Campeche, Mexico

After a handful of days in Mérida, my friend and I made our way to the sleepy town of Campeche. When we arrived, we took a taxi from the bus station to our Airbnb. The ride cost about $45MXN.

We stayed in an Airbnb for four nights. It’s located about two miles outside of the city center but is accessible by bus and taxi. Our host was very friendly and showed us around the property. There is a pool (though unheated), a patio, and the Gulf of Mexico right in the backyard. The water is calm and warm though there are rocks in the water so I recommend wearing water shoes. Since we had a kitchen in the apartment, we walked to a supermarket nearby and grabbed some groceries. We stayed in for a handful of meals to save some money.

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The view from our Airbnb patio.
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There’s a sidewalk that stretches for miles along the shore as well as bike and running paths as you get closer to the city center.

When we did go into town, we ate some amazing food. One of my favorite meals was at La Olla de la Pagoda. My friend and I were given a complimentary cup of zucchini soup with pesto that was jaw-droppingly good. Our entrees were also delicious and affordable at about $70MXN each. I wish we would have gone back a second time.

We stopped at Restaurant Los Abuelos for lunch one day and were not disappointed. Our meals, enchiladas verdes and a chile relleno, were flavorful and enormous. Our total bill with drinks was around $180MXN.

We also grabbed coffee at Café Sotavento. We didn’t eat there but the food looked fantastic.

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We wandered around Campeche and enjoyed the colorful buildings and architecture. We also did a little shopping while in town. We wandered into Casa de Artesanias Tukulna but were actually more impressed with the handmade options in a store across the street. I didn’t get the name of the shop but they sell beautiful jewelry, textiles, and gems. I highly recommend stopping in.

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Our few days in Campeche were very relaxing though I think it helped that there were no cruise ships pulling into Progreso while we were in Campeche. I definitely recommend checking the cruise ship schedule ahead of time and then plan accordingly. It can get very busy and crowded. I can’t wait to go back and continue exploring Campeche and the area.

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Campeche, Mexico

Mérida, Mexico

Mérida, Mexico

Ghent, Belgium

Ghent had so much more to offer than I was expecting. I thought it would be a sleepy, little town where I would get bored after a few days. But that definitely was not the case. After five days, I kept finding more places I wanted to check out and I couldn’t fit everything in. I also found that the tourism website was very helpful, more so than I expected. I recommend visiting it for practical information as well as recommendations around town.  

For the first two days, I was on my own and stayed at the Kaba Hostel. While I had a great stay there, it was further from the city center than I would have liked. But it also gave me a chance to check out the Southeast side of town before I moved to an Airbnb with a friend on the North side of town. 

While in town, I took advantage of the good weather and wandered and meandered everywhere. I also took a boat tour, a free walking tour, and even rented a kayak from Hostel Uppelink.

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Kayaking the calm canals of Ghent. Not a bad way to spend an afternoon.

I also took a free night walking tour. The guide, Ben, had a lot of very interesting history and knowledge about the city. And he timed the tour to end just at midnight.

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I visited all of the churches in town and, of course, the Ghent Alterpiece (Adoration of the Mystic Lamb). For art lovers, this is essential. For everyone else, it’s also essential. Pay the €4, listen to the audio guide (offered in a bunch of languages), and learn about the incredibly interesting history of this artwork. 

I also visited the Museum voor Schone Kunsten for an exhibition called Women of the Baroque. The entrance fee for both the permanent exhibit and the temporary exhibits was €14. All of the exhibits were wonderfully curated. I was also able to see the panels from the Ghent Alterpiece that were being restored. 

But more than anything, I enjoyed the food in Ghent. The city has fully embraced the local and organic food movements. There are food co-ops, farm to table restaurants, and vegetarian options galore. My favorites where Lokaal, Soep Plus, and Le Botaniste. Note that Le Botaniste looks really fancy from the outside but is actually very casual.  All three of these restaurants were affordable, healthy, and delicious. 

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I ordered a trio of hummuses at Le Botaniste. Yum!

I also checked out a few of the organic markets. My favorite was the Beo Markt. They do have a restaurant thought I didn’t eat there, I did buy delicious fruit and vegetables.

For drinks, I found a great little wine bar called Baravins. I liked the place so much I stopped by a second time during my visit. The bartender was friendly, helpful, and generous with the snacks.

I also ate some delicious Italian food while in Ghent. My friend and I had dinner at Shazanna after grabbing drinks at Baravins. Our pizzas were amazing and filling. My dinner and a glass of wine cost €22. I ate more Italian food a few days later when I visited Firenze for lunch. It is a cozy restaurant with a great family feel. If you are in the area, check it out.

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Firenze was a delicious place to pop into after a visit to the art museum. The olives and wine tided me over until my pasta arrived.

On my way into town, I didn’t use public transportation when leaving the train station and hoofed it all the way to my hostel with my backpack in tow. But on my way out of town, I decided to take the tram to the train station. The cost for one ticket on the Lijnwinkel tram was €1.60. Later, I found out that this same transit system is in Antwerp, and possibly other cities in Belguim. 

Ghent, Belgium

Reims, France

After spending a long weekend in Paris, I made my way to Reims for a few quiet days by myself. Most tourists probably spend an afternoon in Reims or skip it altogether, but not me. I was looking for a small, adorable town to wander through and that’s exactly was I got.

I booked an Airbnb for two nights on the southern end of town. My private bedroom with shared bath was stylish and oh so comfortable at $49USD per night. My host was friendly and helpful though her English was limited (as is my French). The apartment is a bit of a walk from the train station (Gare de Reims) in town but this did not deter me. Note that there is no left luggage facility at the Reims train station. There is, however, a new service called Nanny Bag that was suggested to me by the tourism office.

I visited both the cathedral and the basilica during my time in Reims. I cannot recommend these enough. Both buildings are awe inspiring to wander through. And, both are free. Plus, if you have just come from Paris, you will actually be able to enjoy and appreciate these spaces without hordes of tourists.

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Our Lady of Reims.
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Our Lady of Reims shot from the park behind the cathedral.

I also visited the Surrender Museum (Musée de la Reddition) and really enjoyed this small but significant piece of history. While I consider myself generally knowledgeable about World War II, I had never heard of Reims and the important role the city played.

While in town, I treated myself to a decadent lunch at Anna S. The prix-fixe menu was seasonal and delicious. It was such a filling meal that I did not eat dinner that night. It was my only splurge while in town but at €42 (which included a glass of wine), it was well worth it.

I also ate some mussels while in town. I researched a few places but my Airbnb host recommended Le Grand Café and she did not steer me wrong.  Once again, my meal was accompanied by wine (when in Rome…) and cost €22. 

After two days in Reims, I was ready to move on to my next destination. For this, I needed to make my way out to the high speed train station (Gare Champagne TGV) just outside of town. I searched and searched (using my cell phone) for good information on local buses and tram lines and came up empty handed. Later, I was able to find this online map for the trams and local buses which opened on my laptop.

Before boarding the tram, you must buy a ticket and then validate it once on the tram. There is an option for paying via cell phone but I didn’t research this as I only used the tram once. The city is not that big and I love to walk and explore. 

Reims, France

Verona, Italy

I spent two nights in Verona and while I was not as enamored with the town as others are, I do have a few recommendations if you plan on visiting. 

I stayed at a small bed & breakfast which I cannot recommend enough. The owner was  warm and inviting, the room was stylish and comfortable, and the breakfast was tasty and satisfying. Plus, I splurged on the room with a balcony and did not regret it. At $76USD per night, the room was more expensive than I usually budget for while traveling on my own, but a friend joined me at the last minute which helped with the cost and made the visit to Verona that much sweeter.

There are two restaurants that I enjoyed while in Verona. L’Imbottito delle 4 Ciacole is located on Via Giovanni della Casa and was delightful. My friend and I stopped in for lunch and were amazed by the affordable menu and the deliciousness that followed. In a country where dining out can add up quickly, we were very pleased with the quality of our meals and their prices. My lunch, which included a glass of wine, cost €15. The food was so amazing that we returned the following night for a little more food after drinking and snacking our way around town. 

My other favorite place was Gastronomia Stella, a quaint little deli and restaurant in the center of town. My friend and I perused the deli options, ordered a few items, and then a few more from the menu. We then grabbed a table outside and ate to our hearts content. Once again, our meals were affordable, about €12 each, though the cost can climb as the some of the deli selections are priced by weight.

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I stumbled across this funky yellow car while wandering the streets of Verona.

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Verona, Italy

Kobarid, Slovenia

We didn’t originally plan on visiting the small town of Kobarid but I am so happy that we did. We rented an apartment in the city center which included a parking spot, wifi, and a washing machine. For $65USD per night, the three bedroom apartment was more than we needed but was the same price as some of the hotels in town. We took advantage of having a kitchen and a grocery store across the street to save some money.

We explored the surrounding area as well as the town itself. We walked and then hiked  to Slap Kozjak. This is one time that I was happy to have other hikers on the path as finding the waterfall was a little confusing.

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The closer you get to the waterfall, the narrower the path becomes.

We also visited the Tolmin Gorges. The visit to this gorge involved a lot more climbing and hiking than the Vintgar Gorge but was just as stunning. Sadly, due to the climbing, I did not take any photos to share. But once again, the €5 entrance fee was worth the chance to explore this stunning area of Slovenia.

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The Soca River runs just outside of Kobarid.

While in town, we visited the Kobarid Museum, (Kobariski Muzej). The place is packed with photographs and mementos from battles fought nearby during World War I. There is a short video presentation which is offered in multiple languages. I am glad we stopped by and learned more about this incredible area and it’s history.

Also while in town, we did what we do best; eat. We visited a few of the local restaurants but none stood out like Hisa Polonka. We actually ate here twice in three days. The dishes vary in size so beware of ordering to little or too much. The food was delicious and the service was friendly and inviting. Both times we ate there, our bill averaged around €45. This included drinks, appetizers, and entrees.

We also enjoyed a local food and art festival while in town. The food options (mussels, pastas, stews, etc.) were all tasty and flavorful though not as affordable as one would expect in such a small town. We ate lunch and grabbed a few local beers and glasses of wine and spent a total of €42. There were local musicians and singers performing for the crowds which we really enjoyed. We had a wonderful time in Kobarid and I would recommend a visit to this charming town.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kobarid, Slovenia

Laghi di Fusine, Italy

We took a small detour from Slovenia for an afternoon to visit the Lakes of Fusine (Laghi di Fusine). These lakes are picturesque and were definitely a highlight of our roadtrip. We lucked out with warmer than expected weather and took full advantage of the sunshine. We hiked around the smaller of the two lakes (Lago Inferiore di Fusine) for awhile and then stopped by a cafe on the other lake. It’s a great place to explore nature’s beauty.
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There are boat rentals on the larger of the two lakes near the cafe we visited.

Laghi di Fusine, Italy