Meet Isabel | The Sunny Side of This

30 June 2016

You may have seen Isabel around the interwebs before. An expat in Slovenia, she has been sharing her adventures on The Sunny Side of This ever since she made the big move across the pond. From Mexico to Slovenia, Isabel shares the best travel bits from around the globe. She even co-hosts Wanderful Wednesday, a weekly link up for all things travel. I decided it was time to get to know Isabel a little better. 

Tell us about The Sunny Side of This! 
The Sunny Side of This is a blog I started as a way to document my journey to Slovenia, The Sunny Side of the Alps. My boyfriend (now husband), who is Slovenian, proposed after a couple of years of being in a long distance relationship. At the beginning, I wrote about more wedding/LDR things and as I started to settle into life in Slovenia I was desperate to explore this beautiful country that now I call home.  At the same time, I started getting emails of people asking me about travel in Slovenia or Mexico and alas, my "serious" blogging began. Now The Sunny Side of This is a travel/expat blog about all my adventures (and mis-adventures) of my life in Slovenia and abroad.

What is your hometown Hermosillo, Mexico like?
The polar opposite of Slovenia, actually. It is the capital of Sonora, a state part of the Sonora-Arizona desert. So yes, it is full of cacti and desert life! The coolest perk is that it has a beach less than 100km away (that is still part of our city), that has warm water all year round (Thank you, Gulf of California!). The weather is pretty extreme and it is hot mostly all year, but the people are the nicest. Even though it is a "capital" (the 16th biggest in Mexico to be exact with over 800k inhabitants), you still get to have a simple kind of like where you know everybody and you always feel at home.

You are now living in Slovenia. How did you end up moving to Europe?
I fell in love with a Slovenian :) I lived in Europe before for my exchange semester, and I sore that I would never fall in love with a foreigner, but well.. here I am. Now I am finishing up my masters and have a job at an online business publication, things really went according to plan and better! I'm really happy I took the leap and followed my heart. 

Where in Slovenia would you recommend for a first time traveler? 
I would actually recommend people to stay for a week in Slovenia. People usually spend half a day in Ljubljana after being in Bled. Now, don't get me wrong, Bled IS a fairytale and Ljubljana is a cozy and beautiful European capital. But there is so much more to Slovenia that will leave you breathless. I would say visit Logarska Dolina, and the Soca Valley. Those places are like something out of a movie set. 

What is the biggest cultural barrier you’ve come across since living in Slovenia?
Well people are much quieter and reserved here than in Mexico. They are very warm and welcoming though but I'm naturally talkative and giggly person, so often hard for me to understand if they are just being polite when they are being serious or if they just don't like me. It is usually that they are just being polite (I hope!).

If you could do one holiday destination over again (good or bad), what would it be and why?
I don't know if it is good or bad, but I wish I would've traveled within Mexico more. I mean it is a huge country anyway, it is not like I would've been able to explore the whole place. But I would've liked to go to Oaxaca and La Huesteca Potosina before I moved to Europe. I will make it work somehow though, those places are on TOP of my bucket list. 



Howth Cliffside Walk | Ireland

23 June 2016

I never considered myself an 'outdoors' kind of girl growing up. Living in Texas, summers were brutally hot and I would spend my time soaking up any sort of air-conditioning I could find. It wasn't until I was an adult, after my move to England, that I really discovered my love for the outdoors.

Ireland is known for is rolling hills and stunning coastline. During my visit to Dublin I knew I had to get out to some of this natural beauty. As I had decided not to rent a car (I have a major fear of getting behind the wheel in countries that drive on the opposite side of the road), my choices were limited. I scoured Pinterest for the perfect hike, feeling slightly discouraged as almost all required some sort of drive. Finally, I came across this tiny seaside town less than 20 minutes outside Dublin's city centre. With a quick train ride and I had arrived in the beautiful town of Howth. 

Irish words can be tricky sometimes. I was explaining to my taxi driver the night before the hike where I were planning on going.

Me "Howth. H-O-W-T-H." 
Taxi Driver "Oh, you mean Hoath!"
Me "Hoath? No, we're going to Howth!"
Taxi Diver "You Americans an your accents" *proceeds to tell stories of other accents that he finds hilarious*

Long story short, Howth is pronounced HOATH and the Irish will laugh at you if you think it is any other way. 

The town of Howth is located on a peninsula, meaning any which way you walk will be filled with scenic views. I opted for the Cliffside Walk to the lighthouse. The weather was beautiful and I found myself peeling off layers as I trekked on. There are several trails you can follow, but my total hike lasted a short two hours. 

Where are some of your favorite places to hike?

Meet Caitlin | Southern Exhilaration

20 June 2016

I am so pleased to introduce y'all to the wonderful Caitlin from Southern Exhilaration! Another Southern Belle, Caitlin calls Atlanta home. Even though she works in PR, she's able to find time to travel the world (and take some amazing photos while doing it)! She's all about spreading that Southern charm, so without further ado lets get to know her!

Tell us about Southern Exhilaration!
Southern Exhilaration, in a sense, is all about leaving a little southern charm wherever you go. I not only share the charms of southern experiences, but also my travels throughout the United States and around the world. So, pull up a chair, grab a glass of sweet tea (or your favorite beverage), head on over to my little corner of the Internet and stay awhile.

What is your hometown, Atlanta like?
The Atlanta area has been my home for 10 years, off an on. It’s a diverse city. You can experience a mix from the pre-Antebellum charm of Roswell to skyscrapers of downtown, and everything in between. The area offers a wide range of walking and biking trails and outdoor areas to explore. The city is full of trees, parks, culture, sports, museums, universities, food festivals, art shows and music galore. Visitors complain about the traffic, but I love that every weekend there is something going on of interest. There is so much to see and do - the list is endless when it comes to Atlanta and its surrounding areas.

You have said that travel is the only thing that makes your richer. In what ways do you make travel a priority in your life?
Making travel a priority can be difficult when you work a full-time job. At the beginning of every year, I schedule time to go on trips and cross items off my bucket list. Some years it’s a full-week of vacation to a foreign land, like Romania, and then some years it’s a long weekend to a new city, like Philadelphia, New York or Austin. In addition to purposely setting aside time, I also set a travel budget for the year to make sure I don’t go too crazy and not have the money to pay those pesky bills. Busy lives get in the way, so planning is essential to prioritizing travel.

What is one of your favorite destinations in the South you believe deserves more credit?
This is a hard question. The South has so many charming places. I am pleased to see one of my favorite places experiencing a recent resurgence of interest. Birmingham, Alabama offers a thriving music and restaurant scene as well as sports, art, history, botanical gardens, and is successfully inserting charm into many long-neglected areas, like Railroad Park.

What is the biggest travel advice you’d offer to people who also work full time jobs?
The best advice I can offer is to make travel a priority. Set a date with yourself and keep it. You don’t have to use all of your vacation time or extra income going on extravagant trips. But, definitely make sure you set aside the time to go somewhere new, even if it is a weekend trip to another part of your state. If you don’t like traveling alone, look into some of the group travel opportunities (I have liked traveling with National Geographic) or take a friend.

If you could pick one holiday destination to do over again (good or bad), what would it be and why?
If I could pick one holiday destination, it would have to be the 10-days I spent in Europe with my cousin. We crossed three countries off my list, and I just loved getting the extra time with him. It was an absolute dream, and I loved every minute of it! I think my favorite part of the whole trip was climbing to the top of Notre Dame for the sunset.



An Hour in Cork | Ireland

15 June 2016

There are a few things you may have missed this past week. For starters, this little blog of mine turned three! How amazing is that? I also broke my foot AND sprained my ankle while in Austin. Not so amazing. Since I am temporarily glued to the couch until my foot heals I thought it was time to share with you my amazing hour in Cork City a few weeks back.

After spending an afternoon at Blarney Castle, our tour made one last stop before heading back to Dublin. We only had an hour to explore Cork City so I guide dropped us off on what he described as the the "most interesting street in all of Cork". I was slightly under impressed. While St. Patrick's Street was busy, to us it was just another shopping district. We hadn't come to Ireland to shop at M&S or Debenhams! We decided to wander a bit, peeking down each side street as we passed. Our time limit restricted us from venturing too far, but we quickly stumbled across a quaint Irish market that we fell in love with. Ironically, it was called the English Market. 

The English Market traces its beginnings to 1788. It was named English in order to distinguish itself from the Irish Market just down the road. Over the years it was largely a market for the wealthy before eventually transforming into a working class market in the early 20th century. In 1980, the market was all but destroyed in a fire. It was rebuilt and transformed into the market we now see today. Stalls are lease in 21 year contracts, and offer a variety of produce from olives to cheese and even cake. It is considered one of the oldest government run markets in the world and is now a popular tourist destination for Cork. 

I pick out my birthday pie. Can you tell I love my food?

I would love to return to Cork and visit for more than 60 minutes. From what I could tell, the city is full of hidden treasures that are waiting to be explored!


Blarney Castle and Gardens | County Cork, Ireland

09 June 2016

Ireland has an abundance of beautiful castles. Some are charming, some menacing. All of them, however, posses unique histories essential to the creation of Ireland as we know it today.

Our Paddywagon Tour reached its main destination some four hours after departing Dublin. Exhausted from the long journey, we found ourselves stretching our legs as we unloaded the bus in beautiful County Cork. The sun was shining on the town of Blarney and we began our stroll to Blarney Castle.

Blarney Castle and Gardens sprawls across some 60 beautiful acres.The original castle no longer stands, however the structure you see today was built in 1446. The castle gets its fame from a single stone constructed into the wall of the tower called Blarney Stone. Said to posses magical powers, Blarney Stone will provide a person the "gift of the gab" after a single kiss. 

Stretched by the time limit of our tour, I decided to forgo the hour long wait to kiss Blarney Stone. Who needs the gift of the gab anyway? Instead, I decided to explore Blarney's vast gardens and wildlife. 

The fully bloomed flowers guided our path to magical waterfalls, enchanting trees, and stone circles. The entire grounds are so vast one can easily spend an entire day exploring and never get bored.  

Although we only spent a short two hours at Blarney, our trip was well spent. Blarney Castle is open year round, seven days a week.