Travel

plus size travel, venice Italy, rialto bridge,

Last December, during my day-long layover in Boston, I decided to visit the Isabella Gardner Museum before traveling to Copenhagen. There was a gallery featuring work inspired by the artist’s travels throughout Italy. It was in that particular gallery where I strongly felt that I would be traveling to Italy within the new year.

As I walked through looking at each piece, I began to feel overwhelmed with jealousy and determination. I wanted to be in Italy just like the artist. But, I didn’t want to experience Italy through her brush strokes and her memories. I wanted to experience Italy for myself and create memories that only I would have! I told myself that no matter what I would find a way to get to Italy and see it for myself. Fast forward to six months later and I wasn’t just traveling to Italy. But I was living in Italy!

I was able to briefly immerse myself in the culture and I fell in love. Espresso filled mornings, gelato filled afternoons, and Spritz filled evenings. Italians are passionate people. They spoke my love language even though I could barely spoke theirs. They had a warmth and energy that I gravitated towards. And like every other country that I have ever visited, I now incorporate a piece of their culture into my everyday life.

Italia, Italy, Venice, Plus size travel,

I worked as an AuPair during the week and had the weekends off to explore. Exploring Venice was a priority of mine. Normally I like to explore by myself, but for this I knew I wanted a tour of Venice and I wanted to hire a photographer to capture my experience. So I began my search and I found Anthony Sulchia on Airbnb. Not only did he have the credentials as a cinematography and photography professor, but all of his reviews were excellent. And I must say he exceeded all of my expectations! We avoided the crowds of tourists through alleyways only known by locals, he took us to the must-see spots, and treated us to the best gelato Venice had to offer!  If you’re ever in Venice you MUST hire Anthony. Check out his reviews and his availability via Airbnb.

*All the photos in today’s post, excluding the two showing Anthony, were taken by Anthony **

Traveling is possible for anyone who truly wants to! You can travel on a budget. It’s all about balancing when you’re on a budget. Some nights I ate a simple panini with chips and other nights I would splurge on a fancy meal with wine. Some weekends I stayed in an Airbnb room and other weekends I stayed in a hotel. Some weekends I traveled first class and some weekends I traveled by bus or the train.  I was able to travel and live in Italy as an AuPair. I had some luxurious moments but I also had very long, stressful, and hard days at work. At the end of the day, the sacrifices and hard work  always makes it worth it!

Anything is possible if you put your mind to it! Do the necessary research and save your money until you’ve arrived at whatever destination you desire. In the same way that I sensed I would visit Italy last Winter, I know I will return for an extended stay. I don’t know when, but I know it will happen. Until then, I will continue saving my money and researching how to make it happen. 

Besitos,

Melizza

Today marks the first of September and mentally Fall has already begun for me. But, if you must get technical, the first day of Fall is officially September 22nd. Needless to say, Fall is all about: plaid, the leaves changing, a spiced latter (or two), and most importantly my annual trip to Boston, MA. Thanks to my go-to booking app, HotelTonight, I was able to stay at a modern and industrial chic hotel in the heart of downtown at The Boxer

The unique structure is similar to the Flatiron Building in New York City. The tufted bedframes, open steel wardrobes, and the marbled bathroom immediately caught my attention. I had a pre-planned photo shoot so I needed a hotel that was not only accessible but also relaxing. And The Boxer provided just that!

My room was furnished with an iHome, Keurig coffee maker, and a large flat screen TV. You know… “first world” essentials. The Boxer offers smart business amenities for those traveling for work. Complimentary Wi-fi made working on my personal workspace hassle-free. Complimentary printing is available at the lobby computer kiosk if needed. The Boxer is also pet-friendly and has a 24-hour gym. After a long day of traveling, pulling, and prepping for the shoot I was more than happy to have dinner and drinks at Finch, its on-site restaurant, conveniently located on the ground floor. Check, check, and check! Seriously, The Boxer has everything covered! It was tempting to stay in my room and never leave the hotel. But sadly, the duties of being a responsible adult (gag) called and reluctantly I left the comforts of my suite.

If you ever truly want to experience Fall and explore Boston, I highly recommend you stay at The Boxer Boston! Check out their website for more details.

Besitos,

Melizza

Three months ago I blissfully sat on the sandy beaches of my island of St. Croix in awe of its beauty. Happy to be away from the bustling streets of New York City and happy to be amongst my family and my people to celebrate our Centennial. The U.S.V.I was purchased from Denmark in 1917 for $25 million in gold. Yes, I am American, but I’ve always prided myself in being raised with the blended customs of my Puerto Rican and Cruzan heritage.

Twelve days after Category 5 Hurricane Irma caused destruction throughout the Caribbean, Maria, also a Category 5, was named the 13th hurricane of the 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season. Her direct hit brought mass devastation to the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico while trying to recover from Hurricane Irma. St. Croix, St.John, and St. Thomas are experiencing massive structural damage and a one-hundred percent loss of electricity just like Puerto Rico. Only those with power generators have power and the power restoration across the entire island will take months according to Governor Mapp. There is also a lack of telephone and internet service, making the communication to the mainland U.S. hard.

Hurricane Maria STT
Photo Credit: Matthias Abraham
Photo Credit: @ladydivigirl
Hurricane Maria STT
Photo Credit: @jlyons462
Hurricane Maria STT
Photo Credit: @jlyons462
Hurricane Maria STT
Photo Credit: @jlyons462

The days that pass since Maria have been filled with sadness, concern, helplessness, and a sense of guilt that I am safe in the comforts of my NYC apartment while my people are suffering from the aftermath of Maria.  My heart is heavy and my eyes repeatedly and randomly release tears. Many of my Caribbean friends and family that live here on the mainland are still waiting to hear from loved ones on Puerto Rico and in the V.I. Many of us stateside are not only concern with the physical state of our family and friends, but their emotional and mental state. We are struggling with how we can help rebuild from a distance.

Many Virgin Island residents felt abandon and felt as if the news outlets were largely focused on Puerto Rico and the aftermath of Hurricane Irma to Florida and the mainland. I want you all to know you are not forgotten nor abandon! We love you all! I have family on both U.S territories and they are both experiencing loss of property and power and food shortages. What I love about my people is our warmth and unity! We have to unite our efforts here on the mainland to help our loved ones back home.

The items listed below can be purchased at the dollar store if you have a limited budget. Anything helps! Below I have posted where you can donate hurricane relief supplies for the U.S. Virgin Islands AND Puerto Rico with locations here in NYC and Tampa, FL.

Photo Credit: @cruzanrumpapi
Donate Critically-Needed Items for Hurricane Relief in U.S. Virgin Islands
  • Non-Perishable Food
  • Dry Snacks
  • New Socks
  • New Underwear
  • Baby Supplies
  • First Aid Supplies
  • Diapers
  • Baby food
  • Batteries
  • First Aid Supplies
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Soap
  • Toilet Paper
  • Pasta
  • Dish Liquid
  • Rice
  • Pancake Mix
  • Paper Towel
  • Deodorant
  • Adult Pampers
  • Lotion
  • Toothpaste
  • Toothbrushes
  • Shampoo 
  • Conditioner
  • Batteries (All Types)
  • Flashlights
  • Bug Repellant
  • Children’s books/ Workbooks
  • School Supplies
 
** NO Cash or Water** 
 
Bronx, NY
 
Bronxchester
725 St. Ann’s Avenue
Bronx, NY 10455
Between: 1:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Monday – Friday
 
Damascus Christian Church
170 Mt. Eden
Bronx, NY 10457
Sundays: 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Wednesdays: 6:30 p.m.
 
Criminal Court
215 E. 161st Street
2nd Floor
Outside Room 230
 
Superior Court
851 Grand Concourse
Room 319
*See Iris*
 
If you can’t make these times or would rather donate money, please donate to Tim Duncan’s 21 US Virgin Island Relief Fund or Kenny Chesney’s Love City Love Foundation. 
 
Tampa, FL
Tres Chic Carnival Troupe held a relief drive today that ended at 3:00 p.m. Contact them at treschiccarnival@gmail.com with questions. 
 
 
Donate Critically-Needed Items for Hurricane Relief in Puerto Rico
 
Across the five boroughs, 17 firehouses and EMS stations are collecting critically-needed items for hurricane relief for the people of Puerto Rico.

The City is encouraging donations of the following five items:

  • Diapers
  • Baby food
  • Batteries
  • First Aid Supplies
  • Feminine hygiene products

All donated items must be non-perishable, not second-hand, nor contain  liquids of any kind. Open or unsealed donations of food or hygiene supplies will not be accepted. At this time, only the five items listed above are being collected.

The following locations will accept your donations of the above listed critically needed items:

Manhattan

  • Engine 91 (East Harlem)
    242 East 111th Street
    Cross Streets: 2nd Avenue and 3rd Avenue
  • Engine 95 / Ladder 36 (Inwood)
    29 Vermilyea Avenue
    Cross Streets: Dyckman Street and Academy Street
  • Engine 28 / Ladder 11 (Lower East Side)
    222 East 2nd Street
    Cross Streets: Avenue B and Avenue C

Bronx

  • EMS Station 26 (Morrisania)
    1264 Boston Road
    Cross Streets: EAST 168 Street and EAST 169 Street
  • EMS Station 55 (Melrose)
    3134 Park Avenue
    Cross Streets: EAST 159 Street and EAST 160 Street
  • Engine 64 / Ladder 47 (Castle Hill)
    1214 Castle Hill Avenue
    Cross Streets: Gleason Avenue and Ellis Avenue
  • Engine 83 / Ladder 29 (Mott Haven/South Bronx)
    618 East 138th Street
    Cross Streets: St. Anns Avenue and Cypress Avenue

Queens

  • Engine 316 (East Elmhurst)
    27-12 Kearney Street
    Cross Streets: 27th Avenue and 101 Street
  • Engine 289 / Ladder 138 (Corona)
    97-28 43rd Avenue
    Cross Streets: 97th Place and 99th Street
  • Engine 307 / Ladder 154 (Jackson Heights)
    81-17 Northern Boulevard
    Cross Streets: 81st Street and 82nd Street

Brooklyn

  • Engine 271 / Ladder 124 (Bushwick)
    392 Himrod Street
    Cross Streets: Wyckoff Avenue and St. Nicholas Avenue
  • Engine 277 / Ladder 112 (Bushwick)
    582 Knickerbocker Avenue
    Cross Streets: Gates Avenue and Palmetto Street
  • Engine 218 (Bushwick)
    650 Hart Street
    Cross Streets: Myrtle Avenue and Central Avenue
  • Engine 201 / Ladder 114 (Sunset Park)
    5113 4th Avenue
    Cross Streets: 51st Street and 52nd Street
  • Engine 228 (Sunset Park)
    436 39th Street
    Cross Streets: 4th Avenue and 5th Avenue

 
Staten Island

  • Engine 153 / Ladder 77 (Stapleton)
    74 Broad Street
    Cross Streets: Wright Street and Quinn Street
  • Engine 157 / Ladder 80 (Port Richmond)
    1573 Castleton Avenue
    Cross Streets: Port Richmond Avenue and Faber Street
  • Ladder 79 (Port Richmond)
    1189 Castleton Avenue
    Cross Streets: Roe Street and Taylor Street
 

 
Tampa
 
**Refer to USVI List of Relief Items Above. Water is accepted at these locations.**
 
4916 S Lois Avenue  
Tampa, FL 33611
 
2701 North Himes Avenue
Tampa, FL 33607
Hurricane Maria STT
Photo Credit: Chunikwa George

I will be reposting other locations I find on my social media. We have a long way to go to rebuild but we can do it together. If you guys know of anymore location please leave a comment below or on my social media pages (@wwmelizzaw).

 

Besitos,

Melizza

When presented with a much needed R&R opportunity for the weekend with my girl friend Raisa, I didn’t think twice before accepting. We agreed upon relaxing and exploring Philadelphia, PA. At this time, Raisa and I had never traveled together so we both knew this trip would put our friendship to the ultimate test.
 
Raisa was the best travel companion!  We both had a list of attractions and restaurants we wanted to visit and we were extremely flexible with timing. We both agreed that: we did not want to wake to an alarm, we would start our day whenever we were ready with no rush, and we would spend the entire day out doing activities while making the most of our time together.
Before I recommend what to enjoy in Philly, I have five simple things you should look for in you travel companion and a questionnaire that may make you fall in love with your travel companion!
 
  1. Share some common interests. You and your travel companion’s interests will determine how you both will be spending your time. This saves you conflict on your trip when determining where to go together.
  2. Avoid people who tend to extremes. I personally do not travel well with any one who excessively plans out the entire trip and adheres to a strict itinerary.
  3. Make sure you enjoy each other’s company. You and your companion should be able to talk about pretty much anything, yet enjoy each other’s company in silence. If not, you should travel by yourself.
  4. Agree on expenditures and activities before you leave. You don’t have to necessarily budget and plan everything out, but having an idea of what you’d like to do and what you can avoid will save you from embarrassment and a headache. 
  5. Travel with someone who is flexible and open-minded.  I believe if you want to get the most out of traveling one must be open to new cultures and experiences. If not, you’ll always end up eating the same meals, doing the same activities, and learning absolutely nothing. That’s not true traveling. 

Raisa and I grew closer during our meals by asking and honestly answering each other the questions on The New Times’ “The 36 Questions That Lead to Love” . If you haven’t answer these questions before with a relative, significant other, or a friend, I highly recommend that you do. If answered sincerely, you both will learn something beyond superficial details.

Here are the places and activities Raisa and I enjoyed during our R&R weekend in Philly. 
 
Places to Go

Places to Eat

Exploring a new city should always be interesting and exciting! Make sure you are compatible with your travel companion to ensure you have an enjoyable adventure.

Besitos,

Melizza

Time always seems to fly when you having fun! That’s why when I go on my 48-hours weekend wanders I try to maximize each to the fullest. Now I’m not an intense planner, but I typically create a “must-see” list of attractions and restaurants. Then after visiting those places first, I usually just “go with the flow.”
 
I must say, I do not have an enormous budget, so most of my activities are free and a majority of my budget goes to my accommodations, dining, and museums. You don’t have to be rich to wander a new city. If you’d like to know how I budget for my weekend wanders, just ask.  I’m not a ashamed to share. Below is list of my recommendations while visiting Boston, Massachusetts for 48 hours. 
 
Places to See
Places to Eat
Things to Do:
  • Shop on Newbury Street
  • Go on a Duck Tour ($39.50)
  • Walk the Freedom Trail
  • Grab a late night cocktail and dance at Alibi

Places to Stay:

  • Airbnb ($70/night)

**I’ve provided links so you can view information on tickets or menus options. None of these links are a part of an affiliate program.

Besitos,

Melizza

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