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Monthly Archives: August 2016

Areas in Puerto Vallarta

Getting Around Puerto Vallarta

A standout amongst the most prompt points of interest that Puerto Vallarta presents to inquisitive guests is that the city is remarkably simple to explore.

Not just does it appreciate a genuinely critical milestone for directional introduction, being verged on the west by our Earth’s biggest waterway, yet the deliberately sorted out arrangement of neighborhoods makes finding numerous nearby purposes of intrigue simple. The territory additionally profits by the as of late built Francisco Medina Ascencio Boulevard, an interstate on the city’s drift that can transport voyagers clear over the city in 30 minutes or less.

In spite of the fact that the city is separated into numerous little colonias, a large number of Puerto Vallarta’s most prominently gone to goals are moved in a couple of them. The most well-known technique for transportation for approaching travelers is the broad system of cabs that serve the city. Instead of utilizing a separation meter as is basic in different ranges of the world, taxis in Puerto Vallarta take a shot at the premise of pre-characterized passage zones, with a ride from the airplane terminal in a yellow city taxicab to more focal regions of the city costing anywhere in the range of 70-120 pesos.

Notwithstanding, veteran guests can likewise make utilization of the advantageous nearby transport framework, which runs much of the time from 7am untll after 12 pm on most days and serves most territories of the city by means of direct courses at a toll cost of 8 pesos or less.

# Where is the airplane terminal in Puerto Vallarta?

Voyagers flying into the city by method for the nearby airplane terminal, referred to carriers as PVR, will touch base on the edges of the city, in a region suitably called “Aeropuerto.” Although there are some private neighborhoods, for example, Guadelupe Victoria circumscribing the air terminal region, most guests will wind up continuing more profound into the city to investigate the scope of conspicuous nearby attractions or to achieve their resort or lodging facilities. The taxicabs straightforwardly before the airplane terminal are allowed to survey a critical premium to tolls, while city taxis over the foot connect over the road charge ordinary city rates.

# Where is the Hotel Area?  

The Hotel Area, or Zona Hotelera, is one of the first major colonias visitors will encounter on their way into downtown Puerto Vallarta after passing through the Marina area, where cruise ships visiting the city arrive into port. As the name suggests, the city’s largest and most popular tourist accommodations are located here, along with an array of amenities short term visitors may require such as mobile phone stores, shopping centers, high profile restaurants and access to a nearby Wal-Mart. The hotel area is also home to some of the more popular beaches among visitors, including Playa Caracol and Playa de Camarones.

# Where is Fluvial Vallarta?

Past the main part of the Hotel Area and slightly inland from the beachfront buzz rests one of the most dynamic areas of the city, Fluvial Vallarta. This area of the city is home to an excellent selection of restaurants, bars and clubs, and typically has a more local feel as area residents seek to avoid some of the worst of the high season rush from September through May. With a range of options spanning cuisines and atmospheres across the spectrum, Fluvial Vallarta is an excellent choice for a night out away from the bright lights of more tourist focused sections of the city.

# Where is the Malecon?

Further along the main road through Puerto Vallarta, which traces the coast at its western edge through almost the full length of the city, is the local treasure known as the Malecon. This beautiful boardwalk, which was once open to motor vehicles, is a 12 block expanse of restaurants, bars, souvenir shops, street performers and other local flavor all arranged enticingly along the edge of the Pacific.

This famed walkway also hosts a special collection of sculptures and outdoor installations that celebrate the local history and culture, including the iconic “El Caballito De Mar,” a beloved seahorse sculpture that has become a recognized symbol of the city over the years. At the end of this spectacular promenade is Puerto Vallarta’s largest and most popular beach, Playa de Los Muertos, along with even more inviting dining and entertainment options beyond those of the Malecon itself.

# Where is downtown Puerto Vallarta?

The Malecon effectively serves as the entry into the nexus of the city, and although “Centro Vallarta” could refer to a relatively wide swath of this seaside destination, the true “downtown” area of the city is referred to as “Centro.” Home to Puerto Vallarta’s most frequently visited establishments, this area has entertainment options for the entire family any time of day or night from open-air exhibitions to swank piano bars.

Centro is also home to the La Iglesia de Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe, a grand celebration of Mexico’s deep roots in Catholicism. This historic church is perhaps most identifiable by its distinct system of bells, which chorus proudly to mark the hour as well as on special occasions, along with its unique tower crown, depicting angels holding a crown aloft to highlight this spiritual center of the city.

# Where is the Romantic Zone?

The Romantic Zone, known affectionately to locals as “Old Town,” is a living tribute to the historical origins of Puerto Vallarta. Located on the south side of Centro, this intimate area of the city is prized for its network of local restaurants and shops which are traditionally run by natives or longtime residents. This area is also home to the famous Farmers’ Market, where visitors can purchase some of the freshest and most delicious seafood and organic produce they will ever lay hands upon.

# Where is the Puerto Vallarta Zoo?

One of the southernmost major points of interest in the Puerto Vallarta metropolitan area, Zoológico de Vallarta, is located between the city proper and the beaches of nearby Mismaloya, in a lush tropical jungle located on the edge of city limits. This rich, verdant backdrop is the ideal setting for discovering the wonders of Mexican wildlife, with many creatures exhibited in their natural habitat thanks to the relatively pristine condition of the local jungle.

Visitors will likely be pleasantly surprised at the level of interaction they can have with their favorite animals, as many ae available for petting as well as feeding. Nestled in a valley within a local mountain range, the Puerto Vallarta Zoo makes an unforgettable and educational day trip and is a can’t miss stop for any lover of nature.

The diverse nature of Puerto Vallarta means there’s always something interesting to do if you know how to get around. While many first time visitors limit themselves to the beaches of the city or even fail to leave the resort, these tourists do themselves a real disservice by skipping over the range of experiences that the area has to offer.

Guide to Cartagena

Disregard all that you contemplate Colombia. A nation once scandalous for its medication trafficking and savagery has gone from a travel no-go zone to one of the world’s greatest occasion problem areas.

In charge of Colombia’s tourism is Cartagena de Indias, an upmarket provincial city both disintegrating and glorious and overflowing old world appeal. Encompassed by the Caribbean Sea, at Cartagena’s center is the walled memorable focus, home to multi-shaded structures, a labyrinth of cobbled rear ways, towering chapels and bougainvillea blossoms falling from overhangs like a scene from a work of art. Only a short bounce away are pure white sand shorelines, coral reefs and wilderness. Add to that mild Caribbean climate, a sultry nightlife and a rich culinary scene and it’s anything but difficult to see why Cartagena is the second most gone to city in Colombia after its capital Bogota.

Here’s a snappy manual for the city known as the gem of Colombia’s Caribbean drift.

What to Do and See

The Historic Center

Cartagena is one of the few South American cities with a preserved city wall and a photogenic old town, home to narrow cobbled streets, beautiful architecture and charming plazas. It’s the perfect city to simply walk and get lost in. The busy Centro district revolves around Plaza de Bolivar, a public square where you’ll spot palenqueras (colourfully dressed women selling fruit from tubs balanced on their heads), old men playing chess on rickety tables and Catedral de Cartagena, with its tropical fruit–colored facade. The surrounding streets also buzz with colorful dancers and salsa bands.

Cartagena’s historic walls stretch 2.5 miles (4km) around the centre, San Diego and Getsemani and were built in the 16th and early 17th centuries to protect the city from attack. Make sure you take a walk along the city walls for incredible ocean views and of the city below. Also check out Castillo de San Felipe, a fortification built by the Spanish to defend their stronghold in the Americas. Cartagena was one of the first cities founded by the Spanish in South America, and some architecture dates back to 500 years.

Another area of note is Plaza de los Coches, which is home to a host of restaurants and bars as well as live music, dances and other performances. Cartagena’s famous clock tower, Puerta del Reloj, is adjacent to this thriving square. When the sun goes down Cartagena really comes alive. If you want some unique fun, tour the city at night in a ‘chiva’ – colorful open air buses where you can drink rum while enjoying the loud beat of local music.

Playa Blanca

Visitors hunting for a beach usually first clap eyes on Bocagrande, the closest and longest of the city’s beaches. To be blunt, the beach isn’t the prettiest, plus it’s full of tourists and aggressive touts. If you want white sand, turquoise waters and swaying palm trees, take a day trip to Playa Blanca. Located about 45 minutes from Cartagena, Playa Blanca is touristy yet stunning; it’s like stepping into a cliqued screensaver on your computer. Boasting crystal clear water and powdery white sand, there’s also plenty of vendors selling almost everything from fresh lobster to cocktails and jewelry. Most people head to the island on a pre-packaged day trip arranged through their hotels, but you can also simply head to the marina and jump on a boat from there.

El Totumo Volcano

El Totumo Volcano is a 49 foot (15m) high mud volcano where you can jump in its crater and bathe in silky smooth mud with supposedly therapeutic qualities. The volcanic mud is extremely buoyant and it’s difficult to stay upright. You’ll be crammed in there with about 20 other tourists, so expect strangers’ arms and legs everywhere and lots of giggling, but it’s a heap of messy fun you shouldn’t miss. You can even pay a few dollars to get a massage while you’re in the mud pit, and for someone to take a photo of you from above. Afterwards, wash off in a nearby lagoon where you can tip a local lady to help clean you up (which is actually easier said than done!) The volcano is about 45 minutes outside Cartagena and is most easily reached by a tour booked through your hotel or hostel.

Rosario Islands National Park

If you can’t get enough of picture perfect Caribbean beaches, take a day trip out to Rosario Islands, an idyllic archipelago of 30 islands about 45 minutes from the city. The islands also boast platinum sands and crystal clear waters. There’s not as much beachfront here as Playa Blanca, but the islands do have better snorkelling and diving opportunities.

Where to Eat

There are excellent restaurants in the historic town. One of my favorites was at the Charleston Santa Teresa Hotel, which has a beautiful outdoor plaza restaurant framed by the city walls and where local musicians serenade you with live music. They offer typical food (like ceviche) and international dishes such as sushi. La Vitrola is one of Cartagena’s most famous restaurants, but you’ll need a reservation. This stylish restaurant has become the gathering place of sophisticated Colombians. The food is Nueva Colombiana, with specials including baked grouper in a passion fruit and mango sauce. If you want something more affordable, check out Restaurante Casa de Socorro, a cheerful place in the working-class quarter of Getsemani. A great way to end your day is by watching a spectacular Caribbean sunset with a daiquiri in your hand at Café del Mar, which sits on the historic walls near the rusty cannons which once guarded the city.

Where to Stay

The old city features two medieval convents that have been turned into luxury hotels. If you’re looking to splurge, head to Sofitel Santa Clara which has 122 rooms and a spa and pool built around a colonial courtyard with tropical gardens. There’s also the Charleston Santa Teresa, which was once home to a Carmelite order and features a rooftop pool with spectacular views (both offer doubles from around USD 350, or COP $1,041,349). For more modest budgets, the Casa La Fe, also in the centre, or Casa Santa Ana Hotel in Getsemani are a good choice. Backpackers on a budget can check out Media Luna Hostel, a popular hostel also in Getsemani.

When to Go

Cartagena is at its best from December until April, when temperatures during the day range from the mid 70’s (23C) to the high 80’s (31C) and humid days turn into breezy nights. Holidays like Christmas, New Year’s and Easter are very busy and hotels book up months in advance.

Practical Tips

Getting from the Airport

Be careful not to get ripped off when catching a taxi from the airport. A cab shouldn’t cost more than COP $12,000 (USD 4). When it comes to getting around, always negotiate your fare with the driver before getting in.

Try the Street Food

The street food in Cartagena is readily available, cheap and delicious. You’ll find fresh fruit, arepas (cornmeal patties stuffed with savory fillings), papas rellenas (stuffed potatoes), meat skewers, burgers, sandwiches, ceviche, juices and cocktails.

Don’t Forget Your Camera

After lugging my hefty camera around Latin America for nine months I decided Cartagena was the place I would give it, and myself, a rest. That was a mistake! Cartagena is an incredibly photogenic city and you’ll be kicking yourself when you round a corner and see that bright yellow building swathed in bougainvillea, a beautiful palenquera in traditional dress or a spectacular sunset – and you don’t have your camera on you.

Learn the Lingo

Colombians are incredibly friendly. Locals will stop you in the street to ask where you are from and for a general chat, even when there is an obvious language barrier. Learn some Spanish before you go. While English is spoken in Cartagena, being able to converse and connect with the locals in their language will make your trip much more memorable.

Never Travel With These hings

Visa, charge cards, photocopies, camera, telephone… You recognize what to pack when you go voyaging. However, do you know what not to pack? A large number of us stuff our bags and knapsacks with pointless or not really keen stuff, and it’s exclusive when we’re dragging it around that we lament sticking in that hairdryer or 1000 or more page Lonely Planet the extent of a block.

Here are things you can leave at home in the event that you need to travel light and keen (and spare more space for trinkets!).

# Jewelry

Whether it’s your precious stone ring, gold-plated watch or wistful neckband from your grandmother, simply abandon it at home. When you’re progressing it’s simple for adornments to get lost or harmed, in addition to it makes you an objective for pickpockets and muggers. In case you’re going for an extraordinary event like a wedding and need to bring some ostentatious gems, guard it in your lodging. Try not to wear it out on the town either.

# Guidebooks

I know, I know, guidebooks are awesome to thumb through and scribble notes on, but those things are heavy (e.g. Lonely Planet’s South America On A Shoestring is a whopping 1104 pages!). Buy electronic versions of guidebooks instead and put them on your smartphone or tablet, or download free city guide apps like Triposo. If you’re staying at hostels, they almost always have a library or a few guidebooks on hand. Take advantage of this and make notes or take photos of the pages which are of importance to you.

# All Your Tech Gadgets

Many of us have a laptop, tablet, smartphone, e-reader and iPod, but you definitely don’t need to travel with all of them. Figure out what you really need and only bring the essentials. I traveled for a year with a smartphone which acted as my phone, computer, e-reader and iPod and that was enough for me.

# Your Hairdryer

If you’re staying in hotels you can safely leave this behind. Even the cheapest hotels these days offer hairdryers. If you’re visiting family or friends, ask to borrow one. However, if I’m backpacking I will always bring a hairdryer as few hostels offer them (and long, thick hair does not dry fast). If you need one, invest in a travel hairdryer which is small, light and foldable.

# Regular-Size Toiletries

Your 1 litre shampoo, giant pot of hair gel and glass perfume bottle should stay at home. Regular-size toiletries are big, fat space-eaters so transfer your favorite products into travel-size containers. If you really want to save space and weight and aren’t picky about brands, buy your toiletries at your destination.

# Too Many Shoes

I really, really love shoes and this is where I fail spectacularly at packing. Shoes are the bulkiest things in your bag and you don’t need that many when traveling. It depends on what kind of traveling you’re doing and to where, but in general aim for one pair of comfortable walking shoes like sneakers, one pair of dressy shoes for a night out and a pair of flip flops/sandals.

# Utilitarian Travel Clothing

The first time I traveled long-term my backpack was full of zip-off, waterproof hiking pants, quick dry t-shirts and a pair of outdoor sandals. I now cringe at pictures of me wearing those hideous shoes in front of the Notre-Dame. Unless you’re going somewhere you really need this gear (like a hiking holiday, not like Paris) don’t get sucked into thinking you need this expensive and often ugly travel uniform. There’s no doubt it’s functional, but try to strike a balance between utilitarian travel gear and normal, stylish clothing. And remember, simple cotton undies dry just as fast as fancy travel undies which cost five times more.

# More Than One Pair of Jeans

Some people say jeans are too bulky and you shouldn’t travel with them at all, but if you’re like me they are a non-negotiable travel wardrobe staple. Jeans are both comfortable and stylish, but any more than one pair is excessive in terms of bulk and weight.

# An Umbrella

Umbrellas are cheap and easy to find in most places, so packing one just takes up extra precious space in your bag. I always travel with a good quality rain jacket, which folds down and zips into a neat little ball, instead.

# A Towel

Leave your favorite fluffy towel in the bathroom closet – hotels will almost always provide you with a towel and you can rent them at many hostels. If you want or need to bring your own, make sure it’s an ultralight, quick-drying travel towel.

# Medicines/First Aid Kit

Unless you’re going into the wilds or have specific medications you absolutely require, you don’t need to lug a complete medical kit with you. General products like Band-Aids, headache tablets and cold and flu remedies are readily available in most places, and you can buy them when or if you need them.

# A Sleeping Bag

Sleeping bags chew up a huge amount of room in your bag, plus these days most hostels ban their use because of bed bug concerns. If you’re staying at hostels or cheap hotels and worried about festy sheets (which is unfortunately a reality), take a sleeping bag liner with you instead. A sleeping bag is only necessary if you’re camping.

# An Iron

Like hairdryers, most hotels have irons so this is another appliance for your do-not-pack-list. Try to travel with clothes which don’t need to be ironed. If something really needs a good pressing, you can take most of the wrinkles out by hanging it in your bathroom and taking a hot shower.

# Make-Up

This may be a little contentious, but leave the majority of your make-up at home and keep it simple while on the road. A lot of the time, you’ll find you just won’t have the time or the inclination to slap the stuff on (you’re on holidays, after all), especially if you’re traveling long-term or on the move a lot. In my experience, those eyeshadows, eyebrow pencils, eyeliners, blushes, foundations and powders end up becoming a waste of space. These days a tinted moisturiser/sunscreen, mascara and a few lip balms/lipsticks are all I need.

Photo Spots in Cusco

It may be outstanding as the entryway to Machu Picchu, however Cusco, the previous capital of the Inca Empire, is a goal in its own privilege. It’s additionally seemingly a standout amongst the most photogenic urban areas in South America. The southern Peruvian jewel offers stunning view for picture takers, including urban-scapes which mix Inca and Spanish design and striking high elevation mountain scenes.

Shading is wherever – from astonishing parades and energetic quinoa fields to generally dressed ladies towing pom-enlivened llamas. Most visitors who visit Cusco rapidly make a beeline for Machu Picchu and adjacent Inca ruins like Ollantaytambo and Pisac in the Sacred Valley. In any case, it merits setting aside some opportunity to investigate this beguiling city through the perspective of your camera.

Here are the 8 most Instagrammable spots in Cusco, all inside strolling separation of the middle.

# Court de Armas

The operational hub of Cusco, Plaza de Armas is the city’s clamoring fundamental square where life rotates for both local people and its 4000-5000 day by day guests. It’s home to two notorious structures – the Cusco Cathedral and the Church La Compania de Jesus, Inca ruler Pachacutec who stands watch from his wellspring royal position, wonderful greenery enclosures and wide stone pathways. Spanish pilgrim structures and long stone arcades command the design of the square, however many flawlessly cut Inca dividers stay as establishments. There’s quite often something happening in Plaza de Armas – incredibly vivid parades with amazing outfits, moving school youngsters and walking military and police are basic. You’ll additionally spot a lot of ladies in conventional dress with llamas and cute child sheep wearing little wooly caps close by. One of the most ideal approaches to photo the square is by picking an eatery/bistro/bar above you, taking a seat on the overhang, requesting a drink and catching the exhibition underneath. Ensure you visit the square in the evening time as well when it’s wonderfully lit up.

# San Blas

Head uphill from Plaza de Armas into the steep stairwells and stone-paved streets of San Blas, a gorgeous and quieter district which offers fine views over the city. This picturesque little bohemian neighborhood is full of cool bars and restaurants, bakeries, coffee shops and small boutiques. With white-washed walls, blue doors and cascading pink flowers, you could be forgiven for thinking you were in a Mediterranean village in some parts. San Blas Square features a beautiful waterfall and when the markets are on, it becomes a riot of color and activity with locals selling handicrafts like beanies, ponchos and paintings.

# Sacsayhuaman

Perched above the historic center and walkable from the plaza, Sacsayhuaman (which sounds a lot like‘Sexywoman’ with a bad accent) is Cusco’s most significant ruins. The ruins provide the best views over the city, which was designed in the shape of a puma. Sacsayhuaman is supposed to be the head, with the site’s impressive zigzagging walls forming the puma’s teeth. What’s most impressive perhaps are the massive stones from which the ruins were built and their incredible masonry which the Incas were legendary for. Some stones weigh more than 360 tons and reach over 26 feet (eight meters) high. They are fitted together with mind-boggling precision and without the use of mortar.

# Christo Blanco

A much smaller and more misshapen version of Rio de Janeiro’s Christ the Redeemer, Cusco’s Cristo Blanco sits atop of a hill with his arms outstretched protecting the city. Towering some 26 feet (8 meters) high, the ‘White Christ’ was a gift from Arabic Palestinians who sought refuge in Cusco after WWII. Cristo Blanco is a 10-minute walk from Sacsayhuaman and also offers panoramic views of the city below. A visit to Cusco wouldn’t be complete without a pic at this famous structure.

# Temple de la Luna

Not many tourists make it here, but if you have the time to visit Temple de La Luna, or Temple of the Moon, it’s more than worth it. Set in the stunning countryside about 35-45 minutes’ hike uphill from Plaza de Armas (and also near Sacsayhuaman), this ceremonial Inca temple is a giant rock hill with two altars and carvings inside. You can climb to the top for incredible views and wander around the area, where on a clear day you can see the sacred Ausangate – the highest mountain in the Cusco region. If you wander into the surrounding hills you’re likely to encounter a shaman who will be keen to show you some of his sacred ceremonial spots (yes, that really happens), and locals carrying out rituals. You can also explore this breathtaking area on horseback.

# San Pedro Markets

Jam-packed with vibrant colors and exotic sights, Cusco’s most famous markets are where locals have gathered to sell and buy items since the time of the Incas. You’ll find handicrafts of all sorts, a gory meat section full of llama snouts and pigs heads, incredibly colorful fruits, vegetables and flowers, a bustling food court and a little old lady famous for selling skinned frogs. There is also a fascinating section selling mystical powders and potions which can allegedly cure almost anything, from a dull love life to a lack of money. If you look up, you also might see some llama foetuses which are used for ceremonial/good luck purposes.

# Santo Domingo and Qorikancha

Qorikancha was the most important temple in the Inca Empire. The name means golden enclosure in Quechua, as its exterior was once covered in sheets of gold and dedicated to the sun god, Inti. When the Spanish arrived, they demolished much of Qorikancha, stripped it of its gold and erected the Church of Santo Domingo. The only thing that remains of once-glorious Qorikancha is the Incas’ incredible stonework, which forms the church’s foundation. The site also features an underground archaeological museum displaying relics from Qorikancha, including mummies.

# Twelve Angled Stone

Walking the narrow streets of Cusco past its perfectly constructed Inca walls is like walking through an open-air museum. You can find Inca walls all over the city, but one of the most famous spots to photograph them is along the street of Hatunrumiyoc, located northeast from the Plaza de Armas. It’s famous for the Twelve Angled Stone which demonstrates the amazing precision of the Inca masons. It’s so perfectly assembled that not even a sheet of paper can fit between the stones. Placed in the wall of what was once an Incan palace, this legendary stone is said to hold up the structure.