Iceland in a Weekend: Icelandic Horses and the Secret Lagoon

Having seen all kinds of cool stuff in the eastern part of Iceland, we made our way back on Route 1 to the western part. Read on for our adventures in the western part (map at end of post).

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Iceland in a Weekend: Ice Caving in Photos

The first time I went to Iceland I was extremely unsuccessful in visiting an ice cave due to rain and flooding. But not this time! We visited two ice caves on our wonderful tour with Local Guides of Vatnajokull. Here’s the tour in photos.

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Buenos Aires is my favorite South American city!

After all of the hiking in Patagonia, we decided to spend a lazy weekend in Buenos Aires just eating and wandering around. This was maybe the best idea I’ve had in awhile. Because while there are pickpockets everywhere (seriously, be careful near Retiro station), most of the people are awesome and the food is super delicious. Here’s what we did during our weekend in Buenos Aires. Map of places mentioned at the end of the post. Continue reading “Buenos Aires is my favorite South American city!”

Drinking at the Movies: KINO Rotterdam

Today I learned that movie theaters are much more enjoyable if a bar is attached. We have the good fortune of living really close to KINO Rotterdam, a small movie theater/bar/hangout spot. Besides having really cool art movies and movie-themed dinner and a movie events, they also have an excellent bar attached. And you can bring your drinks from the bar into the movie with you! Continue reading “Drinking at the Movies: KINO Rotterdam”

El Chalten: Laguna de los Tres in pictures

We had time for one hike in El Chalten and we chose the Laguna de los Tres hike. I strongly advise going to Hosteria El Pilar via the Las Lengas shuttle (you can buy a ticket in the bus station). You get to see more stuff this way and you end the hike in El Chalten where you can pick up a delicious empanada from Che Empanadas (no website, it’s on the main road that you walk back from).

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the dropoff point near Hosteria del Pilar
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the first mirador along the hike. if you wait here a bit, you will hear ice breaking.
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it gets cloudy so you may have to wait a bit. bring cards and/or lunch.
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but Fitz Roy does peak out eventually (haha, get it?)
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only to go back into hiding

The W Trek in Torres del Paine in pictures

We did the W trek from West to East, saving the Torres del Paine for our last day. Here’s our trek in pictures.

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everyone wants a picture on the catamaran through Lago Grey
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the beginning of the trek
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you should stay in Grey just to walk to these suspension bridges
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through the Valley Francés
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still going through the Valley Francés, this is the longest day
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at Britanico!
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the trail abuts this beach on the third day
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there are a lot of suspension bridges..
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we made it to Torres del Paine!

Easiest way to get a bike in Rotterdam: Swapfiets

THE way to get around in Rotterdam is using a bicycle. But I really needed a bicycle and didn’t want to invest a few hundred euros in something without doing my research. Enter Swapfiets. For a fixed monthly fee (15 euro a month), you get a pretty great bicycle delivered to your door. Even better is that if your bicycle breaks in any way, they will come and fix it for you (provided you stay within the bounds of your city of rental). Also, if it gets stolen, they will replace it for 40 euro (also a sweet deal I’m told since bicycles get stolen on the regular). So far, I’ve been extremely pleased with the service: my bicycle light ran out of batteries and they immediately replaced them. So if you need a good bicycle quickly without too much investment, definitely check out Swapfiets.

From Rotterdam to real-life Disneyland aka Ghent

One nice thing about Europe is that it is densely populated so it’s quite easy to go on a weekend trip to a cool city. We decided to go to Ghent to see the Wintermarkt and just generally wander around. It was an excellent decision; Ghent is super beautiful and walkable and we really loved our time there.

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New Year’s Eve in Rotterdam

I ended 2017 in my new home of Rotterdam and it was the perfect balance between relaxed and exciting. The lifting of the national ban on fireworks created a party atmosphere but it’s not extraordinarily crowded anywhere. We were able to decide 30 minutes before the national fireworks show to go watch it and get a good spot near the Erasmus bridge. I tried to capture this atmosphere below.

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Do the W trek in Torres del Paine without a guide!

So I don’t really like to take tours when I go hiking, mostly because I like to go my own pace and sometimes like to spend longer or shorter in a specific place than tours usually allow. For the W trek, I decided to try and do it on my own. Guys, it is SO easy and much cheaper to do everything on your own. Everything is super well-marked. Here is a step by step guide to creating your own W trek.

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How to see penguins in Punta Arenas

You’re probably in Punta Arenas because you are on your way somewhere else. But if you have a day to spare, I definitely recommend going to Isla Magdalena to check out some penguins and sea lions. Solo Expediciones is the only company that goes there outside of high season (before December or after January). To maximize your chance of actually going to the island, you should go to Solo Expediciones HQ (shown on the map at the end) basically as soon as you arrive in Punta Arenas. Continue reading “How to see penguins in Punta Arenas”

Where to buy all the meats (and other staples) in Rotterdam

Everytime I told anyone I was moving to Rotterdam, they all told me to be prepared to eat terribly. While the number of different kinds of fried objects available here are a bit alarming, I’ve actually been eating great here. That’s due, in no small part, to the awesome grocery stores and specialty food stores in Rotterdam. Here are my favorite grocery stores that I’ve found so far in my few weeks here (map at the end of the post):

  1. Slagerij Schell: they have all different kinds of meats here (pork, chicken, lamb, beef). The prices are super reasonable and they stock a lot of things that you can’t find in a typical supermarket. We found pork shoulder (for pulled pork!), bacon (for life!), and real italian sausages. For my asians out there, they stock beef flank (transliterated as noks tijn) so you can make marinated beef or beef noodle soup!
  2. Amazing Oriental Supermarket: not sure I’m supposed to condone the use of the word “Oriental” but this supermarket indeed has an amazing number of Asian products. I go here for Shin ramen, dumpling ingredients, Lao Gan Ma chili oil, and green tea Kit Kats. They also have many different kinds of frozen goods as well as Asian vegetables.
  3. Schmidt Zeevis: this fish market is a bit far but they are ginormous and have a great selection of fresh seafood. They also have a great fish soup so you can have lunch here to boost your energy for the way back.
  4. De Kaashoeve: lest you think I spend all my time on West-Kruiskade, I also very much like this cheese shop on Oude Binneweg. The Dutch love their Gouda and there is an excellent selection here but they carry great international cheeses as well.
  5. Jordy’s Bakery: they make delicious crusty bread here and also olive oil (because you need something to dip the bread in, duh). You can also get your bread sliced here into thin or thick slices, which is a nice option.
  6. Marqt: this is like upscale Albert Heijn (see below). They have a really good selection of prepared foods as well as fish, cheese, and meats. I’m also a big fan of their beverage and pate section.
  7. Albert Heijn: The sheer number of Albert Heijn stores in Rotterdam makes it one of my favorites. I can literally have a desire for chips or peanut butter anywhere in Rotterdam and be a block away from satisfying that craving. They are also pretty well-organized and open until 10 pm every day except Sunday. Albert Heijns are not shown in the map because they are EVERYWHERE.

Volunteering in Oaxaca for Fundacion En Via

I had the great fortune to volunteer as a photographer for Fundación En Vía while I was in Oaxaca. En Vía provides interest-free microloans to women entrepreneurs in the villages surrounding Oaxaca. It’s extremely important that these loans are interest-free since the going interest rate for a microloan in Mexico is 50-200% (I know, ridiculous!). In addition to the loans, En Vía sponsors business classes as well as English classes in the villages so that eventually the women in the villages can become independent. My job there was to photograph the purchases made by each woman with their new loans. It was a really amazing opportunity to visit the villages surrounding Oaxaca as well as see the many different business that these women started. Every woman was amazingly welcoming and I basically was given delicious snacks every day I was photographing. Below are some of my favorite photos from my time there. If you have some time to spare, I recommend volunteering with En Via. By doing so, you meet the wonderful people who work at En Via as well as get the chance to explore the surrounding villages. If you only have a short time in Oaxaca thought, definitely take one of En Vía’s tours if you’re interested in learning more/supporting their work or to get off the beaten track in Oaxaca.

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Do-It-Yourself Excursions in Oaxaca

I didn’t have a lot of time to visit tourist attractions in Oaxaca so I didn’t want to waste the time on tours going to things I didn’t want to see. I found it to be super simple to get to Hierve El Agua and to Monte Alban so if you’re interested in going to those places without a tour, I’ve written this post for you.

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Two weeks in Oaxaca, Mexico: What I Ate

Mostly tacos. I had the good fortune to volunteer as a short-term photographer for Fundacion En Via (more about this later) this fall, which meant two weeks in the town of Oaxaca. Oaxaca is well-known for its food and it definitely didn’t disappoint. Here were my favorite places to go during those two weeks. Note that for every restaurant on here (with the exception of Casa Oaxaca), you can get a full meal for less than $5. Map of listed restaurants at the bottom of the post. Continue reading “Two weeks in Oaxaca, Mexico: What I Ate”

Rotterdam Here I Come!

I’ll be living abroad for the first time ever and so will be changing the focus of this blog a bit. I’m currently finding it difficult to find blogs about food and yoga and general life in Rotterdam (probably because I can’t yet speak Dutch) so I decided to write my own. If you know of any good Rotterdam blogs, please let me know! In the meantime, I will be jotting down my thoughts and finds (food-related and otherwise) as I discover Rotterdam. I’ll, of course, still continue documenting the good things I find on my trips abroad.

Climbing Rest Days in Red Rocks

When I go on climbing trips, I want to climb all day every day but it’s important to rest as well. Luckily, during our recent trip to Red Rocks, we found a few non-Strip things (recognize the value of it but it’s just not my scene) to fill our rest days:

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Let’s Explore NY: Eating my way through Flushing

I love the food of my people and there is no better place to get it than in Flushing, NY. Here’s a run-down of my favorite places in Flushing to get my eats on (spoiler alert, there are a lot of carbs involved). Also, you probably want to do this with a few people so you can share the food. Also, I’m pretty sure only Kung Fu has a website so you can’t really plan your meal. Be adventurous! I promise it will pay off.

  1. Kung Fu Xiao-long Bao – thin bao skin, tasty soup, and perfectly flavored meat all add up to make the perfect xiaolong bao. Their other dishes are pretty good too; I personally like the beef in scallion pancake and the turnip puffs.
  2. Yeh’s Bakery – this place has been in existence for decades. They churn out delicious sponge cakes, moon cakes, and butter cookies. If it’s your birthday, I recommend getting one of their whipped cream pies.
  3. Tianjin Dumpling House – this little stand is located inside the Golden Shopping Mall. Pick your own dumpling flavors or get pre-stuffed ones from the wall. I love the pork with chives or lamb with green squash (aka zucchini). Whatever you do, don’t forget the sauce.
  4. Express Tea Cafe – walk like 10 feet from Tianjin to get to Express Tea Cafe where they sell bubble tea but really excel at making jian bings, which are like chinese savory crepes. Get the classic, which comes with wonton crisps, lettuce, and sauce. Sounds basic but the combination is delicious.
  5. Xi’an Famous Foods – you could go to the stand in Golden but there is a far nicer outpost about a block down Main Street toward the library. Something with noodles and lamb is always the right choice here.
  6. New Flushing Bakery – get the Portuguese egg tarts. They are amazing; crispy crust and creamy custard. The regular egg tarts are also pretty good if they run out of Portuguese ones.
  7. New Mei Hwa – they specialize in meat over rice. This is a typical Taiwanese lunch. I always get the pork chop over rice, which comes with a pork chop and rice (obvs) as well as some type of green vegetable (it changes) and pickled greens (so good!). You can splurge and get the Taiwanese Railroad Bento, which for a $7.50 gets you some Taiwanese sausage and an egg.
  8. Li’s Lanzhou Hand-Stretched Noodles – beef noodle soup is king here. The broth is rich and the noodles are perfectly chewy. Also, it’s $6.50.
  9. Imperial Palace – go here if you want a traditional sit down dinner amongst many Chinese families. Peking pork chop and crab over sticky rice are my go-tos.

Featured Image by Chun Yip So

Let’s Explore NY: A day in Beacon

Take the Metro-North to Beacon and find yourself in hipster paradise. But really, hipsters are pretty good at stuff so don’t let that put you off. (Metro North has a getaway package that includes admission to Dia:Beacon, find it here)

I imagine you didn’t wake up at the crack of dawn so by the time you get to Beacon, it will probably be time for lunch. Get lunch at Harry’s Hot Sandwiches. The sandwiches here are so good. SO GOOD. The pulled pork and the Cubano are my faves.

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24 Hours in Santa Barbara

I was hanging out in UCSB for a bit and had a day to spend in Santa Barbara. The city is developing super quickly and offers quite a few things beyond its beautiful beaches. Here’s a rundown of my day there.

Breakfast at Handlebar Coffee: I don’t drink coffee but I do love a good croissant. The almond croissant here is flaky and delicious. (Also, my friends tell me that the coffee here is the best in Santa Barbara).

Morning Yoga at Power of Your Om: this cute studio is right on State St. They have classes throughout the day for all levels. The teachers are great; be prepared to sweat.
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The Dingle Peninsula in Summer

The Dingle peninsula was one of my favorite places during our trip to Ireland. There is wonderful music and great food and also SURFING. Click through for my favorite experiences on the Dingle peninsula.

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My top tips for getting to Skellig Michael

So you want to get to Skellig Michael do you? You’ve chosen a difficult path but here are some tips to helping you get there.

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Ireland’s National Parks in pictures

We went on a whirlwind road trip around Ireland and I’ll detail some of the cool stuff we found along the way. This post, however, is dedicated to Ireland’s national park system. Every park had extremely well maintained trails going through beautiful landscapes. Here’s a tour through the ones we visited (mostly in pictures):

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24 Hours in NOLA (again!)

So I had to go back to NOLA again but we only had 24 hours this time. Here’s what you should do there if you only have 1 day to play.

Get lunch at Turkey and the Wolf. The food here is so awesome and creative. The space is strange and fun too. You can get a rubber bouncy ball for a quarter. Their lamb neck roti sandwich with yogurt and dill is the perfect combination of flavors. The deep fried chicken pot pie was also extremely delicious; the crust was extra crispy. Finish off the meal with one of their ice creams (I’m partial to the vanilla with key lime pie crunchies.) Beware that the ice cream is ginormous.

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A whirlwind trip to Tikal

We had one goal in coming to Tikal: see some coatis. I know. It’s weird. I guess we were interested in the ruins as well. You can go here or here or here to find useful information on Tikal. I just have these 3 useful tips to add for visiting Tikal.

      • Get your transportation from Fernando Rodas. He is amazingly friendly and can tell you lots about the history of the region and has very reasonable rates.
      • Get to the park by 6am. There will be very few people and it will not yet be unbearably hot. This is best done by staying in one of the lodges in the vicinity of the ruins. We liked Tikal Inn for the pool that you can lounge in during the extremely hot and humid late morning/early afternoon hours. If you are on a budget, there are also campgrounds near the park. You will need a flashlight to enter the park at this hour. Most of the time it is misty in Tikal so rushing to get to Temple 4 with all of the other tour groups will get you a view of fog rather than sunrise. Save it for a bit later and instead go to one of the side temples and have it all to yourself (might I suggest Temple 6 to see monkeys in the morning).
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This is what Tikal looks like with only 1 person
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chilling by the pool at Tikal Inn
    • Bring a raincoat. It rains all of the time. Tikal is in the rainforest. You should probably also wear mosquito repellent.

Also, you will see coatis. Many of them!

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coatis everywhere!