The World Cup of Drinks: 16 Countries, 16 Drinks

The World Cup of Drinks: 16 Countries, 16 Drinks
Written by PartyAroundTheWorld18


The World Cup in Russia is finished, and it has been a tournament to remember. In honor of the 16 teams that made it out of the group stage, we take a look at the drinks that define them. In other words, 16 countries, 16 drinks. Strap in as we’ll be taking you all around the planet for the World Cup of drinks.

The world cup of drinks
 

1. Uruguay – Grappamiel

Extremely popular in Uruguay is the grappamiel, which is a concoction that contains grappa, a fragrant, grape-based pomace brandy; spirits obtained from various grains; a sprinkling of honey, and some water.

 

 PhotoCredit: ristorant italiana magazine

PhotoCredit: ristorant italiana magazine

 

2. Portugal – Ginjinha

Ginjinha (or simply Ginja) is made by infusing ginja berries in aguardente, plus lots of sugar. It is often served in shots, with a berry at the bottom of the cup. For the best ginja, head on over to The Ginjinha Bar at Rossio, near the Teatro Nacional Doña Maria II. 

Read more about Ginjinha here

 

3. France – Mimosa         

 Photo Credit: https://www.liquor.com/recipes/mimosa/

Photo Credit: https://www.liquor.com/recipes/mimosa/

Champagne has long been a French favorite, and the idea to mix it with orange juice came from a bartender in The Hôtel Ritz Paris in the 1920’s. The result of this concoction is Mimosa, a tangy beverage often served during breakfast. 

 

4. Argentina – Fernet con Coca 
The liquor for all occasions in Argentinafernet is made from flower extracts and tastes like black licorice without any sugar. Downing pure fernet, therefore, can be bewildering for the first-time drinker. But mix it with Coke and throw in some ice and you’ve got fernet con coca, a tasty and refreshing beverage that is easy to digest.

Read more about Fernet here

 
 Photo Credit: Laylita's Recipes

Photo Credit: Laylita's Recipes

5. Brazil – Caipirinha                             
Brazil’s national drink is a sweet and refreshing cocktail made by mixing cachaça (sugarcane rum), sugar, and lime and often served with a wedge of lime. If you prefer a more fruity taste, you can opt for the caipifruta instead, which is basically the caipirinha plus crushed fresh fruits and ice. 

 
 Photo Credit: http://bsinthekitchen.com/the-paloma/

Photo Credit: http://bsinthekitchen.com/the-paloma/

6. Mexico – Paloma

Mexico is tequila country, so it comes as no surprise that its national drink — the Paloma — makes use of tequila. The Paloma is a mixture of tequila, grapefruit-flavored soda, and a lime wedge, and is served in a glass rimmed with salt. 

 
 Photo Credit: BuzzFeed

Photo Credit: BuzzFeed

7. Belgium – Black Russian

Created by the Belgian bartender Gustave Tops, the Black Russian is so named because it uses vodka, that popular Russian spirit. The Black Russian is a cocktail of 3 parts vodka and 2 parts coffee liqueur. 

 
 Photo Credit: Brick House

Photo Credit: Brick House

8. Japan – Sake         

Made by fermenting bran-less rice via a process akin to brewing beer, this Japanese rice wine is Japan's national drink, and it is often served in special occasions. Its taste is just the right tinge of sweet, bitter, and savory. 

          

 
 Image credit: Wikipedia

Image credit: Wikipedia

9. Spain – Sangria      

Sangria is a sweet wine punch made up of wine, chopped fruit, a splash of brandy for that proverbial kick, and either honey, sugar, syrup, or orange juice for that tinge of sweetness. Perfect for the hot Spanish weather. 

                 

 
 Photo credit: Wikipedia

Photo credit: Wikipedia

10. Russia – Beer

Russia’s beer is vastly underrated, and very affordable. Ladbrokes in a feature detailing the cost of being a World Cup fan state that authentic Russian beers can be had at £1.15 ($1.52) a pint. Foreign brands, on the other hand, are 100% more expensive, starting at £2.20 ($2.91) for a pint of the same size. That means $20 will get you more than enough Russian beer to celebrate a victory or mourn your nation’s dashed World Cup hopes, whatever the case may be. Worth trying, in particular, are Russian craft beers, and the Culture Trip has a list of some of the best.

 
 Photo credit: Wikipedia

Photo credit: Wikipedia

11. Croatia – Slivovitz

Made from distilled, fermented plum juice, Slivovitz is the national drink of Croatia, and it is a strong alcoholic drink that is very similar to brandy. A word of caution, though: Slivovitz is the strong stuff, so drink very moderately. 

 
 Photo Credit: Aligra Wine and Spirits

Photo Credit: Aligra Wine and Spirits

12. Denmark – Gammel Dansk

Gammel Dansk (Old Danish) is a bitter dram made from 28 different herbs and spices, and was created fairly recently despite what the name suggests. Again, a word of caution: This is strong stuff, as it is 38% alcohol. 

 

 
 Photo Credit: hg2 Magazine

Photo Credit: hg2 Magazine

13. Sweden – Brännvin

Distilled from potatoes and grain, Brännvin is usually plain and colorless, and certainly strong, with an alcohol content in the 30–38% range. A small glass filled with Brännvin is called snaps (from the German schnapps), and a shot is often accompanied by a drinking song known as snapsvisa.

 
Photo by rez-art/iStock / Getty Images
Photo by rez-art/iStock / Getty Images

14. Switzerland – Absinthe

Absinthe was once banned in Switzerland as low-grade varieties carried lots of negative side effects. But it has made a comeback, and you can sample the best absinthe at the Absinthe Trail where 16 distilleries are waiting for you. 

 
 Photo Credit: Sweet Paul Mag

Photo Credit: Sweet Paul Mag

15. Colombia – Aguardiente                        
By far Colombia's go-to drink, aguardiente, the Colombian version, is derived from sugarcane and flavored with aniseed. Its alcohol content hover right around 29%, and the most popular brand is Antioqueño. 

 
 Photo Credit: Good House Keeping

Photo Credit: Good House Keeping

16. England – Gin and Tonic

Leave it to the Brits to make a medicine more palatable by turning it into the highball cocktail we now know as gin and tonic. Made up using tonic water — whose quinine component was once used by the British East India Company to prevent malaria —and gin, then poured over ice, the iconic G and T is traditionally served with a slice or wedge of lime, which is usually squeezed lightly into the drink. 
 

 

The World Cup may be over, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't consider Russia as your next destination. You can still use our budget tips on Russia, as these will help any future travelers thinking of visiting this great country. Furthermore the next time you are abroad in one of the above countries we hope that you sample their world-famous drink, and toast their success or failure at this year’s World Cup.

 

Cheers!!

"Live a Better Life"-documentary featuring travel director Karl Rhainds

This 20-minute documentary short introduces Karl Rhainds, an independent director on a quest to live a better life. In order to find his greater purpose, Karl quits his job as a director in a large company and takes off traveling for 6 months through several countries. While on this adventure, he encounters many inspiring people, exploring his query with them in an effort to understand their vision of what makes a happy life.

Check out more work by this great filmmaker on his blog Rain & Sunshine

Girls Gone Camping. How my friends and I accidentally crashed the Rainbow Gathering Party

Mt. Shasta, Rainbow Gathering 2017.

I went on my first camping trip with my husband and his family when I was in my mid 20's. My family, who still lives in Poland, was never into sleeping in tents, but as I later found out, I was. Unlike my family, my husband's American family goes camping at least once a year. Their garage is like an REI store, full of camping gear and they have extras of everything. What they call a camping meal, is better than what I ever make at home in a real kitchen, and I am not even a bad cook. We always have plenty of great wine, the perks of living in California and beers, an essential of camping. We tell stories by the fire, listen to live music and play hide and seek in the pitch dark of the night. After a few of these trips, I finally got the confidence I could camp on my own. I invited two of my girlfriends from San Francisco, and we headed on a camping adventure, not knowing what was to come... 

First of all, I never thought three girls could bring more shit with them than a family of 15. By the time we finished loading our stuff in the car, there was barely any space for my friends. We managed to get on the road by 11am, instead of our planned 8 am departure. We headed out towards Mt. Shasta, a beautiful mountain in Northern California that's very popular amongst hikers and hippies from around Cali. 

The First Contact

It was a warm late afternoon, when we stopped to check the availability at the first campground. It was fully booked, and the rest of the nearby campsites either had no bathroom, running water or we just missed the last spot. Of course, we didn't make any reservations in advance because online it looked like there were plenty of campsites. We decided to drive about 40 minutes up the road, to the last campground at the base of the mountain. As we raced towards our destination, the sun was setting and the cold wind blowing from the mountain was signaling the cold night ahead. Our journey came to a screetching halt when we reached a barrier blocking the road. All three of us in the car read the sign out loud, spelling it slowing syllable by syllable, like a preschooler "RO-A-D CL-O-SED", followed by an adequately appropriate adult response, "FUUUUCK!!!". Apparently, the road and the campsite ahead were closed due to the cold weather and snow still lying on the ground. We felt devastated and as we were about to drive off to the nearest town, just a few yards from the road we spotted some people in the woods, who clearly had been camping there. They explained that we could pick any spot that we wanted and could camp there as long as we wanted. No fees or reservations were required and as a bonus, dry bathrooms near the parking lot. Free for all? Well that was good enough for us, plus returning to look for another camp so late was out of the question. With the last remaining light, we quickly set up our tent and started a fire. We sat comfortably near the warmth, passing a bottle of Capitan Morgan and laughing how lucky we were. In the distance, somebody with an angelic voice was singing "The Dog Days Are Over", and after drinking a bottle of Cpt. Morgan, we didn't need much encouragement to introduce ourselves to the neighbors. We climbed over a deep ditch and we saw about 50 plus hippies (perhaps our drunken double vision multiplied them...) dancing around a huge bonfire. It is not often that you see a group of 50 people camping together, but having been to Burning Man before, this gathering looked totally normal to me.

 

The Glorious Morning

"We love you..., we love you..." is what I consider a strange wake up call, especially when you wake up hungover and are trying to figure out why the hell you are in the forrest before you remember it was your idea to connect with nature. I crawled over my friends to unzip the tent and saw a bunch of naked people making this commotion. My girlfriends woke up just in time to hear the nudists calling everyone in the forest to come for coffee and oatmeal. No questions asked. We grabbed our coffee cups, stripped naked, and ran to join the nudists, at their campsite. Just kidding. We didn't take our clothes off but we DID join them for coffee! Everything and everybody looked different in the daylight. What appeared to be a dance floor around a bon fire the night before, was a kitchen area with a huge pot of slushy oatmeal cooking over a firepit in a large medieval pot. A lovely man dressed only in his birthday suit with a friendly smile, served us some coffee and was kind enough to answer our many questions. What seemed to us like a bunch of hippies camping in the woods, were in fact the Rainbow Family and apparently, we just crashed their annual gathering in the woods (technically they were on their way to a much bigger festival). For the next 3 days, the Rainbow Family and the three of us girls, became good friends. 

Somewhere over the Rainbow

The Rainbow movement started in the 70's, and somehow I'd never heard of them before. In my defense, I grew up in communist Poland and we didn't get the memo... The Rainbow gathering is now a worldwide project and the "family" meets once a year, each time in a different place but alway close to nature. The general movement carries a beautiful message of love, peace and creativity. The Rainbow People believe that the mass media, and our culture that's dominated by capitalism, creates an unhealthy and unnatural life style. The movement went through many changes since its start, for example it's not as strict on being vegetarian as it used to be, and it's more open to mainstream ideology but the general idea of love and peace is still at its core. Of all the places we could have camped, we just happened to be there, to learn and participate in this interesting event. Nudism... peace... parties... drugs... nature... What's not to love???

Out of respect, we didn't take any photos of the Rainbow people, but imagine a bunch of people looking like a cross between The Kelly Family and The Rednex bands. Although many were naked, most were wearing something in the boho, grungy style. 

We thanked them for the coffee and went back to our campsite. A few minutes after, we heard some people getting in an argument about the sanitation and clothing rules around the kitchen, which was to be discussed during a circle meeting, a type of hippy a conference. 

Over the next couple of days, the Rainbow people frequently stopped by to chat, or to trade various goods. We traded some of our "adult" gummies for "magic rocks". When they said "magic rocks", we were hoping for something more than literal rocks, as we have yet to find their magic... oh well...

We also met some odd characters. A strange male visitor, dressed all in camoe clothes came to our camp with a huge white dog. The interaction started normal and quickly became a bit scary, when he started talking about secret passages in the Bible warning of the End of Days. Also its not the best idea to pick up chicks while you wear cameo clothes because you look like you might be hunting them instead...

Luckily, there was no armageddon that night, but we did dance till the break of dawn at the coolest dance party with an old school bus, DJ, and laser lights, all in a parking lot overlooking Mt. Shasta with its white peak, shining in the moonlight. I don't know what your summer plans are, but I sure am going camping in Shasta again this year!

Cheers!

 

Chasing the Sun with Peter and Michelle. A story of two expats who have been living the dream life on a small island in Cambodia.

One of our favorite things about traveling is meeting new people on the road. But lets face it, most backpackers are in their 20's, and we are waaaayyy older than that. When people find out our age, they always ask us about kids. Nate and I have been together for nearly 14 years, and we decided a long time ago, that having kids was not our lifetime goal. Even some of our friends, and family back home can’t understand why a "healthy" couple would choose to live childfree. The answer is simple: Not everyone wants to have kids!

I recall the time, when we used to live in LA. Every year our circle of friends with no kids became smaller. Friends, we could hang out with and do adult things like day drinking and vegging out on Sundays. Sorry, parents. We still love you, but your sexy stroller, baby and bottomless mimosas just don't pair well. Prove me wrong, but somebody might call child services on you.

The reality was hitting us harder everyday and we decided to do what every other adult couple in their late 30's would do. We sold our belongings, packed our backpacks and well, ran away. 

This is a story dedicated to those who love to wander the world, to the powerful women that prove that having kids is not their only role in life...and to the believers in unicorns!

Michelle +Peter

When we arrived in Cambodia and met Michelle and Peter, a couple much older than us, living a nomadic life style for more that 25 years, without kids, we felt like we found two unicorns. We needed to capture them (at least in pictures), and share their story with the rest of the world.

Maybe it was the 4 hour long boat ride from the mainland to Koh Rong island, or the homemade Baileys that Michelle welcomed us with at the restaurant, but I (Marta) felt immediately connected to her. She was extremely nice, happy and she was just the right person to be greeted by.

I assumed she was in her 50's. Every time I spent time around Michelle I was wondering if she had any kids of her own. I fell into the same stereotype that I hated so much, where people assume that a woman obviously has kids. One day, I finally got the courage to ask her about it, and to my "relief" I found out not only that Michelle didn't have any kids, but she also is like me and she never wanted to have them.

I realized that I had much more in common with this woman than with most women I meet. We both loved Baileys and don't want kids! Like Michelle, I also have always been very career driven and loved working. Michelle is responsible for overseeing the house keeping staff at the resort, amongst many other miscellaneous jobs. 

 

From Germany and England to Africa

In 1964, a 20 year old Peter moved from Germany to Zimbabwe, to work in a refinery. He said, “it was an exciting time to make money quickly there” and as a young guy, he grabbed the bull by its horns. He said that he was able to afford a new car after only working at his new job for only 3 weeks. Peter recalled, “I was so proud to buy my first car and there was only one problem… I didn’t know how to drive.” Luckily, his two colleagues were former taxi drivers, and taught him how. Peter said, “It took them the whole night to teach me how to reverse and drive forward and the next morning, only driving 20 miles, I drove to home.”

Peter was quickly promoted at work to a CEO, and was making great money. He married his first wife and had 2 kids, but his family soon fell apart. He admitted the reason his first marriage failed was because he was a workaholic, and wasn’t a good father or husband.                                                   

Michelle is originally from England. She moved to South Africa, with her parents when she was a teenager. Around 1991, a grown Michelle lived with two roommates, one of whom worked for Peter. The roommate decided to set Michelle and Peter up on a blind date. 

At that point Peter was in his 40’s, and although his career was at its peak, his romantic life was pretty much non existent. Michelle on the other hand was a brilliant, young woman with dreams of her own. She wasn’t exactly looking for the company of another man, but she agreed to go out on a bind date that her roommate arranged. Despite the 18 years of age difference, the two clicked right away. They were a great match because they both had similar passions for traveling and neither of them wanted to have kids. Disclaimer: Peter had already fathered two kids with his first wife, but Michelle made it clear that it wasn’t her dream to ever become a mother.

One morning some years later, as usual, Peter was making tea in the kitchen when he saw a blooming rose outside the kitchen window in the garden. At that moment, Peter decided he wanted to propose to Michelle. While Michelle was still in bed, he served her the freshly brewed tea, with the rose in his mouth, and for a final touch of romanticism, he was completely butt naked. But as he bent his knee he saw how surprised Michelle was, and at the last minute he chickened out turning the whole thing into a joke. Peter said that from that moment on, he knew in his heart that he wanted to be married to her but he was afraid of rejection.

Finally on June 4th 1999, they both decided to get married. There was no formal proposal, it just happened naturally and mutually. Their wedding was small (only 5 people), but it was perfect and it didn’t cost them anything. There was no big dress and fancy diamond rings. Michelle wore white pants and a top she borrowed from her friend. Their only wedding gift was a honeymoon vacation from all their friends at work.

“Home is where I put my head on the pillow”

Some time after their wedding, Michelle and Peter both got tired of their corporate life and decided to follow their passion of traveling. They both wanted to work in hotel service. Michelle took a job as a head of service in a hotel in Cape Town, and Peter was pursuing a career as a professional chef.

Eventually South Africa became too dangerous as crime was rising, and after losing too many friends to that very crime, in 2000 the two decided to move to Scotland, where they worked in a castle and later on, they managed a pub near Liverpool. They also went to the Butler Academy to become professional butlers.

After a while, they get got sick of the dreary weather in Scotland, and decided to find some sunshine. With the last of their money, they bought an old Audi at an auction for 400 pounds. The car wouldn't start shortly after they bought it, but somehow they managed to drive it all the way to Spain.

In Costa del Sol, they bought a local newspaper and found an ad: “an a English man and his dog looking for management to look after him and his villa.” They applied and got the jobs right away! They worked for him for 2 years.

Their jobs were always exciting and sometimes even dangerous. While working for an American businessman in Granada, they discovered that his bookkeeper was fudging the books. There was a lot of hostility towards Americans in Granada during that time and the newspaper quickly picked up the sensational story about “an American, who hired two South Africans to help with his shady business”. Michelle and Peter were held hostage in the house where they worked, but luckily a local friend helped them to escape potential jail time or even death. They fled in a boat and hid there till it was safe to buy a flight to Venezuela.

Nowadays, Michelle and Peter are living quietly in Cambodia on the small island of Koh Rong. Besides their work at the resort, they also run a small school for kids from the nearby village. They teach young kids the basic subjects: English, geography, math and train the older teenagers to work in the hospitality business.

When I asked them how long they will stay in Koh Rong, their answer was, "how long is a piece of string”? and that was followed with, “we are not planning on a family, so instead we are just committing ourselves to each other. We don’t have to prove anything anymore. We are trying to help other people to achieve their goals”.

Meanwhile The Tipsy Gypsies are currently still traveling the world, staying in cheap hotels, eating street food and measuring time by "beer o'clock". You might be at home, cooking dinner or cuddling with your kids. We clearly live our lives differently but no matter what you do or where you are in your life, with or without kids,  I want you to remember: Never stop chasing your "sun"!!!

GET TIPSY ON: PERUVIAN MOONSHINES & SPIRITS

Of all of the Latin American countries, apparently Peru has the highest consumption of moonshines, which is why we loved this country so much! Go Peru! The national Peruvian beer, Cosqueña is very good, but we always try to find what the locals are drinking and we are proud to share it here with you.

Peru couple, www.thetipsygypsies.net

 

1. Pisco

Let's starts with the drink most Peruvians are very proud of - Pisco. Pisco is a strong alcohol, usually more than 40% proof, made from grapes. It's no wine, so if you think you can sip a glass of Pisco in the afternoon and not get wasted, you are wrong. Peru and Chile have a bit of a rivalry about this liquor and constantly argue who invented it. Although after visiting Chile and talking to them about it, they give Peru full credit for inventing Pisco. There is even a town in Peru called Pisco, where supposedly this sprit originated. It's very interesting to visit this place and learn how Pisco is made.

How to drink Pisco?

You can enjoy a shot of Pisco by itself, or like most Peruvians you can order either a Pisco Sour or Pisco Chilcano (recipe below)

Chilcano
2 oz Pisco
10 oz ginger ale
half a lime

2 drops of Angostura bitters Ice

Instructions: In a tall glass, add ice, pisco, squeeze the lime and top it with some ginger ale. Add the bitters at the end. Cheers!

 

2. Chicha

Drinking chicha in Peru is like drinking water. Chicha is made from fermented corn and is often called a Peruvian beer. A lot of people make it at home as it's a part of the Peruvian diet and consumed daily. Fresh chicha is not very strong, it has only about 1-2% alcohol and is commonly drank with food and even served to kids. The tricky part if finding chicha because it not sold in restaurants. If you want to drink some chicha look for a house, where you see a stick with a plastic bag or sometimes a colored cloth, attached to its end.  

 This house sells chicha! 

This house sells chicha! 

 A typical Peruvian kitchen with guinea pigs being raised in a household. They will eventually end up on a plate :(

A typical Peruvian kitchen with guinea pigs being raised in a household. They will eventually end up on a plate :(

3. Abejado

In northern Peru, you can find a moonshine called Abejado. This moonshine is made from sugar cane and flavored with real honey. Abejado moonshine is even stronger than Pisco and you want to drink it as fast as you can since you will feel a small burning sensation in your throat as you drink it.

Other moonshines popular in norther Peru are: Zauco - elderberry and rum, and Cańaso - pure sugar cane alcohol. All of these moonshines can be found in local grocery stores made by their owners.

Please be careful consuming any moonshines and do so at your own risk. Moonshines can be distilled wrong which can sometimes lead to poisoning or death. We always try to verify the source before we consume anything, but even that is not 100% guaranteed.

 

4. Cervezeria del Valle Sagrado

One of the best artisanal breweries we have tried in Peru is located in the Sacred Valley. Make sure to stop by at the Cervezeria del Valle Sagrado to try their beers. These guys know what they are doing and these beers are delicious!

Cerveceria del Valle Sagrado, Peruvian Artisanal brewery www.thetipsygypsies.net
Peruvian Artisanal brewery www.thetipsygypsies.net
 Peruvian Artisanal brewery

Peruvian Artisanal brewery

Cheers!!

 
the tipsy gypsies peruvian moonshines
 

How This Frugal Couple Booked a Trip to FIFA World Cup on Points and Miles

Guest post by FBZ Elite and Travel Points

FBZ elite travel and points

My wife and I are well-versed in traveling for cheap – in fact, it’s kind of our thing. Using points and miles, we’ve been fortunate enough to visit over 57 countries without forking over a lot of cash.

Now, we’re on our way to the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia using points and miles and couldn’t be happier! Seeing this part of the world has been on our bucket list for a while and we’re excited to explore it.

As for total costs, we’re planning to spend less than $900 in total.

Now I know what you might be thinking, and you’re right! Attending the World Cup usually costs a small fortune (somewhere in the ballpark of $5,000 or more) but since we travel almost exclusively on credit card rewards, we never spend that type of money.

Plus, it helps that we like to explore off the beaten path.

It’s takes time to learn how to travel around the world on points and miles, but for us, the time invested is completely worth it.


I want to share some of the details of our trip with you, but before I jump in, I think it’s important to mention – if we can do this, anyone can do this. Traveling on points and miles isn’t rocket science, but having the right resources to learn what you’re doing can go a long way.

Here’s what I estimate we’re saving:

  • Airport Parking – $96 (friends will drop us off/pick us up)

  • Flights – $3,2000

  • Entry Visas - $320

  • Transportation - $200

  • Hotels - $400

  • Total savings = $4,216

 

Finding Flights

Our flights could have cost $3,200 altogether, but after redeeming a stash of American Airlines Miles, we paid around $225 out of pocket (taxes and fees).

We always fly economy to keep costs low. And, since American Airlines offers economy Award Saver tickets (tickets purchased with points) from the West Coast to Europe, I focused my search on finding airfare to Europe to start.

Booking Flights

After narrowing down our dates, we booked our tickets to Poland because it offers two easy layovers and helped us avoid some large fuel surcharges.

Here’s my valuation of the flights we booked – I was happy to be able to book them for over 2.5 cents/point.

$1,400 (flights value) - $23.76 (10% instantly credit back to my rewards credit card) = $1,376.24/54,000 miles = $.025xx/point

In case you’re curious, here’s a step-by-step walkthrough of how we found the flight deal, along with some other details.

My wife and I each earned 60,000 miles from signing up for the AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard and earning the signup bonuses (we both signed up).

Poland to Russia On Points

After booking our flights from the U.S. to Poland, I worked on finding airfare from Poland to Russia.

One of my favorite resources to use is Momondo because it features a +/- 3 day search feature, which in this case, scored us flights to St. Petersburg from Krakow for under $200 one-way.

Since we had already decided to take a train from Gdansk to Krakow to explore along the way, this option was perfect for us.

For round-trip, these flights came out to just over $600, which we paid for using points from my Capital One Venture card. It’s not a credit card that’s often top of mind for a lot of travelers, but in my opinion, it’s a solid card to have around. You can easily redeem points by making any travel-related purchase with the card and then “erase” the expense on your account.

World Cup Visas (For Free)

Our visas could have cost $320 ($160 each), but since we have FAN IDs for the World Cup, our visa fees were waived! We put the savings towards buying our soccer match tickets.

Usually, the visa process for Americans entering into Russia can be difficult and expensive, so we really lucked out on this one. We learned from a Russian couple we met in India that people heading to the World Cup would receive waived visa requirements by the Russian Federation.

Buying World Cup Tickets

World Cup match tickets start at $105 and using the money saved from the visas, we purchased tickets to watch England vs. Tunisia for $105 each. The cost was further justified since transportation is included in the cost (more on this in a bit).

After our tickets were issued and sent via email, which took a few hours, we registered our FAN IDs which entitles us to a Russian Visa upon arrival, plus free public transportation between the cities hosting World Cup matches.

We’re planning to use the free public transit a lot, and already have plans to visit and explore Moscow during our trip!

Where We’re Staying

Going along with our philosophy of traveling for less, we don’t typically spend a lot of money on high-end hotels. Since it’s our first time in Russia, however, I wasn’t sure what to expect as far as hotel rates go – especially during peak season.

Reading through reviews on Tripadvisor led us to the Original Sokos Hotel Olympia Garden at $51 per night. It’s in a good, walkable location, close to the airport and railway stations, and offers free Wi-Fi.

We booked the hotel using Chase Ultimate Rewards Points directly through the Chase Travel Portal.

Getting Around Russia


Since free public transportation is included with the match tickets we bought, getting around should be a breeze.

Our T-Mobile ONE plan offers unlimited text and data (yes, even abroad) and we’ll use Google Maps to help us navigate to wherever we want to go.

Getting Home on Points

We haven’t fully booked our flights home yet, but purposely chose a longer, windy route to stretch our trip across a few more place we’ve wanted to visit. Thankfully, booking one-way tickets using points typically costs the same as booking a round-trip ticket, so it’s easy to plan out each step of your route without paying more.

So far, we’ll be flying from St. Petersburg to Estonia and then make our way up to Prague for a few days.

From there, we’ll fly American Airlines from Prague to Washington D.C. using my wife’s stash of 60,000 miles earned with her AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard.

These flights cost us 54,000 miles plus about $186 in taxes and fees. Taxes and fees are higher since we couldn’t flight flights avoiding the U.K., which usually has higher fees.
From Washington D.C., we’ll travel around the East Coast for two weeks, then jump on a Southwest flight home to Portland for $5.60, thanks to the Southwest Companion Pass I earned earlier this year.

Is Russia Safe For American Tourists?

People have asked us if we’re crazy for traveling to Russia. Our answer? We’re super excited! The ease of booking the trip helps as well. The fact is, we’ll probably spend less than $900 on this one in a lifetime event and that makes the minimal risk worth it to us.


If you’d like to follow along on our trip, we’ll be posting a lot of pictures in the FBZ Elite - Travel and Points Community. Hope to see you there!

TEMPLE OF THE SUN & MOON

We had a private tour of the amazing Temple of the Sun & Moon in Trujillo, Peru. No one had any interest in excavating these important archeological sites until private funding came along in recent years. They’re still restoring and discovering new things here although a lot was lost to colonial treasure hunters centuries ago. The Temple of the Moon was used primarily for religious purposes including human sacrifice and has these beautiful colorful reliefs throughout. The before and afters of this project are pretty amazing. You never would have known any of this was here...

DESTINATION: North of Peru

We've recently had the pleasure of traveling in Peru for the second time. On our first trip to this country, in 2017 we toured mostly the south, which is the more common tourist route. This time we visited the lesser known parts and sites in the north of Peru. Here are some highlights from our trip.

the tipsy gypsies

If you are the type of a person, who loves archeological sites you will enjoy this area of Peru. We recommend getting a good guide, which is essential when visiting many archeological sites mentioned in this post, since most of them don't have proper signage. If you go on your own, you will not learn the history of these ancient cities and powerful civilizations. There is enough information about Machu Picchu you can read prior to visiting, but some of the archeological sites in the northern parts of Peru that we talk about, didn't have any signage at all. So again, hire a guide in an advance! 

 

Kuelap, "A city in the clouds"

Kuelap is often called the Machu Picchu of the North, but unlike in Machu Picchu you won't find crowds of tourists here... yet. This ancient city, located in the cloud forest of the Amazonas in Peru, was built in the 6th century, by the Chachapoyas. Later this culture was conquered by the Incas, and you can see the differences between these cultures, in the architecture built by these different inhabitants. The Chachapoyas used ciricular shaped designs to build their homes, versus the Incas structures, which were more rectangular. Many dwellings were designed with reliefs mimicking the surrounding nature, like jaguars and snakes as well as geometric shapes. In its glory, approximately 3,000 people lived here. The are three narrow entrances to the city, surrounded by a 10-20 meter high wall, suggesting that the Chachapoyas were warriors prepared for invaders. This site, like many others in Peru was abandoned with the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors in the 16th century, only 70 years after they were conquered by the Incas.

Kuelap, Peru, The tipsy gypsies

Nowadays, you can reach this site by a short and comfortable 20 minute gondola ride, over a deep valley to the top of a misty hill, which adds even more mystery to this beautiful site.  But it wasn't always so easy to get here. It used to take a full day to get here, first driving for hours on a treacherous road, barely hanging on the cliff, following a steep hike up the hill. We are predicting that as word spreads about this site, it will be as popular as Machu Picchu, so hurry up to beat the crowds and visit before it gets too busy. It is spectacular!

Peru, The Tipsy Gypsies
Peru, the tipsy gypsies
 

Gocta Falls 

A nice hike throughout a lush forest to a spectral waterfall. It takes about 5 hours in total to hike this trail, with a lot of elevation, but the view at the end is totally worth it. A lot of people choose to hire horses, but we think if you are healthy it's not an extremely difficult hike. Yes, there are some steep hills, especially on the way back, but take your time and you will be glad you did it without any help.

The Tipsy Gypsies
www.thetipsygypsies.net
 

Revash

This archeological site, with small miniature houses carved in a cliff, is actually a mausoleum of the Chachapoyas people, also known as the Cloud Warriors. There isn't much information about the Chachapoyas besides the artifacts founds in their settlements. The early written records by the Spanish describe them as white skinned and tall people, which may suggest that these people were Caucasian descendants, perhaps Vikings. Some records suggests that the Vikings reached South America way before the Spanish, in 1000 AD. The life of the Chachapoyas and this site remain a mystery to this day.

Revash, The Tipsy Gypsies
 

Cajamarca

A town in the highlands of Northern Peru, with typical Spanish colonial architecture. It's most famous for the Cajamarca battle, and capturing of the Inca emperor Atahualpa. You can visit the ransom room where Atahualpa was captured and held. On the wall of his cell, you can see the mark from his hand. The Spanish told Atahualpa to hold his hand strait above his head and said that if the room was filled with gold to reach it, he would be freed. The room was filled with treasures and gold but unfortunately for the Atahualpa, the Spanish conquistadors did not keep their promise and murdered him.

www.thetipsygypsies.net
Peru, the tipsy gypsies
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Leymebamba

We stopped here for lodging and to rest overnight before we reached our next destination. Leymebamba is known for its great museum, with over 200 mummies on display. We stayed at a beautiful hotel, across the museum, where you can watch hummingbirds from your porch. 

 Ketikambo Lodge, Leymebamba, Peru

Ketikambo Lodge, Leymebamba, Peru

 

Trujillo

A relaxing beach town on the coast of northern Lima. It's a popular stop for people who want to explore the nearby archeological sites, and backpackers enjoy the always sunny weather. Near the pier you can find beach front restaurants, bars and if you are lucky there will be some kind of performance. We saw a couple performing the traditional Marinera dance.

Peru, The Tipsy Gypsies
 

Chan Chan, Sun Sun

Is the largest pre-Columbian city in South America, and if we remember correctly from our tour, only about 5% of the site has been excavated. This abandoned city was completely covered, and some parts still are by the sands, unknown that it ever existed. Chan Chan city was built and occupied by the Chimu culture, and like many other civilizations in Peru they were also conquered by the Incas. The Chimu people were mostly fisherman and you can see many aquatic decorations incorporated in the thick adobe walls.

www.thetipsygypsies.net
www.thetipsygypsies.net
 

Huacas de Moche

Huacas de Moche is a complex of temples: Huaca de La Luna and Huaca del Sol, built by the Moche civilization, before the arrival of the Incas.

Huaca de La Luna, aka the Moon Temple looks like something out of this world, hence the name Temple of the Moon. This is a huge site, and archeologists have been working here for more that 20 years now, excavating the site. The most difficult process about excavating this temple is its structure, which is build like a Russian doll. In other words, imagine a layer or walls that were built around the first temple, expanding outwards. Nobody knows how many walls reaches the center. We asked our guide why the Moche built it that way, and she explained that they believed temples live and age like people and when they get old they need to rest and they get buried.

Since the climate in these parts is so dry, the drawings are very well preserved. We stopped at a site where our tour guide told us a crazy story. When she was starting as a young guide, she guided 3 older ladies from England. During the tour the 3 ladies stopped near a small mountain of sand and started to cry and prey. When the guide asked them what happened they responded that one day she will find out why this spot was so important! The guide thought to herself that all white people are crazy and she carried on. Fast forwards a few years, the archeologist uncovered a burial with sacrificed bodies that nobody knew was there, in the exact spot where the old ladies were praying. Yes, the ancient civilization in Peru, were the ones that sacrificed many people, children and even animals. Nobody was speared, sorry spared!

www.thetipsygypsies.net

Have you been to Peru? If so what are your favorite places in Peru? Leave us a comment below.

Cheers!

GET TIPSY ON: FERNET

Although Fernet is not originally an Argentinian liquor, it is widely popular there. It's probably due to the large influx of Italian's in Argentina during the 80's that to this day, it is the most popular alcoholic drink in this country.

Fernet is a bitter, made with a variety of herbs and spices, and it is often served as a digestive after food, and also mixed with coffee. There are many bands and flavors, but the most popular in Argentina is Fernet-Branca. Interestingly enough fernet was allowed during prohibition times in America since it was considered a bitter and not an alcohol.

How to drink Fernet?

Fernet is often served mixed with Coca-cola. The sweetness of Coca-cola balances well the bitterness of Fernet. Fernet has a very strong, herby distinct taste and you will either love it or hate it. A lot of people say that Fernet reminds them of medicine, which it kind of is. 

If you are in the States, especially in the Bay Area you will see people drinking Fernet as a shot and chasing it with ginger ale. In fact, one of our friends introduced us to a mint flavored Fernet in San Fransico and we have been drinking it ever since. 

Fernet, cocktail-www.thetipsygypsies.net

USA Road Trip: From California to Montana

california to montana road trip with the tipsy gypsies

Maybe we have seen too many US road trips movies like "Lost in America", "National Lampoon's Vacation" or "Dumb & Dumber", but there is nothing better than packing your car and going on a fun adventure across America. You will be surprised how different people are across the states and the changing landscapes will keep you in constant awe. Instead of paying for an expensive ticket to some tropical paradise, we want to encourage you pack your tent and visit these three National Parks in the States this Summer: Teton, Glacier, and Yellowstone. Hopefully you will come home inspired to see more of this beautiful country.

Gear up! What to pack for a camping trip? 

We are assuming you will be camping, but if that is not your cup of tea, skip this part straight to the fun stuff!

All you need for this camping trip are some basics. We know that some people can get overwhelmed by camping, especially if it's more than for one night. We want to reassure you that you don't need an RV or a trailer, although it would be nice, to go on a long term camping trip, and by long term camping, we mean more than 3 days. By the way this roadtrip from California to Montana and back too us 17 days, and it included adding some extra miles to see friends in Idaho.

The Tipsy Gypsies did not always camp, but we've always been around pros that showed us how to do it. The difference between us and pro campers is that we actually don't own any fancy camping gear, especially sine we sold most of our stuff to travel the world. It takes time and money to collect all the cool camping gear, but you can easily do it with just the bare minimum like we did. You will be surprised how little you need. Let's get to it!

Camping gear essentials for your trip: 

  • Tent REI ( Half dome- Having a good tent is important. You don't want to wake up in the middle of the night in a pool of water and you want to sleep comfortably. This tent is designed for 4 people, so you can imagine its a very specious tent for 2 people.
  • Stove - we bought a gas camping stove for like $20 from Walmart on our road trip.
  • Cooking gear - pots (2), a pan, knives etc... whatever you fancy
  • Sleeping bags - no name brand, they cost us about $30 each. We've had them for years, but honestly we got a bit chilly during the night in Montana (35 F temp). So if you can, it's better to invest in a good quality sleeping bag, which should last you "forever". 
  • Sleeping pads - we like the ones that are a bit more bulky, which are super comfortable for sleeping, but they do take a lot of space in your car.
  • Cooler - where else are you going to keep your cold beer?)
  • Battery powered lamp - gotta have some night light

Now that you have all you need for this epic journey, let's hit the road Jack!


 

Vegas

On our way from Central Cal, we stopped in Vegas first.  Mostly because we had to, but also because Vegas is awesome! We love the enormous sugary Margaritas, all you can eat buffets, cigarette smoked casinos. There is no one right way to do Vegas. It is whatever you want it to be, as long as you are up for some fun. Vegas is for the wild bachelorette parties, all-dude reunions crashing the bachelorette parties, but also for parents with kids that want to hang out by the pool. When we get old we will be one of those 90 year old couples sitting by the slot machines, spiking their watered down cocktails with a whisky from a personal flask.

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But there is more to Vegas than wild parties and drinking, the shows are absolutely incredible. We have seen all the Cirque du Soleil shows, and we get excited whenever there is a new production. There is also "great" music: Britney, Jlo, Mariah and the list goes on. Vegas is also a foodie destination. You can go to some of the most exclusive restaurants, where the meals are as much as your rent, but there are also awesome all you can eat buffets, "where you get your bucks back". Our favorite is this Indian buffet, Tambo located on the main strip. We eat there every time we are in Vegas.

The are also some fun attractions a bit outside of vegas: helicopter tours, the Salvation Mountain is very popular or the Neon Museum, where the old neon signs from vegas, once in their glory, rest in the desert. We should have mentioned this earlier but on the way from California to Vegas, along the route 66, is this incredible bottle ranch, called Elmer's Bottle Tree ranch, that you need to check out! 

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Wyoming:

Grand Teton National Park

According to the NPS website, the first humans to settle in the Jackson valley and the Teton range were the Nomadic-Pale Indians, who came here more than 11,000 years ago.  Later other Native American tribes followed and settled here to hunt, fish and farm. The first Euro-Americans explorers didn’t arrive till the early 1800’s. They were mostly trappers and mountain men looking to get wealthy by hunting for beaver fur, which was high in demand during that time. With time more Americans started arriving to settle in the area, establishing homes, farms and cattle ranches. The land was difficult to farm due to the rocky, sandy terrain and the climate: long cold winters, and hot dry summers. Needles to say, life on the ranch was not easy, till the wealthy Easterners started to arrive to the West, wanting to experience the “cowboy” life and admire the magnificent mountain views. The locals quickly realized that they could charge them for food and lodging, which turned out to be more profitable and easier than growing crops and raising cattle. The newcomers were nicknamed “dudes” and “dudenes”, and the cattle ranches that provided lodging and food became known a “dude ranch”. Even today, when you drive around these mountains you will see the signs hanging over the ranches gates, “Dude Ranch”.

the tipsy gypsies

The Grand Teton Park is absolutely beautiful and it's a great place for camping and hikers. Although most of the national parks in the U.S like Yellowstone or Yosemite are extremely busy during the high season, the GTNP has slightly less tourists. We didn't have any problems finding a camp site and the trails were not too crowded. Having only a few days in this park, we only went for one hike, the Jenny lake trail and Cascade Canyon, which also happened to be the most popular hike in the park. We started the hike at the welcome center and hiked around the lake, with spectacular views and only a few hikers round us. Most hikers choose to take the ferry from the welcome center, across the lake to the west shore boat dock, where the Cascade Canyon hike starts. It's a good option is you don't have a lot of time and want to hike less, but we recommend our route around the lake, where you get the full view of Jenny Lake.

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We continued the hike to the Hidden Falls, with more amazing scenery and wild life. We saw some beavers and a moose. There are plenty of places to stop for a short break in a shade, by cool mountain rivers. 

After The Grand Teton National Park we continued to drive up North towards Yellowstone National Park, stoping along the way and sleeping at the campsites.

 

 

 

  

 

Picture:

Hike on the way to the Hidden Falls

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Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone is one of the five top most visited parks in the USA, and as you can imagine it is packed with visitors during the summer.  It spreads throughout 3 states: WY, MT and ID. Campgrounds are like hot cakes, so you need to get there early if you want one of the more popular sites. We arrived late (like 9am) and had to camp at one of the outer sites called Indian Creek, but it was still amazing. There were no showers but you could bathe in a beautiful creek. Give yourself plenty of time to get around the park because the speed limit is max 30mil/hour, and when you have so many visitors, who want to stop to take a picture in the middle of the road, it takes a while to get from a one spot to another. Regardless of that Yellowstone is an incredible place to visit!

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Huckleberry everything, even beer!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Below: S'mores, an American campsite tradition.

There are many trails in the YNP, and we decided to hike the Mt. Washburn trail. It's a beautiful trail with some elevation, but nothing too hard and surprisingly not a busy trail. We did the whole hike in 4 hours total, which we felt really good about, since the estimated time was 5h minimum.

Picture: When you are out of ice you can chill your beers in a cold creek.

 

Montana

Bozeman

A fun little town in Montana, for the outdoors and beer lovers. There is one main street in town where you find all kinds of outdoors shops, restaurant etc, but outside the city is where the paradise starts for the outdoor enthusiasts. We stayed mostly in town tasting the booze. White dog brewing has excellent beer, the bar next doors, Bozeman Spirits, makes killer cocktails and their whiskey is very tasty. If you have time visit another great brewery outside the town, Map brewing. It's a hip place with outdoor seating and excellent beers! 

 

Missoula

A big university town in Montana, for a few reasons was not our favorite place during our road trip. First of all, we went to the state fair to watch the rodeo - we can only blame ourselves. Five minutes into it, we realized that watching cowboys pulling a calf by it's legs and stretching it violently in opposite directions was not our thing. Other rodeo activities included riding a horse with a piece of wood attached to it's balls, which is also not a sport that we will ever get into. Apparently, if you attend the state fair without a cowboy hat or Wrangler jeans, you are the odd ones so get ready for the stares.

We also didn't have much luck finding decent lodging. We booked a room online for about $60. We expected it to be basic, but we didn't expect the crackheads checking in at the same time. Luckily, we politely explained why we didn't want to sleep in a crack-hotel and we got a refund. Sorry, Missoula was a bit of a bummer.

 
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But it was not all bad. As we were leaving the town, we found the most beautiful Caffe Dolce, where we stopped for lunch. Check out these ceilings and architectural details. The food was great too!

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Glacier National Park

GNP was the last national park we visited on our road trip. Unfortunately, there were huge wild fires in the area during our stay so the conditions were not perfect, lots of haze and the smell of burning wood in the air. Some parts of the park remained closed, but we got to visit the park and enjoy it a little bit. 

We drove on the Going to the Sun road, with many beautiful vistas and waterfalls, where you can stop to take pictures or go for a hike.

Visit the Glacier Hotel lodge with a rustic architecture overlooking the Swiftcurrent Lake. You can eat at the hotel or bring your own picnic and eat it on the beach in front of the lake.

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Whitefish

Since the hotels in Glacier National Park are very expensive and camping was not possible due to the fires, we chose to stay in a cute town near the park, Whitefish.

 Photo: Whitefish, old town

Photo: Whitefish, old town

Whitefish is a quaint little town, with boutique shops and great cafes where you can try delicious homemade pies!

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Where to stay?

 

 

We stayed in a cozy, family run B&B, the Hidden Moose Lodge, that served amazing breakfast and in the evenings, after hikes, we enjoyed a soak in the hot tub and a complimentary (hell yes!) glass of wine by the fire place.

It's a unique hotel that acutely feels like a very large home. You can read near the large stone fire place while laying on a couch, and in the mornings your breakfast is served in a family style kitchen. You will quickly become friends with the owners and other guests. 

 

 

 Photo: homemade pie

Photo: homemade pie

 

Hwy 395

On the way back home, we chose to drive on Hwy 395, which is a more scenic route. We were notdisappointed as the views were spectacular. We drove past long stretches of farmland, and a lot of  ghost towns. We stopped in small towns to check out stores that sold weird stuff, learned that you can pickle pretty much anything including eggs, fish, fruit in these parts of America.

Picture above: Wheat farm somewhere in Idaho

Picture above: cute, all America town. 

hwy 395
  Picture: What the hell, is that a shoe tree?!! Who knows a good story behind it? Apparently, these shoe trees can be found in many places in America, near highways.

Picture: What the hell, is that a shoe tree?!! Who knows a good story behind it? Apparently, these shoe trees can be found in many places in America, near highways.

We hoped you enjoyed this post. Please leave us a comment below and let us know your favorite places to road trip. We always love to hear a good road trip/camping stories.

Cheers!

 
us road trip-the tipsy gypsies
 

NORTHERN PERU

Every tourist knows about Lima, Arequipa, Cusco, and the Sacred Valley, but not nearly as many people make the trek to Northern Peru. Although you won't see as many iconic sites we found it absolutely worth the trip. From Amazonian lush jungles to the misty highland mountains that touch the sky, all the way down to the coastal deserts. We spent countless hours driving between destinations but the view was always spectacular. Here is some B-Roll we shot for the tour company, Kuoda Travel.

FUN THINGS TO DO IN LIMA

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Lima doesn't have the best reputation amongst travelers, nor the locals living outside of the city. Stories about dangerous slums and tourists getting robbed in broad day light, circle the web. Although any large city has a mix of good and bad, we found it quite the opposite of the online opinions. Friendly faces, great food, and lot's do. This article is about all the fun things you can do in Lima.

 

MAGIC WATER CIRCUIT show at THE RESERVE PARK

 

This is probably the number one tourist attraction in Lima, and we shamefully have to admit that we skipped it the first time we visited the city. The second time we came to Lima, we were talked into going by our guide, and we are glad we went. At night the park truly turns into magic, with every fountain illuminated with different colors and synchronized to music. There are 13 fountains total in the park, and the biggest attraction is the light show at the Fantasy Fountain. There are 3 shows per day/except Mondays at 19:15, 20:15 and 21:30, more info here

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It's best to visit the park during the week to avoid the big crowds. People will be around, but it's much more enjoyable. About 10 minutes before the show starts at the Fantasy Fountain, everybody lines up against the railing to watch it, so make sure to get there on time. Most people choose to stand close to the railing, but we personally think it's better to sit on the benches, further from the crowd, where you get a bigger "window" to see the whole show. 

There is a level of cheesiness to the show: lasers, holograms of people and the same classic songs you've heard the street bands play on the flute, but it's the kind of cheesy that make it cool. The show is about 20 minutes long and before it ended we ran to our favorite fountain in the park -"The tunnel of surprises" to take a few pictures without any people in it. It worked!

We spent the most time at this fountain, walking underneath it and looking at the cool, orange beams of water running over our heads and occasionally splashing us with water. 

Make sure you allow yourself enough time to explore the park before the main show and getting there can be a nightmare because of the notorious traffic in Lima, but definitely don't miss it!

 

At night the park truly turns into magic

 
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Explore Centro Historico

Head down to the historical center to start your tour of Lima. Around the Plaza Mayor you will see many colonial buildings, and the interiors are equally beautiful. In particular, the Cathedral of Lima is worth visiting as well the Archbishops palace adjacent to it. The Archbishop of Lima has a nice house to live in for sure: lavish furnishing, beautiful paintings and ornaments fill the interiors. 

Just around the corner from the main square is located the Monastery of San Francisco. An interesting place to visit because of the large catacombs with neatly organized bones that create a form of morbid art.

 

Lima is a melting pot of cultures and people: mestizo, Indian American, African and Chinese to name the biggest groups. For the most part people live in peace today, and you will see most of the cultures food represented.  Walk to China town to try Chifa, a blend of Peruvian and Chinese food. It's delicious!

 

Below: Plaza Mayor

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Casa Aliaga

An impressive mansion still inhabited by one of the most prominent families in Peru, since the 16th century. Jorge de Aliaga was one of the first Spaniards, who arrived to Peru along with Francisco Pizarro. Aliaga was Pizarro's right hand and he played an important role in conquering Peru. He participated in the capturing of the Inca Atahualpa, and for his loyalty he was granted this property, next to the presidential palace in the center of Lima. Only a small part of this large estate is open to the public. The house is beautiful, but honestly the tour is very overpriced, $30/per person , to see a few rooms and a courtyard is just too much. Our tour package included it, but we would not recommend paying the full price for it on your own. They also offer a culinary experience at the mansion. A lavish dinner prepped by a chef who is a member of the family.

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Convento de santo domingo

When the Spanish conquered Peru, they decided to express their beliefs by building as many churches as they could. It feels like there is a church on every corner, and they are always full of people.

Convento de Santo Domingo is a church and also as the name suggests, a convent for priests. Although the grounds of the church with courtyards and smaller chapels are very beautiful, the best part of visiting this church is actually climbing the tower to see the view of Lima. 

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The entrance to the tower is a bit hard to find. Look for the red staircase (pic on the left), walk up to the second floor where the church organs are, enter another door and you will see stairs leading up the tower.

Left : staircase leading to the tower

Below: View of Lima from the tower

 

Murals in Barranco

There is no better way to explore Barranco than walking. Wander through the trendy Barranco neighborhood, and experience the colorful murals this area is known for. These beautiful murals adorn walls, cafes and private houses. It seems that all residents of Barranco prefer art over simple paint on their houses. There are lots of cool cafes and restaurants in this neighborhood, that invite you inside for a snack or a drink.

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Alternative Peru tour

 

This is a super interesting tour of Lima that takes you to off the beaten path areas. You will see some amazing views on this tour and visit the other Lima that most of the tourist don't dare to wander to on their own. We had a lovely lunch in a shanti town and we got to talk to the locals about living there. Their hospitality was exceptional. There are more exciting locations that you will explore on this tour, but we won't give away everything. It takes a whole day, so make sure to bring comfy shoes, water and a good attitude. The guides are great and they make this tour fun!

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Above: Lima, shanti town. Below: Coast of Lima

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Vista point

Just a beautiful view of the rugged coast. It was one of our favorites places in Lima. It is hard to imagine, but there were no hipsters around taking Instagram pictures, except us :)

(Location: Malecón la Herradura, Distrito de Chorrillos 15064, Peru)

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Museo Larco and a Cafe

A fantastic museum with a large collection of pre-columbian art, and beautiful gardens. The displays of various indigenous art is very beautiful, but the truth is that most people come here to see the very graphic, erotic collection of pottery (ourselves included!). 

 

 

Peña Music show

Going to Peña at Don Porfirio was the most fun we had while we stayed in Lima. Excellent music and a dance show with a great crowd and the best Pisco sours we had in all of Peru! How Nate drank and survived 13 of them, we will never know...

This is a small place and it gets busy fast, and it would be wise make a reservation. We didn't, but thanks to the merciful hostess, she managed to squeeze us a table. They literally brought a table from the back and squeezed it between another party. 5 minutes later, that the place was so packed that they were turning people away and the doors were shut. It's a bit intimidating, because it seems that every guest is a professional dancer, but your shyness will go away after a few Pisco sours. 

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Pisco Sour Bar

Visit the Aforo bar at the Maury Hotel that it claims invented the Pisco Sour cocktail. Whether the story is true or not, this was a good enough reason for us to visit this vintage bar in the center in Lima and try their Pisco sour. 

 

The hotel looks almost run down from the exterior, but the interior is vintage and classic. The original wood paneling, leather swivel chair and seasoned barman making your cocktail almost enhance the experience of this drink. 

 

 

 

Visit the bar that it claims invented the Pisco Sour cocktail.

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Where to stay

Villa Barranco

Located in the colorful neighborhood Barranco, this historic villa, turned into a boutique hotel, offers quiet and chic accommodations. Breakfast is served in the garden and the rooftop patio is perfect for an afternoon cocktail with the sunset.

 

We hope that on your next trip to Peru you will stop in Lima for a visit! We sure will be back, maybe next time and we will try paragliding off the cliffs!

HOORAY FOR CHILE!

Who loves Chile?!!! Noooooo, we don't mean the food you hungry dumb dumb (although we're always down for a nice bowl of those tasty beans😋). We mean the country!!! Wine, llamas, beaches (umbrellas included!), volcanoes, unbelievable martian landscapes and so much more! Our only complaint was that our 10 days there wasn't enough for this fabulous land. If you haven't been, the worlds narrowest country is a must for your next SA visit!

THE MAGIC WATER CIRCUIT

Lima has an amazing fountain and light show that goes on three times a night, five nights a week. In fact, this park holds the Guinness Book record for the largest fountain complex in the world! At about a $1 for the ticket, this evening activity is a must for any Lima visit!

Music provided by our talented Peruvian friend and musician, Tayta Ed Bird Please check out his SoundCloud page as his music is fantastic! https://soundcloud.com/taytabird

DESTINATION: PERU - Central & South

Destination Peru Central and South, the tipsy gypsies travel blog

Most tourists come to Peru to visit the main attraction, Machu Picchu. This incredible ancient city, built by the Incas is undoubtedly an exceptional site, but there is so much more to Peru beyond it. Let us take you on a journey through the lakes, mountains, cities, and villages of central and southern Peru to show you the vast cultural diversity of this country.   


LIMA

Lima is the capitol of Peru and the largest city in the country. The Lima Metropolitan Area has over 10 million inhabitants, so you can imagine it's a large and busy place. Located on the central coast of Peru and overlooking the Pacific ocean, Lima definitely has a surfer's culture. Despite the cold weather and grey skies, you will see on any given day surfers riding the waves. The locals call this phenomena "panza de burro" which translated into "the donkey's belly", but when the sun is shining Lima is one of the most beautiful cities with a cool breeze and gorgeous sunsets. 

If you plan your vacation in Peru you will most likely stop here for a day or at least catch a layover. Sadly most of the tourists, unaware of what the city has to offer move on quickly to their final destination, like Machu Picchu, never giving this city a chance. If you know where to go and stay, Lima can be a lot of fun. 

The best neighborhoods to stay in Lima are Miraflores and Barranco. Both of these neighborhoods are very walkable with trendy cafes and restaurants.

Read a full guide to Lima here

If you don't know where to go you can sign up for one of the free walking tours. They are fun a great way to meet locals and other travelers. 

Before you go to explore the famous archeological sites of Peru, visit some museums in Lima to get a taste of the Pre-columbian culture and art. Museo Larco in Lima is a wonderful place for that. 

Museo Larco

Privately owned museum in Lima with a large collection of Pre-Columbian art, famous for its erotic pottery.

Barranco

Go on a free walking tour to explore the art district of Barranco with colorful murals.

 

Huacachina

This small desert oasis is very popular among young backpackers. The main attraction in the town are the sand dunes, where you can go sand-boarding or ride in a sand buggy. Huacachina is fun and definitely worth stopping by if you have the time, but one night was enough for us.  It's a relatively small place and there isn't much to do besides the activities listed, but if you're into relaxing and drinking cold beers by the pool you might want to stay a few night longer.

Watching the sun setting down from the sand dunes over the town is a must!

 

 

There are 41 islands on the lake and you can visit some of the communities that still live there, by a speed boat. There are many companies that offer a similar service that you can book from Puno. Make sure to ask for the speed boat, otherwise your journey will take much longer. 

Remember to bring some cash with you since there are no ATM machines on the islands and you might want to buy some handicrafts.

LAKE TITICACA

The highest navigable lake in the world, located on the boarder between Peru and Bolivia. The lake consists of two basins: Lago Grande situated in Peru, and Lago Wiñaymarka or Lago Pequeño in Bolivia. The nearest town is Puno, which perhaps is not the most charming, with clustered unfinished brick buildings. However, the sunsets and sunrises overlooking the lake are breathtaking. 

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Where to stay

Hotel Libertador, Lake Titicaca

This is the only hotel situated on Lake Titicaca. This hotel is a part of a known upscale hotel chain in Peru. Request a room with a sunrise view. Although the rooms could use a new fresh design, the hotel restaurant serves the most incredible Peruvian cuisine. 

Below: Sunrise view of the Lake Titicaca is the reason why people like stay at the hotel Libertador. Plus there are llamas roaming the grounds of the hotel. This is a perfect place for a relaxing vacation.

A glass of wine and a cheese platter, at the patio with an outdoor fireplace is perfect to watch romantic sunsets.

 

"The Floating Islands"

The Floating Islands of Uros are a series of islands on lake Titicaca occupied by the Uros people. They are constructed from reeds that grow abundantly on the lake. These manmade islands were designed to be moved if necessary, and they need to be constantly maintained by their inhabitants. Fresh reeds are added constantly, otherwise the islands would rot and sink. All the dwellings on the islands, even the boats are made out of these golden reeds.

Like many native groups in Peru, the Uros people wear unique traditional clothing. Woman wear colorful, oversized skirts, and the tips of the long braids are tied together with large pompons.

 

You will only stay about one hour on the islands total. The natives will demonstrate how the islands were built and afterwards they will offer to sell you some local souvenirs.

These beautiful and unique islands along with the colorful outfits of their inhabitants will make you feel like your on a Disneyland fairytale set!

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Taquile Island

Taquile Island is much bigger than Uros, and it's a "proper" island situated on a rock. If you have ever been to Catalina island in California, you might find it very similar. Hilly rocky terrain with Mediterranean climate and blue waters surround it. Most of the locals are involved in agriculture or fishing but tourism is also thrives.

As part of our tour we ate lunch at a local restaurant: a homemade quinoa soup and a fresh trout from the lake, were simply delicious.

There are also some interesting traditions on this island. For example instead of a handshake, people greet each other by exchanging coca leaves that they carry in a shoulder bag. This culture is also known for weaving intricate textiles, and you see almost everybody, young and old, women, men and children always occupied knitting some clothing garments: hats: bags, belts etc. Knitting is such an important part of their lives and they say that if you don't know how to knit there is no way to get married.  

The island is self-sufficient and there aren't any cars on the island.

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The Arequipa region is abundant in minerals, and with several mines, it's the richest state in Peru. There is a strong regionalism in this area, with many locals almost wanting to separate from the rest of Peru. They considered themselves neither Peruvians nor Europeans. The sense of pride is very strong. Arequipa is also a distribution center for the whole southern part of Peru.

 

AREQUIPA

A charming colonial town with a beautiful church and cafes surrounding the main square. The fountain in front of the church is a popular meeting point for tourists and locals, especially in the afternoons you will see locals, food vendors, shoeshiners and others offering their services. The Misit volcano with a height of 20, 000ft makes a beautiful backdrop for Arequipa.

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Where to stay

Hotel Libertador

Beautiful hotel in a very good location and large gardens. They even have a small petting zoo with Llamas and a tortoise. 

Logistics and transportation: PeruHop

We want to thank PeruHop, a transportation company who we traveled with for a few weeks to see these incredible places. We chose to travel with them because of their excellent driving records, well-organized tours, and comfortable buses. Peru is infamous for reckless drivers and unfortunately, you have to be very careful about the bus company you travel with. We were very happy with PeruHop and we highly recommend them to travelers visiting Peru. They offer a range of services: from transportation to tours, meals and accommodations. Traveling with them not only gives you peace of mind and you know you will get safely from point A to B, but you will also get to makes some stops and see some sights you wouldn't on a local bus.

Bringing the Titanic to Life (Contributed)

This May, London-based travel and adventure company Blue Marble Private is set for an eight-day voyage to the wreckage of the RMS Titanic. During the trip visitors will be taken down to the wreck of the infamous ship. Tickets for the expedition cost a whopping $105,129 per person. According to The Telegraph that amount is based on the inflation-adjusted price of an actual first class ticket on the RMS Titanic itself ($4,350).

While the price is rather steep, it presents a once in a lifetime opportunity not just for fans of the movie but also for anyone with an interest in history, marine biology, and early 20th century culture and artifacts.

Mental Floss reports that this tour is unlike any other tour or museum dedicated to the Titanic. From Newfoundland, customers will board a scientific vessel, and apart from being able to see the actual shipwreck, customers will also function as mission specialists. As they descend more than two miles below the surface, customers will be assisting the expedition team in observing marine life. Trained as mission specialists, they will be able to spot research-relevant data (such as signs of decay, historical artifacts, marine life, etc.) and interpret it themselves with assistance from the experts.

Furthermore, this could be one of the last opportunities for anyone to visit the site where the Titanic lays. In a 2016 study, the extremophile bacteria that’s slowly munching on the wreck could completely devour everything by the year 2030.

The RMS Titanic holds a special place in maritime history and the public conscious. The loss of 1,517 lives on its maiden voyage after it struck an iceberg and sank made it one of the defining events of the 20th century. As a result the story of the ill-fated ocean liner has be told many times across different mediums. 

For instance, there are 11 notable movies based on the RMS Titanic, including a fictionalized account of a survivor called Saved From the Titanic which came out in 1912 – the same year as the sinking. To this day, James Cameron’s Oscar-winning 1997 romantic drama Titanic remains one of the highest grossing movies in history, as well as one of the most influential blockbusters of all time. The success of the film led to an influx of Titanic related products including books, documentaries, and games. Leading gaming portal Foxy Bingo have an online Titanic game that is directly adapted from the James Cameron film. This shows how influential the film continues to be today and how far reaching the Titanic brand has become. Across the US, there are various museums dedicated to the Titanic, including The Titanic Museum Attraction in Tennessee – an experiential museum in which tourists can relive the sinking for themselves on an automated replica of the ship. 

This year, Blue Marble Private offers the ultimate tour for those interested in the famous ship. While it may be expensive, it is a once in a lifetime opportunity to see the world’s most famous shipwreck. The first trip is already fully booked.

Written by John Wiggins

A fairytale village in Czech you've probably never heard of

Some of the best places we visited on our travels have been discovered by coincidence and that was the case with Loket, a small village in the Czech Republic.

Small and mellow is the best way to describe Loket, for only about 3000 people live here. As you enter the town across it's main bridge, it may begin to look oddly familiar. That's because this little town was used as a stand in for Montenegro in the 2006 James Bond film, Casino Royale.

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 The big G sign is where the locals hung out. At the Restaurace u Karla IV. Beer was good and much cheaper than in other bars.

The big G sign is where the locals hung out. At the Restaurace u Karla IV. Beer was good and much cheaper than in other bars.

Despite the early hour, there was not a soul to be found on the streets and the only one grocery store in town was already closed. As we tried to navigate through the narrow streets looking for our B&B, we got a glimpse of this fairly tale town, with a castle sitting on the top of the hill. We couldn't believe that we had never heard of this place before. 

Our hotel Stein Elbogen, which we booked just a few hours earlier turned out to be better than in the pictures. Perfectly situated by the river, this beautiful mansion, painted in a tasteful pinkish color with original stone walls, used to belong to the owners of the oldest porcelain factory in Bohemia. After dropping our bags off in our spacious room, we headed down to the restaurant. We walked down an old, stone staircase with vaulted ceilings, which felt like walking through an old castle. The hotel restaurant was just like the town, cute and quiet. We sat by the crackling fire place and ordered a beer. Behind the bar the owner was casually chatting with a friend and we kept wondering where were all the people on a Friday night? 

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A day in Loket

Loket castle

Saturday morning felt unusually quiet and most of the shops around the main square appeared to be closed. We headed to the castle on a self guided tour, which included some typical castle stuff like a porcelain display room, armory, and of course, a torture room in the dungeons.  We spent a few hours walking amongst the cold castle walls, and we even climbed the tower to see the view of the city. Again, there were barely any tourists around, which was great for so many reasons, but most importantly we didn't have to photoshop any of our pictures. 

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The gingerbread tradition in Czech dates back to 1324 and it was probably introduced by bakers from Nuremberg, Germany. Till this day gingerbread is baked here, and Loket is known for a specific type if gingerbread called Elbogener Pumpernickel. You can see a wooden mold for gingerbread in the middle picture below.

The Bridge

After the tour of the castle we walked out on the bridge to get a full view of the town. You really get a sense of the scale from a distance. The original suspension bridge opened in 1835, but was later replaced with the existing stone bridge due to the economic crisis in 1936. From the bridge you can take the stairs down to a path along the Ohře river, where the locals like to go for walks.

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The Brewery and Museum

Rodinny Pivovar Svaty Florian is an excellent local brewery with a long tradition of brewing beer. The first floor is a small museum/gift shop and the bottom floor is a restaurant and a brewery. They serve four types of beer: light, dark, and two smoked. They are all excellent! You can also try some traditional Czech food here, but we've been told that food is not as good as the beer.

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At the end of the day we returned to our lovely B&B and booked another night. We wanted to spend another day here repeating what we did the first day. We also found out why the town has been so empty. Apparently, after the new years a lot of businesses close for a holiday break and reopen in late February. Some hotels might still be open but most of shops and cafes are closed during this time. We actually enjoyed the quiet and peaceful atmosphere during our stay in Loket but next time we would love to come back and visit in the summer when everything is in full swing.  

Cheers!

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5 Cities you must visit in Mexico

Mexico has been one of the top destinations in the world for the past few years. Despite the bad news and press, people continue to vacation in Mexico. Check out these 5 great destinations that you should visit on your next trip!

1. Mexico City

CDMX or Mexico City is one of the largest and most populated cities in the world. It's an important financial and cultural center in the Americas, with many tourist attractions. You could easily spend a week here just eating street tacos-no judgements, YOLO. 

Mexico city is filled with amazing modern and old architecture. Walk around Condesa and Roma, two trending neighborhoods with great farmers markets, restaurants and bars to experience the city life.

The historical center is full of great traditional architecture. The most iconic attractions include: Palacio de Bellas Artes and the Metropolitan Cathedral but perhaps the most important is the archaeological site, Templo Mayor - the hidden ruins that Mexico city was built on. The ruins were accidentally discovered by two electrical workers in the 70's. It has been a work in progress to excavate the old Aztec city since then.  

Catch a break and grab something to eat at the beautiful Casa de Los Azulejos. If you love museums and are willing to travel a bit outside of the city center, Museo Dolores Olmedo is also worth cheking out; and of course the famous Casa de Azul, the house where Frida grew up, now turned a museum dedicated to the artist's life and impressive art collection.

If you are headed to Mexico City read this full guide here.

2. San Miguel de Allende

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San Miguel de Allende is a small charming town with a lot of history and a lot of expats, mostly from the States, living here. The colorful buildings, cobble stone streets, a beautiful park in the center where the locals gather, could fool you that you are somewhere in Europe. Spanish ruled Mexico till 1821 and although San Miguel de Allende still looks very European it is proudly 100% Mexican. This was the first city to declare freedom from Spanish rule. Every year the whole town celebrates Mexican independence day and puts on a great festival with parades, music, horse rides through the town, ending with spectacular firework show at the main square. 

 
 

3. Guanajuato

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Guanajuato is another great town in Mexico that is full of character. Guanajuato is located in a narrow valley and most of the streets are small and winding, which resulted in an intricate underground tunnel system used not only by cars but also the pedestrians. Guanajuato became famous for it's silver mining back in the day, and although some silver mines are still functioning today they are also open to tourists. If you speak Spanish, there are many people who worked at the mines perviously, and now can take you on an interesting tour of the mines.

University of Guanajuato attracts students from all over the world. In any student town you are guaranteed a great night life and the best happy hour. Getting lost in the narrow alleys while looking for the best deals on drinks is part of the fun. 

4. Guadalajara

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In comparison to San Miguel de Allende or Guanajuato, Guadalajara is not the prettiest city. It  might seem a little bit rough around the edges at first, but this town is definitely worth stopping by. Guadalajara is the largest city in the state of Jalisco, and Jalisco is the most famous for TEQUILA! If you visit Guadalajara make sure to try all the various types of tequila. There are also day trips you can take to the country side and see how tequila is made. 

Guadalajara is known for the best mariachi music. For just few bucks you can got to a show in El Parián de Tlaquepaque, order a cazuela (tequila cocktail) and listen to a live mariachi band. If you are willing to spend a bit more, the musicians will also play a private, mini concert at your table.

The food in Guadalajara is one of the best and very distinct from the rest of Mexico. Make sure to try: Torta ahogada aka drowned submarine sandwich-filled with pork covered in red tomato/chili sauce; birria (spicy meat stew) and sea food dishes like Sopa de Mariscos. The best place to taste all of these dishes is Mercado Libertad. We ate there everyday and loved it! Just make sure to check the prices first because we made that mistake once and ended up paying a lot more than everybody else.

Also be aware of your surroundings as it's a known hot spot for pickpockets.

5. Tulum

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Tulum is a very well known vacation spot in Mexico. It is definitely less crowded than Cabo San Lucas and the resorts here seem to be less gaudy and attract more of the bohemian crowd. The warm, turquoise waters, white sand beaches and the fresh ocean breeze make this place a paradise on earth. Besides the beautiful beaches Tulum is great for scuba diving. If you aren't scared of darkness, diving in the cenotes - underwater caves is an unforgettable experience. 

You will also taste some of the most amazing sea food here. Try some fresh from the sea ceviche, a fresh sea food marinated in lime juice and served with Mexican spices. Another local specialty are shrimp cocktails, which here is prepared with only ketchup and no tomato juice. Unless you love chugging glasses of ketchup at once, we recommend avoiding this dish. If you are a vegan, there are many restaurants here serving the most delicious and high quality foods from fresh juices, smoothies and amazing salads.

English is very common in these areas due to the high number of Americans coming here for yoga retreats and relaxing on the beach. You will see a lot of foreigners here scootering and biking around the town all day and night. This is a very safe area for tourists to be carefree. 

You should also visit the Tulum ruins. This abandoned Mayan city is located on the tall cliffs overlooking the Carribean sea. The views are breathtaking! 

We hope that you enjoyed the read and we encourage you to visit some of the places we mentioned here on your next trip, and if you have been to Mexico before please let us know what was your favorite spot. Cheers!