Let’s Travel to Spain!

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The Spanish National Flag and its Naval Jack flag; Photo by Tony Polanco

Spain is a European country with rich culture, profound history, and many sites to see. It is also a backpacker’s fantasy with cities such as Madrid and Barcelona on everyones’ travel bucket list (If it’s not on your list, it should be.) Spain’s official language is Spanish but Spaniards are taught the languages of Basque, Galician, Catlan, and Aranese. The history behind these languages are very interesting, For example, Catalan is a mixture of French and Spanish as it is commonly spoken in Barcelona. Barcelona’s is located not too far from the French Border.

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Photo of Hills in Barcelona; Photo by Tony Polanco

Other interesting cities include Valladolid, Segovia, and Salamanca. Spain’s architecture is beyond amazing with examples shown in museums, cathedrals, aqueducts, and monuments.

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The entrance of the National Museum of Prado in Madrid

It is believed that the origin of the Spanish language originated in the region of Castillo Y Leon and therefore Spanish is referred to Castillian or Castellano in Spanish to track its linguistic roots. I visited Spain while in Study Abroad and it was amazing. I attended the Universitas Castellae located in Valladolid. Everyday I would visit the center of the city known as Plaza Mayor. It is here that Christopher Columbus was buried on May 20, 1506.

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The Statue of Christopher Columbus located in the Plaza Mayor of Valladolid.

It was very easy getting around Spain as they have access to buses, trains, and subways. The subway system in both Barcelona and Madrid were modern and competes with that of New York City. I must admit, I did get lost a few times but it was worth the adventure! So what’s stopping you from taking that trip to Spain?! You won’t regret it!

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An underground subway in Barcelona; Photo by Tony Polanco

Check out my travel video to see Spain’s beauty in all its glory. So what’s stopping you from taking that trip to Spain?! You won’t regret it!

Genoa, Italy and the leaning tower of Pisa

After a crazy up hill drive with very narrow roadways, we made it to Genoa, Italy.

Although we were in the outskirts of the city, you can still feel the atmosphere. This part of Italy was a lot cooler in temperature.

The view was incredible and totally worth the drive. I have never seen such natural beauty. It made me feel like I was living in a painting.

In the photo above, you can see parts of the city.

I really enjoyed this part of Italy. I felt breathless from all the views. Don’t recommend coming here on a tour bus though. Since the roads are very narrow. If you are traveling in the mountains, bring a smaller car for safety reasons of course.

Oh yeah!!! By the way, the tower does lean in Pisa!

Next time we will go to Florence.

*All photos were taken by Hugo Morel.

Welcome to Jamrock!

How can it be Caribbean week without a post about Jamaica?

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(Photo taken by Hugo morel)

It all started with my friend telling me that he was going to celebrate his birthday in Jamaica. Of course, how can anybody say no to being invited to Jamaica?

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(Photo taken by Hugo morel)

The flight to Jamaica was so boring. It’s hard to let time pass when you are so excited. It was a four to five hour flight from NYC; however, it felt like 24 hours. I was sitting in my seat like a kid waiting to ask, “Are we there yet?”

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(Photo taken by Hugo morel)

Once I arrived in Jamaica, I was surprised by all the smiles on the locals’ faces.  Be careful when finding a taxi driver. Luckily, the taxis driver I got was honest. He told me the tips and inside information on the taxi system in Kingston.  If you see a red license plate, that car has been registered by the government to be a taxi driver. Knowing this will help you from getting into unnecessary trouble.

(Photos taken by Hugo Morel)

I was truly blown away from the white sands and crystal blue waters. Jamaica was extremely hot. Taking a quick dip in the ocean was really the only way to refresh. There were no complaints here though.

Next time, we will visit the Bob Marley museum!

Barbados on a Budget

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(Photo Courtesy of Tony Polanco)

  Ever dreamed of that getaway trip to the care-free Island of the Caribbean? Of course you have! Now more than ever that dream trip is attainable and more affordable than you would think. I recently took a trip to St. Lawrence Gap, Barbados and you can too! One of the inexpensive times to go to the Caribbean is during the month of October. Countries such as Barbados are not affected by recent hurricanes and receive less tourism compared to top Caribbean destinations.  Once you arrive at the award winning airport, the first thing you will see is Rihanna (I’m not complaining). I advise you to have your country’s currency converted into Bajan dollars at the Grantley Adams International Airport once arriving because using foreign currency will be more costly.

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(Arrival at Grantley Adams International Airport; Photo Courtesy of Tony Polanco)

            My family and I checked into the 3-star hotel called Dover Beach Hotel for the cost of $566.01 for the duration of 7 days (That is just $80.85 a day!).The hotel includes a bar, a pool, a gift-shop, and a restaurant serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The room also includes a kitchen with a stove, microwave, a refrigerator,and a balcony overlooking the beach. They even give you your first alcoholic drink for free as complimentary (Who is going to turn down free drinks?).

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(Balcony view from hotel room; Photo Courtesy of Tony Polanco)

This hotel is a hidden-gem for various reasons. First, the hotel is located on Dover Beach so the beach is literally steps away form your room. Secondly, the hotel is located in the St. Lawrence Gap aka The Gap. The Gap is a 1.3 km stretch in the Christ Church parish that has bars, restaurants, gift-shops, hotels, beaches, and even carnival events. My favorite place was Pronto Bar because of the cheap prices on both food and drinks. I recommend the fishcakes and the pina coladas. 860

(St. Lawrence Gap; Photo Courtesy of Tony Polanco)

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(Photo Courtesy of Tony Polanco)

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(Photo Courtesy of Tony Polanco)

Thirdly, the area has very good public transportation with buses, taxi-vans, shuttles, and private taxis.  I took the bus for only 2 Bajan dollars (cheap is always good!). We took a 2 dollar mini-van to Oistins to the Supermarket. A tip for keeping cost low on food is to buy from the supermarket and prepare your own food. Oistins also has a fish market with fresh fish from the sea. Buying fish from this market was a lot cheaper than fine dining at the local restaurants. At this same market, every Friday and Saturday, there is a huge fish fry with people drinking, dancing and partying. It was so much fun that I had to stay stay away from the rum punch the next day. 235

(Photo Courtesy of Tony Polanco)

  The party never stops in Barbados. While adventuring on the Gap, we ran into a small carnival. There was high-energy, dancing, free rum- punch (you will encounter this a lot in Barbados!), and loving Bajans. Make that dream trip to the Caribbean as it is more affordable than you may think!

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(Carnival in St. Lawrence Gap; Photo Courtesy of Tony Polanco)

Panama: Roots, Culture and Arts

Panama is a well-known tourist destination but there is a hidden Panama not often viewed by the common tourist. Just like any other country, Panama has both wealthy and impoverished area. For the unconventional traveler, these areas can be dangerous but they also hold so much culture and arts.

San Miguelito is a district in Panama City, Panama that has produced athletes and music artists. On October 11, 2017, the national Panama football team defeated Costa Rica with the final score of 2 versus 1. This matched was the official game qualifying Panama for the World Cup for the first time ever. The Panamanian president Juan Carlos Varela commemorated the date by making it a national holiday. Football player Luis Tejada was one of these players. He is a native of San Miguelito and proof that not everything from the ghetto is bad.

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(Photo courtesy of FIFA)

Another area is Colon. This is the central of Afro-Panamanians. Portobelo, Colon was once a slave-port and is now a UNESCO world heritage site. Every year on October 21st, Panamanians take a 53-mile pilgrimage with the Negro Cristo (Black Christ) statue in order bring blessings and miracles to their lives.

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   (Photo Courtesy of Playa Community)

  Yet, another area is Rio Abajo. This is the birth place of Reggae star El General. This Grammy-award artist started what is now called Reggaeton. Before there was Reggaeton in other countries such as Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic, El General started the tropical sounds of reggae beats, drum patterns, and the Jamaican  influence  to Latin America.

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(Photo Courtesy of Tony Polanco)

In the interior of Panama, a small jungle like area called “Chilibre” borders both Colon and Panama City. I have family here including my father and this is my 2nd home ever since he was deported back in 2002. Every time I’m in Chilibre it is a humbling experience. This area has influenced me so much that I made a music video to expose the world to the other Panama not mentioned in travel guides. Panama has more than what meets the eyes.

Be the first to see the world premiere:

 

Panamá: El Paraiso Escondido

Located in the center of the Americas, the Republic of Panama is a hidden paradise with more than just the Panama Canal. Welcome to a paradise of rich & diverse culture, unforgettable cuisine, and a adventure awaiting.

Panama’s people are diverse and comprise of different ethnicities, cultures, and languages. It’s official language is Spanish but due to migration movements, global influences, and tourism, there is more than just a Spanish influence. For example, the building of the Panama Canal sparked large migrations of people from Jamaica, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago. Panama also has a hundred year presence of Chinese that is central to Panamanian culture. The indigenous community of Panama is a rich and large one itself. The Kuna are one of Panama’s indigenous groups. In cities like Colón, you also see Panama’s African presence that dates back to colonialism.

The food in Panama is a seafood lover’s treasure. Panama is an intriguing country which translates to Fish in an indigenous language. My favorite fish is Corvina. There is nothing like fresh salt water fish. I visited Mi Pueblo in the Amador Causeway (take me back!). There is no shortage of seafood in Panama.

An adventure awaits in Panama!