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12 Things to do in Penang, Malaysia

A Favorite Island in Malaysia: Things to Do in Penang

I wasn’t sure what to expect with my return to Malaysia this year. The brief time I spent in the country in 2013 was a good experience overall, but it’s also the first place where I was aggressively groped in broad daylight.

Granted, gropings can happen anywhere, but I would be lying if I said it didn’t taint my experience while in the country.

It stuck with me so much that even today, four years later, when I hear a scooter coming up behind me I get a dose of adrenalin and and my sense of awareness goes into overdrive.

I knew I wanted to come back to Malaysia someday to have a more positive experience, and focus on all of the good that the country has to offer.

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Wrap Up: November 2017

Wrap Up November 2017 | The Atlas Heart

I can’t believe I’ve been back in California for over a month already. It has gone by super fast, probably because my schedule has been filled with plenty of work, family time, and catching up with my closest friends who live in the Bay.

I tested out doing a sober month in November for the first time ever (at least since I’ve been drinking alcohol, obviously), and it was actually really nice to take a break from drinking.

I only broke it for one weekend when I had a fun couple of nights out with some friends in San Francisco – but even still, that whole weekend I only had one beer and two glasses of champagne. So all in all, my first sober month went pretty well.

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Travel Destinations for 2018: Where I’m Going

Travel Destinations for 2018: Where I'm Going | The Atlas Heart

Where I might be living, visiting, and going back to – these are my potential travel destinations for 2018!

It’s my favorite time of the year! And no, I’m not talking about the holidays, although to be sure November and December can be some of my favorite months, especially when I’m surrounded by loved ones.

I even used to say that winter was my favorite season, but really I think that’s because I grew up in California and it gave me an excuse to play the Mariah Carey Christmas CD as much as I wanted.

Spoiler alert, fall and spring are now my favorite seasons, because they’re usually perfect for travel without the crowds, and I love that feeling of the changing of seasons, of new beginnings.

But, I digress.

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Book Review + Giveaway: Why LA? Pourquoi Paris?

Book Review & Giveaway - Why LA? Pourquoi Paris? - Paris, France | Europe Travel

*EDIT* We have a winner!! CONGRATS to Toni! You’ll be receiving your book in the mail within a couple of weeks.


It has been so long since I’ve hosted a giveaway on this blog, but when I got an email in my inbox about an artsy new coffee table book about LA and Paris, I knew I wanted to learn more about it.

The book that landed in my inbox was called Why LA? Pourquoi Paris? by Diane Ratican, illustrated by Eric Giriat and Nick Lu. It’s a colorful book full of captivating artwork and words that paint an expansive overview of both cities.

I’ve heard Paris compared to New York a lot, but rarely have I heard Paris compared to LA. The comparison peaked my interest because, from a distance, it doesn’t seem like the two cities have much in common.

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Wrap Up: October 2017

Wrap Up October 2017 - Road Trip around Ring of Kerry, Ireland | Europe Travel

I know I say this every single month, but whoa, where did the time go? I’m not sure how we’re already into the second week of November, but here we are.

With that said, one of my goals before the end of this year is to get into a better habit of mindfulness. I want to be able to value the passing of time more, to take one day at a time, and to not always feel like I’m running one step behind.

October was bursting at the seams, which is probably why I felt so exhausted by the end of it – I barely had time to catch my breath. Note to self: slow down in November and December. Your body, mindset, and bank account will thank you.

The month started with a fun travel blogging conference, then turned into two weeks of road tripping and traveling around Ireland by myself, and finally ended with my return to California after over a year of being abroad.

So, let’s dive right in and get to the good stuff. This was my October!

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Finding the Beauty in Goodbyes

Paros, Greece - Europe Travel

My friends and I made our way giggling in a tuk tuk to the party. The night before we had danced on a moonlit beach, Leos in hand, swaying in time to the palm trees and chill electronic beats.

“Wow, you seem to be doing so well. If I was in your position, I would not be this okay right now,” one of my friends said to me, when I mentioned my abrupt breakup from two weeks ago.

I shrugged my shoulders, “I guess I just want to be happy. I don’t want to be sad over something that wasn’t meant to be.”

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Should You Use a Drone in Your Travels?

Should You Use a Drone in Your Travels? - The Atlas Heart

There is always new technology popping up in the blogging world and travel communities in general, or should I say, it is usually technology that has been around for awhile but has recently been developed for the average user.

One hot ticket item these days is the use of personal drones to take professional looking videos and photos from high up. It’s crazy how good a picture can look with a lofty perspective.

However, as with any new technology, there are a lot of questions and concerns around the new drone mania. Many don’t even know where to start when it comes to deciding if this is something to invest in either for travel memories or for a professional blog.

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Wrap Up: September 2017

Wrap Up September 2017 - Reads

Oh hey guys, you may have noticed that the blog has been a bit quiet lately. The last month and a half has been full of travels, conferences, and exciting leaps in my marketing business that I run outside of this blog.

Pretty much since I left Greece in early September, I have been in full sprint mode trying to squeeze in as much as possible around Europe while still staying on top of my work.

It goes without saying that I have a ton to catch you up on – case in point, this wrap up post is three weeks late!! But you will hear more than your fair share of my thoughts in due time.

I’m currently writing this on a plane on my way home to California for the first time in over a year, and I’m excited – not only to see my friends and family…and to eat as many burritos as possible – but to have some downtime to write more and catch up on the many posts that are rumbling around in my head.

So let’s dive right into what I got up to in September!

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Historic Indulgence in Bruges: Hotel Prinsenhof 

Historic Indulgence in Bruges, Belgium - Hotel Prinsenhof | Europe Travel

The rain splattered against the train window as I traveled the short distance from Brussels to Bruges, only an hour away.

I’d dreamed of going to Bruges since I was around 13 and found a random penpal online who lived there. We wrote back and forth for months, talking about the differences in our cultures and how it was growing up as a teenager in Europe vs. America.

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30 Thoughts That Went Through My Head in Paris

30 Things That Went Through My Head in Paris, France | Europe Travel

Ah, Paris – the city of love, light, and romance. Oh la la!

I just finished up a week in this French capital, and as usual I had a range of thoughts that went through my head while I was in the city. Writers’ brains seem to be in constant motion. Call it a gift or a curse, but my brain is no exception.

In fact, my brain is more the equivalent of a dog when he sees a squirrel – easily distracted and excited about the mundane things in life.

I make it sound like a cool superpower when I describe myself as having “the curiosity of a child”, but really I just have a lot of random thoughts that ramble through my brain on any given day.

These were a few of the deep thoughts and reflections I had about French life while I was in Paris.

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