Camels, Monkeys and Cobras… OH MY it’s Marrakech!

Dive in to adventure when reading about Marrakesh, Morocco!

FEBRUARY 2019 Marrakesh, Morocco

My husband and I chose to make the trip to Marrakech, Africa -new country, new continent along with new cultures and language.  Got to check this one off of our Bucket List!

We choose to take a cab as close as we could to our Riad- which was right off of the main square Jamaa el Fna (200 Durams or 20$). Jemaa el-Fna is a square and market place in Marrakesh’s medina quarter. It remains the main square of Marrakesh, used by locals and tourists. On our walk in to the Riad we took through the markets and saw everything from rugs, blankets to jewelry, traditional spices and Tajin dishes made in Morocco. 

Picture of the Medina, from the rooftop on our hotel!

 The name of our hotel was the Riad Le Rubis and cost us around 90$ a night. The location was great, we were very centrally located, but also right in the middle of the busy bustling streets that don’t stop until 1 or 2 in the morning.

Checked into hotel and headed over to dinner where we tried some traditional Moroccan dishes in Tajins. I chose a chicken lentil dish and husbands was couscous chicken with moroccan spices.


After dinner we walked around the Medina. Grabbed a FRESH mixed fruit juice and pomegranate juice squeezed right in front of us.   As we wondered around we ran into the Koutoubia Minaret- largest mosque in Marrakesh, and the gardens that surround it.  

Sunset Koutoubia Minaret – Largest Mosque in Marrakech

Day 2 in Marrakech  – Adventure time!  

We booked a tour through TripAdvisor that was camel rides and ATV rides in the Desert (not really).  We woke up and roamed around to find coffee and food. Found decent place at Cafe Laksour – had good coffee and made us an Omelet (which he literally walked across the street to buy the ingredients) and then headed out at 9 am for our tour. The food was pretty cheap only cost us 56 durams (Morroccan Money).

Once we were picked up for the tour guides we had to take a ride maybe 30-40 minutes out of the city.  The Camel and Quad Tour cost us around 100$ each.

The camels were a pretty amazing site to see, although we were not in the real Sahara Desert… (sad face) It was still a cool adventure, not many times in your life can you say that you have ridden and actual camel, and even more in Morocco! They took us out and around with the camels and then took us to a traditional Moroccan home where they showed us how to make the Mint tea and served us with YUMMY Moroccan pancakes!!

After the camels came the quad bikes…. at this point in the day it decided to rain and this was COLD rain. I wasn’t not the happiest person by the end but the excursion through small villages I would call them – was very much an eye opening experience.

Day 3 – Travel to the Ouzoud Falls

We planned to do another excursion because honestly one day is plenty when in the city of Marrakech to knock out the souvenirs or keepsakes you might want to barter or haggle for in the markets/souks and to see all of the the touristy highlights.   

Woke up and headed to the Medina area where the trip was to pick us up at 8 in which nothing really opens until later but the fruit stands were open!  We grabbed one for the road which was about 60 durams for 3 different fruits in one smoothie.    So delicious and fresh 🙂 

The trip was out of Marrakech about 3 hours to the waterfalls –Ouzoud falls! This tour cost us around 50 euros total. Ouzoud Falls are the highest waterfalls in Africa at 110 m high.

The tour also included a boat ride at the bottom of the falls where they took you all the way up to the bottom of the falls! I thought we were all going to get soaked! BUT the man driving the boat knew what he was doing! 🙂

On our walk up to the falls our guide showed us the Olive trees that many of the Berber (Native people of North Africa – Berber, barbarians) families own – marked with paint to show who owns which tree. He gave us some brief history on the trees and that it takes 7 years for a newly planted olive tree to produce any olives. CRAZY

Our guide told us that a home is made to house the entire family -the girls once married are sent away to live with the mans family, once a boy is born the family “adds” a new room on to the home (expecting him to become married). The Berbers are persistent on learning new languages and require the children to start to learn 4 languages in Kindergarten and by university age they must know 9 or they are not allowed to go on at that point.

On the other side of the falls there were MONKEYS, wild monkeys – everywhere! We bought a few peanuts and started to feed them and they would jump up on you to eat the peanuts out of your hands. We walked to the very top of the waterfall and at the top it was time for lunch. We were served a 3 course traditional Moroccan meal. CousCous with veggies, lamp Tajinn – all served with Moroccan style bread. Then for dessert, fresh oranges and bananas.

Once we took the 3 hour track back home it was time to again find food – and this time we decided to try the street food or market food in the Jamaa El-Fna. We just randomly chose one of the many that are being offered to you as you walk through the market. It was super delicious and all of the food was made right in front of us -we tried the Moroccan soup and a couple of Pastilla et Poulet, sausage on the grill and some bread with dipping sauces.  It was everything you could want from the streets of Marrakech.  We also only paid 120 durams for our entire meal!   THIS is definitely a must try as you are in Marrakesh and in the area, it is kind of a daunting experience with all of the overload of people pulling you one direction or the other, but once you sit down they take care of you and make sure you get what you need.

Day 4 – Smack a Cobra!  

On day four we woke up and had breakfast in our hotel, then we headed out to mail a couple of post cards at the post office (super easy to do -if you like to mail items from a new location, we just found the post office off of the Medina – bought stamps and put them in the international mail).

We made a stop in the Jamaa el Fna…  for the extremely large tourist trap of taking pictures with snakes and cobras.   It still got my heart racing and was an experience I can and will be talking about for the longest time.  My husband actually held a cobra as the man was holding a large cobra in my face and a snake was hanging around my neck.  OMG..   I freaked but smiled for the pictures.   

My husband was all about this and it was on his bucket list to “smack a cobra”. NOT so much on my list but I joined in on the picture and I was glad that I did. 🙂 A neat and different “to say that you did” experience!

After the Cobra charming… we started to roam the streets…finding some cool Moroccan souvenir! As we did this we ran into a cafe that played up the Beatles theme called Koulchi Zine. They had an amazing rooftop where we soaked in some rays and ordered pastilla… again 😉 a coke and a fruit juice for 180 Dirhams.

Something that kept popping up in our research was the Le Jardin Secret. It cost us like 50 Dirham each, and in both of our opinions… not really worth it. Don’t get me wrong, the garden was beautiful and was kept in great care, but it is just that… a garden. We took our time in the garden since we just spent money to walk through cacti and trees. At the top of the garden was a small little bar where you could get coffees and cakes, so we just relaxed and enjoyed the time taking in the beautiful morning. 🙂

TIP

Make sure to check out or even stay in the Guilere area ( we found this later in our trip). It is an updated and more modern area away from the busy area and hustle and bustle that is the Médina.  It is very relaxed – but can also catch you off guard if you are to wonder in a wrong area. 

While we were roaming through and getting lost in the streets I started looking for a leather back pack that I kept seeing. My husband made me haggle for the price my self and I would say I am pretty happy … the price of the bag was 300 and I got it for 220 ;).   These were my two take away from the crazy Souks!

TIP

It should only be 100 Dirham from downtown to airport  – On our way in we were “caught as a tourist” and paid 200 Diram, and on the way out we were quoted 100 Dirham ($10 difference) but we learned ;). We also showed early to our gate and we were glad that we did… check in was packed. BUT the security was empty and it was a breeze to make it through.

Things I couldn’t get enough of during our stay! Cats – Sunsets – Fruit and fruit juices – Camels – and Pastilla!

This was it for Marrakesh but not the end of our travels… We were catching a flight to Lisbon, Portugal next! 

Christmas in Germany… Weihnachtsmarkt

When the weather turns cold here in Europe everyone knows its time for the Christkindlmarkt! Christmas in Europe is a very special time of the year, from all the decorations to the beautiful winter foliage – there is sure to be something for everyone!

I am sharing just a few of the Markets that I traveled to this year and in years past. After living over here in Europe and visiting for the last three years I have hit quite a few of them! You can never go wrong with choosing a market, wether they are in Germany or other places in Europe they always have the same things to look for and find that are the best parts of every Christmas market!

The best items to get at a German Christmas market or any markets across Europe are of course… the FOOD, a few handmade items and last but not least, the Gluwhein or the hot mulled wine!

Make sure to take a picture of yourself in front of the Christmas sign, the decorated trees and indulge in the sweet treats that are all around you! My favorites are definitely the crepes filled with Nutella and banana OR the tiny little pancakes called Poffers.. YUM! You are sure to always find a Wurst mit Brochen.. the german way to say a bratwurst with bread 🙂 DELICIOUS! Also they have a pizza type of cuisine called flammkuchen that is a small flat bread pizza with a white cream sauce on top then topped with tiny pieces of bacon, onion and cheese. These are what are traditional to German markets but other places – like hungry – might have other specialty items! One for example is the Kürtőskalács– a dough that has been wrapped around a large wooden stick to make a “chimney cake” desert. They are then cooked over an open fire, once cooked they are then doused with cinnamon and sugar!

There are so many stands that will sell you the traditional Christmas Market drink… Gluhwein, served in a souvenir mug (costs a pfland or deposit) but its yours to keep if you want! If you return it you get your deposit back. They also have Hot Schokolade, or a kinderpunsch if you aren’t into the alcoholic beverages. 🙂

Make sure to grab a few crucial photo ops while at the markets, and continue drinking your Gluwhein!

  • Photo of the holiday mug served at every market
  • Snap a pic of the live animal manger scenes that will make an appearance at most markets
  • Smile big in front of the biggest Christmas tree you can find!
  • Make sure to document which market you went to with a pic in front of the arch or sign & entrance.
  • Who can find the biggest Christmas carousel? Snap a pic in front of one that you find!
  • Snap a pic of your wurst sandwich find.. almost impossible to leave a market with out partaking in one of these as a snack.
  • A picture of your handmade ornament that was the most unique
  • A picture with your friends and family at the market!

This year my sister and I visited –

    Esslingen Christmas Market (my FAVE)
    Stuttgart Christmas Market
    Berlin Christmas Markets
  • Past years in Germany I have visited-
    • Wurzburg Market (smaller)
      Boblingen (smaller)
      ChocoArt Festival in Tubingen!
    In France I have only been to the Strasbourg Christmas market, which is one of the largest and oldest markets in all of Europe. It is truly a beautiful market and a beautiful fairytale like town that offers the Christmas feeling at every glance!

    My husband and I have also visited a few Christmas markets in Italy – Rome, Venice and Milan.

    Recently my sister and I have just traveled across the Eastern part of Europe where we got to experience the markets in Hungary, Slovakia, Austria, and the Czech Republic! Equally could all be my favorites places to go and spend Christmas time. The decorations, the food and the merriment made for a truly enjoyable trip through Europe! My next post will have more on this trip that I just took with my sister. It was such an amazing experience and you don’t want to miss out on the inside scoop!


    Let’s Talk Europe… PARIS

    Strap on in and hold on tight…. this is a long one! 🙂

    You want to know more about Paris, right??  Well here is the insight from someone that has been there… twice.  The first trip was a romantic couple trip and the second time was a family trip with my parents.

    Since we live in Germany, we took a train from Stuttgart Train station directly to Paris Main Railway station.  It was about a 3.5 hour train ride, very comfortable and very reasonably priced tickets.  The price per ticket, each way, was 50 Euro.

    We stayed at the Mercure Hotel which was located super close to the Eiffel tower.  Everyday when we would walk out of our hotel, we would round the corner and there was the beauty of the Eiffel Tower.

    While we definitely enjoyed our selves with all the lights of the Eiffel tower and the wonderful food found in the Cafes, and of course all magnificent pastries and treats at the Boulangerie or patisseries here is our list of all the other activities to do while in Paris.

    1. DO try the Escargot… you might like it 😉
      1. On our first night in Paris, we walked around and admired all the sights and sounds of the city and we were looking for a place to have dinner.  We came upon a lovely little cafe that offered escargot as a starter, it was super delicious…although my other half did not think the same.  The Escargot or snails, came out baked with a pesto sauce on the inside, being our first time we asked how we are to eat the snails.  We were told to place it on a piece of bread and enjoy 🙂
    2. The LOUVRE
      1. All we knew we wanted to see was the Mona Lisa, though it was worth it to see the iconic piece of art, we found that it is a packed place just full of people and they are all trying to do the same thing we did.  We got in, took our picture and then we got out!  BUT we took our time and looked around the rest of the Louvre and took in the rest of the beautiful art or artifacts from around the world that are decades and even centuries old.
      2. My tip – PRE PURCHASE your Louvre ticket for a “timed” entry, if you know what day you want to visit.  You can purchase the tickets HERE.  Otherwise you will be standing in the longest line you have ever seen for a really long time.
    3. Eiffel Tower
      1. During winter months you can ice skate on second floor, we didn’t get the chance but we saw all the kids enjoy the ice rink while we were there.
      2. Eat on the Eiffel Tower! There are several different restarts from the first floor all the way to the top floor. They offers an expereince unlike any other but make sure to book your dinner through the website, it can be pricey at the top, but some towards the bottom could fit in your budget.
      3. PRE PURCHASE TICKETS -One of the best places to purchase tickets is the official Eiffel Tower website, during tourist season, which is usually during the summer months, it can be hard to get in to visit the floors of the tower.
      4. **TIPS**
    4. Boat Tour Dinner on Seine River
      1. This was an activity we did on the second trip to Paris, it was one thing saw while I was in Paris the first trip, and decided that it would be a great way to show my parents around the area on the first night.
      2. We spent around $60 per person for a 2 hour boat ride that included a classic French cuisine dinner.  It also included one glass of wine for each person or a choice of drink. Anything else that you wanted to drink or eat would be extra.
      3. The tour started at the dock near the Louvre, and then it headed in the direction of the Eiffel Tower, great pictures from the river.  Then the boat turned around and started in the other direction, where it took us past Notre Dame and several beautiful bridges.  Once the boat had finished going around the river for two hours, we had finished our dinner.  This is a great activity for families with children or even for couples.
    5. Food Tour – St. Germain
      1. THIS was the most AMAZING food tour I have ever taken part in.  It was of course, a sweets tour.  The area of St. Germain is packed full of different bakeries and patisseries just waiting to be explored.  The area also has great history that is shared with you during the tour.  You meet with a local that shares a little slice of heaven with you in an area she knows very well.  I highly recommend trying out this experience!  You won’t walk away hungry 😉
      2. **TIP** Meet the Locals.com is a great website when looking for activities during travel, and are usually in every city you might visit anywhere.
      3. CHECK OUT THE FULL POST ON THE FOOD TOUR HERE!
    6. Moulin Rouge
      1. A cabaret show in Paris that dates back to 1885 and made the French cancan famous.  We booked our tickets in advance and we went to a late night showing. It was a surprise to me actually, my husband didn’t tell me where we were going until we arrived.  A great surprise it was!  I do not speak french and couldn’t understand what they were singing, but the show was still amazing.  I loved it, it is a must if you have time in Paris!
    7. Chocolate Tour
      1. Great little museum that is all about Chocolate!  The cost was 35 Euro a person and 3 Euro for the hot chocolate. We found out about the museum because we had to make a pit stop at a cafe and found a coupon for Choco Story at a cafe that was down the street, that got us half off. We did not plan the adventure until we got to this cafe and added it as a quick little stop, since we heard it was ALL YOU CAN EAT CHOCOLATE… don’t get too excited they aren’t ginormous bars, you are in Europe 😉  They were tiny little chocolate chips the size of quarters, but were all very delicious and came in flavors from Dark chocolate to white chocolate, and you really could eat as many as you wanted.  At the end of the museum, they had a workshop where you could watch a chocolatier make chocolate and you could also craft your own hot chocolate.
    8. Champs-Élysées
      1. Christmas Market -So… if you haven’t heard it already, i’m telling you now.  Christmas markets are one of the BEST things ever (in my opinion) and are all around Europe. What is not to love though? FOOD AND WINE!?!  Since we visited Paris once during Christmas and once during the summer months, we did actually get to see the Christmas market on/near Champs-Élysée. At the market we got to indulge in a variety of foods from all over the world, we tried frog legs cooked in truffle oil, crocodile bites and fried kangaroo.  We of course had all of the common Christmas market foods which are melted cheese on top of anything with Vin Chaud (hot wine). YUMMM  There are also many crepes (filled with nutella), waffles and other sweets.
      2. Champs-Élysée Shopping
        1. Champs-Élysée is one of the most recognizable avenues in the world, known for its cafes and many luxury shops.   Even though it is one of the most recognizable places, we aren’t shoppers so we really only were there to see the Arc de Triumph, since it is at the end of the avenue.
    9. Arc de Triomphe
      1. The Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile is yet another of famous monuments which is at the end of Champs-Élysée.  It is in the center of Place Charles de Gaulle, which is the junction of 5 large avenues, creating the star around the Arc de Triomphe and let me tell you.. it is CRAZY.  All the cars going around and around, don’t attempt to frogger across!  All you have to do to get to the Arc de Triomphe is find the tunnel that goes underground and you walk right to the monument. It is free to visit, but does cost to go on top, in our opinion it isn’t worth the money because you get a better view on top of the Eiffel Tower!IMG_6227
    10. Walk around a random district
      1. We did!  We walked around and jumped in and out of art stores, cheese shops, gelato stands and even found a shop that is owned by someone originally from Ohio, now living in Paris, who claimed to have some of the best brownies.  It is just always fun to find and talk with someone from the area and learn about their journeys.
    11. Notre-Dame de Paris
      1. Located on its own little separate “island” and also known as “Our Lady of Paris”. Here you will find more than 100 gargoyles, spread all over the Notre Dame Cathedral.
      2. How to get there?  You can either walk over the bridges to get to the Cathedral, or you can take the subway train and get off at St-Michel Notre Dame that will take you directly to the island.  Then you will walk up lots of stairs because the subway is so far down, then you will pop up from below and you will be a two minute walk away from the Cathedral.

    Well… that is all I have for right now on one of the most beautiful places in the world that always leaves you wanting more.  It has a little bit of everything in this town, rich history, fashion for days and food that makes your eyes pop!  I hope this can help you get the courage to get out there and visit Paris! 🙂

     

    1. **Travel Tip**
      • Before you head home, grab a few souvenirs that are true to Paris or even France.  A few things to look into grabbing as souvenirs from Paris – cheese, wine, chocolate, art, fashionable clothing, perfume, post cards and of course tons and tons of pictures!

     

    Paris Food Tour.. DO IT and thank me later

    Sweet Treats Tour in PARIS.. OMG I was in HEAVEN!

    We started our food tour in St. Germaine, a beautiful little area that is filled with things to do and plenty to eat!  Before we stared we mosied around the area and found an awesome/amazing second hand store that was totally ALL vintage!  Hats, fanny packs, jackets, dresses, you name it… they were all vintage and they were all amazing.  We also came across an art showing that was filled with artists selling their different types of art up and down the streets.

    Finally it was time we met up with our tour guide and her love of food was just like mine, we started talking about macaroons and how they are so incredibly perfect, that’s when she told me that I would be extremely happy with the choice of the first stop… the whole time I was thinking, how can I get this job and be a food tour guide?? But if I were… I’d gain 50lbs! HA She said that’s why she didn’t take part in eating the wonderful treats anymore 😉

    Soo…first stop, my fave, MACAROONS.  Lauderee was the name of the Macaroon store and they have been making macaroons for years. These treats are so incredibly delicious, they are crunchy on the outside, while a soft brownie like cookie is waiting under that crispy shell, then to elevate it even more, its filled with the most delicious cream fillings you’ve ever tried. I chose the chocolate, because I can’t ever not choose chocolate, my downfall.  My father had lemon, mother had almond one and my husband had a caramel macroon.  I got to try them all and they were all super delicious!

    The next stop was at a Henri La Roux, it was a carmels shop. Not just ANY carmales, but these were “melt in your mouth” caramels that had any flavor you could dream.  I had the rose caramel and let me tell you, I could have happily devoured 10 more of those.  Some of the other choices were Salted Carmel, lemon and melon.

    Our third stop, was an unexpected dream come true.  It was called Popelini.  Popelini creates these wonderful cream puffs that again, have creative flavors!   Once the tour was over.. we went back and bought a whole box! THAT is how good these things were.  There was a rum flavor, pistache, rose, mango, nutella and so many more!  YUMMM

    Next on the tour was a place called Meert Patisserie.   This place was beautiful on the inside and had an amazing treat just waiting for us.  When I was told we were getting waffles I envisioned this thick fluffy waffle drenched with butter and syrup… nope… BUT Meert’s been long time famous for these unique version of the gaufre, a delicate waffle that is native to Holland, Belgium and northern France.  Meert’s version, recipe a long time secret, is an amazing mixture of a cream center with a vanilla or cinnamon twist in between a soft waffle outer crust.

     

     

    Now for the Éclairs!  When you think Paris, I’m sure an Éclair pops in your head, right?  No…just me? Ha!  Anyways, these were the most amazingly decorated, hand made concoctions you’ve ever seen! Located at E’clair De Genie. 🙂

     

    At this point we were STUFFED!  So many sweet treats but every bite being worth it, and eye opening to all the places that are hiding in Paris.  Make sure to either pop into a few of these places or take the tour, either way it is definitely worth it and show you what Paris and France or known for, the sweet sweet confectionary creations. IMG_2017

    This Girls 5 Reasons to Travel Now… don’t wait!

    We all know that travel is expensive and most of us in our twenties don’t have that much of a cushion when it comes to cash flow.  BUT that doesn’t mean we should lock our selves into our jobs and take life too serious… just yet!  Here are 5 reason you should take that trip you’ve been planning and jet set on out of here!

    1. You get the best experiences
      1. Why might you ask?  BECAUSE you have done the nitty gritty research, all the ins and outs of each location to find THE BEST deals.  When you don’t have much money to travel on you don’t just pick the best looking hotel room or the first one you see.  YOU find the diamond in the rough!  Yes it was hard, but YES it is worth it to see that the location you chose is usually where most of the locals hang out -rather than in the super tourist parts of town.
    2. You can enjoy the night life a little more
      1. I am not saying that when you are older you won’t enjoy the night life, but if you are young and single you can meet a few people and they can change the experience from just seeing the inside of a club, to maybe meeting up for drinks the next day and EXPERIENCING the true city.  When you are traveling by yourself or even with another person/significant other while young you can reach out to those locals and see the city the way they see it.
    3. Your body can take it
      1. When you are young your body can recuperate so much faster than while you’re older.  Soo.. go ahead and enjoy that long night out but also plan an early morning hike or EXREME activity! Jump out of an airplane, run an adventure race, jump off a cliff… My husband said it to me this way… “Am I going to run with the bulls when I am sixty?” NOPE!  I’m pretty sure at sixty i’m gonna be sitting on a beach relaxing with a drink in my hand rather than running around Pamplona 😉
    4. You take more RISKS
      1. I’ve seen my point of view already chaining on this one since I am getting a little older… “maybe I don’t need to take this trip or take that leap into cold water”… NO, we DO need to JUMP!  We only get to experience this life one time and this ONE TIME needs to be full of fun and excitement and the things that keep our hearts racing and pumping!  When we are young we are more likely to take those risks that get more out of our life!
    5. You probably have no commitments
      1. When most of us are in our mid twenties the only thing we think that matters is this.. graduate, get a job, start a career and then build a family.  WELL lets try to rethink this one, what if we traveled the world first and got all the experiences in life that could shape us into who we really can become.  THEN we can start our careers and the paths we choose to take.  Right now in life, there are no children, and the jobs are ALWASY going to be waiting for us when we get back.  Take the chance, take the leap and BOOK THAT TRIP!

    I hope i’ve convinced you that you can go and travel young, soooo now lets get out there!! We all have been given the chance to live the way we want and the world is at the tips of our fingers…  this photo always reminds me of the beauty in the world and lights a fire beneath my feet and I most definitely want MORE.  Find the photo that inspires you to dream, and to remember that no dream is too big!  #GIRLMEETSWORLD

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    BUCKET LIST…dreams do come true!

    Thinking about creating a bucket list? Check out a few of mine and add them to your own!

    My husband and I are thrill seeking, travel crazy and fun loving people!  Now I have to admit.. my husband is FAR more outgoing than myself.  He loves to find the most thrilling and exciting things to do everywhere we go!  Also we we have now started our own bucket list that we’ve added to together so we can dream of what to do and where to go next!  Some of the items are risk taking adventures but i’m gladly always along for the ride! Take a peak at ours and grab a few ideas for yourself 🙂

    TRAVEL BUCKET LIST

    • South Africa
      • Cage Diving
    • Colombia
      • Swim with Hammerheads
    • Moscow
    • Cairo Egypt
      • Pyramids
    • Great Wall of China
    • Dublin, Ireland
      • Cliffs of Mohr
      • Giants Causeway
    • Berlin
    • Galápagos Islands
    • Iceland
    • Christmas in Paris
    • Nicaragua
      • Volcano Board
    • Machu Pichu
    • Venice
    • Rome
    • Thailand
      • Songkran Waterfight
      • Full moon party
    • Sweden/Finland – Northern Lights
      • Stay in an igloo
      • Dog sled
    •  Visit all 50 states
    • Lisbon, Portugal
      • Eat where Anthony Bourdain ate – Ramiro’s
    • Greece
      • Athens – visit the Acropolis
      • Mykanos Islands
    • United Kingdom
      • Manchester United Soccer Game
      • Visit home of the Beatles
      • See a broadway show in London
    • Mexico
      • Swim with Whale Sharks
      • Swim with Dolphins
    • Croatia
      • ULTRA EDM Festival
      • Yacht Week
    • India
      • Ride an Elephant
    • Morocco
      • Ride a Camel
      • Hold a Cobra
    • Dubai
      • Ride a sandboard
    • Ivrea, Italy
      • Battle of the Oranges
    • Brazil
    • Milan for New Years
    • Besançon, France
      • Jungle Run
    • Buñol, Spain
      • Biggest tomato fight

    ADVENTURE BUCKET LIST

    • Tandem Skydive
      • Sky diving license
    • Scuba Diving
      • Scuba license
    • Zorbing
    • Swim in the Dead Sea
    • Frankenstein Castle in Burg Germany
    • Week long adventure race
    • Tomorrowland
    • Run a Marathon or Half Marathon
    • Be in a movie
    • Sail a boat
    • Eat a blowfish
    • Go on a safari
    • Attend the Olympics
    • Be a part of a flash mob

    Now these aren’t all of our bucket list goals but its a large portion of them. These are just the travel and adventure goals.  We also like to add a lot of personal goals on our bucket list to motivate us forward every day.  If you see it then you can dream it and believe it!

    **Feel free to ask me any questions about the places we have traveled! All of the orange places that are marked through have been completed as a one of our bucket list items!  Some of them even have a blog post with them, and one day they all will!

    We are happy to help! 🙂

    Berlin Germany…Girls TRRRIIIPPPP!

    Berlin is an awesome city! Full of new things around every corner and home to many festivals!

    At the beginning of September myself and a group of girls decided we wanted to go to Lollapalooza, which was conveniently taking place in Berlin! We purchased our tickets for the festival and then found super CHEAP train tickets with the flix bus train.  Our trains only cost us 70 euro each ROUNDTRIP. Yes it was packed and yes it was old but.. it was 70 euro!

    We arrived in Berlin about 2pm – we checked into our hotel which was literally right round the corner, Meininger Hotel and it somewhat setup as a hotel/hostel. Great location as far as close to the train to get in and get out of Berlin, but a little far off from everything else.  BUT like I said, it was a train station so we just hopped on the local transportation to get place to place.

    On Friday night we went out to search for the rooftop Monkey Bar, such a super CUTE bar that has one of the best views of the city.  My pictures do not do it justice at all!  The cocktails were super yummy and creative!  There was also a restaurant upstairs called Neni that looked amazing and yummy, we didn’t get a chance to try because they were booked (so make reservations) – maybe next time i’ll get the chance to try it out! 🙂

    After our drinks on top of the world… hehe – we headed out for dinner at L’Osteria which had a great selection of wine and beer.  Great service and served us delicious dishes of Italian…from Bruschetta, pizza, pastas and seafood dishes.

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    We called it a night because we knew the next few days were going to be rough!  HA

    We woke up the next day, grabbed a lite breakfast and then headed out for the festival that was taking place in the Olympia Stadium (pretty neat to be where the 1936 Summer Olympics took place).

    The next two days were filled with yummy food trucks and music that would make you dance for hours!  Our festival tickets only cost 140 euro for two days packed full of artists from around the world!  If you are ever over in Europe for a long period of time make sure to check one out!

    On Sunday morning we woke up early so we could go visit a few sights and find breakfast. 🙂  We walked over to a place called House of Small Wonder… OMG.. the BEST breakfast I have had in Europe thus far! They had eggs Benedict, croissant bench toast and creamy eggs with a cheesy gratin. I guarantee you can’t be disappointed if you make a stop here. AND had “insta worthy” pictures. 🙂

    Then we made our way over to the Berlin Wall memorial to catch up on a bit of the history in Berlin. It was a sobering little adventure but a must do when you are in the area.

    Then it was time to call it quits in Berlin… for now 😉 I’ll be back to Berlin for New Years with more adventures and more recommendations!

    Make sure to check back and catch the update!

     

     

    Liverpool… BEATLES-MANIA

    On a whim one day, we decided to buy a cheap ticket that got us to Manchester, England. When we were looking at what to do in the area, we decided to actually go to Liverpool – which is home to the Beatles (my hubs is a big fan).

    Once we landed in Manchester, we then had to take a train to Liverpool which took about 45 minutes – we pre bought the tickets so we knew what time we took off and had enough time to find the train station – that was near by and in the airport but it was a long walk away from where we landed (different terminal).

    We finally arrived in Liverpool and had gotten a hostel in the center of town, called the Everton Road Hostel.  It was a Beatle themed hostel that had several rooms but had 6+ people in most of them.  It was a little rough going, again because I’m not a fan of hostels but… I pushed through and made it work.  Anyway.. we dropped off our bags and headed out to explore BEATLES-MANIA!

    Our first stop was the Cavern Club – where the Beatles first got their start and today they claim to be the most famous club in the world!   FYI – we found out that there were two “Cavern Clubs”, – one is the Cavern Pub, had live music & memorabilia while the other one is a replica of the actual Cavern Club where the Beatles use to play – along with a lot of other famous artists such as Freddie Mercury, Rolling Stones, the Who and many many more. They played mostly Beatles music all night long and had pretty decent prices on drinks.  You can grab a souvenir here and there are also other events that take place in the bar, so make sure to check it out – even if you aren’t a Beatles fan!

    In the same area – there are a lot of other bars that were so much fun!  We stopped in a few of them and found a few more live bands too!

    We woke up on Saturday morning knowing that we were heading back to Manchester but to partake in a Manchester United Football game.  We were pretty pumped for the game – and then we found out that we had tickets in the 100 Club – which meant we got to sit in a particular section and got food and drinks in our own little area (AWESOME)!  The game went by so quick and everyone was on the edge of their seats with intensity.  The Manchester United Soccer Club ended the game with a tie but I thought they played very well!

    -My husband found the tickets through ticket master and we paid a pretty penny for them as well, since you technically have to be a soccer club member to get the tickets.  BUT if you are a soccer fan and have always wanted to go, there is a way!

    We headed back to Liverpool on the train -JAM PACKED because the trains were having a strike – BUT we finally made it back and headed to the Cavern Club where we enjoyed ourselves again with all of the Beatles music! 🙂

    On Sunday morning we had scheduled a Liverpool bike tour with a local who took us around the town of Liverpool.  It was a COLD ride but was worth facing the cold – we got the point of view from a local who grew up in Liverpool.  He took us all around and showed us the homes of Paul, John and Ringo’s childhood homes.  We visited the strawberry fields, Eleanor Rigby’s gravesite, and Penny Lane.   Also, we got to see the church where Paul & John met.  We then stopped to see the school where Paul, George and John all went to primary school.  It was a GREAT tour and the guide was very knowledgeable!  The bikes were the electric bikes – my first time being on one and it was partly why I enjoyed it so much! 😉 We booked the tour through Trip Advisor and was 88 euro for us both to partake in the 3.5 hour small group tour.

    Once we finished with the bike tour – we went to the Beatles Story museum, where we learned even more about the Beatles and each of the guys separately and their lives.  It was a super neat museum and worth a visit!  We payed 38 euro for the both tickets and again booked the tour through Trip Advisor. 🙂 OR you could purchase tickets at the door.

    Our guide on the bike tour told us to check out the Museum of Liverpool (FREE entry) because it had an exhibit on John Lennon and Yoko Ono.  It was really neat as well and had a few interactive parts, where you could write on the walls or leave behind good vibes for the future.

    That night we had to switch hostels -in my opinion it was WAY better – called the YHA hostel.  It was located in the Baltic triangle of Liverpool (up and coming area), super neat area that was near the Albert Dock, which is packed full of restaurants, cafes, art stores and much more.

    We had passed a place called Ghetto Golf earlier on our bike ride so we decided to check it out.  OMG – it was so much fun!!  They had DELICIOUS drinks, you could put 18 holes (that were all decked out with different themes) and eat yummy BBQ.  It only cost us about 20 euro and the drinks were about 5 euros each, but in all it was a cheap way to have some fun!

    It was a quick trip again because we left on Friday and then panned our return for Monday, so at this point it was time to go home 😦  BUT we weren’t sad because we had so much fun in Liverpool and in Manchester, England.  It was also a refreshing change to be able to speak the language!

    If you find yourself in the area, take a chance for an off the beaten path trip and visit Liverpool!

     

     

     

     

    Guinness, Jameson and Giants Causeway…Welcome to IRELAND!

    Now arriving in… Dublin,Ireland
    On a mid September afternoon we flew from Stuttgart Germany to Dublin, Ireland!
    We purchased our flights in advance and they cost us $200 total for the both my husband and myself. We purchased the flights using Kiwi.com.
    We arrived in Dublin around 7pm, where we then headed to our hostel, Barnacles. A great location which was the reason for us choosing this place other than the price being so low… but I have to admit, this being my first time staying in a hostel, it’ll be my last. Anyways the cost for the amazing location, which was literally right in the middle of it all -right by the temple bar, tons of restaurants and pubs on pubs- was 35€ per bed each night and came with free breakfast…but we had chosen to pass on that since it is of course vacation!
    We were starving by the time we finished checking in, so we just walked to a nearby street that was buzzing with people and pubs. We found a hole in the wall restaurant that was called the Klaw. People….it was to die for! Definitely check it out if you are planning a trip to Dublin… we had some lobster rolls as well as some Mac and cheese! But there was a lot more options to choose from and the seafood was freshhh 🙂
    Day 1- We wanted to get out of the city first and experience everything that the country side of Ireland and Northern Ireland have to offer.
    Saturday morning- we woke up early to meet our tour group that was taking us from Dublin to Belfast and to the Giants Causeway, with another quick stop to the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge. We spent 60€ for each ticket. But the ticket included the travel to Belfast, where you then got a taxi ride tour from a local through Belfast, Giants Causeway – absolutely amazing and a MUST SEE, rope bridge – which was my favorite part, simply because of the views. It was an all day tour and most definitely worth it! We used Wild Rover Tours -we booked the tour through Trip Advisor – Giants Causeway Tour & Northern Ireland.
    The tour started as soon as we arrived in Belfast, Northern Ireland.  We were separated into groups and had an option to either go to the titanic museum or get the taxi tour -we chose the taxi tour because we wanted to know the history of Belfast. We were then all sent with a different taxi driver to drive us around and give us the Belfast tour.  Currently the history of Belfast is still struggling to find peace. They still have a wall that is up dividing the city that will close at certain times at night.  We were allowed to sign our names to the wall and take a quick pic.

    Once we were finished in Belfast, we headed to the Giants Causeway, which is a world UNESCO heritage sight, and is made up of interlocking basalt columns, the result of an ancient volcanic fissure eruption. Extremely amazing sight to see and was a great way to get down to the ocean and see its beauty up close and personal.

    The final stop, Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge, was definitely my favorite. It had unmatched beauty with the cliffs located all around and the sound of the ocean when the tide went in and out against the rocks.  The ocean left me wanting more, and I will definitely be coming back for more in Northern Ireland.

    Saturday evening we arrived back in Dublin around 8pm… again, starved! Looking for a great place for yummy food… we were told of several spots I check out by the tour guide which included Murray’s bar. The bar had live music and looked appetizing, so we gave it a try. Upstairs was packed with people but we found a table downstairs that was way less crowded. We grabbed a couple of pints and ordered a bowl of seafood chowder each…DELICIOUS 🙂

    Other places that were suggested for either tradition Irish food or a place loved by some locals and also places I researched but didn’t have enough time to make a visit… yet 😉
    • The Church
    • The Celt Bar
    • O’Neills
    • The Lotts Bar
    • Temple Bar
    • The Stags Head
    • Boxty House
    • Muphy’s Ice Cream
    Day 2 – another full day – jam packed with history, delicious food and drinks!
    Sunday morning we woke up and headed straight for a donut!… The Rolling Donut shop was the perfect place to start our day… with a rolling start ;). We got the deal which was one donut plus a coffee for 5€. One of the best donuts I have had in a very long time, it’s a must try if you have a chance!

    Then we walked to Trinity college for the Book of Kells tour, which is located in the heart of Dublin. While walking though the cobbled stones at the college it brought you to the 18th century, when the college was built and the old library was constructed. In the old library is the Book of Kells. The book of Kells is one of the worlds oldest and famous books completed in 800 AD.

    …BUT the real star of the show, in my opinion was the long library. IF you get an early ticket and skip the book of Kells, only at first and then go straight to the library (which is past the book and up a stair case to the left) where there will be no one in your way (for great pics). Then you can circle back around and check out the rest of the exhibit. It cost us 13€ for each ticket into the library to visit the book of Kells and library exhibit.

    Then.. it was time, to go to the Guinness factory and the Jameson distillery… of course you have to hit these because they are such a well known part of the Dublin history.

    The Guinness Storehouse is a huge building that is packed with not only pints of beer but also information on how Guinness is created and the history of Guinness.  We have to point out our favorite floors… which were the tasting  room where we learned the full flavors of the beer, learning to pour the perfect pint of Guinness -mine was the best ;), and also the dining floor that had 3 different restaurants to choose.  We chose to eat at the 1837 bar & brasserie restaurant where you could find anything from wings, cheese fries, burgers and even crab cakes! I chose the crab cakes (super delish) and hubs had the burger with Guinness cheese topped fries :).  THEN of course the very top floor that gives you a 360 degree view of Dublin.  It is definitely a “theme park” for adults and we goofed around in the Storehouse for a while just enjoying all the pints and some delicious food to pair with the dark stuff 😉 Tickets for the Guiness storehouse can be purchased through their website and the prices do fluctuate, but we bought a skip the line ticket through trip advisor for 20$ each.

    Jameson Distillery tour was pretty awesome, even though I’m not into the stuff I really enjoyed myself! My husband of course was in his element. The tour consisted a brief history of the Jameson family and how they created the factory.  The hard times they went through and then how they got to where they are today.  We also learned about the triple distillation process and what type of barrels they use and how long it stays before they are touched.  Then we got to go to the tasting room, where we compared Jameson to some other competitors.  At the end, we got a free drink!  Then we hung out around the bar and tried a few cocktails with Jameson mixed into each.
    The cost of this tour was 24$ each and came with the tastings and free drink, again purchased with Trip Advisor.
    Time to explore the rest of Dublin, one of our favorite things to do everywhere, when we travel is to get lost the streets!!  This is where you find the heart of a city, where the locals go or interesting things you can’t find any other way!
    Next on our list was… Celtic Nights!! We booked a traditional Celtic dance and dinner show, which I was extremely exited about! I have always wanted to see a live performance. It was a very good show where you could partake in singing Irish songs and experience the Irish dance. Took about two hours and the cost for the dinner and show was 40€. The food was also very good, we got to choose from a couple first courses as well as a main course. You could also order drinks throughout the entire show 😉 Located at the Arlington hotel right by the O’Connell Bridge and Liffey River.

    Monday morning rolled around and it was time to pack up our things and grab one last meal before we headed out… sad day, yes. We ended up going to the Goose on the Loose. It definitely hit the spot with some tasty coffee and American pancakes and eggs.

    Then we explored around and stopped into a couple of cafes for … more coffees and a few drinks before it was time to load up on the bus and head home.
    We were sad when thinking that our trip was so quick and now over. Dublin was definitely worth the trip (one of my favorites) and we can’t wait to hopefully some day come back to this beautiful city and country side where everything really is as green and they say it is and where the butter really is as yellow and good as they say it is!
    Quick travel tip**
    Bus pass from Dublin airport to your destination – when you walk out of the terminal make sure to find the bus information stand where you can purchase a bus transfer to and from the airport.  
    • We used the Airlink Express 747/757 bus and the cost was 12€ for a trip to and from the city center of Dublin =worth it.
    • We got off on the college green/temple bar stop.  Once we hopped off it was only a 5 minute walk to the Barnacles hostel where we stayed or the famous Temple bar.

    Post Cards! Who doesn’t love a good post card with the actual location stamp on the card!?

    I

    img_7929really enjoy sending a postcard to my family just to share my travels with them. 🙂

    • Anytime you are visiting a new country or attraction and you find some postcards, grab them and at the check out ask for some international stamps and if they have a mailbox around the area. This is a good way to get the local stamp on your cards as well!
    • Send one to yourself and you have a super neat memory/souvenir!

    Girl & Boy meet… Cancun, MEXICO!

    Find all the travel ins and outs for Cancun, Playa Del Carmen and even Cozumel as you read through our adventures in Mexico.

    Round up that passport, take off work, pack your bags!! ..oh wait did you buy the tickets??! We are taking off for Cancun, Mexico!

    MEXICO …This was one of my all time FAVORITE vacations, it was jam packed with so many activities that made for a very memorable experience. It was a VERY last minute trip, but sometimes this are the best!  We quickly packed our things and then relized we should probably actually buy those tickets we were talking about! We had decided to go and started packing without having actual tickets yet!!  DON’T do what we did.. but it was a thrill!

    We landed in Cozumel, Mexico where as soon as we stepped off the plane you could smell the salty ocean and relaxation in the air.  We got a ride to our resort, Secrets Aura Cozumel, it was an ADULTS ONLY resort #WINNING.  Our plan was to stay here a couple of nights and then move on to Playa Del Carmen, which was only a ferry ride away.

    About the Secrets Aura Cozumel Resort

    This was a great location on the beach and it was an Adult Only Resort which made it a lot calmer and a little more romantic, which is what we were wanting. They had 3 great main pools and also had a lazy river around one of the pools.

    The drinks were great, and the ceviche was very delicious as well.  They had 4 restaurants, a buffet venue, a grill and a cafe.  They also had 24 hour room service so you could dine at any time you liked!

    The first night we got to know the resort and found the restaurants that were there, of course since i’m all about the food!  We got some drinks and headed for the beach.  There was a dock that went out into the ocean, where you could dive off and swim around.  We hung out here until the sunset.  A beautiful end to the beginning of an amazing trip.

    After our nights were finished at Cozumel we headed over to Playa Del Carmen and stayed at the Occidental Allegro Playacar which was on the Playacar Beach.IMG_2106

    As far as a good location for activities, we felt that our next hotel was a far better choice and was geared more towards our “active” sides.

    About the Allegro Playacar Resort

    Ideal location in Play Del Carmen – They gave scuba lessons in the pool and offered excursions as well – had 2 super clean pools and swim up bars – 3 restaurants (had to make reservations) – daily snacks by the pool – delicious fresh fruit drinks that could be enjoyed poolside!

    This resort was so helpful with booking our tours, we just went to the same guy everyday and discussed what we wanted to do the next day or plan out several days in advance.

    We went to the front desk and decided to book a few adventures! Below are the trips that we booked. Also with a few other recommendations, for your own trip to Mexico.

    WHAT TO SEE AND WHAT TO DO?

    **TIP** Go to the front desk of your resort and look at all of the things to do in your location, the people will either help you book something or you can book it on your own, but it gives you great ideas for your trip!

    1. Swim with whale sharks & Isla Mujeres Island
      1. This cost us around $120 per person and included getting picked up and transferred to the location in Cancun where the boat meets to pick up all of the Whale Shark swimmers.
      1. Wait WHAT is a WHALE SHARK?!…okay so they are not as scary as they sound, a Whale shark is a slow moving, plankton eating, don’t forget largest, fish in the sea!  They are comparable to the size of a yellow school bus! They are sometimes called a Gentle Giant and that they really are! We STRONGLY recommend swimming with the Whale Sharks if you are up for an adventure.
      1. After we swam with the Whale Sharks they took us to another Island, Isla Mujeres.  This is THE place that dreams are made.  The water is clear blue, the sand is super fine and the trees give you the best shade ever.  We were allowed to eat lunch on the island, which was a choice of fish and some wine – perfect after being in the sea all morning.
      1. **Things to bring with you** Swimwear, hat, beach towel, sunglasses, biodegradable sunscreen, extra money and you can also bring your own go pro.  Make sure to bring a bag to store all your thins in, because you do leave it on the boat while you are out swimming. It was very safe and secure on the boat too.
    2. Jolly Rodgers pirate ship & Dinner
      1. This is a dinner and a show.  It was an awesome show that was spoken in both Spanish and English.  They were interactive with the guests and got everyone involved.  You went underneath on the boat and ate dinner then when you came up they began the evening show, all the while the boat is cruising around on the ocean.
    3. Tulum island and the Mayan Ruins – with boat ride to front of the cliffs and snorkeling from the boat (great view of the island)
      1. This was another tour that we purchased at the front desk, it came with travel to the Ruins but we were on our own on the way back if we wanted to leave earlier/later.  We chose to stay on the island and had some food and drinks at a little shack.  They had FRESH Coconut, Fish Tacos and also some really neat wooden swings where you could just put your feet in the sand and RELAX.
      1. Highly recommend to hang out on the beach here, you can find transportation back. They had small little vans that they would “pack” with people, it cost us around 5 pesos to get a ride.
        1. Make sure to check out the hand made items on the walk into the ruins area, there will be some vendors set up all along the way and they do have some pretty neat gifts/souvenirs.
        1. This is also where we found the boat tour for the front of the walls of Tulum.  They were just standing out in front with a small box like desk, yes it looks a little sketch, but go and talk with them, they are happy to help.
      1. Cost to get in the Ruins 35-40 Pesos each, also it is VERY hot at the ruins – prepare for long lines and make sure to bring sunscreen, hats and even swim suits!
      1. Cost of the boat tour around the front walls of the Mayan Ruins 60 pesos each – we booked this when we arrived at Tulum, there are stalls out at the front that are very helpful.
    4. Dinner OFF of the Resort – at an Italian restaurant which was referred to us and we were taken by a local!IMG_2115 2.jpg
      1. Cenacolo – traditional Italian Restaurant with homemade pastas and dishes served out of cheese wheels.  Fresh and delicious fish plates, we had a crab cake started, soooo good!  Here is the address, Cenacolo / 5ta Av. (28) / 77710 Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, just in case you want to try.
    5. Explore the Night life in downtown Cancun La Vaquita – is a club in the downtown area, and was super packed.  We had shown up kinda early so there were some spaces up stairs and could order a few drinks to have a good night on the town.
      1. Coco Bongo – another packed bar, but has GREAT entertainment with many impersonators such as Michael Jackson, Elvis, and Tina Turner.
      1. La Bodeguita del Medio – We found this really neat Cuban Bar that had live Cuban music playing and had some of the best Mojitos.  YUM!
    6. Xel Ha –  All inclusive water park 
      1. Xel-Há provides one of the best experiences in the heart of the Riviera Maya. At this All Inclusive Park you can enjoy snorkeling, water activites, restaurants and the best scenery to admire while you relax in a hammock or stroll the nooks and crannies of Xel-Há
      1. We again purchased thought our front desk, the cost was a little expensive ~$110 per person which got us the All inclusive pass and the transportation to the water park.
      1. All you can eat and drink
      1. Swim with dolphins (costs extra)
      1. Float the lazy river and stop to experience a few cliff jumps
      1. Zip line across the waters
      1. Scuba dive to the bottom of the ocean and touch the Stingrays and also see all the fish on the bottom of the ocean floor
      1. Snorkel in the bay as long as you want and see some interesting fish, we saw a barracuda!
    7. Hang out at the resort and get a little R&R, swim in the many luxorious pools, relax on the beach in a cabana, take part in the afternoon snacks and parties and drink all of the fruit drinks.. 🙂
    8. Explore the town of Play Del Carmen – we went to the Parque Los Fundadores – Seaside park with sculptures, a kids’ playground & traditional Mayan dance performances.
      1. We roamed around and got our selves lost ( on purpose). This is were we saw the Danza de los Voladores (Dance of the Flyers) it is an ancient ritual which consists of dance and the climbing of a 30-meter pole from which four of the five participants then launch themselves tied with ropes to descend to the ground. The fifth remains on top of the pole, dancing and playing a flute and drum. According to one myth, the ritual was created to ask the gods to end a severe drought.
    9. At night there was always a show at the resort, such as dancers or singers, and they always are interactive, great for kids.
    10. If you want to have dinner in a few of the “higher end” restaurants, talk to your front desk and make sure to make a reservation if it is required.

    A few things to note – in the airport there will be people that will offer all sorts and types of travel means, but honestly we did not rent a car there because there are other means of travel around Mexico.  We used the tours that came with transfers or we used a taxi as they weren’t very expensive and yes we felt safe (they do not speak English well though).

    Also, make sure to get cash in the airport, as some of the ATM’s out of the airport do not always work.  You will need cash to pay for taxis, snacks, dinners, as credit cards aren’t the “normal” means of payment.