Vieques- Island of Horses

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Location: Vieques, Puerto Rico

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Vieques island is one of those truly magical, untouched gems of the world. As a United States citizen, it still baffles me that you don’t need a passport to travel there. Only eight miles east of the mainland, it is accessible by ferry or small plane. It’s commonly referred to as “Puerto Rico’s little sister.” Unlike its crowded neighbor Culebra (home of Flamingo Beach- the most photographed beach in the world), Vieques is primarily visited by Puerto Ricans and only 9,000 people call the island home. As you might expect, this makes the place quite serene.

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Old San Juan- The Walled City

Location: Old San Juan, San Juan, Puerto Rico

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Old San Juan (Viejo San Juan) makes up only a fraction of the sprawling metropolis- most of it firmly rooted in the 21st century. Founded in 1509, it is the oldest settlement within Puerto Rico and the entire area is a protected National Heritage Site.

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Old San Juan still contains blue cobblestone streets and flat roofed brick and stone buildings (many dating back to the 16th and 17th centuries). My best friend and I stayed for about a week in the most gorgeous artist’s loft right on Calle San Francisco. Although Puerto Rico is a protected territory of the United States, and the majority of people speak English, I was grateful she could speak Spanish because I felt like it helped me to appreciate everything more fully. We were also able to get some incredible recommendations from our host.

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Philadelphia-The Dark Horse

Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Stop. You have to see this!

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When I first learned I was going to take a trip to Philadelphia, I was excited. I would get to see some friends I hadn’t spent time with in ages. The city itself didn’t matter to me–it was mostly about D and R (and Trudy, the cat).

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I even mocked the city a bit by calling it exotic and scenic–words you definitely wouldn’t use to describe a former factory town. But it won me over.

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Moving Truck Camping Part 2- The Blue Ridge Parkway and Boone

Location: Blue Ridge Parkway Overlooks and Boone, North Carolina

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Alas, after our hiking adventures we had to press on towards our new home. Of course, we couldn’t resist picking an exciting route. We chose to travel 99% of the way entirely on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Why, you ask? Because it’s “America’s Favorite Drive,” of course! Well, actually, that and we didn’t want to have to drive more than 45 mph in our moving van, we wanted the road mostly to ourselves, and we wanted to make ample stops- preferably scenic ones.

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Farewell, Columbus

Location: Columbus, Ohio

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V: Guys, I’m going to be honest with you. This post was hard to write.

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Columbus has been my home for the majority of the last 8 years, so I have an intrinsically complicated relationship with it. This city- the capital of the heart-shaped state- is where K and I met and fell in love, where we both graduated from The Ohio State University, and where we have made so many beautiful friends and connections. Personally, I have moved 6 different times within the city’s limits. Now, we plan to leave it for good and move forward to our next adventure. Naturally, we are both happy and sad to go. We are indescribably grateful for all the things we’ve experienced in this place, and all it has done for us. However, we sense it is the time for new places and new opportunities. This post is written as a farewell tribute and also a bit of a travel guide for those who plan to visit or see a little more of the city’s magic.

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Raleigh/Durham- City of Oaks

Location: Raleigh, Durham, Carrboro and Chapel Hill, North Carolina

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We had less than 2 days, but our mission was to see as much of our little corner of North Carolina as we could. Our plan was to visit Chapel Hill (since I would be attending UNC), Carrboro (known fondly as Chapel Hill’s hippie cousin), Raleigh (the State’s growing capital), and Durham (an entrepreneurial hub for young professionals). Too many flights made our experience a little haggard, a little tiring, but we managed to pull out all the stops. These areas are conveniently located within 30 minutes of each other, so we rented a car and got to seeing the sights.

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China 101- The Most Important Meal of the Day

Location: Jian’ou, Fujian Province, China

I can say with much sincerity that one of the things we miss the most about China is the food and the food culture. Especially breakfast, which I think most Chinese people would agree is the most important meal of the day. One of the most common responses I get to photos from our journey is: “That’s what you guys ate for breakfast!?”

In Jian’ou, breakfast is the time the city hummed with life. Everyone would venture out to one of the hundreds of local breakfast shops to start their day off right (and maybe catch up on a little gossip and get a glimpse of the resident foreigners). More people would routinely eat out for breakfast than lunch or dinner combined. And seriously, what do Chinese people eat for breakfast? If you’re coming to China expecting a piece of toast, bacon, oatmeal, pancakes, or some cereal in the morning you’re going to be sorely disappointed.

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