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Adam's World, a Blog

Welcome to Adam's World, a Blog. These are my personal ramblings, and I make no guarantee to their cohesiveness. Enjoy reading my ramblings and if the mood strikes you feel free to leave a comment or two.

All You Can Jet

Days 29-30 – Final Stop: Niagara Falls & Canada

So I’ve gotten quite a few requests for me to “finish” my blog. Well, it will never be finished since I hope to update it every now and then, but I do have one more stop on my All You Can Jet trip that I haven’t talked about: Canada.

Canada wasn’t a place I really knew much about, except for the fact that we make fun of them for saying “eh?” and “aboot”. JetBlue doesn’t fly into Canada per say, but they do flu to Buffalo, New York – a mere 30 minute drive to Niagara Falls, and Canada. The first thing I did when I arrived in Buffalo was to goto Anchor Bar, the birthplace of the buffalo wing.

Anchor Bar in Buffalo, NY. Birthplace of Buffalo Wings!

The place was packed! The wait was over 2 hours just for a table, so I decided to get some buffalo wings to go, which was a bad decision. Cold chicken wings are always a bad decision, because they always taste awful. This was no exception. Not to worry though, because I would eventually come back to get lunch right before my outbound flight.

The first night I spent in Niagara Falls, Canada. Thanks to an overbooking error from a popular hotel website, I was bumped from a crappy, mediocre motel to an upscale hotel with a room overlooking Niagara Falls! Man, the falls sure are pretty at night.

Niagara Falls at night, Canadian side.

The next day, I headed out to Canada’s largest city – Toronto. It was about 2 hours away, but I had heard some amazing things about Toronto that I had to check it out. I didn’t have a plan of places to see, but just to absorb the culture of the city. When I got there I decided to check out a little hole in the wall restaurant called New York Subway. I thought it was funny because it was an Indian/Mexican fusion restaurant, both of which have nothing to do with New York.

New York Subway right next to a regular Subway. How funny.

After lunch, I decided to check out a place I has heard about called Honest Ed’s. It’s supposedly the most popular and well-known store in Quebec, Canada so I wanted to see what it really was like.

Honest Ed's!

Inside the place was….interesting. It has an atmosphere like a garage sale with the merchandice of a low end department store, like Walmart.

Honest Ed's - Inside!

There was some pretty crazy things for sale. Anyone want an Elvis bust? They had ’em. Different colors too!

Elvis statuette's from Honest Ed's

Maybe you really, really like Barak Obama and just have to have him on your tote bag. The only problem is which one to buy.

Barak Obama Tote Bags, such a deal!

Ok, so after all that excitement I decided to head to Toronto’s signature attraction, the CN Tower.

The CN Tower

If the photo looks familiar, it’s because I took a near-similar one when the trip started in Seattle. Check that out here. Unlike the Seattle Space Needle, the CN tower wanted $27 to go to the top! No thank you. and I know what you’re saying: “But Adam, that Canadian money!” and you’d be right, but the exchange rate was currently so close to the US dollar that they just did an even 1/1 ratio. Too expensive for my blood.

One of the interesting things about Canada that I noticed is that they love their national flag. When I say love, I mean really really love their flag. You see it everywhere: on bumper stickers, at car lots, on restaurant menu’s. Hell, I even saw a cardboard box with shipping tap of the Canadian flag:

Canadian Flag tape!

The next morning, I woke up early because – well, it was my last day of my trip. I decided to make the best of it by going on the Maid of the Mist boat ride under Niagara Falls. Unfortunately, it was 38 degrees out and I did not want to get wet. So I did the second best thing, head to the Skylon tower that overlooks the falls!

Skylon Tower overlooking Niagara Falls

At least the Skylon tower was only $10 as opposed to the CN Tower. Highway robbery, I tell ya. It’s said that the Canadian side of the falls has a much better view then the American side. I found that to be absolutely true, as most of the water falls from the American side, leaving the awesome views to the Canadian side.

Niagara Falls: The Horseshoe Falls (with the Maid of the Mist in the middle!)

Niagara Falls: View of the American walkway

I have several more photos of Niagara Falls that I’ll be posting at a later date, along with the rest of my photo collection.

It was almost time to leave, but before I did I had to go back and try fresh buffalo wings from Anchor Bar in Buffalo. The result: it was ok. I mean, don’t get me wrong, they were good but I’ve had buffalo wings just as good at many other places. But hey, at least I’ve tried them. I then headed to the airport to fly back to LA.

And so like that, the 30 days of travel was over. 24 separate flights totaling over 31,000 miles visiting 5 different countries. It was a life-changing  journey that I’ll never forget. I’ve met amazing people, seen amazing places and had amazing experiences.

JetBlue, thank you.

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Days 27-28 – Ft. Myers, Florida

So the trip is coming to an end very soon, but before it does I have a few more stops to make. The second to last stop if Ft. Myers, Florida to visit my father.

This is going to be a short entry because, well, I just hung out with my dad the whole time. No beach visits or night life, just some awesome father-son time.

There was one thing….

Skyline Chili!

Every time I visit my father, I always have to go to Skyline Chili. It’s the best chili I’ve ever had, and goes great on a little hot dog or spaghetti! Its a Cincinnati, Ohio based chili company. It’s sweet, made with cinnamon and chocolate, but still slightly spicy. Theres only 4 location in Florida, while the rest are only in Ohio.

And just like that, my time was dad was over and it was off to another destination. Apologies for the short entry! My next and final stop is Niagara Falls!

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Days 25-26 – Washington DC, Rain and All

So after my disastrous trip to Portland, Maine the next stop on my trip was to Washington DC. I got slightly derailed thanks to weather and canceled flights, but that just meant I had to cram what I wanted to do in a shorter amount of time.

I arrived at the hotel a little after noon and had some problems checking in. Since I didn’t check in the night before (flight was canceled) the hotel just deleted my reservation. A little while on the phone and it was fixed….eventually. I threw my stuff in the room and immediately took the Subway to the Smithsonian. Now, I’d never been to the Smithsonian but I was shocked at how big it was! I didn’t have a lot of time since everything closed at 5:30, so I spent most…all of my time at the National Air and Space Museum.

Air and Space Museum at the Smithsonian

I occupied my time there quite a bit with their little movies and hands-on exhibits. I read a lot of about the airline industry, how it flourished in the 60’s and 70’s with premium service, and how that’s declined into a hated industry today. It was actually pretty interesting stuff. I wish I had much more time to hang out and see other buildings in the Smithsonian, like this one just called “The Castle”:

The Castle as the Smithsonian in Washington DC

It was a pretty dreary day with all the rain and wind from the storm that was still hanging around the east coast. The Smithsonian closed at 5:30, but I had booked an evening tour that started at 6:30 that promised to see many Washington DC attractions at night, so back to the hotel to get ready for my next tour!

The bus picked me up right on time at 6:30 and I joined a bunch of other (older) people for an after dark look at some of the most popular tourist attractions around DC. First was the Capital building:

The Capital Building

Next was the white house:

The White House

The Washington Monument:

The Washington Monument

I have a bunch more photos from Washington DC but you’re going to have to wait until I make my major photo post in a few weeks. I promise, I have hundreds from this trip thus far!

The next morning, I had breakfast with an old friend of high school, Jessica! It was great seeing her and catching up. One of the main reasons I did this trip was because it gave me a chance to see and catchup with friends who I haven’t had the chance to see in a while.

After breakfast it was off to my next destination: Ft. Myers, Florida! Why Ft. Myers? I guess you’ll have to read my next update!

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Day 24 – Delayed in Portland, Maine

Costa Rica was great, but it was now time for a little change of pace: a lobster lunch in Portland, Maine. Yes, I said lunch because I setup my flights to arrive at 11AM and leave at 3:30PM, just enough time for a nice lobster lunch. Mother nature, however, had a different plan for me.

While I was in Costa Rica, a small tropical storm has formed just south of Florida. It had made its way up the east coast and eventually to Portland, Maine, that’s the backstory.

When I landed in Maine, I got a phone call from JetBlue telling me my afternoon flight was cancelled.

Cancelled!

They said that New York was expecting bad weather and it was a precaution. The earliest they could get me out was at 3:30PM the next day. This was unacceptable to me because I was set to go to Washington DC by the end of the night and I had already paid for my hotel room, so I started looking for a flight from another airline. I thought to myself, “all you need to go is get to New York, and you can make your connecting flight to DC” so I bought a flight from US Air that was scheduled to leave around the same time as my cancelled flight. All I can do was hope.

With my entire evening resting in the hands of fate, I took a taxi to the wharf district of Portland to get some fresh steamed lobster. I had done a lot of research on where to go, and I decided on a local’s hang out place called The Porthole.

Porthole Restaurant in Portland, Maine

I sat down and ordered their 1.5 pound steamer.

Delicious Lobster

I finished every last bit of it, but I was still hungry. The server asked if I wanted anything else, so I said “Hell, bring me another lobster!” Hey, you only live once.

After lunch I took a taxi back to the airport where I saw my new US Air flight was delayed 15 minutes. Ok, I can deal with that. Well, over the next several hours the US Air flight kept getting progressively more delayed until it was ultimately cancelled. *sigh* My grand master plan of trying to make it to Washing DC by nightfall had failed.

Luckily the US Air flight was canceled due to a mechanical, which means the airline is forced to put me up in a hotel and give me food vouchers. What did I buy with the food vouchers?

These were compliments of US Air!

Two more lobsters! That brings my grand total of lobsters to 4 for the day. Four lobsters is not too shabby if I do say so myself.

I left at 6:45AM the next morning to continue my journey. Sure I had a little bit of a hiccup in my schedule, but I realized that I hadn’t had a problem up until now, so I considered myself lucky. Next up, Washington DC!

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Days 21-23 – Costa Rica or Jurassic Park?

This was the trip I was waiting for. I spent hours planning this entire month, but I put most of my focus specifically on Costa Rica. I was heading there with 3 other people (whom I had yet to meet) and planned everything to a tee.

I left JFK at the crack of dawn for a layover in Orlando. There, I met my travel partners for the next few days- Wayne, his co-worker MaryJane and her husband Mike who were all awesome people. Seriously, everyone I have met on this trip has been incredible.

Our plane landed in Costa Rica (which has an great airport, by the way) and we immediately took a smaller regional prop plane to the pacific town of Manual Antonio.

Sansa Regional Boarding Pass, it's so cute!

Sansa Air Prop Plane, I called it the "Indiana Jones Plane"

The Manual Antonio airport was tiny. As a matter of fact, it was just a concrete runway with nothing else. Seriously. We got a rental car in town and drove to our hotel for our first night: the 727 Fuselage Hotel Room. This was an actual Boeing 727 airplane that was gutted, renovated and turned into a full hotel room complete with 2 bedrooms, 2 full bathrooms, a kitchen, living room and 2 porches, one on either side of the wing.

727 Hotel Room. I feel like I'm in LOST!

Oh my GOD! It's a friggan' PLANE!

For more photos of this awesome hotel, check out their official webpage here.

For dinner the 4 of us decided to head to a restaurant around the corner that was, ironically, also an airplane. The food there was pretty good, but I’ve had much better on this trip. After dinner, we decided to just hang out at the hotel room all night since we were exhausted and we had to wake up early the next morning.

Plane Restaurant down the street from the Plane Hotel

We woke up around 6AM the next morning to pack and head out on a lengthy drive, but before we did we decided to take a small hike since we didn’t get a chance the night before. During the hike, we saw all types of monkeys just swinging through the trees and looking for food. It was pretty incredible to see monkeys hanging out everywhere. One even walked down a tree about 4 feet from us, looked at us, and then continued walking without a second thought. It was pretty amazing to see.

Monkey in the trees!

We woke up early because we had a 5 hour drive ahead of us in order to make it in time to our next stop, a hike up to the Arenal volcano, the largest active volcano in the world. Thankfully we had a GPS or else I would’ve been completely lost driving in a foreign country. The roads were winding for most of the trip since much of it was mountainside driving. We had a small mishap where the GPS led us right into a river (literally) but we figured it out.

About 5 hours later we arrived at Arenal National Park area. We got there earlier then we thought so we checked into our lodging for the second night, a hostel called the Arenal Backpackers Resort. It was nice, but definitely not a hotel as I was sharing a room with 6 other people.

Arenal Backpackers Resort, our hostel for night 2

About an hour later, a guide picked us up for our twilight hike and tour of the Arenal volcano. I was so excited to see real live lava! Our hike included a small walk through the Costa Rican rainforest, where we saw some Howler monkeys. About an hour into the hike, we made it to a plateau that had an amazing view of the volcano.

The Arenal Volcano!

As the sun was setting, our tour guide told us stories and facts about the volcano. He said that Arenal is a dry volcano, which means the magma isn’t bright red like other volcano’s and is much less noticeable. That disappointed me a little bit, but in all honesty I could sit and look at that volcano for hours. Arenal is one of 133 volcano’s in Costa Rica, but only 5 of them are still active. The tour guide apologized to everyone for not seeing lava, but brought out some alcoholic drinks and told us that we could “feel the lava” if we drank it, which we did. How awesome! I didn’t expect to drink on our hike.

After the hike, our guide took us to Baldi Hot Springs, which is a natural hot springs heated by the volcano. Think of it as a bunch of hot tubs, all shapes and sizes. It actually reminded me of a water park, complete with water slides and waterfalls, except the water is super hot. Apparently the water was a cold stream until 1968 when the volcano erupted and it’s been naturally hot ever since.

Baldo Hot Springs *Stock Photo*

We then took a taxi back to the hostel where I met a few more jetters. Apparently this was the place to stay if you wanted to see the volcano!

The Arenal Volcano as seen from our hostel

The next morning, we got up around 5:30AM because we had to drive another 3 hours to San Jose, Costa Rica in order to catch our flight at noon.

I have to say, Costa Rica is an amazing place, and I will return there some day. This was the one place I wanted to stay longer. The culture and the scenery are so unique and beautiful. I honestly felt like I was in Jurassic Park at times with the green rolling hills. I’m just glad we didn’t run into a T-Rex.

Next stop, Portland, Main for some lobster lunch!

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Days 19-20 – Connecticut with Family

So after spending some…interesting time in Dominican Republic (to say the least) it was time to spend a few days with my family. I flew into JFK airport after my awful Dominican Republic exit.

My grandparents picked me up from the crowded international terminal at JFK. Customs was a long, yet painless process. At least the USA cares about me. I think.

Not much to really say about this leg of my trip, as it’s mostly a family visit. I ate some awesome food (grandma makes the best pasta ANYWHERE) and got to play in the river behind my uncle’s house. Here’s a few photos:

Jet Skiing at the uncle's house!

My gran and pop. The coolest gran and pop EVER.

My uncle Tony, cousin Scott, me and aunt Laura.

I’m glad this 30 days of travel has allowed me to travel and visit family. I saw my cousin a few weeks ago in Charlotte, family in Connecticut and then my father next week.

Next up: Costa Rica! Out of the entire trip, I’m most excited about that destination. Updates and photos in a few days!

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Days 15-18 – Dominican Republic: Drug Lord?

So I have an awesome story to tell about me leaving Puerta Plata, Dominican Republic, but before I do I wanted to continue my daily blog through my journey.

Day 15: I arrived in Puerta Plata, Dominican Republic with my travel buddies – Mark, whom I shared a room with in Aruba, and Kim, who I had just met. We landed at the airport and were immediately forced to pay $10 for a “Tourist Card”. No one could tell my why I was forced to buy this card, but immigration guards (with guns!) forced me to hand over $10. Even now, I still have no idea why I had to pay.

Leaving the airport, I found myself in a sea of locals all yelling and screaming at me. I stuck out like a sore thumb, and I have to say, I haven’t been this uncomfortable in a long time. People were eventually coming up to me where I had push them away. I found Mark and Kim and the 3 of us headed to the taxi stand to drive to our resort.

When we arrived at the resort, it was a much much different feeling. Someone picked up our bags, and another person gave up welcome drinks. This was what I was talking about! We checked in and had a personal tour of the property by a manager.

Let me explain. We stayed at the Viva Wyndham Tangerine resort in Cabarate. I had read some mixed reviews online, but what could you expect for $58/night all food and drinks included. What we got far exceeded my expectations. The food was pretty good, the drinks weren’t that bad the the rooms were very nice, if only a little old-fashioned. I couldn’t believe how much of an awesome deal we got, and we all had separate rooms!

We spend much of the first afternoon just handing out at the resort, sitting by the pool and taking part in the activities. Hey, I even played Bingo!

Bingo! Not yet. I love the beans, by the way.

For dinner, we made reservations at the Italian restaurant on property. It was absolutely delicious, and I would love to eat there again. Best part, no extra charge!

Later that night, the entertainment staff (which was comprised of a bunch of 20-something Dominicans) put on their rendition of the play Greese. It was a little odd, but the dancing wasn’t half bad.

Greece Lightning!

A nice thunderstorm closed out the evening.

Day 16: This was going to be a lazy day. I had no plans and just wanted to relax. I did, however, want to walk down to the city area of Cabarete to get a feel for more of the locals. Man, I had read that the Dominican Republic was a third world nation, but I have never seen one before.

Downtown Cabarate, Dominican Republic

More of Downtown Cabarete, Dominican Republic

One of the things that’s super popular around this side of the island was Kite Surfing. Our resort gives lessons, but it was rather pricey and took 6+ hours to fully master. Still, kite surfing was easily the most popular thing on the beach.

Kite Surfing! Every speck is a new kite.

After watching them for what seemed like hours, I decided to bargain with the instructor. 2 hours of kite surfing for much cheaper then he was asking – bingo. So yes, now I can say I know how to kite surf. Unfortunately, I don’t have a pic of me learning since I didn’t have my camera along with me.

I do, however, have a picture of a monkey on my head! That should suffice.

There's a monkey on my head!

Day 17: This was supposed to be a travel day, but ended up being the most dramatic to date. This may get a little long, but it’s a fun story – I promise.

So the 3 of us arrived at the airport about 2 and a half hours before our flight. During check in, the lady asked if I wanted an exit row window seat for no additional charge. (JetBlue charges for those seats) Um, YES PLEASE! All was great until I finished going through security.

A security agent pointed to me and immediately several non-uniformed guards came up to me. One took my passport while the other told me to sit down. The guard scrutinized my passport for what seemed like an hour and then made a phone call (on his iPhone nonetheless). I asked the second guard what was going on, but she didn’t speak English and just made a hand motion for me to be quiet.

A few minutes later, several other guards showed up and told me to follow them. We ended up in a room with no windows – 4 Spanish Dominican Police Officers and me. At this point I start getting a little impatient, asking what was going on. They had opened up my luggage, taken everything out and was searching every pocket and inch of my clothing.  No one in the room spoke English, however one of the officers pointed to her stomach and said “drugs”. Wait a second, do they think I’m smuggling drugs out of the country?

A few more minutes go by and another officer (assume it’s a superior office) walked in and asked me to follow him. Luckily he spoke English! We walked outside to a waiting cop car, where he told me that he was taking me to the local hospital to get X-Rayed. I told him that I wasn’t going anywhere, and I know my rights as a traveling citizen. I told him I wasn’t doing anything until I spoke with the American Consulate. I would listen to them, as they are my liaison to the Dominican Republic. The officer detested saying there was nothing the Consulate could do, but I said I would like to hear that from them. I kept saying the words “American Consulate” over and over until they realized I was serious.

The main officer grabbed my passport and flipped through it, asking why I was in his country. I told him vacation. He asked why I was only here for 2 days on vacation. I explained to him the vacation I was on (spending a few days at every location). After some more interrogation, he gave me my passport and let me go. Thank god we got to the airport early enough, as I had a few minutes to spare before the flight boarded.

I’m not quite sure what to make of all of this, but it worked itself out in the end and made for a pretty funny story. Needless to say, I probably won’t be visiting the Dominican Republic anytime soon.

Now I have a few days with family in Connecticut, then it’s off to Costa Rica!

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Days 13-14 – Downtime in Orlando

I just want to firstly apologize in advance of this blog entry. It will probably be rather short and frankly, boring – but this is a log of my travels so I figured why not.

I arrived from Puerto Rico and immediately went to my hotel. Thanks to Priceline, I was able to get a sweet deal on the 4-star Shingle Creek resort. After checking in, I headed to Universal Studios for…of all things, work. I say this blog entry will be boring because work is what I did the entire time I was in Orlando so no exciting stories or pictures to be had.

Except this: I arrived at the Orlando airport to fly to NYC for my next leg. I had a very sub-par day at work, and was just having a generally not great day in general when I purchased a nice prosciutto and mozzarella sub. Let me tell you, I was more excited then anything in the world to eat that sub. I mean c’mon, prosciutto AND mozzarella?! Who wouldn’t be excited! But before I got to devour my heavenly dinner, I had to use the restroom. I positioned the sub on the toilet paper dispenser perfectly. Then, mid pee, the sub topples over and right into the toilet. *sigh* Oh well. And as my mother pointed out to me, it’s going to be hard for anyone reading this blog to have any sympathy for me. Ok, fair enough.

But while it may seem like everything is awesome all the time, there are those few occasions where things aren’t quite ideal. Take tonight for example. I got into JFK airport at 10:30pm just so I can make my next flight at 7:00am. This is where I’m sleeping tonight:

Airport Sleepover Part 1

So while tonight might not be the best of sleeping arrangements, the next few days should more then make up for it. At 7AM I’m off to Puerta Plata, Dominican Republic for a few days of all-inclusive awesomeness. I’ll return in a few days with more stories and photos – I promise! And don’t worry, I did end up getting another sub for dinner.

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Days 10-12 – Puerto Rico on My Mind

Wait, what happened to Day 9? That was a day spent in LA (less then 24 hours actually) to catch up on some freelance work, laundry and sleep – not necessarily in that order. That night I took a red eye flight from Burbank to New York and the next morning a flight from New York to San Juan, Puerto Rico!

Day 10: On my flight to San Juan was Phil, a buddy from Aruba. When we landed another jetted picked us up and we drove to the El San Juan Hotel, just 5 mins from the airport. I had a little trouble checking in thanks to the concierge who was apparently angry I got such a great rate and wanted to charge me more then double in order to check in – seriously. A few words with the manager and that was all taken care of. The hotel was a little old but absolutely gorgeous!

The pool at El San Juan

After check in, the 3 of us went to a local restaurant to check out some local flare. The major Puerto Rican dish is called Mofongo, and is amazing! It’s a pile of fried squashed plantains, topped with some kind of meat (chicken, seafood, or beef) and soaked with a red sauce. I highly recommend.

Mofongo!!

Back at the hotel, a small group was forming at the lobby bar of a bunch of “jetters”. (From here on out, everyone doing this JetBlue pass will be known as a “jetter”. Trust me, it’s easier that way.) I also met my new roommate for Puerto Rico, Katelyn. All in all, there were about 15 people, with more showing up every few minutes. We all decided as a group to check out the local bar scene and took a small caravan of cars to a bar district called “la placita”. Wow. The streets were crowded with hundreds upon hundreds of people. The only thing I could compare it to was Mardi Gras in New Orleans – minus the beads. I think.

Can you play "Spot the Adam" ?

After an hour or two of bar hopping, we went back to the El San Juan hotel to a crowded lobby. Apparently a small stage was set up and the Gipsy Kings were playing in the lobby. Yes, the real Gipsy Kings – the super popular Spanish band. How random is that?

The Gipsy Kings in our hotel lobby (there are like 10 more member off stage left)

Since I had taken a red eye that morning, I was exhausted and headed to bed. Plus, Katelyn and I booked a few tours for the next day and had to get up early.

Day 11: This was a day of tours. Katelyn and I booked a hang-gliding adventure tour that afternoon, but we got a phone call that due to Hurricane Igor which was 500 miles north of Puerto Rico at the time, the upper level winds were unfavorable for a hang-gliding adventure. I was super bummed as I was really looking forward to it. But, we booked a few other things in it’s place, so I wasn’t too upset. Our first adventure was a half day tour of the Puerto Rican rainforest!

This was a long bus ride to the top of one of the mountains. There was a small lecture and a hike through the forest. We saw some amazing views, awesome waterfalls and neat stories.

"There's gold in them thar hills!"

Like any good tour, this ended at a gift shop at the bottom of the mountain. There was a small restaurant where we got lunch, plus they would chop open a coconut, top it off with rum and stick a straw in it. I swear, rum is like water in Puerto Rico..

Coconut with rum!

Speaking of rum, our next tour took us to the Bacardi factory in Old San Juan. This is the largest rum distillery in the world, so I was excited to see how rum was made. Unfortunately, the tour was not very good. It was a very Disney-like tour of short videos, lectures and replicas of their original distillery in Cuba. Not once did we ever see a working part of the factory, which was a little upsetting. Good thing it was free! The free drinks at the end eased the pain a little bit.

Bacardi Distillery

Our next stop was the San Cristóbal fort. I would love to tell you everything about it, like what it was used for and when it was built, but frankly I forgot all of that. Must have been the Bacardi. Anyways, here are some pictures.

Fort Something (can you tell how little I cared?)

Our last tour was one I was really forward to, Bioluminescent Bay. A few people had told me this was the one thing I had to do while in Puerto Rico, so a bunch of us piled in a car and drive an hour and a half to the launch point. I have never kayaked before, so that alone was a neat experience it, but doing it at night made it even cooler. I’ll try to explain it as best as I can. There is this bay in the eastern part of the island that produces this bio luminescent algae. It glows a faint blue color when disturbed. According to our tour guide, it does that as sort of a defense mechanism. I wasn’t able to get any photos of this because A) I was in water without a waterproof camera and B) It wont show up with a flash. I am providing a stock photo of the bay, but I have to tell you, it is SO MUCH COOLER IN PERSON!

Bioluminescence Bay *stock photo*

Day 12: Got an awesome night’s rest and headed to the airport. Next stop, Orlando, Florida! The next few days won’t be as interesting as I’m actually working for the 2 days I’m there. After Orlando, it’s time for Puerta Plata, Dominican Republic!

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Days 5-8 – Aruba This, Aruba That

Day 5: After spending a day in Charlotte, NC it was time to kick this trip up a notch – on to Aruba in the Dutch West Indies! Saturday was more or less a travel day, leaving North Carolina at 6am and arriving in Aruba at 5pm.

Aruba!

Getting off the airplane, one thing was apparent – the island was HOT and HUMID! Before my Aruba flight I met up with a few people during my layover in New York. One person, Mark, was going to be my roommate in Aruba. The other, Phil, was someone I met in LA a few days prior to the trip. When we landed, the 3 of us split a rental car. It ended up being the same price as a taxi so we figured why not.

I was staying at a Marriott in the tourist town of Palm Beach, Aruba. Thank you Priceline for the super cheap hotel room. My initial impression was…well, not good. Across from the hotel was a slew of American chain restaurants: Subway, Wendy’s, Sbarro, Duncan Donuts, Pizza Hut, TGI Fridays, Tony Roma’s and a slew of others. There were even high end places like Behihana and Texas de Brazil! I flew across the caribbean for some local fare, not food from home. In addition to that, Aruba has their own currency, AFL (Aruba Florens) yet almost no store or restaurant would accept it, they only accepted the US dollar. In case you care, 1 USD = 1.75 AFL. The more you know.

While walking around the hotel, someone recognized me from the JetBlue Facebook page, which I thought was pretty neat. We all decided to head to dinner, as a group. We found this local place right up the road called MoomBas, which had awesome cheap local food. We would eventually spend every night there.

MoomBa's Aruba! Our dinner spot!

Day 6: Got up early and headed to the beach. The water was insanely blue and incredibly warm. There were some storms in the distance, and a waterspout appeared right off the coast! If you know anything about me, then you’ll know how excited I was!

Waterspout next to the Hotel in Aruba

Later in the day, I played Bingo by the pool, $1 a card, reminded me of the ranch. I bought 5 cards cause I’m just that much of a Bingo fiend and wouldn’t you know it, on the final game I won! Since there were only like 4 people playing, I only win $10. Such is life.

Dinner was actually a meetup put together buy another JetBlue pass holder. A few more people arrived during the day, so we all met up for drinks at a local bar called Buster’s followed by dinner at a place called Cafe Rembrandt. I have to say, meeting all these people were really the highlight of my trip. No one knew each other before Aruba and it was so awesome hearing everyones stories of how this came about. I have a feeling this element is what I will like the most about the entire month.

Day 7: Got up much later today partly due to an amazing thunderstorm that kept my awake until 4am. More lightning and thunder then I’ve seen in years. Anywho, when I got up, Mark, Philip and I decided to explore the island. It’s only 22 miles by 7 miles so we couldn’t go too far, but we ended up on the complete opposite of where we were staying, called Baby Beach.

When we first got to Baby Beach, a few donkeys were blocking the road. We got out to take some pictures and they came right up to us, but got bored when they found out we had no food.

Aruba Donkeys! Don't they look like aliens?

We then headed over to the “cactus forrest”. It was a little difficult to navigate the dirt roads with a little 2 wheel drive car, but we managed.

Baby Beach in Aruba

On the way back to the hotel we went through a town called St. Nicholas. This was a severely rundown town that was seemingly deserted in the middle of a Monday, something I didn’t expect. We were also told after the fact that prostitution was legal in that town and that its often referred to as Aruba’s Red Light District. None of us stuck around enough to see for ourselves.

We got back to the hotel to get ready for another JetBlue dinner at MoomBas. We lost some people, but gained a few more, almost a dozen in all for dinner. This was where I started understanding the human connections this pass has created. Here were people of all ages from all walks of life all sharing an experience together, and who probably would have never crossed paths otherwise. I could talk about this all day if you let me, but I’ll leave it at that. We sat and talked for a few hours before an incoming thunderstorm ended the night early.

Day 8: Today was a travel day, but before we headed to the airport I wanted to check out a lighthouse that I could see from my hotel room.

Aruba Lighthouse

After checking it out, it was just a lighthouse, nothing special. It looked cool, but that’s it. On the way to the lighthouse, however I saw a shipwreck right off shore. I have no idea of the back story behind this ship, but it was pretty neat nonetheless.

Aruba Shipwreck

Finally it was time to fly out. When the plane arrived to New York from the Aruba, the pilot announced “Welcome back to reality” as everyone sighed. So true. One last flight today to Los Angeles will make 10 total hours in the sky for the day. Tomorrow is a recoup day, or should I say “laundry day”.

Next stop: San Juan, Puerto Rico! I’m excited to check out Bioluminescence Bay. Who knows, maybe some paragliding is in my future as well.

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