Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Cartagena, Colombia Travel Blog!



CARTAGENA, COLOMBIA Travel Blog!


Happy New Year!!! YESSS It's 2020 and it's my first blog of the year!! SO excited for this year and hope you are too! Before the year ended, I GRADUATED from Grad School!! (Whoop Whoop!!) Of course, a trip was in order and I have heard so many great things about Cartagena....the culture, the history, the food and I definitely wanted to visit. We went for a total of 5 days, which was perfect, but I could have stayed longer Lol. Keep reading for our full itinerary and travel tips!



We flew Spirit (which was actually a great experience, no complaints) and stayed at the Hyatt Regency in Bocagrande. *TIP: $1.00 = 3,288 of the Colombian Peso, so Colombia is super affordable!* Anyways,  I HIGHLY recommend the Hyatt Regency hotel. It was the perfect location in Bocagrande, which is a popular area for it's long, sandy beaches, dining scene, cafe's, and shopping. The hotel had all the bells and whistles, breakfast, infinity pool, and was walking distance to most of the restaurants and about 10 minutes away from the Walled City.

The Walled City should definitely be on your list of sites to see! It is an historic wall that surrounds old town Cartagena with colonial architecture, bars, restaurants, and of course the beautiful murals and Palenqueras.



We booked all of our excursions with Experience The Real Cartagena (Alex Rocha) ✊🏾 and they were amazing! They are a Black owned company and pride themselves in "Letting a Black Man teach you Black History" They offer tons of tours that all include lunch and history of Cartagena.


We went to Palenque, a town established by run away slaves with African roots where we learned about music, dance, culture and their way of living. We met with the locals, visited a dance school where the children danced for us, and learned about their history. 




 The tour also came with a delicious lunch! The traditional Colombian meal of Fried fish, coconut rice, plantains, and salad...DELICIOSO!





We also visited El Totumo Mud Volcano, and active mud volcano popular for its alleged healing. Great and weird experience! You bathe in the mud and can get a massage (or not) and are washed off by locals in the sea. Unfortunately the Pink Sea, which I wanted to see, was closed during our visit, but the tour usually visits it as well.

 


*TIP: Hopefully your bargaining skills are good, EVERYTHING is negotiable and you will be approached multiple times to buy things, etc. The best way to say no is "No Gracias". *

And Yes, Colombia is a Spanish speaking country, so I would brush up on your Spanish as well!  Other tours they offer are a Party Bus and a Boat tour, unfortunately we did not have enough time  (sad face) Will do next time!



The Palenqueras are colorfully dressed women who historically commuted to Cartagena from Palenque to sell candy and fruit. Today, they thrive off tourism and are an iconic symbol of Cartagena, highly respected, hard-working women that represent strength and resilience in Afro-Colombian heritage. 






Cartagena is a beautiful city, full of life! I cannot wait to go back! Explore the city, eat, drink, meet the locals, and soak in all the culture this beautiful city has to offer. 


 

Thank you for stopping by! I had an amazing time and encourage everyone to TRAVEL the WORLD. There is so much to see and appreciate about other cultures!

Travel leaves you Speechless, Then turns you into
a Story Teller - IBN Battuta



 


Thank you for reading!







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Monday, May 20, 2019

Bali Travel Guide and Vlog


BALI TRAVEL GUIDE & VLOG

Bali is a whole mood! I visited Bali with my husband for our 8th year anniversary and fell in love immediately. Watch my BALI TRAVEL GUIDE VLOG below and read the rest of this post to get all the details!




We flew from Orlando, Fl on Singapore Airlines, which I recommend. It is an airline very similar to Emirates airlines. We had three layovers, in New York, Germany, and Singapore, and was about a 24 flight and took two days to get there. So, keep that in mind if you plan a trip to Bali, you will lose two days traveling. Their money, which is called the Indonesian Rupiah conversion rate is about 14,000 ≈ $1.00 US. We exchanged our money in their airport.  We landed in the morning and our driver took us right to our hotel, the Amatara Royal Ganesha, a 5 star hotel in Ubud (About $50 US a night). We were so extremely jet-lagged we fell asleep all day and all night LOL!



On DAY 2, our actual anniversary, we woke up bright and early for my floating breakfast which I reserved with the hotel the day before. They bring out your breakfast for you in the beautiful infinity pool over looking the rice paddies and I took pictures galore (My hubby is amazing!) and afterwards ate breakfast.


 

Our driver, Gede, who was absolutely the perfect driver and we HIGHLY recommend as well! Before our trip, I reserved him. I gave him my itinerary and he made a few changes to give us the best Bali experience. He takes you anywhere you want to go, all day long for $40 US!! His contact information is below!




After breakfast, Gede took us to our first stop, which was the Bali Swing. For $35 US per person, you get unlimited swings on any of their 18 swings and pictures in nests, on rocks, etc.  plus, lunch is included.

 







We stopped at the Tegalalang Rice Terraces where you can walk around the rice paddies before heading to the Sacred Monkey Sanctuary Forest. Here you walk through the sanctuary or natural habitat of Balinese long tailed Monkey. They are roaming free and you should not touch them or stare them in the eye. They may see that as a threat. The monkeys seemed very chill to me, however, other tourists complained that monkeys stole their belongings. So just be safe and smart! 😊

 


Our last stop was the Tegenungan Waterfall, one of the most popular waterfalls in Bali. For less than a $1 US, you can hike the waterfall, swim, and enjoy the scenery. I would definitely bring water shoes. There is also a swing at the waterfall! One of my favorite parts of Bali.

 


We ended the day eating dinner at a restaurant our driver took us too (Sorry I can’t remember the name) The chicken satay was delicious and affordable. Our driver warned us about eating the street food and that it will give us “Bali Belly” aka nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. So, I would advise against that! Go the restaurants in the city center of Ubud that are geared towards tourists. We knocked out that night!


The next day our driver took us to the Lempuyang temple where you see the “Gates of Heaven” and get the infamous picture! Definitely get there early, we got there a 9am and waited 1 and a half hours for the picture, some people we met, waited 3 hours! 





 Stop two, was to the Tirta Gangga Water Palace where less then a $1 you can walk around the beautiful grounds and feed the koi fish.

Later on the night, we went to the Udaya Resort and Spa for a couple’s massage and flower bath. I did make a reservation before I left and put a deposit down. It was such a relaxing experience and the massage and bath were perfect!  The massage was about $75 US and the bath was about $40 US. Make sure you ask for the “Celebration of Flowers” when booking and you can choose however you want the flowers to be designed. 






The next day we checked out of our hotel after breakfast and another swim, and our driver took us to Kuta Bali. Kuta is a touristy beach resort area off the coast of Bali known for surfing, backpackers, and clubs. Other great beach areas to stay are Seminyak and Jimbaran, which are more family friendly. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express Baruna, another 5 star hotel (About $50 US a night) We let our driver go home and took a Grab (Similar to Uber) to the Beach Walk mall and two other malls in the area. This area has tons of restaurants, massages and shopping in the area that are all in walking distances. Beach walk mall had Zara and H&M plus Top Shop and other great stores if you love shopping like us.

The next day we went to the Uluwatu Temple, which a is a sea temple with the best views I have ever seen. There were also monkey roaming around there too, but they were much more aggressive!


 

We went to Dream Land Beach after, which was beautiful and good for surfing, not swimming. The waves were huge and will knock you right off your feet! We went to our hotel afterwards to swim in the hotel infinity pool at sunset. Another highlight of the trip.


 Gede had added having a seafood dinner in Jimbaran to the itinerary. This dinner should be added to everyone’s itinerary. We went to the Ganesha Café, where you first pick your seafood, whether, fish, shrimp, lobster, crab, etc. and they make it fresh however you like and bring it to your table on the beach. You get to eat a delicious and fresh seafood dinner overlooking the waves with live entertainment. Another highlight of the trip!





On our last day we got massages (About 7$ an hour) at one of our favorite spots in Kuta CARLA SPA and did souvenir shopping. Bali is always a good idea and I am so happy and blessed that we were able to visit. The people are the nicest, most genuine, I’ve met, and the culture is so humble and 
gracious. Bali…TERIMA KASIH (Thank you)








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Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Washington DC in 3 Days! Travel + Style




Washington DC in 3 Days!




Happy Black History Month everyone!

Other then April (My Birthday month), February is also one of my favorite months! First...it's Black History Month..(duh) and of course Valentine's Day, but also because it is a Winter month and it actually gets cold in Florida!

This year with being in Grad school (ugh), I am loving short three day weekend getaways! And I love planning trips! I was looking through flights and saw that Frontier Airlines had flights to DC for $100 r/t. So my husband and I booked them fast! ** Just some tips about flying Frontier if you have not already. It is a no frills budget airline similar to Spirit. So if you want to pack a carry on or check in a bag you will have to pay extra**

My husband and I are chill travelers so we just get a duffle bag and roll up our clothes! I also am a frequent traveler and use a travel credit card and I racked up enough points to stay at a beautiful hotel, The Hampton Inn Washington DC NoMa, which was very close in proximity to everything that DC has a to offer! Let's start our trip!

Hampton Inn Washington DC NoMa


Day 1: We flew in to Dulles International Airport (IAD), which is actually in Virginia, but the DC area is known as the DMV (DC, Maryland, and Virginia) due to their closed proximity to each other. For transportation, we took LYFT for the whole trip. Just some tips if you've ever used ride sharing, as a first time user you can use promo codes and get a discount. Here is my code to LYFT (RACHAEL77819) to get $20 off your first ride! And UBER to get $5 off your first ride! And ALWAYS make sure the license plate matches and that you get into your right UBER/LYFT!

When we arrived, it was close to evening. Our hotel was close to Union station which is a train station and also a mall and eatery. Our hotel had a free shuttle, so we took it to Union station did some shopping and The Capital was in walking distance so we walked over to the capital and did some sightseeing and took some pictures. We worked up a hunger (They don't feed you on Frontier lol) so I Yelped a Burger place called The Capital Burger, which served up some really great burgers and I would definitely recommend. I love traveling in comfort and style, and have really started to love athleisure wear. Got this super comfortable Green Adidas Hoodie and Leggings Set from Amazon to keep me warm.

     












Day 2: It was my husband's 1st time in DC so I wanted to show him all the Monuments and museums. I used Groupon ( DC Trails ) and got a Hop On/Hop Off tour on a Double Decker Bus. The tour takes you all around DC and you can hop on and hop off as he pleased. Our 1st stop was The National Portrait Gallery which I have been dying to go to, to see the portrait of President Barack Obama and 1st lady Michelle Obama. The best thing about DC is that all the museums are free so we just walked in and got to see the beautiful portraits. Yess! Definitely need to see their portraits and the many other portraits in the museum.


 


We hopped back on the bus and we took it to the National Mall where most of the monuments are. We first say the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, the Washington monument, the Reflecting Pool, and the Lincoln Memorial. These are the quintessential monuments that I would recommend see.
 

   


For some Black History, visit Ben's Chili Bowl on U street, which is a black historical restaurant. It was built in 1958 by Mrs. Virginia. The restaurant has seen it all! We saw her on a TV show and wanted to say hello and she was so sweet and happy to take pic with us. Also President Barack Obama came here right before his inauguration in 2008 at ate there. They have a chair there with his picture behind it and I had to sit in the chair! We also loved the Barack & Michelle mural on side of the building. Now you guys know I love a good mural!


 


Found this other beautiful rainbow LOVE
mural in Blagden Alley along with many more.

 
We ended the day with dinner at Georgia Brown's, a soul-food restaurant that I never leave DC without going to!  I stayed uber warm the whole day this cozy Chunky Red SweaterFaux Fur Hat, and thigh high boots from Rue 21. I finished off my look with Gold Mirrored Sunglasses , a black Michael Kors Crossbody, and my favorite High-Waisted Jeans! Click the links to shop my look in my Amazon Store + More looks!





Day 3: Now the main reason I wanted to visit Washington DC was because I have tried two times before to go to the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC), but never got to go. It is a free museum to visit however you need tickets 3 months in advance or a lottery system that opens 6:30 am in the morning and on Sunday, we got some!




 I would HIGHLY suggest that Everyone visit this museum! And spend 2 days there! We initially thought 4 to 5 hours would be enough to see the whole museum but we were so wrong. The museum starts from when the colonizers came to Africa, stole Africans to enslave them, and then brought them over to the Americas, The Caribbean, and basically all over. I guarantee you will learn things you never knew about African American history and culture. The museum spans 7 floors I believe all the way to the present.


 


My husband and I will definitely be back again because it was so enriching to learn about our history and culture and where we came from and where we are going. Some other DC eats I recommend is Busboys and Poets which we didn't get to visit this time but I've been before and I definitely recommend!

 



Thank you for reading! I love learning about other places to visit, eat, etc! If you have any other suggestions comment and let me know! I'll put them on my bucket list...MUAH!







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