The Richmond Vale Academy

Melissa and I arrived in St. Vincent five days ago, hopping  in a cab in the late afternoon that would take us on a journey through narrow, winding mountain roads to the leeward side of the island. The first thing we saw as we drove up was a fat, happy looking pig walking beside the road, free from any confines with as much room to roam as he liked.

Isolated in a corner of the island just next to La Soufriere volcano, the Richmond Vale Hiking and Nature Center.. or more commonly known as The Academy… is an environmentally conscious gem away from everything. As our driver pulled the car into the property, we were greeted by a young man in breezy tie-dye clothing. The fresh mountain air is an instant mood-changer and the calm atmosphere of the academy instantly makes you breath a sigh of relief.

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An academy, Richmond Vale runs two programs, one regarding environmental sustainability, awareness and education, etc. and another regarding poverty. These programs are open for anyone local or international to apply but if you’re not wanting to commit to furthering your education, guests are also welcome to stay. As guests, the academy was the perfect retreat to unwind after nearly five months of non-stop exploration and travel. The entire place reminded me of a hippie commune filled with like-minded activists passionate about the environment and poverty.

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Our time at the academy introduced us to a special little place with a unique lifestyle. Everyone living at the compound (apart from guests) work together to keep the place running smoothly, with students having a set schedule of daily chores and classes. As guests, our stay there was easy, calm and peaceful. We spent our mornings waking up slowly on hammocks, waiting for the blessed sound of the bell ringing to indicate that breakfast was served, which we then ate overlooking the Caribbean Sea below. With plenty of vegetarian options to be had, meals at the academy were healthy and locally grown, with an emphasis on providing GMO-free, organic produce straight from their organic garden.

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Though we only stayed for three nights our time at the academy had a rejuvenating effect that only being surrounded by nature can achieve. I would highly recommend staying there if you find yourself in St. Vincent. There is easy access to attractions such as the Falls of Baleine, La Soufriere volcano, the palm tree trail, Richmond Beach, Dark View Falls, Vermont Nature Trail, and more. Surrounded by raw, unspoilt nature, there are endless opportunities for the nature lover.

Vegan Eats in Barbados

I need to start this off by clarifying that I am not a vegan, just a vegan wanna-be. Although I do limit my meat intake as much as possible, I still eat fish on a regular basis and am considered a pescetarian because of that. Despite my non-vegan ways, I will choose vegan food over non-vegan food anytime I have the opportunity. For my meat-eating followers, try not to look so disgusted at the idea. Vegan food has come a long way with many delicious alternatives being made for what was traditionally a meat or dairy product and quite frankly, vegan dishes are some of the best meals I’ve ever tasted.

One of the concerns many vegetarians and vegans have when traveling abroad is whether or not they will have a good variety of food to choose from. I personally have never found it too difficult, even in places like Southeast Asia. In fact, I found Southeast Asia to have an abundance of vegetarian options available and vegan as well, especially if you know where to go. Local markets where you can pick and choose things to cook on your own are a safe bet. Vegan and vegetarian restaurants are another great way to go and, usually, I’m able to find something in any restaurant that I choose to go.

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If you’re in Barbados for study, cruise, or vacation and you’re looking for delicious vegan eats, I would highly recommend checking out The Good Life restaurant/cafe. Located across from Accra Beach, The Good Life is a small little cafe with a roof but open walls to keep that sea breeze flowing through. When we stopped in for a bite we had the entire restaurant to ourselves. If you show up to nobody dining, don’t let that scare you away! The generous menu, kind staff and delicious food more than makes up for it.

After a long and thoughtful look over the menu, all four of us opted for the coconut curry tofu dish that came with a side of salad– with no regrets! This was easily the best meal I’ve had on the island yet; I’m ready to pick up the phone and place an order just talking about it.

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Probably the best news of all is that they deliver! Even all the way to the university! There isn’t a doubt in my mind that I’ll be frequenting this little restaurant more than a few times during my stay on the island. The smoothie menu is enticing enough in itself that I’m going to want to start at the top and work my way down until I’ve tried every last one.

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With reasonable prices ($2 barbados dollars is $1 american), good music, a great atmosphere and easy access to the beach, you can’t go wrong with checking this place out. If you’ve been or if you make an appearance, don’t forget to tell me how you liked it in the comments below!

Custom Travel Journals from DomesticPapers

I discovered these beautiful travel journals on Etsy just recently. Lee, the talented woman behind the shop and these journals, creates them and as soon as I found them, I was intrigued. Luckily for me, Lee was more than happy to answer a few questions for myself and you lovely readers.

Originally these beauties are filled with blank paper, perfect for a person who likes to sketch or who has straight hand writing. Sadly, I’m not one of those people. Not only do I prefer the aesthetic of lined paper, my writing goes completely off-center without them. Lee kindly agreed to fill my journal with lined pages and then we got on to discussing what the cover should be like — we were so caught up with the lined paper that we nearly forgot about the outside!

Every customer gets to choose what part of the world they would like their map to feature. My decision was easy, I left a piece of my heart in Thailand and knew that I had to have a map of Southeast Asia as the cover of my journal. You also get to choose what you would like to bind your journal; a globe or a plane? As you can see from this photo of my journal, I chose a plane.

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Hello, it’s wonderful to meet you! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your Etsy shop?

My Etsy shop, Domestic Papers, combines my great love of All Things Paper with my lifelong fascination with antiques, tools, and paper ephemera. You’ll notice my books all have a “vintage vibe.” I love to mix old images with modern papers, throw in some centuries-old bookbinding techniques, and make something both timeless and useful.

What inspired you to create your custom made travel journals?

As a bookbinder and avid book collector, I’m always cruising the library discard sales for hidden treasures. I struck it rich with a box of ‘worthless’ encyclopedias from the 1920’s. The geography section of each book held a gorgeous color map bookplate. I experimented with reproducing these maps, since the original paper is practically ancient, and came up with an idea for a portable book for travelers that shows off how the world looked nearly 100 years ago.

My handmade journal!

What makes these journals the perfect companion for travelers?

I designed these to be not only beautiful but durable. The take-along size fits handily into a backpack, tote bag, or carry-on luggage. By using heavy-weight artist canvas and archival materials, I’ve created a cover that is sturdy, flexible, and somewhat water-resistant.

Inside, I’ve hand-sewn folded acid-free pages into a roomy spine that allows space for attaching maps, brochures, biz cards, and other mementos while still providing space to write travel notes. I always attach a little pocket to the center section that can hold small items… a bus pass, train ticket, hotel key, or such.

What is your favorite thing about making and using the journals?

I love how not only can I customize this travel journal, but the user can customize it too. Their design choices make creating each book a unique experience and that keeps it fresh and fun for me. When I’m searching for a map for a customer, I feel like I have the whole world at my fingertips! I love to travel but I’m still a ‘homebody’ at heart, hence the name Domestic Papers.

Another map in the middle of my journal

What custom options are available to those hoping to purchase one for themselves?

I start by asking my customer “Where in the world do you want on your book?” I look through my large collection of vintage maps, going back to 1883. I also search more modern atlases and National Geographic maps to find an image the right size and shape for our journal. Some countries are tiny and others are vertical when I want them to be horizontal- that’s geography for you!

I do my best to find wherever in the world my customer wants on the cover. Sometimes, I’ll add a map to the interior of the journal if I can’t quite fit where we want on the cover or if we want a detail map. Also, the customer can request extra pockets, additional pages, lined or unlined pages, a color range for the papers inside, and a style such as romantic, masculine, tropical, or vintage. Of course, to top it off, it’s their choice of brad closure on the front cover.

Choosing all of these elements together is like creating a unique recipe I then follow to make the perfect map travel journal to accompany you on your next adventure!

*A closing note from Lee: My grateful thanks to Michelle for the opportunity to share my map books with you!*

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I could not be happier with the finished product of this journal. I had mine done in the regular size, although Lee offers the option of having mini journals made for those that want to travel even lighter and have limited space. The regular sized journal is light-weight and the perfect size to bring with you. My only criticism is that I wish it was filled with more paper because I write a lot on my travels and am going to be able to fill this baby up pretty quickly. I wish that I had some upcoming travel plans because I want to write in it so badly! But I don’t, so I’ll have to be patient and wait for my next trip to fill it up with beautiful memories.

With the new year fast approaching comes opportunities to explore places we’ve never been before. These travel journals may just be the perfect companion for yourself on your next adventure or as a gift for someone who loves travel.

If these journals capture your interest, head on over to Lee’s Etsy shop Domestic Papers to browse her creations and contact her.

Perfect Fit Protein: Protein Powder Perfect for Travel!

As a vegetarian, I try my best to get my protein in other ways like through beans, nuts, vegetables, and protein powder! I’ve tried all sorts of protein powders for my smoothies. Okay, so mostly whey protein and soy protein powders. Some people love them, but I was never a huge fan. When I discovered a nutrition and fitness plan called Tone It Up, I came across Perfect Fit Protein Powder, a protein powder made from organic, brown rice protein. This protein powder doesn’t make your stomach feel funny and has a delicious vanilla flavor. Perfect Fit is organic, gluten-free, raw, vegan, sugar and fat-free, dairy and lactose-free, soy, corn and wheat-free, non-gmo, and allergen free!

Perfect Fit Protein Single-Serving Packets!

Enough about what it is, because this is a travel blog and not a nutrition blog! If you want to find out about what it is, you can read more here. The only downfall is that if you live outside of the U.S.A or Canada, shipping costs are quite expensive.

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The reason I like this protein powder so much is not just because of the fabulous taste but because you can get it in single-serving packets! These packets are perfect for traveling. They are compact and light-weight, so they’re not going to take up much room in your suitcase, purse, backpack or even your money belt. I’m always super excited when I find something that I love that will benefit me while traveling! On my next trip I will definitely be bringing these with me for adding them into my fruit shakes in Thailand, sprinkling it over fruit cups in Italy or adding it into that cappuccino in that cute local cafe you stumbled upon.

Perfect Fit Protein  is my perfect fit because it accommodates my travel lifestyle (when it happens). Even if you’re not a traveler,  this protein powder is perfect for those with a busy lifestyle. Do you bring protein powder or other health items with you when you travel? Have you found one that works perfectly for you?

Taste From Heaven: A Vegetarian Restaurant in Chiang Mai.

One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must
regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating.
 -Luciano Pavarotti

Taste From Heaven is a restaurant located in Chiang Mai, Thailand. There are three reasons why it is my favorite restaurant in that city. First of all, and an important reason for people wishing to eat there, is that the food is amazing. Every bite is packed with flavor. I have yet to try a dish from there that I didn’t enjoy. The second reason why I love this place is because it is 100% vegetarian.  My third reason for loving this place is because the proceeds go towards helping out the animals at Thailand’s Elephant Nature Park.

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If you’re going to Thailand as a vegetarian, it’s a good idea to read up on a few key Thai words to be sure that you can request your meals without meat or to read the signs on the street vendors. If you don’t know and aren’t comfortable eating from street vendors, which is silly because it’s cheap and delicious, it’s nice to know that there are vegetarian restaurants available to you.

I found that Thailand had a lot of vegetarian options to choose from, Taste From Heaven is just one of them. Serving breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert, Taste From Heaven’s dishes are delicious and very reasonably priced. It’s the perfect place for any traveler, whether you’re on a budget or not. Oh, and looking for a Thai cooking class? Taste From Heaven has that, too.So how do you get there? Head to Thapae Road and it’s right across from the Krung Thai Bank! Have you ever been to Taste From Heaven? What did you think? Do you have a favorite restaurant in Thailand?