Browsing Tag

guide

Europe Guides

The Ultimate Guide to Ljubljana, Slovenia

Warning, within five minutes of stepping into Ljubljana’s historic city center, you will be completely under its charm. Its colorful, Baroque buildings radiating from the Ljubljanica River create a picturesque, fairytale city that whisks you to another time. And it’s that time machine feel that is the main attraction of Ljubljana.

A city of dragons, Ljubljana is said to be founded by Jason (of golden fleece fame), who came upon a dragon in a nearby lake and slaughtered it. Since then, the dragon has been intricately linked to the city. Now, the dragon stands as a proud protector of the city and its people. You’re never far from a dragon when exploring Ljubljana. A fun game to play is seeing how many dragons you can find.

As Slovenia’s capital, Ljubljana is a city that’s safe to walk around. And Slovenians are very friendly people. Named the European Green Capital in 2016, Ljubljana is ahead of many European cities in its sustainability initiatives. It’s easy to find recycle receptacles in town. Don’t forget to bring your reusable water bottle to Ljubljana. There are drinking fountains throughout, too and that water tastes good! Though vehicle traffic has been greatly limited within the historic city center, you still need to watch out as many locals bike to work.

Top Sights in Ljubljana

One of the most wonderful things about Ljubljana is that you don’t need a map to get around. It’s compact that just by strolling around, you will find all the major attractions. The city is so inviting, that you’ll find yourself wondering down every street anyways. So, enjoy the thrill of stumbling upon something rather than planning the day. Here are some of the highlights of Ljubljana that you can look forward to experiencing.

Ljubljana Castle

One sight you can’t miss is Ljubljana Castle. It stands above the historic city center, a symbol of Ljubljana. This medieval fortress goes back to the 11th century, when it was the main defense of the city. Now it’s a museum showcasing Ljubljana through the ages as well as history of the castle.

There are two ways to get to the castle, walking or taking the funicular. If walking, there are several trails up the hill. They do get a little steep, but in less than 10 minutes you’ll be enjoying the views from the top. You can also take the funicular up for an additional cost to the admission to the castle. The ride is less than two minutes.

Prešeren Square

 

The heart of the city center is Prešeren Square. Its star attractions are the Baroque Church of the Anunciation (also known as the Pink Church) and the Triple Bridge. You can sum up the character and beauty of Ljubljana in this one square. It gets crowded as the day progresses.

Town Hall

This stunning building originates from the 15th century. The best way to see the inside of the Town Hall is via a free guided tour that must be booked in advance at the Ljubljana Tourist Center (just opposite the Triple Bridge).

In front stands the Robba Fountain, which is reminiscent of the Four Rivers Fountain in Rome. But for this fountain, it’s three men pouring water from jugs, each representing a river of the region.

Dragon Bridge

Flanked by four dragons, it’s easy to see how Dragon Bridge got its name.These dragons are synonymous with Ljubljana, making it the city’s most iconic site. This delicate bridge was built in the early 1900s.

Central Market

Every European city has at least one good market and Central Market in Ljubljana cannot be missed. It sprawls between several buildings and a square. On the weekends, the square is full of pop up stands offering freshly made food from every region in the world. The building lining the river features small cafes and souvenir stands. The lower level of the building opposite has fresh meats and dried nuts and fruits vendors. If you’re looking for some fresh food to take on a day trip, this is the place to be.

Another market is found near St. Nicholas’ Church. This market features some of the most beautiful and massive looking fruits and vegetables. The smell from the fresh produce overloads your senses and may make your mouth water.

St. Nicholas’s Church

Squeezed into the heart of the city, St. Nicholas’s Church (also known as Ljubljana Cathedral), with its burnt yellow towers, cannot be missed. A church has stood on this sight since the 13th century. Though the church is small, it’s still worth a visit inside to see the Baroque architecture.

Congress Square

Another popular meeting space is Congress Square. Surrounded by stunning buildings including the Ursuline Church of the Holy Trinity and the Slovenian Philharmonic (one of my favorite buildings), the square also features a small park. You can also see fragments of the ruins of a monastery that once stood on the site.

Not-to-Miss Buildings

As I said, Ljubljana oozes incredible buildings. Some are complete works of art. Popular buildings to admire are the Parliament Building, with its sculptured entrance located across the Republic Square, and the exterior of the National University Library. A special shout out goes to the Art Nouveau buildings on Miklošičeva cesta near the Pink Church.

Ljubljana Sculptures

All around Ljubljana, with most close to the river, are bronze sculptures. Honestly, they are a bit weird, but they do make you pause and have a think. Most of these sculptures are the creative work of Jakov Brdar, a Slovenian sculpture. While wandering around town, keep a look out. Some are quite small and others are tucked in alleys.

Tivoli City Park

Less than a 10-minute stroll from the river is the sprawling and lovely Tivoli City Park, the largest park in Ljubljana. You can spend hours exploring this beautiful green space. Inside the park, you will also find the Tivoli Castle (a mansion), the Cekin Mansion which houses the Museum of Contemporary History of Slovenia, a large pond, rose garden, and countless sculptures.

Metelkova Mesto

After the classic beauty of the city center, Metelkova Mesto may be a shock. Full of graffiti and street art, this offbeat haven is a must visit. Walking around in daylight, you can appreciate all the different art (and some of it is truly stunning). In the evening, it’s a hopping joint. It may not be for everyone, but it’s still a place that should be seen.

Take Time to Just Walk Around Ljubljana

The best way to truly appreciate Ljubljana is walking around town. As the historical center is compact, you can cover a lot of ground quickly. However, you don’t end up covering much ground because every building begs inspection. Each new curve in the river provides a different perspective that must be admired.

Strolling along the cobblestone streets, you can appreciate the atmosphere of the city. There are tons of unique and quirky shops that are fun to either window shop or browse. It’s something you don’t expect from a town that feels of the past, but it’s just another reminder of how modern the city is too.

Don’t forget to take in the different view points of the river and city from the many bridges. Not only is each view different, but each bridge is unique too.

Where to Eat in Ljubljana

There are countless cafes and restaurant options in Ljubljana. Many of them are found along the river banks providing you with lovely views as a backdrop to your meal. Price ranges vary. My personal favorite was Ljubljanski Dvor, right on the banks of the river near the university. They have an extensive selection of handmade pizza and it is delicious! Even better, it’s one of the cheapest meals you’ll have (the small pizza is still pretty big, so come with an appetite). Next door, dessert awaits at the Romantika Gelateria. And who doesn’t love gelato?

If your lodging comes with a kitchen, there’s a small, but good grocery store located next to the Intercontinental Hotel near the train/bus station.

Day Trips from Ljubljana

Ljubljana makes for the perfect base for exploring other destinations in Slovenia. If you don’t want to do a road trip of your own, Slovenia has a great bus system that takes you to much of the highlights of the country. The fairytale beauty of Lake Bled is only a 1.5 hour bus ride away with Lake Bohinj just 20 minutes past Lake Bled. Both are fantastic day trips from Ljubljana.

You can also visit one or more of the many caves around Slovenia. My personal favorite is the Škocjan Caves with its other worldly Murmuring Water Cave. There are also the popular Postojna Caves, and in summer Predjama Castle, which is built into the mouth of a cave. Taking a break from nature, there’s the popular seaside city of Piran with its Italian influence.

If you do take the bus, regardless if you’re purchasing the ticket at the ticket booth at the bus station or on board the bus, tickets are cash only.

Getting to Ljubljana

If you’re already in Europe, the easiest way to Ljubljana is via bus or train. The train and bus stations (right next to each other) are an easy walking distance to the center of town (roughly 15 minutes to the Pink Church). So, you can either walk to your accommodation or take a short taxi ride.

If arriving by plane, the Joze Pucnik Airport is 25km from Ljubljana. There is a bus service to the city center that runs every hour. Or, a taxi will run you about €35.

Ljubljana completely took me by surprise in the best possible way. It’s now one of my favorite cities in Europe, and one I cannot wait to go back and visit. Give yourself one to two days to leisurely explore the city because once you’re under its charm, you won’t want to leave.

 

Advice Asia Guides Insider Tips

What Not To Miss In Singapore Your First Time

For me, Singapore is my home away from home.  The things I adore about Singapore are often the things that tourists miss out on when they visit.  As it turns out, Singapore is so much more than just shopping on Orchard Road. 

Follow this list of things you won’t want to miss your first time visiting Singapore and you’ll get to experience everything Singapore has to offer.

1. Eat at the Hawker Centres

You will find hawker centres all throughout Singapore.  These are essentially government-regulated food courts where the locals go to eat. Here you’ll experience some of the best and most authentic dishes in all of Singapore.  

We would highly recommend you eat most of your meals at hawker centres and do your best to try different dishes each time!  Some local favorites include char kway teow, laksa, wantan mee, and roti prata.

2. Shop on Orchard Road

When most people think about what to do in Singapore, the first thing that comes to mind is shopping…  and Orchard Road is the quintessential spot in Singapore to do it! You’ll get the opportunity to shop at countless high-end shopping malls (with air-conditioning thankfully) and every brand you can think of.  In fact, most big brands have numerous shops on Orchard Road.

If you are a big shopper, then Orchard Road is an absolute must.  Even if you aren’t, it’s still well worth taking a few hours out of your day.

3. Visit Gardens by the Bay

Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay is a stunning feat of architecture found right in the heart of Singapore.  A handful of giant supertrees tower over the park. A sky bridge extends through the grove connecting two supertrees and allowing you to walk amongst the treetops.

Two massive conservatories contain two separate ecosystems – one filled with tropical plants and another packed with flowers.  It’s absolutely worth visiting and spending the S$28, but if you are limited on time consider skipping the Flower Dome.  

The Cloud Forest is by far the more impressive of the two structures, containing the second tallest indoor waterfall in the world (after the Jewel at Changi Airport, also in Singapore).

4. Shop & Eat at Chinatown

Make sure to visit and explore Chinatown.  It’s home to some of the best Chinese hawker stalls in Singapore, plus it’s a great opportunity to get some shopping done and find some souvenirs to take back home.

Make sure to check out Sri Mariamman Temple and the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple.  Making it here during a Chinese festival, such as the Chinese New Year, can be absolutely stunning.  The streets will be decorated with lanterns and you can expect the locals to be festive.

5. Explore Clarke Quay and Visit the Merlion

Clarke Quay is a great spot to explore for a few hours on a nice evening.  There are plenty of upscale eateries and bars here and a river with boat rides and bridges.

A short walk will offer spectacular views over the bay towards the Marina Bay Sands Hotel and the Singapore Flyer.  You also won’t want to miss a photo of the iconic Merlion which was relocated here in 2002.  

6. Stroll Through Macritchie Reservoir Park

The Macritchie Reservoir is Singapore’s oldest reservoir and is a giant park found in the middle of the island.  Consider hiking the Macritchie Nature Trail, where you will find eleven kilometers of trails, with a full loop taking around four hours. 

Along the way, expect to encounter some cheeky, long-tailed macaques (yes, monkeys) that want nothing more than the food in your bags.  Make sure not to feed them – and be especially careful not to corner them. They are cute to look at, but they can be aggressive.

You may also come across a treetop walkway suspended 25 meters above the ground.  It’s a great way to experience the park from the sky, but consider avoiding it if you’re afraid of heights.

Airlines Europe Guides

An Insider’s Guide To Scotland: Whisky, Magic & History

There’s a reason that Scotland‘s national animal is the unicorn (yep, that’s right, a unicorn!) and it’s because of this… Scotland is a place of mystery, ancient folklore and pure wonder. From its cities that appear to be stuck in time, to its looming highlands, to its lochs with infamous monsters and to its quaint coffee shops where mystical stories are written, it’s undeniable… Scotland is magical, plain and simple.

We had the pleasure of hopping on a easy flight from the newly-deemed New York Stewart International Airport, just 70 miles outside of Manhattan, to Edinburgh. It’s always nice to have another option that is a little less hectic than than JFK and Newark! And now that Norwegian Air is a new carrier at Stewart, hopping to the UK is easier and more affordable than ever. Win-win.

An Insider's Guide To Scotland: Whisky, Magic & History An Insider's Guide To Scotland: Whisky, Magic & History An Insider's Guide To Scotland: Whisky, Magic & History

Upon arriving in Scotland’s capital, it became very clear… beyond the tartans, bagpipes and whisky ideals that many of us hold on to, there is so much to the country than meets the eye. Scotland, a gem of the northern corner of the United Kingdom, tickled our love for all things ancient, mystical and magical. Here are some of our “must-do’s” while exploring Scotland!

An Insider's Guide To Scotland: Whisky, Magic & History An Insider's Guide To Scotland: Whisky, Magic & History An Insider's Guide To Scotland: Whisky, Magic & HistoryAn Insider's Guide To Scotland: Whisky, Magic & History

Edinburgh

A place so mysterious, you’d expect Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde to appear at any moment! Edinburgh’s stoney facade feels so stuck in time, it’s incredible. After checking in to the absolutely sleek and charming Principal Hotel, perched on the banks of Edinburgh’s ports, our first hours of adventure started with traipsing around the historic and beautifully kept Leith district.

An Insider's Guide To Scotland: Whisky, Magic & HistoryAn Insider's Guide To Scotland: Whisky, Magic & History

While getting acquainted with the area, it was time to tour the The Royal Yacht Britannia. Imagine all the fabulous guests Her Majesty The Queen and the Royal Family would host while exploring the world on this gem! The ship sailed almost one million miles – which is literally the equivalent of going around the world once a year. Mind blown! Getting to learn about the ship’s rich history while getting to see the beautiful details The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh hand selected was so special. To top it all off, and send our minds into absolute imaginary delight, we finished our tour of the ship on lunch on the Royal Deck. Getting to imagine having tea with the Queen on this gem was a real treat!

An Insider's Guide To Scotland: Whisky, Magic & HistoryAn Insider's Guide To Scotland: Whisky, Magic & HistoryAn Insider's Guide To Scotland: Whisky, Magic & History An Insider's Guide To Scotland: Whisky, Magic & History

Afterwards, and feeling very posh, we began trekking to the towering and mysterious Edinburgh Castle, the crowning sight atop the Royal Mile on Castle Rock. Exploring the nooks and crannies of this ancient castle, as well as ogling at Scotland’s Crown Jewels and the Stone of Destiny was pure magic. You could absolutely imagine yourself in the Medieval Ages looking out from the top of the castle windows.

EXPLORE

An Insider's Guide To Scotland: Whisky, Magic & History An Insider's Guide To Scotland: Whisky, Magic & History An Insider's Guide To Scotland: Whisky, Magic & History An Insider's Guide To Scotland: Whisky, Magic & History

STAY

EAT & DRINK

St. Andrew’s

A quaint, seaside town on the eastern coast of Scotland that is so charming! St. Andrew’s is now best known as the place where Prince William met Kate Middleton while in college, but it’s also stocked with some fabulous architecture and beautiful scenery. The ruins of St. Andrews Castle, with its medieval bottle dungeon, are not to be missed! And if you’re a golf fanatic, this might be THE place to go since it has been titled the “home” of golf. Active gals will love its gorgeous shoreline and hiking path.

An Insider's Guide To Scotland: Whisky, Magic & History An Insider's Guide To Scotland: Whisky, Magic & History

Dundee

Our days that followed were filled to the brim with cultural tastes of Scotland’s best. Scotland’s fourth largest city and coastal town, Dundee, was oh so delightful. Some highlights include learning all about the city’s art and design galleries, like the stunning Dundee Contemporary Arts complex filled with galleries, print studios, movie theaters and coffee shops, wandering the V&A Museum’s design-focused one stop shop for inspiration and discovery, and the fascinating McManus Museum, an old Victorian, Gothic building that houses Dundee’s 400 million year old collection of art and culture.

An Insider's Guide To Scotland: Whisky, Magic & History

An Insider's Guide To Scotland: Whisky, Magic & History

An Insider's Guide To Scotland: Whisky, Magic & History

EXPLORE

STAY

An Insider's Guide To Scotland: Whisky, Magic & History

EAT & DRINK

Aberdeen

Aberdeen, lovingly titled the “gem of the northeast,” was nothing but charming. Our time here really allowed us to learn all about the whisky culture Scotland is world-renown for. It was so amazing to learn about the process that each whisky goes through before it touches our lips! After touring the Arbikie Distillery, where barley and water is sourced from an underground lagoon and filtered through 400 million year old rocks (crazy right?!), it’s pretty easy to say that our time in Aberdeen was educational and also incredibly intoxicating!

And finally, the Dunnottar Castle, the romantic, evocative, powerful, ruined castle perched on the edge of the wild North-Sea. Do words ever do this place justice? This ancient fortress is a history-lover’s dream, a romantic’s fantasy and a feast for the eyes. The secrets this castle must have housed! To not become completely enamored with the rich history of this site is beyond our imagination. As our tour guide told us, “once seen – never forgotten.”

An Insider's Guide To Scotland: Whisky, Magic & HistoryAn Insider's Guide To Scotland: Whisky, Magic & HistoryAn Insider's Guide To Scotland: Whisky, Magic & HistoryAn Insider's Guide To Scotland: Whisky, Magic & HistoryAn Insider's Guide To Scotland: Whisky, Magic & History

EXPLORE

STAY

An Insider's Guide To Scotland: Whisky, Magic & History

EAT & DRINK

Other Gems To Explore

Glasgow

The cultural hub of Scotland with oh so much to offer. This port city is set on the River Clyde in the western Lowlands, and is best known for its Victorian architecture. Walking around Glasgow feels like walking through history. The amount of opera houses, ballets, theaters and museums in this city is astounding.

Isle Of Skye

Best known for its craggy mountains, epic landscapes, quaint fishing villages and medieval castles. The Isle of Skye is a gem of a place to be astounded. The town of Portree, an awesome place to call “home” while on the island, has a ton of adorable pubs and shops. Make sure to explore the Dunvegan Castle, Armadale Castle, stand in awe of the Old Man of Storr, and the shores of the island filled with sea creatures.

Inverness

The perfect base before you jet off to the Loch Ness and the Highlands. This historic “city” is considered to be the capital of the Scottish Highlands and features an old Victorian Market and an amazing 18th century church and cathedral. Perhaps our favorite aspects of Inverness is its visitor center at Culloden, where the final battle between the wild Jacobite clans and the British government clashed and the Urquhart Castle overlooking Loch Ness.

Islay

One word – scotch. Islay is the island off the west coast of Scotland where some of the best scotch is made in its numerous distilleries. If you have a love and fascination for the peaty single malt whiskies, this is your place!


Wherever you end up exploring… enjoy magical Scotland for all it’s worth!

Beaches Food North America Solo Travel

24 Hours in Morro Bay, California

Sometimes, our schedules don’t allow us to spend as much time as we wish we could exploring a new place. Sometimes our schedules don’t give us a week, or even three days. Sometimes you only get one. One day. A short and sweet 24 hours of adventure. You’ll be surprised just how quickly those 1,440 minutes go by, and you’ll probably be surprised by how much you can do, and see, too—from floating alongside sea lions, to tacos by the bay, to feeling awestruck inside a shop dedicated solely to seashells (aka nirvana for my inner mermaid).

The quiet and quaint fishing town of Morro Bay easily deserved more than the 24 hours I had to give, but, true to my new nickname, I was determined to make the most of every minute. Side note: I do have to say, there is an undeniable benefit to having your day full of activities… You forget about your phone. It’s a blissful thing, especially when you’re someone who suffers from screen addiction.

Anyway. Let’s get to the fun stuff—how to get the most out of Morro Bay in just one day.

The Starting Point:

For such a small town, there’s a surprising amount of hotels to choose from. I stayed at Estero Inn and it did not disappoint. It’s a small hotel with an ideal location—a short walk from literally everything. It was a torrential downpour when I arrived, and cold, too (though, compared to winter in NY it wasn’t so bad), so walking in to find that my room had a fireplace was blissful.

I was fortunate enough to nab the Sunset Suite which offered me an amazing view of Morro Rock from my balcony.

6:00am Destination: Sunrise…then breakfast & coffee

Since I was making the most of 24 hours here I had to wake up pretty early—obviously early enough to be out of bed to see the sunrise. Because this town is so quiet I figured there might not be too many options available to me for breakfast at such an ungodly hour, thankfully Estero Inn offers breakfast. After some fresh fruit and some coffee to warm me up I was ready to rock.

8:30am — Destination: The Paddleboard Co.

There’s nothing better than starting your morning off with movement—and no, I’m not talking about the three minute walk from my hotel room to The Paddleboard Co… Though that did help get me going.

Disclaimer: I am very much NOT a paddleboarding pro. I was actually a little nervous to be doing this on just 4 ½ hours of sleep. I wasn’t exactly sure my brain had the capacity for paddling, nor was I confident that my body had the will to balance and keep me from going swimming. Only one way to find out, though.

I had the pleasure of a private paddle sesh with Sandi, a fellow yogi and the shop owner, and Nikki, a bad ass (she’s paddled through river rapids!) SUP pro.

Nikki, Sandi, and I walked down to the dock for a quick little intro session where Nikki walked me through some basics. If you’ve never stepped foot on a paddleboard before rest assured that you’re in good hands. You’ll get some pointers before your board even hits the water… And hopefully, you won’t wind up swimming in the bay.

We took off from the dock which meant that I had to drop down onto my board that was floating in the water waiting for me. I was certain that this was the end for me and my dry clothes, but, with Nikki’s guidance I remained dry and was up on my feet in just a few seconds. Albeit a little wobbly at first.

Your first instinct, or at least mine, was to look down in an attempt to stay focused and balanced. After all, it’s not everyday you stand on a board the size of a bar top in the middle of the water. Sandi and Nikki both explained to me that the direction you’re looking is the direction you’ll go. Down was not an option, and looking up offered a way better view anyway.

It was so awesome getting to share the water with the natives, too—pelicans and countless other birds, sea otters, harbor seals, and sea lions!

Most of the sea lions were totally zonked out layered on top of each other on this little dock, while a few barked at our presence. It’s important to remember this is their turf, and we’re just visiting—enjoy sharing the space, and the moment, with them, but keep a considerable distance so as not to disturb them!

We pulled up on shore for a breather. Peaceful and serene as it is, paddleboarding is also a really great workout. Taking a breather meant also taking in a new perspective of Morro Rock. Being this close was awe-inspiring, and both Nikki and Sandi gave me some ‘to-do’ ideas for the day—including a bike trip that would bring me even closer to the rock. It’s a nearly 600-foot volcanic plug, how rad is that!? I couldn’t wait to get a closer look.

11:30am — Destination: Estero Inn

Walking back to my room all I could think was: FOOD. PLEASE. ASAP. SO HUNGRY. SOS! I showered earlier that morning so felt a little less gross about running back, changing, and not showering before going to lunch. Hey, at least I changed my clothes!

12:00pm — Destination: Blue Sky Bistro

The area is teeming with bars and restaurants, so it can definitely be hard to choose. You can’t go wrong with Blue Sky Bistro, though. It’s on the bay-facing side of the Embarcadero, so you’ll have great views whether you’re sitting inside or out. The (dog-friendly!) patio is open all year round, but hours vary depending on the weather—it was raining, so through-the-window-views would have to suffice for me. After the views I had from my paddleboard I certainly wasn’t complaining.

The bistro is cute, and small, and the staff is so nice. I don’t dine alone often, but I felt totally comfortable doing so here. I opted for vegetarian tacos because they offered corn tortillas—gluten free for the win! They were—and I really don’t use this term often—amazeballs. Also, their mango salsa is INSANE, order an extra side of it and thank me later.

1:30pm — Destination: Shops, shops, shops, shops

Oh, the shops. There are so many! I’m pretty sure I popped into nearly every single one along the Embarcadero. Each place was somehow cuter than the next and in every single store I fell in love with something. Traveling alone meant trying to muster up the will power to stop myself from spending every penny that I have…Not an easy feat!

Junque Love, Smoobage, and The Garden Gallery (an indoor/outdoor shop that I actually dream about
living in) were among my favorites.

…I bet my fellow mermaids are wondering about the seashell haven I mentioned earlier. I’m pretty sure when I walked in my jaw dropped. The wheels in my brain turned at a feverish pace trying to figure out how on earth I’d be able to bring home all of the contents of this store in just 1 carry on. The Shell Shop—which certainly lived up to its name—is without question worth a visit, even if for nothing more than to just marvel at all the seashells.
3:00pm — Destination: Farmer’s Kites & Surreys

The only thing better than exploring Morro Bay on two feet is exploring on two wheels. So, I made my way over to Farmer’s Kites & Surreys to rent a beach cruiser.

I love riding my bike at home—a standard 6-speed mountain bike—but this beach cruiser was like a whole new species of bicycle to me…peddling backwards to break!? I haven’t done that since I was 7. The wide handlebars were awkward and I almost ran over a lady because I couldn’t control my steering very well at first! Thankfully, for myself and for pedestrians in my path, I finally got a good groove going.

I cruised it out to to the beach and took a minute to just sit and be. Taking time to reflect is so important—of those 1,440 minutes I have in a day, I try to spend some of those just taking everything in. This was my second solo adventure in just 2 months—it’s something that makes me both incredibly grateful and incredibly proud. Traveling alone is definitely outside of my comfort zone, but I’ve found that most of the best things are.

After the beach I headed straight to the rock. Feeling confident in my beach-cruiser-riding abilities I decided to try and take a video whilst riding. I quickly learned that my abilities were nothing to brag about, and I fell right off my bike. It only left me with a bruised ego, but lesson learned—do not try to Instagram story and ride. Also, it was a solid reminder to just keep my phone away and stay present.

There’s something about the repetitive motion of pedaling that’s almost meditative… and that wind in your face—especially when gliding down hill—is almost euphoric. Riding down the bike path I noticed I was completely alone—and it was…awesome. So, you know that place beyond your comfort zone? You should go there. It’s incredible.

5:30pm — Destination: STAX Wine Bar

I was a little more apprehensive about heading to a wine bar alone than I was about heading to lunch alone. But, I was making the most of every minute, and I intended for a good chunk of those minutes to be spent wine tasting.

The ambiance at STAX is pretty much exactly what you’d want the ambiance at a wine bar to be. It’s an intimate and cozy space filled with art, the sounds of live music, and friendly chatter. It also, at the time when I walked in, was predominantly occupied by couples.

So I, solo-wino, party of 1 decided to post-up at the bar. The bartenders here are amazing (shout out to Erin and Andrew!). So friendly and so kind—I genuinely forgot that I was there alone. Rather than burying my head in my phone in an attempt to feel less alone, I kept it tucked away in my bag and interacted with the people around me. There’s nothing better than connecting with new people… Especially over phenomenal glasses of wine.

True story: I had a dinner reservation at 7:00 and skipped it because I was having that good of a time here. Cannot recommend this place enough.

8:30pm — Destination: Bed.

I was surprised by how quiet the town got at night, and surprised that STAX closed at 8:00…although, it was a weeknight. After an early morning and a jam-packed day I wasn’t exactly devastated to be turning in early. My 24 hours were almost up, and I still had to pack (oh, the dread!) and be ready to ship out early the following morning.

Morro Bay definitely proved itself to be a destination that has something for everyone—for shopping enthusiasts, outdoorists, beach bums, nature lovers, animal lovers, wine lovers, and taco lovers, too (really, though, who isn’t a taco lover?).

Heaps of gratitude to you, Morro. Thanks for the adventure, new experiences, and lessons—the #1 lesson being: keeping your phone away is the best way to make the most of a day (and, without question, the best way to avoid falling off a beach cruiser).

Guides Middle East

Meaningful Travel Through Israel, Palestine and Jordan

Israel, Palestine and Jordan – a journey through countries full of history, culture and beauty that warmed my heart with the most wonderful people and sights.

Truth time, prior to my impending two-week trip I was a bit anxious about the whole thing and I honestly didn’t know what to expect when I arrived. However, it turned out to be a fantastic experience, better than I could have ever dreamed, and I soon started to realize that prejudices had probably blinded too many pairs of eyes, including mine.

I hope these photos can both represent the beauty of those places and help others open their eyes, too.

Tel Aviv Museum of Art
My journey started in Tel Aviv, Israel’s largest and also most modern and vibrant city. The beach may be the main draw, but Tel Aviv is more than its famous strip of sand, and has recently become a real playground for all art and architecture lovers like me – not surprising at all given the flow of creative energy which runs through the city. A local and tourist favorite, the ultra-modern Museum of Art contains works by Degas, Monet, Van Gogh, Picasso, Jackson Pollock and the world’s largest collection of work by Israeli artists that provided awesome sightseeing opportunities.

Temple Mount
One the most memorable moments of my trip was getting lost in Jerusalem, a kaleidoscope of ancient religious sites. It’s a uniquely powerful place, regardless of your beliefs, and while wondering through it you can’t avoid feeling overwhelmed by its significance.

Ridiculous as it may sound, the best way to discover the Old City is to get a little lost. I walked for hours on its cobblestone roads, observing the social interactions and cultural manifestations of its residents, seeing how similar yet different they all were.

At the heart of the Old City and just a stone’s throw beyond the Wall is the Dome of the Rock, a masterpiece of Islamic architecture and one of the most sacred places for Muslims. It is a very sensitive place but probably one of the most representative symbols of Jerusalem. As I approached the shrine, I was amazed by the gorgeous mosaic tiles, the golden dome and the relaxed atmosphere. Then, off in the distance, I saw the Mount of Olives, and it finally hit me: I was physically standing on Temple Mount, one of the most world-renowned, iconic and marvelous locations in the world. I was absolutely mesmerized.

Dead Sea
Floating in the Dead Sea was also truly amazing. With a salt concentration of 34%, your body floats in the water without effort. It’s actually difficult to swim and the sensation you get is quite strange and unexplainable.

While bobbing 430 metros below sea level, I let my mind wander. I watched the mountains turn purple and the water illuminate around me, reflecting the red sky. Across the lake, I could see the twinkling lights of Bethlehem, Jerusalem and Jericho in Israel. The scenery was magnetic. Floating in the Dead Sea at sunset was a magical experience that I will never forget.

 

Siq
Visiting Jordan was definitely a highlight of my winter adventure. I’d wanted to see Petra for so long I could barely sleep with the excitement the night before.
The thing is, every corner of the world is full of beauty and undiscovered mysteries, but Petra is one of those places that really manage to stand above the crowd.
I entered the city through an impressively narrow gorge called the Siq, almost 2 kilometres in length, with impressive 70+ meters rock sides. From the moment I walked into this spectacular red canyon I was dazzled by the majesty of the Lost City, and when I finally got to the ruins, all I could muster was a simple, breathless, “Wow”.

The Treasury
I’d wanted to visit Petra for so long I could barely sleep with the excitement the night before. It was incredible. It was everything it promised to be and more. It was like a shock of light, colors, fragrances and sounds that stretched the limits of my imagination.

From the moment I entered the red narrow canyon of the Siq I was dazzled by the majesty of the Lost City, and when I finally got to the Treasury,  all I could muster was a simple, breathless, “Wow”.

The Monastery
It was about four in the afternoon when I started up the 850 steps to the hillside facade called the Monastery. During our hike, I passed by dramatic cliffs and rocks, Bedouins selling their goods, and many many donkeys. Soon enough I turned the corner and found the stunning Monastery towering over the rest of the area. The colors, the hand-carved details, the enormity, the history, the beauty. A few steps away, I saw two strange signs reading: “All directions” and “the end of the world”. My legs were instantly relinquished from tiredness and all my senses became completely captivated by Petra’s most colossal vision. Who knows , maybe I really was at the end of the world.

Save

Save

Top