Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Sights and Architecture in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico


For the third part (of four) in my mini-series on Puerto Rico, I wanted to share a few photos of the gorgeous architecture found in and around Old San Juan- the historic district of the island's capital.  

Although the buildings in Puerto Rico borrow from both Spanish architecture and Caribbean color patterns, the city is definitely unique.  As I wandered through the narrow cobblestone streets, I couldn't help but notice the enticing mix of colors, lines, and overall Puerto Rican flair.  

Window gardens adorn a majority of the brightly painted buildings, and interior courtyards filled with palm trees and exotic plants beg to be explored.  Personally, I'm a pretty big fan of the way that most homes seem to be centered around the open garden area, and would love to call one of these Spanish, colonial style homes my own.  Unfortunately, that's going to set me back at least a million dollars- So I guess it's apartment style living for me.... for now.  

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Exploring Historic San Juan

Since I started writing about my trip to Puerto Rico in yesterday's post, I figured that I would go ahead and turn it into a mini-series since there is so much to talk about.  Be sure to stick around to hear a little more about Puerto Rico's sights and tastes, because let's be honest, food is definitely one of the best parts of travel.  

The island has got some of the coolest history, as it's an eclectic mix of Spanish, American, and Caribbean.  If you've read some of my previous posts, you probably know I'm not a huge history buff or museum lover, as I prefer to really experience history by being there and actually walking where they walked, seeing what they saw, etc.  Two great places for exploring like this are the forts that once guarded the capital of San Juan. 

Fort San Felipe del Morro and Fort San Cristóbal are both open to the public with minimal entrance fees.  While there, you can see various historical exhibits and explore most of the forts (including the dungeon and various underground passageways).  After you see one, you can catch a trolley or walk to the other.  Though they're pretty similar, you'll receive a pretty nice discount on your second admission, and both have several unique aspects.  

If forts aren't really your forte, pun intended, all you need to do to experience a little history is just wander through Old San Juan.  The neighborhood is full of beautiful old buildings and courtyards, delicious eateries, and plenty of entertainment.  Just beware of the tourist trap shops which fill some streets.  For shopping and souvenirs, you're better off looking for a local market or festival. 

Tune in tomorrow when I'll be sharing photos of the brightly colored architecture, some of my favorite in all of my travels thus far! 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

I Went to a Rainforest Once.

When I look back at photos of previous travels, part of me smiles at the memories that flood my mind as if it were just yesterday while part of me groans, "How was it that long ago already?"  

Shortly after high-school graduation, my best friend and I reunited (She lives in Canada and I in Tennessee, USA) for a senior trip to Puerto Rico.  Though this island is technically part of the United States (and is even starting to want to become the 51st state), it couldn't be more different than the America I knew.  

Puerto Rico's El Yunque is the only rainforest in the United States and is located in the north eastern corner of the island.  A short drive from the capital, San Juan, El Yunque offers guided and self-guided tours through the gorgeous forest.  With free admission (and just $5 for an hour long guided tour) El Yunque is definitely a must-see for visitors to Puerto Rico.  I only wish that I had given myself more time to explore the countless waterfalls and trails!

Friday, November 16, 2012



When I visited my friend Sara, who was studying abroad just outside of London, she insisted on a trip to Windsor to see the castle.  Since I only had two days in England, I was hesitant to spend nearly a whole day on the trip to the castle, but I couldn't have been happier with our decision.  

The day started out with a traditional English breakfast: scrambled eggs, fried ham and a thick sausage, baked beans, grilled tomatoes and mushrooms, and fried toast.  As a lover of breakfast foods and of baked beans and tomatoes, I was in food heaven.  Of course, as I chowed down on my manly sized portion, Sara delicately munched on a croissant and a cappuccino... I almost ordered seconds.  

Ever since I began planning my trip to England, I knew I needed a photo with the traditional English guards.  However, somehow I missed out on two key pieces of information.
1. When it begins to get even a little cold out, the guards cover up their classic 
red jackets with long gray coats.  No red-coated guards for me...
2. The guards are downright terrifying.  You try marching right up to a machine-gun-bearing, 
6 foot something, likely war experienced soldier and smiling for a photo. 

Although I wasn't permitted to take photos, you can actually tour a large part of the castle and accompanying church and grounds.  From the displays of knights' armor to the delicate china and elaborately furnished sitting rooms, this place is castle through and through. 

For €10 (and a free pass for the rest of the year), Windsor is definitely a must-see for London travelers.  
Any other castle recommendations?  What places are your favorites?

Friday, November 9, 2012


I'm the worst when it comes to blogging absences.  I used to be great about consistent, well-thought out posts, but it seems like life has just been a lot busier lately- and as much as I love my blog(s), I'm a firm believer that real-life people and things have got to come first.  

Anyways, this time I actually have an exciting excuse... I've been applying for jobs!  Graduation is still about 6 months out, but I'm a planner by nature and can't wait to start figuring out what life holds for me next.  After all, who wouldn't want to start an apartment or city board on Pinterest that they will actually be using?  

This week's new additions to the job list is an ESL position in Spain and a Corporate Marketing job in Pittsburgh.  To sweeten the deal, I have an interview for the coolest internship on Tuesday....  And I have no idea what to wear.  Shopping trip this weekend?  I think yes.  

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Exploring Gettysburg

One of my favorite things about college is the ability to take advantage of frequent (and cheap) student trips.  This past weekend I joined two campus clubs in their trek to Gettysburg, PA.  Seeing as though the town is home to some one of the most important battles in our nation's history, and my college is only a few hours away, it's pretty surprising I hadn't made time for the trip yet. 

The dreariness of the day only added to the sadness that you feel as you think about immesity of the battle that was fought here.  While I love visiting almost anywhere, knowing the history of a location really adds to your experience as a travel, whether that be to the collesuem in Rome or the battlefields of Gettysburg.

Like many other popular destinations, some parts of the town are overrun by tourist traps; However, if you go to the right places, Gettysburg can be a really great day trip.  If you visit, make sure to visit the National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center.  For about $10, you gain access to a really great museum featuring all aspects of the Civil War and the Battle of Gettysburg.  Coming from a non-museum fan, it actually is worth your time.  After that, take a self guided (driving) tour of important places from the battle.  Not only are these locations specified by signage and audio tours, but there are tons of statues and monuments that, in my opinion, really bring things to life.  

For dinner, we ate at the Dobbin House Tavern, which I highly reccommend.  The tavern is styled to be exactly like a tavern in the 1700s, and not in a cheesy way.  Regarding entertainment, a word to those in search of one of the many ghost tours that happen nightly- do a little research beforehand to make sure you really get what you're looking for.  Our group purchased tickets from the first vendor we came across and honestly wasted our time that evening.  

Lastly, if you do visit Gettysburg anytime soon, be sure to visit the National Cemetary and the town center- the two places I regretfully didn't make it to.  

Do you like traveling to historic places?  I need some good cities to put on my travel list!