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Spent two weeks on the Amazon River in Brazil, and one of the highlights of the trip was when we would stop for lunch on these little white sand islands, really just sand spits, in the middle of the river. Surrounded by the Amazon river, the jungle running right up to the edges, and enjoying a lunch as clouds passed by overhead was simply amazing.
This is what 7pm in the French Quarter looks like on the night of Fat Tuesday. Actually, this is about 200% less interesting than the reality.
This hike is also one of my top contenders for "Best Day Hike in the World." Zion, tucked in Springdale, Utah, is already such a profoundly striking national park, and the chance to tackle the famed Narrows hike on the Virgin River completes an epic visit. Be sure to check the weather reports for possible flash flooding and make sure that you have a lot of water, snacks for fuel, and layers for when you start to get cold in the slot canyon shadows. I'd encourage you to make reservations for shoe and trekking pole rentals with the Zion Adventure Company. Once you're in their office you're greeted warmly with information, maps, instructional videos, and everything else you need to know before heading in. You'll be hiking on the Colorado Plateau and almost entirely IN the river. The walls are vertical and sheer, and different shades of red and orange in color. Water levels change from season to season but be aware that you're always at least wading in knee- to waist-high water (if not swimming small sections). Due to the water level, Zion Adventure Company may outfit you with pants perfect for this type of experience. For the single-day hike experience in the Narrows, you'll be tackling the up-and-back route from the Temple of Sinawava.
Make sure to watch the sun rise or set over the Arenal Volcano—it's simply magical. As we sat on our deck enjoying the last of the sunset I noticed a faint glow coming from the top of the Arenal Volcano. Initially we were excited as we thought we were about to witness an eruption—which had not occurred in over a year. Instead, we sat transfixed as we watched the full moon rise from the apex of the volcano and it seemed like Arenal was spitting a fireball across the night sky.
New York isn't the most bike-friendly city out there, although there have been some major improvements as of late. Regardless, whenever I travel to other destinations I always try to fit in a bike ride. Nothing quite prepared me for the three hour bike ride through Maui's Haleakala National Park! In actuality, the self-guided bike tour (a driver takes you to the starting point) takes you down a volcano. It's also downhill and extremely scenic. Make sure to pull over if you plan on taking photos of the view. Much of the trail is on a main road and while cars are far and few, you still need to watch out for them when they pull around the winding corners. I booked with Haleakala Bike Company and they were helpful in making sure we were all suited up - backpacks, jackets, helmets and bikes. More on Bohemian Trails.
Getting to Lake Atitlan is no easy feat. After flying into Guat City, it's another 4 hours by bus to Panajachel. Then, if your'e staying on the lake, which I recommend, it's a short (and sometimes rocky) boat ride from there. But upon reaching the docks of La Casa del Mundo in Jaibalito, and seeing the sun reflect on the lake like so, well, it's worth it tenfold.
I hiked up to Bear Lake and in Rocky Mountain National Park last spring, outside Estes Park, Colorado. Shoe rentals are abundant and reasonable in town (I went to Estes Park Mountain Shop), or just post-hole it up into the wilderness in your boots 'n gators.
In 1959, a massive fountain eruption created a huge lava lake in Kilauea Iki on the Big Island of Hawaii. Slowly, over the next three decades, the lake solidified all the way through, but the center of this lake still registers warmer temperatures. The Kilauea Iki Crater Trail is a path that Volcanoes National Park visitors can take across the vast empty crater floor where steam still rises in places. The National Park Service offers a helpful trail guide (linked below) so hikers can learn about the historic explosion and some of the flora and fauna in the area.
Further up this colorful mountain are hieroglyphics preserved and on display. A staircase is available to take visitors straight to the sight.
I went down to Balboa Park today to hear a concert being done by the La Jolla Symphony Chorus (which a friend of mine sings with) - and after the concert, we wandered around on a little photo safari. Here are some of our pics. Enjoy!
A walk across the Brooklyn Bridge is something I like to do on every single visit to the "Big Apple". If I'm staying in Manhattan then I like to walk across to DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass). If I'm staying in Brooklyn then I like to walk over to Manhattan. I thoroughly enjoy the walk across this iconic landmark every time I'm in NYC, but to walk across at dusk and see the sunset over New York City is amazing every time! When you are on the bridge you'll see the locals running and walking. You'll hear 20 different languages from the groups of tourists coming to see the bridge. You'll see Japanese and Korean tourists with their giant SLR cameras (I'm one to talk)! You'll see couples taking self portraits of themselves. Be sure to watch out for bicyclists and stay in the walking lane. And you'll have a great view of Brooklyn to one side and an amazing view of Manhattan on the other side. On the contrary I would not recommend walking across the Manhattan Street Bridge due to the noisy train and a lack of good lighting, but if you want to get off the beaten track then this is also an option for great views of the city and to see the Brooklyn bridge from afar. I would recommend having dinner and drinks in DUMBO. There are some amazing cafes, coffee shops, chocolate boutiques, and restaurants in this hip Brooklyn neighborhood. "Superfine" is my personal favorite restaurant in DUMBO with a rotating menu based on what can be purchased locally and in season.
This is the ceiling of a ceremonial house in a Kwoma village. The Kwoma are a group of people that live in New Guinea. Not much is known about them, but the mystery adds to the sensational effect that these wooden panels have when you are trying to figure out what they could be. These carvings represent supernatural beings that are used to protect homes. Thankfully, you don't have to go all the way to New Guinea to see them up close. They are part of The Metropolitan Museum of Art's permanent collection and can be seen in the Michael C. Rockefeller Wing. Photo by Ruddy Harootian http://www.ruddywashere.com
Standing yards away from the Mendenhall Glacier, these were the thoughts that were going through my head > Initially > "Why, it's so icy blue!" Secondly > "Why, it's just a bunch of snow avalanched and then re-frozen in the valley of mountains. Psshaw." Thirdly > "I must hike to it and chip off some of the snow ice and put it in my highball of Bulleit whiskey because let's be real - who likes it neat unless they're playing an endless game of poker and need something to babysit?" Fourthly > "Holy shit. I'm staring at a glacier. A real, live glacier." Fifthly > "Wait 'till I tell my friends."
There's a magical place in Central Park called the Mall, or, more specifically, the Literary Walk—a wide gravel path lined with huge shade trees that gracefully drape over the walk and the benches that dot both sides. About half way down on the right side is a bench that looks much like the others. That is, until you walk up to it and read the memorial plaque. It's to Jim Henson, creator of many of my childhood loves (most notably: the Muppets). His bench looks no different than the others, the memorial plaque looks no different than the hundreds of others that dot the park. Yet his name means so much to so many people. I noticed this plaque about three years ago for the first time and now I'm immediately drawn to it every time I'm in the park. I've told some people about it, but it still feels like my secret, special spot in Central Park. The Literary Walk is located on the south end of The Mall section of the park. It can be found mid-park from 66th to 72nd Streets.
If you and your friends are looking to eat a little food in the Mission, do a little shopping, and learn a lot about the neighborhood you’re in, both past and present, then take one of Explore San Francisco’s Mission walking tours. These fun, casual walking tours last a couple hours and are led by long-time Mission residents who know their neighborhood better than anyone. If you’re looking for a general tour, take the “Explore the Mission” walking tour; you’ll see everything from the fire hydrant that saved this part of the city during the 1906 earthquake and fire to Mark Zuckerberg’s $10 million home, the Clarion Alley murals to shopping on Valencia Street, and the Dandelion Chocolate factory to the Mexican restaurant that invented the burrito. You’ll get a look at the Mission from the time of the Ohlone Indians to the current dot com boom. Explore the Mission tours are every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday and begin at 11 am. The cost is $69 per person, but reserve online in advance and you’ll get it for $40. Call 405-514-3636 to learn more or visit their website. Photo courtesy of Explore San Francisco.
This spiraling white concrete structure, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, is one of the most iconic buildings in NYC, if not in all of the USA. This is one museum where the building itself is as interesting as the exhibition inside. First check out the façade from the Central Park side of Fifth Ave, and then head inside to examine the rotunda and the famous coiled ramp; it’s more enjoyable (and easier) to take the elevator to the top and walk down.
Montréal's Marché Jean-Talon has been around since the 1930's--one of the largest and oldest farmers' markets still operating in North America. In the city's "Petite Italie" neighborhood, it's the best place on the island to get fresh produce and people-watch. Brush up on your French, and get ready to smile and taste your way through the colorful corridors. On my wife's first trip to Montréal, this was one of her favorite spots. for more information: http://www.marchespublics-mtl.com/English/Jean-Talon/
The CN Tower’s latest attraction, EdgeWalk, takes thrill seekers to new heights. The first of its kind in North America, EdgeWalk is the world’s highest full circle hands-free walk encircling the top of the CN Tower’s main pod, 356 metres, (1168 feet, 116 stories) above the ground. The half-hour experience, which includes re-admission into the CN Tower’s other attractions (Look Out, Glass Floor, Sky Pod Levels, movie, and ride) costs $175. For those of you who want to test your adventurous limits, this is one vertical challenge you won't forget! After seeing the CN Tower from many vantage points in the city, I can honestly say there is no view of the city like this -- or experience for that matter. Just do it! The staff take great care of you and eases you into the "leaning out" process. I can guarantee even if you're scared, it's something you won't stop talking about afterwards!
Included in your admission ticket to the fabulous De Young Museum, is access to the observatory tower. The views of Golden Gate Park, the Pacific and the city around you are more than special (and worth the ticket price). Keep in mind the fact that they close the tower at 4:30 PM, so be sure to plan your visit within the museum around the chance to get up top and back down. A special museum experience made even more spectacular with this view. Soak it up.
This novel walking tour combines a power work-out with sightseeing. You'll climb a steep hill to reach a look-out spot with sweeping views of Vallarta and Banderas Bay, then descend to see Elizabeth Taylor's and Richard Burton's former homes (and the bridge that connected them), a tortilla factory, Cuale gardens, and a chocolate shop. Lots of samples and healthy snacks are included, as are plenty of photo ops. Photo by Melissa Wentarmini/Flickr.
The Upper Falls Trail hike is a great day trip in Yosemite during the quieter months of spring, fall, and early or really late winter (when the heat, crowds, and mosquitoes are gone). The distance is 7.6 miles (12 kilometers) round-trip from the Lower Yosemite Falls trailhead, or 9.4 miles (15 kilometers) if you include Yosemite Point. Your elevation gain will be 2,600 feet (790 meters) to the top of Yosemite Falls and 2,969 feet (890 meters) to Yosemite Point. The trip can take six to eight hours. It's a significant workout and you'll need to have plenty of water and snacks to fuel you on the panoramic hike. This photo was taken in February and the ice and snow at the base of the falls was a special treat. Charge those camera batteries!
I came across this grandmother and her granddaughter on the streets of Old Havana, Cuba last May while I was studying there. In Cuba, families and their neighbours flock to public spaces such as this street corner to converse and socialize. Because of the US embargo, Cuban's have little access to the materialist-based activities Canadian's have access to. Instead, social interaction within the community and family bonding is an lengthy activity of leisure. I love the way this photo captures love and comfort and nourishment in I witnessed in Cuban family life. Also, mangos in Cuba were unbeatable, and this woman shared her mango with us after the photo was taken!
Cafe du Monde is a touristy but necessary stop for anyone who has never been to New Orleans--and for anyone who has. What to order: Cafe au lait and an order of powdered sugar-coated beignets. Don't even think about sharing.
It doesn't take long for a visitor to realize that most of Toronto's activities focus around eating and drinking. A visitor may also notice the stark architecture that competes for space in the sky. Many of Toronto's older buildings aren't showcased like in Vancouver or Quebec City and are hidden in the towering shadows. It was a relief to discover Toronto's Distillery District with the use of my Afar.com app, which also helped me weave myself from my Westin Harbour Castle Hotel to unique Toronto spots highlighted on Afar.com. At the Distillery District within these reclaimed industrial buildings, you'll find vintage shops, many patios serving beer and wine in the sun, and specialty stores featuring chocolate, coffee, housewares and even a leather-shaped rhino that can be used as a stool or makeshift desk. Each building also has the year it was built written on a plaque hung on the exterior and an explanation of what the building's original purpose was. Wander around or go for a distillery tour. Be sure to walk in any door you're unsure of; you'll be pleasantly surprised.
The Seminary Co-Op Bookstore: which came first, the building or the books? This incredible store will only be in the original space until the summer of 2012. At that point, it will be relocating to its new home at 5751 South Woodlawn. I'd encourage you to visit this piece of history before the building and the books part ways. Learn more at: www.semcoop.com
Talk about "slow food!" Everything we picked out for our picnic-style dinner was aged...aged cheeses, aged meats, a bottle of 2008 red. I love knowing that months and years ago, someone in Italy was thoughtfully creating my dinner that I'd eat way down the road, a continent away. (Catch! Delicious entry!)
The Golden Gate Bridge is probably the most photographed site in California, but this vantage point never gets old. Explore the hollowed out fort, learn some history, and marvel at the view from the top floor.
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