Bella Vida by Letty

tips

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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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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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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Have you been to Boston?

What were some of your favorite things to do?

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Travel Tips Round Up From Flying to Packing and More

I’m going through my travel tips articles getting ready to start planning my summer vacation.  I enjoy researching new places and going on new adventures.  Sometimes planning can be fun but sometimes it can be tedious since there are so many things to do before we get to leave and have fun.  Here’s my round up of travel tips articles to help you out.

 


 

Long List of Things to do Before You Leave on Your Trip

There are lots of details to be wrapped up before leaving on your next trip.  Here’s a long list you can use to check things off and not worry you’ve missed something.

What You Need to Know Before Flying

We do a lot of road tripping and sometimes we fly out to do even more road tripping.  Here are some tips to get you ready for your flight.

inside my carry on bag

Packing is actually fun for me.  I enjoy finding all the perfect little items that will make me and my family feel comfortable during our commute.  Here’s what I have inside my carry on.

9 Best Ways to Prepare Your Cell Phone Before Traveling

I never leave the house without my phone.  These tips will help when you’re out on the road.

 

World's Most Helpful Types of Travel Apps

Continuing on the phone theme here are some very useful travel apps.

 

Where will you be vacationing this summer?

 

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Budget and Credit Tips #Sponsored by #WellsFargo

This post is brought to you by a compensated campaign in collaboration with Latina Bloggers Connect and Wells Fargo. All thoughts and content are my own. (Esta entrada es patrocinada por una campaña compensada en colaboración con Latina Bloggers Connect y Wells Fargo. Todo el contenido y los pensamientos son míos.)

How to Save for Your Next Vacation Tips from me and

Budget & Credit Tips From Wells Fargo

WFTips3

Wells Fargo is committed to making financial education and in-language resources available to Latino consumers. That includes providing customers with bilingual online tools, Spanish Text Banking, Spanish account statements, Spanish-language call centers, Spanish-speaking bankers in stores across the nation, and more.

As part of that commitment and in order to connect with the Hispanic community in a meaningful way, Wells Fargo recently collaborated with Telemundo for the “Conversemos de Tus Finanzas” campaign. The campaign is focused on empowering Hispanics to enhance their financial knowledge and help them to reach their financial goals. The campaign provides customized content, tools and resources around the important financial topics of money management and credit.

After working hard all year long everyone looks forward to having some fun on vacation whether it be an extravagant all inclusive affair or small road trip. We all deserve a break. The first step in creating financial goals such as saving for your vacation is to prepare a budget.

Prepare a budget

  • Understanding your income sources is one of the starting points towards creating a budget.Your annual gross income represents your total income before any taxes or other deductions. “Take-home pay” represents your net income,specifically your income minus taxes, credits, and deductions.
  • Tracking your expenses will help you spend your money more wisely. If you make a budget.This step-by-step process can be surprisingly easy to find out how you’re spending your money. Here’s how:

Gather your financial statements.

Create a list of monthly expenses.

Examine your expenses. (fixed, flexible & discretionary expenses)

Wells Fargo LOGO (CURRENT) v2

Create a budget in five easy steps.

Target your savings strategy. Look for an online budgeting tool that helps you identify and track multiple goals at once.

Step 1: Organize.

At its core, a budget is a worksheet with two columns: one for income and one for expenses.

Step 2:Track.

For one month, keep a detailed log of all your spending habits.

Step 3: Analyze.

At the end of the month, total your income and your expenses and then subtract your expenses from your income.

Step 4: React.

After looking at all of your expenses, separate them into categories and set a budget for each.

Step 5: Review:

Make a habit of reviewing your budget every month, particularly in the early stages.

 

Having good credit is very important since most hotels require a credit card for reservations.  The financial experts at Wells Fargo have compiled a list of 28 tips to help you manage your credit.

Click here to read your free Credit Tip Sheet from the experts at Wells Fargo.

You can find many more tips like these on the easy to navigate Wells Fargo website.

Click here to visit.

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Bridge of Lions in Historic St. Augustine Florida

Bridge of Lions in St. Augustine Florida

When visiting St. Augustine, the oldest US city, there’s no way you can miss the grand view of the Bridge of Lions.  The Bridge of Lions connects downtown St. Augustine to Anastasia Island and it’s most outstanding feature of course are the gorgeous pair of Medici Lions made of marble which guard the bridge.  These amazing works were created by the Italian sculptor Romanelli of Florence Italy in the mid 1920’s and donated by close friend of Henry Flagler, Dr. Andrew Anderson.  The bridge is the National Register of Historic Places and has been lovingly restored as recently as 2010 for visitors to enjoy.

I took a stroll up the bridge after dinner one early evening to enjoy the gentle warm breeze rolling off Matanzas Bay.  Don’t be intimidated, it is a very walkable bridge.  It’s not too steep and you can always stop and enjoy the view when you need to.  There is lots of traffic but there are dedicated walkways and stoplights allowing pedestrians to explore every corner of St. Augustine by foot.

el Galeon and the Nao Victoria

During my trip there were two famous Spanish pirate style Galleon Ships docked at the Bridge of Lions, el Galeon and the Nao Victoria.  What is very interesting to me is that these ships are in actual use traveling the world stopping at places like St. Augustine.  When you visit these ships you get to meet and talk to the crew which are real sailors living on board.  If you get the chance you can come aboard and explore the ship and is many exhibits and displays.

el Galeon and the Nao Victoria

On the other side of the bridge you can enjoy the view of the great fort Castillo San Marcos.  From the bridge you can even see the giant cross just beyond the fort.  You can read more about that here:   It was very peaceful watching the boats floating gracefully all along the bay.  I  enjoy taking walks especially after a very filling meal.

Bridge of Lions in Historic St. Augustine Florida

If you enjoy running, marathons or triathlons you will be happy to find out there is an annual Bridge of Lions 5k race.  This year it took place at the end of July.

I’m sure if you’ve visited the city of St. Augustine that you have seen the Bridge of Lions but have you had the chance to walk it?

 

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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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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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World’s Most Helpful Types of Travel Apps

World's Most Helpful Types of Travel Apps

We work hard saving and planning for our vacations so here is something super easy that you can do to ensure a great vacation.  One thing is for sure and that is I always have my cell phone with me.  I take it everywhere I go.  It sure makes my life easier.  I highly recommend getting your cell phone ready before you leave for your trip.  One of my tips is to download helpful phone apps before you leave so you don’t have to worry about anything but having fun on your trip.

What is an app?

Cell phone apps also known as mobile apps are self contained programs which run on your phone.  The word app refers to application and in this case it is a software application.  Every time you read and email or access the internet on your phone you are using an app.  Apps can be downloaded and accessed directly on your phone.

The following are the types of travel apps you should look into.  You can find many free apps and most apps are less than $5.00.

Flight Notification

Flight apps have the ability to alert you about your flight, crowds and delays.  Some even have the ability to check and reserve your seat.

Language Translation

Very handy and helpful.  You can find an app for any language.

Maps

There’s no reason to get lost with a variety of local maps at your fingertips.  There are maps that alert you about the traffic and ones that provide you with local bus or subway travel information.  There are even very specific maps which can look up where to get gas, nearest restaurant, etc.

Daily Budget

Stay organized, track, save and submit travel expenses.  Create a budget and track your spending while you are traveling.

Currency Converter

Useful for time and accuracy.  Also great for comparing prices and seeing if your purchase is a good deal.

Weather

Check your local forecast and know what to take and what to wear.

Wifi Finder

Access hot Wifi spots in remote areas all around the world.  Some will even connect you automatically.

Backup and Security

There are apps that regularly back up your phones data and lets you acces it in the cloud.  Security apps scan your device for scams and malware.  Some also allow you to track your device via the web.

Health and Emergency

You never know when you might need medical attention or advice.  There are apps which give quick assistance on how to navigate though medical situations.  You can even create a personalized medical profile with insurance providers, emergency contacts and medications.

Another type of emergency situation detects your location and immediately pulls up access to local police, fire and hospitals.

Photo

Share and edit your photos.

Music

Create lists, play songs or tune in to your favorite station

Book Readers

Instantly download a book or a magazine through 3G or WiFi connections.

What are your favorite apps to use while traveling?

This post is part of the #WeDoTravel Series

Travel 250 button

The Charming – Travel Packing Essentials: Carry-on Luggage
Bella Vida – The Most Helpful Travel Apps
Whispering Sweet Nothings – How to Prepare for a Big Trip (like moving to Australia for a year!)
The Charming – Travel Packing Essentials: The Personal Item
Aubrey Zaruba – How to Plan Activities as Your Destination
A Yank in Yorkshire – Life as an Ex-Pat – An American in England
The Charming – How to Pack Your Camera Gear

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“If you never did you should. These things are fun and fun is good.” Dr. Seuss

“If you’re not having fun, you’re doing something wrong.” Groucho Marx

“In all of living, have much fun and laughter. Life is to be enjoyed, not just endured.”  Gordon B. Hinckley

“Half the fun of the travel is the esthetic of lostness.” Ray Bradbury

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9 Best Ways to Prepare Your Cell Phone Before Traveling

9 Best Ways to Prepare Your Cell Phone Before Traveling

Congratulations on your upcoming trip because the word recharge shouldn’t only apply to your cell phone.  Here are some great tips to ensure you have a great vacation.  These tips are geared specifically for your cell phone.  I know I’m never without one and can’t imagine being on vacation without one.

Check Your Phone Plan

First figure out the fine print on your phone plan to make sure you will have coverage at your destination.  If you don’t have coverage you can rent one locally.  Also make sure you understand any fees and charges that might be applied when calling to and from non local places.

Turn Off Data Roaming

In your phones settings turn off data roaming to avoid excess data fees.  Some programs are set for automatic downloads and updates which might cost you a lot of money depending on your plan.

Download Helpful Apps

Before you leave download any apps that might be useful to you.  Some really helpful one are: flight notification apps, map apps, itinerary apps, language translation apps, gas finder apps, daily budget apps, currency converter and weather apps.

Back Up Your Contacts

You should back up your phone contacts even when not traveling.  Apple phones can do automated backups to the cloud or itunes.  Android users can use Google for automated backups.  If you prefer you can also back them up manually.

Set Up Hot Spot Wifi

In your setting be sure to enable your WiFi to jump on free signals so you will be able to check email or use the internet.

Pack Phone Accessories

Make sure you pack your phone accessories in your carrying case and not your luggage.  Bring your earpiece, chargers, portable chargers, batteries, sturdy case, waterproof case, tripod, speakers, headphones, memory card, adapter, converter, etc.

 

Program Important Phone Numbers

Program important phone numbers so you have them on hand in case you need them.  Some important phone numbers are the numbers of your airline and direct number of your hotel.

Create a Back Up Using Your Camera Phone

You can use your camera phone to snap photos of important documents like your passport, license and id.  You can also snap photos of the contents of your carryon bag and luggage.  Snap photos of signs to help you remember where you parked or where you are going.

Download Books and Movies

Before you leave make sure download some entertainment like your favorite books and movies.  They will be useful in case you are stuck somewhere or it rains.

This is my top list of things I must do to prepare my cell phone before I travel.

Did I miss something?  Do you have any other tips to add?

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 “The computer in your cell phone today is a million times cheaper and a thousand times more powerful and about a hundred thousand time smaller than the one computer at MIT in 1965.” Stephen Hawking

 “If you neglect to recharge a battery, it dies. And if you run full speed ahead without stopping for water, you lose momentum to finish the race.”  Oprah Winfrey

“Laughter is an instant vacation.”  Milton Berle

When purchasing from the links I receive a commission.

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Blogging Tips & Social Media Tips Round Up

BVBL Blogging Tips

Today’s post is about the business of blogging. Here’s a roundup of helpful blogging tips and social media tips  I’ve written about previously on this site. Bookmark this page and feel free to peruse.



Blogging Tips
I’ve been blogging for over seven years and these are some useful things I wish I would have implemented from the very start.
5 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started Blogging 

The more you develop your voice the more successful you will become with your readers. Infusing your writing with your personality helps engage your audience. Revealing your personality gives you authenticity making you a reliable source to your audience.
10 Steps to Finding Your Blogs Writing Voice
10 Benefits of Guest Posting 

Some legalities you should know about advertising and endorsements.
Blogging Ethics & FTC Requirement of Full Disclosure 
Writer’s Block: 25 Things To Do When You Can’t Write

Top Reasons to Own A Domain 

Social Media Tips
100 Pinterest Tips & Ideas for Artists Photographers Creatives 
How to Embed an Instagram Photo 

Networking Tips
Blogging conferences are the perfect place to connect with people and keep up to date on what’s new in your industry.
How to Get Ready for a Blogger Conference 

Life & Business Tips
Regardless of industry or career, developing your style demonstrates mastery and professionalism.
Style is a Way of Life ~ Design Yourself 
Creating New Goals & Objectives 

How can I help you? Do you have any blogging or social media questions?

Leave them in the comments below. I’d love to help.



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Exploring the French Quarter in New Orleans, Louisiana

French Quarter Royal Street New Orleans Collage

When visiting New Orleans a trip to the French Quarter is an absolute must.  Stretching from the Mississippi River toward Esplande Avenue and Canal Street up to Rampart Street, the neighborhood is a feast for the eyes and bursting with things to do.  Precisely because there is so much to do and so many interesting facts to learn I recommend taking a tour from one of the locals.  Tours are numerous and are designed to entertain just about every taste.  I did the cemetery Voodoo tour of which a portion of the proceeds goes back into the community to assist in preservation efforts.  That tour was so fun I have to write up a separate post to tell you all about it.

French Quarter Streets Collage NOLA

Leaving our bed and breakfast in the Garden District we took a short ride down St. Charles Avenue to Canal Street in one of the city’s famous streetcars.  For a three dollar day pass you can hop on and off as much as you like.  They are a reliable source of transportation scheduled nine minutes apart.   It was a short walk to Cafe Beignet on Royal Street where we enjoyed a delicious breakfast of Cajun hash browns and coffee.   I love to eat and everyone I spoke with told me there was no bad food in NOLA.  They were not lying.  The people of New Orleans are super friendly and treated us well.  After breakfast we window shopped along the antique shop lined street and took in the architecture.

French Quarter architecture Collage NOLA

Founded in 1718 the French Quarter is New Orleans oldest neighborhood.   It was French Canadian, Sieur de Bienville, who came upon this crescent of the Mississippi River deemed safe from tidal surges and hurricanes.  Under his governorship New Orleans, which he named in honor of the Prince Regent of France, became the capital of French Louisiana and this its center.  Today the district is a National Historical Landmark containing numerous historical buildings.  Most of the surviving French Quarter architecture was built during the forty year of Spanish rule which we can see today expressed in colorful pastel walls and elaborately decorated ironwork balconies.  They stand today in part because the Spanish had stricter building codes and eliminated flammable materials like wood.

Jackson Square French Quarter New Orleans  Collage

Our trip coincided with the Red Dress Run, the biggest little red dress event in the world so everywhere we looked there were men and women in sexy red dresses.  The event is held the second Saturday of every August and is sponsored by the New Orleans Hash House Harriers, a social club of self proclaimed drinkers with running problems.  They spilled out of beautiful Louis Armstrong park and onto the streets of the French Quarter in a festive mood.  There was music and drinking going just as you would expect to happen after midnight at ten in the morning.  I must admit, their energy along with the very friendly people of NOLA had me in a such a great mood, the sweltering August heat had no chance of ruining my day.

After our Voodoo Cemetery tour we headed to Riverwalk in search of something cold to drink.  We ended up having a late lunch of scrumptious jambalaya partnered with a cold fruity drink called a Cherry Blossom at River’s Edge.  Following lunch we strolled past local artists displaying their latest works of art along the beautifully manicured landscaping of Jackson Square.  The main attraction is sculptor Clark Mills’s grand statue of Battle of New Orleans hero and U.S. President, Andrew Jackson.  The square is surrounded by historical landmarks like the old St. Louis Cathedral, the Louisiana State museum and the oldest apartment buildings in the United States.

corner french quarter

We then headed back to our quiet, clean and comfortable room in an elegant Greek Revival mansion for a long nap so we could party all night long on infamous Bourbon Street.  Do not miss visiting Bourbon Street, no matter how crowded and obnoxious, it was entertaining to say the least.  I couldn’t think of a better place for my first taste of absinthe than at the Old Absinthe House Bar.  Absinthe reminds me of the anise flavored Columbian drink, aguardiente.  I sipped it slowly so I was all good.  This bar is almost 200 years old and looks like it hasn’t been cleaned in at least 100 and the bathroom at least 300.  I guess the interesting characters that came in and out that night kind of made up for it.  People of all shapes, sizes and ethnicities having a great time together.

You know how I really like to dig in and explore the city.  I had to go back to the French Quarter one more time to visit more than the tourist scene on Bourbon Street.  I had to experience the local jazz music scene for myself.  On my last night we had a blast bar hopping on Frenchman Street.  None of the places had cover charges.  In between stops we ran into an open air art market to inspire my creative side. Every place I visited that night had live music and every single band was great.  Non stop dancing hula hoop girl can attest to that.  We hit up The Spotted Cat, Club Negril and Maison to name a few.  The atmosphere was festive and lots of people were dancing.

horse tie french quarter

I have wonderful memories of the French Quarter and I’m sure I’ll go back one day.

Have you been to the French Quarter?  What are your recommendations?

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“New Orleans food is as delicious as the less criminal forms of sin.”   Mark Twain

“I heard the singing of the Mississippi when Abe Lincoln 
went down to New Orleans, and I’ve seen its muddy 
bosom turn all golden in the sunset.”  Langston Hughes

“In the spring of 1988, I returned to New Orleans, and as soon as I smelled the air, I knew I was home. 
It was rich, almost sweet, like the scent of jasmine and roses around our old courtyard. 
I walked the streets, savoring that long lost perfume.”   Anne Rice

This is a sponsored post. Opinions are mine.

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Truth, Opinions & Lies: How to Deal With Rumors

A Lie Can Travel Halfway Around the World While the Truth is Still Putting On Its Shoes

A Lie Can Travel Half Way Around the World While the Truth is Still Putting On Its Shoes

 

When you are a descendant of the invisible people’s the truth becomes sacred.  At least it did for me.  For a long time I held ‘the truth’ close to me and it became precious.  I would use it often as a weapon, whipping it about and clobbering lies as hard as could until finally pounding the life out of the lie.  But holding on so tightly to the truth became a burden.  It’s painful to be rejected or ignored by those who just can’t handle the truth.  And I will concede, the truth can be a very hard pill to swallow.  Sometimes the truth can be as blinding and searing as staring directly at the sun for a preposterous amount of time.  I know I’ve been scarred by the truth way more than once.  I personally just prefer the truth to being lied too.

 

truth quote

“Truth is neither universal nor verifiable.”  Lee Gutkind

la bella vida tatoo

I found this photo while googling my brand Bella Vida.  It’s not me.  However, the point is, some people might believe it’s me.  I posted it on facebook as an experiment and I noticed not everyone read my comment stating this was not me.  My personal reaction was to laugh.  I’m non judgmental about things that have nothing to do with me but I’m sure it would offend some conservative family members or potential business contacts.  Yes, each person has a right to their opinion but what happens when people believe the lie?

I’m sure this has happened to everyone at one time or another regarding serious and sometimes not so serious issues be it at school, work or in your personal life.  I know I was particularly vulnerable as a teen when rumors can and do inflict emotional damage.

What has helped me get past this problem is having stopped judging others.  I stopped judging people long ago, and as journalist and debater it has become easier to separate opinions from facts.  Each of us shapes our opinions through the narrow scope of our life experiences.  No two people’s will be the same.  Therefore, I understand their opinion has everything to do about them and very little about me.  And I guess I’m so used to disagreeing and debating I don’t take it personally.  Most of the time anyway.  I can only try today to be better than I was yesterday.

 

Facts vs. Opinions

Facts are things demonstrated to exist or known to have existed and can be proven with evidence while opinions are judgment or belief not founded on certainty or proof rather are based on feelings, preferences or bias.

“Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.”  Marcus Aurelius

How to Deal with Rumors

  • Address the issue.  The first thing to do is to address the issue frankly and honestly.  When people don’t have complete information, they may fill in the gaps with suppositions that may not be accurate.
  • Set an example by refusing to get involved when others share gossip or rumors with you.
  • Perception is not reality. You know what’s true, and others important or close to you know what’s true.  Share the truth with your family and friends who have your back.
  • Some people will believe the rumors.  Try not to take it personally.  Opinions stem from the ego and are separate from the self.  A fascinating topic which Eckhart Tolle does a great job of explaining here.

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“Above all, don’t lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love.”   Fyodor Dostoyevsky

 “The liar’s punishment is, not in the least that he is not believed, but that he cannot believe anyone else.”  George Bernard Shaw

 “Don’t waste your time with explanations: people only hear what they want to hear.” Paulo Coelho

 “Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion against injustice and lying and greed. If people all over the world…would do this, it would change the earth.”   William Faulkner

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Welcome to BellaVidabyLetty.com ~ Top Reasons to Own A Domain

A Brand New Platform for Bella Vida by Letty

Bella Vida by Letty

 Welcome.  I’m so happy to launch and share my new site with you today.  Not only have I been published on several online magazines and news sites but I’ve blogged on various platforms such as blogger and tumblr since 2007.  While other pages and platforms may come and go, Bella Vida by Letty .com is here to stay.  It is the virtual control center for all of my online activities.

Bella Vida by Letty continues to expand.  My love of sharing information grows stronger everyday along with my writing.  I will continue to write powerfully about the subjects I’m passionate about such as: inspiration, art, empowerment, activism, Puerto Rico, travel, business, tips, etc.  Creating art in many forms is also an important part of who I am as a person.  I continue to work on my “Libertad pa’ las Muñecas” mixed media series as well as create photography, poetry, short stories, etc.  It’s my way of life.  My hope is to share the lessons and joy of my Bella Vida through my unique perspective.




Here are some of the reasons I made the leap to creating my own platform and maybe something to consider whether you are a blogger, journalist, writer or business.

Top Reasons to Own a Domain

Top Reasons to Own A Domain

– Full Control

I get to decide every miniscule detail from design to software and security.  Not conformed to templates, which everyone else has, I can customize pages.  This will be especially handy when I launch various products in the upcoming months.  I can also make changes when necessary.  Most importantly I have room to grow.

 

– Owning My Content

– Security

This is a major issue for me as an artist.  If you are blogging on other platforms such as Blogger, WordPress or Tumblr after reading the TOS you realize it’s either Google or the other companies mentioned who in fact own your blog.  If you violate any of their policies you are subject to being suspended and / or losing all of your works.

 

– Authenticity of my Brand ~ Bella Vida by Letty

– Professionalism

– Branding

I’ve cultivated my brand for several years now and it’s important to me, it be presented authentically and professionally because beyond being an artist I am also an entrepreneur.



Do you own your own dot.com?   Share it with me in the comments.

 

Please be sure you subscribe to receive future updates and stay in the know for several product launches and projects I have scheduled for later in the year.  In addition, I will be giving away a $50 Amazon gift card giveaway to celebrate the first month of my launch.

 

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“It wasn’t a beautiful face. But it was a nice face. It wasn’t a face that could launch a thousand ships. Maybe two ships and a small yacht.” Grant Naylor

 

“You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island of opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land; there is no other life but this.” Henry David Thoreau

 

 

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How to Create a Mission Statement

“To realize one’s destiny is a person’s only obligation.” Paulo Coelho

Mission Statement

There are many types of mission statements from business to personal.  I believe it’s worthwhile to invest in figuring out our own personal mission statement.  One thing successful and productive people have in common is focus on what they need to achieve.  A well thought out personal statement can give you focus and direction.

The mission statement should combine goals with your personal philosophy.  A Mission Statement defines purpose and primary objectives.  It should be simple, short and concise.  Begin by asking yourself what it is you would like to achieve in your lifetime.

Here’s mine

The Bella Vida by Letty mission is to enable all to live a beautiful life meaning that which feeds your spirit and is good for the planet.

What is your mission statement?
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“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.” Maya Angelou


“…But we also believe that part of our mission in life is to find our bliss and follow it. Life is a precious and delicate gift. How much of that gift do we squander out of fear?” Dianne Sylvan


“I say in speeches that a plausible mission of artists is to make people appreciate being alive at least a little bit. I am then asked if I know of any artists who pulled that off. I reply, ‘The Beatles did.” Kurt Vonnegut



“When you discover your mission, you will feel its demand. It will fill you with enthusiasm and a burning desire to get to work on it.” W. Clement Stone



“Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life; everyone must carry out a concrete assignment that demands fulfillment. Therein he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated. Thus, everyone’s task is unique as is his specific opportunity to implement it.” Viktor E. Frankl

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