How I Spent Christmas 2017

There tends to be a lot of pressure that happens around the holidays to attend every party and try to see all one’s friends and family. I personally don’t feel that pressure and chose to spend Christmas Eve and Christmas on an island in Colombia.

After our boat adventure and arrival to Isla Grande, we weren’t quite sure what we were in for. It turns out we had three days of delicious meals being cooked for us and ultimate relaxation in our room and at the pool or beach. This is the type of place where you go to bed shortly after sunset and wake up with the sunrise and it feels amazing!

The first day was truly a day of relaxing but we opted for some snorkeling the next day. The islands are surrounded by a huge coral reef and I was hoping to see a turtle (no luck). I did however step on a dead piece of coral as I was getting out of the ocean and have a nice puncture on the bottom of my foot. That stuff is no joke!

Christmas Eve dinner was served family style with the other 12 people staying at the hotel. They even splurged and brought us champagne (Andre Rosé and it was awful) but I know it’s the thought that counts.

Christmas Day was a repeat of the day before laying buy the pool and reading and relaxing. It was absolute perfection and made me so happy!

It was finally time to leave after 3 days in paradise but never fear, we are off to experience another island for another 3 days!

The Journey to Rosario Islands

There is only one way to get to Isla Grande from Cartagena and that is by boat! You can reach the island of Baru by bus but you would still have to take a boat to Isla Grande. We ventured down to the port to buy our ticket for 40,000 COP with a 15,500 COP park tax (total $18.77 USD). There are tons of people trying to sell you tickets on the street but official booths line the path and that is the best place to buy the ticket to ensure the best pricing. All the boats leave by 10:30am so get there early unless you want to pay for a private speed boat. Be warned, these rides are not for the faint of heart as they fly through the water and throw you around a bit. Anyhow, after being told our boat would leave around 8:30 or 9:00, we were finally packed onto and ready for our hour boat ride!

Our boat was driving a little funny and making some weird noises but I didn’t think anything of since this is what they do for a living daily. I was wrong! The engine was failing and we had to slowly make our way to a random island and disembark and wait for two other boats to come and get us. No one cared and we just laid under the cabanas and others splashed around in the ocean. There are worse places to be stuck.

Once we finally arrived to our hotel it was like arriving to paradise! They only have 8-10 rooms (can’t quite figure it out) and the room rate includes all meals! Many people make the trip for the day so from 10-3 the place is packed but other than that, it’s like a ghost town. Absolute perfection!

For the next three days I will be on this island relaxing and through Christmas Eve and Christmas.

Back to Colombia

First off, recovering from 16 hours of jet lag is no joke! I landed on Thursday morning and had to unpack and do laundry and repack to catch a flight on Saturday to LA and spend an early anniversary with my boyfriend! But you can’t keep me in the country for long when I have the travel bug and on Wednesday, I took off for Colombia still unsure of which time zone I was sleeping in!

I have only been to Bogota in Colombia so this time I am meeting a friend to celebrate the holidays and traveling to Cartagena, Rosario Islands, Medellin and Bogota. It all started with two days in Cartagena to try to normalize my sleep and acclimate to the blistering heat!

I was very lucky to land in Cartagena and have an early checkin to my hotel. I had almost no sleep on the overnight flight and was in need of a shower! I met up with my friend Lisa from Manchester who I met in Rome (this is why I travel) and grabbed a bite to eat and headed back to the room to take a nap. My nap turned into almost 10 hours of sleep where I then was awake from 11pm-5am to wake up again around 8:30am. Once again, lovely jet lag.

Attempting to see a bit more of Cartagena than the inside of my hotel room, we decided to explore the inside of the walled city. Finally, I started to feel like I was in Colombia! We have 4 days in Cartagena over the new year so there will be a lot more in depth exploring, but it was nice to get a feel for the city before our next adventure!

Some Down Time in Hong Kong

It was time for me to adventure out in my own since Leslie had to go to work. I decided to take the day and head to Kowloon and conquer the Ladies Market. I had a friend that requested a few items and I took my negotiation skills and pictures to the market to find some purses and belts!

The market was not nearly as overwhelming as Beijing or Shanghai but walking through the streets, a constant comment of “copy bag or copy sunglasses” was whispered under hushed breath breath. I was looking at some sunglasses just because I thought they were cute and the guy asked to see my Jimmy Choos I was wearing and told me he had a copy. I pointed and said “these are real” and walked away.

Having had my adventure and also just wandering the streets, I relaxed a little bit back at the house before heading to dinner at Oola Petite. This is another local spot for Leslie and we opted to order some fajitas. With all the various cuisines I was consuming, why not throw some Mexican in there?

The next day Leslie had to work again and I was just plain old tired. I took the day to Netflix and chill. When Leslie got off work, we went to dinner for bottomless sushi! It would seem my last few days were focused on food which is absolutely okay with me!

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…

Maui!

Where does one start after 8 days in Maui? With a story I guess. A few years ago (20) I met some amazing girls in high school. 20 years later we are still friends and decided on a girls trip to Maui. A few years ago (3) I met this girl in Rome. We became friends and I decided to visit her in Maui before my girls trip. That is how I ended up in Maui for 8 days!

This will mostly be a picture diary of some amazing experiences because what better way to show off a beautiful place?? Landing in Maui I was scooped up from the airport and whisked off to a kegs and eggs house party. From there, Kimmy (my friend from Rome) took me on adventure after adventure after adventure! There is nothing like hanging with a local to really get to know a place.

The favorite local hangout is Down The Hatch where Monday is trivia night and every other night is just a night for some company and good drinks. If you win trivia night, you win lots of coupons towards food or drinks. Don’t try to beat Kimmy, she always wins. Aside from that, we ate breakfast at Longhi’s almost every morning, had happy hour at Spanky’s and had ocean front dining at Koa’s. The best part of being with a local is the 10% discount on basically everything!

It’s not all about the nightlife so off on a road trip we went. The idea was to end with snorkeling but the water was super choppy and murky which meant danger! Instead I was able to see the blow hole, walk through a rainforest, see some flamingos and penguins and have a drink in a cave. Not a bad way to spend the day when you can’t get in the water.

Still having not set foot in the ocean we were off on another adventure the next day on the Road to Hana. Well, the weather decided against that for us and we turned around and stopped at ho’okipa where I finally got to swim! The ocean was relentless and took me down and I have a bruise to show it! Regardless, I was happy to frolic around for a bit.

The next day my other friends were flying in and it was time to switch gears. We stayed at the Fairmont so I went from Lahaina to Wailea and from being a local to a tourist. One has to switch it up sometimes! The next few days were spent lounging by the pool chatting and giggling and going out to dinner. We had J Rosé and yummy blended drinks to keep us going! We went down the water slide and made new friends in the pool. We strolled the path past all the other hotels and enjoyed just hanging out. I even finally got in some snorkeling!

Sadly it was time to go home. The ladies went one way while I started off on another adventure.

London for the Millionth Time

Jumping across the pond tends to be easier to do in/out of London. There are so many flights and then all of Europe is open to explore!

It seems that every time I travel I meet about 4,000 new people that live in London. I had plans for a few nights but I wanted to spend a little time on my own to get everything ready to fly home and explore.


The beauty of having no plans is the ability to do something spontaneous. There were some last minute tickets available for Kinky Boots and so I took myself on a little date. I was able to get a half price ticket for a pretty good seat.


One of my friends from my travel family found a free alternative walking tour which had a ton of street art and graffiti. The tour guide was full of interesting and fun facts about London based on street art. I highly suggest this tour.

Located on Fournier St. by Shok 1

By artist Stik

Crane by Roa

Artist Bolt

Paste up by Pyramid

Street art can be found anywhere

Artist Citizen Kane

Artist Ben Eine

Artist Noriaki Noriaki

One of my favorite things is getting people together from around the world. I met up with some friends for dinner with people I met in Plovdiv, Bern, and Rome and introduced them all to each other because they all now live in London. It was an awesome way to end 46 days of traveling!

Read about my other trips to London here and here and here and here and here and here.

Mallorca = Perfection

Many people are fully aware of the island of Ibiza and all it has to offer. For those who don’t want $30 cocktails and crazy parties, there are the islands of Mallorca and Menorca that offer a calm and relaxing seaside environment.

The sunsets were truly amazing and not something that should be missed. I took so many pictures and it was hard to try to capture exactly what I was seeing but there are few below that show the awesomeness!

Don’t worry, I used water to capture this “wine” picture.


Palma de Mallorca is the main center for the island. We were staying about 20 minutes outside of this area in a gorgeous Airbnb but thought a day in town would be great. We ended up going to lunch for some tapas and browsing the zillion stores! This little bull caught my eye and I thought he was pretty sexy.

As always, my mom is one of my awesome travel partners in crime and we always have a great time together!

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.



Barcelona is all about Gaudi

There is no way you can visit Barcelona and not visit a few of Gaudi’s architectural wonders.

I visited Casa Mila for my second time and you can see what I thought of it last time here. This time I listened to the guided tour a little bit more and just took in everything with a fresh eye. I found that I wanted to take pictures of the exact same things that caught my eye last time. At least I know I am consistent in what I like.

Shards of glass are used to decorate the top of these chimneys


The same building from two sides. Gaudi used the sun to create natural light throughout the entire house.


Stop number two was at Casa Batllo where the exploration of the intricate lines of Gaudi is possible. The connection and inspiration from nature is visible in nearly every detail constructed. Gaudi was thoughtful in his process and understood the mathematics behind architecture in order to bring his ideas to fruition in an absolutely beautiful way.

Oak banister with a background of beveled glass made to look like water


The catenary arch


The staircase and banister all have soft edges to follow the curves of nature


Everything had a purpose in Gaudi’s world


Gaudi loved to use a lot of color and different materials


The light and ceiling are inspired from skeletons and shell patterns of animals 

La Sagrada Familia may be the most quintessential and finest work from Gaudi and he only lived to see 1/4 of it completed. Casa Mila and Casa Batllo were like practice places for the ideas and forms he would implement into the basilica. Gaudi left behind intricate details to his disciples on how the project should be completed which should be in 2026; 100 years after his death. There are not enough words to describe the beauty of la Sagrada Familia so I will let the pictures do the talking.

My parents at the entrance


Me at the entrance


Side view


Loosely translated to Thanksgiving day


The original Gothic side of the Basilica constructed in 1882


An example of the contrast of different materials together to create a beautiful contrast


Stained glass windows are placed throughout the basilica to create amazing colors!


Cool colors used on one side of the basilica


The pillars are like trees with different branches. They are made of different materials to help support different weights throughout the basilica.


Warm colors used on the other side of the basilica


There is a different detail everywhere you look


Contrasting materials and line


Statues are carved all around. Many are a depiction of Jesus from various parts of his life.


Truly the only thing I can say is that if you are heading to Barcelona, you HAVE to visit la Sagrada Familia!