A Queen in Cabo| Spring Break 2017 in Mexico!

It’s been a long time, I shouldn’t have left you… without a dope blog to step to…

After one of the most stressful quarters ever (mainly from having to adjust to the fast past academic lifestyle post-study abroad) I was hyped to get out of the country for spring break vacation. Since being back from Italy, I wanted to explore more of the beautiful places close to home. Spring break in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico was the ideal choice because I could experience a new culture, enjoy great beaches, and spend less than $400 on a round trip plane ticket. For 6 days, I got to relax and enjoy the beautiful city of Cabo!

Arriving in Cabo

Figuring out transportation from the airport was a little tricky at first. Prior to departure for Mexico I had done some research and discovered that there’s a bus from Terminal 2 that will take you into the city and the downtown area where the hotel was located. It worked out to where the bus stop was visible right outside the Terminal 2 exit of the Cabo San Lucas Airport. We were allowed to pay in either pesos or the $2.50 USD equivalent.

Getting Around & Things to Do

Cabo was a lot smaller than I imagined. Within the first day, I saw most of the city and could figure out how to get around anywhere by foot. With perfect weather in March, it was desirable to go on a stroll to the Santa Maria beach, which was about a 15 minute walk from the hotel.  The Santa Maria Beach was the main party and tourist beach with Mango Deck being the main attraction for springbreakers. Near the Cabo Wabo area was Destiny Massage, which offered a 70 minute massage for only $20 which is unheard of in the USA. It was so amazing and I felt very relaxed afterwards.

 

Nightlife

The clubs in Cabo were all located in one strip and were F-R-E-E THAT SPELLS FREE! With free entrance, it was easy to hop from one club to another. The notorious El Squid Roe was super active and had multiple floors that were all open. It reminded me of several music video scenes. The music wasn’t always popping because it was heavy on pop and EDM type of music but as the night went on there were several sequences of songs that were popping. Sunday night surprisingly was the most lit.

I had looked up clubs before arriving of course, and Pink Kitty was one of the top results but fell short of its status. It was fairly empty but I still had fun dancing to mid 2000s throwbacks with other springbreakers. The club next to El Squid Roe was a top contendor with a more sophisticated layout and with a more variety of songs on the playlist. La Vinquita was another club in the area that played more Latin beats and it was fun to show off my bachata skills!

Food

I could not get enough of Mexican food. I literally almost had fajitas every single day. There was this restaurant near the Marina called Sharky’s. They served delicious fajitas with rice, beans, and chips and salsa for only $7.50. This was also the place where they served liter margaritas for $6! Deals, Deals, Deals! I ate at this restaurant for half of the nights I was in Cabo. The other meals were from various authentic restaurants and I was always satisfied.

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Beef fajita meal at Sharky’s 
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Frida Kahlo photo

Activities

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Fish pedicure

The activities were my favorite part of Cabo! The last two days of the trip were day-long activities of snorkeling and then zip-lining. It is best to book activities in person, as they are much cheaper than online and you have the chance to bargain. Never settle for the first offer or even the first vendor. At the mall, the prices for zip-lining were much higher and for a less inclusive deal.

The snorkeling adventure was super fun because I got to see the Arch of Cabo up close and relax on the way to snorkeling. Because I know how to swim, I expected snorkeling to be easy right away. However, when I jumped into the sea I realized it would be such a workout to literally keep my head above the waters! The water was super cold and it was hard to breathe through the snorkel tube because I was out of breath and heart was beating fast at first. Once I relaxed and slowed my breathing down, things became a lot easier. I could see the tiny fish swimming below my feet! All together, the adventure was 3 1/2 hours long and a time well spent!

Zip lining was the most adventurous activity I’ve done so far! This activity was through a company called Cabo Adventures and featured 7 different zip-lines, including the longest zip-line in Mexico. I can’t believe I glided across mountains in Mexico and even had the nerve to do it upside down! That’s right, I zip-lined upside down. There was one obstacle called the pendulum, where I stood at the side of a cliff while harnessed, and then jumped off like and was swung to the other side. I totally underestimated how high up I really was because as soon as I left the edge, my stomach dropped and I just started screaming. It felt like I would never stop falling! I loved seeing the nature and experiencing the beautiful outdoors. I’m excited to do more outdoor activities in the future!

My goal this year was to travel to another country/content and I’m so happy I’ve been able to accomplish traveling to another country and in the summer will be headed to Ghana!

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Living life!
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Top 5 Top 5 Top 5! My Favorite Places From Studying Abroad

2016 took me to some amazing places! In between going to classes, what made my semester abroad so worthwhile was my ability to travel to so many different countries and other cities in Italy. Each new place had its own perks but there were some that stood out the most. I ranked my favorite cities by my overall experience such as the vibe I received while being there, and whether I connected with the city, as well as the food, culture, and beautiful things to see. My list will start off going from 5 to 1. Also, to keep things fair I’m only ranking cities that I visited for the first time on this exchange. This means London won’t be on it since I went as part of my first time studying abroad in 2015. London will always be my favorite places in the world. But for now, let’s see which other places stole my heart.

5. Berlin, Germany

Berlin surprised me with how exciting and lively it turn out to be. At first I was caught off guard with how cold it was but looking back now, 48 degrees isn’t all that bad! Berlin is such a historical city and I learned so much from visiting the museums. I was impressed by every single meal I had in Berlin. A happy stomach equals a happy trip! Also, I wish I had brought another bag because there were so many places to shop in Berlin. I finally was able to see what was so great about Primark. Now I’m hoping Primark expands into the West Coast of the U.S. one day.

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Brandenburg Gate

4. Athens, Greece

Athens was one of my favorite place for food. Being in the birthplace of gyros was exciting to me. I literally ate gyros the entire weekend I was there. With just the two days I was in Athens, I had such a fun time seeing the ancient buildings and learning more about their historical significance in the Acropolis. Athens is another place that had an abundance of sunshine which may contribute to why I enjoyed it so much. In the midst of 30 degree weather in Milan, a weekend in Athens was like a short summer vacation.

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The Acropolis

3. Marrakesh, Morocco

I made it to an entirely different continent on my exchange and my experience was quite exciting. It was my last trip of the exchange but still showed me that there is so much more to the world. Marrakesh was unique because after getting the hang of going to new places, it’s still exciting to learn about a culture very different than the European cities I visited. I didn’t know what to expect with Moroccan cuisine but it turned out to be very tasty. Shopping in the city center was always fun and I found such unique and colorful pieces. The main thing I wanted to do while in Morocco was ride a camel, and I made it happen! Even though my exchange is over, going to Marrakesh left me with more motivation to continue exploring.

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Atlas Mountains

 

2. Rome, Italy

Of all the cities I went to in Italy, I could really see myself living in Rome. I loved Rome for its beauty. Rome is charming, full of things to do, and has an abundance of historical landmarks I could spend hours gazing upon.The Trevi Fountain alone was such a spectacle and of course the Colosseum were among some of the many beautiful places to see in Rome. I discovered a very helpful menu ingredient for ordering the type of pasta I wanted. The word is “bolognese” and this changed my life for the the rest of my time in Italy. I no longer had to eat just pasta with sauce but now I finally knew how to ask for beef to be apart of the spaghetti. But besides the great food, I enjoyed how easy it was to navigate the city. Walking to Vatican City was a workout I probably wouldn’t purposely partake in but it was still doable. I could never get enough of hearing street music and hearing the sounds of different languages.

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The Colosseum

1. Barcelona, Spain

Being in Barcelona was such an uplifting and heart-warming experience on a personal level. Initially, nervous about going on a trip to a new county by myself, this trip turned out to be a special time for self-reflection and celebration. I loved Barcelona so much because of how meaningful it was for me to finally be in a place that I had dreamed of going for so long. I was by myself but felt so whole and completely joyful. The food was amazing. I had this amazing taco that I still dream about today.

I went to Barcelona in early November and the sun was still shining. I could get around better with the knowledge of Spanish I picked up om my 2 years of Spanish in high school. Having a better understanding of the language made me feel more confident and accomplished as a visitor in a new land.I walked miles a day to see the Sagrada Familia, Park Guell, and caught the amazing view of the city at Turo de la Rovira. I was a Cheetah Girl and sang all around Park Guell and random beautiful streets.I think back to the happiest moments of my life and being in Barcelona was definitely one of them.

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Park Guell

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once a Cheetah Girl, Always a Cheetah Girl -Solo trip to Barcelona!

“Hi, my name is Daizha and if I could go to any place in the world it would be Spain.” This was always my answer during icebreaker games when we had to say a place we would love to travel to. I even made a collage of all the places I wanted to travel, and Spain was right in the center. At 11 years old, I watched Cheetah Girls 2. I saw a group of ambitious and excited girls travel out of the country all the way to Spain and had the time of their lives. It was then I told myself I would see the world. I was going to go to Spain no matter what. I wanted to see different countries, cultures, and just travel. This was my dream. I would sing Strut in the streets of Barcelona no matter what.

Fast forward almost 10 years later and I am just so full of happiness because that dream came true. I’ve enjoyed travelling throughout my quarter abroad but this trip was so special to me. As a kid we all have dreams of going places and doing things, but as we get older we sometimes forget about them because of “reality”. This encouraged me even more to never let what I see or the challenges I’m facing to stop me from taking risks or dreaming big. That being said, let me tell you about my 5 AMAZING days in Barcelona!

I didn’t know what to expect from a solo trip but I had positive thoughts because it was Barcelona after all. I would highly suggest a solo trip. You have the freedom to go wherever you want, when you want, and truly be in tune with your inner spirit and just have fun with your own presence. This is how I was able to deviate from my “itinerary” whenever I changed my mind. The day before my trip I booked 2 walking tours but lol that was a wild idea because A) Getting out of the house and arriving by 11 am was a struggle and B) A 3 hour walking tour the day after hiking up a mountain was not appealing anymore. So with that, I planned my days as I woke up.

Day 1

I made an effort to go to the Guadi walking tour at 11 am. Guadi is a famous architect responsible for creating some of Barcelona’s most famous sites such as the Sagrada Familia and Park Guell. I still headed to the meeting spot but plans changed when I looked around and saw that I was right by La Bocqueria. La Bocqueria is a large open market with fresh fruits, hot meals, and foods. It reminded me a lot of Pike’s Place Market in Seattle. Still with hope that I would make the tour, I walked to the plaza just to see where it was. With no tour group in site, I hopped intro a small restaurant and ordered some tapas. I heard a lot about tapas, it being a famous food in Spain. It was basically just bread, with a bowl of cheese and grilled peppers! I soon discovered there were tons of different styles though.

I wandered back to La Bocqueria and had the BEST blended juice ever. It tasted so refreshing and healthy! I loved it. Then I bought some beautiful scarves in the alley nearby. I just love finding cute stuff in hidden places.

*tip* If you are staying in Barcelona for a few days I would suggest buying the T-10 metro card. Its valid for 10 trips for only 9 euros! I didn’t understand what the ticket was saying (even in English) until my 3rd day when I looked it up! I ended up paying 2.15 euros for one way tickets, a total of 4.50 euros each day omg.

From La Bocqueria, I walked 50 minutes to la Sagrada Familia. My legs were full of energy so I didn’t mind the trek. The key is to stop at places along the way, so your mind doesn’t really think you’ve walked an hour! Sagrada Familia was so detailed and large on the outside, but the inside is what surprised me the most. It’s just bursting with warm and cool colors! Guadi did an amazing job on this one!

I did a quick google search trying to find street food. I was excited to find California street food and walked 20 whole minutes before being led to some alley where it didn’t even exist. Nope not today satan! So I ended up getting some amazing tacos and rice from a Mexican restaurant near the Sagrada Familia.

Day 2

Legs starting to feel the burn. Woke up whenever I sure felt like it and decided to see the best views of Barcelona and knew I wanted to shop. On my list: Park Guell, Turo de La Rovira, Diagonal Mall. The day before,  I Googled ” where were the Cheetah Girls when they sang Strut in Barcelona” and some wonderful soul answered in a post with all of the locations. Park Guell was one of the results so it was a  must!

I was a little caught off guard with the fact that the prettiest views of Park Guell had an admission fee of 7 euros. 7 euros? I kept it pushing and still enjoyed the FREE parts of Park Guell lol. Plus, the next place was free and had THE BEST view of Barcelona.

I walked from my airbnb, to Park Guell, to Turo De La Rovira. The journey to La Rovira was continuously uphill and this is where I started to feel my thigh muscles burn! But the view of Barcelona was absolutely breathtaking. I was really in Barcelona. I took the moment in and was just so happy.

Next, stop was Diagonal Mall. I was excited that there was a Primark and an FNAC where I could buy a portable charger. The Primark wasn’t as good as the one in Berlin but I still found some cute stuff for my family and I. I finally bought a portable charger and didn’t have to worry about my phone dying after a few hours!

Day 3

This was the day my legs could barely move. I had climbed almost 50 flights (according to iPhone health app) and walked over 10 miles the day before. I took my time with getting ready, and planned to take it easy with visiting Casa Mila, back to the Sagrada Familia, and the Magic Fountain. Casa Mila was another cool building created by Guadi. I don’t know why I was surprised it cost to get in but I sure liked viewing it from the outside lol! I viewed the Sagrada Familia from the outside because why not? And then journeyed to the Magic Fountain which was so beautiful to see at night! I also  was able to see the outside of Museu de National Arte Catalan because the Magic Fountain is actually right in front of the museum. The museum is free on Saturdays after 3 pm! Sadly, it closed at 6 so I had just missed the free entrance day! Nevertheless, I had fun watching the fountain light up and taking pictures.

Day 4

My last full day in Barcelona. I went to see Castell del Montjuic since it was the furthest and last thing I wanted to see. It didn’t take as long as I expected to get there but it was a lot further than the other places. I really enjoyed the museum inside of the castle because I learned a lot about the Catalonia revolt in the earlier 20th century, as well as the history of Barcelona in general. It was quite fascinating.

This was an amazing trip and such a great experience solo travelling. As a young woman, it can be easy to let fear stop you from travelling alone. But using general safety precautions, and trusting your instincts will help you be safe while having an enjoyable time!

Tips for a female solo traveler:

  • Book your airbnb or hostel in a central area
  • Don’t have your phone out all of the time when walking ( Take a visual picture of your journey and look at it to see when to turn/make sure you’re going the right way)
  • Where a purse or bag that wraps around your neck
  • Enjoy this time for yourself. Time for self-care and celebrating all of your hard work!

 

5 Tips for Traveling While Natural

1.Keep your hair moisturized and protected

I have been enjoying the efficiency of head wraps. Not only are they stylish, but stayer convenient for the on-the-go traveler like myself. While on a 10 day trip across central Europe, I wore mostly head-wraps with my hair braided in a cinnamon bun type braid. I was happy to keep my ends protected, and still to apply oils and leave-in conditioners to stay on top of my moisturizing regimen. My new routine is wearing my hair in twists for 5 days, styling them with wraps or wearing them loose. Then rocking a defined twist out for 2 days.

Coming to Italy, I had my hair in twists and kept them in for about 6 weeks. Arriving to your destination with a long-term protective style is great because you won’t have to worry about styling while also adapting to a new environment. Once my marley twist style came to an end, I saved the hair for future styles. The hair came in handy for my Beyonce Formation Halloween look and the two french braids the total costume required. I still have the hair and will put it to use, for a bun or two.

While in London, I found a plethora of hair stores available and even though I didn’t know when I would use it, I purchased 4 packs of crochet braiding hair. Bundles at a great prices are hard to come buy and I knew London would be the closest place to decent priced hair and products, so I just bought them. I will probably hook up something cute for my last month abroad.

2. Bring your entire hair care system

One thing I wish I brought more of was CONDITIONER. It seemed like I would be doing too much by buying 3 bottles of conditioner as I was leaving the States, but when I really think about it, its totally realistic. Think about how much of each product you use and bring that amount for your trip. I am already savoring my last bit of Cantu leave-in conditioner. I should’ve known to bring at least 2 jars! Even though there is a store here in Milan, it just doesn’t sit well with me to purchase a $12 jar when I know I could get the same thing for half the price back home! Bring enough products to last you or you might have to pay twice as much for literally the same thing!

3. Scope out hair-stores

In an earlier post I talked about finding a hair store randomly in Rome. Coming to find out, there are a few small hair stores near central station in Milan. Ask people who live in the area where they are getting their products, and this will make the search a whole lot easier.

4. DIY with it!

On the note of overpriced natural hair products, a cost efficient solution is utilizing DIY recipes!

  • Detangler – Apple Cider Vinegar & olive oil
  • Deep Conditioner- 1/4 cup of honey, 1/4 cup of olive oil | Conditioner, water & olive oil
  • Leave-In Conditioner- Mix Conditioner, olive oil, coconut oil, water and mix into a spray bottle ( This will be the mixture I use as I am on the last scoops of leave-in conditioner)
  • Shampoo – 1/4 cup of Apple Cider Vinegar mixed with 2 cups of water. I had to find the right proportions because the first times I used this method earlier this year, I found that my hair felt very dry afterwards. This is because I used WAY too much ACV, as I was thinking “the more the better” and that it would cleanse my hair even more. In this case “less is more” is the way to go.

5. Google Translate is Your Friend When Buying Products

If you do decide to buy hair products at regular stores or grocery stores, be sure to use google translate to read the ingredients. Even if you think you have an idea of what the product does, it is also great to double check! If I were to get the wrong product, its not like I could take it back! Refund policies are a lot different in Italy! I’m so glad I read the ingredients of a Palmer’s shampoo I was about to purchase. Right at the check-out, I translated the description to find out it was a protein based conditioner for fine and limp hair. My hair is neither fine or limp, so that particular product would have probably made my hair very hard. I saved $7 just by checking to make sure I was getting the right thing.

 

PSA: SHEA BUTTER IS WILL NOT MAKE IT PAST AIRPORT SECURITY IF IT’S OVER 3 OZ

This is a side note to prevent others from  the loss and suffering of 2 jars of shea butter. Even if the jar says “solid”, they still won’t let you get on the plane with it. I’ve lived and learned lol.