36 Hours in Sao Paulo

About São Paulo

I would have never thought I’d say 36 hours was not enough time for visiting São Paulo.  I personally am not a big city enthusiast, but always feel like I should explore for a day at the beginning or end of my wilderness trips.  We planned to arrive mid-day, stay overnight and then leave the following evening. Continue reading “36 Hours in Sao Paulo”

Things to do Outside the Walled City of Cartagena, Colombia

Things to do Outside the Walled City of Cartagena

Getsemaní, a neighborhood outside the walled city, once a poor area is now a hip place to visit.  I accidentally found a B&B in this area, and it turned out to be conveniently located for visiting both the walled city and the Castillo San Felipe de Barajas.

At times, specifically during the heat of the day, the 15 minute walk seemed just a touch long for a short rest in the A/C, but otherwise, the nightlife, restaurants, and eclectic feel was enjoyable.  While I enjoyed the walled city, I found myself spend a lot of time outside of it as well. Continue reading “Things to do Outside the Walled City of Cartagena, Colombia”

The Plazas of Cartagena’s Walled City

Walking the Streets of Cartagena

I had just a few days in Cartagena and wanted to make the most of it.  As such, I walked about every square inch of the Walled City along with most of GetsemanÍ in order take in the culture and history of the city.  I tried visiting virtually every plaza and along the way enjoyed window shopping, people watching, dining, and seeing what the vendors had for sale.

The History of Cartagena

Cartagena, founded in 1533 by Pedro de Heredia, is named after Cartagena, Spain.  Strategically located between the Magdalena and Sinú Rivers on Colombia’s northeastern, Caribbean coast, the city became a very important trade port for Spain.  During the colonial era (1533-1717), the port was used to export Peruvian silver and to import African slaves. Continue reading “The Plazas of Cartagena’s Walled City”

18 Hours in Madrid…Mostly Dining!

Traveling to Madrid

Where To Stay

Getting to and from Morocco from the USA wasn’t that easy.  We opted for an 18 hour layover in Madrid, and enjoyed an afternoon and evening of dining.  Suman found a great hotel called Petit Palace just off the Plaza Major.  This hotel was in a prime location and only $96.  The vibe was modern, and it included everything we needed including a view of the city from our top floor room.  We were not staying long enough to take advantage of the bikes or the free walking tour, but these are great amenities. We dropped our stuff and went in search of lunch as Iberia ran out of food for purchase for those in the last rows of the plane.  They had some items, but not what we wanted.  Anyway, we were hungry.

Places to Eat

Casa Gonzalez

Suman had a place in mind from TripAdvisor called Casa Gonzalez.  They served lots of cheese and meats as well with breads with spreads.  Since they were known for their breads with spreads, I ordered an artichoke spread.  It was mostly bread with little spread.  I think Suman’s choice of a charcuterie plate was a much better option.  It was good, but I wished for more tapas varieties especially after our phones took us around in circles as we hunted for the quaint restaurant.

Plaza Mayor

We took a much shorter and more direct walk back to the hotel as we passed through several plazas, including Plaza Mayor.  The Plaza Mayor was built in 1617 during the reign of Philip III, is the central plaza of Madrid, and is surrounded by three-story residential buildings.  The centerpiece of the plaza is a bronze of King Philip III.  I expected it to be more crowded, but judging by all the tables outside of the restaurants, I feel like at night it would be very busy.

Mercado San Miguel

Fernando, our guide in Morocco, suggested we check Mercado San Miguel, which was practically across the street from our hotel.  We wandered through to get an idea of what was available, and we found just about every food imaginable…meat, olives, seafood, paella, tarts, and nuts, just to name a few.  It was crowded with a nice vibe. All the tables in the center were taken.  It was standing room only.  Not currently hungry, we just stopped at the Sangria stall.  We had a choice of sangria on tap or from the bottle. Then we got to choose white or red and traditional or not.  At the recommendation from the gentleman behind the counter, we sipped a glass of non-traditional red and enjoyed the complimentary olive snack for a bargain price. Wine and olives are a steal in Spain!  Mercado San Miguel was so enjoyable, we decided to come back for dinner.

Mesón de la Guitarra

Back at the hotel, Suman checked Facebook and saw one of her friends suggested we go to Mesón de la Guitarra, also around the corner from the hotel.  The cave like atmosphere looked cool, so we decided to start there.  Wine for $2 in a cup was a nice start.  I got to order a potato omelet which was awesome.  We also got some peppers and fried calamari.  These tapas plates were quite large, so we didn’t leave any room for food from Mercado San Miguel, but we walked through once more because it was a cool, energetic place!  I sort of wish we stuck with our original plan to have dinner at Mercado San Miguel, but I don’t think I would have found a better potato omelet than the one we found at Mesón de la Guitarra.

We had to leave by 8:15 in the morning.  This is apparently early for Spanish standards as the coffee shops didn’t open until 8, but I got to get my café con leche.  The first time I ever had this was 25 years ago with my step-dad Bart in Madrid.  We thought we were getting coffee with a little milk, but it was more like a latte, and I loved it.  I felt nostalgic.  It was a great way to end our brief stay in Madrid.  I’m feeling like I need to go back to Spain!  ETB

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Copenhagen’s Castles

Somehow we slept in a little and got a late start to the morning though it really didn’t affect our plans. We found a not so good coffee shop by the visitor center with good pastries (though I accidentally got an almond croissant filled with rhubarb) and bad coffee.  Today we planned to visit a few castles including Christiansborg Slot and Roseborg Slot.  Continue reading “Copenhagen’s Castles”