A Guide to the Big City

 
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I have to say that New York City is and always will be the best city in the world. With that comes smelly, hot summers and crowded streets but has an abundance of cultural diversity, the coolest jobs, excessive art and the best food. The good and bad make this city perfectly imperfect. A love-hate relationship for some, including me at times. 

New York City is full of things to do and see, which can leave us with the question of “what to do?” If you’re planning a trip to the city or simply a local in need of some recommendations, no need to feel overwhelmed anymore. Simply take a deep breathe, relax, and read up on some of my suggested places and things to do in the city.

Places to Eat. A big city screams food. I will say, I enjoy eating at home most of the time but going out to eat is also fun. If you’re craving Italian, go to UVA (Upper East Side), it’s literally the best. For a nice brunch, I recommend going to Carroll Place (West Village) or Balthazar (SoHo).  For the best arepas in the city, go to Arepa Factory (East Village), it’s a little pricey but the food is incredible and simply authentic. I also love City Vineyard, great food and drinks, has a great view of the Hudson River and a perfect place for a summer hangout. Lastly, you cant miss Westlight (Williamsburg); given that it’s in Brooklyn, it has spectacular views of the city and the venue is beautiful.

Drinks & Night Life. As if the gastronomic list wasn’t enough. Come on. It’s New York. Not only the food capital of the world but also the “city that never sleeps,” right? Though I like to spend my time doing things that add value to  my life which usually doesn’t involve going out all the time, every now and then, I do like to have a night. When it comes to going out, I recommend going to Mr. Purple, Fat Cat, Gold Bar, Pianos, and Hotel Chantelle just to name a few. For a chill night, Little Branch, Mothers Ruin, and Dear Irving are good options.

Brooklyn Bridge & DUMBO. You can’t go to New York and not see the Brooklyn Bridge. While there, take advantage of the fact that you’ll be close to DUMBO, once-industrial neighborhood turned popular, artsy hot spot. 

Central Park. If it’s not a rainy day, take time and go to Central Park. It’s truly magical and beautiful. And just an FYI, the crowds tend to decrease in size as you go more north of the park. It’s also a great place to get your exercise in and go for a run.   

SoHo. Great bars, restaurants, and retail. Basically sums up SoHo in a nutshell. Looking to shop, then go to the SoHo area. It’s full of high end boutiques and your typical American retail stores as well. Not to mention, the architecture is stunning.  

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Yes, gossip girl, yes. Not really. But really. The MET is the largest art museum in the United States and one of the largest in the world, presenting over 5,000 years of art spanning all cultures and time periods. It’s located on the eastern edge of Central Park in the Upper East Side. The area is a beauty and if you’re a New York resident, the amount you pay is up to you. A definite plus.

The High Line. Located in Chelsea and relatively new, the High line is an elevated freight rail line that was transformed into a public park. It has spectacular views, architecture and art. Only thing to keep in mind is that on warm, sunny days, specifically on Saturdays, it gets insanely crowded. Just like the Chelsea Market. 

Coney Island. You’ve probably heard a lot of disappointing comments relating to Coney Island. It’s dirty? Gross? I have to disagree here. It’s such a fun beach to visit in the summer time. Maybe not a place I would go to every weekend but definitely a sight one should see.

New York Public Library. Consisted of four major research libraries and 88 branch libraries located in the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island. However, if you plan to visit, go to the main campus, located in Midtown.

Riverside Park. Yes, Central Park wasn’t enough. Located in the Upper West Side, Riverside Park is one of my favorites. Less crowded for sure.

New York is a city that has it all. The list continues but these are just some of my favorites. Let my list be your guide as you’re exploring this remarkable place.  

I Moved to New York City!

 
Photographer: Chang Moon

Photographer: Chang Moon

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Let’s be honest, moving is the worst. Leaving your friends and family behind is stressful. Any type of change can be difficult, but necessary.  Oftentimes the opportunities to grow and prosper come with change.

This might sound foolish, but after watching 13 going on 30 at age 12, I told myself I would someday become my version of Jenna Rink. I wanted to live in New York City and pursue my dreams of working in the editorial business. I’ve always had a passion for content creation, research, and editing, so I figured that would be me. After graduation in December, an opportunity came along to do so, and I went for it. Do I regret it? Not at all.

Living in the city is great. You don’t have to worry about having a vehicle and can take public transportation anywhere and in most instances, you can walk. Everything you could possibly need is within close proximity – which is nice.

I will say, New York can be a lonely place. It’s up to you to put yourself out there and meet people. Big cities in general can be lonely. Everyone is running and doing their own thing. Still, in my eyes, I think the opportunity of living in NYC and experiencing the work environment is unattainable anywhere else. It’s the center of he world. The capital for fashion, finance, media, and the list continues.

This leads me to my next thought. It’s important to take chances to achieve greatness. When we’re crossed with a decision that requires a lot of thought, we often focus on the things that could go wrong depending on the decision we decide to make.  By choosing to learn, you can transform your failure into an opportunity to reflect and grow. You can also alleviate that spark from within, and confidently say “I tried.” Cliché in my opinion, but it’s better to say you tried.

What’s next for me? Will I stay in NYC? Who knows but as of now I’m loving every second of it. Though I always thought I would be working in the fashion industry, I find myself doing PR work for the healthcare industry and all I can say is that I love it. I’m learning a lot and feel blessed to be surrounded by a talented group of individuals who inspire me to learn and grow even further. If you put effort in whatever you do, you’ll be successful – regardless of what that may be.  

I’m thankful for my experiences so far and I’m excited for what’s next.  

The Fashion Capital – Milan, Italy

After visiting nine different cities in Italy, Milan is by far my favorite city. Though you might have heard it's not one of Italy's top destination due to its unfriendly locals and polluted streets, it all comes down to a matter of preference. During my stay, I had an amazing experience and would go again any day.

A city full of glamour and history. Home to Gucci, Valentino, Prada, Versace, and many more high-end respectable brands. Via Monte Napoleone, one of the most luxurious streets in Milan and the rest of Italy, is a must. I couldn’t afford to buy a single thing so window shopping was the way to go. The beautiful courtyards, facades, historic tram, and distinct atmosphere all make this city unique. Anyways...

I love Milano and here is why:

1.     Tasting the local dishes. Milano cuisine is amaze. 

2.     Gelato in every corner but then again that's all of Italy. 

3.     It’s history and mystery.

4.     Beautifully designed buildings.

5.     Location.

6.     It's Fashion.  

7.     The balance between nature & urban city life.

8.     It's Live Culture.

9.     Diversity.

milan, italy
Duomo Di Milano valerie

Duomo Di Milano

 
Duomo Di Milano
 

A Day In Venice

Coming back to Italy and seeing Venice for the first time was remarkable. A city built on water. Literally no cars whatsoever. This floating city consists of 117 small islands, all separated by canals. How does one get around? By boat and bridges. We decided to stay on the mainland and take a bus to the city center – it’s way cheaper. However, if you plan on staying in one of the islands, then book your room with time due to high demand and prices. During your stay, you’ll have to take boats to get around, unless you want to walk everywhere using the connecting bridges. I like to think of the water boats as their “subway” system. If you go to Italy, Venice is a must. The Rialto Bridge, St Mark’s Basilica, Murano & Burano Island, and Piazza San Marco are all great sights. I personally think Venice is one of the most beautiful cities I’ve been to due to its unusual design and artistic heritage. 

 
valerie cardenas in venice
valerie cardenas in venice italy
 
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DAD ❤️

DAD ❤️

venice italy

#Pray for Venezuela

Political chaos, dozens killed each day, hyperinflation, poverty, and shortages– this is Venezuela’s current situation. The country has faced endless amounts of protests over the past decade, and more specifically, within the last year. A nation rich in natural resources and home to one of the world’s largest crude oil reserves, surpassing Saudi Arabia. Yet, many have lost hope for a brighter future. Starvation and high levels of scarcity have forced hundreds of Venezuelans to flee the country each day.

So, what exactly is going on? This began when former president Hugo Chavez was elected in 1999. He promised an end to the party system of government, poverty, and a socialist revolution. He engraved equality for all and became a legacy to many. However, the crisis escalated during the time of his death in 2013. President Nicolas Maduro, a former bus driver, was then appointed president. Maduro soon faced protests from all around the country. Even though the economy wasn’t at its best, it began declining even more. Consumer prices are soaring and its inflation rate is expected to jump 2,349.3% in 2018 (Bloomberg, 2018).

A country full of educated citizens that are now being forced to emigrate and pick up minimum waged jobs. Children are dying due to malnutrition. People are dying. Medicine shortages have also become severe in Venezuela.

I have faith the political situation in the country will improve. Being half Venezuelan and knowing I have family living there breaks my heart. Spread the word; share articles, videos, etc., and don’t apologize for speaking in behalf for those who can’t. 

 
Cata, Aragua, Venezuela - taken by me during my visit in 2011

Cata, Aragua, Venezuela - taken by me during my visit in 2011

El Avila National Park, Caracas

El Avila National Park, Caracas

 

Why I Love Argentina & Why You Should Visit

After traveling to multiple cities in Europe and some in Latin America, Buenos Aires, in the heart of Argentina, will always be one of my favorite cities. I love everything about it. Even though it was a collection of a young summer love experience combined with the location; it will forever be one of my top recommendations.

Buenos Aires. The city that looks, feels and tastes European. A mix of Italy, Spain, and France all in one. I adore the people, atmosphere and most of all - the food. A large country, that extends more than 2,295 miles from North to South, make it an ideal location for those wanting to experience it all. Ice, snow, sunshine? You got it.

Here is why I love Argentina & why you should too:

1.      The Food

If you’re a vegetarian then maybe this isn't the place for you. Unless you're willing to skip out on the meat. Nonetheless, going to Argentina and not trying their famous asado might be somewhat disappointing. The asado is the most popular social gathering in Argentina and the taste is unreal. If you happen to visit, make sure to try it homemade rather than at a restaurant. It always tastes better when it's homemade.

2.      The People

The people are great. Enough said.

3.      Dog Feces

Hmm.. let’s just say this is one of their faults. Be careful when walking down the streets of Buenos Aires, because there is literally dog shit everywhere. It’s worse than New York.

4.      Their coffee

Argentina has great coffee. Quality choices basically available in every corner.

5.      The City

Palermo: young and hip vibe consisted of artisanal coffee shops & bars.

Recoleta: my favorite area in all Buenos Aires. An upscale location with countless history.

Puerto Madero: a contemporary location comprised of businesses, shops & upscale restaurants.

La Boca: beautiful colored houses everywhere and home to the Boca Juniors soccer team (aka my boyfriend’s favorite).

Wondering where you should go next? Think about Argentina…   

 
Recoleta, Buenos Aires

Recoleta, Buenos Aires

Iguazu Falls Argentina

Iguazu Falls Argentina

 
 
Iguazu Falls argentina
 

Not sure when you should visit? I personally think December and January are the best times, simply because of the fantastic weather! Ironic right? If you’re from the US, you’re probably curious as to why? Remember, they’re in the southern hemisphere, and their summers take place during our winters. Complete opposites. Can’t make it then? No worries, a trip to Argentina is a great idea at any time of the year. Check out the below graphic from my friends at BookMundi to learn more about Argentina’s weather and the best times to visit.

 

Best Time to visit Argentina Bookmundi

 
 
La Recoleta Cemetery

La Recoleta Cemetery

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D.C. You are Beautiful

I would say Beautiful has a lot of definitions. Maybe that's why they say beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Before visiting DC, I wasn't expecting much; maybe just a few monuments, the white house, and museums. Nonetheless, I was wrong. It's so beautiful in so many ways and yes the monuments are a great sight. Washington D.C. is full of green parks, boutiques, open door restaurants, and wide tree-lined streets which give it that European vibe. It's spacious, cute, and you definitely don't feel that congestion you feel in New York. Not to mention, D.C.'s Metro is the number one system in the nation; you can pretty much get anywhere in D.C. using the subway. Just remember, you don’t have to be a politics nerd to enjoy the city. 

- Happy Tuesday.