Blog

Until Next Time…

Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, the captain has announced our final descent into the University of South Florida. As we prepare for landing, we would like to thank you for running with the bulls today, and we hope you’ve enjoyed your visit.

Our class chose to write about travel because we knew it was something all of us had in common, even if some of us have yet to experience our dream destinations. Our travels have taken us all over the world and through our own backyards, and they continuously illicit excitement in their findings.

In Egypt, we explored the haunting hieroglyphs at the temple of Horus. Across the globe in Paris, we saw stunning architecture and bookstores rich with old literature. Back home in America, we found solace in the picturesque landscapes that painted the coast of Maine and zipped across the ridged mountains of Tennessee. We have made the world our oyster and have taken every opportunity to immerse ourselves in the rich culture that surrounds us.

Running with the Bulls was a brief pit stop of reflection on our journey – a space to jot down our favorite memories to look back on one day in the future. Now we must pack our bags and begin our stampede to new adventures and experiences.

We hope to see you in a future adventure. Safe travels!

Advertisements

Summer in Rome, Italy

This summer I went to Italy for eight days, because I have never been there before and always thought it was a beautiful country. It was going to be my first time in Italy, so I booked my tickets and made sure I was going with a tour guide in a group of 32 people. The price of the traveling package included not only the tickets but also the hotel accommodations and food.

One of the things I loved about Rome was having the chance to see a lot of magnificent masterpieces. You can literally just walk and see statues everywhere. It feels like you are in an open museum. There are a lot of pretty churches and bridges, my favorite being Ponte Sant’Angelo.

                         

Exploring Rome was once in a lifetime dream come true for me. My experience of Italy was extraordinary and pleasant because the people were very friendly to me. The food was amazingly delicious in the city because it was made from scratch rather than most food in the United States. I would recommend to anyone who has a passport that they take the advantage and travel to Italy because it is worth more than what you can imagine.

Below is a link that can help you plan a stay in Italy.

http://www.goaheadtours.com/tours/europe-tours/italy-tours?q=italy&search_type=destination

Photos are the property of Daniella Bernal.

Tiptoeing through the Tulips – Ottawa, Ontario

Canada’s capital: Ottawa, Ontario. It’s not on everyone’s destination list, but it was certainly on mine! Ottawa is known for the world’s longest skating rink, and its abundance of festivals. I traveled to Ottawa for the Tulip Festival – one of the most popular of its kind.

I am obsessed with flowers. Anything and everything that has to do with flowers. They are so colorful and magical looking, it’s so hard to believe they are even real. The flowers up north are so magnificent compared to here in Florida. It seems like all that we have here are bougainvillea bushes and palm trees.

img_3462
Parliament Hill

I went to Ottawa for my birthday this past year just to go to the Tulip Festival. The Tulip Festival in Ottawa celebrates the friendship between Canada and the Netherlands. To learn more about the tulip legacy, you can click here!

img_3757img_3915img_3709

There were over 300,000 species of tulips, and I think I took around that many pictures as well.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ I didn’t even know that there were that many variations of tulips. It was all a surprise to me.

I didn’t even know that there were that many variations of tulips in the world. It was all a surprise to me.

img_3571
Notre Dame Cathedral

Aside from the Tulip Festival, Ottawa offers a plethora of different activities and sites. Parliament Hill is absolutely stunning, especially when lined with tulips. The Rideau Canal and the Notre Dame Cathedral are also in town. Canada houses another look-alike church in Montreal that I visited the summer before, it is called the Notre Dame Basilica. It was interesting comparing both of the religious buildings.

img_3552

Notre Dame Cathedral

Ontario is one of the ten provinces in Canada and is 85% English-speaking, whereas the province of Quebec is mainly French-speaking. Across the Rideau Canal in Ottawa is Gatineau, Quebec, a French-speaking area of Canada. I am taking French in school and learning the language with Rosetta Stone, so it was really fun to practice my French in a place that primarily speaks it.

img_3922

For Americans to travel to Canada, it ends up being cheaper than one would think. The US dollar goes very far in Canada, $50 USD converts to $66.80 CAD, and most prices are pretty comparable in Canada to the United States. A cheeseburger at a restaurant in America is about $11 and so is one in Canada, which means it’s only $8.23 USD for me to eat a cheeseburger there. Being a college student, that means everything! I am able to travel and see a lot of things that Canada has to offer (which is a lot) for a considerably cheaper price. Each summer, I try to visit a different place in Canada. I am going to Vancouver next summer and I cannot wait!

For more information about Ottawa and its many attractions, you can click here!

All photos belong to Emily Mora.

 

A Visit to the Windy City

Back in 2014, my family and I took a trip to Chicago for my cousin’s wedding. My immediate family decided to drive the whole way, while all of my other family took a plane. Five people and one chocolate lab in one car for twenty hours do not go well together.

Upon arriving, we had a lot of free time to go explore a part of the country we had never been to. My dad travels a lot for his job, so he had been to Chicago quite frequently. He was able to tell us about all the main places we should visit, and acted as our tour guide.

The first place he took us was the very iconic sculpture, “The Bean”. The sculpture is located in the middle of the city and is a major tourist attraction. The massive 42 foot sculpture has been featured in many iconic movies over time. My dad wanted to make sure that we were able to see it for ourselves in person.

(image from: https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4100/4824726872_a3410d48bd_b.jpg)

My family and I are huge baseball fans, so my dad thought it would be a great idea to take us to Wrigley Field. Even though we aren’t Cubs fans, we still thought it was really amazing to see the stadium in person. We would have went to a game, but it was off-season while we were there. Here’s a link to the official MLB website for Cubs fans to view all information pertaining to the Cubs: http://m.cubs.mlb.com/

(image from https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/9f/Wrigley_field_720.jpg)

Overall, my experience in Chicago was great. This was the farthest I had ever traveled away from home. The car ride was not fun, but the experience I had is one that I will never forget.

If you want to learn more about things to do in Chicago visit this website:

http://www.choosechicago.com/things-to-do/

Are Authentic Philly Cheesesteaks Overrated?

When I found out that I was going to be stopping in Philadelphia during a road trip, I had to have a question answered for me: “are Philly cheesesteaks from Philadelphia overrated?” After all, the name of the sandwich has Philadelphia in it, so you would assume that they can make a mean cheesesteak.

My first step to answering this question was doing my research on the places that had the best reviews. At the time, the two highest rated cheesesteak joints were “Pat’s King of Steak” and “Geno’s Steaks”. Each restaurant had their die-hard fans, each swearing up and down that their spot was better and why.  Naturally, I was torn and didn’t know what to do. Lucky for me, they just so happened to be across the street from each other.

Lines for each of the restaurants were forming into the street, with 30 minute minimum wait times each. My group split up so that we could sample a cheesesteak from both places. Probably the best part of my experience was ordering the sandwich. There is a certain terminology that has to be used, or you will be sent to the back of the line.

The pressure was on: if I messed up my order, then the lengthy wait would be for nothing. A person two places in front of us made the mistake of asking for a “cheesesteak”. Silly stranger, now they had to pay the price. As I approached the person taking orders, there were easily 40 people behind me. I mustered up enough courage to say, “one whiz with.” I did it – my order was taken.

As I took a bite into my properly ordered cheesesteak, I was quickly met with disappointment. The cheesesteak was no better than my high school lunches – nice try.

Read More: http://www.visitphilly.com/restaurants-dining/philadelphia/pats-king-of-steaks/#sm.00000q7vakeomyd5qqyhuz89v9ozl

 

Paris

Standing on Kilometre Zero and looking up at the massive Notre Dame, I felt microscopic.

After being told of the city legend (if you stand on the official city center and look at Notre Dame, you will find yourself in that exact spot a year later), I was practicing some wishful thinking.

I don’t think I will ever use 72 hours more effectively than I did while I was in Paris. From exploring the stands set up along the Seine and spotting all the couples sitting along its banks, to walking from the Eiffel Tower to the Arc de Triumph at midnight, eating the best crepe of my life in the Luxembourg Gardens, squeezing through the crowd for a glimpse of the Mona Lisa, finding as many bookstores as possible and much more.

My favorite experience, however, was being able to attend the legendary Moulin Rouge.

(Yes, the Moulin Rouge from the 2009 song “Lady Marmalade” that we are all familiar with since I’m sure that was one of your first thoughts.)

Existing for over 125 years, Moulin Rouge is a world-renowned cabaret that does not disappoint. My experience was one full of laughs, glasses of champagne and endless entertainment. The cabaret ranged from a stage full of performers in immaculate costumes dancing and lip-syncing, performers zip lining across the room and a multitude of other indescribable acts. Keep in mind that the show is for mature audiences only, sorry no kids! It is an invaluable experience I would suggest to anyone visiting the famous city.

Paris exceeded its reputation and my short time spent there was unforgettable.

If you are interested in visiting the Moulin Rouge, you can access their official website here, and the official website for tourism in Paris is here!

All photos are the property of Emily McCain.

 

Nerdy is the New Cool

While I’ve been using the word “nerdy” to describe myself for years, I really took it to a whole new level when I started going to comic book conventions with my dad. We usually go to the San Diego Comic-Con, but last month we went to the convention in New York.

Let me begin this story by saying that comic book conventions are crazy. They’re crowded and sometimes poorly organized and the food is always terrible. However, all of that is worth it when you get to meet your favorite artists, or see Thor eat stale nachos with Wonder Woman. Last month, I really realized that the craziness is worth it and that I’ll probably be going to conventions until I’m older than my dad.

nycc-2

This is a picture of my dad and me on the second day of New York Comic-Con, dressed as Hawkeye and Captain America, respectively. It may seem kind of weird, but Comic-Con is kind of like a nerd’s Halloween, except the costumes can cost thousands of dollars, and instead of candy you get free comic books. We spent the weekend wandering around the convention floor, for the most part, looking at art that we wanted to buy or, in my case, bothering the interns at the Marvel booth with questions. nycc-1

We were able to have some once-in-a-lifetime experiences too, though. If you don’t already know who the 93-year-old man in the picture above is, his name is Stan Lee and he is the former president of Marvel and the co-creator of many iconic Marvel characters. Going to New York Comic-Con and meeting Stan Lee were definitely the highlights of my year, and I can’t wait for the next convention! For extra “nerd cred”, tell me in a comment below who your favorite superhero is – even if they’re not a comic book character!

http://www.comic-con.org/

All photos are the property of Elaine Ticer.

Croatia Under Siege

Often it is not the length of a trip that reflects your experience. I spent only a week on Mali Losinj, an island located of the coast of Croatia, but it was time well spent.

Have you ever wanted to travel to another country without the primary goal being to travel and sight see? This was one of those cases. In German high schools, all students must declare a major course they want to focus on. I chose the field of biology. During these three years in high school, your major course class will embark on a one week trip to study a specific aspect of that field.

The theme for our class was marine biology. Over the course of the week, we had to procure samples such as seaweed, sea cucumbers, etc. which we would then analyze and study.

This experience was right up my alley. My trip had the whole package: Traveling, diving/snorkeling and marine biology.

To be frank, I believe I spent most of my time underwater throughout our trip. What one must know, is that Croatia has some of the clearest ocean water on the planet, making any diving experience one to remember.

croatia_sea_diving_0005

The time I did spend out of the ocean was mostly invested in eating at various restaurants that were located on the island. Luckily for our class, the island was holding a special festival during our brief time there.The “Days of Bread” is a Croatian holiday that is held on October 9th every year. It is more or less the equivalent of America’s Thanksgiving tradition. I have been to many bakeries in my life, but never have I witnessed bread and cheese in such obscene masses. I might or might not have gained a few pounds that evening.

The “Days of Bread” is a Croatian holiday that is held on Oct. 9 every year. It is, more or less, the equivalent of America’s Thanksgiving tradition. I have been to many bakeries in my life, but never have I witnessed bread and cheese in such obscene masses. I may or may not have gained a few pounds that evening.

In comparison to my trip to Egypt, this one definitely had fewer sightseeing spots, but that did not make it a lesser experience for me. In fact, I enjoyed it more than cramping visits to a dozen sightseeing spots into an itinerary that barely stretches longer than a week.

For further information and cultural insight of Croatia: http://www.travelchannel.com/destinations/croatia/articles/croatia-dos-and-donts

 

Discovering Treasure in Atlanta

Last December I was fortunate enough to accompany family members on a road trip to Georgia and New York. We stayed with extended family in Georgia for approximately a week. While there we visited an area in Atlanta called Little Five Points. The area is very popular and known for the several culturally based stores, sights and restaurants it has to offer.

From vintage thrift stores to feminist bookstores, there is something for everyone regardless of their interests due to the plethora of surprising and quaint locations. My younger cousin and I decided on a boutique that showcased some unique pieces, before spending hours in Rag-O-Rama, a popular thrift store filled with timeless goodies.

ragorama

A great aspect of the treasured location would have to be the culturally diverse choice of restaurants available. My family and I were torn on where to eat as we all wanted to try something new. Sushi, vegan, Ethiopian, Thai, soul food, Italian – literally every type of food was at our disposal, and we were positively overwhelmed. We unanimously decided on a Thai restaurant that catered to our group’s picky eaters (some were vegan, and others just extremely picky).

download_20151223_160755

We were so mesmerized by the few stores we did visit that we didn’t even get to see the whole area. It wasn’t until we were leaving that night that we saw we had only scratched the surface of what Little Five Points had to offer. We vowed that we would return one day with more money and time to spare.

Exploring Little Five Points was definitely my favorite part of the entire road trip and I would definitely recommend it to anyone that has the chance to go. Below is a link that can help you plan a trip to Little Five Points. http://www.atlanta.net/explore/neighborhoods/eastside/little-five-points/reg

Another memorable part of my trip would have to be traveling to the neighborhood of Martin Luther King Jr. While we were there we were able to see the house he was raised in, as well as the church he attended and his daily routes. We were also able to visit the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site Visitor Center that contains exhibits that speak about his life and his accomplishments. We also saw The King Center, which holds King’s final resting place. It was very humbling to see firsthand. If you are interested in ever visiting, which I highly recommend, below I have attached a link that can help with planning your visit.

https://www.nps.gov/malu/index.htm

All photos are the property of Nastassia Clarke.

 

Poverty in Paradise

Although traveling around the world is, as it should be, viewed as a thrilling experience, we must not forget about those who are less fortunate than us. Especially the fact that those people may be less than five minutes away from areas we view as paradise.

Speaking from personal experience, whenever I visit Jamaica I look at the time spent there as a couple of days to give back to my family, who is living in uncomfortable circumstances on the island’s country side. My mother and I pack barrels full of women and men’s garments to help out the ones we love. Seeing the grateful look on all the villagers’ faces makes all of the slaving over mountains of clothing worth my while.

By all means, I am not insinuating that it is an unjust thing to go to an island for the relaxation. I am more so writing to spread awareness. Many people are aware of the high poverty rates throughout the world but do not realize how simple it can be to try to ease the situation. Approach it like this: while you pack your suitcase for your island getaway, use the time as a “spring cleaning” opportunity. Any clothes you are not interested in anymore can be put in a barrel and brought with you to the airport. If you feel that is too much of a hassle, they can also be shipped to an area of your choosing.

Giving back is made simple with these steps and tips for barrel packaging and sending made by sweetjamaica.co.uk.

http://www.sweetjamaica.co.uk/art-of-shipping-a-barrel-part-one/