I have been to Costa Rica more times than any other country in the world. Why? Because I love Costa Rica! I was just on the border in Panama and had to stop in Costa Rica and explore Puerto Viejo. This is a fantastic little beach and surfer town and it was a fantastic way to end my trip.
Let me start by saying that I am not a surfer. I have been on a board and surfed a few times but would never consider myself a surfer. The hostel has a surf outing everyday where they give you a board and drive you to a surf spot. We were dropped off and told to have fun! The waves were not that big but they were big enough to give me a hard time so I sort of stuck to riding the white water.
I don’t know about you but I think sloth’s are adorable and I wanted to take them all home! This little guy was on the side of the road just trying to cross the street. He was totally lost! Fun fact, a sloth only comes out of a tree about once a week to use the restroom. I must have spotted this guy just after his weekly constitutional. A local finally stopped and grabbed him and put him back in a tree. I would have not been mad if he decided to attach to my back and come home with me! If you want to learn more about sloths I suggest watching the new season of Planet Earth on Netflix.
This sloth was just enjoying eating the fruit out of the tree and I honestly sat and watched him for like 30 minutes. He was just so happy in the tree!
Everywhere in Costa Rica you will hear people say Pura Vida. It is really a way of life and can be used as “hello” or “goodbye” or just “what’s up?” It started raining while I was on a walk and I thought it was the best time to stop and buy a hat and keep my head warm. Plus I absolutely love the idea behind the saying.
The rain. The rain. The rain. There is rain and then there is rain in Costa Rica or anywhere tropical. It can be a beautiful and sunny day and out of nowhere an incredible amount of rain dumps from the sky. Usually the rain only lasts about 20-30 minutes and you can move on with your day. This was not the case on this day and I was stuck at Tasty Waves for a few hours eating delicious tacos and drinking some beers.
Signage in the bathroom
Costa Rica has so much to offer and I only touched on a tiny part of you but you can go zip lining, white water rafting, hike a volcano, trek through the rainforest, rescue sea turtles and so so so much more! This absolutely will not be my last trip to this country!
Last time I was in Budapest was a few years ago and I was sick and didn’t really get to experience much. The ticket from Milan to Budapest was only about $11 so I figured why not give it another shot and see what the city really has to offer.
Every airport is different and unique and some are pretty awful. Milan had a wonderful airport with delicious food. A glass of vino and a delicious baguette and I was one happy camper and ready for my flight!
Much like when I stopped at the Four Seasons in Paris, I took myself on a little tour of the Four Seasons Budapest. The brand is known for their flower arrangements in the lobby and while this one was not as grandiose as Paris, I found the simplicity to be quite lovely.
Budapest is full of amazing architecture and history. The Bookcafe is no exception to this. Hidden inside an actual bookstore, the cafe is full of incredible details and a ton of gold. It just so happens that this can be found on the way to one of the thermal baths as well and makes for a perfect stop prior to a day of lounging.
Budapest sites over multiple natural thermal springs. The bathhouses are a common activity for locals and a tradition that has spanned ages. I chose to go to one of the more touristy ones since it had a gorgeous outdoor warm pool. The sun was shining and it was a beautiful day to be here. Some of the bath houses have different days for men and women but this one is always open to all. The pools range from ice cold to about hot tub level and the entrance allows you to stay all day! This really was a great experience and a must see in Budapest.
I often forget to take pictures and show or explain what hostel life is like. The hostel in Budapest was very cozy and small which is exactly what I was looking for. Hostels are where you can meet new people and create memories with total strangers without thinking about cultural differences or age. The picture above had people age 21-32 and from Israel, Brazil, Sweden and the states. The one thing that bonded us together was our love for travel!
Porto was always on my list of the must visit places in Portugal. Before looking at a map I actually thought Porto was where Lisbon is and visa versa for no particular reason except I had never looked closely at a map of Portugal. This just goes to show you how much I actually know about geography. The city is incredibly hilly and you better be prepared to walk a lot to get anywhere but so worth it!
The Douro River flows along the coast of the city and eventually leads to the beach. There are these lovely little boat tours that tell you all about the history of the 6 bridges in Porto which they are very proud of. I was a little more focused on the view rather than listening to the history. It is a great way to see the city from a birds eye view.
I spent most of my time walking around and just exploring the city including an entire day of port tasting which you can read about here.
Porto is an absolutely gorgeous town with spectacular and an amazing history. Sadly, this was the end of my time in Portugal but I fully intend to come back for a longer visit.
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!
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.
When most people think of Amsterdam they immediately think of the legalized drugs and the Red Light District. I went because I heard it was a beautiful city with amazing architecture and entertaining people. While traveling in Peru in March I met Dutch guy that threw out the offer of something like, “If you are ever in the Netherlands, let me show you around.” I took him up on that offer and was able to crash on his couch in Haarlem which is a city a short distance outside of Amsterdam.
Going through a city with a local is much different than site seeing and exploring on your own and just following the recommendations of the hostel. I was able to spend the days exploring the city on my own and the evenings being taken out to cool restaurants and bars!
Monet was inspired by this bridge and church to paint The Haarlem Lock in 1664,
This bar was purposely meant to feel very old. ‘t’Dokterje
There are many flavors of home brewed liquors to try at Wynard Fockink
Since I was staying in Haarlem I decided to spend a day exploring the city to see what was around. It was a lot more local and less touristy and according to my friend, what I should expect from a typical Dutch city.
Cathedral of Saint Bavo
And of course, some random street art around Amsterdam.
When I went to Greece last year and went to Santorini, I found it to be quintessential Greece. It is everything you think of when you think of Greece; blue and white!
My friend and I ended up staying at this great hostel/hotel just a 3minute drive outside of town called Caveland. This was an old winery converted into a hostel. Our little room ended up being an old wine cave and was fantastic!
There were plenty of little nooks and crannies that made this place so amazing and actually pretty hard to leave to go adventure.
Even though it was hard to leave the hostel, there is plenty to do in Santorini including going to watch the sunset in Oia. When you see a picture of Greece or think of the buildings, you are usually looking at Oia.
One of the other days we decided to take a little tour to the volcano that started it all and created the Santorini you see today. The volcano is still active but currently lying dormant. Walking around you could see the steam coming out of the hill where the water was being super heated from the activity. Today, it is a geological research site that constantly collects data. Amazing to think that the little island we think of as Santorini was much much bigger and currently lies under the sea!
I’m pretty sure I could revisit Santorini every year and be a very happy person!
I went to Athens last year and did all of the touristy stuff so when I went again this year I took the time to relax and do laundry and regroup. What I didn’t know when I booked the trip is that I would be there smack dab in the middle of a huge financial crisis and a huge decision for the Greek economy.
Basically, Greece is in a TON of debt (€323 billion). You read that right…€323 billion!! They are in desperate need of a bailout to save their economy and an emergency referendum was called and I was there during the vote!!! They voted no which is what they thought they wanted and took to the streets to celebrate. Basically no meant they did not agree to the terms of the bailout proposed.
Needless to say, the media sensationalized a lot of what was happening. Yes, the banks shut down and limited locals to only withdraw €60/day but tourists were not restricted. The biggest help to the economy is to travel to Greece and spend your money!
I went to Corfu because when I was in Saranda, Albania last year I had wanted to go but couldn’t enter the Schengen again. This is a very large island in the Greek Islands and I was not sure what to expect. I was traveling with a friend and we stayed at a place called the Pink Palace. I’m not sure what I expected but it was about 20 minutes from the main town and basically its own secluded little resort. I was able to relax and swim on the beach and have a good time. The hostel itself served an amazing breakfast and dinner that was included in the price but the party atmosphere was a little much for my taste. I would like to say that I went to the city center or experienced something but I just walked around the little town by the hostel and relaxed. Sometimes traveling is all about the relaxation and I took full advantage of that.
The Yellow is a hostel that I worked at for 6 weeks last year where I met a ton of people. Some people I randomly saw again and others I made a point to meet up with again and then there were those I just never got to know. But there was a specific group of people that bonded and decided to have a reunion almost exactly a year later. We spent 4 days together catching up and loving life. But what’s even better, we really never left the hostel. Travel is about the people and the connections and the friendships and not always about the city. Besides, I’ve already seen Rome!