Tulum, Mexico

When you are ready to go another gear lower than Cancun and Playa del Carmen, get closer to nature and really chill out, then take a 50 minute bus ride farther south from Playa, to Tulum. Known for its Mayan ruins overlooking the ocean, Tulum has attracted backpackers for more than 15 years. Tourism has steadily grown with all budgets now catered for, while still retaining the low-key feeling of a relaxed town by the beach.

Essentially Tulum comes in two parts, the town with restaurants, grocery stores, the bus station and several hotels and the long stretch of beach 3km away.  Lining the beach is a long, low key stretch of hotels and cabanas. North of those are the famous Tulum ruins with an incredible ocean backdrop. Working north to south the hotels go from backpacker to simple beach side cabanas, and then up to honeymoon retreats with full hotel service on offer.

Beyond that is the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve (www.cesiak.org), a Unesco World Heritage Site and home to a rich collection of mangroves, reefs and rare sea turtles who come to lay their eggs on the beach.  Both day trips and overnights are possible from Tulum, with hikes and kayaks available to observe the wildlife. But costs are higher than local prices and the official cabins are the only form of accommodation if you prefer to overnight it in the Reserve. With Tulum’s beach hotels sequestered to a single country road, Tulum is much more immersed in nature. There is one main grocery store but otherwise you are in the middle of nature, with the ocean on your left and jungle and the occasional house and restaurant on your right as you travel southward.  The turquoise ocean and fine, white sand are out of the pages of a glossy brochure. In low season, from Mexican Independence Day (16 September) to early December, you could well score your very own piece of waterfront paradise. Low season also means low prices but some of the restaurants may have limited hours or be closed completely.
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Halloween in New Orleans

Halloween!!! My favorite holiday. An excuse to dress up, eat lots of candy and chocolate. A If you are into Halloween as much as I am… then you will definitely look into making New Orleans your next Halloween destination. I have never in my life seen such a big party.  The entire town turns into a big party. First there is Voodoofest, the annual music festival that takes place in City Park. Then there is the french quarter. Almost EVERYONE is dressed up in the most amazing and creative costumes I have ever seen. For a real street/block party there is Frenchman’s street. It was truly the best street/dance party I have ever been to. And the best part is that everyone is having a good time. There is no pretentiousness about it. No entrance fee, no one is there to judge you. Everyone is there to have a good time.

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Attention lovers of red meat and red wine… La Boca is calling. (Warehouse District, New Orleans)

My partner in crime took me to La Boca last night for my birthday. We have been trying to go to this wonderful, tiny and romantic restaurant for some time, however, every time we made an attempt it was too busy or fully booked. I recommend calling in advance to make reservations since this is a popular spot in New Orleans. The ambiance, meal and service were all fantastic.

You’ll be greeted at the door by the friendly Orestes Rodriguez who will take you to one of the dimly lit tables in this small and cozy restaurant.  The menu is simple and authentic: they offer steaks and other Argentine specialities. We ordered the Provoleta (Grilled Argentine Cheese) for starters…. it was fantastic (not recommended for the calorie counters amongst us) the grilled cheese is drenched in olive oil and requires one to dip bread into the warm and soft cheese. It was paired with a glass of the Malbec. For our main dishes we ordered: Steaks. My partner ordered the hanger steak (centro de Entrana) and for myself the wonderfully delicious fillet marinated in garlic and lime juice. Don’t forget to order the yummy garlic-drenched mouth watering fries. The steak is accompanied by house made chimichurri sauce (an Argentine specialty) and two other creations by the La Boca chefs. Our experience was really great and I really recommend those visiting New Orleans to step out of the french quarter and into the warehouse district to taste some of the specialities of this amazing Argentine delight. [$$$/Zagat Rated]

La Boca on Urbanspoon
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