Sunday, March 19, 2023

Poland: Final Post

This will be the final post of my Poland adventure. I came for work and also did some exploring. It was a great trip. 

My impressions and observations:
  • Polish people are very kind
  • The food is good. Lots of potatoes. 
  • The architecture in Krakow is beautiful
  • The history of Poland is difficult but rich and important
  • The cost of things is reasonable 
  • Krakow feels very safe
  • There are no pedestrian crossing lights in Krakow. When they see you at a crosswalk all traffic stops. You cannot stand on the sidewalk and wait for them to pass; they will stop for you. 
  • Lots of men look like Ukraine President Zelenskyy, especially when dressed in army green
  • Polish people walk super fast
  • My Cora dress and Moto jacket, with tights, is a great work outfit. 

I’m collecting Delta trading cards you get from the pilots. If anyone has something they want to trade hit me up!

Final stats: 
- Three countries: United States, Amsterdam, Poland
- New Country: Poland (#27)
- Miles flew: 12,474
- Miles walked: 46.77 (4.67 mi/day)
- Workshops for work completed: Five (5)
- Page views: 253,455

Here is my Polarsteps overview:

To my new wooly friends, welcome. I only post when I travel so I will see you on my next adventure!

Safe and happy travels everyone! Rae Ann

Friday, March 17, 2023

Poland Day 9: Zakopane

I had a free day before flying back and a local team member suggested I visit Zakopane and take the cable car to the top of Kasprowy Wierch. It was amazing! 

I woke early to grab a 6:30am bus from Krakow to Zakopane, which took 2.5 hours. The morning walk to the bus station was lovely. 

I purchased tickets for the cable car the night previously, as was suggested, due to the long queues. Since I had a couple hours to kill I walked the two miles up the hill. It was exhausting. Along the way I picked up a oscypek. When I saw the cart it looked like bread, which I love. But when I bit into it I realized it was all cheese! They put the cheese into a press and smoke for a day or two. It was nice. 

I continued my walk up and had to kill 90 minutes so I stopped for mulled wine and pierogis. That wine must have been laced with some alcohol because it knocked me out. Or maybe it was the altitude. Or jet lag. Or the alcohol. Regardless, I took a little snooze in a corner booth. 

The cable car was filled with skiers and boarders. They just free ski down this huge mountain! Crazy. 

My return bus ride to Krakow was uneventful. I stopped at the hotel bar for a Jameson, to celebrate the Irish, and returned to my room for some work and pack. Tomorrow I head back to the states. 

Poland Days 5-8: Work

Since the purpose for this trip was to work I had to…work. I led a week long workshop for a global company. 

This was my office in the hotel. 

The name of the project is Mandalorian. I didn’t have the heart to tell them I have no idea what that is. 

We had some team dinners with mandatory vodka shots. 

And I ordered room service as well. I love that it took two men to deliver all my diet Pepsis. They were so tiny!!

Poland Day 4: Krakow and Goodbye

Annie and I slept in, had breakfast, and went on a walking tour of Kraków’s City Center. 

This is St Mary’s church where someone plays a trumpet every hour from the window high above. It was how they used to open and close the city gates every day. 

Wawel Castle is where the kings lived and as they changed reigns, each would add a portion in their own style. It looked like a hodgepodge of structures. 

A Banksy! 

We went out for dinner and beer. Our time was coming to a close as Annie was getting on a night train back to the Czech Republic where she lives. 

I just love Annie’s sense of adventure and lust for travel. I love hearing her stories and look forward to seeing more. 

Before I left America I asked Annie what she wanted me to bring her. She said “Red Marlboro cigarettes”. Annie is into collections like me and I found this request odd until she said her boyfriend collected the smokes because each state had a different label. 

So I went into “Rae Ann Mode” and asked friends throughout the states to buy me cigarettes. I cannot tell you how happy it made me to deliver this gift to Annie. It reminded me I have so many great people in my life and I love doing things that exceed people’s expectations. 

I also learned it is illegal to send smokes in the US and you can only import 200 cigarettes into most countries. Oops. 

Annie and I said our goodbyes as she grabbed her night train back home and promised not to wait another eight years before seeing one another. 

What a day!

Poland Day 3: Annie!

In 2014 our family hosted an exchange student from Slovakia. When I told Annie I was going to be in Poland she offered to come my way and I was so grateful! We spent 40 hours together non-stop talking. 

She arrived via an overnight train and we went straight to a full day tour of Auschwitz and Schindler’s Factory. Not a light day but I was glad to share the experience with Annie. 

The entrance to Auschwitz. “Work sets you free” The orchestrated lies by the Germans is so disturbing. 

Rows and rows of photos of prisoners killed in Auschwitz. 

Prisoners arrived via rail. 

It was cold. Like, freaking cold. My California ass froze, as did Annie’s. We used umbrellas to hold back the wind. 

After Auschwitz we went to Schindler’s Factory. I was disappointed. I thought it would tell more about how the Polish helped the Jews but it did not. It was a museum about the overall occupation. 

I’m not going to lie, I struggled with jet lag something terrible. I had only slept a few hours the night before. I, once again, fell asleep during the Schindler’s tour. 

We returned to the hotel for dinner and wine. Both of us were exhausted. We got in bed and talked until the other didn’t respond. I fell asleep with a smile on my face. 

Poland: Return to Work Travel

I have not traveled for work in three years and my first trip following COVID was to Krakow, Poland. A bit crazy considering my territory is the Americas but I was excited to hop across the pond on someone else’s dime. 

The three flights were uneventful and super productive as I worked a ton. 

After 22 hours of travel I landed in Krakow, and despite being exhausted from giving up sleep for work, I joined a walking tour of the Jewish Quarters. My goal while changing time zones is to hit it hard and get on the schedule as soon as possible.

The tour’s topic was heavy but the guide was very informative. I’m not kidding when I say I fell asleep standing up. I was exhausted. 

The City Centre is beautiful. The Nazi’s did not destroy the city, like Warsaw, because they used it to capture slaves for their work. 

A jewish cemetery that survived the Nazi occupation because they used it as a garbage dump. 

The Jews lived in tight communities to support one another, which included their homes, horse stables, and working quarters. This is a location where Schindlers List was filmed. It is where the Nazi’s broke into homes and threw personal belongings over the balconies.

This is a square in Krakow called Hero’s Square. The chairs represent the chairs the Jews would bring to this square to wait for processing by the Nazi’s. 

I ended my first night eating Pierogi’s with a shot of vodka at the hotel. 

Saturday, January 28, 2023

Wool for the Win!

I have been wearing a high-quality wardrobe, necessary for my minimalist lifestyle, for 788 days. I began by wearing a dress for 100 days in a row (which occurred during the winter I lived at the beach). The dress is from Wool& and I have since built my entire wardrobe around what they sell. 

They interviewed me about my lifestyle. You can see the article here. I think it is cool. 

I have always lived my life by what makes sense, or what feels good, which most often fights cultural norms. Focusing on my adventures instead of what people think about my clothes or looks is not always easy emotionally but “stuff” weighs us down and I love how light I feel! 

If the article intrigued you about trying out the benefits of wool or owning a high-quality wardrobe I endorse Wool& for women and Wool and Prince for men. Reach out if you want to know where to start ( 

Happy adventuring! Rae Ann

Monday, January 9, 2023

Final Post: Great South American Adventure

I arrived back home in San Jose, California at noon today. I unpacked, did my laundry, took a shower, went grocery shopping, and logged into work to get a sneak peek at what faces me tomorrow (it doesn't look bad). 

The twenty-nine-hour journey back was long but uneventful. I spent the first nine-hour flight listening to an audiobook and embroidering. I have come to love it and plan to do more. It takes up very little space, does not require counting or thinking, and consumes lots of time. 

We arrived in Miami with twelve (overnight) hours to burn. I hung out at Delta’s Sky Lounge until it closed and then we attempted to sleep at the gate. The airport was dead; can you spot Henry in the photo below?

After sweating my ass off for the last 30 days I never thought I could be cold again. Oh, how I was wrong! It was so cold we were wrapping ourselves in every piece of wool clothing I own (as well as the Avianca blanket I stole) and Henry got to test the hat I knit him on this trip. We both got a few hours' sleep. 

This was an epic 32-day South American Adventure. There are so many highlights. 
  • The longest holiday I have ever taken (32 days)
  • New Countries: Seven (7); Peru, Colombia, Panamá, Brazil, Chile, Argentina, and Uruguay
  • New Continent: One; South America
  • Miles walked: 174.33 (average 5.4/day)
  • Miles flew: 20,224 miles (it is 24,901 miles to travel around the world!) 
  • Flights of stairs climbed: 365 (average 11/day)
  • Airlines flew: Five (5); Delta, Latam, Avianca, Copa, JetSmart
  • Flights took: Fourteen (14)
  • New friends: Too many to count
  • Books: Five (5)
  • Hats knit: Two-and-a-half
  • Embroidery projects: One partially complete
  • My Polarsteps map showing all stops is here

I have learned:
  • I love Latinos. They are kind, patient, and passionate. 
  • South America can be inexpensive for Americans
  • I would like to return to see: Ecuador, Patagonia, and Ushuaia (as I depart to Antarctica)
  • I can do long holidays and will never miss work or feel bored
  • I can eat seafood if I close my eyes
  • I can eat mushed fruit (aka smoothies)
Much of this trip was sampling cities to see if I would like to return for longer stays as I begin to travel full-time. I judge a city on safety, the kindness of the people, cost, cultural things to do, public transportation, and cleanliness. Here are my thoughts based on my short time at each:
  • Buenos Aires, Argentina: This was my favorite. The city's architecture is beautiful reminding me of Europe with lots of green spaces. The people were nice, it felt very safe, and things were inexpensive (using cash). 
  • Peru (Lima & Cusco): I loved Peru. It is inexpensive and safe, and the people are just lovely. I would love to return and get Machu Picchu off my list. 
  • Rio, Brazil: I like Rio. The people were nice, it felt pretty safe, and the city has lots to explore. It did not stand out as spectacular but nothing negative either.
  • Santiago, Chile: Because Henry and I had a bit of a reunion in Santiago I do not feel I gave it much of my attention. It was not as inexpensive as the other cities though so that is a deterrent. But the people were lovely, it was clean and generally safe. 
  • Panama City, Panama: There are a ton of Americans in Panama, most likely because it is comfortable (e.g., use the American dollar, can drink the tap water). People are very nice but it isn’t much cheaper than in the states. Since the canal keeps its economy alive they do not need to promote tourism but it does have everything Costa Rica has to offer. 
  • Bogota, Colombia: I never felt safe in Bogota. You can’t use your phone in public without risk of it being taken and we all know how important my phone is. I can’t imagine going back. I talked to many tourists asking about other cities in Colombia but crime remained high there as well. However, Bogota is super inexpensive and although everyone speaks of the crime, they are kind people. If you like hiking you would probably love it. 
  • Uruguay: I only spent six hours in the country but I heard great things about it.
I return to work tomorrow, although I blocked the entire day to clean up emails and figure out what I do for work. I have mixed emotions. I’m anxious I have forgotten everything. Friends tell me it will come back. I also love my work and look forward to returning to the challenge. 

This was a wonderful adventure. It could not have gone better. I selected South America without much thought and did not put much time into planning but it was seriously a wonderful month. I could have stayed another 32 days. 

My next adventure is my COVID-rescheduled Cuba trip in April. Hopefully. 

Happy Travels everyone! Thanks for following my journey. I love all the messages. It feels like you are all on the journey alongside me.

Rae Ann

Pageviews: 250,582

Saturday, January 7, 2023

Day 30: Santiago & The Last Day

We checked out of my last Selina. I would 100% recommend this chain. It is the best set of Hostals I have ever stayed in. I mean, check out those Uber cute bikes below (which would have killed my ass but are still cute). It made my 32 day adventure much more enjoyable. 

We flew back to Santiago where we will depart back to the states because the flights from Buenos Aires to San Jose were nearly double that of flying from Santiago. We were able to see the Andes one more time. 

We settled into our hotel and our plan was to simply get dinner, enjoy some cocktails, and get to bed early. Of course a few too many cocktails leads to ice cream as well. It was a perfect evening. 

I just love traveling with Henry. Listening to him speak Spanish with everyone not only makes things so much easier but is fun to hear because he does not do it in the states. Goodness we had a ton of fun.