18 Travel Photos from 2017 That’ll Make You Book a Flight Right Now

2017 is coming to a close, and I can’t believe it. In the past year, I have…

Lived in 3 Countries
Visited 9 New Cities
Spent 6 Months in Colombia
Spent 4.5 Months in Peru
Took 17 Flights (and countless more busses)
And started my travel blog, Slight North!

This blog was started based on two principles… to showcase gorgeous photos, and write simple, helpful, and honest travel articles. This past year has been a dream, working for myself, exploring the world, and documenting it all. Now, looking back, I can’t believe all the beautiful places I was able to visit!

It was a hard choice, but here are my top 18 travel photos from 2017… I guarantee they are all the inspiration you need to book your next flight today!

 

Guatape Medellin, Colombia
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Machu Picchu Cusco, Peru
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Girl in a waterfall

Arenales Waterfall Medellin, Colombia
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Misti Volcano Arequipa, Peru
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girl laughing on door step

Walled City Cartagena, Colombia
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Poblado Penthouse Medellin, Colombia
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Basilica of the Immaculate Conception Jardin, Colombia
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Rainbow Mountain Cusco, Peru
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Humantay Lake Cusco, Peru
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Misti Volcano Arequipa, Peru
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Misti Volcano Arequipa, Peru
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sitting on terrace, grey goose, city view

Boutique Penthouse Medellin, Colombia
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Laguna 69 Huaraz, Peru
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Spratt Bight Beach San Andres Island, Colombia
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Santa Cruz Trek Huaraz, Peru
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boat and beach

Playa Blanca Cartagena, Colombia
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Huacachina Oasis Ica, Peru
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Nevado Mateo Huaraz, Peru
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Which one is your favorite? Stay tuned for more travel photos from 2018, from Mexico, the US, and many more countries TBD (I really need to get to that whole planning thing…) Thanks for reading, commenting, and coming along with me this year. It’s been a pleasure to share my travels with you and I can’t wait to see what’s next 🙂

All my love,
Di

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The Lima List: My Favorite Restaurants in Surco

I lived for one month in Surco, a suburban neighborhood in Lima. The neighborhood is near Miraflores and Barranco, and a great place to stay for a longer term trip to the city. Of course, while I was here I ate my way through Surco and found some amazing restaurants along the way. Next time you’re in town, don’t miss my favorite restaurants in Surco!

 

1. Guru Indian & Pakistani Cuisine

So, if you read any of my food posts here on Slight North, you know I’m in love with Indian food and have been on the hunt for a great Indian restaurant in South America. While trying restaurants in Surco, I’m happy to say I finally found one! I’m not really surprised, because Lima is one of the food capitals of the world, and luckily Guru Indian & Pakistani Cuisine definitely didn’t disappoint.

Best of all, the restaurant has a happy hour from 5 to 7 on weekdays where all their curries are half off, meaning we got a butter chicken curry for only $5. That’s an amazing deal. We also shared a large garlic naan (seriously it was huge) and a side of white rice. Sharing one meal was definitely enough for two.

Total cost for a dinner for two here during happy hour? Only $12 without drinks. Not too bad.

 

2. Shimaya Ramen

Ahh this place is so good! If you’re into Japanese cuisine, definitely add Shimaya Ramen to your to-do list. So far, we tried the sushi ($6 for a roll of 10 pieces) and two of their different ramen bowls. Both were amazing! The ramen is made with homemade noodles and comes as small, medium, or large. For me, the small was definitely enough for one serving, and only cost $4.50 per bowl.

The ambiance is also great and the place was packed when we went on a Sunday afternoon. The restaurant was so delicious, we ate there more than once during out month long stay. Oops 🙂

 

 

3. Quintessence Tea Shop

I don’t talk about tea too often, but in the past few years I’ve become a major tea lover. Coca tea is super common in Peru, especially on the treks and tours, but I personally prefer the sweeter, fruitier blends. That’s why I was so happy to discover the Quintessence Tea Shop!

First of all, the ambiance is amazing. The shop is small, cozy, and well lit, and best of all, smells amazing. They also have cute products and books lining the walls to browse, but personally I was distracted by the menu. It had a seriously extensive list of different tea types to try in every imaginable flavor, which you can get either by the cup or by the pot. Tea lovers in Lima, definitely don’t miss this unique shop!

 

My three favorite restaurants in Surco all have pretty much nothing to do with traditional Peruvian cuisine or seafood, but hey, it is what it is. If you’re only passing through Lima and want to try the most famous restaurants and dishes here, this list is probably not for you. However, if you’re planning to stick around for awhile and want to try something new in the neighborhood, check out my three favorite restaurants in Surco!

All my love,
Di

PS If you’re traveling through or planning a trip to Lima, check out what to do for a day in Barranco, and my perfect weekend trip from Lima!

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Islas Ballestas and Huacachina Oasis: A Photo Diary

The Islas Ballestas and Huacachina Oasis are both only a few hours away from Lima, and make for a perfect weekend trip from the city. Water, sun, and sand are very different from the mountain treks and high altitude hikes we are used to in Peru, but I’m definitely not complaining! Check out our photos from the weekend, and click here to get all the travel details!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Perfect Weekend Trip from Lima

After being in a city of 8 million for over two weeks, I really needed an escape from the noise and pollution. Daniel and I decided to take a weekend trip from Lima to the Islas Ballestas and Huacachina Oasis. While there we met up with one of my best friends who is currently doing the Gringo trail and passing through Peru. We had an awesome time, and now I definitely recommend visiting the Huacachina Oasis on a weekend trip from Lima!

 

 

Day One – Lima to Paracas

Our first stop was the Islas Ballestas in Paracas. They are a four hour bus ride from Peru. We caught the bus on a Friday afternoon for our weekend trip from Lima at the Soyuz bus station on Avenida Mexico where the Soyuz and Peru Bus lines both run. They leave every 15 to 20 minutes on the Lima to Ica route, and cost $12 per person.

The bus dropped us off in Pisco, and from there we had to take another 20 minute and $8 taxi ride to Paracas,  a small town right on the water. It has a tiny beach front and a strip of restaurants on the ocean. We met up with our friends, grabbed dinner and a few drinks, and called it a night.

 

Day Two – Islas Ballestas and Huacachina Oasis

The next morning, we woke up for the 10 am Islas Ballestas tour. The tour cost $8 with another $5 tax, and it is super easy to buy tickets at any of the hostels or agencies around the square. We walked to the pier right in the center of the small town and loaded up on the small boat.

The Islas Ballestas are called the poor man’s Galapagos, but honestly, I think that’s a bit of a stretch. The tour was just… ok. Some factors into my less than enthusiastic review include a hangover on a choppy boat, crowded and uncomfortable seating, crappy gray weather, and worst of all the absolutely horrible and strong smell of exhaust that engulfed us whenever the boat stopped to point out birds or animals. It was extremely unpleasant and definitely impacted my enjoyment of the trip.

 

 

However, there were still a few highlights. Most notably was the teeny tiny penguins who lived up on the rock cliffs with the birds, and of course the sea lions. These fuzzy and strange creatures were such a delight to see up close (even though in the back of my mind, I felt awful for being complicit in bringing so much horrible exhaust and boat fumes into their habitats.) The boat tour was two hours total, and we saw the birds, penguins, and sea lions for about 30 to 45 minutes of the trip.

 

 

My Tips

If you decide to do the Islas Ballestas tours, my tips would be to bring warm clothes because the boat ride is cold and the wind is strong. Also, if I did it again I would have spent the whole weekend and both nights in Huacachina, and just booked the tour through an agency there to take us out and back, and skip the night in Paracas (although this may be more expensive).

Finally, if you’re really into wildlife you can also add on a second trip to the Paracas National Reserve after your island tour. This is 5 more hours, but only costs an extra $5. Definitely something to consider if you have a lot of time on your hands.

 

Paracas to Huacachina

 

 

After the tour and lunch in town, we started the next leg of our weekend trip from Lima. This time it was off to the Huacachina Oasis. To get to the oasis from Paracas, we waved down a taxi to take us to the Pisco bus station. Although it is back tracking, it was cheaper to take the bus than the $35 taxi ride to Ica. At the bus station, we took an hour long $1.50 bus ride to Ica, the large city that Huacachina lies just outside of.

 

 

The oasis may seem like it’s in the middle of nowhere, but in reality it’s only a 5 minute taxi ride from the Ica bus station. Huacachina is a small little town built around a small little lake. The town and lake are surrounded by looming sand dunes on almost all sides, and it has a really awesome and lively atmosphere on the weekends.

The markets, shops, restaurants and bars surround the small lake, and palm trees shade the walk. This oasis was never at the top of my bucket list, but it’s been one of my favorite destinations in the country and is a perfect weekend trip from Lima if you want to just chill and relax.

 

We stayed in the Carola hostel (which isn’t actually completely constructed yet) and spent the afternoon lounging in our swim suits by the large pool and enjoying the sun. Later, we climbed up onto the sand dunes to enjoy the sunset, and then ate an awesome dinner and delicious wings at the Huacachina Backpackers House. Our hostel warned us they were going to be partying in their bar until 6am, and they didn’t disappoint. Music blasted and the club filled up until sunrise.

 

Day Three – Sandboarding, Dune Buggies, & the Tacama Winery

 

 

Sunday was off to a slow start. We woke up and ate a late breakfast, then split up for the afternoon. My friends decided to try out the sand boarding and dune buggies, while we went off to the Tacama Winery.

The sand boarding and dune buggy tours leave every morning at 10:30 and every afternoon at 4:30. They cost $11 each and are two hours of riding around on the surrounding dunes, and boarding down them at sunset. This tour is one of the most popular in Huacachina and seems like a blast.

 

 

However, we opted to hit up the Tacama Winery instead, and I’m so glad we did. This winery is the oldest vineyard in South America. It was founded by the Spanish Conquistadores in the 1540’s and has been continuously run ever since. The winery is also so beautiful that it is regularly used for weddings and events, and I can definitely see why.

The entrance is a long tree covered lane lined with flowers, and the winery itself is surrounded by a lush green lawn and colorful gardens. Inside we did the $3 tour and tasting, and were able to see the old monastery, chapel, and courtyard as well. So beautiful.

 

 

The best part about the Tacama winery (which also serves Pisco, the national liquor of Peru,  if that’s more your style) is that the bottles were delicious and cheap at only $7 each. The four of us split a bottle of red and white while sitting out on the lawn, breathing the fresh air and watching the sun begin to set.

The only complaint I had is that the winery closed at 5:30 and we had to leave… even though it is probably for the best. The vineyard is secluded so they even called a taxi for us to take us back to the Ica bus station.

 

 

Passport Theft

From here, it was time to head home. We took the 8pm bus for $8 back to Lima. The five hour ride was uneventful for us, but not my friend. She was on the 7pm bus after the sand boarding, and unfortunately her boyfriend’s backpack containing one phone, two laptops, and BOTH their passports was stolen from under the seat while they were asleep.

This devastating discovery has been tough, and means they’re going to be stuck in Lima for two weeks instead of two days while they work on getting their passports replaced at the US Embassy. If you have valuable stuff in your bags on the busses in Peru, make sure you keep them on your laps or under your feet at all times, because losing a passport is every traveler’s worst nightmare.

 

All in all, and besides this (pretty major) setback with the passports, the Islas Ballestas and Huacachina Oasis were the perfect weekend trip from Lima. They are all situated close together and super easy and cheap to get to from Lima. The oasis is also an amazing place to relax and unwind for a weekend from work or travel. Definitely don’t miss it on your way through Peru!

All my love,
Di

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The Lima List: What to do for a day in Barranco

A lot of blogs and articles recommend heading to Miraflores for the best that Lima has to offer, but if you do, you’re missing out. Barranco is far and away my favorite neighborhood in Lima. It’s trendy, hip, and artsy. It has amazing food and nightlife, and a super chill and happy vibe. It’s easy to spend a day in Barranco, and when you do don’t miss out on my favorite spots!

 

To Do

One of my favorite places to stop by during a day in Barranco is definitely Dedalo Arte y Artesenia. This store is almost like a gallery because everything they sell is so beautiful. Trust me, it’s not like the other tourist markets with the same alpaca sweatshirts and knick knacks. At Dedalo, every room has a different theme, from jewelry, to art, to my favorite with gorgeous ceramic tea pots that I definitely can’t afford but still will dream about. There is also an outdoor cafe with craft beer, coffees, artisanal chocolates and desserts and an amazing secret garden ambiance. Don’t miss stopping in Dedalo if you’re in the area!

 

 

La Feria market is another can’t miss spot in Barranco. It’s one street up from the main square, but only open on the weekends. If you can, plan your trip around being here because it’s amazing. Stalls sell homemade products, clothes, art, and of course amazing food. There’s a sushi stall here I really want to try, as well as crepes, ice cream, coffee, cocktails, pizzas, and plenty more. There’s a stage for live music at night, and the last time I was here there was even an adoption stall with puppies and the tiniest kittens we could hold and play with. It seriously does not get any better than that!

Feeling outdoorsy? The beach walk is a great, free, and relaxing activity to add to your to do list. Barranco is located on cliffs overlooking the ocean, and there are little parks, paths, and green spaces along them to walk or sit and enjoy the waves. If you’re lucky enough to be there when it’s not gray and smoggy, you’ll also get awesome skyline views of Lima as well.

 

 

Finally, the Bridge of Sighs is probably the biggest tourist attraction in Barranco, and it’s cool for a couple reasons. Built in the 1800’s the bridge is the historical center of the neighborhood. It’s surrounded by amazing graffiti, an old church, and a score of restaurants and bars. It has a view of a cobbled street packed with vendors and you should definitely spend some time wandering the area, relaxing in the flowered park, and taking in the ocean view from the nearby vantage point.

 

To Eat

Barranco has some amazing spots to sit down for a bite to eat. While there, we tried a lot, and passed by more restaurants we wish we had room for!

The first is La Panetteria. This cute little bakery is perfect for a meal or a snack. We got iced coffee, a smoothie, and some fresh ciabatta to take home, but they also have sandwiches and amazing looking desserts. It’s right by the main square and a perfect place to chill. They even had some craft beers on the menu that I hadn’t seen anywhere else in Peru, like a cream and cocoa brew.

I’ve been craving a good burrito forever (miss ya Chipotle!) so when I read the reviews for the Burrito Bar, I knew we couldn’t miss it. It’s for sure the best burrito I’ve had in my 10 months in South America, and also cheap. It was only about $5 for a burrito that is definitely big enough to split. The tortillas are so fresh and tasty, and the barbacoa meat was really flavorful. It’s easy to order and build with the exact toppings you want, so if you’re missing good Mexican food, the burritos, quesadillas, and tacos here are a must.

 

 

Some honorable mentions on this list are two restaurants I passed by but didn’t try. Both were packed, and one even had a line of people waiting out the door. The first is Isolina Taberna. This restaurant is Peruvian and must be amazing. The decor inside was cool, and the menu was surprisingly cheap for how nice it looked. Interestingly, the menu states that every meal is big enough for three people! The Peruvian dishes seemed heavy on the meat, but were still only $10 to $20 each. Not bad to feed a whole group. They also had $5 fish and pork sandwiches that sounded delicious. Second, if you’re craving seafood and ceviche (Lima has some of the best in the world) then check out El Muelle. It was packed all day and the dishes people were eating on the patio looked gigantic. If I head back to spend a day in Barranco again before I leave Lima, this is definitely at the top of my list and I will report back on the experience!

 

To Drink

By far my favorite bar in Barranco is Wick’s. This traditional English pub is run by a English-Peruvian couple. All of the staff spoke English and best of all… they had draft cider! If you’re a cider lover like me, you’ll be in heaven! I haven’t had a good one since I moved to South America so it was a delicious taste of home. They also have their own house beers on tap, as well a a daily deal for a meal and a pint for $10.

The Barranco Beer Company is another great bar for beer lovers to visit during a day in Barranco. The bar is big and you can see their brewery in the back. The Barranco Beer Co. has a few different house beers like the new Saca Tu Machete on tap with 10% ABV. We tried the oatmeal stout and the lager and both were really good. If you’re sick of drinking Cusquena and Pilsner, this is a great place to try something new.

 

 

If  you’re more into cocktails than beer (I’m not, so I didn’t try this bar but it has rave reviews) check out Ayahuasca Resto Bar and let me know how it is. The bar features craft cocktails and is built in a renovated colonial mansion. Nothing more hip than that!

 

If you’re in Lima and planning to spend a day in Barranco, don’t miss these top spots to shop, take in the sights, and of course eat and drink some of the best Lima has to offer. Barranco is a trendy, hipster neighborhood in Lima and feels like as escape into a totally different world. Definitely don’t forget to add a day in Barranco to your Lima to do list!

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Medellin Nightlife: The Ultimate Poblado Bar Crawl

Alright. I lived in Medellin for 6 months, so I had plenty of boozy weekends to put together the perfect night out in Poblado. I’m guessing you probably don’t have as much time in the city as I did, so I put together this guide to help you hit up all my favorite places in one night. Follow these suggestions for the ultimate Poblado bar crawl. Whether you’re into craft beer, shots, classy establishments or clubbing all night, this list has it all.

 

Dinner

Every one knows you can’t go out on an empty stomach (or you will seriously regret it the next morning) so obvs you need to start your Poblado bar crawl with dinner. What’s your budget?

Bonhomia is the best restaurant in Poblado. It serves amazing charcuterie platters, fresh baked bread, and papas bravas. A meal for two here will run you about $25. They also have a fancy cocktail menu, involving fresh strawberries and fizzy stuff and all that jazz, and they are around $8 each. I recommend this restaurant if you have money to blow and want to check out their awesome patio and chill ambiance.

If your budget is a little lower (let’s face it it usually is) then definitely hit up Querido Food and Love. This place is a gem. Its cute and classy, but meals will only run you about $5 each, and glasses of wine are only $3 more. I recommend the spinach and artichoke dip and truffle pizza. Yuuum.

 

Happy Hour

Are you ready to get f*cked up? If you answer yes like any backpacker should, then the only next logical stop on the ultimate Poblado bar crawl is the Happy Buddha Bar. A lot of people know this is a major party hostel, but most people don’t know that the cocktails are 2 for 1 between 6pm and 8pm. Thats two mojitos, gin and tonics, or whatevers for $4. And they’re strong too. Happy Buddha Bar is also great because it is on a second level open air balcony, has pool tables, and usually some interesting people hanging around. It’s also right across the street from Querido. If you hit up this happy hour, I guarantee you’ll start your night off right.

 

Craft Beers

Yess craft beer my favorite part of the night. So, the happy hour ended at Happy Buddha, and you’re probably more drunk than you should be. No worries, just cross the street and take a seat at the Brew House. This place is run by a Colombian American who is pretty much always drunk and giving out free shots of Jaegar. The bar has beer pong, darts, and best of all: their own craft beer. At $5 for a pint, escape the clutches of Club Colombia and splurge on something new. Plus, the owner told me they’re working on a house brewed cider coming soon… my fav!

 

Shots

If you manage to leave the Brew House (most times we went we ended up staying and drinking with the owner and his friends after closing) then continue your Poblado bar crawl at Shupa Shots. This is a small bar right near Parque Lleras with an insane shots menu. They have candy shots, coffee shots, and literally every flavor under the sun. They also have alcoholic slushies, hats and costumes to dress up in (why?) and a giant shot wheel to spin and see what you should order next. The two deadliest shots here are definitely the Heroina shot (served in a giant syringe the bar tender empties into your mouth) and the Gasolina shot that tastes absolutely awful but gets the job done. The shots cost around $4 each and one shot here is more than enough, you’ll feel the effects hit you almost immediately. They are strooooong.

 

The Last Stop

Ok, I have three great choices for the last stop on your Poblado bar crawl, depending on what you’re into.

First, there’s the classy stop. Walk to Panorama Rooftop Bar. This bar has multiple levels and different balconies. It’s open air, has tons of greenery, is always packed and has a great vibe. It’s a little expensive ($5 or $6 for a glass of wine) but a great place to relax, chill, and end the night right.

Second is the for people who want to dance all night. Although I don’t club much, there’s a great one next to the Happy Buddha Bar on the left side… but I forget what it’s called and can’t find it online. It was fun when we visited and had great music and lots of dancing. If you want to walk a little further, the Sixxtina club in Poblado is popular too and has good reviews online.

Finally, there’s the Lili Club for the most adventurous. This place is…. alternative. It’s a cab ride away from Poblado, and you can only get in if you’re a couple or have more girls than guys in your group ( or are willing to pay a little extra cover charge.) This website is pretty family friendly so I won’t tell you any more but make sure you google it before you go… it’s an insane experience but definitely not for everyone.

 

Medellin is a can’t miss stop on the gringo trail through South America because it has some of the best nightlife on the continent. No matter what you’re into: shots, clubs, craft beer, or chill nights out, this ultimate Poblado bar crawl guide has it all. If you have any more suggestions to add to the list (if you can remember them that is) then comment below and let me know!

Ally my love,

Di

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