Bella Vida by Letty

photography

My Favorite Instagram Travel Hashtags

My Favorite Instagram Travel Hashtags

Instagram Travel Hashtags

I am officially hooked on Instagam. I love going through the images and being inspired by so many great photographers. It’s the best of the best that truly spark my creativity. I admire their works and instantly want to amp up my game and skills. It’s the best platform for sharing travel photography

There are countless travel hashtags to follow however these are specifically curated because of the high quality of photography as well as subject. I’m looking particularly for great storytelling by observing how the photographer is telling the story of the location they are visiting.

If you enjoy high quality beautiful images I highly recommend exploring the following hashtags. There are my favorite travel related hashtags.

 

1.     #instatravel  10,206,343 posts

Instagram Travel Hashtags

 

2.    #travelgram  8,803,808 posts

Instagram Travel Hashtags

3.     #scenery     5,808,646 posts

Instagram Travel Hashtags

4.     #travelinggram   3,533,355 posts

Instagram Travel Hashtags

5.     #instapassport     2,609,812 posts

Instagram Travel Hashtags

6.     #neverstopexploring          2,280,555 posts

Instagram Travel Hashtags

7.     #travelphotography      1,680,355 posts

Instagram Travel Hashtags

8.     #wonderful_places     1,648,269 posts

Instagram Travel Hashtags

9.     #cityscapes     1,496,460 posts

Instagram Travel Hashtags

1o.     #lifeofadventure      1,361,906 posts

Instagram Travel Hashtags

11.      #letsgosomewhere       1,285,669 posts

Instagram Travel Hashtags

 

 

How about you? What are your favorite Instagram hashtags?

You can find me on Instragram by clicking here.

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Things to do in Boston

Things to do in Boston

Things to do in Boston

Boston is Massachusetts’ capital and largest city. It is one of the oldest cities in the US and it’s rich political history has greatly impacted the way the US government runs today. Whatever type of travel experience you are looking for there is something on this list of things to do in Boston for you. The city is vibrant with all kinds of activities whether you’re a sports fan, enjoy the outdoors, are seeking culture or are a huge history buff.

What to Do

The Freedom Trail

Take a Freedom Trail Tour. The Freedom Trail is a 2.5-mile-long path through downtown Boston that passes by 16 locations significant to the history of the United States. Starting at the visitor’s center of the beautiful Boston Common the tour led by costumed guides. It’s a great way to learn about and see some of Boston’s most important sites.

Insider tip

Wear comfortable shoes.  It’s a very long walk.

Granary Burying Ground

One of the more interesting stops on the Freedom Trail was the Granary Burying Ground. Founded in 1660 it is the city of Boston’s third-oldest cemetery. Located on Tremont Street, it is the final resting place for many notable Revolutionary War era patriots, including three signers of the Declaration of Independence; Samuel Adams, John Hancock, and Robert Treat Paine.  Also, prominently displayed in the Burying Ground is an obelisk erected in 1827 to the parents and relatives of Benjamin Franklin who was born in Boston and is buried in Philadelphia.

Quincy Market

Explore South Market and Quincy Square near Faneuil Hall. Quincy Market is a historic market complex near Faneuil Hall in downtown Boston, Massachusetts. It was constructed in 1824 and named in honor of Mayor Josiah Quincy, who organized its construction without any tax or debt. There are many places to eat and shops for purchasing souvenirs.

Insider tip

This is a touristy area always buzzing with people.  Enjoy the street performers which appear at any time of day.

boston

Take the subway over to the Skywalk Observatory.  The Skywalk Observatory is located on the 50th floor of the Prudential Tower. It is the second tallest skyscraper in the City of Boston. Enjoy amazing views of the Boston’s famous landmarks like the Charles River, Fenway Park, Boston Harbor and much more.

Click here for more photos.

Boston Ducktour

Boston Duck Tours is a very fun way to explore the city of Boston. You a great overview of the city, see many unique neighborhoods and splash into the Charles River for a breathtaking view of the Boston and Cambridge skylines.  It was a blast.

New England Aquarium

Visit the New England Aquarium and check out the four-story Caribbean coral reef teeming with more than 1,000 animals.

Greenway Carousel

Ride the unusual Greenway carousel.

Where to Stay

There are plenty of places to stay in the city however, during my visit there were several conventions going on so most places were booked. I ended up staying at the Hilton Garden Inn in Waltham. Hilton is a reliable established brand with comfortable, clean rooms. It is located in a quiet area, which is just a short drive into Boston.

What to Eat

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Having some clam chowder at Finz at Pickering Wharf in Salem Ma #food #foodie #visitma #travel #instagood #bellavidabyletty

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Boston is the place to eat great seafood. It is home to some of the world’s most amazing lobster rolls, clam chowder and fish especially cod dishes.  Go try some.

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#boston lobster rolls #food #foodie #foodlove #instagood #instalove #bellavidabyletty #visitma

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Have you been to Boston?

What were some of your favorite things to do?

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How to Start a Travel Inspiration Journal

How to Create a Travel Inspiration Journal

How to Start a Travel Inspiration Journal

An inspiration journal is central place where you can jot down ideas and other things that will inspire you to achieve your goals. It can help you get started, unstuck, or maybe lead you into a completely different direction but mainly motivates you into action.

You can create an entire journal of strictly inspiration or like me have a combination of places I’ve enjoyed and would love to revisit along with bucket lists of things I’d like to do and places I’d like to see.

When we travel the experience is usually over far too quickly. By journaling we get to explore how we felt about the places we went to and the activities we participated in. We get to know ourselves better by clarifying our thoughts.

Journals also serve as records. We can record our progress or expound on the places we’ve been. Sometimes it’s helpful to look back so we can realize all that we’ve accomplished.

 

These books will get your creativity started.
An Illustrated Journey: Inspiration From the Private Art Journals of Traveling Artists, Illustrators and Designers

travel journal

When we travel, we don’t want to follow the same itinerary as everyone who’s come before us. We want to feel like explorers, adventurers in undiscovered territory. And that’s exactly what sketching can bring to the travel experience.

The Art of Urban Sketching: Drawing On Location Around The World

travel sketching

The book, Art of Urban Sketching by Gariel Campanario, takes you around the world by showing you the stylings of urban sketchers spanning every continent and into 30 countries. Filled with more than 500 full colored illustrations drawn on location by artists within their own cities, you will hear their stories while learning expert tips and ideas for tools to use for sketching, as well as how to participate through social networking and online activity.

An Illustrated Life: Drawing Inspiration from the Private Sketchbooks of Artists, Illustrators and Designers

travel journal

An artist’s journal is packed with sketches and captions; some rough, some polished. The margins sometimes spill over with hurriedly scrawled shopping lists and phone numbers. The cover may be travel-worn and the pages warped from watercolors. Open the book, and raw creativity seeps from each color and line. The intimacy and freedom on its pages are almost like being inside the artist’s mind: You get a direct window into risks, lessons, mistakes, and dreams.

A World of Artist Journal Pages: 1000+ Artworks – 230 Artists – 30 Countries

travel journal

By nature, art journaling is a private activity. But when Dawn Sokol’s first book, 1000 Artist Journal Pages, broke the fourth wall and shared the work of artists all over North America and parts of Europe, it created a ripple of inspiration throughout the art journaling community. In this much-anticipated follow-up, Sokol features more than 1,000 new, captivating pages, this time—by popular demand—from artists across the globe. Lists of techniques and materials used for each page, plus behind-the-scenes interviews, give readers a glimpse inside the minds of new and established artists, making this a stimulating compilation sure to inspire beginners and seasoned art journalers alike.
Books for  traveling writing inspiration.

Writing Away: A Creative Guide to Awakening the Journal-Writing Traveler (Travelers’ Tales)

travel writing

Two major trends have recently swept the travel world: the first, an overwhelming desire (thanks to Elizabeth Gilbert’s bestseller, Eat, Pray, Love) to write one’s own memoir; the second, an explosion of social media, blogs, twitter and texts, which allow travelers to document and share their experiences instantaneously. Thus, the act of chronicling one’s journey has never been more popular, nor the urge stronger.

Writing Away: A Creative Guide to Awakening the Journal-Writing Traveler, will inspire budding memoirists and jetsetting scribes alike. But Writing Away doesn’t stop there—author Lavinia Spalding spins the romantic tradition of keeping a travelogue into a modern, witty adventure in awareness, introducing the traditional handwritten journal as a profoundly valuable tool for self-discovery, artistic expression, and spiritual growth.

Writing Away teaches you to embrace mishaps in order to enrich your travel experience, recognize in advance what you want to remember, tap into all your senses, and connect with the physical world in an increasingly technological age. It helps you overcome writer’s block and procrastination; tackle the discipline, routine, structure, and momentum that are crucial to the creative process; and it demonstrates how traveling—while keeping a journal along the way—is the world’s most valuable writing exercise.

Globejotting: How to Write Extraordinary Travel Journals (and still have time to enjoy your trip!)

travel writing

Most travel diaries fizzle. By day six of a big trip, people are struggling to recall what happened on days three, four, and five. They return home with mostly empty journals, or bland writing that fails to capture the full spirit of their journeys. Award-winning travel humorist Dave Fox comes to the rescue in this book that’s both informative and irreverently funny. You’ll learn to: Bring destinations to life with bold details.Splash those details quickly onto your pages so journaling doesn’t gobble up your precious vacation time.Elude your Inner Censor and write with confidence.Weave together your outer and inner journeys, using unfamiliar places as a backdrop for self-discovery.

Dave shares his favorite journaling techniques, shows how to find time to write in the middle of an exciting trip, and infuses it all with a generous dose of his off-the-wall humor. Whether your journeys are weekend road trips or excursions around the world, this book will help transform you into a travel journaling superhero!

 

Once you’ve found some inspiration to get you started choose the type of sketchbook, binder or journal you would like to use.

journals binders

Carolina Pad Studio C Zip-it Notebook with Zipper Pouch Cover 

Pocket Leather Journal with Owl Handmade Blank Craft Paper Brown  with Gift Box 

or binder

Kate’s Paperie Binder with Set of 3 Journals, The Art of Travel 

Genuine Leather Journal Notebook Refillable with Cool Lock 6-ring Loose Leaf Binder

UniKeep Travel Binder – Ocean

I’m inspired by colors, textures, mixed media, positive quotes, photos, places, travel, sewing, fashion,jewelry, music, art, painting, movies, stories . . .

travel journal entry ideas

Ideas to get you going.

Top ten list
Bucket list
Favorite travel quotes
Favorite places
Start with a map
Start with a ticket stub
Start with a postcard
Cut out magazine photos
Start with a photo you took
Favorite thing you ate
Describe the smells
Describe the texture
Describe the taste
Most exciting
Least exciting
I’ll never do that again

 

Do you have a travel inspiration journal?

 

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Cool Ways to Preserve Your Vacation Memories

Cool Ways to Preserve Your Vacation Memories

Cool Ways to Preserve Your Vacation Memories

Vacations might not last as long as we would like them to but we can preserve our memories of them to enjoy and to pass on.  When we experience fun with loved ones and family we want to hang on to that good feeling and share our stories with others.  I know I always bring back postcards, tons of photos and all kinds of trinkets, mementos and souvenirs.  I have scrapbooks and little collections around the house to remind me of those good times.  Here are some fun  and clever ideas to preserve and display your haul.

ticket organizer

1. Just the Ticket: Ticket Stub Organizer

Organize and preserve your tickets from special concerts, shows, trips, and sporting events in this handsome organizer. Makes a great place for your ticket collection.

scratch off map

2. Luckies of London Scratch Map Travel Edition 

Travel size world map. Scratch off top layer. 

photo display

3. Umbra Hangit Photo Display

The Capello bath hardware collection by Umbra was inspired by the fixtures and details found in classical architecture. This graceful collection focuses on cohesive proportions with an antique sensibility, great for a coordinated look.

folio

4. K&CompanySmash Folio, Retro Blue

This is the “unscrapbook” for the person who doesn’t have time or thinks they aren’t creative. Great way to keep track of your life, remember funny things, inspirations quotes, and project ideas. “Live it up, glue it down, and Smash it in.”

travel journal

5.  My Adventures: A Traveler’s Journal

Record your jet-setting, travels, and vacations with the My Adventures guided journal. Enjoy the lightly guided prompts for agendas, lists, and observations. Inside you’ll find plenty of open pages for daily journaling. There is also a handy address book to keep track of friends met on the road.

frame
6. Family Tree 21-Opening Collage Picture Frame 

Show off all your favorite family or vacation photos with pride in this traditional collage frame.

frames

7. Beyond Words Coastal 6-piece Wall Photo Frame Set, White

Share your treasured memories in style with this beautiful coastal theme wall frame set. Each set includes 6 pieces (4 frames and 2 art plaques) and an easy wall hanging template for you to follow. You can also create your own unique layout! Each piece has a coordinating white woodgrain finish for the perfect casual wall gallery. Art plaque reads, “life is better at the Beach.” Perfect for display in any room of the home.

memory box

8. Luckies Memory Box

Keepsakes, notes, souvenirs, mementos, photos – we all accumulate bits and bobs that mean something to us but all too often they are scattered in draws, on shelves and left to gather dust. The perfect gift for someone who loves to keep gig ticket stubs, shells from far flung beaches, buttons that once graced a Grandparent’s shirt or simply Polaroids and pictures of friends and family.

ticket box

9. Ticket Memento Storage Boxes (Drop Your Tickets)

Store and display ticket stubs from movies, concerts, sporting events and more with a Ticket Memento Storage Box. It’s a decorative way for ticket collectors to remember all of their favorite evenings.

decorative box

10. Quickway Imports Old-Fashioned Small Suitcase/Decorative Box with Straps

Decorative box from Quickway Imports that is great for storage and decoration.

shadow box frame

11. Mcs Industries 12-Inch by 12-Inch Shadow Box Frame

Show off a favorite scrapbook page, trophy, ribbon, cheerleading uniform, t-shirt or just about any other memento.

photo puzzle

12. Personalized Photo Jigsaw Puzzle with Keepsake Tin

Family & friends can piece together the fond memories of a special photo with our Pieces of Love Personalized Photo Puzzle .

photo album

13. Alaska State Antique Map Photo Scrapbook 

Scrapbook top load refillable post bound 10 double sided pages photo safe and acid free.

glass jar

14.  Anchor Hocking 2-Gallon Heritage Hill Jar with Glass Lid

A unique way to display photos and souvenirs.  On the table, in the kitchen, and around the home, Anchor Hocking offers a wide variety of high quality consumer glassware products that are both beautiful and functional. Accent and organize the kitchen, bath or living room.

wall cabinet

15. Distressed Wooden Two Tier Wall Cabinet 

Display knickknacks and decorative items in true vintage style inside this rustic wooden wall cabinet from the Home Office Collection.

shelves

16. Uniifurn Wall Shelf Series White Display Cubes with Elegant Rounded Corner

Attractive white wall cubes give any wall in your home or office a striking appearance. Arrange in whatever fashion you like; whether it be grouped together or displayed separately.

showcase table

17. Manchester Wood Glass Top Display Coffee Table 

Featuring a glass top showcasing prized possessions or collectables, this beautifully crafted American solid ash coffee table also sports incredibly durable and thoughtful design that adds refinement to any setting.

curio cabinet

18. Small Wall Mounted Curio Cabinet Shadow Box

A great way to showcase your collectibles.

shadow box book

19. Mini Configurations Shadow Box Book 

Designer Tim Holtz has teamed up with Advantus to offer his Idea-ology line of unique paper craft embellishments, papers and tools with a vintage appeal. If you love configurations, then you’re going to flip for the new configurations book. Sized about half of the printers tray configurations, this one has an attached cover to lay completely flat when closed, or display open when standing up. Of course it includes all of the completely customizable inserts configurations is all about, but wait until you see what creative uses we’ve come up with for this one.

 

Have you tried any of these ideas to display your vacation memories?

How do you display your photos and souvenirs?

 

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My Best Travel Photography Tips

travel photography tips

Today’s post is filled with travel photography tips to help you capture the best vacation memories.  When we take a photo not only are we preserving precious memories but we are also documenting a place.  We are capturing the essence of a place at a particular time in history.

 

Angles

Just a slight shift in position can dramatically alter a photo.

Salem
Unusual angles can add impact and different perspectives.  They can bring out point of views we normally don’t see. How to get different perspectives:

  • Shoot from the side.
  • Kneel down.
  • Shoot up.
  • Hold your camera high.
  • Lie down.
  • Sit down.
  • Climb up.

 

Lighting

Lighting is everything when it comes to photography. Tudor South Beach
The hardest time to get a good picture is during the bright middle of the day.  The best times to shoot are early morning and early evenings.  An added benefit to being out and about so early is avoiding large crowds.

 

Framing

Framing is the technique of drawing attention to the subject of your image by blocking other parts of the image with something in the scene.

Florida Keys Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center

Framing gives the image depth and layers while leading the eye to your focal point.

 

Zoom In

Zooming in can bring texture to your photos. French Toast Muffins

 

Zooming out can be awe inspiring.

Boston

Subject

Don’t center your subject.

 

Sblue shack

 

Do you have any photography tips?  Share them below.

 

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Photos of Boston From Above

Photos of Boston from Above

 

Every civilization I’ve ever studied has built pyramids, towers, monuments and buildings reaching for the sky.  During my travels I’ve climbed pyramids and shot up over one hundred stories in elevators to view the world from above.  There are many lessons learned through traveling.  I truly enjoy learning and one of the things I get from traveling and in particular from climbing skyscrapers is a shift of perspective.  I wanted to view Boston from above to get a different perspective of the city.  I revisited the fact that possibilites and human capabilities are endless by asking the question: Why build tall buildings?  The answer is because we can.  Each of us has the power to manifest.

As I look down and see the Charles River in the distance I realize what a tremendous task it must have been to set up the rivers boundaries and keep the water back.  Many of the hundreds and hundreds of housing units I was gazing down upon are presently on locations previously under water.  It took more than just imagination to create a city like Boston.  It took thought, planning, mobilizing, creating, managing and lots of work to manifest what was imagined by daring thinkers, architects and business men and women.  Men and women who dared to imagine but even greater followed through despite any objections or setbacks.

When I look at the photos I took of Boston from above I am inspired to manifest my own skyscrapers.  Not in the literal sense but in the creative.  It helps me to meditate and shape ideas that I will later manifest.  Viewing the different types of structures put my doubts at ease because if someone could build a 52 story building so I can enjoy this view I’m sure I will be able to create and manifest my daring ideas.  I hope you are inspired too.

 

boston boston

During my research of Massachusetts I discovered the Prudential Tower is the second tallest skyscraper in the City of Boston and it has an observatory, known as Skywalk with 360 degree views.  The 52 story building designed by Charles Luckman and Associates for the Prudential Insurance company was built in back in 1964 when it was one of the tallest around.  Today you can hang out on the 50th floor of the Prudential Tower to capture amazing photos of Boston from above.  From this fabulous vantage point enjoy fantastic views of the city of Boston and its famous landmarks like the Charles River, Fenway Park, Boston Harbor and more.  While there you can take an audio tour, check out the Dreams of Freedom Museum with its creepy doll display and check out the multimedia theater featuring Wings Over Boston.  It was Friday late in the afternoon when I visited and there were only a few people there.  It felt like I had the place to myself.

Also in the building are many swank contemporary shops, trendy restaurants and of course there’s a Starbucks and Barnes & Noble too.  There is also a parking garage.  You can validate your parking ticket for a discount.  I took the Boston subway, MBTA, there.

boston

From up above the first thing that stood out to me were all of the brown brick buildings.  The Pru, as the building is affectionately known to locals, is located in Back Bay, a neighborhood famous for its rows and rows of Victorian brownstones.  It is said  American architect and designer of many Boston Neighborhoods, Arthur Gilman, was influenced by Haussmann’s renovation of Paris and can be seen in its wide parallel tree lined avenues.  One of the things I like so much about the city are its many parks and tree lined streets.  Today it is one of Boston’s most expensive neighborhoods. It’s interesting to see the old blending with the new, the different architectural styles of churches, museums, libraries and schools.  Boston does a great job of conserving its history.  A history which has shaped how US government runs today.

Fenway Park

 

There’s a wonderful view of historic Fenway Park, the oldest ballpark in major league baseball.  It has been home to the Boston Red Sox since 1912.  The ballpark was named after the Fenway Kenmore neighborhood.  This energetic neighborhood is known for its educational and cultural institutions but really comes alive when there are baseball games going on.  I was lucky and there was  a game going on the afternoon of my visit.  I got to sit back and watch the players as the blimp flew over Fenway.  As the sun began to set the view did become a bit hazy which happens in the hot summer.

 

Boston

 

I spent some time watching the sailboats glide across the Charles River.  Being able to see so many islands in Boston Harbor Bay really took my breathe away.   The harbor is not only a beautiful sight but an important port in American history.  It was the site of the Boston Tea Party.  Prior to European contact Native American Indians lived on the islands fishing in the harbor and creating planting fields.  As more colonial settlements were built many Native American Indians were displaced to villages and towns.  Some remained in British colonial settlements while others continued in their traditional native communities.

After enjoying myself photographing Boston from above, I left Skywalk taking the quick elevator ride downstairs and walked around the shops later having dinner at one of the restaurants there before hopping back on the MBTA. If the weather is great and the Skywalk is open I recommend you go take in the view.

Have you been to the Skywalk in the Prudential tower in Boston?

Sponsored post opinions mine.

 

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Fire Dancers Celebrating the Summer Solstice

Fire dancer light graffiti photography

The solstice marks the first day of summer in the Northern Hemisphere.  Today we celebrate the longest day of the year and get ready for some warmer days to come.  I am reminded of a photo shoot I did during a summer solstice.  Several years ago I headed to a drum circle to celebrate the summer solstice when I ran into a group of performers.  They were fire dancers.  I remember them being very polite and humble about their skills.  They answered my questions and I watched them borrow each others equipment to practice before their performance.  The show was great and was the perfect opportunity for me to do some light graffiti.

Light graffiti is also known as light painting.  Basically you keep your camera’s shutter open as long as possible to capture light.  Here’s a round up of photos I took that wonderful warm summer evening.

Fire dancer light graffiti photography

Fire dancer light graffiti photography

Fire dancer light graffiti photography

Fire dancer light graffiti photography

Fire dancer light graffiti photography

fire dancer

How are you spending the longest day of the year?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“The festival of the summer solstice speaks of love and light, of freedom and generosity of spirit. It is a beautiful time of year where vibrant flowers whisper to us with scented breath, forests and woodlands hang heavy in the summer’s heat and our souls become enchanted with midsummer magic.” Carole Carlton

“This is the solstice, the still point of the sun, its cusp and midnight, the year’s threshold and unlocking, where the past lets go of and becomes the future; the place of caught breath…” Margaret Atwood

“There is a Zone whose even Years No Solstice interrupt – Whose Sun constructs perpetual Noon Whose perfect Seasons wait -” Emily Dickinson

 

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Fort Matanzas National Monument in St. Augustine Florida

Fort Matanzas National Monument St. Augustine, Florida

Located off AIA on Anastasia Island slightly south of downtown St. Augustine is a beautiful national park with trails, large shady trees and plenty of tables and grills for picnicking.  The main attraction here is the Fort which is located across the bay.  A short boat ride is required to get there.  Entrance is free but you must make sure to pick up your tickets at the visitors center.  It is first come, first served.  Boats leave several times a day and the park staff who is friendly and very knowledgeable love to answer questions.

Boat to Fort Matanzas

While waiting for our boat road across the bay we splashed at the sandy shore and watched an enormous amount of tiny crabs do their dance.  It was pretty funny.  I wish I had taken a video.  There are many sandbars all throughout this area making boating and other water related recreational activities the ideal.  We saw many small boats, kayaks and jet skiers too.

Once there the tour guide told us about the Fort’s history and what it was like for the first soldiers to live there.  After that you are allowed to explore on your own.  There’s even a ladder leading to the tip top of the structure if you dare climb it.

Fort Matanzas Collage

About the Fort

This fort is an American Latino heritage site preserved to reflect and engage the diverse stories and communities of American Latinos throughout American History and for future generations.  Fort Matanzas has guarded America’s oldest city since 1740.  It was built to protect and provide advance warning of attacks.  Today it is one of our most treasured national parks.

The word matanzas means slaughter.  The river, bay and fort were all named after the execution of many French Protestant soldiers by Catholic Spaniards.  The founder of St. Augustine’s Ft. Matanzas National Monument was responsible for the execution of over 250 Frenchmen.

The Spanish maintained watch and control until an attack by English forces prompted them to build Fort Matanzas.  The Spanish Crown sent money and skilled workmen and masons were recruited in Cuba. These men were Cuban convicts, Timucua, Guale, and Apalachee Indians.  The material used to build the fort is coquina, a type of stone found on Anastasia Island.  Coquina is a type of limestone formed over thousands of years from the shells of the tiny coquina clam cemented together through time and nature into a solid yet soft stone.  To make the fort as sturdy as possible the walls were built 12 to 19 feet thick.  You will notice a common architectural feature of Spanish forts throughout the Caribbean, garita also known as sentry box.  The garita is usually located atop the walls or bastions at the corners.

Have you climbed Fort Matanzas National Monument in St. Augustine?

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What to Wear to South Beach #DestinationSummer #Sponsored

South Beach

 

South Beach is a neighborhood in the city of Miami Beach, Florida.  Located due east of Miami city between Biscayne Bay and the Atlantic Ocean it is known for being trendy and attracting rich, famous and beautiful people.   This place is always bustling with locals, visitors and things to do.  Sobe is high energy and attracts large crowds especially on holidays.  I would describe it as stylish, extravagant and luxurious.  At night it is the hottest club scene I’ve ever been to.  Fashion and music merge on the beach with influences from Latin and European cultures.  I wouldn’t be surprised if you bumped into a celebrity or two during your visit.  

South Beach is also known as the historic Art Deco District.  A trip to Miami is not complete until you visit and experience this area for yourself. You will be transported to another time surrounded by the interesting architecture which dates back to the 1920’s.  Everywhere you look you will find fancy details from that long ago era.  Today there are over 800 Art Deco Structures lighting up South Beach in a rainbow of neon and pastel.

What is art deco you might ask?  The Miami Design Preservation League defines art deco as:

“Art Deco was a product of new ideas and movements and found its inspirations in many distinct early 20th Century European design styles such as Cubism, French Art Deco, German Bauhaus and Expressionism, Dutch de Stijl and Amsterdam School, Vienna Secession and others.”

They offer a free historic district sites map on their site.  You can take a guided tour or do it yourself.

Ocean Drive

When visiting South Beach I highly recommend both driving and walking Ocean Drive.  This street has served as the backdrop of countless movies.  You will see grand hotels, interesting art deco architecture, the gorgeous beach and when the sun sets the famous neon lights come on.  There are plenty of shops, restaurants and places to stay.  Most restaurants offer outdoor seating.  A great way to do some people watching or just enjoy the ambience and beautiful weather.

Be warned shopping here is more expensive than other spots.  A mixed cocktail can easily cost over $20.00.

A few famous places on the strip are Casa Casaurina, also known as the Gianni Versace Mansion, the Clevelander, Park Central, the Tides Hotel, the Cordozo Hotel and the Waldorf Towers.

Be sure to park your car and hit the beach.  Lummus Park Beach is on the list of world’s most beautiful beaches.  On the boardwalk you can skate, bike, run or take a stroll.  There are places for the kids to play as well as places to exercise and work out.  Out on the sand you will see Miami’s iconic colorful lifeguard stands, soft white sand and gorgeous blue and jade waters.

I’ve styled some fabulous clothing, shoes, makeup and accessories to give you some ideas on what to wear on your visit to South Beach.

 

SouthBeachStyleBluesGreens

What to wear to iconic South Beach.  Greens and blues.

Soaked Striped Caftan Cover-Up, Croft & Barrow® Fit For You Tummy Slimmer One-Piece Swimsuit – Women’s, SONOMA life + style® Banded Platform Wedge Sandals – Women, Candie’s® Tie-Dyed Backpack, Fantas-Eyes Rimless Aviator Sunglasses, Croft & Barrow® Simulated Crystal & Square Bead Multistrand Necklace & Drop Earring Set

SouthBeachStylePinksYellows

What to wear to iconic South Beach.  Pinks and yellows.

Soaked Tie-Dye Chiffon Sarong Cover-Up – Women’s, California Waves Crochet Monokini Swimsuit – Women’s, Mudd® Crochet Wedge Sandals – Women, La Diva Laced Scoop Shoulder Bag, Croft & Barrow® Silver Tone Bead Stretch Bracelet Set1928® Gold Tone Beaded Multistrand Necklace, Converse Pedal Round Sunglasses, David & Young Straw Striped Edge Floppy Hat

South Beach Style Rocking Studs

What to wear to South Beach rocking the studs.

Journee Collection Taffy Platform High Heels – Women, Jennifer Lopez Embellished Tee, Jennifer Lopez Skinny Ankle Jeans, Everlasting Gold 14k Gold Bead Chandelier Earrings, GS by gemma simone Gold Tone Openwork Dome Stretch Ring, LORAC Breakthrough Performance Lipstick SPF 15 Leading Lady, ELLE Cosmetics Nail Lacquer Crimson Sunset, JLove by Jennifer Lopez Eau de Parfum Spray – 1.7 oz.

 

South Beach Evening Outfit

What to wear to South Beach evening.

Speechless Sequin Chiffon Dress, Exchange by Charles David Octavia Peep-Toe Platform High Heel, Sterling Silver Black & White Diamond Pendant, Ring & Drop Earring Set, Bulova Stainless Steel Crystal Watch, Gunne Sax by Jessica McClintock Origami Flap Clutch, CARGO Eye Shadow Color: Babylon, essie Encrusted Treasures Nail Polish

I’ve styled these four fabulous looks as part of Kohl’s #DestinationSummer campaign.  Which did you like best?

Have you been to South Beach?  What’s your favorite South Beach spot?

 

This is a sponsored post. Opinions mine.

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Florida Bucket List What to See and Do

Florida Bucket ListFlorida Bucket List

Whatever type of travel experience you are looking for there is something on this Florida bucket list for you.  The state is large and has a variety of landscapes; from the swampy vegetation and wildlife of the Everglades to pristine soft sand beaches.  And just when you thought you’ve seen it all, there’s more.  You can get close to nature and lounge around having fun in the sun.   Here’s a list of things you must see and do when visiting the state of Florida.
Key Largo the Worlds Dive capitalScuba dive or snorkel in the Keys.  Some famous dive and snorkel sites off Key Largo are:  The famous bronze statue of Christ of the Abyss, Spiegel Grove Navy ship, Benwood Wreck World War II shipwreck and Bibb and Duanee US Coast Guard cutters.




Fort Matanzas National Monument St. Augustine, Florida

Visit St. Augustine the Nation’s oldest city and drink from the fountain of youth.  Ponce de Leon landed here 500 years ago.  The town has many well preserved sights for you to experience like the first forts, the first lighthouse, the oldest school house and so much more.

 
Legoland FloridaVisit a theme park.  I believe Florida is the theme park capital of the world.  There are countless parks and waterparks all around the state.  Find a  roller coaster near you.  There’s Busch Gardens, Legoland, Universal Islands of Adventure or the Disney theme parks.  A few other popular theme parks and water parks are: Miami Seaquarium, Jungle Island, Old Town, Universal Studios, Blizzard Beach, Rapids Water Park, Daytona Lagoon and Wild Waters.

 
Kayaking
Go tubing or kayaking in the beautiful clear waters of one of Central Florida’s natural springs.
Take a boat ride.
See the art deco architecture of Miami Beach.
 
Graffiti murals in WynwoodSee the graffiti murals at Wynwood Walls.
 
Hollywood Beach BroadwalkWalk, run, skate or ride your bicycle on the Broadwalk.

Drive down Ocean Drive at night to see the neon lights.
Take an airboat ride in the Everglades and real alligators in their natural wild habitat.
 
Florida Beach
 Be a beach bum and spend the day catching rays on one of the many pristine Florida beaches.  Florida’s coastline consists of 1,197 statute miles and has 663 beach miles.  In addition Florida has more than 11,000 miles of rivers, streams & waterways.

Charter a boat and go deep sea fishing.
See dolphins off the Gulf Coast.
Visit a flea market.
See manatees near Homosassa Springs or Crystal River.
Ride a swamp buggy out in Big Cypress.
Eat authentic Cuban food in Little Havana.
 
Blowing Rocks, Jupiter, FloridaSee the Blowing Rocks in Jupiter, Florida.
Take part in Pensacola’s Interstate Mullet Toss
Hike Florida’s Scenic Nature Trail 
See “real” mermaids perform an underwater ballet at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park
Party like a pirate in Tampa during Gasparilla
Take a cave tour at Florida Caverns State Park
Go shelling in the seashell capital of the world Sanibel Island
Watch a game of jai-alai
Visit the JFK bomb shelter on Peanut Island

Florida Bucket List

Your turn.  What are your must see or do when in Florida?

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Photo of the Week: The Gorgeous Wood Sculptures of Paul Baliker

wood sculpture

Life is an adventure and you never really know what’s coming around the next corner.  This is what I saw as we drove down Old A1A.  An interesting wooden sculpture of an old man with a long beard carved from wood.  It was a sight so spectacular we had to turned around and get a better look.  I thought it was amazing and wondered who would take the time to create something so wonderful and so detailed.

It turned out to be an art gallery, however, since it was a holiday the place was closed.  We were able to see some cool sculptures in the front yard of the building.  I learned online that Paul Baliker has sculpting wood and bronze for over 35 years out of his studio in Hammock, Palm Coast Florida.  His passion for nature has inspired pieces which bring attention to the environment.

The wood sculptures are large and made of natural materials.  You must walk around each piece to discover some new detail and look again for more things you might not have seen the first time.  The pieces are not only beautiful but thought provoking.  A reminder that we are caretakers of this planet and it is our shared responsibility to keep it safe and clean for future generations.

sculpture 3

 

sculpture 4

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“You are the masterpiece of your own life. You are the Michelangelo of your own life. The David you are sculpturing is you.”  Rhonda Byrne

 “What sculpture is to a block of marble, education is to a human soul.” Joseph Addison

“Art-making is not about telling the truth but making the truth felt.”  Christian Boltanski

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Crescent Beach on Anastasia Island Florida

Crescent Beach

I found my new favorite beach and it’s called Crescent Beach located on Anastasia Island in Florida near St. Augustine.  One of the reasons I travel are the unexpected surprises.  Plan as much or as little as you like but you never really know what you might find or see.  I’ve found so many interesting places because of a small sign or just because I curious to see what was at the end of a dirt road.

Crescent Beach

On our trip to St. Augustine one of our stops was at Fort Matanzas which is located on Anastasia Island.  I had been to St. Augustine before but I hadn’t taken this particular route.  We merged onto old A1A via the beautiful little town of Palm Coast, where pretty houses are tucked away behind large moss draped trees and bright green flora.

Crescent Beach

Approaching Anastasia my eyes feasted on the lovely colors of the beach houses perched up high on the sand blocking the view of the water.  The area is known for its preserved sand dunes.  Once you get close to the bridge that crosses to Anastasia you can see miles water on either side.  It was a holiday weekend so the place was crowded with beach goers, fishermen and women and lots of boats parked on the sandbar while their passengers splashed and played in the water.  St. Augustine’s beaches are such a beautiful sight.

Crescent Beach

I really like Crescent beach because it’s shallow for miles and has super soft compacted sand.  Another special feature are the sand dunes.  They are so beautiful I just had to stop and dip my toes in the water.  This is one of the few areas where vehicles are allowed to drive unto the sand.  Be careful though, you don’t want to get stuck.

We entered Crescent Beach at the entrance which is directly across Fort Matanzas.  There are no showers or bathrooms at this beach.  You can find bathrooms across the street at the Forts visitors center.  This is one place I will revist.

Crescent Beach

Have you been to Anastasia Island?

Have you fallen in love with a beach?

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“Let us accept truth, even when it surprises us and alters our views.” George Sand

“I was surprised, as always, be how easy the act of leaving was, and how good it felt. The world was suddenly rich with possibility.” Jack Kerouac (On the Road)

“Life takes us by surprise and orders us to move toward the unknown -even when we don’t want to and when we think we don’t need to.” Paulo Coelho

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Photo Essay Wynwood Walls Graffiti Murals

wynwood walls

I had family visit me recently and it since it was there first time in South Florida I had to take them to see Wynwood’s famous walls.  You know it’s one of my absolute favorite places to be.  And guess what?  They were blown away.  It is a very special feeling when you step out of your car and are completely surrounded by huge colorful beautiful images. The atmosphere is fun and casual.

wynwood walls

wynwood walls

Most of the time you can catch the artists at work.

wynwood walls wynwood walls

This one is my favorite.  It’s beautiful, colorful, creepy and mysterious.

wynwood walls wynwood walls wynwood walls

Wynwood Walls is famous for it’s graffiti murals.

Have you been to Wynwood, Florida?  Which is your favorite mural?

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Visiting Florida Keys Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center

Florida Keys Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center

The Florida Keys Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center is a great place to stop and stretch your legs.  Located in a beautiful setting in Key Largo beside the gorgeous Florida Bay is a maze of boardwalks taking you past an incredible amount of bird species.

What is it?

It’s not a zoo or a theme park but a bird rehabilitation center dedicated to rescuing and rehabilitating ill, injured or orphaned birds with the goal of releasing them.  The birds at the center are either recuperating or unable to survive in the wild.

The Florida Keys Wild Bird Center is a charitable organization and relies on donations to keep the Wildlife Hospital running and all the associated expenses of caring for the birds.

Things to do.

Take a self guided tour along boardwalks and nature trails for a close up look at a variety of bird species like hawks, ospreys, spoonbills, owls, egrets, etc.  On the day I went they even had an adorable little hummingbird.  You never know what you might see.  The employees are very knowledgeable and happy to answer any questions.

The resident birds live in spacious creative screened enclosures but you will see free birds like pelicans and egrets hanging around as well.

Florida Keys Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center

At the end of the boardwalk you will find an amazing nature trail along a wetlands area with some of the most beautiful views of the bay.  There are even places for you to sit.  It’s the perfect spot for photography lovers.

Florida Keys Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center

The center is free to visit but you are welcome to make a donation.  You will really want to do so if you get the opportunity to visit.

Helpful Travel Tip

The best time to go is early morning.  There is a pond off the bay where you can photograph wild birds coming to feed.  Morning is also the best lighting for your photographs.  I went around four pm and had to deal with very harsh bright lighting.

Helpful Travel Tip

You cannot see the place from the road.  A medium sign directing you to the place is all you will see.  Drive down to the end of the road to reach your destination.

 Florida Keys Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center

Have you been here yet?  What did you see on your visit?

Can you tell from the photos I absolutely fell in love with the bay?

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One of the Most Beautiful Places in Florida Rainbow Springs State Park

Rainbow Springs Florida State  Park

Florida has so many incredibly beautiful places to see.  It’s a treat to wander about the grand state in search of new surprises.  This time I decided to take a road trip to the north western area just under the panhandle.  We spent days zigzagging through hilly back roads where all you saw were cows, horses and farms.  You will find many wonderful state parks throughout that area.

Rainbow Springs Florida State  Park

Visiting Rainbow River State Park is a treat for the eyes.  Upon entering you will see the most beautiful crystal clear waters in shades ranging from jade to baby blue.  Crystalline clear blue waters flow from the springs which you can see bubbling in the white sand.

Rainbow Springs Florida State  Park

Yes you can swim here however because there are alligators you must remain in the designated area.  The water is clean, clear and very cold this time of year.  They say you get used to it once you jump in.  Go for it.

Rainbow Springs is the perfect place for canoeing and kayaking which are available for rent.  There are also many beautiful trails that will take you through gardens and more than one waterfall.  There are many places to picnic and camp.

Rainbow Springs Florida State  Park

Archaeological evidence shows these springs were used by people dating back 10,000 years ago.  It was an important place for clean water, food and fishing as well as transportation.  The springs are timeless and a wonderful way to spend the day.    There are plenty of picnic areas and pavillions for family gatherings.  The gorgeous scenic setting is great for spending romantic quality time.   Have you been?

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“I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery—air, mountains, trees, people. I thought, “This is what it is to be happy.”  Sylvia Plath

“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.”  Margaret Atwood

“I like this place and could willingly waste my time in it.” William Shakespeare

“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” Albert Einstein

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