A Travellerspoint blog

London

sunny 98 °F

Never, I repeat, never exchange your money at Gatwick airport. The exchange rate at the ATMs is highway robbery - plus, everything in London can be paid for by a debit/credit card. EVERYTHING!

Now for the rest of my London adventure:

So much to see, so little time. Despite the record breaking heat on day one, day two saw a 20° drop and the weather continued to drop to the mid 60s. London is fantastic, it’s very easy to get around and the people are friendly and helpful. It’s an expensive city, all attractions cost (look into getting a London Pass and see if that accommodates your stay) but the underground is reasonable and after you pay for three rides for the day with the Oyster card the rest of your rides during that day are free. Also, plenty of friendly staff to help you with all your travels using the tube. I took only one tour (Windsor Castle, Stonehenge, Bath) which was a twelve hour day but most of that was sitting on a bus listening to our guide who was quite entertaining. If you really want to see everything at these sights then this tour is not for you. If you have the time, make each sight a day visit using the rail system or if you are driving, you could do Windsor Castle and Stonehenge in the same day.

Windsor Castle is in a flight path - you would think the Queen would have something to say about that but evidently not. It’s a nice place but if you’ve seen one Castle, yada yada yada. Plus, no photos are allowed inside the Castle.

Stonehenge is basically a photo shoot.

Bath is lovely and I would truly enjoy staying there for a few days but, wear a hat because the seagulls are notorious for hitting the tourist and they have quite remarkable aim.

The food is just okay, a little bland for my taste but there are ethnic restaurants so you can do your obligatory fish and chips and then dine on more tasty food.

Wimbledon was fun to see but get there early so you can take a tour because without the tour, you won’t be able to see any of the courts.

The Beatles Abbey road is not the Abbey Road you see on the subway map, not that you would make that foolish assumption. ;)

Jaywalking for sport is everywhere but be careful because you know, they do drive on the wrong side of the street. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

The city is clean, fun with lots of exciting sights to see. I felt safe every where I walked, day or night. This will be on my revisits list of countries, I’m still amazed it took me this long to visit, if you have the chance, come sooner than later.

London Underground is the best
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Mind The Gap
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The London Eye
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Big Ben - Some say this will be closed until 2028
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Little Ben
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Buckingham Palace
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Westminster Abbey
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London Bridge
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Tower Bridge
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Princess Diana - Memorial Waterfall
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Hyde Park - Speakers Corner
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Paddington
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Windsor Castle
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Stonehenge
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Bath
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Posted by joannereyes 10:47 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

Boston, Massachusetts

86 °F

Boston is a beautiful city with the funniest people from the educated to the labor force. Their accent can be difficult at times, but it can also be entertaining. The traffic is awful and the drivers are no better. What should have been a 15 minute drive from Logan airport to South station (rail system) took well over an hour. A combination of rush hour traffic and flooding in the streets was not a good way to start our Boston experience. You can easily get lost even using GPS, but if you know that going in, you can use it as part of your adventure. It was hot and humid so to escape the heat everyone was staying cool in the park. The Italian food is the best anywhere and the desserts are to die for.

Beautiful park
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Who knew, Encore Boston Harbor
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Posted by joannereyes 13:02 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Providence, Rhode Island

sunny 85 °F

Once again I had the best time in this little/big city. The city was so festive this week, with waterfire, restaurant week and dancing in the street. Well, not dancing in the street as much as dancing in what is the ice rink in winter. The restaurant scene in Providence can compete with any major city in the States, probably because of Johnson & Wales University. The restaurant prices are high but with restaurant week and set menus, you can enjoy a wonderful three course meal at a reasonable price. You should plan your travels ahead of time because with all the Universities in this little city, hotel prices jump quite a bit if the Universities are having activities.

Beautiful murals can be found all over Providence
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A view of downtown Providence
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Art exhibit in front of city hall
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Better known as the Superman building
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Brown University
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A friend in Prospect Park
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Waterfire
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Being entertained by a local band
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Dancing in the street
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Posted by joannereyes 12:22 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Puerto Rico

sunny 85 °F

Why is the question:

1. Why did it take me so long to visit this beautiful island?
2. Why had I only booked 4 days here?
3. Why are all Uber drivers friendlier here than anywhere else?
4. Why is our government still not helping the people of Puerto Rico???

This place is magical with its beautiful beaches, the warm turquoise water (which is spectacular) and the delicious food (and yes, I’m biased because I grew up on this food). The people are so friendly and helpful that you feel welcomed and special. The island still shows damage from hurricane Maria but the resilience and hope I see in people is reassuring. Old San Juan has no beaches, no resort hotels, and not a lot of natural beauty, yet with their tropical color colonial architecture it is alluring and a must see. The day we spent there was crowded with both locals and tourist because of the Festival de Pascuas (Easter Festival). Without a doubt the festival is an excellent natural stop to start Christmas because, without Easter there is no Christmas. The festival consisted of typical Christmas food, handicrafts, agricultural markets and music. So, while the locals were dancing in the street enjoying their Sunday, the tourist were spending their money and enjoying the arts and crafts. When I say tourist, I mean those darn cruise ship people (and yes, I am one of them). The crowds were numerous, but the atmosphere was happy with a side of let’s party. 💃🏻🍻 That atmosphere lasted until it was time to go, oh, the traffic! Between the locals and the Uber drivers taking their passengers back to their ships, the traffic was literally a parking lot. I have no way of knowing how long it took to go the 2 miles out of Old San Juan (because I walked out) but I’m guessing at a minimum 2 hours if not more. Part of the problem is the government mishandling the event, but on this particular day, there were also 7 Cruise ships in port. SEVEN! That’s a lot of people that help the economy but oh the locals must have been miserable not to mention the tourist that had to get back to their ship on time. So, the moral of the story is just walk, it’s not that bad and the benefit is you get to enjoy your dessert without the guilt.

Our Airbnb was great but it wasn’t in the best neighborhood. Actually, if you stayed in the immediate area it was very safe, but if you walked a couple of blocks away from the beach it deteriorated quickly. An example was a school that looked more like a military compound with barbed wire and a rifle carrying guard at the entrance. We were told that it was to protect the kids from the drug traffickers. So, not everything in Puerto Rico 🇵🇷 is good, and like every state in the U.S., Puerto Rico has its share of problems too, but I loved our time here and I wouldn’t hesitate to stay in the same area.

Flag of the United States | Flag of Puerto Rico | Burgundy Cross Flag (Spanish military flag)
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Old San Juan
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The Forts of Old San Juan: Guardians of the Caribbean
Tunnels and staircases wind through the interior, leading back to the time when the fort provided the keystone to protection of the Spanish Empire that spread across the Caribbean.
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The El Yunque National Forest is the only tropical rain forest in the national forest system. At nearly 29,000 acres, it is one of the smallest in size, yet one of the most biologically diverse of the national forests hosting hundreds of animal and plant species, some of which are found only here.
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Beaches
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Kite Surfing
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Capital
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San Juan Holocaust Memorial spending a few minutes here to honor those that suffered and lost their lives during a horrendous period in our history.
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Boats
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Bacardi Factory - Not the best tour but the rum was good. 😁
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Somewhere over the Atlantic #NoFilter
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Posted by joannereyes 14:17 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Rome

rain 63 °F

Ah, Rome, I will miss you despite the bad weather, the crowds, the pick pockets, the traffic and the high cost of enjoying in your breathtaking city.

Weather: Every day there was rain, but that didn’t deter us from seeing everything that was on our list, except for the Forum. That was a bit too much to trapes around in the rain.

Crowds: Once again the crowds were large everywhere! But unlike Florence, they didn’t overwhelm you. The piazzas are large so you had plenty of space to move around without feeling trapped.

Pick Pockets: We didn’t experience this first hand, but we met a couple who told us what happened to them on the metro. A passenger on the train motioned to the wife that there was someone trying to get into her backpack. When all eyes were on her, the pickpocket retrieved the wallet of her husband from his front pocket. The deception of the wife’s backpack was the play that allowed the thief’s to succeed.

Traffic: Just like in Los Angeles, there is traffic everywhere. Unlike Los Angels, the traffic flows onto the sidewalks.

The Cost: It’s no surprise that Rome is expensive so we had planned accordingly, but sometimes when you look back on what you spent, you wonder how much is too much.

Wow! The food is beyond delicious and the sights beyond beautiful. I truly will not be able to enjoy pasta again knowing what homemade pasta taste like. Italy has ruined Italian food for me. 😉

This was our last stop as a family which was bittersweet as we won’t be seeing Cody and Alona for possibly another year. But then again, you never know. 😁

Arrivederci Italy!

Vatican
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Being herded through the Vatican Museums on our way to the Sistine chapel - too many people! This after waiting in line for 3 hours
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Leaving the Museum
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St. Peter’s Square is located in the Vatican City at the feet of St. Peter's Basilica. It is one of the most renowned squares in the world.
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The Colosseum is, along with the Vatican City, Rome's greatest tourist attraction. On 7 July 2007 the Colosseum became one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World.
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The rain didn’t keep the tourist away
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The Arch of Constantine
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Trevi Fountain
The myth of the Trevi Fountain
Why are there always people in the fountain throwing coins into the water and taking photos of themselves?
The myth, originating in 1954 with the movie "Three Coins in the Fountain," goes like this:

  • If you throw one coin: you will return to Rome.
  • If you throw two coins: you will fall in love with an attractive Italian.
  • If you throw three coins: you will marry the person that you met.

In order to achieve the desired effect, you should throw the coin with your right hand over your left shoulder.

An interesting statistic is that approximately a million euros worth of coins are taken from the fountain each year. Since 2007 this money has been used to support good causes.

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The Spanish Steps were built at the beginning of the eighteenth century connecting Piazza di Spagna and the Church of Trinità dei Monti.
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Victor Emmanuel II Monument
The Victor Emmanuel Monument is not exactly known as one of Rome’s most beautiful structures but it is nevertheless well worth the visit, even if only for the great views from the top.
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the Pantheon claims to be the best preserved building from ancient Rome. One of the masterpieces of Roman architecture.
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Bocca della Verità
The Mouth of Truth marble sculpture, it depicts the sea god Oceanus and was likely originally used as a drain cover, though today it is famous for “biting the hand of liars”. The Mouth of Truth was featured prominently in the 1953 classic Roman Holiday featuring Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck.
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Piazza Navona
the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of the Four Rivers)
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Tiber River
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Porta San Giovanni is a gate in the Aurelian Wall of Rome, Italy, named after the nearby Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano.
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Homemade pasta
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Posted by joannereyes 10:04 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

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