Friday, 16 August 2013

Travel Journal Part 2: Mexico


After an incredible week in Hawaii, sight seeing, hiking, swimming, bush walking and exploring, we were ready to sit back with some
 corn chips and a corona (or coconut ice cream in my case) and relax.

View from the hotel lobby

View of our balcony
The area of Mexico we stayed in is calledIxtapa-Zihuatanejo, though known to locals (thankfully) as just 'Ziuah'.
 I was lucky enough to have visited the place last year and had fallen in love with the incredible view. 
Our hotel (we stayed in the same one both times) is located on the side of a hill, much like what you'd see in the Greek Islands.
This meant we could see the entire bay from our balcony, including the beach and hotel pool below us.

I know I've been blessed with some beautiful and incredible sights in my short 19 years, probably more so than many ever get to see in their lives, 
but this one has always stood out as the most unforgettable. At various points during my stay I would catch myself staring out
the window in disbelief, incredulous that a place like this could really exist outside of postcards.

The days here were long, but in the best way possible.
I'd wake early to the sun streaming in on my face (my bed was right next to the giant windows), head down about two hundred steps to the beach, run along the bay and come back for a refreshing dip in the pool. For breakfast, I'd either go down for the free cooked meal by the sand (eggs, refried beans, wild rice), or, more often, order room service from the hotel kitchen. How could I pass up fruit salad, yogurt and an abundance of muesli for only $4?

How cool is the sink in our bathroom?

Enjoying the hot tub on our balcony one cloudy day

Enjoying breakfast in bed

The middle of the day was the hottest, so we would tend to stay at the hotel, swimming, resting in the shade, napping in our oversized beds or enjoying some Mexican tella novellas on the TV. One night I even indulged in some poorly subtitled Pretty Little Liars which proved to be greatly entertaining. By night, we'd head down the hill to blocks and blocks of family-owned restaurants, each promising enticing specials and emitting irresistible aromas (have you ever truly smelt real mexican chilli?). After stuffing ourselves full of complimentary chips and dip, tacos (both soft and hard), burritos, enchiladas, quesadillas, nachos and at least 3 bottles of water to kill the fire in my mouth, we'd head for the markets.

Collections of homemade bags, jewellery and crockery from the night markets

I could never get sick of getting my bed made - like this - every day, especially when they left the most delicious coconut cookies on our bedstands

Finally a climate warm enough to rock my sunflower set!

One afternoon we took a water taxi out to another bay called La Ropa. We walked along the beach and found ourselves in an old abandoned health retreat, where this sign was nailed to a tree.

My daily cup of fresh watermelon on the GIANT watermelon dish next to my bed

Street stalls near our hotel

Coconut ice cream. 80c. All day every day.

Morning ritual

Not bad for an entree.

The stack of books I read whilst in Hawaii and Mexico. I read more in those two weeks than I did the rest of the year

Looking sad because we were about to leave

Crazy beautiful.

We went to Mexico looking for some relaxation, and that's exactly what we got. Despite getting terribly sick towards the end of our stay there, I couldn't have asked for a better time. Even being cooped up in bed, unable to eat and having to get a needle in my butt were bearable when I could look out to my left and see this. I mentioned to a friend yesterday that I would take a sick, dizzy day in Ziuah over a cold, rainy one in Melbourne anytime. It truly is the place to forget all your troubles, read in a hammock, sleep on the beach and eat your weight in Mexican food. What's not to love?

A+ 10/10 would recommend.

Stay tuned for Part 3: New York!

Monday, 5 August 2013

Travel Journal Part 1: Hawaii

Oh my, it's been over a month since my last post on here - but it's definitely justified! I recently spent three weeks travelling around the world and then the following week trying to adjust to Melbourne's chilly weather and get back into the swing of classes. Luckily, I have lots of fantastic memories, photos and diary entries to look over and re-live my trip on the coldest of nights. Here are some of my snaps!

The first stop on my adventure was off to the island of Maui in Hawaii. I'd never been to this island before and it immediately became one of my favourite tropical destinations. The locals are friendly, the tourists are laid-back (how could we not be relaxed?), the scenery is gorgeous and the food is to die for! Most days were either spent exploring the island by car or foot, or hanging out at the resort, swimming, running, sleeping and lots of reading. I think I went through four books in the first three days there... I'm a fast reader but this has got to be a new PB.

After arriving late the night before, we got up the first morning and went for a beach run, followed by a swim, followed by a scrumptious breakfast sitting in the shade of a huge tree by the water. Not too shabby I'd say! I found a shopping centre where I grabbed an acai bowl for lunch, and was delighted to discover a second hand bookstore and picked up eight new novels for poolside reading :)

One of the incredible sights we visited on the Island was Haleakala National Park, where we first hiked up to the top of some mountains and actually ended up above the clouds! It was surreal to look down upon them whilst standing outdoors, I felt like I was on a plane passing over but the heat and wind were constant reminders of my unbelievable surroundings. 

Along the hike we chatted to a family - two parents and their daughter, who seemed around three or four and reminded me so much of myself at that age, clambering over boulders and trying to keep up with my parents on our explorations around the country. From the top of the mountain, which is 10,023 feet at the summit, you can literally see for miles! Visible in the distance were five other Hawaiian islands over 100 miles away. Woah.

These photos were taken at Iao Valley State Park, home of the iconic 'space needle'. There had to be at least 1000 steps to get up there, so I'm glad I wore runners that really didn't go with my outfit. It was worth it.

On the way home I asked if we could pull over and practically jumped out of the car, after having spotted this tiny little hidden beach off to the side of the road. I had to trek down a pretty steep hill to reach the bottom, but the view (and water temperature) was spectacular.

Another hidden gem was this incredible waterfall! Tucked away within a rainforest, we had to walk for about twenty minutes until finally hearing the sounds of running water, splashing and kids squealing. 

People were swimming and splashing and jumping from the top of the waterfall, it really was a sight to see. There was an incident that happened on our way through the rainforest that I found so vivid I just had to write about it in my journal that night, so one day soon I might post that on here. I had only been jotting down dot points of our daily activities, and was craving writing a zoomed in, highly detailed recollection of a particularly memorable scenario.

The rocks we had to cross were covered in moss and extremely slippery, so the journey to get there wasn't an easy one, but when we did, we were greeted with a sight that I thought only existed on postcards and hipster blogs.

This groovy van slash shop-on-wheels was parked near the entrance, selling fresh fruit, pressed juices, coconut candy and many other delicious, refreshing treats. I opted for a large banana smoothie and it tasted how I imagine heaven would.

I bought this bowl on the day of our first trip to Whole Foods. WF is without a doubt the thing I miss most when I'm not in America, so walking along those isles with a basket in my hand and some american dollars tucked into my bra was like Christmas morning for me. I'm so excited to eat fruit salad out of this, particularly pineapple!

Hawaii, you were good to me. In fact, you were great. I don't think I've ever felt so at ease and relaxed, while simultaneously sight-seeing and exploring everyday. My favourite part of that week was probably just how much time I had to read - it's something I really don't take advantage of back home. Thank you for a wonderful week in paradise!

If anyone else has been on a travel adventure (or is planning one for the future) please let me know about it in the comments below! I love nothing more than reading and living through other people's holiday tales.

Stay tuned for Parts 2 & 3 in Mexico and New York!