Monthly Archives: March 2017

Lets try traveling to different countries

When I have friends in town… we go sailing in the San Juan Bay. This unique vantage point highlights the colonial buildings of the old city, the people roaming the streets and the almost 500-year-old fort. Seeing everything from the water gives a wonderful sense of place and helps people enjoy the town even more when they discover it on foot. These sailing trips are easy to come by – several touring companies, like Sail San Juan Bay, offer excursions into the waters surrounding the city. I also like to take friends on a food tour of my own design in Old San Juan, always stopping at Casa Cortés for hot chocolate with rum, at Princesa Gastro Bar for shark bites and coconut rice, and at Pirilo for ground beef and plantain pizza.

When I’m up for a big night out… we head to Calle Loíza and drink our way through all the cool and quirky bars in this area, like Bar Bero, where you can get a drink and a haircut, or La Junta, where you can dance salsa gorda all night long. Bonus: this popular street is also home to some of the best eateries in San Juan. When hunger strikes, we usually stop at Loiza 2050 for coconut crusted pizza or at Tresbé for some killer veggie sliders.

A typical weekend involves… getting mayorcas and a cup of café con leche in the morning at La Bombonera on San Francisco street, walking to Caleta de Las Monjas to watch the ships come into the bay, and later grabbing ice cream at Señor Paleta. Afternoons are usually spent drinking wine and listening to jazz at Carli’s Fine Bistro on Tetuán street, the restaurant of former Beach Boys pianist Carli Muñoz.

I have a dog… and I take him to Ocean Park beach to play with other pups in the sand, or we run from Old San Juan to Condado via the new oceanfront pathway for pedestrians. For pet-friendly restaurants, we go to Kamoli in Calle Loíza, the Miramar Food Truck Park in Miramar, or Freshmart in Condado.

For cheap eats… I go to Piñones in Loíza, an area with dozens of food kiosks and restaurants serving delicious fried food and seafood by the ocean. I usually grab a bite and then walk by the beach for a little while; it’s a great way to disconnect from the city’s hullabaloo. Another favorite of mine is La Casita Blanca in Santurce, where they whip up truly authentic Puerto Rican food in an atmospheric space at very affordable prices.

October for culture trip ideas

There’s never a bad time to explore the world, but October offers a particular wealth of experiences for those wanting to get a little closer to another culture.

Journey across the continents to discover remarkable ruins in the Greek Peloponnese peninsula, breathtaking world wonders in Jordan, prime climes and the happiest of people in Bhutan, and the city that never sleeps settling into its most laid-back season.

 

Visit Bhutan for clear skies, sights and trails in the pristine Himalaya

For the happiest holiday, visit Bhutan. This Himalayan Shangri-La measures success in terms of Gross National Happiness rather than material wealth, and most Bhutanese people live guided by traditional values and spirituality. It’s as refreshing as the mountain air on a crisp October day. Yes, October – the most beautiful month.

Delightful temperatures and dry, blue skies are perfect for hiking and sightseeing; rare black-necked cranes arrive in the Phobjikha Valley too (they stay until February). Cultural journeys involve dramatic drives to dzongs (fortresses), many of which – including Thimphu and Gangtey – host colourful tsechus (festivals) this month. More active trips head into the mountains. There are hikes to suit all levels, from the essential half-day climb to cliff-perched Tiger’s Nest Monastery to the Jhomolhari, a seven-day trek into one of the most pristine parts of the Himalaya.

  • Trip plan: A seven- to 10-day trip could include Paro, Thimphu and Punakha, taking in dzongs, views, short walks and traditional activities (archery, hot-stone baths). Allow longer to include multi-day hikes.
  • Need to know: Visitors must pay a minimum fee of US$250 a day (US$200 Dec-Feb, Jun-Aug).
  • Other months: Dec-Feb – cold, clear; Mar-May – flowers, warm; Jun-Sep – wet; Sep-Nov – cooler, clear, dry.

 

Discover cool ruins and warm seas in the Peloponnese, Greece

You don’t have to visit the Peloponnese in the off season. Inexplicably, though this hand-shaped peninsula has some of Greece’s least-developed beaches, best-preserved sites, most appealing mountains and even the original Arcadia, it sees only a fraction of the tourists that besiege other corners of the country. October offers even smaller crowds as well as clement temperatures (around 22°C; 72°F) for walking amid both hills and ruins.

Must-sees include Olympia, where the Olympic Games was held for 1000 years; the citadel of Mycenae, swirled by Homeric legends; Epidaurus’s 14,000-seater amphitheatre; and the Byzantine port of Monemvasia, huddled on a battleship-like islet. The wild Mani peninsula offers fine hiking, particularly around Výros Gorge, while the west coast has some of Greece’s best sand – head to curvaceous, unspoilt Voidhokilia.

  • Trip plan: From Athens, cross onto the Peloponnese via ancient Corinth, and visit nearby Mycenae, Epidaurus and the pretty Venetian town of Nafplio – doable in a few days. With more time, head south to Monemvasia and the Mani, then back north via the west coast and Olympia.
  • Need to know: Athens to Corinth is 53 miles (85km; 55-minute drive); buses, trains and ferries run from near Athens to the Peloponnese.
  • Other months: Nov-Mar – cold; Apr-May – warming, flowers; Jun-Aug – hot, busy; Sep-Oct – warm, quieter.