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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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!
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:
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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:
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.
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!
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.
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.
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?
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.
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..
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
So day 4 of my travel adventure is not so much a public adventure so much as it’s a private adventure. I wanted to stop in Charlotte, North Carolina becaus eI have some friends and family in the city, and this was a great time to see them, if only for a few hours.
I had breakfast at Cracker Barrel which was…well, Cracker Barrel. Later, I met up with my cousin Bryan. We roamed around the downtown area for a little bit and checked out the Blues, Brews and BBQ’s festival.
While roaming around the BBQ festival, I came across something that I might have been interested in – a ghost tour!
Ultimately, I decided not to do the ghost tour since I would be alone and frankly, I was too lazy to make a reservation. I decided to catch up on some much needed rest because I have a 6AM flight tomorrow to… ARUBA!
Since Aruba is international, I’m not sure how available internet access is. Because of that, my next update might not be for a few days, but we’ll see. I see a lot of relaxing in my future!
My final day in Seattle was, to say the least, busy! Kendra and I woke up at our hotel which was stationed right next to Safco Field. So, naturally our first stop of the day was to take a tour of Safeco Field, the Mariners home stadium.
The tour was mediocre, and gave a lot of history of general hall of fame baseball players, but we got to go to the owners skybox, the press room, the locker room, the dugout and finally the field. That was a pretty neat experience!
Next stop was a location deemed by CNN one of the most germiest tourist attractions in the world, second only to the Blarney stone – the Seattle Gum Wall! The Gum Wall is a brick wall with undress of thousands of pieces of gum, with new ones added every day. It was quite a disgusting site indeed, but mesmerizing at the same time.
Next it was off to the Seattle Center, which is the home of the Space Needle, the Experience Music Project, the Pacific Science Center and other “touristy” things. Now keep in mind that most, if not all of this was built for the 1962 Worlds Fair, and much of it hasn’t been really renovated since then. One exception to this was the Experience Music Project, a music exhibit and interactive museum. (here is some more info on the project)
Later we went to the top of the Stratosphere Space Needle! What a view!
We finished the night at a popular local burger joint called Dick’s. It’s no In-N-Out, but it wasn’t bad! Finally the time came to say farewell to Seattle as I jumped on a red-eye flight from Seattle to Charlotte.
Tomorrow is stop number 2: Charlotte, North Carolina!
*NOTE: I just wanted to say that I took most of the photos in this blog. There are a few (such as the Boeing plant) that are stock photos that I wasn’t able to get. All stock photos (if need be) will be marked from here on out.
Hello everyone! Today was day 2 of AYCJ in Seattle and it didn’t disappoint. The weather has been off and on (a little rain never hurt anyone) but that hasn’t deterred me from checking things out.
The first place Kendra and I went to was Pike Place Market. It’s this little farmers market overlooking Elliot Bay in Seattle. The market opened in 1907 and is one of the oldest operating farmer’s market in the country. They have 3 stories of fresh produce, arts and collectibles and you can’t forget street performers. They even had a fish market where they THROW FISH!
After lunch (which was very mediocre) Kendra and I headed a few hours north to Fort Casey, a former World War 1 fort. The fort is a national part, but has these huge guns! The place never saw active combat during the war but it doesn’t mean they didn’t prepare for it. For more information about Fort Casey, click here.
Finally, we drove north another 25 miles to Deception Pass. Deception Pass was discovered in 1790 and was initially thought to be the Noerthwest Passage, but it wasn’t – hence it’s name Deception Pass. It’s a national park that includes a huge bridge suspended 185 feet above the rushing current below. Parts of the movie “The Ring” were shot there.
Tomorrow is the Seattle Space Needle, the Experience Music Project and the Science Fiction museum, followed by a flight to Charlotte, North Carolina. Onward!
So today was the first trip on my journey. I got to the airport around 6AM for a 7:30AM flight. I had never been to Long Beach airport before, but holy cow it was small. Security screening was in a tent outside, how bizarre. The flight boarded on time and during the announcements, the flight attendant asked if anyone on board was doing the “All You Can Jet” thing. The entire second half of the plane raised their hand, so it looks like I wasn’t alone. Not by a long shot.
On my flight I got to speak to Stephen from Let Dreams Fly. He has planned a 30-day initiative to help people’s dreams come true, a new city every day. What an awesome guy and an awesome idea – check it out at www.letdreamsfly.com.
And so I finally made it to Seattle.
Thank you to Kendra, a former co-worker of mine who picked me up and will be hanging out with me for a few days.
Our first stop was the Boeing Factory in Everett, WA. I have always loved aviation, so I figured this would be an interesting idea, and it certainly didn’t disappoint. Kendra and I took the 1.5 hour Boeing tour and we got to see all kinds of stuff. The building is the largest building in the world, spreading seven tenths of a mile long. The building is so large that they had to design a special air system because clouds would actually form on the inside and would occasionally rain. True story, our tour guide told us. Anyways, inside we got to see them actually assembling Boeing Jets, from the 747 to the 777 and the brand new, not yet flown the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. I was actually surprised how cool the tour was.
Afterwards, Kendra and I went to the Seattle Center, which was built for the 1964 World’s Fair and houses the Seattle Space Needle. I was actually quite surprised at how dilapidated and run down the entire area looked, but hey, it was built more then 45 years ago – but how about a little renovation? I decided not to go to the top of the Space Needle just yet, as I plan on doing that tomorrow along with a few other touristy type things, but more on that tomorrow.
I’m exhausted and it’s only Day 1! Time for a good nights sleep! Let’s hope I can keep this blog running every day!