Finding NOLA

Finding NOLA

My first night in New Orleans with my friend Vanessa was the perfect combination of delicious food and relaxing fun. We arrived later in the evening starving, so luckily Vanessa loves food (even more than I do) and knows how to find the perfect place. The thing I value most about Vanessa, is her love for food. She always keeps me fed and never forces fast food or disgusting food down my throat.

So we took a quick cab over from our hotel (The Omni) and arrived a pizza bar called Pizza Delicious. In the dark it was a tad bit scary and looked like a run down neighborhood despite it’s close proximity to the main strip. Nevertheless we hopped on in to check it out.

Inside, the little pizza joint was booming. It has a very organic feel, young care free employees with dreads and beards making this Seattleite and Denver resident feel just at home.

Pizza Delicious New Orleans

Have you ever seen a more happy diner?

Look at that magnificent slice

Look at that magnificent slice of heaven

The pizza was a perfect New York style thin crust with tons of flavor, not your average pepperoni boring pizza. No no this pizza had zest, the perfect amount of cheesiness, and never too much sauce. If I could marry a piece of pizza, of all the amazing pizza I have had, this my friends would be the one I would get down on one knee and commit my life to forever. No hesitation.

These Badasses weren't afraid of a little walk in the dark.

These Badasses weren’t afraid of a little walk in the dark.

After devouring my new life partner we moved on to the next thing on the agenda. The Bacchanal Wine Bar. Bacchanal was a place Vanessa found on another blog (Still searching for the post to give some credit to the author). It was about a half mile away and perfectly walkable. The only problem is the neighborhood, it appeared that in the daytime this place was a fun indie influenced almost suburb, however what we found at night was remnants of a bad scary movie. We were walking near the train tracks beside a ton of old abandoned houses, where Katrina had taken some of the life from this neighborhood. One block from the road we were on, you could see well maintained houses and groomed yards. Unfortunately the block we walked had ghostly like houses with chain fences boarding it up meant to keep out looters, but rather with the glow of the street lights gave these independent women the creeps.

Bachanal NOLA

An enlightening half mile later we arrive at a cute house with jazz music pumping in from the back. We walked onto the southern style porch and through the screen door into what would be the foyer but instead was a room with a ruby glow, filled with wine bottles. At the Bacchanal Wine Bar you are able to choose from purchasing a single glass or an entire bottle. We both choose a wine choice from the chalk board menu and made our way to the back.

NOLA

The backyard was too perfect with the willow trees giving a summer in the south feel accompanied by a cool evening breeze. Ahead of us there was a wooden stage with a 3 hipsters playing smooth jazz music. We found a table right in the center of it all and we able to reminisce the night away.

I highly recommend following in our footsteps. We were able to walk back to our hotel in about 30 minutes and felt fairly safe. If you scare easy I would suggest just getting a cab or ubering it from place to place. The night was a perfect beginning to our time in NOLA and I highly suggest both places!

Don’t forget your after midnight snack!

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Fat Kid Paradise in New Orleans

Fat Kid Paradise in New Orleans

Each traveler has different things they look for in a trip. whether you need adventure, sight seeing, relaxation or food it’s important that you accomplish that goal during your trip or you will feel slighted. For me it’s Adventure, food, and alcohol. If I go on a trip and I don’t get to try several different delicious places for food and coffee I will walk away feeling that I missed something. The same goes for an adventure. In New Orleans, we were not short on delicious food. So if you are thinking of heading to New Orleans here is my list of places you must try for dinner, dessert, and a fun drink guaranteed to please even the pickiest inner fat kid.

 

Pizza Delicious

We visited Pizza Delicious the very first night and it started our trip off with a bang. Each piece was only about $3-4 and worth every penny. It’s New York style thin crust pizza and they had local beers on tap. I highly recommend checking this place out.

 

Eating New Orleans

District – Donuts Sliders Brew

We found this little gem in the Garden District after visiting a nearby cemetery. It was our last stop and despite being unimaginably full, this restaurant pulled us in for one more foodie experience. Not only does this funky little joint have fried chicken but you must mash it up with a delectable doughnut. We chose to share fried chick, waffle fries with jalapeno cheese, and a strawberry doughnut. I don’t regret one bite or pound gained.

Am I the only one drooling?

Am I the only one drooling?

 

Sucre

Also found in the Garden District is a contemporary bright coffee and dessert shop. The prices are a little steep but the coffee and dessert provide a delicious afternoon snack that we couldn’t snub our noses at. If you are in the Garden District and in need of some coffee and and afternoon sweet, check this shop out after looking through some of the fun antique stores nearby.

Food in it's finest art form

Food in it’s finest art form

 

The Domenica – The Roosevelt Hotel

Now if you are wanting the best dessert of my trip don’t bother wasting money at Sucre. If you are saving those calories for something amazing, trust me go to The Domenica in the Roosevelt Hotel. Although intimidating to enter such a ritzy hotel it was worth the walk to enjoy such a succulent dessert and night cap. If you aren’t planning on dining just ask to sit at the bar, it will make you feel a little more at home in such a beautiful restaurant (talking to my budget travelers here).

sazerac

Cafe Du Monde

After a night of drinking a great place to stop which is open 24 hours is Cafe  Du Monde. They offer the New Orlean’s famous Beignets. They have a great patio area where you can people watch until the morning sunrise. Now what exactly is a beignets? As a child did you ever make homemade doughnuts? Take a biscuit from a can and drop it in oil then roll it around in some powered sugar? Take that and times the deliciousness by 1000, that is a beignet. Now my personal preference was Cafe Beignet. I found their beignets to have more crunch on the outside, where as Cafe Du Monde beignets were soft all the way through.

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Bacchanal Bar

Bacchanal Bar has a large wine selection with a beautiful backyard setting with smooth jazz playing in the background. If you are looking for a calm fun evening you cannot go wrong with this fun venue.

baccanal

Carousel Bar

Sadly I do not have any fun pictures to entertain you with this time. However I’m insisting you go have one drink at the Carousel Bar. It is literally a bar with a Carousel in it. The bar will slowly, slowly spin you around while you enjoy your drink. The drinks were a little pricey but worth the fun experience.

Napoleon House 

If you weren’t aware of the history of NOLA, apparently the french loved Napoleon. They were planning on rescuing him and what is now “Napoleons” would have been his home had they been successful. Unfortunately he died before they could rescue. Lucky for us this restaurant has delicious food and a really fun drink called “Pimms Cup”, it is their special for the past 200 years so you won’t miss it. Also if they have it in season the stuffed avocado was absolutely amazing. Especially considering we had gorged on fried food half the trip so the refreshing avocado and shrimp were perfect before a night of heavy drinking.

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Mother’s

Oh sweet Mother’s. The haven for all those dragging themselves to your glorious food, hungover from an epic previous night. Mother’s is the perfect spot for all your hangover needs. Bloody Mary, greasy delicious food, and on point coffee. I loved mother’s and all it’s attitude. Make sure and head all the way back to the bar for my favorite experience.

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One last stop is going to be…

Laura’s fine Chocolate’s

When in New Orleans it is an absolute must that you bring home a “King Cake”. They are yummy cinnamon roll like cakes that usually contain a baby on the inside. The person who gets the slice of cake with the plastic baby is the “king” for the day. Manny Randazzo is known for having the best cakes unfortunately we were out of time and found that Laura’s had very tasty cakes that all my friends were impressed with at home! You can get small cakes for about $5 which makes for a fun present to give any friends at home.

New Orleans King Cake

 

Have you been to New Orleans? Where was your favorite place to eat or drink?

My First AirBnB

My First AirBnB

Get a $25 AirBnB Credit Now!

 

Accommodations while traveling can often be the most expensive part of a trip. Depending on your style you may normally choose a hotel, hostel, or maybe even a regular rental. Times have changed and more options are now available. AirBnB has completely changed the way we look at accommodations while traveling. They give a middle ground between budget and luxury.

What is AirBnB?

AirBnB gives home owners the opportunity to rent out a spare room or even an entire residence at a cost determined by the host. Depending on the home it can often feel like a Bed & Breakfast or even a fancy rental. Using the website you are able to filter your location, whether you’d like an entire home or simply a room inside their home.

My First Booking

My first AirBnB experience was in Portland, OR. There would be two of us and we didn’t mind sharing a bed. When looking for a room I filtered through based on price and location. If you have specific dates in mind make sure to punch those in so you don’t waste time looking at options that won’t be available. Once I had a few options the most important thing for me was to look at what past tenants had to say. A good review will give you details on the room, host, and most important location specifications.

Once you decide on a place you have to request to book. Make sure you put plenty of details in the comment section when requesting to stay at someone’s house. Imagine you were renting out your room to a stranger, what would you like to know about the person staying there? Great things to put are why you visiting their city, how many people will be with you, and details on when you will arrive. The owners then have 24 hours to get back to you on whether you got the booking or not.

Arriving

A few days before arriving make sure to confirm with your AirBnB host on your arrival date and time so you can meet up with them to get keys. The great thing about AirBnB is they send you a few message reminders so that you don’t forget to confirm with your host! Nice when you are busy trying to get ready for your epic trip!

My first AirBnB was a bit different than most places as the house was remodeled so that it could accommodate more than one person at a time. The entire upstairs has 4 separate rooms with their own key pad locks so that you do not need a key to get in.AirBnB

The room was adorable! They had recently painted and remodeled the bathroom so everything was new and comfy. We were able to secure a room for about $100 a night and this included our own bathroom (If this is important to you make sure your room has a separate bathroom or you might have to share!)

AirBnB

My first AirBnB experience went over great. I didn’t feel awkward or in the way of the host at all. He made us feel completely at home but not too overwhelmed either. The great thing about staying with a local is they can give you great recommendations on where the locals eat and things the locals do!

I highly recommend AirBnb to anyone. If you don’t feel comfortable staying with someone, simply select that you want the entire home, then you have it all to yourself more than likely at a price lower than a hotel!

Would you try an AirBnB? Tell me why or why not in the comments below!

 

Have you tried AirBnB? If not get your $25 credit below!

Get a $25 AirBnB credit!

36 Hours in Portland

36 Hours in Portland

Looking to visit Portland but only have limited time? I recently visited my friend Jen on a whirlwind weekend trip to Portland and am giving you my top things you must do!

I will warn you that there is no love lost between Portland and I. As much as I tried to fall in love with Portland, it simply could not be done. Seattle will always have my heart. However I won’t tell you that I didn’t have fun, because when you have a good friend by your side you can always find trouble.

Portage De Montage

Looking for an unusual but delicious meal? Check out Portage De Montage a fun Cajun restaurant situated right under a highway. The atmosphere is fun and the food is delicious (The Jambalaya was lacking that spice I really crave but the frog legs were perfectly crispy and flavorful). The prices are fair with the portions big enough to share between two people. There is also a fun bar connected to the restaurant where you can drink and order food. Although the dining room was fun and the staff was great if I went back I would probably eat in the bar which has a more cozy laid back feeling which I prefer.

Fried Frog Legs

Fried Frog Legs

Leftovers should never be boring

Leftovers should never be boring

Stumptown Coffee

Have I mentioned my love affair with Coffee? Ever since moving to Seattle it is as if the very stereotype took over me and insisted I become a coffee snob with the rest of the city. If you do one thing on this list I must insist you try Stumptown Coffee. There are a few locations, we personally had the one on Hawthorne but I can’t imagine being disappointed by any of the shops.

Stumptown Coffee

 

Food Trucks and more food trucks

Do you work out just so you can eat more? Well we have more in common than you originally thought. I love food just like I love coffee. If you don’t know what you want to eat but know it must be delicious, go check out some of the many food trucks Portland has to offer. We went to the section downtown that has food trucks lined up on all four streets surrounding a block. It was a beautiful sight to see for a foodie wannabe like myself. There are many options and a simple Google search will allow you to see several neighborhoods in Portland offer a few streets lined with food from all over the world. Check out http://www.foodcartsportland.com/maps/ if you are feeling a bit lost on where to start.

Jen devouring Mac and Trees

Jen devouring Mac and Trees

Mac and Trees please

Mac and Trees please

Powell’s Books

Are you an avid book lover? Well make sure and Check out Powell’s book on Burnside. This mecca center of books has every kind of book imaginable. The place is so big they have to name the rooms by colors so you know where to go!

 

Powell's Books

 

Go on a hike

The Northwest has so much to offer that it would be a crime if you visited and didn’t attempt to get a quick hike in. There are several hikes only 30 minutes from the city that offer an amazing view with minimal effort. We chose “Latourell Falls” a 2.15 mile roundtrip hike with stunning views of a waterfall starting at the bottom all the way to the top. Make sure and look for the trail to the right after the waterfall that dead ends but offers a nice view of the mountains.

I'm a sucker for a good waterfall

I’m a sucker for a good waterfall

Always take time for a photo

Check out a brewery

Saturday afternoon came after our beautiful hike and we found that we had seen enough of the city and needed to see the bottom of a beer glass. There are tons of local breweries to check out with so many delicious beer options. We were able to hit up the Deschutes Brewery as well as Fat head. If I had a do over we would try for a smaller brewery as the Deschutes Brewery  felt pretty commercialized and not quite like the local breweries I prefer at home.

Deschutes Brewery

Do something wild!!

Learned how to fly over the weekend

Learned how to fly over the weekend

 

No matter what city you visit there is always something adventurous to be found. Jen decided it was a good time for us to go skydiving and considering I’ve always wanted to go we immediately booked! We went with Pacific Northwest Skydiving center and I am so glad we did. The staff was incredible and they made sure we had the time of our lives. They were the most economical and the experience was better than I could have imagined!

PNW Skydiving

You don’t have to go far or spend a ton of money to have a good weekend. If you are feeling cabin fever onset grab a friend, check out flight prices or consider a city that’s only a few hours away. There is always something new to be explored!

 

She had fun I promise

She had fun I promise

 

Pacific Northwest Skydiving

Looking to visit Portland but only have limited time? I recently visited my friend Jen on a whirlwind weekend trip to Portland and am giving you my top things you must do! I will warn you that there is no love lost between Portland and I. As much as I tried to fall in love [...]

26750 S Airport Rd
97042 Mulino

» get directions on Google Maps
Dog Sledding In Iceland

Dog Sledding In Iceland

When we began to plan our trip to Iceland there was an endless list of things that we all wanted to do. Iceland whether winter or summer, has tons of thrilling activities for the wild adventurer. One thing on that list that we all agreed on was to see the Northern lights. The most fun way we could think of to do that was to go dog sledding while out looking for that mysterious light show. We figured even if we didn’t see the Northern Lights it wouldn’t be too disappointing since we were still being carried around on the snow like Santa Himself.

Being the animal lover and bleeding heart that I am we made sure to chose a company that really loved their animals and cared about their well being. Lucky for us that isn’t hard to find in Iceland. We ended up going with Dog Sledding IS simply due to their description of the activity, “Half way during the tour we will take a break for you  to take pictures with the dogs and offer them a good belly-rub.”. Who can resist a company that invites you to love on their animals?

It ended up being around $150 a person for the midnight tour without a transfer. I highly recommend renting a car when traveling in Iceland, as it will save you money and give you a chance to see all the amazing scenery that Iceland holds.

The night we were set to go Dog sledding it decided to snow and snow and snow some more. The company was so responsive and let us know in advance that we would have to reschedule. They assured us they would get us in another day if at all possible. We were lucky and the next day we were able to go. Always make sure and try to check on your email when you are expecting to go to any kind of activity especially in the winter when anything can happen!

We checked our phones and Dog sledding was on for the rescheduled night! We checked the Northern Lights forecast and although it was not looking so good for us we were still so excited to get to sled! Now I will warn you that the road leading to the Dog Sledding house is very tiny. If you are going in winter (they do dry sledding as well) then be prepared. Stay on the wore down road ONLY! We got a little confused on which side of the road we should be on and got stuck. It’s a one lane road, trust me. Lucky for us some Icelander’s just happened to behind us and pulled out of the several foot snow! They definitely had the equipment and the knowledge to get us out in no time.

We finally arrived to the Dog sledding house and found about 20 dogs spread out across the snow howling and barking so ready and excited to take us on an adventure. What we learned about Sledding dogs is that they LIVE to race. They absolutely LOVE pulling you around on that sled. In fact I think they enjoyed the ride even more than we did.

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Before we could hop on the sled the mushers had to make sure we were all bundled up properly. If you didn’t have proper clothes, mittens, or hats they actually provided a suit you could wear to keep you nice and toasty. Not the most stylish thing but it will keep you from losing a toe! Lucky for me I have skiing clothing so I was prepared for the snow and freezing cold winds!

On our sled 4 people who sat on the sled and one person got to help drive the sled with the official musher. The Musher allowed us to switch places so that everyone got a chance to drive!

 

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Let’s begin the ride!

 

Being on the sled was incredible! The dogs are so much fun and they LOVED to go FAST! Each dog has it’s own story and our musher knew all of them so well. You could tell by her stories how much she loved each and every one of them. Several of the dogs are rescue dogs that they saved from being put down. Huskies are very popular dogs in Iceland however most people do not realize how much work they really can be. They have so much energy and need to let out that energy or you may end up with a terror of a pup!

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Can you tell Jen is eating this up?

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Driving the Sled was definitely a highlight. The Instructor teaches you how to stand with one foot in front of the other and how to keep your balance without making the sleigh fall right over. With the cool wind blowing in your face and the dogs racing in front of you, life seems so simple and beautiful with miles of a dark night and shiny snow in your face. There is something so pure about these beautiful dogs and the Iceland land that I simply cannot explain. it was an amazing memory I will always hold dear.

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Shawn, Jen and I loving on these beautiful animals

Eventually your time must end so about an hour on the snow we headed back where we got to play with the pups some more. Boy do they LOVE attention! They love being patted on their bellies and each one has such a different personality. Some were jealous, others more elusive, and some just excited to be out in the snow getting so much attention!

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Jen loving on the snow dogs. She LOVES animals.

I highly recommend going DOG Sledding while in Iceland.  I love DOG Sledding IS and highly recommend their company. If you loved your musher I also recommend giving them an extra tip. It’s not required but I think it’s a great way to show how much you appreciate all their hard work!

 

 

Dog Sledding IS

When we began to plan our trip to Iceland there was an endless list of things that we all wanted to do. Iceland whether winter or summer, has tons of thrilling activities for the wild adventurer. One thing on that list that we all agreed on was to see the Northern lights. The most fun [...]

skalafell

» get directions on Google Maps
Hiking the Grand Canyon Bright Angel Trail

Hiking the Grand Canyon Bright Angel Trail

The Grand Canyon Adventure

Last October my current full time job decided to fly us out to Phoenix for a meeting. One of my travel buddies Vanessa immediately jumped at the opportunity for us to hike the Grand Canyon. So we flew out a few days early (Never hurts to ask your company if it matters when you fly in or out) and headed out to the Grand Canyon to hike the Bright Angel Trail.

Tired but ready to hit the road

Tired but ready to hit the road

Tusayan, AZ is a small town directly outside of the Grand Canyon National Park. They have a few low end hotels and a couple places to fill up your starving stomachs after conquering the Canyon. To get to Tusayan from the Phoenix airport you will need to rent a car and drive about 3 hours. You can also fly into Flagstaff but normally Phoenix Sky Harbor is a bit cheaper. We ended staying at the Best Western which is about 200 a night which was pretty painful however it was the cheapest option only 1 mile away from the Grand Canyon.

We woke up early the next day (7am is early to us) and went to walk around the South Rim of the Canyon. It was beautiful but hot so make sure and come prepared with a hat and sunglasses!

This is a real pose right?

This is a real pose right?

 

Besties in the Canyon

Besties in the Canyon

Bright Angel Trail

Before we got to the Grand Canyon, Vanessa and I had decided that we wanted to do the 12 mile round trip trail despite knowing how much we both despised hot weather and how we wilt like flowers underneath the blistering sun. It was a challenge so naturally something neither of us could say no to.

Bright Angel Trail Head

Bright Angel Trail Head

 

So the second day we woke up early once more and got to the trail head by 7am as the sun was rising. The trail we took was at the South Rim- The Bright Angel Trail. Now the trail is broken up into 4 portions. Each stop has shade and water plus a bathroom. This allows you to take a break and decide if you want to continue on. The problem with hiking the Grand Canyon is that it is backwards as far as hikes go. Naturally you are used to going up on a hike and relaxing on the way back down. Unfortunately this is the downfall of the hike. As you go down you begin to realize just how hard it will be to get back up. (3800 ft in 4 miles to be exact).

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On the way down since it was early morning we saw several backpackers coming up from the canyon after spending the night under the stars. Seeing the varying age groups (some possibly around 60 years old and as young as 5 years old) made me confident that I too would make it out of the Canyon without being emergency carried by a camel.

SAM_0754

 

The last bathroom before heading out under the hot sun is in a desert garden with plenty of trees and shade. It is another 2 miles until you get to the Colorado River lookout. It is flat and unappealing for a girl with vampire white translucent skin such as mine which resulted in Vanessa and I almost turning around. We had never seen pictures and if you were to look out in front of you, all that can be seen is just desert upon more desert. Lucky for us backing down from a challenge stings worse than the burn from the hot sun, so on we continued.

 

Our last chance for water and a bathroom break at Indian Gardens

Our last chance for water and a bathroom break at Indian Gardens

Walking these last two miles was challenging to say the least. We began to run out of water and the mirages began. If you have never seen a mirage in the desert it is like seeing exactly what you want only a few 100 yards ahead to find more desert. I do believe for the last half mile Vanessa and I began to get delirious. I imagined this was what the Israelites felt like when wandering for 40 years in that Egyptian desert (Again I was beginning to lose it so you’ll have to forgive my sacrilegious thoughts). We walked and we walked some more. Once we thought about turning around and giving up we saw a well just a few feet ahead. We were able to grab water and drench our clothes.

We had no idea what awaited us on that ledge

We had no idea what awaited us on that ledge

To our surprise there was a fence just up ahead of us. We were almost angry realizing this was the end and it just a metal fence keeping us from some ledge. I was irate that anyone would tell us to venture out these last two miles for what? More Canyon? Before you get irate like my dehydrated mind had gotten, walk a little further. There you will find a breathtaking view of the Colorado River. It is thousands of feet below and a sight to behold.  To right of the outlook you can even see Havasu Falls, a famous waterfall many travel to and camp beside.

Down way below you will find the famous waterfall Havasu Falls

Down way below you will find the famous waterfall Havasu Falls

If you are able please trust me when I insist that you continue on to the full 6 miles of the Bright Angel Trail. The Grand Canyon is beautiful to look at when you are inside the bowl however nothing compares to staring thousands of feet above the roaring Colorado River surrounded by ragged rocks.

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After the high of feeling like you are on top of the world the realization that now the hard part of the hike actually begins. By this time it was around 10 o’clock  and we had 2 miles of flat ground to conquer and then that pesky 3800 feet to climb all within the heat of the day. This would be the hardest thing I would ever have to do.

Time to conquer the climb

Time to conquer the climb

If you haven’t known me long you will see I love to hike, I love being outdoors, and I love adventure. However if you know me even better, you know I am a little bit of a wuss. I have a pesky problem with hypoglycemia and sometimes I’m a little weak. Despite that nagging voice in my head I arose to the challenge with my friend Amanda’s ever constant positive chant claiming, “You can do anything Brie, just go slow and you will make it”. These words got me out that Canyon without giving in to my daydream of using that emergency phone at the bathroom asking for a Camel to be brought down for the little weak girl who couldn’t continue on. For that Amanda dear, I thank you.

Success at the bottom of the Canyon

Success at the bottom of the Canyon

Vanessa my fitness minded friend, stayed with me for about 3 miles. She found shade for us when the sun was relentlessly beating down and gave me encouragement when I thought of dying in the desert. Unfortunately about the time the Canyon walls began to provide us shade the closer to the sides we got was about the time she realized she had a time frame to beat. We had been told that the Bright Angel Trail takes about 10-12 hours to complete, and she was determined to kick that time frame’s booty. When presented with a challenge never doubt my friend Vanessa whether it has to do with money, fitness, or food I guarantee you she will come out on top.

Grand Canyon

“I’ll meet you ALL the way over there”

So now Vanessa was but a tiny figure in the distance slowly becoming a figment of my imagination. I took a few 100 steps and stopped if I needed and I made friends with others who found the ascent back to the top as great of a challenge. I left people behind and others floored passed me. I saw 70 year old hikers with their trekking poles blaze past me and put me to shame.

In the end I made it out of that Canyon hell. Step by baby step I managed not to die underneath that unforgiving sun. I made it out to see Vanessa’s triumphant face smiling down at me wondering what in the world could have taken me an hour and a half longer than her. Despite my late arrival I was undoubtedly so incredibly proud of myself for undertaking a challenge I was not sure I was capable of completing. Never doubt yourself as you are capable of so much more than you could imagine.

 

I got rewarded with some delicious Ice Cream at the top of the Trail

I got rewarded with some delicious Ice Cream at the top of the Trail

 

Grand Canyon National Park

The Grand Canyon Adventure Last October my current full time job decided to fly us out to Phoenix for a meeting. One of my travel buddies Vanessa immediately jumped at the opportunity for us to hike the Grand Canyon. So we flew out a few days early (Never hurts to ask your company if it [...]

86023 grand canyon village

» get directions on Google Maps
Tips for Surviving the Grand Canyon

Tips for Surviving the Grand Canyon

So you want to hike the Grand Canyon? You think 12 miles in the desert heat sounds like a fun challenge? By all means hike your heart away but please listen to these tips I learned while hiking the Bright Angel Trail.

Water is your Best Friend

I mean it kids, make sure and stay hydrated while out in the Grand Canyon. Keeping hydrated should be your number one priority. When choosing a hike make sure and go to the Visitor Center first. Find out which water stations are turned on. If you are lucky they will all be functioning which on the Bright Angel Trail meant a water station every 1.5 miles. Personally I just brought a refillable Camelbak 160z bottle and it was perfect. A Camelbak bladder is also an option but personally I wouldn’t fill it all the way up as that just adds unnecessary weight in the desert heat. (This was meant ONLY if all stations are functioning, you should ask the ranger if they are all on to be sure. If you are worried then keep your Camelbak bladder completely full!)

The Desert heat is not forgiving if you are dehydrated

The Desert trail had no end

 

Dress Appropriately

I know that desert heat may be making you lean towards some skimpy shorts and a tank but don’t forget those heat rays will cause an epic burn if you don’t watch out. I personally wore yoga Capri’s with a light workout tank with a cotton jacket. It came in handy for that early morning hike when it was chilly and it felt great to soak it in water to cover up my burning shoulders.

Vanessa all bundled up in the early morning

Vanessa all bundled up in the early morning

 

Bring Snacks

If the world was in an apocalypse you would want to join my friend Vanessa and I as we are chronic snack over packers. Anytime we go on a hike you would think we were hiking Everest. However when hiking back up the Canyon in the heat of the day you will find yourself slowly dwindling and will be happy you packed some energy boosters. Suggestions for snacks are:

  • Peanut Butter Sandwich
  • Granola Bars
  • Almonds
  • Trail Mix

It’s great to have variety so you don’t get sick of eating the same thing when your body really needs the fuel.

Grand Canyon

Pack Sunscreen

Sunscreen and I are always at odds since I’m not convinced those nasty chemicals don’t always do harm while doing some good. However when it comes to the desert sun rays and my vampire translucent skin, I’ll take the chemicals until I can come up with a better solution. The last thing you want in the middle of your hike back to the top of that canyon is to start feeling an epic sunburn coming on. Not only do sunburns hurt but they can easily make you sun sick. So pack that SPF 100 and get to moving!

Grand Canyon Desert Sun

Bring a Hat

Sunglasses are great but I promise you nothing will save you from those rays beating down on you quite like a hat. Lucky for me my friend comes dually prepared and had an extra hat for me to wear. I have no idea how I would have survived if she wasn’t so generous! Also maybe don’t wear white in the Grand Canyon, the red dirt will NEVER come out. That goes for your clothes too! My shirt still has a tinge of red!

 

Start Early

The best thing you can do when going on a long hike in the Grand Canyon is to start as early as you can bear. We got to the Canyon around 7am and it made the hike down much more endurable. It also meant we were hiking up around noon so my suggestion is to start as early as 5am.

The Grand Canyon at Sunrise

The Grand Canyon at Sunrise

 

Go at your own pace

Hiking down is quite a breeze and once you get to the cliff you really feel accomplished and on top of the world. However that hike back up can really take a toll on you. It’s about 4000 ft back up and you definitely can feel it. If you are going with a partner my best advice is to go at your own pace. Vanessa is a fitness freak and was able to go much faster than I was so she sped to the top. Instead of trying to keep up with her I went at my own speed taking breaks when needed (which was every 100 feet or so at some points).

It’s ok to go slow, it’s better than getting sick!

 

Vanessa ahead of the curve on the downhill and uphill battle

Vanessa ahead of the curve on the downhill and uphill battle

Take tons of pictures

Trust me when I say “You’ll want your camera for this one”. The Canyon was so breathtaking at the bottom of the trail above the red river. We could have stayed there for hours taking pictures. Take your time and take pictures, you earned it!

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For more information on the Bright Angel Trail check out the link below

http://www.nps.gov/grca/planyourvisit/upload/Bright_Angel_Trail.pdf

The worst meal ever eaten in Barcelona

The worst meal ever eaten in Barcelona

Barcelona was my very first city to visit abroad. I went with two of my best friends (married) and my boyfriend Shawn. We tried to budget our trip and be as cheap as possible, which meant only going out for dinner once or twice (maybe) per city. In Barcelona the night to go out had finally come. We all got in our best outfits our backpacks could hold and went out on the town. We decided to hit the Ramblas as it was the main strip with a ton of night life.

All dressed up in Barcelona

All dressed up in Barcelona

We wanted this night to be perfect. It was our only chance to have a real Spanish meal in Barcelona. When you walk down the Ramblas people stand outside the restaurants begging you to come in and shouting out the specials they had for the night. We passed probably 20 restaurants none really completely appealing to all of us. I look back and can see the night clubesk restaurant with good looking Spanish men convincing us that there restaurant would be the most fun with a tad bit of envy and regret.

After about 30 minutes of searching and never agreeing on a restaurant we went down one alley and found what looked like a perfect Spanish hole in the wall. It had the stuco look to it with old Spanish paintings to make it even better. We made our way upstairs to a room with only one other group in there. This was our probably first sign to run.

We ordered Sangrias (naturally right?) and we were delivered what tasted to me like overpriced Kool-Aid. Have you ever gotten a frozen margarita out of a machine? Too much sugar and not enough alcohol? Over flavored sugar water was our second sign.

Now the menu. I think at this point we were so hungry we didn’t care what was on this menu but if I could go back I would have chosen starvation. The menu had steak, chicken, and fish on it. Now my expertise in what a menu in Barcelona should look like was, well none however I should have known this was wayy to americanized to be close to the delicious Spanish food I was craving. Since we were starving we ordered our food and hoped the lack of people in the room plus the American-esk menu wouldn’t ruin our dreams of a perfect Spanish meal.

Now in my 25 ripe years of age I have cooked many interesting meals and burned a few as well. I also grew up with my grandfather, a widowed bachelor who did his best to cook for a picky teenager. Now in all my experience with tasteless meals that the dog won’t even eat, none I mean NONE compared to what was served to us. I ordered grilled chicken and potatoes which turned out to be tiny chicken fillets that tasted like they had been over cooked on a George foreman grill with no seasoning and french fries that just tasted like old potatoes, my friend Andie with her “Cuttle Fish” which I should have never taken a bite of and my boyfriend’s steak  (the best meal on the table) which was so thin you could see through it. So let’s just say it made my grandfather’s meals look like a 5 star restaurant prepared them.

Although this expensive tasteless meal was probably the most disappointing part of our trip to Barcelona it gave me a valuable life lesson : be prepared. Google, read blogs, ask the hostel workers just please don’t walk out onto the street expecting the best meal of your life or you will end up hungry, sugar drunk, and 50 dollars poorer.

Barcelona Fun

This is what “sugar drunk” look like in Barcelona

 

I know many of you may be feeling sorry for our sad little group thinking we shorted ourselves the perfect Spanish night we dreamed about. The universe as it turns out had not completely abandoned us. On our way home, still starving we found a bar with rotating tapas and delicious authentic sangria. We were able to get toasted and fill our bellies. It was definitely a night full of lessons, bad food,  and random fun that can never be repeated.

Tapas in Barcelona

A proper Sangria and Tapas

Why you should go Zorbing in London

Why you should go Zorbing in London

If you’re looking for an adventure look no further than 10 feet from my international traveling partner Jen. She can sniff out a good time no matter what city or country she is in and that is why I didn’t hesitate when she suggested we go “Zorbing” while in London.

What is Zorbing you ask?

Zorbing is a big rubber ball filled with freezing cold water (or as they call it “warm”) that you jump inside of and then proceed to roll down a huge hill.

Things to outside of London: Go Zorbing an adventure activity

Yes that hole is even smaller than it looks

Why should I go?

You’ll learn to love small spaces

Things to outside of London: Go Zorbing an adventure activity

You will get closer to your friends…

Things to outside of London: Go Zorbing an adventure activity

You’ll form killer abs

Ok maybe not killer abs, but they will hurt from laughing so much

Things to outside of London: Go Zorbing an adventure activity

Sounds nuts right?

You would be correct. However, you might just find you have an amazing time.

Things to outside of London: Go Zorbing an adventure activity

Now Zorbing is about an hour outside the city so make sure and plan ahead and get directions to the tube and the train station. Don’t make the same mistake we did and hire an Uber driver who proceeded to take us the exceptionally long and windy route which not only made my inside green but also cost $50 bucks one way. Plan ahead, friends!

Overall I give Zorbing 4 stars only missing one star due to how far it will take you to get to the Zorbing Ranch. When we went in September it was around $75 which I would gladly pay again!

http://www.zorbing.co.uk/

Side note* Spring for the go pro video or bring your own. We bought the video and that is how we were able to have these hilarious photos.

[vc_video title=”Zorbing in London” link=”https://youtu.be/hds1CjBc7yw”]

Adventure activities outside London, England. Go zorbing for an outdoor adventure you won't forget!

Things to do in London_ Go Zorbing an outdoor adventure activity

 

Adventure activities outside London, England. Go zorbing for an outdoor adventure you won't forget!
Adventure activity outside of London- Go Zorbing!
Zorbing- an adventure activity outside of London

Zorbing London & South East England

If you're looking for an adventure look no further than 10 feet from my international traveling partner Jen. She can sniff out a good time no matter what city or country she is in and that is why I didn't hesitate when she suggested we go "Zorbing" while in London. What is Zorbing you ask? [...]

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5 things to do in Barcelona

5 things to do in Barcelona

My time in Barcelona was rather short but I will give you a list of 5 things that I did while in Barcelona. Please feel free to add your favorite things about this great city!

Stick your feet in the Mediterranean Sea

So this was a big goal of my friend’s that I went on my first Eurotrip with. She wanted to be able to check off the list that she had dipped her toes in the Mediterranean and what a worthy goal it was. From our hostel we had to walk about 2 miles (I chose to wear sandals that day BIG mistake I later discovered) to make it to the beach. Barcelona is pretty pedestrian friendly and there were several signs that helped lead us to our destination.

Barcelona - Beach

It was cold but it is now checked off the list!

Take a Walk Down Las Ramblas

Las Ramblas is a main street in Barcelona filled with shops, beautiful architecture, and plenty to eat. It is the heart of the city and a main attraction.

Las Ramblas

Drink from the Fountain of La Font de Canaletes

Rumor has it anyone who drinks from the Fountain of La Font de Canaletes will one day return to Barcelona. So Naturally it was the first place we went. The fountain can be found in the Las Ramblas.

Drinking Fountain

Visit one of Gaudi’s houses

Antoni Gaudi was a famous architect whose many works can be seen throughout the city. I highly suggest going to see at least one of his famous houses throughout your stay. The funky architecture is what makes Barcelona so unique and lovable.

Gaudi house

 You MUST Visit Gaudi’s Park

Even if you decide to skip out on Gaudi’s houses I am right now insisting that you visit Gaudi’s Park. The view alone is worth it. Barcelona is such a beautiful city and Gaudi’s Park gives you one of the best views. It is a bus ride so make sure you check out the website and plan your trip ahead.

Gaudi's Park

Barcelona is an exciting city full of culture and tons of fun. Our time was so short that I must go back to fully enjoy all that it has to offer.