Travel Memories – My one person honeymoon

Last year when I went on my round-the-world adventure, I really tried my best to make sure my solo status didn’t get the best of me. Meaning, even if it was weird I made sure to do things that probably would have been better with a person I cared about, as I knew I probably wasn’t ever going to get the opportunity to do it again. One of the things I really wanted to do was spend time in Ko Lanta, one of the beach islands in Southern Thailand.

Ko Lanta view

Ko Lanta view

Ko Lanta is super romantic, I didn’t know anyone who hadn’t gone there as part of a couple, and while I was a little deterred about going alone, I knew I would be really disappointed if I didn’t journey there as part of my trip.

I got to Ko Lanta by taking a train from Bangkok to Trang, and then taking a shuttle/boat journey to the island. It was kind of an experience taking the train, I don’t know if it was being a lone young female, or being a lone black female, or simply being a female, but I had a weird experience where the male assigned to sit next to me refused to do so, and after moving seats with an older female, spent the majority of the train ride standing by his seat and staring me down. While being made to feel uncomfortable is part of the package of traveling as an other, I did wish for a companion at that moment, someone I knew who could have been my seatmate, just a partner so I could have avoided that experience.

Me, smiling in my seat before my weird seatmate experience

Me, smiling in my seat before my weird seatmate experience

The train journey was really long, but Ko Lanta was amazing. It was beautiful there. I didn’t realize that the accommodation I booked was pretty much a place where couples or groups of couples went to do couplesy things, which was actually kind of cool. I saw my room and saw a a fabulous bed with a beautiful flower and towel arrangement. I realized I was on my own honeymoon.

My fabulous bed in Ko Lanta

My fabulous bed in Ko Lanta

Fabulous flower arrangement

Fabulous flower arrangement

There are peaks and valleys to traveling alone, and one valley is the major bouts of loneliness one can encounter on the road. I was really lonely after my incident on the train, but once I saw the amazingness that was my room and the beauty of Ko Lanta, I had one of the weird moments of clarity that changed everything. While loneliness can suck, being alone and having the guts to trust your own instincts means that a world of awesome experiences can open up. Here I was, a girl from the Bronx, and I had the balls to travel by myself to Ko Lanta, and now I was on a wonderful honeymoon and it wasn’t even going to break my budget for my round the world trip.

I loved it there.

I hung out at the beach and got tan lines.

The beach on Ko Lanta

The beach on Ko Lanta

Went on a boat.

I'm on a boat!

I’m on a boat!

Took sultry photos of the beach.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And watched a lot of TV. I love TV so it’s ok.

Plus, I loved rooms during my stay and got to see more towel arrangements.

Loved this bed arrangement

Loved this bed arrangement

Ko Lanta was a good place for me at this point during the trip. I spent a lot of time thinking about life and my goals for the future. I had the chance to breathe, and process the many experiences I had on my trip prior to this point. I had fun here, and I think being by myself made it even more amazing. I think I might have had the best honeymoon ever, and I did it alone.

Me, alone.

Me, alone.

Posted in Thailand, World Travel | 2 Comments

Adventures in Hipster Heaven – Williamsburg

I’m a Bronx girl, which means I don’t make random treks to Brooklyn. While I’ve been forced by many a friend to make the trip out the Brooklyn, there are still swaths of the borough that I’m really unacquainted with. Like Williamsburg. I don’t go there. It’s off the L train, and I don’t like the L train. Because of that, I don’t know much of anything about how cool Williamsburg is, though I’ve always wanted to see for myself.

So this week, I found a legitimate reason to go to Williamsburg, to go on a tour of Brooklyn Breweries. The Brewery as a pretty cool history, and makes some pretty nice beers that you can find throughout the United States, Europe and even in South America. I bought tickets for a weekday tour and brought a friend, and had a really great time exploring this section of the city and learning more about beer.

Beautiful mural seen walking off of Bedford Avenue

Beautiful mural seen walking off of Bedford Avenue

Leaving from the Bronx, the trip only took about an hour. The L train was fine that day so I was happy. Getting off at Bedford Avenue, I arrived right at the heart of the action. The area has a lot of cute restaurants and snack shops, and a lot of young people milling about with cameras to take in the sights.

Street art

Street art

There was quite a bit of cool street art peppered through the neighborhood, which I loved.

Brooklyn Brewery itself is a short walk from the train stop, and right across the street from the famous Beacon’s Closet Thrift Shop. Since I’m broke as a joke, I didn’t make a stop in there, but it’s well known for having some pretty good clothes.

Beacon's Closet

Beacon’s Closet

Brooklyn Brewery

Brooklyn Brewery

The tour itself started at 5, so we waited in front of the building for a short while until things began. Things started with a taste testing of four beers, which were all really good. My favorite was the Cuvee La Boite, which a belgian style beer than tasted like heaven. The tour itself, it was great. Good guide and fun group.

Beer tour

Beer tour

All in all, making the trip out to the Brewery was a fun excuse to get to know a little bit about Williamsburg. It was a fun day out, and I’d recommend making the trip to the area or the Brewery itself if you get the chance!

And fun was had by all!

And fun was had by all!

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Back in the game

I’ve been a bad blogger…

So much has happened in the past year after returning to my trip. I’ve traveled some more, spent a year away from NYC, moved back. So many things that I’ve meant to share and show, but I got lazy.

I haven’t even looked at the blog or any associated emails for the past year.

My bad.

I want to do better. I love the creative outlet that this blog provides and I want the opportunity to express myself and my love of travel through it.

I plan on doing better.

Thus, this is a dead blog no longer. I look forward to sharing all of the fun things I did over the past year, share more from my round the world adventure, and hopefully have some new adventures to cover with you. This post is my commitment to ensuring I pay more attention to this purplecremebrulee thingie, as I do love it, I do.

Anyway, thank you to all my past readers, as I really enjoyed our past interactions and look forward to having contact that might bring you back. Stay tuned!

Marilyn

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Amazing Lisbon

I only need to say one thing about Lisbon: It’s friggen amazing. While I still have a ton of travel stories to share and wonderful photos to show from the many other places visited during my trip, I just want to have the chance to share some of Lisbon with you so I can re-experience it for myself.

When I told some of my friends I was going to Lisbon, those who had been there before asked me why I was bothering. They all said it was a “ditch,” a waste of valuable travel time that could be used to visit more worthwhile places, like some of the cities in Southern Spain. But, being a lover of the (Brazilian) Portuguese language, I knew that I wanted to have a chance to see the origination of Lusophone culture. If I didn’t go to Lisbon, I would never go anywhere else in Portugal. And if I didn’t go to Portugal, how could I better understand the culture that I love so much (I LOVE Afro-Brazilian culture)? So, off I went on a 7 hour bus ride from Madrid to Lisbon. The ride was uneventful, but my first view of Portugal was this:

Beautiful (and random coliseum)

There was this really random, beautiful coliseum right at our first stop into Portugal! I knew I would be happy being here.

Once I actually got into Lisbon, I was greeted by their amazingly modern transport station. It’s kind of out of place, but really cool looking.

Lisbon Transport Station

I found my way to the metro (which had beautiful wall art) and off I went to my hostel. Another thing to note about Lisbon, they have the BEST hostels in Europe. All over really cool amenities and are really competitively priced. My hostel had a great sitting area:

Best hostel ever (I’m not telling what it is)

Lisbon is amazingly beautiful. When it’s sunny, it’s like the city is smiling at you. I spent about a week total there and did have the chance to venture outside the city to beaches, castles, and other Portuguese cities, but Lisbon really stole my heart.

Near Rossio

Lisbon doesn’t have the famous museums or the “prestige” factor of many other places in Europe, but it has romance, beauty, and an allure that captivates you. Without a doubt, it’s my favorite place in Europe.

My only regret? That I have not one good picture of myself looking fabulous while there. You’ll have to settle for this rooster I spent a lot of time talking to instead. Call him Marcus:

Marcus doesn’t mess around

Posted in Portugal | 2 Comments

Four months later…

Hello fine folks,

On June 6th, my gloriously fun filled four month trip around the world came to an end. I definitely had a wonderful time exploring many places that I’ve always wanted to see. I’m currently getting settled back into life in the States and actually planning what my next trips for the year will be. But here’s some details regarding my 4 months away:

Places visited:

  • Hong Kong
  • Macau
  • Singapore
  • Thailand
  • Cambodia
  • New Zealand
  • Finland (for less than a day, though)
  • Spain
  • Portugal
  • Germany
  • Amsterdam
  • Belgium
  • England

Favorite places:

  • Chiang Mai, Thailand
  • Siem Reap, Cambodia
  • Lisbon, Portugal
  • Almost all of Southern Spain!
  • The Mana Retreat Center in New Zealand

Costs of trip:

  • It’s one of the things a lady mustn’t talk about! But seriously, the trip cost a total of…

$9700

This is definitely more than I thought it would cost, but still cheaper than it would have cost to stay in my apartment in New York for four months. Even though it kind of stings to see the monetary amount, I definitely do feel it was cash well spent.

I have a ton of photos and a whole bunch of stories to still share about my trip. So, thank you for reading and stay tuned for even more posts!

Thank you for reading!

Marilyn

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Three months of travel (and a bunch of firsts)

Hey fine folks!

This week marks my three month anniversary of being on the road. And it’s been really, really cool. It’s been a great experience and I am so happy that I stuck to my guns and made this dream of long term travel into a reality. And I’m gonna say this, and I promise I’ll only say it once on this site: It can be really hard for an independent traveler sometimes. Most of the time, well-meaning friends and family try to discourage you by saying that the worst will happen. And sometimes the people closest to you don’t value travel, and so you have to really face the reality that if you want to make travel a big part of your life, you’re gonna have to do it alone. It’s been an interesting time for me because I’ve had the chance to think about who I am, what I want out of life, and how I want to live in the next couple of years. I know that I really love travel, and I’m glad I got to experience these past few months while I had the time and didn’t have to factor a job into the equation. I wanted the chance to celebrate my trip with you through an adventure of my time on the road!

Hong Kong and Macau

These spots not only marked my first time in Asia, but my first times couchsurfing. I had a great time in both locations, but I would love to make a return trip to Hong Kong!

Singapore

Singapore marked my first time going to a Hawker stand, and unfortunately also marked my first bad experience at a hostel during this period of travels. I actually ended up going to Singapore twice during my trip. The first time I hated it, and the second time it turned out to be pretty lovely. I’m glad I gave it a second shot.

Boat Quay in the afternoon – Singapore

Thailand

I actually ended up going to Thailand a couple of weeks earlier than expected to meet up with my friend in Mae Sot, Thailand. I spent four days there, and it was super fun! There were a ton first, but the highlights were 1. Staying in a Hilton property for the first time, 2. Seeing a ton of temples, 3. Being scammed in a tailor shop, 4. Elephants!

Elephants – Elephant Nature Park, near Chiang Mai, Thailand

Cambodia

Actually, I’ll turn this one around. I think I was actually a first for many of the Cambodian people I saw, as most acted like they never saw a black person before! Firsts included riding a bamboo train, seeing Angkor Wat, and the first time during the trip when I really felt I was “off the beaten track” travel-wise.

Me on the Bamboo Train – Battambang, Cambodia

New Zealand

I love New Zealand, and I spent most of March and some of April there! Highs included hanging out with a new friend in Auckland and revisiting some of the places I hung out at when I was study-abroad student in 2004, and the whole month I spent at the Mana retreat.

Auckland Harbour – New Zealand

Spain

My camera broke as soon as I got there, so I don’t have anything to document my time there yet! But the biggest high was the week spent in a place called Valdelavilla for a language program. I got to eat and drink for free, and it was fabulous. I’ll be going back to Spain soon and I have a working camera now, so pictures will definitely follow.

Portugal

Did I mention I’m in Portugal now? It is friggen amazing. Some friends had told me that Lisbon was a “ditch,” but it’s honestly one of the most romantic and beautiful places I have ever seen. Imagine Italy minus the truckloads of tourists, but with amazingly nice Portuguese people and better hostels. Love it!

Well anyway, that’s all for now. I’m in Porto, Portugal right now, but will be leaving in a couple of days to journey elsewhere. My itinerary is up in the air, and it’s a fabulous feeling! More to come later.

Posted in World Travel | 8 Comments

Don’t know until you try…

Hey y’all,

So I’m back! Sorry for the absence of posts, I was having way too much fun in New Zealand and forgot about you guys (kidding). I’m in Spain now, just got here yesterday.

I don’t know a lot about Spain and forgot something big, that people speak Spanish and I haven’t spoken that language since I learned a little in my 8th grade language class. I didn’t have any trouble getting from the airport to the hotel, but this morning, I woke up HUNGRY, and realized that my lack of language skills might get between myself and a plate of food. I left my hotel and started walking straight ahead, hoping I would see somewhere that looked like it served food. After about 15 minutes, I found a cafe. I booked it to the first seat I saw, and had my head down when the server started speaking to me. “Good morning, what would you like?” I told him I just wanted a ham and cheese sandwich. Did I want it for here, and did I want something to drink? I told him I wanted to eat here, and I just wanted a coffee with milk. My stomach was churning because I was so nervous. I didn’t know customs like tipping, and that whole not speaking Spanish thing was just terrifying me.

It took me about a minute to calm down and process that my whole conversation with my server was in Spanish. In fact, I even asked for directions to my hotel last night in Spanish. While my accent is terrible and it’s definitely not polished, I speak Spanish. Who’d have thought? The point is,  I took myself out of my comfort zone and realized that I had the skills to get around and order food, and that makes me feel so much more comfortable in being here. And that is why I love traveling.

I left the cafe smiling the whole way back to my hotel room. I think Spain’s gonna be a good time.

Posted in Spain, World Travel | 8 Comments