Exploring the Historical Sites of Puerto Rico

Puerto RicoThe Caribbean island of Puerto Rico has a long and fascinating history. Because it is located right in the middle of the “New World” it has been a target of conquest for many centuries.

Christopher Columbus landed on the island in 1493, on his second voyage of discovery. It was later settled by the Spanish explorer known as Ponce de Leon and was under possession by the Spanish for over 400 years.

At the end of the Spanish American war, the island of Puerto Rico became United States territory due to the Treaty of Paris.

There are many battlements and fortifications throughout Puerto Rico, built to protect the island from its many invaders.

These are very interesting places on the island that reveal fascinating stories about the past. Here are some of the best historical sites:

 Castillo de San Cristobal

This Spanish fort is the largest ever fortification built by the Spanish in the New World. It was constructed in 1783 to protect the city of San Juan from attacks, and it covers approximately 27 acres of land wrapping all around the city of San Juan.

The fortress is perched upon a hill called the Cerro de San Cristobal, named after the Spanish victory ejecting the English and the Dutch interlopers from the island of the same name in the Lesser Antilles.

This fort is truly an amazing historical building to explore, and includes an extensive underground tunnel system, an artillery observation post, and real 200 pound mortar shells.

Fort San Felipe del Morro

Also known as Morro Castle, this is a 16th century citadel that makes a great day trip from any Puerto Rico resort as it is located just within the city of San Juan. 

The fortification, named after King Phillip of Spain, was designed to guard the city of San Juan from enemy attacks from the sea. Over two million people per year visit this historical site, making it one of the major attractions in Puerto Rico.

The castle is considered an official UNESCO World Heritage Site and as a “must-see” while you are in Puerto Rico.

Fortin San Juan de la Cruz

Fortin San Juan de la CruzThis tiny fort is not as large as the other historical sites, but it is just as interesting. It is located on Isla de Cabras, right at the entrance to the San Juan bay.

It was placed here to create a strategic location for crossfire at any invading ships, and its location ensured complete artillery coverage of the area.

Apparently, there used to be a long chain which was stretched from Fortin San Juan de la Cruz to the Fort San Felipe del Morro, which would create a physical barrier and stop ships from coming into the harbor.

The fort was also in an important location for guarding the Bayamon River. The square building was built in the 1600s and although the interior is closed to the public you can walk around the walls.

These are just a few of the fascinating historical sites that you can visit while exploring the beautiful island of Puerto Rico.  

What The Heck Is South by Southwest?

Austin TexasHave you been noticing a number of people on Twitter writing hash tags for #SXSW and wondering what these letters stand for?

SXSW refers to South by Southwest, which is a huge festival which takes place every spring in Austin, Texas.

This conference lasts for ten days, is one of the biggest events of the year in Austin and includes trade shows, music, film and interactive networking opportunities for innovative and creative people from all over the world.

This year’s festival takes place from March 9-18th, 2012.

The festival brings together the worlds of music, film and interactive media in order to facilitate cooperation and innovation in these fields. Basically, it is a chance for artists, musicians, entrepreneurs, techies, filmmakers and celebrities to collaborate together to create something new and exciting.

Musical Performances

The music component of the festival is one of the largest music festivals in the United States, with more than two thousand bands and performers playing live in more than 90 different venues throughout the city.

This year Fiona Apple will be one of the featured performers and there are rumors that Kanye West and Jay-Z will be surprise performers as well.

New Films

Alongside this is also the SXSW Film Festival, where brand new films by emerging directors are showcased.

One of the much anticipated films to be shown at this year’s festival is “21 Jump Street” which is a comedy featuring Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum as cops undercover at a local high school investigating a drug ring.

Engaging Lectures

Another fascinating event on this year’s schedule is a lecture by Frank Abagnale, the real life mastermind that the film “Catch Me If You Can” was based on. His stories about cleverly dodging the FBI are sure to be entertaining and intriguing.

These are just a few of the exciting events which will be happening during this year’s SXSW Festival, so why not head to Texas to join in the fun and get connected with creative people from all over the world?

Spring Break Travel Ideas for Families

Spring break can be a great opportunity to spend quality family time with your little ones and enjoy the sunshine.

There are many great destinations to visit during this week off from school and you and your family can enjoy many great activities and attractions.

If you are planning a spring getaway with your family, here are some great ideas of where to go and what to see:

Moody Gardens Swimming PoolMoody Gardens in Galveston, Texas

This family friendly park has everything that children could wish for in a dream vacation: a water park, discovery museum, aquarium, paddle wheeler, and even a rain forest where two-toed sloths and bats can be found!

The enormous swimming pool proves that everything is bigger in Texas and the spa is a nice place for parents to relax while children are busy with the kid’s club activities.


Barbados is a great destination for older children and teenagers, as there are many thrilling water sports for them to enjoy.

You can take a ride deep beneath the sea with Atlantis Submarines and go scuba diving through a sunken ship at Folkestone Marine Park.

You can also explore a subterranean wonderland at Harrison’s Cave, with stalagmites, stalactites and even underground waterfalls.

Washington, DC

Every American child should visit the nation’s capital at least once in their lives, so why not head to the beautiful city of Washington this spring break to take in some of the excellent cultural attractions there?

Spring break will take place in Washington during the annual Cherry Blossom Festival and during this festival the thousands of cherry trees which were given to Washington by the city of Tokyo, Japan will burst into bright pink blooms.

The festival has many family activities such as live performances, special bike tours and origami workshops, cumulating in the Cherry Blossom Festival Parade which is one of the biggest events of the year in Washington.

These are just a few of the exciting spring break travel experiences that you can enjoy this year with your family.

What will you be doing for Spring Break 2012?

Clever Ways to Save Money on Hotel Rooms

Hotel DubaiDo you love to travel but hate paying full price for a hotel room? If you do a lot of traveling, the costs of staying in hotels can really add up after a while. However, there are some ways that you can get the same hotel room for a lot less money.

You just have to know a few clever money saving tricks.

Ask Friends and Family

If your sister, cousin, poker buddy or anyone else you know works in the hotel industry, ask them nicely if they can get you a sweet deal. Most hotel employees will be able to use “friends and family” discounts which will be much cheaper than the regular rate.

If someone you know works in the hotel industry, buy them a cup of coffee and ask them nicely to get you a good rate. It never hurts to ask!

Use Your Connections

Many hotel chains offer discounts for organizations and affiliations, so if you belong to an organization within your profession it is worth giving this a try. If you are a member of the AAA, you will usually be able to get a 10% discount.

Book at the Right Time

When you book your hotel room can make a huge difference in how much it costs. If you are traveling to a popular resort destination, it will be busy on the weekends and slower on Sunday and Monday and throughout the week.

If you are able to keep your travel dates flexible and visit during the week, you could save anywhere from 15%-40% off your rate. If you are visiting a more business-oriented hotel it will be opposite, the hottest days will be mid-week and the weekends will be cheaper.


Don’t be afraid to phone up the hotel and ask for a cheaper rate. Sometimes all it takes is the simple but firm question, “I was hoping to pay less than that; is that the best price you can offer me?” Most of the time if you are persistent you can negotiate yourself a good discount.

These are just a few ways that you can save money the next time you stay in a hotel on your travels.

I’ve Gotta Get Outta Here! Will it Hurt Your Career to Go Traveling for a While?

Perhaps you dream of renting a tiny cheap apartment in the Marais district of Paris and spending your days strolling along the Seine, sippingParis France Eiffel Tower coffee in quaint cafes, and reading poetry in the Jardin de Luxembourg?

Or maybe you have always wanted to go hiking in Peru, and watch the sunrise over the holy ancient ruins of Macchu Picu?

Do you fancy the idea of living for a season in a small beachside town on Australia’s Gold Coast, learning to surf and staying up to watch the stars? Or perhaps you want to trace the genealogy of your ancestors back to a tiny village in England?

However, whenever you think of taking a month or two or several to pursue one of these experiences, you ultimately freeze up with dread at the thought of quitting your job and having to find another one when you return.

Ultimately, many people will give up their dreams of traveling the earth and discovering its many wonders because they are afraid that taking six months or a year off from work will permanently damage their career prospects.

They fear that if they wander off the career path for too long, their goals will not be achievable when they return. They are terrified that the empty gap of unemployment or unrelated work abroad will stain their resume and banish them from future jobs forever.

The answer is: It won’t.

If you are good at what you do and have a good work ethic, you will always be able to find work in the career field you choose once you return from your worldly adventures. In fact, traveling will actually be an asset to your resume for many reasons!

Why Travelling Looks Great on a Resume

  • Going abroad requires planning, organization, and confidence, and the fact that you have been on an adventure of your own overseas will demonstrate this to a potential employer.
  • Doing something interesting with your travels, such as volunteering, working abroad, or visiting somewhere out of the ordinary, will make you stand out from the other applicants and provide an interesting conversation starter in an interview.
  • Experience interacting with other cultures can be a huge advantage in many jobs, especially when you are dealing with the public.
  • If you go on a working holiday or international internship, you can demonstrate that you have experience working in your field in another country, demonstrating adaptability.

The truth is that if traveling is your true dream and passion, it is absolutely worth it to go for it! You don’t need to worry about your career, because you can always pick up where you left off when you return, with a whole new set of skills and experiences from your travels to draw on that will make you better at what you do. Don’t let your job get in the way of following your dreams!

What about you?  Have you ever taken an extended trip?  How did it impact your career and your life?

Tips for Learning a New Language

Whether you want to go traveling, move abroad, or just impress your sexy foreign neighbor, learning a new language can be a very advantageous skill to have. Learning to speak another language is not only a great way to open up many more opportunities for yourself, it can also be a fun challenge.

However, learning to speak a new language can also be very intimidating and difficult. You will have to start right back at square one when it comes to communication, and it can be very humbling and frustrating to only have the conversation skills of a three year old. Memorizing vocabulary and learning grammar in a new language is not necessarily easy.

If your goal is to learn a new language, here are some helpful tips that will improve your learning experience and make it easier for you to reach your goal:

  • Study the language in small bursts each day. It is better to study for 30 minutes each day than for 3.5 hours in one day. This will make it easier to find time in your schedule to stick to your goal. Also, a 3.5 hour session is not as effective, as you will remember and retain more if you study in shorter and more frequent sessions.
  • Find a learning method that works for you. Everyone has a different learning style, so try many different classes, software, CDs, or other learning tools until you find the one that “clicks” for you.
  • Don’t be shy when speaking. A lot of the time we are hesitant to test out our foreign language because we are afraid we will sound stupid if we use incorrect grammar or forget a word. Don’t let this get in the way of practicing your language! You wouldn’t judge a non-native speaker if they made a mistake, would you? Anyone listening to you will give you the same patience and understanding, so give it a try!
  • Make learning a language fun! The learning process doesn’t have to be all study and no play, as there are many ways you can make language learning entertaining. You can watch foreign films, learn some jokes and songs, or read comics and cartoons in your target language.

Last but not least, don’t give up! The benefits of being able to communicate in another language are so rewarding that they are worth your hard work, so good luck!