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AROUND the WORLD

Alaska!

My visit to Juneau, Alaska was short and sweet, it was the main stop on the cruise my family and I went on. What I most remember from my trip to Alaska was being frozen. My parents had planned for us to go on an ice fishing and a rafting trip. I remember most sitting on a boat for hours, waiting for someone to catch a bite. We ended up waiting even longer because, by the end of the ice fishing trip, we had not gotten a single bite. However, that was not the worst part of the trip. The worst part was me deciding to only wear one jacket on the rafting trip. I guess I had not thought about the fact that we would get sprayed with ice water on the raft. The tour felt like it lasted forever, as it was raining and I was shivering at the front of the boat. I was, of course, the coldest one on the raft, and everybody could tell. By the time the rafting tour was over, I was so cold, that having hot chocolate in my hands hurt. I do have to take into account that it was my fault for wearing one sweatshirt to somewhere that snows and has freezing water. I will say the scenery that we saw on the rafting trip was incredible. My attention drifted a lot, of course, but from what I remember, the mountains and glaciers were beautiful. One of my favorite parts was how it seemed to never get dark there. I would stare out my window when it was past midnight and was amazed at how it was still bright outside. My opinion on Alaska, I would say, isn’t very fair. I spent most of the trip worrying about how cold I was.  I would definitely visit Alsaka again to get a longer and better experience. I enjoyed the surroundings and hope to go again in the future. 

Rating: 7/10


CUBA

Havana, Cuba was a missions trip I attended, mostly for community service, to go build a school for children. Cuba was definitely not what I had expected, and had really opened my eyes to how fortunate we are here. I didn’t go to Cuba as a vacation, we didn’t stay in super nice hotels and lay at the ocean all day long. Most of my days at Cuba were spent sitting on a bus to drive an hour away everyday, to go to the site where we would help build. As sweaty, humid, and exhausting as it was, the people we met, really made the trip 10x better. We met super hard-working men and women, who worked in the heat, with terrible conditions everyday. Women had to go through every grain of rice just to insure there were no glass shards mixed in. Men had to work hours outside moving around bricks, putting up structures, and leveling the floors. There was one specific day in Cuba that resonated with me forever, when we got to meet and take care of the children. The children were over joyed to see us there, and were grateful for the littlest things. We spent the day doing art and crafts and building friendships with the children. I can easily say that the people in Cuba were some of the nicest most thankful people I’ve ever met. Not to mention, the beaches are absolutely stunning, the water is so warm it feels like you’re taking a bath. The sunsets on the beach were another highlight of my trip and the views were unforgettable. Cuba is known as being a place that’s behind in time because of how they still have old cars, and the buildings are run down. Being able to experience something completely different and out of my comfort zone is really something I will carry with me for the rest of my life. Everything is so different in other parts of the world, and seeing some people struggle in Cuba makes us feel so grateful to be able to have the freedom we do.

Rating: 8/10


Sweden!

Stockholm, Sweden was one of the most beautiful and relaxing places I have ever been. I stayed in a very small cabin, deep in the woods with my older sister Jessica. Everywhere you looked, a body of shinny blue water surrounded us in every direction. I am a very picky eater, but there was delicious yogurt, fruit, and grilled cheese that I ate almost everyday lol. During the day, we would jump into the freezing lake and run as fast as we could to the sanahs to get warm. Although, this same daily routine began to get boring, being outside in the warm sun was extremely calming. One of the coolest parts of the trip was that the sun only set for an hour during the whole day. Because of that I was able to stay out by the lake, jumping off of rocks, looking at boats, and hanging in my hammock. Also, I thought it was funny that there were a multitude of cute wild chicken running around all near us. 

After spending multiple days in the woods, my sister decided it was time to take a trip to the main city of Stockholm. We took a 20 minute bus ride into the city. The main city was very crowded and busy. Clearly public transportation was big there because you saw people riding their bikes or taking buses everywhere. The architecture was more modern downtown but old on the outskirts. Personally, I enjoyed seeing the old beauty that came with the city. My sister and I then spent the day walking around the alleyways to shop. The downtown roads were very skinny but the buildings were large and tall because of all the stores. Once we got tired of walking, we sat down at the cutest coffee shop in town. At the time, I did not like coffee all that much but it was definitely a delicious cup of coffee. 

Rating: 6/10

Portugal!

I interviewed Dave, my dad, on his vacation to Portugal, his birthplace. 

Q: Where in Portugal did you visit?

A: I visited the Azores islands, Toursada, which is my birthplace. During the trip, we also crossed the Atlantic to visit other islands in a pontoon boat, which is very dangerous but was also very exciting. 

Q: What did you do while in Toursada?

A: While in Toursada, we had a tour guide who took us around the town, where we were able to experience their food, culture, and how life is for locals. We would often hike to landmarks, and visited a cave that was a national monument, my dad had built stairs inside the cave and had his name on a plaque. We had an amazing experience going to the natural swimming caves that were in the ocean, it was beautiful. 

Q: What did you learn while in Portugal?

A: I spent a week and a half re-learning how to speak Portuguese, my sisters who are more fluent than I am helped me throughout the trip. Now, I am the most fluent I have ever been after that trip. 

Q: What in Portugal surprised you most?

A: One day while we were in town we visited this really popular local bakery. We had gotten to the bakery late, so it was closing, however, the owners let us in to buy a few baked goods. We later found out that the owners of this very popular bakery were our cousins. Of course, we didn’t know this at the time, we only found out by the time we made it home. 

Q: What was your most memorable part of your trip?

A: The most memorable part of my trip was being able to visit my birthplace, and visiting my childhood home, which my dad had built for us. I was able to go to Portugal with the people I love most and had the best time. 

Rating from Dave: 10/10

Maui

My family and I spent our spring break trip in Maui, Hawaii. We didn’t just lay at the beach all day every day, we got to experience some of the most beautiful views I’ve ever seen. While in Maui, our main priority was to go on as many hikes and lookout points as possible. We drove the road to Hana, a famous 64-mile long drive with many twists and turns that surround the borders of Maui. While the road to Hana was an adventure in itself, our destination was a bamboo hike. The hike was gorgeous from beginning to end, being surrounded by bamboo and coming to a rewarding pit stop of a big waterfall. I can truly say the hikes in Maui are the best most scenic hikes I have ever done. 

The ocean in Maui was lukewarm, and the coral reefs were probably my favorite part about this trip. My siblings and I bought goggles and swam out to the coral reefs, there we schools of fish everywhere. The best part was the three giant sea turtles we saw and got to swim next to. This was my first time seeing sea turtles, and being able to swim next to them for around half an hour was the highlight of my trip. 

One of the last festivities we did in Maui, was whale watching. We sat in a pontoon boat for two hours watching whales. We were all a little hesitant as to whether we would actually get to see any whales, but they did not disappoint. We saw around four giant whales and even one baby whale that made the show. The baby whale must have been learning how to swim, he was constantly flapping his tail in and out of the water. My first time seeing whales, at sunset, was an incredible experience. 

I have nothing bad to say about Hawaii, except maybe the humidity, but overall a very beautiful place with lots of activities. 

10/10

I live in the Bay Area, so visits to San Fransico happen quite often. The best part about San Fransico is of course going to see the Golden Gate bridge. There are many different viewpoints to see the bridge, but I’ve found that the best spot at Marin Headlands. This spot gives an up-close view of the bridge and the city and is definitely my favorite place to visit in San Francisco. 

Alcatraz was a high-security prison in San Francisco for some of the world’s worst criminals. To visit Alcatraz you have to take a boat, the prison is in the middle of the water to ensure that none of the prisoners could escape. I visited on a field trip when I was younger, although I have a vague memory of Alcatraz, I remember loving it. If you choose to take the Alcatraz tour, you are given a headset that has a recording of old prisoners’ voices and gives you a tour around the prison and in jail cells. It was a spooky but exciting experience and one of the reasons I consider San Francisco to have a higher rating. 

Unfortunately, I’ve never found much to do in San Francisco because it is such a crowded and busy place. Driving in San Fransico is definitely one of the worst parts of visiting, and finding a parking spot is even worse. There are many cafes and shops to go into, however, most of the cafes you visit are overpriced for the amount they give you. San Francisco also just reminds me of a dirty place, trash everywhere, a lot of homelessness, and buildings very close together.  I could never find myself living there, but do enjoy visiting every once in a while. 

Rating: 5/10

Nevada:

My trip to Reno, Nevada was spent in a huge cabin with some of my friends. We visited in the wintertime when there was a few inches of snow on the ground, my favorite weather. Most of our time in Nevada was spent digging out a huge slope in our backyard. We spent most of our days going out and sledding and snowboarded for a day. I enjoyed having access to a huge backyard, so there was no need to go to a sled park. 

The most exciting part of this trip was going on an ATV ride. We rented three ATV’s a found a path with no snow just about an hour from us. It was my first time ever on an ATV, and it was an experience of a lifetime. We went out on the trail and went back and forth a few times. Near one of my last times, there was dust in my eyes because of the person riding in front of me, so I wasn’t able to see one of the turns. I was going full speed, didn’t see a turn, and ended up crashing my ATV into the side of the hill. Luckily, it only took about half an hour to get the ATV unstuck, and it is definitely a memory I will never forget.

Although most of my trip to Nevada was spent in our cabin or in the middle of nowhere, we went out and walked around the casinos. Walking around in the brisk cold in Nevada, strangely felt the freshest air. The snow-covered mountains in the background were beautiful and the stars at night were even better. 

I definitely recommend visiting Nevada, although I wish I was able to go out and experience the state a little more, the activities and friendships I made on this trip are unforgettable. 

Rating: 8/10

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