Alert: Potential New Favorite Cocktail

 I love rum. I’m Puerto Rican, it’s sort of in my blood, I can’t help it. When I’m out, my “go to” drink is usually rum with Diet Coke. Don Q or Bacardi, preferably. However, as much as I love Diet Coke, I am trying to cut down on sodas. Rum is not that great either, especially when you want to keep your blood sugar levels on check.

This weekend during my trip to Boston, I stumbled into what I believe has the potential to be my next favorite cocktail: Gin Blossom. The magic happened at the trendy Lolita Cocina & Tequila Bar.

According to their menu it takes: citadelle gin, st. germain, lemon muddled cucumber and raw cane sugar to make this glorious drink. I will definitely try it at home and cross my fingers that it’s not a disaster.


Lolita also had some other great things to offer. Once you are seated, they welcome you with an amuse-bouche of grapefruit granita served over a bowl of dry ice which creates a fun, smokey effect (not successfully captured in the shot above). Obviously, they offer to drizzle it with tequila. Of courseeeeee.

Of all the small plates we ordered, my favorite one was the blackened shrimp queso, “bubbling hot moteray jack cheese, blackened shrimp, roasted poblanos & pico de gallo.” I don’t think I really knew what “blackened shrimp” meant but I’m so glad I went with it.

A lot of food and gin blossoms later, we thought we were done but no, they bring in cotton candy as one last hurrah. Confession: I don’t think I had ever had cotton candy in my life. It never appealed to me. Also, when I was little my blood sugar was all over the place so I learned to stay away from sweets (tragic, I know). Cotton candy is weird, especially when you are having it for the first time with a few cocktails in your system. It was really fun, but not something I would crave. It’s such a tease, you think you are getting something and then it just fades away. So unfair.

So, what did we learn today? Cotton candy is weird and gin blossoms are exquisite. Cheers!

[California] Sausalito Sunsets & More Rosé

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During my recent trip to California I got to visit a lot of fun and interesting places, one of my favorite was the city of Sausalito. After spending the earlier part of the day at Muir Woods (more on that later), we were taken to this lovely waterfront town. I love the water and although I can appreciate the beauty of the mountains and forests, there’s nothing like being by the shore.

I immediately knew I wanted to spend more time exploring my surroundings, but knew we had a ferry to catch back to San Francisco. Relying on just online reviews and outside seating, we decided to have dinner at Salito’s.

Knowing that it was our last day in California, we were taking it all in. Everybody seemed happy and without a single care in the world. Except maybe the couple next to us, they were clearly on a first date and it was so fascinating to watch them both react to each other. No, I was not creeping.

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That, my friends, is Salito’s crab alfredo. Not bad at all, although I must say, their mussels and sauce was delicious!

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Note on those sunglasses, got them in California, love the reflection but totally lost them. They must be in some unpacked bag in my room right now, but that may not be the case. I’m not so concerned about the money (they were super cheap), I am saddened more by how well they photographed. Check us out on the shot below!

After dinner, we still had some time before the ferry departure. I saw people drinking by the water and I immediately knew where I needed to be. Turns out, this place called Bar Bocce allows you to eat and drink by the water in a very casual and comfortable setting. I only had drinks, but people around us were enjoying some very delicious pizzas. Note to self: return to this place with a blanket and a big appetite.

This is me at Bar Bocce’s backyard. That face says: “I love my wine, I love this place and yes, I know it sucks that I have to leave”. It’s like you can already see the inevitable sarcasm in my eyes, right?

Waiting for the ferry was not bad at all. Perks of waiting for the last ferry? You get to see the sunset as you leave Sausalito behind. You can also attempt, for the one hundredth time, to take the perfect picture of the Golden Gate Bridge.

[California] Magic Grapes

 
First day back in New York after a week in California. My biological clock is a little off, my bank account is recovering, my phone is overloaded with photos and my mind has a million thoughts spinning around.

California is a beautiful state, I especially loved wine country. Shocker, right? Besides the obvious magic grapes that grow all around, there’s a little extra something to this place. Something so special, that now I’ve added owning a vineyard to my life goals. This might be tough, as I plan to retire in a beach house, but I’m sure I can work something out.

Looking at this photo again, it genuinely makes me happy. Beyond the simplicity of the fruit and the delightful contrast, these little grapes will one day, turn to be someonelse’s happiness. Maybe it’s a birthday toast at a BYOB restaurant or maybe it’s that special comfort you need after a rough day at work. Either way, these grapes only mark the start of a journey to who knows where and that, my friends, I think is pretty cool.

Boston: Seafood & Sea Life

Who decides to visit Boston during a blizzard? Well, this lady over here! Nothing says romantic Valentine’s Day weekend like a frozen face, right? Thanks to some nonrefundable tickets, I went from bitter cold New York to over the top freezing Boston. I had a really good time, there’s something about being stuck in one room that makes you appreciate your company even more. There’s not a lot of people I would want to be stuck with during a blizzard, thankfully my boyfriend is one of them.

I’ve been to Boston like 10 times and even spent a summer there, I’ve always loved it. This time, we started things off a little bit more touristy than usual and I was ok with it. Union Oyster House is America’s Oldest Restaurant and there’s a reason it’s still up and running, it’s actually really good!

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I obviously went with the classics. Started out with a Oyster House Clam Chowder (which I believe is the same thing as a New England Clam Chowder) and finished it up with a delicious Lobster Salad Roll. I can’t help but get a taste of summer each time I have meals like this. It makes me think of dinner by the water, salty hair after the beach, sunglasses and happy days.

We also tried out Legal Seafoods… delicious! We had the shrimp coconut as a starter and honestly, they might have been the best ones I’ve had so far. They were also gluten free so my friend who can’t have gluten was also able to enjoy them with me.

Then the snow started and the fun ended. Just kidding, we went out anyways and had a delicious dinner at Lineage Restaurant. I must say, our cab did slightly crash into a pile of snow on our way back, it was scary.

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Best part about a blizzard? Room service! Worst part about a blizzard? Room service!

When you have 2/3 meals through room service you know that your final bill is going to hurt. In my defense, everything else was closed.

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I love nature and as much as I know that an aquarium and a zoo are not natural, I can’t help but still enjoy visiting them. It’s unfortunate that these animals are never going to experience real life, but if a visit to an aquarium or zoo is what it takes for someone to be inspired, care a little more about these creatures and somehow contribute to the greater cause, then I guess it’s worth it.

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I think that it’s pretty cool that even though it was freezing outside, these little creatures can have their little piece of paradise stay intact.

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Don’t worry little fishy, I’m counting down the days for summer…

Can I just go everywhere? – My next big adventure

I’ve been very close to booking trips to Greece, Italy, Nicaragua, Turkey and Spain … all in the past week, seriously. Is this a problem? Maybe. I actually feel pain in my heart when I finally admit to myself that I can’t do it all, or when whatever deal I was looking into is no longer available.

How do you deal with a never-ending need for travel and adventures?

It’s a strong feeling that pokes me whenever my mind wanders. It’s fueled by inspiring Instagram accounts, my monthly Condé Nast Traveler magazine, my endless travel books and a camera that wants to see more.

I would take food and travel over any piece of clothing or trendy accessory. I obviously don’t want to make such choices, but I realize you can’t have it all in life. Every time I feel tempted to buy something new, I think hard about how it can hold me back in relation to my next adventure. But what happens when you are forced to say no to travel because of travel?

I can still technically go to either Greece, Italy, Nicaragua, Turkey or Spain, but I can’t possibly make it to all these wonderful destinations in 2015 (No Cristina, this is not a challenge for yourself, relax). What is stopping me? Money and vacation days are the obvious answers and probably the correct ones.

I think about my next adventure every single day, some days more intensely than others. The possibility of travel keeps me going and it gives me energy in so many levels of my life. It hurts me to face the limitations of real life, but it also keeps me going. It’s hard to think that non-stop traveling could take away from the wonders of exploring, like people who work at Disney and get over its magic, but I do not fear this possibility one bit.

I’m honestly lucky to have been where I’ve been. I may be hard on myself comparing my schedule with those of travel magazine editors’ but I can’t help it. It’s just one of the sweetest pains there is.

Never stop wanting to explore this awesome (sometimes weird) world we live in.

Here are some pictures to get you (and me!) inspired…

fishing-village-greece_tn2Greece: I’ve been dying to go to Greece for a while now, as made clear by this previous post. This past summer I chose Croatia over Greece, but that doesn’t mean one day I will finally meet this great country. I have a group of friends traveling to Greece this summer and due to various reasons, I had to say no. Needless to say I’m happy for them, but secretly planning to sneak into one of their suitcases. (Image Source)

Sunflower-Fields-Tuscany-ItalyItaly: I’ve been to Rome and Florence before, but that doesn’t mean I’m done with Italy. Not at all. One of my best friends will be in Milan this summer and I really want to visit her. Visiting a sunflower field in Italy is part of my bucket list and although I think they are like 4 hours away from Milan, I would totally make a detour for a view like this! (Image Source)

All Rights ReservedNicaragua: Somehow, through the wonderful world of Instagram I stumbled upon El Camino Travel. I don’t know much about them but this trip to Nicaragua they are planning sounds amazing. Surfing, morning  yoga, getting to eat local food and meeting new people… sounds like a great plan. Central America has so much to offer and I want to explore beyond what I saw in Costa Rica years ago. (Image Source)

istanbul-22342-1366x768Turkey: About 5 years ago, in France, I was lucky enough to cross paths with a lovely, silly and caring Turkish girl. She became my partner in crime during my time in France and to this day I’m lucky enough to call her my friend. She says Istanbul is the best city in the world and she has yet to prove it to me. Just as I have yet to prove her that Puerto Rico is the most beautiful island in the world (she just has to visit, that will take care of it). I know I will go to Turkey with her one day, hopefully this year, and when it happens I just know it will be amazing. I also know that she will probably have something to say about the picture I chose for this post. (Image Source)

sa_calobra_mallorca_spainSpain: Last, but definitely not least. Spain has always been a special country to me, even before I first visited when I was studying abroad. I obviously love that they speak my first language, but my admiration for their culture goes beyond that. I’m obsessed with their wines, cheese, music and lifestyle. I’ve been to Madrid and Barcelona but would go back in a heartbeat to explore more of this amazing country. Heck, I would even move there if I could plan accordingly. Another one of my best friends is currently living in Barcelona and I think about booking a trip at least once a week. This picture is from Mallorca, a Spanish island in the Mediterranean Sea, but apparently you can take ferries or flights from Barcelona to Mallorca very easily.  I know I would do it. (Image Source)

So, what are you waiting for?

 

Zadar, Croatia

I must admit that the reason why I chose Zadar as one of the cities to visit in Croatia was because that’s where the Ryan Air airport was located, so it made sense. I’m so happy I got to discover this hidden gem.

Last summer I visited Croatia for the first time, you might have read me rambling on about post-vacation depression, but I was really blown away by this beautiful country. I visited Zadar, Split and Dubrovnik and each city had its special charm.

I believe Zadar is really more of a hidden treasure, not your average tourist destination and I loved it for that. We were able to meet great people from all over Europe and we even got to watch the World Cup opening game where Croatia played Brazil.

Let me take you through my days in Zadar, while I once again reminisce, this time wrapped up in a blanket dreaming of sunshine.

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This was our view from our room at the hostel. At this point, I still could not believe I made it to Croatia. We are facing the ruins of a Roman forum and although you can’t see in this picture we could also see a section of the St. Donatus church.

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First try of Croatian beer, which we never really learned how to pronounce.

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We had some time to walk around Zadar and get a glimpse of life in Croatia. Having a boat helps.

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Lovely sunset by the water.

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I tried this delicious pljukanci pasta at Restaurant Bruschetta, it did not disappoint. This type of hand-rolled pasta is special to Croatia.

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In Zadar, you can jump into the sunset. They’ve designed steps that let you walk into the water and take a swim, or you can always just jump right into it. It was a very different ocean experience for me, especially since there was no sand, but it was so refreshing. We decided to wait for the sunset but we were also hungry, so we got pizzas by the water. Super classy dinner for our last night in Croatia, with a killer view.

A Taste of Ireland

Who knew you could have beans for breakfast? Well, I guess the Irish did. I’m Puerto Rican, my beans go with rice and I have them for lunch or dinner (or both). You can imagine my puzzled look when beans were part of my first Irish breakfast in Dublin this past summer.

Let’s go back a little before this moment, just so you can understand where I was coming from. Picture this: it’s about 9am in Dublin, we just arrived from New York (#TeamNoSleep) and I’m feeling like I have not been fed in ages. Food depravation is always dangerous for my temper, but add in no sleep and I become someone you definitely want to stay away from. This said, my first reaction when we finally got to eat was … beans? Seriously?

YES. Beans.

I was too stubborn to admit at the moment, but damn, those Irish know how to make a nice breakfast.

So it began, my short but lovely stay in Dublin, Ireland.

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This may not be the most Irish-looking breakfast out there, but it was my first. This place had a buffet and it was 3 items for 4 euros, not too bad if you ask me. Being cranky as I was I decided not to venture too far of my comfort zone, but I still gave the beans a try.

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Now THIS was more adventurous, Guinness braised beef pie with vegetables and mashed potatoes at Merchant’s Arch Bar. Was this a tourist trap? Who knows, but it was not crowded, it had live music and it smelled good.

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Walking around Dublin, still trying to make sense of where I was.

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On day 2, we rented a car and explored a little bit of the countryside. I was both afraid and amused at my new spot by the driver’s seat.

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We were not really looking for this waterfall, neither did we get lost, it just happened to be on the way.

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Walking around the Glendalough trails, feeling like I was in some medieval movie.

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I believe no trip to Ireland is complete without a taste of some good Irish whiskey. A rum drinker myself, I found the classic Jameson and ginger to be my favorite. Yes, I can drink whiskey. No, the pink drink was not mine.

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Talk about a #TBT. Established in 1198? That is 816 years ago! Insane, if you ask me. The Brazen Head was everything you hoped a classic Irish pub would be: good food, good drinks, good people and good music.

Ireland left me wanting more, I was only there for a few days, not even a whole week. I was only able to get a taste of this beautiful country. I must say the people were probably the best part, they were nice and seemed to be genuinely interested in befriending you. I can’t wait to go back and experience more of this country, together with off-the-beaten-path adventures.

Slàinte!

Wordless Wednesday: The Journey Never Ends

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Never-ending itch to travel and discover. That’s what I have. I don’t understand how people can feel any other way.

Plitvice Lakes, Croatia – Photo by Cristina Nogueras (no filters/edits)

|Bucket List: Greece| Just give me wine and olives

I hate that when I finally have the time to sit down and write, inspiration just floats away like a stupid distracted butterfly. I’m on an airplane, blessed with WiFi but have somehow been drained of any writing ability. I have so many stories to tell about my recent travels and adventures, but of course, when I actually have time to make them come to life, I just stare at a blank document.

So, instead, I decided to play a little make believe and start getting inspired for my next big adventure… whichever it may be! By big adventure I am referring to a trip that is at least 1 week in duration to an uncharted destination, little adventures happen all the time and for that I am blessed.

Before I decided to visit Croatia this past month, Greece was on the top of my list. I’ve always wanted to visit this beautiful country and eat as much feta cheese and olives as possible. I want to experience every single Greek cliché.

After virtually drooling over amazing Greek destinations, below are some of my favorite. None of these pictures are taken by me and all of them have been credited. Again, I have never been to Greece to this is all wishful thinking!

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Blue Caves, Zakynthos, Greece

I’m a sucker for the ocean, at the end of the day that is where my heart belongs. So it is no surprise that I am blown away by these Greek waters. For more information on how to visit click here – Photo credit

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Santorini, Greece

I would be happy just watching sunsets in Santorini. Sunsets with wine and all sorts of delicious food, together with great company, of course. Image credits

 

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Melissani Cave

In Greek mythology this site is known as the Cave of the Nymphs – For more information click here – Photo credit


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Mykonos, Greece

Yes, I would like that to be me, please. Yes, that may not be the best quality image in town, it might be highly edited for all I know, but it holds the essence of my happy place and it even includes wine! Image credit

My next vacation has to be a perfect balance between adventure and relaxation. Granted, Croatia was amazing, but we were a little too ambitious for only 7 days in the country. We spent a lot of time in buses and planes and although we conquered a lot, a vacation still needs to be a vacation, right?

Have you been to Greece? What was your favorite place or discovery?

Be sure to follow my Instagram @peaceloveanddietcoke

 

Wordless Wednesday: Paris, Je t’aime

 

I can never get tired of admiring Paris.

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Photo by Cristina Nogueras, edited with Piclab