Destination: Philadelphia

As you walk through the streets of Philadelphia every corner has so much history, so much future and so much beauty.  While I was admiring the beautiful buildings in center city, I took a second and looked down (because we almost never look down), when I noticed I was walking on beautiful red-brown cobble stone streets that have probably seen millions of people as the city slowly ages. This contrast of old guard versus new is one that I admire about Philadelphia along with many other beautiful and tasty things. 

City Center Philadelphia

Food Scene

Fork Restaurant Philadelphia

The City of Brotherly Love has an explosive food scene with chefs such as Jose Garces, Guillermo Telez and Ellen Yin, who are constantly pushing the envelope with the delicacies they are creating daily in their restaurants.  If you haven’t checked out their restaurants in Philadelphia then you need to make sure you visit and of course plan ahead as they get booked pretty quickly.

But there are few other hidden gems can’t be missed! One of them is Oyster House, if you get there early enough you can get a seat immediately and enjoy some of the tastiest oysters in the city. And if you want to be a bit of a dare devil take an Oyster Shooter with your choice of venom (vodka, gin or tequila). 

Oyster House Philadelphia

If you have a sweet tooth like me, then you have to visit Federal Donuts. This is a place that you have to make sure you arrive early so you can enjoy freshly hot, out-of-the-oven donuts. Each donut that I devoured just slowly melted in my mouth as I took one, two, three, four bites until it was gone. 

federal donuts.png

But you can’t visit any city in the east coast without having a slice of pizza. When in Philly, make sure you check out Pizza Brain. I had a great conversation with one of the owners who gave me a fresh slice of pizza and talked about how similar our hometown cities are (with the exception of our pizzas, but of course!). At the end of the conversation, I learned that the cost of property in Philadelphia is super cheap versus Chicago and that although Chicago has some tasty deep dish pizzas, east coast thin sliced pizzas will always hit the spot…especially after a long night out.

pizza brain.png

Culture Scene

Philadelphia's Magic Garden 2

When in Philadelphia make sure you take one day to explore the city by walking (and maybe once in a while jump on a few friendly buses when the distances are too long). This is such an easy walking city especially when you plan it right. When in Philadelphia, make sure to visit the Philadelphia's Magic Gardens. It is an outdoor mosaic art gallery and at every turn you will be surprised with the different kinds of  designs that Isaiah Zagar developed via scraps he located around the city. His work can be seen throughout South Street. As you walk through the garden you will notice a few hidden messages throughout the walls such as "love", "eat", and "it may seem puzzling". 

Philadelphia's Magic Garden

If you walk north east from the gallery, you will catch yourself in the Society Hill area where cobble stones and colonial buildings surround every step you take. As I walked through these streets during sunset on a cold November night, I felt shivers going down my spine it might be because it's a bit haunted, I don't know but that's definitely something I will leave for a future post.   

But that’s not the only place in the city where you can get that feeling, just walk through the halls of Eastern State Penitentiary where famous mobsters such as Al Capone were imprisoned before the penitentiary officially shut down and then became a museum for tourist like myself. 

If penitentiary's aren't your thing, then walk about two blocks and you will find the Philadelphia Museum of Art (or also known as the "Steps of Rocky"). I had a chance to check out a special exhibit they had of the French artist Fernand Leger. This was the first time that his paintings were exhibited in the U.S. and what better home to have it in then at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. If the exhibit makes it to your local art museum, make sure to give yourself enough time while exploring it since there are a lot of interactive pieces that allow you to further explore his artwork.

Philadelphia Museum of Art

Once you’re done exploring the museum of art, then head on out to the famous stairs and put on your famous rocky face and take as many pictures as you’d like. But watch out, this is a tourist hot spot so it can get pretty packed on the weekends and to do the Rocky run will get a little complicated as you will most likely have to dodge a kid or two. 

Rocky

But Philadelphia is not only known for all the destinations listed above, it is also known for the birthplace of democracy. The beautiful Liberty Bell is safely tucked in a gorgeous newly remodeled building where you can learn all about its long history and why the bell has that very long crack. And if you are anything like me, make sure to take a selfie or two with the bell!

selfie with liberty bell.png

Have you been to Philadelphia? If so, what’s your favorite restaurant or spot?

Destinacion: Costa Rica - Semana Santa

Costa Rica es un país lleno de una rica cultura y tradiciones profundamente arraigadas que cobran vida durante Semana Santa. Las celebraciones y comidas típicas son abundantes durante las procesiones religiosas realizadas en las calles de las distintas provincias. Ya sea participando en un evento religioso o 
simplemente disfrutando de su clima placentero, Costa Rica ofrece a las familias experiencias inolvidables en un ambiente único. 
 
Festividades y actividades tradicionales incluyen: 

Procesiones 
Una de las tradiciones de Semana Santa más reconocidas en América Latina es la procesión. 
Cada pueblo organiza misas y procesiones, que se llevan a cabo el Domingo de Ramos, 
Miércoles Santo, Jueves Santo, Viernes Santo y Domingo de Resurrección. Las procesiones 
incluyen la participación de actores que recrean los últimos días de Cristo y su resurrección. 
Las más populares se realizan en San José, Heredia, Cartago y San Joaquín de Flores, 
atrayendo a residentes locales y visitantes por igual, quienes se reúnen para observar esta 
tradición religiosa. En los pueblos más pequeños, muchos de los espectadores también se 
unen en la procesión. 
 
Los alimentos tradicionales 
En Semana Santa se consume pescado o marisco debido a la tradición católica de abstenerse 
a comer carne los viernes durante la Cuaresma. Gracias a la abundancia de mariscos frescos 
procedentes de sus dos costas, se sirve una variedad de deliciosos platos como sopa de 
pescado, pescado frito, ceviche y arroz con camarones. También se preparan varios platos con 
palmitos, así como empanadas de chiverre (un tipo de calabaza de la región) y pan relleno de 
miel de chiverre. Asimismo, es muy popular preparar miel en casa a base de una fruta o 
verdura. La papaya, el coco, el chiverre o calabazas son algunos de los favoritos, y se preparan 
con “tapa de dulce ", un ingrediente muy similar al azúcar moreno. Se hierve el agua y la tapa 
de dulce y luego se le añade la fruta junto con el clavo de olor, la canela y la vainilla. La sopa 
de bacalao también es muy popular en esta época del año. Normalmente se prepara con 
calabaza tierna, zanahorias y papas. Esta sopa es rápida y fácil de hacer y se puede comer 
como aperitivo o plato principal. 

Explorando el mar y el cielo 
Como la mayoría de los negocios, con la excepción de los destinos turísticos, cierran el jueves 
y viernes de Semana Santa, muchas familias aprovechan las más de 1.000 millas de costa. 
Con una gran cantidad de espectaculares playas que van desde playas de arena negra a 
hermosas playas densamente llenas de palmeras de coco, Costa Rica ofrece el sitio ideal para 
todos los amantes de la playa. Para aquellos que buscan aventura, Costa Rica se encuentra en el corazón de una de las regiones volcánicas más activas del mundo. El país es hogar de 200 formaciones volcánicas incluyendo el Arenal, Rincón de la Vieja, Irazú y Poás, el volcán más alto del país. No importa qué región elijan los viajeros, uno de los 28 parques nacionales de Costa Rica les espera para su exploración. 

Transient

Being a #NuevaLatina

I am excited to announce that myself along with my two blogger friends Rory from Mama Contemporanea and Vanessa from Queen of Swag are the official blogger ambassadors for the Procter & Gamble program, Nueva Latina.

To launch this initiative, we all traveled to New York City and enjoyed an evening of pampering, great cocktails, catching up with old friends, meeting new ones, and getting to learn more about the Nueva Latina campaign.

During the event we also had the chance to welcome some strong Latina celebrities such as Lala Anthony and Roselyn Sanchez.

My favorite part of the night was definitely the Nueva Latina monologues. This was a 30 minute show consisted of short story skits where the cast fully went into explaining some of the beautiful struggles we "nueva latinas" go through day in and day out. These ladies were fantastic and I can say I personally connected with a lot of the brief skits and I can't wait to see it again at Hispanicize 2014.

Now you might be asking, what does Nueva Latina mean?

Nueva Latina is a campaign that rests on the notion that there is no singular definition to describe the Latina experience and her blended cultures. Showcasing the evolution of the Latino community that lives in "two worlds": one that holds onto its cultural roots while the other immerses into an American life.

When I received the opportunity to work on this campaign I immediately said yes because I truly know how it feels to be an immigrant constantly looking for ways to hold onto my Venezuelan/Spanish roots while living in the "American dream."

At home, I am all about enjoying my

arepas con huevo frito y queso del año

, and when I am out with friends I love to indulge in a variety of different meals such as Thai, Italian, Korean, French, etc. At home, I'm speaking Spanish with my family and spanglish with my fiancee but when I am out with friends I am speaking mostly English and if I have to share something "juicy" to a Latina friend then I say it in Spanish.

I am proud to be a Nueva Latina and I can't wait to share more about this program while I am at Hispanicize 2014. Are you heading to Miami for #HISPZ14? Follow me so you can learn about some fun giveaways we will be doing during the April 2nd luncheon.

*This is a sponsored post but all thoughts expressed are my own*

Destination & Sweepstakes: VISIT FLORIDA

VISIT FLORIDA, the state’s official tourism marketing corporation, invites visitors to enter its Winter Warm-Up Sweepstakes and leave the cold behind. Individuals can choose from three trip packages: Suite Retreat in Orlando; Heavenly Hollywood; or an Everglades Adventure. Consumers can enter daily and get extra entries for recruiting friends through shares on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest.

The Suite Retreat package for two includes:

The Heavenly Hollywood package for two includes:

  • Round-trip air transportation for two to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport
  • Five days in a premium rental from Sixt Rent A Car
  • Four nights in a deluxe room with an ocean view at The Westin Diplomat Resort and Spa, a round of golf for two and two 50-minute Heavenly Massages at Heavenly Spa by Westin

The Everglades Adventure package for two includes:

The sweepstakes is part of VISIT FLORIDA’s 

new winter campaign

 inviting visitors to head to “the warmer side of winter,” which includes a 

television spot

 featuring visitors literally flying over a host of the Sunshine State’s warm weather settings.

“This is the time of year everybody dreams of flying to Florida,” said Susannah Costello, VISIT FLORIDA Vice President of Brand.  “Florida’s winter campaign and the Winter Warm-Up Sweepstakes inspire visitors to come to Florida now.”

The sweepstakes runs from Jan. 13 through Feb. 28. The winter campaign, which will be in market from mid-January to late March, includes broadcast, digital, print and out-of-home executions, as well as traffic and weather radio and TV sponsorships. Key advertising markets include Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.

Learn more about the sweepstakes at 

Florida’s Winter Warm-Up Sweepstakes

. To see the television ad, as well as other elements of “The Warmer Side of Winter” campaign, please check out our landing page:

www.VISITFLORIDA.org/MustBeTheSunshine

.

Travel Idea: 3 Tropical Travel Destinations to Help You Escape the Mundane

The New Year may have started off with a confetti-flying, ball dropping bang, but two weeks into January and already the mid-winter blues have set in. You have two choices: you can either bunker down and hibernate, then check the mercury again around Groundhog’s Day, or you can pack the Ray-Bans and Tommy Bahama shirts, the shorts and Coppertone, dig out the

Wayfair luggage

, and book a January trip to a tropical destination. According to Joseph Adamo, vice president of marketing at Transat, there's a post-holiday lull in traveling in January as many people are paying off Christmas credit card bills, or planning family trips for February school vacation week. This makes it the perfect time to escape the dark days of winter for some fun in the sun.

St. Lucia

Photo by madmack66 via Flickr

Located in the Lesser Antilles, St. Lucia is a small island known for its secluded, sandy coves, lush rainforests, and Pitons, two volcanic mountains that look like gates to a tropical paradise. While there is rest, relaxation, reggae, and rum punch in abundance, there are also adventure opportunities on St. Lucia .Not only can you hike the large Piton, but you can also dive, snorkel, zipline, or rent an ATV to explore the jungle countryside. From hidden waterfalls and botanical gardens to volcanic cliffs and a drive-thru volcano, St. Lucia, known as

the island of love

, casts a memorable spell.

U.S. Virgin Islands

Photo by Anthony Quintano via Flickr

The U.S. Virgin Islands are known as

America’s Paradise

. And guess what? As an American citizen, you don’t need a passport to visit St Thomas or St. John, so if you're the type of globetrotter who enjoys a spur-of-the-moment trip, you're in luck.

St. Thomas is the commercial hub of the Virgin Islands. Charlotte Amalie, one of the busiest cruise ports in the Caribbean, is known for its cobbled streets and Danish architecture; it's also a hotspot for duty free shopping and rumor has it there are over 1000 jewelry stores on Dronningens Glade, the port’s main thoroughfare. Popular sightseeing attractions in Charlotte Amalie include Frenchtown, Blue Beard's Castle, and the 99 Steps.

While St. Thomas is as crowded and built up as South Florida, St. John, a 28 square mile island accessed only by ferry, is two thirds national park. Trunk Bay Beach, a long, creamy crescent of sand, is consistently rated as one of the Top Beaches in the world. St. John's is also famous for its ecotourism. If you really want to get away from it all –the cruise ships, the skyscraper resorts, the souvenir trinkets and Margaritaville t-shirts, St. John's is as wild, serene, and as unspoiled as it gets.

Key West

Photo by eschipul via Flickr

For every traveler who finds St. John’s to be a tropical paradise, there’s another who’s going to be bored with the island’s sleepy vibe and lack of nightlife. If

nightlife

is what you’re after, then Key West, the southernmost tip of the Continental U.S., is your Dionysian destination. Duval Street is known for bars like Sloppy Joes (Ernst Hemingway’s favorite hangout), Willie T’s, The Lazy Gecko, and The Bull & Whistle. There are more bars per capita in Key West than anywhere else in America, and the tiny island wears its 360 liquor licenses as a badge of bacchanalian honor. Oh, yeah -there are some pretty nice beaches too.

Que Rica Vida: Delicious National Parks to Discover

I am excited to share my first travel story for Que Rica Vida magazine focusing on the U.S. National Parks. Below is an excerpt of my story along with a link for you to continue on reading the full recommended list of national parks.

Which national park will you be visiting this year?

The start of a new year means it's time to start planning that family vacation -- whether it's during a long weekend, spring break or summer vacation. As you think about places to travel and explore with your family, why not consider adding a national park to your visit? Most national parks are located near or around cities that have a lot of activities for families of all sizes and ages. The National Park Foundation (www.nationalparks.org), the official charity of America's national parks, is a great resource, since they release travel ideas for every season and special occasion. There are many options to choose from, but we have narrowed it down to the top five just for you!

**This is an excerpt from a story I wrote for Que Rica Vida magazine, to read the full article click here**

Food: Mediterranean Influence

I have the pleasure of growing up in a household with a Spanish father who loved to cook. He would prepare some of the most amazing Spanish and Venezuelan dishes, actually he still does! One thing I have to be thankful for in life is having a father who loved to cook because he taught me so many tricks in the kitchen to cut cost, time and enjoy a delicious meal. 


There are way too many recipes that I love, but one meal my dad would make is chicken kabobs with a light salad and a little rice (yes, very Latino of us to have white rice with our dish!). Here is an easy and great recipe I just received from the folks at Iberia Olive Oil (which if you haven't tried it you have to, it is delicious and it is now a staple in my kitchen) which is very similar to my father's recipe (sorry can't share his recipe like typical Latino traditions, sharing recipes is sacred

Chicken Kabobs courtesy of Iberia
Ingredients:
·         2 large chicken breasts
·         3 large zucchinis cut into large rounds
·         3 red peppers
·         12 cherry tomatoes
·         2 cups of Iberia Extra Virgin Olive Oil
·         1 tbsp. basil
·         Salt to taste
·         8 bamboo skewers

Preparation:
1.       Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cut the chicken breasts in large squares and then insert in the bamboo skewers alternating the zucchinis and red pepper. 
2.       Using the remaining bamboo skewers, make vegetarian kabobs with the cherry tomatoes, zucchini and red pepper, adding salt and Iberia Extra Virgin Olive Oil.  Place them in the oven and cook for 30 minutes.
3.       Lastly, drizzle some more Iberia Olive Oil on them and enjoy! It’s a spectacular presentation with great flavor!

Iberia Extra Virgin Olive Oil is made from hand-selected and harvested olives processed in Spain and provides the rich aroma and flavor of quality, Spanish olives. Olive oil has been linked to heart health and longevity and eating about two tablespoons of olive oil daily may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease due to the monosaturated fat in olive oil. So…drizzle this healthy, great tasting olive oil on your salad, pasta, fish, meat, and more for a delicious taste! Available at select retailers including Walmart. Visit www.IberiaFoods.com for more information.

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Houseboating on the Best Inland Lakes in North America

The National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) estimates that there are more than 16 million boats between the U.S. and Canada, many of which are ready to take people on the vacation of their lives. Buy or rent a houseboat, and try these locations for fun and relaxation—but before you head out, review the available boating exams online. Safety should be first in your mind as the captain of your houseboat.

Lake of the Woods, Ontario, Canada


Photo by E_TAVARES via Flickr
Of the more than 32,000 lakes in Canada, 3,899 of them are in Ontario. Lake of the Woods is a favorite among outdoor enthusiasts across Canada and the northern U.S., with more than 65,000 miles of shoreline touching Ontario and Manitoba in Canada, and Minnesota in the U.S. Much of the lake is in remote areas giving visitors a quiet and isolated houseboat destination away from others, and doubles as a great fishing spot. In fact, Lake of the Woods is the walleye capital of the world.
Start your houseboat excursion of the lake at Kenora, Morson or Sioux Narrows, or just stop over for the night to see what each has in store.

Lake Chelan, Washington, United States


Photo by Themerganser via Flickr
Lake Chelan is the largest lake in the state of Washington at 50.5 miles long and nearly 1,500 feet at its deepest spot. It is a glacier-fed lake featuring crystal-clear, tranquil waters for a smooth houseboating experience. In the middle of the North Cascades National Forest, it is surrounded by wineries, gourmet restaurants and small towns full of crafts. Lake Chelan gives you a taste of luxury amidst your houseboat cruise.
Communities to visit when boating on Lake Chelan:
  • Chelan - This city boasts more than 300 days a year of sunshine and offers wineries and handmade craft stores to give visitors a break from boating on the deep blue waters of the lake.
  • Manson - This is a small lakeside village is a favorite of foodies, and also has a casino.
  • Stehekin - This is a community of 95 residents and is only accessible by boat or seaplane. Glide in with your houseboat at the headwaters of Lake Chelan and see how these people live surrounded by the nature of this glacial area.

Lake Powell, Utah and Arizona, United States


Photo by Greg Schaefer via Wikimedia Commons
Lake Powell is a reservoir on the Colorado River formed when the Glen Canyon Dam was built. This 186-mile-long lake is a favorite with houseboaters because of its scenery, offering numerous sand beaches, deep blue waters and red rock formations throughout the canyon.
Some of the natural features of this area include:
  • Rainbow Bridge - This is one of the largest natural bridge formations in the world.
  • Cataract Canyon - This area rivals some of the finest U.S. national parks with Navajo Sandstone creating nearly 80 side canyons in which to cruise. Native American rock artifacts can be seen throughout the canyon on the walls near the water.

Traveling Latina's Third Annual Holiday Gift Guide & Giveaway!

My favorite time of the year has finally arrived, the holidays! I love all the bright lights, Christmas trees, and Christmas shopping. 

Are you looking for some ideas on what to give to your friend, cousin, lover, family member that is always traveling? Here is a great list to help you gather a few ideas and the best part is that you can purchase all these items online so you don't have to wait in line or drive through the snow to purchase these items.


My first three gift ideas actually come from a project that myself and my travelista sisters Brown Girls Fly worked on with our friends at REI. Here is the video where we recommend some awesome gift ideas that you can find at your nearest REI store or online.


Now that you saw the video, here are the remainder of the items I highly recommend as Christmas gifts:

Mophie Juice Pack ($99.95) - This is by far the best gift you can give someone who is always on their phone, taking pictures and sharing them via Instagram. Once their smartphone battery starts running low, Mophie kicks in and adds extra juice to their phone!
photo courtesy: mophie.com 

Little Passports ($11.95/month) - If you have raised your little ones to explore the world then this gift is great for you and your kids! It is a subscription based gift where every month your child will get to explore a different part of the world, region, country you select for them to check out. If this is a gift that peaks your interest then you are in luck, I am doing a giveaway for your first month subscription. You will obtain the explorer kit which includes a mock passport, a world map and much more! 
photo courtesy: little passports

Columbia's Belladome Tent ($163.90) - A thoughtfully crafted 4-person tent featuring premium waterproof materials, full seam sealing on the floor and rain fly, and a minimalist-inspired design that allows for a super easy setup. Great for those that love to go camping during their travel adventures!
photo courtesy: columbia
Timbuk2 Snoop Camera Messenger Bag ($169.00) - The fully padded, totally modular interior is designed to house camera lenses, bodies, and batteries. Simply move the walls around to fit the cameras you carry. If you really mean business, you can secure your tripod with the adjustable straps on the bottom of the bag. And when you're not packing (cameras), simply remove the padded insert and rock it like a classic messenger bag.
photo courtesy: Timbuk2
photo courtesy: Timbuk2
REI Digital Alarm Clock with Flashlight ($29.50) - Whether you are camping, staying at a lodge at Olympic National Park, this alarm clock with a flashlight will become your BFF when you are in need to wake up early and a flashlight for those moments when you feel a creepy critter crawling all over you! 
photo courtesy: REI
Sholdit ($40.00) - If you tend to "forget" things such as your cellphone, iPod or passport this infinity scarf can store all those items for you while keeping your neck warm and still looking fabulous! I finally got my first infinity scarf and it was perfect to use when going through TSA just open the zipper, store your ID and your boarding pass, and voila you no longer have to dig through your backpack or over-sized purse for those two items!

photo courtesy: sholdit
The Power Nap Head Pillow ($99.95) - Traveling at times can lead you to lack in your zzz's, if you are looking to catch up with your beauty sleep while you wait for your flight to board check out this power nap head pillow which allows you to completely zone out and take a nice break from your travel adventures.

photo courtesy: Hammacher

Last minute holiday travel change? Sell your hotel room on Hallst.com.

HallSt.com creates a Free Marketplace for hotel reservations and hotel room buyers


In the past, if you paid in advance for a hotel room and didn’t use it you were out of luck and money. HallSt.com has created a world-wide system for hotel users to buy, sell back and share hotel rooms around the world – allowing for less expensive, more flexible travel. This works for any time of travel lifestyle – from business to backpacking – including attending large public events in cities where hotel rooms are scarce and at a premium.

The Hall St. system allows travelers to negotiate bookings and the price they want to pay with the hotel – and hear back in 30 minutes or less if their offer has been accepted. Using their Book Now feature, bookings happen fast with short wait times.

hallst.com
More than 100,000 hotels and members. Membership is Free.

Member-to-member bookings: now you can buy, at a steep discount, hotel rooms from Hall St. members who can’t use their room – and want to sell it to another Hall St. member. More than 100,000 hotels and members who resell hotel rooms are waiting for member offers.

Double Up with like-minded people to save even more on your room

Or, to save even more money with like-minded members who are amenable to sharing a hotel room – 2 can stay for the price of 1.

3 ways to book a hotel room with HallSt.com

1 – Negotiate Bookings: Propose your own price to the hotel and try to get the room for less. With Hall St.’s “30-minute response guarantee” they promise to get back to you within half an hour.

2 – Fast Bookings: The “Book Now” button on the HallSt.com website enables you to rapidly book a room with essentially no waiting time.

3 – Member-to-Member Bookings: Save even more by buying hotel reservations from other Hall St. members who can’t personally use them – or find others who are up to sharing their hotel room with you.

Heading to a big, public event?

Going to an annual event that draws hundreds of thousands of people? A big rock concert? Depending upon the city and the expected event attendance, hotel room prices can swiftly rise as the inventory dwindles. Or rooms simply are not available at any price you want to pay. Use the Hall St. Marketplace to buy or share a room in that city for that event.

Change in Travel Plans?
Sell your room on the Hall St. marketplace – even if you bought it on another travel site

Don’t lose your money. You are not stuck with a room you can’t use. Sell it to other Hall St. members. Even if you have booked the room on another travel site you can still sell it to the Hall St. marketplace.

Get On Your Bike and Go See The World

You've never tasted the sweetness of freedom unless you've done so on the back of a motorcycle. No other vehicle lets you get to where you want to go while letting the weight of the world drop of of your back. The Bureau of Transportation estimates some 5 million motorcycles cruise streets and interstates as bikers and hobbyists alike search out a new way to get away from civilization. With a motorcycle, you can see parts of the world that you would never see from the driver's seat of an SUV or even a plane.

Patagonia

















Photo via Wikipedia
The southern half of South America rises above the rainforests and rivers of its northern counterpart, shooting magnificent crags and peaks into the sky without concern. Patagonia encompasses Chile and Argentina and has a reputation for some of the most harrowing and beautiful sights on the world. Glaciers that carve out entire chunks of mountain like the Cueva de las Manos, leaving behind geometric wonders as well as still lakes and miles of open terrain. Motorcyclists may just want to explore the scenery, the tiny mountain towns, the wildlife, or the native cuisine without a timetable, but Travel And Leisure suggests booking hotels early to avoid the summer rush.

The Mediterranean Wine Belt

















Photo of Catalonia by Rachel via Rail Europe
Every motorhead knows not to drink and drive, but finishing up a drive with a drink may just well be the best way to travel. This trip puts a ton of miles on your bike, so make sure your maintenance is up to date and you have updated tires and parts that may not be available when you jet across the south of Spain, France, and Italy. Your tires go through nearly a thousand miles when you cruise the Mediterranean coast. Start in Catalonia, Spain, and stop in Priorat to see some of the oldest vine terraces in the world. Continue into Nice and check out the Azur Wine enotourism scene. Finish the journey by driving down the Tuscan coast and finding Barone Ricasoli Winery, the second-oldest winery in the world.

This Wall Is Really Great


Photo of the Great Wall of China by Severin.stalder via Wikimedia Commons
One of the world's monuments to human production, the Great Wall of China stretches some five thousand miles across the northern part of the country. You may not see it all, but be sure to check out the Juyongguan Pass, where the most guards patrolled the wall to prevent Mongol hordes from rampaging across their turf. Keep going westward from the coast until you hit Liao Tian Ling. You'll swear the wall turns a silver hue after miles and miles of brickwork. Your eyes do not deceive you: the stone used to build this portion of the wall came from an ancient silver mine so that many of the stones retain small flecks of precious metal.

New “ThanksSharing” Initiative from MealSharing.com Ensures No One Eats Alone This Thanksgiving

MealSharing.com, a website that connects travelers and locals over home cooked meals, announces its upcoming Thanksgiving initiative “ThanksSharing” for people who can't be with their families for the holiday. Perfect for those traveling in the U.S. as well as Americans abroad, ThanksSharing promotes food and togetherness for the classic American holiday.
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“With ThanksSharing, we want to make sure no one is left alone on Thanksgiving,” says Jay Savsani, founder of MealSharing.com. “People might not have family or friends nearby and the MealSharing.com community has stepped up to make sure they can have a home cooked meal on Thanksgiving. We have hosts across the U.S. and around the world, including cities such as Berlin, Sao Paulo, Madrid and many more.”

To find a meal, guests can log on the website, review a host’s meal profile and request a meal. If the host accepts, the two parties may then message back and forth (to discuss allergies, dietary restrictions, etc) until the meal is set. Hosts can accommodate one or many guests per meal. Afterwards, users and hosts review their experience.
MealSharing.com plans to make ThanksSharing an annual tradition with hopes that no one will eat alone on the popular American holiday. To join the MealSharing.com community and host a ThanksSharing meal, please visit http://www.mealsharing.com/thanksgiving

RICHARD CRAWFORD LUXURY LAUNCHES WITH CIGAR SAFARI GIVEAWAY

Luxury Lifestyle Expert Gives Away Two Tickets to Nicaragua for a Drew Estate Cigar Safari to Announce Website Launch!

Richard Crawford, a luxury lifestyle expert who provides content for the marketing of luxury brands, is announcing the launch of his company – Richard Crawford Luxury – by giving away two tickets to join him on an all expense-paid Cigar Safari in Nicaragua in March 2014.  


One winner and their guest will receive an all-inclusive trip to attend the sold out four-day/three-night Cigar Safari at Drew Estate’s Nicaraguan Cigar Factory with Crawford. From March 26-29, cigar enthusiasts will be given an in-depth, hands-on tour of the facility that highlights the evolution of the cigar from seed to smoke. Guests will explore the eco-tourism of Nicaragua, visit the Estili-based factory, and blend cigars using the finest tobaccos.
“As with many of the finer things in life, the more you understand them the better you can appreciate them,” said Crawford. “I’m excited to launch Richard Crawford Luxury in a big way by offering two lucky people the opportunity to join me in Nicaragua where I will be shooting video on the production of some of the finest cigars in the world. This fully-immerse, hands-on education offers a profound body of knowledge that guarantees a lifelong appreciation of fine premium cigars.”

Sample Cigar Safari Itinerary:
Day 1:
  •  Arrive in Managua
  • Grab lunch at a top-notch steakhouse
  • Visit Grenada and go on a boat ride on Lake Nicaragua
  • Dinner and overnight stay in Grenada
  • Free time at night to hang out and enjoy cigars
Day 2:
  • Travel from Managua to the Drew Estate Factory in Esteli for lunch
  • Tour Joya de Nicaragua’s factory
  • Have dinner at Drew Estate factory
  • Free time at night to hang out in the Drew Estate lounge, play poker, sip on scotch
Day 3:
  • Have breakfast at Drew Estate factory
  • Tour Drew Estate’s pre-production facilities
  • Visit a tobacco plantation
  • Have lunch at Drew Estate factory
  • Tour Drew Estate’s factory
  • Blend your own cigars
  • Tour Subculture Studios, Drew Estate’s art studio
  • Have dinner at Drew Estate factory
Day 4:
  • Have breakfast at Drew Estate factory
  • Head to Managua International Airport from Esteli
  • Depart for the US 
The Richard Crawford Luxury Cigar Safari giveaway includes flight, meals, transportation in Nicaragua, accommodations, cigars, and cigar education. For information on how to enter, visit http://richardcrawfordluxury.com/win-a-trip/.

Getting Ready for The Holidays

#ad: This is a compensated campaign in collaboration with Unilever and Latina Bloggers Connect.


My favorite time of the year has finally arrived! I love the holiday season especially because I get to travel to some of my favorite cities Boston and New York City. As I get ready for the holidays I make sure I have a few things in check such as my luggage, plenty of warm clothes, comfortable warm boots and all the beauty accessories that I need to keep me looking like a million dollars but within my budget.

One of the things we lady travelers are guilty of is over packing especially our beauty products. Every time I pack I have to go through all of my beauty bags to make sure I am not doubling up on things like shampoo, conditioner, body wash, lotions, etc. I highly you recommend doing that since it will alleviate some weight from your carry on. Plus I don't know about you but I hate when I forget to pack something especially because I love looking fabulous every time I step outside of my house and/or hotel. 

If I am ever missing anything I head on over to my closest CVS and get all the last minute items that I need. For example, I am heading to Seattle in a couple of days for a business trip and I made sure I had my BB cream since it is a great base cream to wear before I put on my tinted SPF 30 moisturizer. Luckily, my friends over at CVS sent me the NEW POND’S® Luminous Finish BB+ formulation that provides flawless coverage in seconds. The reason why I am in love with this product is that it provides a unique pigment system designed to immediately conceal imperfections for natural-looking coverage. This BB+ cream was sent to me as part of the Divina Latina campaign so we can always “Be Red Carpet Ready Every Day.” Divina Latina products are available at CVS/pharmacy and eligible for ExtraBucks. Plus for every $50 spent on beauty products at CVS/pharmacy gets you $5 ExtraBucks, that's what I am talking about an awesome deal!

 Now you know where you can find me when I am in need for any beauty items! So as you get ready for your holiday travels make sure you stop by CVS to get all the last minute products you need before you leave home. 


FTC Disclosure: This is a compensated campaign brought to you by Unilever, Divina Latina, CVS and Latina Bloggers Connect. All opinions are 100% my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission 16 CFR, Part 255.

Baby, It's Cold Outside: Time to Find a Romantic Getaway

If you typically hunker down during the winter months, wistfully hoping summer will arrive soon so you can spend time at a romantic destination with that special someone, you may be missing out. For many people, the winter months have actually become a popular time to travel. In fact, more than $5.83 billion were spent at ski resorts alone during the 2011 to 2012 time period, according to the National Ski Areas Association.
Of course, hitting the slopes isn't the only thing people like to do during the winter. A large number of people prefer to escape the cold altogether and head to warmer climes. Whether you want to enjoy a romantic cold weather destination where you can play in the snow during the day and cuddle by a crackling fire at night, or you'd rather hit the sands of a tropical beach with your special someone, there is a perfect location waiting to welcome you this winter.

Jackson Hole, Wyo.


Photo by Enricokamasa via Wikimedia Commons
Set against a gorgeous backdrop of rugged mountains, the town of Jackson Hole has a charming Old West feel that makes it a perfect spot for a romantic getaway. In Jackson Hole, you can ski to your heart's delight during the day and then retire to a lovely lodge, such as the Rustic Inn Creekside Resort and Spa at Jackson Hole, which is located near the National Elk Refuge. The inn offers several massage packages, as well as a Romantic Amenities package, that includes rose petals, wine and decadent chocolate-dipped strawberries upon your arrival.

New York City


Photo by aturkus via Flickr
Winter is, arguably, the most magical and romantic time of the year in New York City. The air is filled with the delicious scent of roasting chestnuts, couples are cuddling under blankets on horse-drawn carriages and the streets are electric with excitement. The only drawback is rooms can be hard to find and very pricey. To combat that, why not look across the Hudson River for a room in New Jersey. By choosing a hotel in New Jersey located close to the PATH train, you can easily commute into New York City. Plus, you will usually get a much larger and less expensive room than you could find in the Big Apple.

An All-Inclusive Resort


Photo by breezy via Flickr
If you or your beau find planning a vacation to be stressful, consider booking your romantic getaway at an all-inclusive resort. At these resorts, just about everything you will need — lodging, food, drinks, entertainment, and activities — are included in the price. This will minimize the amount of time you will need to invest into planning your trip.
Not sure where to go? Travel & Leisure reports San Juan, Puerto Rico, is an excellent choice for a midwinter getaway because it isn't crowded, and it boasts a number of affordable all-inclusive resorts. The best part of Puerto Rico? It's a United States territory, so you won't need a passport.

Before You Go

  • If you are driving to your vacation destination, make sure to give your vehicle a once-over. Winter weather can be treacherous, so check to see if your tires are in good shape and are appropriate for the type of conditions you will be heading into. If not, you will need to purchase new ones. You can purchase tires at tirebuyer.com for your trip and have them delivered for free directly to a local installer.
  • You never know when a big winter storm can ruin your plans, so if you are planning on flying to your destination, you may want to consider purchasing travel insurance in case your flight gets delayed or canceled due to a blizzard.

Donate Your Old Travel Clothes to Goodwill

We are all guilty of this, we travel to a new city or a great shopping town and we go crazy and buy a new pair of jeans or new tops or shoes and then you get home and you realize you have no more room for new stuff! Any normal person would tell you to stop shopping but I would also recommend to reorganize your closet and take out all your old clothing items and donate them to your local Goodwill store. 
source: mostlytruestuff.com
Did you know that donating one bag of your old travel clothes and one bag of books can equal up to 2.3 hours of on-the-job training for someone in your community? Add to that a used lamp, a dusty computer and perhaps a box of DVDs and CDs, and that number nearly doubles to 5.2 hours.
source: goodwill.org
A simple item donated to Goodwill® can help provide job training programs, employment placement services and other community-based programs for people who have disabilities, lack education or job experience, or face other challenges to finding employment. In fact, Goodwill is the leading nonprofit provider of job training programs and career services in the United States and Canada.

Goodwill® with the Ad Council are launching a brand new series of Public Service Advertisements (PSAs) that educate people about Goodwill’s role as a job creator. With the simple tagline, "Donate Stuff. Create Jobs.," the campaign seeks to highlight the role that Goodwill plays in promoting independence and dignity for people of all backgrounds.

To find the nearest Goodwill location just visit www.goodwill.org it will help you find stores, headquarters, job training centers and donation sites near you.

Explore Antarctica with Air New Zealand

So as I sit here at St. Louis airport waiting for probably the longest flight route to take back home to Chicago, I got this awesome email from Air New Zealand. Air New Zealand is looking for someone to be a spokesperson for Antarctica. They'll spend two weeks with researchers and a NatGeo photographer, exploring the stark landscape and learning about the threats to its environment. In an effort to raise awareness about global environmental issues and the scientific research underway in Antarctica to address them, the winning candidate will tweet and blog about the experience to viewers around the world.

The winner will undergo cold weather training in Christchurch, New Zealand early next year, then team up with National Geographic photographer Jason Edwards to fly to Antarctica for two weeks. 


Antarctica: No Ordinary Place, No Ordinary Assignment is a new project sponsored by Air New Zealand, in partnership with Antarctica New Zealand, the New Zealand Antarctic Research Institute and National Geographic. 

To apply, readers must showcase their ability to bring a National Geographic video to life by recording commentary over the video or writing an entry. For more, visit www.airnewzealand.com/voiceforantarctica. Good luck to all my readers who participate in this contest!