UPDATE: RuthiesRoutes.com

Standard

After reading so much about it, I finally did it!!  I am excited to let everyone know that my blog has moved to RuthiesRoutes.com (http://ruthiesroutes.com/)

The new blog theme is fun, inviting and warm to the heart! Stop by and let me know what you think.

Happy Travels ~ Ruthie

7 Things About Florida I Love

Comments 12 Standard

Florida has a lot to offer for those who come and visit the Sunshine State. Much of Florida is located on a peninsula between the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean.  With a total of 663 miles of beaches and tropical weather most of the year, it’s no wonder people come and visit this Caribbean style and tropical destination.

Though our climate and weather is tropical, we still get some cool breeze. Our Summer and Fall Seasons run from May thru October and it’s considered to be hot and long. Winter and Spring is our dry season. During this time, Floridians look forward to turning off their air conditioning in their homes and opening up their windows. From around November thru March/April you can enjoy cooler air and breezes. Hurricane season is from June 1st through November 30th.  There is nothing remarkable about this time of year.  It’ a very stressful time for those living in the state and we have learned to be ready for when one hits. “Because we are surrounded by water and we border the Atlantic Ocean, we also have a low pressure system and hurricanes tend to form in 80 degree temperature waters”.

Our beaches are the most popular destination for visitors, Spring Breakers, and those wanting to plan their Florida destination wedding of their dreams!!! With the majority of the state surrounded by water, you’ll never have a problem finding a beach. Florida has some of the most beautiful beaches in the US. With tropical weather, beautiful sunsets and sandy beaches its no wonder that visitors are wanting to visit the Sunshine State. Clearwater Beach, St. Pete Beach, Miami Beach, Siesta Key, Daytona Beach, Fort De Soto Park Beach, Anna Maria Island, New Smyrna Beach, Melbourne Beach, and Longboat Key are some of the most popular beaches.

St. Pete Beach - St. Pete, FL

St. Pete Beach – St. Pete, FL (Photo Credit: Ruthie via Instagram @Ruthie’s Routes)

Fort De Soto Park Beach - Fort De Soto, FL

Fort De Soto Park Beach – Fort De Soto, FL (Photo Credit: Ruthie via Instagram @Ruthie’s Routes)

Coquina Beach - Bradenton, FL

Coquina Beach – Coquina Beach, FL (Photo Credit: Ruthie via Instagram @Ruthie’s Routes)

Some of the most famous theme parks in Florida are located in Orlando, FL. Disney World, Epcot Center, Magic Kingdom, SeaWorld, Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, Discovery Cove, Disney Hollywood Studios, Disney Animal Kingdom, and LegoLand are among the biggest tour attractions. In the Tampa Bay area, Busch Gardens and Adventure Island are the biggest theme park attractions in the area. With millions of visitors visiting the parks each year it’s no surprise that Florida is growing in the tourism industry. Luckily for me, I have the luxury to visit the parks at least once a year with the convenience of an hour drive, it’s one of my favorite places to visit and getaway!!

SAMSUNG

International Flower Garden – Epcot Center – Orlando, FL (Photo Credit: Ruthie @Ruthie’s Routes)

SAMSUNG

SAMSUNG

Mickey Mouse & Mini at Epcot Center – Orlando, FL (Photo Credit: Ruthie @Ruthie’s Routes)

Florida is home to many types of wildlife including the famous alligator, dolphins, whales, manatees, Florida panther, Eastern Cottontail Rabbit, Wildboar, Leatherback Sea Turtles, Bald Eagle, Osprey and Seagulls to name a few. Here are a few shots of some of the wildlife around St. Pete, FL that I took with my new Canon PowerShot SX500 IS (review to come in a later post).

IMG_0022

Pelican – Photo Credit: Ruthie – Canon PowerShot SX500 IS

IMG_0054

Heron – Photo Credit: Ruthie – Canon PowerShort SX500 IS

IMG_0067

Blue Jay – Photo Credit: Ruthie  – Canon PowerShot SX500 IS

IMG_0008

Osprey – Photo Credit: Ruthie – Canon PowerShot SX500 IS

Tourism in Florida is growing every year. With many outdoor activities, beaches, parks and things to do it’s no wonder that more and more people are moving and visiting the Sunshine State of Florida. Between July and September, 22.9 million visitors came and the numbers keep rising. I’m super excited to be living in a State that is growing in the tourism industry.

Some of the best universities are located in Florida. Here is our top 10 Universities in no particular order. 1. University of Florida located in Gainesville, 2. Florida State University in Tallahassee, 3. University of South Florida in Tampa, 4. University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida 5. International University in Miami, 6. University of Central Florida in Orlando, 7. Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, 8. Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, 9. Emery- Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach and 10. Florida Institute of Technology located in Melbourne, Florida.  So whether you are looking to study nursing, engineering or aeronautics, Florida has the right university for you.

If you are an avid outdoors person and love the beach and water like I do, then you have come to the right place.  With many water sports activities, Florida has something to offer for everyone. Some of the water activities that you can enjoy are paddling, surfing, boating, fishing, snorkeling, jet skiing and diving. There are more water sports to do around Florida, but these are the most popular ones.

Have you visited Florida lately? What did you enjoy the best? Share your thoughts here!!

Happy Travels ~ Ruthie

Video: La Tierra del Olvido – Playing for Change

Comments 4 Standard

No matter what Spanish Culture you are from, the Latin community embraces their country.  Though we all come from different cultures, we willingly find ways to enhance our traditions. Our music is different, but it’s our unique expression of our culture and who we are. I came across this video from the website of a fellow travel blogger and photographer Will Castillo from “I Will Travel Website” and it highlights how “Colombian musicians from all over their country came together to offer a peaceful moment in the nation’s 50-year war”.

When I first saw this video, I felt a sense of joy to hear music and lyrics from another Spanish culture.  The instruments being played are distinctive in sound and the artists came together to express their love for music. It’s the little things in life that truly have a huge impact on our culture.

I hope you enjoy this video as much as I did!  To learn more about Playing for Change and what they’re all about, check out their website at http://www.playingforchange.com/about/. To read and learn more about Will Castillo travel and photography journey, check out his website at http://iwilltravelblog.com/

How does music impact you?  Feel free to share your thoughts.

Happy Travels ~ Ruthie

 

 

 

 

 

 

Island’s End Resort on Pass-A-Grille Beach, FL

Comments 2 Standard

I took a drive yesterday and went to Pass-A-Grille Beach to visit the Island’s End Resort.  The resort sits at the very tip of St. Pete Beach where the Gulf of Mexico and Intercostal waters meet. It’s consider to be Tampa Bay’s best-kept secret and I will share with you why.  When I arrived, there were guests eating breakfast and checking out, so I was not able to take photos of the cottages, but I did take lots of photos of the grounds.

The resort itself has ranked #4 of 7 in St. Pete Beach Bed & Breakfast and Inns.  You are truly surrounded by everything shops, restaurants and best of all the beach! From the resort you can watch dolphins playing, fishing boats and all the sunset and sunrise you ever want to see!!

Islands End Sign

The front of the property

Entrance 1

Walkway to the resort

As soon as you walk through this pathway you are greeted with the tranquility, the sea air and the sound of the seagulls.

Before you enter the walkway to the resort, on the ground you will see another pathway in the form of seashells. Throughout the resort, you will notice the small details that went into the décor of the outside of this resort. It was one of the things that I loved the most about it!!

Shell Pathway

Shell pathway

The resort has a few fountains on property, this was one of them!

Entrance Fountain

Main fountain

Dolphin Fountain

Dolphin fountain

If you’re someone like me who loves the sunsets, then spending time on this hammock would be an ideal treat! It even comes with instructions on how to properly sit on a hammock.

Hammock

Hammock

Hammock Instructions

Instructions on how to sit on a hammock

Little House

Miniature dog house

Aligator

Make believe alligator on the ground

Gazebo 2

View of the gazebo looking in to the resort

Gazebo

View of the Gulf of Mexico from inside the resort

Mexican Waterfountain

Mexican Style Waterfalls

Tree Leaf

Fruit tree

Flamingo

Flamingos

Tree People

I love this little guys. They remind me of the Travelocity Gnome 🙂

View from the back

 View from the resort looking out

View from the property

View of the Gulf of Mexico from the resort

If you’re ever in St. Pete Beach, don’t forget to stay at Island’s End Resort. You won’t regret the hospitality nor the view!! For more information, check out their website at http://www.islandsend.com/

Happy Travels ~ Ruthie

Our Trip to Castillo San Felipe del Morro – San Juan, Puerto Rico

Standard

My husband and I normally celebrate our birthdays with a vacation, so when I asked him where he wanted to celebrate his birthday one year, without hesitation he said Puerto Rico.  I was excited about that, since it had been about 30 years that I had not visited. Though my parents were born and raised in Puerto Rico and I in the US, I was excited because it meant going back to my routes and show him the island.

We had a 7:25am early flight from Tampa to San Juan and we were exhausted, as we had waken up at 3:45am to make sure that we would have enough time to get to the airport and through security.

It was a hot and muggy Thursday afternoon when we arrived and we were exhausted. I went to get us a taxi – “Taxi Por Favor” (means, Taxi please in Spanish), the guy came over and took our luggage and off we went.  When we got to the resort, we paid our taxi guy a $12.00 cab fee fair for one way.  Finally, we were about to explore!

With no timeline, there were so many places and food that I wanted him to experience. On this day, we were heading to the Castillo San Felipe del Morro in Old San Juan. The day was finally here, it was time to explore Puerto Rico. We took a taxi from our resort to the fort and started to walk.

With so much history to see, we couldn’t wait to get inside. The Castillo San Felipe del Morro is a 16th-century citadel located in the heat of Old San Juan. The entrance to the fort was only $3.00 and I have to say that what you see inside is well worth more than that. It has excellent panoramic views of the city, historical setting and informative tours.

005

Entrance to the fort

039

My husband standing next to the San Juan National Historic Site Sign

The fort was named in honor of King Philip II of Spain and with over a million visitors exploring the Castillo, it makes Puerto Rico’s top tourist attraction. Located in the Caribbean on the northwestern-most point of the islet of Old San Juan, this place is a “Must” see if you travel to Puerto Rico.

042

Entrance to the fort

029

Picture of El Morro with ocean view

It was so hot, we both felt like we were going to pass out.  Our clothes were drenched and we were drinking a lot of water like there was no tomorrow.  At one point, I had to stop under a tree and kneel down because I thought I was going to collapse ( see picture below).

038

Taking a break under a tree

045

Breathtaking views

009

Inside the fort

049

Sitting in front of the American Flag, Puerto Rico Flag and the Cross of Burgundy Flag ( http://www.puertoricodaytrips.com/el-morro/)

024

sitting on top of the Cannon Balls made from stones, iron and lead

The fort is part of the San Juan National Historic Site. If you ever decide to visit Puerto Rico, make sure to stop and tour El Castillo San Felipe del Morro, with so much history, you won’t regret it!!

Happy Travels ~ Ruthie

Sandals Beaches Turks and Caicos – An All Inclusive Resort

Standard

Sandals Beaches Turks and Caicos is an All Inclusive Family Resort located in the Caribbean in the country of Jamaica.  From Providenciales International Airport to the resort its a 15 minute drive.

From the largest waterpark in the Caribbean, to the Sesame Street Characters, to magnificent villages that offers the ambiance of Italy, France, and Old Key West Charm to a sizzling teen disco called Liquid, it’s no secret that Sandals Beaches has everything a family could ever want in a vacation.

DSC01426

          Picture of Abby Cadabby and I

DSC01437

Sesame Street Lounge

I felt like I kid when I entered the lounge, it made me realize how precious kids are. You’ll see everyone from the Sesame Street Characters including Glover, Oscar the Grouch, Big Bird, Elmo, Cookie Monster, The Count and Abby Cadabby.

DSC01471

Restaurants painted in light colors

The resort offers 19 international restaurants and 12 bars. Some of the restaurants include Italian, Japanese Cuisine, Seafood, Tex-Mex, Sushi Bar, Café de Paris to name a few.

Pirates Island Waterpark (pictures below) offers Lazy River, Surf Simulator, Waterslides, Separate Splash Deck, Water Cannons, friendly pools and more.

DSC01518

Waterpark

DSC01481

Pirates Island Waterpark

DSC01494

Lazy River

DSC01432

Club Liquid

My favorite part of the night was when I went to Club Liquid. Its considered to be one of the hottest teen clubs in the Caribbean. What I loved about this club were the blue glowing lighting and their shimmer and bubble screens.  It a great place for tweens and teens under 21 to hang out and have a great time. Boy did I dance my butt off that night 🙂

There is so much to see and do at Sandals Turks and Caicos!  This is a resort that I highly recommend for those traveling with families!!

Happy Travels ~ Ruthie

Barcelo Bavaro Resort in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

Comments 4 Standard

When my husband and I were planning our vacation in August 2011, we knew  we wanted a Caribbean vacation and stay at an all inclusive resort. We also knew that we were going to be traveling during hurricane season, but we were taking our chances. After researching Caribbean locations, flights and accommodations we had decided that we were going to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.

Dominican_Map[1]

Picture via Google

Flights were booked, Tampa to Miami, Miami to Punta Cana International Airport. We had decided to stay at the All Inclusive Barceló Bavaro Resort considered to be one of the top 10 beaches in the world and couldn’t wait to get there!!! The day came and guess what?? Yup, Hurricane Irene was on the loose…BUT that wasn’t going to stop us. Tampa had already received a lot of rain so we knew that our flights down to Miami and Punta Cana were going to be a little rough. The flight down to Miami was a little rough, but bearable. The flight from Miami to the Dominican Republic was AWEFUL with a lot of turbulence, which I HATE, because I tend to get a little sick on airplanes.

DSC01166

The view from inside the plane – Punta Cana International Airport

When we arrived, it was hot, muggy and a little over casted, as Hurricane Irene had just passed through. We were finally on vacation!! Upon arrival at the airport, every tourist must buy a tourist card ($10.00US) before entering customs. Once you leave the country, the money is refunded at the time of your departure. You can read more about here: http://www.tripadvisor.com/Travel-g147293-s301/Punta-Cana:Dominican-Republic:Arriving.And.Departing.html

DSC01169

Inside the airport

DSC01171

The entrance to the resort

The drive from the airport to the resort is about 25 minutes. Some of the things that we saw on our way to the resort were sad images of how living is in the area. At one point, my eyes got watery just to see those images, it made me realize how lucky we are to have a blessed life.

When we arrived at the resort we were greeted with a delicious Strawberry drink and a personalized welcome from the staff. We couldn’t wait to unpack and head down to the beach!

DSC01195

Waiting area of the resort

The resort offers golf, kayaking, windsurfing and much more. It’s truly an All-Inclusive Resort!!!

DSC01213

View of the checking in area of the resort

We were so excited to enter our room, get settled in and head out to the beach! The rooms and resort has a contemporary look to it.  The colors scheme of the rooms were green, oranges and dark brown.

DSC01173

Our room

The rooms are equipped with Wi-Fi connections, coffee maker and minibar, air conditioning, a ceiling fan, Iron and ironing board and much much more!!

DSC01174

I loved our bathroom – “A double sink”

DSC01188

The décor inside the resort

DSC01187

Spanish Décor

The resort has 11 Specialty Restaurants, 7 of  which require reservations and formal dress code.  It offers Japanese, traditional Mexican, fish dishes, Spanish, Italian, Dominican cuisine as well as all you can eat buffets.

DSC01198

Grouper with steam veggies and lime

DSC01199

Lobster Tail dinner

DSC01216

Tiki hut bar and pool

DSC01205

Where we spend all of our time

I have to say that traveling to the Dominican Republic was one of the best trips and vacations that we’ve ever had.  Everyone on the island was so nice and welcoming. It was one of those vacations where we were able to relax and do nothing but spend time at the beach and mingling with the locals.

I hope you have enjoyed this post!

Happy Travels ~ Ruthie