“We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.” –Jawaharial Nehru
I decided to create a blog to be able to share with friends and family my travel stories, photos and adventures in a central location. I have been travelling since the age of one and 1/2 (my mom, brother and I went to Washington DC, got stuck there due to a blizzard, got on and off the planes, etc etc! maybe that’s where my adaptabiliy comes from! ) I took many trips to US locations throughout my childhood, near (camping in Yosemite) and far (Disneyworld in Orlando Florida). My first trip out of the country was to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico when I was about 12 years old. In high school, I studied Spanish. My first Spanish teacher had lived in Spain and brought in food, photos, songs, and stories about her time there which intrigued me. I wanted to go!
The summer after I graduated high school, I embarked on my first overseas trip to Europe. At 19, I was able to see some of the amazing and awe-inspiring sights of Ireland, England, Wales, and France. I was hooked. As soon as I came back, I saved money working at a bookstore (taking lunch to work, not going out to eat, driving less and many other ways of saving money) for almost an entire year. Spain was beckoning. So I bought a ticket to Barcelona for a month. That was a life-changing trip. It was the first time I could lose myself in a country, really getting to see the day-to-day life. I fell in love with the carefree yet classy attitude that Spanish people have and the beautiful city of Barcelona. I was able to see most of Antoni Gaudi’s major architectural accomplishments, stayed in hostels for the first time (even a creepy one) traveled to Valencia and saw flamenco dancing and singing performed live as well as seeing the museum of sciences, saw Salvador Dali’s museum and home in Figueres and Cadaquez. I met so many fellow travelers like myself and enjoyed sharing new experiences with them, yet also enjoyed purposely getting lost in the city to find nooks and crannies, I might not have otherwise seen.
This past year and a half, I have been extremely fortunate to have traveled to 5 countries and a few US cities that I had never been to before or didn’t really know. I declared 2011 my year of travel, taking and making every opportunity I could to travel. I had graduated from college and the job market was (and still is) really tough. I was still working at a coffee shop job, not really happy with the position I was in my life. I reflected on on my position and decided that I wouldn’t mope around about not being hired and I might as well grasp the opportunity I had with not being settled down in a career and/or serious relationship and TRAVEL!
In January, a friend living in Tampa, Florida asked me if I would like to take a road trip with her to see the San Jose Sharks hockey team play in Miami the very next month (I think it was only 3 weeks away) in February. I said “WHY NOT?!” We had a blast, seeing the sights, road trippin’ down to Miami, running into the warm ocean water of the Atlantic, partyin’ it up, seeing many very tan and skinny people, eating Haitian food for the first time, meeting a Haitian artist who gave us a tour of his art studio, meeting hot Brazilian men 😉 and much much more!
In April, I went to Las Vegas to spend the weekend celebrating my birthday. I felt like a celebrity; my Aunt worked at the Cosmopolitan hotel (the newest on the strip) and got us a SUITE overlooking the Bellagio where we could see the fountain display about every 1/2 hour, she had a limo pick us up from the airport, got us reservations to one of their world-famous chef restaurant, Jaleo (Spanish tapas, my fave!) which was one of the best meals I’ve had in my life! I finally got to see a Cirque D’Soileii show as well! (Zumanity), we got a tour of the room service kitchen area, and we danced till we couldn’t dance anymore!
In May, I was invited to go to a friend’s cousin’s wedding in Los Angeles. I hadn’t really been to see any of LA despite living relatively close to it in the San Francisco Bay Area, so I drove myself down to LA, taking the scenic route on 101 stopping in San Louis Obisbo on the way. The wedding was beautiful. It was in a family member’s backyard, who was a landscaper, so the landscape was gorgeous, which a greenhouse filled with exotic flowers, a saltwater pool and even a peacock! We checked out the walk of fame, the Chinese theater, had lunch on Rodeo Drive, and drove around a bit.
In July, I was invited to go to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico with my dad’s side of the family. Prior years, I’d been invited, but let work take priority. This being my year of travel, I said yes! I brought my travel partner in crime and we ate amazing shrimp tacos, stayed out at a club dancing until 5am with new friends, then went back to the hotel and made friends with one of the employees who took us on a golf cart to watch the sun rise, we layed on the beach sipping cocktails, saw about 1 million iguanas, went ATVing in the sierras, toured a tequila distillery (with samples!) and all around relaxed and had an amazing time.
September was the big month! A friend I had met in San Francisco had moved back to his hometown of Cordoba, Argentina and had told me I should come visit and that I would love it. South America was always on my list of places to go as I have a strong calling to visit Spanish-speaking countries, and one of the items on my bucket list is to live in a foreign country. The more I thought about it, the more I thought I needed to be there for a good amount of time. I was a little nervous, but just sucked it up, asked my friend and he said YES! I could live in his apartment for THREE MONTHS!! I booked my ticket and on the first day of Spring in Argentina, I arrived! The next three months were filled with meeting all sorts of people, learning the Argentinian dialect, joining a language exchange group, being invited to the home of a new friend the first day I met her and participating in a family birthday party and baptism, ziplining and paragliding for the first time, cooking almost every night with my roommate, drinking lots of Yerba Mate Tea, getting used to Argentinian style partying (hardcore), hiking the Inka Trail to Machu Picchu with my travel partner in crime, going to the original cevicheria of my favorite cevicheria in San Francisco (La Mar in Lima, Peru), going to a drag queen show and seeing the aftermath of student protests for education in Santiago de Chile, trying foods I’d never had before (Argentinian blood sausage, anticuchos de corazon (beef heart skewers), Alpaca steak, and my favorite queso cremoso ), hosting a Thanksgiving and being the only American since it was my first Thanksgiving away from home, getting to see the magic of Peru, boating to the floating islands of Lago Titicaca and so much more! The time I spent in South America were some of the best moments of my life! I really got to know the culture and got a feel for what it was like to live in another country.
Once back in the States, I got the wanderlust bug again and planned a trip for Seattle, Washington and Vancouver, Canada with my friend who I had gone to Miami with the prior February (I’m feeling an annual trip with her!) We flew into Seattle and hit the ground running. We went to Pike’s Place Market (of course), saw the gum wall and original Starbucks. We attempted to take a ferry, but the weather was too bad, so we wandered the piers, my shoes got soaked in the rain, so I had to buy new ones and we met a hip-hop group and were invited to their performance that night. We rented a card, got a free upgrade to a Mustang(!) and drove through beautiful Northern Washington to Vancouver, which marked the 10th country I have visited! We got stopped at the border for over an hour, watched a hockey game on TV (Canadians are big on hockey!), I walked over a almost 50 meter suspension bridge & saw some beautiful waterfalls in Lynn Canyon Park, ate Poutine (fries topped with gravy and cheese curds – delicious!) went to a lovely Argentinian restaurant, I went to the top of the Space Needle, and then we were off home!
Traveling teaches me so much about life, other cultures, myself, what really matters, what I want out of life, and so much more. I know that I will be a traveler for my whole life. One of my goals is to travel to every continent at least once, and I am halfway there. I travel not to check items off a list but because of an internal urge to discover what is foreign to me. I have met some people who I feel are going to be life-long friends, people who I had such a strong connection to despite living drastically different lives from them. I feel very fortunate that I have been able to have these experiences and know that I will have many more, but I have also worked very hard to be able to travel. I hope this blog will serve as a space for my thoughts, travel journal, links and photos. You Only Live Once