The Journey to Rosario Islands

There is only one way to get to Isla Grande from Cartagena and that is by boat! You can reach the island of Baru by bus but you would still have to take a boat to Isla Grande. We ventured down to the port to buy our ticket for 40,000 COP with a 15,500 COP park tax (total $18.77 USD). There are tons of people trying to sell you tickets on the street but official booths line the path and that is the best place to buy the ticket to ensure the best pricing. All the boats leave by 10:30am so get there early unless you want to pay for a private speed boat. Be warned, these rides are not for the faint of heart as they fly through the water and throw you around a bit. Anyhow, after being told our boat would leave around 8:30 or 9:00, we were finally packed onto and ready for our hour boat ride!

Our boat was driving a little funny and making some weird noises but I didn’t think anything of since this is what they do for a living daily. I was wrong! The engine was failing and we had to slowly make our way to a random island and disembark and wait for two other boats to come and get us. No one cared and we just laid under the cabanas and others splashed around in the ocean. There are worse places to be stuck.

Once we finally arrived to our hotel it was like arriving to paradise! They only have 8-10 rooms (can’t quite figure it out) and the room rate includes all meals! Many people make the trip for the day so from 10-3 the place is packed but other than that, it’s like a ghost town. Absolute perfection!

For the next three days I will be on this island relaxing and through Christmas Eve and Christmas.

Back to Colombia

First off, recovering from 16 hours of jet lag is no joke! I landed on Thursday morning and had to unpack and do laundry and repack to catch a flight on Saturday to LA and spend an early anniversary with my boyfriend! But you can’t keep me in the country for long when I have the travel bug and on Wednesday, I took off for Colombia still unsure of which time zone I was sleeping in!

I have only been to Bogota in Colombia so this time I am meeting a friend to celebrate the holidays and traveling to Cartagena, Rosario Islands, Medellin and Bogota. It all started with two days in Cartagena to try to normalize my sleep and acclimate to the blistering heat!

I was very lucky to land in Cartagena and have an early checkin to my hotel. I had almost no sleep on the overnight flight and was in need of a shower! I met up with my friend Lisa from Manchester who I met in Rome (this is why I travel) and grabbed a bite to eat and headed back to the room to take a nap. My nap turned into almost 10 hours of sleep where I then was awake from 11pm-5am to wake up again around 8:30am. Once again, lovely jet lag.

Attempting to see a bit more of Cartagena than the inside of my hotel room, we decided to explore the inside of the walled city. Finally, I started to feel like I was in Colombia! We have 4 days in Cartagena over the new year so there will be a lot more in depth exploring, but it was nice to get a feel for the city before our next adventure!

Some Down Time in Hong Kong

It was time for me to adventure out in my own since Leslie had to go to work. I decided to take the day and head to Kowloon and conquer the Ladies Market. I had a friend that requested a few items and I took my negotiation skills and pictures to the market to find some purses and belts!

The market was not nearly as overwhelming as Beijing or Shanghai but walking through the streets, a constant comment of “copy bag or copy sunglasses” was whispered under hushed breath breath. I was looking at some sunglasses just because I thought they were cute and the guy asked to see my Jimmy Choos I was wearing and told me he had a copy. I pointed and said “these are real” and walked away.

Having had my adventure and also just wandering the streets, I relaxed a little bit back at the house before heading to dinner at Oola Petite. This is another local spot for Leslie and we opted to order some fajitas. With all the various cuisines I was consuming, why not throw some Mexican in there?

The next day Leslie had to work again and I was just plain old tired. I took the day to Netflix and chill. When Leslie got off work, we went to dinner for bottomless sushi! It would seem my last few days were focused on food which is absolutely okay with me!

Shopping Alert

I have USAA for my bank account and they are usually absolutely fantastic! ATM fees are waived and I have never had any issues getting out cash. That all changed when I attempted to get out some money for the rest of my trip. I tried 5 different ATMs and they all failed! I googled USAA in Hong Kong and apparently this is a huge problem and the card can’t be read. I wish I knew this BEFORE I left. After a very frustrating conversation with USAA they finally suggested I find a Citibank and thankfully, that worked! From here on out, I will make sure to always have some cash on me to at least exchange at a currency place.

After that little adventure, we headed towards the bus to head to Stanley Market but of course we hit up a few random stores to browse in along the way. I picked up two necklaces since they are small and easy to pack.

The bus was only 7.90 HKD which is about $1 USD. We browsed through the market and stumbled out onto a Christmas Market. There was mulled wine, wine tasting, food tasting and so many cute Christmas trinkets! It made me feel like I was in the holiday spirit. On our way home we stopped at the grocery store so I could make a home cooked meal and just relax.

First Full Day in Hong Kong

Once again, hanging out with a local means some days are just another day to hang out and enjoy each other’s company. Leslie took me to Wan Chai Market which is full of street vendors selling everything from turtles to cell phone cases and everything in between. I found a super cute pair of shoes but my big feet are not made for shoe sizes here. ☹️

Salted egg. I was not brave enough to try it.

Our main goal for the day was to have some dim sum at Dim Sum Square and get manicures and pedicures. Mission accomplished! It was nice to get off my feet and relax.

Since it was a Saturday night, I had to experience the craziness of Lan Kwai Fong and Rat Alley. This is a crazy part of Hong Kong full of bars and restaurants with people spilling out onto the streets everywhere. We were there during the earlier part of the night so we didn’t see anything crazy but apparently as the night goes on, fights break out and people get sick on the street. Just another night out right? We went out for some Thai food and then headed next door to have a few drinks and catch up.


To end the night, we went to the rooftop of Ce La Vie to see a nighttime view of the city. From here you can see the tallest building in Hong Kong and Kowloon. It was the perfect way to end the night!

Taipa Village

Just behind the glitz and glamour of the Cotai Strip is a tiny little town called Taipa Village. Macau was a former Portuguese colony and returned to China in 1999 making it a melting pot of food influenced by both cultures. Taipa Village is the perfect little area to get a taste of the history of Macau.

We went off in search of some typical Macanese food after crossing the street from the hotel. We ordered some chorizo, sautéed veggies, Portuguese fried rice and what we thought was baked chicken. What came out was a pastry stuffed with potatoes and bacon. Even though I’m with a friend who can speak Cantonese and Mandarin, the language barrier can still be an issue. At least we tried.

When you look up the top things to do in Taipa Village, the tope rated suggestions are restaurants to eat at.  Without much of a plan we wandered the streets to see what we would find. I was pleasantly surprised to stumble upon the market center full of bustling stalls and endless shopping. I like to think I’m pretty adventurous when it comes to food but I draw the line at most dried fish, shark fin or turtle soup and other things I can’t seem to figure out. However, it’s fun to browse and see what is available.

I had read about this place called Guava Juice and figured if we came across it I would see what it was all about. As we stumbled through the streets it popped up in front of us and I ordered myself a guava and passion fruit juice. It was AMAZING!

Finally it was time to head back to the hotel to head back to Hong Kong. On the way this little shutter caught my eye and reminded me of the colors and shutters I saw throughout parts of Europe and South America. There really is a little bit of different cultural’s influence all over the world.

Not yet having spent a single night in Hong Kong, I was excited to leave Macau and experience Hong Kong from a local’s point of view. As we were leaving Macau, flying fish jumped all around the ferry leaving a smile on my face!

Once I was settled into my friend’s place we walked down the block to Slim’s for a little happy hour where a French Rosé is only $5.75 and the peanuts are free flowing with the shells ending on the ground. A quick bite to eat and it was time for bed.

Mallorca = Perfection

Many people are fully aware of the island of Ibiza and all it has to offer. For those who don’t want $30 cocktails and crazy parties, there are the islands of Mallorca and Menorca that offer a calm and relaxing seaside environment.

The sunsets were truly amazing and not something that should be missed. I took so many pictures and it was hard to try to capture exactly what I was seeing but there are few below that show the awesomeness!

Don’t worry, I used water to capture this “wine” picture.


Palma de Mallorca is the main center for the island. We were staying about 20 minutes outside of this area in a gorgeous Airbnb but thought a day in town would be great. We ended up going to lunch for some tapas and browsing the zillion stores! This little bull caught my eye and I thought he was pretty sexy.

As always, my mom is one of my awesome travel partners in crime and we always have a great time together!

Miró in Barcelona

Although Barcelona is hugely influenced and overpowered by Gaudí, there are plenty of other artists that have left their mark in the city. We decided to step away from Gaudí and head to the Joan Miro museum. I love Miró and have a print from MOMA that I fell in love with a few years back. I could have taken about 1000 pictures while I was inside but alas, I had some self restraint and spent the time enjoying and appreciating the art instead of looking at everything through my phone.

This piece greeted us as we walked into the museum. I found it very entertaining. 🙂

Ignasi Aballi, Wrong Idea, 2012

Joan Miro, Hands flying off toward the constellations, 1974

Joan Miro, Painting, 1949

Joan Miro, The morning star, 1946

 

Joan Miro, Self-portrait, 1937-1960

The dual self-portrait superimposes two different moments. The bottom layer is a pencil copy of a painting begun in 1937, where Miro’s features merge into symbols from his personal world; above it he has placed a highly synthetic graffito from 1960. The specific face is displaced by an impersonal, anonymous figure that harks back to a primeval, universal line.

Joan Miro, Woman encircled by a flight of birds in the night, 1968

Joan Miro, Painting (The bottle of wine), 1924

Barcelona is all about Gaudi

There is no way you can visit Barcelona and not visit a few of Gaudi’s architectural wonders.

I visited Casa Mila for my second time and you can see what I thought of it last time here. This time I listened to the guided tour a little bit more and just took in everything with a fresh eye. I found that I wanted to take pictures of the exact same things that caught my eye last time. At least I know I am consistent in what I like.

Shards of glass are used to decorate the top of these chimneys


The same building from two sides. Gaudi used the sun to create natural light throughout the entire house.


Stop number two was at Casa Batllo where the exploration of the intricate lines of Gaudi is possible. The connection and inspiration from nature is visible in nearly every detail constructed. Gaudi was thoughtful in his process and understood the mathematics behind architecture in order to bring his ideas to fruition in an absolutely beautiful way.

Oak banister with a background of beveled glass made to look like water


The catenary arch


The staircase and banister all have soft edges to follow the curves of nature


Everything had a purpose in Gaudi’s world


Gaudi loved to use a lot of color and different materials


The light and ceiling are inspired from skeletons and shell patterns of animals 

La Sagrada Familia may be the most quintessential and finest work from Gaudi and he only lived to see 1/4 of it completed. Casa Mila and Casa Batllo were like practice places for the ideas and forms he would implement into the basilica. Gaudi left behind intricate details to his disciples on how the project should be completed which should be in 2026; 100 years after his death. There are not enough words to describe the beauty of la Sagrada Familia so I will let the pictures do the talking.

My parents at the entrance


Me at the entrance


Side view


Loosely translated to Thanksgiving day


The original Gothic side of the Basilica constructed in 1882


An example of the contrast of different materials together to create a beautiful contrast


Stained glass windows are placed throughout the basilica to create amazing colors!


Cool colors used on one side of the basilica


The pillars are like trees with different branches. They are made of different materials to help support different weights throughout the basilica.


Warm colors used on the other side of the basilica


There is a different detail everywhere you look


Contrasting materials and line


Statues are carved all around. Many are a depiction of Jesus from various parts of his life.


Truly the only thing I can say is that if you are heading to Barcelona, you HAVE to visit la Sagrada Familia!