It Seemed Like a Good Idea…

I was heading to Maui and looked at a map and thought to myself, Maui is on the way to Asia, let’s find some good airfare. Good airfare was found but the route was out of hand! Note to self, check the route prior to purchasing the ticket.

After a glorious 8 days in Maui I jumped on a flight to Hong Kong, via Los Angeles. You read that right. I had to fly back to mainland US to just turn around and fly for 15 hours to Hong Kong! After about 28 hours of total travel time from leaving the hotel to landing, I finally made it! A smart person would have decided to look at a flight from Maui to Oahu and then to Hong Kong. Lesson learned…

Luckily my friend from college lives in Hong Kong and picked me up to the airport and swooped me off to her place where I quickly unpacked, brushed my teeth and showered. What’s the best way to best jet lag? Stay awake! Off to dim sum we went! Having a local to find a place and also order made everything incredibly easy!

One would think after such a long day of travel I would just hunker down and go to sleep. Not this girl! We jumped on a ferry to head on a mini vacation to Macau. The ferry is only an hour ride from Hong Kong and it is the perfect mini vacation! Don’t forget your passport because it is needed to go through immigration.

Macau is like a mini Las Vegas but we treated it as a place for culinary indulgence and time to see a show. We checked into the Broadway Hotel and wandered the streets in search of food. We ended up at a cute outside dining area in food alley for some hot pot which is always a winner. There ended up being a little mini Christmas parade that went past our table which provided a little live entertainment.

With food in the tummies and the jet lag really kicking it, it was time to go to bed. I made it until about 10pm but as soon as my head hit the pillow, I was out! I didn’t even say goodnight to my friend! There is always tomorrow…

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Driving From Agra to Ranthambhore

After the come down of excitement from seeing the Taj Mahal, I was completely happy and not expecting anything else from the trip and just going with the flow. We got on the bus for the 7 hour journey from Agra to Ranthambhore which I was not looking forward to as I had already finished the book I brought with me. I still travel with actual books because I love that you can just leave them anywhere with a little note and pass it on. The downside, books are heavy and I am limited in the amount I can carry.

A few minutes into the ride our tour guide tells us to always double check that our luggage makes it onto the bus because his was lost. We continue driving for a few minutes and he gets a call that his luggage has been found and someone would bring it to him. We pull over on the side of the road at a local morning market and we are able to get out and explore. Finally we were able to interact with some locals and see what India is really like instead of sitting in the comfort of our bus or hotel as part of a huge tour group.


The market is like a wholesale fruit and veggie market. The street vendors come here in the morning to buy what they need and then sell it at a small profit to everyone else.

The women of the household usually stay home and take care of the house including all the shopping. The vendors will go door to door and sell their produce and the women will yell what they need from their balcony or a window and then negotiate from there. Negotiating is a way of life and 100% expected! When the negotiation is complete, they will ask where their green chilis are? Apparently, those are expected to be thrown in for free! Once all is settled, the groceries are brought up and the vendors move on.

Back on the road again and our next stop was at Abhaneri, known as The ‘Eastern Gateway to Rajasthan’. Founded in 1733 AD, it was once an impregnable well-fortified city, carved out of the region formerly known as Mewat.

We walked around the amazing Chand Baori (Stepwell). Built back in the 10th century, the incredible well of Chand Baori was a practical solution to the water problem in the area. The arid climate forced the locals to dig deep for a dependable water source, one that would last throughout an entire year. The Chand Baori is 30m deep, has 13 floors and 3,500 steps. So many people would gather here to collect water, that any message that needed to be spread would be announced here. It was the perfect news forum!

Goats all over the road. Goats everywhere! I have never seen goats with long ears like this and I just thought they were the cutest things ever (aside from my little squirrels).

We arrived at our hotel and realized that our tour group was taking over the entire thing! The hotel had a dinner buffet ready to go when we arrived with absolutely amazing food! The call time to be ready for the morning was 5:30am so even though we spent most of the day on the bus, it was time for bed! I think it’s amazing how you can be exhausted from sitting on a bus, but I was.

The Last Bit of Barcelona

Barcelona really is one of the cities where you could spend a month in and still not experience everything. However, after a few days in the city it was time to move on to the next stop of Valencia.

The downside to staying in a hotel is the lack of a kitchen or anywhere to really cook. My mom and I often get pretty creative to make due with what is in the room to create a masterpiece of culinary decadence!

Of course there is no way I can travel without spotting street art and taking pictures. All of this was located in the Gothic Quarter. We went to this area to visit the Picasso Museum where I realized I preferred his modern work more than his early to blue period work.


Sometimes I forget to take pictures of the people I am traveling with since I am usually caught up with the art and architecture and the selfie! But this part of the trip I am with my parents who can be just as silly as me!

Barcelona was an absolute treat. I was able to spend few days of exploring museums and eating delicious food. We head to Valencia next and then to the island of Mallorca before concluding our Spain travels in Sevilla.



Let’s go to Europe

Europe…a continent consisting of 50 countries with about 225 different languages and 28 different currencies. Where do I even start planning? How do I decide where I am going? These are questions I ask once I decide that I am heading to Europe again.

This trip started with a plan to meet some family friends in Valencia and grew from there based on the pricing for return airfare on Virgin Atlantic from London.


Once all was settled, I had 46 days to plan and pack for. My luggage is just over 10 kilos and considered a carry on for most flights. I have a lot of basic black and my favorite design of strips.

Without fail, I always travel with some sort of hat and a cross body purse with a chain to help avoid the scam where someone slits through your purse strap so it falls to the ground. Packed and ready to go it was off to the airport!


I am usually a very budget traveler but my parents are treating me to the first few weeks of this trip and we ended up with upper class (first class) seats on Virgin. This gave us access to the club lounge before the flight and made the ease of starting the trip very very easy!


The flight was amazing! The food was actually quite good and there was a bar in the cabin. Yes, you read that correctly. The seats folded down to full beds to make the 10+ hour journey pretty simple.


We flew to London and then jumped on a British Airways flight to Barcelona and finally arrived to the hotel! I used my best friend Seth from aXcess Travel to help with the hotel accommodation as well as the airfare.

Europe is not very keen on having three adults in a room and instead of risking anything on booking.com or another site, we are guaranteed to have no issues upon arrival with Seth. Plus we received a welcome amenity and daily breakfast for two and a food and beverage credit all for the same price the other websites were showing! It really is a no brainer most of the time!

Stay tuned for more updates as I gallivant around Europe.

Santorini for the second time

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!

House of Jasmines

I have been staying in hostels and more hostels and then more hostels. When my parents came to meet me, there were no more hostels. In Salta we stayed at this gem about 30 minutes outside of the City Center called House of Jasmines.

House of Jasmines was a house built by Robert Duvall and then bought and turned into a wonderful 14 room resort on over 200 acres. There are mountain bikes available to ride around the property and horses that roam freely. An amazing spread for breakfast with fresh fruit and juice and endless coffee. The pool is in a location that allows sun to be on it all day!

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We had a lovely suite and I had my own cute little bed and room.

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There was time for pool side relaxing, frolicking in the grass, strolling around the property and even making a miniature spa station in the bathroom.

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Overall, it was an amazing and relaxing 5 days and a perfect resting point for returning home after long day trips.

Bern baby Bern

My parents left me on May 1 and my adventure of backpacking officially started. I looked at a map of Europe and found a city and decided to go there and that is how I ended up in Bern, Switzerland. Bern is the capital of Switzerland and has a great walking promenade full of stores and restaurants. I did a little window shopping and even stopped in McDonalds to check out their menu. They have a hamburger royal here! I thought that was only in the movies!

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I went the other way and ventured to the Rose Garden. The roses were not in bloom yet but the view was absolutely spectacular!

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I have been staying at this great little hotel/hostel called Hotel Landhaus. It is a combo of a 6 person dorm separated into 3 private sections to provide some privacy and a hotel on the next few floors. Luckily, it is located across from the bear park which I have visited twice! I thought the bears were absolutely adorable and playful.

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Living the hostel life means a towel is not always provided for the showers. I bought a PackTowl and used it while at this hostel and it is AMAZING. It folds into a very tiny little square and basically dries instantly. For anyone traveling or camping or even needing something quick for a beach day, I would say this is the way to go! I found mine on Amazon in a pretty little blue color.