Playa Brasilito: Our Hidden Gem

Happy Travel Tuesday! Don’t forget to link up at the bottom of the post.

This month it was my turn to choose the prompt and I chose “One of the best parts about traveling is finding somewhere new and unexpected. What’s a hidden gem that you have stumbled upon while exploring a new place?”

This seems to be a common theme in our travels. Maybe it’s because we are what Travis calls 85% travelers (we get about 85% right, the other 15% rarely goes as planned) or maybe we just have a tendency to stray from the beaten path. Either way we often find ourselves unexpectadly surprised at what we find when we do.

My favorite story of when that has happened is from our honeymoon a couple years ago.

PS I did share an abbreviated version of this story for another Travel Tuesday prompted post, so it might sound familiar to some BUT I like it enough to share again.

PPS This was pre-blogging and good camera days, so please don’t judge my crappy picture quality too hard.  Continue reading

Liebster Award

           A couple weeks ago Christine at A Keane Sense of Adventure nominated me for a Liebster Award. Christine is a fellow Houstonian (and Katy ISD alumni) who shares her gorgeous travel photography on her blog. My favorite fact about her is that her adorable son was chosen to participate in the Mutton Bustin’ competition at the Houston Rodeo a few years ago (if you have no idea what I am  talking about, you should read about it here). I was so honored that she chose my little spot on the internet as one of her favorites, thanks Christine!
            If you are wondering exactly what the Leibster Award is, let me fill you in. It’s an online award that is given by bloggers to blogs that they love (usually with less than 1,000 followers). Once you are nominated you answer questions written by the nominating blogger and nominate some blogs that you love. So for your reading pleasure this Friday, here are my responses… Leibster
1. What are 3 things you love/miss about your hometown?
Tex-mex (especially queso), spending our weekends with friends and family, and our cute, little neighborhood.
2. What is the last movie you saw? And would you recommend it to others?
 I think it was Birdman. I had mixed feelings about it, it was very different than any movie I had seen before. I WOULD recommend American Sniper to the 5 people that haven’t seen it yet.
3. What is your favorite city in the world and why?
Hmmm. Probably London, ever since I went there for the first time with my family I said that I wanted to live there. My parents beat me to the punch though, maybe one day…
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4. How did you come up with your blog name?
Our last name is Alkek, we live abroad and I am a big fan of alliteration.
5. Name a movie that ignites your wanderlust.
I am not much of a movie watcher (they are just too long) so that’s a tough one. Oh wait, ever since I saw The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants I have wanted to go to Greece. It still remains unchecked on my 30 Before 30 list.
6. Have you been somewhere that turned out to be completely different than what you imagined?
Maybe I am just really bad at researching places in advance but I feel like this happens a lot. Most recently though, the port city of Nadi in Fiji was a lot less developed than we expected it to be with all the tourism in the area. It’s crazy to think how much money must be going into the resorts and tours but somehow it doesn’t seem to be making it’s way into the local economy.
7. Are you a planner (like me!)? Or are you spontaneous when it comes to traveling?
Travis is a planner extraordinaire so I usually leave our trips up to him. When it is up to me I do like to have a plan of some sort but also leave room to see where the day takes us.
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8.  Can you speak more than one language? If so, what are they?
I spent a solid portion of my childhood living in South America, so I do speak some Spanish. It should be better than it is, I need to do some brushing up in that department.
9. What is the most embarrassing thing that has happened to you while on a trip?
When we were at the Whitsunday coast I got reallllllly sunburned on the last day. When I went to get dressed to go to the airport I realized that my maxi dress (the only thing comfortable enough to wear) was not compatible with any of the undergarments I had brought. I ended up having to go commando on the plane but I had so much aloe vera on the back of my legs that my dress kept sticking to them and making it more see through. It wasn’t a pretty sight. Also, when Travis made me take this picture at Alcatraz, complete with sound effects.
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10. What is your favorite post that you have written (please provide link)?
 Probably Christmas in Fiji because it was such a memorable trip that I love looking back on.DSC_0332
I nominate my favorite Aussie expat bloggers: Abby from Abby’s Roads, Emily Anne from EAT All Over the World and Laura from Laura and Peter Down Under.
Here are your questions, can’t wait to read your responses!

 

1. What is your favorite thing about living in Australia?
2. What surprised you the most about living here?
3. If you could only watch one TV show for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?
4. If you could move anywhere else in the world where would it be?
5. What is your favorite and least favorite thing about blogging?
6. What’s your typical brunch order?
7. What’s your next travel destination?
8. What’s your favorite book you have read lately?
9. What’s the first place you take visitors to?
10. Favorite post that you have written?

 

Have a great weekend! We are heading off to Stradbroke Island for a birthday celebration/costume party. We are dressing up as our favorite 90’s TV power couple, any guesses who?!?

Travel Misadventures

Today I’m linking up with the ladies of Travel Tuesday to talk about the rare times that things don’t go as planned.

In the past three and a half years that Travis have been going on trips we have had pretty good luck with the actual travel part (besides last month when my sister took our passports to Scotland) but we have had a few mishaps in finding our intended location…

Seal Rock

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Seal(less) Rock

Our first trip we took together was to San Francisco. This is where I learned of Trav’s travel style of hitting the pavement early and seeing anything and everything. This day was no different, Travis woke me up at the crack of dawn to go on an hour long bus ride and mile walk to see the Seal Rock that he had seen on our trusty map. Once we finally made it to the rock we noticed not only were we the only people around but also there were no seals in sight. That is when Travis decided to do a quick google search which informed us that the seals stopped coming to the rocks in 1989. They now go to Fisherman’s Warf which was much more conveniently located. From then on you would think we would have learned to do better research…

Buckingham Palace

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This is by far our most embarrassing mistake. On our first trip to London together to see my parents we headed out and see the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace. After following signs and walking for a while we noticed a small crowd and some guards on horseback. We assumed that this must be it. We watched the whole ceremony that mostly consisted of guards on horseback switching places and standing around. We decided that this whole changing of the guards business was underwhelming and Buckingham Palace wasn’t all it was chalked up to be (and didn’t look anything like it did on the postcard in Cool Runnings). Imagine our surprise when we continued our walk and stumbled upon the actual Buckingham Palace and realized we had been hanging out by the stables all morning.

Playa Conchal

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1) Hanging with our new friend 2) GPS’s suck. 3) Brasilito (Playa Conchal on the other side of the rocks in the background)

On our honeymoon in Costa Rica, we rented a car and tried to explore a new beach each day. The concierge at our hotel told us the most beautiful beach was called Playa Conchal and we had to see it for ourselves. He gave us loose directions and we headed out in our trusty little Jimmy. We followed our outdated Garmin until we saw the sign for Playa Conchal. We parked and headed to the shore. When we got there we were greeted by an empty beach with brownish water. We were surprised that concierge would speak so highly of such a subpar beach but decided to enjoy having the place to ourselves and frolicked in the waves all day, only stopping to have lunch on the shore. On our way back to the car a man outside a restaurant started making small talk and asked if we were going to Playa Conchal. We were so confused (because we thought we were standing on it) until he informed we were at Playa Brasilito and Conchal was on the other side of the rocks. We walked around and saw the most beautiful beach with white sand and blue water, resort loungers and umbrellas scattered everywhere.

We decided to return the following day, following our GPS for every turn. Until we turned right onto an empty beach. And sunk in the sand. We had to walk a long way to find some locals to help push us out. After that ordeal we decided to return to what we knew- Playa Brasilito. We spent the afternoon smoking cigars (Trav not me), drinking cervezas and hanging out with the restaurant owner that first told us we were in the wrong spot. He wished us luck and made us promise to return to Brasilito in ten years with our children. We still talk about making our trip back to our special little spot in Costa Rica.

Hope you enjoyed our silly mistakes, we are lucky that those are our only misadventures so far. Sorry about the photo quality, I am away from home still so I had to save them from facebook. Plus most of them were probably taken on an iPhone version 1.

 

How to Survive the Longest Flights in the World

flight

When I say the longest flights in the world I am not exaggerating. Next Saturday I will be boarding a flight from LA to Melbourne, which is on the list of the world’s longest flights. This will be my ninth long/ultra long haul flight in the past six months. A long haul flight is considered 6-12 hours whereas an ultra-long haul is anything greater than 12 hours.

I definitely would not consider myself an expert in this field but I am getting quite a bit of experience in not losing my sanity while sitting knees to chest in a claustrophobic airplane cabin (doesn’t that sound appealing- who wants to come visit?!). Here are my tips of the trade…

Where to Sit

First class, duh. BUT for those of us regular folks who don’t have that luxury we have to turn to other means of comfort in the dreaded economy cabin. Depending on how much you spent on your flight, upgrading to economy plus for a couple hundred dollars can be worth it for those extra few inches of leg room, especially if you can get in the bulk head or exit row aisles.

If I am alone then I always try and get a window seat so I don’t have to worry about creepily falling asleep on a stranger. If I am flying with Travis, I try the whole ‘book the aisle and window seat’ trick and cross my fingers a stranger doesn’t want to sit in the middle. This works the majority of the time and if it doesn’t then you just have to ask them to switch with one of you.  Even when it’s just me I try and pick rows that have someone already sitting in the aisle seat so there’s a smaller chance of someone joining you.

If you are a heavy sleeper, try to avoid the aisle seat or you might trap your neighbors who need to get up or go to the bathroom.

What to Pack

Typical items in my carry-on include:

  • snacks (depending on the airline carrier- some are much more generous than others)
  • empty water bottle that can be filled on the plane
  • headphones, ipad, phone and charger for entertainment purposes
  • lightweight change of clothes, tooth brush, toothpaste and moisturizer to freshen up when we land
  • neck pillow, eye mask and natural sleep aid to ensure a bear-like hibernation will occur
  • blue or black pen to fill out customs forms

What’s Going Down

Once I get on the plane, I like to get out my necessities and chunk my carry-on in the overhead compartment so that it doesn’t take up any of the precious, little leg room I have. I get settled in, watch a movie or TV show while I wait for dinner to be served.

This is NOT the time to pass out. Nothing in the world is worse than falling asleep in the first hour of the flight only to wake up and check the flight path only to find that there are TEN more hours to go, or worse TWELVE more hours. There is plenty of time to sleep and it will be much more enjoyable after a full belly of gross airplane food.

If you time it out correctly, when you wake up it should be breakfast time and possibly enough time to squeeze in another movie or tv show. Also, make sure you fill out any customs or immigration paperwork you have been given so you are prepared when you land. Some people also choose this time to freshen up or change in the airplane bathroom but I prefer to do this routine in a slightly more spacious environment aka the airport bathroom. Depending on how much travel I still have left, I typically brush my teeth, change clothes, moisturize and touch up my make-up.

What To Do

  • Wear lightweight, loose clothing- I stick to maxi dresses or workout clothes that can be layered. Bring a scarf or cardigan that can be used as a blanket as well.
  • Don’t wear tight shoes, your feet will swell. Just ask my grandpa about the time he wore cowboy boots on a flight to Australia. Spoiler Alert: he disembarked the plane with them in his hands.
  • Hydrate!!! Drink water and bring chapstick to counter the dry lips that tend to be unavoidable.
  • Walk around and stretch as much as you can. Ain’t nobody got time for blood clots.

What NOT To Do

  • Recline your seat all the way back- nobody likes that.
  • Go to the bathroom barefoot or in your socks- for obvious sanitary reasons.
  • Put your bare feet on the armrest in front of you. Yes- people do this.
  • Talk loudly. People are trying to sleep.
  • Bring any sort of smelly food on board, your neighbor will not be pleased
  • Don’t ask if you can have anyone else’s food they didn’t eat (this has happened to my sister multiple times and it is odd)

Hope these tips help you on future travels, let me know if there’s any I forgot!

Linking up with Travel Tuesday