5 Top Mendoza Highlights

Mendoza wine tasting

After leaving Valparaíso and crossing back over the Andes mountain range into Argentina, we stopped to explore the bustling town of Mendoza before moving on to Buenos Aires. In the shadow of the mighty, snow-covered Andes surrounded by picturesque vineyards, Mendoza is probably most familiar to wine connoisseurs and mountaineers. Tony and I definitely fall somewhere in between – we do like ourselves a good glass of wine, and we clearly love those peaks. While both wine tasting and day hiking are obvious choices in and around Mendoza, there are some other cool activities that visitors might want to consider when passing through the region. Continue…

Valparaíso, a City as a Canvas

Graffiti street art, Valparaíso

Grotesque faces glare down at me, others smile angelically and stare into nothingness. Tony aims his camera at a long-necked woman whose Medusa-like hair is a tangle of colorful strokes. I’m bombarded with supersized hummingbirds. Ahead, an ocelot roams through a forest of hot pink trees while a young Indian girl in red performs a tribal dance. No, this is not a dream. We are wandering the narrow alleys of Valparaíso, a city that plays the role of a canvas for urban artists. Imaginative graffiti and politically charged street art cover everything. The effect is spectacular.

Valpo, as locals call it, is just a couple of hours from Santiago. Its labyrinthine backstreets and passageways are spread out across a series of over 40 hilltop neighborhoods. Cerros Concepción and Allegre are the most popular hoods; they bring in Continue…

Surprisingly Cool Santiago

Patio Bellavista, Santiago

Santiago de Chile… quick, name one tourist attraction that comes to mind. Nothing? We had exactly the same response. Latin America’s fastest growing city is definitely not the first entry on most travelers’ bucket lists. We certainly didn’t have any expectations when we planned a 3-day stay in Santiago to wait for our flight to Easter Island. The giant metropolis of five million was just going to be another quick stop en route to a more exotic destination. But then something happened. We suddenly discovered we really liked the city.

It’s true, there are no world-famous monuments, no Eiffel Tower, no Pyramid of the Sun, no Taj Mahal, but there’s a subtle attraction to Santiago, a laid-back and easy-going vibe that spoke to us. In some ways, it reminded us Continue…

Buenos Aires

Thomas in La Boca

After almost six months of incredible adventures in Peru, we’ve finally moved on to Argentina. Our first stop is the country’s glamorous capital Buenos Aires. We came to Buenos Aires with the specific goal of slowing down, staying in one place for a while, and catching up on work (yes, travel blogging is more than just traveling).

In real time (as opposed to blog time), we have been in Buenos Aires for over a month. To be honest, we have had some difficulty with the transition to Argentina. When we first got here Continue…

12 Lima Surprises

Spectacular art of the Museo LarcoMochica Headdress in the Museo Larco

Lima is one of those cities which travelers tend to rush through. More than once, we’ve heard tourists count their luck that they only had to spend a few hours here in transit, or were able to bypass the metropolis altogether. So we were quite shocked when we got here and sort of fell in love with this South American capital. Lima has a fun, quirky vibe,  and Limeños are humorous, welcoming and helpful.

Yes, this town definitely has a rough side, and visitors and locals alike hold their breath every time they step into a taxi out of fear of being abducted. But if you pick your neighborhoods, take official taxis, and use your head, you’ll quickly discover that Lima is a unique city with a great deal to offer. Here’s just a sample of what we think makes this city of 8.5 million pretty great Continue…

Fallen Angel in Cusco

Fallen Angel restaurant

We love daring adventures: tracking wildlife in the jungle, clinging to sheer rock walls, crossing 17,000 ft passes in the shadow of crumbling glaciers. You wouldn’t think that a boutique hotel could rise to our standards of “epic” experiences. But then again, you’ve probably never seen Cusco’s Fallen Angel.

Bold, ostentatious, humorous, psychedelic, flamboyant and fun, you might expect Fallen Angel in Berlin, Paris or Tokyo. But it comes as a TOTAL shock in the 16th century colonial courtyard of a historical casa in Cusco. The moment you step into the restaurant-bar-hotel, you realize you have entered a parallel universe of art and ideas, a cultural statement meant to challenge assumptions about Cusqueña and Peruvian culture: this country is about Continue…

Mexico City

Mexico City

Mexico City is huge, overwhelming, chaotic, loud, totally insane and absolutely spectacular. The entire city feels like an edgy work of art done by some artist who is destined to be completely misunderstood for life. Perhaps that’s why until our visit, I completely misunderstood one of North America’s greatest destinations.

Yes, it’s polluted and, at times, dangerous. But it is arguably the culturally richest place in the Americas. Mexico City is literally built on the ruins of the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan. One of the oldest colonial cities in the new world, the inhabitants of Mexico City were strolling past Spanish Baroque while the first colonial Americans were patching the holes in their drafty log cabins with mud. Some cities would be content to rest on their historical laurels, but Mexico City is a constantly Continue…

Ten Things We Loved about Merida

merida-11

Who doesn’t love a city where you can get away with a lime-green house, right? Colorful Merida feels VERY far away from the Mayan Riviera. The city is far more mellow, and there’s a much healthier proportion of tourists to Mexicans. Merida is relaxed and authentic. Nobody jumps in your way offering you a tour to Chichen Itza despite the fact that Chichen Itza is only about 70 miles away. In fact, there are dozens of Mayan sites in the surrounding area and tons of potential day trips. But it’s not a city that immediately reveals itself. It would be easy to shoot through and remain totally unimpressed. Merida takes a bit of time to discover – and that was just fine for us. Here’s a bit of what we loved about the Yucatan’s low-key capital Continue…

Nomads of Playa del Carmen

Playa del Carmen

We won’t claim Playa del Carmen is an undiscovered gem known only to a few. It’s not. The once pristine backpacker hideout has exploded into a sprawling city which in some ways rivals Cancun in terms of tourist overload. Expat housing developments, malls, posh restaurants and designer shops have replaced the solitary dune-backed beaches of yore. There’s even a huge Walmart!!!

So why does the town pop up over and over again on so many travel blogs from Wandering Earl to Never Ending Voyage to Travel with Bender? The answer to that question is that the town Continue…

Wall on Wall

Wall on Wall Exhibition Israel | Occupied Palestinian Territories

One of the things I love most about Berlin is that every single time we go out for a walk, we discover something cool. The last time we strolled down to the East Side Gallery, we happened upon Kai Wiedenhöfer’s amazing Wall on Wall exhibition.

Kai, a photographer based in Berlin, traveled the world photographing the planet’s most notorious walls. From the DMZ separating the Koreas to the cement barriers of Baghdad to the vast stretches of wall that separate Mexico and the U.S., he’s seen and photographed them all.

But Kai needed the appropriate venue to display his photography. Where better than the world’s most beloved wall-gallery? The East Side Gallery, a living  Continue…