Graffiti: Santiago, Chile

I haven’t done a graffiti post in a while and realized I had these beauties from Santiago Chile  waiting to be shared.  These are from the Bella Vista neighborhood I hope you enjoy this incredible street art as much as I do:)  I will be posting a full 10 day Chile itinerary soon so make sure you check back!
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2014-03-04 14.24.09Check out some of the awesome urban art in Chile’s Santiago:

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Karaoke + Sushi night in Sao Paulo

2014-01-11 01.16.08In New York when you decide or rather someone yells ‘let’s do karaoke’ there is a good chance you end up at SingSing in the East Village or Japas 38.  The benefit of SingSing is that you can get a private room with your friends (so you don’t embarrass yourself in front of of the entire place- at least that’s my case) or if you are brave  you have the option to belt one out to the entire room. In Sao Paulo if you are in the mood for a karaoke night you must go to Chopperia Liberdade.2014-01-11 01.17.00

As you can see from the picture above the decor is quite kitschy with lanterns, lights, streamers, fish tanks and signs decorating the spacious venue.  The bar features a spacious room in the back, full of pool tables (see below), there are booths in the front and a dance floor / karaoke stage in the center.   The kitchen is serving up whatever sushi you like (many come with cream cheese so read the menu carefully) and if you aren’t in the mood for sushi there is a nice selection of skewers.  2014-01-11 01.18.03All in all karaoke is the highlight of the house, with a huge selection of songs in Portuguese, English and Japanese. Everyone dances and sings along (it is a lot of fun) which is amazing to watch considering Chopperia Liberdade definitely has that sort of bright casino lighting, i.e it is way too bright and you completely lose track of time.  I went at 10pm and when I checked my phone it was after 2am! Perfect late night spot:) So enjoy drinking, dancing, playing pool and singing at Chopperia Liberdade!

 Chopperia Liberdade, Rua da Glória, 523 – Liberdade – Sao Paulo 

Open:Tuesday to Thursday and Sunday, from 7pm to 5am. Friday and Saturday from 7pm to 6am

New Peruvian hot spot in Rio

2014-11-08 00.57.09When my friend suggested going to a place called Tupac for her birthday my first reaction was ‘will they be playing his greatest hits in the background?” I was slightly disappointed to learn that we would not be having a full on 90’s dance party at dinner but the ambiance and cuisine make up for it.  There are a few decent spots for ceviche in Rio, but if you are looking for a real Peruvian experience with a variety of innovative dishes that burst with flavor head over to Tupac in Ipanema.  When you walk in the restaurant oozes with a trendy vibe, dark wood, peruvian sculptures a giant lantern in the center of the room and the front if fully open so there is a nice breeze.  There is an upstairs ‘lounge’ area but I can tell you it is way more fun on the ground floor.2014-11-07 22.25.58
There is a large drink list that offers a number of Pisco variations, personally I liked the one with cocoa the best. The starters are pretty large so you can definitely order a bunch and share with a group skipping the even larger entrees or mix it up.  Since there were 12 of us we did a combination which worked out quite nicely as we were able to try lots of yummy dishes.  There were 2 dishes that you must order, 1. the tartar truffle balls (above) R$35, which were absolutely to die for and the pork belly starter (it’s actually quite large and comes with a side of jasmine rice), the meat was cooked perfectly, the veggies were sautéed nicely and there was just enough kick that it wasn’t overpowering. ceviches-aperitivos
You are at a peruvian spot so you owe it to yourself to have the ceviche tasting of white fish, salmon, tuna and shrimp all prepared in unique ways (i.e. traditional, thai, indian, cream).  The quinoa balls were also quite flavorful. 2014-11-07 22.26.07
For the main courses we opted for the beef with mashed yukka (above) and the seared tuna below.  Both were delicious but for me the tuna came out on top. It was cooked perfectly and the flavors were incredible.2014-11-07 22.26.13

Tupac is the 3rd Peruvian restaurant brought to Rio de Janeiro by chef  Marco Espinoza whose other restaurants include: Lima Restobar (Botafogo) and El Chalaco (sandwich shop in Leblon)..he also owns Taypá in Brasilia. Tupac is a great spot for groups, date night, any occasion:) What dish was your favorite? Let me know what you think!

Rua Aníbal de Mendonça, 132, Ipanema, 3592-4941

Hot Springs at Rincón de la Vieja National Park

2015-01-04 16.14.29I’m one of those people who is always cold, so when I’m in New York I can come up with practically any excuse to visit the russian baths.  In Costa Rica, after tubing down the Río Negro nothing feels better then relaxing in the thermal (aka hot springs) by Rincón de la Vieja National Park.  Located 4k away from the check in desk you can drive or horseback ride there.  Walk through the tropical try forrest and you discover the will stumble upon the Río Negro (Black River) Hot Springs.

2015-01-04 16.18.48 Six pools with thermal waters heated naturally by the Rincón de la Vieja Volcano. The soothing mineral waters are crystal clear, all natural, and the river flows through the pools constantly refilling them with water. To get the full experience start off by smoothing the volcanic mud all over you (like a spa mud treatment), then wait 10 mins for it to dry.

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Wash it off in the ‘refreshing’ (read that as very cold!) river shower and then ease your way into one of the 6 majestic hot springs.  Seriously this is the perfect way to end your day!2015-01-04 16.45.13

 Relaxing and rejuvenating = my idea of a fabulous time

Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin

Where to stay in Manuel Antonio Costa Rica: Gaia

 2015-01-08 07.12.50Manuel Antonio Costa Rica is uniquely breathtaking with the beautiful Manuel Antonio National Park (full of lots of animals- more to come on that), beautiful beaches (including the one where Castaway was filmed), good waves for surfing, rafting, zip lining, and more. over the edge gaia

If you are planning a trip to Manuel Antonio you must stay at Gaia Luxury Boutique Hotel and Reserve, a 5 star Eco-friendly adult and teen only resort.  Nestled in the costal forest and surrounded by its own private nature reserve the property is spectacular.  With 5 levels of  infinity pools, a pool bar in the middle and waterfalls flowing over you while you gaze out on the natural reserve and to the beaches it is absolute heaven.2015-01-08 12.51.57

We stayed in the Deluxe Suite and let me tell you, it was one of the nicest rooms we have ever stayed in! When you enter the first floor you find a cozy living room and dining room with it’s own balcony that includes 2 lounge chairs resting on it which is quite nice.  The bedroom has a lovely king size bed (automen at foot of bed has extra pillows and blankets in it) large closets, window into the living room, tv, coffee maker and full length mirror (yes that is important, I hate when I have to do a balancing act on the edge of a bathtub to see what I look like before going out). The bathroom is huge with his and hers sinks double jacuzzi bath (looks like one of those outdoor jacuzzis), but takes an hour to fill so prepare ahead if time!  The best part of this suite… head up the stairs to your very own private roof deck with reflecting pool, shower, canopy beds and chairs!  We had lunch up there a few times and had bottle of wine for sunset, it was perfect.2015-01-08 07.04.51The restaurant on the property “La Luna” is one of the best places to watch the sunset, with 180 degree panoramic views of the Pacific coastline and surrounding rainforest.  There is live music and a tapas menu for sunset and then the music continues through dinner.  The restaurant serves international and local cuisine and includes complementary breakfast.  The breakfast was was amazing.  There was a fruit station full of delicious and there was a selection of breads then choose a main dish from the menu.  The omelets, waffles and local dishes were great!  For dinner the tuna appetizer as delicious and refreshing but it was the coconut crusted mahmahi that was one of the best dishes I had on the entire trip! Don’t miss out on that.

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For your complementary 20 minute treatment you have a a choose of a facial, mini back massage or reflexology, I went with the facial which was surprisingly very nice (normally I’m not a huge fan of facials).  Maybe it was so wonderful because of the head massage while my face absorbed the scrub.  We also got massages, it was one of the best massages I have ever had in my life! FYI Couples massage costs $160.  There is a gym that is open 24/7, it’s small but has everything you could need. 2015-01-08 12.51.08

The hotel sits on a vast tract of lowland coastal forest originally serving as the site of Jardín Gaia, a center for native orchid´s conservation and endangered wildlife rehabilitation. Today the land remains set aside as a refuge for these many precious species. It is here that only our privileged guest may take in the sights and sounds of Costa Rica´s lush and exotic natural gifts.

The staff is amazing, extremely helpful, and had great recommendations (will post about those restaurants next).  If you are going on your honeymoon or a romantic trip I highly recommend you stay at Gaia

 

Gaia, Carretera Quepos – Manuel Antonio, Km. 2.7, Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica

Raphaels Terrezasa in Manuel Antonio

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Raphael’s Terrazas, located in Manuel Antonio has a relaxed atmosphere and the perfect outdoor terrace o enjoy sunset.  Their are lots of fish options and combinations. The grilled mahimahi with shrimp was excellent served with a small potato, vegetable slaw and a plantain.  My husband had the salmon with rice.  Overall the food was good but didn’t compared to the other places we had been in Costa Rica.  Restaurants tend to close very early, like 10pm and we had gone to dinner at 8 which meant we were pretty much the only people there.  I think Raphaels would have been fun if it were more lively and a better experience if you go for sunset and catch the beautiful view.

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Raphaels Terrezzas, Manuel Antonio RoadManuel Antonio National Park,Costa Rica

Zip-line in Manuel Antonio

2015-01-08 09.24.45If you have been following along you know I’m a bit of a zip-line junky, so when I found out that there was another completely different zip-line experience in Manuel Antonio I had to try it out! You can get picked up at 7am or at 1030am and head out into the forrest.  The course beautiful with a total 15 lines some which were connected by suspended bridges you had to cross.  I got to go upside-down on 2 of the runs which was a to of fun. 2015-01-08 09.48.16 HDR Then you will take the longest zip-line which is over 1.5miles; it was incredible.  Since it is SO long you go in pairs side by side and ‘race’ your partner to the finish line.  You stop once for a water break and once for a watermelon and water break which was quite refreshing.  Then you go on the fastest line they have where go up to 55 miles an hour! It is such a rush! 2015-01-08 11.12.29Then get ready to repel down to the finish.  It’s a big drop and an awesome way to end the course.  After a traditional lunch is served of chicken, salad, rice and beans.  If you are in Manuel Antonio definitely do the zip-line!

Best seafood restaurant in Manuel Antonio

z 1For some of the best seafood in Manuel Antonio you must have dinner at Z Sea Restaurant which is only a short walk from Gaia hotel. The restaurant is beautiful and definitely stands out amongst the laid back town.  Inspired by St Tropez this all white restaurant with romantic lighting and the open air breeze it is perfect for a date night. Keep in mind restaurants close at 10, so go on the early side! Z is famous for its seafood but also has a nice selection of steaks, pastas and sandwiches.  If you are doing for seafood (which I would recommend) definitely try one of the seafood sample platters for 2 or 4 people. The ‘royal’ includes crab, muscles and lobster and a shrimp cocktail.zWe chose the 2 person traditional sampler that came with dorado ceviche, dorado, sea bass, mackerel, tuna and vegetables all prepared in different fashions.  The crusted sea bass was my personal favorite.  We shared the creme brule for dessert which was good but the homemade chocolates on the house were phenomenal!  They also give you a complementary glass of lemonchello or amaretto which was a nice way to end the meal.  All of the above plus 2 glasses of wine , a Caesar salad and a large bottle of water total with tip and tax was $100.  The staff was very friendly and attentive, and the experience was fabulous, if you are looking for great seafood in Manuel Antonio I highly recommend Z Sea Restaurant.

Z Sea Restaurant,  Plaza Yara Hotel, Manuel Antonio, Puntarenas, Costa Rica

Best beach in Manuel Antonio

2015-01-08 13.17.22The Manuel Antonio North beach is one of the most beautiful pristine beaches we have ever been to (and we’ve been to a lot of beaches!). There is a shuttle from Gaia Hotel that will take you there every hour which is super convenient.  Rent chairs, umbrellas, surf board or order food/drinks at Marys which has a relationship with the hotel so you can put the charge on your room ($14 for 2 chairs, a giant water and surfboard). 2015-01-08 13.18.38The sand is soft, the waves are perfect for a variety of surfing or body surfing levels.  The beach is very clean and feels untouched, you will have the perfect here so enjoy it!

Italian cuisine in Manuel Antonio

gondolaIn the mood for some Italian food while in Manuel Antonio? Head over to Gondola Restaurant.  The atmosphere is very laid back and simple but the food bursts with flavor.  Start with the caesar salad that comes with homemade croutons. gondola1I had the mahimahi with pesto mashed potatoes and broccoli in a lemon sauce which was incredible, one of the best fish dishes I had on the trip! gondolaThe bolognese pasta was also quite delicious and the portions were a good size so we weren’t overly full and had room for dessert. Try the grilled pineapple with strawberry ice cream it is refreshing and will satisfy your sweet craving:) For a laid back evening with good food head over to Gondola.

Gondola Restaurant, Hotel Tres Banderas | Manuel AntonioManuel Antonio National Park 6350Costa Rica