travel couple

How Figure Skating Changed our Lives

Life is crazy, isn’t it? I think that to myself nearly every day when I analyze our lives. I got in a black hole of thoughts the other day wondering how someone from Brazil ended up living in Fresno, California, married and developing a business with my husband that I never thought I would even be apart of.

After tracking back through images in my head I realized that there has been one thing, literally one thing, that changed my life forever. And that thing was figure skating. When I first started skating I was really afraid of everything. Afraid of falling, of speed, of getting out of my comfort zone. As the years went by it was easy to realize that in skating (just like in life), if you don’t fall, you simply don’t learn. And it might hurt sometimes, believe me, it did, but that’s the only way you grow and get better.

Figure skating was my obsession and all I wanted was to work with it. But being from Brazil, where our ice rink is barely an ice rink and skating isn’t so popular, that seemed almost impossible. I said almost.

In 2012 I joined tour and started traveling the world with Disney On Ice, and that changed my life in so many ways. I always knew I was passionate about skating and performing. What I didn’t know was that I was also about to fall in love hard with traveling. I remember when I was 16 years old my mom would always ask me if I had any interest in studying abroad and I would always say no. My travel bug was dormant.

Then, I started dating Stephan and his travel bug was literally on steroids!!! We had to do and see as much as we could all the time. I’ll tell you, I was so exhausted but so happy.

I wouldn’t have met him if it wasn’t for figure skating. And the same goes for him. If he didn’t randomly start skating at the age of 12, an age where most of the boys are playing soccer, American football or hockey, he would never have met me. Maybe he wouldn’t have traveled the world even, who knows?

I guess my point here is, everything happens for a reason. We definitely wouldn’t be the people we are now if it wasn’t for this beautiful sport. Husband and wife, best friends, skating and business partners, travel buddies, and just two people with an immense desire to live. Our happiness formula is pretty simple: doing something we love and making time for traveling.

CLICK HERE to see our full video skating together in Brazil last year.

Want to know a little more about our crazy life story? Just click here.

A Magical Place Called Yosemite

First time at Yosemite together, hiking to Vernal Falls!

First time at Yosemite together, hiking to Vernal Falls!

There is no place in this world like Yosemite. After traveling around the globe on tour with Disney On Ice, Stephan and I landed in Fresno and have been taking advantage of being so close to the park nearly every week. Going up there for half a day, either sunrise or sunset is so refreshing. The moment you enter the Valley is like being in a movie.

We’ve been there countless times and there are still so many moments that continue to take our breath away. Driving out of the tunnel into Tunnel View, seeing Bridal Veil Waterfall on the right and El Cap in front of you as you’re driving in, will never get old. I’m originally from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, a pretty incredible city I have to say, where you’re constantly spoiled with beautiful mountains, forests, beaches and all sorts of different landscapes all over. And still, Yosemite takes my breath away.

The first time I ever visited this place Stephan and I had just started dating. I never thought back then that two years later I would be packing my things in two suitcases, moving from Rio to Fresno and getting married. I never thought when we had our engagement pictures done at the park that, a few months later, we would be taking couples up there and capturing their love ourselves. Life is full of turns, isn’t it?

We went from Disney On Ice skaters to wedding photographers, and that still blows my mind. Whenever we miss the constant traveling we make time out of our week to drive to Yosemite, and it’s amazing what getting out of the city can do. We breath fresh air, take beautiful pictures, feel good and recharged. It’s a habit that helps us get away from the routine and stay motivated running our own business.

Yosemite holds a special place in our hearts and we will never take it for granted living only two hours away from it. If you have a place like this in your life, or a habit that makes you feel good, do it. Make time for it, get your batteries recharged from all the hustle.

I have been to 44 countries, and Stephan to 71, and yet, Yosemite National Park never ceases to amaze us.

How We Fell In Love With Myanmar

Balloons Over Bagan - one of the best experiences we’ve had in life was to watch baloons fly over 2,000 temples while the sun was rising.

Balloons Over Bagan - one of the best experiences we’ve had in life was to watch baloons fly over 2,000 temples while the sun was rising.

Myanmar, a country that was never in my radar of places to go. Never on my list, top five or even top ten. But Stephan, like always, convinced me we had to travel there. Sometimes when he has an idea, I’m not gonna lie, I’m not so sure about it. But then I usually get on board at some point because he has proven to be the best world explorer and travel buddy I could have asked for!

So anyways, Myanmar... where to even start? We headed there after a busy week of shows in Bangkok, both had been pretty sick and both were beyond exhausted. The thought of getting on a plane early in the morning and landing in a country we had no idea about wasn’t very appealing honestly. But since we always push each other, we did it.

We woke up at the crack of dawn, flew to Mandalay and took a shuttle to Bagan. A shuttle that by the way, we had booked online but had no confirmation email and no clue if the driver was actually gonna show up. Well, he did, and he was the nicest guy. He helped us get sim cards at the airport and drove us all the way to Bagan, our first stop in this country that was about to become one of our favorites.

Over the next ten days, we learned so much about their culture, saw so many beautiful things and ate the most amazing food. We rode our scooter through the 2,000 temples in Bagan, spent days on a boat exploring Inle Lake, woke up way too early to catch all of the sunrises and had a blast. I can’t even imagine how much regret we would have felt if we had cancelled the trip just because we were overtired and sick.

By pushing ourselves we learned, once again, to never let doubt or fear of being uncomfortable to stop you from doing something, from going to a new place. The rewards that come from getting out of your comfort zone are huge.

I'm not usually one for quotes and all but this one has been leading our lives for a while:

Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer
— unknown

Santa Barbara Guide – Coffee & Food

It’s pretty impossible not to fall in love with Santa Barbara. I went with a friend for the first time last month and I couldn’t wait to be back and show Stephan around! I was so excited because believe me, it’s really rare that we go to a place that he hasn’t been before!

When we were traveling the world I would always tell Stephan that if I had one wish in life it would be that I could try all the food in a city and drink all the coffee in the world without feeling awful after. Trying local foods and going to local coffee shops was always part of our sightseeing schedule. In Santa Barbara, you can spend hours wandering around the famous State Street and smelling all of the smells coming from many restaurants around, so it can be hard to make a choice. Here is a list I made of our top favorite places to help you out!

  • Brazil Arts Café

I know, I know, I’m biased. But this is my favorite Brazilian restaurant in the states! When we were on tour I would occasionally find Brazilian restaurants here and there, but Brazil Arts Café won my heart and stomach. It has all of the best Brazilian dishes, sides, fresh juices, açaí bowls, and the list goes on... If you go make sure to get their pão de queijo (best I’ve had in the states) and acerola juice (a Brazilian berry you can’t find here, packed with Vitamin C). Besides the amazing food, it has such a cool atmosphere, you have to go check it out, even if you’re not Brazilian! Click here for the Menu.

  • Handlebar Coffee Roasters

Are you a coffee enthusiast? Welcome to the club. Stephan and I basically plan our trips around the coffee shops we have to visit. When we thought about taking a trip to Santa Barbara months ago I had already looked up coffee shops and saved this one on my maps. We finally made it there and let me tell you, it did not disappoint. We always just drink black coffee, which is pretty simple I know, but this was one of the best americanos I’ve had in a while. So smooth that was dangerous, we could’ve had two or three cups each! Check out this coffee shop.

  • The French Press

Another great coffee shop! Awesome baristas, lovely decoration and plenty of tables. We rarely take coffee to go, so we love when a coffee shop has lots of tables and you don’t have to wonder if you’ll be able to sit and enjoy your coffee. They serve Dune Coffee, an amazing roasting company. This one is right on State Street, you can sit outside, enjoy a good coffee and watch people (and dogs, so many dogs!) walk by.

  • Savoy Café & Deli

On a Saturday night, I thought everything would be super crowded for dinner, and then I found this place, just a little away from State Street. They had plenty of healthy options which it was what I was looking for. Their quiches and salads looked so good that I couldn’t pick, so I asked them to pick for me! They made me a plate with broccoli and cheddar quiche and the best strawberry salad I’ve had! Inexpensive, simple and amazing tastes, is usually what makes my stomach happy! I enjoyed my dinner while reading my book and listening to an awesome live band playing. And that’s what I call a good Saturday night. Check out this restaurant!

  • Public Market

We did not end up eating at the Public Market, but the smells there were amazing! There were lots of vendors selling a variety of foods from cookie dough balls, organic ice cream, to Mediterranean and Mexican food. Everything looked delicious! And even though we didn’t try the food I decided to put it on the list because the walk there was so pleasant. There were so many cute and hidden corners, lots of beautiful staircases, walls covered with flowers and more. I couldn’t stop taking pictures and it took me way longer than it should have to get to the market! So even if you’re not gonna eat there it’s worth the visit!

Santa Barbara won my heart and my belly. I don’t know when it will be, but I already can’t wait to be back to this city!

On the way to the Public Market. Santa Barbara is full of cute corners and photo options!

On the way to the Public Market. Santa Barbara is full of cute corners and photo options!

Our Top 3 Favorite Cities in the US

Everytime I think about a topic for a travel blog post my mind always goes international. I’m always thinking I should write about somewhere really far, like Asia or South America. And then I remember that there is SO MUCH to do in the US, and that Stephan and I have travelled all over this country several times and we rarely talk about that!

So I thought, nothing more appropriate for this 4th of July than sharing what’s on the top of our list when it comes to cities in the United States.

1 – San Francisco, California

Marshall’s Beach, at Sunset.

Marshall’s Beach, at Sunset.

So predictable, I know, but I can’t help it. I absolutely love San Francisco. I’m from Rio, a city where everyone walks, or takes the subway or the bus. Cars are welcomed and nice to have but not necessary. So whenever I’m in a city in the States where you can actually walk around and see people doing the same, I get really happy.

There is something to say about walking cities, the streets have energy, color and life! And that might be one of the things I miss the most living in Fresno, you need a car to go basically anywhere!

So I mean yeah, the Golden Gate Bridge is amazing, the whole city is photogenic and there’s a million things to do there, but my favorite thing about San Francisco is just being there. Just walking all day, up and down those crazy steep hills till your legs can’t walk anymore, makes me really happy!

 

2 – Austin, Texas

Hamilton Pool Preserve. Pro tip: go on a weekday.

Hamilton Pool Preserve. Pro tip: go on a weekday.

Fun fact, going to Austin was actually our first side trip as a couple! We had just started dating and our show was playing Houston, but we had a couple of days off, so we decided to rent a car and spend our days in Austin. Yay for good decisions!

We had heard that Austin was fun, different, corky and that had some of the best restaurants in the country. Well, all of those rumors were true. We had some of the most tasty food ever, from a nice restaurant for a date night to a single slice of pizza at a Brewery, everything I ate I said it was the best I ever had!

If I had to give recommendations, one would be to go to Hamilton Pool, which is a bit far from the city but worth the drive. And another would be to have dinner at Moonshine Grill. I ordered Mac&Cheese, simply. It was the best Mac&Cheese I ever had. Other than that, you make your own script, find restaurants, breweries or coffee shops that appeal to you and you won’t be disapointed.

 

3 – Savannah, Georgia

Photo Credit :   Stephan Alvin Photography

This one was not on my list because unfortunatelly I’ve never been, but it’s one of Stephan’s favorite cities so he made sure I would write about it. He said the whole city seems to be covered in old trees with hanging moss, which made every street very photogenic. Walking around you see that every block has a little park square, breaking up that urban feel.

I kept asking him what he liked the most and he said “the houses were big and old. In a good way”. Then he explained himself and elaborated a little more saying that every house had a pretty unique style and that you could tell there was history behind every wall! Guys, there is a reason why I write this blog, not him.

Anyways, happy 4th of July everyone! Enjoy your family and friends, bbq and fireworks and be safe!

I’m working on a Myanmar post and I can’t wait to share some of our adventures in that amazing country, but I’ll try to post more about travels within the US as well.

Honeymoon Destination Ideas, on a budget!

Stephan and I have been a lot of places, and 98% of the times we managed to see a lot and still stay on a budget. You really don’t have to be rich to travel, and once you learn that, it changes your life. We have a few favorite places to share and a few tips on how to go to these places without spending a huge amount of money.

 

1.       Thailand

Certainly one of our favorite countries, Thailand is an amazing place. You can either make yourself exhausted each day with things to do, or you can simply relax on beautiful beaches. We kind of alternated in between those two options! We spent most of our time there getting scuba diving certified in this island called Koh Tao, and you really can’t find a cheaper place in the world to do that. With plenty of affordable hotels and delicious local restaurants everywhere, we had the most amazing 12 days in that little island. We had a 3 star hotel, super clean, walking distance to the beach and restaurants, and it only costed us about $20 a night. Not joking. We ate at local restaurants everyday and spent about $3 or $4 on our meals, which were either different types of Curry or Pad Thai and no, we did not get sick of eating the same thing all the time!

2.       Vietnam

With culture exploding in every corner and so many things to do, I wouldn’t say Vietnam is a good option if all you want to do is relax. If you want to explore and get to know a new place and experience somewhere completely outside of your comfort zone... go for it! We had a total of two weeks in the country and we wish we had more time! We managed to go to Hanoi, Halong Bay, Hoi An and Ho Chi Minn City and had a blast. Even more inexpensive than Thailand, you get to stay in really nice hotels and experience the local cuisine all the time for hardly any money.

3.       Croatia

If you’re feeling that Europe is a better choice for your honeymoon destination but you’re worried about the cost, head over to the Eastern side of Europe! We spent 3 and half weeks backpacking through Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Albania and Cyprus and couldn’t have been happier with our choice. We managed to fit all of those countries in our schedule, but if we could only pick one I would have picked Croatia! There was so much to do and, again, you can alternate in between sightseeing through the streets of Dubrovink or relaxing on beautiful islands and beaches. We stayed in apartments (booked through booking.com), had amazing hosts, and I swear we didn’t spend more than 50 euros a night!

4.       New Zealand

Okay. This one isn’t so much on budget when you compared to the other ones. But is so worth it! If you go during the winter, June till August, all the prices are way lower because that’s their off season. Get yourself a nice camper van (we recommend Britz) and just drive around. We spent 10 days driving through the South Island and again, we didn’t wanna leave. There’s beauty absolutely everywhere, it’s like being in a movie. We cooked all of our meals, either inside our van or in the campsite kitchens (they were amazing), so that saved us a lot of money that we could have spent eating out!

 

Fun fact: we got married November 2018 and have not done a honeymoon yet. But we will. And we’re planning to explore Central America! It’s hard to pick a place when your husband has been to 71 countries and we want to see somewhere new! But both of us haven’t been to Honduras, Costa Rica or Belize, and they are all on the top of our list!

PS. I’m aware that for most of our travels we were already working in the continent or even in the country, so we never really had to factor the flight cost. But if you make sure to fly from a major city to another major city and check everyday for good deals, you can find round trip flights from LA to Bangkok for example for like $480. Let’s be honest, you can barely go anywhere inside the United States for that price, so.. choose wisely ;)