Blog Archives

UNESCO World Heritage Site: Historic District of Panama

Panama City has two sides – the modern, with its skyscraper banks and casinos, and the old town, the historic district, referred to as Historic District of Panama, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Founded in 1519, Panama City is the oldest continuously occupied European settlement on the Pacific coast of the Americas. The city was hit many hard times – slave rebellion, fire, and an earthquake, before being destroyed in a pirate attack in 1671. The original site was laid out in a slightly irregular, somewhat rudimentary grid of colonial planning. The city was moved in 1673, about four and a half miles southeast and is known as Casco Antiguo or the old town. A sea wall was erected for protection from its enemies, the city had a central plaza with smaller plazas on the fringe. The streets were organized, […]

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Cruising: Pure Panama with UnCruise Adventure

This morning we head off to Panama City, via Miami and Hurricane Irma, for some city time followed by a week on the 65-passenger Safari Voyager cruising Panama. This expedition vessel will take us through the canal as well as to many of the smaller islands in the country. This trip is the first time that I’ve left the country this year, a rather unusual occurrence for me, but a lot of family things have been going on and it just hasn’t been the right time for me to take a trip farther than across the country for a few days. With house and pet sitter in place, we’re off. And what a trip it’s going to be! The first challenge will be to avoid Hurricane Irma. She’s rumbling it up in the Caribbean right now, and as I write […]

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Postcard from the Shower

One of the real treats of a luxury stay in a tropical resort is an outdoor shower. On a trip to the Mexico, for a stay in the Maya Riviera, I found that I preferred to step outside every morning to enjoy a shower beneath the sky. How about you? Do you like an outdoor shower?

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How to Get Married in Mexico

Destination wedding are on the rise, and brides and grooms (and their familiies) look for ways to combine a special destination with their special event, and often roll their honeymoon into that same destination as well.  Mexico, despite going through some troubling times, still remains popular for destination weddings, probably because of its beautiful weather and resort. Regulations may vary between the Mexican states, so be certain to get current information from the place where you would like to have your ceremony.  And, as with any large and expensive travel plans, you should strongly consider travel insurance. Here are some general things to know if you’d like to get married in Mexico. First off, decide if you want an official, legal wedding or merely a ceremonial one.  A ceremonial one is every bit as lovely as a legal one, just […]

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Shopping in Tonalá, Mexico

Tonalá is a city of around 350,000 located near Guadalajara, in central Mexico.  The city is well known for its ceramics, glass, and other native arts and crafts, and you can see them all and the city’s open air markets held on Thursday and Sunday. Market days will find the neighborhoods full of goods displayed on the sidewalks, and often spilling out into the streets.  Ceramics, pottery, glassware, and papier mâché items are all good buys.  Bring cash for your shopping in the market.  Bring pesos, as most stalls will not take US currency. If you know a little Spanish it will come in handy.  Although many locals do speak a little English, there is some bargaining involved at the market, and it may very well take a combination of  Spanish, English, and some gestures, to make yourself understood.  If […]

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Karne Garibaldi: Good Food Fast in Guadalajara, Mexico

Fast food can be good food, and Karne Garibaldi (website is in Spanish) in Guadalajara, Mexico proves the point over and over again.  Whenever I’m in Guadalajara, you can bank on my having at least one meal at this casual restaurant whose claim to fame is the Guinness Book of Records (1996) entry for the fastest service.  They set the record at 13 1/2 seconds for a table of six. The service is so fast that before you’re even seated a group of waiters will arrive at your table bringing you appetizers to get started.  It’s a plate for of fresh, warm tortillas, served along with delicious grilled onions, refried beans with bits of corn in it (this Karne Garibaldi specialty is available for purchase by the can), and other condiments (chopped green onions, radishes) and salsa.  This is what […]

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Guadalajara Cathedral in the Central Historic District

Guadalajara is my favorite city in Mexico.  It is the capital city of Jalisco, and is the second largest city in the country behind Mexico City.  Guadalajara is a wonderful combination of cosmopolitan city and a historic center, blending the old with the new, the modern with the traditional, and the hip with the historic.  It is considered the Mexican equivalent of our Silicon Valley, with strong electronics and high tech industries. Contrast Guadalajara’s very modern business core with one of the oldest and most beautiful structures in the city – the Guadalajara Cathedral, a minor basilica that is part of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Guadalajara.  Located in the downtown Centro Histórico (Avenue 16 de Septiembre, Hidalgo y Morelos, map), the neo-Gothic towers of the Cathedral dominate the skyline. The Cathedral was originally built during the 16-17th century, and […]

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Mexico’s Alternative to Halloween – Dia de Muertos

I’m not a big fan of Halloween.  It’s not for any particular religious or cultural reason, I just don’t like dressing up in costumes and begging for candy.  OK, as adults that’s not exactly how we celebrate Halloween, but I don’t particularly care for the adult version of the holiday either. But, this is a great time to be in Mexico, as they prepare for the Dia de Muertos, or Day of the Dead celebration, an extended holiday time that covers Young Souls Day (October 31st), All Saints Day (November 1st) and All Souls Day (November 2nd). The celebration of the holiday varies within the country, but the observation of the Day of the Dead goes back to pre-Hispanic Mexico – back to the time of the Aztecs, Mayans, and other indigenous peoples of Mexico. The belief behind the celebration […]

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Luang Prabang, UNESCO World Heritage Site

Today I have a guest post from a recent friend, Sue Henly.  Sue and I met at a travel event, and charmed me with her Australian accent.  I think she’ll charm you with her writing as well. — In the soft grey light of early morning, we sit quietly on a bamboo mat, wicker baskets of sticky rice beside us, across from a shuttered colonial mansion heavy with bougainvillea.  Birds chatter in the flame trees until a gong sounds, momentarily startling them into silence. Around a corner, dozens of barefoot monks and novices appear in a swish of saffron, golden bowls hanging from orange shoulder straps.  Beside us, locals show us how to earn merit.  Men adorned with scarves over one shoulder as a mark of respect and kneeling women in traditional shawls put fistfuls of rice into the monks’ […]

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