Puerto Rico Travel

Brief History of Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico is a great place to travel to,  it’s  history is full of interesting facts; here are a few of them:
The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico (Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico) is an unincorporated territory of the United States, located in the Caribbean.

It consists of the main island Puerto Rico, and three small islands which are the Isla de Mona, Culebra, and Vieques.
History books tell of an Ortoiroid people who were displaced by the Saladoid’s, a culture from the same region that arrived on the island some time around 250 BC.

The Taíno culture developed on the island between the 7th and 11th century. By 1000 AD, it had become the dominant race.
By 1493, when Columbus arrived, the island was populated by an estimated 30,000 to 60,000 Amerindians Tainos, led by the cacique chief Agüeybaná.

The Tainos called the island Boriken, which means “The great land of the valiant and noble Lord”.

Christopher Columbus claimed the island, for the Crown of Castile in Spain.

For four centuries after that the island was transformed into a colony of Spain.

This changed the islands ethnic, cultural and physical landscapes. Some of which is still evident in Old San Juan.

During this era the island’s population grew with Africans, Canarians, and Andalusian settlers from Spain.

Hundreds also arrived in Puerto Rico, Corsica, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy and Scotland.

As the population grew they immigrated to the islands of Vieques and Culebra.

In 1898, following the Spanish–American War, the United States of America appropriated Puerto Rico together with most former Spanish colonies under the terms of the Treaty of Paris.

The Spanish vocabulary of Puerto Rico has words that differentiate them from the Spanish spoken in other Caribbean islands.
It’s similar to the Castilian dialect from Spain, with some Taino words in it.

Mainly in the context of vegetation, natural phenomenas or musical instruments.

They also use some words that are similar to words used in the West African languages, chiefly in the contexts of music dances.

For the last century the culture in Puerto Rico is Americanized which has led to the increment of the use of Spanglish.

Spanglish are english-spanish words. Many of which now grace the pages of dictionaries.

Since the occupation of Spain, the Roman Catholic faith is the dominant religion in the island. Every town has a catholic church in it’s town center, usually close to the Town Hall.

Other christians faith have grown in the island are the Pentecosts, Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Adventist and Mormon’s faith, and a few Jewish Synagogues.

It is now the dominant religion in Puerto Rico. All municipalities in Puerto Rico have at least one Catholic Church, usually located in the center of the town, close to the Town Hall.

The largest and oldest Public University is the public Universidad de Puerto Rico (Puerto Rico University), it has 11 large campuses.

You must have a B average (3.0 GPA) or higher or to get in, and you must maintain it in order to graduate.

The quality of the education it offers has been compared to Princeton, and Harvard.

It has a four (4) schools of Science and Medicine, and three (3) – ABA-approved Law Schools.

Some of the islands most brilliant minds, prominent senators, scientists, and scholars are graduates of the University of Puerto Rico.

The University of Puerto Rico has helped restore the islands faith in public education.

Puerto Rico also is one of the few countries in the world to have 5 Miss Universe title winners.

Must see places in Puerto Rico
El Yunque National Forest, Old San Juan, Castillo San Felipe del Morro, Castillo San Cristobal, La Fortaleza, Museo de Arte de Ponce, Culebra, Vieques, Isla de Mona, Condado Beach, Arecibo Observatory, Cayo Icacos, Cuevas de Camuy.

El Yunque Rain Forest
Hike through El Yunque Rain Forest and discover a true green paradise. La Coca Falls has an impressive natural water fall.

Culebra Island
Flamenco Beach, Zoni Beach and El Polvorín are three of the must see beaches in Culebra especially for those who like to swim, dive or snorkel in a clear water – white – sand beach.

Culebra is a great place to do some beach hopping, snorkeling, kayaking, fishing, and even surfing.

You can also hike and do some interesting like bird watching. There are tons of different birds and parrots. Some are huge.

Most people in Culebra park the car and walk everywhere.

Or you can just go there to get away from the city life, connect with nature and relax.

The Island Vieques
Vieques is an island to simply relax. There are no casinos, no golf courses, no strip malls no major shopping centers, like there are in the main island.

Vieques is a getaway. What is there? A low tide beach, great food, and a relaxing  atmosphere.

There is a bay that glows in the dark, the other is in Lares.

At night the sky lights up over Vieques – since the island is small the street lights do not dominate the space. The stars dominate the space. There are a few more than the city light allows you to see. I would say, a few hundred more.

Arecibo Observatory
The Arecibo Observatory is a radio telescope in the municipality of Arecibo.

The radio telescope terrestrial aeronomy experiments include the Coqui II experiment, supported by NASA. The telescope has military intelligence.

The Arecibo Observatory telescope is said to be the largest on the planet. See the video.

The city of Old San Juan
The first thing that you will notice about old San Juan is that it has been preserved. It houses, buildings, streets and forts that date back several hundred of years.

Old San Juan has the largest harbor in the region, and is the  the capital of Puerto Rico.

Take a boat trip around San Juan then walk thru the city. It’s a wonderful way to start a day.

By the water front, you will see the Condado (Tourist Area), the Fort San Cristobal, it’s the largest fort built by Spain in the New World.

North you will observe, the Capitol Building – it’s made of marble. Similar in shape as the one in Washington, D.C.

Across the bay you will see the Bacardi Distillery in the (islet) Isla de Cabras with its Fort, San Juan De La Cruz. They have daily tours.

In old San Juan you will also see the – Paseo de La Princesa (full of street vendors), the Roots Fountain, The Governors Mansion (San Catalina Castle) and Fort San Felipe Del Morro – which dates back several hundred years.

Camuy River Cave Park
Once you arrive at the Camuy River Cave Park, you will board a trolley to descend about 200 feet (60 m) underground to an million year old cave, where you will walk through Cueva Clara. It has a limestone floor. And a gothic looking ceiling.

The cave is said to have been used by the Taíno Indians.

For such a small island Puerto Rico has a huge history, one of the great things about Puerto Rico is being able to hop on a cruise boat and sail away.

Puerto Rico Cruises
Have a good time in Puerto Rico, whether you get there by plane or cruise ship – you’ll be amazed.

Don’t forget o let me know about your trip.

Buen Viaje!

Belgium Travel

Belgium is the heir of several former Medieval powers, previously named Belgae or Belgica. This is evident as you travel the country. After the collapse of the Carolingian Empire in the 9th century, the territory that is nowadays Belgium, Netherlands, and Luxembourg, was part of Lotharingia.
The “Lower Lotharingia” remained intact in the feudal Empire: this is the origin of the Low Countries, a general term that encompasses present-day Belgium, Netherlands, and Luxembourg.

Belgium became independent from the Netherlands in 1830. In 1948 Belgium became a co-signatory to the Benelux Customs Union along with the Netherlands and Luxembourg. This later became the Benelux Economic Union in 1958 and in 2008 the treaty between the three countries was renewed and revised under the title of the Benelux Union.

Belgium is also a member country of the Schengen Area in which border controls with other Schengen members have been eliminated; while at the same time border controls with non-Schengen countries have been strengthened.
Air France
The Belgium terrain is flat coastal plains in northwest, central rolling hills, wooded hills and valleys of Ardennes Forest in southeast. The temperature is mild in the winter, cool in the summer, with rainy humid seasons.

Electricity is supplied at 220-230V, 50Hz.

Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Denmark, Italy, and Switzerland and those many other countries using 230V, 50Hz but using different plugs, you will need a plug adapter to use the appliances in Belgium.

The United States, Canada, Japan and other countries using 110V, 60Hz will need a voltage converter.

Some laptops, Mobile Phone chargers and other devices can accept either 110V or 230V and only require a simple plug adapter. Check the voltage rating plates on your appliances before connecting them.

Belgium consists of three federal regions, listed from North to South:
Flanders, Wallonia and Brussels.

The northern part of Belgium is a Dutch-speaking region of the country. It includes well known cities like Antwerp, Ghent and Bruges. The Flemish provinces are (from west to east): West-Flanders, East-Flanders, Antwerp, Flemish-Brabant and Limburg.

Wallonia is the French-speaking region of the country (southern) with a few German speaking regions in the east next to the German border. The Walloon provinces are : Hainaut, Walloon Brabant, Namur, and Liège.

Belgium has a very high rate of urbanization and has an astonishing number of cities for such a small territory.

The bilingual capital region of the country is Brussels, countries headquarter.

When travelling by train you will notice that the destinations are listed at stations in the language of the locality.

For example, if travelling from a French-speaking area to Antwerp, it will be listed as ‘Anvers’, from a Flemish-speaking area ‘Antwerpen’.

The exception is Brussels, where destinations are listed in both languages. There is a limited number of international trains, which route Brussels National Airport. They announce the stations in English.

The historic center of Brussels is only about 300 by 400 m long. Antwerp is much bigger, but a ride on a horse-pulled coach gives a better view than the subway.

Some hire cars come equipped with satellite navigation but it’s a good idea to request this when you book your car. It’s probably the most reliable way to get from A to B in Belgium.

This way you will get to see some of the sites of Belgium, as flat as it may be, but architecture in the towns is something to be admired.

Once in Belgium you will be pleasantly surprised at just how clean the towns and villages are. In small towns you can feel that small town community feeling in the people. There are lots of castles in their surroundings, that give their villages that movie type of elegance, that you thought was only possible on the big screen.

If you like to hike, bike or go camping the hills of the Ardennes with their forests is the place for you. Caves, cliffs and green landscapes all around.

Bring your camera for these woods are the home to some deers, boars, and lynxs.

Some cities are beautifully located along the rivers, an wonder place to walk around.

Travel to Belgium and enjoy yourself.

Let me know about your trip……………


Italy Travel

Italy is one of those countries everyone knows and talks about. One of the reason is it’s boot shape structure, the other is it’s history.

Two good reasons to travel there and see all the wonderful sites.

Italian is the official language of Italy; spoken by the vast majority of people.

While each region has its own dialect, Tuscan, the dialect of Tuscany, is the standard dialect for Italian.

French is also spoken in parts of Piedmonte and in Valle d’Aosta, where it has become the second official language of the region.

Slovene is spoken in the Trieste-Gorizia area, and German is widely used in Bolzano Province.

One can say that Italy then has a greater linguistic spectrum than given credit for.

The presence of the Vatican in it’s  region has given Italy (Italien) a strong religious identity world wide.
Roman Catholicism, is affirmed as the state religion under the Lateran Treaty of 1929.

Italy’s highway system is considered, one of the world’s best, in 2002 totaled 479,688 km (298,366 mi).

These expressways route Milan-Como-Varese, Venice-Padua, Naples-Salerno, and Milan-Bologna-Florence-Rome-Naples. All great places to visit.

A major highway runs through the Mont Blanc Tunnel, connecting France and Italy.

The Italian patrimony, based on Roman antecedents is the oldest in Europe over 2,500 years old.

The earliest known inhabitants of Italy were the Ligurians, Sabines, and Umbrians, in the 9th century bc they were largely displaced in central Italy by the Etruscans, a seafaring people, probably from Asia Minor.

Southern Italy and Sicily were conquered shortly after by the Phoenicians and the Greeks.

By 650 bc, Italy was divided  into ethnic areas: the Umbrians in the north, the Ligurians in the northwest.

The Latins and Etruscans in the central regions, and the Greeks and Phoenicians in the south and Sicily.

By 350 bc, after a series of wars with both Greeks and Etruscans, the Latins, with Rome as their capital, gained the ascendancy.

By 272 bc, they managed to unite the entire Italian peninsula.

From its inception, Rome was a republican city-state.

Four famous civil conflicts destroyed the republic:

  • Sulla against Marius and his son (88–82 bc).
  • Julius Caesar against Pompey (49–45 bc).
  • Brutus and Cassius against Mark Antony and Octavian (43 bc), and Mark Antony against Octavian.
  • Octavian, the final victor (31 bc), was accorded the title of Augustus (“exalted”) by the Senate and thereby became the first Roman emperor.

Under imperial rule, Rome undertook a series of conquests that brought Roman law, Roman administration, and Pax Romana (“Roman peace”) to an area extending from the Atlantic to the Rhine, to the British Isles, to the Iberian Peninsula and large parts of North Africa, and to the Middle East as far as the Euphrates.

The word Italia (Italy) appears on a coin dating back to the 1st century BC. Which was minted by the confederation of the Italic peoples who rose up against Rome.

The coin was found in the region of Abruzzo in Corfinio, the ancient Corinium, capital of the confederation with the name of Italica.

The long Roman domination dating from the 3rd century BC to the 5th century AD has left a mark in Italy with its roads, aqueducts, temples, monuments, towns and cities, bridges, and theatres.

Travel to Italy,  and see a past that can still be seen in every part of the country.