[Strasbourg, France] Forever nostalgic

Strasbourg, FranceI will forever be nostalgic of the few months I lived in Strasbourg, France. I really don’t think that feeling will ever go away and I am ok with it, I’ve said it before. I think everyone needs to live abroad at some point in their lives, even if it’s just for a few months. To some it sounds annoying, but I have never heard anyone who has lived abroad say that they regret their decision. Seriously, it opens your eyes, your mind and your soul. It also empties your pockets, but that’s another story.

Instagram did not even exist when I was studying abroad. *Does quick Google search* Ok, Instagram was literally being built as I was studying abroad. I can only imagine the absurd amount of pictures I would have been posting on a daily basis if I had an Instagram account at that point. I had a basic Nokia phone with limited minutes and text messages as my loyal companion, I used bbm (Blackberry messenger) as the way to chat with my family and friends in the other side of the Atlantic and guess what? I took pictures with an actual camera and not a phone. Bizarre, right?

There’s nothing I can write that can wipe away the nostalgia that I’m feeling at the moment, so I will not keep trying. It’s all just really weird and beautiful at the same time. So join me while I reminisce, I hope all of you have a happy place and set of memories that can bring out the same sense of comfort and longing like Strasbourg does for me.

Strasbourg, France

Strasbourg, France

Somewhere near Strasbourg…

100_4705

100_4706

100_4707

100_4721

It’s called enchanted island for a reason

Just in case I don’t give you enough reasons to visit Puerto Rico on a regular basis, this video by Javier Letour should do it. It’s sweet torture for me right now, facing this bitter New York winter and counting the days until I can return to my one true home. Enjoy!

[Old San Juan] Castillo San Felipe del Morro

IMG_1277

I was listening to Ricky Martin’s new album on Spotify today (you know, as you do on your average Wednesday) and although I wasn’t quite blown away by the album, a special track really hit the spot. “Isla Bella” (which you can listen to here) is a song for all of those Puerto Ricans (like me) who are currently living away from the island but miss it sorely and attribute who they are to their roots.

I love New York, I do, but when you are from a place like Puerto Rico, it’s really hard to compare. There’s a reason why we love to brag about it, it’s really paradise and I am beyond proud to call Puerto Rico by true home.

Anyways, let’s not get too nostalgic over here, I shall be back soon enough.

Why not take this chance to share some more pictures from my last trip to Old San Juan? Go ahead, you say? Thank you.

All these pictures are from el Castillo San Felipe del Morro in Old San Juan, more commonly know as just “El Morro”.

IMG_1190

IMG_1305

IMG_1216

IMG_1239

IMG_1284

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?

 

New Hobby? Hiking at El Yunque Rainforest

IMG_9462

When I was little, someone got lost in El Yunque Tropical Rainforest and was not found until about 3 days later. I’m basing this all on my memory, so forgive me if I mix up the details. Anyways, that story really stuck to me. I think he was only able to survive because he knew which plants were good to eat and he was able to ration whatever little he had. Regardless of the accuracy of my memory, I must say I’ve developed a sense of respect for the rainforest.

Sure, I went on all the Girl Scouts adventures, but being the good girl I’ve always been, I always followed the rules. In the past few years, I’ve been bringing different friends from all over the world to come see El Yunque. In all of these trips, I stuck to the basics. The basics are safe and you can’t get lost on your own. I have no idea why I was being so stupid, I just never questioned my typical short visit excursion.

Until this Holiday break, of course, when my adventurous boyfriend was all like “let’s hike up to the tallest mountain in the rainforest” and I was like “no”. Being the amazing girlfriend that I am, I decided to take him beyond the first tiny waterfall.

IMG_9457

Turns out, there are actually different trails in the rainforest. How did I not know this before? All this time here I was thinking that the man got lost because of lack of proper signs.

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

It really was a beauty to walk through these wonders of nature. Granted, I kept looking down in the ground to make sure I did not trip and fall off into unexplored territory. We also got into a crowded trail, which was a little too stressful for my taste. If you want to have a more tranquil experience, go during a weekday.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetHere is another story that I’m not so sure how accurate it is. When I was little, my dad would tell me that these white leaves that you see above could predict whether it was going to rain or not. They are called “Yagrumo” leaves and they belong up in a tree. You see, only one side is white and by checking if that side is facing up or down, you’re able to predict if it will rain. A quick Google search didn’t really validate this story and I’m not going to look very into it. To be honest, I like to believe that these are magical leaves, I think that’s pretty cool.

IMG_9455

After a 45 minute hike, we arrived at this beautiful waterfall. Mind you, I would say this is the second most touristy waterfall in the rainfall, we got even better ones! If you want to go super off the beaten path, you may, but I am completely unable to tell you how to get there. Also, the water was freezing for my standards. My true American boyfriend, on the contrary, found it cold but bearable. You could tell people apart very easily in this spot, people in the water were clearly not from Puerto Rico.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Back from the waterfall, we ended our first hike with a little sweat but still smiles on our faces. I was ready to get going and hit the beach but of course, this adventure was not over. My boyfriend was super ecstatic about hiking and stood firm on his original plan to reach the top. In the back of my mind I was prepared for this and had brought us lunch. Again, aren’t I the best?

Processed with VSCOcam with c2 preset

We found a great picnic area for our gourmet meal, it was like being in elementary school all over again. I think companies should have field trips, just as we did back in school. We can all wear t-shirts, ride the bus together, learn about nature and stop at the shopping outlets on our way back!

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

Speaking of gourmet meal, take a look at our feast! This was probably the healthiest I ate during my two weeks in Puerto Rico, I do not regret that for one second. I’ve always heard that nuts give you a lot of energy, so I made sure to back plenty in case we got lost in the rainforest for three days.

We got on the car again to drive closer to the top and start another trail. On the way there, I worked my magic and was able to persuade my boyfriend into abandoning our super ambitious hiking plan and head to the beach (yes!). The beach was great and afterwards we had dinner at the Kioskos de Luquillo, which is a great stop after you go wandering around a rainforest.

All jokes aside, I really enjoyed hiking. It’s also always nice to go with someone whose company you enjoy, kinda crucial when you get lost in the rainforest for 3 days. We decided we need to go hiking more often. Come to think about it, I don’t think I’ve ever been hiking in the US. I find this hard to believe, but my brain confirms it. As long as I can get my picnic on, don’t encounter any bears and don’t fall off a cliff, I think I can get used to this hiking thing.

All pictures taken & edited by Cristina Nogueras – (iPhone 5)

Joyuda, Puerto Rico – Take One

 

It’s always sad when one exciting trip ends, but there’s always the comfort of coming home to a bunch of photos. This was my first trip with my DSLR camera, which obviously means I took more photos that I now can handle. I must admit I am obsessed and can’t get enough (something I have no problem with).

Here are a few to begin with from my days at Joyuda, Puerto Rico

IMG_1512Joyuda is one of my favorite areas in Puerto Rico, located in the South West, you can get amazing seafood (which I had) and pass out by the beach with a food coma (which I did). In my humble opinion, this area has some of the nicest beaches in Puerto Rico, but I know that can be highly debated.

IMG_1640I love the fact that you can find a handful of seafront restaurants in Joyuda, allowing you to have your fish by the sea (you can think that’s awesome or tragic, your pick). I also love this random picture that I took of my boyfriend, he might seem serene but I can tell he is a little freaked out by the huge fish swimming right below (they were like 4 feet long!).

IMG_1646

For better or for worse, I am a steak person, but seafood here is so good that I can totally make an exception. You can find seafood empanadillas, seafood mofongo … seafood EVERYTHING. I would show you pictures, but most times I was very excited to eat and forgot to shoot first (I know, horrible how I dared to enjoy my food without any technology). I do have some good places to eat that I will be sharing soon, more to come!

 

 * All photos in this post were taken and edited by Cristina Nogueras, please do not use without permission *

Wordless Wednesday: Back to Reality

photo (1)

Yesterday I flew back to real life in New York City after spending two wonderful weeks home in my warm Puerto Rico. I took this picture during take-off and felt inspired to edit it on the spot.

Can’t wait to start sharing all the great pictures I took, stay tuned!