Five Days of Sailing? Why Not?

I was talking to a friend about traveling to Panama from Colombia and he said, “why don’t you sail here?” At first I thought he was crazy and then I actually looked into it and it seemed like the thing to do. So, I set off on a 43′ sailboat with 9 strangers and 3 crew from Cartagena to Panama City and I had the time of my life!

After what seemed like hours of research but was actually about 15 minutes, I decided to book my boat through Blue Sailing. They have tons of boats leaving throughout the week and were very easy to book with. I shot off an email with a few of the dates I was looking at and asked for a boat that was not usually the party boat. I ended up on Big Fish 2 with Captain Eliecer otherwise known as Capi or Original and 6 Dutch and 3 Germans.

We had a departure time of 8pm but didn’t actually leave until about 11pm or so as we were waiting on the captain. Right away I learned that we were all going to have to be very flexible with each other on this trip. Our luggage and shoes were collected and put in storage under the boat and only our little backpacks were allowed on board.

The trip includes all meals and water but any snacks or other beverages have to be brought on board. I decided a bottle of rum was the appropriate drink for my trip across the Caribbean.

Anyhow, the trip from Cartagena to San Blas (the gorgeous islands this trip is all about) is about 30-36 hours at open sea which means no getting off the boat. No showers. No hanging out on top of the boat. Just sitting around and taking in the open seas. I was lucky enough not to get sea sick and we had really good weather and pretty easy sailing. I can’t say that everyone felt as good as I did.

As soon as we were allowed to jump in the water, I was off the boat! I was able to shower (just means getting in the ocean and being rinsed with fresh water when you get back on the boat) and take in the beauty of what I would see for the next three days. The water is so clear and so calm so most of us swam to this little island. The captain paid our fee in leftover food and we spent the day lounging in paradise!

That is our boat in the distance. A fairly easy swim and after being on the boat for 30+ hours, it felt AMAZING to swim!

Most of the islands have a name and a family that live on them. They make their money selling beers and coconuts to the tourists and also exporting the coconuts.

This island is considered to have the “swimming pool” and the beach is shallow and calm and you can just sit in it forever. After a day of snorkeling and around the reef and three jelly fish stings, this was the perfect way to wind down and relax. They happen to sell Miller Lite which I thought was hilarious since I wold never drink this in the states. But, gotta support the local community!

The pictures just don’t do it justice for how clear and beautiful the water was. The only downfall was the amount of trash that would wash up or the trash that was stuck in the algae around the reef. This is a HUGE problem and really shows the importance of finding sustainable solutions to water bottles, straws, plastic bags, disposable cutlery and all other things that should be recycled. Okay, I will step off my soap box now.

Part of sailing is attempting to fish. Although we failed, we were able to buy some lobster from a local and actually have a bbq on one of the islands. Fresh lobster means fresh killing. The little guy in the video I named Eduardo and his sacrifice was greatly appreciated. Our captain had to ask the chief of the island for permission and we paid in some food and drinks and had a great night!

Finally it was time to go through customs and officially enter Panama. Once inside this little building I really started to understand what I was going to feel like on land after being at sea for 5 days.

This was such a magical and amazing experience and I cannot wait for my next adventure!

Cartagena!

I was in Cartagena a few times throughout my trip to Colombia and each experience was totally different from another. We decided to spend the days leading up to New Years Eve as well as New Years eve in Cartagena. We went in with zero expectations and no plans!

Our original hotel cancelled our reservation the day before we were going to arrive! Best believe that we scrambled to find something that was not completely overpriced since it was New Years Eve! After about 15 minutes of seeing what was available, this new hotel called Hotel D Beach popped up on the screen and we decided to book it. We were a little confused when we arrived because it looked like the building was still under construction. Turns out, the hotel opened the day we arrived and we were one of very few rooms that were staying there! We were upgraded to a suite and set out to live our life of luxury for the next few nights.

Let’s be honest. After spending 6 days on some islands at the beach, we spent most of our time in this amazing pool overlooking the ocean. There were no complaints from me!

The advantage of our location was that right next door was a restaurant with typical Colombian food. As much as we walked around to find other places to eat, we always seemed to find ourselves here. Good food and good wine!

New Years Eve was spent sitting at the pool and watching the fireworks over the ocean. I also decided to strip down to my skivvies and jump in the pool just after midnight! I thought it was a great way to start the New Year. The rest of the night was spent sitting with a family and trying to speak Spanish as only one girl spoke English. All and all, it was a fantastic night!

After some adventures to Medellin and Bogota with I will write about later, I had one more night in Cartagena before I set off to sail to Panama. This time I stayed in the old town and was on my own for the first time on the trip. I wandered the streets and came across some live music that was absolutely fantastic! The energy of the city is pretty amazing and the streets are exactly what I think of when I think about Colombia. If I ever come back to Cartagena, I will absolutely stay in the old town.

My Unplanned Stop in Aveiro

The number one best thing about traveling is meeting new people. My new friend Danielle had heard about this little town called Aveiro from someone working at the hostel. This just happens to be on the way to Porto and so I left Lisbon a day early and planned to arrive in Porto a day late to visit this place.

No train ride is complete without some entertainment and refreshments. We had a book and an adult coloring book for the 3 hour train ride from Lisbon to Aveiro. What else does one need?

Aveiro is a very small place and the main area is walkable within about 15 minutes so there actually isn’t that much to do. The view from the hostel was these adorable little houses full of tiled detail. Basically, when I think of Portugal this is what I think of.

Aveiro is said to be the Venice of Portugal so naturally we had to go on a boat tour and see what the city was all about. We specifically asked for a tour in English and somehow ended up on a tour in Spanish. I learned that this quaint little town is known for fishing and salt and is actually a huge port town.

I always find it interesting to learn about a place that is so important to a a certain part of the world that I had no idea about.

The tiles on the houses all have different details. The blue tile is a very common theme throughout all of Portugal and it just so happened that my headband matched the pattern. I have to have a little fun while I’m traveling right?

Since the town is quite small, we took a day trip to a beach town about 20 minutes outside of town call Costa Nova. The houses are all painted with individual stripes because it was said that the supply of paint was so limited that each plank was painted a different color just in case.

The beach was incredibly windy but we found a little cove to relax in and enjoy the sounds of the ocean. This entire little place can be done as a day trip from Porto but I was very happy to spend the night and enjoy this area and I think it is a must see!

Country Number 42…Portugal!

It seems that my last trip through Europe was repeating places I have already been to meet up with people or visit friends. This time is not too much different except I finally made it to a new country…PORTUGAL!

I did not do much research about where I was heading and was pleasantly surprised when I arrived in Lisbon. I walked through the city late at night to my hostel and immediately felt like I was in a great city and going to have a great time.



One of the best things about traveling is meeting new people and just wandering around discovering things. I met a girl at the hostel and she planned an outing for us to go to a rooftop bar for sunset. Before I knew it, there was a group of us from around the world enjoying drinks and getting to know each other with a beautiful view of Lisbon!

Part of learning about a culture is eating the local food. I went to a market that was full of multiple booths of tons of seafood and other cuisines. I started my evening off with some oysters and then moved on to some chicken curry with a glass of rosé. A few hours were spent enjoying a good meal and relaxing in this great environment.

The last day in Lisbon I took a ferry across the way and went to another little city called Costa de Caparica to hang at the beach and relax. As we were heading back we stopped at a local seafood place for some delicious mussels, crab and shrimp. The food was incredibly fresh and absolutely delicious!

Lisbon did not let me know and I am looking forward to exploring some more of the country in the next few days.

Maresias vs Floripa

There are amazing beaches all along the coast of Brazil. Brazil is the 5th largest country in the world so you can imagine that spending a month in the country is not nearly enough to cover it. However, I went to two different beaches in two different states and enjoyed them both.

First I went to Maresias in the state of São Paulo. The beach is about 4 hours from the city of São Paulo and a destination for a lot of Brazilians. Almost no one spoke English and there was not another backpacker at my hostel. I loved every second of it!

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Next up was Florianopolis. This beach is in the state of Santa Catarina and very touristy. The town is much larger and great for night life and very different from Maresias. I personally enjoyed Maresias much more!

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My hostel in Floripa had flags from around the world and in that was a flag from California! I thought it was funny that the USA was being represented by just Cali. 🙂

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My hostel in Maresias had a bit of a sense of humor.

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Needless to say, I spent more than a few days in the sun.

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I went to the beach…in Rome

One of the best parts about Rome, is that you can walk around the city and find good food almost anywhere. We went for a little stroll and stumbled upon Taverna Barberini. Any time I see a Trip Advisor symbol on a door, I can usually assume the food will be pretty decent. We ordered the Antipasto which was enough to feed a small army, and then I had a pasta that was similar to carbonara but with some peas and other additions. I was in absolute food heaven!

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On the way back, I came across some random fountains that absolutely amazed me. I have no idea what they are or what they represent, but I thought they were great.

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The next day, I took myself on an adventure to the closest beach in Rome called Ostia Lido. It was nice to get out of the city and just relax. It was about a 40 minute ride by metro and then train and absolutely worth it!

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I have been missing home cooked food but luckily, I met someone at the hostel that got an apartment. We also happened to meet a chef who was traveling and willing to cook for us. We had a cheese plate and three different prosciuttos and then the best bruschetta I have ever had in my life, followed by a delicious pasta. Four cheeses, 4 bottles of wine and 3 different prosciuttos was only $51.00! That would cost me about $150.oo in the states. I love this country.

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