Mexico

Cancun to Playa Del Cramen Day Trip Guide

January 6, 2017

 Getting to Playa del carmen : The ADO bus is a fast and cost effective way to travel from Cancun to PDC.   The ride is only an hour long and costs 65 pesos each way. View the ADO schedule here . Plan to arrive to PDC around 8 a.m. and explore the beach  right outside of the terminal and some of the surrounding shops on 5th avenue.

Cenote Azul : Next,  take a collectivos for 40 pesos and head North to Cenote Azul. Tell the driver where you are going and they will inform you when your stop is approaching.  You will literally get dropped off on the side of the road but do not panic, a 30 second walk will land you right at the entrance (the entrance fee is 30 pesos). It gets pretty packed in the afternoon so come as early as possible. This cenote has a natural partition separating it into 2 sides. Enjoy cliff diving and swimming on one side and snorkeling and an au natural fish pedicure on the other!

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Cenote Jardin del Eden: What’s next? Well, head to Cenote Jardein del Eden which is only a 5 minute walk south. Pay the 100 pesos entrance fee to the guard and embark on a 15-20 minute stroll until you reach the actual cenote. I recommend packing your lunch as there are not many options for food and all the swimming and walking will definitely leave you hungry. Cenote Jardin del Eden was much larger that cenote Azul which resulted in a pleasant opportunity to find a spot all to myself to enjoy lunch while relaxing and taking in the views.

 

Akumal Beach: After Cenote Jardin cross the street (so you are heading in the opposite direction) and hop on the collectivos for 20 pesos to Akumal Beach! What’s so special about this beach you may ask, well… you get to swim with sea turtles!!! How cool! The beach is a 7 minute walk from where the collectivos drops you off.  Don’t be afraid to ask a local to make sure you are heading in the right direction, everyone was very helpful and you should have no problems at all.  Upon arriving you’ll be approached by different agencies offering snorkel equipment and a private guide to go swim with  the sea turtles. I was able to bargain the price down from 30 USD to 20 USD. What a steal considering the sea turtle tours to Akumal from PDC typically cost 80 – 100 USD per person!!  There are also several restaurants on Akumal beach, if you get hungry you can grab a quick lunch here for about 5 USD.

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Explore 5th Street: If you’re not too tired, take the collectivos back to PDC ( I believe its the last stop). From there catch a taxi to 5th avenue (approximately 100 pesos) , the famous PDC strip where there are tons of restaurants and shops. it’s the perfect way to end the evening.  I stumbled upon some memorable stores and met some pretty cool travelers. I recommend not missing out on the 2 listed below!!

Jellyfish -www.jellyfish.com.mx

sells Jellyfish lamps made Playa del carmen by Mayan artisans. All lamps are made from natural products supplied by nature . lamps range form 25.00 and each has their own meaning etched into them, represented by the Mayan symbols . The symbols and their respective meanings can also be found on the website.

 

Tierra Huichol – http://tierrahuichol.com

I was blown away when i witnessed first hand 2 Huichol men sitting in front of the store patiently placing each bead one by one onto their masterpiece cohesively creating  an intricate work of art! It takes 4 hours to make the smallest of the pieces that were for sale and weeks for some of the larger ones.  WOW!

 

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View the ADO schedule here for your return bus to Cancun. I ended up staying in Playa so I didnt need a return bus.

North America, South Florida

Cheap family road trip to North carolina

November 4, 2016
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Traveling in itself can prove to be quite expensive if the necessary precautions aren’t made. For one, a budget should always be planned and implemented as expenses can proliferate rapidly resulting in you looking t your bank statement thinking ” what just happened?”  With that being said traveling with kids ups the stakes and makes it that more challenging. ” I’m Hungry!” , “I’m thirsty!”,  “Can we do this activity today?”  the list goes on. Needless to say, kids are expensive. But that doesn’t  have to deter your from showing them the world and broadening their perspective on life.

I plan to share, in detail,  how my fiance and I took our 5 nieces and nephews on a beautiful 4 day trip to the Smokey mountain without exceeding our $1,500.00 budget.

Food- Before the trip we went to Costco and stocked up on juices, fruits, healthy snacks, cereal , milk and whatever else we thought the kids would need and enjoy. We spent $241.43 and we didn’t even eat everything we purchased so next time we will be spending much less.

For the drive to and from North Carolina and whenever else we were in the van we had coolers packed with juices, snacks, lunch meat & cheese, and tuna salad for sandwiches. Being prepared everywhere we went eradicated the need for us to have to purchase food on the road.

Rental Car: $313.77

Lodging- I figured since we were traveling with kids renting a house would be in our benefit as it would be cheaper than a hotel and we could cook dinner, breakfast and pre-pack their lunches. We found a lovely place on airbnb.com near the Nantahala forest in Franklin, NC for $460.00 for 3 days.

Gas – Gas was surprisingly not as expensive as I thought it would be. Driving to and From North Carolina and driving all through North Carolina and returning the car on full as we received it only cost us (6 x 34.00) $204.00.

Activities-  Being surrounded by nature made keeping the kids happy, engaged, and entertained effortless.

Day 1: On our first day we stayed at the house and explored the forest surrounding us. They were happy to show us an abandoned tree house they found, see animals in their habitat , run through the fall leaves and start a campfire once the sun had set.

Day 2: We spent the morning apple picking and wagon riding at Sky top Orchard. From there, we drove 35 minutes to Pisgah gem mine and boy oh boy was it worth the drive! The kids had an amazing time digging in their buckets and learning about the variety of gems they found and the customer service there was exceptional.

From there we found a cool lake on our way home and stopped so the kids could get out and run around, climb and explore!

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Day 3:  We drove 1 hour North and headed to Asheville to hop on the Blue Ridge Parkway after exploring the Blue ridge parkway and stopping at the various overlooks we went on a search for waterfalls.  We visited Cullasaja Falls, Soco Falls, Bust Your Butt Falls. We then stopped at the store and purchased a few items to make smores which rounded out to approximately $20.00. Once we got home we started our campfire and spent the evening enjoying our smores and star gazing.

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And the grand total isssssss…. $1239.20 for a 4 day road trip with 5 kids and 2 adults!

Greece

Santorini, Greece – Where to stay – Fira vs. Oia vs. Imerovigli

July 12, 2016

Before heading to Santorini I researched endlessly for information on which town would be the best location for my base. After reviewing different opinions, from many different blogs, I felt none the more equipped to decide so I literally just chose one.

First let me start off by saying that the three main towns are not very far from each other. You can get from Oia to Fira in about 25 minutes  on the public bus. The cost is 2 euros. The buses come every 15 to 20 minutes making it extremely convenient to get around .

Another recommendation is to book your hotel accommodations far in advance. The beach side hotels with amazing infinity pools overlooking the caldera that flood your social media timelines sell out quickly. Waiting the last minute not only makes it more difficult to obtain but it also makes it a lot more expensive.

 

Fira – Fira town is definitely the place to be if you are looking for great night life after your day of exploration. Bars overlooking the caldera such as Tango have been in operation for years and are popular night life destinations. Due to the  shops and restaurants in the main square not closing until approx 12:00 am.  late night shopping and a stroll through the town makes for a laid back but eventful evening. In my opinion, this is NOT the place to stay if you are visiting Santorini for its romantic charm.

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Oia -  Oia is a beautifully quaint town with everything in close proximity. Restaurants, Bars, shopping, everything! Oia contains the perfect mix of romanticism and nightlife,  enjoy strolls through the town with beautiful views of the caldera all around during the day and  switch it up for a night out on the town in the evening. Because Oia is a small town and an extremely popular destination it can feel like you never have the place to yourself.

Like most, I’m sure you have read that this is the “go to” spot to experience the prominent Santorini sunset. Through truly breathtaking,  watching the sunset in Oia can prove to be a tedious feat. The streets are literally overflowing with tourists making it impossible to fully enjoy the experience.  It is literally crowded with thousands of people scattering around trying to find the perfect location with the best view.   When you do find the perfect spot, it requires you to be in position approximately 1.5 hours in advance to be at the front of the crowd. There are plenty of other places to watch the sunset without the hassle of fighting for a view.

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Imerovigli-   This was my absolute favorite town  to photograph. I spent the day getting lost through the pathways with breathtaking views of the caldera on every corner. Upon arrival I was pleasantly surprised by the lack of tourists, It was almost as if I had the place all to myself!  Not only can you experience epic views of sunset but you can do it from anywhere and without the crowd that accompanies it. Imerogvigli is centrally located in between Oia and Fira  making visiting either of them an easy trek. Take a cab, walk  or a 15 minute bus ride. Here you can have the option of enjoying Santorini at your own leisure in serenity then heading out of the town when you want to experience the night life.

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**Other locations to consider-  Firostefani , Perissa , Monolithos **