Sunday, January 14, 2018

The Garden District

Today was our last full day in New Orleans and we decided to check out the Garden District which is a neighborhood famed by its oak tree lined streets, historic houses, cute stores and abundant restaurants. When we got to the neighborhood we saw a lot of walking tours but we decided to do our own exploring using a map and following recommendations that we had got from some locals.

The Garden District was once made up of several plantations which were later sold to rich Americans that wanted to live away from the French Quarters. Traditionally each block in the neighborhood had two houses surrounded by a large garden and hence the name "Garden District" but as the area became more urban the lots got sub divided and houses were build on them creating a mix of different architectural styles.

We walked through the streets of the neighborhood admiring some of the colorful houses and appreciating the history of the place, before moving on. I took a few pictures so you can get a glimpse of some of the sites within the Garden District.









That's it folks, I have to end this update here because I am so tired and my mind is solely focused on sleep right now. It's been a good trip and I am glad we were able to check out a lot of the tourist attractions within such a short period of time. The good thing about New Orleans is that a lot of the tourist attractions are very close to each other so that makes it easy to visit them all, we definitely  took advantage of that. I hope you have been enjoying these updates, check back in when March rolls around because my birthday trip is going to be exciting and I can't wait!




Saturday, January 13, 2018

Sites & Sounds of NOLA

Today was a very good and productive day, we started out at Frenchmen Street in the Faubourg Marigny neighborhood of New Orleans. Frenchmen Street is popular with the locals and has very reasonably priced restaurants and bars with live music. If you don't want to deal with boisterous crowds then Frenchmen Street is the place to be for a more laid back feel. During the day it was practically empty but it was still cool walking along the street checking out some of the cute colorful buildings.





After strolling along Frenchmen Street we decided to check out the famous Cafe du Monde located in the French Quarters. Cafe du Monde is a very popular coffee shop in New Orleans that attracts a lot of tourists. You can not come to New Orleans and not check it out, it has various branches but we decided to go to the original coffee shop. As you can imagine, the line was very long but luckily it was moving very fast and we managed to get a table without having to wait too long.


The menu was very basic with no frills and was plastered on the napkin holder. We ordered hot chocolate and beignet which is a square fried dough covered with powdered sugar, I thought the powdered sugar was an overkill and pretty messy but hey! it's all about new experiences right? 


After enjoying the tasty treats at Cafe du Monde we decided to burn off the calories by walking around the various lively streets within the French Quarter. We came across street performances, cute hidden alleys and a bunch of cute little shops selling souvenirs.




Our next stop was Canal Street which is the major starting point for every street that runs the length of the French Quarter and is very lively with lots of shops, hotels and restaurants.



It had been several hours since we had started our site seeing and we were very hungry so we decided to grab dinner at another highly recommended restaurant serving local cuisine. We ended up at Felix's Restaurant and Oyster Bar in the French Quarter. We were expecting long lines but we were fortunate to get a table pretty fast and our order did not take long to arrive which made me happy as you can clearly see below because I was starving!


We were done with dinner at around 6 pm and by then the streets around the French Quarter especially Bourbon Street, were already full of revelers and noisy from all the different music playing at the various clubs and bars. 






After strolling the length of Bourbon Street we decided to call it a night and head back to the hotel but before doing that, we had to make a quick stop at Frenchmen Street to see how the ambience was like at night as compared to during the day. It was certainly livelier with the sounds of smooth jazz being played by live bands in some of the bars and restaurants. It definitely was more chill than Bourbon Street which in itself isn't a bad thing depending on what you are looking for.



That's it people! it was a very long day full of fun and and excitement. I am glad we were able to walk from one tourist site to another as they were very close to each other, lots of calories were burned and more will be burned tomorrow as we plan yet another full day jam packed with adventures so watch out for another update.




Friday, January 12, 2018

New Orleans, Louisiana

I have always wanted to visit New Orleans so when the opportunity came up to finally check out the city, I was more than ready to jump on it. A friend of mine is on work assignment close to Louisiana so we decided to meet up in New Orleans for a long weekend and see what the city has to offer. I got here this evening and as soon as we met up and got settled in our hotel room, we were up and about ready to see what this town has to offer.

First stop was at the French Quarter which is the oldest section of the city, we went out to dinner at a highly recommended restaurant in the area called Oceana. There was a very long line when we got to the restaurant but we got lucky because we were able to get a table immediately since it was just the two of us (most people in the line were in big groups and tables were not available to them immediately). The food was really tasty, the service was excellent and the ambience was really good! I highly recommend the place.


After dinner we headed out and were met by a lively band leading a parade of people who were handing out beads and dancing on the streets. Turns out this weekend there is an annual event called Pardi Gras that's taking place, the event caters to a group of people nicknamed "Parrot Heads" which is in reference to their love for the singer/songwriter Jimmy Buffett. Both of us had no clue about this event but it was a nice surprise knowing that the weekend we chose to come here will be full of parades and festivities. 

We joined the revelers and and marched along with them despite the cold, temperatures here are in the 40s which sucks but it certainly is way better than where I came from so I can handle it.








After marching for a while the strong winds which made it feel even colder got to us and we decided to call it a night and head back to the hotel. Tomorrow there is a street party associated with Pardi Gras at the French Quarters so we are definitely planning on checking that out in addition to other sites and attractions. I will keep you posted so stay tuned.







Monday, January 1, 2018

Happy New Year!!

I can't believe we are in 2018 already but I am certainly not complaining given the kind of year I had in 2017. I have to say 2017 was one of my worst years and I was so ready to be done with it, hopefully 2018 will bring with it better luck.

I usually don't go out to celebrate New Year and prefer to keep things low key but I wanted to usher 2018 in celebration with the hope that it would set the theme for the coming year (Ok, I do believe how you usher in the new year sort of marks the theme of that year. Call me superstitious but it is what it is). My husband and I got tickets to a New Year's Eve party in the city and we ushered in 2018 surrounded by hundreds of people and a reminder as to why I don't like going out on New year's eve. Let's just say at 12:30 am I was ready to go home, don't let the smile fool you I was tired!


As for my plans for 2018, I want to travel more among many other personal goals. Next week I am going to New Orleans to meet up with a friend for a long weekend and I am excited because I have always wanted to visit the city, In March I have my birthday destination all booked, In May my husband and I want to celebrate his 30th birthday in New York but that's tentative because it depends on his and my work schedule. I have another major travel plan but it's tentative for now and I don't want to jinx it so I will not mention it until everything is confirmed. Hopefully my wishes and plans come to pass, I will certainly keep updating the blog as things unfold. In the meantime, enjoy the first day of January and have a very Happy New Year!!


Saturday, December 30, 2017

Goodbye Puerto Plata

As the saying goes, "all good things must come to an end" our vacation came to an end yesterday as it was our last day in Puerto Plata before coming back to real life and the cold harsh winter. On the last day we both decided to indulge in everything we liked at the resort and just chill basking in the good weather and scenery. I liked taking walks up and down the beach and that's what I did, taking pictures along the way and just appreciating the beauty around me knowing that I wasn't going to be enjoying this kind of weather again for a long time (winter sucks!).







It was a very lovely day and at night we decided to go out to the resort's nightclub and party it up, it was so much fun! I haven't danced that much in ages and the constant flow of drinks kept me tipsy all night. See that smile in the picture below? yup! that sums up the night.



What can I say? we ate, drank and got merry which was the best way to end our vacation. I know initially I wasn't feeling the resort vibe but I warmed up to it pretty quick and you know what? resorts aren't that bad after all especially if all you want to do is relax without any fuss. Will I do another resort stay? most definitely yes! 

Random Thoughts Of The Day:

After a couple of days the faces around the resort started becoming familiar and it felt like one big family staying in one neighborhood.

A lot of people we met at the resort had been here since Christmas and were planning to spend New Year here as well. Lucky them!

My husband was quite the social butterfly at the resort and managed to make quite a number of friends from the guests to the workers. Everywhere we went he knew someone and on the last day a bunch of the folks he had met arranged to have one last meet and drink at the resort's bar to bid him farewell, I thought that was sweet.

Speaking of sweet, this one kid who must have been about 13 really took a liking to my husband. They had met at a pool volleyball game and my husband had spent time playing with him which he must have really appreciated. We were having dinner and this kid saw him and excitedly rushed to our table to say hi as his parents towed behind, it was the cutest thing! even the parents had on a big smile watching.

There were these Argentinian girls at the resort who thought my husband looked so much like Ozuna who is a Puerto Rican reggaeton artist. At first they actually thought he was Ozuna, check out the pictures below and be the judge

Ozuna


My husband


I just noticed reading this blog that I say "my husband" a lot! two years later and it still feels weird saying my husband. Can you believe we have been together 3 years and married for 2? time sure flies because it feels like yesterday when I was writing on this blog about this cute Dominican guy I had just met, who knew how far we would go after that initial meeting.

My feet and ankles were so swollen because of the heat, that my shoes felt tight and fit uncomfortably. Most of the time I was in sandals but the rare occasion that I put shoes on, it was super uncomfortable and I could barely walk right. Thats how swollen my feet were!

I know I had mentioned before that I am not a beach type of person but you know what? the beach ain't so bad especially if you are well shaded and the sun is not directly hitting you. I liked the beach in Puerto Plata because there were so many surrounding trees that provided shade so you could walk around without feeling overwhelmed by the sun.

These songs below were the big hits during our stay in the DR, I especially love the salsa song by Yiyo Sarante. The song is called "Corazon de Acero" (heart of steel).
PS: both songs below are by Dominican artists.


This one was catchy especially in the nightclubs


Okay folks, that's it for now. I will do another update on New Year as I fill you in on my travel plans for 2018 so watch out.


Thursday, December 28, 2017

Puerto Plata

After bumming around in the resort doing nothing but pigging out and drinking countless cocktails, we decided to do a city tour of Puerto Plata today just to break the monotony and see what is out there. We booked the tour through the resort and opted for the early morning tour just so that we could escape the scorching sun later on in the day.

The tour started at 8 am and even though both of us were feeling so lazy about getting up given how late we have been sleeping, we braved through it. The first stop was the Teleferico de Puerto Plata which is a cable car that takes you high up in the mountain and you get to see some really cool aerial views of the city. As we were ascending you could feel the change of temperature, it got colder and actually started drizzling which luckily didn't turn out into full blown train. Our guide had told us that it takes 10 minutes to ascend, I thought the ride was pretty mild and peaceful but some folks in the cable car were freaking out, it may have been because of the height but as you can see in the picture below, I was not afraid of any height.


See how lush and beautiful the mountains and surrounding areas are? it reminded me so much of Ecuador.



Once we got to the highest point and got off, there were folks around offering to take pictures in exchange for tips so we decided to go for it and have a little bit of fun. The guy who was taking our pictures was hilarious as he kept coming up with different poses and suggestions, it was all in good fun and we had a few laughs.



After getting done with the cable car we went to a factory that produces rum and got to taste some samples. Rum is way to strong a drink for me but they had some with sweet flavors but you could still taste how strong the drink was. Getting inside the factory felt like going into a dungeon, it was dark and had an underground feel to it which was a bit creepy at first. I hope the pictures below give you an idea of what I am talking about.





We hit up a couple more factories but I can't say there was much to write home about. I think at this point  I have checked out enough chocolate and jewelry making factories that nothing wows me about the process anymore. Besides, it got a bit exhausting going from one factory to another to be shown a five minute video and quick demonstration of the process before being given time to buy some of the goods if you so wished. I was telling my husband it felt like we were being dragged around to spend more money and it just wasn't fun at all.

The guide finished the tour by briefly showing us parts of the city with historic significance but he skimmed over the explanation so quick that I don't even know exactly what he said about where we were. At that point my husband and I were bored and ready to head back to the resort as we both realized how bogus the whole tour was considering the price we paid for it. Such a rip off but at least I got to take a few cute pictures which you can enjoy below....






My conclusion about the whole experience.......total waste of money! I don't even think we got anything out of the tour and if you ask me what I learned about Puerto Plata I don't have shit to say, the only positive aspect of it was going up on the cable car. Other than that, everything else was just bullshit (excuse the bad language but that's an expression of my annoyance with the whole thing).

Random Thoughts Of The Day:

If I got a dollar for every time someone here in the DR has asked me when I am getting pregnant, I think I would have quite a nice stash. These are the frequent questions I keep getting: When are you getting pregnant? why are you not pregnant? don't you like babies? next time you visit we hope you will visit with your own baby..........and it goes on and on....

Sheesh! never has my womb received this much attention outside of my gynecologist's office. Mark you, my husband never gets asked about babies, it all falls on me "when will you give your husband a baby?" Uuum?! last time I checked getting pregnant was a two way thing, a baby is not mine to give.

I was hanging out with some of my husband's cousins who are super attractive and have very nice hour glass figures. In my mind I was thinking, "I should find out from them how to get my stomach that flat because my waistline has been struggling since I hit a certain age!" let's just say the secret to those perfect hour glass figures is an appointment with certain doctors here on the Island, turns out they all got liposuction and boob jobs (they are very open about it). I must admit their doctors did a very good job because you can not tell they had work done. The DR is pretty popular with cosmetic surgery so it comes as no surprise, some women from the US come here to get work done on the cheap.

Not all his cousins have had work done though and the ones who got work done didn't even need it to begin with. Seeing their before pictures I thought they were just fine, but I guess to each their own.

I thought men in Cali, Colombia were fussy about their looks until I observed Dominican men. I am talking about very well manicured hands, nicely shaped & meticulously tweezed eyebrows, no armpit hair to be seen, outfits put together well and hair very well styled and groomed.

I think the DR has some really attractive people. There is a lot of mixture here and some of the outcome is very unique and striking, I have seen some of the most beautiful complexions that can not be described. I have also seen the cutest kids ever! they are so adorable you just want to hug them tight and pinch their cute little cheeks (as weird as that sounds).