All posts by thecrowdedplanet

Thecrowdedplanet’s : Weird Things to do in Mexico

This post originally appeared on Thecrowdedplanet’s :“Weird Things to do in Mexico” written by thecrowdedplanet and posted on 28 February, 2016.

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Let’s play a game. I say ‘Mexico’. What comes to mind? Beaches, mariachi, tacos and Maya ruins? All-inclusive resort holidays, backpacking through Chiapas and Yucatan, cooking classes in Oaxaca? How about weird things to do in Mexico?

Mexico is a huge country, with many faces and even more secrets. In this post, we want to share with you five weird things to do in five of Mexico’s tourist hotspots – some crazy, some creepy, all most definitely unusual. Of course, you can still have tacos for dinner and then head to a mariachi concert. If you follow these tips, you’ll have some interesting stories to tell when you return!


Isla de la Munecas near Mexico City

This one definitely falls into the ‘creepy sight’ category. A boat ride on the canals of Mexico City’s suburb Xochimilco is a favourite activity of tourists visiting the Mexican capital. Next time, ask one of the boatmen to take you to Isla de la Munecas, a two-hour ride south, where creepy dismembered dolls hung from the trees. They were placed there by a Mexican artist about fifteen years ago, to appease the ghost of a young girl that had drowned in the canal. Since then, the artist has also met an untimely death – and the island remains, definitely the spookiest place for miles.

The ‘Hidden Beach’ near Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta is one of Mexico’s most famous tourist towns – and only 20 miles away from it, in the Marietas Islands, you can find the mysterious Hidden Beach. This beach is located under a gaping hole in a rock, that some say is the result of secret bombings. You can only access the beach by helicopter or swimming/scuba diving through a narrow canal.

Estero San Jose near San Jose del Cabo

If you’re into birdwatching, this area few by an underground river should definitely be on your San Jose del Cabo list. Egrets, herons, frigate birds, coots and ospreys are some of the species that can often be seen in the area, which was also believed to be a pirate hideaway in the 18th century. Some say that the treasure from a Spanish galleon is hidden nearby.

Whale shark cruises near Playa Mujeres

Swimming with these giants of the seas is a thrilling activity, and luckily the government of Mexico has put stringent guidelines in place to limit damage to these beautiful animals. Playa Mujeres is a great place to pick up a whale shark cruise – just be sure to choose a reputable, eco-conscious operator and pack some seasickness pills, as there’s often a lot of sailing to be done before spotting the sharks.

Cenote Diving near Puerto Morelos

A cenote dive is another favourite activity of many travellers, and Puerto Morelos is the perfect base for that. Puerto Morelos is a lot quieter compared to Cancun and Playa del Carmen, and it’s very close to the Cenote Trail, or Ruta de los Cenotes. Diving in one of these natural sinkholes is a spooky but stunning experience, as you often get to see different underwater life compared to diving in the ocean.

This post is brought to you in collaboration with Hipmunk

Thecrowdedplanet’s : Unusual Places to visit in Italy

This post originally appeared on Thecrowdedplanet’s :“Unusual Places to visit in Italy” written by thecrowdedplanet and posted on 28 February, 2016.

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So, what’s your Italy bucket list? I’m pretty sure it includes Rome, Venice and Florence – and perhaps Cinque Terre, maybe Milan and a couple of Tuscan villages. Well, Italy is amazing anywhere you go – but if you stay on the beaten track, you’ll probably meet more American than Italians. So, how about some unusual places to visit in Italy?

Rome, Venice and Florence are must-sees, but unless you visit off-season, be ready for queues, crowds and a general ‘tourist theme park’ feel. If you want to experience the ‘real’ Italy, you need to get off the beaten track. Here we’ve included our favourite five unusual places to visit in Italy, with tips on what to see and when to visit.

Pisa

Did you know that Pisa has a lot more to offer than the tower? The whole square where the tower is located is just amazing, with a stunning church and baptistery, and grass instead of paving stones. Get away from the tourist centre and you’ll find a vibrant yet unpretentious town, with lots of young people (it’s one of the main university cities in Italy), a beautiful river and picturesque historic centre. Kind of like Florence, fifty years ago.

Capri

Sure, Capri is no secret – but visit outside the summer months and you’ll have the place to yourself. Take a seaside walk to view the famous Faraglioni, giant rocks just off the coast, enjoy an alfresco lunch if you’re visiting in spring or autumn, and tour the Blue Grotto by boat, without having to wait for hours in line. If you want to feel immersed in Capri life, stay in Anacapri, a village located on the highest point of the island with a magnificent view all around.

Turin

Turin is often dismissed as a grey, cold, industrial city – in fact, it’s one of Italy’s creative hotspots, it’s located around the corner from the Alps and have plenty of understated historic sites. It was the first capital of the newborn Italian kingdom, after all! If you’re visiting Turin for the weekend don’t miss the Gran Balon market, one of the biggest flea markets in Italy, and have lunch at a family-run restaurant offering Piedmontese cuisine.

Positano

Not many people visit Southern Italy, and even fewer do so outside summer. The Amalfi Coast is one of Italy’s favorite photogenic locations, with houses clinging to the rock and turquoise sea all around – and Positano is one of the best places to experience it all. In summer it becomes the abode of the rich and famous; prices soar and crowds become unbearable, but the rest of the year the place is perfectly affordable and it’s a lot more pleasant to move around.

Bologna

I don’t get why don’t more people visit Bologna. It ticks all the boxes – it’s a busy university town so fun is guaranteed, there are historical monuments, beautiful hills all around and one of the best cuisines in Italy. It’s also a centre of underground culture, with beautiful street art all over town, great music and shows. To get the most of Bologna’s atmosphere, visit during the academic year as it’s very quiet in summer and you might miss out on the fun.

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