Featured location this week : PUERTO RICO!
Next trips planned:
Italy/Spain (Early 2018)
Norway with Jenny (Late 2018)
Central America (Late 2018)
Switzerland with Jackie (2020)
RELAX AT A BEAUTIFUL RESORT!
I wish I could live the resort life all year long…or at least I wish my bed at home was this comfortable. 😂 This was the first vacation I’ve taken where I actually got some time to relax a little bit instead of non stop exploring and I have to say I loved it!
CHOCO BAR IN SAN JUAN!
Lived the ultimate chocolate lover’s dream in Old San Juan when I visited Casa Cortés ChocoBar. I had the chocolate shake with pieces of chocolate inside and it was heaven in my mouth!
FARO LOS MORRILLOS, CABO ROJO!
Puerto Rico doesn’t need a filter. Literally living life on the edge right now at the Lighthouse Cliffs of Cabo Rojo. PR, you are absolutely gorgeous. 🇵🇷
FINCA EL GIRASOL!
Can I just say that going to the Sunflower Farm aka Finca de Girasoles in Puerto Rico was just a really magical experience? Everywhere I looked seriously made me feel like I was staring at beautiful phone wallpapers…which is why I took a ton of photos. Check out 6 feel good Puerto Rico wallpapers here.
EL YUNQUE NATIONAL RAINFOREST!
Spent a very Merry Christmas in Puerto Rico and loved it! I loved hiking El Yunque National Rainforest and loved the shirt I was wearing. Thank you for the shirt Brenda I love it! 🎄❤💚
Made it to one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been to: Culebra Island! It seriously looks filtered in person. Woke up at 4am, drove 1 hour, stood in line for what felt like forever and then took a 1.5 hour ferry ride and almost got seasick on the way here but it was totally worth it. Culebra, you stole my heart. 💙❤ 🇵🇷
BACARDI FACTORY TOUR!
First stop in Puerto Rico had to be the Bacardi Distillery Factory where 85% of the rum consumed in the world is made! Yes the weather is perfect and yes the rum tastes 1000 times better here!
ENJOY COCONUT WATER ON THE BEACH!
The picture honestly says it all. Not much beats chillin’, maxin’, and relaxing on a beautiful sandy beach with a coconut in hand. It was so refreshing, delicious and a wonderful way to spend the Christmas holiday AKA Navidades Boricuas!
DRINK BELGIUM BEER!
When I think of Belgium, I think of chocolate AND beer so on #InternationalBeerDay I shared a couple of my favorite beers from around the world including this particular beer (BarBar) from Belgium! Check out the blog post here to see more of my favorite beers from the USA, Germany, Ireland, and the United Kingdom! I will say that I had the most fun drinking in Belgium (lots of fun memories) and the flavor and alcohol content of the beer in Belgium is just out of this world, which all beers should aspire to be. 🍻🍻
Travel bucket list item #97 completed : GO TO A CHRISTMAS MARKET!: December 2015
One of my favorite reasons about being in Europe during the winter is shown in this picture. Happy to have completed life bucket list : travel edition item #12 : go to a Christmas Market! Christmas markets are HUGE in Europe! Literally they were everywhere, it was awesome. Little tents/cabins are popped up and hot wine, Belgian waffles, pastries, Christmas items and a ton of other things are sold. So much fun to walk through while in Ghent, and basically every city in Europe. Thank you Mack for telling me about these and Maggie and David for taking me! I miss Belgium already!
This picture kind of shows how large these markets can get (just look at that ferris wheel!).
One of my favorite parts about Christmas Markets was that every single Christmas Market had hot wine for sale! It was SOOOO good, plus they come in cute little souvenir mugs!
Travel bucket list item #7 completed : EAT A BELGIAN WAFFLE IN BELGIUM!: December 2015
I can’t believe I did it! I ate a belgian waffle in Belgium! I honestly didn’t think it would be THAT different from a regular waffle in the US but my god. This is by far the best thing I’ve tasted in Europe.
It was absolutely delicious. I got the speculoos waffle with fresh cream and nutella from La Gaufre in the Brussels Christmas Market. Speculoos is a spiced short crust that kind of reminds me of gingerbread. It was so rich and delicious!
Travel bucket list item #21 completed : DO SOMETHING SUPER CHRISTMAS-Y AT A CHRISTMAS MARKET : ICE SKATING: December 2015
Of course we had to do something super Christmas-y at a Christmas Market while we were in Europe. We laced up our ice skates for some winter wonderland ice skating in Bruggs, Belgium! It was such a blast and neither of us fell lol and they had some really great Christmas music playing in all sorts of different languages!
Travel bucket list item #6 completed : VISIT A CASTLE IN BELGIUM : December 2015
While in the beautiful city of Ghent in Belgium, we visited a real life castle (Gravensteen)! It was so AWESOME, the history was unbelievable and I totally felt like I was in a Game of Thrones episode.
Travel bucket list item #8 completed : SEE THE ATOMIUM : December 2015
The Atomium in Belgium was constructed for Expo 58, the 1958 Brussels Worlds Fair. It’s in the shape of a unit cell of an iron crystal magnified 165 billion times. One of my teammates called me a nerd for coming to see it but whatever Cody, don’t be mean!! Haha it was super cool to see in person and they had delicious Belgian waffles outside of it! Super cool!
There was also this super cute and cool ‘be welcome’ sign there that is a great photo op haha
Travel bucket list item #154 completed : MOUNT-ROYAL! : July 2016
One thing that wasn’t on the graduation bucket list but totally should have been was travel! Luckily I got to do that after graduation and one of my fave places to visit was Canada! Including when I got to climb Mount Royal! Mount Royal is a mountain in Canada with a beautiful view of the city! And if you say Mount Royal really fast it sounds like Montreal!
Great hike with a beautiful view of the city.
Travel bucket list item #153 completed : PARC JEAN-DRAPEAU! : July 2016
You know who would go to an EDM festival in another country after hearing about it just 1 hour before it started!? Someone who is ENTHUSIASTIC ABOUT LIFE. That’s right friends. A Montreal native complimented me on my earrings (pictures coming soon!), we became buddies and then she told us we should check out the Piknic Electronik festival at Parc Jean-Drapeau and it was SO. MUCH. FUN. We danced, partied, made some friends and drank sangria from cute little buckets (bucket list sangria haha).
Travel bucket list item #152 completed : NOTRE-DAME DES VICTORIES CHURCH! : July 2016
July 1st is the national day of Canada, a holiday celebrating the enactment of the Constitution Act which formed Canada back in 1867! To celebrate Canada Day, I went cathedral-seeking and found the Notre-Dame des Victories church in Quebec City! This church is a National Historic Site of Canada and a great addition to the Maira Loves Cathedrals collection!
Strollin’ through Quebec City I learned a very valuable lesson. Don’t wear strappy sandals and walk on their cobblestone streets because you might mildly hurt your ankle LOL.
Travel bucket list item #43 completed : OLD PORT IN MONTREAL! : July 2016
What do a Sun Devil and a Wildcat have in common? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. Just kidding, we both share a love for the Old Port of Montreal and are very happy to take a little break from the Arizona heat!
The Old Port was beautiful! So many people and little shops and while we were there, the Poutine Festival was happening!
Travel bucket list item #64 completed : Basílica-catedral de Marie-Reine-du-Monde! : July 2016
If you follow me on Instagram you know that #MairaLovesCathedrals is a thing. Well, I was able to cross off another bucket list item and add another cathedral to my collection in Canada! I visited the beautiful Basilique Marie Reine du Monde Cathedral which is French for Mary, Queen of the World Cathedral. It is a beautiful minor Basilica in Montreal, Canada. I particularly liked it because of all the statues above it and surrounding it. It is the 3rd largest cathedral in Quebec and serves as the seat of the Roman Catholic archdiocese of Montreal.
Calvin and I were lucky that the day we visited this Cathedral, a couple had actually just gotten married! So It was very fun to watch the couple stroll out of the Cathedral..well we didn’t actually see them walk out of the Cathedral. We saw them outside taking pictures, so who knows….maybe they got married somewhere else. This particular area of Montreal had a ton of churches and cathedrals!
There were so many statues all around it! It was a very cool place.
Travel bucket list item #40 completed : MONTMORENCY FALLS! : July 2016
They told me I would fall in love with Quebec City, and they were so right. Absolutely in love with this place. Montmorency Falls was breathtaking and apparently 30 meters taller than Niagara Falls! We got soaked just by standing next to it.
You can check out a video of my experience here.
It was so beautiful!
Travel bucket list item #39 completed : EAT POUTINE IN CANADA! : July 2016
I love when the universe looks out for me…like when I travel to Canada and want to try poutine and I end up catching the end of their famous Poutinefest Festival!
I did it friends! I was really nervous to try this Canadian delicacy because it just sounds really….interesting. According to Wikipedia, Poutine is a Canadian dish, originating in the province of Quebec (which is where I visited), made with French fries and cheese curds topped with a light brown gravy. When I first told my friends that I was going to Canada, all I kept hearing was ‘YOU HAVE TO TRY POUTINE’ so naturally, I added this item to my travel bucket list.
Don’t get me wrong, I love fries, gravy, and cheese…I’ve just never had them in 1 dish before. But it was DELICIOUS!! Tasted sort of like mashed potatoes. It was really good, but really filling. I only ate half of my bowl and I still wanted to go on a juice cleanse after haha.
The great thing about poutine is that there are so many variations of it. I ordered the most basic one (fries, gravy, and cheese curds) but my friend ordered his with smoked meat, onions, mushrooms and his tasted even better. I will definitely be trying the more extreme variations next time I’m in Canada!
Travel bucket list item #34 completed : CIRQUE DU SOLEIL SHOW IN CANADA! : July 2016
31,000 steps and a full day in Canada later, bucket list travel edition item #34 was completed: go to a Cirque du Soleil show! We saw Luzia, the newest show inspired by the cultural richness of Mexico and IT. WAS. AMAZING. Not only were the tricks and performers super impressive, but the music was awesome (downloading all the music for my half marathon training playlist), the costumes were beautiful, the story was emotional AND they served margaritas. Glad I got to see a show in Canada, where CirqueDuSoleil actually originated more than 30 years ago!
I felt like a child when I saw the big white tents because I’ve always related big tents to awesome circus shows!
The show was so intense and emotional…I think the picture above is a great representation of what I was feeling! Check out more photos on my very Mexican adventures in Canada here!
Travel bucket list item #156 completed : BUNRATTY CASTLE! : December 2015
On days when work can be a little hectic, I like to think of my time in Ireland when I was absolutely stress free. It really is one of my favorite places in the world and I’ll probably retire there (lol). Reminiscing today on the time when I crossed off travel bucket list item #66: visit Bunratty Castle! Bunratty Castle means Castle at the Mouth of the Ratty and it is a large 15th century tower house in Ireland (that totally has a Game of Thrones vibe). It was such a cool place!
Travel bucket list item #155 completed : DRINK IRISH COFFEE! : December 2015
If you know me, you’ll know that I’m not a coffee drinker so even though I wanted to try Irish coffee, this was the closest I got. I had Irish coffee cheesecake in Ireland on a rainy day back in December and it was absolutely delicious!
Travel bucket list item #20 completed : CLIFFS OF MOHER! : December 2015
Completed my most anticipated bucketl ist item in Ireland : visit the Cliffs of Moher. This is where The Princess Bride, Harry Potter and a ton of other movies have been filmed. It was beyond BEAUTIFUL and breathtaking. You are literally on the edge. Stunning. Not sure how I can leave Ireland after seeing this. Will definitely be coming back to retire here. You can see 6 more photos to inspire you to visit this beautiful place here.
Travel bucket list item #23 completed : DUBHLINN GARDENS! : December 2015
The Dubhlinn Gardens are beautiful and the area is SO SERENE. Not many things force me to stop and really take in the moment, but this place made me do that. Plus these gardens also function as a helipad and since I love aerospace I thought it was pretty cool. Pretty awesome that I can say that I’ve stood on a helipad. ✈🌿
Travel bucket list item #22 completed : DUBLIN CASTLE! : December 2015
Dublin Castle totally reminded me of the castles from Game of Thrones so of course I was in love.
It was BEAUTIFUL and I managed to crash a tour group and learn lots of fun facts such as the fact that every presidential inauguration is held here!
I miss this beautiful place!
Travel bucket list item #25 completed : BABY CLIFFS! : December 2015
Before making it to the infamous Cliffs of Moher, we stopped by the Baby Cliffs! It was super windy up there but totally beautiful. As you can see by the picture, my new Irish beanie (lol) almost flew off my head. But the view was incredible. One of my new favorite countries for sure, I miss you Ireland!
The Baby Cliffs were beyond beautiful…but nothing in comparison to the Cliffs of Moher (those pictures will be added next week, so stay tuned!)
Travel bucket list item #16 completed : ST. PATRICK’S CATHEDRAL! : December 2015
It was a very surreal moment to step in St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin, Ireland. Not only was it a beautiful structure but it was a very spiritual experience. I learned a lot about St. Patrick and how respected he was in Ireland. I learned that St. Patrick’s Cathedral is the National Cathedral of Ireland, as well as the largest cathedral in Ireland.
If you are like every other young person in America, I am almost 99% sure that you go out and celebrate St. Patrick’s day but do you know why that day is a holiday? We celebrate the life of St. Patrick for many reasons but the two main reasons are that:he did a lot of missionary work and established hundreds of churches.
Travel bucket list item #37 completed : TRINITY COLLEGE IN DUBLIN! : December 2015
Everyone has heard of Trinity College and that’s because it is a world known institution. It’s a beautiful campus with a lot to offer. The very first thing we did when arriving was to check out the Old Library of Trinity College, the largest library in Dublin that is home to some of the rarest books in the world.
The campus is beyond BEAUTIFUL including this beautiful piece of artwork. This is the ‘Sphere Within a Sphere’ and it was just a super cool piece of art.
I couldn’t get enough of this campus, it was perfect.
I couldn’t visit Trinity College and not make it out to see the Historic Trinity Chapel! I really like cathedrals and the Historic Trinity Chapel was a beautiful piece of architecture!
Travel bucket list item #12 completed : OLD JAMESON DISTILLERY! : December 2015
I visited the Old Jameson Distillery in Ireland, got a tour and sampled different kinds of whiskey! Super cool to learn how the history of how it all started, how whiskey is made and the differences between hard liquor and beer. I’ll be honest and let you all know that I almost threw up during the whiskey tasting because I am 100% NOT a whiskey drinker. Like AT ALL. But it was an awesome experience! The tour includes a whiskey tasting (which was of course on my bucket list and those pictures will be posted next week, so stay tuned!) and a free whiskey drink (I got the Jameson whiskey ginger and lime and it was DELICIOUS!)
The tour of the distillery was so awesome because we got to see the whiskey being made and the machines were super cool!
Travel bucket list item #24 completed : DRINK GUINNESS IN IRELAND!: December 2015I visited the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin, Ireland, got a tour, and tasted the freshly brewed Guinness!! First off, the brewery tour was amazing, I learned a ton and will definitely be brewing my own beer this year. Second, I was able to experience the coolest tasting room ever. Third, I was told that the Guinness from Ireland was way different from the Guinness in the states and YES IT ABSOLUTELY WAS. IT WAS DELICIOUS AND SUPER SMOOTH AND A THOUSAND TIMES BETTER. Sorry friends I’m totally coming back as a beer snob lol. Fourth, apparently back in the 1890s, Guinness sent world travelers to different places to try beer. So this is a public request to Guinness, I would like to volunteer as tribute. Thank you 🙂
Travel bucket list item #45 completed : THE LOUVRE!: January 2016
I loved the beautiful city of Paris and it was so surreal to be right outside of the Louvre Museum! We didn’t actually get a chance to go inside but we did see the infamous glass pyramid and it was fun to know that we were so close to such beautiful and well known pieces of art! I’ll definitely have to go back and actually go inside next time
Travel bucket list item #31 completed : POINT ZERO!: January 2016
Paris Point Zero is a marking outside of the Notre Dame Cathedral marking the exact center of the city (or the heart of Paris). My good friend Suzanna told me that i needed to add this item to my bucket list and make a wish and so I did! And I’m happy to report that the wish I made, came true!
Travel bucket list item #28 completed : VISIT SAINTE-CHAPELLE!: January 2016
I loved exploring France because the architecture reminded me of Harry Potter for some reason (probably because everything looked like Hogwarts castle haha). I loved Sainte Chapelle in Paris! It is a beautiful royal chapel in the Gothic style. My friends Maggie and David told me I needed to add this place to my bucket list because it was actually just recently restored! It was BEAUTIFUL! Although, when I walked in, it seemed really small so I said to my friend ‘that’s it’ and then we found a staircase that led to a more impressive area but I tripped and almost fell on the stairs. I think it was karma getting me back for being a spoiled brat and complaining initially haha. Beautiful place (even the door is impressive), everyone add this to your bucket list!
Travel bucket list item #29 completed : BREAKFAST AT A PARISIAN CAFE!: January 2016
If you’ve read my Adventures in France blog post, you will know that when I got to Paris I was really cranky, tired, and not in a very good mood. But once we got to a super cute little Parisian cafe, all of my anger went away because there’s no way to be angry in the beautiful city of Paris. Ever since I took French in high school, I’ve always wanted to have an early Parisian breakfast at a super cute Parisian cafe and it finally happened! 🙂 We had a delicious breakfast of croissants, toast, hot chocolate, orange juice and coffee. It was simple and perfect. I had such delicious food in France, so stay tuned because I will be posting all of the pictures in the coming weeks!
Travel bucket list item #18 completed : PALACE OF VERSAILLES!: January 2016
New year, new house!! 😂😂 Lol jk friends, today Tim and I made it out to the Palace Of Versailles aka Chateau De Versailles! Beautiful weather and incredibly impressive palace. This is seriously house goals. The famous Palace of Versailles in France was breathtaking. The architecture was beautiful and there was so much history! Europe is awesome!
The palace is hands down one of the most beautiful places I have ever stepped into. Definitely house goals, one day 🙂
I also got distracted while exploring the Gardens of Versailles in France by a tree trunk that totally looks like the throne in Game of Thrones. Does anyone else see it or is it just me (lol)?
Travel bucket list item #32 completed : NOTRE DAME IN PARIS!: December 2015
When I was in Paris, I checked out the Notre Dame Cathedral! Notre Dame is French for “Our Lady of Paris”)and is considered to be one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture, and it is among the largest and most well-known church buildings in Europe and the world. Super cool to see in person!
I also really liked how the cathedral looked from the back and I LOVED that there were swings in the back! How much cooler can you get?!
It’s such a beautiful building from the front, back, inside, and all sides!
Travel bucket list item #15 completed : EIFFEL TOWER IN PARIS!: December 2015
I visited the Eiffel Tower (or Tour Eiffel as the locals call it) and went all the way to the top! Beautiful structure and the weather at the top feels phenomenal. All that wind makes it feel like you are way higher than the 980 feet! Awesome experience.
It was freezing up there since we went in December but the views were ridiculous and totally worth it. I also witnessed a proposal!! It was so romantic :’)
Also, it was not enough to see this beauty just during the day. We came back at night and oh my goodness…I can’t decided which time I prefer. At night it was really cool because they have light shows and it is just beautiful.
Travel bucket list item #13 completed : ARC DE TRIOMPHE IN PARIS!: December 2015
TheArc De Triomphe in Paris, France is a beautiful monument that honors those who fought and died for France in the French Revolutionary and the Napoleonic Wars. It was really cool to see it in person and stand there reading all of the names inscribed on the surfaces. And yes that tiny person is me. The Arc is HUGE!
While visiting the Arc, I also made sure to check out the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It is a place of remembrance and meditation. The idea for an unknown soldier to be honored in death in France came about in 1916 while World War I was still being fought and the outcome in certain doubt.
Travel bucket list item #47 completed : EAT BRATWURST IN GERMANY! : December 2015
The most delicious bratwurst I have ever had was in Koln, Germany at a restaurant called Brahaus Lion! It was so delicious and the fries and the beer totally completed the meal!
Travel bucket list item #41 completed : PARTICIPATE IN THE GREAT DEBATE: GERMAN VS BELGIQUE FRIES! : December 2015
So I had Wendy’s fries today in Arizona and couldn’t help but remember being in Belgium and Germany and eating way better fries there. So you know while traveling in Germany and Belgium, I had to participate in the great debate: Belgium vs Germany fries. They were both very, very good and a lot more filling than American fries but I have to say that I preferred Belgische Pommes! And yes, they have those interesting looking food statues EVERYWHERE 👅😂
Travel bucket list item #26 completed : LOVE LOCKS BRIDGE ON THE HOHENZOLLERNBRüCKE BRIDGE! : December 2015
I visited the love locks bridge in Köln on the Hohenzollernbrücke bridge and it was so cool. There were so many locks (around 40,000 according to Wikipedia)! Apparently couples put a love lock on the bridge to symbolize and honor their love. Definitely coming back here and adding a lock some day!
Travel bucket list item #35 completed : CLIMB TO THE TOP OF THE PANORAMA OBSERVATION DECK (AUSSICHTSPLATTFORM) IN COLOGNE! : December 2015
Those of you who have been following my blog and social media know that I am ALL ABOUT observation decks. There is just something about being that high up and being able to see incredible views that has always intrigued me. I got the chance to get to the top of a really cool observation deck in Cologne, Germany: Panorama Observation Deck aka Aussichtsplattform and it was so cool. There were truly some awesome views of the cathedral and the city!
Travel bucket list item #11 completed : CLIMB TO THE TOP OF THE COLOGNE CATHEDRAL! : December 2015
I hiked up the 533 steps (475 feet!!!) of the Cologne Cathedral (aka Kölner Dom) to the top to see a beautiful view of Köln, Germany! It was a rough hike but 100% worth it. Beautiful view, beautiful windy weather and I felt so great about myself after lol totally loving Germany and Europe right now!
We were so winded and out of breath when we made it to the top, but WE MADE IT!!
The view at the top of the Cologne Cathedral (aka Kölner Dom). Köln is a beautiful city. I miss Germany!
At the top, there was a bell and yes it sounded when we got up there! I could FEEL the sound.
The Cologne Cathedral is seriously such a beautiful building on the inside, the outside, during the day, at night, all the time.
We crossed the bridge and still could not believe we had made it to the very top earlier that day! We were up there, near the pointy end!
Travel bucket list item #42 completed : DRIVE ON THE AUTOBAHN IN GERMANY!: December 2015
While driving from Belgium to Germany, I was able to cross off a bucket list item! My friend drove on the infamous autobahn aka the freeway in Germany where you can drive ridiculous speeds like 187 km/hr aka 116 miles an hour!!! Being a passenger was terrifying so I can’t even imagine what it would feel like to drive it. I’ll have to come back and drive it! It was scary I won’t lie lol but super cool to experience! And yes we were definitely driving 187 km/hr!!