Our first trip to Israel

Well, it’s been a bit more than a month since our trip to Israel and I’m excited to finally share photos from this trip. A lot of people were asking us what made us want to go here. The trip was sort of spontaneous but it’s somewhere we have always wanted to go. My grandfather is from Israel and so I have a lot of family still living there. The country also holds a lot of historical and biblical importance and so as Christians, it’s somewhere we felt was significant to visit for that reason.

Upon arriving in Israel, my husband and I were greeted by someone the most hospitable and warm people I’ve ever met; my family. I have about 40 relatives living there and we were greeted with an immeasurable amount of hospitality. The first night there, we were treated to an amazing traditional Friday Sabbath dinner. It was amazing and I will forever be grateful to my family for hosting us and giving us the most memorable experience our first time in the country.

There are so many things I can talk about from this trip but I will try not to make this post a small essay. To keep is short, Israel is amazing!!!! There is so much to do and see, and because the country is pretty small, you can do a lot of it in a week. My husband and I stayed in Haifa for the majority of the time and made day trips to places like the Sea of Galilee, the Jordan River, Capernaum, Nazareth, Jerusalem, Tel-Aviv, the Dead Sea, and Masada. Because we were able to stay with family, we did not do group tours. Instead, we rented a car for the week and drove on our own. Israel is a very easy country to drive in as they drive on the same side we do. We did get lost but only a few times and never badly lost. I would highly recommend renting a car rather than doing group tours as you set your own schedule and pace. (I will also add that Israel is very safe contrary to what many people may think. My husband and I spent the majority of our time traveling alone with no issues.)

The highlight of the trip for me was definitely the biblically historical places. Actually visiting places like Nazareth, Jerusalem, the Sea of Galilee, places where Jesus walked during his ministry was so surreal. Let’s just say I can never read the Bible the same way again. I actually got to see the places that are referenced which were so meaningful to me in many ways. We visited the Garden of Gethsemane (the garden where Jesus prayed in just before he went to the cross) in Jerusalem which was intense but also gave us a chance to reflect on the sacrifice Jesus made for us. Jerusalem itself is such a treasure, especially the old city. It feels like you are being transported through time as you walk through the market and the many other historical gems. There is so much to do and see in the Old City, you could easily spend two days there. The Western wall, mount of Olives, Tower of David, Absalom’s Tomb, and of course the Market are all located there so you’d definitely want to give yourself time to walk around and just wander a bit as you see these places.

One of my favorite things about Israel is the different landscapes. You could be driving along a highway and suddenly you will be in the desert surrounded by huge mountains and then a few miles later you’ll reach the countryside and may possibly spot some Shepards with herds of sheep or camels. Growing up in NYC, I had never seen such different landscapes before.

Tel-Aviv was our last stop on the trip. There we met up with some client turned friends of mine and had a great night out. Tel-Aviv is filled with coffee shops and restaurants. I’m not kidding when I say I felt like I was in Brooklyn. The vibe is the same. A lot of young people, artists, bike riders. It was great. Tel-Aviv is for those who really enjoy the nightlife. My favorite place in Tel-Aviv was definitely Jaffa, an old city by the water. There is a lot of artist shops here and it was just really beautiful to explore.

Of course, we ate a lot of food (not pictured because like always I forget to take a photo). We ate some typical dishes; falafel, shwarma, baklava, and so much more that I can't remember the names of. All I can say is that you will love the food regardless. My husband doesn’t eat meals without meat and he ate several vegan meals *gasp! but it was sooo good!

Israel will always have a special place in our hearts for both of us. It is a country that we will definitely be retuning weather alone or with my parents. I am sure there is so much more that we could do, but seeing as we were only there for a week, we wanted to get the most significant places checked off of our list. I can only imagine what Israeli’s do in the summertime! If you are planning a trip to Israel and have any questions, I would be happy to answer them! That’s all for now. On to my next adventure!

Fifth Anniversary trip to Puerto Rico

This is a blog post I have been wanting to share for a while now and finally found the time. As I begin to travel more, I’ve been making more of an effort to actually document my travels, something I tend to forget to do. Sometimes I think that since I’m on vacation I shouldn’t take photos but I’m trying to break that habit.

This past September my husband and I celebrated our fifth year wedding anniversary with a trip to Puerto Rico. I have always loved the island, and have visited many times. My father comes from Puerto Rico while my mother’s side is Israeli and European (my husband is Filipino, I like to think we are a family of United Nations). This was my husbands first visit to the island and he was convinced that the Philippines was the only place in the world with beautiful sandy beaches and waterfalls…boy was he wrong.

Many people had warned us not to take the trip to Puerto Rico because of hurricane season and Hurricane Maria which had hit just a year before, devastating much of the island. But Puerto Ricans are resilient people and although there is still much to be done, we were able to enjoy our stay there regardless. If you’re thinking of taking a vacation but don’t want to go too far, Puerto Rico is a great place! There is so much to do and see and the island relies heavily on tourism, so it’s a great opportunity to go.

We spent our first weekend with my family, catching up and going to places only they could take us to, because let’s face it, we’d probably get lost. We took a day trip to Boqueron, somewhere I hadn’t visited since I was 12. There you can buy the islands largest bacalaito which is a very common food made of fried codfish. One of the best things about the island is the food of course. We were able to go to Piñones to get some really delicious alcapurria, another common fried food (lots of fried food here) stuffed with beef or crab. These are of course some of my favorite things to eat while I’m there along with pasteles and tripletas. These are a must if you ever go! (Feel free to google these things, it’s definitely worth it).

We did not go to El Yunque because much of the paths in the rainforest were destroyed by the hurricane, but we were able to go to a beautiful hidden waterfall in the mountains of Bayamón. This place was amazing! Our tour guide, Jerry was just as wonderful and not to mention, you are accompanied to the waterfall with four of the cutest funniest dogs I’ve ever met who will literally greet you upon arrival before you can even step out of the van. After the waterfall you’ll build up an appetite so the next stop is at an amazing restaurant where they sell a lot of what I mentioned above and more. You can check out Jerry’s tours here. (I highly recommend!) I didn’t take photos of this but just imagine a beautiful waterfall and a cute chihuahua guiding you through the forest.

My favorite place to go while in Puerto Rico is Old San Juan. It is such a beautiful and charming city. We were able to rent an air b&b in old SJ. We spent most of our time anyway and there is also Uber so it’s really easy to get around other parts of SJ. The city itself is over 300 years old and I am always in awe every time I go. I also love history so I like to imagine what the city was like over the centuries when walking through the cobbled streets. The buildings in old San Juan are so charming and many of them are renovated and painted beautiful bright colors. Castillo San Felipe del Morro is probably the biggest tourist attraction in San Juan. It is a 400-year-old fort built by the Spanish when they first arrived at the island, and it overlooks the Atlantic Ocean. It truly is something to visit when you go. Old San Juan is a city that will capture your heart and trust me you will never want to leave because I sure didn’t. The people are so sweet and genuinely just want to share their culture with you! Below are some images my husband and I took during our stay there. Sorry, there are no food photos because I totally forgot to take them. I was way too excited to eat, so for now, you can enjoy bright colorful photos, some cats, and a few photos of me and Mario enjoying the island life. Of course there is so much more that I could share with you all about our trip, but for the sake of this post I will save it for a another time! Thanks for reading, on to my next adventure!