Many people who travel to New York only look into spending time in Manhattan. I personally like to visit Brooklyn better at times for many reasons. It is not as crowded and tourist-packed, for sure, and Brooklyn has become a mecca for great and unique dining and entertainment experiences. Being a self-proclaimed coffee connoisseur, I always look forward to Brooklyn’s boutique coffee shops when I travel there, in fact last time I was there I picked up an automatic milk frother that I love. They’re excellent local alternatives to the many big-name coffee shops out there. I’m all up for supporting local, independent business, but when they can also give me a great cup of coffee, I’m definitely in.
My first favorite Gorilla Coffee on Fifth Avenue in Park Slope. If you like free trade and organic coffee, this is the place to go. It’s a smaller company, but they source coffees from all over the world. I always grab a 4-pack of their cold brew, whenever I’m in the area.
There’s another coffee shop in Park Slope that I visit often. Naidre’s is the perfect place for the midday pickup. They have a delicious menu of sandwiches and salads to go with their coffee selection. Naidre’s is popular to the locals, and it can get a bit crowded during the weekends. If this is the case, I usually just grab a cup and go.
My next favorite is Blue Bottle Coffee in Williamsburg. I actually came across Blue Bottle in San Francisco and was thrilled when I discovered it in Brooklyn. Blue Bottle offers a truly unique coffee experience with their made-to-order system. The aroma in Blue Bottle alone will satisfy every coffee craving, as they also roast their coffees in that location.
Tillie’s is probably one of my most favorites in this list. Tillie’s encompasses everything about the coffee shop that I like. They have a great sense of community with live music and open mics. They serve good food and free WiFi. But besides all of these, their coffee is great as well.
Lastly, Café Grumpy in Greenpoint makes the list. They roast their coffee in-house, so expect some freshness in each cup. They also feature their own favorite selections of coffee from all over the country, and they also source their beans from all over the world. If you’re ever in Greenpoint, make sure to get a cup of the Heartbreaker Espresso from Grumpy. It might actually break your heart from the amount you’ll be drinking after your first try.
Finally just to get a feel for the Brooklyn Coffee House way of life check out this video!
Spain is known for many of its party traditions, also known as fiestas, held throughout the year. But there’s one fiesta that is attended by people from all over the country due to its dangerous popularity, and that is the fiestas of San Fermin. Just like myself, many people travel to take part in this eight-day festival just to witness the exhilarating and infamous Running of the Bulls.
I went to San Fermin early last July not knowing just what to expect. When I arrived a couple of days before the festival began, the streets in Pamplona were already lined and teeming with tourists and locals preparing for the big event. It was crowded as expected but exciting nevertheless. On the first day of the festival, I made sure I was in a good spot somewhere midway in the run to get a nice view of the action. Before the run began, the runners chanted to Pamplona’s patron saint, San Fermin, and shouted, “Viva San Fermin, Gora San Fermin!” It was almost emotional if not for the screaming crowds that were ready to see the bulls run.
At exactly eight in the morning, two rockets were fired signaling the release of the bulls to begin the run. Amidst all the chanting and screaming, all I heard were the thunderous running of all the bulls making their way from the gate of the corral all the way to the ring just around 800 meters away. As soon as I spotted the first of the runners, I began to feel a little anxious because the runners really looked like they were running as fast as they can for their lives. I almost felt inclined to join them in the run, but I knew that was not allowed.
The bulls ran past by my area so quickly. It was exhilarating not realizing how big these animals are and how intimidating running at full speed. There were people that trailed behind the bulls just to make sure the crowd doesn’t follow or taunt the bulls to run back. Still, the crowd closed in as the bulls passed them, and we all watched as the bulls reached the bullring without hurting any of the runners in front of them. At this point, two other rockets were fired to people’s bemusement and letting everyone know that the run has ended.
At this point, I was jumping and screaming along with all the other spectators at such an amazing experience. It didn’t end there, though, as the Running of the Bulls was just the beginning of the San Fermin festival. The festival itself is worth the trip, but there was nothing like the Bull Run tradition to start it all.
The Caribbean has and will always be a favorite destination area for tourists. This place offers a lot of excitement and adventure for people who want to get away from the everyday hassles of life. I took a trip to the Caribbean back in 2009 and it was an interesting excursion for me and my wife. Let me tell you all about it.
We took a cruise ship tour of the Caribbean. The vacation was scheduled during the summer time. So we had both saved up vacation days so that we could have time to enjoy ourselves. Our kids were out of school and they went to stay with their grandparents for the first part of the summer. This meant that we had a lot of free time for ourselves. We relished the freedom and the opportunity not to worry about the kids.
We live in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and had to travel down to Miami. The great city of Miami, Florida was the port where we were scheduled to depart. We drove down to the great city of Miami a few days before our departure time. It was about a 20-hour trip to Miami from Pittsburgh but we made the trip in 15.
Once we arrived in Miami we rented a hotel in the downtown area and stayed at a 4-star hotel. We tried to get a 5-Star deal but our finances could not handle it. Honestly, we were struggling just to get the 4-star treatment. We saved up thousands of dollars for this trip. We kind of spent more money than what we could afford. We checked out some of the sights in Miami. We went to Miami Beach, Freedom Tower and Bayfront Park and those were great places. We also hung around the downtown area of Miami as well. We then boarded our cruise ship about a day and a half later.
Boarding The Ship
Once we boarded the ship we knew that it was a luxurious liner. Our accommodations were fantastic. We had comfortable rooms with big and roomy beds. When we entered our cabin I was ready to start exploring the ship. I wanted to enjoy all of the activities and get out on the deck. However, my wife wanted us to relax and enjoy the cabin with the view of the ocean. We had a decent window to see the ocean. It was a great thing to see the ocean up close. We looked at it for hours before we headed out to see the rest of the ship.
The deck of our cruise liner was filled with a lot of activity. The cruise we were on had a mini-golf course, shuffle board and even a water park. We watched a movie and then went to the bar for drinks. After we drank outside on deck in the sunset, we went back to our cabin and changed. Then we headed out to the ballroom for some dancing and fun. We danced all night long on our first night on board. Once the party came to an end we went back to our cabin and passed out. My wife and I forget to eat on that first night because we were having so much fun.
The second day was just as fun as the first. On the second day we woke up early and realized how hungry we were. It was about 5 a.m. Room service brought us a big breakfast. We ate it within an hour. We looked at the ocean some more and then went back to sleep. The second time we woke up was about 8 o’clock that morning. We got dressed and then started to enjoy some more of the activities on the ship. We mingled with other passengers and checked out different parts of the ship. Eventually, our cruise made it to its first destination which was the Bahama Islands.
The Bahama Islands were a magnificent place to be. It was wall to wall sunshine and pristine beaches. Everything that people said about this place was true. We hung out there for about half a day. Some passengers got off to enjoy their stay on the island. We boarded the ship and then headed on to Haiti. We had a simple layover there. We stopped in Cap Haiten. This city was okay but it did give us an ideal about how the people are in this country.
We then moved on from Haiti to the Virgin Islands. The Virgin Islands were fun. We stayed there for about half a day as well. Once we moved on from there we doubled back over to Jamaica. Once we were in Jamaica we stayed about a day inside of the Kingston area. We got back on our ship about a day later and then returned back to Miami. My wife and I really enjoyed ourselves out in the Caribbean Sea. We saw a lot of tropical places and how different things are in that part of the world compared to the U.S.
Once we got back to Miami we rested up and slept for about a day. We then headed back home to Pittsburgh. We were gone for about a week on that vacation. It was probably the best one that we took in our whole entire lives. When we got back home people saw us and noticed a change. We were noticeably tanned from being in the sun so much and we had a “strange glow” as they would like to say.
Honestly, we don’t know what they saw. We just had a lot of fun. We told them all about our adventure. Yes, we did spend more money than we planned to but it was well worth it. We haven’t been back on another trip like the Caribbean cruise we took back 2009. I think we are about due to go on one again