Cabin Fever

We have cabin fever and can’t wait to cozy up to a warm fireplace on a cold snowy night. These lovely lodges are waiting for you to take a moment to get away and recharge for the busy holiday season ahead.  From luxury to rustic, the destinations below will cure anyone’s cabin fever.

Fireside Resort – Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Fireside View

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Fairmont Le Chateau Montebello – Montebello, Quebec

Fairmont Le Chateau Montebello

Fairmont Rooms

Dunton Hot Springs – Dolores, Colorado

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Estancia Peuma Hue – Patagonia, Argentina

Estancia Peuma Hue

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San Lorenzo Mountain Lodge – Alto Adige, Italy

San Lorenzo Mountain Lodge

San Lorenzo2Photos sourced here.

Teton Springs Lodge and Spa – Victor, Idaho

Teton Springs Cabin

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Happy Travels!

Jules

Monday Mini-Series: The Holla-Days!

To kick off November right, we’re exploring our two favorite things: Holla-Days and Travel.  Gifts are nice but travel is better.  Experience, not stuff, is our motto this season and we can’t wait to explore some of these oh-so-festive destinations.

Go Cold or Go Home

Iceland

Love the cold and want to have an unforgettable experience? Then Iceland is your go-to destination. Take a chance to see the Northern Lights, hike up a glacier and maybe see some whales. Your Iceland memories will be the gift that keeps giving for years to come.

iceland2Photo source here.

Banff

One of the most beautiful natural settings in the world, Banff has it all for the outdoors enthusiast. Live like a local and join the tradition of snow skiing on Christmas day. Try a new adventure such as dogsledding or ice fishing. Banff a fun-filled white Christmas for any family.

Banff

Photo source here.

Grab Your Sunnies

Tulum, Mexico

While Los Cabos and Cancun are popular destinations, Tulum offers a quieter, more peaceful escape. This destination is full of beaches, ruins and delicious food. Add in some yoga or a traditional Mayan massage and you have a perfect relaxing holiday.

Tulum

Photo source here.

Caribbean Cruise

My family and I went on a Christmas Cruise a few years ago and it was an amazing experience. Not only do you get away from the cold weather but you truly make wonderful memories as you island hop your way across the sea. Caribbean Cruise

Photo source here.

City Slickers

Chicago

While most think of NYC for holiday travel, Chicago is the perfect way to enjoy a white Christmas in a bustling city. Let the festive lights guide you down the Magnificent Mile for some last minute shopping and holiday cheer.

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Photo source here.

Vienna

Bundle up and visit a 700-year-old Christmas Market located just in front of Vienna’s Town Hall. From traditional holiday food to handcrafted gifts, this city will give you a Christmas experience you’ll never forget.

Vienna-Christmas-Market

Photo source here.

Happy Travels!

Jules

Halloween Across the Globe

This weekend, there will be costumes, candy and celebrations all across the globe.  Take a look at some of the different ways – and places – one can celebrate All Hallows’ Eve.

halloween_pumpkins-1Photo source here.

UNITED STATES

A now commercialized holiday, Halloween in the U.S. is a celebratory affair for both children and adults. From parties to trick-or-treating, this holiday is celebrated by most to the point of elaborate costumes and sugar overdoses.

Trick or treaters on the porchPhoto source here.

halloween-candyPhoto source here.

IRELAND

In Ireland, celebrations for Halloween include bonfires and fireworks. As for costumes, most dress up as underworld creatures, such as ghosts, goblins, zombies…you know, the scary stuff. To really celebrate in Ireland, go to Londonderry where they have a street carnival and amazing fireworks.

Bonfire IrelandPhoto source here.

Ireland FireworksPhoto source here.

PHILIPPINES

Traditionally, All Saints Day is the holiday to celebrate in the Philippines and occurs on the first two days of November – similar to the Day of the Dead in Mexico. Their version of trick-or-treat is called pangangaluluwa and involves young people going door-to-door, dressed in white sheets, asking for money or food. Today, the rural areas still practice this tradition but most cities have adopted the Western traditions of Halloween costume parties and parades.

PhilippinesPhoto source here.

ROMANIA

On October 31st in Romania, the holiday is celebrated around the spirit of Dracula. If you’re looking for a truly memorable experience, make your way to Transylvania and party at the citadel, Sighisoara. It’s the location where Vlad the Impaler, aka Dracula, was born.

Bran CastlePhoto source here.

Festival-sighisoara RomaniaPhoto source here.

No matter where you are in the world, have a wonderful holiday celebration this weekend.

Cheers!

Jules

Dia de los Muertos

This week is the beginning of the Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) holiday in Mexico. It is a time when families and friends come together to honor a loved one who has passed away…usually at the cemetery where the person was buried.

Creepy Fact: If the person passed away a long time ago, then some people will bring up the coffin and clean the bones of the person.

Each day from October 28th until November 2nd has a specific purpose for honoring the dead.

Here is the breakdown of who to honor each day:

October 28th – Those who died in an accident.

October 29th – Those who died from violence.

October 30th – Those who died from sickness or disease.

October 31st – Those who died by suicide and are believed to go to neither Heaven nor Hell but remain in limbo for eternity.

November 1st – All children who have died (Dia de los Inocentes aka Day of the Innocents).

November 2nd – All adults who have died (Dia de los Muertos aka Day of the Dead).

Private altars are set up with the person’s favorite food and drink, along with candles and marigolds.

IMG_3914Mexican marigolds are produced in mass quantity during this time of year for the holiday. They are everywhere.

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IMG_1077The iconic La Calavera Catrina is a female skeleton dressed in a European hat and dress and has become the main symbol for the Day of the Dead. From store fronts to souvenirs, you won’t go far without seeing a Catrina during this holiday.

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La CatrinaWhether you celebrate Halloween or Dia de los Muertos, have a wonderful holiday week!

Jules

Best 6 Travel Apps

1. Viber – This app lets you text, chat or send pics for free as long as you have a Wi-Fi connection. It’s a great way to stay in touch with people at home.

Note: While most of our family and friends in the US now have Viber, the majority of people we meet internationally use WhatsApp, which works the same way. When traveling, it’s best to have both so you can stay in touch with family at home and new friends abroad.

2. Google Translate App – Whether you need to translate one word or a full page of cooking instructions, this app translates more accurately than the others I’ve tried. Not 100% word for word but close enough. Plus, it has audio to pronounce the translation for you, which helps significantly when speaking with locals.

3. Trip It – This is the perfect way to organize all your travel times, confirmation numbers and documents. Everything is in one place, so you can easily find the information you need while on the go.

4. Word Lens – Love this app! Download the app and then download the language of the country you plan to visit. Once on your trip, hold your phone over any sign, menu, etc. and it translates the words right in front of you. Its magic. No Wi-Fi needed either. Coolest app ever.

5. XE Currency Exchange – This is probably the most practical app on my phone, as it helps convert any currency to USD so I always know what I’m spending.

6. Instagram – I love Instagram because it’s a fast, easy way to share travel experiences with family and friends at home with one simple photo. It also makes it easy to share on other social media sites at the same time, so you can get back to your trip quickly…to take more photos, of course.

Happy Travels!

Jules

Hot Air Balloons and Pyramids

To continue our Monday Mini-Series of Mexico City, lets talk hot air balloons and pyramids.  I’m sure pyramids aren’t the first things that come to mind when thinking of Mexico City but they are, in fact, one of the top attractions in this area.  Add a hot air balloon ride over said pyramids and you have yourself a pretty amazing experience.

Brief History

Teotihuacan is an archeological site northeast of Mexico City. Its the home of two Mesoamerican pyramids, the Pyramid of the Sun and the Pyramid of the Moon.  In Aztec, Teotihuacan means, “place where gods were born.”

The city was built around 100 BC and thrived until about 550 AD. During it’s prime, it’s said to have had somewhere around 150,000 residents, making it the largest city in pre-Columbian Americas and the sixth largest city in the world.

The Experience

We started our day at 5:30am for the hot air balloon ride.  There are several sites where you can book a tour, though, Fly Volare is the company that provides the balloons and pilots for everyone.

It was still dark when we arrived.  Our guide told us the first balloon is typically a scout balloon, sharing fog and wind details with the other pilots.

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Our balloon is the colorful one on the right.

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Up, Up and Away

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It was quite foggy, which made for a limited view of the pyramids…but that was okay because our pilot took us above the fog and that view was incredible!

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After our amazing hot air balloon ride, we made our way to the pyramids.  We took a brief tour with our guide to learn the history of the area.  There are several places around the site where you can see the original paint and designs on the walls.

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Next up was the Pyramid of the Moon.  Due to it’s current condition, you can only climb halfway to the top.

Since the pyramid is located at the end of the “Avenue of the Dead,” you can see the entire archeological site, including the Pyramid of the Sun on the left.

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Walking along the Avenue of the Dead, we made our way to the Pyramid of the Sun, which is the third largest pyramid in the world. Once you climb the 248 steps to the top, the view is worth the effort.  You can see in the photo below, that it’s much taller than the Pyramid of the Moon.

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If you make your way to Mexico City anytime soon, don’t miss this incredible experience of hot air balloons and pyramids.

Happy Travels!

Jules

 

Be a Good Market Negotiator

Happy Friday Peeps!

This past Monday, I posted about some FAB markets to visit in Mexico City. For those markets, as well as most others around the world, negotiating prices of products is common practice.

With that said, it’s not common in the US, so most Americans are not always comfortable bargaining with shop owners…especially when the products are often already inexpensive in US dollars.

Here are 3 tips to help you negotiate when souvenir shopping at a market.

Tip 1: Do Your Research

Before you leave for your trip, take some time to see what handcrafts and products are well known in the region you’re planning to visit. Knowing what’s considered valuable in that country will help you discern which products to buy as well as the quality of those products.

IMG_3311Photo: Talavera (type of ceramic) from Puebla, Mexico.

Tip 2: The Calculator

When I travel, I always carry a small, cheap calculator with me. While I know you have one on your fancy smart phone, the market isn’t a place to whip out said fancy phone as it could attract unwanted attention. Stick to the ole five-dollar calculator for markets and tourist attractions. Safety first people.

The calculator is your best bargaining tool to help communicate with someone who may not speak your language. It’s also an easy way to bargain by percentage, as most sellers are willing to give at least a 10 to 15 percent discount on a product.

Additionally, in a foreign country, this helpful tool can be used for other things, such as negotiating taxi fares or figuring out the exchange rate on the go.

Calculators

Tip 3: Be Prepared to Buy…or Walk Away

The best bargaining chip you have is to be willing to walk away. If you seem too interested, then you will end up paying top dollar for your souvenir. You must be willing to walk away from the item to convince the seller that a lower profit is better than no profit.

With that said, if you take the time to negotiate with a seller and they offer a fair price, be willing to actually purchase the product. The goal is not to get the souvenir for nothing but to get a fair price for a product that you can enjoy for years to come.

IMG_3303Photo: Handcrafts from market in Mexico City, Mexico.

Happy bargaining!

Jules