Travel Archives - foXnoMad

Category: Travel

How Much Does It Cost To Buy Your Own Private Island?

The thought of buying a tropical island is one many of us have dreamed of. Now imagine you asked a bunch of those people to chip in some money and actually buy an island. Well, that’s essentially what Marshall Mayer did with his Let’s Buy An Island project, resulting in the world’s first crowdfunded island.

The goal began to buy an island- any island – and potentially as more people invested, they could afford something nicer than a tiny river island in northern Canada. Let’s Buy An Island reached well beyond its initial goal in 2018 and ended up purchasing Coffee Caye off the coast of Belize. Now, it’s poised to become a micronation, offering citizenship to what’s being called Islandia.

belize island

Marshall was a guest on the foXnoMad Podcast where we talked about how Let’s Buy An Island came to be and what forming a micronation is like. It’s a fun discussion on the logistics of turning a dream into a tangible… in this case, island. You can listen to the episode here or watch it in full in the video above.

I also happened to be headed to Caye Caulker Belize two weeks after our conversation and guess who made it to Islandia? The plans for the island, mainly a vacation rental property that will make your friends jealous, hasn’t been built yet but it was an adventure just getting there. You can watch the entire trip in the video here.

The Best Places To Eat On Caye Caulker, Belize

Caye Caulker (pronounced “key”) is a small island off the coast of Belize known for it’s go slow motto, backpacker appeal, and sea activities. Although the large Ambergris Caye not too far away is known for its larger towns and restaurants, Caye Caulker is surprisingly diverse in local Belizean cuisine with enviable prices.

These are the 6 best places to eat in Caye Caulker, Belize.

1. Chef Juan’s Kitchen

There are local Belizean favorites from all meals of the day starting with fry jacks in the morning, fresh ceviches for lunch, and catch of the day fish at night. Only just a sampling of the excellent food cooked from the small kitchen with large portions, good prices, and a smile from Chef Juan.

2. Wish Willy

wish willy caye caulker

An outdoor barbecue that opens as the sun sets, the backyard atmosphere is laid back and welcoming. The long benches make for a social environment and the food is what happens to be fresh that day. All served in person with beers waiting for you in the cooler near the kitchen. Wish Will is not only a meal but a Caye Caulker experience.

3. Namaste

namaste caye caulker

Hipsters rejoice, Namaste is a breakfast to lunch cafe with lots of fresh fruits, omelettes, coffee, and even a yoga studio upstairs. It’s popular with tourists and gets crowded around 9am but the food is consistently tasty, well prepared, and the open space makes for a relaxing environment.

4. Maggie’s Sunset Kitchen

The lobster, when in season, is Maggie’s most popular dish. Once the grill gets going and the sun starts setting, Maggie’s, a family run restaurant, turns amber orange as the food is set on the table.

5. Errolyn’s House of Fry Jacks

caye caulker errolyn's house of fry jacks

Open at 6am to about 11 in the morning, Errolyn’s serves up Caye Caulker’s traditional breakfast of fry jacks. Dough stuffed with some combination of mashed beans, ham, cheese, and eggs, then fried crispy, Errolyn’s is the best place on the island to try fry jacks.

6. Rainbow Bar And Grill

caye caulker rainbow bar and grill

A bit expensive but a good variety of foods both local and standard American (hamburgers anyone), Rainbow Bar and Grill is open throughout the day with a nice view overlooking the ferry boats coming in from Belize City.

Selection On A Small Island

As tiny as Caye Caulker is, there is a lot of good food to choose from. Street barbecue, sandwiches, vegan and vegetarian dishes to nice seaside restaurants, there’s a little of something for everyone along this 2 kilometer stretch of paradise in the Caribbean.

How To Get To Caye Caulker From Belize City

Caye Caulker is an idyllic island paradise off the coast of Belize City, Belize. It’s only 35 kilometers (~21 miles) away but it can be confusing to find out the best ways to get to Caye Caulker from Belize City. Fortunately, there are multiple options on getting there for various budgets and personal preference.

Water Taxi

There are two water taxi options: Ocean Ferry and San Pedro Belize Express taking off from two small ports in town. To get to either port you can either grab a taxi from the airport (it should cost roughly $25-30USD) but be aware that official taxis have green license plates. Otherwise they look a lot like every other car. Secondly, you can arrange a shuttle in a private car using Viator, which ends up being cheaper (~$16) and more convenient. You just need to book it in advance.

caye caulker beach

  • Ocean Ferry: Takes off every 90 minutes or so throughout the day but as it is with either ferry, if you’re arriving to Belize City after around 5pm, you’ll have to book a hotel in the city and wait for the morning ferries. Ocean Ferry runs large semi-covered speedboats. They’re not the most comfortable but the least expensive of the two ferries and if you like the feeling of wind in your hair, it’s a good choice.
  • San Pedro Belize Express: These are larger, covered boats that run every hour. Belize Express also has multiple boats so it’s less likely they’ll be too full for passengers as they can run a second one if needed.

Both ferries are roughly the same price (about $20 one-way or a discounted $37 for round trip) and take about 45 minutes. You’ll be able to keep your hand luggage and backpacks but larger suitcases are checked-in at the port and stowed away separately.

By Air

Roughly $200 for a one way to Caye Caulker from Belize City, you may prefer taking a flight if your arrival time into Belize doesn’t match with the ferry schedules. Flying is faster and the only additional step is to go from the international to the domestic terminal. As is usually the case, going by air is more expensive than by boat.

Flip It And Reverse It

Going back to Belize City from Caye Caulker, it’s basically the same process in reverse. The ferry docks in Caulker are not far from anything (nothing – not even the airport is far away on this 8km long island) and you can arrange the same car ride back to the airport from the port in Belize City. (It’s easier than getting a taxi there.) Tanned and relaxed one hopes, the departure is the hardest part so some just buy their own islands nearby.

How To Watch Movies And TV Shows With Your Friends And Family Online

Whether you’re traveling half way across the world or simply can’t make it out of the house, you can set up a virtual watch party with your friends to watch your favorite shows together. As more of our lives (and work) have moved online, streaming movies and shows so your group of pals can watch together remotely doesn’t have a one-click solution.

Fortunately, setting up Zoom with a few tweaks makes it relatively simple to set up your own, virtual watch party. You can see how in this video or read on for the exact steps.

Streamer And Watchers

Pretty much most of the setup required here is for the streamer, the person who’s actually setting up the watch party. We’ll get to everyone else (the watchers) in a bit. First, you the streamer, will need to download Zoom and create an account. The web-only interface won’t cut it. Once you’ve installed Zoom, open up your web browser to the streaming service of your choice (e.g. Netflix, Paramount+, etc.), and queue up your movie or TV show.

In Zoom click:

  • Under New Meeting click the down-facing arrow > find your personal ID number (it will look like 123 456 7890) > click Copy Invitation
  • Next click New Meeting > then click Join with computer audio

zoom copy invitation

You should see a screen that looks like this:

zoom share screen

Text your friends directly or using some VoIP service like Facetime, Signal, or Whatsapp the meeting invitation your copied moments ago. They’ll then need to click the link in the invite, you’ll get a notification in Zoom to admit them, and now they’ll just hold on. At this point, I would suggest setting up a group call with your friends that are watching.

Now you’re ready to share your screen but there are two additional settings which are important not to neglect.

  • At the bottom of the Zoom window, click > Share Screen
  • In the window that opens, make sure Share sound [with Stereo (High-fidelity)] is checked. You can switch from “Mono” to “Stereo” by clicking the down-facing arrow next to Share sound. Then, be sure Optimize for video clip is checked.
  • At this point you can choose to share your entire screen or just the window with the web browser that has your TV show on it.

zoom share screen optimize for video clip

And that’s pretty much it. On the separate phone group call you have with your friends, make sure they can see and hear your stream and if so, you’re good to go. Everyone should mute their phones (otherwise you’ll hear their TVs and visa-versa, which might not be exactly in sync) and you can un-mute when you have something to say, then mute again.

It’s not the most straightforward setup but it’s simple enough once you’ve got through it the first time. You, as the streamer, will need decent bandwidth to ensure a smooth viewing experience but you should be able to get away with 10-15Gbps download and 3-5Gbps upload speeds at the very minimum. Keep in mind if you’re traveling internationally, you may need to use this trick to get around regional restrictions.

 

How To Pronounce Kyiv And Why It’s Not Spelled Kiev

Ukraine has been on the news a lot recently due to the war with Russia and you may have heard its capital, Kyiv and other cities, being pronounced multiple ways. Due to all of that variation from “keev” to “keyee” from journalists, it can be confusing to know how to properly say these places. To help answer those questions as well as the history behind the names of Ukrainian cities and spellings, Irena Chalupa recently joined me on an episode of the foXnoMad Podcast. Irena is a journalist specializing in broadcast from northeastern Poland who spent 23 years working for Radio Free Europe in Germany, Ukraine, and the Czech Republic as the director of the Ukrainian Service. She has also worked for the Atlantic Council think tank and was a Fulbright Scholar in Ukraine during 2016-2017. She is currently an editor at StopFake.

You can watch a clip from our discussion in the video above or listen to the full podcast here.

Airbnb Alternative With Growing Pains: Blueground Review

The Blueground is an alternative to sites like Airbnb and VRBO with a focus on longer term rentals of at least a month long and furnished with a premium aesthetic consistent across their global apartments. If you’re a traveling professional, digital nomad, or tend to have extended stays in one of 18 major cities around the world, then the Blueground has a lot to offer. It basically gets right a lot of what Airbnb gets wrong but unfortunately the Blueground has a lot to learn about what Airbnb and sites like it get right. You can watch my full review in the video above or read on.

Booking And Cost

The way Blueground works is it rents out apartments in 18 cities like Washington DC, Madrid, Istanbul, and Dubai. Their design team then furnishes all of those apartments with similar shelves, beds, televisions, and aesthetic touches. The benefit of that consistency means you know the style you’re going to to get inside the apartment. A modern, minimalist, metallic, white and black look. And it’s a look that’s welcoming and really easy to settle into. The floors and furniture are all nearly new – and the apartments are all professionally cleaned before you show up.

Searching for an apartment is fairly standard although Blueground isn’t entirely upfront about their pricing. You’re shown the lowest prices – no matter the duration or dates the apartment is available – unlike hotel booking sites or Airbnb. You can adjust the dates for a more accurate listing of available apartments but nearly always the difference between a 1 and 6 or 12 month rental is significant. Listings also don’t immediately show you the final price, which can be 30% or more expensive due to utilities, fees, and other insurance.

blueground

The Blueground is a premium service so the higher rates are expected but having to wait several clicks to get the final price is a bit disappointing. Ultimately it makes budgeting more difficult.

The Actual Apartments

Once you do book a place though, the furnishing and top notch. The furniture from the couch to the granite tables, and minimalist lamps are all new or in very, very good shape. You’ll have at least one large screen TV with complimentary YouTube TV giving you more than 85 channels to stream from. The silverware and pots and pans are high quality and the kitchens are fully stocked. The refrigerator, coffeemaker, microwave, and other appliances are updated and you definitely don’t feel like Blueground have skimped on interior furnishing. It’s a premium service that does deliver on a premium feel.

blueground

Bed sheets and blankets are really soft, I’m not sure what the thread count is but it feels like linens you’d find at a high end hotel. When you move in, Blueground also have some fancy shampoo, conditioner, and lotions waiting for you as well as soft towels a hair dryer, and ironing board.

The Internet connections too are lightning fast.

What’s Lacking

The Blueground does a very good job of the premium experience. The apartments are very nice, the customer service is responsive, and their app lets you manage your bookings and find out useful information like where to put out the trash and wifi password. On the flip side the site search listings don’t show final prices and there are no reviews of apartments available either. Lacking community feedback can be disconcerting, especially since changing apartments carries a $1,500 fee.

Blueground do fill a niche for the growing digital nomad, remote working population looking for consistency in high end temporary accommodations. Still, they have a lot to learn from their established competitors Airbnb and VRBO, starting with transparency.

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About Anil Polat

foxnomad aboutHi, I'm Anil. foXnoMad is where I combine travel and tech to help you travel smarter. I'm on a journey to every country in the world and you're invited to join the adventure! Read More

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