There are so many special places on this planet, and I’ve been fortunate enough to discover many of them.
Like every other “basic” girl from the states, I watched Eat, Pray, Love years ago (saw it twice in theaters) and was even more inspired to travel than I already had been. It’s hard not to constantly refer back to that story when I am reminded so often by people that I really “remind them of Liz.”
Much like Liz, I knew from a young age that I was going to go to Paris, France, but after seeing that movie and reading the book, I knew I HAD to get to Italy…stat! And Bali.…and India (still on my list, unchecked, but will make it there in 2018).
So far, I’ve been to two out of three countries featured in the book and movie, and since then have been to 29 more. While I had memorable experiences in these countries (ie. a short romance in Italy that involved sailing to Capri, no big deal 😆), I think it’s important to look beyond where the movies tell us to go. I’ve had countess “Eat, Pray, Love” experiences now and I wish the same amount of LIVNG for everyone who’s reading this.
When I first started my travels, I had no idea all of the incredible places I would find. The few I’ve listed below were particularly impactful for me. They’re also places I will find myself returning to year after year.
The food, the history… the endless sounds of “opa!”
Greece is a country where I found simple daily pleasures, a brief romance (that lasted all of 5 days), stunning sites that brought tears to my eyes, and an extra 5-10 pounds of body weight after eating so much food. I regret NONE of it. Greece will make you feel alive!
I’ve definitely got an affinity for Mediterranean countries like this one, but Greece was extra special to me for the rich cultural history. I remember studying Greek Mythology as a kid and ACTUALLY paying attention in class (gasp) because I was so intrigued and romanced by it all. You can eat, pray, love and then some in this country and I did it all. I’m still dreaming of shouting “Opa!” with ouzo on hand and the beaches of Crete…
While many people rant and rave about the beer drinking in the famous pubs, I found an entirely different experience for myself here. I pretty much stayed out of the pubs, except for my trip to the Guinness Factory.
I enjoyed all the lush green nature while I was here. I hiked multiple times, went on jogs to castles and roamed around listening to buskers and made friends in strange places. It’s all what you make it, right?
In addition to the amazing land itself that will put anyone in a state of prayer and love, Ireland is full of incredibly friendly people. In fact, it is probably the most friendly country I’ve been to yet and it’s been calling me back ever since.
I recently spent seven whole weeks in the this country and found it extremely difficult to leave. Peru is way more diverse than I realized, and with each stop I fell more in love. Many people know Peru to be a deeply historical and spiritual land that utilizes natural medicine and ancient ceremonies to heal. I experienced my own types of healing while I was in Peru, without drinking the “special tea” (ayahuasca), but I knew many people that did partake and said that it absolutely changed their lives.
What I did do, however, in Peru was challenge myself physically, mentally and emotionally in very extreme ways. I didn’t experience romantic love, but I did meet a man and have an intense connection, which was invigorating! You truly never know who you’ll meet on the road…
Physical and mental challenges faced me when I scaled a mountain thousands of feet in the air and zip lined down while my heart pumped out of my chest. Spiritual challenges when I cried my eyes out as healers told me things about myself I knew deep down but never could quite articulate. I truly had a spiritual experience.
I credit the land itself for seeing me through. Perhaps the most impactful experience was the Salkantay trek. That five day challenge had me praying for strength to get through each day, eating whatever was out in front of me after utter exhaustion, and deeply loving Pacha Mama for her endless gifts. Peru has everything you could want in a place: mountains, jungles, beaches, food, friendly locals and spirit. I think Liz missed out on this one during her Eat, Pray, Love quest if you ask me!
If you’ve been following for a while you know how much I loved South Africa, so much so that I skipped my first flight booked out of there and ended up staying almost a year. South Africa provided me with experiences I’ll never forget- like climbing Table Mountain (twice!) and taking surf lessons at Muizenberg Beach.
Like many others that visit this country, I experienced deep healing by appreciating the natural beauty all around. I tried all different types of foods and amazing wines here. I found love (and heartache). I prayed my way through it all. My time in South Africa was like a vortex into a deeper, raw existence that forced me to face myself, and who doesn’t need that?
I hope you’re all having a beautiful last month of 2017 and planning many adventures for the upcoming year. I know I am! Where shall I eat, pray, love next??