22 Things I Learned in Mexico (from an American perspective)

image1. It’s good to know what pesos converts to dollars before spending money or being charged multiple fees for each atm transaction.

2. Tip. Everyone. (Good to always have smaller change in order to do so!)

3. Mexican citizens are genuinely friendly, helpful and nice.

4. The police won’t harass you unless you are breaking laws. And they don’t set up traps for you to fall in like in the U.S. The city checkpoints may be intimidating where they walk around with automatic weapons, but they are just protecting the people (and tourists) within the cities.

5. On that note, they are kind and appreciative of tourists. Tourists drive their economy and supply them with over a million jobs. They are thankful for visitors spending their money and try not to scare them away.

6. The beaches are absolutely beautiful.

7. There is so much to do in Mexico, but our favorite experiences were going beyond the tourist-resort attractions and traveling outside the city limits to see true Mayan culture.

8. Never underestimate the power of the sun! Sunscreen at least once an hour. The spray kind.

9. Small tour groups are the way to go as it gives a much more personalized experience.

10. Tulum is amazing for a small, Eco-friendly beach town that still caters to visitors yet doesn’t feel like some over crowded tourist town.

11. No, I was never worried about being kidnapped by any drug cartels. I felt safe 100% of the time.

12. Driving in Mexico is totally fine.

13. If you’re sleeping with the door/windows open, make sure you have a mosquito net so you don’t get attacked by bugs while you sleep.

14. Keep the door closed when you leave the room to prevent unwanted lizards from crawling on your leg while you lay in bed.

15. Octopus is actually pretty amazing. Especially as a ceviche. With a refreshing margarita.

16. Keep the immigration form they give you when you arrive in Mexico, it’s needed to travel back home or else they charge for a replacement.

17. Splurge one night and have dinner on the beach at a fancy restaurant, totally worth it.

18. Mexicans kind of run on their own time, a Mexican minute = who knows how long. There really is no quantitative amount of time.

19. Carry-on an extra outfit, your swimsuit and sandals incase there is a storm in the city you must make your transfer in and the airlines lose your checked luggage.

20. Or just book a direct flight!

21. It truly feels like paradise. Bungalow on the beach is the best way to go in my opinion.

22. Loved every moment. Already planning our return ūüėä

15 Things I Learned While Visiting Amsterdam

1. People are tall. Like, really tall.

2. There is no concept of personal space.

Line for the Anne Frank House

Line for the Anne Frank House

3. The city isn’t awake and functioning until 10am.

10915256_10204470344493116_1441037691157306882_n

Empty streets.

4. Bikes have the right-of-way over pedestrians, and even cars. And they’re just as fast as cars.

Bike parking garage.

Bike parking garage.

5. They love their gouda cheese.

10906168_10204470333932852_7857845952452729928_n

6. A friendly guy helping you with directions may just be a homeless man wanting money for his street knowledge.

10891643_10204470347373188_4045115237620776598_n

7. The city smells of fresh baked bread and weed.

10430450_10204470345933152_5291025032681780668_n

8. You can drink in public, just not in certain areas like the Red Light District, where it’s legal to shop for sex.

red-light-district-the-netherlands-247257_800_600

9. Coffee shops = where people go to get high. For that matter, why don’t they just call them cannabis stores? Because it’s not legal, just decriminalized. A little backwards.

photo-2949-05-05-07-11-49-39

10. Almost everyone speaks English, but nobody is speaking it.

1907929_10204470336172908_5599433613585776785_n

11. Stroopwafles are amazing and served everywhere. (like mini-waffles with the syrup already caramelized into them).

goudenaarstroopwafels1

12. They are serious about their clogs.

10422056_10204470332652820_5705784289351831228_n

13. Places give free donuts and apple fritters on NYE as part of Dutch tradition.

10176229_10204470331692796_3314445180234890899_n

Oliebollen

14. Don’t even go shopping; you can’t afford it.

1159874533_6395c54c99_b

15. After this trip, I can definitely say I appreciate the Dutch things in life a little bit more.

10387333_10204470331212784_7257014123949876963_n

10896953_10204470343733097_7565186201319978866_n 10906357_10204470346733172_6764583993292114135_n

First Ever Overnight Camping Trip in the Colorado Mountains

For this week, instead of living like a tourist, I experienced local life by doing what¬†Coloradans like to do on the weekends: go camping. I went with the boyfriend as we were celebrating our official one year of being together. He surprised me on the location and¬†campground – all I knew was we were going camping and I was going to need bug spray. I have never ventured into the Colorado mountains for this type of undertaking before and I was excited to see just how adventurous and rugged I could get. We brought along my Labrador, Owen, because I was told he is looking “pudgy” so I thought lake swimming and hiking would do him some good.

After driving for 2 hours and ending up at a location you can only get to by using latitude and longitude coordinates, we arrived at a charming campground west of Leadville called May Queen Campground. It was right on Turquoise Lake and had really pretty scenic views. Our campsite was walk-in, so we parked in the parking lot and then hiked up the hill to our spot.

IMG_20140727_144006IMAG0603

IMAG0578

Continue reading

Touring the Broncos Stadium

The idea for today’s adventure came from a friend who mentioned the Sports Authority Field at Mile High¬†stadium gives tours to the public. I thought that is something different! Football is America’s favorite sport and there is always so much excitement here in Denver when the Broncos are playing. Having never been able to afford to go to a Broncos game, I figured the next best way to see this 14 year old stadium is through a guided tour. The Sports Authority stadium caters to other sporting events as well, such as the lacrosse team, occasional college football games, and most recently the Guinness International Champions Cup (soccer). I learned all sorts of interesting things about this stadium; some¬†I think¬†a devoted fan may not even know about.

Image courtesy of Sportsauthorityfieldatmilehigh.com

The first one: have you ever noticed the stadium is in the shape of a horseshoe? I didn’t!¬†If you look at this picture, you can also see the older Mile High stadium before they tore it down in 2001. The new stadium allows for more space, but oddly enough there are the same amount of seats (about 76,000). They included more restaurants, bathrooms, and club level suites and they also wanted the seats to be as close to the field as possible.

The tour starts out in the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame. There were a lot of interesting things in here, but I didn’t get much time to look around because the tour was starting. The tour started out with a chock-full of information about the history of the stadium. I learned it cost $400 million to build, which $300 million of it was¬†paid for by the metro Denver area taxpayers. You’re welcome, Broncos!

IMAG0495

Inside the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame


Continue reading

The Denver Art Museum: Not Just for Art Aficionados

Lately I have been feeling¬†in need of some cultural inspiration so I asked Ok Google, “What is the most popular museum in Denver?” Google told me it is¬†the¬†Denver Museum of Nature and Science, rightfully so, but I¬†have already been there twice¬†this year so I decided to go with the second most popular choice: The Denver Art Museum. Yikes. Art. Sounds like a snoozefest! But I figured it has to be the second most popular museum for a reason, so to Downtown Denver I went.

IMAG0433

The building outside alone had¬†my curiosity sparked. There were interesting sculptures, a bridge that connected two large buildings, and the¬†architecture was unique as it was¬†designed to resemble “geometric rock crystals”.

IMAG0428 IMAG0430
Continue reading

Daytrip to Boulder: Wine Tasting, Burgers, and Frozen Custard

It is widely known that Colorado is a mecca for breweries, and I admit that some of the best beers I’ve ever tasted are within the Rocky Mountain region. But what about wineries? We don’t hear much about them. Well winos are in luck because believe it or not, there are some great wineries here in Colorado. The grapes get shipped over to the Denver metro area¬†on a refrigerated truck from Palisades (also the “Peach Capital of Colorado”), which is on the west side of the state neighboring¬†Utah and grows 85 – 95% of Colorado’s grapes.

After failed attempts to try and get my boyfriend to come with me to a museum, he suggested something more fun and involving alcohol. We’ve heard of Colorado wineries nearby so we decided to give them a try. Boulder itself is such a charismatic town; I could write a whole post on it’s uniqueness alone. If you’ve never spent a day there, I highly suggest you immerse yourself in what what I’ll just call the “Boulder culture”.

I grew up in Northern California¬†where there are more grapevines than trees¬†so wine comes second to water for us. I tried not to hold my snobby taste for sophisticated California wine against the Colorado wineries, but let’s be honest, they really don’t compare. However, I was pleasantly surprised with the simplicity of wines I tasted today and they were still delightful. I also tried something I’ve never had before called mulled wine; it was delicious! But more on that later.

First stop on our list was at a wine tasting room for Boulder Creek Winery.

IMAG0384
Continue reading

Hiking Lily Pad Lake

I was excited for this weekend because I had a friend¬†visiting me from out of town and I thought it was the perfect opportunity to take a scenic hike and¬†see some wonderful parts of Colorado. I decided on Lily Pad Lake because someone¬†recommended it and said it was an easy hike with beautiful views. It is located in the city of Silverthorne and took about an hour and 15 minutes to get there. Silverthorne itself is a popular destination for outlet mall shopping so I hope to go¬†back there one day and check all that out. When we got to the trailhead, I was surprised to see that even for a weekend day, it wasn’t that crowded. I also saw a lot of families, so that gave me the confidence that if a little kid could do it, I could do it too! We also brought my Lab, Owen, because what is a hiking adventure without his entertaining antics?

IMAG0298IMAG0305
Continue reading