Home, and a Few Other Places

While I usually try to focus on one topic in these posts, this one will instead be broken out into smaller sections—little snippets, findings if you will, that I’ve unearthed along the way. Because that’s the way it has come to me. In snapshots. In little pockets of clarity.

In other words, this post is a bit of a mosaic, because that’s the way travel seems to work. That’s the way growing and learning seem to work. Piecemeal collections of moments and ideas and ponderings that you stitch together along the way. 

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7 Reasons Why Iceland is the Next Big Travel Destination

In case you haven’t heard, Iceland is sort of becoming a thing. In recent years, the country has amped up its tourism efforts—especially in the states—and as a result, everyone and their mom is heading to the Nordic island. If you’re thinking about taking a trip this year, Iceland should be at the top of your list. So, here are the top 7 reasons why you should take a trip to Iceland... 

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Morocco: A Night Camping in the Sahara Desert and a Few Other Gems

As I write this, I'm sitting here in my apartment in Madrid with sand from the Sahara still in my Converse sneakers. When I scrunch up my toes, I can still feel bunches of sand that have become successful little continent-crossing stowaways under my sock. It seems surreal, even now, to think that just a few days ago I was in Morocco, trekking across the Sahara Desert on a camel. 

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Top 9 Things to Do in Granada, Spain

Located in the south of Spain in the region of Andalusia, the city of Granada has become an icon of Spanish culture. Due to its sunny weather, open plazas, and "traditionally Spanish" ambiance, it has become a favorite for many traveling through Europe. If this isn't reason enough to peak your curiosity, here are the top 9 things to do when in Granada that may have you researching flights (or trains) sooner than you thought.

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7 Life Lessons I Learned from Doing an Ironman

2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and 26.2 mile run. It goes without saying that an Ironman is not for the faint of heart. But in spite of the daunting numbers, I decided to give it a shot anyways. After eight months and roughly 500 hours of training, over 300,000 yards of swimming, almost 4,000 miles of biking, and over 1,000 miles of running, it goes without saying that I had a lot of time to think. And while in the process I learned a lot about myself physically, I also took away some valuable life lessons, as well. Here are the top nuggets of wisdom I took away from the months leading up to the race.

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8 Reasons Why Traveling Through Eastern Europe Should Be on Your Bucketlist (Winter Edition)

Skiing in the Swiss Alps. A snowy holiday in London. Eating a Nutella crepe under the Eiffel Tower. As the colder months approach, we begin to see more of these classic winter holidays pop up in travel magazines and online travel sites. While a winter getaway in western Europe may sound like the ideal vacation, it’s neighbor to the east may hold some of the best hidden gems when it comes to a winter travel destination. Here are eight reasons why.

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Why I Travel: A Few Thoughts on Recent World Events (or, Love from Andalucia)

Last weekend, a few friends and I traveled to the south of Spain where five days were spent falling in love with the city of Seville and then Córdoba. Both cities are located in Andalucia, a region just north of Africa, giving it a heavy Moroccan influence in the local art, food, and architecture. Needless to say, the place is a beautiful hodge-podge of culture that gives it a certain life and energy unlike any other in Europe. 

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One for the Record Books: From the Spanish Mainland to Croatia

There are certain trips that go down in the memory bank as “that one trip.” The kind that when you hear a particular song or catch a smell or taste something vaguely familiar, the memories come rolling out of you like a wave, an echo of images and thoughts and feelings reincarnated from another place and time. Where moments come pouring out of you in one long string of images, as if they were sewn together, washing you in all of those good memories.

This past trip was one of those.

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Hiking Mallorca's Epic Torrent de Pareis

I’m a little late on this post, but better late than never. Especially for a hike as worthy as Torrent de Pareis. If you live on Mallorca, you’ve probably heard the name thrown around once or twice. The Gem of Mallorca, I’ve been told on more than one occassion, as if it’s a second name.

I’ve been on my fair share of hikes on the island, and I’ve never seen anything quite like the Torrent de Pareis. Running along the northwest side of the island, beginning in the mountains of Escorca and ending at the beach of Sa Calobra, it’s nothing short of epic. For an average person, it takes around six hours to do and consists of a mix between walking and bouldering down the riverbed (meaning this isn’t a hike to do after or during a heavy rain).

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A Quick Update: South America

Look who's back!  For a very, very short time.

In my last post, I dropped the bomb that I quit my job and was off to South America for a few months' of adventure.  Three months later and I'm back stateside for a hot second before departing (again). 

In short: I regret nothing.  While myself and Kelsey have many more posts planned about our adventures, for now I'll leave you with a few photos to fuel your wanderlust.  After all, I have another plane to catch...;)

xoxo, Krista

P.S.  We have an Instagram!!  Double-tap that ish: @thetoastyavocados

 Llamas in Quito, Ecuador

Llamas in Quito, Ecuador

 Fun tours in Cusco, Peru

Fun tours in Cusco, Peru

 Tropical fruit up to your ears - here, in Quito, Ecuador

Tropical fruit up to your ears - here, in Quito, Ecuador

 Goofing around and licking the salt mines in Salineras, Peru

Goofing around and licking the salt mines in Salineras, Peru

 Incredible views on Santa Cruz Island - the Galapagos

Incredible views on Santa Cruz Island - the Galapagos

 Amazon women - in Cuyabeno, a region of the Amazon in Ecuador

Amazon women - in Cuyabeno, a region of the Amazon in Ecuador

 Babes biking around Baños, Ecuador

Babes biking around Baños, Ecuador

 Never too much fun in Montañita, Ecuador.  Miss it and the people there.

Never too much fun in Montañita, Ecuador.  Miss it and the people there.

 Macchu Picchu - one of the seven wonders of the world!  Besides us four.

Macchu Picchu - one of the seven wonders of the world!  Besides us four.

 Never enough ruins! PERUined in Peru!

Never enough ruins! PERUined in Peru!

 Hiking up to Lago 69 in Cordillera Blanca, Huaraz, Peru

Hiking up to Lago 69 in Cordillera Blanca, Huaraz, Peru

 Swimming away in the Amazong...I can't imagine experiencing South America without these girls!

Swimming away in the Amazong...I can't imagine experiencing South America without these girls!


Peter Pan Syndrome

In my fifth grade class this week, all of the students went around the room and said what they wanted to be when they grow up. When all of the students had given their answer, one of the girls raised her hand and said, Kristine, what do you want to be when you grow up?

I’m not going to lie, the whole growing up thing is a little scary (okay a LOT scary). I mean, honestly, does anyone really, fully understand how taxes work, or what exactly a high dividend stock is, or just what exactly makes up your credit score?

Where is the textbook, the college class, the How-to-Be-An-Adult for Dummies book?

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Exploring Caves, a Live Concert in an Underground Lake, Jellies, and More...

From caves created by ancient Genoese sailors to live music concerts in caves, this weekend was one for the record books. Swarms of jellyfish, hikes through pine forests overlooking clear blue Mediterranean water, and boat rides in underground lakes surrounded by stalactites and stalagmites.

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New Year, New Post!

That's right, back at it! The holidays really got in the way of important things  like this here blog. No more!

Now that a new year has begun (when? How? Where does time go?), time to stop for a little reflection. Kristine wrote a lovely and inspiring post that you should definitely read if you haven't already, and if you have, read it again. She drops truth bombs left and right. 

I'm going to be honest: 2014 was not a good year.  I'm not saying it was entirely awful - good times were had, laughs were laughed, new adventures were abundant. But mentally, phew, it was a rough one.  It was a year of disappointments, regrets, isolation, self-doubt, tears (and I'm not a cryer).  I wasn't depressed - I didn't let myself fall entirely. But I found myself gritting my teeth and putting my head down just to get through each day. That's no way to live. 

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To sum it up: I let the world get the best of me, and that was my own  fault.  

Yep. MY fault. Because not once during those moments of desperation or self-questioning did I ever stand up and make a change. I never once took a risk. Instead, I let myself fall further down the hole rather than stand up, pull myself together like a grown-ass woman, and step confidently out of my comfort zone.  

If there's one thing 2014 taught me, it's that there's never a "right" - a right time, place, thing to say, way to do things, career...you name it. I was always waiting for the "right" thing or the "right" time or was doing what everyone told me was "right." How silly is that? That's a lot of time wasted spent worrying about something that doesn't even exist. 

 Coffee mugs should always be a reflection of your core beliefs.

Coffee mugs should always be a reflection of your core beliefs.

So, my mantra for 2015 and beyond is (drumroll please): there is no right. So if you're worrying about taking the right job, or saving up just the right amount of money for that trip, or saying just the right thing to make that guy like you, whatever it is...guess what? You're wasting time. And there ain't time to waste, because life is short. 

It's only two weeks into the new year, and this state of mind is already working out pretty darn well for me. I feel good about my decisions because you know what? They're always "right."  I'm not wasting time worrying or feeling sad or wondering "What if?" I'm just doing. Because when you follow your gut, you take action, and that's empowering. 

I'll talk more on setting specific "goals" later, but for now, happy 2015. Trust yourself, be mindful, do cool shit when you feel like it, and stop and smell the roses (or ocean) every once in a while. Life will love you for it. 

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14 Lessons I Learned in Amsterdam

1. Assume the role of Bilbo Baggins. Here's the thing about Amsterdam: Good food, cute cafes, and amazing bars are about as plentiful as bikes here (which is a LOT in case you've never been to Amsterdam). So accept the fact that you are not getting anywhere fast in this town and by the time you get to breakfast, you will have already had first breakfast, second breakfast, third breakfast, and probably stopped for an additional pastry or two along the way. 

2. Speaking of: Bikes. Everything you ever thought about Amsterdam and bikes is true. They are everywhere. And I mean, everywhere. One of the days it started pouring and we took shelter in our warm houseboat to drink wine and eat cheese and crackers and look out and think how glad we were not to be in the rain. When lo and behold, we saw quite a few people riding their bikes. In the rain (or downpour, really). With light jackets on. Lesson learned: In Amsterdam, rain or shine, hot or cold, all day errr day, you ride your bike.

3. Say yes to all of the bread, all the fried bread, and all the pastries you possibly can. And nutella. When it comes to delicious holidays treats, Amsterdam brings its A-game. Just walk through any Christmas market and by the time you emerge you will probably wish you had worn your stretchy yoga pants and probably be asking yourself what just happened. P.s. Food blackouts are a thing. They occur when something so incredible happens to your taste buds and you temporarily blackout due to its sheer deliciousness. Never had one? Go to a Christmas market. You're welcome.

4. Try ALL the cheeses. Note: Lavender cheese is a thing. And it's delicious. Don't ask questions, just go to a cheese shop and do some exploring. You'll thank me later.

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5. When in doubt, think like a moth: Follow the Light.
Amsterdam is a big city with quite a few districts, and it's easy to get lost - especially at night. We quickly learned a valuable lesson: if you see light, you'll probably find adventure at the end of it. And no, I'm not referring to the Red Light District, although I don't doubt you'd find your fair share of adventures there.

No, I'm talking about actual lights (go figure). We wandered through all the side streets that were lit up for Christmas and following our "Follow the Light" mantra, we found Dam Square which was absolutely incredible at night. In the middle of the square was a huge Christmas tree and all of the surrounding buildings were lit up - a definite sight to see during Christmas time.

Using our theory, we also stumbled upon the Light Festival which featured a number of works by artists around the world on and around the canals. We took a night boat tour and drank hot mulled wine as we looked out at some incredible works of light art. 

6. By the end of your trip, nothing will surprise you. I'll save you the trouble: just let this go right now. In Amsterdam, anything goes. Take Vegas, stick it in the middle of Europe, and you start to get an idea.

7. Staying in a houseboat was pretty freaking awesome. Wake up on the water, in Jordaan, walk to amazing restaurants and the city center in no time. Enjoy the night life of Amsterdam and be back home before you know it. Repeat.

8. Try the mint tea. Maybe I've been out of the loop on this one all these years. In any case, I had never heard about this before, but the mint tea in Amsterdam is incredible. They literally take a huge handful of mint leaves, stick it in some hot water, and give you a bottle of honey. Bam. Freshest, most refreshing mint tea you've ever tasted.

9. Which brings me to: Walk with a warm drink in your hand. Okay, seems simple enough. Now, maybe it's because I'm from Southern California and I have mind and body paralysis in anything under 50 degrees. I am still uncertain how to properly function in the cold. But one thing I did learn while in Amsterdam: As long as you have something hot to drink - coffee, hot chocolate, mulled wine - everything changes. And the cold can--dare I say it--actually be...fun?? 

10. Do something cultural. You may or may not have your preconceived notions about Amsterdam, and let's be real, it probably does have a district catering to everything and anything. But that's the beauty of Amsterdam. You have years and years of history in that city. A plethora of cultures, walks of life, districts. It's a bit like an onion - the more you pull back its layers, the more you seem to discover. So get out, walk around, unpeel some of those layers. There are countless museums the city offers - from history to art to flowers. Check out a few, and it will give you some perspective on the city. To think of what these streets have seen over the years...

11. Do something touristy. I'm all for avoiding the touristy things when I travel and doing as the locals do. BUT there are exceptions. So find the "I amsterdam" sign and take a picture. Go on a canal tour. Visit the Heineken Factory - and if you go during Christmas you'll enjoy a nice jazz concert as you enjoy a couple drinks at the end. There you go, you've got proof you came, saw, and conquered. And you'll probably get a nice Insta picture out of it while you're at it.

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12. Eat at some amazing restaurants. You knew this was coming. This is the part where I recommend places to go and you realize that Amsterdam is actually as cool and the food is actually as good as everyone says it is. (As if I haven't talked about how good the food is already...)

Wasserette (in De Pijp): Cute place for breakfast or brunch. Everything was fresh and natural, and it was pretty busy when we arrived (always a good sign). Any of their breakfasty egg things (Eggs Florentine, Eggs Benedict, etc.) are pretty popular.

Winkel 43 (in Jordaan): Great breakfast, nice atmosphere, and again, a very popular place. It's also right next to the Saturday farmer's market. Most important part: You must try the apple pie with whipped cream!! It's unbelievably good.

 Wasserette

Wasserette

 Winkel 43

Winkel 43

Tuin Tien, or T 10 (in Jordaan): Delicious, great for dinner, funky/cool atmosphere, almost seemed like it was some place out of Portland.

Moeder's: Typical dutch food which was amazing. Also, there are pictures of mothers all over the walls, we guessed about 1500 of them. We got lucky, but the place is usually pretty busy so make sure to make a reservation ahead of time.

 Tuin Tien, or T 10

Tuin Tien, or T 10

 Moeder's

Moeder's

Farmers Market (Saturday in Jordaan). Well, duh.

13. Double and triple check the destination on the metro you're about to take. Especially if it's 4:00am and your flight leaves in an hour and a half. Yeah, so that happened.

14. Amsterdam is freaking awesome during the holidays. Amazing lights all over town, Christmas markets, good food, good drinks, canal boat rides...what is there not to love??

The FOMO Chronicles: Why No Plan Is Sometimes the Best Plan

On an island that boasts of amazing hiking and canyoning and kayaking and cave swimming and honey and olive and wine fairs, it’s not too far off from the truth to say that I want to do all the activities. All the time.

But I got to thinking how funny it is. How you have something so planned out in your head, the way something should be, or how you should experience something. How much you want to do and how determined you are to pack it all in.

But it rarely turns out the way you expect it to. What you experience and how you experience it.

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Mallorca: The Land of "A Good Place to Eat a Sandwich"

After quite a few excursiones on the island so far, I've begun to acquire a very important skill: How to find a good sandwich spot.

I mean, let's be real. You can't just eat your sandwich in any old place. You have to find the "it" spot--that vista that you will think back on in three years and think, Wow, that was such an amazing hike.

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Casual Wednesdays in Spain: Dancing with Demons at Dijous Bo

This week was Dijous Bo (meaning “Good Thursday” in Mallorquín), one of the largest fairs of winter in Mallorca held in the town of Inca. The festivities on Wednesday night (called Dimecres Bo, or “Good Wednesday,” in Mallorquín) is the event you won’t want to miss. Here, you will see the Correfoc, or Fire Run. People dress up as demons and everyone—young and old—come out to dance with the demons well into the night. A large band of drummers set the beat of the night with dramatic music and the demons light fireworks and dance, ride bikes, and even ride around in shopping carts with a trail of fire streaming around them. 

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Pollença Farmer's Market Treasures

Every Sunday Pollença has a big farmers market, and as should come as no surprise, I've been waiting *all week* to go. So you can imagine that I went a little overboard on the produce purchases come Sunday. 

Farmers markets in Mallorca are a little different than they are back home. While in Santa Barbara all the produce is locally grown/made and 90% is organic, a lot of the produce here isn't local (you have to specifically ask which is and which isn't) and the whole "organic" movement really hasn't made it's way here yet. I've heard you can find organic fruits and vegetables, but I'm told you would have to travel to Palma or another larger city to find a store or market that sells it.

Regardless, you gotta work with what you have, so I bought all the fresh fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds, and even meat and cheese that I could find.

 My spread of farmers market goodies. So many possibilities...!

My spread of farmers market goodies. So many possibilities...!

Another aspect of the farmers market that I wasn't expecting - how much meat and cheese they sell (and since most of the meat is cured, it's all kept unrefrigerated). Any kind of cow or goat cheese you want - name it, they probably have it (and yes, this is as dangerous as it sounds). And while I've never been much of a huge meat-eater, it's hard to pass by the stand and not get anything, especially when they're passing out slices of perfectly salted and spiced ham or their specialty here - jamón sobrasada, a cured red sausage.

 Meat and cheese assortment.

Meat and cheese assortment.

 Slightly spicy peppers.

Slightly spicy peppers.

 Veggies galore!

Veggies galore!

 Olives on olives on olives...

Olives on olives on olives...

Another surprise (and I'm hoping someone reading this can shed some light on this...): I asked two women at two different dried fruit booths what the purple dried fruit in the picture below was, and they both answered pineapple. I asked if it was colored or natural, and they answered that it was natural and that it was a variety that was purple when it was young. I tried to research this mysterious purple pineapple online but unfortunately came up with nothing. I'm still curious as to whether this magical purple pineapple exists, so if any of you reading this have any insight, please click the "Contact" page and let us know!

 Mysterious dried "purple pineapple."

Mysterious dried "purple pineapple."

After lugging my spoils of fresh produce back to the apartment, I naturally wanted to get started on some goodies in kitchen. Homemade vegan almond pesto, beet hummus, and vegan veggie lettuce wraps stuffed with hummus and millet recipes to come soon! Stay tuned...