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Lifestyle Travel

Reality Czech: International Life Transitions

Prague, praha, prag, czech, czech republic, wenceslas square, travel

Maybe I was naive to think that moving to a new country would be simple. Logistically, it’s a complex and time-consuming process. The visa process alone took around 4 months to complete, and that was 4 months of living in the unknown, where I was not able to set a move date or answer the question that I received countless times per day, “when is the big move?!” However, the unexpected and more challenging part about moving my life abroad was a shift in mindset that I have not experienced before, at least not to this degree.

To back up a bit, I’m writing this post from my new home in Prague. Well, I’m writing this on my phone in a Starbucks in Wenceslas Square because I had a sudden  wave of inspiration come over me as I was out running errands and I didn’t want to lose that creative momentum. Surprisingly, my first week living in Prague has been the most stable week I’ve had in the past 2 months. A normal person would be at home preparing to move internationally, but not me, that would be too easy. My travel schedule the last two months has consisted of: Philly, back to Seattle, LA, back to Seattle, LA again, back to Seattle, Prague, back to Seattle, Portland, back to Seattle, and now finally Prague.

With all of this external chaos and uncertainty, I was challenged to find and create internal stability, or that’s what I will call it. It has been a true test in controlling what can be controlled and allowing everything else to just be.

One of the most productive outlets for me has been Flywheel. In my last post, I wrote about attending boutique spin classes in LA, but little did I know I would carry this obsession with me back to Seattle. I started going to classes at my local Flywheel studio and soon enough found myself planning my days around my favorite instructors, 5-7 times each week. Spin class has been a way for me to tangibly measure my personal growth, both physically and mentally. Believe it or not, spin class isn’t only good for intense cardio, it’s also one of the most therapeutic and motivational activities, where I spend 45-minutes each day in a state of Wordlessness, as Martha Beck would call it. I will often enter the studio with a stress-clouded mind and will leave with a clear path to navigate the challenges in front of me. Not only do I gain mental rejuvenation, but I leave with a confidence and feeling of being able to conquer the world, or at least the world around me.

[Side note: I just returned from my first Czech spin class, and although I didn’t understand a single world, the energy is universal. Plus, they played Kanye and that’s all I really need to be happy.]

The other unexpected side effect of going through this process was the way that I developed and built existing and new relationships. Of course I leaned heavily on my friends for support, and shout out to all of them for still being friends with me, because each and every one of them has received a frantic text or two about not knowing what I’m doing with my life and each and every one of them has talked me off that ledge. There was another phenomena that occurred where, without realizing it, I let down filters and walls which has allowed me to connect quickly on heightened levels with new people. I still have trouble explaining this one but I think there was a subconscious “you are leaving, so you have nothing to lose” switch that went off , and as a result I’ve made some wonderful new friends.

There's nothing like wandering the streets in an unknown city 😊

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I left Seattle feeling ecstatic to take on this new adventure and truly enjoy every moment, in the moment. I’m humbled to have the opportunity to live in Europe and in a new city, and I hope I don’t lose sight of that feeling. Traveling to Europe became normalized over the past few months and I almost took it for granted, but now that I’m here and surrounded by the beauty in all of the details, I am feeling inspired and I’m ready to learn and explore. I don’t know how I’m going to document this adventure yet, but a life update felt like the right start. 🙂

Lifestyle Travel

AuthentiCITY of Angels

Hollywood, la, los angeles, travel, capitol records, travel blog, lifestyle blog

Los Angeles, to me, is the city of authenticity. I know many people would disagree and have an opinion that’s far on the opposite end of the realism spectrum, but my perspective is of someone who has chosen creativity as a life long passion rather than a vocation. I get to experience LA as someone who doesn’t depend on their creative passions to survive, but someone who cares about them enough to invest time in finding creative fulfillment. Los Angeles is an elevated platform where you can design the highest quality lifestyle for yourself, or you can get lost in the network of people who build shallow industry relationships, clinging to the hope of something greater. I prefer lifestyle design.

Traveling is one forum that enables creativity for me. It’s a way to live in the moment surrounded by new experiences and unconsciously expanding your mind. I gravitate towards authentic local experiences versus a day filled with watered down tourist attractions (although, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to see city-defining landmarks). I will refrain from using the buzzword “millennials” and instead refer to this generation as “my friends,” but my friends and I crave authentic experiences. We like real and we want real experiences. Kylie Jenner summed up my mantra when she told the world that 2016 is

“the year of just realizing stuff, and everyone around me, we’re all just, like, realizing things.”

This trip to LA was thrown together last-minute, like most trips I plan. My friend, Caitlin, who I studied abroad with and haven’t seen in 5 years, had to travel to LA from Miami for work, so we tacked on a few days before her work obligations and had a weekend getaway in one of our favorite cities. Caitlin is one of those friends that’s easy to keep in touch with across the country and you would have never guessed we hadn’t seen each other for 5 years. We also had the same goals for this trip, which is one of the most important factors when planning a trip with someone.

Accommodations

Sticking with the theme of having an authentic local experience, we naturally turned to Airbnb which gave us the flexibility of staying in an apartment in the neighborhood that was most convenient and centrally located to the other activities we had planned. We chose a charming and spacious studio in the heart of Hollywood. I mean, this place had an exposed brick wall with a view of DTLA and Capitol Records, so what else could I ask for? We moved to the W Hollywood for our last night, which was only a few blocks away from our Airbnb.

Fitness

Most of our weekend was planned around boutique fitness classes. I know what you’re thinking – I hardly know myself anymore, too. Caitlin got me excited about trying out a few trendy classes, and I was hooked. On Saturday morning we attended SoulCycle in Hollywood, which is a spin class centered around upbeat playlists. You haven’t pushed yourself hard enough until you’ve been in position 3 doing tapback body rolls to a Formation remix, and the instructor, Tina, is twerking in the front of the room while the beat drops on the looping “hot sauce in my bag, swag” lyrics. We also treated ourselves to a freeze from Pressed Juicery, which is conveniently located next door to SoulCycle.

 

Later that afternoon, I signed up for ClassPass, where you can choose classes from different studios around the city. They have many options in LA and Seattle, so I figured I would give it a try. Plus, our Sunday Cycle House class in West Hollywood was available through ClassPass. At first I was nervous for this class because not only were we placed in the front row of a class filled with what seemed to be athletes and potentially a few celebrities who often attend, but Aaron, our instructor, announced that the class would be referred to as “2 turnt 2pm.” Needless to say, I turned up and thoroughly enjoyed the intensity and motivational support that Aaron provided as he walked over and turned up the resistance on my bike.

Art

Caitlin and I met in Spain, specifically in Madrid, where our first excursion together was to the Prado Museum, which is when we bonded over La Maja Desnuda and other iconic Spanish art. We knew this LA trip had to touch on the holy trinity: art, design, and fashion.

On Saturday afternoon we ventured to Malibu to visit the Getty Villa, which is a property that sits up on a hill overlooking the ocean. The property is a recreation of a Roman villa, where we wandered through the grounds and gardens and then moved inside to appreciate the Etruscan art. I’m not saying we went there solely for the Instagram, but the photos were a pleasant side effect.

Nightlife

Our nights primarily revolved around dinner reservations. On Saturday we made a late reservation at SoHo House West Hollywood which we were hoping to find an LA scene since it’s a members only club. It was pretty tame, but I enjoyed the Italian food and wine. We wanted to go out in WeHo after dinner, but both of us were tired and acting twice our age. Luckily, our Uber carpool ride home with an aspiring dancer, who we conveniently picked up at The Abbey, reaffirmed that we made the right choice to head home.

When you’re late for your reservation but you make your friend pose for a picture in front of SoHo House because “it’s your vibe”:

Ivy League-ing, like I'm Elle Woods 🌿

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On Sunday we went to Nobu Los Angeles. Despite being featured in numerous rap songs, I was underwhelmed with this Japanese restaurant. The service was slow and the food was good but not great, however, I may be spoiled by Pacific Northwest seafood. If I give Nobu another shot, I will make lunch reservations on the deck at Nobu in Malibu.

Nobu Nights 🍣🌊🎏

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Later that night we went back to the W and planned to have a cocktail at The Loft, which is the rooftop pool and bar. We ended up crashing an LA Fashion Week party (LOL) and I tortured Caitlin by making her stay to listen to the live music which she referred to as “jazz,” but really was a cover band belting Whitney Houston.

We know how to (crash a) party at LA Fashion Week ☄🔶

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The weekend flew by, and before we knew it, we had to part ways and tend to our corporate affairs. Weekends like this reenergize me and give me a refreshing perspective that I get to carry back into my work. I’ve kept the fitness streak going back in Seattle and tomorrow I leave for LA again where I will squeeze in a Cycle House or SoulCycle class on this quick trip!

Adventure Travel

Epic Olympic Peninsula Adventure

olympic peninsula, pnw, pacific northwest, upperleftusa, washington state, outdoors, nature, wanderlust, adventure

The Olympic Peninsula has been one of my favorite places to explore, or dream about exploring, since I moved to Seattle two and a half years ago. The second weekend after relocating, I spent a full day exploring the peninsula, which was my first true Pacific Northwest experience. I was able to cram in Hurricane Ridge, Lake Crescent, and the Hoh Rainforest, all while making it back to Bainbridge Island in time for the last ferry back to Seattle that night. Although I covered a wide distance that day, I knew I had only seen a fraction of all there is to explore on the peninsula. It was always a goal of mine to make it to the coast, where I’ve only seen photos of the pacific ocean meeting the rocky, evergreen covered cliffs.

TL;DR…

 

A few weeks ago, a friend and I couldn’t get the idea of planning an Olympic Peninsula adventure out of our heads. We decided we would leave early on Saturday morning and spend the day near the edge of the forest, where we would minimize driving time and leave us a full day to explore. When we sat down with our coffee before catching the ferry that morning, we couldn’t shake the idea of going to the coast instead. We pulled onto the ferry, parked the car, and made a verbal pact, “we’re going to the coast!”

One of the biggest factors we had to take into consideration when changing our plans was the driving time. It takes about 3 hours to get from the ferry to the coast, but what I’ve learned from past experience is that driving along Washington’s scenic byways is an adventure in itself. Lucky for us, the entire route for this trip was along the Pacific Coast Scenic Byway.

The first stop was Lake Crescent. I’ve been to Lake Crescent several times and each time I still take a moment to stare off into the crystal clear, blue water of the lake that’s surrounded by rolling hills with fog weaving through the evergreens. This time, the highest layer of trees were dusted with snow.

 

We wandered into the woods. We decided to do the short hike to Marymere Falls. Along the way, we lost track of the trail and found ourselves on the river bank surrounded by forest that can only be described as a wonderland. I have never visited the peninsula in the winter, which is the “wet” season. The water fall was bigger than I have ever seen it. The trail leading to the waterfall was blocked off because of danger conditions, but look at this waterfall and tell me you wouldn’t try to get as close as humanly possible too…

To the coast!

Our next stop was La Push, which is the first stop, and as far north along the coast that we wanted to go. The drive to La Push was bizarre and confusing. We were surrounded by lush evergreen forest, but our map led us to believe we were only minutes to the beach. I couldn’t wrap my mind around it. I’ve never been so seemingly deep into the woods and yet be minutes from the ocean.

The road turned a corner which is where we got our first glimpse of the rough pacific ocean meeting the cliffs that lined the shore. We stopped at First Beach. At this point we realized how important the mountains are for stopping rain and wind from hitting Seattle. We didn’t see any signs of life which led us to contemplate whether the town had been evacuated because of a storm that we may be caught in. The view was too beautiful to care.

 

While in La Push, we also stopped at Second Beach which required about a 1.5 mile hike through the rainforest to get to the shore. Luckily, I was prepared for the weather but standing on the beach, completely soaked and trying to position my body to defend the angled rain sheets, was a surreal moment.

The last, and most anticipated, stop on the trip for me was Ruby Beach. After a quick lunch break in Forks, home of Twilight,we continued down the Pacific Coast Scenic Byway, also known as highway 101. Driving down the 101 along the pacific coast in Washington is a much different experience than in California.


Ruby Beach was breathtaking. I have looked through countless photos of this beach, but being there in person is an experience that can’t be captured in a photograph. The shore is lined with “driftwood.” which is actually just entire trees washed up in a pile.

We finished the trip by looping around the peninsula, through Olympia and Tacoma, and back to Seattle. The full loop took about 13 hours to complete, but it was 13 hours full of the Pacific Northwest beauty that I set out to find, even while in the car. If you are looking for a day trip out of Seattle, I would recommend doing the full loop. Next time I go back, I plan to spend more time in Olympic National Park and make it an overnight adventure.

P.S. Snapchat has become one of my favorite places to document these adventures!

Add me: rcarre

Travel

Five Years of Spain

spain, sevilla, seville, study abroad, travel, adventure, life

It has been five years since I lived and studied in Sevilla, Spain. I was reminiscing tonight with one of my best friends who I met for the first time in Madrid, only hours after arriving in our new country. She asked me to help carry her luggage up the stairs because the hotel didn’t have an operable lift, and her suitcases, saturated with designer clothing, doubled her body weight. There was no way of knowing that this moment would become a metaphor of our friendship five years later.

There are countless aspects of my life that began in Spain. The things I value most today can be traced with a dotted line back to something I experienced during those five months. There was an energy that made time seem irrelevant, and I witnessed that energy gleaming from each of my friends. When any of those same people decide to call or FaceTime me today, from however many thousands of miles away, it’s impossible to ignore the energy that resurfaces.

It’s something that is carried with us in our everyday lives. It’s the driving force that took all of the inspiration from our five months of living in a city that has more history and culture than one person can possibly absorb in a lifetime, and manifested itself into all of our personal and professional endeavors over the last five years.

I don’t get to see these friends often enough, but that’s partially because we’re all still conquering the world with the momentum that we carried back with us from Spain. Spain isn’t just the country that we lived in. Spain is the omnipresent energy that we radiate and that we attract. I’ve put Spain into my work and my relationships over the last five years which has resulted in the best five years of my life. I hope everyone finds their Spain.

Lifestyle Travel

I’m Moving to Prague!

czech, czech republic, prague, praha, travel

Usually when I post less frequently on my blog it’s because I’m focusing on work or something in my personal life is requiring my attention. The last few months have been no different. I recently returned from a week in the Czech Republic exploring Prague. In fact, I’m currently taking advantage of my jet lag by writing this post after waking up at 4:30am. This trip to Prague wasn’t one of my typical on-a-whim adventures and I didn’t jet set because I was feeling bored. I was visiting Prague to find an apartment and get acclimated to my new work office, all because I’m moving to Prague!

 

Over the last few months I have been in conversation with my current company about an opportunity in a relatively new office in Prague. All of the dots connected and I made the relocation official. I spent the last week exploring different neighborhoods, apartment hunting, trying new Czech foods (and beer!), and starting to envision my new European life. This was my first time in the Czech Republic so I wasn’t sure what to expect, but by the end of the week I had fallen in love with the quaint neighborhoods and stunning architecture.

 

I have a few more months in the U.S. to check things off of my Seattle bucket list, although I know I will return and the Pacific Northwest beauty will be waiting for me. I couldn’t be more excited to take on this new adventure of learning a new culture, language, history and making Prague my new city!