Wanderlust Living is a travel blog for those who love to journey the world and want to bring it home into their everyday lives. I'm just a girl trying to have a cup of coffee everywhere she can. Our family has moved to the bustling city of Barcelona, Spain, after living on the beach in Costa Rica for three years. Try to keep up!

Andrea Fellman of Wanderlust Living Travel Blog

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Posts by Category: McKenna

Barcelona December 1, 2016 posted by

Getting a Christmas tree in Barcelona

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Getting a Christmas Tree in Barcelona

Last weekend we got a Christmas Tree and I was giddy with excitement. I’m pretty sure my excitement was hovering right around that extremely annoying level, but deep down I knew that at least McKenna was just as excited as I was. She just has more self control with her enthusiasm than I do.

Some might wonder why I was so excited about getting a Christmas Tree in Barcelona, so let me explain. We have not had a Christmas tree in three years. While living in Costa Rica we were denied a little (okay, a lot)  of the Christmas spirit, which was actually very refreshing. I liked not having all the holiday frenzy shoved in our faces 24/7 and I didn’t panic or feel like I had to run to the malls to start shopping and buying a bunch of junk we didn’t need. However, I like decorating, I like pretty things and I like some sparkle in my life.  I missed seeing Christmas lights that make this time of year seem so magical and getting a Christmas tree is such a classic holiday tradition!

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La Sagrada Familia Christmas Market

Where does one get a Christmas tree in Barcelona!?

Well, I knew that most European cities have some pretty incredible Christmas markets, so when I was searching for Christmas Markets in Barcelona, I read that the La Sagrada Familia Christmas Market always starts the last Saturday in November and I also read that they sell Christmas trees! We just so happen to live about 10 blocks from La Sagrada Familia.

So this past Saturday when driving home from our trip up the coast to Cadaques. I had the brilliant idea to go and pick up a tree while we still had our rental car. My family just loves my brilliant ideas! 😉 So, when we got back to Barcelona we dropped all our bags off at the apartment (to make room for the tree) and drove over to the La Sagrada Familia, parked in a nearby parking structure and hit the market.

This was the very first day of  the Christmas market and we arrived at about 1:00pm and it looked like it had literally just opened. People were still setting up their stalls and unpacking their products to sell! Barcelona is not a morning city. We cruised the market and went straight to the guys selling trees, we tried to not get too distracted by all the ornaments, villages and other shiny things because we were on a mission to just get a tree. Well.. and maybe a Caga Tio – the pooping Christmas log. (see next post)

We have very high ceilings in our apartment, so we all agreed that we needed a BIG tree! There were a few stalls around the park that were selling trees  of all shapes and sizes, so we did a loop and then decided on the best one. It was pretty much the biggest one we saw, we paid 60 Euros for it, the guy wrapped it up tight in some white netting and helped Harris carry it to the curb.

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Harris and Hudson went to go get the car while McKenna and I stood on the side of the road next to La Sagrada with our gigantic Christmas tree, two poinsettia plants, and our Caga Tio. While we waited I kept saying that this tree was NOT going to fit in the car and that we’d probably have to pay some guy with a truck to get it to our apartment. And just as it started to sprinkle, Harris pulled up in our shiny red rental car, he popped the trunk and we started to shove it in. We wiggled it through trying to be careful of the branches, and we eventually got it all the way to the dashboard. I handed each of the kids a poinsettia plant, grabbed our Caga Tio and off we went!

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But we got it home!  Operation Christmas Tree was a SUCCESS.

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Getting a Christmas tree in Barcelona
Andrea December 4, 2014 posted by

Instagram Travel Thursday: Mother Daughter trip to Caneel Bay

Caneel Bay Wanderlust Living
Mother Daughter Travel

Last month McKenna and I got to take our first mother daughter trip to together and it just so happened to be her 10th Birthday, so it was a very special trip. I was invited on a press trip to scout out Caneel Bay Resort as a family friendly destination for Savvy Sassy Moms. You can read my full review, take me away to Caneel Bay.

For this Instagram Travel Thursday post I wanted to highlight McKenna because she was so excited to be taking a trip with just her Mom, no little brother tagging along, and couldn’t wait to see the turquoise waters of the Caribbean. Even though this was a work trip for me, in her mind this was her 10th Birthday trip! Which was fine by me, happy to give her such a special gift of traveling. Although, may start to  expect the same treatment every year!

Caneel Bay St John Virgin Islands Wanderlust Living

Caneel Bay, Virgin Islands

When we got to our room Caneel Bay had a personalized towel and donkey stuffed animal for her along with some other little treats. She quickly opened up the itinerary and began reading it out loud. She is the perfect press trip travel companion, because she is very organized and needs to be on time for everything. They also left gorgeous shells in the room each night, which she absolutely loved and we took all of them home with us as special souveniers.

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McKenna went kayaking for the first time (which I could not believe was her first time) and she finally enjoyed snorkeling. She has tried before but so many times she would get scared and not get her mask to fit properly so she would give up, but this time she accomplished it and absolutely LOVED it. We saw turtles and she got to hold a starfish, which was probably her most memorable thing from the trip. I am so grateful that I got to spend this time with McKenna, I hope she remembers it always.

Follow our travels on Instagram @andreafellman and @mcKennafellman
Read more about our stay at Caneel Bay!



Instagram Travel Thursday: Mother Daughter trip to Caneel Bay
Costa Rica May 11, 2014 posted by

First time stand up paddleboarding in Costa Rica

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One of the first things the kids were excited to try in Costa Rica was stand up paddleboarding (SUP).  Our friend Javier, who is an official Costa Rica tour guide brought the boards and paddles to Playa Conchal and helped me and the kids learn how to stand up paddleboard. Playa Conchal is one of our favorite beaches in Costa Rica and on this particular afternoon we got rained on, but when it rains it’s a warm rain and actually very refreshing. You can see in the photos that the clouds were moving in on us, but we got plenty of paddleboarding in before the rain started.

Harris had already gone out a few times with Javier so he was a pro by now. Hudson was six and McKenna was eight years old last year when they tried this for the first time and they both got up with no problem.  Stand up paddleboarding is not very hard, it’s just a lot about balance. It works your leg muscles and core, but also the arms get a nice work out too from paddleing and steering the board in the direction you want to go. The kids didn’t go out very far since they can only paddle so long.  I think the most fun for them was coming into the shore and riding the wave which pushes them fast and then they either jump off or fall off.

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This is Javier and you can find him at LovingCostaRica.com.  He does tours all around Guanacaste and can help arrange activities, tours, transportation or provide you with some general travel information and guidance.

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First time stand up paddleboarding in Costa Rica
Costa Rica May 6, 2014 posted by

Saturday sailing, snorkeling and jumping!

Last Saturday we took our friend Sam who is visiting us out on a Catamaran, one of our favorite things to do here in Costa Rica.  There are a few Catamaran boat options in our area but we like the Marlin Del Rey that leaves out of Tamarindo.  The owner of the Marlin Del Rey is a parent at our kids school so he gives us a nice discounted rate.  But not only that, they have a great staff and a really great boat.

We take the sunset snorkel tour that leaves at 1:30pm and brings you back in around 6:00pm.  You spend about an hour getting out to a snorkeling spot and then about an hour and a half snorkeling and eating a light lunch, it’s all you can drink too! They provide all the snorkel equipment, life jackets and noodles. Depending on the time of year you can see sea turtles and dolphins in the water.

Usually my kids just jump off the back of the boat, which is a low platform close to the water, but this time they jumped from the front of the boat which is about a 8 foot drop.  I am sure my mom will not appreciate any of these pictures.  I didn’t capture a ton of photos, because I was too busy jumping too!

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Saturday sailing, snorkeling and jumping!
McKenna April 12, 2014 posted by

McKenna’s 9th Birthday, Tamarindo Costa Rica

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 McKenna’s 9th Birthday Party in Costa Rica

Most Birthday parties in Costa Rica are pool parties, which is super easy and fun. The kids have a blast and the parents don’t have to do much other than provide some food. We had a pool party for Hudson’s Birthday up at our house and it was a lot of fun, but I wanted to try to find something different to do for McKenna’s Birthday party.

I randomly walked into this swimsuit boutique in Tamarindo and found these adorable little dolls, handmade right there in the shop.  It turns out that Papaya Con Leche is not only a swimsuit boutique but a custom swim suit shop and they hold craft classes for kids too!  They told me they even do a doll making class. While I was driving home a light bulb went off in my head, we should have McKenna’s Birthday party here and make the dolls!

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Getting Crafty in Costa Rica

When we arrived for the party the girls working at the store an helping with the Birthday party were all dressed up as dolls, it was so cute!  They lead us upstairs and it was like entering a secret fashion attic.  There were rolls of fabric everywhere, sewing machines, boxes of thread and fabric scraps.  This place was oozing with creativity, and I loved it.  I think McKenna did too, but she wasn’t as expressive as me.

Each of the girls were given a doll and they began learning to sew on the eyes of the dolls.  This was the first time McKenna had ever held a needle and thread. (I love fashion, but even I don’t know how to sew on a button). Then they moved onto sewing on the dolls heart, next they used swimsuit scraps to sew on the dolls hair. Last but not least, the dolls got eyelashes, a smile and a fun skirt.

Swimsuit Shop in Tamarindo, Costa Rica

If you are in Tamarindo visiting and your kids need a little break form the sun and surf. Go into Papaya Con Leche and ask them about their doll making class.  This will be a unique handmade souvenir  to take home! While they make their dolls you can pick out a new swimsuit or help design and pick out your fabrics to have them make you a custom swimsuit!

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McKenna’s 9th Birthday, Tamarindo Costa Rica
McKenna November 21, 2013 posted by

Instagram Travel Thursday: Best friends on a barefoot hike in Las Catalinas

Instagram Travel Thursday

Welcome to Instagram Travel Thursday. This fun link up is hosted by Skimbaco Lifestyle and a few other of my favorite travel bloggers. Every week I post the latest and greatest from my Instagram photo stream to show you a little glimpse into my life here in Costa Rica! For some of you that are new here, we just recently moved to Costa Rica to embark on an epic family adventure and to truly embrace living my passion.

This week I am sharing a sweet walk/hike to a hidden beach that my daughter McKenna and her best friend here in Costa Rica lead. They let the rest of tag along and I captured their steps along the way. One of my favorite things about living in Costa Rica is exploring the many beaches and that the kids are free to explore. This is at one of our favorite spots, Playa Danta and Playa Dantita at Las Catalinas. When the tide is low you can climb over the exposed rocks to a small hidden beach. Take a walk with us…

**If you are looking for more about the hiking trails at Las Catalinas read, Obsessed: The Las Catalinas Hiking Trails

 

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Come by next week for another Instagram Travel Thursday post!
Instagram Travel Thursday: Best friends on a barefoot hike in Las Catalinas
Costa Rica November 4, 2013 posted by

Celebrating Halloween in Costa Rica

Celebrating Halloween in Costa Rica was a little different then back home in Pasadena but we still and a lot of fun.  I had just recently gone back to the states and so while I was there I went on a Halloween shopping spree and brought back an entire suitcase filled with nothing but Halloween goodies for the schools party and our costumes.  I even bought our dogs little costumes!  The original plan was to go as a family of vampires, but I ended up just wearing a festive spider mask.

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Since there aren’t any large neighborhoods here and all the kids live pretty spread out the kids went trick or treating at their school.  After trick-or-treating the school had a fun party with a haunted house, games and a scary bake sale.  Harris and I helped in the photo / craft booth all night, snapping pictures of all the kids and families dressed up in costume.

Just like in the states the kids ran around collecting candy and bouncing around on a sugar high.  I did miss  our regular chili and potluck get together with friends back in the states and the seeing all the pumpkins and falling leaves this year.

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Celebrating Halloween in Costa Rica
Costa Rica August 31, 2013 posted by

Horseback riding on Playa Conchal, Costa Rica

We had some friends come down to Costa Rica this summer, The Lantz’s.  Harris knows Michael Lantz from the internet marketer circle and they’ve done some business together.  The Lantz’s have five beautiful children (yes 5), our kids had never met before but became fast friends and were asking for a sleepover the first night we met!

One of the activities McKenna had been asking to do since we arrived in Costa Rica was to go horseback riding, so on our last day with the Lantz’s we all saddled up!  Well, the women and children did.  The Dads were not to into it so they stayed back with one of littlest of Lantz’s. You will find many places in Costa Rica to horseback ride, but we grabbed our horses and guide at Playa Conchal, which is by far one my favorite beaches. You will hear me talk about this beach a lot.  The Lantz’s were staying at one of the vacation rentals/condo’s on the Westin, Playa Conchal property so we were able to easily access the beach through the Beach Club.  Where we spent a lot of time hanging out with the Lantz’s this summer.

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All of our horses had names but the only one I can remember was McKenna’s, because it was the spanish word for ponytail, Coleta. Which was so perfect for her.  So all seven of us mounted up and while we waited to leave my horse started to pee, the kids all thought that was hilarious.

Our little ride took about an hour and we made a simple loop rode on a tree covered trail where we spotted two monkeys, on the sandy beach of Conchal and then down a long road.  We were in two packs and then McKenna’s horse brought up the rear, her horse was last for most of the ride, which was a bummer because I wanted to ride near her.  I brought my camera and tried to get pictures of everyone but was sometimes difficult on a moving horse.

I think the kids had fun and riding horses on the beach is nice, but it always seems a little to calm for me.  It cost $25 for each of us to ride for 1 hour.  Even though this was not the most exciting thing we have done, I was glad we did it with our new friends.  It will be a memory for all of us and summed up our time with the Lantz’s beautifully.

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Horseback riding on Playa Conchal, Costa Rica
Costa Rica August 31, 2013 posted by

Brasilito, Costa Rica

One of the main towns we drive through every day to get the kids to and from school is Brasilito, which is a traditional beachside town in Costa Rica that is home to many locals. The main square has many local restaurants called “sodas” serving the typical Costa Rican dishes like Arroz con Pollo and Cosados. This is also the place you’ll also find some souvenir shops, catch the local bus or grab a taxi. You’ll also find fruit for sale on the side of the road, which is totally safe to buy and eat. Locals will set up small stands to sell Mamon Chino, Sandia {watermelon) and Aguacate (avocado).

Mamon Chino’s are are an ugly looking round fruit that is pink or red in color with black or green hairy fur, but inside is a sweet grape like fruit that is super yummy!  Never judge a fruit by it’s cover;)  And Costa Rica has some of the biggest avocados I’ve ever seen in my life!

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Brasilito also has a a little skate park for kids.

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Don Brasalitos is a local favorite but when you enter you’ll instantly feel the American bar type atmosphere, thanks to the Harley Davidson t-shirts hanging on the wall and the 80’s rock music videos playing on the big screens. It’s a motorcycle type bar across from the beach. It has a large room with plenty of seating and a huge bar, there is also a mini casino (machines) if you want to try your Costa Rican luck. They serve traditional Costa Rican food, typical bar food and have nice happy hour specials.

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Brasilito beach is also the way to Playa Conchal, a tricky beach to get to. You have to literally drive on Brasilito beach to get to Playa Conchal.  This is confusing for many. If you drive to the end of the main road in Brasilito towards the beach you will go left and drive down onto the beach.  It will feel odd, but you’ll see other tire tracks. Keep going until you hit a wooded area and then through the woods a bit and then you are there!

Brasalitto is a true local town, and it sits in the middle of some of the best beaches in Costa Rica. It is completely safe during the day but can get a little sketchy late at night.

Brasilito, Costa Rica
Family August 5, 2013 posted by

First Day of School in Costa Rica

August 5th 2013:  First Day of school in Costa Rica.

Today was the first day of school in Costa Rica, I was super excited, Harris was pretty calm as usual, McKenna was a little nervous and Hudson was his same silly self.  It was really like any other typical first day of school, The uniforms were brand new and crisp, the backpacks were packed with fresh school supplies and I was trying to capture a perfect first day of school picture.  The only difference was, we were in Costa Rica and the kids were going to arrive in style in Harris’s new bad ass Jeep.

Our kids will be going to Country Day School Guanacaste, an international private school for grades K -12.  We toured the school a year ago when we were here and fell in love with the campus and it seemed to be a great place for our kids to make an easy transition.  There are a lot of expats in this area so the school has a mix of  Americans, Canadians, and Costa Rican children as well as some families from Europe.  One of our main goals for moving to Costa Rica is so our children will become bilingual and about half of their day will be taught in Spanish.  This was also probably the biggest concern that our children had, was learning Spanish.  They were excited to start school but learning another language was totally new to them, so I can understand their nervousness.

Hudson only has six kids in his class and McKenna’s class was a mix of 3rd & 4th grade so she had 16 in her class.  This was a temporary situation until they could find a 4th grade teacher.  Both teachers were American but spoke fluent Spanish.

We dropped them off with no real worries, they were in a safe place and we believed this would be such a great experience for them.  I mean, how badly could this screw them up…?  Of course, as a parent it’s natural for you to want your children to like school and make friends easily but since our kids have traveled and moved around a bit, we knew they would probably adapt well.  But there is always that little fear of the unknown and what if they are miserable and hate it here!??

I’m happy to report that they had a great first day and came home saying they made friends, loved their teachers and liked their new school.  In fact, the third day was a half day and Hudson was so upset when we came to pick them up, he said “I don;t want to go home yet!” and McKenna ran up to us asking if she could have a playdate with one of the girls in her class!  So I think it is safe to say, they’ll be just fine.

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First Day of School in Costa Rica