Toco Beach Get-A-Way

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Toco Beach Get-A-Way

I'm in Trinidad and Tobago where I was born currently visiting family and friends and soon to call this island home. For the weekend my family and friends decided to go on a vacation and rent a beach house in Toco. How many people get to go a vacation within a vacation? lol From where I was staying in Arima the drive was about 2 hours long going up the mountains and on some narrow and really windy roads. We took a break and stopped at an overlook of the ocean within our half way point.With a group of 9+ people we stayed in Tocopita Villa. A 3 bedroom house, fully equipped kitchen and gorgeous view of the ocean. If you ever need anything the main office is a 10 minute walk downhill near one of the sister villa's called Hosanna. Hosanna, in my opinion, was a much nicer villa with a better view of the ocean and accompanies 6 persons. There is no "beach" per-say but you can walk down the stairs to the ocean and do some rock climbing, but I'll leave that to the brave. Also on Hosanna's property is a gazebo and two hammocks which would make a lovely time to lay and watch the sunrise or sunset and if you look ahead you will see the tip of Tobago. 

The next day after having a big lime ("party" in Trini slang) and recovering we found a beach and went out and took a swim. On our way we stopped and took some photos. Be mindful that we are on a mountain and walking on windy roads so there are many blind spots. Know which side of the road to walk on so if you have a group of 6 best bet is to book a room at Hosanna Resort. With the area we chose to bathe in you still have to be careful because there are some big rocks in the ocean and gives out some pretty big waves from time to time, but a great spot to take photos.

 

This past weekend has been very adventurous. Every one should take time to travel for weeks or even months at the time to truly experience the world we live in and the best part is that we get to create our own adventure. I'm TravelJunkii and I hope to see you to travel across the globe.


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"Mind The Gap"

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"Mind The Gap"

How To Ride The London Tube

"Mind the gap." I'm really going to miss hearing that. For someone who is not use to riding public transporation the tube map was difficult to understand. The locals are soo kind and willing to help. I never came across anyone who was rude when I asked them how to get to  a specific destination. The day I throughly learned how to understand the tube was when I asked someone for directions. His reponse to me was, "look up." Next thing you know I see a sign that read my destination and the length of time I would have to wait for my train to arrive. This is the key to riding the tube. When I was doing my research before my departure what was missing was this one helpful tip. Here are a few more tips to help you on your journey.

 

  • Plan your route before you leave. Know which line you have to take to your destination and if you need a connecting train. The London Underground incudes 11 lines with 270 stations.

  • Once you get off the plane there is usually someone handing out free maps. If you don't get one it's easy to download an app on your phone. I used this TFL recommended app.

  • Identify what zone your destination is in. Six concentric zones are marked on the map by alternate white and gray in the back ground. Most major tourist destinations are within zones 1 and 2. 

  • Know the difference between a Travelcard and Oystercard. A Travelcard (paper ticket) is valid for 1 to 7 days and an Oystercard is a prepaid card that you can add credit to at anytime. To make sure you are staying within your budget, select a ticket that will work in the zones you choose to travel. An Oyster card also works for the bus.

  • Make sure you are at the correct platform for the train going your direction. There will be electronic signs at some platforms that will tell you how many minutes until your train arrives. 

  • You have to use your card to enter and exit the station so make sure you always have it handy. When you purchase your Oystercard call the number on the back to register it. If you ever lose your card they will give you another one with your remaining balance.

If you are intrested in a travelcard + London pass to get discounts on attractions visit Londonpass.com. To get more information on the UNderground visit www.tfl.gov.

 

Happy Travels!


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Trip to London and Paris

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Trip to London and Paris

I took this awesome trip to London and France with my cousins from Trinidad and Tobago. We went there to attend a family members wedding. It was the most beautiful wedding I've ever attended. 

PICCADILLY & OXFORD CIRCUS

Our first day out we went to Piccadilly and Oxford Circus. If you love shopping this will be Heaven to you. Piccadilly and Oxford are within walking distance of each other. Here you can sit by the Statue of Eros (a popular meeting point) and watch some break dancers or take some photos in front of the iconic advertising board.

WESTMINSTER

Big Ben, London Eye

It's been said that every tax payer in the city of London, owns a piece of Big Ben, but you may want to get a second opinion on that. As soon as we came off the tube Parliament was the first thing that caught our eye. You just have to see it in person. It looks like a building made of gold. Photos just don't do justice. If you don't have as much time as we did, to tour the area, your best bet would be to take a Thames River Cruise. Once you pass the London Eye there is a ticket booth with many options on what cruise would best fit your needs. They have everything from a tea to dinner cruise, but whichever you choose do not take the "London Eye Cruise." It is the most reasonable when it comes to price, but you will get a better experience on a different boat. Afterwards we went to visit the infamous Buckingham Palace.

MANCHESTER-PICCADILLY

Old Trafford

Soccer, as us Americans call it isn't really my thing, but for my cousin it was the only thing he cared about visiting in England. Manchester is about a 2 hour train ride from London. If you are traveling with a group of 3 or more you can get discounted rates at www.virgintrains.com.  We got round trip tickets and our fare included a bus ride to the stadium.

PARIS, FRANCE

Eiffel Tower/Notre Dame

paris2.jpg

Notre Dame during Sunrise

Notre Dame oh how I thought I would never meet you. We attended a Monday morning Mass at the cathedral. Mass times are Sundays at 8am and 6pm and Monday through Saturday at 8am and 9am. The only time Mass is held in English is Sunday at 6pm. I promise you would still fully enjoy it in French. I've also been to Mass held in Spanish. After Mass was over my cousins and I decided to take a tour (8.50) to the top of the cathedral to get a view of the city and take photos of the gargoyles. We walked about 5 flights of spiral stairs to a gift shop where we bought our tickets. Then we walked about another 5 flights of spiral stairs to the very top. Now let me put this lightly. For someone who is clautrophobic I probably shouldn't have taken this tour. The higher we went the smaller the space got and with claustrophobia mixed with anxiety I was completely out of breath by the time we got to the top. So that's just a warning.

The view was worth it, even though part of the view was interrupted by a large rope and fence I got some pretty awesome photos of the gargoyles. After that I was ready to leave. I told our tour guide I didn't want to go any higher and yes there are alot more stairs to go. I just wanted to get out of there so she un-tied the rope and I gave her a huge hug. I've never been so relieved in my life. As soon as I got to the ground level I started singing "God Is Soo Good."

For dinner we went to a seafood restaurant off the beaten path called Pedra Alta Bercy. Just look at all that food. 

Pedra Alta Bercy Restaurant

Pedra Alta Bercy Restaurant

There are alot more things I wish I could have done, but two weeks just isn't enough time to visit these beautiful cities and if anyone tells you don't visit Europe during the winter don't listen to them. It didn't feel that cold to me and I live in the south. It's also Christmas time so you'll have beautiful holiday lights, ice skating, Christmas markets and many activities to enjoy.

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Passport to Trinidad & Tobago: A Taste of T&T

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Passport to Trinidad & Tobago: A Taste of T&T

It's safe to say that when visiting the island you will party, dine and even drive like a local. Trinidad & Tobago's famously known foods are Creole foods such a pelau, macaroni pie and callaoo and East Indian foods which consist of roti and doubles. Pictured above is my aunt's homemade Pelau and roti dish. Pelau is a rice dish that contains pigeon peas and added meat such as chicken, beef or pig tail. Then you have everyone's famous island seasoning, curry. In T&T people eat their curry with a flat bread called Roti. There are different kinds of roti. For starters the most consumed are Dhal Puri, a hefty flour wrap filled with ground split peas, or Bus Up Shot which received it's name from its texture, appearence and similarity to a torn (burst) t-shirt. Leave it up to a Trini to come up with a name like that. The roti is then filled with your choice of curried vegetables and/or meat. I prefer to eat my Roti with goat because the flavors of the curry blend in nicely with the meat.

It's safe to say when visiting the island you will party, dine and even drive like a local. Trinidad & Tobago's famously known foods are Creole foods such a pelau, macaroni pie and callaoo and East Indian foods which consist of roti and doubles. Pictured above is my aunt's homemade Pelau and roti dish. Pelau is a rice dish that contains pigeon peas and added meat such as chicken, beef or pig tail. Then you have everyone's famous island seasoning, curry. In T&T people eat their curry with a flat bread called Roti. There are different kinds of roti. For starters the most consumed are Dhal Puri, a hefty flour wrap filled with ground split peas, or Bus Up Shot which received it's name from its texture, appearence and similarity to a torn (burst) t-shirt. Leave it up to a Trini to come up with a name like that. The roti is then filled with your choice of curried vegetables and/or meat. I prefer to eat my Roti with goat because the flavors of the curry blend in nicely with the meat.

When you travel on foot you will notice many vendors that sell food, candy, live crabs, coconut water and clothes. One of the famous foods to eat while touring the sister islands are Doubles. It is usually eaten as a breakfast dish or snack. Doubles consist of two flat breads topped with chick peas, mango, tamarind sauce, cucumber and pepper sauce if you can take the heat. Doubles to T&T is like Chickfila of the south. 

Doubles

Here is one of the dishes I had for breakfast. Macaroni pie is like macaroni and cheese except it is baked in the oven with herbs and stewed meat.

Traveling far from home can make you a little homesick. If you are craving a fast food restaurant back in the States and you want something that will satisfy your taste buds there is the world's famous KFC. You may be asking why would you travel overseas to eat KFC, but believe me when I tell you when you eat at this fast food chain on the island you will never want to eat American KFC again. The island of Trinidad and Tobago sells the most KFC in the world. Why? Because of the spices and crispness of the chicken. There is a burst of bold flavors and zest in every bite. Even my cousin who visited from London said he would never eat at a KFC in the U.K. again, but don't fool yourself into thinking you can go to any island and get the same experience. I've visited other islands and there is no comparison. Its just that good. Oh, ans did I mention they deliver? 

Trinidad is filled with markets that sell fresh produce. My favorite is located in Arima where my parents grew up called, Arima Market. Here you will find all the exotic fruits and vegetables you need and you can have yourself a coconut water while shopping. Popular fruits are chennet, a red fruit that looks like an Apple and very white on the inside called Pommerac, coconut and tamarind just to name a few. If you are staying on the island of Trinidad and looking for a formal dining experience I recommend dining at the Hyatt Hotel in Port of Spain. It consists of three restaurants and two bars.  Waterfront Restaurant is where you will indulge in modern island cuisine, fresh seafood mouthwatering steaks and a bounty of delicious tropical fare with a relaxing view of the gulf. Additionally you have Sushi Bar and Cinnamon where you can treat yourself to delicious gourmet coffee and delectable baked goods.

Nylon pool in Tobago

You may have heard thatTrinidadians and Tobagons love to lime (party) when it comes to Carnival, holidays and birthdays and they make sure to show themselves out. Their weddings even take place on the streets like a parade along with a steel band. I visited a few clubs with my cousins in Port of Spain. The first called Club ZEN which is known to be "World Famous". The best days to go are on Wednesdays. They play everything from Soca, Reggae, techno and dance hall. On the other side of the city a club called 51 Degrees brings you a 25 and older crowd, VIP sections, two bars and a balcony to mix and mingle with old and new friends. The beer of T&T is Carib and second to it is Stag which is what they call the "Man's Beer." To me Stag is the equivalent of Budweiser when it comes to taste but a little better.

You can't take vacation to an island without going to the beach. Perhaps that may be all you see from where you are staying. The famous beach of Tobago is Pigeon Point. If you are staying on the island of Trinidad you will take a ferry, that cost no more that 25.00 US which is a two hour boat ride to Tobago. During my trip I went on a glass bottom boat to the Bucco Reefs, scuba-dived and swam in the nylon pool. In Trinidad the most famous beach is Maracas Beach. The water may not be as nice and clear as Pigeon Point, but no trip to Maracas is complete without a taste of Bake' N Shark at Richards Bake 'N Shark stand. Seasoned and deep fried fillets of shark are stuffed in fried battered bread and topped with cabbage, lettuce, onions and home made pepper sauce.

Bake and Shark

Bake and Shark

There is soo much to explore on the sister islands and they both have different things to offer.  Tobago gives you beautiful sites and laid back atmosphere, mostly catered to tourist, while Trinidad brings you nightlife, great food and beautiful shopping malls. Trinidad and Tobago host annual festivals such as Carnival in February, food festivals in the months of March, October and November as well as crab races.

I hope to see you on the beautiful islands of Trinidad and Tobago soon. 

Happy Travels. 

 

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