Wandering the streets of Spain, feels like stepping back to a time when life was simpler and community was stronger. Town squares were a meeting place for all major events, entrance ways were grand, and people took the time to sit in the street and have conversations with their neighbors or enjoy a coffee or glass of wine.
Instagram worthy photos are impossible not to capture if you are willing to wake up early and watch the sunrise in Cappadocia, as hundreds of hot air balloons fill the sky every morning. With it's consistent winds, stunning scenery and large selection of reputable companies to choose from, Cappadocia is a balloon lover's dream. Hiking up to the top of "Lover's Hill" right in the center of Göreme to take in this phenomenon, I truly did feel like I had entered a scene from a fairy tale.
The warm sun beats down as we paddle our double kayak across the glassy Mediterranean Sea to the island of Kekova. The now uninhabited island houses the remains of Simena, and ancient Lycian sea-side trading city. On shore pieces of homes, tombs, an early church and a staircase down into the water are still visible after a series of earthquakes destroyed the city in the 2nd Century causing it to sink beneath the water. Kayaking over the turquoise clear water, large pillars from the city long ago pass by beneath the boat of this now specialty protected area of Turkey's past.
Once a port town and main center for trade, Ephesus located in Selçuk Turkey, is now an important archeological site with a rich and complex history. Ruled over the years by a succession of Greek, Persian, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman empires, the city once was home to 300,000 people in the second century AD. Home to the nearby Temple of Artemis, declared one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient world, and rumored to be where The Virgin Mary spent the last years of her life, Ephesus draws people from all over the world to marvel at what remains of this ancient city. Walking the main street, I could imagine a life so different from mine in a time long ago.
Right off the plane and into the heart of Turkey's cultural capital, Istanbul, where our senses were stimulated at every waking moment. Each day begins with the soothing sound of the morning Azan, or Islamic call to prayer, echoing through the streets just before sunrise. Walking miles on end to explore the history sites of the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia and Grand Bazar, and resting our feet by stopping for Turkish coffee, the best baklava ever tasted and plenty of cay, a black Turkish tea. With 15 million people calling Istanbul home, in addition to all the tourists from neighboring countries, it is buzzing multicultural metropolis, with some of the best people watching I have done in a long time. Loud music and the smell of nargile fills the alleys around Taksim square at night. During the day taking a fairy across the Bosporus to the Asian side of Istanbul, provides a nice break from the hustle and bustle of the busy city. Seeing the city from the water offers a unique perspective, with quieter streets, markets and green parks I could have sat eating olive, cheese and mezze here for days on end.
Malapascua, an island paradise in the Philippines for scuba diving, white sand beaches and friendly locals eager to share their laid back lifestyle and beautiful home.
It only took a few very long flights across the Pacific ocean, a four hour bus trip and a short taxi boat ride to get to paradise, but once in Malapascua the long journey was instantly justified with a smile that could not be wiped off my face and a lingering sense of peace. A small island in the Philippines north of Cebu, Malapascua is known for its scuba diving, but the above water attractions are just as stunning. Days begin with a sunrise boat trip to an outer reef, just as the sun is peaking over the horizon we jump into the ocean and slowly descend to see the famous Thresher shark, with its long fan like tail feeding on small cleaning fish. Emerging to the surface of the water the warm sun now shines brightly illuminating the clear blue and aqua water, some of the most stunning colors I have ever seen. Sipping hot coffee on the boat, it's only 7:30am and already I feel like everything I had hoped for has been surpassed. Back on the small island we call home for a few days, breakfast is a fresh mango smoothie and banana pancakes. Sunscreen is reapplied for some island hoping adventures, followed by reading in the hammock and an afternoon nap. A fresh seafood dinner eaten by candlelight with toes in the sand and we are off to meet new friends for karaoke and disco night where locals and tourists meet on the basketball court to drink rum and dance under the stars.
"If we were meant to stay in one place, we would have roots instead of feet."
Is travel an addiction? I believe so. I am always dreaming of the next new place to explore, to experience, and to absorb. Sometimes I catch myself getting ahead of the moment, dreaming about the next. I get so excited about what is to come that I forget to be where I am. Other times I am in a place, where my mind is so still, my body is soft and my heart feel completely at peace. These moments, these places, each sunrise is what I am grateful for. We choose our own path in this world, we make sacrifices for what is important to us, and the memories fuel the future dreams. I will always be a wanderer through this stunning planet, and my goal is to stay present each step of the way.
When a last minute invitation to come down to Costa Rica for a few days of surfing and relaxing in the sun came up, how could a girl say no? This trip was not about taking photos, in fact I even dared to leave my Canon 5D Mark III behind, and instead allowed this to be about seeing the sunset through my eyes without a camera in between the action. Of course I couldn't help but snap a few shots on my phone and point and shoot, which always makes me appreciate the quality of a good camera when I look back on the photos. While I got home and wished I had taken more photo, the time away from a camera was a much needed break that I feel fortunate to have been able to take and allowed for more fun in the water!