TRAVELING SOLO…!

…TRAVELING SOLO…!

What I most absolutely LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE about Traveling Solo, is that I can do WHATEVER I WANT with my OWN TIME and SCHEDULE, my sightseeing tours and activities, without having to consult, plan, strategize and compromise with anyone else but ME, MYSELF and I ! Indeed, from the time I wake-up in the morning to eating breakfast to whether I have scheduled a sightseeing tour in advance or on the other hand, have not planned any type of tours to explore the grounds and/or certain sites with a personal guide or yet, on my own (like I try to do at least once during my stay, according to the place’s safety…:)! MY TIME IS ENTIRELY MINE..:)! :)! :)! …This, even moreso as I am a Poet, Writer, Dramatist, Nature Lover and a self-described Positive Spiritual Meditator and Thinker….! My mind therefore truly CRAVES for Solitude and Solace on my travels at one point or another. This, even when I do travel (which has been seldom for these past five to six years) with family members, relatives and/or with very close friends.. :)! Sidebar Note: I will be traveling this summertime with my current steady boyfriend for the very first time in August as we have been dating for almost nine months now :)! From my past dating experiences as well as that of my various friends, this is truly THE TRAVELING SURVIVAL 101 COURSE and THE JOINT PARTNERSHIP TEST of ALL TESTS.. :)! :)! :)! ….My point however, is that even though I might be traveling to a place with another person or/and with a small group of beloved ones, I truly NEED and DO TAKE some time out for myself, wherever I am and as long as I deem it pretty “safe” to do so as my Safety and yours should ALWAYS come First!!! …One thing that I nonetheless DO NOT however DO, is traveling in large groups! …Oh, I have ABSOLUTELY NOTHING against people who do but I, myself would rather not as I am a relatively quiet person and very much search to engage and to converse with the locals (whether it be the staff: cleaning woman, gardener, cook, chef, manager, front desk receptionist, swimming pools’ and beach lifeguards, the small number of allowed vendors at the etc) ! …As well as the locals that I encounter throughout my tours and outside of the resort’s, hotel’s or residential private house’s/villa’s context…! To me, traveling is therefore MUCH MUCH MORE than just moving oneself geographically for a planned fixed amount of time to relax, have fun and rejuvenate…. Well, then again: the relaxing, fun (depending on one’s definition and understanding of the word “fun” and rejuvenating parts are up for debate… ! …But what I am trying to state here, is that I am truly saddened to observe many tourists who pay for their respective flights and luxurious stays, to just lounge either by the swimming pool or at the beach, without truly immersing themselves and interacting not just with the locals but with the environment(s) they are extremely fortunate to find themselves in…! I therefore MUST emphasize here, that there most certainly are DIFFERENT TYPES OF TRAVELERS, who Most Definitely seek DIFFERENT TYPES of THINGS and GRATIFICATIONS  from their travels and it is quite okay as: “…to each their own…” like the saying goes !

Another important factor perhaps is that I am a Part-Time Traveler only, as I have diligently been working at my Writing Craft and at my new Poetry Recitals’ Launch as much as I have been kept extremely busy with my Motivational and Keynote Speaking engagements and other endeavors along that line as well.. :)! Like many, I therefore hold a variety of different professional hats ! Contrarily then to the numerous overwhelming Full-Time Travelers (of which a selected few I also follow) found via cyberspace, traveling is NOT the WHOLE of who I AM for me but more so, an integral part/an actual extension to nourish and to nurture my overall holistic well-being….:)! …Indeed, I very much do have an already (or several) full-time professional life/lives as an International: Artist, Creator, Writer, Author, Dramatist, Content Image Photographer, Keynote Motivational Speaker and as both: a Cultural Presenter and a Health Presenter! …What I an attempting to do with my fairly recently created blog, is to really encourage anyone: “YOU”, who might be reading my blog right now and this article at present, to be MOTIVATED, PASSIONATE and ONE HUNDRED INVESTED in something…. In anything really…! This, as long as it is filled with: Spirituality (always Number ONE in my book of LIFE), Gusto, Positivity, Truthfulness, Honesty, Compassion, Empathy, Kindness and Real Passion…! …Traveling to me therefore truly opens my eyes to admiring, observing, respecting and loving the DIVERSITY of people (even within the same country, region or/and continent) and equally as Environmentally Consciously and as I Organically and Spiritually (I already mentioned this one :)!) can be; by taking in and seizing the moment to explore the habitat of the geographic location in which I find myself…! For example: taking walking tours and not just vehicle motor tours, taking a canoe, a paddle boat or a row boat instead of the other modern highly pollutant boats… Going on small  wild, virgin beaches group entire week-ends’ or day tours (after having nonetheless carefully and meticulously researched and reviewed the veracity and safety of the tour), going on a horseback or on a bicycle Nature Friendly ride, spending an entire day or half a day with a small group tour at a naturally preserved National park like I did in Costa Rica and in South Africa and so forth..! I furthermore NEVER book a tour with either quite a few poor reviews or which DOES NOT come highly or at least fairly well recommended), with strict stringent recycling rules instead of going to overwhelming over-tourist populated on-line cyber super marketed beaches…! Moreover, as I am “child-free”, I am extremely and greatly FORTUNATE to being able to CHOOSE ANY TIME (and not simply the high season period), to travel to any parts of the world at present and at any time of the year I wish and please! This, as long as it is aligned and in accordance with my professional engagements’ scheduling of which my very small management team, (which includes two other people and myself), are as well entirely in control of!

…As such, I almost have the BEST of BOTH WORLDS ! Indeed, as I am ONE HUNDRED PERCENT SELF-FUNDED at  the moment, I DO NOT have to COMPLY with anyone else’s stringent scheduling and I am neither COMPETING nor doing a marathon race, to travel to as MANY countries and continents as I possibly can, to just “stay in the competition!” I have NO INTENTIONS to ever do so either as it takes tons of ENERGY and STAMINA to hop on-and-off from airplanes, helicopters, trains, buses, boats etc on a continuous on-going basis…!!! I truly deeply admire the Travel Bloggers who do! I nonetheless ALWAYS have had (and this, as LONG as I can possibly remember), a Bucket List of countries and regions throughout our planet’s five continents I have dreamt to visit at one point or another prior to God calling my Spirit unto the next world..!.  …That and according to my personal financial means as: being self-sponsored also signifies no: FREE flights, hotels, private residential stays etc… (LOL, :))! …But this is a CONSCIOUS CHOICE that I have made  in order to be as TRANSLUCID and as TRANSPARENT as I possibly can via my present blog…! As a result, if I therefore mention a certain airline company, hotel, resort, Air BnB lodging, restaurant and/or other brands on my very blog, it is not because I MUST but simply because of my personal TRUTHFUL, HONEST perspective, experience and appreciation of the place precisely no matter the country, continent and/or location in our huge, complex world…! As an International Spoken Words’ Artist, Author, Speaker and Presenter: my flights, stays and traveling expenses are mostly ALL PAID FOR during the time of my professional engagements but when I am however finished with my engagements and obligations, EVERYTHING after that then becomes SELF-FINANCED once I return to the “road less traveled by” (to quote one of my favourite English speaking poets: Robert Frost, of which poetry I studied in depth in high school, (which I attended in Paris, France as my Dear Beloved mother’s employment was based there at that time) !

All Pictures Courtesy of Irene Inspirational Traveler and were taken at Puerto Plata’s Playa Dorada’s Blue Bay’s Resort and Spa in The Spanish Caribbean Island of The Dominican Republic

My 10 TOP REASONS why I adamantly LOVE to travel SOLO as a Non-Sponsored Traveler and Travel Blogger are as follow below:

1. The FREEDOM and LIBERTY I am afforded to SELECT and CHOOSE when and where I will be traveling to, without having to WAIT FOR someone else’s schedule.

2. The IMMENSE PRIVILEGE I have to EXPLORE the world the EXACT WAY I wish to and to then write about it for my blog as well as for international magazines and websites.

3. The EQUALLY IMMENSE PRIVILEGE I have to CHOOSE and DECIDE on the type of LODGING, AMENITIES and entire EXPENSES I wish to spend on a specific trip according to my budget.

4. The FLEXIBILITY I have with regards to being able to choose the LENGTH of time as well as possibly EXTENDING and/or SHORTENING my stay, therefore only IMPACTING MYSELF.

5. The MULTIPLE POSSIBILITIES and OPTIONS I actually have to PLAN and to SPEND my days…! Whether this be: lounging at the beach and by the pool for entire day, interacting with other tourists and travelers and the staff at hand, deciding to schedule an entire sightseeing or week-end tour, spending several hours photographing a geographical location and/or site without having to worry about anyone else who might get tired and/or slightly annoyed by it and do trust me on this: …Even your closest friends and boyfriend eventually can user the scorching desert heat such as Florida or Morrocco and the freezing cold temperatures such as in Canada or Iceland in winter time… Where, as an afterthought I, myself felt my fingers and nails becoming a bit frost-bitten and hurried up with my the few pics I captured (LOL)! But if I MUST be HONEST for this ONE, the flip coin of this is that I have NO ONE ELSE to photograph me on location or site and have to resolve to selfies whenever I travel alone :(!

6. The fact that I have my VERY OWN ROOM and BATHROOM as well as a BALCONY all to myself instead of having to SHARE as sometimes, we just NEED our PRIVATE SPACE… I am MORE THAN CERTAIN that more of the Ladies and perhaps too, some men will AGREE with me on this… :)!

7. Being able to eat at whatever TIME and wherever PLACE that PLEASES me, myself and I, without having to COMPROMISE my VERY BUD TASTE at that VERY MOMENT…!!! …As when the tummy is craving and hungry for something specific (for me, this mostly involves tasting the local food for my main meals), one most certainly MUST SATISFY one’s BUD TASTES but this one also has a DOWNSIDE to it as I NO LONGER CAN COUNT the amount of times that I have interiorly YEARNED for companionship while eating SOLO….!  I have however MASTERED my Solo Eating by ALWAYS bringing the current book I am reading, my notebook and a pen as well as an i-pad and camera and my cell phone with me, naturally…:)!  This, in order to not feel so lonely and draw attention on my Solo Plight (LOL)!!!! This, most especially as a woman and as a black woman furthermore in certain countries where male tourists and locals alike, might assume that my Solo Status is an invitation for them to come join me when truthfully it is ABSOLUTELY NOT….!  I HAVE furthermore joined a small group of adult females and males as well as groups of Solo females only, to eat with and have small non-invasive selective conversations and even later on, remained friends via the internet with some interesting, kind individuals from these impromptu meal group gatherings and spur of the moment companionships but my “Solo-ship” has NEVER been an opportunity for random men to just come and join me…!!! This, even for the Hardcore Perseverant Ones…!  In addition, I do not consume alcohol at all as I am allergic to it or any type of drugs for that matter…! My internal instincts and initial intuition and perception of an individual, speedily  kicks in and my long incessant stare moreover eventually forces them to scurry away as that simple firm, stern Most Definitely speaks for itself …!!! …One truly MUST BE on one’s guards AT ALL TIMES when traveling ALONE.. ESPECIIALLY women still very much today as men can be unwanted unwanted targets as well but the studies still very much do show that women are majorly targets and victims of Verbal, Psychological and Physical Assault in all countries…!!! To my Dear Female Solo Travelers, please do be careful out there as even though our world is MOST ASSUREDLY a Beautiful Diverse One, it is also a world which warrants for us to develop wisdom, vonscioousness, self-awareness and an acute sixth sense…!!!

8. The TREASURE and LUXURY I have and can actually CHOOSE to sit for HOURS ON END at my room’s balcony when I do have one as requested per my room reservation with my current book or simply meditating and/or day dreaming… With a freshly squeezed organic fruit juice, smoothie and/or herbal tea… Depending on the time and season as well as location :)! :)! :)!

9. The TREASURE and LUXURY I have to exercise, work-out and meditate as LONG as I wish to do so, in my room and/or outdoors as well as going to the spa for a massage and/or simply swimming laps at the pool.

10. The TREASURE and LUXURY I have to just SLEEP, NAP,  DAYDREAM once again and/or take super lengthy showers and LUXURIOUS baths :)! :)! :)!!

All Pictures on this page and on this blog for that matter, EXCLUSIVELY BELONG to and are COPY WRITTEN by Irene N.L.K. from Irene Inspirational Travels and CANNOT therefore nor be reproduced neither cut, copied and pasted without her authorization!

!HERMOSA REPUBLICA DOMINICANA! Part III

MY FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF

PUERTO PLATA (PART 2)

All Pictures are Courtesy of : Irene Inspirational Travels at Puerto Plata’s Vilas & Playa Doradas Blue Bay’s Resort and Spa in The Dominican Republic and EXCLUSIVELY BELONG to Irene N.L.K from Irene Inspirational Travels!

…Thank Goodness, both: my private shuttle van driver and my welcoming Travel Guide Assistant were there awaiting for me at the end of the line of their counterparts, right upon exiting Customs at Puerto Plata’s International Airport in The Dominican Republic…! …And similar to the still yet small number of tropical Caribbean and non-Caribbean countries I have either visited or lived in, what a soothing sensation to finally have my body feel the tropical heat once again !!! I therefore know all too well that it soumds quite strange to many peoole when I genuinely tell them that I would take the scorching natural heat anytime over the icy cold northern weather! …This, even to a couple of my longtime very close friends…! …But this is the simple truth…!!! …And the reason why all three:: my mind, body and soul immediately fuse into an immense positive vibe whenever I once again geographically find myself in the warm tropical weather…! …The same tropical weather in which I was born even though due to my dear deceased beloved mother”s employement, my sisters and I grew up in the cold western climate…! It is thetefore a pure delight for me, to frequently presently find myself in the warm tropics in whatever corner of the world my travels lead and guide me to…! So this time around, it is right here: in Puerto Plata, The Dominican Republic that they finally led me to :)!!! …Popularly, Puerto Plata is a lesser touristy frequented and visited region than Punta Cana, according to many Dominicans residing in New York city, from which a few tried to steer me away… ! Okay, so perhaps the word “steering away from” is too strong…:)! …But they most certainly were trying to “sell” Punta Cana to me…! Solely, two of my close Dominican friends (of whom one was initially supposed to travel with me and act as my personal guide but had to most unfortunately undergo a surgery instead 🙁 !, convinced me that I might actually enjoy Puerto Plata better than Punta Cana, since I was traveling to The Dominican Republic (DR) at the end of  the U.S.’ and Canada’s high peak summer season…! Unbeknownst to me at that time, I would also be traveling a week to ten days prior to Hurricane Irma…!!!  My flight back to New York City was actually two days exactly before the tragic, devastating Hurricane throughout certain highly tourist frequented English, Spanish and French Caribbean islands such as: Puerto Rico, St. Kitts, St. Barts, Guadeloupe etc…

  

I certainly would  like to take a pause from my story here, in order to apologize to anyone who will be interested enough to read this multi-fold article as: “Yes, Alas…!” Most of my current blogs are written a couple or even several months after my actual trips…!!! This, simply because: 1). I am a conscientious writer and kind of the “A Personality Type”, who needs to succintly gather my thoughts and organize the memory of my travels in order to mentally select which parts I really need to write about and share, prior to starting to write or blog about! My Blog writing method process is therefore extremely similar to my magazine articles’ writing process…!  2). I truly take a lot of time, with regards to my blog’s pictures’ selection and editing process (sometimes, too plentiful) and the mere photo selection is as tedious and meticulous as my trip’s and as my subject matter’s blog writing! It indeed takes me several weeks to a couple of months to do so,  due to my various other professional engagements and writing projects! …And all this is prior to proof reading, revising and editing myself on my very own (some bloggers have a revision and editing team and/or even blog ghost writers! …You are presently in the know with regards to my creative writing and editing processes… :)! :)! :)!

…And Now Back Once More To My Story…

As my shuttle driver drove me to my hotel, my hotel’s Travel Guide Assistant provided me with my sight seeing activities and tours , which she covered with me at length…! I absolutely have NOTHING personal against my guide as she was very nice and a true professional who was truly doing her job to perfection…! But yet however in my head, all that I kept on telling myself was: -could she not have waited for us to arrive to the hotel as many of us travelers…  …Well at least as I, myself; like to enjoy looking at the landscape while being chauffered to my final destination… This, no matter what part of day or night I arrive…:) ! …But I guess that she was just following her employer’s strict protocol rules as some tourists might be in a rush to check-in once they are dropped off at their hotel’s lobby… Or yet, -perhaps was it that she had me all to herself and just wanted to take her time… Including, scheduling my next day’s appointment with one of tbe agency’s sightseeing tours’ bookers as she also kindly reminded me to not forget to call a day prior to my flight back to New York City by way of Miami, to confirm my pick-up time with my shuttle van driver…  Alas, I therefore was most unfortunately solely able to contemplate Beautiful Puerto Plata”s landscape (of which I had just landed into fifteen minutes ago for my very first time) from the side corners of my eyes…:( !!!  I would most definetely catch up during my stay but nonetheless clearly regretted to have been deprived of my first time impression photographic memory, in order to be able to vividly narrate about it in crystal clear full details, like I am doing at present….!

The very first thing that I like to do after checking-in upon arriving to my hotel room, is scout out my room, bathroom, my room’s balcony and its view (as I usually request a balcony or at least a window street or backyard view when I am in Europe), open the fridge and the secured safe, turn on the television, switch the channels, turn the t.v. on  and off with its remote, turn all of the lights on and off as well (including the side lamps and desk lamps) and dial the front lobby to immediately apologize as soon as someone answers… And for me to reply without a single hesitation that I dialed the number by mistake when I truthfully consciously dialed the number….:)!  All this: as to make sure that everything works like it should…:)! I am however MORE THAN CERTAIN that I am  NOT the only human being on the planet who does this…:)! Even if it might sound a little extreme but then again, I previously mentioned above somewhere that I am a “TYPE A”  personality (LOL)! After having verified all of this, I finally can relax, unpack, take my shower and if I happen to arrive in the evening, I take my shower, unpack just to find my nigh wear and toiletries, watch some television and just go to bed as I more often than seldom exhausted from my passing custom as well as from my trip as a whole (more particularly for long flights)! I customarily therefore unpack the next morning when I wake pack and take my time to set my toiletries in the bathroom… I usually iron in the morning as well, on a day-to-day basis after my shower and prior to my activities unless I have to leave super early…  In that case, I iron in the evening prior to my heading out for dinner and alongside with my evening clothes… …If on the contrary I arrive in the morning such as currently and/or in the early afternoon, I usually take a short or a long power nap (depending on the level of my tiredness) after I have showered and then just wake-up in time for lunch or dinner (or when my cell phone alarm clock rings if I had set  it to ring for a specific time and accordingly). If it is still daytime after lunch, I typically scout the hotel’s or resort’s or the private residence’s house (as was the case when I visited Morocco with one of my sisters and at the “Riad” we stayed at a few years ago)!. …For the very first time in my life ever since I have been traveling, I will be staying at three “rbnb’s” in three respective different countries I will be visiting and of which one, I will be “re-visitig this very summertime in Europe in the month of August :)!”  In my youth, I typically stayed at hostels when traveling alone or with a sister, as like many university students, I did not have the financial means to afford anything else aside from staying at friends’ and/or at acquaintances’ families’ homes :)!  With my Dear Mother, it was an entirely different story as traveling with her, meant comfortable luxury hotels and/or back home to my country of origin, at the family house or at my grandfather’s house for my sisters and I :)! …It is nonetheless throughout my university studies, that I really began to travel and venture to new parts of the world….!  As an international independent civil servant and diplomat, my mother traveled throughout Europe, Africa and several countries in Asia… And we lived in both: Canada and the United States in Boston and in New York City for several years…  The two countries she herself, traveled to Latin and South America are: Mexico and Brazil….  After my undergraduate university studies and my three month Summer first professional job as non-paid intern in Paris, France thanks to two of my sisters; my adventurous exploring spirit was yearning to further discover the Americas…! More specifically: the Spanish speaking American regions… As I then became a very close friend with someone who was Mexican-American whose family lived in San Diego, I accepted her more than kind invitation for me to come visit her (at that time, she had graduated from the university we both attended and met and was in her very first law school year at U.C.L.A (the University of Los Angeles) where she was staying in the posh Westwood neighborhood in a three bedroom spacious apartment with two roommates.  This was the only Christmas/New Year one month Holiday break where that I did not spend with my own family in Europe! ….But an extremely enriching one nonetheless as my friend and her family took me to Mexico (my very firs time) and Wow…!!!! …What a Cultural Eye-Opener…  I was majoring in International & in Women Literature with a minor in both: Social Studies as well as Modern Latin Languages: Spanish and French (French for the easy credit as both English and French are the languages I actually grew up with) :)!

“Buenos Dias, Señorita!” -Being greeted with a large grin from everyone at Puerto Plata’s Blue Bay’s Resort and Spa residence, most definitely put me right at ease as the music was already loudly playing at the resort’s main and largest swimming pool with several tourists, already in there….!   Blue Bay’s Resort and Spa is an open resort, where  both: the main lobby and the vast eating lounge are totally open so that anyone has a view on two of the three resort’s swimming pools!  The beach has its own path walk after the little gift shop boutique where one can daily obtain his/her beach towels’ supplies…!  Luscious trees and a beautiful little river surround the path on both sides before arriving to the beach, where beach chair and covered /beds and large vast umbrellas are placed for one to just rest and enjoy the amazing breath taking aqua blue scenery… !

 

MY DOMINICAN REPUBLIC TRIP: PART II.

MY FIRST IMPRESSIONS UPON ARRIVING IN

PUERTO PLATA

  

…!!!…

…I had a mere twenty to thirty minutes ride on my “private” shuttle bus (private  because I was the only passenger being picked up at that time 🙂 )!, with my chatty energetic shuttle bus Travel Guide Assistant as my driver was extraordinarily quiet! …I customarily LOVE to soak the landscape in! This, in order to take in my very first impressions of the place I have just landed to and arrived at, (both litteraly & figuratively), through its scenic window landscape views (whenever I arrive during the daytime). Indeed, I just quietly watch the scenery and observe the locals and non-locals  from my window seat (this is the Nature Lover, Meditative Thinker, Poet, Writer and Photographer in me :))! …As my driver’s shuttle bus bubbly Travel Guide Assistant was just kindly chatting away with me and asking the usual questions one asks to the just picked-up newly arrived tourists:: -How was your flight? -How long are you staying for? -Is this your first time in this country? -Where are you flying from? -Do you have a lot of activities planned during your stay? -What is your profession? -Are you traveling alone? Soooooooo, as we get to these three last questions (whether they are asked by a male or by a female), I usually am extra diplomatic and cautious as to my replies :)! Let me therefore revisit these last questions with some replies or similar ones I might give, according to my mood and/or my level of tiredness :)! :)! :)! -Do you have any activities planned? Yes, I have a few organized tours planned (I NEVER disclose that I also plan to do my own SOLO sightseeing tours, depending on the safety of the country and/or region in which I find myself…)!  …And also of course, spend much time at the beach and perhaps do some activities there as well as swimming and hang out by the pool! (Neither do I disclose that I also wish to nap every single day after my morning activities and/or after my scheduled or my non-scheduled tours as the locals truly DO NOT UNDERSTAND why some of us NEED to NAP on “vacation” when we have paid (at least I, myself since I still am an independent non-sponsored part-time Travel Explorer & Blogger)… Well, for now at least :)! …As MOST of us travel to be away from our usual respective lives’ hecticness & daily stressors… As such, our minds, bodies and  souls most assuredly NEED to recuperate from it all and boy oh boy…!!! …Those couple of hours’ “away from home” power naps, MOST CERTAINLY DO WONDERS to one’s holistic self (LOL:))!!! I am more than certain that many travelers will agree with me on this.:)!  …I nonetheless assure you that the locals usually find this odd! …Unless you have a significant other with you… Ahem :)! :)! :)! …As they would be TOO HAPPY to know that your baby was conceived at the place your partner and you stayed at on your vacay or travels if you are heterosexual. …But I am digressing in a murky territory here, with regards to vacation and babies, that is :)! :)! :)!

…So, back to my replies as the locals are ALWAYS pleasantly HAPPY to recomnend additionnal tours & activities that you ABSOLUTELY MUST DO and/or SEE upon your stay… :)! :)! :)! This, even if you are just at the specific location for two to three days, one day, half a day or even just a mere few hours…:)! They will fondly and more than kindly recomnend the “MUST SEE” sightseeing landmarks and other tours to go on even though you clearly let them know that you are all “toured booked-up…:)!”  …They will also recommend local restaurants for you where you MUST GO to eat at, with the usual slightly diplomatic sarcastic smiley remark and a straight direct stare at you from their rearview mirrors or just bluntly turn around to look at you while asking when you both know that it is clearly NOT a question but more an expectation of affirmation: “…You DO NOT plan to eat ALL of your meals at the place you are staying, do you…?!”  Soooooooo, as a black mostly Solo Cultural Travel Explorer throughout these past five to six years and as a recent Blog Writer from an originally non-highly industrialized country, I ONE HUNDRED PERCENT am an ADAMANT SUPPORTER and ADVOCATE for Local Tourism Exploration..:)! This is one of the reasons why I decided to take a giant leap and create my blog…:)! ….As I, myself have been and still am following a couple of other Travel Bloggers of different race, origins, nationalities, cultures etc..! I indeed realized the power of today’s Travel Blogging in shaping, in molding, in influencing and in encouraging a diverse group of people worldwide: YOU: my Blog Readers :), to get out of your respective comfort zones and cocoons to explore diiferent horizons in a way you had perhaps NEVER previously thought about…:)! …And yet, even more still, to look at a Global Traveler’s perspective, who might be of a different race, culture, nationality, origin and/or gender than yourself…! As these VERY IMPORTANT factors MOST ASSUREDLY determine one’s traveling experiences (whether negatively or positively, like the traveling experience I am currently blogging about…! …This, not solely when traveling alone (like I mostly presently do… As my friends and my partner cannot just pick-up and accompany me on every single one of my travels and at anytime since they have their very jobs and own schedules that do not always coincide with mine… And as I typically have started to travel five times a year to both: national and international destinations as New York City is my home base.  Also, most full-time Travel Bloggers and Travel Explorers are “child free” like myself and between their mid-twenties, late thirties. and forties..! Many of them DO NOT or NO LONGER HAVE therefore have a child/children to worry about on a daily on-going basis such as: school, after-school extra curricular activities, academic testing, child rearing, play dates, child’s medical and dental appointments, college funds, child’s long-term financial planning etc… …As traveling with a family or a child/various children is an entirely different story than simply traveling alone and/or with other full grown adults…! Oh please, do not get me wrong here and misinterprete what I am trying to state….:)! As I have many friends & family members who travel at least once a year with their kids…. :)! ….And they create wonderful life lasting traveling experiences for their offsprings just like my dear beloved deceased mother created for my sisters and I eversince we were very little! …What I nonetheless am factually stating here, is that the whole planning and traveling dynamics as well as the financial aspects of it all. are one hundred percent absolutely different…!   This, even on an inexpensive tight budget..! Please, do take my word for it as I, myself have traveled several times in the past & presently still sometimes do (on short week-end trips) with: toddlers, small cildren, pre-teen children, teenagers and young adults either with my nieces and/or with my closest relatives and  friends’  kids…!!!  Also, I was an “Au-Pair”/Live-In Nanny in English,  for an entire year in Spain’s largest Baleares’ islands of Majorca…:)! I therefore DO VERY MUCH KNOW  what traveling with anyone underage fully entails :)! :)! :)! I have yet nonetheless presently once again digressed here, which I often do as I write my blog articles… :)! …For neither am I still being graded on my papers nor is my writing being assessed for a grant proposal submission :)! This therefore IS simply my UNIQUE form of writing expression :)! :)! :)! -Who says that STANDING OUT in your OWN UNIQUENESS, is OVERRATED… :)? :)? :)?  -“Not I!!!”, she responded with a huge friendly grin on her face :)! :)! :)!

SPECIAL NOTE:

All pictures and contents in this post and on this blog, are courtesy of Irene Inspirational Travels and EXCLUSIVELY BELONG  Exclusively belong to Irene N.L.K. from: Irene Inspirational Travels and CAN therefore NEITHER be copied, pasted nor republished without her Authorization!

!HERMOSA REPUBLICA DOMINICANA! Part I.

?-…Y cuando vas a visitar Republica Dominicana…?

…And when will you be visiting the Dominican Republic..?

I cannot tell you the number of times I have been asked this question from my close Dominican friends, my Dominican hairdresser as well as its Dominican owner, my lomgtime bodega vemdors, staff and owners as well as practically any New York City (my longtime city of residence) Dominican American I have come across with and to whom I openly expressed my love for the Caribbean as soon as they realized that I am absolutely fluent in Spanish (Speaking & Writing) but that’s for another blog story (LOL)!

Let us just say that I had other bucket list destination countries and/or states to visit amongst my various presentations, speaker’s engagements and writing projects as I am not a full time but very much still a part-time traveler. This, as I do not have ONE but rather, multiple diverse passions ever since I was a child! As a result, my goal had ALWAYS been to prioritize Haiti over the Dominican Republic due to Haiti’s (fondly loyally called “Ayiti” by the native Haitians) extremely STRONG AMAZING historical past in being the FIRST EVER SELF-FREED SLAVE NATION and as I, myself am a black woman and am ALWAYS HIGHLY interested in black as much as in multi-cultural history throughout our vast world! I will therefore most assuredly write about my “Ayiti” trip in the near future… But that will be quite a lengthy blog as I have oh so much to write about and most certainly do VERY MUCH look forward to returning to Ayiti in the near future as it is only three hours away from New York City ..!!! …But, presently returning to the beautiful nation of which I am currently blogging about: The Dominican Republic…, let me just state that the total Warmth and Openness of its Nationals, greatly immediately reassured me as I lined up with my fellow airplane passenger (who had already traveled to the DR twice last year and who was even contemplating to move here on a part-time basis as he had made a couple of long lasting friendships with well established locals and expatriates. It is almost needless to furthermore mention that what he most looked forward to on all of his trips to the Dominican Republic, were the women and the partying  as he is still quite young in age! He still nonetheless deserves an anonymous mention from me as he was a great sport in letting me kmow in advance that there was a “cash only” entrance visa fee all Foreign Visitors had to pay the Dominican Customs… Thank God I had remembered to make change of  several twenty dollar bills at my bank, the day before my Uber driver picked me up to drop me off at my JFK Departures’ Terminal in the wee hours of the morning…! I should moreover kmow way better as a long time traveler, (as I have been extremely fortunate to travel since my very birth) and thus begin to do my own online research with regards to country entrance visa fees and/or exit taxes’ fees, to be in the loop and be prepared with the correct cash amount when I arrive in a country I have never previously traveled to…!

The reason for my reassurance of the Warmth and Openness of the Dominican Customs was most definitely a positive highlight and awakening for me as I had been pre-warned by a couple of some of my black acquaintances as well as by a couple of my actual Dominican born friends (of various race for that matter), about the subtle racism permeating within the local Dominican society… Most notably, with regards to people of dark chocolate brown skin, like myself. However, to my utter pleasant surprise and all the contrary to my first trip in Haiti (where most of the Customs’ staff were of coffee light brown skin), most of the Dominican Customs’ staff was actually of a darker Indian like or of a chocolate like skin…  Some, even darker than myself! That was the moment that I knew I could let my guards down and that I would most assuredly have a Wonderful trip as the female customs’ officer who served me, was all smiles and greeted me in both: Spanish and English: “Bienvenido a Republica Dominicana/Welcome to The Dominican Republic…!”; by welcoming me in her beautifulpredominantly Spanish speaking Caribbean nation :)! :)! :)! …Well, this as long as my shuttle ride was punctual and awaiting for me with the usual airport ride post sign with my full hyphenated name clearly capitalized on it (Double LOL)!

 

 

REMEMBERING 911… MY PICTURES WILL BE FOUND AT THE VERY END OF THIS HEARTFELT “IN-MEMORIUM” ARTICLE…

Similar to millions of other New Yorkers and non-New Yorkers, I will NEVER forget where I was when the first terrorist airplane hit the second twin tower…! …As it has since been reported that only the people living across and or the everyday morning New Yorkers’ passers-by witnessed the first Terrorist Crash without realizing what was truly going on… Everyone in the world who was at least a teenager and who sadly had no relatives victims of the close to 3,000 officially reported ones, most certainly has a clear rememberance of exactly where they were when they heard the devastating news of the second airplane crashing right into the second twin tower… And moreso, for the younger ones; about their parents’ shocked reactions… As Manhattan-New York has been my city of residence for the past fifteen or so years I have many friends, relatives, acquaintances and direct biological relatives: of whom one of my sisters who presently lives in New Jersey with my two adorable nieces… My little nieces were however not yet born sixteen years ago and my sister and I, actually lived together in Manhasset-Long Island as she was finishing her medical residency at what was then called: Manhasset North Shore Hospital… I, myself was visiting one of my college girlfriends in Maryland as I had a break and took several days off for the U.S Labor week-end Holiday… My friend had left for work since she, herself was not off… This was the beginning of the week: Tuesday September 11th, 2001…! It is simply unbelievable how time flies by and how the first major 21st Century U.S. Attack will absolutely not tangibly mean much to many present newborns or children who are the same age as my twin nieces… Aside from being a Historical event just like my generation when we were forced to memorize WWII or the Vietnam War’s important dates to pass our history exams and class…!

…As I was getting ready for my daily physical work-out exercice prior to fixing myself breakfast, my friend called me from her then company… This was unusual as I was the one to call her once I had finished my work-out and after I had showered in order for us to reconvene and to confirm what our plans were for the evening once her work day had ended… And where we would meet in downton Washington D.C as Maryland is really close to D.C, driving wise… Well, at least she was… I did not even have the time to wish her “Good Morning” as she gently commanded me to turn on the television and watch the news… At that time, she worked for a very well known Accounting & Finance Firm, which was one of the very first to in D.C. to have flat televisions throughout the company for all employees to view from their office cubicle spaces with an open floor plan. (Today, most if not all U.S. financial & accounting firms have these flat television screen sets in order for their employees to keep tabs with the world’s global financial markets). ….I therefore turned on one of the national daily news’channels or morning shows I regularly still watch (I just cannot remember which one but if my memory does not fail me, I strongly believe that all of the U.S. channels (including MTV, VH1, the E channel and BET, etc…); were covering this tragedy happening live… And like millions of people throughout the four corners of the world, there it was… :(! :(! 🙁 ! I too, was just witnessing the second plane crash into the second tower at 9:30 a.m. precisely…! …And I heard the two morning reporters silent in bewilderment just like most of us were silent and bewildered behind our t.v. screens…!!! …Not at all neither knowing and/nor realizing what literally on earth was going on…! I can only still imagine how frantic the morning show producers, chief reporters and editors were on that day… Attempting to make sense of what was truly going on and at the same tine, having to tell their newscasters and reporters to keep on commenting and remaining reasonably calm while we were all experiencing the tragic historical 9/11 Twin Towers’ Terrorist Attacks…! Many of them quivered in sadness and some even shed a couple of tears via live… As this was most certainly an event ABSOLUTELY NO ONE had thought to be humanly conceivable and possible with the worldwide international reputation of both: the FBI & the CIA knowing EVERYTHING happening throughout the four corners of our world… But it did tragically happen…! And New York City, the U.S.A, the entire world for that matter were absolutely shaken forever with that deeply ingrained pre-conceived thought since watching all those popular Secret Agent movies and shows starting in our early childhood that the United States of America was absolutely Invincible to Foreign Terrorism… :(! As my friend and I were still on the phone: silent and bewildered attentively listening to the reporters, the South Tower collapsed right in front of our television screens at 9:59 a.m…!!! The next images that the world saw, were: frantic, confused, panicked New Yorkers running for their lives out of the North Tower with white powder and debris all over them…! Some severely bleeding…. Others, sustaining each other… Under the direction of the New York Police Department (NYPD), officers from all of the Upper and the Lower Manhattan’s Districts as well as the city’s brave firemen from the FDNY Battalion Number #6… (Who were the first ones to arrive and of whom: 343 firefighters sadly lost their lives and as well count amongst the thousands of other victims…), were seen rushing to save thousands of human lives away from the flames… After hearing the word: “Terrorist Attack” pronounced for the very first time through the television screen by one of the morning reporters, I finally managed to mumble to my friend via phone (as we were still dumbfounded, stunned and silent on both ends) that I had to call my sister and my oldest niece who was a pre-teen then…. And even though I knew that being an early week-day in September, they most probably were nowhere to be seen in Downtown Manhattan and neither near the Twin Towers as we resided in Long Island; I nonetheless thought about all of my close friends, acquaintances, co-workers and employers who commuted to and/or worked around there… A relative would later inform my sister and I that he had scheduled an important business meeting appointment on that fatal tragic day but the person he was supposed to meet just abruptly canceled on him late in the evening prior on 9/10… It is needless to write here, that I stayed glued in front of the 9/11 Terrorism Attacks’ Coverage for that entire day and on my cell phone, making phone calls to my New York friends as well as to my long distance friends and International people to reassure them that my sister, niece and I were nowhere near the Twin Towers…

For that entire week, my friend and I were almost speechless… …Even with each other as similar to the entire world, we were so utterly and terribly shocked and dumbfounded by the 9/11 attacks and as it directly hit home to me…! I also was glued talking on the phone during the day and night, to any of my NYC friends and relatives I could get a hold of throughout my last week in D.C. We would furthermore soon learn that on that very fatal day an airplane carrying another terrorist had crashed in Pennsylvania (the state my friend and I met as we attended college in that very state) and another one yet: American Airlines’ 77 had crashed into one the Pentagon’s western wings… Before returning to the heavily mourning Big Apple ten days later, my friend and I somberly drove through the Pentagon’s Memorial zone in D.C. where the smell of bomb fumes and debris could still very much be heavily smelled from the car and through our nostrils…! This, despite Even the window doors up and the car’s air conditioner’s on…!

…I have just recently visited the 9/11 Memorial Site downtown last Summer with friends, located a few minutes’ walking from Wall Street… It is quite reassuring to see that thousands of New York City residents, U.S. Nationals & Foreign Tourists of ALL age, race, nationality, social class and walks of life come to visit the 9/11 Memorial Site, to first pay their Respect to all of the almost 3,000 victims who innocently lost their lives to Incoherence and “Free” Hatred… But also for me, to All Victims who tragically loose their lives to Un-invited Tragic Violence…! Sixteen years have just gone by on Monday September 11th, 2017 as I am writing my memories of that horrendous, extremely tragic day… Many other Terrorist Tragic Attacks have since sadly occurred throughout the four corners of our world… And no adult is presently naive enough to think that it cannot happen in their very own “backyards…!” (This is a figure of speech). -Must we nonetheless live our every day lives in Terror & Fear…??? Absolutely not…! All those of us who are Spiritually, Emotionally & Mentally Sane MUST THRIVE to ALWAYS seek for Internal Peace, Serenity and Harmony. We MUST furthermore do our very best to EMPOWER as many people as we possibly can to do the very same…! …And seek Comfort and Love amongst our most Cherished Ones…

…For though there is Much Hatred, Injustice, Violence and Pain in our hereby world, there is also Much, Much, Much Goodness, Humanity, Generosity and Love strangely co-existing with each other at the very same time… And this is what I personally profoundly, outmostly believe! I therefore adamantly, consciously choose through every single new day that I am granted, to breathe and feed myself with these three above essential notions… Yes, indeed! NO ONE will take away my profoundly ingrained notions of: the Goodness of Humanity, Generosity, Positivity, Spirituality and Love… And it is truly these essential core notions that I choose to carry within the depths of my heart and soul as I continue to travel and discover the world, its people from multiple cultures, nationalities, creed, backgrounds, race and religions…!

 

 

MY MONTREAL TRIP PART V Au-Revoir Montreal…! Good-Bye Montreal !

Leaving Montreal was most definitely bitter sweet… Indeed, as I took the public bus, to take advantage of Montreal’s and its outskirts’ scenery for one last time (as I had secured myself a daytime flight departure) on my return trip after not having come back to North America’s Number One’s French-English bilingual city, I felt a litle tight knot getting even tighter in my throat as I had absolutely no idea on when I would travel to Canada and most particularly to Charming Montreal once again… My return trip to celebrate Montreal’s 150th Anniversary was absolutely perfect as well as its weather…:)! My bright shining star was one hundred percent with me…! My stay at Montreal’s quite affordable Y Hotel and its two front lobby clerk-receptionists, was very agreeable… I thoroughly enjoyed taking my time strolling around the different neighborhoods and taking the very clean and spotless subway (as opposed to my city of semi-residence: New York City…)! As I passed the Canadian customs, boarded on my return flight, fastened my seatbelt and settled in my window view passenger’s seat (always my preference whenever possible), flashbacks of my stay came dashing through the screen of my mind… As my flight departed the Canadian soil, I just could not help myself to sigh out loud while finding my face leaning closely against the airplane’s glass window before falling steadfastly asleep until once again landing at John F. Kennedy’s International airport in the Big Apple: my longtime city of residence… Where I would shortly be planning for a new trip and travel destiny for which to depart in the next couple of months…

You can also follow me via my instagram page @ ireneinspirationaltravels for many more of my Iinternational & U.S.A National traveling pbotos and of my longtime city of residence: New York City’s everyday pictures… :)! :)! :)!

MY 150TH Montreal’s Anniversary’s TRIP:

As My Montreal’s trip neared its end, I just took my time to attempt to capture almosr every single moment I ventured outdoors… (You can follow me on my instagram page via: irene’s inspirational travels). …Whether walking, strolling, on the subway, taking part as a front member audience biking tour: “La Boucle”, going on a two hour bus tour or attending a jazz feztival (even though I inadvertently left my camera at my hotel room…)!!! …Or simply hanging around: “Le Vieux Montreal”/The Old Montreal and grabbing a bite on the terrace of one of the many restairants facong the port, it was an Absolute Pleasure for me to return to a city where I lived with my family for about four years in my youth and had not since returned… Furthermore, if one does not have the means or the desire to travel all the way to France, one most assuredly gets a taste of French like culture in Montreal… :)! This, whether traveling solo, in a small or large group, with one’s significant other and/or on a 2/3 rush day business trip… :)! My personal choice was to not return to Canada in the middle of wintertime as sightseeing in the cold winter season just does not sit well with my body temperature (LOL)! There are however many outdoors’ activities one can do as well in Montreal, throughout the wintertime… :)! For U.S residents and citizens: particularly those living in the east coast, Montreal is only a couple of hours away and the only document one needs to cros over the boarder without a visa, is a valid non-expired passport with a recognizable photo on it… For any non-English speakers and Avid Lovers of French speaking people,traveling and spending several days in Montreal, will give you a sweet taste and earful of the French Canadian sounding and the actual French from France sounding as there is a significant French expatriate population very present in Montreal :)! :)! :)!

My Montreal’s 150th Anniversary’s Trip:

MY TOP 14 THINGS TO DO IN MONTREAL:

  • Strolling on the Rue Sainte Catherine
  • Visiting a museum or art gallery
  • Visiting Montreal’s Notre-Dame Basilica
  • Visiting Montreal’s Olympic Stadium
  • Spending a couple or several hours at one of Montreal’s relaxing parks for a Festival or not ( in a nice warm season)
  • Do a bus tour (by day and by night)
  • Do a walk and/or a bike tour
  • Visit “Le Vieux Montreal”/The Old Montreal
  • Visit the Mount Royal Park
  • Visit Montreal’s Biodome
  • Visit Saint Joseph’s Oratory
  • Attend a Jazz Fest or other Artistic, Cultural Festival such as: “The Nuits d’Afrique” / African Nighrs’ Festival
  • Take the Montreal Subway at least twice during your stay
  • Interact and intermix with the “Montrealais and the Montrealaises

My Montreal’s 150th Anniversary Celebration’s Trip

…”La Rue Sainte Catherine”/The Rue Sainte Catherine…! …A mixture of Provincial France, New York City, Boston or Chicago with its very own intermixity of a multitude of cultures, nationalities and Quebec’s as well as North America’s largest cosmopolitan bilingual city… Where French and English are equally spoken and where furthermore, one hears other languages: Spanish, German, Swedish, Arabic, Mandarin, Cantonese, Urdu, Bengali, Creole, Lingala, Swahili, Amharic etc; due to the proximity of several of its universities, accepting thousands of freshmen and transferring students worldwide every year… …The Rue Sainte Catherine…! …With its constant bubbling wave of international tourists and national visitors, lining up for the different bus tour companies and/or simply strolling throughout the equivalent of New York City’s downtown Soho with its luxury fashion designer high end boutiques and chain clothing stores as well as its quaint and fasionable trendy cafes, restaurants, lounges, bars and jazz clubs…! …The “Rue Sainte Catherine…!” …Where one has a wide selection and choice of foods…! Indeed, one day one can choose to eat Cuban food and another day: some Vietnamese and/or some Chinese food and another day as of yet, some Indian or Thai food and still again: some French or some Italian food on another day…! …The “Rue Sainte Catherine”…! …Where one can stroll at anytime of day or night… This, most particularly: in the Sumner, Spring and Fall seasons where the outside temperatures are warm enough to not have to go to Montreal’s vast Underground City’s shopping center… Even if one is solely visiting Montreal for one or two days, The “Rue Sainte Catherine” should most definitely part of one’s itinerary… This, I do oh so guarantee… :)!

My Montreal 150th Anniversary’s Trip:

…It just happened that my airport taxi driver was a part-time cab driver and a full time free-lance professional computer analyst who stated to me, to actually own five passports from five different countries, naturally…! …He also stated what countries and how he acquired his five citizenships: by birth in Australia (1), from his parents being of different nationalities (2 & 3), having lived for many years in France (4) and having relocated to Canada and marrying a Canadian many years ago (5)… He was actually the 2nd person in my life ever, that I had met who truly legally possessed three different citizenships… (The first person I had met was one of my sisters and my own high school friend). I generously tipped my chatty non Uber taxicab driver ( I am unfortunately or fortunately also known as a pretty generous tipper by my close friends and relatives) who dropped me off across from my more than affordable place of residence for the following five days: “The Montreal Y Hotel” , which is located at the very center of downtown Montreal next to the Show District near several luxury hotels on the Rene Levesque Boulevard and just a few blocks’ walking to the internationally known Rue Sainte Catherine with all of its fashionable boutiques, restaurants and terrasse cafes….! As a side note and as I have been often asked this question, I carefully usually select my lodging according to the geographical location in which I will be staying, the amount of time I will be there, whether it is a large or small city, a town, village etc; (as I customarily will choose a more centered lodging if in a large city: Europe, North America, Central America, the Caribbean, Africa) as it will be easier and more accessible for me to come and go as I please by foot or public transportation at anytime of the day and at a fairly reasonable time at night. In the Caribbean, Latin America and/or Africa (the regions and continents I have so far lived and traveled to), I tend to choose a five star rated hotel in the capital city except for when I spend several days away from the city… I then prefer to stay at a local bed and breakfast or residential lodging, to contribute to the local economy. I however am not one to downplay the extra comforts of chain hotels and luxury resorts as the staff in these hotels are locals as well and staying there, most definitely contributes to their salaries and extra tips)! …It is therefore up to each to assess what type of lodging is best suited for them, for the geographical place in the world they are traveling to, who are they traveling with, the circumstances of their travels and more importantly; what is the safest for them (considering today’s world’s state of affairs… ! ! !

I must state here that my impression of Montreal’s International airport after all of these years of not having returned was that it was much more organized and welcoming than JFK’s (as everyone who has traveled through JFK, is quite shocked at the reception one receives upon arrival, regardless whether one is an actual citizen, resident or foreign visitor by the non-Customs’ staff but the airport’s staff) and its employees (including Customs’). …As I checked in at the Hotel Y of Montreal with the very pleasant front lobby bilingual receptionist-clerk, did my rounds in my room to make sure that everything was okay, I jumped into tbe shower, changed and as it was still daytime outside, I ventured for my first Montreal walk with my camera in tow after asking for general directions to the same pleasant front lobby receptionist I had left an hour and so ago… !!!