A Weekend in Cartagena

So after booking the trip to Medellin, Colombia, I kept hearing people talk about another city that wasn’t too far called Cartagena. Cartagena is a city to the north of Medellin with lots of history. The Walled City and the large fortress that protected the old city are still very prominent. When I found a flight on VivaColombia for only $49 roundtrip, I knew it would have to be added to my itinerary.

Prior to going, I’d received a lot of tips and everyone I talked to recommended we contact Alex Rocha if we wanted to truly get an authentic tour experience. We ended up doing two tours and a Chivas party bus with Alex. (Find him on Facebook)

Continue reading “A Weekend in Cartagena”

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Exploring Colombia – Guatapé & Medellin

I’ve now been in Colombia for two full days, yesterday a day trip to Guatapé and El Peñol and today was spent doing a walking tour of Medellin.

When looking for tours of Medellin, I came across Real Tours Medellin as the number one tour in the city. So not only was it listed in the top, it was also a free tour meaning you simply make a reservation, show up, and give a tip to the guide at the end, if you feel so inclined. They offer tours twice daily Monday through Friday.

I opted for a Friday morning tour and had to book my tour on Wednesday after 6pm ET since reservations open 1.5 days before.  Continue reading “Exploring Colombia – Guatapé & Medellin”

An Unexpected Solo Trip

Last fall, I booked a flight for my husband and I to go to Medellin, Colombia (yeah, yeah I know its history, but that was a long time ago) because Delta Airlines was having an amazing sale only $275 round trip. I’d been intrigued by Colombia for sometime and when the opportunity arose I pounced on it.

Fast forward to last week, my hubby tells me he’s no longer joining mOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAe on this long awaited journey due to unforeseen circumstances. At first I began to panic that all of this anticipation would be the biggest let down of my life. Okay I’m being a little dramatic but I’ve literally been looking forward to this trip for over 6 months so not going would have crushed my spirit.

Anyway, I had a decision to make, either cancel a trip I’ve been looking forward to for months or go on my own. Continue reading “An Unexpected Solo Trip”

When Did Traveling Become Elitist?

Over the past few years, I’ve notice a number of people making comments, mostly on social media, stating that people who travel are only doing so to show off.

The debates often go back and forth with many condemning those who enjoy being frequent travelers. What’s so wrong with taking full advantage of your vacation time? Americans are known for a lot of things and not using all of their vacation time is one of them.
Continue reading “When Did Traveling Become Elitist?”

Let’s Talk Guatemala

IMG_1261So let’s talk about Guatemala. Shortly after the holidays, it was the Tuesday after in fact, I came across an amazing deal. It was a flight to Guatemala City from Dulles (VA), for only $124 roundtrip, inclusive of fees. Yes, I said $124. I can’t even fly to New York for that, so who would have ever thought I could fly to another country that’s almost 2,000 miles away for that much.

After doing some research and connecting with others who purchased the same great deal, I decided staying in Antigua would make the most sense. Antigua is a city about 45 minutes from the Guatemala City airport and has a fairly significant expat population, didn’t learn that its population is about 40% expat until we were there. Since a few of us were going for the same long weekend, we decided to rent a house through AirBnB. We decided on Casa Colibri, a home in a gated area about a 10 minute walk to Parque Central or the central area of town.

We did so much during our short time there so I’ve listed everything below. Continue reading “Let’s Talk Guatemala”

I don’t travel for work, I work to travel

Every time I tell someone I’m traveling internationally, their first question is always “Are you traveling for work?” I work in nonprofit, so no I don’t travel internationally for work. Not that it’s impossible, but it would be highly unlikely.

When people ask me where I’m going and I say, Turkey, Guatemala, Morocco, etc., 9 times out of 10 I’m met with a why? It’s usually a why are you going there? And to those people I answer back, why not?

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Essaouira, Morocco

Even when I go out of the country, I get the same thing from strangers. Is it so hard to imagine someone wanting to go some place, where they have never been, just to go? Is it so wrong to want to see the world in my 30s before kids comes into the picture and traveling becomes a more arduous task? Continue reading “I don’t travel for work, I work to travel”

A Long Weekend in Panama

Let’s talk about Panama. I’d been thinking about taking a trip to Central America and narrowed it down to Panama, Costa Rica, and Honduras. I’d heard great things about all three but was undecided on which to choose. Literally no more than the day after having a conversation about the three countries, a deal popped up for Baltimore to Panama. I accepted that as my sign and booked my ticket.

Fast forward a month, and we arrived in Panama on a Friday evening severely delayed due to plane issues. We went to our hotel the American Trade Hotel which is centrally located in the Casco Viejo area of Panama City. The hotel offered old world charm with all of the modern conveniences. Continue reading “A Long Weekend in Panama”

Winter Holiday in Amsterdam

After a few days in Brussels, we took the train to Amsterdam. My advice, if first class is only a difference of say $20 definitely upgrade. First class included large, comfy assigned seats, a meal with wine, and free wifi.

We debated on going to the Heineken Experience but since I’m not a fan of beer, I figured House of Bols would be more my speed. It’s located near the Museumplein, the area where many of the larger museums are located. When you walked into the house, you begin a self-guide journey starting with the history of the brand.
The part I found the most interesting was the section where you sniff their over 30 types of liqueur and try to guess the flavor by scent. After exploring the house, there’s a kiosk that tells you which drink you would like based on a few very basic questions. The last step is the bar. Your tickets includes two full size cocktails, so you order one of the ones the machine suggests or have them make another cocktail with their many Bols liquers.

Continue reading “Winter Holiday in Amsterdam”

Belgium is So Much More Than Waffles

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Bruges, Belgium

A while back, Turkish Airlines offered an unbelievable buy one flight get the second for $1 deal for travel to select countries in Europe and Asia. Unfortunately, the deal really was too good to be true since the taxes were far higher than the cost of the flight itself. We still got a good deal nonetheless.

We (my retired Aunt and I) set our sights on two places in Europe that we’d never been to, Brussels, Belgium and Amsterdam, The Netherlands. With only three weeks to spare, I went to TripAdvisor to begin planning our week-long winter holiday in Europe.

Since Brussels is known for their chocolate I knew a tour and tasting were in order. Also, a tour to familiarize ourselves with the city and its rich history were number one on my list. Fortunately, I found a great tour through Viator that encompassed both. Continue reading “Belgium is So Much More Than Waffles”

Making The Most of Vacation Days

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February 2015 in Bruges, Belgium

People always ask me, how can I afford to travel so much? In this day and age, with flight deals galore, I ask them why not?

In 2015, I went to Belgium, The Netherlands, Italy, Morocco, and Panama, and only used 2 days of vacation. Yes, you read that correctly. During that time, I also traveled in the U.S. to several states, both for work and for pleasure.

For most of my career, I’ve worked places that require you to accrue vacation days each pay period versus starting the year off with them. While this system can prove to be challenging, especially if you want to travel earlier in the year during shoulder seasons, there are ways to maximize your time off. Continue reading “Making The Most of Vacation Days”