Category Archives: Americas

A weekend away in a luxury villa in Florida. With bowling alley.

An amazing friend of mine organised a long weekend away in an awesome property that she booked on Airbnb.  It came complete with a pool, jacuzzi, arcade room, home theatre, bowling alley, spa, gym, and squash court.

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The only agenda was that there was no agenda.  A large group of us (around 15) would just be chilling out there and spending time at the villa as we pleased.  I arrived at Orlando MCO airport on a Friday and met up with a friend who arrived around the same time.  We hopped in an Uber that took about 40 minutes to get to the property in Four Corners and cost about $50.

The house was absolutely stunning.  It was in immaculate condition and just so luxurious…

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So basically, we just ate well, drank lots, and had a great time together.  We spent a lot of time at the pool, lovely evenings in the hot tub, fun nights bowling together and we all managed to watch a movie in the theatre.  The house was big enough for it to never feel cramped, and there were enough things to do for all of us to be entertained.

There was something really wonderful about being able to relax and recharge somewhere beautiful with amazing people.  It was really good for the soul.  I loved the jacuzzi in my bathroom and pretty much made use of every amenity at some point.  Very grateful for the opportunity to share such a great experience with my friends.

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If you want to check out the Airbnb listing itself, you can find it here:

https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/12783742

 

 

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Filed under Americas, Florida, Travel

Dallas Museum of Art

Free art museum in Dallas Texas

While perusing my Texas guide book, I came across the Dallas Museum of Art. It’s located close to St Paul station on the DART train and the added bonus is it’s free to enter.

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I didn’t really know what to expect and I was pleasantly surprised. There are quite a lot of rooms, some are very small exhibitions and others are significantly larger. I was impressed by the array of art – from paintings to jewellery and bowls to books. I was also impressed by how global the art was. I saw the works of some very well known artists including Monet, Van Gogh and Frida Kahlo.

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This was a really nice couple of hours of looking around at various and eclectic art. I’d recommend it to anyone looking for something chilled out to do in Dallas centre.

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Filed under Americas, Art, Other, Texas, Travel

Six Flags adventure park, Texas

I love rollercoasters so I was completely up for visiting Six Flags over Texas in Arlington. We bought tickets online on the same day to avoid queuing up. The car park seemed pretty full when we were trying to find a spot, but luckily there were hardly any lines for the rides when we got in.

The rides were pretty awesome. I really enjoyed the Batman ride, Cat woman whip and the Superman ride. Even the ‘kiddy’ rides were pretty cool! Spinsanity was also great – except we got stuck for 10 minutes on the way down. Luckily we weren’t upside down so it wasn’t too bad!

It was a hot day, but there is plenty of shade and water fountains around. We bought a refillable drink which was handy to stay hydrated throughout the day. And the Aqua man water ride helped to keep us cool!

We were surprised when all the rides seem to stop at around 6pm… turned out there was a thunder storm looming and I guess lightning and high metal rides are not a good combination. It did start raining and there was plenty of lightning and thunder, at which point nearly everyone started to make their way towards the exits. I’m glad we managed to fit in loads of good rides before nature forced us to leave. I’d go back 🙂

You can check out Six Flags over Texas by clicking here.

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Filed under Other, Texas, Travel

The mind-growing effect of living abroad

I’ve lived abroad a few times in my life.  The first time was when I was 21 years old and worked in New York for a year as an intern.  The second time, I went to live in Agadir, Morocco, for three months.  And the most recent time was in Costa Rica for six months.

The locations and experiences were very different, but there was one thing they all had in common.  The level of personal growth I experienced was phenomenal.  I changed and grew in so many ways that I never would have experienced if I stayed settled and working in the UK.  I’m grateful for all of these experiences that in some way shaped the person I am today.

Having lived in London already, the transition to New York was quite easy.  Especially because everyone spoke English.  Looking back, I realise the largest part of why this experience was so much fun was having a large group of intern friends who were just as curious and eager to explore and enjoy NY as I was.  Having friends to share adventures with is a wonderful thing.  I loved the buzz of life, and knowing my time was limited meant I made the effort to do as much as I could as quickly as possible.  Having to start a new life in another country somehow made me very assertive.  I wasn’t so worried about what others thought of me as before.

Morocco was a completely different experience.  It felt very ‘foreign’.  I didn’t understand any Arabic and I was forced to make use of my school French and develop my language skills.  I enjoyed the hustle and bustle of a less modern world, like buying all of your fresh fruit and veg from a market stall, and appreciated how everyone took the time to relax.  Agadir is based by the beach, a beautiful place, and it’s where I learned the importance of enjoying life, remembering to take things slowly once in a while and enjoy the beautiful views.

Costa Rica is a very beautiful country, and the experience of living there was nothing like what I expected.  Funnily enough, it’s where I learned to enjoy relaxing at the beach properly with friends.  I used to find sitting at the beach quite boring before, but I finally understood the joy of spending hours in and near the sea.  I loved living in Quepos, a little village near Manuel Antonio on the coast, for six weeks.  I adored being surrounded by tropical forests, humming birds and I even had a tear in my eye when I saw a flock of wild scarlet macaws near my home.  It makes me feel so awful when I think of how these beautiful red parrots are only seen in cages around the world.  Being immersed in nature was an amazing experience, as were the horrific thunderstorms I witnessed (from the balcony) in rainy season.  Truly magnificent!

Moving to San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica, made me appreciate all the things I’d taken for granted about living in London.  I kind of assumed that all capitals across the world were similar to London – international, full of work opportunities and great restaurants!  It turns out that’s not the case.  I found the language barrier to be a barrier in getting to know the locals, another reason to improve my Spanish skills.  I also enjoyed the opportunity to visit rainforests, waterfalls, beaches and volcanoes around Costa Rica.  One of the highlights was visiting Tortuguero and going kayaking for the first time… by myself… with a random dog that insisted on joining me!  It was amazing and I loved ‘adventure dog’, he was awesome.

I learned a lot from my time living abroad.  Living somewhere is completely different to just visiting a place for a weekend or a week.  You get a different feel for the place and understanding of the culture.  I learned that people are kind and helpful, but most of all, I learned that I can rely on myself.  That gave me a lot of confidence in myself – knowing that in a foreign situation you can and will always find a solution for what you need.

I also learned and realised that sometimes you can’t control everything.  Things happen in life, and you just have to go with the flow.  I learned to let go of a lot of my life expectations, and sometimes the distance from ‘home’ also helped me to accept and let go of the past.  Making the effort to step away from your everyday life helps you to see life from a different perspective.  Somehow, travelling and living abroad really helped me to grow spiritually and accept everyone and everything more than before.

Going to new places makes your senses come to life as you have to pay attention to everything around you.  It’s a great opportunity to meet new people and experience different ways of living.

I’m grateful that I’ve had these opportunities to experience personal growth, and I’m aware that this kind of growth would have been very limited if I hadn’t travelled and lived abroad.

I realise that living abroad is usually a huge step, but I highly recommend it to anyone who is considering it.  Most people actively manage their career growth, but I think personal growth is just as important in life, if not more.

 

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Filed under Costa Rica, Morocco, New York, Travel, Wildlife

The Landmark Forum – NY

I decided to attend the three day Landmark Forum course (three and a bit days technically) while I was visiting New York.

Reviews have compared it to a ‘cult’, but I think anyone who has been through it will know that it’s not. It’s just the result of people having major life realisations over a period of just a few days – which makes it pretty exciting stuff so they keep going on about it!!  I think the best description, having completed it, is a course in ‘life skills’.

I didn’t really know what to expect, and the decision to actually sign up was in the spur of the moment.

The whole course takes place in a large room with screens and whiteboards at the front and a speaker who leads throughout. The hours on Friday, Saturday and Sunday are long: 9am – 10pm with a total of approximately 2.5 hours break per day.  On Tuesday evening we only needed to attend for a few hours.

I felt exhausted by the end of day 1, but strangely energised at the end of days 2 and 3. We learned SO much, more than I had ever expected.  I learned about my own negative patterns with certain people, and as I thought about it longer I was able to spot more patterns with other people, issues that I hadn’t even been aware of. The course encourages you to accept responsibility for your part in negative situations or relationships, and make amends where possible.  It also helps you to put the past in the past for all aspects in life and leave you free to move forward.  It was wonderful to see people on the stage sharing their ‘breakthroughs’. One person called a parent they hadn’t spoken to in 15 years. Other people finally made their peace with horrible experiences from their childhood or adulthood. Relationships on the brink of breakdown were brought back together.  (Sharing is completely optional, and apparently very therapeutic)

I learned a lot and I’m sure it will be having a positive impact on my life and how I deal with people and situations in future.  I’m glad I went and it was a great lesson in self improvement that I won’t be forgetting any time soon!

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Filed under New York, Travel

A wonderful weekend in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica

So I can confirm that the joy of being in Costa Rica isn’t necessarily living in the capital San Jose, but more visiting the beautiful beaches and forest areas that Costa Rica is renowned for!

I went to Manuel Antonio last weekend to visit a couple of friends, and had a really wonderful time.  It takes about 3.5 hours by bus to get there.  I stayed at the hostel where my friend works and met lots of wonderful people.  I visited some of my favourite restaurants and bars there (Barba Roja, Salsipuedes, Tiquicia and Z bar) as well as the beach and the Feria market.

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At the Feria market in Quepos2016-03-12 02.59.04

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I’m really glad I went and it was a good reminder to get my travelling shoes back on!  I’m making plans to visit more of Costa Rica soon…

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Filed under Costa Rica, Restaurants, Travel

An update on life in San Jose, Costa Rica

So far, so good!  I feel pretty settled in and comfortable here.  Costa Rica is not very cheap, so I’ve come to terms with living on a reasonable budget!  I do miss my frivolous ways back in London, but I also feel I have learned some valuable and important life skills again!

It’s a beautiful sunny day as I write, looking out on the mountain view from my bedroom window – the mountains that are beyond the busy main road view 🙂

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Teaching is going really well, I enjoy it and I’m always so flattered to get good feedback from my students.  I’ve also started teaching online lessons, I’m really enjoying those too!

I do need to make more of an effort to travel around Costa Rica.  Most of this country’s beauty lies outside of the capital!  My last trip was for New Year’s Eve in Manuel Antonio at the beach.  Perhaps I have become too settled in San Jose!

I do love the music here.  Reggaeton is really popular and I love dancing to it.  As much as I’m enjoying it here, I do find myself wondering what I will do next…

 

 

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Filed under Costa Rica, Travel