Travel Inspirations, Wandering, Wanderlusting & Musings

Travel. Explore. Be Free.

See for yourself how liberating it is to wander, explore and get lost in your surrounding in someplace new.

~ Travel Well ~

Asia, Godivaworld Travels

The Tokyo Experience!

using the universeIsn’t it amazing the twists and turns of life?!

Tokyo was always on my “Travel Experience” list but never did I think the opportunity would fall into my lap in the fashion that it did.  It literally came outta nowhere or let’s say on my mobile by way of a friend who was planning a trip there from Singapore and wanted me to accompany them….flight, accommodations covered!  Now could I really say “no” to that?

So the journey began!

I made the 13 hour nonstop flight to Tokyo’s Narita International Airport from Atlanta’s Hartsfield Jackson International airport.  Let me say this, upon arrival and getting through immigration this was probably the first time in my travels where I did NOT speak nor comprehend the language in any way lol!

In any case I had absolutely no plans for my voyage to Tokyo, just wander, explore and stumble upon things as much as possible.  Not only did I wander and stumble, I got off the beaten path and found myself lost-but-not-lost wandering aimlessly which took me on a totally unexpected adventure (don’t you love those moments?).

What happened is while shopping and walking around, I got separated from my friend but luckily I had my train pass so I attempted (successfully) to make my way back to the station closest to the Mandarin Oriental (an amazing hotel and my accommodations for the stay….ooh I was smaller in size then – 2011 I might add).

The train system in Tokyo is pretty user friendly so after stopping for a bite and stumbling upon a Lush store which I had to pry myself out of, I made my way back to the train station.  Tokyo’s most prominent train line is the JR Yamanote Line, a loop line which connects Tokyo’s multiple city centers. The city’s 13 subway lines are operated by two companies and run largely inside the Yamanote circle and the areas around Ginza and Shitamachi.

When I tell you it was one adventure after the other.  I purchased a little trinket for myself from a jewelry store (no not Mikimotos which I have a pictures of) and while wandering around again, I somehow misplaced the gift bag with said ring in it.  We had to trace our steps on a ring-in-bag-seeking mission not knowing where we stopped, turned or possibly plopped the bag down.  Lucky for me, after tracking a few invisible bread crumbs marking our steps we stopped off in this side store and voila’ the store worker had the bag at the register.  How in the world did I leave an entire piece of jewelry in a bag in the store??? (I can be absentminded at times.)

Besides that little hiccup and me getting separated and having to find my way back the trip itself was one for the books.  I ran into a Krispy Kreme – if anyone knows me they know my total addiction with the sweets.  I learned (i.e figured out how) to eat soup without any silverware.  I was able to spend an evening at one of the “Best 100 Bars in the world” – The Star Bar Ginza which proved itself to be a pretty cool spot.  We saw a few tricks (need to locate the footage) and got pretty ‘warmed up’ if I do say so myself.

All in all, I accomplished what I wanted as part of my invitation and purpose and the experience was and is forever ingrained in my memory bank of travels and adventures.   I’d always wanted to make my way to Tokyo and now that I have I can say that I would gladly do a return journey as well.

Minus me almost missing my flight while enroute to the airport – yeah so I’m on the train headed to the airport in plenty time for the 2 hr check-in and I get a call from Delta’s automated system stating the flight has changed.  Come again? So I’m on the train to Narita trying to reach Delta’s skymiles hotline meanwhile my phone is blowing up with messages about my flight BOARDING as I’m on the train near the airport.  When I finally got someone on the horn I was told that there was an error and my flight will be departing as scheduled.  As luck would have it, when I got to the gate, we were delayed.

As if that wasn’t enough once I finally arrived back in Atlanta, CNN was reporting the Earthquake Tsunami that hit Japan which led to all my friends and family calling me to see if I’d made it home.  It was truly one of those moments where I had to question my purpose because that was about as close a call as any I’ve ever had.

Enjoy the slide show of my special moments from my Tokyo experience!

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Doumo arigatou gozaimasu!

 

Travel Inspirations, Wandering, Wanderlusting & Musings

A Wanderlust Inspired

There are 195 countries in the world today (Taiwan is not widely recognized as one – been there and didn’t know that until just now) and I want to get lost in as many of them as possible.

My adventures thus far have taken me to quite a few world handsplaces (5 of the 7 continents to be exact) but there are some I am itching to get to in the notso distant future (and will).

Soooooo in the interest of sharing – after all sharing IS caring – here is my current “Godivaworld Wanderlist” in no particular order, not all-inclusive, and subject to change.

  • Easter Island (Chile)
  • Fraser Island – Queensland, Sydney and Melbourne (Australia)
  • Havana (Cuba)
  • Casablanca, Marrakesh, and Tangier (Morocco)
  • Côte d’Azur (France)
  • Santorini (Greece) – was thinking of going in 2014 for my birthday but given January was not the best in terms of weather I chose Bali instead
  • Zanzibar (Tanzania)
  • Isle of Capri (Italy)
  • Madagascar (waaaay before the 3D animated movie, back when I was in elementary school I did a paper on the Lemur and since that time I’ve had Madagascar on my “to see” list)
  • Great Wall of China (China)
  • Phuket (Thailand)
  • Taj Mahal – Agra (India)
  • Abu Simbel (Egypt)

go there

The when and the where much like my adventures are unknown but rest assured my feet will land somewhere!  Where will you go?

My Continent Badges:
          

 

~ Travel Well ~

Europe, Godivaworld Travels

My European Adventure

It’s not enough that I was fortunate enough to go to high school in Germany (Mannheim to be exact) but revisiting Europe as an adult to include my old high school was EVERYTHING!  The opportunity presented itself for me to return to Europe with stops in Paris, Munich, and the final hurrah in Amsterdam.

Paris…….”La Ville Lumière” (The City of Light) and otherwise revered as the “City of Love”.  It was a short trip in what would be a 7 day adventure but  no less exciting.  I took the lifts up to the tippy top floor of the Eiffel Tower which provided the ultimate view of the landscape.  Paris truly looks like a postcard from every angle or at best like pages cleanly torn straight from an artist canvas.

Munich…….Oktoberfest! Reminiscent of my teenage years at the various Fests in and around Mannheim where I had the fortune of living during my teen years.  However (with a long pause and tilt of head), being at Oktoberfest as an full grown adult was an experience to be had and should be had atleast once in one’s lifetime! Sitting here writing this got me thinking about revisiting.

The Munich leg of the trip was great not just because of Oktoberfest but largely in part for the opportunity to make a stop in Mannheim to see how much things had changed since leaving my high school.  It was like turning back the hands of time with the exception of a few differences.  Unbeknownst to me (at the time), the base itself was shutting down just a few years after my visit (sometime in 2014 I believe) which made it that much more special to have made the voyage back before there was nothing to go back to.

Amsterdam……..Finally as the last stop on this adventure train which was a great end to a memorable trip.  The highlight of this final destination of the 3-parter was whatever crossed my path.  The only planned event was – believe it or not – seeing Lil Wayne in concert lol!  Amsterdam was everything you’d imagine it to be – sights, sounds, the Red Light district, food, arts, architecture, and so on and so forth!  It is definitely a place I would visit again.

Travel Well!

Mexico, North America

A Cancun Wedding

Party!  Party! Party!  Well that’s what most think when they think of Cancun and of course “Tequila” however there’s so much more to this beautiful city.  This trip exemplified the words “Destination Wedding” as it was one of the most beautiful weddings, brides, gathering of guests, etc. I have seen in real life.

Backstory:

Now I’d been to Cancun several times so this was truly about supporting my friend during his nuptials.  I didn’t know a soul but the groom but again having been to Cancun plenty times before, traveling solo to an event where I knew no one fed right into my internal wanderlust being.

My plan was to detox and be totally random until it was time to grab my tissue and throw rice (….well maybe not rice as I guess that went out a couple decades ago lol).  Nevertheless, I used the time to wander which I’ve become so accustomed to doing – even at home.  Since I’ve never met a stranger, either home or abroad, it’s no surprise that I actually met some cool chicks ironically from the Atlanta area the day of the wedding.

My hotel room overlooked the wedding site which transformed itself almost before my eyes over the course of the day or atleast the random periods of time I was in the room and happened to step out onto the balcony.  Nevertheless, the beachfront games and bathers scattered as the hotel made room for the main event of the evening.

As the sun set over Cancun, the wedding festivities got underway.  The winds picked up accompanied by the ocean breeze which added a little chill to the evening air.  We didn’t care, as we were anxiously awaiting the arrival of the bridal party down the aisle.  I must say, the bride, the groom, the party, the setting was nothing short of your glossy wedding magazine print ad – just a symbol of all things beautiful in life and love.

The ceremony went off without a hitch and the newlyweds and their guests danced the night away!!

Sometimes my travel is with/for a purpose and other times it is just to satisfy my inner wanderer.  No matter the reason it is the act of travel no less and for that it is not the destination as much as it is showing support and love for those who mean even a little bit in one’s world.

~ Travel Well ~

Asia, Godivaworld Travels

A Bali Birthday!

It’s Sunday, January 5th and our journey to Bali began with the flight from LAX to the Asian hub in Taipei, Taiwan…a mere 10+ hour flight followed by the 6 hour flight to Bali from Taipei! This would be the first of about 7 flights for me during this journey for my 40th birthday.

 

The Arrival – Day 1 (January 7th)

As Bali is 16 hours ahead of LAX (our departure location), we left on Sunday and arrived on Tuesday, January 7th local time.  First, was the shock as we emerged from a long line in customs to what felt like 900 smoldering degrees outside.  There were a sea of drivers with cards of names in which I was trying my best to search through for my own name.  I was slightly overwhelmed to say the least but eventually found the driver with my name.  After telling the 2 drivers that it would just be us vs the 6+ that were anticipated, we piled into the air conditioned vehicle ready to start our adventure.

First thing we noticed were all the scooters, motorbikes on the road not to mention the driving being totally opposite of that in the Western world.  Our driver – Gusti took us to a little restaurant enroute to our villa which was our first intro to Bali.

received_m_mid_1389148870407_cbd096daf4c02a4c61_1The Villa

So when I first started planning and even before I chose Bali, I knew that I wanted to rent a villa just to add to this once in a lifetime experience and intro to 40.  Let me say, this villa did NOT disappoint!  It was just what I envisioned and then some.  It would have been the perfect accommodation for the larger group that originally planned to partake in this journey.  It was a 3000+ sq ft 3 bedroom, 4 bathroom, living room, kitchen, private pool villa in South Kuta, Bali (Indonesia).  The pictures really don’t do it justice as you would probably think it’s the entire property but really it’s an individual villa (#104 was our Villa #), spacious and uber private.

Before the trip I came across the spa packages, all of which were to DIE for which included a 6-day Body Purification that was the equivalent to the cost of 1 spa treatment here in the US.  Of course I had to snag that for us as my way of saying thanks….and it was pure HEAVEN each and every day.  By the 3rd day though it was just too much so we opted not to do our 2 sessions that day as we were (believe it or not) “massaged-out” lol!  Did I tell you the showers were outside?  It was the most liberating thing EVER….once I got past the idea of bugs and snakes trying to snack on my nekkedness lol!

In and around Bali

So I left the schedule kinda open to ensure I didn’t wear myself out which I tend to do alot when I travel, however I did have a few things in mind that I either wanted to do or see to include both a temple or 2 and riding the elephants – both of which we were able to accomplish.  The first couple days were more or less just exploring and figuring things out.  The only constant was probably our appetite and my cocktail intake which after all it was a Sssselebration lol!  We were ready to eat even before we finished the meal we were eating which made us crack up each and every time. Because the language was totally foreign to us, we also found comedy in randomly calling out food when someone spoke in their native tongue…..then again we were always talking bout, looking for, ordering, and partaking in food.  Indonesian food put you in mind of Thai cuisines, lots of rices and spices.  The local beer and alcohol was “Bintang” and “Arak” respectfully however I traveled with my own favorite – “Ciroc” peach and regular lol!

Transportation was interesting and thankfully the villa provided a driver which was really convenient for us not to mention he was soooo friendly and cool!  Given the 200+ million people in Indonesia and 4 + million in Bali alone, it’s no wonder that the major transportation method was scooters/motorbikes and they were EVERYWHERE!  I believe I died every time we went somewhere because these bikes were all over the road with babies, 2 and 3 people on one, helmets no helmets, dodging in between cars etc.  I just had to close my eyes a few times while saying “I’m bout to die” which of course didn’t happen lol!

My BIRTHDAY!!!!!! January 9th came in and brought with it a lil present by way of a lil cold but I was NOT going to allow a little bit of a cold to in any wreck my special day.  On this day, I went to the Bali Zoo and did an elephant adventure; we went to see Uluwatu Temple – Kecak Dance which was pretty spectacular; finally ending with my Jimbaran Bay Seafood Birthday dinner on the beach.  Lucky for me, with the 12 hour difference I was able to not only celebrate my milestone birthday in a major way but to recognize it TWICE – Bali time and 12 hours later U.S ET.

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All in all I’d say we did what we wanted, played tourist, relaxed, ate, turned up a little, and over all had a fantastic time.

Godivaworld Travels, South America

The Girl IN Ipanema

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Christ the Redeemer (Rio de Janeiro)

Home to the 2016 Summer Olympics, Rio de Janeiro is the capital city of the state of Rio de Janeiro and the second largest city in the South American country of Brazil. “Rio” as the city is commonly abbreviated is also the third largest metropolitan area in Brazil. It is considered one of the main tourist destinations in the Southern Hemisphere and is famous for its beaches, Carnaval celebration and various landmarks such as the statue of Christ the Redeemer.

I had the fortune of traveling to the beautiful city of Rio de Janeiro almost on a whim and boy am I glad I did.

Rio de Janeiro was everything I thought it would be and THEN some!

I flew out of Atlanta’s Hartsfield Jackson International Airport with a brief stop in Sao Paolo, Brazil before continuing on to Rio de Janeiro!  The two gals I was meeting had previously arrived from New York and were waiting at our hotel.

Our hotel was a boutique-type hotel with a roof-top pool overlooking Ipanema Beach and all of the Brazilian beauties and hotties with their wears on display.

Our days were spent taking in the sights, wandering around, playing tourists and locals, while our nights were engrossed in Samba dancing.

We languished by the pool with Caipirinha’s, Brazil’s national cocktail, in hand (Caipirinhas recipe) or in the lobby or pretty much anywhere Caipirinha’s were served which was EVERYWHERE!

The favela experience was most memorable as we walked through the Rocinha favela of Rio de Janeiro with an extremely knowledgeable guide experiencing all the sights and sounds of the people in this area.

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I think it’s about time for another visit to Rio de Janeiro just to see what’s new.

Muito Obrigado!

~ Travel Well ~