Spontaneous Trip to Arizona

Dan and I made a decision on the fly last week and flew out to Arizona on Friday. Well, we had talked about it the previous week but just in passing like, “hey the Devils play in Arizona next week we should go.” Then a few days before we started to look into airfare and, obviously, the price had gone up. We figured “oh well.” But then Friday, Dan kept saying how he really wanted to go and I was like you know what…YOLO haha. I told him we knew we would regret it if we didn’t go, especially if we were watching the Devils game on TV. We’d be thinking ugh we should have been there!

So anyway, we said F it and got a flight for Friday afternoon. We got to Phoenix at 7:30 their time. By the time we got our rental car and got to the hotel it was 8:30, aka 10:30 on our clocks. We were so tired but headed out to dinner at The Keg Steakhouse which was DELICIOUS.

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The next morning, Saturday, we got up and headed to Gila River Arena for the Devils game. We both love checking out new stadiums and arenas, and cheering for the away team ;) The arena, on the inside, actually looked a lot like Prudential Center (where the Devils play), but I wasn’t really impressed by the outside or the concourse.

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Anyway, the Devils won 2-0! There is this big outdoor entertainment area outside of the arena with a bunch of sports bars. It was so crazy to me that we were sitting at an outdoor bar in t-shirts in January. 

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Afterwards we headed to Scottsdale for dinner and drinks, and to watch the Cardinals game. There were actually a lot of Green Bay Packers fans in town as well for the game.

Sunday was our day to head to the Grand Canyon. I couldn’t even imagine what it would look like. We drove 3.5 hours to get there, and it was interesting how the scenery changed the farther up you drive. It went from desert land with cacti, to snow covered and mountains in the distance. Side note: on our drive out of the city we saw runners running the RnR AZ race…let me know if you were one of them!

This might sound stupid, and was a total traveler’s mistake on my end, but I didn’t think it would be cold there since in Phoenix it was 60s-70s. Then on the drive there I checked the weather and saw it said 22 degrees! So we made a pitstop at a Kohl’s in Flagstaff to get myself a jacket lol.

Part of our drive

Part of our drive

The Grand Canyon was around 7,000 feet elevation, so my ears were popping the whole way there. We got there and our first stop was Desert View Watchtower. We were immediately taken aback by the views and scenery. It really is indescribable. We then drove about 20 miles within the park and stopped at every view point we could.

There was one location with no guard rails, so people were taking photos on this rock on the rim. So we did it too, though it was really scary! The rock did not have good footing, and it was windy. But it made for some amazing pictures:

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There truly is nothing like it. I keep saying we need to go back because 1) it was amazing and 2) there was a lot of snow, so we couldn’t do any hiking on the rim trails. Here’s one more pic:

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We spent a few hours there exploring and also stayed for the sunset. Then drove all the way back…and ended the night/trip with In n’ Out Burger :) However, I will say I think Shake Shack > In n’ Out Burger…

This trip really motivated me to do more traveling this year. It’s one of my 2016 goals. My friend and I are thinking of heading to Mont Tremblant, Canada in February, then I’ve got a summer trip to Paraguay and Rio…I can’t wait!

Have you been to the Grand Canyon?

Where would you like to travel to this year? My next bucket list US stop would probably be New Orleans or somewhere in Texas :)


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Things To Do In Rio De Janeiro

As some of you may know, this past summer my family went to visit our family in Paraguay, but also spent a few days in Rio De Janeiro for the World Cup. It was awesome!! I really want to go back and have more time to explore. But I wanted to share with you what I did find, and places you absolutely must go to (some are pretty obvious).

1. Cristo Redentor (Christ The Redeemer)

I mean, like I said, pretty obvious. Rio De Janeiro is known for this statue of Jesus Christ, located on the Corcovado Mountain in Tijuca Forest National Park. The statue is 128 ft tall, and is on the peak of the mountain, which is 2,300 ft. up. Oh and it’s also one of the New Seven Wonders Of The World. That’s why this is number one on my list! It really was such an amazing experience.

Christ The Redeemer

There are several ways to get up to the mountain. Some people hike or bike up there, which obviously takes hours. I was impressed seeing these people on our drive up – I could never do that! It’s a pretty steep and winding ascent.

We took a shuttle van provided by the Tijuca Forest National Park. It picked us up right in Copacabana where we were staying and took us straight to the statue. There is also a subway-like train that goes up, and winds through the forest. That does sound pretty cool too!

A few tips for when you visit:

  • Go around noon or after. Early in the morning there is a lot of fog. You’ll be disappointed if you get up there and you can’t actually see anything!
  • If you take the bus, buy your tickets in advance. You still have to wait in a line to pick them up, but the line for buying tickets in person was waaaaaaayyyyyyyy longer. 
  • Be patient. There are a lot of people up there. You’ll want to take photos of the city below, or you posing with the statue, and you’ll get your change…just be patient.



Here’s a video I took of the view:


A video posted by pattyrivas13 (@pattyrivas13) on

2. Pao De Acucar (Sugarloaf Mountain)

Another popular tourist attraction. We did this on our last day, when I was pretty tired already so I feel like I didn’t take it all in as much as I should have. I remember feeling too tired to walk around and really explore the area.  Sugarloaf Moutain is 1,299 ft above the water, and you have some great views of the city. It’s well known for the cable cars that you take up to the mountain itself. You take one car halfway, then switch cars and keep going up.

Sugarloaf Cable Cars

Once you get to the top, they have areas to take photos and take in the scenery. You can also go for walks on trails through a forest area.

Sugarloaf Moutain

The cable cars run every 20 minutes, and the line moved pretty quickly. Same tip as above applies here…go more towards noon time so fog and clouds don’t block your view! Tickets for the cable car are about $30. When you get to the base where you’ll be getting on the first cable car, look up and you’ll see a mountain…and probably some crazy people climbing it!

 3. Go Eat!

There are sooooo many great places to eat in Rio, and specifically in Copacabana where we stayed. My recommendation is checking out Boteco Da Garrafa, which I believe has multiple locations, so you can go in Copacabana or go to their location located within the city of Rio. What I loved about Rio was that all the restaurants had mainly outdoor seating. I mean, why not when the weather is 80s year round. We were there during their winter time and it was still 80s! If you’ve never had rodizio, then you have to go to a rodizio grill in Brazil. Try new foods, try new beverages (like guarana!)…oh and definitely try the caipirinhas! 

This was taken at the Boteco.

This was taken at the Boteco.

4. Go to a market/fair.

While we were there, we were lucky enough that the once a month Antique Fair in Lapa on Rua Do Lavradio was going on. It occurs on the first Saturday of every month. There were so many artisans and vendors with great crafts. My sister and I were on a budget so it was hard to choose! You can find other markets in Copacabana as well. Take a walk down the famed sidewalk of Copacabana and you’ll be bound to find one on the weekend. Another popular one is the Ipanema Hippie Fair which occurs every Sunday in Rio. This is a great time to find souvenirs to take back home. I also found great items to decorate my apartment with :) Antique Fair Lapa Brazil And that’s all that we had the time to do unfortunately. I really wanted to go to Ilha Grande, which is an island off the coast of Rio. Look at how beautiful this looks!  Ilha.Grande.640.5176Photo Source

The reason we couldn’t go is because it’s a full days excursion, and we tried to pack a lot of stuff into each day. I did find a lagoon that kind of looked like this, but I don’t know what the name was!! It’s by Sugarloaf. We stopped there to get some coconut water and dip our toes into the water. There was paddleboarding too which my sister begged me to do but I thought the water was too chilly. If someone knows where this is, tell me!


A photo posted by pattyrivas13 (@pattyrivas13) on

Now that I’m writing this post I want to go back there so bad. It really was so beautiful and I know there is so much more I need to see. 

If you decide to go, I highly suggest checking out Airbnb. We rented out an apartment which cost us way less than what a hotel one block away from the beach in Copacabana will cost. 

Have you been to Rio De Janeiro? Tell me what I need to go do next time!

Where is your favorite place you have traveled to recently?


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Things I Learned In South America

I’m back in the USA!! I can’t explain how good it felt to be flying into JFK after 3 weeks away from home. While I love visiting family in Paraguay, 3 weeks is a long time to be away from your bed and pets! :) I was homesick towards the end and more than ready to come home.

I am grateful that my family got to go away for 3 weeks, and visit Rio De Janeiro while we were down there. It was all an amazing experience and I really want to go back to Rio…2016 Olympics anyone?

Before I get into a few things I learned about South America, I wanted to share a few pictures from my trip:

Me and my siblings at the top of Sugarloaf (Pao De Acucar) with Copacabana in the background

Me and my siblings at the top of Sugarloaf (Pao De Acucar) with Copacabana in the background



Dinner in Copacabana…if you’re ever there check out Boteco Da Garrafa!


FIFA Fan Fest on the beach in Copacabana for the Brazil vs. Colombia game


Cousins in Paraguay :)

I’ll be posting all of my pictures in a Facebook album, so for those who want to see travel pics, I’ll link to it once I do.

Okay so here’s what I learned while on my trip about South America:

  • Ordering a coffee to them automatically means coffee with heated up milk (cafe con leche). Even when someone makes coffee for you in their home they heat up milk on the stove top to add to the coffee. I usually just add cold milk so my coffee isn’t too hot.
  • When saying hi and bye you need to kiss everyone on both cheeks…which makes for very long hellos and goodbyes.
  • Most younger people address older people by Tio or Tia (aunt or uncle) even if they aren’t related at all. This was weird for me because I would call someone by their name but my parents would insist I call them Tio or Tia.
  • In South America (except Chile from what I noticed in the airport), you don’t throw toilet paper in the toilet. You throw it into the garbage can next to the toilet. I’m sorry but I could not adjust to this! No clue why they do it like this…does not seem sanitary at all.
  • People in Rio are very nice and everyone says Bom Dia to you (good morning) as they pass you. They didn’t care that their city was overrun with tourists, they were still nice!

And the main thing I learned?

That I am grateful that my parents emigrated to the United States when I was 1. Going to another country, especially a third world country, makes you realize all the opportunities you have.

I realize the sacrifices my parents made by leaving their entire family and friends behind in Paraguay, and coming to the US to try to build a better life. Who knows where we would be had they not done that. They have some crazy stories from their earlier time here, which I’ll have to share at some point, because it really puts things into perspective.

Anyway, I’m happy to be back and am excited to get back to blogging and reading your posts as well!

Have you gone away for an extended period of time? Did you get homesick?

Are you going away this summer?


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