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tourism

Travel
Mar del Plata: An Argentinean Beach Town Getaway
April 23, 2010 at 9:27 am 0


beach town!
While in Argentina the size and activity in Buenos Aires can be a bit much. So why not take a weekend off and go to the renowned beach town Mar del Plata? A short four hour drive outside of Buenos Aires, you can rent a car, take the bus, or hop on the train to get here. Once you arrive the first thing you want to do is head to the beach! The rocky shore, grassy slopes and soft sand all combine to make a beautiful beach landscape. In Mar del Plata the beaches are all well maintained, and extremely popular, so if you go in peak season prepare to be packed in the sand with 2 million of your closest friends! It will be busy, but it's worth it - the views are gorgeous, the vibe is cool, and the setup of the area will remind you of beach towns of yesteryear with a gorgeous boardwalk that spans from one side of town to the other.

the walrus on the boardwalk
If you want a more exclusive beach experience you can always go to the private beaches a bit further south. Nikki beach is just by the lighthouse and offers a great beach, parking, and a fancier beach experience. Whichever beach you chose keep in mind this is the Atlantic Ocean, and you're pretty far south, so it's pretty chilly all year round - even in the hot period of January/February. Look what happened when we went in the water!

it's freezing!
After strolling on the beach for a few hours it's time to grab a bit. If you are going to a waterfront restaurant bring your patience along because the queue to get in will be long, and service will take forever! Some of the Mar del Plata institutions include Manolo's (an Argentinean take on the American diner) and Torreon (a coffee shop designed to look like a monastery). Keep in mind that Argentinean's eat lightly during the day, and have a large dinner at night, so the lunch options will be on the lighter side.

torrean
After lunch it's time to head downtown and see the city sights and have an afternoon cafe. When downtown Boston Confectionary is a great coffee shop, and the medialunes (half moon pastries that are like croissants but sweeter) are out of this world! After your coffee stop stroll around the pedestrian streets, enjoy the parks, and take your time just strolling around and taking in the local culture. Keep in mind that any touristy areas, like the pedestrian streets, are hotspots for pick pocketing and purse snatching, so keep your possessions close to you. After some light shopping downtown it's time to head over to the hotel for an afternoon nap. Our top pick is the Sheraton hotel; it's clean, new, the service is excellent and it's a bit removed from the party central downtown. You also have excellent views from pretty much every room and breakfast in the charming La Pampa restaurant is included in the nights stay. The hotel is close to the golf course, and also close to the cool night spots on Alen Street.

the sheraton
After a long afternoon nap it's tea time. Some light sandwiches a warm drink and lots of water will have you refreshed and ready for evening. When it's time to head out on the town for dinner - typically around 930pm there are great barbecue offerings, or pasta from La Trattoria. When dining make sure you take in the great night sights of the city. There are many beautiful places to watch the city go by, so make sure you enjoy! Looking for a little night-time activity? Alen Street is a great pick for bars, cafes, ice cream shops, and watching live music. If you are tempted to go to the casino think again. It's a dark, dirty and depressing place to spend some time, and with smoking inside and no ventilation it's hard to see the poker tables through the smoky plumes of the players. Mar del Plata is a great place to visit, and one of the most charming towns/cities in Argentina. Known as the Vegas of Argentina it's a bit of a party town, but the natural beauty of the area make it a great place for families and pretty much everyone enjoy!
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Travel
A Different Kind Of Touring
March 4, 2010 at 12:25 pm 0
While we are in Mexico for our destination wedding we are lucky enough to have many Spanish speaking friends with us, and very lucky that they are willing to put together some tours for us. These are not your get on the big tourbus with the guy making bad jokes selling you expensive and crappy beer kind of tours. These are the kind of tours where you hire all your own things, like bus, driver, food, drinks etc...and get them to take you where you want to go and completely on your schedule. I'm thrilled we were still able to tour, and see all the great things the Mayan Riviera has to offer, but we don't have to get herded here and there, have people trying to sell us time shares, and spend a set amount of time at every place with zero flexibility. Hello freedom, this is a great and different kind of touring.
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Travel
Weekend Warrior: Washingon D.C.
August 24, 2009 at 5:22 pm 2
Recently I went on a weekend trip to Washington, DC. It was my first trip to this part of the country and I went with my boyfriend and his parents to celebrate his nephews 3rd birthday party. Luckily for me we stayed at a lovely hotel downtown. I was excited to get a chance to do touristy stuff but also, since it was the first time I was meeting his brother and his family it seemed a little strange to sleep in their house. We arrived in Washington on Saturday morning and after we checked into our hotel we did some touring around. We went to the White House, the Reflecting Pools and War Memorials, and the city streets around our hotel. On Saturday evening we had a big family dinner and on Sunday we had my boyfriend’s nephews 3rd birthday party. It was very cute, but very different for me too. I realized that living a very “downtown” life in the city, with mostly single friends, or at least most of my friends don’t have babies, I’d never been to a birthday party with all families. I think I was the only woman at the party without a child! It was interesting to see how all the kids different personalities worked and all the families interacted very differently. It was so cute to spot the very curious little personalities looking at everything, putting their fingers in places they don’t belong, chasing the bubbles from the bubble maker and smearing cake icing all over their little faces! On Monday morning we woke up late and did a bit more touring around, this time to Capital Hill and the train station. The train station was fascinating for me. It was so beautiful and had such great design inspiration inside. It’s one of the few train stations I’ve seen in North America that is spotlessly clean and has facilities for tourists and travellers, but also restaurants and cafes for locals. I really enjoyed Washington, DC. It is a beautiful city and I’m excited to go back already. I’m hoping to go back in the Spring, and see the famous fruit tree blossoms – so fresh and beautiful…and everywhere!
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Travel
Florence: Italian Dream Part One
July 16, 2009 at 9:15 am 5
Recently I went on an eleven day whirlwind trip through central Italy with my boyfriend. We had tossed the idea of going to Italy around, but like so many things you chat about them, and then you get lost in daily life….until I found an amazing seat sale. I was able to book the flights from Toronto to Florence return for $577 per person ($500 US)….amazing! So with tickets in hand we constructed a brief travel plan and then adapted it as we went along. To make my trip diary a bit more digestible I'm going to post from each city for the next few days. First, let's start with... Florence We landed in Florence in the morning, and spent the entire first day walking around the inner city. I was jet lagged and running on fumes so I kept on drinking double espressos thinking it would perk me up….it didn’t work that well, but luckily I didn’t get too jittery. Florence as a city didn’t wow me, it was totally over-run with tourists (7 tourists for ever resident!!) and I didn’t really feel like I was in Italy since I couldn’t find any Italians outside of people that worked the tourist industry. We spent two days in the city, and I felt exhausted from walking all day and dodging the throbs of people. The best place to visit was the Uffizi museum. It is a very cool building and the art is outstanding. It’s a place that you could go into every day for a week straight and still be wowed. We were able to reserve our tickets through the receptionist at the hotel, so we avoided the mile long line-up outside. Thank heavens! There’s nothing like going on vacation only to wait outside in the burning sun to see fun stuff – no thanks! The most memorable thing about Florence was the restaurant we went to on the last night, Castello di Sabbia(they don't have a website, but here's a map with reviews ) . The restaurant specializes in fish and truffles and you won’t be disappointed. It’s owned by two guys, one of them a former police officer who speaks English and is very friendly. To get to the restaurant you need to take a taxi, which the owner will reimburse you for – a very nice perk indeed! The drive up is great, because you get to see where the actual Italians are, and it really sets the tone for the evening. After you’ve traveled for twenty minutes via taxi you find yourself in this beautiful cabana style building perched atop a hill with a view of the nearby area, and once you eat the food you will FALL IN LOVE. We had an antipasto appetizer, a pasta course and then a steak with truffles that was absolutely perfect. I still dream about it. We actually went back on the final night of our trip, and the host greeted us like we were returning friends. It was the perfect send off. Stay tuned: I'll blog about Tuscany next...and that truly was a dream... For more Italian travel journals read posts on Tuscany and Rome
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