Travel is a time to contemplate where you've been and where you're going.
Corning, New York is a lovely small town about 5 hours outside of New York City. I traveled through this town while on a road trip to Niagara Falls. I stopped for lunch at a small cafe and took some pictures of "Market Street" the hub for locally owned businesses and shops. This historic town was the first manufacturing town of glassware in the United States.
Corning is home to the Corning Museum of Glass. I briefly stopped at the museum to see some of the historical work and take a workshop in glass making. Inside the museum, the exhibits were beautiful. I loved the museums incorporation of different areas around the world and their use of glass throughout history. The Corning Museum is dedicated to the art, history, and science of glass making. It was actually listed as one of the "Top 25 Small City Art Destinations in the U.S." by American Style Magazine.
I flew into Cusco my third week in Peru. The views from the plane are breath-taking when you first come into the city. You are able to see everything from so high in the mountains, 11,152 feet above sea level to be exact. Snow capped mountains surrounded the city. Cusco was filled with culture and art from the native Quechua people. Cuzco is known for its rich indigenous history. Outside of many establishments their famous rainbow flag was raised high. I was happy to see so many people connected to their heritage.
I wanted to spend some time outside of the city and see Machu Pichuu, so I signed up for a 4-day hike to Machu Pichuu. The adventure included mountain biking, zip lining, and white water rafting. I had an amazing time finally reaching the place of my dreams. When I reached Machu Pichuu the feeling was surreal. A place that holds so much history and exemplifies the many great feats of man was right in front of me.
The most memorable feature of Quito, Ecuador were the rolling hills. I stayed in a small hostel a top a hill above the main city center. The local market was right at the bottom of the hill. The city was similar to New York in that it was very walkable. Public transportation was also reliable each day. I spent most days walking, exploring the city by foot. There were plenty of cool sights within walking distance of my hostel such as El Panicillo, The Basilica del Voto Nacional, and the wonderful Casa de Sucre.
I recognized from my travels in Quito that the idea of life around the world takes on much of the same principles. People were walking to work in the museums, small shops, and market. People were with family and friends shopping and exploring. It was eye-opening to see that life around the world can be so similar to the lives we have here.
A fantasy destination for many and a fragile environment that has been changed over the centuries. I visited the Galapagos Islands during a month-long backpacking excursion through South America. The Galapagos Islands are home to many interesting species of plants and animals. While working on a sustainable farm on the capital island of San Cristobal, I was able to experience an expansive natural environment. I hiked though forests, climbed waterfalls, and tended to a large pineapple garden. I was astonished by the immense greenery in the highlands.
On this trip, I studied the relationship between people and their environment. I completed a thesis on the impact of ecotourism from my research on the island. I was able to examine wildlife in water and on land. I came across blue-footed boobies, sea lions and penguins. It was amazing to see these rare animals in their natural habitat. I noticed that there were different tours available to educate the public on the islands famous history. I went snorkeling in Darwins Bay with sea lions and other marine life. This was an amazing and unforgettable experience.
During my second week in Peru, I took a bus trip to Huacachina. The bus only takes about 5 hours. I was used to long rides like that because of my travels back and forth to NYC and Washington, D.C. This area is known as a desert oasis for its picturesque lake in the middle of the desert. It's also popular for recreational activities on the sand dunes such as sand boarding. I was able to try it out by signing up for an excursion. There is a picture here of me on a dune buggy with my friend Irene. We pulled over and I watched the sunset fall over the sandy hills. In that moment, the desert seemed endless.
I drove to Niagara falls on a whim with some friends from college. The drive took about 12 hours from New York City. I had always wanted to visit Niagara Falls, but never made a conscious effort. The plans just fell into place one weekend. I decided to take a Canon 5D and see what pictures I could capture of nature. My favorite aspect of all the photos I captured was the fall foliage. Niagara falls was so much larger than I imagined. I rode the boat the takes you closer to the water fall and got some great pictures up close. This trip peaked a genuine interest in doing more nature photography.
After landing just outside of Lima, I took a taxi to a hostel in Callao. The following day I took a bus to downtown Lima where I was staying at the Flying Dog Hostel. The city was beautiful and conveniently located near many historical areas. I took the train to the Museum and briefly visited Miraflores. While Lima is in the middle of the downtown area, Miraflores is located closer to the coast and is near the beach.
There were endless gardens and public parks. The architecture in the old town, also know as La Ciudad de Los Reyes, was impeccable. The town was founded in 1535 now many of these buildings are now public and used by the government. I was astounded by the detail and the maintenance. Most of the buildings were over a century old such as the government palace, the cathedral, and the city hall.
During the month of March, I traveled to Cuba to learn the history and implications of communism and spend time with women who I consider inspirational. My friend Shayna turned 26 and she brought her closest friends from New York City on a trip to Havana. We all had spent time working together and were looking forward to getting to know eachother outside of work. We found a cute little airbnb in a quiet neighborhood by the beach. We shared a four bedroom house and had a wonderful time exploring the countryside. Our home for the weekend was about 30 minutes outside of Havana and we had a courteous driver named Papito who took us wherever we wished. While driving through Havana we saw some of the famous hotels such as Hotel Inglaterra, Habana Riviera, and the Iberostar Parque Central. We drove through old Havana admiring the colonial architecture. It amazed me that the buildings were still standing and livable even after hundreds of years. We had our fair share of photo shoots with old Havana as a picturesque and historic background. I suggest traveling to Cuba if you have the chance in order to learn more about history and give to the communities in need.
Recently, I took my first solo vacation to St.Croix. This was a post-grad trip in celebration of my graduation from Fordham University. In the fabric of your life, it is important to take risks and step out of your comfort zone. This was an experience that definitely made me feel uncomfortable and pushed me to discover more about myself. St. croix is so small that it seems everyone knows everyone else. So arriving as an outsider and a tourist was not helpful in establishing myself as a solo traveler. Luckily, a family friend was generous enough to set me up with his contacts and I spent time getting to know Patrick and Angela. Angela took me to the grocery store on my first day there to get some breakfast foods for the days I wanted to sleep in and make my own brunch. After my trip to the grocery store, I realized it was going to be difficult getting around without a car. I later learned the hard way that taxis were charging over 20 dollars to get anywhere on the island, which I thought was a little steep. There's no tourist community and it seems that most people who interact with tourists have come from all over and settled in St. Croix. making it their home. I felt the people working in the condo complex were more welcoming and friendly. I had a delightful time laying out on the beach and spending time away from the commotion of the city. The water was crystal clear and very warm. I went horseback riding and kayaking in the bioluminescent bay of Salt River Marina. These were amazing activities that allowed me to get in touch with nature in a way I had never thought possible. I even caught jellyfish. My week was filled with ups and downs of overcoming loneliness and being comfortable meeting new people. I'm grateful to have the support from my family and friends who knew how important this trip was for me. I've come back with a new perspective, new experiences, and certainty that wherever I go next I'm going to bring a friend.