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Travel Reflections

Life Lately & Upcoming Travels: November 2016 Edition

november-2016

In my monthly round-ups, I am looking back at my travels over the past four weeks, what went well and what didn’t, and what’s next for me. 

Where I’ve been

I started the month with a few days in Los Angeles, which were not in my travel plans at all… followed by a full four weeks on Mexico. Which, well, also wasn’t part of my original plan, but in hindsight, I couldn’t have asked for a better turn of events, leading me to Puerto Vallarta eventually, where I am writing this now. You might remember from last month’s round-up that I was basically stranded in the U.S. after my trip to Istanbul fell through… read on to find out how I ended up in Mexico instead.November 2016I flew into Guadalajara, Mexico’s second city, where I spent a week, including a day trip to Tequila, and headed west from there to spend some time exploring the most popular towns along the popular Riviera Nayarit: Sayulita, San Pancho and Puerto Vallarta.

I had originally toyed with the idea of also visiting Guanajuato and San Miguel Allende, two towns north of Mexico City, but I quickly scrapped these plans – I didn’t want to travel too much and rush around, knowing I’d be having a limited amount of time because I would be flying back to California in early December. And even though I felt like I wasn’t moving around all that much, I ended up sleeping in 11 different beds over 30 days, meaning I was moving to a new places roughly every three days (that said, I moved places within cities several times, ending up sleeping in four different places in Puerto Vallarta, for example.)november collage

Life Lately

Sigh. It’s been quite a month. Donald Trump is president-elect. I got sick twice. I turned 36. It could’ve been such a great month, enjoying Mexico.. but, you can’t escape reality. Even when you’re in beautiful surroundings. While I was completely bummed out about the canceled trip to Istanbul at the end of last month, I got over that disappointment pretty quickly. As soon as I hit the ‘Purchase’ button for my ticket to Mexico, I was giddy with excitement. And now, after a month in the sun, I think this was a much better way to spend November than in Istanbul, where it would’ve been equally as cold as it had been in Seattle.

The disappointment I couldn’t shake off all month however: the U.S. election results (see Lowlights below). I tried to make myself feel better in so many ways: I started reading a page turner. I went to the beach. I socialized. I spent hours chatting with my closest friends and family. I hugged puppies. And kitties. I ate tacos. Drank margaritas. Ate more tacos. But the news and social media were a constant reminder of what had happened and gloomy headlines made me realize that even though I was in Mexico, this was a reality that was still there.

But let’s look at the highlights of the month – and luckily, the highlights outweighed the lowlights by far in November!November in Mexico

Highlights

Los Angeles.. again!

After I was in a bit of a funk when I spent nearly a month in the LA area in September, I was in high spirits when I arrived this time around. I was only supposed to have a layover in LAX, and fly straight to Istanbul from there, but after my trip to Turkey had been canceled only two days earlier, I decided to still use my ticket from Seattle to LA and figure out things from there. It was an excellent decision, because I arrived in LA during a heat wave and after basically shivering for the entire month in Seattle, I was more than ready for some hot weather. Being in 90F weather made me so happy. I also happened to be in town for a party my friends Jen and Chris threw at their house, I was able to reconnect with a friend I gotten into a little argument with in September, and I checked off a couple of neighborhoods off of my LA exploration list that I’d never been to: Highland Park and Mount Washington, which is up in the San Rafael Hills overlooking the city.Los Angeles november2016

Returning to Mexico

Well, you might think the ‘returning to..’ was a theme this month, but I was actually traveling to places in Mexico that were completely new to me. It was during a morning stroll around LA’s Highland Park neighborhood, which is largely Hispanic, that I decided on a whim to purchase a ticket to Mexico. Now it would’ve been easy to go to Mexico City or another place I already knew, but I decided it was time to see a new place. During my month in Mexico this past March / April I had only visited a couple of new places (Cuetzalan and El Tajin), but there’s so much of the country I haven’t seen yet. And that’s how I ended up buying a ticket to Guadalajara, and it felt absolutely amazing to be back in Mexico when I meandered through the beautiful historic town center, picking up fresh fruit from a street vendor, and enjoying chilaquiles for breakfast.  I just love this country, and it is one of those places where I can fall into a routine again easily, feeling at home straight away.Mexico November 2016

Beach life in the Riviera Nayarit

I just love beach life. There, I said it. Even though I’m a city girl through and through, sometimes all I need is a dose of beach life to make me feel better. You might remember that I was struggling a little bit in Seattle because of how cold and rainy it was – well, a few days on a beach is apparently all I need to feel alive again. I’ve already touched on my not very exciting routine of beach runs, ocean dips, SUP sessions and sunset beers in last week’s Polaroid, but I want to say it again: I love beach life, and I felt the same way during my time in Long Beach in September.Mexico Beach Life

Birthday splurge in Puerto Vallarta

Being a freelancer means I am constantly hustling for business, trying to make ends meet, and this means: I am traveling on a budget most of the time. The times that I decide to splurge on a truly nice place to stay are rare, and my birthday this month was the perfect excuse for a little extravaganza. I had a visitor from the States, and so we didn’t only splurge on a fancy apartment in Puerto Vallarta, but also on nice meals during which I actually focused on the meal instead of working through it. The same goes for cocktails (which I wouldn’t drink by myself) and hours spent away from my laptop. When I wasn’t traveling solo this month, I felt like I was taking in every moment much more consciously, and particularly those that made my birthday so special: rooftop cocktails, SUPing in the ocean, jungle hikes, and setting working hours, because I have to admit that I can easily spend all day long in front of my laptop when I’m by myself, and that includes a whole bunch of ‘wasting time on the internet’, which would be better spent with a book on the beach.Birthday in Mexico

Lowlights

Post election blues

The biggest lowlight of the month has been the election, without a doubt. Even though id predicted the outcome exactly as it happened, discussing it with friends of mine already back in Europe this past summer, once the results were confirmed, I couldn’t stop crying for two days straight. Two days straight. I don’t even remember the last time I cried that hard. I was sobbing uncontrollably in a Starbucks in Guadalajara, causing a scene. It wasn’t pretty. In case you’re wondering why this affects me, as a German, to such an extent, here’s a hint, but I have a detailed post coming up on that topic early next year, just in time for my 7-year quitversary (I wrote about my 5-year quitversary here) in which I will finally shine light on the big changes ahead of me that I’ve been hinting on for a few months now. (And if you belong to my inner circle of newsletter subscribers or Snapchat followers, you know what I’m talking about).

Mexico Sunsets
At least the sunsets were pretty…

Anyway, back to the post-election blues. Luckily I know what to do in situations like this: do something that makes me happy. In this case, it was giving the green light to a visitor from the States to come down to Mexico (which I had been on the fence about), surround myself with other people (I moved from a deserted B&B to a social hostel), and get my ass to a beach. In all honesty though, I am still shaken to the core by the outcome of the election and it took me days to get a full night’s sleep after 8 November. After the first few days of resignation, sadness and disappointment, I am now trying to be more optimistic about everything but I have to admit that I am still struggling to come to terms with it.

Mexico arrival day

dani solo travelThe day I arrived in Mexico, I nearly had a panic attack. I was so busy the day leading up to my departure from LA that I didn’t even have time to think about all the things that popped into my head during my plane ride to Guadalajara:

  1. OMG I haven’t traveled solo in months
  2. OMG I haven’t traveled outside the save havens of Europe and the US since April (and back then I didn’t travel alone in Mexico!)
  3. OMG I never traveled in Mexico by myself.
  4. OMG I didn’t put cash on my debit card, so I can’t use an ATM upon arrival.
  5. OMG what if I forgot all my Spanish?!

Full on panic mode! Luckily, as so often, everything fell into place as soon as I arrived in Guadalajara. I found 87 pesos in my change purse from my last visit to Mexico – just enough to get me into the city on the public bus, my Spanish came back to me as soon as I had to ask for directions to the bus into town, luckily traveling by myself is something I’m pretty good at, and, well, Mexico is one of the easiest countries to travel in, no matter if solo or as a couple.

Being sick on the road

This month I got sick twice: I had stomach issues on my first day in Mexico (I assume from some fresh fruit I had picked up) which led me to spend more time in the bathroom over the next couple of days than I was comfortable with, and then I got a cold just in time for my birthday on Sunday. I am still battling my cold (that’s the disadvantage of staying in fancy hotels with AC – I am sure it was the drastic difference in temperature between the chilled room and the 90F heat outside that made me sick) and once again I was reminded that being sick on the road sucks.

Mexico life
When I wasn’t sick, life was pretty sweet though..

Slow business

Luckily the peso / dollar exchange rate was in my favor this month, making Mexico even cheaper than it had been during my last visit in the spring. Because I didn’t earn a lot of money in November, which was quite disappointing. It definitely helped that I was in an inexpensive country, where I usually didn’t spend more than $35 a day (except for my week of birthday splurges).

pinnacle pool sunset
Slow business did not stop me from splurging on a hotel with a gorgeous infinity pool for a few days…

Other happenings

snapchat
The instant feedback on Snapchat is amazing.

Snapchat love

I don’t really know in which section to put it, but I want to mention my Snapchat community briefly – this medium has brought me so much closer to my those following my raw, unfiltered journey on their phones. (For those of you who don’t use Snapchat, it’s an app that lets you record 10-second clips of anything you see / do and keeps it live for 24 hours. After that, it’s gone forever). And especially this month, I was so appreciative of all the supportive messages I received, not only for my birthday, but also when I was feeling really down after election day. So much empathy, outpouring of love and uplifting words from complete strangers still blow me away. Thanks to everyone following me and interacting with me – I love the instant feedback to everything I’m doing. (If you want to follow my adventures in real time, add me on Snapchat: Mariposa2711)

What’s next for me

I’ve already mentioned that I am on my way to sunny California.. for the third time this year! After a long weekend in LA I will be heading north, however – and that’s a first for this year, and a first in over six years, to be completely honest. The only time I visited the wine countries of Napa and Sonoma north of San Francisco was in 2010, and when the opportunity arose to revisit Sonoma, and the town of Santa Rosa, where I spent barely any time back then, I didn’t have to think long. After that, I will finally return to New York – but not for long. I had originally planned to spend the winter in South East Asia and already secured a housesit in Vietnam (which, you may remember, was on my travel wish list for this year), but urgent matters are calling me to Germany. You know that this must have been something super urgent, if it gets me to return to Germany in the death of winter (More on that soon, I promise).November travels

I will now be spending the Holidays with my family instead of a kitty, and while I am not a big fan of winter, I do appreciate Christmas markets, baking cookies, drinking Gluhwein, and see my nephew’s and nieces’ eyes light up when they see the wrapped gifts under the Christmas tree. I only spent one Christmas at home since 2007, which was in 2014, and still have fond memories of it, so I am not too upset about this sudden change of plans… and Vietnam will have to wait a little longer.

I am not sure yet what I’ll be doing for New Year’s Eve – knowing myself, I might end up going on a last-minute trip, so who knows where the last round-up of 2016 will come from…
November 2016 travels

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Getting my first apartment in 7 years: Why renting furniture is the way to go

cort

This post brought to you by CORT. The content and opinions expressed below are that of Globetrottergirls.com.

Nearly a year has gone by since I declared that I was tired of being nomadic and that it was time for me to find a base. Over the past few months, I’ve started to slowly prepare for my post-nomadic life. I scouted out potential places to call home – not only within New York, but I’ve also looked at other U.S. cities. I scouted out neighborhoods in Austin and Seattle, I considered Southern California for a minute, but it all came back to one finding: Brooklyn has my heart.cort-room

Planning a stress-free house move

The next step was to plan my actual move. Would I get an apartment or just a room? Which neighborhood would I rent in? Sublet or lease? And what about furniture? After such a long time of roaming the globe without ever having to think about furnishing a place because short-term sublets always come furnished, setting up a base in one place feels almost overwhelming.

Buying furniture vs renting furniture

For me, the most pressing question is: Should I buy furniture? Should I bring the few items I’ve still got in storage in Europe from my last apartment in London over to the U.S.? The nomad in me hates making commitments. What if I want to pack up again after a few months and try living somewhere else?

Take my friend Nina for example: She used to be a nomad, like me, and moved to New York in January. She was excited to set up a base in Williamsburg, signed a lease for an incredibly gorgeous apartment and went furniture shopping in some fancy stores. Now, not even a year later, she is packing up her place, hitting the road again, and regrets having invested thousands of dollars in furniture she is now selling on Craigslist, not even getting half of what she paid for her bed, sofa, dining table and reading chair – and they’re not even twelve months old!

Enter furniture rental. What, that’s a thing?! I had no idea that I could rent furniture until I was introduced to CORT Furniture Rental, and maybe you don’t know about it either, so let me tell me a bit more about the concept of furniture rental.

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Furniture rental advantages

The advantages are easy to see: As I’ve already said, you don’t need to deal with selling your furniture – especially if you want to move quickly. And my generation seems to be much more location flexible than our parents’ generation. So many of my friends have moved within the U.S. – from coast to coast, from north to south, from the mountains to the sea. Millennials like me are much less likely to nest in one place like previous generations did. And not only one move, but I know several people who’ve tried out several places in the U.S. over the years, and I don’t think they’ll stay in one place for more than a few years. Why would you? There are so many awesome cities in this country, and I love that I can live in whichever one I pick, but also knowing that I can pack up again at any time. I am pretty sure that had my friend Nina known about the possibility to rent furniture, she would have opted for that instead of buying them.

And speaking of buying: Who has time to walk around furniture stores for hours trying to decide which sofa or bed to buy? Decorating a room according to your personal taste is much easier online, and less time-consuming, considering you don’t have to travel to various stores (if you are like me and compare prices and items everywhere).

For those of you who do like to see the items they choose before making a decision, fear not: CORT has showrooms in all major cities around the U.S., so you can actually do a lounging test on your future couch or a lay-in in your future bed before committing to it.cort-sofa

A peek at the website reveals that CORT’s furniture is upscale and classy, elegant and contemporary. There are so many different styles and items to choose from, it’s almost impossible to make a decision. Which chairs? Which bedside table? Which bedside lamp? Which dresser? I love all the different options I get! By the way – furniture isn’t the only thing you can rent: CORT also offers housewares from linens to silverware and bathroom essentials, from irons to coffee makers and even plants!

cort-bathroom

It’s less expensive

Another thing I love about the concept of renting furniture is that you don’t have to put down a chunk of money at once. Instead, you pay the monthly rental fee, which is far less than furnishing a new apartment. And not only that – but if you do decide to move across the country, you also don’t need to deal with a pricey moving company. I also know people who get send to a different city for a 6 or 12-month contract, and for them it makes even less sense to furnish an apartment. Of course you could move into a furnished apartment in that case, but being able to choose the furniture that matches your taste and personality makes the place feel much homier. And you can actually choose the exact same furniture every time you move, without the hassle of moving them from city to city.

You can easily change the look of your apartment

I couldn’t imagine a better and easier way to furnish my first apartment after such a long time of location independence. And the best thing? For people like me who crave changes all the time, renting furniture has another advantage: as soon as you are tired of a certain item, you can simply replace it. That might even be my favorite part of it all. Time for a color change? Why not! You might think a green-themed is a great idea today, but what if you prefer orange six months from now? Or what if you don’t need that home office anymore and want to make it into a second bedroom instead?cort-living-room

With CORT, it is super easy to arrange for pieces to be exchanged. The same goes for a bed, for example: if it’s not comfortable anymore, you can just pick a new one. Definitely not an option when you buy a bed and realize after a few months that it wasn’t a good pick.

A super easy process

For me, this will also be the most practical option, because the process is so simple: I choose the furniture I want, I order them through the CORT website, I pick a delivery date, I decide if I want to use their exclusive Move-In Ready™ service, and that’s it. I’ll be waiting in my empty room or apartment, and 48 hours later everything will be delivered, put together and ready to be used by me. Isn’t that the best thing ever? The ease of the whole process is a huge draw for me. The same goes for moving out, by the way. You just announce the date you’re finishing your lease, tell CORT when you want them to pick up the furniture, and that’s it.cort1

Playing around with room concept designs

Since I won’t be moving into my apartment until early next summer, I am having some fun playing around with the room designs on the CORT website. How do you like this bed room decor, for example?cort-bedroom

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Life Lately & Upcoming Travels: October 2016 Edition

october-2016

In my monthly round-ups, I am looking back at my travels over the past four weeks, what went well and what didn’t, and what’s next for me. 

Where I’ve been

It’s been a while since I last spent an entire month in only one place but in October, I sat still: I spent the entire month in Seattle! Except for a few visits to Tacoma, I didn’t leave the city limits. That doesn’t mean it was a boring month though: In the past four weeks, I explored as much of Seattle’s many neighborhoods as possible.

Seattle

Life lately

October was interesting, to say the least. From not knowing at all where to go after Seattle, to making awesome travel plans, only to have them fall through two days before my scheduled departure from Seattle. I am going to be honest here: October has been somewhat of a difficult and challenging month – more lowlights than I’m happy about, but I guess that’s all part of the journey. The still (!) ongoing issues with my website caused me tears, grey hair and me almost giving up on this little website, but instead I pushed through and it looks like all web-related issues are finally resolved (I changed to a different hosting plan because the site had outgrown my previous one).Seattle

Luckily, Seattle has been equally as rewarding as challenging – it was my first time here and I had been looking forward to exploring the Pacific Northwest for a while. However, the weather gods weren’t on my side this month. The weather was miserable for most of October. On Friday I heard on the news that it was the wettest October since the beginning of weather recordings. Often, my sightseeing and exploring plans were rained out. I had forgotten how much this can influence my mood – and not in a good way. It reminded me a lot of the dreadful fall weather I’d endured for four years while living in the UK – a good reminder why I left London in 2010.SEATTLEWhenever the sun decided to show itself, I had an amazing time in Seattle, and tried to make the most of it by visiting beaches and parks, explore different neighborhoods around town, and meet up with friends. Let’s look back at the highlights first:Seattle fremont

Highlights

Hanging out with some of my favorite people

One of the reasons why I wanted to come to Seattle? Because I happen to know several people who live here, who I was keen on visiting, including the cutest babies on the planet. And much to my delight I later found out that even more awesome people would be in town during my stay here, including Katie, who already came to see me in Tucson earlier this year, Dalene and Pete (two of my favorite bloggers, and two people who I absolutely adore) and Brock, who I had missed this year several times – he was on his way from Mexico to Colombia when I headed to Mexico from Colombia and I missed him in New York by a mere day. With Brock, I got to go on the awesome Boos and Booze Tour that our friends Chris and Tawny run in Tacoma, (and who took me out to my first ever pumpkin patch, see below) and with Katie I ate as many doughnuts and pies as humanly possible.seattle friends

New friends

Of course I also made some new friends during my stay, and actually met some really interesting people. I have to thank Tarun for taking me to my first ever bikini barista espresso shop (um, apparently that’s a thing here in Washington State!?), Shannon for the lesbian bitch session, Eric for knowing all the best coffee shops and for telling me about Seward Park (which became my favorite running spot in the city), and so many more. Without all these guys I wouldn’t have bar crawled around Capitol Hill, tasted local craft brews in Fremont, explored Kubota Gardens, found the little known Joe Block Park with its great panoramic views over downtown Seattle, or gone out to Snoqualmie Falls, to name just a few things.seattle wa

So much good coffee

The weather might not be the best in Seattle, but luckily there are enough coffee shops to duck into when it rains – 1,692 to be precise. I knew that coffee was big in Seattle, but to be honest, I had no idea just how big. In addition to bigger chains (Starbucks, ahem), there are too many coffee houses to try in four short weeks – I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface! There are 253 coffee shops per 100,000 residents in Seattle, and more coffee is consumed here than in any other U.S. city. Being a huge coffee lover, I was more than happy to try as many coffee shops as possible.seattle coffee love

My first pumpkin patch

I’ve already dedicated a Polaroid Of The Week to this, but I just want to highlight it again: I visited my first pumpkin patch and had such a fun day out at Maris Farms with my friends Tawny and Chris. Roasted corn, a corn maze and apple cider, plus the hilarious goat walk and more bikini baristas on the way there and back (I will probably write a separate post about bikini baristas, so you’ll have to wait to see pictures…) – it was such a fun day!Pumpkin Patch Seattle

Embracing fall

On that note: I don’t know when I started to love fall so much, but pumpkin carving, Halloween, the colorful fall leaves and apple orchards make me so happy! While fall surely isn’t always great, especially in the Pacific Northwest (see lowlights below!), it does have it perks: the colors of the changing leaves are just so beautiful, especially when you’ve got clear blue skies, making for a great contrast to the bright yellow and red leaves. I can’t get enough of the vibrant autumn colors – but I will never be okay with pumpkin spiced-everything. When did we have to eat and drink everything pumpkin-spiced in the fall? That said: I had a really good pumpkin spice IPA beer in Tacoma 🙂Seattle fall vibes

Lowlights

A stupid & pricey mistake

This month was much pricier than I expected it to be: First I had to replace my broken phone (see last month’s roundup), and then an incident happened that I could have done without: I hit a car. I am still beating myself up about it. After driving so much this year (I had a car in Austin, in Tucson, in L.A., in Mexico and in Germany – all incident-free!), one should think I’d had driving in reverse figured out by now.. but apparently I have not.cheer up fuck face

So.much.rain.

One thing I found really difficult this month was dealing with all the rain. I’ve already mentioned it several times, but yes, I admit that I would’ve had a much better time in Seattle had it been less rainy, wet, grey and cold.

Seattle Washington
When the sun shines, Seattle is gorgeous!

Dealing with a short-notice flight cancellation

I was supposed to board a flight from L.A. to Istanbul on 2 November, where I was going to attend a travel conference at the end of the month. I decided to base myself in Istanbul for the entire month and take a couple of trips from there (including a quick trip to Germany to surprise my family). However, the conference was postponed until next spring, which I only found out two days before my scheduled flight. I don’t think in all of my years of traveling I’ve ever felt stranded like this.

Seattle
More time in the Pacific Northwest instead?

Other happenings

Feature in Connextions Magazine

The LGBT Travel & Lifestyle Magazine Connextions featured me and nine other LGBT travel experts in their ‘Travel Heels’ issue – check out the online issue of the magazine here for the interview.Connextions Magazine

Tiny house living

If you’ve read last month’s round-up, you might remember that I briefly mentioned ‘tiny house living’. That’s where I spent my month in Seattle: in a beautiful tiny house. I’ve been fascinated by the tiny house movement for a while now and when the opportunity arose to try tiny house living for a month, I couldn’t pass it up. I am a minimalist, after all, and wanted to know how I’d feel about living in a very small space, because even though I can fit pretty much everything I own in a couple of suitcases, I never lived in a tiny space like that. Because that’s how small it is – tinier even than a New York studio. The verdict? I’d totally live in one again, but I think a month in a tiny house is my limit. While I didn’t miss having a lot of space (although working out in the tiny house was pretty difficult), I missed having a big kitchen and a big oven. The tiny house only had a convection oven and two stove tops, which limited me in my cooking and baking activities, but other than that, I was amazed to see how much you could fit in such a small space, and how cozy it was.

Seattle tiny house
Tiny house cat, tiny house kitchen, and tiny house selfie 🙂

What’s next for me

To be honest, now that my planned month in Istanbul fell through, I haven’t really figured out what to do instead. I have a flight to L.A. on 2 November, from where I was supposed to fly to Istanbul. I’ll be now spending a few days in Los Angeles instead, and hopefully come up with a plan where I want to spend the next four weeks. I can’t tell you where my next round-up will come from, but I have a feeling it’ll be a sunny and warm place 😉

seattle mount rainier view
I never made it to Mount Rainier. Guess I’ll have to return to the Pacific Northwest one day…
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Life Lately & Upcoming Travels: September 2016 Edition

september-2016

In my monthly round-ups, I am looking back at my travels over the past four weeks, what went well and what didn’t, and what’s next for me. 

Where I’ve been

After spending three glorious weeks in South California, I did indeed go on the surprise trip that I briefly mentioned in last month’s round-up: an 8-day hiking trip to Italy! Sadly, I didn’t have time to extend my time in Europe because I had already booked a flight to Seattle, where I just arrived and will be spending all of October.september 2016 pics

Life Lately

I had ambitious plans for my time in Southern California – from trips along to the Pacific Coast Highway to canyon hikes, L.A. neighborhood explorations, museums, side trips to San Diego and Joshua Tree… but as so often, I barely crossed half of these things off of my to-do-list. Especially once the Italy trip got confirmed, during which I knew I wouldn’t be able to work whatsoever, I tried to get as much work done as possible so that I could head to Europe without feeling I’d be drowning in work upon my return to the U.S. I had to scrap my trips to San Diego and Joshua Tree, two things I’d been very much looking forward to (especially Joshua Tree where I haven’t been yet), but I have a feeling this won’t be my last time in Southern California, so I’m not too upset about that.september travelsThe trip to Italy didn’t get 100% confirmed until the week before I boarded my plane to Rome, but turned out to be a dream trip. I was able to walk parts of the historic Via Amerina which leads from Assisi to Rome and is one of five major pilgrims’ routes in Italy. The path ends – of course – at St Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City where we arrived on Wednesday in time for the Pope’s weekly audience. I will talk about the trip throughout this round-up but can’t wait to share more about my hike with you in detailed articles next month.Via Amerina italyLet’s take a quick look about what went right and what went wrong this month…

Highlights

Walking through Italy

You might have noticed that I love multi-day treks: in the past couple of years I walked the 5-day Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu, I walked the National Trail in Israel, and this year the 4-day jungle & mountain trek to the Lost City in Colombia. While I haven’t managed to find time to walk the Camino de Santiago (a 3-week trek through Northern Spain) this year, I managed to make time for a 5-day walk through Italy’s Umbria and Lazio regions. The trip ended up exceeding my expectations by far, with 15-20 kilometer of walking per day through Italy’s picturesque countryside, followed by afternoon explorations of quaint little towns and gorging on scrumptious Italian food (and wines). My group of international hikers (Britain, Italy, Germany, Poland, Portugal and China were represented) got along great, and I got to know a region of Italy I hadn’t really known prior to this trip.walking through italyAnd a final thought: I went on an epic hike in September 2014, now the great hike in Italy in September 2016 – does this mean that in September 2018 I’ll be finally walking the Camino? 😉

Returning to Rome

I hadn’t been to Rome in years, and finishing the walk in a city I love was the icing on the cake. My only regret is that I didn’t have more time – ideally I would’ve liked to spend at least a full week there – but I tried to make the most of the full day I had in Rome and vouched to be back soon. I hadn’t been to Rome since I started traveling full-time and wasn’t sure if I’d still be as impressed by the city as I’d been on my previous three visits (which all happened before I got to know remarkable cities like New York, Buenos Aires or Hong Kong), but yes: Rome didn’t fail to impress me, even the fourth time around. The way historic landmarks are scattered around the city, right next to more modern, yet distinctively Italian architecture, and the historic significance of Rome make it exceptional in a way no other city compares to.Rome

Driving the Pacific Coast Highway (again)

While I didn’t get around to drive up to San Francisco again (which I did in 2010), I did get around to drive the southern part again – not all the way to San Diego, but to Newport Beach. I’ve already raved about that trip in my Polaroid of the week, so I won’t bore you again with how much I love Southern California, but I felt truly blessed that I was able to do this coastal drive not just once in my life, but twice (and I have a feeling I might be able to do it a third time!)southern PCH

The hike to the Hollywood Sign

Another thing I’ve already raved about in a Polaroid of the week, but this was one of the top three things I really wanted to do while I was back in the L.A. area (the other two being Joshua Tree, which I didn’t get around to, and exploring Silver Lake, which I did do and wrote about here). After not using my feet a lot this month (except for my daily runs), this was the perfect preparation for my hike in Italy.Hollywood sign hike

New friends & reader meet-ups

I was able to meet a couple of followers and Twitter ‘friends’ this month who turned out to be amazing people. Once again I couldn’t be more grateful for this little website and where it led me, and to the people I met through it. And then there was my hiking group which I’ve mentioned before was fantastic, and I am sure that I will see several of my fellow hikers again.italy hikers

Dog love

After being bitten by the dog I was dog sitting last month, I was somewhat afraid of Henry, my friend’s dog I was looking after in Long Beach. But my fears were completely unfounded: Henry was an amazing companion, and I am missing our daily cuddle sessions and our visits to the dog beach. I hope I’ll get to look after him again – one of the best dogs I’ve dog sat for, and you know that I’ve been looking after quite a few pets!Henry love

Lowlights

A broken phone (again!)

I feel like I just dealt with a broken phone (remember when my phone didn’t turn on anymore while I was in Germany in July and my iPhone had to be reset, causing me to lose a whole bunch of data?) and now, despite having invested in a decent glass screen protector, I somehow managed to scratch my screen. So much so that the left half of the touch screen isn’t working anymore, making my phone pretty much useless. This happened in Italy, and I am still not sure how, since it did NOT fall, but it was very annoying since I was shooting video on it, snapchatting, instagramming and using it pretty much all the time when I could get online instead of having to carry my laptop on the hike. I am still debating if I should replace the screen again (I had just replaced it in June) or get a new phone entirely, now that the iPhone 7 is out.SoCal

L.A. traffic

Need I say more? 😉 My friend who I housesat for left me her car, which I quickly realized without you are screwed in Southern California – public transportation is pretty much non-existent in the extended L.A. area, which means everyone is depending on a car. While I was super grateful to have a car to get around in, I was frustrated almost every time I went somewhere, because no matter what time it was I was sitting in traffic. Heavy traffic at 6am caused me even to nearly miss my flight to Italy. Luckily, the area where I was staying had plenty of coffee shops and restaurants in walking distance, so I wasn’t relying on a car.. and I had a bicycle which got quite a bit of use, too.

redondo beach california
What I wish L.A. traffic would be like!!

A bit of a funk

There were a few personal things at the beginning of the month that didn’t go as planned, which led me to fall in a bit of a funk. It took me a while to get out of again. Thus, I wasn’t feeling as ‘social’ as I usually am, not socializing as much as I would’ve liked to and curling up on my sofa instead. Well, it might have also been a combination of Stranger Things, general exhaustion and the daunting thought of sitting in the L.A. traffic yet again that made me become a bit of a hermit for a couple of weeks. I guess things can’t always be perfect, and luckily I got out of my funk as soon as I arrived in beautiful Italy. This trip was just what the doctor ordered.

September
A bit of a funk doesn’t mean I enjoyed my time in Southern California!

Ongoing website issues

I can’t believe that I am still talking about this, since this has been going on since June now (and I already bitched about it in last month’s round-up). My website is still giving me headaches – I couldn’t even publish this article in time because the site was offline! The site was down for several hours nearly every day, and it is simply embarrassing when readers email or tweet me that they can’t access the article they want to read. Even more frustrating? When this happens while I am hiking in Italy, unable to fix these issues or get in touch with my web host. Who, by the way, I threw a lot of money at this month to get a better hosting plan, but so far, this doesn’t seem like it worked. This will be the main thing on my agenda in October, since it is not only costing me readers but also income. silver lake los angeles street art1

Other happenings

I haven’t written about lesbian travel in a while on Globetrottergirls, but I shared my thoughts on traveling as a lesbian over on Nomadic Matt’s Travel Site. Check it out here: Lesbian Travel: 4 Things To Know

What’s next for me

I just arrived in Seattle, a brand new city for me! I will be spending the entire month here, giving me enough time to get a good feel for the city – one that I’ve been wanting to visit for a really long time. When I spent a month in Austin earlier this year I realized that this is just the right amount of time to get to see all the sights, go on a few hikes, eat and drink my way around town (after all the wine I drank in Italy I am so ready for some good craft beer!). Plus: I’ll have several special visitors coming to see me in Seattle which will make it even more fun, but I will tell you all about that in my October round-up (including what brings me to Seattle in the first place – hint: it involves tiny house living! If you don’t know what a tiny house is, click here)southern california

If you have been to Seattle and have some recommendations for me for things I should check out, please share them in the comments! And if you are in Seattle and would like to meet up, get in touch 🙂

As usual, you can follow my adventures in real time on Snapchat: mariposa2711

 

 

 

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Life Lately & Upcoming Travels: August 2016 Edition

august 2016

In my monthly round-ups, I am looking back at my travels over the past four weeks, what went well and what didn’t, and what’s next for me. 

Where I’ve been

I started the month in Germany – a rushed three-city trip to Erfurt, Leipzig and Berlin to say goodbye to my nephew, nieces, my brother and my sister. Because my flight was out of Berlin, I decided to head there a day early to meet up with some friends before flying back to the States.August 2016 Germany and New York

Most of the month was spent in New York, but I boarded a plane to Los Angeles yesterday, and I’ll be spending the next few weeks in Southern California.. but I am getting ahead of myself. Let’s look back at the past 31 days:

Life Lately

First of all – albeit traveling much less this month, I ended up sleeping in 8 different beds in the past 31 days, only three less than in July! So much for slowing down…
new york cityOverall, August was a weird month, because I felt somewhat unsettled and uneasy the entire time, even though I was ecstatic about being back in New York. I missed most of my beloved New York summer this year, and was happy to get to spend at least one month there. And August is such an amazing month in NYC – it was scorching hot (much needed after I was chilly most of the time I was in Germany!), there were plenty of outdoor activities: open-air movies, sunset dates, rooftop drinks, bike rides, New York pizza (time to update my New York Pizza Guide again), beach days, kayaking, picnics in the park and island getaways (Governors Island and Fire Island). I didn’t get to do as much as I wanted, but reflecting on the past month now I feel like I fit in a lot, considering the heavy workload I was dealing with.

NYC 2016

One thing that made me feel uneasy the entire month were incidents in my personal circle. I am a worrier, always concerned for my partner, my family, my friends, and when I know that somebody is not feeling well or facing some major hurdles, I can’t help but hurting / worrying for them. If you are subscribed to my newsletter*, you know that my life is in turmoil at the moment, and I think what also contributed to me feeling so unsettled is that I am currently not able to plan much for the coming months.

On the bright side: I loved getting back into a routine as that’s what I am craving at the moment: a workout routine, a fridge filled with my favorite foods, a kitchen to cook in, friends to hang out with. Not knowing where I’ll be two months from now makes me feel restless instead of excited to see what the future brings. I am definitely ready for a home base that goes beyond a few weeks at a time, something I already said at the beginning of the year – and yet it is more difficult than one might think to find a place to call home. For one, I am very picky and have a number of requirements that need to be fulfilled, and then there’s the issue that visa restrictions leave me with limited options. But that’s for another post. For now, let’s look at the highlights and lowlights of the past month:

nyc dani pebble beach

What went right

Island getaway

Just when I started getting completely overwhelmed with work projects once again, I decided on a whim to join some of my friends out on Fire Island, where they were enjoying a little summer getaway. I’d been trying to get out to Fire Island for the past two summers and I was ecstatic to finally see this highly-praised little island off the coast of Long Island for myself. This happened to be during the hottest days of summer in New York, and it was just what the doctor had ordered. I didn’t bring my laptop and I took a grand total of three photos the entire time I was out there. It was a good reminder that I need to get away from my laptop and the time suck that’s the internet. My time on the island was much too short, by the way, and just whetted my appetite for more. Hopefully next summer!

fire island beach
One of the three photos I took on Fire Island

Kayaking in the East River

Another thing that’s been on my to-do-list for a really long time? Kayaking on the East River. There are several places where you can kayak for free during the summer on both the East River and the Hudson River, and the spot I had picked was Brooklyn Bridge Park for its great views over the Manhattan skyline right across the river. When I finally found time to go kayaking, it was cloudy and it even rained just before we hit the water, but it was a great experience nonetheless. The majestic skyline, being back in a kayak (I hadn’t been in one since I went kayaking in Austin in May), and the best kayaking buddy one could ask for. We continued the evening with a pizza from Juliana’s at Pebble Beach, one of my favorite places to watch the sunset from, and finished the night with New York Cheesecake and Brooklyn Blackout Cake. Perfect.kayaking in new york

Reuniting with my bicycle

dani and lolaI know that the saying goes ‘home is where the heart is’ but more fitting for me is ‘home is where my bike is’, and that’s New York City. After a failed attempt to release her from her temporary storage before flying to Germany in June, I finally got Lola (yes, she has a name!) back this month. Whizzing around New York on my bike is one of my favorite things to do in the summer (see last July’s roundup), and even though I didn’t get to take her out as often as I would have liked, it felt glorious every time we went for a wild ride.

What went wrong

Too little time with friends

It took me almost two weeks to get out of my work cocoon and my ‘I can only meet you if you come down to my ‘hood’ because I’m so busy with work attitude’, leaving not much time to see friends. Some of my closest friends in New York who I was really looking forward to see I didn’t get to hang out with at all, which left me majorly disappointed, other friends I only got to see one or two times, and others only for a quick catch-up session. Too little time. Realizing how hard it is to schedule things with people left me feeling pretty frustrated – it seems like in New York everyone is always busy. But then there were a few people who always made time for me and who were also up for spontaneous shenanigans, so not all hope is lost, I guess.

Friends in New York

Poor time management

governors island dani1
Goal for September: more Me-Time

I don’t want to blame spending not enough time with my friends only on them – I am also to be blamed here, because I feel like my time management was terrible this month. Considering how many hours I spent in front of my laptop I made also much less progress on my workload than one would expect, and achieved less than I wanted to achieve. Most of the month I felt just overwhelmed by all the things I needed to get done and I even completely forgot two article deadlines. Luckily I remembered them the day before the articles were due and managed to meet them (sacrificing sleep) but this happened to me a couple of times in July already and I need to get more organized with the various projects I work on and clients I work with. Not only did I feel like I didn’t get enough time with my friends, but I also felt like I didn’t get enough much needed me-time, after barely having any time to myself in July.

Bitten by a dog
…and not just any dog, but a dog I was dog sitting for. I had briefly mentioned a ‘difficult housesit‘ in July 2015, but it wasn’t difficult enough for me not to accept the offer for a repeat housesit this year when the client asked me to come back.

Well, this was a first for me: the dog bit me. It was quite a painful bite, and luckily I had just gotten all my vaccinations renewed when I was in Germany last month, which saved me the trip to the doctor. The pup and I made up again after it happened and ended our time together with a big love fest – he is usually very sweet – but I admit that for a minute I was really freaked out and got a little scared of the dog (who is on meds for anxiety and depression).

dog bite
He is the sweetest dog… almost always.

Losing things

Here we go again, the most frequent mention under ‘What went wrong’: me losing things. And I have to go back to July, because I completely forgot to include in my July round-up that I left a brand new jacket in an airport toilet stall in London Gatwick – complete with my sister’s car keys in them. This caused a huge hassle of me getting to my sister’s house when I was house and dog sitting for her last month, and not to mention that I lost her spare set of car keys. Plus a jacket I really digged but only got to wear once. Despite emailing Gatwick’s Lost & Found office and detailing my lost items, they were never to be seen again.

ferry ride to red hook
As long as I don’t lose my camera… right?

This month, I left my portable charger in New York when I left for L.A. (an item I use on a daily basis!!), I left earrings behind in several places, and god knows what else. Nothing was as bad as leaving my $300 headphones on a plane back in April and a bunch of stuff in March, but still, I could’ve done without losing anything or forgetting stuff in random places.

Other happenings

Website ups & downs

At first, I wanted to put it under What went right: Website progression… but later in the month, it turned into What went wrong: Huge website hassle. I’ve mentioned before that I had big issues getting my redesigned site up and running in June (and July), and felt like I was finally making progress this month. Until my hosting company started to shut down the site… all.the.time. At the moment, I feel like the site is down more often than not, and I am facing a pricey move over to another hosting company. I do hope that this will resolve all website-related issues I’ve been dealing with over the past three months, but the redesign is still far from finished, to be honest.

pancake breakfast
Copious amounts of pancakes helped me through hours of tears and frustration because of tech issues

Income boost

I got a nice income boost thanks to some unexpected affiliate income this month, but since it went straight into paying my tech guy and my assistant, I didn’t really get to enjoy the extra income.

What’s next for me

As I’ve already said – I will be spending the majority of the month in the L.A. area, and hopefully I will be able to visit friends in San Diego while I’m there. I am excited to reunite with one of my best friends in L.A., and to get to hang out with a friend I made on my travels – funnily enough, I am dog sitting for her while she sets off on her honeymoon to Europe and Northern Africa.beach day riis gay beach

And then there’s a trip in the works that I am ridiculously excited about – but since no flight tickets have been purchased as of now, I am not going to spill anything just yet. Let’s just say that if things go as planned, my next update will be coming from another continent and from a country I love dearly (any guesses?).

*If you’re subscribed to my newsletter and didn’t get anything in your inbox on 11 August, check your spam folder – I’ve been told by several subscribers that GoogleMail threw it right into the spam folder. If you’re not subscribed but want to get news beyond the blog, exclusive giveaways and travel tips quarterly, you can subscribe here.

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Life Lately & Upcoming Travels: July 2016 Edition

july 2016

In my monthly round-ups, I am looking back at my travels over the past four weeks, what went well and what didn’t, and what’s next for me. 

WHERE I’VE BEEN

This has been my busiest travel month in a long time: in Germany I traveled to Berlin, Dusseldorf, Munich, Cologne, Frankfurt, Leipzig and Erfurt, and I took an unexpected trip to the UK, where I returned to two places I’ve spent a lot of time in over the past decade: London and Brighton.July 2016 Germany and England

WHAT I’VE BEEN UP TO

I already mentioned in my June round-up that I felt like I hadn’t stopped moving since arriving in Germany, and I didn’t think it was possible to travel even more, but that’s exactly what I did. I had no plans to come to Germany this summer, but unforeseen circumstances forced me to book a one-way ticket (I promise I’ll talk about it as soon as I can – a post about it is already in the works), leaving me also unsure of when I’d be able to return to the States. So I decided to make the most of my trip to my home country and to visit as many friends as possible – it just so happens that my friends live scattered all over Germany.

While trips I was thinking about taking (Switzerland, Croatia, Prague and France) didn’t happen in the end, I managed to sleep in 11 different beds in the past 31 days, plus one night spent on an airport floor (I don’t want to talk about it..) and am even more exhausted than I was at the end of June. Luckily it looks like things are finally slowing down in August – you’ll find out where I’m headed in the What’s next for me section.July 2016 england and berlinMy trip to the UK wasn’t even on the cards yet when I wrote my last update, but it turned out to be one of the best weeks of the month. Looking back I have to say though that every single week of this month was fantastic: starting July with another week in Berlin, followed by a week visiting German friends in Dusseldorf and Cologne, meeting up with a friend from NYC in Frankfurt, and visiting one of my best friends and her family in Munich (sadly just after the Munich attack which put a damper on our reunion).

dani & odieAnd then I got to dog sit for my favorite dog in the world, which turned into a big love fest of cuddles over cuddles over cuddles (and lots of dog selfies, like this one here).

There were a couple of real lows, which I’ll get into in more detail below, but let’s start with the highlights of the month:

What went right

Returning to Brighton and London

I wasn’t sure about taking this trip, but I followed a gut feeling that said ‘go for it.’ And I’ve got absolutely no regrets – on the contrary.. as so often, everything fell into place for me there, I had a great time catching up with old friends in Brighton and meeting a new one, and finishing my trip with a picture-perfect London summer day. I wish I’d allocated more time for this trip, but my trip to Munich was already set in stone before the England trip was starting to evolve. The only downside was that I was working two jobs while I was there, making the goal I set in June – to get more sleep this month! – pretty much impossible. More on that below though – as for the ‘what went right’ part: I always seem to forget how much I love London – a love story that has been going on since my first visit in 1999. I still think that I might want to move back there one day. And Brighton. Same here – ever since I first went there in 2005, I’ve been enamored with the colorful town on England’s south coast, and being able to breathe the fresh sea air for a week was just what I needed.England 2016

Returning to Cologne

This is the month of returns to favorite places – another place close to my heart is Cologne, where I went to university for two years in the early 2000s. I don’t know how I’ve never made it back there, but I’m glad I finally got to return and spend a long weekend with a friend there. Speaking of which…

Spending time with people I love

Surrounding myself with people I love was definitely a huge highlight this month and something I don’t take for granted. And it made all the traveling worthwhile.family & friendsJuly has been super fulfilling friendship-wise – I nourished friendships that mean a lot to me, got to spend quality time in person with people who I usually only get to hear over whatsapp voicemail or see via FaceTime calls. I don’t have a lot of friends left in Germany who are so close to me that we simply pick up where we left off when we last saw each other, but I feel lucky that I still have a handful of people who I can call ‘true friends’ and who I know will always be there for me, who I can count on.

What went wrong

A lost cat

Remember how I told you last month that I was beyond excited about a housesit in Berlin I’d gotten at the very last minute? Well, that delight didn’t last long: It was the first time ever that a pet escaped during a housesit. The cat didn’t really escape – she simply decided not to return from one of her daily neighborhood exploration tours. The owners’ apartment was located on the ground floor, allowing them to simply open their terrace door and let the cats go play outside for a while (the two cats were outdoor cats), making it super easy for me. In theory. I have never been as freaked out and worried during a housesit and felt terrible having to tell the owners that their cat had gone missing during my time cat sitting for them. To my relief, the cat came back when the owners returned from the festival they’d gone to.berlin cat street art

iPhone disaster
My month was off to a disastrous start when not only the above mentioned incident happened – a cat escaping – but also my iPhone died during what was supposed to be a fun-filled weekend in Berlin. I was two complete days without a phone (horrendous for me, I don’t know how I made it through that alive! And yes, I know I’ve got an addiction problem here..) and when the Apple store tech guys finally had a free slot for me I was told I had to reboot it. For whatever reason, my backup was turned off, and so I lost a bunch of important notes (I tend to take notes for articles on my phone these days, sometimes even write entire articles on my phone when I’m in transit..), all my contacts, and a bunch of media I hadn’t saved anywhere else. Ouch.

phone addiction
Addicted to my phone? Me?!?

Sleep no more

I wish I was referring to the play Sleep No More that I saw in New York City a few years back (and loved!) but I literally don’t seem to sleep no more. Not because of insomnia, but simply because I’m trying to spin too many plates at once. I thought I was going to get more sleep this month when I wrote about it last month, but instead I got even less sleep. I went to bed at 2am every night and got up at 7am, leaving me completely knackered. I took on additional work this month and I have to admit that I am feeling exhausted.

What’s next for me

I’m returning to New York this week! I can’t wait to board the plane across the pond later this week and I have at least three months in the U.S. ahead of me – three months in three different places! While I am not going to spill anything about my October plans yet (they’re not 100% confirmed as of now) I can tell you already that my August round-up will be coming from California! Stay tuned for a month in and around New York, with a possible side trip to Florida (also not confirmed yet, but fingers crossed that it’ll happen!).

If you want to follow my travels, adventures and misadventures in real time, add me on snapchat: mariposa2711berlin girls

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Life Lately & Upcoming Travels: June 2016 Edition

june 2016

In my monthly round-ups, I am looking back at my travels over the past four weeks, what went well and what didn’t, and what’s next for me. 

Where I’ve been

I spent the first few days of the month in New York before flying to Germany, where I feel like I haven’t stopped moving since arriving. I spent most of my time in Berlin since getting here, but I left in between and also visited family and friends in Leipzig and Erfurt.June 2016 New York Germany

What I’ve been up to

I feel like I’ve done so many things this month that it’s hard to believe I fit them all into only 30 days.

I started with hitting up some of my favorite places in New York City, where I enjoyed the beautiful summer weather with runs in prospect park and Central Park, bike rides through Brooklyn, a street art tour of Bushwick, and all my favorite foods.

In Berlin, I welcomed my first visitor from NYC (the second one is due to arrive tomorrow morning!), which was of course the perfect opportunity to show off all the spots that I think make Berlin special, like the remaining part of the Berlin Wall, now filled with street art and murals, Tempelhof, previously an airport, now a massive urban park, the Turkish Market in Maybachufer, Mauerpark for the Sunday flea market and karaoke, Sonnenallee with its many cheap middle eastern eateries, Kreuzberg with its street art and quirky cafes. While this first visit was focused on seeing as much of Berlin as possible, I think my second time showing friends around will be more about going out, exploring Berlin’s nightlife and craft brew scene.

In between my trips to Berlin, I spent time with my nephew, I surprised friends in my hometown (this was an unplanned visit after all – two months ago I was still expecting to spend the whole summer in New York), I took my nieces to the lake, took my beloved Odie (my sister’s dog) on runs through the fields, enjoyed cooking and wine sessions with my sister-in-law and spoiled my family by cooking and baking for them.June 2016 funI also decided to finally deal with the remaining stuff from my last apartment – a dozen moving boxes stored in my mother’s house. These boxes had been there since I left London in 2010 and most of them had never been opened – for over six years now! A look through them and a major clean-out session were long overdue. I am giving away most of our stuff (I lived in an apartment with my girlfriend at the time for three years – most of the things are items we shared) like kitchen stuff which I brought up to Berlin for a friend who is moving into a new apartment today. Refugee help centers will get most of the clothes and bedding stuff, and we’ll see what I can do with the rest, but after six years of not touching any of it, it’s safe to say that I’m probably not going to use any of it again. That said – there are still quite a few things of emotional value which I’d never throw out!

Highlights

Celebrity spottings

Well, I don’t think a lot of people would get excited about these ‘celebrities’, but in New York I saw two people whose work I deeply appreciate (and who couldn’t be more different from one another!). And I would be surprised if you knew them (if you do, please tell me in the comments!). First I saw Dominique Ansel, who is a celebrity baker raised to fame when he invented the famous cronut. Yup, a baker got me so excited that I acted like a teenager while I was munching on a scrumptious Nutella chocolate swirl croissant in one of his bakeries, Dominique Ansel Kitchen, while he was there too.

chocolate nutella swirl croissant
Hello there, chocolate nutella swirl croissant!

The other ‘celeb’ spotting had me even more ‘star struck’ – while my friend and I were marveling at the street art in Bushwick, I saw a guy working on a new giant mural – I didn’t even need to think about who it was because his style is so unmistakably him: Dasic Fernandez. I was beyond excited to see him work on a piece (right across from where he painted one of my all-time favorites last year, which is sadly gone now) but I was too shy to walk up to him.

dasic fernandez bushwick
The artist at work

House sitting luck

I stayed in a beautiful AirBnB studio apartment in Berlin during my first visit, but for my current visit I didn’t really know where to stay. And so I was excited when during my last visit a housesit popped up – right in the neighborhood I was staying in. I applied right away and heard back from the owners a few hours later. The next morning, I walked over there and met them, and less than a week later I moved in with two adorable cats. I love it when things work out like this!

Coworking in Berlin

One thing I keep complaining about is that working for myself can feel lonely sometimes, and I haven’t worked with other people in a while, except for one work session with a fellow nomad in Austin last month. That’s why I was really happy when I ended up having an impromptu blogger work session in Berlin last week – exchanging ideas with other bloggers always leaves me inspired and motivated to take my site to the next level. I wish I could do it more often!berlin coworking

Cycling in Berlin

When I returned to Berlin, it was the first time I didn’t have a bike waiting there for me – I am used to cycle around the city! This month, I was relying on public transportation instead and so I was thrilled when my friend and I rented bikes for a day and cycled all over Berlin. I know the bike lanes so much better than the subway or bus system!

Lowlights

First of all I want to say that while a few things weren’t great over the past few weeks, overall, June was a month without any major incidents – the first time this year that this happened!

Website redesign

I finally tackled something that had been looming over me like a big dark cloud since the beginning of the year but that I kept pushing back – because I knew it wouldn’t go smoothly. And how right I was: when I finally implemented a new website design this month, every imaginable thing that could go wrong went wrong. If you were one of the poor souls who tried to navigate the site mid-June, I apologize! I have spent most of the month trying to iron out errors and bugs but I’m still far from done and I have to admit that the site doesn’t look anything like the image I had in mind, but at least I’ve gotten it to a point where I don’t cringe anymore every time I visit my site, and I think I’ve finally found a WordPress wizard who can help me fix the rest, after hiring someone earlier this month who did a terrible job.

A bike accident

dani biking berlin
A little accident can’t stop me!

While my cycle day in Berlin was definitely a highlight for this bicycle aficionado, unfortunately it didn’t end without a bruised leg and bloody knee – I fell, and I’m still suffering from the painful incident. However – I am lucky that I didn’t break anything or hit my head!

Emotional roller coaster

This month had me on an emotional roller coaster for various reasons that deserve their own post. I already hinted on some life changing happenings in my May round-up but still can’t say too much about them.. I will share them as soon as everything is set in stone.

Sleep deprivation

Somehow I haven’t managed to sleep for more than five hours a night for most of the month, and I can feel the effects from it.. I am exhausted. I feel just as tired as I was during and after my crazy Europe trip last summer! I hope that July will bring more sleep.

June 2016 Berlin New York

What’s next for me

I will leave Berlin for Düsseldorf and Cologne next week where I’ll be visiting friends, and then continue my Tour de Germany to see friends in Frankfurt and Munich. I am trying to fit in as many friend visits as possible while I’m here because I just don’t know when I’ll be back.

I am also discussing a couple of European trips for July, but everything is still in early stages and I’m not sure if any of those trips will happen, but stay tuned – my next update could come from an exciting (and for me new) destination!

I might share some exclusive news in my summer newsletter which will be sent out in July – if you haven’t signed up for it yet, you can do that here! Exclusive news or not – it will be packed with cool giveaways!June 2016

If you want to follow my Berlin and Germany adventures in real time, add me on snapchat: mariposa2711

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Life Lately & Upcoming Travels: May 2016 Edition

May 2016

In my monthly round-ups, I am looking back at my travels over the past four weeks, what went well and what didn’t, and what’s next for me. 

Where I’ve been

This month I spent between three US cities I love: New York, Austin and Tucson. I also road tripped through the Southwest, visited Dallas for the first time, and spent time with some amazing people. Overall, a great month.May 2016 Arizona Texas

May Highlights

Spending nearly a month in Austin

Austin had been on my travel wish list for a while, but I always knew that I wanted to dedicate some time to exploring the city, not just a long weekend. After all, Austin is known to be a foodie city and I had more restaurant and bar recommendations than I could possibly check out in a month, let alone a weekend. And so I didn’t have to think long when a housesitting opportunity for nearly four weeks came up. And I am so glad that I spent so much time in Austin – it quickly became one of my favorite cities in the US, and I even could see myself returning for a longer stint (although I feel like I’m cheating on NYC just by saying this out loud!). You can read all the things that made me fall for Austin here: Polaroid of the week: Wonderfully weird AustinAustin Texas

First time SUPing

I had several people come visit me in Austin which meant: a good excuse to do a lot of sightseeing. We kayaked on the river, checked out some museums, hiked in the Barton Creek Greenbelt (basically a forest area in the city with lots of hiking trails), bar hopped our way through Austin’s nightlife districts, sampled food trucks, went on a wine tasting trip to the Texas Hill Country, watched the flight of the bats, and saw live music. But my favorite thing? Finally going stand-up paddling, something I’ve been wanting to try for a while now. And I had a blast! I am pretty sure that this is something I’ll be incorporating more often into my travels from now on, and I’m already contemplating where I could try it out on the ocean (which I feel will be much harder than on the calm Colorado River in Austin!). I think that this could happen in California later this year. And then: SUP yoga. Okay, who am I kidding here.. I don’t think I have a good enough balance for a headstand on a paddle board, but who knows.stand up paddling austin

Road tripping through the Southwest

I was supposed to fly from Tucson to Austin, but at the very last minute, the opportunity for a road trip with a travel buddy arose, and of course I jumped on it. We decided to break up the long drive (900 miles) into three days: to White Sands, New Mexico on the first day, Big Bend National Park the second day to hike the Santa Elena Canyon Trail, and then the remaining distance to Austin on day 3.

While this plan didn’t quite work out as planned (see What Went Wrong below), it was a fantastic road trip. I love the barren scenery of the Southwest, returning to White Sands was everything I hoped for, and I had great company – which was important, especially on the long drag of the I-10 from El Paso to Fredericksburg, which doesn’t have any road side attractions and is apparently the most boring part of the I-10 (which runs from coast to coast).Road Trip May 2016

Returning to White Sands

I loved the white dunes of White Sands when I visited this desert in the south of New Mexico in 2013, and I loved it the second time around, too. Even though I’d been here before, the dozens upon dozens of dunes, the bright white sand, the solitude and tranquility of this place – everything had me in awe again. And this time around, I got to experience two things I missed out on when I came here during my New Mexico road trip – I got to sled down some of the dunes, and I got to see the sunset. Would I visit White Sands a third time? Absolutely!White Sands New Mexico

Exploring Dallas

If you read last week’s Polaroid, you already know that Dallas wasn’t really on my list of must-see places, but I am not one to turn down an opportunity to check out a new city, and so I found myself in Dallas for a weekend – and pleasantly surprised by the city! Dallas, as it turns out, is way cooler than I thought it’d be, and I regretted immediately that I hadn’t allowed more time for my visit. I loved especially Deep Ellum, a trendy neighborhood with clubs, bars and great restaurants, and I hope I’ll get the chance to return one day to explore more of Dallas.Deep Ellum Dallas

What went wrong

Road trip fail

We were on our way to Big Bend National Park on Day 2 of our road trip, had finally left the quite boring I-10 and were driving towards the Mexican border when on the completely deserted road a Prada Store appeared on the right side. A Prada store in the middle of nowhere?! It had been about twenty minutes since we even saw the last house! Of course we had to stop to photograph the store. And that’s when I realized that my camera bag wasn’t in the car. We had driven for three hours from Las Cruces and were two hours from Big Bend. I knew exactly where I’d seen the bag the last time: Under the desk in our hotel room in Las Cruces. Shoot. What to do?!

prada art store texas
The Prada ‘store’ in the middle of nowhere

In the end, we decided to drive the three hours back to Las Cruces, because a) I didn’t want to go to Big Bend without my camera gear and b) I was afraid that my gear would get damaged or lost in the mail if i asked the hotel to ship it to Austin, and I had just replaced my lens that broke after the attempted robbery in Mexico City last month. And so we drove back to Las Cruces, on the most boring stretch of the I-10, only to drive it again, for the third time, the next day. Oh well.. I guess it could have been worse, and luckily we discovered it not only in Big Bend, which would have meant a five hour drive back to Las Cruces.

However – I kept thinking how lucky I was to not have lost all of my camera gear – this could have ended much worse than with an additional 6 or 7 hours in the car.road trip

A broken screen

You might have noticed by now that I’m just not very good with electronics.. I lose them, I break them, I washed them (a USB stick, not too long ago), and this month it was the screen of my beloved iPhone that had to stand in for this category. My phone falls .. often.. But this month, I finally managed to break the screen (something I hadn’t done in a while) – and not just crack the screen, but really break it.

broken iphone
Ouch.

Emotional roller coaster

…and that’s all I am going to say about it. Or to borrow Taylor’s words: ‘Heartbreak is the national anthem, we sing it proudly.’ That song was playing a lot on the radio this month and I could relate well to this line.heartbreak is the national anthem

Financial struggles

I don’t want to go into detail here either, but let’s just say that the life of a freelancer is not always as glamorous as it might seem. I get to travel a lot, yes, but trust me, I don’t make a lot of money, and this month was a tough one.May 2016 pics

What’s next for me

An unexpected change of plans

I am only spending a few days in NYC before I’m flying to Germany! I had no plans to visit my home country until October, but a sudden turn of events is bringing me back to Europe for a while. Unfortunately I can’t talk about the details just yet, but I hope I can shed some light on the recent events in next month’s round-up or in July at the latest. Let’s just say that this could be life changing, and I am not exaggerating here.

Of course I’m super bummed out about missing on some fun in the sun in NYC (y’all know by now how much I love my New York summers) but 1) I hope I’ll be back stateside soon and 2) it’s not the last time that there’s summer in NYC and 3) I already have a pretty packed calendar for Germany, and one confirmed visitor for a week of fun in Berlin, a place that I also happen to love in the summer!May 2016 NYC Austin

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Life Lately & Upcoming Travels: April 2016 Edition

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In my monthly round-ups, I am looking back at my travels over the past four weeks, what went well and what didn’t, and what’s next for me. April 2016

Where I’ve been

I began April in Mexico City, road tripped around Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula and finished my month-long stay in Mexico on the tiny Caribbean island of Isla Mujeres. After a short stop in New York City (just enough time to say Hi to a dear friend and to stuff my face with a bagel, something I’d been craving for months!) I flew to Tucson, Arizona, where I am ending the month – but I am actually packing up my stuff right now, about to head out on a mini road trip to my next destination, but more on that below.April 2016 Mexico Arizona

What I’ve been up to

This month was supposed to be a relaxing one, at least the second half, but somehow I never slowed down.. Story of my life, I guess. I ended my time in Mexico City with a near disaster (more on that below), but also with a great weekend that involved a return to Frida Kahlo’s house, the Casa Azul, and a fun day in Coyoacan, market madness and lots of craft beer. Then I flew to Cancun where I met up with my favorite travel buddy (again, after traveling together in Colombia a couple of months ago) to road trip around the Yucatan, which just so happens to be one of my favorite parts of Mexico. For eight days, we swam in cenotes (underwater sinkholes), beach hopped along the Caribbean and got our culture fix by visiting several Mayan ruins before a chilled out island getaway in Isla Mujeres. And with that, my 3-month winter escape to Latin America came to an end..MexicoMid-April I found myself in New York for a minute before I jumped on a plane to Tucson for my fifth visit to southern Arizona since 2010. While I usually use these weeks of housesitting to catch up on work, this year it seems like I had much more ‘play time’ than work time.. First, my friend Katie came to visit me and I found myself frolicking around old western towns, hiking in between giant Saguaro cacti, revisiting the beautiful San Xavier del Bac Mission and sampling all the craft beer Tucson has to offer (well maybe not all of it, but quite a lot!) and then I had a surprise visitor distracting me with a visit to a PowWow (get together of Native American communities) in Phoenix and a sweaty canyon hike. Plus, I also finally made an effort to meet some new people in Tucson and caught up with friends I made on previous visits. And just like that, my three weeks here are over.. But I hope this wasn’t my last visit, because the more time I spend in Tucson, the harder I fall for the city, discovering more and more cool stuff.

Arizona

Highlights

Road tripping around the Yucatan

I spent hours planning this road trip, but in the end it was so worth all the sleepless nights and the effort that went into it: the road trip couldn’t have gone any better. Beginning with a fabulous stay at the exquisite Grand Hyatt in Playa Del Carmen to accident-free driving to introducing my favorite girl to really good Mexican food, not the stuff you get in the States!yucatan road trip
Desert hikes in southern Arizona

If you’ve been following me for a while, you know how much I love the desertscape of Southern Arizona – and I was happy that I had several visitors who got me out of the house to hike some of my favorite trails here and explore some new ones. Bonus: it’s spring, which means the cacti are blossoming, making the dessert look extra pretty.arizona desert hikes

Returning to Isla Mujeres

I fell in love with Isla Mujeres when I first visited the tiny Caribbean island in 2010, and I decided to spend an entire weekend there after our road trip – even though I had no idea if I’d still like the island after all these years of travel and all the places I’ve seen since then. Moreover, I didn’t know if Isla Mujeres had changed – had it become just as touristy and crowded as Playa del Carmen, a place I used to like a lot but that doesn’t do much for me now? I had nothing to worry about: Isla Mujeres was as charming as ever, and yes, it had become more touristy, but just look at these pictures… what’s not to love?!isla mujeres

What went right

Great publicity

Bild Der FrauThis month was an awesome month for publicity – An article about me appeared in one of Germany’s biggest women’s magazines, and I was featured by Lonely Planet! Being included in a list of the Top 50 Travel Bloggers was another pleasant surprise yesterday.

My first Mexican road trip

As I said above, my Mexican road trip was a blast, but it was also my first time renting a car in Mexico for longer than a day and driving on roads I hadn’t driven on prior to this visit. The only reason I was confident enough to sign up for this trip was because I remembered from living on the Riviera Maya in 2010 and 2012 that driving was a breeze in this part of Mexico, but I was still nervous if everything would go okay with the rental, if the route I had mapped out was too ambitious and if the car would be safe everywhere we parked it (sometimes with all our belongings inside). I am happy to report that everything went smoothly and without a glitch – and this road trip is perfect for anyone who wants to explore the Yucatan, so I’ll be writing about it in more detail soon.Mexico road trip

What went wrong

The almost robbery in Mexico City

My time in Mexico City almost ended with a tragedy – on my very last day in the city my friend and I were strolling through the big Saturday market that sprawls out into the streets surrounding La Merced, the city’s biggest market.

I was happily snapping some pictures and munching on a mango when all of a sudden I felt someone grab me from behind, wrapping his arms around my chest so that I couldn’t move my arms, while a second guy tried to rip my dSLR camera out of my right hand. Luckily I had strapped it around my wrist tightly and he couldn’t just grab it, and I started screaming like crazy. My friend pushed the guy who was holding me, and we both fell to the ground, I was holding my bag and camera tight to my body prepared to defend them, but they decided to run. My friend ran after them, not sure if they’d gotten anything from me or not, and saw them disappear into a courtyard right off the market. Knowing where these thieves lived we decided to get the police involved but they seemed a bit lackluster about the situation. They still came with us to the house, but told us they couldn’t go in without a permit / order.

I can’t believe how lucky I was – this could’ve ended much worse. I had my passport in my bag (required to go inside the National Palace which we had planned for that day), my Kindle, and a chunk of cash. However – I wasn’t entirely lucky during the incident: in the fall, I smashed my camera lens which died a slow death after the incident and had to be replaced, and I hit my big toe so hard that I was sure it was broken.

mexico city merced market dani
This picture was taken minutes before the attack happened…

The credit card scare

At the beginning of the month, I logged into my account to check the balance on my credit card. But what was that? In my ‘Account Summary’, my credit card didn’t show up! Where was my credit card balance?? I looked everywhere in my online banking account, but there was no sign of my credit card. No message either about it being blocked or something. It was midnight in Mexico, so I had to wait until the next morning to call my bank in the UK. Needless to say, I didn’t get much sleep that night. How could my credit card simply disappear from my account?!

When I finally got hold of my bank the next morning, it took an hour on the phone with them to resolve what had happened – the card had been blocked after I the rental car company I rented with try to charge a $2,000 deposit for the car. Yes, these high deposits are customary here in Mexico.. And so my bank put a flag on the account.

dani isla mujeres
Dealing with British banks makes me want to RUN.

I lost more things… And this time, really expensive things.

The ‘lost items’ section seems to evolve into a running segment in my monthly round-ups, much to my dismay. After losing clothes and my Sennheiser headphones last month, and my Kindle charger as well as camera charger the month before, this month’s loss was very tragic: I left my beloved $300 JBL headphones on the flight from New York to Chicago on my way to Tucson. When I realized what had happened while waiting for my connecting flight, I immediately ran back to the gate I’d arrived on, but I was told nothing had been handed in. Oh well, I guess somebody else is enjoying these amazing headphones now.

And not only did I lose my headphones in transit, I also managed to leave my belt behind in Cancun when I took it off to go through security in the airport. Only on the plane did I notice that I was suddenly belt-less! I really hope May goes by without me losing something.

isla mujeres dani cliffs
If I lose anything next month, I might jump off a cliff

What went almost wrong

The almost missed ferry & almost missed flight

For my last night in Mexico, I had booked a hotel near the airport in Cancun, because we were leaving on a super early flight the next morning. The plan was to spend the entire day on Isla Mujeres and head back to the mainland just to sleep there – why waste a day in Cancun when we can spend it in this island paradise? I had seen online that ferries were running until late at night, which was perfect for us – that way, we could even have dinner on Isla Mujeres!

But when we, happily stuffed with tacos, made our way to the ferry terminal around 8pm, we arrived to complete darkness – the terminal was closed! I panicked immediately, knowing that the first morning ferry wouldn’t run until 5am – too late for us to make it to the airport and to catch our flight. I started to hyperventilate, because neither my friend nor I could miss that flight the next morning. In my head, I already saw us pay for a private boat to the mainland, and ran over to a taxi driver to find out if there might be a car ferry or another way to get off the island that night, and he simply pointed to the ferry terminal next to the one we were at. Yes, this one had closed for the night, but the main one was still open. I almost suffered a heart attack in that near-travel fail, thinking I had screwed up and maybe ferries weren’t going late on Sundays. Luckily, everything went according to plan when we finally boarded the ferry.

isla mujeres sunset - Copy
The sunset was worth missing the ferry for

As if that wasn’t enough, the next morning we then nearly missed our flight even though we were at the airport two hours prior to our flight departure – and just because we were chatting at the gate waiting for the flight to board.. Our conversation was so deep that we forgot to pay attention and somehow missed that everyone had already boarded – they were ready to close the doors! Luckily we noticed that we were the only ones left in the departure area before the plane departed.

What’s next for me

I am finishing up my housesit in Tucson and am almost on my way to the next housesit: a month in Austin, Texas! I’ve been wanting to visit Austin for years, so when this opportunity came my way, I didn’t have to think long.

And because my travel plans aligned with those of a travel buddy I am finding myself now road tripping from Tucson to Austin, stopping along the way at one of the most remarkable places I’ve visited in the US, the stunning white desert of White Sands in New Mexico (which I hope I’ll get to photograph at sunset this time around) and in Big Bend National Park for a day of hiking before eating my way through Austin for the next few weeks. If you know Austin and have recommendations for restaurants, food trucks, craft beer bars and things to do, please share them in the comments!tucson cowboy hatsYou can follow along in real time on Snapchat: mariposa2711

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Life Lately & Upcoming Travels: March 2016 Edition

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In my monthly round-ups, I am looking back at my travels over the past four weeks, what went well and what didn’t, and what’s next for me. 

Where I’ve been

March was probably the most interesting month of 2016 so far – simply because on 1 March, when I was still in the Colombian Amazon, I had no idea where I’d be now, at the end of the month. So where I am? I am in Mexico City! Yes, this was a completely unexpected turn of events, or change of travel plans. But let’s start at the beginning… A short overview of the places I visited this month: From Leticia in the Amazon I flew to Pereira in the zona cafeteria. From there I moved on to Salento, the heart of the coffee region, hiked in the striking Valle de Cocora, and finally traveled further north to Medellin – which would be my last stop in Colombia… at least for now. I flew to Mexico City, from where I traveled to Poza Rica to visit the El Tajin ruins and from there to Cuetzalan, one of Mexico’s ‘magical villages’. Now I am back in Mexico City for a few days to catch up on work before I go on vacation (well, at least sort of) next week.March colombia mexico

What I’ve been up to

It seems like ages ago that I was leaving the hospital and finished up my time in Colombia’s Amazon region! The beginning of the month was quite tough, to be honest. I flew out of the Amazon into Colombia’s zona cafetera, which saw me travel alone again, quite a change after being surrounded by people for all of February and January. Being sick didn’t really help to get me back into a ‘solo travel mood’, and the cold and rainy days in the coffee region were a huge change from the hot and sticky days in the Amazon where I had to change my shirt twice a day because I was soaked in sweat.March Mexico ColombiaAnd so I found myself booking a flight to Mexico, where I would meet up with several friends. This is not the potential ‘change of plans’ that I briefly mentioned in my last round-up, by the way – that would have been a trip to the Canadian Rockies for a Winter Pride event, and I would’ve returned to New York from there. But I had to cancel the event due to my sickness and kept hearing stories about cold and rainy weather in NYC (even snow had been reported to me!) and I had no desire to return yet. So here I am, spending a month in Mexico.el tajin dancerI sacrificed some of my time in Medellin for this trip, which I had been looking forward to the entire time I was in Colombia, but I made the most of my few days there, and as soon as I took a bite out of my first flor de calabaza quesadilla in Mexico, I had no regrets about leaving Colombia a bit earlier than planned. To be honest, I was getting a bit tired of the food in Colombia and was ready for something new.

Now Mexico is not necessarily new considering that this is my fourth time here, but of course I’m not only revisiting old favorites but also new places. I don’t think I’ll ever tire of Mexico City though – there’s just always something new to discover here, and with a city of the size of Mexico DF (22 million people!) you can never see it all. I’ve spent over a week here again, and found it fascinating to see how the city has changed since my last visit in 2012.Mexico CityMy plans to visit new plans didn’t go as smooth as I would’ve wished for – see below in What went wrong – but I guess it can’t always be just awesome, right? Read on to find out what went well and what went wrong this month, and where I am off to in April… I am stoked for the next month!

March Highlights

A kayak trip on my last day in the Amazon

I was still sick as a dog when I left the Amazon, but after staying in that horrible hospital I wanted to do something awesome before leaving. And so we went for a kayaking trip which was the perfect way to end my time in this incredible region of the world. The massive trees we saw while paddling through mangrove forests, a swim in a lake, monkey spottings and these beautiful surroundings – with nobody but us out on the water – was a memorable experience.kayak trip amazon

Returning to Mexico

I think I’ve already made it clear that I’ve been having a blast since I got back to Mexico! I love that I have the freedom to purchase a plane ticket on a whim, like I did, deciding to come here a mere week before my plane departed. While I spent most of my time in Mexico City, I also got to visit some new places – two UNESCO World Heritage sites, to be precise. In the quaint little town of Cuetzalan I went on an awesome caving tour and got to have a small ancient site with pyramids almost to myself, and in El Tajin I visited the famous Pyramid Of The Niches. Some people find Mexico City overwhelming, but I feel right at home here, and I love the street food, the people, the markets, the weather, and seeing the Jacaranda trees in bloom (the first time I get to see them in bloom here in Mexico!) – plus, I’ve been getting my culture fix this month… see below:
March 2016 Mexico
A month filled with culture

One reason why I’m drawn to big cities? Culture. Sure, I love the beach, and I love being outdoors, hiking in the mountains or through the jungle, but at heart I’m a city girl. Not only do I enjoy all the amenities of a big city (hundreds of food options, movie theaters, events, concerts…) but I need me some culture! Museums, art galleries, or simply urban art in the form of graffiti murals or sculptures – as a creative, I feed off the creativity of talented artists. And this is why March was awesome – I got so much culture in the past four weeks… In Medellin, I got my culture fix with all the Botero sculptures that can be found throughout the city and in the Museo Antioquia (along with his art and other art), visited a fabulous Modern Art Museum, and here in Mexico, it’s been culture non-stop: the amazing museums of Mexico City including yesterday’s Night of the Museums, and my visit to two pre-Columbian ruin sites, El Tajin and Yohualichan. And there’s more to come next month – see Upcoming Travels.Artsy March

What went wrong

Plane to Pereira had to turn around because of a storm

The worst thing that happened this month was my flight from Bogota to Pererira, the second leg of my flight that would bring me from the Amazon to the coffee region. My flight left Bogota at 5pm and was supposed to land in Pereira at 6pm, but while in the air, around 5.45pm, the pilot announced that we might have to return to Bogota due to a massive thunderstorm in Pereira. After circling above the storm for 30 minutes, we indeed turned around and went back to Bogota. While I was still wondering if the airline would put me up in a hotel in Bogota for the night, as soon as we reached the gate, the pilot announced he had been notified the storm had passed and we’d give it another try. So nobody was allowed to leave the plane, they counted all our luggage for security reasons, and about 7.30pm we were supposed to leave. Then there was another inexplicable delay, and in the end it took us until 9pm until we departed again. By then, I was ravenous – I had only had breakfast. The flight attendants only handed out nuts, and that was 4.5 hours after we’d boarded the plane. I finally got to Pereira at around 10pm, and by the time I got to my hostel, it was 10.45pm – no restaurants were open anymore, and I went to bed starving. Considering that I had only left the hospital two days prior to my flight, I wasn’t in the best condition to begin with and sure didn’t need this flight from hell.

colombia plane
Usually I love being on a plane! Window seat, always!

Being sick suuuuucks

When I woke up in Pereira, the first time in weeks that I was completely by myself, still feeling sick as hell, I had only one thought: being sick on the road sucks. Especially if you’re traveling alone and have nobody to go to the pharmacy for you, to get you water or food. Luckily I had someone to look after me in the Amazon.Leticia Hospital

Traveling during Semana Santa

Ah, Latin America’s holiest of all weeks, the week before Easter.. I should have thought about traveling during this time, which is prime travel time, but somehow I forgot about it (again!) and ended up wasting an entire day trying to plan a week of travel during that period. Buses and hostels were completely booked, and if I was lucky enough to find a ticket online, by the time I had gone through the booking process, somebody else had snatched it. It was frustrating, to say the least. Instead of going south, I ended up going to Veracruz for a festival of indigenous culture and dance music, held in an ancient ruin site. See below how that went down…

transport in cuetzalan
Public transportation in Mexico

Rained out festival
El Cumbre, the festival we went to, and paid a considerable amount of money to attend, was completely rained out the day we got there. We were bummed, decided to wait it out for a day and to attend the festival the next day. It still rained on and off, and it was terribly cold. I had stupidly not taken my rain jacket with me, because it had been sunny in Mexico City and I had only used it once on the entire trip. Lesson learned! We tried to make the best of it despite the crappy weather, but it still put a damper on our mood. A good reminder though how lucky I am to be traveling in great weather 95% of the time!

el cumbre 2016 el tajin
Braving rain and mud at El Cumbre

Losing (more) stuff

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Only my big $300 headphones left. They’re great for working & blocking out noise, but not for working out..

Somehow I keep losing stuff on this trip.. after my Kindle charger and Canon battery charger (including battery!), and a few other things, this month I lost my favorite (and only!) pajama shorts and top, which I had bought in Bangkok last year. I must have left it in a hotel room, and it really upsets me because they were fitting great and I need to wear something at night when I travel with someone, which I mostly do. And then I lost my beloved Sennheiser in-ear headphones. I’d finally invested in pricey headphones a few months ago, and it didn’t take long for me to lose them – that’s why I usually use cheapie headphones while I travel. Oh well. I replaced them with inexpensive headphones in Colombia which broke after only a couple of weeks, and then replaced those with headphones here in Mexico. And guess what? I’ve already lost them. What the hell is wrong with me?!

Other noteworthy happenings

My first Temazcal

As if one indigenous ceremony wasn’t enough (I’m referring to last month’s ..um… interesting… ayahuasca experience), I experienced my first Temazcal this month, which is an indigenous Mexican steam bath that has been part of the Mesoamerican culture for hundreds of years and involves religious, ritualistic and healing motives. A Temazcal, similar to a sauna done at a very high temperature and prepared with medicinal and aromatic herbs in a small round stone building  usually lasts for about 2 hours and is supposed to help you connect with yourself but also with the fundamental elements of nature. Usually you are guided through the ceremony with songs and prayers, allowing for the purification, inner renewal and healing of the body on an emotional and spiritual level, but my experience was a bit different from what I had read about Temazcales before trying it.

cuetzalan sunrise
The beautiful town of Cuetzalan, where I had my first Temazcal experience
dani temazcal
After the Temazcal

The lady who was guiding us through our Temazcal experience seemed to suffer from the extreme heat much more than we did and was on all four down on the floor for most of the time, and asked us to beat each other with branches of herbs, for an inner cleaning. Afterwards I read that this is called ‘leafing’ and is part of some temazcal experiences (the ceremonies vary), and supposedly means that ‘the bather is gently beaten with the herbal branches’, but trust me, this was no light beating, this felt more like a full-on whipping, and she kept yelling at us to hit each other harder. I had a hard time not laughing out loud during the experience, and I don’t think we were in there for more than thirty minutes (instead of 2 hours) before being massaged by her daughter, whose massage skills were questionable.

I think I might give the Temazcal another try because I usually do enjoy sauna experiences and would like to see how I feel after a properly executed temazcal.

What’s next for me

April is shaping up to be another awesome month – I will fly to Cancun this weekend to meet up with my favorite travel buddy for a road trip in the Yucatan peninsula, which is probably my favorite region in Mexico. We’ll be checking out Mayan ruins, cenotes (underwater sinkholes), Caribbean beaches, snorkel with turtles, visit one of the most picturesque towns I’ve ever been to and finish our trip with a couple of beach days on a gorgeous Caribbean island (can’t tell you yet where because it’s a surprise for her and she might read it, which would spoil the surprise 😉 )MexicoAfter that, I will return to Southern Arizona for my ‘annual desert retreat’, which my trips to Tucson have evolved into, sort of. I am stoked to see my friends there and I will be housesitting there again – but this time, in a different house! But more on that in my next round-up, which will come to you from Arizona.

If you want to follow my travels in real time, add me on Snapchat: mariposa2711

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