It is not that I have a death wish but I do enjoy feeling fear just so I can continue on doing what I’m doing despite that crippling sensation that causes most people to freeze up and hide. Don’t get me wrong, no one likes to be scared but the feeling of accomplishment that you get after succeeding in beating what you are afraid of is addicting and it helps you grow. So yes I admit that I have a problem: hi my name is Tiffany and I am an adrenaline junkie. People who are thrill seekers are often referred to as Type-T personalties(yes I googled why I am the way I am lol). I will try to break down the psychology behind these “crazy” individuals by looking into my own mind and discussing my motives for seeking heart pounding sensations that may deter some people.
Conquering one’s fears is one of the quickest ways to grow into the best version of oneself. Fear is natural. It is something that our ancestors developed in order to survive and the evolutionary significance of being scared has benefitted our species since it allows us to sense danger and to either activate our freeze, flight or fight responses. In order to get the correct reaction for a situation where one’s life is in danger, we need quick reflexes; to hone into these instinctual processes that are wired into our DNA, we need to put them into practice. In my opinion, the best way of doing this is through the practice of continuing on despite being fearful. To keep moving and to be calm on the outside even though you are losing your shit on the inside. If someone tells you that they are fearless, it is not that they do not feel fear but they continue on anyway despite the scary situation that they are facing. Feeling fear is an integral part of being a human being. We do not have the physical strength or speed that some animals have and it is our sensations/emotions that help keep us alive.
Conquering your fears is similar to working out. You need to consistently lift weights in order to grow stronger and in order to lift heavier you have to start small. Choosing to be brave is a similar process. You have to take baby steps to build up tolerance and ultimately fear is just a feeling that could potentially keep you from accomplishing tangible feats. You are essentially in total control of the situation and how you react to it by learning how you react to scary/life threatening situations. If you are familiar with the enneagram, those who have the need to be in control are usually type 8’s; I am a type 8 wing 7 which means that I need to be in control but I also seek adventure and love to explore new places and value experiences. This can be contradicting since new experiences are not exactly the most controlled environments.
If you have never heard of the Enneagram, it is a version of a personality test similar to the MTBI but I find it to be more accurate than the MTBI in my case. There are 9 personality types and they are influenced by how you were raised and the childhood traumas that you may have experienced. The emphasis is on how certain individuals deal with their environments based on the personalities that they have developed. It is worth researching if you are interested in learning more about yourself and the people in your life.
Now that we got that out of the way, we can focus on the task of climbing the famed Matterhorn– one of, if not the most dangerous(but breathtaking) peaks in the world. So what does climbing this mountain have to do with anything?
It is personal for me because I have always been afraid of heights. I have tried to overcome this by skydiving and parasailing but it is different because both of these things do not require perseverance and continuous work in convincing yourself to take the leap. Yes, you still need to literally convince yourself to leap off the plane and it takes bravery to jump out of a moving plane thousands of feet in the sky but it only requires one second of decision making in order to do so. It is not a constant decision to be fearless unless you jump out of the plane multiple times. Also, all the point of references that you would have in regards to how high up you are are basically nonexistent so it isn’t really about heights in this situation. It is mostly you convincing yourself to jump. You do not need to train your body in order to jump out of a plane, it is instant and it is all in your mind. You are not in control after you make that jump. Whereas, climbing a mountain is a grueling and long journey, where you will have to endure multiple obstacles both on and off the mountain and be extremely patient. The timing, weather, how fit you are, your level of experience and many other factors come into play when you are a mountain climber. Every detail can mean the difference between life or death. Most of these details, however, are in your control. The only ones that aren’t is weather and falling rocks/avalanches. Your mind can be both an asset and your enemy in these situations and it is up to you to decide which. However, I want to point out that preparation is crucial in any dangerous task in terms of lowering your risks. Taking the least risky option is how most adventure seekers stay alive to see another day and conquer another feat. Impulsivity can be deadly and should not be confused with seeking novel experiences.
My first attempt to climb the Matterhorn was mostly a test of my patience but I learned a lot from it. One of the things I learned is to not attempt to climb when there is snow. I planned on getting to Zermatt and finding a guide that same day and leaving in the morning the next day to climb but my plans did not work out due to the weather and the season I visited in. This was a couple weeks ago in December and there was a whiteout in the mountains, especially on the Gornergrat where visibility was close to zero. This situation could be deadly for climbers as I soon learned since you need to be able to see where you are climbing in order to not die. Who would’ve thought? Second thing I learned was that you need a shitload of mountain climbing experience to even convince someone to take you up there. I did not have Everest or even the local rock climbing gym under my belt…I had literally no experience whatsoever. Third, people usually train months in advance for this shit and I trained two weeks in advanced because that was when I decided to book the ticket. Okay, so as you can probably tell I was not prepared and would most likely die if I attempted to climb the Matterhorn on this trip. Good news is I have until summer of next year to train because that is when they open the peaks to climbers and I got to snowboard on the swiss alps which was cool and super fun. Highly recommend. Side note, the intermediate peaks in Switzerland are actually the black diamonds in America. I learned this the hard way and slid down on my butt a good portion of the peak.
Whenever someone asks me what my most favorite place that I’ve traveled to is, my response is always Monaco. Why? Good vibes and poker.
I wish vibes could be transmitted through a computer screen so I could show you the feel good energy mecca that is the city of Monte Carlo. For the moment being–at least until we can figure out a way to administer sensations through technology screens–you would probably need to physically go to Monaco to experience this euphoria. I have had a couple people ask me if Monaco is worth visiting, if it’s safe and whether there are a lot of things to do so I figured it was about time to spill the tea.
When one thinks of Monaco, the images of Casinos and Yacht parties usually are the first things that come to mind and for good reason; this place is known for high stakes gambling and luxurious parties. But that is not to say these are the only two things to do here. This small country boasts a glorious yacht filled harbored coastline as well as majestic twinkling mountains that one can admire from the water at night. The combination of both of these contrasting landscapes creates a balance that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. Although the city itself is quite gorgeous, it is the people that make this place so fun to hang out in. Everyone seems to be in a good mood and appears to not have a care in the world which makes you chill out a bit too. Energy…It’s contagious.
If the good vibes aren’t enough to convince you, there are a couple other reasons why this place should be on top of your bucket list. I am not the biggest aquarium enthusiast but the Musée Océanographique de Monaco is the nicest aquarium/museum I have ever seen. It is unforgettable. I think I might’ve found Nemo here, along with the cast of shark tank(holla to Mark Cuban).
Another reason why this place is so cool is because of the architecture. There are plenty of castles and churches to admire if you get bored of boating or playing poker.
It is how a place makes you feel and this influences your memories when you look back and remember that place and Monaco gives me warm fuzzy feelings sans champagne. You have the option of chilling on the beach or hiking up the hillsides as well as hitting the town to shop and people watch all at once without having to venture out of the city. The coast features one of my favorite drives along the french riviera and if you get the chance I would highly suggest taking a mini sight seeing road-trip around the coastline of Southern France and Monaco.
Vibe checked in Lisbon- The European San Francisco…sorta
Of course I had to visit the Land of egg tarts!
I am drooling as I am writing this and reminiscing on the warm egg tart sprinkled with a dash of cinnamon that I had in Lisbon.
Portugal is a charming place… the buildings are covered with art–both in the from of tiles or graffiti(the good kind!)– and the city of Lisbon has an old school rustic hipster vibe. You are a short drive away from rad surf spots, everybody is friendly/chill and there are yummy egg tarts(better than golden gate bakery in SF’s Chinatown dare I say). It reminded me of SF in a way; the 25 de Abril Bridge is almost an exact replica of the famed Golden Gate Bridge(one of my favorite bridges). In fact, the company that designed the bridges in the bay area(including the bay bridge) also designed Portugal’s red bridge. The main difference is how inexpensive it was here! Compared to her European counterparts, Portugal is one of the most affordable countries.
As I arrived from the airport on an early Sunday morning, I noticed that the city was different from other European cities in that there was literally no one outside. It freaked me out a little. It was a weekend but the streets were almost completely empty, very uncharacteristic of European towns. I began to question if I was in the right place, the pictures I saw of Lisbon featured lively crowded cobbled streets with plenty of culture and people. My experience was different. All of the shops were closed and there was no one in sight. I thought I happened to be caught in the aftermath of an apocalypse that I was unaware had occurred somehow. A bit creeped out, I texted a friend that had been to Lisbon before and asked him what the eff was going on. He explained, that Portugal is a weird place but you learn to love it; people here do not go outside until after noon and businesses do not open early. It’s chill, and clearly, I needed a vibe check. If you want to learn how to truly take it easy, visiting Lisbon might be a good idea. People do things on their own time and at their own pace. Coming from a place where things were pretty much open all the time and there were always people outside as soon as the sun rises, this was quite the shock for me.
Accommodations: i stayed at an adult themed hotel so you don’t have to
I ended up choosing a boutique hotel which was walking distance from the main attractions I wanted to see. I stayed at the Maxime Hotel which features Burlesque themed rooms and a cool bar(they give you a free drink ticket as soon as you arrive). Now we’re talkin’. The hotel also included a free breakfast which had tons of options and even egg tarts! Just another note, I was unaware of the Burlesque theme and figured it out the hard way… I thought I had managed to accidentally book an “adult activity” hotel since there were bondage rooms, ect. It isn’t as bad as it sounds, I just minded my own business and explored during the day and came back to sleep at night, there was no issue. It was an overall comfortable stay and in the center of Lisboa which was convenient. I would recommend it for couples! If you are traveling as a family or with children I wouldn’t say that this place isn’t an option but be aware, I was completely oblivious and had to get another vibe check.
“If I listed spots that you could just google without offering any other value then I would be guilty of wasting your time“
Honestly, I could list a couple places that are worth visiting and I will do that as well but I wanted to mention that the entire city itself is worth seeing, not just these specific popular tourist attractions. I did not intentionally set out to see any sight in particular but managed to see all the significant spots by just wandering and getting lost. If I listed things that you could just google without offering any other value then I would be guilty of wasting your time. I will include my own opinions of these places and try my best to accurately describe them so you can feel like you were also there with me. The element of surprise increases the awe you will feel when you see the spots spontaneously and you can judge for yourself if certain places are worth the hype or not 🙂
Belem tower: It is similar to a moat since it is surrounded by water but it’s built like a small castle. There is a bridge that allows you to enter the tower and get a view of the 25th de Abril bridge.
Castelo de Jorge: I only had a chance to peak in from the outside because the lines to get in were ridiculous…be sure to come early if you want to go inside. From what I could see, it features a view of the entire city but you could also see that from the viewpoint for free sans lines.
Santa Justa Lift: I have to admit, the history behind this one is pretty cool and quite informative. The lift itself gave off gothic mid century vibes.
Miradoura de Santa Luzia: Breathtaking view of entire town
Museum de Patriarchial: You won’t miss this one, it is quite a looker.
Ever get the urge to travel to outer-space…more specifically Mars? @ElonMusk yes I’m talking to you, bro.
I have a solution for you, Elon. And I think you’re going to like it. It doesn’t include buying used rockets from Russia or launching Teslas into space because you can literally just hop on a plane and have pretty much the same experience with like half the effort.
Jokes aside, Iceland is out of this world and if you are a nature fanatic you’ll be smitten. It doesn’t even feel like you are on Earth anymore at times because some of the sights were just unreal. Think Lord of the Ring or Game of Thrones vibes. I’ll support my claims with substantial evidence in the form of pictures, do not fret my friends.
Logistical stuff: We landed in Reykjavik airport and decided to drive to the Blue Lagoon right away to rejuvenate after the long flight(I flew in from San Francisco so it was about a 9 hour flight). I think renting a car in Iceland is absolutely necessary since there are not many options for public transportation and I would relate the entire experience to an epic road trip with stunning sights everywhere you look. With that being said, it is a lot of driving; if I were to go back(and I am planning on doing this!) I would consider renting a camper van and ditching staying at hotels altogether. You have the option of literally just parking anywhere and sleeping.. don’t worry, Iceland is extremely safe and more often than not there are no other people around to bother you. The convenience of getting a van is that you do not need to go through the trouble of finding your hotel and then going back and forth to see sights like we did. It’s easier to keep with the momentum of your road-trip. If you aren’t about that van life, I suggest spending the extra money to get a jeep or a 4×4 because you are probably going to end up on dirt roads and rough terrain at some point during your time here.
This place is a force to be reckoned with and being there made me feel like a small insignificant human(in a good way). The wind has been known to cause car doors to fly off completely, just a warning for those of you who like to keep the door open to put on your layers or to take pictures. Going off tangent, being in nature forces you to feel like your everyday struggles are small because it is unpredictable. How does one prepare for the unpredictability of life? Proper planning. One minute you are chasing rainbows and the next you are driving through a hail storm. Just as you wouldn’t go to space without the right gear, going into Iceland unprepared could be quite dangerous.
Depending on the season you find yourself in, it is probably going to be cold with the exception of summer–when it is 24 hours of daylight, cool right? I would suggest visiting in the summer is you are a fan of long hikes because you can literally hike the entire day and it will still be daylight out. There were certain hikes which led to hot springs that I could not do at the time I was there because there weren’t enough hours of daylight and it would require camping out in the cold. This is not an issue you would be facing in the Summer. However, if you are adamant on catching a glimpse of the Aurora Borealis(I am coming back JUST for this) then you will find yourself there in either the fall or winter. Fair warning, it feels colder than New York even though temperature wise it might be the same(the wind is quite strong) and for my friends who keep up with me on social media, you know how much I complain about how cold NY is. In addition to this, bring waterproof clothing; extremely important, especially for those of you who are not fans of hypothermia(for you hypothermia fans, feel free to skip this part). You will also need a good pair of waterproof hiking boots or snow boots and layering will be your best buddy. I was pretty much in my snowboarding gear for most of my time here with the exception of when I would go into the hot springs. Yep, you heard correctly. There are natural hot springs here and they are the bomb dot com. The blue lagoon is included but it is man made(still super cool)…so don’t forget to bring a swimsuit, a quick dry towel, and flip flops. You do not want to get your boots wet(mine still smell like wet dog).
Now that we got the boring stuff out of the way, we can finally go over the amazing natural wonders that you can check out. Where do I even start? Let me include a map of Iceland and that might make things easier to understand. Most likely you will be coming from Southern Iceland and then either make your way east or west. The west fjords are a must see in my opinion, but then again, you will probably notice me saying everything is a must see because it is! Lol.
The amount of destinations you are able to visit not only depends on the duration of your trip but also on how much you like to linger/take your time or if you like to see it and move on right away to the next cool thing. I would say plan on being here for at least a week if you can if not two weeks. I wish I stayed longer. I was there for 5 days and it was definitely not enough and I am ashamed to say but I was speeding the entire time because we were the only ones on the road for miles. I still was not able to make it to the Northern part(which I heard from friends is where the coolest craters are). It is also the coldest part. The southern portion has numerous waterfalls whereas the Eastern part features glaciers and iceberg filled bodies of water. In the west, you’ll find the viking villages and the town of Vik. This is where you’ll see vast grassland and hills and sheep and black sand beaches. I am only giving an idea of how dramatically different each area is and how you can find yourself in a completely different landscape in such a short drive all on one island. The west fjords feature cliffs and ocean landscape like you’ve never seen before. The mountains had waterfalls that flowed straight into the ocean, my description does not do it justice. And as you are driving, you will find the most epic landscapes as you look to either the left or right. There were fields of moss that looked like you were in the film The Hobbit and then would find hilly red surfaces and made it feel like you were driving on Mars.
Attractions I recommend visiting:
Kirkjufellsfoss: I made the mistake of booking accommodations here my first night and had to drive the southern part twice–which I didn’t mind–but it was unnecessary and time consuming. We did get a sick view of the famed mountain from our bedroom. For the accommodations, we opted for the Kirkjufell Guesthouse and lucked out since we got the front room with the most amazing view; they also have a kitchen and shared work area.
2. Southern part: The Golden Road
This portion is the most touristy and crowded in my opinion but for good reason. There are a plethora of sights to see on the south coast and most of them involve waterfalls! It is a lot to go over so I will list out the most memorable things I saw here and include photos 🙂
Solheimasandur airplane wreck
3. Vik and Black Sand Beaches
4. Eastern Coast: Features lots and lots of glaciers as well as a diamond beach.
Fjallsárlón Glacial Lagoon
pretty much the entire thing…highly suggest you make as many stops as your heart desires, you won’t regret it. The road might seem to look the same the entire time but if you get out and walk a bit, you will find amazing glacial views like the one below.
5. Dynjandi: My favorite waterfall. Although getting there was quite tough due to the windy mountainous road, it was definitely worth it.
6. Tjoruhusid fish restaurant: The best fish buffet style.
Warning: This is going to be a long post…I am spilling tea!
“Hawaii is paradise. It sounds cheesy to say it, but there’s music in the air there.”
I couldn’t agree more with Bruno Mars, Hawaii is where I go when I want to escape the bustling city or whenever I am feeling burnt out; I never fail to find myself fully rejuvenated after–the tan is an added bonus.
There are five islands and judging from the three that I have visited, each island has a completely different vibe despite being so close to each other in proximity( I have only been to 3 because I love Oahu so much and opt to go there EVERY time I am in Hawaii). I have never gotten or think I will ever get bored of it. That is because Lanikai Beach–which is in Oahu– is my favorite beach of all time and I would visit just to relax there. This year, I was lucky enough to get the chance to go twice; both times with my dearest friends. The previous years have been with people I love as well, my mother being one of them(Hawaii is her jam) as well as my grandma. So as you can guess, this place holds a permanent spot in my heart.
Maui and Kauai(which I will cover in a separate post) were both a breath of fresh air and completely different from each other. Each Island offers a unique experience. Oahu by far has the most clear water but each Island has it’s own redeeming quality. The best part of it all is that it’s not Hawaii itself that is so special–even though it’s the bomb dot com–but it’s the people I’m surrounded with whenever I am there. Lots of good times were had and memories made! It’s oa-who you’re with not where you are…I had to do it.
“It’s not where you are in life; it’s who you have by your side that matters”
idk who said this but #deep af
Okay, now that we got the cheese out of the way, we can get down to business…to defeat the buns(I am so sorry). If you are still here after that atrocious Mulan/burger joke, kudos to you. Your prize is you get to come to Hawaii with me in spirit as I relive my experiences😁. Don’t forget to turn your imagination caps on—is that even a thing?– because you are going to want to envision the gorgeous scenery(don’t worry I’ll include pictures too).
My first time visiting Oahu was back in middle school with my parents and I came back almost every year after that with either my mom or close friends. If I am with my mom we usually ditch the touristy things and get straight to it. Our first stop would be Chinatown to grab her favorite tropical fruits and to eat at her favorite spot–Maguro brothers. Then after we would head to Lanikai and chill there for the day. After plenty of swimming and tanning, we would go to Whole Foods to grab a snack or find a new acai spot. Other days we would drive to the North Shore and stop by Giovanni’s shrimp truck and the fruit stands along the way to Sunset Beach where we would watch the sunset. Tip: this is the best sunset on the island, it earned the name. Second best is the view from the Pillbox hike.
Oahu pt 1- Moped and Roofie Incident
Fun story time(it was definitely not funny at the time): Please excuse the run on sentences and bad structure for this portion but I need to include all the details–which is the best part. And before I forget, shoutout to Savannah and Kina because we almost died so many times during this trip and most of it was my idea LOL sorry guys.
This entire trip resulted in one giant ridiculous story about us making dumb life choices which led to at least one of us almost getting killed. The first day consisted of us renting mopeds–keep in mind, Savannah gets in like 10 car accidents per year and I am not the best driver either(road rage)…Kina is a good driver but she drives slow which caused her to get hit by a car but I’ll get there in a sec. Picture the three of at some shady tourist stand renting out these janky mopeds(side note: They gave us defected Mopeds. Mine would stall at green lights and Savannah’s kept running out of gas no matter how many times we filled it). We could barely balance on these things and we attempted “mopeding”(not a real word but it is now) from Waikiki to Lanikai because the plan was to kayak to the Mokulua Islands(the two Islands you can see in my Lanikai pics).
It’s usually only a 20 minute drive if you take the freeway but we weren’t allowed on the freeway(that didn’t stop Savannah) so it took us 4 hours one way, maybe more, because it started getting dark by the time we made it to Kailua. To add the cherry on top, it started to rain that day; maybe this will help you form a better image of what went down. Three dumb girls on their mopeds, one following after the other in a line formation over cliffs(that our mopeds could barely climb up) in the rain, lost and soaking wet and bickering whilst sobbing. On the bright side you couldn’t distinguish if it was tears or rain drops falling down our cheeks..probably both. It was literally the perfect example of the blind leading the blind.
Okay enough self-pity, back to the good stuff. Not even 10 minutes after we set off on our journey to hell, Savannah–who was leading because her phones GPS was the only one that worked–turned into the freeway on her moped at 35 mph. Imagine the image, poor Savannah going at a solid pace of 40 mph max.– ’cause that’s the fastest the damn moped would go– on the freeway while the cars woosh past her at 70 mph. We thought we had lost her and so Kina and I just stopped on the side of the road and stared at each other in disbelief.
Half an hour later, Savannah somehow managed to circle back just as we finally figured out how to break the news to her mom(jk) and we started off again. Since the freeway wasn’t an option, we had to take the highway which circles the coastline and goes through very steep, rocky cliffs that are extremely high. So high that we would forsure die if we were to make one wrong swerve(and we didn’t know how not to swerve honestly). On top of that, we had to drive next to cars on this narrow and imaginary moped shoulder lane we made up to justify our right to the road(not a single soul was on a moped or bike on this road, not one, it was just cars and I’m sure the cars hated us for going so slow and also b/c we were in the middle of the lane blocking everyone). I’m looking at you Kina. Savannah was speeding off because she likes to drive fast(In hindsight, I think she was panicking and wanted to get there quicker) and I was following after her trying to keep up when I look back and no longer saw Kina. I yelled for Savanah to stop and caught up with her and I’m pretty sure the dialogue went something like…
Me: “yo, we lost Kina.”
Savannah: “Nah, she’s prob just slow.”
*both waiting impatiently waiting for 20 minutes, a little pissed at Kina for being slow
She is finally in view coming up super slowly, as you can already guess, and we were both annoyed until she told us she was hit by a car but got up and kept going because we both didn’t look back and left her behind. The person offered to take her to the hospital but since she didn’t want to lose us she refused and tried to catch up with us instead, what a trooper. We felt so shitty for leaving her so we let her take the lead this time, which obviously did not work out. Savannah kept tailgating me but I couldn’t go any faster because Kina was in front of me so we started bickering. I was scared Savannah would rear end me and Kina was scared I would hit her. Eventually they made me lead but I didn’t have a working phone so that was an issue since I had no idea where I was going. I’m going to save you from the nitty gritty details of us struggling to find the right directions and tell you that we didn’t make it in time to Kayak because they close at 4 and we got there close to 6. We left at noon, I believe.
We didn’t want to moped back in the dark and over the cliffs at night in the rain, so out of desperation we called the rental place and demanded they come pick up their mopeds and we would just uber home. They didn’t agree to this of course and we headed back on the wretched mopeds and took turns having mental breakdowns. We made it back to civilization–not before Savannah almost fell into a ditch twice and ran out of gas, though– and by this time all of our phones had died so we had no way of navigating our way back to the hotel. We got lost on some residential street in front of this house with a white van and started losing our shit. That was when the owner of said van came out and asked if we needed help. After he had heard about the entirety of our ordeal, he offered to lead us back; we would follow his van back to the hotel, at first we were skeptical because if you put two and two together, white van+stranger equals questionable circumstances. BUT we were so exhausted at this point that dying didn’t seem all too bad so we accepted his help and he turned out to be the kindest man ever to inhabit this planet. He helped us get back and when we offered him gas money he refused even though he had to drive a good 15 minutes to get us back to our hotel and another 15 minutes home. While he was leading us, he had to stop multiple times to wait for us to catch up too. Thank goodness for kind people! I noticed that lots of locals are super nice and willing to help out struggling tourists so you are not on your own. Whenever we made our pit stops to cry on the mopeds, people would stop and see if we were doing okay, their kindness definitely boosted our morale.
That night, after everything that we went through, we decided that we needed drinks. So we went bar hopping in Waikiki(not recommended). Long story short, Savannah got roofied by some dude and luckily I was being a “debby downer”(her words) l o l and refused to drink that night. My gut was telling me that there was something off about that bar and the people there that night. The guy told Savannah he was a businessman and was visiting from out of town and she believed him but another guy came up to me and told me that this dude was a local who comes every night. I think this was when I got distracted and the guy put something in Sav’s drink. Thankfully, I was completely sober so he couldn’t take her away with him. He even tried getting all of us to come with him and his friends when another guy stopped us and told the bouncer about the situation. It was a weird night. We ended up in the club upstairs(where the owner told us that she thought our friend had been drugged) and Savannah ended up throwing up so much that we contemplated taking her to the hospital but drunk Savannah convinced us not to somehow and we just took her back to the hotel. Next day, we rented an actual car and went to the north shore and then we went jet skiing; so the trip was redeemed at the end. I actually saw the bar where she was roofied the last time I was in Waikiki and it burned down, symbolism.
Now, if you have been following my other posts you may have noticed that I like to start off with a shitload of picture but not this time because I believe in saving the best for last. LOL just kidding you have been patient enough. In fact, I am going to try something new and use more pictures to tell the story since a picture is worth a thousand words, am I right? aka I just took a lot of pics and want to share with y’all.
Oahu pt 2: Biking instead of mopeding this time…I learned my lesson
This girls trip was a lot more tame, I was with with Shon and Heyun, it was mostly just us getting sunburned(even though it was cloudy) and eating Poke at the Costco food court because we couldn’t find a place to sit. The bickering started on the third day but that was expected and it was overall a fun/relaxing trip with the gals.
I do have a funny club/bar hopping story for you that, you guessed it, happened in Waikiki. Point is going out to drink with your friends in Oahu is not what you expect it to be; you come looking for a good time and leave with regrets. Our story begins at Rumfire in the Sheraton. It started off with us enjoying each others company, sharing a huge MaiTai and fries, and ended with all of us being questioned if our names were actually Tiffany. Why can’t 3 girls who are in the same bar and happen to be friends all be named Tiffany? Well, turns out somebody lied about their name–and couldn’t come up with any name other than Tiffany– when a group of guys came over and started talking to us; if some people are not aware, Shon’s first name is Tiffany and so is mine, that is why we opted to use our last names when referring to each other. Well, one of the guys caught on(the others didn’t) and called us out. It was embarrassing and resulted in all three of us literally making a run for it. Also if someone invites you to their “private beach” do NOT go with them, there is no such thing, most beaches are public in Oahu.
The next day we decided to bike to a fish market called Tamashiro to get poke. We ended up ubering there halfway because Shon couldn’t keep up with Heyun’s SoulCycling pace. Once again, I was in the middle so I was trying to keep up with Heyun while waiting for Shon after hearing her cries for help. We followed a basic itinerary for this trip, we hiked Diamond Head and Lanikai Pillbox then rented a car for one day to go to the North Shore. I’ll provide full list of my favorite spots and things to do at the end of this post! In regards to accommodations, we stayed in a hotel(the Hilton) for half of the trip then an airbnb in Lanikai(it was closer to Kailua so we drove to the beach, which was about a 10 minute drive)so we wouldn’t have to pay for parking in Waikiki.
“Point is going out to drink with your friends in Oahu is not what you expect it to be”
Oahu pt 3: Parasailing and surfing and a #deep tangent!
Spontaneously, I came back about a month after with another friend and this time we decided to Island hop and spend half our time on Oahu and the other on Kauai. The first day he came in riding a moped(triggered, jk) but since we planned on staying in Waikiki the entire time with the exception of stopping by Lanikai for a bit, he ended up returning the moped and we opted to walk and get a zipcar(good option if you only need the car for a few hours and don’t want to pay the overpriced hotel parking fees) for a couple hours.
We didn’t have a set itinerary so we could do whatever we wanted to and so the first day consisted of chilling at Waikiki beach and catching up over some beer. Then we enjoyed beachside drinks at Duke’s to some Hawaiian music and watched the sunset; I had always passed by this place but never had a chance to try it out. Their MaiTai’s are definitely stiff so warning for all you light weights out there but they were delicious. I wish I was more sober during this trip so I could’ve taken more pictures but I was too busy having a good time and living in the moment. My friend and I were both dealing with our own personal issues at the time and this trip was a nice break from it all. We both needed to take a step back and reassess our lives… I am not saying you should do what we did and escape to an Island to get drunk but hey, yolo amirite?
Going off on a tangent: I think as human beings, we tend to isolate ourselves( I am guilty of this, trust me) when we are dealing with things that we can’t comprehend because it is overwhelming to have to be around others and to put on this front that everything is fine when it isn’t( and as much as people don’t want to admit this, we “act” as different versions of ourselves depending on who we are around). Just the other day, I was having a conversation with a couple people who I considered to be my close friends and haven’t seen for some time and they made some comments about how they perceived me–this was when I realized that they don’t really know me. It might be because people change as time passes and you have to get to know them again but also because they only know one side of you so it can sometimes feel exhausting to feel like you have to live up to the expectations people may have of you(I can’t always be a clown y’all).
So my point is, that it is important to have a people who you can just be around(literally just BE and know that they’ll love you no matter what). There are no expectations or labels, you can just be you and it’ll be accepted. It is most often that around these amazing humans(shoutout to my friend, who I will not name because it’s no one fucking business) that you can truly grow into the person you are meant to be and become the best version of yourself. Find these humans and protect them at all costs.
Sometimes you may not realize that what you are experiencing is growth because it can look messy at times and it is absolutely not glamorous but when you look back in hindsight the things that you thought broke you as a person just helped build you into a better version of yourself. Of course, I am in no position to give life advice to anyone, my life is a mess if you haven’t already noticed. This was what I learned on this trip and I thought would be worthwhile to share with y’all.
Okay, back to the fun, because there was tons of that…it wasn’t just two alcoholics moping around muttering shit about existentialism. We still like to enjoy life despite sucking at it sometimes. The next day was less off the books. I had planned everything out beforehand because we were celebrating my friend’s birthday and I wanted to surprise him with a fun day. This was when I learned that I am horrible at surprises LOL. So my friend does a lot of cool things and has done pretty much everything but I took a gamble and booked parasailing. I thought it was pretty cool and he probably just humored me. We got to see the entire Waikiki skyline and Diamond head from the air. I def recommend, it wasn’t scary at all and was quite peaceful once you are higher up. They decided to drop us about waist deep in the water though so if you have a shark phobia, good luck, but then again why are you in Hawaii?
The experience reminded me of the movie UP when the grumpy old man and the little boy fly off with the colorful balloons in search of adventure. We went surfing the day after too! I got surfing lessons from Micah, I’ll link his website here(http://mickeysurfschool.com), he held my hand(literally) through the entire process; I think I would’ve drowned if he weren’t by my side giving me pep talks and holding onto the board. My talented friend made it look easy. I learned the hard way that despite looking like you are pretty much snowboarding on water, surfing is a lot harder and requires a completely different skillset. I fell on every wave and I think I caught like half a wave before wiping out. The goal is to finally catch a full wave and ride it out without falling off. I love the waves in Waikiki because there were plenty of beginner baby waves(but this doesn’t mean that it’s a walk in the park) and the water was clear so you could see beneath you(I am always paranoid when I cannot see in water).
Things to do on the Island and my favorite places to eat:
Waikiki Beach area: There are tons of things to do in this area for everyone. Even though it is not one of my favorite beaches because of how crowded it is with tourists, it is a good place if you are just learning how to surf since you will be surrounded by other beginners too so it won’t seem too daunting. There is also a lot of food and shopping for those who do not want to get wet and sandy. Check out the Hilton Hawaiian Village if you are a fan of birds and one of the many seaside restaurant and bars. There is an infinity pool on the Sheraton side of the beach where you can grab Piña Coladas and chill with a view of diamond head. There is an abundance of Japanese food in this area and you should take advantage of it. Marugame udon is a must try. The line is almost always long but it moves quickly. Also try the spam misubi and poke here. Ono has the best poke and fish and for acai I like Island Vintage Coffee Co(try their coffee too).
Diamond Head hike: This is a relatively easy hike that you can do you in 15 minutes if the crowds aren’t too bad. The view from the top is stunning.
Kailua area: There are two main beaches in this area and it is more residential. The first is Kailua beach and the second is Lanikai. Both are, imo the two most beautiful beaches on the Island. You can windsurf at Kailua beach and kayak/paddle board at Lanikai. The snorkeling is better at Lanikai because the water is more calm and there is coral there too.
North Shore: You are going to need a car for this but it is worth it because there are so many attractions to see. There is Chinaman’s hat, the place where they filmed Jurassic Park where you can ride horses (no Chris Pratt is not part of the experience sadly), a waterfall, Dole plantation, Macadamia farms, Giovanni’s shrimp truck, fruit stands, and beaches with gnarly waves). The waves are a bit rowdier here so I do not suggest going out there until you are at least an intermediate surfer and swimmer.
Hanuama Bay: Snorkeling fanatics, this one is for you. The underwater sights are unparalleled because this is one of the largest reefs on Oahu.
Makapuu Lighthouse hike: This is a nice hike if you like vast ocean views, it was pretty windy the day we were there so we didn’t do the entire hike. There is a lighthouse at the end of it though.
Eternity Beach: Super exclusive beach since it’s difficult to get to but oh so beautiful. The hike is a bit dangerous, you need to climb down a rocky cliff area so wear proper footwear!
That’s it for now but you can bet I will keep adding to the list as I visit more and have more stories to share, adios beaches!
Have you ever wanted to travel back in time? Check out Cinque Terre National Park–it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site for a reason!
Time travel technology has yet to be invented(well, as far as we know) and the second best option one has to visit the past without a time machine might just as well be these five quaint villages on the Italian coast.
Cinque Terre literally means five lands in Italian and it consists exactly of what the name states–five villages situated on the Italian coast that you can access either by boat or hiking. It is by far one of the most unique and charming places I have ever traveled to, and I haven’t even gotten to the best part yet…there is an abundance of delicious Italian white wine. As you enter the town, the first thing you will see is the gorgeous Italian coast and distinctive architecture; secondly, you will notice the grape vineyards on the hills. I came by train from Florence–it was about a two hour train ride– and peered out the window to be surprised by a view of the clear blue water as well as vast ocean landscapes.
I booked a hotel in Manarola(Fun Fact: this is the village you are seeing when you google Cinque Terre and the most photogenic village). The hotel was called La Torretta and it is situated up on the top of a hill, just a heads up if any of y’all like to bring a lot of luggage with you when you travel. The good news is if you call the hotel when you arrive at the train station, they will bring a golf cart to drive you and your stuff up the hill! It was not a big hotel–it was family owned– but the service was spectacular, they give you champagne as soon as you arrive along with an appetizer to hold you over while you check in and you get to enjoy it while looking at the most amazing view(since it is on top of the hill, you can see the entire town from the balcony of the hotel).
As soon as we got to our room, we found complimentary bottles of wine and homemade Prosecco waiting for us! I am going to keep this transparent and point out that we did find a bug(not sure if it was actually a bed bug or not) on the foot blanket. We told the hotel staff and they replaced the bedding right away so it wasn’t a problem and as the window was open, it could have flew in from outside but I just wanted to let y’all know what to expect. When you are traveling, it is not always going to be comfortable and it will forsure not be what you are used to at home; I wasn’t used to the climate in Italy so my immune system gave out and I got the flu while I was in Cinque Terre. Remember to be mindful by bringing hand sanitizer and just taking the extra steps to protect yourself. Despite all this, I still recommend staying at La Torretta since the service was top notch, everyone spoke english, the breakfast was delish, and there was unlimited free wine. The pros definitely outweigh the cons on this one. I mean, look at that view!
Who likes foccacia bread? I do! Try the foccacia paired with the sparkling white wine, trust me. Despite having the flu, I still did the hike to every single village like a boss l o l; it was the coolest hike I’ve ever done. This is a 6 hour hike so be sure to bring water and snacks.You are hiking along vineyards which are to one side of you– there were so many juicy grapes–and when you look to the other side, you’ll see a steep drop down the ocean(jk but sometimes the trail does get narrow, please learn how to share the road before attempting the hike 😉.)
“Take only memories, leave only footprints”
About the 5 towns– Located in La Spezia, the towns are called: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. They are all different and each have their own charm, I would suggested spending time in each and trying out the food in all of them, you’ll be famished after hiking for 11km and nothing will taste better than some authentic Italian pasta and gelato. We stopped by a shop and got fresh squeezed orange juice and when we peered out to the seating area in the back, the view was breathtaking. I was left speechless quite often on this hike.
We only hiked the trail one way because it was five hours so we didn’t want to hike back in the dark and opted to take the ferry back. The ferry ride was super cool, especially as we were coming into the town, you could see the colorful buildings from a different perspective. If you are not fond of hiking or just don’t want to walk in the sun all day, you have the option to take the train to each village but you’ll miss out on the coastal views or you could take the ferry and still get a cool view from the water.
Cinque Terre holds a special place in my heart, it embodied the historical significance of culture and tradition. I am so grateful to be able to witness something so extraordinary with someone that I love 🙂
” Traveling- It leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” – Ibn Battuta
If I had to describe Alberta in 3 words: 1. serene 2. underrated 3. magical
Gonna keep it real here and point out that Banff’s beauty exceeded my expectations; I was not expecting it to be as pretty as it actually was in person. In my mind, I had thought it was one of those places that looked really photogenic but then boom you were hit with the anticlimactic sticker right in the center of your forehead and boy I was so f*cking wrong. I switched off between these three expressions the entire time I was there 😮😍🥶.
The places you find yourself ending up in unexpectedly are most often, the most memorable places, and Banff was just that. I had decided to go with a weeks prior notice since a buddy of mine was planning on visiting Calgary for work(shoutout to Steven!) and asked if I wanted to tag along. “Down”- she said and the rest was history LOL… we were both so unprepared for this trip(we both travel light which is a good thing but when it’s freezing, that is not very smart) but that made it even more fun because it was super spontaneous and we did whatever the fuck we wanted without having to follow an itinerary. Sometimes when you have been traveling for extended periods of time, everything feels very routine; you get burnt out and you are just on autopilot with the sole goal of checking things off of a list without experiencing them and I think this applies to to other areas of our lives too( like one’s work or relationships). Going with the flow helps you live in the present moment because you cannot predict what will happen next, everything will be a surprise and you are free to feel it out as it is happening in real time. Not a lot of humans nowadays allow themselves to feel things; people avoid this by seeking the safety of a set schedule and doing things just for the sake of doing them , never stopping to think of the why. Of course, I am not saying go into it completely unprepared–do your research– but do not be one of those people that need to have every single second planned for. You are a human being, not a robot. Please relax.
“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.”
I flew into Calgary airport and picked up my rental car(this was in October so be sure to get snow tires if you are planning on driving to the parks during this time, because trust me, there will be snow). Yup, there was no snow in Calgary but as you drive to the national parks, it will look like Tahoe on steroids. In fact, during our drive to Banff and Lake Louise, the snow was falling and everything looked so magical. It was my first time seeing such a sight and even Steven( the Disney Channel Show, jk)–who has seen lots of cool shit– was in awe at how beautiful the scenery was. It was like Christmas came early!
We had left around 9 am to drive to Lake Louise and arrived at around 11 am, it was overcast but still the most gorgeous lake I have ever since in my life. We took some pictures and just stared at the scenery because it was breathtaking; during this time, the clouds began to clear up and when the sun came out, the famed stunning blue color of the lake started to show. We got to see it both during the snowfall and when the skies were clear and both experiences left us in a state of utter shock and increased our vehemence for nature. Being in nature allows you witness something so much bigger than yourself and this emphasizes the trivialities of certain day to day problems you may have. I think being at Lake Louise was meditative in a way because of the emotions that it made me feel while I was there, I felt at peace, content and grateful for being alive and getting to see something this beautiful in the company of a good friend was nice.
“Traveling tends to magnify all human emotions.”
After spending a couple hours at Lake Louise(we didn’t want to leave!)…we decided to head to Lake Morraine but it ended up being closed to a cars for the season, you could still hike up there but we both did not have the right gear because we didn’t expect to come across any snow 😦 That was fine, we found another lake and I got to see an elk!!! We went to the Banff Gondola(45 USD per person) and the view was absolutely stunning. You get to see Banff from up top. It was also freezing and since my cold tolerance is shit I wasn’t having it so I admired it from inside the observatory through one of the huge windows. Bow waterfall is close by and worth checking out too. On our way back to the hotel, we saw an elk casually walking around the town square, pretty awesome I definitely stopped the car in the middle of the road(do not try this at home kids).
Day 2: We had learned from experience that we had to wake up earlier in order to go to more places before it got dark and so we attempted to leave at 6 am. Did not end up leaving at 6 but it was earlier than the first day. Jasper was the plan and it was a 4 hour drive so we planned a bit more today in terms of checking to see which stops we would want to see beforehand. As soon as we got to Jasper, we came across Lake Herbert and he was a looker. So we made a U-turn but there was nowhere to park; Steven just ended up stopping the car in the middle of the road because there were no other cars around thankfully as we took pics of Herbert. The goal of this trip was to see the Columbia Icefields and go to the glacier walk(I think this was the coldest location we had been to thus far because of the proximity to the glacier). We stopped at Maligne Canyon and attempted to do the hike but Steven was wearing white converse and it was extremely muddy so we headed back and decided to visit another waterfall when we saw a sign that says you could drive to the end of the hike that we were just about to do. JACKPOT..we got to reap the rewards without doing the work and I was also not into the thought of potential bear encounters–Berkeley students can be scary sometimes loljkjk bad joke.
The next day, Steven had to work so I decided to do a hike(Johnston Canyon) and visit Yoho National Park just so I could say Yoho big blowout sale!(Frozen reference) on social media. I also stopped at Emerald Lake and Natural Bridges on the way to Yoho after the hike.
Johnston Canyon: This is possibly one of my most favorite hikes of all time because the scenery was unreal. There were two main waterfalls–the Lower and Upper falls. The Lower falls were fairly easy to get to and only about a 10 minute walk from the parking lot but it was really cool because you could go through a little cave and on the other side you’d come face to face with the most beautiful waterfall. The upper falls is also worth the effort/time because of the sights along the way. The waterfall itself was alright but the journey made it worth it. The hike is fairly easy and I did it in jeans but you would need snow boots since the path was covered in ice and extremely slippery. At times, it felt like you were ice skating uphill; there is a railing to hold onto during the iciest parts though so don’t fret.
Emerald Lake: It was literally the color of emeralds and when you got closer it wasn’t the mossy “emerald” water you expect to see when water looks green(like Golden Gate Park), it was crystal clear. You could see the gravel at the bottom. Super cool.
Natural Bridges: This was by far the bluest water I have seen since being in Alberta. It did not look real and I think if you are in the area it is a must see.
Yoho: Not gonna lie, Yoho was aight. It was like a scene out of The Polar Express but I think this area is more industrial than touristy and as I was waterfall hunting here I came across a dirt road that looked abandoned because my GPS was being dumb and led me to the middle of nowhere. Long story short do not go looking for random waterfalls in Yoho if you do not know what you are doing.