Jordan, Singapore, & Australia: 12/03 – 12/09

(Jordan) Wadi Musa >>> (United Arab Emirates) Abu Dhabi >>> (Indonesia) Jakarta >>> (Singapore) >>> (Australia) Cairns

12/3 – Exploring Petra and Quoting Indiana Jones!
12/4 – Minibus North to Amman and then Fly to Abu Dhabi
12/5 – Fly to Jakarta, Indonesia and then to Singapore! Meet up with our friend Tita!
12/6 – Hang out at Tita’s Apartment, Hawker Food for Dinner, and a Stroll along the River.
12/7 – Singaporean Satay Food, Gardens By the Bay, and Exploring the City by Foot!
12/8 – Relaxing Day at Tita’s Apartment Complex, Fly to Bali!
12/9 – Fly to Cairns, Check into Hostel and Explore Cairns

Continue reading “Jordan, Singapore, & Australia: 12/03 – 12/09”

Greece: 11/12 – 11/18

Athens >>> Fira (Santorini)
11/12 – Visited The Acropolis, The Parthenon, and The Acropolis Museum
11/13 – Leave Athens and Fly to Santorini
11/14 – Explore Fira and Grocery Extravaganza!
11/15 – Relax in our Villa Suite and Lots of Research and Planning
11/16 – Hike from Fira to Oia and Watch Sunset.
11/17 – Rent a car and explore all of Santorini with Josh and Kara
11/18 – Lounge around Milo’s Villas and Enjoy the Views

Continue reading “Greece: 11/12 – 11/18”

Italy & Switzerland: 10/15 – 10/21

Rome >>> Florence >>> Cinque Terre >>> (Switzerland) Zermatt >>>
Lauterbrunnen >>> Swiss National Park

10/15 – Explore Rome: The Colosseum, Roman Forum, and The Pantheon!
10/16 – Pick up Campervan and travel north to Florence and Tuscany area
10/17 – Wine Tasting in the Chianti Region of Tuscany and The Leaning Tower of Pisa
10/18 – Exploring Cinque Terre and drive North to Switzerland
10/19 – Train up to Zermatt and Hiking around The Matterhorn!
10/20 – The Rhone Glacier, Furkapass, Interlaken, and Lauterbrunnen
10/21 – Admiring Lauterbrunnen and the Jungfrau region, Dinner in Lucerne, Drive to Swiss National Park

Continue reading “Italy & Switzerland: 10/15 – 10/21”

Ecuador & Peru: 5/14 – 5/20

Salinas >>> (Peru) Chiclayo >>> Chachapoyas >>> Huaraz

5/14 – Bike ride to see sea lions and then the spicy burger challenge!
5/15 – Rest Day in Salinas and Bus Ride into Peru
5/16 – Arrive in Chiclayo and wait for the night bus to Chachapoyas
5/17 – Planning Day in Chachapoyas
5/18 – Gocta Falls
5/19 – Kuelap Ruins
5/20 – Jumping from bus to bus until we made it to Huaraz

Continue reading “Ecuador & Peru: 5/14 – 5/20”

Honduras: 1/29 – 2/5

 

Antigua >>> Copan >>> Utila >>> La Ceiba

1/29
+ After only a few hours of sleep, our shuttle bus picked us up at 4am from our hostel for our 7 hour journey into Honduras.
+ We tried to sleep most the way but were not very successful.
+ Finally said goodbye to Guatemala after about 3 weeks and crossed the border and arrived in Copan, Honduras around 11am.
+ Explored the town and ate authentic street food for lunch.
+ Walked to different bus stations and mutual travel agencies to find out information about onward travel to Utila.
+ Napped back at our hostel “Berakah”.
+ Delicious (and fancy) dinner at Twisted Tanya’s. Corey had jalapeño filet mignon and Liz had ravioli.
+ Corey watched “The Avengers” in Spanish on TV while Liz organized pictures on the tablet.

1/30
+ Woke up to our hostel (and the entire town) not having any electricity or water. Fun!
+ Wandered around town until we found a good breakfast/lunch spot.
+ Afterwards, we had a 20 minute hike out to the main attraction of the town, the Copan Ruins.
+ Explored the ruins and surrounding nature trails for a few hours. We saw a few Agouti, a Honduran deer!, a Capuchin monkey (looked exactly like Marcel from “Friends”!), and tons of wild Macaws!
+ After finishing with the ruins, we sat under some trees and watched the Macaws eat, argue, and fly all around us. Really cool!
+ Walked back into town and caught a Tuk-Tuk to the “Tea & Chocolate Place”, a neat family run reforestation project.
+ After sampling their various noni tea, chocolate (with fresh cacao beans) and homemade hot sauces, we relaxed in hammocks, drank some delicious chocolate, and watched the sunset over the jungle.
+ Ate dinner at multiple street food stands  (tacos and kebabs!)
+ On a quest to find a shop willing to make change for our large bills, we met the owner of a dive center/hotel on Guanaja (the 3rd bay island). He was very nice and his hotel sounded great! Unfortunately Guanaja is very remote and only accessed via express air charter. So we don’t think we’ll get to it on this backpacking trip, but hopefully in the future!

1/31
+ Woke up early to catch 6 am bus to La Ceiba. We decided to forego the direct tourist shuttle because it was 3 times the price of the local bus. When we arrived at the local bus station, the 6am bus was not the same as advertised and was actually an old school bus with updated seats. Because of the savings, we hopped on anyway for the projected 7-10 hour ride.
+ We connected in San Pedro Sula (yes THE San Pedro Sula everyone says to avoid because of high murder rates) and boarded another bus for the 3ish hour ride to La Ceiba.
+ Liz somehow managed to sleep for the majority of BOTH bus rides! Now that’s talent! Corey caught up on a few movies (Daddy’s Home, Creed, South Park).
+ After arriving in La Ceiba a few of us backpackers all split 2 cabs to get to the dock for the Utila ferry.
+ The cab drivers dropped us off at the ferry for the Utila Dream. We all bought tickets and dropped off our bags to be loaded on the boat. Only after this did we all realize that there is a much cheaper ferry a block down the road! We were so frazzled from our long day of travel, that our whole group of backpackers did not even bother to look for other ferry options! Despite our online research about the ferry, nothing mentioned the 2 different companies with such different price points! We were frustrated that we had saved money on the bus but then lost it again with the more expensive ferry. Oh well. We live and learn.
+ We talked with a friendly traveller (Cait) from Massachusets on the 45 min boat ride to Utila on the large catamaran.
+ After arriving at the ferry dock, we found Captain Morgan’s dive center, checked in to stay, and signed up for dives starting the next day.
+ Ate dinner at the sports bar “Skid Row” so Corey could watch the Pro Bowl. It was awesome.

2/1
+ Woke up at 6:45 am and got ready for diving!
+ Dove 1 dive on the Northside and 1 dive closer to the Southside of the island. The Northside is supposed to have better chances for spotting Whale Sharks as well as better visibility for diving. This was Liz’s first dive in 3 years!
+ On this dive we saw a giant spider crab ( similar to those you would see in Alaska!), a lobster (possibly dead?), and tons of different kinds of fish.
+ Spent the afternoon exploring the rest of the island (looking for good, cheap restaurants) and talking with other dive shops.
+ Ate dinner at Munchies with super cheap pasta special! Yum!
+ Spent the rest of the evening talking to a really nice couple, Gio (a girl from California who majored in biology) and a local Utila guy.

2/2
+ Decided to snorkel instead of diving today to save some extra money, but still went out on the dive boat at the same time in the morning.
+ Snorkeled 2 different sites again (1 north, 1 south), saw a moray eel swimming along the reef, a bunch of trigger fish, and a huge nurse shark (probably 9-10 feet long) just hanging out under a reef shelf!
+ Back at the hostel we showered, packed up, and checked out of our hostel. (We decided that we wanted to try out another company while on the island to better our luck of finding whale sharks!)
+ We ate lunch at a local hotspot called Rehab (famous for their drinking challenge, though we did not partake).
+ Checked into our new place, Altons, on the other side of the island. Spent the afternoon watching “The Rock” in the hang out area and updating the blog.
+ Went out for dinner, stopped to check prices at a party restaurant called “Underwater Vision” and started talking with a nice older couple from Wisconsin! (Right up near where Liz’s family is from!). Ended up eating wings (the 2nd time in 1 day for Corey!) and staying the whole time.
+ Hung out back at our dive hotel and did some blog work while watching “Drive” on tv.

2/3
+ Woke up early again (like our 4th day in a row! Ugh.) to meet our new dive master and get gear ready for our 2 north side dives today.
+ Both of these dives were way more impressive than the 2 previous sites. We explored 2 seamounts with surrounding mazes. (Spur and groove reef)
+ Tons of schooling fish, multiple moray eels, 1 large burrfish (similar to pufferfish), 1 sneaky (and large) barracuda hiding behind the school of fish and 2 cow fish!
+ Corey was an expert at spotting the eels both sleeping and swimming! He pointed them out to the group multiple times!
+ In between the 2 dives, the boat captains are always on the lookout for dolphins, pilot whales or whale sharks to snorkel with. On this trip he spotted some dolphins! Corey and I thought it would be a huge group of dolphins hanging out but only after getting in the water did we realize it was only about 6 dolphins who were swimming by. Liz could see them but was no where close. Corey was able to swim along behind them for about 30 seconds, but because the dolphins were already on the move, none of us snorkeling were able to keep up. We all climbed back in the boat and continued on to the 2nd dive site.
+ After we returned to the dock at Alton’s, we changed and found lunch at a nearby restaurant.
+ We wanted to do a night dive, but Alton’s was charging more than we wanted to spend. We spent the afternoon price checking other dive centers on the island.
+ While diving can be awesome, it is a very expensive hobby! Utila is known for some of the cheapest diving in the world, but diving everyday can still far exceed a backpacker budget.
+ We stopped by the Whale Shark and Oceanic  Research Center here on the island to talk to them about looking for whale sharks. They explained that when pilots are flying between Utila and the mainland, they let the research center know where they have spotted whale sharks. The good news is the research center does not need to drive around randomly looking for the sharks and has a much better chance of actually seeing them. The bad news is no one has seen any sign of the Whale sharks for a few weeks.
+ Watched sunset at Alton’s in the chairs on the dock.
+ Ate dinner at stir fry place that is only open a few days a week. It was delicious and huge portions!
+ After dinner, we walked over to this dock people had mentioned had some wildlife at night. After looking around for a bit we saw tons of huge tarpon hanging out and a few spotted eagle rays swam by!

2/4
+ Ate breakfast at Alton’s and then lounged around in hammocks on the dock before checking in at Underwater Vision.
+ Took a tuk tuk to Coral View. (Small bar with shore access reef at the end of the Utila lagoon)
+ The snorkeling was way better than either of us expected! We were in the water for over 2 hours! The reef was very shallow in some areas and very deep in others. We saw multiple eagle rays, 2 puffer fish, christmas tree worms, TONS of different fish (wrasse, tangs, damsel fish, few groupers, etc.)
+ Caught a tuk tuk back into town and ate lunch of pizza and then split a lionfish burger! Yum! Tasted very similar to crab cake.
+ Came back to Underwater Vision and got fitted with gear for the night dive.
+ This was our first night dive since we got our Advanced Open Water certifications at FSU!
+ The night dive was really awesome and filled with all sorts of cool creatures that are more active and visible at night. We saw 2 octopus, a bunch of shrimp, lobster, a brittle star, and a tiny eel.
+ Throughout the dive we were all swarmed by fish that were attracted to our lights to feed on the illuminated micro organisms! The fish ranged in size from a minnow to the size of Liz’s hand! They were nibbling our hands and arms as they swarmed around us swimming at top speed and bumping into our faces. It was quite the experience.
+ The coolest part was when we all turned off our lights so that we could see the bioluminescence in the water! Simply by moving our arms and legs around, the water would light up with a glowing neon green color with all of the micro organisms that were being disturbed. Super cool!
+ After our dive was over, we all hopped right back into the water without our dive gear just to swim around and see more bioluminescence.
+ We spent the boat ride back alternating between staring at the bioluminescence from the boat disturbing the water below and the magnificent display of stars above.
+ After a quick clean up of our gear for the last time on Utila, we skipped the roudy party scene at our hostel in favor of hanging out with our friend Cait we had met on the way over to Utila.
+ We ended up spending the rest of the night talking with her, a nice girl named Lola, and the coolest bartender on the island, Tom(?). He even kept the bar open for us after hours since we were having such a good time hanging out.
+ On the way back home we grabbed a good street taco to supplement the pizza we had earlier, then packed up our bags back at the room to leave Utila the next day.

2/5
+ Our initial plan was to go snorkeling for 1 last time in the morning from the dive boat, but the water was too choppy and the bed too comfortable so we chose a lazy and relaxing morning instead.
+ After a quick ATM visit and settling up with our hostel, we ate lunch on the dock at Altons and then set off to explore the other end of the island.
+ Walked by some building with very large walls with barbed wire on top and the gate said “King Kong Gate” on it. We nervously chuckled at how that wasn’t possible, and then hurried along just in case.
+ At the end of our walk was a nice public beach/park with Iguanas and a nice snorkeling area, although the wind was still too strong on this day so we cut our visit short and headed back.
+ We spent the remaining hour or so before our ferry was to depart lounging in hammocks and soaking up the last bits of island life before heading back to the mainland.
+ Our ferry ride back was still very smooth despite the much larger waves and we were glad we were in the bigger, more expensive ferry to avoid any potential sea sickness (that we heard happens often with the cheaper, smaller ferry). Plus we still had our free sodas to comfort us.
+ We were met at the gate by our free shuttle driver to the Jungle River Lodge we would be staying at for the next few nights. We were joined by a nice British guy named Liam and after a brief tour of the city and a quick 30 minute taxi ride, we arrived at our new hostel in the jungle. The perfect weather we were blessed with in Utila gave way to about 18 hours straight of rain and much cooler temperatures at our higher altitude.
+ We ate dinner right at the hostel and caught up on work with the tablets before watching the final 80% of “The Fugitive” (Liz had only ever seen the first 20% about 5 different times).

Click here for more photos of our time in Honduras!

Mexico and Belize: Daily Itinerary: 12/25/15 to 12/31/15

Hello everyone! I’ll also be posting our daily itineraries here. We’ve made a habit of keeping these logs on our trips to remind us of all the little things that are often forgotten. Feel free to only read our summary posts or dive right in and read the nitty gritty too!

***WordPress is giving me problems uploading our pictures so we will  be adding the majority of pictures to facebook.  https://www.facebook.com/farawayfloridians

Cancun 》》》Play Del Carmen》》》 Tulum 》》》 Chetumal 》》》 Belize City

December 25th:
+ Arrived in cancun.
+Found shuttle to take us to suites costa blanca
+Walk to public beaches
+walk around touristy area
+used atm for 1st time
+ate at small taco place next door to Mextreme  (waiters carried the margaritas stacked on their head at Mextreme!)
+research at Starbucks (wifi at our hotel was unreliable)

12/26
+research and breakfast at Starbucks
+rode city bus to ado station with mexican singer
+jumped on bus to playa!
+checked in to enjoy playa hostel
+walked around 5th Avenue ( just like Duval street)
+ate at El pirate — — we asked local what caramon meant- she said (with accent) “shrimp”and corey said “sheep? baaaa” and the lady said si!  Lolololol—–
+researched until 3am. Then both climbed ladders to top bunks.  Felt like ninja warrior lololol

12/27
+bought new daypack. The one we have was two small for gear for 2 people.
+caught bus to Tulum
+ found secret garden hostel (next night’s accomodation). Met Medi- very helpful with tips for getting around
+ got caught in light rain as we walked to Hostel Che for the night. dug out rain covers for bags. walked a block and realized we matched our rain covers! corey was wearing blue shirt and carrying two blue bags. I was wearing pink shirt and had my giant pink rain cover!
+ ate at papaya pizza for dinner

12/28
+saw an agouti???
+ rode 2nd class bus to Coba. Standing room only for 1hr ride
+ met Wisconsin friend (“Deepo?”) Who lives in Thornton park! Gave out our first contact card!
+explored Coba by bike ( liz enjoyed tiny child’s bike)
+ chatted with family from Winston Salem usa. I noted the Mayan engraving looked like a tea kettle NC family laughed
+checked in to secret garden hotel
+rented bikes.
+ rode bikes to beach side of tulum.— lots of stars at night , we were happy we had our headlamps! Very dark. Fireflies??
+ stopped at giant mega supermarket for groceries
+rode back to hotel , then ate at small taco restaurant with meat and pineapple on a spit

12/29
+rode bikes and took collectivo to tulum ruins.
+saw 2 coatimundi as we walked into ruins!
+entered tulum ruins by 8 to beat crazy crowds! Saw giant white iguana
+caught collectivo  to dos ojos. Snorkeled Dos ojos. Bats flying overhead! Tiny fish in the water lots of cave diving!
+ caught ride back to dos Ojos base with nice couple from Mexico City
+rode collectivo back to bikes. (Lots of women in fancy white clothes with tons of makeup- going to a party?)
+rode bikes back to shop and returned.
+ate at roadside quesadilla and sopa shop
+made it to bus station just in time
+arrived in chetumal. Got crazy bread from little Ceasars.
+taxi to Hostel Paakal. Fell asleep by 9!

12/30
+ slept in
+ walked to bus station to find out about Belize tickets
+ took a taxi to Lago bacalar
+swam in Lago bacalar. Directed taxi how to get back to hostel
+ate dinner at Foresteros. They took our picture and put it up on screen. Silly.
+ researched

12/31
+ met Amy from NC at Paakal hostel. Also headed to caye caulker
+ caught chicken bus to Belize city
+ crossed Mexican border and paid exit tax.
+ went through customs at Belize border
+ jumped off bus at right moment to walk across the street to hotel “Red Hut Inn”
+ owner Luis, made us dinner. Delicious fish, potatoes and cilantro salad
+met and ate dinner with nice french woman traveling alone. Discussed her past travels: costa rica, laos, etc
+celebrated the new year with a nice couple from DC area! Shared some champagne and Belizean Rum made down the road from our Inn.

 

Check Facebook for more pictures!
Here’s the link for more pictures from Mexico!
(or copy and paste this into your browser https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.1703665793185494.1073741830.1688063604745713&type=1&l=8f16d4c157 )

 

Casa Sweet Casa

UPDATE: Posting this from the water taxi station in Belize City! More pictures to come! Happy New Year everyone!


Alright! I finally found time to update the blog! I’m stealing a few minutes here in Chetumal, Mexico to get you a quick update (while also keeping an eye on the FSU bowl game on our tablet here. Go Noles!)

Being as we are still in the holiday season (the high season), all of Mexico has been incredibly busy. We have only been able to book one night at a time, up until our 2 night stay here in Chetumal. This does not make it easy to relax and “travel slowly” as we are packing up and moving every day.

That being said, I’ll share some pictures below of our accomodations in Mexico! (Click the tile for a bigger view) We’ve stayed in suites, hotels, hostels and an inn. Each place has been completely different. Some surpassing expectations and some not quite meeting them… All part of the adventure!

Cities Visited:

  • Cancun
  • Playa del Carmen
  • Tulum (our favorite)
  • Chetumal
  • Belize City

Sites Seen: (pictures coming soon! I promise)

  •  Cancun tourist hub
  •  Playa Del Carmen tourist hub (very similar to Duval Street in Key West)
  • Tulum: Beach
  • 2 coatimundi ran across our path at the Tulum ruins! (monkey+racoon like animals) Click here to see what I’m talking about.
  • Coba ruins
  • Tulum ruins
  • Dos Ojos Cenote
  • Lago Bacalar
  • Mexican life!

Observations:
Poor Corey bumps his head A LOT due to his height.
We need to work on our Spanish. (spanish school in Guatemala here we come!)
Mexico is full of friendly people.
No two hostels/hotels/inns are EVER the same.

In a few minutes, we are leaving to grab a “chicken bus” and cross the border to Belize!”

Adios Mexico!