Something surprising happened after I visited Istanbul in April 2013…I came back feeling like a more empowered traveler! Even through I’ve been traveling for years, it was a trip filled with “firsts.” My first time traveling to a Muslim country, first time visiting a mosque, first time staying in one city for a whole week and my first time having two days all to myself. It’s my life’s mission to get the word out on how absolutely AMAZING this city is.
To get inspired, visit my Istanbul Pinterest Board “Turkish Delight!”
Here’s another “first” for me, and again it involves Istanbul! My first Custom Travel Map! I’ve pinned the highlights from my trip including Hotels, Tourist Attractions, Food/Beverage Recommendations and Important Transportation stops. My hope is that you’ll use this as a visual guide for when you book your future trip to Istanbul.
This week I decided to look through some of the blogs I follow as a activity given to me from WordPress via ‘Zero to Hero’ Challenge (30 days to a better blog in 2014). I stumbled on something that really caught my eye – 30 Tested Adventures for your 2014 Bucket List from Bucket List Publications. It’s a collection of pictures to inspire you while you’re creating your 2014 Bucket List and you should all check it out ’cause it’s pretty amazing! (Thanks Lesley!)
There’s only one little problem to this….I don’t actually have an official Bucket List! ….Gasp!!
I like to think that I’m a very organized person and I travel quite a bit so I should technically have one, but I don’t. I’m more of a traveling free spirit and have some ideas on where I would like to go but most of my trips just kinda…happen. I’m officially changing this for 2014 and going to focus on something more…official. Check out my newly expanded Andiamo Pinterest Page! For 2014 I’m hoping to cross off Carlsberg Visiting Center for a Brew Tour, Pulpit Rock in Norway, Vasa Museum in Stockholm, Tivoli Park in Copenhagen, stay in the town of Bergen to view the fjords of Norway and see all the amazing architecture in Dubai!
For a recap of what I crossed off my non-existent Bucket List in 2013…see below!
If you have a ‘Bucket List’ Pinterest Page, I want to follow it! Let me know the address and I’ll be sure to check it out!
Find the largest Fig Tree in the US (Moreton Fig Tree, Santa Barbara, California)
Zip Line in Skagway, Alaska
See a sunset in Santorini, Greece
Buy something at St. Lawrence Market (one of the worlds best markets)in Toronto, Canada
Visit ‘Little Venice’ in Mykonos, Greece
Take a cruise through Glacier Bay National Park
Walk along the Boardwalk on the Toronto Islands
View the Bosphorus Bridge (Connecting Europe and Asia)
Join a new Wine Club!
Try Turkish Tea with a Turkish Delight Treat
See what a real Alaskan town looks like!
Stay in a cozy cottage for wine tasting in Paso Robles, California
Bike ride to Mendenhall Glacier in Alaska
Find the blue domed buildings in Oia – Santorini, Greece
Visit my first mosque – Sultan Ahmed (Blue Mosque)
Visit Neptune Pool at Hearst Castle!
Wine Tasting in Niagara Falls Region
Visit the Harem at Topkapi Palace
There’s three things that December means to most Chicagoans: it’s absolutely freezing outside, there’s already snow on the ground (white or dirty black, both count here) and most of us are getting ready for full hibernation mode! Despite all this, I’d like to think that most of us are also really excited for the upcoming holidays (I know I am!). My multi-colored lights are lit and looped around my balcony, my Christmas scented candles are filling up my cozy condo with delicious scents of “Christmas Cookie” and “Gingerbread” and my little pup, Lilo, may or may not have her holiday sweater on (I promise that she picked it out herself)!
This is also the time that I get super excited about putting up my Christmas tree! It’s definitely nothing grand, standing at only 3ft tall, but it’s pre-lit and fake…so it’s efficient and doesn’t cause an automatic allergic reaction, which I consider a huge plus (Merry Christmas to me!). Another reason I love setting up my tree is I can finally display all my travel ornaments I’ve collected over the years, which leads me to a great piece of travel advice I will offer you…Pick one souvenir and stick with it!
The biggest question I get asked when people hear how often I travel is, “How can you afford all this?” It’s very simple, I don’t overspend. I budget where I can, and that includes all the tempting souvenirs that make your eyes glaze over when you’re walking through narrow streets or waiting in those endless lines at must-see museums. Don’t get me wrong, this was a hard lesson for me to learn too so don’t think I was exempt from falling prey to the beautifully displayed shop windows or the elderly man trying to sell me “locally-made” goods…we’ve all been there! But today is a new day for you! Pick something along your travels that means something to you and stick with it. For me it’s ornaments, but for you it could be collectable spoons, or shoes, or magnets, or a million other things. My sister buys Emily Bronte’s ‘Wuthering Height’s’ book from every country in their native language. She’s a huge book lover and it’s one of her favorites, so it makes sense. She also buys ornaments, but since she’s my sister she gets a pass on two souvenirs!
Below are some of my favorite ornaments that are displayed on this years Christmas tree. Some are cheesy (Princess Sisi, Vienna-Austria), some were a splurge (Golden Pineapple, Oahu-Hawaii) and some were free (Wooden spoon from Budapest – free with purchase of paprika spice). There also seems to be a running theme of alcohol related ones, but no judging! Enjoy all the pics and HAPPY HOLIDAYS!
Wine bottle representing ‘Chardonnay Cottege’ wine trip – Paso Robles, CA
Evil Eye – Istanbul, Turkey
Yellow Taxi Cab – New York, NY
Gladiator – Rome, Italy
Representing the Alaskian pub crawl – Alaskian Cruise 2013
Beautiful blue-topped buildings – Santorini, Greece
Famous Water Tower – Chicago, IL
Golden pineapple – Oahu, Hawaii!
Wooden paprika spoon – Budapest, Hungary
Traditional egg ornament – Prague, Czech Republic
Princess Sisi – Vienna, Austria
Drunk skeleton – Riviera Maya, Mexico
Sometimes life throws you a curveball. It’s always a bit unexpected and leaves you shaken up, but it’s always interesting to see what comes out of it. There’s a silver lining in everything, and for me it was discovering the world. In the past four years I’ve enjoyed a fresh pint of Guinness in Ireland, seen the Eiffel Tower light up the night in Paris, marveled at the works of Gaudi in Barcelona, gone for a swim off the island of Santorini (a little panic ensuing), devoured a ‘wet burger’ at 5am in Istanbul, received an unwarranted ticket in Budapest and kayaked with whales in Alaska. I often wonder where my life would be today if it wasn’t for that once scary curveball.
I’m definitely not your traditional traveler. Sure I’ll try and make it to all the hot spots, but I’ll also be the one who goes down that dark alley in search of the most authentic local meal. I’m the traveler who will fall in love with a hot Grecian man serving me coffee on the ferry to Santorini (his name was George and how else was I going to entertain myself for a 4hr ferry?). I’m also the traveler who got into an unmarked white van in Istanbul (…for real). I surprise myself at times at how far I’ve come. I continue to explore and grow and my hope is that by sharing these experiences, you too will feel empowered to start a new journey of your own.
Oh, and as far as Three Little Birds Travel, it’s a dedication to the many travels with my sister and for those who follow us in spirit. Don’t think I don’t notice the flickering lights or you walking through my crusie cabin…(shiver).