Adventures in Italy – Rome Day 1

Hello, can you hear me? I’ve been so terrible with blogging. Don’t get me wrong, I am still running, and I still love oversharing, but just haven’t been able to gather my thoughts into what I felt was worth a post. None the less, I decided, too bad, and share anyways.

Norwegian Airlines had a killer deal $480 RT from Boston to London and while I LOVE London, lived there for a study abroad, and visited countless times, I decided it was a great gateway to Europe. Plus, after our trip to Seattle, I’ve been drooling over flying on a new Boeing Dreamliner jet. Yes, it was awesome no frillz fun.

Upon a quick in and out of London, we took our EasyJet flight to Rome and to our new home for the next few days.

Rome is the capital of Italy and although it’s not a classic high rise city, it is sprawled out with amazing culture and history! Also, I’m kinda of a ruins addict and these have long last been on my to see list.

After passing out, we got up bright and early, because here’s one tip about visiting Italy that I didn’t know. Book shit in advance, like weeks in advance, especially if you’re traveling May- September. I’ve always traveled in October/November which has soo many perks I appreciate a ton more now (aside from less sunlight boo).

Anyways, the bright and early wake up was because I wanted to go check out Borghese Gallery but completely slacked on booking an advance ticket. They were sold out, but I had this idea that maybe they have will call and I can beg my way in. Nope… these people run a tight shop, no reservations, no entry, so GTFO. Don’t worry though, you’re always welcome in the gift shop. The FOMO in me panicked, but then I realized, I’m spending 8 days in Italy with a trip to Florence included. Plenty of time for me to see naked dudes and duddettes and all the Venuses and Madonnas.

Instead we walked around  the park that surrounds the gallery. I don’t recall what to call it and google map seems to not want to give it a name, but it was a cute what I would call typical city park. You got your runners, your Rollerbladers and your couples making out.

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My brother, working on his OKCupid photos

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Best kinda art, is the free kind if you are me. No need for reservations.

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If you walk south-west of through the park, you slowly bump into Italy’s number one unwanted attraction. Hawkers selling selfie sticks. I guess I haven’t traveled internationally in a while, but it’s all the rage these days. Besides the annoying hawkers, you have a killer view of Piazza del Popolo! It was early as I mentioned so the plaza was scarce of the natural tourist animal that tends to frolic here.

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These sculptures were pretty cool at the end of Via Del Corso, the main luxe shopping stroll of Rome.

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We decided to by pass the Dolce and Gabanna for the side street strolls instead. It was around noon now and the tourist animals have come in packs known as tour groups.

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The Spanish steps were under constructions so no glorious photos there. Yes Rome is full of history. You know what else it’s full off, scaffolding! But actually we were extremely lucky, because as I heard, there was a bit less than in the past this May.

Yes, another FOMO moment, but the Trevi Fountain made up a bit for it. It is beautiful and aside from an tourist lady climbing over a barrier in between me and my brother taking a photo, it was mesmerizing to watch.

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We continued the walks. Honestly, every streets ends in a piazza, so just get lost.

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As you walk around, you might notice these closed off city blocks. This one in particularly is Largo di Torre Argentina. 400-300 BC. My favorite part? It’s also a cat sanctuary! A certain emperor who cried et tu brute was murdered here. #trustnobitches

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Rome is hot…. shade can sometimes be a scarce unlike water, plenty of water with Rome’s cool fountains. So prepare to squint a lot, or bring a hat!

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My brother, Tony’s mom, Tony’s sister, ME, Tony while Tony’s dad takes the photos.

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With all the heat and son, Rome’s churches truly end up being a blessing. Plus they’re kinda cool to look at. But it’s a sweet refuge for some cooled shade.

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After recollecting our energy, it was time for our tourist attraction of the day. The Rome Forum, Ancient Rome’s White House and Washington D.C. Ruins.

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You ticket to the Colosseum, also gives you access to the Forum and Palestine hill, and while you get a pretty good view from above for FREE, if you’re already paying for one, wandering through this mess is still worth an hour of your time. Like everything else, get your ticket in advance, or be ready to queue for a while in the bright Roman sun.

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If I had to describe Italy in one word, I would say confusing. If there’s one industry they want to strongly sustain, it must be the large organized tour groups because there is absolutely no signs in Italian, English or Latin in any attraction we’ve gone. I used the free Steve Rick’s guide and that’s me trying to figure out which stack of old columns he’s talking up.

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If you have a specific thirst to know everything you’re looking at, I say invest into a great guidebook because even as I was overhearing some local guides, it kinda sounded to me like each one made up their own story.

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As for me, my main interest was to stump around and pretend I’m in the land before Christianity.

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No matter what ruins you go, which country you are in, the heads are always missing. Where do they go? Are they in the same alternate reality that one of my socks always leaves to when I do laundry?

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Rome is known for its seven hills, and Palentine Hill as the hills queen of the other 6. There’s something empowering about looking down onto a city, plus the view of the Colosseum isn’t too shabby. I don’t know if not many tourists make it up the hill, or if it was because we went around later afternoon, but it was a refuge from the usual tour group insanity that is Rome. No one even offered us to sell us a selfie stick here.

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I guess models we are not

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and my brother eventually found his new best friend.

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For the evening, we went for a stroll on the other side of the river over to Trastevere, which is pretty much the expat hipster mecca of Rome. A former working class neighborhood with the typical gentrification struggle. It’s relatively peaceful during the day, but similar to us, everyone got the memo that this is the hood to stay for dinner, and it was packed with Tourists.

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With some TripAdvisor guidance, we found Grazia & Graziella. Judging from the appearance of all five of the waiters,  I’d guess that one of the hiring requirements is a properly kept beard. There’s usually a long wait, but we went fairly early (7pm is early to Italians looking for dinner) and only waited about 20 minutes. The host graciously kept refilling our glass with welcome Prosecco.

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I promise, this was a lot tastier than it looks. Mmmmm… rocket with smoked salmon!

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Before we knew it, we were stuffed, and ready for some ZZZzzzz.

24 hours in Dubai – What to do on your layover

Okay so to be fair, my layover was not 24 hours, it was only 19 hours and I spent about 7-8 hours of those sleeping after a 14 hour flight. And of course, like any major cosmopolitan city,  you really need more than 24 hours to truly experience the city, but if you find yourself in the case of a layover with some time to kill, well I have some suggestions.

Dubai is kinda the city of excess… tallest building in the world?  check, 7 star hotel? check. Underwater hotels? Sure. Indoor skiing rings and private beaches built on the man made Palm Islands (literally islands built with beaches to look like palms trees from the sky. If you got money, it’s probably a good place to spend  it. VIP service is available everywhere.

If you don’t, or at least not to the same degree (hey some of us need to spread our pennies through the next 2 weeks and not just two days), well there’s still plenty to enjoy.

The first leg of trip from Boston to Bangkok was a bit around 14 hours with very little sleep on the plane. Our layover was in Dubai so we decided to do some sightseeing and catch up on some sleep that was not in  sitting up form.

The first place we went was the Dubai mall and to see Burj Khalifa, the current tallest building in the world!

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We didn’t go to the top, because quite frankly, I find the views from the top in packed observation decks to just not be my thing but it was neat to see this tall tower.I couldn’t  fit the full tower into a frame, but we tried a bit.

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It is near the mall, while this is not the famed mall with the indoor ski slope, there is a fountain show that happens at night (and where I got no photos whatsoever).

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Also inside the mall is the third largest aquarium (by tank size) in the world.  While you do have to pay to walk through this tube thing, you can still view the general tank for free in the mall.

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It’s not as cool as scuba diving, but it’s a still is bringing some awareness to how cool marine life is (I hope).  I do wish they had more information about how overfishing is pretty much killing any future marine life.

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Baby sharks!!! soooo cute.

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And catfish just because I really love cats of any whiskers!

After some much needed sleep, we decided to get up and out to explore Dubai. We started with Bastakiya quarter which at 10AM was a bit empty compared to crowded European towns. If I had to do it again, I would come here in the evening as it’s near the waterfront and probably looks really cool lit up.

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Across the waterway for the extravagant price of about 30 centers, you can take a water taxi to see the historical Souks of Dubai. Actually, this was probably my favorite part of my Dubai visit.

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I love the merchant boats!

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Souks are basically little district market place with a mix of indoor and outdoor vendors. Yes before giant malls, these were the real markets of Dubai the built it to be the commerce city it is now. Although now mostly packed with tourists and hawkers, it was fun to see the partially covered alleyways and goods on display.

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We started with the textile souks as they began to open up.Dubai 051

Moved up to the spice souk

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How many can you name?

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And finally ended at the gold souk where each of those shops is selling the yellow bling.

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Does this gold make my butt look big??

Before we knew it, it was time to catch the second leg of our flight to head off to the airport!

Some tips

  1. Public transit is pretty easy, but if you’re in a hurry, they have Uber and it was fairly cheap. However, traffic is pretty terrible, so review your water taxi/train options as available.
  2. It’s hot and the city probably is more active in the evenings than during the mornings
  3. If you’re very into dining, do some research, we winged it and had some disappointing results, but I have heard that food in Dubai is great.
  4. If you’re going to see the show at Dubai fountain, don’t wait for the last show, because it might not happen!
  5. Relax, enjoy and window shop!

Visiting Iguazu falls – one of the seven wonders of the world

okay so maybe the seven wonders of the world varies by the writer and opinion, but there’s no denying that Iguazu falls is definitely up there as one of the best natural wonders of the world! I was trying to read more about what caused this natural wonder, but all I could really get is something about a volcano eruption about 200,000 years ago. So I guess you can say they’re 200,000 years young!

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Iguazu Falls aka Iguassu Falls or Iguaçu Falls, are waterfalls of the Iguazu River located on the border of Argentina and Brazil. There is 19 major waterfalls, with 5 of them on the Brazil side and the  rest in Argentina.  My whole experience  is limited to Argentina’s side.

I would have loved to have visited the Brazil side because although most of the waterfalls are in Argentina, the panoramic view is supposedly better from the Brazil side since some of the islands like San Martin break it up for us on the Argentina side. There  is also a bird Sanctuary in Brazil, but the boat ride (more on this later) is on the Argentine side.

To get to Brazil’s side, U.S. citizens need a Visa. Aside for that fact that said Visa costs 160USD per person, it also takes time to get one, or even if you can expedite (which there are rumors that you may or may not depending on your luck within 48 hours), the consulate is not open on weekends.  So with all the hassle required, we decided to keep our tourist spending on the Argentine side only.

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To  be honest, my pictures just cannot do justice to the natural wonder. Maybe its my crap photo taking skills, or all the drops my phone had on its head, or maybe its just the constant mist in the air. Either way, this will be one experience for the memory that just could not be accurately captured.

The waterfall system consists of 275 falls along 2.7 kilometers (1.67 miles) of the Iguazu River

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There are literally waterfalls everywhere you go!

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Iguazu currently has the greatest average annual flow of any waterfall in the world. The water falling over Iguazu in peak flow has a surface area of about 40 Ha (1.3 million ft²) whilst Victoria in peak flow has a surface area of over 55 ha (1.8 million ft²) and Niagara has a surface area of under 18.3 ha (600,000 ft²). It’s quite crushing!

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These falls like others are  always receding. About 3mm (.1  in) per year. The powering of rushing water. I did read that the water only a few decades ago was completely clear, but now you will notice a brown sediment residue due to all the logging and destruction of forests that unsettles the ground, causes muggy water and destroys the rest of the ecosystem since the fish/animals cannot find what they need. Yes, millions of years of evolution cannot fight against the impact of humans =/.

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Some of the individual falls are up to 82 meters (269 ft) in height, though the majority are about 64 metres (210 ft).

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It is home to many animals (birds, cats, coati). We saw a few toucans which were cool and more coati (basically raccoons) than I wanted.

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Getting around the waterfalls was super easy. There were a series of 3 balcony circuits ranging around a mile give or take. The “circuits” for the most part were in a continuous stream where you enter on one end and exit on the other so although the paths are narrow  and there’s many people, for the most part the path is always moving.

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One of the main excursions is the boat ride into the falls.  There’s a few options, a long option that costs (560 Argentine Pesos 37-56 USD depending on your official versus blue exchange rate) and a short option that costs 350 pesos (23-35usd). Both options end up going on the two sides of the falls around San Martin Island and you get completely soaked. You can’t see much because of all the water and mist, but it’s a fun experience.  The longer tour takes a boat road through a bit of the river. We ended up opting for the short ride so we could spend the rest of the time walking around the park versus being a on a pretty packed  boat, but I would recommend either of the options.

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It is recommended to bring a dry set of clothes (they give you dry bags to protect your belongings on the boat), but me and Tony forgot about it and just air dryed ourselves out. It was about 85 degrees so we weren’t really cold.

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After the boat ride and covering most of the park, we were pretty hungry. If you’re smart, you would pack plenty of water and a small lunch as the food is more than a bit overpriced in the park (like all national parks). In the parks there’s a restaurant (I think buffet style) and if you go to the information desk in the entrance they give you a coupon that drops the price from 260 to like 180 pesos or something of that nature, plus 10% of drinks. There’s also a bunch of areas with fast food stands such as Subway sandwiches (they really are more spread than McDonalds these days),  individual pizza things and more Alfajores.

Within the National Park is also a Sheraton hotel. If you want to treat yourself it’s about $300 USD plus taxes a night and you get to spend the night in the national park. We were cheap and did not and opted for a $60 USD AirBnb apartment all to ourselves in town. But not being a guest in the hotel doesn’t stop you from enjoying a nice (by nice I mean okay enough) lunch with some wine and a view of the falls on a sunny patio.

I don’t know what the hotel sprays but the coati (raccoons) did not come up to the cafe.  They’re pretty aggressive in the park as they’ve become accustomed to tourists feeding them and finding all sorts of treasures in the park trash.  What we did see was some cool lizards (iguanas?) and plenty of birds flying over us. And also, besides wine, they have  some good lemonade.

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After lunch we went to  go see the main attraction of the park, Garganta del Diablo. The Devil’s throat, which I learned as I traveled through Argentina is a common name for many natural sights! To get there you can walk a dirt path of about 3-4KM or take a train that travels at the speed of 5KM per hour. We opted the train.

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In the morning the lines to the train were super long, but by the time we went there, things calmed down a bit. The train was still full, but not overfilled like the morning.

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Garganta del Diablo is a U-shaped, 82-meter-high (269 ft) , 150-meter-wide and 700-meter-long (490 by 2,300 feet) cataract, marking the border between Argentina and Brazil. Two thirds of the falls are within Argentine territory.

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Before I came there, I didn’t expect the view from the top of the falls to be that impressive. I prefer peripheral versus immediate views. But the sheer volume of water flowing right in front of you was almost overwhelming.

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Despite my hesitation of saving this stop for last, it was definitely one of my favorites in the park.
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After leaving the park and we went back to our AirBnb to rest up a bit before dinner. For dinner we went to Aqva in Puerto Iguazu, the town we were staying in. Although no reservations, we were able to get seated within 10 minutes. Tony got the  lomo (steak) and I ordered dorando fish dish with some ice cream for dessert. Everything was excellent.

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A few final tips and maybe tricks for Iguazu National Park (Argentina)

Please note all prices unless notes are in Argentine Pesos and are probably only applicable to October 2015.

  • Exchange money on the blue rate – This is probably only really related to Argentina and the craziness of the currency economy. The official rate is 1USD for 9.3 Argentine pesos, the blue rate that day was 15.8 pesos for 1 USD.   I did my exchange rate in Buenos Aires, but  I’m sure if you walk around the town Puerto Iguazu, you can find something in between. The restaurant we ate at was doing 1 USD for 14 pesos.
  • Bring Water – true for anywhere, but water in the park was 35 pesos for a little bottle. You got through it quickly so bring some with you from a store in town which it should be around 15 pesos (or less).
  • Bring Flip flops – If you plan on taking the boat ride, bring a pair of flipflops even you plan on wearing tennis shoes for the rest of the park. You cannot get into the boat with bare feet and your shoes like the rest of you will get soaked. I guess  you can put them in the drybag once on the boat.
  • Start early – Certain trails like Macuco trail closes early (3pmish). This 7K roundtrip goes through a less explored part of the part so your odds of seeing animals are higher. We did not do this trail in the interest of time and getting too caught up in searching for the boat ride. The train to Devil’s throat closes a little after 4pm even though the park closes at 6PM.
  • The train to Devil’s throat is packed 9:30 AM through 1pmish – I heard wait was around 1-2 hours at times. The train runs every 30 minutes and we had no wait around 3:30 in the afternoon.
  • There really isn’t much else to do in the area – Once you see the Brazil side and Argentine side, there isn’t much else as the trails outside the national parks are limited. Each country takes a day (I guess you could do both if you are really aggressive). Since we only have Argentina’s side we were finished in one day. There’s some missionary ruins or something, but if you’re short on time, you can probably skip (but cannot really comment from experience).
  • Transportation to the Falls – There’s a bus that goes from Puerto Iguazu  to the falls and I think its 100 pesos round or maybe one way, or maybe it’s less.  Either way the price varies depending on inflation so this was what it was October 2015. We couldn’t figure out the bus in the morning and with limited Spanish took a taxi to get to the park. I think we also missed the bus so the next one was 30 minutes away. Our cab from the town to the park was 130 pesos (about 9USD). We tried to get a cab back from the falls to the town, but this time the cabs were charging 260 pesos so we took the bus back to town for 100 pesos (50 per person).
  • Validate your ticket – Not sure if you’re coming through to the park a second day? Validate the ticket at the cashbox at the end of the day anyways. Don’t cost nothing and if you return you pay 50% off. Yes, the park charges you on a per day entrance fee (260 pesos for U.S. residents in oct 2015).
  • It’s pricey but total worth it for the one day I did – We spent 350 USD on flights per person round trip (about 30USD per person to change our Sunday flight from evening to morning). About 20USD each way for taxi from airport to town, from town to airport. Food for a nice meal was pretty inexpensive with drinks. We spent about 40USD for total for a dinner with steak, fish and  cocktails.

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Have you ever been? Got any other great inside tips and tricks?

Getting Lost in Cementerio de la Recoleta

Cemetery tourism? Yea, I’m guilty of it,  from the catacombs in Paris to the graveyards of New Orleans, it definitely makes it to the top of my sightseeing list. That’s why I was super excited that La Recoleta Cemetery was only a 20 minute walk away from my current flat in Buenos Aires.

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The cemetary opened in November 1822 and now contains contains 4691 vaults, all above ground, of which 94 have been declared National Historical Monuments by the Argentine government and are protected by the state

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Here lie, Argentine’s rich and powerful. The exclusive cemetery is the last stop for the country’s most celebrated (and controversial) presidents, intellectuals, army generals and entertainers.

recoleta cemetery 1One of the most famous visits is Eva Peron (Evita). Although, I have to confess her tomb compared to the others is rather unimpressive on its own.  Three years after former First Lady Perón died of cancer in 1952, her body was removed by the Argentine military in the wake of a coup that deposed her husband, President Juan Perón. The body then went on a transatlantic odyssey for nearly twenty years before finally being returned to the Duarte family mausoleum in Recoleta Cemetery. She now lies in a crypt five meters underground, heavily fortified to ensure that no one can disturb the remains of Argentina’s most beloved and controversial First Lady.
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The other famous grave (that I am not posting a photo of because with the position of the sun looked like crap) is Sarmiento. He is the only one that i saw arrows pointed to his tombstone which made it easier to find. Sarmiento is remembered for promoting education for Argentine children and women, and democracy for Latin America. Sarmiento  designed his ostentatious tomb himself before his death.

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The tours in english are available on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 11AM, but since I will be at work, I just had to make up my own stories  as I wandered along.
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By the time I was hungry and ready to leave, my iphone steps app told me I stepped out 5 miles and still didn’t feel like I saw everything. A second trip might be called in later!

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If you’re into graveyard ruins porn, there is no shortage as many of the crypts have some damage to them despite the locks.

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It is easy to get lost, but if you keep track of the main path in the middle, you can always find your way to the exit.

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By the time I was ton, I have hundreds photos that I did my best to limit!

This one below was my favorite. Twenty-six-year-old Liliana Crociati de Szaszak was killed by an avalanche in Austria. Her tomb was designed by her mother in the Neo-Gothic style, in decided contrast to the other tombs in the cemetery. A life-size green bronze statue of Liliana in her wedding dress sits adjacent to her tomb. Following the death of Liliana’s beloved dog Sabú, a bronze statue of the dog was added, with Liliana’s hand resting on the dog’s head. If I was rich and famous, I would totally have my cats in stone with me.

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Speaking of cats, if you walk around the cemetery, you might notice these cute and friendly fur friends. The kitty colony is taken care of by this widow, but that she is extremely private and didn’t want any publicity. They are being taken care of, fed daily and all are spayed and neutered. Not sure what will happen after the widow passes away, but for the now, the cats are taken care off, despite cat adoption not yet being very popular in Argentina. There’s a documentary in the works about these cats and I want to take one home with me. After all, Jack needs a brother.

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Final Tips

  • Cemetery is free to enter
  • It looks small, but the paths are tight and there is much to see. I recommend comfortable shoes
  • English tours are available at 11AM on Tuesdays and Thursday. There’s Italian tours on Wednesday and I think Spanish tours more regularly.
  • If you get hungry, there’s a juice bar I loved about a 10 minute walk away  from the tourist starbucks and hard rock cafe. Be Juice also does sandwiches, salads and everything tasty.

Travel Foods – Premier Protein Costco Promotion & Giveaway

This post is sponsored by Premier Protein. All opinions as always are for better or worse my own. 

Hola los chicos!

How’s it going? I’ve been off the grid a bit beyond Instagram (are we friends on it yet? Why  not!).

Winter isn’t coming to me yet, so I went to find winter instead. While traveling, glaciers don’t generally come stacked with a buffet. Luckily, I’ve been well stacked with a good satisfying snack.

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Active adults should consume almost 30 grams of protein a meal so Premier Protein 30 gram bars make a perfect complement when you are out and about with not really a place or time for a healthy real food lunch. They are have protein shakes (vanilla one is the best) and traditional protein  powder,  but I find the bars the easiest to travel with.

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The Premier Protein 30 gram bars are inexpensive for the protein they have and can be purchased in most places, including amazon. The Premier Protein’s 30g bar variety pack will be available in Costco stores nationwide throughout the month of September.

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Additionally, if you love extra savings, Costco will be offering $5.00 off the retail price of the 30g variety pack from September 3rd through September 27th. Each variety pack will include a combination of Premier Protein Chocolate Peanut Butter and Dark Chocolate Mint 30g bars. Each gluten free bar is packed with 30g of protein, is a good source of fiber (3g) and a good source of calcium.

And if the savings from Costco just aren’t enough. Enter my giveaway below! Ways to enter are shown below. (Sorry, but open to U.S. only).

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I will not be running Buenos Aires Marathon

Wait, what? When did that even come up?

Well about mid-summer, I found out I had a chance to work in Buenos Aires on a coaching rotation for work (it’s my tax job related  so if you want to know more, let’s chat!) for 8 weeks.

Coincidentally, it was also around the time Buenos Aires marathon is happening.

That would be amazing, so I kept the hope of being able to run in the back of my mind.

But in case you haven’t noticed, because you’re new to my crazy world of running, or maybe cause I haven’t been whining enough but yea… I broke down.

Yup, and after Wisconsin Marathon I have pretty much stopped running besides 30 minutes here and there at a slower than normal pace for me (10 min miles versus 7:30s/8s I normally did).

I am getting better. My plantar fascia is under control and aside from running I am pretty functional. That being said, I am only up to 6 miles runs and they don’t really feel magically easy.

I  know sometimes it might seem that I have a natural talent for running.

Secret…  I really don’t.

Taking four months off and then trying to run… feels like I am starting from couch to 5K. It’s hard, and kinda uncomfortable. Weird things get sore that never got sore before. I get tired and frustrated that things don’t feel as easy as they once did. It actually kinda sucks and I don’t know if me and running get along now as well as we did. We just have to rebuild our friendship over time I guess like we did before. I did it in 2011/2012 and i can do it again.

Furthermore, the  number  one cause of injuries is a history of injuries. I guess I can now say I have an injury history. Yay go me.

Anyways, I would like to stay on my road to being able to run distance at some point in the future and running this marathon is just not worth my high risk, regardless of the fact that I won’t know if I’ll ever have a chance to return to Argentina again. Sometimes, the extra bling that’s a notch on the belt, will have to be let go.

Marathons seems like they were just an easy thing to do half a year earlier, but I’m starting to understand more than normal people that call them hard. They kinda are =(.

Luckily, aside from running, I love traveling! Tony will be coming to visit me that week and I decided that instead of being depressed about not running and jealous. I’m sorry, I’m a scorpio, when I see people doing what i love, or used to do, I get jealous! I’m happy for them, but I’m miserable for myself. So instead we’re going to Mendoza!

Yes, if you can’t run marathons, why not do a wine drinking marathon instead?

So here is my question of the day, or month since that seems to be as often as I post lately?

Have you ever been to in Argentina:

  1. Mendoza

  2. iguazu falls

  3. El Calafate

  4. El Chalten

  5. Ushuaia

  6. Buenos Aires

Tell  me things! I am excited! II am working on convincing myself that, life goes on beyond running. I will keep seeing the world and who knows, maybe soon enough it’ll be through  my running shoes again.

Less than 24 hours in Unesco World Heritage Site – Historic District of Old Québec

Like an avid traveler and professional wanderluster, visiting Unesco world heritage sites is always a gem. They almost never fail to disappoint.  Québec City is about 7 hours north of Boston and yet in the past 12 years that I called this city my home, I have never ventured up to my Canadian neighbors in Quebec City. Sure Montreal had more than enough shares of my appearance, I even ran the marathon there, but never dared to venture further to the French Canadian east. Luckily, I rectified this mistake one weekend!

On an impulse last second decision, we decided to give up our last night in Montreal in hopes of something new versus the tried and true.  With a few clicks of what seemed like a bright idea, Hotwire got us a modestly priced hotel in an area that looks like it was close enough to things for our day of adventure.

The 2.5 hour drive from Montreal to Québec City isn’t the most exciting. For the most part its flat, country road and as far as i can tell, not much in between. Needless to say that when you arrive at 10PM on a Sunday night, the city looked desolate. As we roamed from one place  to another place on Rue Saint Joseph, we got the same answer. Kitchen is closed… Luckily, there was one  place known for it’s late night food and decent enough drinks. Le Bureau de Poste was like a gastropub lodge that turned into a dive bar offering pretty much anything you  can imagine for food for the low price of 4.95CAD.

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Our bellies quieted down and sleep came way to easily. Monday morning we got up relatively  early and went through to tourist duty.

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Quebec City served as the fortress capital of New France. Much of it’s old city wall and military history seems to be preserved in great shape, earning it a place on the highly coveted UNESCO listing.  These days, it serves more as the administrative capital than anything else for Province Quebec.

But first things first. You can’t be exploring on  an empty stomach. You just can’t because  I said so. Whether  you’re in Paris, or just French Canada, the first order of business was to find a croissant, because hard as we try, American’s just can’t seem to make great croissants that don’t taste like they were made a month ago and frozen.

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We stumbled into Paiillard where the urge to order everything off the menu and the Gelato was a bit of a struggle to surpass. I think end up walking out with a few more things than I should have, because they didn’t survive too well sitting in a 90 degree car all day. Ooops.

And now it was time for the sights… While I briefly looked at a few things to do and see, I strongly believe that the best type of sightseeing is to just get lost!

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The old city walls were renovated into this really cool park trail. Not much shade, but gives you a nice 360 view of most things around you, leaving to no question as to why this was a military capital.

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Through out the whole city, there were all types of cannons around.

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The cliff over looks the Saint Laurent River and Laurentian Mountains and by midday, a corner of it was filled with entertainers trying to earn their pennies.

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We continued wandering around and walked into the Notre Dame Cathedral. It was a nice Cathedral, but not anything special on it’s own.

We wandered into Quartier Petit-Champlain with it’s galleries and cute shops

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I’m a huge fan of hilly cities. I love going up and down the rollers to uncover new views. Quebec City also had quite the collection of these building murals. I read somewhere that there’s a good amount around town. Check out Murale  Creation for more!

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the court yard area of Place Royale was a little empty for how peaceful it was. Maybe on a cooler evening day, this place get’s more packed.

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You can pay $2CAD to take this railway rides up, or you can use your good old legs and do some stairs.

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Rue du Petit-Champlain is the ultimate people watching spot.

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We cozied up to Le Lapin Saute  for some lunch, sangria and people watching.

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Tony and I shared this two way duck salad (smoked duck and duck confit)  . I was still feeling a little too full from eating every pastry in the morning, but I wanted to still try everything more.

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Further down the street there is is no shortage of sculpture art to make you contemplate.

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And this mural that I thought was pretty cool combined with the church.

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We made our way down the castle city steps (we took the long road down versus the steps we found to more quickly get us back up). Marche Du Vieux Port is a little bit bigger than it looks, but definitely not too happening on a Monday. Although they had some cute jewelry vendors, some limited produce, plenty of options for olive oils and jams  and such.

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We came back from the market in a mad rush to get back to the car. somewhere between here, and there, we did find something called 300 steps to Escalier Casse. Like a said before, free workout mixed into sightseeing!
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Le Chateau Frontenac is one of the famous sights in Quebec, but it’s now a Fairmont hotel. So while I’m sure the accommodations are more than lovely, they were not available to the view of the public.

Quebec City (5)It would have been nice to have another half day to explore a little further. There was still plenty more that we could have seen, but for trip, 3/4ths of a day will have to be enough.

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And yes, i did return for some gelato for the road.