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wandering Lion by Christian Grotewold - 3w ago
My adventures have resumed! This time, I got the opportunity to travel to the incredible country, Peru! When an incredible opportunity like this is presented to you, you ALWAYS take it. I have heard wonderful things from this place from my family, and being a country of adventure, I was ready to pack my bags the moment the trip was booked. During my travels, I visited the iconic places but also got to experience some truly hidden gems. During most of our stay, we booked our excursions through Peru Jamuy, and I highly highly HIGHLY recommend this travel agency. They were super professional and treated my mom and I like royalty. Our tour guides were extremely knowledgeable and the sweetest people I have met.
We began our adventures in Cusco, which is located 3,399 meters above sea level... so be ready to feel a little light headed! Luckily for us, every place you go to offers the magical tea, Mate de Coca, which helps you with the altitude and gives you energy. Our tour began within the city of Cusco, where we learned everything about the Inca Empire. We learned about their mythology, rituals and traditions, and their architecture - their city was literally built in the shape of a puma... genius! As the tour progressed, we kept getting higher and higher in the city until we reached the highest point of Cusco. At the top of the city, you can find the Water Temple or The Fountain of Youth - which you are forbidden from drinking from (sad).
The next day we went to The Sacred Valley of the Incas. I have seen mountains, but never as beautiful as these. I honestly could not stop staring at them. During our journey, we met the famous llama, Chulo, which knows many languages and even knows how to kiss on the cheek... or in my case she wanted to kiss my mouth! During one of our stops, we performed a ritual to give thanks to the Pachamama, Mother Earth, and that has been one of my favorite experiences ever. Small and simple, but with a powerful meaning. We reached the village of Ollantaytambo, where we would climb 200 steps to reach the Temple of the Sun. In the mountain directly in front of the Temple of the Sun, you could see a face in the middle of the mountain. It was said that the craving was their main God, Apu Qun Tiqsi Wiraqutra (I did not attempt to even say that out loud, I knew I would completely butcher it), truly magical. By the end of the day, my mom and I waited in the main plaza where we enjoyed our very first Pisco Sour while we waited for our train that would take us to... Machu Picchu!
We arrived to Aguas Calientes, Machu Picchu late at night so I did not get to really see much of the village until the next morning. I was obsessed. The entire place looks like something out of a story book - HUGE mountains surrounding the village, bridges connecting the two sides of land separated by a river, and an overall incredible atmosphere. Being named "Aguas Calientes" I was obviously curious if there were any thermal waters around... and there were! They are located high up in the village and they are a series of naturally heated pools. It is said that these water have healing powers, so I am excited to never get sick again. I highly recommend going to the pools at the end of your excursion to the ruins, it is the perfect way to end a highly active day. Also, make sure to book your train tickets far in advanced because it is the ONLY way to get to Machu Picchu and they sell out and are very expensive.
Considered one of the new Wonders of the World, Machu Picchu, is a place not to be missed. Be sure to wear comfortable clothing, pack very light, bring your passport so you can get a free Machu Picchu stamp on it, and go to the bathroom beforehand because you will not be able to go for about 3 hours. The ruins are truly something to behold with the Andes in plain sight as well. The creation of it baffles me and the fact that it was discovered just recently, means that the ancient civilization knew what it was doing in building it at the top of the highest mountains. Something that I really found interesting was the fact that nobody knows the real name of this area, Machu Picchu was the name given to the mountains so the real name remains unknown. If you ever get the chance to travel to Peru, add this to the "MUST" list.
Our adventures in Cusco and Machu Picchu had come to an end, but that was not the end of our journey! It was time to head back to Lima. Our flight was very early in the morning, and because I failed to pack accordingly for the DRASTIC weather changes... I was freezing. Literally the weather in Peru goes from freezing to very hot in a matter of hours. Once in Lima, we drove to the area we were going to stay at, Miraflores. This area is super modern and definitely very Americanized. I recommend going to Larcomar, which is a really cute mall overlooking the ocean. You will find many shops and restaurants to satisfy your every craving. We took a city tour bus that took us through all of historic and modern Lima, a definite must if you want to learn more about the capital of Peru.
Our final stop was Huacachina, the oasis! I cannot tell you enough how much I fell in love with this place. First of all, I have NEVER been to the desert, and much less an oasis... so this was such an incredible experience. Huacachina is located 4 hours away from Lima and you can get there by booking a bus in advance. I recommend staying a night or two here, it is the perfect way to end an action-packed trip. We took a city tour, where one of our stops was a wine and liquor tasting... we might have gotten a little drunk here. To end our adventures, we went on a buggy ride and sandboarding in the desert! If you like rollercoasters, then the buggy ride is definitely for you. The sandboarding scared me a little because the sand dunes were VERY high, but our instructor was very professional an eased my worries.
Our final day was a well-deserved relaxing one, we stayed in our hotel at Huacachina and explored the village for a bit. It is a very small place with a handful of restaurants and hotels, so you will see the entire place in maybe 30 minutes. But, you can always go for a boat ride, or relax poolside at your hotel. A truly hidden gem, I highly recommend experiencing this beautiful place.
A truly unforgettable experience. I am eternally grateful for every opportunity I get to explore our world a little more. And, even more grateful to do it with my Wonder Woman of a mother. I love you mom.
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wandering Lion by Christian Grotewold - 1M ago
If you know me, you know that I am OBSESSED with tattoos. I have a total of 20 tattoos so far, and I am not stopping any time soon. Throughout my ink history, I have gotten tattoos from different artists both from Guatemala and from New York, and they all have done wonderful art on me. But, I have been going to one particular artist for three years and I have to say... I will be staying with him until one of us retires from the game. Dear readers, I want to introduce y'all to Fernando Chiu! If you are in Guatemala, you can find him at Soul's Anchor Tattoo and for those in the USA, check him out on Instagram, @ferfectus, because... he will be going to New York! Fernando will be tattooing in NYC from May 22 - 25. I know many of you have shown interest in my most recent tattoos, so here's your chance of getting a masterpiece on you by my artist! Just shoot him a DM on Instagram, and schedule an appointment with him. Let him know that you were referred by me.
Now, allow me to convince you even more why you should get inked by him by taking you through all 7 tattoos I have gotten with Fernando.
Tattoo #1: Gerty's Paw Print
It all began on January of 2016. I was looking for a new artist in Guatemala and a dear friend suggested I go to Soul's Anchor Tattoo, where she had just gotten a beautiful watercolored elephant. I was very impressed by the technique that I did not have to second guess my decision. I wanted to immortalize my Golden Retriever, Gerty, and decided a paw print would be ideal. I remember I could not find black ink to create the print, so I used rainbow ink and it turned out to be an even better idea! I presented my design to the studio and I got paired up with Fernando. As he was working, we began chatting and we bonded over our love for geeky things. By the end of the session, I not only was blown away by the INCREDIBLE work he had done, but I was also happy I had found my new artist. Later that year, my Gerty passed away but she will always be with me.
Tattoo #2: Sibling Pokemon/Zelda Tattoos - Umbreon with Tatl + Espeon with Tael
My sister and I have always wanted to get something together, and we both love Pokemon and Zelda so we combined those two ideas to create our ultimate sibling tattoo! I got the brother Eevee evolution, Umbreon, with the sister Zelda fairy, Tatl and my sister got the sister Eevee evolution, Espeon, with the brother Zelda fairy, Tael. This was my sister's first tattoo with Fernando, and she was VERY happy with how hers turned out.
Tattoo #3 and #4: Hedwig and Gemini Constellation
My third tattoo with Fernando was Hedwig from Harry Potter, being the HUGE Potter Head that I am, it was no surprise I would be getting more tattoos inspired from my favorite book series. I presented Fernando with the idea about how I wanted warm and cold colors to be watercolored into the design. I let him have creative freedom over what colors to use and where to put them, and the final result was beyond stellar. Then, for my fourth tattoo I was still in the color-frenzy and asked him to create a Gemini constellation with universe/galaxy colors. Again, for this design I only showed him how I wanted it more or less and let him play around with the coloring. To be honest, it feels fantastic to have that much trust in an artist. I know his work is the absolute best and if you let an artist have some fun with it, it will turn out even better.
Tattoo #5: Saint Michael Archangel
It was time for me to switch up the designs a little, I wanted to go back to black for my next tattoos and give them a new twist. So, for my next tattoo I asked Fernando to create my own homage to my guardian angel, Saint Michael Archangel. I decided to part from the usual angel portraits that people get and make my angel a sketched one!
Tattoo #6: Narnia
A simple, yet detailed tattoo with a powerful meaning. It had been years since I went this simple for a tattoo, and somehow Fernando made it look STUNNING! I wanted the iconic lamp post from Narnia with a quote from the series that says "some journeys take us far from home, some adventures lead us to our destiny". As you can see, I truly am a geek with all these tattoos!
Tattoo #7: Greek God of Wine, Dionysus
My latest tattoo is in honor of Greek culture. I have always loved Greece's history and mythology so I wanted to honor it by getting my favorite Greek God. I have to say, this tattoo could really take the cake with the level of work it has on it. If you look closely, most of the tattoo is shaded by pointillism and the Greek column even has cracks on it! The more I look at it, the more details I find. What I loved about this particular experience was how impressed Fernando was with his own work. Even his girlfriend was speechless with his latest work of art!
Whatever your desired design is, Fernando is sure to pull it off even better than you thought. I have gotten very different tattoos with him, and every single one he has absolutely nailed. Take advantage of getting inked by him while he is in New York! Once again, he will be in NYC from May 22 - 25 and his handle is @ferfectus and just let him know that you were sent by me!
Happy inking!
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wandering Lion by Christian Grotewold - 2M ago
Over this past weekend, I had the pleasure of staying at one of Guatemala's most up-and-coming hotels, the Hyatt Centric! This lux hotel is located in Avia in Zone 10, and it is perfectly located for anyone who is coming to visit the country and wants to be somewhere in the middle of all the action. I have previously wandered about the hotel and Avia; gone to some of its bars and restaurants. But it was until this past weekend, that I actually had the full experience.
As soon as you step foot in the lobby, you are greeted by magnificent art. I got extra lucky because they had sawdust carpets in honor of Holy Week, which begins today for all Latin American countries. The entire hotel is decorated with artwork that honors the many cultural aspects of Guatemala.
Within the lobby, you can find multiple lounges that are open to the public, along with a bar and a coffeeshop that is open 24 hours! (Literally dream come true.) The entire concept of these areas are absolutely fantastic, it feels very modern but at the same time it feels very Guatemalan. I definitely recommend trying out the coffeeshop for a quick bite with friends, hey... it's even a nice place for a cute date!
Traveling for business and not pleasure? This hotel has you completely covered with multiple conference and show rooms! Just a quick walk up the stairs in the lobby and you get access to the business center, which also comes equipped with a kids zone.
The rooms... OMG the rooms! When I opened the door, I was completely blown away by the beautiful hotel room I was in! They come with modern Guatemalan art, complimentary coffee and water bottles, and a super comfy robe that I wanted to wear the entire time. The bathroom is fully equipped with the best grooming products, state of the art showers, and INCREDIBLE bathroom lighting - perfect for selfies. These rooms keep the business man/woman in mind as well, since it comes with a giant desk. Once all work and play are done, the room's bed will welcome you to a really deep deep DEEP slumber. It has been a while since I slept that well!
What says luxury more than a rooftop pool overlooking the entire city? The hotel's Zielo Bar is THE place to be! This are has two floors, the downstairs area, which is open to the public and the second floor which has a guest-only pool. After I explored the entire hotel, I spent hours at the pool enjoying it's wide variety of drinks and some good company. Since it is located at the top of the building, there is a lot of wind and it can get chilly, but worry not - it is a heated pool! I suggest the blue Margarita, delicious and strong! The Zielo Bar might be exclusive for hotel guests, but at night make sure to stop by because it is open to the public and it is definitely a good time.
After a wonderful night, I highly recommend you try the hotel's buffet. It is a full spread of literally anything you could think of for a delicious brunch! They have everything from fresh fruit to gluten free bread! I stuffed myself with all these delicious foods, that I did not eat for the rest of the day. Pro tip: get the green juice!
Whether you are looking for a quick escape, a different Guatemalan experience, or a romantic night, the Hyatt Centric is the perfect spot! Honestly, it is so conveniently located that I might just move in.
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wandering Lion by Christian Grotewold - 2M ago
Now that I will be back home in Guatemala for a bit, I needed to look for a gym that satisfied my needs for a healthy lifestyle. Within the first few days, I had some gyms in mind but none stood out more than Orange Theory Fitness. I have heard of this franchise before, since you can find them in the USA as well. So it really was a no brainer for me to choose to sign up with them for a few months. The facility I chose is conveniently located a block away from work, something that I ALWAYS take into consideration because I hate driving and refuse to take public transportation in Guatemala.
For those of you not familiar with Orange Theory Fitness, the core of it is based on a science called Orange Theory - where the body creates a metabolic after-burn effect when working out in the "orange zone" for about 12 minutes. OTF is not like a regular gym, it is a class-based workout, where a group of people are coached and motivated by a certified trainer. The classes last for about an hour (and some are 90 minutes long), and you track your progress with a monitor that tells you your heartbeat, calories burned, and splat points. Splat points are measured by each minute a person spends in the orange and red zones of the workout. The more points you get, the better! Also, no class is the same - I have been going for about a week and each class is completely different from the last. You have the option of beginning the class on either the treadmill, row machine, or strength station. I personally like to begin running, since it gets my heart beat racing faster.
The atmosphere is super friendly, which is always a plus for me. As soon as you walk in, you are greeted by an incredible team and the trainers are always at high energy and will accommodate you to any lesions you might have. The facility is super clean and it's equipped with showers, bathrooms, and lockers. One particular aspect I really like are the motivational quotes that are posted throughout the location.
If you are interested in trying it out, you can sign up for one free class! I was lucky that one of my best friends picked her free trial on a day where the workout was in partners, so we worked together to get as much distance in the row machine as possible. And to be honest, working out is always more fun when you are doing it with a motivated group of people who have a common goal. For my USA readers, you can check out your closest location here and for my Guatemalan readers, check it out here. I hope to see some of you in one of the classes!
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wandering Lion by Christian Grotewold - 3M ago
If you have been following my travels for the past few years, then you know I am completely obsessed with France. France was the first country I visited when I first came to Europe for the first time, almost 3 years ago. And now, it has a special place in my heart... such a place that I have come back every year since my first time. Maybe one year I will actually come during spring or summer.
As soon as I checked into the hotel, I made my way to my first stop, the Eiffel Tower! I highly recommend taking the metro or an Uber to Trocadéro, since it is really the best spot to take pictures with the tower in the background. This time around, I had to wait a little bit since they are doing some construction and there are HUGE cranes right in the middle of the pictures. Luckily, the cranes rotate and if you get the angle just right, then you will get a decent shot.
Once I was satisfy with the hundreds of pictures I took (and had random strangers take of me with my guidance), I made my way to Champs Elysées. Here, I took my time going store to store and appreciating the Parisian fashion. What I particularly liked was that some stores had begun decorating for spring!
The following day was a very special one to me. I went back to Mont Saint Michele! This incredible structure is very close to me because of two things: it looks like Hogwarts and it is dedicated to my Guardian Angel, Saint Michael Archangel! The journey here was a long one, so be prepared to spend an entire day of traveling and sight-seeing. It takes about 4 hours to get there from Paris, so I recommend leaving really early in the morning. The market place that is in the grounds of Mont Saint Michele is absolutely beautiful and it always makes me want to have some food and coffee in every single place I see. It kind of reminds me of Diagon Alley from Harry Potter, so even more reason to be obsessed. This time around, the area that was under renovation at the top of the church was fully habilitated and OMG... it literally looked like the Hogwarts gardens where the students hang around! If you are ever in France, this is a definite must.
The next day was dedicated to the arts. I went to the Louvre and let me tell you something... I still have not seen it all! This is my third time at the iconic museum and I have yet to see everything. I always like seeing some of the iconic works of art, and then I make my way through corridors that I know I have not gone through and I always find myself in new areas. This time around, I reached two new favorites of mine: the Greek Courtyard and Napoleon's rooms. Each sculpture and room left me in such awe, the beauty of each object was absolutely remarkable. Next time, I will try to maybe skip my favorite works of art in an attempt to fully see the museum.
This year, I finally did something I promised myself I had to do when in Paris, go to the towers of Notre-Dame. Both times in the past that I have gone, it has been too late and they wouldn't let me up the towers because it was starting to get dark. I recommend going early so you secure a good time slot, and my personal piece of advice: select the 11:50am slot and you will truly experience the song "The Bells of Notre Dame", they will be ringing when you get up there at noon.
A new area I went to, that's located just a few blocks from Notre Dame, was the Hotel de Ville (City Town Hall). This is a BEAUTIFUL building with a carousel right in front of it, so perfect for many many MANY pictures. Seeing structures like these really make me want to move to Paris just to feel like I am royalty 24/7.
I made my way to another one of my favorite places in Paris, Montmartre, and visited the Sacré-Cœur basilica. Honestly, these religious structures always amaze me no matter how many times I see them. After spending some time in the church, I made my way to the artist alley just around the corner and looked for my favorite place to get mulled wine, Chez ma Cousine! We stumbled upon this place the first time I was here and we were drawn in by the conveniently placed mulled wine. Needless to say, I have become loyal to the restaurant.
My last day was dedicated to fashion, in honor of it being the last day of Paris Fashion Week. I made my way to both Printempts and Galeries Lafayette to submerge myself in all of the designer fashion. Walking around both facilities had my wallet's mouth watering, I wanted to get so many things... but I am traveling light so I had to pick only ONE thing. After my fashion adventure, I decided on a Kenzo bag that literally yelled my name. It is a limited edition bag with the lettering being written in Kung Fu style, and the embroidery is a fusion of a tiger and a dragon (remember my first tattoo? It's a ying yang of a tiger and a dragon!)
France is one of my favorite countries, and maybe one day I will move here... who knows! But I do need to brush up on my French before that happens. I had a lovely time, and it was even more special because I got to share it with my mom for her 50th (golden!) birthday! I love you so much, mom! I am excited to see where our next adventure takes us.
Je t'aime Paris, à bientôt.
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wandering Lion by Christian Grotewold - 3M ago
Welcome to the family, Khaleesi! If you know me, you know I have been dying for a French Bulldog for years but never was able to get one because the time was not right. Now, everything fit perfectly into place and I was able to get my beautiful Frenchie! I got her in Guatemala and yes, I do plan on bringing her back with me to New York... but I have to get her fully trained and medically ready for travel. Expect to see her slaying the New York City streets by the end of September.
I have known for years what my Frenchie's name was going to be, primarily because I am a geek to the core and usually name my pets after iconic characters from books or series I obsess over. I also always say that my dogs are my queens or princesses, so I wanted a name that already meant that. "Khaleesi" means "queen" in the Dothraki language of the Game of Thrones books, and my favorite character from that series is Daenerys Targaryen, better known as "The Khaleesi". Since I wanted that specific name, I also wanted my dog to resemble the character, silver blonde or white, and I was lucky enough to find one!
I've had pets my entire life, mainly dogs, and all have been trained by me. I have also educated myself throughout the years as to how to properly train dogs, so I was not worried at all. My mom, on the other hand, worried that because my best friend was visiting Guatemala with me, that it would hold back on our adventures. I told her that the first few days of having a puppy are CRUCIAL, the puppy needs to know who her human is and whom to trust. Besides, if she is going to be traveling, I need her to get used to it from an early stage. As soon as we picked her up, I got her a collar and leash to get her used to being by my side. At first, she fought and tried to get loose but you just have to make her see that there is no harm and have patience.
Khaleesi came with us to Antigua, and was surprisingly super well behaved. We wanted to go out at night, so I already knew that she would have to be put in a room and risk her howling. My tip on this is to exhaust the puppy as much as possible, clear the room she will be in from anything she could potentially chew on, and set up a bed for her with food and water on the side. This will help her see that there is nothing wrong in the room and will make her feel more comfortable when she is alone. When we came back from our night out, she was fast asleep and had no issue falling back asleep when I brought her with me to bed. Now, what about potty training? That's something that requires even more patience. Best advice I can give is to take out your puppy in the morning, afternoon, and before bedtime so they can do their business. I always congratulate her when she goes to the bathroom outside, and yes, I scold her if she ever pees inside the house.
Within the first few days, Khaleesi learned the basic commands any dog should know: stay, come, and no. Even my mom was surprised to see how much she had learned in just a few days. She even said Khaleesi is better behaved than a child! My little angel came into my life at the perfect time, and I am beyond happy to have her in my life. You will definitely be seeing more of Khaleesi in my blogs, and she even has her own Instagram now! If you want to follow her, it's @khaleesifrenchie. Once again, welcome to the family Khaleesi!
I love you.
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wandering Lion by Christian Grotewold - 4M ago
I am in love. In love with life, in love with my family, in love with my friends, in love with fashion, and in love with traveling. But, I am not in love with someone. Relationships are a topic I have tried to steer clear from, and I rarely ever post anything romantic on any of my social media platforms. Primarily because I would like to keep that aspect of my life private, until I know I have found The One. Yet it has become increasingly hard for me to even want to keep looking for The One. Maybe it is because of the society we live in now where monogamy is hard to find, or maybe I am not looking in the right place. It is probably a combination of the two... or... I am just THAT picky with who I want.
With Valentine's Day coming up and other things in my life fast approaching, I have begun to think more about love. Actually, the topic has been brought up many times in the recent months and it has definitely peaked my interest and the desire to talk about it. If you know me, then you know that I am a very happy and loving human being - I always see the best in people and want the best for them. So for me, loving someone comes as second nature. I recently spoke with one of my friends who said that the person they are in a relationship with has not said "I love you" because of past experiences. That confused me, because I honestly do not know what it is to not love someone that is close to you - or even in a relationship with! I understand that love is different with every person, and that might be where I fail when looking for my perfect match... I expect to find the same level of love I am willing to give.
Another occasion happened when I told one of my friends, in a playful tone, that I loved them, to which they answered with "love? That is a strong word". My friend might have been joking, but I could feel that maybe they were not and that confused me again. Do people not want to be loved? Do people not want to hear that they are loved? Maybe. To each their own. I like expressing my feelings, especially if they are good ones towards my friends and family.
I remember every single crush I have had on someone. Every. Single. One. I remember expressing that affection during birthdays and holidays back in school in Guatemala with little cards and gifts, but I was turned down every time. Being the little immature child that I was, I remember being devastated every time... but it all changed when I moved to NYC and was no longer being turned down by people I liked. Nevertheless, I did get my heart broken a few more times. Three times to be exact. The last one was perhaps the most painful one since it was with someone I had been in a relationship with for almost 2.5 years. (Surprised? Yes, I was in a relationship and like I said, I like keeping my love life private.) Since then, I have been cautious with who I give my heart to and that is where dating apps come into play.
Oh dating apps... I have a love/hate relationship with them. I have gone on disaster dates and I have gone on some pretty fantastic ones. Whenever I think I went on a really good one, it will be great for a week or so... but then all interest is lost and it is usually from the other person. I could create a whole new friend group with the amount of people that have told me "we can be friends". I don't blame them, if I am not what they are looking for, then why lead each other on? I go through phases where I will only go on dates through apps or I will delete all of the apps for months and see if I can do it the old-fashioned way. Both ways have worked to be honest, I have met some pretty great people but I have made stronger connections with the ones I have met without the use of apps.
I grew up surrounded by love. My family gave me enormous amounts of love, and I also would be wrapped up in all the books I read and movies I watched that had some type of romance in them. Call me a hopeless romantic, but I do believe in soul mates and true love.
I had a goal in my love life, one that I would still like to achieve but by now I have learned that everything happens for a reason and to just be patient. I am not giving up on romantic love. I will continue to express my love for my friends and family - they all deserve it! And I know that someday I will find The One. And when I do, I might post about it or I might not... I might just post about it when I finally get married... or have my first kid... or not at all. It is my love life, and as long as I am happy there is nothing in the world that can bring me down.
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wandering Lion by Christian Grotewold - 5M ago
When one of my good friends from high school recommended that my New Year's Resolution be to visit a friend each month, I took him up on the offer and visited him first in Seattle. I have never been to this city or the rest of Washington state, and pretty soon I was looking at flights and the best time to have a little weekend getaway. I must say, I am in desperate need to go back and explore even more!
I landed in Seattle early Saturday morning, and right off the bat my friend began giving me the grand tour of his city. We first stopped at a super cute vegan restaurant called Araya's Place and helped ourselves to the delicious buffet they had. Having been traveling for some time on an empty stomach, this was just what I needed to give me energy for the rest of the day. Plus, it gave us time to fully catch up on each other's lives since we had not seen each other for almost 8 years!
Being the sucker that I am for cute cafes, we stumbled upon one called Third Culture Coffee, which served different a wide variety of coffees that I actually have not tried. The aesthetic of the place was just perfect, well lit, friendly staff, and of course... delicious coffee! If you are ever in the Bellevue neighborhood, I highly recommend you stop by and try the Spanish Bombon.
A sweet exclusive experience I got was to see the Microsoft Campus. My friend works for the company and he showed me around the entire place... I was blown away by this place. I have not seen any work/office area like this, it truly feels like a campus. It has everything you can think of: cafeterias, hair dressers, eye clinics, basketball and baseball courts, and even tree houses! I think the tree houses are what impressed me the most. They actually use them for conferences, but you can always book them for the weekend and enjoy some boardgames with coworkers and friends.
Another company that has incredible office space opportunities is Amazon. We visited The Spheres in Seattle and just by looking at the structure I was obsessed! The spheres are essentially an alternate work space that people can book in advance and change up their surroundings while they work. Think of it as working inside the Amazons, that's what the Spheres are like - a place where humans and plants can thrive together.
Our next stop was the Pike Place Market - home of two VERY iconic places: The Gum Wall and... the first Starbucks! The market sits above the harbor and it has many great places to eat, so wherever you eat you are sure to get a great picture! Within the farmers market, you can find just about anything you want - from fresh fruit to home made goods, and it has many levels to it. We only walked the first level, but I will definitely explore more next time I visit.
Our final stop of the day was the Starbucks Reserve Roastery and... oh my God. This place gives you a whole new experience to coffee. They have just about every single way you can make and drink coffee. Plus, the roastery has its own pizza station, bar, library, and gift shop - the perfect experience if you ask me! After visiting Seattle's roastery I am sure to make a visit to the Starbucks Reserve that just opened in NYC!
Sunday was a more relaxed and short day. We had a delicious brunch at Eques and made our way to the Sky View Observatory that overlooks all of Seattle and even showcases Mt. Rainier, The Olympic Mountains, and The Cascade Mountains. I have seen mountains, but not like this. It was a breathtaking view, one that my iPhone camera could not do it justice. We stayed here for a decent amount of time just because the view was that beautiful. Our next stop was the Museum of Pop Culture and the Space Needle. The art and the architecture of the entire area is unbelievable, I could not stop looking around! There is something for everyone in this area. We ended our afternoon and evening by going to one of my friend's friend's place for taco time. There I met up with another of my friends from high school and made new friends that would come with us to our adventure the next day.
I have never snowboarded in my entire life, but I recently had been craving this experience and the perfect opportunity came along by visitng my friend! Unlike me, he is an experienced snowboarder and gave me some tips and equipment to help me get started... and to calm my nerves. We got up early in the morning, picked up our friends and made our way to Stevens Pass, a beautiful resort for skiing and snowboarding. Here, I took a beginner snowboarding lesson (HIGHLY RECOMMEND) where I learned all the basics of the sport. The instructor was super friendly and the other adults I was with were cool too - given that we all had something in common, sucking at snowboarding. By the end of the lesson, my fear was gone and I felt ready to take on some hills on my own. Fell down a lot, but I never gave up and kept on going back up the hill to keep practicing! I am now obsessed with snowboarding and will absolutely look for more opportunities to keep practicing the sport.
Thank you so much, Daniel, for an incredible experience. You were a magnificent host and tour guide and I could have not asked for a better friend to show me around a new city and a new sport!
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wandering Lion by Christian Grotewold - 5M ago
What better way to ring in the new year, than to spend it at the most magical place on Earth? I spent my last day and the first hours of 2019 at Disney's Animal Kingdom and Epcot, and it was literally the best way to end and start a new year. The last time I had been to Disney World was when I turned 22, but I only went to Magic Kingdom. The last time I went to any of the other parks... I was about five years old. The fun did not just end at Disney though, I also went to Busch Gardens and The Kennedy Space Center!
We began the day by going to Animal Kingdom, and we explored the entire park. We checked out all the areas, and were blown away by the Avatar section, Pandora! I loved the movie so much that seeing the movie come to life in front of my eyes was absolutely magical. My favorite attraction though... The Festival of the Lion King. I knew that was the one attraction I absolutely could not miss. Being as obsessed as I am with the movie, this should not come as a surprise that I almost cried watching the performance... it was that beautiful and moving. We only spent the morning at Animal Kingdom because we had the rest of the world waiting for us at Epcot!
Oh, Epcot. This is definitely the Disney park for adults. I have heard many things about this park now that I am of age and how drinking around the world is an absolute must. So, naturally I had to check it out and welcome the new year the proper way. I gotta say, I completely fell in love with this park and all the countries that it featured. We went to every single country and got the signature drink in each, make sure to build a nice base though because the drinks WILL GET TO YOU. I recommend not rushing through all the countries though, take your time and enjoy what each has to offer. Because this was New Year's Eve, some of the countries had their own parties going on and the USA, China, and Italy were BUMPING! We successfully drank around the world, survived, and welcomed 2019 with open arms.
The next park we went to was Busch Gardens and I have only been here one other time and it was years ago. I've gotta say, this might be one of the best parks I have ever been to, literally loved every single ride I went on. I recommend buying the "Quick Queue", since it is way cheaper than the fast passes at any other parks and it will give you a better experience overall. The park has definitely gone through a complete facelift, since I did not remember a single one of the rides they have now from when I last came. One of my favorite things about this park was the safari experience - all the animals were so active that day! I even got an incredible picture with my fellow King of the Jungle. Going through this mini safari definitely woke something in me, something that is making me want to travel to Africa and go to a real safari. We shall see.
You know, when I was a kid the first thing I ever wanted to be when I grew up was an astronaut, so coming to the Kennedy Space Center is a childhood dream come true. I cannot even begin to describe my level of excitement when I came to this place, I was in complete awe. The visitor center has everything you could possibly think of to have a full space experience. They have an IMAX theatre, exhibitions with different versions of astronaut suits, rocket exhibits, photo ops, space-themed restaurants and cafes, and... special meet and greets with real astronauts! I highly recommend this place, everyone should go to it at least once in their lifetime.
I must say, this has been by far one of my favorite ways to end and begin a year. Especially going around the world one final time, it just seemed very fitting for me. Thank you again to my incredible mother for making this experience possible! I love you and wish you the best 2019 ever! And now, may the new year bring many more adventures and may it take me to new places!
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wandering Lion by Christian Grotewold - 6M ago
There is nothing like cruising through the Caribbean with your loved ones during the holiday season, and for my final trip of 2018 my family and I went on the MSC Seaside Cruise. I must say, I am VERY impressed by how incredible this cruise line is - this is the first cruise I have ever gone on from this line and the fifth cruise total from the others I've been on. This ship is the largest one built by the Italian company and one of the most high-tech ships in the world. MSC Seaside was fully equipped with just about everything you could think of, it had something for everyone!
The atrium of the ship is absolutely STUNNING! My jaw dropped the moment I first walked into the ship - it was four floors of glamour complete with sets of Swarovski stairs! You could see everyone rushing to take pictures with the stairs, but we saved the pictures in this place for the gala night... and waiting proved to be the best option to get the perfect shot!
Each floor from the atrium had different themed sides and they all provided a magnificent view of the sea. My favorite areas were the Parisian themed cafe (I just cannot seem to escape Paris... maybe I should go back), and the champagne bar. Both areas were perfect for the days at sea when I wanted to escape for a moment and dive into the book I am reading. If I was not tanning by one of the many pools, you could definitely find me in one of these places.
Two areas that you could always count on being packed were the Arcade, which had a bowling lane, and the Garage Lounge. These areas were mostly used by the teens onboard, especially the video game simulator which was a huge hit with all the passengers! The Garage Lounge was a teens club during the day, but at night it transformed itself into a club for adults.
One of my absolute favorite areas was the Heaven Lounge, this is where I spent most of my nights. Every time I was here, it was a fantastic time! Throughout the voyage this area had themed parties like Great Gatsby and Pirates Night. To break the ice and encourage people to dance, the crew - which I must say were the BEST crew I have ever seen, you could tell they love their jobs - would dance with passengers and even had choreography for all the songs that the DJ or the live band would play.
One of my favorite features of this ship was the water slides, it had a total of three slides - and they all guaranteed a rush of adrenaline! MSC Seaside also had a fully-equipped gym with a spin class room, treadmills, sauna, and much more. You would think that people on vacation would also give their bodies a rest... but the gym always had people in it! And finally, no cruise is complete without their very own casino. No matter the time of day, the casino always had people in it.
MSC Seaside also had its own theatre with a unique show every night, and being the theatre lover that I am... I went to every single one! Each performance had its own magic, but there were two particular shows that completely blew me away: Madame Butterfly and Starwalker. The first show was an adaptation of the famous opera by Giacomo Puccini and the second was a tribute to the King of Pop, Michael Jackson. I got chills during both performances.
The first stop the cruise made was in Puerto Rico, we docked late in the afternoon but did not leave until midnight of that day. My sister and I met up with some friends that live here and they gave us the best tour of Old San Juan... the best bars! My favorite bar in this area is called La Factoria, this bar has a bar within the bar within the bar. We spent hours catching up with our friends and had the best coquito I have ever tried!
Our second stop of the trip was St. Thomas, where we took a tour bus around the island to see the most famous areas of the island. Make sure to go to the highest part of the island, the view is to die for! And, if you are into snorkeling you can go to designated beaches where you will see more fish than any of the other beaches on the island.
The third stop was one of my favorites, St. Maarten! I have been to many places in the Caribbean, but this has become one of my top places to visit. The entire island is absolutely gorgeous, and the beach is an absolute dream! Here, my sister and I thrived as you can tell from the pictures. We truly let our inner child run free. I recommend going very very early to guarantee a perfect spot on the beach.
The final stop on our trip was The Bahamas, and more specifically... the Atlantis! This is the third time I come to this incredible hotel and it never disappoints. You can purchase different types of day passes depending on how long you have to stay here. If you have the full day, I definitely recommend buying a full access pass - this allows you to go into the aquarium, beaches, and all the water rides. If you have a limited amount of time, the aquarium and beach pass should do. Since we had already been here, we decided to just do the aquarium (which is an absolute MUST) and the beaches. If you have never been to the Atlantis, I highly HIGHLY recommend you go. This is an experience that everyone should have at least once.
And just like that, it was time to dock back into reality. I have always loved going on cruises and will continue to explore different ones as long as I can. Think of cruises as a moving hotel, you do not have to worry about anything and you wake up in a new place every day. MSC Cruises has blown any other cruise I have gone on out of the water, the ship had it all. Thank you to my incredible mother for making this experience possible. I love you and cannot wait for our next adventure together!
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