Friday, July 22, 2011

Cancun & more!

Matt, handsome as always!...with an enviable tan! (wish I had one) and me (taking the picture..duh!) going towards Isla Mujeres...very nice and relaxing day!
Chichen Itza Mayan Pyramid, one of the 7 Wonders of the World!...yes we were there and It's amazing!!

Cenotes from the Yucatan Peninsula, they are extremely deep, but we (well I) had the courage to actually swim in it!...Matt was more than ready...but me, just the thought that there is no floor underneath for miles! just scares me ...nonetheless...we did it! it was very exhilarating!

Going to Isla Mujeres!

What a view!! I could live like this!

Matt and Me in one of the restaurants of our All Inclusive Hotel!

View from our room

Walking down the steps to get to the Cenote

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


How to access your money without it putting a hole in your wallet?
To many people, this is the last thing on their minds when planning a vacation but you should know that you are in for a big surprise!

I am a huge fan of Capital One credit card, who does not charge any foreign transaction fee, despite the fact that Visa or MasterCard charges them (Capital One) a 1% transaction fee, that most banks, in turn, pass on to their customers.
Capital One literally takes a 1% loss on every purchase you make using their Credit Card! How nice of them, right! ...I'm a fan, for sure!

Bank of America has alliances with certain banks (PNB Paribas in Paris & Barclay's in the UK), and for that, you are not charged for using your debit card to withdraw money from those banks. However, if you find a Barclay's in Spain, for example, you do get charged.

Flyerguide, has a very handy list of banks and their associated fees for international debit transactions.
Just click on the link below, and find your bank.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Ridiculous Renfe!! ...I dare you to try to use it...

As my upcoming trip to Spain & Portugal is slowly but surely approaching, (too slowly if you ask me!) I was finally able to book my means of transportation from Barcelona to Madrid...
Train of course!...its not really cheaper, being that Europe has so many low airfare airlines, which by the way, they tend to be too restrictive for travelers who, like me, are crossing the pond!...they will measure your bag, weigh it several times and if you bought one souvenir too many!...its about 10 euros per kilo! kidding...train please!!
So, Renfe...the Spanish train website that we all love!...OK being sarcastic...there's even a special place in Trip Advisor on how to outsmart and have the purchase go through...
Did it work you ask????
Wait!...let me tell you all that I had to do...
I read all fifty some points from Trip Advisor on purchasing train tickets on Renfe...
I tried to register my Capital One MC with MasterCard Secure Code...a link from Capital One...of course, it directed me to: Verified by Visa!...I'm not kidding!,  this didn't work.
Called Capital One and was on the phone for about 35 minutes after which I realized that we were getting no where and they were of no help, I hung up...Thanks Capital One...btw, why then, do you have a link on your website to register your MC's with MasterCard Secure Code

Decided to go with my debit card instead, although they charge a foreign transaction fee,unlike Capital One, but OK I thought ...what ever it takes...did the Verified by Visa and worked out fine...card registered  ...all OK so far.

Went to, found my train ...5 minutes later, the purchase seems to have gone through...but wait!
the Bank declines the purchase!...I forgot to call them and let them know I was making a purchase on a foreign website!
Call the bank, 45 minutes with countless personnel...countless tries on (full name with middle initial, without middle initial, verified the card #, tried other cards luck!
I must have tried 10 times throughout the tickets!

So, other option is to go with the U.S. based company
found out they sell the same tickets for 2x the amount...because well, they know about and the drama it is for U.S. clients and other's to get the purchase to go through, would be like winning the they can charge what ever...but me, no way, I was not giving up...

Found through Trip Advisor, that people recommend another website
a Spanish website, but way easier than
got back on the phone with my debit card bank's fraud department...seems that there was still a restriction on my card, so they blocked it and stayed on the line until i tried my luck with
(which they charge 9 euros as their broker fee...but still way less than going with

*Another website that people use is which you input your information on the train you are looking into buying tickets for, and they call you back...which they eventually did...but I had already won the lottery, remember! ..with I might use them for my other train ticket from Madrid to Lisbon!...we'll see how it goes!