un aguacate a la vez

Travel

GUEST POST | How to Spend 24 Hours in Miami

Guest Posts, TravelPaula LandrónComment
Pic via  @PaulaLandron

You can find a new yoga studio, café or club in Miami every weekend. There always seems to be something to do in this city. As long as you don’t mind the 70-80% humidity and 90+ degree weather, you’ll be bound to have some fun. 

Tip #1: Bring water with you at all times.

I lived in Miami for three years, therefore, I’m going to tell you what I would do in Miami on a Saturday on the regular:

9AM Panther Coffee

Amazing espresso and they have macadamia milk (if you haven’t tried it, it’s worth the try). They have various locations, but I recommend the one in Wynwood because post-coffee you will have some yoga to do! 

10:30AM Wynwood Yoga

A cool yoga studio with amazing vibes and awesome classes. The 10:30 AM Hot Power Vinyasa is my favorite! #BeThere

12PM Plant Miami

Post yoga you’re going to want to eat something since you only had an espresso and dropped all your worries (and calories) on your mat. If I were you I would go to Plant Miami for some vegan delights. They have a beautiful garden, with zen vibes.

2PM Perez Art Museum

After your lunch you’re going to want to chill and be indoors because it’s too hot to be outside during lunchtime in Miami.

Hit up the Pérez Art Museum. Their gift shop has items you won’t find anywhere else.  Chill out in their restaurant, Verde, while soaking up the view.

4PM Bike Ride

By the time you leave the museum, the sun has gone down (hopefully). Rent a CITI bike, cross the Venetian Causeway and you’re in South Beach. Admire the mansions and feel the ocean breeze while getting your second workout of the day in.

6PM LIDO Restaurant & Celestial Treasures

Post-workout you’re going to want to have a drink. On your way back to Downtown Miami on Venetian Causeway you can find LIDO, the restaurant at The Standard. Amazing oceanside views. The hotel is art deco inspired. Sangria, please. #Cheers.

If you want to get spiritual, go to Celestial Treasures in Coconut Grove. They sell stones, books, incense, candles, and tarot cards. Every souvenir you can imagine for your crystal collection or for your bruja girlfriends back home.

8PM Lagniappe

If you want a chill night out with friends in a place that’s not as pretentious as the rest of Miami, you can’t leave without drinking wine in Lagniappe. Buy a bottle (or two), sit down wherever you want, order a cheese platter and talk your night away. It closes at 2AM.

10PM Go Clubbing!

Luckily, you’re in Miami and you can go clubbing at LIV, MYNT, or STORY, dance house until sunrise at Trade or Space or grab late night munchies at La Moon in Brickell.

Enjoy, 

Paula

Paula Landrón

Meet our Guest Blogger

Paula Landron is a meditation, fitness instructor and blogger behind thedeeplifestyle.com. She enjoys exploring different ways to express her
true self through poetry, workouts on the beach, or dancing deep house late night in Miami. Born in Puerto Rico, she loves the simplicity of island life. She began her fitness journey at 17 by giving free Zumba classes in her high school. She continued her journey at the University of Miami where she created her signature workout class, DEEP®. Since then she has taught classes at Equinox and private events in Puerto Rico. She also hosts women empowerment circles and workouts at the beach. This website is an outlet for conscious creative
expression

GUEST POST | I Completed a Master's Degree in Barcelona with Zero Debt. Here's How I Did It!

Real Talk, Travel, CareerKrystel SierraComment

People often speak about the midlife crisis, but little is told about the mid-20’s struggle. I was experiencing it at 25, when life isn’t how you thought it would be and childhood expectations vanish in front of you.

I had finished my bachelor’s degree at 20 and had a stable 8-to-5 job. I had been saving money to do a master’s degree someday. Nonetheless, something was missing. I was not happy. I felt stuck, with little to no growth opportunities and a routine that was killing me.

I had searched for jobs in and out of Puerto Rico, and when I got called and interviewed for a worldwide Public Relations agency in Miami, I was super excited. The interview went well but then I was told that the only thing I was lacking was “agency experience”. But how could I get it if no one was willing to give me the opportunity to “train” me? I had decided that if I didn’t get that job, I would do a master’s degree that allowed me to do an internship. After getting rejected, that would be it.

At first I had considered a university in the United States but discarded the idea. I was not willing to take a loan worth a house to pay for a degree. That was when I began considering Europe, where education  is more affordable. Also, I had fallen in love with the continent and its lifestyle since my first vacations. There I felt home, I fitted in. I had spent my whole life putting everyone before me and it had taken a toll on my emotional health. I needed to get away in order to find myself, grow and be happy.

I needed to get away in order to find myself, grow and be happy.
— Krystel Sierra

After a lot of research, I found a great program from the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. It was what I wanted: in Public Relations, affordable, with internship opportunities, and abroad. I applied, was accepted and began all the paperwork. I never thought about it so much. If I did, I would eventually be overwhelmed with all that could go wrong. I was leaving everything I knew, a home, and a stable job to move to a city I had never been to, thousands of miles away. I told my plans to my parents, who didn’t hesitate a second in supporting me. I cried when I sent the first tuition payment  because I knew there was no turning back. That day, my life changed forever.

krystel sierra traveling

A lot of people wonder how I was able to pay for it. I come from a very humble family and I had to fully support myself. When you grow up struggling, you learn that money is no joke. Due to that, I was a compulsive saver. One of the things I am prouder of, is that I didn’t take a single loan. I worked hard since I was 17 and saved for as long as I remember. I was a very dedicated student and that paid off too. I had won a scholarship that I saved strictly for educational purposes. I would rather drive my very old car, bring lunch everyday to work, buy clothes one time a year, and go to the movies once every few months than spend a scholarship on material things. I had plenty of spreadsheets to calculate my monthly expenses in Barcelona. I knew how much money I needed, I had calculated the risks and it was now or never.

barcelona

A week before moving, I cried every night. I had the occasional second-guessing but a friend -whom I had previously encouraged to study abroad- told me, “you are scared now but once you land here, you will not know why you were so afraid.” And she was right. I packed two big suitcases, set up my blog Chase the Feeling where I would document my journey,  and moved to Barcelona. I lived in a shared room at the university. The first time I walked around the city, I knew I was where I meant to be.

Of course, despite the beauty of Barcelona, the first two weeks were incredibly hard. It was exhausting to figure out every bureaucratic paperwork that came with moving to a foreign country. So it was adjusting to share a room with a stranger, figuring out the transportation system, doing grocery shopping and learning how the ingredients were called there. It was hectic but it all fell into place. In October, I went to the program’s welcome meeting. We were divided into work groups that would last until the end of the master’s. It was the beginning of the most amazing year of my life.

krystel sierra

A month into it I had mastered the transportation system, the grocery shopping, adapted to the teaching style, and made a best friend whom I call now my sister.

My next goal was to land an internship. To my surprise, the university didn’t have placement, so it was basically like a job search. I applied and sent e-mails to plenty of local PR agencies every day. By the end of November, I had landed my internship. Now it was a matter of balancing an almost full-time job with classes, group meetings, presentations, and adulthood responsibilities. But there’s nothing in life that you can’t do if you work hard for it. My internship experience was enriching. I learned a bit of catalán, my coworkers were very supportive and I earned the “agency experience” I was looking for.

krystel sierra inglaterra

I wanted to travel too. Before leaving Puerto Rico, I had budgeted a trip to Munich to meet with my sister in January. Also, I had set myself a monthly allowance for traveling wherever I could afford. I eventually became an expert at budget travel and visited more countries than I thought I would. My first trip was to Iceland in December to see the Northern Lights -which I didn’t get to see- but I will forever dream of the Blue Lagoon and the country’s breathtaking nature. Then the Christmas break arrived. I spent my first holidays away from my family, but joined my friend and her relatives in northern Germany and later in Girona, Spain. In January, I was beyond happy with my sister in Munich, a city I fell in love with.

My next trips were highly spontaneous and based on opportunities that came along.  I ended up visiting Munich two times to attend football matches (THE dream), Italy, and England. Google Flights is a blessing with its calendar of ridiculously low fares. Traveling within Europe is very affordable. With what you spend on a weekend in Puerto Rico, you can visit three cities in Italy and cover ALL expenses. I would also go out every weekend to lose myself in the city I now call home. La meva Barcelona. I visited museums, landmarks, beaches, markets, and nearby cities like Sitges and Montserrat. But it was not all fun and games.

With 2017 kicking in, it was time for my next goal: to move from the university dorms to an apartment in Barcelona city. Looking for pisos in Barcelona is a nightmare. The demand is extremely high and so are the prices. I had to stay on budget so when I was about to give up, I found a great apartment shared with two people – a guy from Ecuador and a girl from Poland. They became my family and I will always cherish our time as housemates.

Motivated by my love for languages, I searched for opportunities to learn German. Gladly, I discovered a summer program at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich. It was perfect and affordable and as my spending projections were accurate -plus I was earning a bit as an intern- I enrolled. After finishing my degree, I would move to Germany.   

krystel sierra
krystel sierra iceland

Back to college life, I will not say that everything was perfect. The teaching style is based a lot on you figuring things out on your own. It’s designed with a professional approach rather than academic. Also, the grading is subjective, rather than based on a mathematical sum of points. Naturally it was a challenge to create our final project: a Public Relations plan for one of the biggest toy makers in the world. However, with countless of hours of hard work, Whatsapp conversations and Sunday meetings, we did it.  We presented our plan to the client in June, had a graduation a few days later, and it was over.

graduation krystel sierra

I had proven to myself how strong I was. I cried, I laughed, I fell, and I got up. I thought that the most valuable thing that I would obtain was a master’s degree, but it wasn’t. My experiences as an immigrant, an international student, an intern, a solo traveler, and an adult away from home made me better, stronger, more tolerant, smarter, independent, more respectful, and optimistic. It helped me believe in myself more, be spontaneous and see the good in people. The people. It was those whom I met and the relationships I developed what I cherish the most. If there is a reason why I would do it all over again, it is so I would have them in my life.

krystel sierra friends
krystel sierra friends

In August I moved to Munich to learn German. It was an intensive three-week course. I took lessons every day, made new friends, experienced the city in the summer and, of course, attended a Bayern Munich football match. I even got my jersey signed by my favorite player. Life doesn’t get a lot better than that. I finished the course and did a 3-day trip to Poland, Czech Republic and Austria. Then I went back to Barcelona. After a year, it was time to get my bags and fly to Puerto Rico. I was devastated for what I was leaving behind, but hopeful for the future. Now I have a different mindset, friends in almost every continent and a clear goal in mind: to eventually relocate to Europe.

The biggest lessons I learned from this experience? The most important thing in life is happiness.

Experiences are better than possessions and material things. You can live with a lot less than you think. Meaningful relationships are what stay when all else vanishes. When you are determined and believe in yourself, you can achieve anything. Set your goals, work on a plan but let life surprise you. And last but not least, when you follow your passions, you are on the right track.

If you have ever considered studying abroad, do it. I encourage anyone to take on the challenge of moving and immersing themselves in a completely different culture. You are not only growing academically or professionally, but also as a person. And at the end of the day, that is the experience you will treasure the most.

Screen Shot 2018-04-02 at 4.33.25 PM.png

   Meet our Guest Blogger

Hello there, I’m Krystel and I'm the blogger behind Chase the Feeling and the creator of the Chase the Feeling Travel Planners. Born in the 90’s, I love music, football ⚽, and The Office. Cat person, old soul, and languages enthusiast -I’m bilingual (English and Spanish), currently learning German. I've also studied Italian and French but I want to improve a lot more. I enjoy writing and learning about different topics. I will always google anything I don’t know and open too many tabs at once. 

 

 

Want to stay in touch? Follow me on Instagram or Twitter!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shop my Travel Planners here

10 Things I Learned During My First Trip to Europe

TravelMaría Elena RodríguezComment
versailles trip diary

Hey guys! I'm back from my three weeks vacation in Europe and ready for a fresh start with ambinity. Sorry I missed our usual schedule (once a week, every Wednesday), but between the jet lag and just genuinely wanting to take a break, it was pretty hard to get back on track. #FirstWorldProblems, I know. But don't worry, you will see a new blog post this Wednesday, and I promise it will be a good one!  ;) 

Instead of doing a travel diary and bore you with a bunch of pictures that you probably already saw on Instagram, I wanted to share with you guys what I learned from this wonderful three week European Vacation in the hopes of inspiring you to make the decision too if you haven't yet! So without further do, here you go: 

1. The world is smaller than I thought

Before going to Europe, I thought every country in the Easter Hemisphere was almost unreachable. And even though it is definitely far from Puerto Rico, visiting it for the first time makes me think about all the wonderful possibilities outside my comfort zone. I may have checked a bunch of stuff off my bucket list, but I definitely added a lot more to-see's! 


2. There's no better classroom than traveling

I used to be the history nerd in high school. I loved learning about how a country became what it is through interesting people in history. I specially remember Pompeii, a city drowned by lava centuries ago, so watching it for the first time was definitely surreal and of course, highly educational. 


3. I am more aware of my surroundings 

I'm not just talking about keeping an extra eye on pocket pickers. I could literally take a break from the tens of thousand steps we took each day and be entertained by watching how people interact, act and even treat their dogs. People are interesting! You don't even have to talk to them to learn this. Try it! 

versailles selfie


4. it's not a myth: Parisians do have the best style ever

And speaking about people watching, you have to see Parisian women to actually believe what everyone says. Yes, they are in fact stylish, sexy and careless! I could definitely sense that je ne sais quoi.


5. We need more fresh food! 

Everything in Europe felt fresher and tastier, but much less seasoned than what I'm used to. Even though it was weird at first, I got used to eating with less seasoning pretty quickly, because I could actually enjoy the true flavors of the ingredients in my food.

Like everything, it is a matter of getting used to it. 


6. I love to eat, like, a LOT.

I specially learned this in Madrid, thanks to Mercado San Miguel and Mercado San Ildefonso. #oink 


7. When it comes to sparkling wine, I love Cava but hate Prossecco. 

What can I say? I loved Spain! 

8. Puerto Rico's colonial status is too sad/ hard to explain.

Hate to get all political here, but I felt the need to vent this. If you don't already know, Puerto Rico is one of the last colonies in the world and we have been since more than a 100 years. It is sad to explain this situation with fellow Hispanics and Europeans. I know we are worth so much more than what we credit ourselves for! 

versaille gardens


9. Luxury brands based in Europe cost almost half the price than in America – Jackpot! 

Remember that blog post about luxury goods I wrote a while bag? I actually purchased one of those things for actually half the price in America! Let me know if you want to know what I'm talking about. ;)

10. There is no better way to invest your money than traveling

No matter all the material things that I purchased in Europe, I would always compare it to my future trip. No money in the world can compare to the experiences that you gain while flying overseas. 

That's it guys! Let me know in the comments bellow where are you traveling next!

Until next time, 

María Elena

Carry-On Essentials

TravelMaría Elena RodríguezComment
carry on essentials

If you follow me on Twitter you probably know by now that today I will be traveling to Europe for the first time in my life. And by the time you read this I will probably be on a plane. It has been a hectic first half of the year so far, so I really need these vacations. But even though I was exhausted and I feel like I've been running a marathon through life these past couple of weeks, I wanted to leave a blog post scheduled and let you know that I won't be posting a new blog post in the upcoming weeks. Mama needs a break! But I will be posting on social media on the regular, specially on Instagram with the tag #ambinityTravels, so make sure you're following me if you want to know what I'm up to. 

I'm still debating if I will be vlogging from Europe! but you will see a recap once I come back 3 weeks from now.

So here you go! What I'm packing for Europe on my carry on:

(It doesn't look glam, but it is real.)

carry on traveling essentials

First things first: i'm using a Kipling Ayana handbag and loving it! Grab it here on sale

My nighttime routine basics:

carry on entertainment

Entertainment:

Hygiene:

  • Baby Wipes - Don't buy feminine ones, my OBGYN told me they are basically the same but cheaper. ;)
  • Tampons/ Pads
  • Panty liners
  • Deodorant

Personal Items:

And last but not least, I like to keep everything in little bags so it's categorized (#TypeA). So I created this very low quality video for you guys. Hope you enjoy it! 

Shop the Feed:

5 Ways to Have a Chic Staycation

Travel, LifestyleMaría Elena RodríguezComment
el san juan hotel pool

According to Urban Dictionary, a staycation is essentially "a vacation that is spent at one's home enjoying all that home and one's home environs have to offer". So my definition of a chic staycation is enjoying your hometown in the most lavish way. It doesn't matter if you're on a budget or not! Keep reading and you'll see I have you covered. ;) 

In Puerto Rico we all enjoy spring break at the same time: it's called Easter. We usually have the Thursday and Friday (Good Friday) before Easter Sunday off, so many of us just take the entire week for a cool trip. I went on California Roadtrip last year! (Read about it here, here and here). 

But sometimes life happens and we just don't have the budget, are saving some money or just want to stay home during this long weekend. So here's your solution: 

Enjoy yourself by the water

Shop a similar swimsuit  here . 

Shop a similar swimsuit here

I think by now, you all know I'm all about treating myself! So when El San Juan Hotel Team contacted me about their wonderful renovations, I knew I wanted to review their amenities first hand for you guys. If you grew up in the Metropolitan Area of Puerto Rico, this hotel is famous for being a prom season star and one of our first night club experiences (Brava!). But now that we've all grown up into valuable millennials (note the sarcasm), what about taking advantage of its wonderful location and amenities to have fun in San Juan?!

The Hotel has a huge pool with wonderful areas to work on your tan and order a few drinks, without ever having to leave the pool. Plus, the hosts are constantly giving you complimentary treats and cucumber water! 

On a budget? Visit your favorite beach/ lake/ river and give yourself a 5 star treatment with your favorite drink, fruits and a cute umbrella like this one

Find a cool spot and listen to your favorite music

Picture provided by El San Juan Hotel team. 

Picture provided by El San Juan Hotel team. 

I have been receiving invitations to the Chico Cabaret Lounge in El San Juan for a while now so I was very excited to actually visit them last weekend. I had the opportunity to listen to live Latin music while sipping some sparkling wine and savoring a decadent chocolate bark.

It was a beautiful experience and I can't wait to come back one of these days now that Calma Carmona is a regular every Thursday. If you haven't listened to her, please go listen to her while you read this post. It will be a perfect romantic date for my boyfriend and I. 

On a budget? Call your friends or that special someone over to your place and play some of your favorite relaxing music over some wine. I bet some good conversations will develop! Here's a cool bluetooth speaker to set the mood.

Find a cool brunch spot!

el hotel san juan brunch
el san juan resort brunch buffet

If you're staying in a hotel or even sleeping in your home, few things make you feel more pampered than a nice brunch. Dessert for breakfast and late mornings = LIFE. 

I had the opportunity of enjoying El San Juan's newest brunch, which is included with your stay and it is SO good, guys! Their waffle and omelette stations are both to die for! Highly recommended. I even gotta go ahead and say that it was way better than one fancy hotel I visited recently for double the price...

On a budget? Call your friends or family over and make your favorite waffle recipe (here's a budget friendly waffle maker). Bonus points if you make mimosas for everyone! 

Enjoy some quality time with someone you love

el hotel san juan brunch

Whenever my boyfriend can't make it to one of my events or special invitations, my mom is the one who gets pampered! So she was the one who came with me for our lovely stay at El San Juan Hotel. She had such a great time by the pool reading her HGTV Magazine (her favorite!) and working on her much needed tan. 

Again, few things make me happier than watching my mom smile. So if you're looking for ways to recharge this spring break, look around you. Make someone you love smile!

On a budget? No problem. ;)

Embrace your surroundings 

beach umbrella
Similar hanging chair  here . 

Similar hanging chair here

Gotta say I try my best to not take for granted the fact that I live in a beautiful tropical island in the middle of the Caribbean. One way I do so, is trying to enjoy my surroundings as much as I can. I look around me and just be greatful of all the beauty that surrounds me every day. From beautiful blue skies to the wonderful decoration of a space.  

Also, try to go outside, read a book or just go for a run. Even if you live in a less tropical environment, it's always good a good idea to go out and enjoy some fresh air. Even if it requires a little more clothing. ;)

Talking about enjoying your surroundings... I'm in love with this hanging chair space at the hotel. I would suggest you invest in a similar hanging chair like this one. Perfect reading space! 


I would love to know what are your plans for this Easter! Are you having a staycation or traveling? Let me know in the comments bellow. 

PS: If you would like to enjoy a weekend at El San Juan Hotel, you can make your reservations online clicking here

Until next time, 

María Elena

 

Shop Staycation Basics:

Spring Break Essentials

Lifestyle, Money, Fashion, TravelMaría Elena RodríguezComment
spring break essentials

Swimsuit (it's reversable!) | Clutch | Aviators | Hat | Book | Tinted Moisturizer

Ahh Spring Break! The first taste of summer and freedom if you're in school or a clear reminder you need a two week vacation ASAP if you're a full time employee. Here in Puerto Rico we celebrate holy Thursday and Good Friday, which means we have a 4 day weekend. So I decided this could be a great time to enjoy some much needed self care and enjoy yourself under the sun with these Spring Break Essentials:

A One Piece Swimsuit

I've been going crazy looking for the perfect one piece swimsuit until I finally found the right one (similar to this one) at Old San Juan's Marshalls. I just love how one piece swimsuits make you feel sexy but sophisticated. Plus they keep your boobs right in place!  

Here are some fun suggestions:

The Right Skincare and Makeup 

I know what you're thinking. Why would you wear makeup when your out in the water or sweating? Because SPF Tinted Moisturizers exists my dear! Plus, you better take care of those lips while enjoying the sun or you won't be kissing anybody soon. 

Make sure you bring some strong sunscreen like this one by Coola, a good tinted moisturizer like this one by Nars I've been enjoying so far and some moisturizer (I enjoy facial oils like this one).

Click away, thank me later! 

An Embroidery Floppy Hat

If you are not familiar with this huge fad on Instagram, you are probably not following enough fashion bloggers. All I know is once I saw that super expensive "Do Not Disturb" hat I knew I wanted it ASAP. How cool will you look poolside with a mojito in your hand?!

Here are some budget options:

Beach Bags

If you're like me, you hate carrying purses to the beach or pool side! But where else will you carry all your sunscreen and lip balm?! With tropical clutches like this one of course! 

Here are some more budget friendly options:

Black Sunglasses

I've been obsessed with these very Kardashian-esk black on black Aviator Ray-Bans lately because they make any outfit look instantly bad ass. I love Ray-Ban as a brand because they are such great quality compared to other luxury sunglasses, but if you're looking for a more budget friendly, these Quay x Desi Perkins could be a great option. I must say I am kind of tempted.

Here are some options for you:

Reading Material

Don't forget to bring your favorite magazine and a good beach book. I would suggest going for fiction instead of business or self help books just to keep our mission of being relaxed. But if that's your jam, OK! 

Here are some of my suggestions:


What are your spring break essentials? Let me know in the comments bellow. 

Until next time, 

María Elena

Old San Juan City Guide

TravelMaría Elena RodríguezComment
old san juan travel guide

If you ask me what three things I love most about Puerto Rico I would tell you, in no particular order: the food, the culture and our beautiful sights everywhere you go. That's why I've had in my to-do's to create an Old San Juan City Guide for all of you who haven't visited Puerto Rico yet. And of course, these are all local recommendations. You're so welcome! 

Before I begin with this list, let me tell you how hard to choose the best places to visit in Old San Juan was. It's such a magical city filled with joy, culture, cool people and most importantly, great coffee! If you consider yourself a creative person, there's no way you won't feel inspired after visiting this colonial city in just the first hour.

So here you go! The best places to shop, eat and entertain in Old San Juan:

Shopping

El Galpón

el galpón hats old san juan
el galpón old san juan

I'm a huge believer in buying souvenirs that you can actually wear or at least take some use out of them. It's hard for me to understand why people buy useless things as travel gifts when they could actually make it a point to look for something that has a meaning tied to each place they visit. Something that when they see or wear, reminds them of all the fun memories in that place.

So I don't know about you, but investing in an authentic handmade Panama hat from El Galpón in Old San Juan sounds pretty legendary to me! These hats are not only handmade, but designed by the store owner, Gustavo Lerner. El Galpón's attention to detail and personalized customer service will make your experience a memorable one. I can assure you will not leave the store without the perfect hat for your lifestyle! 

And if you're looking for a fancier take on your favorite hats, you can always check out their high-end brand, Galpon.co online or in their store. 

More information:

  • Address: 154 Cristo St. San Juan, Puerto Rico

  • Contact: 787-725-3945

  • Business Hours:

    • Monday-Saturday 10:00AM-6:00PM

    • Sunday 11:00AM-5:00PM

 

Collective Request

collective request old san juan

Collective Request started out as one of the best online stores in Puerto Rico and evolved into boutiques in Old San Juan and Guaynabo. As I said in my previous Old San Juan Shopping Guide, this is the perfect store for capsule wardrobe staples! 

Plus, it doesn't hurt the beautiful aesthetics of this Old San Juan boutique, which will help you experience true Puerto Rican design in all aspects.

More information:

  • Address: 159 Calle de la Luna, Old San Juan, PR.

  • Contact: 787-977-7707

  • Business Hours:

    • Monday-Sunday 10:00AM-7:00PM

*You can enjoy 1 hour of free parking at La Cochera. 

 

LUCA

luca viejo san juan

I talked a little bit about Luca in my old post about local shopping in Old San Juan as well. If you really want to know the best place for modern and super stylish pieces of jewelry and clothing, look no further! They also have beautiful minimal stationary, which would be a perfect souvenir for the writer in your life. 

More information:

  • Address: 255 Calle de La Cruz San Juan Puerto Rico 00901.

  • Contact: 787-725-3512

  • Business Hours:

    • Monday-Friday 10:00AM-6:00PM

    • Saturday 11:00AM-6:00PM

    • Sunday CLOSED

 

Pure Soul

pure soul viejo san juan
pure soul old san juan

This place is always in my visit list whenever I'm in Old San Juan. It's the perfect place for Anthropology and Urban Outfitters lovers. The only difference is you'll find items created by local designers. The perfect unique gift shop!

More information:

  • Address: #258 San Justo St. San Juan, PR 00901

  • Contact: 787-723-2800

  • Business Hours: Pending confirmation*

Food & Coffee

Waffle-Era

wafflera old san juan
wafflera old san juan
wafflera caneloide

If you love waffles of any kind, this place will be your HEAVEN. My favorite kind to order in Waffl-era (also known as "La Wafflera" by locals) is the Caneloide. It is the perfect combination of pecans, cinnamon, cream cheese and sugar. Can't miss this one! Also, this is a great place for tea lovers! 

More information:

  • Address: 252 Calle San Jose Street San Juan, Puerto Rico

  • Contact: 787-721-1512

  • Business Hours:

    • Monday 8:30AM-3:00PM

    • Tuesday 9:00AM-5:00PM

    • Wednesday-Friday 8:30AM-3:00PM

    • Saturday-Sunday 9:00AM-3:00PM

St. Germain & El Mezzanine

Picture  via

Picture via

Picture  via

Picture via

In this building you will find everything you need: Booze, coffee and food! Love good food and coffee? St. Germain has a great lunch and brunch menu! Love fancy cocktails and rooftops at night? El Mezzanine has some of the best cocktails in town. Plus, it has some beautiful interiors so you can enjoy your tapas while you appreciate this colonial city. 

More information:

  • Address: 156 Calle Sol, San Juan, 00901

  • Contact: 787- 725-5830

  • Business Hours:

    • Monday - 10:00AM-4:00PM/ 6:00PM-11:00PM

    • Tuesday-Friday - 11:30AM-4:00PM/ 6:00PM-11:00PM

    • Saturday - 11:30AM-11:00PM

    • Sunday - 10:00AM-3:00PM/ 6:00PM-11:00PM

Casa Cortés Chocobar

casa cortes chocobar old san juan

Chocolate lovers rejoice! This is the best place to indulge your sweet tooth with their signature hot chocolate (local's favorite) and their creative dishes. 

Love art? I would suggest checking out their gallery upstairs. 

More information:

  • Address: 210 San Francisco Street, San Juan, P.R. 00901

  • Contact: 787-722-0499

  • Business Hours:

    • Monday-Sunday: 8AM-8PM

Caficultura

Pic via  Coastal Living

If you ask me my favorite place to have brunch in Old San Juan, Caficultura would be it! But I must warn you, because of it's location right in the entrance of the city, it can be full of tourists. Nevertheless, I can assure you it will still be amazing and their coffee is to die for! 

More information:

  • Address: 401 San Francisco St. San Juan, Puerto Rico

  • Contact: 787-723-7731

  • Business Hours:

    • Monday 7:30AM-4:00PM

    • Tuesday-Sunday 7:30PM-6PM

Cuatro Sombras

Pic via  Facebook

Pic via Facebook

Hands down, my favorite Puerto Rican coffee ever! It is a beautiful place to enjoy your coffee after a hard day of shopping.  

More information:

  • Contact: 787-724-9955

  • Address: 259 calle recinto sur, San Juan, Puerto Rico

  • Business Hours:

    • Monday-Thursday 7:00AM-8:00PM

    • Friday-Sunday 7:00AM-9:00PM

 

Sightseeing

Castillo San Felipe del Morro (aka El Morro)

Picture via Expedia

Picture via Expedia

Definetely can't visit Puerto Rico without touring El Morro! You will learn all about out Spanish heritage while you enjoy one of the most beautiful views in the Island. 

Locals' tip: Bring your kite and picnic for a great afternoon under the sun. Just don't forget your sunblock please! 

Paseo la Princesa

Picture via  La Capitana

Picture via La Capitana

If you are coming to Puerto Rico with your significant other, you can't miss one of the most romantic spots in Old San Juan! It's in my opinion, the best spot for a marriage proposal in the Island. 

Paseo Puerta de Tierra

Picture  via

Picture via

If you love to exercise outdoors, you'll love this new place right by the shore and outskirts of Old San Juan. 

Bahía Urbana

Picture taken by  Skylens Media

Picture taken by Skylens Media

How could I leave Bahía Urbana out when I have such amazing pictures in this place?! This is also a relatively new place to visit, but it's a great place to chill and catch beautiful views of la Bahía de San Juan and the Bacardi Factory in Cataño. 

Locals' tip: If you happen to be in San Juan for the last Sunday of any given month, you can't miss the Heineken Ventana al JazzFest. Bring a beach chair, some snacks and your favorite bottle of wine and you'll enjoy the most relaxing afternoon in the city! 


I know there are so many other places to visit in Old San Juan that are just as good (like La Bombonera, Señor Paleta or La Factoría), but I chose to feature the ones that I have had the most experiences at. Feel free to leave any suggestions in the comments bellow. 

Hope you enjoyed this post. Until next time, 

María Elena

6 Ways To Save Money for a Trip

TravelMaría Elena RodríguezComment
Pic via Canva

Pic via Canva

One of my biggest regrets in college was not studying abroad. I was so scared I didn't have the money to survive, that I ended up doing a couple of paid internships in places in the US I had never lived before. But while these were great experiences that helped me grow as a person, I was still super wanderlust. So once I graduated and started working full time, I promised myself I would travel to Europe before I turned 25. And even though I am one year late, I'm finally on my way to accomplish my goal! I will be going on a three week Europe vacation this next summer. I honestly need to pinch myself every time I think about it.

I can imagine many of you have a dream trip you haven't been able to make yet, so I thought I would share with you guys all the steps I followed to finally pay-off my dream vacation:

1. Book your trip in advance 

I know this sounds like an obvious one because everybody knows air fairs can be lower months in advance, but check this out: If you book your trip early on, you will have more time to save up for your upcoming trip! I've been thinking twice about checking out my Sephora cart these days and I just KNOW I won't be keeping my VIB Rouge Status this year. But you know what? I couldn't give a f**k! I would much rather spend that money at French pharmacies once I'm there. 

2. Prioritize Traveling

via Giphy

via Giphy

If you have a little extra cash laying around, put it aside for your dream vacation. Don't just go shopping to buy things! I know it's so tempting and I've done it more times than I should've. Just remember: Traveling is an investment that you will carry with you for the rest of your life.

I was privileged enough to have a christmas bonus at my job this past December and even though I was really tempted to buy one of my dream bags, I knew I had made a compromise with myself to make my dream of traveling to Europe come true ASAP. So I used that money as a deposit so I could pay off the rest in comfortable monthly payments. 

But if you're going to spend your money, spend it on one of these pretty little piggy banks. Be smart, girl!

3. Travel with someone else

I know it's tempting to go on a solo trip. I've flirted with the idea several times and I highly encourage you to do it at least once in your life. But if you're on a budget and planning on going on an intercontinental adventure, a vacation package with someone else will lower the rates of your hotel. Plus, you can share expenses once you're there! 

And no, these are not alternative facts. 

4. Save up sample size beauty products

If you're a beauty addict like I am, part of the excitement of traveling is finding travel size beauty and hair products to take in your carry-on. You can also finally give some use to all those hand creams you received over christmas to save you from the horrible air at airplanes.

Another trick is to save up your rewards points until you find something you can actually use during your trip! That way you don't have to run to the drugstore the day before your flight. I talk a little bit more about similar tricks and how to save on beauty products in this post

Here are some of my favorite carry-on friendly (and cruelty-free, duh!) products:

5. Plan the places you want to eat at beforehand.

Before my Chicago trip last year, I literally created a Google Sheets with all the places I wanted to eat at with the price range of each restaurant. That way, I lost no time looking for places to eat that could've been too expensive or too average. I even made reservations month in advance.

When you're on vacation, specially on a place you've never been before, you definetly don't want to waste time. Time is money! 

6. Drink your coffee at home

via Giphy

via Giphy

I repeat: DRINK YOUR COFFEE AT HOME.

I know I know, coffee is so good these days. So many fancy coffee shops that know exactly the amount of froth your coffee needs to be a decadent treat to make your work afternoons better. But look at this: $3.50 x 5 days a week = $17.50. This means that by the end of the month you could be saving $70!!!! I don't know about you, but I would much rather spend $70 drinking coffee at a Roman cafe. 

Here are some beautiful thermal coffee mugs so you can bring your coffee from home, with style!:

What are your tricks to save up for a vacation?

Until next time, 

María Elena

Travel Diary | Chicago, Illinois

TravelMaría Elena Rodríguez2 Comments

Ever since I was a little girl, I dreamed of visiting Chicago one day. I always thought of it as a more sophisticated and less cliché version of New York City, which to be really honest, I think it was a pretty accurate prediction on my part. 

So this summer I was browsing around airline fares, trying to find cheap flights to New York and finally watch Matilda (which was my favorite movie as a kid) on Broadway. But the fares were so high! That's when I started to look for alternative places to visit, and found some reeeally cheap flights to Chicago. So I took my mom and sister with me and checked one more thing off my bucket list! 

So let's skip to the fun part, shall we? 


Chicago's Early September Weather = Perfection

First of all, as you will see in the pictures bellow, the weather was perfect, to my surprise. I was scared about the whole "Windy City" scenario, but Chicago welcomed us with a comfortable 70-75 degree weather and bright sunny skies. My hair was also digging it. 

The thing that I loved the most about its streets was how clean everything looked and all the fresh air that came from the Great Lakes. It was also super interesting to see about 5 brides running around the streets. Apparently Labor Day Weekend is a very common date to get married? 

Chicago's Skyscrapers

I not only learned a lot about architecture, I had the privilege of visiting this city with my mom who studied both her bachelors and masters in architecture and sister, who graduates with a BA in architecture next May. They were giving me all the insights on famous architects like Frank Lloyd Wright (more on him soon), and Ludwig Mies Van der Rohe. Yeah, I got pretty lucky! 

The only part that I really wish to not speak about is The Ledge at Willis Tower (previously The Sears Tower). Let's just say I freaked out and couldn't take the picture. That place was built for maniacs! 

chicago mural chicago street art

The view from the Willis Tower -

The view from the Willis Tower - yikes!

Millenium Park

I absolutely loved this place. This is where Cloud Gate or "The Bean" and a magnificent outside theater is located. It is so beautiful, modern and the skyline view is to die for! Watch me have a little dorky fun in the pictures bellow:

Chicago's Navy Pier

To be completely honest with you guys, this was the most underwhelming part of Chicago for me. I mean it was beautiful, but I think it is more targeted to kids. The view though, makes it completely worth the Uber ride! Plus, you can take the Architectural River Tour from here, which is a MUST if you are visiting Chicago for the first time. 

Magnificent Mile (Michigan Ave)

Think of this street as the 5th Avenue of Chicago, but with higher sales taxes. Yeah, Chicago is more expensive than New York, so if you are planning on shopping for a new purse or outfit, I would recommend skipping on Chitown. Their sales taxes are above 10%! 

But besides the high costs of shopping, this avenue is beautiful and has lots of fun places to eat outside and enjoy the nice weather (when you can). 

Frank Lloyd Wright's Robbie House

If you grew up with architects like I did, you most definitely know about Frank Lloyd Wright. His attention to detail is out of this world and I really enjoyed the Robbie House Tour which is right in front of the University of Chicago. 

My only advice here is to arrive before 9am so you can get a tour guide! They go by really fast. 

Insider Tips:

If you enjoyed any of the things I did in Chicago (in a short 5 day trip), I would highly suggest purchasing a Chicago Explorer Pass. I got it on a great Groupon deal so watch out for that. This pass will help you plan and budget yourself beforehand and save a good amount of money on Chicago's basic attractions. It's perfect for a first time tourist like I was! *This post is not sponsored!

Last but not least, Chicago is a place for FOODIES and I ate like a happy mofo. So if you would like a separate post on all the places I ate at, let me know and I'll have it ready as soon as I can. :)