Back to Dubai

     On Christmas day in 2014, Etihad Airlines had tickets from the United States to Abu Dhabi for about $250 round trip. This was obviously a glitch since tickets usually run about $1,000 round trip.  I was one of blessed individuals to take advantage of the glitch fare deal that Etihad Airlines honored.

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I did not take the trip till September 2015 but everything went smooth. The flight was to Abu Dhabi which is about two hours away from Dubai. Once I arrived in Abu Dhabi, I was able to take a free shuttle to Dubai that  Etihad Airlines provided for passengers.

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After the 14 hour non-stop flight from Chicago to Abu Dhabi, I was exhausted!

Below are a few of my adventures during my stay in Dubai…

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Camel Riding in Dubai

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Enjoying the Sunset

The Burj Khalifa is the tallest building in the WORLD. It is named after the President of UAE, who is also the Prince of Abu Dhabi. It has the tallest free-standing structure in the world and the highest number of stories in the world.

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Burj Khalifa 
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Gold Souk

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I have an older post that goes into detail about what to do and see in Dubai and Abu Dhabi,  please feel free to visit here: https://aminatravels.com/2015/01/08/breath-taking-dubai/

 

City of Angels: Los Angeles

Although I’ve been to LA a couple of times, I will never get tired of it. There’s always so much to do and each time I go it’s a new adventure. Below are a few of my highlights from my last trip to LA. Enjoy!

Runyon Canyon was my first stop. Runyon Canyon is one of LA’s most popular hiking trails. It is a 3.5 miles loop trail that is excellent for running or hiking. I did a mixture of both. It was an amazing workout and the view was also breathtaking.

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On Top of Runyon Canyon

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Made it to the Top: Runyon Canyon

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Picture Perfect Moment Outside Runyon Canyon

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The heat in LA was REAL the weekend I was there.

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Can’t go to LA without doing a little bit of shopping 🙂

         Venice Beach is also one of LA’s popular spots to entertain. It’s an outside shopping center that allows you to enjoy the view of the Pacific Ocean. The vendors on the boardwalk sell everything from sunglasses to pictures of themselves holding snakes. It is very amusing and entertaining especially if you like to people watch. There is music, art, food, basketball courts, skateboarding area, and of course the beach. It can be a bit overwhelming. I recommend wearing comfortable walking shoes especially if you plan to be there a while. There is A LOT of walking involved. There are places where you can rent a bike to bike through the boardwalk if interested.

 

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Venice Beach

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Venice Beach Boardwalk

 

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Great Smoothies!

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Culver City, CA

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Had to make a stop before leaving LA.

I hope to be back to LA soon…

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Puerto Rico…Puerto Rico

For those of you still waiting till next year to get a passport, Puerto Rico is still a trip you can make without one! Since Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory all you really need is a valid I.D to get there.

Puerto Rico is located on the Carribbean Sea which makes the climate around 70-80 degrees year round.

I flew to San Juan, Puerto Rico in June 2015 and stayed for 4 days and 3 nights which was enough time for me to explore the city in and out. Below are some of my adventure while I stayed in San Juan.

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Viejo San Juan (Old San Juan) was my favorite part of Puerto Rico. I love colors so much so I was instantly in love. This is a must see when in Puerto Rico. There is literally something for everyone: shopping, restaurants, art, museums, history, music, dancing and also you can get great pictures in this area. There was a lot of walking so when you go I do recommend wearing comfortable shoes. This area is VERY safe! There is even police officers patrolling the area to make sure nothing crazy is going on.

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Loving these doors!

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Palomitos (Doves)

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I searched high and low for this one!

 

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Puerto Rican Flag Door

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Plantain Stuffed with Beef and Rice on the Side.

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Plantains. Yum!

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Mofongo (fried Plantain dish) with Chicken

In Old San Juan, there is an area where you can enrich yourself with San Juan’s history. I was able to learn so much about the city. This place is known as the Castillo de San Cristobal ( The Castle of San Cristobal). There are many tours offered but honestly you can easily walk around yourself and read the different inserts around the place that teach you about the preserved area. To actually enter the castle it costs $5. There is a free trolley that takes you from the inside of Old San Juan to the Castle. You just have to get off on stop 18.

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In front of Castillo San Cristobal

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Not sure what’s going on here 🙂

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Don’t Cry For Me Argentina…

So it took me 17 years to finally head back to the country where most of my childhood was spent…Argentina. One of my childhood best friends invited me back and it was just the invite I needed to go back. I traveled to Argentina in  April 2014 with a layover in Miami. The flight was about 8 hours from Miami.

At Miami International Airport

At Miami International Airport

Getting Ready to Board

Getting Ready to Board

Once I arrived in Argentina, my friend picked me up from the airport and we headed straight to her apartment. I was ready to see Argentina again…this time with gleaming eyes and an open heart.

The Argentine Peso ($1 is about $10 Argentine Pesos) April 2014 Currency Rate

The Argentine Peso ($1 is about $10 Argentine Pesos) April 2014 Currency Rate

On one of the days we got to visit La Boca. This was actually on my bucket list. I remember going as a child but wanted my memory to be refreshed. La Boca is the oldest, most colorful and most authentic neighborhood in Buenos Aires. The neighborhood was settled and built by italian immigrants that worked in the warehouses and meatpacking plants in the area.

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Rainy Day in La Boca

El Caminito (“little walkway” or “little path” in Spanish) is a street museum and a traditional alley, located in La Boca.

El Caminito

El Caminito

E V I T A

E V I T A

Cupcakes in Buen

Cupcakes in Buenos

Same Place...17 years Later

Same Place…17 years Later

Wating on the Train heading to Tigre.

Wating on the Train heading to Tigre.

Tigre is a city in Argentina where most people go when they are going to Puerto De Frutas. This is where there are hundreds of stalls selling everything from furniture, handicrafts, and reasonably priced souvenirs filing the area around the docks around Rio Lujan.

Arriving at Puerto De Frutas

Arriving at Puerto De Frutas

Things for sale at Puerto De Frutas

Things for sale at Puerto De Frutas

Puerto De Frutas

Puerto De Frutas

Yerba Mate is a South American tea made by steeping the ground leaves and stems of the yerba mate plant. It is traditional drink in Argentina.

Trying Mate.

Trying Mate

Argentina has theeee BEST empanadas (meat pies) in the WORLD...seriously.

Empanadas in Argentina

Empanadas in Argentina

Cafe Con Leche

Cafe Con Leche

Posing at the Centro Naval

Posing at the Centro Naval

The Girls Take Over Houston

A couple of friends and I went to visit another friend that moved to Houston a couple of years ago for a couple of days. We were in need of a girls getaway and wanted to see a new city. This was my first time in Houston,Texas and it’s true…everything is BIGGER in Texas.

We stayed at the Four Points by Sheraton Houston West Hotel. It was overall a pretty decent experience. The hotel was located in the Galleria area so the location was perfect and we got a good price as well.

On our first full day in Houston, we made sure to visit The Breakfast Klub. We heard a lot of rave reviews of this brunch spot and wanted to experience it. We were not disappointed! AT ALL. Although it took a little over an hour for us to be seated, we enjoyed the wait by catching up among ourselves.

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By the time we knew it, we were seated and already eating. The food was ohhh soooo good. Seriously…I ordered Chicken and Waffles and it was very yummy. If you are ever in Houston, The Breakfast Klub is a MUST.

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After brunch we made sure to walk around Houston a bit and take some cool pics! We found a beautiful mural on Isabella Street in Houston. The painter of the mural was actually outside and was kind enough to take our picture for us 🙂

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The rest of the trip was spent relaxing…seriously. Below are some more pictures… ENjoy!

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Phuket Island

After my AHH-MAY-ZEEN time in Bangkok, I took a 30 minute flight to Phuket. Phuket is like the Miami of Thailand. It’s an island located on the western part of Thailand that most tourists make it a MUST to visit when in Thailand.

When we landed in Phuket, we were greeted by some very pretty native women. It was definitely a warm welcome!

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The hotel I stayed at was the Novotel Hotel in Kamala/Phuket Beach. The hotel was located directly ON Kamala Beach which made the place exceptional! My room was very spacious and had it’s own balcony which was great for perfect views. I just really appreciated the free wi-fi. You will never understand the struggle of getting free wi-fi until you travel internationally. Any hotel that has FREE wi-fi always gets an A plus from me.

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After getting settled, I was able to walk around and explore the beach some. There were many vendors on the actual beach. It was very easy to get anything from pancakes to massages…right on the beach!

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The following day I went on a tour to the Phang Nga Bay which is also known as the James Bond Island. The island was almost 2 hours away from the hotel and on the way there, we visited the Buddha Cave Temple (Suwannakuha) which is also known as the Monkey Temple. This temple was literally filled with hundreds of monkeys. When they see tourists with food, they come out of the caves and expect to be fed. It was quite the experience.

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After the Money Temple, it was time to take a long tail boat to the actual island. The ride was  VERY scenic. I can’t express how beautiful the ride was. The scenic area covered over 30 limestone islands, rock formations, caves and evergreen mangroves. Once I arrived at the James Bond Island, I was ready to explore…

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The following day was set to be my last day in Thailand. I spent the day at leisure in Phuket. I started the day by visiting the Tiger Temple in Patoong Beach. The experience was everything. I honestly wasn’t scared at all. I was just very alert and the trainer that was in the cage with me made me feel very comfortable.

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I spent the rest of the day picking up final souvenir gifts and just lounging on the beach.

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Thailand was my favorite country to explore thus far!! There’s so many more to see.

Floating Markets & Elephant Rides

My favorite day in Thailand was when I was able to visit the Floating Market. It was something I was definitely looking forward to. A Floating Market is a market where goods are sold on boats. It was originated in times and places where water transport played an important role in daily life. We visited the Damnern Saduak Floating Market where we got to ride a long-tailed speed boat.   I was able to observe native Thai people sell fruits, spices and souvenirs. You can literally buy anything here!

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Later on that day, we went to an Elephant Camp that was about 30 minutes from Burma. Burma is Thailand’s neighboring country. Most of the people that worked at the Elephant Camp were from Burma. I made the best of my experience at the camp. When we first got there, I saw that most of the elephants were chained down and I noticed that the elephants were also pretty thin. That didn’t sit well with me. I’m all for a great experience but I do expect animals to be treated well. I have heard of other Elephant Camps that cater to protecting and taking care of the elephant race. If…I mean, WHEN I go back to Thailand, I plan on visiting one and experiencing that versus the one I went to this time around.  I still ended up taking the 30 minute forest trek. It wasn’t easy! Elephant’s are massive animals and the ride was pretty shaky. There were times where I thought I would fall. I made it through though! Overall, I’m glad I got to experience the Elephant Camp.

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