Posts Tagged With: travel

A Rebirthed Mostar

Visiting Bosnia and Herzegovina is a really easy day trip from Dubrovnik. We had time on our hands so we bought a 290 kuna trip to visit Mostar and Počitelj. The trip included transportation and guide to both cities.

We visited Mostar first. Upon arriving, I started noticing the heavily pockmarked buildings. As we walked down the streets to get to the bridge, our guide somberly explained to us about the 1992-1994 Croat-Bosniak War. The city was basically demolished and ravaged over the two years.


Building ravaged by bullets

Included in the destruction was the Stari Most, meaning “Old Bridge”. It took more than 60 shells and tank fire to bring down the bridge. A spokesman for the Croats admitted they destroyed the bridge because of its strategic importance; however, academics argue the Croats destroyed the bridge because they wanted to destroy something of cultural significance.


Stari Most – Mostar’s most iconic landmark


View from the top of Stari Most


The Koski Mehmed Paša Mosque. You can enter the mosque and take photos free of charge

Today the bridge is fully reconstructed, using the same stone and building method as the original. Although the bridge does serve as a poignant memorial of the war, it’s most famous for its divers. These crazy, courageous men dive off the 79ft bridge into the Neretva River. Not only is the Neretva River freezing, it’s a little less than 10ft deep. Once they do it, the men get a tattoo of the bridge as a badge of honor.


Getting ready to take a scary dive


A pretty cafe along the river with a great view of the bridge


One of my favorite pictures of all time

Make sure to bring comfortable shoes as the streets are ancient cobblestone and the bridge is a little steep. If you’re hungry or want something to nosh on, I definitely recommend eating a burek. It’s like a flaky pizza-shaped croissant filled with cheese (or other ingredients). It is HEAVEN in your mouth especially with a coke to chase it down.


I wish I can find burek in the USA

On our way back to Dubrovnik, we stopped at a small town called Počitelj. We only had 20 minutes to look around so Lenny and I hauled our asses to reach the top of the citadel. Boy, were we glad we hustled! We had an amazing view of the mosque against the blues and greens of the Neretva River.


The citadel nestled on top of the city


Such a GORGEOUS view on top of the citadel


I’m a little obsessed with the structures of mosques

I CANNOT wait to go back and visit more of Bosnia and Herzegovina!

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A day trip to Lokrum

An easy day trip from Dubrovnik is to the island of Lokrum. Because of its close proximity (a 15 minute ride), it’s popular amongst the locals and tourists.

Getting to the island is super easy. Just go to the old port, Porporela, and you’ll find different companies that will take you. A ticket is 60 kunas round trip and the boats run from every half hour from 9 a.m to 7 p.m. The island is tiiiiiny, less than one mile wide, making it a sublime day trip.

It’s the perfect place to have a picnic and a swim. Make sure to bring snacks and drinks, as there’s only one café on the island.










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My time in Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik is a gorgeous city… like drop dead gorgeous. It has one of the most spectacular coastlines I’ve ever seen. Because of its natural beauty and its official EU member status, its popularity has been soaring faster than Justin Bieber’s music career. I thought the Mediterranean Sea was to die for in Italy, but the sparkling blues of the Adriatic Sea totally stole my heart. Even Woody Harrelson was impressed with Dubrovnik stating, “I first came to Dubrovnik in 1996 and was blown by the beauty of this ancient town hugging the sea, the kindness of the people and the tallness of the women! I always have fun there but dearly miss it when I’m away for too long”.

Lenny and I arrived on a Thursday and we stayed until Tuesday. We actually had more than enough time to sightsee at a leisure pace.

Here are some of the highlights of Dubrovnik:


The best known area is the Old Town and it offers stunning views of the city. It’s 90 kunas to purchase a ticket to get the best shots.


I swear I sang “Part of your world” like 50 times while walking along the city walls. To me, Dubrovnik screamed The Little Mermaid.

Prince Eric’s castle. Look alike, no?


Dubrovnik became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1979. From 1991-1998, it was endangered by Serb-Montenegrin forces and today you can still see some of the damages from the war. Luckily for us, the city remains in tact and offers us a glimpse of its history.


There are tons of kayak companies that will take you to the nearby islands for a swim and picnic and they do so for a reasonable price. DSC06652

See the white umbrellas? There’s a sweet hole-in-the-wall bar called Buza. The drinks are pretty pricey but you’re rewarded with a great view of the Adriatic Sea and the island Lokrum. If you’re adventurous enough, Buza is also a great place to go cliff diving.


You can catch a ride to Dubrovnik’s nearest island, Lokrum, for 60 kunas at the old port.


See how new the terracota roof tiles are? You can see how Dubrovnik tries to retain its old charm and beauty despite being ravaged by the war.


Seriously, it’s ridiculous how beautiful this city is!


After climbing Mount Srd, you can see the countryside of Bosnia and Herzegovina.


With 80 kunas, this cable car will take you to the top of Mount Srd. Lenny and I actually hiked Mount Srd instead of taking the cable car. It took us about 1.5 hrs one way. You can also drive up to the top.


The greens and blues from the top.


Sitting on the top of the world.


The Mount Srd trail gives you a fantastic view of the Old Town and the islands surrounding Dubrovnik. Fun fact: Over one thousand islands belong to Croatia.


Banje is  Dubrovnik’s closest and most famous beach. It’s right outside the city walls. Just a tip: bring water shoes when you come to Croatia. It’s  totally worth the small investment.


I need to figure out how I can live my life here.

Categories: Croatia, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

Colorful Croatia

Croatia is by far my favorite place I’ve travelled to. The first thing I noticed were the hues of blue and green: turquoise, indigo, mint, aqua, emerald, olive, pistachio, pine green and so many more.

I’m going to share my favorite photo of the cities I went to. I hope you guys enjoy them as much as I enjoyed experiencing it.










Plitvice Lakes





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Malaga bound

Today is the day! All my stuff is packed and luckily I wasn’t charged for going 5lbs over the limit! We’re flying with TAP airlines to Lisbon, Portugal and then Malaga, Spain. Once we arrive tomorrow, we’ll have 4 days to find an apartment, figure out our residency renewal and do all the miscellaneous things like grocery shopping, setting up Internet and figuring out our first lesson plan for our kiddies. I can’t wait to start another year with Lenny and see where life takes us in this new adventure.



Categories: Sarai Quiel, Spain, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Less than 3 weeks until Spain!

Finally! I’ve been here for 3 months and I’m dying to get back to Spain. Don’t get me wrong, I love my family and the conveniences I missed while I was away in Spain but I am ready to go back.

Things I’ve missed while I’ve been in the States:

  1. Cañas and olives: Before I arrived to Spain, I would have sworn up and down that I loathed olives and olives hated me. But now I’m addicted to the green ones. And nothing goes better with olives than a nice glass of Cruzcampo.

    Photo courtesy of Ruby

  2. Modes of transportation: At $3.65 a gallon, I can’t afford to drive 30-60 minutes away to find entertainment on my limited budget. It was so much easier in Spain. If I’m bored, I can walk 10 minutes to the heart of the city or the nearest beach or park. If I wanted to go to another part of Malaga or another town, I’d hop on the bus or train and for less than €7, I could go about an hour away roundtrip. Amazing, isn’t it?
  3. People: Malagueños are super nice. They give crappy directions but they’re always willing to help you out. And I miss people watching especially when Lenny can look at a person and just know their life story.
  4. My job: Yes, I sorta dislike kids but MY kids are the cutest kids. Now that I have a little experience in teaching, I’m excited to go back and be a better teacher and teach them awesome English stuff. Plus, I totally miss making and spending monies!

    Some of my kiddies

    Some of my kiddies

  5. Travelling: I miss checking skyscanner, ryanair and easyjet for great travel deals. One of the great things about living in Spain is having the accessibility to explore the world so cheaply. Greece, Turkey and Egypt are on my to-do list this year.

    Best part of Malaga? The airport is only 10 minutes away on the train!

  6. Cheap fresh fruit and veggies at the fruteria: Fruits and vegetables are SO cheap in Spain! I usually spend less than 15 euros for about 10 kilos of fruits and veggies. Also, there’s so much life and culture at the market. When I’m buying my things alongside the people who’ve lived in Malaga for decades, I feel like I really belong in the community.

    Nom nom nom!

  7. Walking anywhere: There’s something strangely therapeutic about walking to a destination (this coming from someone who hates walking). It helps me get some exercise and also calms my mind from the little things Spain does that irritate me.

    Up in the mirador to get the best view of Malaga

  8. Not tipping: Maybe I’m just super stingy or I’d rather use that money to buy clothes, but I hate tipping. I never noticed how much we tipped in the USA until I returned. We tip for food, drinks, waxing, haircuts, etc. Even though I receive crappy customer service in Spain, I’m glad to return to my non-tipping ways.
  9. Clothes: Bershka, Mango, Pull and Bear, Zara, Stradivarius.

    My favorite store =3

  10. Tapas: I’m a born snacker and the most brilliant thing for a snacker is tapas! Normally under 5€, it’s the perfect snack, light lunch or appetizer. Nothing’s better than going with a group of friends and getting different tapas to share.

    Photo courtesy of

Categories: Sarai Quiel, Spain, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments


“If the world were a single state, Istanbul would have been its capital.” – Napoleon Bonaparte

Istanbul is absolutely majestic. With its impressive history, this city me giddy with excitement to explore and explore I did.

The Grand Bazaar was one of my favorite sites. Colorful can’t even begin to describe this shopping wonder. Opened in 1461, it has over 4,000 shops. One can buy anything from hookahs, jewelry, souvenirs, ceramics, magic carpets or magic lamps. Never accept a person’s first price because you’re expected to haggle for the best price, often lowering the initial price to half. Unfortunately, all I could do is ogle and take pictures of the things I wanted considering all I brought was a backpack as luggage for 13 days of travelling. Make sure to give yourself 2-3 hours to sniff around because it’s enormous and worth getting lost.

Another cool site was an underground cistern practically in the center of Sultanahmet. A cistern is a fancy word to describe a reservoir that stores water. It was built by Emperor Justinian in 532 CE and it holds 335 marble pillars that supports the roof! The bottom is filled with water and is lit with orange-looking light that makes one believe there’s gold or hidden monsters lurking for their next meal. At the end of the walkway are two mysterious giant Medusa heads. No one knows why they were placed in the cistern. I like to think they were there to combat those hidden monsters lurking in the water. At the end of our little walking tour, Lenny and I did the super touristy thing and paid to take pictures in traditional Turkish clothes.

I think mosques are so beautiful and majestic. The exterior is just as impressing as the interior. The Mosque of Sultan Ahmet I, also known as the Blue Mosque, is right across the Hagia Sophia. Five times a day, you’ll hear this enchanting call to prayer being broadcasted from the speakers of the Blue Mosque. Only allowed to enter during the non-worship hours, you have to take your shoes off. Ladies, if you’re showing off your legs or shoulders, they’ll give you a wrap to cover yourselves. Inside, you’re greeted with enormous chandeliers and beautiful ceiling work. It’s free to enter and enjoy.

This UNESCO word heritage site is the famous Hagia Sophia. It was rebuilt by Emperor Justinian in 537 CE and was the center of Orthodox Christianity for 900 years until 1453. When the city was conquered by the Ottomans, Sultan Mehmed II converted it into a mosque and it became known as the grand mosque of the sultans. In 1935, Hagia Sophia was preserved into a museum and is now one of the coolest and most important monuments in the world. Inside, you can still see the Christian mosaics alongside the turkish treasures.

If you want some real Turkish food or nightlife, take the tram up to Taksim Square. This side of Istanbul is super modern and feels like a metropolitan city. Here you’ll find most of the nice hotels, restaurants, nightclubs and shopping centers. Fortunately for me, my friend Selim who I met when we both studied abroad in Florence, Italy, lives in Istanbul and insisted in taking Lenny and I out to eat. He treated us to real authentic Turkish food, helped us learn a couple of Turkish words and took us out for drinks (Be aware of the taxes on alcohol. A couple of drinks can get pretty expensive).

Here are some of my other favorite pictures from around Istanbul:

If you like an adventure and want to experience something unique and amazing, take a trip to Istanbul! Have any of you guys been to Istanbul? Or somewhere else in Turkey?

Categories: Sarai Quiel, Turkey, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Better than Hallmark cards

My last week of school consisted of little 6 and 7 years olds saying/asking me, “No te vayas seño!”, “Quedate en España” and “Regresa el proximo año?”. Basically, “Don’t leave teacher!”, “Stay in Spain” and “You return next year?”.

One adorable student even said I could live in his room for the summer. Laughing at his cuteness, I asked him in Spanish, “You and I living together in your room?”. Blushing, he sheepishly told me he would sleep on the couch. My heart melted at his sweetness.

My last day, between hugs and kisses on the cheek, I reassured each of my 6 classes that I’m definitely coming back for another year and that I’ll miss them tons. And I do miss them. I miss their genuineness, their innocence and their ability to make me angry one second and then have me laughing and smiling the next.

As a goodbye gift, my students made me farewell cards that had me laughing, smiling and pondering at some of their drawings. Here’s a collection of some of my favorites:

Left picture: Paula in the sky with tears
Right picture: I think I’m the one with short boy hair and boobs standing under the American flag… I think?

Left picture: Do you think I could pull off brown hair like the one in the drawing?
Right picture: “The best teacher that one could have” <– Aww! Adorable, aren’t they?

Left picture: Oh hai there, big giant flower! Nice to meet you.
Right picture: [cue in Celine’s voice] My heart will go on!

Left picture: “I’ll miss you a lot Sarai”
Right picture: I swear in real life I’m only 5’2 ft on a good day, I swear!

Left picture: Myself with our imaginary school pet, Mr. Fox.
Right picture: Myself, Carmen and Mr. Robot.

Left picture: Do you think my students are trying to tell me I should go brunette?
Right picture: Guapa!

Left picture: I secretly live in a castle in Florida. I wish =)
Right picture: My kids have a hard time with “te quiero” = “i love YOU”. Just add the you’s where needed.

My personal favorite!
Left picture: I kinda look like a scary chocolate bear.
Right picture: I guess I’m Pocahontas’ twin.

My life in Florida with the boyfriend and our boat because that’s how we got to Spain from Florida. LOL

Beautiful words from my awesome kids ♥

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All good things must come to an end

[It’s been 3 months since I last blogged. I knoooow, I’m sorry! Unfortunately my laptop decided not to work, so the blogging took a vacation while I appreciated my last 3 months in my version of paradise.]

I remember before I left the United States I was really excited  nervous (to the point where I had nervous diarrhea. Does that happen to anyone else?!). I mean, 9 months without your friends and family in a strange country sounds exactly what it sounds like: exciting, risky, insane, awesome, wild, adventurous. And all those adjectives exactly describe my life in Spain.

These 9 months have gone by faster than the time it takes to wash and dry my laundry, Kim Kardashian’s wedding and the Miami zombie attack (too soon?). Here’s a month by month recap of my life through pictures.


We found our apartment in Malaga!

We get our NIEs

Sniffing around the Malagueta for the first time


Making friends/getting drunk at our orientation

Up in the Gibralfaro in Malaga

Malaga’s version of Oktoberfest

Halloween spanish style is scary not slutty


Chillin’ in Cadiz

Jerez de la Frontera

Sherry tasting at Tio Pepe

Bicycle + canals = Amsterdam

The sign was too huge to get in one single shot


Who knew Morocco could look like this?

The Royal Palace gates of Fes

Riding on a camel through the Sahara Desert

Group picture at Asilah, Morocco

Christmas time in the Plaza de la Constitucion

Belem in front of the cathedral

Christmas party in our apartment!

Super cute ‘pueblo blanco’ called Frigiliana

Decorated windows in Frigiliana

Plaza de España in Sevilla

Inside of the Sagrada Familia

Baaaarcelona for New Year’s


Typical Porto food of francezhina, which is a sandwich with steak, sausage and ham, topped with melted cheese and smothered in some yummy sauce and fried egg. -Portugal

Sintra’s Pena Palace

View of the Atlantic Ocean from Portugal


Malaga vs. Sevilla soccer game

Malaga won! Puta Se-vi-lla, puta Sevilla!

Inside Dracula’s castle in Transylvania, Romania

Peles Castle in Sinaia, Romania

In front of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey

Inside a turkish market

Inside a squat in Berlin, Germany

Seeing history with my own eyes! Part of the Berlin Wall!


My little sister came to visit! Eating at Muelle Uno

Making chocolate oreo truffle balls

Around the Teide area in Tenerife

Garachico’s natural swimming pools

Playa Teresitas in Tenerife

Driving up the mountains of Tenerife

My favorite picture of the Canary monkeys


Semana Santa pastries

Sevilla’s feria

Traditional flamenco dresses

Cabo de Gata in Almeria

Los patios in Cordoba

Las Cruces in Cordoba

Another gorgeous patio


My brother, his girlfriend and our three other friends came to visit! We’re standing in front of the “Antonio Banderas” statue

SO moist to feed a Gibraltar monkey!

The monkeys are hoooongry

Cliff jumping in Nerja

Playing around in the beautiful water

Waterfall in Ronda

Ronda’s another classic “pueblo blanco”

In front of Ronda’s new puente

And that’s pretty much my year in a nutshell. It’s been a fantastic experience where I’ve grown, learned and explored. As I said, all good things must come to an end.. until September. Luckily, I’ll be back in Malaga for another year with my best friend/love Lenny.

I couldn’t ask for a better person to share this experience with ❤

And the countdown until September 26 begins Malaga!

Categories: Sarai Quiel, Spain, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Bună ziua Romania!

Lenny and I went to Romania for the first few days of our Semana Blanca. At first, I was terrified of going to Romania because of the weather. Being a Floridian girl, I don’t own snow boots or heavy jackets. So I went to my favorite cheap store in Malaga, Primark, and bought myself a jacket that looked like it would keep me warm from the cold and snow for €9!

My jacket was worth every céntimo!

I found Mountain Dew in Romaaania!

Here are some of the things I saw and did, as well as some random facts:

  • 1 eur = 4.35 lei (Romania’s currency. Depending on where you are some people call it ‘lei’ and some call it ‘ron’) Everything in Romania is cheap after you exchange your euros! You’ll soon notice!

111 Lei is about 25 euros

  • We stayed in the Kismet Dao Hostel and I HIGHLY recommend it. The staff was very friendly and informative. If you pay for 3 nights, your 4th night is free. Each night, you get a free bottle of beer, water or soda. There’s unlimited WiFi, free big lockers in your room, free use of towels, free use of kitchen, etc. We paid €9 per night and it was one of the best hostels I’ve stayed in Europe.
  • The language is a romance language. A lot of their words sound or look similar to Italian, surprisingly.
  • When leaving the airport, be wary of people who offer you taxi services because they’ll hustle you. One will say it’s 30 euros to the city center and no less. Another one will say 40. Just pass by that bullshit and look around the parking lot for taxis. Those taxi men will give you a better rate. You shouldn’t pay more than 20 lei (5 euro) give or take.
  • “Guided” taxi tour: For €35, we got a taxi man to drive us to Bran’s Castle, Rasnov, Poiana and back to Brasnov. It was nice because we had limited time and didn’t want to worry about transportation troubles so we took his offer. He was a really sweet man and we got to do everything we wanted in a day!
  • Bran Castle aka Dracula’s castle: For students, it’s 5 lei. The castle inside is pretty bare but the views are gorgeous.

Entrance of Bran Castle

Trying to find Dracula through his secret passage ways!

Views of the city

Isn’t the sky pretty?

MTV’s Cribs should do a show on Bran Castle

  • Rasnov: It was 3 lei to go up to the fortress on a bumpy tractor and 5 lei for students to go inside the fortress. The fortress, in my opinion, was pretty lame but the views of city were phenomenal. It was definitely worth the 5 lei to take those pictures.

They loved imitating California’s “Hollywood” sign all over Romania

Playing with the snow outside my fortress

Bitchin’ views

  • Poiana: Poiana is a ski resort and it’s reasonably priced. It’s becoming a more popular destination so the prices will probably sky-rocket but for now it’s a cheap destination for any international snow lover.

Raging on the slopes

  • Sinaia’s Peles Castle was built by King Carol I of Romania as a summer home in 1872. In more recent times, people like Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Muammar al-Gaddafi and Yasser Arafat have all been guests at the castle. According to Wikipedia, “Peleş Castle has a 3,200-square-metre (34,000 sq ft) floor plan with over 170 rooms, many with dedicated themes from world cultures. Themes vary by function (offices, libraries, armories, art galleries) or by style (Florentine, Turkish, Moorish, French, Imperial); all the rooms are extremely lavishly furnished and decorated to the slightest detail”. You have to pay around 30 lei to take pictures inside. Unfortunately, I didn’t pay and regretted not taking pictures of the inside.

Sinaia’s cemetery


Sinaia’s monastery

Peles Castle

Beautiful statues

  • Eating in Romania is deliciously cheap. For example: (2) soups with bread (2) beers (1) soda (1) chicken in mushroom sauce with rice dish (1) pork spare ribs with potatoes dish and (1) 10% generous tip all came out to 75 lei. That’s about 15 euro to eat a full meal in a super nice authentic Romanian restaurant.

Transylvanian sour pork soup

Romanians eat hearty meals during the winter and my fatass loved it

Lenny’s meal

  • The average monthly salary of a Romanian is about €360.
  • There are a ton of stray dogs in Romania (it broke my heart). Why? In the mid 1980’s, dictator Ceausescu wanted to make Bucharest rival any great European city so he demolished a huge section of residential neighborhoods to make his city greater. This left residents to abandon their dogs, leaving thousands and thousands of dogs to fend for their selves.

Poor things. Romania wants to euthanize thousands of dogs.

Save me!

  • Nightlife in Romania is fantastic. People are ACTUALLY dancing (unlike the Spaniards). The music is pumping through your body while you’re pumping alcohol into your system. It was sweet! Check out Lenny’s personal favorite Sweet Love. ß I think Lenny’s more obsessed with the smoking hot Romanian woman than the actual song haha.

I really enjoyed Romania and would recommend it to anyone who wants a cute cheap destination. I hear Romania in the summer is equally beautifully so I think I may persuade Lenny to go back next year before the snow starts to fall.

Categories: Romania, Sarai Quiel, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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