Posts Tagged ‘Vacation’


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.

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.


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.

Volcan de Lodo El Totumo:
Highlight of the trip! No surprise that I liked this particular adventure since I’m a spa girl. But this mud bath experience is totally different from what you can get in a regular Spa Salon. This volcano is the subject of considerable legend. The locals believed it once spewed fire, lava and ash but this was considered to be the work of the devil by a priest. He sprinkled it frequently with holy water and it slowly extinguished, drowning the devil in mud. I’m sure most of the tourists, including me, go there for a nutrient-rich natural bath rather than visiting devil.
The bus that took us there was very clean. The passengers were from around the world, Finland, Ireland, Australia, Costa Rica, and etc. While we were driving out to the mud volcano, driver was playing great Colombian hits. The view of the road was awesome. I couldn’t wait to jump to the volcano.
I was one of the first excited ones climb the volcano to the mud, and not to mention, the first one who got out of it. I loved it so much but after a few minutes, I felt uncomfortable and had an urge to leave. Well basically I got cluster phobia. The mud was so thick I could barely move my hands. If the local didn’t help me, it would be tough to move inside. And after a while the entire passengers got in, and it became jam-packed.
After wallowing in the mud, locals washed us one by one at the nearby lake. It was a little bit weird, since they asked us to strip while they were washing us. The natural bath worked and I had a very soft glowing skin after that. Finally we had lunch in a neat place with a beautiful view of Caribbean Sea.

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.