Tag: wanderlust

Guam: An Island Off the Beaten Track

My parents are in the military, meaning they have been deployed to naval bases all over the world: Italy, California, Spain, and now- Guam.

Guam, if you haven’t heard of it, is a Pacific Island in American territory with a Navy and an Air Force base. Fun fact, my parents met each other 22 years ago on the 210-square foot mile of Guam, and it was where I was conceived. But, after my visits, I see how a couple laying on the beach together, bronzed and glowing, could easily fall in love.

Chicago is wonderful, but sometimes I miss clear skies and bright stars. Guam has some of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever seen.


My father spoiled me and put me on First Class for the 13 hour flight to Japan, and I crossed “Fly First Class” off my bucket list! Even just being able to go into the United Lounge in O’Hare and avoid the mess of angry travelers crowding outlets in Terminal Two was a dream. I cuddled up with my book and ate three bowls of yogurt to feel truly pampered.

United Airlines seduced me quicker than any other lover ever has with its endless doting: from the warm cup of nuts to the mobile sundae bar. I’m still using the little travel Cowshed lotion, which came with my First Class goodie bag. I’m debating on marrying for money just to have the luxury of never flying Coach again.

The island is a playground for outdoor adventures, with snorkeling and scuba diving in the bright blue of the Pacific, and mountain biking and hiking through the rainforests. Warning: it’s a little hot and buggy, but the scenery is worth it. I prefer water activities as a way to escape the relentless heat and flying beasts.

I actually did go scuba diving for the first time in Guam, another thing off the bucket list!

It was wonderful to go to places like Orote Point, a place I had heard about from stories my parents told me about their romance since I was a little girl.

Something that wasn’t on the island twenty something years ago was the German restaurant, McKrauts. For an island with limited cuisine options, the German food was spectacular (and I should know, I love German Food).  I ordered the Beef Goulash, which was spot on, with a side of spaetzle I inhaled in seconds. However, the whole time a Euro-techno track was playing seemingly on repeat. It was annoying at first but then the center around which our table’s giggles surrounded. If anyone can contact McKraut and get me the album I would love them forever.

We had drinks at Sunset Grill and their pizza is delicious, but the best drinks are the cocktails my mom mixes up at home, like the pictured blueberry, mint, lime, vodka mix.

It was so great to see the doggies again. I love my Zoey and Alex.

Soon my family will be back together again in Chicago. I couldn’t be more grateful, but I’ll miss my annual trips to Guam.

Marlaina Fancher is an intern with Classic Chicago Magazine an English major at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She loves capturing the world around her through images and words.

Costa Rica Photo Story

Is there any better escape from the Chicago winter than a short trip to Costa Rica? The country is blossoming with beaches, animals, and adventure around every corner.  There is something for everyone, be it lounging along the beach with a umbrella-embellished cocktail or kayaking through alligator infested water.

The Banana Azul Hotel, with a fantastic beachside location in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca

The hotel offered many fantastic adventure activities (such as white water rafting) and served up amazing huevos rancheros

I spent hours lounging on the perfect beach just steps from our hotel room. I’d recommend going for a morning run down the beach, the sunrise is unbeatable.

The cocktails weren’t too shabby either. I feel obligated to buy a fruity drink whenever I’m in the tropics.

Puerto Viejo was just a short walk along the coastline.

My travel buddy and I were entranced by the views.

The little town was as colorful as the flowers of the rainforest.

Time slowed down there. It felt like all the worries of the world faded away to a simpler life.

The Jaguar Rescue Center was just a short drive away, and we had the pleasure of playing with a group of baby monkeys!

Lola the parrot wasn’t going to miss out on the fun. She showed us all her favorite toys.

My favorite little critters were the swaddled baby sloths.

We couldn’t touch them because they’re sensitive to the oils on human hands.

Another day was spent on a cacao farm learning about the chocolate making process. Food is more enjoyable when you understand the process behind it.

The forest stretches across the hills for miles, offering a multitude of hiking trails for the more adventurous sorts.

A short hike brought us to a waterfall not far from the road. A small stand sold us coconuts to drink milk out of.

People were jumping off the rocks alongside the waterfall into the pond below. There was a blend of locals and tourists enjoying themselves in the sun.

I’d recommend kayaking along the peaceful rivers to feel like you’re truly one with the rainforest around you.

The rainforest is full of fantastic beasts. I was glad we were safe from the alligators in our kayak.

Life bloomed out of every corner of Costa Rica

When the golden hour hit Tortugero, the town became a gorgeous rainbow

The little town mainly relies on of the turtle-based tourism. Turtles lay their eggs along the shores and people travel from all around the world just to watch the baby turtles’ journeys to the sea.

The trip inspired me to live a more “pura vida” every day.

On the other side of Tortugero, away from turtle beach, are fantastic little restaurants and bars along the water.

We met a wonderful group of people at a bar who recommended a nightclub just down the road…

But the sun hadn’t set yet. We walked off our lunches through the forest. It felt like we were miles from any town or sign of civilization.

But be warned if you go exploring, poisonous snakes hide in the trees.

But if you can brave the snakes, you might just come across the cutest critters hiding in the treetops.

Marlaina Fancher is an intern with Classic Chicago Magazine an English major at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She loves capturing the world around her through images and words.