Next Stop...Stuttgart

My next adventure will be to Stuttgart, Germany. This time will be the first time ever that I will be traveling for work. It is a very different feeling, but it is still very exciting! I relish any chance to travel for an extended period of time. I have been lucky enough to get this opportunity.
That being said, have any of you guys been to Germany? Where should I visit?! I am open to any suggestions, just give me a quick comment below!
Look forward to hearing about the next stop in Stuttgart!!


The Next Stop

  So recently I graduated from university and secured a job, so I guess now I am part of what people call "the real world"... so far all that I have been able to think about since graduation is where to go next. Although I am a bit sad that I now can't study abroad so my travels will be somewhat limited as far as duration. Nonetheless I need to travel asap!
  Mostly I have been considering returning to places that I have already been to. Mostly for the facts that I miss those places a lot, mostly Spain. Also, now I will be traveling with my girlfriend, Isabel. I have probably annoyed her from the beginning of our relationship with all my stories of my travels. She has not been to Europe so I really want to share what I have experienced with her.
  One of the places on top of my list is Sevilla, Spain. I have gone there the past two summer to study spanish. Sevilla is a wonderful city full of beautiful places and people. It is quite possibly my favorite city that I have ever visited. I love the language and culture. Summer in Sevilla is something special. There is nothing else like it. I was lucky enough to spend a month each summer in Sevilla. I got to see all the beautiful cites of the city and meet some wonderful people. There is nothing quite like walking through the center of the city with all the great architecture of the old buildings while the birds sing there songs and the people in the streets talk amongst themselves.
The Cathedral of Sevilla, an example of Sevilla's architecture.
  Another thing that keeps me wanting to return to Spain is the food! I would start off every morning with a jamon serrano and olive oil sandwich with freshly squeezed orange juice from Cafe Bar Sur.
My half eaten breakfast! 
  It is a wonderful little local cafe right in the center of the city near Plaza Nueva. For dinner with a view I would always love to go to a place called Metropol Parasol, or also know as Las Setas. From the top of this unique structure there are amazing views of the city from above. There is a small bar on top with some good food. It is well worth a visit.
Las Setas from bellow.
The view of the city from the top of Las Setas.
  While touring the city I also made an adventurous decision to try caracoles, or snails. The best place to try this delicacy is in Triana. Bars all over Triana have signs that will let you know that they serve caracoles. Although I was not a fan of the texture, I must admit that they tasted pretty good! Last but not least you must go to Cien Montaditos. I mentioned it in both my Miami and DC post so definitely read those to learn more about this awesome restaurant!
One of the numerous bridges connecting Triana to Sevilla.
  So with my little tangent on Sevilla done it is now your turn to give me some ideas of where I should go next! Where have you been or have wanted to go that would be a good idea for my next stop?
  Also, how would you guys like for me to talk more about my past travels?  I have a ton of stories to share!



For my next adventure I got to escape the cold of Connecticut and trade it for a warm and sunny Miami. In Miami I do not think there is such a thing as winter. For the most part everyday was around 80 degrees, with the occasional rain shower and only one actually cold day. It was a different experience from what I normally associate with winter time. This was my second time in Miami and I do have to say the city is growing on me. It is full of culture and there is almost always something to do. The first night in Miami we headed to Lincoln Road. Lincoln Road is the place to be in Miami Beach, it is a pedestrian road so there are no cars. It is similar to an outdoor shopping mall, there are many high end and modest stores, side by side with some really fantastic restaurants. Along the road there is the occasional surprise like an art gallery or a church. It is a very lively and vibrant place to be. From there we went to a place called Española Way. This is again a pedestrian road but the focus of Española Way is restaurants from around the world. My favorite is a traditional Spanish tapas restaurant called Tapas & Tintos Tapas Bar. It has outstanding food which always make me reminiscence about my time in Spain. From there we went to Miami Beach to get a look at what was going on down there and to see the beach. All of this is within a fair walking distance, it took us about 20 minutes or so to walk from Española Way to Miami Beach.

For New Year's Eve we went to a part of Miami called Bayside. It was called the 'Times Square of the South' for New Year's Eve which I did not believe until it turned about 8:00 or so and all of a sudden hundreds of people flooded the area. There was a fiesta of music and food. They celebrated all the different cultures with music performances that reflected the people of Miami. To call in the New Year they have this thing called the Big Orange. You can see it in the second photo...its literally an orange with giant sun glasses. Now the Big Orange is a little different to the Crystal Ball that drops in Times Square. This one reaches the top of the building at mid-night. That started off a brilliant display of fireworks! If you ever want to celebrate the New Year in a unique way I would highly suggest going to Bayside Miami!

Every time that I have gone to Miami there has always been at least one incredible sunset. This one was captured a few days into the trip from a mall parking lot. But, it is always stunning, since the sunsets up North are not nearly as beautiful. Although they do have their days where they are really nice. I think the palm trees make it look a little better!

 One thing that was weird for me was how hot it was. I swear Miami does not have a winter! It was around 80 degrees or high 70s every day with one exception. The only difference is that it rains a little more during the winter months. But, to bring in the New Year we went to the beach! On January 2nd! That is unheard of for me. Something I would never consider unless it was one of those Polar Plunges for charity. But here are some pictures I took of the beach that day...

One thing that keeps me coming back to Miami besides the wonderful weather, and my girlfriend, would definitely be the food. There are so many great restaurants it is hard to choose between them at times! Also, for me I get to try a lot of new foods that I have never had before. The photo below is a perfect example...it is called Ropa Vieja (Old Clothes), and it is like pulled beef with a very tasty sauce. It slightly reminded me of a German dish that my grandfather often makes called Sauerbraten.

 Up next is a little pastry called an Alfajor. This was delicious. It has two cookies with some coconut sprinkled on the outside. Between the cookies there is a Dulce de Leche filling, similar to a caramel filling.

 This is a pastry or bread covered in sugar. It is filled with guava which is very sweet and also cheese! Both this and the Alfajor I tried when we went to a local bakery called Don Pan. It was filled with many fantastic pastries and breads I could have stayed there all day and just devoured everything they could offer me.

For the holidays my girlfriends parents had gone to Cuba to visit family and spend the holiday with them. They brought back some Cuban pizza for us to have. It can be found from street vendors in Cuba and is really a soft dough pizza with not too much sauce folded up in half as shown. Again...I could have had 100 of them. It was a really interesting take on a pizza, very enjoyable too.

Last up for the food is the best burger I have ever had. We went to a restaurant called Giraffas. It is a Brazilian food place. This was their original burger. It had some cheese, bacon, lettuce, and also a fried egg on top. All fairly standard on a burger. But, the burger itself was the unique part to this burger. Instead of ground up meat, it was a very juicy and tender steak! I have never eaten a burger so fast until I came across this beauty. Unfortunately they do not have any of these up North so it looks like I will have to go back to Miami sooner rather than later.

On our last day in Miami we got a really beautiful day of sun. This was a perfect opportunity to visit a place called Vizcaya. Vizcaya is a mansion complex that was built around 1914 or so if my memory serves me correctly. It was originally privately owned by one man. It has a beautiful complex of gardens, and the house itself is quite a masterpiece. The whole place sort of reminded me of the Palace of Versailles in France. It has a similar feel although on a smaller scale. A lot of the inspiration for this place came from Europe as well as from the owner's passion for sailing. Once the man passed away he left Vizcaya to the people to serve as a museum. Unfortunately it was prohibited to take photos inside the house, so I hope you enjoy the photos of the gardens.

All in all, Miami always continues to surprise me each time I go. I have to say that Miami is starting to grow on me and quickly becoming my favorite city in the US. Mostly due to the wonderful climate, people, food, and things to do down there! If you haven't gotten the chance to go yet, make sure to put this on the list! Definitely worth a visit or a longer stay!

Until the next stop...


Washington DC

     As this is my first ever blog post I feel the need to introduce a little about myself. My name is John, I study Mechanical Engineering. My passions are playing soccer, traveling, and surfing. I am a very avid traveler and am quite well traveled for someone my age. I took my first trip before I was a year old. My family would always go on trips to Orlando, Florida and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Besides this we would always visit other cities nearby and go camping when I was young. Although one summer we packed our bags and took a trip across the country. We spent the whole summer traveling and got to see some amazing places and made some amazing memories.
     My first adventure by myself would come in my sophomore year of college. I decided to spend a semester studying abroad in London, England. This remains to be one of the best times of my life. After my semester I went to Sevilla, Spain to study Spanish during the summer. In total I had spent roughly 8 months in Europe studying and traveling. I was able to visit 8 different countries and seeing cities such as Paris, Rome, Munich, Barcelona. This experience has made me a travel addict. The past summer I returned to Sevilla to spend the summer studying Spanish again. I also had the privilege to travel to Africa for the first time. I spent a weekend in Morocco, and it has only fueled my desire to go back and explore more!

     So back stateside, I spent a weekend in Washington DC. I went down to visit a friend that I had made in Sevilla and kept in touch with. He was visiting his girlfriend who lived in the area, so my girlfriend and I took the opportunity to go down and visit the city and see him again. It was quite a good feeling to be back on the road traveling, escaping the cold, and getting to see a good friend of mine. I drove the whole way which ended up being about a 6 hour drive from where I live. Although there was a little setback. When I was packing the car with the suitcases at 4:45am I had my puppy with me since he could not leave me alone. And this provided enough distraction for me to not realize that I had locked the one set of keys to the car in the trunk. This was not the ideal start to the trip to say the least. So about 45 minutes later, AAA shows up to break into my car so I can get my keys and get on my way. Thankfully this setback was the only problem encountered throughout the trip.

     I had not been to DC in quite a long time, so it was exciting to revisit the monuments and see what has changed. After arriving at the hotel, we took a quick nap and left for the city. One thing that I did enjoy about the city is its public transportation system. The metro very much reminded me of the tube or metro in Paris. The one thing it was lacking was any sort of art. The metro systems of Europe have much more decorations and are not as bland. Anyways, the majority of our trip around the mall, which is where all the major monuments are. The first thing we noticed was that there were supports surrounding the Washington Monument, to keep it stable.
Washington Monument
     Apparently this has been on it for quite some time ever since an earthquake hit the area in 2011. Nonetheless it still was a sight to see. When it was constructed it was the tallest building in the world at the time. This has of course now changed, but it is still a wonderful historical sight to visit. After meeting up with my friend and his girlfriend at the mall we made our way to the Smithsonian Museum of American History. All the Smithsonian museums along the mall are all free, so it is a wonderful place to go visit and take as much time as want exploring the different museums they have to offer. My favorite of which being the Air and Space museum.

     The museum we decided to visit was less interesting. There is plenty of good information and interesting things, but for me it wasn't my favorite. The next stop on our adventure was to take a walk along the mall. There we stopped to see the White House, Lincoln Memorial, and the World War II Memorial. All of these are within walking distance of each other, it took maybe 45 minutes to walk and view the monuments.
US Capitol Building
Vietnam War Memorial

White House
     I would suggest seeing the monuments of DC both during the day and at night. Some of their qualities really come out at night when they are light up. Especially the World War II Memorial.
WWII Memorial at night
WWII Memorial
Lincoln Memorial
     One disappointing thing we experienced in DC was poor service at restaurants. It may be because of where we ate, but we did not encounter friendly service. The first night we stopped at a restaurant called Roti Mediterranean Grill. I quite enjoyed the food there, it has a similar concept to popular chains like Chipotle or Moe's. You choose what your dish will be, either a wrap or rice plate, things like that. Then the toppings and sides to choose from are all Mediterranean classics like falafel, hummus, feta cheese, tomato and cucumber. For me I had a rice plate with chicken, hummus with some pita bread, vegetables, and tomato and cucumber. It was very good. I like having food like this considering the food served at college is not nearly as healthy or good. Unfortunately there are no locations near to where I live, oh well. The other restaurant we went to while we were with my friend from Spain was one called 100 Montaditos. This is a popular chain of restaurants in Spain, there were numerous locations in Sevilla and it was a place I would go to often. The name means 100 sandwiches, which is exactly what they offer! They have 100 variations of sandwiches to offer, although the menu for the one we went to was a bit americanized it is generally spanish dishes like chorizo or tortilla de patatas. The sandwiches are small, so you order a few of them or share a platter of jamon serano and chorizo with queso manchego. I would definitely recommend going for a bite to eat if you happen to be in the DC area or in Spain! It was cool to go with my friend from Spain, although we noticed it was a bit different from the ones we were used to. Here you are waited on, as usual, but this is not the case in Spain. Also, there was music playing. It was spanish music, but in created a slightly different atmosphere. We determined it was down to the difference between Spanish culture and American. If there was any music playing in the 100 Montaditos in Spain you would not be able to hear it since everyone would be talking non-stop, whereas in the DC location people were content to enjoy their food and talk quieter amongst themselves. Either way, it was a good meal, good restaurant, and some good company!

     The final day we were very reluctant to leave. There is still more to see to DC besides the mall and the monuments, I am left wanting more as usual. Some areas I would like to explore more would be the Georgetown district of the city. Also, since there is what seems to be an endless supply of museums I would love to go back and visit more Air and Space museums and also the Holocaust museum. Another thing would have to be the Cherry Blossoms that come out along the river in the spring! All in all it was a great trip, I hope I can go back again, but I was also happy to return home to see the puppy and my family before I headed back to college again.

Until the next stop...