My Trip to Seattle, Washington

My Trip to Seattle, Washington

A few months ago, an idea came into my mind. I decided to see if I could find a travel company that takes groups of millennials on trips. Sure enough, I stumbled upon For The Love of Travel. FTLOT offers amazing weekend trips to cities in North America, as well as longer international getaways. Not only did it sound amazing, but they had a trip to Seattle, one of the cities I wanted to visit. After chatting with a few of the team members via email and on the phone, I booked the Seattle trip before I could talk myself out of it.

The official FTLOT trip started on Friday, but I flew in a day early to get some extra site-seeing in, and most importantly, to see Ellen Degeneres live! I started my day with brunch and coffee at Tilikum Place Cafe, before heading to the Museum of Pop Culture. I thought this museum was really cool, and I especially enjoyed the exhibits for Jimi Hendrix, Pearl Jam, and Nirvana. I liked learning more about the musicians, and seeing actual artifacts such a diary entrees Hendrix wrote, and guitars he played. Another musical highlight of the museum was the Sound Lab, where you can try your hand at playing musical instruments.

 

One of the other women on the trip, Michelle, arrived a day early as well, so we met up for dinner that night at Local 360 Cafe & Bar. We both got a cocktail and sliders, which were delicious. Michelle and I got along really well, and it turned out we were roommates for that weekend, so it worked out great!

After dinner, I went to Benaroya Hall to see Ellen DeGeneres’ stand-up comedy show. It turned out that the show was actually a live taping of her Netflix comedy special, which I didn’t even realize ahead of time. The show was hilarious, and she even did a Q&A session afterwards. Unfortunately, I was sitting too far back to ask a question, but it was really cool to learn more about her. I’ll definitely be keeping my eyes peeled for when that airs on Netflix so I can watch and say “I was there!”

On Friday, I started my morning out right with a stack of pancakes and a mimosa at Portage Bay Cafe. They have a breakfast bar, where you can put all of the toppings your heart desires on your stack of pancakes. After breakfast I met up with Michelle and to head over to the Space Needle. Another member of the group, Joe, met us and we went up the Space Needle together. Even though it was pretty overcast that day (typical Seattle weather) it was still an awesome view of the city from the top! The highlight was definitely the new glass, revolving floors, which were terrifying at first. It took me so long to even step one foot on the floors, because my brain was registering it as unsafe, even though logically I knew it was fine. As you can see, I did eventually conquer my fear to stand, and even sit, on the floor!

 

Next we went to the Chihuly Garden and Glass, which was one of my favorite parts of the entire trip. Dale Chihuly is an artist that creates pieces out of glass, and this exhibition includes indoor galleries, a Glasshouse, and a garden. All of the pieces were so bright and colorful, my photos can’t even do it justice. You can check out more photos other people have taken on Instagram.

 

Friday night we finally met up with the entire FTLOT group we’d spend the rest of the weekend with. There were 8 of us total, including Tara, the founder of the company, and Kelsey, the Operations Coordinator and leader of the trip. We all grabbed drinks at Queen Anne Beerhall, a cool European-style bar with long communal tables and lots of food and beer. Afterwards we went to Brimmer and Heeltap for dinner. The food was amazing and we had a wine pairing with every course, which just made it that much better.

Saturday was a fun day of exploring and eating more great food. We began the day at Pike’s Place Market, where we went on a food tour. Our tour guide walked us around to the different vendors and restaurants, and we got to taste everything from samosas to grilled salmon. We also went to the Gum Wall, which is an alleyway near Pike’s Place that is covered in chewing gum. It’s a little bit gross, but makes for a cool background for Instagram pictures at the very least!

 

After Pike’s Place, we went on a boat tour, where we were able to get a really great view of the city from the water. We also learned a lot of history about Seattle during the tour, including some fun facts about different landmarks. At one point during the tour, the guide mentioned a chair called The Wishing Chair, which sits at the top floor of Smith Tower. The myth of the chair is that single women who sit in it, will find love within the year. Michelle and I decided to go see it after the boat tour. It has yet to be determined if the powers of the chair have worked, but we shall see!

 

Saturday night we had another amazing multiple-course dinner at Tavolata, followed by drinks and playing bocce ball at Rhein Haus. I’d never seen a bocce ball court inside a bar before, and we had a blast playing (very badly) for a while. It made me want to look up bocce ball in Austin, and I found out you can play at Opa Coffee & Wine Bar. I’ll definitely be checking it out soon!

Sunday was the final day in Seattle. We went to brunch at the Chihuly Collections Cafe, and then went to check out Gas Works Park, which is a public park on the site of a former gas company, and many pieces from the plant are still in the park. We also went to see the Fremont Troll, which is a weird sculpture of a troll under a bridge.

 

To say I’m glad I went on this trip would be an understatement. It was such a great experience in so many different ways. I made new friends, explored a new city, and even learned a thing or two about myself along the way. If you’re a millennial looking for a group to travel with, I would highly recommend joining the For The Love of Travel tribe.

Where was the last place you traveled? Where are you headed to next? Let me know in the comments, and feel free to reach out to me on social media if you have any questions about FTLOT or travel in general!

Travel Diary: Nosara, Costa Rica

Travel Diary: Nosara, Costa Rica

As I mentioned in my New Year’s Resolutions post, one of my goals for 2018 is to travel to at least three new places, and I am happy to say I can now check one off the list! If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen that I went to Costa Rica for a week with my mom. We went for a One Yoga Global yoga retreat, and stayed at the beautiful Blue Spirit Retreat Center in Nosara.

This vacation was the first time I’d taken a full week off from work since I started my new job in October, and it was exactly what I needed. It was the perfect blend of relaxation, sunshine, fun excursions, and of course yoga. Instead of walking you through what we did every single day, I’m going to just share the top highlights from the trip.

The Location/Accommodations

As I mentioned, we stayed at Blue Spirit. We had a great experience there, and I would highly recommend it if you ever get the chance to stay there. One thing to note is that it is for yoga retreats specifically, so if you practice yoga you should definitely try to go on a retreat there. We stayed in a Nature Suite room, which looked like a little cottage with trees all around it which made it feel like a tree house!

There was a swimming pool at the resort, and a peaceful area with a koi pond that was nice to go to when you wanted some privacy. The beach was only a short walk away, so most days we would go for a swim in the ocean, and then go to the pool to cool off.

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Our room for the week
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My mom and I enjoying the ocean view

Besides the beautiful views, the best part of the accommodations was all of the delicious food! We got breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day, buffet style. It was almost exclusively vegetarian, with fish being the only meat served. The chefs actually made a cook book, and my mom and I bought it so we can try to recreate some of our favorite meals back in Austin now! Stay tuned for some cooking posts in the future, where I’ll share some of those recipes.

We also became obsessed with drinking coconut water, which we drank out of real coconuts!

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One of the breakfasts. The plantains were delicious!
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Posing with my coconut water

The Yoga/Gong Practice

As you can probably assume from the fact that it was a yoga retreat, yoga was a big part of the trip. We woke up every morning bright and early for a sunrise yoga class, then had some free time before returning for a sunset yoga class, followed by a meditation after dinner. For those of you who are familiar with different types of yoga, we were practicing Kundalini yoga.

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Meditating during a sunset yoga class

Another big aspect of this trip was the gong instruments. During almost every yoga class the teachers would play the gong while we relaxed. If you’ve never heard a gong played before, you’re missing out! It is a very calming, yet transformative experience to lay and listen to the sounds. Our brain actually can’t fully understand all of the tones and sounds the gong makes, because it is so different than any other instrument.

Besides listening to the gong, my mom and I also attended a training course a couple of days out of the week, where we learned all about the gong and how to play it, as well as how to connect it to Ayurvedic beliefs and practices. Despite the fact I had only ever played the gong once before this trip, I actually got multiple compliments about how well I played. I will definitely consider learning more about how to play, and possibly even get my own gong someday!

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Meditating and listening to the gongs
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Gong virtuoso right here!

Zip lining adventure

One of the highlights of the trip was when we went zip lining with Miss Sky Canopy Tours. It is the longest zip line tour in the world, with 21 different runs! If you read my Colorado travel post last summer, you know I tried zip lining for the first time then. This one was actually less scary, but much more fun. Unlike in Crested Butte, we didn’t have to jump off any platforms. Instead, we started on the solid ground each time and went off of the mountains. The views were incredible, and it was actually really relaxing to just lay back and fly through the air!

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The view from the top of one of the lines
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Right before going down upside down!

Refuge for Wildlife

Our last excursion of the trip was a visit to the Refuge for Wildlife, which is an awesome rehabilitation center for injured, displaced and orphaned wildlife such as howler monkeys that have been injured on electrical wires or bitten by dogs. The purpose of the center is to rescue, rehabilitate, and then release the animals back into their natural habitat after they are better.

We got to tour the facility and see some of the different animals that are being helped right now. They specialize in the howler monkey, but they help all types of animals from birds to raccoons. They don’t want us to share any photos publicly, but you can see a gallery on the website here.

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If you look closely you can see monkeys playing in the trees at Blue Spirit

 

Those were the main highlights of my trip! I hope you enjoyed hearing about it and seeing some photos. Let me know in the comments if you’ve ever traveled to Costa Rica, and which places are on your travel bucket list. Also, enjoy my travel diary video below!

 

Explore With Me: Santa Fe and Crested Butte

Explore With Me: Santa Fe and Crested Butte

I just got back from an amazing road trip to Crested Butte, Colorado with a quick stop in Santa Fe, New Mexico! I’d been to Santa Fe once when I was younger, so I was looking forward returning. I’d never been to Crested Butte before, but my parents and my sister had and they told me how beautiful it was. I’m excited to share some of the photos I took, and talk about the adventures I had, which included zip lining, white water rafting, horseback riding, and a few long hikes.

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We started our journey by driving to Santa Fe on Friday, July 21st. We stayed overnight at a family friend’s house, then spent Saturday exploring the farmer’s market, which was a lot of fun. We got to try “healthy” donuts, and look around at all of the fruits, veggies, and other products being sold. I didn’t buy anything, but it was fun to window shop!

 

 

 

After the farmer’s market we headed to our next stop on the trip, Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort & Spa. Ojo Caliente has a bunch of awesome natural mineral hot springs, as well as a pool and a mud bath. We spent Saturday night and Sunday morning enjoying the springs, going on walks, and eating at the delicious restaurant, the Artesian.  

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Sunday afternoon we made the drive up to our main destination: Crested Butte, Colorado. On my first day there I went on a long walk on the hike and bike trail, and not only got to take in the wonderful view, but also learned some fun facts about the town. Crested Butte and the surrounding area was originally home to the Ute Indians, and later became a coal mining town. Today, it’s more known for skiing and other outdoor activities like zip lining and horseback riding (both of which I did later in the week).

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The rest of the week was quite eventful and adventure-filled. Like I mentioned above, I went zip lining and horseback riding. But I also went white water rafting, which was my personal favorite activity! Unfortunately I didn’t get any pictures from zip lining or rafting (it’s a little difficult to take a selfie whilst zipping through the mountains and avoiding rocks in a swift river).

But I did get this photo on my awesome horse, whose name was Cobra! He was pretty old and slow, but I was okay with that since I hadn’t ridden a horse since I was young. Cobra also didn’t like any horses riding behind him, so I had to ride in the back of the group.

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The final part of the vacation I wanted to mention was when we hiked to the top of Mount Crested Butte. The hike was quite strenuous, partly because of the high altitude which made it difficult to catch your breath. It was also a unique climb because the terrain changed quite a bit throughout the hike. Parts were like a normal hiking trail, but towards the end, it got super rocky and you had to use your hands to balance and climb to the top. Needless to say, my legs were quite sore for the next couple of days. But it was definitely worth it to see the exquisite view at the top!

 

 

 

Overall it was my ideal vacation – a good blend of adventures and relaxation. If you ever find yourself in Colorado, I would highly recommend checking out this town! And if you’ve never been to Santa Fe, I would 10/10 recommend that city as well.

Have you ever been to either of these places? Where are you headed on your next vacation? Let me know in the comments!

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Explore With Me: Las Vegas, Nevada

Explore With Me: Las Vegas, Nevada

Last month I visited Las Vegas for the first time with two of my friends, so I wanted to share some photos and talk about my experience. Vegas is somewhere I knew I wanted to visit at least once in my life, and I’m glad I finally did it!

Day One
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The MGM Grand lobby

We arrived in Las Vegas on Thursday, June 1 around 11 in the morning. My friend Rachel and I flew together, and Lisa flew separately and got in later in the afternoon. We stayed at the MGM Grand, which we later learned is one of the biggest hotels in Vegas. It definitely seemed huge, and we kept getting lost on our way to the room even after we’d been there a few days.

After we’d settled into our room, Rachel and I set out to walk around The Strip (the main street in Vegas where you can find lots of casinos, hotels, and restaurants). We walked pretty far that afternoon, going into a bunch of different hotels to see what they looked like, and spending some time watching the Fountains of Bellagio. All of the hotels have a different theme, and the architecture and decorations in each are amazing!

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Day Two

Our second day was arguably the most fun. We started the day at our hotel’s brunch buffet, which included plenty of food and bottomless mimosas. The buffet had every kind of food you can imagine, from sushi to typical breakfast to chips and queso. After our stomachs were happy, we headed to the hotel pool, where we somehow ended up being handed free passes to get into an exclusive party at MGM’s second pool, Wet Republic.

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I personally liked the regular pool the best, because Wet Republic was really crowded and you could barely find space to even get in the pool, while the regular hotel pool had plenty of room and there was also a relaxing lazy river! But, if you are someone who likes big parties with great music and plenty of people to meet, I would definitely suggest you check out Wet Republic next time you’re in Vegas.

After our pool day came to a close, we headed to dinner at a lovely Italian restaurant I would highly recommend called LAVO. We all ordered cocktails which were very tasty, and the pasta and salads were delicious as well. We also got to sit outside on the patio and have a great view of The Strip which was really nice.

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Standing on the Palazzo hotel steps after dinner at LAVO

Remember how I said this was probably the best day of the trip? The fun didn’t end there! After dinner we walked over to The Mirage to see The Beatles LOVE Cirque du Soleil show! The show was just as awesome as I hoped it would be, from the fantastic acrobatics to the actual recordings of The Beatles talking and singing, this is a show I would recommend everyone see during their time in Las Vegas.

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Day Three

By the third day we were all pretty exhausted (I think that tends to happen in Las Vegas), so we walked around on The Strip for a bit and then hung out at the pool again. That night we had another amazing dinner at a restaurant called Beauty and Essex in The Cosmopolitan Hotel. The food and drinks were delicious, just like LAVO. The two restaurants are actually owned by the same restaurant group, TAO Group.

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My friends and I enjoying our drinks at Beauty & Essex

The Cosmopolitan was one of my favorite hotels we visited, mostly because of the awesome Chandelier bar, which has purple beaded chandeliers hanging from three different stories, creating a really beautiful atmosphere. We hung out at the bar and took lots of fun pictures after dinner, before heading the hotel’s club, Marquee.

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Lisa and I at the Chandelier bar

On Sunday we had to head to the airport fairly early, so our last day was uneventful. Overall it was a great trip, and I’m glad I was able to experience Las Vegas for the first time. We definitely took the more relaxed, sight-seeing route compared to how most people do Vegas, but that was exactly what I wanted. There’s no “right” way to do Las Vegas, after all! Great food, an amazing show, plenty of pool time, and I am a happy girl.

If you’ve been to Vegas before, let me know what your experience was like in the comments! I’d love to hear where you stayed, as well as some of the bars and restaurants you visited.

My next vacation is coming up at the end of the month, so stay tuned for a post about that in August, and be sure to follow me on Instagram to stay up-to-date on what I’m up to!