It’s safe to say travel in Bolivia is not glamorous. Much of the same sensory language often used to describe the nation’s diverse landscapes can also be applied to tourism and travel within the country: Primitive, unpredictable, remarkable, rough.
But for the majority of those journeying here to the heart of South America, that’s the draw. It’s undoubtedly a country for the adventurous- the no reservations and zero hesitations type. There’s surprise at every turn, and despite it’s challenges, Bolivia is every bit enthralling, alluring, and captivating.
Living in the synchronized chaos of Santa Cruz de la Sierra for five years (going on six!), I’m constantly in need of a change of pace. My bags are almost always packed, waiting to get out and explore rugged terrain, to stand alone surrounded only by nature, and to rediscover the beauty that this country possesses in every direction.
My favorite way to escape the city is with a weekend road trip.
In contrast to the stereotypical Bolivian image of snowcapped mountains and bowler hats reenforced year after year by guidebooks, the Bolivia that I know and love is hot. Here in the oriente, it’s steamy, tropical, and wet. And over the years, I’ve come to learn there is so much more to see and do in this region of the country than is ever talked about.
So for years, literally years, I had been planning a trip to visit Refugio Los Volcanes, an eco resort bordering the nearby Amboro National Park. Our friends from local tour agency Nick’s Adventures begged us to go on several occasions, but the opportunity to go hadn’t risen until one particular weekend in December, when my now-husband spontaneously packed the car for a little trip southwest. Little did I know, this would become one of the most significant weekends of my life.
Refugio Los Volcanes
The great thing about Refugio is that for us in Santa Cruz, the eco resort is close enough to home, far enough for a vacation. Just two hours from the city, it’s the definition of a perfect weekend getaway: remote, off the grid, unknown, and most importantly, quiet. For those visiting Bolivia, it’s a reason to head east and find serenity in an overlooked and underrated region of the country.
The Refugio experience begins well before arriving to the lodge—it really takes off around kilometer 40 on carreterra 7, the road to Samaipata. As the road begins to wind further into the mountains, less of it becomes shareable between two lanes of traffic. Semi trucks, trufis, motorcyclists, buses, and dogs alike hug the shoulder of the tight gravel that lines massive walls of sandstone and overlook the Rio Piaraí (river Piray).
Abruptly about an hour into the drive, (just passing the colorfully marked volunteer hostal Ginger’s Paradise) there is but a mere wooden sign that indicates a sharp turnoff in the tiny town of Bermejo where the climb to Refugio begins.
By the time we arrived at sunset, we were greeted with a breathtaking view of the valley, and it was love at first sight!
In typical Jessica fashion, I couldn’t wait more than 10 minutes after arriving at the base of the lodge before asking for a guide to give us a tour of the trails. We set out for a quick, 40-minute hike to get a feel for the forest and stretch our legs before the sun completely set.
The property of Refugio Los Volcanes is located on the border of Amboro National Park, one of the most botanically rich nature reserves in the world. It is comprised of three ecosystems (the foothills of the Andes, the northern Chaco, and the Amazon Basin), and home to a wide range of unspoiled wildlife, floral and fauna. The park also boasts the greatest concentration of bird species in the world, and with a staggering 800 species, is home to 60% of the country’s entire avian population!
I would have been happy with just this little adventure for the quick hike and views alone, but shortly after our arrival, this hidden paradise took hold of a very special place in my heart — it’s where I got engaged!
My fiancé-to-be could not have picked a better place to propose. Not only was this type of weekend adventure 100% “our style,” it was also the most intimate and peaceful place to share such a meaningful moment. Seeing as neither of us had visited the lodge before, I tease that he took two gambles that weekend–hoping for a “yes” and hoping that the place would fit his plans!
It’s not easy to surprise me, but after our hike he sure pulled of the most romantic evening of our seven years together incredibly well! With some preplanning help from our friends Nick and Carolina (Team Nick’s Adventures), my husband worked with the staff to create a candlelit picnic dinner atop a waterfall! As dinnertime approached, we headed to the chalet where family-style meals are cooked and shared with the other guests, but was guided to a small path off to the side of the dining room.
From here a trail of candles led to our private dinner table accompanied by the Milky Way above us and cascading falls below us. A couple of bottles of wine later with a beautiful ring that nearly fell into the river, I became a señora-to-be and one step closer to becoming an honorary cambita through marriage!
The day after
The day following our engagement really is quite a blur! I was floating on cloud nine all morning that I hardly remember having breakfast at all!
I do remember lacing up my boots to set off to explore the other trails in the early morning (with my new fiancé!), and was in awe of the panoramic views and nature’s pristine playground that we basically had to ourselves.
I really enjoyed the flexibility of the trails, and the fact that you can take the hikes at whatever pace you are most comfortable with. Despite the elevation changes and dramatic sandstone rock cliffs towering over you, the trails leisurely wind through the valley, surrounded by a tropical sanctuary of bromeliads, orchids, giant ferns, and a wall or two full of salamanders! The hikes are doable with kids, and I’m secretly so excited to bring my littles here one day!
And again, those views!
Let me tell you, I’ve been up and down and all across Bolivia only to find that one of the most spectacular and breathtaking landscapes has been a mere 90 minutes away from home the entire time. There is NOTHING like it.
One year later
To celebrate our first year of marriage, Jay and I returned to where our new chapter in life together began at Refugio. We recreated the second most special night of our lives with lunch in the very spot that Jay proposed, and this time with pizza!
Take a quick glance on Trip Advisor and you’re sure to see guests raving on and on about Refugio’s oven-baked pizzas. Seeing as we missed out on our first trip, we weren’t leaving without finally having the chance to try one, and we managed to devour two within a matter of minutes! There is merit behind the reviews!
Go for the hikes, stay for the stars
On both occasions to Refugio Los Volcanes, I’ve been blown away by the canvas of constellations that paints the night sky. (Coming from the North Star State and having lived in the Hawaiian islands, that’s saying something!) On the night we got engaged, my fiancé and I sat atop a waterfall admiring the Milky Way – can the notion of romantic get any better than that?! Stargazing from the hammocks at the lodge is more than mesmerizing, it’s an unforgettable way to end a trip.
A post shared by Refugio Los Volcanes (@refugiolosvolcanes) on Jul 25, 2017 at 10:42am PDT
Book your stay
Photo: Refugio Los Volcanes
Refugio Los Volcanes has made major improvements to their booking system since our first visit last year, and their updated website makes it easier than ever to plan your visit. If you are hoping to spend more time exploring the Amboro National Park aside from the lodge, or are coming/going to the nearby town of Samaipata (which you most definitely should!), get in touch with the Australian/Bolivian team of Nick’s Adventures to plan a tour that includes a night or two at Refugio in addition to other activities in the area!
We cannot thank the incredible team at Refugio Los Volcanes enough for being a part of our story and treating us so well during this sweet season of our lives. We will forever hold this sanctuary near and dear to us, and are delighted to know that every time we return, we will be welcomed as part of the Refugio family.
Salud to love, travel, and a life full of adventure!
As a proud Minnesotan, I can’t boast enough about the Midwest. It’s an oasis of tranquility, an eclectic blend of cityscapes and greenery. And yet, travel to our neck of the woods is highly underrated!
Every year during my visit back home to the Land of 10,000 Lakes, I’m sure to take time to venture into the surrounding states, and this summer’s vacay plans are devoted to getting off the beaten path in South Dakota.
Sure, this scenic state is mostly known for America’s shrine of democracy, but there’s so much more than Rushmore!
My last visit to the Black Hills was nearly ten years ago, but after my brothers recently returned from their hiking trip through the Badlands, I was flooded with sweet memories of road tripping my way across I-90 en route to the Hills. While the state of South Dakota preserves history like none other, it also grows and evolves with each changing season, meaning there’s always something new to see and experience! In planning my return, I’ve complied a mini bucket list of Badlands and Black Hills activities—all in the spirit of adventure of course—so without further ado, here’s what I’m looking forward to:
Badlands National Park
Black Hills National Forest
As you all know, I’m all about that #hikelife, and the trails cutting through the Black Hills don’t disappoint. There’s an abundance of day hikes that range in difficulty from a walk in the park (pun intended) to steep summits, making this experience equally as doable for families with kids as for avid hikers.
Hike Bear Butte State Park
Hiking, panoramic views of the Black Hills
The Wild West experience wouldn’t be complete without a trip by train on the nation’s oldest operating railroad. The 1880 Train transports travelers twenty miles between Hill City and Keystone, showing passengers mining encampments from the 1880s when the railroad was constructed shortly after the Black Hills Gold Rush that erupted in Dakota Territory in 1874. The quick, two-hour ride would be a great way to kick off a little history lesson of the region before hitting the next item on my list!
Planning travel in 2016 is exhausting. Travel fads come and go quicker than your Snapchat and Instagram feeds can predict the latest trends, and as long as technology drives the way we see the world, it will remain an ever-changing landscape to rediscover.
The latest in these trends are the various “travel-isms” that have taken over the industry –Ecotourism, food tourism, responsible tourism, cycle tourism, ect.– that all promote ways to see the world today as a traveler, and not a tourist.
But cycle tourism at its core is not as new of a phenomenon as it’s moniker may lead you to believe. People have been traversing the globe on two wheels for over a century, as early as 1884 when Thomas Stevens became the first to cycle the world in just two years and two months time. (Imagine the snap stories he could have shared!)
The activity has since become a sport, which has evolved into a lifestyle—cyclists have become world travelers, world travelers have become cyclists. And while many cycle tourists now compete to break records for the fastest circumnavigation of the globe by bicycle, others, like professional cyclist Ishbel Taromsari, are taking it slow, spending years in the saddle to not just see the world, but to experience their surroundings to the fullest.
Ishbel is a British-Iranian cyclist who set out to see the world on two wheels in 2014. She been traveling and blogging as the “World Bike Girl” and is on a mission to raise awareness and support for fellow Iranian women to have the right to ride as they wish in her paternal country. She has traveled solo to over 15 countries and has no intention of slowing down anytime soon. She’s one of many peddlers that has fallen in love with the freedom of bicycle travel and the accomplishments one achieves on the open road.
Cycle tourism, however, is not all world tours and Guinness records. This travel style also consists of short, daily rides just as much as month-long trips. It can involve a loaded down cycle, ready to camp in all climates, or can serve merely as a mean of transportation to get you from one beautiful B&B to the next. At its core, cycle tourism serves to give travelers a different perspective of a new place and whether you prefer a grueling or leisurely ride is up to you.
I caught up with Ishbel just before she set out from Bolivia on her way to Brazil to learn more about the benefits of bike travel, and to get a look into the life of a cycle tourist:
What is the biggest benefit to traveling by bicycle?
I’ve traveled the world all different ways—backpacking, hitchhiking, 5-star travel—and for me, the best way to explore a country and their culture is to be on a bicycle. There are different reasons for this, but the main reason is that when you’re on a bicycle and it’s loaded down heavy, it breaks down the barriers of being a tourist with the locals. When they look at you, they don’t see a tourist [but rather] they see this person, and they’re like “That’s incredibly hard.” The locals have this instant respect for you because what you’re doing is different.
How has cycling through South America been compared to Europe and North America?
South America has been hard, it’s been real tough. I advise people who are thinking about coming to cycle South America to start by going out on weekends in their own country first (and maybe do some cycle tourism in Europe) to make sure you have the basics down because it’s tough here! You really have to know your limits when you’re cycling, especially in South America when crossing the Andes, you need to know when you’re close to reaching that line of dangerous cycling and just barely managing to get by in order to get to the top of that mountain.
How have climate changes affected your cycling—especially in Bolivia with the dramatic temperature changes and varying environments spanning a relatively small country?
I cycle four seasons with this bike—that’s one reason why this load is so heavy—so I am set up for all weather. It’s tough because sometimes you are just cold constantly. Like when I crossed the mountains [into Bolivia] I just resigned to myself that I wasn’t going to sleep for a while because it’s too cold. One night I was camping in -20 degrees Celsius and I woke up one morning, touched my hair, and I didn’t know what it was! It was just a sheet of ice and I was confused. It took hours to defrost! That’s how cold it is. You just need to keep moving forward, though, looking for the sunshine.
What has been your favorite thing about Bolivia, cycling aside?
Before I came [to Bolivia] everyone was telling me not to come because it’s too dangerous and that it’s “terrible, horrible and not worth it,” but I got here and I absolutely, freaking fell in love with Bolivia. It’s amazing! Crossing over the Andes from the Atacama [desert] and passing through Salar de Uyuni was incredible. That’s what inspired me to write a book about this country, and I haven’t written one about any other country that I have visited! I definitely want to encourage people to come here.
What is the biggest challenge when it comes to riding solo?
The weather definitely is an issue. When you are in really remote areas you need to plan things [ahead] like, you need to know where you can get help if you run into trouble and where you can get water, for example. There have been times on the trip (like in the mountains) when a massive stormed has dropped at about 4,600 meters above sea level and all I’m thinking about is, “If I could just get over this mountain and still have all my fingers and toes,” because you haven’t felt them for hours and you actually don’t know if you’re gonna have them all or not. There are different phases when you are thinking on that level of survival. One is you just start crying hysterically, but only for a second, and then you are okay, and then you start crying all over again! It’s all just about knowing your absolute limits.
How do you find comfort in being alone on the road for such long periods of time?
The problem that you have when you’re cycling on your own, and especially as a woman, is that you struggle to actually be on your own! That’s because all of the locals want to know what you are doing, they just can’t wrap their head around it. When you do this sort of trip, you’re doing it because you’re ok with being on your alone.
What is your best piece of advice for someone who wants to start cycling and dive into cycle tourism?
Go out with your friends over the weekend in your own country, or in a familiar area, and overnight camp either with your tent or using a campsite the first couple of times. Build it up in this way, don’t just jump into a big tour in a foreign country with no experience before learning your body and learning your limits with riding.
Good luck, Ishbel!
Over to you: Have you taken cycling-oriented trips, and if not, would you? What destination would you like to revisit by bicycle?
Oh Minneapolis, how I adore thee. Widely recognized for its local arts scene and bike-friendly nature, the “Mini Apple” also boasts some of the nation’s best restaurants, bars, and breweries. It’s an eclectic, lively cosmopolitan full of high energy during the summer months—the ideal destination for a weekend getaway.
Sure, being a Minnesota native may mean I am a little biased, but you don’t just have to take my word for it! Travel + Leisure Magazine mentioned Minneapolis as one of the best cities to travel to this summer, so take some inspiration from this local’s guide and get planning! (Be sure to stick around until the end for my giveaway details—a weekend in Minneapolis for two may be nearer to your future than you think!)
WHAT TO DO
Lake Calhoun, Minneapolis
LIVE THE LAKE LIFE
As the Land of 10,000 Lakes (15,291 to be exact), the best place to kick-off your Minneapolis adventure is on the water. You can fish, canoe, sail, paddle, and swim in freshwater all with the city’s skyline in view. Stand-up paddling has become a popular activity on Lake Calhoun and along the Mississippi River, while locals love to hit the beach at Lake Nokomis. There is even a floating library on Cedar Lake that offers free poetry readings from canoes!
If you prefer to stay dry, there are plenty of activities surrounding the lakes, including live music over at the Harriet Bandshell (on Lake Harriet), and trails for hiking, jogging and bicycling that circle Lake of the Isles.
Speaking of biking, given the reputation Minneapolis has for it’s cycling culture means there are a variety of creative ways to see the city by bike. Explore the street art scene with a graffiti tour, or ride past beautiful buildings on an architecture tour downtown. Alternatively, the Art Al Fresco Tour takes riders to see different outdoor art installations while Fit Tourist tours keeps your heart racing and simultaneously showcases the city’s hot-spots. Bike to Beer takes you to the newest microbreweries of Minneapolis and the PedalPub leisurely leads tours through downtown while you simultaneously sip on craft taps.
After spending the day pedaling, catch a baseball game at Target Field, home to the Minnesota Twins. The stadium has been mentioned as the most modern venue to enjoy America’s favorite pastime and, being just blocks away from the famed 1st Avenue (both the music venue and nightlife main street,) is one of the most urban ballparks in the Major Leagues. Baseball just wouldn’t be baseball without a hot dog so fill up on my favorite ballpark bratwursts from Kramarczuk Sausage Company and load ’em up with sauerkraut, fried onions and mustard!
SUPPORT THE ARTS
Lake Street (Uptown, Minneapolis) | Photo by John Gogoi
Minneapolis ranks high as one of the most artistic cities in the U.S., and with a quick walk around town it’s easy to see why.
Get your mornings started with a little breakfast and produce shopping over at the Mill City Farmers Market. Local sustainable farmers and artisans promote healthy living with their wide variety of products that not only support an alternative food system but give back to the community. It’s a fascinating marketplace to try everything from mint charmoula to squid-ink ramen (all organic, of course.) The market is wedged between the Mill City Museum, a historic flour mill that offers concerts and a summer opera series from the building’ iconic ruins, and the Guthrie Theater, currently performing South Pacific and soon to be featuring Sense and Sensibility.
The Uptown Art Fair (August 7-9) takes over Lake Street with over 350 painters, sculptors, photographers and other artists showcasing their best work. If you’re looking for ceramics, jewelry or any other specialty pieces local to Minnesota, this is the place to find it.
Dancers, poets, musicians and magicians have their own festival, too! This year from July 30-August 9, performers seize the opportunity to entertain you for an hour each at the Minnesota Fringe Festival. The event focuses on live stage performance and encourages artists of all ages to participate.
WHERE TO EAT
Minneapolis is becoming one of the nation’s best foodie scenes and has award after award to prove it! People are quick to think hotdish and Lutefisk, but our culinary scene has much more to offer than the stereotypical lefse and SPAM.
Grilled Millbrook Venison | Photo via Spoon and Stable
The 2016 James Beard Foundation “Best Chef of the Midwest” is cooking up some deliciously refined dishes, and paying homage to Minnesota’s Nordic heritage with each plate over at The Bachelor Farmer. Chef Paul Berglund’s cooking at this eco-conscious café focuses on locally-sourced ingredients and features dishes that highlight the vegetables and herbs growing on the restaurant’s rooftop farm.
There’s a lot of hype surrounding the farm-to-table eatery Spoon and Stable, and for good reason. This 2015 “Restaurant of the Year” also features a James Beard award-winning chef whose cuisine focuses on “the seasonality of the Midwest, and the roots of local culture,” as described on their website. If you can only go just once, make it brunch.
Every year, locals vote their favorite hamburgers as the juicy lucys from Blue Door Pub. Known as the “Blucy,” these cheese-filled burgers are also stuffed with peanut butter and come smothered with your favorite choice of sauce. (I can’t even get into how amazing is their basket of tater tots.) It’s a true local original!
During the summer months sidewalks flood with patio dining and outdoor seating in downtown Minneapolis, especially down the famed Nicollet Mall. Diners can enjoy their favorite restaurants with a street view, but I suggest you take outdoor dining to a whole new level—the roof! My go-to dinner with a view is at Stella’s Fish Café & Oyster Bar, but the new 4 Bells (serving southern-inspired dishes) and CRAVE (sushi and American cuisine) are also great choices.
A LA ‘CART’
Hola Arepa food truck | Photo via MSP Magazine
Street food is one of my favorite ways to experience local flavors wherever I travel, so all hail to the food trucks that have have taken the streets by storm to serve up some curbside flavor. There are over 135 trucks serving everything from falafels and empanadas to grilled cheese and tater tot concoctions, so there is undoubtedly something for everyone! Hola Arepa is my go-to truck for Latin flavors and Rusty Taco is numero uno when it comes to Tex-Mex (their shrimp tacos are heavenly!) As evidenced by block-long lines, locals love the lobster rolls of the Smack Shack and Fro Yo Soul for something sweet.
WHERE TO STAY
Enjoy the excitement of downtown without the chaos of sleeping in the city by staying at the Minneapolis West Country Inn & Suites. Avoiding the hassle of traffic and noise is your best bet for a good night’s rest, and this affordable option is located a convenient 15 minutes from downtown.
After a multimillion-dollar renovation, the sleek new design of Minneapolis West is contemporary, fresh, and clean. The decor is modern, yet the hotel maintains the cozy feel of the Country Inns I remember from family road trips long ago.
Each of the rooms are equipped with free high-speed Internet and the hotel features an indoor swimming pool, fitness center, lending library, and a fabulous breakfast buffet (fresh waffle bar, anyone?) making this an easy choice for your home away from home.
Minneapolis West Country Inn & Suites by Carlson
The outdoor bonfire pits are a hotel highlight, offering up a great place to unwind under the stars after a long day of sightseeing and exploring Minneapolis. Don’t forget the marshmallows!
WIN A GETAWAY
We are giving away a FREE, two-night stay (for two!) at ANYCountry Inn & Suites in the United States and Canada! Enter to win the opportunity to get away this summer by following these easy steps:
¡Que comience la cuenta regresiva! Se va el equipo de Bocado Bolivia a Lima, Peru y ¡sólo faltan 14 días hasta nuestra experiencia culinaria!
Let the countdown begin! Bocado Bolivia is going to Lima, Peru and our culinary extravaganza is just 14 days away!
Team Bocado Bolivia: Jessica Janoski & Gabriela Molina
Hace poco compartimos nuestros planes para asistir a la feria gastronómica más importante de América Latina, pero el festival cambió la fecha de la expo a finales de octubre y, desafortunadamente, no podremos asistir. Pero el viaje sigue (¡obviamente!), ya que tenemos muchas, muchas visitas emocionantes para reunirnos con chefs de renombre mundial (!!!) y comer en una variedad de restaurantes locales, mercados y boliches.
Recently we shared our plans to attend the most important gastronomy fair in Latin America, but the festival itself changed the expo dates to late October and unfortunately, we will be unable to attend. But the trip is still on (of course!) as we have many, many exciting visits to meet with world-renown chefs and eat at a variety of local restaurants, markets, and pubs.
Lo que tenemos programado:
CENTRAL: Iniciaremos al viaje con la increíble oportunidad de almorzar en el exclusivo restaurante Michelin de Chef Virgilio Martínez, Central. El chef honra la biodiversidad de su país con cada uno de sus platos únicos que componen un menú impresionantemente sensorial. Él lleva el sentido de farm-to-table a otro nivel con su dedicación a la investigación de la naturaleza más fina y los ingredientes más raros para convertirlos en arte exquisito.
What’s on schedule:
CENTRAL: We are kicking off the trip with the incredible opportunity to lunch at Chef Virgilio Martínez’s exclusive, Michelin starred restaurant Central. The chef honors his country’s biodiversity with each of his unique dishes that comprise an incredibly sensory-rich menu. He takes the meaning farm-to-table to a whole different level with his dedication to researching nature’s finest, and rarest ingredients and turn them into exquisite art.
Off the Table - Virgilio Martínez (Chef of Central) - YouTube
Pan de la Chola: A continuación nos dirigiremos a la mejor panadería de Lima, Pan de la Chola, para charlar con el ingeniero convertido en panadero, Jonathan Day. ¡Estamos emocionadas de escuchar lo que hace que su pan artesanal sea tan único e innovador! En tan sólo unos 3 años, Jonathan ha convertido su panadería y café en uno de los mejores locales gastronómicos de Lima. ¡Lea más sobre su historia aquí!
Pan de la Chola: Next up we will be heading to Lima’s best bakery, Pan de la Chola, to chat with engineer-turned-baker, Jonathan Day. We’re excited to hear what makes his artisanal bread so unique and innovative as in just a few short years, Jonathan has turned his bakery café into one of Lima’s leading gastronomy highlights. Read more about his backstory HERE!
Pan de la Chola | Photo Tumbler (aroundthepacific)
Pisco Bodegas: Un viaje a Perú no estaría completo sin la oportunidad de aprender acerca de su amado licor, ¡Pisco! Junto a los cocineros Javier Paredes y Adriana Falco, y sus alumnos del IGI, nos aventuramos al sur a la ciudad costera de Ica para visitar tres notables bodegas de Pisco. A lo largo del camino, nos detendremos a La Caravedo, la destilería de Pisco más antigua en las Américas donde aprenderemos sobre la cosecha y la destilación. ¿¡Nos atrevemos a llevar una botella de Singani con nosotras para ver cómo se compara al Pisco?!
Pisco Vineyards: A trip to Peru would not be complete without the chance to learn about their beloved liquor, Pisco! Alongside Chefs Javier Paredes y Adriana Falco and their students of the IGI, we will venture south to the coastal town of Ica to visit three notable Pisco vineyards. Along the way we will stop at La Caravedo, the oldest working Pisco distillery in the Americas where we will learn about grape harvest and distillation. Dare we bring a bottle of Singani with us to see how it compares?!
Ica Pisco Vineyards | Photo courtesy Original Travel
3/4 Burger Bar: Sí o sí probaremos las hamburguesas gourmet de la chef Boliviana, María Paula Baldiviezo, quien abrió su burger bar en Miraflores hace 2 años. Con experiencia en la cocina de uno de los restaurantes más fino de Lima, Astrid & Gastón, María Paula ha creado un menú de hamburguesas incomparable a cualquier otro de su clase en la ciudad.
3/4 Burger Bar: We definitely will be stopping to try the gourmet hamburgers from Bolivian chef María Paula Baldiviezo, who opened her burger bar in Miraflores 2 years ago. With experience in the kitchen of one of the finest restaurants in Lima, Astrid & Gastón, María Paula has created a burger menu incomparable to any other of it’s class in the city.
¡Y eso no es todo! Estaremos conociendo los mercados locales (Mercado de Santa Anita, Mercado de Suruqillo, terminal pesquero, etc.), restaurantes innovadores, bar hopping en el barrio Barranco, ¡y más!
Esperan las novedades antes de viajamos y síguenos en Instagram @BocadoBolivia para ver lo que tenemos antes de la boca en nuestros platos aquí en Bolivia.
And that’s not all! We will be visiting local markets, innovative fine-dining restaurants and street food pubs, bar hopping in the Barranco neighborhood, and much more!
Stay tuned for more updates before we travel and be sure to follow us on Instagram @BocadoBolivia to see more of what’s on our plates here in Bolivia.
Gaby y yo (#TeamBocadoBolivia) estamos felices de anunciar que en un poco más de mes, estaremos cruzando la frontera con Bocado Bolivia para experimentar una de las más importantes ferias gastronómicas de América Latina: Mistura!
En julio lanzamos nuestro nuevo proyecto gastronómico en Santa Cruz, y además de celebrar la comida y el talento gastronómico local, hemos estado planeando aventuras culinarias tanto a nivel nacional como internacional para compartir lo mejor de la gastronomía de la región.
Creemos que la comida es cultura, y la cultura es comida. Pídanle a cualquiera que comparta con vos lo que más le gusta de su país nativo (o un lugar al que han viajado), y sin duda, la comida será una de sus primeras respuestas. La comida juega un rol tan crítico de nuestras vidas—mientras comer es una necesidad básica de la vida, creemos que hay mucho más a la comida que la nutrición.
Todos nosotros tenemos comfort foods. Esos sabores y platos especiales que nos llevan de regreso a un lugar particular y nos dan una sensación de nostalgia por un cierto momento o época. Para mí, eso es puré de papas. Para Gaby, eso es milanesa. Piensa en Australia y su afección por Vegemite. O la obsesión norteamericana de mantequilla de maní. Dado que la comida es un identificador cultural, es importante viajar y conocer otras culturas a través de la gastronomía.
Y porque la gastronomía, los viajes y la cultura están tan conectados, estamos emocionadas de cruzar la frontera y a la capital de la gastronomía de Suramérica y conocer Mistura en Perú!
¿Qué es Mistura?
Mistura es una de las ferias gastronómicas más grandes e icónicas de Latinoamérica, basado en Lima, Perú. El evento es organizado por APEGA (Sociedad de Gastronomía Peruana) ¡y ha crecido para recibir 400.000 visitantes el año pasado desde su inauguración en 2008!
Cada año la feria une a cocineros, agricultores, panaderos, restaurantes, instituciones culinarias, productores, periodistas/críticos, y foodies hambrientos para compartir la cocina y el espíritu peruano. Este año, la feria celebra 10 años de tradición e identidad con el tema central de la alimentación saludable y cómo se vincula con la biodiversidad del país. De las montañas al mar, y de la selva al desierto, se destacará su rica dieta proporcionada por el paisaje variado del país durante una semana.
Este año, el evento también presentará un nuevo pabellón con vino, queso, jamón, café y chocolate de Perú, ¡y no podemos esperar a darle un bocado a todo!
Una de las cosas más emocionantes de este viaje para nosotras es la oportunidad de viajar con dos cocineros peruanos que viven en Santa Cruz y enseñan en el IGI (Instituto Gastronómico Internacional). Han manejado restaurantes exitosos y empresas de catering y están organizando este viaje para compartir su cocina nativa con un grupo de estudiantes de gastronomía! Estamos agradecidos por la oportunidad de aprender junto a ellos, ¡qué emoción!
Además del festival, tendremos la oportunidad de disfrutar algunas de las creaciones de los mejores chefs de Perú. El primer día, haremos un recorrido por el Perú a través de un almuerzo del Chef Virgilio Martínez en su restaurant Central (#1 en Latinoamérica, #5 en el mundo)! También estaremos visitando la exquisita panadería de Jonathon Day, El Pan de la Chola, así como la Boliviana, María Paula Baldiviezo y sus hamburguesas de 3/4 Burger Bar.
Quédate atento a las novedades, ¡estaremos compartiendo más info mientras nos acerquemos al evento!
Jess & Gaby
¿Has ido a Mistura una vez? ¿Cuáles son tus sugerencias para nosotras? ¡Cuéntanos en los comentarios!
Gaby and I (#TeamBocadoBolivia) are happy to announce that in just over a month we will be taking Bocado Bolivia across the border to experience one of the most important gastronomy fairs in Latin America: Mistura!
Last month, we launched our new gastronomy project in Santa Cruz, Bolivia (read about it here) and in addition to celebrating local food and talent, we’ve been planning food-filled adventures both nationally and internationally to share the best of gastronomy around the region.
We believe food is culture, and culture is food. Ask anybody to share with you their favorite thing about their home or a place they have traveled to, and food will undoubtedly be one of their first answers. Food plays such a critical part of our lives, and while eating is a basic necessity of life, we believe there is so much more to food than just nutrition!
We all have comfort foods, those special flavors and dishes that take us back to a particular place and give us a nostalgic feeling for a certain moment or period of time. For me, that’s Midwestern potatoes and gravy. For Gaby, it’s milanesa. Think Australia and their affection for Vegemite. Or North America’s obsession of peanut butter. Since food is a cultural identifier, it’s important to travel and engage with other other cultures through gastronomy.
And because gastronomy, travel, and culture are so connected, we are excited to cross borders and experience the capital of gastronomy and culture by traveling to Peru and getting to know Mistura!
What is Mistura?
Chef Paul Perea, Mistura 2016 | Photo courtesy APEGA
Mistura, meaning mixture, is one of the largest and iconic gastronomy fairs of Latin America, based in Lima, Peru. The event is hosted by APEGA (Society of Peruvian Gastronomy) and has grown to receive 400,000 visitors last year since their inauguration in 2008!
Each year the fair unites chefs, farmers, bakers, restaurants, culinary institutions, producers, food critics and photographers, and hungry foodies to share in Peruvian cuisine and spirit. This year, the fair is celebrating 10 years of tradition and identity with the central theme of healthy eating and how it links to the country’s biodiversity. From the mountains to sea, jungle to desert, their incredibly rich diet provided by the country’s varying landscape will be highlighted over the 10-day gathering.
This year the event is introducing a new pavilion showcasing local wine, cheese, ham, coffee and chocolate of Peru, and we can’t wait to get our hands on everything and take a big bite!
One of the most exciting things about this trip is that we will be traveling with two Peruvian chefs who live and teach in Santa Cruz at IGI. They have owned successful restaurants and catering businesses and are organizing this trip to share their native cuisine with current gastronomy students! We are grateful for the opportunity to learn right alongside aspiring chefs and to see how they absorb this food-fest.
In addition to the festival, we will have the opportunity to indulge in some of the best creations from Peru’s finest chefs. On day 1 we have reservations to take a tour of Peru through Chef Virgilio Martínez’s world-renowned restaurant Central (#1 Latin America,#5 World)! We’ll also be visiting Jonathon Day’s exquisite bakery El Pan de la Chola as well as Bolivia’s own María Paula Baldiviezo and her 3/4 Burger Bar.
Stay tuned for updates, we’ll be sharing more as we get closer to the event!
Jess & Gaby
For updates throughout our journey, be sure to follow us over on Instagram @BocadoBolivia and look for video updates over on Facebook /TheBohemianDiaries!
Mistura 2017 will take place from Sept. 7-17. Let us know if you are planning to attend as well!
Cuántas veces te has preguntado, “¿A dónde vamos a comer esta noche?” y terminas pensándolo por horas, hasta que se hace tarde y nunca encuentras algo bueno que comer.
La comida juega un papel importante en nuestras vidas. Da forma a nuestra cultura, nos da identidad, y nos reúne alrededor de una mesa, inspirando conversación y conexión.
Por suerte para nosotros, la gastronomía está en constante evolución y crecimiento. Las tendencias cambian, pero la necesidad de una buena comida y un buen lugar para comer, no.
Si vamos a disfrutar de la experiencia del buen comer, ¡hay muchas cosas que necesitamos saber! ¿Dónde probar algo nuevo? ¿Quién cocina mejor tus platos favoritos? ¿Dónde están los mejores productos locales?, y ¿Quién tiene el mejor servicio al cliente?
¡¡¡Ingresa a Bocado Bolivia!!! Un proyecto diseñado para responder a estas preguntas y explorar la delicias del país. La nueva guía gastronómica de Bolivia.
¿Qué es Bocado Bolivia?
Bocado Bolivia es un proyecto dedicado a descubrir y compartir la cultura culinaria boliviana. Se enfoca en la celebración de nuestra gastronomía local. También es una iniciativa para destacar productos de alta calidad y lugares innovadores. Es una manera de compartir las historias de quienes están atras de los mostradores y en las cocinas de los restaurantes bolivianos. Bocado se creó para impactar de manera positiva y desafiar la manera que experimentamos e interactuamos con la cultura gastronomíca local.
Estamos lanzando una serie de breves encuestas durante los próximos seis meses para encontrar los mejores productos y establecimientos bolivianos, comenzando con nuestra querida ciudad de Santa Cruz de la Sierra. Tenemos grandes sueños para descubrir los pequeños tesoros de todo el país, y estamos muy contentas de ver dónde nos llevará este proyecto en el futuro. Pero primero, #BocadoSantaCruz
Los datos y la información recolectada de las encuestas se compartirán de diferentes formas, desde publicaciones en blogs y las redes sociales hasta ensayos fotográficos, videos y ¡Mucho más!
¿Quiénes son las organizadoras?
Gabriela Molina, organizadora de Ted x Plazuela Calleja y amante de talento Boliviano (incluyendo lo de la escena culinaria por todo el país). Ella es una enófila en proceso y nunca está lejos de una taza de café.
¡Y yo! Jessica Janoski, periodista americana viviendo en Santa Cruz de la Sierra y siempre en busca de un nuevo lugar , un buen vino, y una experiencia memorable.
No somos chefs. Somos foodies, apasionadas de la comida y entusiasmadas con probar nuevos ingredientes, sentarnos en nuevos lugares, y descubrir novedades en Bolivia. Estamos comprometidas a compartir nuestras experiencias y ser transparentes acerca de lo que aprendemos a medida que comenzamos este divertido proyecto.
¿Que estamos buscando?
Con las encuestas, estamos buscando lo mejor de lo nuestro en referente a la gastronomía y la cultura culinaria en Santa Cruz. Queremos saber, ¿Cuáles son los nuevos restaurantes que necesitamos probar? ¿Dónde esta la mejor comida típica? ¿Cuáles son los restaurantes líderes en atención al cliente? Y mucho, mucho más. El propósito de todo es saber tu opinion y que tu nos lleves a descubrir nuevos lugares y sabores.
Con tu aporte, compartiremos el feedback anónimo de las encuestas con los establecimientos que han sido reconocidos y altamente recomendados entre varias categorías.
Si querés participar en nuestra iniciativa, ¡Es fácil! Desde ya podés darnos tus opiniones, respondiendo a las breves preguntas de nuestra primera encuesta. ¡Ya podes ingresar y votar aquí!
The most magical time of the year is once again upon us and now, more than ever, the world needs a little more cheer and joy to brighten our days. While we’ve all heard the saying, “There’s no place like home for the holidays,” seasoned travelers know that Christmastime can be the most rewarding opportunity to visit somewhere new.
Throughout the month of December, people are merry, welcoming and inviting. Good deals are everywhere to be found. Menus change to offer new holiday dishes and the decorations that adorn cityscapes reflect the romantic and cozy vibes that fill the streets.
Growing up in Minnesota, my all-time favorite holiday tradition had been driving in the car the weekend after Thanksgiving to “ohh” and “ahh” over neighborhoods decked out in Christmas lights and elaborate nativity scenes. The tackier the better, right?
My first visit to Medellín was four years ago, while backpacking through Central and South America on my way to establish Bolivia as my new base. I immediately fell in love with Colombia’s vibrant energy and carefree culture. It’s hard not to enjoy a country that manages to beautifully merge modernity with traditional values and charm. I spent three weeks sipping coffee and hiking through the countryside without realizing I was this close to experiencing one the nation’s most impressive events of the year.
Medellín Lights Festival (Alumbrado Navideño)
Colombia’s second largest city lights up like no other place in South America for Christmas, illuminating Medellín with over 31 million LED light bulbs and 42,000 decorative displays for over a month.
31 MILLION LIGHT BULBS!
If that’s hard to believe, imagine this incredible operation run on clean, renewable energy in a developing country!
Medellín is the only city in South America to join LUCI (Lighting Urban Community International), a network of international urban planners and energy professionals that “use light as a tool for sustainable urban, social and economic development.” With this commitment to caring for the environment and conserving energy consumption, the Christmas lights festival will use 40% less energy with LED bulbs and will be powered by solar panels in many areas across the city.
This 50-year-old tradition draws thousands of visitors both locally and worldwide to share in the unique community experience that Medellín has created to bring people together for the holidays. After all, this year’s theme is, “Medellín, one big family during Christmas.”
Throughout the month of December, light displays will be scattered throughout the northern part of the city, focused in Carabobo Norte, and conveniently situated near tourist hotspots including Parque Explora, Botanic Garden, and Parque de los Deseos. The lake of Parque Norte will be the epicenter of the light scenes (this year’s home of the Star of David), while the most impressive installation—an 80-foot tall Christmas tree—will be located in Parque Explora. That’s the size of an 8-story building!The city will flip the switch for the first time on November 30 at 6:30pm. If you are traveling in the area, this is a unique (and local) ceremony you won’t want to miss!
Bookmark this page and use this info as a base for your Medellín 2016 light spectacle experience!
Know Before You Go
Medellín will light up everyday from November 30 to January 9, 2017 from 6pm to midnight.
Entrance to the parks and areas of light displays is free to the public.
Safety in Medellin has improved significantly over the last 15 years. Just as with any large city around the world, always be aware of your surroundings, travel in groups, and stick to well-lit areas while out late at night.
This post is brought to you in sponsorship with Medellín Travel. As always, opinions expressed are my own. Photos courtesy EPM (Empresas Públicas de Medellín) and Medellín Travel.
When it comes to tourism, the colorful and crowded island nation of Taiwan is known for its bubble tea, themed restaurants, nationwide free WiFi, fascinating night markets, and obsession with Hello Kitty.
What should really top this list is their bicycle culture. Taiwan is a world leader in cycle tourism, with one of the most extensive cycling infrastructures in the world. Their bike friendly attitude—embraced by the locals and promoted for tourists—makes the entire country a premier destination for a bicycle touring.Just how bike friendly can a nation of 23 million living on an island the size of Maryland be, you ask? Police stations and 7-Eleven convenience stores double as cyclist pit stops, offering free water, and often times, bike maintenance for travelers. (Can it get any friendlier than that?!)
In 2015, the nation launched an impressive 968-kilometer (600-mile) bike network that features 122 rest stops along the route, highlighting everything long-distance riders need from hotels and hot springs to restaurants and gear shops. Experienced cyclists can easily complete the 1,200-kilometer (800-mile) journey around the entire island of Taiwan in only 9 days!
The great thing about biking in Taiwan, though, is that enjoying the country on two wheels can be as easy or as challenging of an experience as you like. And you don’t need any previous cycling training to enjoy the bike scene! With hundreds of different routes to discover, there’s no limit to your ride.
Ready to hit the road? Here’s a quick-start guide to inspire your own bicycle adventure and tailor an unforgettable tour of Taiwan:
CYCLE THE CITY
Cruising the country on two wheels doesn’t mean you have to hit the highway and spend days in the saddle. Some of the country’s most intriguing cultural sites and tourist hot spots are located within or near the capital, making for great day trips after you land in the bustling capital of Taipei.
Taipei Riverside Bike Trail: Over 100 kilometers (62 miles) of bike-only paths run along the three main rivers within Taipei’s city limits, passing through both urban and rural landscapes and connecting over 28 parks along the way. A popular route leads riders along the Danshui River to a boardwalk in New Taipei City lined with food stalls, restaurants, and shops. Another option is to bike along the same river from Tienmu (with panoramic city views) towards the vibrant town of Danshui, ending at the ocean on Shalun Beach.
Keelung Riverside Bikeway: This leisurely bikeway provides two routes along each side of the river’s banks, connected by the beautifully lit Zhongshan and Dazhi Bridges, and winding 22 kilometers (14 miles) past parks and cultural sites, including the Taipei Fine Arts Museum and historical Taipei Story House.
TRAVELER TIP: Free maps detailing designated cycling paths and bicycle rentals are available from metro stations. Spend more time exploring the city streets and less time tracking down available bikes for rent with the BikeFriend app. The application provides a map with YouBike bicycle rental sites in Taipei and Kaoshiun, and shares both the number of bikes available for rent and empty slots for return at each site.
PEDAL THE PARKS
Venture out of the giant metropolis of Taipei and you’ll find Taiwan is a natural wonderland. Nearly twenty percent of the country is occupied by 9 national parks and 13 national scenic areas that serve to preserve Taiwan’s ecological diversity.
Yuetan Bikeway: A great place to start your bike journey is circling around Sun Moon Lake, located in the heart of Taiwan in Nantou County. The Yuetan bike path was listed as one of CNN’s best cycling routes of the world, and for good reason. The trail circling the famous sparkling blue waters takes riders past the indigenous village of the Thao tribe and is home to the majestic Wenwu Temple, a Daoist shrine perched high in the mountains. You can leisurely bike a 12-kilometer (7.5-mile) section of the trail, or opt to cycle the entire 30 kilometers (18 miles) circling the lake.
Taroko Gorge: After a leisurely ride at Sun Moon Lake, kick up your pedal power continuing on to Taroko National Park via Central Cross Highway or along the strenuous Highway 8. The gorge for which the park was named after is the area’s main attraction and is a stunning natural landmark of carved marble, jade, and other minerals. Within the park, cyclists can ride around the perimeter of the gorge via Swallow Grotto Trail, or can challenge their strength by climbing to the park’s highest point accessible by bike, Wuling, reaching 3,275 meters (10, 745 feet) above sea level. If you’re looking to see the stunning stone of Taroko, Baiyang is a relatively relaxing trail that takes you into the gorge itself.
Northern Cross Highway (Hwy 7): Pedaling the peaks of the island’s central mountain range is a surefire way to catch the ride of your life in Taiwan. There are actually three highways that cross the range (hence their names), bridging Taipei in the west to the island’s east coast. Of the Southern, Central and Northern Cross highways, the latter is a fan favorite among cyclists for it’s relatively moderate uphills compared to the gruesome (at times) climbs of the of the other two highways.
DON’T MISS: the famous Beitou Hot Spring complex, a park of thermal baths, natural hot springs, and resorts located in a volcanic and geothermal valley of the central mountain range. Also known as Qinshui Park, the hot spring facilities were developed during the early 1900s under Japanese rule, who constructed the baths with the belief that thermal waters have the power to cure diseases and heal physical pains. After crisscrossing through the mountains of Yangmingshan National Park, there’s no better way to relax sore muscles than with a soak in the springs!
CIRCLE THE SHORES
Beaches and bicycles are a match made in heaven, as there is no better way to cool down from a long ride than with a quick dip in the water and stretch on the sand. Taiwan’s east coast is a cycling paradise as the designated bike route winds past pristine parks, rice paddies, rural farms and hugs the Pacific Ocean.
DON’T MISS: For a tour of the best beaches, hit the eastern coastal trail of the Cisingtan Scenic Area in Quixingtan, Hualien County. The 16-kilometer (10-mile) ride along Highway 9 and combines beach views of the Pacific Ocean with backdrops of the lush floral and fauna of the nearby local parks. The trail also features numerous art installations along the ride and a section of the path is made completely out of bright colored marble. You can rent a bike for about $5 for the day at the parking lot of the trailhead.
GO THE DISTANCE
Bikes rental in Taipei is not limited to just sightseeing around the city. Sturdy bicycles equipped for long distance rides are plenty available, so you don’t have to be a cycling expert outfitted with your own equipment to take an island tour.
DON’T MISS: Many tour companies offer week-long trips around the island that combine the best of the beaches, jungles, mountains and countryside. If possible, don’t miss an opportunity to visit tea country on the island’s west end. Riding from Douliu to Zhushan is a great 165-kilometer there-and-back along Route 158. Further north, the rolling hills of the country roll into gentle climbs before dropping down into coffee country off Route 149.
TAIWAN CYCLING FESTIVAL
Perhaps the most enjoyable time to hop on a bike in Taiwan is during November when the country devotes an entire month to the sport of cycling. Biking events pop up nationwide, including organized group rides, races, parties and challenges for cyclists of all skill levels.
The aptly named King of the Mountain challenge is one of the most exciting and coveted challenges that takes place at the aforementioned Taroko Gorge. Riders race to the top of Hehuan Mountain climbing an astonishing 3,275 meters from sea level to the highest point in Taiwan in five hours! The Come! Bikedayevent held at Sun Moon Lake is another festival highlight where thousands of cycling enthusiasts of all ages come together to enjoy the breathtaking scenery of one of the world’s most beautiful bike paths and enjoying local games and shows along the way.
For more info on the 2016 Cycling Festival and travel to Taiwan, be sure to check out the Taiwan Tourism Board for the most up-to-date details.
This post brought to you in sponsorship with Taiwan Tourism. As always, opinons are my own.