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Absolute Travel Addict

The Anthology

Walking the Earth, Meeting New People and Getting into Adventures

Travel Addict The Anthology Walking the Earth, Meeting New People and Getting into Adventures By April

By April D. Thompson

Absolute Travel Addict

Walking the Earth, Meeting New People, Getting Into Adventures

April Thompson

Absolute Travel Addict: Walking the Earth, Meeting New People, Getting Into Adventures Copyright

Table of Contents

About April

4

30 by 30 Travel Challenge

12

Travel Stories

14

Travel Tips

21

Travel Resources

28

Contact April

30

Disclaimer

31

About April

About

Who is AbsoluteADT?

That's me, April D. Thompson (aka AbsoluteADT) -- an Absolute Travel Addict! I'm an engineer by training and marketer by trade and dabble in voice acting. I currently live in Atlanta but working towards a 100% location independent lifestyle and spending my time exploring the world.

In 2010, I made the decision to quit the life

For the Pulp Fiction fans out there, you know where this headed, but if you don’t quite get it, check out the video before you keep reading.

Before you ask, I'm not in the mafia or a cult, I'm referring to corporate life/rat race.  And yes, I still have a job, residence and legal tender and I’m definitely not going to be a bum, but I am shaking things up a bit. Life is too short to not to live it to the fullest. Our world is too big to not explore. And a job is that, JUST a job.

The Plan

My new life plan (more emphasis on life and less on plan), similar to Jules is to walk the earth, meet new people and get into adventures.  I'm not exactly sure what that means long term, but I'm taking it one day at a time and focusing on my 30 by 30 travel challenge for now.  My other travel dreams include becoming an expat in Portugal, Spain and/or Brazil, becoming conversationally fluent in Spanish and Portuguese and so much more.

Why Should You Care?

This blog will aggregate stories of my adventures and travel related musings from my perspective -- a Black American female and solo travel addict. I hope to make you laugh, give you sound travel advice and inspire you set and reach your own travel goals, whether it's a relaxing weekend getaway with a loved one or a 6 month excursion around the world!

Mark Twain said it best:

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."

So what are you waiting for? Â Pack a bag and join me for the

So what are you waiting for? Â Pack a bag and join me for the fun. I promise you won't regret it!

Peace and blessings,

April D. Thompson Twitter:Â @AbsoluteADT Blog:Â www.absoluteadt.com Facebook: Absolute Travel Addict

Woman on My Way

Facebook: Absolute Travel Addict Woman on My Way The contest voting ended on midnight, Feb 1.

The contest voting ended on midnight, Feb 1. I finished with a respectable 606 votes and was still in the running to become Wyndham's Local Nation Contest winner (In my best Tyra Banks ANTM judging voice).

For the past two weeks, I have been sitting on pins and needles awaiting on the final results. Â While the

judges scoured the 116 entries for their top picks, I waited, waited and waited

Well, its February 14th, D-Day (and V-Day btw)!  The judges have deliberated. The results are in and I'm excited to announce that I am a 2011 Wyndham Local Nation Contest WINNER!!!!

So what does that mean? Â It's mean they like me, they really like me! :-) AND I'm getting some really cool prizes. Â Most importantly, this is a great opportunity to share the importance of getting out and seeing the world and hopefully influencing others (especially people of color) to do the same.

To see what adventures I get into next, subscribe to this site, follow me on Twitter or join the Absolute Travel Addict Facebook page!

Explore, Dream, Discover

Explore! Dream! Discover!

page ! Explore, Dream, Discover Explore! Dream! Discover! April D. Thompson Blog:Â Absolute Travel Addict 1.

April D. Thompson

1. What message do have for students who want to travel?

Go for it! Â It's an amazing addition to your formal education in the US and can make you a more

marketable for jobs once you graduate.  I made a last minute decision to travel to South Africa for 6 weeks during graduate school (engineering) to do independent research on educational disparities that existed post-apartheid and programs in place to fix it.  The program was intended for undergraduates studying education and was a rigorous 6 weeks of structured lectures.  I created

a proposal highlighting why I should be allowed to attend and despite much criticism, was approved! I

also used my proposal to secure funding from local and campus organizations to cover almost all of my trip expenses! Â The icing on the cake was being able to present my work at the 50th Annual Comparative and International Education Society's conference in Honolulu, Hawaii, all expenses paid.

 My words of advice: Never take no as your final answer and don't let money be a deciding factor in

your decision to go or not.

2. What are your childhood memories of travel ?

I remember loading up in the car or renting a mini man with my cousins and god siblings for the beach,

the amusement parks in Florida or other destinations. Â I hated the long drives in the car, but I loved spending time with my family and friends and getting away from home and school even if we didn't go far.

3. Where did you dream of traveling when you were a child?

My dad was in the Air Force and would bring home souvenirs from the places he traveled for work.

 I was look at his international collection of knick knacks and wonder what life was like in Korea,

Germany and Saudi Arabia.

4. Did you travel as a child?

My family spent 3 years living in the Philippines on military orders and a year in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. Â Most of my childhood was spent in Valdosta, GA and included road trips to the beach, amusement parks and relatives around the southeast.

MangoWalk Montego Bay Jamaica 5. What did you learn as a child about the expectation

MangoWalk Montego Bay Jamaica

5. What did you learn as a child about the expectation for black people to travel?

As child, there was no expectation to go anywhere. Â I was just happy and appreciative when the opportunity did arise.

6. Did you admire or know of any Black people that traveled when you were a child?

I admired my Uncle Herbert who would pack up in family in their huge van and travel all over the country. Â He always had the best stories!

7. Why should Black people travel?

"Studying abroad isn’t just an important part of a well-rounded educational experience. It’s also becoming increasingly important for success in the modern global economy. Getting ahead in today’s workplaces isn’t just about the skills you bring from the classroom. It’s also about the experience you have with the world beyond our borders—with people, and languages, and cultures that are very different from our own."  I agree with Michelle Obama's thoughts on travel/studying abroad when addressing students at Howard University.  In addition, outside of the work place, travel gives us a great opportunity to see and experience what our ancestors have contributed to the world!

8. What was your first trip?

My first international trip as an adult was 6 weeks in South Africa for independent research.

9. How did you plan for it?

I'm not a planner, so luckily the school handled all of the travel and lodging logistics and I just paid for it. Â I did some research on the different areas and reached out to students, faculty and staff as a part of my research who in turn were gracious enough to show me around as well.

who in turn were gracious enough to show me around as well. Rastas in Bogota Colombia

Rastas in Bogota Colombia

10. What was your experience there?

I toured the country for 6 weeks visiting Johannesburg, Durban, Cape Town and many places in between.  I spent my time learning about the educational system, primary to tertiary, and visited various schools in addition to exploring the cities during my free time.  I had a mix of home, hotel and hostel stays, met some amazing people and learned a ton about the country, its people and myself.

a) positive experience - Everything!  Hanging out with the cast of African Footprint, a

personal tour of Robben Island and dinner with political prisoner Eddie Danielscanopy tours in Tsitsikamma, a night in Addo Elephant Park and all of the amazing people I met!

b) negative experience-Â Having to leave to start a research project in San Diego, CA.

11. Was your travel experience what you expected?

The trip exceeded all of my expectations!

12. How is your travel experience as a Black traveler different from what you perceive as a White

traveler?

As a black traveler, it is easy to fit in to so many different places and be mistaken for a local (until I start talking of course).  We may not be everywhere, but pretty darn close.  On the flip side, the stares and sometimes lewd and racists comments can be annoying, but hey it still happens in the US, so no big

deal. Â All in all, I think everyone's experiences will have its up and downs depending on where you are from, what you look like and how well you get along with others. Â If nothing else, travel is a great lesson in cross-cultural learning and acceptance.

is a great lesson in cross-cultural learning and acceptance. Rio Brazil Atop Seleron Steps 13. What

Rio Brazil Atop Seleron Steps

13. What is your voice as a Black travel blogger?

I write for anyone who wants to hear about my journey and learn something new about the world or

themselves along the way. Â It is my hope that I encourage people to travel anywhere and everywhere and not just for the nightlife. I want people to see how safe and affordable world travel can be and all of the amazing contributions Blacks have made to the world. I especially want everyone to inspired to make their own way. Â There's nothing wrong with going a bit off the beaten path and following your dreams.

14. Where do you dream of traveling now? Why?

I recently received my National Geographic Genographic Study results which traced my ancestors

back to Central Africa and migratory patters to North Africa, South Eastern Africa and the Middle East. There's even an individual from Sierra Leone with listed with DNA match.  I love to explore this further and these locations to my travel bucket list.

Rio Brazil Birth of Samba 15. Anything else you would like to add? For all

Rio Brazil Birth of Samba

15. Anything else you would like to add?

For all of you that don't have a passport, get one now.  Mark Twain said it best "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover

Originally posted by SkyChiTravels

30 by 30 Travel Challenge

30 by 30 Travel Challenge

30 by 30 Travel Challenge 30 by 30 Travel Challenge There's no denying it, I LOVE

There's no denying it, I LOVE to travel! Â It honestly doesn't get much better than exploring a new

place, meeting new people and truly immersing yourself in a different culture -- the food, music,

dance, history

everything.

My interest in other cultures started at a very young age.  My father, who was enlisted in the US Air Force, moved my mother and I to the Philippines with him during his 3 year assignment.  Back home in Valdosta, I was surrounded by other military families who were of diverse backgrounds and had traveled all over the world as well.

Sadly I've let work and other things in life keep me away from getting out an exploring the world.  But, keeping in line with my renewed outlook on life, I have committed to a  30 by 30 travel challenge.  My challenge goal is to have traveled to 30 unique countries by the time I'm 30 years old on April 7th, 2012.

Sounds simple enough, right? Â Well not quite. Â As you noticed in the map and listing of countries conquered, I am not quite at the half way point and only have 20 months to go! Â That's 1 new country a month or some serious doubling and tripling up any time I break free of the US borders. Â And to top it off, I have a full time job and only 21 vacation days for the year. Â But no worries. Â Though I'm not exactly sure how it will get done, I'm determined to make it happen. Â All suggestions and advice on how to get it done are definitely welcomed and appreciated. :-)

For additional details on the places I have visited and upcoming trips, please view the Travel page of my site. I would love to hear about your favorite place or where you will be travelling next. Â Happy and safe travels!

ADT

Where I've Traveled

visited 15 countries (6.66%) Create your own visited map of The World Learn more about

visited 15 countries (6.66%) Create your own visited map of The World

Where I've Been: Canada |Â United States |Â Puerto Rico |Â Philippines |Â South Africa |Â Argentina |Â Mexico |Â Jamaica |Â The Bahamas |Â Dominican Republic | Colombia | Brazil | Portugal | France | Spain

Travel Wish List: Mali | India | Morocco | Peru | Belize | Guatemala | Italy | Maldives | Ecuador | Germany | Turkey | Czech Republic | UAE | Thailand |Â Indonesia | Egypt |

Upcoming Travel: ??

Travel Stories

Happy New Year!

From beautiful Rio De Janeiro, I wish you all a very happy and prosperous New Year!

I look forward to living each day to the fullest and cherishing the power of each and every moment and hope you do too!

All You Can Jet

each and every moment and hope you do too! All You Can Jet Although Jet Blue

Although Jet Blue doesn't service Atlanta, I purchased the All You Can Jet pass anyway. Â Unfortunately I missed out on the 7 day pass and will be losing Friday and Sunday travel days. Â However, if it all works as planned, I should still be able to get my money's worth easily and check off at least 2 countries for my travel challenge in addition to several other domestic locales. Â It should be an interesting time to say the very least and I'm ready for it all! I've connected with some of the AYCJ pass holders on twitter and hopefully will meet some cool travelers on my AYCJ travels.

So far I have the following cities on the list: Â Bogota, Colombia;Â Orlando, FL;Â New York, NY;Â San Francisco, CA;Â Los Angeles, CA;Â Seattle, WA and hoping to add 1 or 2 more before the promotion is over.

While I'm pretty sure I'll hit my break even point this year, I don't think I would purchase this or a similar pass with a discount airline in the future.  Jet Blue does service some really cool locations, but getting there can be a pain.  There aren't may flight times available to  the places I want to travel and so many require a layover in New York or Boston, making it really hard to squeeze more in.  I've been spoiled flying direct from Atlanta to almost anywhere on Delta. :-)

Well happy jetting and safe travels to all!

~ADT

My First Atlanta Travel Tweetup

My First Atlanta Travel Tweetup Last night, I attended my first Travel Tweetup at Tap in

Last night, I attended my first Travel Tweetup at Tap in Midtwon Atlanta. I brought along a friend in case the attendees were a bunch of crazies and I needed to make an escape, but luckily they all turned out to be pretty cool people!  Most people don't understand my desire to get rid of all, well, most of my personal belongings and trade in my 9-5 for a 4 Hour Work Week, but these folks get it and are living it daily (or pretty darn close).

I'm definitely looking for the next meet up before they start taking off for their respective extended trips. And if you are in the Atlanta metro area and want to meet up, like the Facebook group , follow Atlanta Travel Tweet on Twitter, or connect with one of us

Hope to see you next time!!

Rio de Janeiro Brazil: City of God, City of Men

For most of 2010, I had mentally prepared to travel to Brazil. I regularly day dreamed about laying on the beaches of Ipanema and Copacabana, taking in the breathtaking view from atop Sugarloaf and Christ the Redeemer statue and stuffing my face with best feijoda Rio has to offer. Unfortunately, due to my lackadaisical approach to planning (read: not getting my Brazilian visa squared away in a timely manner), my first Brazilian escapade was pushed back until the very last week of 2010. My laziness once again paid off because that meant New Year’s Eve in Rio, the second largest celebration in the city after Carnival!

In the weeks prior to my departure, I happened to run into several individuals who cautioned

m e a b o u t m y t r i p a n

me about my trip and howÂ

be for two women travelers (my good friend, old college roommate and work colleague would be traveling with me), especially since we don’t speak Portuguese. I was amazed that one individual even advised me to change my ticket until we could find a man to travel to Rio with us. Can you believe that?

dangerous the city would

Now I’m Ms. Adventure (or at least I pretend I am) and not typically afraid of roaming around a new place alone during the day or even at night. I guess I’m just that intimidating (all 5’3―, 105 lbs of me). Just three short months before my departure to Rio, I traveled to Bogota, Colombia alone and had a blast and no incidents, so why was I starting to become a little scared?

Well for starters, I’ve seen bothÂCity of God and City of Men, and the thought of running into some of these crews would scare the pants off anyone. It also didn’t help that every day the news was broadcasting more and more headlines of the danger and acts of violence “running rampant― in Rio. It was so bad that the military had to come in with tanks to settle all of the commotion.

The part about the tanks is true and I’ve heard first hand accounts of how dangerous some favelas can actually be, but these incidents aren’t in areas typically visited by tourists. I quickly got over all of the negative remarks, packed my bags and prepared for an amazing time in Rio.

After the first few hours in the city, I was completely at ease. Rio is no different than any other large city in terms. In the first few days, we saw all of the major attractions and even trekked a little off the normal tourist path and enjoyed mixing with the locals and several Couchsurfers we met along the way.

If there was any expectation of problems, I thought for sure it would be during the New Year’s Eve celebration. With over 2 million people gathered along the beaches of Copa and Ipanema and plenty of alcohol being consumed, it seemed like the best time for something to go wrong, but it didn’t. January 1st news even reported that zero incidents were reported again for

Reveillon. I wonder if NYC could say the same… Rio is a beautiful place and

Reveillon. I wonder if NYC could say the same…

Rio is a beautiful place and Cariocas are generally wonderful people that love life and having a good time. Rio will continue to be an exciting place to visit as the city prepares for World Cup 2014 and the Olympics coming in 2016, so get your visa and book your trip today! And remember to keep these tips in mind to ensure you have a fun time and stay safe:

• Keep a copy of your passport with you at all times.

• Register your trip with theÂDepartment of State (or your local government agency)

• Learn a fewÂbasic Portuguese phrases (at a minimum) to help you get around

• Exercise the same safety precautions as you would in any city or when traveling alone

Enjoy Cidade Maravilhosa! Bom Viaje!

Originally posted at Do It While You're Young

Happy Bob Marley Day!

Emancipate yourself from mental slavery.  None but ourselves can free our mind

Wata gwan??? In celebration of the birth of Nesta Robert "Bob" Marley, I decided to share a photo/video essay of my recent trip to 9 Mile while in Jamaica.  If you find yourself near Ocho Rios, take the time to visit the 9 Mile community and give my good friend Karl a call for affordable accommodations in beautiful Ryhne Park and a real tour of Jamaica!

Open your eyes and look within. Are you satisfied with the life you 're living?

Open your eyes and look within. Are you satisfied with the life you're living? We know where we're going. We know where we're from. We're leaving Babylon, y'all. We're going to our Father's land. Exodus! Movement of Jah people!

to our Father's land. Exodus! Movement of Jah people! Excuse me while I light my spliff.

Excuse me while I light my spliff. Oh God I gotta take a lift, from reality I just can't drift. That's why I am staying with this riff. Take it easy. Easy skanking, taking it slow.

Cold ground was my bed last night. And rock stone was my pillow too. Talkin'

Cold ground was my bed last night. And rock stone was my pillow too. Talkin' blues, talkin' blues. They say your feet is just too big for your shoes.

I
I

a roof right over our heads. We'll share the shelter of my single bed. We'll share the same room, for Jah provide the bread. Is this love that I'm feeling?

Let them all pass all their dirty remarks. There is one question I'd r eally

Let them all pass all their dirty remarks. There is one question I'd really love to ask. Is there a place for the hopeless sinner, who has hurt all mankind just to save his own? One love, one heart. Let's get together and feel all right.

Rise up this morning. Smiled with the rising sun. Three little birds, pitch by my door step. Singing sweet songs of melodies pure and true. Saying, this is my message to you. Don't worry

Travel Tips

Got Passport?

If you haven't heard the statistics, let me educate you: Only 30% of US Citizens hold valid passports, compared to 60% in Canada and 75% in the UK. Â The US numbers have been on the rise, but it's just not enough.

I personally find it a little disheartening that 42% of Americans have a smart phone, which in most instances costs more than the $135 passport fee.

in most instances costs more than the $135 passport fee. In her recent visit, First Lady,

In her recent visit, First Lady, Michelle Obama urges Howard University students to travel abroad as "[travel/studying abroad] isn’t just an important part of a well-rounded educational experience. It’s also becoming increasingly important for success in the modern global economy. Getting ahead in today’s workplaces isn’t just about the skills you bring from the classroom. It’s also about the experience you have with the world beyond our borders—with people, and languages, and cultures that are very different from our own.―

For me, there's nothing more satisfying than experiencing a new culture in real life as opposed to through a book. Sure, you can watch my video of the amazing NYE celebration in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil or check out my photos of beautiful Ocho Rios Jamaica, but I'd rather you experience it for yourself.

If you don't have a passport and you are ready to explore the world, follow these 2 simple steps to get it done now!

1. Â Gather the following documents:

Completed Passport Application Form, DS-11
Evidence of Citizenship -- Your birth certificate is sufficient. Â If you can't find your

Evidence of Citizenship -- Your birth certificate is sufficient. Â If you can't find your birth certificate, you can order a full certified official copy from your state's Vital Records Department. Order Georgia birth certificates here.

a full certified official copy from your state's Vital Records Department. Order Georgia birth certificates here

Proof of Identification -- Government issued ID or Driver's license is ideal.  You will need to show the identification and provide a photo copy of the front and back to submit with your application

$135 application fee  -- This covers both the application and execution fee.  Fees are subject to change so act now before it goes up again!copy of the front and back to submit with your application 2 Passport sized photos --

2 Passport sized photos -- You can get these from Kinkos or at the post office among other locations for $13.are subject to change so act now before it goes up again! 2. Â Head over

2.  Head over to your closest passport acceptance facility to complete the process.  (Don't know where that is?  Search here.)  In less than six weeks, you will have your ticket to explore the world!

If you have any questions or need help getting it done, please review the U.S. Department of State website or reach out to me. Â I'd be happy to help!

Got your passport already? Have tips to help others do the same? Join the Get Your Passport Page and share!

Affordable Accommodations in Lisbon

Page and share! Affordable Accommodations in Lisbon Sitting at home during the tail end of Atlanta

recommended accommodations given I had less than 24 hours before my arrival. After a little due diligence, I decided on Albergo Odisseo (formally Albergo Olisipo), a recently renovated nineteenth century building that seemed to be in the center of it all.   After reading several great reviews, I secured my room via e-mail. Only 20 Euro per night for a single room -- perfect.  My wallet was already thanking me!

I arrived the next night after spending a day roaming the streets of Paris, tired and ready to crash. Â I took the bus, per the hostel's on-line directions, and instead of walking, took a short cab ride the rest of the way up the hill.

took a short cab ride the rest of the way up the hill. It was around

It was around 11:15pm and walking in a strange place, with luggage and up a hill, would not have been a smart thing to do. Â Besides, I was beat and don't think I could have made it all the way.

When I arrived, I was greeted by Frederico, 1 part of the sister-brother team that manages Albergo Odisseo. After a brief registration and tour , I headed straight to my room and crashed.

The next morning, I was met by Vanessa, the other half of the Lopes duo. Â She too made me feel right at home and even sat down with me to map out a strategy for tackling the city, complete with a map and guide book. Â I had a done a little prep before coming, Â but she schooled me on little details I had missed or otherwise wouldn't have known, like free museum days and other local favorites. Â This became my daily routine. Â I would mix her suggestions with my limited reading/planning and random walking and exploration. Â It worked perfectly!

At the end of night 4, I almost didn't want to leave to head to Barcelona. Â I had a really great time in Lisbon topped off with a really great budget accommodations!

The Pros

Clean -- This is my number 1 priority!  It has to be clean!  I -- This is my number 1 priority!  It has to be clean!  I appreciated the daily cleaning by the hostel staff.  She was very thorough, especially in the bathroom.

Free wi-fi -- Nothing beats fast, free wi-fi, which is exactly what you get at Albergo Odisseo. -- Nothing beats fast, free wi-fi, which is exactly what you get at Albergo Odisseo. Â If you don't have your own laptop, don't worry, they have computers that you can use as well.

Very friendly and helpful staff -- Vanessa and Frederico were awesome.  I really appreciated their hospitality that when well -- Vanessa and Frederico were awesome.  I really appreciated their hospitality that when well beyond my expectations.

Close to public transportation -- Just a short walk down the hill is the the Aveneida metro -- Just a short walk down the hill is the the Aveneida metro

stop and access to buses, taxis and trams. Getting around was not a problem at all.

Staff speaks English -- My Portuguese sucks (I'm working on it!!) and I appreciated being able to communicate -- My Portuguese sucks (I'm working on it!!) and I appreciated being able to communicate effectively with the staff in English.

Quiet --  I'm not sure if this is due to it being the off season --  I'm not sure if this is due to it being the off season and low occupancy, but there wasn't any wild and craziness going on.  I definitely appreciated it after those long days/nights out and about the city; I slept like a baby.

The Cons (I'm really stretching on these)

They charge for towels -- Granted it's only 1 Euro a day, but just thought you should know. Â -- Granted it's only 1 Euro a day, but just thought you should know. Â I brought my own, so no worries for me.

No private bathrooms -- If you must have a bathroom to yourself, sorry. -- If you must have a bathroom to yourself, sorry.

Wi-fi does not work in all rooms -- I had to go down the hall to the community room to get a -- I had to go down the hall to the community room to get a signal, which was no biggie. Â I got to meet and interact with some of the other guests while knocking out a few to dos.

Lots of stairs -- Lisbon is a city built on 7 HUGE hills, which means buildings go up -- Lisbon is a city built on 7 HUGE hills, which means buildings go up and walking around can be a bit tiring. Â My room was on the third floor. Â Word of advice, pack light.

Cash only -- This is the case with most hostels, but it sure would be nice if -- This is the case with most hostels, but it sure would be nice if they took AMEX so I could earn more travel rewards.

When your travels bring you to Lisbon, Portugal, I would highly recommend you give Albergo Odisseo a call. The friendly staff, exceptionally clean accommodations and central location make it an ideal budget friendly choice! You can also connect with them on the Albergo Odisseo Facebook page as well.

A Tasty Tease in Lisbon

Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak

I'm a strong willed person and don't easily succumb to temptation, but there are a few things (and people) on this earth that make me weak in the knees.  It really takes someone special, Idris Elba for example, to make my heart melt, but Sonya C. Millard, architect and brainchild behind Tease Bakery, has done just that

to make my heart melt, but Sonya C. Millard, architect and brainchild behind Tease Bakery ,

Strolling through Bairro Alto on my last night in Lisbon, I came across a quaint shop

amidst the closed boutique that lined the cobblestone streets, and there it was

cafe, with plush chairs, china fit for high tea, a mix of Euro-R&B and rock pounding through the speakers and a heavenly display of perfectly decorated CUPCAKES!!! It was love a first sight.

a cozy

decorated CUPCAKES!!! It was love a first sight. a cozy I quickly made a beeline for

I quickly made a beeline for the red velvet cupcakes, my all time favorite. These aren't an easy sweet to perfect, but the magic makers at Tease did these little red treats justice.  I grabbed a Lime Tree tea from the advertised tea list (see below) and devoured another red velvet cupcake while I chatted with the barista. She gave me the dish on the cupcake movement in Lisbon and her journey from São Paulo to Lisbon, a one way trip a lot of Brazilians are making these days.  Several minutes of conversation and two cupcakes later, I headed back out for dinner and drinks with two cookies 'n' cream cupcakes to go

and drinks with two cookies 'n' cream cupcakes to go If you find yourself in Lisbon

If you find yourself in Lisbon and in the mood for a little tease, head on over to Tease for a sweet treat.  And while you're in the Bairro area, make a stop at Cinco Lounge, a lounge with the same owners that boasts an extensive and eclectic cocktail list.  I didn't make it to Cinco Lounge on this trip to Lisbon, but next time I'll be sure to try the Green Destiny (kiwi, cucumber, vodka and apple juice) and the Milly Vanilly (a premium mojito spiked with champagne) among others. Sounds refreshing, no?

Preparing Your Escape to Brazil

Preparing Your Escape to Brazil After almost a year of talking about it, I'm finally going

After almost a year of talking about it, I'm finally going to be about it! Â I've been slowly working my way through South America and excited to making my first stop in Brazil in Rio for New Years ! Â With all of the excitement and preparation for World Cup 2014 and the Olympics in 2016 combined with the craziness of Reveillion, this promises to be an EPIC adventure!

Unlike Argentina and Colombia, Brazil requires travel visas for US Citizens (and I don't blame them). Â But, for non planners, like myself, that added another unwanted, but necessary, step to making Rio a reality.

For Atlantans planning a trip to Brazil, follow these easy steps to painlessly secure your visa in person (with same day pick up) at the Brazilian Consulate General in Atlanta. For instructions for applying by mail, which costs $20 more, or applying in person in a different city, consult your closest Brazilian Consular Office.

Securing a Brazilian Travel Visa

1.) Get a passport -- If you don't already have one, secure a passport now!  If you already have one, ensure you have at least one page left and 6 more months left before it expiries.

2.) Book Your Flight -- The visa process requires a travel itinerary.  There are direct flights on Delta from Atlanta to Rio and Sao Paulo, but check around for the best deals, especially if you are open to layovers.  Want to book with points, work with The Points Guy to get the best deal.

3.) Complete the Visa Request Form -- This a simple on-line form to kick the process off. Â Once completed, print, sign and attach a passport sized photo ($13 at the post office or Kinkos).

4.) Schedule an appointment -- Trying to schedule an appointment in December around work travel

wasn't too bad. Â Appointments were booked about a week or so out, so give yourself enough time.

 You will need the number from the visa request form number.

5.) Supplemental Items -- In addition to the items above, have the following with you just in case.

 They may or may not ask for it, but better safe than sorry.

Proof of Financial MeansThey may or may not ask for it, but better safe than sorry. Accommodation Information Driver'sÂ

Accommodation Informationfor it, but better safe than sorry. Proof of Financial Means Driver's License or ID Let

Driver's License or IDsorry. Proof of Financial Means Accommodation Information Let me know if you have any questions and

Let me know if you have any questions and check back for a recap of my trip. Â Happy travels!

Travel Resources

Travel Resources

Got Passport? If not, get it now!

Be Smart:Â Register Your International Trip with the US Department of State

Travel Hacking: Learn how to travel for FREE (coming soon)

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Disclaimer Disclaimer This is a personal weblog. The opinions and information expressed herein are my own

This is a personal weblog. The opinions and information expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's or client's views in any way. If you have any questions, please contact me.

This Document was Generated on the 17th of February, 2011 using

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