Posts Tagged ‘Travel’


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


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.


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.

Cartagena wasn’t the city that I imagined. Actually I can say that was my least favorite city in Colombia (among the ones I visited). Don’t take me wrong, some parts were unbelievable, but in overall it was not “a fairytale city of romance” that I expected to be. On the other hand, if you like photography, this can be a right place for you.

I liked the extreme change of weather from Bogota to Cartagena as soon as we took off from the plane. It felt very humid and very green. According to locals, usually the weather over there is hot or hotter. But while we were there, there were Tropical showers most of the time. Sitting on the cab and heading to our hotel. I found the city a little bit dirty with skinny hungry dogs walking around everywhere, and not very accessible beaches but I loved the sweet sticky heat in a city.We stayed in Caribe Hotel, which was next to the beach and close to the other well known hotels. The good thing about the hotel was breakfast buffet in the morning and also its hugs pool. Although the hotel was comfortable, I would prefer to go to hustle to meet and hang out with more tourists around our ages.

Historic center! Fine colonial buildings! That was basically the reason we came to Cartagena. We went to Historical center the day after our arrival. Apparently it was Sunday so there wasn’t that much visitors around and most of the stores were closed. Before I get to Cartagena I heard that the city air is addictive, and you never want to leave the city after that, but for me, it wasn’t like that. I couldn’t wait to go to the next destination.


Posted: October 25, 2009 in Catch me on the the road
Tags: , , ,

First night, we stayed at Hotel La Fontana Estelar. The hotel was nice, but the neighborhood wasn’t. We arranged a shuttle to pick us up from the airport, and later on we found out it was a bad idea since they charged us almost three times more than a regular taxi, but at that time we didn’t care since we were concerned only about the safety. As soon as we checked in we followed one of our friend’s recommendations and straight went to Andres Carne de Res. It was a party restaurant located in Chia in the far north of the city. The taxi rate is around 30.000 COP to get there. And obliviously we paid twice for going there, and 4 times more coming back. I don’t recommend going to South America or Central America for vacation, if you don’t know any Spanish. The place was very cheerful, with fancy drinks and loud music. It was a must see place in Bogota. The south amrican ambiance will hit you as soon as you walked in. The place put mostly Salsa music, some pop Colombian hits and also lots of 80’s dance music. Some songs reminded me of Cat Club’s Thursday nights in San Francisco. One thing about Bogota that bothered me was the pollution. It was extremely polluted specially around our hotel. In our second day, we check out Museo Del Oro and around it, and headed to Cartagena in afternoon. Bogota didn’t impress me at all at the first time, but I changed my mind on the way back when we stayed in Hotel La Boheme. At the last night of our trip we chose La Boheme to stay which was located in the Zona Rosa. It was in the high end neighborhood with neat restaurants, coffee shops, and fancy boutiques. We felt very safe over there, so walked around the neighborhood until around midnight. This neighborhood was more European like and doesn’t give you the feel of South America. Except Latin musics that were playing loud everywhere. We didn’t have that much time to stay in Bogota, but I could guess I would like it if I stayed there more.