Whenever I travel to a foreign country and have access to a television, I am always compelled to watch something so that I can soak up the local language and culture. I’ve done this in Mexico, Costa Rica, Hungary, Australia, Thailand, Japan, Spain and Portugal. When I visit countries which speak a language I can understand, I make an effort to listen and understand the language. For example, I can catch bits and pieces of Japanese when watching Japanese television, because I have had a lifelong exposure to Japanese programs. When in Mexico, Costa Rica, and Spain, I understood the majority of what I watched and heard on television, and I felt that it boosted my cultural understanding of the country I was visiting.
When I was in Hungary, I got a chance to watch Family Guy with Hungarian overdubs, which was truly bizarre but also quite fascinating. Then when I visited Spain, I caught a few episodes of the Spaniard version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, as well as another Spain-based game show, and was pretty surprised when I was able to follow the shows in their entirety without any struggle. My experience watching TV in Spain made me even more courageous about speaking Spanish while I explored Barcelona and Girona. Even in Sydney, Australia, I got a kick out of the language nuances and cultural differences which were revealed in the programs I watched.
Who else has a habit of catching television shows while traveling abroad?
A nice sunset shot from my final evening in Porto, Portugal
During the spring of 2022, I traveled to Spain and Portugal on a bold solo trip which had its share of frustrations and glitches, but I was very proud of myself for enduring all the problems. Since I speak a decent amount of Spanish, Spain presented no language issues for me, but it was an entirely different story when I was in Portugal, because I only know a few Portuguese words. Nevertheless, I was bound and determined to enjoy my stay in Vila Nova de Gaia and Porto.
I stayed at a lovely AirBnB in Vila Nova de Gaia which had a beautiful view of the Douro River and the town of Porto across the river. For four days straight, I would explore the wine caves on Vila Nova de Gaia (VNdG) side, walk all over VNdG and Porto, visit the grocery store to get authentic Portuguese food items, and dine in various restaurants in VNdG. I was completely free to do whatever struck my fancy, and I loved the entire experience so much that it was hard to leave and move on to Lisbon, which I didn’t enjoy nearly as much.
On my final night in VNdG, I decided to stay out as late as possible so that I could absorb as much of the sensory stimuli as I could. That final night turned out to be extraordinary, punctuated by a fantastic meal at a riverside restaurant, some lovely vinho verde, and fun conversations with other travelers. The sun began to set around 8:20, which was incredibly late for that time of the year. Even after the sun had completely set around 8:50 pm, the sky was a very vivid cobalt blue.
Another beautiful image from that magical night…
Live music was playing at a couple of restaurants, the river water was glistening, the crisp air was refreshing, and my heart felt so full while taking it all in. That night, I honestly fell in love with VNdG and Porto, and resolved to visit again. At some point, I will definitely return to VNdG and Porto, hopefully with a romantic interest in tow, because the area is so replete with romantic energy.
One more image from one of my favorite evenings of my life…
If you are looking for an absolutely gorgeous place to visit which has plenty of fresh seafood, great wines, and interesting culture, consider visiting VNdG and Porto.
Anyone who loves gorgeous beach destinations should put the Maldives on their list of must-visit island paradises, because it will not disappoint. A beach lover myself, I had spent decades fantasizing about traveling to the Maldives before making that dream come to fruition in 2018. I was fortunate to have found an excellent package deal for travel to Nalaguraidoo, also known as Sun Island, and ended up spending 6 days and 5 nights surrounded by some of the most captivating azure waters and white coral sand beaches I had ever seen in my life.
Before I dive into the morning experiences I had on Nalaguraidoo, I will mention two negative aspects regarding the Maldives, the first being that making the trek to that part of the world is abysmally lengthy. Between the three planes, the bus, and the speedboat we were transported on, the total travel time (mind you, this does NOT include the time spent on layovers, which added another 14 hours) was almost 24 hours. By the time we were on that final speedboat ride which took us to Nalaguraidoo, we couldn’t remember what day it was, and the fact that it was almost pitch black while on that boat didn’t help with our awareness of time.
The other negative feature of the Maldives was that there was absolutely no local culture to be found. The island was teeming with tourists, mostly from England, Germany, and Australia. The workers on the island were from neighboring India and Sri Lanka, and they were all lovely people, but none were Maldivian.
Despite those negatives, the time I spent on Nalaguraidoo was absolutely magical. I stayed in a villa which was right near the water, and upon exiting my villa, I would be rewarded with the following view:
The climate was almost egregiously humid and hot, but I could always very easily submerge myself in the clean water of the Indian Ocean, which was replete with nurse sharks and a dazzling assortment of different species of fish. The temperature of the water was about the same as our body temperature, incredibly inviting and relaxing. The fact that I could spend five mornings of my life waking up to such conditions was absolutely wonderful.
During the summer of 1980, I spent 30 days in Europe with a group of girls from my high school, along with our ancient history teacher, her husband, and a German foreign exchange student named Jorg Eichhorn. There were countries which I absolutely loved (Italy, Greece), countries which were impressive in certain ways but which didn’t capture my heart (England, Switzerland, Austria, Germany), and two countries which I did not enjoy one bit (France, Turkey). Despite the fact that I wasn’t enamored with every country we visited, I truly enjoyed the entire experience immensely.
One major highlight we experienced was a cruise we took on the M/V Aphrodite, a cruise ship which we boarded in Ancona, Italy. We spent a week on the M/V Aprhrodite, which docked in Santorini, Athens, and Istanbul. Our first night on the ship, I remember sitting out on the deck, looking up at the sky, and being dazzled by a glorious display of stars, completely unobstructed by pollution, the distraction of electric lighting, or ominous storm clouds. The next day, when we docked in Santorini, I was even more awestruck by the gorgeous turquoise water of the Aegean Sea. Once I set foot on the rocky shore, I saw the waves lap against the rocks and realized that I could see fish swimming in the water. I had never seen such a shade of water, and for that matter, I had never seen any major body of water except for the Pacific Ocean until I went on that cruise. It was an experience which left an indelible impression on my 14 year old self.
I recently thought about what my ten favorite moments in my life have been, and I decided to compile a list. I was astonished to see that eight of the ten moments occurred while I was traveling, and six of them involved water. Every single one of these moments is special and sacred to me, and full of meaning. I’ve made sure to list them in chronological order. I will add ten blog posts in the future which will discuss each of these magic moments.
Are you in a midlife rut? Then this fantastic article written by Camille Johnson of bereaver.com is for you!
You’re not sure what set it off, but you feel like you’re stuck in a midlife crisis. You might be unsatisfied with your job, mourning a dream you never accomplished, or feeling unfulfilled in your relationship. With the help of a trainer like Stacey Naito, you can finally start working towards the goals you previously pushed to the back burner. Furthermore, these tips will help you figure out where to live, how to outfit your home, and which lifestyle changes you should implement.
Move Somewhere New
You might feel like you can’t turn over a new leaf if you continue living in the same city. Maybe you’re looking for opportunities that aren’t available locally, or maybe you’ve trying to get out of a toxic environment. Either way, it may be time to move to a new city. If you plan to buy a home in a different area, you’ll need to research current Pennymac mortgage rates and determine which type of mortgage is right for you. Your lender can help you determine whether you would be qualified for a conventional, FHA, or VA loan.
Focus on Your Health
Perhaps you’ve noticed that you don’t feel as energetic and lively as you once did. You might assume that your mental health is suffering because you’ve reached a turning point in life – but it could be because you’ve been neglecting your physical health. You may want to invest in a few items for a basic home gym, such as an exercise mat, resistance bands, a stability ball, and dumbbells. To enhance your home cooking skills, you could pick up an immersion blender, a vegetable spiralizer, a slow cooker, and meal prep containers.
When you’re buying new products, especially ones that the whole family will use, it’s important to spend your money wisely. Therefore, before you buy anything, make sure to go over product reviews from a few unbiased sources. That way, you can feel confident in your purchases.
Write in a Journal
Writing in a journal can help you decide which steps you want to take next in life. It can be tough to choose a direction, but when you write about your feelings in your journal, you can gain some clarity. PsychCentral states that journaling can help alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression and even help people process traumatic experiences.
What if you feel like you need to break out of your routine for a while? You could book a trip to a destination you’ve always wanted to visit! Travel can be a boon for your mental health, and spending some time in an unfamiliar place can help you shake off feelings of stagnation. Everyday Health states that traveling can make you feel more creative, relieve your stress, and even strengthen your relationships with your family and friends back home.
You might be experiencing a midlife crisis because you haven’t achieved some lifelong goals, and you’re wondering if you’re really capable of becoming the person you want to be. Taking on challenges – and overcoming them – can shift your mindset. Whether you want to challenge yourself physically or intellectually, now is the time to do it. From learning a new skill to volunteering in your community, there are lots of ways to challenge yourself and change for the better.
Going through a midlife crisis isn’t easy – but with the right outlook, you can make it to the other side and come out stronger. A midlife crisis can actually mark the start of an exciting new chapter. By following these tips, you can move to a welcoming place, choose the best products for your home, and focus on self-care.
Ready to focus on fitness? Start training with Stacey Naito! Check out our website today to learn more about our training services.
Source: 123rf Image ID : 158781949 Copyright : followtheflow
For those of you who have plants in your home, have you noticed that your plants don’t look as healthy after you return home from a trip? I have consistently noticed in the past year that whenever I go on a trip, at least one of my plants is drooping, exhibiting brown leaf edges, or some other sign of less than optimal health. I didn’t mind it quite as much last winter, when I only had six plants inside my residence, but by my second out of town trip in September, I had over 30 plants, and wasn’t very pleased by the fact that I came home to see half a dozen droopy, sad plants. Four of my plants swung back to perfect health within three days, while two of them ended up in the houseplant graveyard. Thing is, I was only gone for four days, and I returned the day before my regular weekly plant watering day.
Then in November, I made another four-day trip, and by that time I had over 50 plants. I scheduled my trip so that I would once again return home the day before my weekly plant watering/assessment day, yet I once again returned to a number of plants which were not looking very happy. I’m thankful that they bounced back to health, but I still can’t figure out why this keeps happening.
I only devote one hour, one day per week, to assess the watering needs of my plants, water the ones which need a drink, spray orchid plant food on all my Hoyas (Hoyas love it), and rotate the pots by 90 degrees clockwise. I don’t fuss over my plants daily like some people do, not because I don’t care about my plants, but because my plate is always so full that I avoid plants which are fussy and require that type of attention.
My den and dining area, early February 2021
Now that my indoor plant collection exceeds 100, I truly wonder what would happen if I were to take a short trip out of town. And though plants don’t have feelings per se, why is it that my plants are so much healthier and perkier when I spend more time at home? As weird as this may sound, I’m almost convinced that plants pick up on our energies, and since I admire my now sizeable plant collection and appreciate every single specimen, I believe my plants sense that. I know that in general, I have a very green thumb, and had discovered that talent about a quarter century ago, but my recent foray back into houseplant cultivation somehow seems different. I feel much more connected to the plants in my home, and though I don’t talk to them, simply looking at them makes me happy. I think they know how I feel.
I read this comment on a blog post about plants on The Smiling Gardener which I found quite interesting:
Feel free to check out the links below, both of which explore the idea of whether plants have feelings. At the very least, there is scientific evidence that plants send chemical signals to each other through the air or soil. Could my plants be chatting it up about how groovy my home is, how the humidity and the grow lights and natural light are (hopefully) just right?
Source: 123rf Image ID : 35177538 Copyright : Borislav Marinic
Though I thoroughly enjoy international travel for a multitude of reasons, the most meaningful trips I have taken have admittedly been the ones I took in an effort to learn about my ancestral roots. The first time I went on a heritage trip was in September of 2014, exactly six months after I had ordered genotype testing through 23andme. Despite the fact that I already pretty much knew the bulk of my heritage (Japanese and Hungarian), I was even more determined to visit Japan and Hungary after I received the test results. It took me a full six years to visit Japan, but I was able to do so in March of this year, and made a point of visiting both prefectures which my grandparents were from.
Source: 123rf Image ID : 8705805 Copyright: ginasanders Budapest, castle hill and castle. city view
It turns out that my determination to visit my ancestral countries, occurred right at the beginning of the surge in heritage travel which has swept the globe. One of the driving forces behind this boost in travel to ancestral lands has been the popularity of genetic testing kits such as the ones offered by 23andme. From personal experience, I can definitely tell you that a trip which is taken in an effort to learn about one’s heritage is definitely different from a trip which is taken for vacation purposes.
Source: 123rf Image ID : 121655857 Copyright : pitinan Beautiful morning at Yasaka Pagoda and Sannen Zaka Street in summer, Kyoto, Japan. Yasaka Pagoda is the famous landmark and travel attraction of Kyoto.
Thanks to AirBnB, people can stay in dwellings which are more reflective of the culture which they are visiting, and thus more authentic and rich. According to AirBnB, there has been a 500% increase since 2014 in travelers who use the AirBnB service to book accommodations and experiences. Close to 80% of these trips are taken either with one travel partner or alone, which suggests that these treks are indeed meant to establish connection with mother cultures.
It’s no surprise that AirBnB and 23andme have joined forces and are offering services specific to heritage travel on their websites. On 23andMe, customers who receive new ancestry reports, are now able to click through to their ancestral populations and find Airbnb Homes and Experiences in their countries of origin. Correspondingly, Airbnb has dedicated pages which correspond with 23andMe’s genetic populations, making it a breeze for customers to book accommodations in the countries which emerge on their reports.
If you’re thinking of booking a heritage trip but are hesitant, take it from someone who has not only visited her two main countries of origin, but who has also visited the other countries (Italy, Greece, Germany, France) which had popped up on the genetic testing report, and just GO.