Bella’s Chicago

Hello!

Because I have spent 3.5 weeks in Chicago I decided to write reviews about most of the places I went to. This post will therefore be a bit Lonely Planet like but from my personal point of view. I hope you enjoy it and that you can use it one day!

Workaway

A really good option to get free accommodation in Chicago is to find volunteer work on Workaway.com. This is a website for backpackers that would love to stay at some place for a bit longer. I was so lucky to find a really good spot. I spent 3.5 weeks at Francesca’s house with dog Dolce. I worked from 8 till 12 in the morning every weekday to ‘earn’ my accommodation and some food.

What to do?

Art Institute

If you love Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Seurat, and other super famous painters: go here! They have everything from Religious European to Impressionism and American art. I liked it a lot.

The Field Museum

This museum is big! I spent here 2 hours and it was still not enough. Go visit the Africa department and do the nature walk. Seeing the dino Sue is cool too.

The Shedd Aquarium

Zoo’s are not really my thing as I am a vegetarian and I really care about animals. However, seeing tropical fish, penguins, and dolphins is fun and the Aquarium offers a lot of info about water, coral, climate, and tropical animals.

Museum of Contemporary Art

This museum is lovely, however you need to be interested in modern art. They have a really good exhibition of the Japanese artist Murakami till September this year.

Adler Planetarium

The Planetarium offers great information about our solar system and space in general. However, the museum is small but this makes it easy to combine with the Field Museum or the Shedd Aquarium which are all located in the same area.

The Museum of science and industry

I’ve been visiting a lot of museums ha 😉 ? This museum is too big to be honest. It is easy to spend here a full day. But they have some interesting topics about genes, airplanes, human bodies, food, trains, WWII etc.

Rent a bike

Get around by the Blue Ventra bikes and cycle the beach coast route. I started in the south at the Aquarium and went all the way up to North Av. Beach. Every 30 minutes you’ve to make a stop to check your bike in and out again. I combined these stops with lunch and coffee breaks (brought my own).

Walk around down town

Please go explore down town by yourself to find your own favorite spots! Use Google Maps or get a good street map at one of the hostels. I walked around down town to see the shops. I like shops as ‘Forever 21’ and ‘Victoria’s Secret’. Those can be find at Michigan Av a.o.

Go explore the Blues at Buddy Guys Legends

Nice Blues music here! Concerts start in general at 9PM but there is also pre music during dinner. Admission is 10 dollars.

Buckingham fountain by night

Go visit the fountain by night as there are light and music shows often.

John Hancock building (360 chicago)

Please don’t go to the official viewpoint because this will cost you 25 dollars. Go to the lounge! Ask at the counter where to go. Over here, you can order a Coca Cola for 6.90 and the view is the same. It is beautiful!

Kayak Chicago

Kayak Chicago is a company that offers tours on the river. The 3 hour tour is a heavy work out (yes even for a sports fan like me) but it is worth it. Tip: Buy your ticket on Groupon to safe more or less 20 dollars on the price.

Free Walking Tours by Foot

I did two free walking tours in the time I was here. Go to freetoursbyfoot.com to book yours! I can recommend the Lincoln Park and Gangster tour and the West Loop tour. Tours are free but they ask for a tip for the guides.

The Zoo plus the garden

The Zoo at Lincoln Park is free and they have some impressive animals like tigers, lions, sea lions, gorilla’s, apes (all sorts), zebras etc. When you enter the Zoo at the West entrance there are some beautiful gardens as well that are free to visit.

Go visit a baseball game

Be prepared: a game will take like 4 hours but it is a typical American thing to do. Go to m.mbl.com to buy your ticket for the Cubs or the White Sox. Prices vary from 7 till 70 dollars.

Festivals

Thai food festival

This is a festival with good Thai food in Lincoln Park in July. They also have some stands with typical Thai clothes and there is Thai music. However, be there early because the food was all gone when I arrived at 6PM.

Chinatown Summer Fair

Market in July with a lot of stands to buy stuff. I bought a nice vintage handbag here.

Fireworks at Navy Pier

During Summer, there are free fireworks at Navy Pier. On Wednesday it starts at 9PM, on Saturday at 10:15PM.

Music and movies in Millennium Park

During the whole summer there are concerts in Millennium Park. On Mondays and Thursdays there is music. Every Tuesday a movie is playing (anno 2017).

Sheffield Music Festival

Festival in July with music close to Fullerton Subway station at Lincoln park. I liked it here because the festival also offers free garden tours and a visit to one of the churches.

Michigan Art Festival

Free festival in July down town. It is kind of a market where artist can show and sell their art. I liked it!

Sports

Go Run Chicago/CARA sport

Check out the websites or Facebook pages of these organizations to see if there is a run in a park close by! It is free but registration is necessary.

Summer Fitness class at Navy Pier

Every summer on Tuesday at 6Pm there is a free fitness class at Navy Pier. It is a good way to dance off your Chicago Style Hot Dog.

Summer sunset yoga at Navy Pier

Every summer on Tuesday at 7:30 PM at Navy Pier. Beautiful way to try yoga if you’ve never done it before. Free!

Markets

The French Market

Located at N. Clinton Street, this market has everything from fresh salads to sushi, chocolates, wine, good cheese, and fish and meat. Of course, it is a bit pricy but worth a visit!

The Randolph Street Market

This is a really nice vintage market that takes place in July. I bought a super cute jacket here. You’ve to pay entrance to visit but it is sooo worth it. General admission is 10 dollars but if you’re a student it will cost you only 5.

Where to eat?

Smoke Daddy BBQ

This place has the best veggie burger in town. Well, that’s what I think! And they have cheap beers for 3 dollars and good cocktails. Winning! (Located at Division Street)

Parlor Pizza Bar

Kind of expensive place because a meal will cost you 20 dollars. However, it is always crowded here and that makes this place fancy and cozy. (Located at Division Street)

Pizzianos

This pizzeria, located at Division street, offers the good typical Chicago deep dish pizza. You can have an individual slice for 8.90 dollars or a small one with a drink for more or less 20 dollars. A small pizza is enough, because the pizza is super filling.

Patso’s last Place

This snack bar has delicious Chicago style hot dogs. And even has a veggie dog! The orders come with a lot of fries so please be prepared. A veggie dog with fries is between 6 and 8 dollars. (Located at Chicago Av.)

Places to drink?

Big Shoulders Coffee

Even though I prefer tea, this place has a good cappuccino. It is located on Chicago Av. next to the Blue Line Metro station. They have vegan options as well.

Atomix Coffee Bar

My favorite coffee bar in town! This place has good and big cappuccino with soy milk for 4 dollars and it is a nice place to get work done as it is a flex work place as well.

Fatpour Tap works

Good place to go out on Division street (Jup, I love Division Street). They have some cheap beers for 3 dollars and you can even have dinner here before going out.

Uptown Neighborhood

Just this whole neighborhood is an amazing place during the night. There are late night restaurants, theaters, cinemas, bars and some clubs.

Nice parks and beaches

Because Chicago is located at Lake Michigan, it has some good beaches and of course a lot of parks. Here a list of the parks and beaches I’ve been visiting during my stay:

  • North Av. Beach
  • Oak Street Beach
  • Montrose Beach
  • Ohio Street Beach
  • Smith Park
  • Humboldt Park
  • Millennium Park
  • Grant Park
  • Milton Lee Olive Park]
  • Polk Bros Park

General Tips

On Chicago on the Cheap (website and Facebook) are a lot of cheap and free options about festivals and activities in and around the city.

Use Hostelworld.com to find good hostels in the city. My favorites are Holiday Jones Hostel and HI Chicago.

If you’re running out of budget or just really want to meet local people: use Couchsurfing. There are a lot of local Chicago peeps on Couchsurfing.

 

Who! That are a lot of recommendations right? However, I really liked to write all this down for you. What I already said, hopefully you can use this tips one day. Maybe ‘Bella’s Chicago’ will be your new guide book 🙂

The Big Two!

Hello again!

As a few of you probably know, I am traveling through the United States at this moment! I am currently in Chicago, but this blog is about New York City and Washington DC: The big two!

New York City

Let me be clear: I loved NYC! But it was different then I expected it would be. When I thought about NYC, I thought about a city where everything should be possible. From having dinner in the middle of the night in fancy restaurants till clubs and bars open till late, crazy art galleries and highly fashionable people.

However, the city turned out to be a little bit different. Of course it is super big and there is a lot going on every day. But most restaurants close between 10 and 11 and a lot of bars are only open till 2AM. But for me it was not a big problem as I am a backpacker and at the moment too poor to pay for a 20 dollar meal and a 11 dollar glass of wine.

But besides the fact that NYC is super expensive, it is also super cool! I loved walking around through the streets of Brooklyn and Manhattan. Even the neighborhood Queens, where I stayed in the Q4 hotel (a really good place by the way) had nice streets with ‘cheap’ shops and nice food spots.

In NYC, I basically did all the touristy things. But what I would like to recommend is Chinatown and Little India for the amazing food. If you’re ever in NYC; don’t forget to visit the temple in Chinatown! For a dollar you can receive your personal message in life. I liked to chill in Highline Park in the sun. It is a good place to read a book. Furthermore, I went to the MET museum. It is sooo big! I spend two hours there and I only have seen 2 departments out of 8. Do you think the museum is too expensive for you? Go to the Chelsea Art galleries. The admission is free and the art is modern, but interesting. Of course I have been to the Empire State Building and the statue of Liberty as well. I visited the Empire State Building during sunset! = recommended! I thought it was super pretty.

 

Washington DC

Hello city of politics! I spent my days in DC together with two Dutch girls (José and Stefanie), one girl from Argentina (Jessica), and local Tyler. We’ve been visiting the Museum of American History, the Washington Monument, the WOII Monument, the Vietnam Memorial, the Lincoln Monument, the Holocaust Museum, the Capitol and the White House. We’ve seen a lot!

I liked Washington DC because it is more easy-going than NYC. Also, the city center is small. We were able to walk to everything. It is also super practical that all the important highlights and museums are located in one park. We were really happy with that, because it was super warm during the days we were in DC.

On July 4th, we went to the parade and to a student party and we saw a concert with the Beach Boys and The Four Tops in the park with fireworks at the end. Beautiful!

What I would love to say about America is that I really like the people here. There’s always someone on the street ready to help me out when I’m lost or just searching for a place to go. In Washington DC, I even spent a night in a student house because they invited me over! I would like to thank all my new friends and also the strangers for helping me out and giving me recommendations!

Thank you Panama, Cuba, and Mexico!

Hi there!

The month of June was really special. I have been visiting three countries of the Central America and the Caribbean region. On May 31st, I left Colombia to sail from Cartagena all the way to Panama. This was a trip of six days and we made stops at the San Blas Islands ak. PARADISE. After Panama, I went to Cuba for 2,5 weeks where I traveled around the west side of the island. On June 21st, I took a flight to Cancun, Mexico for a few days from where I traveled to New York City!

Panama – San Blas Islands

To be honest, I do not know Panama that well because I stayed only one night on the main land in Panama City. But the San Blas Islands officially belong to Panama as well. The sailing trip was amazing. I did not really know what to expect, so I did some preparations like covering up my things and clothes in plastic and getting some seasick pills. I was really careful with what I ate and drunk during those days. I did not want to become seasick. But I did~t! So I was able to enjoy the trip haha! The first day, we spent on the open sea between Colombia and Panama. The other full three days we spent on the San Blas Islands. We basically lived on the boat, but we could jump of into the water every minute of the day, we could go for snorkeling, or swim to the small islands. The San Blas Islands are islands how you draw them as a child. Some of them are literally two squared meters with only one palm tree and a starfish close to the beach. The water is so super clear and blue. I have never seen something like that before. We could eat fresh coconots of the trees everyday. And during snorkeling I have seen the most beautiful coral ever. The colors here are still really strong. During one of my snorkel trips I have also seen a stingray. Really special! Lucky for me I did not see any shark or crocodile (which supposed to be there) haha!

Cuba

Cuba was a really special experience. The country is beautiful but poor, the people are friendly but also a little bit focused on your money, it is getting more modern but still has a long way to go, they have Wi-Fi but you have to pay for it and even then it is not always working, they have a cash based economy but they have NEVER change so you do not only need cash but also the right fixed amount of cash… etc. But I am so happy I have been there. Cuba is totally different than the countries I have been before. In so many aspects. The cars are old. And some are not the beautiful old Chevrolet’s, no! Most of them are just really old cars with no radios and broken windows. Even the taxi drivers drive sometimes in cars like that. The roads are very bad… But it is amazing there! In every city you can find multiple live bands, playing on the streets and singing their best songs. As soon as the locals hear the music, they start dancing salsa or rumba. Since a few years, the Cubans have a little bit – read little bit – more freedom than before and that makes them happy. They have the possibilities to rent rooms in their houses for tourists or to start small shops. And they want to show you how happy and friendly they are by making for example the best breakfasts I have had so far. Complete with eggs, bread, fruits, and cake.

I find it hard to say which part of Cuba I liked the most. I traveled from Havana to Las Terrazas, Vinales, Playa Larga, Cienfuegos, Trinidad, Varadero, Matanzas, and back to Havana. I think I liked Vinales and Trinidad the most because there I saw the typical Cuban landscape, heard the best Cuban live music, and danced salsa in some clubs. I also really enjoyed Havana, but this city can also be a bit dirty and crowded, which can be hard to handle. I met a lot of other travelers in the big places like Havana, Vinales, and Trinidad. I had a really great time in Cuba.

Mexico

I still regret that I only spent three nights in Mexico. And not even in the real Mexico, but only in Cancun. Cancun is a vacation place for Americans. And that is how it is. Everything is so super MEGA big. The cinema is huge, the bars and clubs are big, the restaurants offer only unhealthy food like pizza, fries, or big Mexican dinners, and the boulevards look like Las Vegas. Besides that, Cancun has a hotel zone which exists out of super-deluxe all inclusive resorts with names like ~Spa and Golf~ and ~Royal Beach Resort~.

However, even though my first impression of Cancun was a bit negative, I had some good days here. The hostel where I stayed was big as well, so I met a lot of people there. On the first day, I went to the beach with three American girls. On the second day, I did a full day trip to Tulum, the Maya temples, and Playa del Carmen. I did this trip together with a German girl, Franziska. I liked the trip. The temples where beautiful. But also Tulum is a touristic place and it was really crowded here as well. The same for Playa del Carmen, which is a boulevard full of shops close to a beach.

I would love to have spent a little bit longer in Mexico to enjoy the very good food a bit more and to visit other, more Mexican-like places. I will come back once! For now, it is time to explore New York City and maybe some other parts of the US and Canada as well!

Viva Colombia!

Hola!

Bogota

It’s been a while since I wrote my last blog. The last three weeks I traveled through Colombia, all by myself! I really loved it. I started my trip in Bogota. I stayed there in the Cranky Croc Hostel, a friendly place in the city center. From there I did a lot of activities. On the first day I went to the gold museum. This museum is super interesting. It tells a lot about the history of Colombia and the meaning of gold. On the second day I did the graffiti tour and the free city walk. Bogota is beautiful and interesting. The graffiti artists try to explain a lot of important messages about politics, social inequality, and racism… I love arts and I like artworks even more when they have powerful messages. For me the graffiti tour was therefore a special one. On the third day I went to the viewpoint of the city together with an Irish girl, Ciara, who I’ve met during the graffiti tour. In the afternoon we went to a soccer game of Santa Fe against The Jaguars. It was a great experience! The supporters are so passionate about the games. Even if the football itself is not of high quality…

Medellin

After three days it was time for me to leave Bogota by bus to Medellin. Yes, the place of birth of the criminal Pablo Escobar. After a bus ride of 8 hours I arrived in the Happy Buddha Hostel in El Poblado. El Poblado is a hip area in Medellin where are the bars and good restaurants are located. I went out for dinner and the next day I did the free city walk in Medellin. This was one of the best free city walks I ever did so far. Our guide, Pablo, * yes he has many troubles with that name during his travels*, showed us the modern city center. Medellin has a lot of modern buildings. It is warm in the city, warmer than in Bogota, and the people are amazing. The locals are also in some kind of way funny because some of them have never seen tourists before. So they stop and stare at you like you’re coming from a different planet. The sights in the city are maybe not that beautiful, but for me it was the history that made Medellin that special. Even 5 years ago, Medellin was not a safe place with a lot of drugs, prostitutes, rubbings and so on… Right now, the city represents hope. For example, at the end of the tour, we visited two artworks of a duck. One artwork was exploded because of a bomb. A lot of people died during that terror attack. The artwork next to it is the same one, but in good condition. These works represent both the history and the future of Medellin. As Pablo said during the walk: “you guys are part of the new Medellin, the tourists who come here show nowadays that we are on the right way to became a safe and modern place”. I loved his messages so much. He also said that even the history in Colombia is really bad and recent, people forget about their problems and try to smile and be happy every single day. Personally, I think we need more of that positive spirit in The Netherlands.

The Caribbean Coast

My third stop was Costeno Beach, a surf camp close to Santa Marta. After 6 weeks of traveling through mountains and cities I was really ready for the beach. I did nothing much there. I just chilled a bit and took some surf lessons as well. Lucky for me I was able to get a private room there, so I had my own bed and shower for a while! After this beach I went to Tayrona Park to do some hikes there and stay for one night at a hammock at the tropical beach. I did the hike with three Canadian girls and one girl from Germany, Leah. I spend most of my time there with Leah. I loved the park but the campsite was really bad. We had to share two toilets with 200 people. Disgusting! The hikes were nice. We had to walk through rivers and a lot of mud to reach the camping. This made it even a more adventure than it already was.

After Tayrona Park I went to Palomino for three days as well. The only thing I did there was chilling on the beach. Palomino is a kind of a hippie place and is really lay back. Besides that, I was suffering from a really bad cold so I had to take it a bit easy. From Palomino, I went all the way back to Santa Marta to take a jeep to Minca. Minca is a village in the mountains which is good to escape the heat of the coast. Here I met two German girls with which I did a hike to a coffee farm and the waterfalls. Our hostel was called Mundo Nuevo and is a biological hostel which tries to do the best they can for both nature and people. They even sort out all the rubbish they have and they only serve vegetarian food!

Today I end my time in Colombia in Cartagena. I arrived here two days ago. Cartagena is a wonderful city with a lot of colorful streets and cute houses and good places to go for a drink or two. From here I did a trip to Islas Rosario and to Playa Blanca beach, including a snorkel trip! Tonight I will start my sailing tour to Panama. This will take 5 or 6 days to get there. Along the way we will pass by the San Blas Islands. I am looking forward to it!

Colombia is such a nice country. It is safe, the people are really friendly and most of the places I have been to were really chill spots. I loved every single minute of my weeks here! Thank you Colombia! 

 

The Amazon and Bolivia

Wow! The last 12 days were amazing. The last weekend of April, Clara and I went to the Amazon (The Manu rainforest in Peru) for 3 days. The trip was great. We slept in tents in houses in the rainforest. The first house was from an Italian guy that organizes trips in the Amazon. The second night we slept on the other side of the river in a typical jungle house. It was so nice! The nature was really beautiful and the little villages in the jungle really differ from the villages in the mountains.

The day after we came back from the jungle, we left to Lake Titicaca. We travelled from Cusco to La Paz with the Bolivia Hop. A good organisation! The busses are nice and cheap and the activities on the lake are included as well. Our first stop was in Puno, a little bit boring city in Peru. We did a full day trip on the lake from here to the floating islands (among others). It was touristic but also worth a visit! The second stop was in Copacabana, our first Bolivian city. This is a chill lay-back city. It reminded me a bit of a surfing town. Here we did the Isla del Sol tour. This is also a very beautiful and sunny island. Check the pictures on my Instagram!

On Friday May 5th, we arrived in La Paz late in the evening. My first impression was: big, chaos and dirty. The same night we went for a party in The Wild Rover, the Irish hostel were we stayed for the night. On Saturday we explored La Paz by a city walk and a cable up to the top of the mountains. The city is interesting. I am not sure if I like it or not. I like the unorganized character of the city but I don’t like that that makes some places unsafe and dirty.

The 3 days after La Paz were fantastic! We went on a trip to the Salt Flats in Uyuni. It was beautiful. I cannot describe it with words. We saw Flamingo’s, Vicunas, beautiful landscapes, flags and the statue of the Dakar Bolivia, we saw the sunrise in a hot tube, slept in salt hotels… Just look at the pictures and *if you can* make sure you’ll visit this place some day!

Yesterday I said goodbye to Clara. Now I am really travelling on my own. This morning, I arrived in Bogota, Colombia. New adventures ahead!!

Hikes are…. fun!

Buenas noches!

This was a hell of a week! But I loved every second of it. Last weekend we went to CCaccaccollo, a little village close to Cusco to spent a night there with a local family. I stayed with two girls Clara and Alex in the homestay of Theodora. She was our ‘mammi’ for this two days. We played a lot with the children there, of which the girl is named Cusi. She was only 4 years old. Her cousin was 6 years old. The family took great care of us. We received a lot of food from them and they were really friendly. Our mammi only spoke Spanish so I had to practice my Spanish a lot! Besides the eating, we also played football with the locals, worked on the land, and had a cosy party during the night. The second day we received a tour through the village and were able to buy clothes and souvernirs. I bought an Alpaca hoodie and a nice bracelet. The bracelet includes symbols that represents ‘a princess eye’. Must be a good one! 🙂

After the homestay we prepared for the Inca Trail. The Inca Trail was definitly the most amazing and beautiful hike I have ever done in my life. We started on Tuesday 18th of April. We walked for about 12 kilometers to our first campsite in the Andes mountains. The first day was not that bad, the whole group was really optimistic, eventhough it rained hard from time to time. The hike was easy and the view was really special!

These days we were really ‘camping-like’. The tents we used were small. I shared mine with Clara again :). We weren’t able to take showers and we must used squad-toilets on the campsite. And yes, it were toilets which we had to share with about 40 to 100 others. However, I still love camping and the food was delicious! We had our own porters and chefs with us during the trip and they took good care of us and prepared a lot of traditional Peruvian food. Nice! 🙂

The second day was really hard. We had to climb up to the highest point of the hike: the 4215 meter point. It is named: The Death Women’s Pass, because of the form of the mountain. Not because a lot of girls pass out here ;). However, I almost passed out during this day. It was really hard. I had to tell to myself I was not a quitter, so I continued. But after 4125209 stairs your pretty much done with it. Reaching the top felt therefore even more as a relief. Together with Gethin, a guy of our group, I was the first one that reached the top. After that, it was still 2 hours walking down to the camp again.

The third day we had to walk 16 (!) kilometers. Okay, the distance is maybe not thát long for someone who already finished two full marathons in her life, but this is different. We had to climb a few mountians, walk back down again, climb up again…. It was exhausting. But also really beautiful! I’ve seen a lot of different kind of nature. Like rainforest, high mountains, waterfalls, etc. Super pretty! At the end of the day we reached an Inca sight on top of a mountain from which we had a beautiful view over the other mountains. It already felt like we had won the ‘game’. The whole group was together to enjoy the view. We had a good time!

The last day we had to wake up around 03:30 in the morning. (Yes you read that right!). We hiked the last 6 kilometers to the Machu Picchu. We had a full morning to explore this Inca city and temple. It was so special to be here! The last couple of months I was only able to see it on pictures on Google, but now I have my own Machu Picchu pictures. The experience of this whole trip, the Inca Trail and the Machu Picchu tour, was great! The guides where super nice, my group was even nicer. I have met so many friendly people during the last two weeks that it feels strange to continue my trip already. Lucky for me I’m not going to do it on my own, but with my lovely travel mate Clara!

 

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So, after Machu Picchu it was time to say goodbye to our group. On Sunday, I went with four ‘leftover’ others to the Rainbow Mountains. This was an exhausting trip as well. We were picked up at 03:30 again in the morning and had to complete a hike of 5 kilometers in a high altitude of 5000 meters. We were so tired that we decided to rent a horse instead of completing the hike by ourselfs. During the hike, it started even to snow and hail. However, it was all worth it when we arrived at the top. The view of the Rainbow Mountains was beautiful. It felt like we were walking in a unicorn landscape.

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On Sunday evening, I arrived at the Milhouse Hostel in Cusco. Me and Clara will stay here for five days straight. That’s nice because we need some rest. I also take Spanish classes here in the mornings. On Monday morning I had my first lesson. The woman is nice and I love to learn Spanish. The hostel itself is also great. It is big hostel with a lot of other backpackers. I have the feeling that I can spend a good few days here! The G Adventure trip was really nice and I enjoyed every minute of it, but I am now also ready for new adventures!

And so it begins!

Hola!

I’m already travelling for a week now. Time flies when you’re having fun! On Saturday April 8th, I travelled with a transit in Houston to Lima. I arrived around midnight in Lima on the same day. Then the adventure begins: where can I find the luggage pick up? Where is my taxidriver? Lucky for me it all went well. At the pick up service I met a Canadian couple who were also part of my G-Adventures group trip through Peru. That feels nice! From the first minute, I was not on my own anymore.

The taxidriver was a kind local guy who was very enthusiast about his country. He studied English in Lima so he tried to tell interesting facts about the local food and culture. When we arrived at the first hostel, I was so tired that I directly went to the room to sleep. Sleep? Good joke! The jetlag kicked in at the first night so I was awake for a couple of hours. But well, that’s also part of travelling of course!

On Sunday, I went out for some city sightseeing on my own. I had not met the group yet so I was strolling through the city myself. First I thought, is this smart? Is this suicide to walk as a young blond girl on her own through a city like Lima? But it turned out to be all well. Of course there are man who are whisteling at you, but if you ignore it, everything is fine. I spended the day in Barranco and Miraflores, two neighbourhoods in the city which are generally safe. I loved Lima! The atmosphere is so good and the weather was perfect. The city is also clean and modern. I even had lunch at a cute little vegan restaurant. And I was surprised that so many people (tried to) speak English in this part of Peru.

On the third day we (the group and I) travelled to Nazca by bus. The group is lovely! It exists out of 18 people from all parts of the world. There are some people from The Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, Australia, Canada, Ireland, Scotland, United Kingdom etc. Our guide is called Gino and is a local Peruvian guy. In Nazca I spended a morning at a pool because it was too hot to do anything. In the afternoon, we went with the whole group on a desert trip including sandboarding. The sandboarding is so much fun! It gives you the feeling of total freedom. Also, the sunset in the desert is one of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen.

Later on, it was time for my first nightbus. I have learned myself to relax. Most nightbusses take around 8 till 10 hours on western schedules. On Peruvian time, the same distance can sometimes take up to 12 hours. The whole group arrived a bit tired in Arequipa, a big city at the beginning of the Andes mountains. We did a lot of sightseeing here, including a local market, the Inca museum, and a viewpoint.

But the most fabolous trip we’ve made this week was the trip to Chevay, a small village in the Andes. The trip to the village was awesome. We have seen so many beautiful landscapes. I cannot describe how it looks like, you just have to see the pictures I made. I felt so happy and blessed to walk around in nature like this. The animals are funny too. I’ve seen one of my favorite animals: the Alpaca! I was even able to make a picture with a baby alpaca on the second day. BEST DAY EVER! Besides that, the Vicunas and the Lamas are interesting animals as well. Impressing were the Condors we’ve seen very close at the Colca Canyon.

After another nightbus, we arrived in Cusco this morning. This will be my central point for the next two weeks. From here I will start the Inca trail, do some excursions (maybe even to the rainforest!) and start my Spanish language course. There’s so much to do that I even don’t have time to be tired from the stupid nightbusses! The city is waiting for me! Hello second week! 🙂

The Day After Tomorrow

Hi everyone! It’s been a while since I posted my first blog about leaving my hometown Rotterdam (The Netherlands). The day after tomorrow I will leave for my big adventure. The last couple of weeks I spent a lot of time with my friends and family for some last dinners or lunch dates. Last Friday, I had to say goodbye to my colleagues as well. That was a bit strange but also a relief at the same time.

Two years ago, I started my worktime at Bertus Distribution –  the music distributor I worked for. I started as an intern at Music On Vinyl, a ‘vinyl only’ record label. I learned a lot during this time because I didn’t had any workexperience at an office before. Besides that, a new world called ‘music’ was opening up for me because for the first time I learned a lot about music in general. Now, I do have knowledge about multiple music genres I did not have before I started my work at Music On Vinyl. After my period as an intern, I continued working as an online marketeer at Bertus Distribution. My main task here was to set up an online communiction strategy for the inhouse record label Butler Records.

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To summarize,  the last two years were very interesting for me. I met a lot of great colleagues. This all, made it a bit strange to me to leave this company. Last Friday, my colleagues said goodbye to me by giving me a postcard with a lot of friendly messages on it. Also, they gave me a big worldmap on which I can mark the countries I have been to. Now, it feels as a relief because I finally have the total freedom to do what I really want to do right now: travelling from Peru to the United States.

But the hardest part is to hug my friends and family for the last time. A few friends also gave me postcards with the most wonderful messages on it. It feels so good to have so many lovely people around me. Words cannot describe how much I love and how much I will miss these guys. BUT I will spam you the next couple of months with awesome travelphoto’s. Be prepared!

Right now, I am ready to go. I finished the last things I had to do, like buying medicines, toiletries, checking my flights, and so on. My backpack is already packed. It is a heavy one with a weight of 15 kg. But everything I want to bring with me is inside. It all fits! That is another relief as well. 😉

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Watch out world, here I come!

Love, Isabella

Leaving Rotterdam

Hi there! This is my first blog so I hope you’ll enjoy it. Because there’re only three weeks left, I’m busy preparing my big trip to South America, Cuba, Mexico, and the United States. Don’t get me wrong, I already prepared a lot for this big adventure. At the moment I’m wrapping up the final things like buying some last necessary toiletries and medicines. At work, I am busy to end the last activities and to transmit my tasks to my colleagues. But which stresses me out at the moment is MOVING, I’m leaving Rotterdam!

Please let me explain why moving out this beautiful city is a bit hard to me. I was born in Rotterdam at September 1st, 1994. I grew up in a close village called Berkel and Rodenrijs. At the age of 19, I moved to Rotterdam to a student house to spend my time as a Arts and Culture student in the city centre. This house at the fancy ‘Pannekoekstraat’ was (or maybe is) great! I have lived here for almost three years and it feels a bit strange to leave. I mean, it was my fist own house! Furthermore, the room was perfect. I had my own french balcony, a cute little fireplace, and a lot of space. The various housemates I have had were very kind people. I want to thank Fee, Esmee, and Chaereen to make the apartment feel like home. It is always a bit difficult to leave your home, for sure when it was your first own flat! Here’s an impression of my first house:

Besides my personal feelings, I also think its hard to leave Rotterdam because its one of the coolest cities of Europe. I have traveled a lot through Europe in the time I was an exchange student at KU Leuven, Belgium (2015). I went to Copenhagen, Lisbon, Paris, Luxembourgh, and various Belgium cities. Comparing to these – also very awesome – places, I still think Rotterdam is one of the most modern and progressive cities. For example, the architecture is quite modern and futuristic, there’re a lot of possibilites for art projects, and the nightlife is booming. I’m proud to call this place my home.

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So the last few weekends I was busy with packing. Packing boxes, packing bags with clothes, packing MY LIFE. It was a lot of work but at this moment there’s only some furniture left. I’m happy I made it! (With many thanks to my parents though). For the next couple of weeks, I will live at my parents house in Berkel and Rodenrijs again. This is an impression of moving my stuff:

Even when moving feels a bit strange, I don’t think about it that much. My mind is already focused on my upcoming trip! I am really looking forward to travel with only my backpack, to meet new people, and to visit the most beautiful places. Maybe I will combine my big holiday with some volunteer work as well… Who knows. I will just let it come down over me and I will see what this trip will bring me! Thank you for reading this first blog, I hope you liked to read it.

Love, Isabella.