Travel

Mid-Century Tropical Design, Retro Bus, Miami, East Little Havana, Airbnb, RiverInn

Mid-Century Tropical Airbnb

 I believe everyone can live, travel, and shop for the finer things in life on a budget. Traveling on a budget doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice comfort or style. So to get the best of both worlds I either find my hotels on discount sites like HotelTonight or I search for beautiful homes on Airbnb. Here is one of my absolute favorite accommodations was River Inn located in one of Miami’s oldest neighborhoods, East Little Havana.  This “Aparthotel” had a beautifully vibrant Mid-Century Tropical design. If you are wondering what elements create this overall theme,  I’ll quickly break it down for you below. 

Design Breakdown

Mid-Century Modern style makes use of clean lines, geometric shapes, and furniture with tapered legs to bring a more lived-in look to traditional modern style. It also incorporates wood and tweed elements while drawing attention to specific pieces of furniture and decor.

Mid-Century Tropical Design
Image by: DelightFull, Decoist, Ruffled Blog, Atomic Ranch,

Tropical style is all about comfort, ease, and utility and is eclectic by definition. The style is characterized by warm and soothing, colors drawn mostly from natural elements such as the sea, sky, and vegetation. Hues may be deep and rich or may fall on the lighter, brighter side.

 

I fell in love with their Mid-Century Tropical design so much so, that I will be designing my new apartment with pieces that were inspired by it. 


If you are interested in staying at River Inn click hereSign up with my link and you will get up to $55 off your first trip.

P.S.

*Contains Affiliated Links*

 

Besitos,

Melizza

 

"At the beach, life is different. Times doesn't move hour to hour, but mood to moment. We live by the currents plan by the tides, and follow the sun." ~ Unknown

I’ve spent the last 7 months traveling, running away from the hustle and bustle of the city that never sleeps. Only to experience many sleepless nights. On most of those nights I found myself driving to the beach to sit beneath the stars and listen to the waves crashing against the shore.

Life is different at the beach for me. It is more significant to me than others can understand. All my worries seem to wash away with each crashing wave. I’ve spent many hours, which felt like minutes, soaking up the sun, drowning out my fears, and listening to my unfiltered desires. It is a sacred time for me, where the mood is always right.

Florida beaches, plus size swimwear

I’m saddened that I won’t have access to a Caribbean or Floridan beach this entire summer but I know this sacrifice will benefit me in the long run. I’m beyond appreciative of the moments I’ve spent with myself on the coast. So much so that an entire post is dedicated to those moments. Maybe it’s time for me to get use to the northern coastline.

Until then, here is a list of my Top 5 Floridan beaches:

  1. Key West
  2. Nokomis
  3. Siesta Keys
  4. Sanibel 
  5.  Naples

Check out Travel Channel’s Top 10 Beaches on Florida’s East Coast. (Clearwater and South Beach are too touristy for me to ever fully love them…that’s why they will never be on my list). 

P.S. 

My bathing suit is from Target. 

plus size swimwear, Florida beach
Photography by: Christina Jones Photography

Besitos,

Melizza

What is "tabanca"?

It has officially been a month since I played mass in Trinidad and I was warned about experiencing “tabanca”. Some of you may be asking what the hell is “tabanca”? Is it a noun, a verb, or an adjective? And some of you may be all too familiar with it. Some might call tabanca the West Indian equivalent to being lovesick. But, in my case tabanca has absolutely nothing to do with a man and absolutely everything to do with Trinidad Carnival!

Where do I even begin when it comes to the topic of Trinidad’s Carnival? Hmm let’s begin with #TrinidadIsn’tARealPlace

I should have known I would be in for surrealism at it’s finest when ASP Wayne Mystar stated during Trinidad and Tobago Police Service media briefing that “picking up things (and people) could result in a criminal offense.” But did we really need a media briefing on this? Apparently, we did! For those of you who aren’t Soca lovers, here is the tune that started this all.

Mr. Killa – “Run Wid It”

Yes, that’s right rum has encouraged party goers to pick up ANYTHING and RUN with it! Trini fun is another level of wild behavior and it is not for the faint of heart! With that being said, here are my Top 10 recommendations when playing mas in Trinidad. 

1. Be prepare for NO SLEEP! Set one day, if you can, to catch up on sleep. If you’re not a “feteran” (partying vet) or a college student it will punch you in the face. We used our day off to get local cuisine and went to the beach.

2. Purchase all-inclusive tickets. The all-inclusive fetes were worth it especially if you drink. You are provided a reusable cup and It can be compared to bottomless brunches. Plus food is provided which you need to stay semi-sober. 

3. Less is more because Trinidad is HOT! It’s like being on a rush hour subway car in the middle of July…not the best for you hair but you skin is dewy for the sweat haha. Wedges and cute sandals are your best friends because most of the parties are outdoors.

4. You can play mass without a costume. I paid for a front line costume and truly did not believe it was worth the price ($1,100) especially because of the issues we had at the distribution center and with the actual costume. I felt amazing though and I wish I took photos before playing mass.

5. Don’t walk with tons of cash. I walked with $200 US and used my card when I was able. EVERYONE will try to sell you their TTDs but it is not worth it. My friend and I did the conversions and gave the American equivalency. I did not want to have money was worth 6.8 to my 1 dollar. Make sure you break down your money with 10’s, 5’s, and single dollar bills.

6. Beware of hustlers.  My friends and I felt like some one was trying to hustle us every day I was there. It may have been different if we had friends and family there but this feeling had me on high alert the majority of my stay. This trip was the first time I had ever change my flight to return home earlier than plan because I felt unsafe to stay by myself.

7. Wear COMFORTABLE shoes on the road. We walked 15 miles on both Monday and Tuesday. I wouldn’t claim to be athletic but I’m healthy enough to walk the distance. If you’re not trying to train before arriving in Trinidad. I placed insoles in my sneakers to make sure my feet weren’t crying early on. Regardless, they will be aching by the end of the day. 

8. Listen to Soca jams of carnival season. You don’t necessarily need to know all soca songs, because you will hear the top 15 over and over. No seriously! And we all danced as if we didn’t just hear that song an hour ago.

9. Pay for the travel plan with your wireless company and bring at least two fully charged backup chargers and your own charging cable. (We helped a lost tourist with a dead cell and no free wifi to contact her group)

10. HAVE FUN, DRINK, AND DANCE YOUR BUTT OFF! Trinidad Carnival and J’ouvert is a judgement free zone.  Wear what you want no matter your body shape, do what you want (pithing reason), and behave however you want! Make you you have bake and shark, roti, chow, and paella while in Trinidad. Ask for Peppa!

Besitos,

Melizza

Would you like to test out your sea legs visit while on vacation on the beautiful island of St. Croix? If so, take a full day sail to Buck Island on Big Beard’s 42’ Catamaran “RENEGADE”. This all-inclusive sail leaves promptly at 9:30am from downtown Christianstead and rates start from $26 (Children ages 5 and under) to $105 for adults. 

Big Beards provides sanitized snorkel gear and lessons to each guest in need of one at Buck Island’s Turtle Beach. After that,  the crew takes its guests to snorkel the lagoon on the other side of the island. You will be guided through the underwater trail and then can explore by yourself. 

Big Beard's Adventure, Plus size swimsuit

Guests are allowed to bring their own snacks and beverages (Prosecco anyone?). If you’re going to snorkel, I suggest you wait to drink afterwards. Once guests reach the private beach burgers, hot dogs, fresh fish, and assorted chips are served. If you would like a veggie burger you can request one. 

After lunch and all the rum punch (that will sneak up on you) we had a relaxing sail back to town. The trip was relaxing with tunes playing the entire times and it was even kid-friendly. The crew was friendly, knowledgeable, and amazing.  We had every age group onboard. Thankfully, we had a fun group that wasn’t uptight or sloppy drunk. It was a great way to celebrate Z’s birthday!

Because I’m extra, I brought more than necessary. Of course we brought our sunscreen, towels, water, healthy snacks blah blah blah. But, to fully enjoy this experience I brought Swimways mesh pool floats, my FRĒ Lifeproof case, and my waterproof bluetooth speakers from Altec  so we could fully relax while tanning in the water. 

If you would like to learn more or make reservations for the full day sail with Big Beard’s please click here

Besitos,

Melizza 

Cruzan Cowgirl Horseback Riding

Cruzan Cowgirls is a small family operated company on the beautiful island of St. Croix that offers horseback riding tours with rescue horses. The trail begins in the West End. Riders are guided through an old cattle plantation that full of papaya, tan-tan, and historical ruins. Riders are able to experience the rich and beautiful culture St. Croix has to offer before ending the tour in the gorgeous turquoise water so be prepared to get wet!

I Recommend You Bring:

  • Natural bug repellent (which you can find in the local K-mart in West)
  • Sunglasses
  • Waterproof Cell Phone Case (I have a Lifeproof Case) or 
  • Waterproof Bag (or at least a ziplock)

The site recommends what to wear but as you can see in my video I wore what I wanted and I did not regret doing so. I wore my most comfortable pearl jeans, a flow blouse, and sans footwear. I wanted to feel comfortable and I did! 

The tour lasts about 1.5 to 2 hours and can be reserved by calling or texting (340) 690-7433. Visit Cruzan Cowgirls for more details. 

 

Besitos,

Melizza

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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