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Showing posts with label World Travel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label World Travel. Show all posts

Canyoneering In Moab, Utah

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At first, I was a bit confused about the difference between caving ( also occasionally known as spelunking in the United States and Canada and potholing in the United Kingdom and Ireland ) and canyoneering.

In very lame terms : exploring Ape Caves or Guler Ice Caves is the most basic type of caving.

During my visit to Moab, I finally got a chance to try canyoneering and saw for myself how different it was from caving.

Again, when I say "caving" all I really mean is a" guided tour of a well explored and maintained cave". You don't really do anything strenuous, challenging, technical.

When it comes to canyoneering, even the most beginner friendly outing might not be suitable for everybody ( fear of heights anybody ? ).

Canyoneering is risky, it's physically demanding, but it's also tons of fun !

During my half day trip I had a chance to explore the beautiful Ephedra's Grotto.

It's a very popular trip, close to downtown Moab, and there are many companies that offer this great experience.

Honestly, I didn't expect much. Repelling down a 100+ feet rope wasn't anything new to me, but the place itself was absolutely amazing !

After walking through the washes and across the slickrock you come to the top of Ephedra's Grotto. You drop 60 feet down to a small ledge which you have to back yourself over and then rappel down another 30 feet. At the bottom you are surrounded by shear cliff walls on every side and so you can only hike out through a small slot opening.

The next repel is even more impressive !

Morning Glory Arch is the fifth largest natural bridge, spanning 243 feet. The first 40 feet you are along the wall but the remaining 70 feet you are suspended in air, surrounded by the beauty of the canyon walls, the arch above and the stream below.

If you have a chance, make sure this is the moment somebody is taking your pictures !

After you're done with repelling, it's 2.2 miles back to the car.

Though I visited both Canyonlands and Arches National Parks, Negro Bill Canyon was my hiking experience in Moab. This is a very popular trail in Moab. It follows a year round stream through a deep sandstone canyon among willows and cottonwoods and sandy trails for several miles ( Morning Glory Natural Bridge is its final destination ).

All in all, I'm happy that my first canyoneering experience took place in Moab !

Visiting Canyonlands And Arches National Parks

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One of my goals during my road trip was to visit our beautiful National Parks. I was warned against visiting the most popular parks during summer months. But I thought : " How bad could it be ? "

Well, it was pretty bad...

Canyonlands and Arches National Parks turn into circuses (or zoos, if you prefer that visual) in the summer : bumper-to-bumper traffic, waiting lines at scenic pulloffs, dealing with retards who after taking a picture decide to stay, and a general sense of frustration, all this detracts from the park experience.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not bitching or complaining. Both Canyonlands and Arches National Parks are amazing, beautiful and , hence, most visited parks. Everybody wants to see them, everybody wants to snap a "been here, done that, have a proof" picture...

But I was amazed how lazy, stupid and inconsiderate most people were !

At Canyonlands I saw people waiting in line to take a picture at popular Grand View Point when you could just walk for 100 feet and enjoy the same view.

At Arches, people would take a picture, and then would just sit under the arch ( Hello ! Get the fuck out of there ! I don't want your fat wife's ass in my picture ! )

Some people are so lazy they don't even bother to get out of their car to take a picture....

I overheard one family who said that " 1.5 mile hike to Delicate Arch is not worth it"

Despite how majestic it was, I couldn't wait to get the hell out of there.

Clearly, the best strategy to avoid dealing with the overcrowding at the most popular national parks is to stay away during the summer months. The key is to get to the park early in the day, visit the popular spots during off-peak hours, and then spend the rest of your time enjoying hiking,biking, and camping in backcountry areas and other out of the way places.

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Why Moab is # 3 On My "Ultimate Adventure Towns" List

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A few years ago National Geographic Adventure built the ultimate, state-by-state guide to top outdoor hubs across the country. These 100 adventure towns offer something for everyone, whether you love hiking, skiing, biking, kayaking, climbing, snowboarding, or a little bit of everything.

Out of 100, the two towns that I can personally vouch for are Bellingham and Leavenworth, both offer tons of outdoor opportunities any season of the year.

But during my recent road trip, with great pleasure I can add another "Ultimate Adventure Town" to my list - Moab !

Moab is music to the ears of outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy some of the best rock climbing, hiking, canyoneering, horseback riding, mountain and road biking, off-roading, camping and rafting the town has to offer.

Though I read a lot about Moab before, I couldn't imagine spending almost three days in this small town. And I didn't do/see even half of what it had to offer !

Moab is a spectacular location for outdoor sports, and the world's largest adventure playground. Yet,some of the most appealing activities in Moab can be found inside city limits.

The next few posts I'll write about some of the most popular outdoor sorts in Moab : hiking, mountain biking, canyoneering, and ... TANDEM BASE JUMPING !

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Hiking, Biking, And Sightseeing Salt Lake City

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After some unpleasant paddleboarding around the Great Salt Lake, I continued my way into the heart of Utah, and its capitol - Salt Lake City...

I think biking is the best way to learn about the place you're visiting. Cycling is a great way to view the spectacular landscapes, enjoy the crisp fresh air and visit numerous attractions.

The very first place I wanted to visit was Ensign Peak, one of Mormon historic sites around Salt Lake City, and Utah's most sacred mountain.

At an elevation of 5,414 feet, this mound-shaped peak is just minutes away from the Utah State Capitol.

I parked my car by Travel Information office ( which is right across from beautiful capitol building ), and biked to the park's trailhead ( the road to the park is strenuous uphill, so if you want , just drive your car to the park ).

The trail itself is relatively easy ( it's only about 1000 feet ) . Though it's about 1 mile round trip, it was my first time hiking in 80+ degree weather.

But it was totally worth it ! From the top, you have marvelous views out over the Salt Lake Valley and Great Salt Lake !

Biking downtown was a breeze ( literally, it was all downhill from the park ).

There are many beautiful churches in Salt Lake City, but Temple Square in Downtown Salt Lake City, is Utah's number one tourist attraction. On your visit to the 35 acres of Temple Square you will be able to see, feel, taste, touch and experience Mormon culture and its pioneer heritage.

You don't have to be a Mormon to enjoy this beautiful architecture !

Between biking and hiking to the top of Ensign Peak, biking around capitol building, and Temple Square it took me about 2 hours to get to know this great city...

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SUPing The Great Salt Lake

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 After biking the Bonneville Salt Flats, I was on my way to the capital of Utah - Salt Lake City. I've never been to this city before, and was fascinated to visit "Mormon Capital of the World".

Salt Lake City is an attractive, well-planned, architecturally unique town. But as you know me, doing the usual "touristy stuff" is not my way of traveling.

My first stop was the Great Salt Lake, after which the capitol was named ( the city was originally named "Great Salt Lake City"—the word "great" was dropped from the official name in 1868 ).
The lake's turquoise waters attract sailors, its white sand beaches are popular with swimmers and sunbathers, and craggy outcroppings on Antelope Island and some shoreline areas draw hikers and mountain bikers.

The Great Salt Lake is one of the most asked-about tourist destinations in Utah. A remnant of the massive ancient Lake Bonneville, the lake is now landlocked and its waters are salty. It is the largest lake between the Great Lakes and the Pacific Ocean, and is the largest saltwater lake in the Western Hemisphere.
At least, that's what I read about it when I was doing my research.

Great Salt Lake State Marina provides easy access to the lake from HWY 80, and that's where I came...Long story short, I was...disappointed...the Great Salt Lake was quite GROSS!

The whole place reeks of raw sewage. Decay of insects and other wildlife give the shore of the lake a distinctive odor. I could hardly launch my board, and thought that if I paddled further away from the shore, the water would be cleaner, but even away from the shore it was pretty disgusting.

At that point I wished I opted for visiting Antelope Island,the largest island of 10 islands located within the Great Salt Lake.
View a free-roaming herd of 500 bison, and pronghorn and bighorn sheep that share the rangelands. Hike, mountain bike or horseback ride along backcountry trails for spectacular views of Great Salt Lake and island scenery. Check in at the visitor center for maps and information on the island's unique biology, geology and history.
Sounds to me like I missed out on a whole lot of cool stuff :(

Well, may be next time ...

Biking The Bonneville Salt Flats

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I love reading travel blogs, and watching my fellow travelers' videos ! They give me so much inspiration, not to mention the information about new places to visit and new things to try.

I learned about the Bonneville Salt Flats from one of the travel blogs I've been following.
"Saltboarding" video looked so much fun !

So, while in Utah, I made the Bonneville Salt Flats one of "must-see places" to visit.

The famous Bonneville Speedway is located in the western portion of the flats, near Wendover. It is perfectly flat and has a thick crust of salty soil. It looks like a frozen lake bed covered with snow. No vegetation grows in that area.

There is NOTHING to see...just miles and miles of endless salt...

The Bonneville Salt Flats is one of the most unique natural features in Utah. If you travel in this state, make sure you make the Bonneville Salt Flats your travel destination.

Go for a bike ride, or take your car for a spin ! Unbelievable feeling !

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Hitting The Road

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Well, here it is, Thursday 7/6/12 , time to take off !

Did the last minute shopping, geared up ( SUP, mountain bike, camping, hiking gear ), stacked up on junk food... Looks like everything is ready...except...

...not sure exactly where I'm going...

The original plan was to drive to East Coast ( New York City ), then down south to Georgia ( to dive with whale sharks at Georgia Aquarium ), then Houston to visit a friend, and to do some tanker surfing, continue southwest ( hike/camp in Grand Canyon ), then jump up on HWY 1 to drive through Big Sur, and then back home ( with short stops at Crater Lake; to try sandboarding at Sand Master Park in Florence , and may be a few ski runs at Mt Hood )...

...but now the furthest ahead I've planned is Idaho :(

Have to admit, I'm a bit scared...also excited ... but mostly scared...

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HyperActive Great American Road Trip

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After reading about epic adventures of other people, and writing about some of my own semi-epic ones, I've finally decided to do something unimaginable before - to go on an epic adventure around this beautiful country !

The thought that I could do it, came to me after my trip to Mexico. I did a lot of driving around the Yucatán Peninsula, and now, I realize that if I could do it in Mexico, I sure can do it in USA !

They say that travel is mostly about dreams, and I know that as long as you have a dream, you can make it happen.

As a teenage boy, growing up in Russia, I had a dream of traveling to America. I didn't know how, I didn't know when, but I knew I would make it happen. My dream, from back then—from the time, when I first heard the name Kerouac—was of driving across the United States.

13 year after my arrival in this country, the dream of driving across America... is still a dream.

I did a lot of traveling around my state ( WA ), lived in Oregon and California, visited New Orleans on Mardi Gras, and traveled to Florida several times.

But mostly, over the past couple years, I've got to know this country by reading and writing about some of the most epic and unforgettable adventures : stand up paddle surfing in Hawaii; airboarding and sandboarding in Oregon; bungee surfing in Idaho, speed flying in Colorado; cavern diving in Florida; zorbing and zip lining in Pennsylvania; dog sledding in Michigan...

And now, I think it's time to fulfill my childhood dream, and see for myself all the beauty and diversity this country has to offer.

As Robert Louis Stevenson ( Scottish novelist, poet, essayist, and travel writer ) once said : “For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.”

For my part, through this journey I want to inspire my readers to travel adventurously. There is nothing wrong with traveling for travel's sake, or any other personal reason.

But I think that adventure isn't a single event but rather a different way of thinking that becomes a different way of approaching and living life.
Adventure thrills us, enlightens us, strengthens and stretches us, inspires us and answers our curiosity. It’s the most awake and aware life that we can lead.

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Tulum Mayan Ruins On Less Than $ 10

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Tulum, considered by many as the most beautiful of the Mayan Ruins sites around Cancun, is small but exquisitely poised on the fifteen-meter-high cliffs above the azure waters of the Caribbean Sea.
When I was planning my trip to Mexico, one of the things to do/see was "Visit Mayan Ruins".

I used to be a huge history buff. When I was a kid, my family traveled a lot, and every time we would visit a new town, my mom would make sure we see as many local museums and landmarks as possible. She was the one who taught me that travel wasn't just about snapping a picture in front of a monument or a landmark. For her, travel was a form of learning that exposes a person to cultures other than one's own and to places that have historical or cultural significance.

Since then, I always try to learn as much as possible about the place I'm about to visit. While I'm a big fan of guided adventure trips, I ( personally ) don't see value in popular "walking city tour".

That's why when I was researching trips to Tulum Mayan Ruins of the Yucatan Peninsula, I was a bit disappointed to see the prices for many tours ( though with transportation from Cancun ) to be as much $ 75-100.

Tulum is only 2 hour ( less if you drive like a real Mexican :)) from Cancun, and the Tulum Mayan Ruins are very easy to find just off the main 307 HWY

I paid just 55 pesos for parking and another 65 ( pesos ) for the access fee !

Was it worth it ? Yes and No

The ruins themselves are not much to look at. There are about 60 well preserved buildings on the site. The most significant of them have plaques with information in English, Spanish and Mayan.

These ruins' greatest attraction is its location. Mayan Ruins of Tulum are a spectacular site to behold. It stands on a bluff facing the rising sun looking out on views of the Caribbean that are nothing less than spectacular.

There are a few places to take a great pic, but the best one would be from the beach below with the ruins in the back. The beach is the attraction of its own. It's the most visited area of the archaeological site. Judging by the number of people it's even more popular than the ruins themselves.

NOTE: At the entrance you'll be offered "a guided tour with snorkeling". While they say that tour guides are well worth the price, make sure you'll ask if the snorkeling tour is at the beach or at nearby Akumal Bay ( beautiful reefs, lagoons and caves ! ). The ruins beach is quite small, with lot's of tourists, hence water visibility is bad which makes "snorkeling" pointless. Or you can just bring your own snorkeling gear.

But I won't deny, the place is a photographer's delight. But, honestly, I spent more time at the beach, than "exploring" the ruins. Yet, it's a nice day trip that can be combined with other attractions in the area.

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Cenote Diving In The Yucatan Peninsula

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A cenote is a natural phenomenon, a sinkhole in the Earth’s surface. Nearly everyone who visits the Yucatan Peninsula soon learns of this rather unique feature of the local landscape.

National Geographic listed "Dive Caves in the Yucatan" a must-do trip of their Ultimate Adventure Bucket List 2012

After my Cancun's Underwater Museum dive, cavern/cenote diving was next on my Bucket List.


Cave diving and cavern ( cenote ) diving are two different things. In short, you need the proper training and equipment for cave diving.
But for cenote diving all you need is an open water certificate.

The Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico has an estimated 7,000 cenotes, but only a dozen of them are open to recreational divers. There are a few companies and several dive stores that offer exciting excursions to some of the most beautiful cenotes close to Cancun and Playa del Carmen. My choice was The Reef Marina Dive Shop

One of the more popular in the area (due to proximity to Playa del Carmen), Chac Mool cenote has something for everyone from speolotherms galore and airdomes on the cavern tour to long penetration cave dives in both directions. But most important, it's a perfect beginner dive site !

I'm not even going to try to describe all the beauty and excitement of cenote diving ! You have to experience it for yourself. So far, this has been my ultimate diving experience ! Such a novelty can only be experienced; pictures and descriptions don't do it justice. Cenote diving is a mind blowing adventure, and I guarantee you, you'll come up to the surface speechless !



Though, in a cavern, you are always within sight of natural daylight, there are certain areas where you feel your mind playing tricks on you. Sometimes the closed in cave-like atmosphere can give those with claustrophobia real problems and the overhead restrictions of cavern diving demand good buoyancy control.

Also,Chac-Mool is one of the caverns which has a Halocline - his is where salt and fresh water come together creating "fascinating" visual effects. It gets blurry, so don't freak out, you're not loosing your mind :)

But all in all, diving in a cenote is very different from ocean diving and must truly be experienced to be fully appreciated. Divers who have floated through this amazing world will remember it forever !

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Driving And Car Rental In Mexico

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If I have to summarize everything in just one sentence, it would be this:


You've probably read the same about driving in Mexico in every travel guide:

“They’re all crazy!”
“It’s dangerous!”
“Don’t drive at night!”
“Watch out for armed bandidos and highway robbers!”

I grew up driving in Russia, I drove in the world's largest megalopolises like Moscow, New York and L.A. Driving in Seattle ( one of America's most traffic congested cities ) is no piece of cake either. But I've never seen that many retards behind the wheel as I saw in Mexico !

At first look, it may appear that there are no traffic rules at all. As it turned out later, there are some traffic rules, but all of them are "flexible based on circumstances".

In Mexico, it’s always Make Your Own Lane Day! Your lane is wherever you can fit. The speed limits in Mexico are largely ignored, with people driving at only one of two speeds: eye-clawingly slow or terrifyingly fast, a choice seemingly independent of the number of people crammed into their car or truck.

Another unique difference in Mexico is the proliferation of speed bumps, or topes. These aren’t your average "American speed bumps". They are usually gigantic and made of steel discs, not gently sloping concrete. If you hit one unaware at a high speed, you will damage your car.

Before leaving for Mexico, I read somewhere : " Police corruption used to be a major problem in Mexico, and as a result the government has cracked down big time. They routinely test officers by having undercover agents offer them bribes. That means that you shouldn’t go around expecting to offer cops money to get out of trouble. "

I got pulled over twice in Zona Hotelera in Cancun ( where, apparently, special "Tourist Police" is suppose to take extra care of visitors ). First they take your driver license, then they start "extorting" money from you. First time I paid 500 pesos, and the next time I gave the officer my car rental papers and told him to call the office about the ticket he was about to give me. He let me go.

As for renting a car in Mexico, Id' suggest to book online...but even that won't guarantee you won't be ripped off.

I rented a car through kayak.com from American Car Rental, the name that ( at least for me ) basically screams "trust us". Not only did it turn out to be a Mexican company where nobody could speak decent English, they took "cash deposit" ( $1750 ) from my debit card ( unlike in America where they take a slip of your credit card, and usually charge just $200-250 ) leaving me with no money for the next two days.

Driving in Mexico is definitely not an experience that you will soon forget. I'm sure they have traffic laws. Whether or not they are enforced seems completely arbitrary, so drive at your own risk. But remember, the number one cause of death for American tourists is traffic-related fatalities.

Also keep in mind :

The Mexican judicial system operates under Napoleonic law: offenders are presumed guilty until proven innocent.

What does it have to do with driving in Mexico ?

Read " Why You Don't Want to Have an Accident When Driving a Rental Car in Mexico "

One thing I wish I had during my travel around the Yucatan Peninsula is a road map. In US you can buy a paper road map ( of the state you travel round ) at ( almost ) every gas station, but in Mexico I had a hard time finding one. So if you don't have a smart phone, tablet or GPS make sure you get one of these maps:

Scuba Diving The Underwater Museum in Cancun

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Since the first time I heard about Cancun's Underwater Museum, I knew I absolutely had to do that ! So, I made "Scuba Diving The Underwater Museum in Cancun" my Bucket List goal. And if you know me, you know that if I set a goal, sooner or later I always achieve it !

That was my very first dive in the Yucatan Peninsula, and though, I heard and read some negative feedback about the museum dive, for me it was an awesome dive.

Unlike in Washington, diving in the crystal-clear Caribbean waters was warm enough even without a wet suit. Visibility was amazing ! The museum is a short boat ride from Cancun and near of Isla Mujeres ( another local landmark and a popular tourist destination ).

The sculptures sit on the seafloor in water that’s only 28-feet deep. Though the museum is ideal for divers and snorkelers alike ( there is a shallow portion just for snorkelers ), I doubt the experience would be the same.

Depending on which operator you go with, prices for certified divers average between $45 and $65 USD for one-tank dives ( all gear and the boat ride included; you might have to ask for a wet suit if you think you might get cold ).

PLEASE NOTE: The sculptures were designed to become artificial reefs and were constructed from special materials which promote marine life and create areas for corals to flourish and marine creatures to breed and take refuge. The appearance of the sculptures have changed over time as the coral had grown and marine life had colonized the structures.

So don't be disappointed if you can't clearly see every single detail of every single structure.

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Mexico Travel Tips : The Yucatan Peninsula

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According to Wiki:
Mexico is one of the most popular tourist countries on earth. Much of the tourist industry is centered around the beach resorts as well as the altiplano in the central part of the country. American tourists tend to predominate on the Baja peninsula and the more modernized beach resorts (Cancún, Puerto Vallarta)...
Visiting Mexico has been on my Bucket List for quite some time, and as soon as I got my new passport, I decided to make this dream come true !

For the last two years, there has been a lot of negative talk about traveling to Mexico. This spring, U.S. issued widest travel warning to Mexico since 2006. The U.S. State Department advised that United States citizens should avoid all "non essential" travel to 14 of 31 Mexican states.

Though the General Consul of Mexico, Roberto Rodriguez Hernandez, called the new U.S. warning an exaggeration, traveling to Mexico ( even it's traditional tourist destinations along the Mayan Riviera ) should not be taken lightly.

Here are a few tips I'd like to share that, hopefully, will make your trip safer and more enjoyable:

1 - Go All Inclusive.

Personally, it's not my style of traveling. I can hardly spend a few hours on the beach doing nothing. But if you're traveling to the Yucatan Peninsula, staying at one of those all inclusive resorts might be one of your best options. Here is why : Though "Mexican law" says that nobody can own a beach in this country, this is just a bunch of BS.

The whole Zona Hotelera in Cancun and Playa Del Carmen is dotted with resorts which closely guard their territory against "intruders". They don't have visitor parking, you can't buy shit at their bars and restaurants, and God forbids if you use one of their lounge chairs ( there are guards every 100 feet which makes you feel like you're in a very luxury prison ).

When you're staying at an all inclusive resort, all ( or most ) drinks, food, activities, rentals are included in the price. Resort staff speaks decent English, can get you a cab, or recommend a restaurant or an activity ( just remember, they DO get paid commission, so it's in THEIR best interest to recommend you that restaurant, club or a company ).

2- Don't even think about renting a car

I'll write another post about my misadventure with renting and driving in Mexico, but in short, renting a car in the Yucatan Peninsula is just a waste of money.


If you do decide to rent a car, you'd better be comfortable with bribing a government official. Believe me, it's quite an experience !

3 - Agree on the price before getting into a taxi

Set taxi fares before getting in. If you have a problem, take his number off the car & report it to your hotel. Have smaller bills ( pesos, of course ! ).

4 - Find best deals on tours and activities online

There are so many things to do and to see in the Yucatan Peninsula, that when I was planning me trip I was overwhelmed with the choices. But keep in mind that many of the same trips are "advertised" by many different "local independent travel reps". You'll see a lot of "travel tour booths" everywhere, and some of those "agents" are very annoying. They deliver no value, quite useless, and speak poor English. Usually, the prices are about 10-30% more than what you'd normally pay. One of the sites I found useful is Cancun Discounts.

5 - Using pesos is your best bet

I was advised against exchanging money at banks, yet I found banks that pay the most pesos for your buck. The only disadvantage is that you have to produce your passport ( unlike exchange houses ). Most ATMs at resorts give you American dollars, BUT ! I withdrew $200 , and the "commission' was ...$36 ! Street ATMs give you pesos. Credit cards are widely accepted, with Visa, MasterCard, and American Express being the most popular.

6 - Crossing a street in Mexico is not a privilege, it's a challenge.

YOU DO NOT have the right of way even in a cross walk or at a red light. Be on the defensive. Taxi & bus drivers do not have any education and think that the road holds 3 things; 1) Their vehicle, 2) Their garbage & 3) Their right of way. So RUN when crossing the street.

7- Don't worry, they "speak" English

Honestly, I didn't try to "communicate" with locals, but whenever I needed to buy something, or to be exact, whenever they tried to sell me some crap or to scam a few lousy pesos out of me, they spoke decent English.


You know the rule of thumbs - not to drink in Mexico, but I'd also avoid eating "authentic/street food". Not because it gives you monster diarrhea, but simply because you're not used to this type of food. Elote ( or Esquites ) at Mexico street stands is one of those things you must eat in Mexico ( I almost gagged the first time I saw it, but it turned out to be quit delicious ! )

9 - No free WI-FI for you, amigo

Seriously McDonald's, WTF is my free WI-FI ? You brought your shitty corporation to this country, but too cheap to give this poor people free internet ? Shame on you !

10 - Use sunscreen even on an overcast day.

I came back from my trip looking like a fried chicken, with my skin peeling from all that Cancun sun tanning. If you plan to spend an extensive period in the sun, ease your way into it over a week, use plenty of sunscreen, and avoid using any lotions or creams that contain alcohol.

The final and the most important tip that I'd like to share - remember, you are going to another country. Don't expect the world to fall at your feet. You can have an amazing cultural experience if you give a little, and in return you'll get a lot! Smile!

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Boarding The Bonneville Salt Flats

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You have no hills, dunes, snow, water or even sand. Just miles of flat, barren, white landscape - The Bonneville Salt Flats.

What to do ? Go boarding !

Ski and Surf Iceland

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Ski and surf Iceland ?! Why not ?!

I already wrote about great heli-skiing opportunities that Troll’s Peninsula in Iceland offers.

But not many people know Iceland as a great surfing destination.

With its serrated coast and miles of cobblestone-lined beaches,you’d be hard-pressed to find a more uniquely hard-core surfing destination, one that receives swell from all angles most of the year, and one that offers waves for surfers of all abilities.

Iceland - Stand Up Paddle from Blueline - Santa Barbara on Vimeo.

Check out Go There: Reykjanes Peninsula, Iceland for more information on surfing in Iceland.

Liberia smiling : SUP and surf in West Africa

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Liberia , officially the Republic of Liberia, is a country in West Africa. It is bordered by Sierra Leone on the west, Guinea on the north and Côte d'Ivoire on the east.

In 1980, a military coup overthrew the Americo-Liberian establishment marking the beginning of political and economic instability and two successive civil wars that left approximately 250,000 people dead and devastated the country's economy.

Today, Liberia is recovering from the lingering effects of the civil war and related economic dislocation, with about 85% of the population living below the international poverty line.

For now though, most of country's cultural wealth remains inaccessible to visitors, and independent travel outside of the country's capital Monrovia is not considered safe.

Though, Liberia is known around the world mostly for its brutal civil war, now people are discovering its potential in an unlikely area - surf tourism.

Liberia smiling from Fresh & Ready on Vimeo.

Iceland Heli- Skiing

It's hard to have ADD and to be XHyperActive...Eventually you get bored even with the most fun and exciting activities, hobbies, projects, jobs...

After have been working for almost 4 years as a ski instructor, I feel like I'm loosing interest in skiing; same ski area, same runs, same "snow conditions" ( don't get me wrong, as I like to say : " Stoke is stoke", but how stoke can one get skiing in pouring rain every week ? ).

I think all I need is a change of scenery...

Recently, I've been reading a lot about Iceland, the movie trailer "Heild" made a great impression on me.

Also, I found out that a round trip flight from Seattle to Reykjavik is less than $600 ( spring/early summer ), and in northern Iceland a place called Troll’s Peninsula offers some of the most amazing skiing under the midnight sun:

Would You Dive With Sharks ?

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Apparently lots of people are fascinated by sharks. Shark Week on Discovery Channel has been a great success for the past 24 years. Last year’s Shark Week brought in 30.8 million viewers. A Discovery rep says that the channel is stepping things up this year because “Shark Week” was frequently a trending topic on Twitter when it aired.

After watching sharks on television all week, if you should happen to find yourself inspired to see them in person, Discovery will give you the opportunity to have a shark experience of your own.

The network's adventure travel company Discovery Adventures offers four unique itineraries to the Galapagos Islands, where travelers will have the opportunity to see a variety of shark species –including Reef Sharks, Whale Sharks, and Hammerheads– in their natural environments.

I had my own up close and personal encounter with sand tiger sharks at The Florida Aquarium in Tampa Bay, but it was nothing comparing to diving in the Galapagos Islands.

A world class dive destination, Galapagos is listed as one of the seven underwater wonders of the world! With 27 species including hammerheads and the enormous whale shark diving with sharks is why people come to dive in the Galapagos Islands.

I put "Visiting/Diving the Galapagos " on my Bucket List. Have you ever wanted to dive with sharks ?

This Summer Try Jet Boating

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Skippers Canyon is a scenic attraction located about 30 kilometres from Queenstown Town, in the back country of the Queenstown region of New Zealand.

Known in adventure circles as 'Skippers Grand Canyon' the area encompasses 20 acres and is home to a variety of adventures, and jet boating is one of the most popular ones.

When you think about it, how much fun can one possibly have riding in a boat on a river ? I don't know... see for yourself :

It looked so amazing that now I want to try jet boating in our own Snake Canyon this summer.

Epic SUPing: Paddling Iceland

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Iceland...The Land of Fire and Ice, geo-thermal pools, glaciers, active volcanoes, northern lights in winter and 24 hours of daylight in summer,...and now a popular surfing and SUPing destination...

The crew from Blueline Paddle Surf and talented filmmaker Peter Trow show you epic SUPing deep in the Arctic Circle, surfing’s last frontiers :

Iceland - Stand Up Paddle from Blueline - Santa Barbara on Vimeo.
If you find yourself in Iceland some day ( I know I will ), check out Arctic Surfers, the country’s first surf-tour operator. Their "Surf & Snow" trip is the board riders dream; surf, ride and explore new turf with great guides in spectacular surroundings !