The Prague Socialite: Living in a Story Book

After two weeks, I still can’t get over how beautiful of a city Prague is. The Bronx and New York City in general is beautiful, but in such different ways. You could literally spend an entire day just gazing upwards at the buildings. Just regular buildings like the one I’m staying in have detailed statues on the outside and the buildings are just so many colors. It’s just been a fantastic two weeks meeting new people, going to all the restaurants and all the pubs. Anyhow, here’s a few photos from this past week .We went on a boat tour so I got some really great shots from the Vltava river.

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The Prague Socialite : The First Week

So, it has officially been one week since I moved to Prague. It still hasn’t really set in that I’m going to be spending the next 10 or so months here, but it still has been amazing. I love architecture and I think have spent a good chunk of my time just marveling at the colors and details of the buildings. The cobblestone streets are obviously just charming by nature (that is until I go somewhere that warrants wearing heels. Then I may just need to Uber it because that’s just a skill on its own.)  I’m in class for most of the day, but I still managed to take a few pictures to share with you.

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The Prague Socialite?

I have been waiting to announce this for a while now, so I’m excited to finally reveal this to you all. This month, I will be moving to Prague, Czech Republic to teach English for the next year. As much as I love the Bronx and New York City, I have always wanted to live in another country.  Wake up somewhere totally different, just be completely out of my element, really.

Over the past couple of months, I’ve been sharing some of my travel experiences, in preparation for this moment. I’ll be sharing this new chapter of my life with you here. Obviously, I will not be able to share any Bronx reviews with you, but I will continue to post any event info that comes along my way so I can live vicariously through you.

It’ll be an adjustment for sure (just think of all the Summerstage performances I’ll be missing!) but I’m excited to be able to document my experiences here. Growing up I didn’t know many people who traveled internationally like this and I’m very fortunate to have traveled as far and wide as I have, let alone the opportunity to spend an entire year away. Looking forward to hearing some of your travel stories too!

Stay tuned…

 

Honeymoon in Peru

Things have been very quiet around here because I have been traveling seemingly nonstop for the practically the entire month of July. (There’s more travel ahead along with a big announcement, but that’s a post for another day.) My husband and I went on a very belated honeymoon trip to Peru. Unlike ordinary people, who go and relax on a tropical island, we are crazy and headed to South America (where it is currently  winter!) on an active 11 day adventure.

We booked a tour via Gate 1 because I didn’t want to have to plan anything. I just wanted to show up. This was our first time using Gate 1, but our amazing tour guide, Edgard, was super knowledgable and made the trip go really smoothly. It was at first a little awkward to be spending our honeymoon with like 20 other people from around the world and aside from some microagressions (“I’m just going to touch your hair without permission because that’s not an invasion of your space or anything.” and “Hey, you’re a person of color, you know about gangs, right?” type shit.), we had a really great time getting to know our fellow travelers.

What We Saw

Machu Pichu, duh! We also saw the Pisac Ruins and the Uros Floating Islands. My favorite activities were actually when we got away from all of the touristy stuff like when we got to have dinner with a local family and spoke with local artisans. And because I’m a nerd, I loved going to Kennedy Park, a.k.a. the cat park to creep and take pictures of all of the cats chilling in the flowers and trees.

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Where We Stayed

Because it was a tour, we stayed at a number of hotels. Two that stuck out to me were the Jose Antonio Hotels. We stayed in one in Cusco and one in Lima. Very different experiences. The Jose Antonio in Cusco was fantastic. I even got a massage there during a spare moment of down time. It was so relaxing after all of that running around! The one in Lima, however, was a different story. The front desk staff was hit and miss – some were nice and helpful and others were cold and unfriendly. Ugh. We actually stayed there in the beginning of our trip and at the end. During our second visit, they put my bag in someone else’s room and told me to go find it. Luckily, it was in one our fellow travelers’ rooms and not some stranger’s! Good thing I decided to use my travel lock. The bed in our first room was actually so hard, I lifted up the sheets to make sure we weren’t sleeping on a boxspring. We ended up putting the comforter down and sleeping on top of  it for some relief.

Transportation

One of the coolest features of this tour (that I didn’t register when I booked it, because, again, I just wanted to show up) was that we traveled using four different types of transportation – we flew, took a boat, drove (for 9 hours!) took the Peru Rail – a.k.a. the Hogwarts express.

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Tips

A couple of years ago, we went to Argentina and while we realized that it would be winter, we thought it’d be like a Florida winter, where you could get by with a good hoodie. We were very wrong. I kept that lesson in mind when packing for Peru and packed my Uniqlo Ultra Light down jacket. It folds up really small and comes with a little much you can stick it in when you don’t need it. With one layer, I was all set to go. This is not and ad or endorsement, these jackets are just really great for travel.

Another tip is to try ALL the food. I think this is to be said when you travel anywhere, but Peruvian food is just soooo good. Eat all the ceviche, all the pollo a la brasa, and at least try the guinea pig. I’m not joking.

 

 

Trip Recap: South Africa

To continue sharing some of my travels you, I figured I’d do some trip recaps to give some insight into some of the amazing places I’ve been fortunate enough to visit. In August 2016, my friends and I embarked on a trip to visit Johannesburg, Phalaborwa, and Cape Town.

Lodging

In Johannesburg, we were lucky enough to stay with my friend’s cousin. Staying with a local is the best way to really get a feel for a place.

In Phalaborwa, we stayed at Sunbird Lodge, a cute guesthouse with beautiful grounds you could probably spend hours admiring.

In Cape Town, we stayed at a loft via Airbnb. Centrally located and around the corner from the most delicious eatery, Eastern Food Bazaar. I hate to go to the same restaurant more than once when I travel, but this was so worth it.

Things to Do

My favorite thing about Johannesburg was visiting the Apartheid Museum. As someone who is mixed (black & Puerto Rican), in South Africa I’m considered “coloured” which is a really weird experience. Obviously, we have our own racial issues here in the U.S., but it’s very different, of course, than what South Africa has been through. We didn’t have a whole lot of time, but I’m very glad we visited. There’s so much history that I had no clue about.

In Phalaborwa, we went on a safari – something I’ve wanted to do since I was a child. We saw baboons, zebras, elephants ,giraffes, impalas, bison, and so many more I’m sure I’m forgetting. It was an incredible experience.

Cape Town had so so so much to offer. The exchange rate is pretty awesome for us, so I did lots of shopping. One of my favorite shops was a thrift store named Afraid of Mice.  We got a great club recommendation from the employees there, after our first attempt was a bust. So, we headed to Coco that night, where AKA was making an appearance (He is apparently the South African Kanye West). It was probably one of the best club experiences I’ve had (except for the fact that unlike in NYC, people can smoke indoors, so I definitely smelled like straight up Marlboro afterward.)  And last, but definitely not least, we made a trip to Table Mountain.  With its breath-taking sights and the signature cable car ride up, it’s not to be missed.

Getting Around 

Of course, while In Jo-burg, we got around with my friend’s cousin. However, in Phalaborwa, you can walk around, of course,  but Kruger is definitely the main draw. There are also Hippo Crossing signs everywhere, and they are actually very deadly, so we arranged to be picked up with whichever tour guide we were using that day. We used Little Shingwedzi Safaris for the much of our travel in town, to/from the airport, and to our boat tour. In Cape Town, we were able to walk around to most places and we just took Uber any other time.

 

 

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My Travel Personality

Something I touched on briefly in my Shediac post is my travel personality. Let’s first start off with what exactly that means. Your travel personality dictates where you stay and what you do while on vacation. Some people like to just chill on vacation; you’re not going to see them hiking, zip lining, or anything like that. They just want an escape from their ordinary lives. Others are thrill seekers, they’re going to be zip lining, bungee jumping, scuba diving, all of that.

For me, I’m somewhere in between. I love cities, so when I travel, I’m not too interested in lounging on a beach the whole time or hiking up some mountain. That’s not to say I don’t do these things while on vacation, but I like to see other urban areas and how other countries have defined what it is to live in “the city.”

What does this look like in action?

Location, Location, Location

I usually end up going to the capital city, think: Buenos Aires, Cape Town (did you know South Africa has three capital cities?!), and London. I like cities because you’ll find ordinary citizens living their daily lives, not just tourists taking selfies everywhere. Even though I’m technically a tourist when I go abroad, I don’t act like one. I figure the same way we hate the disrespectful way many tourists behave when they come to New York, other people in other cities must hate it too. I also am annoying and talk about how similar or different everything is to New York. I’m working on it.

Getting Around

I also hate driving. I’m a stereotypical New Yorker and got my license as an adult. So when I travel I like to be centrally located near public transit or at least in a place where I can catch a cab pretty easily. I love walking so once I’ve got some comfortable shoes, I have no problem going for a long walk to check out a new and fascinating place.

Activities

I like a good mix of active, physical activities and time to relax, go shopping, etc. I like to be amongst the locals when I travel, so of course I’ll check out tourist attractions, but I also like to check out hidden gem cafe or local boutiques. I also am not opposed to curling up and watching a movie or taking a nap. Actually, naps are a must.

Packing

I’ll do a full packing post in the future, but because it is a part of my travel personality, I’ll touch on it briefly. I try to be a minimalist when packing because I like to avoid checking my bag. I don’t like to wait when I get off of the plane. I just want to take my stuff and start my adventure (or head home!). So I try to have a carry on for the overhead and a book bag with my essentials and entertainment.

Once you’ve figured out your travel personality, you’ll have a much easier time planning your trip, especially when traveling with others.

What’s your travel personality? Feel free to share in the comments!

 

 

Travel: Shediac, New Brunswick, Canada

Traveling has become such an integral part of my life that I thought it might be a cool idea to start sharing some of my experiences abroad on the blog, so every week I’ll be sharing some of my stories and maybe even some tips or recommendations.

First up, I’m going to share my most recent trip, which was to Shediac, New Brunswick, Canada. It’s all the way up near Nova Scotia.

Disclaimer: I have been fangirling over Canada since I was a preteen (because that’s totally normal, right?). In fact, my first foray out of the country was to Toronto and my trip to Shediac marks my third time visiting our neighbors up north.

Transportation

My husband was taking a class and basically I decided to tag along since I was on vacation anyway. We decided to drive and by we, I mean he, drove. It’s about 11 hours, which is a long time to be in a car. However, we did make some discoveries along the way. We decided to stop in Portland, ME both going and returning. We stopped at Salvage BBQ , a spacious barbecue spot with a smoker out back. I loved the casual vibe (especially after having been in a car for hours) and how tender the meat was (yum!). On the way back, we stopped at Isa, which I think it the kind of restaurant I’d have if I ever went into the food industry. Minimalist and with a focus on local/seasonal ingredients, Isa is a perfectly cozy spot for date night or, like us, just stopping in for lunch.

Oh, we also discovered Hot 96.9 which provided a flawless soundtrack to our drive.

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Salvage BBQ – Portland, ME

Where We Stayed

We stayed at Hotel Shedicac, a modern and fairly new hotel in the area. It houses a bistro (aptly named Le Bistro) and a restaurant called St. James Gate. Order the lobster mac and cheese, you won’t regret it.

It also has a pool, hot tub, exercise room, and game room. Because it’s off season, we pretty had these spaces to ourselves 🙂

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Hotel Shediac Room

What To Do

Shediac reminds me so much of City Island. In speaking with one of the shopkeepers on Main Street, he informed me that in the summer, Shediac is teeming with tourists checking out the restaurants and visiting the beach. In the winter, it’s a bit more calm, but  there’s still some sights to behold.

I spent a day checking out the stores on Main Street. One of my favorites was  Ancient Roots, a tea and holistic living shop. I picked up some chai and lime chiffon tea from the friendly owner who was so helpful. Another store I enjoyed was A Touch of Class, where I picked up the perfect travel sweater – long and warm like a robe with pockets to hold my miscellaneous crap. The shopkeeper was really friendly and is a fan of NYC, who gave me some tips on places to check out.

Though we didn’t make it to Magnetic Hill, it’s a very popular attraction and has a theme park in the summer.

One of Shediac’s most notable features is the Giant Lobster, which as the name implies, is a legit giant lobster statue.  It’s what welcomes you to this quaint seaside town.

We did drive around a bit and went to see a movie (ticket prices in Canada are so cheap omg!!!!!!!!) in Dieppe and went to lunch at a place called Tide and Boar in Moncton, which kind of reminded me a little of New Rochelle.

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Overall, it was a nice getaway, even though temperatures were spring-like in NYC and I was still packed away in my bubble coat and Heat Tech layers up north.