The Museu de Arte Antiga offers an incredible view of Cristo Rei and the April 25th Bridge
This is a work in progress since we just arrived. Come back soon to see what other cool things Antonio and I have found to do in this neighborhood.
This is one of many repeat visits to Lisbon, Portugal. Since Antonio and I had already stayed in Castelo, Principe Real, Amoreiras and Alfama; we figured this time we'd try out a different neighborhood. Since we liked Mercado Da Ribeira so much, we decided we'd stay nearby and chose Santos-o-Velho. There are tons of things to do in the Santos neighborhood, but you need to understand it before you decide what to do here.
Imagine sipping on an ice cold Sagres while checking out this view
We read somewhere that Santos was a party neighborhood, but I can tell you that it is not anything like Bairro Alto (I would not recommend staying there unless you plan to party all night and sleep all day). Santos is a true Lisboeta neighborhood. I am pretty sure we are the only tourists on the block. Yes, there are lots of restaurants and things to do, but this neighborhood still feels Portuguese. I think the misconception comes in because IADE, the institute of Visual Arts, Marketing and Desing is located, so people assume that students nearby mean a party. And, yes there are bars, but this is not where the rowdy, loud and obnoxious tourists come to be drunk off cheap liquor all day. This is where you find a nice wine bar, grab some petiscos and walk home with your loved one walking hand in hand.
Santos is also one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city. It's actually called Santos-O-Velho (Santos, the old). It's officially a micro neighborhood since it was absorbed by Estrela, and often confused with Lapa. There are some gorgeous churches, narrow streets, cobblestoned hills and museums.
This is one of many statues you can enjoy at the garden of the Art Museum in Lisbon
Lisbon's Museum of Ancient Art is one of the things to do in the Santos neighborhood you should not miss. I went twice because I underestimated their collection. It took me 5 hours to enjoy the museum (for most people I would recommend 2 hours - I went to school for art history, so I'm kind of an oddball). When you walk into the museum, take the elevator up to the top level. This is their Portuguese collection of fine arts. What I really loved was how the curators explained the influences of other countries on Portuguese art and vice versa. The second floor is decorative arts, and the first floor is European art. When I visited they had a special exhibit of the art that is usually in storage. Kudos to the team there for this fantastic expo.
One downer - no audio guide - which IMHO every museum should offer.
One perk - free wifi.
The museum also has a GORGEOUS garden where you can enjoy a very affordable lunch. It overlooks the 25th of April bridge and Cristo-Rei.
Where to Eat Near Museu de Arte Antiga
For eating in the immediate area (if you don't want to eat at the Museum), check out Le Chat (incredible views - right next to the museum) as well as Picanha (about a block away).
The Museu de Arte Antiga is Located at: R. das Janelas Verdes, 1249-017 Lisboa, Portugal
Hours of Operation: Tue-Sun 10AM–6PM, Monday Closed
The puppet museum in Lisbon's Santos neighborhood is super cute and fun
This is one of those quirky fun museums you will love. It is homed in what used to be the Convent of Bernardas so the building in itself is gorgeous. The museum is totally dedicated to puppets and marionettes, their history, and ends the focus on Portuguese artistry. They do have marionettes from all over the world. Unlike the Museum of Ancient Art, this one does offer an audio guide (in English) which is included in your cost.
The Museu da Marioneta is Located at: Rua da Esperança 146, 1200-660 Lisboa, Portugal
Hours of Operation: Tue-Sun 10AM–1PM, 2–6PM, Monday Closed
While not the grandest, the Church of Santos-o-Velho is rich in history. The church sits on the burial site of three people; São Veríssimo, Santa Máxima, Santa Júlia who were killed by the Romans in 308 when Diocletian was in power. The story says that when they died their remains were left out so dogs and birds would eat them...but their bodies remained untouched. The original structure was destroyed, and the current structure came up in 1147 by Dom Afonso Henriques. The church was updated in the 17th Century by architect João Antunes. It is he who brought in the frontispiece which covers the original Medieval facade. He also added the towers that are seen from outside. I found out that the church and the convent were sold to the French state...the reason why the convent (Palacio do Santos) now houses the French Embassy. When you go to the church, check out the tomb of the Abrantes damily and the tomb of the child martyrs.
Convento dos Marianos
What is now the York House was the Convento dos Marianos which was founded by Barefoot Carmelite Ambrósio Mariano in 1581. The site was chosen because of the martyrs mentioned above. The convent, dedicated to Nossa Senhora dos Remédios, was built with money that came directly from Philip the 1st. The convent did well until 1830 when a law enacted by Joaquim António de Aguiar who enacted a law to close any houses of religious orders. This earned him the nick name "Mata-Frades", the Friar killer. The building was abandoned and repurposed in the second half of the 1800's until it became the studio of Gaspar José Marques, an inventor.
Founded in 1836, they now recreate tiles from photographs. It's a fantastic place to visit to bring a souvenir home. Here they make tiles in 3 different ways: the mark (paper with open design), silkscreen, and hand painted. A quick note, don't buy antique tiles on the street or flea markets. Unscrupulous sellers will rip them off of houses, so only purchase tiles from shops like this one where they make replicas.
Ceramica Constancia is located at 8 Calcada Santo Domingo 1200, Lisbon Portugal
Quiosque Xafarix is a great place to enjoy a drink outside in the Santos neighborhood in Portugal
This cute kiosk is located right at the border of the neighborhood adjacent to the Fountain of Hope (which is gorgeous). It's been open since 1986 and they often have live music at night. Stop by any time of day for a tasty inexpensive beer, snacks, and when there are futbol games, you can catch them there. It's a chill spot and a way to do as the locals do.
Quiosque Xafaiz is located at: Avenida D. Carlos I, Madragoa, Lisboa
Hours of Operation: Wed-Sat 11pm - 4am
Jardim De Sao Bento
The Jardim de Sao Bento is a great park "in" Santos to grab a beer and do as the locals do
Ok, this is officially outside of Santos, but if you cross the street you're back in the neighborhood, so I decided to include it. This little park is gorgeous. While it is not a Miradouro, it does enjoy a great kiosk (Quiosque de Sao Bento) where you can enjoy a beer and a really good burger. There's also wifi, so on a nice day you can grab a seat and get some work done. It's right next to the Assembly of the republic and is home to Leopoldo de Almeida's sculpture called Familia. This is a great place for both people with families, kids as well as people just looking to grab a drink. This is the place to stop being a tourist and do as the locals do.
The Jardin de Sao Bento is Located at: Rua das Francesinhas - Santos-o-Velho, 1200-675 Lisboa, Portugal
Hours of Operation: Open all day, the Quiosk is open Mon-Thu 10AM–7:30PM, Fri 10AM–10PM, Sat 12–10PM and Sun 12–7:30PM
Basilica Da Estrela
Basilica da Estrela is one of the grandest churches in Lisbon and has an incredible manger
It is said that Queen Maria I had the church built as a deal she made with God. She wanted to have a male child who could become king. In exchange for this favor, she would build the most beautiful church that ever was. The neoclassical church project was undertaken by architects Mateus Vicente de Oliveira and Reinaldo Manuel in the Baroque style with a Latin cross plan and a single nave. The façade's main features are its triangular pediment and bell towers. If you visit now, look towards the altar. Queen Maria is buried in the massive marble crypt. Look to your right. See that tiny sliver of space? Sneak in there and go through the doors behind the crypt. There is an incredible manger scene there. Mangers are a Portuguese tradition - when you go to the Museu de Arte Antiga, you will see some gorgeous examples. It will cost you 1.5o to check out the manger and they have tons of information on the church and the manger in all different languages.
Basilica Da Estrela is located at Praça da Estrela, Lisbon, Portugal
Hours: 8:45AM-8PM daily
Getting there: Tram 25 or 28
Jardim Da Estrela in Lisbon was built in the style of an English Garden of the early to mid 19th century
Once you're done with the Cathedral, cross the street and walk in the gate. You will be in the 19th Century romantic style Jardim da Estrela. The 5 hectare park features two kiosks where you can grab a drink and some light food, as well as another that is for books. It is incredibly well designed and has plenty of spots you can get lost in. As you walk you will see the wrought iron gazebo and imagine live music emanating from its structure. Then you'll run into a pond where ducks and peacocks roam. Go and give yourself time to enjoy this lovely park. Then head to the English Cemetery where writer Henry Fielding is buried. This park reminds me a lot of another favorite, the park in the Principe Real neighborhood of Lisbon.
Jardim da Estrela is located at Largo da Estrela, Lisbon, Portugal
Hours: Daily 7AM-Midnight
Getting there: Tram 25 or 28
How to Get to Santos
Trams: 25, 15
Buses: 714, 727, 728
Trains: Santos or Cais do Sodré station: Take tram 15E and 18E or bus here. The neighborhood is just a 5 minute walk from here.
For those of you who didn't know it, this tech entrepreneur studied Art History (yeah, the same major that President Obama smacked down when talking about skills in America). This means I sat in classrooms for hours looking at pictures of Chateaux. I loved every second , and as maligned as the major is, I would do this again in a heart beat. This year, Antonio and I finally booked a trip to the Loire mostly so I could check out some castles (and drink some wine - especially Cremant de Loire).
A relief of the famed Salamander of Francis I
I started with Blois, since its namesake city was home base for that leg of our Europe 2016 trip. I am thrilled to say the visit did not disappoint. This was nothing like Versailles where one has to fight through crowds of people. The visit was comfortable, the guards vigilant but gentle and I would recommend a visit to this castle to anyone in the region. Note that this Chateau is not as grand or as ostentatious as other castles, but I loved the historical aspect of it. In my opinion, it is probably the most historically significant of the region and a must see.
Tips for Visiting the Chateau de Blois in the Loire Valley of France
Stay in Blois
With the Chateau of Blois, you also get to enjoy its city. Blois is pretty good place to stay during your Loire visit. There is a train station that takes you to many of the towns in the area with castles (pretty convenient) and is right off the highway, so if you have a car you can easily travel the region. While Blois is not a place I recommend for a long term stay (anything over a week), it is a great place if you are Chateau hopping. Even if you aren't staying in the Loire, you can take a train from Paris. It's quick and easy.
There is a charming Vieille Ville (Old Town). It's quite pretty. There are cobblestone streets, an artist's quarter, and perhaps what I liked best was the farmer's market. It takes place around the area of Place Louis XII. There is tons of local produce (which is awesome in the Loire). When you're done shopping, head over to Le Saint Lubin. That's the local pub. The oyster merchants set up shop right in front. Pick up a dozen (they are cheap and you pay by size - the bigger the more expensive - I paid 10€ for the medium size) with a bag of Crevettes grises (delicious shrimp), grab a seat at the bar, order some local wine and enjoy music. They play some great tunes, and if you are lucky, Georges Paltrie will be there with his guitar. His voice is like caramel.
Locals will often hang out on the Loire River
You can also do as the locals do and bring your findings from the market (and a bottle of wine) to the tiny stairs next to the river. Sit and enjoy the view and the various birds and animals that frequent the area.
After lunch, work off your calories with a walk up hill to the castle. The hike will take you no more than 5 minutes from the bar.
Map showing how to get from the Blois train station to the Chateau
The first thing you need is a pair of comfortable shoes. You need to walk up a very steep hill to get to the Chateau (unless you grab a taxi or Uber). The good thing about the Chateau is that it was not packed full of tourists like Versailles. It was an easy visit and quite comfortable.
Tickets & Pricing
The entrance and area to purchase tickets to the Chateau De Blois
Blois is not "cheap", but it is so worth it. You get to see not one, but four distinct architectural styles and learn lots about French history. A single adult ticket costs 10 €, kids pay 5 €, but if they are under 6 admission is free. If you don't want to pay to see the site, you can go for first Sunday of every month between December & March. I did one paid visit and one free one.
It is important to note that there is also a museum of fine art at the site. As soon as you enter the chateau, look to your right. If you go up the stairs, you will be in the museum. Entrance is included in the ticket price.
If you are going to see multiple chateaux, you may want to take advantage of the Loire Chateau Pass. Prices tend to change, so check the site for their current deal.
This square in front of the Chateau de Blois often has shows and entertainment. The Magic museum is the building at the end
January 2 to March 31st: 9am-12:30pm & 1:30pm-5:30pm
April 1 to June 30: 9am-6:30pm
July 1 to August 31: 9am-7pm
September 1 to 30: 9am-6:30pm
October 1 to November 1: 9am-6pm
November 2 to December 31: 9am-12:30pm & 1:30pm-5:30pm
Go for the Night Show
There is a gorgeous sound and light show at Blois chateau. While it is not as impressive as what we have seen in Lyon during the Fete des Lumieres or in Strasbourg for the birthday of the Cathedral, it is still lovely.
Why You Should Visit Blois Chateau
The Francis I Wing at Blois Chateau is marked by Italian influences.
I'm a bit of a history buff. Add art or architecture to it and I kinda geek out. This Chateau is the perfect combination of history and architecture. It's actually 4 Chateaux in one, a collage of French styles. There are actually four very distinct architectural styles at the castle which depict how the politics of the time affected architecture. You really see time move in this incredible building. You can learn more about the four architectural styles of Blois here.
When you are about to enter the Chateau, you will see an incredible opening. It was meant for both pedestrians and horses and is marked by (now a replica) of an equestrian statue depicting Louis XII, the Porcupine King (a lot of the original decoration was destroyed or defaced during the revolution).
You'll enter at the tiny door to the right of what used to be the main entrance. Once you're inside, you will be standing in the main courtyard. Since this castle, like the Louvre in Paris, was built at different times by different people, you will notice that it does not look as one would expect a castle to look. This is not Versailles which has a unified look. The courtyard feels regular, but it's not symmetrical. If you look (even with an untrained eye) you can even see where someone's building efforts stopped short due to a shortage of money. It's really cool how this castle tells the story of France, it's ruling class, and Blois.
This is the 13th Century Medieval fortress. This part of the castle was built by the counts of Blois starting the 10th Century. The counts of Blois had built a tower to start off, but it was expanded as time grew. Currently, there's only a tiny portion of this structure. This will be the plainest area in the complex and include the seigneurial room (the room for the Feudal lord), part of the rampart, three towers incorporated in the François I wing, and the circular Foix Tower.
Late 1400's (1498-1501) Louis XII
The Louis XII section of Chateau de Blois has touches of Italy throughout
Louis XII is responsible for this part of the chateau. He made it so the fortress became a more suitable living area. This is the area that has the entrance with the equestrian statue. The Gothic area of the building has an open arcade (a series of arches) that leads to two stairways that allow you to reach the 2nd floor (these are the ones that lead to the Fine Arts Museum. Louis did quite well in the Italian wars and was even the king of Naples for a time. It should come as no surprise that this area of the chateau has some Italian influence. Louis XII loved the Chateau de Blois.
Louis XII died in without a male heir. Francis of Angoulême became his successor.
1515-1520 Francois I & Queen Claude
Check out the mixing of architectural styles at Blois
This is my favorite of all the styles of the chateau de Blois. This is some serious Renaissance vibe here all thanks to Francois I. The crown jewel of this area of the Chateau is the spiral stair case. It has gorgeous buttresses, tons of windows and openings. You can't miss it. This staircase is no longer protective and built to hide its denizens. The staircase pushes out demanding that you look at it. Visitors would climb up the stairs proudly, since this meant they were privy to the court. These stairs are a stage, the visitors are the actors. How cool is that! The staircase may have been inspired by those of the Palazzo Contarini in Venice.
The facade (you see this from outside the castle) was inspired by none other than Bramante (the architect of the Vatican). Just imagine what it must have felt like being in Francois' court and having a conversation while overlooking the city from these lodges.
You can see Francois I's salamander throughout Blois as well as his motto "Nutrisco et extinguo"
Francois I's wife Queen Claude was the one who is truly responsible for this site. She was the one who convinced Francois to move the court there. You can see her symbol, the ermine throughout the structure. Sadly, after she passed in 1524, Francois left the Chateau.
Also very cool is that when you walk through the Francois I interior, there are pieces from the original chateau that have now been replaced, so you get to see the details of roofs, reliefs and gargoyles up close. Blois castle suffered a lot during the revolution. A lot of the original decoration was destroyed. Stones were removed from the facade and they stand a testimony of what can happen when politics affects art and architecture. You can see some of these details at the castle.
1635-38 Gaston of Orleans
The Facade of The Gaston of Orleans Wing by Mansard
Louis XIII's brother, Gaston, Duke of Orleans was the last to have a hand in the Chateau.He chose this Chateau because it was close to Orleans and because it had a history of royalty with which he wished to be affiliated. He commissioned none other than Francois Mansard (one of my all time favorite architects) to create the new wing. This wing is the one that faces you when you enter the chateau complex. Gaston felt that the Francois I wing (the one with the super cool staircase) was old and dated. He did irreparable damage when he demolished a part of the wing. Lucky for us, he ran out of money and was not able to finish. This part of the castle is the most like Versailles. It focuses on symmetry. It has columns, pilasters, capitals and pediments that are elements of classic Greek architecture.
Things Not to Miss in the Chateau de Blois
The Portrait of Tognina Gonsalvus
There is quite an interesting painting in the chateau. This young lady was afflicted with hypertrichosis (or as it is crudely known, werewolf syndrome). The portrait shows her in a loving way, not as a freak, but as a respected member of society.
The Secret Chambers of Catherine de Medici
The panels that lead to Catherine De Medici's secret chambers
Marie de Medici was another notable resident of Blois, although not by choice. She was married to Henry VI with whom she had a son, Louis XIII. While her husband was alive, she stayed out of politics. But when he was murdered in 1610, she changed her stance and became an active regent. When Louis turned 16, he decided to get rid of mom. He started by removing her council and exiled her to Blois where there is a room with beautiful wood panels. These panels contain secret niches where lore said she kept poison. Most likely, she kept other things than poison, but this is still something that is really cool to see.
You won't miss it once you go inside, but make sure you go up the staircase. It's an incredible experience.
There is an incredible look out by the chapel. You can get a gorgeous view of the entire city from here.
Where to Eat Near the Chateau De Blois
Unlike most other places that I have been to in France, I was not blown away by the food in Blois. I had my best meals at the Saturday market, but there were a few restaurants that stood out. The first two are within walking distance of the chateau. The last, you'll need to take a taxi or Uber to.
L'Orangerie Du Chateau
Check out L'Orangerie du Chateau for a fantastic deal (when you consider how good the food is).
Just a word of warning. This is a Michelin starred restaurant, so it is pricy. But it is absolutely wonderful and they offer a pretty good lunch deal at 39 €. It's the Menu de Confiance which gets you three courses. This place is worth the splurge. Just make sure you're wearing a reasonable nice outfit. No jeans, shorts, or sneakers.
Osaka is a solid Asian fusion restaurant with really cheap prices - reservations are a must
While it ain't pretty, this place is cheap and it is good. Make a reservation because if you don't you may not get in. The food is a mix of Japanese and Vietnamese. The Pho is as good as you'll get in this area of France and the formulas are quite generous. For example, their Japanese menu is just 8.80€ and comes with a soup, veggies, and rice AND four skewers AND beef with melted cheese.
Les Banquettes Rouges
For a good traditional French meal, check out Les Banquettes Rouges
This was a perfect place if you're looking for a fairly priced Loire style restaurant. It's tiny, quaint, and the service and food are great. Menus start at 17.5€.
Grab a Jambon Beurre and a drink for a cheap and tasty meal near Blois Chateau
Not so far from the chateau and a great place to pick up a Jambon Beurre and some sweets. They also make a sausage bread that is to die for and they have takeaway lunch specials. This place is highly recommended.
Assa offers a great lunch deal
This one is not within walking distance (I walked there - but I love to walk). It has one Michelin star, but still has issues to work out service wise. The food was lovely. If you need to choose between Orangerie and here, choose Orangerie. If you have already visited Orangerie, Assa is a good alternative. They offer 7 menus, starting at 36 € for 2 courses.
Have you ever wondered what a Norwegian breakfast is like? I did too...that was until I had the pleasure of visiting Hyde Park to check out all the creations from aspiring chefs at the CIA, and meeting Troy Franke. Troy is the ultimate Norwegian ambassador and an incredible Airbnb host. If you plan to visit the area, make sure to check him out before booking a hotel. He is the ultimate host with a gorgeous property (and he knows how to feed you right). I barely wanted to leave.
What is a Norwegian Breakfast Like
This breakfast is worth getting up early...and it's worth savoring (since it takes about an hour to enjoy). A Norwegian breakfast is not heavy or fat laden like we're used to here in the states. There's no fried eggs, no bacon, no sweet syrupy pancakes. Imagine yourself in an abundance of cereals, yogurts, fruits, nuts, and best of all - FISH!!!
First Course in a Norwegian Breakfast
Our beautiful Norwegian Breakfast started with Yogurt and fresh fruits from the garden
Troy started us off with a gorgeous yogurt, grain and fruit mix. There were two types of yogurt: filmjölk (a more liquidy runny yogurt), and skyr (a more typical solid type of yogurt). To this yogurt one added salted almonds, oats, and steel cut oats. We topped this mix with many types of berries including blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, and pine berries (all from Troy's garden). My tongue was happy and my brain was feeling good for eating so healthy.
Second Course in a Norwegian Breakfast
Our Norwegian breakfast included a crispbread called knäckebröd with toppings like fish and caviar
It was time for some open faced sandwiches. There were multiple types of crackers in a basket. Troy instructed us to grab a knäckebröd (a sea salt, dill, poppy and sesame crispbread). To this we added a slice of cheese, his home cured salmon (gravlax), a slice of cucumber, tomato, a dash of sea salt, and caviar (because why not). This was delicious. Salty and fresh, crispy and soft makes for a perfect combination.
delicious shrimp cheese, white cheese, and Swedish creamed roe can be added to bread for an open faced sandwich
The next open faced sandwich consisted of a piece of bread, and top it with a white fish salad, a smoked salmon salad, and smoked trout. You can also use traditional spreads on both the cracker and bread. He had a shrimp cheese, a white cheese, a Swedish creamed roe, or tubed caviar. If you love seafood, you can also top them off with a pickled herring - yummy!
Second Course (Part 2)
Eggs in a Norwegian breakfast are normally served in an egg cup and soft boiled.
We completely forgot to film this part, but this was my fave. Perfectly cooked soft boiled eggs on bread...add a touch of caviar if you want to be a little indulgent. A girl can get used to this.
Third Course in a Norwegian Breakfast
Heart shaped waffles with jam and Brunost - a true treat
Freshly made Nordic waffles (in a heart shape, of course) buttermilk, sour cream, and BUTTER! Add a slice of brunost, a brown cheese made of whey and goat milk. The stuff tastes like Nutella! It's ridiculously delicious. And to make it even tastier, you add a dollop of jam on top. Fold like a pizza and enjoy.
This was a total treat and the first time I tied brunost.
This was the most thoughtful breakfast I've had in ages, and also the tastiest. If you don't get a chance to head to Norway, schedule a trip to Hyde Park and stay at Troy's...did I mention he's working on importing Heidal cheese soon? Keep an eye on this man, he's going to take the culinary world by storm.
You've heard about Medellín. Most likely because the show Narcos is super popular now (it's quite a good show too), you have head of Colombia (misspelling it Columbia) or you drink coffee. Medellín is quite different from you think and definitly from the drug filled days of the 1980's (how I miss them). Medellín is a safe city that is filled with beautiful people (and gorgeous women...men not so much) that is on the rise. In 2013 it was named the most progressive city in the world and it's no surprise why. There are museums, galleries, great restaurants, botanical gardens and more...but I'm here to tell you about all the other great reasons you should visit Medellín. I hadn't been there since childhood, and I was more than pleasantly surprised...here's why:
Dreams of The city of Eternal Spring
The grounds of the Museo el Castillo hold many types of flora and fauna
Although it is also called the City of the Mountain and the City of Flowers; its most accurate moniker is the one above. The average weather is 72°F. Yup, a beautiful mild 72°F. There's almost no humidity, and if it does get to the 80's, simply take a short rest under a tree to regulate your temperature. It gets a little chillier at night, so simply change from a dress to dress pants and a light sweater. It rains, but ,for the most part, the rain leaves as quickly as it comes. So all year round you should expect to be able to wear shorts, DON'T (more on that later) and short sleeve shirts.
Another nice thing about Medellín is how varied it is. You can be in Envigado and meet the locals, or you can go to Gringolandia Poblado and meet plenty of expats. If you want to go hiking, it's just 20 minutes away. You can be in the middle of things one day, and in complete isolation the next. I prefer the first, but you make the choice.
Why visit Medellín?
Medellín is Cheap
At least it is if you're coming from the US or Europe. To compare this to my life in NYC:
Cost of Eating Out in Medellín
There are plenty of inexpensive restaurants in Envigado, La Sazon de Martica was one of our favorites
Main Course at fancy restaurant on the Park: I picked parks because I wanted to give a pretty similar experience. These restaurants offer an incredible setting, and are quite popular. I took these prices off the lunch menus to keep things fair.
NYC - Loeb Boat House - Appetizer $12USD, Main Course $25USD, Dessert $10-15USD TOTAL=$47 minimum
Medellin - In Situ: Appetizer $6USD, Main Course $11USD, Dessert $6USD TOTAL=$23 minimum
**I will add that I think the food at In Situ is better than the Boathouse (Boathouse is just tourist crap).
That being said, you won't be eating at fancy restaurants all the time. You'll probably just pick a local place (we had ours in Envigado - La Sazon de Martica - so good). The way to go here is the executivo. This is Medellín's version of the Prix Fixe lunch. For us, that usually meant soup (a big one), followed by a plate platter of rice, beans, meat or chicken, salad, plantains, AND a freshly made fruit juice. This set us back about $10 for two people...and you will have leftovers.
Medellín is not as cheap as say Southeast Asia, but then again, the flight from the US is much shorter, the city is pretty darn safe, there aren't too many beggars (unless you go to Hamsterdam near the centro), and public transport works. It just feels much better than Southeast Asia, at least to me. Could be I am biased since I am Colombian born, but I like it there.
Cost of Groceries in Medellín
I used to shop at Whole Paycheck Foods. Then I found Trader Joe's and that became my favorite market. Just to give you an idea for about $2USD, I'd get a whole basket of fruits for about $3USD. In NYC I've paid $5USD for an apple.
Supermarkets in Medellín
Carulla: It's like a Whole Foods. Probably the best choice of food, but you will pay a bit more.
Exito: Same company as the SIM card. It's like a Walmart.
You can have food delivered with services like Domicilios - but the choices are slim
As a New Yorker, I'm spoiled by food delivery. While there is no Seamless, Delivery, PostMates, or Plated in Medellín, you do have Domicilios. It works pretty similar to a Seamless. You go on the site, place your order, and it gets delivered. Not all restaurants take credit card payments, so you need to have cash (which is pretty inconvenient) and you need to have exact change. So that needs to change. Also, the choices for delivery are crap...so while it is sufficient, this can certainly improve.
You do have another option. People are willing to pick up and drop off food. You just need to ask around your local places to find out who offers delivery via "Domicilio". Places to inquire are your pharmacy, cleaner, or local restaurant.
Housing is Cheap in Medellín
Cost of Long Term Renting in Medellín
If you do a yearly rental, you can probably get a nice 2 bedroom in a luxury building with a deck for around $700-1,000USD per month. To compare, a 2 bedroom in New York City in a similar building will cost you between $4,500 to $10,000 depending on location.
Cost of Short Term Rentals in Medellín
Awesome short term rental in Medellin under $100 USD per night
If you're visiting Medellín, chances are you'll either stay in a hotel, airbnb, or short term rental. Here's the breakdown on those prices:
The Charlee Hotel: This is the swankiest hotel in town. Rooms will cost you between $200-400 USD nightly. Total waste of money because of the other options. This is more set for the tourist who just want to not think about things like laundry, getting keys, etc.
Airbnb: This is one of the flats I rented for a month. I got a nice discount as well and the building had a gym, pool, and 24 hour doorman. It was a 2 bedroom, 2 bath with an incredible view in Poblado. This flat cost us under $89USD per night. Keep in mind that when renting on a site like Airbnb, you can save money on cooking, laundry, etc...
Purple Monkey Hostel: Gotta preface, I don't do hostels, but this one is located in Poblado and highly rated. This will cost you $12USD per night. Great if you want to meet other travelers.
I can't speak for the hotel or the hostel, but I can speak for the two Airbnb flats that we rented. One was in a 5 story building in Envigado, the other was in a high rise in Poblado near El Tesoro mall.
Envigado: We had a three story penthouse. It was a 3 bedroom, 3 bath with a gorgeous deck. We'd go up at night, have a glass of wine and watch the mountains from the valley. It was lovely outside of two issues: loud music coming from the bars below (and don't get me started on the Christmas holiday - under no circumstances are you to stay in Envigado during Christmas/New Years - trust me), and water pressure issues. Apparently there's an issue with the city that if you are more than 3 storeys up, they don't guarantee water...which is why I recommend you go with a luxury rental like the one below.
Poblado: 30th floor, 2 bedroom, 2 bath with an incredible view. The flat had a pool, gym, 24 hour doormen...really kinda perfect. We stayed near the El Tesoro mall...this was a bit isolated, and while cab rides were really cheap, next time we plan to stay in Poblado proper next to Parque Lleras. I'll update the post once we do.
Transportation is good AND cheap in Medellín
Taxis: I would not dream of driving in Medellín. The hills scare the crap out of me, besides, taxis are dirt cheap. $5 will get you from Engivado to Poblado. Within Medellín proper, It's about $2 to go from a-b. You can also use Tappsi to call your cab or pick up an Uber (but that service is very expensive in Medellín). There is also the app Easy Taxi or Tappsi which will call a yellow cab for you. These cabs are the typical cabs. So expect small hatchbacks only good for 2-peoples' luggage.
Subway: There is also the Metro...however, it's not like NYC or Paris where the metro is everywhere. The metro is a destination in Medellin. It's out of the way, IMHO inconvenient. That being said, stop being lazy like me and take the metro. I took it, didn't get robbed, and it was fast. On hot days, it can get a little uncomfortable temperature wise, but like I said...it's cheap. If you're just going to see the major sites, they have an awesome guide on how to see them all via metro.
Gorgeous Women (the men...well)
I'm a lady...and I will tell you, there are no women more beautiful than women in Medellín. Imagine being in a city where every woman looks like Sofia Vergara, but prettier. This is Medellín. If I was a single man, I'd be in Medellín. If I was a lesbian, I'd be in Medellín. I'm a reasonably attractive woman, and I will admit that it was freaking annoying. Not only are the women beautiful, they are also perfectly fit. These women are engineered and even the most confident woman will begin to feel somewhat inadequate here. To their defense, most of them were incredibly nice. Damn it, I would have liked to be in a room with average looking women once in a while (I better hit the gym and step up my game before my next visit). Antonio had no complaints about this phenomenon.
To the men. I'm taken, so this is not an issue for me, but the men in Medellín are nothing like Italian or Brazilian men. The standard dress code is khakis and a polo. Under the polo is a soft belly. Did I mention mullets? Mullets are very popular in Medellín and the surrounding area. Sometimes there is a mullet-mohawk combination. Here's a PSA to Paisa men, that crap went out of style about 30 years ago, just shave your head, you will look better. The local men here don't have to try since there are so many gorgeous women all around. Granted, I'm not looking, but I would enjoy a little eye candy. Expats don't have to try either. They're expats and have money. This makes them prime meat. So, if you're a single straight lady you may have a hard time in Medellín.
If you're into dancing, you're going to love Medellin.
Love to dance? You're in the right place (only Cali can beat Medellín in this area). Because Paisas are so friendly, you're pretty much guaranteed a good time no matter where you go. Paisas (on the most part) are friendly, love meeting people, and want to have fun. For Paisas the rule is the more the merrier.
You can also pick up a few beers and head over to Parque Lleras and people watch. This was a favorite of ours.
In some neighborhoods, people will bring their dining room table, chairs, and stereo out into the streets. This becomes an instant party and you're welcome to join. This can be good or bad...so beware.
Medellín is pretty Safe
If you are in Poblado, Laureles, or Envigado, you'll have no safety issues. I am a old woman and had no issues walking around in these neighborhoods. Antonio and I even tested going out with our Apple Watches and never had an issue (warning - this is called "dando papaya". This is not recommended. "No dar papaya" is the law of the land, but I gotta tell you, we had to test this out. No issues in any of the known safe neighborhoods.
However, the centro is another story. I did not feel safe going there alone during the day. Even to the plaza by the museum. Catching a taxi was a hastle and I would not recommend it. There is an area next to the highway near the centro that is pretty much just like Hamsterdam in the wire. People there are sad looking, drugged up...kinda looks like a Zombie invasion. Medellín politicians, if you are reading this - get on this. Those people need help and they are making your city look bad. Outside of the three areas mentioned above, I would recommend that you execute caution. Don't strut your stuff, don't walk around with jewelry or smart phones. Other than that, you'll be perfectly fine.
The Time Zone
I do a lot of Europe travel and the time zone difference sucks. Most of our users for Socialdraft are in the US (although we are gaining grounds in Europe), it is so nice to not be jet lagged and to be able to work regular hours. This is a BIG plus for me.
Live Like Royalty on a Budget
One of our places came with Cata. Cata is awesome. I want Cata to work for me forever. I miss Cata. Cata was our "cleaning lady", but she was so much more than that. Cata made sure the house was clean (she even gave personal attention to the plants). Cata did our food shopping, she helped us arrange things. Cata took care of the household. Cata did not cook, but recommended a cook that could take care of the cooking for us. Cata charged $17 USD. I miss Cata. I plan to hire Cata full time and pay her way more than that so she can work for me full time. I miss you Cata!
Young People Speak English
I have an unfair advantage. I was born in Colombia, so I speak fairly decent Spanish. That being said, locals automatically knew I was a "gringa". Paisas have a very specific accent and can tell a foreigner in seconds. However, Colombians have a love for the US (many of us have family in the US) and most will have some knowledge of English. Learn some and you will not only earn brownie points from locals, you will make your life so much easier with older Paisas who probably don't know much English. You can start off on Memrise (yup - they have a Colombian Spanish course), or take a class when you get there. there will be plenty of choices and the most you will pay will be around $100 USD per month. In case you are going, the above video will give you some nice basics to get you started. Here are some highlights she mentioned along with a few more of my extras:
Claro que si: This means "of course". This is not just a Paisa phrase. My mom is from Cali and this is probably her favorite expression. She almost sings is. Paisas will too.
Eso: The word translates to“that”, but in Colombian Spanish it means "yes".
Guevon: Guevos are balls (like huevos are eggs..you get the gist). If you speak with someone who is not in the room and you call him/her a Guevon/a you're calling them a ball sack. If you were to greet a friend with "Hola Guevon" you're good to go.
Jueputa: A shortened form of "hijo de puta" (son of a bitch). You stub your toe, you scream Jueputa. Someone robs you, Jueputa. Someone calls you a Jueputa, you throw down.
Parce: Buddy. This means this is a good friend.
Pues: I'm torn on this. Ever since I was little my family made fun of Paisas (all Colombian regions make fun of one another - there's nothing truly malicious here) by adding "pues" to phrases. I hardly heard it in Envigado or Medellin in the two months I spent there. That being said, you may hear it a lot. Take it as the "like" of Valley girls. It's there to solidify the fact that the person speaking is Paisa.
Que mas: Literally it means “what else”. It really means "what’s up?” in English.
When you book your hotel/airbnb/rental, ask what type of connection they offer. There's no "fast" internet in Medellín, but it will be sufficient for your needs. It's also nice that a lot of public places like restaurants and malls offer free wifi. Just ask. This is especially important for the next part of this conversation - smart phones.
There are multiple providers and they all suck. When you first get your SIM card, make sure that you've turned off cellular data and that your apps are not set to refresh on cellular. This can drain your credits in a day or two. Once you've turned off all the apps from cellular, and turned off location services. Otherwise you will find yourself purchasing a recarga very soon.
Go to any of the above and buy a SIM card. Then you can add data. You don't need minutes, just make sure you have either Facebook Messenger or Whatsapp and you'll be good to go.
How to Make Calls in Medellín
A weird thing I was told about Medellin is that a land line can only call a landline and a cell can only call a cell. Don't ask me why...on a good note, Skype seems to work for both.
If calling a landline from your cell, type 034 before the number from your cell. If you are calling from a landline to a landline, you don't need to add the 034.
How to Get to Medellín
You'll be flying into JMC airport, the tiny one in the city is private. It will take you around 45 minutes to an hour to get to Medellin proper in a taxi.
When you exit customs, you will be in the area where people meet each other. If you want an Uber, there is a tourist booth on the left. They have Wifi, so ask if you can use it if you want a nicer drive than a cab.
The cost will be about 65,000 pesos ($22USD) if you take the yellow taxi and 80,000 ($27USD) if you take the white ones. It's a flat rate and you don't need to tip, although the drivers do appreciate it. In case this changes by the time you read this, the price will be on the front windshield of your cab - look for "Aeropuerto JMC".
If you have no cash, look for an ATM, there are a few.
Shopping in Medellín
Sante Fe mall is a high end shopping center in Medellin Colombia
My favorite place to shop was Envigado. Medellín has some amazing boutiques and most of the really good ones will be here. You can get custom clothing for very cheap. Go and explore...but if you're not in the mood to explore and you want things to be a bit easier, hit up the mall. This is where most Paisas go.
Santa Fe: When my brother, his wife and my niece came to visit from Bogota, this was the first place they wanted to go. It's brand new, modern and there was an ice rink (we went ice skating). You'll find the Gap, the Limited, you get the idea.
Rio Sur: I was told this is where you go for nightlife. I say meh. Stay in Poblado. That being said, there was a really good Spanish (as in Spain) restaurant on the first floor. I was not a fan of this mall.
Oviedo: Walk across the highway from Rio Sur. I was surprised at how big this mall was and at how much it had to offer. Liked it way better than Rio Sur.
El Tesoro: Another really good mall (the Jersey girl in me loved it). Tons of restaurants (check out Cuzco and the incredibly hard to find Etero - neither is in El Tesoro, but they are within walking distance & worth it). Lots of great stores (both American and Colombian, and they had a snow globe thing (my niece loved it - I hated it, but I hate the cold).
Nightlife in Medellín
I need to preface this by letting you know the drinking age in Colombia is 18 years old, so in a good number of the clubs, you will see very young people (and some high schoolers will sneak in). I prefer an older crowd (since I am nowhere near that age) but I do love to dance. Start your night off at dinner, then head off to Parque Lleras(aka - Gringolandia). This is where you will find most of the nightlife spots. Yes, there are a lot of Americans there, but locals are a plenty. Like I mentioned before, grab a six pack, pick a spot on the park and people watch while you enjoy your crappy Colombian beer (Colombian beer sucks). When you get bored of this, you can head out to clubs and restaurants.
Babylon: Cra. 41 #922 - Poblado. It's busiest night is on Thursdays and they are open until 4am. Get some rest before you go. This place is a little more expensive than most, so the crowd tends to be a little bit older (not old, but older).
Bendito Seas:Cl 10A #3821 - Poblado. This place is known for its Thursday night Ladies. Great spot if you're a single guy.
Good view of the city, great date spot for drinks. There’s 4-5 other clubs here as well.
La Ruana de Juana: Cl. 10 #41-75 - Poblado. This place doesn't get going until about midnight, but if you get there early you can claim a table. There are some decent deals (like 2 for 1 bottles) some of the time.
Rio Sur Mall: Poblado - This mall was meh for the most part, but there are some great discos on the top floor, including Kukaramakara. The crowd here will be wealthier than that at most places as will that over at Delaire Skylounge, this is a nice rooftop where you can grab a drink and enjoy beautiful views of the city. Sixtina also has some great DJ's.
La 33: Laureles. This is a pretty main street in the Laureles area. There are tons of bars and clubs, but these will have more of a Colombian spirit than those in Poblado. They are also cheaper.
La 70: Laureles. This is another street full of nightlife in the Laureles neighborhood. I liked this one a bit more, since the crowd is older.
Things to Do in Medellín
Take a Dance Class: While Medellín is not a "Cali Pachanguero", it's still a great place to learn to dance (and it's cheap).
La Piedra Del Peñol at Guatapé: This is a trip outside of the city. There is a big rock that you climb. Your reward is an incredible view. Once you're done with that, you can eat some yummy food, go ziplining, and do watersports in the lakes.
Hop on the Metro-Cable: Great views and just a fun thing to do.
Plaza Botero and the Plaza de las Esculturas in Medellin Colombia has a great collection of Fernando Botero's rubenesque ladies and men
Check Out Plaza Botero: If you know a few things about Medellín, you probably know Fernando Botero. He's the guy that paints and sculpts those lovely rubenesque (pleasantly plump) figures. His artwork can be seen all over the world, but this Medellín born artist donated a bunch of statues to the city which can be seen at the Plaza. When you're done, go to the Museo de Antioquia where you can see a lot more of his art. One note, go during the day, the area is sketchy at night.
Check Out Ciudad del Rio
I say this is like the Long Island City of Medellin. A residential area, that is usually inhabited, but check out the Modern Art Museum, it has tons of pieces from Arango, an artist you should definitely get to know. On weekends, you can check out the park and see all the crazy kids who don't care about their bones doing tricks on their bikes. It's not the most lively area, but if you grab a glass of wine at the cafe in front of the museum, it makes for some good people watching. Also, make resos at night to go to Bonuar. One of my favorite restaurants in the city.
The botanical gardens in Medellin have over 4,500 flowers
These are awesome. When you drive there the first time you may be put off by the area right outside. It's not the prettiest, but once you walk into the gardens, you're in heaven. It's huge and there are samples of almost every plant you can find in the area. There is even a butterfly house. There are a few restaurants to eat in, but where you want to eat is In Situ. We went there at least 4 times for lunch. The food is great and as mentioned before, it is quite affordable if you're coming in from a city like NYC.
Parque Explora in Medellin was fun for my niece, but even more fun for me
I used my niece as an excuse to go here, but you don't need one. It's an awesome science center for kids with a HUGE aquarium. They do some really cool 3-d movies, and there are tons of cool things to play with while there. Make sure to wash your hands, kids means germs. The last thing you want is to catch a Colombian cold.
Medellin is a magical functioning city that has some small issues but if you are visiting as a tourist, digital nomad or just traveling it is great. The people are easy to connect with, though you will need Spanish unless you are in Poblado. The history of violence that plagued the city and Colombia in general has disappeared. You may see a few people smoking or a few old men with younger girls but that is almost cleaned up.
Imagine the views from one of the mountains,with a Club Colombia in your hands, you will see the mist rise in the distance and think "this moments". You will remember it forever and your travels through the "City of Eternal Spring".
I've been in the NY-Metro area since I moved to the USA, and perhaps one of the best things about living in the greatest city in the world is that once you know it well, you can have tons of fun for very little money. I studied Art history, so I am a BIG fan of museums. The great news is that you don't have to pay a ton of money to enjoy NYC's art scene. Most museums offer free or reduced rate dates, galleries become make shift bars (offering drinks & snacks to art lovers), and NYC is a museum in itself with some of the world's greatest architecture. This post will guide you to enjoying art in Manhattan on a budget (future posts on the outer boroughs coming soon).
FREE MUSEUMS IN NYC - EVERY DAY OF THE WEEK
You don't have to pay a lot of money to go to the met. They work on a suggested donation which means you can pay what you want
The Metropolitan Museum (The Cloisters/The Breuer): This one is not 100% free, and there has been much controversy over the MET, but one thing holds true. Their fee is a "suggested donation". This means that although the counter says the "suggested donation is $25" you can give as little or as much as you want. So when you go in, you can give as little as .25 cents. The best times to go to the met are either super early in the morning, or late during the day. These times are optimal for minimizing crowds. When you're done, go out the main entrance and grab a potato knish and a hot dog from the veteran vendors. Slather on some mustard and enjoy a classic NYC treat.
I highly recommend going to the Cloisters. It is in Fort Tyron, so it is a longer subway ride, but it is so worth the trip. Pack a picnic, enjoy it in the park, and then visit one of NYC's most special museums. The Cloisters is made up of multiple pieces of spolia from castles and churches in Europe and has an incredible Medieval art collection. There is also a Medieval garden and the most beautiful view of the Palisades.
The MET 5th Ave is open 7 days a week
The MET Breuer is closed Mondays
The Cloisters are open 7 days a week
The Museum at FIT- Anyone who loves fashion needs to make a stop at the Fashion Institute of Technology's museum. Besides fashion, there are talks, exhibits, book signings...and celebs...you never know who you will run into during a visit.
Address: 7th Avenue at 27th Street. 212-217-4530
The New York Public Libary: A library? A museum? Heck yeah! The NYPL's Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, is a gorgeous monument of NYC's Beaux Arts movement. It's made of shiny white marble that contrasts beautifully against the concrete jungle. There's an amazing children's collection, don't forget to say hello to Winnie the Pooh (he lives there). When you leave, don't forget to take a picture with Patience and Fortitude, the library's lions. Then head over to Bryant Park, grab a sandwich and enjoy many of the activities. In the Summer there are free movies. This is as close to Midtown as Manhattanites will venture, so go and enjoy the city as we do.
Address: 5th Avenue & 42nd Street. 917-275-6975
FREE MUSEUMS IN NYC - MONDAYS
Museum at Eldridge Street: New York City has a rich Jewish history. This is an incredible 19th Century Synagogue that has been restored. It is a great place to visit for its architecture, but they also hold great art programs. The Synagogue offers free tours Monday from 10 am to noon.
Address: 12 Eldridge Street. 212.219.0302
FREE MUSEUMS IN NYC - TUESDAYS
9/11 Memorial & Museum: It always pains me to write about this one, as this event changed the world. At least it did for me. I knew people whose names are inscribed at the site, some whose bodies were never found and left friends and family behind. The site is beautiful and the museum offers free entry on Tuesdays. The outside area is always open and always free. Just a tiny favor...don't take smiling selfies here. Hate to be a jerk here, but this monument marks many people's grief. Skip the selfies at any site that is a memorial, this is simply in bad taste.
Address: World Trade Center Museum at 180 Greenwich St. 212-266-5211 |
Morgan Library and Museum: Bibliophiles will rejoice. This library has one of the most beautiful collection of rare books and manuscripts. There are even concerts and shows on special nights. You can go to the Morgan for free Fridays from 7-9pm, and if you want to see the McKim rooms (Morgan's private library, his study and the rotunda), you can go Tuesdays, 3-5 pm; Fridays from 7-9 pm; and Sundays, 4-6 pm.
Address: 225 Madison Ave. 212-685-0008
FREE MUSEUMS IN NYC - WEDNESDAYS
Museum of Jewish Heritage: This museum tells the story of the Holocaust from the eyes of those who suffered through it. It pays homage to their heritage and reminds us of what can happen when we let fear and anger control us. The museum offers free admission Wednesdays from 4-8 pm.
Address: 36 Battery Place. 646-437-4202
FREE MUSEUMS IN NYC - THURSDAYS
Museum of Arts and Design: This is the former American Crafts Museum, but it has evolved (or devolved) to become a museum of art and design. It's a lovely museum right by Central Park. The museum has a bunch of volunteer docents who lead ldiscussion-based visits to museum highlights. These are available on a first-come basis, and these are "free" with admission. This museum offers a pay what you will from 6 to 9pm.
Addresss: 2 Columbus Circle, 212-299-7777
New Museum: This super modern, box looking building is where you go to see Contemporary art. The museum is also known for readings, shows, and even trivia. You can pay what you want from 7-9pm (their suggestion is $2). If you bring a men's coat to donate, you get free entry any time.
Address: 235 Bowery, 212-219-1222
Museum of Chinese in America: This museum is fully dedicated to preserving and celebrating Chinese culture. They also put on some really cool cultural events. The museum is free the First Thursday of every month.
Address: 215 Centre St., 855-955-MOCA
FREE MUSEUMS IN NYC - FRIDAYS
Asia Society: The place for Asian art. It's a small, but beautifully curated collection that includes art from 1000 BCE to the 1800's. The majority of the pieces here belonged to John D Rockefeller and his wife. Free entry is available from September through June, 6-9pm.
Address: 725 Park Avenue., 212-288-6400 Japan Society: This space goes beyond to cover all Japanese art styles. There are paintings, exhibits, films, performances, and more. On top of that, the building is spectacular. The Japan Society offers free entry from 6-9pm.
Address: 333 East 47th Street,212-715-1255
Museum of Modern Art: One of NYC's best museums, it has some of the most beautiful masterpieces of Modern Art. This amazing space offers free entry on Fridays from 4-8pm.
The New-York Historical Society: This is the oldest museum in NYC. It tells the stories of America from a New Yorker's point of view. It has an incredible collection and is a fabulous place to pick up souvenirs. The museum offers a "pay what you will" Fridays from 6-8pm.
Address: 170 Central Park West, 212-873-3400
Rubin Museum of Art: The Rubin is known for putting together thoughtful exhibits to encourage thought. The focus is on the Himalayas, India, and the surrounding area. This museum is free on Fridays from 6-10pm.
Address: 150 West 17th Street, 212-620-5000
Children’s Museum of Manhattan: This one is great if you have little ones. A fantastic place for kids to learn, take part in activities, and make friends. There's free admission 5-8pm the first friday of the month.
Address: 212 West 83rd Street, 212-721-1223
Neue Galerie: The focus here is on 20th Century German and Austrian art. If you're into Bauhaus, you're going to love this place. There's also a very nice cafe where you can recharge your batteries. The Neue offers free admission from 6 -8pm the first friday of every month.
FREE MUSEUMS IN NYC - SATURDAYS
The Guggenheim has Pay What You Wish Saturdays 5:45–7:45
The Jewish Museum: They have a fantastic collection of art from Jewish artists, and they put up some amazing exhibitions and programs. You can pay what you want on Thursdays from 5-8 or go in on Saturdays to enjoy free admission.
Address: 1109 5th Ave., 212-423-3200
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum: I wrote one of my college papers on this museum. Needless to say, I like it. The secret here is start from the top and work your way down. You'll enjoy pieces by Picasso, Kandinsky and Miró. Tickets are quite pricy, but you can pay what you want Saturdays from 5:45-7:45pm.
Address: 1071 5th Avenue, 212-423-3500
El Museo del Barrio: As a Colombian-American whose heart is tied to a Cuban-Dominican-American, I strongly urge you to check out the Museo del Barrio. It celebrates the many colors, shades and flavors of Latin Americans and their art. It sits in the north of Central Park, so when you're done you can cross the street and get to know the more quiet areas of NYC's most beloved green space. Admission is free the third Saturday of every month.
Address: 1230 5th Ave., 212-831-7272
FREE MUSEUMS IN NYC - SUNDAYS
The Frick:If you're a lover of beautiful French things...you simply can't miss the Frick. It's set in an NYC mansion and houses Monets and Renoirs among others. It even hosts a concert series....you can listen free of charge from the garden courtyard. If you'd lik to go for free, schedule your trip on Sunday from 11am-1pm.
Address: 1 East 70th St., 212-288-0700
Studio Museum in Harlem: Harlem is one of NYC's most vibrant neighborhoods (and one of its trendiest at the moment). Schedule a Sunday trip to The Studio Museum and make sure to make reservations at Red Rooster for Gospel Brunch. The museum showcases black artists (American and International), and has a great collection of photographs by James Van Der Zee.
I love Beaune...there are some incredible restaurants (and of course, there is wine). One issue with staying there long term is that these amazing restaurants tend to be pricey and I don't mean a little pricey - I mean break the bank expensive. This list will show you restaurants in Beaune (and not too far away)...where you can eat for around €20 per person. I know this is not "cheap", but for the area - it is...so here goes:
INEXPENSIVE RESTAURANTS BEAUNE, FRANCE
La Table de Guigone is run by a lovely husband and wife team. Try the Andouillette - if you dare
La Table de Guigone
Their €18 lunch formula is a total steal. It gets you the option of: 1 entree, 1 main course, and 1 drink OR 1 main course, 1 cheese or dessert and 1 drink. The day we visited had various options for entrees including a pumpkin soup with sausage & chestnuts, oeufs en cocotte with foie gras (both delicious). The main courses included a confit duck a l'orange & Andouillette (try it only if you have a strong stomach - the dish was properly made - but is a required taste). So go, but skip out on the sausage from hell. You'll love everything else.
1 Place du Dr Jorrot, 21200 Beaune, France
Phone +33 3 80 21 16 04
La Lune is a tiny Japanese bistro manned by two people. The food is impeccable and fairly priced
This place is AMAZING. It deserves at least one star. It is one of the best Japanese restaurants I have visited and it was a bargain when you think of the quality of food being served here. A word of advice, you need reservations (only around 20 seats)- I was able to secure mine by messaging them on Facebook (yay - social media). The wine list is superb also. Open kitchen, incredible ingredients and a laid back attitude. It is manned by the chef and one other person and yet everything is perfect. You NEED to go here.
Terrine of quail at L'auberge de Vigneron in Burgundy
They have an even better deal than this with their €16 menu, but you'll want to spend the extra 4. For €16, you get an entree & plat or plat & dessert. We ended up going a la carte and for €25 our choices were:
Entree - Cauliflower soup with hazelnut oil or Egg cooked at 63° (both delicious)
Plat - Grilled duck breast, caramelized mashed celery, honey juice or Math burger (180g Charolais steak, cheddar, bacon), salad, wedges
The chefs here definitely have the technique. The ambience is a bit more relaxed and I think you'll enjoy the place as much as I did.
14 Rue du Faubourg Madeleine
21200 Beaune, Bourgogne, France
Phone 33 3 80 21 41 34
Caves Madeleine is a local favorite in Beaune
Caves Madeleine €23
This has been a favorite of our team for at least 4 years. The food is solid (the Quenelles de Volaille are incredible), and the wine list is superb (even with Laurent gone). The €23 lunch menu is the way to get the best deal:
Appetizer - Radishes with butter (not really an appetizer - but a French classic)
Entree - Veloute of Cauliflower
Plat - Duck Confit (it was a lady bird - a Cannette)
Dessert - Ile Flotante (Floating island)
This place has never let us down. This is an absolute MUST when you visit Beaune.
8 Rue du Faubourg Madeleine
21200 Beaune, Bourgogne, France
Phone 33 3 80 22 93 30
A FEW SPLURGES THAT ARE WORTH THE MONEY
The amuse-bouche at Le Benaton was foie & lobster. This is so worth it
Again, €35 ain't cheap...but when you have a Michelin star, the concept of value changes. Lovely place...definitely not ready for two stars...but a lovely meal at an amazing price. On top of that, this menu is offered for lunch AND dinner Tuesday - Saturday. Talk about a score:
Filet of Mackerel in Escabeche
Red Label Pork with A Mousseline of Potatoes (yum)
Fresh chevre cheese from the Claviere Farm
Again, some affordable wine choices and a lovely way to splurge on yourself.
4b Place Carnot
21200 Beaune, Bourgogne, France
Phone +33 3 80 24 22 42
How appropriate that I should end up at a Loire style castle during my trip to Medellin, Colombia. I spent a whole semester at Rutgers studying Loire Valley Chateaux like Blois and never imagined that there would be one modeled after them on the hills of the City of Eternal Spring. I'll take this as a tiny snack before I hit the Loire later this year.
The Museo el Castillo in Poblado has gorgeous flora
This "country home" was built in the 1930's for Jose Tobon Uribe by the HM Rodriguez firm (they were the first architectural firm in Medellin). It has some Gothic elements - towers, pointed doorways and windows.
This country home was purchased in 1943 by Diego Echavarría Misas and his German born wife Benedikta (Dita) Zur Nieden. They knew that they wanted to turn the house into a museum and leave it to the city in order to leave a cultural legacy.
A history of the Echavarría Family
Charming elements of the castle in Medellin
The museum offers a very cheap tour (10,000 COP or $3USD). This gets you access to the grounds and a walking tour of the house. The tour is nice. I did it on a Sunday - and there were a bit too many people for my liking...but it was still a nice tour. Here's what I leaned about the family.
This fountain in the back courtyard of the Museo el Castillo in Medellin has a fountain of a boy child and a fish as its centerpiece
Diego Echavarría Misas was the son of Don Alejandro Echavarría, the founded the textile producer Coltejer (check out the tower in the city center - nice modern architecture). When Diego was a mere 16, he was sent to Germany to study. He lived in Europe for quite some time and spent a lot of it in Paris. During a trip to Germany, he met the love of his life, Benedikta Zur Nieden. They had one daughter named Isolde (yup - like the Wagner opera).
Towers and trefoil arches are details of the Châteauesque design of the Museo el Castillo
Diego was a stand up guy. Here are some good deeds he did:
Founded the Itagui Library
He built a clinic for farmers
Donated the house he lived in before moving to the castle. The home is called Ditaires and is another nice spot to visit.
Donated land & founded a school in honor of his daughter (more on this later).
The family was relatively happy. They lived in their gorgeous home, traveled, collected art, and thought about their legacy. Their daughter led a happy life. There are three areas that were completely her own in the home. Her infant room, her grown up room, and a tiny structure outside that was her playhouse.
View of the back of the house at the Museo el Castillo in Medellin
Isolde played violin, her room was decorated with drawings she and her mother made, she had incredibly talented teachers. Isolde seemed to be doing ok and was sent to the United States to continue her education. While there, she found out she had Guillain-Barre-Landry, an autoimmune disease. She died of this disease at 19 years old.
The grounds of the Museo el Castillo hold many types of flora and fauna
He lived a relatively long life, but had a tragic end. On August 8, 1971 he was kidnapped at the entrance to his home. It is said that Pablo Escobar was behind his kidnapping. Six weeks later, he was found dead to the chagrin of the people of Medellin.
Tips for Visiting Museo el Castillo in Medellin, Colombia
Drive up to the entrance, pay for your ticket and parking and you're set
Getting there: Just take a taxi. It's up a HUGE freakin' hill (as most things in Medellin are).
What to Wear: Don't be a gringo and wear shorts, sneakers and a tee (this is advice I beg you all to follow throughout Medellin). Do wear comfortable shoes. The best part of the visit is the park, so wear comfortable clothes, but look nice.
What to do: Picnic! Seriously, this is the perfect picnic spot. There are places set up for this throughout the property. Bring a bottle of wine, food, and have the most romantic picnic you've ever had.
Taking the Tour: The tour is run on the hour every hour. If you are a lady & bring a handbag, you will have to check it - so don't wait at the entrance, get as close as possible to the bag check so you can get that done quickly. The doors won't open until they are ready to let you in. There are three simple rules:
Don't step on the rugs
Don't touch things
Don't take pictures inside the house
Follow these rules, otherwise I will yell at you and embarass you. Seriously. You're not a child. Follow the damn rules.
The house is small, so the tour is not taxing on the body. There are just nine rooms and tons of tchotchkes, if you're into antiques, you're going to love this place.
Learn Spanish: I'm only half joking. The tour is only in Spanish...but I've pretty much given you all you need to know. There will probably be someone in the tour who can translate for you.
Plan a day: The tour is quick, the grounds are gorgeous. Make a day of it. Bring a picnic. Three hours should be good enough, but you can certainly spend tons of time there.
Bird Watching: There are so many birds here. Their flight distance is not too crazy, so bring a good camera and take tons of pics.
Bug Spray: I needed none (and mosquitos love me). You should probably be ok without it (but since Zica's a danger - you're better safe than sorry).
There are many fountains on the grounds of the Museo el Castillo
I spent a good amount of time in Cartagena, Colombia when I was little. My dad was in the military police and he was stationed in Santa Marta (4 hours away) when I was little. My mom tells me we used to go to Cartagena once a week. Unfortunately, I was about 4 years old at the time, so my memories were fuzzy. I did remember certain food items that I yearned to try again. I am thrilled to report that the food in Cartagena is still amazing. It’s a blend of native Colombian, African, Spanish and even Arabic cuisines. Go to Cartagena, and when you’re there (make sure to check out Cartagena's door knockers), make don't miss these ten things to eat in Cartagana.
Arepa con Huevo: This was my #1 thing to try again. Colombia is known for arepas. There are many different kinds. I may say this is the most decadent (and better than arepa de queso). These cornmeal cakes are given special treatment in Cartagena. They are sold in restaurants for about $3USD, but if you find a street vendor (usually women – and a mom/grandma is most likely involved) you can get one for $1.50 USD – trust me, this is a total deal. They take the arepa, open it in the middle and fill it with ground spiced beef and crack an egg in it. It is then deep fried. Once this step is ready, another egg is cracked inside and the arepa is once again added to the fryer. The whole process takes about 15 minutes and it is totally worth the calories and the money. We love the street-vendor-sold arepas con queso, grilled and oozing with cheese, but the real treats are arepas con huevo, deep-fried (deep-fried!). The best ones you can find are at Plaza San Diego. Look for the grandma, mom, and granddaughter that are frying them on site.
You can buy plenty of fresh fruit from the Palenqueras in Cartagena
Fruit: Colombia, not just Cartagena, is a haven for fruit lovers. You can buy them at supermarkets, but for the whole Cartagena experience, find a Palenquera (brightly dressed women of African descent) and ask her to buy some. This is your opportunity for an awesome Instagram post (the ladies are happy to pose for you for a purchase). You can usually find them in Plaza de la Inquisicion…but they make their rounds throughout the walled city. Try granadillas (my favorites), uchuvas, maracuya…heck – try one of each. You will thank me.
Limonada de Coco is a must in Cartagena. The perfect way to quench your thirst
Limonada de Coco: Cartagena is hot. There are few things more refreshing than Limonada de Coco (Coconut Limenade). It’s a mix of coconut water, lime juice (it’s a special lime from the region – awesome flavor), and sugar. It comes to you in a tall glass and it’s frothy. A lot of restaurants will offer an “executive lunch” which includes this delicious beverage. I particularly liked them at Cafe de La Iglesia.
Arroz con coco is an absolutely delicious Colombian dish
Arroz Con Coco: If you haven't noticed yet, coconut is a popular ingredient in the cuisine of Cartagena. One of the things you have to try when you are in Cartagena is arroz con coco. There are two types, arroz blanco de coco & arroz de coco negrito. While they are both tasty, you want the dark coconut rice. It's sweet (not cloying) and is usually served with fried fish and patacones.
Cartagena's cuisine is heavy on seafood and the African influences mean deliciously fried fish
Fried Fish: The ocean is a protagonist in Cartagena, this means seafood is as well. Fried fish is one of the tastiest things to eat in this city. The fish is usually super fresh, super juicy and the outside, perfectly fried. Grab a fin and enjoy - they taste like potato chips. I'm a big fan of this with arroz con coco.
Arabic people came to Cartagena alon with Spaniards, they have left their mark (genetic and culinary) on the city to the delight of foodies
Arabic Food: Yeah, you read right. Cartagena has a nice Arabic community, that means delicious Arabic food. When the Spaniards first arrived in Cartagena, there were among them Muslims who had been forced to convert to Christianity. With them came the culinary traditions of their land. Then in a later migration, people from Lebanon, Jordan, Syria and Palestine came and found that they surprisingly had much in common with some of Cartagena's residents. This means you should not be surprised at the incredible quality of Arabic food found in Cartagena. One of my favorite places to eat Arabic food is M Cocina Arabe in Bocagrande. The service is spotty, but the food is on point.
You can buy ceviche for about $1 at the cocktelerias in Cartagena
Ceviche: Since Cartagena is on the ocean, it has plenty to offer when it comes to seafood. Ceviche is one of these treats and can be ridiculously cheap. Look for the street with the cockteleras. These are little stands that sell cockteles - think Shrimp Cocktail. You buy your ceviche and choose the size of the cup. Colombians like their Ceviche with ketchup. I think this is an atrocity, so just tell the person making it "sin salsa de tomate, por favor". This will get you ridiculously fresh fish. And yes, you can get fancy ceviche at many of the restaurants, but the cockteleras are just as good and ridiculously cheap. Go to Avenida Venezuela and you will find plenty of these cocktelerias.
What was once the kidnapping capital of the world is now one of the fastest rising cities in the world. Medellin was named the Innovative city of the year in 2013, it's economy is on the rise, and with this so is its culinary scene. The good news is that most of the food (even at the most beautiful places with the best chefs) is ridiculously affordable. These are what I consider to be the best restaurants in Medellin Colombia - upscale, casual, and fast food...so that no matter what you're in the mood for, you can satisfy your cravings at any price.
Carmen in Poblado is the perfect place for romance
Carmen is a lovely restaurant in Poblado not too far from Parque Lleras. The restaurant is visually stunning. If possible, ask to be seated at the garden out back. This is a fantastic date spot. The restaurant offers a lovely tasting menu. Sorry for the crummy picture, had dinner outside at night.
Carmen is located at Cra. 36 #10a-27, Medellín +57 4 3119625 Hours of Operation: Monday: 7–10:30PM, Tue & Wed 12–3PM, 3:15–6PM, 7–10:30PM, Thur 12–3PM, 3:15–6PM, 7–11PM, Fri 12–3PM, 3:15–6PM, 7–11:30PM, Sat 7–10:30PM, Sun Closed
Etereo restaurant in Medellin serves Colombian dishes with a modern twist
Etereo is not exactly where it needs to be food wise, but it is very close. The chef is experimenting with techniques and ingredients, and although it does not always work...it is a pleasure to dine here. The restaurant is incredibly difficult to find. There is a parking lot above the Peruvian restaurant in front of El Tesoro mall. Go into that parking lot, the restaurant is there.
Etereo is located at: #1a, Cra. 25 #2 Sur155 at Mall Platinum
Hours of Operation: Mon-Sat 12p-1p, 7-10:30p (closed on Sundays)
In Situ is a restaurant in the Botanical Gardens of Medellin. The views and food are spectacular
This is perhaps the prettiest restaurant in the city. It is located inside Medellin's Botanical Gardens. As you dine you will enjoy the view and little surprises like butterflies and iguanas walking right past you. The food celebrates Colombia's natural diversity, offers a decent wine list, and has great service. The restaurant also offers a picnic in the park, but you need to call ahead for this. I would say this is not a place to be missed.
In Situ is located at Cl. 73 #5114 +57 4 2332373 Hours of Operation: Mon-Sun 12–10PM
Ocio in Poblado is one of the best restaurants in Medellin serving redefined Colombian food
This was my favorite place, and unfortunately, I found it towards the end of out trip. Also located in Poblado and is more hip and stylish. The chef here studied at Paul Bocuse's institute in Lyon (that says so much) and worked at various Michelin star restaurants.
Ocio is located at: Cra. 33 #721, Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia Hours of operation: Closed Sun- Mon, Tue-Sat 10:30AM–11PM
Casual Dining Restaurants in Medellin - coming soon
My favorite Colombian chain. It's a roasted chicken chain that has been around since I was a little girl. The chicken is juicy and flavorful, and as the chain grew, so have its offerings. Think of this as a Colombian Boston Market (but cheaper and better). One note, it is not considered polite to lick your fingers in Colombia, so you will be provided with plastic gloves to assist you with your Kokoriko experience. These are all over the place and they're pretty consistent, so when you see one - go in.
Cartagena is freakin' lovely and has something for everyone...seriously. If you're into beaches, there are plenty (although the nicer ones are on islands to be reached by boat). If you're into food, Cartagena has tons - not just Colombian either. And if you're into history and architecture - Colombia has even more of that.
This is the door of the first home of Simon Bolivar in Cartagena. It is quite apropos that his aldaba is shaped like a Lion
This Caribbean jewel was founded in 1533, this means it is one of the oldest cities in the Americas. Much of its history remains; defensive walls, republican architecture, terracotta tiles, and a magical beauty that is not found elsewhere. The homes of Cartagena are decked out in pastels, and adorned with flowers and beautiful door knockers (called aldabas).
Arabic influence is seen in Cartagena's door knockers. Such as in this non-figurative, highly decorative aldaba
Aldabas vary in size and shape and were shaped just as the Colonial architecture was. When Spaniards arrived in Cartagena, Spain was already a motley culture. The Spanish brought with them influences from France, Italy, Spain, and North Africa. This resulted in a Cartagenian architecture that is unified, yet distinct.
Lion door nkockers usually meant that this Cartagena family was involved with the armed forces
Cartagena's aldabas were directly tied to the inhabitants of the homes and served to communicate the family's status. The larger the aldaba, the wealthier you probably were. On top of this, the shape of the aldaba would give visitors a hint as to what the family wanted to be recognized for. Here are the meanings of different shapes:
Lizards: Aldabas shaped like lizards harkened back to the family's Royal Spanish background.
Lion: No, you were not a Lannister, you were probably in the military (the cool looking lion with the dark brown wood is from Casa Drake - like Francis Drake the pirate).
Maritime Motifs: If you had a maritime motif (like a mermaid or seahorse), you were probably a merchant bringing in goods with the help of the sea.
Hands: The meaning of this one tends to be more elusive. Some say it represents the hand of the Virgen of Fatima - and that it meant that this was a particularly religious family.
This door knocker looks like a water jug, maybe a wine merchant, maybe not.
When you go to Cartagena, grab a comfy pair of shoes (please don't wear sneakers and shorts - these make all tourists look bad), put on some sunscreen, and head out to the Ciudad Amurallada before 10 am. This way you can enjoy the city while everyone is still asleep. Walk the city and check out all the knockers, then imagine what the aldabas mean and what the family history may have been. UPDATE - Recently found out from someone who commented that this knocker is a Poporo, a jar used to store lime. It's made up of two sections. First the lid, which has a pin that is used to carry the lime while you chew on coca leaves, this was a sacred ritual for the people of the area. Now I've got a mission, to figure out the significance behind this one!
Woo Hoo! Gotta share with all of you. Antonio and I were featured on Travel & Leisure for our digital nomad lifestyle. We've been doing this for quite a long time. This means that we've made tons of mistakes, had many horrible days when we were dealing with business meltdowns, but we are still here...still working...and still traveling. So, today, I will jot down a few notes on tools to help those of you who are ready to make the leap into digital nomading. If there is something here that I did not cover, leave a comment with your question. Either Antonio or I will hop on and answer to the best of our knowledge. This is a living post. We will add and remove features as things change. We're also working on a second post on life tips to help you get used to this lifestyle.
In order to live as a digital nomad, you are going to need systems and tools. These will depend on the type of business you have. Since we lead a team of between 15-25 people at a time, this post will be focused on how to work with teams. The first thing when digital nomading is communications; how you will conduct business with team members, contractors, and clients. I'll outline some of the tools we have used in the past, the ones we still use from time to time, and the ones we use on a daily basis.
Tips and Tools for Digital Nomads
Communication & Collaboration Tools for Digital Nomads
If you need a digital nomad phone number, Google voice is a great option
Google Voice:I set myself up with a Google voice number and I have my regular mobile forward to my Google voice. it's awesome because it transcribes text messages and emails you whenever you get a call. You can even reply to sms messages. Another bonus, when you set up a mobile app, you can have them send verification codes to your Google voice. This is the absolute most essential thing you need if you're going to become a digital nomad. Since this is a working number, you can receive calls right on your laptop too.
NINJA TIP: You can also piggyback this with a Twilio phone number. Twilio is a great software company that give you the ability to buy phone numbers in most countries of the world for a few bucks a month. What I like to do is when I land in a country, get a Twilio phone for that country and forward it to my Google Voice. Then I can receive and call people with a local phone number. One note, Twilio is in most countries but I have noticed in developing countries like Africa and South America they are missing local numbers.
Skype allows you to make calls all over the world for very cheap
Skype: Skype's great. I use it to call international clients, to call for personal things (like utilities), or whenever I need to make an international call. I chat with my niece every Wednesday on Skype for her weekly English lesson. It's a fantastic tool for staying connected.
One issue I have been having with Skype is phone numbers in various countries are limited and conference calls with more then 2 people can be pretty choppy unless you have decent internet. Even with those issues it's still my go to for quick video call or calling home.
Facebook Messenger is great if you want free texting
Facebook Messenger:Some people prefer Whatsapp...and I have that installed on my phone, but Facebook messenger has become my default for personal conversations with friends and family. I think it depends what country you are in. In Latin America Whatsapp is king. I do both when I travel but to me I really prefer Messenger. I recently showed my mom how to do the "FaceTime" calls on Messenger. She calls me way too much.
Use slack to communicate with your team and to create micro communities
Slack: Big fans of slack. We have a team account which we use for all business communications. It allows you to add channels and to link it to other systems like Trello (we'll discuss that later). Our team (employees, contractors, and us) all log on at 9am EST. No matter where anyone is at, we are always online at 9am EST as this when we do most of our business.
What I really love about Slack is that it's the hub for our business. If someone mentioned a link, a file, an idea 3-months ago it's easily to find in their search. So concepts aren't lost in a remote business. This is the big key because when you are working with people from around the world you need to have some "local" place to interact. We use to use Skype but conversations aren't threaded properly and stuff got lost all the time.
Another reason I love Slack is the Slackbots. You can connect various robots to Slack to do things like, update Google Spreadsheets with conversations, send you news items as they come in from your RSS feed, book Ubers right from Slack and my favorite : Add Giphy memes to conversations to annoy your co-workers 🙂
Intercom: We've integrated Intercom with our website. It's an awesome way to support clients and answer any questions that potential customers will have. We're officially on from 9-5 EST, but since Intercom works on your smart phone, all of us have installed and we have almost 24 hour customer support. This is one of the most valuable tools to our business. You can also try their competitor Drift. What I like about Drift is it integrates elegantly into Slack. So you can do all your support from 1 awesome tool like Slack.
Project Management Tools For Digital Nomads
Trello: Trello is a great tool. You can organize projects into boards, add tickets and move the tickets along as they get completed. We love this tool for project management.
Socialdraft is a social media management tool. Use it to stay connected
Socialdraft: Ok...yeah - this is mine...but to be fair, it was built to solve all the issues I hated with other social media dashboards. When we created socialdraft we were working with large agencies like Sopexa. They required to have lots of control, asked us to work with outside companies, and needed some serious reporting. We built Socialdraft to make it easier to work with our clients, and ended up with an awesome Social Media dashboard that we could monetize. It does tons, I use it daily to schedule to my social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram). I've also set up alerts for both Socialdraft and my name so I know any time someone mentions us. Then I take these mentions and make them into social posts with a few clicks. We've also built a task system, so I assign tasks to our team members here. We're working on building more tools to fulfill more of my digital nomad desires...but those will come in time.
Google Drive: I love Google Drive. I can't tell you how many things I use it for. Simply freakin' amazing.
Snaggit: A video tool? For communication? Yup. Sometimes, it is so much easier to explain something with a video. I use it with our devs if there is a product issue. I simply go through the process of whatever is broken & my non developer brain can show our devs exactly what is wrong. Nothing is lost in translation.
Calendly makes scheduling simple and works across timezones. A great tool for digital nomads
Calendly: Great service for appointment setting. It gives you tons of control over your schedule. We use this mostly for demos and for on-boarding appointments for our users.
Monetary Transaction Tools For Digital Nomads
PayPal:We pay our employees and contractors with Paypal. It's gotten significantly better than it was in the past, but still needs a lot of improvements. If you know of another option - let me know, their policies always favor the customer (even when you have proof otherwise). Transferwise has gotten a lot of love lately but they limit amount of people you can send monies too. So for our digital nomad business it wouldn't work but if you only 3-4 people you are paying then check it out.
With RightSignature you just upload the doc, add the sign fields and send an email
RightSignature:Contracts are key. This goes for clients, employees, and contractors. Right signature is an awesome way to get contracts signed while you're half a world away.
The best thing about bench is that their team will hound you. It's like a grandma that nags you so you never forget anything
Bench: The last thing you want to do is book keeping & tax prep. Trust me. Bench is awesome. They call us with reminders, they are super through and this is great because when you're Digital Nomading, you're going to forget things. This is the one thing you don't want to mess around with. It is the most worthwhile investment for you as a digital nomad. We recently left Bench because of some issue with their tax system but I know when tax season comes up again we might look at them again.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve card gets you 3X points on travel and dining, plus a $300 annual travel credit
Chase Sapphire Reserve Credit Card: This is the card you want in your wallet or purse. It weights 3x the weight of any of your credit cards but give you 3x the benefits. Let me breakdown the benefits for you. No foreign transaction fees, $300 Travel credit annually, free airport lounge access, trip insurance, and free global entry credit. I mean isn't that awesome for travelers. The card costs $450 per year right now but with the $300 travel credit means it's only $150. Also right now they are giving 100,000 miles. That's one free business class trip to Europe. Get this card right now!
Other Must Have Tools for Digital Nomads
TravelingMailbox is a digital nomad must. With it you can get your mail no matter where you are
Traveling Mailbox: This is an awesome tool. You have to go through a few hoops to get it set up (like going to a notary to sign off on the forms), but it is so worth the time spend. Traveling Mailbox is a way to have your mail forwarded. They scan all the envelopes and email you whenever you get mail. If you see something you want to open, you can request this and they will PDF the piece of mail so you can read from anywhere. Another big thing they do is deposit checks for you. So if you have USA based clients that have to send you a check, just have them send it to your mailbox and they will deposit for you for a small $5 fee. So convenient.
Dashlane: I've got tons of things I use and I have different passwords for everything. Dashlane makes it easy for me not to have to remember them, and they keep my accounts safe and sound.
Duet Display lets you use your iPad as a second computer screen and increases your productivity (not sure about the glass of wine though)
Duet Display:You can't travel with a huge computer and dual monitors. Duet Display is a killer app which turns your iPad into a monitor. My productivity increased tenfold once I purchased this app. I can keep my social media on my iPad, email and other tools on my laptop.
Must Have Gadgets for Digital Nomads
I don't know how I'd live without my iPhone. I use it for business, communication and fun
iPhone: Yes, I am a fan girl. An while you can bring any unlocked phone, I love my 6s and highly recommend it. I got rid of my slr because my 6s takes such awesome pictures. Outside of that, since I work mostly on social media for my sales pitches, managing our team, etc...my 6s is simply perfect. I have my email, slack, intercomio, pretty much everything that I use for business is on my phone. While I do spend most of my 9-5's working from whatever Airbnb I am at, I do go out to lunch, take walks, and go to museums (gotta have some fun while you DN)...my iPhone is perfect. I can do almost everything I do on my laptop from my 6s. Wherever I go, I just pick up a SIM card and voila - I have a phone for that country. Since my calls are forwarded to google voice - as long as I can access my email, I can get all my messages. Oh...I sold my SLR when I got my iPhone, it takes great pictures.
IPad: Same as the 6s - but I need this in order to have Duet Display work. Also, I love to read - so I have to have my books with me at all time (and Plants vs Zombies). And if you're ever in a place that has cats, download Game for Cats - endless entertaiment.
Battery Packs: Charge these up so you can recharge your phone/tablet whenever you need.
Multiport USB charger: Antonio and I have way too many gadgets. This little tool saves us from so much wasted time. We charge our wireless mice, phones, tablets, and tons more items here.
Wifi Extender: Most Airbnbs or older apartments have the crappiest internet. If it's a stone building you are extra screwed. Wifi signals are not going thru those walls. We travel with a really light wifi repeater and it helps so much. Now the one I linked to, the HooToo Wireless Travel Router, AMAZING. So not only does it extend your wifi, you can stream stuff off of it, backup your data, and it's a battery charger. You can literally charge your mobile phone or iPad with it. LOVE this little guy. It's about the size of a fat iphone. Get it now.
I am incredibly bummed that my visit to Šibenik was so short. It is a wonderful city and really deserved more time than I gave it. Šibenik was merely a stop for us to rest on our way to Novalja & Pula. Big mistake. Šibenik should have been a destination on its own. I'm already planning my trip back for next year.
If you've never heard of Šibenik, here's what you need to know.
Šibenik is about 50 miles away from Split (one of the reasons we chose it as a midway point in our travels) on the Croatian coast. Unlike Dubrovnik & Split (which have become all the rage since Game of Thrones, Šibenik is still a bit less unknown, but no less beautiful. It also served as the location for Braavos, so if you're a fan of Arya Stark, you'll definitely want to come here.
I found Šibenik to have a great mix of locals and tourists. If you head to the old city during the day, you don't have to fight through crowds of tourists to see the sites. Tourists, mostly Croatian & Italian come out at night to enjoy dinner, coffee and drinks.
The old city has great shopping, tons of tiny little Konobas, live music at night (mostly free or donation based), and stunning architecture.
Things to See in Šibenik, Croatia
Churches...lots and lots of churches. There are 24 churches in Šibenik.If you're into churches like I am, you're going to love this city.
When I first saw this church, I thought it could easily be in Venice. Turns out I was right. There are elements that tie it to the Hagia Sophia as well as San Marco.
You can't go wrong with UNESCO sites, especially this one. The cathedral was built in 1434 and it's an icon of the Dalmatian Renaissance. Perhaps what stands out most is that the building is a monument of white among the red tiled roofs of the city. It's made of lime stone and limestone that was sourced from the island of Brac. The masterminds behind the project were Juraj Dalmatinac and Nikola Firentinac. The building is simply gorgeous. When I first saw it it reminded me of Saint Mark in Venice...and it turns out they are connected by architectural designs. There's also a very curious feature. There are tons of little heads that you will see on the outside of the church...these little heads are all portraits of people (adults and children) who lived in Šibenik at the time.
A statue of St. Francis in Sibenik Croatia. He holds a dove in his hand. The inscription reads, St. Francis, pray for us. Many times you will see pigeons gathered at his feet.
One of the many great things about going to Šibenik is that you can experience Venetian art (without Venetian prices and hordes of tourists. St. Francis' 14th Century Church and monastery is loaded with frescoes and Venetian paintings. After you're done soaking these in...look up. The painted ceilings are a jewel. If you know someone (and if you do - you need to introduce me) you may be able to get a peek at their collection of incunabula and hand-written codices. Did I mention the “Šibenik Prayer”? That's there too. It's one of the oldest Croatian tributes written in Latin script circa 1375. Am I geeking out too much already?
The Medieval garden at St. Lawrence in Sibenik is simply gorgeous. Great spot for a romantic tryst.
What a find this place was. A tiny entrance leads to a gorgeous Medieval garden with a nice attached cafe (you don't have to purchase anything to walk the gardens, but it is quite inexpensive - so go ahead). It's a great respite from the Summer heat and a great place to rest your feet (since you have to climb up the hill to get here). It was the monastery of St. Lawrence which had been forgotten for almost a century, and thankfully for us, reopened in 2007. We have Dragutin Kiš (a landscape architect) to thank for its renewal. There's a super charming fountain in the middle, a rocky pathway and gorgeous plants of all kinds, medicinal, edible, and decorative ones too. In the garden you can find thyme, capers, basil, and much more.
The Public Art:
Walk over to Roberta Visanija park (right outside the city wall) and check out Ivan Meštrović's work
There are tons of pieces of public art in Sibenik, and lucky for you Ivan Meštrović created some gorgeous ones for the city. Take the Petar Kresimir Statue. He was the King of Croatia in the 11th century. It is said the region peaked under his rule. You can see how much respect Meštrović had for this ruler in the sculpture that sits at Roberta Visanija park. Another gorgeous piece by Meštrović is the sculpture in honor of Juraj Dalmatinac, the architect who is held responsible for Šibenik's gorgeous Cathedral.
This is Šibenik's main street. You will find everything from cafes, shops, restaurants, street vendors. This is where most of Šibenik's commerce and fun take place. Just be careful, the street can be a little slippery.
For unobstructed 360 views of the city, climb up the Fortress of St. Michael
You will be rewarded with the most astonishing views if you make it up to this fortress. Not as impressive as the Castelo S. Jorge in Lisbon, but still freakin' impressive. While there are 4 fortresses in the city, this one certainly stands out. It's shaped almost like a rectangle and has tons of towers. The views there are spectacular, and since it has been turned into a music venue, there is even a great little cafe for you to refresh before making your way down the hill.
If you walk outside the walls of Sibenik you will encounter this charming fountain. It is made up of moss covered rocks that turtles call home.
If anything because it's darn cute. This tiny fountain is outside Sibenik’s old city walls, and is located in front of the Church of Our Lady. Moss covered rocks serve as a home to tons of tiny little turtles. One of the most charming details of the town.
The Loggia And Republic Square Sibenik Croatia:
This is the Free City of Braavos, so when you go to Sibenik...feel free to bring on your best Arya Stark impression.
A gorgeous square where you can grab a meal and people watch. From here you can enjoy the view of St. Jacob, the sculpture of Giorgio da Sebeniko by Ivan Mestroivc (who has become one of my favorite sculptors), and then easily reach any of the sites on the hill. Besides, if you're on team Arya (like I am), you can relive her adventures in the Free City of Braavos.
Things to do in Šibenik
Islands, Parks, & Beaches...Island hopping is a great activity to do if you're spending time in Šibenik. There are 250 island on the Šibenik archipelago. On top of that, only 6 of them are populated...so if you want to find a quiet beach, nature, and breathtaking beauty, you can find it here.
One of the most beautiful sites in Croatia is Krka National Park. Worth the crowds
Like most of Croatia's beaches, this is a lovely pebbled beach that is easily reached from Šibenik's center. From there you can enjoy a view of the old city while you work on your tan. It is said that Banj beach is one of the cleanest in the world. It was awarded the international Blue Flag award. Best part - it's a public beach, so everyone can enjoy it. There are tons of things to do here besides tan & swim. You can play beach volleyball, basketball, and go wall climbing. There are also chair and umbrella rentals so you don't have to lug your own equipment. Lovely beach.
Perhaps one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the world (at least out of what I've experienced). The downside is that they are incredibly popular and buses from Split and Zadar bring tourists from those areas to the lakes...so...if you get there early you can enjoy them, but if you go later, it will be a bit ridiculously overcrowded. Why is it so damn popular? Imagine a 45 mile long river coming from the foothills of the Dinara mountains. Then imagine seven ridiculously gorgeous waterfalls and then imagine yourself swimming in their crystal clear waters. Sometimes it's totally worth it to get up early (or to deal with tourists).
89 gorgeous islands that look like mars. There is barely any vegetation here and you go there for the amazing beaches. Once they were green and lush, but this came to an end when sheep were introduced. They destroyed the landscape (hungry little buggers) and made these islands into what they are today. The islands were once the home of royalty, then they became the homes of the peasants of Murter, and now their descendants remain. The islands are known to be a hot spot for those who love to yacht, and for those who love to eat seafood. And scuba too! Great sealife is easily found here.
This is said to be a hiker's paradise. I didn't get to go, but it is so on my list for my next visit. If you have been, please let me know...because I can certainly see myself going for a hike.
Vransko Jezero Park: a huge lake which is a sanctuary for birds and is excellent as fishing location. This is about an hour car ride away from Šibenik.
Tips for your Šibenik Visit
1. Rent a car: Although you will not need a car in the city, you will need one if you plan to visit any of the national parks. Sure, there are buses, but it is just a pain.
2. Comfy Shoes: You will need comfy non-slip shoes unless you want to bust your ass on stone steps. Does not feel good, I promise.
3. Fly into Split or Zadar: Both are great cities and your drive will be much shorter than if you drive from Zagreb or Dubrovnik.
Split - Šibenik - 1 hour
Zadar - Šibenik - 1 hour
Zagreb - Šibenik - 3+ hours
Dubrovnik - Šibenik - 3-4 hours
4. Food: You can pay as little as $1 USD for a filling snack to $20 USD for a main course at the city's best restaurant (quite lovely may I add), but your average dinner for two should cost you around $3o USD (you won't leave hungry).
5. Phone: I got a SIM card for 11€ that gave me unlimited internet for a week. Bought 4 of these and was incredibly happy at the investment. Best part, when I got to my Šibenik Airbnb (which said it had internet - but it barely worked) I was able to connect my computer to my phone - best internet deal in Europe so far. We purchased from Orange, so ask them about these deals when you can.
5. Where to Stay: As usual, we did an Airbnb. It was very nice, but before you book an airbnb in Sibenik, make sure to ask your host if there is AC in every room and if the internet is solid. Hers only had AC in one room, and the internet was incredibly spotty (not an issue for most people, but if you work daily while you travel...) A nice apartment should cost you between $50-$100 USD depending on what you want.
Ran into an incredible piece from Colombian born artist Natalia Giraldo at the Museo de Antioquia in Medellin, Colombia. I liked it so much, I had to research it as soon as I got home.
The sculpture, made of salt, sat alone in a room. It depicts the ruins of two female figures; the Virgin Mary, and Edith.
It was quite appropriate that I was seeing this sculpture just a few days after the celebration of the Dia de Las Velitas. The day celebrates Mary's immaculate conception. This is the probably the most important aspect of Catholic lore. Without Mary as the vessel for Christ's birth, there could be no Christianity. Mary is also the female ideal of Colombian (and some may say even Latin American) culture. As little girls, we (as I am a Latin woman and experienced this first hand) are all raised to be pure, humble, and obedient.
Sculpture of Mary made of Salt by Colombian Artist Natalia Giraldo
Edith, on the other hand represents the blind faith that is needed to believe in the religion. This is something else that is ingrained in the children of Catholic families in Colombia. Story says she was the wife of Lot who had been kind to two angels who came to their city, Sodom. Because of this kindness, the angels told Lot to take his family and flee the disaster that would befall the city, but gave them one rule...don't look back. Edith looked back and was turned to a pillar of salt. The moral of the story here is to have blind faith and follow the rules of the church, else come to tragedy.
Giraldo's choice of medium, salt is pretty self explanatory. It gives context to a figure that has been reduced to merely a face and two feet. It also refers back to salt's history (check out Mark Kurlansky's book if you want to learn more - great book.) Salt was quite valuable. It was used as currency. In Jewish culture, it also signified loyalty, purity, and commitment.
Mary's head is detached from her body in this sculpture by Medellin Woman artist Natalia Giraldo
The figures are life size, making them relatable to the viewer. As a woman, I had to stop and see what happened. Why were these women destroyed, why were they in pieces. It was incredibly powerful.
Giraldo has some pictures of her work on her Facebook account, although I was unable to find a website for her. If/when I do, I'll update here. In the mean time, if you happen to be in Medellin, go check her out.
My dad was a police officer in Colombia in the 70's & 80's. This was not the safest profession at the time. When I asked my mom about our time living in Medellin (I have no recollections - I was quite young), I can tell these were not her favorite times.
In an effort to escape the crippling cold in NYC, Antonio and I decided we'd head to the City of Eternal Spring. Yup, Medellin boasts the best possible weather in the world. I had never head of Envigado and started to do some research on r/colombia to figure out what neighborhood to stay in. It kept coming down to two: Poblado and Envigado.
Ultimately, Envigado won because I was leaving the US to get to know Colombia...not to hang out with a bunch of expats...not that I have an issue with expats, but I wanted to re-discover the country I was born in.
Sunrises and sunsets are amazing from Envigado.
Is Envigado dangerous?
Hells no! I know what you're thinking...Pablo Escobar was born in Envigado (Barrio La Paz to be exact). This was the birth place of La Violencia. It must still be dangerous...you could not be more wrong. This is one of those neighborhoods where everyone knows each other and watches out after each other. Police officers are a constant presence, but not in a menacing way...they are merely there in case you need them. That being said, don't be an idiot. Use common sense as in any other city, and don't wear your expensive jewelry out. That's just silly.
You will find shrines to saints throughout Envigado. Mary seems to be a very popular lady
What is Envigado like?
There are micro neighborhoods within Envigado. I stayed at La Magnolia which sits between Parque Envigado and La Canalisacion de Ayurá. Think residential. Families have been here for quite some time. Many of them run bodegas, hair salons, and stores out of their homes. At night you hear the sounds of Vallenato as you stare at the gorgeous lights that dot the mountains of Medellín. Envigado also tends to be incredibly loud from November 28-Jan 6. Families don't celebrate in their homes, but outside. Fireworks go off nightly...so if you decide to spend time in Envigado during the Christmas holiday, either bring ear plugs, sleeping pills, or ask your host/hotel if they have sound proof windows. I would say the noise level is my only issue with this neighborhood and the one thing that will keep me from coming back. That's right Envigado - you lost me at fireworks going off next to my head every single night in a row. I returned to Envigado in February to give it a fair try. It was quieter than December - but still not quiet. I would not recommend staying in Envigado, but I certainly recommend you explore the area.
If you head to the border that hits Medellín’s South area - around Poblado - Envigado feels posh, polished. It is hard to tell the difference between both neighborhoods. So ultimately it depends on where you stay.
The views of the Aburra Valley in Medellin are spectacular
History of Envigado
Like much of Colombia, Envigado was the product of the Spanish who arrived in the area around 1541. It took until 1775 for Envigado to become a city. While Medellín has absorbed many cities as it has grown, Envigado is still its own entity. It's quite large too. There are about 200k people living in Envigado, making this (IMHO) a very proper city.
Things to do in Envigado
A lovely one square block plaza. So much to do here. If you're into churches, check out Iglesia Santa Gertrudis in Envigado. You will often find locals dancing to live music...and of course, there's food and drink. If you're lucky enough to be in the city for the Christmas holiday, the park will be decked in lights.
Paisas are fit. The men, the women...they've got buns of steel. This is due in part to the insanely steep hills on which they hike and bike. If you too want buns of steel, go for a hike at La Romera, or Parque Salado.
As I mentioned, Paisas are fit. The nice thing is you can get fit too. We joined Dinamo Fitness, a gym in Envigado. Antonio and I got the family plan which cost $27 USD for the both of us. Best of all, we got a physical assessment AND a physical trainer to work out with us daily...I'll be looking good in a few months.
Otraparte Casa Museo is a the former home of the poet, philosopher and Antioqueñan writer Fernando González.
Otraparte is for those with a poetic heart. It was the home of Fernando González, a philosopher and is now a museum to honor his memory. Besides, they have a super cute outdoor cafe where you can sit, read a book, and have a few snacks. On Saturday nights, this place is poppin', so get here early.
December 7 is the "Dia De Las Velitas" in Medellin and Envigado.
See the Christmas Lights. If you are lucky enough to come to Medellin for Christmas...you will be privy to some of the most beautiful light displays in the city. Beware...on November 31st when the celebration officially begins, there are fireworks...this means fireworks throughout the city for hours. So make sure to get nice and tired because they go on all night...and continue to the morning. This is true throughout the month of December...and gets worse when there are futbol finals...but I digress...back to Christmas. A special day in Envigado is the "Dia de las Velitas" or the "Alumbrado". It is celebrated on December 7, and celebrates the immaculate conception of Mary. It's quite a spectacular show as every household puts out lights in celebration. The city is also dressed up in lights. Check out Parque Envigado and the main streets in town.
Where to Eat in Envigado
Devocion in Envigado boasts great comfort food from around the world
Devoción: Great place for a cheat meal. This restaurant has a small menu inspired by street & bar food of the world. Loved their burger, it comes on Arabic bread and with green tomatoes. Their "poutine" was ridiculously delicious too. A meal for two with two beers came to about $15USD.
Lemoncillo is an incredible (and cheap) vietnamese restaurant in Envigado
Lemoncillo: Fantastic Vietnamese restaurant. We weren't expecting anything good, but the food was incredibly fresh, the flavors were right, and so was the price. The chef was incredibly friendly as was the staff. We're heading back next week for more.
Kokoriko: I've been a fan since I was a little girl. This is a chain restaurant (yes...you heard me right) and they can be found throughout the country. I dream of the day this chain is all over the world. Awesome roasted chicken, great soups...and they give you plastic gloves so you don't dirty your fingers....yummy!
Zacateca Mexican restaurant in Envigado has a shrine to El Chavo del Ocho
Zacatecas: Great Mexican restaurant. Make sure you get the "Mango Biche" margaritas. The tacos were HUGE, but also tasty and the hot sauce was actually hot...not something you normally find in Colombia. Go. Get the Chicken Taco, it comes with bacon and it is my favorite there. You'll love it. There are other fancier Mexican places in Envigado, but this is where you want to go, trust me.
For about $2.50 USD you can get a soup, rice, salad, banana, and a drink at El Pipelon restaurant in Envigado
El Pipelon: Lunch for two cost about $5 and was ridiculously delicious. I got mondongo (tripe soup). It came with rice, an egg, banana, arepa, and juice. Antonio had a soup and pork in onion sauce - also came with rice, an egg, and pickled vegetables...oh...and a beer...so if you're on a budget, this is great spot. Cra. 43 #32CS-02
Contenedores Food Place: This is a container park turned food hall. We ate at La Recoleta and loved our food. More "expensive" than the rest of Envigado - Maybe $30 USD for an appetizer, two sandwiches, and two drinks...but so worth it. Restaurants include:
La Recoleta - Argentinean touches, sandwiches, cocktails.
Romeo Y Paleta - Ice cream pops - try the arequipe & cheesecake flavors.
Milagros - Mexican food (fine, but I prefer Zacateca)
Mezzaluna - Salads, you'll want one after you step on the scale after eating in Envigado.
Chef Burger - ...burgers...they're good...bread is not quite right, but the meat is lovely.
Villero parilla - Steaks
Tano Argento - Argentinean-Italian. Surprisingly good (much of the "Italian" food you get in Envigado and Medellin is not right - this was the closest we found to actual Italian flavors).
There are plenty of inexpensive restaurants in Envigado, La Sazon de Martica was one of our favorites
La Sazon de Martica: Unfortunately, this place has no address, but it is located on Diagonal 32 & Transversal 32A Sur. Look for the "garage" with about 6 tables inside. It is usually packed by noon, so get there at 11. This way you can get a table and make sure they don't run out of all their delicious food. Lunch for two will cost you 20.000 COP (less than 10 bucks). A typical lunch there will involve a soup, seco (rice + protein + plantain + egg + avocado), and juice.
El Nuevo Campin: Another ridiculously cheap, ridiculously delicious restaurant. Less than $10USD got us a soup, seco, and a drink and amazing service. Trasnversal 32 Sur C & Diagonal 32D.
Zona Gastronomica: This is an area in Envigado, about 2 blocks square (maybe 4 if I want to be truly fair) where it seems every other house is a restaurant. Had some good meals, some mediocre ones, but if you're looking for many choices, this is where you need to go. Below is a list of the restaurants we liked in Zona Gastronomica in Envigado. This area is located in the Jardines neighborhood.
Barbacoa Burgers and Beer: Really tasty burger. Only issue was the bun, if they just toasted the bun, the burger would have hit a home run. There are a lot of good burgers in Envigado, this was one of them. Really, really great beer list!
El Barral Spanish Restaurant: Lovely Spanish spot. Great tapas and fantastic service. They have a tiny outdoor area up front where you can sit and people watch. Highly recommended. Calle 30 Sur No. 43A - 38
Pizzeria Olivia: Not NYC pizza, but some of the best we had in town. Service was spotty, but if you're craving a pie. This is probably the best place to go. Cll 30 Sur No. 44a - 08
Chiclayo Cocina Peruana: Super yummy Peruvian food and much cheaper than Cuzco (located near El Tesoro Mall). Killer Ceviches...stay away from the Pisco Sours...the hangover is a killer.
Rota Bar: Small bites, beer & wine. Chill spot for a quick bite with friends.
Antonio's Gelato: Awesome homemade ice cream, lady clerk with serious bitchy resting face. Ice cream is totally worth it though.
Carbone & Pasta: Horrible (and I mean horrible pasta - think ketchup on fettuccine) delicious steaks.
Black Pepper Steak House: Didn't have a steak. I had the insane seafood platter which came with tuna and salmon skewers, shrimp, and tons other goodies all perfectly cooked. Totally worth it. Cra 44A N 30 Sur - 7
Where to Shop in Envigado
City Plaza in Envigado is the "major" shopping center in the area. You can find pretty much anything you need here.
X2Underwear: What a fantastic store. They have the most beautiful men's underwear and the people that work there are lovely. The most pleasant shopping experience. Too bad it's only for the guys.
Other than that, just walk around Parque Envigado. There are plenty of shops to fill all of your needs.
Worth Traveling To
Lucia at the Charlee Hotel:Located in Poblado, this is a gorgeous restaurant. Really great design and delicious appetizers (the main courses we didn't like as much). What you'll love about this place is that you can sit and watch the crowds of people at Parque Lleras, enjoy some decent wine, and nice food. If you so choose, you can head for a drink at the roof bar afterwards. Felt a little pretentious to me, but still has a great view. Cl. 9a #37-16, Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia
Colombia Pro Tip
In Colombia, cell phones can only call cell phones and land lines can only call land lines. Don't ask me why - just be aware of this when you visit.
I am a huge fan of museums...guess that comes along with being an Art History major in university. When you go to Paris, you absolutely MUST go to the Louvre. That being said, it is one of the largest museums in the world. This means it is full of tourists. There are various types of tourists here:
The selfie stick mafia. These guys get validification from having all their friends know they went to the Louvre. For them it is not about the art, but about being seen with the art. Yes, you saw the Mona Lisa...so did a trillion other people...you are not that special - seriously.
Masterpiece Hunters. These tourists that go see only the main pieces. You will see them with an outlined map and they will head from Nike to Mona to Venus. Snap a shot and walk away. Very similar to the selfie stick mafia.
The Tour Groups. These are my least favorite. They come in groups of 10-20 and wear headsets so they can hear their guide. They will trample you because they are afraid of getting lost and will stop to take a quick picture of a piece of art that catches their eye and then run to rejoin their group - which is basically just doing the Masterpiece tour.
The Smart Museum Goer. Let this be you. You prepared. You purchased tickets ahead, entered the right way, and know to be done with the Louvre before 11:30am when it gets really crazy. Now I will give you all the tips you need to become this type of tourist.
As I said, the Louvre is HUGE! it is over 60,000 square meters long. There are more than 35,000 pieces of art on permanent exhibit, and there are more than 10 million visitors per year. This is the museum with the most visitors in the world.
The IM Pei Pyramid entrance to the Louvre
Before I go into all my tips, understand that you cannot see the museum in one day. It's too big, and there is too much amazing art. If you're in Paris for a short time, pick and choose what you want to see, but if you see something that catches your eye..stop and enjoy it. There are some amazing pieces there...this is the best part of the museum. I've been there three times...and I have yet to see the entire thing. This is perfectly alright. You don't have to do it all, it's much better to do it well.
The sculpture collection at the Louvre is massive
Tips for Visiting The Louvre Museum
1) Pick the time you want to go (either early AM or late PM)
Tuesdays are out of the question since the Louvre museum is closed. It is also closed on January 1, May 1, and December 1. I recommend that you check their website in case things change.
The museum's hours are from 9 am to 6 pm, but on Wednesday and Friday, it is open until 9:45 pm. On these days, the admission price is reduced if you come in after 6 pm. There are less crowds and not as many school groups. This is the best time to come.
The second best time to come is super early in the morning. If you arrive at 8:45, you can enter by 9 am and beat most of the crowds.
This was the line at 9am on a Wednesday at the Porte de Leons. A total of about 10 people were waiting with me
2) Purchase your Louvretickets ahead of time.
Do not. I repeat - DO NOT purchase your tickets on the day of. Instead, go to a FNAC. This is sort of like a Barnes & Noble mixed with Ticketmaster and a Best Buy. You can go and purchase tickets for a specific day and time. You can also purchase them online to pick up at the FNAC. This means you will save yourself tons of time wasted on line.
If you did not purchase your Louvre tickets ahead of time, you can buy them after you've gone through security. There are automated machines to pick up your tickets.
The Cour Caree was touched by multiple architects including Pierre Lescot, and Jean Goujon.
3) Free Entry
If you're on a budget and you still want to visit the Louvre, you can go for free the first Sunday of each month. It won't be as easy of a visit as if you visited at night, but you can still make it work.
The best entrance at the Louvre to see the Mona Lisa is the Porte des Leons
4) Paris Museum pass
I'm not a fan of these because I am not the type of person who will rush past a museum. I am also an art dork. The Paris Museum Pass gets you admission (line free) to 60+ museums and monuments in Paris. This includes the Louvre. I do not consider these a good deal unless you do the 6 day pass. Again, I like to spend tons of time in one museum, so this is more for those who are masterpiece chasers. The breakdown of pricing on the Paris Museum Pass.
2-day pass: €42
4-day pass: €56
6-day pass: €69
Map of the best entrances to the Louvre Museum
5) Use the Right Entrance
Don't be a sucker and stand on line to enter at IM Pei's Pyramid entrance. There are a few entrances you can take...I will leave my favorite for last:
---Carousel Du Louvre Entrance: This is the entrance to the underground shopping mall. This will lead you into a smaller inverted pyramid next to the Apple Store. The security line here is more lax and there are a lot more ticket machines, so less of a line if you don't have tickets. If you happen to have the Paris Museum Pass, your wait will be incredibly short.
---Passage Richelieu: This entrance also works. Much shorter lines and security is a breeze.
PRO TIP: Porte des Leons: This one is the least used and leads into the African art collection. If you want to see the Monalisa, this is an awesome entrance as you can be there 10 minutes walk from entry.
You will be rewarded for your early morning wake up call with an almost empty Louvre museum
6) Skip the Line for the Audio Guide
I love audio guides. That being said, this will just tack on more time to your visit. Instead download either the Louvre app which has a decent amount of information on some of the most notable pieces in the Louvre, or check out the Rick Steves podcast. Warning, this one will put you in the same trajectory as most tourists, so while the content is great...it is not my favorite type of experience.
Seriously. I know you want to. I know you're gonna...but just skip the Mona Lisa. It's not all that great.
7) Know what you want to see in the Louvre
The Louvre is huge. It is a beast you can easily get lost in. If you have pieces you absolutely MUST see, plan ahead. Check their website, find out where it is and go there first. I would suggest that you either grab a museum map, or keep one on your smart phone for reference.
The Louvre website has a handy plan your visit area where they have interactive plans that you can download and study before you go.
Use these tips and you too can enjoy the Louvre like this - empty
8) Wear comfortable travel shoes
This is good advice for any trip you take and any museum you visit. The marble staircase to see Nike of Samothrace is super slippery (I almost fell there the other day with my leather bottom boots). Wear shoes with non slip bottoms and tons of arch support.
Nike of Samothrace around 9:30 am. Not so bad yet, about 30 minutes later, it was atrocious
9) Getting to the Louvre
You can take the Paris metro, but it is usually quite crowded. The bus...or your feet can be quite a nice experience.
---Metro/Subway: Take the #1 and get off at the Palais-Royal–Musée du Louvre station. ---Bus: Take either the 21, 24, 27, 39, 48, 68, 69, 72, 81, 95, or the Paris Open Tour bus and get off at the Pyramid. ---Car: You really are a masochist if you drive...seriously. If you do, there is an underground parking garage on Avenue du Général Lemonnier. ---Batobus: Take the boat bus and get off at the Louvre stop (Quai François Mitterrand).
Jambon Beurre & Cheap rose make a perfect lunch after a day at the Louvre
8) Food at the Louvre.
There are plenty of places to eat at the Louvre. I counted about 15 different places inside the museum and in the Tuileries gardens. Most happen to be a pricey (it's all about location). That being said, I love Cafe Diana. Grab a Jambon Beurre and a carafe of rose. You can enjoy little kids playing in the park and while not cheap, it won't break the wallet either.
Don't miss out on this piece. It packs on a surprise
9) After your visit to the Louvre
Stop by the miniature Arc de Triomphe du Carousel and stroll in the Jardin Des Tuileries. It is a stunning park with fountains, flowers, sculptures, and tons of people. If you're still feeling energetic, test yourself out and see how close you can make it to the actual Arc de Triomphe.
Check out less explored parts of the museum for a wonderful experience
10) Use the Bathroom when you see it
You will want to use any bathroom you see when they are available. Otherwise you will find when you need it it will be impossible to find. Trust me. If you want to try something different, try the paid bathrooms on the Richelieu exit. For 2 Euros, you can try the Japanese spa bathroom...don't ask me. It's something you need to learn about yourself.
There is incredible art from Africa, Latin America, and many other parts of the world at the Louvre
11) Small purses.
I am known for only carrying a clutch. I am not a fan of large handbags. Ladies...this one is for you. If you wear a large bag you will piss off everyone and waste not just your time, but mine. So...please leave baggage at home. Nobody likes people with baggage.
Even I could not resist stopping by to see this masterpiece - Psyche Revived by Cupid's Kiss” . It's too damn charming
12) Walk Around the Art
When looking at art, if possible, walk around it. You will most likely be pleasantly surprised by the details. On a similar note, don't be an asshole. Don't touch the art, don't lean on the art, and don't put your purse on the art. I will yell at you, call a guard over and get you kicked out. You've been warned.
Yeah...so...I've never had an experience getting pick pocketed in Paris or at the Louvre. But I've been traveling for a long time. I've heard stories of people being pick pocketed...but has not happened to me yet. Just be smart and you'll be just fine. Oh, and the people that come up to you asking you for your email and a donation. Just ignore, walk away, or give them a very mean "NO". It's a scam.
In closing. Leave the selfie sticks at home, skip the tour groups, go early, and have an amazing time.