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Zurich, Switzerland

Fifth Destination on my Dream Trip Around the World

sunny 19 °C

Day One
I have arrived at Zurich's Klosten International Airport after a short 3 hour flight from Lisbon. I paid about $350.00 for the flight. The distance between the two cities is 1724.24 kilometres.

It is still early in the afternoon, so after checking in at my hotel, the Crowne Plaza Zurich, I will begin exploring Switzerland's largest city. The first thing I will do in Zurich is visit Lake Zurich, a banana-shaped lake situated on the south side of the city. Specifically, I will be seeing the lake by boat.
Currently, I am on the boat tour of Lake Zurich I mentioned earlier. The perspective I have of the city and mountains from the lake is a truly amazing one. As the boat travels further away from Zurich, I am now offered views of picturesque lakeside villages, nestled between the water and rolling green hills. My tour guide has mentioned that taxes are very low in this part of the country and, as a result, there are many large mansions and villas perched right on the edge of the lake - a few of which I have already seen. As the boat now returns to the city, the sun is setting over the lake and surrounding mountains, creating one of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever witnessed and, along with the great dinner which I was served earlier in the boat ride, makes for a perfect end to my first day in Zurich.

Day Two
Today, I will be visiting three of Zurich's major churches - St. Peter's, Grossmunster and Fraumunster . All of these churches are located in Zurich's historic old town district and therefore, can be travelled between on foot. While I visit the Churches, I will be looking out for any local markets and restaurants to visit so I can make my walking tour of Zurich as authentic and enjoyable as possible.
As I admire the beauty of these Churches, I can easily tell that they are all centuries old. The first one I visited, St. Peter Church, was completed around the year 1000 and has the largest tower clock face by diameter in all of Europe. The other two Churches, Grossmunster and Fraumunster, were completed in the 13th and 9th centuries, respectively. The double clock towers of Grossmunster are actually thought to be one of Zurich's most recognizable landmarks. In addition to the churches, I stumbled upon Bahnhofstrasse, Zurich's main downtown street and one of the most expensive shopping districts in the world. Of course, I could not afford to buy anything, but I was able to sit down to a delicious dinner at Deici's Pizza and Pasta, before heading back to my hotel to get a good night's sleep.

Day Three

On my third day in Zurich, I will actually be travelling one hour outside of the city, through the Swiss mountains and countryside, to the town of Eisiedeln, where I will spend the rest of the day skiing in the Swiss Alps. Before I leave the ski resort, I will eat dinner at an authentic Swiss Chalet. I am really looking forward to skiing in the Alps and believe this will be the perfect end to my visit to Zurich. Tomorrow, I depart for the next destination on my journey, Venice, Italy.

Posted by acrm2015 05:29 Archived in Switzerland Comments (0)

Lisbon, Portugal

Fourth Destination on My Dream Trip Around the World

sunny 21 °C

Day One
I have been in transit from San Juan to Lisbon for about 23 hours - almost an entire day. This includes the layovers I made in New York City (JFK International Airport) and Madrid (Barajas International Airport). Although I have arrived in Lisbon, I am so tired that I will probably just relax in my hotel room at the highly-rated SANA Lisboa Hotel. I plan to actually begin exploring this beautiful old world city tomorrow. With regards to the flight, I paid about $2300.00. The distance between San Juan and Lisbon is 5902.09 kilometres.

Day Two
Today is the first day that I will be visiting different attractions and points of interest across Lisbon. I have just eaten breakfast at the hotel and I now find myself at one of the most popular attractions in Lisbon, the Belem Tower. I have just learned that it was built in the early 1500s to protect the Tagus river from potential invaders who could travel along it to gain access to Lisbon and other parts of Portugal. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The tower is four stories tall, is ringed with cannons and contains rooms which, during the time the tower was active as a military defense structure, served a variety of purposes. For instance, there is a room that once functioned as a chapel, and there are others which served as rooms for the king and governor. Overall, the tower has a very ornate architectural style typical of the 14th century and it is evident that those who built it paid a lot of attention to detail. The views of Lisbon and the mouth of the Tagus River from the top floor of the tower are picturesque and will undoubtedly leave me with memories that do justice to the beauty of this medieval tower.


Day Three

Today is my third day in Lisbon, but only my second full day here in the Portuguese capital. After a restful night's sleep and a delicious breakfast in my hotel, I am know on my way to Estadio Jose Alvalade, home of Sporting Clube de Portugal, one of Portugal's "Big Three" soccer teams, alongside FC Porto and SL Benfica. I think my tour of the stadium will be the highlight of my visit to Lisbon, as Sporting is one of my favourite teams and I am really looking forward to stepping out onto the famous Jose Alvalade field.
My experience at the soccer stadium was amazing. The tour was organized and the guide was insightful, while the visit to the club museum and trophy room was a great feature. For only 10 euros, this experience was well worth the money. After leaving the stadium, I made my way to a restaurant named Taberna Sal Grosso for lunch, where I enjoyed a light lunch of soup and a desert of fresh fruit. Now, having just finished eating lunch, I find myself at the Jeronimos Monastery. During my tour of the site, I have learned that it was completed in 1502 and was built on the site where Portuguese explorer Vasco de Gama and his crew spent their last night in their homeland before departing for India. Vasco de Gama himself, as well as other former Portuguese nobility are entombed at the monastery. Later on, the monastery eventually became populated by monks of the order of St. Jerome - the saint to which it lends its name. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a beautiful display of domed roofs, well-manicured gardens and elaborate sculptural details honouring Portugal's naval culture at the time it was constructed.
Overall, the monastery was an enjoyable experience and provided an interesting contrast to the Soccer stadium I visited earlier today. Now, I will head back to my hotel to have dinner and get some sleep before my last day in Lisbon tomorrow.

Day Four

It is now my fourth day in Lisbon overall, but the third day of my sightseeing and exploration of the city. Today, I will be visiting Sintra, a suburb of Lisbon, famous for its charming castles and grandiose palaces. Before lunch, I plan to visit the Pena National Palace, a colourful structure situated amongst the trees of the Sintra National Forest. Following my visit to the palace and lunch at a local café, I will head westward to Cabo da Roca, the westernmost point of mainland Europe, where I will have the opportunity to look out over the Atlantic Ocean. On my way back to my hotel in Lisbon, I will pay quick visits to Castelo dos Mouros and Sintra National Palace, two more medievel castles located in Sintra.
As the sun sets in over this magical old-world city, I reflect on the short but sweet three days I spent here. Tomorrow I will be off to Zurich, Switzerland, the next destination in my trip around the world.

Posted by acrm2015 05:29 Archived in Portugal Comments (0)

San Juan, Puerto Rico, United States of America

Third Destination on My Dream Trip Around the World

semi-overcast 25 °C

Day One
The third destination on my voyage around the world is San Juan Puerto Rico. After a relatively short flight (3 hours) from Tocumen International Airport in Panama City, to Luiz Munoz Marin International Airport here in San Juan, I have just checked into my hotel, La Concha Renaissance Resort, located right on Condado Beach. The flight cost about $900.00 and covered a distance of 1792 kilometres. Since my flight arrived early in the morning, I still have the entire day available to enjoy San Juan! Currently, the weather is perfect - not too hot or humid - so I have decided to spend the rest of the morning and early afternoon sunbathing and swimming at the beach.

bkp5gu5s.jpg ProjAeropI..sMunozMarin.jpg

Three hours have passed since I first got to the beach, and the staff at the hotel have just prepared a beach barbecue for all guests. I think this is my cue to dry up, have lunch, and leave the beach behind for now to visit some of San Juan's other attractions. I plan to visit Old San Juan today, a part of the city which dates back about 500 years, and simply take a leisurely stroll through the colonial neighbourhood. I will be on the lookout for small local cafes where I can sample authentic Puerto Rican desserts, as well as shops selling local handicrafts.


My walk through the historic colonial neighbourhood of Old San Juan has so far, turned out to be an enjoyable experience. I have noticed a few similarities, but also several differences to the old colonial neighbourhood that I visited in Panama City. Therefore, this experience has allowed me to realize the uniqueness of each place as it pertains to the history and culture of its respective inhabitants. I have also stumbled upon a few of those shops I'd hoped to find, and was able to purchase some traditional Puerto Rican souvenirs. At the current moment, I am sitting in a small cafe, drinking a coffee and looking out onto a cobblestone street - just as I had imagined my experience of Old San Juan would be. It is getting late, so I will take a taxi back to my hotel after I finish my coffee and eat a buffet dinner at the hotel tonight. However, I don't think I'll go right to bed after dinner. A peaceful walk along the beach at night, when the water is calm and there is no one in sight, sound like a relaxing way to end off my first day here in San Juan.

Day Two
It is now the morning of my second day in Puerto Rico. Today, I will be travelling back to Old San Juan to visit the San Juan National Historic Site. This site is made up of Castillo San Felipe del Morro and Castillo San Cristobal, two seventeenth century citadels, as well as city walls from the same time period and another citadel, Fort San Juan de la Cruz. I have learned that all of the structures which comprise the Historic Site were built during the time Puerto Rico was under Spanish rule. It is hard to imagine that, 400 years ago, a fierce battle was raging in the very fort in which I currently stand, an the now inoperable cannons I stand beside played a major role in defending it from invaders. All in all, I feel this visit to San Juan's forts has really given me a picture of what life was like in the colonial era for the inhabitants of this beautiful city. Also, the fact that these structures are still standing, despite being involved in many battles is impressive in itself.


Now I can see why the National Historic Site is regarded as San Juan's must-see attraction. However, my second day in Puerto Rico continues. After lunch, I will head back to Condado beach to make the most of the warm temperature, and also try my hand at some extreme water sports, such as wake-boarding, surfing and windsurfing. Should be fun!

The water was great and the waves were perfect, but now I'm ready for dinner. I will be eating tonight at the Oceano restaurant, where I have heard that the food is delicious, but the atmosphere is even better, as the restaurant is located right on the coast and offers diners breathtaking view of the ocean. Dinner will conclude my second day in San Juan.

Day Three
Today is my third day in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Having just finished eating breakfast at my hotel, I am currently on my way to the El Yunque National Forest, about 40 minutes southeast of the city. There, I will be partaking in a rainforest adventure tour, during which, I will zipline through the forest and repel down cliffs and into caverns.


I have just completed my ziplining and repelling experience in the rainforest and I can safely say it is one of the most incredible things I've ever done. The forest looks so different from the air than from the ground, and I was surprised at how deep the caves were. Tonight, after dinner, I will pack up my clothes and souvenirs, and have a quick nap before heading to the airport for my flight to Lisbon, Portugal.

Posted by acrm2015 05:28 Archived in Puerto Rico Comments (0)

Panama City, Panama

Second Destination on My Dream Trip Around the World

sunny 27 °C

My flight from Philip S.W. Goldson International Airport in Belize City to Panama City's Tocumen International Airport lasted in total, about 19 hours, due to two 7 hour layovers - the first in San Salvador, El Salvador and the second in San Jose, Costa Rica (therefore, I actually had three flights). The actual flight time was approximately 4 hours. The flight cost me about $600.00 and covered a distance of 1335.05 kilometres. Since I spent most of the fourth day if my journey travelling between destinations and sitting in airports, all I can think of doing now is heading to my hotel, the Marriott Panama City, and calling it a night.


Day One
Today is the fifth day overall of my voyage around the world and my second day in Panama. However, because the majority of my first day in the narrow Central American country was spent in transit, today is the first day where I will actually be able to explore this beautiful nation and experience its culture and history (that is why I have designated it "Day One" in this entry). In particular, I will be spending most of my time in the Panama's capital and largest city, Panama City, home to nearly 900,000 people. Currently, I'm on my way to the Panama Canal, which is undoubtedly the most famous site in the country. When I arrive, I will board a boat which will go through two sets of locks: the Miraflores Locks and the Pedro Miguel Locks.


My bus has just reached the point where all of us passengers will board the boat that will take us through the canal. Standing before the canal, I can appreciate what an engineering marvel it is. What makes it even more impressive is the fact that it was built in the early twentieth century - a time when the lack of modern technology would have made this feat considerably harder then, than it would be today. I cannot describe how amazing it feels to experience the famous canal from the perspective of a vessel travelling through it. This way, I can truly appreciate all of the intricate mechanisms and the accuracy required to get a boat from one end of the canal to the other, and thus, from the Pacific Ocean to the Caribbean Sea, the two bodies of water linked by the canal. All in all it is a really great sight! Now that my tour has concluded, I will head back to my hotel in Panama City and enjoy the pool and have dinner before heading off to bed.

The Bridge of the Americas (right) is a road bridge that spans the width of the Panama Canal and therefore, connects the North and South American Land masses.

Day Two
Today, I will be visiting Casco Viejo, the city's historic district and a UNESCO world heritage site, only a short taxi ride away from my hotel.

It took longer than I expected due to rush hour traffic but I have finally reached my destination. The seventeenth century architecture sharply contrasts the ultra-modern twenty-first century skyline only kilometers away. Some of the main sights include El Palacio de las Garzas, the residence of the President of Panama and the National Theater of Panama. I've also seen several old, yet beautiful churches and bustling plazas. Walking through the streets of Casco Viejo, I feel as though I am being transported back to the time when the area was fist built and would have the entirety of Panama City. At lunchtime, I found a quaint café, its outdoor patio alive with activity, and quickly stopped in for an authentic Panamanian meal. My stomach full, I am ready to head to Playa Bonita, a local beach, for some fun and relaxation in the sun.


The water was warm, the sand was white and the weather was perfect, but it's almost time for dinner, which means I need to catch a taxi back to my hotel.

Dinner was great and the hotel pool was ideal for swimming lengths. I've done a lot today and I'm feeling tired - time for bed.

Day Three
For my third and final day in Panama City, I will not be travelling too far away from the Marriott Hotel. As my hotel is located in the heart of downtown, just a few steps out the door, and I am greeted with a panoramic view of skyscrapers with the Pacific Ocean as their backdrop. I have passions for photography and and architecture. What better way is there to combine the two than to photograph skyscrapers? It is the most relaxing and fulfilling way I can think of to spend my last day in Panama. Unfortunately, after a few hours of photography, the day is drawing to a close. Following dinner at Madrigal, one of the highest-rated restaurants in the city, I have returned to my hotel room where I have finished packing for tomorrow's trip to San Juan, Puerto Rico. Panama City was a blast!


Posted by acrm2015 05:28 Archived in Panama Comments (0)

Belize City, Belize

First Destination on My Dream Trip Around the World

sunny 32 °C

Day One
After arriving at Toronto Pearson International Airport early this morning, and departing on a 6 1/2 hour flight with a layover in Atlanta, I have finally arrived at Philip S.W. Goldson International Airport in Belize City, Belize. The flight cost $784.00 and covered a distance of approximately 3000 kilometres. Later, I will travel by taxi to my hotel, the Radisson Fort George Hotel, located in the heart of the city's downtown neighbourhood. I plan to remain in the vicinity of the resort today and enjoy the beach and other amenities it has to offer.


Day Two
It is now the morning of my second day in Belize City and after a quick breakfast at the hotel, I am now en route by boat to what is arguably the most famous attraction in Belize, the Great Blue Hole. Located 70 kilometers off the coast of Belize City, the circle-shaped underwater sinkhole is 300 metres in diameter and has a depth of 124 metres. My tour guide, who is also the boat's captain, has informed me that the site to which I am heading is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is actually part of a series of underwater caves. I am told that one of the things that makes the Great Blue Hole so famous, apart from its extraordinary depth in relation to the surrounding ocean, is its reputation as one of the best destinations for scuba diving in the world. Upon my arrival, I will have the experience of scuba diving in and around the hole. I cannot wait!

great-blue-hole-wallpaper.jpg Great-Blu-hole-fish.jpg

It is the evening of my second day in Belize. I have just returned from my scuba diving excursion at the world-famous Great Blue Hole, where, during my dive, I was granted spectacular views of the colourful coral reefs and large variety of fish species that call the area home. I will now enjoy dinner in Celebrity Restaurant, an authentic local restaurant, before returning to my hotel room to get some sleep before another fun-filled day in Belize tomorrow.


Day Three

Today is my final day in Belize. It seems like my time in this natural paradise has just flown by. Following a delicious breakfast at the hotel, I have just departed on a jeep tour that will take me through the dense rainforest that surrounds Belize City. So far, I have seen several species of exotic birds, such as parrots and toucans - birds which can only be found in the rainforest. I also managed to catch a glimpse of a family of sloths sitting high up in the rainforest canopy. Monkeys and lizards are also in abundance in this part of the rainforest. After a quick stop to try some raw sugar cane, and another stop at an ancient cave, hidden deep within the rainforest, the tour is now on its way back to the city. At the conclusion of the tour, I will head to the beach where I will stay for a couple hours, before returning to my hotel to have dinner and get well-rested for my flight to Panama tomorrow.

Posted by acrm2015 05:28 Archived in Belize Comments (0)

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