Opulence and Prestige of Wealth . . . Versailles, France – July 2015

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Les Portes D’Ors ( The Gold Doors) is the signature trademark of this French château. Home to the last King of the French monarch, King Louis XVI, Versailles by name a sense of deep-rooted history. Upon arrival to this château, it is absolutely breath-taking. The gold doors paired with the cobble stone entry way allow one to feel as if they have stepped back in time to the 18th century. As if the elaborate detailing of the structure is not enough le jardin that surrounds the château is so intricate it requires an entirely different visit to explore completely. The grounds on which the château sits are as well manicured as a woman leaving a French salon. Vivid greens and striking blues contrasted with the gold detail of the gold doors are the signature hues of la Château de Versailles.

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The symbolism of Versailles is one that showcases the opulence and prestige of wealth trés popular before the demise of the French monarch. Versailles represents the notions of “let them eat cake” Marie Antoinette supposedly exclaimed as a result of famine plaguing the French people. Versailles represents the seclusion of the French court from any outside affairs aside from running the country. Versailles represents what lead to the fall of the Bastille. Hundreds of years later the wealth that spewed from this château makes one contemplate just how much wealth can be obtained in the world.

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Key features of the château include the large canal where one can enjoy a paddle ride. The infamous La Galerie des Glaces that consists of a well-lit hallway completely filled with mirrors. Selfie photo opps completely up for grabsAnd even more prestigious is the bed chamber of Marie Antoinette. A closer look at corner details and floral patterns shed light into how much care was given for such spaces.

 

While studying the French language early in my formative years, Versailles was something that always marveled me.  “Wow, a king and queen really lived in this a castle”. “Marie Antoinette hosted lavish events for her guests here”. Large is an understatement when describing this palatial structure. Sitting on acres, as I can imagine, Versailles stood for power, prestige, and wealth. Today, Versailles stands for a closed chapter in French history with a strong remembrance of grandiose affairs. Brutal as it was the termination of the French monarch marked a new start for the Republic of France. Thus modern France as so many know it.

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The marvel that is Versailles sits just outside of Paris.

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The New England Metropolis – Boston, MA – March 2016

 

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I visited Boston during St. Patrick’s Day weekend this past March. As luck would have it, the “Luck of the Irish” was the sentiment I experienced for three days. I was lucky with free dinner from a mother from San Antonio, Texas and $3,000 in free rides from a Fasten. As irony would have it, the team name”Boston Celtics” really goes without saying. NBA pride filled the  streets of Boston upon my arrival. Itching to take pictures as I cruised along because the scenery was quite like no other. Having only recently begun traveling, Boston marveled me in the way the Boston Harbor nestled this buzzing city.

While visiting a friend at Boston University, I couldn’t help but think how much I’d love going to school on the water. The Charles River is the perfect calm to the storm that is Boston.  It was visible from so many parts of the city. This feeling of splendor only intensified once I visited the harbor. Breathtaking that it was, I could have spent the whole evening staring into the Long Wharf. An orange sun mixed with grey skies, atop restless water made for a great photo opp. The sun set directly on the horizon in a way that was so still, unaffected from the bustling of downtown Boston.

The New England Metropolis that is Boston offered a refreshing view to my perception of a populated city. Each neighborhood offered a distinctively unique vibe. It was clear where college students roamed, where hipsters thrived, where families blossomed, and where the wealthy sat atop the winding array of brown stones in Beacon Hill. Of which, it’s cobblestone streets seemed unaltered from the early days of the revolution.

While I was in Boston, I was fortunate enough to visit Faneuil Hall, Museum of African-American History, Institute of Contemporary Art, and Newbury Street. Such landmarks allowed me to feel like the ideal tourist. Faneuil Hall and Newbury Street offered a combination of shopping and endless food for every craving. My trip to the Museum of African-American History offered me insight on the tribulations of my African-American ancestors. All of the ICA’s modern art galleries were an intriguing escape into the visions of all the artists. Traveling alone was a feat I thought I could never conquer. surprisingly, it was a challenge I came to enjoy.

Boston was absolutely refreshing

Immaculate Blue Hues . . . San Juan, Puerto Rico – May 2016

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I escaped to Puerto Rico immediately after the termination of spring semester. In dire need of a break, Puerto Rico offered a quick getaway at an affordable price. I was fortunate enough to stay at the Caribe Hilton in San Juan. The resort was nothing short of magnificent; fully equipped with three pools, beach access, bars, and a fitness facility among other amenities. Fabulous weather greeted me allowing me to venture to the neighborhood of Condado. A area mirrored with vacant and occupied hotels ready for a swarm of tourists. The picturesque sunset was a great premise for the vibrant hues I would see on the island.

Old San Juan is a treasure in and of itself. Colorful buildings of all sizes and styles fill the viejo town like no other. Rustic cobblestone streets paired with immaculate blue hues from the cloudless sky made Old San Juan extraordinary. This city was a myriad of spectacular colors. Climbing up hill then down hill, waking one-way streets that led to the ocean, Old San Juan was nothing short of a mini adventure. Bars and restaurants littered every corner to no avail of being disappointed. Above all, Old San Juan was charming in it’s character with friendly merchants and police officers willing to help with just about anything. A very short trip from my hotel this city was a great destination.

Far from a nature enthusiast, my trip to El Yunque was captivating. The rainforest was definitely intimidating at first glance. The trek towards the waterfall was serene. I felt as if I literally escaped the world in which I was accustomed. Tree branches towered over me with the sun glistening behind; a collection of forest green emanating everywhere. The cloudy skies that taunted me on the journey soon dissipated once I was inside nature’s glory. Fearful at first, I left the rainforest more than thankful for the opportunity to see such a tropical beauty. The waterfall didn’t fall short of my expectations as it stood out amongst the rocks that entrapped it .

Puerto Rico was undeniably amazing

7 Money-Saving Tips For Your Next Trip

The reason I’m able to afford trips is not because I have a reserve of travel money but it is because I utilize a combination of money-saving techniques.

The following are 7 tips on how to save for your next trip.

  1. Know Where You Want To Go
    • At least a year in advance I have blocked out vacations days to travel using my calendar on iCal. Knowing when I want to travel makes it easier to not only pick a destination, but to also save towards that trip. This way I know when to start focusing my search efforts in order to find a great deal.

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  1.  Download Qaptial
    • This is a money-saving app that I used to save for Puerto Rico!
    • One feature that makes it great is the Save & Forget Rule. 
      • It allows you to save X amount of money every week which gets withdrawn from a checking account automatically.
    • The Round-Up Rule allows you to round-up all your transactions to $1 and save the change.
      • For example if you spend $1.50 and $0.50 gets saved or spend $3.67 and save $0.33. It may seem small at first but it definitely adds up if you use your card a lot (like me). Think about transactions from Target, convenience stores, or simply eating out. After a week it’s possible to save a significant amount of money.

Get $10 for free when you download Qaptial: http://get.qapital.com/bzAc/L8bCy58ISs

  1. CASH BACK From Any Major Credit Card
    • Most credit card companies offer a cash back option. For example at Bank of America, I get 2% cash back on grocery and gas purchases.
    • Again this may seem small at first but it adds up in the long run. Logging into your bank account shows how much cash back you’ve earned and options you have to retrieve it.
  1. Save $1 Everyday
    • Literally take $1 from your wallet and place it in a mason jar or unused glass bottle every morning, evening, or night. It is another form of the Save & Forget Rule but you’re doing this voluntarily
    • Place the bottle somewhere you always walk past but not somewhere you will be tempted to easily remove the money.
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The Starbucks jar I keep on my desk to save $$$
  1. Save Change From All Cash Transactions
    • Using the same mason jar or glass bottle save all those coins that you find at the bottom of your purse, in jean pockets, or in-between seat cushions. It is another form of Round-Up Rule. Think of it as having an adult piggy bank.
    • I actually keep an empty plastic Starbucks cup in my car where I save all my change. I use it to pay tolls though it is a convenient way to store extra change.
  2. STUDY Abroad Anyone?
    • You can find scholarships for both merit and need-based on sites such as: FastWebScholarship AmericaGilman Scholarship, and Study Abroad
    • I was given the prestigious Gilman Scholarship that allowed me to study abroad last summer in Paris, France.
    • You should also check your own institution’s study abroad and financial aid office. There might be scholarships available specifically at your school.
  1. Sell Your Unwanted Items On Ebay or Postmark
    • One man’s trash is, in fact, another man’s treasure. Selling anything that is of no use to you is a great way to make spare cash.
    • EBAY allows you to sell just about anything and ship it everywhere.
    • Poshmark, on the other hand, is geared towards selling clothes, shoes, and accessories
    • Both sites do keep a small percentage of the profit. However, they are both very easy and offer free accounts. They can even be manuvered from your smart phone.

Understand that paying for your trip won’t happen overnight but applying these rules can definitely help you reach your travel goals faster.

It is the culmination of all these tips that will get you to your destination!

Freedom of soft drugs . . . Amsterdam- July 2015

There was an aura about Amsterdam I couldn’t quite understand. Unique in it’s character because of the freedom of soft drugs and prostitution. Essentially, this is a European city where anything that only harms you is a go. There exists freedom and liberty to be free and do what so many frown upon. Amsterdam was a city completely opposite of my semi-strict upbringing.

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Aside from the complete debauchery that can come with plentiful weed and prostitution, the structure of Amsterdam multiplied its charisma. Canals of every size dissected the city’s streets. Cobblestone streets paired with endless canals made Amsterdam worthy of every picture I took. There are even boats docked in the canals where people live year-round. Innovation at its finest.

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The uniqueness doesn’t end with its structure but the ringing of bicycle bells, coupled with the sound of tramcars made Amsterdam never silent but appealing to the acoustic. Amsterdam had an aesthetic of a children’s’ storybook where adults-only played. For two hours I cycled through the streets of Amsterdam guided by a local. The Red Light District attracts visitors during the day just as plentiful at night. Museumplein houses not one but many museums for one to peruse including the Van Gogh museum.

My tastes buds thanked me over and over again for the bottomless golden fries I ate paired with scarlet ketchup. Thanked me for the golden waffle I devoured with vanilla ice cream and Nutella. I would not be surprised if there was a dairy farm just outside of the city. By far some of the greatest ice cream I have ever tried. This is a city where all my cravings were indeed satisfied.

Amsterdam was interesting, intriguing, and alluring.

Montego Bay, Jamaica – May 2014

In May 2014 I had the pleasure of taking a weeklong trip to Jamaica, Jamaica — Montego Bay, more specifically. My parents are Haitian yet I’ve never been there. This was the first island I’ve ever visited in the Caribbean. My first thought was “what a tropical wonder that is Jamaica”. Trees, clouds, and blue skies so vivid that even without contacts; I would’ve been able to see them clearly. Upon leaving the airport, these were my initial impressions.

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The resort where I stayed was conveniently located on the beach. White sand wedged between my toes as the tropical breeze blew through my tresses. The rather warm sun beating down on my brown skin radiated a feeling of such profound youthfulness inside of me. It was a feeling quite like no other. From my preliminary hours on the island, I knew Jamaica was a place I would meet again.

The vibe in Jamaica is one that is so relaxed your normally tense and achy muscles are at ease. And well of course there’s the whole calming effect of cannabis; of which is so plentiful on this island you can get “high” wherever you happen go. I gallivanted by horseback through the countryside to the ocean. Water so immaculate that its’ warm blue hues make the island ever so vibrant. I traveled to the acclaimed Appleton Rum factory and sampled rum that was aged nearly 70 years. I partied at Jimmy Buffet’s “Margaretville” as well as the local Pier One. And while Jamaica is synonymous with reggae music, I felt music of all styles and flavors through my veins. The never-ending island breeze follows you everywhere on this island especially when as you’re sipping piña coladas, having the time of your life.

Simply put: Montego Bay, Jamaica was beautiful.