Monthly Archives: May 2012

Curaçao: Happy Island

What’s there to say about this tiny little island? I know Aruba is considered to be the “Happy Island”, but I really think that Curaçao can give it a run for its money.

When you get to this island you can’t help to be in good spirits. Aside from the obvious sunshine and beautiful ocean, the people are unbelievably welcoming. Everyone has a smile on their face and they all seem truly happy with small-island living. The people of Curaçao are friendly, willing to help and are just genuinely nice. When was the last time you met genuinely nice people?

Although I recommend spending a limited time here, I definitely do think it’s worth the visit. Here’s what to do if you visit Willemstad:

Handelskade – It’s the harbor front street that is lined with brightly painted 18th century buildings. They are homes to cafes, art galleries and small boutiques. These houses are a true reflection of this small island culture.

Queen Emma Pontoon Bridge – aka The Swinging Old Lady. This bridge separates the two halves of the city and is one of the busiest ports. As you walk on this port, you can see the multiple colorful homes lined up. It just sets the stage for this wonderful island.

Queen Jillian Bridge – If you’re afraid of heights you may want to bow out of this. I don’t know too much about infrastructure, but this bridge offers a bird’s eye view to the town parts of Punda and Otrobanda. The bridge is narrow, so don’t get out for a photo….it’s just plain old dangerous!

Riffort Village – A waterfront entertainment and shopping area. You can’t ask for much more on a small island!

Hato Caves – if you seek adventure, this is where to go. Visit the old coral reefs and enjoy this walking tour. Beware of bats, they just love to hang out with regular folk.

Dolphin Academy – Unfortunately we didn’t have time to visit, but this Academy offers the opportunity to hang out with dolphins in a natural setting. Why not give it a try?

Like many islands, you are limited with what you can do here. If I can leave you with one reason to visit Curaçao, it’s the people. The energy and the happiness. It really is incredible.

Happy travels!

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Madrid: My Dream

Spain was my dream. It was the one place on the map that I really wanted to see. I tried for years to get there, but other reasons would come up as to why I couldn’t. A few years ago I gave myself an ultimatum; I was going to be Spain or not going anywhere at all – and so the planning started.

I spent a few wonderful days in Madrid and it was magical. The vibe in Madrid is different from anywhere else I’ve been. It’s busy, but laid back. It’s modern, yet historical. Madrid is a city that made me feel like home from the moment I landed. Like any large city, there are a million things to do in Madrid – some more obvious than others. If you ever get a chance to spend some time in this awesome city, make sure to add these to your itinerary:

Hotel Atlantico – You can’t ask for a better hotel, for an affordable price, in an amazing location. Everything is within walking distance, the rooms are spacious and the rooftop patio allows you to take in views of the cityscape. I recommend enjoying the rooftop in the evening while enjoying a glass of wine and the complimentary chips. And just next door serves the best cappuccino in town!

Hop-on-Hop-off Bus – I’m a fan of these buses. It’s a great way to discover a city for twenty euros. The stops on Madrid’s bus include; Royal Palace, Paseo del Prado, Puerta de Alcalá. You can jump on and off at your leisure and buses come by every 15-20 minutes. It’s great!

Gran Via – Shop, shop, shop! Eat…..shop, shop, shop!

El Prado – Madrid’s top art museum.  It really is something to appreciate both from the outside and on the inside.

Parque del Retiro – This park amplifies the seriousness of “siesta” in the Spanish culture. In the middle of the day, you will see people walking through the park, gathered together on blankets just unwinding from their morning stresses, or underneath a tree and quietly reading a book. No wonder its coined as the “Lazy Park”.

Royal Palace – You can’t help but to gawk at Madrid’s most beautiful building. It’s the largest palace in Western Europe, so take it in. It’s huge.

Puerta del Sol – Just steps away from the Hotel Atlantico, Puerta del Sol is the central square in Madrid. Here you can find lots of shops, cafés, bistros and street vendors. What’s better than Puerta del Sol during the day? Puerta del Sol at night of course!

Cathedral – Religious or not, Madrid’s Cathedral is a structure of beauty. It is the largest and most important church in the city and definitely worth the visit.

Tapas – The reason why I think the Spanish people are so thin! Rather than eating a lot of something, they eat a little bit of everything! The majority of restaurants throughout Spain serve tapas lunch and dinner. I embraced it, you should too!

Paella – Another food item to add to your must try list while in Madrid or while travelling throughout Spain. However, what I can say is the best paella I had was in Madrid! My suggestion, find a restaurant that has an aquarium with their catch of the day and order their seafood paella.

Churros con chocolate – There is obviously a food theme here, as you can tell! But that’s part of Madrid’s charm. Try their fried sugared dough and warm melted chocolate…simply delicious!

Would I go back to Madrid? Without a doubt. It’s a great atmosphere, with amazing food, great shopping, and freakishly beautiful people. What’s not to love?

Until next time…..

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