There was a square that developed, in the 17-th century, as a carriage park for farmers and peasants. The square called Leidsepoort, because it was the end of the main road from Amsterdam to Leiden, which is now, one of the main Amsterdam’s attraction, or “Center of nighttime”.  If you are looking for theatres, lots of cafes and restaurants, cinemas, casino, … Leidseplein will be the place for you to start the night.

I was in Amsterdam, a few years ago, just for two days. I didn’t have that much time to waste, so one of my local friends wrote down the main attractions which I’m going to share here for you. The first thing you should do, as soon as you land there, is to rent a bike, and if you get there early in the morning, like I did, go straight to “The Pancake Bakery”; One of the most famous pancake places in the world.

The Pancake Bakery

This was the list of the “coffee shops”, which were popular when I went there. (Please let me know if there are more now so I can try them next time)

–    De Dampkring

–     Dutch Flowers

–     Tweede Kamer

Night Life

–       Elf-Oosterdokskade

–       Leidseplein Square

–       Melkweg

–       Paradiso

–       Sugar FactoryAmsterdam2

… and more MUST-SEE:

–       Dam Square

–       Rijksmuseum

–       De 9 Straatjes

–       Canals

–      Nieuwmarkt

–       Van Gogh Museum


Image  —  Posted: January 21, 2014 in Catch me on the the road, Europe
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After losing some luggages during my last trips (especially with UNITED), I’ve learned my lesson; now I have my check lists for different type of getaways.
If you want to pack light and also look great for your weekend getaway, this list can help for any warm destination you have in mind:
– Your Camera with extra battery or charger
– Sunglasses
– Tooth brush, small tube of toothpaste and floss
– A hairbrush (this is my favorite from sephora)
– Deodorant
– Shampoo, conditioner, soap ( this one is good for both washing face and body)sunscreen and SPF lip balm
– A pair of jeans
– One short shorts
– Two tanks/ T-shirts
– A hoodie
– Two bikinis
– A beach wrap
– 4 pairs of underwear, three bras (one strapless, one sports bra and one of your favorites)
– A colorful/floral sundress and one tank dress
– One pair of flip flops, one pair of sneakers and a pair of heels
– Hoop earring
– A funky necklace
– Pain reliever and allergy meds

Oh! I forgot to mention in the beginning… this is a packing list for girls. I think most of the guys don’t need checklist anyway.

The air was soft, the stars so fine, the promise of every cobbled alley so great, that I thought I was in a dream.”
– Jack Kerouac, On the Road


Today, when I got locked out of my apartment, something interesting happened that inspired me to end my Tree Bones trip memoir.
In our trip to big sure, I forgot to bring a book to read. Typically I take several books with me to vacations, along with sketch book, charcoals, camera and all those other “necessary” items. But that time, I didn’t know how I forgot to take any books. So the first thing I did, when I arrived there, checked out the little Convenience store to see if I could find anything interesting to read. They had several books of Big Sur’s attractions, and among them there was an autobiography; “On the road” by Jack Kerouac. I picked it up went through the pages and loved it. I got back to our yurt, one thing came after another and somehow I forgot about the book. Second day, when I came back to store for the book, it was gone. Apparently they had just one copy and someone bought it. I was like: “one day…. “

Today, I was behind the locked door, waiting for my extra key to arrive, one of my neighbors came and brought a book to me to read while I was waiting. So “on the road” came to me, by itself, at the best time possible.

Tree Bones Resort
Tree bones Resort was very attractive. It was a place to enjoy life. I loved ocean and loved mountain even more. So it was perfect for me. This place could be an inspiring set for an artist or an ideal getaway for outdoor lovers. There were lots of activities around and three days was not enough; Biking, Visiting Hearst Castle, watching sunset from Jacuzzi and lot more.
Except visiting “Hearst Castle” many of our pastimes resembled our childhood games: Playing with woods and jumping from one rock to another at Pfiffer state park, making waffles in the lodge each morning, diving to the pool and biking…

The staffs were so friendly that made me feel like home. They had their own organic garden and entrees were made with ripe product harvested from the garden.

The yurt was facing ocean, and the sun set view with a bottle of wine was just perfect.

Beautiful clean swimming pool with Jacuzzi was perfect after long day hiking.

My favorite part of day was playing back gaming next to fire place after dinner.

A few months ago, through one of my followers in Twitter, I found a website that had all the camping spots around the world. Not just a regular camping, they were “glamorous camping” . I surfed through all of them and find the one in Africa my dream spot: The Tarangire tree tops
There were three places in USA for camping, and the closest one to us was Tree Bones Resort.
Since it’s the calm before the holiday storm, I decided to reserve a yurt for a weekend to experience my first luxury camping.
The tree bone is almost halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco. To get there, I chose the most beautiful drive, Highway 1.

For getting to the camp place I need to hike, so I tried my best to pack as light as possible:
Flash light
Warm Jacket
Soft pair of gloves
Green tea bag
Some snacks
Bathing suits
… and of course the spirit of fall

The day I was looking forward to it began, and we were excitedly waiting with a bag full of mangos for Manuel’s driver to give us ride. It appeared, we had another traveler share the trip with us. He was a friend of Manuel who was in a business trip from Australia, very pleasant guy.

Parque Nacional Tayrona was on the jungle covered coast east of Santa Marta. It took around an hour to get to that Majestic Beauty. The admission supposed to be US $9 and no surprise that we had to pay much more because we were not “locals”.

Oh boy! It was totally worth it to come to Colombia just for those coconut palms shading the beaches, awesome wood smell, fogs covering mountain, and a massage bed right in front of the ocean (luxury at a bargain).

The driver showed us to a beach which, as he said, was hidden from Tourists. It was unbelievable. A scene from heaven!! Too bad we couldn’t swim there since two armed guys guarded the place and warned us not even thinking about swimming there. I heard from driver and several tourists that Tayrona was the loveliest yet most dangerous part of Colombia. (I leave the reason to your imagination.)
Riding with a jeep in the bumpy road, wild nature, and forewarning of the driver to leave before dark made me feel inside one of the Indiana Jones movies. I was not into horse ridding but there was an option to rent horses and wander around the jungle. We finally found a beach that we could swim for awhile. With perfect water temperature and an awesome view it was heartbreaking to leave the beach.
At the end, I was glad for leaving the best part for the end.

A million thanks to beautiful Katrizza and nice Manuel.


We are getting close to the best parts of the trip: Taganga and Tayrona park!
Most of the guys that we talked at Andres Carne de Res voted Taganga as the best part of the trip. I voted for Tayrona but still agreed with them. Who could resist the relaxed fishing village lured by sun and sand?
I loved the village’s beach which was packed with boats and open-air restaurants. I’ve noticed there were more tourists than locals, so I guessed Taganga WAS a backpacker hideaway. We walked around the village and then got to our friend’s boat and headed to the beach. The place we went for swimming, reminded me of “The beach” movie. Although I know that movie was filmed somewhere else, the view of the beach and the ambiance was kind of resembling. For lunch, our friend recommended one of the open air restaurant next to the beach. A local woman showed us a big tray with different type of fishes to choose from. My sister chose a flat golden fish (it was kind of big) and I chose one small white one. Apparently, none of our choices was good since we ended up both eating a big pinkish fish. (I don’t remember any of those names, but I’m sure the pink one is not Salmon)

Santa Marta

Santa Marta

Finally cool Caribbean blue view! That was close to my idea of a great vacation!

The long road that leaded us from Cartagena to Santa Marta was pretty scary. And I don’t think I want to bring back that memory by writing about it. (In case you are wondering, just let me know)

Although getting there was a challenge, as soon as we got there, the warm hospitality of Katrizza lift our mood right away. She had an apartment next to the ocean with a pool. Her neighborhood was a heartbreaking beauty and her Caribbean style apartment added a vibrant cultural scene.
First night we were exhausted so we went straight to our rooms where clean neat towels and coffee cookies from “Eje Cafetero” were waiting for us on our beds. The day after, we went to pool and then got prepared to explore the area with one of Katrizza’s friends who volunteered to be our tour leader for the rest of the trip. We just had one day to explore the city before going to Tayrona Park and Taganga. I loved the city as most tourists did too. We checked out the hairy status of Carlos Alberto “El Pibe” Valderrama Palacio, one of my favorite football player, and also visited the oldest school in the country. And … I had my first mango, I mean real first time mango of my life. After that I was eating mango pretty much every 2-3 hours for weeks until I got tired of it.