How to Navigate the Unknown in Banff

Top 5 Tips for Banff:

  1. Dress Warmly
  2. Research restaurants in advance
  3. See the National Visitor Center
  4. Stay in Canmore/Dead Mans Flats
  5. Go on the Teahouse hikes and visit Peyto Lake, Lake Louise and Lake Moraine

For our annual labor day hiking trip in 2018 we decided to hop across the border and go to Banff National Park.  Banff is located in Alberta which is close to Calgary, Canada and is about two hours north (flying) from the Bay area.  The last time I was in Canada was in college during a short Toronto conference so I was excited to see another side of the country.

Even though it was September which is normally very warm in California, Canada was an entirely different story!  The weather was so cold, I don’t think I’ve ever hiked in temperatures that low.  I brought a fleece, wool hat, light gloves and a waterproof jacket but I still should have packed warmer clothes!  It was so cold that during our hike I was afraid I was getting frostbite – my hands were so swollen and red that I took my rings off.  Please dress extremely warm!

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Unforgettable Places to visit in Cartagena Colombia

Top 5 things to do in Cartagena

  1. Visit Palenque
  2. Go on a city/food tour with Colombia Connection
  3. Day beach trip to Islas de Rosario
  4. Eat at fantastic restaurants (Cande, La Cevicheria, La Vitrola)
  5. Stay at a boutique hotel (Casa del Coliseo)

After hiking in Peru for 4 days last June 2018 (I’m late I know), Nelli and I knew we wanted to have a completely different experience (read: lazy beach bums).  I’ve always wanted to visit Cartagena after seeing pictures on travel blogs and I had/have a growing fascination of Black people’s experience outside of the USA.  I’m embarrassed to say that some of my introduction to AfroLatino culture came from Spanish soap operas like la Esclava blanca and Celia (Cuba post coming soon!).

Cartagena was considered in 2018 the next hot place to visit by Conde de Nast and the beautiful Instagram influencer pictures in front of the picturesque doors certainly don’t hurt it’s tourist industry either.  Boco Raton used to be the hot spot for rich people and tourists in Colombia – Cartagena was actually where the outcasts lived, it was literally a ghetto until gentrification (surprise!).Read More »

10 things I’m Grateful For In 2018 

I wrote this post in Cuba, what a great place to get inspired to pursue your creative outlets.  I pushed myself to spend my time reading, writing, doing yoga, and abstaining from all social media.  My mind became so clear regarding my goals for this year and I was able to reflect on 2018.

2018 was a busy year…Nelli and I celebrated our first year of marriage and we were fortunate enough to start new positions at our company.  We also found the time to spend time with each other, our friends and family by exploring the world! Here are our top 10 experiences (in no particular order).

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Everything You Need To Know About Visiting Peru

Hi everyone!  This is a long time coming but I really wanted to share our experiences traveling to Cusco Peru for our honeymoon in July.

Top 5 experiences in Peru:

  1.  Hiking Machu Picchu
  2.  Visiting Maras/Moray
  3.  Cusco Culture Day tour – Shops and Restaurants
  4. Staying at Esplendor Cusco
  5. Booking our expedition with Alpaca Expeditions

It has always been a top priority to explore South America for 2018 since I had never stepped foot on the continent.  Over the past years, I’ve grown fond of hiking and the outdoors so I really wanted to add Machu Picchu to our accomplishments.  Since our visit to Peru would be mostly centered around visiting this world wonder, I prioritized finding the best tour company.  My main concerns were cost, ratings, and vegetarian options – Nelli has always wanted to go to South America but was nervous about their meat-centered cuisines.  I researched many tour companies online through trip advisor and blogs (thank you Snazzy Mom!) and I ultimately settled on Alpaca Expeditions.  I’m very happy with my choice – our hiking group was small (5 people), affordable ($550pp), great ratings, extremely knowledgeable/fun tour guide, and had veg options.  There was one lunch rice item that had hot dog slices in it which frustrated Nelli but he said overall he would recommend them.

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Inca Trail

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This Is Why You Should Go To The Grand Canyon

Hi everyone!! I can’t believe it’s already May…it’s going to be our 1 year wedding anniversary next month!  Where did the time go?

We have since continued our national park tradition and actually headed back to Grand Canyon around April 14th.  We booked the tickets on February 2nd and were planning for the May timeframe but April 14th was all that was available.  It ended up being a nice coincidence because that was our 2 year engagement anniversary.  I think I set up a nice tradition to go somewhere for that date too!

Even though we had already been to the Grand Canyon, I’ve read blogs and pictures about the famous Havasu waterfalls.  These waterfalls are so popular  that you are required to have a permit and they get sold out for the year in 30 minutes!  If you want to stay in the lodge instead of camping you have to reserve rooms the year before you want to go…yikes!

It was me and Nelli’s first backpacking/camping experience together and we were so nervous!  For it being our first time, I think we did extremely well but there are a few things we’ll do differently next  time…

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These Are The Stunning Places You Must Visit in Bali

Top 5 things to do in Munduk and Ubud

  •  Munduk
    1. Brahmavihara Buddhist temple
    2. Stay in Munduk Moding Plantation (Villas, Spa, Coffee Plantation tour, Village bikeride)
    3. Waterfalls (Git Git and Munduk)
    4. Hindu temples (Lake Tamblingan, Ulun Danu Bratan)
    5. Lembuyang rice fields
  • Ubud
    1. Mt. Batur volcano hike
    2. Cultural Dances (Kechak at Uluwatu temple and Legong)
    3. Hindu Temples (Tanah Lot, Pura Lempuyang, Tirtha Empul Temple, Besakih Temple)
    4. Monkey Forest Temple
    5. Downtown Restaurants (Clear Cafe and Kaffe)
  • If you have time go to Java and see Borobudor Buddhist Temple!

Out of all our travels so far, going to Bali with Nelli is my absolute favorite….it was fitting that it was also for our honeymoon!  Nelli really went out of his way to ensure it was an enjoyable experience and that each of us got what we wanted out of Bali.  The above list only represents a FRACTION of what we did the two weeks we were there. We visited so many more places, temples and waterfalls but I chose my favorites above.  As you can see, we were quite busy but there was also plenty of time for relaxation (we had 3 spa sessions and stayed at the BEST hotels) which is important for me (read: spoiled).  We also got sick (as usual) so that really slowed down our days and it was nice to lounge around our villa recovering from our coughs!  Please bring A LOT of cough medicine when you travel internationally – I still haven’t learned my lesson and didn’t bring enough!  Here are some tips and tricks related to our favorite activities in Bali.

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Why We Were Shocked To See Trinidad Culture

Our experience in Trinidad was one of a kind and definitely felt like we were at home.  The beginning to our trip was a tad rocky though.  We arrived a day earlier than Phylicia so we stayed at a hotel close to downtown.  As soon as we hopped off the plane and headed for customs our jaw dropped:  the line to get out of the airport looked miles long.  We ended up staying 4 HOURS in the airport just to get through customs – very frustrating time for us and other people.  It was utter chaos: people were skipping, complaining, cutting, arguing; this debacle ended up being front page news in Trinidad next day.  Luckily, our trip only went uphill from there.

The taxi ride to our hotel was lovely, there were 2 other ladies in our car who were coming back to their homeland Trinidad and were able to give us tons of advice about where to eat close to our hotel.  Even though we were emotionally drained, our stomachs weren’t so as soon as we layed down our bags in our room we took a short 5 minute taxi ride to the street food they recommended.  We ended up getting a couple Trinidad staples (corn soup, potato pie, roti, etc) and shared it between us.  The food was delicious, veg friendly, Indian oriented and very cheap.  The next day we had breakfast and explored a little of the surrounding areas before Phylicia’s friend’s cousin picked us up.

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