Tuesday, July 31, 2012


“Travel is like love, mostly because it’s a heightened state of awareness, in which we are mindful, receptive, undimmed by familiarity and ready to be transformed. That is why the best trips, like the best love affairs, never really end.” — Pico Iyer

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

I Beg You!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Adventure Invite

Daydreaming of cobblestone streets, open air cafes, and amazing colonial architecture.

Great news was delivered right to my inbox today. I have been researching Colombia for little while now. It appears that JetBlue will now offer service to Cartagena, Colombia. The beauty of this all is that you will get the cheapest rates and promotions when an airline adds a new destination, but act fast as this will not last long. Flights are said to be starting at $140 each way starting November 2, 2012. A new adventure in Colombia? Count me in!! :-)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Travel Zoo #traveltuesday Contest

Tuesdays might very well be my favorite day of the week. It is the best day for travel and tourism since most airlines and travel agencies send out their weekly promotion on this god sent day. Nowadays, we even have twitter to help us figure out what deals and promotions and are out with the trending topic #traveltuesday.

Last week, I saw that Travelzoo, a very well known coupon and deals global internet company, had a contest on twitter for #traveltuesday. They asked that followers replied with their favorite beach. I quickly answered it to be Maidstone beach in East Hampton. To my surprise, I was greeted with a direct message from Travelzoo in my inbox congratulating me on my "Twitter Winner Swag".

A week later, I received a fedex at my doorstep filled with promotional goodies, $25 worth of gift cards to be redeemed at Travelzoo.com and an actual handwritten note. Talk about personalization! Woohooo!! ;)

Great Quality Umbrella with Travelzoo Logo

Umbrella, Tote, USB, Pen, $25 Giftcard & Note

Handwritten Note from D. Brooks

Big THANK you to Travelzoo!! 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Bastille Day

French Toast. And of course, a toast to the French!! We owe it to them for; easy to make breakfast, the statue of Liberty, crepes and croissants. So today, we New Yorkers celebrate Bastille Day, the best way we know how.
There are a couple of events around the city commemorating the birth of the Republic and the beginning of the French revolution.

Street Fair
French Can Can Dancers
French Institute Alliance Francaise
Location: 60th Street Between Lexington Ave & Fifth Ave
Description: Everyone is invited to enjoy crepes, canales, French wines, listen to live music and shop the French themed market stalls. There will also be various contests. Prizes include French dinner, gift baskets and a trip to France.
Website: http://bastilledayny.com/

French Eatery
Brassiere Julien
Time: 7pm- Midnight
Location: 1422 Third Avenue (80th Street)
Description: Listen to Janelle Allbritton Trio with a "Paris Around the Corner" themed jazz while enjoying crepes, croque monsieur, omelettes, paired with  mimosas and bellini.
Website:  http://www.brasseriejulien.com/

Paris Opera Ballet
Paris Opera "Giselle"
Time: 3pm
Location: 20 Lincoln Center Plaza (63rd Street)
Description: This romantic ballet features stirring music, elegant choreography, and amazing performances. It was first performed in 1841.
Website: http://lc.lincolncenter.org/

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Colors to Celebrate the Night - NYC

An aesthetically pleasing display of flickering colored flames and sparks flying above the horizon with big burst of lights illuminating the dark sky. It is a dance of colors and loud noises, nothing less than a magical advertisement of a greater meaning. Today is the United States' independence day.

Empire State Building Symbolic Colors
Families gather at parks, beaches, parades, picnics and backyards to celebrate. The smell of the charcoal lighting up the grill in conjunction with the seasoned meats, burgers and hot dogs do not go unnoticed. We have been preparing for this day and set out our red, white and blue for such occasion. This is the way we celebrate and honor the anniversary of the birth of our nation.We were boldly breaking away from the British after a 20 year struggle with a detailed Declaration of Independence. The Declaration of Independence was finalized on July 4, 1776.

As you look up at the sky tonight admiring the traditional light show from afar, don't forget the true meaning behind the spectacle.

Biggest celebration: Macy's 4th of July Spectacular
                              75,000lbs of fireworks in half hour
                               2 million people attend the annual event

Tonight, I celebrate you America, but my heart remains with Dominican Republic.

Macy's Firework Display on the Hudson

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Havaianas on Tamarindo Beach- Off the beaten path

The objective was to keep moving. As I brainstormed about my next trip, I couldn't help but wonder where on the map would be an intriguing culture to indulge in. Off the beaten path to satisfy a different appetite.

I craved surfing, warm beaches, friendly people and most of all a new adventure. I found myself looking up the pacific coast of Costa Rica.

Pura Vida. JetBlue was now offering direct flights to Liberia, Costa Rica. Eager for all the former cravings, I booked without hesitations. I convinced one of my best girlfriends Cydney to come with me. We stayed at a surf camp/hostel in Tamarindo, which is in Guanacaste region of Costa Rica. The place was called Blue Trailz. It was located right across the way from the beach, along side restaurants, near a convenience store and plenty of surf shops. Renting the surf boards would cost about $10-$12 per day.

Tamarindo was the equivalent of what the LES is to New York. It's inhabited by free spirited young people and fun atmosphere. Everyday we were greeted with a high tide as well as an exhibitionist sun that was far from disappointing. Oh, and let's not forget the great warm-hearted people, who made it their mission to help us in any way possible. They yell "pura vida" while honking their car horn in greeting while they driving by.

Buying "Gallo Pinto" off the back of her truck
Gallo Pinto Traditional Breakfast
The food was exquisite with burst of fresh flavors encompassing all natural herbs and spices. Their traditional dish "gallo pinto" was rice and black beans and was also offered as breakfast. Going against everything I knew, I ate out the back of a lady's white rusty station wagon for $2,000 colones ($4 american dollars) and it was by far the best meal I had while I was there.

We ventured off the beaten path with a tour company called "Get Lost in Costa Rica" which we stumbled upon while laying out on Tamarindo beach. Don, our tour guide scheduled a day packed of relaxing activities. We began the day by stoping at a local bakery for some Tico pastries and coffee at 8am. The sun was at its highest peak and my belly was full, I was a happy camper. We continued on and stopped at a supermarket for beers and liquor. He took us to a resort which seemed to be desolate. As we approached the pool side, I glance over n see a bar with in walking distance. There were no kids splashing around, no lines near the bar or bathroom but best of all, we were the only ones at the pool. I couldn't be any happier. He served us drinks and played some reggae music. He came over ever so often to make sure we were enjoying ourselves, refill our drinks and take pictures of us. The only thought that came to my mind was "I could get used to this".

Cyd & I in CR waterfall
Don continued on with the private tour. He took us to an all you can eat buffet before walking over to the steam room, vapor room, followed by the hot springs. These outdoor hot springs were 100% nature made thermal  waters due to the proximity of the volcanoes. They are so relaxing and ten times better than a Jacuzzi. After 3 hours, we drove half an hour to our next destination. Don asked us to bring our shoes and to be careful. We hiked down what seemed to be a huge mountain filled with boulder rocks and tall exotic trees to find a well kept secret. It was a waterfall. I was freaked out at first because there were really big fish in the fresh cold water. But the fact that it was 90 degrees and we had just hiked for the last 20 minutes made it easy to accept that I would benefit more from this then the fish. A great way to conclude the tour.

New friends
As if that wasn't eventful enough for one day, we headed back to the surf camp to figure out what our new friends were up to that evening. They all had interesting experiences to share and came from different places. People who like me had the travel bug and were on their way elsewhere. Friends who I still keep in contact with. After all, we had partied at Aqua discotheque, walked what seemed miles to an amazing breakfast spot, surfed together, played cards and explored the country together.

7am high tide -Tamarindo Beach-Surf Buddies

Every day started off as an adventure as we met different people who we instantly connected with. I practiced my surfing most mornings at 7am (high tide). See, to me surfing was symbolic of so many things. It was about balance, being at the right place and time to embrace the opportunity and riding the wave out without fearing the fall or predicting the end. I watched the sun rise and the sun sets while surfing and found that the days seemed shorter but far more meaningful while in a different country. The only worry seemed to be where to eat next and I was ok with that.
 This was only the first half of the trip. Stay tuned for Costa Rica on the lap of luxury.

Recommendations for Off the beaten path:
1. Blue Trailz Surf Camp- best value lodging
2. Witch's Rock- great place for drinks
3. Khahiki- amazing place for breakfast
4. Blue Trailz- cheap surf board rentals
5. Get Lost in Costa Rica Tours- best valued tours