Category Archives: Travel

Obrigada, Portugal

For someone who wants to travel the world, I am not as adventurous as I’d like to be. I admire those who don’t think twice before visiting a new place, those who are open to traveling to basically anywhere. In contrast, I have priorities. I have a selected list of countries I’d like visit during this semester; Portugal was not one of them.

The night before I took an 8-hour bus to Lisbon, I was hesitant about it, to the point that I almost fell asleep and missed the ride. Visiting Portugal meant stepping outside my comfort list of places to visit, to drift away from my priorities, which is something I’ve never been comfortable with. The free spirit in me decided to embrace the fact that I was traveling with almost 100 strangers and some friends for four days, sleeping in hostels, showering in communal bathrooms and partying until 4 am every day. I’m glad it did.

After 8 painful hours, we finally reached Lisbon. A beautiful bridge led us across the Tagus River to reach the center of the city. The next few days were followed by visits to the Torre do Belem, Jerónimos Monastery, São Jorge Castle (where we got to see one of Leonardo Da Vinci’s inventions in full motion), Peter IV square and a few nightclubs. Afterwards, we departed to Oporto, a city north of Portugal, known for its wine production.

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At Jerónimos Monastery

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It was in Oporto where I finally realized what was going on in my life. I was having fun, plain fun, adventurous fun. I was trying new foods (like Francesinha and Pastel do Belém) like I never do and the idea of showering in communal bathrooms didn’t make me cringe. The thing is that being  a 20-year-old journalism exchange student isn’t as glamorous as we all picture life in our 20’s. There are no first class flights, chic apartments or life-changing job opportunities. Instead, we have the chance to make the best of it all by traveling to new places to discover the beauty of the world around us, to meet new personalities that will become part of us, to embrace adventure in its purest way.

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Pastel do Belém

As I stood on a hill atop Oporto, with the entire city to my feet, I understood that I was meant to be there at that exact time with the people I was with. Nothing happens as a casualty. We travel to places because we are looking for something, for ourselves. I found a part of me in Portugal and carried it with me back to Madrid. Obrigada, Portugal, you will always be with me.

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A gay man trapped in a woman’s body (my roommate Raiza) and I in Oporto.

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Paris Je t’aime

1080261_434612929991046_1695300521_nWritten by Laura Rivera, edited by Frances Coral

Everyone loves Paris. It’s inevitable. How could they not? The Eiffel Tower, cafes, museums, Shakespeare & Co. Montmartre… I could go on with no end. These French fantasies and many more were fulfilled during my last trip to Paris in the beginning of August. Lucky me. Seven days enjoying France, just my boyfriend and me.

            We arrived in Paris on separate flights on August 1st (what a way to start the month). After much planning and anticipation, we were able to make it to the city of love and lights. Fresh off the airport, we checked into our hotel and headed out for a day of sightseeing. First, we visited the Eiffel Tower, to where I wore a navy shirt, black embellished pants and Aladdin-looking flats. The heat proved to be a challenge when it came time to continue our day, but still we managed to visit Notre Dame and Musée d’Orsay.

            With day one behind and day two promising great adventures, we headed out again to pay yet another visit to the Eiffel Tower in the morning. Right after, we visited the Louvre, where I lost my phone. Let’s just say that phones in Paris don’t disappear; they are found at the info booth (just like in Puerto Rico!). We went to Notre Dame again, but this time I took a white blazer, white pants and the Aladdin flats with me. Shakespeare & Co. was next, where we saw the desks of Hemingway and other acclaimed writers. At night, the Champs Elysees proved to be an excellent place to end the day.

            During our third day, we went to the Musee d’Orsay, yet again. But by day four, shopping awaited. The Champs Elysees witnessed my shopping journey, which was followed by an afternoon of museum hopping. The shopping experience included a new perfume, which was later taken away at customs (sad, I know).

            Versailles was on the schedule for day five. After taking the train all the way to the magical gardens of Louis XIV, it was closed. So, we dragged ourselves (disappointment included) to the Paris Opera and Julio Cortazar’s tomb. After, we went to the Eiffel Tower (it just doesn’t get old) where I gave my boyfriend a very special letter (the content is private!) and enjoyed the city view from above.

            On day six, we gave Versailles another try. This time, it was open, but too full for me to enjoy it fully (sad). We paid another visit to Montmartre, where we drank beer on the steps of Sacre Coeur, while I wore a beige maxi skirt, navy shirt and pink ballet flats.

            Our last day of exploring Paris served us well. First, we went to the Louvre, Shakespeare & Co. and ate crepes near Notre Dame. At night, we held a picnic at the Louvre (wine included) and walked to the Pont d’arts.

            When it came time to fly home, it was like Paris didn’t want to let me go. A huge line delayed me from arriving to my flight on time. Later, I was stopped at customs for having cosmetics and perfumes that were above the size limit (stupid rules!). Looking back, all I can say is: “Paris, Je t’aime”.

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Perfect Latitude

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I will take a moment to brag about the perfect latitude in which I was born. Let’s just say that I live where most of you vacation. I am surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean and the Mar Caribe and receive heat 365 days of the year. Going to the beach is not simply a summer’s thing for me; it’s a year-round reality. What can I say? Life is good for us in the Caribbean. But just as I realized how lucky I am to have been born in this part of the world this weekend, I also realized that creating memories is as important as remembering them. After all, we are what we live, we are what we experience.

A weekend spent with my ex-classmates awakens the spirit and invites you to live great adventures. Especially when taking a road trip to Isabela, a town in the northwest of Puerto Rico, and sleeping over at one of your friend’s house in Cidra. From town to town, my friends and I didn’t only have fun, but we set out to create new memories that will always stay with us. As a parallel effect, the trip also ignited the desire for adventures in me and my friends, for which I am very excited. Next weekend, we will be parting to Culebra (once again!) for my birthday celebration, where we will camp and enjoy life’s beautiful pleasures.

As a rendition to last weekend’s adventures, I leave you a video that will give you a bucket list of trips you should take while in your 20s. So, take a look and get going!

Also, a rendition to our road trip fun (below).

Fajardo & Vieques

Last week, I spent a few days with my dad’s family in Fajardo and Vieques. I had a lot of fun and felt super blessed to be on vacation with them after so much time. Enjoy this short video of the family road trip!

La isla nena

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Playa Caracas, Vieques
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“This is fucked up”, shirt worn by my uncle.
DSCN1032Ceiba centenaria, Vieques

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After traveling across Miami, Ft. Lauderdale and the Bahamas, I traded the international travelling for a local island: Vieques. Puerto Rico is formed by an island grouping that includes, but is not limited to, Vieques. With a intense history and beautiful beaches, Vieques was voted as the best island to vacation in the Caribbean by Travel & Leisure in 2012. So, it is no surprise that it has become one of my family’s favorite spots.
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DSCN1041Some of the women in my family.

DSCN1052Playa Navio, Vieques

DSCN1056Fragment of the poem “Boricua en la luna” by Juan Antonio Corretjer that I wrote on a bathroom wall.

DSCN1066Love my cousins Carol, Danitza and Tania.

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