Arenal Volcano – A beautiful disaster

Our second day in Arenal started off with a quaint breakfast at the hotel. I loved how all the restaurants in Costa Rica are indoor/outdoor. They have roofs but no walls so you really get to enjoy the warm weather and the nature.

We decided to spend the morning ziplining. I had never been before and was super excited. It’s had always been something that I wanted to do but just never had the opportunity before.

I brought my go pro to try and get some vids of me swinging through the tress but I didn’t have the right attachment to take it with on the ziplines. Apparently it’s a two handed activity.

We got to go on 12 different lines, the longest being .5km (I think). Not going to lie the first one was a little scary but once you get the hang of it it was really fun and exhilarating.

With our zipline excursion we also go access to the hot spring pools at the attached resort. It was so nice to spend the afternoon relaxing in the water and at the swim up bar. It was my first time at a swim up bar ever and I am officially obsessed.

The pools also had these slides that were wicked fast and would whip you around and into the water. It was so much fun to swim like a child, without a care in the world. I haven’t done that in so long and it was such a treat.

In the afternoon we also got to catch a glimpse the top of the volcano. We have been told that typically the top isn’t visible and if it is only comes out for a couple minutes a day. We got to catch a few of those minutes and it was absolutely breath taking, almost a bit otherworldly. I feel incredibly lucky to have been able to see that. To see the volcano in all it’s beauty. Now that I think about it, it’s really a beautiful disaster.

xx

michelle

Some photos taken from the resort gardens…

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:

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

barcelona three

Day 3 started out with a morning bus tour of the city. The difference between this tour and the hop on hop off was that we got a live tour guide and we got to do some fun activities…

What we also didn’t know about the tour was that it included a ride on the Teleferic of Montjuic (so we got to go again) and a visit to the Spanish Village, which I’ll get to in a bit.
The tour started on the busy Barcelona streets, weaving in and out of different neighborhoods. Our first stop was at the Olympic Village where my mom and I had our first chance to go down to the beach and dip our toes in the water. We also got to see a lot of older folks enjoying the beach.

From there we headed up to Montjuic where we got a history lesson about the Montjuic castle that we had visited our first day and then got a chance to ride the Teleferic again and enjoy the views.

Then we headed to one of our favorite spots in Barcelona, the Spanish Village. The Spanish Village is basically all of Spain just condensed down into a “mini village.” The buildings inside feature architecture from each of the regions in Spain and house shops that feature the food and wine of Spain along with handmade items like fans and blown glass.

It was like this little hidden gem that we didn’t even know existed before the tour and my mom and I picked up some really cool handmade items like fans (which are super popular there). I think if we had time we would have spent the whole day there just going in and out of the little shops.

Our tour then finished with a walking portion through the gothic quarter of the city. We’d been there before but it was nice to get some context and learn about the area’s history. Plus I’m a big fan of walking tours because I think the best way to see a city is on foot.

Once our tour finished we headed back to the Sagrada Familia….which I will go into detail in the next post.


^^tbt to when my shoes where this white

cheers.

~meesh

img_4703

 

barcelona two

The next morning we headed out to conquer Park Güell…the thing is, no one tells you that you have to get your tickets in advance and that you then have a specific entrance time…same goes for the Sagrada Familia. Also, no one told us that you can purchase tickets online ahead of time…Sooooo after we walked all the way to Park Güell and bought our tickets to go inside that afternoon. We then somehow walked from there all the way to the Sagrada Familia only to find out that couldn’t get tickets for the next day in line, you have to get them online…

At that point I was exhausted from walking and so pissed off that we couldn’t just go and see things as we pleased. It took a lot of the fun out of traveling and just became a pain in the ass because we wasted a half a day just figuring out how to “sightsee” in Barcelona.

After that debacle we got on our hop-on hop-off and got to relax and see a lot more of the city, that we hadn’t the day before. Woah, is Barcelona huge…the guide on the bus was listing all of the things you could do in different areas of the city and it was like you could easily spend a week there and still not see/do everything.

At that point we were starving so we picked up baguette sandwiches on our way back to Park Güell …I only mention the sandwiches because 1. they were incredibly delicious (pic to come) and 2. it reminded my mom of when she traveled Europe back in the 80s with my dad. …And so we proceeded to spend 20 minutes trying to recreate a photo in which my dad was eating a sandwich, only instead it was of me eating a sandwich. No, the photo did not turn out…

Okay, so we finally got into Park Güell and….don’t get me wrong it was really really cool/unique but it just wasn’t what I expected. Maybe that has something to do with the fact that my only reference point to Park Güell was how it was portrayed in the Cheetah Girls movie…but still. It was just a lot smaller than the vast openness I had expected.

After that we enjoyed the hop-on hop-off bus some more before doing some shopping around the gothic quarter, getting dinner and calling it a night.

cheers.

~meesh 

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