The Latest from Aktiv: So snow was the story for the week of Halloween here in Denver, Colorado. Unseasonably cold weather with over a foot of snow meant the kids had to wear layers when they went out trick or treating- something everyone should do. In the US we are always tempted to wear a super heavy coat over a t-shirt. But true warmth, and happiness means a base layer, a mid-layer, followed by a coat if it is truly cold. As Nate mentioned last week, I did get to spend some time in Spain, France, Greece and Denmark. Read on for some tips about traveling and a few bits about what I was up to.
Reflections: Here are a few of my takeaways.
#1 - Travel as much as you can- seeing how other people live and interact can only make you more reflective about how you yourself live. Don't put it off, more often than not that means you won't get to the destinations of your dreams. (Come to think of it, putting anything off is a bit of a disaster!) The crowds were quite manageable in Europe this October!
No one to travel with? Traveling by yourself means you have to engage with those around you, usually the people of the place you are visiting. If you're a bit fearful, find an event at your destination and before long you'll have made some friends. Paris is so easy to traverse, and around every corner is something delightful! While I only spent 20 hours in Paris this time, I made the most of it, seeing the progress on rebuilding Notre Dame, and taking a bread making class at Le Foodist. Good bread and stunning cathedrals take time- don't rush!
#2 - Only carry two items at a time. It’s when you start juggling three that your attention can get split. Are you one of those people who puts things away in drawers? For me that will always mean leaving something behind, so I don't. Always pack less than you think you need. If you happen to need something, this is a great way to engage with a local and buy it. I managed to live with a single suitcase that would fit in the overhead of a plane for two weeks, I'm pretty sure Rick Steves was smiling in his sleep over how efficiently I packed. Packing small and light, especially outside of the US where escalators and elevators aren’t as common makes all the difference in the world!
#3 - Plan, but be flexible. Part of the pleasure of a trip like this is planning. Do it, don't freak out if things change; but, having an idea of what you want to do means researching what is open, what will be closed, and figuring out if you need advanced tickets. Scheduling things like a tapas tour in Barcelona, Spain or arranging for a bike tour can sometimes be done at the last minute. Almost everything can be found online, and in the case of tickets for huge attractions like Sagrada Familia or The Eiffel Tower, if you don't buy tickets in advance you will either overpay or not get in at all! Build in free time though, unless you have time to take a vacation from your vacation, you want to go home refreshed and excited, not exhausted.
#4 - Go to Monemvasía in Greece, this walled city has no cars, just cobblestones and stunning beauty around each corner. Located in the Peloponnese on the Mediterranean the fortress was never taken. Instead, it is a place to relax, go on hikes and imagine what it would've been like to be alive five hundred years ago. I met up with a small group of people and visited Mistra Estates near Sparti, courtesy of the amazing Peter Schultz.
#5 - Aarhus, Denmark. The home of Moonchild Yoga Wear and the amazing designer Louise Wang Nielsen, I loved meeting her in person. Her positive energy and joy in life shines through in the amazing yoga clothes she's designed. Also, Aarhus has one of the most engaging art museums, ARoS, I've ever had the pleasure to visit. Housed in a super modern building, it contains paintings from Danish master to modern American artists - I only spent four hours there - living in this vibrant college town would be such a pleasure!
The best thing I ate in Europe - Hah! So I made paella in Spain, brioche in France, and ate Greek salads of cucumber, tomato, red onion and divine Mistra Estates olive oil... You really think I can pick a favorite??? Ok, I will pick two meals. One, I actually made myself at The Paella Club. The other was at the Kinsterna Hotel near Monemvasía in Greece. Creative, local and fabulous.