Happy 2 year anniversary!

I can’t believe it. It has already been two years since I started this blog. It all started with a trip to Bolivia, to see my best friend from my all-consuming, incredible and once in a lifetime experience in Oklahoma. The journey to Bolivia was my first ever solo trip and it made me learn so much about myself and the world and experience South America’s beauty for the first time. Another continent crossed off my bucket list! We ventured around La Paz, spent some days at the Salar de Uyuni salt flats and I took an overnight bus trip to see Sucre on my own.

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Sucre, Bolivia

The rest of the summer was filled with trips around Germany, a week in Ibiza and a long awaited trip to Santorini, one of the most heart-warming, dazzling and enchanting places on this earth. Exploring this tiny island by hiking from one end to the other and enjoying utter tranquility and the natural beauty of the island just left me breathless.

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Galatia Villas in Santorini, Greece

Then it was time to prepare for another adventure: a year in Wales, finishing my Master’s degree in Cardiff. Little did I know that I would find my soul sisters, two incredible souls that I know will never leave my side, wherever life will take us. We share something real, something that is beyond words, beyond this world and even beyond my imagination. Definitely changed for good! I finished off the year with a trip to Dublin, Ireland to spend some time with my dear friend Susann to ring in the Christmas time.

Besides meeting incredible friends from all over the world, I got to experience that Wales is a truly underrated country. The landscapes, cities and people in Wales are so much more than beautiful, I cannot wait to come back this summer! I also got the opportunity to go back to Greece and see Athens, Cape Sounio and the Kaisariani Monastery. Despite being robbed my adventurous spirit made me make the best of it!

During my time in Wales I was lucky to travel to Canada for my best friend’s wedding. I definitely left my heart there and hopefully I’ll be back rather sooner than later to go and collect it. I can’t wait to be back in Alberta, meander windy roads around the Rocky Mountains and just LIVE.

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On our way to the Glacier Skywalk.

2015 got even better once I handed it my dissertation and left Cardiff for good. I jumped on a plane to Southeast Asia with my best friend and soulmate Nicole to start our first backpacking trip around Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia. It is safe to say that I more than fell in love with backpacking and taking the day one hour at a time, truly relishing the bliss of having the day at your disposal and enjoying a time off without responsibilities.

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Bali Bliss.

The incredible and eventful year wrapped up with a huge surprise. I got invited to go on a roadtrip through Japan! Never would I have imagined to get the opportunity to travel even more that year. I will forever be grateful and humble for this opportunity and wouldn’t want to miss the experience for the world. I got to admire Japanese architecture, eat carefully crafted dishes day in and day out and experience the craziness and mind-blowing size of Tokyo.

Nara, Japan

Nara, Japan

The new year started on a more slow note. I am incredibly happy to have found a full-time job and I even got to take a little trip over Easter, recharging from the craziness of everyday life in the Netherlands.

I am more than positive that this year and this life has so much more to offer and I cannot wait for all the experiences to come and to share them with you! Happy Birthday on wanderlust!

 

 

2015 Bucket List Review!

This is it, the year 2015 is more or less wrapped up. For me, this time of the year is always dedicated to re-living everything that has happened over the course of the last months. If you are one of those awesome fellas that regularly read my blog (YAY, big shout out to you guys!), you might remember my bucket list for 2015. It’s an excerpt from my infinite bucket list that I am hoping to check off in decades from now.

A bucket list really is like a to do list for me. As I have uttered several times, I simply like checking things off lists just to be excited for the next step on that list. But what I’ve learned this year is that bucket lists are a tad different. They really mostly fuel my excitement and are less straightforward than a regular to do list. I’ve learned how much I like veering off the beaten path and finding myself in situations I hadn’t planned out for myself.

So here is what I had planned and what actually happened:

Athens, Greece

Yep, that definitely happened! I still look back to this trip regularly. Not only because I relish thinking back to the incredible Greek architecture or the vast amounts of mouth-watering dishes we consumed but also because it made me learn a life-lesson right at the start of the new year: getting robbed and still managing to enjoy your trip.

Filopappou Hill Athens

Filopappou Hill Athens

Exploring Wales

I can also cross this off my list! And as a matter of fact, I could cross it off several times because I was lucky to explore Wales more than once. Every day whenever I wander through the streets that I currently call home or used to call home, I am determined to explore and look behind each hidden corner. But not only did I meander my immediate surroundings, I took three road trips around Wales!

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Driving around North Wales

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Skrinkle Haven Wales

Scotland

Well, I was not able to visit Scotland this year. I was all too consumed with running around Wales or sitting at my desk in Cardiff, head fuming with thoughts about assignments or my dissertation. But Scotland, I’ll be back someday!

Alberta, Canada

Hell, yeah! Words cannot even begin to describe how much this trip impacted me. Being a bridesmaid at my best friend’s wedding, road tripping through the most incredible landscapes I have ever seen, summitting my first mountain and just loving everyday life in rural Alberta. A trip to remember and a heart lost to Canada!

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Southeast Asia

A trip of a lifetime. My first backpacking trip and also my first time in Southeast Asia. This trip made me learn a lot about myself and about travelling. And even though we’ve been back for almost three months now, I am still basking in Bali bliss with my head in the clouds and radiant sun streams still leaving warm marks on my skin.

Sunrise hike on Mount Batur

Sunrise hike on Mount Batur

Jimbaran Beach Bali

Jimbaran Beach Bali

Breakfast at Crate Cafe

Breakfast at Crate Cafe

Black Forest, Prague and Barcelona

These three destinations still remain uncovered. With a year as eventful as this one and with as many accomplishments and changes happening, I am at peace with not having discovered these destinations. Instead, I focused on going back to my hometown more, admiring it with the eyes of a first-time visitor and building up an immense amount of gratefulness about having grown up here.

Well, were did I veer off the beaten path then? Being caught up in one-of-a-lifetime-experiences often doesn’t come planned. Just as my most recent trip to Japan did. Sitting at home, caught up with job applications with no immediate bucket list destinations ahead, I had never expected for such an opportunity to happen that quickly. A very dear friend and her family suddenly swooped me out of my rut and invited me to a road trip through Japan. Who would I be to say no that?! Against my I-am-an-adult-now better judgement I left my job applications instantaneously and went to rove around Japan.

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Himeji Castle in Japan

It made me realize that this truly is what I love about traveling. Expect the unexpected and just go with the flow. Those are the times when you discover who you’ve always been, what drives and motivates you and how you find your utter bliss.

 

The ebb and flow of Canada

Today’s post brings you back to my trip to Canada. As I mentioned before, I had a long bucket list with things I wanted to see and do. But the main reason I went to Canada was my friend’s wedding. So planning an itinerary was inappropriate and almost impossible. In everyday life, I am an avid and notorious planner. Checking off to do lists makes me happy and seeing progress just keeps me going. I also plan my trips. Right after booking a flight I ALWAYS immediately buy a travel guide. I relish this time of anticipation and daydreaming about the new adventures and experiences. But, I never plan too much. Like when I was planning my trip to Asia. It is all about doing the right amount of planning. Knowing where you want to go? Yes. Planning out every single hour of every single day? No. At least not for me.

Back to Canada – we had a frickin’ wedding to plan. Well, the planning was done so it all had to be put into place now. The wedding was being held on the family’s land so we did everything ourselves – the decoration, the setting up of the tent, the tables and the bar, planning every detail for the ceremony and the party and on top of all of that memorizing a flashmob-type choreography for the first dance.

While we were doing all of that, I got to see the most beautiful places in all of Alberta. Before we knew it, we had been to Lake Louise, seen Canmore and had a couple of beers in a local pub there, taken a roadtrip on the Icefields Parkway through Banff and Jasper National Park all the way up to the Athabasca Glacier and the Glacier Skywalk, did all my shopping of my favourite North-American brands (yep, always a must!) and visited a traditional bull riding contest in rural Cochrane. That’s six items of my bucket list in only three days.

What I learned from this, is that while traveling I will always let go of my finicky and detail oriented character traits. Eventually, everything fell into place without even trying. For our trips as well as for the wedding. These two weeks were definitely the highlight of this year for me. A country as magnificent as Canada and a wedding that couldn’t have been any more perfect, personal and memorable. As Corrie said, we just went with the ebb and flow of the crazy busy days and everything turned out exactly the way we imagined.

Here’s a little snapshot aka my first attempt at videography:

In case you’re wondering, I am not the biggest Taylor Swift fan – the song was part of my bridesmaid’s “speech” for the wedding.

Choosing who to travel with.

Overseas trips like my recent trip to Canada typically raise one big question: Are you a solo traveller, do you prefer to travel the world in a group or is there this one person that you just cannot travel without? I can definitely say that I am not a solo traveller. It’s because of the sheer fact that sharing your joy simply doubles it! I’ve travelled alone once in Bolivia and it just wasn’t for me. I feel that I am not a group traveller either. Too many different ideas, too many ways to approach travelling. That just stresses me out. I need one or two people that share the same vibes as me and “run the same pace” when it comes to travelling.

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Whether you prefer to travel in a group or with one or two travel buddies, I’d say knowing this is the most important thing. Make sure you share the same mind-set when it comes to travelling. Here are some questions that I feel you should ask yourself when deciding who to travel with:

Do you like to start the day at the crack of dawn or are you a lazy bird that likes to sleep in?

Party, a little party or please no party at all?

Do you loooove the beach or are you an albino-sunburn type of person that just can’t be outside in a bathing suit for too long unless you want to look like a lobster?

Are you a culture and museum kind of person or would you rather hike the highest mountains?

Of course, everything and everyone is not as black and white as this list. I, for example, like to get up early most of the times but I like some lazy days to just sleep in and relax. A little party is great, a hell lot of beach makes me happy. I love culture and museums but I’d much rather spend time outdoors and take in the wonders of nature.

What I am trying to tell you is that you should try to determine whether your travel preferences somehow align with those of the one you choose to travel with. Only then you can experience this incredible joy and let loose because you are totally entailed in activities that define you. From time to time consider letting go and let your travel buddy steer the way – you might be surprised that you’re an avid hiker after all or that you always thought you detest expressionist art but you suddenly find yourself in the Guggenheim museum in New York, admiring art. Compromises are good! Try new things, explore, leave your comfort zone and get to know the person that’s been hiding inside you all along. That’s the beauty of travelling – some hidden away traits suddenly come alive, you will feel recharged and rejuvenated and come home with endless stories to tell and an energy that is infinite.

Road trippin’ through Canada

Highway 93. Sounds like any other highway in North America. Don’t be fooled by it. It is also referred to as “Icefields Parkway” or “Promenade des Glaciers”. It takes you all the way through Alberta’s flagships, Banff and Jasper National Park. Sit back and just take in the breathtaking beauty of 230km of the Canadian Rockies leading you all the way up to the Columbia Icefields, Corrie’s and my destination for the day. The Athabasca Glacier is the main attraction there – you can book a tour that takes you onto the surface of the massive glacier where you can walk around and explore. Or you can check out the brand-new Glacier Skywalk: a glassbottom skywalk that hovers over a valley surrounded by sharp mountain ridges. To be honest, it is not as scary as I imagined it to be! Even if you are afraid of heights, you should give it a try. It is definitely worth peeing your pants!

Glacier Skywalk with the Canadian Rockies.

Glacier Skywalk with the Canadian Rockies.

Although these attractions are incredibly stunning, being on the road is the main attraction on this trip. The freedom of hopping into your car and just leaving everything behind is the best feeling in the world.