A Costa Rican Thanksgiving

First stop on our itinerary – Arenal Volcano.

We packed up the car Thanksgiving morning and headed for the hills. Our drive there was not without a few hiccups. Two bridges had recently collapsed causing traffic to be re-routed. This proved to be more difficult than you might imagine.

Roadways in Costa Rica are not like they are in the states. Some roads aren’t even paved. The signs put up to indicate the bridges were out were simply posters attached to a traffic cone labeled “no pase.”

Luckily a motorist saw us confused and stopped to explain the situation and provide some guidance for getting around.

In our re-route we encountered one of the down bridges. I’d never seen anything like it before. The bridge collapsed into a river while a truck was crossing. The broken bridge and the truck had fallen into the river. While it was not a long drop down it’s still haunting. To know that maybe these bridges can’t hold the weight that travels across – and nothing was being done to fix it. Locals just standing a the riverside looking at the mess.

But we had to continue on. Eventually making it safe and sound to our hotel in La Fortuna, one of the towns at the base of the volcano.

Once we arrived we decided to book a hiking and hot springs tour. The group picked us up from our hotel and we headed to the Arenal National park. Because we were visiting during rainy season just as we got there the sky opened up and it started to rain. But, the hike would go on.

We got to see some really cool foliage like citronella leaves (think mosquito repellent), the leaves sloths like to eat, rainbow trees and learned the history of the volcano and it’s eruptions. With the rain it made photo taking nearly impossible, even on my go pro. I don’t have many photos from this and the ones I do have are not very visible through the rain.

I am not going to lie. Hiking in the rain for over 2 hours was not fun. I was drenched and just generally uncomfortable. Being that it was Thanksgiving I tried to think what it was that I could be thankful for in this situation? How can I be thankful for anything in this situation? Let’s face it I was miserable…

But how lucky I am that when it is raining I have a home to take shelter in, to keep dry, to keep warm. So it was a lesson in humility – that I take my home, a place to live, for granted so often.

In retrospect, I am really glad we took that hike in the rain. We pushed ourselves, we were uncomfortable the whole time but we did it and are better for it.

The rain-forest is an incredible place and offers so much to learn. I hope so experience it again one day soon.

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” -Marcel Proust

xx

michelle

Here’s a few photos of the greenery I took the next day:

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Post arrival tidbit

After my not so pleasant arrival into Costa Rica (thank you, but no thank you taxi men). My friend picked me up and we headed back to her apartment in San Jose. On the drive back to the apartment I was shocked to see locals walking down the side of the highway.

Immediately, I ask, “OMG, why is that man walking down the side of the highway” and my friend explains that it’s actually pretty normal in Costa Rica. In addition there are people weaving in and out of the lanes of traffic trying to sell food. I was in awe, it was a very real feeling of culture shock. Things are different here. And not in a bad or good way, just different.

xx

michelle

 

 

Costa Rica – A Homecoming

The airline attendant at the desk asks me “Are you traveling alone or in a group?” I say “Just by myself” and I feel as though she’s almost judging me for traveling alone. But she doesn’t know I’ve got plans, big plans, and not just for this trip.

So I got to thinking on the plane. About being independent, about being a girl traveling alone. I stopped myself. I’m a women traveling not a girl, my own mind trying to persuade me otherwise. I think, I should be so proud of my independence as a woman. That the decisions I’ve made in my life so far, independent of others and their opinions, have been the some of the best decisions I’ve made in my entire life.

I feel thankful that I’ve been given a life where I am supported, encouraged and empowered to make my own decisions. To live my own life. While I might not have been in town for Thanksgiving, I still have many reasons to be thankful. And the journey to Costa Rica has been a powerful reminder of that.

While I’ve taken an extended break from writing about my travels and my experiences I have felt this overwhelming need to return. To share the good, the bad, the crazy, the “I can’t believe that really happened” and more.

And in sharing my journey I hope that you feel encouraged and empowered to live. To live for yourself. To do things because YOU want to do them. To see the world through your own eyes, your own lens. Because the world is beautiful in every single way.

Reality check – I step one foot outside the San Jose airport and immediately am being called “Taxi lady?” Queue me telling 10+ taxis drivers that no, I don’t need a ride.

xx
michelle

*Originally written 11/21

a day in LDN

My mom and I finished our trip with a day in London. Since our flights home were out of London we decided to put a day in between flights (we flew from Barcelona back to London, with a day before our flight home). Yes, a little unorthodox, but I’m so glad we did.

The day started with a walk along the south bank (my fav thing to do in LDN) to borough market for some yummy treats. We sampled the most amazing scotch eggs, sweet potatoes fries, smoothies, brownies and cookies the size of our faces (yes, again).

From there we headed, via the tube, to Regent’s park. There are so many parks in the city and I had yet to visit Regent’s. I think what sets Regent’s park apart is the beautiful rose garden.

Never in my life have a seen roses so big and so perfect. And in so many colors! It was amazing to walk around and see all the different types, each as beautiful as the next.

After stopping to smell the roses, literally, we headed towards Notting Hill area. I’ve yet to see it and I’m obsessed with the movie. But, we never made it because we decided to make a stop at Kensington palace instead.

Boy did we have a field day…we decided to view the exhibits because the palace has a lot of outfits wore by the queen, her sister and princess Diana on display. But also got to visit the quarters of the various monarchs that resided there…that’s where the fun started…

To be honest the whole time my mom and I were like 2 snickering school girls making immature jokes throughout. We couldn’t stop laughing and now we swear the monarchs spirits are haunting us.

Anyways, after we had our fun we headed towards Knightsbridge to do some shopping. We finished our day with dinner at Harrods overlooking the Egyptian escalator. It was pretty cool.

A bittersweet moment to know that the next day we’d be heading home and leaving a place I’ve come to love so much. But I know it won’t be long before I’m in London again!

^our yummy scotch eggs & sweet potatoe fries



cheers.

~meesh


^one of the things that had my mom and I laughing about at Kensington palace 🙂

food of barcelona 

Here’s a rundown off all the food we ate in Barcelona:

LUNCH/DINNER DAY ONE: LAS RAMBLAS

calamari, pizza and sangria

SNACK DAY ONE: FONT DE MONTIJUIC

ice cream 🙂

LUNCH DAY TWO: EN ROUTE TO PARK GUELL

fresh bakery tuna salad sandwich

DINNER DAY TWO: GOTHIC QUARTER

veggie paella

SNACK DAY TWO: MERCADO DE LA BOQUERIA

chocolate covered strawberries and assorted truffles

LUNCH DAY THREE: GRAN VIA

veggie sandwich

DINNER DAY THREE: LAS RAMBLAS

tapas!…we tried more than just the 3 pictured here

SNACK DAY THREE: GOTHIC QUARTER

bakery goodies

Note: There are no pics of food from breakfast becasue it was provided at the hotels throughout the trip.

cheers.

~meesh

costa brava 

We spent our last day in Spain in the Costa Brava region which is just north of Barcelona along the coast.

The first town we visited, Lloret de Mar, is your quintessential European tourist coast town. Hotels line the beach and there are people in swimsuits everywhere. My mom and I enjoyed our time there just sitting on the beach looking out at the water. The views were spectacular. 

From there we boarded a ferry that would take us to the next town Tossa de Mar. Wow, can I just say wow. The views of the coast from the ferry were breathtaking. I was mesmerized just watching the water hitting the rocks. I loved taking it all in.

Once we got to Tossa we did a short waking tour of the old part of the town, the tour took you to the highest point in town and the views all along the way were incredible. It was all just so calm, peaceful and beautiful. After the tour we enjoyed lunch with a view of the water. 

We spent the rest of the afternoon with exploring town, indulging in gelato and taking in all the views, aka me snapping about a million photos.

Even the views on the bus ride back to Barcelona was a site to see. It offered a different view of the coast, small winding streets and houses in the hills. 

Costa Brava was by far the best place we visited while abroad. If you’re visiting Barcelona take a day to go north and visit, it won’t disappoint.



cheers.

~meesh 

sagrada familia

Before I get in too deep with this post I’m giving a little history lesson about the Sagrada Familia for those you don’t know what it is…

Antoni Guadi is Barcelona’s most famous architect of the modernism era. He is the mind behind Park Guell, Casa Batllo, Casa Mila and the Sagrada Familia. And the Sagrada Familia was not only his dream but the city of Barcelona’s dream . It’s a modernism basilica featuring ornate details and once finished will have 18 towers. The key thing to note is that although construction started in 1882, construction is still not finished. Funds for construction are raised through donations and it’s forecasted to be complete in 2026.

Although not entirely finished you can still visit the inside which is complete. So after or morning tour my mom and I headed to over becasue our tickets were for that afternoon. Even just looking at the outside is a site to see, ever detail is meticulously thought out and all together it’s just breath taking…

I guess I didn’t know what to expect from the inside becasue I’d only ever seen pictures of the outside. And when I walked inside I think my jaw might have hit the ground. I’ve been a lot of European churches and basilicas and I have never seen anything like it. It wasn’t stuffy and dark like I’d expected, it was bright, colorful and airy. It had a completely different vibe and I loved it.

This inside has a more simple feel as compared to the outside but again the attention to detail is incredible. And, I’ve never seen stained glass create such color and light within a space.

While there my mom and I also had the opportunity to go up one of the towers. We chose the towers on the Nativity side. So basically a lift takes you up to the viewing area and bridge that connects the to towers, which was really cool and we got some great views of the city but then it was kind of creepy because you have to take the stairs down and it’s pretty dark/cramped. After we got down my mom and I needed a little breather because it was pretty intense. I mean don’t get me wrong it was a really cool experience but just wish we knew what we were getting ourselves into beforehand, haha.

Moral of the story is if you are in Barcelona you must go visit the Sagrada Familia.



cheers.

~meesh

p.s. Also not super happy with the pictures here becasue it really doesn’t do it justice…might do a post with more pictures soon