Sunday, September 29, 2013

What's an itinerary?

Here's how to travel to _________ for a week! Only have 3 weeks? Here's exactly where to go when you are here:_______!

This is what I'm seeing when I look online and I always stop to think....

What ever happened to discovery? Going to new places on your own without being told? Making your own on-the-go itinerary and being open-minded to change. What about just booking one night and then making your own decisions once you have in fact seen the city and see where you'd like to head to next?    

Sure myself, as well as others, post where I've/they've been and that's perfectly fine! That's the fun part of traveling. Showing your experiences and memories and bringing joy to others while showing this magnificent world that we live in. 

But there's a difference between writing about your exciting trip and telling someone where to go.  

Being excited about your adventure and writing about it is inspiring to others and hopefully makes someone consider going to that country/doing that adventure. 

But I do not want someone else planning my travels!

What about the amazing places you did not experience because you stuck to your set schedule of what you were doing? Or because you did what someone else did? Is that even considered your trip?

This is for all the travelers out there, including myself, who book their plane tickets and go where they want to go! Kudos to you all! There is so much out there to discover and it would be a shame to have any sort of regret coming back from a trip and realizing you missed out on something.

The number one trip I always have in mind was when I went to Bolivia. Before I went there, I had it in my thoughts to return back to Chile as well. I saw the Santiago area during a previous trip but wanted to head out to the northern region since I was close to the area by being in Bolivia.  But I did not want to set a schedule just in case something special that I didn't know about here in the states popped up in Bolivia.

The time came when I was looking to cross the Bolivian border by land into Chile. The weather was so bad that they closed the roads between Bolivia and Chile and I would not be able to make that trip. If I had planned around that, I would have missed out on a lot. So with no plans, I went straight to Peru! A beautiful country I plan on hopefully moving to towards the end of this year/beginning of the next! *Originally I was thinking Brazil---I'm still going back and forth!

If I had planned my whole trip, I would have not soaked in this incredible world wonder!

Machu Picchu, Peru
  If I had stuck to a planned schedule, I would not have had this spectacular view to see for myself. Not just this trip, but all my adventures, in general. There has been at least one thing I never planned on seeing but had learned about while in the country. 

I'm not a tour guide book reader but what I can assume is that I'm sure not everything is written in the guide books. There are some secret places that are yet to be discovered.

And travel is all about discovery!

So how do I travel?

With no plans of course! I book the plane tickets and just for the day of arrival, I book a hostel for one night. That allows me to figure out what I'm going to do next. Or if I need the day to relax (I have yet to use the first day of travel as a day to relax!). Usually I stay there or I move on to different areas, depending on what the area offers. My schedule is very flexible by doing this. Which I highly recommend because plans don't always stick and issues will sometimes arise. Always have to be prepared for anything! Safety and otherwise.

I do:

Research the country--customs, history, points of interest, safety, food, and ways of travel. That's extremely important to me. I like to be 'one' with the country and not an outsider. To experience it like the locals.

This allows me to be my open-minded and adventurous self. It's absolutely thrilling to travel this way, in my opinion. It's not a rushed schedule at all. It's a go at your own pace traveling style. If you need a day of rest. Take it! If you discovered a new area, book the bus ticket! 

You work so hard to make the money to be able to travel and enjoy yourself. Don't you want to make the best of it? 

As for the future, whether I'm single or not, I still see myself traveling this way. I'll settle in certain places longer than others more as I get older if (and hopefully) I move out of the US permanently as an expat. But it definitely won't stop me from seeing this whole world!

So with all this said, go with your heart and gut. Make and follow your own path, not others. It's your life journey. Make it the best you want it to be!

How do you travel?

Friday, September 27, 2013

Photo of the day - Galapagos Islands

Floreana, Galapagos Islands. 

Off the coast of Ecuador are a beautiful set of islands known as the Galapagos. Pristine and calm islands that are almost all untouched. What I mean by that is these aren't like any normal island you can just head to and go wherever you want. The islands are protected. You can't wander wherever you'd like, like you can on most other islands. You must have a guide outside of the normal ports. One touch on an animal, wildlife, or anything of concern on the islands and you may affect the ecological system. Makes you sit back and appreciate your surroundings and life.

Happy Friday!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Snail Mail Collective: August

A little late but worth the wait!

I joined the Snail Mail Collective last month and it has been great so far! My first partner was Bonnie Rose at A Compass Rose:

We are both hard workers and busy bees plus sometimes snail mail does move at a snail mail pace! We finally got our packages and our faith in the mail system has been restored!

3 beautiful pictures from Bath, England, a wonderfully written postcard, and a super cute UK Bear!

So what can I say that everyone doesn't know about the wonderful Bonnie Rose?

Bonnie is a wife, mother, blogger, and photographer. How she has time to do everything, I don't know, but she is definitely a superwoman! :-)

I had a great time getting to know her and love that we have some things in common and some things we could take from eachother.

Our similarities:
We love dark chocolate, enjoy reading books, loving outdoor adventures like hiking, love desserts that aren't too sweet, we don't like country music, similarities in how we travel, we enjoy food, and we BOTH BLOG! We also talked about our love of homemade scrubs. We exchanged our scrub recipes. Bonnie also gave me her pie crust recipe and I'm excited to try it out! 

What I'd like to learn from Bonnie?
To balance life better! I'm always on the go but need to learn how to slow down, focus on life, and focus on my blog. Bonnie is great at this! As I know everyone knows her. :-)

I had some questions for Bonnie and here are her answers:

When and How did you get into blogging? 

I started in 2005 to share photos of my son after he was born. I stumbled on a friends blog that had one post while waiting to give birth and thought...I want to do that.

What is the most daring thing you've done in all of your travels?

This was not my choice...but man it was thrilling and scary and emotional. I got my phone stolen in my home town of Napoli ( grew up there six years) and had to go to the police station. They brought me in a room with a door in between me and a suspect that I could see through and he was literally inches from my face, really amped up on adrenaline...Something out of a Guy Richie film. It was so freaky! Esp since I didn't know what I was going to be doing with the language barrier that when I was brought in. I was really freaked out. 

What's your favorite country you've been to?

So many...but Austria holds a lot of memories and I cannot wait to take my husband and boys there and eat germknodel again! 

What's the one place you are dying to go to?

That list is very long, but from a place I've never been, Iceland! 

Three places you would like to go to next? (One is Iceland!)

Austria, and then a trip that includes visiting all the places on one visit: Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Denmark. 

Best travel advice you can give?

Stay away from tourists and touristy areas and travel like a local. 

Farthest you have been from home? 

I can't answer this as I don't have a home per se. But farthest I've been from my parents when I was still living with them was being in Australia for a summer while they lived in Arizona. 

Favorite part of going to the beach?

Hearing the waves and smelling the salt air.

Sea creature?

Mermaids Count?

Thoughts on Food?

I love food! Probably my favourites are from places I've traveled as they are tied into memories.  Like Germknodel. 

Comfort food?

Starch...since we try to stay away from it. So like potatoes and chips (French fries). I get my fill with sweet potato mash and sweet potato fries.

Favorite dessert? 

Germknodel. It's a traditional dessert to eat served at the mountain lodges where you go skiing in the alps during winter time. 

Favorite ice cream?

Gelato in Italy...any flavour! 


Dark Chocolate!

Favorite book/s? 

I love Earnest Hemingway's A Moveable Feast followed by a Sun Also Rises. I also love Tolkien's LOTR and the Hobbit, The Chronicles of Narnia, and recently reading the Game of Thrones series. But I could equally read a travel book and be happy. 

What kind of music do you listen to?

Oh all kinds...really almost anything. Depends on my mood. Usually not country though. 

Favorite TV show?

I have quite a few. Some shows I currently love that are in their last season :( are: Burn Notice, Breaking Bad, and Dexter.

And lastly.....

5 items you can't live without!

My camera, may laptop, my glasses, coconut oil, and a good book! 

I had so much fun getting to know Bonnie and I'm so glad I got partnered with her. I hope we get to continue to keep in touch. Love you Bonnie! Check out her blog. She is amazing. :-)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Deep in the heart of Texas!

So I found out Friday I was lucky enough to take the next step in this job opportunity that will hopefully help me in my quest to see the whole world!

I don't want to jinx anything because I am extremely nervous about it so I'll let you all in if I land the job. I'll just say it involves airplanes!

So I'll be heading to Texas on Wednesday.

I'm also hoping for a chance to enjoy some good Texas BBQ.

And get a good job!

I'll be back this weekend.

Do you get the jitters before and during a job interview? Do you have any tips to overcome the nerves?

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Photo of the day - Curaçao

Knip Baai, Curaçao (Netherlands Antilles). What a stunning beach it was. Just gorgeous. If you are looking for an island in the Caribbean that not only has incredible beaches but culture, Curaçao is the island for you. Knip Baai is about 1 to 1 1/2 hours from Williamsted. I recommend, though pricy, staying there a couple days and giving into the relaxation. This is one island I would love to return to someday. Definitely not a backpacker-style island but worth saving up for and enjoying once in your life (or five times, according to a couple my friend and I were talking to on the plane!).

Thursday, September 12, 2013

I see food!

No, I'm not imagining food because I'm hungry and I miss beef (My 30 day beef-less challenge ends Sunday!)

Well....maybe I am! :-)

I finally made a decision. I see food at the end of the tunnel!

I'm  going to keep my other blog.

Yes, I have another one!

I've actually been blogging since 2008, though it shows that I just started blogging this year on this site. Here's my other blog:

It was my own scattered thoughts between food, travel, life, and adventure.

But when I started it, I felt I started on the wrong foot.

I was way to scattered, didn't know what to write, and just bad timing. That's why I'm glad I waited and finally feel more comfortable with this Love A Traveler blog now. I think it was a smart decision to just make this one strictly a travel blog.

But what to do with the other one? Delete it? Leave it hanging?

With much thought, I've decided to keep it and turn it to a strict foodie site. I love food just as much as I love to travel. I grew up very openminded and I tried everything (minus bugs!). I'm not afraid to get daring with my eats and get messy in the kitchen.

I have NEVER followed a recipe before.

Wait...actually ONE time I did but I was forced to! We had a Pinterest party at my last job. (Great idea, huh!) Basically we had to sign up for either an app, side, main dish, or dessert. Then you had to go on Pinterest, find a recipe that appealed to you and follow the exact recipe to see if it actually worked and tasted good!

So I'm turning Peace. Love. And Blueberries. from a mixture of my loves to just about food.

Recipes. Restaurants. Food Events. You name it, I love it!

I won't delete my past posts, so if you ever want to delve in and get a better feel of me, I have everything still up!

So if you love food as much as I do, please check me out on my other blog! If there is anything you see or have any suggestions, please let me know! I'm all ears!

Is there a certain recipe you love that you'd like to see on

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Galapagos Islands

To take away the unpleasant taste that I got from the last post about travel safety, I thought I'd make it up to you all by posting Galapagos pictures from the stunning islands.

I feel better already!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Are you really safe with a tour guide?

The other day I posted a picture I took in the Galapagos Islands on Instagram and although it looked very calm and relaxing, which it thankfully was and definitely is, it hid what I went through that whole week in those incredible islands, which I highly recommend you visit one day.
Dolphin Beach, Isla Isabela
Tortuga Beach, Isla Santa Cruz
Isla Floreana
Now when you go to the Galapagos, you do not need a tour guide to visit the islands and stay in the main ports of each island. BUT you do need a tour guide if you plan on getting out of the main ports. You cannot go off exploring alone. This is their way of protecting the islands, keeping them clean, and for us humans not ruining the wonderful ecosystem. And I respect them for that. I was happy to oblige just to be able to explore this beautiful area of the world.
Now before I continue, I just want to be clear with tour guides, which was the first thing that popped up in my head when I posted that Instagram picture.
I prefer not to take tours. I think they take a lot of time out of your day, some are overly expensive, and are somewhat rushed. That and I like to be one with the locals, not part of a tour group.
But with this said, there are a few points that do make going on a tour worthwhile:
When it is cheaper to go somewhere with a group then to go on your own.
  • I paid US$10 to climb Chacaltaya and go to the Valley of the Moon in Bolivia. If I went on my own, it would have been double to triple the amount.
When you want to do something adventurous and/or dangerous.
  • You can't go zip-lining on your own in Costa Rica, Rappelling in the Andes mountains in Mendoza, Argentina, or Bike on the Worlds Most Dangerous Road in Bolivia. (Oh and you don't really need a tour guide in Machu Picchu. Unless you hike the trail, of course.)
Cooking classes
  • The best way to learn how to cook a certain cuisine is to learn from someone who is familiar with this art or make your way into a locals home or restaurant and just ask!
  • Some people travel to enjoy art, history, museums, and other historical landmarks. The best way to learn is visit the location or go with someone who can teach you something new. 
  • Maybe there is a place you'd like to go to but not safe to go alone? Or maybe you love to travel and don't mind taking a tour to make you feel safe? Everyone has their own way of travel.
*Are you always going to be safe just because you choose to go on a tour? Read on.
Anything you want to add to the list? Let me know!
Now where am I going with this? Mainly it's about the last point on the list above. How do you know you can trust your guide and feel safe? What if you are a solo female traveler and you are alone with a guide? Are you really safe?
It may be the best experience of your life. Or maybe it is the worst decision you've ever made?
I'm not trying to scare you. I'm just trying to make it aware that you still need to have your guard up whether you are on a tour or not, especially as a solo female traveler.

To be fair, I have had many taxi drivers offer to help me out, keep me safe, and drive me around for the same cost as taking a bus or any other transportation. And they were some of the nicest people I've ever met. So kind and helpful. The untrustworthy tour guide scenario is not always common but it can happen. Better to always just be prepared.
Nature is beautiful

Friends for life. :-)
So to continue with my story...
I found a great deal with a tour guide for my week adventure in the Galapagos Islands. I was there in July* of 2010. It was about $550 for a week! That's like 1/4 to 1/2 less than what you'd normally pay for a tour guide there. Amazing deal! It covered my guide, trips, places to stay, boat rides, and any tickets I needed. (I paid the round-trip flights and $100 entrance fee at the airport separate from the guide.)
*Water was very rough during this month and you will probably have the worst seasickness of your life. Many boats later after this trip and my body has yet to recover from the rides in the Galapagos!

I didn't know if others were going to be there with me or if I was going to be alone. Either way, I was just happy to be there.
After I arrived and everything was taken care of, I found my guide, and saw that I wasn't going to be alone. There was a German couple with me, who also booked the same days I did, though leaving a day after me.
Everything was great and well-planned. I ended up staying on both Santa Cruz and Isabela Island and spent time on Floreana Island, the oldest island in the Galapagos. Still many islands left to explore which means I need to go back!
We went to different restaurants and ate the amazing food, visited the Iguana man, and saw as much nature as we could. Nothing was out of the ordinary.
Concha Perla Bay

Playa del Amor
Night 1: He was trying to get us to go out and get 'wasted'. The German couple were tired* and went to bed. And I was not going alone with him. Didn't think too much into it.
*Time difference: They were tired at night and awake in the morning. I was wide awake at night and could not get up at 6 in the morning (4am Pacific/California time)*
Night 2: Guide: Let's go out and drink Coco Locos! The couple went to bed and I took in the beach/ocean on my own to relax.
Day 3: We spent time at Playa del Amor. He asked me how many kids I wanted and if I was single. He also said he wouldn't mind having a child with me because our kids would be 'beautiful'.
Night 3: Guide to me: Let's go out and have fun! Drink a lot! You are young! And very beautiful. I'll take care of you and make sure you make it to your bed. Can I kiss you? Me: No thank you!
- This whole time, I want to make clear the German couple were having fun and we were both doing our own things but they were also noticing what was going on and making sure I was okay. They were great and I still keep in touch with them. -
Day 4: At another beautiful beach, one of the island boys was being 'flirtatious' with me. The guide was obviously jealous. His actions showed pretty well. He also told me I didn't need a boy. I needed a man.
Night 4: (I was so embarrassed) We wanted to have a big dinner as a group and some others who we met that day at a nice island eatery. The guide had to announce to me loud enough so everyone could hear:
"I want to mix my genes with your genes!"
I was in complete shock. The German guy whispered in my ear: "I have had enough of this. We are not letting you out of our site and you need to be careful. We don't want anything bad to happen to you. His behavior is not okay and we are going to report* this if able to."
*You are allowed and are encouraged to complain about a guide not complying with the rules and/or has poor behavior while in the Galapagos.
Night 5: We all went out but the couple weren't feeling well so they left. I went to grab my things and the guide tried to stop me to dance with him. I politely and firmly said I was leaving and no thanks. I left and hurried back to catch up with the couple. The guide stayed out late and returned back to his hotel room in the wee hours of the morning. But before that he was knocking on my door loud to, I'm guessing, 'make sure I made it safely back to my room alone'. I didn't open the door.
Day 6 and 7: Because he didn't get what he wanted, he pretty much left us with someone else to fulfill his end of the bargain with our week deal and went back to Ecuador to take care of a tour he had in Banos, Ecuador. I was so relieved!
Isla Santa Cruz
This was my first solo adventure. Despite his advances towards me, I was still able to enjoy the trip and the magnificent offerings of the islands. He kept his comments mainly out of all the tours and activities. If I had been alone and the German couple were not around, I most likely would have ate the costs and ditched the guide. My safety, body, and mind are more important to me than money.
His name is:
Jhover Alvarez
Guia Naturalista 3
Parque Nacional Galapagos
Now you see, just because you are on a tour or with a tour guide, it does not mean you are safe. In some instances, you are better off alone.
Whether you are a guy or girl, you still need to be aware of your surroundings and put your safety first - tour or no tour.
Have you ever had an unpleasant experience with a tour guide?

Monday, September 2, 2013

Photo of the Day - Brazil

The Amazon River, Manaus, Brazil
Is there one place you just have to see? The one place you have dreamed about your whole life? Of course you want to see the whole world, but there's just this one place that you need to see. With your eyes. In person.
Well that place for me was the Amazon. I can't even tell you who told me about it back in elementary school or if I learned about it but since ELEMENTARY school, I have been dreaming about the Amazon. I was fascinated by the river, by the rainforest, by the endless adventure possibilities. I just had to go there. While I had been dreaming about the Amazon my whole life, I never really thought it would happen.
But you know what? Dreams do come true when you work hard and you set goals.
My first trip out of the country was Argentina and Brazil and I made darn sure I was going to go to the Amazon.
The biodiversity here. The beauty. The natural fruit and medicines here. Endless rainforest. Beautiful people. Just magnificent.
My goal now is to see it in every country it runs through.
So far I have:
This is the one place you need to really see for yourself.