Tuesday, June 10, 2014

ADD Adventures to {{ Girona, Catalunya, Spain }}

A couple weekends back, I went on a free-from-plans trip alone to Catalunya. I had decided a mere 12 hours before take-off that I'd go, and as I was packing the night before, decided to forgo everything, and go with only a change of clothes to sleep in, and my reading/journaling materials. It ended up being such an amazing weekend, and I now have a new Top 5 Favorite city in Spain!

My flight was to Barcelona, but since I'd already been several times, I decided to take advantage of the trip to see some other parts of Catalunya. I asked everyone I teach and work with for recommendations, and came up with a couple I decided to pursue. First one being:

G I R O N A <3

Just in the trip passing from the start of the town to the bus station, I knew I was deeply in love with Girona. The north of Spain and Catalunya have an incredibly different feel than the rest of Spain, and especially in Catalunya, it has a very French and other-world influence. Many people get to Catalunya, and don't even consider themselves in Spain anymore. Likewise, most Catalans don't consider themselves Spanish. It all contributes to this magical feeling of entering a new country, but your mobile phone still works without extra charges! I think that's part of why I always, always, always looove being in Barcelona, or now I know, anywhere in Catalunya. (And no, not because my mobile works w/o fees! Although for the "wanting to be a travel writer" purpose, it does help quite a bit. But not when you intentionally leave your charger behind so you have to keep your phone off most of the time. And, I digress. . . )

When the bus arrived at the station, which is very easy to get to from most places in the city, I decided to do what I always do when I get to a new place, have no plan, and no one else to consult or consider: wander aimlessly!

This is my single-most preferred way to travel and get to know a new place. I follow God and my inner guide, and always, always, always end up in amazing places. He always leads me down some random street, up some random staircase, away from the people, and into a perfectly wonderful, natural place. (Are you gathering that that's what happened to me upon arriving in Girona?) I arrived around lunch time, but didn't really want to go eat in a restaurant, so I decided to wander around, and then buy fruit at whatever fruit shop I stumbled upon first. I walked past some art exhibitions, found a fruit shop, and then decided to wander around and find a place to eat.

Girona is quite hilly and mountainous, and has some amazing views and sights to see. The river runs through the city, and they have a beautiful cathedral, castle/fortress and old city center. Having caught glimpses of all this, when I saw paths leading up, I decided to follow them. I came upon this narrow, empty path of stairs that seemed to lead up into the hills, and after some debate, decided to "just keep going to see what was around the next corner." I figured if I hit a dead end or came upon something displeasing, I could just go back down. Of course by now I was sweating and breathing pretty heavily, but something inside me kept calling me to continue and not turn back. And oh my gosh, I am so glad I kept on going up, up, up!

I ended up on top of a hill, looking down at all of Girona, with the landscape of the mountains it sits within behind it, green grass and beautiful, bright flowers all around me, a deteriorated tower behind me, and a view of a small town on top of a hill off to the other side. It was a greyish kind of day, so it gave the somewhat gothic city a theatrical look, but with all the green forests and fields around it, it could be anything but depressing. It was exactly the kind of place I wanted to start my trip and time, and the perfect setting to have a light, healthy lunch. 

God is G O O D !

I stayed up on that hill for a long time. Listening to nature, talking to God, enjoying my fruit, dangling my feet over the wall I'd decided to turn into my lunch bench. Looking around, breathing the open air, sending love into the city, and giving thanks for the perfection of what had come to be reality. The whole time I was there, I only saw two other humans. One guy down below letting his dog run around, and one gal who came and sat at a bench near me to smoke a joint and let her puppy run around. It was complete solitude, and completely wonderful. I wanted to stay up there forever, but inside I felt ready to get down and wander the streets of Girona that seemed to be calling me. And thankfully I listened, because after a short hike down, just as I was re-entering the old center, it started to rain. :)

Luckily I always travel with my Spirit Hood and had decided against wearing sandals for the trip, so I put on my hood, and kept on going. An older man stopped to ask if I was going into the center, because he was going by car, and could give me a lift. I respectfully declined, saying I wanted to continue my route and the rain didn't bother me. It became a bit strange, when instead of continuing his path to his car, he somewhat followed me along mine. I stumbled upon an old fortress, and noticed he kept being exactly where I was going to end up wandering. I evaded him a bit by hanging back in certain parts, and then we ran into each other. I asked him what I was exploring, and he told me it was one of the two old forts Girona used to have. The other isn't around anymore, but I wasn't sad, because this one was MAGIC! So many little coves of trees growing and plants. So many paths to wander, towers to climb, and walls to walk along.

At one point a man sitting on a bench asked if he could "make me company," another offer I had to decline. I kept to parts where there were people to avoid any unwelcome advances, but other than that, the experience was perfectly fine. And because Girona stretches quite far, but is also very small, I ended up right by the Cathedral Sant Feliu. I decided that, since it was raining, touring it would be a nice idea. I used my student card and only paid 5 euros, I think the regular price was about 7-9. 

Coming from Sevilla, where we have one of the most impressive cathedrals in the world, I can't say that the Catedral Sant Feliu was sooo impressive, but if you're there, it's pretty nice. And the guided tour is free, so you can actually learn about the stuff inside, versus just passing by thinking, "I can't believe how much money the Catholic church has in _______, ______, and ______'s!" Another bonus is that just down all the stairs, in the plaza at the bottom of the cathedral, is a free museum you can visit.

I kept wandering through Girona, and kept falling further in love. The river runs through the town, and it's lined with windows that give you a peek into a life, a cafe, a shop, or a restaurant that sits on its bank. And the greenery, my gosh, it's so green up north! All the rainfall contributes to this astounding color scheme and overflow of nature. And even though it was raining most of the day I was there, people were still walking around, and there were no signs of depression, especially since its artistic feel seeps through and can be seen all over the place.

I roamed around in my loving daze, seeing the streets, the sights, eating a crepe that was so full of Nutella I'm not sure the woman has anymore to this day, and then, after a coffee and some writing time, decided to find a place to stay for the night. Only two of the 10,000 requests I sent on Couchsurfing.org were responded to, and neither was in Girona. So I decided to stay in a hostel for the night. 

I ended up staying at Room In Girona on Calle Santa Clara, and it was a really good place. I dropped my stuff off in the room, changed into some dry socks, and then went back out to wander a bit more and have dinner. I took a long lap around the city, and was able to find the Indian restaurant I'd seen earlier. You can read about both Room In Girona, Taj, and other tricks & tips for traveling these parts right here

It was interesting that, on the walk back to the room to go to bed, I was a little sad. I was wishing that I had a friend or someone that I could go out with, and even more when I passed by an event going on in a main square -- five tapas for five euros, as well as five glasses of wine for five euros. I wanted to drink wine (not exactly five glasses) and try delicious pintxos (tapas in the north), hanging out, conversing, and enjoying the fact the rain had passed and the night was young. But instead, I went to my room, and slept/was in bed for nearly 12 hours. 

I realized then, that while I love passing the day alone with God, I love to bring it all together at night with friends. I love to recharge during the day, flow around, spend time with God, and let Him fill me with love and light, and then pass it all off to good people at night. I'm not a big party girl anymore, but I'm still quite social, and love to spend time with good people. It was interesting to feel the difference of pure content in being alone all day, and then feel a little sad at night that I was alone. But, that's life, and it's a new lesson observed, felt, and learned!

The next morning I was planning to take the train to Figueras to go to the Dali Museum, so I woke up, ate from the included, extensive breakfast at Room In Girona, and then headed onto my next adventure. (With no remaining melancholy for my solitary state felt from the night before!:) I accidentally missed the train I could have just made when I thought it was leaving in an hour and from a different platform. And by the time I realized what I'd done, I'd missed the train by half hour (about how long I'd been there), and would have to wait another hour and fifteen minutes for the next. I was a little disappointed, but decided to take advantage of the time and sunshine to walk to the large park in Girona.

From above, it looked like there was a little forest in the middle of the city. But after talking to the front desk at Room In Girona, I learned that it's actually a big park. So I immediately was bummed that it'd been raining all day and I hadn't made it to the park. This missed train chance was the perfect opportunity for me to go to something I'd rather visit than a museum or church: nature. 

The park is really large and long, and the entire thing of it is tall, beautiful trees. I was walking through it, when I came upon this intensely massive market. They had everything from meat to sweets, fruit and veggies to clothes, and so many other things I didn't even see. I asked an insanely nice police officer about it, and he told me it takes place every Saturday and Tuesday. If you're there, go to it, it's great!

It was the perfect, perfect way for me to finish my ideal time in Girona. Huge market, some bananas for breakfast, friendly conversation with strangers, and lots of fresh air to breath before entering the train! 

Girona overall was a dream. I fell in love instantly, and left wanting more, more, more. I am definitely planning on going back, and will absolutely be sure to stay for at least a full weekend! If you're looking for something to do in Spain, get yourself to Girona, and explore the lush, green, gorgeous forests of the north! It's well worth the time and minimal effort! 

Blessings, Love, Travels & Light to all! 

Room In Girona in Girona, Catalunya, Spain

I almost always prefer to couchsurf while I'm traveling, but I think that my trip to Catalunya a couple weekends back was supposed to be a fairly solitary one. Only two of the couch requests I sent got a response, and both people were out of the city that weekend. I went without making arrangements for a hostel, knowing I could find something. I checked hostelworld.com beforehand, and saw there were plenty of spots, so I decided to wait till I was ready to check in. 

Before I went, I looked online to find out where they were, and decided to go to the cheapest, nearest one. It happened to be Room In Girona, which is pretty much right on the river. I'm almost certain that if my room had a window or balcony facing the river, I'd have been able to see it. When I got there about 19h, the guy said that there were no more beds available in the shared dorms, and they only had private rooms. I asked how much the private room was, and he told me 42 euros. So I said, ok, no thank you, I can find a room somewhere else. It was then that he decided to cut me a deal, and told me that what they could do was charge me half price for the room, since it was late, and no one else would be coming for it anyways. (I think that maybe there were spots in the shared dorms, but he was trying to make a higher sale.) So, in the end, I paid the price of a 6-bed shared dorm, but had a queen-sized bed and large room all to myself. :) Thanks, God!

The place was more like a house/apartments than a hostel. The bathroom was for everyone, but it was so big, clean and nice, I felt like I was in a home more than a place I was renting for the night!

There was also a kitchen, common room, and laundry room, and breakfast was included. The breakfast included cheese, slices of meat, Spanish omelette, fruit, yogurt, cereal, coffee, tea, and a variety of carbs. All of this, in combination with an incredibly nice and helpful staff, definitely left me with a good impression, and ability to recommend the place to anyone who wants a reasonably priced place that's well located. It was no more than 10 minutes to walk to the train/bus station from there, and since it's right on the river, you have easy access to all the city. 

Room In Girona, thank you for a great stay!

Barri Vell (Vell neighborhood)
C/ Santa Clara, 9
3rd Floor
972 426 480 / 678 177 916

Tips & Tricks for Travelling Girona & Figueras, Catalunya, Spain


  1. To get from Barcelona El Prat Airport to Girona, you can take a bus directly. It runs pretty frequently, but it costs 19 euros, whereas the train costs 11 something. The train leaves from Sants station in the city, so you'd have to take the metro/train to the station, which is about 4 euros. Both take about the same amount of time, depending which one it is, so while it's an expensive bus, it's convenient. The bus is Barcelona Bus, and the hours can be found at the stop or online.
  2. Go up to the tower that is on top of a hill, away from the city. The view from up there is so amazing, and you aren't going to run into hardly any people. 
  3. Also, if you like hiking, there are tons of trails in Girona, and I accidentally did one, but was so happy I did. The views are so beautiful. 
  4. Walk around everywhere you can, and explore everything. Girona is a really wonderful place, the people are so open, friendly, and helpful, and it's small enough that you can spend an afternoon walking around and stumble upon everything.
  5. Every Saturday and Tuesday there is a MASSIVE market at the end of the park in Girona. They have everything from fruit and vegetables, to meat and sweets, to balloons, clothes, and everything in between. It is one of the larger markets I've ever seen, and the park is definitely worth passing through. It's like a little forest in the middle of the city.
  6. Eat at Taj Indian Restaurant if you like Indian food. I ordered the Pollo Tikka Bhuna and rice, and it was so delicious. The only thing is, it was quite expensive (15.68 w/ a coffee), and the serving of the chicken itself was quite small. 
  7. Stay in Girona for at least two nights. It's a magical place, and just being there for a day and a half wasn't enough.
Figueras/Dali Museum

  1. Going from Girona to Figueras, the train leaves frequently, costs 5.45 euros, and only takes about an hour. I'd recommend the train, because you get a lot better views, and it's usually more comfortable than the bus.
  2. You can walk within 5-15 minutes to the Dali Museum, depending on your pace. The museum costs about 9 euros to enter (discounts available), and is quite large, so allow a lot of time, and eat a good meal before you enter. I spent 2-3 hours in it and loved it so much, but by the last few rooms, I was too hungry and tired to pay the same attention I had in the first 20-or-so rooms of the theater/museum.
  3. A lot of people told me beforehand that Figueras isn't a pretty town, and coming from Girona, I agree, but I think it would have been worth it to go for more than just the museum. 
  4. Ask at the tourist info point for a map, and you can find out all the information about the places to go and things to see. But you can easily do Figueras in a day, so I'd definitely do it as a day trip from somewhere else. I'm happy I didn't go with my original idea to sleep in Figueras, and chose to stay in Girona instead.
  5. Going from Figueras to Barcelona, I took the train. It was 12 euros, and took about two hours. It was a good way to go, and would recommend it. (Train from Girona to BCN is 5 something)

Taj Indian Restaurant
C/ Cort Reial, 6 / Rambla Llibertat, 19
17004 Girona. Tel: 972 22 26 55

Monday, June 9, 2014

5-Year Plan

I still remember growing up and being told that most of the most successful people (by western society's standards) make long-term plans for their lives. They have a one-year plan, a five-year plan, and usually, a ten-year plan, too. I never was too keen on this idea of making long-term plans for my life, because I've never really known what I wanted to do, and felt like I could barely make plans for the weekend, so I had no business making plans for where and who I'd be in 10 years.

It was especially fantastic when, as the time to graduate college closed in, people would ask me about what I wanted to do after, and I would generally respond with an, "I don't know, I just really want to travel." This often led to, which in their minds must have been an insightful way to try and resolve my unknowing, "Well, where do you see yourself in five years? In ten years?" This question, of course, led to another, "I'm not sure," usually thrown in with a bit of a, "I don't even know what I want to do next week, or where I'll be then, so how can I know about anything in 10 years!?" Sometimes I would try to appease them by saying that I thought I could see myself with a family, hopefully living in a place I intended to stay in for at least 5-10 years, maybe with a couple kids, and a job that I'd been working in for at least five years or so. It all sounded okay in theory, but never felt right in my heart. And not much has changed about that, except that I now know I would love to have found my lifemate within the next 5-10 years, and within 10 years, I'd love to have a kid or two.

But one thing has changed, and I am here to proudly say that I have realized what my five-year plan is! It's a bit unconventional, but then again, so is the life I've decided to live and the person that I am! And so without further adieu, my plan for the next five years of my life is as follows:

All around/over the world. 
Travel through Asia, through South America, and up Central America. 
Africa, Europe, Australia, and Antarctica. 
Leave no continent untouched, and no country left behind!

In the moment. 
For the now.
In at least four countries.
On at least three continents.
Life to the fullest, and more importantly,

The world.
Cultures, foods, languages, and places.
Myself, others, and how we work together.
Everywhere I possibly can, and everyone's minds I meet. 
The oceans, the seas, the mountains, forests and rivers.
THE EARTH and all the options out there!

My way through the world.
The typical foods of the places I'm in.
Things that scare me, 
and the most delicious looking things in the world.
Without regretting it and considering form!

At least five languages.
How other people do things, and how/what they think.
About cultures and countries.
About myself.
To make music and art.
To talk to God all day, everyday.
For as long as I'm alive!

Gratitude and generosity.
Unconditional love.
Speaking blessings into the souls of others.
Yoga, meditation, prayer & religion.
Conscious living.

Mentally and physically.
Into the person God wants me to be.
With others, and by myself.
My own food to eat and share.
Beneficial thoughts in my mind.

My mind.
My limits.
My knowledge.
My reach.
My consciousness!

Good time with good people.
My life helping others.
Time learning and growing.
Time by myself.
My days making a positive difference.
My energy wisely.
My thoughts on good.
My life doing all the things I've put in my five-year plan, not just for the next five years, 
but all the years I call this body home!

- - - - - - -

Some ideas I intend to turn into realities within the next five years:
  • "One-year" (open-ended) backpacking trip through Asia, Australia, New Zealand, South America, and Central America
  • Live in Hawaii and volunteer on organic farms
  • A year living/working through Africa
  • Learn Italian, French, Portuguese (in Brazil), German, and perhaps Japanese (Japanese is a life goal)
  • Become a Reiki master 
  • Get certified in Kundalini Yoga
  • Minimize my global footprint and always make conscious purchases (support local and/or sustainable products)
  • Have wandered 75% of the world
  • Live and travel without money
  • Learn how to play an instrument, preferably the banjo and bass guitar

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Trying A New Type of Travel

I'm not sure why, maybe because I only decided I was going to take the flight about 12 hours before departure, but when I thought about what to pack for my weekend trip to Catalunya (Spain) last weekend, I kept going back to this thought of, "Just take your every day backpack, no change of clothes, and go." So as I was taking down my rollie backpack from the closet, which is by no means a large backpack, and laying out the clothes I would pack, it was no surprise that my conscience kept putting more resistance in my heart and chest with each item I picked up to pack. And then it hit me: 

Why on Earth are you even thinking of taking anything!?! You're going to be in a different city each day, wandering around the whole time, why take anything? 
You don't need ANYTHING
Just go! 

So in a great feat of relief, I abandoned all, left it on the couch as an act of defiance, and decided on what one outfit I would wear for the whole weekend! I ended up going away for three and a half days and three nights, with my small leather backpack that I use every day, and packed in it the following (amount of stuff can be seen above in the selfie-mirror pic):
  • One extra tank top
  • Leggings and a t-shirt to sleep in/use as an alternate/"going out" outfit (the leggings are psychedelic and kinda sexy)
  • Three pairs of socks
  • Toothbrush/toothpaste/mascara/face wash packet
  • 1 pair of underwear
  • Swimsuit bottoms
  • Poi balls
  • Kindle
  • A book
  • Journal/pen
  • Camera
  • Passport/money/ID
I didn't take my phone charger, knowing that would mean I would have to leave it off most of the time if I were to have any battery to contact my friend in Barcelona, who I'd be meeting up with on Sunday (which turned into Saturday). My phone actually died right as I was walking down the street to get to her place, and right after I was able to show the street names to someone so they could point me in the right direction. It served me long enough to Instagram a couple photos in Girona, look for a hostel/figure out how to get to it, Whatsapp my family and some friends a couple times, and know how to get to my friends place. I happily survived from Saturday afternoon until Monday mid-morning without it. 

I wore jeans, a tank top, a scarf/wrap, a light jacket, and ankle boots, and tied my denim long-sleeve button-up around my waist, and had my Spirit Hood around my neck. The outfit that I ended up wearing on both Friday and Saturday, and pieces that were incorporated every day/night I was gone. The extra tank top I took with me, I only wore during a nap I took on Sunday, paired with my swimsuit bottoms, that I wore as underwear that day as well. I borrowed a dress and sandals from my friend on Sunday, and wore them while I biked around town, but then wore my pajama bottoms (the leggings) and the tank I'd been wearing the last two days, when we went out dancing that night. My pajamas then served as my travel outfit on Monday morning, mostly because the flight left at 6:15am, and I couldn't be bothered to wear jeans at that time/to travel. Granted, when I got home, all my clothes were dirty, but I personally love coming home from someplace when unpacking only requires that I throw everything in the laundry basket. 

Normally, I don't like to wear jeans when I travel, because all of mine are quite tight, and it's not that comfortable for travel. Leggings or maxi dresses/skirts are my preferred travel clothes. But for going to Barcelona, the flight is an hour, and I knew all my other travel time (on buses and trains) would be under two hours, so it wasn't a big deal. 

This was the first time I'd ever actually brought into reality my knowing that to travel, you don't need to take a lot with you. I usually take enough clothes to change each day, and what always weighs me down are converters, books, and journals. This time, I decided I didn't want to go with a phone, and I just wanted to have complete freedom. Since I went without a real plan (no travel or sleeping arrangements booked/payed for, or knowledge of when/how/where I'd go), I didn't want to have anything holding me back. It was a weekend to just go into the world of Catalunya, with God, and without an excess of material items. 

And it. was. GOOOOOD!!

I felt so liberated to know that when I woke up in the morning I could only put on one thing, in turn wasting zero energy or time on "what do I put on today?", and knowing that I was alone and had no where I had to be at a certain time, left me with such an incredible sense of freedom. I wasn't in a rush for anything or anyone, and I was just floating around the streets, knowing I could go where I pleased, because I didn't have anything to lug around. It was a taste of the minimalist lifestyle that has left me hungry for more. (Somewhat ironically, I suppose, since it's a style of living with less.;) And where I usually am carrying around extra weight in fruit and snacks "just in case" (I'm always hungry/snacking), I didn't want to add anything to my pack, and decided to just fully trust that when I got hungry or needed anything, God would provide. And that's exactly how it went. (Except for the dark chocolate almond bar I always had with me. Whoops.)

When I decided I was hungry or wanted a snack, I'd say, "I want a banana. I want to find a fruteria (fruit shop)," and just like that, within minutes I would come upon one! When I decided I didn't want to eat in a restaurant, but instead just take my fruit lunch somewhere nice and enjoy it, God led me up and up some mysterious stairs, until I found myself on top of a hill, alone, with an amazing view of all Girona! And when I decided, okay, I'm going to find a place to sleep now, He said, "Ok, sounds good. And by the way, you're going to get a private room for the price of a shared dorm, because I want you to continue in solitude. It's what you and I need." (Read more about this here.)

View from where  I ended up having lunch

Literally every step of the way I was cared for. It was the most incredible thing to just follow my inner guide and let It show me the world I was meant to see and feel. To live fully in the moment, and not worry or plan for the next, was remarkable. It was necessary. It was perfect. It was a glimpse at how we are meant to live.

And now as I sit and write this, I have a perfect view of my closet, and I see an abundance of clothes and shoes, and while I am full of gratitude at my ability to have these things, I know none of it matters, none of it's necessary, none of it can take care of me the way living in the now and going with God can. And that's powerful, powerful knowledge to have and hold.

I highly suggest going on a last-minute, unplanned and unpacked trip. Just get in the car, on a bus, train, or plane, and take nothing more than a journal and some extra socks with you. Go with God, and live for the moment that is. The meditative freedom that it brings into the soul is so magical. It transformed me, and I'm still gathering the benefits of it all! I have become a born again traveler, and am now going to go with as little as possible always. Less is more, that's for sure!

I hope that the calm, present feeling that I have can be felt by any and all, and that you have an amazingly blessed and beautiful week! 

Blessings, Love, Light & Peace