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Cultural Learning

We Can Learn Much About Our Cultural Divides From “Yanny” or “Laurel”

We Can Learn Much About Our Cultural Divides From “Yanny” or “Laurel”

By now, we have all forgotten about the whole Yanny or Laurel recording that supposedly divided America. Some people heard Yanny, others heard Laurel. I heard Laurel yet some of my friend heard Yanny. At first I didn’t understand how they didn’t hear Laurel. It was so clear in my mind that the voice was saying Laurel. How could anyone have heard Yanny? It really didn’t make any sense to me. I actually had semi-extensive conversations about how on Earth some of my friends could hear something different than I had. They in turn, felt the same way. But here’s the interesting lesson learned after I took a step back from the situation; I realized that this whole recording goes so much deeper than what was heard from that short audio clip...

So what does this recording have to do with anything other than a short pop culture related debate? In my opinion, our approach to this debate reflects how we handle our current divisions about culture, politics, and almost everything else. Our interpretation of this recording is highly representative of our varying perspectives and how we tend to process/react to information that differs from our own. What if we took the time to ask our friends who disagreed with us WHY they heard differently than we did? They may not have been able to explain why in this situation, but what if you both took the time to brainstorm some reasons why there were differing opinions? I bet you would have come up with some creative reasons rather than thinking the other person was just plain crazy. 

At one point after the initial debate we were all trying to UNDERSTAND why our perspectives were different with the recording. The key here is attempting to understand another view point. If we were so baffled by this recording enough to understand the root cause of these varying perspectives, why can’t we try to do the same in our daily lives? Why can’t we take time to understand different cultural perspectives or to understand why people believe in different political beliefs, and so on? Here's what I think....

We can do BETTER. We can be more THOUGHTFUL about HOW we approach our conversations, and actually LISTEN to what the other person is saying. 

We can take the initiative within ourselves to dig a little deeper when we disagree or even when we agree on issues. We can try to have a little more empathy than we typically have on a daily basis. The thought may sound daunting, but all it takes is one tiny step in the right direction. The next time you have a disagreement, perhaps you can ask the person why they believe what they do. You may learn a little something about the person, but a lot more about yourself. 

Just an FYI: People were hearing different names in the Yanny/Laurel recording because of the varying frequencies and quality of the recording. To read more about the reason why we tend to hear different words, click here.

Inspiring Traveler Journeys: Solo Travel to Antigua

Inspiring Traveler Journeys: Solo Travel to Antigua

Papilia loves to share inspiring traveler journeys. Robert Hock shares his first time traveling 'solo.' An exhilarating moment that everyone should experience at least once in their lifetime.

Maximize the Impact of Your Global Interactions with Papilia

Each day I am astonished by how much I continue to learn through my experiences with Papilia. I am constantly reminded by how fascinating people are; add culture into the mix, and we are now dealing with another set of special circumstances which need to be acknowledged and understood. 

The original concept for Papilia was to provide business and leisure travelers with a customized packing list, culture etiquette tips, and shopping advice. The goal was to help each person feel confident and prepared for their trip prior to departure so they could focus on what actually matters when you travel: to absorb local culture, to develop meaningful relationships, and to create lasting memories. Our original mission was to, "Travel More. Worry Less."

Throughout this journey, I have listened to embarrassing travel-related faux pas, and "I probably shouldn't have done of that" moments from travelers. I spent time thinking about how Papilia's mission could impact the lives of travelers in a more thoughtful way, (in addition to the personalized traveler itinerary). After many months of brainstorming ideas, and reflecting upon global perceptions of culture in the United States and abroad, I came up with a solution that I'm really passionate about.

Papilia now offers customized cross-cultural and international etiquette training and coaching for businesses and individuals who want to improve upon their strategic international relationships or expand their portfolio to develop partnerships internationally. (Detail on these and other trainings are provided on Sophia's personal website and the Papilia website.) 

Our new mission, "Maximize the Impact of Your Global Interactions," addresses a greater need many people are facing and want to better understand. Cultural intricacies are complex, but they are key to successful interactions and will also facilitate a deeper appreciation for local culture and surroundings. 

These training and coaching sessions will also integrate a component that is near and dear to my heart. Mindfulness. In order to interact with other cultures, you have to be mindful of your own interactions. I will incorporate what I have learned from my yoga teacher training to create an experience that will enhance your professional and personal life if you are receptive to it.

Just an FYI: I have a Papilia site and a personal site. Feel free to contact me on either site. I will typically share professional development, personal lessons learned, and other valuable insights on my personal site. Papilia focuses on training and services with a greater focus on travel preparedness and travel inspiration.

I am so excited for this next phase. My ultimate goal is to empower you with the proper tools needed to succeed in any professional or personal setting. 

If you are interested in taking the next step or finding out more information: Please fill out this initial survey so I can understand your training or coaching needs.

If you aren't ready yet, I would love your feedback to my ONE ASK: What is your single biggest communication challenge? 

...and remember...

Culture makes us who we are.

Perception defines how we act.

Knowledge is power.

 

I look forward to hearing from you wherever you are in the world. 

7 Awesome Neighborhoods to Experience In Washington, D.C.

7 Awesome Neighborhoods to Experience In Washington, D.C.

 THE JEFFERSON MEMORIAL BY MOONLIGHT

THE JEFFERSON MEMORIAL BY MOONLIGHT

As the nation's capitol, Washington, D.C. tends to have a politically motivated reputation than being a fun city full of culture and diversity. I moved out of the city over a decade ago because I was tired of people asking me what I did for a living before asking me what my name was. This year, I made a decision to move back to D.C. for a few months. I will admit I was a little reluctant at first, but since I have been here I have noticed an amazing transformation that transcends beyond museums and monuments.  Not only has Washington, D.C. been named The Restaurant City of the Year by Bon Appetit Magazine, but each neighborhood that I have explored has established its own distinct personality. 

For those of you who are looking for some inspiration, I have picked seven areas that are worth checking out.

Shaw - This area is historic and hip. Weather permitting, check out one of the four rooftop bars/gastropubs that boast beautiful scenery and delectable food. Brixton, 801 Shaw, Takoda Restaurant and Beer Garden, and Nellie's Sports Bar are all within walking distance of each other between 9th on 7th streets NW. If you are in the mood to shop, browse through Kit and Ace, Frank + OakMinistry of Supply (for men), Bonobos (for men), Chrome, and Warby Parker. They are all within walking distance of each other and also between 9th and 7th streets. If you are in the mood to see a show, The Howard Theatre have a wide variety of engaging performances. 

 ROSE ON THE ROOFTOP OF BRIXTON ANYONE? 

ROSE ON THE ROOFTOP OF BRIXTON ANYONE? 

Columbia Heights - Many people go Columbia Heights because the neighborhood Target and Bed Bath and Beyond are located right near the Metro. But if you are searching for truly authentic ethnic restaurants, it's worth visiting Columbia Heights. If you love Laotian food: Thip Khao offers steamed fish cooked in banana leaves, goat curry, and tamarind/lemongrass infused, spicy dishes. Mi Cuba Cafe offers much more than traditional Cuban delicacies like Ropa Vieja or a Cuban sandwich. Visit this cafe for breakfast, lunch, or dinner if you want to try Cuban coffee, grilled meats, plantains or rice and black beans but with a Cuban flare. Bad Saint, is a Filipino restaurant awarded as the number two best restaurant in the U.S. by Bon Appetit Magazine. But be prepared to stand in line to get into their 24 seated restaurant space. It will be well worth the wait. 

 MOAK PAA WITH MONKFISH AT THIP KHAO

MOAK PAA WITH MONKFISH AT THIP KHAO

 

Union Market - Find an oasis of culinary delights in the warehouse district on 5th St NE near the Gallaudet NOMA Metro stop. You are guaranteed to find a craving here. Over 40 vendors offer endless food and drink options. If you love salmon, Neopol Savory Smokey offers fresh salmon lox on bagels or a Salmon BLT sandwich which will leave you always wanting more. For dessert, stop by Toli Moli to try falooda popular in the Asian subcontinent. I grew up drinking falooda, and was personally excited to try this stand, and I was not disappointed. Falooda is a healthy alternative to ice cream; it is a refreshing drink full of superfoods, rose water, and basil seeds the tastes and textures will leave you wanting to try more flavors. And, if you love hosting guests and are looking for some inspiration stop by Salt & Sundry to find small-batch foods and craft cocktail ingredients. 

 EX

EX

 

Monument Walk at Sunset/Nighttime - There is something so special about walking through monuments during or after sunset. The crowds are light, the atmosphere is serene, and there is a sense of reverence in the air. Depending on the time of night, take a taxi to the Jefferson Memorial. Take time to sit on the steps of the monument and watch planes fly by. From the Jefferson Memorial, walk to the FDR and MLK Memorials. Cross the street toward the WWII Memorial to see a beautiful view of the Washington and Lincoln Memorials. If you have time, walk beside the reflecting pool to the Lincoln Memorial. Bring your camera; you will want to preserve these precious memories. 

 THE WORLD WAR II MEMORIAL 

THE WORLD WAR II MEMORIAL 

 

The Kennedy Center- You don't have to buy tickets to a show just to visit The Kennedy Center. Tours of the center are offered, free concerts take place every night at the Millennium Stage, or dine in one of the two restaurants that overlook the Potomac River. The outdoor area boasts shimmering views of the Georgetown Harbor. 

 VIEW OF THE POTOMAC RIVER FROM THE KENNEDY CENTER

VIEW OF THE POTOMAC RIVER FROM THE KENNEDY CENTER

 

U Street Corridor (Includes 14th St)- This neighborhood is full of restaurants, bars, clubs, and yoga studios. Some of my favorite selections include Barcelona, Le Diplomate, Compass RoseCork Wine Bar, Pearl Dive Oyster Bar, Lost Society, and Yoga District (I had to include at least one yoga studio), but there are so many options to choose from. If you are a music lover, the Lincoln Theater and 9:30 Club are historic venues where you can listen to legendary classics as well as budding artists. 

 THE U STREET CORRIDOR 

THE U STREET CORRIDOR 

 

Chinatown- This part of the city is well known for Asian cuisine and entertainment via the Verizon Center. I have discovered a few favorites that are worth tasting: Reren Lamen and Bar for fresh noodles and organic ingredients, and Graffiato by Mike Isabella for artisanal pizzas and Italian inspired small plates. If you are in the mood to for a little retail therapy, City Center is where you need to be. 

 THE OFFICIAL ENTRANCE TO CHINATOWN

THE OFFICIAL ENTRANCE TO CHINATOWN

Time Travel: (Re) Exploring Washington DC

Time Travel: (Re) Exploring Washington DC

I have had the privilege growing up in many places around the world. At the age of 16, I moved from Santa Barbara, CA to Washington DC. Since my family moved in June, I had no friends to spend the hot summer days with. But, my friendless summer turned into one of the most thrilling memories to date. As a solo traveler in my new hometown, I used the Metro to take me throughout the District. My prerogative was to learn all about America's Capital. 

Fast forward 15+ years later, I'm living in the city for a few months. My perspective is still through the lens of a tourist who calls Washington DC one of my many homes, but it's now mixed with memories of what was, along with what currently is. 

I will take you down memory lane to five areas in Washington DC that will always remain close to my heart, and in no particular order. 

Georgetown: I used to love Georgetown for the immense amount of shopping, restaurants, and beautiful waterfront property, and I still do. If you appreciate shopping like I do, walk along M Street and up through Wisconsin Avenue. Men, you must visit Suit Supply if you are looking for sharp business and casual clothing. Women, Intermix is a hip and trendy boutique shop that I always check out when I'm in the area. Walk to the waterfront to see boats sail along the Potomac River and to watch planes taking off or land into National Airport. If you are in the mood to spend the day near the waterfront, consider buying food for a picnic from Dean and Deluca. I also recommend the kabobs from Moby Dick

 WATCHING THE PLANES ABOVE THE BOATS IN GEORGETOWN

WATCHING THE PLANES ABOVE THE BOATS IN GEORGETOWN

Smithsonian Museums: I am HUGE nerd when it comes to soaking up anything educational. I have always been fascinated by the intricacies of this world, and I take my sweet time walking through the art galleries and history museums. I recently went back to the Natural History Museum to see the dinosaurs, elephants, and to learn about the underwater sea animals. Seeing an Anglerfish, especially blew my mind. I walked through the Sculpture Garden on my way to the National Mall to see the displays from the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. I sat on the grass, absorbed the rays of sunshine, and spent some time reflecting and appreciating all this country has to offer. I plan to visit the National Archives this summer, and cannot wait to see original documents on display such as the Declaration of Independence. Lines for the Archives can be long, so plan to spend some time in line, or pay $1.50 for a timed visit. Visits to all Smithsonian Museums and the Archives are free if you do not pay for a timed visit.

 THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES OF AMERICA 

THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES OF AMERICA 

Dupont Circle: My first international development internship was in Dupont Circle. I always loved the energy of this area; there was never a dull moment walking to and from work. I still stop and shop at some of my favorites: Kramerbooks & Afterwards Cafe for intellectual inspiration and a good book, Teaism for the most amazing masala chai and french toast, and Urbana for a delectable bite to eat.  

 ONE OF MY ALL TIME FAVORITE BOOKSTORES 

ONE OF MY ALL TIME FAVORITE BOOKSTORES 

 

Adams Morgan: It's true. This area is popular among the undergrad crowd, but Adams Morgan still appeals to 30-50 somethings. Bars and late night eateries like Madams Organ, Jumbo Slice and Amsterdam Falafel are foundational establishments, but the ultra laid back coffeehouse Tryst will always be my favorite place to work. The Diner offers the most amazing comfort food in a retro-modern setting, and the DC Yoga Studio takes me to a place of serenity and perspective. It is also the first place I was finally able to do a handstand, which represents years of patience, practice, and pure excitement. 

 ...AND ONE OF MY ALL TIME FAVORITE COFFEEHOUSES 

...AND ONE OF MY ALL TIME FAVORITE COFFEEHOUSES 

 

Union Station: I used to commute to the Union Station Metro for my first internship on Capitol Hill. The architecture of Union Station always impressed me, and the eatery on the basement floor was to die for when I loved eating fast food. I use Amtrak quite a bit now, and I recognize and appreciate the ease and versatility of Union Station more than I ever have before. It is a hub for various modes of transportation, city tours, food, and shopping, AND it's clean.  

 HUSTLE AND BUSTLE WITH CULTURE AT UNION STATION

HUSTLE AND BUSTLE WITH CULTURE AT UNION STATION

Washington DC will always be one of the many places I call home. I encourage you to not only visit DC, but to view your hometown from a visitor's perspective. You will appreciate your town even more than you anticipated.

Do you have stories you would like to share about your hometown? Email me at sophia@papilia.co - I would love to hear them! 

 

Explore The Charm Of Valladolid

Explore The Charm Of Valladolid

Valladolid is a charming town in the Yucatan Peninsula. Many people stop by en route to/from Chichen Itza, but it is worth spending a full day here if you have the time. The colorful architecture, colonial churches, and ample amount of ice cream will keep you curious and satisfied all day long. 

 

Weather: The weather in the Yucatan Peninsula varies from warm to hot year round, but there are two noticeable wet and dry seasons. The wet season, (also known as the hurricane season) typically starts in June and ends in October. The dry season begins in November and lasts through May. An optimal time to travel is in May after Spring Break and before June. Prices tend to be a little lower, the volume of visitors have decreased, and the weather is still great. If you plan to book your trip in the summer months be sure to check the weather patterns. Valladolid generally tends to be hotter because it is inland. 

Basic Style Etiquette for Men and Women: Casual. Men and women should pack clothing that is light and breathable; leave your jeans at home. For women: when you are touring around, it is acceptable to wear a bathing suit with a tank top, shorts, and sneakers. Men can wear similar attire when touring; bathing suit, shirt, and sneakers. If you plan on spending the night, dinner attire is also casual.  Even though Valladolid is inland, respectable bathing suits underneath attire can be worn if you plan on going to a cenote (underground sink hole ideal for swimming and exploring). 

Culture: Valladolid has a small town friendly feel to it; they are very welcoming to visitors. Please be respectful of the town to maintain the charm. The staff at the visitors center (located across the main park) are also available to answer any questions you have, and signs are bi-lingual. 

Shopping: If you love chocolate, you are in the right place. Chocolate Artesenal Maya Chocol Haa is a museum, cafe, and store. Learn about the importance of chocolate, taste the 10 different varieties, and buy your favorite flavor. You can find this gem on Calzada de los Frailes, a beautiful road mixed with Mexican stores and restaurants.   

 VIEW CHOCOLATE MAKING IN THE PROCESS IN VALLADOLID (PHOTO COURTESY OF TRIP ADVISOR)

VIEW CHOCOLATE MAKING IN THE PROCESS IN VALLADOLID (PHOTO COURTESY OF TRIP ADVISOR)

 

Some Suggested Activities In Valladolid:

Calzada de los Frailes: Walk around this colorful street, search for your perfect souvenir, and try local delicacies such as Lomitos de Valladolid, a pork dish in fresh tomato sauce. 

 CALZADA DE LOS FRAILES

CALZADA DE LOS FRAILES

 

Francisco Canton Rosado: Take a walk around the central park, eat ice cream, and people watch. It's one of my favorite things to do, and you can learn so much culture through observation. You will hear laughter, see lovers, and watch entrepreneurs making the most out of a hot day. 

 FRANCISCO CANTON ROSADO 

FRANCISCO CANTON ROSADO 

 

Traditional Agave Distillery: Take a tour of the blue agave distillery, walk through the fields, and learn about the traditional step by step process to obtain the agave liquid. This tradition has lasted for over 400 years; and will add special insight about customs and culture of the Maya. At the end of the tour, you will have the opportunity to take some tequila home with you! 

 BLUE AGAVE - MAYAPAN - TRADITIONAL AGAVE DISTILLERY (PHOTO COURTESY OF PEANUTSORPRETZELS.COM)

BLUE AGAVE - MAYAPAN - TRADITIONAL AGAVE DISTILLERY (PHOTO COURTESY OF PEANUTSORPRETZELS.COM)

 

If You Are A Foodie: Enjoy fresh Mexican food atop the Cenote Zaci. Savor fresh salsa, tortillas, nachos, plantains, and other Mexican specialities. A bonus: if you have lunch here, you will get free admission to the cenote. 

 HAND MADE TORTILLAS AT THE CENOTE ZACI RESTAURANT (PHOTO COURTESY OF LAND OF THE HAW BLOG)

HAND MADE TORTILLAS AT THE CENOTE ZACI RESTAURANT (PHOTO COURTESY OF LAND OF THE HAW BLOG)

 

Safety Tip: Carry water, biodegradable sunblock, a snack, and an umbrella and/or a hat when you are touring. You do not want to get dehydrated or sunburnt on your trip, do you? 

 

Take A Road Trip To Chichen Itza

Take A Road Trip To Chichen Itza

Chichen Itza, one of the new seven wonders of the world is truly a wonder to be witnessed by the naked eye. The amount of science and math involved when these structures were built will leave you in awe and wonder. Even though you cannot enter or climb the Mayan Ruins, you will be able to learn why an observatory was constructed, how ancient games were played while standing in the playing field, and understand why your claps generate sounds from the top of El Castillo.

The best way to enjoy Chichen Itza is to take your time. We rented a car so we could manage our own time, and we also decided to get a local tour guide to talk/walk us through the experience. These two factors immensely maximized our trip experience, and are highly recommended. 

 

Weather: The weather in the Yucatan Peninsula varies from warm to hot year round, but there are two noticeable wet and dry seasons. The wet season, (also known as the hurricane season) typically starts in June and ends in October. The dry season begins in November and lasts through May. An optimal time to travel is in May after Spring Break and before June. Prices tend to be a little lower, the volume of visitors have decreased, and the weather is still great. If you plan to book your trip in the summer months be sure to check the weather patterns. 

Basic Style Etiquette for Men and Women: Casual and sophisticated. Men and women should pack clothing that is light and breathable; leave your jeans at home. For women: when you are touring around, it is acceptable to wear a bathing suit with a tank top, shorts, and sneakers. Men can wear similar attire when touring; bathing suit, shirt, and sneakers. If you plan on spending the night in Chichen Itza or dinner attire is smart casual.   

 

Culture: Many of the tour guides and vendors are from the surrounding towns. They are very much connected to the local culture and history. Ask your tour guide questions. I was particularly interested about the construction of the city itself and how the townspeople uphold traditions of their ancestors through the modern day. 

Shopping: If you are looking for a variety of handmade goods, be sure to make time to check out what the vendors have to offer. Be ready to bargain; you will have multiple vendors selling the same product. Inspect the quality of the product, and make sure it resonates with your style. Personally, I wished I would have picked up hand painted bowls, and slightly regret not doing so. 

 HAND PAINTED BOWLS AND CRAFTS IN CHICHEN ITZA

HAND PAINTED BOWLS AND CRAFTS IN CHICHEN ITZA

 

Some Suggested Activities In Chichen Itza:

Clap In Front of the Mayan Temple of Kukulcan (the feathered serpent god): The sound of your clapping generates sacred sounds of the quetzal bird. As we said before, it is all about science and math. The number of steps, sides, and dimensions were designed to create this sound. The spring and autumn equinoxes are also a great time to visit. It has been said that Kukulcan returns to earth to provide blessings before entering the sacred water on his way to the underworld, expressed in this picture below. You can see a serpent crawling down the temple; a little creepy yet fascinating.

 THE MAYAN EQUINOX IN CHICHEN ITZA (PHOTO COURTESY OF WIKIDPEDIA.ORG)

THE MAYAN EQUINOX IN CHICHEN ITZA (PHOTO COURTESY OF WIKIDPEDIA.ORG)

 VIEWING EL CASTILLO / TEMPLE OF KUKULCAN FROM AFAR 

VIEWING EL CASTILLO / TEMPLE OF KUKULCAN FROM AFAR 

 

The Observatory: El Caracol is named after its interior spiral shaped staircase, is a Mayan ruin built to observe a 360 view of the stars, to track eclipses, and equinoxes. Windows were constructed to follow the movement of Venus in conjunction with the movement of Earth. 

 EL CARACOL IN CHICHEN ITZA

EL CARACOL IN CHICHEN ITZA

 

Juego de Pelota - The games played in this field were no joking matter. The losing team is dishonored by sacrificing the winning team leader in front of all spectators. By killing the winner, they now have the honor to be with the Gods.

 A VIEW OF JUEGO DE PELOTA (PHOTO COURTESY OF WIKIMEDIA.ORG)

A VIEW OF JUEGO DE PELOTA (PHOTO COURTESY OF WIKIMEDIA.ORG)

 CARVINGS DESCRIBE THE OUTCOME OF THE GAME 

CARVINGS DESCRIBE THE OUTCOME OF THE GAME 

If You Are A Foodie: It is a little difficult to find restaurants near Chichen Itza. Surrounding hotels tend to provide a buffet lunch after you have toured the ruins. The Lodge at Chichen Itza was a place we discovered en route after taking the toll road from Riviera Maya. If you are driving, expect to have people from the lodge stop you to offer a packaged deal exclusive of parking, easy access to an entrance, and lunch. The deal was hassle free, and the local food was delicious.    

Safety Tip: Carry water, sunblock, a snack, and an umbrella and/or a hat when you are touring. You do not want to get dehydrated or sunburnt on your trip, do you? 

 

 

 

 

Hot Finds From The Yucatan Peninsula

Hot Finds From The Yucatan Peninsula

Everyone loves to find special mementoes from their trip. The trick is to find pieces that will always hold value and remind you of an unforgettable moment. While traveling in Mexico, I found a few pieces that caught my eye. If you travel to this part of the world keep your eye out for these crafts, or contact me for more information. 

Jellyfish Lamps - These elegant lamps are made out of local gourds, seeds, seashells, handblown glass, and stain glass. Mayan artists undergo four years of training to create these beautiful works of art. The carvings you see in this picture represent a variety of Mayan symbols which represent luck, protection, and love. These lamps are delicate for use indoors and durable enough to withstand rain and humidity in the outdoors.  

 

Hats - We found these suave hats made out of natural palm fiber off of 5th Avenue and 12th Street in Playa Del Carmen. Each hat is carefully weaved and dried in the sun with care. Not only is each hat unique, they smell fresh, and are bendable/portable for your travels.  

 

Custom Made Furniture - On our drive to Coba from Tulum, we saw these meticulously handcrafted chairs made by Miguel Angel Quijano Cassanova on the roadside that we had to stop for. Chairs with this design have started to become popular in modern furniture stores, but we thought these pieces were special because we were able to meet the maker and support his skill set. Miguel also makes tables and cabinets out of high quality wood. Depending on what you purchase, you may have to ship it back home. Pakmail on 12th Street in Playa Del Carmen was an outstanding service. Miguel's contact information is available upon request. 

 

Hand-painted Ceramics - These ceramics are one of a kind because of the varying designs per artist. While they can be found in many places throughout the Peninsula, I recommend finding your favorite one from vendors in Chichen Itza. Not only do you have a variety of colors and sizes to choose from, but you have a lot leverage to bargain your price because of the number of vendors selling local merchandise. 

 

Hand-Carved Wooden Statues - The level of attention and time it takes to make these wooden carvings just amazes me. Many of these crafters use natural dyes from flowers and plants unique to Mexico.  If you decide to purchase one of these pieces be sure to check the quality of the wood; your piece should have some heft to it. 

Fall In Love With Riviera Maya

Fall In Love With Riviera Maya

The Yucatan Peninsula is one of the most beautiful places I have experienced. Located on the Mexico's Caribbean coastline, Riviera Maya is full of life and culture, rich Mayan history, and sparkling blue beaches. It is a place to visit time and time again. 

 

Weather: The weather in Riviera Maya varies from warm to hot year round. November - January are the coolest months; the climate is warm, but the nights tend to get a little cooler. February - May tend to be the optimal months to visit; the water is calm and the climate is highly pleasant. The hottest months are between June - August, however be aware that hurricane season is officially between June - November. The peak season tends to be from November - January, spring break, and Easter weekend. 

Basic Style Etiquette for Men and Women: Casual and sophisticated. Playa del Carmen attracts a more mature crowd than Cancun. Men and women should pack clothing that is light and breathable; be sure to leave your jeans at home. For women: when you are touring around, it is acceptable to wear a bathing suit with a tank top, shorts, and sneakers. Men can wear similar attire when touring; bathing suit, shirt, and sneakers.  People typically dress up for dinner, and transition into their clubbing clothes after midnight.  Be sure to bring your most comfortable sandals for the beach and for walking around. 

 

Culture: The people in Riviera Maya are friendly and approachable. They are very proud of their heritage; it is okay to ask questions, however do not generalize their ethnicity. Many locals are (understandably) very particular about their background, so be respectful.  Our surroundings were full of fresh cuisine, color, and celebration, so enjoy this culture for all its splendor.  

Shopping: You will find a variety of hammocks, hats, clothing, pottery, and jewelry that you will want to take home but find something meaningful that resonates with your style. We found these beautiful lamps from a company called Jellyfish on 5th Avenue. Each lamp is made from local gourds or jicaras and reflect Mayan symbols.   

 WE ABSOLUTELY LOVED THESE HANDMADE LAMPS FROM MEXICO

WE ABSOLUTELY LOVED THESE HANDMADE LAMPS FROM MEXICO

 

Some Suggested Activities:

Tulum: This ancient Mayan city overlooking the Caribbean Sea, is exceptionally unique. Tulum was the first Mayan city discovered by Spanish conquerors in the 16th Century. Visit Tulum to learn about old trading routes, the meaning behind Mayan architecture, and find yourself at the beach after you walk through history. Private tour guides are available when you purchase your entrance ticket. 

  A VIEW OF THE RUINS AND THE BEACH IN TULUM

 A VIEW OF THE RUINS AND THE BEACH IN TULUM

 ONE OF THE MAIN FRESCOS ON EL CASTILLO 

ONE OF THE MAIN FRESCOS ON EL CASTILLO 

 

Coba Ruins: These ruins in the jungle are well worth the 50 minute drive from Tulum. Coba was once a major urban center in the Yucatan Peninsula with complex routes and alliances. You will find well preserved hieroglyphic texts and architecture walking through Coba. Do not miss seeing the views from Nohoch Mul (meaning great knoll), the tallest structure on the Yucatan Peninsula at approximately 138 feet in height. 

 NOHOCH MUL FROM AFAR 

NOHOCH MUL FROM AFAR 

 THE VIEW FROM THE TOP OF NOHOCH MUL

THE VIEW FROM THE TOP OF NOHOCH MUL

 

Cenote: These natural fresh water sinkholes were created naturally over 6,500 years ago. They are perfect for swimming, diving, and exploring. Dos Ojos (meaning two eyes) is a local favorite; it is tucked away in the Mayan jungle, and the caves are approximately 61 km in distance.  Please be sure to bring biodegradable sunscreen to protect the natural ecosystem. 

 DOS OJOS (PHOTO COURTESY OF PARQUEDOSOJOS.COM)

DOS OJOS (PHOTO COURTESY OF PARQUEDOSOJOS.COM)

5th Avenue - Playa Del Carmen: Filled with restaurants, small shops, and name brand stores, 5th Avenue is the most popular street in Playa Del Carmen and less than a minute walk to the beach. The main attractions are between Calle 3 Sur (south 3rd Street) to about 40th Street. The streets are organized by even numbers, so you really are walking about 22 blocks. 

 5th AVENUE - PLAYA DEL CARMEN (PHOTO COURTESY OF TRAVELYOUNGBLOG)

5th AVENUE - PLAYA DEL CARMEN (PHOTO COURTESY OF TRAVELYOUNGBLOG)

 FRESH FRUIT VENDORS NEAR 5TH AVENUE ON THE BEACH

FRESH FRUIT VENDORS NEAR 5TH AVENUE ON THE BEACH

If You Are A Foodie: There are several beach front seafood restaurants that you will love. Fusion is a wonderful little restaurant on the beach. Watch the waves, order some ceviche or fajitas with a refreshing beverage, listen to live music, and life is good! Fusion is located on 6th Street and the Beach in Playa Del Carmen.  

 THE VIEW FROM FUSION 

THE VIEW FROM FUSION 

 SHRIMP FAJITAS 

SHRIMP FAJITAS 

 

Safety Tip: Carry water, sunblock, and an umbrella and/or a hat when you are touring. You do not want to get dehydrated or sunburnt on your trip, do you? 

 

 

 

Uncover The Mysteries of Cuba

Uncover The Mysteries of Cuba

Cuba is a fascinating place not only for its colonial charm and culture, but also for its intricate architecture, its beautiful beaches, and its classic cars

New York City: Inspiration in Diversity

New York City: Inspiration in Diversity

New York City.  The place that I can’t wait to see once more, yet can’t figure out how to stay longer than a few days before being completely worn out.  New York is one of the most culturally diverse cities in the US. I love that I can experience Little Italy for lunch and Chinatown for dinner with just a couple subway stops separating the two.  If you want exceptional food, craft cocktails, or be a part of the latest fashion trend, you can find it in New York City.  Situated between up-and-coming Brooklyn and the laid back Hoboken, NJ waterfront, New York has a wide array of scenery to offer, experiences to enchant, and exquisite cuisines to keep you coming back for more.

 

Weather: My most favorite time to visit NYC is in the Fall.  The climate is perfect for strolling through Central Park, shopping, and exploring the city.  Weather conditions from January - March may not be optimal, but there is a high chance that you will get a great deal on flights and hotels during these months. Regardless of when you decide to take a trip to NYC, there is plenty to enjoy year round.

Basic Style Etiquette for Men and Women: If there is one place in the world where you can wear whatever you want, whenever you want, it is New York City.  Typical style etiquette is trendy-casual with comfy shoes. Pack transitional clothing appropriate for a nice restaurant or bar yet comfortable enough to walk the city blocks.

For Women: My go to is a comfortable pair of ankle boots, leggings and a cute tunic top with a scarf or jacket and a cross body bag.  This will keep you comfortable for walking and shopping but dressed enough to hit a nicer restaurant or bar.

For Men: My husband normally wears a comfortable pair of boots, jeans and a button down.

Culture: It is hard to pin a specific culture on New York City; it really depends on the neighborhood you visit.  Although many areas have a variety of food, activities, and experiences, there are certain neighborhoods within the city that are known for different things. Greenwich Village, is our go-to for a great bar scene normally frequented by professionals in their 20s-30s. SoHo is heaven for shoppers and foodies alike with its unique boutique stores and eateries. If you cannot figure out which neighborhood to tackle, think about what interests you, and let Papilia help you plan for your trip.

 A VIEW OF NYC FROM LIBERTY ISLAND

A VIEW OF NYC FROM LIBERTY ISLAND

Suggested Activities:

Find a Wine Bar: It’s no secret one of my favorite things in the world is wine.  So many varieties, so many different takes on how it should be made, taste, and what to pair it with… I find a great wine bar tells you a lot about a city and gives you a comfy setting to connect with locals and tourists alike.  A few of my favorite wine bars are near Lexington Ave. The Sofia Wine Bar is a great place to take a break from shopping or site seeing.

 THE SOFIA WINE BAR

THE SOFIA WINE BAR

Take a Walk with No Plan:  When we stay in New York City we always try to pick a different neighborhood and explore that area.  With so much packed in every city block, every neighborhood offers so much to see.  I love to walk out of my hotel in the morning and just start walking. From hidden shops and restaurants to great street performers, and beautiful art, take a stroll and get lost a little. 
 

 WALKING AROUND THE CITY NEAR THE ONE WORLD TOWER

WALKING AROUND THE CITY NEAR THE ONE WORLD TOWER

The Eventi Hotel is located an optimal location, blocks away from Penn Station, Madison Square Garden, and the Empire State Building. The concierge staff are more than happy to help answer any questions you have during your stay.

 

 LOBBY OF THE EVENTI HOTEL

LOBBY OF THE EVENTI HOTEL

Professional Sports: Every time we are in the city we hop over to Jersey to catch a New York Jets game. My husband is a huge professional sports fan and New York City doesn’t disappoint with the sporting events that it offers.  The NY Jets and NY Giants are a quick bus ride across the bridge and the NY Rangers and NJ Devilsaren’t far either.  And of course you can’t forget the Brooklyn Nets at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.  New York has no shortage of professional sports teams close by.

 THE METLIFE STADIUM

THE METLIFE STADIUM

If You’re a Foodie: You are certain to find a decadent French Dip sandwich with frites at Bistro Les Amis, an intimate French bistro in SoHo.

Also located in SoHo – The Dominique Ansel Bakery, home of the Cronut (croissant – donut). Everything in this bakery is worth every calorie and will be a reward after all that walking you will do in the city!

 EVERYONE NEEDS A CRONUT!

EVERYONE NEEDS A CRONUT!

Safety Tip: Every city has their ‘iffy’ parts and New York is no different.  If it’s your first time in the city or you’re exploring a new area – don’t walk in parts of the city you don’t know after dark and take a cab or Uber as opposed to the subway.  Other than that, explore away!

Selected information about this destination is provided by Founder/CEO Sophia Hyder; the full narrative is provided by Travel Expert, Catrina Vienrich.  Find her @CatrinaVienrich on Twitter or follow her on Trip Advisor

Why Traveling to Europe in the Winter is Ideal

Why Traveling to Europe in the Winter is Ideal

Last year I set out on a journey to Europe, in the dead of winter. I had a one-way ticket to Berlin and a conviction to backpack for as long as I could on the continent. Having grown up in the American South, it was a real test of my abilities to travel during this time of year. And, I would do it all over again!

I want to share five things I learned and why I think winter is the best time to travel to Europe.

1. Cheap flights equal increased flexibility. I pondered over all of the places within my reach while sitting in the computer center at my Barcelona hostel one day in early January and decided to go to Istanbul within 48 hours. My airline ticket was only $100 roundtrip. I saved over $100 on my airline tickets by simply traveling in the winter.

2. Cheap hostels and hotel prices mean more money to actually enjoy the city. In the months of December and January, we stayed in hostels for as little as 8 euros a night. Compare that to summer rates and we easily saved 30 euros daily.

3. Fewer tourists. You will have far fewer tourists to deal with, even though you are a tourist yourself.. this is nice. You get to experience Europe as the locals do.

4. You'll be there for Christmas festivities. You will be able to enjoy the Christmas markets if you visit in the winter.  Germany alone has over 2,000 markets to choose from.

5. Traditional winter foods. I still reminisce about the many times I enjoyed a mug full of gluhwein, German mulled wine, during my trip last year. Many traditional European dishes, like hot mince pie, borscht, Polish stews, roasted chestnuts, and German Lebkuchen or as we know it gingerbread are only served in the winter.

Experience the Beauty of Paris

Experience the Beauty of Paris

Paris, the city on everyone's lips right now, is the most popular city on the planet with over 47 million visitors each year.