Medellín, Colombia

25 Feb img_2646-1

Medellín, land of beautiful mountains, extensive array of flowers, and happy, hospitable people.

This was a weekend trip, 3 full days.  We loved every single one of them.

Driving or walking there’s always something to see.  Lots of green, and flowers of all sorts adding color to it.  Fruits are another thing in abundance here, you must try Lulo and granadilla.

Artistic graffiti decors almost every wall, that’s not a house of business.  The mountains are a site on its own.  The contrasts of these, with the buildings and blue skies is a breathtaking view.

The people obviously contribute to the magic of Medellín, with their attractive accent, good manners, open to talk and help anyone.  Where ever you go, you will get a “good morning”, “have a nice day”, help locating a place, or just making conversation while you wait for the metro or cable car, etc.  They are not afraid to be friendly, to be hospitable; in a world where people live afraid, so closed in, and knowing their past history, this was amazingly refreshing, and hopefully contagious.

Medellín has a lot to offer, for us to see.  We did a lot in those 3 days, and here’s a little preview:

Stayed at Loyd’s Hotel, at El Poblado.  Location is the highlight of this hotel. Quaint and away from the busy streets, but just walking distance to so many restaurants, parks, and bars.

If you have limited time, tours might be the best way to go. That’s exactly what we did.

Day 1

First day we did a half-day city tour.  This took us to Pueblito Paisa.  A cute little town, with incredible views

From there we went to Comuna 13 where the Electric Stairs are, and my favorite part, beautiful graffiti by one of their very own Chota13.
Although it’s a very humble community, the art on the walls, and even on the tin roofs, gives this place a lively atmosphere.

Cable cars is a fun thing to do. This is every day transportation to a lot of people.  To us, was a fun ride to see more of the city and its infrastructure.

Plaza Botero is good for pictures, with his oversized bronze statues, and if you have time, go to the museum to see his paintings too.

After our tour was done, we walked around to do a little tour of our own.  This would be a food and drink tour.

First we had lunch.  Soup, salad, rice, patacones, meat and juice. All for about $7 each.  Yes, delicious and cheap!

We found La Tiendita del Vino.  As soon as we saw their beautiful patio seating, we knew we had to just sit and relax there.

Walked around Parque la Presidenta, where a lot of artisans are to sell jewelry, art, and food.  Obleas are a must try, and regardless of what else you add to them, always have them with Dulce de Leche.

On the tour they told us of a brewery, so we searched and found it.

3 Cordilleras – after the 3 mountain chains that cross Colombia.  5 different beers available, and live music.

A couble of other bars and what would go better with that than a “perro”.  I’m not a fan of hot dogs but Colombians do know how to make them.

Day 2

Full day tour to Guatape, and La Piedra del Peñol

It’s about 2 hours from where we were staying but the ride is totally worth it.  So much to see.

We even stopped to see some farm animals.

La Piedra del Peñol is over 700 steps up.  Breath, take breaks, drink water, but finish it!  Believe me, you DO NOT want to miss that view from the top. Absolutely incredible.
Going down is not so bad so make sure you take as many pictures as you can, not sure how often you will want to go up there again  :p

We toured the city of Guatape and my favorite part was El Zócalo.

A very picturesque small town, with cobble stone, and colorful houses.  All decorated with zócalos (almost like tiles) at the bottom of them, some telling a story, others of what their professions are, or some of their favorite things.
Walking down the streets you can see the water.  This town really makes you feel relaxed and on vacation.

Time to go back and eat!

We made reservations at El Cielo.  One of Medellin’s top restaurants.

The restaurant is beautiful.  Filled with plants, wood high ceilings, with fans, making you almost feel that you are dining outside.

They have 2 menu options, we chose “The Experience” which consist of 13 courses.

This dinner was exactly that, and experience.  They not only work on taste but on all your other senses too.  Vision, smell, touch, and hearing when they describe each plate being presented.

Plating is clean and artistic.   Each plate has been thoughtfully selected to complimented what’s being served on it.

The chef plays with flavors, textures and colors.  Not to mention liquid nitrogen.

This menu also includes table- prepared coffee, and of course dessert.
Highly recommend this restaurant to anyone traveling there.  This experience is absolutely unique.

 

Day 3

Pablo Escobar Tour

I know there’s many people who are against these tours, and I can understand why.  There was a lot of suffering during that time.

But I’ve always believed that History is there to teach us and hopefully not repeat it.

And also think that, because they don’t want to repeat the fear and chaos of that time, is why the paisas are as friendly and lovely as they are.  They decided to make a difference.

The tour is very interesting.  You get to learn a lot of “both sides of the coin” – Pablo/ and the Government.

The views are wonderful in this tour, especially if you go to La Catedral.

There’s so much more to see in Medellín, to the point we already want to go back.

But, for now, I return home, and share with you my wonderful trip, as always hoping it moves you to plan yours as well, and helps you when you do go.

“Who were you before they broke your heart”

8 Feb

I came across this quote today “Who were you before they broke your heart”.

That’s an interesting question, I thought…

Fresh after a breakup, it’s really hard to answer it.  The pain, the memories, the “us” does not allow us to be just “you”.  Plus it’s hard because every person you meet, every situation, relationship and experience affects us, and can change us.

So, how do you go back to who you were?  What if you have had your heart broken more than once?   Not only by an ended relationship but, it might be that you didn’t get what you thought was your “dream job”, or you didn’t get into the school you wanted.  Or maybe a friend wasn’t who you thought they were.

What if you never asked yourself that question, after your first one, and allowed things to affect you so much, you think you can’t go back or remember?

Then I started thinking that the question is not necessarily literal.

Yes, I think it’s possible to remind ourselves of who we really were, our true self, but I think the quote means for us to start over.  To see the heartbreak as the end of that chapter, and start a new one.  Maybe even a new book.  To learn to stand up, rebuild up our self-esteem, be hopeful, and look forward, like we did before whatever it was didn’t work out.

“Who were you before they broke your heart”

I bet you were happy and optimistic.  You were making plans, confident, loving life, and fantasizing about the future.  Go back to that.  Find that confidence again, and move on.

A broken heart is the end of a part of your life, but not the end of it entirely.

Find a new story, a new purpose, another thing or someone that makes you want to dive in, and makes you smile again.  Life is full of stories.  Live each one and enjoy it, learn from it.  But don’t end one and give up.

Go ahead, write your life, own it.  No matter how many “Chapter One” we have, I’m sure each one will be well worth it.

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Adjust your Attitude

18 Jan

I’ve never been one to make New Year’s Resolutions.  Have always believed that if you really want to achieve something, or change something, you don’t have to wait for a specific date to do it.  But, this past year, one of my friends sent a “challenge” on our group text.  She asked us to “think of one word that you want to guide you or achieve in 2017”.

I liked the word “guide”, to me it entails thought, consciousness, a process.  To me it’s something you work on and allow it to transform you.  A helpful companion.

I thought a bit and the word “attitude” was the one that came to mind.  The definition of attitude is:  a settled way of thinking or feeling about someone or something, typically one that is reflected in a person’s behavior.

It’s a constant fight, in a lot of us, to adjust the way we see things.  The way we perceive things is shaped by what we believe.  Sometimes, those believes are based on things we hear, or things we think we know or saw; things that we assume but have no facts of.

Our way of seeing things is also shaped by past experiences.  We allow those things to shape our world, to hold us hostage, in a sense, and are not able to see things in a different light.

This is why I chose this word to guide my new year, “attitude/ perception”.  I want to work on how I see things, how I let them affect me.  Work on understanding that I am the one who allows what hurts me, how long it hurts me, or if I just let it go, and leave it in the past.  Work on seeing things in a positive light, believe that things “happen for you, not to you”.   See that sometimes we allow our thoughts, imagination, or other people’s words/ experiences affect how we see things, but aren’t necessarily true.  That if we allow time to pass, or see things without a biased mind, we could be surprised and see a different outcome.

Sometimes by us closing ourselves, or allowing our “wrong” perception of things dictate our attitude, we miss on opportunities, and just create more misunderstandings, disillusions, and heartaches for ourselves and the ones around us.

I’ve always found writing is a great therapy.  This is one of the methods I’ve employed in the past and started again to help me with my 2017 challenge.

Writing helps you release all those thoughts and feelings.  It allows us to read them at a later time, analyze and better understand what we were going through.  Sometimes even realize that, we might have overreacted, that things weren’t as we thought at the moment, or they can validate what we felt and still feel.

Yes, we need people to talk to, to vent, but I’ve learned that, when we know ourselves, and are true to our feelings, we are our best listener and counsellor.

Make yourself open up, to yourself and life.  Allow yourself to see different sides of a thought, or situation.  Choose to pick the best case scenario, to be positive.

Adjust your attitude to benefit you, to see life in an optimistic light.  You are free to change how you react to things, and keep moving forward towards a happier you.

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New Year’s Resolution 

30 Dec

As we approach the New Year, and all are making resolutions and thinking how to improve themselves, I came across a quote today that immediately spoke to me…

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be better, to welcome change, to move forward, but none of this is possible if we don’t know and are comfortable with ourselves, with who we really are.

We might get lost, in so many different ways, if we are not truly ourselves and those resolutions and improvements are made for others instead of us.

The quote is in Spanish, my native language, translated it says:

“This that you see, is me, no more no less.  A being, a piece of humanity, a handful of laughs, and a bit of crazy, a chunk of sweetness, with all my honesty.  A woman, but sometimes a girl, sometimes space and sometimes infinity, sometimes passion, sometimes freedom.   This is all I have, all I am; it’s not much but it’s everything”

Accept your quirks, your contradictions, your hopes and dreams, everything that makes you unique and who you really are.

Being true to ourselves is what will help us welcome the new year happy and with the right foot forward.

May your resolution be to be happy with yourself!   To make these words your own:   “This that you see is me…  it’s everything”

Travel – Austin, TX

22 Dec img_1031

Traveling can be so many things to so many people.

I can’t imagine someone not liking to travel.

You see traveling to me can be:

  1. An escape. I think we all feel the need to get away.  To see something new, to get out of the routine, to feel alive, to leave the problems and voices, that sometimes hunt us, behind.  To pretend you have a new life even if it’s for a few days.
  1. An Education – everywhere you go you learn something new. Culture, history, the people, traditions… all these can teach us so much and expand our world.
  1. A bonding experience – be it with friends, family, significant other. Traveling brings people together.  Traveling can be a meeting place for those who live far, it can be a great way to get to know that other person better, it builds memories we’ll remember for the rest of our lives and will keep us united even if in those memories.
  1. A Health booster – I’m not an exercise person but LOVE cities where I can walk everywhere. Fresh air, cardio, clear mind, this revives anyone’s spirits.
  1. A Networking opportunity – when you travel for business this is obvious, but even when for leisure we encounter so many people that is hard not to talk about our work. Sometimes from these conversations opportunities arise, either to build your own network or help others do so, and/ or grow in their business.
  1. A Feast – Food, New flavors, Music, Local Craft Beer, signature drinks.  All these enhance your travel experience and might even influence your kitchen when you are back home.
  1. Relaxing – you can just travel and do absolutely nothing. Sleep in, lay on the beach, stroll your way around without a schedule.

Most of my trips are a combination of all of the above.  Take my last trip for example… Austin, TX

My friends and I have very different lives.  Distance, work, others have kids, school, an active social life…  We not always have the time to get together, much less travel together.

Thankfully this past week 2 of my friends and I were able to.  To this day we don’t know how we decided on Austin – maybe because it was a place neither of us had been… point was we all were ready for a trip.  End of the year – done with school, work, and routine, this would be our very well deserved break.

We got to see Capital State, plus got to see beautiful architecture both modern and old.

We found a great location to stay where we could walk almost everywhere.  Take in the air of the city, scenery, and gave us a chance to talk even more, laugh, share stories, and create memories together.

Food was absolutely amazing.  There was not one meal we did not enjoy fully in Austin.  Every one we talked to and said this to, their reply was “that’s what you do here, eat and drink”, and that we did.

The absolute MUSTS for me were:

Odd duck – very interesting menu, with incredible variety of flavors

Gordough’s Public House – everything donuts.  Burger, sandwiches, dessert, and beer towers, all coming out of a tin food truck parked on their patio outside.  How fun is that?!?

Eberly – absolutely beautiful place with exquisite food and décor.

Lick Honest Ice Cream – flavors that you might not think off all blend together perfectly in this ice cream heaven.

A glass of wine overlooking the Lake, at Alta’s might be the perfect way to relax here.

Another great way to relax is visiting some of their local breweries – some, like Jester King are designed to spend a day there drinking, eating, playing games, or just enjoying the beautiful sight.

Not sure why they say “Keep Austin Weird”.  Didn’t ask anyone but, maybe it’s for their street art – They have the Hope Outdoor Gallery but everywhere you go you might see beautiful street art that speaks to you.  

Maybe it’s all the guitars you find throughout the city, starting at the airport, all painted in different themes.

Maybe it’s their artists and it’s music.  Sure came across a very interesting and entertaining one at The Continental Club.​

Or maybe it’s their mix of old and new buildings meshed together.  Or maybe the fact that one of their attractions are bats, or, if you ask me, the crazy weather – we had temps of 56 degrees to 73 degrees, then dropped to 29 degrees – yes, I would say that is weird.

Weird or not, Austin was definitely fun, delicious, out of the ordinary, and a trip with friends we’ll never forget.


 

Friend(ship)

4 Nov

Through life you meet a lot of people.

Some are just acquaintances, some become friend, others, even more than that, they become family.

There’s people who instantly click with you.  Other’s take a little more time to fit in your life but, when they do, they belong there.

Allowing people to get close, allowing yourself to open up to them is a blessing.  It expands your world, your heart, your experiences.

These people can bring a lot of good, new perspectives, laughter, and even more friends into your life.

They can also teach you lessons.

Unfortunately, it can also cause hurt.  The people that come into your life, even if they become really close, not always stay.

Sometimes you click with someone immediately, share things together in a short time, but they change, or they no longer want to be a part of your life, or maybe they don’t know how to be in it.  Maybe you’re not what they expected, or maybe timing or circumstances are just not right.  There can be so many reasons but the result is still the same.  Regardless of how much time you spent with each other, you create an attachment and you miss them when they are no longer there, physically or otherwise.

It’s hard letting go.  It’s hard knowing how to act around them if you keep seeing them.

You try to act normal but you can’t because, yes, at one point you were strangers but, after you share time/ conversations/ feelings/ etc., is hard to go back to “not knowing each other”.  You miss that person that was your friend, you miss the silly texts, the laughs, the person you used to talk to.

It’s sad when this happens.  Some just move one.   Some say “good riddance” and don’t think about it anymore.

Personally, I don’t know if it’s my optimism, or hope in everyone, but I hold on.  Even when I don’t show it, I do.

I keep holding on to the qualities of the person I met, and became my friend (or more than that).  I keep thinking we can find what we had again.

I do believe that if you really care, you make it work.  That giving up on people is like giving up on yourself.  We all deserve second chances.  We all go through things when we are not “ourselves”, or things that make us change.  But our core (usually) always stays the same, and that’s the part I hang on to.

Yes, maybe I hang on for too long, and for more than what some people deserve.

Yes, it hurts when they show (or seems) like they don’t care.

Yes, at that point I think maybe they weren’t worth it, and maybe no one really is.  But I erase that thought off my head and go back to thinking, What if I hadn’t tried?  What if I could have saved that friendship/ relationship?

In my opinion, it’s always better to try again, and again, than to live your life with a “what if”.  Those are hard to shake off.

As is part of life, some of my attempts have not succeeded.  I’ve had to let go of people, and some have walked away from me.

We’ve all had our reasons, but I am glad I tried and don’t regret any moment I spent with each of them.

Still, I will keep fighting for my friends, and to keep them in my life.

Sometimes, if I feel disappointed or let down, it might seem like I’ve given up, but I haven’t.

If I have called you a friend, it’s because you are exactly that, and I hold on dearly to them.

If we’re going (or go) through a rough patch, I will hold on until we can work it out or exhaust all options to do so.

To those who have stuck around through years, laughs and tears  – thank you for being my blessings.

Friendship is something I’ve always been lucky and very grateful to have.  Something I think everyone should have in high regards.

Strengthen those bonds, don’t treat people like their replaceable.  Create connections, invest in them, protect them.

Life is so much better with the people you care in it.

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40 years YOUNG

18 Oct img_0709-1

If you are 40, or passed it, I’m sure you’ve been asked the “mandatory” question…  “so, how does it feel?”

I just got to the “4th level” of life, and was just asked that.

Personally, I’ve always been a kid at heart, and my family and friends embrace it and help me stay young despite the years.

Perfect example was the surprise party my family planned for me.

As a true “forever young” celebration, they gave me, my very own Wonderland!

Whoever saw them planning, probably thought this was a kid’s party, but no, this was a 40th birthday, and the most Wonderful one!

Everyone dressed up according to the theme, including me of course.

They had the Queen’s Court with the Flamingo Croquet outside.

As soon as I walked in, I was transported to a magical land.

Butterflies hanging from the ceiling.

The Mad Hatter’s Tea table, with lots of food and the most AMAZING cake!

The Cheshire Cat, of course, was there too.

Drinks, props for photos, and music to dance to.

This was the perfect way to celebrate!  It’s a “place” I always wanted visit, and they created it for me.

They all went along with my inner kid, and I can’t express how happy I am to have them all share it with me.

So to answer the “mandatory” question:  I felt more like a kid than 40.  I feel happy, loved, and blessed.

Yes, my state of mind and heart keep me young, but also my incredible family and friends, who always make me smile.

Thank you all for celebrating my 40 years YOUNG with me, and being part of my life.

Can’t wait to celebrate many moments more with you all.

Remember, Age is just a number…  and it doesn’t matter. What matters is how you age and spend the time in between.

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