My girls are going to Lake Tahoe again, shall I join them?
Today, I'm going to introduce you to my second home in the World. Welcome to spectacular North Lake Tahoe! Whether you've heard about it before, or you'll go there for the first time, this magical place can't help but rejuvenate and inspire you.
I've been living there for two summers in a row, and hopefully, I'll visit it again this summer. To Work & Travel in Lake Tahoe was one of the best experiences in my life, and I fell in love with it. Please don't miss it when you go to California! Lake Tahoe is the number one preferred holiday destination for the Americans and it is simply breathtaking.
I believe in evolution. But I also believe that, when I see the nature at sunset, the hand of God is there. For me, there's no special sunset without a special story. The following sunsets had a deep meaning for me and they remind me again of how beautifully I created my life so far. Perhaps, these photos will inspire you to do the same. After all, the best things in life are the people we love, the places we've seen and the memories we've made along the way.
1. Grand Canyon, Arizona, USA
Imagine you are driving in the middle of nowhere with 100 km/h when a deer crosses your way and it almost hits the car. This is what happened on our way to this magical place. Luckily, time was on our side and the deer was two seconds faster than our car. We avoided the accident. A broken car, no camping for the night and the possibility of not being able to return home in time, could have been our nightmare in this trip. You become more grateful for the things you see, when you know you were so close not to see them.
We spent 2h in this beautiful light, being thankful that we got there safe and sound.
This sunset has a special story. I've seen it 5 years ago when I first traveled to the US. It was the first time I was touching the Pacific Ocean. I never thought I will see it in this stormy light. A storm was approaching from the left of the beach and on the right, I could see how the Sun goes down hiding after the rocks in the ocean. It was an Apocalyptic view, when the ocean was meeting the sky and you couldn't know anymore if you are in Heaven of Hell.
I watched this nature show hidden under a tree, with a blanket over my head, while raining cats and dogs.
Pink sunsets? Yes, please! Lake Tahoe has the most magical sunsets ever. This place is special because is my second home. At the end of the world, all the way in California lies my "soul lake". This was the place where I was recharging my batteries. This is where I was meditating about what I want, learning from the past and dreaming about my future at the end of a healthy day of work. A beautiful quote says that "If you are in a beautiful place where you can enjoy sunrise and sunset, then you are living like a lord"(Nathan Phillips). This is how I was living for two summers in a row.
For me, optimism is when a group of friends watch the sunset together, singing around the bonfire or swimming in the ocean. This was one of those moments. It was a rich and gorgeous sunset - a Hawaiian sunset; something that everyone should wish for.
The point is that when I see a sunset, for a split of a second it is so great, because I am out of my brain and I feel connected with this World. I'm not trying to figure it out anymore, I'm just there...enjoying the present moment. Sometimes, I wonder if I can find somehow a way to maintain that mind stillness.
This sunset is so special because I've seen it with my traveling buddies. All together. Plus, it was unplanned. Our Cypriot friend took us there, as a surprise in our trip.
This sunset was special because it was the first time my sister was visiting me while I was living abroad. Plus, the sky was full of airplane shadows and looked like it was painted randomly with white ink.
Istanbul is one of those perfect cities with an opening to the sea. Plus, it has a mystical light. When I got there, I realized how lucky you should be to live in a city with a warm climate and with an opening to the sea. I guess, that's when I launched into the Universe a deep thought. A few years later, the Universe answered me and sent me to live in Lisbon, a city with a similar light.
This sunset was special because that's when I realized that differences of habit, religion, culture and language are nothing at all if our hearts are open. It was the moment I was one's princess on a Princess Island.
These were the first pictures we took in our beautiful "new home" as Erasmus students. My sister and I couldn't believe that we were going to live TOGETHER in such a marvelous city. After so much studying alone, we made it to arrange our lives in such a way to study together in a foreign city. Lisbon has 12 hills from where you can watch the sunset, and it is one of the most romantic cities in Europe.
If the boy and girl walk off into the sunset hand-in-hand in the last scene, does that mean it is a happy end or a happy start? I caught this sunset in the arms of my home and it was one of the most special moments in my life.
There’s something weird about going on a road trip, the second you lock the door and head out, you’re in a different mindset, everything you see is different. The way you perceive the world is a bit different and even the most meaningless things can turn into a crazy story. Why can’t life be like a road trip? Why can’t we live in a state of mind where everything is fun and adventurous, and the world continually surprises us, and we let that happiness flow in?
What if you knew when you were going to die… at the exact moment? Would you change what you’re doing today? Would you think about the hours you’ve wasted staring at screens and watching other people live their lives? Would you feel anxious?
Imagine you knew the exact amount of time you had left right now… Would you spend more of it doing the things you love? Would you draft up and act out your grand plans? Would you go on the adventures you’ve dreamt of as a kid? Would you get off your ass and knock down your walls with the drive and courage to chase your dreams? You’ve only got so many days… What have you done with the last 365?
What if you could control how fast time goes? You already know that months fly by when you’re living every day the same. And you also know those special days that feel like a whole week. The days filled with adventures and new experiences and lasting memories.
You have to ask yourself what you want, no one else will figure it out for you. You have to make your own plans. You have to put your own energy into it, and you have to start now.
Stop making excuses, and take control of your life. Time is passing, and you’re still staring at a screen… What are you waiting for? What are your dreams and ambitions? What are you doing to make them a reality?
What will you do in the next 365 days? Are you living or just existing?
Thank you to our readers. We hope that you have enjoyed reading our blog as much as we have enjoyed writing it. We’ve been traveling to Barcelona, Milano, Lake Como, Maramures, Bucegi Mountains, Stockholm, Aya Napa in Cyprus, Eguisheim, Colmar, Strasbourg, Mannheim, Munchen, Prague, Retezat Mountains. 7 countries, without counting Romania. Let’s prepare for an amazing 2018!
All my friends are asking me how do I manage to travel so much. Well, it's all about good planning. This calendar shows all legal holidays in Romania for 2018 which can be linked with a few annual leave days. I made this calendar based on some previous trips in 2017. Hopefully, you can include them in your 2018 planning. I also included some future destinations on my list :) and I wish my 2018 to be as generous as 2017. Happy Travel Planning!
It’s that time of the yeear! Everything is sparkling with Christmas lights and the taste of gluehwine is all you need for a melting heart. Today, I want to introduce to you the best place in Europe for visiting Christmas Markets.
Let’s go to Alsace, the French area where the magic of Christmas can be experienced in its purest form. In Alsace, the preparation of Christmas is a special moment waited by everyone. And I can see why…the whole area turns into a fairyland. Colmar, Eguisheim, and Strasbourg. These three spots can be seen in a weekend getaway as they are pretty close to each other.
There’s Nothing Quite Like the Christmas Market in Eguisheim
Eguisheim is a picturesque village only known by the experienced travelers. Ranked one of the most beautiful villages in France, Eguisheim won the gold medal contest of the European Entente Florale back in 2006. Basically, it has the prettiest flower pots in France. Impressive? Mais, oui!
This town inspired the opening scene of Walt Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, so you know it’s already pretty. In May 2013 it was voted the ‘Village préféré des Français’, an annual distinction that passes from town-to-town throughout France.Everywhere you go here, you’ll see cute 16th and 17th-century little houses, cozy shops, lots of fromage and foie-gras. And for Christmas, it is the BEST spot to be!
A Day in Colmar – What Better Way to Spend Your Christmas?
Colmar town center is pedestrian, comprises numerous monuments, churches, museums, and alleys, full of imposing buildings dating from the Middle Ages to the 19th century. Don’t miss out the Maison Pfister, the Koïfhus, Little Venice, the maison des têtes and Saint Martin’s Collegiate church.
You don’t actually need a plan in order to see these towns, but please be aware that the accommodation during this time of the year is pretty expensive. We stayed in Colmar, one night at this AirBnB and we paid 100 euros/night with breakfast included. The lady spoke perfect French and German so we had no communication issues. The whole town is decorated as in a fairytale and everywhere you go you’ll feel like in an open-air Christmas show.
Don’t forget about the Capital of Noël – Strasbourg
We spent a couple of hours in Strasbourg, overwhelmed by the decorations and lights. The city is overly crowded and it is not that cozy. However, you might find cheaper accommodation here. I felt this city is more touristic. Don’s miss out the Petit France,Strasbourg’s picturesque historic quarter, the Christmas food market. Strasbourg’s Christmas Markets are among the oldest and biggest of their kind in Europe, taking over the entire historic city center.
How To Get Around?
Colmar to Strasbourg – fastest way is by train (TGV). It takes 30 minutes and costs 6 euros (group ticket – get it from the counter)
Colmar to Eguiseim – Get bus no. 440 with 2 euros or the special Christmas shuttles with 8 euros. Distance is 10 minutes.
This trip was by far the best destination I’ve ever seen in Europe and I highly recommend you to chose it next year :) You can see here the entire photo gallery from this trip.
Do you usually make a dream board at the beginning of the year? And if you do, do you revise it before the year ends to see how much you achieved?
In the beginning of 2017, I made this dream board. And I completely forgot about it. There were mostly places I wanted to visit, a few things I wanted to experience, and a few fears I wanted to conquer. I also left a lot of room for unexpected situations. They came in under the form of love, personal growth, happiness and a looot of pain.
Now that I look back at this dream board, I am so grateful that I didn’t plan it all. I am so grateful that I forgot about it and I let life flow. See, I have the tendency to move straight forward through life. It’s either black or white. It’s either day or night. But nature never moves in straight lines, only basic human logic does. Sunsets and sunrises, the moments when nature is neither daylight nor nightlight, are the most beautiful moments throughout the day.
Nature creates perfect order from chaos. Nature never moves in straight lines, only the human mind does. So when I made this dream board, I left room for angles and for chaos. Now, I want to create even more. I trust that nature will create the perfect order for me. All I have to do is let go and slip into the gap.
So I booked a trip…
There will be two weeks of traveling solo, journaling and accepting “My Next Nomadic Life Move”. (one of the fears I want to conquer) This translates into: “accepting uncertainty”, “accepting living for today”, “slip into the gap “, “be alone for a while, trust in yourself.”
There will be two weeks of reflection on everything I received. There will be two weeks when I want to make contact with the invisible power within me. What might seem like a “run-away-from-everything-trip”, transformed into a “dig-in-everything-you-learnt-and-create-something-extraordinary”.
Do you think a nomadic lifestyle is the new rich?
For me, this trip is the adult version of the Work & Travel Program. It is the Work & Travel on Ioana’s Terms & Conditions. This is what I always dreamed of…working remotely while taking care of my soul and visiting inspiring destinations. The truth is, I will always be a nomad soul. I love freedom. When routine kicks in, I will break it. I will shake my world. I will not wait for somebody else to wake me up or make me happy. Being able to work and travel at the same time, knowing that my base is in Romania, is something I wished for a long time. And this is the richest gift that life could offer me.
12 months almost gone, but how many moments?
How do you measure your time? When you look at your year, did it feel like 12 months? Did it feel empty or full? My time doesn’t measure in months. My time measures in moments. And lately, I missed these alive moments. These truly happy alive moments when I get goosebumps because my thoughts and emotions are so strong that they reflect in my body. I know that it is only from that state of mind that I can create my life.
So what better way than traveling solo, confronting myself and figuring out what I really want? My plane will leave soon. Let’s hope this trip will bring me the answers I need. Let’s start creating. Will you do the same?
P.S Keep an eye on the blog. I’ll share everything that I’ll find interesting in these places.
Do you have that friend that you can call anytime in the night? That friend that you don’t have to worry if he/she sees your room dirty? That friend that accepts you with the good and bad and witnesses your transformation through life?
Word Traveler would like to welcome Andreea Cîra from Adeona Wanderlust to our group of guest writers. Eighteen years ago, Ioana and Andreea met in their 1st grade, shy and curious about what life has to offer. Andreea discovered she had a calling for geography, Ioana discovered she had a calling for writing. Meanwhile, life showed them they both had a passion for traveling, knowledge and personal development. Their friendship grew stronger and stronger over the years, no matter if they were apart. Today, they meet in writing, to talk about finding a meaning in life, the power of freeing yourself and how you can achieve that state of flow through mountain activities and sports.
Half of my list of friends already went to Cyprus. For the other half, I wrote this article. If you like:
swimming in turquoise infinite waters
playing on friendly white sandy beaches (also suitable for kids)
jumping off the cliffs in natural lagoons
snorkeling with fishes of all colors
eating 27 plates of food with 15 euros and drinking coconut water with 7 euros
partying for free with popcorn and champaign on the house
spending less than 300 euros with all expenses included
Cyprus might be the right destination for you and your friends.
This year, Cyprus became an accessible destination thanks to Wizz Air and Blue Air cheap flights to Larnaca Airport. Some of my friends told me they were not impressed at all. If you went to Cyprus and did not see the below places, you might have to go again. :)
We spent 4 full days in Ayia Napa, a lively resort next to the sea, one hour away from Larnaca. We chose to sleep in Ayia Napa because it was closer to the best natural sceneries and beaches of Cyprus (on the South Eastern coast). In my opinion, staying in Larnaca is one of the biggest mistakes you can do in your trip to Cyprus. If you don’t want to rent a car, it will be very difficult to see the below spots.
Tip no.1 – Choose your accommodation in Ayia Napa, not Larnaca. It might be more difficult to get there if your flight arrives late at night, but it will be so worth it.
A Wizz Air flight bought with 2 months in advance, with 20% off for Wizz Members will cost you 40 euros two ways. We choose to go offseason, middle of October and the weather was still 30 degrees C.
Option 1. Private Transportation
If you arrive at the airport at night, there is no public transportation to take you to Ayia Napa. You need to book a private taxi. We booked a van with Suntransfers. Because we were 5 girls, we paid 12 euros each.
Option 2. Public Transportation
If your flight arrives earlier, you can take a bus around 2 euros which will get you in the city center of Ayia Napa.
How to get around?
Option 1. By Bus
There are buses to take you around the coast. 1.50 euros one way locally, or 5 euros intercity. (one of the most famous) you’ll need bus no.
Option 2. By Taxi
There are also taxies (or limousines for 8 people) which can take you around with 2 euros/person. We would always negotiate the tariffs for the taxi and we managed several times to go with 1.60 euro for a taxi ride. (this is because we were 5)
Option 3. By Car
If you want to rent a car, it will cost you ~55 euros/day a car with manual transmission and ~60 euros/day a car with automatic transmission. Please note that you need to drive on the left.
Discover The Magic of Cyprus with This 4 Days Itinerary
Magic means uncertainty and unplanned activities. During the last Word Traveler trips, I learned to let things grow by themselves, feel the energy of the group, and let trips flow half unplanned. And this is how I discovered, that magic can really be part of your trips and transform them.
Our main goal in Cyprus was to relax, swim, snorkel and eat good food. Therefore, we did not include any monasteries, cities, and monuments to visit. This was not meant to be a marathon city-break. Here’s how we organized our days:
Day 1. Nissi Beach – Cape Greko – The Blue Lagoon – Stone Arch
Nissi Beach is one of those beaches that everyone goes to. It is the most touristic and we wanted to get it out of our way from the very first day. The beauty of this beach is that it has low water, and you can walk from a shore to another.
On the other side of the beach, there is a small 3 min hike which will offer amazing views like the one below. Also, Nissi Beach is a place for propaganda. Many promoters will come to groups of friends and offer discounts in their night pubs/clubs. This is where the magic started and we spent our night partying for free at the best clubin Ayia Napa, Senior Frog’s.
Now that our night was arranged, what were we going to do in our afternoon?
I actually had no idea about what we were supposed to do in our second part of the day. But then I received a call, from my international Cypriot friend, Vasilis. He was my roommate in one of my Erasmus programs, and there I was…visiting him in his homeland.
He drove 1h and a half just to take us to this beautiful spot by car, where we’ve seen one of the most amazing sunsets from the top of the rock at Cape Greco. You can also reach it with bus #101 or #102. The best moment to go there is at sunset, so plan your day accordingly.
We’ve also seen this monastery at the Blue Lagoon and the Stone Arch, but it was almost night.
Day 2. Aya Napa Beach – Famagusta Boat Trip
– Girls, our boat is leaving without us!
– The Sun is too bright and you might not see well, dear…
– This is not possible! We paid for the trip and we are on time!
Indeed, we were in the harbor at 10:15 a.m for our boat trip, but our boat was leaving without us. The day before, we pre-booked our trip and paid 20 euros out of 50.
Planned activities suddenly turned out to be a fiasco. We yelled at the organizers and let them know that we’ll make a negative review on all sites about Famagusta Boat Trips. We asked for a refund or another trip. And for 10 euros, we went on the afternoon boat on a trip which would normally cost 20 euros. We were so angry, that the Captain promised champaign on the boat. (and we received it)
The trip was supposed to end somewhere close to Famagusta, an abandoned city under the occupation of the Turkish Armed Forces. But the boat seemed to have no direction, no guide, no explanations to its passengers, so all that we remember are 2h and 30 min of going nowhere while sleeping.
Tip no. 2. Do not take Famagusta Boat Trips. They are useless.
We spent our morning on Ayia Napa beach, drinking coconut water at Marcello’s Beach Bar and enjoying a less crowded beach then Nissi.
5 minutes swimming in the far end of Ayia Napa beach you’ll find a cool cave and cliff where you can have fun swimming and jumping. Not many people know about it, and we discovered it out of curiosity. #magichelped
Day 3. Love Bridge – Sea Caves – Nicosia
If you are living in Ayia Napa, the Love Bridge is a 30 min walk from the city center. You’ll get some amazing views and you can even jump into the water for a spectacular swim.
We spent the second part of the day in Nicosia, the capital of Cyprus. Vasilis, our friend, made us a tour across the buffer zone of the capital. The British took control of Cyprus in 1878, so that was the time when Nicosia flourished. It developed an European air, complete with new churches, public schools, flash houses and modern roads. The city was extended beyond the Old Town and quickly became the heart of trade in Cyprus, centered on Ledra Street.
British reign came to an end when Cyprus declared independence in 1959 / 1960. The famous ‘Green Line’ was drawn in 1964 after a skirmish between Greek and Turkish residents. Ten years later, Greek officers staged a coup, leading to the invasion of northern Cyprus by Turkey and armed security along the Green Line. The capital is now divided, the northern and eastern point belonging to Turkish and South belonging to Greeks.
There are streets along the Green Line where if you look to your right, people are living in their house, and if you look to your left people abandoned their cars and the zone is covered with barbed wires. Despite the rough history of Nicosia, things are quite harmonious today and tourists can freely cross the Green Line. We spent 10 minutes on the Turkish side. :)
Day 4. Konnus Bay – Cyclops Cave
Last day was a snorkeling day because this beach has a lot of rocks. We also made a 1h hike until Cyclops Cave and had beautiful views across the bay. This is one of the quietest beaches in the area and it is something that you don’t want to miss. We left what is best for the last day. Also here, you will find only one beach bar, that has the best secret spot to jump into the water.
Where to eat?
There are plenty taverns to share a Meze with your friends. Usually, you need to pay for minimum two portions (between 15-17 euros). We were always paying three portions and this is how we managed to eat and drink all the time with around 13 euros. Some good places to try Fish Meze or Cypriot Traditional Food are: Napa Tavern, Ocean Basket, Avra Restaurant. You’ll get a full table with around 27 plates to eat from. Plenty of food for everybody.
Where to sleep?
We’ve got the best Airbnb, with two rooms and a living room, suitable for 5. Really close to the beach and nightlife.
How much does everything cost?
For many of you, this is the most important part. Everybody is asking us “How the hell do you have so much money?“, “Your trips look amazing, how much of a fortune did you spend?“, “Excuse me, what’s your job?”
I guess I have planning skills, budgeting skills, a lot of passion for traveling and a lot of care for my investments. A trip with less than 300 euros requires buying tickets in advance when airlines have discounts, staying at Erasmus friends, having locals to show you cheap cafes around (this is a cool one in Nicosia by the way), negotiating taxi rides, going in hot destinations offseason, etc. Here’s a breakdown:
Flight booked 2 months in advance, 20% off from Wizz = 40 euros
Airport Transfer at night = 12 euros
Accommodation with a group of people = 52 euros (the whole apartment was 260 euros offseason).
Transport around: 3 euros Trip to Nissi Beach = 3 euros, Trip to Nicosia = 10 euros, Trip to Konnos Beach = 3 euros, Boat Trip = 10 euros; Total = 26 euros
Airport transfer back = 6 euros (minivan) you can make it cheaper with public transport.
Club Entrance and Drinks – Free (especially if you are with girls)
Dinners ~15 euros with drinks (we had 4 meals at the restaurant) = 60 euros
Breakfasts, coffees, ice-cream, coconuts and others ~ 18 euros/ day (x 4 days) = 72 euros.
TOTAL = 268 euros.
Looking at the photos Word Traveler took, I’d say this is a pretty well-made budget and itinerary. More and more people want to come with Word Traveler on trips and this is pretty amazing for me.
Would you trust Word Traveler in planning your trips and even go with them on future trips?
Please help me find the correct direction for what Word Traveler might become.