Cuba , can you still go? a definite YES !! It’s legal and safe .

Do You want to travel to Cuba ? .Can you still travel to Cuba sin problema?  Si Si Si !!! last year it was the all the rage , until the rules changed :(. Well I will be going this Year.

 

My dream of visiting Cuba has not changed , but how do you go about doing it ? No more Canada runs, which was my first idea Shhhhhh !!!! . No more Bahamas runs. Considering we have so  little vacation time in the USA , any days lost travelling , is a day not spent on the beach with a Mojito .

Not Knowing what to do , can keep travelers from experiencing a fabulous island and its people . Sure if you have the time and want to do your own thing , by all means go for it.

For me booking a flight out of any USA airport instead of  loosing time, is best.

My friends who visited Cuba  last year , told me ” You Blew it” “Its too late now“. Not true !! . A few things have changed. It’s just that now the new program is called “‘Support for the Cuban people“.

Going on your own.

  1.  book a ticket non stop on jet blue from JFK or United from Newark. the fare is quite inexpensive , Approx 300 usd. Remember to get health insurance .
  2. select “support the Cuban people” as the type of travel.
  3. use Airbnb  or a casa particular to reserve a room.
  4. Eat in private restaurants
  5. If you need a guide Hire them privately
  6. Internet is a challenge but it can be bought  by the hour in some places . you will be disconnected for the most part , so enjoy the good old days.

Some people prefer to use a tour company, more expensive but also trouble free.

Passports and Visas

A valid passport (with a minimum 6 months validity after your return date) is required for entry into Cuba. In addition, you are required to show your passport at all accommodations. A tourist card (visa) is required and might be obtained from the airline with  which you have booked your flights. It is important that you keep your tourist card in a safe place, as it will be necessary to show it upon departure from Cuba.

Currency/ one country, two currencies

how to use the local Cuban currency

The most widely used by foreign visitors is the Cuban Convertible Peso. Its currency code is CUC, which earns it the nickname “kook”.

US citizens should also be aware that the USD also attracts an extra 10% charge to exchange to CUC. This means that USD $100 will only get you about 87 CUC. If you are heading to Cuba with USD notes it may be worth changing them to another currency before arrival – perhaps Canadian Dollars, or Euros. You will lose less doing this than paying the hefty extra 10% fee. Bring cash , from what I hear no ATM’s or Credit cards.

I will bring 100 Usd for every day after payment of hotel  . Hope it’s enough .Will tell you how i managed the two currency issue.

If you have any questions before I go .Please put them in the comments  and I will be sure to do the research for you  and they will be answered upon my return.

If you have been to Cuba and would like to share your experience for other readers , or if you have any advice for me, please comment , it is most welcomed.

So keep an Eye on my next blog on Cuba . and my beautiful photographs .

Essaouira, Morocco. a beautiful coastal city.

DSC_1084A little more than 3.50 hours drive by car from Marrakech is the coastal city of  Essaouira, formerly known as Mogador. Surrounded by seawalls and city walls, designed by a French architect in the 18th century, a harbor with fish market, and a long beach with numerous water sports opportunities. Once a hippie hangout, Jimi Hendrix and Cat Stevens spent some time here. Orson Welles filmed part of his Othello “The Moor of Venice” in town. The city is also a designated UNESCO world heritage site. it’s a hip laid back town.

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Essaouira is also renowned for its kitesurfing and  wind surfing , the powerful trade wind blowing almost constantly onto the protected, almost wave less, bay. Several world-class clubs rent top-notch material on a weekly basis. Located 25 km south of Essaouira The township of Sidi Kaouki is becoming one of the best locations in Morocco for surfing, windsurfing and kitesurfing.There are several businesses which offer gear rental.

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It goes without saying that the seafood is amazing , and you have a big choice of restaurant.Lots of wonderful restaurant.

I know ! those two look totally innocent, but don’t be fooled. They are just waiting for you to head to the docks, where the boats arriving with their catch, are welcomed by a massive amount of their friends. These seagulls, hundreds of them ,just fly like dive bombers for scraps and I don’t have to tell you ” duck for the droppings” . It’s still worth seeing.

 

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Essaouira at night

This is a beautiful resort city, really worth visiting after Marrakech.. The best way to go is with the bus  Supratours   from Marrakech for approximately  130 dirham. The buses are very modern and comfortable and they do make a pit stop for some tea and PP.

 

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If you are a big fan of music , do not miss the Gnaoua Festival this year on the 21st to the 24th of June. The Gnaoua Festival is an eclectic music, arts and culture festival in the Moroccan port city .Deeply rooted in North African styles, sounds and traditions, the festival is a vibrant and immersive experience, filling the city’s streets, squares, docks and performance venues with a fantastic extravaganza of sound and color.

Beyond traditional local rhythms to include contemporary funk, blues, jazz and soul both from Africa and from further afield, transforming Essaouira into a musical, artistic and cultural hub over the course of four days.

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Essaouira is also a center of argan oil production. It has become a tourist attraction due to the tree-climbing goats who are unique to the region, as argan trees are the only type the goats climb. They call them the flying goats.

The carving of Thuya wood  (using the Tetraclinis tree) has been practiced for centuries in Essaouira. This wood is very rare and very fragrant , a bit like cedar. It’s expensive but you can pick up a small PC for a reasonable price. Makes a fabulous fragrant souvenir.

Essaouira has so much to offer , you will have to discover it for yourself. Go ! Go! Go!

 

 

 

INTERNATIONAL DRIVING PERMIT – IDP / INTER-AMERICAN DRIVING PERMIT – IADP

This morning I receive a call concerning driving in other countries with a USA driver’s license.. So I thought I would clarify the process of getting an international driving permit.

Most European countries will accept your USA driver’s licence , but do requires a driving permit. Get a IDP which is an international driving permit. How do you get one  what is the cost and how long does it take ?.

There are  several agencies  providing  issuing IDP. These can be found online.

1-AAA trough an online application the process takes 2 weeks and cost USD 20.00.

It take about 2 weeks to receive, and it some cases can be expedited.  If you have any questions about specific countries ,just  put a comment on the blog and I will answer

How it WorksThe International Driver’s Document will help break the language barrier when traveling.

Our high quality translation booklet translates your valid driver’s license in 9 languages: English, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, Russian, French and German.

Up to 16 languages are accessible with our advanced non- governmental ID card, adding; Thai, Turkish, Korean, Hindi, Greek, Italian and Dutch!

As a complementary feature, you may also save a digital copy of your valid driver’s license in your smartphone!

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Simply download a QR code reader app from your mobile marketplace and our patent pending technology enables you to scan the QR code on the back of your card to access the foreign language translations and digital copy of your driver’s license.

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The magnetic stripe also stores basic information of your driver’s license.The security shield hologram located on the front, prolongs the life of the card and inhibits counterfeiting.

The IDD is useful for Car Insurance and Car Rentals in many countries.

Apply Now

Our application process is fast and simple. Complete the IDD application form and attach a copy of your valid driver’s license, your hand written signature and a color ID photo.

You may apply online, by regular post mail or in person.

Apply now!

Bonne route et Bon Voyage .

Marrakech ,Morocco.

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Marrakech ,one of my favorite cities  in the world. The city that inspired me to photography. A city that welcomed me with open arms. A former imperial city dating back to the Berber empire. It’s the 4 th largest city after Casablanca , Fez and Tangiers.

I was told not to go , specially not alone . Fear is a crazy thing !! it keeps you from living.  I decided to go anyway, as it was on my bucket list . I read all I could , in order to make sure I was safe. The first day I aired on the side of caution , Of Course ….

As my plane few over the Red City , landing in Marrakech . the excitement started to build. After a long flight , I had to navigate  the massive amount of taxis waiting to take me to my resort. Of course not knowing my way around, I  overpaid for the taxi ride, but that’s 0k, since it always happens the first time  😦

Arrived at the Palmeraie golf and  resort . a really beautiful resort . My room absolutely 5 * .  was more like of an apartment.

Unpacked my bags and immediately decided I was going to start my Moroccan experience immediately .  For sure  it was a couscous day, and I was starving .  All I  could find walking distance , was pizza.  . Somehow a New Yorker eating Pizza in Morocco, unheard of.. At Least not on the first day.

Went back to my hotel to ask the concierge wether there was a restaurant nearby, they suggested

EL KARMOUSSA  restaurant, just in the neighborhood.

grabbed a taxi and off I went..My mouth was watering as I arrived , only to find the restaurant closed .

I could not get over the resemblance of my waitress with a good friend of mine in Miami.
The Band and staff could not have been nicer.

I walked in , expecting to be turned away and explained ,  I had just arrived from New York and really needed  a good Moroccan meal. To my surprise they asked me to come in and sit , they  prepared a wonderful meal . WOW!!! This was just unreal…They  brought in two musicians to play ,while I had lunch. The only client, in a closed restaurant. Now  that’s VIP treatment.

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Throughout the day a seemingly endless stream of merchants, tourists, locals, and entertainers arrive with the activity only slightly interrupted by the frequent calls to prayer from the many nearby mosques. While there is a large Muslim population in Morocco there are also many other groups, Berbers being the most numerous, who are split between Muslim and Christian populations.

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Koutoubia Mosque

The name is derived from the Arabic al-Koutoubiyyin for librarian, since it used to be surrounded by sellers of manuscripts. Koutoubia Mosque.

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My morning ritual, the sweetest  fresh squeezed orange juice , I’ve ever had.

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How can you resist such a beautiful face.

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My experience as a solo woman traveler, made walking around the Souk an experience in itself. Needless to say you will be approached by all kinds of seller and  people wanting you to take photos with monkeys and snakes ect.. some people may Yell “Hey La gazelle” at you  and tattoo “artist” may just grab your hand and start  decorating ( just pull you hand away and say no), I just found that there are better places to get a henna tattoo). Of course it can get more annoying than dangerous , so either ignore or politely say no and move on.  I must admit I did take the monkey and snake photos. HaHaHA

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Don’t be afraid to explore, if you get lost just ask for the golden doors. They are close to the exit.

 

Had a really funny experience the first day in the Souk. When I travel I don’t buy souvenirs but I always try to take home a pc of local art.While visiting an art gallery ,  the gallery owners daughter took a liking to me and decided I was the perfect woman to marry her brother Jamal.

So she started asking me questions about my status  and decided that since I was single , she was going to play match maker.I kept insisting that I had no intentions of getting married on my first day in Marrakesh , but she was insisting more than me.So she called her brother Jamal  , cause she figured , once I saw how handsome he was I was going to change my mind.

Jamal arrived and I agreed with her that her brother was handsome ( what else was I going to say LOL)  but I still was not getting married. Then she suggested that she would have her mother come and meet me , and probably seal the deal. Needless to say this was going a bit too far for me.I bought a lovely painting and told her I would be back after I have had time to think this proposal over.  Hahahaha

My almost sister in law  LOL
The man in question Jamal
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No Clue what they are doing . possibly just passing time ,waiting to do henna tattoos.
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The souk is separated into different departments , this is the Morrocan Olive market
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Spices arranged  in pyramids , the scents are overwhelming.

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Water bearer

 

Dancers entertain at night in the Plaza ( this is a boy dressed as a women)

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Nightime  Jeema El Fna

 

Food stands built in the evening just for the night.

 

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Snails anyone ? Delicious !!

There is so  much to see, do and experience in Marrakech.  I could not possibly cover it all, this was one day. a surprise waits at every corner. Marrakech is also inexpensive.

Please follow me for further blogs, on this amazing destination.  If you have question or experiences, good or bad  Please comment.

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Club Med Cancun , Mexico

4.5 Star Hotel SPA

A beautiful Hotel .The ultimate all-inclusive family resort located at the tip of the iconic Riviera Maya. Lined by three white sand beaches alongside the world’s second largest coral reef. I Had the opportunity to stay at this location for a week end.  As you arrive , you are welcomed by a very friendly and helpful staff. The decor is very tropical  and I found the pink color to be quite soothing and welcoming.

 

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The hotel is Spotless  and the rooms very welcoming.  Accommodations were modern and spotless. Staff was so friendly and super helpful.img_5404

Rooms very Clean and spacious. My room had a lovely balcony over the lagoon. If you miss breakfast because you were partying too late the night before , you can sit on the balcony and have your coffee.  Bathroom was very clean and spacious, and just in case you see the toilet missing , it’s in a little room all by itself next to the bathroom.   Don’t bring your blow dryer ,already equipped. The first night I passed out on the bed which was really very comfortable.DSC_5089

They have 3 restaurant on the premises ,Taco Arte Beach Lounge (reservation required for dinner )  The Estancia restaurant (reservations), and  La Hacienda restaurant , which is a buffet style available to all .

My favorite restaurant was the Cafe Arte and I must admit that I got addicted to their  marinated tuna. The food is very good and the staff makes the place , Such genuine friendliness. You need to make a reservation for dinner but can have lunch at your leisure. If you want to see and photograph  the best Sunset in Cancun , go to the bar , have a drink and wait to witness the sunset.,

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Of Course Clubmed would not be Clubmed without the nightly entertainment . The G.O’s are unbelievable. The world class performances do amaze both young and old. The spa  and gym are all very nice.

Premium wine and liquor are also available and as you can see here , the staff wine tasting.

 

You can also book direct from the hotel , excursion to the pyramids, swimming and diving in the cenotes.

Of course lets not forget the beach, that’s why we are there.

THE WATER IS WARMMMM !!

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Security is a very important priority when you travel and the Club does a very good job of having security all day and night. Did not have any  concerns.

Club-med Cancun did not disappoint  and I will surely return..

Morocco, inside the dyers souk of Marrakech.

On a very hot August day, while strolling thru the street of Marrakesh’s souk , I  was attracted by the beautiful color of  yarns hanging to dry.

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I investigated further to find steam coming out of a cave like room made of stone.        The heat was intense and the steam almost blinding at times.

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The colors are vibrant and all created with natural dyes.

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The heat is indescribable , it must be experienced.
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Hung to dry
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This is the work that goes into a rug, 

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Photographs Ingrid kaempfert

 

 

 

Cancun , Yucatan Mexico

 

Woke up Monday morning and called in “Vacation” , by Tuesday morning I had decided  to get the hell out of town, my derriere was hurting from sitting.  and  had no plans.  what to do ??

I  Called Clubmed in Cancun to see if they had any space . Booked a room for the next day and by noon  I was packing my bags to get out of dodge on the 6:55 Am flight to Cancun Mexico.

Flew to Cancun with Interjet Airlines , it was a very enjoyable  flight ,with lots of room between the seats. I had never heard of this airlines before. It’s a  low cost Mexican airlines with new service to Cancun. By the way as a side bar, seniors 65 and up get an automatic  15 % off the airfare.

Clubmed Cancun

When I  arrived I was surprised by the roughness of the sea. Damn !! i thought. I’ m going to need a surfboard, the only problem i cant surf. Apparently the weather had not been so great  until the day of my arrival. Of course LOL .

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The resort itself is quite nice and very big.   A beautiful beach  and several restaurants . The pool area is a bit disappointing.

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It’s Clubmed so expect the usual nightly shows, with the most amazingly talented G.O’s. The trapeze acts are really world class.

The Mexican staff is very friendly and  courteous . I must name one in particular Israel  at the Taco Arte restaurant, a pleasure to watch this gentleman work. Reservations are required for dinner at Taco Arte and The Estancia. The G.O’s very nice and helpful.

The food is delicious  and the bar area probably has the best sunset this side of Cancun.

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Was happy to see the presence of SEA SHEPHERD , a fabulous organization dedicated to the protection of marine life and the world’s oceans. I felt this was a very big plus for me in the appreciation of the resort. 

Ek’Balam  meaning in Maya language  black jaguar 

Ek’ Balam is a Yucatec-Maya archaeological site within the municipality of Temozón, Yucatán, Mexico. It is one of the few Pyramids  today that allow climbing.

EK-Balam  meaning in Maya language  black jaguar

The Acropolis. The biggest building in Ek Balam is the “Acropolis”. With its length of160 m, the width of 70 m and a height of 31 m this pyramid is definitely the biggest pyramid in the northern Yucatan peninsula, due to its volume. The building rises up with 6 levels.

Although Acropolist only has 106 stairs , it’s very steep and surprisingly  difficult. Open every day from 8 am to 5 pm and Admission fee Admission fee is 141 MXN as of February 2017, this does not include the cenote which is an extra 70 MXN. If you are planning on using a Go Pro or a film Camera you will be charge and additional MX 45 for its use.

Try to get there as early as possible to avoid the crowds. Be aware that there is a time difference between Cancun and  and Ek’Balam of  – 1 Hour.

Do wear some sneakers , I noticed while I was there , that some people were climbing with very dangerous shoes, such as high heal or platform sandals. Please don’t . It’s just not safe.

Cenote XCanche

img_5567what is a cenote 

A Cenote is a natural pit, or sinkhole, resulting from the collapse of limestone bedrock that exposes groundwater underneath. The water is a bit fresh about 24 deg C. and life vest are available for those who need it. Its definitly worth trying .

The Yucatan is uninhabitable, no natural resources and the ground does not promote agriculture , except where there are cenotes. If you find  village it’s because there is a Cenote, it’s the only place that can sustain life in the Yucatan. The population mainly makes a living on tourism.

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Meanwhile back at Clubmed  , we were getting ready for the white party

 

 

Chichen Itza and it’s sacred Cenote.

You can no longer climb the mighty El Castillo at Chichén Itzá. One of the 7 wonders of the world.

The cenote in Chichen Itza is not for swimming , it’s a sacred Cenote

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The use of the Sacred Cenote was exclusively ceremonial. Over the years, the murky water has yielded many artifacts including gold, jade, copper, turquoise, obsidian, copal or incense, pottery, rubber, shells and the bones of around 200 people who were thrown in as a sacrifice. According to Bishop Landa, men, women and children were thrown alive into it as a sacrifice to the gods in times of droughts.

Photos from Chichen Itza

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Clubmed Snow party. Ok was not expecting to get covered in soap, after a wash and blow dry.  But hey!! all in good fun. By the way I don’t know the girl kissing me , that was a photo bomb. Love it !!

Saturday was “D” day . Time to get out of town, it’s 20 Deg in New York.

Oh the humanity !! Its 78 deg and sunny , had breakfast , packed my bags including my bathing suit. I’m in my going home mode , the brain had almost adjusted to the thought of freezing my derriere.  After Having my fresh squeezed Papaya juice, a cafe con Leche, and  a nice ficelle  bagette, I took one look at the beach . The thought of 20 Deg hit me all of a sudden and all I could think  was ,  F…  it !!  take advantage to the last minute , so in the water I went , clothes and all.  Did not regret it for one moment .

“Never did the world make a queen of a girl who hides in houses and dreams without traveling.”
― Roman PayneThe Wanderess

If you are wondering why the federal police was on the beach . Well I was wondering the same . No!! It’s not hotel security . So I asked them if they came for the guy on the lounge chair , who had plucked some coral from the ocean . Lol . You never know…

Nope!! “No problema” I was told . Well that’s good to know.

All good things must end. I hate when people say that but …. I guess they must.

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Haiti, not represented at the New York Times travel show . A missed opportunity.

Why ? Stefanie Villdrouin the former Minister of tourism , the hardest working women in Haiti is no longer on the job.

I attended the show this week end and saw how beautifully the islands were represented . Jamaica , curaçao , Bahamas , Grenada just to name a few . I saw how all the foreign organizations came to show the best from their country , to put their best foot forward .

This was an opportunity to show another face of Haiti . Especially after the comments of president trump. Where is the new minister of tourism ? This is a shame !! There is a consulate in New York , where are these peoples ?

Not one representative to show the beautiful regions , the beautiful hotels , the great food and the beautiful people .

 

Yes Haiti has problems , big problems for the majority of the population ,but so does the majority of the islands in the Caribbean .

Just like the other islands , Haiti has a lot to offer in the way of tourism.

Yes !! a missed opportunity indeed .

The funniest ad I’ve ever read , to sell a car

 A post from   Jordan Ancel in his own words.

2008 BMW 335! for Sale        I LOVE THIS CAR !!

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But I have to sell it. My wife and I are having a kid, so we need something more practical (so she says).But what could be more practical than a convertible? Super-easy to load the kid and take him out, AMMIRIGHT??   Plus IT’S ALMOST SUMMER!!

Whatever. I gotta sell it and i’ll probably end up with some bullshit SUV.Like a RAV4. WTF is that thing ,anyway? I’s like someone took a shitty old tin box,put some wheels on it, and called it a family car.And WTF does RAV4 stand for? Royal Asshole Vehicle for 4?

I’ll probably end up with a f…king minivan. I m gonna drive it off the Golden Gate Bridge (while I’m alone of course). Then they can have the life insurance and get a goddamn Bentley. THE IRONY!!

Anyway this car is f..king fast, like Tokyo-Drift-Fast-Twin Turbos!! if you don’t get speeding tickets in this and get your license revocked in less than 60 days,  you’re driving wrong.

It’s a  6-speed manual, and loaded premium package , and loaded with every options.

LOADED!! THIS CAR HAS TITS!!

SERIOUSLY …If you like to drive, this car is the shit. if you want to get laid ,this car is the shit, if you are having a midlife crisis, this car is the shit.if you re married and having a kid, you’re shit-outta-luck.

Get a minivan and we’ll meet up and do some drugs in a parking lot to get over it.

 

 

 

 

Bushwick , Brooklyn Part 2

DSC_3861So much to see so little time. This out of the way neighborhood is attracting a lot of tourist, not only because its an open air Art Gallery ,but because its also a very hip part of Brooklyn. The sights are super, but also there are little restaurant and  shops,that are worth visiting.

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I took so many pictures , I hope I didn’t post twice . Of course I will be going back , since new walls get painted every day.

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Travel,fashion,Graffiti,Dining

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