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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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!

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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!).

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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

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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!

Hey there 2015!

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May this new year be filled with things that make you smile, whether that’s visiting new places or eating cheese in your couch. May you discover new wonders and overcome obstacles. Don’t sweat the little things, unless they’re spiders. Let 2015 be an adventure, the kind that leaves you panting but with a huge, idiotic smile in your face.

Cheers!

Puerto Rico On My Mind

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Five years ago, making my way to las Tinajas in Puerto Rico.

Trekking up the river to reach a corner of the forest where rocks become natural slides.

Now, just a few days away from landing on this twisted little island of mine.

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