Booking Fail…

Remember the house accommodations I booked for La Batalla del Vino in Haro, Spain? The owner canceled the reservation 24 hours later.

I guess he has more important clients coming in.

The refund came in quick but now I’m rethinking the whole Airbnb thing. It seems kind of shady that so many of these home owners would put their homes up for rent and then cancel the reservations. Maybe it’s a scam. You have to request the refund, they don’t automatically give it to you. Maybe they’re hoping people will forget to request the refund, which I’m sure some have.

It’s starting to seem sketchy. I’ll keep you posted.

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Accommodations booked!

I don’t drink alcohol but I just rented a house in Haro, La Rioja, Spain so that I can attend La Batalla del Vino (the wine fight). I know, strange, right?

Who wouldn’t want to go to a festival where they waste wine? They literally waste wine! Every year, on June 29, they fill up buckets, super soaker water guns and anything else that will hold wine and then they run around battling each other with it. Sounds like fun to me!

The requirement is that you have to wear white clothes and a red bandana. Or at least a white shirt. Another requirement is that if you see anyone who still has white on their clothing, you MUST remedy it immediately.

I’m thinking about wearing all white, including my shoes.

Obviously my accommodations are for June 2016 since I only learned of this battle two weeks ago. I was debating on whether I should stay at a hostel or rent a hotel. Turns out there aren’t any hostels in Haro (that I know of) and I hadn’t even begun to look at hotels when I discovered Airbnb.

Airbnb is a website that allows people to rent a house for any given amount of time. There are also rooms to rent in case you don’t feel like renting an entire house. I chose to only rent a house for 2 days since I want to see Valencia and Madrid while I’m in Spain. The total for the accommodations came out to $151 (divide that by 4 people and it’s $38 per person total), but then I clicked the “book” button and saw that I got $25 off and remembered that I was given the $25 for signing up on the site. That brought the total down to $126 (or $31 per person). How cool is that?!?

I’m super excited about it. Although, now I have to wait a year!

I decided to book early because I read that accommodations fill up early and it can be difficult to find a place if you wait too long.

So who’s in? Let’s do this thing!

By the way, if you don’t already have an Airbnb account, sign up! It’s free and you’ll get $25 off your first accommodation. It’s an awesome deal!

Want to learn more about La Batalla del Vino? Check out this site.

I hope to see you there.

Riverwalk Thai Food

This place is fantastic!

I love Thai food and I’m always up for trying a Thai place I’ve never been to before. This restaurant is located in Lava Hot Springs, Idaho. My sister, best friend and I stopped here for lunch on our way back from Logan, Utah and I definitely did not regret it.

They had no problem accommodating me when I told them we needed three separate tabs. Some places actually refuse to do this, but they were okay with it. I love peanut satay sauce so I always order it. I fell in love with the sauce when I tried Thai for the first time at a restaurant near my house. I haven’t found a restaurant that makes the chicken and peanut satay dish the way that restaurant makes it, or as a main dish, but I’m never disappointed when I try a peanut satay dish at any Thai restaurant.

This restaurant offered a version of it as an appetizer. It was chicken strips (on a stick) with the peanut satay sauce on the side for dipping. I also ordered fried rice. Both were absolutely delicious! The fried rice was quite a large serving, probably meant for sharing, but I didn’t share!

The owners/staff are very nice and although it was nice that they don’t hover over patrons like some servers do at restaurants, it would have been good for them to make the rounds at least once or twice. I had to wait for the server to look over so I could motion to him that we needed more water. Once I did he promptly brought us another pitcher of water. No worries.

I spent a total of $24 for two or three dishes. I only remember eating two dishes, but I’m pretty sure I ordered three. I feel like there was a dessert involved, but I can’t remember. It’s been three weeks since I ate at this restaurant so some details escape my memory. It also probably doesn’t help that my food is usually gone within 5 minutes of it being served. I’m telling you, I scarf down food like a wild animal!

My sister forgot her take home container on the table by accident and the server actually ran out to her car to give it to her! He could have easily thrown it out instead of taking the time to run out after us.

Anywho, the restaurant is really good. I look forward to eating there again the next time I’m in Idaho.

Sociopaths & Sadness

Tonight, I’m sad. Not for me, but for a very close friend. I’m sad that she’s dating a sociopath because I know exactly what she’s going through. I’ve been there and it’s for that reason that I also know there’s nothing I can say or do that will take away the pain that she’s feeling.

Outsiders who have never dated a sociopath might look at someone who is dating one and say to themselves something along the lines of, “He/She needs therapy if they would date someone like that.”

People who would think that are dead wrong. While it’s true that everyone on this planet (whether emotionally healthy or not) could benefit from therapy/counseling, it’s not true that someone needs therapy simply because they are dating a sociopath. Dating a sociopath is often not a choice.

Sociopaths are skilled manipulators. They will say and do almost anything to get what they want from their victim. The game begins when the sociopath meets someone they are interested in. Sociopaths pretend to be the total opposite of who they really are because they know that their potential love interest would run in the opposite direction if he/she were to get to know the sociopath as their true self! And so the love interest falls in love with the sociopath, not knowing emotional torment will soon take root like an invasive weed.

Once the sociopath knows their love interest is emotionally invested, it’s as if a switch is flipped and the truth about the sociopath and his/her extreme emotional instability comes to light. The love interest is suddenly bombarded with confusion, insecurity and various forms of emotional abuse. Because the sociopath got to know their love interest while pretending to have a completely different personality, it tricks their love interest into thinking that perhaps the sociopath is just going through a rough time since this is definitely not the person he/she fell in love with!

Escaping these people is not an easy task. It often takes completely cutting off all contact with the sociopath.

I consider myself extremely lucky because my sociopath and I live in different countries, on opposite sides of the earth. When cutting off all contact with him I knew that there was no chance that he would pop up at my house or work, I wouldn’t run into him at the grocery store, events or anywhere else. We were talking on skype when he said something that made me realize he was never going to change. I remember his reaction when I told him that I wasn’t going to talk to him ever again. “You can contact me when you get over it.” I shook my head no. He replied, “Never?” Again, I shook my head no. My next step was to block him on all social media so he couldn’t easily make contact.

Doing this allowed me to start the healing process and it was at the 3 week mark of having no contact with him that I noticed I was starting to feel better about myself. I knew that cutting off all contact was the right decision but feeling my self-esteem and self-worth return bolstered me and helped me to stay on the path. Witnessing the gradual return of my self-esteem was strange because I never noticed it had been slipping away from me.

After 4 months of no contact I received an email from him, begging me to start talking to him again. It was the first time I had ever witnessed him beg for anything. This was coming from a man who specifically told me once, “I don’t beg.” The second I received that email from him I changed my email address and changed my phone number a few days later. I wanted to ensure that he wouldn’t be able to call or text as his next method of contact.

5 years later I don’t think about him unless I discover someone is a sociopath, or witness someone else’s emotional torment from being in a relationship with one.

I called my friend tonight and mostly listened to her. I’m a Virgo and if you know anything about Virgos then you know we have an opinion about everything and you know how difficult it is for us to listen to problems without giving advice. I didn’t give her any advice but I did talk to her about sociopaths and the way they operate. But mostly I listened.

Listening to her talk about her pain and hearing her cry was difficult. I had to hold back my own tears when talking to her because my heart breaks for her. It’s always difficult to witness someone we love going through something heartbreaking. Something potentially soul crushing and traumatizing. I wish that I could say something that would instantly help her, but I can’t. There are no words on this earth that will help ease the pain. Only time and reflection can heal wounds. If I had enough money I would drive over to her house, tell her to pack a bag and take her overseas for a few months so that she could start her own healing process.

The healing process is so complex. Sometimes it’s fairly “easy” to get over someone and in the healing process we discover that our feelings for that person weren’t as deep as we thought. Other times it takes many years to heal. I feel bad for those who don’t allow themselves time to heal from their relationship before jumping into another one. They will never heal. They simply stack baggage from one relationship upon the baggage from their previous relationships. Eventually that pile of baggage will topple. Then what?

Thankfully, my friend isn’t one of those people.

Like I mentioned above, the great escape isn’t exactly a walk in the park! I can only help my friend escape her sociopath the way I escaped mine, but first she has to want to. Until she’s committed to the great escape, all I can really do is listen to her or spend time with her. Be a shoulder for her to cry on whenever she needs it.

For now, all I can do is just be there for her.

Willow Park Zoo

Willow Park Zoo is a cute little zoo located in Logan, Utah. The entrance fee is $2.50 for adults and $1.50 for children ages 3-11. Children under 3 are free. Though the majority of the animals are birds, there are a lot of awesome animals that I’ve never seen in person before. If you love nature and wildlife then you’ll appreciate and enjoy this small, humble zoo. It’s a quite peaceful place to visit.

I was especially excited to see an enclosure for the Kinkajou, my favorite animal, but was disappointed that the Kinkajou wasn’t in the enclosure at the time I visited.

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Next to the Kinkajou enclosure was an enclosure for Capuchin monkeys. One Capuchin was at the top of the enclosure eating bugs off of a tree next to the enclosure.

Beautiful Peacocks roam freely in the zoo and I was surprised to learn that they make a honking sound. I tried to capture them honking on video but every time I hit the record button the peacocks would stop! It’s as if they knew…

The zoo is home to a Bald Eagle who was injured and can no longer fly. A very beautiful creature to see in person. The zoo is also home to a raccoon, an albino porcupine, a yak, an elk, coyotes, bobcats, and a reindeer, among many other animals.

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The reindeer was quite a character! He started doing relay laps back and forth along the fence enclosure while my friend and I were trying to snap a picture of him. I guess he had to stay fit for his yearly trip around the world with Santa! 🎅

If you’re in the area and you have kids, stop by and visit this zoo for some good family fun. The kids will have a good time and you’ll get a relaxing couple of hours.

The guest shop is very small. It has a lot of handmade items made by locals. There were some adorable knitted caps for kids in the shape of animals. I wanted to help out but I didn’t have a lot of money to spend when I visited so I purchased a bunch of stickers for $1 each. Any little bit helps, right?

I’ll be visiting the zoo again in the near future to see that Kinkajou!

Until next time. Be safe and happy travels!

Yakety Yak, don't talk back!

Yakety Yak, don’t talk back!

Sightseeing vs. Family

Idaho is gorgeous.

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve returned but now I’m seriously considering buying property there. I flew in to Salt Lake and instantaneously had what I like to call a “senior moment”. My brother-in-law and I were at baggage claim, waiting, and after a while I was starting to get anxious that my luggage had not made it on the flight. If you’ve read my stories about United Airlines then you understand why.

I thought to myself, “This cannot be happening again! What are the odds?”

After about 15 minutes, the only remaining pieces of luggage were black and my burgundy luggage wasn’t among them. Finally, a worker stops by to collect the unclaimed baggage and as he’s picking up the second piece I see burgundy and exclaim, “There it is!”

Turns out my luggage was sitting there the entire time but it was laying on it’s front so that no burgundy was visible at all.

Which goes to show you that it’s probably a good idea to memorize your luggage or put some kind of obvious identifier on both sides, just in case. Might help prevent future senior moments. For me at least.

We arrived in Idaho around 11 PM and my sister, brother-in-law and I stayed up until 12:30 AM talking. The last time I saw my sister was when she was pregnant with her first child, who is almost 2 years old now, and she had given birth to her second child a week before my arrival.

The next day I introduced them to “When Calls The Heart” and we spent the next two days watching season 1 and 2. My brother-in-law acts exactly like my brother when watching it. They both go nuts whenever something happens and want to know what’s going to happen. They also both have man-crushes on Mountie Jack. And crushes on every woman in the show. I guess Hallmark really knows how to cast!

Sadly, I didn’t get to see a whole lot of Idaho during my two-week stay as was planned. My sister watches a couple of kids for a lady she knows and her kids were sick. The lady claimed it was just allergies but her son had thick snot pouring from his nose and he coughed in my face numerous times. Definitely not allergies. I caught his cold and spent the entire two weeks sick.

No exciting sightseeing happened but I did get to spend time with my sister and I got to meet my nieces. Both of which were long overdue.

Short story shorter: Family is more important than any sightseeing ever could be.

Have You Committed A Misdemeanor While Abroad?

Last night, as I was researching my next trip, I came across the government’s travel site. The site has travel information for every country, including entry requirements and safety information. Some of you may know I’m a bit obsessed with Croatia, so I started looking at the information for Croatia before looking at the information for my trip to Australia. And that’s when I discovered it…

I committed a misdemeanor when I visited Croatia!

Here’s an excerpt from the entry requirements:
“All foreign citizens must register with the local police within 24 k1o2o491r8z0r3lgxz93.png.resize.710x399hours of arrival and inform them of any change in their address. If you are staying in a hotel or in accommodations rented through an accommodation company, the hotelier or accommodation company will register you automatically. Failure to register is a misdemeanor offense; some U.S. citizens have been fined for failing to register.”

I’ve been to this site many times, how did I miss this?!?

I know I didn’t register in 2006 when I visited the first time. I stayed with my friend’s mother so I definitely committed a misdemeanor then. My second visit was in 2013 and I stayed in hostels. As mentioned in the excerpt above, hotels will register you, but do hostels? I’ll have to look into that!

So, when you’re planning your next trip, be sure to carefully check the entry requirements so that you don’t make the same mistake I made!

Be safe and happy travels!

Traveling With Pets

Traveling with pets can be daunting if you’ve never done it before. Different airlines have different rules and it can be difficult to keep all those rules straight sometimes. I’ve never traveled with my pets before, but since I’m planning a long international trip for next year, I thought I would share a few things I’ve learned when researching the subject.

When deciding whether you should bring your pet along on your latest adventure, you’ll want to take four things into consideration:

1. Does my pet do well when traveling?
This one is a no-brainer. If your pet needs a Xanax to travel anywhere then it’s best to leave your pet at home or with a trusted friend or family member. It’s not advantageous in the long run for your pet to travel if he/she is going to be traumatized by the experience. However, if your pet deals with traveling fairly well, feel free to bring your fur baby along!

2. Is my trip domestic or international and how am I getting there?
It’s much easier to bring your pet with you on a domestic trip than an international one because you don’t have to deal with restrictions and quarantines for another country. If your trip is international, obviously you’ll be taking a plane or boat. But if your trip is domestic you have the option of flying or driving, time permitting. If you’re adamant about bringing your pet along on a domestic trip, consider driving. You won’t have to deal with airline restrictions and you’ll be able to let your pet stretch his/her legs and play for a bit during stops.

3. How long is my trip?
If you’ll only be gone a week, leave your pet at home. If you’ll be gone for 6 months, a year, or longer you should bring your pet! Unless the quarantine period is as long as your trip, or longer… Which brings us to the next question:

4. What are the pet restrictions and how long is the quarantine period?
Much like airlines, other nations also have their own sets of rules when it comes to traveling with pets. Some nations restrict the type of pet you can bring into the country, for example, dog breeds that are considered dangerous. Some nations also have long quarantine periods.

Years ago, when I was preparing to study in Australia, I read that the quarantine period was 1-2 months. I remember trying to figure out how I would arrange visits because I was going to be studying in Adelaide and the closest quarantine facility was in Melbourne! Nowadays, the quarantine period is only 10 days. Australia doesn’t allow pets to be imported on weekends or national holidays and pets must be imported through approved ports. You must also book a reservation with the quarantine facility in order to ensure a kennel for your pet is available when your pet arrives.

As a side note for those who want to take their pet to Australia: The Melbourne quarantine facility is closing in October 2015, which means the quarantine facility in Sydney will be the only one in the whole country, that I’m aware of.

When traveling with your pet you will be required to pay airline fees as well as quarantine fees. Make sure you have enough money to pay for any associated travel fees, as well as the equipment you will need for your pet to travel.

Aside from airlines and quarantine periods you’ll want to choose a hotel that allows pets. If you’re staying stateside, check out Trips With Pets to find a pet-friendly hotel. Bring Fido is a great site for those who want to travel international with their pets. It includes pet-friendly hotels, airlines requirements and country requirements.

Here’s a fantastic article about traveling with your pet, written by the Huffington Post. It outlines and discusses the things I’ve mentioned above in greater detail plus so much more! There really are a lot of various factors to consider, so do read up!

Happy traveling!

Monterey: Breakwater Cove

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Me, getting ready for Dive #1.
23 March 2013

I dove Breakwater for my open water certification and it was pretty cool! I didn’t have a GoPro or any other underwater camera so I wasn’t able to take any pictures. Now I really wish I had one at the time because there were thousands of baby crabs running across the ocean floor, all in the same direction, and I saw a sunflower star.

I did two dives here on day one of my certification. If you’re going to dive here, make sure you get there early because parking fills up pretty fast! Make sure you get a spot close to the water so you don’t have to walk a mile with your scuba gear on. For new divers, let me warn you: When you first come out of that water your gear will feel a hundred times heavier than when you went in! Maybe build up some muscle strength and endurance before you go… I really should have. It felt like I was carrying a sumo wrestler on my back!

One of the dive instructors told me his workout routine is designed to help with that. I never got a chance to ask him about it. Maybe he bench presses the tanks or uses them to do bicep curls. Who knows!

Sunflower Star Photo courtesy of CaliforniaDiver.com

Sunflower Star
Photo from CaliforniaDiver.com

Diving this place reminded me of the Submarine Voyage ride at Disneyland before it was unjustly turned into Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage. Minus the mermaids, sharks, and man-eating octopi of course!

The Coast Guard station is on site and you’ll see a lot of sea lions hanging out by the wall. Also on site is Glenn’s Aquarius II Dive Shop and a fantastic eatery called Massaro & Santos Restaurant, which I highly recommend!

I haven’t been to Breakwater since I was certified, but I look forward to going again when I have more time to dive. And next time I’ll bring the GoPro! If you’re a fairly new diver and you want to get better acquainted with diving and your new skills then this is a great place for you.

Don’t forget your buddy!

Bruno Mars: Marry You

One thing I will never understand is why everyone is so crazy about the song “Marry You” by Bruno Mars. “We’re looking for something dumb to do, hey baby, I think I wanna marry you.”

I wouldn’t marry any man who said that to me, and neither should any other woman whose man uses this song in any way!

Nothing is more offensive than having someone you love telling you that the idea of marrying you is dumb. Nothing says, “Baby, I want you to be my future ex-wife.” like telling a woman the idea of marrying her is dumb.

You know what’s dumb? This song.