What To Do In Abaco

When my parents announced they would be taking their sailboat to the Bahamas in early 2017, I thought it would be a pretty solid trip: I’d get to see my parents, explore some beautiful (and lesser-visited) parts of the Bahamas, and probably not have to pay for much because, well, parents. (And it would be extra good because I swore I wouldn’t stay on their sailboat but would book accommodation on land, instead – 3 adults and a cat on one 35-foot sailboat is just too much for me).

In the leadup to my trip, I got almost daily emails from my mom telling me about itineraries they were putting together, new places they had explored that we should go, and plans for my arrival. I was pretty pumped to have someone else do all the planning for me, since that’s normally a role I reluctantly/not so reluctantly take on as the most Type A person I know.

The weekend had its ups and downs, but throughout it all I couldn’t deny that visiting the Bahamas makes for a beautiful long weekend.

And now, a not-at-all comprehensive list of things to do there!

Learn Whether It’s “Abaco” or “The Abacos”

Because I have no idea and cavalierly use the two interchangeably.

Sailing

2017-02-24_17-28-02_605

The best way to travel between the different cays, in my opinion, must be sailboat. Taxis are expensive and things are far apart. If you have to take a while to get there, might as well do it from the water!

Now, I have absolutely no advice on how to rent a boat or what tour companies to use, since I was able to take advantage of the sailboat taxi from the airport to my hotel gratis. All I can tell you is prepare to get slightly quesy if you aren’t used to being on the water for long periods of time. Also prepare for the captain and first mate to continually stress out about tides and having to leave at precise times.

Explore Underwater

2017-02-27_10-28-44_000

Once you’ve gotten your fill of life above the water, time to jump down and see what’s below. Our original plan to snorkel at Great Guana (featuring apparently amazing sealife and a beautiful reef) was scuttled due to intense waves. So, we went to plan B and snorkeled Mermaid Reef close to Marsh Habour. Definitely a fun way to see some very colorful fish and a couple of rays!

And, I got to try a full-face snorkel mask, which is 10000% better than the snorkel in your mouth, once you remember to breath like normal and not like you are being chased into a dark basement.

Treasure Cay Beach

2017-02-25_10-39-01_968

My absolutely favorite part of the weekend – relaxing on Treasure Cay Beach, one of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean. When I arrived to the Bahamas, my parents suggested we alter our original plans and cancel going to this beach and I threw a very big fit about it – and I’m so glad I did. Once we arrived (because I won the fight), I had first been planning to spend the morning on the beach, then the afternoon doing something active like going for a bike ride. Alas, the day was so beautiful that I spent the entire day down there. I cannot stress how blue the water is and how sugar-powdery the sand is. Just writing about it makes me want to go back. Truly, it made the other challenging aspects of the weekend all worth it.

2017-02-25_13-32-16_588

Things to know about the Bahamas: A bunch of U.S. airlines fly into the Bahamas and specifically to Marsh Harbour, but I flew JetBlue direct to Nassau and onwards on Bahamasair. I had read horror stories about Bahamasair, and did get delayed about 2 hours on one flight due to mechnical errors – but I concede mechanical errors happen, and they did a good job at keeping us informed. I would definitely recommend taking a morning flight since I could see later flights on that airline just get more and more delayed.

No need for a visa for a short-stay U.S. citizen, and USD is happily accepted (although you may receive Bahamian money as change). I went through U.S. customs in Nassau heading back to the U.S., which ruled since I didn’t have to do it after landing.

The Abacos are very sleepy and rural, so don’t expect a Sandals-type resort. But if you want the most beautiful beach you’ve ever seen, head here.

And I still don’t know if it’s Abacos or Abaco.

Advertisements

The Other Side of London

As I bragged about last week, I was offline for part of October on a fantastic vacation to London with my gentleman. I’ve spent a fair share of time in London, having studied abroad there during college, worked there for four months after grad school, and visited a few other times. So, needless to say, I feel quite comfortable there and love any excuse to visit one of my favorite places in the world.

What I discovered on the trip is a really dumb problem: what do you do when you’ve seen all of the things, and are traveling with someone whose preferred method of touristing is skipping most of the museums? London has SO MUCH to do that I feel like we barely did anything this trip – even though we were almost constantly out and about. So, what did we do outside of the guidebook suggestions?

14633219_10103790347460154_8339591504721940708_o

Stayed in an awesome hotel

Thanks to my work travel and my slavish dedication to one hotel brand, I scraped together enough hotel points to get three free nights in the Sheraton Grand Park Lane (technically, it was only two nights at first, but we loved it so much we bagged our shitty AirBNB and came back for the last night).

The hotel had just gone through a massive multi-year renovation and we were there literally for the grand re-opening (attended by press, C-level British celebrities, and people walking Dalmatians on leashes for a mysterious reason I still don’t understand).

The best part for us was my Platinum-member (YEAH) access to the Club Lounge, which was stocked with a delicious free breakfast, snacks, and alcohol basically every hour of the day. MUCH free food was eaten, and MANY of those baby jam jars shoved into my suitcase. We know how to party.

Ate ourselves silly in the East End

Probably the best thing in the entire trip happened within our first two days: The East End food tour with Eating London Tours. We tasted eight wildly different food and drink items across the East End, including a bacon sammie, bread pudding, curry, and – of course – a beer. We couldn’t stop raving about the food, the street art, and the amazing tour guide. It could only go downhill from there, folks!

Traveled afar for a brewery and ‘za

Something my gentleman in particular enjoys is a good craft brewery experience; we actually did a brewery trail in New Hampshire a few months ago (and learned four breweries is a lot to handle in one afternoon). So, when my friend who lives in London recommended we check out Crate Brewery in Hackney, famed for its brews and its pizza, we jumped at the chance. One long Underground and Overground ride later, we were tucking in to the best cider I’ve ever had, and a Middle Eastern flatbread pizza. Will travel for noms.

 14691240_828861284007_8828890175915845298_o

 

Other fun things? A very long day trip to Paris (less “fun” than “full of wine”)… a pub quiz with a good friend of mine… many walks around London… exploring the exhibits at the Tate Modern… and, of course, all the cream teas.

 

Cheerio for a week!

All right, loyal readers (aka mom): I’m off for a week with ne’er a post in the meantime. My gentleman and I are headed to Europe!

To say am I excited would be an overstatement. (I mean that literally: the week before the flight, I came down with an ugly case of otitis externa – that’s an outer ear infection for non-nerds – in both ears. It’s been an extremely painful, and expensive week, as  I’ve seen numerous doctors to get this sorted. As I draft this, I have my follow-up with the ENT tomorrow, and I am crossing everything on my body that she will tell me I am good to fly. So, I’m not really that excited about the trip AT THIS MOMENT, lest my dreams get dashed by Ann Walters, ENT PA).

(Second update: Just saw Ann Walters, Angel, and even though she kept me waiting for an hour to see her, she gave me the all-clear! Plus I contributed to the long wait time for others by asking her to put in my eardrops for me and then chatting with her while we waited for the suckers to soak in. Now I’m just paranoid something in my body will break – like, is this how throats are supposed to feel? I CAN’T REMEMBER).

All my ear drama aside, we’ve been planning this trip for about six months and I can’t wait to see it finally happen. This is his first time in Europe, and I’m pumped he picked my favorite city in the world to visit: LONDON.

We’re cashing in hotel points to stay 2 nights in a fancy hotel, then finishing the week in an apartment rental in my favorite neighborhood. We’re planning on participating in an East End food tour, seeing a play, hitting up pub trivia, and taking a long day trip to Paris. Basically, we are doing many of the things.

So, I’m outta here. See you in a week!

 

A Look Back, and a New Start

So, it’s been a while, huh? I’m sure you’ve spent the last two months since I posted rending your garments and tearing out your hair, so I apologize for my absence. Call it a combination of life stuff, work stuff, and writer’s block – but now that we are entering into a new year (2014 already? Didn’t 2013 just happen?) I figured it was time to jump back in to narcissistically expressing my thoughts for the world to read.

I’ve had a weird last few months – nay, a weird last year. Was it really only a few months ago that I was living with my parents? That I was sunning myself on a beach in Thailand? Now I am piecing together a life in Boston, something that is more challenging than one would think.

As is my wont, as I sit on the edge of 2013 I can’t help but look back. And considering it is one of my most documented years, it’s not as difficult as you might think. Let’s jump in, gang.

JANUARY 

Image

Washington, DC; Virginia; Bangkok, Thailand

FEBRUARY

Image

Koh Lanta, Thailand; Chiang Mai, Thailand; Vientiane, Laos

MARCH

Image

Beijing, China; Siem Reap, Cambodia; Kep, Cambodia, Phnom Penh, Cambodia; Chau Doc, Vietnam; Saigon, Vietnam 

APRIL/MAY/JUNE

Image

Virginia; New Orleans, Louisiana; Emerald Isle, NC

  • I returned to my parents’ home and went quiet for a while as I started job-searching, questioning myself, wondering what I am doing with my life… you know, the usual. It was a pretty fun time for those around me. In reviewing my Facebook timeline it looks like the most exciting thing I did was find my diary from when I was 14. Talk about embarrassing! I also went to the Outer Banks for the bachelorette party of one of my favorite people – everyone loves a rainy beach weekend!
  • In actual exciting news: I traveled to NOLA for the law school graduation of one of my favorite people, with a bunch of my other favorite people coming in from around the country to celebrate! Let’s just say it was an appropriately New Orleans-y weekend.
  • By June, K10 Unemployed became K10 Employed, as I finally convinced someone to hire me, much to the relief of my parents and friends who were sick of my belly-aching.

JULY

Image

 Charlottesville, Virginia; Boston, Massachusetts

  • After celebrating the wedding of one of my best friends in gorgeous Charlottesville, VA (where both she and the groom went to university), I headed directly off to Boston. Like, I literally said goodbye to my parents on Friday, hitched a ride with two big suitcases to the wedding, flew to Boston on Sunday, and started my new job on Monday.
  • I started my new job with a roar, as I jumped in to their busiest period of the year and worked the first seven straight days I was in Beantown.
  • It wasn’t all work: I was lucky enough to land in the wonderful apartment of two of my favorite people as I apartment-hunted.

AUGUST

Image

Los Angeles, CA; Boston, MA

  • I kicked off August with a quick trip to LA; while I was namely there to sit in LAX for twelve hours (the less glamorous side of working in international education – seeing off the group flights to faraway countries), I took some time with my coworker to hit up Santa Monica and indulge in some delicious Mexican food.
  • Once I was back, I spent most of August exploring my new home of Boston, from test-driving Italian restaurants all over the city to forming hasty opinions. Mostly, I spent the month in a sublet daydreaming how I would decorate my new apartment in September – the first (semi) permanent place I would live in in over a year.

SEPTEMBER

Image

Boston, MA; Virginia

  • More Boston explorations as I discovered my locations of choice
  • I capped it off with a trip back to my parents’ home to move more of my possessions and, most importantly, finally be reunited with my kitchen supplies. For those keeping track, I’m still not completely moved out of my parents’. I’ve elected to take the ‘suitcase’ approach which means that every time I go to visit, I come back with two suitcases bulging with my belongings. It’s strangely effective.

OCTOBER

Image

Boston, MA

NOVEMBER

Boston, MA; Athens, Greece; Thessaloniki, Greece; Virginia

Thessaloniki

  • After six months in the same country, it was high time I broke out my passport again – and this time it was for baby’s first international business trip (unless you count the time I lived abroad for a job). While I spent most of my time in Greece in meetings, I managed to revisit the Acropolis after an absence of eight years, learn how to say ‘cheers’ in Greek, and eat more feta cheese than is advisable.
  • I ended the month with a good old fashioned American Thanksgiving back in Virginia – and yes, brought up more of my belongings.

DECEMBER

Image

Boston, MA; Virginia

  • By far, my favorite part of moving to Boston has been the fact that my dear friend Katie lived down just the street from me. So imagine my delight when Amanda, aka one of the greatest and most kick-ass friends you could ever meet, finally joined us in The Hub and landed an apartment right across the street! I spent most of December happily ensconced in their (metaphorical) bosoms as we helped Amanda move in, made the obligatory trips to Ikea, and drank a LOT of white wine. I mean, a lot.
  • I finished up 2013 with – you guess it – another trip to Virginia for Christmas! I’ve definitely spent more time in my home state this year than I have in the past seven years of my life. That’ll be it for a couple of months as I’m not slated to return until March – just in time to start enjoying the beautiful weather, with sailing trips and beach bumming in my future.

And so for 2014? I want to take the time for activity. Not just physical activity, but actively doing things instead of passively sitting by. Whether that is indulging in my hobbies (and I do want to keep writing this blog in my life), continuing to grow my friendships, or exploring my home instead of sitting around, this will not be a year for sitting and watching the world go by.

As you read this (if you finished it, that is!) I’m headed back to Boston to celebrate the start of another year with my dear friends. 2013 was the year of K10 Travels, but I do resolve that 2014 will continue to be the year of K10 Explores.

Why I Hate Traveling Solo

I have a secret that I’m a little ashamed to reveal: I hate traveling solo.

IMG_3677

I know that this is 2013 and I am a modern, capable woman, and I can do anything I want by myself without a man or anyone else by my side! Okay, okay, I am capable of traveling solo. In addition to a solo weekend jaunt to Ljubljana in the fall, I also spent five+ weeks in the spring exploring Southeast Asia on my own before hooking up with family for the last few weeks. I didn’t die, suffer any terrible accidents (aside from destroying my  right calf after I crashed my motorbike, the scars from which I still bear today), or even get sick. Probably because I went through three bottles of mozzie spray to ward off dengue fever. Yes, I am physically, emotionally, mentally, and financially capable enough to travel on my own.

Never forget. I know I can't.

Never forget. I know I can’t.

But you guys? I hated it. I don’t know if I have really explored this fully with anyone. It makes me feel a little embarassed to say that it was just something I hated doing. I don’t want to give off the impression that I hate traveling or hated Asia, because neither of which is true. I still have so many travel plans in my future – most immediately South America and hopefully the Balkans soon. I just hate doing it alone.

I’ve read all the treatises about how amazing solo travel is. You can do whatever you want, whenever you want. Eat when and where you want. Spend a day wandering in a museum or reading by a canal or just lying around doing nothing. Get up and go at a moment’s notice. Having once traveled in a group of five friends (which is way too many), I absolutely appreciate that it’s wonderful to not have to run your decisions past anyone else. You can be your own boss.

Top bummer of traveling solo: you have to take awkward selfies ALL THE TIME.

Top bummer of traveling solo: you have to take awkward selfies ALL THE TIME.

But now that I’ve spent so much time on my own, I’ve found it’s just not something I like doing. Besides the obvious benefits of traveling with another person (split costs, a bag-watcher when you go to the bathroom, another mind when you are too mentally drained to figure out logistics), I just like sharing things with others. My ideal travel partners have been family and friends who spend approximately 40% of their time with me exploring the city and the other 60% doing whatever, leaving me to wander alone. I love being able to spend whole afternoons exploring back alleys or reading in a coffee shop in a foreign city, meeting up with loved ones to share stories from our days over dinner. And so my future travel is going to be framed around visiting friends who live abroad or finding like-minded travel partners to come on a grand adventure with me.

Going on an adventure

And you know what? This life is too short to do something I hate just for the sake of appearance (this is also my reasoning behind not eating 100% healthy. It’s not like I WON’T die if I don’t eat that crepe, after all). And so I will continue to travel as often as I can, exactly as I like, and nobody can say a damn thing about it. Unless you want to travel with me, because if I do say so myself, I am an excellent travel buddy.

They can attest. One of my favorite traveling-with-friends trips.

They can attest. One of my favorite traveling-with-friends trips.

One Year

One year ago to the day, I was living in London. I had arrived to find my apartment would be in a student residence hall flat, making me the lucky recipient of three single beds and residence hall issue starchy sheets (not that I am one to look a gift rent-free apartment in posh South Kensington in the mouth…).  I remember emailing my mother photos of my apartment to have her sternly reprimand me, “You need to put something on that blank wall behind your couch! Make it more homey.” She knows me as only a mother can; I am quite the homebody and I eagerly flip through the pages of each month’s Real Simple magazine, envisioning ways to embrace my inner interior design goddess self. In stores, I often find myself wandering dreamlessly down the kitchenware and storage solution aisles and contemplate the purchase of those teeny frying pans that contain the picture of a sunny-side up egg.

I have to wonder, why do I do these things? I could wax poetic about the ever-changing world and how we crave to create stability where possible. I may not be able to understand what my government does with my privacy, how my coworkers will take to me, or why it never rains when I prepare for the forecast by wearing my rainboots. But at least I can come home to a space uniquely mine, that I have created out of thin air, that is my source of constancy.

One year ago, I arrived in a place that would be mine for a short four months. Despite the length of time, I endeavored to create home where I could: I purchase cheap throw pillow, I put pictures up on the walls.

But four months disappear in a flash, and soon I was donating those throw pillows as I prepared for a life of travel in the spring. There is perhaps no less stable life than that of a traveler; I moved from guesthouse to hostel to hotel, sometimes staying for two weeks but sometimes staying for one night. Whenever possible, I unpacked my meager belongings into the dresser in my room, eager to find some semblance of home.

Now it is one year later from my little apartment with three beds in a basement in London. I have arrived in a place that will be my home – is my home? It’s difficult for me to tell if it is still to happen or if I am living it now. For someone so eager to find a place of comfort and solitude, I have still retained my vagabond ways. Even when moving from one temporary place to another before I arrive at my permanent (at least for a year) residence, I have added touches of me: picture frames on the nightstand, a comforter with a flower on it. I can at least claim this six square foot bed as my own, my place, my comfort. And then finally, finally, one year later, I will arrive in my home. I will buy a bouquet of bright flowers from the farmer’s market and place them in a mason jar on top of my bookshelf (all of these items are still imaginary, by the way). I will print out pictures from my travels and hang them on my walls – I’ve already perfectly pictured which ones will go where. I will fill my apartment with the smell of pies, and embrace being still for once. And perhaps then I will be presently present in my home.

Livin’ it up at… LAX

Working in the field of international education means you inevitably get to do some super cool sounding international business trips (in many ways, I am international business traveler Regina Phalange). Of course, I haven’t really done any of those yet, putting aside that time I got paid to live and work in London, which was pretty nice of them.

My most recent foray? To LAX. Not to LA, per se – I literally spent twelve hours in LAX (and didn’t see a SINGLE CELEBRITY. Not worth it. But I was mistaken for an airport employee seven times, which is what you get for wearing an employer-issued polo. Seriously, one woman came up to me and was all, “Do you work here?” Me, super nice and smiley: “No, I’m sorry, I don’t.” Her: “Okay well do you know where the Fiji Airlines counter is?” Me: “I’m so sorry, I’m afraid I don’t know.” Her: *stares at me accusingly for a long time, hating me for not knowing something about a place that is not my place of employment*).

In my whirlwind 45-hour trip to the worst coast, I did get to see a tiny tidbit of LA. I have a pretty hate-hate relationship with California, since the one and only time I’ve been there (minus that period when I was a wee one living in the OC for a year), I contracted pneumonia, fainted in the plane on the way back, and then was sick for three weeks. Let it be known I contracted pneumonia in August. I also snobbishly think that if I’m gonna be in the air that long, I might as well be flying to another country. Amirite?!

1-photo (36)

Putting aside my unfounded and rude prejudice of California, I did have some delightful experiences outside of the airport and the airport hotel. A quick bus ride found us down on the Santa Monica pier (tourists and OWNING IT), where I exclaimed no fewer than five times, “You know, Raise Your Voice filmed a scene here. Do you want to watch it later? Actually, no need, I’ll just recite the scene from memory.” It was actually pretty lovely to soak in the setting sun while standing in the surf and enjoying the crowds around us.

1-photo (35)

Even more enjoyable was popping into an amazing Mexican place and ordering far too many chips. Choriqueso, you guys. Best thing to happen to me. Despite not seeing any celebrities and spending more time in the airport/the air than I spent in the city, I gotta say, there are worst ways to spend a Wednesday evening.

photo (38)