Adventures– It’s a passion

I believe that we must take full advantage of the life we are given, which means do the things you want to do, be the person you wish to be and reach for the dreams you’ve set out for yourself. Personal growth and development is an important aspect of my everyday life. People assume that they are going to make it to old age and that tomorrow is certain, however it really is not the case. We have to rejoice in the lives we wake up to in the morning and fulfill the dreams of today. I might sound a little cliché, but I don’t want to wait until it’s too late to start dreaming of what I could have done, or what I should have done. Maybe I’m wrong, but my mindset is what keeps me going. With that being said, I choose to live a life that makes the ordinary daily grind bearable. My wild spiritedness continues to push me to travel to places as far as I can; and as often as my bank account will allow me to.

I long for the breath of fresh air that feels unfamiliar, yet comforting. I enjoy walking down streets I have never travelled on and make it my routine for next couple of days. Trying dishes and desserts that liven my taste buds. I guess like everyone else, this is my hobby. To learn more, grow more, experience more, and truly feel alive.

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Speaking about being alive, I remember the first time I went snowboarding. It was a surreal experience for many reasons; one, it was the first time I have ever seen that much snow in my life and second, I didn’t think in a million years I would ever be doing something so cool. When I finally grew the courage to take the black diamond trail down the mountain, I was excited yet scared, but happy for sure! Keep in mind this was my second day on the board EVER. So I got to the top of the mountain and the view was absolutely breath taking, the air was crisp and cold, but I still felt warm from the sun’s ray. I remember jumping off the ski lift and speeding down that mountain. I looked around and I was surrounded by mountains, snow and not a single person in sight; yet in that quick moment I felt free, strong, fearless and overwhelmingly happy. I fell a number of times, I even broke my wrist; but I will never forget how alive I felt and maybe it was the adrenaline rush getting to my head or the fact that I couldn’t feel my frozen face… either way I strive for new adventures every single day.
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“Actually, the best gift you could have given her was a lifetime of adventures…”—Lewis Carroll

I look around and my peers are scrabbling their assignments, furiously typing a report due at midnight, carrying their resumes as if it were another form of identification, planning their five, ten or fifteen-year route, and focused on what’s next. I’m not saying don’t set goals for yourself, but also take…make the time to enjoy your passion. I don’t know what is in store for me next, it makes me a little nervous not having control over it, although I have learned to trust myself in these past few years and I will always follow what is truly meant for me ❤

Travel Bucket List—Europe Edition

I started this post as the travel bucket list and it turned into a list of all things I want to do. However, I realized early on that I cannot possible consolidate all the places I want to travel to in a single list. I just can’t help it…there’s just so many things I want to experience, so I have narrowed it down to the top three in Europe. The great thing about making lists is that I can check off what I’ve done and make more 🙂

Spain

Spain is one of the places that lands on the top of my travel list. I am just captivated by the amount of culture and history Spain has to offer from the wonderful architecture, the language, to the history and traditions. Things I want to do when I visit Spain

  • Run with the bulls
  • Experience a real futball game
  • Visit the La Sagrada Famillia
  • Walking El Camino de Santiago
  • Visit Madrid, Cordoba & Barcelona
  • Eat authentic paella, tapas, and sangria.

Greece

Another beautiful place with wonderful culture and history. Top five places I see are the full moon festival, the Acropolis and museum in Athens, trek the Samaria gorge in Crete, explore the blue caves in Zakynthos and visit the forgotten temple of Lysistrata. Being the foodie that I am, I obviously have a list for that too. I am huge on seafood so of course that makes it to the top of the list:

  • Psarosoupa- Greek fish soup
  • Moussaka- Layered eggplant, minced meat. Tomato and onion topped with sauce
  • Souvlaki- grilled meat or veggies on pita
  • Dolmades-Grape leaves stuffed with rice and fresh herbs
  • Galaktoboureko- custard wrapped in filo pastry topped with lemon syrup

Italy

Italy is a very romantic city and it would be a dream of mine to visit during the spring, When the flowers are in full bloom, the air is light and breezy and aroma is sun kissed. There are few different places I would like to see in Italy, I might need to spent at least a couple weeks to fully satisfy my needs. The place I want to see:

  • Milan- Brera & Sforza Castle
  • Florence- See Tower of Pisa
  • Rome- Visit the Colosseum
  • Venice- Ride a gondola
  • Sicily- go to a concert at the Greek Theater
  • Amalfi Coast- Stay at the Belmond Hotel Caruso—best view of the coast you can get from a pool!
  • Sardinia- I want to visit the Pink Budelli beach

The Ultimate Weekend Packing Checklist

We have all felt that excitement of an overdue vacation…we spend multiple weeks day-dreaming of lounging on the beach with no worries in the world. But then there’s the dreaded packing that needs to get done. I admit—I used to be “the night before” packer. Scrambling what clean clothes I have in my suitcase, either over/under packing and almost always leaving my phone charger behind. Keep in mind that I travel almost every other weekend and being able to quickly put an overnight bag together is important for me.

In order to avoid this unorganized disaster, I’ve come up with a more efficient way to pack without having to over pack. Try to keep in mind the climate of

your destination and even doing some prior research would be beneficial. I learned the hard way when I visited San Francisco last August. I assumed that it would be warm and sunny just like how summer is supposed to be, so I had tank tops, shorts and dresses in my suitcase. I did not realize that the temperature stays cool year round, and so I was stuck having to buy clothes when I got there to stay comfortable. Doing research is definitely part one!

Next, focus on the necessities. Being a girl, necessities to me means having my products. Let’s face it, hotel shampoo and conditioner just doesn’t cut it. A good size toiletry bag where you can keep spare travel sized products, small make-up kits, tiny first aid kit, and really anything else you need. Keep this bag stored away as it so that when you go to pack, it is ready to go.

As far as clothes go, I pack based on outfits at least two a day and something that can last for two days. For example, jeans can be worn at two or more different occasions and the same goes for shorts or tank tops.

The overall count of what I usually pack for a weekend trip:

  • A Pair of pants usually jeans
  • Three different kinds of tops:
    • Tank top
    • Blouse
    • Formal top for dinner or night-life
  • One casual dress
  • A pair of shorts
  • A couple of sleeping clothes
  • Undergarments
  • Socks

As far as shoes goes, I usually pack three:

  • Flip flops for day time activities
  • Sneakers incase I’m exploring a city or going on a hike
  • Heels for a nice dinner out or night life.

Electronics is also another important part of the packing list, I usually travel with my laptop so I can’t forget my charger, phone charger is also crucial, and camera.

This pretty much sums up my packing list and I hope it can help you keep organized!

Tulum, Mexico in 4 Days

On a day to day basis I try to maintain a busy and filled lifestyle and nothing changes when I go on vacation. In four days I have managed to visit the Mayan Ruins, get lost in downtown Tulum, party at the Coco Bongo, spend time relaxing and lounging around the resort and visit an all-natural water park.

Day #1

Arrival at Cancun International Airport.

We rented a shuttle for $40 to transport us and our belongings to the Grand Oasis Resort. The entire commute took about an hour. We were greeted by the friendly staff and escorted to our suite. The rest of the afternoon and evening was spent exploring the resort, lounging on the beach and fully taking advantage of the all-inclusive food and drinks that came with the reservations.

Day #2

We woke up to an invitation to a special breakfast hosted by one of the resort representatives of the resort. He tried to sell us on a timeshare and showed us a video of the different locations they have available under the timeshare. He noticed early on, that we were a couple of young college students that were here to enjoy spring break… he then gifted us with a bottle of tequila and sent us on our way!

Next, we bought day tickets to an all-natural water park called XEL-HA. This is the best $60 or so bucks I’ve spent! The whole park was surrounded by water and you were able to tube around the entire park. We spent the day snorkeling, cliff diving, tubing, diving under cenotes, and of course still taking advantage of the all-inclusive food and drinks. They offered other add ons to swim with dolphins, ride a speed boat, and diving. After a long day of adventure, we made our way back to the resort around 6 PM in the evening.

Yes, we were exhausted by this point so…nap time! We rested for two hours or so and we were back up and ready to party! The most popular night club on this side of Mexico, the Coco Bongo, was our next stop. We made accommodations with the hotel to have a shuttle bus take us to and from the club.

Again, by far the best night club/burlesque show/performers I have ever seen! The club itself was based on the movie “The Mask” by Jim Carrey. They offered us a complementary drink once we were carded and entered the venue. The opening act was a scene from the Phantom of the Opera and included other acts from Tron, Burlesque, Michael Jackson, The Mask, and many more. We spent 6 hours of our night at the Coco Bongo and club hopping. Exhausted… yes we were!

Day #3

We woke up later on day #3 considering our long night out! Now, I was in need of some serious culture. Originally, we booked a shuttle with the hotel to take us to the Mayan Ruins, Tulum in their historic downtown. The note that was left under our hotel room door mentioned that our shuttle driver will be waiting for us in the front of the resort (yes, weird but we didn’t think too much about it). There was one van posted out front but on the opposite side of the highway. I yelled out “TULUM?” and the driver yelled back “TULUM!” and so that was about all the convincing I needed to confirm that was our ride. Eric and I boarded the van and realized a few moments later that… this is not a shuttle. In fact, it was a taxi service of some sort and I remember freaking out because I wasn’t sure I had enough cash (Pesos) to pay for our fair. I told Eric “Let’s get off the next stop and just walk back to the resort” and LUCKILY the next stop was historic downtown Tulum AND we had enough money to pay for out fair, entrance tickets to the ruins and enough for a fair back! Talk about really exploring like a local J

Day #4

Our last day at Tulum,  We had a flight to catch and did not have time to really do much more but explore the airport!

That concludes our 4 wonderful and exciting trip to Tulum, Mexico.

Travel: Taking Chances

Travel and taking chances goes hand in hand especially when it’s to a location you’ve never been before. I want to tell you about a moment I had when I was travelling to the Philippines and how it changed my life forever.

“Travel isn’t always pretty.
It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your conciseness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind”
-Anthony Bourdain

I remember visiting the Philippines when I was just a little girl and it really gave me the opportunity to see the world in a different perspective. I don’t remember much but I have a faded memory of a little boy coming up to everyone wearing ragged clothes and open palms begging in Tagalog for money. He made it around the whole Jeepney (bus transportation) before getting pulled off by the driver.  I had a heavy heart, honestly I still kind of do years later because I saw a boy that’s about my age and yet our lives were drastically different. I will always carry that memory in my heart as a reminder of how complex life can be. If there’s one thing I learned, it’s that we all have the opportunity to share our experiences with the world and hopefully impact a change that is so large; we will become the driving force of a new age.

Despite their circumstances, I also felt joy and happiness in these kids that I’ve never seen before. I’m not sure if it’s because they choose to see the brighter side
of the situation or they just don’t see themselves living a different life. The kids and even adults had a sense of joy and excitement in something as small as singing karaoke or rejoicing in celebration. I remember the lightheartedness, warmth and gratitude they have for being blessed with something just as simple as a new day.

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I was taken on these trips as a reminder of how good I have it. My mom wanted to show me how to be humble and appreciative of what I have and to remember where my family came from. We all live different lives and it’s important to dream of the life you want, strive in the harder times and reach for success; But most importantly never lose sight of where you are going. The beauty of traveling is learning about different cultures and enjoying the short moments you encounter by the locals. Let an uncomfortable situation teach you about the good that’s left in the world and be a part of accepting the differences in people.

 

My “go-to” hiking essentials

I’ve previously mentioned some of the essentials I take with me when I go hiking and I wanted to write a post about them in more detail. Here is a list of my go-to hiking gear:

1)Camelbak

A water bottle backpack that can hold up to 2 liters of liquid. I have the larger carrier because Eric and I share the water during our hikes. It has a drinking hose that runs around the pack and is clipped onto the handle of the bag. The back pack also includes plenty small storage areas for essential items.

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2)UE Roll

A speaker that I take on hikes because it is small and compact. The speak has a bungie cord so it easily attaches on to backpacks. The speaking is wireless and connects easier with my iPhone. Other features include: water proof, compatible with other UE speakers, maximum sound level and nine hours of battery life.

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3)Canon Rebel SL1

We always make sure to bring the camera on our hiking trips to take snapshots of each other and the scenery. I like this camera because it is lightweight and easy to use. We usually take nature pictures and this camera does an excellent job capturing the setting. I highly recommend this camera for a first time professional camera. The pictures come out sharp and high quality that you don’t even need to photo shop anything.
4)eno

The eno is a lightweight hammock we bring on our hikes. It’s perfect for us because it can hold two people and it is easy to set up. It’s breathable, quick drying material makes it a great way to cool off after a long hike. The hammock folds away into a little sack so it’s convenient enough to carry on the side of any backpack. We usually hang it either side on tree trunks and enjoy the breeze.
5)Apple Watch

I absolutely love my Apple Watch. I wear it every day and I especially make sure to wear it when I exercise or go hiking. It notifies me when I get a text, call, push notifications, it keeps track of how many steps I do through the day, how long I stand, the duration of my exercise and overall activity including calories burned. I have other exercise apps that reminds me to take a deep breath every couple times a day to regulate stress and I’m sure it does much more. I like to keep track of how active I’m staying throughout the day.

Hiking around North Georgia

Hiking is one of my favorite activities to do on a nice sunny day. It’s a good way to exercise, getting fresh air and the view is the absolute best part. Going through the list of all the hikes I’ve done here in Atlanta, I can’t seem to pick just one as my ultimate favorite.

If I want a good workout and a breathtaking view, I always hike the Pine Mountain trail. It is located up interstate 75 north bound on the Cartersville exit. The park is tucked away in a low key location so you really get that peaceful vibe you expect from a nature hike. The hike wraps around the mountain and is accessible only through the wilderness. It is one of the harder hikes because of the elevation, I’m not sure on the technical information such as the altitude but the closer you reach the summit the harder it is to catch your breath. Stay hydrated and bring lots of water, snacks and even a hammock. I use a Camelbak which is a water bottle backpack essentially. It can store up to 2 liters of water and it has enough storage room for essentials. We use an Emu (hammock) that holds two people and its completely portable and easy to set up.

Hint: when you come to the cross way, stay on the trail the leads to an incline. Stay on route to the summit and follow the same trail down to the parking lot. One day I plan on going to watch the sunrise, it would be the perfect the spot to enjoy a hot cup of coffee in the crisp morning air.

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I also enjoy going to the larger state parks like Stone Mountain, Kennesaw Mountain, Tallulah Gorge, Arabia Mountain, etc. Perfect spots to go with family and friends. They have sufficient spaces for larger groups and accessible pathways that are paved. I take all of my beginner hiking friends to these locations to help them get accustomed to nature trails.

Cloudland Canyon is another good larger state park that is located about 50 mins away from Kennesaw, GA. The trail includes two beautiful waterfalls and another spectacular view. The trail starts at the top of the mountain and leads to the waterfalls on a downward hike which mostly consists of stairs. Warning: take your time with this one, the stairs are see through and it might cause you to feel dizzy and uncoordinated. The park provides many benches to stop, take a break and catch your breath. One of the cooler things is being able to get really close to some of these waterfalls, however you might have to go off trail. Hint: Try to go a day after a rain storm because the waterfalls really blossom and run faster/stronger.

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I’m always searching for a new mountain, trail or park to explore. I enjoy learning about the history of the land and finding quirks that make the place special.