Cette ville unique au croisement de mes expériences, origines et passions…

Definitely américaine, plutôt française et tantôt créole. A la fois tout ça.

Vous avez certainement reconnu cet endroit, si particulier…

D’abord, elle, qui s’impose dans un décor dépaysant, la cathédrale Saint-Louis… puis ce drapeau planté là comme pour rappeler où l’on est, si vous vous étiez “égaré”, si toutefois vous étiez confus, car on peut l’être, il y a cette “petite” touche d’ailleurs… des calèches qui défilent le long de Decatur Street, et derrière nous, le Moonwalk, c’est vivant… voire bruyant! La Creole Queen, et d’autres, se fraient un chemin sur la Mississippi River. Cette dernière est busy, entre faire son show, se montrer sous son meilleur jour dans le cadre des excursions pour touristes et le transport de choses et d’autres; elle a plusieurs casquettes, elle remplit plusieurs fonctions économiques. Le fleuve est un des traits les plus marquants du visage du French Quarter. Il est prépondérant dans l’identité de la ville.

Lorsque l’on s’achemine vers le French Market, l’odeur des fameux beignets devient enivrante, et à ce moment là, on veut goûter! Mais, il faut être patient, la file d’attente au Café du Monde est longue. Dans l’ensemble, la ville danse aux rythmes des notes jazzy, à l’image de son personnage le plus emblématique – Mister Armstrong, qui a laissé un bel héritage à son lieu de naissance -, et fascine à travers ses légendes vaudou.”

Si j’avais un titre à donner à cette photo? Je l’aurais intitulée “Un bout de Nouvelle-Orléans”, si je ne m’en tenais qu’à ce qu’on y voit. Rien d’extraordinaire, elle a été prise depuis le Washington Artillery Park. Classique point de vue pour une photo, paraît-il.

L’expérience, en revanche, l’a été pour ce qu’elle a représenté pour moi.

Si je m’en tenais à mon imaginaire de la Nouvelle-Orléans, de ce que j’en ai compris, ce que j’étais venue explorer, de ce que j’étais venue y chercher et que j’ai trouvé ; cette photo dirait bien plus, quelque chose comme “un bout de France, des îles de la Caraïbe aux États-Unis”, quelque chose qui résonne en moi, qui me ressemble même ; de là mon choix dans le titre “mes expériences, mes origines et mes passions”.

J’avais envie de partager ce beau souvenir d’une ville où les États-Unis et la France ont fusionné, où l’Amérique épouse la France. Je pense aussi aux influences créoles, je ne pouvais pas faire l’impasse sur la Nouvelle-Orléans, sans doute, le parfait crossroads, c’est cela le “croisement” dont je parle. Sans oublier son lien avec Haïti, île et pays de mon coeur; toutes ces raisons ont donné du sens à ma découverte de la ville, car ce que j’aime vraiment plus que tout, c’est de “voyager avec sens” pour mieux me connaître, pour me trouver en fin de compte 🙂

Une dernière chose, en musique “…and I think to myself, what a wonderful….” song

7 facts that makes Florida an exciting destination

The cover picture was taken in South Beach, Miami, 2016. Steps from the hotel I stayed at on Collins Avenue. To get to the beach I crossed Ocean Drive from 8th Street, the closest to the hotel.

So here’s the story, to be more accurate, here is MY story with Florida.

I was enjoying my trip to Florida from mid-June to 4th of July (an important date and celebration in the USA history as we all know) I was mesmerized by all the beautiful sights AND feelings I get everytime I am there. I am thinking to myself now what is it about Florida that makes me feel this way? What is it about it that makes me feel more alive?

Because yes, the truth is I can definitely say I have that kind of deep unique and special connection with that part of America. You know THIS connection we usually experience with special people or a special someone. That is it right here! I am positive if I can feel it that strongly I can pass it on to you.

Well, first of all. I trully believe that the fact I lived there is a great part of it. I recall before I moved to Florida in May, 2014 my friends, loved ones even people that I know from different activities I am involved in were telling me “Oh Emma, Florida is not the best part of the US to improve your English”, “Florida is all about sea, sun and fun, not your type I know you’re more into cultural destinations”, “Are you kidding me, are you going to work there? Really? Nooo way, you’re only going to party there, I can’t picture anything else!”  blahblahblah. Obviously, Florida has its stereotypes.

Yet, spending time over there allowed me to actually see it from a different perspective. I got to see the very first things when you get there and beyond, the genuine assets of this destination…nothing like anywhere else in the US. I don’t mean I know every part of it nor every aspect, I share about what Florida means to me and at the end of the day in my opinion Florida is like the continuation of the Caribbean territory, it’s like the Caribbean in the US. That is my general outlook on the destination!

  1. The enjoyable environment. No wonder! This should not come as a surprise the first reason why people visit Florida is the nice weather most of the time. With temperatures that range from 39°F the lowest in January (Thallahassee) to 92°F the highest in summer (Miami), the climate is the number one asset. So that is how the so called “Sunshine State” holds on to its reputation. Even Americans go on vacation there! Similarly to my home country, France, it is very popular to go to “la Côte d’Azur”/the “French Riviera” in the South during summertime. That being said, I keep in mind that there are indeed “subtle” differences depending on where you are in Florida. I spent most of my time in Orlando I can say November, December and February were kind of “cold” I had to wear a thick coat. Big time. In general inland and the northern part is chilly even cold at times especially towards the end and beginning of the year. The southern part, Miami for instance, is usually the hottest anyway. Besides, Florida has an ideal location. Surrounded by waters – the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic Ocean – the destination offers a wide range of beaches whether they are remote or must-see and crowded ones. I particularly love Clearwater beaches, Caladesi Island beaches, Honeymoon Island rather than South Beach. The first ones are more romantic and while they are still attractive beaches, thus there are many people, it is nothing like in South Beach area. To me, the great location also means the proximity with the Caribbean. Being originally from there and having a part of my family living there, it is something to be considered. I for instance took a trip to Haiti from Miami, round trip ticket, quick flight for about $250 which is cheap. At the time (2014) traveling to Martinique and Guadeloupe from Florida was still expensive but more recently it has developed meaning prices are more interesting and flights are more often. You might want to check on Norwegian website. I think not only for people from the Caribbean but also for Americans or people visiting Florida it is a good opportunity to visit the Caribbean islands.
  2. The amusement and fun. Again, no surprise here! Florida is definitely a destination for fun activities and amusement parks. What I find actually funny is the “contrasts” when it comes to leisure; there are certainly areas you want to avoid if you are with kids. I wouldn’t recommend Miami as an example when on a family trip, it is ideal for party lovers though. There are different levels of “fun” depending on your age and what you are looking for. I lived in Orlando for a year, this city is by far a must if you have kids, little ones, also if you are with friends. Orlando is home to the so-called “happiest place on Earth”, Walt Disney World, the biggest Disney resort in the world. If you are like me, maybe not a big big fan of the concept of overcrowded amusement parks, you will at least enjoy thrilling experiences and sharing those moments with your loved ones for sure and I know for a fact that at Disney, they are the best to make you feel special! It includes the 5 theme parks Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, my favorite one Hollywood Studios with the amazing evening show “Fantasmic” and the 2 water parks Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach. Besides those, Sea World to experience great experience with the marine life,  Aquatica and of course Universal Resort, perfect for teens and adults. Outside Orlando, Tampa has its own attractions Busch Gardens and the Aquarium. Everything is made easy for tourists to have the best experience since you can get combined tickets for example for Sea World and Busch Gardens, transportation included. Let the childish side in you shine.
  3. The charming people and the (their) languages, or I could say the cultural richness there through those two, to begin with. That one is BIG. I mean of course a city such as New York is cosmopolitan. But sometimes I think it is nothing like in Florida, remember the environment and climate has this “little” touch of the Caribbean, well the people emphasize it. Anyway, I personnally feel this is the exact ingredient that spices up the destination. I met Mexicans, Cubans, Puerto Ricans, Bahamians, Jamaicans, Dominicans, Haitians, Brazilians, Colombians (the list goes on and on) at work a lot and while going out as well. Therefore, I could speak Spanish as much as English. If you happen to speak Spanish, there you go! You will always make your way in Florida! And if not, trust me, you’ll eventually learn some Spanish or another language. I can also speak Creole with my Haitian fellows what is very convenient. It is a lot of fun at the end of the day! In a nutshell, this beautiful blend of different cultures is the vibrant side of Florida! It all dates back to the history of the state.
  4. Along with the people comes the sweet music and the dances related to. All those kinds of music that just take you directly to the islands and countries of South America, this is the “paradise” I am talking about. Reggae, salsa, bachata, merengue, samba, reggaeton, konpa…you name it! It is blissful. It just creates this relaxing and delightful atmosphere whether it is in clubs, concerts, shows, restaurants and bars, even the street is a stage in Miami Beach. It is about time to listen to the oldie “Chan Chan” by Buena Vista Social (Compay Segundo)!
  5. Along with the music, the tasty and diversified food. From the famous Key Lime pie – that isn’t to be missed – to seafood, Florida has a lot to offer when it comes to eating. And of course food is as diversified as the communities mentionned before. A lot of chain restaurants actually provide “typical dishes” so we can get a taste of this “melting pot”. Yet, I prefer nice small and family-owned restaurants. I am rather picky about food, ahah! If you didn’t know yet take a look at my page About author. I personnally like Haitian food. Three places I would recommend are Chef Creole Restaurant and Leela’s Restaurant in Little Haiti, also Tap Tap Restaurant in South Beach. The latter has the advantage to be perfectly located in a very touristy area and the place is colorful, decorated with stunning haitian paintings. You get plenty of food – I couldn’t finish mine! – and prices are average. I’ll explain what a “tap-tap” is in an upcoming post about my trip to Haiti!
  6. The best orange juice I have ever had. Well, maybe not the best. Since the best is definitely the one we make with fresh juicy oranges. It depends on your opinion about how natural is the orange juice found at the grocery stores. What is sure though is that Florida is well-known for its oranges, it is part of its identity!  I personnally go for Florida’s Natural to start a good day there and I am happy with it! Made in Florida by an agricultural cooperative of citrus growers, you find it everywhere in the state!

Bonus : I have one more for you! I don’t know about you but there is something about a hot destination like Florida that simply incites you to finally wear those neo, bright, colorful clothes that you had left perhaps for a while even forgotten in your wardrobe. It is time to enjoy them! Rock it! Also, you will probably be in the mood to make and enjoy refreshing cocktails, smoothies. Discover my favorite flavours for a sweet summertime!

And you, what do you find exciting about Florida? What are the first things, ideas that cross your mind when you think about this destination? How do you picture it, if you have not been there yet? I’d love to hear from you!

7 practical information about Florida

Florida is one of my cherished destinations, I mean that it is “my old home” that I am still discovering. If you did not know, you can always learn more here. 

I am sharing here some of the things that I keep in mind when I am dealing with Florida. Here are my 7 tips especially for first time travelers there.

  1. Consider “extra fees” when booking a hotel. It is particularly true for South Beach, Miami for instance. Don’t be surprise that the price of the room in the end is different from what you saw at first you get to pay for tax (for the stay) plus resort fees (usually it is per day). Typically those resort fees cover the services that are included (not really “free”) such as beach towels, shuttles to the airport and other advantages like common services with other hotels around discounts to some night clubs …For that reason staying oustide this area, in downtown or Airbnb could be better options in terms of prices, still it really depends the kind of activities and experience you are looking for.
  2. Water, water, water and …water. This is to be taken very seriously. It is surely your best mate there. It is no joke. I am from the Caribbean and used to the heat and I have some bad memories, lesson learned. Trust me when I say bring and/or drink water everywhere you go because you never know it happens quick. You feel dizzy and the next minute you pass out. Big time. It happened to me since then I am extremely careful. I witnessed myself a lot of people passing out in amusement parks. Never stay too long laid on the beach or the pool in the heat and then get up too quick. When feeling dizzy, go inside, stay in AC places.That type of things are preventive recommendations.
  3. Talking about AC. Be prepared for “AC” everywhere. Ahah! Should I precise that AC is for Air Conditioning. In vehicles, in stores, in hotels, everywhere. I personally needed time to get used to that. I bet I am not the only one!
  4. A car is very likely essential and very common. I highly recommend to rent a car unless you plan to stay in one place and resort such as in Disney World, the good new is everything there is taken care of. Transportation is flawless. Otherwise you will be literally handicapped. And since Florida is home to different activities in different locations, the best way to discover every aspects of Florida is taking the road. Think about beach trips when you are in Orlando.
  5. Talking about cars and taking the road, it means tolls also. Orlando is by far “the city of tolls”. Always make sure that you have cash and I would risk to say coins is sometimes safer.
  6. At some point, you will get wet, but well…after all it feels good! Get used to thunders, beautiful lightnings and heavy tropical rains. There is a flipside to this amazing weather, climate and environment. The road between Orlando and Tampa for example is often rainy. Do not panic!
  7. Ok, enough with the annoying tips! Lastly, something more fun. Get comfortable with Spanish. If you do not already, I would recommend to learn some Spanish. My opinion is that traveling is an experience for the traveler as well as the people visited. It really works both ways in an ideal scenario. So I always make sure that I have some “tools” to adapt to the people there and show some form of “respect” for their culture (honoring their culture) and to actually make the meeting happen with them. I see knowking or learning the language as a powerful skill in our own traveling experience. There are many many Spanish speakers in Florida so it is both useful and really appreciated if you speak it. This is Florida and that is what makes it unique!