Embracing the Wild Life with 8 things to do on Bowen Island + GIVEAWAY

This post is sponsored by Sakroots to promote the launch of the new Wild Life print by Niki Pilkington.

Call us biased but we’re proud to say we live in the most beautiful province in Canada, where Mother Nature has graced us with the most comfy climate and stunning scenery! This year, we’ve set a goal to embrace the wild life in British Columbia by exploring as many islands as we can. We started with a weekend getaway on a small island just 20 minutes from Vancouver by ferry: Bowen Island.

8 Things to do on Bowen Island

1. Enjoy the scenic ferry ride

Hop on the Queen of Capilano run by BC Ferries! Sit back, relax, and enjoy the scenic ferry ride from Horseshoe Bay to Snug Cove. Crossing time is only 20 minutes and passengers don’t need tickets for the return ferry.

Kollecting Koordinates - Things to do on Bowen Island

2. Go kayaking

The kayak season runs from April to mid October. You can check out an abundance of wildlife while you paddle from beach to beach. Keep your eyes peeled for orcas, dolphins, seals, and bald eagles. We didn’t get a chance to do this as the sea was too choppy; the conditions were so bad that other ferry routes were canceled! We’ll be back again in the summer to explore the gulf by kayak.

3. Chill out at Snug Cove

Take a stroll along the picturesque marina with buildings from the early 1900’s. Snug Cove was once a summer resort where Vancouverites spent holiday time, and housed the largest dance hall in BC.

Kollecting Koordinates - Things to do on Bowen Island

4. Visit Artisan Square

Artisan Square is a quaint cultural hub where you can find a collection of shops, restaurants, and galleries. It’s a 20-minute uphill walk from Snug Cove- or you can catch a 5-minute ride with one of the friendly locals by hitchhiking. Don’t miss organic chocolatey treats at Cocoa West Chocolatier!

Kollecting Koordinates - Things to do on Bowen IslandKollecting Koordinates - Things to do on Bowen Island

5. Feast your heart out

With a population of just over 3,500, we were surprised to find the wide variety and high quality of dining options on Bowen Island. Sample Spanish tapas over vino at Barcelona, pig out on wood-fired pizzas at Tuscany, or indulge in French bistro fare at Artisan Square (legit French pastries baked onsite!). You can also find hearty pub food or sip on award-winning coffee. Eating clean is easy peasy on Bowen where many bistros use organic and garden-fresh ingredients.

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6. Zip around on a scooter

Scooter season runs from mi-April to mid-October. Weather permitting, this is by far the best way to explore the island!  Bowen Island is so small that it only takes 30 minutes to get from one end of the island to the other. Why not do it in style in a retro Yamaha Vino?

7. Attend a yoga retreat

Practicing in this geodesic dome at Nectar Yoga B&B is one of the best things to do on Bowen Island. Yoga enthusiasts from all over the world travel here to attend events and workshops immersed in nature. Namaste doesn’t get any better than this!

Kollecting Koordinates - Nectar Yoga BnB

8. Go hiking

With over 10 walks and hikes to choose from, Bowen Island offers trails for every kind of hiker. Stroll with ease around Killarney Lake or challenge yourself by summiting Mount Gardner, where you will be rewarded with views of Howe Sound and the Coast Mountains.

Kollecting Koordinates - Things to do on Bowen Island

SAKROOTS GIVEAWAY – WIN AN ITEM FROM THE NEW WILD LIFE COLLECTION

I’ve partnered up with Sakroots to promote the launch of the ‘Wild Life’ print by illustrator Niki Pilkington. The winner will receive any Wild Life item of their choice.

The contest will go live on my Instagram on Monday, April 17 at 7PM PST. To enter:

  1. Follow @sakroots and @kollectingkoordinates on Instagram
  2. Post a photo showing how you live your wild life
  3. Tag and mention @sakroots and @kollectingkoordinates in your photo
  4. Use the hashtags #SRWildLife #sakroots in the caption

A winner will be selected by Sakroots and announced after 24 hours. This giveaway is open to everyone with a US-mailing address. Terms and conditions can be found here.

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Sakroots. Special thanks to BC Ferries for providing us with complimentary fares to Bowen Island.

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Kollecting Koordinates - Things to do on Bowen Island

Feel, breathe, heal, and release – Nectar Yoga B&B on Bowen Island (GIVEAWAY)Kollecting Koordinates - Nectar Yoga BnB on Bowen Island

AS and I just returned from a weekend of zen on Bowen Island, which is just a short 20-minute ride from Vancouver via BC Ferries. We’ve been wanting to attend a yoga retreat for the longest time but never had the opportunity… until we found Nectar Yoga BnB on Bowen Island, that is!

We love our experience here so much that we want to keep it a secret. But alas, sharing is caring. Keep reading for your chance to win a yoga package giveaway!

Nectar Yoga BnB on Bowen Island

“Nature and namaste” is perhaps the best way to describe this place. Tired of the materialistic, corporate life, Andrea and her partner set off on a spiritual adventure around the world. Through their travels they found themselves. They envisioned a new life and turned their dream into reality upon returning home. Thus, Nectar Yoga BnB on Bowen Island was born!

Kollecting Koordinates - Nectar Yoga BnB on Bowen Island

Oreo showing us how downward dog is properly done

The space, location, and its surroundings

Tucked away in the woods on Bowen Island, Nectar Yoga B&B is the perfect getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city life. It’s hard to believe this eco-friendly sanctuary is only half an hour away from downtown Vancouver. Easily accessible, yet remote enough to disconnect.

There are three units on this 1.2 acre lot, complete with a Finnish sauna and geodesic yoga dome. The entire space, including the main house, can be rented out for large group retreats. House pups Oreo and Rascal (cuties!) can be seen roaming around when the sun’s out. You might even spot a deer or two!

Guests can explore a beautiful lake, a nature reserve, two parks, and dozens of hiking trails in their down time. To get around on the island, just walk onto the main road and stick your thumb out! Hitchhiking is the norm here.

Kollecting Koordinates - Nectar Yoga BnB on Bowen Island

inside the beautiful geodesic yoga dome

Kollecting Koordinates - Nectar Yoga BnB on Bowen Island

Our cottage – The Nectar Loft

The Nectar Loft is the perfect marriage between cabin life and loft living. Using natural wood and aqua tones, the Scandinavian design makes guests feel right at home. The cottage comes with a fully equipped kitchen and small fireplace. Its living room boasts three large windows overlooking the garden, letting in tons of light.

All soaps, shampoo, and cleaning products are locally made and natural, in order to reduce environmental impact. If you don’t feel like going out, the cottage is stocked with books, movies, and board games. At the end of your day, let the comfy queen-sized bed lull you to sleep in the cozy loft.

Food and dining

Homemade breakfast is served daily in our cottage. Using only local and organic ingredients, Andrea ensures her guests are fully charged with yummy vegetarian meals every morning. Vegan options are also available upon request.

You can cook your own meals or dine out for lunch and dinner. Enjoy wood-fired pizzas at Tuscany, French bistro fare at Artisan Eats, or tapas at Barcelona- Bowen Island’s newest addition.

Feel, breathe, heal, and release

Daily yoga and meditation session take place in the geodesic dome. Andrea’s a fantastic instructor; her classes are challenging yet rejuvenating. Without spoiling too much, let’s just say this was the highlight of our stay ! We left feeling recharged, more aware, and inspired.

Andrea does an excellent job in guiding us through each pose and flow, beyond not only the physical aspects but also the spiritual mind. We especially loved the talks post-practice where she delves into yoga and meditation on a deeper level.

For more information on Nectar Yoga B&B, please visit their official website, Facebook, Twitter, and InstagramFollow along for upcoming workshops, events, and retreats!

Giveaway Time! Win a 2-Night Yoga Retreat

I’ve partnered up with Andrea to give one lucky follower (+ guest) a Nectar Yoga B&B weekday retreat! Enter for your chance to win a Yoga Package for 2 guests in the new Garden Suite

How to enter – you can enter as many times as you like!

The 2-night stay is valid from Monday – Thursday between October 15th – November 30th, 2017. Contest closes on April 21st at 9pm PST; the winner will be announced on Sunday, April 23rd. Good luck!


Disclaimer: AS and I were invited guests at Nectar Yoga BnB on Bowen Island. However, these honest opinions are our own and we would never recommend something if we didn’t love it ourselves! Special thanks to BC Ferries for providing us with complimentary fares to the island.

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Kollecting Koordinates - Nectar Yoga BnB on Bowen Island

Fly away to Neverland! The most whimsical afternoon tea in VancouverKollecting Koordinates - Neverland Tea Salon

“All you need is faith and trust, and a little bit of pixie dust!”… Except you don’t need pixie dust to find this particular Neverland! Inspired by Parisian salons from the 18th century, Neverland Tea Salon is the brainchild of owners Teri and Renee. Treat yo’self and don’t miss this themed tea house when you’re in Vancouver.

Living up to its name, Neverland is the most whimsical tea house in town. We had high expectations after hearing about our friends’ experiences and surely enough, it didn’t disappoint! Even Peter Pan himself would approve.

Kollecting Koordinates - Neverland Tea Salon Kollecting Koordinates - Neverland Tea Salon Kollecting Koordinates - Neverland Tea Salon Kollecting Koordinates - Neverland Tea Salon

Neverland Tea Salon – high tea in Vancouver

AMBIANCE & SPACE

Much like Sir J. M. Barrie’s Neverland, the decor here is as nonsensical as it gets- in a good way, of course.

There’s something spellbinding about this tea house, from the vintage furniture to the quirky chandeliers, to the teacups hanging from the ceiling. Perhaps the magic is cast by pretty scribbles on the walls; quotes from the Boy Who Would Not Grow Up. You’ll notice that no two chairs or teacups are alike. Nothing matches and yet somehow, everything works!

Whether you’re riding solo or with your crew, there are tables for parties of all sizes. I can’t think of a venue more fun in Vancouver to celebrate a special occasion. I wish I had known about Neverland Tea Salon when I had my bridal shower!

Kollecting Koordinates - Neverland Tea Salon

READ MORE: Where to stay in Vancouver

FOOD – NEVERLAND GRANDE HIGH TEA

We each ordered the Neverland Grande High Tea: 5 savoury and 5 sweet courses. All their delicious finger sandwiches and pastries are made in-house. I gotta say, the quality of afternoon tea at Neverland Tea Salon is definitely one of the best in Vancouver.

The savoury sandwiches are tasty with a novel twist, like the egg salad combo with Thai red curry and mango chutney. AS really enjoyed the truffled croissant-wich; it was flavourful and flaky without being greasy. I loved their scones with house-made strawberry jam… so much so I ate AS’s share too.

There was so much food we had to pack a few pieces to go. Can’t eat too much in one sitting? Try the Demi-Tea option. Vegetarian and gluten-/dairy-free menus are also available if you have dietary restrictions. 

Kollecting Koordinates - Neverland Tea Salon

TEA SELECTION

The Neverland Grande High Tea menu comes with never-ending pots of teas. The teas are bottomless, which means you can try as many as you like from over 60 teas! You can also purchase packs of loose leaf tea to enjoy at home.

We sampled 4 different teas: Almond Joy, Pixie Dust, Peter’s Promise, and our personal favourite- Take Me to Neverland. Each had a distinct flavour without being overwhelming. The teas are steeped at the main counter so let your server know about your preferences in advance.

Kollecting Koordinates - Neverland Tea Salon

Neverland Tea Salon

LOCATION

Situated in Kitsilano, Neverland Tea Salon is easily accessible by public transit (buses 009, 014, B-99). Those with a car can find plenty of metered parking on the streets. If you don’t mind walking a few blocks there’s free parking on West 10th.

Address: 3066 West Broadway, Vancouver

HOURS OF OPERATION

Monday-Friday: 11AM-6PM, Saturday: 9AM-7PM, Sunday: 9AM-6PM

Reservations are highly recommended, especially if you want to be seated in the comfy pink couches! To see their full menus and for more information, visit their official website, Facebook, and Instagram pages.

Kollecting Koordinates - Neverland Tea Salon

Kollecting Koordinates - Neverland Tea Salon

Kollecting Koordinates - Neverland Tea Salon

Disclaimer: We received complimentary tasting at Neverland Tea Salon. However, these honest opinions are our own and we would never recommend something if we didn’t love it ourselves! 

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The perfect winter getaway at the No.1 ski resort – Whistler

Vancouverites are really lucky. We’re not only spoiled with 3 different local mountains all within a 45-minute drive, but also a world-class ski resort just 2 hours away. Every winter calls for a Whistler getaway to escape the city life, even if it’s just for a short weekend. If you haven’t already been to Whistler, what are you waiting for?!

Kollecting Koordinates - Whistler getaway

one of the runs at 7th Heaven on Blackcomb Mountain

Know before you go

  • Everything is expensive. Brace your wallet; Whistler is coming.
  • Bring a pair of rainboots. They might not be #ootd-worthy but the joke’s on you when your fancy non-waterproof shoes get drenched by nasty slush.
  • Expect long lines at chairlifts. Lines move fairly quickly but they’re inevitable.

Tip: This is why we prefer riding at Sun Peaks in Kamloops or Big White in Kelowna. I don’t remember ever having to wait more than 5 minutes to get on a lift at Sun Peaks or Big White… but then again Whistler is only a 2hr drive from home versus 5-6hrs on the dreadful Coquihalla Highway.

Photo credit: Becca at @habitat9travels

Getting to Whistler

By car

Driving to Whistler from Vancouver is easy peasy because directions and signs are clearly marked. Strap in for a gorgeous ride along the Sea-to-Sky corridor. Follow signs for the Trans-Canada Highway/BC-1 W/BC-99 N from wherever you are, and continue on BC-99 N until you see the Whistler Village on your right. 

Tip: Winter tires are required by law on the Sea-to-Sky Highway from October 1 to March 31. Make sure your vehicle complies!

By bus/shuttle

Don’t have a car or don’t want to drive? Bus and shuttle services like Pacific Coach and Snow Bus offer transportation from YVR (Vancouver International Airport) and downtown Vancouver to Whistler. Prices range anywhere from $40-70, one way.

Tip: Check Groupon for deals. I’ve seen deals on shuttle passes for around $35, round trip.

Kollecting Koordinates - Whistler getaway

Peak to Peak Gondola – Photo credit: Becca at @habitat9travels

Where to stay on your Whistler getaway

How do you choose which hotel, lodge, or rental property to stay at? It really depends on how many people you’re traveling with. If it’s just you and a significant other, get a hotel or 1-bedroom Airbnb. If you’re traveling with a big group of friends or family, renting a cabin is the way to go. Rates start at $300CAD/night for upscale hotels and there’s always a 2+ night minimum stay required for cabins and Airbnb.

Tip: Always check the map to see if your accommodation is close to a gondola and chairlifts. Most hotels offer complimentary shuttles if they’re not in the village. Ski-in/out choices come with a hefty price-tag but it’s worth the convenience (and view!).

AS and I stayed at the newly renovated Crystal Lodge & Suites last December and it was perfect. Located in the center of the village, we were literally steps away from the Excalibur Gondola (takes you up the Blackcomb Mountain). It was so nice not having to lug our gear for more than a 3-minute walk after a long leg day on the slopes.

Read more: Crystal Lodge & Suites – The Perfect Place to Stay in Whistler

Kollecting Koordinates - Whistler

Whistler village stroll

Kollecting Koordinates - Whistler

Crystal guest room in Crystal Lodge & Suites

What to eat on your Whistler getaway

Eating in

The biggest advantage of renting a cabin or Airbnb is that it comes with a kitchen. Whistler is expensive, so you end up saving a lot of money by cooking your own meals. There are two grocery stores in the village: Whistler Grocery Store and MarketPlace IGA (larger, slightly cheaper). 

Dining out

No kitchen? Don’t worry! Start your morning with a breakfast of champions at Wild Wood Pacific Bistro. The large portions will keep you fueled throughout the day. For a mid-day snack (or second breakfast!), hop on the Crystal Ridge Express chairlift for some delicious Belgian waffles at the Crystal Hut.

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Peaked Pies serves authentic Australian meat pies- hearty comfort food at a reasonable price. Head to Araxi for their famous oyster happy hour from 3-5pm. And of course, don’t miss the charcuterie board and cheese fondue at Basalt.

Kollecting Koordinates - Whistler

yummy charcuterie board at Basalt Wine & Salumeria

Things to do on your Whistler getaway

Ski / snowboard

Duh, if you’re not going to Whistler to ride why are you even going? Jokes. There’s actually a lot more to Whistler than just skiing and snowboarding, but you’re in for a treat if shredding fresh pow is your main goal. Connected by the Peak-to-Peak Gondola, Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains are comprised of 200+ marked runs, 8000+ acres of terrain, and 16 alpine bowls.

Tip: 1-Day lift passes are $139CAD but you can save by purchasing at least 3 days in advance. The more days you buy, the more you save. Children (7-12yrs), youths (13-18 yrs), and seniors (65+) also receive discounted rates. Check this page for more information.

Tip: Canadians and residents of Oregon and Washington States are eligible for the EDGE Card, which offers discounts on lift tickets and activities. It also links your credit card, allowing guests to pay easily at shops and restaurants.

Kollecting Koordinates - Whistler getaway

Kollecting Koordinates - Whistler getaway

Go tubing at the Coca-Cola Tube Park

You don’t have to be a kid to enjoy the tube park! When I was younger, Papa Ko would spend the day cruising down the tubing hill while I learned how to snowboard. This fun activity is family-friendly and for people of all ages.

Tip: Rates are $23/hr or $31.50/2hrs for adults, but EDGE Card holders receive 20% off. Find out more about pricing and hours of operation here.

Go snowshoeing

If neither riding nor tubing is for you, slap on some snowshoes and hike through a winter wonderland. Tours start at $49CAD per person; check out the different tour options here.

Treat yo self at Scandinave Spa Whistler

You’re missing out on life if you haven’t tried hydrotherapy! The Scandinave Spa is the cherry on top for your Whistler getaway. Eucalyptus steam rooms, wood burning saunas, Nordic waterfalls, cold baths, and outdoor hot pools in the snow… what more do you need? Relax, rejuvenate, and recharge with the health benefits of hydrotherapy. You can also take your experience to the next level with a massage treatment.

Tip: They open at 10am- get there right when it opens so you’re the first ones to use the pools. It can get pretty busy in the afternoon, especially on weekends.

Kollecting Koordinates - Whistler getaway

Kollecting Koordinates - Whistler getaway

Photo credit: Becca at @habitat9travels

Ball out on a helicopter tour

If you have a fat wallet, why not splurge on a heli-ride to make your Whistler getaway extra special? Enjoy a bird’s eye view of the glaciers, snowy valleys, and coastal mountains. You can even add a hike or glacier trek to your package to make it a full-day activity. Prices range from $170-715CAD depending on your tour.

Kollecting Koordinates - Whistler getaway

Photo credit: Becca at @habitat9travels

Special thanks to Becca at @habitat9travels for providing some of these amazing photos of Whistler! Follow her on Instagram for more stunning travel photography.

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Kollecting Koordinates - Whistler getaway

The Ultimate Guide to Tikal National Park in GuatemalaKollecting Koordinates - Visiting Tikal

Once a powerful empire with 120,000+ inhabitants at its peak, Tikal remains one of the largest and most iconic Maya ruins in Central America. Whether you’re a history junkie or Star Wars fan (or just an average Jane/Joe), I think it’s safe to say that nobody travels to Guatemala or mainland Belize without visiting Tikal.

Located in the Peten Region of Guatemala, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is very close to Belize. It made sense for Tikal to be our final stop in Guatemala before crossing the border.

Kollecting Koordinates - Visiting Tikal

on top of Temple 4, which is the filming location for Yavin 4 in Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope

What to bring when you’re visiting Tikal

  • Water
  • Comfortable closed-toe shoes
  • Flashlight
  • Mosquito repellent with DEET
  • Clothes with breathable fabric
  • Binoculars for wildlife

We visited our local travel clinic to consult a doctor regarding Zika risks and precautions.

Kollecting Koordinates - Visiting Tikal

our 6am Avianca flight from GUA to FRS

Getting here; visiting Tikal from Guatemala City or mainland Belize

From Guatemala City

BY LAND: If you’re feeling adventurous, you can hop on a chicken bus (and pray that you’ll arrive in one piece after a rough 15hr+ ride). Otherwise, take the comfortable, air-conditioned buses operated by Linea Dorada. This journey will take you around 10 hours for $30USD+.

Tip: Take the ‘luxury’ overnight bus to save on a night’s accommodation.

BY AIR: We chose to fly instead because of my sciatica. Avianca and TAG offer daily hour-long flights from Guatemala City to Flores ($120USD+, one way). The airport is another hour, by car, to Tikal.

From Belize

BY LAND:  The easiest way is to ask tour operators in San Ignacio if you can catch a ride with their day tour groups to Tikal. We did the reverse; border crossing was easy peasy and the whole trip took 4 hours from our hotel in Tikal to San Ignacio town center. If you’re coming from Belize City, take the local bus to San Ignacio first.

Tip: There are tons of tour operators in San Ignacio and they’ll quote you anywhere from $25-45USD per person, one way. Shop around and haggle. We had a very pleasant experience with Sergio from Explore Inland Tours who bent backwards for us at the very last minute. 

BY AIR: You can fly to Flores from Belize City via Tropic Air ($190USD+, one way). This flight is 45 minutes and again, you’ll have to arrange a ride to Tikal once you land. Ask your guide to include this in your tour.

READ MORE: Eating like a local in Belize – cheap eats and where to find them

Kollecting Koordinates - Visiting Tikal

Where to stay when visiting Tikal

Stay in the Park

To get the most out of your Tikal experience, stay in one of three ‘hotels’ located in the park: Jungle Lodge, Tikal Inn, and Jaguar Inn. Rates start at $40USD for something very basic and $120USD+ for nicer rooms. Chances are, you’ll hear howler monkeys and see coatimundi roaming around. You’ll also be the first ones to enter the park and the last to leave. Little to no crowds is always a bonus!

We stayed in one of the newly renovated rooms at Hotel Jungle Lodge. It was clean and spacious but service was nonexistent and the overpriced food sucked. My fettuccine alfredo was more like a noodle soup and AS’s steak was so rare that we could still smell the hay the cow fed on.

Tip: Food is slightly better at Jaguar Inn.

Electricity is only available from 7-10am and 5-9:30pm, but an emergency generator keeps the ceiling fan running through the night. Even though we were there in the dry season, it was hella humid and the sheets felt damp. Multiply this discomfort by over 9000 if you’re visiting Tikal outside of the December to February period.

Stay in Flores

If you want to save some money (who doesn’t!), there are lots of affordable options in Flores. Shared dorm rooms at hostels start at $10USD (80GTQ) per person and basic private rooms range between $30-70USD. A major setback is the travel time; it takes more than an hour by car to reach Tikal which complicates things if you’re interested in the sunrise tour.

Kollecting Koordinates - Visiting Tikal

Kollecting Koordinates - Visiting Tikal

Visiting Tikal for the sunset vs sunrise

It’s rare to actually witness the sunrise. Because of the high humidity, a thick layer of fog usually covers the forest canopy. That said, the sunrise tour is still magical as you listen to the jungle wake up to the first light of day.

We opted for the sunset tour instead. We entered the park at around 1pm, visited all the temples and complexes, and ended our day at the Grand Plaza with a quiet, beautiful sunset. Dusk rolled in quickly and soon it became pitch black. There couldn’t have been more than 4 others with us at the time. It was a phenomenal experience!

READ MORE: Chasing sunrise at Lake Atitlan in Guatemala

Kollecting Koordinates - Visiting Tikal

Choosing a tour guide

Because anybody with a highschool diploma can become a National Tour Guide in Guatemala, you’ll find that many tour guides lack proper knowledge and/or are only in it for the money (see below: the ugly side of Tikal).

Two names stood out when we scoured the net for reputable guides: Roxy Ortiz and Marlon Diaz. The former was unresponsive but communication with Marlon was excellent. Having done this for 18 years now, he is very well educated and extremely passionate about Tikal. His English is near perfect and we were able to appreciate not only Tikal, but also Guatemala and Maya history that much more because of his wealth of knowledge.

Marlon’s the real MVP- he’s pretty much a walking encyclopedia. We tip our hats to this dude for recognizing the importance of sustainable tourism and striving for the preservation of these ruins. He’s the owner of EM Guatemala Travel and we highly recommend his service!

The ugly side of Tikal National Park

Bribery and corruption. Some tour guides collude with guards to let big groups into the park without paying the proper amount and taking a cut. Others bribe park rangers to enter restricted areas (i.e. the Great Pyramid).

Ignorance and disrespect. We saw people, tourists and incompetent guides included, feeding animals, climbing restricted areas, and being obnoxiously loud. These actions were even encouraged by so-called ‘licensed guides’!

Please don’t be like these idiots. Respect the ruins as well as the animals that live in the park.

Kollecting Koordinates - Visiting Tikal

brontosaurus or coatimundi?

Kollecting Koordinates - Visiting Tikal

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Kollecting Koordinates - Visiting Tikal

 

8 Reasons to convince you to visit Cebu in the PhilippinesKollecting Koordinates - Things to do in Cebu - Sunset

Ahhh, the Philippines… Where the sun’s so hot that it hurts and the water’s so clear it looks like the pool. The first choice that comes to mind when people are picking a destination in the Philippines is usually Boracay or Palawan. While Cebu doesn’t have the white sandy beaches of Boracay nor the limestone cliffs and islands of Palawan, there are still plenty of reasons to visit this amazing island. With so many things to do in Cebu, you’ll never want to leave once you get there.

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Chasing Sunrise at Lake Atitlan in GuatemalaKollecting Koordinates - Indian Nose sunrise hike

The Indian Nose sunrise hike is an absolute must when visiting Lake Atitlan. I hear ya, who the hell wants to wake up at 4am for a leg workout while on vacation?! Trust me, this one’s worth your time. Plus, the hike ain’t even bad!

It’s named ‘Indian Nose’ because it’s shaped like a side profile facing the sky. You can cheat and end your hike at the mouth (like we did), or you can continue for another 10min to go all the way up to the nose. We hired a guide to take us because we weren’t comfortable navigating in the dark alone, especially after hearing stories about armed robberies in the area. This doesn’t mean a guide will protect you from these situations!

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10 Practical Gifts for Travelers They’ll Actually Use (Giveaway Inside – EXPIRED)Kollecting Koordinates - Sudio Sweden

I’ve compiled a list of things that AS and I swear by– things that we would never travel without. If you’re looking for a gift idea for that wanderluster on your list, you’ll find something here for just about every kind of traveler. Perfect timing because the holidays are just around the corner!

❅❅ Giveaway Alert: Scroll down to the bottom for a chance to win! ❅❅

Kollecting Koordinates - Sudio Sweden

 

— For the Fashionista —

DANIEL WELLINGTON – CLASSY TIMEPIECE SET

We prefer using a real watch to checking our phones for time. This is especially true when we have to shut off our devices on flights or when our phones are simply out of reach (like when it’s buried deep under all that junk in my bag). Not only are these Daniel Wellington watches practical, but also very classy. Gone are the days where I’m sitting on long-hauls wondering “How many more hours until my back stops hurting?”!

From now until December 30th get 10% off every watch and cuff purchase; use promo code kollectingkoordinates to get an additional 15% off until January 31st!

Kollecting Koordinates - Daniel Wellington

Image source: Daniel Wellington

 

— For the Music Lover —

SUDIO SWEDEN – WIRELESS EARBUDS

These are amazing. We watch shows and movies on our phones when we’re in transit, and it’s always a pain having to hold up our device close to our face. With these, we’re able to sit back, relax, and enjoy studio quality audio without getting tangled up in wires. The design is elegant and comes with a beautiful leather case; they even feel nice. These are compatible with any Bluetooth device and last up to 8 hours before needing a recharge. Seriously, once you go wireless you can’t go back!

Click here to learn more; use promo code kollectingkoordinates to get 15% off your purchase!

Kollecting Koordinates - Sudio Sweden

— For the Shutterbug —

MIRRORLESS CAMERA

A lot of you have asked what camera we use. We don’t have a DSLR- can’t afford one, but we’re taking donations if anyone’s feeling generous (jokes… not really). Mirrorless cameras are easier on the wallet and very compact, perfect for traveling! Our old Sony NEX-5R has been with us for many years now and we still love this little guy. We got a E-mount prime lens and wide-angle lens for different purposes and we’ve been really happy with it! If your wallet’s a little fatter, the Sony Alpha a6500 and Sony a7 Full-Frame are amazing contenders. There’s also the Canon EOS M3 or Nikon 1 J5 if you aren’t a Sony fan.

GOPRO

We love capturing memories but sometimes pictures just don’t do it justice. With our GoPro HERO4 Silver, we’ve been able to make videos from our travels and share it with our families who live vicariously through our blog and Youtube channel. Check out our video from our Philippines trip, shot with our GoPRo

The HERO5 Black came out not long ago but we’re gonna hang onto our 4 for the time being since we have all the accessories and gimbal for stabilizing. There’s also the Session if you’re looking for something more affordable.

— For the Carry-On Traveler —

E-BAG AND PACKING CUBES

We travel light and swear by the eBags Mother Loade Weekender Convertible. We’ve gone 3 weeks in Southeast Asia (on 2 separate occassions) and almost a month in Europe with it. You’ll be amazed at how much you can shove in this thing. It’s super light, sturdy, and costs less than 100 bucks!

— For the Bookworm —

E-READER

Long transits are now a lot more tolerable because of my Kindle Paperwhite. It’s thin, light, and super easy on the eyes even in dark settings (i.e. on flights). The touchscreen display reads like real paper and I never have to worry about screen glare even in sunlight. It’s got a crazy battery life too!

 

— For the Beachbum / Comfort-Seeker / Yogi —

ROUNDIE TOWEL

This baby is so versatile- you can use it as a blanket on flights, beach towel, or yoga mat!  I recently got one from Rollo and can’t wait to use it on our upcoming trip to Central America. Morning yoga at Lake Atitlan and sun tanning at the Belize Cayes? Yaaaaas! They’re 5ft in diameter, 100% cotton, and come in 5 different fun, fringy styles.

❅ ❅ GIVEAWAY – ROLLO TOWEL ❅ ❅

Want your own? I’ve teamed up with Alli from Rollo to give away a roundie towel to our North American* friends!

The winner will be announced on Instagram on December 1st. Here’s how to enter:

  1. Follow @kollectingkoordinates and @rollotowelco on Instagram
  2. Tag a friend- each friend counts as one entry
  3. Bonus entry: leave a comment below!

*You must have a valid address in Canada or US to enter.

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Disclaimer: I was gifted products from Sudio Sweden and Daniel Wellington in return for a blog post. As always, all views expressed here are my honest opinions and I wouldn’t recommend something I don’t personally use or believe in.

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7 Must-Do’s in NYC for First TimersKollecting Koordinates - New York City

We’ve heard lots about New York City before going. The amazing food, the bright lights, and the majestic skyscrapers- we were so stoked until our friends told us not to get too excited. Friends who have gone had mostly negative things to say, like how dirty and smelly the streets and subways are, how unfriendly the people are, and how overpriced everything is. With this in mind, we prepared ourselves for the absolute worst.

After a delayed flight from Vancouver and a hectic connection in Toronto (ugh, I hate flying Air Canada), we finally landed in the Big Apple and made our way to our airbnb in Times Square. Food prices are steep, yes, but that’s standard in big metropolitan cities. We expected to be shoved around and yelled at but none of that happened. We were actually pleasantly surprised at how friendly people are! (Well, the ones we interacted with, anyway, hah)

Our friends were right about one thing- what they said about the filthy streets and subway is an absolute fact. We walked by heaps of leaking, overflowing garbage bags on different occasions and it staaaaank. But other than that, we loved everything else about New York!

Maybe it’s because we had such low expectations that we enjoyed NYC so much. Here are seven things we think all NYC first-timers should check off their list!

1. People-watch in Times Square

Times Square is a no brainer. You can’t really say you’ve been to New York City without seeing one of the most iconic crossroads of the world, right?

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2. Attend a show

This is the main reason why we were in New York: The Lord of the Rings in Concert. I’m a huuuuuuuuge fan of LOTR (nerd alert- our wedding was Middle Earth themed haha), so how could I miss the epic trilogy live in concert?! Experiencing the marriage of motion picture on a giant screen and film score performed by 250 musicians on stage was life-changing.

Because we spent a total of close to 10hrs at Lincoln Center (no joke lol), we didn’t have time for other shows. We’ve heard people rave about The Phantom of the Opera so we’ll be going to that next time. Whatever it is- a musical, concert, or Broadway show- do yourself a favour and get tickets to a show.

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3. Take a stroll in Central Park

We had some time to kill in between the second and third LOTR shows. There was no better way to spend this time than to visit Central Park since Lincoln Center is close by. I love skyscrapers and all but I was also relieved to escape the concrete jungle for a little while, especially with a hot cocoa in my hand on a cold day!

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4. Stuff your face at Smorgasburg

Located on the Williamsburg waterfront on Saturdays and Prospect Park on Sundays, Smorgasburg is an outdoor foodie paradise. With over 80+ vendors to try, you’ll need to go on an empty stomach! Our personal favourite? These bomb garlic fries from Home Frite. They were sooooo damn good.

5. Walk the Brooklyn Bridge

Get yourself on the Brooklyn Bridge Promenade and make your way across the bridge. Allow yourself at least an hour to walk from one end to another, while soaking in the beautiful Manhattan skyline. Oh, and watch out for cyclists!

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6. Eat at a Michelin starred restaurant

We usually travel on a tight budget but on the rare occasion we do like to treat ourselves to a fancy smancy meal. The only other times we’ve eaten at a Mchelin starred restaurant were in Paris and Las Vegas. Because we were blown away both times, how could we leave one of the world’s culinary capitals without splurging a little? After studying all the menus and reviews, we made lunch reservations at Bouley.

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The lunch tasting menu includes five courses at 59USD. That ain’t bad at all! Everything was cooked to perfection and service was impeccable. And ohh man, the porcini flan was out of this world!

7. Catch the sunset at the Top of the Rock

Okay, paying 32USD just to go up an elevator sounds pretty silly, right? That’s what we thought, too, but that 360 degree view of New York is breathtaking! We were on the observatory deck during golden hour- we can only imagine how mesmerizing the view would be at sunset.

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A Quick Guide to SantoriniKollecting Koordinates - Santorini

How can you miss Santorini when you’re in Greece?

Long have I dreamed about visiting this picture-perfect island in the Cyclades. Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve wanted to walk along the caldera to see the whitewashed houses, to swim in the crystal clear blue waters of the Agean Sea, and to catch one of the world’s most beautiful sunsets. My wishes finally came true when we spent three nights here on our honeymoon last year. Here’s a quick guide to visiting this timeless destination- Santorini!

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1. Travel in low/shoulder seasons

Do NOT go during the summer months. If you hate crowds like us you’ll be setting yourself up for failure. Heck, we were there in early September and it was still extremely busy. We used the public bus to get around Fira-Imerovigli-Oia and passengers were packed like sardines every time. Unless you get on at the very first stop, chances are you’re gonna be standing in the aisle holding on for your dear life.

We went in early September and it was still very, very hot. Swimming in the ocean was heavenly but there was no shortage of sweat on land. Go either in early/mid June or mid/late September not only to avoid the crowds, but also for a more comfortable temperature.

2. Stay in Imerovigli

Because of its elevation and central location on the caldera, Imerovigli has my vote for having the best view in Santorini. Yes, we’d say it’s even better than the famous town of Oia.

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Our three nights at Vallais Villa was, without a doubt, one of our most memorable hotel stays. It was like waking up to paradise every morning! With a view of the Skaros Rock and caldera, a breakfast spread that is equally beautiful as delicious, and an outdoor Jacuzzi on our private balcony, this place is hard to fault.

 

3. Indulge in delicious food

Maybe it’s the lack of rice and noodles, maybe it’s the amazing seafood. Whatever it is, I LOVE Greek Food. Tzatziki, gyros, baked feta, hummus, calamari, moussaka, fresh octopus, … the list goes on! If you’re on a budget you can survive on gyros and souvlakis. Our go-to’s for cheap eats are Pitogyros in Oia and Lucky’s in Fira.

Our favourite is a little place that serves tapas and meze (Traditional Greek cuisine). We dined here multiple times and loved every dish we tried. Their portions are very generous and prices fairer than most restaurants in Oia. And of course, don’t forget to stop by Taverna Katina in Amoudi Bay for some fresh catch of the day!

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4. Get lost in the towns

This is an obvious one, but an absolute must! You can hike from Fira to Oia, or you can bus between towns to save time. Make sure your camera is fully charged because you’ll be greeted with a postcard moment every corner you turn.

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There are also many, many cats on the island… like this little guy who was very friendly! Most of them are pets of restaurant and shop owners but many are feral.

 

5. Go on a sunset cruise

We signed up with Santorini Sailing for an afternoon of sailing and swimming in the Agean Sea, visited the hot springs, and stopped by the Red and White Beaches. Oh and did I mention we were served unlimited drinks and food? Hell yeah!

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6. Catch the world famous sunset

There are a couple of places to watch the sun dip into the horizon and they all offer different perspectives of this beauty. We had a pretty good view from our balcony in Imerovigli with a long stretch of the caldera in the foreground, and we also had an unobstructed view from our boat. Another place is Santo Winery in Pyrgos. What better way to to enjoy the sunset than pairing it with some wine?

Then there’s Oia Castle, the obvious choice. You’ll have to camp out for a good spot but there’s a reason why everyone gathers here for the sun to go down. It was truly magical. 

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What took my breath away, though, is seeing the town light up against the multicoloured sky. I mean, just look at this! We couldn’t have asked for anything more romantic.

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Kollecting Koordinates - Santorini