Category Archives: Travel

An Unexpected Floridian Adventure

An Unexpected Floridian Adventure

Hey, all! I just got back from spending two and a half weeks in Florida. Though I had planned to be in Fort Lauderdale for a long weekend of scuba diving, the rest of the adventure was quite unexpected…

Blissing out on the beach

Blissing out on the beach

The day before my flight back to Ohio, where I’m currently staying, I made an impromptu decision to visit a doctor in Miami. I hadn’t been able to hear out of my right ear for a couple of days and, though I had no pain whatsoever, I figured I should get it checked out. Thank goddess I did, because I ended up having an ear infection! The doctor said I couldn’t fly for at least seven days, otherwise the membrane would burst in my ear. (She also prescribed me antibiotics, which I begrudgingly took for ten days! I typically don’t even use medicines like Advil, so after taking that stuff, I’ve been popping probiotics and drinking kombucha like it’s my day job.)

Exploring the diversity of Florida

Shiva Vishnu Temple, Key Biscayne, and the art walk!

Anyway, though my extended trip was totally unanticipated, it was nothing short of AMAZING! The way the Universe opens up opportunities is so impressive. I was able to stay with wonderful friends the entire trip – thank you all again so much, I am grateful. Surprisingly, I really enjoyed Miami and had some seriously awesome experiences!

For much of the trip, I was surrounded by talented, musical beings. It was pure bliss! We danced, laughed, and made music each night, until the sun came to greet us. Growing up, my life was bursting with music and art. I was in a constant state of creation and, though I still appreciate those areas, it’s not an integral part of my life anymore (Stay tuned for a blog post on this topic!). Being around artistic people made me miss it and question why I let it go in the first place. While swiveling my hips to rhythms of Bollywood, letting music pour through my smiling lips, and clapping my hands to the beating of my heart; I was in harmony with life and those around me. After this experience, I have decided to really cultivate this area of my life again – so, artists around the globe, let’s create together!

Lush forest greens.

Lush forest greens. (Can you see me hiding in one of the photos?!)

During my time there, I also gained a greater appreciation for Latin cultures! With exception of an Indian friend, every other person I hung out with was from Latin America.  The diversity was fascinating – my friends came from Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Panama, Puerto Rico, Argentina, Dominican Republic, Cuba, Ecuador, Brazil, and Spain (this one sort of counts, right?)! I adored hearing stories of their traditions, experiences, foods, and lifestyles there. Though I was still in the US, the constant flurry of Spanish language and music made it easy to forget.

Snorkeling in Key Largo

Snorkeling in Key Largo

There was a beautiful spiritual and yogic element to my experience too. I attended my first official SUP yoga class, did acro-yoga in a park by the sea, and communed with talented yogis and yoginis for random yoga play. We also visited the Shiva Vishnu temple for the celebration of the appearance of Rama and went to see the breathtaking Jade Buddha.

Post-snorkeling yoga...on top of kayaks!

Post-snorkeling yoga…on top of kayaks!

Being in nature was so rejuvenating for me! Frolicking on the beach, splashing in the ocean, and basking in the sun was totally life-giving. As my Vedic astrologer friend explained to me, I have a deep connection to Mother Earth. I’d already known this about myself, but hearing it affirmed by the stars was pretty interesting. I can’t explain it fully with words, but when I’m not connected to Her – no matter if it is through the sea, a jungle, a river, or a forest – I feel disconnected from my life source. Little compares to experiencing the sun kiss my skin, the wind caress my body, and the earth’s electricity enter my body through my perpetually muddy feet! Living near the ocean, in the near future, will be so special for me. When scuba diving, snorkeling, and paddle boarding become regular activities, I will be one happy adventuress!

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Sleepy, little tiger.

Oh…and did I mention that I spent an evening snuggling with a baby tiger?

Suffice it to say, life is beautiful, sporadic travels are beautiful, and you people are beautiful. Trust that things will align for you, fellow adventurers, and they will!

Jade Buddha, a tiger, and yogis, oh my!

Jade Buddha and tigers and yoga, oh my!

 

Hipknoties Review: Convertible Travel Wear

Hipknoties Review: Convertible Travel Wear

When shopping, the main thing I look for in clothing is versatility. The two main reasons for this are saving space in my luggage and living an eco-friendly lifestyle. Though many of us aren’t yet in the space to buy solely fair-trade, locally made items, there are little steps we can take toward that lifestyle. One such step is purchasing clothing that can be used multiple ways!

One multi-way product I came across this past year was Hipknoties. As soon as I saw the word “convertible,” I knew I needed to check it out. Though I own multiple pieces of multi-use clothing, I was still very curious about this one.   hipknotiesphoto

When I investigated more, I learned that the USA-made Hipknoties garments can be worn THIRTY ways! The brand, which has been featured on the Today Show and in Glamour Magazine, targets a diverse group of women and their mission is simple. They are “committed to inspiring & empowering women of all ages and sizes, by enhancing and simplifying their wardrobe experience with versatile, affordable and innovative garments & accessories, which complement all women’s figures and lifestyles.”

I was further thrilled when I spoke with the founder, Sarah Yonover, and she shared they that they are planning to release a small capsule of bamboo Hipknoties this coming April!

I bought my first Hipknoties earlier this year and it’s come with me on many adventures, throughout Europe and North America. It’s an absolute travel-fashion staple for me and I can’t imagine traveling without it!

How does it work? 

Basically, like putting your hair in a ponytail! When you purchase a Hipknoties, it comes with a  packet of clear bands. You use the bands to tie “knots” wherever you like. This means the garment’s sizing is quite customizable and allows it to be very flattering.

How can it be worn? 

Short Length -  Scarf, Wrap, Shawl, Bolero, Poncho, Vest, Top, Mini Dress, Skirt, Strapless, Halter, One Shoulder, Boat Neck, Children’s Dress, Casual, Office, and much more!

Medium Length - Scarf, Wrap, Shawl, Bolero, Poncho, Vest, Top, Dress, Skirt, Strapless, Halter, One Shoulder, Boat Neck, Sheath, Maxi Skirt, Casual, Office, and lots more!

Maxi Length -  Halter Maxi, Strapless Maxi, One Shoulder Maxi, Wrap Skirt, Bubble Dress, Formal Gown, Bridesmaid Dress, Halter, Style Vest, Maxi Skirt, Boat Neck Long Dress, Full Length Cocktail Dress, and so much more!

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What’s it made out of?

Fabric is made from Rayon and Spandex (Dry cleaning or machine washing on gentle is recommended.)

Is it a worthwhile investment? 

Abso – freakin – lutely! Travel gear can often be pricey, but this is one item that is definitely worth investing in and is actually quite affordable, considering how many outfits it provides. Depending on the length, a Hipknoties is between $60 – $75. I’ll tell you one thing, having to pay for over-weight luggage just a couple times will cost you more than that!

If you’d like to get your own Hipknoties, just click here!

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{Photo Credit: Hipknoties}

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Disclaimer: Yep, it’s an affiliate link! But I purchased my first Hipknoties long before joining

their ambassador program and I will only advocate items I actually support. ____________________________________________________________________

 

Switzerland: An Unplanned Adventure To Remember – Guest Post

Switzerland: An Unplanned Adventure To Remember – Guest Post

Note from Adventurous Andrea: I absolutely adore the way Ksenia and I “randomly” got connected! She’ll mention it below, but we met through Instagram and ended up linking up in-person while I was in NYC. She made me a delicious breakfast bowl, we chatted about travels, and shared our life philosophies. I am so glad that she had an exquisite time in Switzerland and greatly look forward to meeting again in person. Be sure to check out Breakfast Criminals for some delicious breakfast inspiration! 

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Switzerland: An Unplanned Adventure To Remember

A castle in Switzerland, hidden between snow-covered Alps, and surrounded by cheese factories – if you can think of anything that sounds more fairy tale-like, let me know. An owner of a book on Swiss castles, a cheese lover, and someone who was raised in Europe but hasn’t been back for years, I knew that it was time for a visit.

When booking the ticket, I didn’t know a single soul in Switzerland, yet this trip turned out to be one of the most connected, magical and eye-opening adventures in my 24-country traveler’s history.

Here’s what happened…

LOGISTICS

My parents had given me a ticket to Moscow, my hometown, to celebrate New Year’s eve with the family. I scouted Orbitz and Expedia to find a ticket with a stop anywhere in Europe that would cost as much as flying directly to Russia. The best deal was a stop in Geneve. Easy peasy, ticket booked!

ADVENTUROUS ANDREA

A couple of weeks before my trip (which was a big secret, as I was planning to surprise my sister by showing up at her doorstep in Moscow), I met Andrea. In the most random yet coincidental way possible. Andrea was in New York to, in her turn, surprise her family. The second that I posted a picture of New York on Instagram with, duh, #newyork hashtag, she happened to be looking through pictures with that hashtag. She offered to meet up. While my friends thought it was weird to meet new friends through Instagram, I knew that this wasn’t a chance meeting.

Somehow, the charming Andrea had just come back after spending three months in Lausanne, where I was going, and had been so busy that simply had no time to plan my trip beyond the airfare. After 2 hours of fun conversation that went far beyond traveling, I had the most useful tips on Switzerland that I could have ever gotten, plus connections with people that made my trip that much more special.

ACCOMMODATIONS 

I had saved up some AirBnB credit and booked a charming private studio that’s part of a bigger modernist chalet atop Mont-Pelerin in Vevey, a town between Montreux and Lausanne. The main house turned out to be free for the night I was there, and the incredibly nice owner let me enjoy it. If you’re ever in Switzerland with a group of friends or family, you MUST stay in this house. The view of mountains, lake, and clouds that seem close enough to bathe in, are like nothing you’ll ever experience.

For the rest of the nights, I was going to stay with family friends, and at a Buddhist monastery. Initially I planned to just visit the monastery, which I found out about from Andrea, but as soon as I saw that they have guest rooms, I was drawn to the experience of living in a holy place. All the way along I had thought that the the house and the monastery are in different towns, and that the move would require taking a train, but in the most amazing way possible, they turned out to be on the same mountain of the same town, Vevey.

MONASTERY LIVING

When I think of a monastery, what comes to mind is seclusion and disconnectedness from the rest of the world (i.e. no wifi). I couldn’t have been more wrong! There was even a Wii in the dining room, which kids of the visitors played after meals.

While I came to Switzerland alone, there wasn’t a single moment that I felt that way. Everyone I met at the monastery made me feel at home with their openness and warmth. They allow any visitors to participate in holy ceremonies and share meals (delicious Tibetan and Indian cooking) with the monks and the students.

While not a buddhist, I am very curious about the Buddhist way of living. I was lucky to learn the concepts of the philosophy firsthand from its followers.

I feel that something deep inside of me has shifted through this experience. You know how they say that everything that we hear, think, feel or see affects us, even if subconsciously? In a way that’s hard to explain, I feel like the buddhist teachings of non-selfishness are deep engraved in me no matter where I go from now on. If there’s one main thought that I can share, it’s this:

“Chérir le soi est source de toute les fautes et chérir autrui et source de toute les qualités et bienfaits.”

“Cherishing yourself is the source of all faults, and cherishing others is the source of all positive. “

Buddhists believe that you can only focus on the good in others, and notice negative qualities only in yourself, but only to work on eliminating them. Simple, yet a profound thought that will shift your life into a positive realm in no time once you adapt this way of thinking.

MAKING CROISSANTS, SWISS STYLE

How can visiting a Buddhist monastery result in a croissant making class? One of the students at the monastery turned out to be a baker and a pastry chef, and we happened to plan going to Lausanne for the same day. He needed to stop by his bakery to make croissants, and told me that I could come along if I was  interested. Is that even a question?! It had always been on my bucket list to go behind the scenes of a bakery, where it smells like heaven and only good things happen ;) I definitely got my dose of Julia Child!

FRANKFURT: AN EXTRA ADVENTURE 

While in Switzerland, I was hoping to have some good Glühwein (mulled wine), a European tradition that somehow never made it to the US. It never happened. So the universe orchestrated my return flight to be cancelled, which gave me a full day and night in Frankfurt, Germany. In one of its main squares, I stumbled upon a street market with local cheese, bread, beer, sausages and glühwein. Getting together at an outdoor market and getting drinks seemed like a perfectly normal way for locals to hang out even on a chilly winter day. Since I believe that the best way of getting to know a country is by having a local meal with local people, I grabbed a glühwein and a bratwurst and joined in, and it was a perfect finishing touch to my Euro adventure!

BOTTOM LINE

Never let anything stop you from traveling. Be open. Be curious. Learn new languages. Get lost in new cities. Try new foods. Be inspired. Have no schedule. Do what makes you happy. Get lost in conversations with people you just met. Forget rules. Be yourself. Believe that everything happens for a reason. Have an amazing year full of adventures!

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xo, Ksenia

www.breakfastcriminals.com

Instagram: @xenia_lova, @breakfastcriminals

A Look Back at 2013

A Look Back at 2013

Now that twenty-thirteen has officially come to a close, I can look back on it. I ended last year’s review post by saying, “I am so excited to see what 2013 holds and I plan to live it to its fullest!” I am thrilled to say that I have truly fulfilled these words! By far, 2013 was my most adventurous year yet. The year contained way too much awesomeness to cover in one post, but here are the biggest highlights…

I graduated from university! After spending a lovely three years living in the southern state of Tennessee, I received my degree in psychology. The mountains, forests, and people there will always hold a place in my heart.

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Graduation day

I backpacked in Costa Rica! On a whim, a friend and I took our one-way tickets and met in Central America. Seventeen days were definitely not enough in the country and I look forward to returning. The diversity of the landscapes is beautiful – it was great to be somewhere with beaches, forests, and mountains!

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Nosara, Costa Rica

Playa Pelada, Costa Rica

Playa Pelada, Costa Rica

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Sunset & horseback rides in Costa Rica

I moved to Europe! At the end of August, I packed my possessions, printed yet another one-way ticket, and headed off to Europe. I spent three months living in the countryside and then in the city of Lausanne, Switzerland. My goal was to immerse myself in the country and I did just that. I formulated amazing friendships, discovered my favorite cafés, and truly felt at home in the city. I miss it dearly and have every intention of continuing my European romance.

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Bern, Switzerland

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La Sarraz, Switzerland

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Lausanne, Switzerland

I abruptly paused my Eurotrip – When I headed off across the pond, I didn’t have any date of return. Though I had no specific trip-length, I assumed it would be somewhere between one and three years. I had my flight booked to go do exchange work on the lovely island of Cyprus, when I made a big decision… I had gotten news that my uncle was about to pass away. I then started thinking more about the fragility of life and how not all my family members would be around at this time next year. After finding an incredibly cheap flight from Switzerland to NYC, where my immediate family was spending Thanksgiving, I made the decision to forgo my Cyprus plans and surprise them there.  Genuinely, my ego fought me hard on this decision. I had thoughts pop in like, “Wow, I was supposed to be here way longer than this. I wonder what people will think of my early return…” But then I centered myself and realized the only thing that matters is following my authentic truth. Though my trip is now on pause for a little while, it was completely worth it to spend the holidays with my family and be here with them during times of loss.

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Lake Geneva, Switzerland

I surprised my family in New York City - My parents and my little sister, who lives in California, were convening in NYC for Thanksgiving. Without knowing where I would stay for the week before their arrival, I purchased the ticket. I then started reaching out to friends in the city and was amazed how the Universe provided for me. A friend who I had not seen in years so kindly offered me a place to stay. Though we didn’t get to hang out much, due to his busy work schedule, I had an amazing place to stay right near Central Park! I was there for a week before my family arrived – I’ll be uploading the videos of the surprises here soon. After their arrival, I stayed in the city for another week and met some amazing individuals. Through Instagram, I got connected with Ksenia from Breakfast Criminals and Harry from A NewYorker Travels. I spent time with a nomadic Irishman, who reached out to me through CouchSurfing, and a lovely yoga teacher, who I was introduced to by a friend I made in Switzerland! I was also thrilled to finally meet Laura of Traveling Jersey Girl. We explored Central Park together and had so much fun getting to hang out in person. She is seriously such an angel and I highly recommend checking out her travel blog. Following my pattern of one-way tickets, I bought one to NYC and was totally open to staying there for a while. However, the Universe had a different plan and when I found out I had an immediate job offer in Ohio, I found my way back to my hometown. Currently, I’m working and saving up the money I spent during my impromptu trip back to the US.

Central Park, NYC, NY

Central Park, NYC, NY (Photo Credit: A NewYorker Travels)

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Grand Central Station, NYC

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After surprising my little sister!

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Wonderful friendships forged in NYC

I concluded my 2013 by spending a fantastic evening with a girlfriend in Columbus, Ohio! We decided to go all out and do the whole shebang at the Renaissance hotel downtown. It was a such fun and I’ve adored really getting to know her these past few months. I’m all for promoting my friends, so be sure to check out her studio, L-Yoga Flow, if you’re ever the Columbus area.

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New Years Eve 2014

Twenty-thirteen is going to be a damn hard year to top, but with new adventures already in the works, I’m incredibly excited to see what 2014 will be like! What I know for sure is that I’m going to be surrounded by amazing people, travel to exquisite places, and continue on my path of spiritual expansion.

Sending you all so much love and light and wishing you a happy new year!

My Bittersweet Love Affair with Switzerland

My Bittersweet Love Affair with Switzerland

I’ve fallen in love with Switzerland and now it’s time for me to go. I first laid eyes on the country three years ago and it was love at first sight. The snow-capped mountains, lush hills, and cities full of rich history captivated me. Though I only spent a few days in this beautiful land, I knew I had to return.

In August, I took my one-way ticket and came back to see if the initial thrill could turn into something more. Without a visa, I knew I would only have three months here, but figured that would have to do. I quickly settled into life in my little, Swiss village.

Every week that passed brought more experiences, more people, and more love into my life. Now that I’m preparing to leave this wonderful country, I feel myself wishing I had more time here. While I savored each vibrant sunrise, person I met, cuisine I tasted, wine I sipped, and laughter I shared…I want more! There are so many views I didn’t see, forests I didn’t explore, city streets I didn’t walk, and people I didn’t get to meet.

Just as when one wants to prolong time with a new lover, my mind has been filled with ways I could return here and continue my stunted romance. When I first arrived I was more reserved. It took time for me to open up, but now I want to explore this country fully. I want to know its flaws, strengths, nuances, and secrets. I want to learn its languages and memorize the city streets and mountain trails. But sometimes things aren’t meant to continue, at least for right now. Sometimes, the shortness of an experience is what makes it so sweet.

I’m sure when I’ve gone I’ll experience the common signs of romantic loss. I’ll sigh wistfully when my love is mentioned, I see a photo, or any random thing that reminds me of bygone times. I’ll long to hear the familiar lull of French-speaking voices (even though I rarely knew what anyone was saying), smell the scent of freshly roasted chestnuts wafting through the streets, and have my breath taken away by the beauty of the sun setting over Lake Geneva. But I know what will overpower this longing is the appreciation for having experienced all these things in the first place.

My romance with Switzerland so recently begun and now it’s quickly coming to a close. But as with all love affairs, if it’s meant to be, it will be…

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Sseko Designs Review: Convertible Travel Sandals for Women

Sseko Designs Review: Convertible Travel Sandals for Women

Deciding how many pairs of shoes to take on a trip can be quite a daunting task. It seems like there are shoes needed for every occasion! Walking shoes, boots, high heels, flats, flip flops, hiking boots, sandals…the list goes on! Because it’s so easy to over-pack in the shoe department, I am always on the lookout for shoes that can be used in multiple settings. Recently, I’ve found an amazing sandal option! What makes Sseko Designs’ sandals special – asides from their awesome mission to empower women - is their convertible and interchangeable straps!

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Not only are Sseko Designs’ shoes good for your feet, they’re good for womankind! These fair trade sandals are crafted by women in Uganda and the company has a powerful mission to empower women throughout Africa and the world. I don’t know about you, but when I find a company that has the product I need and it allows me to support a great cause, I feel like I’ve hit the jackpot! While the soles of the sandals are all the same, there is a extremely wide variety of straps and over a 100 ways to tie the sandals! They’ve even added many accessories to make the sandals even more customizable.

Shoe:

  • handmade
  • crafted from genuine Ugandan leather

    Ssekos are great bike riding sandals!

    Ssekos are great bike riding sandals!

  • comfortable
  • micro foam layer
  • rubber outsoles
  • slight heel
  • durable
  • five loop holes for sandal straps
  • all soles for sandals are the same style

Straps:

  • able to be tied over a 100 different ways
  • extreme variety (everything from plain…to metallic…to silk…
  • to colorful patterns!)
  • tutorials on how to tie

Accessories:

  • handcrafted
  • many options
  • make sandals more customizable
  • Ugandan leather

So…the company sounds great, but I bet you’re wondering how the sandals actually hold up! 

I’ve taken these babies trekking around North America and Switzerland. Let me tell you, they’re amazing! The fact that I can change not only the style of the straps, but also color and design of them, gives me limitless possibilities. You can customize how they’re tied based on the style you’re trying to create and how much support you need for your activity. It’s amazing that one sandal can be casual enough to wear to a baseball game and (with a change of straps and maybe an added accessory) fancy enough to wear with a sundress!

While I don’t recommend using them to hike up a mountain, the sandals do just fine walking around cities for hours. The micro foam layer in the sole and the soft fabric of the straps makes for a comfortable walking sandal. The only drawback is that you do have to take the time to tie them. That said, once you do it once or twice, you could easily tie both sandals in under 30 seconds!

The sandals are priced between $39 and $59 (depending on the straps you choose), and you can get additional straps between $9.99 – $15.99. Although this may seem a bit pricey to some, think of how much more you would spend buying multiple pairs of sandals to suit your needs. Plus, spending a little extra is worth it if you’re trying to save space in your bag. Sseko Designs’ sandal’s durability, design, and customizable nature make them a great investment! To get your own pair, click here!

One sandal, many looks.

One sandal, many looks.

Liz, the founder, and her dear friends!

{Photo Source: Sseko Design’s}

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Disclaimer: Yep, it’s an affiliate link! But I purchased my first Sseko sandals  long before joining

their ambassador program and I will only advocate items I actually support.

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Shop Sseko Designs and empower and educate African women by purchasing handmade sandals, clutches and totes! Click Here

10 Things I’ve Learned About Switzerland

10 Things I’ve Learned About Switzerland

Today marks my one week anniversary of arriving in Switzerland. (In case you didn’t know, I bought a one way ticket and will be here until the end of November!) In honor of this mini-anniversary, I will share 10 things I’ve learned since being here.

1. Not only do lights turn yellow to indicate they will soon turn red, they also do before the light is going to turn green!

2. It’s very safe and trustworthy – many people I met didn’t worry about leaving their garages or homes unlocked.

3. At many gas stations, you pump and then pay!

4. In the villages, there are self-serve stores! I was shocked to walk into many little stores and only see a place to put the money that you owed for the items that you were taking.

5. Traffic violations are incredibly serious here – think getting a speeding ticket for going just 3 kph over and getting your license taken for a month when speeding 20 over.

6. In a lot of bathrooms, there are two separate buttons for flushing (depending on the deed)!

7. Traffic lights are not located on the opposite side of the road.

8. The Swiss really appreciate their quiet time. It’s banned to do loud work after 7 pm and on Sundays.

9. Everything closes early…very early. Shops start closing as early as 6 pm in little towns and you can forget running errands on Sunday. The weekend streets are bare by midnight, even in some of the more popular destinations.

10. A lot of cars take diesel and not gasoline. (I had to find this one out the hard way…)

 

Off on my adventure!

Off on my adventure!

Hello, Switzerland.

Hello, Switzerland.

Near to Lausanne.

The perks of living in the countryside.

The perks of living in the countryside.

The beauty of Lake Geneva.

The beauty of Lake Geneva.

 

Thoughts on My Upcoming EuroTrip

Thoughts on My Upcoming EuroTrip

I now officially have under two weeks until I depart for Europe! The Saturday after next, I will be boarding a plane to Geneva, Switzerland…and I have no idea when I’m returning to the US.

I’m filled with such a mix of emotions! Obviously, excitement and anticipation are coursing through me, but there’s also a twinge of sadness when I remember what I’m leaving behind. In the moments when the realization that I’m finally leaving “hits me,” I find myself giggling, teary-eyed, and wanting to jump up and down all at the same time.

Despite my excitement, the fear-based part of my mind is coming up with “what if?” scenarios. “What if this wasn’t the right decision? What if I should’ve just gone straight to grad school? What if I should’ve bought a return ticket instead of a one-way? What if certain members of my family become ill or pass away while I’m gone? What if something “bad” happens? What if my friends back in America become angry with me for missing all the weddings, birthdays, births, and graduations? Worse, what if they forget about me?” When my mind starts going down this rabbit hole, I close my eyes, breathe deeply, and look inward. When I still my mind and really settle into myself, I realize it’s none of the things I listed above that actually scare me. What really scares me is loss of control…the elusive unknown. While I would guess that most of my friends would describe me as spontaneous, there’s still a part of me that grasps so tightly to this false sense of control.

Rigidity causes things to break, while flexibility allows things to thrive. While I am a believer in the Law of Attraction, I find it funny how we are convinced we have such control over life and try so hard to hold onto it. I have this visual of a person clinging tightly to the “stable” trunk of a tree, yet failing to notice that the tree itself is floating down a river. Going down the river of life is ineludible, but how we navigate it is up to us. We can either struggle against it by kicking up stream, or we can go with the flow.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in life, it’s not to live by the “what if” scenarios. I constantly encourage friends to just leap and remind them that the Universe is there to catch them,  post inspirational Instagram photos telling others that things are being orchestrated on their behalf, and share Facebook statuses telling people to follow their dreams. Now, it’s my turn. It’s my turn to trust. It’s my turn to embrace the unknown. It’s my turn to leap into life!

Highlights from Costa Rica

Highlights from Costa Rica

I’ve just returned from sixteen blissful days in Costa Rica. My friend and I met in San Jose and then took a journey to Manuel Antonio, Montezuma, Sámara, Nosara, and Arenal. I kept a record of the highlights of each day and now have added pictures!

Day 1: San Jose

- seeing the view of Pura Vida from the plane

- my little airport adventure 

- meeting an awesome couple who were raising their kids in the mountains

- relaxing in the pool

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My first glimpse of Pura Vida

Relaxing at Adventure Inn in San Jose and waiting for my friend to arrive.

Relaxing at Adventure Inn in San Jose and waiting for my friend to arrive.

Day 2: Manuel Antonio 

- being blown away by the awesomeness of the view from the  backpacker’s hostel

- listening to the warm, Costa Rican rain falling on the tin roof

- taking a midnight swim in the hostel’s pool (it was surrounded by jungle and the rain poured down on us)

Bakpacker's Manuel Antonio Hostel

Bakpacker’s Manuel Antonio Hostel

 

Day 3: Manuel Antonio/Montezuma 

- hiking through Manuel Antonio Parque

- playing in the ocean and collecting rocks

- drinking straight from a coconut en la playa!

- seeing an adorable monkey yawn

- taking another late night swim and looking up at the stars. I have never seen them look so near before.

 

The view from the hike in Manuel Antonio!

Playing on the beach we found during the hike!

Beach yoga sequence

Beach yoga sequence

 

Day 4: Montezuma

- doing yoga with a view of the ocean, the warmth of the sun, and the coolness of a breeze.

- taking a four wheeler across the peninsula

- driving through two herds of cattle and seeing horses roaming on the side of the road

- exploring the little beach town of Montezuma

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This is the result of flying through a huge mud puddle

Our adorable little place at Casitas Sollevante

Happy in a hammock

Happy in a hammock

Day 5: Montezuma/Sámara 

- meditating and relaxing by the pool all morning

- seeing the extreme back country of Costa Rica (we actually had to turn around because we couldn’t ford a river)

-seeing the breathtaking sunset and eating a candlelit dinner literally on the beach in Sámara

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Our amazing pool at Casitas Sollevante.

I spent at least 25% of the trip in hammocks!

I spent at least 25% of the trip in hammocks!

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Dinner time in Sámara – it was so amazing to eat with my toes in the sand!

Day 6: Sámara/Nosara 

-  stand up paddle boarding – it was really tough with the waves!

-  found a tarantula on my friend’s pants…after he’d put them on.

-  discovered an awesome raw restaurant on the way out of town

-  had a crazy driving experience and had to turn around because of a flooded river

-  arrived at the amazing Villa Mango

Our little friend...

Our little friend…

The view from our room at Villa Mango

The view from our room at Villa Mango

 

Day 7: Nosara 

- did morning yoga surrounded by jungle

- had delicious banana/chocolate-chip pancakes for breakfast…while watching monkeys play!

- went to Playa Pelada

Mono

Mono

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Playa Peladas

Sunset from the terrace at Villa Mango

Sunset from the terrace at Villa Mango

 

The played me a song!

The played me a song!

Lovely beach

Lovely beach

Day 8: Nosara 

- did yoga on the terrace of Villa Manga

- felt super amazing and then the universe gave me a big lesson in self-growth

Felt blissed out and made a video on Presence (click photo to be directed to YouTube)

Felt blissed out and made a video on Presence (click photo to be directed to YouTube)

I love getting in touch with my feminine energy!

I love getting in touch with my feminine energy!

During our yoga session, the monkeys were playing in the trees and a beautiful, gentle rain came.

During our yoga session, the monkeys were playing in the trees and a beautiful, gentle rain came.

angry sea

Day 9: Nosara

- saw the black beaches at Ostienal

- drew in the sands

 

the black sand of Ostional

the black sand of Ostional

fly on black

 

Day 10: Nosara 

- ate breakfast with a birdy on my head

- spent most of the day in the hammock

- went to Playa Guinnes and saw amazing sunset

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Soon after, he migrated to a more comfortable spot…on top of my head!

Sunset on the beach

Sunset on the beach

Freedom

Freedom

horses

Day 11: Nosara/Arenal 

- had a long drive to Arenal…but with gorgeous views!

- stopped at amazing restaurant, Macadamia

- saw the lake views

Flutterby.

Flutterby.

The view on the drive from Nosara to Arenal

The view on the drive from Nosara to Arenal

Windmills...do you see them?

Windmills…do you see them?

Lake Arenal

Lake Arenal

 

Day 12: Arenal

-  went to hanging bridges

-  got stuck in a thunderstorm

Sunset at Nepenthe, our hotel for the first couple nights in Arenal.

Sunset at Nepenthe, our hotel for the first couple nights in Arenal.

I like leaves!

I like leaves!

The view from the hanging bridges!

The view from the hanging bridges!

Hanging Bridge

Hanging Bridge

Day 13: Arenal

- hiked up Volcán Arenal

- met a honey badger

Arenal Volcano

Arenal Volcano

Volcan Arenal

Volcan Arenal

Honey Badger don't care

Honey Badger don’t care

Flower at Nepenthe

Flower at Nepenthe

 

Day 14: Arenal 

- got rained out of our hot springs plans

- relaxed at Hotel Linda Vista

Typical breakfast

Typical breakfast

Hotel Linda Vista - if I were to return to Arenal, I'd definitely spend more time here.

Hotel Linda Vista – if I were to return to Arenal, I’d definitely spend more time here.

View from Hotel Linda Vista

View from Hotel Linda Vista

Day 15: Arenal

- spent the day in bliss at Ecothermal Hot Springs

Heavenly hot springs

Heavenly hot springs

So relaxing

So relaxing

Pure bliss

Pure bliss

Day 16: San Jose

- parted ways in San Jose

Although our foot prints have now been washed away, Costa Rica and the experiences I had there left a lasting impression on my heart.

Although our foot prints have now been washed away, Costa Rica and the experiences I had there left a lasting impression on my heart.

 - To see more photos of the trip, check out my Facebook album by clicking HERE. -

The Costa Rica adventure commences

The Costa Rica adventure commences
The Costa Rica adventure commences

Early yesterday morning, I sleepily pulled myself out of bed and boarded a plane for a sporadic trip to Costa Rica.  After the layover in Toronto, the flight lasted about five hours – not bad, considering that’s how long it took me to get to California! Despite having little sleep, my excitement didn’t allow me to rest at all on the plane.

My friend and I arranged stay at Adventure Inn and, wonderfully, they had a free shuttle from the airport to the hotel. This was especially helpful, because it meant I didn’t have to spend seven hours waiting in the airport for my friend’s later flight to arrive. The night before last, I realized the time the shuttle was set to arrive wouldn’t allow me enough time to get through customs and collect my backpack from baggage (Side Note: I am very impressed with all of you who can manage to make your packs carry ons). I quickly emailed the company and hoped to hear back in the morning. Although I hadn’t gotten a reply when I checked my email during my layover in Canada, I figured I would once I got wifi at San Jose Airport.
I hopped off the plane in Costa Rica, excited to see the hotel, and went to check my email….but there was no wifi and I hadn’t bought a SIM card yet to use my phone. As synchronicity would have it, I had struck up a conversation with a young Canadian a few minutes prior. He flew into the airport so often, that he happened to be friends with the man who arranges the shuttles. With our combination of broken Spanish and broken English, we discovered that the last shuttle from Adventure Inn was “randomly” (nothing is really random)  at the airport! He whisked me to the bus and explained that, although I was not technically on the list to be picked up, I was actually staying at the hotel.

Anyway, although there were a few confusing moments, things aligned perfectly.  Besides, that’s what adds the spice to life and keeps us in the moment! Today holds new adventures and I look forward to sharing them with you!

The view of Pura Vida from the plane!

The view of Pura Vida from the plane!

 

Written: June 1, 2013