Personal Travels

London For a Day: Walking Lots and Hipster Stuff

Look, this the second last post for my recap of the 12-days-in-Europe-Trip. It has been a LONG road to get all of these completed so again, thank you for putting up with my lack of timeliness.

London, England happened to be the second-last stop on this trip and that made it country #39 for my lifetime travels. I landed very early from a flight to Prague at London’s Heathrow airport. The horror stories I heard about this place seemed kind of irrelevant once I got there because I found customs to go pretty fast, they were nice and I guess because I only traveled with a backpack there was no luggage of mine for them to lose. I made it through Heathrow unscathed. VICTORY.

First I would like to say - THE CANADIAN DOLLAR CAN GO TO HELL. I withdrew 50 Quid and it cost me $88.41 Canadian. I thought Switzerland sucked for exchange rate and how much shit costs?

British Pound: ‘Hold my beer’.

My exchange rate…. oh the agony.

My exchange rate…. oh the agony.

I’m still pissed at this conversion rate. Fine, whatever.

So one thing that did NOT suck about coming to chip-chip-cheerio land was my friend Tare!! (I have embedded the link to his Instagram in the first name, so if you are a single woman who likes tall men that travel and sound like the long lost Nigerian member of the Beatles? TARE IS YOUR DUDE!)

He’s just going to love that description when he reads this.

Aside from the jokes, I had two people who really helped me with planning for London. My friend Joni who just recently hopped over the pond to Toronto and Tare who still lives there. I knew that the Tube in London was pretty well organized, but it truly helped a lot having two people explain it a bit better to me and give me advice.

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Me, learning where to go….

So basically the first order of business was getting this Heathrow Express pass thingy handled. I purchased that way ahead of time but I did notice that when I landed there was representatives for it absolutely everywhere so you can buy it at the airport as well.

It got me to Paddington Station pretty damn fast, I was impressed. Furthermore, once I arrived at Paddington there was a spot called Left Luggage inside of it that I was able to leave my backpack and laptop bag in so I could freely wander around London with nothing weighing me down. TWO big wins.

After this I literally just wandered around alone until it was time to link up with Tare. I made sure to go to Hyde Park and talk to myself out loud at the Speakers Corner on an issue I feel deeply about - that pita with cheese is NOT burek, it is sirnica. I ended up walking through some super upscale area with luxurious cars and embassies on every corner. Then I saw Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace and a partial view of Big Ben because it was surrounded by construction mostly. I guess I did the typical touristy stuff?

Tare and I finally found each other at some station downtown and he decided that part of my day should be spent looking at hipster stuff he likes. So I was like, OK sure. Let’s do that.

We end up at some place called Brick Lane? There was some pretty cool paintings and other artsy things there, although the building looked weird and drab from the outside. My favourite part of it was actually this one structure that had been erected of numerous OLD radios all playing one thing at the same time. When you see the picture of it below, you’ll see how nifty that looked.

After seeing Tare’s hipster stuff, it was time for him to take me to my most prized activity when I travel - food. I cannot thank him enough for bringing my foodie self to Borough Market. OHHHMMMGGG.

This market had absolutely everything and anything on display to eat and THEY LET YOU TAKE SAMPLES. Imagine if Costco was local produce? Yeah, that’s Borough Market. We tried cheeses and hot sauces and different desserts. Eventually we settled on eating some king prawns and BBQ chicken. (not samples, actually paid for this)

I looooved Borough Market. If I ever go back to London, that is going to be the first place I take the Tube to, mark my words.

Following the market, I went to see London Bridge and my lovely tour guide explained to me all the fancy pants things I needed to know about the bridge, about central London and also how to tell which soccer hooligan supported which soccer team just by the way they dress. Even without jerseys on. Wild.

We ended our day at this place called Shoreditch BoxPark. I really liked this place as well because there was lots of food, the music was great and there was alcohol. We sat down and complained about life, while drinking rum and cokes. This is how I wish EVERY day would end for me.

I was supposed to be responsible and catch a 7pm train to a WHOLEEE other part of London for my super early flight to Iceland - that definitely didn’t happen. I don’t think I even got into my hotel until closer to midnight. Real responsible adulting when it comes to me. But why sleep on your LAST night of vacation you know? Rather hang out and talk life with a foreign friend over drinks while cursing at some footy.

London was pretty cool. I don’t think I would have found it as cool if I didn’t have my own personal tour guide who knew all the random things to do that I may not have necessarily chosen on my own.

I’m sure London has a million more cool things to do, but I think between 8am and midnight I got to see and eat my way through it pretty well. Successful day trip, probably will end up back here again on some layover one day.

  • Mirna


New Years Eve in Paris: Food, Versailles and Louvre

This feels like the never ending trip right? It is almost two months since I came home from my 12-days in Europe trip and there’s like at least four more blog posts left to explain it all and post all the damn pictures. (Before we even get into this, if you like a lot of pictures, you’ll like this post a lot!)

Spending New Years Eve in Paris was one of the only absolute necessities for this trip. I knew I would spend NYE there and everything else around that date I would just figure out, whatever. MUST BE IN PARIS ON DECEMBER 31ST. The previous NYE I was in Abu Dhabi and feeling rushed between an insane 40-hr trip back from Maldives to Toronto. This time I would have two days to take in the city, eat my face off and actively participate in the most highly regarded New Years Eve party in the world. (Sorry New York)

I landed in Paris on the morning of December 30th, coming in from Zurich. I took a chance and booked a tour of Versailles for 930am even though I landed at 730am. I wasn’t sure how long the customs process would take, nor how long it would take for me to get from the airport to my AirBnB to drop my bags off but I had to rush my way through it all. Problem is that there are no tours of Versailles on Mondays (that’s at least what the booking info said) so it was either today or not at all. TODAY was going to be my day.

Luckily, everything went super fast and I made it to where my tour bus would scoop me at 915am. I opted to go with the ‘Skip the Line: Palace of Versailles and Gardens from Central Paris’ tour. They would pick me up at one of the three locations in Paris, take me to the Palace, give me a tour and then drop me back in civilization. That’s all I needed.

Personally, I’m not really good at following instructions or staying with groups so I got to Versailles and just took my own time to see things and walk around at my own pace. I’ve been to Carnivals that were less crowded than the inside of Versailles. To walk through there you really require patience and a strong elbow.

I should also mention, YOU SHOULD 100% PAY FOR A TOUR TO GO WITH, especially one that has you skipping the line. I’m not even exaggerating, there was a line of thousands to get in through the regular lines at Versailles. Four long lines easily holding 500 people per line. If I had just taken my time and made my way there, I would have been standing in that line for hours instead of just walking in with my group within about 10 minutes. Don’t waste your time, just pay extra for the damn tour.

After wandering around the inside of Versailles looking at all the luxury in the rooms and hallways, it had occurred to me that I hadn’t eaten since I left Zurich. Luckily, there is a very fancy pants restaurant inside of the Palace. The name of it is Angelina and of course, this had a lineup as well. It took about 25 minutes to get a seat inside. As you wait in the line you get to stare down the amazing array of desserts available to you and oh man, it just makes you even more hungry. I am personally a HUGE desserts fan and if you are as well, you need to come eat some at Angelina.

I got my seat, ordered a croque monsieur and french fries (or would they just be ‘fries’ since I’m in France?) Then I got my hands on the dessert menu and I went INNNNNN. I didn’t order just one dessert, I ordered THREE. All of them were delicious and you will see in the pictures below how glorious they looked. I should also mention, this meal inside of Versailles STILL cost me less than just regular hamburger meals in Zurich. * cries in high cost of living in Switzerland *

As you can see from that final picture, I also got another magnet to add to my collection. Very fancy.

After figuring out via their huge map how to make it back to where the tour started, I hopped back on the bus and we were all dropped off in front of the Arc de Triomphe.

I feel like I’ve seen some wild stuff in my life, but never EVER in my life have I seen this many people putting their lives directly at risk for a goddamn selfie. People were running into oncoming traffic, just to get a picture in front of this thing. It is never that serious. I snapped a pic and kept it moving.

There was a moment when I finally stood in front of the Eiffel Tower that I did have to take a minute and just tune everything else out. (I was on a sidewalk though) I legit stood there for 20 minutes just staring at the Tower. Seeing all the movement around it. Seeing the architecture. Nothing really prepares you for seeing it finally in person, yes I was in awe. The sun set and I got to enjoy eating a waffle while watching the glimmering lights emit from the Tower. Spectacular.

Woke up in my tiny AirBnB on December 31st nice and early to get to my tour of the Louvre on time. I specifically chose this AirBnB because it was within walking distance of all the fun stuff in central Paris without having to pay the inflated price for it. When I got to the area around the Louvre I was reminded again why choosing the ‘skip the line’ option for ANY tour is the best idea. This time it was ‘Skip the Line: Louvre Museum Walking Tour including Venus de Milo and Mona Lisa’.

I will say, for this tour, the gentleman was doing an incredible job of explaining everything inside and outside of the Louvre. I actually paid attention and stayed with the group for this, unlike at Versailles. It was definitely busy inside, but nothing as cramped as Versailles. The tour guide explained to us that if you wanted to see every part of the Louvre it would take six month of coming in for 8hrs a day. It is huge.

Being tall and chunky was a big advantage on this day because to get even remotely close to the Mona Lisa to take a picture you basically had to pretend to be an offensive lineman. There were just soooo many people and everyone wanted to shove and get their perfect selfie. I got close enough to snap my picture of it and keep it moving.

Once I got hungry, that was the end of the tour for me. I enjoyed the Louvre, but I sure did enjoy eating in Paris even more.

Full disclosure, I hadn’t been told too many great things about food in France. I was told it was small portions, delicious, but small portions. As someone who loves a big meal for as little money as possible, this meant a shitty time for me. These people were WRONG. The portions in Paris were not small at all and everything I ate, I could have eaten five more times.

I failed as a blogger by not getting the name of the restaurant I ate at before heading to nap, but this place really rocked my socks. I ordered this huge charcuterie board with a side of escargot and finished it of with some crepes. Yes, I also had fries. This was the most French meal I could possibly think of, shame I’m not a wine drinker or I would have been singing La Marseillaise by 4pm. I truly regret not ordering more escargot, I could have downed like 20 of those puppies. Oh wow. The most incredible tasting escargot I ever had was in Paris! Now that is exactly what I wanted to experience. I wish I had the name of the place to share and send everyone to. Fail.

Finished my meal and went on a scenic walk back to my AirBnB to nap before the NYE festivities began.

After the most blessaz food-coma nap, I woke up and slowly made my way to The Avenue des Champs-Élysées. My AirBnB host told me that this was the place you’d want to be when the clock struck midnight and I didn’t know any better so why not?

On the way there I stopped at another random restaurant to eat and made friends with a lovely family from California who were giving their 7-year-old son some wine to celebrate. My kind of people to be quite honest.

I arrived at Champs around 11pm and shit, was I late. There were already (what felt like) millions of people mingling, drinking and partying there already. A gentleman next to me in the madness said some of the tourists begin standing in front of the Arc from 3pm just to have the best view on the street. Again, after seeing what folks were willing to do in traffic for a good selfie in front of the Arc the day before - what’s eight hours of standing in the cold in comparison to that, right?

Although I can’t speak for everyone else there, I know I felt tension in the air. Prior to leaving for this trip, the biggest comment I got from everyone was, ‘you think it’ll be safe being in the crowd on NYE?’ I felt that. I felt it as I got to Champs and while I stood there awaiting 2019. Even though people were jubilant and very drunk, you got a sense of unease anytime you heard a siren wailing. To me, if I hear an ambulance (especially on NYE) I’d assume some drunks are just being belligerent. Judging by the faces around me that heard the same sirens I did, they didn’t have that same nonchalant expression. The fear of something bad happening in a mass gathering, an opportune time for some zealot. Leading up to my visit to Paris, there had been constant demonstrations by the Yellow Jacket protesters as well. I understood at this moment, anything was possible.

Luckily, everything was safe and well. The night went off without a hitch. We all got to see the most incredible visual displays on the Arc, followed by the fireworks at midnight to kick off our 2019. It was a hell of a street party. I’d never seen so much champagne and wine in my life! On the way home I called my boyfriend to let him know how it went and that I was walking home safely and during the conversation a random local ran up to me and kissed me on the cheek yelling, ‘bonne année!! bonne année!!’ So awesome.

Everyone should experience New Years Eve in Paris just one time in their life. I would suggest wearing comfortable shoes though because it will involve a lot of standing and at some point you also may need to hop over a police barricade or two. Small stuff.

I know I will return to Paris again one day because there’s absolutely no chance that I could stay away from such good food. That’s impossible. The Parisian locals were really nice to me and they showed me my favourite kind of love - food. I was really impressed by how kind the locals were since I can imagine the constant tourism must be a pain in the ass, especially during NYE when they probably have the largest influx. It was also pretty wild to me that IN Paris the locals all spoke English no problem but when I visited a certain unnamed province in Canada, the local Francophones gave me shit for not speaking French. Odd right? I’ll leave that there.

Go visit Paris. Go eat everything in Paris. Love Paris.

  • Mirna






Day Trip from Zurich to St. Moritz: Train Rides and Feeling Broke

You ever felt broke just breathing the same air as certain people?

Welcome to St. Moritz. To say this was the most luxurious place I have seen in my life would be understating the significance of it. It was like being in St. Bart’s again except with snow and nicer people surrounding me. I loved every minute of getting to this place and being in this place. Although I loved ALL parts of my eight countries in 12 days trip, this is still the highlight and most memorable piece of it.

First let’s start with (what probably lead many of you here via SEO) - How to get from Zurich to St. Moritz? Train from Zurich to St. Moritz? Day trip from Zurich to St. Moritz?

I know how this works. I know you’re either here trying to find out about the famous train ride to St. Moritz or see pictures. I have both!

The train ride for me began very early in the morning because to get from Zurich to St. Moritz takes SIX HOURS+ ROUND TRIP. That is the part you will have to mentally and physically prepare yourself for. Of course, the awesomeness of this trip is worth the time, especially on the way to St. Moritz because it is daytime and you’ll have these incredible views but the night? Not so great. It gets pitch black by like 5pm so the ride home will be darkness throughout the whole journey.

I purchased my train ticket ahead of time on the SBB Site and the cost came to about $80.00 Canadian for a day-pass (in first class) that I could use for 24hrs to continuously take rides to wherever I wanted to in Switzerland. The nice thing about that was I didn’t have to specify where I was going or what time, so it was really up to me how early I wanted to leave Zurich and how late I’d want to come back from St. Moritz. CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE! I love Goosebumps.

So I was of. I chose to take the 630am departure going Zurich to Chur - quick connection - Chur to St. Moritz. This is where I will tell you:

THIS IS THE CONNECTION YOU WANT TO TAKE IF YOU WANT TO SEE THE COOL ENTRANCE INTO THE MOUNTAINS.

I had to put that so extravagantly into the post because I know when I was trying to find information on which route to take to St. Moritz, it wasn’t this clear. I basically took a chance. There were different connection options when I was looking for my train, so I am here to tell you to ensure you take the CHUR option and to make sure you sit on the right side of the train because that is the side facing the entry into/through the mountains. If you want to see proof of WHY you should sit on the right side, click here. My video of it will solidify why you should listen to my suggestions.

There is NO WiFi on the trains so I would suggest that if you bring a laptop or cellphone to maybe download anything you want to watch onto it before embarking on this trip. The train ride itself was calm, peaceful and insanely picturesque. But I’ll let the pictures below speak for themselves.

I made it to St. Moritz at around 930ish. If you take the train and are just going to be walking there on foot you will go through a very nice corridor to enter into the city and it also takes you up three flights of escalators. There are old posters from the 1920s-1950s along the walls and also many items commemorating when St. Moritz held the winter Olympics in 1928. I hope your luck is better than mine because when I arrived they were working on fixing the escalators so it was a LONNGGG three flights of stairs up to get to the main street for me.

Once above I just decided to wander around. I really didn’t have anything particular planned except for I wanted to visit St. Moritz and hit a certain fancy pants spa while there.

Speaking of pants, I was wearing leggings. As I trotted down one of the streets going towards the frozen lake I managed to fall flat on my face. Yep. Right in the middle of one of the fanciest places in the world, my clumsiness took over and there I was on the ground with a bruised/bloody knee because I got too caught up looking at all the Bentley’s driving by me. So embarrassing.

After regaining what was left of my dignity I ended up taking a walk throughout the city, getting some food (best panna cotta I’ve ever eaten), journeying over the frozen lake and seeing clothes I could never afford - it was time to do the ONE thing I did dream of for St. Moritz……

It was spa time.

I had done my research and looked at hundreds of Instagram posts in and around St. Moritz. I know I wanted one of the places that had an outdoor hot tub/pool because, well, stunting for IG and the blog, duh.

This is how I found Badrutt’s Palace Luxury Hotel. To be clear, spending the night IN this hotel is over $1000.00 Canadian per night, and that is the cheapest room. Obviously, I can’t afford that kind of stuff (yet) but I really wanted to visit their spa.

Wellnesshotel & Spa inside Badrutt’s is located in the basement of the hotel. I did not opt to get any of the actual spa services booked, but instead I just wanted to spend the day lounging and getting good photos for the blog. Luckily, they have a day pass you can purchase just to enjoy the facilities, pool and outdoor hot tub. The cost was approximately $143.00 Canadian and I could spent the whole day there. I figured since this is Switzerland and everything is already expensive, and now I’m in the most luxurious part of Switzerland - this price was on par. If you were ever thinking of going and wanted to actually book any of the services at the spa, you can find the options here listed in CHF currency, which is why everything is so darn expensive. FYI: 100CHF = 131.30CAD so when I was there the 100CHF was $143 CAD. Lame.

The staff was amazing and so were the facilities. You get your own bathrobe and slippers, along with a plethora of towels available in every book and cranny of the spa. Before even getting to the pool and hot tub area they have: a massage shower, ladies only sauna, mixed sauna, salt steam room, aroma steam room, rain shower, mist room and ice room. I felt important.

Once you arrive to the pool area you will have to take a moment and take in your surroundings. No pictures will do it justice because it just doesn’t make sense how you are swimming/standing in/by this beautiful pool and looking at the Swiss Alps at the same damn time. When you pick your lounge chair for the day, one of the workers will come by with your own personal button to press if you want to order any food or beverages for them to bring to where you are sitting.

I think I ended up spending about four hours in the spa relaxing. They had this awesome contraption where you would enter the water inside the spa and then when you press a button these glass doors would open so you could exit to the outdoors while still under water. At this point you are outside, in winter, while in 38 degree water and snow is falling on your head. A feeling and view like no other. Highly recommend taking the time out of your day in St. Moritz to have this experience.

I felt relaxed, refreshed and ready to take on this 3hr + train ride back to Zurich.

I’d say I got back into the city a little after 830pm. This part of the trip did seem MUCH longer than earlier because it was so dark and you’re tired from your day so your only option is to watch movies on your laptop or sleep. Nothing to see outside.

Overall, YOU SHOULD VISIT HERE!!!! Take time out of your week or whatever in Switzerland and make your way to St. Moritz. You will NOT be disappointed. I don’t think I would do the trip in summer, although I’m sure it must be beautiful during that season as well. But the lure of snow-covered Alps while in a hot tub is too good to miss.

  • Mirna


Two Days in Copenhagen: Sneaker Stores and 7/11's

This won’t be a particularly long post since out of these two days, I spent half of one traveling over to Malmo in Sweden.

Copenhagen, Denmark was country #4 in my twelve-day travel bonanza this past December. It was a good destination to go since I’d have such easy access to Sweden and could experience a place I really knew nothing about.

Before arriving to Copenhagen I had booked this AWESOME hotel/hostel. The reason this place was so awesome was, well, #1 the cost and #2 all the good stuff it had in it. The hotel is named Steel House Copenhagen and it was probably the best part of the two days I was there. Before I landed in the country they had already e-mailed me notifying me to download their app so I wouldn’t have to go through any check-in process nor acquire a key - check in and the key are both accessible on the app. So going in and out was very straightforward since all I had to do was swipe my phone with the app open and boom, my room would let me enter. This hotel had a pool, a gym, a band area, a huge kitchen and it was located in the perfect place to roam around Copenhagen.

To get to downtown from Copenhagen airport was also really bless because the train ticket at their airport was straightforward to purchase, inexpensive and got you to the center very fast. Just watch out for the frigging landing at the airport because if you are someone who isn’t so good with flying? Coming in over the water in winter winds will definitely have you shook. The plane was palancing through the air as we landed. (safely)

After I got nice and cozy in my hotel I actually had no big plans for the night except I REALLY REALLY wanted to see Tivoli Gardens. And before you ask, no, this is not like the Tivoli Gardens in Kingston, Jamaica. Bet you didn’t know I was a mind reader.

Much to my dismay, Tivoli ended up being closed the day I arrived and the following day as well. So the only pictures I could get were from outside of their gates. It was so disappointing because if you actually had seen the place in person? It was really something to be immersed in. The light decorations were so beautiful and it made you feel like a kid looking at it. Shame.

I walked away with my disappointment and just wandered the streets of Copenhagen for the night. You’ll notice from the title of this post what I had seen the most of in this city. I swear to you, every three steps in Copenhagen there was a damn 7/11 or a sneaker store. There was SOOO many 7/11’s that in some areas they were like positioned directly across the street from each other. I didn’t even see this in America.

If you are a big sneaker head, definitely make time to visit Copenhagen. Their selection is massive, unique and there really is a sneaker store every couple of meters. Good place to go broke filling your shoe closet.

That is my recap of Copenhagen. I hope I didn’t disappoint.

  • Mirna


Two Days in Prague: Beer Spa'ing and Ballet Goals

I realize I am putting these out super slow, but the 12 days I spent in Europe had a lot of content and had/has even more pictures. So I’ll get to them all when I can OKAY?

Prague was part of country #6 (Czech Republic) out of the 8 I would visit during this whirlwind trip.

You know what’s great about Prague? After being in places like Switzerland and France - my Canadian dollars finally meant something. I went from spending $50/meal in Switzerland to barely spending $100 in two days in Prague. What a magical place.

January 3rd - I landed in Prague at about 10am and caught an Uber to the center, where my AirBnB was located. When I arrived the host was there to let me in just to drop my stuff, since check in wasn’t until like 1pm. This was fine with me because I didn’t care to actually hang out in the AirBnB, I just wanted to drop off my bags and go get some food and roam the streets like a real tourist.

The first thing I did was find food. Do you know how incredible it was to have a VERY heavy meal for only $8.00? It was a miracle after the super expensive countries I had just been in. This place had potato, cabbage and shredded duck. BIG WIN. The food was delicious and now I had my fuel for exploration.

I spent the first half of the day wandering in downtown Prague, trying to get myself acquainted with where certain things were located. I made it across the famous Charles Bridge, bought myself some magnets, ate a fancy ice cream and then went back to my AirBnB for a bit.

Definitely should mention, this AirBnB I had gotten was a ‘private room’ in an apartment and the room itself was larger than my entire apartment that I do have to myself in Toronto. I’ve been in hotel rooms that weren’t as big as this room that just had my bed and a closet in it. I loved this AirBnB so if you’re ever in Prague and want something cheap, big and with an awesome location? Click here.

At about 7pm I made my way to the incredible Christmas Market in Prague. I spent the first 30-minutes of this trek on WhatsApp video with my boyfriend and his work colleagues showing off the streets. They kept me virtual company, thanks guys! For as much as people rather do traveling to warm places during warm seasons (shit, me too) - I will say, traveling to see the Christmas Market in places like Prague is a heck of an experience. So beautiful. The food stands, the music, the crowds of people and did I mention, the food?

This lady was selling a warm apple drink with cinnamon and pear in it, fifty cents. I think I spent $4.00 just at her stand, that’s how amazing this drink was on a cold night. Also, I ended up purchasing an entire pork knuckle/knee/elbow? I can’t even remember which part of the pig I bought but it was massive and it came with spicy mustard, horseradish and bread. GOOD ENOUGH FOR ME. I stood in the cold ass weather and ate the pork body part and drank the delicious warm apple drink. You guys should have seeeeeen the faces people were making at me eating that pork alone, apparently usually a small group of people order that for themselves. Yikes. My long belly has no end, I guess.

Naturally, I followed up all this food with more food by getting the largest crepe filled with Nutella I’ve ever seen in my life. No complaints. Now that I had walked for three hours and eaten more than a small village, I returned back to my AirBnB to get some rest because the following day was going to be even busier.

January 4th - I woke up super late and loved every second of this phenomenon. Up to this point almost every morning I had been up either to catch an early flight or an early tour. Not this day, today I was going to take my time and enjoy being a lazy bum.

Made my way over to a breakfast place that was a three minute walk from the AirBnB, got some food in me, went back to bed. Not the most exciting vacation description I bet, right? But you know what, sometimes on vacation you also DO HAVE TO RELAX. I realize I don’t take my own advice, but even I get tired of just moving all the time.

I got back up at about 1:30pm (told you, SUPER LAZY) and made my way over to The Beer Spa which I had a 2pm reservation for made months ahead. Just in case you are wondering, yes, definitely make your reservation for your 1hr time slot as soon as you can. The day I went? Both of their location were booked up for every damn slot from open to close. They’re very popular.

For full disclosure - I actually don’t drink beer.

I wanted to do this because sitting in a tub of beer sounded really relaxing to me. I mean I’ve sat in all kinds of spas to this point, why not a beer one? Sure. When you get to the spa you are taken into your own room (whole room is yours) and the host lady will explain to you how much time you have and then she will mix the beer stuff into the tub for you. You get to see the whole process in front of you. Then she gives you like three massive empty jugs of beer and says, ‘you can have dark beer or light beer, drink all the beer you want for the hour.’ Basically you sit in a tub of beer, while drinking a bottomless amount of beer AND they give you beer bread. The bread was very good, FYI.

You can choose to go in the tub nekkid or not, I chose not to and was in my bikini instead because I wanted to get some good photos for the blog and IG on my tripod.

The woman left the room and there I was, sitting in my tub of beer, trying beer and eating beer bread. I feel like the beer was such a waste on someone like me who doesn’t enjoy it you know? I did try both the dark and light beer, I just didn’t like it. I really did try.

After your 30 minutes in the tub, the jets turn off and you have another 30 minutes of going to lay down in a straw bed, while continuing to drink your beer. Now the straw bed was….. interesting. I put down sheets on it and then covered myself with the blanket they gave me. For as weird as it was, it was oddly comfortable. As one of my Twitter followers noted, ‘if baby Jesus could lie in it, so can we.’ Can’t say I’ll be giving up my mattress for it just yet though.

The cost of the experience was about $100 Canadian. I’d recommend doing it once for the experience because the beer does make you feel super relaxed to sit in, but do you have to do it more than once? Probably not.

Also, while we are on the topic of substances, let’s talk about marijuana in Prague. Again, a total waste of an experience on me because I have never tried cannabis. I am pro the legalization of it, I love that in Ontario more people will have access to it now, it’s great. However, I don’t think I have EVER EVER EVER seen so much cannabis out in the open like I did in Prague. There was cannabis shampoo, cannabis toothpaste, cannabis vodka, cannabis food items and they even sold like ounces of kush next to the damn Twix. It was so out in the open that all I could think about was if Canada would let me import some chocolate for my friends. I didn’t risk it though, sorry guys, I’m not going to jail over a damn edible.

So I get home after my journey through the valley of beer and kush - it’s time to look nice. During this trip I had looked like a bum about 99% of the time. I traveled during winter with only a carry-on and I did laundry along the way. There wasn’t much space for ‘cute outfits’ and I brought very little makeup. Tonight I was going to experience something I had dreamed of since I was very small. I was going to see the ballet at the famous National Theater in Prague.

If you thought you had to buy tickets early for the Beer Spa? That shit has nothing on the ballet in Prague. I bought my ticket for this ballet back in August. AUGUST! It was now January. The day I purchased my ticket for this ballet, it was the last remaining one for the balcony seating. This is how early you need to try and get tickets for the fine arts in Prague. For the best seat ever, all I did was pay $50.00. I think in Toronto if I wanted nosebleed ballet tickets they might be $50? The price worked really well for me.

There isn’t much I can write about the actual experience because it’s truly indescribable. I saw the Nutcracker. The place was packed. They did have coat check. The dancers and the set design were breathtaking. That’s about it? If you have time to go experience this in Prague, 1000000% go.

You should go to Prague. It’s beautiful. It’s inexpensive. It has class and culture. It’s cannabis and alcohol-friendly. If you’re looking for a good, classy, turn up - this is definitely the place for you.

  • Mirna


Day Trip from Switzerland to Liechtenstein: Passport Stamp Chasing

This is going to be a very short post, probably about as short as my time in Liechtenstein. If you’re here for pictures though, I got you. The quick day trip from Zurich, Switzerland to Vaduz, Liechtenstein was strictly a ‘let me visit a next country real quick’ situation. This would be country #2 out of the eight I was going to visit during my 12-days of shenanigans through Europe.

The day trip I had booked on Viator would take me on a scenic tour through farmlands in Switzerland, to a one-hour visit in Liechtenstein and then finish it off with seeing Heidiland. You can find the tour here, if you’re ever interested in doing this adventure as well.

I started the morning with getting a pretzel that had cheese in the middle at the main station in Zurich. It was delicious, and it was cheap*. (*consider this an unusual phenomenon while in Zurich) After that I walked over to the parking lot area near the station to meet up with the tour group. There are a lot of buses in this area for various tours, so make sure you find the correct one that you signed up for.

Once you find your tour, they will most likely put a sticker with a specific colour/number on you so you can be identified for the duration of the trip among the rest of the tours. Then you’re off! The big bus starts moving and you have a tour guide explaining in 2-3 languages about what you’re seeing. I was lucky because our tour guide was awesome and had a great sense of humour so it wasn’t boring at all.

We drove through some pretty picturesque places on the way to Liechtenstein. On the one stop we were in a little town (Rapperswil) with cobblestone streets that had a medieval church overlooking the center of it. Looked as pretty as it did creepy at the time. But you know what the best part of this city was? There was this INCREDIBLE pasta place I ran into (Marco’s Pasta Bar) before the bus left for the next part of the journey. The owner/chef would actually prepare the pasta in the middle of the restaurant (I love seeing my food made) and the portion size? MASSIVE. If you ever do this tour or end up in Rapperswil, you must go eat at this restaurant.

From Rapperswil we made our way to Liechtenstein finally. The tour actually spent more time in the little city than it did in this country. There is no actual border when entering the place and most of the ride there our guide told us about how the tax breaks are so great in Liechtenstein and that is why many corporations have offices there. Great. I’m too broke for this shit anyways.

So because there is no border, how the hell are you supposed to get your passport stamp right? Well. When you enter the city there are a bunch of tourist offices and if you pay $3 Euros/Swiss Francs they’ll stamp your passport for you. I definitely did that and so did most of the people on the bus with me.

I don’t really have much else to tell you about Vaduz, Liechtenstein because…… I’ve seen high school campuses that are bigger than this country? I walked to the left. I walked to the right. There was a tree, there were very nice cars, a huge watch shop and some skating rink. Then we left. That was literally the time spent in Liechtenstein.

Another 30 minutes of scenic driving and we arrived at Heidiland. You may have heard of this place from stories where you were a kid about that blonde girl named Heidi living in the Swiss Alps. Well this place is named after her. We posed for some pictures, drank from a natural spring and kept it moving. It was literally a stop in a park.

The bus made it’s way back to Zurich after this and we lived happily ever aft…. kidding. Mans just headed home as the night fell, and trust me, night falls super early in Switzerland during winter.

That was it, that was how I found my way to Liechtenstein and paid for a passport stamp. Now I have been to the world’s smallest country (Vatican City) as well as the fourth smallest country, Liechtenstein. San Marino and Monaco, I’m coming for you next!

  • Mirna

Day Trip From Copenhagen to Malmo: In Search of Burek and Zlatan

On January 2nd I decided to venture from Copenhagen over to Malmo, Sweden for the day. Naturally, this had been planned WAY ahead and Sweden was going to be country #5 on my eight country tour this past December. But this was the day I was going to do it, I was going to visit Banja Luka Jr. Now if you’ve never heard of Banja Luka it is a city in Northern Bosnia where only tall, attractive women are born.

i.e. - Me. I was born there and so were many other tall, attractive women. YAY US!

The reason I call Malmo this name is because my mom told me that apparently after the war many Bosnians settled in Malmo, but specifically, many people from Banja Luka. My city. (well, what use to be ‘my’ city now it’s the de facto capital of…. nvm, let’s not do this right now.)

I woke up nice and early to have breakfast at some hipster spot named ‘Next Door Cafe’ in Copenhagen before heading over to the train terminal. I will say, probably the NICEST servers ever were in this cafe and their blueberry pancakes were delicious. Also, the dinosaur they have you hold as proof that you paid for your meal was especially awesome.

As I merrily made my way over to the terminal, this was the headline that read across my Twitter timeline:

Denmark Train Accident Kills Six on Bridge

Whoa.

Pardon? I’m in Denmark. I’m about to go over a bridge with a train. Whoa. Rest in peace to those who lost their lives that day and prayers to those who were injured. Super scary.

My train was on the opposite side of Denmark, going towards Sweden though. The train that the accident occurred on was going between Zealand and Funen. I made SURE to Whatsapp my mom at this moment because the last thing I needed was her seeing that headline and thinking the absolute worst.

I made it to my 11:27am train and left for Malmo finally.

At noon I make it to Malmo and the first thing I saw was pastries. I had a very difficult time this entire trip saying no to pastries so this time would be no different. The cinnamon roll I got was yummy, thanks.

I proceeded to just walk around the center of Malmo for a couple of hours, see what the feel of the city was. I found the shopping area to be quite busy and they had a very good variety of places to buy things, eat things and especially find sneakers. Between Copenhagen and Malmo, I don’t think I had ever seen so many sneaker stores. I also had found this super super cute set of trees that had gift boxes and hearts dangling from them. Took a million pictures trying to get both in one shot. Eventually I stumbled onto a place that sells cevapi. I had mentioned earlier than Malmo was supposed to be Banja Luka Jr so I definitely had to indulge in some delicious Bosnian food.

Malmos Cevapi was the name of the restaurant I had found. I really enjoyed walking into a restaurant and hearing my native language spoken, even though I was not in my native land. There’s something so warm and welcoming about that, it’s hard to fully articulate it. Just feels good you know?

HOWEVER.

I was a little disheartened when I went to order my food. I ordered some burek and the person behind the counter said ‘what kind?’ Sigh. So disappointing. I should have cancelled the burek order that second and just stuck to the cevapi.

For those of you who don’t know, burek is a phyllo pastry filled with meat. There are other variations of it WITH DIFFERENT NAMES like sirnica (with cheese), zeljanica (spinach) or krumpirusa (with potato). Therefore there can’t be ANY OTHER KIND of burek, as saying the word burek should automatically mean it is filled with meat. If you want to piss real Bosnians off, this would be a good way to go about it. We will argue to the death of us about how to use burek. Please see picture below for how serious we take it, it’s a running joke among people in the Balkans.

Croatia ‘Have you seen Bosnia?’ - Serbia ‘Hold on, I got this’ - Serbia yelling ‘Burek WITH CHEESE!’ - Bosnia yelling back ‘Burek is burek!, That’s not sirnica! Everything else is pita, but only burek is burek!’

Croatia ‘Have you seen Bosnia?’ - Serbia ‘Hold on, I got this’ - Serbia yelling ‘Burek WITH CHEESE!’ - Bosnia yelling back ‘Burek is burek!, That’s not sirnica! Everything else is pita, but only burek is burek!’

Yes, yes we take it that seriously.

So I get some burek and cevapi. As I predicted the burek was just OK, but the cevapi were very good. I liked those. My belly was nice and full now and it was time to make the trek over to what the main purpose of my trip to Malmo was.

Finding Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

I mean obviously I didn’t actually expect to find HIM, but there was a place called Zlatan Court built by Nike in Malmo to commemorate him in the neighbourhood he was raised in. I checked my Google Maps and it was about a 40 minute walk there from the location I was standing in, so I started my walk. Found some graffiti hailing Drake on the way too, yay Toronto!

After some confusion about where I was (yes, even with Google Maps) I finally found it. I had made it to Zlatan Court. I was just a little bit closer to that beautiful man, Zlatan. Rawr.

I took some pictures and posed in front of the court after setting up my tripod and praying that the strong wind wouldn’t knock it over. I was content. I got cevapi and I got to my fave soccer players court.

Made my way back to the central station and headed back to Copenhagen. Another 40 minute walk, but I guess between all the pastries and cevapi it served me well to get some steps in right?

Overall, I quite liked Malmo. It isn’t somewhere that’s particularly memorable out of all the places I’ve been to but it also does have charm to it. If you’re ever in Copenhagen and want to do a quick day trip, I’d definitely encourage you to take this quick train over the bridge and visit.

  • Mirna





A Layover in Iceland: The Blue Lagoon

Yesterday was the final day of my long Euro trip where I managed to go to eight countries in 12 days. The finishing touch to this awesome trip was going to Iceland and seeing the infamous Blue Lagoon. Iceland would be country #8 for this particular trip and was country #40 for my total count of places visited in my lifetime, so it was pretty monumental.

For this portion of my trip it wasn’t particularly hard to plan it out because Iceland and their main airlines (WowAir and Icelandair) encourage taking advantage of your layovers there to explore the country. I flew with Icelandair from Luton to Keflavik and then later in the day would have my flight from Keflavik back to Toronto.

My time of arrival in Keflavik was 11am and the departure was set at 5pm. Let’s say it would take about 30 minutes to get through customs etc. that would put me at 1130am and I’d have to be back at the airport at 3pm for pre-boarding stuff to fly home.

I knew that the MAIN thing I wanted to do in Iceland was see the Blue Lagoon. I looked at booking my slot for the visit there back in October because I had read through various blog pages to book as early as possible because they are very busy and these slots fill up quickly.

The nice thing is that you could book your roundtrip transfer from Keflavik airport to the Blue Lagoon while also booking your time slot.

They have two primary tiers for your visit:

1) Comfort: this includes your entrance, a mud mask, a towel and 1st drink of your choice. The cost of this option is ISK 6990 which amounts to $79.02 Canadian.

2) Premium: this includes your entrance, a mud mask, a towel, 1st drink of your choice, second mask of choice, slippers, use of bathrobe, table reservations at Lava Restaurant and wine included if you chose to make that reservation. The cost of this option is ISK 9900 which amounts to $111.92 Canadian.

I chose to go with the premium package because I was traveling with only a backpack so bringing a bathrobe and slippers with me was not going to be possible and I KNEW I’d be freezing the second I stepped out of the water. I also (obviously) chose to add the roundtrip transportation to and from the airport for an additional $61.00 Canadian. This would bring the total of my booking to about $173.00, which isn’t exactly a cheap layover activity you know?

Luckily, it totally ended up being worth every penny! I landed a little earlier than anticipated so the bus was able to take me to the Blue Lagoon for their 1130am departure, instead of the 1pm one I had booked. Sadly, they won’t actually let you into the Lagoon until your designated time slot but I was able to use my premium package and go have lunch at the Lava Restaurant there. Delicious. Absolutely delicious. They have three options for different two or three course meals, I went with the Icelandic option. Had the most amazing Atlantic char for a starter, lamb shoulder for my entree and some type of caramel ice cream as my dessert. So good, came to about $100 Canadian for it all. My belly was very happy and now I was fully prepared for my venture into the Lagoon.

When you are about to enter the Blue Lagoon the person at the front desk will give you a wristband and that is the MAIN thing you want to make sure not to lose. This is how you lock and unlock your personal locker and this is what any additional items you choose to purchase there (drinks etc.) will be logged into as well.

I was given my slippers, bath robe and towel at this moment as part of my premium package and then I was on my merry way to the change rooms. I will warn you, the change rooms are crazy busy. You will have all the women who are entering at the same time slot as you getting changed as well as all the women who are departing. You choose whichever locker you want because your wrist band will be programmed at that point to only lock and unlock the one you chose. I had a backpack and a laptop bag with me, along with a very large winter coat and boots - it ALL fit in their locker. Just in case you do have one of those really large checked-in luggage bags with you, there was a paid luggage storage building before you enter the Blue Lagoon where you could also put it. Within the Blue Lagoon the locker was included with your cost of entry.

After you get changed into your bathing suit, you HAVE TO take a shower naked. There are signs everywhere stating that anyone who wants to enter must first take a shower naked. So you put your bathing suit on, go enter the shower and take it off, shower, and then put it back on and head for the warmth of the Lagoon.

PRIOR to that warmth though, you will feel the wrath of the wind in Iceland while only having your bathing suit on. Listen, I had my bathrobe on and I still was well vexxed having to take it off and enter the water. I made that transition as quickly as possible.

Once you enter the water you feel soooooooo damn good though. I believe the temperature is 38 degrees Celsius in the water and it sends your body into an automatic relaxed mode. For my 2pm slot I didn’t find the waters particularly busy. For as hectic as the change room felt, the space in the water was pretty great. Didn’t feel crowded at all.

Make absolutely sure you bring your waterproof phone case with you when you go to into the Lagoon! I saw some people braving the waters with trying to keep their phone high above their heads and stuff, but between the splish splashing of some kids there and the steam radiating off the water - don’t risk it, just buy a cheap waterproof case from Amazon or something like I did. They do have them for purchase AT the Lagoon as well, but just come prepared and pay less OK?

As I mentioned, the damn splish splashing kids. Let’s talk about your hair for a second. I read MANY MANY posts about what the Lagoon water can do to your hair and how much it’ll suck after contact. I am tall enough to prevent my hair from touching the water while it was tied up. I knew I didn’t have time to condition it heavily, swim around and then have to wash it out after and blow dry it before my flight home. I was on a serious time constraint so I just chose to avoid Lagoon water touching my hair. I failed. The children that were at the Lagoon decided to swim around flapping all their limbs enough to splash everyone around them, which included me….. and my hair. So although I didn’t dunk my head into the water, it definitely got wet and I did not have the suggested conditioner in it before entering. Let me tell you, the current texture of the parts that did get wet? NOT AWESOME. NOT AWESOME AT ALL. So please if you aren’t on a time constraint like I was, ensure that you just do the damn conditioning before entering even if you don’t plan on dunking your head in.

I swam around for a little bit in the Lagoon, got some pictures, got my free drink (banana smoothie) and I indulged in their amazing mud mask. I should say, even though my hair feel like shit right now, my face feels incredible from that mask. WOW. They blob it onto your hand and you apply it to your face, leave it on for 10 minutes and then wash it off. Your skin is left feeling so soft. I guess because your pores are already surrounded by steam and warmth, adding this mask to it makes it that much better. Make sure you do it while there!

When I noticed it was about 240pm I hopped out and went to the change room so I could be on time for my 310pm bus back to the airport. I was glad I chose to not fully dunk my head in at this point as well because the long-haired-lasses had the blow dryers going and if I would have waited for them to finish to blow dry my hair? I definitely wouldn’t have even made it on time for my flight departure at 5pm.


This blog post ended up being way longer than I anticipated. Shit. Sorry guys, I just wanted you to know ALL the goods. I hope you go to the Blue Lagoon at some point as well, it’s worth the money and I would especially suggest doing it before your flight home because you’re so relaxed after the experience. It makes the long flight home just a bit less shitty you know? Also, make sure you put some money aside to buy the products at their gift shop. They aren’t cheap, but it’s hard to resist taking some amazing skin products from there. Because I was traveling with only a carry-on bag I took all the products out of their packaging and threw them in my ziploc bag to make sure it would be close to the liquid allowance. I got them into the plane and back to Canada, great success.

  • Mirna

A Recap of 2018

Happy New Years Eve to all of you, wherever in the world you may currently be.

I am currently in Paris laying down because I ate too much escargot and I can’t stop eating everything in sight. I regret nothing though.

2018 was an incredible year for me. I won’t go through ALL the crazy shit necessarily because who really has time to read all of that today? Definitely not me and definitely not you nice people who probably have parties to get ready for or exes to reconcile with. (If you’re ONLY here for pictures - just click the links then, damn)

I began this busy year with my best friend Sherry and I welcoming 2018 in Abu Dhabi, amidst a 40-hr trek home from the Maldives. I’m one of those people that believe in how you start your new year will be how the rest of your year will go - so traveling? Yes. That was exactly how 2018 went for me.

The highlight of the year was actually not the crazy amount of traveling I did, it was that on February 26th, 2018: I finally got a permanent position at my workplace. I had been working on contract and up to that point there was really no definitive future for me and I was unsure what I would do after the contract was finished. But I got very lucky and I guess I must have done a good job because I was BLESSED with a permanent full-time position with ALL them benefits and ALL those yearly vacation days. I finally got stability and that really gave me a green light to pursue more travel than I had initially anticipated in 2018.

In April I finally got my return to Jamaica. I hadn’t been there since 2010 and being able to go back eight years after for carnival with my two best friends also there was amazing. Carnival in Jamaica was a good way to fill some of the tabanca I had from Cropover 2017. The main picture I used for this piece was actually taken on a yacht in Kingston, Jamaica while there for carnival. The flex was necessary.

At the end of May I surprisingly had put out what ended up being one of the most popular pieces ever on my blog. A breakdown of all the food festivals for summer 2018 in Toronto was put up on May 22nd and by like May 25th over 5,000 people had read it. I had never seen such traffic for my site. There was definitely some pieces that had been popular over time, but instantly? No. I hadn’t experienced such a frenzy before and I am truly grateful for it. Not only did it bring more readers to my page, it also contributed to others planning dates and potentially getting fatter as well. Great success on this end.

During June a group of friends and I made the trip out to Philadelphia for Roots Picnic. This would not be the only road trip for the year for me into America, because a month later my boyfriend Mark and I trekked over to Detroit to watch Liverpool vs. Manchester United play at the Big House. Both were amazing trips, with amazing people and they involved lots of naps.

For Labour Day weekend Mark and I went to Cancun on a quick little baecation. It was really nice to finally travel with him somewhere outside of America/Canada and take in a brand new country for both of us. Also, this ended up being country #30 for me so it was a momentous occasion all around.

An awesome non-travel-related thing did happen in September as well. I got to see my favourite soccer player Zlatan Ibrahimovic score his 500th career goal vs TFC in Toronto. He’s so damn fine. Hmph.

The following holiday (Canadian Thanksgiving) in October my best friend Lorren and I went to see Panama and Cartagena, Colombia. This fulfilled one of my personal goals as I wanted to surpass the # of countries vs my age since I never got to 30 by 30, at least now I had gotten to 32 by 32!

Shortly after returning from this trip Sherry’s sister got married and I got to go to a super fun wedding. The reason THIS wedding was especially fun was that after it ended …. we crashed the wedding party next door to it so we could keep dancing. I officially became a fucking wedding crasher. BOOYAH.

I laid low for most of October and November because I had this gargantuan trip coming up that I’m currently on. At one point I worked six weeks straight Monday to Sunday so nothing of particular excitement happened except for sleep deprivation and money making.

There was some amazing milestones during this time that happened for my blog though. First I had posted this free downloadable Excel spreadsheet to help people plan their finances for savings or for travel. I created the spreadsheet a while ago and this was how I planned all my trips so I figured other people would have use of it as well. I sure was right because that ended up being another super busy couple of days on my site. Furthermore, I dropped this GEM on my site for those people planning group travel. It was a checklist (partially joke/partially completely true) for them to go through before considering traveling with someone they knew OR didn’t know so well. Now THIS piece? That took off like me when I hear ‘dinner is served’ at a party. Everyone could relate to this blog post because it didn’t matter which country you were from, how old you were etc. You knew the exact types of people I talked about in it. Finally, all of these posts contributed to a momentous moment for the blog - the day I hit $1000 worth of earnings via advertising. That was a huge success for me because I had just begun monetizing earlier in the year and earning that much in the first year was insane to me. Some days I would earn $0.50 but then there was days where it was suddenly $77.00 as well.

I will forever be grateful to all of you who read, RT’d, passed along or recommended the blog in some way. Without you there’s no way I would have made a cent off of this in 2018.

On the topic of being grateful, I turned 32 on December 16th. My best friends Sherry, Lorren and Jummy threw me an awesome party in a hotel room which was followed by another awesome party in a night club. Oh, and the day after? I got to go to a Buffalo Bills vs. Detroit Lions game for free, in a limo, because my blog followers are amazing. You can read about that crazy ass weekend here.

This brings us to the trip I am on currently. Back in April of 2018 I had this idea to try and do eight countries in twelve days for under $2000. Why eight? Well I’m greedy. I knew I would hit 32 countries by the time I was in Colombia so why not try for 40? As I sit here in France I am at 35 and in the next six days I will be in five other countries that will get me to 40. Crazy right?

There will obviously be individual recaps of all these places I visited during these crazy 12 days but I just wanted to tell you all quickly about an incident during this trip that definitely ended my 2018 on a super high note. During a gondola ride in Switzerland I got into chatting with a family from North Carolina about their trip and they had asked about mine. As I went to mention I had a blog and why I was doing this trip, the mother in the family stopped me and said, ‘You’re the impatient tourist! I’ve been to your blog.’ Holy shit. This really happened. I’m there, on one of the bajilion gondola rides in Switzerland, with a family from frigging North Carolina and this woman had been to my blog. I can’t describe how I felt at the moment because it’s something I never saw coming. I debate regularly if I should call myself a travel blogger because I’m not famous nor am I successful, I’m a person who blogs about travel…. not a travel blogger. But in THAT moment? I felt pretty damn amazing. So if you’re reading this FAMILY FROM NORTH CAROLINA - you made my year. You really did.

I could see how 2018 seemed to be filled with ALL good things from how I wrote all of this above, but there were down times. Those are sadly unavoidable. My best friend lost her father this year and I wanted to hug her forever to try and make the sadness from that go away. Also, some bitterness and anger I had from bullshit in 2017 really still lingered in my feelings. You’re not supposed to bring the resentment and anger from one year into another, but I had. I actually had brought it from 2017 all the way to December 2018. It took me a full year to realize some conversations were never going to happen and that I have to do a better job at letting shit go. So I did. I will not be entering 2019 with nonsense from 2017, and I can truly say I only have otherwise amazing things from 2018 to take into 2019 with me - HAPPILY.

I hope all of you have a safe and super fun new years eve. I hope that whatever you wanted to accomplish in 2018 got done and if it didn’t, so what? Keep working hard and it could happen in 2019.

Thank you for reading the blog. i will try to continue and put out inappropriate content that sometimes makes no sense amidst some kick ass itineraries. Also, I will be back to doing personalized itineraries on January 7th when I’m back from this vacation.

I’m going to go take a nap before partying it up in the center of Paris tonight. I am wishing all of you the super duperest of happy new years!

  • Mirna

Carry-On Chronicles: Winter Travel Packing

(Repeating, for third time) I have written before about vanity being a detriment to smart packing and that it is more relevant that you stand in front of the Eiffel Tower in whatever clothes vs stand in front of the CN tower in a great outfit. 

Funny enough, because this time? I’ll actually be going to see the Eiffel Tower.

On December 25th I will be leaving on a 12-day trip that will take me to eight countries in Europe. I will start in Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Paris (France) for NYE, Denmark, Sweden, Prague (Czech Republic) for the ballet, London and then finally Iceland.

I have never done winter travel to another cold place, especially not to eight different ones. During this trip I have like three spa visits, two alpine trips, museums and even the ballet as an activity. Usually I’d be totally fine with being a bum in thick clothes the whole time but some of these require me to look a little nicer or be prepared to go swim.

This trip managed to be under $2000.00 for all flights and stays, and I wrote about that here. With the money saving, this means I’m only going to be allowed 10kg (22lbs) with me on this trip. Some of the airlines I’ll be flying on do allow more, but I have to base it off packing for the one that allows the least so the 10kg it will be.


This is how I broke down my packing (clothing) list for this trip:

1 x boots, 1 x winter coat, 1 x all black hoodie, 1 x heavy wool pants, 1 x long sleeve, 1 x scarf —— these I will be wearing, to avoid putting heavy things into the carry-on.

2 x skinny jeans, 2 x leggings, 4 x long sleeve, 2 x bra, underwear, 3 x socks, 1 x heavy wool sock, 2 x nice shirt, 1 x PJS, 3 x swimsuit, 1 x day bag, toiletries

This time I saved A LOT of space for toiletries by switching to this Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap. I have read MANY a travel blog that said this liquid can do it all so I’m willing to test this theory out. I brought two little carry-on size bottles of it to be used for: washing hair, body wash AND doing laundry in my sink. Will update on how this works out.

All the things going into the carry-on are on the right, all the things for the personal item on the left.

All the things going into the carry-on are on the right, all the things for the personal item on the left.

Unlike my previous carry-on travels, this time I won’t JUST have the carry-on. Because this blog keeps me very busy and I don’t want to take time off from posting on it, I finally bought myself a new laptop and will take advantage of the whole ‘personal item’ allotment for the flights as well. Basically, you can carry around a purse along with your carry-on bag. This purse of mine is just for my items needed to work on blog/stay connected.

1 x Pixelbook, 1 x Anker Portable Charger, 1 x Tripod/Selfie stick, 1 x Picture Bluetooth Shutter, 1 x Voltage converter, 1 x Waterproof bag, 2 x Chargers

Carry on + Personal Item

Carry on + Personal Item

I hope this packing list ends up working well for me because unlike some of the warm-climate places I go to where just buying anything is cheap, THAT IS NOT THE CASE IN EUROPE. Especially not in places like Switzerland and London where the Canadian dollar doesn’t mean a damn thing.

Happy packing everyone!

- Mirna 

 

 

My Birthday Weekend Recap

I turned 32 yesterday.

My body hurts today.

Since Friday my life has been in a complete whirlwind, along with my body. The usual benders I was accustomed to seem to hurt much more now that I’m getting older. Getting old sucks. (Kidding, I’m only medium-young now.)

This was probably one of the best weeks of my life, good things just kept happening over and over so I figured I’d just make a recap post of all the 32nd birthday weekend shenanigans.


Friday, December 14th:

I woke up and was like ‘wooo let me get this work day done with so I can get to fun times with my friends!’

So I’m walking to work and I check my DM’s for my IG page for the blog and - wow. holy shit. it’s happening.

I finally got asked to be a brand ambassador for something! The watch brand Capitola (check their IG here and website here) messaged me with this opportunity and I absolutely said yes. They have a bunch of brand ambassadors so it isn’t like I’m the only one, but the way I see it, it is my first one and maybe this will open the floodgates for more! I have ordered my first watch from them already and will ABSOLUTELY be showing it off for this upcoming Euro Trip for Christmas. If you like what you see in the above links use my code ‘impatient’ to get 15% off your purchase of their watches! Very exciting.

That was how my morning started so I was already in an awesome mood. The work day was good, I got a lot of work done but my mind was definitely thinking about later in the day and the fun weekend I was about to have.

At 5pm - my best friend Jummy had an Uber pick me up to take me to an undisclosed destination. She’s all about the damn trickery and secrets, I swear. When the Uber driver finally stopped I had found myself in front of SpaZen at the Cosmopolitan. Yess, I needed some spa time so badly after throwing my back out just last week. (medium-young, right?)

Jummy had bought her and I some time to spend in the hot tub at the spa, followed by massages that ended up being in the same room. I don’t think she meant it to be a ‘couples massage’ scenario but whatever, we didn’t care. I loved the massage and Jummy made sure to get me a scalp massage as well because that is my favourite thing EVER.

After the relaxation we made our way over to the dinner reservations at Rickshaw Bar. I had never been there before but maaaaaaaaaaaan did Jummy make an awesome decision picking this place. The food was incredible. If you ever go, please please please try their panna cotta. I might just go back to eat that dessert alone, that’s how good it was.

By the time we finished dinner it was around 930pm and I basically just went home, got changed, and made my way to my overnight shift. No sleep, zero sleep.

When I got to my overnight shift after such an awesome day I really didn’t expect for more awesome to happen. But it did. Awesomeness did happen. If you have ever worked condo security then you damn well know why Christmas is the best time to be security. God bless the Christmas bonus life in the form of white envelopes with cheques in them. Amen.


Saturday, December 15th:

Aright, I finished the damn overnight and haven’t slept since Friday at 730am. I finally went to sleep and woke up at around 12pm. When I’m excited for something it’s damn near impossible for me to sleep so it didn’t really matter because I knew that for my Saturday evening I was going to have an awesome birthday party and then spend the whole Sunday recovering in my bed.

Wrong. I was wrong.

At around 230pm in the afternoon - this was a DM I received on Instagram from one of my awesome IG/Travel Blog followers:

Screenshot_20181217-093306.jpg

HOLY SHIT. OMG OMG OMG OMG. (my reaction)

I nearly cried while sober in the middle of the afternoon. Anyone who even remotely knows me, knows I love the NFL. This token of thanks for my birthday was, I don’t even know, there isn’t really a word to explain how I felt about it at the time nor how I feel about it right now. I was just super thankful.

I called my boyfriend and told him to forget about sleeping Sunday - we are going to an NFL game instead. Insane. What a turn of events that was. Shit.

After finally calming down, I packed my stuff and left for my prelime.

My wonderful friend Sherry had paid for me to get a nice makeover downtown before the party began. I went to the Eaton Center for 6pm and got my face beaaat. I looked so damn nice. I’m not really accustomed to a lot of make up on my face, nor am I use to eyelashes but I LOVED it all on me. She really did a great job, my makeup looked amazing.

Following that I made my way over to the Sheraton Hotel. My other super duper awesome bestie Lorren had booked me a night at the hotel as a birthday gift to have a prelime there. Holy shit. Room was MASSIVE. Sherry, Lorren and Jummy had decorated it in Dallas Cowboys colours for me (which, at the time, I was too tired to notice… sorry again). There was loads of food, booze and selfies which was followed by about 20+ or so people joining us in the hotel room as well. They took care of all the planning, the inviting and all the nourishment for the night. My best friends really came through and I felt fucking special. Real fucking special ok?

We eventually made our way over to the actual party for the night and that’s all the information I have for you regarding Saturday night because - rum. The end.


Sunday, December 16th:

Well look, it’s finally the day of my birthday. I think we went to sleep in our hotel room at 430am and we were up by 615am for my mom to drive us to Grimsby. I’d like to say Mark and I were hungover - but in reality, it’s easier to say still drunk.

Because it was a Sunday morning the transit situation for anywhere SUCKS so my amazing mother offered to drive from Hamilton to come pick us up in downtown Toronto and take us to our meet up location in Grimsby. (Love you mom!)

We both felt like death. There was absolutely no sleep between party time and football time for us. We made it to Grimsby for 8am and it was time to start another crazy ass part of this birthday weekend.

A white Lincoln Navigator limo pulled up. Shit got real QUICK then. It was happening, we were going to this NFL game. All together there was twelve of us in the limo and on our way to the game in Buffalo we made a stop to get refreshments at the Duty Free for the tailgating. Duty Free is a great place. I love you Duty Free.

I have never been to an NFL game in the USA before and therefore had never tailgated before either. Oh man, I have really been missing out. Tailgating is just a prelime for football fans outside. When we parked by New Era Stadium, there were hoards of other people in their limos and buses setting up (or already set up) to tailgate.

Food. Football. Liquor. Can you really name a better trio? I personally cannot.

We tailgated and then went inside to watch the game. Yay, Buffalo won. Obviously we were good luck for them, right? I think so.

After the game we made our way back to Toronto piece by piece with our exhausted minds and bodies, but with BIG smiles nonetheless.



I might be forgetting some more awesome stuff that happened this weekend but at this rate it’s probably for the best. Thank you to everyone who wished me a happy birthday and all of you who participated in the weekends activities as well. I am a very happy person who just has a messed up neck from sleeping in a limo. #1stworldproblems

  • Mirna


Things To Do In Bali

I realize there are probably a MILLION pieces online for what folks think you should do while you’re in Bali. Look, I’m about to be 1,000,001 OK?

Because I plan SO MANY Bali itineraries I get asked frequently what I would suggest people do while visiting Bali, so instead of me having to send screenshots and links every single time, putting it in a blog post made the most sense. So here goes nothing, I hope I manage to steer you in the correct/fun direction. Everything listed below is something I actually did during my trip, so it isn’t hearsay or second-hand knowledge. I did this shit, and would suggest you do some of it too.

(Note: I tried to include as many descriptions and links to stuff as I could! So click around.)


Tanah Lot at Sunset

If you do absolutely nothing else, make sure you catch the sunset views at Tanah Lot. There will be at least another thousand people there with you so don’t expect much romanticism or mystique - but you will love it nonetheless. This temple looks unreal in person! Sometimes the water comes up really high and you can’t walk too close to it, but other times I saw people trying to walk/swim as close to it as they could for the perfect picture.


Spend the Day at Potato Head

This is the activity I did for my 30th birthday back in 2016. I literally spent the ENTIRE day here. What you do is show up at 9am and pick the cabana you want on their map. Once you do that you are given a little wooden ticket and have to come back at 10am when they open to enter your cabana. There are also choices for lounging chairs by the pool etc. I opted for the cabana because obviously I wanted to go all out for my birthday.

The minimum spend on the cabana was $1,000,000 Rupiah which converted to $100.00 Canadian. So to have the cabana for the whole day, I had to eat/drink $100 worth alone? Very easy. Very very easy. Embarrassingly easy. The cabana is awesome and you should definitely splurge on it. You have your own shade, towels, pillows and there’s a man with an AK-47 next to it guarding your stuff while you go swim. So quaint.

I really had an awesome time spending the whole day at Potato Head because you get to meet so many people from everywhere in the world that are looking to party, as well as getting enough relaxation by the pool and beach while profusely drunk and full of delicious food. Make sure if you can’t go early to get the cabana, that you still make it later in the day to at least get a drink and watch the sunset. Awesome day spent.


Visit the Rice Fields in Ubud

I truly hope the day YOU do this it isn’t 42 degrees outside like it was for me. The rice fields in Ubud are a must-do when in Bali because your eyes will thank you and you could potentially work off some of the food and liquor you’ve ingested while doing this activity.

The cost of a driver for an entire day in Bali is usually between $35-$40 and you should have the person get you to these rice fields at some point during this day. Make sure you wear some very comfortable running shoes that you don’t mind getting dirty because if you intend on going up and down on these hills, the mud and lack of traction are a bitch. The day I was visiting the rice fields was blistering hot outside so also make sure to wear a hat and a lot of sunscreen since there is no where to shelter yourself from the sun.

If Ubud is too much out of your way (depending on where you choose to stay in Bali) this website has an awesome list of other places in Bali to see the rice fields!


Spa. Spa. Spa.

My biggest regret from being in Bali was not going to the spa EVERY SINGLE DAY. The cost of going to a spa in Toronto for one hour won’t be under $100.00 at the very minimum. But in Bali? I spent almost 2 1/2 hours there for $35.00. THIRTY FIVE DOLLARS. I got a 45 minute neck/scalp massage, a 30 minute facial and a 60 minute full body massage. The spa I went to was in central Kuta and the name of it was Smart Day Spa. Recently, two of my fellow travelers took my advice and went there while in Bali also and enjoyed it just as much as I did. Not only is the service cheap, the spa is really calming and nice to be in. Don’t expect that you’re walking into some musty place with sketchy people! Make sure you hit the spa in Bali.


Take a Day Trip to Neighbouring Nusa Lembongan

One of the things people won’t tell you about Bali is that their waters are no frigging joke. To swim there you’d better be a hell of a swimmer or really into surfing. I consider myself a pretty good swimmer and even with that, when the undercurrent on the Balinese beaches hits you?? Yep, suddenly you’re 20 meters out into the sea. It happens so quickly and for someone who is more accustomed to the tranquil waters of the Caribbean, there is no wading in the water to chill. You better swim for your life! (kidding, little over exaggerated)

This is where I would really recommend a day trip to Nusa Lembongan. It is a really small island but the beaches are very clean and tranquil. You can take a walk around town where they sell beautiful shawls made on the island by hand or you can just hang out at the beach. This island was definitely the more chill version of Bali, it was like Tulum where all you saw was hipsters and surfer dudes/ladies wandering around. When I went to Lembongan there was an excursion that had a party in the middle of the water and a canoe that would bring you over to the island as well and I think it maybe cost $125.00 for all of it.


Get a Day-Pass Somewhere Private: The Hilton

I love day passes to places. It’s like you get the experience of that location, without having to pay the full price of staying there as a guest overnight. This is how I made my way to The Hilton Bali.

There are probably dozens of high-end hotels/resorts you can get day passes to in Bali but I happened to stumble onto The Hilton because the owner of the villa I was staying in told me he used to work there and that it was worth the $20.00 charge. Sure. Twenty bucks will do.

This ended up being a really good place to relax all day because majority of the people at the beach were 60+ year old foreigners without kids that just wanted to tan. You pay the fee for the day pass and get to use their pools, get your lounge chair on the beach and access to their change rooms with towels etc. I especially loved that even though I wasn’t a guest of the hotel, I could order food to my lounge chair on the beach and just pay with my debit card for it. (or cash)


Try the Coffee and Tea

I do not drink coffee nor do I drink tea. Figured I’d get that out of the way before beginning this section. The only time I drink tea is when I’m horribly sick and coffee? The smell of it alone makes me a little nauseated. HOWEVER, whether you like or do not like them - you have to try and make it to these coffee/tea plantations where the stuff is made super fresh.

Fun fact - the most expensive coffee in the world is actually Kopi Luwak Coffee which is big business in Bali. Basically, this animal called a civet (super cute, you get to see them on the plantations) eats coffee beans and then poops them out to become, yep, the world’s most expensive coffee. Now I know you’re wondering wtf is wrong with me, but trust me, you have to try it. I tasted EVERY tea and coffee on the menu you see in the picture below (yes, they have you try a sip of all of them) and it was the first time in my life there was a coffee I enjoyed the taste of. I even bought a whole bag of it, Coconut Coffee.


Splurge at Kisik or Rock Bar: Ayana Resort

If you are about spoiling yourself, this part is for you. The food in Bali is very cheap so there is really no need for you to go to this place, but naturally, I am extra AF so I had to do it.

I took myself out on a $200 date in Bali. Now, that is the equivalent to $2,000,000 in Rupiah. Most of my meals were under $8.00 until this point, just for comparison. Sometimes you have to spoil yourself and do fancy things right?

While researching my trip to Bali I had read about this place called the Ayana Resort. I believe the cheapest room there per night is $300.00, meanwhile MY hotel cost $300.00 for a whole week. Crazy right? But there were two awesome bars/restaurants on the grounds of this resort calling out to me to visit.

One is called Rock Bar and from my understanding it is seating for only hotel guests. I had my eyes on their other restaurant called Kisik. I made a reservation a month ahead for seating at this restaurant because they fill up very fast because of their incredible views, and incredible food.

I ate a seafood skewer, I drank and also bought a whole lobster to myself. In the picture below you will see they even had my name on the table because I told them it was my birthday week so I felt extra special. Fresh seafood and an awesome view at sunset, there truly was nothing more perfect. I did have a small heart attack when my bill came but it was also expected, kind of.

Make sure if you choose to go to Kisik to make a reservation for around sunset, get there early so you can wander around the Ayana resort and definitely walk over to Rock Bar to take pictures as soon as you finish your dinner. Splurge a little on yourself, you already made it all the way to Bali right?


Trust me, Bali has so many activities and incredible things to do that you will never ever be bored there. This list of mine didn’t even touch the surface of all the beautiful places you could go see in Bali that I didn’t even have time to make it to. (I.E: Broken Beach in Nusa Penida, Mount Batur, Mount Agung and of course the Uluwatu Temple) There’s just so many things you can fit into your itinerary while there because one of the best parts of being in Bali is - RELAXATION.

I hope those of you reading this make it to Bali one day and get to do some of the aforementioned activities. If you have been to Bali before and think there are other MUST DO activities or sights for Bali newbies to try, please make sure to leave it in the comments!

  • Mirna

Panama/Colombia Trip Recap

Usually, within a week of coming back from a vacation I would have the full recap up and finished. USUALLY I don’t get horribly sick after vacationing though.

The past two weeks have been absolute hell on my body (and my travel partner, Lorren). I’m one of those people who eats everything and anything in sight when I travel without any issues EVER with my tummy. I’d like to think of myself as someone with a rock hard stomach, on the inside, because mans are fluffy outside. When I went to do my Asia trip in 2016 I drank Dukoral weeks ahead to prepare and I even got my shot for cholera, which you can read all about here. Nothing gets to my stomach. Until something fucking got to my stomach.

I am literally 8lbs lighter now than I was when I left for my trip on October 5th. That was two weeks ago and I have been thin for no reason since last week. I will spare all of you the details but let me tell you, I’m not sure WHERE or WHY we picked up whatever stomach problem this was but I legitimately do not wish it on anyone. Three days laid up in bed not being able to eat is not exactly my idea of happiness after a vacation. Like you’re already sad you’re back to cold and work but your body completely malfunctioning as well? SUCKS.

But, let me move on to the awesomeness that was this trip. To look at the positive side of things, neither of us felt sick until the day we had to fly home. The vacation itself was super fun and exciting and I’m happy to share the goods with you lovely people.



FRIDAY, OCTOBER 5TH - FLYING/PANAMA

This seemed like such a late time to fly. 9:30am. I had to take the subway and UP Express with the regular working hours people. Who flies this late? I’m more accustomed to being at the airport from 5-6am and ready to be up in the air to somewhere by 7am. Lorren and I met up at the check-in for Copa Airlines to begin our journey to Cartagena, Colombia via Panama City, Panama. The great thing was we had checked in online already and only had our carry-ons to travel with so we avoided a super long line with everyone else. Score!

I’m not 100% sure on why we decided to go to Cartagena but I do recall being in the middle of a fete at Jamaica Carnival and looking at my Google Flights notification telling me that a flight to Cartagena from Oct 5 - Oct 8 had dropped 50% in price.

You read that right …. FIFTY PERCENT DROP. I messaged Lorren and asked if she’s good with that price, she said yes and boom we had roundtrip flight tickets to Colombia for $320.00 per person. That’s a damn good price.

Pearson airport was the same thing as always, boring. We both got some version of breakfast and then we were on our way to our layover in Panama City, Panama. The total layover time was seven hours, but with having to be at the airport two hours before a flight that total dropped to five hours of exploring Panama City. We had intended on seeing the Panama Canal, going to this Chorillo area where there was some delicious seafood and then just walking along the water and taking pictures at sunset. HA. We thought.

We checked our carryons at this luggage storage place in the arrivals area of the airport. (Cost $5.00 USD per bag) and then we found ourselves a taxi driver. His name was Ariel and I think he offered us ‘the weeds’ about six times during the drive. He was definitely our type of driver because he knew how to maneuver around all the traffic, which sometimes included driving on the shoulder and even through a park to get to the other side of a road. Sadly, even with his driving skills we were in for a big let down.

The traffic in Panama City is HELLA disrespectful. We did enjoy seeing how beautiful the city was and how far superior their condos looked to Toronto, but, ommmggg it was so slow getting through the city. We made it to the Panama Canal and paid the stupid $20.00 USD to enter.

So you enter, you go upstairs, there’s hoards of people looking at a canal, a big ship gets announced as incoming, people get amped and take selfies, the ship passes, it’s done. The end.

I do not care for the Panama Canal at all but it was kind of one of those ‘must see’ things if you’re going to go to Panama so we did it. It’s done. Check it off the list.

We wanted to go to the aforementioned Chorillo area after the canal but as we got deeper and deeper into traffic our Google Maps was giving us an unfavorable breakdown in time to the airport. This is where the day began to get a little weird.

There was definitely a language barrier between us and Ariel but we were able to tell him where we wanted to go for the day and how much we’d pay etc. It really wasn’t an issue - until it actually became an issue. As we were driving towards Chorillo myself and Lorren decided that it was best we just head directly back to the airport because we didn’t want to risk being late for our flight to Cartagena. Missing seafood was fine with us, missing a flight was definitely not.

This driver got SUPER weird at this point. We explained to him that we wanted to head for the airport because of the time restraints and dude wouldn’t take NO as an answer. He repeated and repeated and repeated ‘no no you must go to Chorillo’. Listen bro, we must not do SHIT. If we paying for the car for the day and we don’t want any extra detours and want to go back to the airport, that’s where the hell you’re going to take us.

Oh man, for the entirety of the drive back to the airport he literally repeated and bitched about us not going to Chorillo every 20 seconds. At one point he PULLED OVER to the side of some parking lot and said, ‘go take pictures!’ even though we explicitly told him 50 times to head directly back to the airport so we wouldn’t be late. Don’t get me wrong, taking pictures of Panama City during sunset was really beautiful. The city itself is gorgeous and I hope I come back another time to take it in some more. However, we had no idea what the hell dudes problem was. We were still on a time constraint. As we finally got into the airport area he was STILL repeating about the goddamn Chorillo place and I finally had enough and you could hear me saying over, ‘no we said airport. no we said airport. no we said airport.

We did finally make it to the airport and with plenty of time before our flight. Got some food and boarded the next Copa flight to Cartagena.

Upon arriving in Cartagena we got to deal with the pleasantries of the reciprocity fee only Canadians have to pay to enter Colombia which I wrote a blog post about here. Fortunately, a very nice man drove us from the airport to our hotel in the Bocagrande area of Cartagena.

At about 11:30pm - we finally got to bed. This weird day was done.


SATURDAY, OCTOBER 6TH - LUXURY IN CARTAGENA


Listen, after the day/night we had in Panama? Waking up in a five star hotel with the most incredible view was refreshing. Oh, it felt so good. I would go more into detail about the Hyatt Regency Cartagena, but you can click here and go peruse the blog post I made specifically about staying there.

For the Saturday we didn’t make many concrete plans. Lorren had booked herself in for some surfing at 10am and I had booked myself in for a spa session at 2pm. Because for some weird reason I can’t stay sleeping particularly late while on vacation, I was up early and both Lorren and I decided to go for breakfast.

We had searched Google for what was good around us and came across this breakfast spot named La Brioche. If you ever go to Cartagena, definitely make sure to eat here. The pancakes were so fluffy and the pineapple juice was delicious. Also, I appreciate any restaurant where the manager/owner comes by and talks to see if you’re bless.

After breakfast Lorren went onto her surfing shenanigans and I went right back to the hotel. You know what I did? I took a nap. Then I went to the spa to try and get Lorren a booking at the same time as mine, they weren’t open for another 30 minutes. OK. Took another nap. Went back down to the spa and was able to get Lorren a spa session appointment. Great success.

It was probably about noon and I had a tough decision to make - do I want to nap some more or will I go actually do stuff since I am on vacation? Disregarding my good judgement, I decided to go gallivant into Cartagena’s historical center …. in 34 degree heat. I walked so damn much, from Bocagrande and then to the historical center and then I drank some rum and then I walked all the way back to the hotel. The heat was INSANE. I will say the walk was well worth it. The center of Cartagena is incredible and very picturesque, and I sure do love taking a lot of pictures!

Once I returned to the hotel I had to take a shower because absolutely no one should have to rub down a profusely sweaty Eastern European woman during a spa session.

If you would like to know how the spa time went you can read about it here, I made a separate blog post for all you spa enthusiasts.

After Lorren and I both had our awesome spa dates completed, we hit the infinity pool at the hotel. Incredible view over Bocagrande, took some pictures and ordered some food. Nice and relaxing evening. That is the great thing about traveling with the women I choose to travel with, there’s an amazing bonding in quiet sometimes. You don’t even have to speak non-stop, you’re just happy to be somewhere together and taking it all in together. I love every minute of it.

Alright so it is a Saturday night, we are young, we are good looking and we are on vacation. Obviously, it is time to party!

Ha.

We got back to our room at 8pm, said we’d take a nap and woke up at 4am. That was the end of our Saturday. FAIL.


SUNDAY, OCTOBER 7TH - BEACH LIFE

One of the things that makes me happiest in this world is being on a beach. I love swimming, I love the sand, I love being in the water and I just love the way it makes me (and my skin) feel. Today was our beach day and we were going on an adventure to Playa Blanca.

We were picked up around 9am and drove for approximately one hour to get to the destination. I’m not a fan of long car rides but this beach was worth the time in a pinch up van.

When we arrived we were taken (with our group) to a quieter area of Playa Blanca. Apparently Sunday is the day most locals went to the beach as well so it was crammed everywhere. The beach was super busy. I was happy the guide took us to a quiet area where we have a little piece of heaven, and shade, to ourselves. It is unfortunate that all the things you read about Playa Blanca are true though, every 10-15 seconds someone will be asking you to buy a service from them or food or liquor. As someone who prefers my beaches completely silent, it made the beach experience a little less pleasant.

The beach itself was clean, the water was clear and the temperature of the water was perfect as well. If you do have time, I would definitely encourage everyone to take a day trip to Playa Blanca. Another great part of our trip for the day was getting a delicious fish lunch, which we both enjoyed while overlooking the clear waters.

Sigh, mans really tried to scam us though.

Listen, I have no issue with people hustling because sometimes you don’t really have any other option. Although I may be annoyed that someone talks to me every 10-15 seconds trying to sell me things, I get that they need to make money. That’s fine. However, I don’t like people trying to take me for an idiot.

There was a group of women by us offering massages. I asked the woman how much it would cost and she said it would be $20 for 30 minutes. Awesome, that, I can definitely get down with. Lorren had requested a 15-minute foot massage from another lady after discussing her rate as well. Perfect! Massages on a beach were feeling sooooo good. Suddenly, I hear the woman who had given Lorren her foot massage say something along the lines of, ‘that was one hour’. THE FUCK? How is it that Lorren asked for 15 minutes and I asked for 30 minutes, but hers was supposedly one hour? NAH NAH NAH.

Then the lady who was doing my back I asked her if my 30 minutes was up and suddenly she couldn’t speak English very well. We were lucky that there was a couple with us on the same tour that spoke Spanish fluently. The lady told them she had been working on me for 40 minutes at that point, so I asked her like why you going past 30 minutes when we had agreed on THIRTY MINUTES? To hell with that. I paid her for the 30 minutes we had agreed to and told her to go on her way. I don’t like that shit. Make your money, but tricking or trying to scam people isn’t the wave. That just pissed me off.

So note to any of you that plan on getting massages at Playa Blanca, set a damn timer or just don’t do it. If I had the option to go through this again, I would have just not gotten the damn massage. SMH.

I’m not sure how the day at the beach finished so quickly. I easily could have spent another 2-3 hours there just relaxing but the tour guide said it was time to head back to Cartagena. Imagine? The driver tried to fit FOURTEEN of us in that pinch up van and Lorren literally couldn’t sit down. So we complained and had two small children move to the front so the adults could sit down properly for the one hour ride. Last thing we needed after the scamming attempt was an uncomfortable ride back to town. Hell no.

So we got back to our hotel and got to shower and relax a little bit. We were NOT taking a nap tonight, we had to go out on our final night in Colombia. We got dressed up cute and caught a taxi into the historical center. We asked the taxi driver his favourite restaurant and he said it was ‘Alma’ - okay, so take us to Alma.

I’d like to say at this point, dear Mr. taxi man, if I ever see you again I’m gonna give you a massive tip for suggesting this place. YOU DESERVE THE WORLD SIR.

This dude has taste. This restaurant was beautiful, some real high end shit. The ambiance was lovely, the staff was attentive and there was even this beautiful pool in the middle of the establishment. The food too? OMG. To die for. From the lobster empanadas to the insane seafood chowder that Lorren ordered. Everything was delicious. Yes, this place was a little pricier than most of the food spots in Cartagena but, why not splurge a little? Was super worth it.

Then we just walked around the center and stopped at various bars to have a drink and people watch. By the time we got to the fourth bar it was some place called Tu Candela which we had read was a pretty decent nightclub. The spot wasn’t particularly big, but the vibes were GREAT. The DJ took requests and played some Vybz Kartel for me. We made friends with some guys from Florida that were there for a bachelor party too. Overall, a fun spot to party.

Naturally, I drank too damn much. Let me tell you something about Colombian pesos, that currency is confusing as shit. Now mix that with it being like 1am, you’re a bunch of rum and cokes in and you can’t count. Oh man. I’d never been so embarrassed in my life trying to count out 148,000 pesos to pay for our bar tab because they didn’t take cards. The bartender had to walk with me to the closest ATM so I could take more cash out. Horrible. Don’t drink and count foreign currency guys.

Lorren and I walked home to our hotel after the club. For as much as people worry about traveling to Colombia, neither of us felt unsafe at any time there. Super late at night, walking back to Bocagrande in our cute outfits and singing random soca songs - people just said good evening and kept it moving. No one harassed us and we just staggered our way on home. Fun night. Happy early birthday Lorren.


MONDAY, OCTOBER 8TH - HOME TIME

Waking up on Monday hungover wasn’t awesome. We went back to La Brioche to eat that amazing breakfast one more time and then we packed to head back home. The stay in Cartagena was over and we were leaving back to cold-ass-Toronto.

This was the moment where we suddenly didn’t feel well but we though it was because we drank so much the night before. Obviously, we were wrong about that.

Going through customs at Cartagena’s airport was super fast. I had read someone else’s blog post alluding to it taking forever to get through because you had to speak to a ‘minimum’ of twelve people by the time you got to your gate. False. Super false. I’m not sure if we were super lucky or what but it literally took all together MAYBE 10 minutes from entering the airport to getting through border security and to our gate. It really wasn’t nearly as bad as others had described it.

We flew back to Panama City with Copa and had some time to kill at their airport before our flight to Toronto. We ate Cinnabon and our stomachs just began feeling worse and worse.

Finally we got on the flight back to Toronto and by the time we landed we both realized our bodies hated us and we fucked up. Just how I wanted to end a vacation. Not.

Overall I would still say this was an awesome trip. I would like to go back to Panama City and enjoy it a bit more since the traffic and our strange taxi driver kind of ruined it for us. If I go back to Cartagena I’d really like to stay at the Hyatt again as well and would return to the EXACT same places to eat breakfast and dinner.

My apologies for this post being so lengthy, who knew so much could happen over one long weekend?

Thankful to have made it to country #31 and country #32 finally.

  • Mirna

Review of The Hyatt Regency, Cartagena

I’d say this is probably the second best hotel I have ever stayed at.

There aren’t too many opportunities for me to stay at high-end hotels since I pride myself on trying to find cheap deals, but sometimes you have to splurge right? We got our flight to Cartagena for so cheap that it made sense to spend a little more on our accommodations.

I knew I wanted to stay at this hotel as soon as I had seen the pictures of their incredible infinity pool overlooking Bocagrande. In fact, I’m pretty sure this hotel had five different pools and I was really pleased at the sexiest infinity pool having a NO CHILDREN policy. They had their own pool so the rest of us had peace and quiet to drink our liquor and take all the selfies for IG we wanted. Big win.

There isn’t too much depth and detail to go into with this review because unlike the other two ‘very nice’ hotels I have stayed at - we didn’t spend much time at the Hyatt. We had a lot of plans and activities to do so the hotel was truly only used for sleeping, swimming and the spa. (If you want to read about how the spa was, click here)

First of all, this hotel is massive. I can’t recall the exact number but I know we were on the 18th floor, the check-in desk was on the 12th, the spa on the 14th and there was floors going way up into the 30’s. This was the first time I walked into a hotel and the front desk wasn’t on the first floor, it was all the way on the 12th. Luckily the check-in process was very quick and painless as we had arrived at 11pm on a Friday night and just wanted to get to sleep as soon as possible.

The room was a good size and looked modern. Because I am lazy, I didn’t like the closets being all the way by the entrance to the room so naturally, the chairs and table by our beds ended up being where we stored our clothes. (don’t judge) The bathroom was cool because everything was motion-activated so if you went to the bathroom at 3am you didn’t even have to search for buttons, the lights would just turn on. Also, there was a lot of toiletries in the shower, the bath tub and by the sink. My travel mate said that the cream was very good and we made sure it accompanied us back to Canada as a result.

I should note, the best part of the room was the view! We were fortunate to get a room that overlooked the beach and we could also look below to see the infinity pool. This came in handy because we could time when to go to swimming due to the large groups of people wanting to occupy the area.

There are probably a million other things going on at this hotel that we maybe didn’t see or just didn’t have time to get to, but, I would definitely stay here again. For three nights we paid $280.00 Canadian per person and it was well worth it. The attentive staff, beautiful room, amazing infinity pool and location all combined into a very pleasant stay for a long weekend.

Happy travels!

  • Mirna

Review of Aqoral Spa, Cartagena

I’m really not a person who is big on spas. I don’t particularly like massages because they hurt and I’m here for a good time, not a painful time. However, there are two things I do absolutely love at a spa - head massages and body scrubs. Since I opted not to do any massages for this visit, the body scrub was my #1 choice.

Preparation to visit this spa started WAAAY ahead because I didn’t know how busy this place would be. Also, one of the main reasons I am writing this blog is because there’s literally NO information about this spa on the internet. Any reviews regarding it are just a part of peoples visits to the Hyatt Regency Cartagena so it’s mostly ‘good spa!’ or ‘my wife went and really liked it’ - that just isn’t good enough for me. I want to know more details about places so I figured I would write out my experience at Aqoral so that other people wouldn’t have to deep dive into Tripadvisor reviews that give you no information about it.

First let’s start with, no, there is no information about this spa. When you do go to the aforementioned website there is only this:

That is literally it for the information you have on the spa. If you click on the picture, it takes you right back to the front page of the Hyatt’s website. You get nowhere. What I did was message the hotel directly through the website I booked it on. From this, I received an e-mail with a PDF attached that showed all of the services available at the spa. (listed in COP currency, also note this was as of October 1st, 2018 - just in case anything changes.)

I opted to go for a (mid) smoothing scrub and 30min of the hydrotherapy and my travel partner chose the signature treatment called ‘Canarelief’. Hot tubs aren’t really my thing, but it was the pictures of the views from that damn hot tub that had me hooked on wanting to come here so badly.

Finally, on October 6th at 2pm I got my comfiest clothes on and made my way over to Aqoral Spa. Once you arrive you get to wait in this nice and relaxing lobby area and the staff will have you sign a waiver with your room # etc. on it.

Because I chose to have the hydrotherapy included, I was able to have this HUGE spa room to myself. It had its own shower, bathrobes, slippers, huge vanity, the massage table itself, the hot tub and even two chairs to lounge in one of the corners. Along with that, the incredible view overlooking Bocagrande and the pools below. Wow.

When you walk in the blinds are closed and it is nice and dark in the room, aside from a couple of candles. For the scrub I was given a disposable set of panties and a bra to put on. The scrub lasted thirty minutes and I truly could have laid there for a whole hour. I perhaps should have gone for the ‘deep’ option instead of the mid, I was worried I’d be sunburned by the time I got to the spa (I wasn’t) and the deep would have scrubbed it just a little deeper. Still great.

After the scrub I went and took a shower to get all the remnants of it off of me and during that time the lady doing my service prepared the hot tub and opened up the blinds so that I could have that kick-ass view.

For the first 20-minutes of the hydrotherapy I just took everything in. I was loving the view and my body felt so relaxed and nice in the hot tub after a long day of travel the day before and the scrub I had just gotten. For the final 10-minutes I set up my tripod and used my bluetooth shutter to take some fancy pants pictures. I did my best impression of a real travel blogger.

The total spent (with tip and taxes) was $140.00 Canadian. Although that isn’t as good as the prices in Bali for living luxuriously in a spa, I think it was still worth it. My friend also did enjoy her signature treatment, for anyone who wants to be rubbed down with cannabis oil.

Happy relaxing!

  • Mirna


Canadian Reciprocity Fee for Visiting Colombia

Updated: 3/12/19

Found on  Government of Canada Travel  website.

Found on Government of Canada Travel website.

The Colombian Government announced that as of May 01, 2019 they will remove the entry tax for Canadian Travellers.




If you don’t know about this, and you’re planning to visit Colombia, your wallet will be in for a LARGE goddamn shock. That was the case for quite a few people that were in line with us when we entered the airport in Cartagena this past long weekend.

The exact explanation for the reciprocity fee (as stated on the Colombian immigration page) is:

This is a reciprocity fee for Canadian citizens demanded by the Canadian Government which obeys the biometric data imposition to Colombian citizens that request visa. The PLATINUM ticket cost is to use the Single Platform Migration Information - PLATINUM used as a tool for the Immigration Control process. This payment DOES NOT guarantee the entry to Colombia and won’t be reimbursable.