Thursday, 28 July 2016

San Juan, Puerto Rico


So I went to Puerto Rico in January but forgot to update about it here. For those thinking of going there, I decided to share my experience and some tips with you dears... ;)

Money & General Budgeting:

Ok, so for those of you thinking I must be rich, you are WRONG! I went there with my summer job savings, and was lucky enough to be invited to stay with friends. Norwegian does a direct flight to San Juan from London, and I paid 350£ for a return flight there in January. Now what comes to what you spend whilst there, bare in mind that this island is expensive comparing to the rest of the region. Puerto Rico is practically a remaining US colony, hence why people must pay double taxes for all the goods on the island. However, there is great street food for a good price (more on this below), and if you are couchsurfing or renting a flat then no worries, you could survive with 10-15 dollars a day. Also, CONVERT MONEY BEFORE GETTING THERE! Puerto Rico has mostly US tourists, and hence it is extremely difficult to get your foreign currency there exhanged in cash. Best thing is either to take out lots of money from the atm or order dollars from your local bank home before travelling there as there will be no conversion shops around. Also, it is a good idea to rent a car or to get to know someone who has a car, unless you live very central. Public transport system is nothing near to that of Europe, so prepare to be frustrated. For a better note, buses are very cheap and also bike rental is possible! 

Things to do:

Well you must dance to reggaeton. DO NOT TRAVEL HERE IF YOU HATE REGGAETON. ABORT MISSION - I REPEAT, ABORT MISSION! Ok so the music is everywhere and we loved it, as this island is a home for great singers all the way from J-Lo to Daddy Yankee and Nicky Jam. Also, visit San Sebastian festival if you are around at the right time - despite it being popular amongst young population, it is worth seeing even if you are older.

Aside from partying and listening to great music, there is indeed many other things to explore. Try visiting the old town and especially the amazing coffee at Cuatro Sombras. Also, a little secret to share with you is the old house of Pedro Albizu Campos, a famous Puerto Rican Freedom Fighter. You will only find a little sign in Spanish to let you know about the great history of that particular flat, but this is because Campos was never popular in the political agenda of the US. Nevertheless, the place is known as St. Germain Bistro & Cafe, and you can read about Campos here - and also ask people to translate the signs for you there in case you don't know Spanish, haha. His story is important to know to understand the history and current struggles of the island.

Ok, so out of San Juan there are also lots of things to do. The beautiful island of Culebra and a hiking visit to El Yunque rainforest were amongst my favorite things on the trip. We were also lucky enough to have an amazing local friend there with a car, so we drove across the island all the way to Ponce - if you go there then try their homemade icecream! You won't regret it!!

...And most importantly; the FOOD!

Try streetfood ! It is cheapest and the best!!! In the pictures above you see Acai Bowls from SuperFoods - but you can surely get bowls bigger than these even from Supermarkets!! Also, small street vans should have Mofongo - a local Afro- PuertoRican dish made with plantain or even Yuca. This with fried pork or 'churrasco' - pure heaven!! Also, pinchos are a great snack on the beaches - make sure you take emough tissues as they are messy food, haha.

I know this blog sucks as the author *me* is too busy studying and working all the time, but I am planning to post more often this summer, and in few days I will share with you (in less detail though) my other trips during the spring, which include Napoli, Toronto, Stockholm and London! I am also travelling to the Middle East in August, but will tell you more about that later!

- Rita x

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Madrid - Elche - Santa Pola - Alicante, Spain

 Busy streets of Madrid...I took this shot quickly while crossing the street - we were hostelhunting atm

 Some amazing food from Mercado de San Miguel <3
 My beautiful cousin Daria - she is wearing no make up and yet looks gorgeous every day!
 I felt like everything was beautiful at this moment - light, streets, smell of air, the people...
 Me waiting for our ride to arrive - we decided to head to Elche that day
 Sunset snapshot - taken from a car
 Our beautiful, crazy, young new friend - who's name was also Daria! She spoke no English but we survived with my bad Spanish and sign language - and we had so much fun in her hometown!

 Daria made us some Spanish food at home...This is a typical cold soup called Gazpacho!
 In Elche, everything was cheaper than Madrid, and so we found a perfect place where you can get churros and coffee for 3 euros

I loved the palmtrees in Elche - because of the wrong camera lens I could not get the whole scenery unfortunately...

So we went to Madrid without pre booking accomodation - and ended up having the craziest adventure! My advice to travellers is not to plan it too far ahead - only that way you can feel the freedom, lack of constrains...We ended up going down south to the coast, eating homemade Spanish food, swimming in the sea and laughing our asses off with someone who can barely speak our language and we can barely speak hers. But that is maybe what I needed - too often life gives us weeks, even months planned ahead, and we just become robotic slaves of time. This time, when we finally took a 5 hour night bus ride back to grab our stuff from the hostel in Madrid, I felt I truly had one of the best times of my life. I think it's because I learned that we can plan life however much we want, but we will never be able to control what is has planned for us at the end of the day. I left Spain with a pocket full of memories, knowing that I have a new friend there, and still laughing in the plane about the crazy stuff (such as hichhiking to a club) we did. The person next to me probably thought I was crazy, but oh well...

-Rita xx

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Kensington Market & The Distillery District, Toronto, Ontario

Looking for some European vibes in North America? Sick of browsing the shops downtown in Toronto? Head to Kensigton Market or The Distillery District - and you will find the hipster-trendy-alternative-hippie-student side of the big city. If you are on a lower budget, Kensigton Market is the place for food, fresh fruits and second hand shops. If you have more money to spend, head for the pretty boutiques in the distillery. They are difficult to complete in one day - as you can see from my different outfits, we used two different days to visit these places.

This trip to Toronto was different than previous times. I realised I don't want to live in across the Atlantic, although that used to be one of my dreams. It is not only the lack of history and culture, it is the fact that the whole society seems to be running around consumerism - it is normal to go shopping just to pass time, for example. I don't claim that doesn't exist in Europe, but I genuenly feel like the Europeans are less materialistic than North Americans. Well. Maybe it's just me anyway...

The Distillery however, has an interesting story to tell. Check this video to find out how the area came about:

-Rita xx

Monday, 6 July 2015

Tervasaari, Helsinki, Finland

 ''I live for the nights that I can't remember - with the people who I won't forget'' -Drake

If you are visiting Helsinki, having a picnic here wouldn't be a bad idea. We had a great night indeed, celebrating my friend who is leaving to Namibia. We ended the night in this bar, and I went to bed like 6 in the morning - but in Finland you don't really notice the difference between day and night, so who cares anyways, we had fun ;)

-Rita x