My new small bag additions

What I learnt from losing my luggage

Lost luggage.

You always hear stories about people’s luggage being missed from a plane or even seen that poor guy at the bus stop at 5 in the morning, while the bus driver has no idea where their bag is. I honestly sympathised with the scenarios so much and hoped it was a smooth ride to recovery for their bags.

After traveling buses for over 5 months now I feel like we know the ropes of how buses work, where to catch them, how to ride safely with your belongings. But it happened to Rob and I after arriving in Seattle Thursday at 4pm, after one of the longest buses and stopovers that we have done. We had began our journey from Crescent City on Wednesday at 8:30am. We had a stop over in Medford from 12pm – 2am. Another bus change in Portland where we never got called to re board our bus, so it left without us and another family. We were told our Luggage would be waiting for us in Seattle and we would have to board the next bus that is just under two hours away. We were able to grab the few things we had left on the old bus as it was still there waiting to be serviced which was great!

Our big Kathmandu backpack/suitcase

I can not even describe the feeling that they didn’t have our luggage there. I was so confused as the family that had missed the bus in Portland the same as us had just collected their belongings before us but our two bags were not put on the bus? I had not had very much sleep, and all I wanted was to have a shower, get changed and make a quick easy dinner out of the pasta I had packed in my bag. Not a chance. The unfriendly lady told us to come back at 10:30pm that night as that’s when the next bus from Portland was due in that “may or may not have our bags on it” We had to travel at our own cost to and from our Air b&b. What a nightmare. Our host was completely amazing. She drove us to and from the local supermarket to get food and even offered us her car to travel back to the bus station. We kindly turned the offer down and just took an UBER. We arrived at the station just after the bus was due with it being a little late. The guy came and told us to walk out the back and see if we can see our luggage after the passengers were off the bus. No such luck. The bags were still not here, despite being only 4hours by bus away. The guy informed us that the next buses were due in the next day at 2:30pm and 4:30pm. We had to once again come back the following day hoping our bags were there. If they were not we would have to start the process of lost luggage.

We had the whole house to ourselves the next morning and quickly threw everything we were wearing into the wash so we could shower and feel clean! I am grateful that we always take our toothbrushes with us on the bus and had deodorant in my bag.

My little backpack that I take as carry on.

 

After going back to the station for the second time in hopes to get our luggage back, the nice guy from the night before recognised us and asked the security guard and other worker to take us out to see if our bags had come on the bus. We walked through the inside not seeing them, but they were OUTSIDE!! Wahoo! Pure relief. There were a few things packed in there that are not easy to replace and have special value to me. I was upset that they had cut a part of our bags in hopes of opening it. Possibly trying to find their owners. But with no common sense and a little un called for as we had been trying to communicate with Portland Greyhound with no reply.

But we got our luggage back and I have learnt a few lessons that I want to share with you. When traveling and going to be separated from your big bag, make sure that there is nothing in there that can not be replaced.

The list below are a few things that I now know I need to have so I can survive for a few days if it were to happen again.

  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Deodorant and small Lavender essential oil
  • My mothers golden hair clip that I adore!
  • Reusable Watermelon bag
  • A spare pair of undies and socks when traveling on bus/plane
  • My diva cup! I absolutely adore it, will never go back to tampons, but also looking into Hannah pads!
  • Having a up to date picture on my phone of the inside of my bag.
  • Made me double check my travel insurance to see what I was actualy covered for. Greyhounds policy only paid up to $250 per person, for lost luggage. My bag on its own is worth $399 so this was a slight concern. Nomad isurance to the rescue.

 

My new carry-on  travel additions

 

I think loosing your luggage is a valuable lesson, that everything is always replaceable. What really matters is that you and your travel companions are okay and safe. This made me change the way I pack my bag when changing Cities and had helped me get a little more travel knowledge and patience.

Always make sure that you have your Passport, money and things you don’t want to replace if you had to.  Its a real peace of mind just incase it happens to you. Have you ever lost your luggage? Would love to hear your story!

Aileen
xxx

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Las Vegas

Las Vegas you are a bright, hot, busy hub of lights, fountains, activities and excitement.

Although I feel as we may have experienced Vegas different to most people as Rob and I are not big drinkers. We hired a rental car so we could drive ourselves to the Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam. It was so wonderful being able to drive everywhere on our own terms, no ubers, buses or waiting. Our Air b&b was in North Vegas, so we  also got to sleep well.

Hello Vegas!

 

We traveled to both the North and South Rim of the Grand Canyon. It was absolutely magical, I couldn’t believe how big it was, how different the colour was to the pictures that I have seen or how dead silent parts were. We paid a $30 parking fee for 7days of use and happily explored, watched sunsets and soaked up the Canyon without huge amounts of people in areas, which made it more special I think. I honestly didn’t have a preference for what side is best, they were both just as beautiful.

North Rim of the Grand Canyon

 

South Rim of the Grand Canyon

 

The city of Vegas also dazzled us. We went in to watch the Balegio fountains. They have five different songs that have synchronized water shows. My gosh, they are so well done, the water shoots up to 400m in the air with such force. It’s an absolute must if you in Vegas.

Vegas at night

 

The high roller wheel was also a great view of the city. We rolled at the perfect time and had a whole pod just to ourselves. The strip of Vegas is bright colourful and entertaining. There were a range of characters dressed up to take photos with for a tip. Plenty of places to eat and drink along the strip, along with many shops and souvenirs. The strip heavily smelt of cigarettes and people were even allowed to smoke in the casinos!

HIgh Roller

 

Hoover Dam was so much bigger than I had thought. It was pretty cool to see both sizes and gauge how it worked. We didn’t have enough time for the underground tour, but we heard great things about it. The water was a gorgeous green colour. I thought the bridge overlooking the dam was such a great view too! Made you realise how big the Dam is. We found some free parking on the far side of the Dam, which was a bonus! You just had to walk a little further to the viewing points.

Hoover Dam

 

Hoover Dam

 

Also totally guilty of stopping at the famous Welcome to Vegas sign. Can you believe that the sign has its own parking lot? There was a line of at least 20 people waiting to get pictures directly in front of the sign, with showgirls. Many people were just sneaking to the side and still getting great photos. So we also did too, it was 41 degrees and we didn’t think we would last waiting in the heat.

Before returning the car we stopped at Ronald donuts. My gosh! They literally have two full shelves of vegan donuts that taste incredible! I got the plain raspberry filled, chocolate iced and a iced Cinnabon topped with walnuts. Not one regret for eating them all myself. Well worth the visit if you can.

Vegas is super fast paced, but is also a great place to be a middle ground to et the Grand Canyon. Definitely a great travel adventure for us.

Aileen xx

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7 Days in Los Angeles

We had the most wonderful week in LA. My little sister Grace flew in from New Zealand the day after we did. I was ecstatic to see her! I waited out on the steps for about twenty minutes, and ran to the taxi when she finally arrived. I absolutely adore my sister and felt so blessed that she had traveled so far to come and make some magical memories with me.

Grace & I

 

Day 1

We caught an Uber to Santa Monica in the morning to explore the Pier. It was a bit of a cloudy morning, we walked up the pire to  the top corner. Santa Monica had such a buzz about it. So many tourists and locals alike enoying the activities and views.

Santa Monica

 

We continued along the path and walked to Venice beach,  watched a little of the skateboarding and continued walking further to the Venice Canals. They were absolutely stunning! They have been in so many movies, they are almost a little hidden gem of Los Angeles, I would highly recommend you to check them out if your in the area!

Venice Canals

 

Day 2

The Hollywood stars called to us. We walked up and down Hollywood Boulevard looking at all of the stars, recognising only a small percentage of the to be honest.

Marilyn Munroes Star

 

The street was quite dirty, which disappointed me. It’s always so glam on the TV, but that is not the case in day to day life. We popped into the Chinese theatre and had a look at the foot and hand prints of the stars. Some dated back to 1927, the prints still look pretty good too! After a delicious vegan burger, we headed up to Griffith Observatory at the perfect time. We experienced afternoon, sunset and night.

Grifith Observatory

The best time to make the most of your trip and see all the different sky changes. Sunset was incredible up there, it lingered about for over an hour, as we watched the moon rise beautifully into the sky. They had the large telescope pointed out into Jupiter, even   seen a few of its moons around it. Absolutely incredible!

The incredible sky

 

Day 3

Today we headed to the science centre. This was a high priority on Rob’s LA list as one of the US space shuttles is stored there and you can view  it. We first headed to the the Body section that was the feature of the month. Grace and Rob were a bit creeped out by this and left with very sensitive stomachs. Everything on display was a real human. They had donated their bodies to science. We seen the inside of the body, like never before. The way your muscles sit in your bones, the inside of your brain, the nervous system and even lungs and heart. I found it to be so fascinating, that is actually what we look like on the inside, no cartoons or animal parts to represent our parts. Finally it was time to see the Endevor space shuttle. It was so big! We walked around the room filled with displays of mission control and some parts of the space shuttle including the wheels and toilet.

The Endeavour

We watched a video on how it transported it from Florida to California. Then into the room where the beautiful shuttle was on display! It was huge, and a completely different material than I was expecting. It wasn’t glossy it was made completely of tiles, that were all numbered and had specific places on the shuttle. We spent half an hour just walking around and admiring this beautiful shuttle that had been out to space 25 times.
We spent the  evening at the OUE sky space which is at the top of the US bank building, 52 levels above ground. It has a room filled with some pretty incredible views to look at and interactive lights.

Rob on the OUE Slide

 

We all went down the glass slide that wraps around and drops one level. The slide is very cool, although it was over in 1.5seconds, I wish it was a little longer. The incredible views that you could admire off the balconies on both sides of the building were amazing!

 

Day 4

DISNEYLAND!!! I hope the capitals let you know how excited I was. Grace was also excited, childhood dreams were coming true for us! Rob had been before but was more than happy to go again.

Such a cool day

We arrived at 8:30am as traffic was about already. Traffic is a real bad thing in LA, it’s there ALWAYS! The lines were huge! You had to line up, go through security where they looked at bags and then scanned your body similar to airport. Finally time to buy tickets and get to California Adventure park first.  Disney filled my heart with joy! The rides are magical and the vibes at disneyland are amzing! We went on Gardians of the Galaxy, Cars, California Scream, Mickeys fun wheel, swinging chairs, The silver bullet, Goofy’s Flying school before another quick two rides on the California Scream roller coaster before heading over to Disneyland! We went on Starwars, Space mountain, Finding nemo submarine, Wild West roller coaster, Indiana Jones. We also went and met Mickey Mouse, seen Minney Mouses house and shopped some Disney products. We missed the fire world as we were stuck in line for one of the rides which is definitely disappointing, but we couldn’t change that. We finally left the park at 11pm after arriving at 8:30am. It was a long, fun day. We spent aleast one hour waiting in line for each ride, except for Space mountain which was much longer as it broke down while we were in line. Disneyland was truly a magical day. I was really upset at the food and had wished that I brought lunch but other than that Disney filled my heart with joy! The rides are magical and the vibes at disneyland are amzing!

Day 5

We slept most of the morning away as we finally arrived home at 1am after a quick stop at Walmart and our long drive home. We spent the day just relaxing at the air b&b. Grace and I watched movies while rob was editing his photos. Day well spent after hours of standing and walking the days before.

 

Day 6

Universal studios. We were up fairly early to head out to the studios again, which I’m glad as the park was fairly quiet at this time. Making it really easy to get through security and grab tickets.

Universal Studios

We headed straight for the minions ride. It was a 4D seat ride and was amazing! Then onto the Simpsons that was just as incredible. Downstairs we did the Jurassic park, mummy and transformers rides before heading up to the studio tours. The tour was pretty amazing,.We went through the sound studio section, on to the buildings, which included the famous city hall from back to the future. On to the New York section. Finally we got to the King Kong part of the ride which gave us an incredible shake up and spray, while dinasours and King Kong were fighting around us. Amazing. We drove through the suburbs where we witnessed thunder and lightning, along with flash flooding during a hot sunny day. Onto the suburbs which were Mexico and Wisteria Lane from Desperate housewives. Before things got crazy with the fast and furious lock down. I don’t want to ruin too much of the tour for you but it was definitely a highlight of my day at universal studios. We did the Harry Potter section to finish our day off and headed to a dinner spot close to our home.

Minion!

Day 7

The morning was spent making and eating pancakes and packing. We then headed out for a walk to the local shopping centre for Grace to get the last gifts she needed before heading home. I was so sad to know she was leaving today. I absolutely love my little sister. We spent the afternoon drinking coffee and eating lunch before heading back to grab our bags for Grace to go to the airport and Rob and I to do laundry before Vegas. I cried for a good ten minutes after Graces Uber drove away. So sad to see her leave and so grateful I get to have her in my LA memories.

There was an endless amount of things to do in LA that we had to choose what we wanted and stick to the plan. We did a tonne of walking and then used Uber to get to the places that weren’t in walking distance. LA has such a cool vibe to it. Was definitely a place I would visit again.

Aileen xxx

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Cancun

This was our last stop for leg one of the world trip. It was such a bitter sweet feeling. It meant that we had overcome all of the challenges, frustrations and fears that had come about during our travels. It also meant that we had seen and experienced many wonderful adventures.

Cancun From above

Upon arriving into Cancun we instantly felt the heat and humidity. We were staying quite far away from the Zona Hotelera, which was a two and half hour walk away. Yes we thought it was a good idea to walk that. Three quarters of the walk we gave in and caught a bus. It was like 35 degrees and we were dying! The beach was well worth it. I had never seen water that blue or clear before. So much like the movies or what you see in pictures. The water was pretty rough in the area we first went to. After lunch we found a great spot that had sand banks so you could stand up in the water and feel much safer.

Playa Chac mool, in Zona Hotelera

Day 5 in Cancun we took the boat to Isla Mujeres and fell in love. This was the most incredible little island. The weather was incredible the beach was breathtaking and our apartment set up was the best that we had on this trip. They had bikes, beach chairs, balls, books and even sunscreen for personal use of all guests. This was such a bonus. I guess it was because the bike had a basket that it made me want to bike everywhere. Also the island is total of 7km long and 650m wide, making it extremely accessible to bike everywhere. Although Rob had many encounters of his chain falling off it was so much fun.

Isla Mujeres

We spent the next four days enjoying the sun and beach, snorkelling, swimming everyday and watching the sun set on the beach. Typical island life.

Playa Norte, Isla Mujeres

We fell in love so much that instead of leaving on Sunday back to the main land we decided to stay the whole rest of our time on the island until we flew to LA. I know that Mexico has so much to offer and explore but it just felt right to enjoy the beach and time of relaxation before we get so busy sight seeing in the states. When we booked the Cancun trip is was meant to be a two week break in between the legs of traveling and that’s what we made it.

Robs cute bicycle shot

Although it rained everyday after Sunday until we flew out we had the time to get things booked and ready for the states and rode our bikes in the rain. The island life is really the best kind.

Aileen xx

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Banos top 5 Activities

We had decided to spend two weeks in the little town of Banos, because there was so much to offer with activities and beautiful natural wonders.

So I have written a little top 5 list of the things that I recommend you do while in the little town. There are many things to do. Head to the information Centre and grab a map. It has many walking tracks and other activities around Banos.

Banos Graffiti

 

1 – Cycle to Callas (waterfall name)

The bike ride to the waterfall is around 19km and is mostly uphill. It took us around 45mins to get there with a couple of stops at the little waterfalls along the way. There are options to get the bus down, but we decided to bike. Which of course is mostly uphill and completely kicked my ass. You walk down hill around 10-15mins to the waterfall and pay a $1 entrance fee. The view is incredible and you get to walk along the little bridge and get a view from another perspective also. Well worth the trip there.

Callas Waterfall
Bike, great backdrop

 

2 – Tree house 

This is a beautiful little spot really but at the top of the hill looking directly at the Volcano. My tip for seeing the volcano is to catch the 6am bus up there. Yes it’s early, but we went up a total of three times and the 6:30am visit was our favourite. We had a clear view of the volcano, there were no lines for the swings, or flying fox. It was so quiet up there we even seen some beautiful baby blue birds! The buses leave at 6, 9, 11 and 1pm and cost $1 each way. The tree house also has a $1 entrance fee.

Volcano Views @ 7am

 

Treehouse Swing, as you can see we arrived late in the day.

 

3 – Puntzan Canopy Tours

Literally the best zip line company in Banos and there are many to choose from. This one company has six zip lines that range from 100-500 meters. They all lead to each other so it made it a bit easier than walking everywhere, although there were a couple of steep uphill that took my breath away, but they had little water tanks and cups waiting for you at the top of the hill. There was always at least two tour guides, one at each end of the lines and I felt completely safe. We paid $20 USD each for the tour and I would absolutely spend it again. Rob made a little video of our tours on his facebook.

 

4 – White water rafting

This was another first for me and it was so amazing. We had 8 team members in the boat and one instructor. They supplied wetsuits, water shoes and a helmet. Obviously along with the boat and paddles. We had a ten minute brief of what the instructions were that he would be telling us and then we were in the water. We all had to jump out of the boat and then save the person who was sitting opposite us, pulling them up by their life jackets. Our boat tipped once and I fell out maybe five times, the water was cold but you actually couldn’t feel it in the wetsuit, only when it was splashed in your face. We were at the end point probably faster than I would have liked. Lunch was provided for us on our way back to Banos. We even got a DVD with all of the pictures and videos the guides took, but unfortunately we have nothing to be able to watch it on, so it will be something to look forward to when we are back in NZ.

 

5 – Exploring the little town

There are many walks heading up hills sprouting off in almost every direction. There is a Mirador walk to the look out above the city and also a hill that we walked up on the opposite side to get a glimpse of the volcano with no luck. The little town is full of little souvenir shops, candy stores and plenty of places to grab coffee ( Honey was our local coffee shop) or a bite to eat. There were also plenty of Murals on walls along the city and even a wall full of mosaics, which looked so cool.

Beautiful Street Art

 

6 – The hot pools

There were four hot pools all together and were not too busy when we went mid morning. They were hot and relaxing but also had a little bit of cloudy water, which made me question the cleanliness of the pools. If this is not a worry for you, then head along! There is also a spectacular water fall right beside the hot pools, which they filter the water and use if for showers.

 

I thoroughly enjoyed my stay in Banos, although maybe two weeks was a little too long, but it was nice not to have time pressure and be able to do activities on days when the weather suited. Well worth the trip!

Love,

Aileen xx

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Puerto Lopez

We happily headed to the coast of Ecuador to a small little coastal fishing village called Puerto Lopez. We got there via bus from Quito. We arrived and had to get a cute little tuk tuk to our hostel, which was an adventure in itself. We were staying four blocks from the beach which was so beautiful. We went down the first night and watched the sunset. Just wow. The ocean has such an effect on my body and soul. That night in bed we had decided to extend our trip for an extra three days. Pure happiness.

We spent the next few days walking along the beach, collecting rocks and shells.We also found enjoyment watching the crabs do their weird daily sand rolling. The rain then came and we spent the mornings laying in bed listening to the rain on the tin roof. One of my favourite things to do.

The Crab & his rolled balls

 

Finally the sunshine came back, so we went on an adventure to the national parks beach, Playa Los Frailes. We caught a bus to the entrance and walked about twenty minutes to the beach. Along the way we seen such a huge variety of gorgeous butterflies, lizards and birds. There was nothing but nature to hear and it took my breath away. Playa Los Frailes is the most incredible beach I have been to. Beautiful sand, gentle clear blue water and sunshine! We spent most of the day there. Swimming, laying in the sunshine watching the crabs, eating watermelon and climbing to the look out at the top of the cliff.

Playa Los Frailes

 

The next day we had booked in for the Isla de la Plata boat tour. We were very excited for this tour as it was like the poor man’s Galapagos trip. Something that unfortunately didn’t fit into our budget. The boat took 45mins to get to the island where we split into groups and walked along the tracks in hopes to see the wildlife. We chose to walk along the coastline and we were not disappointed. The water was another gorgeous shade of blue, that was hypnotic to watch. We were so grateful to see the blue footed boobys (my main reason for wanting to come) they were such a beautiful and unique bird. It’s not their mating season so there were low amounts of them about. Our tour guide has even shown us a plant that the locals use for a natural sponge. You just had to peel of the shell to use it, I am still using it today! It works wonderfully.

Incredible coastline of Isla De plata
Blue footed Booby

 

Back on the boat we seen some beautiful sea turtles happily splashing around our boat, they are just such a majestic creature. We had a quick lunch and then geared up to go snorkelling off the boat around the corals. This was my first time snorkelling and I absolutely loved being able to see what the fish were doing under the water and how truly beautiful their home is. Such an experience and I will definitely be trying it again when we have the opportunity.

Sea turtle
Sea turtle

 

This little town has so much to offer and I’m so grateful we made the last minute choice to get some sunshine! If you are heading to Puerto Lopez, please buy bottled water ( I know I hate it too, but their tap water is contaminated with Mercury, we were told it was okay to cook with, just not drink) check out the national park beach, there is also a spa resort not far from the national beach where you use natural mud to have face and body masks and a chocolate shop that do small tours. Of course there’s the beach where you can find many restaurants to sit and enjoy the view or, just take your picnic blanket and enjoy it from the beach with sand in your toes.

All my love, Aileen xx

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Bus Tips

Throughout South America I have so far traveled 11,900km by bus. This is the most efficient way to travel in my opinion. It’s the most cost friendly form of transport and a great way to see the country side that you will not see if you are flying. The longest bus ride I have been on was 36 hours. Yep I know! But it’s all worth it when you get to your destination for a reasonable price.

Leaving Buenos Aires

 

I have 10 tips below to help you survive these bus trips.

1 – Bring your own water.
Especially when traveling for longer than 8 hours I recommend to bring at least three liters. On the buses if there is a food service, you usually only get one cup of tea or coffee in the morning and one glass of soft drink at lunch and dinner. So to keep your body and skin happy bring your own water and keep yourself hydrated.

2 – Bring a scarf/blanket.
It can be cold and it’s comforting to have something over you at night. Some of the more expensive companies do supply you with blankets and little pillows, but most do not.

3 – BRING SNACKS!
I always bring snacks with me on the bus trips, after going hungry for almost ten hours as the bus had no vegan options. I had learnt my lesson the hard way. I just take plain bread rolls, with jam or tomato sauce, crackers and fruit like apples and oranges that are a little forgiving for bruising. Even if you can eat the meals on the bus, they are not huge servings and when you are on a ride for 36 hours like I’ve done before, you will thank me when you have your snack attack plan ready in your backpack.

4 – Keep your bag down by your legs.
I know it’s annoying and there already isn’t much space, but it’s probably more annoying to have your bag stolen. This has never happened to us and I have put my bag above me on the rack, but it did have a lock on it and generally I had it up there when I was awake and aware what was happening around me. I’ve also read cautions to keep your bag on your lap. Trust your gut.

5 – Download offline google maps for the whole of your trip.
It’s so nice to know where you are when traveling long distances. This allows you to know where you are and how long you have to go. Just click the lines next to the search bar and go to offline areas, select custom area and download.

6 – Have a portable charger.
If you are going to be busying using your phone for music and games. Especially if you need it for directions at the other end.

7 – Prepare your self with movies, tv shows or a book.
It’s a great way to kill time. But also enjoy the window. Take in where you are and look for what you wouldn’t see back home.

8 – Sleep!!!
When you want and when you can. It’s not always easy to sleep at night, so you go for that little cat nap during the day!

9 – Pack your bathroom essentials.
Like toothbrush, toothpaste, face cloth, essential oils (lavender is my favorite, helps with calming you down and assists you to sleep) deodorant and a change of undies. Also recommend to have your own roll of toilet paper as they never have any on the buses. When on the bus for long periods of time these few items make you feel so fresh! I also like to have my bamboo socks in my backpack to help fight my cold feet syndrome! Haha

10 – Wear appropriate clothing.
Tights and a loose shirt that you can get away with just wearing a singlet instead of a bra is my absolute go to. A light jumper is also great as I find the air conditioning to become too cold for me. Shoes that are easy to slip on and off are also a wonderful idea. Converse chucks are my go to.

I hope these tips assist you in many long happy bus rides. If you have any tips that I haven’t popped in, I’d love to hear them!

Aileen xx

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My Meditation Jounrey

Each morning when I awake I meditate for twenty minutes before I start anything else in my day. I find that meditation helps me calm, center and balance my mind for the day ahead. Meditation helps me become the person that I want to be. As quite an emotional woman I find meditation to be my daily cure to help me get my thoughts, feelings and emotions in check!

Meditation has been found to decrease stress in everyday life, help lower blood pressure, increases your focus, helps to battle anxiety, depression and anger. ( Facts all from a small google search on top of what I have personally witnessed and experienced on my personal journey)

I found it super hard to start meditation at first, until I got told about the One Giant Mind app, that has three different stages in side this one FREE app. The first stage is a 12 step challenge where each day is a new guided meditation where they tell you information as to how meditation works and what to expect. After you have finished your session it comes to a video library with frequent questions or queries about what happens during meditation and then Jonni pops up in a video and tells you about why the body does certain things and helps you to understand the deeper reason. I found this extremely helpful as I generally have questions for everything
that it helped me gain a deeper understanding of meditation, which encouraged me to continue.

After I had completed the 12 step challenge, I moved into the 30 day challenge. This part starts with videos from Jonni congratulating you on completing your 12 day challenge. The 30 day challenge is all about setting yourself up to make meditation a daily habit.

After the 30 day challenge you now just have the timer where you daily meditate with your favorite options. I always try to set twenty minutes with background music as I find it helps me relax more. I still use this app DAILY!

If I have had a super stressful day, or I feel myself becoming more emotional than usual, I will mediate in the  evening also, after work while waiting for dinner in the oven, or before bed to help my mind slow down and give me some restful sleep. I also try to meditate with crystals along my chakras once a week, to balance out my energy and also to reset and refresh my mind, body and soul.

I can absolutely notice the difference in the way I react to the world when I have not meditated. I become irritated faster and easier over small things. I become angry and automatically look at the negative over the positives, and I just don’t feel like myself.

My crystals, some gifted to me and some I bought for myself

 

When I was working I made sure I was awake early enough to meditate for twenty minutes while still leaving enough time fore breakfast and to get ready. I know getting up twenty minutes early sounds like a bad idea when we are tired, but in reality meditation actually helps our body’s rest and relax. 20 minutes of meditation is equivalent to 4 hours of rest and relaxation. Imagine starting your day after a nights sleep and an extra 4 hours of rest for just 20 minutes! Sign me up!! 😂

Another option if your not completely into apps and doing it alone, is reaching out and looking upon the community that you live in to see if there are any group meditation classes. This is a fantastic way to meet like minded people and be talked through a session, with someone there ready to help and guide you.

Meditation has actually changed my life. It helps me tackle my problems in ways I never would have approached them before. I am a lot calmer and let many things just fly past me with no reaction, when they would have ruined my day a few years ago. It has also helped me connect in to my spiritual side and helped me on a journey of Energy healing. I am now a level one Reiki and Seichim healer. Which is so incredible. I now help people release their energy and help guide them on to a healthier and happier life, by releasing energy stored throughout their auras.

Why not give it a go? You may fall in love just like I did.

Aileen xxx

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Gratitude

Daily gratitude is something I strive to practice, well daily. I have an alarm that goes off every night at 8pm that says “Thankful  Journal” I personally believe that we have our little devices in our hands 75% of our day, so we should be using them to our advantage. Keeping us accountable for the things we want to achieve and giving us a gentle reminder after a day of ups and downs.

I jumped aboard the grateful train well over a year ago. I am a firm believer in a positive mindset and wanted to take it a step further. Upon stumbling into one of my favorite stores Kiki K (A magical stationary shop in Australia) I found a little book that said “Thankful Journal” it had the date section at the top and a 1, 2 & 3 along with lines to write three points of my daily that I was thankful for. Some days there are major things I am grateful for, flights landing safely and others I’m grateful for getting out in the sun for 20mins or having a phone call with some I love that I don’t get too often.

I believe and have read in many wonderful places and books, that the more you focus on the positive, the more positive flows into your life. Like we have the power of our own minds, and if we can choose to see the positive aspects or the negative emotions from our day, why would be choose negativity? So this small ten minute exercise at night helps keep me on track and helps me be the person that I want to be. I also try to think of one or two things while in the shower in the morning. As there is no better way to start the day than on positive footing.

After attending a Mindfulness workshop at KiKi K we were given the challenge to write a thankful card to someone in our lives that we loved and appreciated, and then to buy a pack of 10 Thank you cards and post one per week for the duration of our cards, to people in our life that we are grateful to have. I wrote a list of people that I wanted to include in the challenge and slowly crossed their name off the list as the weeks went by. My list included my Mum, siblings, boyfriend and gorgeous friends that I’m blessed to have in my life. I had set an alarm for every Sunday at lunch time to go off and remind me of the task that I needed. I committed to half an hour for the cards and generally wrote a little list of things that I adored about that person and then just wrote from my heart. The best part about hear cards was that, each and every single one filled me with love. It helped me to realize that I have the most beautiful people in my life and quite often I had take advantage all the beautiful things they do and the impact that they have on my life.

Upon my last few cards I realized that I didn’t have the right amount of envelopes in my pack. I popped into the store and let them know my situation and kindly asked if they had a few spare envelopes around so I could finish my challenge. The lady took another pack of cards from the shelve and said that they would completely replace the purchased pack as it must have been a unlucky pack that didn’t match card/envelopes. WHAT THE FUCK! A whole new pack? I instantly thought and knew that what I was doing was making a difference and I needed to keep going. What a magical universe that is always providing for me and what I need in divine timing.

I completed and posted every single card. 21 in total to the beautiful people in my life. The best part about this challenge was that it not only filled me with love and gratitude but when the person received their card and I got a call or message to say thank you, and let know how much it meant to them was just magical.

Everyday we should be making an effort to tell the people around us that we love them. Life is so precious and we all know that feeling when someone appreciates something we do. Say thank you, smile and say good morning & help someone out just because you can. Try looking for the nugget of gold in every day, even when you feel like the clouds are out. You’ve got this.  Why not try the grateful card challenge yourself? The people in your life will adore to know how much you love them.

We can never have too much love and happiness in our lives.
All my love,
Aileen

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Machu Picchu 4 Day Trek

Our Machu Picchu trek was something I had been waiting for a long, long time. I had little experience hiking and camping. Actually none! Nothing to compare what it would be like to. I just knew it would be a magical experience, no matter how tough it would be.

We had booked with Kandoo Tours over 6 months ago. Machu Picchu was my non-negotiable in our South American leg of our travel. It was an expensive tour,  it it was the best company that we could find online and we were really happy with what they had to offer. Everything seemed to be so organised and the company had amazing reviews.

Day one ☝🏼
5:15am pick up from our hotel. We did our tour with Julie & Nic from Birmingham, England. Such a lovely couple who are also super passionate about traveling. They also have plenty experience and had many wonderful stories to share. On the drive my drink bottle fell off the seat and smashed open, exploding 2.2L of water all over the vans floor, mine and Robs legs, chairs and my cellphone.

Wonderful. I was absolutely disappointed. I actually loved that drink bottle. I did sulk for awhile but at the end of the day it’s just a drink bottle right? We stopped at a beautiful lookout over the Sacred valley on our way to …… a little town and
hour and a half where we met our porters and had a toilet break. Another 45mins along a dirt road to Kilometre 82. The starting point for all trekers doing the Inca trail. We got sunblocked, mosquito repellent, stripped down and ready for the first morning of our trek. We walked down to the first control point where all of our passports were checked and the porters had a seperate station where their bags are weighed to make sure they are not carrying too much. ( May I add, theses guys are absolute fucking machines!! Carrying these huge bags along with themselves, very quickly up the hill to meet you at lunch & camping spots with everything set up!!)

Up up and away. Smooth and steady to start the trek. It did become a bit more difficult. The altitude mixed with my average level of fitness really came in to kick my butt! Most of the morning was fairly flat. We reached our lunch spot where the porters all stood up and clapped us as we walked into the site! So cute and encouraging. We had a three course lunch starting with soup and then rice with vegetables and finished with fruit. I was so impressed that the chef made me such delicious vegan food! Even my day snacks were all vegan! Very cool to see I wasn’t going to be eating nothing for the trek. We continued after lunch and it started to get pretty hard. The hills very pretty steep and I had certainly not prepared myself to be at my best fitness. But we made it to the campsite, in fact we couldn’t see our team so we kept going only to have one of the porters chasing us because we had gone too far. Too keen. Haha. We were given warm water and a face cloth to clean up after the day of hiking. We had crackers and tea for an afternoon snack and dinner was served at 6pm. I was absolutely exhausted and a little dehydrated from the day so I went to bed straight after dinner to sleep off my headache and sore muscles.

Day 2 ✌🏻
5am wake up with Coca tea brought to our tent. ⛺️ We then had half an hour to get changed, packed up and for me meditated. I only squeezed in 10mins, but I knew it was going to be an extremely tough day and knew that I would need the mental clarity.
We had oats and bread for breakfast with hot tea. While eating breakfast our extremely efficient porters already had our tents packed up and away just within our eyes. I knew Day two would be hard, we would be climbing the highest mountains along our trek and the highest altitude. Little did I know it would literally almost break me. I was forever behind the whole group and struggling until I found a way to keep my mind focused on something other than my twitching legs and lungs empty of air. I started counting my steps. At first I had to walk 100 steps and could then stop for a drink break and nose blow, then I pushed to 150, 200 and finally 300 steps at a time. This really helped me keep my focus and keep going until I reached my goal at the time. This mountain was huge!! It took us a little over two hours to reach the peak. It was an incredible view and a wonderful feeling of accomplishment to know that we had walked behind what could now even see. After a short break and refuel with our delicious snack bags from the chef, we continued.

What goes up, must come down. The down was easier to breath but very step and still required a lot of strength from the muscles. So grateful I hired the hiking poles, these literary became my best friend! They held me up many times when I thought I couldn’t make it somewhere. Along the down hill I started to notice the rocks and how beautiful they were. At least one third of the rocks were marble, once I had noticed the first one I couldn’t help but spot the rest! Absolutely amazing! Some so large it could be a
coffee table. But still so beautifully untouched.

We reached our lunch spot within another two hours of walking down hill. Once again our amazing porters clapped at our arrival and had a little day bed waiting for us to relax on while waiting for lunch. We seriously had the best team! Lunch was another three course meal with corn jelly to finish it off! It’s been a long time since I’ve had jelly and it was amazing, and made out of corn!! Like mid blown!!! We had to trek uphill once again. This was a tough day, but after a break, refuelled stomach and the mindset knowing what we had just climbed in the morning, I knew we could do it. Half way up the hill we reached another beautiful Inca site that they had used as a rest site when making their way to Machu Picchu. Our guide Josè played the flute and had us do a small meditation, with our hands on the rocks, with our family and intentions of the future in our minds. Such a beautiful experience in such a Scared place.

We continued up for another hard 45mins before reaching the top!! On the way down we came across another Inca ruins in the top of a hill perfect for astronomy. The amount of detail that had gone into these buildings was mind blowing. Within 30mins we had reached our campsite for the night! With my warm water after rising my face and hands, I decided to pop my feet in and give them a bit of a break, I had blisters under the surface for sure! My feet had taken a beating today especially and I wanted to pamper them the little that I could! Nic and Julie seen what I was doing and jumped on board! We all had a little foot spas! Poor Julie forgot to wash her face first though! We had a huge afternoon tea of popcorn and puff pastry filled with apple.They were so delicious I added a small amount of jam to them, just to top it off! 🙌🏼 All of the porters were playing soccer together. How they went to run around for two hours after that day of hiking was beyond me! 😂 But they were having a great time and that’s all that matters. Slowly as the evening came about the Mountains started to appear before our eyes! The frogs began to make more noise and I was on the hunt to see one, at Josè’s entertainment. He said people rarely see them! But I tried with my torch to spot them! No luck sadly! The clouds had cleared up and it was a wonderful stary night! Rob caught some incredible pictures!

Day three ✌🏻☝🏼

5:45am wake up, with Coca tea at the tent ⛺️ again. No meditation time this morning just packed up our stuff and got ready for the day. Only to hear Julie & Nic say how much of an incredible sight was waiting for us outside the tent. Wasn’t expecting a huge snow capped mountain, perfectly lit up by the rising sun. No words! What an exceptional start to the day! Breakfast was bread and jams with a surprise to come. A cake! A freshly baked cake! Like how did he make that? No idea! Such an AMAZING chef we had! Such a beautiful gesture!! Off we began, day three was up and down. Bit of everything which was kinda my favourite. We passed another two huge Inca sites before lunch! These were absolutely huge and so well made, every stone had a purpose and it was so amazing to
see how intelligent the Incas were, how connected to nature they were to know exactly what they needed and exactly how to get it.


We reached our last lunch site with our porters which was so bitter sweet, they were so incredible and encouraging, but it also  meant we were getting so close to seeing Machu Picchu! Before we ate Josè had a wee surprise for us. A huge hidden Inca site 7min walk from our lunch spot. This was also huge! Made for farming and living! We learnt a few more history points from the Incas, Josè was so knowledgeable and so passionate. We truly had the best tour guide! Finishing up lunch we packed up to continue to the Sun gate. The first spot we would see Machu Picchu! Not before Nic gave the porters a little speech to say thank you on behalf of us ( His Spanish was so good) and a tip to show our appreciation! Thanks Nic! 🙌🏼😊


Julie and I were just strolling and chatting while the boys walked a lot faster ahead of us. Until we reached the steepest set of steps! Where they happily sat and took photos and videos while we struggled up! 😂 the view was amazing. But we weren’t at Sun Gate yet, another 10-15mins or so. When we reached the Sun Gate, there were at least 50 people at the top. So many more than we had seen along the trek! You could walk up there if you were visiting Machu Picchu for the day! Some of the complaints I had heard from people after their 45min walk up that hill made me want to hit them! 😂 they had no idea. Seeing Machu Picchu for the first time after walking for three days to get there has no words to describe it. I was so proud of myself and the others in the group! We made it!!! Just as we started walking down the rain started and literally cleared out the people and the glaze that was hanging over Machu Picchu, which made for some incredible pictures for us! We were literally standing and looking at one of the 7 wonders of the world! Amazing!! After snapping some photos we caught the bus down to Agua Callianties the small town that thrived
off Machu Picchu tourism, where we were staying and having dinner for the night. Hot showers also! 🙌🏼💜

First photo at Machu Picchu.
I MADE IT!!!

Day four ✌🏻✌🏻

6am wake up call! To be ready for Josè at 7am to head up the hill once again to see Machu Picchu up and close with our own private tour! Amazing! To hear from a local their perspective and what they knew had happened to their Inca’s was utterly heartbreaking for me! We live in such a selfish world sometimes. We got a two hour tour before we were left at the Huayna Picchu gate to climb that huge mountain that’s always in the pictures of Machu Picchu, just to get a birds eye view! Only two hundred people per day are allowed up in two groups. We had passes that we had purchased months ago when we booked our whole trip with Kandoo. What a hike up! Sometimes climbing tiny steps on hands and feet. I know this has been said many times in this post, but WHAT A VIEW! There was definitely a lot of people trying to be in tiny spots. We found a little spot where there were no other people with the best view you can get! We carried on down and passed through a tiny little cave! Ahh was so small but pretty cool! Back down the bottom we made our way through the houses and made our way to the bus 🚌 to head back down the hill to meet Josè for lunch. We never found him! But enjoyed a delicious lunch with Julie and Nic. Absolutely adored their company! So wise with many travel stories to share. We split up to look around the small town before having to be at the train station by 3:50pm to get back to
Cusco. We found some beautiful postcards to send home.

We meet Julie and Nic at the hotel that collect our bags and get to the train before the rain hit. That was literally the weirdest train I have ever been on. The drink and food service was very professional. Then a guy in a dragon mask and colourful clown suit came out with bells on his feet and started dancing and pulling passengers up to dance with him. Julie got pulled up and was such a good sport. I forced Rob to publicly hold my hand at the table to stop me from getting pulled up. But he came and sat on my chairs arm and was just looking at me. So weird. When we had finished the Alpaca fashion show began. The attendants walked up and down the isle modelling beautiful clothing. When the show was over the came with a trolley to sell the pieces. We didn’t buy anything. It was a weird train ride! But also very call to see all the mountains we had walked along was very cool. We had a driver with our names on a piece of paper waiting for us at the train station. Felt pretty important. We arrived back at the hotel and hour and a half later.

What a journey! I feel so grateful that I go to experience Machu Picchu, not only with Rob, but also Julie and Nic! The best couple we could have been put with. Kandoo had everything organised to a tee. We had a taxi pick us up the next morning and take us to the bus station, as airport transfers were included in the package. Win!

If your wanting to see Machu Picchu I absolutely recommend walking the Inca trail with Kandoo tours! The experience is unbelievable and something I will remember forever.

Aileen xx

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