Posted in Tips and Tricks, Travel

Thailand Smells of Rain and Curry: Part 3

Once again I’ve skipped out on another week of posts. Fortunately or unfortunately I’ve been enjoying life entirely too much to keep everyone posted. But don’t you worry because once the move to Sweden happens (Thursday) I’ll have a lot more time on my hands. Moving to a town with 9000 is sure to provide plenty of time to blog/Netflix/read/grad school.

BUT I have for you such a treat, Ricky Bobby aka the bestie has graciously written her hilarious rendition of our Thailand adventures and or fails. So sit back and laugh/enjoy/mentally picture all of the below.

Fall, Jump, Repeat: Directions for a Thailand Adventure

Step 1: Fall

Let me start by saying, I would consider myself a person of average balance and athletic abilities—not necessarily graceful or efficient with movement strategies but definitely safe. With this is in mind, I signed IJ, Al, and myself up for a 3-day trek to be full of elephants, waterfalls, bamboo huts, and whitewater rafting. My last experience with a trek, about 14 weeks ago, was in the rainforest off the Gold Coast of Australia. An elderly gentleman with a single-tip cane and a gait pattern that suggested a history of falls safely accompanied us on that “trek.” This man would not have made it onto the covered truck bed the Chiang Mai adventure company was trying to pass off as a bus.

I realize there are unpleasant things about being outdoors. I’m perfectly capable of handling a bug or two and believe it or not I don’t melt in the rain. These small pains are tolerable especially when rewarded with enchanting views. The hike up the mountain took approximately 3 hours. A fellow trekker broke out her inhaler at least 10 times. Tommy our guide and flip-flop enthusiast slowed the pace to allow for medical rest breaks. At every rest break IJ and I were eaten alive by mosquitos until the torrential downpour. At this point in time, I noticed my well-researched and highly-rated hiking sandals were shit in slick conditions. An hour later, we made it to our bamboo hut. We all sat in awe staring out from the top of the world at peace on earth.

With the memory of the asthma-inducing hike up the mountain fresh on our minds we decided to opt out of the extra day of hiking and modify our trek to 2 days. I quickly realized the hike down the mountain was going to be unpleasant. I fell and fell and fell. After the third fall, Douglas, a Dutch boy with 5 walking sticks in hand and elephant pants on body, decided to comment on the poor traction of my researched hiking sandals. I did not appreciate his feedback. After my fifth fall, we made it to the elephant sanctuary/whitewater rafting venue. The elephants were majestic and the rafting was enjoyable in a “this might not be entirely safe” kind of way.

Step 2:

From the edge of the Chiang Mai Grand Canyon, you hear your subconscious say back the truck away from this cliff. The Chiang Mai Grand Canyon is a red quarry where tourists with go-pros jump, flip, and occasionally die off of cliffs. Seriously, the 10m cliff was closed due to a recent death. Luckily for us the 7m cliff was available.

I was the first to jump. After minutes of tip-toeing to the edge and multiple heart attacks, I half-heartedly hopped off the cliff with the worst form imaginable. I broke water in a sitting position with my left elbow winging. Despite the instant bruising of my elbow and my recent enema, I felt proud. Do you know what separates the proud and heckling from the terrified and frozen? 7 meters. Ij jumped next. She was followed by the heard of bleached Aussies and their go-pros. An hour later a kind gentleman talked Al off the ledge. We all agreed once was enough for a lifetime and left the cliff to the fearless and quite possibly crazy.

**When I say my adventures with Ricky are always a good time I mean it. We’ve been so lucky to travel as much as we have already and I’m so looking forward to so many more trips. Hopefully within the year we’ll be telling you tales of beautiful Greecian Islands.

Ever Wanderlusting,

IJ & Ricky

Posted in Tips and Tricks, Travel

Thailand Smells of Rain and Curry Pt. 2

Almost two weeks late is better than never. The second half of our Thailand Adventure consisted of traveling through the bustling city of Bangkok and beautiful island of Koh Samui. After a successful few days in Chiang Mai we felt as though we had this backpacking thing under control. Little did we know what was in store for us the days ahead. Quickly knocking myself back down to novice traveller status, this post will be all about must don’ts when traveling through Thailand.

  1. Don’t Get Scammed.

Okay so apparently this is a pretty common occurrence in the bustling city of Bangkok that all three of us (Ricky, Cousin Al, and I) were blatantly unaware of. After getting a tuk tuk (open-air cab) to our hostel (Here Hostel 9.5 out of 10 stars) we quickly set out to get some breakfast and wander around town on our own agenda. Walking towards our first destination we stumbled upon a huge temple we wanted to go check out. As we walked into the temple, a man that seemed to be a guard informed us that the temple was closed due to the death of it’s monk. He told us to instead go take a boat ride through the canals, see a “floating market”, then hop off and go to the Grand Temple and Big Buddha. It sounded too good to be true, he even hailed a tuk tuk for us and advised us to ask the boat driver about stopping by the original “Black Buddha” during our ride. So off we went on a new adventure seeking out the Black Buddha. Halfway through our boat ride Cousin Al started to get a little suspicious of the situation. Once the reluctant driver stopped at the “Black Buddha” after we agreed to tip him, Al did some investigating and found another group that got scammed into seeing “Black Buddha” as well. The picture of the fake temple he was looking at on his phone was the exact thing we were seeing before us with our very own eyes. The “Black Buddha” we saw was literally painted black then back to gold and the floating market turned out to be one lady in a boat trying to sell us awful souvenirs. All this to say, don’t get scammed in bangkok. People will try to turn you away from temples or offer rides to temples far off. Do your research, plan your day, and stick to the plan! Although this scam really wasn’t the worst in the world we could’ve used the extra 1500 baht on a drink for the hot summer day.

  1. Don’t bargain with Taxi Drivers.

Getting around bangkok on public transportation depending on your location can be difficult. Most tourists rely on tuk tuks or taxis to tote them around. 99.9 percent of the time these drivers will give you a price that is inflated 3 or 4 times over what the meter should tell you. When getting a taxi, always ask the driver if they’ll use the meter, if they won’t they are pretty much trying to rip you off. Depending on the time of day, your patience level, and your bank account, of course bargaining for a taxi ride might do. But for “backpacking” always stick to meter taxis or try your luck with the public buses and metro.

  1. Don’t miss out of the Night Markets.

Night markets are filled with the best food and shopping you could ever imagine. We decided to try out the Ratchada Night Train Market and were not disappointed by our choice. Delicious and cheap food followed by shopping galore. Anything that you could ever want to get as a souvenir or a knock off whatever is at the night market. Don’t miss out on the deals and make sure you bring an empty stomach to match.

4. Don’t skip Ayutthaya

It was 7am when our van came to pick us up for the tour we booked through Here Hostel to Ayutthaya. The van was already packed full and Ericka and I got the pleasure of riding shottie for what we thought would be an hour long drive. 10 minutes later we stopped and our Thai hosts told us to get out. We stood on a curb and waited. And waited. They filled up a van that was headed to Ayutthaya but for some reason our party of three didn’t make the cut so we waited so more as it began to rain. About 20-30 minutes later another van came that we were graciously allowed to embark upon. Low and behold Ericka and I were picked as the chosen ones once more to sit in the front “seats”. After a 45 minute or so drive we finally arrived in Ayutthaya. The stress of the morning was more than worth it because of it’s beauty. The city was once the capital of Thailand but had been burned down after multiple attacks. If you are traveling through Thailand and making a stop in Bangkok a day trip to Ayutthaya is more than worth it, the only advice I would have would be to make the trip on your own. The “tour” that we paid for started late and ended early, was not in the least bit professional and I think making the trip on our own would have been better money wise and time wise.

  1. Don’t go to China Town on an Empty Stomach.

After a long day of adventuring and not having so much time in bangkok, we decided to spend one of our evenings in China Town before hitting up a night market. We planned to go to a very high rated but local Thai restaurant near our hotel and then walk down to China Town. Dinner was delicious but we were more than stuffed. After our mile or two walk down to China Town we were expecting to see market stalls and things to buy. Low and behold China Town is more of a eating toursit spot than a shopping one. The food stalls and open air restaurants looked absolutely delicious. Unfortunately, the only thing Cousin Al and I had room for in our stomachs was durian. (If you go to Thailand or Asia in general you have to try Durian and let me know your thoughts!). All this to say when making the trip to China Town go with an empty stomach and prepare to stuff it full with delicious oriental food.

6. Don’t miss out on the last Resort.

After 3 days of being bamboozled in Bangkok Ericka and I (Cousin Al had to cut his vacation short and go back to real life) were so looking forward to our time on the beautiful island of Koh Samui. We (and by we I mean I) chose the cheaper option of flying into Surat Thani taking a bus to the ferry, taking a ferry ride to Koh Samui, and then taking a van to our hostel. This resulted in a 7 or so hour voyage from Bangkok to the Island which was building up our expectations even more. Upon arrival at the hostel our mouths dropped. We pulled up to what looked like a run down shop and was greeted by a boy with an Ipod. He found our reservations and walked us through the office out into what looked like peoples’ homes and into one building with a finger print lock. He walked us into our newest dorm room and my heart sank. The room was huge with numerous beds all empty aside from one other fellow traveller who was out at the time. There was however a guy “fixing” the bathroom/shower that informed us that the shower was broken and everyone would be sharing the bathroom upstairs (the terror). We sat on our beds and Ericka’s mattress was literally the height of a piece of paper, there was dirt all over the floor, and once Ericka returned from the run down bathroom she had been eaten alive by a mosquito. After 7 hours of traveling to get to a beautiful island to relax after a week of jungle trekking and city hopping to say my expectations were not met was an understatement. We decided to head out and get some dinner neither one of us expressing our feelings about the hostel. In the middle of dinner I couldn’t take it any longer and told Ericka I needed to get out of that horror house. She agreed and what happened the next two hours I’m not proud of. At dinner we booked a 4 star resort equipped with 4 pools and 3 bars with their own beach. We are horrible people. We went back to the hostel and planned to sneak out but were stopped by one of the guys working at the hostel informing us of the night out everyone was attending. He was so nice. Despite the great hospitality of the hostel we were determined to get out of there. We waited until the group left for their night of partying and snuck out. With our 12kg bags to tote we began the one mile walk of shame to our new home. One thing was quickly discovered. We are resort girls. One of the wonderful things about backpacking in Thailand is that luxuries are still “cheap” by American standards. Our resort was only 50 bucks a night which was well worth what we got out of it. When traveling cheap abroad, especially as a backpacker, go for hostels they are a GREAT experience. But for the last leg of the trip, or for a beach destination “splurge” a little bit and you won’t ever regret that money spent.

Backpacking through Thailand with my cousin and best friend is a memory and time that I will never forget. It can easily be called the highlight of my summer because of all of the amazing adventures we experienced. Up next a trip to the states to see family and friends followed by a quick stint in Copenhagen. After that, I’ll be taking my three suitcases and loading them on to a train to Sweden to start my next chapter of life.

Ever Wanderlusting,

IJ

Posted in Tips and Tricks, Travel

Thailand Smells of Curry & Rain Pt. 1

***panada intro music****

Temples. Temples. Temples. Temples temples temples temples temples. If there’s one thing that you can do in Chiang Mai it’s temple hop. Other blogs had warned of getting “templed out” and I thought certainly not. But even though I eventually did get “templed out” I thought it was well worth it so for this weeks’ blog I’m taking on a Must-do style with tales in between. Enjoy!
1. Get “templed out”!

The beauty the majesty, the Buddhas, the monks, the buddhas, the temple, the monks? Wait haven’t we already seen this one? Okay, towards the end all of the “Wats” start to blend together but I say give it a day. Devote one day to walking around The Old City, wandering into temples you pass, hopping on tuk tuks offering temple trips, but realize when you’ve reached your temple limit. Towards the end of our temple day we were definitely scratching our heads wondering if we’ve seen this one before but in the beginning each one was beautiful and unique on its own. Should I see every temple? Impossible my dear Sherlock. Then should I go to any? YES. You should definitely visit the temples of Chiang Mai!

2. Take a hike!

This one I will warn you is NOT for the faint hearted. Prior to the trip Ericka heard of trekking trips leaving out of Chiang Mai and Alvin was as enthusiastic as Ricky to sign right up. For those of you that don’t know me I’m kind of a not so tom boy tom boy. I say I don’t like adventurous things but am constantly partaking in them (i.e. Skydiving in Wollongong, Australia). To my kind of chagrin we signed up for a two night three day excursion through the jungles of Mae Tae with plans to stay overnight in Lahu Village (night 1) and an Elephant Camp (night 2). There were a group of 7 of us led uphill and then treacherously downhill (4 falls down a mountain with only a few bruises to show- said Ericka) by our tour guide Tommy. Tommy was super nice and helpfulish. Every time we asked sweet Tommy how far to our next destination he would say “only 9 minutes”, “between 19 and 29 minutes”, or “we’ll be there in about 39 minutes”. Is Tommy afraid that saying a round number would throw us over the edge? What is his obsession with 9s? As English as a second language does he just think that numbers ending in 9 is rounding? Either way a Tommy 9 trekking through the jungle in actual Old Navy flip flops was a group 20 decked out in hiking boots, tennies, and sandals. After about 3 hours and 9 minutes, with a pit stop at a waterfall slide, we made it to our destination. Lahu village was what you would expect: no electricity, outhouse bathrooms/showers, dirt everywhere, mosquitos more than everywhere but the view was everything. Trekking through the rain (two phones were lost..RIP sweet iPhones), getting 1236272 and 9 mosquito bites, and taking countless steps was well worth it. The next day was a whole other story.

Some of our fellow travelers planned to only do the 1 night 2 day trek and after discovering that the difference between ours and theirs was a 5 hour trek day, we quickly switched teams (much to my excitement). The day would be full of activities, white aka brown river rafting, bamboo rafting, elephant showering, plus another waterfall. The only catch is, in order to get to all these “fun” activities, one must hike down the mountain you just went up after it POURED the day/night before (hence Ericka’s 4 falls). The whole time I was wondering if it was a joke and how they just allow people (NARPs) to sign up for this. One girl in our group literally tumbled down the mountain (she’s okay, just had some nasty scratches on both of her legs). I’m two-a-days sore right now and don’t ever want to see another jungle again. Did I enjoy the experience? Yes…ish. Would I do it again? Probably because I’m crazy. Should all physically capable people traveling to Chiang Mai partake? YES, just don’t forget your bug spray and to train like you were doing an Iron Man before.

3. Take a leap!

Remember that time I pretended not to be adventurous? Here’s another contradiction for you. Just 30 minutes outside of Chiang Mai lies the “Grand Canyon” or “Red Rock Quarry” of the ancient city. Rent a taxi (600baht total) or for the more daring a motorcycle and the voyage is more than worth it. The scenery is beautiful with the main attraction being “cliff diving” into the canyons’ blueish but really green waters. My understanding is used to be that you could jump from anywhere without regulation. Due to a recent death, there is now one “jump area” and a plethora of “do not jump areas”. Despite many Thai people warning us of the dangers of jumping we took the leap anyway. Let me reassure you, it is more than safe. Ericka was first to go (of course) and severely impacted her gluteus Maximus, pretty hysterical. Just my cousin aka Alvin aka second best travel partner ever were left atop that 7 meter drop. Fortunately or unfortunately we were raised in an extremely unadventurous family, making us extremely un-prone to participating in dangerous frivolous activities. About 15 minutes after Ericka jumped I made the leap and boy was it worth it. The jump itself was horrifying but the water felt amazing. However I must warn you the jump changes you. .5 seconds ago I was horrified, scared, contemplating life and wondering what’s the point in jumping??? Fast forward 1.5 seconds to now as I lay gracefully upon my bamboo raft in the warm water fearless and confident while laughing and heckling at the cowards above. My cousin gave Ericka and I about 45 minutes of being horrible people as we laughed watching ten to twenty, twenty something college backpackers, take the leap as he paced anxiously forward and back. After the long wait and the efforts of people far nicer than Ericka and I encouraging Alvin one guy managed to help him of the ledge. Would I jump again? Since the probability of me ever being back on that cliff is slim to zero, yes. Was the time out there worth it? Definitely.

4. Meet some strangers!

From a very young age our parents instill a fear of strangers and the concept of “stranger danger”. As a 20 something, I say throw it all out of the window!!! Just kidding. Of course you should ALWAYS use discretion and be wise when traveling, especially aware of pick pocketers and thieves. But when backpacking, some of the best memories are made with strangers, enter stage left: Ed. Ed was a dorm
mate Ericka, Alvin, and I met at our first hostel (out of 3). Ed was a south Australian, meat head with little man syndrome, long blonde hair, and always shirtless, he was also very outgoing and friendly. One of my fondest memories of Ed is him borrowing my stick of mosquito repellent within 1 minute of meeting me, rubbing it all over his body, and then leaving the room. Cool Ed. My second fondest would be him jumping off the top bunk at about 6 am (after “whispering” with his travel buddy for about an hour) stubbing his toe and hopping around the room “silently” as I got my ab workout in for the day. When we left Brickhouse Hostel (7 out of 10 stars) we were sad to say goodbye to Ed. Alvin even titled his insta picture “goodbye Ed, you won’t be missed”. Low and behold in the middle of the jungle Alvin glances in the back of a speeding truck and sees “Ed”. Yah right Ericka and I believed him not at all and thought what are the odds. 1 hour later as we float down the river in our raft a shorter, tan, meat head looking man in a hut is cheering on passerbys and waving his arms. “Omg is that seriously Ed?” I say. “That’s definitely the same guy as in the truck” says Ericka. “It’s Ed!” Says Alvin. No freaking way, right? 6 hours later after heading back to the city, checking into our new hostel (Sunny Hostel 8 out of 10 stars), and strolling down the street in a new neighborhood we glance into bars, shops, and restaurants as we walk by and who do we see. Ed. “Ed did you raft today?? Were you yelling at people from a bamboo hut??” Please say no? yes and yes and not no. What are the odds!!!! Needless to say, Ed will be a character I remember as part of my Chiang Mai trip. We also met the nicest girl from Romania, a hilarious guy from Holland, and a friendly and informative guy from Germany to name a few. Should I make friends with my dormmates? Yes! Don’t be shy, you’ll probably end up hanging out with them or at the least getting some good travel insight. Will I keep in touch with any “strangers”? Probably not. But I am Facebook friends with some of them and will get pictures from them of our memories together! Do I hope to see Ed again? Hard yes.

Although the there are much more things to do in Chiang Mai and so much more that we experienced, these four things are a great starter point for creating wonderful memories of your travels in Chiang Mai. For now as I lay in my Bangkok express sleeper bed I’ll say goodbye and goodnight from somewhere in Thailand.

Ever Wanderlusting,

IJ

***Other noteworthy activities include: The Sunday Night Market, Zoe in the Yellow Club Area, Massages, massages, and more massages, and of course trying the local foods.

Posted in Tips and Tricks, Travel

Full Steam Ahead

It’s officially the middle of June and I’m currently thousands of feet in the air starting my Asian adventure. First stop Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for my cousin Melanie’s wedding, second stop Johor Bahru (momma’s stomping grounds) to visit family and more wedding celebrations, then the real adventure begins when Ricky Bobby aka Ericka aka best travel partner in crime ever arrives for our backpacking trip through Thailand stopping in Chiang Mai (stop 3), Bangkok (stop 4), and koh samui (stop 5). Color me freaking excited. Although I am extremely ready to take off for the summer and see loved ones, there’s definitely people and things to be missed in Denmark.

This past week was one full of almost lasts. My week was consumed with maybe last shifts, maybe last meals, so much packing, and a lot of time at my home away from home away from room. Since I’ll be back in Denmark in about 3 weeks I couldn’t quite say that it would be my last kebab, or paradis ice cream cone or magnum ice cream bar but hopefully because of the whole professional athlete thing (training will be in full swing come July!!!) it was. I was able to enjoy the company of some of my favorites Danes this week in various groups.

My first “goodbye for now” was with some of the girly pops, Staph, Sarah aka sweater girl, Niko and I. We all met up for delicious burgers, Ben and Jerry ice cream shakes and great conversation. It’s funny how you don’t realize you miss something until you experience it again. This was definitely the case with these hilarious, sweet 20 somethings that entertain this dang near 30 year old as a friend. We were able to catch up on what was new with each of us and share excitement over upcoming graduations, new volleyball team commitments, and summer travel plans

My next “goodbye for now” was with my Bopa girls, Kirstine, Anjou, and Sidse. More burgers, no shakes but sweet potato fries in place, and homemade red velvet cake courtesy of Kirstine. This group of girls have become my closet bopsters and I am so happy to be able to call them friends. Although we all have completely different personalities and backgrounds and are all in different stages in life, we still seem to be able to discuss life with each other while laughing at nothing. These relationships have become so precious that I’ll even be attending Kirstine’s wedding in August with the tiny two (Anjou and Sidse aka miniature people).

Last but not least my time at the Staal/Alstrup garden aka home away from home away from Room has been nothing short of hyggeligt. One of my most entertaining days at their home came midweek when I was in a direct face off with the house polar bear aka dog aka great Bernaise aka the biggest dog I’ve ever seen in my ENTIRE life. I had been laying out during the day and needed to get going to the gym before work later on in the day, Dasher (said polar bear) needed to come back into the house so I could leave. As I’ve mentioned Dasher is an actual giant so getting him back into the house by force isn’t really an option. Those of you closet to me know I’m not the biggest big dog person (everyone relax I’m still a “dog person” just not obsessed like most girls). After an hour of teasing with treats, sweet dog whispers, and pretending to leave in the hopes he would come inside. I gave in and gave him a treat anyways no one not even me could resist his precious puppy dog eyes. Dasher is the cutest sweetest dog in the entire world, in this moment, as we had our Mexican standoff, I wanted to give him all the treats in the world and punch him in the face at the same time. Ultimately I tricked him onto his feet with a treat, grabbed his collar, and walked him back indoors. Even though I was victorious two hours later, really Dasher won by the fact that he had two extra hours outside and I had two hours less to workout. Good news is I’ll be dog sitting Dasher while the family goes on vacation, until next time polar bear.

Along with good times with Dasher there were more delicious meals and great conversations. I’ll be forever thankful for the way that the Staal/Alstrup family has welcomed me into there home and don’t know how I would’ve survived without them post season.

For now I’ll be adventuring through some of what I’m anticipating will be the most exciting and beautiful cities I’ll get to experience.

Ever wanderlusting,

IJ

Posted in Life Abroad, Tips and Tricks, Travel

Let the Good Times Roll

In the wake of finding my new adventure slash team slash life, I had another exciting event coming up to look forward to. IRELAND. Ireland with Casey aka my best red headed friend was everything I had hoped it would be and so much more.

Beer, Irish music, and pork ensued and I could not have been happier. Casey as I’ve mentioned is one of my most hilarious friends, so the weekend guaranteed tons of laughs. She caught me up on her life, I caught her up on mine, all during the process of making new memories.

Dublin wasn’t quite what we expected. Like most other popular European destinations it has become overrun with tour vans, backpackers, and overpriced restaurants. Nonetheless if you search hard enough you’ll find old Irish pubs, friendly locals, and beautiful sights.

The highlight of our stay in Dublin would have to be our visit to The Cobblestone Pub. Although our time there was short (closed an hour after we got there, apparently Casey and I have gotten accustomed to 4am last calls and Irishmen aren’t down for that) it was extremely entertaining watching Casey gawk over a fellow redhead. Okay, okay, before all the Dubliners kill me this wasn’t actually the best part about Dublin just most entertaining. The cobblestone is a tiny pub away from bustling downtown Dublin, a somewhat hidden gem that plays live Irish music “till late” every night. Casey had taken a fancy to one of the bartenders and I had never witnessed her get this shy literally EVER (our close friends and family can vouch for this, her signature dance move is shimmeying through horrified strangers legs). Needless to say I was fully entertained, I also wondered how many times she had paralyzed guys like this one had paralyzed her.

After a few days in Dublin with Darby aka Casey’s little sister aka my little sister, featuring visits to Dublin Castle, Jameson Distillery, Dubh lin Castle Garden and a funny highlight of our sweet little sister ordering shots of bailey’s at a bar (comical), Casey and I ventured off the beaten road (literally). We decided to rent a car and drive cross country to Doolin, Ireland. We would visit the Cliffs of Moher, soak in the charm of western Ireland countryside, take a short stop in Galway and head back to Dublin for our last night in Ireland.

Our adventure started when we tried to find the car rental place. It was literally so far from the airport and hidden, like they don’t want our business hidden. A man smoking outside had to point us in the right direction and had done the same for the couple ahead of us. Upon arrival I told them they need to start paying that man, which they made no reply to. Once we got settled into our little Ford Focus we were off for adventure.

Being the smart Texan women we are we got a GPS aka Helen in our car and set off to Doolin. The only problem was that Helen wanted us to take a route we didn’t want to take. After thinking I outsmarted her we made it through the yelling about wrong turns and began to follow her instructions once again. Little did we know she was just guiding us through a U-turn back to the highway we didn’t want to take. But being the two strong willed Texan women we are we u-turned again only to be stopped in bumper to bumper traffic for about an hour. Casey aka Helen’s new best friend mentioned that maybe the traffic is why Helen aka the GPS from hell, was telling us to go the other way, I chose to believe that both Helen and Casey were delusional.

3 u-turns, 5 roundabouts, and 2 ice cream bars later we were on our way. 3 hours of smooth sailing and good music ensued. Such good music and smooth sailing that we missed the one turn we were supposed to make. Luckily, we had Helen to reroute us and give us a new road to venture down is what I wish I could have said. Helen made us turn on a road that was more like a West Texas backcountry road, I’m talking Potosi tiny West Texas town this is actually someone’s backyard I’m driving through kinda road. The terror that occurred for the next hour is something I don’t wish upon anyone. Have I mentioned that we were driving on the other side of the road on the other side of the car and that my driver aka Casey aka Tahoe Casey aka HORRIFYING DRIVER was behind the wheel?

After driving down this tiny dirt road for about 1 hour I realize that the window to check in to the hotel was rapidly closing. Our hostel had a reception closing time of 830, having left Dublin around 330 for the trip we thought we would make it in plenty of time but after the uturns and the roundabouts and the ice creams time was not on our side. Casey, as terrifying as it may be, put the pedal to the metal and we made it to the hostel with 2 minutes to spare.

After checking in we made a quick turnaround and headed straight for the Cliffs of Moher to catch the sunset. After hours is the time to go, no packs of crowds, no long lines for pictures, so much peace and quiet (aside from two annoying girls from Texas…) and so much space. Beautiful. The Cliffs have officially made it on my “top 5 God’s most beautiful creations that I have ever seen” list. Getting to be on the top of that cliff, with one of my oldest and dearest best friends is a memory I will cherish and hold forever.

The journey back was a lot less nerve wrecking as our stop in Galway was absolutely charming plus we made no wrong turns giving us plenty of time to spare before returning the car. If there was a place to visit in Ireland for an expected “authentic” experience it would definitely be the western coast. In Galway we walked along the pedestrian street filled with street performers and old pubs, stopped for a drink and lunch, and popped in and out of the souvenir shops and clothing stores, it was exactly what we wanted.

Upon arriving back in Dublin the adventure didn’t stop. We had run fresh out of euro and couldn’t pay the bus fair which meant renting a taxi and having him stop at an ATM on the way. Good news is he was Nigerian (shoutout),super friendly, and extremely nice. Even better news the new hostel we booked for our last night was the bomb. If you ever find yourself making a trip to Dublin stay at the Generator Hostel, for real.

In IJ & Casey style we made a grand entrance into the hostel. All the rooms we booked we decided to do mixed dorms to save the most amount of money but with bathrooms in the room, we aren’t complete barbarians. In the previous dorms we had always been abruptly woken up at odd hours by new roommates and snuck around precariously to avoid disturbing others.

This time was different. We came into the room and the lights were off, someone was napping. We were, first off, talking as we walked in, then upon realizing someone was sleeping we apologized to others in their group, then the door slammed behind me, we apologized more. We were both horrified, half laughing half feeling bad, Casey then goes to the bathroom and accidentally switches on the dorm light rather than the bathroom light. Icing on the cake. We were officially the worst roommates ever. Thankfully the guys didn’t think so and we ended up meeting them for drinks later and entirely too many rounds of the “what are the odds” game.

All in all Ireland was delightful. I’m extremely happy to cross another destination off of my ever growing list of places to see in this big beautiful world. Getting to take these trips with lifelong friends just makes them that much sweeter.

Up next is my trip to Asia coming up in 1 week?!?! I know, shocking, time flies when I suck at writing once a week. I also have the most exciting news in the whole entire world…momma I’m coming home. Originally I was planning on making it home for Christmas this year but when that wasn’t a possibility with my new teams schedule I was staring at spending possibly a year and a half without stepping on Texas soil. I’m sad to be sacrificing time with my new Danish peeps but am so happy to be able to go home and eat tacos. Jk see family and friends and play in spike fest (huge outdoor grass tournament) and eat tacos.

Until næste uge (next week), ever Wanderlusting,

IJ

Posted in Guest Posts, Life Abroad, Tips and Tricks

D’s guide to Surviving Roommates

Hi Friends!!

I’m super excited this week because my wonderful newfound twin has written this week’s blog post. I’ll give a few life updates at the end of her post but get ready to enjoy D’s/Ebola’s/my wonderful insight on how to survive roommates overseason or home side..

As a professional volleyball player living abroad, you have to get used to the idea that you don’t always have the final say in the details of your life. Your living arrangements is one of those details that can make a huge difference. If you don’t already know, the club we play for has lovingly provided us a spacious room suitable for 1 or maybe 2 people. My roommate Ijeoma (aka IJ aka DJ aka pain in the neck) then just ask me about her, you will be surprised how fast you can learn about someone when you live face to face with them 24/7. Room has enough space for 2 beds, a table, tiny kitchen area, bathroom, and closet we like to think is a “walk-in”. Please don’t get me wrong! I love IJ and Room but I’ll let you in on how to survive and make the best of a situation like this. That’s what roommates are right? Two people with a mutual agreement to survive under the same roof.

Space

We all need it. Give it. Receive it. Maybe in the states we would usually say a roommate might be someone you share a house or apartment with but that is not the case here. Room is the place where I can wake up, get ready for my day, cook, relax, and work all with IJ no more than 6 feet away from me at all times. No wonder we have morphed into the same person. Learn what the best way is to give each other space. In the case of DJ and Room, put on your headphones and go about your business while still tagging each other in amusing Facebook posts.

Understand

There are things you will not understand. No matter how much you have in common there’s bound to be things that seem completely irregular to you. For example, there is something called mother that my roommate washes her face with (you’ll have to ask her about this one). Could it bother me that there is  strange, discolored goo in a jar on our bathroom sink? Yes. But I understand that this is her home too, she should be free to do what she wants.

Refrain

Such an underestimated concept. Use your best judgement for this but there will be times to just DON’T. Don’t tell your roommate that her obsession for the Danish style rolls with jam and cheese is excessive (learned that the hard way). Don’t take the Facetime call from your friends or family from home at 1 am when the other is trying to sleep. Don’t take pictures of any strange habits your roommate has. Sometimes the best action is no action and your roommate will be thankful you didn’t.

Voice

As with any relationship, communication can be about anything and everything and is definitely necessary. It’s important to be able to talk about the latest episode of whatever show we are watching but also be able to go on and on about whatever is happening with life whether that’s something like family, work or volleyball. By the way, one regular season match left this Sunday and then we start playoffs, send good playing vibes our way!

Invite

You should be able to feel like time spent together is time well spent. Inviting your roommate to join in whatever it is that you are doing can only make things better. Something like inviting your roommate to sign up for a Danish language class so you can struggle together is perfect bonding. In case you were wondering vi snakker lidt dansk nu so feel free to test our skills.

Value

Appreciate them for their similarities and differences. Be grateful for the little things! I have grown to like my roommate’s love for wine. I love the fact that both of us love to get kebabs at all hours of the night with The Twin Towers- Evyn and Amanda. And what would I do without someone to let me back in our room when I lose my key. Take the time to thank your roommate for being them and for whatever they do for you, thanks Ijeoma!

Enjoy

You have to enjoy any situation and moment you’re in while it’s still here. So far in this room here abroad I have learned to enjoy my experience for whatever it is. And really, how can either of us can complain? Okay, so we are both in our mid-twenties one of us dang near 30 and have had serious conversations about making bunk beds to save space and I’m sure we spend way too much time together for it to be healthy. But we are getting to live our dream of playing professional volleyball and we are doing it in a great city. We have the opportunity to travel and experience new cultures. We have made great friends who are like family and we have some of the coolest teammates (shout out to LIVE girlypops!). And I’m just going to assume that all the loved ones back home are a little jealous that our roommates are the ones that get to experience this part of our lives with a front row seat. So if you ask me, this Room with this roommate is a pretty good way to survive.  

-D/Ebola/DJ

There you have it! Tools to survive living in a room with another human being that isn’t your significant other or sibling. Coming into this experience both of us were expecting to live alone in an apartment but D put my feelings of the current situation best, “this Room with this roommate is a pretty good way to survive”.

Biggest update to scream at the top of every rooftop would be Ricky Bobby aka Ericka aka best partner in crime EVER booked her roundtrip flight to Singapore. This summer my wonderful cousin Melanie gets married in Malaysia where I will be reunited with my mom and dad. Naturally, I invited Ricky Bobby to join for the tail end of the wedding festivities and then partake in backpacking around Thailand? or maybe Cambodia. We don’t really know. All I know is that Ericka will be in waiting for me in Singapore on June 23rd and I should probably go ahead and book a flight to make sure I’m their too.

Coming up this week for us we have a huge match Sunday vs #4 Amager. Unfortunately last week our team hit another snag and lost to the #5 team in the league Aarhus in 5 sets, after being down 7-1 in the fifth set we came back to almost win but fell short at 13-15. If we win the match on Sunday we will hold onto our #3 spot and if we lose Amager goes up and we go down. We’ve been working hard in the gym this week and are ready to defend our spot going into March playoffs.

Following the game on Sunday I have a personalfest aka staff party at Cafe Bopa. The owners of my Cafe also own two other restaurants/bars in Copenhagen so we are all getting together on the owners tab..with that being said wish both the girly pops and I luck with the game and my liver luck as it celebrates sweet victory with old and new friends.

Ever Wanderlusting,

IJ

Posted in Life Abroad, Tips and Tricks, Travel

BEST WEEK EVER

oh em gee. You guys, I’ve literally never laughed as much as I have in the past week and change. The arrival of Ricky Bobby (aka Ericka aka the best partner in crime EVER) was just the beginning of tons of fun so here are the highlights of our first week together.

Almost a little over a week ago in the wee hours of the morning I set off to go pick up Ricky from the airport, in what started off my most snapped (snap chat heavy) week ever documented. I got to the airport about 20 minutes after her plane landed and anxiously waited at the doors for arrivals. And waited. And waited. So long that her flight disappeared from the list of flights that had received baggage. Oh crap. My initial thought was that I’ve lost her forever and that her parents were going to KILL ME. Being the genius people we are, we made no contingency plan for emergencies and both our phones have a tendency to die at inopportune times. So I think, if I were Ricky what would I do. First I check starbucks (she’s pretty basic and will admit to it), which I really thought would be the winner, no luck. Then (thank heavens) I remember the text I sent her before she took off on the last leg of her trip. I had said, “go straight out of the doors DO NOT go left, DO NOT go right, just straight out and I’ll be there.”  So then I proceed to go straight back from the gates, through the crowds of people, past the restaurants, and check in desks, literally so far straight that I could not go any further and to great avail there she was. SO HAPPY. Literally pure joy erupted and I was so glad that  1. I didn’t lose her, 2. She was safe in my arms and 3. MY BEST FRIEND WAS STARING BACK AT MY FACE IN REAL LIFE. That was literally the perfect beginning to the trip for our beautifully backwards friendship.

Our first day consisted of breakfast at my humble abode, me cooking, Ericka lounging around (per usual), a bike ride to Grundtvigs Kirke, a beautiful church I discovered thanks to B (second Tinder date), stroll through what we thought was a park but turned out to be a cemetery…, Frederiksberg Have (Park), a quick coffee break to defrost our limbs, then back to Lyngby (my hood) for open gym with the girls from my team that were in town for the holidays as well as the guys from our Mens Elite team. I would like to say that Ericka enjoyed this day, but between the biking, and the full blown practice led by Dennis the Serbian (Men’s coach) she was feeling pretty frozen and sore by the end of it. At one point during practice she literally could not open her hands. And I don’t want to say too much (Ericka is writing a guest post next week about her experience YAY) but let’s just say I just about died when she asked me “how to start this thing” in reference to her bike.

The next day we went for the best morning buffet in Copenhagen at Cafe Bopa (my workplace) and for the Canal Boat Tour from Nyhavn. It was fun for me to get to show Ericka around what I now call home, and to get to be a tourist again. I do have to say that my favorite part about touring was taking pictures of Ericka taking pictures of Copenhagen. At one point I convinced her to completely open our window in the boat and stand up because she should “definitely see Church of Our Lady Savior from outside” (in 30 F degree weather), it was wonderful. We finished up the day by doing a completely touristy 20 something year old thing to do and joined a Pub Crawl (adults that love and care about me don’t judge us!). Although pub crawls draw pretty bad assumptions, I’ve personally found that they are such a good way to meet people from all over the world especially in a foreign city. Getting to have conversations and laughs with people from different walks of life is my favorite thing, and that is something that is guaranteed by going on a pub crawl. Plus you get to see parts of the new city. Let’s just call it an adult night time walking and laughing tour. Anyways, the adult night time walking and laughing tour was a great time, we did meet people from all over including the Netherlands, Canada and California (of all places!). But Ricky Bobby and I always have a good time so this night was no surprise. We got back home around 4 am, I snapped (snap chatted) Ricky Bobby laying next to me in my roommates bed and thought all was right in the world.

Fast forward a day and we make the regrettable decision to stay up ALL night until our 7a.m. flight to Berlin. Really I don’t know what were we thinking but all I know is that my 26 year old self cannot pull all nighters like my 21 year old self could. (Okay, okay I lied, who am I kidding…I never pulled all nighters studying in college so this was a first for me). But this all ended up being for nothing since at about 2am I remember I forgot my passport at my apartment, which lead to my 900 and something danish kroner (over $120 usd) taxi ride back to my apartment and to the airport *face to palm*. We immediately passed out on the plane, got to Casey’s apartment and went back to sleep for about 6 hours. The best part about this whole thing is that I also forgot the air mattress at my apartment so I was able to get it when we went back for my passport which helped me feel not so bad about my hefty taxi ride. We get to Casey’s and we think to blow it up with a hair dryer. In my zombie like state I attempt to do so and the hair dryer is so stinking hot that it LITERALLY melts the hole to the air mattress…making me wait a few seconds to put the cap on, releasing the hot hot hot air that I just put it in, but at least I got to sleep on the “air mattress”(air mattress=floor).

Berlin was my first travel adventure to go on in this new season of life and it did not disappoint. Casey my beautiful red headed best friend was my host, and along with Ricky Bobby and Sam (Casey’s friend from college) the laughs did not stop. We could’ve literally been sitting in an apartment in the tiniest West Texas town and still had a freaking blast because of how funny those 3 are. Some things I learned about Berlin:

NYE is a complete warzone: no joke. There are no rules about fireworks, you can throw them wherever, drop them out of your apartment window, blast them from the streets. We literally felt like we were in an actual warzone with smoke filling the air, fire erupting on either side of us, and people (us) scrambling on the sidewalks. The worst best part of this was Casey, screaming and hysterically laughing from both enjoyment and fear, further propelling our anxiousness in getting blown to bits. But good news, we all survived with all limbs and appendages. All 39 fingers still intact (close friends will understand).

Berlin is HUGE: okay so I never really considered myself a big city girl, but I love living in Copenhagen aka a big city (in my mind) and started to think that was my preferred lifestyle. False, Copenhagen is not a big city, Berlin is a big city, and I would die if I ever moved there. Berlin has a population of approximately 3.5 million people, Copenhagen approximately 1.2 million. I give mad props to Casey for navigating that humungous city because I sure couldn’t. Copenhagen is pretty much the Abilene of “big cities” which is why I’m sure I love it so.

Berlin is Beautiful: unfortunately our late nights didn’t allow us to take advantage of the wonderful daytime hours in Berlin, but nonetheless I did discover that Berlin is beautiful. The history of the city is nothing short of unique. We did make it to the Topography of Terror which featured a timeline of Hitler and the Nazi’s take over of Germany. It was incredibly saddening, words can’t describe how I felt when reading through Berlin’s history. But present day it makes the city so beautiful now for what it is. A gigantic melting pot of people that have come together through so much adversity. Not only is it’s landscape and architecture beautiful, but it’s history, story, and people are as well.

Even though I’m sure there are so many more amazing things to discover about Berlin, unfortunately, I didn’t learn too much else due to foreseen circumstances (NYE and fistpumping). But it’s just a short 7 hour, 19 euro bus ride away and I can guarantee I will be going back for more adventures with Casey.

There are lots of things that took place between Berlin and now but hopefully Ricky will update you on all of that next week. Fast forward to today, and I’m staring work back in the face. Multiple memes and gifs have popped up expressing everyone’s sorrow for going back to work after the holidays. Yesterday we had our first practice of the New Year and I’m not gonna lie, those memes popped into my head. But not for the reason most would think. Getting back into the gym, “working” for me was a reminder of how lucky I am to desire to go back to work. Yesterday I was reminded of why I left my family and friends thousands of miles away. To pursue a dream. Yes, traveling is AMAZING, hosting friends is a blast, going out and meeting people is wonderful! But the reason I left is to play volleyball and to be the best player that I can be. Going back to work means getting back in the gym and playing the sport that I love with the girly pops that I have come to adore. My holiday time with friends is quickly coming to a close, which really does break my heart, but it’s time to refocus this New Year and stay focused on my one true love for the time being. Volleyball.

Always wanderlusting,

IJ

PS- I used my passport & the air mattress successfully 0 times.

Traveling: 1 IJ: 0, till next time.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Fitness, Volleyball, & Motivation, Life Abroad, Tips and Tricks

Lessons Learned

Low of the week

Dropping my phone whilst riding my 6 mile trip to work. So so sad. I’m the type of person that has dropped their phone entirely too many times to count and somehow miraculously it stays uncracked. Not so lucky this time. Which is understandable since I was obviously riding about 40mph (just call me Lance) when it happened…and then ran over it. But some part of me still hoped everything would be ok, but this time it just wasn’t. I am now constantly reminded of my failure every time I look at my phone, but such is life.

High of the week

Beating Amager in 3! They were ranked one spot ahead of us until we pulled out the win and moved ahead into the number 3 spot. A lot of people were surprised it didn’t take more than 3 sets for us to win. Including our precious Libero Stephanie. After our match she said that she couldn’t believe that we won so quickly. And my setter self having no doubt in my mind that we would for sure win asked her why she was surprised and she responded with “I guess I just have to get used to us being good”. I mentioned she was precious right. The statement is more acceptable considering the team started out the season with no setter one American MB that is supposed to be on the OH and a handful of Danish players. Fast forward to now having add a couple of Americans that played at big time D1s and my response to her is get used to it.

Amended low of the week

Losing in the semis of the Danish Volleyball Cup. This is the first loss I’ve had as a player in a very long time and it still sucks. Losing is probably the worst feeling in the ENTIRE WORLD I didn’t even know how to act. Yes I’ve lost (a lot) as a coach the past 3 years which also sucks, but it’s a different kind of suck when your on the court. I felt like I was going through the 9 stages of grief. Anger, denial, and then I got delirious and forgot the other 6 stages. As an athlete the ultimate failure is losing especially when you play such an intricate part in the success of your team. As a setter you can assume that every loss is our(my) fault and I willingly take on that responsibility. There’s always something I could have done different to make my hitters more successful. So what now? Not only did we lose but we lost in 3 pretty handedly, just saying that almost brings tears to my eyes. But the Danish Cup is not the end all be all and neither is winning or losing (grimace) It’s what we do with the loss that matters. Will we work harder in practice to reach our full potential come playoff time? Will we settle for who we are now and be content with 3rd place? Only time will tell but for me there is only one choice, to go hard all the time (right wildcats?) and to commit to the process of becoming greater tomorrow than I am today.

Other highlights of the week. I went on a second date with a nice German man I met online (online=on tinder sorry mom and dad) Last week we met up at a coffee shop. Unfortunately during my bike ride there my phone died which means I had no idea where I was going nor could I pronounce the name of the café to ask someone for directions. After biking a mile in the wrong direction I ended up stopping in an electronic store and sat there charging my phone while memorizing directions and messaging (hmmm we’ll call him “B”) B to let him know I wasn’t standing him up but am just lost, scared, and alone. I ended up making it there and it was a great time, so good that we decided to go for dinner the following week. Sidenote: how horrifying is it that if your phone dies you can literally do nothing!!! Okay maybe not you, but me in a foreign country still finding my way around was rendered so helpless without my phone. That extent of reliance on Francesca the 2nd aka my iPhone is a bit scary especially since she’s now cracked and losing power at a rapid pace, she just isn’t the girl she used to be.

Anyways the second date went equally well, he’s been to so many places around the world and has a huge trip planned that’s coming up including stops in Amsterdam, India, and Tanzania. How cool is that?? As the night came to a close I realized that the expectations of adult dating in Copenhagen Denmark are a bit different than those in Abilene TX. So this may just be my last tinderoni story for a while. I’ve decided that I’m fully capable of meeting friends the good old fashion way, so I’ll pretend to be a normal social human being and let them figure out how big of a weirdo I am later on in our relationship.

Last highlight of the week would be dinner at the enemies house, Brooke, a player for Holte that used to play for our club invited us (Myself, Jamie, D) over to her place for risengrød some delicious rice pudding cinnamon dish and some games. Of course what turned into a chill evening with tea and coffee ended up a late girls night with wine and chips. Those of you that know me know how much I love my girlfriends so it was so great to have such a fun evening with new friends. The whole evening D (the girl that deserves an Emmy for getting me out of my first tinder date) and I roast each other. Typical of our new found friendship. She left the night with the nickname “ebola” for mistaking the outbreak of E. coli at Chipotle for an outbreak of Ebola at Chipotle. Seriously. SO. Funny. Still laughing as I type right now. I left with the nickname of 4 in reference to the number of times in a row that I got tooled by a 19yr old in our match vs Amager. Brooke mentioned them being good at tooling and D cough laughed immediately and threw eyes at me…..it is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
Someone asked me the other day if it was weird to be playing again after coaching for 3 years. It is weird. It is weird because it feels as though I never stopped playing. I literally didn’t play a competitive match for the past 3 years and all of a sudden I’m practicing everyday and playing matches. When does that ever happen?? The critical coaching part of me hasn’t gone away so a lot of the times I think about what I would want to change if I were coaching the team or what I would do with specific players, including myself, but I wholeheartedly trust our head coach and can’t wait to see where we are months from now when we play for the championship (that is the setter in me).

The past week I learned that sometimes you mess up over and over and over again and everything is fine, like it never even happened. But sometimes it breaks and you have to be reminded of it every single day you look at your phone. But that’s ok because stuff happens. I learned that it’s not the loss on your record that defines who you are but what you chose to do with that loss. I learned that tinder is scary. Lol just kidding. I learned that it’s better to live your life content and satisfied with the relationships you have and to not seek out unnecessary relationships with a naive mentality. I learned that I will gain great friends from this experience. And I learned when you follow the desires of your heart and trust God everything will be a-okay.

Ever wanderlusting

IJ

Posted in Fashion, Tips and Tricks, Travel

Second Stop

I’ve relapsed.

In my previous post I explained borderline bragged on my new found perspective on the excess of consumerism that the US is immersed in. Well turns out I still have a longggg way to go in regards to living without excess.

It’s currently 12:54am the night (day) before my second stop on the road to Denmark, NYC to visit my sister for a mere 25 hours, and I just got done repacking, and editing and then repacking some more. Finally I have two checked bags pushing 51lbs each, and two “carry on” bags that are literally filled to the brim. But I have everything I need, and unfortunately left some things that I “need”. Here are some things I learned along the way of packing, and repacking en route to leaving home sweet home.

Layer to the airport: Since I will be traveling to a climate far colder than my natural habitat, I invested in the most perfect coat in the ENTIRE world. TNA Bancroft the Warmest Parka, I’ll let you guys know how it holds up in the Scandanavian weather once I get through it. I carried it on, because it weighs like 20lbs, and then I wore my pleather jacket, over my chambray button up, over my favorite easy black tank and my amazing blanket scarf. Have you heard about my blanket scarf? Nice and toasty for the airport. I looked absolutely ridiculous going through security, but it will all be worth it once I get there.

When packing, forget the toiletries: Depending on your length of stay don’t bother packing your sanitary essentials (body wash, shampoo, conditioner, etc) unless it’s a product you absolutely have to have, or one that you know you cannot get where your going. They weigh the most out of anything you’ll add to your bag and most products you can find or order anywhere in the world. The only toiletry item that made the cut in my carry on is my Urban Decay make up setting spray (ladies try it out its the best, like hairspray for your face) which on second thought I probably could’ve gone without…anyhow the first few days upon arrival jk first day upon arrival I’ll stock up and be good to go and will have all the items i couldn’t survive without.

Triple check baggage requirements: Since I have a stop along the way I had to get my first leg on spirit airlines (EK) and the second leg on Norweigian (yay) like I mentioned, both my bags are pushing 51lbs, 50lbs is usually the standard check in bag so I prayed for someone nice behind the counter. On my drive to the airport I was feeling nervous…almost nauseous and I couldn’t figure out if it’s because the realization of leaving my precious family, friends, and babies (ages 4mos-22yrs old) was setting in or because I would be forced to take things out of my bags and surrender at least one layer upon arriving to the airport (please not my pleather jacket). Certainly it was the baggage issue. I felt fairly confident when the scale read 101lbs for both bags (insert sigh of relief) that I would receive some grace, the sweet lady behind the counter says, “okay looks like your over by 20lbs, it’ll be a $50 charge”. Unlike the standard airline, the “budget friendly” Spirit airlines only allows 40lbs for check ins, wonderful. Thank Jesus for the Seven book by Jen Hatmaker that taught me my money is not my own. I graciously gave up Jesus’ $50 and didn’t think another second of it, after all that’s why I sold my favorite pair of black metallic true religion jeans.

Don’t travel before 7am because then you can’t get a mimosa for breakfast: alright this isn’t a real tip but it was uber embarrassing when I tried to order a celebratory “on my way mimosa” at the first airport restaurant I could find, only to be told I couldn’t be served until 7am, to which I replied,” well that’s embarrassing” and then settled on my last breakfast taco plate for a while and a large water, probably a wiser decision anyhow to fight the jet lag and all.

Ladies don’t wear makeup: you’ll cry, a lot and end up looking like you never put it on in the first place, or even worse, like its last nights makeup. Also you’re beautiful and don’t need makeup anyways.

Guys, wear makeup: You don’t cry, so this is the perfect chance to try it out, maybe you end up sitting next to a natural beauty, not wearing makeup and killing it. Just kidding….unless you’re into that thing, then you go glen co co.

Overall the finishing touches on packing for Denmark went well. My first stop in Fort Worth was perfect. I got to spend time with my wonderful mother and father, whom I am so grateful for. My original babies, Deja and Afam, (plus a day with Zoey) and their mother aka my sister aka Chi Chi (weird name right, did I mention I’m half Nigerian? her name is really Chioma) that I’m going to miss with all of my stinking heart. My amazing friends, so many of which came to my second to last supper, which multiple of them mentioned that they didn’t know I had that many other friends to which I replied me either, then smiled and soaked in their awesomeness.

I ran a few last minute chores, packing things to be donated, getting my chase bank accounts settled, buying the pleather pants I’m sitting in now….all the essentials. And am now officially en route to the big apple for my last moments in the good ole USA until Christmas 2016.

All this to say, when preparing for a trip don’t sweat the small stuff. Enjoy the time you have with your closest family and friends, in light of recent events I think we are all beginning to realize life is unpredictable. Cherish the relationships you have, the moments you can never get back, and the memories that will last you forever. It’s been real America, talk to you on the other side.

with love and wanderlust – IJ