DENVER Travel Diary

Happy Thurdsay!! Unfortunately this is not a holiday post (don’t worry, lot’s of those to come), but it’s all about my trip to DENVER a couple weeks ago. My friend and I booked super cheap flights on Southwest and Spirit for a quick four-day trip to Denver, and it was such a great trip. It was never a place I had really thought much about, but I feel like those trips always end up being the best. So read on, enjoy and I’ll see you soon for lot’s more holiday content! xx

Where we stayed

We found a great little Airbnb for two on Garfield Street, just two miles away from the downtown area and right by City Park. It’s a pretty safe neighborhood but a little sketchy, but then again what cities aren’t. There were a ton of little restaurants, coffee shops, boutiques and supermarkets right down the street from us, so it was a perfect location. On the first day we walked down Colfax Avenue down to the Lodo area and it was a really nice, easy walk (or an Uber was about $6 for a pool for two. Our place was also right across from City Park, which made for a perfect morning walk before heading into town for the day. I would highly recommend staying in this area if you’re ever in Denver.

Where we went 

Since we stayed so close to the downtown area, we spent quite a bit of time there, around 16th Street Mall and Larimer Square. Our first day was full of shopping. We wandered down to the LODO area and walked in and out of all the stores and boutiques, and making quite a few purchases (because #vacay right?) and stopping for a quick lunch along the way. Since Commons Park was at the end of the mall, we walked down there to look at the city and snap a few photos. In the afternoon, we Ubered down to the North Broadway/6th Ave area where there are a lot of thrift stores. Before going to Denver, almost all of our family and friends told us we had to check out the thrift stores (if you want to see what I bought, keep an eye out for my October Favorites post, going up tomorrow) where I found a ton of super cute things. We also stumbled upon an 80s costume store that had all the little toys and knick-knacks I used to have/play with when I was younger, so of course I had to pick out some of those goodies. By 5pm, we were deliriously tired (since we flew overnight and landed at 8am that morning), so we picked up food for dinner and headed home for the night, passing out for a solid 12 hours.

The next day we decided to head up to Boulder for the day. So we made our way to Union Station, which was absolutely beautiful, to grab a pastry and some coffee before we left. We decided to take the bus, which was $10.50 for a round-trip to Boulder which took about 50 minutes each way. It was so easy and inexpensive, so I highly recommend doing that. That day was a Sunday, so we were hoping to find a farmers market or something, but what we found was even more special. It happened to be Indigenous People’s Day, so there was a market and a small celebration of Native people celebrating, which we were lucky enough to be a part of for a little bit. There were little stalls set up selling jewelry, home decor and clothing, so I picked up a few pairs of beautiful earrings. After that we stopped for lunch and spent the rest of the afternoon shopping for anything and everything. The boutiques and stores lining Pearl Street Mall were stocked up with so much goodness, that by the end of the day we had our arms full of bags. At 5, we were ready to head back so we grabbed a coffee to go and jumped back on the bus back to Denver, where we stopped for dinner before going back for the night.

Our third day we didn’t really have much of a plan, but we started our morning by grabbing coffee at a neighborhood coffee shop and walking across the street to City Park, where we spent an hour soaking in the Denver sun and taking lot’s of photos. After that, we were hungry and ready for brunch so decided we had to try Snooze at least once during the trip, so we hopped in an Uber and went over. The line was about 40 minutes long, but it was SO worth the wait (check out the next section to see what we ate). By the time we were done with brunch we were absolutely stuffed and wanted to walk it off, so we wandered down Larimer Square before starting our walk over to the Botanic Gardens. To be honest, we got super lost on our way there and ended up walking for about two hours, but we finally made it to the area around the Gardens, so we looked around there a bit before deciding to walk over to Cherry Creek Shopping Center, a super cute, quaint mall. We spent a couple hours popping into some of my favorite stores and picking up a few things. For dinner we had plans to meet some friends, so we met up with them and spent a fun night together.

On our last day, we decided that we HAD to go back to Snooze, so after finishing up our last minute packing, we Ubered over for our last brunch. We tried different things than we had the morning before, and it only reaffirmed that it was one of the best brunch places I had ever been. After being stuffed, again, we walked around the downtown area once more before flying back to LA. We walked through Larimer Square again and past Coors Field. We popped back into a few stores that we had missed the last few days and picked up some smaller souvenirs to take home. Knowing we needed to get to the airport by later-afternoon to make our flight, we walked back down Colfax Ave while going back into the boutiques, bookstores and stores we had passed on the first day. Before getting back to our Airbnb, we grabbed some Greek food to go and hopped in an Uber to the airport.

What we ate

Voodoo Donut-After doing some research on the area we were staying in, I found a Voodoo right down the street from us and knew that we were going to have to try a few. We stumbled upon it while walking around on the first morning and Denver and stopped to get a little treat for the morning. I got two donut, a chocolate coconut and a big Oreo, peanut butter and caramel donut which was probably the best donut I’ve ever had in my life. Anyone who knows me knows I’m in love with donuts, especially big loaded ones, so I was so excited to finally try it. They are loaded with toppings but without being too sweet or oily, which made them even better. We went back on our last day to pick up a few more for the road, so I tried a pumpkin spice canolo (a half canoli, half donut type thing) and another coconut-y donut, both of which were amazing.

Snooze AM Eatery– We didn’t make a whole lot of plans for what to do in Denver, but Snooze was the one place I knew we had to try. It popped up on every Denver travel/food guide and looked incredible. On the third morning, we Ubered over to Snooze and waited around 40 minutes for a table before sitting down and getting our food ordered. I usually don’t like waiting (I’m the most impatient person I know), but this was 100% worth the wait. We both ordered Eggs Benedict (I got one with prosciutto, a balsamic glaze and white cheddar Hollandaise and another with avocado and tomato) and shared a plate of three pancakes (sweet potato, maple-pecan, and blueberry lemon) and we ate EVERYTHING. The Eggs Benedict were so different (in the best way possible) and the pancakes were hands down the best pancakes I’d ever had. It was so good that we ended up back there the next morning, this time ordering completely different stuff. I went for the breakfast pot pie with an egg on top, a bacon-infused Bloody Mary (the best I’ve ever had) and we also shared a plate of coconut, strawberry french toast (which was possibly also the best french toast I’d ever had). All of the hype around Snooze did not disappoint, it’s an absolute must if you’re ever un Denver!

Sherpa’s Restaurant– Our day in Boulder was made even better by stumbling upon the cutest Himalayan cuisine restaurant called Sherpa’s. We walked past the restaurant which had the most adorable patio dining area and knew we had to stop there for lunch. It was so different from the places we had seen in Denver and Boulder so far, so were excited to try something new. We ordered the Chicken Korma and the Tibetan pan-fried noodles with a side of garlic naan, and it was delicious. Everything was so flavorful and reminded me of true home-cooking, which was much appreciated while traveling. I also ordered a hot chai latte, which was their homemade recipe, to go with lunch. I’m such a chai lover, and this was hands-down the best chai I’d ever had. It was so spicy and just slightly sweetened and was perfect for a cool, fall day. The people at the restaurant were so sweet and friendly and put the meal over the top.

Little Man Ice Cream– After meeting up with some friends for dinner one night, they took us to Little Man Ice Cream. It was super packed (especially for a Monday night) so we stood in line for a while before ordering our ice cream. I went for the Salted Maple Pecan, and it was amazing. I like ice cream, but I’m much more of a donut-kinda girl, but this was ice cream I’d wait in a long line for. It was so creamy and the perfect balance of salty and sweet which I love in a treat. The location was also super cute with all the fall-vibes. There was a little slide and haystacks and pumpkins all over the place, making it a pseudo-pumpkin patch. It was such a great place to end a cozy fall evening with friends.

What I wore

One of the things I was most excited for in Denver was the fall weather. It had been super hot in LA all month, so I was excited to get some cooler sweater weather, and I knew I had to use to my advantage.

‘Vivienne’ Black Sunglasses from Quay– I got these black aviators in one of my FabFitFun boxes last year and they’ve been my go-to’s this fall. They’re super comfortable and go well with any outfit. They’re really easy to wear and fold up pretty thin making them really easy to pack and carry around as well.

Rose Gold Wildgo Sunglasses– My other favorite pair of sunglasses are these rose gold one’s from Wildgo that I found this summer in Barcelona. They are also super comfy and easy to wear, so I’ve been wearing them a ton, especially over the summer, and am so glad I had them to go with some fun outfits in Denver.

White Long Coat- I found this at a random thrift store so I don’t have a link for it, but it’s one of the pieces I’m most excited to wear this fall/winter season. It’s a great staple to have in your closet that can be worn over almost anything. I love throwing it on when I’m trying to be a little dressier, but it’s also easy to wear on a day-to-day basis.

White Denim Jacket– A white jean jacket is such a great staple for a fall wardrobe. It keeps you really worn and, again, can be thrown on over any outfit. I wore mine in Denver over mom jeans and a pink t-shirt and it kept me warm and looking cute all day long.

H&M Skinny Jeans– I have these in almost every color and wear them all the time during the fall. They’re super comfy and soft and also fold up really small so they’re easy to pack. I can wear them in the fall and winter without being too cold as well, so they’re a great piece to travel with.

Longchamp Le Pliage Backpack in Pink- I got this backpack last year for Christmas and it has been my go-to travel bag. I love using a backpack when traveling so that I don’t have to carry anything in my hands and this is the perfect one. Like all Longchamp bags, it folds up into a perfect little rectangle so is easy to pack, but it actually fits a lot (I’m able to fit my camera, wallet, phone, gloves/beenie and passport in it without an issue).

Louis Vuitton Monogram Neverfull– I, very luckily, got this as a hand-me-down from my mom and it’s one of my all-time favorite bags. It’s such a beautiful piece that can be worn during any season and is amazing to travel with. It’s so light to carry but really is never full. It’s definitely a piece that you would save up for and work towards, but if you ever are able to, it’s such a special bag to have and use.

Prada Black Bumbag– Bumbags are all the hype right now and for a good reason. It was so easy to throw this on before heading out for the day and not having to worry about carrying anything. I threw my credit cards, keys and phone into it and had it right in front of me the whole time with easy access.

Adidas Sleek Sneakers in Periwinkle– These have been my all-time favorite shoes since I got them at the end of the summer. They’re so comfortable to walk around in all day (like I would walk between 20,000 and 30,000 steps in these without any issue) and go so well with any outfit. They have them in quite a few colors, but I think the periwinkle is just so beautiful and adds a statement too your outfit without being too much.

Lele Sadoughi Silver Circle necklace– I’ve been in love with this piece of jewelry since I got it in one of my FabFitFun boxes, and it’s been one of my go-to necklaces that I rotate throughout the week. This is also the necklace that I always take with me when I travel because, again, it goes so well with any outfit so I don’t have to pack too many pieces. It’s such a beautiful piece that looks beautiful on anyone.

MONTENEGRO Travel Diary

KOTOR

Montenegro was never a place that crossed my mind as somewhere I wanted to go, but I’m so glad I did. The views, the food, the people were all so amazing and made it a place that I can’t wait to visit again. After looking at pictures, I was expecting Kotor to be blue, green and very pretty, but it exceeded those expectations. It’s one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever visited, and I truly mean that. The beautiful was as deep in color as the Santorini water, but a little more turquoise, reflecting the green hills surrounding the bay. There was just a natural, serene beauty to the town that I don’t think I’ll ever be able to put into words. I was genuinely awe-struck, and there’s not many times that that’s happened to me.

The port of Kotor was filled with yachts and sail boats, big and small, all shaded by the mountains around it. One morning we drove up to the top of one of the mountains to get a picture-perfect view of Kotor Bay, which was absolutely breathtaking. There was nothing but blue water, green trees and scattered terra-cotta colored rooftops that could be seen. The bay was almost fully enclosed by surrounding mountains. A 30 minute drive to the old town of Perast along the coastline was a great way to see more of the city. Filled with AirBnBs and boutique hotels, we spent the ride talking about when we could visit again next. We walked around Perast for a few hours, admiring all the small boats and yachts that people were sailing around the water. Piers were filled with locals and tourists laying out on towels, enjoying the summer. Waterfront hotels had lined lounge chairs along the piers where even more tourists were out under the sun. A mid-morning break called for local unfiltered beer which was, surprisingly, really good.

Another highlight from Kotor was spending an afternoon in the down-town area, the cutest little square. The city center is contained by old, brick walls, a historic way to protect. We spent time looking around the stores and shopping for souvenirs and gifts from the unique destination. We bought so many things to remember the trip, from snow globes to stickers and Christmas ornaments. After walking up an appetite, we were ready for lunch and a short break. Wanting to find local foods and dishes, we found a local restaurant hidden in the backstreets where we ordered a selection of local cured meats and cheeses. Sipping on glasses of wines and cocktails, we enjoyed every bite of the local delicacies. Everything from prosciutto to salamis and cow’s milk and goat’s milk cheese were incredibly delicious.

Not knowing much about Montenegro or Kotor, we were so surprised by how much we loved it. Like I said before, everything about it was amazing. The moment we got there we were flocked by tour guides and car drivers ‘selling’ their tours and drivers to us. We decided to hire a driver one morning to drive us everywhere, and I’m so glad we did. We typically like to explore new places on our own and do everything on our own schedule, but this time it worked out so well. Our driver was so sweet and knowledgable about Kotor. He was simply a driver but was able to explain everything about his home city. He took us everywhere we wanted to go and gave us time where we wanted it. If you’re ever in Kotor, I would highly suggest hiring a driver or tour guide at least for part of one of the days you’re visiting the beautiful city.

I could say this until I’m blue in the face, but Kotor was such a surprise and I can’t be more grateful that I was able to visit. If it’s not on your list, it really should be. Now onto Italy!

GREECE Travel Diary

The first of four travel guides to come. First stop- GREECE!

ATHENS

Marking the beginning of our three week trip, we landed at the Athens airport in the wee hours of the morning before hopping in a short cab ride to our AirBnB in Kolonaki, which was an amazing place to stay. Right in the middle of the local hustle and bustle of the city, but not too far from any of the things anyone would want to do. We spent our mornings trying out different neighborhood coffee shops for breakfast drinking Freddo Cappucinnos (Greek iced lattes) and having different kinds of pastries and sandwiches. During the days, we walked around the Syntagma Square/Ermou Street area where there are tons of high fashion stores and boutiques. Right at the entrance to that area is Parliament where we watched the changing of the guard (takes place every hour). One day we walked a little further down Ermou Street to reach the Plaka area which was a bit more touristy, but filled with lot’s of cute little stores filled with everything and anything Greek. We did a bit of shopping around there to get some souvenirs including evil eye keychains, bracelets and red wine soap. We would often grab lunch back around the Ermou area and share some combination of Greek salad, souvlaki or gyros, spanakopita, and moussaka with a cold glass of 1.50 euro wine, no better way to spend your days.

We also had drinks a couple of times at the rooftop bar of the Grande Bretagne Hotel in Syntagma Square. The drinks are a bit on the pricier side, but it’s accompanied by the most stunning view of Athens and the Parthenon so it’s well worth it. And speaking of the Parthenon, we also spent half a day at the Acropolis (quick tip: buy your tickets online ahead of time to avoid lines). It was beautifully sunny with very few clouds scattered in the sky making for a perfect day. Although it was crowded, it didn’t make the experience any less special. We had visited Athens and the Parthenon in 2006 and I had very few memories of that so it was fun to be able to see the wonder again. Our last adventure in Athens before moving on was up to Lykavittos, the highest point in Athens. We took a little cable car up to the top and enjoyed a glass of coffee accompanied by a stunning panoramic view of the city. Lykavittos is also known as Mount Lycabettus who’s peak sits around 300 meters above sea level, making it arguably the best view of Athens. It was a beautiful way to start our last morning in Athens before heading onto Santorini.

For dinners, we tried to mix it up every night. Dexameni’s is an establishment that has been around forever. Located at the bottom of Lykavittos, it’s scattered tables sit sprawled out on a hill. For our dinner there we ordered a bunch of small dishes to share including a tomato salad, taramasalata and roasted potatoes. It was such a fun atmosphere with good food. Another one of our favorites was the Stinking Bishop which had some funky fusion dishes and a great bar. Although a bit on the pricier side, very worth it. But our favorite had to be Zurbaran which serves Greek food with a modern twist. A swanky bar, a picturesque terrarium-like dining section and bustling outdoor seating, it was hands down our best meals (we actually ended up going twice) in Athens .

Favorite Restaurants: Dexameni, Zurbaran, Stinking Bishop, Le Grande Bretagne Rooftop Bar (for happy hour).

SANTORINI

As beautiful as I had painted Santorini to be in my head, it was even more beautiful in person. We took a boat into Santorini and I was instantly in awe of the natural beauty of the island. The water was a deep, royal blue, glistening and sparkling as it reflected the sun. I had dreamed of visiting this magical place ever since I can remember, and it’s incredible how much it exceeded my expectations. People were so incredibly friendly and seemed genuinely happy to help and serve us. There seemed to be a natural light in everyone’s eyes and everyone’s spirit was as warm and welcoming as the Santorini sun. The overwhelming sense of bright blue just made my eyes glisten with joy and was paired so well with all of the sparkling white buildings. See, just like you’d imagine it to be.

We took a little bumboat from the one side of the Island over to Oia, to explore that area. Again, in awe of the stunning water. After walking up to the top of Oia, we basked in the sun and took hundreds of photos of the photogenic scenery. Mid-morning coffee/cocktail (we were on vacation, it was always happy hour!) pit-stops filled with Aperol Spritz’s and iced coffees made mornings even more serene. After hours of walking down the pebbles sidewalks, we had always worked up an appetite. 218 Cafe was one of our favorites, serving local, Greek food with a perfect balcony view of the ocean and parts of Oia. We sat forever eating all grilled octopus, stuffed squid, pita and hummus we could, simply in awe of the setting we were in. The Teleferic (cable car) down from the top to the waterfront is an absolute must-do, no matter how long the line is (trust me- I hate lines but this was well worth the wait). It’s about a ten minute ride with an incredible view of the whole island and ocean from the sides and bottom of the cable car. As sad as it was to leave, the trip was incredible and made for infinite memories.  Santorini was an absolute dream and I cannot wait to be back again soon!

Favorite Restaurant: 218 Cafe & Restaurant

Now on to Montenegro!

*200 Posts* Looking Back

Wow, here we are, 4 years and 200 posts later. I’m going to try not to make this too mushy, but I’m truly amazed, proud, in-awe, and every other positive adjective of myself, this blog and all the places it’s gone. When I first started I was a bored high school student sitting in a class I really didn’t care about. I didn’t know who I was and I was desperately looking for answers. Swimming, school, friends, family, I didn’t know what my true life’s purpose was. And it surely wasn’t to just float through life doing whatever, I needed a purpose. The driving force to get me going. I started writing about things I enjoyed: food, fitness, travel, body image. I wrote for myself. But suddenly I realized the power that I had with my words, the power this platform I created had. People started coming up to me at school, “hey, I read your blog post the other day on body image and it was so inspiring”, “you’re blog post on those Singapore brunch spots was awesome and I tried a bunch out”. I was reaching people, people were reading my blogs. That’s when writing about things I enjoyed or cared about became my passion. It wasn’t about putting on this front that everyone would like, it was about sharing my story, my journey and my experiences while promoting what I cared about, kindness, self love and positivity. No matter what I’m writing about, how old I get or where I am in the world, those three things will always be where I’m rooted, and those three things will always be where SwimEatLove is rooted. I’m beyond grateful everything this blog has given me. It’s connected me to some of the most incredible and inspiring people, allowed me a creative outlet to express myself without any limits, and it’s given me purpose. So while I’ve now hit this milestone of 200 posts, there’s no slowing down. I want to share my story, be open, honest and vulnerable as long as I possibly can.

So to celebrate, I thought my 200th post would be a look back on the last 4 years, the posts I’ve loved, the ones you’ve loved and a bunch of others in between.

It all started with me sharing my love for swimming, the good, the bad and the ugly. Butterfly or Butterdie “When you are floating there in the water desperately trying to grab onto the lane line, is when it hits you. You are gasping for air and using the lane line to keep you above the water, while also trying to rip your super tight goggles and cap(s) off your head.”

I’ve shared photos through Life Through A Lens to give you all a little peak into my life. I’ve shared my love for food through my Food Adventures from around the world and many recipes I’ve come up with myself (some heart healthy, some healthy for your soul).

I began to share my journey to self-love, although a hard one. The ‘Perfect’ Self. “It blows my mind that I can pick up a magazine with the header “The New Plus-Sized Model”, flip it open and see a gorgeous woman wearing size 8 clothes. As a society, we have painted a picture of what the ‘perfect’ woman looks like; long skinny legs, a flat stomach, thin arms, and narrow hips.”

When I traveled, you traveled. You came with me around the world; Thailand, Paris, Korea, Japan, New Zealand, Cambodia, California and so many more. My adventures became your adventures and I loved that. I shared my journeys in those places and also what it took to get there. Holiday Travel Tips. “As this post is going up, I’m in an Uber on the way to LAX ready to hop on a plane and head back to see my family for the holidays. Since traveling is something that almost everyone does during the holidays in one way or another, I thought I would share my holiday travel guide/tips for today’s post. I’ve done some other “travel tips” posts in the past (be sure to check those out!), but this one will be my updated one specifically for the holidays. Enjoy and happy traveling! xx”

I found myself becoming interested in new and different things, and I shared that with you. Never thought I’d be a little fashion guru. Natural Glam- “No Makeup” Look. “Good morning lovelies! Now that it’s back to school and work, there’s a lot of 5 minute, easy makeup looks going on. Today I thought I’d share my natural, go-to no-makeup look with you all. I wasn’t always a ‘wear makeup to school’ kind of gal, but lately I’ve found that it helps me feel put together and ready for the day. Having basic makeup done makes me feel like I’ve made an effort for not only people around me, but myself as well. For me, natural looks are all about keeping your skin healthy and glowy while still covering up all the imperfections.”

And along with fashion, I’ve become obsessed with beauty, as well as all things summer and the beach but we already knew that. Summer Beauty. “It’s finally that time of the year where we’re all whipping out our bikinis/suits and headed to spend time at the beach, the lake or even just by the pool, soaking in every ounce of sunlight in hopes to get that perfectly sun-kissed skin. Today’s post is going to be all of my summer beauty tips and go-to’s to get you looking fresh, relaxed and glowing. Under each section I have linked some of the products I have been loving this summer.”

I shared by true and lasting love of my beautiful island of Singapore with you. Mega Guide to Singapore. “Planning on visiting Singapore or always wanting to visit? These are my top 10 things to do in Singapore. It may only be 31 miles wide and 17 miles long, but the beautiful island is PACKED with fun things to do!”

For two years now, I’ve brought you into my life during the holidays. Trying to share my profound love for Christmas and the season, 12 Days of Christmas has allowed me to do so. Christmas Tag. “Red or green – which color occupies your life during Christmas? Red, and red glitter. What’s your favorite Christmas accessory? Gold hoops. Do you buy presents or try DIYs? Buy presents, but I love putting together gift baskets/sets. Chocolate, Strawberry, or Vanilla – what do you prefer the most during Christmas? None of them… everything PEPPERMINT! What is your favorite Christmas slogan? Be naughty, save Santa the trip;)”

And what I’m most proud of is how open I’ve been about the hardest parts of my life. Sharing about my struggle with an eating disorder with you all was the hardest decision, but the best decision I ever made. As scary as it was, the number of people who reached out thanking me for trying to break the stigma was life-changing, and I don’t say that lightly. It was become a big part of my life and will stay with me forever, even way after recovery. That’s what this blog has been about, helping others feel less alone. Mental Health Moments are a way to make sure that this important conversation is being had. If no one else will talk about it, I sure as hell will. To My Eating Disorder… “Today is National Love Your Body Day, and while I try to preach and live by the idea of self-love, I’ve been struggling with this by a battling with an eating disorder. It’s not something a lot of people talk about, and it’s not something a lot of people talk about publicly. But I’m ready to break that mold. The scariest thing about this whole battle has been feeling alone in my fight. But I know I’m not the only one. I’m here telling my story with hopes that it can help others out there feel a little less alone. I’m not posting this looking for pity or attention, I’m posting this because reading other peoples stories was such a big part of the start of my recovery. If this can help even just one person feel a little less alone, then it’s worth it.”

How crazy is that, 200 posts. And guess what, I already see 400 on the horizon.

Much love always, Aime.