24 hours in Vail, Colorado!

Back in Vail for 24 hours! What to do for fun and where to eat for a cheaper price!

It was windy. A cold, strong breeze, with leaves flying in a spiral.  Last time in Vail for this witch was 13 years ago. Social media was still on its first steps, there was not immediate sharing, only enjoying.It was the first time in my life that I felt truly happy. Until the day the hotel I was doing my internship told us we, all the student visas holders, would have to leave by the end of the season, in April. With that being said, we will not be able to renew the visa for the summer season, like planned. It was a the ice bucket challenge. But not for good cause.

Like the Coldplay song Viva La Vida says:

“One minute I held the key. Next the walls were closed on me And discovered that my castles stand Upon pillars of salt and pillars of sand”.

Every time I hear this song, I’m immediately transported back to those days.

One minute I was hopping around town, filled with happiness, going to coffeeshops and bars, the next minute my castle crumbles and I’m packing my bags back to my parents house in Brazil, with a canceled visa. Only to be back 13 years later, married, with a decent job, that allows me to stay in nice hotels and with a document that allows me to stay forever, and not be shipped back home due to any financial crisis. Anyway! The mini trip was great!

Vail 13 years later! What changed? I changed!

We rent a car on Turo, which is similar app to Airbnb, but only for cars. They have all kinds of luxury cars that you can rent, but also cheaper options like the one we got. The reason why we had to rent a car, its because with the Colorado laws, you have to have a 4X4 car to go up the mountains.

Our ballerina CT Lexus would not be up to the game. It would literally flip around like its on a try out for a Broadway show. We would also face the possibility to get fined up to a thousand dollars, it was better and safer to spend about 100. We ended up getting a SUV type of Mercedes, quiet and steady. The trip was about to get real!

Vail is only 1 hour and 40 minutes away from Denver.It is a very beautiful scenery, as you get lost in the white snow covered Aspen trees. Every few miles you can spot a ski resort along the road. I did our check in online and a few minutes later they texted us telling our room was ready.

The Grand Hyatt Vail Resort is stunning! Our room faced the mountains and had a couch. Once again they had robes, or this time 1 robe. I had to share with Josh for the photos, as he embark in my madness and partake the in my adventures. The hotel is big with 3 restaurants, a spa, plenty of outside area. For our surprise the hot-tub and the pool were open. We didn’t have bathing suits. I think it was the voice of reason saving us from a pneumonia. I will be back when its warmer.

Food! 

There is a way to eat cheaper while in Vail and I can prove it. As I was a local many years ago, I kept myself away from those fancy restaurants, that wants to charge you a huge amount of money for the name of the chef. I’m still a local in my heart and looked for places I used to eat when I lived there. One of them is called Route 6.

Route 6 is a dinner in Eagle Vail, nothing extraordinary, but good for a reasonable breakfast meal. I got a breakfast sandwich and Josh got a steak. He didn’t like it, but also, who order steak in a side road dinner? Well, Josh does. I always set lower expectations, and at Route 6 I knew what to expect.  Meal number 1.

In the afternoon, while walking around the Vail Village, Josh got hungry again and I decided to join him. We stop at the bottom of the mountain restaurant, to have some beers and tacos. Well, I had the beer. I asked about the people coming down the slopes, only to find out that the mountain was closed due to a power outage, around 12pm. The time the witch arrived in town. Surprised yet?

At night, after walking around town and trying to take a nap, we decided to eat again. Now it was time for dinner. I didn’t want to go out again, so we ate at the hotel bar, we shared half chicken with gnocchi and wine. Plus dessert.  The hotel restaurant only open the dining room Fridays to Sundays and I though this was a great idea. They should do that at my work place.

Fun!

Around Vail you have some sub-divisions like Eagle-Vail, Avon, Edwards, Minturn and Gypsum. People usually live on Eagle-Vail, Avon and Edwards and work in Vail. Very rich people lives in Vail. The working peasants hide in smaller, more affordable places.

In the morning after breakfast at Route 6, we drove over to the apartment complex I used to live. I didn’t realize how much I had to walk to take the bus, in the cold and snow, everyday. It is a long way!

It was great to revisit and I bet the prices now are way higher than 1200 a month with utilities. The complex had a painting job and I saw some people that looked like J1 visa holders living there, like I was once. The pain of carrying your laundry basket in the cold is real.

From that memory lane, we moved to another. We stopped at Avon, to walk around and see the little town center. In my mind the supermarket was in a different direction and this time I didn’t want to cross the train tracks to go to Starbucks, like I used to. The witch is old and tired.

I wanted to go to Beaver Creek, but the wind was too strong to get the gondola up, and get the bus that take us there. Walking around was painful, as a dust particule hit josh’s eyes and he immediately freaked out. Let’s go buy sunglasses then.

Later on we took the hotel shuttle to walk around the Vail Village. Most of the bars I used to hang out are still there, including the one where me and my friend had a blast time and Jesus was the for the resident DJ for the party. Vendetta’s was the place and Joana was the queen (as I like to portrait myself in my mind)

I took more photos, tested my new phone lenses, at least tried,  my hands were cold because I forgot my gloves. The streets were empty, only a few people walking around, as the season was coming to an end.

After Dinner, we went to bed at 9pm, after all, it was my day off and I wanted to sleep on the nice bed as much as I could. Early morning the next day, I took some time to take some photos with the hotel robe, which I believe is going to become a thing, because you just look fancy in it.

We check-out at the hotel and once again, stopped at Vail Village to pick up a coffee and muffin  at Loaded Joe’s for the trip back, but we only had 10 minutes, because we didn’t want to pay for parking. Couldn’t even tell the barista about the time I lived in town, as I told everyone else I encountered.

It was a great short trip! I can’t wait to be back, with more time and a bathing suit packed next time! Now let me go edit the videos to post on youtube, as the channel is coming together! I have way more to show on videos!

Stay Healthy, Stay Sane!

JS XXX

 

The Dreams are Alive!

“Truth to be told is: My dreams were not taken away from me. They were put aside, while I work on other things. I lived some, I ate great food, I had different experiences that, for sure reflects, on my writing today.”

I’m a writer. I keep repeating this over and over in my head before I self-sabotage myself again.

I see it already happening. I got a job in a hotel, again, and it’s only a matter of time for me to put everything I’ve been working so hard, like creating content, my blog, and food photography aside, to just be another numbered employee. I have lived like this for the past 15 years.

There are days I freak out and cry thinking about the time I lost. I’m already 35, for God’s sake! How did the time go by so fast and where are all the dreams I had when I was in my 20’s?

Self-sabotaging works together with my lack of confidence in doing anything else that will turn out to be something that brings me fulfillment and joy. I love photography, but I’m too scared of turning my passion into a hobby and end up hating the only thing that makes me happy.

The majority of us can’t afford to live our dream life.

 

Image by Dariusz Sankowski from Pixabay

As ⅔ of the planet’s population, I cannot just focus on what makes me happy, because I have bills to pay and need food and a place to live. The majority of us can’t afford to live off dreams. I have been using this as an excuse for as long as I can remember.

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about what happened to my early 20’s dreams and where did life take the wrong exit. About a month ago, I had one of those epiphany moments where you get yourself thinking about your young adult dreams and what happened to them.

One of those mornings before work, I was listening to a horoscope podcast and I don’t know what kind of sorcery was that, it felt like it was saying directly to me, Joana.

“Good Morning, Libra. Today is the day that you will think about old dreams, and try to restore the passions you didn’t conquer from previous years” That was enough for me to spend the rest of the day thinking about my early 20’s expectations I had for the life ahead of me. I had many dreams and none of them were achieved successfully.

In some of my previous posts, I wrote about being raised by a generation that all they knew was to work and pay bills because that was considered a success. You feed yourself and can pay for the roof on your head, everything else is a given from God.

The podcast awakening

On that morning, that podcast awakens in me, the 20 something that had been put to sleep in 2007. Until that point, I had big dreams for myself, I was only 22 and I wanted to be a travel photographer, while I read the Lonely Planet magazine, I imagined myself writing articles and taking pictures of amazing places. National Geographic would work too, I thought, but let’s start somewhere. Time passed and I replaced that dream with the previous one, move to the United States.

While I’d be working in a hotel, I would be able to do whatever I had planned. What I didn’t know was that hotels would crush your soul and will to work on anything else. That’s where my dream got lost. I started to get tired to keep trying as I would have another 14 hours shifts the next day.

I made it to the United States in 2008. For a short period, the financial crisis sent all the foreigners who were working at the ski resort for the season, back home with canceled visas. I packed my bags and moved back home with my mom and dad, in Brazil.

Sometimes you need a setback in order to move forward.

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

It was such a huge setback in my life, I put all my hopes and dreams aside and focused on moving to Australia, to do another internship in the hospitality business. My grip to leave Brazil for good was intense. My writing at that point or the dream of writing anything significant had been put in a box, on the back of my closet. So did my photography.

At that point, I was more inclined to learn how to cook, for who knows, maybe one day, become a Food and Beverage Manager or Director. In all reality, I wanted to be like Anthony Bourdain.

Disappointment after disappointment with the restaurant industry made me love food, but hate the way people work. I work relentlessly, hours and hours serving tables, working in different positions, I worked in every single job as the front of the house of the restaurant. Hostess, Busser, Food runner, Bartender, barback, Catering.

None of those fulfilled me or made me feel accomplished on anything. You are nothing but a number, a robot, a rusty machine. As you get older, you start to have pain in places you didn’t even know existed in your body. In 2016, after an acquaintance wrote on Facebook “I’d rather be in Brazil and than being a waitress in someone else’s country” Something hit me differently inside of me.

“Am I only a waitress in someone’s else country?”

The question played on repeat in my head. “Why have I become numb and just a working body?” As Josh was going through chiropractic school and shouting around the house that he was going to be a doctor and I was the only one working, I thought “What am I, but a waitress money-making machine?” It was time for a change. I already had my documents, so I proceed for the first time in 10 years, to create a blog about traveling.

If I only knew about blogging what I know now, it would probably be a different story. The blog was going to focus on showing the international students about life in the United States and how not everything is rainbows and flowers. I would travel to different colleges and universities, like cities that are considered “student towns” to show people how cool and different life in America is.

The only place I wrote about was Chicago and Orlando. I couldn’t afford to travel around, neither I would have the time. After 6 months, I deleted the blog. I felt deep in my heart, like once again, I had no right to dream. I had to start another 12 hours shift soon. I was bitter for the longest time, and my marriage was all over the place. Josh’s school offered some free therapy sessions, counseling for married students, so I ask him to set up an appointment.

You are the only person responsible for your happiness. Period.

My photo from 2010, in Broome, Western Australia.

At that point, I knew I need help. 2016 was an incredibly difficult year and 2017 wouldn’t be different. The devil took his place in the presidency. Josh and his entire family voted for him, my soul was nowhere to be found. So I went to therapy. On the first session, the therapist told me “You are the only person responsible for your happiness”

The next Monday I was slowly coming back to my body, got a phone call from Full Sail, and decided to go for it. That brings us back to today. I became a writer with a Creative Writing degree diploma.

“Truth to be told is: My dreams were not taken away from me. They were put aside, while I work on other things. I lived some, I ate great food, I had different experiences that, for sure reflects, on my writing today.”

I would not be writing the way I do today if I had to write 15 years ago. Joana from 15 years ago was naive, inexperienced, has a voice, and learned that sarcasm can take you long away, let me tell you that.

Not all is lost.

Hear me out! This week we are, hopefully purchasing a travel trailer, so I can somehow, make the dream to be a travel writer/photographer out of the box. It takes time, but you will make your dreams come true at some point.

This year, I will “summer” differently. I hope you do too!

Please let me know in the comments what are you working on to live your life to the fullest and how you are building your dreams!

J.S XXX

This is my Meditation Video on my new youtube channel called Mindful Edge! I’ve been testing my video editing skills! Subscribe if you like this type of content.

Beautiful Chaotic Chicago.

*I wrote this post in July 2020. The city still hasn’t recover from the Covid Pandemic, all the stores are closing and the as far as I know, a lot business are on the same path. I’m deeply saddened by how my favorite city is looking right now. But hopefully soon, they will rise. I love Chicago and wish them a speed recovery.

Today I woke up missing Chicago and then I though about this post I wrote and never post it.

I remember the first time I walked around the city. Almost 8 years ago, I arrived in the country, not knowing what was going to happen from that point on. All I had was hope for a better future. After all this time, I still think about that feeling of starting over. Fresh out of the boat.

Before moving to Chicago, I was living in Sao Paulo, which is the most overcrowded city on the planet with a population of roughly 22 million, only behind Delhi and Shanghai. While the winter lasts for a good nine months out of the year, during the summer months that are plenty to do, even free entertainment, for our delight.

Downtown Chicago Congress Hotel

The city has its major problems, like any other big city, but I won’t focus on that. Let’s focus on what makes it fun!

Here are my ideas of favorites to explore while in town: 

1- The CTA – Chicago Transit Authority –

Also know as “The L” . Yes, why the number one item of my list the 100 years old is public failing transportation system? Because if you want to be a local, it’s a must that you explore the city on the train. It’s cheap, reliable, and chaotic. It runs around the entire city, so you see all kinds of people on the train. Depending on which line, or what time, it gets a little danger, but I’m not about to be negative. Let the News do it. From some accounts on Twitter dedicated to the lines, the RedLine is probably the most famous one, and the tweets are hilarious and I’m happy to understand what they are talking about. A lot of nonsense. If you never got called out in the train by a stranger in the train or bus while Chicago, you are not doing it right!

Uptown Train Station

2- The People 

Almost everyone living here is from somewhere else. I also mean all over the world, and they are welcoming. Different from Georgia, where I was asked every five minutes where I was from, because of my accent, alas in the South its almost like a cow branding, in Chicago nobody cares. I believe the cold brings us a sense of community, as we are always engaging with each other and talking about how cold this place is, or making some snarky comment on how is always construction time.  Being from somewhere different, gives everyone a sense of belonging.

3- The Food Culture

One of the reasons why the food is so great is the city is so diverse. Because of all different ethnicities, you can find all kinds of foods, walking distance from one street to another. Chicago has all kind of cuisines, of course, is also known by the Fine Dining classic cuisine, where the seven-course dinner might cost you 300 bucks, for a private area at the restaurant where the Chef feed you in your mouth, or you can stick to the cheap part and enjoy it, without breaking the bank. Last weekend, my friend was visiting from Georgia and she wanted to have a typical Chicago Hot dog, so we went to a small hot dog parlor in Old Town, considerably cheap, for that part of town, which is an upscale neighborhood area. Across from us, there were some youngsters having brunch and yelling across the speed of sound. You can imagine what kind of people they are. 

4– Diverse Neighborhoods. 

As city being so diverse, Chicago makes you feel like exploring a lot, by feet or bus, checking the different architecture of every neighborhood and the people. Lakeview has different pockets, The East, is where the party happens, they have BoysTown, the LGBTQ+ neighborhood, it is always fun to walk around, with great restaurant to visit. The WrigglyField – Cubs’ baseball stadium is located a block away. At Lakeview West, you have also great bars, and Argentinian BYOB SteakHouse, an old Movie Theater on Southport, and a lot of yoga moms. Logan Square you find the hipster millennial crowd. Vegan Coffee shops, Indy movie Theaters, PopUp restaurants with a different theme every month, and a super appealing farmers market. Pilsen is the Hispanic community, full of again, nice people and delicious Pan. For sure, is a lot to explore and I could keep telling you about this place forever. 

5- Free Entertainment. 

 Free entertainment all year round in the city, but let’s keep the list to summer months because besides the city looking pretty in the winter, with a lot of chance of snow, it’s a bit safer to venture yourself during the warmer months. From April on(if we are lucky), when it starts to get a little warmer, a lot of neighborhoods hold a farmers market. Its always great fun and delicious food, that you can either eat at the market or take it with you, last one I visited, they had a Tamales stand and Mexican corn, let me tell you there was a line for it. A lot of festivals going around town, the bacon fest, the taco fest, the Roscoe fest, and so on. Every weekend there is a different street closing for the visitor to rejoice. You can also rend a Divy Bike and ride on the lakeshore

Millennium Park has a free movies, that you can sit at the grass, with a picnic mat and enjoy with friends, there is also dance festivals at Navy Pier and a lot of good to do, if you don’t want to break the bank. After all, Chicago is an expensive city, the taxes are higher and the probability that you are going to spend more than you expected is almost guaranteed. 

A cold night in January

Chicago is a great city. I believe that a lot of what you see in the media is overrated. The city has great people. I’m hoping to go back and visit my friends soon. As soon as we are cleared from Corona, because now my friends are also stranded at home, just like me, here in Austin.

Pin made with Canva Design website.

Stay Safe!

J.G. Snelly

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