On a recent visit to New York City…


At the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge
At the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge

It had a been a long time since we last set foot in New York, and as soon as we landed I wondered why it had taken so long to go back; we are talking more than ten years here, and New York is one of my favorite cities, we lived in Brooklyn for over twenty years.

It was waiting for us!
It was waiting for us!

It was a Mother’s day trip arranged by our two daughters Yasmin and Natalie, and it was definitely a “girls thing”. Needless to say, it was a great experience. The four days we spent there were filled with fun adventures uptown, downtown and all around the town and, we walked like I had not walked in a in a very long, long… time. LOL

Tulips in Central Park!
Tulips in Central Park!

The subways were our mode of transportation and we covered lots of miles from Brooklyn to Harlem and places in between. We acted like tourists in a town we previously called home. To be honest, when we lived in New York we hardly skipped a beat either, we frequently visited all the landmarks and museums, restaurants and attended all kinds of cultural events. I truly believe this is because I am a wanderlust soul at heart and now have two daughters that like to travel and discover places just as much as I do, Yippee!

My daughters and I make a great travel team and we each had our assignments; Yasmin was the Yelp expert that got us to all the right places to eat and had them lined up before we even set foot in the city. Natalie was in charge of accommodations and lined up a great Best Western hotel in the heart of Brooklyn (the R train was right outside) which made it easy for us to reach all the must see places that I had lined up for us to visit. Brooklyn Museum was my favorite stop.

Long lines...it must be good. It was!
Long lines…it must be good. It was!

So we ate “off the truck” Halal food near Rockefeller Center (delicious), walked to Central Park, and stopped at John Lennon’s memorial, Strawberry Fields, and then walked some more. One thing about walking in the big cities you don’t feel the pain until…you feel the pain. In my case, that was two days later, but Advil took care of that!

We covered a lot of ground (making up for lost time) FAO Schwarz, Brooklyn Bridge Park, Central Park, Harlem, Brooklyn and surrounding neighborhoods, Times Square, ahhh… the sights of Times Square (I’ll save those for another post, LOL).

Delicious cheesecake!
Delicious cheesecake!

We even made sure to stop at Junior’s in Brooklyn to get some of their famous (nostalgia) cheesecake, it is still good!

Here and there and everywhere


Recent visit to Downtown Disney
Recent visit to Downtown Disney

Here and there and everywhere

I have been busy spending time with family and friends the last few months or so, and am having a great time doing so. However, I also have been putting my blogging duties on hold while venturing on a move from Port Charlotte, FL to Kissimmee, Central Florida; quite a task. Before you ask… Kissimmee is part of the Orlando Metro area and, we are in the same county where that famous Mouse lives!

My new mantra is: “Wherever I go, I must find something new to do” while there. Especially, in my favorite destinations in Orlando and Atlanta, with Miami running close behind…

Speaking of which, my original intent as I get back into blogging, was to focus on highlighting places that are not as popular to visitors as the theme parks Orlando is known for, but after living here for the past eight months; I’ve decided I can highlight both the theme parks and the lesser known venues. As I go about discovering my new city I will post my findings, so when you visit you can do as the locals do.

All of these cities have some major entertainment options available and many popular and recognizable “places to go and fun things to do” but my mission is to find some of the not so familiar places to enjoy.

I should point out here that visiting shopping malls is almost always part of the equation. In Orlando alone, I can pass through so many malls while driving around town, that I sometimes lose count. But, I have my favorites: Florida Mall and the Mall at Millennia. And, for the serious shopper, the Premium Outlets on I-Drive are a must; people from all over the world shop there and they bring empty suitcases, talk about  serious shopping.

Same goes for Atlanta, having lived there for about two years I had more time to find shopping outlets so the list there is a bit longer; I always go back to the familiar and favorites Cumberland , Town Center, and Perimeter malls and of course outlet malls abound.

By the way, if you love to eat out the choices are many, all cuisines are well represented; one of the things I love about my new hometown is that I can satisfy my cravings for Latin foods almost anywhere I turn in Orlando and as a good Latina, my preference is for the foods that remind me of home like a good plate of rice and beans with steak, plantains and  a salad. Yummy! There are a few restaurants I like, but I will eat from a food truck too. Good food is good food!

Inspiration…or lack thereof!


English: The USS New Orleans (LPD-18) passes b...
English: The USS New Orleans (LPD-18) passes by downtown New Orleans on the Mississippi River (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Over the last few months I found one excuse after another for not writing on this blog; not sure why this happened but I knew at some point inspiration would reappear and I would get going again or maybe not.

As the holidays approach there are many thoughts going through my head, mostly they have to do with friends and family, those near and far. In my case they are mostly far, even though only within a 3 hours drive or plane ride north or south from where I live.

Here’s an example, typical I think. I’ve never been to New Orleans even though it has been on the bucket list forever. A few weeks ago our daughter calls me up with the news that Airtran was having a sale, and she wanted to take advantage of it by taking a trip to New Orleans and wanted to know if I would join her and her family, I said yes of course. After all it would be her treat. Well, after much discussion I backed out, for no good reason, while she went ahead and booked the flight as originally planned–read cheaper here. Anyway, a week or so later (after the sale, of course) I decided I really wanted to go to New Orleans, mostly because I figured it was on the bucket list, and if not now–when?

So back to inspiration and the reason I am writing this post. Yesterday, Natalie and I spent a couple of hours on the phone going through what today (hindsight) I find was a hilarious quest online to find a place to stay while in New Orleans during our 4-day visit. Remember I said online; my experience with travel sites such as Priceline, Hotwire…etc. is limited, though I am generally aware of how they work. Basically, it is a no brainer you tell them what you are looking for and how much you are willing to pay and they “negotiate” a deal for you. Kind of like going on a blind date, you don’t know what you will get until you pay for it.

I don’t think they (the travel sites) planned on meeting people like my daughters; they will manage to spend enough time and strategy to score big deals online and will walk away if not met with what they want. In this case, a great 4-star hotel on the banks of the Mississippi River was the reward for perseverance and at a great price.

So I think I’ve got my mojo back with this booking experience, thankfully I booked the flight earlier, paid slightly more but that’s okay; I will report back  on my New Orleans trip and will take time to review hotel rooms, surroundings and of course the attractions and the food, there is always the food!

In the meantime, Laissez les bons temps rouler (Let the good times roll)!

Mamma Mia! A Festa Italiana in Punta Gorda


Festa Italiana

Eat, drink and be Italian was the motto of the day and we certainly obliged!

Strike a pose and smile for the camera!

Last Saturday my girlfriends and I had a a great time when we attended the 2nd Festa Italiana held in downtown Punta Gorda; since then, I have not been able to get that Mambo Italiano song out of my head. Hey Mambo, Mambo Italiano…(repeat) LOL

Grace and Margaret by the riverfront

The Festa took place over the weekend (Saturday-Sunday) and it was well attended. On the day we were there, we enjoyed delicious food (Sausage and peppers subs, chicken parmesan, arepas–yummy!) live music, a juggling pizza performer, and lots of dancing and singing, all under the sunny (but slightly cool) Florida skies, temperatures hovered around 65-70 degrees along the Peace River.

Zeppole? Yes!

Admission to the event was $4, free parking was available in the surrounding areas including the grounds of the courthouse; all told, a very budget friendly event and part of the proceeds were donated to local charities. I even witnessed a couple of people arriving by boat, the marina was pretty busy attending to the needs of its nautical commuters. Something for everyone, no one was left out.

Arepas anyone? Of course!
Homemade tomato sauce display

Bounce houses, slides and rides were there for children to enjoy, the live band played all the traditional and popular Italian songs which had us all singing or humming, and dancing happily. Vendors displayed and sold a variety of products: sauces, handbags, crafts, jewelry, and more; which made for a good shopping experience. Fireworks over the Peace River marked the end of each day.

Hey mambo, mambo Italiano… Mamma mia, please, get this song out of my head!

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