• Welcome to my travel blog!

    ... where shit gets real and you are magically motivated to explore this world and more importantly-- what life has to offer. Here you can follow my random adventures and learn that you too can Forrest Gump your way through life with no particular destination besides happiness and fulfillment.

    Shut your mouth, open your mind, and live the life you've always wanted.

We did a terrible job planning this trip. It was last minute. We were busy with a million and 1 things going on. Interviews, California, Bathroom Renovations, Shoots, Photobooths, side projects, etc. Our intentions were to visit my parents in Italy and Alek’s Cousin in Scotland.. well..

Scotland is gorgeous…. but cold as balls in January. It wouldn’t be so bad except for the fact that it’s constantly drizzling. And the wind– it cuts through every loose stitch between the seams of your pants and it’s capable of slicing through every possible space between the tightly woven threads of your clothes. Bone Chilling cold that is unrelenting and unforgiving.

With that said– I’ve learned a few things from this trip thus far.

1– Windproof/water resistant pants are LEGIT.

2– Getting To Amalfi Coast from Rome SHOULD NOT take 8 hours.

Despite the typical trustworthy information other bloggers have written as well as the Lonely Planet– European on a shoestring edition 2012… It is NOT easier take a train to Naples then hop the Circumvasuviana train to Sorrento… then take a bus from Sorrento to Amalfi. They can go F-themselves. The circumvasuviana (pronounced CHEERcoomVasuviana) is a local train… that makes 30+ stops and takes 2-3 hours.

In fact– there are other ways that take less time and are much cheaper options that won’t make you want to throw your body off a cliff.

1– TAKE the Speed train from Rome to Salerno… fairs are cheap and quick… between $28-$60 bucks for a 2 hour ride. Then take a SITA bus from Salerno to Amalfi. 3 hours.. $30ish.

2– TAKE the train to Naples. Take a Taxi, bus, or shuttle to Ravello via the backroads. 1 HOUR.

After a long grueling day of travel and having to spend money on unforeseen circumstances–  I will say– it was still a good day. Mainly because we encountered SOOOO many people that were so thoughtful and genuine towards us. All buses stopped running when we got to Sorrento. Apparently during the winter– the city is a ghost town and most things close or stop running earlier than usual…. and/or are closed altogether until April.

We were approached by a taxi driver asked if we needed help and we said– we needed the bus… so… he directed us toward the timetable and explained what everything meant. Basically we were out of luck unless we wanted to pay for another hotel room in Sorrento and forego our reservations in Ravello until the next day. OR We could take the taxi then and there. Taxi it was. We asked if we could stop to grab a bite before driving an hour 1/2 to Hotel Parsifal in Ravello. We stopped at this tiny little local fast food eatery. It was basically a glass window and a monochromatic palette of golden fried objects. Francesco– our driver– basically explained every single thing behind the counter and helped us order. Then he got a few extra things we didn’t order and recommended we try them. And we were SO pleasantly surprised. Typically anything pre-fried and sitting under a heat lamp is going to be stale and tastes like shit. Not so much. They were DELICIOUS! We had a little calzone looking thing… but the bread was perfectly soft and the outside had a perfect high-frequency crunch.

WTF is a high-frequency crunch? It’s really difficult to explain… but I have this theory that not all crunches are made equal and often it’s not always the taste of something that we like, but I’m convinced it’s the texture/sound/frequency of the crunch. I believe most people are drawn to higher pitched crunches. For instance– some crackers– you bite into them and they have a crisp…. a higher pitch/frequency crunch! I.e potato chips, Thin Mints, the crust of fresh french bread. I’m not sure if it’s because something is not as dense but there is a distinct sound/feel that sounds higher pitch…. Vs. Low Frequency Crunch foods… like bagel chips, stale saltines, old toast.

I make this crap up– but it makes sense to me.

—- WHAAAAT. I was really distracted.

Long story short– Italians have a kind demeanor and helpful attitude and the food is so much better than any words can describe. We spend some time in the town of Ravello which is a quaint town perched along cobblestone roads overlooking dramatic cliffs that plummet into crystal blue waters.  During the winter months–Ravello is a ghost town with remnants of what once was bustling which make it easy to explore the ivy lined cobble streets that branch out to countless stairways and ally ways. Around every corner is a jaw dropping view that never seems to disappoint.

Before I made my way to Italy– I always heard of how stunningly beautiful it was. I was skeptical. Surely– it can’t be THAT great. These people must not travel much. Well– I was wrong. Italy IS that beautiful. The food IS that great. The culture IS that warm and welcoming.

But– if you decide to plan a trip– remember to book everything– tours and accommodation, ahead of time. Italy is a well-oiled machine riddled with tourists through out the year. Its not like Asia where they will jam that one extra person on the bus or they will just create an additional tour if the demand is high.

Although winter is the low-season, that doesn’t mean it’s easier to book accommodations or transportation for that matter. That just means options are limited as locals go on vacation during this time of year. Do your research.

Pack in layers for cold, cloudy, and rainy days. Clear days are a gift. Comfortable shoes are a priority. Form and function. Cobblestone roads are ankles’ worst enemy. Heels, wedges, or other “cute” options add insult to injury. Don’t be vain. You will hate yourself if you don’t pack smart.

I packed a black mid-thigh length puffy jacket/shell combo. I got Patagonia’s Tres Jacket as a Christmas gift a while back. It’s functional and flattering and goes with everything. Plus– if it’s raining and warm– use the shell. If it’s cool but dry– puffy– no shell. If it’s cold AND rainy– well poo for you. Layer both jackets. I prefer the mid length because I’m a wuss and I hate being cold. I’m also not a fan sideways wind and rain that results in a soggy butt.

I packed ankle boots by Off the Beaten Track with 3 pairs of Smart Wool Socks. OTBT boots are really comfortable and have a rubber tread with decent grip. They absorb shock well and the soles aren’t slick– which would be a nightmare on wet cobblestone. Smart wool socks dry quickly and wool naturally fights stink. I am typically grossed out by wearing socks without washing… but you can get away with doing that with these socks. Synthetic socks for some reason harbor bacteria, sweat, and stink after 1 use. Wool– not so much. It’s magical.

Resist the urge to pack too much. You will find that you’ll wear the same things over and over again, plus that leaves extra room if you’re a shopper. Italians are known for being effortlessly stylish. You will not be disappointed.

That’s it for now… good luck and happy trails!

My schedule is way off. It’s 9:30 am and I haven’t slept yet. Editing as usual. I sat out on the front porch eating my breakfast/pre-bed snack when I came to the realization that it’s a rare thing to happen upon a person who is well-travelled– and not get along with them. In my head– I’d like to think that it’s beyond the surface of common interests and the love for exploring– but that understood bond goes a little deeper than that. I listened to a book– another self-helper– because naturally– I need all the help I can get. But– it was “You are a Badass” << Highly recommended to those of us who tend to be ass holes to ourselves… >>

I remembered a part in the book that said that if you are more likely to be positive and succeed if you have a lot of faith. Not the religious faith because I definitely do not ascribe to any indoctrinated affiliations that entail guilting people into donating massive amounts of money to a patriarchal bureaucracy. However, I speak of the faith in knowing that my outcome will always be favorable…. if not immediately– eventually. Is that naive to think? Maybe. But it doesn’t hurt.

According to the law of attraction– we get what we put out there. If it’s positivity and if we assume that good will happen…. well, good will happen. If things don’t necessarily go our way– we are still in a positive mindset and we are then programmed to believe that what came and went was for the best anyway. Now– that’s a whole lot of kumbaya bull-shit that I actually do believe in and I happen to live my life in this manner. But I sometimes wonder why positivity is easier to stumble upon for some more than others. Hormones? Genetic Make-up? … Nature…? Or perhaps nurture– experiences, education, and people we’ve come across…

Of course– that methodology doesn’t come naturally to most because I definitely was not born with that mentality. For some reason– my teen years were plagued with the ideation that it’s cool to be above it all and “hate people” and to think that people inherently suck and are selfish and blah, blah, blah. I think it was the massive amounts of pop-punk, teenage angst, emo music that brainwashed me. That or it was my defense mechanism that pushed people away because deep down, if I actually allowed myself to be vulnerable– I knew I would get hurt.

Needless to say, I sought refuge in books that inspired my desire to travel and that was the best thing that ever happened to me. I felt a drastic change in my attitude once I started traveling. The pieces of why I love to travel didn’t really fit until this morning– which is why it prompted me to write this–

With the right mindset going in– with absolutely no expectations whatsoever– traveling has the ability to renew faith in human kind. Again– the key is– to have no expectations at all. For the majority of our lives, the media has been the bug in our society’s ear that insights fear, that sensationalizes the bad, and creates a paranoia that spawns distrust for our fellow man. Rightfully so? Maybe. But a vast majority fails to realize that what we are being spoon fed on repeat via the news is only micron of what’s really going on in the world and paints a false picture of who we share this world with.

So— it seems as though every respecting lady struggles through the woes of purging toxins, uterus linings, and having lady issues all over lady clothing during a public outing. If you have a vagina– you know what I mean. It blows– and not in the two dollar make you holler kind of way. More like a– “damn it, I’m waaaay past my teens, I’m too old for this bull shit– I’m gonna scream” kind of way.

I don’t have any news for my fellow ladies who have terrorizing cramps during that time of month… except try hot water bottles, an otc anti-inflammatory drug– (advil), and avoid coffee at all costs the day before and days of heavy flow. Apparently caffeine will constrict… xyz… causing more pain/pressure/discomfort… I dunno. I get my information from the magic interwebs… I’m not a doctor… look that shit up on google.

Needless to say there are other woes regarding bleeding allover oneself, other people (can’t help you here), favorite clothing, etc. But ladies, ladies, ladies… there are options! Introducing SHETHINX!

SO… I’ll probably still use my trusty Diva Cup on heavy days– but I found these fancy panties. Well– Alek– my boyfriend saw an article several years ago–(he’s an early adopter– it takes me a minute to warm up to the idea) and I never really followed up because it was an introduction article just explaining the product. And then– while I was lamenting over my lady woes a few weeks ago, I remembered the idea– and googled period panties and up popped Shethinx <<  Use the Shethinx Link here:: http://fbuy.me/d5Wej to get a $10 off coupon off of your first order– for new customers!  >>>

The idea is BRILLIANT– especially for the traveling woman who doesn’t want to pack a ton of feminine hygiene products for her trip. And honestly– just for monthly use while not on the road– any way I can minimize what I’m packing, minimize waste, and keep me from waddling around with what feels like a diaper butt– sounds great to me!

I haven’t tried them yet– as I JUST placed my order– but after reading reviews– it seems as though some ladies are wearing them without any other type of protection– which seems very risky to me– bc my flow is heavy the first 2 days… but I’m thinking if I can use it in combination with my diva cup- it’ll be a match made in underwear heaven.

I’ve always been an advocate of the Diva Cup– once used just for conveniences and the glory of packing light while traveling– but then I adopted it permanently. So– a diva cup is a tiny cup you shove up your hooha– for all of you doctor folk that appreciate the appropriate verbiage for female anatomy– and you dump it out every time you use the ladies room. Is it a little messy? Yes. Any less so than tampons…? No. Does it leak every once in a while when you forget and it’s been a minute before hitting a bathroom stall? Yes. But what doesn’t? Does it avoid the obnoxious feeling of a tampon string dangling around up in your junk? YES. Does it avoid the feeling of having to wear a diaper all day…? FO SHO.

Either way– I’ll post more info once I my fancy undies– and I’ll do my best to review my thoughts once I use them!

Until then– happy bleeding!

Today was a tough day. It’s been a crazy year to say the least and will only seem to get crazier for the at least the next few months.

This past weekend– We got a phone call from a private investigator in search of Alek. Apparently, his father was in a coma from complications with renal cancer. We later learned that he was diagnosed with stage IV Renal Cancer that metastasized to his lungs, liver, bones, and abdomen the year before. The kicker– this was news to us because he didn’t tell a single soul. Not his closest friends of 40 years. Not his son– with whom he had lunch with every other Sunday.

It’s a strange thing to witness life drifting from a body. When the last breath escapes– you can’t help but mirror and hold your breath as well. There’s always this painfully optimistic anticipation that when you drink in another sip of life — they will follow suit. And with every passing breath you take– your hopes dwindle and despair sinks deeper and deeper into your gut which inevitably releases the flood gate of emotions. It feels like drowning. The disappointment, the sadness, the confusion. The should haves, would haves, and what ifs. It’s a self-inflicted emotional waterboarding. Every drop represents a scenario that may have happened, failed to happen, or never was, and you find yourself suffocating on guilt and regret.

Lying in front of you is the shell of who you once knew. The physical representation of what once was. The body is motionless and the mind is calm — floating in eternal stillness. They are holistically at peace. What is concrete can seemingly release the anchor of our abstract ideations and allow us to surface from the wrath of our emotions. There is an ebb and flow of sorrow and shock. Deep grieving and then– the numbness takes over like a vacation from the tumult.

They say only time can heal the pain, but what they really mean is– you will think about it every day until your mind is exhausted from rehashing the past. Each day– granuals of memories will accumulate to build a sand castle of emotions.  Eventually– you come to peace with the situation. Eventually– you start to notice the wind carrying off pieces of your past… and eventually the tide rises and a wave of events roll in and the castle dissipates in the wash… Ever so often… the ocean will skim over where your castle once was– animating those granuals of sand in the forefront of your mind… fleeting emotions spark and dwindle…  and then… it all disintegrates in the wash just as quickly as they came to life.

Here we are, there he went, but the memories will forever remain.

So– a girlfriend of mine is putting something together and asked some of her friends to fill out a questionnaire. At first– I wasn’t sure what I was in for… but I really enjoyed answering some of her questions… and I figured why not share some of what I wrote… b/c I suck at creating content. So… this is what you get.

3. If money or time were no object, what is the biggest dream you like to achieve in the next five years?

So– not to sound conceded but– I feel fortunate enough to say that I’ve been living a dream. I travel every opportunity I get. I front loaded my adventures and focused on my personal growth and building a career. I refuse to put off things I really want to do for ‘later’ because sometimes ‘later’ never comes. I see my parents and my friend’s parents and how they struggled–  juggling raising kids early on and trying to build their career…. only to retire and feel the effects of hard work and age take a toll on their body. At a certain point– they just got tired and lost the desire and excitement for travel and exploration. Too much of a hassle. Mama ain’t no spring chicken anymo– and complacency is just so damn comfortable.

So… I decided that I want to have a life full of experiences to share with my kids– with no regrets or resentment for what could have been. Long story longer– seems boring– but having a family and settling down is the next step in my life that I’m pumped about! But– fast forward 5 years later and I reach my goal of being a millionaire in the next 10 years– I’d love to move somewhere out west in a fairly populated area with access to sweeping landscapes. We’d build a house… with a covered garage and an in-law suite. If I’m not going to stay in Atlanta– folks are coming with me!

4. What is the biggest challenge you face right now in living a big, fulfilling life?

Fear. Fear can drive the great and the miserable.

On a daily basis– I must talk myself out of being afraid to do the things I dream of. I have to encourage myself to take ownership of my life because no one will do that for me. If I’m miserable– I have to change my situation and risk the unknown. It’s scary to be out of your comfort zone– but what I fear more is a future full of past regrets.

6. If you could change anything about yourself or your life, what would it be?

I’m constantly auditing myself for things I want to improve on– so it’s a constant battle between who I am and who I want to be…  but currently– I’m really working on being more organized and being better at taking care of my body by drinking more water and working out more. Also–I’m working on building a better relationship with my parents.

So– all of these derived from witnessing my boyfriends father passing away from cancer recently. That type of experience really affected my desire to be healthier and harbor a more fulfilling relationships with our parents.

10. If you had a daughter, what would be the one thing you would want to teach her, or would wish for her to know or learn?

I want her to know that she is in control of her life. I want her to own her existence, her happiness, and her triumphs. I want her to embody her locust of control because nobody can take that away from her. Ultimately– her decisions and how she chooses to perceive situations will determine her path of happiness and I hope that given the opportunity– she sees the positive in every situation.

 


 

So– with this questionnaire in mind– as much as I would LOOOOOOOVE to have a son– of course– I would love to have a daughter. I would love to teach her that it’s OK to be feminine and strong. Babies. Oh man. Can’t wait!