The Daily Decaf

taking a break from the buzz

Category: Travel Guides (page 1 of 5)

Trying to plan your next adventure but don’t know where to go or what to do? Start here! Check our latest travel guides below for advice on where to go, what to do, and where to stay. Make sure to search our Travel Guide section for even more destinations and advice.

How to Spend a Weekend in Budapest

Budapest (correctly pronounced [Boo-Dah-Pesht]) is the capital of Hungary, and a wonderful unique, young, and fun city to visit. Whether you’re going to enjoy the lively nightlife, relax in the thermal spas, or take in the storied history and architecture, there’s a there’s a little for everyone.


What You Need To Know

Currency: 1 USD = 300 HUF. Credit cards widely accepted in cities, and ATMs are found even in small cities and offer great exchange rates.

Wait, where am I?” Budapest is actually two cities: Buda (West of the Danube River) and Pest (East of the river).

Budgeting: $30 USD/day (budget), $60 USD/day (midrange), $100 USD/day (top-end)

  • Meals: $5 USD (budget) to $15 (midrange) per meal.
  • Accommodation: $10 USD (budget / dorm rooms), $20 (midrange private rooms), $50+ (budget hotels/Airbnb).

Safety: Follow common sense safety principals and you’ll have no issues. Violet crime is very low. Pickpocketing is most popular in touristy spot, and frequently done by coordinated group.

Water: Safe, including public water fountains.

When to visit: June-September.

  • November – March: Rainy and cold
  • April-May: Beauty of Spring but risk it will be wet
  • June-September: Warm, long days, but busy season. Avoid August.
  • October: Start of colder weather, but quieter as post-tourist season.


What to expect from this itinerary: You’ll make the most out of your short weekend in Budapest, getting a post-flight massage to work out the tension, exploring the storied architecture of the city, grabbing a drink at a local pub and taking in the city at night, dancing in a ruin pub, and then capping off the trip how you started it: relaxation, this time in a thermal spa.

Day 1: Welcome!

Arriving/Departing: If you arrived by air, you have a few options to get into the city: taxi (via Fotaxi for 7,500 HUF), Shuttle (MiniBUD for approx. 5000 HUF), or Public Transport (Take 200E bus to Metro Blue Line M3 station Kobanya-Kispest, and then continue to City Centre). If arriving by train, you’ll likely arrive at Keleti palyaudvar, Deli palyaudvar, or Nyugati palyaudvar, and all are connected to the metro line.

After dropping your bag at your accommodation, it’s time to stretch the legs and see the city. From the center of Pest, walk towards the river, passing by the beautiful St. Stephen’s Basilica on the way. Continue on and cross the Chain Bridge (Szechenyi Lanchid) [Lance-Heed] as the sunsets for a beautiful view of the city. Head back north on the Pest side and stop at the easy-to-miss 5 Elements Spa to loosen up before calling it a night.

Day 2: Get the Walking Shoes On

Head West towards the river and see the Parliament Building, the largest in Europe and completed in 1902. Private tours are available, but seeing the beautiful exterior alone is enough. Make sure to see from both sides of the river.

Stop at The Great Synagogue and Jewish Museum features beautiful orchestration and nearly 150’ tall ceilings. If up for it, stop at the House of Terror is a depressing but powerful museum about Nazi communism, including detailed history about each room, including the basement jail where prisoners were beaten to death.

Continue north and grab a bite at an outdoor table at Hummus Bar. Cross over the bridge to Buda by trolley or foot, stopping at Margaret Island if you want to work off the lunch.

From the Buda side of the site, head up to the Royal Palace (Kiralyi palota), which on the hill across from the Parliament building. Entrance is free, though some attractions require paid admission. Walk through the Lions’ Courtyard, Hunyadi Garden, and catch beautiful views of the city from Savoyai Terrace or Fisherman’s Bastion.

Climb the fortress on top of Gellerthegy  (Gellert Hill) to the beautiful city views of Citadella, before crossing over Elisabeth Bridge back into the city. Across the river, act a tourist and buy a (likely overpriced) souvenir at popular shopping areas like Vaci utca or the Great Market Hall. Tired from being on your feet all day? Grab a foot massage at Spirit Thai, right next to the market.

For the evening, consider a scenic Danube river dinner cruise with live music (Hungaria Koncert Ltd.). If you’ve had enough sight-seeing for the day, catch a show at the Capital Circus of Budapest or the Hungarian State Opera House.

For late evening, stop at a ruin pub (Szimpla Kert Ruin Pub or Instant) for drinks or dancing. Hungary is known for its wines: Kékfrankos, Egri Bikavér, Bulls Blood (for red wine) or Szürkebarát and Chardonnay (for white wines).

Day 3: Treat Yourself Before You Go

Before it’s time to leave, visit the famous thermal baths to relax in hot and cold mineral water. Note: be sure to check the schedule for the bath you are attending. It’s common for gender-specific (and often nude) days. Bring a swimsuit, towel, and shower sandals. Rent a private changing cabin (essentially a closet) in order to keep your possessions safe. Check: Gellert Baths (one of the oldest and most beautiful baths. Swim cap required).  Szechenyi Spa (indoor and outdoor spa and one of the largest and most popular).

Szechenyi Baths

Szechenyi Baths

Tips & Advice

Know the Language: Some basic Hungarian phrases:

  • Hello: Szervusz [SER-vous] (formal) / Szia. [SEE-ya] (informal)
  • Please: Kérem [KEY-rem]
  • Thank you: Köszönöm [Koh-soh-nohm]
  • You’re welcome: Szívesen [SEE-ve-shen]
  • Yes: Igen [EE-gen]
  • No: Nem [nem]

Where to stay: Coming soon!

Where to eat/drink: Coming soon!

Transportation: Traveling in Europe by trains or budget airlines (EasyJetRyanairNorwegian) is cheap and efficient, and there are plenty of options for bus as well. In Hungary, check for transportation timetables for bus, train, and boat.  The Metro Budapest provides quick and easy travel across the city. Make sure you validate your ticket when you enter the metro station: you’ll see small boxes that punch your tickets. If you do not validate your ticket before boarding the train, you risk a fine if caught.


Seasonal Events: Budapest Spring Festival (April. Music and performing arts). Jewish Summer Festival (August/September. Jewish musical and cultural events). Sziget music festival (August). Budapest Christmas Market (December.)

Etiquette: Tipping is common, but not explicitly asked for. When you get your bill, add 10% for tip and tell the waiter the total amount you’re paying. Do not leave tips on the table as customary in other countries. Round-up for taxis or bartenders. Most places do not barter, but try in the area you are to see if it’s acceptable.

Wilderness Safaris and the Great Australian Outback

Rainforest Retreat: The Can’t Miss Queensland Activity


Prema Shanti Yoga & Meditation Retreat

Prema Shanti Yoga & Meditation Retreat

A tranquil hideaway tucked deep into the Daintree Rainforest, the Prema Shanti Yoga & Meditation Retreat is designed for those looking to “get away from it all” while immersing in something greater and deeper than thyself.  I recognize that this description may sound torturous to some, and positively delightful to others. To be honest, I’m not sure I would’ve gone if it hadn’t been for my work. The retreat was part of a month-long excursion to Australia, where I was leading American students on a gap-year program.

While I was a bit skeptical of what a yoga and mediation retreat could offer me, I chose to keep an open mind and participate to the fullest extent possible. Ultimately, I’m glad I did!  For five full days, I practiced yoga and meditation for several hours each day. We were guided by the resident instructor at the time on meditation techniques, and had yoga classes each evening before dinner. There were meals and entire evenings spent in silence, as we were being taught to learn the art of introspective thinking. The silent sessions were particularly interesting, as this is something our society does not always appreciate (or understand).

After five days, I left feeling relaxed and calm. Perhaps this can be attributed to the sessions, themselves, or the overall aesthetic and location of the place. Located in the heart of two world heritage ecosystems (the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree National Park), the location in the middle of the jungle is superb.

If you’re interested in what such a retreat can offer you, I highly recommend this place! Check out the website listed above for specifics including rates, classes offered and availability. There are only a few rooms on the premises, so book ahead. At the time of writing, prices were $90/night for a boutique room.

1-day in New York City (NYC)

Two Week Southwest US Roadtrips

Start with picking a home base for your flights, and then work a trip around that. Obviously round-trip is cheaper for flights/cars, but that said, here’s a trip I did if you want to check off a bunch of the “US Must Sees:”
Fly into Reno and get out of Reno as fast as possible. Head over the mountain pass to Lake Tahoe and eat sushi at The Naked Fish, hike, mountain bike, swim in the lake, drive around the lake, etc. Do the long drive South to Yosemite, which is excellent that time of year, and look for abandoned mining towns along the way.
Head South further to Las Vegas (tip: besides hostels which can get you the best advice, company, and prices, consider roadside Casino Hotels: they charge nothing b/c they assume you’re there to gamble for the night).
From Vegas, head over the Hoover Dam and loop up through St. George to camp in Zion National Park. Earn bragging points by hiking Angels Landing. Head SE through Page, AZ (and see the beautiful Horseshoe Bend) on your way to Grand Canyon. At the canyon, get away from the crowds and hike down into the canyon, camping at the bottom if you’re up for it.
Drive north through Monument Valley and camp alone Rte 279 in Moab. Rent mountain bikes and a shuttle up into the mountains, hike in Arches and do slot canyoneering in Canyonlands or the San Rafael Reef.
Drive NE through Fruita (more excellent biking, and an amazing hidden camping spot I can recommend) and Grand Junction, through Breckenridge, past Golden, sip beers with college students in Boulder who will continually say “New-Hamp-Sure-For-Damn-Sure” if you’re from New Hampshire like us, and then catch a flight back from Denver!

Making the Most of Moab

Arches National Park; Moab, Utah.

Original photo featured at M.Buchholz Photography.

The Basics

Is Moab worth the hype? In one brief word, yes. If I may add another, absolutely. 

What should we do? Do it all! Moab is the kind of word you associate with adventure-laden dreams.  A place with a reputation touted by many, but experienced by few. Its dusty, red earth is travelled to by a host of adventurous souls, and those looking for outdoor spunk. If this sounds like you, read on.

  • Mountain biking: this one is a no-brainer. Moab is famous for its incredible mountain biking terrain. Many of the trails in the area are world famous, and highly technical. Interested in mountain biking but not sure where to start? There are plenty of options for all types of riders! If you don’t have your own gear, we’d recommend getting outfitted by Chile Pepper Bike Shop. We found these guys to be professional and knowledgeable, and felt comfortable renting from them.
    • Rental cost: For $48/day, you can rent a “standard” mountain bike. For mid-range and higher-end options, you’ll be paying $10-$20 more.
    • Shuttle service: The bike shop does not arrange shuttles, so if you need a shuttle service to transport you and your bike to the trailhead, you are responsible for arranging that service. We ended up going with Coyote Shuttle which had been recommended to us, but we would not recommend again. Our driver was remarkably unpleasant, so not sure if it was just a bad day, but we took notice! We also were not told ahead of time that we needed to pay in cash at drop off, so this took a bit of finagling (luckily, between the six of us, we had enough to cover the cost). The cost of shuttle/person is between $17-30, depending on the trailhead you’re going to. For us, we paid about $20/person to be transported to Kokopelli.
    • The ride: There are a number of incredibly options to choose from, but we ultimately went with the Kokopelli Trail. This trail was amazing, and offered everything from technical singletrack to routes which overlook the canyons below. It’s not for the faint of heart, but if you can swing it (or just take your time), it’ll be an experience you won’t forget!
  • Hiking: A number of hiking opportunities exist in and around Moab. Your best bet is to start with a couple of the national parks in the area, including:
    • Arches National Park– Home to over 2,000 natural stone arches, this park is probably one that you’ll recognize most from postcards. The park is home to 120 square miles of trails, canyons, rock climbing opportunities and more. Best piece of advice is to plan ahead of time what you’re looking to see, as the park is huge. For a comprehensive “first time to Arches” suggestion, we’d recommend hiking Delicate Arch (3.2 miles), Devil’s Garden (7.8 miles) and Balanced Arch (0.3 miles).
    • Canyonlands National Park– Another equally scenic national park in the area is Canyonlands, located about a 35 minute drive from Moab. This is another park that you can drive through the majority of it, and pull over for photo opps or short hikes. We’d recommend hiking the Island In The Sky Trails, as these offer beautiful views above the canyon.
  • Camping: While in Moab, why not enjoy the beautiful outdoors a little longer by sleeping under the stars? A number of great options exist for camping, including very basic (and affordable) roadside camp sites and other, more established sites within the national parks. We found an awesome spot along the river at the Jaycee River Campground. No reservations required, but booking is first come/first serve. The campground has 7 camp sites, one drop toilet, and not a whole lot more. The site is adjacent to the Portal Hiking Trail, and at $15/tent, it’s a bargain deal!

Food? Beer? A couple of different options exist for food and drink in the area, but I’m not going to lie: all of our meals were either a) cooked by ourselves at the campsite or b) consumed at the Moab Brewery. The brewery is Moab’s largest restaurant and only microbrewery in town, so it did well to accommodate our party of 10 each and every time. The food is pretty tasty, and the beer does the trick. What more can be said?

*If you’re not interested in a brewery (though…why not?), the main street that runs through town has an assortment of options, ranging from typical American fare (Zax Restaurant & Watering Hole) to Mexican (Fiesta  Mexicana).

Getting around: Rent a car. If you’re interested in seeing the most of the area, a car is your best bet to cover the long distances. For the die-hard athletes, you might get away with bringing only a bike. But God help you on all those hills. 

When to visit: Your best bet is to visit during the late spring or early fall, when temperatures are mild. If your schedule doesn’t permit traveling during either of these times, don’t sweat, as Moab is delicious at all times of year! Just brace yourself for the dry heat if you’re traveling in summer.

Kokopelli Trail; Moab, Utah.

Kokopelli Trail; Moab, Utah.

Two Weeks in Nicaragua



What can you do with ten days in Nicaragua? Plenty! While you won’t have time to travel the whole country, you’ll be able to explore plenty of different locations, including a few of my favorites (listed below). When planning your trip, do factor in extra time for public transportation. Things aren’t always on time, so stay flexible.

Days 1 & 2: Spend time orienting yourself in the capital city, Managua.

Days 3 & 4: Get a taste of local life by venturing out to Matagalpa. Matagalpa is a city located roughly 130 km outside Managua, and can be reached by public bus or shuttle. While in Matagalpa…

  • Visit the ecolodge/organic farm/coffee plantation Salva Negra and take a tour of the farm. Learn about the harvesting process and organic farming methods, and once through, sample some brew! Show further support by purchasing a couple bags of beans as gifts for friends and family once you return home.
  • Grab your bathing suit and go swimming in the river that runs outside of town. Catch crabs, play in waterfalls, and hike around the beautiful cloud forest.

Days 5 & 6: Head south towards Granada, a city which oozes Spanish colonial charm. Delight in the picturesque town square, and sample local cuisine from a variety of food vendors.

  • Feast your eyes on Granada’s well-known companion, Volcán Mombacho. This volcano is easily accessible to the city, and as such, sees its fair share of tourists. Take a tour through the Reserva Natural Volcán Mombacho, a nature reserve that’s home to 168 species of birds, 3 species of monkeys and 100 different types of orchids.
  • Be a tourist along Calle la Caldeza, a pedestrian-only street filled with bars, restaurants and ample people watching.
  • Visit Islets of Granada. Located along Lake Nicaragua, these islets were formed when Mombacho erupted some 365 years ago. This area is home mostly to fishermen, some of whom may agree to take you for a boat ride around the canals (for a small fee).

Days 7-9: Craving some beach time? Head on over to surf paradise, better known San Juan Del Sur. While there, catch some waves and sun as you relax oceanside.

  • Pacific beaches, dining, drinking and more. Mingle with the international crowd and partake in San Juan’s nightlife. A number of different accommodation options exist at all ends of the price spectrum. Choose accordingly!
  • Go horseback riding on the beach, and partake in a romantic sunset photograph with said horse. Check out Rancho Chilamate for an awesome horseback riding experience!  These guys are the real deal. Prices are a bit steep ($70/rider), but include pick up in San Juan, all the cowboy/girl gear, photos of the ride, rum and snacks on the beach…and more! A highlight of the trip to San Juan, for sure.

Days 10-12: Last but not least, let’s head on over to Ometepe Island. An island formed by two volcanoes, Ometepe is a laid-back way to cap off your Nicaraguan stay.

  • Spoil yourself with a stay at Hotel Villa Paraiso, a charming hotel with bungalow options that overlook Playa Santo Domingo.


5 Days in Cusco


Where to stay: There are a number of accommodation options in Cusco for all budgets. I was interested in staying someplace clean, relatively quiet, and a good base for meeting and interacting with other travelers. I ended up staying at Pisko & Soul, and really enjoyed the experience. The hostel is located up a steep hill in the San Blas section of Cusco. It’s a hike up from the main square, and if it’s your first night in town, you will certainly feel the altitude! I found the hostel staff to be incredibly helpful, as they helped me to arrange airport transportation, allowed me to store my bags past check out, and helped give advice on where to wine/dine. The hostel itself was cozy and inviting, and I met some great travelers there. There are plenty of folks from around the world to mingle with, but it’s definitely not a party hostel. If you’re looking to rage, go elsewhere! They have dorm beds and private rooms available. I ended up staying in both. Can’t fault the dorms, but I’m a sucker for a private room if the price is right.

Dorm room: $11US/night

Private room: $35US/night

(Prices include free breakfast and wi-fi)

* Other highly rated accommodation options include:

What to eat: As previously mentioned on the Peru homepage, there are a number of delicious things to try while in Peru! Favorites of mine included: alpaca, sopa de quinoa, Pisko Sours, lomo saltado (marinated beefsteak) aji de gallina (chicken stew in a nutty, cheesy sauce) and ceviche.

*Specific restaurant recommendations include:

  • Kusikuy (good Peruvian options, including the famous cuy, or guinea pig)
  • Organika (vegetarian friendly option)
  • PER.UK (known for its ceviche)

Best tip for dining is to not look up any reviews and just sit down for a bite somewhere! This is what I did when I was there, and didn’t go wrong once. Some meals were better than others, but I found everything to be pretty tasty!

What to do: 

  • Visit Plaza de Armas and the Cusco Cathedral: Spend a morning photographing the town square before relaxing on a park bench as you admire the 17th century architecture, now deemed to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Arrange a day trip (or two) to the Sacred Valley: Travel through Peru’s Andean Highlands and scope out the colonial towns of Pisac and Ollantaytambo
  • Be a part of the bustling Sunday market at Pisac, where the town comes alive to sell everything from hand-made alpaca sweaters to fresh produce
  •   Visit Moray, an Inca town renowned for its round terraces

4-Day Trek to Machu Picchu

Geared up and ready for day one of the Lorenzo Expeditions mountain biking trip.

Geared up and ready for day one of the Lorenzo Expeditions mountain biking trip.


Interested in trekking to Machu Picchu but not sure you want to go at it alone? No problem! There are plenty of trekking companies based in Cusco that can help you arrange your multi-day trip. I had considered signing up with a company before arriving in Peru, and am glad I waited until I arrived to scope out companies on the ground. It might feel a bit overwhelming, but if you leave yourself a day to wander/meet with people, you will be able to arrange something rather quickly. I ended up booking a 4D/3N trip with Lorenzo Expeditions, and have no regrets! They are highly reviewed on TripAdvisor and elsewhere, and I felt their staff was very helpful in answering my every question. I booked the Inka Jungle Trail trip, which includes mountain biking, (optional) rafting and trekking. A breakdown of the trip is below:

Day 1: Mountain biking: 34 miles (55km) of riding from Cusco-Santa Maria

Day 2: Trekking: 14 miles (23km) from Santa Maria-Santa Teresa

Day 3: Trekking: 10 miles (16km) Santa Teresa-Aguas Calientes

Day 4: Arrive at Machu Picchu!

For a total price of $250, I felt the experience was well worth the money. There were optional add-on activities available, including zip lining and white water rafting. I wasn’t interested in spending the extra cash, but I heard good things from those who did!

Altogether, a highly recommended experience that I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend for those looking for a memorable, adventure-packed trip to Machu Picchu.

Spending a Weekend in London, England

Both capital and largest city in the United Kingdom (and in the European Union for that matter), London is a metropolis known for its fashion, music, culture, and culture.


What You Need To Know

Currency: 1 USD = 0.80 GBP. Credit cards widely accepted in cities, and ATMs are common in the cities.

Where am I? “Central London” = the City of London and most of the City of Westminster. Greater London is composed of 32 boroughs and the City of London (including Covent Garden: main shopping and entertainment district, Leicester Square: center for cinema and theater, and Soho: known for fashion, clubs, and the center for LGBT).

Accommodation: $55/person (budget), $150/person (midrange), $300/person (high-end)

  • Accommodation (per person/day): $30 (budget), $75 (midrange), $200 (high-end)
  • Food (per person/day): $15 (budget), $40 (midrange), $80+ (fine dining)
    Source: com

Transportation: Traveling in Europe by trains (EuroStar) or budget airlines (EasyJetRyanairNorwegian) is cheap and efficient, and there are plenty of options for bus as well (EurolinesRegioJet). Within England, transportation by train or bus can be expensive, but public transport is widely available. Instead of taxi, opt for Uber (especially Uber Pool for cheaper rides if you’re not in a rush).

When to visit: May-September.

  • May: Less crowds and cooler weather, but not any more rainy days than peak season.
  • June-August: Peak season and great weather
  • September-October: Less crowds and cooler weather, but not any more rainy days than peak season.
  • November-April: Cold and rainy
    Reference: com

Seasonal: London Marathon (April), Oxford v. Cambridge Boat Race (March/April), Trooping the Colour celebration for the Queen (June), Wimbledon (June/July), Dance & Music festivals (all summer), Pride London (June), Notting Hill Carnival (August), Oxford Street Lights for Christmas (December)



Day 1

See the iconic Victorian turreted Tower Bridge and walk across the River Thames to the Tower of London, a Medieval castle with a bloodied history that still stores the Crown Jewels. From there, walk up to St. Paul’s Cathedral. Cross back over the river to take a ride up the London Eye‘s enclosed ferris wheel for the best views of the city. Walk across the bridge for views of Big Ben and the Palace of Westminster (Parliament). Cap of the day with a trip to Westminster Abbey’s gothic church. Grab a community-style dinner and beer off the Canada Waters tube stop at Hawker House, a split-level warehouse stocked with street food from around the world, complete with DJ and outdoor fire-pits.

Day 2

Take the metro to the home of the Queen at Buckingham Palace before walking through the beautiful Hyde Park across the street. Begin a long walk to Piccadilly Circus (or hop on the tube to the “Piccadilly Circus” tube station), a popular and colorful junction in the West End known for shopping and entertainment. Stop off in the theater district’s pedestrian Leicester Square. Then journey over to storied landmark of Trafalgar Square. While at the square, get lunch in the stunning underground café of St. Martin-in-the-Fields church: Cafe in the Crypt. After lunch, enjoy some of histories wonders, whether at the neighboring National Gallery’s fine art exhibit or at the British Museum to see antiques ranging from Greek sculptors to Egyptian mummies.


Get it right: The UK = United Kingdom = Great Britain. It’s a constituent nation made up of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales.

Safety: England is a very safe country, but follow standard practices.


  • Tipping: Tipping is common, but not explicitly asked for. When you get your bill, add 10% for tip and tell the waiter the total amount.
  • Escalators/Moving Walkways: Stand to the right for standing, walk on the left for passing. Failure to comply will result in glares.
  • Mind your Ps and Qs: The English are known for their manners. Be polite.
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