Peace by the Ocean: Hofsas House

A look at the family-owned Hofsas House located at Carmel-by-the-Sea.

Every year, I head somewhere for my birthday. Or at least try to. It all started in 2009 when I was in Atlanta and working in PR. I took the first trip of my adult life — a two week excursion to Croatia — seven years after my first foray into solo travel, which netted me about one month of backpacking with a far-too-heavy backpack around Europe.

If you’ve been reading this site since its infancy, then you know Croatia was the catalyst for all things d travels ’round.

I digress.

Birthday.

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Beach Bliss and Villa Mercedes in Puerto Vallarta

Wallet-friendly, charming and in a prime location -- a look at Villa Mercedes in Puerto Vallarta, hotel review
The humid air hits me on the jetway, causing a smile to remain plastered to my face from immigration to crossing the street outside of the airport to get a taxi (hint: it’s cheaper if you grab a cab off airport property).

I hop in the front seat of my taxi and produce the address to my hotel, a boutique property a two-minute walk to the beach.

“Voy aqui,” I tell my driver as I hop in.

“Si,” he responds, and we are off.

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Eco Love at Majahuitas Resort

A review of Majahuitas Resort, an eco-resort in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.
We wait down the hill in Boca de Tomatlan. It’s humid, but a fan blows gently on us, cooling me down … and my french fries. Icy cold Corona placed on the wooden table in front of me, I look off into the distance, squinting for signs of a little motor boat coming to whisk me and my friend away for three days of bliss at the Majahuitas Resort, an eco-friendly property tucked into a private cove south of Puerto Vallarta.

At 4 p.m., as scheduled, our boat arrives and the driver grabs our suitcases and drops them in the boat, then takes my hand and guides me down into our transport as it bobs ever so gently on the water. Once my friend, Mike, is in, our journey begins.

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Sea Monkey and Sunsets

Sea Monkey in Puerto Vallarta

The surf pounds the well-packed sand, littered with seaweed. I sit, toes buried deep where the water meets the shore. Behind me, local vendors run a sales rotation at Puerto Vallarta’s Sea Monkey, a beach bar with a handful of tables and umbrellas nestled on the coastline.

They sell everything: Drawings. Jewelry. Marionettes. Clothing. Massages.

As each one passes, my friend, Paula and I, tucked into 17 peso margaritas that could use a little more tequila and a little less sweet, catch up on life and quickly report to each seller, “no, gracias.”

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Getting Dreamy at Rivera del Rio in Puerto Vallarta

A look at the lavish Rivera del Rio boutique hotel in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.
Hailed as the “house of dreams” by New York interior designer Billy Baldwin, the former home of “Silver” Maria Cortez is now open to house guests, thanks to the Alex Killen, who is the third generation owner of the mansion-turned-boutique Rivera del Rio hotel in Puerto Vallarta.

Here, eclectic meets lavish  meets indoor plunge pool complete with fake ducks bobbing under the gentle movement of air from the balcony overlooking the city’s Rio Cuale.

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Seven Years After Solo Travel

An account of what happens seven years after solo travel. The good, the bad and the truth.

“I hope you find what you’re looking for,” the ticket agent said to me before we hung up the phone on that winter night in Atlanta in 2010.

Pure joy shot through my veins after we disconnected. Sitting in my apartment in the 100-year-old house, listening to the cars pass my house on their way home from work in the bustling city, there was more excitement pumping through me than I’ve ever felt before.

I’m going to travel the world. Solo. 

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Quirk and Comfort: Garlands del Rio Boutique Hotel

A review of Puerto Vallarta's Garlands del Rio.
There’s a big, black gate that marks the entrance to Garlands del Rio in the heart of Puerto Vallarta’s Zona Romantica.

That’s it.

To the left of the massive gate is a door bell. Buzz that and within seconds, a latch clicks and then the tiny door can be opened.

On the other side of the door is a quirky paradise that is Garlands del Rio.

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True Story: I’m a Recovering Expat

What's it like to re-enter after living as an expat? An honest look at returning to life as a recovering expat.Editor’s Note: This should have been published on Dec. 15, 2016. I was hella sick so never published it on the actual one-year anniversary of surrendering my status as an expatriate. Better late than never, right?

Hi. My name is Diana. I used to be an expat. For almost four years, it was how I defined myself. I was an expat. Living in Chiang Mai. Living in London. Living in Madrid.

I was a writer. An animal rights activist. A digital nomad. But, most importantly, I was an expat. It was all-encompassing.

It was the one word which I felt the most closely connected to. The word which summed up my story in a pretty little package.

Expat.

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On Gratitude

on-gratitude

“I’m moving home,” I announce to my parents when I touch down in Philadelphia, fresh off a few days in Las Vegas.

“What?” they both ask, confused.

And, I get it. I really do.

Only few weeks ago I had told them I was meeting with immigration lawyers in Madrid to see how I could get another visa … to see if I could continue living my expat life for another year.

But, then it hit me like a proverbial ton of bricks: the last thing I wanted to do was stay in Madrid. Stay abroad. I was tired. Mentally. Physically. Every -ally you could imagine, that was me.

I had tossed the idea around with them a week earlier, after piercing my nose, and the words just flowed out of my mouth with zero censor:

I want to move home.

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Luna Liquida: A Look at the Boutique Hotel in Puerto Vallarta

Looking for a boutique hotel with a view of the city in Puerto Vallarta? Check out the lush Luna Liquida, located
Editor’s Note: I was a guest of Luna Liquida, a boutique hotel in Puerto Vallarta. You can review my disclosure policy here

Tucked on a cobblestone street, perched on a steep slope, this boutique hotel in Puerto Vallarta seems inconspicuous. If it wasn’t for a tiny sign hanging on the outside of the old building announcing the presence of Luna Liquida, it’s easily missed.

Which means it’s love at first sight for me.

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