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.
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.
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.
“Let’s take the 6.30am car barge to St. John so that we can get to the Reef Bay Trail.”
“Uh…so that means we have to wake up at 5am?”
The warm breeze hits me and that’s when I know, I’m in the Caribbean. This is no place for my sweater. Even in the middle of November the weather is perfect 83 degrees. Paradise? Yes. Everything is like a scene out of a movie. Even the airport is scenic. And of course, the main thing to remember about being on an island, everything moves a little slower. Everyone is on island-time.
After getting our rental Jeep, we soon realized that getting around the island wasn’t as easy as we were expecting. Streets were not labeled and roads that were supposed to connect with each other led to a dead end. We circled around the same way at least ten times before deciding to commit to a route. Eventually, we found our hotel, The Inn at Blackbeard’s Castle. We were greeted by several nudists (we were warned beforehand that there was a nudist party) and led to our room. For $90/night, the room had all the necessities: two beds, air conditioner, shower and toilet. It wasn’t the most luxurious, but it certainly did the trick. On premise there were also three pools, a bar and also several different sites that we were able to go to for free since we were staying at the hotel: Blackbeard’s castle, 99 steps, Rum Factory, The Amber Museum and more. They’re all fairly close to each other and eventually lead down to Charlotte Amalie for some excellent Duty-Free shopping.
If it hadn’t been for Jill, I most likely never would have gone down to Lexington, KY. I’m glad I did despite the travel mishaps. There was a lot to see and plenty of cool places to go. Besides that, it was also an incredibly scenic place complete with a cute city and gorgeous, wide-open plots of land. It’s such an interesting mix of landscapes and fun people (especially that chick in the superhero outfit), I couldn’t help but like it.