Escape to Nevada: A Reflection on Popping the Las Vegas Cherry

You think New York is the city that never sleeps?! Well, guess again. I got all of 2.25 hours of sleep over my long weekend in Las Vegas. Emphasis on the long, because it really felt like a week. Yet, somehow… it was over in the blink of an eye. Vegas will get you like that!

I think I took it like a trooper though. Late nights. Early mornings. All of that. I went to Vegas for my Bachelorette party and to celebrate my best friend’s 25th birthday. So I didn’t have to plan anything. And while you may think that this was a relief, I was honestly just freaking out because I never travel without an itinerary. But I let them do their thing. And it turned out fine. Except the death trap they made me get on, but I’ll save that story for another time.

We went out to the popular clubs, took a limo tour, got free VIP tables and bottle service every night, took a stripper class (I would say pole class but it was actually a stripper class, I know the difference), and won some money on the slot machines. It was a fun time for sure. Now, will I go back? Yes. I will go back. But it won’t be to party, that’s for sure. I stopped being about that life a long time ago but my friends wanted to so I was like, “hey, I only get a bachelorette party once and then I don’t ever have to do this again.” So I’ve been. I’ve done my partying. Next time, I will be doing more fun and interesting things (in my opinion) because I do have some ragrets. (Yes, it is spelled how I want it to be spelled.) I missed out on seeing the Hoover Dam, exploring Fremont Street, and watching the freaking water show at the Bellagio. *sheds a tear*

Also, a good thing to note is that what happens in Vegas does not stay in Vegas. Do not fall for the trap! I got no sleep in Vegas and the fatigue definitely came with me back to North Carolina… and stayed for a week straight. I’m just sayin… And people, with all of this social media you better watch out because you might be on someone’s snapchat and not even know it. So don’t go out embarrassing yourself and doing things that you shouldn’t be doing and/or don’t want people to know about.
All in all, it was a great trip. I did all of the cliche bachelorette stuff and most importantly I got to be with my best friends. I shall return, Vegas. And next time I might even spend more than five dollars on a slot machine. (Hey, I won almost six dollars total so get off me.)

Escape to Puerto Rico: 2 Amazing Free Things to do in Puerto Rico

Traveling is fun, but who wants to return home with a big dent in their wallet? Escape San Juan’s big city expenses and experience some stunning sites for free! By participating in these two activities you can encounter amazing views and also learn about the Puerto Rican Culture – without even consulting your travel budget.


Escape to El Yunque National Forest

Now, obviously there will be some expense to actually getting to El Yunque National Forest  – unless you just have some really great friends (Shoutout to LuLu and Javi!). However, once you get there you won’t have to pay for anything further. They will have stands to purchase food, drinks, and trinkets if you absolutely just want to take your wallet out but nothing in that list is a required purchase. I just packed a lunch and had plenty of water on hand.
Please note that there is a welcome center with a 3.00 USD entrance fee, but I didn’t see much of a point in visiting it since I had already researched everything extensively beforehand.

About El Yunque: 

El Yunque is the National Rainforest in northeastern Puerto Rico. It is the only Tropical Rainforest included in the U.S. Forest Service System. El Yunque is a mountainous rainforest with its peak being one of the highest points in Puerto Rico. Luckily, this Tropical Rainforest has signs and maps that will help visitors navigate through the trails. Moreover, the trails are somewhat paved so that visitors can easily pin down which way they need to go. Things to see include: towers, waterfalls, mountains, wildlife, and vegetation. El Yunque is an absolutely breathtaking place to visit, especially if you love nature – and even if you think you don’t.

 

Tips:

  1. Look up the trails beforehand.
    • This will help you determine which landmarks you want to hit. If you want to see everything, looking up the maps can also help with planning out your route.
    • This will also help you determine what difficulty each trail is categorized as and which ones are best for you.
  2. El Yunque National Forest opens at 7:30am and the gates close at 6:00pm, every day, year-round .
    • Ranger stations are open from 9:00am – 5:00pm.
  3. Stay hydrated!
    • This is very important as you will be outdoors and exerting physical strains on your body. Make sure that you have water on hand.
    • These trails have one way in and out, so however long you walked to get to the destination it will take that long to return to the entrance.

 

 

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Escape to Old San Juan

Again, you may accrue expenses to travel to Old San Juan, but once you get there you are under no obligation to spend any money. There are places that you can go into and look around that charge an entrance fee, but I did not feel the need to enter these places.
I always do a  lot of research before I travel to figure out what exactly I want to see and what all I am willing to spend my money on. In a perfect world I would go see everything no matter the cost, but a chica has bills to pay and only wants to spend her money on what she feels is necessary.

About Old San Juan:

Old San Juan is just that – an older historic section of San Juan. Old San Juan is actually the oldest settlement in Puerto Rico. It is situated along the northern coast of Puerto Rico where the west side of the town is encompassed by Fort San Felipe del Morro, also known as “El Morro”. El Morro is one of the places that you can enter and explore inside, if you pay a fee. It was constructed to protect the San Juan Bay and on the opposite side of the town Fortín San Juan de la Cruz (or El Cañuelo) was constructed to supplement El Morro’s defense. You can’t enter El Cañuelo, but you can walk around it. Aside from El Morro and El Cañuelo, a few things to see in Old San Juan include: Paseo la Princesa, Cathedral de San Juan Bautista, and Casa Blanca (entrance fee). From the blue cobble stone streets to the surrounding colorful buildings, Old San Juan is full of beautiful sights and definitely chock-full of history.

Tips:

  1. Look up the maps beforehand.
    • Make a game plan of what landmarks you absolutely do not want to leave without seeing and plan your route.
    • Some websites have Walking Tour maps that will ease your route planning because they are already planned out for you.
  2. There is a free trolley that has stops throughout the town.
    • Use this free trolley’s route to help put together your plan of action while visiting San Juan. See if there are any bus stops near the landmarks you want to see.
  3. Research the history of Old San Juan before visiting.
    • Just going to Old San Juan and walking around isn’t going to do much for you if you don’t know what you are looking at. You could hire a tour guide, or you could look up the information yourself to be more informed on the history and culture. This is especially important if you aren’t planning on paying any entrance fees to enter museums.
    • Map out your route and then look up some history on the bigger landmarks that you are planning to see.

 



Have you been to Puerto Rico? Are you planning to go?

Let us know what free things to do that you have discovered and some tips on how to enjoy them in the comments below.

Escape to Argentina: 3 Fun Things to Do in La Boca – Buenos Aires

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La Boca is one of the many barrios in the capital city of Buenos Aires, Argentina. La Boca means “the mouth” in English. This barrio gets its name from being situated right in the mouth of the Riachuelo Basin. You would think that this would be a beautiful sight, but the basin is actually pretty polluted and gives off a foul stench as you walk past it. However, the vibrant colors and high energy of La Boca will quickly take your mind off of the smell once you get there. You can definitely see that the Italian settlers from Genoa left their mark as the barrio continues to exude a European feel.

 

All of the colorful culture of La Boca makes it very unique from the rest of Buenos Aires. It is a great place to go if you want to escape the cool-toned feel of the city and here are three fun things to make sure that you do while visiting:


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1. Walk Down “El Caminito” 

El Caminito (or “little walkway” in English) is something that you can’t miss in La Boca. This is where you will find all of the color in the culture, so to speak. The walkway is basically an open-air street museum. Benito Quinquela Martín, an Argentine artist, painted the run-down buildings with vibrant colors and crafted statues to create a wonderful work of art in the 1960s. He also constructed a makeshift stage for the performers to show off their skills. El Caminito has a lot of character packed into a very small space. Even the cobblestone ground built to prevent flooding adds a little style, though it is a little rough to walk on.
In earlier times, La Boca was home to a lot of emerging immigrant artists, which allowed them to be in their own space away from the big city and politics. Artists still occupy this space so you will see a lot of pop-up stands with people selling their artwork and hand-made items. You will also find little shops filled with a variety of trinkets and souvenirs.

 

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2. Catch an Open-Air Tango Show

In La Boca you will find restaurants where you can enjoy your meal alfresco while watching a live Tango Show. Some restaurants will have live singers and others will have tango dancers that dance to a recorded song. If you haven’t experienced the dance that originated in Argentina what better way to do it than to witness a live show in Argentina!
Do note that the restaurants and trinket shops are said to be overpriced, but La Boca has become a very touristy spot so it shouldn’t be surprising.
Not-So-Fun Fact: I left my phone in a restaurant in La Boca. I couldn’t remember the name of the restaurant so I googled pictures and finally found one that looked familiar. I called them on my house mom’s phone and got my phone back… after freaking out for hours, of course. Has that ever happened to any of you?

 

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3. Experience a Soccer Match at La Bombonera

La Bombonera means “chocolate box” in English. It is a well-known stadium in South America where you can experience the famous Boca Juniors in action. This stadium can house about 49,000 fans, so you can imagine the atmosphere in La Boca on the day of a match – especially when against hometown rivals, River Plate.
Although both teams originated in the barrio of La Boca, River Plate (1901) migrated to the northern district of Núñez and the Boca Juniors (1905) remained in their birthplace. The two teams first met head-to-head on August 24, 1913, which became the start of a match that many have deemed bucket-list worthy.
The matches between the La Boca Juniors and River Plate get so heated that they have their own name, the Superclásico. Some have even said that the Superclásico is one of the biggest rivalries in the world of fùtbol, filled with an atmosphere of chanting, dancing, and never-ending fireworks.


Just as La Boca is known for its rich history and culture, it is also known for its danger after dark. So be cognizant of your surroundings, as you always should, and try to visit in the daytime hours.
Which of the three fun things to do in La Boca mentioned above attracts you the most?
Have you ever been to La Boca? If so, please share your experience in the comments.