Welcome to Miami

Like the Will Smith’s song, we arrived in Miami. City of the sun, warm weather, Cuban culture and beaches. After sitting on a plane for three hours, we were so excited to explore this city.

IMG_20140521_180121

Skyscraper in Miami, Hugo Morel

I took untied airlines to get to Miami. It was inexpensive and I was able to choose my seat. There was a bag fee of 25 dollars for the first bag. Obliviously, I got the window seat!

IMG_20140521_120223

Miami from a bird’s eye-view, Hugo Morel

Once in Miami, you can either take a taxi or the public transportation. I took a taxi at first, that way I can talk to a local. The taxi cost 40 dollars to get to my hostel and it was worth the money. I was unaware that the memorial day weekend was a major event in Miami. People from all over the country come to Miami to party at this time. We were in for a crazy night.

IMG_20140523_200521

Downtown Miami, Hugo Morel

There are many high end hotels in Miami. The one I stayed at was not even a hotel, it was a hostel. Hostels are a lot cheaper. I spent 8 dollars a night, in a central location. The hostel was on Collins ave. Staying at a hostel, is a great way to meet friends who have the same interest as you.

IMG_20140522_092434

Miami Beach, Hugo Morel

After getting settled in my hostel, I had some time before my friends arrived. I started to explore the city. I ended up going to South Miami, a somewhat affluent area. I took the bus and a train to get there. The bus fare for one way was $2.25 and the train, for one way, was the same price. To avoid paying in cash, you can go to a local pharmacy and they should sell metro cards. Keep in mind, that Miami is not a 24 hour city like New York. Most buses stop running after 11 pm.  I ended up walking 30 blocks to get a bus that ran after 11 pm. Moral of the story, bring a portable charger.

IMG_20140522_165801

South Miami mall, Hugo Morel

After a hectic night of trying to get back to my hostel, I woke up at noon and started to explore a little of Miami Beach. I wanted to see Miami Beach before the tourists came. From what the taxi driver told me, there would be bumper to bumper traffic. The picture below was taken while I was walking down Collins ave.

IMG_20140522_165418

South Beach before tourist came, Hugo Morel

Thank you for taking your time to read this post! Drop a like and a follow. Next week we will explore the Everglades. Much Love!! Stay safe!!

 

In the Caribbean of Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic Part 2

I arrived in the Historical Colonial Zone of Santo Domingo. It’s late in the night as I cruise through the lit up Caribbean. The Colonial Zone is very historical and is listed as one of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Sites. It is mentioned as having the first cathedral, hospital and university in the Americas after Christopher Columbus’ arrival in 1492.

cathedral

Courtesy of Tony Polanco

 

The oldest city in the Americas, Las Damas Street, is still located in the Colonial Zone this day.

calledamas

Courtesy of Tony Polanco

The Colonial Zone is documented in European and African history. The zone was one of the ports of entry for the first enslaved Africans arriving in the Americas.

port in Santodomingo

Courtesy of Tony Polanco

 

The Africans even built the Gate de la Misericondia (Gate of Mercy) to protect the city from pirates. The founding father of the Dominican Republic, Juan Pablo Duarte, has statues and even streets named after him. I arrive at El Beaterio hotel on Calle Duarte which is located right next to Parque Duarte (the park named after Juan Pablo Duarte). The hotel was a hidden paradise with amazing service and very beautiful scenery.

El beaterio

Courtesy of Tony Polanco

As I wake up from my overnight flight, I am just thrilled and overexcited to get ready to explore the Island. I wake to the Haitian front desk agents and request breakfast. I am greeted by a very sincere and warm-hearted Dominican housekeeper and cook. She greets me in Dominican Spanish dialect. She reminds me of my abuela(grandma) and warns me to avoid the tourists. I thank her and compliment the meal she prepared with love. I dash out and began to explore the wonderful island. Next week we will discuss the rich culture in the Colonial Zone and everyday living for the locals. Don’t be afraid to drop a like or comment on the post. Peace!

 

Sleeping on the beach, seeing the pope

After exploring the city, the time came for us to crash on the beach. Seriously, we slept on the beach like bums. It was a very interesting experience.  This event led up to the real reason as to why we were in Rio, to see Pope Francis.

SDC10713

published by Hugo Morel

It was a nice 2013 winter day in Rio. The sun came and went at times. When the sun came out, it was extremely hot for the winter time. The type of hot that would give you a headache. Like the picture above, many of us found something to shield our heads from the sun.

SDC10701

skyscrapers in Rio by Hugo Morel

Once lunch time came, we had to stay in line for about 2 hours to get our meal and our meal cards. The meal cards would give us two free meals per day. The pictures below were taken during us waiting in line.

Once night time came, we found our spots on the beach to sleep. We decided to explore a little around the city. Going with the flow of the crowd, we got dragged into a march from people all over the world. It was very interesting meeting and talking to them.

After a rough night of trying to go to sleep, the pope came. The crowd was extremely cheerful. With 64.6% of Brazil being the pope’s follower (not on twitter), the beaches of Copacabana were never this filled. It was amazing to be apart of history.

After seeing the pope, the crew packed up and headed towards the airport. Unfortunately, we missed our flight. We had to negotiate a deal with the airlines. Long story short, we had to drive from Rio to Buenos Aires. Trust me, it was a butt-numbing experience.

IMG_0002

the stink-eye, Hugo Morel

Thanks for taking your time to read this post. Don’t be like the guy in the picture above, drop a like and a follow. Much Love! Next week we go to Miami!

Riding Rio’s Public Transportation

Rio’s metro is the second most used in Brazil. With 1.1 million riders daily and 401.5 million yearly, the metro is on a global city level.

SDC10685

published by Hugo Morel

Waiting for the train at the station, makes you feel like you are in Brooklyn, NY at the L train Bedford ave stop. One way metro fare is R$3.50. Remember that the American dollar is about double of Brazil’s currency. The pictures below were taken as we waiting for our train. It was more modern than we expected. Being Americans, we tend to not think so highly about other countries’ subways.

The picture below is one of Rio’s subway trains on the outside.

SDC10681

published by Hugo Morel

Taking Rio’s subway was very similar to New York’s. The train we took was like  New York’s A train. You got your crazies and your trains’ panhandlers. The major difference is that the whole train is connected. In New York, the trains are separated by carts with doors in between each cart. While in Rio, there are individual carts but they are connected with  no door dividing them. The train on the inside, looks as if you were inside a giant snake.

Walking in the subway stations, we noticed a lot of shops. Very similar to New York’s Penn station. The pictures below were taken in front of a video game store in the subway station.

Rio’s Public Bus system is on a world class level. With 831 bus routes, you can travel anywhere in the city at cheap rate. The bus fare is R$2.40 one way. In American dollars, the fare is a bout $1.20. Make sure to know this when taking the bus, obese people have priority seating. Make sure not to look like a jerk.

Rio also has an express bus called BRT. The BRT has it’s own private lane on the highway (USA, we should take notes!). Going on one of these buses, can get you across the city in no time. The picture below is a BRT station.

SDC10566

published by Hugo Morel

Thank you for taking your time to read this post. Drop a like and a follow. Much Love! Next week, we sleep on the beach and see pope Francis!

 

 

 

The sun is out, Time to explore

After experiencing a day of nothing but rain, the sun finally got over it’s shyness. We got to see Rio, the way it is in the movies. The true beauty of this city, was hiding from the gloomy weather.

SDC10646

published by Hugo Morel

Rio de Janeiro is a huge city with many wonderful neighborhoods. The global image of Rio usually resides in the neighborhood of Copacabana. Copacabana is located in the South Zone. From what the locals told me, this beautiful area was once only for the rich. With time, the beaches became open to the public. As seen in the photos below, the scenery is very alluring.

 

SDC10694.JPG

Modern art in Rio taken by Hugo Morel

The photos below, are more views of the Atlantic Ocean. The ocean really matches Brazil’s flag, Green and Blue.

The photos below were taken at top of Corcovado. Corcovado, meaning hunchback in Portuguese, is a mountain in the city of Rio. The mountain is known worldwide due to it’s iconic statue.

 

On top of Corcovado, sits the world famous statue, Christ the Redeemer. This iconic symbol  is the staple of most Rio de Janiero postcards. To get to the statue, you can take a local bus tour or walk it. I recommend taking a local bus tour. It’s easier and safer. The roads going up the mountain are not very  pedestrian- friendly. Once at the top, you must pay a fee to see the statue. We got in for free because we pretended to be priests. It’s hard to believe they actually believed us! I recommend to skip the gift shop. It’s too expensive and most what you find there can be bought at a lower price elsewhere.

SDC10638

published by Hugo Morel

Thank you so much for taking your time to read this post. Drop a like and a follow. Much love!! Next week we explore Rio’s metro!

Another rainy day in Rio

Rio de Janiero, Brazil’s second city. The second largest city in Brazil and the sixth largest in the Americas. Home to some of the best beaches in the world. We were not too excited about it raining in this tropical paradise.

SDC10553

published by Hugo morel

Even with the rain, we still took in the beauty of this city. Like the guy in the picture above, we kept it rolling. No rain will stop us from enjoying our time in the world famous beaches.

SDC10554

published by Hugo morel

Just look how empty these beaches are! It’s amazing and a rare sight for it to be a ghost town.

SDC10555

published by Hugo morel

Even with the rain, the ocean was beautiful. The Atlantic Ocean is seen in the picture below. It looks as if a major storm is near. Luckily, it was just a normal winter rain.

More views of the beautiful scenery during the winter rain. It is breathtaking.  Even with the gloomy weather, the views are out of this world.

At times, we felt like the statue down below, stuck and wet.

SDC10562

published by Hugo Morel

Look at the photo below. It makes you feel as if you are in some horror movie. No editing went into this picture.

SDC10585

published by Hugo Morel

Thank you for taking your time to read this post. Drop a like and a follow! Much Love! Next week the rain clears and we will be exploring Rio in the sun. Happy New Years and stay safe!