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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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My Birthday in the tropical forest, Key Largo!

I always tend to find reasons to travel and my birthday was just a perfect reason for another travel adventure. Starting this year I have decided to travel to a new destination every year on my birthday and make some extraordinary memories every year. This time I spent my 27th Birthday in Key Largo, one of the islands in Florida. It is also called the diving capital of the world because of it numerous diving sites in the Atlantic Ocean.

To name a few, Key Largo, Islamorada, Marathon and Key West are a string of islands that stretch across Southern Florida also called the Florida Keys. After visiting Key West last year, I really wanted to explore the other islands and picked Key Largo since it was just a couple of hours from Miami. John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park in Key Largo is very famous among divers for its shallow coral reefs which makes excellent snorkeling location. So we were really excited to take a snorkeling trip there. We were lucky that our guide decided to take us to the Christ of the abyss location for snorkeling. The bronze statue of Jesus Christ stands underwater and makes one of the favorite spots for snorkeling.

After spending the day snorkeling in the ocean, we then headed to our resort, which to my surprise this was by far the best place I have ever stayed during my travels. We stayed at Hilton Key Largo resort which had its own private hammock beach and huge tropical forest. Our room overlooked the forest area I enjoyed every moment of our stay at this resort. I celebrated my outdoor birthday dinner with live music at one of the local restaurants and it was like a dream come true to sit outside and enjoy the warm weather in the month of December. Now that is why Florida is one of my all time favorite destinations to travel. What’s yours?


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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.