Hispanicize Packing Essentials

We are just a few days away from the largest annual event for Latino creators and digital innovation! I put together a quick list of Hispanicize Packing Essentials to make sure you have the best possible experience and enjoy the week in paradise.

 

Essentials

In a smaller bag or in your purse, bring along some things like hand sanitizer, mints, a hair tie, aspirin, band aids and snacks.

Notebook/Agenda

If you prefer writing things out to take notes at sessions, bring along a small notebook and pen to jot down key points. If you want to make friends easily, bring some extra pens.  If you prefer, you can just record sessions on your phone.
Optional: Permanent marker –  for those autographs with your favorite content creators

Business cards

Keep these handy to give when you are busy networking all week.

Tech

Phone, camera, laptop, tablet, vlogging camera, headphones, external flash, stabilizer……
If you’re attending Hispanicize you are probably already great at documenting and sharing so just make sure you bring an extra battery charger so you don’t miss out on all the action! A car charger would be great too in case your ride or rental doesn’t have a USB port.
*Don’t forget to download the Hispanicize app to have the schedule at a glance and get notified on any updates.

Different outfits

The dress code for the conference is “Business Casual” or ” Dress to Impress”. With that in mind, check the weather and plan accordingly. As of this weekend, it looks like the week will be full of sunny days with a high of 84F and a low of 67F.
Pack for different occasions like panels, dinners and the Tecla Awards! Don’t forget the light jacket or blazer in case it gets cold. Make sure you feel confident with your outfit and that it expresses your personal style. This is Miami after all so don’t shy away from bold prints and colors if that’s what you like.
Most importantly, make sure you are comfortable. The days will be long and if you’re not staying at the hotel (which you should!) then make sure to bring an extra pair of comfortable shoes to change. (Nothing getting in the way of you dancing all night!) 
Also, don’t forget your bathing suit, sunglasses and some casual outfits for exploring after the sessions.

Packing

Although Hispanicize is 3 days long, the variety of outfits might make your load a little bigger. Make sure to pack light pieces that don’t take up too much space and roll your clothes to make the most of your luggage. If you really want to save space, pack things in plastic bags or packing cubes to suck the air out and stay organized.
Plan out your days and see what you will be wearing each day to only bring what you need and not overpack. Try to use basic pieces you can wear with different outfits or shoes that are versatile.

  • Don’t forget to leave a little room in your luggage for some extras you might bring home like material from the conference, goodies from booths or souvenirs.

See you at our panel “Will Post for Travel” (Presented by United Airlines) on Wednesday 4/18 at 4:45 pm in the Met Ballroom 2/3.
Feliz Viaje y nos vemos en Miami!

 

5 Insta-Worthy spots in Mexico City

Ciudad de Mexico sign outside of the Mexico City International Airport

Hi Travel Blogueras! I recently returned from a quick trip to Mexico City and wanted to share some of the best places to get those Insta -worthy pictures. It felt a little like a scavenger hunt trying to soak up as much of the sights, food and hospitality of this beautiful city.  My trip was only 3 days long so I wanted to make sure and hit some of the best spots. If you have more time, I would definitely include the Frida Kahlo museum, the Soumaya, Palacio Postal and the Vasconcelos library.

In no particular order here are my top picks:

•Castillo Chapultepec

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That is me genuinely trying to catch my breath after the steep climb it took to get here.

•This military academy turned castle turned Presidential home  turned observatory and now the National Museum of History has been open to the public since September 27, 1944. The exterior was even used for the 1996 film Romeo and Juliet. There is a checkered floor observatory on the second floor that is great for pictures. The inside, staircase and gardens are also very picturesque.

Xochimilco

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A MUST. Especially if you’ve never been before. I will say this is easily a full day trip, the place is about an hour and a half ride by train or car. The actual boat ride can be as long as 6+ hours or as short as an hour. It is so colorful and there are many different types of boats with vendors that approach you so you get a complete experience without even stepping off.

Palacio de Bellas Artes

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This is a cultural center that holds musical productions, theatre and various exhibitions. The Ballet Folkorico de Mexico and the National Symphonic Orchestra are among the most notable groups that regularly perform here. For the best view of the building, you can cross the street to the Sears building and head to the 8th floor to the Cafe Don Porfirio. There is bar seating with a perfect view of Bellas Artes while you enjoy a nice artisanal coffee. Instagram gold.

Zócalo

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The hub for gatherings. It has been a gathering place since the Aztec times and now a common place for national celebrations and protests.This main square hosts the Cathedral, the National Palace, Nacional Monte de Piedad and the Templo Mayor. A grand Mexican flag sits proudly in the middle. For a great view of the Zocalo you can easily eat at one of the restaurants on the west side. If you walk near the area you can find vendors showing you menus of restaurants that boast a view of the plaza. Be warned, that when we went, our wait was roughly 2 hours since they first seat you at a different table until one of the coveted tables became available. Once we got the table after kindly asking the waiters over and over again when our turn would be, we quickly took pictures and pretended to still be eating and quickly left after. Gotta do what you gotta do for that “candid” eating shot.

Angel de Independencia

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Arguably the most well-known landmark of the city. This monument is located on a popular roundabout on one of the main streets in downtown Mexico City, built to commemorate the centennial of Mexico’s War of Independence. For a better view of the whole monument, I suggest walking up farther down the road and pose by either the walkway or by the flower pots in the middle of the street.  On Sundays, the roads are closed along Paseo de la Reforma and you can easily run along the sides of popular landmarks.

Hope you enjoyed this list! Are there any insta-worthy places you’ve found in your travels?Please let me know in the comment section!! Would love to check them out on my next trip to Mexico City!

A Celebration of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort

As a huge fan of Harry Potter, I was so insanely excited to be invited to attend the 2018 Celebration of Harry Potter event at Universal Orlando Resort. I had read great things about this event in the past, but was anxious to see if it lived up to all my expectations and all the hype.

Apart from the annual expo, panels, and demonstrations, guests of the 2018 event were treated to the extra special opportunity to see the premiere of The Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts™ (which will be running on select nights through Labor Day 2018). Check out this amazing video of the lights show, that really is breathtaking! 

Photo credit: 2018 Universal Orlando Resort. All rights reserved.

For fans who are considering attending A Celebration of Harry Potter, I wanted to share a basic recap of the events, as well as my tips for how to have the most magical weekend ever!

#1: Amazing access to Harry Potter film talent: 

I was really impressed by the access provided to the Harry Potter film talent! Even as a regular park guest, you are able to get pretty close to the stage as they host the Q&A sessions – on the main stage in Universal Studios Florida. Depending on which ticket package you purchase, you can even meet the film talent in person, take a photo and get their autograph. Each year, they announce different talent who will attend, so make sure you sign up for their email list to get the latest news! If you want to guarantee that you get a photo opp with these stars, then defintely go for one of the more exclusive packages!   

#2: Extraordinary Expo: 

So much to see and do at the Celebration of Harry Potter Expo! My biggest tip for this element of the weekend, is to plan to arrive early so you can avoid the longer lines at some of the more interactive portions of the expo. We arrived first thing in the morning to be sorted by the amazing Sorting Hat Experience…and later in the morning, we noticed 50+ people waiting in line!

The 2018 Expo featuring the following booths/experiences:

  • Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
  • Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter™
  • Pottermore/Audible
  • Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
  • Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
  • The Harry Potter™ Film Concert Series – CineConcerts
  • Scholastic
  • Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter™
  • MinaLima
  • Harry Potter™: The Exhibition

Make sure you set aside plenty of time during the day, so you can explore each booth! Keep an eye out for freebies that they give away at each booth. This year I snagged an adorable print from the Scholastic booth that I already have mounted on my wall!

#3: Magical Panels & Demonstrations

For those who want to dig a little bit deeper into world of Harry Potter – the panels and demonstrations during the weekend set the muggles apart from the wizards! From learning wand battle skills to studying the graphic design techniques from the films, these panels were the most surprising part of the weekend to me. I went in thinking I was a relatively educated Harry Potter fan, only to learn that I’m only in touch with about 5% of all the magic there is to learn!

Here is a summary of all the panels at the 2018 Celebration of Harry Potter event, which change each year:

  • Dance Like A Beauxbatons And Battle Like A Durmstrang
  • Harry Potter™ Knowledge Challenge
  • Learn Wand Combat Skills with Paul Harris
  • Warner Bros. Studio Tour London: Discover Special E–ects Secrets with John Richardson
  • MinaLima: Graphic Design of Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes
  • Harry PotterTM: The Exhibition The Magic Of Costumes In Harry Potter
  • Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment: Explore Harry Potter™: Hogwarts™ Mystery
  • CineConcerts: Sound & Image: The Magic Behind The Music, And The Journey To Construct A Complete Score Live To Picture

#4: Creative Cosplay: 

After all of the amazing panels and fun demonstrations, I have to admit that my favorite part of the weekend was just taking some time to sit and people watch! The costumes and cosplay were top notch and everyone that I met was so very friendly and happy to pose for photos!

For the best opportunity to get good photos of the cosplay community, I recommend linking up with one of the local groups – who coordinate group photos and meet-ups, so you can capture all the characters together in the same place! This is defintely a part of the weekend that can be enjoyed by ALL!

Make sure you wear comfortable shoes, stay hydrated and bring an extra cell phone battery…so you won’t miss a minute of all the fun! I defintely will be attending next year’s A Celebration of Harry Potter and I hope to see you there! Send me a tweet to @TravelBlogueras on Twitter if you have any specific questions about this event and I’ll be happy to share more details!

Visit Universal Orlando Resort for more information about upcoming events and to purchase tickets! 

Best Trips for Couples: Spain with City Discovery

There’s nothing like finally getting to take the trip that has been on the top of your “To Go” lists for years, am I right? In November, I headed off to Madrid with my husband to explore this country that has always been so intriguing to me! All through high school and college, my favorite courses had always been Spanish and several of my professors where from Spain. I grew up with amazing stories of La Mancha, flamenco dancers, and tasty tapas!

As I was preparing for this trip, I knew I wanted to schedule plenty of time to explore the city of Madrid but also take a few day trips to surrounding areas. I knew I wanted to visit Sevilla and while I was that far South, decided to also head down to the Southern trip of Spain (Cadiz) to see the contrast of that area of the rest of the country.

After some research, I landed on the following itinerary:

Day 1: Arrival in Madrid
Day 2: Explore Madrid & Tapas Tour
Day 3: Train to Sevilla & Rooftop Tour
Day 4: Day Trip to Cadiz/Jerez
Day 5: Sevilla
Day 6: Return to Madrid
Day 7: Day Trip to Toledo
Day 8: Madrid
Day 9: Departure from Madrid

Packed agenda, right? My strategy for using my time efficiently when traveling is making sure you book the right tours who will help you explore the “must-see” areas but then also provide some insight on the area – so you don’t waste any time wandering around trying to decide what to do next. That’s just my preferred style of travel!

With this strategy in mind, I was very happy to partner with City Discovery as they offer the amazing tool of being able to search through an aggregate of tours to know which would be the best fit for your needs and your schedule. There are so many “hidden gems” out of there their website allows you to find these smaller to medium sizes tours – as well as some of the larger companies as well, all from the same website dashboard.

City Discovery is about helping you find that unforgettable experience and bring you the best part of your vacation. Established in 2003 by a team of travel professionals, City Discovery started out as a simple web-based reservations system that allowed travelers to book tours and activities quickly and easily. Over the years, City Discovery has proven to be an invaluable online resource for travelers looking to book attraction tickets and things to do worldwide.

I have to say that it took me maybe 45 minutes to look through the tours, filtered based on those who had openings during my travel dates and were within my price range. From there, City Discovery handles everything else and provides you with an agenda and voucher via email which is then processed directly with the local tour guide/company.

Tours in Madrid that I loved:

If you ask me, a great way to learn about a culture is to eat and drink it! That was why the first tour that I booked was the Spanish Iberian Ham Experience in Madrid with Wine Tasting with MadridTapasTour. It involved a small group tour, lead by a local foodie who takes you to several bars/restaurants for a sampling of local food and wine. As we are eating/drinking away, he explained to us the history behind some of these dishes, the cultural significance and also additional recommendations of places to visit during our stay.

The tour isn’t long, just a few hours, but it was the perfect sampler to get a good taste for the city and also help me navigate the menus for the rest of the trip.

Hop on/Hop Off: While this might seem a little “too touristy” for the experienced traveler, I find that the Hop On/Hop Off bus services as always a great way to get to know any new city. Whenever I travel, I try and book this for my first or second day – as a great way to get your bearings and understand the layout of the city. I recommend that you take the entire loop the first time around, taking notes of areas where you want to return and then on the second loop start making stops. We were also able to book this via City Discovery which was great, as we didn’t have to make our way to any specific “starting point” of the busses, but were able to jump on the stop nearest our hotel using our printed vouchers as tickets.

Great Tour of Sevilla:

During my stay in Sevilla, I wanted to make sure I heard from a local about what its like to live there. Sevilla is very walk-able, so you could really just wander around and absorb it all, but hearing it from a local just adds an extra layer of understanding for me.

In this case, instead of just the standard walking tour, I found the Seville Rooftop Sunset Tour. This tour was packed with great info about the city with the perk of getting to see the city at sunset from rooftops with some of the most amazing views. Sevilla at Sunset? Yes, please! You must book this tour!

Day Trip from Madrid:

If you are looking for a good day trip from Madrid, I believe everyone can agree that Toledo is a must! It was amazing to learn that Toledo actually used to be the capital of Spain – which means that this city is just dripping in history and cultural significance.

We found a Half Day Tour from Madrid via City Discovery, so that we could visit this city, get a little sample and then return to Madrid for dinner. I will say you need to get ready to walk! For obvious reasons, the streets in the core of Toledo are tiny so the tour buses drop you off at the base of the city and its all walking from there.

Day Trip from Sevilla:

I decided I wanted to see a totally different angle of Spain and I found the perfect tour!! The Jerez and Cadiz Wine Tasting and Horse Show Day Trip from Seville. Again, if it wasn’t for the search features of City Discovery, this honestly would not have crossed my mind! This tour took us to a sherry winery and an Andalusian horse show in the city of Jerez before heading down to the coast to visit the vibrant port city of Cadiz. I especially loved this tour since it was of smaller size (only 10 of us in the bus), so it was really intimate and comfortable making the 2 hour trips there and back!

Wow, that makes me tired again just thinking about it! I will say, like any European vacation, wear comfortable shoes and stay hydrated! If you have any questions about these specific tours or my experience with City Discovery, please send me a tweet via @TravelBlogueras and I would be happy to share more details with you!

You can also check out my complete VLOG of my experience, in Spanish, on my YouTube channel!

Thanks again for City Discovery for joining me on this Spanish adventure and until the next time…

My favorite tour in Spain: In and Out Madrid

Being the major metropolitan city that it is and a major tourist destination, you can imagine just the amount of tours to explore the city of Madrid that are available out there. Just looking through the internet at all the options had my head spinning…well, until I came across In and Out Madrid and – given their logo I’m pretty sure you can tell why I clicked immediately on their website to inquire about more information.

Their tour through the city of Madrid was a blast and the highlight of my trip in Spain. Why, you might ask? Let me break it down for you!

The Ride:

I’m not going to say that this VW Bus wasn’t the main reason that I booked this tour. Sure, yes, I also wanted to learn about the city – but why wouldn’t you want to learn about the history of Madrid while cruising around the comforts of this retro van!

The van is the perfect size for 4, but you could probably squeeze in a few more. I loved being able to stretch out and for the winter months, they have blankets to cozy up with.

The Guide:

Andres was a delight! He did a great job of taking us around the city to see the most important sights, but also through some of less touristy neighborhoods so we could see what real life is like in Madrid for a local.

He offered the tour in both English and Spanish and was also kind enough to offer us recommendations of restaurants in and outside of Madrid.

While most of the tour is spent in the car, we did enjoy a few stops along the way, so we could get out, take photos, and stretch our legs.

During our tour, we visited the Templo de Debod, Estadio Santiago Bernabeu and the Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas .My favorite was defintely the Temple, as it offered some amazing views of the city and a great photo opp!

The Perks:

They give you snacks and wine! Did I mention there are snacks? and wine? After our first stop at the Temple, we were welcomed back to the van with a platter of traditional Iberian ham and cheese, as well as a local wine that was so very tasty!

I really can’t even express how content we all were, snacking on the ham and wine, sipping on the wine, as we absorbed the rest of our tour of the city. While this might not seem like must, this was the perfect addition to this tour!

The Fun:

Overall, its just the funnest experience. Between the amazing guide, the stellar ride, and the tasty tapas and wine – its just the full package! I will say, I got some extra joy from the looks of jealousy while the VW bus was parked outside my hotel. All the other tourists were green with envy!!

Also, be ready to get stared at during your tour! At pretty much ever stop light, we had people pointing and staring and taking photos of the bus. We even had a guy in the motorcycle stop us so he could ask for more information about booking it for himself!

Saying all that, I defintely think you should check out the trip options from In and Out Madrid for your next trip to Madrid. Make sure you contact them well in advance, as their VW bus is actually booked for a lot of wedding and promotional events – so you need to make sure you get on their schedule for a tour of Madrid!

This really was the most memorable evening for me during my 10-day trip to Spain and I just know it would be for you as well!