Friday, August 16, 2019

Still the best decision I have ever made.

Wow, 10 years! Can you believe it?


Thinking back I remember myself as a shy girl who wasn’t sure what she wanted in life and what made her happy. She didn’t know if she had made the right decision to move overseas, especially with only a handful of English words she knew. She wasn’t sure then if she would ever find a place where she belonged and could feel happy. 

If I could go back ten years, I would tell myself to enjoy every single moment. I would tell myself that though there would be hard and rough days, the good and fun days would outweigh the bad. 


Now (ten years later), I know that I have found my place. I know I made the right decision. I am HAPPY.

Last year on my nine-year anniversary of being in Canada, Michelle asked me which five things came to mind when I think about Canada.

My answers last year were:
  • Falk
  • Canmore
  • Travel
  • Adventure
  • Michelle & Ken

There were so many more things I could have listed including dancing, running, swimming, nature and so on but those five words came first to mind when Michelle asked.  I answered without thinking about it too much.

Today marks my ten-year anniversary and I could add five more today … 
  • Fun
  • Laughter
  • Home
  • Happiness
  • No Regrets

Here are a few reasons why I choose those five words last year ...

Without him and his family, I would never have come to Canada and experienced such an extraordinary life. See Adventures below. Here are a few examples ...

Skiing in Sunshine Village, Grassi Lakes, Lake Louise, Boom Lake, Kananaskis, Emerald Lake, Canmore, Banff

After taking the huge step to move from Chemnitz (Germany) to Calgary (Canada) on my own, moving to Canmore was another big step. In Canmore, I lived “away” from everything I had known.  I enjoyed starting new adventures, making new friends, exploring, partying, working and just being on my own for a while.

Rocky Mountain Ski Lodge

Moving to Canada was the best thing I have ever done. Moving here opened new doors for me:

I was able to travel a lot. Here are just a few places I have been to. I can't wait to explore the world even more.

  • 2010 Kelowna, British Columbia πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦
  • 2011-2019 (every year) Germany πŸ‡©πŸ‡ͺ
  • 2012-2015 (every year) Vancouver πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦
  • 2015 Orlando, Florida πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ
  • 2015 Niagara Falls, Quebec, Montreal πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦
  • 2017 Athens, Santorini πŸ‡¬πŸ‡·
  • 2018 Maui πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ
  • 2019 Oahu πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ
  • 2020 Caribbean cruise (booked)

I was also able to work in different kinds of jobs such as:

  • Five years at a hotel 
  • Two years in a little teahouse in the kitchen and
  • Over the past couple of years I also took care of sixteen (16!) children from seven different families from all over the world including from Italy, Austria, India, Pakistan, Canada, and Germany. I loved (still love) every minute with all "my" kids. 
Every day was an adventure for me, especially in the beginning when everything was new.
With Falk and his family, weekends were always family time: hiking in the summer and skiing in the winter. 

Adventure Wednesdays

After I moved to Canmore, I used to go on walks, small hikes, bike rides on my own until I met Georgia.  She was my new roommate and we “created” Adventure Wednesdays because Wednesday was our day off work for both of us.  We decided that we would try something new every Wednesday for a couple of weeks.  We went horseback riding, biked the Legacy Trail from Canmore to Banff and back, went whitewater rafting, hiked to Grassi Lakes and Sulphur Mountain, went rollerskating, skateboarding, climbing, and went to Johnston Lake.  At some point a few Adventure Wednesdays happened in Calgary with Michelle: a  three-part, three-day duathlon, biking 47 kilometers, and our own "Diva Duathlon. Writing this makes me smile and think about all the fun we had. 

Back in 2011, I started running and I have raced everything from 5K to a full marathon. I also started biking and swimming and went from a fun three-part, three-day duathlon, to a short distance duathlon (run-bike-run) to eventually a Team Half-Iron 70.3 triathlon (swim-bike-run) where I biked the 90 kilometer part in 3 hours and 28 minutes for our team.  After that, I even completed a whole sprint distance triathlon all by myself. I loved my very active life but I also love my adventures and travel life.

Michelle and Ken
The first time I met Michelle in 2009, I wanted to be friends with her. She had such a warm smile and just made me feel welcome. Little did I know that she would become my best friend. In the summer of 2017 I moved to downtown Calgary but it didn’t work out so Michelle and Ken said to come stay with them for a month or so. That was two years ago =) We are all still very happy with the arrangement and none of us wants that to change any time soon. It doesn't matter if I need advice, or if I need my space to just be on my own, or if we just want to go on an adventure, Michelle and Ken are always there for me. These two truly are "Friends For Life".

Friends for Life!

The main thing I learned over the years is that with the right people in your tribe, life is good. Surround yourself with like-minded people and enjoy every single minute of your life. I only have a handful of people that I love having in my life but we support each other and are there for each other no matter what.

"Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations." -- Zig Ziglar

I am looking forward to each day, week, month, year that lies ahead. Adventures, here I (we) come!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

I am a Triathlete now :)

n. a person who doesn't understand that one sport is enough.

Play hard
smile often
give up

Before I tell you about my newest Adventure I'd like to Thank Michelle for always being by my side. Thank you for your support in everything I do. Also Thank you to Keith for being part of my Adventure and for taking all these amazing photos. Thank you for pointing me in the right direction when I needed it most. And at last Thanks to everyone else who believed in me.

Ok here we go. Well first of all let me tell you - I did not plan on becoming a triathlete. Well at least not when I started swimming. I started end of February 2016 and did only a handful of swims between Feb and April. In May I decided I wanted more and started going just for fun 3times a week. I liked it. I even became a morning person, lol :) Everything changed on June 10th when I received a message from my friend about the Chaparral tri which would be Aug 7th ... I talked to my boss and baaam ... June 20th we were signed up. Now I had to train ... and try to do some  open water swims.

Michelle and I did 3 open water practice swims. 1st at McKenzie Lake were we did about 500m ... It was my first time in a Lake (not counting Quarry Lake a year ago) and it freaked me out a bit. I can swim 1500m in the pool at Talisman but Lake swimming is very different. 2nd Lake Chaparral 1hour 1.0K. We did one long loop with breaks here and there. That's when I decided that 1500m would be to much for my first triathlon. I switched from the Olympic 1500m to the Sprint 750m the following day. 3rd Lake Chaparral - I spent only about 15min in the water and did 350m. I didn't feel so well that day. That's all we could do because two days after our 3rd Lake swim was our Tritahlon.

Ok now - keep on reading or you won't know the stories to all the amazing photos. (photo credit: Keith Cartmell)

It was a bit cold at 6am but we were excited to be there :)
Getting up early doesn't bother me anymore. Michelle wanted to be at Chaparral at 6am and we were there at 6:04 :) We had lots of time for bike check, body marking, set up and a quick look and walk around the transition area. We also had time for a few photos of course ;) I love that I am able to share my adventures with one of my clostest friends. She has been there for my first 10K, first half mararthon and first marathon. She was also part of the IronMan relay team and saw me finish my 90K bike ride. And now it was time to become a triathlete :) So here we go ... Let's start with part Nr 1.

750m in 21:05
Trying to get comfortable in the 16degrees cold water before
the start.
Michelle started an hour before I did because she did the Olympic distance. When it was my time - I got in the water to get comfortable with the 16degrees cold water. Then everyone had to get out and wait on the beach for the start signal. And off we went. I found it cold but as soon as I started swimming I felt fine. I swam with the front crawl for a bit but decided to see how I would do with breaststroke. I like front crawl but breaststroke lets me see where I am going. 

Very happy I made it through my swim!

I was in the back with 2 men and a woman. I was very happy when I passed the turnaround and only had to swim back to shore. In the end I pushed myself a little and passed two more men. I'd tell you that felt pretty awesome. I was very happy when I was able to leave the water. All I thought was - Woohoo - I did it. I did the first part of my triathlon. Wow. I headed to transition and got changed for part two.

22.8K in 57.06
Transition Swim to Bike
Transition was quick and off I went. Biking was great. I knew I would make some good time. I didn't worry much about the biking part after my resent 90K bike ride just two weeks before my triathlon. I am glad my friend Michelle told me that I had to do 3 loops though. I thought I only had to do 2. I felt great and was happy that I was done with the hill after doing it 3times.
One more loop to go!

There were a lot of other bikers around me but there wasn't really anyone to follow. Everyone had their own pace. So I made sure to count each volunteer that I saw 3 times. Having to bike only one hill in each round made the count pretty easy too. When I finished my ride I headed in to transition for part 3.

5.5K in  41.38
Transition Bike to Run
Almost done! Swim-Bike-Run

All I had to do in transition was hang up my bike and take off my helmet. And off I went for my final part of my first triathlon. My run was slow. Actually all I wanted to do was take a nap :) I haven't been running at all for a while and did a run/walk. I didn't really care about my running time - all I wanted was to finish. I  know my run could have been a bit better but I am happy with my first triathlon.

Before the race I thought - Lake swimming is not for me and I thought I would be happy when it was over. And YES I was happy when I was done BUT I was also a bit sad. All I can say now is - I would totally do it again. Maybe the same race next year. :)

Finished in 1:59:48 

  That's Just The Beginning :)

When I started swimming I was glad when I made it to the other side of the pool. I remember I had to take breaks after each 25m I did. AND now ... I actually did and open water race. I am amazed. Can't wait for a new Adventure. 

I've never really learned the front crawl. I just had to teach myself and I am very happy with my progress over the past few month.
May 4th 2016 1.0K in 01:07:00
May 29th 2016 1.10K in 00:34:00
June 17th 2016 1.70K in 00:52:00
July 18th 2016 1.50K in 00:52:30
Aug 1st 2016 1.0K in 00:30:00
Aug 12th 2016 2.0K in 00:56:00 longest swim yet

Friday, July 29, 2016

The Yarn Bombers Rocked It

Ironman Calgary 70.3 relay team - Yarn Bombers
July 24th, 2016

I have so many great things I'd like to blog about but haven't had time to do so. I am back now and I would love to get back to my Adventure blogs. But for now lets stay here. This blog will be a bit different. This blog will include Michelle's, Jennifer's and my point of view.
Swim - Bike - Run (photo credit: Keith Cartmell)

It all started with Michelle. She posted this "RUN & BIKE FRIENDS WANTED" March 19th 2016 on FB! I remember sitting beside her and I saying "pick me, pick me!" She got a few replies and had to create two teams instead of one :) March 30th was the day we were registered as team Yarn Bombers and I realized what I had done. I slowly started freaking out but I knew all I could do was training, training, training. And that I did.

Ok now, lets have a look at the point of views from the three of us. It starts with the swim :)

Michelle - Swim 1900m (more like 1750m she said) in 42:46

I woke up around 3 a.m. (an hour earlier than my alarm) so just got up to have breakfast and get ready.  Antje and I drove to the start for 6 a.m., parked at the hospital and got Jennifer to do our body marking. Then I pulled on my wetsuit while checking the bike.  Once on the beach, a friend reminded me to go dunk myself, then the team relay wave horn went off before I was really ready.  I ran and threw myself in and swam, getting bumped by some of the faster men passing me but not kicked.  I remember not really liking the experience for the first part of the race.  It was chaotic but things changed and I started to enjoy the race.

(photo credit: Keith Cartmell)
I got off course a bit at times and stopped once to dunk my foggy goggles and keep going.   At one point I was swimming next to a guy doing the breaststroke and tried to stay out of the way of his kick.  There was another guy doing head-up front crawl. I choked on a splash from another swimmer, gulped in a cup of water, but just kept dog paddling, coughing and choking, wheezing until my breathing returned to normal.  Face down, arms forward, pull, kick, keep moving…

I could see the triple yellow triangle buoys and knew I was almost done.  I kept swimming toward the shore until I could dig my hands into the sand before jumping up to run over the finish line, and ran into the tennis court to hand off the timing chip where Antje was waiting to head off on her 90K ride.  I had time for a coffee and a shower while Antje biked before heading to T2.  The rest of the story belongs to Antje and Jennifer…

I loved the experience and am grateful for my team.  I hope Antje and Jennifer had as much fun as I did.  I know we all trained hard and got out there and did our best on a really hot day.   I even learned to crochet so I could be part of Team Yarn Bombers!  Next year, I look forward to doing this race again (swim, bike and run). 

Myself - Bike 90Km in 3:26:41

I didn't mind getting up early because I was used to it from going swimming 3 times a week at 5:15am. I felt "alright" in the car all things considered. The moment we got to Auburn Bay I started feeling nauseous. I asked myself - What the hell did you do? Are you sure you are ready? I was worried finishing my bike ride in time. I knew Jennifer depended on it. We quick checked my bike and Michelle got into her wetsuit. Surprisingly the moment Michelle got into the water I started to relax. I knew I did all I could. I was ready I really wanted to do this. For me and for my team.

I saw Michelle coming out of the water and heading towards me. She handed me the timing chip and off I went. 
And I am off. (photo credit: Keith Cartmell)

Auburn Bay to 37th St was new to me and I looked ahead and wondered - if 37th St will be far. I couldn't bike the entire route in training but my lovely friends drove the route with me once. 

I loved being among all the other riders (kinda was nervous that I would be slow and alone - silly me). I past a handful of people which was enough for me and everyone that passed me commented on my amazing Cookie Monster Jersey :) It was a hard ride but it was so worth it. I tried to focus on parts of the ride instead of the entire ride at once. I got very emotional in Bragg Creek because I biked 52K in 2:12:25 and I knew I had less then half to go. The second time I got very emotional and had a hard time focusing on my ride was when I headed down the last hill to T2. I checked the time and realized I would finished in 3 1/2 hours ... I was so surprised, overwhelmed and just happy ... I almost cried. I reached the bottom of the hill where I had to get off my bike. I headed to T2 and looked for Michelle and Jennifer. I gave up my timing chip and I was done. Woohoo. Wow. Amazing. I did it.  Very happy I was part of this team. I would definitively do it again :)

Now have a look at the run and final part of our team triathlon.

Jennifer - Run 21.1K in 2:31:41 

I decided to be apart of a little adventure.  A couple/few months back Michelle made a Facebook post asking if anyone would be interested in being a part of a relay team for Calgary 70.3.  I didn’t even hesitate, I jumped at the chance to be a part of a race that I have been dying to participate in (not just volunteer).  After all was said and done and we were registered as team Yarn Bombers I started to panic.  I don’t like depending on people as I have been let down before and this whole process was starting to get stressful for me. 

photo credit: Jax Olar
Anyways…. fast forward to July 24, 2016.  Even though I was running in the afternoon I still felt the need to volunteer in the morning, I did body marking and wetsuit stripping (and if I wasn’t going to do the entire race myself next year I would do it again, LOVED IT!).  It was a great experience to be at the start of the race and get to see everyone start and end their swim.  Then the fun part started…. waiting!  Once I left Auburn Bay I headed to North Glenmore Park and waited for what seemed like forever. 

Michelle and I waited in T2 for Antje to get back (which she did fantastically awesome!!), got a quick pic, and took off on what ended up being a tough run.  It had to be about 26*C!  Gross!  Not ideal running weather!  But that’s ok, it is what it is.  By some chance by best friend who did the entire race caught up to me on the run!  I don’t know how it would have went if she wasn’t there suffering with me. 
The aide stations were fantastic!  Who knew that having a bit of Coke mid run would be a great idea?  LOVED it!  Other than the coke the ice and wet sponges were probably my favourite part.  

Like any other race the first 2/3 or so of it went well (thank goodness for the shade!) and then the heat and hills started to play catch up. 

After all is said and done I had a great experience doing the relay with these lovely ladies, although I don’t think I will be in any rush to do another (I think I put more stress on myself this time around than when I run solo).

Finish - 6:43:53

Thank you Ladies for an amazing day. Very happy my first relay was with you two on my team.

Happy Training For Your Next Adventure!

Sunday, June 7, 2015

I'm A Marathoner Now!

Woohoo - oh yeah!

I must be dreaming! Did I really run 42.2KM? It has been a week already and I still can't believe I'M A MARATHONER! Wow - just wow! What an incredible day it has been. 

Before I tell you all about it - I want to Thank my friend Michelle - I couldn't have done it without her. Thank you for being there for me. For your constant support. Having you by my side on such a special day meant a lot. Thank YOU!!

It all started with an very very early morning. I got up at 4am to get ready and have some breakfast before heading across the lawn to my friends house. We left around 5am! Start was 6:30am.  :) Even though I am not a morning person I always love race day. I love seeing all the Calgary Marathon runners on the C-train. So many people that share the same interest - RUNNING! Just amazing.

Here are a few photos before the race. Quick a selfie before heading out to line up at the start. Can you see the startline way up ahead? The 3rd photo is actually the finishing line on the other side of the building!

And off we go. My friend Michelle and I ran the first 9Km together, then the marathoners & half marathoners split. I like being surrounded by so many runners and enjoyed the first 9Km in the middle of the crowd.

We had some great live music throughout the race. Saw this guy at the beginning of the race and couldn't resist! Had to stop to take a photo with Elvis ... Whenever I see this photo I hear my friend say. "Thank you! Thank you very much" :)

After marathoners and half marathoners split I was basically by myself. I didn't see a race bunny nor did I see any runners for a bit. It is scary to run by yourself - always wondering if you are going the right way. All I saw between K9 and K29 were 7 other Marathoners. I knew after marathoner and half marathoner split that there wouldn't be so many runners but 7? It was very hard to run a constent pace if you don't really have anyone to follow. Big Thank you to police and all the volunteers! You all did an amaaaazing job. I was very happy with all the water stations. I didn't count KM I counted water stations which were every 3Km :) Also big Thank you to all the first AID stations and everyone on their bike that were looking after us runners. It was a very very hot day and I was happy to know that someone is around if I ever needed anything.

Seeing this sign was a highlight for me because I only ran 2 half marathons last year which are 21.1Km and I ran one 20Km training run. So everything from this point on was a personal best. Seeing the 22Km sign made me wish I've signed up for the half - then I'd be done already :) I wasn't fast but I kept going.
Two things I'd like to mention. Telling a marathoner at 26Km that they are almost done is so not a great idea. For me almost there means 500m left and not 16.2Km still to go. Another thing - telling someone who is exhausted that the turn around is just around the next corner but not mentioning that you mean the corner after the next 4Km is also not nice.
Seeing the 35Km sign was such a relief. I was getting closer to the finish. Still 7.2Km to go but wow 35Km done :) 
I got really really tired at around 37Km so I did the only right thing that I could do. I texted my friend Michelle. She ran the half marathon and was cheering on everyone that finished before me. When I texted her she started walking towards me. I was so happy when I saw her. I couldn't really run but I also couldn't stop walking. We walked together towards the finishing line and I was so happy when I was about to pass the 41Km sign. My legs were so heavy and the last 1.2Km felt soooo long. I couldn't really run anymore but managed to run/jump over the finish line.

About the pass 41Km - Yaaaay

My first Marathon took me 06:20:28 (chip time) !! Not fast but I finished!! After the race I had something to drink and a banana and off we went to the c-train. While we were waiting for the c-train we chatted with other runners. It's always great to hear what others experienced and how they liked it. As we were waiting I was asked if I would do it again and without even thinking about it for second I said YES! I mean it. I would definitely run a marathon again. I was very sore the first 3 days after the race but it was worth it.

Now I've done my first 10Km - my first half marathon and my first marathon at the Scotiabank Calgary Marathon event. All that is missing is the 5Km and the 50K Ultra now :) Should I do the 5Km next year??
Here are a few things about my "Training"
When I signed up for my Marathon I had 214days 23hours and 48minutes for my training. You would think that is plendy of time! Weeeell ...

My Marathon training didn't go as smoothly as my half marathon training did. I had time to train 3times a week for my half marathon but for my marathon whole nother story. I did two 5K runs last year and then I went to Orlando and Vancouver. Changes at the hotel also made it hard to train after an 8 or 9 hour day. I just wasn't feeling it. I did manage to run a couple of short runs between Feb. and March. I didn't know back then that March 12th would be my longest (20Km) and also my last training run.

I wasn't very fast and I know I can do better BUT without training I think I did a good job. I could have just said that I am not doing the Marathon at all BUT I did it. And it felt great. I was in a lot of pain in the last 4Km but as soon as you cross the finish line all the pain goes away and it was all worth it.

Up next!

I've sign up for the Canmore Rocky Mountain Half Marathon Sept. 13th, 2015 and I hope I am able to sign up for more till then!!

Countdown for the Scotiabank Calgary Marathon 2016

Thank for reading! Questions and comments are always welcome!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Hold on, stay strong, you will make it through!

You are not alone!

I met a lot of people through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Some of them became some of my closed friends and some of them I've never met in person yet I'm grateful to have them in my life.

I met a girl - let's call her Jane - on Instagram 14 years young and she publicly wrote that she was thinking of committing suicide. I've never met her in person but it hit me really hard. We were about 100 people that never met her but instantly connected - we all knew what we had to do. We tried talking Jane out of saying goodbye for good. We let her know that she is loved and that we are all there for her. I felt helpless sitting behind my screen and all I could do was text her ...

What do you do if you don't even know there real names or have any idea where they live. A stranger and yet it hit us all very hard. We tried to reach that girl all friday night and finally got confirmation the next morning that she was ok. It was a relieve to hear she was ok but I also started asking myself ...

Why is it that so many young people want to commit suicide? Why is it that we are drawn to people that we can't reach? Why is it that we push away the people that want to be in our lifes?

I know how Jane felt. I'm pretty sure there are a lot of people out there that felt like Jane at least once in their life. I also wanted to disappear - not kill myself - just disappear to make a fresh cut and start over ... I wanted to see who wants to stay in my life ... but I couldn't just leave ... I know that there are people out there that love me and some even need me. A while ago I wanted to give up everything I worked so hard for just to start over ... 
  • I've seen things that weren't meant for my eyes 
  • I've heard things that weren't meant for my ears 
  • I've experienced things that I'd rather forget 
  • I've been bullied 
  • I've done things I'm not proud of

BUT all these things made me to the person I am today. Yes life sucks sometimes. Life is hard and can be very challenging but it has also its good moments. We all should hold on to those moments. You have to take the good with the bad.

I know people that did commit suicide and I know people that tried it more than once. Suicide is not a solution! Suicide doesn't change anything! Yes running away and maybe saying goodbye seems such a great idea sometimes but the problem wouldn't change. If you commite suicide there is no turning back ...

To everyone out there. Please talk to family or friends. We all need to start listening more. We all need to pay attention to the people around us. Everyone has a bad day once in a while. Stay strong. You are not alone.

If you need someone to talk to - I'm here. Email me I will listen.
 Take my hand and we will get through this together!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Magical Week In Orlando

Where The Magic Happens 

Let's go on an Adventure

It all started August 29th, 2014 when Alisha booked us our 3-Day Park to Park Ticket for the Universal Orlando Resort. We wanted to see "The Wizarding World of Harry Potter" themed areas that are based on the Harry Potter series. We decided that 3 days wouldn't be enough for a vacation so we made a whole week out of it.

I was counting the days - I knew my vacation would begin from the moment that I would leave Canmore to head to the airport .... I flew to Toronto on Jan 25th after work to meet my friends Alisha and Rhys which I haven't seen since they left the Hotel on October 5th, 2014. I arrived in Toronto at 12:19am ... We had so much to catch up on that we talked till 5am before heading to bed for some sleep. Next morning was breakfast, packing for Alisha and Rhys and getting CAN dollars changed to US dollars. We went for a lovely walk and even had time for some Geocaching. On our way back to the house we stopped at a lovely cafe "Castle Board Game Cafe" to play Harry Potter Trivia Game and to have some tea to warm up.

January 27th was the day we 3 were waiting for. We headed to the airport at 4am and were on our way to Orlando at 6:25am. We arrived in Orlando at 9:28am and headed straight to the hotel to check in and to get rid of our suitcases. Afterwards we went for breakfast at iHop and than took a stroll along International Drive. We found the Volcano Island Miniture Golf (olf) course and enjoyed the Tiki Falls and Volcano Voyage Course.

We went to Walt Disney World on January 28th which was a day filled with fun, giggles and magic ... yes magic! I think every child dreams of going to Disneyland or Disney World ... Well I must say even as an adult I loved every minute of it. The are serval parks in the resort but we chose the Magic Kingdom which included -  Main Street, USA - Adventureland - Frontierland - Liberty Square (incl.The Haunted Mansion (which was one of my fave))  - Fantasyland - Storybook Circus - Enchanted Forest - Tomorrowland. I also loved the "Space Mountain" rollercoaster which was in the dark. Awwwesooome!!

Most Magical Night Ever
Fireworks at the Cinderellas Castle
January 29th was a very hot day and we decided to spend some time at the pool next to our Hotel. The water was still very cold but I loved just sitting in the sun and to read my book. After the sun went down we headed out for dinner and then decided to explore more of International Drive. Florida seems to like Golf ... every few minutes another stunning golf course.

We found a pub called "Howl at the Moon" which was absolutely fantastic with dueling pianos. We even ordered a cocktail in a bucket. Very delicious!! We also stopped at Senor Frog's for some drinks and music.

The celebration of Harry Potter event started on Friday but because we had to switch Hotels we decided to go Saturday to Monday to get most out of our time. We spend the rest of Friday strolling along CityWalk and after that Alisha and I went to see "Into The Woods" while Rhys went into a sports bar.

We all have magic inside us! J.K. Rowling

On Saturday morning we headed straight for the "Islands of Adventure" to lay eyes on Hogsmeade. It was nice and "quiet" that morning so Alisha wanted to go on the first Roller coaster that see saw. (The Dragon Challenge). This was a roller coaster I wasn't sure I wanted to do because it was one of those where your legs hang free. We chose the green dragon first and loved it so much that we went straight to the re-ride line so we could try the orange dragon as well. We all expected the second dragon to be almost the same as the green but oh my were we wrong ... The orange dragon was much faster and had a couple more twists but it was also very fun. It was an unbelievable magical day. Hogsmeade also included "Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey", "Flight of the Hippogriff" and as I mentioned before the "Dragon Challenge". You can also eat breakfast at the Three Broomsticks and the Hogs Head pub. It is very authentic and the attention to detail is absolutely amazing.
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
On Sunday we decided to go and see the other Harry Potter Park - Diagon Alley. You can walk or take the Hogwarts Express to get to London. The train is full of surprises and a "must do" if you ever go to Orlando. To enter Diagon Alley you walk through the open brickwork. Three up and two across!! The creators have done an amazing job. You can visit Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes where I bought Fizzing whizbees and some chocolate frogs. (So gooood) and you can visit Ollivanders or Florean Fortescue's Ice Cream Parlour and even walk down Knockturn Alley. I loved the Gringotts Bank. Absolutely amazing work with detail and authenticity.
Yes the dragon breathes fire.

I think I can speak for the 3 of us - we enjoyed the "Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts" a lot. On Saturday night we all were rushed out of the park through the train station and then admitted back as special guests (VIPs) of the evening event. This gave us the opportunity to basically have both Harry Potter parks all to ourselves, fully catered with butterbeer and snacks from 7 -11pm. What an awesome evening party we had.

After exploring the Wizarding World of Harry Potter for two nights we used our third and final day for the rest of the Universal Orlando park. I have a few favorites. I loved the Mummy ride with was mostly in the dark with burning rooftops and mummies of course. I also loved the Incredible Hulk rollercoaster and the Rockit rollercoaster. One highlight for me was also seeing and taking photos with the transformers. I was waiting for bumblebee but because of the windy weather he couldn't come out. I did see him on our last day at the park though!

We also watched a "Fear Factor Live" show and enjoyed a "Beetlejuice's Graveyard Revue". I had such an amazing time in Orlando. I would do this all over again in a heartbeat. Anyone wants to go on an Adventure ... I am ready :) I posted some more photos of my incredible week on FB. For more details on our fabulous week and some more photos please check out my friends Alisha's blog -

Adventures Are Out There!