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The Forts of Old San Juan!

A photographer’s delight, San Juan in Puerto Rico holds a very long and enchanting history. A tropical hub of forts, jungles and beaches, Puerto Rico is a chain of islands in the Caribbean deserves to be in every traveler’s bucket list.

On our first day, we explored the old city of San Juan by foot and visited the national historic sites of the city. The two castles stand proudly in the heart of the island about a mile apart from each other for hundreds of years now. Our first stop was the Castillo San Cristobal Fort. The dome shaped stone walls in every corner looked marvelous with the backdrop of the dark blue Atlantic ocean. The fort was originally created by Spanish rulers to protect their land of San Juan. It is very commendable that the strongly built tunnels, walls and canons are well preserved for decades of years now.

We then walked towards the San Felipe del Morro Fort which was about twenty minutes walk along the coast from the San Cristobal Fort. We enjoyed the hustle and bustle of the tourists flying large colorful kites in the park. The castle is surrounded by the colonial-era cemetery Santa María Magdalena de Pazzison on one side and a gorgeous pebble walk way on the other. We relaxed by the park for quite some time and relished delicious mango coconut ice cream on the way back as it was a beautiful sunny day in the middle of February. I truly loved the spectacular tropical city of San Juan and would recommend it to all the avid travelers who would like to explore a historical yet serene city.

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Everglades National Park Adventure,Florida!

Among all the US National parks, Everglades has always been on my list of things to do. It is a short drive of about 45 minutes from Miami to get to the Everglades. What makes it different from the other parks is the preserved forest swamps that are natural habitats for endangered species of alligators, snakes and hundreds of other animals. It is a land of sturdy mangrove forests and sawgrass marshes.

Our first stop at the Everglades was the Alligator farm where we enjoyed watching the Alligator show. The show was about a brief introduction about the Alligators followed by the audience getting to hold the alligator baby which was intimidating yet a very joyful experience. We then took an air boat ride into the wild grass swamps where we spotted wild Alligators and birds relaxing in their natural habitat. The boat ride was very exciting and loud and we enjoyed the 360 degree fast spins. We then relaxed for a bit and watched the care taker in the farm feed the alligators.

We also hiked the Ahinga trail in the park to spot few more alligators. However since it was the winter time, the water levels were higher because of the rain and we couldn’t spot as many as we could have done during the summer when it’s drier. Have you recently visited any of the National or State Parks? Please do share. I would love to read.


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My tropical getaway to Miami and Fort Lauterdale!

I must admit that my trip to Florida during this winter was one of the best things I did to myself. The warm weather there throughout the year makes it such a go to destination. I have visited Florida in both summer and winter and I will definitely recommend winter time as it is so much more pleasant. We luckily escaped the downpour, it did not rain all 3 days we stayed there.

We arrived at Miami during evening and I was so excited to explore the Ocean Ave which is also called Miami strip right by the South Beach. Full of restaurants, bars, clubs and music, Miami offers a fabulous night life right by the beach. The holiday season being so close, everything was beautifully decorated with lights. Even the coconut tree trunks were wrapped around with glorious little light strings. After enjoying the night, early next morning, we walked along the 17th street beach walk which was right behind the hotel that we stayed. We came across a guy who was selling fresh coconut water that was the highlight of my trip, I always wanted to drink fresh coconut water in an exotic location. Warm weather, coconut water and beach felt just perfect. We also drove through the villas in Star Island and I was amazed to see private houses of people which looked like palaces. Lucky them.

We then drove to Fort Lauterdale and made our first stop at Las Olas Blvd which is the art center of the city full of art shops and restaurants. We also stopped by the Farmer’s market which to my surprise also had some Indian food stalls. We enjoyed the delicious spinach samosas and then made our way to the Fort Lauderdale beach.  The Fort Lauterdale strip by the beach was quite similar to the Miami strip but more laid back and less crowded. Out of the two, I liked the Fort Lauterdale strip better just because I loved its laid back atmosphere. We enjoyed our early dinner by the beach and watched the lovely sunset.

Overall I fell in love with both Miami and Fort Lauterdale and already missing it now that I am back in Chicago.


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Day out picking the berries and apples, yumm!

I love fruits and the idea of picking them by myself in the orchards is just so so exciting. My parents visited me last month and since my dad loves farming himself, all of us decided to visit the fruit orchards in Michigan, which is about 2 hours of drive from Chicago. Mid July is the season of harvest for most of the fruits so the time was just perfect. We drove in the morning hours to reach the farms relatively early before all the fruits are gone.

The farm was just beautiful with yards of fruits flourishing and there was a farmer’s market right around the corner where the owners sold all their fruits and vegetables from their garden. Our host Chuck was just wonderful and offered us a short tour around the farm. We started to follow him towards the apple orchard where they had different kinds of apples including the Fuji and Gala. However since the apple harvest season is around August, it wasn’t ripe to pluck yet.

Chuck then walked us through the blueberry, raspberry (golden and red) and blackberry farms giving us brief knowledge about his experience in farming. My mom and I enjoyed picking them ourselves and the berries tasted just delicious. My dad brought a couple of fruits and vegetables including peaches and honey from the farmer’s market. Overall we had a wonderful day out exploring the orchard in a bright and sunny day. Have you ever gone for fruit/vegetable picking? I would love to read!