Things to Do in Cusco and the Sacred Valley

Grandmother and granddaughter at Tambomachay near Cusco

Many tourists whoosh through Cusco and the Sacred Valley on a whirlwind itinerary which leaves their heads spinning. While some might be content to shoot through as they tick off items on their bucket list, Peru’s most famous city and its surrounding valleys offer up a virtual smorgasbord of activities for those with longer attention spans.

During our more than two months in the area, we’ve had some time to get acquainted with not-so-little Qosq’o (Quechua name). What we’ve discovered is one of South America’s most unique and appealing towns in one of the continent’s most unique and appealing regions. No wonder UNESCO declared Cusco a World Heritage Site. Here’s just a tiny sample of all the great things to do in Cusco and the Sacred Valley. Continue…

Florence’s Museums: Making Reservations for the Uffizi, Accademia and More

 Uffizi Gallery: Botticelli's The Birth of Venus

OK, you’ve made your way to Florence – the dream of a lifetime – and you want to visit the city’s incredible works of art and architecture. You walk up to the entrance of the Uffizi Gallery and ask a guard where you can buy a ticket. And he just laughs hysterically in your face. Suddenly, you notice there’s a line with hundreds of annoyed people who have been waiting for hours.

Florence Is Not a City for the Unprepared

Before you come to Florence, you need to do some basic homework, especially if you are showing up in the peak season. You don’t just walk up to the Uffizi museum, buy a ticket, and enter. After all, Uffizi Gallery tickets are popular. And even those magic (and somewhat pricey) Firenze Cards may not be the best option for everyone. To help you out, we’ve put together some quick tips and links to get you started. In our “Plan Your Trip to Florence” section, we also included a few tour recommendations for visitors interested in an expert guide. Continue…

Krampus at the Christmas Market in Munich

Ah, it’s December and the Christmas markets in Bavaria are in full swing. The Alps are shrouded in cool mist and half-timbered houses are decked out in twinkly lights and boughs of mistletoe. Locals are huddled ’round their fires drinking hot glühwein as holiday tunes float through the air.

Suddenly, the sound of synchronized cracking whips break the silence. Groups of Krampus and Perchten, Christmas devils and fur-clad Alpine monsters armed with bundles of twigs, rush into the crowded streets. The fiendish Christmas beasts dance through the crowds chasing rotten children and whipping them with stinging bundles of twigs. Adults laugh and stuff themselves with gingerbread as children run screaming in all directions. Yeah, Christmas in Germany has a bit of an edge. Continue…

Things to Do in Rome: Classic Rome Attractions

Things to do in Rome: The Pantheon

They say that all roads lead to Rome. Well, we finally made it to the Eternal City, so it must be true. In our case, we traveled the long way around through Asia and South America literally taking every road known to man to get here. And to celebrate our victory, we spent one glorious month exploring Rome’s amazing architectural and artistic treasures as well as delving into the city’s exciting culinary world.

We quickly realized that Rome is positively overwhelming. The number of churches, Roman temples, gelaterias, street markets, fountains, villas, galleries, museums, and piazzas made our heads spin. There were so many amazing things to do in Rome, we could have spent years here exploring and never seen it all. For that reason, it’s even more crucial to plan your itinerary beforehand to get the most out of your visit. If you are still wondering what things to do in Rome, we will be highlighting some of our favorite Rome attractions both on and off the well-trodden Roman path. To begin, let’s start with the classic Rome attractions! Continue…

What to Do in Rome off the Beaten Path

Rome off the beaten path: Giant foot in the Capitoline Museums

With over 10 million tourists a year, Rome is the third most visited city in Europe after London and Paris. And for good reason. It is a treasure trove of ancient monuments, history and art. Unfortunately, Rome is also one of those cities with a disproportionate focus on a handful of obvious sights such as the Colosseum or St. Peter’s Basilica. But what makes Rome so fantastic is not just the classics, it’s the sum of everything that lies in between.

Finding the not-so-obvious, however, can be quite daunting. Many Rome off the beaten path attractions are literally underground. If you wonder what to do in Rome beyond the well-trodden trail, you’ll be surprised that there’s a lot to discover. After first introducing our top things to do in Rome in a previous post, here are some of our favorite off-the-beaten-path attractions in and around Rome to get you started. Continue…

Extraordinary Nazca – Much More Than Lines

Extraordinary Nazca Lines: Nazca Hummingbird

The Nazca Lines have been associated with everything from aliens to Atlantis; they are certainly one of the world’s most mysterious creations. All that fame, intrigue and media attention means that the name Nazca has now become synonymous with the lines. But many people don’t realize that Nazca refers to a town, a region, and even an ancient culture. That culture left behind much more than lines.

Bucketlisters and speedy travelers shooting through Peru often spend half a day in Nazca, do a quick flight over the Nazca Lines, and hightail it on to Arequipa, Cusco or Lima. GIGANTIC MISTAKE. Nazca is a fascinating region which deserves far more attention. Thomas and I spent six days here, and this is just a bit of what we discovered Continue…

Plan your Visit to Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper

Leonardo Da Vinci's The Last Supper in Milan

The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci is arguably the second most famous painting in the world after that other da Vinci masterpiece, the Mona Lisa. The superstar 15th-century mural is probably the most duplicated painting on the planet. It shows up on posters, placemats, calendars, coffee cups, mouse pads and any other flat surface humanity can print a picture on. It’s everywhere, and it has become one of Milan’s most famous attractions. For that reason, The Last Supper tickets are in high demand. Unfortunately, many visitors never get to see this artwork.

When da Vinci was asked to paint The Last Supper on a wall in the refectory of the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie, he chose to paint on dry wall rather than on wet plaster as is traditionally done in frescoes. This meant that the famous painting started to deteriorate almost immediately after he finished it.

As if that weren’t problem enough, The Last Supper has a history of abuse which would be laughable if it weren’t so sad. French troops actually Continue…

Robot Restaurant Tokyo

Tokyo feels a world apart from the rest of the country, and from Earth in general. The city is wonderfully weird and inspirationally insane. Diving into the city’s lively Shinjuku neighborhood at night will probably be the closest you come to interstellar travel. Welcome to planet Crazy!

After exploring the city’s ever-clinking Pachinko parlors, kooky Harajuku culture and anime emporiums, we were looking for the piece de resistance of crazy Tokyo experiences. Resistance was futile. There was no way we could escape the gravitational force of Tokyo’s insane Robot Restaurant, a futuristic electro-cabaret featuring a very distinct air of Disneyland meets Blade Runner. Merely approaching the restaurant, makes it clear that this is something different. Continue…

The Rockabillies of Yoyogi Park

Yoyogi Park Rockabillies

The Rockabillies of Yoyogi Park are, perhaps, the best example of what makes Tokyo so Tokyo. This city is all about awesome subcultures, retro tongue-in-cheek chic, music, and serious love for everything fun.

For more than 30 years, these Tokyo icons have been gathering on Sundays at the southeastern corner of Yoyogi Park to dazzle visitors with their dance moves, humor and extreme vertical hair. They don’t do it for money; they don’t ask for a thing. They just Continue…