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Wanderlust Living!

A travel blog for those who love to travel the world and want to bring it home and into their everyday lives. I'm just a girl trying to have a cup of coffee all around the world. Our family just moved to the bustling city of Barcelona, Spain after living at the beach in Costa Rica for three years. Try to keep up!


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Posts February 16, 2017 posted by

Date night at 4 Gats Barcelona

Many years ago I’d heard of the 4 Gats, a famous restaurant in Barcelona. I’m not sure how or why I knew about it, but it was on my radar. Even though I didn’t know the exact details of its history or what made it so famous, I took a chance and had Harris make us a dinner reservation for Valentine’s Day.  I thought, “why not just go in a little blind and see what happens?!”

Sometimes the less you know the better, it cuts down on disappointment if it’s not what you expected and if it’s great, then you’re pleasantly surprised!

Before leaving for dinner Harris quickly read aloud the story of 4 Gats from their website. I was sort of listening, but I was finishing up dinner for the kids so I really only heard two things – the restaurant dates back to 1897 and it is where Pablo Picasso had his very first art exhibition.

Great, grab your jacket and let’s go…

As we walked up to 4 Gats I realized I have walked by this building many times, not even realizing it was El Quatro Gats (gats is Catalan for cats). The design of the building is gorgeous and has its own importance, Casa Marti, a modernista building designed by Catalan architect Josep Puig i Cadafalch. If you happen upon this building while wandering around Barcelona it will definitely grab your attention. There is a statue mounted on the corner and one of the most elaborate balconies you’ll ever see. You surely can’t miss it.

(In fact, I had already taken a photo of it on one of my walks earlier this year!)

4 Gats Barcelona

Els Quatre Gats was founded by the Catalan artist Roman Casas and opened on June 12th 1897. It was a bar, restaurant and social club that was inspired by Le Chat Noir, the bohemian nightclub in Paris. It was a meeting place for emerging artists, architects, musicians, intellectuals and even some politicians. A young Pablo Picasso was known to hang out at 4 Gats and had his very first art exhibition in the main room. Barcelona’s beloved Antoni Gaudí was seen here on occasion as well.

We made a dinner reservation for  7:00pm (early for Barcelona) but when we arrived the hostess politely told us that the restaurant does not open until 8:00pm, and she had made a mistake over the phone. She sat us at a small table in the front room and offered us some complimentary Cava. This actually turned out to be for the best, because Harris and I were on a date after all, not need to rush!  So we sat and sipped our pre-dinner Cava and I really enjoyed the vibe of the front room, it was like sitting in a funky little art history book. 

There are two reproductions of Roman Casas paintings that hang on the wall at 4 Gats. One is “Ramon Casas and Pere Romeu on a Tandem” and the other is “Ramon Casas and Pere Romeu in an Automobile”. The original paintings are over at Barcelona’s Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya

 
For Valentine’s Day they had a special six course tasting menu, which we didn’t know about –  but we loved it! It was a lot of seafood, but all of the dishes were so fresh and delicious. By the time the last one arrived, which was steak and mashed potatoes, I was actually pretty full. Then to end the night they brought out the sweetest dessert, which was a bit like an ice cream cheesecake pastry of some sort, it was fantastic, but I was so full from all the courses that I couldn’t even finish it!  

8:00pm is early for dinner Barcelona, but there were about six other tables with couples there and more started to trickle in around 9:00pm and the front room was actually full as we were leaving. The service was great and I even admired the variety of blue plates they used for each course. After our meal they told us to relax and stay awhile, but it was now 9:30, on a Tuesday, our kids were home alone and we needed to get back to make sure they had brushed their teeth.

I can imagine a place like 4 Gats can get a bit touristy at times, but lucky for us we were able to see this place very light on the tourists (February is not exactly high season here). I would highly recommend visiting 4 Gats even if you only stop in for a cappuccino or glass of Cava in the front room.  Although, based on our sampling menu, I’d recommend dinner too! 

Date night at 4 Gats Barcelona
Andrea January 10, 2017 posted by

Is there such a thing as too much travel?

Hello New Year

It’s the beginning of the new year and we just got back from our holiday travels to Chamonix, France and London, England (which I am sure I will write about some time next January, the way this blog goes;)

The kids went back to school this week and I am still getting caught up on all the unpacking and the laundry that goes along with a ski vacation and being gone for two weeks. I did manage to de-Christmas the apartment over the weekend, but our very dried up Christmas tree is still in the corner looking pretty pathetic. Not sure when Harris will get around to hauling that thing down the stairs, but he has mentioned just throwing it over the balcony (more than once), so we’ll see how that goes.

It feels good to come home to Barcelona, but we are getting into the new year about a week late and I’m already feeling a little behind, but of course discussions about our 2017 travel plans have been popping up already! To be honest it’s making my head spin a little. I’m already leaving for Costa Rica on Monday to go pick up our dog Canela to bring her to Barcelona. Don’t get me wrong –  I am SUPER excited to get back to Costa Rica, but bringing Canela back should be interesting, since I have never traveled with a dog before!

2017 Travel Planning

With the new year comes a fresh calendar to fill up with travel plans, and while that’s exciting, it can also be a bit overwhelming. I mean we just got back, put down our suitcases and the laundry isn’t even dry and we have to start thinking about where we are going for ski week (yep, our school has a week off for skiing) Spring break and Summer plans. Not that we HAVE to go anywhere, but when you live abroad, there seems to be a little bit more of an urgency to get out and see all the places that are so close and available to you. As one mom said to me “Since moving here, I feel like I’m a damn travel agent”. And of course like most parents anywhere, we have to take advantage of the days the kids have off from school.

Not only is this planning necessary for us, but we are also coordinating dates with friends and family that are planning to come and visit us in Barcelona this Spring and Summer. We also have a family wedding in July that we would like to possibly attend back in the United States. Not to mention Harris has some business travel too, yep he does manage to still work amongst this traveling circus.

So I pulled out our brand new calendar, got my sharpies and started marking off all the weeks and dates for our 2017 travel plans.

And now I’m sick. This happens to me a lot after we travel, I come home and a day later I get sick, I think it’s by body’s way of saying “okay girl – you’ve done enough running around, now go lay down”. So we just got back from seeing the “English Doctor” – no really, that’s what his business card says in bold letters and yes he’s British. So I am on the couch resting and hoping that I get over these nasty flu like symptoms by the end of the week (because I got another plane to catch).

Which brings me to my POINT. Can you travel too much?

Is there such a thing as too much travel? 

I love to travel, that is obvious and I’m the first to jump at the chance to go anywhere, anytime!
However, I wonder if too much traveling causes you to not fully absorb and appreciate the places and things you just did. I wonder if coming home after a trip and reflecting about your experiences gets totally missed because you are already thinking and planning about the next destination.

Or when does travel start to lose its specialness, because it just becomes so normal. Or when you travel so frequently and trips are so close together maybe one destinations might not get your full attention or one might over shadow another. Or perhaps you did not get to prepare as well for a trip because you didn’t have as much time in between trips?

Maybe this is just a time issue – time is just moving too fast for me. Or maybe I hate that fact that I just had a brand new empty calendar and in 10 minutes that shit got crazy!

Maybe I’m feeling this way because I can’t seem to keep up with writing about all the places we have gone and things we have done. Not that I have to write about any of it, that is just me putting pressure on myself. But I do think that you can get burnt out with just about anything and too much of anything is usually bad. Or maybe this is all just because I can’t keep up with the laundry?

What do you think, can you travel too much?

Is there such a thing as too much travel?
Posts December 12, 2016 posted by

Christmas in Barcelona at Florista Navarro

florista-navarro-barcelona-flowers-christmas-time

Christmas in Barcelona

If you are looking for Christmas in Barcelona then you will want to head to Florista Navarro in E’ixample. I might be a wee bit obsessed with this place. I’ve even thought of asking them for a job, because I just want to spend all day in this flower shop. They wouldn’t have to pay me and I figure I could work on my Spanish, so it could be a real win-win!

There are Christmas Markets in Barcelona, and those are great too, but Florista Navarro is a florist and green house all year round so they have the advantage of already bursting with gorgeous flowers and green plants stacked to the ceiling. So it’s no surprise that with Christmas on its way this shop turns into a seasonal wonderland of holiday decor. They have everything you ned to deck the halls– Christmas ornaments, decorative centerpieces, candles, plush animals, glittery objects and even lighted snowmen and deer!  The shop is literally spilling out onto the street with red flower arrangements, poinsettia plants, mini Christmas trees, Santa gnomes and of course the Caga Tió.

Christmas Trees

Around the corner from their shop they have an entire space filled with Christmas trees. Best of all, this shop will deliver them to your home! They have a variety of sizes and vary in price. I recently helped a friend picked hers out. She bought a pretty large tree and it was $100 and that included next day delivery.

We had actually already bought ours at the La Sagrada Familia Christmas Market, but might come here next year to get the delivery!

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Walking up to Florista Navarro is impressive in and of itself, but wait until you get inside and find your way to the back of the store! This is where you will find all the holiday decor and everything you need to make your home feel festive. I loved that each holiday table display had a color theme (pinks, purples, blues, golds, white and red). There are the cutest woodland creatures – sparkly deer, little squirrels, and the most adorable penguins.

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We may not have yards in the city center of Barcelona but some of these holiday light up decorations would look great on any balcony or terrace!

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Florista Navarro is absolutely one of my favorite places I have discovered in Barcelona so far! When I am out and about running errands or meeting a friend for coffee near by I can’t help but stroll past. Florista Navarro is on Carrer de Valencia and Carrer del Bruc – just one block down from Mercato de Conception, which is a great market and even sells many items from Florista Navarro right out in front!

Christmas in Barcelona at Florista Navarro
Posts December 7, 2016 posted by

Caga Tió the pooping log!

caga-tio-christmas-log-bon-nadal-barcelona-christmas-traditions-spain-wll
Caga Tió

Forget your Elf on the Shelf we have a Caga Tió the pooping log!

That’s right, while Americans might have their magical Elf on the Shelf, here in Barcelona they have Caga Tió, the pooping log.  The traditional name for this is actually “Tió De Nadal” – which translates to Christmas Log. However, the more popular and fun name is Caga (shit) Tió (Log). Some people (like me) mistake this for “shitting uncle” because tió is uncle in Spanish.

Catalan is not Spanish. Feliz Navidad may be Merry Christmas in Spanish but in Catalan it’s Bon Nadal.

On December 8th (the date of the immaculate conception) families put out their caga tió and the children are told to take care of it by “feeding” it each night and to keep it warm, so they put a blanket over it. Then on Christmas Day the children are told to go in another room to pray, when they come back into the room they sing the caga tió song and while beating the log with a stick. Then like magic, under the blanket they find presents. The traditional version of this is that the log is suppose to only leave candy, nuts and dried fruit, but like any great tradition comes great marketing.

This is one version of the Caga Tió song.

“Caga tió,
caga torró,
avellanes i mató,
si no cagues bé
et daré un cop de bastó.
caga tió!”
shit, log,
shit nougats (turrón),
hazelnuts and mató cheese,
if you don’t shit well,
I’ll hit you with a stick,
shit, log!

caga-tio-pooping-log-barcelona-catalan-christmas-traditions

Clearly we HAD to have one, and since we somehow lost our Elf on the Shelf this is a great replacement! Especially since I don’t have to move the damn log every night.

Do you know of any other odd Holiday traditions around the world?

Caga Tió the pooping log!
Posts July 15, 2016 posted by

Leaving Costa Rica

La Paz Community School Costa Rica morning WLL
A  week ago I sat and watched my kids walk over the bridge, under the Guanacaste tree at La Paz Community School for the last time. Not only did I watch my kids, but I watched many kids walk onto this incredible campus in the middle of Costa Rica. It was the last day of school and for Hudson and McKenna it was the last day of school not just at La Paz but in Costa Rica. I tried to keep it together, but as I swatted flies from my face, tears started to roll down my cheeks.

Our time in Costa Rica has come to an end and one of the main reasons we had such an exceptional experience is because of La Paz Community School. There is a solid foundation of passion and purpose at La Paz. A clear vision, a vision that Harris and I both responded to right away and the reason we had to be apart of it. It’s not just what the school stands for and believes in, but the type of people that it attracts. Passionate, giving, supportive, caring, smart, friendly people. Families that see the world just as special as we do and people filled with a real zest for life.

Harris and I stayed for the morning meeting with a group of other parents that are also leaving Costa Rica, we sat to soak up every last ounce of La Paz energy that we could. We sat and listened to kids stand up one after the other and express their gratitude to their teachers and other students that made their year special. A few parents and teachers shared some beautiful words of gratitude as well. I could not stand to share anything because I would have been a total mess. I was a mess. But, I need the La Paz Community and everyone who we have met in Costa Rica to know just how much they mean to me. Without being too over dramatic.

So, I created this video as a keepsake for our family, but really my hope was to capture what living in Costa Rica FEELS like, because even though I cannot put it into words – I have the pictures! 😉

 

After three years of living in Costa Rica we are ready to move on, but we’re taking a piece of all of you with us – so THANK YOU.

Leaving Costa Rica
Costa Rica May 17, 2016 posted by

Sailing with Serendipity Charters

Serendipity Charters Wanderlust Living Andrea and Kids
A few weeks ago, my husband and kids took me on a wonderful sunset sailing trip for Mother’s Day. Okay let me rephrase that – I booked a sunset sailing tour for me and my family on Mother’s Day. Because let’s face it, if you want something special to happen on Mother’s Day sometimes you have to do it yourself.

Serendipity Charters offers private and semi-private sailing tours out of Playa Flamingo, Costa Rica and when I saw the Mother’s Day special that Serendipity Charters was promoting online, I booked it!
We hadn’t been out on a boat in a long time; we usually save these trips for when friends or family come to visit. It’s a fun way to spend the day with friends or a large group of people.

Serendipity is a great boat for people that want a more private and relaxed boating experience. They take private groups of up to 20, but will only do 13 for their semi private tours. There are larger boats in the area that take out 40-50 people that can feel more like a party boat and can get a bit crowded. We were on the boat with only 8 other people, so it felt more personal and enjoyable.

Serenipity Charters Hudson in Boat Costa Rica Sailing Wanderlust Living

We happen to be friends with the owners of Serendipity Charters. Our son Hudson goes to school with their son and they are very good friends. Captain Brad and Geneva sailed Serendipity down to Costa Rica from the US Virgin Islands and have been running their successful Costa Rica sailing business for four years. That is one of the biggest benefits of living in a small expat community; you get to know everyone – especially if they have a business in town. Naturally, we love to support our friends and all the local entrepreneurs. They are a great example of a family that went against the norm and set out to create a beautiful life they love.

Serendipity Charters Hudson Snorkeling

Our journey included sailing over to a small hidden beach to put down the anchor close enough so that we could swim over to the small private beach. The crew provides all equipment for snorkeling and fishing as well as lunch, snacks, fresh fruit and all drinks (beer, wine, cocktails, soda, juice). We had the most delicious chicken tacos for lunch and later they brought out champagne at sunset as part of the Mother’s Day special.

Serendipity Charters Hudson Jumping Costa Rica Sailing

Serendipity Charters Mckenna Jumping Sailing Costa Rica Wanderlust Living
After swimming and having some lunch, the crew pulled up anchor and we started to make our way back to shore while watching the gorgeous sunset. Our family was huddled on the front part of the boat and of course I was trying to take photos of both the the kids and the sunset, and as usual, everyone messed with me. It clearly didn’t matter that it was Mother’s Day, but I have to admit – this was probably my favorite part of the day. Watching my kids fooling around and having fun together, Mother’s Day made! Even if it was mostly at my expense.

Serendipity Mothers Day Sunset Sailing Tour

Mckenna Serendipity Costa Rica Sailing

Serenipity Charters Sailing in Costa Rica Playa Flamingo

Serendipity Charters Costa Rica Sailing Private adn Semi Private Tours
Serendipity Charters offers two half day tours. The morning charters depart at 8:30am – 12:45pm; the afternoon sunset cruises are from 1:30pm-5:45pm (or after sunset. They also offer full day charters that depart at 11:00am and return at 5:45pm or after sunset. For more information or to book your tour contact Geneva at Serendipity Charters.

photo on boat

 

 

 

 

 

Meet Captain Brad and Geneva –  read their story!

Sailing with Serendipity Charters
Posts May 2, 2016 posted by

Playa Ancon, Trinidad Cuba

Playa Ancon Trinidad Cuba Travel Beaches Wanderlust Living small
If you’re traveling to Cuba and are going to be making your way down to Trinidad, I highly recommend taking a day trip out to Playa Ancon. This breathtaking peninsula is only 7 miles from the city center of Trinidad and well worth the $8 cab ride.

We actually stayed on Playa Ancon at Club Amigo Costasur Hotel. We decided to stay outside of Trinidad at the beach because we have children, and thought they would appreciate some beach time in between walking the streets of Havana and then Trinidad. Even if you don’t have children, staying at the beach is an excellent option.

Playa Ancon Trinidad Cuba Lagoon pool Club Amigo Costasur Hotel

Playa Ancon Club Amigo Costasur Hotel Trinidad Cuba
Club Amigo Costasur hotel is a 3-star all inclusive hotel that was pretty basic and very dated, but it’s Cuba – nothing here is very fancy. There are only a few hotel options on Playa Ancon and we thought this one looked like the best option. We booked one of the beach view suites and we were literally steps to the beach with a gorgeous view. We had to book two suites because they only allow three people to a room in Cuba. (yes, it’s frustrating but you have to let it go.)

The suite had two rooms, a sitting room with a couch, chair and a TV and the other room had the two double beds. The double beds were comparable to an American full size bed. The room furnishings were very basic and the bathrooms were very small but it was indeed clean. Our suite came with two hours of free internet which was pretty much a joke, it was dial-up and Harris couldn’t even get into his email because they didn’t have the latest version of Internet Explorer installed.

*Please do not travel to Cuba if you cannot truly unplug and laugh at some of the modern conveniences they are lacking.

Club Amigo Costa Sur Playa Ancon Hoel Trinidad CubaClub Amigo Costa Sur Hotel Internet
Club Amigo CostaSur Hoel Pool Trinidad Cub Hotels

The hotel has a large pool, chess game, pool tables and two bars, one in the lobby area and one out by the pool. All the Rum you can possibly drink. There is a small snack bar by the pool that makes pizza, burgers and french fries in the afternoon. They did have some entertainment around the pool at night, but we missed these. There was a lady selling some clothing around the pool and I ended up buying a linen crocheted cover up for $10. I wear that cover up in Costa Rica and get complimented every time I wear it. I wish I could buy more of them!

Club Amigo Costasur Hotel Food Wanderlust Living
The food here is not great, but food in Cuba is not the greatest overall. Club Amigo’s buffet had fresh vegetables for making a salad, pasta salads, potato salads, rice and beans and a variety of meats and cheeses. My daughter loves salad and pasta so she ate well, but my son pretty much ate french fries and bread and butter for two days. Eating here one day was fine but be sure to head into Trinidad for the rest of your meals.

Also, while we were staying here two large busses filled with Russian tourists came in. So it is important to get to the food as soon as the restaurant opens, to avoid long lines and while it was still fresh and not picked over. If you show up later in the night, it does not look appetizing.

Playa Ancon Club Amigo Hotel Exploring the Grounds
There are not a whole lot of beach activities, but we did manage to find the guy that was renting snorkel equipment!

Playa Ancon Trinidad Cuba Wanderlust Living Family Travel SnorkelingPlaya Ancon Trinidad Cuba Wanderlust Living Family Travel Kids
Playa Ancon Trinidad Cuba Travel Beaches Snorkeling Wanderlust Living
Trinidad Cuba Playa Ancon Wanderlust Living Andrea and Kids
Playa Ancon Trinidad Cuba Hotels Beaches Wanderlust Living Kids

My husband and I debated over going to Trinidad or going to the popular beach area of Varadero, but we were so glad we made our way to Trinidad. We were able to explore Trinidad and still spend some time relaxing at the beach. Playa Ancon wasn’t filled with tourists, it seemed to be more of a locals, and I rather skip the crowds and go where the locals go.

*If you are traveling to Cuba with kids, make sure to bring some cards, small games, books and other things to keep them busy back in the hotel room. Internet is not always available and as nice as it was to go off the grid and get the kids off their electronic devices, you don’t want to kill each other.

Playa Ancon, Trinidad Cuba
Family Travel April 9, 2016 posted by

Los Angeles still feels like home

Los Angeles Wanderlust Living

No matter where we may roam, Los Angeles still feels like home.

Since we moved from Los Angeles to Costa Rica almost three years ago, we definitely feel like we’ve made a home in Costa Rica, but the minute we landed in Los Angeles it felt like we were really HOME. There is something about Los Angeles that feels very comfortable and familiar. Maybe it’s because that’s where Harris and I met, got married, and bought our first house. I guess it’s where our story began so we will always be connected and drawn to it. Neither one of us is from Los Angeles originally, and we don’t have any family that lives there, but we have a lot of great friends and thousands of crazy stories and cherished memories in that city.

When in Los Angeles I went running and ran past my old building where I lived before Harris & kids, and it brought back so many memories. I moved to Los Angeles without knowing a single person. It was probably the biggest and scariest decision I’ve ever made, and one that ultimately changed the direction of my life forever. This is probably why LA will always have a place in my heart. Even if the traffic still sucks.

The main reason we were in Los Angeles was to apply for our non working Visa’s so we can move to Spain. We had to collect some last minute paperwork, get an FBI background check and all of us had to get seen by a doctor, to literally give us a clean bill of health. The Visa process is no joke and took weeks of planning and preparing, which I will post about in another time in complete detail – to help anyone else that wants to apply for a Visa. We can give you a step by step guide!  Warning – it is not for the weak.

Santa Monica Beach Los Angeles Wanderlust Living

Even though we were there on official move to Spain business – we were able to see so many friends and have some fun with the kids too. They were on Spring break after all. We stayed in Hollywood and the cutest AirBnB apartment that was tastefully themed as Alice in Wonderland, cruised Hollywood boulevard, spent an entire day at the beach in Santa Monica, ate incredible food, saw a movie, went to a bookstore, went bowling (things they don’t get to do very often in Costa Rica) and did another escape/maze room.

This was the second time we did one of these escape rooms and it is by far the favorite thing for the kids to do! Have you heard of Escape Rooms? { here are two companies in Los Angeles that we have done Maze Rooms  / Logiquit }

While running around all over Los Angeles I had the feeling that at some point we’ll probably end up moving back. And not just because McKenna declared that “When she’s an adult she’s moving to LA.” I just still love all the energy and there is so much to see and do, not just in the Los Angeles area but all of California! However, we are still very much in operation move to Spain, and excited to go explore Europe for a couple years. Then we shall see where go after that…

We definitely feel more like citizens of the world and so it’s hard to say where home is, but the minute we landed in Costa Rica I was happy to be…home.

Costa Rica is home Wanderlust Living

 

Los Angeles still feels like home
Andrea March 24, 2016 posted by

My mom, selling Savvy Sassy Moms and moving to Spain

Alone on the Beach

I’ve tried to write a blog post about what is happening in my life for days /weeks now. I have failed miserably.

Every time I’ve sat down to write something I’ve either stared at the screen for what seems like hours or ended up in tears. Tears of frustration mostly, and I think I finally realized why I was so stuck – I was trying to compartmentalize all four major things that are happening right now. I’ve tried to write about each one separately, to give them their own weight in value, which they all completely deserve, but they’re all very much connected and causing a tangled web of emotion.

My mom almost died

I was going to be 38 and have no parents. I was going to have to stand at my mom’s funeral looking out to the same faces I stood in front of 4 years ago when my dad died. I could see this scene all over again, it was clear as day.

“This can’t be happening again” spun around in my head like a broken record.

After a terrifying health scare that left my mom in a coma with a 50/50 chance of surviving in January, you could say that 2016 came rushing in like a freight train. This situation was all too familiar and eerily similar to what happened when I got the call that my dad had been in a motorcycle accident.

I couldn’t see the difference here and I knew exactly how this ended. Luckily, there was a big difference this time, there was hope. There was a chance that my mom would recover, with my dad there was no hope.

I can only assume that someone pulled out the rule book and said “Oh wait…two tragic and unexpected deaths cannot happen to the same girl –  let’s bring her Mom back.”

I do not want to downplay the impact that this has had and is still having on me – there are things that will haunt me forever, but my mom survived and is at home doing very well.

I am drained.


I just sold Savvy Sassy Moms

That’s right. A blog that I started eight years ago from a small desk in my laundry room just SOLD. In the midst of dealing with my mom almost dying, I had a moment of absolute clarity driving home from the hospital one night.  I’ve gone back and forth with wanting to sell Savvy Sassy Moms for two years now. The fire was already burning, I just finally had the courage to throw a little gasoline on the damn fire.

I’ve changed, I’ve evolved and I want more.

I am wildly different from when I started Savvy Sassy Moms eight years ago and I know that I’ve got something bigger and better brewing inside of me. When every fiber of your being is telling you that something needs to change and you are ready for something else, sometimes you just have to say fuck it, close your eyes and jump!

What am I going to do now? Nothing. I just bought myself some time to think about that.

Don’t worry, I have plenty of ideas, dreams and schemes….but I’m signing a one year “Lady of Leisure” contract which states I cannot start another business for a year…

I am free.

We’re moving to Spain

When we got back from spending the holidays in the States, we had a clear focus for 2016 – move to Spain! This obviously took an immediate backseat when my moms health was critical, and for a week or two this was possibly off the table all together. Then it was going to just be postponed a little bit, maybe we would wait six months or another year.

Do we still go? Do we stay in Costa Rica? Do we move to Minnesota? Maybe we move to New York, Colorado or back to Los Angeles…? Gah.

It’s funny how when something is about to be taken away from you – you realize how badly you want it.

The urgency to figure this out now had to be done because applying for schools and starting our Visa paperwork has to be  strategically planned and  scheduled,  which is enough to make anyone crazy –  let alone someone under an overwhelming amount of emotional stress.

We decided that moving forward with our plans to move to Spain was still the best decision for our family and so we’d hustle and get there by August so the kids could start school on time. We could still do this!

“The adventure continues”, a few people have said to us, and some people might be wondering when we’ll return home to the States, but Harris and I have designed a life that we love. This is not some wild or temporary adventure –  it’s just our awesome life.

I am excited.

We’re leaving Costa Rica

Moving to Spain means we are leaving Costa Rica in five months and it is weighing heavy on my heart. In three short years we have built a life here, surrounded by like-minded people that see the world and life as special as we do. This experience has exceeded my expectations and without a doubt has changed our family for the better.

Leaving Costa Rica is going to be rough and I am bracing myself for the emotional goodbyes. I honestly can’t even write about it right now.

I am sad.

The last three months have been filled with some of the most difficult days of my life, and this was just the cliff notes people! However, I am not a person who fades. You throw challenging circumstances my way, I don’t sit on the couch and cry into a pint of ice cream. I actually do the complete opposite – I get fired up, and I get moving.

I don’t compete with anyone but myself and if I’m getting my ass kicked, I fight back. Nothing is going to take away my happiness, my hard work, my determination, or my joy. If the Universe wants to pick a fight with me again, you can bet that I’ll STILL come out better on the other side.

 

My mom, selling Savvy Sassy Moms and moving to Spain
Posts November 25, 2014 posted by

Panama City with Kids

Panama City Wanderlust Living
Panama City, Panama

A few weeks ago we needed to make a run for the border to get our passports stamped, so we flew to Panama City for a long weekend with close friends of ours, the Clemons, another expat family living in Costa Rica. Many people visit Panama City to see the famous Panama Canal or head to Bocas del Torro, a popular beach destination on the Caribbean. However, when you live at the beach it’s nice to get away from the coconuts and sand to spend some time in a real city. You know, with paved streets, traffic lights and restaurants with four walls.

TRYP Panama Hotel Panama City Wanderlust Living

Panama City with Kids

Panama City completely surprised me, first by it’s massive and pristine city skyline. We stayed at the TRYP by Wyndam Panama Centro Hotel, which has a rooftop pool and an excellent view of the city. Jumping from the jacuzzi into the pool was not allowed, (they won’t be using this for marketing purposes) but his might just be my favorite picture from the entire trip. Especially with Harris running in the shot for a photo bomb. The TRYP Panama Hotel has another location at the Allbrook Mall, so if you are in Panama City to do a lot of shopping (which is why many people  go to Panama City) this might be another option for you and your family to stay.

Allbrook Mall Panama City with Kids WanderLust Living

The Allbrook Mall

The Allbrook Mall is where we caught the Panama City Aqua Bus and then after the bus tour we spent an afternoon cruising the mall. Our kids do not go to a mall or eat at a food court very often, so this was actually something the kids were excited to do! The food court has an overwhelming number of options and even has some rides and a few unique activities for the kids. We paid to put our kids in these giant hamster like balls that float on water, watching them try to stand up and move their ball was hysterical, and the best $4.00 we’ve ever spent.

Frank Gehry Bio Museo Panama City Wanderlust Living Frank Gehry Bio Museo Panama City

Panama City Museuo

Frank Gehry Bio Museum

I was excited to check out the brand new Frank Gehry Bio Museo, which just opened October 2nd, 2014, it’s so new we could smell the fresh paint. This is a great museum to learn about the history of Panama and it’s diverse eco system. Included in your admission you are given a phone like device for a self guided tour and it took us about two hours to go through the entire museum. The location of the museum is also worth the price of admission, it sits right on the peninsula and on one side you can get a great view of the entire Panama City skyline and on the other you can see the very beginning of where the boats make their way to enter the Panama Canal. This is also a popular area for running and jogging too.

The Bio Museo is located right on the Amador Causeway. Hours & Admission

Panama Hats Panama City Wanderlust Living

Buy a  Panama Hat

From the moment we arrived in the Casco Antiguo area I was on the hunt for a Panama hat. Lucky for us we immediately bumped into this friendly Panama hat salesman right on the street. Hudson noticed his table had wheels, which meant he was a hat salesman on the move! We also stumbled into a few other shops scattered in and around the narrow streets of Casco Antiguo where you can find even more Panama hats, beautiful hand woven baskets and bowls among other Panama gifts and souvenirs.

Panama City Style – Did you know Panama hats are actually handmade in Equador?

Panama City Shopping Hand Woven Baskets and Bowls
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Casco Viejo (Casco Antiguo)

The Museo de Panama (Panama Canal Museum) is also located in Casco Viejo as well as many restaurants, bars and hotels. We went to Las Clemintinas for dinner, not exactly uber kid friendly but we dressed them up and didn’t cause to much of a scene. If you are traveling without kids go here for a nice dinner, cocktails and listen to the live music. It was a fabulous little bistro, and probably even better sans kids.  Las Clenentinas is also a small boutique hotel and right next to The Canal House.

I wanted to check out Mojitos sin Mojitos but we treated our kids to Granclement gourmet ice cream and sorbet instead. The sacrifices you make when traveling with kids.

Granclement Ice Cream Casco Viejo Panama City
Casco Antiguo Panama City Ice Cream

Casco Antiguo Panama City Wanderlust Living Family Travel

Casco Viejo Panama City Panama Wanderlust Living
We spent a lot of time in Casco Viejo, for a few selfish reasons. I absolutely love walking around old historic districts taking pictures and I had to check out The American Trade Hotel, sure my kids are not always thrilled with the things Mom wants to see and do, but I believe that traveling with kids doesn’t have to be all about the kids 24/7.

The American Trade Hotel Panama City Wanderlust Living Travel
The American Trade Hotel

The American Trade Hotel is apart of the Ace Hotel family and is a stylish gem in the heart of Casco Viejo. This was definitely something only I wanted to see, but my family and friends traveling with me came along for the ride. We made a reservation for Sunday brunch and I was so glad we did. Brunch was lovely and the food was excellent definitely worth the visit!  Cafe Unido is also located inside the hotel, so you can just pop in for a cup of coffee or espresso and a pastry too. Unido is the local Panamaian coffee, it’s fantastic and I even bought a bag to take home.

The American Trade hotel brings a fresh modern style to this historic area, with touches of cultural flare. I loved the blue floor tiles throughout the property, which are actually tiles from Nicaragua. When the manager gave me a tour she told me that the tiles on the walls leading up from a staircase were photographs of graffiti on the walls of the building before it was renovated.

Plaza HErrera Panama City Casco Antiguo

Plaza Herrera is a beautiful square just outside The American Trade Hotel and a perfect place to people watch. My husband actually distracted all the kids in this park while I spent time taking a tour of the hotel.  There is a statue of General Tomas Herrara but I actually found this tree to be even more beautiful.

From Plaza Herrera and the American Trade Hotel you can easily walk over to the Cinta Costera, the 189 million dollar project that was completed in 2009 that connects the new city with the old. The walk will give you a great view of the city and this is where you will find Avienda Balboa.

Avienda Balboa Panama City Wanderlust LivingAvienda Balboa Panama City Family Travel Wanderlust Living
Balboa Avienda

If you do one thing in Panama City (besides the Canal), stroll down Balboa Avienda. This is a recently build park and walkway that sits right on the bay and has great views of the city skyline and Casco Viejo from across the way. It is a popular spot for jogging, walking and has some food and beverage vendors. There is a park for kids and you can rent bikes. However, we never did find the place to rent the bikes, but we saw plenty of them.

This is also where the popular Mercado de Pescado is located and you MUST buy a $1.25 cup of Ceviche. It’s fresh, delicious and cheap. They also sell all different flavors of Mojitos and the kids got shaved ice with condensed milk for only $.75

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Panama City might not be on most people’s bucket list or a top family vacation hot spot, but if you find yourself in Panama City there is more to do than you might think!  It’s a city that is growing fast and is the hub of business in Central America. With the development of trendy areas like Casco Viejo and the new Bio Museum you’ll appreciate what this modern city has to offer

We did not do the Panama Canal tour because we wanted to spend more of our time exploring the city then a 5 hour tour with kids, maybe next time. If you happen to be living in Central America or South America, Panama City is a great place to visit and get a little city back in your life!

Have you been to Panama City?  What was your favorite things to do and see?

 

Panama City with Kids