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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Buongiorno Roma!- Day 1

The airline had promised to deliver my luggage by 7 pm the evening I got in, but at 8 pm, there was no sign of my luggage, and when I tried to call them to find out the status, no one picked up. 

Even though I was jet-lagged, I had to do some shopping for underwear and toiletries since I had a 6 am flight to Rome the next day. (Note to self: always travel with underwear and a change of clothes). So I went to Italy wearing the same clothes I arrived in (washed them the night before) and the underwear and toiletries I bought. I wasn't too worried, I had an excuse to go on a shopping spree in Italy!

We had purchased a bus pass at the airport in Barcelona, so once we arrived we headed to airport shuttle that would take us into the heart of Rome. (We didn't have to do customs since we were still in a Schengen State).

The bus ride was about an hour and a half I think, I slept the entire journey. When we got off the bus, we had to walk for about ten hours half hour to get to the hostel we were staying. Thank God for Ipads and Google maps!! We must have gotten lost about three times before we found The Colisseum Lodge, our home for the next two days.

We were a bit unsure of what to expect when we got to the hostel since we had made the reservations online. We were met by our friendly host Sarah, who took my "luggage" and guided us to our room. It definitely was not a Sandals Resort, but the room was very clean, and we had a private bathroom, which was all we needed. After giving us our keys, she handed us some tickets and told us we could go and have breakfast a block away.

After breakfast, we went to see the Colosseum which was five minutes away.

Breakfast- coffee and pastry
We decided not to do the tour that day, but we walked by and took some pics.


After our "photo shoot", our plan was to do some shopping, get some food, do some more sight-seeing and plan the itinerary for the rest of our trip.

We knew we wanted to see The Vatican City, and the Trevi Fountain for sure, the others we would just play by ear. I also wanted to eat as much as my stomach would allow me to eat.

My shopping spree didn't go as planned because I really did not have much luck finding clothes I liked. Yes, this was Italy, but it was fall, so majority of the stores had only sweaters, boots, and long sleeved clothing :(. I live in a tropical climate, so I did not want to waste money on clothes I could not wear back home. We walked for a bit, until I eventually found some jeans and tank tops.

After "shopping" we were starving, so we decided to get some food. We stopped at this cafe, I can't remember the name of it, and with good reason! We got some paninis and coke. I can't even tell you how anything tasted, I was that hungry. What I do remember though, is that our server was very unfriendly and they charged us an arm and a leg 7 EUROS!!!!! for a small glass of coca cola! (coca cola cost Euros 2.50 In Barcelona). 

We had dinner at one of the best restaurants I have ever been to. "Il Tajut" is a very small and home-y restaurant. It was not very crowded (It was a bit hard to find as there was not a very visible sign), and we had dinner in a room lit by just candles and with soft romantic music playing in the background. They serve traditional Italian meals, really great wine, and is relatively inexpensive. The waitress was very friendly, even though her English was not that great, and the chef came out to greet us as well. We chose this restaurant based on the Trip Advisor reviews, and we were not disappointed! 

We ordered smoked trout with strawberries, mozzarella and lettuce as the appetizer, Goulash for the entree and chocolate balls for dessert.

Smoked trout with strawberries, mozzarella and lettuce


Red, Red wine

chocolate balls
We decided to walk off the food and just strolled about for a bit without any specific destination in mind. Eventually, we ended up at The Trevi Fountain. It was the perfect ending to a great day.I definitely recommend visiting in the night. It is really a spectacular sight. I also recommend you buy some gelato, sit at the fountain for a couple hours and just people watch. (my pics below doesn't do the fountain any justice!)

Trevi Fountain

Trevi Fountain
We ended our first night on a high and I could not wait to explore the more of Rome! Day 2 will be posted soon!


Sunday, March 2, 2014

My European Journey

The day was finally here!! I had been looking forward to this trip all my life it seemed. I was finally going to Europe! I could now cross this off my bucket list! The months of starving myself saving had finally paid off.

My flight from Montego Bay to Miami was on time, thank God, because I only had an hour and a half to connect from Miami to Portugal. My route was: Montego Bay to Miami to Portugal to Barcelona.

I was nervous and excited! I barely got two hours of sleep the night before. I am very terrified of flying and this would be my first time flying so far. I kept wondering how I was going to survive this long flight. I contemplated taking a sleeping pill, but got scared that something bad would happen on the flight and they would not be able to rouse me. So I scratched that plan and decided to get drunk instead. My paranoia won and I decided against that plan as well. 

I don't know if it was nerves or excitement, but I could not fall asleep on the flight from Miami to Portugal. I took out my Kindle in an attempt to read to pass the time and found out the overhead lights were not working, so I tried to turn on the TV and found out that also was not working. To make matters worse, It seemed everyone else on the flight spoke another language other than English, so I could not even attempt to make conversation with my neighbours. I must have tried to fall asleep a million times, to no avail.

At dinner the flight attendants brought out wine. This made me very happy! Normally when I drink red wine, I get very sleepy, so I decided to have a few glasses... three hours passed and I still could not sleep. It seemed the universe was conspiring against me, but hey, I was on my way to Europe, nothing was going to get me down. 

I checked the time, we still had a loong way to go, so I closed my eyes for what seemed like ten years and  when I checked the time again. Only half hour had passed! Unbelievable!

We finally touched down in Portugal and I felt like a zombie. I was tired and cranky and starving. It seemed like I had eaten dinner days ago, instead of just a couple hours. We had a three over layover in Lisbon, so I decided to get some food. It was about 9am, so they only had breakfast items and I had noo idea what to order because I was unfamiliar with the items on the menu. I ordered coffee to get something warm in my stomach ( I am not a coffee drinker at all) and some sort of sweet pastry because my blood sugar level was down.
Breakfast in Lisbon

After an hour and a half flight, we touched down at Barcelona El Prat airport! I quickly forgot about my hunger and the fact that I had not slept in over ten hours. It was a beautiful and sunny day and I could not wait to start my adventure! 

I giddily skipped to baggage claim to get my luggage. They were still unloading our luggage so we had to wait for about half hour...I watched as everyone collected their luggage and made their way towards the exit...there was no sign of my luggage...I started to panic but continued my search. After another half hour of scanning the carousel, I finally accepted defeat...the airline had lost my luggage...I went over to the helpdesk and explained that I could not find my luggage. They told me it had been left in Portugal and instructed me to complete a form and they would try and deliver it by the end of the day...I had a 6am flight to Italy the next day and I did not pack anything in my carry on...This trip was not off to a good start...

I was on the brink of tears. Only the sight of my boyfriend waiting for me outside prevented me from bursting into tears. For the next few minutes, I was the happiest girl alive...

My next post will give a detailed review of my trip to Italy and I promise you won't have to wait too long for it...

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Planning my Euro Trip

It amazes me how much time has passed since my last post. I have been meaning to write a post for some time now...well for two years to be exact, and kept putting it off... I always told myself it was because I had nothing to write about, but even after I went on an amazing trip to Spain and Italy, it still took me five months to update my blog.

It has always been a dream of mine, as I am sure it is for almost everyone, to visit Europe. This is something I did not really dwell on too much because I did not think I could even afford to go in this century... Unluckily Luckily for me, my boyfriend decided to move to Spain, so I was provided with an even greater incentive to visit. 

Checking flight prices to Barcelona became a routine. Every night before bed, during work, and twice on weekends, I scoured the internet, trying to find the best flight prices. I started my "Spain fund" in March, 2013, hoping I would have enough saved to take a trip in the next year or so. Little did I know I would be able to fulfill my dream a couple months later.

I stopped going out to parties, tried to eat more home cooked meals, and only splurged on my two loves (wine and ice cream) once a month. By June, I had  managed to save up enough money to cover the cost of my ticket, but I still needed to save more for spending money. My aim was to save up enough money so that I could budget at least 100 Euros a day. I decided to make a big splurge and use all my savings on this trip. I would worry about my finances after the trip! 

Before I could buy my ticket, I had to make sure I got my Schengen Visa (Visa required to travel to most European countries). Thankfully the visa process was not a very tedious or expensive one. My visa application fee was JMD $7095, which has to be paid in cash and the exact change preferred (prices are subject to change depending on the exchange rate). Click here to see Schengen visa requirements.

I decided to visit at the end of September when the ticket prices were a little less pricey ( I got my ticket for under a $1000 USD! using www.trafalgaronline.com, www.cheapoair.com had similar prices). Since I was going to go all the way to Spain, I figured I would try and visit another country while I was there. I always wanted to visit Italy and France as well, but due to time constraints, I had to choose one. 

I was now well on my well to crossing off two countries off my bucket list.

In my next posts ( I promise I won't wait another two years to post them), I will share my experiences of these two amazing countries with you.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Restaurant Week 2k12

Remember me? I know it's been awhile since my last post, but let's just say...i've been lazy busy..

So Restaurant week Jamaica started on Friday, November 9 and will end next Saturday, November 17...and usually, i'd be pretty exited about this...this year however, I have mixed feelings...I mean, why limit myself to a set menu where I will be forced to choose something that I don't necessarily want to eat just because it is "discounted", when I can just go to these same restaurants and choose something else that I do want, that costs the same price as that on the "discounted" menu?

For those of you reading, who are not in Jamaica, or even for those in Jamaica, who still don't get what all the fuss is about...the whole notion of restaurant week is to give persons a chance to go to a restaurant they have been dying to try out but due to overpriced menus financial constraints, they have not been able to do so...

So what happens during Restaurant Week is that participating restaurants are grouped in certain categories based on the type of food they serve and the ambiance as well. These restaurants create a set menu, which includes a three-course meal at a "heavily" discounted price. The prices are per person and does not include beverages, GCT and gratuities.

The categories include:
"Epicurean" (restaurants in this category are normally really expensive, but for a limited time (one wk, pre-selected meals will ONLY cost $3800 JMD per person),

"Delectable" (restuarants in this category are usually for persons feeling fancy/ for special occasions, pre-selected meals will only cost $3500)

"Savoury" (usually semi-affordable, and for this wk pre-selected meals will only cost $2200 )

"Tasty" (normally reasonably priced, for this wk, the price is $1600)

"Nyam and scram" ( good for take-out. This category offers a 30% discount on lunch combos)

My little problem with Restaurant Week is that I don't think the restaurants are prepared enough to deal with the crowd, and one would think they would be used to it by now (they have been doing it for years). When you go to dine at any of the participating restaurants during this week, the wait time is outrageous, in most cases, the food quality is not the greatest, and there is a great chance you may just receive the wrong order.

Also, I know that we are getting a discount, but the food portions that some restaurants dish out could not even fill a baby's stomach, even with the "three-course menu".

So why do I continue to support it? Well, because I use it as an occasion to dress up and have dinner with my friends. Why not make an event out of it? This year, however, I may just decide to choose one entre from the regular menu as opposed to the "three-course meal" that will leave my stomach growling from dissatisfaction.

For the epicurean, I'd suggest Strawberry Hill, simply because of the location, it may be less crowded than the others in that category. I have never been, but I have heard great reviews about the food...and if nothing else, the view is amazing.

For the delectable, I am recommending, for persons in and near to Montego Bay, The House Boat Grill. I have been there a couple times, and have never been disappointed with the food or the service. The setting is definitely very romantic as well. For persons in Kingston, I am recommending majestic, based solely on the reviews of my friends, and the location.

The savoury category was a bit more difficult for me to choose from, and not just because it had a lot more options, but because so many of my fav restaurants are in this category. I'm just going to make my suggestions...and just trust me on this one ok?
If you are in Montego Bay, I'm suggesting Robin's Prime Steakhouse,     Seahorse Grill and Napoli Ristorante.
For Ocho Rios, Evita's Italian, and for Kingston, Tamarind's Indian Cuisine.

In the tasty category, I'd recommend East Japanese, however, it may get a bit crowded, so if you're definitely looking for something Asian, you may try Fuji Express as well.

I also advise you to make reservations for the restaurant of your choice, asap, and definitely prepare to wait a good while to get served.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Cheap places to stay in Ocho Rios

Ocho Rios' newest in luxury condominiums, Sky Castles is set amidst the lush tropical greenery of the hillside above the town. Its stunning location affords superb panoramic views of the bay with its beautiful white sandy beach and busy harbour and marina.
The Resort consists of 10 blocks of attractively designed condominiums, offering a high standard of accommodation in comfortable studios and one and three bedroom apartments. 
All guest accommodation is air-conditioned and have fully equipped kitchens with a gazebo-style patio or balcony with a view of the ocean. There is a large fresh water pool on site as well as a tennis court.
Sky Castles Condominium is situated on 4 1/2 acres of beautifully manicured grounds with lush tropical greenery on the hillside above the town. In walking distance there are Banks, Shopping Centers, Craft markets and Duty Free shops.
Columbus Heights
Ocho Rios
St. Ann, Jamaica, W.I.

Reservation Toll Free
1-888-256-0160or please contact Vana Taylor,
Gabriele or Yanique
Tel: (876) 973 4809/10,
Fax: (876) 973 6171,
Fax: (876) 973 4528,


Turtle Beach Towers Hostel (TBT) Ocho Rios is a Beach front apartment complex of 4 towers, centrally located within short walking distance of many Jerk & Fast food centers,top Restuarants, Supermarkets, Duty Free malls, Craft markets, Night lifes, Bars, Pharmacies & movie Cinema. 
TBT Hostel features Free Car parking, Free Beach access, large Swimming pool,Water sports activity, A Day Spa, Restaurant, Convenience store, Laundromat, Children play area & 24/7 security. The brightly colored apartments include a private balcony overlooking the Ocho Rios Bay. They are equipped with cable TV and free Wi-Fi. The kitchenette is furnished with a refrigerator, microwave, stove & oven.
Turtle Beach, Ochio Rios, Tel: 876-974-2803, Email: psp7@cwjamaica.com
Set in the cool of the hills above the resort town of Ocho Rios this charming two bedroom cottage is part of the historic Bromley estate. Breakfast on fresh fruits, home-made granola, eggs our special Bromley way and delicious Blue Mt. Coffee. Enjoy the views out over the hills and the chorus of the many birds that thrive in our lush gardens. Venture out to explore Jamaica guided by one the owners. Explore beaches, restaurants, off the beaten track excursions, and local attractions. A stay at Lignum Vitae is a rare and authentic rural experience.The innkeepers speak: Chinese, English, French and Spanish.
Contacts: alexandra.sale@gmail.com (US) or johnathanedwards@gmail.com (JA) http://www.bromleyjamaica.com/contact.htm

Located on the beach in Ocho Rios on Jamaica's north coast, just five minutes from the worlds famous Dunns River Falls and within walking distance of the best shopping and night life in Ocho Rios, Rooms serves travelers who only want a place to hang their hat (so long as it is beautifully furnished, with ultra-modern bath, and a pool and bar on site). Rooms is located within walking distance of duty free shops, boutiques, gift shops, food stores and the craft market.
I will update as soon as I am able to find other cheap places to stay.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Cheap places to stay in Montego Bay

I am a member of couchsurfing.org, a site designed to help travelers who wish to spend little or no money on hotels, travelers who don't necessarily want to stay at all-inclusives and who want to go out on their own experience the culture of the place and meet with locals. Check the link for more info.  http://www.couchsurfing.org/

Since joining, I have received a lot of messages from persons wanting to visit Jamaica and need somewhere cheap and safe to stay, and I try my very best to give them as many tips as I can, but I really had no idea what some of the cheaper, safer hotels are. I decided to do some research and post some of my finding. Ill begin with Montego Bay since this is the tourism capital :)

The Bird's Nest
 is Jamaicas first and only sports orientated hostel, the best choice on the island for sports related travel. The Birds Nest is run by passionate kitesurfers who operate Jamaicas only IKO Kitesurf center app. 20 minutes from the hostel.

The hostel has a beautiful pool deck, overlooking the caribbean sea and is surrounded by a lush green garden.
Accommodation Information (Airport pickup- US$15, Breakfast US$5)
4 Bed Mixed Dorm Ensuite
2 Double Bed Rooms Ensuite
1 Bed Single Room Ensuite
Tax is not included in a price.
Location Information
Ironshore Resort Estate, Montego Bay, Jamaica. Only 10 minutes from the international airport. Airport transfers available!

contact info: 1876-583-2255/1876-505-0126

Address: 25 Bethel Court Mount Salem, Montego Bay, Montego Bay, Jamaica
Bethel Court is a nice friendly youth hostel with a brilliant atmosphere and generous hospitality. They offer the ideal place to meet new, young and exciting people with whom you can explore the Island with. Amenities include laundry, air conditioning, free wifi, kitchen access. Advise about arrival time. Check in time after 1pm. Check out time at 11 am. Pay cash on arrival . (prices start at 20USD)

Contact info: 1876-476-7239 (t) 1876-971-0134 (fax)


Located no more than 10 minutes from Montego Bay's Hip Strip, Cedar Ridge could not be more ideal. A combination of beautiful scenery and ease of access makes this this a winner for all guests.No Unregistered guests are allowed inside the Cedar Ridge Lodge Premises. Balance of Payments should be made by cash only at this time. (rooms from 22USD)

Bookings can be made directly through:
the Cedar Ridge FB Page
Email: cedarridgeja@hotmail.com
Phone: 1 876 578 9314 or through Hostelworld.com


Caribic House is located in Montego Bay in the heart of the tourist centre affectionately known by the locals as 'The Hip Strip'. With Caribic House is located in Montego Bay in the heart of the tourist centre affectionately known by the locals as 'The Hip Strip'. With the airport just a five minute drive away, you don't have to waste any of your precious holiday time travelling to and from the hotel. The property consists of 17 air-conditioned rooms and is within very easy walking distance of a wide and varied selection of beaches, water sports and entertainment centres. Tours to many of Jamaica's best attractions can also be arranged from our front desk.the airport just a five minute drive away, you don't have to waste any of your precious holiday time travelling to and from the hotel.  

Bookings can be made through http://www.hostelworld.com/hosteldetails.php/Caribic-House/Montego-Bay/7412

Monday, May 9, 2011

From Novice to Connoisseur: A Wine fanatic's Guide

Now if you've been reading my blog, or if you know me, you would know that I am a wine fanatic! Unfortunately, I'm more of a novice than a connoisseur, but I have every intention of changing that. I took a wine quiz, to see just how much little I really know about wine.. unsurprisingly, my score was a mere 4 out of 10 :(.  I decided to do some research immediately. Ill post some of the information I garnered...I'll try to make it interesting, informative and concise as I can :)

Due to the fact that I am trying to make this post as concise as I can, I wont delve into the history of wine, however, you may click on the link provided and read all about it at your own convenience.

Where do I begin? First of all, To really appreciate wine, you'll need to have some amount of knowledge on it,  for example, the type of wine, the type of grapes that were used to make it, where it was made, when it was made etc.

All types of wines fall into one of these categories: White wine, Red Wine, Rose Wine, Sparkling Wine (including Champagne, Dessert Wine, and Fortified Wine).
White Wine
Red Wine

 From what I read, the difference between a novice and a connoisseur is that the latter learns the story in the wine, meaning the type of varietal, when and where it was made. It makes no sense spending a lot of money buying expensive wine and not being able to appreciate/ taste its true quality. The flavour of a wine is determined by the specific grape varietal grown and how these grapes are treated during the wine making process.

Bergundy, France
In the United States, wines are referred to based on the type of grapes or the varietal grown to produce them for example, "Pinot Noir" or "Chardonnay"; while in Europe, wines are named after the area in which the grapes are grown, for example, Bergundy Wine from the region of "Bergundy" (Bourgogne) in France, and "Chianti" from Tuscany, Italy.

It is better to serve your red wine too cold than too warm. If served too warm it loses its freshness and many of its characteristic aromas and flavors.It’s more convenient to allow a wine to warm up in its glass than to put it back in the refrigerator or ice bucket. One easy way to warm up a glass of wine is to cup your hands around the glass while you swirl.

For white wines, the opposite may be true. It’s better to serve a white wine too warm than too cold. White wines served too cold (under 45°F) lose many of their flavors and aromas. However, you still want to serve your white wines colder than your red wines. Serving white wines at a lower temperature brings out their natural fruity, fresh, and sweet characteristics. Removing your white wine from the refrigerator 30-60 minutes before serving should bring them to about the right temperature. And, you can always warm the wine up by cupping your hands around the glass as you swirl.

See this chart for a list of some of the popular types of wine (red and white) and their aromas and flavours.

Rose Wine
Yellowtail Chardonnay
 Truth be told, I have not tasted/ experimented with a wide variety of wine. I  like and pretty much stick to what I've tried so far, my favourite being Yellowtail Chardonnay, I am a white wine kinda girl. I was recently introduced to Carlo Rossi Rose Wine and intend to make it apart of my wine diet!

Whether you are a novice, like myself, or a connoisseur, whether u have wine for the sake of just sipping it, or you're an expert wine drinker, having a glass of wine is a truly divine experience :)