Posts for Central America Category

When it Comes to Honeymoons, Montego Bay is A-Okay

Central America - Ross French - December 18, 2013

When I was looking for destinations to have a honeymoon to remember, Jamaica was always at the top of my list. From its easy going reputation to the raving reviews from friends and family who had been there regularly, it was hard to imagine anywhere else as even an option. Sure, anywhere in Polynesia was on there as a ‘dream’ destination but they just weren’t realistic, being too far away and a little out of our price range as non-trust fund newlyweds. Bora Bora would just have to wait until I was rollin in it later in life (or the next life).

Married in August, my wife and I had two options for a resort honeymoon – leave right after the wedding, as was tradition, or hold off on the honeymoon until the cold weather months. While we did like the idea of having a honeymoon later as a kind of winter escape vacation (we are Canadian after all!), you’re not really newlyweds if you put it off for a few months, and isn’t that kind of the point of a honeymoon?

Such a great bed!

Such a great bed!

We opted to go right after the wedding and as was apparent by those on our flight from Toronto to Montego Bay, we weren’t the only ones who felt this way. Every couple we talked to got married on the same day and had the hallmarks of the recentness of it – the girls all had fake nails and the guys were fiddling with their wedding bands. Everyone was tired and everyone was looking forward to just having a good time in paradise.

And paradise it was.

Being put up at the Secrets Wild Orchid meant we were in one of Jamaica’s newest resorts and incredibly close to the airport, which was key for maximizing the good times as fast as possible. Others on our flight were heading to further away locales, and since it was during the summer and not the winter peak season, they had to transfer on a bus rather than fly direct (in the case of Negril, it was a few hours extra!). Instead, we had a 15 minute bus ride, quick check in, welcome champagne and amazing room that I still wake up and wish I was in.

Another benefit to it not being peak season? Things were a bit more relaxed at the resort as there were fewer guests. What this meant was the dress code, which normally at resorts with a la carte dining options is strictly enforced, was overlooked and allowed for bums like myself to eat without dressing to the nines. It also meant getting a chair by the ocean didn’t require you to wake up at dawn and camp out all day and normal services like drink delivery on the beach was done for almost everyone. Plus, the jerk chicken man was always on hand and there was never a line – how could you beat that?

Such a gorgeous beach and it was never full. Off season rocks.

Such a gorgeous beach and it was never full. Off season rocks.

Because we went with Air Canada Vacations for our holiday, we got to meet with a representative from the company that provided us with a list of excursions available to us at a reduced rate. Some were pretty good deals, such as going out on the catamaran or waterfall hikes, but with only six full days of relaxation to be had, we wanted to make the most of enjoying the resort.

One day I will have my own jerk chicken man...

One day I will have my own jerk chicken man…

The only issue we had with the holiday came at the very beginning of the trip, which was delayed almost six hours without a reason being given. Arriving at the airport at 7 am for a 9 am departure, we didn’t actually leave the terminal in Toronto until well after 3 pm, effectively cancelling one day of our honeymoon. We inquired a few times as to the reason for the delay and no reason was given – I understand it’s an unpleasant part of the job to have to be the bearer of bad news when it’s something out of your control and you might not even know the answer to, but it doesn’t help the situation to be impatient to your already frustrated guests. We were given about $20 to use to get food while waiting, and offered a slight discount off our next holiday with Air Canada Vacations, which was a nice gesture that we appreciated, but I couldn’t help but feel if it had been handled differently at the outset, less discontent and animosity towards the flight attendants would’ve occurred.

With all this in mind, we had a great time on our honeymoon in Montego Bay and would recommend every aspect of our trip to others looking to do something similar. It’s exactly what you need after hectic months of planning and a memorable but stressful wedding day. While I’m not much of a lay on the beach and do nothing kind of guy when it comes to travelling, a change of pace is nice and it was perfect for a honeymoon.

And don’t forget the jerk chicken. Oh man do I miss that…

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5 Best Foods to Try on a Holiday in Mexico

Central America, Destinations - Ross French - September 24, 2012

Tacos al Pastor

Mexican dishes are widely known for their richness in color, spices and flavor. The food is a mixture of Middle Eastern, Spanish and native Mexican styles of cooking with delicious native Mexican spices. When you’re looking for Mexico vacation packages, remember, Mexico will not only be awesome and sunny, but you can stuff your face with delicious foods as well! With that in mind, there are certain Mexican foods you don’t want to miss out on during your vacation:

Tacos al Pastor

1. Tacos al Pastor
It is also known as Sheperd Tacos and it is without doubt, one of the tastiest taco dishes. It is a combination of beef, chicken or pork that is superbly spiced. A spit is used to prepare this and on an open fire. Once the meat is well cooked, it’s served with Salsa, onions, lime, pineapples, cilantro and small tortilla chips. This is definitely worth a try when on holiday.

2. Torta Cuban
These are different types of tortas, majority are spread with mayo sparingly, beans and avocados. They are a Cuban classic with a Mexican twist. The Torta Cuban is also known as Cuban sandwich and it basically means that you will find all types of meat on the sandwich.

3. Enchiladas Verdes
There are so many different types of enchiladas you can choose from, picking the one that appeals to your taste buds best. Green enchiladas for instance are corn tortillas stuffed with chicken. They are then smothered with some green salsa, crema and sprinkled with white cheese. Though it sounds simple, the resulting food is simply delicious. When visiting Mexico, you should be on the lookout for places that are popular for making enchiladas and selling them at an affordable cost.

4. Pozole
For the majority of people who visit Mexico, this is often highlighted as the best food. It is also the oldest Mexican dish. It has been passed down through generations from the well famed Pre-Columbian tradition. Made from hominy, it is stewed for several hours together with pork, chicken or any other meat. Once everything is cooked, it is simmered for a couple more hours to get tender. When serving, it is spruced up with onion, lime, lettuce, oregano and chilies.

5. Tacos Campechanos
This is what is known as ‘country style’ food. This type of taco can come with almost anything in it and this is what makes it a great choice. It is a mixture of different types of meat including the well known Mexican chorizo. It comes with different types of veggies and these can include cactus, nopales or onions as well as salsa and mashed potatoes. To spice it up completely, add some lime and salt to it.

Whether you’re into solo travel or with family and friends, make sure to indulge in local dishes no matter where you are.  And remember that lime is what completes the food. In essence, unless the food has lime, it probably isn’t Mexican.

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Five Amazing Sights to See in Cancun

Central America, Destinations - Ross French - September 18, 2012

cancun

When people hear the word Mexico, they think of sombreros and delicious spicy sizzling dishes. However, Mexico is much, much more than that and is home to Cancun. Cancun is a beautiful little city located in south eastern Mexico, and is an extremely popular tourist and vacation destination for people from all over the world. It is filled with amazing resorts, you can find Cancun all inclusive on Air Canada Vacations all year around.

cancun

Cancun has some quite amazing attractions, both natural and man made and is sure to keep even those with short attention spans entertained for hours upon end. In this article we will look at what most people, who have been fortunate enough to visit Cancun, consider to be the top five sights of Cancun.

5 – Coming in at number five on our list we have the ancient Mayan ruins of “Tulum“. Tulum was an ancient Mayan settlement that was once inhabited from the 3rd century AD to the 10th century AD. Tulum consists of several beautifully sculpted Temples and even a castle or “Castillo” built on a high cliff overlooking the beautiful clear blue Caribbean Sea. Locals, tourists and sightseers alike, agree that Tulum is one of the most attractive and stunning locations in all of Cancun and will definitely make your trip unforgettable.

4 – Number four on our list is “Rio Secreto” – the hidden caves of the riviera maya. Many people consider the Rio secreto to be one of the great wonders of the world. The Rio secreto is an underground river, which flows through a series of Cave systems. The Rio secreto is relatively new, having only been discovered in 2004 by a landowner named Don Cleo who was hunting an iguana. He chased it into a hole in the ground, which lead to an interconnected cave system through which an underground river flowed. The river flows underground through the cave system for over 7.5 miles. The Rio secreto is a must see when visiting Cancun.

3 – At number three we have the underwater art museum known as “Musa“. Yes you did read the previous sentence right, Musa is an underwater art museum. It holds the largest number of underwater sculptures in the world. Musa is home to over 400 sculptures, made from using a mixture of marine cement, microsilica and inert fibreglass rebar. Using these materials to build the sculptures out of is extremely important because this allows the structures to remain at a neutral pH. A neutral pH means that all of the underwater creatures in the area are not affected by the materials used in creating these breath taking sculptures.

The sculptures are built to allow the underwater marine life, such as fish, to interact with them. An example of this is one of the museums newest additions, a life sized concrete Volkswagon beetle replica weighing an incredible 8 tonnes. It was built with port holes in the windows to allow the fish and other sea life to swim in and out willingly. Musa has recently been voted “One of the world’s most unique travel destinations” by Forbes magazine. Just remember to pack your swim suit if you plan on visiting.

2 – In our penultimate addition on our list, we have the town of “Playa del Carmen“. Playa del Carmen is a trendy and stylish beach resort town that has undergone a huge amount of redevelopment over the last few years. “Playa”, as it is more commonly known, is a tourist and vacation friendly town, designed with Shopping in mind. This once quiet fishing village is now home to a huge number of restaurants, bars, clubs and shops. Playa is perhaps aimed at the slightly wealthier individual, with shops such as “Louis Vuitton”, “Hugo Boss” and “Christian Dior” all lining the promenade. It’s easy to understand why you could go home to your hotel in the evening with your wallet or purse substantially lighter than it was when you left your room in the morning. Playa del Carmen is however, a stunning resort and is more than worth the extra cash that you may or may not spend. Although Playa del Carmen offers high end treats, it still has plenty of family friendly activities which makes this the ideal trip for tourists of all ages.

1 – Our top pick should come as no surprise to anybody who is up to date on Mexican history and sights. Yes that’s right. Our number one choice is one of the seven wonders’ of the world “Chichen itza“. Chichen itza was a large pre-Columbian city built by the Mayans around 600 AD. The most famous landmark of Chichen itza is perhaps the el Castillo pyramid also known as “The great North platform”.

The Castillo pyramid was discovered to house another temple hidden inside it. Inside this hidden temple archaeologists discovered a statue and a throne in the shape of a jaguar (The cat like animal obviously, not the super car) painted red with spots shaded a deep green colour. Experts believe that human sacrifices used to be carried out at the top of the pyramid where the unfortunate victims’ head would be cut off and would roll down the steps all the way to the bottom of the structure. As well as the Castillo pyramid, Chichen itza is also home to “The great ballcourt” where the ancient civilisations used to play Mesoamerican ball games. Game’s which many believe today to be similar to that of racquet ball. Many other amazing structures are housed in Chichen itza and although I would love to explain in detail all about each one, I’m afraid that this short article would need to be transformed into a novel. The best way of finding out firsthand about the ancient wonders of Chichen itza, is to visit Cancun and discover them for yourself. I promise you, you won’t be disappointed.

cancun
Cancun is a gorgeous little city and will make any vacation unforgettable and although I have only listed five. The list of things to do, and see in Cancun are endless.

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Best Beaches in the Bahamas

Central America - Ross French - July 15, 2012

Bahamas

BahamasMore than three thousand islands, islets and cays make up the beautiful Bahamas. Located in the Atlantic Ocean, the Bahamas is a magnet for travellers looking for an escape from their busy everyday lives. The Bahamas is famous for sun, sand and sea, but there are many other adventures that you can do here. Even Christopher Columbus was enamoured by these islands. Go sailing, diving, kayaking, swimming, lounging on the beach, shopping, partying, and dining. You can explore underwater caves, have fun at a casino, or take a cruise. When you stay at places like Club Med Turks and Caicos all inclusive resort, your options will be endless!

Here are the best beaches in the Bahamas:

Grace Bay Beach on Providenciales
Probidenciales is home to the famous Club Med resort in the Bahamas and this 12 mile Grace Bay Beach is rated among the top ten beaches in the world by Conde Naste. It has stunning white sands, aqua blue waters and amazing reefs to snorkle or scuba dive around.  This beach is also a popular destination for fishing.

Paradise Beach on Paradise Island
Paradise Island is composed of a pristine white sand beach that is one mile long. The clear crystal water is both inviting and peaceful. A large portion of Paradise Island is open to the public. You will find little huts all around for you to stay in. Enjoy parasailing, snorkelling, jet skiing, diving and other watersports activities here, Take a walk along the powdery white sand beach or take an underwater adventure and see wrecks and sea gardens. There are also breathtaking views around Paradise Beach. Walk up the towers of Fort Fincastle and observe the island from two hundred feet above sea level. Visit a reassembled 12th century French monastery on the Versailles Garden. If you’re bringing the kids, take them to Atlantis Paradise Island Resort and Casino’s enormous playground. Composed of thirty four acres, the playground features a marine habitat, an underwater snorkelling trail, a Mayan temple replica and a river ride.

Cabbage Beach on Paradise Island
Cabbage Beach is one of the busiest beaches in the Bahamas. People flock to Cabbage Beach all year round. Enjoy the long stretch of beach that is three kilometer long. The beach is crowded not just with people, but also with hotels, bars, restaurants and other commercial establishments. Cabbage Beach has been dubbed the “las Vegas of the Tropics”.

Western Esplanade near Nassau
Also known as Jukanoo Beach to locals, Western Esplanade is a mere ten minute walk from Nassau. On weekends, you might see people having a cookout or barbeques, or groups having fundraisers along the beach, Western Esplanade provides a great view of the harbor and the ships coming and going. If you are bringin kids with you, they will enjoy horse back riding and pony riding.

Caves Beach near Nassau
Caves beach is a place to sit back and relax. It is much less populated compared to other beaches. Go swimming, snorkelling or dining at some of the best and most authentic restaurants on the island. Crescent-shaped Caves Beach provides free access to the public all day. Bring a book, spread a towel and relax. Take a walk down the beach and watch the sun set. After, enjoy a tasty fish fry for dinner at a nearby resto.

The Bahams has many things to offer to its visitors. Blessed with nature’s many wonders, it is the perfect getaway from the hustle and bustle of everyday city life.

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From Hate to Love

Central America, Destinations, Travel Blog - Ross French - June 15, 2012

love

By: Hogga

love

You’re so easy… What a bunch of suckers! I’m not about to tell you of some hunky man who has finally been able to tame this wild, single lass. I’m going to tell you how I went from hating a city to falling in love with it!

granada, nicaraguaThe city? Granada, Nicaragua. I’m sure most people who’ve been there would ask “how could you ever hate it?”. Granada has a lively city centre and a few blocks lined with patio bars. The people are super friendly (some a bit fucking weird) but it was definitely my kinda place. Did I mention there’s a few streets lined with bars? HA! Heaven!

Unfortunately, when I first arrived there, my friend and I spent hours walking in circles around the deserted back streets, unaware of the city center, bar streets and other awesomeness.

The restaurant we chose didn’t serve booze (FAIL) and the bar we found later was very sketchy. And by sketchy, I mean… I was verbally molested.

granada, nicaragua I blame myself for my initial impression of Granada. I didn’t do any research on the city, I just hopped on a hot, sweaty bus there. Eventually I found out where the stores, bars, restaurants and of course, sexy Latin men were located. I ended up spending a week there and actually going back again a month later.  That’s how much it tickled me in a romantic, non sexual way… well maybe a bit sexual. But this blog is PG13, so I’ll save those stories for ChickenChunk.com

cigarsAwesome Things to Do in Granada
– Ride in a horse and buggy around town, touring the historical buildings. (Beer makes this trip more awesome).
– Take a boat ride around the 300-something islands. The lake may not look that appealing, but once you get into the area with all the islands it’s gorgeous. (Beer makes this trip more awesome).
– Go smoke and buy cigars. (They give you rum, but you may want to bring beer)
– Go to the chocolate factory/store. (You probably need a beer for the walk there, it’s hot in Granada).
– Go to a pool party on Saturday night at the back of Encuentros. (And drink beer)
– Drink beer on a patio or at my favorite Irish pub (Kelly’s Bar – the owner and everyone who works there is super friendly).
– Plus there’s a whole bunch of tours to volcanoes and stuff like that (I don’t know if you’re allowed to bring beer).

Have you been to Granada, Nicaragua? Anyone else meet crazy Ricardo? (aka Ricky). If so, please share your stories!

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