Bella Vida by Letty

things to do

The Lincoln Memorial in Washington Dc

The Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC

The Lincoln Memorial

The Lincoln Memorial is on my top five things not to miss when visiting Washington DC. It is something you need to experience in person. The scale and architecture is more grandiose than you can possibly imagine. I along with everyone in my party was left blown away. It is spectacular so make sure to make time to see this during your visit.

The Lincoln Memorial

What is the Lincoln Memorial?

The Lincoln Memorial is an American national monument built to honor the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. The Greek Doric shaped Memorial building is 190 feet long and 119 feet wide, and reaches a height of almost 100 feet. There are 36 columns, each one representing one state in the U.S. at the date of President Lincoln’s death.

Inside you will find a 19 foot tall 175-ton statue of Abraham Lincoln.  To the left of the statue is Lincoln’s great speech, the Gettysburg Address. Every single word of the Address is etched into the wall. To the right is the entire Second Inaugural Address, given in March of 1865.

 

The Lincoln Memorial

When to Visit

Located on the western end of the National Mall in Washington, D.C. across from the Washington Monument the Lincoln Memorial is open 24 hours a day, every day of the year. I visited twice and each time I went during the evening. It was not too crowded and I had a spectacular view of the Reflecting Pool and the Washington Monument lit up at night.

Have you visited The Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC?

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Books that Will Make You Want to Travel

My daily reading habits include news and social media but in addition I try to always have some fiction and non-fiction to read. I particularly love books that inspire me to imagine and create.   Just like reading travel expands our minds, our horizons and limits. Reading fills us with knowledge, mental stimulation and of course entertainment. The wonderful thing about books is you can take them anywhere. You can stash a whole library on your phone.

Here a few books that will inspire you to travel:

the alchemist

 

The Alchemist

Paulo Coelho’s masterpiece tells the mystical story of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy who yearns to travel in search of a worldly treasure. His quest will lead him to riches far different—and far more satisfying—than he ever imagined. Santiago’s journey teaches us about the essential wisdom of listening to our hearts, of recognizing opportunity and learning to read the omens strewn along life’s path, and, most importantly, to follow our dreams.

“It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.” 

— Paulo Coelho 

“Remember that wherever your heart is, there you will find your treasure.” 

— Paulo Coelho 

“We are travelers on a cosmic journey,stardust,swirling and dancing in the eddies and whirlpools of infinity. Life is eternal. We have stopped for a moment to encounter each other, to meet, to love, to share.This is a precious moment. It is a little parenthesis in eternity.” 
— Paulo Coelho 

 

on the road jack kerouac

On the Road

On the Road chronicles Jack Kerouac’s years traveling the North American continent with his friend Neal Cassady, “a sideburned hero of the snowy West.” As “Sal Paradise” and “Dean Moriarty,” the two roam the country in a quest for self-knowledge and experience. Kerouac’s love of America, his compassion for humanity, and his sense of language as jazz combine to make On the Road an inspirational work of lasting importance.

Kerouac’s classic novel of freedom and longing defined what it meant to be “Beat” and has inspired every generation since its initial publication.

“There was nowhere to go but everywhere, so just keep on rolling under the stars.” 

— Jack Kerouac 

“I was surprised, as always, by how easy the act of leaving was, and how good it felt. The world was suddenly rich with possibility.” 

― Jack Kerouac

 

My Brilliant Friend Neapolitan Novels

My Brilliant Friend: Neapolitan Novels

The story begins in the 1950s, in a poor but vibrant neighborhood on the outskirts of Naples. Growing up on these tough streets the two girls learn to rely on each other ahead of anyone or anything else. As they grow, as their paths repeatedly diverge and converge, Elena and Lila remain best friends whose respective destinies are reflected and refracted in the other. They are likewise the embodiments of a nation undergoing momentous change. Through the lives of these two women, Ferrante tells the story of a neighborhood, a city, and a country as it is transformed in ways that, in turn, also transform the relationship between her protagonists, the unforgettable Elena and Lila.

“Everything in the world was in precarious balance, pure risk, and those who didn’t agree to take the risk wasted away in a corner, without getting to know life.” Elena Ferrante

“Nowhere is it written that you can’t do it.”  Elena Ferrante

Life of Pi

Life of Pi

The son of a zookeeper, Pi Patel has an encyclopedic knowledge of animal behavior and a fervent love of stories. When Pi is sixteen, his family emigrates from India to North America aboard a Japanese cargo ship, along with their zoo animals bound for new homes.
The ship sinks. Pi finds himself alone in a lifeboat, his only companions a hyena, an orangutan, a wounded zebra, and Richard Parker, a 450-pound Bengal tiger. Soon the tiger has dispatched all but Pi, whose fear, knowledge, and cunning allow him to coexist with Richard Parker for 227 days while lost at sea. When they finally reach the coast of Mexico, Richard Parker flees to the jungle, never to be seen again. The Japanese authorities who interrogate Pi refuse to believe his story and press him to tell them “the truth.” After hours of coercion, Pi tells a second story, a story much less fantastical, much more conventional–but is it more true?

“It is true that those we meet can change us, sometimes so profoundly that we are not the same afterwards, even unto our names.”  Yann Martel 

1000 Places to see before you die

1,000 Places to See Before You Die

It’s the journey of a lifetime, every month—and the perfect gift for the traveler and anyone who dreams of traveling. Written by Patricia Schultz, author of the #1 New York Times bestselling book 1,000 Places to See Before You Die, and illustrated with full-color photographs, each month is a to-die-for itinerary. Discover exotic and culturally rich Uzbekistan. Cruise America’s “favorite drive” in autumn, the winding Blue Ridge Parkway. And experience the light that captivated so many Impressionist painters in Normandy. Each month features a large photograph, smaller images throughout the grid, a map, must-see attractions, and local history.

“If you’re waiting for a special occasion to make your next trip happen, then consider this: The day you get off the couch and head for the airport, that’s the special occasion.” 

— Patricia Schultz 

“As Herman Melville wrote in Moby Dick, I had “an everlasting itch for things remote.” 

— Patricia Schultz

 

What are some of your favorite books that inspire you to travel?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Florida Road Trip in the Chevy Suburban 2016

s6 Collage

This summer has been a blast.  I love when my family comes down to visit and I get to show them some of the places I love and share what makes Florida so special.  Some of our stops you will recognize as popular and others are gems that are off the beaten path.  The Chevy Suburban comfortably accommodated seven passengers as we explored some of the fun unique places Florida has to offer.  With our extended family in tow, cooler with water, picnic and beach supplies in the trunk, we caught up while we hit the road.  We didn’t have to split up.  We were able to enjoy each others company the entire trip.  The Suburban is perfect for large families.

Florida is a state where it is warm year round.   If you are not used to the heat, summers can be uncomfortable.  One of my favorite features of the Suburban are cooled seats.  Not only are the driver and front passenger seats cooled but so are the second row seats.  Another feature that saved us from the blaring heat is the fact each person can adjust the air conditioning to their liking.  I know some of my family members disagree on how cold it should be.  With the ability for each person to adjust the a/c to their liking made everyone happy and we were able to cool off much quicker than other vehicles.

South Florida

Florida makes is fun and easy to plan road trips.  There are wonderful highways that will take you all across the state.  When you are in Miami be prepared for traffic.  Especially on the weekends.  The first place I wanted to share with my family was the art district of Wynwood Walls in midtown Miami.  This entire place is a canvas for artists.  Everywhere you look you will find images and secret messages.  It is a very special place with a vibe you will not find anywhere else in the world.  I come away inspired every time I visit.  My family was blown away.

The Suburban drives so smoothly and the rearview camera with image outline made parking a breeze.  If you get nervous driving in traffic the Suburban has many safety features to put you at ease; the forward collision alert, the lane keep assist, lance changer alert with side blind zone alert, rear cross traffic alert, rear vision camera and tire pressure monitor system.  You and your family can enjoy yourselves without worry.

s4 Collage

Beaches

Florida has no scarcity of beautiful beaches.  Take your pick from North to South and East or West coast.  There are beaches to be on the look out for celebrities like South Beach, or spend some quiet family time on the Hollywood Broadwalk or enjoy more quiet beaches where the locals hang out.  We love to picnic at the beach on weekends.

s5 Collage

Florida Springs

An off the beaten road trip you might not know about would be visiting a Florida Spring.   There are many beautiful, clean, clear water Springs throughout central and north Florida.  I chose to visit Wekiwa Springs in central Florida.  Only a 40 minute drive from Orlando it was the best way to cool off after visiting packed theme parks.  For only $6.00 per car we spent the entire day canoeing, picnicking and swimming.

s2 Collage

Everglades

Every time friends and family visit I make sure to take them to experience an Everglades sunset.  No where else in the world will you get a spectacular view like this.  As the sun begins to go down you’ll probably see a gator or five.  Hundreds of thousands of birds flock to the flora for a safe nights rest.  The adventurous will get on boat rides to explore the Everglades, the river of grass.  The night I drove my family to see an Everglades sunset we bumped into a group of people going bow fishing.  That’s were you use a bow and arrow to catch your fish.  I’m always come away learning something new on every road trip.

s1 Collage

So here are my must do and see when visiting Florida:

Experience art like you’ve never experienced art before at Wynwood Walls in midtown Miami.

Splash and play on one of many Florida’s clean soft sand beaches.

Cool off at one of Florida’s most beautiful natural wonders, the springs.

And finally try not to leave without viewing an Everglades sunset.  Beware and stay away from the gators.

Have you experienced a Florida sunset?

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Visiting Starved Rock Illinois State Park Near Chicago

Visiting Starved Rock Illinois State Park Near Chicago

When I visit a place I really enjoy exploring and uncovering hidden gems. Since I’m a die hard road tripper this includes surrounding areas of wherever I may be. While I visited Chicago last summer I searched for things to do within driving distance of the windy city. Starved Rock State park turned out to be the perfect place to spend the day since I love exercising outdoors and being surrounded by nature.

Visiting Starved Rock Illinois State Park Near Chicago

Starved Rock State Park is only a one and half hour drive from the city of Chicago along the south bank of the Illinois River. It is a pleasant surprise since most of Illinois consists of flat prairies. It was formed thousands of years ago by melting glaciers. The water rushed and eroded everything except the sandstone. Today you can see steep rock walls, cool dark valleys, bluffs, gorges and canyons.

This beautiful park has many things you can do: hiking, camping, fishing, canoeing, etc. There are cabins and of course the Lodge for extended visits.

hiking tip

Planning your Visit

Before you go I highly recommend checking the website or calling the park for conditions. I visited on a very hot afternoon toward the end of July. The park had experienced lots of flooding, which meant parts were inaccessible which limited the things to do. Flooding is common in the area and some people even recommend hiking in rain boots. So call ahead and find out what to bring.

Upon arrival we parked near the lodge where there were plenty of empty spaces. Head inside and grab yourself a map. They have a visitor’s center, gift shop and dining if you need supplies. In addition there are many other lots to park at depending on how long or far you want to go and what you want to see.

Visiting Starved Rock Illinois State Park Near Chicago

Since we were only there for a few hours we chose the trail leading us to the bluff and gorgeous views of the Illinois River. It was very hot that day. You can experience all four season on any given day in Illinois so I recommend layers you can take off and put on as needed. Each person in the group had their own water and snack supply. These are not easy trails. If you do not exercise regularly you may find the trails challenging. The boardwalk has many many many stairs, which take you up and down for miles and miles. There are also dirt paths you can take all throughout the park. Some were quite muddy and we had to make many detours. Our trail led us through a lush green forest of oak and hickory trees, through the canyon and to a grand view of the Illinois River.

Visiting Starved Rock Illinois State Park Near Chicago

Details

Hours: Visitors Center: 9:00 a.m. to 4:00pm

Prices: Free to Public. Prices for tours, activities and boat rentals vary.

Activities:

This is one place I would love to come back and visit to explore the other trails. During the springtime there are waterfalls and during winter ice falls and that is something I’d love to see.

Have you been?

 

 

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Sky Zone Fort Lauderdale Coupon Indoor Trampoline Park

Sky Zone Fort Lauderdale is the ideal combination of Fun and Fitness, appropriate for almost any age or ability level.

SkyZone Fort Lauderdale Coupon

Soar high on our main court the sky is the limit, try your best trick into our foam pit and Sky Slam basketball, or challenge your friends in a thrilling trampoline-based game of Ultimate Dodgeball! Located in Pompano Beach close to I-95 and Atlantic Blvd.

My Readers receive $5 OFF OPEN JUMP OR $50 OFF BIRTHDAY PARTY. Spend $20 and receive $5 off at Sky Zone Fort Lauderdale

CLICK HERE for coupon 

 

Sky Zone Fort Lauderdale indoor trampoline parks featuring freestyle bouncing, dodgeball, fitness programs & more.

Sky Zone is the world’s first indoor trampoline park. We’re the inventors of “fun fitness” and the makers of trampolines as far as the eye can see. We give you one of the greatest workouts ever combined with awesome, healthy fun. We’ve been voted the number one “out of the box” workout and the “best party ever.” Experience WOW – the weightlessness of bouncing, flipping and landing in a pit filled with 10,000 foam cubes.

SkyZone Fort Lauderdale Coupon

My Readers receive $5 OFF OPEN JUMP OR $50 OFF BIRTHDAY PARTY. Spend $20 and receive $5 off at Sky Zone Fort Lauderdale

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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

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.

#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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Things to do in Chicago Take in the Willis Tower Views

Things to do in Chicago

The Willis Tower was originally built and still commonly referred to as the Sears Tower. This 108-story skyscraper is one of the most famous landmarks in Chicago, Illinois. It took 2,000 workers three years to build and has been open to the public since 1974. It’s the second tallest in North America and the Western Hemisphere and the eight tallest building in the world.

Skydeck Willis Tower

If you’re visiting Chicago I highly recommend checking out the views from this iconic skyscraper. The Skydeck is the highest observation deck in the United States and from the 103rd floor features expansive views of the city and lake front. Visibility from the Skydeck is approximately 40-50 miles. On a clear day you can see four states: Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan.

Skydeck Willis Tower

Fun Fact

The average sway of the building is six inches from true center. But don’t worry the building is designed to sway up to 3 feet and you won’t feel it anyway.

Skydeck Willis Tower

Insider Tip

The Willis Tower Skydeck is a popular attraction, which receives about 25,000 people each day. The best times to visit are either early morning or evening. One way to beat the long lines and save money is to purchase a Chicago CityPASS. If you purchase the booklet ahead of time you can totally by pass super long lines and go straight to the elevator that swoops you up to the Skydeck.

The CityPASS also includes entrance to Chicago’s most popular attractions, The Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium, The Art Institute, Museum of Science, Planetarium, etc. It comes out way cheaper than purchasing tickets for each individual attraction. Especially if you’re traveling as a family.

Skydeck Willis Tower

Chicago CityPASS  ~ See the Best and Save Money

 

Have you visited the Skydeck at the Willis Tower?

Where you brave enough to step out onto the platform?

Willis Tower related products.

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Things to do in Florida at Hollywood Beach Broadwalk

hollywood broadwalk

Here’s an insider tip for things to do in Florida.  One of my very favorite hometown hangouts is the Hollywood Broadwalk.  No, that’s not a typo. The city named the boardwalk The Hollywood Broadwalk.

Did you know there is a city in Florida named Hollywood?

Not very many people do.  It’s the complete opposite of the one out in California.  Located between Miami and Ft. Lauderdale this small beach town is very diverse receiving visitors from all over the world. It’s relaxed, laid back and family friendly.

Hollywood Boulevard ends at A1A where you can access Surf Road and the Hollywood Broadwalk. The Broadwalk stretches for about two and half miles.  On one side of the Broadwalk are seven miles of sand with the view of the gorgeous Atlantic Ocean, which changes from jade to turquoise depending on the light.  The other side of the Hollywood Broadwalk is lined with shops, cafes, ice cream shops, restaurants, hotels, inns and other businesses.

Experience South Florida the way the locals do.

Hollywood Broadwalk Collage

See

If you park at the north end at Sheridan Street there is a viewing deck where you can climb up a few stories to take in the beautiful beach view from above.

Eats

The Hollywood Broadwalk gives you the opportunity to have a seaside meal. At the north end of the Hollywood Broadwalk, just off of Sheridan Street you will find plenty of parking, shade and picnic tables.  You can use the grills or bring your own.

On the weekends there is a fresh market at the south end of the Broadwalk where you can find organic produce and drink a refreshing smoothie made from locally grown fruits and vegetables.

And in between you will find a great variety of restaurants, cafes, ice cream parlors, pizza joint and just about any type of food you’re in the mood for.

Sleep / Stay

You will find various types of accommodations along the Broadwalk from large chain hotels, small mom and pop hotels. If renting is your thing you can find anything from luxury to casual beach house.

Play

Just off of Garfield Street you can find a playground, ball courts and even an interactive dolphin fountain for the kids to splash and play.  Charnow Park features shaded seating areas and picnic pavilions.

Sand

While on the sand you’ll see all types of boats out on the water.  On weekends you might see a group of twenty small sailboats bobbing along during sail school.  At night you’ll see large cruise ships and their twinkling lights as they head deep into the ocean.  The port of Ft. Lauderdale is only about eight miles away.

Sports

The Broadwalk is always bustling with skaters, joggers and bike riders.  There are at least two places I know of where you can rent wheels.  You can pick up a racket and play ball at the ball courts off Garfield Street.

Water

In the water you can swim, float, fish. If you want to play in the water you can also rent jet skis.

Entertainment

You will find various entertainments at the different bars and restaurants. For free entertainment you can find live music performances at the band shell located off Johnson Street. The Hollywood Beach Theater hosts live music five nights a week and a variety of cultural performances just 25 steps from sand to center stage.

You can see what’s happening at the beach now via this live webcam or view a map to plan your next trip here.

Have you been to the Hollywood Broadwalk?

What was your favorite thing to do there?

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Roadtrip to Plimoth Plantation

Pilgrim Village Collage

Last summer I took an amazing road trip through the state of Massachusetts and one of the towns I visited was the famous historical town of Plymouth where the Mayflower landed and the first pilgrims settled. Plymouth is a small coastal town and it’s super easy to get around. Everything is close by and lovely views of the waterfront can be enjoyed from just about everywhere.

When visiting Plymouth a great way to spend the day is a visit to Plimoth Plantation. Located on several acres near the waterfront it’s a living indoor-outdoor museum. It’s the recreation of a 17th century Wampanoag village and Pilgrim settlement. The place is huge and with self-guided tours you can walk as little or as much as you like. We spent an entire fun filled morning and could easily have spent the day.

The place is large with a visitor’s center, cinema, gift shop, craft center and tons of grounds to cover. If you like strolling among lush green vegetation you’ll love exploring the paths, which take you to an authentic Wampanoag village and Pilgrim settlement.

Pilgrim Village

 

The attraction does a good job of demonstrating how life was for these two settlements and how important it was for their survival that they find a way to live and work together.  The staff is dresses, live, speak and act as the citizens and Native Americans did during that period. Wonderful structures have been recreated to take you back in time. They encourage you to interact and ask tons of questions. I was very impressed with their knowledge and the stories they shared. It was very entertaining.

I started through the bright green paths leading to the Wampanoag village where there was lots going on. There were people tending to the crops, women cooking, children playing and men building. I stopped at a lovely display of indigenous toys from that era. There were huts you could enter to see how it was built and another large one where I sat and listened to what life was like. At every station you are free to ask any questions.

Settlement Collage

After the village a beautiful path winding up the hillside leads you to the Pilgrim settlement. That was my favorite path. You have beautiful views of the Eel River and even a nice view of the Pilgrim Sands on Long Beach where I stayed. As the paths turn you can even see the beach and the Atlantic Ocean.

The Pilgrim Village has many structures to explore. The staff dressed in period costumes attending the crops and animals as they did in the 17th century.

Settlement

If you go Tips

–  The earlier you go the better parking you will get.

–  Wear comfortable walking shoes.

–  Bring sunblock and water.

–  Ask lots of questions.  The more you interact the more fun you’ll have.

 

 Have you been to Plymouth?  What did you do during your visit?

 

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Sailing in Salem an American Coastal Town

Salem motto

Salem’s history is intertwined with its harbor and surrounding waters.  Even the town’s motto: “To the Farthest Ports of the Rich East” alludes to it.  The very first colonists survived by becoming fishermen.  Salem would grow from a fine fishing village to be known as a major international trading center peaking in the 18th century thanks to the codfish trade with the West Indies and Europe.  The spices these ships brought back would make this town one of the wealthiest in the country.  By the end of the 18th century it was the sixth largest city, wealthiest per capita and home to the US’s first millionaire.

Salem an interesting bustling place buzzing with people from around the world.  Many languages, smells and aromas permeating the air.  Some of the merchandize brought in from around the world was silk, chinaware, paper, coffee, tea, molasses, sugar and rum.  A large variety of spices could be purchased and sold here; nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger and pepper.

By mid 19th century Salem’s prosperity as a major seaport winded down as New York and Boston which had deeper harbors to accommodate larger vessels took over.

Pickering Wharf

We can still see the impact of the industry today.  With over 400 years of maritime history many of Salem’s historic buildings, wharves and reconstructed ships are well preserved for you to visit today.

Salem

 

You know how much I love being out on the water.  When visiting Salem I recommend you take a cruise on these historic waters.   I headed to Pickering Wharf located in central Salem with beautiful vistas of the harbor.  It’s a nice place to stroll with shops and restaurants.

I took a late afternoon cruise on a replica of the famous 1812 private schooner Fame.  It was fantastic.  The crew was talkative and friendly sharing tons of boating stories as well as the history of sailing and its impact on Salem.  It was a sunny mid July afternoon at Pickering Wharf but I brought a sweater because the weather changes once you head into deep waters.  Once we set sail the crew served snacks, soda, wine and beer at reasonable prices.

The trip started out on a lovely warm afternoon but before we could reach Salem Sound we ran into a thick wall of fog rolling in from the deep waters. It was really cool especially since I’ve never seen anything like it in person while boating.  We had the contrast of the sun shining brightly on one side of us as we slowly lost visibility of the water, summer houses and homes and other water vessels as the cool fog creeped closer and closer until we were completely engulfed by it.  It was far too dangerous to keep sailing into Salem Sound.  The fog grew so thick there was no way to tell when or where another boat would pop up.

Even though we didn’t get very far it was a pleasant afternoon.  The crew began teaching the children how to make the various knots needed to use on a sailboat while the skipper entertained us with tales of history and piracy.   The sailboat bounced softly and rhythmically in circles completely relaxing me.  It was a very relaxing sail.

Salem

Have you been sailing in Salem?

 

Where to stay: Salem Waterfront Hotel & Marina

Centrally located and literally on the wharf near shops and restaurants.

Where to eat: Finz Seafood & Grill

Right on the wharf with beautiful views and really good food.

 

Sponsored post opinions mine

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Having a Sandwich in Sandwich MA

One of the places I was curious to explore in Massachusetts is Cape Cod.  Shaped like an arm, Cape Cod is actually made of up of many quaint villages and towns.  During my research I discovered one little town in particular which peaked my curiosity on the Cape named Sandwich.  If you know me well, you know I could live off sandwiches.  I probably eat at least one a day.  So when I found out about this town named Sandwich it became my goal to eat a sandwich in Sandwich.

Sandwich MA

It was a gray rainy day when we landed at BOS sometime around noon but nothing was going to deter me from road tripping in Massachusetts.  After picking up my Chevy Tahoe we headed south toward Cape Cod taking I-93 South and MA-3 to the Mid Cape connector in Bourne.  Although it was raining all I could see was an abundance of lush green trees, bushes and flora enveloping the long stretches of concrete highway.  At times there were large rocks and boulders revealing its mountainous terrain.  It was really coming down hard by the time we reached the bridge entering Cape Cod which was covered in plastic as it was being repaired.

Thankfully by the time we reached Sandwich although the sky remained gray there was barely a sprinkle of rain in the oldest town on the Cape.  Sandwich is named for the town of Sandwich Kent in England.  Now you know what I’m thinking?  Yep new goal.

We parked at Sandwich Village which is the historical part of town.  Beautiful cottage and Victorian homes have been converted to hotels, restaurants and shops.  There are souvenir and antique shops displaying funky wares.   Sandwich is a charming town and very pretty.  Large houses with knotty pine paneling remind me of an old movie.  Victorian houses are the color of ice cream.  Large cottages abound with some of the loveliest manicured gardens I’ve ever seen blooming with color.

a sandwich in Sandwich MA

Every year the town celebrates SandwichFest, a street fair featuring the Best Sandwich in Sandwich competition.  Wanting to taste an award winning sandwich in Sandwich I headed to last year’s winner, Beth’s Bakery and Cafe.  The place looks like a converted cottage home with a welcoming front porch.  If not for the weather I would’ve enjoyed watching the street go by.  The interior is warm, cozy sweet smelling bakery.  Large enough for many tables the place was half full even on this midweek rainy day.  The display cabinet was packed full of yummy looking freshly baked deserts, cakes and pastries.

I tried their grilled cheese sandwich and the Vermouth made with turkey, bacon, sliced apple and cheddar.  Each came in a cute basket with Cape Cod chips and a pickle and were very good.  It’s the first time I had a slice of apple in my sandwich.  The sweetness of the green apple went perfectly with the bacon.  I also tried the award winning smoked salmon and pear on white and it was also very delicious.

a sandwich in Sandwich MA

Sandwich is such a cute town with many historic things to see.  Before we left we made a quick stop at Hoxie House which is believed to be one of the oldest houses on Cape Cod.  The brown saltbox house sits on a gorgeous bluff overlooking Shawme Pond.  It’s colonial style of architecture really stands out.  Take a tour to see what life was like for settlers of this area.

Sandwich MA

There’s plenty to do and see.  My time was limited but here’s a short list of other things to do:  Visit the other sandwich award winning restaurant, Cafe Chew.  Stop by the glass museum which is the industry that saved the town way back when.  Stroll the Heritage Gardens and Museum, Visit Dexter Grist Mill and take a walk down the boardwalk to see the marsh and beach area.

Have you eaten a sandwich in Sandwich, MA?

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World’s Tallest Free Standing Cross in St. Augustine Florida

Cross in St. Augustine

The world’s tallest free standing cross can be found in St. Augustine, Florida on the historic grounds of Mission Nombre de Dios and the first Christian church in the US.  I read about it while researching my trip to St. Augustine in the roadside oddities list and was curious to see it in person.  Giant crosses are not something you see every day.

You don’t have to be religious to visit the grounds.  I’m not.  It’s a peaceful place laid out like a park with lots of shade and a winding path where every so often you will find manmade religious relics.  The path continues over a small bridge with a pond on one side and Matanzas Bay on the other leading to a cemetery and the old mission structure.  The church and gift shop are near the street and parking.  You are not required to enter either.

The stainless steel cross is located in the center of the grounds and rises 208 feet above the marshes of the Matanzas River.  It was built in 1965 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Christianity and founding of the city.  It is placed where it is said the founder of St. Augustine, Pedro Menéndez de Avilés  placed a small wooden cross.  Pedro Menendez de Aviles was sent by the Spanish crown to drive out the French colonists.  Matanzas is a Spanish word that means slaughter.  These waters were named so because of the amount of soldiers killed by Menéndez and his men.  According to the NNDB database: “His letters prove him to have been a pious and high minded officer, who never imagined that he could be supposed by any honest man to have gone too far in massacring the Frenchmen, whom he regarded as pirates and heretics.”

Cross Collage

The prettiest spot here is the Chapel of the Lady of La Leche in the small cemetery under the canopy of large shade trees.  A lovingly restored building dating back to the 1700’s made of coquina stone, a natural rock formed from seashells.  It is a small Spanish mission style structure beautifully covered in bright green vines.  The chapel houses a replica statue of Our Lady of La Leche.  It is said thousands of pilgrims come to ask the statue for motherhood and other blessings.

chapel

Recent archaeological excavations have uncovered a few other coquina structures on the property.

I recommend visiting this location for a peaceful getaway from the heat and the wonderful breeze off the bay in a park like atmosphere.

Have you visited this historic place in St. Augustine?

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What to See and Do in Key Largo Florida

Key Largo

Did you know Key Largo is located approximately one hour and twenty minutes from the Miami International Airport?  If you are visiting the Miami area it would make a great place to spend the day.  Key Largo is an extraordinary place.  The weather is divine all year round averaging in the mid 70’s from December to March and upper 80’s the rest of the year.

There is something here for every taste.  You have the Everglades flora and fauna on one side and a completely different one on the other side hosting incredible fish covered coral formations of the only living coral barrier reef to the east.

The Everglades zone is perfect for kayakers, birders, hikers, eco tourist and fishing.  There are hundreds of protected acres in Key Largo including the Crocodile Lake Wildlife Refuge.

Key Largo Florida

Locals call Key Largo the scuba capital of the world.  Just a few miles off shore lie some of the world’s most beautiful scuba diving experiences.  The Florida Keys Reef Tract is the only living coral barrier reef in North America and is the 3rd largest in the world.  Lucky for us the majority is located in a protected sanctuary preservation area.  The protection has helped stabilize the overall health of the reef tract.

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.

You can find every type of boating and water sports rental here.  Take a charter boat and go deep sea fishing.  The Gulf Stream and the fish are right off shore.  If it’s too rough you can cross to the Florida Bay and fish in calm water.  If you love playing on the water have fun splashing around on a jet ski.  If it’s relaxation you’re looking for take relaxing sail to watch the sunset.

Things to do in the Florida Keys 2

Here are some more in depth reviews I’ve written about what to see and do when you visit:

John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park in Key Largo

Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park 

Florida Keys Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center 

And for some extra inspiration.
Key Largo Road Trip: Things I Found at the End of the Road

 

Have you been to Key Largo?  What was your favorite thing to do there?

 

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Photo of the Week: Ice Angel

ice angel

This photo was taken at the Gaylord Resort and Convention Center in Orlando, Florida during the Ice! display.  The entire exhibition area is cooled down to 9 degrees and displays hundreds of ice sculptures.  It is very cold and luckily parkas are provided.  I live in Florida and do not own anything near as warm as a parka.

The sculptures are amazingly detailed.  The entire Ice attraction is hand carved by a team of 40 artisans hailing from Harbin, China.  The sculptures vary from cartoon characters to a giant nativity scene and of course Santa too.  There’s are slides made of ice for the kids to play.

It’s a nice place to spend an afternoon but I won’t lie.  I didn’t stay long because I was freezing.

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“If I got rid of my demons, I’d lose my angels.” Tennessee Williams

“Silently, one by one, in the infinite meadows of heaven, Blossomed the lovely stars, the forget-me-nots of the angels.” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

“I will always be the virgin-prostitute, the perverse angel, the two-faced sinister and saintly woman.” Anaïs Nin

“One may tolerate a world of demons for the sake of an angel.” Steven Moffat   

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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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