?!) it was nothing of extreme or enough to break my focus of surviving the teen years of school. It’s hard enough just being human with new hormones stuck in a few buildings with a thousand other irrational, emotionally driven pre-adult creatures.

Between 18-21 I truly didn’t feel the shift (captured in the first 3 photos from the collage below). It was like I had the opposite body image than most girls. I was gorgeous! I was also gaining a solid 15 pounds a year without even realizing it. 45 pounds heavier than healthy, I began to take a closer a look at this human suit I had to carry around. It wasn’t so much of how I looked in a swimsuit or what guys would like, as much as it was me needing to change my habits. I had watched a majority of my family members yo-yo diet my entire life and I wasn’t about to follow in their footsteps.

I started to slowly lose weight due to small diet changes and a walk every morning, it felt amazing! This was all done slowly and properly in regards to mainstream options. No diet pills, no eating disorders, no obsessive physical training, just a transition in lifestyle.

Once I achieved a consistent routine, my body settled into its comfort zone, “it’s” comfort zone, not mine. This is when I went to the local gym and spent a portion of my savings to get a trainer. “Teach me everything!”… and so they did. I dove in head first to the length of dedication that Zack, best coach ever, finally suggested I branch out on my own as I’ve exceeded the need for his assistance. And so I did.

Here’s a glimpse at the 40lb transition. Going from 30% fat to 18%

My new life was amazing! I felt unstoppable and ready to take on the world. Ironically, in my own little way, that’s what I did. This is when began and my big blue backpack took flight for the first time.

During the 6 year journey around the world my body naturally transformed according to my current behavior. I ranged from super strong while trekking parts of South America I shriveled down to nothing while recovering from a parasite in Malaysia , fluffed back up in Europe during the pints-o-beer at Oktoberfest then lost it all once landing in Japan. Needless to say, I returned to the states and the weight just seemed to fall into place. Some “places” I didn’t enjoy, but it was all necessary.

During my tiny days, my female cycle had completely vanished and I was told by several doctors (both western and homeopathic) that the chances of me ever carrying a child full term, let alone getting pregnant, was slim to none. For 8 years I held this belief with me. To be honest, it didn’t really bother me. I was single, traveling the world, loving life and had no time for things such as marriage and babies.

Enter Matt Stone.

I met my husband on a trip back to the states while visiting my mom. If you’ve been following the blog, you’ve seen that journey unfold. The reason I bring it up is because during this time, I started to involuntarily put on (necessary) fat that produced more estrogen. It started my cycle back up! It was like my body knew what was ahead.

This all brings me to the point of this entire post. First comes love, then comes marriage , then comes baby in the baby carriage! I hope at least half of you have chanted that on a playground somewhere.I was going to be the cutest, most fit and active prego I could be, I’m sure like most of us dream of being, that was until I was put on bed rest. After denial, refusal and my own little pity party, my world switched focus from selfish body image choices to health and protection of me and our unborn baby. No running, no working out, not even a walk beyond the mailbox. I’m still amazed I kept my sanity while losing strength and gaining cushion.

Now we have the little light of our lives and the current reason (excuse) I have adorable love handles with squishy arms to match. No more bedrest! Of course I wouldn’t trade my post prego body for the beautiful addition to our family and bla bla bla… but let’s be real, this fluff has has got to go (as well as this robe I’ve been living in!)

Confession: I’m using this blog and your attention to hold myself accountable while hopefully inspiring one, two or a hundred of you to do the same. If it’s the last 5 pounds you’re after, the first 50 or simply the ability to finally run without sounding like an excited pug, I truly hope you’ll find some encouragement here. I plan to be real, raw and transparent through it all. So authentic that I’m not even going to post a present pic today. So there. Na-ner Na-ner.

Lets ease into this week with your first challenge, JOIN ME! See that cute little button that says “follow” on the bottom of the screen? All you have to do is enter your email… no payments, no rights to your first born, no advertisements, just an address that can be notified when a new post has been published. Then you can comment, ask questions and help me pleasantly plow through this chapter of life. I thank you in advance!

Categories: Baby Talk, Fitness, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

It went all over my shoes

In 3 years of traveling, I’ve only gotten what some would consider “sick” just a handful of times. No more than if I were at home living a day to day routine. With that said, here’s a short story that sent my happy trails on a little detour.

It was the beginning year of my backpacking and my first trip to Peru. I had met a sweet young Dutch couple while studying in Argentina that decided to link up with me for a Machu Picchu adventure.

If you’d like an entertaining read with several pictures check out the entire 3 day journey here.

Here are a few photos from that memorable experience.


2015/01/img_3241.jpg We had completed out trek with an amazing day exploring the grounds of the ancient Incas. Making it back to the main city of Aguascalientes, I was beginning to feel a little uneasy. Nothing major, but just enough ache in my tummy to want to lay down as my friends left to grab dinner. Food was the last of my desires. The hostel we had slept at allowed me to bundle up in the employees room to recoup before our long train ride home to Cusco. Simon and Ashgan (the two kind smiles at the bottom of the page) said we had three hours before our train departed and they’d come wake me up when it was time to go.

I closed my eyes for what seemed like a minute before the door swung open to reveal both of my friends frantically picking up our bags. “We read the tickets wrong and we have to go now or we’ll miss the train!”

Imagine, you can barely move your head without the feeling of Mr.Nasuea knocking at your door and now it’s time to sprint through unevenly paved streets while lugging a 50lb backpack over your hunched shoulders that are protecting your cramping stomach. Oh joy.

I only made it a few steps before Simon (my Dutch Superhero of the day) clearly read my agony and lifted the bag from my back. I was now able to keep up with the two of them as we hustled down the steep hills and tight turns. You’d think that a sense of relief would come over me as I saw the station, but at this point I knew that poor Peru was going to see what I had for breakfast.

I hollered at them to keep going in order to check us in as I took a hard right into a lonely ally. Plug your ears as you read on to find that this type of vomit was far from what I would describe as danty or sickly. Words that come to mind are violent, uncontrollable and…. All over my shoes.

I gathered myself knowing that the train wouldn’t wait for the extra pale-faced chica to catch up. I spotted my buddies who now had our boarding passes, all of our bags and the look of two concerned parents. I actually felt better, so with high hopes I assumed it was a one-time kind of deal and that the train would be more restful than anything. I was wrong.

We snagged a table booth next to the window and got settled in.

Let’s pause for a moment and talk about this “train”. Please do not imagine a high speed European railway or the popular US Amtrak, oh no no no. This was an ancient line of connecting boxes that reminded me of a daunting Disney ride. Looking back, it was actually really neat, but at the moment it seemed like a legal form of torture. This tiny beast rocked back and forth as if to struggle finding balance between one side of the tracks to the other. Clickity clack, clickity clack, clickity clack…

So the “train”, now in full motion, did nothing to my body except create a movement that encouraged another round of losing whatever may have been left in my guts. I excused myself from the table to find the nearest toilet.

“Pardone, ¿dónde está el baño? Pronto por favor!”

The petite Peruvian woman, dressed in professional attire with a gentle smile pointed to an occupied closet. It was locked. I returned to meet eyes with her and clarified why I needed it… Now! Not understanding my broken sickly Spanish she just kept pointing to the door behind me.

Have you ever drawn a blank while trying to remember a certain word? Especially in another language? I could not think of “bag” or “bucket” or anything for that matter, so I proceeded to take the charades route and made motions of puking while gripping my stomach.

Seriously friends, visualize that one for a minute.

I continued to signal for any type of container and with sympathy, she just shrugged her shoulders. Swallowing (literally) with all of my strength to keep it down, I rushed back to my seat and dug through my backpack to find the stash of plastic bags I always keep on the road. Not wanting to provide a show for the fellow passengers, I swayed back and forth to the end of the car and kneeled down. I opened the bag and at that very moment, my body could no longer keep it in.

So there I was, curled in the corner for all the train to endure as this poor girl emptied her insides into a plastic bag with “Muchas Gracias” printed on the side.

I finally reached a point in which I felt settled enough to go back to my seat. I stood up slowly looking down at my bag full of, ummm substance…. What was I ever going to do with this? After unsuccessfully looking for an employee that could point me to a bin, I had nowhere else to turn except a cart that carried all of the snacks and drinks. That’s it! I saw a symbol that appeared to be for “trash” on top of what resembled a waste compartment. Weak and tired, I still had the right mind to look inside first to confirm that it wasn’t where they stored the complimentary cookies. It was empty. I placed my bag inside with an internal (guilt driven) apology to the poor person who had to find it.

I proceeded to drag myself back to the booth, plop down and fall asleep.

I’d love to finish this story in great detail, but the only thing next in my memory was slowly opening my eyes. Relieved to not feel my stomach at my throat, I looked around placing myself in the bottom bunk bed, in the room of our original Cusco hostel. Next to my bed was a box of saltine crackers, a ginger soda and a pack of gum. My dear friends had carried my belongings back, tucked me in and provided just what I needed upon awakening. I’m so grateful for Simon and Ashgan for their selfless act in nourishing me to health and safety. Much love to you my friends!

2015/01/img_3235.jpg Side note update: Since that journey, I’ve traveled to Holland and have been able to reconnect with these two and their families! What a grand, beautiful world we live in.

Categories: Not-so-happy trails, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Raiders just keep on giving…

Since the Raiders lost during my “birthday” game (seen in “A day in silver and black”) it was felt to attend one more in high hopes for them to redeem themselves. Before I even try to drag this post out, let me just lay it out there. We got demolished. I mean, they generously sacrificed yet another win to allow the visiting team to feel welcome. I just can’t get over how unselfish the Oakland Raiders truly are!

Let’s make this post quick, fun and painless.

Instead of driving, Hayden and I decided to take the route that required no wheels. The first transfer required light rail, a regional transit system, from our home town of Folsom to the main Sacramento train station. Once arriving there, we hopped over to Amtrak that would take all the way to the Oakland colesium!





Finally arriving to Oakland, we exited the tracks to cross a bridge before entering the sea of black and silver. Tailgaters are already in motion on this side of the gates! Can you spot the flag being carried under us?



Trucks, food, friends and reunions. Yes please!



Here are two sets of “last game/this game” photos.



Football time! Today the Raiders are playing/donating a win to the Denver Broncos.


Well look here… A foreign color sitting right next to me. Clearly he didn’t get the silver and black memo. Ooh, game on buddy!


Lucky for Tom, his mustache and fun conversation made up for his choice of team.


Here’s the last photo I took of the charitable event before we decided to beat the crowds back home.


So when I say “beat the crowds”, what I meant was join the herd of like-minded fans.


Waiting for the train… Game over.


Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“This girl is on fire!” (to be sang like Alicia Keys)

On my way from Asia back to the United States, I made a pit stop in Japan for some family time and to also gather the rest of my belongings. My dear cousin Brandon, who is stationed in the Navy there, let me stash some bags there until my return. Thanks pal!

Most of my previous experiences in this unique country you can read about in other posts. Some of the popular ones are “You know you’re in Japan when…” and Buddha, when we went to visit the 2nd largest Buddha statue in Japan.
For this one, I’m going to wrap up a few random events that leaves me still smiling about a country I wouldn’t want to live in, but don’t want to live without.

First up is my welcome back buffet. It’s becoming tradition that with each visit, we choose a night in which we hit the local store, grab several random items that look good and/or questionable. Here’s a snap shot from last years spread in “Snacks, Japan style”.


This year we did just fine after wandering the aisles with confusing character writing and giggling store clerks. If you’ve ever been here, you can vouch that a grumpy employee of any customer service industry is rarely seen. They are typically overly eager to help you and smile while they chant something in Japanese (that I still don’t understand). No matter what mood you walk in with, you generally leave feeling the uncontrollable urge to skip to your car. Back to the snacks…here’s our dinner!



Fun fact: In Japan, “Sunday Funday Football” starts extremely early on Monday morning. I thought I’d give it try and see if any of the local channels would air it. To my surprise there were some enthusiastic hosts describing the highlights!


For the halftime show, women’s bowling! How do you not smile when you see this?


Ok, let’s move on to a night out on the town where I get to introduce a new friend. Originally from California, Craigg is also serving in the Navy at the same base as Brandon. Don’t let his easy going attitude fool you, this relaxed guy not only has an abundance of energy, but a sharp witted sense of humor to match. These two boys in the same room will leave your cheeks aching and mind stimulated (and probably slightly confused).



After our train ride to the city, we laughed the evening away while making random pit stops in the vibrant streets. On this handstand shot, I was more impressed that Brandon captured it on the first try over the fact that my feet didn’t come in contact with any innocent bystanders. For more detail of this specific area, check out the post called “Wait, it’s not Halloween yet…is it?”



The next and final event was a extraordinary surprise from my moms dear friend Rome. To this day my mom still speaks of the fond memories she created while working with him. On this day, I was lucky enough to be treated like royalty at an Alicia Keys concert right here in Yokohama!

Me and Rome before the show.


My date to this international opportunity? Only the perfect partner in small crime, Craigg! We had no idea where the seats were, so we just handed the Japanese written card to the guard and followed their finger pointing directions. A few security men later we were finally led to a roped off area on the floor. What? No way! We were in prime seats, three rows from the stage!


Let the show begin!



These employees were clearly not enjoying the show.


…but I was! “Everybody put your phones in the air!” (For those of you under 20 years old, this used to be an arena full of lighters in the sky).



*Thank you Craigg for bringing your phone to get the pictures from above!

After the show, we dodged the ropes and shined our V.I.P passes to get backstage. What do you find behind then scenes when the curtain drops? Exhausted musicians, random snacks, a variety of drinks and a bundle of hard working crew members. For obvious reasons he didn’t snap any photos in this area.


Rome, you’ve raised the bar once again. Many thanks and warm hugs!

Categories: Edibles!, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Lady lady, where you from?”

The ride from Hanoi to Hoi An could of been long and boring however, I’ll never know that experience due to the new friends I met along the way. Vilmos and Zsuzsanna had an open door and was game for sharing snacks and travel stories. After hours of eye opening and heart stimulating conversation (thanks again for the new perspective) it was time for rest before we were booted off the train in central Vietnam.




*They put me in their blog too! Check out the photos and tell me what it says (if you can read Hungarian) at

Next stop Hoi An, a quaint old town that used to be Vietnam’s most important port and trading post with China. I’ve been told you can cover the entire town on foot in a day and still have time to snag a coffee. Sounds perfect after the chaos Hanoi had offered. Lets see!

When you walk along the rivers edge, you’ll see locals paddling away while the old boats sit and look pretty. It definitely adds a unique feel to this already small town. It makes me wonder if these waters could talk…






Lining the river are markets and shops with local owners doing their very best to make a sell. Their favorite conversation starter is “Where are you from?”. For my own entertainment and hopefully there’s as well, I started answering differently every time. “My mom said the moon, but I don’t believe her” or “I don’t remember… where are you from?”. I found the more bizzare of an answer the bigger the smile I got in return. This is either because they thought is was funny, I was out of my mind or maybe they just had absolutely no idea what I was saying.



Curiosity hits… What’s the reason behind the locals overly aggressive way of trying to get a sale? They would physically grab my arm and begin to guide me in the direction of their shop. After I’d deliver several “no thank you’s” with a bow, they’d keep trying and when the point was finally received that I was not interested, they’d give a disturbing frown almost to a pout. A final “no thank you” would end it and they’d turn away with a snarl.

Although I didn’t appreciate this whatsoever, it just makes me ponder what has been the progression or experiences to get them to act in such behavior? Was it taught, learned through example or just a part of the culture? Are they ashamed or proud, possibly unaware of the environment that it creates? I wonder what it was like here 50, 30 or even just 10 years ago…

Once you’ve made your way through the “assertive” saleswomen, you can begin to branch off and see other stores, restaurants and old buildings. Although its not my thing, I dare not forget to mention (for all my fashionistas) that Hoi An also has over 400 tailors within the city limits. Need a dress, suit or pants? Whatever you fancy they’ll measure you, make it and have it ready within 24 hours.








A quick pit stop for a street food snack brings me a mung bean patty and a dish that tasted like a rice gelatin substance with vegetable soup and topped with chili sauce and fried onions. What was it really? I have no idea.


Ooh, creative photo time! Amazing what a tiny camera effect can do to an image.







As the day progressed, the clouds began to cover and within moments we were showered with unforgiving rain. Little did I know, this was the calming before the typhoon heading in our direction. I suppose my lack of that information was bliss as I splashed around the wet city.







Evening rolled around and the rain hadn’t only opened the door but invited itself in with no intention on leaving. As I was heading back to my hostel, I heard “I know you!” On a bike rolls up Alex, the friendly German who I shared a cab ride with from the airport! A chat in the rain? Don’t mind if I do! We geared up appropriately and headed out for an adventure in the storm.


We ended up at Cafe 19, a small little spot that offered $0.25 beers and a local dish called White Rose (which is like a dumpling) that we were both eager to try. Perfect!



This menu made us chuckle, not that it was so clear in regards to pork or beef, but the proportion of the two animals.


An early rise for me was welcomed with a complimentary breakfast, a choice of coffee, juice, eggs and veggies or bread. Yes please! I went with a mushroom and tomato omelette, raw veggies and a ginger-lime juice that was so fresh there were chunks of ginger and lime pulp!


Dear Vietnam, my journey here was short and I may need more time in your country-side to truly appreciate all that you have to offer. Until then, thank you for the warm soup, yogurt coffee and new friends!

Next stop, Thailand!

Categories: Edibles!, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Hanoi – A day in the streets & the market by night!

I found that when I was walking the streets of Hanoi, the energy from the locals was constantly sending me mixed signals. Food venders on the street might greet you when you smile into their bowl of mystery items and others pretend as if you don’t exist. Many tuk tuk drivers will offer you a kind ride, while others won’t hesitate to nip your heels along a cross walk. Maybe it’s because I was spoiled in Cambodia or that I’m usually staying with locals, but I was taken back by the overall “you’re just a tourist” vibe that dampened this city. I suppose thats what I get for visiting the second largest city in Vietnam. With that said, lets see what it has to offer!

Welcome to the streets of Hanoi, Vietnam!







Of course there’s a Pub… Haven’t found a country yet that doesn’t support an Irish drinking place!


These sweet girls welcomed me into their creative shop in which mostly everything was handmade by them right here in the store. What a beautiful group of ambitious ladies!



A breath of fresh air in this busy city can be found with a walk around the lake (the one seen from the balcony of the egg coffee cafe.




Like in most cities, as the sun goes down… the energy goes up!




The famous night market draws in a crowd looking for clothes, trinkets, food, drinks and pretty much anything else you can imagine that’s sellable to a willing customer.






This friendly couple from Sweden made dinner a treat by splitting a massive feast with me. Each table gets their own grill and a plate of raw food. You add the oil and seasonings, then stir-fry it up! I included the first photo just to show off my favorite mini table settings that the locals dine on.



If you’re not strolling the night market, just hitting the main streets will keep your eyes on the move!




Safety tips of the day:
1. Assuming pedestrians have the right away will get you hit by a speeding motorbike.

2. Once you commit to walking… Keep going! They’ll maneuver around you (That’s my noggin to the left of the photo).

3. If you can’t beat them, join em!


Time for a double connection! Egg coffee friends… meet barbecue night-market friends! On this evening, we chose to stay low key with the locals and take a tea on some mini stools.


Well thank you Hanoi for your introduction to Vietnam. Travelers, if you’re reading this for personal advice, here’s my quick thought:
If you’re coming for a personal “local” experience… get out of the city. If you’re coming for souvenirs and egg coffee… You’ve come to the right place.

For me, it’s time to get out of town! A spicy and extremely sweet local girl offered me a ride to the station so I wouldn’t have to deal with a cab or cranky tuk tuk driver. Thank you dear!



Not only did she drive me all the way there, she parked her bike, checked me in and then proceeded to walk me all the way to the bed I would be sleeping on during this 13 hour train



Dear mystery motorbike angel, your kind smile and sassy energy was not only appreciated, but adored!


Next stop, Hoi An!


Categories: Edibles!, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Cologne, how come we’ve never met?

I’ve been coming to Germnay for years now and for some reason, I’ve never made a pit stop in the home to one of the most beautiful cathedrals that sits central next to a large river. Cologne is just south of Recklinghausen and is a hot spot for travelers in the area. With restaurants, pubs, bars, a brilliant shopping strip and many hotels, I’m surprised this place hasn’t made the top 10 “must visit” places in Germany! Maybe it has and I just never payed attention, either way, I finally made it and the short 24 hour visit only left me craving more!

A train ride from Recklinghausen to Cologne with one transfer cost about 30€ total and takes just a few hours. The nap is free of a charge.





Ill start by introducing the accommodations we chose. To be honest, it was a last minute decision to even come through here, so we didn’t do too much research on our options. With a view over looking the river, a private bathroom (which is like gold to a backpacker!) and a location that finds you center to entertainment and walking distance from the train station, we scored at Hotel Löwenbräu. Although the restaurant down stairs is convenient, it was a little awkward trekking through the candle lit ambiance as two backpackers coming in and out.




With limited daylight we headed straight to Cologne Cathedral to experience what used to be the tallest building from 1880 to 1884 and now is the largest Gothic church in Germany and tallest Roman Catholic cathedral in the world. This massive structure had the foundation laid back in 1248 and was continually worked on until the celebration of its completion in 1880. Photos rarely capture the grand size of beautiful buildings and this beast was even hard to get a handstand photo incorporating the entire structure! We tried from two different angles.








Before entering, here’s a few sights you may come across.





As you approach the entrance, the architecture already begins to reveal itself and once going through the doors, the magnitude and detail take over your senses.










There are several areas designed for prayer. Lighting a candle is a way of extending one’s prayer and showing solidarity with the person of whom you’ve prayed for. I’m unfamiliar with the details of the Catholic rituals, but it was interesting to learn about!





I would love to be present when these pipes chime with glorious sounds on a Sunday morning. Again, the large size just isn’t exposed in these shots.





After circling the main floor, we headed for the opportunity to climb the tower that raises above the cathedral. An innocent staircase starts the first of over 500 steps!






You can see how years of traffic have worn the steps that guide you up the tower. Makes me wonder who and what these walls have seen!


Once you think you’ve reached the tip top, the next set of stairs just smiles at you with the “thought you were done?” grin and invites you for another couple hundred steps.




The view was exactly as expected allowing you to see a majority of the city that hugs a portion of the river.


Do you remember the locks I spoke about in Germany and France? They’re secured by a couple in love and then the key is thrown into “Never going to unlock our love” land. This was my favorite chosen spot by some darling couple, makes for a great photo!


The rain started to get a little heavier as we made our way back down the steps. Some parts are open air, leaving you to experience the elements and others are covered.



We chose the long route home never minding the rain and watched the people as they indulged in the souvenirs and local shops.


A quick bite was necessary at this point. “Does that say Frozen Yogurt!?” I asked with excitment. Hayden then responds with “No…where? I only see hotdogs”. Funny how we focus on what we want.




A “last night in Germany” toast was called for when we reunited with Dany, a French Canadian that we met along the way.


The very next morning, Hayden and I head for the train station with happy feet and the sun shining as the next stop is the international airport!





Crete Greece is the last stop on our joint trip and the first country we’re seeing that I’ve never been too! Why Greece? You guessed it, another international friend that I met years ago who has now stretched out the invite to visit him in Crete during his summer stay. Farewell to Germany and many thanks to the huge hearts and welcoming hugs that still invite me back. Cheers till next time!


Categories: Accommodations, Art, Travel talk, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

Aguascalientes… more than just hot water

After the memory filled days of exploring Machu Picchu, the boys took the long route and made it up even higher as Ann and I skipped the bus ride and walked back to Aguascalientes.






One of the outstanding features of this city, is how it sits hillside with a beautiful river running through it.




Even though it is fully stocked with several gift shops, craft markets and tienda’s, we went for the group effort and indulged in a game of “table hopping”.





This pleasant pause was with a local woman behind a card table, whom I believe was fully impressed with our enthusiasm for her amazing stuffed peppers and veggie potato snacks!


Not only did we find Jenga at this pit stop, we found one of the last empty blocks to make our mark!







Wrapping up our self entertaining excursion, we boarded a train to connect us to a bus, that finally dropped us off back for the walk to our hostel.

Tomorrow, the markets and inner streets of one of my favorite cities in South America… Cusco!


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

Jump kick in Machu Picchu

Last year, I wrote about some secret tips that were given to me by a local. My promise still stands, if you’re ever going to make experience the sacred city, please write me and I’ll gladly expose a few hints that will enhance your journey! Until then, the secret remains amongst them who have made the trek with me.

4:00am- Alarm sounds to an already awake room of travelers.
4:30- Showered, packed and ready to leave.
5:00- Lined up at the first bus to depart!


5:30- Bus ride in the dark to the base of the city.



6:00am- Whats this? We’re the first people in line to enter the sacred city!




The next 20 minutes is to remain undocumented for the strength of the “secret”… but here is one photo along the way before reaching our lookout point.


Once arriving, the fog acted like a curtain that requested patience as it protected the artwork we all came to see. We took advantage of this moment with a few fun photos!






Layer by layer, the curtains gracefully lifted as the masterpiece was revealed.






On the way down into the city, I realized that I wanted to mix up the handstand photo from last year . How amazing are my friends? They patiently waited as I ran into the empty field (that was apparently off limits) and snagged the picture. Can you spot me?



Time to head in and explore the walls that make up this mystical place.













A happy picnic break to take it all in as we watched the herd of people (who slept in) make their way towards us.







Between the four of us and our enthusiasm for fun pictures, it was hard to pass up any of the next photos!












Here’s the classic pose and snap shots taken before our final hike down the trail.



A sincere thanks to my new friends Colin and Ann for the incredible partnership and enthusiasm towards this remarkable journey. Hayden, you blindly booked a flight with the trust in me to make it happen… I’m honored for your company on this priceless journey as you enhanced the experience for all of us!


Categories: Fitness, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Blog at