Epic Adventure Time

It was all a dream..I used to ready WordUp magazine..is the song that comes to mind! But in truth, it wasn’t all a dream, even if it still feels like it. I love vacations where you just miss 7 days of work but it feels like you’ve been gone for months. It’s like time traveling or close to it. I just got back from a magical adventure to Spain (for the second time) and France (new country in Europe for me!).

Let’s just say, I ate pretty amazing food every day, got used to a weird schedule for waking, sleeping and eating and saw some of the most beautiful beaches and countryside imaginable. Meat and cheese are serious endeavors in both countries – like professional grade serious. Breakfast on most days consisted of bocadillos, AKA fresh baguette with squashed tomato spread inside and jamon serrano with brie or some other kind of decadent queso (translation: cheese). No wonder the siesta is so necessary (siesta: an afternoon rest or nap, especially one taken during the hottest hours of the day in a hot climate).

Here are some snaps from my adventures – picture yourself full of delicious cheese, pastries and fresh coconut or mango juice or cafe con leche (only the best espresso, always), then snorkeling, hiking, dancing, eating some more and waking up to do it all again. For fully immersive experience, try listening with this on in the background: my new favorite song <3

Barcelona Night
View from the terrace – Barcelona at night <3

Carcassonne River
Carcassonne River, strolling through this super ancient Medieval town on the way to explore a castle.

Carcassonne
This castle is possibly one of the oldest structures I’ve ever seen

Dali Arte
The Dali Museum in Figueres, Spain.

Dali Chillin
Hanging with my homie Dali in Cadaques.

Cadaques
Cadaques – beautiful Catalonian seaside town with all white buildings, delicious seafood and perma-summer in the air.

Cala Futadera
Actually #nofilter. See-through water plus we saw a live octopus swimming beneath us while snorkeling! Then this older dude came into catch it, possibly to cook for dinner?

Barcelona Lurking
Love getting lost in the Gothic Quarter’s old windy narrow streets.

Cala Futadera
More Cala Futadera, close to Tossa De Mar – so beautiful.

Blai tapas
Necessary. Lots of Tapas in Poble Sec – super cheap too and amazingly delicious.

Cala Syd
I was really there!

Secret Cala
I was really there!

Borne
I was really there!

Cap De Creus
Cap de Creus – a tip top point in Catalonia with views for days.

Via de Canes
At Ferias (party night) in Via de Canes – a bit south of Barcelona. Check out the jamon leg – gimme some of that!

Cadaques
More Cadaques – hiked out to a ridge view and couldn’t get enough of this beautiful ocean inlet.

Sant Feliu de Guixols
Walked around the entire border of Sant Feliu de Guixols and Sa’ Agaro – beautiful beachy towns with cute seafood spots and of course old medieval fortresses/castles. There were Cami de Rondas all around the coast – little staircase paths to go down to swimming holes (calas) all around the town. So breathtaking.

Dali Museo
Dali Museum courtyard.

Dali Surreal
Super surreal at the Dali Museum

*As originally seen on the Praytell Blog <3

Going With The Flow, Ultra Dreamy Style

     Just this past April I went on my first trip ever to Europe, first to visit a friend in southern Spain then to Barcelona solo! I love traveling alone, it’s honestly the best way to get to know yourself and really get in touch with what you truly love. At least for me this tends to be the case. My first solo trip was to Costa Rica for a little over a week. I went without a plan other than just the hostel I would spend my first night in. The rest I figured I’d leave up in the air – see how I feel and then go from there. What a refresh from my seemingly overly planned scheduled life in NYC. The first day waking up in Costa Rica, if I remember correctly, was kinda terrifying. I was along in another country. I could do whatever I wanted and no one would really know. I felt overwhelmed and scared – what should I choose? I suddenly felt nervous about going out of my hostel room into the shared kitchen where other visitors and their friends were all hanging. Would I look lame because I was alone? Where did this high school nervousness suddenly pop up from?

I ventured out anyway and realized a ton of other people I thought were all friends were actually solo travelers just like me. Of course. One dude from Chicago invited me to check out the best coffee spot and then suggested I venture to the beach. Once I got to the ocean I realized – this is what I had come for. I let go of the anxiety and pressure to plan out the perfect trip so I could get the most out of my experience and started meditating, asking for guidance and support in letting it all go to be open to a whole new experience.

Long story short I had the best time. Like, literally. The guy from Chicago with the coffee recommendation? He ended up inviting me to hitch a ride to Monteverde, the most beautiful mountainous rain forest area a couple hundred miles away from the Pacific coast. I was only there with him for a day and solo for a few days after, where I went on an epic 10 mile hike and saw a hidden waterfall, a butterfly preserve and met this awesome magical psychic lady who I got to help with her shop’s Facebook page in exhange for a massage! Needless to say my trip worked out better than I could have even tried to plan. As usual.

I’m writing from JFK about to depart for Moscow then Barcelona. Super weird itinerary, I know. I jumped when I saw a super cheap ticket, realizing only after the fact that the layover was almost half a days travel out of the way. Whoops! My first thought: cool, I’ll check out Russia, especially on the way back during the 12 hour layover from 9pm-9am! I’ll go to DA CLUB or who knows what. No sleep till Moscow. Then I realized the visa process was intense and expensive plus I would need a formal hotel invitation to exit the airport, real serious like. Then I caved again and bought a direct flight back from Barcelona to NYC, paying about the same cost of a direct round trip flight in the end. Lesson learned I hope.

So what brings me back to Barcelona this time? I still haven’t been anywhere else in Europe after all. Well, on my third to last day in town during my solo adventure I decided to mix it up and go on Tinder to see if I could find a new friend to holler at some dinner and maybe, if we hit it off, a fun Flux Pavillion concert I had tickets to. First of all, Tinder in Barcelona is just better than NYC. Everyone is gorgeous and has way more game. Not in a creepy pretentious way though. Game in the authentic, romancing type way. Some kinda way!

After some banter back and forth about “necesito un guía de turismo” (I need a tour guide aka my suave pick up line) – I was on my way to meet this guy for dinner. Since I didn’t have cell service, just what’s app on wifi, we made an old school plan to meet by an ATM outside of the train. I could only keep thinking, God how did people used to live without phones? Showing up on time to a specific place never seemed so incomprehensible. Sure enough, there he was! Just when I thought we lost each other, he turned the corner, mentioning there was another ATM of the same bank at the other trains entrance. Thankfully he didn’t think I had stood him up.

We had an awesome dinner and luckily he was into the concert idea too. I could tell he thought the venue was funny – reminiscent of study abroad bars I think, and sure enough when we got there it was bro overload. I almost felt like I was in San Diego again circa 2008. We proceeded to dance the night away and I created my own movie moment on the roof of Razzmatazz – we were deciding what we wanted to do next, to which I replied, “Quiero besarte!” Translation: I want to kiss you. Then it was game over, the chemistry I had felt earlier at dinner was more than confirmed and suddenly I was lost, lost in the heat of the moment (queue Frank Ocean in the background).

The next day we checked out the beach, rising over on his motorcycle through the bustling Barcelona streets. I got the best tour of the city I could have hoped for. We fell asleep on the beach, talking about astrology or something spiritual in Spanish – but it gets better. We had another awesome date that night, checking out the magical dancing fountains of Montjuic and then enjoying a delicious sushi dinner (like really good). I had been on quite a few Tinder, Hinge, OkCupid, blah blah dates over the years but nothing ever materialized into anything serious except for a few cool new friends (no new friends). Something was different now. I felt like we were on the same level, in a cool way where he would say what I was thinking, more than just a few times. It was striking and really refreshing at once. I also just felt really good about going with the flow and not being in my head about the usual questions – where is this going? Are we a good fit? Are we going to date? But I live far away. Is he successful? What does he think of me? And on and on and on literally forever. This time there was none of that. I was just me and it was all good. Maybe it was a case of ultimate freedom and surrender to vacation vibes in the most romantic place maybe aside from Paris (or so I’ve heard). Regardless, I was all about this life.

 Time flies when you’re having fun. He came with me to my Airbnb apartment to help me pack the ridiculous amount of stuff I had brought with me and even saw me off as I led with this ridiculously old, quite possibly blind retired taxi driver my Airbnb host hooked me up with for a mega deal. I didn’t have huge expectations of what was to come but felt really happy with how we parted ways and knew I would always have a friend in Spain no matter what.

After I got home I was amazed that he was eager to keep in touch. It felt easy to, not calculated or ripe with any ulterior motives like other post-dating comms can sometimes feel. I was going with the flow and loving it. We Skyped and texted a lot on What’s App and before I knew it, I was booking my weird flight to Moscow, I mean Barcelona, for a few months later. We started planning an awesome adventure together that somehow morphed into a road trip up Costa Brava from Barcelona into Southern France. I forget who suggested it but in any case it reminds me of the California Pacific Coast Highway but even more beautiful if that’s even possible. And the water is more green and swim-able. Dreamy.

So here I am, waiting to get on this epic flight to Russia aboard (no lie) “The world’s most improved airline.” This is a real marketing tag line for Transaero by the way, although their website might be fake, which is surprising because there are so many other people waiting for my same flight. Maybe I’m just late to the Russia flight game. I’m excited and also nervous! I haven’t seen him in a few months and I’m going to see him in the airport looking super haggard after nearly a day of traveling – cute. But this time tomorrow, after a long nap, I’ll be on vacay and living the dream. I’m unplugging except for snaps for that Gram (duh) and maybe some inspired writing. Going on vacation always inspires me to write, and not just write – but share it too. Sharing what’s going on is a big part of self love for me. When I put myself out there for everyone to see I am saying – “what I have to say is worth sharing and my experience is valuable to others, and maybe I can help!” It feels all warm and fuzzy when people resonate with me too, and since I’m totally a connection/feelings junkie, I’ll keep doing it! Bon voyage beautifuls 💜

Stuntin’ is a Habit (Get like me)

Be all there

Love this song. Right now I’m taking it as a reminder to make new habits – consciously form new habits, especially the ones that feed my soul. For me, traveling is just that. Last week was my first week back a 10 day blissful adventure in Spain, which actually felt like a month away. Time slows down maybe everywhere else in the world outside of NYC.

I started by adventure in Cadiz, where time literally slowed down, spread out and morphed in ways I still have trouble understanding. The sunrise is earlier and sunset is way later than anywhere I’ve ever been (9:30-10pm in summer or maybe always) and it’s the norm to eat weekday dinner at 10pm. Siestas are brilliant although my first day walking around I didn’t quite get why there wasn’t anywhere open to eat. Siestas are such a real thing in Cadiz that the town literally shuts down for a few hours between 12 and 4pm to give people a chance to literally and figuratively chill (so hard).

Barcelona offered more of the familiar NYC city vibe with a certain SF swagger I couldn’t help but feel was familiar. I felt like I had been there before, quite possibly in a past life. Most importantly I realized the root of the restlessness I was feeling for quite awhile. After all I hadn’t taken a real unplugged vacation (for longer than a long weekend) in a couple of years!

Here’s what I’m taking back with me from my recent escapade – new habits with intentions to match:

1. Plan more weekend getaways, get out of town, get a fresh perspective. Get into gratitude for how awesome my life is in NYC. Remember 5 years ago when I dreamed of moving here and I went for it, without a job, or anything? Yeah, that happened. What a ride.

2. Treat the day like an adventure. On vacation I love waking up without too much planned and just seeing where the day takes me – spontaneity in its purest form. Instead of planning the week with back to back commitments and activities, how about going with the flow and seeing what I actually feel like doing throughout the day. Adios FOMO. 

3. Go on solo adventures walking around NYC, visiting spots I’ve never visited before. Where would I go if I was a tourist visiting NYC for the first time on my own? There are still so many places I haven’t experienced here – I’m excited to venture out into the great beyond with a renewed sense of wonder. Hiking along Appalachian Trail, The Cloisters, Brighton Beach, Hudson Valley spots, Fire Island, NJ hiking and beaches…and much more.

4. Eat amazing food, adventure to far away neighborhoods to experience famed cuisine only available in NYC. Dim Sum in Flushing, Indian in Jackson Heights, soul food in Harlem, Dominican in Washington Heights.

5. Run around with no schedule in mind and no limit on time. Stop to take pics and bask in the beauty of Prospect Park, Central Park, the city, the Brooklyn Bridge and the loop around Battery Park up the Westside Highway.

6. Write about my experiences. Remember why I moved here, what I thought would happen and what actually transpired. Tell the story of how it’s all unfolded.

So much awesome change is in the air lately – I’m excited for more of it to unfold in the coming months! But as always it all starts with today.

BK Bridge

Daily Dose: Truth + Travel

barcelona

Don’t downplay your abilities now, Libra. You’re on the brink of greatness, so act like it. Things should go quite well if you let them. Don’t clog up the works by thinking that you’re unworthy of the good luck that is sure to come your way. If things don’t work out exactly the way you want them to, take it as a sign that the situation wasn’t right for you anyway.

Sometimes it’s as simple as subscribing to daily horoscope updates to remind you of the truth.

I’m going to Barcelona in less than 2 weeks and it feels like a dream. I’ve always wanted to go to Europe and I’m finally making the trip! Truthfully for a long time I believed that there were many things preventing me from going – namely student loans, living in one of the most expensive cities in the world, an inability to save consistently (for a long time), and my healthy budget for self care and entertainment (gotta be healthy and have fun, duh!). Somewhere along the line my old frame of mine shifted into a new plane wherein I am no longer waiting for something to swoop in and save me from student debt and expenses. Instead I simply started saving and took responsibility for making my dream happen – and it wasn’t even that hard!

I’ve found a few tools incredible helpful in the process – including Mint.com, regular check ins with my checking account, and using a CaptialOne 360 savings account to auto-save each week towards my goal. Oh and definitely Hipmunk for my flight alerts – always my go-to for finding great flight deals. It only took a few months and I’m off to an incredible adventure!