To Travel Without Anxiety . . . If Only

In less than a couple months, I will be going on my first solo trip. First solo trip. Ever. Of course, I’ve flown by myself before domestically, but I’ve had friends and family waiting for me at my destination. Not so this time. I will be crossing the pond, flying internationally by myself. If you’ve read my other posts, you know that I have traveled internationally before, but I’ve had my husband with me. So this time is really different.
I will be going to a place I’ve always dreamed of since I was a little girl. Italy! I find myself constantly daydreaming about my future adventure and sometimes the excitement is so high it almost makes my chest hurt!

 
But, at the same time, there are days when I start REALLY thinking about this solo journey. I think about all the logistics. The step by step process of getting from my house to the long plane rides to reaching my final destination. I start thinking of everything, all the details, and then all of the “what if’s”. I soon find myself overwhelmed with a thing called anxiety. And there are days when I say out loud, “I can’t do this. What am I thinking?” And then I say to myself, “I’m just going to have to cancel the trip.” And I feel defeated before the adventure has even begun. It’s in those moments that I don’t have the confidence in myself that I CAN do this. Doubt and worry, oh my, they can really mess with us and interfere with our lives…steal our peace and happiness. Oh yeah, and fear. That’s a big one that I feel like I wrestle with a lot.

 
I am being honest here…I am not sugarcoating how travel can be, at least for me sometimes. I love traveling just about more than anything in this world, but I have travel anxiety. General anxiety. So it makes it a little difficult sometimes to enjoy the journey. Maybe some of you out there can relate. We know all the motivational quotes out there about enjoying the journey, but when you have anxiety it can interfere with what you truly want. And what I want IS to not dread the part of making it to my destination and just being happy and relieved when I get there, but I want an overwhelming sense of peace and calm to wash over my entire being ON the journey itself. I want to savor every step of the process that it takes of getting there. I want excitement and adrenaline to rush through my veins on the journey, even while flying (which makes me anxious, like most people!) and not just to have those feelings when I’ve arrived. For some people, it might come easy to do this, but for me it’s not so easy. It is something that has frustrated me and has hindered me at times from fully enjoying a trip. What I find myself doing is being two steps ahead in my mind, instead of being present and fully in the moment.

 
So, what is the point of writing all of this? I know it’s a different, more vulnerable post than I’ve written on this blog.

 
I write this to say that travel is not always pretty and glamorous as we all can make it appear by the pictures we take – the postcard worthy pictures. Those of us who travel know this. All the mishaps that can and do happen along the way. But it’s all part of the adventure right? (I nudge myself to believe it as I say it!) We know travel can be stressful and exhausting, and can bring out a lot of emotions, both positive and negative.

 
BUT…when we or I find myself being overwhelmed with anxiety, I have to remember why I am traveling in the first place.

 
I CHOSE to go on this solo trip, and I’ve been wanting this for myself for a long time. For various reasons, of which I won’t explain all of it now, maybe for another post, but here is one reason why. I want to grow in my self-confidence – to fully believe in myself again, because somewhere along the way after going through some things, I have lost that. I need to believe and know that “I am capable.” And so, stretching myself and getting out of my comfort zone and doing something that I believe is hard and that would be like climbing Mt. Everest – I know that it will be nourishment to my soul. To accomplish this….I can only imagine the overwhelming feeling of how proud I will feel! I know this will be so good for me.

 
And, of course, I am going on this journey because wanderlust is in my veins, too. Life is a gift. This world is filled with wonders, and I want to see and experience it all. Gratitude, contentment and wonder washes over my heart, mind, and soul when I am in a new place. To hear a foreign language and not understand a word that is spoken but being enamored by its sound. To appreciate a different culture and to just sit there and “people watch” and in those moments you just feel so alive. Traveling makes me feel alive. It always has. It awakens me. Fills me with passion for life.

 
So I must remember these things. I am afraid to travel solo, yes, but one of my favorite quotes inspires me to keep on dreaming and to not press the “cancel” button. Oh, the regret I would feel if I did that! “Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear.” (George Addair). I will not let fear have a say; it will not keep me from my dreams.

 

And, I will end with another favorite quote of mine;

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” Lao Tzu

What about you? I would love to hear from you guys about your traveling experiences! Ever dealt with travel anxiety? What kept you going and what kept you from canceling the trip?

And I would love to hear about any solo trips you’ve been on and what that was like! Feel free to comment below or send us a message!

Much Love,

Lindsey

Central America : Belizean Adventures

For anyone who’s explored Central America or the Caribbean, the beautiful country of Belize has probably been in the queue for potential places to visit. For us, Belize was the only choice – more specifically, the small settlement village of San Pedro located on Amergris Caye. Just for a little bit of history: Belize was formerly British Honduras, and is now an independent Commonwealth realm on the eastern coast of Central America. Belize is bordered by Mexico to the north, and to the south & west by Guatemala. The beautiful waters of the Carribean Sea surround the east of Belize.

The 30 minute flight in our puddle jumper aircraft from Belize City (the capital of Belize) to San Pedro on Ambergris Caye was one [flight] which we’ll never forgot! The plane seemed to just barely clear the end of the blacktop runway and catch enough uplift for takeoff – but, it somehow happened . . . and we were on our way! We’d never flown in such a tiny aircraft – one which was equipped with a whopping 8 seats. Despite the size of the aircraft, which only seemed to become increasingly smaller as we gained altitude, the views were huge – sweeping panoramas of the verdant jungles, snaking rivers and crystal clear waters – outstandingly beautiful.

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IMG_0083 Flying above the jungle near Ambergris Caye – a jungle which is filled with every type of flora including the beautiful Red Tail Flowers as well as a variety of fruits, such as Annato and Allspice.
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Outside of San Pedro

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As we landed in the tiny Central American city of San Pedro, located on the southern-most region of Ambergris Caye, we were instantly shocked – not only by the beauty we’d witnessed from the air, but also the third-world feel as we stepped off of the airplane. Everything about San Pedro was different from any other country we’d visited during our travels around the globe, including the primary mode of transportation, which is golf cart – everything was perfect and we knew an adventure was ahead of us!

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As this was our first visit to Central America, we were unsure as to what we’d find upon arrival. To our pleasant surprise, we were greeted by friendly faces, including the immigration officers, shop-keepers and locals, all who welcomed us with open arms to their small country. We knew immediately we had chosen well in terms of the country we wished to visit during our first trip to Central America.

Upon arrival to San Pedro, we were taxied via golf cart from the terminal a/k/a ‘garage’ to the most incredible, relaxing, and accommodating resort on the Caye, being Ramon’s Village. While we did take advantage of the affordable jet-ski rentals and the thrilling open-water shark scuba dive at the Aug Hol Chan Marine Reserve, our Central American getaway was primarily gear towards R&R. Ramon’s Village was perfect and suited our every need, including booking excursions as mentioned above.

 

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Ramon’s Village – Perfecto!
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Ramon’s Village : the beach “hang-out” area

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Ramon’s Village offers dive site trips, including the famous ‘Blue Hole’ at their dock located on-property!

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The food – ahhhh . . . so wonderful and so fresh. The fish tacos were out of this world!

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After filling up on fish tacos, we headed out to the Reef for the dive of our lives! A big thumbs up and thank you to our guides! Just a 30 minute boat trip from Ramon’s Village to the Hol Chan Marina Reserve on the Reef will yield an experience of a lifetime! A must-do when visiting Ambergris Caye.

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All in all, Ambergris Caye was fantastic and the ultimate destination for anyone who’s looking for relaxation and/or adventure!

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Thanks for stopping by – safe travels!

Magical Oregon

I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again. There is nothing like the feeling you get when first arriving to a new destination – a place you have never seen before. There is so much to discover. Travel makes your heart race and adrenaline rush throughout your entire being. It’s so exhilarating!

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And so, our hearts raced with excitement as we stepped off the plane and found ourselves in the Pacific Northwest – a place that neither Josh nor I had explored yet.

 

Our destination was Cannon Beach, Oregon. But first, we had to see something amazing. We picked up our rental car from the airport, and then drove a few miles outside of Portland to see Multnomah Falls. As we drove along the highway, clouds covered the sky and fog was on the horizon. We were not used to this kind of weather and scenery, and to us the weather was what one would call “moody.” We reached the parking lot for the falls, and felt excited for what our eyes were about to behold. Our shoes crunched in the snow and we passed under the highway through a tunnel where a local was playing some tunes on his guitar. It felt perfect, and just added to our excitement. At last, we gasped for breath when we looked up and saw the Multnomah Falls crashing its water thunderously down with such great force. It was foggy, creating an eerie and mysterious effect. We stared in wonder for several minutes at this beautiful site, took pictures, and then got back on the road as we were ready to get to our destination.

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The 2 hour drive to Cannon Beach was slow, but the scenery made the time pass quickly. We finally arrived to the sleepy beach town as the sun had just set a few minutes earlier. I instantly fell in love with the town because it was quiet, had a main street with cute shops, and it sat right on the ocean. We checked into our accommodation, The Waves, and were blown away by the panoramic views of the ocean from the windows of our hotel room. A storm was brewing, and when we opened the back door of our room to our private patio, we felt in awe of the ocean as the sound of the waves crashing against the shore was almost deafening. We were right on the ocean – such a prime spot. Our room had a cozy fireplace, which we were thankful for as it was in the middle of February.

 

We ventured a mere couple blocks away and found the perfect place to eat dinner – Driftwood Restaurant and Lounge. It felt like the restaurant was filled with locals, and I felt instantly at ease and calm when we walked in the doors. The restaurant was dimly lit with a dark wood interior. Candles and vases with fresh flowers adorned the tables, which made me happy as I am all about a romantic dining experience. It was so nice to be in a warm and cozy restaurant, away from the cold and brutal wind outside. I had clam chowder which was amazing, as well as a steak and baked potato. Our server was a gem – she was so nice and friendly. We knew from first stepping foot into this town, that Cannon Beach was a unique place. We loved it!

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The next morning, the wind was blowing mighty fiercely. We walked along the beach, struggling against the wind, and having the sand hit our faces. But we were having fun, and didn’t care. We had our GoPro and camera in hand, and did our best to capture the moments.

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View of our accommodation – The Waves
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Another view of our accommodation

I walked a block over to the main street (North Hemlock) to go to the Cannon Beach Yoga Arts, and had a calming yoga practice. A great way to start the day off right!

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After breakfast, Josh and I put our hiking boots on and drove a few miles outside of town and, after getting lost a time or two, finally found the Cape Falcon trailhead. Despite the cold, we did a short photoshoot of me in the magical-looking forest, where I felt like I was a fairy. It was so much fun! Then, we embarked on what we thought was going to be a short hike, as in 2 1/2 miles roundtrip, but we ended up hiking further than we intended, and it turned out to be an 8 mile hike! That’s quite a difference! Nonetheless, we had fun walking through the mystical rainforest. It was so quiet and peaceful, and we hardly saw any other hikers along the way. Towards the end of our hike, the sun finally appeared, and it was absolutely glorious as it peaked through the trees and warmed our skin.

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After our exhausting hike, we ate lunch at Pelican Brewing Company where I had delicious fish’n’ chips.

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I spent the rest of the afternoon, still filled with adrenaline, wandering in and out of the shops and art galleries of Cannon Beach. I then went to a local coffee shop, and did some reading. Josh later joined me and we walked next door to a pizza cafe (Pizza a’ fetta) where we shared a delicious barbecue chicken pizza. Amazing!

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The rest of our time in Cannon Beach was filled with exploring the town some more, and relaxing. We were amazed again by the natural beauty of this place, especially the iconic Haystack Rock. While gazing in wonder at Haystack Rock, the waves crashed brutally against the shore and the wind was relentless. It made standing there all the more inspiring. I had found a place of mystery. I think it was then that I discovered that my heart longs to live near the sea.

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Indeed, we will never forget our time in Cannon Beach, Oregon. And our hearts cannot wait to go back!

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Another place we found with great seafood – The Local Grill & Scoop
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Absolutely divine creamy, clam chowder at The Local Grill and Scoop
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Crab cakes at The Local Grill and Scoop
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An energetic, little photo bomber – haha!

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Trekking the Peaks of Colorado

The state of Colorado is graced with beauty unsurpassed by many states within the USA. This western state is graced with a landscape full of valleys, mountains, lakes, plateaus, deserts, and rushing rivers. Needless to say, Colorado has it all, especially if you’re keen to get outside!

There is no shortage when it comes to activities for the outdoor/extreme sports junkie, including mountain climbing, white-water rafting, SUP, and of course snow skiing/snowboarding.

I am sharing with you our experience hiking some of the most beautiful scenery in Colorado, during summer and winter months…and, of course, with our trusted k-9 companion, Olive, the shiba inu.

Exploring the craggy mountains a/k/a ‘Rocky Mountains’ requires a certain level of physical and mental strength. Many of the tallest mountains “14ers” as they are called, allow for the most breathtaking scenery and photo opps (photos below).

Side note here: as with many geological/natural/environmental questions, those who are interested tend to argue – this is the case with the ‘true’ number of 14ers. There is an ongoing debate as to exactly how many 14ers truly exist in Colorado. As per the Colorado Geological Survey, there are 58 peaks which exceed 14,000 ft. in elevation. So, we’ll go with this number for now . . .58 it is!

While most all 14ers are indeed difficult to summit for even the most experienced mountaineer, there are several [14ers] which are, for the most part, ‘family friendly’, including Grays PeakMt. Bierstadt, Mt. Democrat, Mt. Evans, and Mt. Sherman, all of which are above 14,000 ft (4,267 meters) in elevation. And yes, it’s difficult to breathe where the air is rarified! Note ‘family friendly’ assumes the hiker is in moderate-good physical and mental health.

For more information on the above-mentioned four 14ers, visit www.14ers.com. This website is chock-full of helpful information such as up-to-date mountain weather reports, route maps, photos, and trip review. Check it out!

Below are a handful of our favorite photographs which we took during our adventures backpacking/trekking/climbing in beautiful Colorado. As with any journey, one must be equipped with the right gear. For the majority of the hikes we have done in Colorado, and surrounding states in the USA, we have been incredibly pleased with gear from Kathmandu (check them out by clicking the following link HERE) – Enjoy!

Grays Peak

Elevation: 14,270 ft. / 4,350 meters

See MAP HERE

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Grays Peak: near the trailhead. Crystal clear waters one will pass whilst trekking through this beautiful Rocky Mountain land!
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Grays Peak: yes, there are wildflowers. . . and lots of them!
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Grays Peak: Olive just taking in the beauty surrounding us as we begin our trek towards the mountain
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Grays Peak: Olive and I just getting warmed up for this hike!

 

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Grays Peak: view from the lowlands below the summit
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Grays Peak: Nearing the saddle between Grays and Torreys Peaks…Olive telling me to “move quicker!”
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Grays Peak: the ‘saddle’ which connects two 14ers, being Grays & Torreys and is at 13,707 ft (4,178 m). One can summit both 14ers during the same hike if weather & strength permits! We submitted Gray’s only which is 14,270 ft / 4,350 meters.
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Grays Peak: resting on summit with fellow mountaineers before descending
Friends atop Gray's Peak
Grays Peak: hanging out on summit with a team hiking the Continental Divide trail, which extends from Mexico all the way to Canada and runs 3,100 miles / 5,000 km. The Continental Divide trail follows along the Rocky Mountains and traverses five states — Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico
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Grays Peak: friend showing off his rock climbing skills. They don’t call the Rockies ‘rocky’ for nothing.

 

Mt. Sherman

Elevation: 14,036 ft. / 4,278 meters

See MAP HERE

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Mt. Sherman: Olive and I making headway as we climb – what a view we had!
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Mt. Sherman: scrambling up the craggy rock face of this mountain. . .Olive is a trooper!
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Mt. Sherman: Nearing the summit. A view of the route behind me
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Mt. Sherman: Fellow dog and their masters – making new friends
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Mt. Sherman: Olive feeling quite proud after having reached summit! 
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Mt. Sherman: On summit…chowing down on a banana with Olive!
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Mt. Sherman: Fellow mountaineers on summit
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Mt. Sherman: On summit…just a ridiculously photogenic dog!
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Mt. Sherman: Cairn letting Olive and I know we had reached the summit

Mt. Quandry

Elevation: 14,265 ft. / 4,347 meters

See MAP HERE

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Mt. Quandry: stunningly beautiful!
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Mt. Quandary: mountain goat checking us out as we hike upwards to the summit

Mt. Democrat

Elevation: 14,148 ft. / 4,349 meters

See MAP HERE

 

 

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Mt. Democrat: view of the valley below as we climb closer to the summit
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Mt. Democrat: olive nearing the summit, before her masters, as usual!
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Mt. Democrat: cairn on summit
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Mt. Democrat: we’ve made it to the summit! 

 

 

Mt. Bierstadt

Elevation: 14,060 ft. / 4,285 meters

See MAP HERE

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Mt. Bierstadt: us after just having trekked across the lowlands (in background). Now on the trail which leads to the summit!
MT. Bierstadt view from Mt. Evans. Mt. B was the first 14er we accomplished summit
Mt. Bierstadt: view of the summit (which we reached)

Mt. Evans

Elevation: 14,264 ft. / 4,347 meters

See MAP HERE

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Mt. Evans: checking out fellow hikers and tourists before embarking on the route to the summit!
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Mt. Evans: Olive and Josh – geared up and hiking towards the trailhead
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Mt. Evans: the classic ‘fly’ pose overlooking Summit Lake
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Mt. Evans: one of the many mountain goats which threatened to charge (just threatened)

 

His final look before he charged..
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Even near the cities of Denver and Boulder one can find beautiful half-day to full-day hikes, such as these pictured below.

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Indian Wilderness – near Boulder, Colorado

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Rocky Mountain Nat’l Park: the elk bulls were not at all shy
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Taking in the sights of Boulder ‘open space’
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Rocky Mountain Nat’l Park: hiking over Bear Lake (yes, under the foot of snow and ice there is a lake)

 

Bavaria : Neuschwanstein to Lake Königssee

After a grueling 5 hour 260 mile/420 km drive from Frankfurt, Germany to Hohenschwangau, Germany, near the town of Füssen, located in the southwestern region of Bavaria, bordering Austria, we finally were able to gaze upon the magnificent castles which we had set out to discover – Neuschwanstein and Schloss Hohenschwangau. Both just a glorious as all photographs we’d seen prior to arrival. The day was bluebird – not a cloud in the sky to shield the view of these magnificent structures. It was a perfect day, minus the few dozen tour buses on our tail as we walked to the horse-drawn carriage. Luckily, we had beat the crowd and were able to hop on the horse-drawn carriage in a short amount of time and were on our way up the driveway of Neuschwanstein!

Of course, while traveling anywhere, especially in/around the Bavarian Alps, one must be prepared with all essentials, notably your backpack! For us, the Cotopaxi Luzon 18 L Del Dia day pack is a perfect choice to hold everything one needs for this type of travel! Check out Cotopaxi and their gear by CLICKING HERE. Cotopaxi is fine group who use those leftover scraps of fabric to create their wonderful masterpiece jackets, backpacks, and more. Perfect for, well, any type of traveling and proven to be solid products that last even through the harshest elements. They even insulate their jackets using llama fiber – how cool is that?!

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Hohenschwangau, Germany (View from hotel Alpen Stuben)
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Neuschwanstein Castle
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Castle Hohenschwangau
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Neuschwanstein Castle
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View from one of the main balconies of Neuschwanstein Castle

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Day 2:  Departing Hohenschwangau

After a great night’s rest and departing Hohenschwangau, we embarked on the next leg of our journey towards Ramsau, Germany. The beautiful route we took, part of which was via the famous German Alpine Road (Deutschen Alpenstraße), provided us distant views of the beautiful Neuschwanstein Castle resting on the mountain side, as well as the baroque-style church pictured above. Saying goodbye to this region of Bavaria was difficult, however we anticipated with excitement what extraordinary places lay ahead!

The drive to Ramsau took all of 3.5 hrs (140 miles), and took us through towns such as Bad Tolz, Waakirchen, and Miesbach, before reaching the final town of the Deutschen Alpenstraße, being Inzell. Upon reaching Inzell, we continued a short distance further down windy, narrow roads through towering alpine trees until we reached the tucked-away most extraordinary town of Ramsau, Germany (see our blog post “Ramsau“). Ramsau is a village worth an entire blog post!

Below are a few photos of Ramsau, including the seldom witnessed/explored Church of Saint Sebastian.

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Playing in the Alps!

Ramsau to Lake Königssee

The drive from Ramsau to Lake Königssee is short, a mere 30 minutes to be exact. Lake Königssee (or Königsee) lies a couple of miles south of the town of Berchtesgaden and boasts to be Germany’s deepest and cleanest lake. Most of the lake is within the Berchtesgaden National Park.

To properly experience this Lake and all it offers, one must embark on the electric boat which glides across the water to the baroque-style pilgrimage church of St. Bartholomä, located on a peninsula about halfway down the western lake shore.

IMG_9146Backing up to the electric boat ride: during the approximate 45 minute drift to St. Bartholomä, the guests aboard the vessel will witness the echo-creating rock walls which surround portions of the Lake. “Echo-creating” rock walls which allow for the trumpeter aboard to play his flugelhorn to demonstrate just how “echo-creating” the rock walls really are. The flugelhorn melody reverberates up to seven times! It seems as if there are seven trumpeters, rather than just the one (just an interesting side note).

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Arrival at the dock to visit the pilgrimage church of St. BartholomäIMG_9158
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Lake Königssee
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Taking a break at the on-site Münchner Hofbräuhaus

Another side note/word of caution: due to the steep shore of Lake Königssee, St. Bartholomä and the southern edge can only be reached by boat, or via hiking trails up the surrounding mountains. The only exception to this is during harsh winters when the Lake freezes over – but of course with any frozen lake, caution is advised! Stepping on the frozen Lake, could result in a very, very cold bath, or worse. This happened in 1964 when a motorist thought it might be safe to drive his Volkwagen Beetle across the Lake to reach St. Bartholomä. The Beetle was found in 1997 at a depth of 100 m (330 ft). So, in short – do not walk (or drive) on frozen lakes!

To end our journey in Bavaria, we took a hike along the Konigsee + Obersee , Parque Nacional de Berchtesgaden trail. Such natural beauty surrounding our every step as we ventured into the alpine forest.

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Slovenia : Part 2 – Piran

It rained on us during the two hour drive from Lake Bled to our next destination – Piran, Slovenia. The weather was gloomy, but as we neared Piran, the clouds parted, the rain stopped, and the sun shone brightly. Our hearts started racing with excitement and adrenaline – a feeling I always get when arriving at a new place I’ve never seen before. We danced and sang along in the car to the “LaLa Land” movie soundtrack, to a song called, “Another Day of Sun.” Perfectly fitting. Vineyards and olive tree groves dotted the hillsides as we finally reached what would become one of my most favorite places in the world . . . Piran.

 

As we entered into the village of Piran, one could feel that this place was full of charm. Fishing boats swayed back and forth in the small harbor, tempting one to step onto one of the boats and go explore the beauty of the sea.

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We reached our beautiful accommodation, Hotel Piran, that sat perfectly next to the Adriatic Sea. A classy, sophisticated hotel, we were supremely impressed, especially by the warm, friendly faces greeting us at the front desk. Our jaws dropped when we walked into our room and saw the breathtaking view of the blue sea from our private balcony. The sea was surprisingly still as glass, and there were a few people out on kayaks and SUPs, enjoying the calm waters.

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We ate a delicious lunch on the patio of the hotel’s restaurant, soaking up the sun’s rays and being enthralled by the beauty of the sea and of this ancient village.

Piran Pez Trolls

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Then, it was time for exploring. I’m not too fond of group tours, and so, instead, we found our own way discovering Piran. Tartini Square evoked a sense of wonder within me, as I love town squares because you could spend hours just people watching and letting time slow down.

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My favorite part was wandering the streets and deserted alleyways and feeling wonderfully lost. We didn’t know where we were going – no map or compass to guide us, just our feet and hearts telling us where to go.

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We climbed the stairs up to Piran’s old town walls (dating back to the 7th century) and looked in wonder at the red-tile roofs below us. It felt like we were in Croatia and Italy all at the same time. Above us stood the old bell tower, which invited me to climb its stairs. I felt giddy at the prospect of conquering any fears of heights or claustrophobic spaces, and imagined the feeling I would have if I were brave and climbed despite my fears. And so, I did it! Climbing the 147 steps to the top of the Cathedral of St. George’s bell tower was nerve wracking, as the old wooden stairs would creak with each step you took. Adrenaline kept me going and the panoramic view of Piran and of the Adriatic Sea made the daunting climb worth every step.

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Piran - view of city pano from Tower

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I will never forget our time in Piran, a truly off the beaten path place. It stole my heart!

 

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Now more than ever do I realize that I will never be content with a sedentary life, that I will always be haunted by thoughts of a sun-drenched elsewhere.

~Isabelle Eberhardt

Slovenia : Part 1 – Lake Bled

Lake Bled, Slovenia is without a doubt at the top of our ‘to-travel’ destinations! Lake Bled is located in the Julian Alps of the Upper Carniolan region of northwestern Slovenia, where it adjoins the town of Bled.

From the moment we entered Slovenia, we were in awe of the natural beauty as well as the Eastern European vibe – something almost otherworldly about this fantastic county existed – it was wonderful!

We arrived in Slovenia via crossing over the northernmost Italy/Slovenia border, which turned out to be somewhat of an other worldly experience – there were no immigration officials, no cameras for security. . . completely opposite from every other border we’ve traversed, especially in Europe! Nothing was in place to check any travelers from moving from one side to the other. Well, nothing but an abandoned immigration control station which looked as if it hadn’t been occupied since 1970.

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Italia/Slovenian Border Crossing (Vacant Border Station Up Ahead)

MAP - border of Italy and SloveniaThe route from the small town of Tarvisio, Italy to Rateče, Slovenia then to Lake Bled was absolutely stunning – with antiquity surrounding us, through what appeared to be an endless route of vacant properties and villages.

 

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Departing Tarvisio, Italy on the Via Vittorio Veneto Road en route to Rateče, Slovenia

 

Here are a few of our favorite photos from the border crossing and Lake Bled. Enjoy!

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The traditional Pletna boat
Lake Bled - J playing with wolf
Just a wolf pup – friendly as can be!

 

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Lake Bled and view of Bled Castle

 

 

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Lake Bled and view of Bled Castle
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The primary establishment on the island is none other than the pilgrimage church dedicated to the Assumption of Mary (Cerkev Marijinega vnebovzetja), built in the 17th century
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Assumption of Mary (Cerkev Marijinega vnebovzetja)
Ojstrica hike - Lake Bled photo collage J & L
(Before and after photos of our hike up the Osojnica trail) – it was difficult! Straight up it seemed!

 

After such a grueling hike, a much needed relaxation was in order at the lovely Triglav Hotel.

Triglav hotel Pano Restaurant
Beautiful Hotel Restaurant on Lake Bled
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Beautiful Hotel Restaurant on Lake Bled

The trains move slow in this area of Slovenia, or don’t come at all . . .

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Awaiting the slow-moving train which never came

Must-See’s In Windy Wellington – The ‘Coolest Little Capital in the World!’

Eat at the Beach Babylon Cafe and Feel Like you Are in Coffee Heaven

The beachy, laid-back vibes at this cozy little cafe on Oriental Parade (one of the “hot-spots” of Welly) make you forget time even exists. Coffee . . . espressos, cappuccinos, anything you need to get your caffeine fix lies here at Beach Babylon. Beach Babylon serves a very hearty brunch, as well as lunch, and when dinner time rolls around, there is a noticeable change that takes place. The atmosphere becomes more sophisticated with dim lighting, creating a romantic ambiance. My favorite dish, which I still crave years later after having dined at this gem – a breast of chicken laying in a creamy coconut sauce, accompanied by a bed of rice also infused with the taste of coconut. And the outdoor seating with views of Wellington harbor make this my favorite spot to soak up the sun’s rays, read a good book, and perhaps do a little people watching along the way.

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Image via Beach Babylon

 

Go Off-Roading at Red Rocks

I was a little intimidated by the thought of going off-roading, but it turned out to be one of the most memorable experiences of our time of living in New Zealand. It was exhilarating for this girl who had never done this before, and despite my initial hesitations, I found myself having fun and laughing the whole time! We bumped along the rocks, our bodies jerking and swaying up and down and all around. At last, we made it through, very strategically, the Devil’s gate – two towering rocks where one had to drive the vehicle just right, or, who knows what might happen. We got stuck a couple of times, but when we made it to the other side, we all breathed a sigh of relief. Our friend was a professional at “off-roading” in New Zealand! We then stopped to admire the famous red rocks and gazed at the rainbow-colored paua shells. If you are feeling adventurous and appreciate geology and history, then take the time to go off-roading at Red Rocks. And hey, we know a guy!

For more details, click here

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Visit Eastborne – And Eat at a Cafe called “Chocolate Dayz”!

If you haven’t noticed yet, Wellington is THE place for foodies. It is said that Wellington “is crammed with more bars, cafes, and restaurants per capita than New York.” (see article link here). And, I am quite fond of food. Very fond, actually. So when we stumbled upon this beachside cafe in a lesser known suburb of Wellington, we were all for it. I recommend picking a table outside where most of the tables have picture-perfect views of the ocean. This little suburb of Wellington is a place to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city – if you can ever find you are able to pry yourself away from “the coolest little capital in the world”. The atmosphere here is so peaceful and relaxing, and you sense from everyone around you that they are truly enjoying life – not rushing.  The fish ’n’ chips at Chocolate Dayz are so fresh, lightly battered in panko-type style, making it feel “healthy” despite the fact that it is fish ’n’ chips. They were divine is really all I can say! Come here if you want to just unwind, want to hear the sound of the gulls, and want to smell the salty ocean air while you eat delicious and impressionable food.

 

Bike Ride to Pencarrow Lighthouse

While in Eastbourne, consider taking a scenic bike ride to the breathtakingly beautiful Pencarrow Lighthouse. From Eastbourne, the roundtrip takes approximately 1 1/2 hours by bicycle. The lighthouse stands solitary and greets travelers by the sea as the ships sail into Wellington Harbor. Although not a working lighthouse today, one can imagine what a welcome sight this lighthouse would have been to see when you knew your destination was finally within sight. You can read more about the history here, but one interesting fact from the aforementioned article is that Pencarrow Lighthouse was “the country’s first permanent lighthouse, it was also home to its first and only female lighthouse keeper – Mrs. Mary Jane Bennett.” The bike ride itself is captivating and peaceful and you’ll most likely spot some sheep along the way. The weather in this area is especially unpredictable so be prepared with a rain/wind jacket, and try to go on a day when the wind is calm – at least by Wellington standards!

Useful information – You can rent bikes at the gate in the summer time. [See link here.]

 

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Hike Mount Kaukau

If you love hiking and want to see the city of Wellington spread out like a blanket far below you, then put your boots on and hike up the beautiful Mount Kaukau. Although a little strenuous at times, open fields greet you at the top and you have unrestricted, panoramic views of the city, the vast ocean, views of the Rimutaka Ranges, and, on a clear day, even the South Island! This hike is worth the effort, and you will even get to see the native silver ferns along the way, reminding you that you are indeed in New Zealand, the Land of the Long White Cloud.

Useful information – Map for Mount KauKau map. [See link here.] Map courtesy of Wellington City Council

 

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A Ship Isn’t Meant to Stay Safe in the Harbor – So Go Sailing!

What better way to see Wellington than to see it from the water? Since Wellington is so windy, this makes for an adventurous time out on the water while sailing in the harbor. The wind is used to our advantage as it fills up the sails and sends us on our way. In our personal experience, we went sailing on what happened to be one of the calmest days ever – as in no wind at all – a rarity in this capital city. We were lucky, in my opinion, because of this, though our captain was disappointed for us, as there were several moments where we were at a standstill. The wind eventually did pick up, however, and it was so peaceful feeling the wind on our faces and smoothly journeying across the harbor. We became a part of the crew as the captain had us each take on a role in letting our boat sail from tacking to jiving. The company we used was Wellington Ocean Sports. They were top-notch and took care of us – the captain was witty and filled with the friendly, Kiwi spirit.

Find Wellington Ocean Sports here!

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Go Kayaking in Oriental Bay

If sailing doesn’t meet your fancy, get out on the water again and feel accomplished by paddling yourself in a kayak along the shoreline of the Oriental Parade. Have I mentioned Oriental Parade is the place to be? As you quietly glide across the water (unless it’s really windy and the waves are choppy, then you won’t really be gliding!) take in the sights of the city’s skyline, brave souls jumping off the docks for sport, fisherman fishing and hoping to find their catch of the day, and sailboats gracefully dancing across the waters. If the sun is out and the weather is calm that day, I would recommend kayaking out to the towering water fountain in the bay, going underneath, and getting soaked. I did this and it was quite exhilarating – and cold!

Check out this place to rent your kayaks or SUPs! 

 

First time to ever go kayaking...whoo hoo! In Wellington harbor, to boot! It wasn't too hard until the very end, it was getting windy and impossible to go anywhere, haha, what a workout

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Eat at Maranui Cafe

Located in Lyall Bay is the well-known (to Wellingtonians) Maranui Cafe. Climb up the stairs and be wowed by the colorful, retro decor that is what gives Maranui its character. Be prepared to stand awhile in line, as this place is quite popular, especially on a sunny day. The windows of the cafe give you an outstanding, panoramic view of the ocean and you can watch the planes fly into the airport, ferries arrive from the South Island, and surfers attempting to ride the waves that Lyall Bay is known for. A must eat dish is their “shoestring fries” and signature aioli sauce that accompanies the fries, or “chips”. The hot french fries are thin and crispy, with just the right amount of salt, and, especially when dipped in the aioli, it makes for a delicious appetizer. Sit out on the deck and feel the warm sun on your face as you feel like a local eating at this hot spot!

 

Stay at the QT Museum Wellington Hotel

We stayed at this hotel while living in Wellington, and it is by far one of my favorite places I’ve ever stayed. When you walk in, you feel like you have stepped into an impressive art gallery. The furnishings are elegant and exquisite. The service was outstanding and the location on the harbor make it so that you cannot go wrong. Their website says it all: “Fall down the rabbit hole into an explosion of colour and texture at Wellington’s new design-driven Hotel, QT Museum Wellington. Our own walls host a curated collection of high and low-brow art sitting in a stunning harbourside location and engulfed by vines of vivid ivy.”

For link to hotel website, click here. Be sure to check out the Hippopotamus Restaurant while staying there!

 

 

Walk Along Oriental Parade and “People Watch”

If you want to really feel like you are a part of Wellington, to feel connected to the heart of this city, then take your time and slowly stroll along Oriental Parade. Watch the fisherman casting their lines out into the bay. Watch the city, its people, come alive as they soak up not only the sun’s rays, but life – for life does seem to slow down in this Capital city! People walk their dogs, admire the sailboats bobbing on the water, and laugh as they visit with an old friend on one of the park benches. They enjoy sipping their espressos and eating the delicious gelato you can find here. When you walk along Oriental Parade, there is something magical about it. Even if you are simply visiting Wellington, you will feel like you are a local – truly connected, as you are all enjoying one of life’s most precious gifts – Time.

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