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.
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!
After a glorious night of sleep (10pm-11am) I felt like I was ready to take over the world! Let’s be honest, I was still feeling jet lagged and could probably have slept for another day. Leslie and I got our day started and headed to lunch at Festiva in the adjacent hotel. This was no ordinary lunch! This was a Vegas style buffet with a bottle of Portuguese wine for less than $10! (The wine was less than $10, not the buffet).
After a glorious 2 hour lunch, we moseyed our way back to our room to get ready for an evening on the Cotai Strip!
With the promise of unlimited fun we took a transfer to the Studio City Hotel. Whenever you ask the concierge or front desk how to get somewhere, they think anything 15 minutes or longer is just too far to walk and always suggest a free shuttle. Anyhow, Studio City is the end of the strip so we could wander our way towards the show at the other end and take in everything Macau had to offer!
A mini Eiffel Tower at the Parisian
Cotai Strip is a mini Vegas and continuing to grow. The difference is there is no smoking in the casino and everyone is drinking tea instead of alcohol.
Leslie treated me to see The House of Dancing Water which is a spectacular acrobatic water show created by Franco Dragone who also created quite a few Cirque du Soleil shows. The show does not allowed photography but is full of fun acrobatics and a great story line and we were in the splash zone in the 4th row!
We grabbed a quick bite at Tastes of Asia and headed back to the hotel for a good night of sleep!
Where does one start after 8 days in Maui? With a story I guess. A few years ago (20) I met some amazing girls in high school. 20 years later we are still friends and decided on a girls trip to Maui. A few years ago (3) I met this girl in Rome. We became friends and I decided to visit her in Maui before my girls trip. That is how I ended up in Maui for 8 days!
This will mostly be a picture diary of some amazing experiences because what better way to show off a beautiful place?? Landing in Maui I was scooped up from the airport and whisked off to a kegs and eggs house party. From there, Kimmy (my friend from Rome) took me on adventure after adventure after adventure! There is nothing like hanging with a local to really get to know a place.
The favorite local hangout is Down The Hatch where Monday is trivia night and every other night is just a night for some company and good drinks. If you win trivia night, you win lots of coupons towards food or drinks. Don’t try to beat Kimmy, she always wins. Aside from that, we ate breakfast at Longhi’s almost every morning, had happy hour at Spanky’s and had ocean front dining at Koa’s. The best part of being with a local is the 10% discount on basically everything!
It’s not all about the nightlife so off on a road trip we went. The idea was to end with snorkeling but the water was super choppy and murky which meant danger! Instead I was able to see the blow hole, walk through a rainforest, see some flamingos and penguins and have a drink in a cave. Not a bad way to spend the day when you can’t get in the water.
Still having not set foot in the ocean we were off on another adventure the next day on the Road to Hana. Well, the weather decided against that for us and we turned around and stopped at ho’okipa where I finally got to swim! The ocean was relentless and took me down and I have a bruise to show it! Regardless, I was happy to frolic around for a bit.
The next day my other friends were flying in and it was time to switch gears. We stayed at the Fairmont so I went from Lahaina to Wailea and from being a local to a tourist. One has to switch it up sometimes! The next few days were spent lounging by the pool chatting and giggling and going out to dinner. We had J Rosé and yummy blended drinks to keep us going! We went down the water slide and made new friends in the pool. We strolled the path past all the other hotels and enjoyed just hanging out. I even finally got in some snorkeling!
Sadly it was time to go home. The ladies went one way while I started off on another adventure.
I really have been repeating destinations on this European tour but every time I travel I meet more people and just want to visit them. This time a friend from West Hollywood moved to Berlin and there was no way I was going to pass up the opportunity to see him! You can see what I did in Berlin last time here and here.
Obviously my love for street art will never go away. Since my friend moved to Berlin he has not seen a single touristy thing in Berlin. I thought we had to at least see the East Side Gallery because I love it!
We basically spent the weekend eating at the restaurant he works at and hanging at his house and going to different bars. It was really nice to not be a tourist most of the time and just hang with a friend.
The dog was probably one of my favorite parts of the visit. He was incredibly cuddly and made me feel like I was home!
For some reason Milan has never really been a place I wanted to go but it was on the way from Lugano to Budapest so I thought a quick stop here would be helpful in not moving around a lot.
The main site in Milan aside from the fashion and shopping is the Cathedral. When you come out of the metro the cathedral just looms up in front of you. By this point of the trip I have seen my fair share of cathedrals so I opted out of entering this one. However, it is a beautiful site.
I like to find some of the random focal points of a city and the finger statue did not let me down. This statue was dressed with a ribbon for breast cancer but stands in front of the stock exchange as a big FU from the people to the Italian Stock Exchange. Personally I thought this was pretty funny and entertaining.
One of the amazing aspects of social media is the ability to stay connected with people and make plans. I found out my friend Sarah would be in Milan for 3o minutes for a train switch and so we met up for a quick hello and a hug. Traveling really does show you how small the world can be.
The main tourist area of Milan is pretty clean but once you get out into some alleys, there are some grimey sections and of course some street art. I thought this little guy was pretty cool.
I am glad I went to Milan but it is not a spot I would add as a must see when there are so many other beautiful places in Italy.
The number one best thing about traveling is meeting new people. My new friend Danielle had heard about this little town called Aveiro from someone working at the hostel. This just happens to be on the way to Porto and so I left Lisbon a day early and planned to arrive in Porto a day late to visit this place.
No train ride is complete without some entertainment and refreshments. We had a book and an adult coloring book for the 3 hour train ride from Lisbon to Aveiro. What else does one need?
Aveiro is a very small place and the main area is walkable within about 15 minutes so there actually isn’t that much to do. The view from the hostel was these adorable little houses full of tiled detail. Basically, when I think of Portugal this is what I think of.
Aveiro is said to be the Venice of Portugal so naturally we had to go on a boat tour and see what the city was all about. We specifically asked for a tour in English and somehow ended up on a tour in Spanish. I learned that this quaint little town is known for fishing and salt and is actually a huge port town.
I always find it interesting to learn about a place that is so important to a a certain part of the world that I had no idea about.
The tiles on the houses all have different details. The blue tile is a very common theme throughout all of Portugal and it just so happened that my headband matched the pattern. I have to have a little fun while I’m traveling right?
Since the town is quite small, we took a day trip to a beach town about 20 minutes outside of town call Costa Nova. The houses are all painted with individual stripes because it was said that the supply of paint was so limited that each plank was painted a different color just in case.
The beach was incredibly windy but we found a little cove to relax in and enjoy the sounds of the ocean. This entire little place can be done as a day trip from Porto but I was very happy to spend the night and enjoy this area and I think it is a must see!
I have been a bit MIA lately but the travels are starting up again. Living in the United States I think I take for granted everything that is within a short flight from me or even a short drive. I took a few weeks to visit friends and family in Seattle, Fairbanks and Portland.
The trip started with an easy flight to Seattle to visit my sister who just moved there to receive her dual masters at University of Washington. The view of the city skyline did not let me down!
We went to Gas Works park and went blackberry picking to make a homemade pie because why not? I would say that the final score was blackberry bushes: 4 Jenna: 2. I walked away with a lot of blackberries and a lot of scratches.
Gas Works Park
The final pie was blackberry and peach with a crumble on top and edible flowers. It really helps to have a sister who knows about plants and can tell you what you can and cannot eat.
There is not a city I can go to without looking for graffiti or street art. According to some Google research I found an alley that was meant to have a legal street art wall. However, once we arrived to what happened to be a warehouse just across the street from the Starbucks headquarters, there was absolutely nothing. But Seattle did not let me know down and there was random art throughout the city.
Our day turned into a random day of exploring different neighborhoods that put us in Capitol Hill and some of the gay bars. There was a large contingent of military around and my sister decided to invite them to a bbq at her house the next day. We had a great time with them and even got to pretend to be a Marine for a moment.
There is a lot to see in Seattle but I was treating the trip as more of a place to live like a local. We took a stroll along Alki Beach and captured a beautiful sunset on the water.
Each time I have been to Seattle I have had a totally different experience since I was there for different reasons. Like any travel experience, living like a local is the way to go!
My good friend and amazing photographer and writer Brittany McLaren has started a blog called Sunshine and Rosé. She has various sections including amazing places to eat, travel, stay and one called in inspire.
I was lucky enough to be featured in the inspire section talking about how I travel the world and what I have learned. Take a minute to check it out!!!
The Yellow is a hostel that I worked at for 6 weeks last year where I met a ton of people. Some people I randomly saw again and others I made a point to meet up with again and then there were those I just never got to know. But there was a specific group of people that bonded and decided to have a reunion almost exactly a year later. We spent 4 days together catching up and loving life. But what’s even better, we really never left the hostel. Travel is about the people and the connections and the friendships and not always about the city. Besides, I’ve already seen Rome!