Castillo de Chapultepec / Chapultepec Castle

One of my quick little weekend day adventures while in Mexico City was a brief visit to the Castle of Chapultepec, a royal castle that been used as everything from a royal residence, to a military academy, to a museum. It’s easy to get to on public transportation (it has its own metro stop) and is a quick little adventure for a morning or afternoon in Mexico City that will give you some nice views of the city.

While I can’t say that the museum was all that impressive, it was fun enough and it was worth the trip to see the only(?) royal castle in North America, some great views of the city, and some interesting murals and artifacts. The day I went, there was also a free ballet performance on an open stage out in front of the castle’s entrance.

Chapultepec Castle, Mexico City
The castle behind me…too bright to open my eyes! lol
Chapultepec Castle, Mexico City
View of Mexico City from the castle.
Chapultepec Castle, Mexico City
The back of the castle…I think is supposedly the site of the ni√Īos heroes.
Chapultepec Castle, Mexico City
Truthfully, I don’t remember what this is but it is in the front of the castle heading towards Reforma.
Chapultepec Castle, Mexico City
Weird, bending, panoramic view from the castle.

San Francisco

I don’t think much description is necessary about my trip to San Francisco. The city is a major tourist destination and everyone has wonderful things to say about it. My suggestions for what to do and see won’t add much to what you can find elsewhere on the internet, so I’ll just share some pictures instead ūüôā

Riding the trolley car in San Francisco
Riding the trolley.
Golden Gate Bridge
Golden Gate Bridge
Golden Gate Bridge
Golden Gate Bridge and what the suspension cables are made of.
Golden Gate Bridge suspension cable
Golden Gate Bridge suspension cable
Lombard Street from the top
Lombard Street from the top
Lombard Street from the bottom
Lombard Street from the bottom
Lombard Street from the bottom take 2
Lombard Street from the bottom take 2
Pier 39
Pier 39
Transamerica Pyramid
Transamerica Pyramid
Alcatraz
Alcatraz

Catamaran Sailing from Colombia to Panama

It’s the final week of my suggested travel bucket list for you ūüôĀ Not to worry though, I’ve still been traveling and I will have some more posts for you as well as some tips for how to make the most of your travel and how to get the best travel deals.

Anyway, back to the bucket list. In no particular order, my top 10 suggestions for your travel bucket list are:

  • Kayaking and swimming in the bioluminescent bay in Vieques, Puerto Rico
  • Seeing the millions of monarch butterflies in Michoacan, Mexico
  • Desert safari off-roading, camel riding, and dinner show in Dubai, UAE
  • The Grand Canyon in the USA
  • Superman zip-lining in the cloud forests of Costa Rica
  • Machu Picchu in Peru
  • Ruins of the city of Ephesus in Turkey
  • Helmet diving in the Caribbean
  • Crossing the Andes
  • Sailing from Colombia to Panama through the Sand Blas islands

This week I’ll talk about¬†sailing from Colombia to Panama on a catamaran.

Instead of flying back to Panama to wrap up my journey at the end of last year, I decided to sail there on a 52′ catamaran from Cartagena, Colombia. The journey was 5 days and took us through open ocean as well as through the San Blas islands on the Caribbean coast of Panama.

For more details and info about how to do it yourself, check out my original post about the experience and take a look at this video of the journey:

Crossing the Andes

Only 2 more weeks until the end of my list of suggestions for your travel bucket list. Of all of my adventures so far, these are the 10 things that stick out in my mind as the most memorable.

In no particular order, my top 10 suggestions for your travel bucket list are:

  • Kayaking and swimming in the bioluminescent bay in Vieques, Puerto Rico
  • Seeing the millions of monarch butterflies in Michoacan, Mexico
  • Desert safari off-roading, camel riding, and dinner show in Dubai, UAE
  • The Grand Canyon in the USA
  • Superman zip-lining in the cloud forests of Costa Rica
  • Machu Picchu in Peru
  • Ruins of the city of Ephesus in Turkey
  • Helmet diving in the Caribbean
  • Crossing the Andes
  • Sailing from Colombia to Panama through the Sand Blas islands

This week I’ll talk about¬†Crossing the Andes.

When I traveled from Santiago, Chile to Buenos Aires, Argentina last year, I decided to make a pit stop in Mendoza to get a taste of the Argentinian wine country. Instead of flying, I wanted to experience the zig-zagging roads that connect the two countries through the Andes, and I am definitely glad I did. The bus crossing was by far more entertaining than my time actually spent in Mendoza.

For more info, check out the video I took of some of the journey (it definitely does not do it justice) and/or read my original post on the crossing.

Helmet Diving in the Caribbean

We’re getting really close to the end of my list of suggestions for your travel bucket list.

In no particular order, my top 10 suggestions for your travel bucket list are:

  • Kayaking and swimming in the bioluminescent bay in Vieques, Puerto Rico
  • Seeing the millions of monarch butterflies in Michoacan, Mexico
  • Desert safari off-roading, camel riding, and dinner show in Dubai, UAE
  • The Grand Canyon in the USA
  • Superman zip-lining in the cloud forests of Costa Rica
  • Machu Picchu in Peru
  • Ruins of the city of Ephesus in Turkey
  • Helmet diving in the Caribbean
  • Crossing the Andes
  • Sailing from Colombia to Panama through the Sand Blas islands

This week I’ll talk about¬†Helmet Diving in the Caribbean.

While I have spent most of my life on the coast and have traveled extensively in the Caribbean, I have never learned how to scuba dive and even when it come to snorkeling I’m a novice. However, with so much time out on the ocean and on beautiful beaches, I had to eventually see what was going on down below the surface so I decided to try helmet diving.

Helmet diving is a super cool experience where you are given a helmet that looks something like an astronaut’s helmet so that you can walk around underwater while still breathing completely normally. No need to learn how to scuba dive or even to breath through your mouth like you must while snorkeling. You just go about your business breathing normally but are under the sea and get to see all of the amazing fish and other sea creatures.

I don’t have any pictures of myself doing the helmet dive because I don’t have an underwater camera but you can see what it’s like here.

I did my helmet dive in Grand Cayman while on a cruise so I was met at the pier by the guide and we were taken out to our dive spot on a small boat. You don’t go super deep below the surface because 1) you don’t wear wetsuits and it would be very cold if you went too far down and 2) in order to allow you to breathe normally your helmet is connected to oxygen on the boat through a tube and you need to be able to walk on the sea floor. My guess is that we were about 40 feet beneath the surface, but I am pretty bad at estimates like that and could be totally off.

One by one, all of the “divers” climb down the boat’s ladder to the sea floor. The guides don’t put the helmet on you until the last moment, because it’s heavy, but as soon as you’re under water, you don’t even notice the weight. I can be a bit of an anxious person and definitely started to get a bit nervous as I waited for my turn to descend and while climbing down the ladder because it sways quite a bit in the waves. However, once I reached the bottom it was easy to relax and enjoy the view – perhaps a bit too easy because these helmets simply rest on your shoulders, they’re not air-tight, so if you lean your head too far forward or backward to look at something, water will rush in. It’s easy to correct by simply straightening up and there are guides in scuba gear with you to correct for you if you need assistance, but it’s still startling to be engrossed in watching a tropical fish and then all of a sudden feel your breathing space filling with water.

The tour I was on gave us quite a good amount of time on the sea floor to enjoy the experience and also allowed each of us to feed some of the fish a few times so they would come right up to you and take fish food out of your hand – some actually even pinch you a bit.

This was hands down one of the coolest experiences I’ve had because, before hearing about this, I didn’t think I would ever have the opportunity to see the fish like this without putting in the time to learn to scuba. You can find helmet diving tours all over the Caribbean and I highly recommend it if you ever have the opportunity.

Just one tip: the boat you go to the dive spot in is rather small and moves quite a bit in the waves so, if you’re prone to seasickness, make sure to take whatever remedy or medication works for you before you head out on this tour and ask to be one of the first ones down the ladder.

Ephesus

Here we are in week 7 of my suggestions for your travel bucket list.

In no particular order, my top 10 suggestions for your travel bucket list are:

  • Kayaking and swimming in the bioluminescent bay in Vieques, Puerto Rico
  • Seeing the millions of monarch butterflies in Michoacan, Mexico
  • Desert safari off-roading, camel riding, and dinner show in Dubai, UAE
  • The Grand Canyon in the USA
  • Superman zip-lining in the cloud forests of Costa Rica
  • Machu Picchu in Peru
  • Ruins of the city of Ephesus in Turkey
  • Helmet diving in the Caribbean
  • Crossing the Andes
  • Sailing from Colombia to Panama through the Sand Blas islands

This week I’ll talk about¬†Ephesus.

Ephesus is an ancient Greek city in Turkey that I visited while on a cruise last February stopping in Italy, Greece, and Turkey (the port is Izmir).

I’m not necessarily a ruins addict, though I have seen a number of ruins from various civilizations throughout Europe and Latin America, but Ephesus was pretty unforgettable. Firstly, the city is much more massive than almost any other ruins I have visited and its level of preservation is quite impressive. The streets, buildings, drainage, sewage system, and sign system is stunning when you consider how little we’ve progressed in so much time. Additionally, there are a number of fun facts the tour guide will give you that keep things amusing such as noting that there is a secret underground tunnel connecting the city’s main library with its most popular brothel to allow the men of this ancient city to have their fun without their wives suspecting anything.

The tour I took was pretty comprehensive and I thoroughly enjoyed the visit. I apologize, but since I visited while on a cruise and got ship to site service via the shore excursions team, I can’t really give you much information about how to get there.

Below are some photos from my visit.

My cousin and I in front the library in Ephesus
My cousin and I in front the library (that has a secret underground passage to the brothel across the street).
Ephesus
Ancient roadway leading to the library.
Amphitheater in Ephesus
View of the amphitheater.
Amphitheater in Ephesus
Part of a performance they do every hour or so on the edge of the ruins.
Toilets and sewage system in Ephesus
Our tour guide showing us the toilets and sewage/drainage system.
More from the performance.

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Machu Picchu (Again)

It’s week 6 of my bucket list…well, not my¬†bucket list because I’ve already done all of these but rather, things you should add to¬†your¬†bucket list.

In no particular order, my top 10 suggestions for your travel bucket list are:

  • Kayaking and swimming in the bioluminescent bay in Vieques, Puerto Rico
  • Seeing the millions of monarch butterflies in Michoacan, Mexico
  • Desert safari off-roading, camel riding, and dinner show in Dubai, UAE
  • The Grand Canyon in the USA
  • Superman zip-lining in the cloud forests of Costa Rica
  • Machu Picchu in Peru
  • Ruins of the city of Ephesus in Turkey
  • Helmet diving in the Caribbean
  • Crossing the Andes
  • Sailing from Colombia to Panama through the Sand Blas islands

This week I’ll talk about¬†Machu Picchu.

This post was originally published here.

You absolutely cannot go to Peru without visiting Machu Picchu. In fact, most people that go to Peru for vacation make the trip specifically for Machu Picchu.

When I visited I did so on a tour that also took me to a number of other archaeological sites, provided city tours, and took me to Lake Titicaca and its floating islands. For the Machu Picchu portion of the trip I arrived in Cusco the day before, where I did some touring and exploring but then headed to bed early in order to make it to the train station early the morning of my visit to Machu Picchu. The train from Cusco – where you will most likely fly into – to Aguascalientes – the tiny city closest to Machu Picchu takes about 3.5 hours each way, so you’ll want to head out early. When you arrive on the train you’ll then hop on a shuttle bus to take you up a winding maintain roadway to the entrance of Machu Picchu.

The videos I took absolutely do not capture what you’ll see when you visit in person, but it’s worth checking out anyway – just try to imagine the thin air and amazing views.

Superman Zip-lining in the Costa Rican Cloud Forest

Continuing on with my list of some of the most amazing travel experiences I’ve had and would suggest you add to your bucket list.

In no particular order, my top 10 suggestions for your travel bucket list are:

  • Kayaking and swimming in the bioluminescent bay in Vieques, Puerto Rico
  • Seeing the millions of monarch butterflies in Michoacan, Mexico
  • Desert safari off-roading, camel riding, and dinner show in Dubai, UAE
  • The Grand Canyon in the USA
  • Superman zip-lining in the cloud forests of Costa Rica
  • Machu Picchu in Peru
  • Ruins of the city of Ephesus in Turkey
  • Helmet diving in the Caribbean
  • Crossing the Andes
  • Sailing from Colombia to Panama through the Sand Blas islands

Today’s post will be about¬†the¬†Zip-lining in Costa Rica’s cloud forest.

Zip-lining in Costa Rica is a pretty well-known activity for visitors to the Central American country, deservedly so. There are tons of options for you to take a zip-lining tour and you can do it as a single activity or combine it with other tours. Basically, you head up into the rainforest, get strapped into a harness, and fly through the canopy of the rainforest. Not only is it fun to whiz across the zip-line itself, but also you’ll get some great views of the rainforest from up above.

I did a post on this earlier in the Where in the World? blog, which you can check out here for a bit more detail on exactly what I did. You can also watch the video of it here:

One thing that’s important to note, however, is that you want to be sure to choose a tour that offers the “superman,” because this isn’t offered on all of the tours and it’s one of the coolest experiences. This is when you are strapped into a special harness that allows you to be on your stomach in a superman position as you zip through the canopy and it’s the closest thing to feeling like flying that I have ever experienced (though I have never sky-dived or used one of those flying suits, but this works for the fainter of heart).

The Grand Canyon

Week number 4 of my list of some of the most amazing travel experiences I’ve had and would suggest you add to your bucket list.

In no particular order, my top 10 suggestions for your travel bucket list are:

  • Kayaking and swimming in the bioluminescent bay in Vieques, Puerto Rico
  • Seeing the millions of monarch butterflies in Michoacan, Mexico
  • Desert safari off-roading, camel riding, and dinner show in Dubai, UAE
  • The Grand Canyon in the USA
  • Superman zip-lining in the cloud forests of Costa Rica
  • Machu Picchu in Peru
  • Ruins of the city of Ephesus in Turkey
  • Helmet diving in the Caribbean
  • Crossing the Andes
  • Sailing from Colombia to Panama through the Sand Blas islands

Today’s post will be about¬†the¬†Grand Canyon.

I really don’t feel like I need to give too much description for this post. Everyone knows what the Grand Canyon is and that it’s a bit of a must see.

When I visited the Grand Canyon I did so as a day trip while I was in Las Vegas. I don’t remember the name of the tour group but I just did a Google search and chose the least expensive company with great reviews and it worked out for me.

I was picked up from my hotel early in the morning and the tour lasted the entire day with a stop at the Hoover Dam and then also at the Grand Canyon. I was on a tour that allowed us to visit multiple sites at the Grand Canyon and provided lunch and a performance by a Native American Dance Troupe (though they did mention that the tribal dances they performed were not those of the Indian people who actually inhabit the land around the Grand Canyon, so that was a bit odd).

If you have the opportunity to go see the Grand Canyon, do it. That’s really all I can say. However, if you have children, be careful! The part of the Grand Canyon that I visited does not have any fences or other barriers to keep you from falling over the edge. If your children may be curious and wander over to the edge, it may be better to wait until they’re a bit older before visiting.

I also recommend that you bite the bullet and pay to go on the Sky Walk – the glass walkway that extends out over the Canyon so you can look straight down into it – even though you can’t bring your own cameras out onto it. It’s a bit of a tourist trap in terms of waiting and pricing, but it’s worth it to have the experience and be able to say you did it.

Check out some photos from my visit below:

DSCF0738 DSCF0741 DSCF0749 DSCF0751