Cartagena, Colombia |An amazing day in this vibrant holiday destination

Old Town

Cartagena is a popular holiday destination for Latin Americans, located on Colombia’s Caribbean coast. Despite what assumptions are made about Colombia, I found Cartagena to be safe and made a very welcome addition my ever-expanding list of favourite places. The walled old town is picturesque with  cobblestone roads, colourful restored colonial architecture and an endless choice of trendy bars and restaurants.  A short cab ride down the road is Bocagrande,  where the old town connects to the newer beach area. It has an endless choice of hotels and apartments along the warm watered coastline.

I stayed in Cartagena for a week which was almost enough time to experience what this city has to offer. One of my favourite nights was on the weekend, as the hip area of Getsemani within the old town became even more alive. (Although I feel most nights would be alive, especially during the hot high-season). I started with dinner at Demente in the busy square Plaza de la Santisima Trinidad. A bar/restaurant within a restored ruin – with a good vibe and an equally hip menu including tapas, creative mains, gourmet pizzas and drinks to start the night. Whilst sitting at the bar I meet an inspirational fellow Australian who had visited the area six years earlier and didn’t want to leave, so she didn’t. By setting up a tour agency she has been lucky enough to keep the holiday feeling alive every day. She also introduced me to Demente’s legendary coconut pie. I will eternally be grateful to this individual.


Stepping out of the restaurant back into the square Plaza de la Santisima Trinidad was an incredible experience, as the crowds had grown even more.  This is a must-visit hot spot if you’re there on the weekend, with a combination of locals and travelers. Within the square salsa music spilled out from nearby bars, teenagers kicked a soccer ball around, an older couple was salsa dancing in the midst of the crowds and bodies lined the curb sitting on old cardboard boxes drinking beer and rum purchased from a nearby corner store. At one stage I shared a curbside seat with a French traveler, who like my new friend from the restaurant couldn’t bare to leave Colombia so had created opportunities to stay an extra nine months. Unfortunately he wasn’t as business savvy and will have to leave the country soon – commendable effort though. I could have stayed on my cardboard box chatting to interesting people all night, but after staying two hours more the planned in the plaza, I felt a salsa club calling.

Also located in Getsemani is Cafe Havana the most popular (with good reason) salsa club in town. The club was packed shoulder to shoulder, but for those who were determined there was still room to dance and everybody was pretty accommodating for the amateur. The atmosphere is fun and vibrant.  The loud music from the live band made it a little difficult for anyone to understand my  ‘not so polished’ Spanish,  so we were grateful to meet Canandians in the club to share the experience with. If an experience is about a feeling, then the passion and energy I felt in this room was the perfect end, to a perfect night in Cartagena.

To appreciate Colombias Carribean coast make sure you

  • Visit Cafe del Mar at sunset – Cartegena is apparently famous for it’s sunsets. This bar is lucky to have the top spot along the old town wall. Grab a drink and skip the overpriced food, as it’s not great. Or just sit on the wall and enjoy the music coming from the bar and take it in.
    Café del Mar
    Cartagena sunset and Café del Mar


  • Spend at least one day at Isla del Rosario (Rosario Islands) – I went to Playa Blanca and unlike the beaches at Bocagrande, the turquoise waters are crystal clear and have an amazing reef to snorkel over. There are also various accommodation options on the islands if a day isn’t enough. The one hour bumpy speedboat ride over to the islands was ‘rough’, but fun at the same time.
Playa Blanca, Isla del Rosario
Playa Blanca, Isla del Rosario

My next blog will be on the land of Tequila and Tacos – Hola Mexico!!! Check out my Instagram account ‘Belindness’ for other places I visit.

Belindaness xoxo

Havana and Trinidad, Cuba | Like stepping back in time

Whilst in Cuba I visited La Habana (Havana) and Trinidad. Being only a four hour car ride between them, it was easy enough to organise a driver and provided yet another chance to use my newly developed bartering skills. An essential skill to have when traveling through South and Central America.

I feel privileged that I had the opportunity to visit Cuba before it opens to the world and changes too much. There is minimal contact with the outside world when in this country. For Australian’s there isn’t even phone reception (bring your tin can and string phone). Internet is rare and only available (at a very expensive rate) in wifi hot spots. These are easy to find, as there are usually a large gathering of locals with heads down and faces glowing. There isn’t really Facebook…Facebook in Cuba is going outside and looking at peoples faces. Local communication is mostly done by landline or yelling towards your neighbours balcony or down the street. There is constant yelling on the streets, which is pretty amusing.

If you forget to withdraw money at the airport cash machine you might be washing dishes to pay for your dinner. As I found out my Australian bank cards didn’t work anywhere outside the airport. Some currencies can be exchanged at the local banks. Just look for the long slow moving lines with cranky security guards and that indicates you have found the bank.

La Habana (Havana), Old Havana

Even though majority of the city is rundown, the crumbling and decrepit state of the buildings is where the beauty is. The charm is the messiness and perfect imperfections. It felt like a real life book illustrating all the years Cubans have lived in isolation from the rest of the world. Often having no access to materials for home repairs or parts to repair cars. Walking through Old Havana, many of the doors of the old buildings are left open and offer a glimpse into local families and their lives. Homes are very basic and it’s not uncommon to see that where a window needed repairs a sheet of metal or cardboard has had to do. However, the Cuban people seem to be very happy and content with their lives.

Havana, Vieja
Havana Vieja

With no consumerism it’s actually quite relaxing as a traveller to just enjoy what is available. Like music. Street corners sound alive with music from live performers on the street, in bars, restaurants and homes. It seems like every Cuban is born knowing how to move their hips. If only I was this lucky.

Ingredients for food are scarce all over Cuba and supermarkets are restricted to only stock the very bare essentials (important note – BYO snacks to this country). Restaurants do what they can with limited options, with a slightly different version of the same thing everywhere…over boiled vegetables anyone? Then a miracle happened, I discovered some really great new non-government run restaurants in Havana’s old town. Paving the way for economic growth by capitalizing on changes happening in Cuba with outside influences of creative menus, funky interiors and pumping RnB and acoustic chilled tunes.

Some must-try restaurants and bars for dinner/drinks in Havana Vieja:

  • 304 O’Reilly, O’Reilly St – A funky menu for lunch, dinner or just a drink with an amazing cocktail list paired with a great atmosphere.
  • El Del Frente, O’Reilly St – The younger brother of 304 O’Reilly and conveniently located directly across the road. It had one additional unexpected draw card, a great rooftop perfect for sunset drinks.

    El del Frente rooftop
    El del Frente rooftop
  • Lamparilla Tapas y Cervezas (Tapas and Beer), 361 Lamparilla St – Tasty tapas, amazing burritos and great cocktails. Great atmosphere day or night.



If Cuba is like stepping back in time, Trinidad is like jumping back in the time machine and going back an extra few decades. Locals on horses with cowboy hats and lasso’s are all over the streets. The main modes of transport are by horse or peddle powered tuk tuks. Unlike Havana, majority of the houses in Trinidad have been restored. The town is very picturesque as the small colourful homes and casas with beautiful architecture in this heritage-listed town are maintained.


Some of my favourite things, about one of my favourite towns Trinidad:

  • Climbing the Cathedral in Plaza Mayor – Forget visiting the Museo de Romance in Trinidad, the cathedral just before sunset is where it’s at. For a tiny entry price the Cathedral provides a perfect birds eye view of Trinidad.

    View from the Trinidad Cathedral
    View from the Trinidad Cathedral
  • Horse riding to the Gran Parque natural Ropes de Collantes waterfalls – Local horseman all over town can take you on a private ride to the waterfalls where you swim in crystal clear waters. I was also taken to a lookout with a stunning view of the rolling green mountains and Caribbean sea.
  • Playa Ancon beach – A relaxing paradise with palm trees and tempered Carribean Sea waters, only a 15 minute taxi ride from the small towns centre. I was able to arrange a taxi which came back after few hours for $8 CUC (Cuban convertible currency) each way.

    Play Ancon Beach
    Playa Ancon Beach
  • Casa Jose y Fatima Trinidad– The hostal I stayed at had a really helpful live-in family and a great rooftop for their amazing breakfast. I also hung out under a rooftop clothes line at sunset some nights with a cold Cristal (Cuban beer) in hand. This accommodation has four rooms and can be pre-booked online via various sites including


Stay tuned for my upcoming posts on Cartagena, Colombia and Mexico City, Mexico. Check out my Instagram account ‘Belindness’ for other places I visit.

Belindaness xoxo

Managua, Nicaragua | Just a thoroughfare or worth a visit?

Managua is one of those cities often overlooked by travellers and only used for the airport as a thoroughfare to other cities such as San Juan del Sur, Leon and Granada. While the city isn’t exactly pretty, or exciting, I found some interesting things to do close by.

During my short stay we hired a car with some new friends we had met in Peru and ventured out of the city to explore. With four of us in the car I figured there was safety in numbers so we couldn’t get too lost. Thank you also to offline satellite maps – I think any traveller can appreciate how essential they are, especially when out of wifi and trying to drive in a foreign country. We survived driving on the wrong side of the road in a country where road rules are only there as a ‘guide’ and in some areas had more chance of being run off the road by pushy locals on horses than another vehicle, which we did experience.

It’s normal to have a horse pull out in front of your car whilst people jump onto a moving bus in front of you right?

A 45 minute drive from the center of town is the beautiful Laguna de Apoyo (Apoyo Lagoon). It was a once in a lifetime experience to spend hours swimming in the balmy, crystal clear waters of this lagoon, which is actually a dormant volcano. I’m assuming the volcanic rocks, which also line the bottom of the lagoon act like a filter making the water so pristine. I did question why the water was so balmy and what the random occasional bubbles were, hoping it was just my friends and not the volcano about to wake while I was there. I will never know the answer to that one.

Laguna de Apoyo
Laguna de Apoyo


On the way driving back to town we discovered the Parque Nacional Volcan Masaya (Masaya Volcano National Park). The volcano is best viewed at night to see the full effect of the lavas glow. After waiting in an entertaining procession of cars for 1.5 hours, groups were able to drive right up to the volcano and allowed to only stay 15 minutes (to avoid toppling over from sulphur exposure). The security guard seemed easily swayed, so with a few smiles we loitered around additional minutes after our group was flagged away. I was able get crowd free pictures and have a more personal experience enjoying the serenity of the mesmerising lava which resembled waves crashing on rocks. Boys this technique to gain extra time may not work for you.

Parque Nacional Volcan Masaya smoke cloud from the highway and the glow of it’s lava at night

Finding good food in Managua is difficult however, if you like battered deep fried chicken you’ll be just fine. It’s available at petrol stations, food courts, restaurants, from street vendors and even the airport. Coronel Sanders has stiff completion in this country, as KFC is replaced with a chain that has an overly chipper looking yellow chook as a mascot. For the rest of us who seek more than fried chicken, it was a was a relief to find the restaurant Don Candidos to get a good steak to accompany all the rice and black beans in Managua. If you like a little free entertainment with your dinner, you’re in luck. A lot of the bars and eateries in Managua are outdoors and have a pretty fun atmosphere to enjoy a drink with the locals and watch them salsa. It’s even more fun if you join in.


My Instagram account ‘Belindaness’ has pictures of all the other places I visit in South and Central America.

Belindaness xoxo

Peru | Cusco, the gateway to Machu Picchu

Plaza de Armas Plaza de Armas

Arriving in Cusco I immediately noticed the thin air. With an altitude of 3400 metres it’s easy to spot the newbies in town – we all walked up the hills (and trust me this town has some short but steep inclines) panting and needing to stop every few meters. At times I felt like a 95 year old who’d just done an aerobics class. I was unlucky enough to suffer altitude sickness for a few days, but at least I was only horizontal in bed for one day. As a starting point for treks, It’s recommend for those doing the Machu Picchu climb to give yourself at least two days in Cusco first to adjust to the high altitude.

Many people only visit Cusco as an entry point to Machu Picchu, Sacred Valley and the smaller surrounding towns. The small city centre is where all the visitors stay. Being an entry and exit point for trekkers the town buzzes with the excitement for those who are about to head off on their adventure, or who have just come back. With stunning stonemasonry (like what most people recognise about Machu Picchu) buildings it has been important that the city remain fairly unchanged, as it is now World Heritage Site. I found it easy to lose myself exploring the many beautiful (and very narrow) cobblestoned streets around the city. Which is made even more interesting as you are often sandwiched up against the walls alongside locals trying to avoid your toes getting run over by a car.

For me it turned into a daily challenge to see how many people I could skim past and jump back up onto the footpath (I use the term footpath very loosely – more like a thin path of cobblestones) before the next stream of cars come up the road.

I found a few good foodie destinations tucked away in the backstreets. For a casual meal my favourite was Green Point Vegan. Fellow carnivores do not avoid this place, you won’t be disappointed. The price, serving sizes and quality of the food is amazing (it’s often challenging to find this combination in Cusco). I had the vegetable korma served with rice, roti bread and Brazil nut butter. They also use Brazil nut milk in their smoothies and porridge. They do an impressive 3 course-rotating menu each day which is worth a try. Cicciolina Tapas Bar restaurant is my other pick for the quality of the food and variety. Tapas only make up a small portion of the menu. I was so impressed by their glazed lamb shank that I came back the next day for the lunch and had an amazing roasted beef gourmet sandwich, which was worth the second visit.


For me the whole city had a very special feel and I felt connected to its spiritual energy, which was the perfect compliment to my visit to Machu Picchu. Maybe it is because the Inca people who are Indigenous to the area are strongly connected to the land and believe that the forces of nature drive their way of life. I felt really lucky that I could feel this and since leaving Peru have felt so enriched by this energy.

I had high expectations for my visit to Machu Picchu after my time in Cusco and in some ways was not disappointed. However, while it was an impressive site, having so many other tourists there at one time (all trying to get the perfect selfie) did take away from my own personal experience. But rest assured you can always find a lot of breathtaking postcard moments. For keen trekkers it’s well worth doing the Inca Trail trek or getting there early to take in the sunrise and feel the energy of the site before the busloads of tourists arrive.

Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu

My next post will be on Cartagena, Colombia where I enjoyed the famous sunsets and continued to indulge in cheap (and tasty) South America beer. My Instagram account ‘Belindaness’ has pictures of all the other places I visit to share my experiences.

Belindaness xoxo

Lima, Peru |Where my passion for food and travel collided

Miraflores, Lima Cathedral of Lima, Peru

I visited Peru’s capital Lima before heading to Cusco and Machu Picchu. Staying in the happening district of Miraflores, I found myself spending most of my time there exploring the many streets, sights and eateries. Miraflores runs up the coast and on the weekend the locals get out of their apartments to go surfing and make use of the sea view parks. They also have exercise equipment scattered alongside the parks, none of which I utilised as I would have been too distracted people watching, but was great to see so many people out and about.

Lima is known for its food scene and its high quality seafood. It has been my favourite South American foodie destination so far – I found the produce to be so much fresher than any of the other countries I have visited which made my tastebuds happier.

The first and last thing I did in Lima was eat Ceviche. Ceviche is pieces of raw fish that are cured in citrus juice (usually lime) and one of my all time favourite foods. For all the ‘I don’t eat raw fish’ types, it usually doesn’t look or taste like raw fish as the citrus cooks the flesh. I was in cured fish heaven, consuming so much fish that I started feeling like I was going to turn into a mermaid. Ceviche is usually had as a starter or on the side of a main meal. Lima is on the Pacific Ocean, so the seafood is extra fresh and has been my favourite places to have the dish in South America.

Ceviche from a Miraflores cafe and Grilled Octopus from the famous La Mar restaurant owned by Gaston Acurio
Ceviche from a Miraflores cafe and Grilled Octopus from the famous La Mar restaurant owned by Gaston Acurio

Given my love of all things food, I did a cooking class with a Peruvian Chef who had trained and owned restaurants internationally to learn how to make the perfect ceviche; he introduced me to the Miraflores mercado (market) and the Don Cevichero fish shop, which he claimed made the best Ceviche in town. They have a few eateries set up alongside their stand so you can try before you buy and attempt to recreate their seafood dishes at home (yes it’s bit of a ‘fragrant’ spot to enjoy your lunch). I liked the takeaway option myself.

Ceviche is so popular in this country that I even spotted mobile ceviche stands. So like a European hot dog stand where it is assembled in front of you. But instead of a Frankfurt being smeared with mustard and sprinkled with sauerkraut, the fish is cured with the lime juice, onion, chilli and then sprinkled with corn before being served in little trays. A very healthy snack – I am always looking for healthier food choices, especially while travelling so this was very exciting. So it’s completely guilt free and leaves room for one of my other favourite South American foods Tres Leche Cake. Usually made with tres (three) different kinds of milk.  The cake is soaked in evaporated milk after being cooked). Well worth a try for anyone with an idulgent sweet tooth.

Mobile Ceviche stand
Mobile Ceviche stand

My inner foodie was completely satisfied after spending time in Lima (and hopefully I can take some tips home with me to recreate the amazing dishes) and was re-energised ready for my next Peruvian adventure in Cusco and Machu Picchu.

Like my Facebook page ‘Belindness’ for some of the other places I visit in-between posts.

Belindaness xoxo

Rio de Janeiro and Paraty, Brazil | The two sides of Brazil

During my visit to Brazil I was lucky enough to visit two amazing, but totally different sides of Brazil’s beaches – the hustle and bustle of Rio de Janeiro and the relaxed small town of Paraty.

Copacabana Beach is the most well known area for travellers to Rio de Janero however, Leblon for me is a much nicer and safer area (less cheesy too). I liked not being hassled on the beach – would I really buy a cheap bikini or fake weed from a shady character asking highly inflated prices? It’s neighbouring beach Ipanema (you might recognise the name as a Brazilian thong brand) also has less ‘cheese’. If you want to visit Copacabana beach it’s still easily accessible by foot or bike. Leblon is mostly locals and seen as the ‘swanky’ end of town, with only a few hotels and more Airbnb type accommodation, which worked out well as I like to mix up my accommodation while travelling – who doesn’t love having a washing machine occasionally! Even with the areas high-end status, the prices at the many bars, Botecos (name for local watering holes that mostly serve local dishes) and nice restaurants were still cheaper, or on par with back home. Regardless of which beach you’re sitting on, the views of surf, mountains and colourful favelas in the distance is pretty special to see all at once.


How I enjoyed the beach-side living in Rio de Janeiro

Botecos in Leblon

I unintentionally went on a Boteco lunch mission during my time in Leblon to compare the roast meat sandwiches and shrimp pies – best inhaled with chilli sauce or chilli oil. Ok maybe the mission was intentional. Gourmet sandwiches are a big thing in South America. A lot of the Boteco’s had similar menus, but their mini pies (usually a small starter) were all made slightly differently. There are many scattered around – some are very small establishments with no seating and only a bench to eat, drink your beer and of course watch the soccer while others are more like a cafe style. Two of the more popular Botecos in Leblon (and the ones that had the best sandwiches!) are:

Jobi – My favourite because the roast beef had a chorizo baked into it. Meat wrapped in more tasty meat – what more could you ask for! No further explanation needed. The shrimp pie had a crumbly and buttery texture. Yum! I also came back here one night for a few local cerveza’s (beers) as it is very popular with locals and friends catching up after work so had a really good vibe.

Jobi shrimp pie and roast meat Sandwich
Jobi shrimp pie and roast meat sandwich

Boteco Belmonte – A larger Boteco with a more extensive menu including a variety of grilled meats and sides making it ideal for more formal dinners as well. This Boteco felt a bit more formal however, nobody seemed to notice me sneaking in wearing workout gear after a long day of cycling through Rio! South Americans seem to have large meals at lunchtime, so I saw it as my duty to try the sandwich and two shrimp pies here. They were too good to stop at one.

Belmonte shrimp pie and chilli sauce
Belmonte shrimp pie and homemade chilli sauce

Don’t leave Rio without doing

A bike Tour with Rio by Bike – A special mention to this operator because the tour was one of my favourite days in Rio. I generally don’t do too many tours as I’ve been known to get bored and sometimes sneak off. But not this day, I didn’t want it to end. Our guide was super chilled, passionate about the city and actually provided interesting information. Doing a round trip from Copacabana beach to Centro and the bits in-between including the colourful Selaron steps, I got to see the real Rio. Motorists in Brazil still aren’t fully accustomed to seeing bikes as a mode of transport and sharing the road with cyclist as with other continents. So having a guide who effortlessly navigated us through traffic was really helpful and good for people like myself who sometimes get caught up in the moment, so tend to be clumsy.

Rio by bike tour
Rio by bike tour

Sugarloaf mountain at sunset – The worst kept secret in Rio, but absolutely a must-do. The mountains are accessed by cable cars that can apparently have very long lines, so best to avoid on weekends. I was there during the week so it was quieter, yet I was still fearful of losing an eye from the sea of selfie-sticks, so I can’t imagine what weekends are like. There is also a bar at the top of the mountain so you can celebrate the day with a toast of Brahma (local Brazilian beer) and the best views of the city. The fog hadn’t fully lifted the day I visited however, the view was still pretty special.

Sugarloaf mountain at sunset
Sugarloaf mountain at sunset

Paraty, Brazil | The other beach to visit in Brazil – Where beaches, bikes and beers collide!

After being teased by many Brazilians I’ve finally learned learnt that Partay is pronounced Para-chi. A few hours drive between Rio de Janerio and Sao Paulo. With it’s Portuguese colonial architecture the beachside town is a laidback, friendly sleepy town that is the perfect post big-city detox. A place where cars give way to dogs, horses and bikes (sometimes they have no choice as dogs like to plonk themselves in the middle of the road to take an afternoon siesta). I stayed in Jabaquera – the secluded beach is just out of the old town. Although nothing is far in this small town. Jabaquera beach had mild temperature waters and relaxed beachy restaurants scattered on the sand, making lunch and beer easily accessible. Having a hire bike from the local operator Sou + Bike I never felt the need to have a car. It’s a town where you can go for a bike ride and stumble across amazing waterfalls (I discovered the hard way the waterfalls come after riding up a few very steep hills – I definitely earned my indulgent dinner that night), pick up groceries on the way home and then ride to dinner.

Jabaquara beach and Pedra Branca falls
Jabaquara beach and Pedra Branca falls
Paraty old town
Paraty old town


My next post will be from Peru after visiting Lima and Cusco. Unless of course I drop my phone from the side of the mountain whilst getting the standard tourist selfie at the top of the Machu Picchu  – if you are female and have been on any online dating sites, you know the one!

Like my Facebook page ‘Belindness’ for some of the other places I visit in-between posts.

Belindaness xoxo

Buenos Aires, Argentina |Eat, drink and be merry

La Boca

Buenos Aires is not just a city, it’s a metropolis. Full of gorgeous old buildings and tonnes of bakeries. To my gluten free friends, I wish you luck in this city. The neighbourhoods of Palermo are where I felt a vibrant energy – tree lined streets and sub neighbourhoods with slick names such as Soho and Hollywood are full of funky bars and restaurants.

 Eat late, drink late, stumble home late in Palermo

I can hand on heart report that Argentineans lives up to their reputation of being carnivores, who take great pride in serving up great grilled meat in the endless choice of Parilla’s (Argentine steakhouse and the name of the metal grill used to cook). I accidentally learnt a lesson about NOT ordering ‘Parrillada’. When it first hit the table I quickly stabbed my fork into what I thought was chicken (turns out it was tripe) and the eye fillet (liver disguised as beef). Let’s just say I won’t be ordering that again. Luckily there was an abundant flow of Malbec to wash it down. Malbec is from the wine region of Mendoza, Argentina and one of my favourite vinos. So naturally I’ve indulged in a glass (several) everyday whilst being in Argentina, it is after all very cheap here and full of antioxidants. Gracias to whoever first brought the vine cuttings from France to Argentina.


I had a lot of different experiences in Buenos Aires, here are some of my picks of where to eat, drink and be merry

La Cabrera Restaurant (Palermo, Soho) – Apparently this restaurant has won a lot of awards and therefore think that not eating here whilst in Palermo would be like going to Italy and not eating pizza (then posting a picture of it). I probably shouldn’t have had the grilled Proveleta (goats cheese) before indulging in almost 500g of steak, but the meat coma that followed was well worth it. Perfectly grilled meat is served with a long wooden board of sides including eggplant, pickles and sensational homemade sauces.

La Cabrera grilled meats, sides and Proveleta

Pain et Vin wine bar (Palermo, Soho) – A cosy space that feels like you are in somebody’s home, which bakes it’s own sourdough bread.Tick. Tick. I saw a group celebrating a birthday the night I visited and said ‘who needs cake when there is smoked meat, cheese, bread and a wall full of grape juice to try’. The host Pablo seemed to have superhuman powers, being able to tell me what I felt like drinking, when I didn’t even know myself. Every recommendation was spot on and followed with a party in my mouth. I tilted my head and squinted my eyes in confusion when Pablo came over with a glass of Torrontes (Argentinian white wine grape) and told us ‘chew’ whilst taking a sip. It worked! The sweet smelling vino actually tasted dry and crisp.

Pain et Vin
Pain et Vin

El Sanjuanino Restaurant (Recoleta) –Three hours after walking into the restaurant where I thought we were grabbing a quick lunch, I realised we had stumbled across a gem that is popular with both locals and travellers. Joseph looked after us all afternoon and was hilarious. He attempted to play matchmaker for other diners and provided my table with a never-ending supply of Malbec vino. With all this free vino came great traditional Argentinian food. Milanesa, which is referred to everywhere as ‘crumbed meat’ (aka veal schnitzel), lentil and chorizo stew and after trying Empanadas all over the city, this restaurant was up there with my favourites.

El Sanjuanino Buenos Aires
Joseph from El Sanjuanino

Thelonious Jazz club (Palermo) – A really cool place to spend time in with a warm inviting presence. This venue had a great ambience, as it was full of vintage character within the converted mansion, a great drinks menu, locals and a varied age demographic. The musicians really love what they do and this energy radiated throughout the room. An absolute bargain at $180 pesos (around $18 AUD) and a must do for music lovers visiting Buenos Aires. And do yourselves a favour and try the Chocotorta cake it also created a party in my mouth.


My next post will be after visiting Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Like my Facebook page ‘Belindness’ for some of the other places I visit in-between posts.

Belindaness xoxo

Santiago, Chile | 4 things to try in Santiago

Santiago, chile

Santiago, Chile.The enormous snow capped Andes mountain ranges hug the city of Santiago. The best views of the whole city and surrounding ranges are from the top of San Christobel Hill. Jump into cable cars with locals for a five-minute journey to what feels like the top of the world. If you’ve inhaled a few too many empanadas at lunch there’s a walking track. There is also a church at the top of the hill used by locals on Sundays – what a picturesque spot to confess sins.

Within the city center there seem to be more banks and pharmacies than anything else. Surely nobody needs to buy bandaids that frequently!


4 things to try in Santiago

Street Vendor food on O’Higgins Ave, Centro – Only because I was so impressed, I chose to eat from a woman operating a pimped out converted shopping trolley. This Chilean version of a food van had nothing more than a trolley lined with metal sheets in which she deep fried a type of pumpkin flat bread.

Shellfish empanadas at Mercado Central De Santiago seafood market – Dip the delicious buttery pastry into pebre (a sauce of smooth minced onions, herbs, peppers and tomato) for a little extra ‘zing’. After purchasing produce at the market you can dine at the inexpensive seafood restaurants in the adjoining pavilion.

fish market

Pastel de Choclo (corn pie)- corn, minced beef, chicken, boiled egg, olives, raisins and onion are covered with a sugar coated corn dough and baked. Chileans love sugar. Books on ‘How to quit sugar’ probably don’t sell well here. Or maybe it’s because books attract a whopping 19% tax, which makes it cheaper to buy vino.

Pastel de choclo

Mote co huesillo – a sweet drink of dried apricots cooked in a sugar syrup and mixed with soft wheat that resembles freekah. Sold mainly on street stands the apricot syrup drink could be mistaken for a meal. Not that I’d want to offend a local by suggesting it, but a dash of vodka would be great in this drink.


My next post will be from Buenos Aires, Argentina in a week. Once I’ve managed to eat my way through some of the cities best restaurants and I recover from my meat coma.

Belindaness xoxo

Why not do an adult gap year|Pause everyday life and do whatever you want

What could be better than walking out from work on a Friday afternoon and saying, ‘adios, see you in six months’? Well, that’s what I just did. A few months ago I thought to myself, ‘wouldn’t it be great to pause ‘everyday’ life and take an ‘adult gap year’ and do… well… whatever I want for six months, eliminating any kind of monotonous routine’.

“How often in life would I have an opportunity to leave my two ‘pet’ pot plants in the capable hands of family and have a solid six months of spreading my Belindaness”.

My random adventure begins with three months in South America. I will be zig zagging my way around Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico and Cuba. I will follow this with another three months of having no alarm clock, no timetable, no restrictions and having some short trips, foodie excursions and a little travel within Australia and New Zealand. I will be free to soak up a bit more of that infinite knowledge that comes from meeting new people and experiencing endless, exciting excursions. After all, everyday should be an adventurous excursion – that’s what life is all about.

Travel may be the ‘school of life’ however, random everyday encounters with people are also valuable learning opportunities. We just happen to be able to experience them at a sped up pace when there is no need to walk into work every day. I am very much looking forward to my biggest decision each day being, whether or not I am hitting the beach or, where I’ll eat later.

Being a passionate foodie I’m hoping to soak up as much local culture and food as possible, wherever I go – whether it be home or abroad. Food touches the heart and soul of tastebuds everywhere. Who doesn’t love that twinkle of butterflies when you notice the waiter coming your way or seeing something on a menu that you’ve never sampled before.

Stay tuned for my first post in South America around mid-June. I can be technologically challenged after all. I only just learnt that an RSS ‘feed’ is not a list of restaurants, so attempting connecting to Wi-Fi in a foreign country will be a learning experience.

Belindaness xoxo