Tag Archives: scenery

Montreal

“Rester, c’est exister; mais voyager, c’est vivre. – Gustave Nadaud
“To stay is to exist; to travel is to live.”

2017 came around; I found myself standing and the world around me spinning. It was one of those things where I wanted to take a hold of everything; all at once. It took me until the end of March to realize that in my attempt to grab everything, I just got dizzier as I barely held on to anything. School, work, traveling, bills, trying new hobbies, self-care…I thought I could do it all. Yea, I thought wrong. Time sped and here we are at the end of April.

So much for not having a quarter life crisis.

Well as I sit here reflecting on the past few months, I look back to February when a group of friends and I took a trip to Montreal, QC, Canada. Montreal was perfect from the culture to the scenic views. At this time, I didn’t know I was on a spinning spree, but this trip was refreshing; made me even more addicted to traveling and getting away.

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It was five of us; not everyone was familiar with each other, but we all started the journey with an open mind. We decided to make it a mini road trip and left before the sun was even awake (four of us; one was flying and meeting us there.) It was a nice drive and we didn’t hit not one ounce of traffic which, we loved. While waiting at the border we cracked opened our windows, to take pictures of the Canadian flag, and the air felt fresher. It was like breathing in a sense of relief and exhaling all my problems and discontent. I felt happy.

As soon as we crossed the border the signs changed from English to French. I celebrated. Anyone who knows me knows that I become super excited whenever I see or hear anything related to the French language or culture. I was ready to practice speaking all weekend! Yes, I was about to get on everyone’s last nerve…in a good way though!

When we arrived, we couldn’t find parking for the life of us. Guess some things just don’t change in any country. Well when we finally did and figured out the ridiculously expensive street parking situation, turns out our Airbnb wasn’t even ready. So there we are looking like we just woke up and needing showers, in uggs, stepping on slushy snow. So what we do? We decided to walk and search for food and booze. Our first stop was Station 16 Gallery. Contemporary art at its finest. Everything was bold and provocative. Self-expression to the max. Check out the site. It’s worth a look.

After the gallery and stopping at a few boutiques, we found a place to eat. McKibbin’s Irish Pub turned out to be the perfect place to have our first drinks. I had a beer (of course) and everyone else had Irish Coffee. I think this is where it finally hit us that we were in Canada.

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Eventually, we got dressed and looked civilized. It felt amazing. Also, let me not forget to mention how in LOVE I was with our Airbnb. If I could dream up my own apartment it would look exactly like the place we were staying in.

We went to the airport to pick up the last person missing from our group, Jadira, who apparently was stranded, with a dead phone and not knowing any valid French to communicate. It was quite funny especially because she was coming straight out of her intro to French course. Well once she was rescued, we headed straight for Old Montreal where Igloo Fest was taking place at Jacques-Cartier Pier.

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It was a great beginning to our night! We enjoyed a beautiful picturesque walk around Old Montreal. We stumbled across a cute small restaurant, Restaurant Le Fripon, where we had Canadian beer and snails….YES, snails. It tasted okay…I think it was the cheese and garlic; a little chewy for the most part. When we finally got to Igloo Fest it looked like one of those raging festivals I had no business being at. Fortunately, It wasn’t that hectic (EDM just isn’t my thing and neither is raging.) We took some shots, enjoyed the outside view and headed back to get ready for the rest of our evening.

We ended our Saturday at Muzique, which turned out to be across the street from where we were staying. Okay, so what I learned? When a country allows drinking and partying at 18+ DO NOT go out clubbing. Unless you specifically know it’s a school night and the kids will be in bed. I felt like I was at a college party. It was incredibly crowded and everyone was out of control. The funny part is that the bouncer let us skip the line because we were 21+. Ironic right? We made the best of it by dancing and laughing at what was happening around us. Felt like a teen movie could have been made out of it all the wild things we saw.

Sunday welcomed us with perfect (not so cold) weather. We went to Fabergé  for brunch where we probably waited about an hour or more to get seated. The place was small and the line was long (felt like a good sign.) It was absolutely worth it! We had the most delicious Poutine (potatoes with gravy and cheese,) and ate so much food it was somewhat ridiculous! Shrugs. I’m sure we would all do it again without thinking twice!

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Next stop was Mount Royal.  First, i’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

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The view was absolutely spectacular and truly breathtaking. I couldn’t stop staring at it. In that moment, I wanted to stay in Canada. It was covered in cold and frost but filled with serenity. I can close my eyes and feel the happiness I felt from looking at Montreal. Moments like that is why I love to travel.

We headed back to Old Montreal where we stopped to take a few pictures of the Notre-Dame Basilica, the first Gothic revival style church to be built in Canada.

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Old Montreal is spectacular. It looked even more beautiful in the rain…something about the wet cobblestone made it look more alive.

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We went to Les 3 Brasseurs for dinner. It was probably the most fun we had thus far during our trip! We started off with the beer sampler, which had a mix of white, blonde, amber, brown and IPA beers. How we managed to taste ALL the beers? Let’s just say we decided to “Be-er about it…” sip and pass until the cup was empty! We finished before we even got our main courses. 

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That night, for some odd reason, we decided to give clubbing another try. We started off at Tokyo Bar and ended at Apartment 200. I guess because it was a school night, there were barely any kids out! So yes, the night was a total success and a complete 180 from Saturday night. I had so much fun that by the end of the night, I shed a few tears because I didn’t want to go home. It was definitely bittersweet for it to be the last night; yet such a fun night.

Waking up on Monday was a bit difficult but we managed to leave by 11am. Before hitting the road we picked up some smoked meat at Schwartz Deli and some more Poutine for me. It was tasty just too much meat for a small piece of bread.

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… but with the last bites of our sandwich ended our trip in Montreal. We walked to the car, got lost trying to buy some souvenirs and off we were to our 6-hour drive back home.

It was a nice getaway, but it left me wanting more. I wanted more adventure and more moments to capture. Therefore, my spinning continued and I quickly started planning my next trip.

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Differences & Culture Plus A Wedding

“To love and be loved is to feel the sun from both sides” – David Viscott

Santi(Located at the old airport)

Earlier this month one of my best friends got married to the love of her life. I took a plane to Santiago de los Caballeros (Santiago,) Dominican Republic and watched my friend say I do with so much joy and happiness in her eyes. After 11 years of friendship; after all the wondering as to who would get married first, we saw how terribly wrong we were in thinking I would be the first to walk down the isle in anything other than a bridesmaid dress!

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Though I am of Dominican descent (from Santa Bárbara de Samaná) I actually haven’t been to the Dominican Republic since I was probably six or seven years old. Needless to say, that as soon as I stepped foot on Dominican ground I experienced serious culture shock.

I could go into this rant about culture and identity; what it felt like to be classified as Dominican-American or how it felt to not be considered Dominican at all but, simply American. However, at the end of the day I know who I am and what I am. So why focus on that?

Instead, I’ll focus on everything that left me in awe like the streets and it’s colors, the liveliness, the heat (love hot weather,) the poverty, the music (that I enjoy so much,) the simplicity, the crazy driving (You won’t ever catch me driving over there!) but most importantly the WEDDING!

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The streets amazed me. There was so much liveliness, it was a raw image of simplicity. Its beauty magnified with the happiness of the people that inhabited the surroundings.

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The driving was insane! I think I would suffer from anxiety if I had to drive over there. For starters I hate driving in narrow streets! I think I suffer from claustrophobia when I’m driving because I cringe whenever I drive in super tight streets. So lets imagine me driving in a bunch of narrow streets with close to no traffic lights and huge cars (oh I also hate driving big cars) I would cry! But this is what I appreciate about traveling, coming in contact with all the differences you find in the midst of all that is going on around you. Ultimately, it is what gives your trip meaning and gives you long lasting memories.

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I was only in Santiago for the weekend (Thursday-Sunday.) Therefore, I wasn’t able to explore as much as I wanted too. However, I was able to accompany Mayra (the bride) and her now husband on their pre-wedding photo-shoot which, allowed me to visit a few areas and discover some beautiful locations.

We visited three spots where the amazing photographer was able to capture amazing pictures of the couple:

1. Monumento A Los Heroes De La Restauracion (Monument to the Heroes of the Resurrection)
2. Fortaleza San Luis (St.Luis Fortress)

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3. Antiguo Aeropuerto (Old airport)

After the photo-shoot while driving back I was able to witness the poverty in the city. It’s always shocking to see so much poverty; it really makes you appreciate everything you have. People visit these tropical islands and sometimes forget that in the midst of such beauty there is a deep sadness and need within.

After the pre-wedding activities and getting to know the city a little better finally, came the day of the wedding. Everyone was super excited for the big day! We had the best make-up artist in the city turn us into celebrities and our hair came out absolutely perfect! I felt gorgeous but most importantly, Mayra looked absolutely stunning!!

The ceremony was beautiful and the reception was spectacular. It’s always breathtaking to see a love story unfold and bloom. From beginning to end the night was magical filled with lots and lots of dancing and laughter; of course can’t forget the Presidente (Dominican beer) lots of that too…the entire weekend actually!

I almost even missed la hora loca (the crazy hour) because of a quick bathroom break! Definitely one of the funnest parts of the wedding. There we celebrated the infamous carnival (Dominican style of course) with los Diablo Cojuelo. It was super cool because she had a photographer taking Polaroid pictures to pass to people as souvenirs (yes, I took one.) It fills my heart with joy that my best friend got the day she deserved and I only wish her many more blessings to come.

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Thank you Mayra for being a great friend and for the trust you enlisted in me to help make your day one for you to always remember. I couldn’t be more proud of you and I am happy to continue to be a part of your life!