Washington, D.C.

JP’s 24 Trips in 12 Months!

Trip No. 2:  Washington D.C./Baltimore, Maryland

Dates:   September 21-24, 2017

Recommendations:

  1. Succotash is a new restaurant in downtown D.C. that combines Southern comfort food with Asian influences.  Check it out for dinner and drinks and you won’t be disappointed!
  2. Download Capital Bikeshare and plan to bike around downtown using the app.  It made everything so much easier!
  3. D.C. is a town full of museums.  Do your research ahead of time and plan a day just for museums.  There’s so much to learn!
  4. If you go to Maryland, make sure you go to a crab feast!

Best tips and lessons learned:

  1. Baltimore and surrounding areas have some great spots, but, unless you have an event or specific destination, I would generally avoid downtown Baltimore.
  2. Do not plan on walking around downtown D.C.  That’s too exhausting.  Use the bikeshare!

My Washington D.C Trip:

The last time I went to Washington, D.C., I was about four years old… so, for my second trip, I was really excited about exploring D.C. and surrounding areas.

(Toubab Krewe at Bele Chere Festival in Asheville, North Carolina -July 2010 Street festival photos by the Asheville event photography company Performance Impressions – © 2010 David Oppenheimer – All Rights Reserved)

The night before the trip, I got passes on Jukely (one of my favorite apps) to see Toubab Krewe in Austin at Empire Control Room.  If you haven’t seen them, they put on a great show!  But, it was another one of those times when I went out late before an early morning flight… never a good idea!   Also, here’s a tip: pack the night before your trip if you’re going to go out the night before!  

The morning of my flight was rough… in fact, I was the latest I have ever been to catch a plane!  Regardless, as always, I tried to get as much work done on the plane as I could and caught a nap.  I have to give props to Southwest Airlines too — I had one of the nicest, most attentive stewardesses ever.

I flew into Baltimore, and the first part of the trip was in the Baltimore area.  The first adventure: Comic Con!  If you haven’t been to a Comic-Con, it’s definitely worth checking out even if you’re not a big comic person.  Where else are you going to meet people like this:

The event was in downtown Baltimore.  While the convention center was nice and we enjoyed drinks and dinner at a nice restaurant across the street, I generally would advise avoiding downtown Baltimore!  

The next day, we started the day with a true Maryland crab feast. If you’re from the South like me, you’re probably pretty familiar with crawfish boils.  I’ll admit it:  Maryland converted me:  I prefer a crab feast.  The seasoning is less spicy (which is better for me) and crabs are a lot more filling than crawfish.  If you have the opportunity, when you visit Maryland, go to a crab feast!

That afternoon, after the crab bake, I took a Lyft into D.C. When I go to a city like D.C., and I don’t have a plan, I like to start off at a coffee shop.  On my ride there, I found a convenient Pete’s Coffeeshop and downloaded the Capital Bikeshare app.  

Trust me:  if you’re going to D.C. to explore a lot, download the Capital Bikeshare app and use the bike system!  A couple of tips with the bikeshare:  (i) make sure you stay on top of your time because you have to check the bikes in every hour or so or you get charged a higher rate, and (ii) be careful in cross-walks because D.C. drivers do not yield to bicyclists with the right of way.  I explored all over the Capital Mall and downtown on my bike taking in a lot of the sights.  I did not plan or have much time for museums or tours, but next time I come, that’s what I want to do.  There are so many amazing museums to explore in D.C.

After exploring the city, I went out for dinner and drinks.  I started at Succotash, a new D.C. restaurant that fuses Southern with Asian influences.  I went to the upstairs bar, and enjoyed an amazing meal of spicy fried chicken and vegetables with flavors I’ve never tasted before, and also really appreciated the friend waitstaff.  

After dinner, I got on my app Hooch to find a nice bar.  Hooch is a really great app for people who travel because, if you’re in one of the cities Hooch is in, you can get great bar recommendations and one free drink.  Check it out!  I went to the Columbia Room, which is a really solid cocktail bar.  I talked about liquors and ingredients with the bartenders and ended up having such a good time trying out their different cocktails that I definitely didn’t stay for just one… Also, I highly recommend their desert menu–the ice cream sandwich is incredible.

The next day I spent in D.C. again and enjoyed coffee shops while I caught up on work and enjoyed the scenery and vibe of the town.  Very low key, just like I needed after a long day of exploring before…  When I had to go back to Austin, my one regret was that I did not pick a museum or two and plan to spend one or two full days just taking it in.  There’s always next time!

D.C. is a must-go destination, and its worth more than one trip.  Thanks for reading about my adventure to Baltimore and D.C., and I encourage you to sign-up and take your next last-minute travel adventure with Tripaly!  

Riviera Maya, Mexico

JP’s 24 Trips in 12 Months!

Trip No. 1:  Riviera Maya, Mexico

Dates:   Sept. 10 – Sept. 12, 2017
Hotel: Barcelo Maya Palace

Recommendations:

  1. Riviera Maya is an amazing destination that everyone needs to visit.
  2. Barcelo Maya is a top-notch, all-inclusive resort.
  3. Xel-Ha Eco-Park is a fantastic excursion and an amazing way to spend the day.
  4. Olympus Tours is a solid, reliable transport company for your transfer to and from the Cancun airport.

Best tips and lessons learned:

  1. There’s often no wifi on flights over the Gulf of Mexico so be sure to download local copies of your work if you need to work on the flight.
  2. Make sure to plan at least one day of pure relaxation and chilling when you are at Barcelo Maya (or any all-inclusive).  Doing nothing rather than excursions and exploring can be crucial!
  3. If you need to work in your hotel room while your significant other is sleeping, bring eye shades and a lap desk light.  Trust me!
  4. Get strong bug spray if you are going to an eco-park.  The bug spray they sell there, while having natural ingredients, simply doesn’t work.  You’ll be much more comfortable covered in deet.  

My Riviera Maya Trip:

One of the great destinations that Tripaly regularly offers is Riviera Maya.  I had never been there, so when Tripaly offered a long-weekend, platinum trip there, my girlfriend and I made the last-minute decision and jumped on it!

We had an early morning flight from Austin.  I enjoy spending my pre-flight time at the airport in Austin at the Saxon Pub.  If you plan on working during the flight, I find this pre-flight time at the airport is a great time to make sure you’ve got local copies on your laptop of any files you need on the flight (in case there’s no in-flight wifi).

Our flight was on Southwest, and the staff were incredibly nice and helpful.   We upgraded to seats to the front row where we had tons of extra leg space.  Though I appreciated the extra leg room, there was no seat in front of me to put my bag under, so make sure you keep that in mind when picking your seat, especially if you need easy access to a laptop or other items in your bag.

While on our layover at DFW, we ate at Ling & Louie’s.  I definitely recommend it.  We ordered a delicious stir fry to share, and the service very fast (which is great when you have to catch a connection).

The flight into Cancun is stunning as you get near the coast.  As we got closer, there are vibrant, colorful reefs and the shades of blue and green in the water are absolutely breathtaking. As you approach the airport, you see a small city surrounded by rainforests, as far as you can see.  

Tripaly’s recommended transfer company from Cancun airport is Olympus Tours.   They have free wi-fi, different options for rides, and, as you book in advance, they are there expecting you.

We had a Tripaly platinum trip, so our hotel and room were top notch.  When we arrived we were taken to a private check-in area with an open bar and hors d’oeuvres.  

This was my first all-inclusive experience and I was blown away.  Our room was spacious, well designed and stocked.  The food at the resort was delicious, well-prepared and full of options and variations.  We started at one of the open buffets which was quick and easy.  For dinner, our concierge had arranged a reservation for us for a “Festival Dinner,” with seven chefs coming together to create a seven-course meal.  Each chef prepared something different, with each dish being unique and unexpected.  It was an amazing first afternoon and evening.

For me, as a traveler and a professional, I have to work while traveling, so the next morning, I woke up early before our excursion to work.  I didn’t come properly prepared for this… If you’re going to work in a hotel room with a significant other, you may want to consider getting eye shades for him or her and a lap desk lamp for you…

Our big adventure for the trip consisted of a day at an eco-park called Xel-ha.  The park had snorkeling, cliff jumping, ziplining, hiking, biking and great food and open bars all day.  It was a perfect way to spend the day for us!  We started our day with snorkeling… beautiful water and wildlife.  The craziest thing we saw were stringrays (big ones).  Others encountered a barracuda… but we didn’t run into him.  One thing to avoid:  the water slide.  The walk up the seemingly endless flights of stairs is exhausting and the ride down the slide is extremely painful–so not worth it!  After zip-lining, cliff-diving, biking, hiking, and other adventures, plus eating and drinking all day… we were pretty exhausted.  We met some nice people, had some shots and laughs, and then caught our bus back to the hotel.

The forecast for the entire trip said it was going to rain… but luckily, in Cancun, if it rains, it’s real short and then good weather after that.  When we were leaving the park, it started to pour, but it didn’t last long and then it was back to beautiful weather.  We didn’t really get out to enjoy it though… after that long day at the park, we went to bed real quick after a nice dinner and some drinks in the evening.

The next day was our last, but we weren’t going to fly out until later in the afternoon, so we had plenty of time to enjoy the resort.  I started the day with a nice long walk on the beach.  The waves were soothing, the sand was soft under my feet and my mind felt clear–I felt alive and well.  After that, we got to enjoy the huge pool and swim up bars.  The water was perfect, the bartenders were attentive and the other guests were nice and social.  I wish we had more than a few hours before we had to leave!  Also, I really appreciated how clean the pool area was. This resort really was taken well care of all the time!

Overall, this was an amazing trip. I would definitely recommend the resort as well as the eco-park. Thanks for reading about my adventure to Riviera Maya, and I encourage you to sign-up and take your next last-minute travel adventure with Tripaly!  

JP’s 24 Trips in 12 Months

My name is Jyotpal Singh, but you can call me JP.

I live in Austin, Texas, and I’m one of the founders of the new travel app Tripaly, as well as a full-time lawyer, dog-owner, musician and a whole lot of other fun things.  I believe in living life to the fullest and crushing my bucket list.  And both travel and business are part of that.

So… I’m going to take 24 Trips in 12 Months with Tripaly!

I want to invite you to come along with me as I explore the world with Tripaly and (hopefully) learn a lot along the way.  I am going to be focusing on learning how to be a frequent traveler while also growing a business and managing a busy professional life along the way.  We created Tripaly to help busy people and other travelers explore their world last-minute, on a budget and on a whim.  With Tripaly, I get to to incorporate travel into my life.  My life as a professional and business owner can be pretty hectic, and I usually have a lot on my plate.  But, I want to travel a lot too.

If you would like tips and recommendations on destinations and how to travel the world while being a professional, follow my blog and see where I’m going next!

First up… Riviera Maya!

 

3 Cities in Mexico to Explore Like a Local

Some of the best locations for a unique and pleasant experience are in Mexico, specifically in Guadalajara, Mexico City, and Cancun. We have found of all the locales, Mexico provides the most bang for your buck, with beautiful scenery, gorgeous architecture, and weather to match!

Looking for Good Food in Boston? Skip the Line – Take the Cannoli

On a recent weekend trip to Boston, I had a single objective in mind – to try the best cannoli the North End had to offer. Everyone I asked said the same thing – Mike’s Pastry. Two locations in the greater Boston area and one heck of a reputation, I started walking north only to find…….one of the longest food-related lines I’ve ever seen. Seriously – out the door and wrapping around the building. I had mere hours to see the best that Beantown had to offer, and there just wasn’t room in my trip for that line. So while I’m sure the cannoli live up to the hype – because let me tell you, there was no end to the recommendations I received – here are a few places to load up on this iconic Italian treat without the line around the block.

Maria’s Pastry Shop

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A bit off the beaten path, this little shop might not look like much from the outside, but man oh man is it worth a visit. Whenever I told people that I ate here, their faces simply lit up with excitement, and I completely understand why. Maybe not as popular as Mike’s, this little shop has earned itself a reputation as having the best cannoli outside of Italy, and I have to say, I can’t remember the cannoli I had in Italy after trying Maria’s. There’s not much room to sit and eat, so swing by the shop and get your cannoli to go—the service is fast and the food is just exquisite.

Caffé Vittoria

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If you’re looking for a little more atmosphere than you might get at Maria’s – a nice place to sit, enjoy your cannoli, and have a cup of coffee, check out Caffé Vittoria. Established in 1929 and hailed as the first Italian café in Boston, this is the perfect place to stop whether you’re looking for just a quick coffee and dessert, or you’d rather settle in for a while with a few cocktails.

Bova’s Barkery

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It’s not hard to find a great place to drink in Boston, and if you plan to spend the night putting back a few (or more), you better have a great 24 hour food joint in mind before heading home. Enter Bova’s Bakery. Family owned and operated since 1926, Bova’s boasts that it serves the best Tiramisu in the country – and their cannoli is nothing to scoff at either! Open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, Bova’s is always going to be there when you need, or want, them – and in the late night / wee morning hours, there is no other sight quite as sweet.