Bali Travel Guide

Posted on: February 9, 2018

Where do I even start with this post? Bali was a literal dream. A magical place on earth that I could return to yearly and next get sick of. A place full of delicious food, friendly people, and gorgeous villa views. I understand why it is on EVERYONE’S travel bucket list so I’m here to share our favorite parts of Bali!

We started our adventure in Canngu for the first four days and stayed at Zoe Villa and then headed inland to Ubud for another four days. Canngu is SUPER hipster/surfer vibe with a ton of foodie spots to eat (listed at the bottom of this post) and great shopping! The streets are full of Aussie’s with long hair and freshly waxed surf boards. In my opinion, Canngu/Seminyak has a similar vibe to Hawaii!

If you are a yogi, catch a class or two at 108 Yoga in Seminyak or The Practice in Canngu!

 

Stunning waterfalls. We spent an entire day chasing waterfalls in Ubud thanks to the recommendation of a friend! We rented a moto and drove to Goa Rang Reng (secluded and stunning), Tegenunjan Waterfall (touristy but huge), Dusun Kuning Waterfall, and Kanto Lampo (pictured above).  Wear water shoes and a swim suit if you intended to get in for photos.

James Gang Travel Tips

Rent a scooter! Everyone uses those to get around and its super cheap to do so!

Buy a cheap rain poncho! The rain can hit you un-expectantly and you will want it! Trust me.

Only use metered taxi’s or be clear on your price! Even apps like uber or grab can’t be trusted. The driver will always try to negotiate more once you secure a car through the app.

Most restaurants will take credit card but keep cash on hand for cabs and local shops.

Where To Stay

You can either stay luxury or on a budget! We found our way in between on the more budget friendly side! There are plenty of cute villas available on Airbnb and I’ve even have a $40 off code for you! Just click here!

If you would prefer to stay in luxury here are a few of the dreamiest:

Viceroy Luxury Bali Villas 

Anantara Uluwatu Resort

Kamandalu Ubud Resort

Zoe Villa Canngu 

Where To Eat

(all located in Canngu or Seminyak)

Betelnut
Kynd Community
The Fat Turtle
nude
Motel Mexicola ( go for dinner and make a reservation) SUPER fun mexican food with a dj that mixes 90’s classics 🙂 The staff will dance with you on our table 🙂
Potato Head Beach Club (also make a reservation) Nice little beach club with food and drinks! You can go to eat or spend the day there 🙂 Also kid friendly!

Located in Ubud:

Yellow Flower (literally in the middle of the jungle with a gorgeous view of the volcano)
The Elephant
Milk & Madu
Watercress

What To Do/See

Monkey Forest: A large sanctuary where you can wander around with monkeys! Do not take any food in with you because they will find it and steal it! Carson was calm as a cucumber but I was a stress case! Terrified of those cute little things climbing all over me!
Waterfalls-Goa Rang Reng (secluded and stunning) Tegenunjan Waterfall (touristy but huge), Dusun Kuning Waterfall, and Kanto Lampo Waterfall. All easily accessible without a tour guide!
Rice Terraces– They are kind of all over but the largest one and most famous is Tegallalang. Try to avoid visiting during the middle of the day. You can avoid tour groups by going early or an hour before closing.
Campuhan Ridge Walk– gorgeous little walk through some rice fields!
Swing over the jungle! Search for Zen Hideaway on airbnb and then send a message that you would like to book time on just the swing, not a room. They will then give you a date and time that you can go 🙂 Its about $30 per person. There is an actual “Bali Swing” up the road but it is super touristy and not quite as dreamy or private.
Yoga:
The Practice (Canngu)
108 Yoga in Seminyak (Seminyak)
Intuitive Flow (Ubud)
Yoga Barn (Ubud)
Ubud Yoga House (Ubud)
Radiantly Alive (Ubud)

Bali is on the top of my list as a place I would love to return and visit. We only say a small part of Bali and would LOVE to explore more! What parts of Bali are your favorites?

xoxo
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Bohol, Philippines

Posted on: January 23, 2018

Man Made Forest

Island Hopping

Chocolate Hills

Bohol has so much to offer! The Philippines has so many islands its a tough decision where to go but we are so glad we decided to stop in Bohol. There are a couple ways to get to Bohol. If your travel plans allow it, take a flight into Tagbilaran and then catch a cab or a shuttle to your accommodations. If thats not available, you can fly into Cebu and then take a ferry from Cebu to Tagbilaran. Flying is overall easier but the ferry option may be more budget affective.  We used the Ocean Jet ferry since it had a wider selection of departure times.

Where to Stay:

We found this perfect Airbnb in Panglao but the island isn’t short of killer places to stay! If you want $40 off your first Airbnb stay click here!

When traveling in Southeast Asia we usually use Agoda or booking.com to find hotels if airbnb isn’t your thing!

We decided to stay in Panglao instead of the heart of Bohol. We recommend staying in Panglao near the beaches and nightlife.

Where to Eat:

Sadly we didn’t run into many great places to eat but we did find a few gems!

Bar Woo: The favorite of the trip! The Pepper Chicken was perfectly cooked with the right amount of spice and the menu has something for everyone. It’s a small space so get there at 6 to beat the crowds or make a reservation!

Shaka Bohol: Tasty acai bowls and a vegan/vegetarian menu.

Bohol Bee Farm: A must if you are in Bohol! There is a smaller cafe version right on Alona Beach as well! It’s labeled as a Filipino/Asian resturant but the menu is super diverse with healthy and organic options.

What to Do/See:

Panglao Island Hopping/Snorkeling: You can find this tour offered at every hotel as well as walking along Alona beach. Don’t take the first price offered as it is usually too high. Scout out your options and find what price works for you! You can join a group tour or rent a private boat.

The Island tour visits both Balicasag & Virgin Islands and offers the option to snorkel in the crystal clear waters of the Balicasag Island Marine Sanctuary, where there is a variety of coral reefs and even sea turtles!

Chocolate Hills: The famous Chocolate Hills were the number one reason we decided to visit Bohol. I’m not sure if there is another spot on earth that looks the same. I’m really looking foward to editing the drone footage we got of this area because its bound to be stunning!

Tarsier Sanctuary: The Tarsiers live in trees, and are entirely nocturnal. They are the only primates which are wholly carnivorous. The sanctuary itself is pretty small and will only take you about 30 mins (at most) to walk through it, but they are super cute!

Man Made Forest: The manmade forest is a 2-kilometer stretch of mahogany trees that immediately transports you to another world. There is no designated parking so BE CAREFUL taking pictures as it is a regularly used highway.

All three of those can be done in one tour offered from many tour groups. The only downside is that the tour also includes some other “tourist trap” stops that we didn’t want get stuck in. We decided to rent a driver for a few hours and hired him to take us to those three spots. It worked out perfectly for our schedule and we had the freedom to move as we pleased.

Final Tips:

The Philippines is known to get hit often with tropical storms. Even during the dry season. Be prepared for unexpected weather and go with the flow.

Bring cash! The hotels will accept credit card but the local businesses and drivers won’t. Exchange some money at a major airport or keep your eyes peeled for a good rate while wandering the shops.

Pack bug spray, sun screen, and water shoes. We suggest an underwater camera as well for snorkeling and turtle spotting!

Be flexible! It’s the island lifestyle after all!

xoxo

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Coron, Palawan

Posted on: January 9, 2018

Kayangan Lake

Our tour guide had a brand new puppy that joined us for the day! Meet sweet little Tom!

Twin Lagoon. Cannot wait to edit the drone footage we got of this place!

The Philippines has been on our travel list since my little brother lived there for some time. The biggest question was which part of the country do we spend some time in? EVERYONE suggested we visit Palawan so the research began! The most popular of travel destinations in the Palawan region is El Nido. It’s become a bit of a tourist destination in the last couple of years so we opted to see Coron instead. The two destinations are SO SIMILAR that is was a difficult choice, but in the end Coron was magical!

Where to stay:

We stayed at the Coron Westown Resort but there are a ton of options out there! If it’s in your budget, The Funny Lion or the Two Seasons Resort both have excellent reviews!  The benefit of staying at a hotel is they will organize airport transportation as well as daily tours. Our hotel offered tours at the same or even cheaper rate than we found in town.

If a resort is not in your budget, there is a plethora of hostels and guest houses great for backpackers!

Where to eat:

This is the one thing I’d say Coron is really lacking. Because it’s not as popular as El Nido the resturant scene is a little small. But never fear we did find a few gems! Generally the hotels have decent food but sadly our resort did not! So we branched out a bit. ALWAYS REMEMBER to drink only bottled water and stay away from street food. I know it’s tempting but it’s not worth spending your vacation bent over a toilet! Most restaurants will wash fruits and veggies with filtered water but if you are concerned just ask 🙂

Buzz Cafe: Once we found this place we ate there twice! Lots of healthier western menu items and a great breakfast spot.

Altrove Coron: Delicious authentic Italian pizza.

Brujita Bar and Restaurant: We didn’t get a chance to eat here but the reviews are awesome! Tasty Asian dishes!

What to Do/See:

Island Hopping

This is the whole reason why you go to Coron! Take a day trip with a local tour company to the remote surrounding Islands. IT IS SIMPLY STUNNING and not to be missed! The tour is about $35 per person and you can rent snorkel gear for dirt cheap if you need it! Our hotel organized the tour for us and there are shops all over town offering the same tours. Don’t forget to bring sunscreen and your camera because it is a full day in the sun hopping from one gorgeous island to the next.

Kayangan Lake

You can book a day tour to see Kayangan Lake. The lake is secluded (although can get quite busy with tourists) and is dubbed the cleanest lake in Asia. The water is crystal clear and you are surrounded by limestone cliffs.

That same day tour will include some other must-see spots:

Siete Pecados Marine Park
Beach 91 (this is where we had lunch on the tour)
Skeleton Wreck: Old Japanese ship wreck snorkeling area
Malwawey Coral Garden: Snorkeling
Twin Lagoon

I would recommend booking the Coron tour to see all the locations listed above. You have the option of hiring a boat to do so, but the price is much higher for a private tour.

Maquinit Hot Springs

Hire a trike to take you to the Maquinit Hot Springs. Natural hot springs that have been super well preserved and updated to be visitor friendly. There is another day tour that includes the springs but we decided to visit them on our own time. I’m so glad we did because there was hardly anyone there! Perfect activity after a morning at the spa.

Final Tips

The Philippines is known to get hit often with tropical storms. Even during the dry season. Be prepared for unexpected weather and go with the flow.

Bring cash! The hotels will accept credit card but the local businesses won’t. Exchange some money at a major airport before landing in Coron.

Pack bug spray, sun screen, and water shoes.

Be flexible! It’s the island lifestyle after all!

xoxo

 

Patios De Cordoba

Posted on: December 20, 2017

We flew down to the Malaga for a quick little getaway and we wanted to take advantage of a few other cities in the near by region. So after spending a few days in Malaga, we rented a car and headed out to explore!

The drive is about an hour north and it feels like you are stepping back in time. Cordoba was originally settled by the Romans then colonized by the Muslims armies in the 18th century. The Muslim influence is clear in the architecture and main structures of the city.

We didn’t have much of a plan, besides visiting La Mezquita, and we stumbled into the Patios of Cordoba or the “courtyards”. Due to the hot, dry Cordoban climate, the city’s first inhabitants, adapted the typical design of the popular house to their needs, making the home center around an inner courtyard, normally with a fountain in the middle and often a well to collect rainwater. The locals made further adjustments, giving the house an entrance from the street which passed through a porch, and filling the courtyard with plants to give the sensation of freshness.

To my surprise, there is even a yearly contest and festival around these patios! You can pay a small fee to take a mini tour through the winding neighborhoods. We visited at the end of summer and most of the plants had died by that point so I can only imagine how gorgeous they would be during the spring bloom! Oh and think of the smell!

What struck me was how kind the habitants were! Everyone of them was welcoming and excited to show to off their patio. I can imagine they hold such pride in maintaining the beauty and tradition!

If you are visiting the south of Spain I highly recommend Cordoba! If not for La Mezquita alone, Cordoba has so much to offer and is an “authentic” Spanish experience!

xoxo

 

Malaga

Posted on: December 6, 2017

Malaga has to be one of our favorite spots in Spain! The coastal town is located on the southern tip of Spain and it’s just a skip over the ocean to Africa! We haven’t made that skip yet but it is on the list! We have seen A LOT of Spain and if I had to pick a handful of cities to visit, Malaga would be on it!

We stayed at this airbnb ($40 dollars off with this code) which was located right on the coast!  Just behind the apartment is a promenade full of restaurants and a bus stop 2 mins away to the best beaches! An ideal location with not too much noise at night.

We LOVED Malagueta Beach and La Caleta! Malaga has an adorable town center and a lot of great shopping! Be sure to stop by the old city center to see the HUGE Cathedral and of course the Picasso museum. It is his birthplace after all, so be sure to catch it! The museum is FREE on Sunday afternoons, but that means it is busy so plan accordingly.

xoxo

Castle Hunting in Germany

Posted on: November 27, 2017

Schloss LichtensteinNeuschwanstein

Hohenzollern

Cochem Castle

Carson planned a killer weekend in Germany exploring some of Europe’s most famous castles! Although the weather was COLD, we bundled tight and made the best of it. I can only imagine how welcoming these charming cities would be in the budding spring! The one plus side to cold weather is that not many tourists were around to explore. We basically had most tours to ourselves and we didn’t feel rushed to keep moving. My personal favorite part was exploring the small towns that lay at the feet of these castles. Brightly colored buildings and old fashioned squares that hold old stories and legends. We managed to squeeze in five castles in our short excursion!

We flew into Munich and from there rented a car and headed straight to Neuschwanstein to catch a glimpse of Cinderella’s castle. Disney modeled both Cinderella’s and Sleeping Beauty’s castle after this epic architecture and being the Disney nerds that we are, we had to see it! This was the one castle that did indeed have a good amount of tourists so get there early to secure yourself a ticket to see the inside. If it’s sold out, you can still ride the bus up to tour the outside and take pictures on the iconic bridge!

We decided to stay in airbnb’s in the surrounding towns but managed to see Schloss Lichtenstein, Hohenzollern, Cochem Castle, and the Marksburg Castle. My personal favorite was in Cochem but each of the historic sites contained rich history and if only the walls could speak! All photos above taken by me! Please ask permission to use them 🙂

Check out our little video of our castle hunting adventure!

YouTube Preview Image

xoxo

Caminito Del Rey

Posted on: November 20, 2017

The Caminito was originally built between 1901 and 1905 and was used to transport material and people between two power stations that were built either side of the El Chorro gorge. It wasn’t until the early 1920s that it was officially opened by King Alfonso XIII who walked its whole length and gave it its name. Due to the erosion and ware of the original path, it became one of the worlds scariest climbs. Before restoration began in 2013, many adrenaline junkies lost their lives scaling the walls!

Tickets need to be purchased online at the official Caminito Del Rey website. If you are like us and function a little last minute, you can still get tickets at the gate. After discovering it was “sold out” online, we read on a few blogs that we could get there as soon as it opened to secure ourselves a walk! So we got up early and drove about an hour from Malaga. Parking is super easy and only costs a few euros. Pack some cash as the little kiosk does not accept cards!

One of our favorite things we have done in Spain so far and it is ALWAYS nice to get out in nature! Here are our tips for a killer day trip:

  1. Wear tennis shoes. You will not be allowed on the walk with sandals
  2. Bring your camera! The view is incredible!
  3. Pack a small bag with water/snacks
  4. Arrive early to avoid large tour groups on the trail
  5. Bring Cash (cards not accepted)

xoxo

 

La Mezquita [Cordoba, Spain]

Posted on: October 6, 2017

People say that “a picture says a thousand words” and in this case I couldn’t agree more. An easy day trip from Malaga landed us in Cordoba to see the famous Cathedral built on top of a Mosque.

One of the MOST incredible sites in Spain that we have seen thus far and the merging of two cultures creates a breathtaking experience. Rich catholic history built side by side with Muslim architecture and culture.

In order to snap the best photos without a ton of tourists, arrive early by 9 am or after 4 pm! During the day, La Mezquita is full large groups of visitors and organized tours. Give yourself at least an hour if not more to wander the large site.

A little history:  The Mezquita’s architectural uniqueness and importance lies in the fact that, structurally speaking, it was a revolutionary building for its time. Earlier major Islamic buildings such as the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem and the Great Mosque in Damascus placed an emphasis on verticality, but the Mezquita was intended as a democratically horizontal and simple space, where the spirit could be “free to roam and communicate easily with God”.

The Mezquita is registered as one of UNESCO’s World Heritage sites and is one of the largest Mosques in all the world. Rent a car from Malaga and make the day trip! An easy drive to witness one of southern Spain’s most beautiful monuments.

xoxo

 

All my Favorite Things [Flight Edition]

Posted on: September 18, 2017

 

It’s no secret I spend A LOT of time on planes! When we lived stateside, I traveled a ton for choreography but now living abroad, I spend even more time in the air! I get a lot of questions about what’s in my carry on bag so I thought I would share with all of you my secrets! I’ve also linked up my favorite things to travel with! You may be sent to the product listed through an affiliate link! I only link the items I love and it helps me keep this blog afloat.

First things first is staying healthy! I am a big fan of essential oils and my sisters got me hooked on Doterra! I like to use the On Guard oil previous to my flight! On Guard supports healthy immune and respiratory function, supports the body’s natural antioxidant defenses, and promotes healthy circulation! All helpful things when flying:)

I just rub a few drops on the bottoms of my feet before flying. I only do this if I am wearing shoes that require socks! Don’t apply if you are wearing sandals. (sounds a little bit gypsy-ish but I swear it works!) You can also drop a few drops in your water bottle and sip it if you prefer or Doterra just came out with an On Guard hand sanitation spray! I need to get my hands on that… where my Doterra friends at?!

Favorite Books

The plane is THE BEST place to catch up on some reading! Normally I spend way too much time on my phone but sitting on a plane for nine hours with no wifi forces me to read.  I am always searching for new reads so comment below with your favorites!

My most recent favorite reads are:

The Muse by Jessie Burton

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero

Favorite items in my Carry On

 

Burt’s Bees Cleansing TowelettesSophia+Joy ClutchNoise Cancelling HeadphonesRX BarsTravel Pillow. Scarf/Blanket. S’well Water BottleBag.

I don’t normally wear a lot of makeup while traveling but nothing beats the feeling of a clean face after an overnight flight. And I LOVE Burt’s Bees and their commitment to better ingredients!

Next I like to keep all the little things I’ll need while flying in one safe spot. I pack my passport, chapstick, keys, gum, lipstick, a pen (handy for customs paperwork) and other small necessities in one little bag! That way I am not digging through the endless pit of my bag for what I need!

Noise cancelling headphones have changed the way I fly. Not only is the sound top quality and ideal for music/movie listening, but they make it easier for me to sleep. You can switch on and off the “noise cancelling” function and the padding around the ears is very comfortable.

Everyone knows airplane food is awful so I always travel with some guilt-free snacks! I’ve recently discovered the RX Bars and I love them because they only have a handful of ingredients. I always recommend traveling with snacks because you will either pay and arm an a leg for airport food, or suffer through the provided meals.

Obviously a great travel pillow is ESSENTIAL! There are so many options out there but this is the one I use and it works for me!

Ok you may be thinking “why the heck is she traveling with a scarf?!”…This isn’t any old scarf my friends! It doubles as so many other things but I love to use it as a blanket or a pillow cover when traveling. The fabric is SO MUCH softer than the blanket provided and I always freeze on planes! I have a girlfriend that uses it as a hood and wraps herself up all tight to fall asleep! To each their own right?!

Water water water!!! So important while you are traveling and it will help keep your swollen ankles from getting super large! The little free glass is never enough for me, so traveling with my own bottle is a must!! Love this one from S’well!

Last but not least, you need a great bag to put it in! I feel like I could’ve linked 100 bags that I love but I’m a backpack girl through and through! I love this one from lululemon because I’m a huge fan of all the pockets and compartments! I also have a Fawn Design bag that is actually a diaper bag, but I use it for travel! No babies just yet 🙂

Travel doesn’t have to be stressful or something you dread. I love it and traveling prepared makes for a great start to your trip!

Where are you off to next?!

xoxo

No More Wasting Time

Posted on: September 12, 2017

I sat on the beach this past Monday to soak up the last bit of summer and I realized something while listening to a Podcast. With every wave coming in I begun to see that I’ve been wasting A LOT of time. And somehow this is just hitting me.

Your probably wondering what I’ve been doing to waste all this time. Instagram, netflix,  or facebook (all time wasters) but not the culprits this time. This time I was wasting precious life.

As most of you know we re-located to Spain last August and it has been a whirlwind. Tons of change and it left me feeling a little shaken and not knowing who I was. I’m not legally permitted to have a job so that presented some interesting challenges and I’m surrounded by a foreign culture/language/people.

I’ve written about that “lost identity” feeling and I let it overtake my life last year. By no means am I saying I’ve got it all figured out but I’m learning everyday. I chose to justify feeling lost or sad because of my circumstances. I felt alone and without a community and I reveled in that rather than separating myself from that feeling and learning from it. Get out of the house Jessie and go find a community right?! I wish I had that little face palm emoji that I could insert right here.

THERE WERE SO MANY lessons to learn and I wasted most of them. The silliest things like learning of few vocab words in the cab while he potentially ripped me off because I’m American. Or the new friends I met from all over the world while I fumbled through Spanish classes.

Even the hardest moments provided mini lessons or opportunities to change my perspective.  So you see it wasn’t netflix that took my precious time but the way I chose to live life. I wasted lesson after lesson while wearing my “this life is hard” goggles. Now life can indeed be REALLY hard. It isn’t peaches and cream everyday and I am not saying I don’t feel sadness and loneliness because I do. I feel those a bit too often but it’s the time I spent in those moments, not noticing lessons, that I wasted prime experiences. Feel fully first and then separate yourself from those feelings like watching a TV screen. Recognize it, analyze it, then learn from it.

Is how I am spending my time serving my life for the better?  That statement kind of makes me want to roll my eyes because let’s be honest….I spend too much time scrolling on insta or enjoying some good netflix but…I need to make sure in those moments my thoughts are serving me for the better. Are they thoughts of creativity, inspiration, and excitement? Or are they thoughts of comparison, negativity, and self doubt? And if they are the later, what can I learn? How can I shift my focus?

It’s easy to compare our lives to others when we think ours is less than. For me it’s watching my friends work in jobs I want but can’t have being in here Spain. But….I AM IN FREAKING SPAIN. So it’s a change of perspective and a promise that I will not waste a single more moment!

Wanna join me?!

xoxo

 

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