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Las Vegas

 VALLEY OF FIRE STATE PARK

VALLEY OF FIRE STATE PARK

Sin City! Where the air feels like you’ve just opened an oven heating up at 400F. Where people come to celebrate a new chapter in their life, most known to be a marriage proposal or visiting to elope. Where you can catch a show of your favorite musician or showgirl. Vegas is a city in the middle of the desert where you’ll see a fluctuation of guys and gals trips to get away from reality for a while and if you’re lucky you may run into your favorite reality celeb. Whatever the reason for your visit you are sure to have a good story to tell at the end of it all.

When I decided to visit Las Vegas I didn’t care to do much of the cliche except go to a pool party. Labor day weekend is one of the biggest weekends for Vegas. You have nonstop day and evening pool parties which includes some of the top ten DJ’s like Steve Aoki, Zedd, Tiesto and KASKADE. Planning out which event you want to attend before you visit is always a good idea as prices tend to increase the longer you wait, but if you do decide to wait last minute at every corner, in front of every hotel there is someone advertising events in the city with a device in hand, ready to take down your info to put you on their list.

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There is soo much to do outside of Vegas. Up until the end of October 2018 there is an art display in the middle of the desert about 30 minutes south of Vegas. Also if you are interested in 4 wheeling, helicopter rides or taking a whole days trip to the Grand Canyon it isn’t hard to find discounted vendors on the strip, but I highly recommend visiting Groupon first. After visiting the 7 Magic Mountains we headed to the Valley of Fire State Park on the other side of Vegas which is an hour and a half drive between one another. The entrance fee is $10 per car. My cousin and I wanted to go hiking to see the fire waves, but the ranger did not recommend it as it felt we were in Satan’s spawn so instead we took a relaxing drive through the park and enjoyed the scenery.

I travel for the FOOD! Of course I had to check Buzzfeed and Thrillest to see where I could stuff my face, but with a limited amount of time, I decided to keep my foodie list on the strip.

 

Guy Fieri Kitchen and Bar

 

The best nachos I’ve ever had. Trash can nachos from Guy Fieri’s Kitchen & Bar. Topped with a sweet and smokey flavor of pork and red onions pickled to perfection. All the toppings are perfectly proportioned to where every bite that’s taken has a heavenly aroma of flavors and I love the way it’s served.

Gordon Ramsey Steak located in the Paris hotel is fairly decent. As you enter, the concept is pretty cool yet kinda cheesy. Since it’s located in the ‘Paris’ hotel you enter the restaurant through a tunnel that can otherwise be known as the Eurostar that gets you from Paris to London. You are served an assortment of bread and cheese pre-meal. I did not fancy any of it. The steaks to my cousin and I satisfaction was mediocre, but the drinks were worthwhile. I certainly enjoyed my pureed mashed potatoes as that is how I like it.

Pin up Pizza located outside the Planet Hollywood Casino serves the largest slice of pizza on the strip. Their pies measure 30in across and uses 4lbs of dough, leaving each slice to measure 15in long by 6in wide.

Mon Ami Gabi restaurant is located in the Paris Hotel. Here you will indulge in fine French cuisine as you dine on the patio with a spectacular view of the Bellagio water show.

At La Creperie you will not be disappointed. You have your choice of sweet or savory crepes. I suggest the roasted chicken crepe, stuffed dried tomatoes and asparagus and topped with shaved parmesan and pesto basil. It’s like heaven to your palate.













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The Lights Festival

 Talledega Speedway

Talledega Speedway

The Lights Festival is the most magical thing I have ever experienced. I always told myself that I would visit Thailand one day to go experience such beauty, but luck found me much sooner. A Lights Fest ad popped up on social media and it was only a state way and the day before my birthday. How much better could it get? So of course I invited some friends to experience it with me.

 We drove 2 hours from Atlanta to Munford, AL.

We drove 2 hours from Atlanta to Munford, AL.

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You are allowed to bring coolers. They say no alcohol, but....you know how it goes. Also no drones are allowed or flammable items. They have food vendors on site, but honestly it's not a variety. I just saw pizza signs. Luckily we brought our own food. They also had a few live bands but mostly it was music from a playlist playing which you can find on their site. 

 Time to make a wish

Time to make a wish

They will then do a demonstration on how to properly light your lantern and wait for the fire department to say when we can all light it together. That's when all the magic happens. 

30th birthday celebration at Light's fest in Munford, AL. #Whatlightsyouup #Lightupyourlife Songs: "Firework" Katy Perry "Say The Word" Hillsong Subscribe to my travel blog at: http://www.terrimarcelle.com/

Make sure to subscribe to my Youtube for more videos and my blog. :)

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Kauai, Hawaii

Aloha! Kauai is truly paradise. With welcoming locals, delicious food and rich culture, Kauai is an island I wouldn't mind calling home. It is known as the "Garden Isle" of Hawaii. Formed by a volcanic mountain called Wai'ale'ale that ruptured 5 million years ago, the island gives breathtaking views of of the Waimea Canyon and Napali Coast which attracts thousands of tourist every year. The explosion created the entire east coast of Kauai and formed the unique shape and topography of the island. Kauai is also where the first and latest Jurassic Park movie and Blue Hawaii were filmed.

 Waimea Canyon

Waimea Canyon

Now everyone has heard how costly Hawaii can be there. As much as I like to brag about how I get cheap flights, Hawaii was a battle I didn't feel I won. Yes, some of us have thousands of miles we saved up to use on our next trip, work for airlines or have credit card perks, but then there are some of us who do not have that working towards our favor. I suggest purchasing a ticket 3 to 5 months ahead. From ATL to Kauai I didn't find anything under $750 for the summer months. To Honolulu I didn't find anything under $800. A trick I use to get the cheapest flights is to type in the airport codes (ATL to LIH) into Google which would then bring up prices. When you click on the calendar, prices highlighted in green are the lowest prices you will get for that day of departure or return. I usually use Google flights or justfly.com to purchase tickets. When it comes to hotels, Kauai does offer a variety of discounts, but for 5 travelers no hotel could do us justice with the necessities we were looking for. The lowest we could find for 6 days was $1,800 and that was with a military discount. Airbnb saved us $900 and we were on the beach. As far as car rentals I used Turo.com which is the Airbnb of car rentals. For 6 days I rented a jeep for $400 including insurance. Not a bad deal. 

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A website I used to book activities is Hawaiidiscount.com. When you are planning your activities make sure to book atleast a month in advance. We wanted to do the famous mountain tubing, but they were booked up to the next month. Kauai is also home to one of the most dangerous, yet exciting hikes in the world known as Kalalau. Kalalau is a trail along the Napali coast and is about 11 miles long. You do need to make sure you get a permit to hike and get it at-least a year in advance as there is a limited amount they give out per year and they do sell out quickly. We went to the only luau that takes place on the beach called, Auli'l. We bought premier seating and the tickets included front row seats, all you can eat buffet and unlimited drinks along with lei's.

 Auli'l Luau at Sheraton Resort

Auli'l Luau at Sheraton Resort

Some free activities we did on the island was drive up to The Grand Canyon of Kauai known as Waimea Canyon. There are a few lookouts before you get to the very top if you don't feel like driving all the way up. You will have beautiful views of the red dirt river and a waterfall. On our way back to our condo we went to the Kauai Coffee Museum. They have a self-guided tour of the coffee orchard where you will read interesting facts on how coffee is grown and prepared. They also have a variety of local coffee you can taste before you purchase. Another free tour you can take is at the Kola Rum Factory. There is a tasting room that runs every 30 minutes where you will be given a brief history about Kauai and how their rum is made.

I'm not a shopping kind of gal and I definitely hate doing it when I'm on vacation, but Kukui'ula Shopping Mall is a must visit. Every Wednesday they have an outdoor farmers market and you can eat local foods. It isn't located too far from the spouting horn. According to the Hawaiian folklore a giant lizard use to protect the spouting horn blowhole. A man lured the lizard in the ocean and swam out of the hole. The lizard followed the man named Liko and got stuck in the lava blowhole. They say you can hear the lizards roar every time waters spouts out.

We stayed in a town called Kapaa and our condo was located right in front of the Sleeping Giant. Legend has it that the giant fell asleep in a supine position due to overeating at a luau. Another legend has it that villagers would pelt the giant with rocks to awaken him when invaders were approaching and unfortunately the giant swallowed some of those rocks and was unable to rise and there he remains, "sleeping".

 The Sleeping Giant

The Sleeping Giant

I'm a total foodie and there were definitely a few dishes I had on my list to try. Hawaiian BBQ from H&L was delicious. They had the beef and chicken combo which was big enough to share between 3 people. Most, if not all of their local meals come with a side of rice and macaroni. Wailua has the best shaved ice on the island. Made with fresh local fruit and 100% all natural toppings. I had the Lava Flow that was topped with coconut mousse. Best tasting thing ever! Poi is a Polynesian staple food made from the underground plant stem of the taro plant. Poi has the consistency of pudding and the taste of bland baby food. To be honest I don't think the locals like it that much.

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As far as beaches go, the waves on the shores of Kauai is a surfers paradise. There are many warnings about how strong the tides are for swimmers. If you want to swim I highly suggest going to Lydgate State Park Beach. One of the most beautiful sites I've ever seen. Waves are blocked by man-made, decorative rocks and the swimming area is between 5-6 feet deep. During the day there a coral fish which make good for a nice snorkeling adventure.

 Lydgate State Park Beach

Lydgate State Park Beach

The locals in Kauai are some of the most beautiful and welcoming people I've ever met. They are very proud of their culture and always willing to share their history. I suggest Kauai being the Hawaiian island to visit due to it's rich culture alone.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Krog Street Tunnel Art

If there is one thing I love about this city besides the food is the various murals and Graffiti you are sure to see on the streets. Krog Street Tunnel is probably one of my favorites where you can see a bunch of art in one area. 

 1 Krog St NE, Atlanta, GA 30307

1 Krog St NE, Atlanta, GA 30307

 As you're walking towards the tunnel from Krog Street Market you will notice some beautiful wall art. This one was my favorite.

As you're walking towards the tunnel from Krog Street Market you will notice some beautiful wall art. This one was my favorite.

 Krog Street

Krog Street

If you've ever been to Sister Louisa's aka "Church", you would notice a small parking lot across the street. Every so often the piece of art would be changed. This one is in honor of "Spiderman Homecoming".

 466 Edgewood Ave SE, Atlanta, GA 30312

466 Edgewood Ave SE, Atlanta, GA 30312

 Abandoned building on the corner of Dekalb Ave & Krog St.

Abandoned building on the corner of Dekalb Ave & Krog St.

Check out https://www.yelp.com/biz/krog-street-tunnel-atlanta-2 to view previous artwork in the tunnel.

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Requirements For Travel To Cuba

This information was given to me by a world traveler, Sunny Fitzgerald, also known as,  "Froliq" on social media. You can find her contact information at the end of this blog.

Q: Last year I filled out a form for a LICENSE TO TRAVEL through the Dept of Treasury but I got denied because they said my reason was not enough to visit.

A: 

Getting a license or approval to travel to Cuba was more difficult in the past. Currently, if you are going to learn about the culture, you can travel under the category of "people to people" under the General License. Keep in mind:

When you book your flight you will need to select this as the reason for travel.

You will need to keep your Cuba travel itinerary with you as they are allowed to ask you for proof that you are doing "people to people" activities.

Your day to day itinerary in Cuba must show a full schedule of activities that fit the "people to people" category. This means things like tours, visiting artist studios, cooking lessons, etc...anything that shows "people to people" activities with you interacting with local people. It is entirely possible that no one will ask you for this at all...but you should be prepared to show it if asked. And if you are not meeting their requirements, you could get into trouble!

This means as Americans, we are still not permitted to travel for purely "touristic" reasons - meaning, we are not technically supposed to just go to Cuba and sit on a beach with a cocktail for our whole trip.

Q: What are the qualifications/forms I need in order to get through immigration in Cuba?

A: Currently, Americans need:

Passport with at least 6 months validity from date of entry.

Visa/tourist card/entry permit: These are currently sold at the airport on departure, though keep in mind, not all airports sell them yet. For example, I departed from LA but couldn't buy my visa until I arrived at my connecting gate in Houston. These are currently $50 for the visa + $25 service fee. This could of course change, so best to check with your airline before departure.

Evidence of an itinerary that supports the license and category you are traveling under (as described above).

Cuban health insurance. Everyone is required to purchase this. It is currently $25. Many airlines are automatically including it in their flight fares BUT again, as things with Cuba are changing rapidly and are not consistent, best to check with your airline or travel agent.

United Airlines has a helpful page here: https://www.united.com/web/en-US/content/travel/destination/international/cuba.aspx

Q: Do you know about Drone prohibitions?

A: I do not have info on drones at this time, but if you need me to help book your trip, I can certainly talk to my Cuba manager in Cuba and find out the most up to date info.

Q: I hear they don't have much hotels and that most people use their homes as one.

A: There are hotels but space can be an issue as the number of visitors to Cuba increases. The other issue is that most hotels will charge double or even triple rate for Americans. The most affordable option is Airbnb or "casa particulares" which are rooms rented in someone's home. The quality and amenities can vary + many are not listed anywhere online and you cannot transfer money to Cuba, so it is wise to have someone else book for you who has the ability to locate and book the best casa particulares! I have the ability to arrange any of the above. 

There are plenty of taxis in main tourist cities. Car rentals can be very pricey. 

 


Hope this info helps! If you are wanting to go and would like someone to book your trip for you so you can leave all the worrying to someone else, let me know. I work in Senior Management with a travel company that arranged trips for scholars and universities all over the world, including Cuba + I just soft launched FROLIQ (a travel company that designs trips for adventurers and conscientious travelers) and we also book trips to Cuba. Two of my clients and I just returned from a trip there, and I'd be happy to help you get there too!

All the best!


If you would like to contact Froliq you can follow her on Instagram at @Froliq & Facebook

 

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Mementos From Los Angeles

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 I really wish I could have taken more photos. I even forgot to take videos as well, but I was soo caught up in what the City of Angeles had to offer I kept my phone in my pocket most of the time.

  • Hike the Hollywood sign. The distance to the summit is 6.5 miles total, but if you only want to hike half of it to where you can get a clear view of the sign I recommend hiking the Hollyridge trail which is 3.5 miles total and good for beginners. Keep an eye out for the horse poop.
  • You can't go to Universal Studios without visiting Wizardly World. I tried the butter beer (nonalcoholic) and it was delicious. Tastes like a caramel creme soda. During this time it was the last weekend of Horror nights. I didn't participate, but they had some great deals on tickets.
  • The only name I wanted to see on the Hollywood walk of fame was Michael Jackson's and with the election approaching I wanted to see what all the fuss was about with Donald Trump's Star. His supporters were protecting it, but luckily there was a guy there holding a poster of it. I guess his prediction was right.
  • I am a sucker for reality shows and a huge fan of Lisa Vanderpump. I visited Sur and Pump which are only two blocks away from one another. Pump has a sophisticated look to it and even though you're inside you feel like you're dining outside. Sur had a younger lively crowd and was very loud with a live DJ.
  • Cool photo of the tunnel in Little Tokyo
  • Of course I had to try In & Out, but hate to say I don't know what the hype is about. It taste like any old burger but it had some type of special thousand island-like sauce on it and the fries were...meh.

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Chef Talk with Dale Hamilton

When you visit Trinidad and Tobago you'll be sure to indulge in local cuisine such as doubles; a breakfast delight, curry chicken and roti and I can't leave out one of my favorite foods bake 'n shark. In Trinidad, it’s as if every day is a feast. To enjoy the feasts of Trinidad, you must come with an open mind and an adventurous palate. From fine dining to street food, Trinidad’s varied local cuisine reflects the country’s multi-ethnic heritage, which includes African, Indian, Spanish, French, British, Chinese and Syrian-Lebanese traditions. 

 Chef Hamilton and I dining at Roll in Port of Spain.

Chef Hamilton and I dining at Roll in Port of Spain.

On my recent trip to Trinidad I had the pleasure of dining with Chef Dale Hamilton over specialty made sushi rolls and sriracha fries in the heart of Port of Spain at a restaurant called Roll. Chef Hamiton became Trinidad's youngest Executive Chef at the age of 26. Hamilton currently works in San Fernando Teaching Hospital as a nutrition and dietetics supervisor and has also cooked for President Obama where he prepared rib eye, arugula, mashed potatoes and broccoli. His passion for cooking started at the age of 5 when he fell in love with his grandmothers cooking. He spends much of his time in the kitchen experimenting with food and preparing his next big dish. He also makes chennet chutney which is one of my favorite Caribbean fruits and showed me photos of his culinary art. When asked what it takes to be a chef the culinary artist replied "Passion. You must have the desire to love what you do 110%. You can go to work and learn from a chef or go to a culinary arts school. When you learn from a chef you learn about the culture of food." 

Hamilton spoke about the science of food and a trip he went on in Barbados to attend Barbados Food, Wine and Rum Festival where he met Chef Marcus Samuelsson. After his encounters with Samuelsson, Hamilton became more motivated and determined as a chef to showcase his work. When he returned to Trinidad he sold barbecue at a friends bar. With great confidence he told me he doesn't just make good barbecue, he makes EPIC barbecue! I think he and my father will need to have a cook-off so I can be the judge of that. In 2014 he opened a restaurant in Arima called 614 Grillhouse which had great significance to him. He spoke very highly of his nephew who was born with cancer and lost both of his eyes at the age of three. He always greeted Hamilton's customers and would enter the restaurant saying, "the CEO is here", referring to himself. Sadly his nephew ended up passing away following a chain of unfortunate events. Hamilton got his niche back into culinary arts through a group he founded dedicated to bringing unity amongst local chefs by the name of Underground Kitchen. It consist of like-minded chefs in Trinidad who share ideas about how to expand Trinidad and Tobago's culinary scene.

Chef Hamilton is currently working on his first book which is taking him through the rediscovery and discovery of local flavors. He is also the man behind Chef Ready which is a kitchen company that focuses on live culinary experiences. Chef Ready will be hosting live demonstrations on how to carve and stuff whole meats such as lamb, goat and chicken and also does catering services. One of the first things you will notice is that he is a very humble, selfless and passionate person. His desire to mentor youth who have a love for culinary arts and to make Trinidad and Tobago's cuisine known around the world is extraordinary. To learn more about his culinary work and future projects you can follow him on his social media pages: Facebook and Instagram

If you are in Trinidad and Tobago or plan on visiting this month make sure to check out Trinidad Restaurant week September 16th - 25th.

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Best Of San Diego

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Best Of San Diego

Where to Play

USS MIDWAY AND UNCONDITIONAL SURRENDER STATUE

I've always seen the iconic V-J Day photo and fell in love with it, so when I heard there was a statue resembling it in San Diego I had to go check it out. The statue stands near the USS Midway which was the leading ship of it's class and commissioned 2 weeks after WWII. Entry for the ship is free for all military and regular pricing is $20, but you can get your tickets for as low as $16 on www.reservesandiego.com. Give yourself about 2-3 hours to tour the entire ship. 

CHILDRENS POOL BEACH IN LA JOLLA

La Jolla is the Beverly Hills of San Diego. You might even pass Dr. Seuss' home on your way there.  The Children's Pool was a place parent's taught their kids how to swim since it is soo shallow, but soon after the sea lions took over. There are also tide pools nearby where you can check out some beautiful sea-creatures.

BELMONT PARK - MISSION BEACH

Belmont Park is a great place to play while on vacation and free to enter. They have tickets you can purchase for rides as well as food and snacks. You can enjoy everything from ziplining, rock-climbing to go carts. If you are visiting during the summer months check out Sea World's fireworks schedule. I happened to catch a nice view of the show behind the park.

BALBOA PARK

This park is magnificent and I fell in love with the architecture. It contains museums, several theaters, and the world-famous San Diego Zoo. There are also many recreational facilities and several gift shops and restaurants within the boundaries of the park.

Sunset Cliffs

We took an Uber to Sunset Cliffs not sure how it was going to work out but it did. I still think it's best to rent a car for a day as you would have to be at a specific location for your driver to find you and there is no restaurant or shops nearby for you to walk to. You are lucky if you get to see the sun actually set. Our view was blocked by marine clouds but overall it was a wonderful experience. We walked down the stairway where you can climb over a few rocks, but be careful. It's slippery. 

 

Where to Eat

Sushi Freak - Sushiritto heaven. There are two locations. One on Linda Vista Ave and the other in East Village.

The Taco Stand - This restaurant is definitely worth the drive to La Jolla. It hasn't been opened for a year and the place is already raving with reviews. 

The Donut Bar - I was looking forward to trying their strawberry donut, but unfortunately they were sold out. I never had a donut with bacon on it before so I decided why not. There are 3 beverages you can choose from; water, coffee or beer. I chose beer...duh!

Rockin Baja - There are two locations Old Town and Gaslamp Tavern. These locations are tourist traps than anything else, but if you're a fan of Pokemon Go you will find alot there. ;) Rockin Baja has live music and while you are waiting for your food they have a buffet where you can indulge yourself in unlimited chips and a variety of salsa. The mango was my favorite.

Visit Mexico

We decided to take a spontaneous trip to Mexico after we found it it was only a 25 minute drive. Once you get close enough to the border you can walk or continue driving through. We chose to walk and paid $10 for all day parking. Make sure you have your passport handy. I know many people say you don't need a passport to go to Mexico, but people use your brain. If they need a passport or other legal documents to come to the US we need one to visit their country as well. Security will ask you for one.

Once we got through security we took a taxi to Tijuana that cost $6, bought some souvenirs and enjoyed dollar coronas and tacos of course. Our driver was very nice. Since none of us had service on our phones he stopped at a shop where he knew the owners and told them to call him when we were ready for a ride back. When you get back to the border, if you walked, your line will definitely be longer than coming in since you are also in line with locals. We met a woman who lives in Mexico and said she goes through the line 5 days a week for work and it can be as long as 3 hours. This was a Friday afternoon and we were only in line for an hour which felt like forever. If you do plan on taking a trip to Mexico from California I used the BWT app, it helps with keeping you informed on how long passenger and pedestrian lines are for different border locations.

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Lyft (code: TERRI506767) and Uber (code: 1YYHC) are always available but you can also purchase a Compass day pass for $7 (including card). It allows you to ride on the trolley and bus. At one point I ended up getting a Taxi since it was a short drive back to my hotel. I remember my driver saying he had a bad 4th of July because a lot of people were taking Uber and Lyft so I do ask if you're only a skip away from your destination please consider taking a Taxi if you see one. These people have families to feed as well. San Diego is such a beautiful city. No humidity and cool breeze and you can't forget the delicious and authentic tacos and burritos. HAPPY TRAVELS!

 

 

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Solo In Miami

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Solo In Miami

Miami has soo much to offer when it comes to restaurants, clubs, shopping and networking with successful people. This is one of the cities I never really got a chance to explore. Either I was stopping by for a connecting flight to the Caribbean or driving through to get on a cruise. 

Miami can be an expensive place to visit especially if you want to stay near the beach. I found several places on Airbnb that fit my budget in the Brickell area. It had everything I needed within walking distance and I chose a really nice condo with this amazing view. It's only 25 minutes from South Beach and 10 minutes from Wynwood. 

 View from my Airbnb Rental in Brickell

View from my Airbnb Rental in Brickell

 Rooftop pool party at Dream Hotel

Rooftop pool party at Dream Hotel

Wynwood walls reminds me of little 5 Points in Atlanta but more hip and artsy. There is also a free art museum vintage car museum in the middle of it all. You'll find graffiti art everywhere you look. Even on the sidewalks. 

Lyft and Uber is very accessible. They are everywhere. I met a local who gave me his code and I received 5 free rides up to $10. Not bad at all. ( Lyft code: TERRI506767) I ended up taking a trip to Ocean Drive to visit the Mansion formerly owned by Gianni Versace. It's now called The Villa Casa Casuarina and operates as a restaurant and hotel. You can get a room for up to $2000 a night! Ocean drive is filled with bars and restaurants down the strip. I stopped at a gay bar called The Palace and they were hosting a drag show on the side walk. It was pretty awesome. This was my first time travelling solo and I'm happy I picked this city to do so. Everyone is soo welcoming and helpful. I even got invited to a rooftop pool party. 

The next day I met up with my cousin at a waterfront restaurant called Crazy About You. It had spectacular views of the ocean and boats. If you happen to take a visit try the calamari pizza. Soo delicious. 

May I add that South Pointe Park is one of the most beautiful places to watch the sunset.

 South Pointe Park Miami

South Pointe Park Miami

 

 

 

 

 

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