A Perfect Day in Minca, Colombia

Colombia’s Magdalena department has more to offer than Santa Marta and Tayrona National Park‘s beautiful beaches; it is also home to Minca, a small village located high in the Sierra Nevada mountains.  Some people choose to spend a few days in Minca, enjoying the slow pace of life, but it is also a great option for a day trip from Santa Marta or Taganga.  Hire a taxi to take you to the cool mountains, and you’ll be there in no time.  I’ve outlined a full day of Minca activities, after the jump.

Continue reading “A Perfect Day in Minca, Colombia”

The Beaches of Tayrona National Park

After the boat ride from hell (seriously – take the horses or hike!!), we finally arrived at Cabo San Juan.  I wish I had a photo of our first glimpse of the cape, because it was stunning.  Turquoise water, white sand, lush palm trees, mountain backdrops, and flocks of pelicans flying overhead.  It felt like we had stepped back through time.

The surf at Cabo San Juan is strong – I merely went for a quick dip and felt like I could have easily been pulled out to sea.  Our merry little band walked through the jungle to get to La Piscina, the nearby swimming beach.

Continue reading “The Beaches of Tayrona National Park”

Up the Colombian Coast: Santa Marta & Taganga

I definitely shouldn’t have tried to start blogging again during the holidays.  Now that they’re over, stories of Colombia await.  Up first: Santa Marta.

Santa Marta is an improbable city nestled between the bright blue Caribbean Sea and the Sierra Nevadas, the highest coastal mountain range in the world.  Palm trees and cacti dot the landscape.  The winter winds blow ferociously.

This port city is the site of the first Spanish settlement in Colombia.  It’s also one of the best jumping off points for nearby Tayrona National Park and the 6-day trek to La Ciudad Perdida, Colombia’s lost city that predates Machu Picchu by 650 years.

Continue reading “Up the Colombian Coast: Santa Marta & Taganga”

5 Top Travel Tips for Any Destination

For the month of November, I’ll be participating in BootsnAll‘s Indie Travel Challenge.  Click here to go to the beginning.

Some of the best and worst experiences of your life can be made while traveling. I’ve definitely made a lot of mistakes over the years, but being prepared for any situation and planning ahead can significantly improve any trip. Here are my five top travel tips for any trip, no matter the destination. Continue reading “5 Top Travel Tips for Any Destination”

Best Cafe in Istanbul

For the month of November, I’ll be participating in BootsnAll‘s Indie Travel Challenge.  Click here to go to the beginning.  Today’s question: tell us about an experience you had from information you got from a local.

A Local’s Perspective

Back in April, Andy and I visited Turkey.  After a great time in Cappadocia (to be outlined in a future post), we flew to Istanbul for a few days.  Istanbul was such an amazing city and I really think it should be added to any traveler’s short list.  The people were so welcoming, the food was excellent, and there is so much to do and see.  That goes for the rest of Turkey, as well! Continue reading “Best Cafe in Istanbul”

Hidden Gems of Washington, DC

For the month of November, I’ll be participating in BootsnAll‘s Indie Travel Challenge.  Click here to go to the beginning.  In this post, I discuss one of the best hidden gems in my current city of residence – Washington, D.C.  No travel lover should miss this!

Tell us a place in your hometown, or in the town you’re in now, that you think more visitors should experience.

Washington, DC is an interesting city.  I definitely think people who are from this area take for granted the 20+ free Smithsonian museums, incredible monuments, and excellent day trips (some less than 1 hour from the city).  You don’t need a car to take advantage of all it has to offer, either.  If you’re considering adding Washington, DC to your United States itinerary, remember that the same museums would cost $20+ in any other city.  I’m happy to answer questions below, too, if you have them.

That being said, most visitors hit the same places ad nauseam – Smithsonian museums and art galleries, the city’s free zoo, monuments, tidal basin, White House, Capitol building.  Locals know the hidden gems.  I have a few favorites (Hillwood Estate, Glenstone in Potomac, MD, Great Falls National Park, Maine Ave Fish Market), but I really love Embassy Day. Continue reading “Hidden Gems of Washington, DC”

Learning from Long-term Travel

For the month of November, I’ll be participating in BootsnAll‘s Indie Travel Challenge.  Click here to go to the beginning.

I grew up in suburban America, descended from immigrants who came to this country to escape persecution and try their hand at the American Dream.  My great-grandmother came from Latvia, alone, with two silver spoons.  Sometimes I wonder about what that experience must have been like – she carried no possessions, came alone on a ship full of immigrants from around the world, to a place she had never been and couldn’t possibly imagine. Continue reading “Learning from Long-term Travel”

Prioritizing Experiences & Eliminating Possessions

For the month of November, I’ll be participating in BootsnAll‘s Indie Travel Challenge.  Click here to go to the beginning.  Unlike some travel challenges, this isn’t just answering questions – as you’ll see below.

How is having experiences better than having possessions?

Experiences and possessions both bring joy, but in different ways.  Think back to childhood… perhaps there was a toy you’d always wanted (Skydancers anyone?), but after you finally got it, it was far less interesting.  During that same time, an experience – a trip to the beach, acting in the school play, your first concert – had all of the lead-up excitement and then continued to entertain afterwards.  I still feel a certain nostalgic happiness when I think back on some of my favorite experiential memories, yet I’m not as enamored when I think of once-treasured possessions.  In sum: despite all logic to the contrary, experiences last longer (in memory!).

That was easy.  Now to the more challenging part. Continue reading “Prioritizing Experiences & Eliminating Possessions”

Why I Travel

BootsnAll, a favorite travel website of mine, is hosting an Indie Travel Challenge – starting today! I thought it’d be a great way to reflect on what travel means to me, and why it’s such an important part of my life.  On some days, I’ll be answering questions, and on others, I’ll have action items to complete.  It’s basically travel truth-or-dare. Continue reading “Why I Travel”

I’m baaaaaack!

Hi readers — welcome to the new blog!

You may have noticed a definite… lag… in posting frequency.  I already have a long list of trips to recap: Cambodia! Vietnam! Montreal! Colombia! Turkey! Utah!  Please add my new site to your blog roll, and look out for updates soon (I pinky swear).

Since late 2013, I’ve called Washington, DC home, and will probably also include updates from around the Mid-Atlantic region of the US.  Never fear – despite living back in my home country, my wanderlust is far from sated and I still seek out adventure where I can get it.  One more trip to Cartagena and Santa Marta, Colombia is currently planned, and a trip to the UK looms overhead.  Stay tuned!