Puerto Rican Paradise

Went on the BEST last minute trip ever. But what do I expect when traveling with my friend Justin, who’s life motto seems to be changing every day. Took a private plane from the mainland of Puerto Rico to this cute island called Vieques. I was happy to know it resembled St. Thomas (where my mom grew up). We checked in at The Bravo Beach Hotel and immediately went right out for a walk around town in search of food.

The island was relatively small and easy to get around. Took these over sized construction worker vans to and from places, where they charged $15 flat or sometimes $10 if more passengers were picked up along the way. There seemed to be one main street for attraction, called Esperanza and especially this time of year as it was Easter Weekend and there was to be a live reenactment of Jesus being crucified.

We rented bikes first and went toward a dusty road that led to a private beach. It was quiet and secluded as jumped into the warm Caribbean waters. Read books and snorkeled a little bit, although I hate to admit I was deathly afraid of the spiked black sea anemones.

Later that night we took kayaks across the Puerto Mosquito Bioluminescent Bay, where hundreds of thousands of tiny green creatures dancing across your hand in the water.

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The phytoplankton were so beautiful I wanted to scoop some and take it with me, but I knew they would never last, and why try to uproot it from their home anyway? The waves lapped across our kayaks as we made our way back to the lagoon-like shore, just 50 meters out. That night we ate fresh seafood and danced in town.

The next day we went on an even longer bike ride in search of this great snorkel spot near Punta Arenas. We trekked across horse-filled pastures, explored caves in an old molasses mill, and even found a ginormous ancient tree. We hadn’t packed food because we figured we would grab food at a road stand like we did the day prior. However this was not the case and we had to make a pit stop off track north at the airport to feed our appetite.

The water felt rewarding and great – Justin even saw a manta ray! I was able to snorkel by myself for a while but soon feared the unknown – AKA getting chopped into pieces in a hammer head feeding. We biked back exhausted and relaxed before the night Easter actives.

The following day, our last day (SAD), we concluded the trip with a “mild” horseback on the beach. I was worried that the horses were under fed and weak, however they surprised us in their gallop, causing Justin to even loose his sunglasses!

I felt silly because he left his sunglasses and shrugged it off, while I left my hat and cardigan and was extremely frustrated with myself as it seemed out of character to be so forgetful. Justin was a trouper and patiently waited for me to get my shit together. Then we said goodbye to the beautiful island and headed back to the dirty grime of NYC.

 

 

The island of Crete

After my personal Greek tragedy in Nea Moudania, and recuperating with some gypsy musicians in Athens, I am ready for some slow island life. Always wanted to do Santorini, but part of me wants to save that to share with someone special. So I guess there is Crete!

Taking the Anek Ferry Line from Athens to Chania, Crete. Tickets are reasonable, 38€ for a one-way economy deck

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Landed and in awe by how quant the port city is. It is clearly built around tourism and you couldn’t help but feel uplifted in the cobble stone streets along the extremely clean waterfront. There is live music around every corner and the smell of lemon juice stings your nostrils.

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Grabbed lunch and wifi in a gelato shop in the city center. From there I found a cute hostel, called Akti Hotel Chania, that was located near a private beach and just 4km from town!

It is always scary checking into a new place every 3-5 days. The friends I got so close to part ways and I am left doing the same small talk all over again. To prevent myself from going complete hermit crab mode I always take the shared rooms in hopes of meeting new faces.

Go to drop off my 10kg bag and scout the room. To my delight I see hair straighteners and clothes scattered across the room, which was a sign I was bunking up with females rather than males. The girls just came back from the beach, three Canadians on University break. We introduce ourselves and talk about where we are from, where we are going; they seemed intrigued enough to invite me to grab lunch with them. Wahoo, the scary feeling is wearing off as I am grateful they didn’t just write me off as a solo backpacker. After lunch we play drinking games and soak up the sun, slowly getting ready for a night out on the town!

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I will never forget the carefree vibe of long-term travel; always excited about everything and more than ready to explore other people. 

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There is only one point during this trip that I should be embarrassed that I am living up to the American stereotype by dancing drunk in their Greek fountains. Truth be told we wouldn’t have done it if the locals minded, and they laughed in amusement along with us.

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After two nights of crazy wild fun in town, my new Canadian friends headed out to Yacht Week.  On my own again, I was determined to use my hammock bought in Asia on the hill top near our private beach. Spent the day setting up and bumped into these English blokes celebrating their graduation on the beach. They all felt like brothers as we quickly became buddies and grabbed food/explored the city.

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Broke into a nearby hotel pool, as well as this tiny gift shop on the street. Tried on various beach hats and were startled by the faint sound of a siren. Perhaps the Greek cops were after us?! So we ran. Ran toward the beach where I suggested heading to my hill top hammock.  We made it half way, hiding in bushes when cars on the street rolled by. The dark consumed us and we decided it was better to go back to the hostel and rescue the net in the morning daylight.

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Thank you Crete for being so beautiful. The island was just what I needed; great food and welcoming company to help me trust people again. I have a friend named Mylena in Italy that I’m itching to go visit. Friends since High School and she was one of the few to remain my pen pal while two years in New Zealand. So needless to say, I’m buying a one-way ticket to Italy!