Thursday, April 26, 2012

Upcoming Summer 2012 Travel Guides: Erica Tyler as Associate Editor

Photo Credit: SmartyGirl Associate Editor Erica Tyler

Erica Tyler is a Northern Californian transplant now residing in Orange County who used to work in research and real estate but is now focusing on writing as a career.  Erica is an avid reader and a slow runner, but she loves to try new things and thinks that we only regret the chances we don’t take.

SmartyGirl Readers, 

Please welcome Associate Editor Erica Tyler. For the next three months she will be overseeing articles in SmartyGirlEntertainment and SmartyGirlTravel. Her service trip to Nicaragua, building homes with Habitat for Humanity, is just one of the many places she has traveled. Disclosure: The Associate Editor has not received payment to endorse any company, brand, blog, travel destination or product.

Editor-in-Chief SmartyGirl Renee

What are 3 places that Erica would revisit? 

 Here's a first blog post from Erica, as our SmartyGirlTravel Guide, as a reply:

Travel can be an escape, a luxury and in many cases a necessity in order to regroup from the rigors of real life.  Yet, most of the time we focus on where we haven’t been, but what if we focus on places we’ve already gone?  If you could revisit three places, which ones would you choose?
Photo Credit: SmartyGirlTravel Erica Tyler Banana Plantation
           The three places I’d like to revisit are: 1) Granada Nicaragua, 2) Negril, Jamaica and 3) New York City-realm of Liz Lemon and Jack Donaghy.   Each of these places are unique yet offer the same ability for escape, albeit in dramatically different ways.   The excitement of New York is a huge contrast to the rather laid back attitudes of Negril and Granada but it is no better or worse in terms of being able to find something fun to do.
Photo Credit: 30 Rock Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin
            Granada is lovely, lively, a bit rustic, and certainly moves along on its own timeframe.  Yet it is a peaceful place, particularly in the mornings when it is still quiet as everyone is sleeping in from the late night which often includes numerous people populating the streets as late as 3 A.M. with music, laughter, sometimes dancing and a copious amount of revelry and alcohol.   Yet, it is not all jovial fun; there are numerous stray dogs roaming around, strangely not in packs but they are quite a sight and take some getting used to.  Also, sit at any of the plentiful outdoor tables and you will be asked numerous times to buy something from street vendors or children who go right up to your table; most of the time they are selling pottery but in one memorable case a man had a cooler of ceviche; you learn to politely, but resolutely say no.
         This aspect of Granada is something you have to confront and accept if you are to stay there and enjoy the city and surrounding areas, because it is absolutely gorgeous and filled with natural beauty.  Mountains, lakes, warm weather and volcanoes to name just a few. 
Photo Credit: SmartyGirlTravel Erica Tyler Bird in Tree
            If you are the adventurous type, then you must take a tour of Masaya Volcano at night; the tour is a harrowing and exhilarating experience that includes a trip into a dark cave where if you are lucky and your camera flash is good enough, you can get a picture of one of the many bats residing within.  There is a local chocolate factory where you can take a class and make your own chocolate bar as well as take a tour of a cocoa and banana plantation.
Photo Credit: SmartyGirlTravel Erica Tyler Granada Chocolate Class
There is a cluster of 350 islands where you can take a tour and see the surrounding homes, birds and other natural wildlife and experience a sense of awe at the beauty and surrounding peacefulness.  Sitting in the boat, smelling the water, hearing the birds that fly gracefully overhead, your first thought will be to quit your job and take claim of one of the island homes-that is until you see the asking prices.
Photo Credit: SmartyGirl Erica Tyler Bird
            Negril, Jamaica has a gorgeous stretch of beach that looks and feels endless; once you arrive all you will want to do is listen to Bob Marley or Jimmy Buffet and relax. Numerous resorts populate the beach, but if you are able to get away from the resort and go to the Margaritaville that is right on the sand, and have a Red Stripe while sitting in a hammock looking out at the ocean, you will find yourself not thinking about anything, but sun, sand and rest.  There are merchants on the beach who will try to get you to buy things, and getting in a cab makes you want to tell the driver to go slower than 90 miles an hour, but it is still worth a visit to experience the beauty of an island that, while it does have issues with safety, can still be a lovely place to visit.
           New York, New York is a mythical place that seemingly should not be able to live up to its reputation, yet it does.  There is truly something to do there just about anytime of the day.  Ride the subway (depending on the time can be quite an adventure), getting a slice of pizza at 3am in a little shop where it’s standing room only, going to a packed club that only gets crazier as the evening progresses.  Going to central park, taking the ferry to Staten Island, visiting the Statue of Liberty, or taking in a show on Broadway-take your pick as this is just a partial list.  It’s impossible to experience everything the city has to offer in one, two or even five trips.
        Each of these three places has issues of safety and in some instances language barriers, but if you are a conscientious traveler and go with an open mind, a hidden wallet, and keep your senses you will have a wonderful experience. 

Best wishes,