How to Travel With Children By Car

Summer came and the travel ideas with it. In these hard economic times, most families prefer to travel with children by car. Despite the high prices of fuel, the choice to travel by car with the family certainly is cheaper. And when we add some luggage, and pets, then things become more complicated with other modes of traveling.

So how to deal with children in the long journey?

  • Take a new toy, puzzle game or something of this kind, so the children would enjoy it. There are a lot of game options that you can get in the car chess, battleship, connect four and more. A portable game is also great idea. Game cards are not a bad option.
  • Provide books suitable for your children. I use something to test their skills in English and mathematics. If your children love to read, suggest them to get a book that they started recently, or buy them new from their favorite author.
  • Rely on the old favorite games.
  • Do not leave without a large amount of something nice to eat. Even you can prepare separate bag with interesting things to eat for each children. Food is an essential element of the trip.
  • Take a portable DVD player or laptop in case. We had to use a laptop when the player we used once broke. And if you have built one into the car better for you. Allow your children to choose a DVD.
  • Play some CDs. You can use them not only for music but also to play a suitable audio book. Prepare to sing with the children. This will definitely raise the spirits of all of you.
  • Stop frequently. However, if the children are sleeping or immersed in any game or film, do not stop! Wait for someone to become a little irritable and stop to rest. But stopping more frequently is also a good idea. So like that you will arrive to the desired destination without even knowing. You’ll be happy and tired but not irritated and angry.

The 7 Most Romantic Honeymoon Destinations

Planning a wedding is hard, but planning honeymoon is twice as hard. It is so because of the so many opportunities and even more places that you want to visit, but I think none of them is not The One.

It’s because you are just looking for the perfect honeymoon vacation spot and you fear not to choose the wrong one. The honeymoon should be a romantic getaway to sunny and exotic island, where time has stopped. It is forbidden to think about work and schedules. Just leave them to the reality. Do not be afraid to make choices, just pick the right place. Choose your place.

Tahiti

This island paradise attract with its virgin and sunny beaches, cozy alcoves and houses with straw roofs, scattered near the water. You can relax with a Polynesian spa procedures or to indulge in one of the countless water sports. Hospitality and warmth of local people is proverbial and warms your heart, even after you come back home.

Tahiti

Rome

When speaking about love, Rome is its pier! There is always some magic in the air, despite the unabated flow of tourists and the tensions of the city. In Rome, anywhere you are surrounded by gardens, fountains and raving classical mythology. Be sure to cast behind a coin, so you can come back again.

There isn’t a better place to stay in Rome the Hotel de Russie. The hotel is located close Babuino street, with its great shops and restaurants, crossed by boulevards leading back to Piazza del popolo.

Paris

Do we have to mention it? Not for other reason, but because it is probably already in your list. The city of light, famous for its expensive, elegant style, it offers a variety of entertainment. Yet, Paris is the crossing line for the regular guy, and noble. Paris will meet you with  the much loved by French people risotto and a variety of French desserts.

From Luxemburg’s gardens to the boat trip at sunset, Paris remains the other name of romance.

Hawaii

The landscape there is so deep that it will be hard for to believe how such a diverse beauty is collected at one place magnificently vegetation, alpine meadows, mountains and large coastal rain forests. Adventurous couples should not miss to visit the crater of the Kilauea volcano.

Hawaii

Bahamas

Traditional music, historical sites, crazy nights at the beach discos, coral reefs the list is long! The architecture of the XVIII century and the rich culture are also part of it, but tourists often do not even suspect that, although this type of tourism on the Bahamas is also developed and promoted. Many preferred option is hiring an independent villa with a sea view instead of the traditional stay in a hotel.

India

From the symbol of love Taj Mahal to the ships pier in Kerala, India promises you an exotic travel even for a royal couple. Elephants, history, art and culture all of them will remain in your memories. Manali ski slopes and the discos on the beaches of Goa are always available in this very modern and very western in style.

Caribbean Cruise

There is nothing more romantic than a boat trip at sunset. Or maybe there is deserted island beaches, restaurants with views towards the ocean, spa procedures for couples. And these are just some of the options. Most companies that offer cruises have additional offers to the basic package, customized specifically for newlywed couples. The honeymoon passes in a refined, elegant environment, which lose touch with the everyday life.

Caribbean cruise

The choice now should be easy. If not yet, at least the range of options is reduced. Well, think quickly, locking suitcases and go because it is really tempting.

Thailand Travel Itinerary for Backpackers

Tempting as it is to throw caution to the wind, it has been proven that many backpackers who do not think their trips through encounter more difficulties than those who have a good itinerary.

When to go?

Thailand is a great backpacking destination all year round. December to the end of April is the warmest and driest time, and also the most popular period. May to August is the build up to the monsoon time, which means it will probably rain from time to time. From September to the end of November is the monsoon season when it rains the most but guesthouse rates are at their lowest.

Bustling Bangkok:

Most backpackers start their journey in the Thai capital Bangkok and are most likely to stay in the tourist hub of Khao San Road. The area is packed with a plethora of bars and guesthouses making it a great hang out spot for backpackers to share travel stories and experiences with one another. It is best to arrange your first night accommodation before you arrive, after a 13 hour flight the last thing you want to be doing is trundling around with your backpack in the tropical heat trying to find a bed for the night! There are a few guesthouses operated by the company Sawasdee offering cheap comfortable rooms in the Khao San Road area great for settling in to the Thai way of life on your first night in the country!

Bustling Bangkok

Be sure to visit the street markets, browsing through the narrow rows of clothes and jewellery stalls, you’re bound to pick up a great bargain ideal for a souvenir. For a spot of sightseeing, head to the golden spires of the ‘Grand Palace’ and the spectacular ‘Temple of the Emerald Buddha’ Thailand’s most sacred site! Metered taxis are the easiest way to get around the city; each taxi company has their own colored cars ranging from pink, to orange and blue so they’re easy to spot.

Southern Islands

Koh Samui:

The South is mostly about the white sandy beaches and water activities in the warm sea making it the perfect place to relax and top up your tan. The pace of life on the islands is slow, a far cry from the hustle bustle of Bangkok. Fly from Bangkok to Koh Samui, where warm seas and palm trees greet you as you arrive. Bangkok Airways operate frequent flights to the island but the earlier you book, the cheaper the fare.

Ko Pha Ngan:

For you party goers, Ko Samui’s neighbouring island of Ko Pha Ngan is famous for the Full Moon Party which is celebrated on Haad Rin beach each month. There are many guesthouse and beach bungalow accommodation to choose from but the rates are usually higher around the time of the Full Moon Party event and can become crowded during peak season. There are several ferries a day from Ko Samuis ‘Big Buddha’ pier directly to Haad Rin costing less than 400 Baht.

Culture of the North

Chiang Mai:

To sample a slice of Thai history, travel north to Thailand’s former capital city Chiang Mai. Take a trip to Doi Suthep, a Buddhist temple 15 km outside the city. It sits at the top of a 1600m high mountain, from where you have a fantastic panorama view of Chiang Mai and the surrounding mountains. In the evening take a walk to the night market. It’s usually really busy, full of street food stalls serving amazing food, and local crafts stalls, haggle hard for that holiday souvenir.

Chiang Mai

Pai:

A trip to the north of Thailand would not be complete without a visit to the laid back town of Pai, a location popular with backpackers and a 4 hour bus ride from Chiang Mai. The town has many cheap guesthouses and riverside bungalows, local craft stalls and restaurants serving tasty Thai food and in the proximity of the town are spas and elephant camps. If you choose to venture outside of town, there are several waterfalls and a number of natural hot springs varying in temperature from 80 to 200 degrees Celsius. As Pai lies at the foot of the mountains, many tourists use it as a base for trekking and visiting hill tribes like the Karen and Hmong people. Visit the local tourist information offices for details on tours available in Pai ranging from elephant rides to jungle trekking.

Backpacking Activities:

The Thai word for fun is ‘sanook,’ so you’ll never have a dull moment in Thailand! There really is an activity to suit everyone which will make a good story to tell friends about at home! Capture your imagination by listening to the mystical sounds of chanting monks in remote hillside temples, snorkel in the warm turquoise sea, pet tigers at the famous ‘Tiger Temple,’ discover remote mountain villages by elephant back in the lush landscapes of Northern Thailand, float along the river on a handmade bamboo raft, or the more adventurous backpacker can go on a 3 day jungle trek.

Backpacker Travel Insurance:

For those going backpacking, the cheapest option is most likely to be a backpacker travel insurance policy which allows you to choose cover up to a maximum of 18 months. It is important that you remember to check that the backpacker travel insurance policy offers you the level of cover that you need for your trip before you buy it.

Backpacker Travel

When buying your backpacker travel insurance, don’t assume that every policy is the same. Your needs may be different from others, so make sure your travel insurance for backpackers provides the cover that you require. Read the small print, check the level of cover and ensure you are covered for any activities that you want to undertake. Carry your backpacker travel insurance documentation and the 24 hour emergency assistance number on you at all times along with your policy number.

Taj Mahal Agra, India

The name of the mausoleum Taj Mahal is the short name of Mumtaz Mahal. After the death of the empress, the country has declared a two-year mourning period from 1661 to 1663. At the end of the period the construction began. For the place of the construction was chosen a large garden on the river, owned by a noble family. The choice of location is dictated by the magical view.

20,000 people work here for 17 years. Architects and craftsmen were collected from all over India, Iran and Turkey.

For the construction are used Yemeni agates, Arabic corals, Persian onyx and amethyst. One legend states that upon completion of Taj Mahal, the master architects were blinded or killed so they can never again create such beauty.

At the beginning of XIX century the British Governor-General plans to destroy the Taj Mahal and sell it to pieces. The monument was saved only because of the lack of potential buyers in England.

Mumtaz Mahal

Taj Mahal is 580 meters long and 300 meters wide. In the complex, except the tomb and the mosque there are also stables and inns for guests.

The mausoleum has a square base, rounded at the corners, each side is 56.6 m long, with a large central arch in the middle and lower arches on both sides. There is a small dome at each corner and the central dome, 70 meters high, looks like a huge pearl Mohammed describes the throne of God as white pearl resting on four columns. The facade of the mausoleum is covered with carvings and inlays of colored stones, and the verses from the Quran are combined with floral motifs. The tomb is located on a platform, as the only double staircase leads to the mausoleum. On either side of the platform rise four minarets, 41.6 meters high, which are slightly inclined outwards: during an earthquake minarets had to fall sideways, and not on the tomb. Of each tower is written one letter R, H, M, N and together they read the ar-Rahman (Merciful), one of 99 names of Allah.

The interior of the mausoleum consists of a central hall with superb acoustics and four octagonal halls on the side they have been provided by Shah Jahan as tomb of members of the imperial family, but Aurangzeb ignored the will of his father. A crypt is located under the hall. It hosts the tombs of Mumtaz Mahal and Shah Jahan. There are replicas of the tombs in the central hall, as it was usual to make a private and a public grave. Graves in the hall are decorated with precious stones. They were originally surrounded by a silver screen, but Aurangzeb replaced it with a magnificent one made of marble. Some of the mosaic flowers used to decorate the screen are made ​​up of over 60 pieces and create the illusion of massiveness. There is a lamp over the graves whose flame never had to be turned off (modern lamp was donated by Governor General of India Lord Curzon, as the original was stolen).

Taj Mahal is the most beautiful at sunrise covered with fog, dew and red light.

The city of Agra

Agra was the chosen city of Mugal emperors (one of the largest and most powerful dynasties in world history) in the early years. Here the founder of the dynasty Babur crated the first formal Persian garden on the banks of river Yamuna. Here his grandson raised the towering ramparts of the great Red Fort. Surrounded by his walls, the son built rose-red palaces and gardens. And his son them decorated them with marble mosques, palaces inlaid with white marble.

The city of Agra

Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal

Taj Mahal is mausoleum build by the Emperor Shah Jahan for his lovely wife Mumtaz Mahal.

As a young Prince Khurram, the third son of Emperor Jahangir, married the beautiful Princess Arjumand Bano Begum, from which he had 14 children.

In 1628 Khurram occupies the imperial throne under the name of Shah Jahan (ruler of the world) and his wife is called Mumtaz Mahal (the palaces jewel).

Mumtaz Mahal accompanied her husband in all his military campaigns.

Extremely close in nature, even some historians claim that together they took decisions for the future of the empire.

Mumtaz died during a military campaign in 1631 with the birth of their 14th child at 39 years of age. On the deathbed, she asks him to build something big and great, with which to commemorated her. The Emperor immortalized Mumtaz Mahal with the construction of a magnificent marble tomb.

Shah Jahan

The construction was long and exhausting. There was severe financial crisis in the empire. At this point one of the greatest sons saw an opportunity finally to ascend the throne. He accused his father and overtook the palace. Shahs dream was to build a black mausoleum for himself, apposite the white. But that never happened.

Tsavo National Park Kenya, Africa

Tsavo National Park, with its 22,000 square kilometers is the largest national park in Kenya and one of the biggest in the world. Thanks to its size it is divided to Tsavo West and Tsavo East. This place to visit is for people that are seeking for privacy and solitude and ofcourse to explore the wilderness of the Savannah.

Tsavo National Park Kenya

Tsavo National Park is close to Mombasa and this gives the option for going on a Safari for those who stay on the coast. Of course after the dusty Safari people can enjoy sunny beaches of Kenya.

dusty Safari

The West part of Tsavo National Park is covered with outcrops from rocks, cones from volcanic activities and lava flows. The most developed of Tsavo West is the northern part. There are lots of lodges and  sights to see.

The tourist attractions of the park are two waterholes, built by the lodges to more or less guarantee that their guests will be treated to fabulous game viewing.

Chaimu Crater and the Roaring Rocks viewpoint are one of the places to visit situated southeast of the Kilaguni Safari Lodge.

The other part of the National Park, Tsavo East, is more open as a savannah. The symbol here is the larger number of elephants and the big buffalo herds up to 1000 buffalos.

For some years now, only the southern part of the has been open to public, because the danger of poachers. If you are visitor there it is more likely to see dead elephant.

dead elephant

Tsavo National Park has some interesting places to visit, because of its geographic features the Lugard Falls and the Mzima Springs. You can walk to a large pool at Mzima, which is favorite place of hippos and crocodiles or maybe you prefer the underwater viewing chamber which gives the opportunity to see a lot of primordial fish.

National parks of Arizona

Grand Canyon National Park

Grand Canyon National Park is one of the oldest national parks in the United States. Through its territory goes Colorado river . In millions of years the river has dug through the rocks and has formed multi-color gap The Grand Canyon. One of the deepest canyons on the planet It is 277 miles (446 km) long and 5 250 feet (1600 meters) deep.

Although it receives the governments protection in 1893, a national reserve and a national monument status it wasn’t before 1919 that it was proclaimed national park. In the same year the park is visited by 45 000 people. Nowadays the Grand Canyon Nation park is being visited by 5 million people annually. Evidence have been found in the park that prove that it was inhabited by Indian tribes 12 000 years ago.

Grand Canyon

The park has to offer different tourist attractions. There are steep pathways that lead to the bottom of the canyon. You can fly over the canyon with a helicopter or a plane. The latest attraction is the Grand Canyon Skywalk. It is a tourist attraction along the Colorado River on the edge of the Grand Canyon. It is a glass walkway that has the shape of a horseshoe. Build at 1,200-meter (4,000 ft) height above the floor of the canyon exceeds the height of the world’s largest skyscrapers. The Skywalk was opened for tourists in March 2007 and is commissioned and owned by the Hualapai Indian tribe. The admission fee for a walk on the Skywalk is $29.95 plus tax (this may vary with time), which is paid to the Hualapai Indian tribe at the Skywalk itself.

Canyon de Chelly National Monument

Located in the northeastern part of Arizona within the boundaries of Navajo Nation, Canyon de Chelly National Monument covers 131 square miles (339 km2). The monument embraces 3 major canyons: de Chelly, del Muerto, and Monument.

What makes Canyon de Chelly unique is that it consists entirely of Navajo Tribal Trust Land that remains home to the canyon community.

In the park you can see ancient ruins and geologic structures. There is no fee to see the canyon. Tours of the canyon floor can be booked at the visitor center.

If you decide to visit the Canyon de Chelly, you should know that the access to it is restricted and you will only be allowed to travel if accompanied by park ranger or an authorized Navajo guide. The only exception from this rule is the White House Ruin Trail.

National Monument

One of the attractions is the Spider rock. It is a sandstone spire which height is 800 feet (240 m). Numeral television commercials used it as a scene.

Casa Grande Ruins National Monument

Casa Grande was declared a National Monument in 1918. It consists of the ruins of multiple Hohokam structures. It is Located in Coolidge, Arizona. In Spanish Casa Grande means big house. The monument is named after the largest structure on the site. It used to be a four story building and is supposed to have been abandoned in the mid 1400s. The building is made out of caliche.

Casa Grande Ruins is a great place for teachers to take their kids. If you decide to do so make sure to plan the visit, make reservations, peruse on-site activities and request fee waivers.

Mahe Island, Seychelles Typical Exotic Destination

If you want to know with what the Seychelles attract tourists, visit the island of Mahe. It is a typical example of an exotic destination.  This is the lord of the Seychelles.

The fame and magnetism of the Seychelles are so attractive even royal couples and many other famous people visit it as a honeymoon destination. But among all the 115 islands, Mahe is a typical representative of the Seychelles it combines magnificent forests, abundant flowers, tropical plants, exotic animals and birds longed beaches inaccessible granite cliffs, attractive underwater world and hospitable local population. Adding a wide range of tourist amenities for every taste and pocket, unique taste of Creole cuisine and varied nightlife, Mahe Island became the epitome of tropical paradise.

Although Mahe island is economic and political center of the Seychelles and top tourist destination, it still hasn’t lost a drop of charm and beauty. The majestic mountains covered with an abundance of green vegetation can inspire every tourist. And the many beaches scattered along the entire coast of the island, often will make you feel like you are the only visitors.

Scattered in the waters of the Indian Ocean, Mahe is the largest island in the Seychelles. It is also the most populated among them almost 90% of the population of the country live here. The middle of it is flat area, dotted with lush vegetation, crossed by a mountain whose highest point is Morn Seychellois (905 m). It falls within the National Park. The population and tourist resorts are concentrated along the coast especially in the capital of the Seychelles Victoria.

Mahe island

Although the British ship reached the coast of Mahe for the first time in 1609, the island has been studied in detail in 1742 when the French explorer Lazare Pico did an expedition. The researchers found huge turtles, colorful birds and freshwater springs there. Two years later Pico named the island, which is the largest from the Seychelles area, after the   Governor of Mauritius Bertrand-Francois Mahe Labourdonnais  Mahe.

In 1756 Mahe and its surroundings were declared a French property, but the residents of Mauritius receiving permission to settle in these lands in 1770. The island remained under the rule of France until 1812 during which time the authorities are trying hard to improve the spice trade, bringing them together with other cultures in the life of local people.

By the end of XVIII century Britain declares its presence in the Indian Ocean and takes control over Mauritius, Mahe and surrounding islands. Then the capital of established is Seychelles Victoria.

In 1903 the Seychelles became a separate British Colony and remained such until 1976, when they receive independent status. Meanwhile, the local economy serving devastating consequences of two wars, in consequence of which formed the first political parties in power. In the period 1977 1993 Socialists ruled, and then after the free elections in 1993, Seychelles became an independent republic.

Top Attractions on the Mahe Island

Given that most of the local population and tourism are concentrated in the capital island of Mahe Victoria, it is natural to direct our attention to it. While it is the largest city in the country, it is actually the smallest metropolis in the world. Located in the northeastern part of the island and is named after Queen Victoria who ruled during the colonization period. The main headquarters of the administrative institutions and the international airport of Seychelles are located in the capital. And the main economic income comes from exports of vanilla, coconut, coconut oil, soap and poultry manure.

The Most Popular Attractions on the Island of  Mahe are in The Capital:

The clock tower one of the most famous national monuments of Seychelles. It is a miniature copy of the clock tower, built at the junction of Victoria Street and Vauxhall Bridge Road in 1897, but was built six years later in Victoria in 1903. The current ruler of Seychelles then ordered it as a memorial in honor of Queen Victoria who died in 1901 after 63 years reign. Today it counts the clock every hour.

Catholic cathedral Virgin birth of Jesus one of the first churches in the Seychelles. Built in 1874, today it is a center of religious life for most residents and major stop of all tours around the city. Will impress you with its impressive size and French colonial style. In an underground tomb, marked with a special sign, rest the remains of the first and only Seychelles bishop Felix Paul, died on November 21, 2001.

Hindu Temple Arulmigu Navasakti Vinayagar the only Hindu temple in the Seychelles. Built in 1992 and dedicated to the Hindu god of prosperity and safety Vinayagar. With typical trapezoidal architecture, it will grab you with the profusion of colors and designs.

Botanic Gardens founded in 1901 on the initiative of the director of agricultural services of Seychelles and prominent naturalist Paul Evenor Rivalz Dupont. Today, the Botanic gardens are maintained by the local Ministry of Environment, whose headquarter is in their territory and are designed to contribute to national efforts in environmental education, plant conservation, management of natural resources, recreation and Eco-tourism. There are over 50 different types of palms, among which stand out the symbol of the Seychelles Coco de Mer (sea coconut palm) and Chinese palm, all sorts of exotic flowers and fruit trees. There are is House of the orchid, giant tortoise enclosure and areas with tropical birds.

National Court Historical Building, Built in 1887 in Colonial Style.

As one of the most popular recreation centers on the island of Mahe,Victoria city can boast also with several museums. First on the list of cultural tourists interested should stand the National History Museum with the original stone of possession, set in 1756 as a sign of the conquest the territory by France. Besides a museum, the building is used also for National Gallery, Archives and Library. There are impressive pirated goods, Greek columns, musical instruments and objects from the colonial era stored here.

Historical Building

And last but not least, one of the most attractive sights of Mahe are the endless golden beaches with fine sand, exotic vegetation and dreamed privacy. They have made tourism a major industry in the country. Northern and eastern are lively, with cozy restaurants and bars. To the south and west you can expect only virgin beaches, at which you will probably be the only sunbathers.

Basel The Golden Gate of Switzerland

Border cities are interesting in that they reflect on their faces at least a glimmer of the surrounding countries. But there is no other city that nestles to two countries, like Basel to Germany on one side and France on the other. This strange city Basel is actually situated so close to the boundary posts that it is possible to reach two other countries by tramway from the center of the town.

Basel is the only town in the world to which German and French parliamentarians can travel without expenses. Count R. Coudenhove-Kalegri.

Basel The Golden Gate of Switzerland

Where else could it be possible and it does happen now and then to enjoy a delicious dish of asparagus in an Alsatian village in France, to drink a cup of coffee in a cozy  tavern in the Black Forest in Southern Germany a little later, and to end the evening with a glass of wine in a Basle cafe in Switzerland.  And all that in one evening.

This exaggerated example of excursions into different countries, suggests of course a lot of possibilities to visitors of the town. Furthermore, the surroundings in all directions are particularly worth seeing, and are visited by tourists from all over the world.

On the Swiss side, just behind the boundary of the town, spread the gently sloping woody hills of the Jura Mountains. With its numerous castles, ruins and citadels, this part of Switzerland attracts many friends of history. But it is also known for the pilgrimage center of Mariastein, for the Roman theater in Augst, for the Goetheanum at Dornach (the World Center of Anthroposophy), and for its many beautiful pathways, far away from the highways.

Roman theater

On the German side, the landscape across the Rhine is quite similar. You will find the Black Forest with its lovely roads and paths, famous health resorts such as Bad Krozingen, Badenweiler, etc., and the city of Freiburg, with its marvelous cathedral.

On the French side, in Alsace, the visitor will be immediately struck by the difference of landscape and people, from those of Germany or Switzerland, just across the border. The villages are arranged in different pattern and the architecture is different too. The population is lively, merry, witty. Famous attractions are LeCorbusiers church of Ronchamp and the Issenheimer Altar in Colmar. And next to Alsatian wine, the visitor can enjoy the specialties of the French cuisine.

The location of Basel in the vicinity of three countries, has many advantages. On the market, in front of the historical town-hall, you can buy flowers, vegetables and fruits that have been picked only a few hours ago in three different countries. By this fact, the life of the city is restricted at all, but on the contrary increased.

historical town-hall

Two-thirds of Basels commercial area consists of foreign territory. Day after day a few thousand borderers, who live in France and Germany, flock to their work places in Basel. And all those who live in the districts around Basel take advantage of the facilities of this big city   the cultural establishments, the Swiss Industries Fair in spring, the Fair in autumn, the sport events and the zoo.  The shops and restaurants offer international choice with Swiss quality. In the winter, you can go skiing in the Feldberg (Black Forest Mountains).

A Visit to The Sacred Pyramids of Yucatan by Bus

You don’t need a rental car to get to the ancient sacred pyramids of the Yucatan Peninsula, you can go by bus. The Mexican people are veteran bus riders, so buses go almost everywhere. And if your destination lies beyond the last stop, you can usually find a taxi-even its a one-man-powered bicycle taxi.

Let’s assume you’re in Cancun, you’ve done the beach, and you’re ready to venture into the interior of the Peninsula by bus. A visit to the very different temples of Ek Balam, Chichén Itzá, Aké, Izamal and Uxmal will take you about 5 days, and span 10 centuries of Maya culture.

Yucatan

First, the Cancun bus terminal is at Avenidas Tulum and Uxmal downtown, is for both 1st-class and 2nd-class buses. In general Mexican buses are a comfortable, cheap, safe way to travel. 1st-class buses offer more leg room than most charter airlines, and different companies compete for your peso with varying departure times, fares and goodies. ADO is a good one. 1st-class buses have reserved seats, a toilet, TV and A/C-bring a sweater, the drivers like it cold. They take the toll-road so they’re fast-Chichén Itzá in 3 hrs. The windows have drapes, and the seats recline, so you can cocoon.

2nd-class buses take the narrow public highways and stop every time anyone wants to get on or off, so they’re slow. But they’re fun if you have time. These are the country’s workhorses and are full of families with kids. Seats are up for grabs, but because people are constantly getting off and on, seats are always opening up, and it’s like a game of checkers as you move around until you land next to your companion. There’s no toilet and often no A/C-so bring bottled water but don’t drink too much. Bring munchies, too-you never know. But be aware that 2nd class buses are only 10 to 20% cheaper than 1st class. Basically, the buses in the Yucatán Peninsula are wholesome-not like Greyhound in the US. A drive attendant is on hand to welcome you aboard-sometimes with Coke and cookies, at the very least the captain introduces himself-bus driver is a professional job here. We’ve seen young solo American women go it alone without too much hassle, people retrieve valuable articles they forgot and left on the bus, and luggage stolen from the under bus compartment. So the key here is watchful.

If you want to take a bus when you land, but your plane is arriving too late, a good place to stay is the yellow-fronted Best Western Plaza Caribe across from the Cancun bus station (98) 84 1377. It has clean little rooms, a pool, a fairly good restaurant, and is close to grocery stores. If possible, go to the station and buy your ticket the day before you want to go. Destinations, fares and times are posted above the ticket counters, so compare different companies. The women ticket-sellers might not speak English, but they’re used to point-and-pay extranjeros and are resigned to figuring out what you want. Read your ticket while you’re still at the counter to make sure when and where you’re going. Then get to the station 20 minutes before your departure time, as the buses leave on time. They’re all swamped during Christmas and Easter holidays.

luggage stolen

Ek Balam To Ek Balam . . .

Buy a ticket to Valladolid (vya-da-leed), a small colonial city with lots of churches, the oldest dating to 1552. From here you can hire a taxi to take you to Ek Balam for about $15US round-trip with a wait, where you can watch workers free the stones of huge pyramids from the clutches of trees and bushes. This site, under reconstruction, was a major center, and its destined to become a major tourist attraction, although for now you can sit alone on its circular pyramid. Bring Your Own Water.

Valladolid is worth a nites stay-El Meson del Marquez on the main square is good (98) 562073. Plan to swim in the cenote Dzitnup-you can rent bicycles and pedal out 1 1/2 mi.-and frolic in the crystal-clear water of an underground river. Some 60 feet beneath the Earth’s surface, it’s a fairy-land of stalactites and stalagmites, with little fish that tickle your toes. At midday, a finger of sunlight penetrates a small opening in the rock above and enters the water.

Go on to Chichén Itzá (28 mi) by 2nd-class bus.

Chichen Itza To Chichéén Itzá . . .

If you want to skip Ek Balam, buy your ticket in Cancun directly to Chichén Itzá and plan to stay overnight. You can get to Chichén and back to Cancun in a day by bus, but you’ll have only an hour or two at the site, which has one of the most spectacular pyramids, and the largest ballcourt in Mesoamerica. 1st-class buses take you directly to the park entrance, 2nd-class buses drop you at the station about 1/2 a mile away.

You can usually get a room without calling ahead, except for Christmas and spring equinox. The Mayaland hotel is practically on the ruins (800) 235-4079 US, as is the neighboring Hacienda Chichén in a 17th century hacienda (800) 223-4084 US-both are pricey. As a result, the town of Piste gets most travelers. Only 1/2 mi. from Chichéns entrance, it has many small hotels of varying prices. The best low-budget choice is Dolores Alba, a family-run hotel on the highway near the ruins, (99) 28-5650. It has clean rooms with A/C, and good food for breakfast and dinner. Ask your bus driver to let you off-if you’re on a 1st-class bus, you might have to go on to Chichén and take a taxi the 3 miles back to the hotel for about 40 pesos.

Be sure to allow time for a swim in the nice, privately-owned Azul cenote in a deep underground river. It’s on the highway outside of Chichén. And visit the nearby Balankanche cave, where the Itzá made offerings to the rain gods, Chac and Tlaloc.

Merida Map To Merida . . .

Merida, the colonial capital of the Yucataán state, makes a good base of operations-its large, crowded, noisy, interesting, charming and gracious. If you skip Ek Balam and Chichén, and go on to Merida first, take the premium class UNO bus-its seats are like a chaise lounge, and there’s on-board coffee, coke and water. Depending on your bus, you’ll arrive at either the 2nd-class bus station on Calle 69 between 68 and 70, or the 1st-class station right beside it on Calle 70.

In Merida, Hotel Caribe (99) 24-9022 is an excellent value-clean, inexpensive, downtown, yet on Hidalgo Park, which buffers the traffic noise. A block away, and more expensive but still a favorite, is Hotel Casa del Balam (800) 235-4079 US.

Merida Map

To Uxmal, and the Ruta Puuc . .

Buy a 2nd class bus ticket in Merida in advance for the Ruta Puuc. A round-trip Ruta Puuc bus (under $10 US) is basically a tour without a guide to the ancient, small cities of Labna, Xlapak, Sayil, Kabah-stopping at each for 35 minutes or so-and the grand dame Uxmal where you get 2 hrs. It’s a good way to get acquainted with the area.

The bus first visits the furthermost ruta city, Labna, with one of the largest and most ornate Maya arches, a nice palace, and a temple with a roof comb. Next is Xlapak, which means in Maya Old Walls. Then there’s Sayil, with its impressive palace. Even better is Kabah-its Codz-Pop building is completely covered with the their long, curved noses of Chac faces.

Finally, there’s mysterious Uxmal, which is to the northern low hill (puuc) country what Chichén Itzá is to the flatland jungle-a wonderful complex with a huge pyramid. In fact, many people prefer it to Chichén, its less touristic and gentler. Its round-shouldered pyramid is over 100 feet tall, with very steep, narrow steps, its ornate Governors Palace is the finest ancient architecture in Mesoamerica, and scholars are still puzzling over the astronomical correlations in the Nunnery Quadrangle.

If you want to stay a night or two in Uxmal and see the evening light-and-sound show, don’t reboard the bus, just get one another day. Rancho Uxmal is a good value, but a 45-minute walk from the ruins. More expensive, the Hotel Mision Uxmal is 1/2 mi. from the ruins (800) 437-7275 US. And most expensive, Hacienda Uxmal is a few feet from the entrance (800)235-4079 US.

To Izamal . . .

From Merida, take a 2nd-class bus to Izamal (42 mi.). It’s fabulous Kinich Kakmo pyramid is so big you can’t possibly fit it into a photo. Be sure to look at its huge stones. There were several other temples, one was overtaken and its stones used in the Convent of Saint Anthony de Padua. But the power is still evident. The church is dedicated to the Virgin of the Immaculate Conception, the patron saint of the Yucatán, who is said to grant miracles to the faithful. Many, many people report a cessation of their suffering after praying here. You can easily get back to Merida the same day, or try the Mechan-che Guest House for a pleasant overnight stay (99) 54-0287.

To Aké . . .

From Merida, take a 2nd class bus to Tixkokob (22 mi.), and then the Hacienda Aké bus to the end of the line. (Check to see when the last bus leaves). There’s only one temple but it’s a rare jewel-with huge gray stones and many massive columns, it’s reminiscent of Greek temples. You can climb other raw pyramids, but in fact others were dismantled to build the hacienda and its little church. A stop on Tixkokob can be fun-it’s a traditional town, famous for its hammock makers.

Weather in Nov, Dec, Jan

Weather in these months is almost perfect-warm and dry.

Average temperatures:

Month                                 High                                     Low

Nov.                                    85F  30C                              70F  20C

Dec.                                     83F  28C                              65F  18C

Jan.                                      83F  28C                              65F  18C

A Norte, or cold front, can drop the temp dramatically, so bring a sweater and light jacket. Winter is the dry season, but rain occasionally happens.

First Timers in Cancun 7 Travel Tips

Use The Bus

Rental cars are expensive, and driving can be a hassle. In Cancun, take the nice public buses for 3 pesos-carry change. They run frequently on Paseo Kukulcan. Want to get out of town? Hire a taxi-at a set fare agreed upon in advance. It will cost the same as or less than a car rental. If you do rent, don’t drive at night.

Currency

Take both currency and Travelers Checks to Mexico. TCs give you peace of mind, bills give you flexibility. Bring only nice, crisp, untorn, unmarked bills-you can’t trade creepy cash-in a mix of $100s & $20s. Cambio booths offer good enough rates, compare for the best. Count your cash before leaving the window. Cashiers may short you, but oddly, they quickly pay up when caught.

Phone Home

Buy a Ladatel phone card to phone home or in Mexico, and save a bundle. Dont use your hotel room phone! Buy a card for 20, 50 or 100 pesos at a store or farmacia. Find a public phone (they’re everywhere), stick the card in the slot and you’ll get the best rate. For the US, dial 01 95, area code and number. A digital screen shows time ticking off, and deducts it from the card. Hang up before it reaches the next whole minute-and save 10 pesos.

Phone Home

Red Cabbage CagePacal in Puerto Vallarta?

If you find yourself in Puerto Vallarta, you’ll want to visit the famous Red Cabbage Cafe (www.redcabbagepv.com), with its Maya connection. Besides having some of the best food anywhere, the Pacal Room has an enormous stained glass reproduction of the mysterious tomb lid of Pacal (ruler of Palenque) and the giant Aztec calendar stone. Amazing!

High Season

People coming and prices rising coincide in mid-December and last until Easter. Before and after that, things are cheaper and more laid-back, with prices fluctuating more on the beach-resort cities than inland and in Merida. You might have trouble getting a room in the week of Christmas/New Years, so either reserve in advance, or check with the hotel of choice early each morning for vacancy.

Yucatán Specialty Foods

The Maya still say they are people of corn, and corn in every form is a kitchen staple. tortillas cooked corn circles made by hand in many places totopes triangular corn chips to dip up beans elote broiled corn-on-the-cob with lime & chili powder Poc chuc grilled pork steak seasoned with chili, salt & lime Pollo pibil chichen quarter seasoned with lime & orange, wrapped in banana leaves and steamed until tender panuchos tortillas stuffed with beans & topped with shredded beef or turkey salbutes flat tortillas smothered with diced turkey, pickled onion & slice avacado comida corrida set-price dish of the day flan custard dessert.

Specialty Foods

Recipe for Xni Pec

Serve this Maya salsa with scrambled eggs, beans, rice, meat or corn chips. 2-3 tomatoes finely diced 1 onion finely diced 1 T. lime juice (or more) 1/3 c. cilantro finely diced salt to taste diced habanero chili pepper to taste Mix all ingredients together and let sit for 1 or 2 hours in the refrigerator to mix flavors. You might want to put the habanero on the side, rather than mix it in because it’s too spicy for some people.