Five Lessons Disney Movies Taught Us About Love

Pormotion

So, this past week we celebrated Valentine´s day. Therefore, in honor to all the love in the air, I wanted to reflect upon one of our main examples and dictionaries of love: Disney movies. If you, like me, are a millennial, the chances are you have seen quite a sample of Disney films. For me, Disney is a source of inspiration, knowledge and most of all, it is the link to my nostalgic childhood memories. Hence, to continue celebrating love during the weekend, let’s go over five lessons Disney movies’ characters taught us about love.

Olaf

Oh Olaf! Who doesn’t love this carefree snowman who seems clueless but understands the essentials things more than everyone? There are numerous moments when Olaf has something to say about love. This moment specifically he’s about to melt for Ana. When Ana says she doesn’t know what love is, Olaf explains: “Love is putting someone else’s need before yours”. In other word, love is not selfish.  The other person’s needs and feelings will come to mind always, because they matter, they are important and they are loved.

Disney Movies: Frozen

Pocahontas

After John Smith has been shot and he is about to return to England, he insists in staying. He can’t  leave her. Nonetheless, Pocahontas consoles him by saying: “No matter what happens, I’ll always be with you. Forever”.  For a moment, this might seem like the idealistic romanticized version of love that Disney movies portray since relationships nowadays seldom last a lifetime.  However, doesn’t the memories, the laughter, the tears and the lessons do? People might walk away, but they leave behind a bit of them with us. For example, if you drink coffee after the person who taught you to drink it has left, you will always remember that person when you drink coffee. So, in one way or another, we stay with the people we loved, and they stay with us.

Disney Movies: Pocahontas

Tangled

Tangled is one of my favorite Disney movies. For me is better than Frozen. I’m sorry, don’t hate me. The story between the main characters is sweet, romantic and very Disney-like. In this scene, Rapunzel is seeing the lanterns for the first time in her life. She is in a boat with Flyn Ryder, her companion and guide. Suddenly, she realizes her vision of him has changed. As she sings, she declares: “all at once, everything is different, now that I see you”. This movie states one of the universal known truths: love transforms us. Loving somebody changes our vision of the world, our priorities and our way of thinking. A person who is truly in love, is not immutable.

Disney Movies: Tangled

Mulan

I said Tangled was one of my favorite Disney movies. Well, the first and top on the list is Mulan. Mulan is one of those films I will never get tired of seeing. In contrast with her predecessors who where mostly damsels in distress, Mulan is a heroine. She puts her love for her family first and decides to go to the war in place of her father. After she comes back home, she kneels before him and presents some gifts. Her father tosses the gifts aside and through tearful eyes affirms: “The greatest gift and honor is having you for a daughter”. This moment illustrates how the person who has our love becomes to us a gift more valuable than any possession in the world.

Disney Movies: Mulan

Cinderella

Cinderella is one of the old time Disney film classics. Although it is one of the stereotypical ones, it doesn’t change the fact that it contains important love lessons. While Cinderella dances with her Prince Charming, the lyrics that sound on the background music goes as follows: “So this is love, this is what makes life divine”. And I agree. The fact that we are able to love the people around us is what makes life delightful and enjoyable. Love gives purpose to existence; it moves it and it pushes it.

 Cinderella

In conclusion

Disney movies tend to romanticize and idealize their stories.  Nevertheless, we can learn many lessons about love trough their characters. In fact, most of us have shaped our ideas about love thanks to their plots. So, next time you watch a Disney movie, look beyond the stereotypes for the important things it can teach you. Even if you are not a romantic, take it as an inspiration and love, make memories, change visions and be the gift of someone. Maybe your life won’t be as perfect as a Disney film, but you won’t regret loving the people around you.

Valentine’s Day Date Ideas

Valentine's Day Date Ideas

So, is that time of the year when you must buy gifts, chocolates, balloons and celebrate love: Valentine’s Day. Well, maybe you don’t have to, but you probably will. Nonetheless, Valentine’s is highly influenced by capitalism, as Christmas. You feel pressured to buy merchandise as if there is no other way to express your love than giving your partner a fancy watch or the latest laptop. And I get it, I’m not judging. There is nothing wrong with going shopping and acquiring a gift for those we love. However, if you are short on budget and you cannot buy fine jewelry, it doesn’t mean your Valentine’s day is over. In fact, most of us would rather have experiences full of emotions, efforts and details than the latest technology on the market. The previous ones can’t be bought in a store. Here are several Valentine’s date ideas that go beyond materialism.

Valentine’s Day

Fly a kite together

First, you could make the kite along with your partner. There are multiple tutorials on YouTube. Truthfully, we are not used to creating something with our hands, that will have a function later. But what is a relationship based on if not in constructing things together? After you are finished with your kite, go to the park to test it. Flying a kite is something many people did as kids but forgot as they grew up. So, when you do it, it brings a lovely nostalgic memory. Teamwork, trust, accomplishment… All of these by making and flying a simple kite.

Valentine's Day Date Ideas: Flight a Kite

Take a walk

By the lake or by the river. Better yet, go hiking. Although hiking is not an activity for everyone if you are into outdoor activities, this is essential. Before you start your path turn off your phone or put it in airplane mode. It will let your partner know you are setting aside that special time for them. Engage in all possible ways with your partner: talk, joke, help each other through difficult paths, take pictures, eat and stop to admire the view. You might think you have walked alongside your partner on multiple occasions, nevertheless, this is not just about walking, it’s about engaging.

Go on a Road trip

Road trips! You may or may not plan your stops. Nonetheless, you should have a destination, a highlight. Pack snacks and meals, towels, bathing suits, a change of clothes, cash and a camera. Routine can be really dulling. You might forget how important your partner is and how you truly feel about him or her. Therefore, let this experience be full of spontaneity. Connect with your partner: know or re-know them. Get exposed to nature and take the stress and rush out of your relationship at least for a day.

 

Valentine's Day Date Ideas: Road trip

Valentine’s night

Cook dinner at your home

Dinning out during Valentine’s can be expensive, stressful and truthfully, boring. So, instead of going out, prepare a special dinner at home. If you have no experience in the kitchen, don´t worry the internet has you covered. You can prepare multiple side dishes and main plate. Or if you rather have a more rustic version, do a barbecue. Take the time know the tastes of your partner and don’t forget to add the most important ingredient: love.

Do a bonfire and roast some marshmallows

This is probably one of my favorites. It is so modest and yet, so nostalgic: bonfires. You can light one either in your backyard or a camping park. Sit with you partner under the stars, remembrance good times, exchange childhood stories, curiosities and questions while you roast marshmallows. Make the night about both of you, without worries or stress. If you want to try an extra dynamic, write into a paper something sweet and after reading it to your partner, burn it up in the bonfire so it stays forever in your memories.

Valentine's Day Date Ideas: Bonfire

Turn your  “Guagua” in a hanging spot

If you have an SUV or a Pick-Up, you can turn the trunk into a traveling living room. Lay a few comforters on the bottom of it, decor with cushions and stuffed animals. If you have lights or lanterns, hang them around your trunk. After, you can drive to a high city viewpoint. There, you can use your trunk to sit and relax while you watch the view. Get away from the city craziness and enjoy the quietness, the laughs and stories. You will enjoy it more if you bring along snacks. You can complete the night by lighting sparklers. This is an example of how the place is insignificant as long as you are with the right people.

Valentine´s Day!

The truth is there are hundreds of things you could on Valentine´s Day. These are simple budget friendly ideas to help those who can´t seem to think of something to make the day memorable. The highest investment you must do for the previous listed experiences is time. As long as you have a moment and willingness to generate memories with your partner these will work out for you. You could still go for the jewelry, there is nothing wrong with that. However, let love flow through everything you do. Love and good memories should not be limited to one day of the year. Instead it ought to be present in our hearts. How do you spend your Valentine’s day?

Valentine's Day Date Ideas

You might be interested in Ever-Changing Beauty.

Self-Care Ideas for Starting your Week on Sundays

Sunday Self-Care Ideas Promotion

Work, cooking, cleaning, repeat. Those words probably sum up your week. Nowadays, it is so common to get lost in routine that you probably forget you must take some time to take care of yourself. Nonetheless, setting aside a period during the week for yourself can re-boost your energy and keep you going. Moreover, pampering yourself shouldn’t be an option, but a duty. So, why not doing it so on Sunday, just before starting the week? Here are a few Sunday self-care ideas.

the most basic self-care: Dress your bed

I’ll confess it. I wasn’t a fan of dressing my bed. For me, it was useless and time consuming. However, it was until I worked a year as a housekeeper that I understood dressing my bed is a form of self-care and a gift to myself. Every time you walk into your room, it will seem more cleaned and organized just because the bed is made. In addition, at night, you will get the same feeling you get when you lie down at a hotel bed, because it is dressed for you to enjoy it. So, even if you are way too rushed to do it on weekdays, on Sundays, take the time to dress your bed.

Self-care: Dress your bed

Reflect or meditate

I’m a Christian, so I give thanks to God. However, you feel free to give thanks to the universe, to life or to anything you feel is in control. And, if you don’t believe in anything at all, at least take a moment to appreciate the things that make you happy and that are going right. There are people who aren’t as fortunate as you.

Get off social media

Social media can be a wonderful tool, yet, it can be poison to our life. These platforms can produce negative emotions as anxiety and depression. Instead of spending your Sunday scrolling down through someone else’s life, work on yours. Disconnect yourself at least five hours from Facebook and Instagram. If you ask me, the best way to do it, is by not having the apps in your phone. I only enter my social media from my laptop, when I arrive at home. And I make sure it doesn’t consume me more than twenty minutes. Furthermore, I don’t revise it before sleeping. For me, it’s lethal. I will get anxious and will stay up until 3:00 am with a lot of things roaming in my mind. So, on Sunday, as a rest to your already pressured and stressed brain, knock it off. Get off social media.

Self-care: Get off social media

Exercise

Maybe you are not into Cross Fit. Nevertheless, this shouldn’t limit you from taking care of your body. You could go on a walk, do some Zumba, Pilates, yoga or stretching. Just get your body moving. It will increase alertness, making you feel more awake. Besides, it is known that exercising hacks your brain into feeling better and happier. Let’s say you aren’t in condition to do a forty-minute cardio routine. Then, five or ten minutes of dancing with Fitness Marshall to beat of your favorite song or fifteen minutes of a stretch routine with Fitness Blender are enough. Exercising will help you both physically and mentally. Don’t forget to stay hydrated.

Take care of your body: Cook a delicious meal for yourself

If you are used to having a doughnut and a coffee for breakfast during weekdays, break the habit on Sundays!  Cook something like you deserve it. Heat the pan and make yourself an omelet, prepare some healthy pancakes, or a bowl of oatmeal. Or all of them! Complement it with a cup of coffee or tea. I assure you, it will taste better if you turn off the TV. You could also do the same for lunch and dinner.

Self-care: Breakfast

Dedicate an hour to your hobby

Hobbies! In these lies our true personalities. Put a timer on your phone and dedicate to read a book, watch a movie or a series, drawing, sewing, writing… Whatever you push aside during the week. This is one of the best ways of self-care. You are paying attention to your essence, to the person you are without shifts, responsibilities, debts and pressures. Give some love to the free spirit inside you.

Get some fresh air

If you haven’t gone out by this time, get yourself dressed in anything that makes you feel good and go out for a walk or drive to the closest park. I like to go to beach. I won’t even step out of my car, I just put the windows down and lay back in my seat. Sometimes I turn on the music. Whatever works for you! Just get a bit of air and sunlight either alone or with the family.

Take some air

Take a longer shower

I’m not saying you should leave the water running. Please don’t. Since you’re always running around during the week, you probably take five-minute showers in the mornings and nights. Instead, on Sundays, wash your hair, put a mask on it, scrub yourself with a nice smelling shower gel, and shave if you haven’t. Just pamper yourself. Moreover, if you have a bathtub, fill it with bath salts and essential oils. Relax inside it and listen to some music.

Take time to work on your future goals

Maybe you are in a transition point in your life. You are juggling with family, a full time and other responsibilities. Nonetheless you should set aside a period for taking care of your future goals. Like I mentioned here, planning for a change is important. You shouldn’t let your routine or your failures discourage you. If you are not able to do it daily, on Sundays, sit down and reflect on your goals, think about where you are in your plan and remind yourself what you’re working on. Don’t take care only of your present-self, but also of the future you.

Make it happen

a final word on self-care

These are some of the basic Self-care ideas you can do a Sunday, before starting your work week. Nevertheless, there are hundreds of things you could do. The point is to understand that allowing time for yourself is necessary, and that not doing so is a real luxury you cannot afford. Next time you find yourself wasting away your Sunday on social media or watching TV in the couch, think of using that time for you. What is your routine of self-care? Let me know down in the comments!

Bucket List: 12 Things to Do Before I Die

Bucket List Promotion

I don’t remember having a bucket list. Not an official one, anyways. Instead, it was more like a bunch of wishes I had expressed at some point or another in my life. However, before the ending of 2019, I realized that I could strike out a few elements from that non-official bucket list (you could read about them in here and here). Still, there are a lot of things I would like to do. Therefore, I decided to summarize my wishes and share them with you, because I think they are worth adding to your bucket list too. Here are my top 12 things to do before I die.

  1. Go Skydiving

I’ve been wanting to Skydive for a long time now. Why? Honestly, I have no idea. I refuse to go on roller coasters because I scream and cry and laugh hysterically during the process. I know it will be the same when I skydive. Who knows? Maybe I’ll cry less.

  1. Watch the Northern Lights

This is one of those experiences that I know will take my breath away. Watching the northern lights should be on everyone’s bucket list, because it’s one of those phenomena that helps us realize how small we are in comparison with nature and the universe itself.

 2: Northern Lights

  1. Walk on the Great Wall of China

With more than 2000 years of history and being one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, the Great Wall of China deserves a visit once in a lifetime. To think something so impressive and advanced could be built without all the technology we posses today is simply astonishing.

Bucket List 3: The Great Wall

  1. See the rest of the New Seven Wonders of the World

The Great Wall is only one of them. I would like to see the Christ the Redeemer Statue in Rio de Janeiro, Machu Pichu in Peru, Chichen Itza in Mexico, The Taj Mahal in India and Petra in Jordan. Why five instead of six? I was in Italy in 2018 and saw the Colosseum, so I can cross out that one from the list.

  1. Get Lost in Japan with Shawn Mendes

Well, maybe I won’t have Shawn Mendes, but I would gladly get lost in Japan. Japan mixes the most advanced technology with beautiful historical temples all in one country. Besides, sushi is one of my favorite dishes! I would love to get immersed in their culture for at least one month.

Bucket List 5: Lost in Japan

  1. Ride a hot air balloon in Cappadocia

I guess you could ride a hot balloon in many places. However, doing so during the breaking dawn in Cappadocia, Turkey, is like a dream come true. Moreover, while you are already there, you can stay in one of the famous cave hotels to complete the journey.

  1. Go to the highest peak of Bukhansan Mountain in Seoul

Although while I was in South Korea, I started hiking the mountain, I couldn’t make it to the top. We began to go up around 3:00 p.m. and since it was autumn, the sun set early. As a consequence, we turned around after making it to the first stop. I wish to go back and take a photo at the peak.

Bucket List 7: Bukhansan Mountain

  1. Attend to the Carnival in Venice

I love masks, plus I adored Venice during my visit. Conclusion? I must return sometime during the season of the festival. Besides, who doesn’t fantasize about being part of a masquerade?

Bucket List 8: Venice

  1. Make a snowman

So, apparently not only Ana wants to build a snowman.  Don’t judge me! As simple as it might seem, I live in a tropical island, so it doesn’t snow. As a result, I haven’t done a snowman or a snow angel never! That’s why they need to be in my bucket list.

  1. Welcome a stranger in my home and serve him or her as a tour guide

I’ve heard about all this Couchsurfing thing. Yes, I would like to receive someone at home just for the fun of showing him or her what I love the most about my country.

  1. Cultivate food in my garden

I’ve never been much into gardening. Nonetheless, I believe the experience of cultivating your own fruits and vegetables is beautiful. Furthermore, the food is fresher and free of unknown chemicals.

5: Home Gardening

  1. Do more volunteering

Sure, I would like to do and see so many things. However, I think nobody should leave this world without giving back a bit of the blessings they received. I believe touching people’s heart and leaving them with good memories of you is the best way to live.

And finally in my bucket list…

There isn’t a “finally”. These are only a few of the multiple things in my “official” bucket list. As a matter of fact, the list is endless, because as I erase one thing from it, I’ll probably add three more. Moreover, I consider these twelve ideas deserve a spot on everyone’s “before I die” bucket list. For me, most of the elements are experiences, since I’m not into material things. I rather take and leave behind memories. What about you? Have you scribbled your bucket list yet? Let me know in the comments!

How to survive when things aren’t going as planned

How to survive when things aren't going as planned

For our parents it was easier. They could be a teacher, a doctor or a police officer. My mother has told me the story multiple times about how she had her life figured out by eighteen. However, for us, millennials, is not as simple as that. There are millions of careers and destinations we can pursuit, and we know it. Yet, even if we are a different generation, we are not immune to crisis.  For us, as for our parents, there comes a time in life when we can’t figure out the way to our ideals.  Still, we shouldn’t loose motivation or give up on our dreams. Then, what are we supposed to do?  How to survive when things aren’t going as planned?

First, identify the opposing force

When not going as planned: identify the opposing force

When something is not going as planned, ask yourself the reason. What’s the obstacle that’s keeping you from reaching your goal? There are countless things that could go wrong in our plans. Nonetheless, stopping for a moment to analyze everything can help us pinpoint the exact problems so we can proceed to resolve them. In fact, with frequency, we will find that the greatest opposing force to our dispositions does not come from the outside but from the inside. Sometimes, our despondency, our indiscipline or our lack of focus can come in the way between us and our final destinations.

On the other hand, when the obstacles are exterior, identifying them can help figure out the complexity of our battle. Is the problem standing between you and your goals a lacking skill, an unknown language or a missing equipment? Do you need to travel; to go somewhere? Distinguishing each obstruction will let you know where you are standing right now and what you need to do to move on.

Second, reflect upon the original plan. Is it realistic now?

Of course, you had a strategy. If not, at least you have an idea of where you wanted to be at this point. Nevertheless, you are far from it. This is when we all ask ourselves “what went wrong?”. Before sinking into despair and frustration, it is important to understand that not everything will resolve the way we wanted it to. This is called life. It is what happens while we are busy making plans. It applies to relationships, to labor, to our journeys and everything you can imagine. Understanding things won’t always go your way is part of growing up. Even though as a kid you could get almost anything by crying, as you grow up, you’ll notice that crying won’t reverse a breakup, change a grade in a exam or bring money magically into your account. C’est la vie

Does that mean you should give up on everything? No. At this point, you already recognized the complications between you and what you desire. Therefore, analyze the original plan in the light of your new obstacles, as objectively as possible. Is it a realistic? Is it smart? When you made it, did you consider these possible difficulties? If after all this questioning, you believe the original tactics stand a chance, retake them. This time, you will have a clearer notion of what you are facing and what is standing at the end of the line.  If the original scheme is useless, then it’s time for something else…

Third, trace a new plan

When not going as planned: trace a new plan

Yes, it’s time to sit down and write. Scribble down your goals and how to make your way to them. If the original plan didn’t succeed, you should change it before changing the dream. You could use a goal setting journal to get inspired and track your process. This time, when tracing your scheme, keep in mind the obstacles you identified. If you are one of them, figure out a way to stay motivated; to push yourself to do what’s necessary. Make a to do list, put deadlines to every step in your plot, write them in your calendar. Then, every three months stop and analyze what you’ve achieved, what’s left to do and what needs to be modified or changed.

Be careful with wanting to do everything at once. You probably have different ambitions for different aspects of your life. Nonetheless, it is foolish to expect them to work out all at once. Some things will take more time than others. So, instead of overwhelming yourself with trying to do everything simultaneously, focus on achieving one thing at the time. It is better to go slowly and steady than to lose the way on the road.

Fourth, work with what you’ve got. Be ready to improvise on the way

Expect the best but prepare for the worst. Even if you traced a realistic strategy and you follow it trough, there will be detours on the way. Therefore, understand that a plan is like a script: it is always subject to changes. Instead of panicking or giving up on hope, learn to deal with what you’ve got. Accept the new challenges you are facing and grow up with them. Whatever you learn from these experiences will be useful for your future. Just make sure you don’t lose your way. Keep in mind the end for which you are striving and every now and then reflect about where you’re at, what are the new obstacles and if your strategies are still valid.

A final word on how to survive when things aren’t going as planned

In conclusion, there will be moments in our lives when we realize things aren’t working the way we expected them to. Nevertheless, before giving up on everything, we should analyze the problems, our strategies and our goals to get a clearer view of how to move on. Even if things don’t turn out our way, we will always learn new things and live worthy-telling experiences. Just be careful not the get so caught up in an idea or a plan, that you miss the life that’s passing by. Enjoy your process. Don’t compare yourself to others and trust your personal timing. Now start that planning and make it happen!

When not going as planned: Make it happen!

Thirty Seconds

Thirty seconds poster

Life is like a dream and time is illogical, it doesn’t know of rules or patterns. However, we forget it sometimes. And when we believe we have everything under control, thirty seconds are enough to prove us wrong… It was a Tuesday, 4:24 in the morning when the earth shook. After the earthquake finished, I immediately google the news in my phone. There they were: collapsed houses, citizens fleeing, the electricity gone. Then, I realized it: thirty seconds have the power to change our lives.

I don’t recall feeling an earthquake so strong. What was supposed to be a normal day, became a nightmare. We were meant to be celebrating our extended Christmas -because we celebrate Christmas from November to half of January-. Instead, we found ourselves back in the days after hurricane Maria hit the island. You could smell the fear and the uncertainty in the air. Moreover, you could see the people’s thoughts floating around… What if it happens again?

And it did, but not stronger. A few hours later an aftershock moved the floor again. Thirty seconds more that would cause someone to lose his or her house and belongings. Thirty seconds that woke up those who were trying to sleep again, like me. Thirty seconds that filled with fear every human being walking on the now unstable soil. Thirty seconds, not even a minute.

Truthfully, time is scary itself. Have you ever stopped to think how so little of it can transform so much in us? It doesn’t take a long period to hear a goodbye, to receive an insult, to see someone die or to take a wrong decision. Moreover, time is one of those things we can’t control; it slips trough our fingers.  Therefore, as everything out of our power, it is incomprehensible.

However, as inexplicable as it is, those thirty seconds that paralyzes us with doubt, can shift our vision towards the significant matters. The instance that terrorized me, was the same one that several individuals took to write “Are you ok?” or “Are you safe?”. For that moment, friends and family positioned their concern for me over their growing panic. In fact, it took less than thirty seconds to read one of the messages that brought me to tears: it was from a high school friend that lives in New York. Yes, he wrote to his family, BUT he also remembered me… Me, with whom he can’t meet or communicate frequently.

In conclusion, an occasion has the power to change our lives permanently.  Nonetheless, an equal moment can bring us happiness and hope. Thirty seconds shook the floor. Still, they also brought me comfort and love. We can’t control the time. Nevertheless, its worst quality is also its best: it never stops. So, even if thirty seconds alter your life forever, if you lived something that crushed your heart and damaged your soul, thirty seconds and thirty years more will come. Learn with time, let it teach you the substantial things and take away those that aren’t so. Time won’t let us grasp it, yet, it invites us to follow it towards tomorrow.

Hourglass

My Top-Five Experiences in Seoul

My Top-Five Experiences in Seoul

On October from 2019, I traveled to the country of my dreams: South Korea. Last year, unexpectedly, I was able to scratch that name from my bucket list. Why unexpectedly?  It was sudden. It was only a month since I had returned from Costa Rica.  Getting to South Korea took me around two days with four layovers on the way. The flight from Los Angeles to China lasted around thirteen hours. Yet, from my first day in the country I knew my  journey was worth it. Here are my top-five experiences in Seoul.

  1. Dancing in the Gyeongbokgung Palace

I went to visit the Gyeongbokgung Palace during my first week in Seoul. The Palace, with over five hundred years of history, is one of the must-see places. I decided to explore the Palace by myself. As a result, I spent the whole afternoon walking around and taking pictures. Just when I decided to leave, I came upon a beautiful show of Korean Folk Dance. I followed them up to a garden where all the visitors made a circle around them. Since I was up in the front, I was dragged with a couple of other tourists to the center of the circle, where we had to imitate the dance routine and sing along with the girls. I couldn’t help but laugh and smile all along and I couldn’t imagine a better way to end a day in the Palace.

Folk Dance in Gyeongbokgung Palace

Folk Dance in Gyeongbokgung Palace, Seoul

 

  1. Haneul Park

From my investigation about places to visit in Seoul, I learned about a place called Haneul Park. It is a great field at the top of a hill, filled with pampa grass. During the autumn, the place is a popular spot because the pampa grass turns into a silver shade, making it seem like an actual heaven, which is the meaning of its name. Also, it is a good example of the urban regeneration movement in Seoul since the place used to be a landfill. I arrived with a friend around four in the afternoon. The breeze was cold, and it moved the pampa grass gently from once place to another. It was a relaxing experience and after walking around for a while, we sat in a swing to watch the view of Seoul.

  1. Korean BBQ with Friends

If you’ve heard about South Korea, you have probably heard about the traditional Korean BBQ. It was something I couldn’t miss during my trip. So, I went to a small place in Gangnam, close to Garosu-gil. The “ajhumma” that attended us didn’t speak English. Nonetheless, she kindly directed us to a table and recommended us the most popular thing in the menu. When they brought the meat over, we weren’t sure how it was supposed to be grilled. In response to our clueless faces, she took the utensils from our hands and grilled the meat herself. She even taught us how to dip the meat in the different sauces. It was a simple moment. Yet, what makes a moment more memorable than good friends and good food? And to top it all, living it in Seoul, South Korea.

Korean BBQ with Friends

Korean BBQ with Friends

 

  1. Iwha Village, Seoul

I heard from Ihwa village after a few weeks staying in Seoul. I’m glad someone told me about it. I can’t describe the place as something else as magical. One of the things I loved the most about Seoul was that art was everywhere, not only in a gallery. Ihwa Village is an example. The small village is at the top of a hill. It is a popular place for filming and once you see it, you understand why. Everywhere about there are murals, sculptures and worth-a-picture places. If you love taking photographs for your Instagram, this one should be on you top five must-see places in Seoul. Not only you can enjoy the mystic atmosphere created by the art, but you can also enjoy a coffee in one of the numerous coffee shops in the place.

Ihwa Village, Seoul

Ihwa Village, Seoul

 

  1. First Snow fall and Eating in Myeongdong, Seoul

My last night in Seoul, I decided to visit Myeongdong for the last time. I visited Myeongdong four times during my stay in Seoul. The crowded streets and the endless options of food made it one of my favorite places. Nevertheless, this time, I met up with a friend and decided to have some tea. It was close to midnight when I suddenly heard a commotion among the pedestrians. I looked around to find the source, just to see them gazing upon the sky. And that’s when I saw it for the first time: the snow. I had the privilege to see it for the first time in South Korea. What more could I ask from this trip?  It ended in a totally perfect and nostalgic way.

A final Thought on my top-five experiences in seoul

Although I can say those were my top five memorable experiences in Seoul, I must clarify those weren’t the only moments I enjoyed. I had the privilege to visit other places and to meet multiple persons. Korea not only fulfilled my expectations, but it exceeded them. I wanted to share these experiences because I think everyone should have them, in Korea or in other countries: eating with good friends, visiting a historic place and seeing or discovering something for the first time. What were your top experiences during a trip? Let me know in a comment below!

Walking the streets of Gangnam with a friend

Walking the streets of Gangnam with a friend

Four Tips to Follow when you are new to Traveling

New to traveling?

 

It wasn’t any special day nor did I had a revelation. I was tired, though. But that was common after my shifts. I was scrolling trough my social media and I came upon one post from Mochileando. Since I live in a island, tickets for going anywhere are rather expensive. However, this time the post announced the tickets to Italy at a special price. I read the post twice, I looked at my mother and I said to her “Let’s go to Italy”. She laughed. In fact, anyone would have laughed. For many people in my country, traveling without a guide and without a lot of money in their bank account seems almost impossible. It’s been a year and a month now.  I made five trips already and I am planning the sixth one. Even tough with every trip I learn something new,  there are four things I constantly repeat when planning a trip by myself. I will share them now.

  1. Are you traveling alone or with someone else? Consider your partner

Do travel, with or without people. Not because you don’t have companionship, you must limit yourself from doing so.  Nonetheless, a solo trip differs greatly from a group trip. This variable affects the budget, the destination and the attractions that you will visit. For instance, when traveling alone you will have to cover your expenses by yourself. On the contrary, when you travel with a partner, you will share one of the most important expenses: the stay.

On the other hand, if you are a solitary wanderer, there might be some countries where you’ll feel  uncomfortable walking around. So, you will have to choose your destination keeping that in mind. Whereas,  if you have company, you’ll be less timid to visit places that differ greatly from where you come from.

Lastly, when you travel with a partner, you must consult the different places of interest you would like to visit and agree on them. While one person might love museums and can spend the day hoping from one to another, the other might be more inclined to exterior activities. Keep all of the groups member’s tastes in mind when choosing your destination and attractions. That way, everyone will enjoy their times abroad.

Two friends that traveled to Burano

  1. Read, read, read

Countless people turn to a travel agency because they believe they don’t posses the tools to plan a trip. This is a wrong belief. There are millions of sites on the internet that will help with everything from booking a flight to finding a place to stay. Luckily, nowadays you can do  most bookings in your smartphone. I use applications like Google Flights, Momondo, Hotels.com and Airbnb to  book my flights and my stays. To learn about popular places to visit I use sites like Tripadvisor, The Crazy Tourist or the official tourism page of the country I’m visiting. Some of these pages will try to sell you guided tours. It is your decision to take them or not.

On the other hand, it is vital to read about the culture of the country you are going to. There are certain things considered rude or illegal in some places. For example, in many countries you are required to leave the seats of the public transportation to elders, kids and pregnant women. If you don’t, you might get unwanted stares.

Consequently, my best tip for anyone who is about to travel is to read; read everything about that country and learn as much information as you can. That will save you time, money and trouble.

  1. Plan ahead

This might sound obvious. Yet, some travelers do not plan an itinerary ahead of time. I believe you should always make the most out of your in time in a different country.  For doing this, you should make an itinerary  that includes the places you would like to visit each day. Study the map and look for the places that are close one to another and plan to visit them during the same day. Now that you have read everything, you will know the opening hours of the attractions and the best way to get to them. If possible, walk as much as you can between spots, so you can save yourself some time and money.

When preparing an itinerary, I consider not only the opening hours for each place, but the hours I believe I will spend at the attraction. Every person is different. For some, the Colosseum might take an hour to visit; for me it took two. Most of the times, you can buy entrance tickets and transportation tickets ahead of time on the internet.   Usually, to prepare my itineraries, I use Sygic Travel or Word.

 

Girl in front of the Colosseum

The Colosseum, Rome, Italy

 

  1. Leave some room for mistakes and spontaneity

Although I like to plan my trip as best as I can, I learned by now that the perfect vacation doesn’t exist. Therefore, prepare yourself. Count on a budget in case you have to buy an extra entrance ticket or another night at the hotel. While we were in Italy, my friend and I were supposed to part from Rome to Venice on the second day of our trip. However, when we arrived at the terminal, we noticed we had bought the tickets for the wrong date. Yet, we had already booked our hotel at Venice and the rest of the itinerary would have been affected if we didn’t leave Rome that day. As a consequence, we were forced to buy another train ticket. At first, I felt terrible. Nevertheless, I understood that in every trip, mistakes were unavoidable.

Also, when making your plans, you might want to keep  a bit of flexibility in them. During our trip to Costa Rica, we fully booked our first two days. Nonetheless, we decided to book some activities while being there. We had a pretty good idea of what we wanted to do, but we were also open to some recommendations from the locals. So, we had some unexpected adventures like running ATV’s close to the Arenal volcano, because we were open to suggestions. You can read more about it here.

Driving ATVs in Costa Rica

El Arenal, Costa Rica

WHile traveling…

Planning a trip can be overwhelming. Still, following these four tips will help you start your journey. The internet is full of resources that will enlighten your path. Taking into consideration our travel partners, the culture of the place to visit and our interests will help us set the foundations for our vacations. I believe anyone can do this without the help of an agency, yet, there is never harm in asking and informing ourselves. I started out with an crazy “week-day” idea that transformed from a simple dream into reality. Thus, I believe that you, who also came out from your shift and are sitting in the living room reading this can do the same. Just remember the most important thing while traveling: have fun!