Everything You Need to Know About Tolantongo, Mexico

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Follow a winding road 1000 metres down into a steep valley surrounded by lush vegetation. See the turquoise blue river, steam pouring off her surface as she snakes through the valley floor. Soak yourself in a deliciously warm thermal pool, all to yourself, hanging over the edge of the cliffside while you stare off into the mountain valley. Let the warm waters pound on your back like a massage as they cascade down the mountain. And if you dare, climb into the very heart of the mountain through a black tunnel, torrid water pounding down from every crevice inside her, the hot blood of the mountain.  Steam billows so thick you feel it in your lungs. Watch your step along the smooth rocks as you walk along them from ankle deep to neck deep water. At the end of the tunnel, in the mountains heart, sit and breath her in, feel her heat wrap you in a blanket. It’s impossible to tear yourself away; it’s like being back in the womb, the sounds, the comfort, the warmth, the peace you feel. But you must. The rest of the mountain is calling you. Dare to run through the blast of icy cascades pounding from the mountain top, the very mouth of the mountain.  Pass through the frigid wall and reach the inside of the cavernous mouth, a warm reprieve, waste deep, with tiny smooth round tastebuds, pebbles on the floor, to massage your feet. Stare in awe at the stalactites, the strange smoothened figures on the walls and cavern ceiling, like grotesque teeth from thousands of years of dripping that warm, mineral rich water. And in the centre, a battering blast of hot water beckons you, dares you to try to withstand the power as the tongue of the mountain pounds on your back and pushes you down into the warm depths. Steamy breath gushes from her mouth out into the valley in clouds. Continue reading

Hiking Toluca de Nevado

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Our three day trek in the Sierra Juarez mountains was great, but we needed something a little higher, a little more challenging to help us prepare for trekking the great Himalayas.  Toluca de Nevado offered us just that challenge. Towering at 4600 metres, this long dead volcano is now home to two beautiful caldera lakes and absolutely stunning views.

We paired up with Julius and Sandro again and decided to rent a car. We grabbed snacks and fluids and hit the road around 1030am. Major props to Juluis for being the hero and doing the driving to get us out of Mexico city! It took a while, as traffic in this beast of a city is horrific! But finally we made it out, paid a couple of tolls and eventually took the turn off Mexico highway 10, drove past the little town of Raices, past the National Park area (where all the vendors are set up) and began to gruellingly slow switchback ride up the mountain. The reason so many people trek this mountain’s peak is because you can drive almost all the way up! In fact, you used to be able to drive right to the caldera, however the road now stops 2km before and you must hike in. Continue reading

Paris, Ma Chérie

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You should grab yourself a nice steaming cup of coffee, maybe a baguette and some butter, or perhaps a croissant from your local bakery, turn on some Charles Aznavour and enjoy the next few minutes as I take you on a little trip through the romantic streets of sweet, sweet Paris.

When I was in Argentina, I was lucky enough to meet the beautiful soul Stéphanie and we spent the day exploring Igauza falls together with some other lovely friends. We kept in touch, and when I was on my way over to France, she generously invited me to come and stay with her in Paris. She was currently in between jobs so she also offered to show me about the beautiful city herself – how spoiled I am! My plan was to sort of skim through Paris on my way up towards Norway, but I ended up spending four days instead of two because there was simply so much to see, and I was having such a lovely time with Stéphanie! Continue reading

Road Tripping Through Iceland Part II

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After two nights in the sweet little town of Vik, we thanked our host most graciously for her help, and within minutes of driving away from the coastal town, we left the rain and mist behind us and burst back into bright sunshine. Oh the joys of the open road!  Today we were off to see glacier lagoons, another national park and a river that tore down through a gorge in a valley called Fjathrarglijufur. As we drove, the landscape changed drastically and we suddenly found ourselves amid the largest lava field in the world!  Every which was you looked was a blanket of blackened, cooled lava, which was being taken over by bulbous green moss tufts, creating a strange spectacle. Continue reading

Road Tripping Through Iceland Part I

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Iceland was never originally on my radar- mostly because I thought it would be far too expensive. But it kept coming up again and again, and I couldn’t ignore the universe trying to send me a message. I was already in Europe, who knew when I would be back next… so why not? I looked at flights and while it was still an expensive flight, I had started dreaming about Iceland and knew I had to visit this place. I knew I made the right decision when my dear friend Emilee from back home in Canada messaged me to tell me her and another friend were heading to Iceland at the same time as me! That settled it. I booked my flights and made plans to meet the girls for an epic week long road trip through Iceland’s Ring Road. Emilee and Caitlyn had two weeks in Iceland, so we were going to start with the most exciting stuff in the South and work our way East then North, and then I would catch a bus from wherever we ended up after a week back to Reykjavik. Continue reading

Isle Of Skye, Land Of The Beautiful

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I left the enchanting city of Edinburgh to escape into the Northwestern side of Scotland and venture into the Isle’s, the area of Scotland that I was excited to see most. I had a Pinterest board filled with images from this fabled land and couldn’t wait to explore it for myself at long last! I spent most of the day on a bus, traveling straight North to Inverness where I transfered and took another bus along the edge of Loch Ness. I kept my eyes peeled out the bus windows, just in case I caught sight of the ever elusive and mythical Loch Ness monster! (Just in case you were unaware… loch simply means lake, and there are loads of them in Scotland!). Sadly, the beast never reared her head and I was left to ponder her existence. In the later afternoon I arrived at the Isle of Skye, which is connected to the mainland with one large bridge near the main town Portree, but can also be reached in the south by ferry.  Continue reading

London Underground

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I did it! I crossed the old pond and at long last touched down in Europe for the first time in my life! It was a heck of journey to get here: a four hour bus ride from Cuenca to Guayaquil at 1am, a three hour flight from Guayaquil to Chile Santiago at 7am, an 11 hour layover in the awful Chilean airport, a four hour flight to Panama, another hour flight to Puerto Rico and after running to my next gate with no time to spare, the eight hour haul overseas to land in Frankfurt to switch one last time for the last little jaunt over to Heathrow Airport in London. I made it!!! I was exhausted, sleep deprived and jet lagged. And of course, on my eight hour overnight flight a two year old toddler sat behind me on his mothers lap kicking my chair and crying hysterically the entire time. I’m not exaggerating here either. I felt terrible for the child and the mother as something was clearly wrong with the kid – the crying was hysterical screaming – not just regular crying. It was exhausting. He would scream himself silly until he passed out, over and over again. I can only assume he had an ear infection or something else the pressure may have aggravated. Continue reading

How To Not Get Robbed On A Bus, Like I Did…!

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Well this also finally happened… I was robbed. Before you freak out, family and friends, no, I was not held up at gun or knife point and stripped of all my belongings, thank god. It was a more of a ghost robbery, where I was left totally unaware. I  hopped on my bus in Banos heading for Guayaquil to meet up with Anthony, a nice cheap $7 ride for 7 hours. I walked towards the back of the bus where my assigned seat was. There was a man at the back of the bus who looked as if he worked on the bus as he was directing patrons to seats. He motioned for me to take my assigned seat, which I did and then said I could store my backpack up top or below my seat. There were bags under the seat in front of me so I slide my back pack back under my own seat and settled in. Mistake number one. Unnoticed, the man took a seat directly behind me. Continue reading

When Travel Sickness Strikes – How To Cope

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*Warning* this post is explicit in the shameless details of being ill- if you’re easily disgusted, don’t keep reading! 😛

So it finally happened. I got sick. Real sick.  Two days before I left Guatemala, I came down with mild food poisoning. I got through a bad night of basically trying to sleep while sitting on the toilet, the agonizing cramps making me nearly cry out for my mommy. There’s something about being violently ill that makes you want you mother desperately. I had flashbacks of warm baths, cold cloths on my forehead, four litre ice cream buckets that we dubbed “puke pails”, gingerale, tums, and gentle back rubs from moms comforting hands. Unfortunately all I had was a shared public bathroom with doors that were open on both the top and bottom, allowing all the gastric sounds to escape easily. Continue reading

Travel Tips For Central America

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Central America is wonderful little collection of tropical countries that separate North from South America. I spent the last three months traveling through Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Honduras and Belize. Three months was no where near enough time and I regrettably missed seeing El Salvador and Panama and only got to see a tiny bit of Honduras. It was my first time backpacking, so I was a bit of a novice at traveling in general, but I learned a lot about travel through Central America in those three short months. I’ve compiled a few of the things that I think would be most helpful to a first time traveler in Central America, however these tips could likely be applied to most places backpackers venture! Continue reading