Lost in Los Cabos, Mexico

Cabo San Lucas, Mexico: “Do you want to take some pictures with a Mexican?” jokingly yelled a man when 5 of us, girls, were walking down the marina of Cabo San Lucas. Five fine girls in an exotic place like Cabo…yeh, we got some attention you can say. But jokes apart, this was my/our first girls-only trip out of the country and we truly devoured every moment of it. This was a much-needed getaway for me and I think, every woman…no matter if you are happy, are going thru tough time, or just need to escape from everything…can use this kind of trip at any phase of your life.

#Cabo in Cabo Marina, Mexico

#Cabo in Cabo Marina, Mexico

Located at the far southern tip of Baja California Sur and filled with natural landmarks around coastline, Cabo is a popular destination in Mexico. I’m not surprised that Cabo San Lucas became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005 because of its outstanding cultural value and natural sites which deserve protection for the all humanity. Lots of first-timers and seasoned travelers come here to enjoy its year-round warm weather, adventurous outdoor, every possible water activity, scenic landmarks, and world-class dining/resort experiences. For young travelers, this is also known to be one of the top cities with wild night-life.

A beautiful sunset on Sea of Cortez in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

A beautiful sunset on Sea of Cortez in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

Some tips for Cabo that I would like to give the future-travelers are: one, carry US Dollar if you can. No need to carry Mexican Pesos or convert your USD for any reason. They accept USD everywhere and most of the places will give you change in USD also. Credit card is accepted at almost every store and restaurant, except for taxis. But paying by cash may give you better deal on souvenirs or other shopping. Two, be very careful with your ATM card or credit cards. My bank card was swapped with someone intentionally when a man was “helping” me to cancel a bank transaction after I’ve withdrawn some money. Luckily, I noticed within a minute and called Bank of America to stop any transactions. Three, use an ATM machine inside a bank for better rate if you have to take cash out. Standalone ATM machines will charge you sky-rocketing fees to withdraw Pesos from there…avoid that if possible. Four, bargain whenever you are at a shop, unless it’s a fixed price place. They will rise up the price when they know you are a tourist. Whatever the price they ask, start from the half of it and meet at a point where you both will agree. Enjoy this fun process of haggling while in Mexico.

Other than the incident with my ATM card, we felt that Cabo, near downtown and marina, is very safe. We used to go for drinks or snacks and stroll around our resort after midnight and it was absolutely fine. The town doesn’t go to sleep until really late. Just don’t go off road or somewhere shady after dark and try to stay close to the touristy spots as much as you can.

The ride to Cabo San Lucas from the airport is about an hour drive and our private taxi, Easy Cabo Trip, charged $80 one way for five of us. Enjoy the scenic Sierra Mountain range on The Corridor, which is lined with golf courses, resorts, and hotels. We booked the cab ahead of time to avoid any hassle but eventually ended up waiting at the airport for few minutes. Thank God that the airport had free Wi-Fi and I could call the company thru Viber. When the driver arrived, he was extremely nice, friendly, and very helpful. We used the same company, Easy Cabo Trip, to return to airport on the last day and for our day-trip to La Paz and Todos Santos.

Time of Travel: We were in Cabo during the first week of December 2018. Weather is usually very pleasant here around this time of the year…not too hot and not cold at all. But our schedule did get a bit messed up because the sea was rough and bumpy one day and had to push back our boat ride to Land’s End and Sunset Dinner Cruise until the very last day of our stay in Cabo. But other than that, bring your sandals, sunscreens, hats, and cool shades to enjoy the weather to its fullest.

Our Hotel: We stayed in Marina Fiesta Resort and Spa right by the marina. It was a memorable experience with friendly staffs and homely atmosphere. Our rooms were spacious with balconies and huge bathrooms. The resort has 2 swimming pools with bars and all the nice accessories. The roof top hot-tubs are relaxing while you enjoy the view of whole town. We played UNO at night in the lobby once…it’s very spacious with different sections for concierge, hotel check-in, booking trips, a small bar, and lots more.

Fiesta Marina Resort & Spa - our home in Cabo, Mexico

Fiesta Marina Resort & Spa – our home in Cabo, Mexico

The best part of our resort was the location. We couldn’t have asked for a better place to stay in Cabo. Lots and lots of shops and restaurants stretch on both sides of the resorts, the boats and cruise docks are within walking distance, and downtown is only 10 minutes of walk from here. Some of the other tourist attractions were close by too; like Medano Beach is less than 10 minutes’ walk, most of the dance clubs/lounges are within few minutes along with some of the best rated eateries with the view of marina.

Eating & Shopping: Culinary options in Cabo is unlimited and mind-blowing. Street food as well as fine-dine places were superb all way. We couldn’t get enough of fresh ingredients in our dishes and never missed having a big side of guacamole at every meal. Some of my favorite food in Cabo would be (other than guacamole) any shrimp dishes, refried beans in little tostada bowls, tender steaks, Mexican style shrimp cocktail, and any kind of soup. Just be careful with the habanero sauce they give you with tortilla chips…they can be deadly. Also, don’t pass by opportunity to try fresh coconut water if you find a seller…they come in all flavors, but I like mine fresh and pure. Most of the restaurants usually have live music on Friday and Saturday nights. Following are all the places where we dined and had great food and would recommend to anyone.

Chilles Rellenos...my 1st lunch dish in Cabo, Mexico in Mango Cantina

Chiles Rellenos…my 1st lunch dish in Cabo, Mexico in Mango Cantina

1st day, we had lunch at Mango Cantina by the marina and very close to our resort, where I tried chiles rellenos which was shrimp stuffed pepper with bean and salad. For drink, I had to have fresh papaya juice and it was delish. Dinner was at a very well-known place, called Mi Casa, near historic San Lucas Church and the town square. This was a bit of walk from the resort (or $10 for cab) but was worth every penny and energy. There is a shop inside the restaurant that sells  “Day of the Dead” figures along with other pretty cool items. Mi Casa gained popularity not only because of providing old Mexican taste, but also for its artistic and quirky interior, beautiful decors, and nice ambiance. With lots of options from seafood to traditional Mexican dishes, everyone will find something they love. I had baked basa fillet wrapped in a banana leaf with sides of beans, and salads. If you are up for it, give a little tip to the mariachi band and listen to some local live music while having a meal.

A very popular restaurant Mi Casa in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

A very popular restaurant Mi Casa in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

2nd day, lunch was at Taco Loco in downtown where the popular bar Cabo Wabo is located. It’s kind of hidden inside a small walled square, but located on the main street of downtown. It was nice to sit outside while trying a Mexican sampler platter. For dinner, we stayed closer to the resort and went to Fisherman’s Landing right by the water. This was a beautiful outdoor place as well with nice views of tons of yachts floating on water at night. The fried jumbo shrimp dish I had was a bit too big and heavy for me. But the highlight of this place is that, if you order guacamole with tortilla chips for appetizer, they will make it right in front of you fresh and quick. For drink, I had virgin pina colada and my friend had freshly squeezed lemonade…both were great.

Our waiter making fresh guacamole for us in Fisherman's Landing in Cabo, Mexico

Our waiter making fresh guacamole for us in Fisherman’s Landing in Cabo, Mexico

3rd day was our day-trip to La Paz and Todos Santos where we had our meals. But on the 4th or last day we were in a bit of rush and had too many things to squeeze in one day. So, we ended up skipping the lunch in San Jose del Cabo and had long awaited dinner in the Sunset Cruise. But we did come out of resort at midnight to have some light stuff. We sat down at La Galeria by the marina. The best shrimp cocktail I ever tried was here and also the best churros. Shrimp cocktail in Mexico is not like the ones we get in The States. The shrimps don’t pathetically dangle from the side of your glass. They are actually mixed in with picco de gallo, fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions and herbs. Then you mix it with few sauces, depending on the flavor and heat you want and viola…it is mind-blowing. At the end, don’t forget to try hot fried churros with vanilla ice-cream. FYI, Mexican vanilla is way more flavorful and tasty.

Shrimp cocktail in La Galaria in Cabo, Mexico

Shrimp cocktail in La Galeria in Cabo, Mexico

Mexican souvenirs are colorful and fun to shop for. For souvenir hunters, stores in Cabo Marina or in downtown and its surroundings are some good areas. There is a mall near the marina where you can find almost anything. I personally bought Mexican hot-tamarind candies, t-shirts, key-rings, a gecko magnet, Mexican cigar, a hand-made Mexican doll, and Mexican organic ground coffee from Cabo San Lucas. “Day of the Dead” or Día de Muertos figures are almost everywhere and they come in all shapes and colors and sizes. Rugs or hammocks, variety kinds of hot sauces, and clay or wooden potteries are also very popular. The day we went to San Jose del Cabo, I bought couple jewelries made with mother of pearl and coral reef, a hand-painted wooden bowl, a home décor made with clay and metal, few wooden bookmarks, and more Mexican hot-tamarind candies. San Jose offers more of traditional Mexican specialty stores offering unique artwork, ceramics, or even furniture.

Colorful souvenirs of Los Cabos in Mexico

Colorful souvenirs of Los Cabos in Mexico

Again, when shopping here, be sure to bargain unless it’s a fixed price store. If you like something, check other places too and see who gives you a better price and quality.

Places We’ve Visited: We had about 2 ½ days to spend in Cabo and in its surrounding places. One day was left to take a tour to La Paz and Todos Santos (please check the right-side bar for the link). In those couple days, we were able to relax, stroll, shop, look around, and visit some of the must-sees of this town. We couldn’t make it to Chileno Beach and Divorce Beach as some suggested. We saw the 300 hundred years old San Lucas Church (Iglesia de San Lucas) from outside and by the time we got there, it was already closed. It is a historic church of this town and probably worth a visit.

Land's End and The Arch of Cabo in Mexico

Land’s End and The Arch of Cabo in Mexico

Most of these places are very close to each other or accessible by boat, taxi or private shuttle. We didn’t do any adventurous water or outdoor activities, but there are tons of those here if you have time and are up for them. Some of those are scuba diving, surfing, snorkeling, parasailing, wave running, kayaking, renting yachts, submarine ride, ATV ride, horseback ride, fishing, whale watching, touring glass factory, and lots more.

  1. Cabo Marina: We arrived Cabo late morning and by the time we checked-in at our resort, it was almost lunch time. We sat down to eat by the marina, only 2 minutes from the resort. After lunch, we went to our room, freshened up, and came back to marina while the sun was still out.

Taking a stroll in Cabo Marina, Mexico

Cabo Marina is one of the thriving spots for tourists and locals. Laced by glamorous stores and mouth-watering restaurants, this is one of the best places for shopping…though you may end up paying high prices. Strolling by the blue water of Sea of Cortez at any time was my most favorite activity here. If you are a sunset or sunrise lover, this place maybe a good spot to enjoy one too, if you can’t get to the beach on time.

Cabo Marina in the evening in Mexico

As I mentioned before, this is a pretty safe place to hang out, even after mid-night. With hundreds of tourists at every corner, this is a 24-hour party place in the heart of Cabo.

Cabo Marina after dark in Mexico

  1. Medano Beach: Medano is nice little beach very close to the marina. We started walking towards the beach in late afternoon and spent little more than half an hour before heading towards downtown. We came back here again on the last day to catch a boat to El Arco.

A late afternoon by the Medano Beach in Cabo, Mexico

  1. Downtown/City Center: Only 20 minutes’ walk from Medano Beach and few minutes from the marina, Downtown is the heart of Cabo and the entertainment hub of the town. This is where most of the well-known bars, and clubs are located. The streets of downtown are always very lively and vibrant with countless eye-catching places. You may find small complexes where boutique shops and classy restaurants hide away from the main chaos of downtown…these were definitely fun to explore.
Street art in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

Street art in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

We came across world’s smallest bar while roaming around the downtown. Too bad we didn’t get any drink from there. Not sure, how true this claim is…but hey, if the sign says “World Smallest Bar”, then it is the world’s smallest bar. Oh while you are in downtown or near the marina, enjoy the street arts, take some photos, and appreciate the creativity.

World's Small Bar in Downtown Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

World’s Small Bar in Downtown Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

If you get a chance and see a vendor, try doing a fish pedicure. I had my first fish pedicure in Santorini, Greece and I was sort of craving for another tickling service done to my feet. It’s $15 for 15 minutes where you sink your feet in a tank with hundreds of fish. They will come rushing to your feet for yummy meal…quite an experience for any first-timer.

A small square we found while walking around Downtown Cabo in Mexico

A small square we found while walking around Downtown Cabo in Mexico

The nightlife of Cabo is one of the hottest in whole North America with glittering clubs and bars bursting with loud music. You can feel the energy on the streets too while passing by these places. Good part is that most of these clubs have no cover fees. So just go and enjoy the music, if it’s not your type of place…hop to the next one.

Loved those stores in Downtown Cabo, Mexico

Loved those stores in Downtown Cabo, Mexico

  1. Land’s End, Arch of Cabo (El Arco), and Lover’s Beach (Playa del Amante): We came to these places on our very last day in Cabo. The most iconic landmark of Cabo is the Arch of Cabo or El Arco. Sitting on clear turquoise water of Sea of Cortez against deep blue sky, this is probably the most photographed spot of this town.
Boat ride to El Arco in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

Boat ride to El Arco in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

We bought the boat ticket to Lover’s Beach from a lady near the marina. It was $12 per person (it was $15…but we bargained) for a glass-bottom boat ride where you can look at the sea thru a glass bottom on the boat. I would highly recommend it to anyone, because we saw tons of colorful fish on both ways. On our way, the ride was about 45 minutes and they took us to show the Pelican Island, Sea-Lion Island, Land’s End and finally dropped off to Lover’s Beach.

Lover's Beach or Playa del Amor in Cabo, Mexico

Lover’s Beach or Playa del Amor in Cabo, Mexico

Land’s End is known for the exceptionally stunning views because of its gigantic clustered rock formations that were created from the rough wind and sea. This is the extreme southern tip of Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula.

30 million years old rock formation of Lover's Beach in Cabo, Mexico

30 million years old rock formation of Lover’s Beach in Cabo, Mexico

Playa del Amor or Lover’s Beach is an iconic beach in Cabo San Lucas which is framed by 30 million years old granite rocks. This is a stunning but a bit dangerous spot because of its deadly rip current. So, be careful when you get dropped off here. Rip currents are strong here because this is where Sea of Cortez meets Pacific Ocean. Nevertheless, not visiting this beach in Cabo will be like going to Paris and not visiting Eiffel Tower. But there are men at the beach who will take your belongings and help you get down from the boat and to the beach safely; just don’t jump on the water thinking it’s shallow. We spent about an hour at this beach before heading back to Cabo main town again. I got a bit too sick from the small boat ride on rough water to actually enjoy the beautiful rock formation, blue water, and the warm weather. And therefore, couldn’t go towards Divorce Beach at all.

  1. San Jose del Cabo: We kind of squeezed this trip to San Jose in between our morning trip to Land’s End and evening Sunset Cruise on Day 4. From Cabo San Lucas, it was about 40 minutes ride towards the airport on the scenic Corridor. So, we had no time for lunch at all, but it was all worth it. Each way to and from San Jose is $40 USD (or about 800 Pesos) if you take a cab. We were dropped off near the main square and spent barely couple hours roaming around this quiet town…or at least it was very quiet when we were there.
On our way to San Jose del Cabo on The Corridor in Cabo, Mexico

On our way to San Jose del Cabo on The Corridor in Cabo, Mexico

San Jose del Cabo is the older part of this region and a bit colonial style with its old buildings and few squares. There are few nearby small beaches to explore, but we didn’t have time to visit those in our short visit. San Jose del Cabo also has some modern and fancy resorts on the other side of the town for those who like to stay close to the airport.

A tiny and colorful square in San Jose del Cabo, Mexico

A tiny and colorful square in San Jose del Cabo, Mexico

We started with taking a very brief visit to Municipality Building or City Hall of San Jose, located in the main square. It was open and charged no fees. It’s a simple building with couple murals on walls. Cathedral of San Jose or Mission of San Jose del Cabo Anuiti is situated in the same square. Cathedral is also simple inside with elegant exterior. This mission was founded in April of 1730. But the present façade dates from the first years of 20th century.

Cathedral in San Jose del Cabo, Mexico

Cathedral in San Jose del Cabo, Mexico

The square was very quiet without too many tourists or locals. We checked out few shops and bought some stuff before going back to the taxi who brought us here.

  1. Sunset Dinner Cruise: This is a very popular activity in Cabo and many companies offer tickets for this with various options. You can get buffet options, with or without on-board performances, bottomless drinks, and etc. We got our tickets with Caborey that same morning from the same lady who sold us boat ticket to Land’s End, near the marina. We chose dinner with show and live performances and it was $97 per person. The price included unlimited free drinks, dinner, and one of a kind live performance.
Our "Caborey" Sunset Cruise in Cabo, Mexico

Our “Caborey” Sunset Cruise in Cabo, Mexico

The whole cruise was about 2 ½ hours. The upper deck was to enjoy the surrounding water and landscapes and two lower decks for elegant dinner and show. This was a fantastic experience as long as you don’t get any sea-sickness. The boat started little before the sunset and so did live music. We stayed on the upper deck to experience an utterly breathtaking sunset over Gulf of California. The boat took us to the Arch of Cabo. With a velvety red and orange sky in the backdrop, the whole sea looked magical. We got to see the Lover’s Beach, the Arch, and Lands’ End all over again in different lights. Oh yes, if you are there with your partner/spouse…PLEASE, enjoy the sunset together, holding each other in your arms, because you’ll regret later big time if you miss that opportunity.

Live music on the deck of Caborey in Cabo, Mexico

Live music on the deck of Caborey in Cabo, Mexico

After sunset, it was dinner time. We chose combination platter and therefore, were served with sautéed shrimp and steak with mashed potato and salad. And a plate of dessert with hot beverage came afterwards.

Iconic El Arco or The Arch of Cabo from Sunset cruise in Cabo, Mexico

Iconic El Arco or The Arch of Cabo from Sunset cruise in Cabo, Mexico

The last portion of the cruise was the live traditional performance. It included high-energy Mexican folk dances and songs, drums, Argentinian Tango, Argentinian weight on rope show, and some more. This was the main attraction and all of us enjoyed every single show.

Traditional Mexican folk dance in Sunset cruise in Cabo, Mexico

Traditional Mexican folk dance in Sunset cruise in Cabo, Mexico

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Travelling Kentucky: Must-See Destinations in the Bluegrass State

Kentucky is one of those classic American states that most people have heard of. Dubbed the “Bluegrass State” because of the bluegrass found all across the state, it’s one of the most interesting places to visit in America thanks to its iconic destinations and myriad of locations to visit. To help you plan a visit to Kentucky, we’ve listed some of the must-see destinations that you absolutely do not want to miss.

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Louisville

Louisville is home to the legendary Kentucky Derby, an annual horse racing event. There are plenty of opportunities for hiking, and you’ll be surprised at the fantastic American cuisine that you can find all over Louisville. Another popular location in Louisville is the Louisville Mega Cavern, an underground adventure tour with zip lines and challenge bridges, making it perfect for adrenaline seekers.

Bowling Green

Bowling Green is where you’ll find the National Corvette Museum. For anyone that loves their vehicles, this is a fantastic specialty museum to visit. Even if you’re not a vehicle enthusiast, there’s still plenty of information to learn and the overall experiences is close to perfect. There’s also the Lost River Cave, Kentucky’s only underwater boat tour that offers nature trails and butterfly habitat viewing.

Florence

One of the top attractions in Florence is the Sherlock Escape Room game. It’s a fun and exciting challenge that is suitable for all ages. You’ll get to crack codes and solve puzzles in a number of different scenarios. If you’re looking for something related to the history of Florence, then consider the bustling Antique Mall. It’s a great place to snag some bargains if you’re interested in antiques, but even if you’re not, it’s a great way to browse to experience some history first-hand.

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Somerset

One of the most interesting attractions in Somerset is the Cedar Creek Vineyards. You’ll be able to sample a fantastic selection of wines and indulge in tasting sessions. In addition, there’s also the SomerSplash water park that will prove to be a fantastic hit with the kids. Make sure you book in at a Comfort Inn of Somerset Kentucky for great savings and convenient access to every other attraction. Somerset isn’t as popular as other locations but has fantastic sources of entertainment.

Lexington

Lexington has some of Kentucky’s best American cuisine. You won’t be going hungry with these generous portions at low prices, and there’s plenty of choice on offer if you consider yourself a picky eater. There is also Keeneland, a famous horse track that is frequented by the locals. Lexington is also home to Kentucky State Park, a fantastic location that can educate you on working on a horse farm.

The Bluegrass State is filled with things to do assuming you’re willing to do a little exploring. These are just some of the must-see destinations in Kentucky, but rest assured, there’s a whole world of adventure to explore once you come to Kentucky. There’s something for everyone here, so down to the Bluegrass State explore this unique state.

Don’t Visit Florida Without Doing These

If you are thinking of going traveling to Florida, you will probably already have some keen ideas in mind as to what to do. But the truth is that there are probably one or two things which you have not even considered, and yet which you could find yourself enjoy hugely if you do visit this state. Florida has so much to offer that it is hard to know where to begin, but there many sides to traveling there which are little-known wonders, and it is these which are worth looking into. Let’s have a look at some of these now, to get you inspired for your own trip.

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Rent A Boat

One great way to get around Florida, as with many similar destinations, is to rent a boat. There are many reasons you might want to do this, not least that it is a quick and easy way to add some instant style, luxury and comfort to your trip. Boat rental is one of those simple things that can add so much glamor to a holiday that you can hardly believe it. You probably won’t appreciate it until you try it yourself, so just give it a go when you are due to be traveling to Florida. You will be amazed at how much this simple act can add to your overall journey, and you won’t have to spend a great deal of money to do it either.

Cast A Spell

This next one is great for family traveling with kids, or even for any adults who enjoy a little sprinkle of magic in their holidays. Florida is home to the great Wizarding World of Harry Potter, a sprawling amusement park in the design of the famous Hogwarts castle. As you can imagine, this is something like a more modern Disney World, and yet much more enjoyable for people of all ages. If you are in Florida as a family and stuck for ideas as to what to do, you could do much worse than to go to the set of Hogwarts. The attraction routinely receives five-star reviews, and it is not too pricey to enter, so it’s well worth a look if you’re in the area.

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Hit & Swing

Are you a big golf fan? As it happens, Florida is one of the very top destinations not just in the US, but in the world, for ardent golfers. With some two hundred plus golf courses to choose between, there is hardly any surprise in that, so if you are a keen golfer you might not want to leave Florida before having a swing at one of those courses. If you have always wanted to play golf in one of the most beautiful settings on earth, then you need look no further than Florida itself – and it could be the ideal way to wrap up your holiday too.

These suggestions are a great way to get started in Florida, but bear in mind that there is much more besides. Take a look around and see what hidden gems you can discover too.

Chinchero, Maras Salineras, and Moray in Peru

CHINCHERO, MARAS SALINERAS, and MORAY: This was our first day-trip in Peru after spending a night in Lima and landing in Cusco the following morning. These small villages are not so touristy but has magnificent Incan sites. While the highlight of Chinchero is its colorful outdoor market, Maras Salineras is an awe-struck site of thousands of years of salt fields, and Moray Terrace displays the innovative and scientific minds of the Incans.

Moray Terrace surrounded by Andes, in Peru

Moray Terrace surrounded by Andes, in Peru

The cab drive/tour guide was reserved before we reached Cusco airport. It was relaxing but once we were near Moray and Maras, I felt the altitude sickness little bit with dizziness and light-headed feeling. My girls and I fell asleep during our drive from Maras Salineras to Moray because we were feeling really dizzy.

Also, if you are going to be in Peru for few days and are planning to visit multiple Inca sites, it’s cheaper to buy the Boleto Turistico pass for 130 Sols for adult and 70 Sols for kids, which gives you free access to many ancient sites for 10 days.

Scenic drive to Ollantaytambo at the end of the day

TIME of TRAVEL: We visited Peru end of August, 2017. It was winter there and very pleasant for us. We did carry sweaters for all of us since it can get a bit windy in the mountains and chilly at night.

OUR HOTEL: We really didn’t stay in any of these places, since it was just a day-trip on our way from Cusco to Ollantaytambo. Please check my upcoming post on Ollantaytambo to see our hotel. Tourists don’t usually stay in these places and I’m sure there aren’t many options here either. Ollantaytambo is within an hour drive and has lots of choices for lodging.

EATING and SHOPPING: We had lunch in the open market of Chinchero before visiting Santa Cataline Monastery on the hill. The food in Chinchero market were all street foods and women were cooking right there…openly. Food was very cheap with a nice big portion. We had fried trout with rice and potatoes. I also ordered a stuffed bell pepper with vegetables (deep fried). Don’t expect nice sitting arrangements and cleanliness, but it’s an experience we loved. We were just happy to actually get a table with 4 plastic chairs and sat down with few other locals and tourists.

Fried trout with rice, boiled potato, and veges in Chinchero market, Peru

Fried trout with rice, boiled potato, and veges in Chinchero market, Peru

Chinchero is a good place for buying small trinkets and hand craft items. You can find jewelries, home decors, wall hangings, shawls and sweaters, potteries, stuffed llamas, and lots of local goodies here. But do bargain, especially if you are buying multiple items from one vendor. When you are in Maras Salineras, buy few packages of natural salt from the mine at the entrance.

Vendors at Chinchero open market with their crafts

Vendors at Chinchero open market with their crafts

PLACES WE’VE VISITED: As I mentioned before, we were picked up from the Cusco airport in the morning by a previously appointed tour guide and went off to explore ancient and present Peru with all the luggage and backups. We reached our hotel in Ollantaytambo in the evening after visiting the below sites. It was not packed or tiring at all. We took it slow and enjoyed every bit of these country-sides and majestic Peruvian Andes.

Just one thing to remember is that, some people may get mild to severe altitude sickness in these areas. So, it’s better to drink some chlorophyll or coca tea right from the beginning of your trip. We got ours from the Vitamin World and coca leaves can be found in all the hotels or departmental stores near Cusco. I even saw free coca leaves in the airport also. It’ll help a lot, better to be feeling good than drowsy in your trip.

  1. CUSCO TEXTILE: It’s called Figueroa Alpaca Textile. As we entered the complex, we were greeted by llamas, baby alpaca, and guinea pigs. There was a small shaded area with all the materials to demonstrate how alpaca wool get processed into making different items. A lady in traditional Peruvian clothes walked in and introduced herself with her broken English. As she started to demonstrate the process, another lady walked in with 4 cups of mint tea in beautiful blue and white clay-made tea cups (which inspired me to buy those tea cup from Chinchero market). One thing that was really remarkable is that they use all natural product starting from cleaning the alpaca wool (juice from a plant) to dying them in different colors (all natural colors), to weaving them into different products.
A weaver working with alpaca wool at Figueroa Alpaca Textile in Peru

A weaver working with alpaca wool at Figueroa Alpaca Textile in Peru

After the demo, we were taken to a lady who was knitting a shawl from the alpaca wool. I was just eager to get to their store and explore some goodies. We ended up buying ponchos, shawls, sweaters, table clothes, and few small things for really good price. Items made with baby alpaca are very soft (softer than lamb wool) but can be expensive depending on location and complexity of the design.

An alpaca in Figueroa Alpaca Textile, Peru

An alpaca in Figueroa Alpaca Textile, Peru

  1. CHINCHERO: Chinchero is situated on higher ground than Cusco at almost 12,500 feet elevation. The Inca ruins here consist of nested terraces rising up to a plateau which can be viewed from the Santa Cataline Monastery. This is a church that was built in the early 1600s. We didn’t go inside and not sure if it’s even an active church or a museum. The site is included in Boleto Turistico pass.
Santa Cataline Monastery in Chinchero, Peru

Santa Cataline Monastery in Chinchero, Peru

Before climbing the hilly path to the monastery, we stopped at the open market area which is a heaven for souvenir hunters. Prices are not necessarily cheap here, but most of these items are hand crafted by the surrounding villagers. You can find potteries, shawls, table clothes, and other decors. I bought two traditional tea cups (without handles) for 20 USD both…not that cheap.

A lady in Chinchero market selling street food

A lady in Chinchero market selling street food

  1. MARAS SALINERAS: About an hour drive from narrow mountainous roads of Chinchero was the Salineras. This is a natural terraced salt mine in the Sacred Valley of the Incas. We could see the salt terraces from far as we were passing thru the mountains. Once you are at the gate, you have to walk for few minutes to get to the site, which I couldn’t do because my exhausted girls fell asleep in the car. You have to see the nestled salt pans in the canyon to understand how the salt from water at the Salineras spring has been transformed into salt crystals for thousands of years.
Driving to thru Andes towards MARAS SALINERAS in Peru

Driving to thru Andes towards MARAS SALINERAS in Peru

Salineras can be done in less than an hour.  Enjoy the high mountains and the drive to get here, it looks dangerous being so high up on the mountains and driving by the edge. But breathe in and trust your cab driver/tour guide and enjoy the peaks, cliffs, valleys, and fresh air.

Salt pans of MARAS SALINERAS in Peru

  1. MORAY TERRACE: Moray is very close to the town of Maras and sits in the Sacred Valley of the Incas about 3500 meters above sea-level. This was more like an experimental site for different types of produces for the Incans. Other than this archeological site of Moray, enjoy the surrounding giant Andes Mountains and small farms.
MORAY TERRACE in Peru, sits in the Sacred Valley of the Incas about 3500 meters above sea-level

MORAY TERRACE in Peru, sits in the Sacred Valley of the Incas about 3500 meters above sea-level

We stayed in Moray Terrace about half an hour. We didn’t go down to the terraces, but there are stairs for that. The site is included in Boleto Turistico.

5 Fun Things to Do in Koh Samui Thailand on the Weekend

The second largest island in Thailand, Koh Samui, is filled with tropical fun, great food and fantastic ways to relax on the weekends. Surrounded by forested mountains and stunning beaches, you can do as much or as little as you like. Take in the picturesque scenery and scents of exotic flowers, coconut groves and salty air while you decide what you want to do this weekend. Here are 5 suggestions to get you started:

1) Staying in

Stay in and submerge yourself in opulence with your own villa complete with a private pool. You can enjoy a dip in the refreshing waters before dinner, at midnight under the stars, or anytime you want too. Walls enclosing the area allow for optimal privacy, you know – just in case you and your love want some ‘alone time’ in the pool. Afterwards, you can lounge around on the plush bedding or relax in living room area. Two satellite TV’s, an ipod docking station and wireless internet will keep you in touch while still allowing you to be away from it all.

2) Soak up salty air

Soak up salty air, balmy breezes and fruity drinks from your oceanfront cabana at the beach club. Or, choose to lounge beside the pools, under the umbrellas or even in the water. There are plenty of cushioned loungers, sofas and beds for you and your friends to gather. Lather up with the suntan lotion, grab your glasses and stretch out to work on that tan. When you get too hot, just dip into the pristine pools (or the ocean) and repeat.

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3) Eat!

With so many great restaurants, especially fresh seafood, you should never go hungry. Do not miss the best Thailand has to offer- the Sunday brunch in Koh Samui. The Ultimate Sunday Brunch Club runs from 11:30 until 3:30. Enjoy the DJ and some great music while you dine on the finest oysters, Iberico ham, prime roast beef, sea bass, lobster and so much more. Local fresh fruits and vegetables, canapes, and luscious creme brulee will round off your meal. Take this opportunity to enjoy old favorites or to venture out and try everything new and flavorful. This is truly the best brunch on the island.

4) Spa and massage

Allow your chi to flow freely again in the spa. Here, masterful hands employ Chinese reflexology, traditional Thai massage, Japanese Reiki and Indian Ayuravedi to bring you back into balance. Enjoy being pampered alone or with your significant other during a couples massage. Flower petal-filled water, warm herb compresses, and strong hands will ease away your stress and restore your sense of well-being.

5) Adventure and scenery

2 days in Koh Samui will only wet your appetite for the things of this island. When this island is full of adventure and scenery. Get out of your resort and see the 12m- tall Golden Buddha at Wat Phra Yai Temple. Do some sea kayaking or snorkeling. Explore the night markets of Fisherman’s Village in Bophut. Here, the streets are blocked off and vendors sell everything from chicken satay and grilled meats to colorful elephants and silky wraps. Soak your feet in an aquarium filled with tiny fish waiting to exfoliate your feet by eating away the dead skin.

Thailand awaits with so many fun things to do in Koh Samui. Partake in the cultural delights, gorgeous mountain forests trails, warm sandy beaches, and culinary treats. You will never be bored. Come and explore Koh Samui soon.

 

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