Travel & Culture

Le Canada: Vancouver

May 2017

I'm fresh off of my third solo trip ever and still riding on my Vancouver high. The travel situation was long and drawn out, 10-14 hours to get there and the same to get back, but while I was there I enjoyed every minute.

I arrived in Vancouver on Thursday afternoon at around 1p local time, which is always a win when you're going on vacation. Vancouver is two whole hours behind my home city of San Antonio, so I was basically gifted that much more time for my first day of adventure. I got to my hotel, Skwachàys Lodge and settled in, changing almost immediately and heading right back out to explore. The hotel is just steps from the gates of Vancouver's China Town, so I set forth. Some of the reviews I read online said that the hotel was located in a really sketchy area and there were homeless people and drug addicts scattered about. I found this to be true for the most part, but it was nothing I hadn't seen before. If you've been to any major city in the United States, you've not only seen this kind of thing before-especially downtown, but you know that these people have no interest in harming you. Half of them are high out of their minds and the rest are just trying to score the next hit. Unless you walk by looking scared and lost, you can just continue to mind your business and move on.

Back to China Town. Lots of vendors, selling any and everything you can think of, from vegetables to fresh fish, each in an open-market style space. Signs were mostly in Chinese and most of the people walking around were speaking Chinese and on some sort of mission. I took a long loop around the shops to poke around and ultimately ended up across the street from a bar called Caffé Brixton, or "BRXTN" as the sign outside said. I headed straight for it. On the one hand, I was genuinely thirsty (for water) from a long morning of travel. On the other hand, it was officially time for an adult beverage.

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May 2016

As I sit in a window seat, 30,000 feet in the air, I'm reflecting on the people I saw and the conversations I had during my visit to Atlanta this weekend-the city I called home just three short years ago.

The purpose of my trip was Georgia State University's graduation ceremony. A friend whom I helped study for and pass the entrance exam graduated with not one, but two degrees and made certain I was there for this huge moment.

While in Atlanta, I also reconnected with friends I hadn't seen in years and had great conversations, just like old times.

The first conversation I had was with someone I myself went to Georgia State with, who moved to L.A. for a bit and is now back in Atlanta. In this catching-up-conversation, we talked about being in very different places in our lives now than we were before. Making decisions that will impact our future while enriching our present.

We talked about how we used to be, how we used to think and how we've grown in a variety of ways over the years. We shared our dreams, plans and aspirations of grandeur while briefly expressing our concerns for friends that have some of those same plans but haven't quite figured out how to execute them; ultimately realizing though that everyone-even we, who took longer than is considered "traditional" to obtain college degrees-must move through life at their own pace. There was much more to say, but time did not allow for such. I look forward to finishing, or rather-continuing-this conversation of life beyond complacency and dreams realized.

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Chicago: Windy AF

October 2015

Chicago. My solo trip to somewhere I've never been. I'm planning on doing this at least once a year. Within the first few hours of my arrival, I chatted (in Spanish) with an older Puerto Rican lady on the bus. Even though she was fussing at someone else in the process...there was something welcoming about it and I claimed it as the first win of my trip.

Also on my first day in town, I got terribly lost getting to my Airbnb. Yes, I rented an Airbnb for the first time on this trip-if you’re going to plan an experiences trip, go all the way with it.

So yes, completely lost-with my bags, of course. At first, everything seemed like it was going well. I was successfully following the CTA transit directions on an app I downloaded. Mistake. The app didn't tell me which way I should be going on said transit once my route switched from train to bus. Just what bus I should be on. Soooo....naturally I got on the right bus in the wrong direction and an hour or so after I'd told my Airbnb host that I'd be by in 40 minutes to drop my bags off...the bus I was on turned around. It hit the end of the route and just completely turned around. Umm...WAIT, WHAT?? So...I quickly got off at the second stop on this return route, then deleted the app. I wandered for a bit, saw a ramen bar I quickly put in my notes to come back and visit once I got my life together and decided to just call a cab-hailing one proved essentially impossible. They just ignore you. So I call the first one that popped up in my search, and the dispatcher was rude as hell. She proceeded to tell me that it would be at least 40 minutes before anyone arrived and that they couldn’t guarantee anyone would even show up and to just look out for a maroon car (???).

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Podcast: Solo trip life

All of my trips aren't solo trips, but once a year I pull the selfish card and take one trip by myself to somewhere I've never been. I get a plane ticket, reserve a room and just go. See why:

Brooklyn, San Jose, Vegas

December 2015

As you've already read, I made trips to Denver and Chicago-the latter being my first solo-trip ever. I plan to make that happen again next year, again to somewhere I've never been before. Maybe the 2016 edition will be an out of the country excursion. Only time will tell.

The next city that followed was the one I've always loved-New York City! Given, the original plans were to stay in Newark-to visit New York but stay in New Jersey because cheaper, obviously. But when traveling on NJ Transit as well as MTA came into play, that quickly changed. After one night in New Jersey, hotel arrangements were moved into the city. Room service not included, we ended up spending a few dollars less and stayed in Times Square. This trip was different for me because I'm in a good place. So technically, it was my first trip to New York-as a grown-up and armed with a clear, positive mindset. In other words, it was even better than any other trip to New York I've taken before. Even the one that involved the Puerto Rican Day parade-but that's mostly because it was 217 degrees in the city when I went to it.

There was a scandalous evening at The Raines Law Room, an authentic speakeasy, trailblazing in Brooklyn to return to our favorite eatery, Cafe Argentino and explore the Brooklyn Flea, slurping of Pho noodles in Chinatown, the High Line and rude baristas in Chelsea and full and thorough use of a 7-day MTA transit card in the short time we were there.

New York, you still have my heart, but I think I've stumbled upon another courter...and his name is international travel.

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New York love

February 2013

Ahhhh...the time has come. For me to share my amazing trip to New York with you. This trip is proof that you don't need too much to have an amazing time...but you can do all the things you want to do with the people that matter the most and create memories that will last fo-e-vah.

I'm going to do this chronologically, or at least do my best to...Enjoy the story and feeeeeel the love that I have for New York.

No seriously, I. LOVE. NEW YORK.

Ahhh...After a 4:30 am wake up call, a 6:30 am flight from San Antonio to Dallas and a 2 hr and 40 minute flight from Dallas to LaGuardia in New York (yea, the flight was so lengthy they played a movie)...after all of that, I finally arrived in New York. 

The first order of business was my Metrocard. I looked and looked for the machine...couldn't find it to save my life so I asked a red-coat...who directed me to turn around and go to the Hudson News stand. $29.00 later I was a Metrocard toting fool. My trip-mate Natyelli was all nice and prepared and shit with my travel instructions from Laguardia. First step: GET YA ASS ON THE Q33. That went smoothly...but then the J train and G mess...Let's just say my destination was Brooklyn and I ended up in Queens. But no worries. I made it. Eventually. And the trip officially began. We ran around town, getting lost some more, starving and being ready to either faint or curse someone out. Then we realized....oh shit...its 6pm and we haven't even gotten to the place we're staying. We are gross, haven't eaten and have our Marc Anthony concert in LESS THAN 2 HOURS. 

So we got our lives together, got to our destination, did an amazing wardrobe change all fresh and clean...our amazing host Christian ran and got us delicious Dominican food while we scrambled about and even called our cab for us- when we were actually ready and had eaten...he said they'd be there really quick and sure enough...he called... and BOOM they were there. Like magic. 

And just like that...we were off. A bumpy ride...but we didn't care. HELLO we were on our way to see MARC ANTHONY....IN BROOKLYN...Does life get better???


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