Photo

Relaxing in the Rainforest

After a week hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu and spending nights camping on the ground along the trail, we decided to end our trip to Peru by treating ourselves to a cabana in the jungle!

We boarded the plane in Cusco and took the short flight over to Puerto Maldonado, the start of the Amazon in Peru. The airport here was tiny, so we quickly grabbed our bags and met our Adventures within Reach shuttle. From here, we travelled 15 minutes to the docks to catch our riverboat to the Inkaterra Lodge – Hacienda Concepcion. An immediate difference we noticed from Cusco was the humidity. It was 35+C here and so humid your clothes began sticking to you in a matter of minutes.

Thankfully we were soon cruising down the Madre de Dios River with a bit of a breeze on our 30-minute journey. We docked and made our way up to the main lodge to check in and have lunch (which was amazing!)

The photos I’d seen when booking at the Hacienda Concepcion certainly don’t do it justice. What a gorgeous spot! Our cabana was perfect with a screened in porch you could sit on and listen to the birds and other wildlife moving around outside while looking at all the beautiful vegetation.

After settling in, we met our guide, Plinio, for a tour around the property. As we walked, he explained that the grounds here used to be a cocoa and rubber plantation. They were owned by a Spanish doctor who started a Catholic mission here in the 1950s with the intention of improving the lives of the locals by using his boat as a ‘hospital’ and visiting communities along the river. After the boat sank and the doctor passed away, the grounds were left to decay until they were bought by Inkaterra in 1979 to develop it into a scientific research facility.

Our guide pointed out various types of vegetation we found and let us try some of the cocoa. We also saw birds, insects and a few monkeys!

We enjoyed coffee time in the lodge and then a traditional Pisco Sour at happy hour before heading out for our Twilight River boat excursion.

Here, we found some night birds and a bunch of caimans ranging in size from babies to five feet.

After another delicious meal here, we went back to our cabana for an early night and fell asleep listening to the sounds of the jungle!

I woke up around 3:30am to a huge crash of thunder and rain pouring down, followed by lightning lighting up the sky. It rained a good part of this day, which cooled everything off and sounded so cool pounding against the huge leaves and thatched roofs of both our cabana and the main lodge. Being in the rainforest during a rain storm is certainly quite the experience!

By 2:30pm, it was only spitting rain, so we set out on our next excursion, The Inkaterra Canopy Walk and Anaconda Walkway. We took a riverboat about 25 minutes up river and were greeted by Tamarin monkeys playing in the trees.

We climbed up the tower to the canopy walk, 120-150 feet up into the treetops of the jungle and went one at a time across the six long suspension bridges used by scientists to study the canopy. What a view! Looking down was freaky, but if you just looked straight out you got a unique view of the jungle canopy, looking out over it instead of looking up from the ground. I wanted to see a sloth so badly, but sadly it was not to be on the walk.

That night, we had our final excursion, Hidden Forest. We went for a walk around the property with Plinio, who stopped to point out all kinds of insects, a few chicken tarantulas, a bright green tree frog and a caiman in a little pond.

It was neat and also a little spooky wandering through the dark, listening to all the sounds of the jungle moving around you. On our way to dinner, we found more monkeys playing in the trees including a mama with a baby hanging on her back!

Our last morning, we had another amazing meal.

The food here was incredible and the coffee was delicious! Then, we got our stuff packed up and went for one last walk around the grounds.

It was such a beautiful spot – the perfect place to relax for our final few days in Peru.

Categories: Blog, Photo, South America, Where in the World | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cusco

Thousands of tourists flock to Cusco, Peru every year, but often it is only a stopping point before heading out to hike the Inca Trail, visit Machu Picchu, climb Rainbow Mountain or one of many other amazing sites waiting just outside the old city. I made this same mistake, only spending a day before and after our hike in the old capital of the Incan Empire, which was not enough time to properly explore this cobblestone beauty. 

The altitude here can take some getting used to and what better way to do that than by getting out and exploring the city!

Plaza de Armas is the city’s main square. Here you can find a variety of restaurants, bars, coffee shops and even a brewery. It’s also a great spot to sit near the fountain and watch the sun set over several beautiful old churches found here.

After a great afternoon wandering around the city, head to Organika for an amazing local farm to table dinner and a Pisco sour.

Categories: Blog, Photo, South America, Where in the World | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Harry Potter & the Cursed Child

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child currently playing at the Lyric Theatre, NYC.

The Battle of Hogwarts raged 21 years ago today and what a different place the Wizarding World would have been if that battle hadn’t ended in victory. We get a glimpse of just how different in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

If you are a big Harry Potter fan like me and get the chance to see this incredible two part play currently running in five cities be sure to check it out.

On a recent trip to NYC, I finally had the chance to see it. What a brilliant, imaginative piece of theatre. You are instantly transported into the magical world of Harry Potter. I was enthralled from start to finish. Over five hours of theatre and I would have willing gone back for more. It’s definitely a must-see piece of theatre!

Categories: Blog, North America, Photo, Where in the World | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Notre Dame

Notre Dame Cathedral

It took me years to make it to Paris. For some reason, on all my trips to Europe, I circled France, but never quite seemed to make it across the border. Finally, in 2016, I arrived in Paris and one of our first stops was to see the iconic Note Dame Cathedral.

We arrived in the morning and the sun was shining from behind the massive spire. What an incredible sight! Gargoyles looking down over their beloved city and ornate statues carved throughout the building. As we walked inside, the light shining through the stained glass windows was mesmerizing.

I’m so glad I finally made it to Paris and had a chance to see this incredible building before last night’s devastating fire. I’ve loved seeing all the photos people have shared from their own trips to see Notre Dame and hoping in time this beautiful building can be restored so future travellers can also be moved by it.

Categories: Blog, Europe, Photo, Where in the World | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Exploring Atlantis

The lost city of Atlantis may be the stuff of legends, but in Nassau, Bahamas, you can spend a day (or more) exploring their incredible Atlantis!

While staying there definitely looks like a fun option, if, like us, you find yourself staying at one of the neighbouring resorts, there are still lots of ways to enjoy Atlantis.

You can book day passes for various adventures in Atlantis, including the waterpark Aquaventure and Dolphin Cay. But there are other options to explore.

Atlantis Marina

You can wander through the shops and the marina at any time and eat at the restaurants found there. The Casino is also open to all if gambling is more your style. Through the Casino, you’ll find The Dig.

This beautiful aquarium features hundreds of sea creatures from tiny seahorses to huge grouper, lobsters to clownfish and gorgeous rays swimming around the mysterious ‘Lost City’ ruins. Day passes are required for non-guests, but if you go in the evening, you can wander around for free and enjoy all these amazing sea creatures.

I loved it so much, we went back a second evening and wandered around above ground, gazing down into the open air tanks and watching the fish and rays swimming below.

We also found the Hibiscus Lagoon filled with green sea turtles and Predator Lagoon, home to Hammerhead sharks, Caribbean Reef sharks, Barracuda and Smalltooth Sawfish swimming around the tunnel as you walk through.

Whether you want to go all out and participate in all Atlantis has to offer or simply wander around, it’s definitely a must-see spot in Nassau, Bahamas!

If, like me, you find watch fish swimming to be very relaxing, then enjoy a few clips I took while exploring Atlantis!

Watching the fish and rays swim around the ruins at The Dig
Exploring Hibiscus & Predator Lagoons
Categories: Blog, Caribbean, Photo, Video, Where in the World | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Airport walls

Such a perfect quote to be found in the lounge area of an airport!

YHM airport- Hamilton, ON Canada

Categories: Photo, Quotes | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

35

Turning a year older used to really stress me out. I always felt that with each passing year I was running out of time to accomplish everything I wanted to. While I still feel this way at times and have no idea how so many years have already passed by, I’m realizing that each passing year is a gift and a chance for more adventures.
And besides, how can you be bummed with you are celebrating your birthday on the beach!
So…35 here we go!

Categories: Caribbean, Photo | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Strolling around historic central Lima

While in Lima, we took a free walking tour to explore the Historic Centre of the city. In 1988, this beautiful old part of Lima was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its originality and high concentration of historic monuments constructed during the time the Spanish were present here.

Despite damage caused by several earthquakes over the past century, it’s a great place to see some of Peru’s gorgeous colonial architecture.

Plaza de Armas, Lima’s colourful main square, was considered the foundation for the “City of Kings” in 1535 when it was founded by Spanish conqueror Francisco Pizarro. This public square is also where Peru was declared a Republic in 1821.

fullsizeoutput_1ca2The Government Palace (Palacio de Gobierno) is located at one end of the square. Every day at noon, you can go and watch the Changing of the Guards, an hour of music and marching (and high kicks!) displayed behind the palace gates. This is where the Peruvian president resides.

It certainly is a beautiful spot to wander around. Below are a few of my favourite sights!

Categories: Blog, Photo, South America, Where in the World | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

Spooky places to spend your Halloween

Halloween is my favourite time of year. I love all the decorations and costumes and how everything seems just a little spookier as the leaves change colour and the carved pumpkins glow.

It’s also a great time to explore some of the world’s creepier destinations.

Here are a few of my favourite spooky spots to check out this time of year:

The Catacombs of Paris.

Exploring the Catacombs of Paris

Exploring the Catacombs of Paris.

“The City of Love” has a darker side waiting 20m below the city streets. Here, in the underground ossuaries lie the remains of more than six million people. The bones are laid in a small part of a tunnel network built to consolidate Paris’ ancient stone mines.

During the late 1700s, many of the city’s cemeteries had reached capacity. Some, including the Saints-Innocents (Cemetery of the Innocents) had gone beyond capacity. Here, people were buried in mass graves, piled one on top of the other until it became a source of infection for those nearby. In late 1785, the Council of the State closed the cemetery and decided to remove its contents.

Millions of bones

Millions of bones found in the underground ossuary of Paris

This transfer began in 1786 after the blessing and consecration of the site and continued until 1788. The moving of remains took place at nightfall, where a procession of priests sang the service for the dead along the route taken by the carts loaded with bones and covered by a black veil. Until 1814, this site received the remains from all the cemeteries of Paris.

Nowadays, the 2kms of bone-filled tunnels is a perfect place to spend a couple of hours on Halloween!

 

Wat Rong Khun, Thailand

Koi fish

Koi fish swimming in the pond surrounding What Rong Khun

Better known as the “White Temple,” Wat Rong Khun is one of the most famous temples in Thailand. Located in Chiang Rai, this temple looks like something out of a fairy tale… until you get a closer look.

There are demons and villains popping out of the ground and hanging from trees all around the temple. To enter the main chapel, you cross a narrow bridge over a pool of hands and faces reaching up, trying to claw their way back to the surface, representing suffering souls in Hell.

And they sure are creepy to walk across!

 

Walt Disney World, Orlando

Mickey Halloween Lanterns

Mickey Halloween Lanterns

While it may be known as the happiest place on earth, Disney World turns into a spooky night out with Mickey’s Not- So-Scary Halloween Party.

Jack and Sally

Jack and Sally from The Nightmare Before Christmas with Mary Poppins and Bert!

It may not be as creepy as some of the other spots on this list, but with all the Halloween decor, characters like Jack and Sally out for photos and special shows like the “Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular” and the “Boo-to-You” Parade, it’s definitely a fun night out. Plus, it’s the one time of year that as an adult you can dress up as your favourite character at the park – and you get to trick or treat along the way, no matter how old you are!

Disney is truly a place where you never have to grow up, and that makes celebrating Halloween there even more fun!

 

And then, of course, there is Salem, Massachusetts

Salem is widely known as the site of the witchcraft trials of 1692, and the history and stories surrounding the hysteria of the witchcraft trials is found everywhere here, from museums to historical re-enactments to haunted walking tours.

During the month of October, this small town of 40,000 doubles in size as Halloween enthusiasts make their way here to explore the haunting history

You can visit the memorial dedicated to the 19 innocent people who were killed during the witch trials and you can also check out some of the film locations of my favourite fictional witches, The Sanderson Sisters from “Hocus Pocus ” 

Allison's Mansion from Hocus Pocus

Allison’s Mansion from Hocus Pocus

Salem has something for everyone and should definitely be on your Halloween travel list!

Zombie Prom

All dressed up for Zombie Prom in Salem

Next on my list of places to visit for Halloween are New Orleans, and of course, Transylvania!

What’s on your spooky travel list?

Categories: Asia, Blog, Europe, North America, Photo, Where in the World | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Trying Cuy in Peru

One of Peru’s most famous dishes is not exactly a conventional one – at least not by North American standards. Here, though, Cuy (guinea pig) has been a staple in the Andean diet for around 5,000 years. Long before they were considered cute fluffy pets, they were raised in the Andes for food.

While gourmet chefs have spruced up the original recipes and are now adding their own flare to the dish, Cuy is generally roasted whole, with the head, teeth, ears, and other parts left intact. They are doused in salt and garlic to crisp up the skin. You can find them being sold as “street meat” on sticks in areas surrounding the Sacred Valley, but many restaurants in Cusco and a few in Lima also serve the dish. For Peruvians, Cuy is a dish served on special occasions, not part of the everyday menu anymore. But with the influx of tourists over the last decade, many restaurants keep Cuy on the menu for those curious travellers to taste. It’s generally one of the most expensive items on the menu, costing anywhere from 40-70 soles ($15-28 USD).fullsizeoutput_1be0

I like trying local dishes while travelling, but this one was harder than most. Growing up, I had pet guinea pigs named Fuzz and Magic, and seeing the little face still intact on this Cuy dish definitely made me feel guilty for taking a bite. If you can get your head around it and forget what you are eating, the crispy skin tastes a lot like fried chicken.

I certainly won’t be making this dish a regular, but if you are in Peru, it’s definitely a must-try!

Categories: Blog, Photo, South America, Video, Where in the World | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blog at WordPress.com.