Patagonia, Part one: Santiago

~By:  Marco

The 1st of December, a date that will never be the same for me again. A date which was the beginning of something new. Exactly one year ago, I had my first flight as an international flight attendant. It shaped me into who I am, and changed my perspective of life. On how we travel. Of what is out there.

Since then I have traveled to over 60 different airports – all around the world. To celebrate this one year anniversary, I wanted to explore a missing continent on my list: South America. Add a Spanish-speaking backpacking friend in the equation, and off I went. First stop: Santiago, Chile.


At the gate I do a quick search of where I am actually going. Since this was a rather spontaneous decision, I honestly had no idea what to expect. I just booked the flight and that was it. I will see where it takes me. I find out that the area is called ‘Patagonia’ and after a quick image search, I start to smile. I always hate it when people smile at their phones, but now I am as guilty as everyone else.

Travel does funny things to me. I get a funny feeling in my stomach. The excitement of new places with new people is hard to match. As I walk towards the plane, I hear the oh-so-familiar final boarding call in the background. At the door I got assigned my seat–business class; hello job perks! I consider myself incredibly lucky, sitting there with a glass of champagne in my hand. The excitement in my stomach. Nothing booked, nothing planned. Just two weeks of adventures ahead. Why do people go to all-inclusive resorts again? I’ve never really understood.

After a smooth flight with actually a decent amount of sleep (probably due to the overflow of champagne), I meet my friend at arrivals. We have been friends since we went to school together in the Netherlands, where we both grew up. After school, he went traveling and I moved to the United Kingdom to work for my current airline. We hadn’t seen each other since, making the reunion even better.

My friend had met a family during his travels and without asking, an invitation was extended to stay in their guestroom. We were treated like family. The whole family lives close to each other. This resulted in breakfast at mum’s, lunch at a cousin’s and dinner at grandma’s. Even with me speaking zero Spanish, and them speaking zero English, you would be surprised how much fun you can have. Especially if you add in a few Pisco Sours (the local spirit). This particular family is possibly the most hospitable people I have ever met. Hearing the stories from my friend, it seems to be part of their culture. I wish we had a bit more of this in Northern Europe.

After being fed and watered, it was time to hit the road. We started with San Cristóbal Hill, one of the three hills of Santiago. I had just arrived from London where it was the start of winter and temperatures are just above zero. Here, with a clear blue sky and very little shade, the 25 degrees is quite a bit of change. A welcomed change. With one small bottle of water between the two of us (and the remnants of the Pisco Sour from last night still lingering) we definitely underestimated the 45 minute climb in the middle of the day. Luckily, we met a gardener on our way who happily brought us to a garden hose to fill up our bottle. Muchas gracias, señor! At the top, we enjoyed the incredible views over Santiago and some well deserved rest.


On our way down we agreed on booking a night bus towards Pucón. As a backpacker, I can highly recommend night buses. It saves you a night in a hostel plus you cover the necessary miles. If you’re lucky, you can even manage to get some sleep. However I must admit, it is not the most comfortable way to spend the night but hey, we all know traveling is not always how it looks on Instagram, right? Plus it makes you appreciate the little things in life again.

After an 8 hour bus ride we arrive in Pucón. The further we go south, the quieter it becomes. The villages get smaller, the food becomes more expensive (as do the beers), and the tops of the mountains are covered in more and more snow. I remind myself of the fact that I only packed one pair of jeans and one sweater/hoody/jumper. Travel light they said. After we gathered some information from our hostel we decided to hike volcano Villarrica (pronounced Billarrica). One of the most active volcanoes in Chile, I find out later. At 6:30 the next morning we get picked up from our hostel to be kitted up, as it is freezing at the top. This being my first ever volcano hike, I must say I was pretty excited. Imagine a kid-in-a-candy-store smile.

On the way to the volcano my friend is speaking crazy-fast Spanish with the local guides. I am enjoying the time ‘on my own’. Carefully listening to what they say, to see if I can pick up any words I might understand. All the while enjoying the incredible views and mentally preparing myself.

The whole group takes the cable car up to the base of the volcano. But not us! If you do it, you have to do it right. As confident as we are, we decide to hike from the start. With an additional 30 minutes of hiking, the guide is taking the lead at a pretty speedy pace. And I find myself regretting our decision already. Luckily, it isn’t all too bad and we join the rest of the group at the base of the mountain. The pace changed. As fast as we initially hiked, we are slowly climbing now. Everyone climbs the mountain in one big chain. And you know, the chain is only as strong as its weakest link.

As we get higher and higher, the temperature gets colder. Heavy winds start to blow into my face which forces me to continuously look down. Step by step, meter for meter. Focused on the two feet in front of me. We slowly make our way up until suddenly, we stop. Used to the pace, I fail to react quickly and bump hard into the backpack in front of me. How exciting is hiking again?

As we slowly reach the top, I quickly put on my gas mask as the smell is now unbearable. The weird sulfur smell makes people gag. I am glad to finally be released of my heavy backpack. Curious by nature, I detrimentally walk to the edge of the crater. Within seconds I see lava squirting out of the crater below us. This is what I came for; this is what I wanted to see. I look around, taking it all in– snow is everywhere, mountains as far as you can see. Smoke is billowing out of the crater now. It’s crazy knowing boiling lava is right below me. I sit down and appreciate the view. It was all worth it: every meter, every step. Even hitting the backpack in front of me over and over again.

Then the guide brings me back to reality. We have to make ourselves ready for the trek down. Or at least that is what I thought……..

Check parts two and three of Marco’s South American backpacking saga and our other blogs about Chile

Follow Marco’s adventures on Instagram:  Marcookunst

Marco’s Travel Itinerary and Hostel Information

Flights: London Heathrow (LHR) > Aeropuerto Internacional Ministro Pistarini, Buenos Aires (EZE) > Aeropuerto Internacional Comodoro Arturo Merino Benítez, Santiago (SCL)

Bus: Santiago > Pucón > San Carlos de Bariloche > El Calafate > El Chaltén > El Calafate

Flights: Comandante Armando Tola International Airport, El Calafate (FTE) > Aeropuerto Internacional Ministro Pistarini, Buenos Aires (EZE) > London Heathrow (LHR)

Pucon:  I love Pucon Hostel

Bariloche:  Universal Travelers Lodge Hostel

El Calafate:  Hostel de las manos

El Chalten:  La Comarca Hostel

El Chalten:  Racho Grande Hostel

Buenos Aires: Rock Hostel & Brewery

Flight El Calafate – Buenos Aires – Aerolineas Argentinas

Bus company – Andesmar



Throwback Thursday: Hvar, Croatia

Croatia never sat of on the top of my must travel list. What I knew about Croatia was mostly from news casts about the war when I was a child. I was too little to understand. Fast forward many years later, my current roommate Aida, a Bosnian, shed light on that part of the world. After hearing her powerful story, I became curious; after she showed me pictures I was ready to get on an airplane. Croatia was where her family had vacationed before the war. All three roommates decided to go together with Aida as our local guide. I fell in love.

With our heart set on traveling to Hvar, we found accommodation at a guesthouse which checked off all of our must-haves in our price range on After climbing what seemed like 100,000 stairs with a backpack, we were greeted by the sweetest old lady. Her English was limited, but Croatian and Bosnian are essentially the same language. She was over the moon when Aida greeted her in familiar words and immediately asked us to join her for coffee and cookies. Our stay was wonderful and we promised to come back….. And we did; a year and a half later, we booked the same apartment and that wonderful lady immediately remembered us.

On the morning of our second day, we decided to have a group run to the fort on the hill overlooking Hvar town. It was an uphill battle, but we conquered. As we were leaving the apartment, the owners’ son waved hello. He ran a car and moped rental business attached to the guesthouse. We noticed a cooler lined with beer for sale: our planned reward for after the workout. Upon our return we ran over to quench our thirst on crisp cold Ozujsko. The group had grown with men from the neighborhood settling down for their afternoon gossip. We sat down with our beers and joined the group’s conversation. We tried the best we could to understand everyone using half English, mixed with some Croatian, some German, some Italian, some French. Essentially everyone shared a common second language and well, laughter and smiles are the same no matter what you speak.

Soon enough rain clouds closed in and we all huddled together, opening more beers, each person taking their turn buying another round. We spent three hours making new friends and laughing at each others half understood jokes. The family dog Dzeko (Jako), a silly black lab, was running back and forth to each new friend hoping for a treat. My favorite was this little old man; he and I both spoke some German, so I learned about his life. He had seen it all– WWII, the Russians coming into former Yugoslavia, and then the Yugoslav War itself. His demeanor was so light and pleasant. Every once and a while he would sneak off only to return 20 minutes later in a new outfit complete with fun hat. Eventually a bottle of Greek liquor was produced and sticking with proper European etiquette, we were all expected to take a shot. It tasted like paint thinner, but how could we say no!

This is why I travel. These memories are the ones that will stick with me until I’m that sweet old lady, sipping bourbon in the afternoon with Anna and Julie, of course. Hopefully then too, I can sit with a group of young tourists and laugh for an afternoon. Tell them my stories and adventures, tell them personal accounts of what they learned in history class. While seeing the castle, going to the popular museum or hiking that trail can highlight a trip, it’s when you get to know the people and truly see the culture, that you have graduated from vacationer to traveler.



~By:  Amanda

Way too Wanderlust Recommends

Apartments Bodlovic: SimeTome Buzolica 9, Hvar Croatia 21450 booked via

Throwback Thursday: The Land of Smiles, Thailand


My mother hates some of the places I go. Every time the destinations get more remote, further from home, more off the beaten path. When I told my mother I was going to Thailand she wasn’t thrilled; it was my first time in Southeast Asia. I had wanted to go to Thailand since I was ten, something on television intrigued my little brain. “Don’t worry Mom, I will be fine”….my standard dialogue before every trip. Little did I know, on this trip would occur my most terrifying experience to date.

For our inaugural trip to Thailand, Anna and I wanted a few nights in Bangkok and then beach time. Ultimately we settled on Ao Nang beach in Krabi, as the price was right and we could take a day trip to Phi Phi island. We took the backpacker overnight bus from Bangkok down to Krabi, which included a 2 hour wait at a random hostel in Bangkok. Here, we met Steffen, who became our new friend over card games, while we killed time.

We finally arrived in Krabi after one of the most memorable bus rides of my life, which included the company of  three British girl, two Aussie boys and a lot of beer. The next day we met up with Steffen again and attempted to take the ferry to Phi Phi Island. However, after a night of buckets, we overslept and missed the boat. Looking at alternatives we decided on Riley Bay, a neighboring beach area, easily reached by long-tail boat.

After a fun day of sun, we decided it was time to head home, planning for dinner and more definitely more buckets. As our long-tail boat started back toward Ao Nang Beach a loud siren pierced through the air. The driver immediately turned the boat in the opposite direction, yelling “Safe safe safe.” A local girl on board explained that was the tsunami siren. Apparently it was the first alarm siren since it had been installed after the tragic 2005 tsunami.

We docked up at a random pier, the three of us were unsure where we were or what to do next. Off the dock I luckily found someone who spoke enough English to explain the situation. There had been earthquake off the coast of Indonesia, a wave was coming and we could find shelter at the school up the hill. A little ways from the water, we decided we were safe enough to stop at a 7-11. If we were gonna die we needed a beer and chips, please don’t judge. With our backpacks loaded with provisions we continued up to the safe zone.

At the school we found several local and tourists, everyone huddled together praying and hoping for more information. Here we found Kung, a wonderful Thai girl, who had a heart of gold and the most beautiful head of jet black hair. After a few minutes we had made friends and she invited us to wait out the warning at her friends place near by. Maybe it was her amazing smile, but the three of us immediately trusted her and found ourselves welcomed into a Thai home.


We found other tourists here two from Germany, two from Switzerland and another American plus Kung and her friends Peta and Gurth. Together we waited out the night, with chicken sandwiches and good conversation. We bonded together sharing our stories and praying for good news. About this point I realized my mother, if she had caught wind of the tsunami she would lose her mind. There was no signal, it was jammed, the tsunami warning had killed the signal.

Finally hours later, the all clear was given, it was time to consider; where are we, how do we find our hotel? Kung’s friend,a local bartender, graciously piled all of us into the pick up truck and drove us back to Ao Nang beach, otherwise we would have been lost. Later, I got 5 frantic voicemails from my mother, she woke up and turned on the news…”Tsunami in Thailand’! I am pretty sure she lost years of her life in worry that morning. I assured her when the signal returned, I was actually alive, we were safe.


Fast forward two days later, checking into our flight back to Bangkok at Krabi airport; we find Kung, Gurth and Peta, sitting waiting for their flights. Hugs exchanged, we added each other to Facebook, promising to keep in touch. Years later we have now been to Thailand five (me) and seven (Anna) times more, every single time we have seen Kung. We once correlated business trips in Germany and met for dinner. This memory is why I feel in love with Thailand. This country is called the land of smiles for a reason, we have found the brightest of all the smiles in a friend named Kung. Many people ask, why we continued to return to this country so often. First impressions are everything, my first impression of Thailand was this….


Way too Wanderlust Recommends


Goin’ Up, On a Tuesday: Los Incas, Lima

One of the first things we do when arriving in a new city is check-in on Facebook. I know this sounds silly and I definitely believe there is much more to life than social media, but Facebook always has so many random ways of helping. Many times I have found friends in the same city, allowing us to meet for dinner or drinks. Here is also where the recommendations begin to pour in; after our check-in at Lima Peru, the obvious suggestion was go to Pizza Street!


After an afternoon of pisco sours and massages, we were starving and in desperate need of more pisco (one can never have too much, hmm ok you can, they are sneaky). As luck would have it, Pizza Street was about a 3 minute walk from our hostel in the Mira Flores district of Lima. The street is lined with your typical tourist restaurants, hosts holding menus enticing you with free drinks and the “best food in town.” This was not our first rodeo and I typically have a good eye for which restaurant will serve slop attempting to pass as edible cuisine. Towards the end of the street, we found Los Incas, which didn’t have the standard tourist trap appearance and promised a free pisco sour, #winning!

We surveyed the menu and immediately found ten items which made our mouths water and stomachs growl. We decided to share three plates so we could have a sampling of all the tempting choices. A man at a neighboring table suggested Causa which is a traditional Peruvian dish of chicken salad, avocado and potato. He also informed us that we had chosen the best restaurant on the street and this was his third time dining here this week. He explained many of the establishments on the other side of the street shared a kitchen and therefore churned out the same ‘tourist slop.’ So our choices were set: Lomo Saltado, Causa and a salad, in an attempt to pretend we are healthy.

Each meal was delicious and we kept sneaking extra bites even after our tummies were full. With an extra pisco sour we closed out our night. Our bill did take quite a few minutes to acquire, however this is South America and they live by their own set of rules regarding time. Apparently Pizza Street becomes quite the party after the dinner rush, however with an 8 am flight looming the next morning, we decided to go to sleep early. Even though we wish we could have stayed to play, we had many adventures awaiting us in Cusco.

Way too Wanderlust Recommends

Los Incas: Calle San Ramon 228, Lima Peru

Cambodia Part 2: Siem Reap

~By:  Amanda

Waking up refreshed a few hours later it was time to enjoy the party scene in Siem Reap. We started the night at our new favorite place Charley’s with a few glasses of sparkling wine. We found Temple Bar for dinner, the colorful atmosphere grabbed our attention and we settled at a table facing the street, perfect for people watching. The drink menu had quite the interesting selection of shots, including the “Red Hospital Set” because nothing says “lets get drunk” like fake syringes full of red junky alcohol. Ultimately, we chose a bucket of some fruity sounding concoction, which showed up with flowers floating on top.

We spent the rest of the night charging up and down Pub Street testing out every bar. Pub Street is the Siem Reap equivalent to Khaosan road in Bangkok. We ventured in and out of all the divey bars drinking delicious local beers for next to nothing and enjoying the music. Pub street is fun, but nothing compares to Khaosan road in Bangkok, for us at least, and I am pretty sure nothing ever will.

Our last full day of our trip needed to be chill before we headed back to cold and snowy NYC.We spent the morning relaxing at the pool, enjoying wine and cheese from the convenience store down the street. The interesting thing about Siem Reap is that they attempt to cater to the western cultured visitors by having available proper English biscuits and decent wine and cheeses in both convenience stores and restaurants. I am not sure how I feel about this, since on one hand after 30 days of Southeast Asia it was nice to have something different, more like the flavors from home. However, my motto (besides YOLO) is “When in Rome” and nothing annoys me more than complainig visitors who have an inability to adapt to something new. Feel where you are, and learn about it; otherwise, why leave home?

Our calm morning left little time for a full day’s excursion. So after (you guessed it) another google search, we found a distillery which makes flavored spirits from rice wine. After getting lost three times, we finally found a tuk tuk who knew where the Sombai Distillery was located. Before your free tasting, the guide gives you a tour of the shop and explains the history of the liquor and their distillation process. The liquor is sold in intricate bottles hand painted by young artists in Cambodia. After the tour we were given a tasting of all eight flavors. It was difficult to choose a favorite from the unique combinations. The good news was buying a few of these finished out the gifts I needed to purchase for friends and family back home. Its rude to travel a month and not bring home something for mom and dad, and well, they like alcohol— the apple didn’t fall far from the tree!

For our last supper we wanted traditional Cambodian cuisine. Our hotel recommended Viroth’s restaurant which also had a nice rating on TripAdviser. Viroths’s was fancy enough to have white tablecloths and higher priced than most places we would have selected on a backpacking trip, but on your last night you might as well go all out. Even then, the bill didn’t touch what I would have spent on a similar meal in Manhattan. Pretty much everything on the menu sounded amazing and we ordered like it was our last meal, because YOLO! I couldn’t possibly remember what we ordered, but I know we considered licking the plates. Overdoing it on the food and wine made us sleepy and we called it an early night.

Red-eye flights leave late, so we still had a full day to kill before heading to Seoul to make our connection back to the US. We only had a hotel until 12 noon, but it wasn’t a problem, as the hotel promised to hold our luggage while we killed time. We had 26 hours of travel ahead of us, plus a long day in one of the most hot and humid countries in the world. As much as we wanted to do that waterfall tour, I couldn’t bear to fly back sticky and smelly. Our only option was to get massages in the cool, air conditioned spas and day drink. Life is hard.

We headed back to Charley’s once again for much needed lunch and sparkling wine. Nachos, that what I rememer, yummy nachos. After about three glasses of heaven we started getting ideas. The walls of Charley’s are covered with custom placards, which they will create for $20. We decided that we needed to commemorate the end of our trip and be immortalized at our favorite bar. We indulged in one last massage while our plaque was being created. We returned to find our plaque just the way we requested and hung it on the wall, toasting with one last sparkling wine.

We learned there was an annual puppet parade that evening in celebration of the community’s efforts for the arts. The timing correlated perfectly and would end just before we needed to grab a tuk tuk for the airport. We settled in at a patio table in a bar along the route and at dusk the parade began. The giant ‘puppets’ are paper mache and are lit from within, so that they glow in the night. It is proper, but not required, to give donations so choose a couple of favorites and throw them a couple of bucks.

After the lights and music died, we scampered back to our hotel and collected our bags for the airport. Mr. Makara was not available to make the airport transfer, but the hotel staff informed us that it should cost no more than $5 for a tuk tuk. Locating a driver on the street, I verified the price. We enjoyed the last crisp breeze of a tuk tuk ride as we sped back to the airport.

Upon arrival the airport, I handed the driver a $10 and asked for $3, giving a dollar tip for each of us. He immeditaly began to argue, “No no no it was $10 total, $5 per person.” No, wrong! I refuse to be swindled. I kindly offered to get the policeman nearby to assist with handing the disagreement and the tuk tuk driver quickly changed his tune and gave me the proper change. Never feel bad for standing up for what is right. I know it was only $3, however the principle of the matter is, he was trying to cheat us.


Checking in for the flight, I felt the sadness I always do at the end of a trip. I began to wish I was back in Singapore, fresh as a daisy, my backpack still smelling like it hadn’t gone through a tsunami of smells. I considered all the amazing moments over the last 5 weeks, savoring the details about each unique culture that makes up southeast Asia. I already couldn’t wait to explore more of Indonesia and Vietnam. Being on limited time, we had only scratched the surface. Of course, we would be back to our beloved Thailand, but the next trip was not planned until September, seven months away. Taking it all in, I realized….. this is why I travel, I go, this is my calling. I can never get enough and so the life of the nomad.

Check out part one of our adventure, Cambodia, exploring the temples of Angkor Wat

Way too Wanderlust Recommends

Charley’s: 98 Hospital Street, Siem Reap Cambodia +855 12 181 4001

Temple Bar: Pub street, Siem Reap, Cambodia

Sombai: 176 Sombai Road, Siem Reap, Cambodia +855 09 581 0890

Viroth’s Restaurant:  246 Wat Bo Street, Siem Reap Cambodia +855 12 826 346


~By: Amanda

As much as I love traveling in a large group, you get to see things from a much different perspective when traveling with only one or two other people. I was fortunate to experience Angkor Wat this way, one of the world’s most beautiful sites, which is how I suppose the universe intended. Touching down in Cambodia at the end of a very long backpacking trip through Asia, my party light was extinguished, and it was time to be spiritual and calm to see one of Buddhism’s largest monuments. Don’t get me wrong though, I still had a complimentary beer on the flight from Bangkok.


Cambodia has one of the most efficient visa processes in the world. Utilizing a visa upon arrival program, with an assembly line that made me shiver; I thrive on efficiency. The visa forms are dispensed on the in-bound flight. Because we had done our research, we had our $35 and passport pictures ready. We were in and out in less than 15 minutes— on-ward to fun! Strategizing properly for once in our lives, we hit the ATM asap since we were in need of local currency, as they don’t take Thai baht in Cambodia. What they do take is USD. Seriously, it’s actually preferred. The ATMs offer the option to choose between Cambodian Riel or USD. Choose $$$, as everywhere accepts the Riel, but we definitely got some disapproving looks.


For accommodation we choose the Damnak Kunthea Villa, which had an amazing pool and balcony area, so we could secure our tans before flying back to NYC. The hotel provided a complimentary shuttle from the airport, which is where we met Mr. Makara, who was soon to become our new best friend. After settling in at Viva Restaurant, we sat down to plan our next few days. They had a margarita happy hour, so we ordered drinks and nachos and got our google on.

Guided fancy tours for Angkor Wat were far out of our price range. The best way to visit the site is to hire a tuk tuk driver for the day. Our hotel offered the services of Mr. Makara and we determined this was the best option within our budget, plus his tuk tuk was pretty. Two options were offered: the extended tour and the short tour. But the short tour still covered a great deal of ground and most of the important ruins. My memory is fuzzy from a year of beer, but I believe the cost for the short tour was $20-25 with an additional $5 for the sunrise tour. Trust me, pay the extra $5 and get out of bed for the sunrise over Angkor Wat! I know you are tired, but stop drinking buckets early for one night and see some culture. If I can, so can you!!

With an incredibly early morning planned, we opted for a namaste evening of shopping, massages and exploring the city. Stumbling upon Charley’s, we decided to have a quick night cap before heading to bed. While it doesn’t seem like much from the outside, once inside you definitely feel the western influence on this bar. Don’t judge; after a month of Southeast Asia we were ready for something that felt more like home. Much to our delight sparkling wine was on the menu for $2.50. I love bubbles! A recent Buzzfeed quiz told me that if I was a drink, I would be champagne. I accept this.

The next morning before the sun even considered peaking over the horizon we were out of bed and meeting up with Mr. Makara. The hotel staff had packed us a to-go breakfast and we set off in the dark towards Angkor Wat. Since Angkor Wat is considered a sacred Buddhist temple it is important to keep in mind the attire you choose for that day. It is highly offensive to wear reveling clothing or show an excessive amount of skin. Ladies this means no tank tops, a short sleeve shirt works nicely or bring a pashmina to cover the shoulders. Short dresses and shorts are prohibited as well.


We soon realized half of the other tourists in Siem Reap had the same plan to see the sunrise that morning and we joined a convoy of tuk tuks headed down the road. At the entrance of the Angkor Wat complex, you are required to pay the $20/pp entrance fee into the ruins. Discounted 3 and 7 day passes are available. Be forewarned, the entrance fee to Angkor Wat will rise to $37 for the day pass as of February 2017. This process was a complete mess and several lines of anxious tourists spiraled backwards, creating a huge crowd. Angkor Wat entrance fees must be paid in cash and once again, they want those green USD.


A throng of activity welcomes you as the tuk tuk pulls up to the parking area near the big temple. Mr Makara dropped us off and pointed to the general location where we could find him later. Thank God that tuk tuk was an easy to spot bright green. With the crowd, we crept through the dark towards the Grand Temple. In hindsight a flashlight would be a useful tool to stash in the day bag. Luckily the iPhone has a fantastic flashlight function and in unison our cell phones lit the path.


We all settled down next to a lake forward of the main ruins and waited for the sun to creep over the horizon. The sky began to lighten and highlight the ruins in pinks and oranges with hints of purple, creating a beautiful outline of the temple against the sky, which soon faded into a blue as then the sun poked over the horizon. With the sun now shining over the landscape we set out to explore the ruins, starting with the main temple. The architecture of this ancient structure is fascinating, considering the intricate detail they used with such little technology. I mean, they didn’t even have an iPhone flashlight.

After getting all the Instagram worthy photos we needed from this temple, we retraced our steps to the parking lot and found Mr. Makara napping in a hammock rigged up on the tuk tuk; not a bad way to kill time. We set off for the next part of the tour and while interesting and wonderful, all the temples began to run together. The day had grown hot, plus this ancient culure seemed to have a thing for stairs. Towards the end, we were more delighted by the stray dogs napping in the street.

Exhausted and sweaty after a long morning, it was time for lunch and a beer. By this time we had been exploring for about 6 hours. Honestly, unless you’re a history enthusiast or that person who must see everything, the half day tour will suffice. It gets hot midday and the exhaustion of getting up at 4 am and climbing a million steps will inevitably get to you. I was highly impressed by the precision of the architecture, the details of the faces depicting ancient gods and the sheer size of these temples, but I really like lunch too. Even after a month in southeast Asia, spring rolls never get old and we washed them down with the local beer. It was time for our afternoon nap and we headed back to town to succumb to exhaustion.

Read about the Angkor Wat after party in part 2, exploring Siem Reap

~By: Amanda

Way too Wanderlust Recommends

Damnak Kunthea Villas: 112 Wat Damnak, Krong Siem Reap Cambodia +855 78 792 976 booked via

Viva: #697, Group 10, Mondol 1 Svay, Siem Reap Cambodia +855 63 963 151

Charley’s: 98 Hospital Street, Siem Reap Cambodia +855 12 181 4001

Cambodian Visa Info:….for Americans

Throwback Thursday: The Bols Experience, Amsterdam

Do something new every time you go there, even if you have been a million times. I lost count how many times I have been to Amsterdam, maybe 100, but I will never be sick of that city. With the basics ticked off, the Heineken Experience and the vast majority of museums; Anna found the House of Bols website with a discounted combo package, the Bols Experience and a canal tour. The description was perfect, for us at least, a museum about Dutch liquor; yes I would like to learn about that. Also, canal tours never get old. I think I have done five, but nothing beats a boat in the summer, especially when you have a couple of beers tucked inside your purse.

The Bols experience is a tour of the journey from the beginning roots starting in 1575 of this Dutch Genever liqueur, which is considered the oldest distilled spirit brand. For the self guided tour you are provided with an audio component, which dispenses information in several languages, by scanning bar-codes along the way. Dutch Genever or Holland gin was originally created from distilling mulled wine and was traditionally juniper flavored. Today genever liqueur is found in a variety of flavors, including ginger, blueberry and mango to name a few. The Bols experience takes you through the history of the Bols brand, how the liqueur is distilled and is designed to heighten all your senses. The tour includes a drink voucher for a free cocktail at the end of the tour in the museums “Mirror Bar”. There are several cocktails to choose from, the Dark and Stormy was a group favorite; however everything we sampled was delicious. We were a group of 5 best friends, so you know we all tried each other’s drinks. For 5 euro, you can purchase additional cocktails, so don’t feel pressured to choose only one option. I may have had three, I really can’t remember. The bartenders are hysterical and gave us a complimentary shot of one of their special concoctions. The Bols experience also offers cocktail workshops and Genever tastings, if tours bore you. This tour was a fun way to get me into a museum.

God forbid we do two touristy things in one day, so we choose the following day to cash in the Canal tour part of our package. After stocking up on some provisions, aka beer and champagne we headed for the dock. The canal tour included in our package was Blue Boat, which utilizes covered boats, nice for Amsterdam because you never know when a rain cloud might sneak up. Audio sets in a variety of languages are available and gave just the right amount of information; but seriously I already knew what those hooks on top of the houses were used for. With the sun shining, it was the perfect afternoon floating through the canals.

For once we pre-planned and seriously saved some money. With this tour bundle, we essentially paid five euro for the canal tour, which typically cost 15-20 euro per person. Just when you think you have done it all, there is always something new to experience, especially such an amazing city as Amsterdam.

~By:  Amanda

Way too Wanderlust Recommends

House of Bols: Paulus Potterstraat 12, 1071 CZ Amsterdam, Netherlands +31205708575

The Travel Shack in Vienna, Austria


The reason I love a good hostel is because you can make new friends who all have the 411 on what to do in that city. Checking into Wombat Hostel in Vienna, I quickly made friends with a crazy Aussie. He told us about the best bar in Vienna right around the corner from the hostel, with a shot list that will change your life. Typically I am not a shot person, I’m a pretty small person and shots make alcohol rush into my veins and often throws me over that drunk edge. However, with shot names such as the “Chuck Norris” and “fire shot” I was instantly intrigued. The guy had been in Vienna for 6 days and gone to Travel Shack for five of them; so all I could think was, “I must go!”

After a quick stop at the Christmas market for some cheap dinner and of course gluhwein, we arrived at Travel Shack a little early for the party….ok, we were the first ones there. Travel Shack has three rooms and a stage with a stripper pole, because that is absolutely necessary in a party bar. We settled in with some delicious German helles beers, because it’s not time for shots yet (what kind of girl do you think I am?) We decided to play a few games of pool before the masses showed up. I lost a lot, but you can’t be good at everything.

After failing Team America at pool, things started to pick up at the bar, or in other words, more people showed up. The DJ showed up and the music became more lively. It was time for the shots! Earlier in the evening I had carefully consulted the menu, as there were so many choices. It was obvious, to me that only acceptable shot for me was the “Chuck Norris.” Basically its a shot of your choice and the bartender then smacks you across the face, twice, once on each side. If I’m taking a shot, its going to be tequila. Otherwise the outcome can become quite grim; lets not even talk about Fireball and what that does to me. I steadied up to the bar— I’m a little girl right?— this guy bartender is gonna go easy on me, right? …. NO! Down the hatch and BAM, wow Austrian bartenders don’t play around. However, I couldn’t quit laughing, it was hysterical. Next, my travel buddy decided on the Fire Shot, where they essentially light your mouth on fire. It was like a dragon.

Our night continued with countless helles. Being a full moon, the bar hired several artists to paint everyone with neon body paint, in honor of the Full Moon Party celebrations in Koh Phangan, Thailand. At some point the Aussie bought a paddle of different shots. I can’t remember what each one was, but at this point I was far past caring. The karaoke room opened up and everyone crowded in to sing group karaoke. We found ourselves a place to sit on top of the table at the far end of the room to sing along. My only complaint about this entire bar, was they would not allow “Wonderwall” by Oasis in the Karaoke room. That is my jam; how do you not like this song?  The rest of the night was spent dancing and laughing, until it was time to slink back to the hostel at 2 am. Stopping for doner kebab, which is the most accepted drunk food in all Europe, we strolled home with happy tummies.

This was by far one of the most fun bars I have ever been to anywhere in the world, so much so that I already have plans to return with the usual posse this summer; pretty much specifically to go here again. My friend who is essentially the queen of shots is already looking at a calendar.

~By:  Amanda

Way too Wanderlust Recommends

Travel Shack:  Mariahilferguertel 21, 1150 Vienna Austria +43 1 961 0131

Wombat Hostel, The Lounge:  Mariahilfer Strasse 137, 1150 Vienna Austria +43 1 897 2336 booked via


Throwback Thursday: Cliffs of Moher, Ireland


Where Europe ends and the vast expansion of the Atlantic Ocean begins, the Cliffs of Moher plummet down the coastline of West Ireland. Standing over the edge almost feels like you are standing at the end of the world, as the wind blows though your hair and the salt sprays up from the ocean. A quick stop between work trips, our group decided to rent a van and be tourists for the day. With 8 people, it was enough to spread the cost to hire a private coach. We arranged through a tourist transportation company and for $40 it included hotel pick up and drop off, the $6 entrance fee into the cliffs, and a stop over at an traditional Irish pub for a late Lunch and a pint. 

With beer and snacks stashed in our day totes, we set out on the windy Irish day. Our first stop was in the town of Lehinch, here we watched the waves crash into the beach from the promenade. The intense waves looked like a surfer’s dream and there were several zipping up their wetsuits against the icy water of the North Atlantic. Back on the bus, we climbed the road to the cliffs. Our friendly driver let us off at the parking lot across the street and we made the easy stair-clad climb to the edge.

It is easy to understand once you have seen these magestic cliffs why so many myths and legends surround the area. Green fields let into the rocky cliffs before they plunge into the deep blue water. Our 1.5 hour visit didn’t leave us enough time to explore the entire 5 mile (8km) stretch. Luckily the sun was shining and we had the opportunity to relax on the edge and watch the sea churn below.  Entrance also included access to the visitor’s center, however our timeline didn’t leave more than a moment to poke our heads in and use the restroom. The Visitor’s Center  has several informative exhibits about the natural geography, history and geology of the area. If you have time, we regret not doing an educational guided Ranger tour of the Cliffs. 

Back on the road headed towards Limerick, we stopped at Gus O’Connor’s pub. As always I ordered Guinness stew to go with my Heineken……I’m super basic when it comes to beer. Our drive home was filled with a couple more beers and giggles sharing pictures of our happy day. Western Ireland is by far one of the most beautiful places I have ventured, I definitely recommend taking the time to explore this amazing countryside.


From Miami to Ibiza

~By:  Amanda

Part of my soul is in Ibiza, it’s waiting at Usuhaia for me to return for it, hopefully next summer. Based on our love for electronic music we decided Ibiza was the the best choice to round out our Spain vacation. Electronic music lives in Ibiza. Every night one of the world’s top DJs is here spinning at the numerous clubs dotting the island.

Ibiza is located just off the coast of Spain in the sparkling Mediterranean Sea, about a 30 minute flight from Barcelona. After some research and tips from helpful British friends we learned that Playa d’en Bossa, located just east of Ibiza Town, was the best place to stay on the island. Furthermore we were informed that Jet Apartments is in the center of it all, recommended because of their daily pool parties. This is the ONLY reason to stay at Jet Apartments, for the price we paid we could have booked a hotel with a rooftop pool in Miami. However, location is location and high season is high season. The apartments are outdated and could use some maintenance and upgrading. For two days in July heat, our air con was kaput and the front desk provided little assistance in the matter. The maids are towel Nazis, however they cleaned properly and the room includes a mini kitchen. My final straw with this hotel was when we were told that even as hotel guests we were required to pay 15 euro to reserve a lawn chair by the pool. Never mind– the beach is just fine with me. A wrist band would remedy this situation, differentiating hotel guest from outsiders.

Bad accommodation aside, I still love Ibiza, the party girl inside me was ready to erupt full force. After unpacking and hitting up the convenience store, for beer and champagne and chips (essentials), we headed down to the pool area, where a DJ spins way into dusk. After a few cocktails we attempted to purchase tickets for Avicii, who was spinning at Usuhaia that evening. Unbeknownst to us, these shows typically begin around 9 pm. Living in NYC, I have never seen a DJ start before 11pm, usually not before 12-1 am. At this point, it was 8:30 pm, so that wasn’t going to happen.

With that plan scratched, we chilled on our balcony planning our next few days. Dmitri Vegas and Like Mike were performing a late night show at Amnesia and a few of our group opted to go see them. Being tired after a crazy previous night in Barcelona, I regretfully declined, as the show began at 3 am. The rest of us chilled on the beach, lounging in the sand, laughing at each other. We created our own party, complete with our personal EDM Spotify playlists, hooked up to speakers. Watching the flights from all over Europe approach Ibiza airport, we played with my new favorite app called Flight Radar 24. These are the moments you know you’re on vacation with true friends, because you can go anywhere and do anything and have the best night of your life.


Late? I am never late! Ibiza flip flops who you are and brings out the best in you. With a boat party booked for 1:00 pm, mom (Anna) set a pick up time of 12:00 noon. Surprisingly, two of the most adult people in our group forgot to set an alarm. Waking up at 11:40, we snapped into action and got ready in 20 minutes, “Home Alone” style. We hopped into cabs and set off for Playa d’en Bossa pier.

Oceanbeat Ibiza Boat Party is an absolutely necessary addition to your Ibiza vacation! The three hour cruise is an insane boat party sailing around the Mediterranean with an amazing DJ. The flier totes unlimited beer, sangria and sparkling wine, but do not be fooled, you receive one glass of sparkling wine upon boarding. The sangria, beer and soft-drinks (soft drinks, why?) are bottomless. Half way through the fiesta the boat anchors giving everyone an opportunity to splash in the ocean. The front of the boat was equipped with a long driving board and the back has a small waterside. According to my friends I was the only girl who did a flip off the front of the boat, I guess those gymnastics lessons were good for something. For the next half an hour we floated and played in the water. It was the perfect time to haul out the go-pro dome and get those fancy action shots. Heading back to the pier, the DJs continued to keep the party going strong.

Because one party is never enough for a day, we headed back to the hotel to prepare ourselves for David Guetta. Usuhaia is by far the best concert venue I have ever been. Every night in the summer, they feature a different headlining DJ. The line-up for the week included not only David Guetta and Hardwell, (both shows which we attended), but also Axwell ^ Ingrosso, Martin Garrix and Avicii. For cost efficiency you can pre-purchase tickets online for about 40 euros, but this must be done weeks in advance, as pre-sale goes quickly. Once you are on the island, if you purchase tickets the day before the event, you can get roughly a 5 euro discount from the day of purchase price of 55 euro. We learned from the party planners that Usuhaia has a time restriction on noise, hence why shows begin at 9 pm, as it is also a ridiculously expensive hotel.


Usuhaia has to be one of the best music venues in the world–it’s definitely MY favorite. The stage opens up to a large area flanked by hotel rooms on each side. If you are bougie and can afford it, several of the rooms actually overlook the stage. There are several wading pools scattered throughout the venue. I can not fathom a better way to watch a concert than dancing to the beat of the music with the cool water moving around your legs, twirling barefoot around each other. A word to the wise: I spent 55 euros on three beers and two bottles of water. Drinks here are exorbitant, everything on Ibiza is. A mojito, while really delicious, is 15 euros, so have a few drinks before you arrive.

Desperate to work on our tan, the next day was dedicated to beach time. Going with our traditional vacay breakfast of Bloody Maria’s in hand, we had ourselves a proper morning. Julie and I hauled real Bloody Mary mix and Tequila minis all the way from ‘Merica. We hadfr our Bloody Maria’s with all the fixings, including olives and pickles.


Our plan for the night was to start off with our first proper sit-down meal as a complete group, since we arrived, because eventually everyone gets sick of sandwiches and chicken nuggets. El Limonero Ibiza is the number one restaurant on TripAdvisor in Playa d’en Bossa and somehow we managed to get a table here for 9 without a reservation, thanks Universe! Since Julie and I essentially have the exact same taste buds we paired off and ordered tapas to share. They were so delicious, I wish I was eating them now! The waitstaff treated us like family and finished off our dinner with a complementary round of limoncello.

After an amazing supper, it was Hardwell time! Heading back to Usuhaia, we parked ourselves back in the wading pool and waited for one of our favorite DJs to start spinning. Hardwell is so ingenious, he even incorporated a Dr Dre remix into his set. I still feel like it was one of the best remix tracks I have ever heard. Words can not explain what this music does to me. The beat travels though my veins and takes me over. I can’t help but move, as the notes climb to a peak my heart follows them into the sky.

With our adrenaline jumping from the performance, we decided our next stop was a paint party at Privilege. Anna had acquired a discount wristbands from some random person on the street, which is actually totally normal. In the mass confusion of Usuhaia letting out, we finally made it onto the city bus for 2 euro (the cheapest thing I did in Ibiza) and rode out to Privilege Nightclub, located inland in San Rafael. Arriving at the city bus drop-off point, we still had to walk down a curvy hill to the club. Without a sidewalk, we ventured down the road in a large group all headed in the same direction. Safety in numbers……probably not in Spain.

Inside the club was a giant dome with a stage set in the middle for the DJ and dancers. Waiting an hour for the party to start, we posted up to the bar and ordered more beers. I don’t know why Budweiser was the only beer option. I also didn’t realize anyone drank this disgusting liquid loaf of bread outside the USA. The concept of a paint party is pretty self explanatory: they spray-gun neon paint all over the crowd and the club is lit with black lights. The paint cannons are timed to spray with the swells of the music…..The set was well blended with EDM and old school Hip Hop, which created an amazingly diverse sound. The paint comes from all angles so attempting to not get paint in your eyes usually ended in an epic fail. Despite my outfit being ruined, all my euros gone and paint stinging my eyes, I didn’t ever want to leave. Finally in the wee hours of the morning we took a cab back to our hotel to shower, because our hair was now a solid. Word of advice: don’t wear any clothing you care about and ensure all your valuables are protected in a purse or plastic bag.

Out of bed early, way too early, we needed time to pack up before the noon checkout. Throwing our bags into luggage storage, we had 2 hours to kill before heading to the airport. A group breakfast with gallons of coffee revived us just enough to grab cabs to the airport. At the airport far earlier than we have ever been for a flight, we checked in and headed to the bar. That is perfectly acceptable at 2 pm. Somehow “Ratchet Air,” I mean Ryan Air, let us on the airplane with draft beers; I love people who don’t care! Flying away with my head on the tray table, I got a 45 minute nap before landing in Malaga.

Spending what I would have normally spent in 7-10 days in Southeast Asia, I still want to go back to Ibiza! Like right NOW! But, its cold and no one is there, so alas I will wait until next summer to go back and fetch the other half of my soul. Who knows, maybe I will leave it there again, just to ensure that I make another trip!

*Authors note: I listened to an entire Axwell^ Ingrosso set while writing this, because that is who I am ♥

Read about our other Spain adventures:

Way too Wanderlust Recommends:

Amnesia: Carretera Ibiza a San Antonio Km5, San Rafael, Ibiza +34 971 19 80 41

Oceanbeat Ibiza Boat Party: Av. Pere Matutes Noguera 22, 07800 Ibiza +34 633 81 14 41

Usuhaia: Platja d’en Bossa 10, 07817 Sant Jordi de Ses Salines, Ibiza Spain

El Limonero Ibiza: Calle Argelagues 15, 07817 Playa d’en Bossa Ibiza +34 618 72 21 111

Privilege Ibiza: Apartado de Correos 94, San Rafael Ibiza +34 971 19 81 60

Ryan Air: (because they let me bring beer)


Swedish House Mafia. “Miami to Ibiza.” Axwell, Steve Angello, Sebastion Ingrosso, and Patrick Okogwu. “Until One.” U.K. , Virgin, EMI and Astralwerks, 4 Oct 2010, digital download.