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Portugal

Taking A Chalkboard Around The World
Taking A Chalkboard Around The World
A trip around the world has always been on my bucket list. I still can’t believe that Jeff and I finally did it. We’ve just returned home to our sunny island home of Phuket, Thailand and finally have a moment to look back on our amazing journey around the world.
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Before we started this trip, I knew that we wouldn’t have the space in our luggage for souvenirs as we were going to nearly 30 different countries. Even though we have been told we packed light, I can assure you that our bags were anything but light. This inspired me to think a little outside the box for souvenir ideas.
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My favorite part about traveling is looking back on my photos long after the trip. It is a great way to put you right back to where you were and bring back memories you had long forgotten about. I wanted to do something fun and different with my photos. So I thought, “Why not bring a chalkboard?” I decided to have a photo taken of myself  holding a chalkboard with the name of the country I was in. I wanted a way to visually see each country while having a reminder of myself in that place during that time. Even if I may have been up all night, had not showered in days or was only in a country for a few hours, I wanted to remember all of it.
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Now, 28 images later, I have a fun collection of pictures that for me, sums up our 159 day, 32,281 mile trip around the world!
Taking A Chalkboard Around The World
CANADA:
Even though Canada isn’t too far from my home county, it was still really exciting to go visit! Two days in Vancouver and I was in love! Canada is a great country and Vancouver is a beautiful city!
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Chalkboard around the world
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ENGLAND:
Since we only had two rainy days in London, and as it was my first time to England I knew I wanted the cliché photo with a red phone booth!

 

Chalkboard around the world

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BELGIUM:
Brussels was a beautiful city and I was surprised at how modern of a city it was. We had one of our favorite meals of the entire trip in Brussels, an absolutely amazing beef stew. This photo was taken at the bus station before we boarded to Amsterdam.
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Chalkboard around the world
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ISRAEL:
With so much history in Israel, I had a hard time deciding where would be best to take a photo here. While we were driving with a guide through the desert we went to this cliff where you could see a beautiful monastery in the hillside. I thought that this would be a great reflection of this historical importance of Israel.

 

Chalkboard around the world
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IRELAND:
Green! I knew I wanted this photo to be green, but I struck it rich when we just happened to get some sunshine since it was gloomy and raining during most of our stay. Ireland may have been our first stop, but it was also one of our favorites. Read our “Complete Guide to Ireland” for our best recommendations!
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Chalkboard around the world

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MOROCCO:
Oh Morocco! We were here for just a few hours while stopping during a cruise we took early in the year. I had always imaged Morocco as a colorful place, however Casablanca was not what I imaged. This is at the Hassan II Mosque which is the 7th largest mosque in the world.

 

Chalkboard around the world

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AUSTRIA:
Innsbruck, Austria is a beautiful little ski town nestled in the mountains. We were lucky enough to stay with some wonderful friends here for 2 weeks!
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Chalkboard around the world

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SPAIN:
We were lucky enough to be in Barcelona on my birthday in January! Once again, this was a quick stop during our cruise so I can’t wait to get back to explore more!
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Chalkboard around the world

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CZECH REPUBLIC:
We met some great friends in Prague and had an amazing time exploring this beautiful old city. While Europe has some of the best beer in the world, I’d bet most of it can be found in Prague, and at a cheap price too!
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Chalkboard around the world

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EGYPT:
Egypt just may have been my favorite place on this trip! Not only did I fulfill a childhood dream of visiting the pyramids, but we also got to spend great time with some new friends!
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Chalkboard around the world

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HUNGARY:
Budapest is one of the most enchanting cities in Europe. It is a great city where history meets a modern twist. I would live here in a heartbeat! This was the first time we have used AirBNB and found ourselves in this old apartment complex trying to find which apartment was ours!

 

Chalkboard around the world

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UNITED ARAB EMIRATES:
Even though we spent most of our time in Dubai, we were still able to get out and see the beautiful desert! Jeff and I were both really impressed with Dubai and can’t wait to get back to explore more.

 

Chalkboard around the world

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ESTONIA:
Tallinn, Estonia is a quant little old city and has so much culture and lots to see. We were only here for one night but enjoyed walking around the old town watching the snow fall.
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Chalkboard around the world

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FINLAND:
Finland is also on the top of my favorite places we’ve been to this year! Helsinki is a great design oriented town that is hip and embraces its rich history, although I had to take this photo while up in Lapland exploring the arctic circle and seeing snow fall for the first time in my life!
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Chalkboard around the world
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ITALY:
We went to many places in Italy, but it was in Venice during Carnival that I wanted to take this photo. Carnival was such a unique and beautiful way to explore all that Venice has to offer.
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Chalkboard around the world
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NORTHERN IRELAND:
While in Dublin, we decided why not take the 3 hour drive with some friends up to Northern Ireland to see the Giant’s Causeway and while we got there right after sunset we were able to catch some light for this photo!
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Chalkboard around the world
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GERMANY:
Germany has always been on the top of my list of places to visit in Europe and this year it finally happened! Although we only had 2 days in Berlin, it was great to learn more about Germany’s vast history and how the city has transformed to a modern city with tons of artistic expression.
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Chalkboard around the world
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HOLLAND:
I didn’t know if I should write Holland or The Netherlands but in the end it didn’t matter since we had such a great time in Amsterdam exploring the canals!

 

Chalkboard around the world

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PORTUGAL:
This photo is in Lisbon near the port while it was pouring rain. We had to be quick since the rain just kept washing the chalk off the board, but it made for a fun experience!
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Chalkboard around the world

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TURKEY:
Although Istanbul has so much history and culture, it was this pop of color while walking around that caught my eye. I wanted to show a different side to such an old city.
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Chalkboard around the world

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SWEDEN:
Since we spent an entire night at the airport in Stockholm we though it would be fun to take photos in the nearly abandoned airport at 2 in the morning.

 

Chalkboard around the world

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VATICAN:
The Vatican is such a beautiful place and it was very surreal to see all the paintings and murals in the museum, but it was here that meant the most to me. It really is amazing to stand here and thing about all the people that come here to see the pope.
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Chalkboard around the world

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MALDIVES:
Holy blue ocean! The Maldives are such a beautiful place. There are 1,190 different islands so it is hard to pick just one. We stayed in Maafushi which is a local island, but as you can see we still had a resort like beach to spend our time.
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Chalkboard around the world
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FRANCE:
Paris is a place that every girl longs to go to at least once in her life and I was no exception, I absolutely fell in love with Paris. We had an amazing 5 days here with a good friend who was kind enough to show us around this memorizing city. I can’t wait to get back and eat some more macaroons!

Chalkboard around the world

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SINGAPORE:
While it was not my first time in Singapore, it was great to be back and see how much this city has grown. Singapore is a beautiful city which great people and beautiful architecture.
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Thailand
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THAILAND:
Phuket will always be a second home to me and it is where we began and ended our around the world trip. Living here has really opened my eyes and taking this photo was really important. This photo was taken in a little lagoon in Koh Phi Phi Ley near where the majestic beach from the movie The Beach was filmed. You can see another hidden beach in the background that we could swim to. Taking a long tail boat out to this preserved island and spending the day snorkeling and soaking up the sun is my favorite thing to do in Thailand.
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MEXICO:
Growing up, my family always spent at least once if not twice a year in Mexico. This year I was fortunate enough to get the change to travel to a new place in Baja called Loreto. It is a great little fishing town located right on the Sea of Cortez.
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SRI LANKA:
Sri Lanka is a beautiful island nation located just southeast of India and visiting was a great treat for me. There are many elephants, beautiful landscapes and beaches. If you ever get the chance to visit this beautiful country, take it!
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Bio Photo Marina 150x150 My First Time: Taking a Cruise Marina Dominguez is the co-founder of Latitude 34 Travel Blog as well as a photographer and documentary film maker.

As a maturing women, Marina has dedicated her life to travel and new experiences. After working a 9-5 cubical lifestyle, Marina sold everything she owned, left her job and begun a new life with her boyfriend and travel companion, Jeff Johns. Together they relocated to Phuket, Thailand and founded Latitude 34 in which they seek to share their alternative lifestyle with the world. 

Marina is a Visual Journalism graduate of Brooks Institute of Photography where she studied photography, videography and ultimately caught the travel bug. Through creating several international documentaries, Marina realized there was more to the world than work and wanted something more. 

My First Time: Taking a Cruise

My First Time: Taking a Cruise

 

While growing up ,I always imagined that going on a cruise was a luxury and such an elegant experience reserved for the wealthy. Only the elite could afford to take a cruise and travel that way I thought. I looked up to friends of mine who had experienced this kind of stylish travel. While Jeff and I were planning our crazy 4 month European adventure we had talked a few times about going on a cruise, but I didn’t think we could ever afford it. Jeff was convinced that it could be a great way to explore more of Europe and could potentially save us some money. Jeff also knew how badly I wanted to go on one since I had never done so before.

 

Just a week before I was to meet Jeff in Boston, Jeff called me and said he found an unbelievable cruise deal. It was a 12-day cruise on the Costa Serena. It started in Savona, Italy and went to Barcelona, Cadiz, Casablanca, Tangier, Lisbon, Valencia, Civitavecchia, Rome, and then back to Savona, plus the price was marked down 82%! We knew that for that price we would never be able to go to all these places and feed ourselves for that so we jumped at the opportunity. I was shocked at how affordable it was. I mean to be honest it’s most likely because the cruise industry hasn’t had a very good reputation the past few years and need to reboot their image. The Costa Concordia had sank just a couple years ago and they could use some good publicity. The photos and video of the ship looked impressive to say the least. There was so much you could do just on the ship and with only 3 full days at sea there would be so much to explore at each port. I was ecstatic, finally I would have my first cruise experience and regardless of the negative reputation cruises have gained in the recent past, in my mind it was still the luxurious travel experience I had always imagined.

 

A little backstory may help put this into perspective. Jeff and I are huge Titanic fans and every time we are on a boat, ship or even just swimming in the ocean, we love to quote the movie and comically pretend we are Jack and Rose. Cheesy, I know, but don’t pretend you haven’t done this at least once! Anyway, we were excited to play out these roles on a real ship and even though our cruise was in January in the Mediterranean, where the temperature would be around 55 degrees the whole time, we liked to pretend that ice burgs would be a major threat to our voyage.

 

My First Time: Taking a Cruise
Heading to the port to board the boat!

After traveling through Ireland and England we made our way down to Genoa, Italy where our ship, The Costa Serena, awaited our arrival. As someone who had never been on a cruise a few things stood out to me. With a full ship, approximately 2,500 people, the feeling of disorganization couldn’t be more apparent. We were scheduled to leave the dock at 4:30pm, but didn’t leave until around 6. We waited and waited and when we were finally on board we wanted to purchase the unlimited alcohol package. Since we had saved so much booking the fair and since we would be celebrating my 26th birthday onboard we figured we would just get the package and not have to worry about how much we were spending on drinks. I was surprised to learn that although all your food is included in the booking price, water, sodas and juice were not.

 

When we were looking at the drink packages we were a bit confused. If you purchased the “unlimited” drink packaged you could get most but not all of the alcoholic drinks. You could also get a glass of water but not a bottle of water, for that you would have to purchase a different drink package, yet the water was poured from the same bottle. Under the “unlimited” drink plan you had to pay 2 euro to get a bottle of water. For me this does not make any sense. Later in the cruise I got a pretty bad head cold and not having access to water in my room was an issue for me, but I refused to pay any more for drinks. On top of that we had to purchase the package from a waitress then go wait in a huge line at the Customer Service desk so they could change our Costa Cards to say “extra”. (A Costa Card is a card that is your room key and you assign a credit card to it so that everyone uses this card instead of cash or personal credit cards. They also scan it every time you leave or board the ship)

 

I guess with so many people it makes sense that things would be a bit crazy the first day, but I was a little surprised and how complicated and disorganized it felt. There just seemed to be a lot of miscommunication and confusion, but with a little patience everything worked out and the next day was much smoother.

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My First Time: Taking a Cruise
Standing in the Coliseum in Rome, the last port of call on our cruise.

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First Impressions

The ship itself felt much smaller than I imagined. From the outside it looks massive and I thought it would take us days to explore the ship. Once on board, Jeff and I roamed around and figured out the ship quite quickly. There wasn’t as much on board as I thought there would be. While this ship itself isn’t that old, the decor makes it feel like a cheesy Las Vegas casino. The Greek theme feels very dated and the art tries to have a traditional Greek theme mixed with a “modern” 1980’s style flare that doesn’t quite work. Although the decor doesn’t scream 2014, the ship is impeccably clean and the staff is very polite and perceptive. The next thing I noticed is how much older everyone was. I felt like I was almost too young to be there. Every time I ordered a drink or sit down at a table, everyone, including the staff, looked at me like they’re waiting for my parents to arrive. I understand that a lot of people on these cruises are older, but I think it is odd that I felt I was treated differently although I find this to be true traveling in general.

 

I was impressed with how much activities there were of the ship for everyone. There are many games and actives for kids and teens as well as dancing lessons, Bingo, and theatre shows for the older crowd. There is a sports bar that even played the Super Bowl (which was essential for American passengers such as Jeff).

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My First Time: Taking a Cruise
Jeff and I in our room before we left for dinner on formal night.

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The Rooms

After seeing a room without any windows and a room with a balcony I am pretty impressed with how much space they both had. They were clean, functional and have everything you would need. Of course the rooms with the balconies are much nicer and having natural light is always a plus, the inside staterooms were still nice and a great option if you don’t want to spend the money on the larger room.

Each stateroom is assigned a cabin steward who is there almost 24/7 incase you need anything. They are all very polite and extremely helpful.

 

The Food

There is a buffet that is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and the food is pretty basic. It’s good food but after 12 days it does get a little repetitive and although it is good it is not exceptional. Every night there is a formal dinner, sometimes with a dress theme,  and the food is much better than the buffet which mostly serves a revolving mixture of pizza, pasta and salad. We were seated at a table with all english speakers which was great to meet other people. We shared our dinner table with 2 Egyptians, 2 Mexicans, and a family of 3 from Honduras.

Dinner for us is the highlight of our day on the ship. Everyone shared about their day in the ports and everyone was learning a lot about where everyone is from and we found ourselves the last table to leave because we are all enjoying the great conversations.

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My First Time: Taking a Cruise
Jeff and I standing in the middle of colorful Valencia, Spain

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Overall

Even though this particular cruise was a bit different than I imagined, I had an amazing time and loved our experience. I really think that cruises are a fun way to see the world and look forward to going on another one soon. We met some amazing people and saw parts of the world I would never have done to before. Cruising really is a great way to travel and although my expectations were a bit off on this particular cruise I feel like I learned a lot about what I would enjoy in the future. We met some amazing life long friends and saw so many places we fell in love with.

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Bio_Photo_MarinaMarina Dominguez is the co-founder of Latitude 34 Travel Blog as well as a photographer and documentary film maker.

As a maturing women, Marina has dedicated her life to travel and new experiences. After working a 9-5 cubical lifestyle, Marina sold everything she owned, left her job and begun a new life with her boyfriend and travel companion, Jeff Johns. Together they relocated to Phuket, Thailand and founded Latitude 34 in which they seek to share their alternative lifestyle with the world. 

Marina is a Visual Journalism graduate of Brooks Institute of Photography where she studied photography, videography and ultimately caught the travel bug. Through creating several international documentaries, Marina realized there was more to the world than work and wanted something more. 

Travelling to Porto

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We loved visiting Portugal earlier in the year and are surprised that more travelers don’t make it an absolute point to add a trip to the beautiful country if there are anywhere close by. With so much to see and explore, there is a ton of info you need to know, so read on for all the inspiration and information you’ll need to enjoy a fantastic trip!

Porto is the second largest city in Portugal and attracts visitors from all around the world. In addition to stunning 12th century buildings, Porto also features a modern centre that is simply bursting with entertainment options that people from all walks of life are sure to enjoy.

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Travelling to Porto

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Getting There

The easiest way to reach Porto is by flying to Francisco de Sá Carneiro Airport, which is situated just 11 kilometres to the north of the city. It is also possible to drive to Porto from the city of Lisbon and the journey takes around three hours, while trains arrive in Porto from Lisbon at regular intervals throughout the day. While travelling to Porto is a safe and exciting experience, visitors will want to make sure that they arrange annual travel insurance before they leave home.

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Travelling to Porto

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Top Attractions

Lovers of stunning architecture are sure to be in their element in Porto. There are numerous well preserved churches and cathedrals to explore here, such as Porto Cathedral, the Clergymen Church and Tower, São Francisco Church and Stock Exchange Palace. Wandering through the narrow winding streets of the Ribeira section is also a great way to get a feel for the history and culture of Porto, and this ancient city section boasts a distinctly different character at day and night.

Eating Out

The Barredo Section of Porto boasts plenty of fine dining options that people who want to sample elegant Portuguese cuisine are sure to enjoy. Among the local specialities that are just waiting to be enjoyed is a type of potato and cabbage soup known as caldo verde, a special tripe dish known as tripas à moda do Porto and salt cod served with beans and potatoes. Porto is famous for its port wine, which makes the perfect accompaniment to traditional Portuguese meals.

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Travelling to Porto

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Nightlife

The Barredo Section also boasts a large selection of vibrant bars to choose from where visitors can enjoy sipping a glass or two of wine while they soak up the atmosphere. Taking a walk along the river is an enchanting experience that couples are sure to enjoy, while romantic river cruises are also offered in the evening in this section of the city.

Daytrips

Visitors to Porto who want to learn a little more about how local wine is produced can take a trip across the river to explore one of the many vineyards that can be found on the outskirts of the city. In addition to special guided tours, these vineyards also offer free samples of the wine that they produce. The charming village of Amarante also makes an enchanting daytrip option, while people who are interested in cathedrals will find Portugal’s oldest religious building, which dates back to 1070AD, just a short drive away in Braga.

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Pictures curtesy in part from Flickr and yeowatzup

 

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