Travel by Any Means Necessary

Tag: explore

Puerto Rico Road Trip

After a wonderful day in Old San Juan, we slept in the next morning and returned to Cafe Mallorca for breakfast. After enjoying a Cafe con Leche, we went back to the hotel, packed up, and picked up the car. We had a day of driving ahead of us.

We had booked a coffee tour through Airbnb Experiences. Puerto Rico used to be dotted with coffee plantations, but after the U.S gained control of Puerto Rico, sugarcane became the cash crop on the island instead. There are still a few coffee farms operating around the island that offer tours on select days of the week. This one had tours operating most days of the week and it was located in the middle of the island in the mountains of Adjuntas.

Our rental car was a 2022 Mitsubishi Mirage with low miles but the thing had no suspension. You felt every single bump and in Puerto Rico, there are a lot of bumps. For most of the drive, the car handled it fine, but when we got close to the coffee farm the roads turned to dirt and got steeper and we weren’t sure if our regular mid-size car could handle it. We ended up having to turn around and skip our tour. Once we got back to the land of cell signal, I reached out to Airbnb and they didn’t reply for a week. When they did they were very demanding that I talk to them even though I was back at work and not able to talk during work hours. After going back and forth with them for days and then getting lectured about using Google Maps, not Apple Maps (I never use Apple Maps so that lecture wasn’t necessary) they did refund my money, but it made me question booking experiences through Airbnb again. There is a reason this tour wasn’t on Viator or a more reputable site.

After deciding to bail on our coffee tour, we headed to Ponce, the second biggest city in Puerto Rico and the city hit hardest in 2022 by Hurricane Fiona. Many of the attractions in Ponce haven’t opened back up since hurricane Maria in 2017, but the architecture is just as beautiful as Old San Juan. We found a delicious spot for dinner at Rincon Argentino, an Argentinian restaurant. This is when I realized that if you get away from the tourist areas of San Juan, there is a good chance you will interact with someone who only has limited English. Luckily, my husband has been taking Spanish lessons for a while and he got to practice ordering for us.

After driving dinner and a little drive through town, we headed to our Airbnb in Fajardo. It was dark by the time we got in, but we were able to sit out on the balcony and listen to the waves before bed. Even though we didn’t make it to the coffee farm, we got to explore parts of the island that most people don’t get to see. I would say that while I probably wouldn’t attempt it again, I am glad we tried. Maybe on our next trip to the island, we will find a coffee farm that is a little easier to get to. Be sure to check back next week as I detail our experience at La Ruta de Lechon (AKA The Pork Highway).

Thanks for stopping by! To read more about this trip, check out the Returning to Puerto Rico Trip Report. To read about some of our previous trips, visit my Trips Page. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page and follow me on Instagram! For my list of gadgets to make your travels easier, click here. To see inside my camera bag, check out my updated Gear Page.

6 Ways to Get into the Christmas Spirit in Michigan

Its beginning to look a lot like Christmas around here. Christmas music is on the radio. I’ve already watched a few cheesy Christmas movies. Ribbons and garland decorate the lampposts. All we need now is snow (which it doesn’t look like we will be getting before Christmas). Here are some ways to get in the Christmas spirit around Michigan.

The most obvious place in Michigan I can think to celebrate Christmas is Frankenmuth. A charming downtown full of unique shops, you’re sure to be able to cross everyone off your shopping list here. Dine in one of two restaurants offering family-style chicken dinners. You will find every decoration you never knew you needed at Bronner’s, the world’s largest Christmas Store.

My presents are already wrapped and are waiting for Christmas under the tree.

Drive through the beautifully lit Wayne County Lightfest (top). This is a tradition for my family and even though we go through it every year, it is always so much fun to see the lights! The lights stay up until New Years Eve so there is plenty of time to make your way out to Westland to see them.

Stroll through downtown Rochester and experience The Big Bright Light Show. All the buildings downtown are completely covered in colorful lights throughout the month of December. It is really unlike anything else I’ve seen before and is worth a visit if you haven’t checked it out before.

Get some of your holiday shopping done at Christmas Market. Eastern Market in Detroit has 7 dates this year to shop for Michigan-made gifts for everyone on your list. On the west side of the state, check out Kerstmarkt in Holland. Open select weekends before Christmas, Kerstmarkt is reminiscent of a European Christmas Market.

Village Tree

Explore a mansion traditionally decorated  for the holidays. There are few beautiful houses around the state that are open for tours around the holidays. Meadow Brook Hall in Rochester is open for tours this time of the year. They even stay open later select nights so you can see the estate lit up in holiday lights. The Ford House in Gross Point Shores is open to tour all year, but it is especially beautiful around the holidays. If you plan to visit, be sure to get there are early as tours sell out fast. The Manor House at Concordia University Ann Arbor is open for touring one weekend a year. Its a unique experience featuring a festival of trees and a traditional Christmas Market.

My favorite has to be Holiday Nights at Greenfield Village (right). Walking through the Village at Christmas time is like taking a trip to Christmas past. Sing carols on a horse drawn wagon ride. Watch historic cooking demonstrations. Ride a Model-T down lantern-lit streets. Listen to carolers and musicians playing all types of music. And the night ends with fireworks and a Christmas Carol sing-along. I look forward to it every year now.

This is by no means an exhaustive list. What did I miss? Tell me in the comments! If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram, and Flickr! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page. For information about our new Guided Photography Tours, visit

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