Eating Bake and Shark at Maracas Beach in Trinidad

Maracas Beach is definitely the most popular spot for swimming on the island of Trinidad.

Every weekend, busloads of locals and tourists make the journey to this popular spot to enjoy swimming in the cold, blue water, leaping over gentle waves, and relaxing under swaying coconut trees while sipping on rum cocktails.

It’s a spacious, curving expanse of coastline that’s protected by a deep bay.

View of Maracas Bay from Above

Maracas Beach is also famous for “Bake and Shark”, a tasty sandwich that’s made with deep fried fillets of shark meat and spicy local sauces.

Going to Maracas Beach and passing up a bake and shark is practically unheard of for most Trinidadians.

There are many different options to get to Maracas depending on whether you’re coming from the East or West of Trinidad, but all roads converge on the winding and scenic North Coast Road.

Before Maracas Beach is the “Maracas Lookout”, a clifftop look out spot that offers views of S’aut Deau Island to the West and Maracas Bay to the East on a clear day.

maracas look out in trinidad

Expansive views of the Caribbean Sea are possible on all but the cloudiest of days.
The Maracas Lookout is also home to stalls selling crafts and local snacks like preserved and pickled fruits and hand-made confections like coconut fudge, and sugar cake.

maracas lookout snacks booth

As you continue cruising along the North Coast Road, Maracas Beach is the first beach that you approach. At curves and rises in the road, you often catch quick glimpses of the ocean.

Smelling the salty air and hearing the roar of the surf is always rejuvenating after a long drive on a winding road.

It’s finally time for a swim in the cool water, a cold drink, and a hot Bake and Shark!

maracas beach trinidad and tobago

Bake and Shark was featured on the Trinidad episode of the travel show Bizarre Foods. The show’s host Andrew Zimmern said it was the best sandwich he ever had.

bake and shark trinidad cuisine

It certainly can be considered to be among the best sandwiches in the world. The well-seasoned shark meat is fried to a golden perfection on the outside while the meat inside remains tender.

The fried bake is also crispy and golden with a fluffy interior that has a hint of donut sweetness to it.

It’s the zesty local sauces that really make the Bake and Shark stand out.

bizarre foods trinidad and tobago bake and shark

Eat it like Zimmern did in Bizarre Foods, skip the ketchup and mustard and go for the more exotic sauce options.

There’s garlic sauce; a slightly less thick mayonnaise infused with a sharp garlic flavor,
tamarind sauce; a sweet and tangy chutney that’s somewhere between barbeque and general tso sauce,

chadon beni; a pesto like sauce make with the pureed leaves of the culantro plant,

hot sauce that’s made with blended peppers and lime juice and then allowed to mature to reach its peak heat,

and creamy salad dressing to go with the lettuce, cucumber slices, and sliced tomatoes that you could garnish your bake and shark with.

maracas beach bake and shark

While Maracas Beach is definitely a great beach to spend a day, and Bake and Shark is one of the most delicious sandwiches, always remember that there’s more North Coast to explore beyond Maracas!

Get back in the car and continue along the North Coast Road, explore Blanchisseuse beach, Tyrico Bay, Avocat Waterfall, or if you’re adventurous make the scenic trek to Paria Beach.

welcome to paria beach

Whistling Andy Distilling in Montana

Sipping Montana Moonshine at Whistling Andy.

This grain to glass distillery was founded with the aim of crafting small batch spirits that reflect the character of Montana.

Whistling Andy creates moonshine, whisky and gin with ingredients from local farmers at Bigfork, Montana; a town where glacial melt water cascades into the largest freshwater lake West of the Mississippi River.

While visiting Glacier National Park last year, we decided to visit their distillery to sample some moonshine. we were fortunate enough to get more than just a tasting, we were treated to a distillery tour and some of their custom cocktails.

whistling andy whisky barrel

VISITING THE WHISTLING ANDY DISTILLERY

The small building houses their entire operation and is dominated by a large copper still in the back.

The distillery uses corn, rye and wheat grown just mere miles away, and the tour-guide explained how they’re used to create Whistling Andy Straight Bourbon and Whistling Andy Harvest Select Whisky using age old recipes.

whistling andy distilling copper still

We then headed to the barrel-room where the spirits mature slowly in charred barrels rested on their sides. While most of these are virgin American white oak barrels, there are a few that have been used to age other spirits in the past like Port and Chardonnay.

The bar upfront is decorated with Western themed art and solid wood furnishings. The highlight is a huge slab of wood cut from a single tree that serves as the bar counter.

The friendly staff is also more than willing to let you sample some of their spirits (even before it’s bottled!) so you could decide on your favorite bottle to take home.

whistling andy moonshine distillery

WHISTLING ANDY SPIRITS

Of course we took up their offer to “meet the perfect spirit” and had a sample of everything that was in stock that day!

Their Straight Bourbon and Harvest Select Whisky are excellent for sipping side by side and comparing their similarities and differences.

Whistling Andy Straight Bourbon; sweet corn notes are made more complex by notes of rye and fresh cut grass.
Harvest Select Whisky; compared to the bourbon, this whisky has more of a dried fruit sweetness with a finish dominated by pleasant oaky flavors of vanilla and caramel.

Both whiskies lend themselves well to the Old Fashioned Cocktail; in fact the Whisky West is just a variation of this drink with agave nectar instead of sugar.

whisky and bitters old fashioned cocktail

It was no shock that I would find great craft distilled whiskey in Montana.

The surprise was the two uniquely flavorful gins; the smooth and vegetal Whistling Andy Cucumber Gin and the complexly curious Pink Peppercorn and Pear Gin.

cocktails with whistling andy gin

Martini lovers have more than just gin to work with since their Hopschnop, distilled from a Blackfoot Brewing Company IPA actually creates the perfect Montana Moonshine Martini.

moonshine martini

As a rum lover, I had mixed feelings about their Hibiscus Coconut Rum; on one hand I was really looking forward to a rum aged in the Rocky Mountains in barrels that previously held their whisky.

So I was a bit disappointed at the fact that their only rum offering was flavored;

But it was unique among flavored rums; there was no cloyingly sweet fake hibiscus flavor or “tropical-kitch” coconut sweetness.

Notes of fermented tropical fruit and toasted coconut had me thinking about how well this rum will work in a daiquiri or a Mai Tai.

whistling andy rum cocktails

All in all, the Whistling Andy Distillery has something for any responsible drinker, from the casual drinker who simply wants to enjoy a few cocktails after a day on the lake, or a whisky connoisseur who enjoys sampling the local tipple in every new city or town.

Check out their cocktail recipes to try out some of the drinks that we sampled.

Here’s the original article on CestLaVibe.com

Discover Ireland wants Star Wars fans to visit the first Jedi Temple

Discover Ireland seeks to woo Star Wars fans to the Skellig Islands; two wave battered rocky islands off the coast of Ireland that have suddenly become famous for (spoilers ahead) being the planet featured in the final scene of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Ruins of a real-life monastery in Skellig Michael, Ireland are serving as the location for the first Jedi Temple on the planet
Ahch-To.

“For over a thousand generations, the Jedi Knights were the guardians of peace and justice in the Old Republic.” – Obi Wan Kenobi in Star Wars: A New Hope.



Sometime after Ben Solo became Kylo Ren, Luke Skywalker went to the planet looking for answers on Ahch-To. Did he find them? We’ll see in Star Wars: Episode VIII.

Tourists flocking to their favorite movie locations is nothing new. every year fans of Lord of the Rings fans head to New Zealand to have second breakfast and see locations from scenes on the Tolkien based film series.

Harry Potter fans are no different.

We did our share of Star Wars tourism last year when we visited Star Wars and The Power of Costume at the EMP Museum in Seattle.

The exhibit has since returned to the Smithsonian.

Discover Ireland wants Star Wars fans to visit the first Jedi Temple was orginally published on CestLaVibe.com

Are Lollapalooza VIP Tickets Worth It?

For more than two decades, the Lollapalooza Music Festival has constantly been ranked as a top North American Music Festival.

The three day music fest brings together a diverse line-up that includes the top alternative rock and hip-hop acts, the latest indie and EDM, and living legends like Depeche Mode and Paul McCartney.

The festival has grown to over 200,000 attendees every day with international expansion into six different countries.

Just like Bonnaroo and Coachella, Lollapalooza is a bucket list festival, and attending a bucket list music festival means splurging and trying to make it a once in a lifetime experience.

VIP tickets that grant you access to the “Lolla Lounge” would definitely improve your Lollapalooza experience.

At more than five times the cost of a regular ticket, is a Lollapalooza VIP ticket worth it?

Lollapalooza VIP cocktails and alcohol

The answer to that question is subjective; it depends on what you enjoy most about a music festival as well as how much you could eat and drink.

Here’s a rundown of what three days in the Lollapalooza VIP Lolla Lounge is like;

LOLLAPALOOZA VIP LOUNGE DAY ONE

Food isn’t served until 11:00 AM, so I decided to get familiar with the various alcoholic beverages until that time;
The Jack Daniels Whiskey bar featured Jack and Cola, Tennessee Fire on the rocks and Lolla Lemonade; a mix of Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey and sweet tea with a splash of fresh lemon juice.

Jack Daniels Tennessee Whisky Lollapalooza VIP

Bombay Sapphire served sophisticated drinks like the Peppered Peach Collins that includes gin, fresh lemon juice, iced tea and black pepper.

Bombay Sapphire Peppered Peach Collins Cocktail

Bacardi offered a crisp mojito with fresh mint leaves and lime juice along with Cuba Libres. Maestro Dobel Tequila made ‘black diamond margaritas’ with a rim of black salt in a lounge area designed to resemble a black sand beach.

I stuck with Jack and colas and Bacardi and colas for all of day one, mostly because of the souvenir cups that they came in.

Jack Daniels at Lollapalooza


Having never tasted Chicago deep dish pizza, I headed straight for the Italian booth to have some miniature slices of Lou Malnati’s cheese pizza.

Italian Food at the VIP Lolla Lounge

The Italian booth also served toasted cheese ravioli served on a bed of marinara sauce and garnished with Parmesan cheese, miniature meatball subs with marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese on a Turano bun, and breadsticks stuffed with mozzarella cheese and ranch dip.

There were also other food offerings but I decided to stick with Italian for day one.

After snacking for almost an hour straight, I left the VIP Lolla Lounge to check out some music.


The opening acts at Lollapalooza are always amazing and COASTS was no exception.
I’d become familiar with their music over the last few years and their live performance was on key and energetic.

Paul McCartney Lollapalooza VIP

I was also thrilled to see Cold War Kids, Alabama Shakes and Paul McCartney. Since all three acts performed one after the other on the same stage, finding a spot up front seemed like a good option.

I knew that I would be standing stage side for around seven hours so I returned to the VIP Lolla Lounge to drink as much Jack and colas as possible and eat a few more meatball subs.

LOLLAPALOOZA VIP LOUNGE DAY TWO

I began the second day of Lollapalooza with a tequila sunrise followed by a bottle of Daily Greens vegetable and fruit juice since that combo seemed like a balanced choice for a liquid breakfast at a music festival.

Tequila Sunrise at Lollapalooza

 

I relaxed in the Lolla Lounge waiting for food to be ready, luckily the folks at Maestro Dobel tequila were more than willing to keep the margaritas flowing before lunch.

Having started the day with tequila, I decided to keep it Mexican themed by only eating food from the booth labelled “Taco”. The food on offer included grilled steak fajitas with cilantro and mole, beef barbacoa tamales dipped in green chili, and elote on a stick seasoned with Parmesan cheese and dried peppers.

Lolla Lounge Mexican Food

I went stage side to catch Catfish and the Bottlemen who I’d seen for the first time at the Governors Ball Music Festival the year before.

Catfish and the Bottlemen at Lollapalooza

I stayed inside the VIP Lolla Lounge to see Django Django. The view from the lounge is vast and gives you a view of the band and the festival crowd with the Chicago skyline in the distance.

The acoustics actually travel well but being able to sit with a drink in hand was the best part of listening to music in the Lolla Lounge.

Lollapalooza VIP Lolla Lounge view

Choosing a headline act was a much tougher call than Friday since pop crooner Sam Smith and rock legends Metallica were playing on opposite ends of Grant Park.

I skipped both headliners and decided to relax in the lounge instead of trying to get a good spot near the front of the stage.

I had some more Maestro Dobel cocktails and miniature Chicago-style hot dogs while listening to Kid Cudi’s performance in the background.

miniature chicago-style hot dog

I ended the day by watching BANKS and G-Eazy on one of the festivals smaller stage.

BANKS Lollapalooza

LOLLAPALOOZA VIP LOUNGE DAY THREE

The third day of the festival is the day that I most appreciated having a Lollapalooza VIP ticket.
The combination of a scorching sun, a raging head ache, two sore feet and a two day hang over made a seat in the shaded Lolla lounge the best place to be.

I watched Twin Peaks and the Wombats from the lounge that day.
The Lolla Lemonade made with Tennessee Honey and sweet tea was just what I needed that day; sweet and tangy with a boost from the caffeine.

Twin Peaks Band Live

I also downed loads of Vita Coco coconut water. I actually had enough coconut water left over from Lollapalooza to last me an entire week!

The folks at Jack Daniels knew more about the impending storm than I did and gave me a free poncho although the sky seemed clear. When the evacuation of Grant Park did eventually happen, they cleared out the Lollapalooza VIP sections first.

I headed back to the hotel, got some rest and came back recharged for an energy packed performance from Gogol Bordello.

gogol bordello live

With my schedule now thrown off, and knowing that I just wanted to see TV on the Radio and Florence and the Machine again I decided to try some more Lollapalooza VIP food that I might have missed.

Churros slathered in Dulce de Leche and jumbo pretzels with a cheddar cheese sauce dip made a perfect snack combo of salty and sweet.

churros slathered in Dulce de Leche, jumbo pretzels with a cheddar cheese sauce dip

IS A LOLLAPALOOZA VIP TICKET WORTH IT?

Chicago was just a stop on a trip that started in New York City and ended in Seattle.

I have no idea when next I’ll be at Lollapalooza or even in Chicago again and I’m glad that my first Lollapalooza experience was amazing.

Everyone should splurge on a music festival at least once.

Sure, when I look back I think about another camera lens or plane ticket that I could have bought, but at the same time I still think that a Lollapalooza VIP ticket is definitely worth it.

Lollapalooza VIP review

THREE WAYS TO EXPERIENCE DOMINICA’S HOT SPRINGS FOR FREE

Dominica’s Hot Springs provide the perfect relaxation after a long day of hiking on the tropical island.

Most of these hot springs are located in the village of Wotten Waven, where the roads are lined with spas.

These spas make use of the Nature Island’s naturally heated sulphur springs.

Some of the more popular spas, like Screws Spa and Tia’s actually feature a series of artificial pools with different temperatures.

If you want to avoid the “Caribbean kitsch” vibes of Wotten Waven, save some money and also better experience Dominica, then you need to check out these tips on

How to Experience Dominica’s Hot Springs for Free

Screws Spa Dominica

1- At the base of Trafalgar Falls

Relax in a warm, gently flowing sulfuric stream while also enjoying the view of the majestic waterfall and listening to its distant rumble. If the water is hot and you need to cool down you could make the short trek to the waterfall and soak yourself in its plunge pool.

Dominicas Hot Springs Guide

2 – Rodney’s Retreat and Wellness Center

Stop off at this eco-resort in Soufriere for breakfast or dinner, and then take a short hike to a secluded natural hot tub. This hot spring is only about fifteen minutes away and surrounded by lush forest. The only sounds to be heard are the swaying of the trees and the occasional bird.

Rodneys Retreat Dominica

3 – Bubble Beach Spa

There’s an amazing point in Soufriere Bay where the geothermic activity of the island makes the water near the shore pleasantly warm.

The Bubble Beach Spa is free to the public, although a small donation would be appreciated.

This is a cool place to relax and our favorite of Dominica’s Hot Springs, so me made an entire post about relaxing at the Bubble Beach Spa

Welcome to Bubble Beach

There you have it, three free ways to experience Dominica’s Hot Springs. Other than being free, all of these places have the added bonus of allowing you to truly be in nature (since it is the nature island!) instead of in an artificial pool.

Wouldn’t you rather bask in sulfuric springs where you could be admiring a view of Scott’s Head or Trafalgar Falls instead of a building? Wouldn’t you rather soak in solitude listening to the rustling of rain forest trees instead of the chatter of tourists fresh off a cruise ship?

FIVE REASONS TO USE AIRBNB

Airbnb is a unique website that offers accommodation in over 34,000 cities in over 190 countries. This community marketplace actually doesn’t own any of the properties that it connects its guests with.

Since it was founded in 2008, the company has connected millions of budget travelers with unique, affordable lodging. If you’ve never checked out Airbnb before it’s definitely worth checking out when planning your next trip.

FIVE REASONS TO USE AIRBNB

Airbnb headquarters Toronto - picture via Wikipedia

1 – HOSTS HAVE LOCAL KNOWLEDGE

Sure it’s fun to explore New York City or any other new destination with other travelers that you met at the hostel, but most likely they’re just as clueless as you are about local things like how to find the best pizza or great spots for craft beer
.
Airbnb hosts are usually invaluable sources of local wisdom and they know all of the customs of the area.

You Airbnb host will ensure that you avoid all the tourist traps.

2 – IDEAL FOR BUDGET TRAVEL

Just scroll the price range bar to whatever amount you’re willing to spend and you’re almost guaranteed to find a room (or a tent, or a hammock) that’s probably less than the price of a similarly located hostel and definitely less than a hotel.

3 – YOU COULD LIVE LIKE ROYALTY

For less than $150 a night you have a choice of quite a few castles to sleep in. You could do a Euro-trip and only stay in castles! There are Castles listed in Ireland, England, Croatia, France, Spain, Italy and even Colorado.

There are also many other luxury accommodations if a castle is not really your style.

Stay in a castle with Airbnb

4 – PRIVACY ON A BUDGET

The The social aspect of a hostel is great, but everyone enjoys some quiet time and Airbnb is perfect for that.
Unlike couchsurfing, you have no obligation to hang out with your host so you could relax on your own whenever you want to.

5 – IT’S NOT THAT RISKY

Travel is always risky. From getting your luggage stolen to getting ripped off by a cabbie; anything could happen to you while you’re on the road. You need to be constantly cautious with everything, and that inlcudes booking with AirBnb.

The internet is filled with Airbnb horror stories, but there are also tips on staying safe. Read all customer reviews of the place that you want to stay, ask your host questions and search for them on social media to learn more about them.

Trust your instincts and make smart decisions for the duration of your stay, and leave if it seems unsafe.

So there they are, Five Reasons to use Airbnb. Whether a European castle for a week or a South American villa for a month, there really is nothing like the Airbnb experience.

Need another reason to use Airbnb? Here’s an Airbnb Credit

There are also Five reasons for staying in a hostel. So when it comes down to budget travel, remember that you have more than one choice!

RELAXING AT BUBBLE BEACH SPA IN DOMINICA

The Bubble Beach Spa in Soufriere Bay

lets your enjoy the beach and a spa for the perfect post-hike experience

The Nature Isle is renowned for many things; amazing hikes, therapeutic hot springs and crystal clear beaches, but there’s only one spot on the island where you could experience the the islands warm water and gently crashing waves at the same time.

Welcome to Bubble Beach

Bubble Beach Spa in Dominica is a small area in Soufriere Bay where the geothermic activity of the island causes the water near the shore to be warm, and even pleasantly hot in some spots.

Dominica Travel Tips - Bubble Beach

The beach has been blocked off with stones to trap as much of the warm water as possible. Even on a rainy day (like the day that the below picture was taken), the beach provides enough warmth.

Bubble Beach Spa Dominica

The small bubbles of gas escaping from beneath the hot stones lend to the “Bubble Beach” name. Similar bubbles can be seen when snorkeling at the more popular Champagne Beach.
The stones nearest to the shore are piping hot, and the water gets cooler as it gets deeper allowing you to choose a perfect place to relax.

Unlike the over-priced, touristy hot springs like Screw’s Spa and Tia’s Spa at Wotten Waven; the Bubble Beach Spa is free to the public although a small donation would be appreciated.

Dominica Rum Punch at Bubble Beach

You could make a small donation and still buy two cups of homemade rum punch (the coconut and the passion fruit are my favorites but still try all!), you would have still spent less money than if you visited Screw’s Sulphur Spa.

Soufriere Bay at night

And you definitely will not get this splendid view of Scotts Head from Wotten Waven at twilight! Other than sweet views like that as the sun sets, the Bubble Beach Spa really stands out because the pleasant and sublte change of temperature caused by the motion of the waves is unlike anything else in Dominica.

The BUbble Beach Spa is not the only place in Dominica where you could bask in therapeutic warm water, check out Three places where you could experience Dominica’s Hot Springs for free