Las Vegas


Sin City isn’t just about legalized gambling and prostitution; it has so much more to offer than people think. I’ve been to Vegas quite a few times and wasted my afternoons at poolsides sipping colorful drinks with umbrellas, exploring the insides of all the fancy hotels and being taken in by the lights and shows. But there is more to Vegas than that and once you’re done relaxing it’s time to explore!

On one of my solo trips to Vegas, I decided to explore nature. I looked up in TripAdvisor the best hikes and headed over to Red Rock Canyon which is only a 35 minute drive from the strip. I spent my afternoon in the sun with fresh air covered in dirt. I love a day where I end up covered in dirt. I explored the area, studied the cacti until about sunset.

S O R R O W 
I didn’t have anywhere to stay that night and things got a little pricey at the last minute. So I thought I’d try something a little adventurous and booked a $17 bed at “Hostel Cat” figuring I’d at least make some new friends and get some interesting stories. It did not disappoint. As I drove up to the hostel there were two strippers outside on a swing. Already proving interesting. I felt a little uneasy as I realized I wasn’t in the best part of the strip. A part I had yet to discover. When I got inside I was given a code and instructions. Once inside the main gate, after two codes that change daily, I felt a bit safer. I chose the mixed bed dorm as I usually make more friends with guys than girls, who in my experience tend to be cliquish and extra messy. I secured my belongings, showered and headed to the common area to make friends.

img_2190I just happened to be there for the first Friday of the month. All the food trucks were out, local bands, artists and performers. We had a great time and I highly recommend it. As many nights in Vegas end, we ended up at a local dive gay bar. Thank goodness for my new hostel mates because a lesbian couple tried to make me their new roommate!

The next day one of my best friends just so happened to be in town so we made a lunch and headed out to the Hoover Dam. If you haven’t been, it’s a landmark worth seeing. Powering three states with electricity, the Hoover Dam supplies power to over 18 million people. Where Mother Nature is never a force to reckon with on its own, absolutely never mess with a construction where man and nature combine forces. The death toll numbers are controversial from even the birth of the construction; the death from flooding, accidents and the suicides are incalculable. There is definitely an eerie feeling when you look over the edge of the railing. Honestly, it was so fascinating and you can even cross another state border off your list if that’s your sort of thing. We saw loads of military helicopters and airplanes circling above and we came up with a couple of good conspiracy theories about Area 51. The drive back is a bit brutal with traffic (especially with a full bladder) so I recommend you time the drive home around the traffic.

We made it back in time to hit up a couple of poolside happy hours and if you plan Vegas properly it doesn’t have to be expensive. As soon as you land in Vegas and Instagram your selfies with #vegas or anything similar, club promoters will start messaging you with deals. I personally am not a club person although I’ve had some pretty memorable experiences in some; usually ending the night with at least one marriage proposal. I’ve had a guy give my friends $100 to promise to keep me safe. (They gave him change as $100 seemed like too much for me at the time; apparently I need new friends.) I’m more of a dive bar kinda girl and people watching is my main game. Vegas dive bars are like “people of Wal-Mart” on steroids at prime time. Everyone has a story and they all are waiting to tell you if you’re up for it. Be ready to hear a lot of doom and gloom and tons of terrible decisions. It’s amazing!

img_4356Another highlight of Vegas and what would America’s City of Sin be without the tastiest of the deadly sins… Las Vegas buffets. You can eat your way around the world for $25-$200 depending on your quality of poison. Again, I’m not really one for flash and crowds so you can usually find me people watching and soaking up that cheap happy hour booze with $5 steak and eggs or at Ellis Island where they have steak, gambling and Karaoke.



There is something for every budget and lifestyle in Vegas. I’m not much of a gambler,personally, but occasionally you can find me at the wheel of fortune slot machine earning some free drinks. If gambling isn’t your thing, you can hike, learn history, site see, live your flashiest life or finally get that envious “hangover movie” kind of night and wake up with a tiger. I was accidentally an extra in a movie once while tanning by the pool. The world is yours in Vegas and all the possibilities are at your fingertips. Careful what you wish for and live semi responsibly, you could also end up at a drive thru Elvis chapel marrying a stranger… it is Vegas after all.



~By:  Julie

I’m kind of embarrassed to admit this but I’ll be honest… we only went to Lake Titicaca so that we could check in there. It was a bucket list place I’d wanted to check off ever since the name first gave me the giggles in middle school. The reports we were getting back from other travelers really weren’t that exciting however. We had just conquered Machu Picchu and were heading over by land to Bolivia; Lake Titicaca is sandwiched in the middle of two amazing destinations but with underwhelming feedback.
We arrived in Puno, Peru and had set aside two nights as we had some last minute errands to fulfill before crossing the Bolivian border. As Americans it’s much more difficult to cross and we were trying to have everything checked off the list to be extremely prepared after reading many horror stories and having to help our friend with his difficult entry at LaPaz airport a few days prior. We spent the day making copies of our itineraries, departure flights, passport copies, yellow fever vaccination cards, and hostel accommodations. Nothing is ever as easy as you would think. It honestly took an entire afternoon just to print all the documents for 4 girls. Meanwhile the electrical power in Puno was going in and out the entire time we were there, and luckily we were able to print off all our necessary copies before the electricity went out for good the rest of the night. After we finally completed all our errands we had time to book a tour the next day to explore the local area.

For 15 USD each, we booked a half day boat tour through our hostel to visit the Uros Indians. We had heard of the floating islands but we had no idea what was in store. We thought we booked an English-guided tour but as most things in South America… things aren’t as they seem. We started calling the entire trip the vacation of “alternative facts.” Long story short, I end up translating for the entire tour group. The Uros chief, called a President, explained in Uru how the islands were made and how they lived, then our guide would translate from Uru into Spanish and then I would translate into English and help answer everyone’s questions about the islands and the people.

So here’s what I learned from the President of the Uros: first they used to live in large reed boats that they jokingly like to call a “Mercedes-Benz,” on Lake Titicaca (pronounced ti-ti-kok) which means Puma Rock Lake. Turn a map of Lake Titicaca upside down and you can see a puma chasing a rabbit. They had whole extended families living in each boat, but because they liked to have so many kids, they needed to expand, hence building floating reed islands. They had to keep moving their islands to protect themselves from the Incas and the Spaniards but they kept their traditional lifestyles intact for centuries. Each island uses ten different anchors to keep it anchored on the Peruvian side of Titicaca so as not to float too far over to Bolivia. The Uros President laughed explaining, “Because we don’t have passports!” The islands grow these incredible reeds that they use not just as nutrition, but also to make rope, boats, medicines, beds, houses, and literally everything they have including the ground they walk on. Every 20-30 days they have to make a new layer of reed floor for the island because the reeds deteriorate and they would sink otherwise. There are over 40 islands and each reed island lasts approximately 30 years. The President explained to us that he is elected to represent his island and family for one year; his function is to maintain and organize their family islands. Presidents can either be male or female. There are 17 in total and one President overall to represent their indigenous tribe to the Peruvian government.

The Uros rarely get sick– they usually feel ill only 2-3 days and then get well again. Their old ancestors used to live over 120 years old but the President said that was because they lived so traditionally and subsisted mostly from fish fresh caught from the lake. There are currently about 80 varieties of fish in the lake but they are starting to rapidly disappear. The Uros mainly eat fish, birds, and rice, but now they don’t live as long. The President said that duck is their favorite– it’s “more delicious than chicken!” Given that the Uros mainly live from fishing the lake, the disappearance of native fish is harming their livelihood.

The most striking thing about the Uros that made the whole tour so memorable and spectacular is simply their incredibly happy attitude and welcoming spirit. The first word they taught us was Waliky– which means Welcome. They greeted us with beautiful smiles and colorful hand-made textiles to purchase. Tourism is a huge benefit to help them keep their existence. They now have solar panels to upkeep due to a visit from the President of Peru that left the president concerned for the death rate of children who accidentally asfixiated from smoke inhalation inside their homes. They lost four babies in a terrible tragedy. Now solar panels dot the islands in a gift from the Peruvian government to help them with a green energy source. However, the Uros have now bought more and have to pay for their upkeep.

The Uro boast that they never get cold because of their “black” blood and tough skin. We were able to go inside the homes and see the humble interiors. Just a bed and a few belongings. They spend most of their time outdoors, fishing, sewing, cooking and building the islands. Their entire lives are centered around a little handmade island built of reeds and it’s incredibly humbling seeing their simple means of subsistence; however, they are so open and inviting to their few visitors, that their smiles and joy and happiness was the greatest thing that we took away with us.

We had an incredible afternoon with them as they answered every ridiculous question that we had. The President, being such a huge soccer lover, was excited to talk sports with the other men on our tour. The men rowed us on one of their handmade “Mercedes-Benz” boats to another island where we could buy beer and even a fresh fish that they would cook for us on the spot as the women sang songs to us including the cutest version of “row your boat” I’ve ever heard. By far it was the best $15 I’ve ever spent. I highly recommend spending a day on Lake Titicaca. It exceeded all of our expectations by a long shot.

Check out our other awesome blogs about Peru:

Way Too Wanderlust recommends bringing your passport so you can get a floating island stamp!


La Paz, Bolivia

~By:  Damir

La Paz is a beautiful, historic, and cultural South American city that needs to be on every backpackers’ itinerary during their travels. Walking around La Paz at first might give you the impression that it’s just another large city in South America, but the more you spend exploring the city with its many markets and sights will gain you a realization of its cultural beauty.
La Paz is located in the Altiplano (high plain) of west central Bolivia approximately 68km from Lake Titicaca. Many backpackers continue their travels through South America with a bus ride from Cusco, Peru through Puno and cross the border at Copacabana on their way to La Paz; some fly directly into La Paz’s El Alto International Airport. La Paz sits at approximately 3,650m (11,975ft) elevation which can definitely be felt as you walk up and down the steep streets of La Paz. Relax the first few days and enjoy the coca leaves and tea.
img_5217La Paz is nestled into a valley and overlooked by Illimani, the highest mountain in western Bolivia (6,438m / 21,122ft). This area of Bolivia has a highland climate including rainy summers and dry winters. The rain that I experienced while there in the summer is brief but heavy. It doesn’t rain the entire day but during the brief time that it does, it pours so make sure you bring an umbrella. I still remember walking around while it was lightly raining and thinking I would be fine. The rain fell harder and I kept walking down the steps into the city not realizing that I would need to walk back up all those steps both out of breath and wet.
La Paz is the legislative capitol of the Plurinational State of Bolivia while Sucre is the main executive and consitutional capitol. It is the third most populous city with around 877,000 residents in the city after Santa Cruz and El Alto although the La Paz metro urban area is the largest in all of Bolivia with a population of roughly 2.3 million residents. The current president, Evo Morales, is in his third consecutive term. This is upsetting to some Bolivian citizens as their constitution allows only two terms. Towards the end of his second term, Morales changed the country name from Republic of Bolivia to the Plurinational State of Bolivia and was allowed to run for the presidency again as the name of the nation was different and he was never president under the new name.
Speaking of bureaucracy; let’s talk about the San Pedro Prison. Bolivia is a guilty until proven innocent country so if caught you can expect to spend eight years in La Paz’ largest prison, San Pedro, before having a trial. After the trial, the previous eight years does not apply to whatever sentence you get. The jail is run by the inmates. That is correct, the inmates run the jail. They hold regular elections to get representatives for themselves. The prisoners also pay rent for their cells which keep the elected officials maintaining law and order inside the prison. The prisoners have various jobs that allow them to make money in order to pay “rent”. The families of prisoners also live in the cells but the wives and kids are allowed to leave for school and work daily. There are around 1,600 prisoners that reside in San Pedro along with their families so as you can imagine the prison is very overpopulated. Politicians and drug lords can afford luxury cells while the majority live in basic single cells. Many think the prison is a better democracy than the country of Bolivia. Also another fun fact of the prison is that they have a contract with Coca-Cola. Coca-Cola send the prison tables, chairs, umbrellas for the exclusive right to advertise and sell Coca-Cola brand drinks within the prison. I was content with just observing this prison from the outside and moving away from it as soon as possible in order to not somehow end up walking inside it and getting stuck which has happened to other tourists.
The three most popular hostels are: Wild Rover, Loki, and Adventure Brew. We stayed at Wild Rover Hostel and it was a blast. Known as a party hostel, it definitely did not disappoint.
img_5185We were there during Australia Day so the fun was at an all time high every day. Australian passport holders stay for free at Wild Rover on Australia Day which in turn packed the premises with ‘Stralyans. The staff was very nice and accommodating and the bar/restaurant featured plenty of drinks and food (check out the beef stir fry on the menu). Be advised this is a party hostel and it does live up to it nightly. The hostel also offers a “free” city walking tour.
“Free” City Walking Tour:
The term free can be considered an alternative fact. While it was at one point free, the government put a ban on free tourism events so they do charge a very minimal fee and it is aboslutely worth it! Red Cap City Tours do a fantastic job explaining the culture and historical landmarks of La Paz that I will further explain. A guide from the walking tour will meet you at the hostel and then take you to the main sights and explain local culture.
Witches Market:
Referred to as “El Mercado de las Brujas”, the witches market is a popular attraction to many tourists. Local witch doctors sell potions for every possible ache you can think of. Many of the powders ensure luck, beauty, and fertility. They also sell dead llama fetus’. According to old Bolivian native religion, which has a focus on the Earth, for every construction of home or building the builders need to give back to the Earth since they are digging up the ground. When they take a part of the Earth away many people will bury a dead llama fetus to give back. They do not kill any llamas for this, they all die from natural causes. It is definitely a great experience to walk through the witches market. Walking through the witches market, you are not hassled to purchase items. The shop owners/workers simply engage into conversation about how your life is going and what could be better. They help explain absolutely everything from the miniature statues to certain remedies they have that could help you get whatever it is you are seeking. I did not purchase anything as I was just happy to be traveling and did not think I needed any remedies. However, if you do have your eye on a special someone, I suggest purchasing the “Follow Me” dust. Simply follow behind the person you wish to notice you and sprinkle them with your best salt bae impersonation and the dust will attract the person to you. I did not try it as I was confident enough in my alpaca sweater and headband look so I’ll let you be the judge to see if it works or not.
San Francisco Church:
Located in La Paz’ city center, the Basilica of San Francisco is the main catholic church. Originally built in the 1500s, it collapsed in 1610 and was again rebuilt in 1784. The most important part of this church is that it blends native and Catholic art. The street in front of the church was the divide between the Spanish explorers and the native people of the region when this area was being explored. One side features more Spanish architecture while the other side maintains native culture. When the church collapsed, the rebuilding featured natives and the Spanish working collectively; bringing the area together and creating a beautiful church featuring amazing art. This is a large gathering area in town for locals with many markets and shops around the church.
This is the La Paz-El Alto cable car system. Opened in 2014, it helped lower massive bus traffic between the two cities. Currently it has three lines in operation with several more in the planning stage. It is a very fast and clean energy way to get between La Paz and El Alto. Hop on once and receive amazing view of La Paz from above. A one way ticket will cost you three bolivianos ($0.43 USD). I went on the red line with a group from the hostel just to check out the views of the city and it was a very fun trip. A short taxi ride from Wild Rover Hostel, it is worth it to live the local lifestyle and commute inside one of the cable cars. It takes just a few minutes to get to the top of El Alto and can be an enjoyable sight to see as a tourist.
For the true adventurers: BIKE THE DEATH ROAD
The Death Road, also known as Yungas Road, is a 64km stretch of road from La Paz to Coroico. In 1995, the road earned the title “world’s most dangerous road”. The single lane 3m (10ft) wide road has very few guard rails with cliffs up to 600m (2000ft) that drop straight down. The road has not been used for vehicle traffic since 2006, because there was a newer, safer, and paved road built from La Paz to Coroico. Many backpackers and thrill seekers sign up with a travel agency to mountain bike down this road nowadays. I did it and it was an amazing mountain bike ride. The first 20km is on the newer paved road which is easy to ride down on. After the 20km paved section comes a short bus ride up a hill to begin the remainder of the old gravel road down. The cliffs, curvy roads, and views are breathtaking. A must do! This was so much fun riding alongside all my hostel mates. Separating from the pack with other guys, since of course we had to turn everything into a race. I still look back on it and agree it was one of the most fun tours that I’ve done in my life. Careful doing this in rainy season as landslides are common. Once we finished biking, we were taken to a hotel for a nice lunch/dinner before driving back to La Paz. On our way back, we were stuck overnight due to a landslide and cleanup efforts under way. Aside from the overnight delay, the bike ride was amazing!
With its many options for tourists and backpackers alike, La Paz is a very vibrant and cultural city that you can spend a few days in before you head down to the Salar de Uyuni and see the salt flats. Also, as a personal favorite go have a cup of coffee with cake at “The Writer’s Coffee” in La Paz. It’s only a couple blocks away from Wild Rover and it will not disappoint you!
P.S. Americans – be prepared so you do not have a difficult time at Bolivian customs. Print off hostel reservations, flight/ bus information out of Bolivia, itineraries, and make sure you have $160 USD in cash with no cuts in the bills for the visa you obtain on arrival (bring back up $20 just in case, they are quite particular),  extra copies of your passport photo and yellow fever vaccination proof.
More to read about Bolivia, check out our other blogs

The Balkans

~By:  Damir

One of the most beautiful areas of the world is the Balkans. Overshadowed much of the 90s and early 2000s by a civil war with the breakup of Yugoslavia, the Balkans are back and now is the time to travel through this historic part of the world. What was once a large nation (Yugoslavia) separated into six nations (Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia) after the Yugoslav war was officially ended in 2001. These are all safe nations for travelers and backpackers currently and each nation offers its own culture and plenty of sight-seeing. Main way of transportation in the entire area is with buses which are cheap.


In this post, I will focus on Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, and Montenegro.


Montenegro: KOTOR

A beautiful and scenic old port located on Montenegro’s Adriatic Sea coastline.


Things to do: Wander around the old town. Hike to the top of the San Giovanni Castle and witness one of the most picturesque views of the Bay of Kotor.


Place to stay: Hostel Old Town Kotor – In the heart of the old town where you will feel like you’ve just stepped back a thousand years in time. Make sure to reserve in advance if visiting in peak season (May-August). Hostel Nightlife is a must!


Bosnia & Herzegovina: MOSTAR

Bosnia’s fifth largest city located on the beautiful Neretva River with its iconic Stari Most (Old Bridge). This bridge was destroyed during the Bosnian War in 1993 and rebuilt in 2003. The medieval architecture of this town is a must see while traveling throughout the Balkans.


Things to do: Witness Stari Most (Old Bridge) and watch daredevil jumpers jump into the shallow Neretva River below. Experience the old town and medieval Mostar by walking through its old stone streets and markets. Have dinner at one of the many restaurants overlooking the bridge and river.


Place to Stay: Literally anywhere in the old town of Mostar. Nightlife is very fun on the weekends in the old town.


Bosnia & Herzegovina: SARAJEVO

Bosnia’s capital and largest city is one of the most historical cities in Europe. The city hosted the 1984 Winter Olympic Games but much of the venues now resemble more of an apocalyptic look with the war destroying much of the venues. There is a bridge located in the center where Gavrilo Princip assassinated Archduke Frank Ferdinand of the Austro-Hungarian Empire which in turn started World War I! It has a very large Istanbul-ish vibe to the city much to its formal rule by the Ottoman Empire.


Things to do: Visit the old and ruined Olympic Venues to really appreciate life. Check out the bridge famous for the assassination of Franz Ferdinand. Wander through the markets in Bascarsija, Sarajevo’s old bazaar and historical center. Look at the many beautiful mosque’s located throughout the city.



Dubrovnik is located at the very southern tip of Croatia bordering the beautiful Adriatic Sea. This is one of the most visited places along the entire Mediterranean and once you arrive you’ll know why. The old town of Dubrovnik features a massive wall around it that captures its once dominant force on the Adriatic.


Things to do: Walk around the entire old town on top of the wall (2-3hrs). Rent a kayak from the old town and go kayak around the island of Lokrum which is right off the coast. Take the cable car up from the old town to get an incredible view of the old town, Lokrum, and the Adriatic. Walk for countless hours around the old town and join in on a tour to learn about many of the buildings and their significance. There is so much history to learn about Dubrovnik’s old town. Have a drink and watch the sunset at Café Buza (located on the edge of the walls down the entire side of a cliff).


Where to stay: Hostel & Rooms Ana – Old Town Dubrovnik (enjoy the party) Make sure to reserve a spot before arriving in the peak season as the entire town runs out of rooms. This is located in the heart of old town and Ana is awesome!


Croatia: SPLIT

Split is another large city located on the Adriatic coastline of Croatia. Split also features an impressive old town with Diocletian’s Palace and Clock Tower being the main sight to witness. This is a major port so a lot of cruises and ferry’s come through here. This is where you will catch a ferry to Hvar Island. This is also home to Ultra Europe Music Festival which gets insane. This is a big backpacker party town and is famous for its legendary pub crawl.


Things to do: Wander throughout the old town. Walk up to the top of the clock tower at Diocletian’s Palace in the old town to get a magnificent 360 view of Split old town and harbor. Hostel Pub Crawl. Sail Croatia/Yacht Week. Ultra Europe Music Festival.


Where to stay: Find and pre-book a hostel in the old town of Split. Take part in the pub crawl.



Plitvice Lakes is a world-famous park featuring its sixteen lakes and magical lake colors. A beautiful scenery very difficult to describe.


Things to do: Walk around the lakes. If on a tight schedule focus only on the lower lakes and waterfalls. The upper lakes are great but larger and a little less scenic.


Where to stay: Doable in a day trip. Very long day but worth it. Grab a bus from Split and then once you’re done with the park take another bus up to Zagreb, Croatia’s capital city.


Croatia: HVAR

One of Croatia’s most beautiful and most visited islands in the Adriatic. Grab a ferry from Split and get ready to party!


Things to do: Hike to the top of the fort located in Hvar City on the island of Hvar. Wander throughout Hvar’s epic old town and harbor. Start the night with drinks at the hostel, then move to Kiva Bar in old town, then take a water taxi to a small island off of Hvar to continue the night and watch the sunrise at Carpe Diem Club.


Where to stay: Anywhere in Hvar(City) on the island of Hvar. Make sure to pre-book during the peak season (May-August).


Croatia: PULA

Pula is located on the Adriatic in Croatia’s northwestern area called Istria. Pula has a lot of Ancient Rome comparisons due to its close proximity to Venice. Arrive here either via ferry or bus from Venice. If you’ve visited the coliseum in Rome, you’ll have to visit the one in Pula which still hosts concerts and movie festivals! A very historic town as well as many other towns located in the Istria part of Croatia.


Things to do: Walk around the old town. Go inside Pula Arena (coliseum) and explore both above ground and below ground. Sight see throughout the old town famous structures such as the Arch of the Sergii, Golden Gates, and Temple of Augustus. In the summer, grab a local bus and head to Verudela Beach and cliff jump, swim, or just relax. Explore other smaller places throughout Istria.


Where to stay: Find a hostel near the coliseum (Pula Arena) or anywhere in the old town will for sure not disappoint you.


Check out our other blogs about Croatia