It’s funny the things you don’t notice when you are just existing during your everyday life. Sure, you might notice the change of the season thanks to the difference in temperature, but for the most part the more subtle changes, like what flowers are in bloom, completely pass me by. Although I’m not normally the planning type, I did make an itinerary of my trip mainly to appease my fiancee, but also so that I wouldn’t get lost. It was during my research that I discovered there was a rose garden 4 stops away from my hotel the Roserar de Cervantes. Sadly, my trip to Barcelona was just a couple days shy of the international rose competition, but the timing couldn’t have been better. I’m not really one who enjoys dealing with crowds, it makes me feel suffocated so in some ways, I was glad that I was missing the festival. Sure, I wouldn’t be able to get up close with the new roses, but I was happy that I could avoid crowds. According to all of the sites I had visited, the Roserar de Cervantes was not a big tourist location.
Barcelona is full of interesting and varied buildings thanks to the relative age of the city. You can wander throughout the city and feel like you are in a completely different area than you had been a couple blocks ago. There is one consistent however, and that is the architecture of Antoni Gaudi. You can easily spot his work in Barcelona from both the lines as well as the general appearance of the buildings.
I’m by no stretch of the imagination a religious person, so perhaps it would come as a surprise to many that I would willingly experience a Christian pilgrimage to the Monsterrat Monastery. I had no interest in actually going inside the monastery. My main objective was to hopefully see some spectacular sites along the various trails. I was prepped and ready to get up early and start.
Of course, when that “early” came, I kind of slept through until around 10.30am. Crap, Crap, Crap. I knew that it would take me around an hour to travel to Montserrat and back, which didn’t give me a whole lot of time to actually see everything I wanted. I was hoping that I would still be able to get to the top of Sant Jeroni and also hike down to Sant Joan. Lucky for me, the train out there was fairly uncrowded. That’s where my luck ended. The cable car to get to the top of the mountain was pretty packed. I was squeezed into the corner and could barely peek my head over the railing to see the amazing view as we climbed higher and higher up. The ride didn’t take too long, but we ascended a couple couple hundred feet.
There was no time to spare. I immediately made a bee-line to the nearest map and looked at the route to Sant Jeroni. According to all of the reviews and guides I’ve read, Sant Jeroni boasted amazing views. I couldn’t miss it. It had been a while since I had been hiking, almost a half a year to be exact, but it couldn’t be that bad…right?
It’s been a dream of mine to go to Spain ever since I had my first tapa. My desire to travel there was rekindled after I watched Anthony Bourdain’s trip as he indulged in the fresh and canned seafood near the port. Of course, I also wanted to go to experience the culture and learn more about its history, but come on. It was really about the food.
I was torn between traveling to other areas in Spain or simply staying in Barcelona for the week I was there. Ultimately, I decided to just stay put in Barcelona. One week really isn’t that long and there was plenty that I wanted to do. Normally, I travel with one other person, but unfortunately my travel buddy was not available for this one, so I was on my own.
The one thing that I was craving while I was down in Boston for Pax East was some chowder. Or as the Bostonians say chowda. We tried the No Name Restaurant, which was rather disappointing in the seafood chowder department. It was a bit too oily and watery. One of our cab drivers then suggested the Union Oyster House. According to him it had the best chowder in Boston and, as a bonus, is also the oldest restaurant in the US. Now when we say oldest, this restaurant has been in the same place in continuous service since 1826. I can see why. The food was pretty good.
When I first stepped into the Boston Convention center, I was overwhelmed with the amount of people who gathered together for Pax East. For those that don’t know, Pax East is a video game convention in Boston, MA where a bunch of AAA and Indie developers get together to showcase their coolest products. This was my very first convention and I was there with a media pass. Probably the best and only way to attend these kinds of conventions. While I was there on “official business” I was able to fully enjoy myself and revel in the geekery around me.
The US Virgin Islands, like so much of the Caribbean is picturesque. I think it’s practically impossible to take a bad picture. The views from the mountaintops and on the beaches are amazing and the contrast in colors just lends itself to amazing photos. Enjoy the gorgeous photos I were able to take below!
Let’s face it. We all want to travel more, but it takes a lot of time and money. How can we afford a vacation if we don’t have any time off left from work? That kind of thinking holds us back from taking a trip of any kind. Rather than focus on taking one very long trip, why not consider taking many short trips throughout the year? You may not be able to travel to a different country, but you’ll be able to get out of the house and explore places you otherwise would not have visited. If you don’t have vacation time, or you want to save it up for a really big trip at some point, schedule on the national holidays that your company observes. Prices may be a little higher, but you won’t have to use vacation or sick days.
Travel Tip #1: Travel Off Peak
Airfare is expensive nowadays even within the US, so it can be hard to find good rates. While it might be time-consuming, the best way is to go to sites like kayak.com and check up on the rates daily.
If you’re traveling to St. John and St. Thomas, you’re pretty much guaranteed amazing views and beaches regardless of where you go. There are, however, a handful of places that you should definitely stop by during your visit. Forget Magen’s Bay, it doesn’t have have anything on some of these beautiful beaches.
This is, by far, the prettiest beach on St. Thomas. Prettier than Magen’s and Sapphire combined. The water just looks prettier. Maybe it’s because of the soft, white sand or maybe it’s the fact that the waves don’t crash that hard on the beach. Either way, it’s incredibly relaxing. They actually filmed a couple Corona commercials at this location, so you can imagine just how scenic it is. There is a small fee, but you get lockers, a shower and life guards. It’s a hidden gem of a beach. If you’re looking for it, look for a sign that points to Smith Bay.
After around 3 hours of hiking at the Reef Bay Trail, Jill and I were quite famished. Not surprising considering all we had for breakfast was some trail mix and water. We drove around, admiring the view and making sure that we didn’t hit any stray cows or goats as we made the practically 180 degree turns in the road. We reached Coral Bay and stopped at the first place that we came upon that also had parking – Skinny Legs.