close

Photo Essay

Our journey through Mexico in pictures

chichen-itza-dani-jump-mexico

Mexico was  only the second country of our trip, but we (unexpectedly) fell in love with the country and extended our stay there again and again – in the end we spent 88 days there, and traveled more than 3600 kilometers (2370 miles) through the country.

Reminiscing (yes, again), we looked through our thousands of photos of Mexico and decided to take you on a photographic tour of our journey through this fabulous country:

Upon arrival in Mexico City, we were welcomed by Mariachi bands & folklore groups…

We discovered some great street art…

… and enjoyed the fantastic views from the Torre Latinoamericano.

In Xochimilco we enjoyed a ride in one of the famous trajinera boats…

… and in Coyoacan, we not only enjoyed the bohemian flair and the market, we also visited Frida Kahlo’s Casa Azul.

photos of Mexico

The archeological site of the Aztec town of Teotihuacan was a Must on our list.

photos of Mexico

Soon after we headed to Puebla where  we were we discovered a town that had, until 2003, manufactured the famous VW Beetles…

… and we admired the many tiled houses throughout the city.

photos of Mexico

We got to Oaxaca in time for its famous Guelaguetza festivities in July…

photos of Mexico

… and spent a  great couple of weeks in this beautiful colonial town, not leaving without having visited the glorious Maya ruins of Monte Alban.

photos of Mexico

Our next stop was the sleepy beach village of Mazunte on Oaxaca’s Pacific coast, where we were met with a subtropical climate for the first time on our journey.

After a couple of relaxing days we moved on to neighboring Zipolite, before leaving the coast for our next colonial town: San Cristobal de las Casas.

Mexico photos

In San Cristobal we came across more fantastic street art…

Mexico photos

… and the large presence of Chiapas’ indigenous Maya people was noticeable throughout the entire town.

photos of Mexico

We visited the Mayan villages of Zinacantan and Chamula, where we were shown how the Mayan women weave their clothes and make their tortillas.

We visited Sumidero Canyon where we saw the breathtaking Christmas tree waterfall and dozens of crocodiles…

photos of Mexico

On our way to Merida we stopped at the beautiful waterfalls Agua Azul and Misol Ha:

… and one of our favourite Maya ruins: Palenque, tucked deep into the jungle.

photos of Mexico

In Merida we arrived in time for some heavy rains and floodings…

photos of Mexico

… but the August heat came back quickly and we enjoyed the town’s magnificent churches before…

photos of Mexico

… heading to Cazuma, where we explored our first of the many cenotes (underwater sinkholes) on the Yucatan peninsula.

Our next stop was Valladolid, which turned out to be our favorite town in all of Mexico:

We were intrigued by its friendly people…

Mexico photos

… and the mysterious hold that its charming architecture has over us…

Mexico photos

Chichen Itza was another impressive Maya ruin we visited…

Mexico photos

… and the Cenotes Xkeken and Samula are only a short bike ride from Valladolid.

Mexico photos

We settled for four weeks in Playa del Carmen, just up from the hoards of tourists where we had the beach practically to ourselves…

photos of Mexico

We did not leave Mexico before a visit to Isla Mujeres, a tiny, gorgeous island off the coast of Cancun, which had a great Caribbean feeling to it…

… although the cliffs on the southern end of the island reminded us more of Scotland and Ireland…

… and finally a stop in Tulum, maybe not the most amazing Mayan ruins, but definitely the ones in the most stunning setting, right by the turquoise Caribbean sea.Mexico photos

Our very last stop in Mexico was Chetumal on the border to Belize, where we took off in a speedboat to our next destination: Ambergris Caye, Belize.

read more

Thaipusam in Penang: Incredible Images of a painful Hindu tradition

Thaipusam 2012 in Penang Malaysia

What is going on here?! The Thaipusam festival

Thaipusam is a Hindu festival celebrated each year on the full moon in either January or February each year by the Tamil community. Originating from the Tamil Nadu region of India and Northern Sri Lanka, the Thaipusam celebrations also take place in Malaysia and Singapore, where there are also large representations of the Tamil community.

The name ThaiPusam comes from the Tamil month ‘Thai’, during which the celebrations take place, and ‘pusam’, the name of the star at its highest point during the festival.

thaipusam 2012 in penang malaysia

A procession of coconuts and spears

The festival commemorates the victory of the Hindu god Lord Murugan over the demon Tarakusaran with a ‘vel’, or spear, and thus ridding them of evil.

Although the festival is celebrated over two days, devotees begin a period of fasting and prayer a full 48 hours before Thaipusam. Here in Malaysia, the biggest Thaipusam festivities take place at the Batu Caves near Kuala Lumpur, where over one million devotees join the 13-kilometer long procession from Central KL to the Caves.

thaipusam man with spears through mouthLucky for us, Penang has the second-biggest festivities of the country, with over 200,000 people flocking to the island for it – us included! Here in Penang, the procession starts at a temple in Georgetown’s Little India neighborhood and makes its way over several kilometers to Nattukkottai Chettiar Temple on top of a hill outside of town.

thaipusam 2012 family with hooksOn the first day of Thaipusam, a statue of Lord Murugan is carried to the temple and devotees smash coconuts as an offering to the deity.

On the second day, devotees shave their heads and make their pilgrimage to the temple while performing acts of devotion. This often includes ‘kavadi’-bearers (kavadi meaning burden) who carry their burden – ranging from a simple milk pot to the more extreme mortification of flesh.

thaipusam 2012 penang shaving head

Why go through all of this pain?

This self-mutilation is done with a spear, resembling the vel’ Murugan used to vanquish the evil demon Tarakusaran. Many devotees only pierce their tongue for this occasion, but it is hard not to notice the hundreds, even thousands, who pierce their cheeks with vels, or undergo even more extreme pain to thank Murugan.

thaipusam 2012 devotee with spear & hooksThe more pain endured by the devotee, the greater the merits bestowed upon them by the god of war Murugan.

thaipusam 2012 walking on nailsThe pierced tongue also prevents the devotees from speaking, which is another sign of atonement.

devotee with tongue piercing at thaipusamThe hooks in the back are another form of burden that a kavadi-bearer can endure, and some of the devotees do not only have hooks in their backs, but also pull another devotee behind them by those hooks.

thaipusam 2012 hooks of devoteesAnother burden is the decorated canopy which is carried to the temples on the shoulders of the devotee. Some of the kavadi-bearers only carry the canopy, while others have additional piercings and hooks.

thaipusam 2012 with canopy & spearsWhile many of the devotees are Indians, there are also a surprising number of Chinese kavadi-bearers in the procession.

thaipusam 2012 penang chinese devoteesEven if only one person in the family is a kavadi-bearer, the entire family dresses up in their traditional saris and supports their family member in their act of devotion for Lord Muruga.

thaipusam 2012 hindu familiesSinging, dancing, drums, and loud music are also a big part of the celebrations.

Thaipusam in Malaysia: Watch the Video

Before devotees make their way up to the temple on top of the hill, they have to take their shoes off. With more than 200,000 people, there are hundreds of shoes waiting for their owners to return…

thaipusam penang shoes of devoteesCow milk and the silver jars in which the milk is kept and transported up on top of the hill can be purchased at the many stands around the temple.

milk & jarsAnd of course there is plenty of delicious Indian food – and sweets!

indian sweetsAt the end of the second day, the chariot is brought back to Little India in a procession back into town from Nattukkottai Chettiar Temple, and arrvies there just before dawn on the following day.

penang hindu templeDon’t try this at home!

You might notice a distinct lack of blood here in these images, considering the amount of flesh just recently pierced. Some say this is due to the fasting, or an all-vegetarian diet, and both most likely play a role, as it is due in part to low blood pressure which results from the fasting. The devotees also do not suffer from scars when the piercings are removed, thanks to a special healing mixture of powders and creams tested over the centuries. Each year, at least a few inexperienced foreigners attempt to take full part in the festivities, and wind up getting fairly hurt. So while this is a once-in-a-lifetime festival to visit – we say leave your ‘vels’ at home!

thaipusam 2012 penang devotees with hooks & spears

You can see more photos of Thaipusam in Penang in our photo album on Facebook.

.

read more

Help lift a broken spirit at the Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai

elephants

Christmas is coming up with lightning speed, so this Sunday we wanted to take the time to talk about our experience at the Elephant Nature Park in Thailand. We have written about it a bit in several posts, but we never dedicated a full article on this unforgettable experience which both filled us with joy and broke our hearts at the same time. Read on to find out why. If you are inspired by what you read, you could consider supporting Lek and her elephants this holiday season by sponsoring an elephant or by visiting the Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai.

 

elephants at elephant nature park chiang maiInstinctively we understood that we would never want to participate in elephant tourism, but for many tourists who visit Thailand or South East Asia this is one of the main activities on their itinerary. We believe that they do this because it seems magical, harking back to an imaginary time where more primitive people peacefully co-existed with the amazing animals who served as friends, laborers and transportation.

What people who ride elephants do not realize is that in order to get these strong-willed, independent creatures to be docile enough to be ridden requires a level of torture and mistreatment that would break their hearts if they knew more about it.

elephant nature park In order for tourists to ride elephants, or watch them paint or stand on their back legs, or even to turn them into loggers carrying tons of wood for miles and miles, elephants must first have their spirit broken.

Breaking an elephant’s spirit means stealing it from their mothers as babies, and squeezing them into a tiny cage where they barely fit. They are then starved, deprived of sleep and beaten with bull hooks and sticks with nails for days and weeks on end until they finally give in and become submissive to humans. After all, these gargantuan animals can crush us in one swift move, so it takes quite a bit of torture to convince them to submit to the tiny humans around them. They then spend their lives being beaten with bamboo sticks with sharp nails on the end and burning it with electric prods to keep them mentally submissive enough to do those tricks or haul that lumber.

You can read more about why you shouldn’t ride an elephant in South East Asia or watch a video showing this horrible torture here, but be warned, this is seriously heavy and heartbreaking and definitely NOT for the faint of heart. It is so awful, Jess started to cry and turned it off in seconds.

elephant eyeEverywhere you see the opportunity to ride an elephant, or see them in the circus, this terribile act of spirit-breaking has gone on. Elephants are made to carry people on their back all day long and suffer spinal injuries, and the wooden chairs that are attached on some of them are even worse, causing blisters and skin infections that can never heal because they carry people day after day after day.

elephant trunkSadly, elephant tourism is a major source of income in Thailand, and there are still more than enough people who are willing to pay for these things without  thinking about it.

Elephant Nature Park Chiang MaiLuckily, there is a way to experience these incredible animals without causing them any harm by visiting them in an elephant sanctuary. Last year, we had heard about the Elephant Nature Park north of Chiang Mai, an elephant sanctuary that is home to over 30 rescued elephants that had been terribly mistreated by their former owners. The Elephant Nature Park is one of the very few parks in Thailand where elephants have actually been saved from exploitation instead of being exploited.

Elephant Nature Park Chiang MaiThe tiny Thai founder of the park, Sangduen “Lek” Chailert, has put all of her heart and soul into creating a space where elephants that were previously mistreated or almost worked to death can live the rest of their lives in a peaceful environment. Here we saw elephants in all stages of recovery from the mental and physical stress they had undergone for decades. Remember, an elephant never forgets, and without the luxury of psychotherapy, it takes a very, very long time for the elephants to recover.

shannon & ana washing the elephantHowever, the elephants at the nature park seem incredibly happy in comparison to what they had gone through, and are comfortable around visitors who come to help feed them and bathe them. They even give you kisses with their giant trunks. You can spend time with the elephants on a day visit or, if you have the time, you can volunteer for a week or longer.

elephant baby bathingThe spacious grounds made up of meadows and fields allow the elephants to roam freely in their natural, but protected, habitat. There are various viewing platforms for visitors and a large terrace to get up close and personal to feed them or just observe them from afar.

Elephant Nature Park Chiang MaiThe elephants eat A LOT (up to 200 kilos per day) so you have plenty of opportunity to set entire bunches of bananas or watermelon halves onto their trunks, which they then shovel in to their mouths. After the kissing and the bathing and the feeding, there is also an opportunity to be educated on the dark side of the elephant tourism industry. There is a short film covering Lek’s journey to rescue elephants as well as one instance of an elephant’s spirit being broken caught on film. This part of the experience is optional and not advised for young children or overly sensitive animal lovers.

Elephant Nature Park Chiang Mai
elephant with babies
elephant nature park

Visit the Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai

The Elephant Nature Park has an office in Chiang Mai where you can book your tour. A day at the park is 2,500 THB (US$80) and includes transport from your hotel to the park and back, a generous vegetarian lunch buffet, plenty of time with the elephants and the film. All the money goes directly back into supporting the elephants and Lek’s work against elephant tourism in Thailand and South East Asia. If you don’t plan on visiting Thailand any time soon, you can sponsor an elephant or even buy an elephant lunch – see how you can help an elephant here.

Elephant Nature Park Chiang Mai

 

 

read more

The two faces of Playa del Carmen: A walk up the ‘famous’ Fifth Avenue

5th Avenue non-paved

Anyone who has been to Playa del Carmen knows Fifth Avenue, or ‘Quinta Avenida’ in Spanish. That is, if you ever needed to use your Spanish while you were in Playa.  As we made our way down 5th for the first time, we were shocked at just how Americanized this once sleepy fishing village had become. 5th Ave is Playa’s main street, and has been carefully created for tourists. You can pay in U.S. Dollars everywhere, and the prices at restaurants and in shops lean more toward prices in the U.S. than the rest of Mexico. (Pizza, and there is a lot of Pizza in Playa, can be even more expensive – much to our pizza loving dismay).

We rented an apartment to the far northern end of town, out of this ‘tourist zone’ and we quickly discovered that there are two faces to Playa’s 5th Avenue:

playa del carmen fifth avenue

While the Southern end of 5th Avenue is lined with souvenir shops, Starbucks cafes, fast food chains and fancy restaurants….

playa del carmen fifth avenue

… the Northern end of the street is nothing more than an unpaved dirt road without street lights:

playa del carmen fifth avenue

As soon as the tourist-friendly part of the street ends…

playa del carmen fifth avenue

playa del carmen fifth avenue

… you make your way through car graveyards and…

… the fancy apartment buildings…


playa del carmen fifth avenue

… are replaced by houses that look more like this:

The difference in the appearance of houses inside and outside 5th avenue’s hotel zone is drastic:

playa del carmen fifth avenueTwo different kinds of trash (actual piles of garbage on the left / Senor Frogs on the right).

playa del carmen fifth avenue

No matter where you are on 5th Avenue, one thing is certain: Just to the west is one of the most beautiful white sand beaches in Mexico.

playa del carmen fifth avenue

Have you been to Playa del Carmen’s Fifth Avenue? What are your thoughts on the town’s most famous street?

read more

Icebergs, Waterfalls, Geysers & Lava Fields: Highlights From an Iceland Road Trip

iceland river1

My Iceland road trip feels almost like a distant dream now. But the photos (and video!) show that it really happened – for a week, I road-tripped through one of the most fascinating places I’ve ever visited. If you are not sure if you want to drive the Ring Road when you travel to Iceland – have a look at my photos. I say: Driving the entire Ring Road makes for the perfect introduction to this spectacular country.

drive the ring roadWith its surreal landscapes that often made me feel like I was on a different planet, Iceland blew my mind.drive the ring road Otherworldly, that’s how most people describe Iceland, and to be honest, I don’t think there is a word that fits better than this: otherworldly. The only other place I’ve been to that I described as such were the otherworldly landscapes of Chile’s Atacama Desert, where I also came across volcanoes, a bizarre moonscape, rugged mountains amidst wide open barren lands, geysers and geothermal fields.drive the ring roadIceland is different though. First of all, it is called Iceland for a reason, so there was nothing of that desert heat that I experienced in Chile. And of course there is ice in the Land Of Ice – lots of it. The glaciers, glacier lagoons and snow-capped peaks that we often marveled at were a reminder that the stunning black sand beaches were deserted for a reason: it is too cold to swim in these Arctic waters.jokulsarlon glacier lagoon ice beach icelandBut thanks to its geothermal activity, the country is dotted with hot springs, and the best thing is that many of them are free to use for anyone. You also have hot springs with facilities and restaurants onsite, like the famous Blue Lagoon and the Myvatn Nature Baths (pictured below) in the north of the country.myvatn nature bathsFor seven days, Rease and I drove through Mars-like landscapes, through volcanic plains, often covered in bright green moss, over snow-capped mountains, alongside fjords – passing too many waterfalls to count! Skogafoss waterfallWe drove on narrow, winding mountain roads, sometimes unpaved, so that we could feel the volcanic rocks crunching under the tires of our car.drive the ring road icelandIt wasn’t only the scenery that changed constantly, the weather changed equally as much. We would wake up to a rain storm and two hours later find ourselves taking our jackets off because the sun was shining so bright.iceland sceneryMagical is another word that is often used to describe Iceland, and as we were driving along the winding roads hugging the eastern fjords, passing black sand volcanic beaches to our right and volcanoes to our left, it did feel like a magical fairy-tale land.Ásbyrgi Canyon rockIt wasn’t all too surprising to learn about the Huldufólk, the hidden folk (or simply elves), who play a big role in Icelandic folklore and are believed to live spread out all over the country. Sometimes you will spot little elf houses, basically miniature versions of Iceland’s colorful houses, in fields or on the side of the road – and it seems absolutely possible that little elves and fairies actually live in them.eskifjordur cottages by the fjordI shared more details about our Iceland road trip route and the practicalities of road tripping in Iceland in separate articles (links at the end of this post), but I wanted to start with some of my favorite images and the highlights of our road trip.southern iceland mountainOne of the most spectacular places I visited in Iceland was the Jökulsárlón glacial lake in the south of the island, which is filled with massive chunks of ice that have broken off the glacier, and slowly float out of the lagoon into the open sea.glacier lagoon ice icelandI don’t think there’s anything quite like this anywhere in the world – a beach littered with icebergs of all shapes and sizes, waves crashing against them. iceland road tripThe best thing about driving the Ring Road in Iceland? The journey itself! It’s not just about the stops along the way – the drastically changing scenery never gets boring. drive the ring road icelandSince Iceland is such a compact country, you can find yourself hiking on a glacier, through a lava field, and behind waterfalls – all within a few short hours.
Iceland seljalandsfoss waterfallWe hiked in the majestic Ásbyrgi canyon in northern Iceland, where I wished we had more time to see the canyon from the top – a stunning sight.iceland road tripThe northern part of Iceland was just as scenic as the south with mountains, lakes and volcanoes.
myvatn peninsulaAnd the lunar landscapes are eerily beautiful:iceland road tripSeeing geysers erupt? Definitely something you don’t get to experience a lot! The geyser pictured below erupts every six minutes, and I could’ve stayed for hours watching it erupt again and again. Geyser Eruption IcelandThe Hverir geothermal fields were completely different than the geyser above, with boiling mud pools and some of the most intense orange colors I’ve ever seen in nature. iceland hverir geothermal fieldYou can see more of these enthralling geothermal fields, mounds that are topped with sulfur-coated boulders, high-pressure steam vents that are streaming thick clouds and smelly gas into the sky, bubbling mud pools right in the beginning of my Iceland highlights video above. From there, we headed to Dimmuborgir, which are vast, oddly shaped lava fields. iceland road tripLook at these amazing lava formations!
drive the ring road icelandAnother highlight? Icelandic horses of course! While I’m not into horseback riding, I had to stop several times to pet horses on the side of the road. One of the farm houses we stayed at was actually a horse farm – something this animal lover was more than happy about.  icelandic horsesIceland has an unusually high number of waterfalls, considering how small the country is. This is due to its location – being in the North Atlantic brings a lot of rain, and being so close to the Arctic created many glaciers. iceland gullfoss waterfallThese glaciers melting, plus all the rain water, means not only lots of waterfalls, but also very powerful waterfalls – Dettifoss is in fact the most powerful waterfall in all of Europe. iceland road tripI wish I could include a photo of the northern lights, because the night we saw them was definitely a highlight of the trip, but in my excitement about seeing these unique green lights dancing in the sky I managed to break my tripod while setting it up. I guess that’s another excuse to go back to Iceland!
drive the ring roadIceland being an island means that it is blessed with thousands of miles of dramatic coastline – 3,088 miles (4,970km) to be precise. The black sand beaches (which are volcanic ash, not sand) never failed to impress. drive the ring roadFjallsárlón is a smaller glacier lagoon, not far from Jökulsárlón, but with less tourists! Despite braving a rain storm during our visit, it was one of the most remarkable places we stopped at.
glacier lagoon ice icelandI am finishing this post with another thing that Iceland is really good at: sunsets! On the list for my next visit? Seeing the sunset over the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon. But with lakes, volcanoes, geysers and waterfalls, there’s pretty much an epic sunset guaranteed every night, no matter where in Iceland you are. driving the ring road icelanddrive the ring roadIf you’re planning your own Iceland road trip, check out:

Planning a trip to Iceland on a budget: Things to know before you go

For more of our epic experience driving the Ring Road, read:

drive the ring roadAll images were taken on the Highlights Of Iceland self-driving tour. Icelandic Farm Holidays provides you with a rental car and an itinerary for every day, but you can decide individually how much time to spend in each suggested stop, or add additional ones. Accommodation is provided in a mix of Icelandic farm houses, B&Bs and hotels.

read more

My Favorite Place in Iceland: The Ice Diamonds of Breiðamerkursandur

jokulsarlon iceland diamond beach4

Steaming geysers, thunderous waterfalls, breathtaking canyons and vast lava fields – I saw more stunningly beautiful places in my week in Iceland than in any other country in such a short time. But my favorite place? None of those. My favorite destination was the place that puts the ‘ice’ in Iceland: Jökulsárlón, Iceland’s most famous glacier lagoon, and even more so Iceland’s Diamond Beach, just across the street from the glacier.visit Jökulsárlón

Iceland’s Diamond Beach

When I parked our car in the little car park right on the black sand beach, I understood immediately why it was called Diamond Beach. Like bright diamonds in different shapes and sizes, dozens of chunks of ice litter the beach, giant waves crashing against them, moving the smaller ones around, forcefully repelled by the bigger ones.jokulsarlon glacier lagoon ice beachWalking towards the water, I started seeing more icebergs floating around in the ocean, being tossed around by the waves as if they were merely paper boats and not bulky chunks of ice.diamond beach icelandIt was a spectacular sight, and I don’t think there’s anything like Iceland’s Diamond Beach anywhere else in the world (correct me if I’m wrong!).jokulsarlon glacier lagoon ice beachThe icebergs in the water are chunks of ice that have broken off the glacier and then slowly floated down towards the ocean, through the lagoon and the short river that connects the glacier lagoon with the open sea.diamond beachThe lagoon was formed by the receding Breiðamerkurjökull glacier, of which massive chunks of ice break off regularly. There are dozens of them floating in the lagoon before they slowly glide out into the ocean.jokulsarlon glacier lagoon icelandEven though the sea is cold, the water here is warmer than in the icy lagoon, so the ice chunks are thrown around and smoothed by the waves, and eventually they are thrown back at the beach.iceland diamond beachYou can’t help but wonder how old the ice is that has been washed ashore – these pieces had been part of the glacier for centuries!jokulsarlon glacier lagoon ice beach - CopyThere aren’t two days when this beach looks the same. Every day, new chunks of ice arrive and others melt, and all of them are changing their shapes all the time during the melting process and the constant washing of the waves.iceland's diamond beach

Jökulsárlón – the magnificent Glacier Lagoon

Back in the lagoon, in between the ice chunks, you can spot seals that make their way into the lagoon from the ocean, curiously inspecting the massive blocks of blue tinted ice.glacier lagoon ice iceland sealThe light blue color of the ice was one of the most fascinating things about Jökulsárlón – the only other place I’ve seen ice like this was at Perito Moreno Glacier in Argentina.jokulsarlon icelandYou often only see a tiny fraction of the entire iceberg – the bigger part is usually underwater. Some of them are as big as small houses!icebergs icelandJökulsárlón translates to ‘glacial river lagoon’ and only appeared in 1935, due to the melting of Breiðamerkurjökull glacier. Over the years, it has become Iceland’s deepest lake, currently 814 feet (248 meters) deep. The lagoon has grown fourfold since the 1970s, to give you an idea of the current rate at which Iceland’s glaciers are melting.glacier lagoon icelandJökulsárlón and the Diamond Beach are the one place in Iceland that I really want to return to – with more time to photograph this spectacle, ideally during the winter months, when the sun rises late and sets early. Because apparently, seeing this place during sunrise (the sun rises over the ocean) is even more magical.jokulsarlon iceland diamond beach

Visit Jökulsárlón, Iceland: Practical information

How to get to Jökulsárlón from Reykjavik: There are organized tours from Reykjavik to Jökulsárlón (see below), but renting a car would be preferable, especially if you want to take your time to take photos. The drive from Reykjavik takes just under five hours (231 miles/372km), and from Vik, just over two hours (119 miles/192km).

If you’re driving Icleand’s Ring Road (Highway 1), you’ll pass Jökulsárlón anyway – the lagoon and the beach are literally a stone’s throw from the road.diamond beach icelandIf you’re driving all the way from Reykjavik, plan some extra time for the drive because you’ll want to stop several times along the way to photograph waterfalls, black sand beaches and the breathtaking Icelandic scenery – trust me. It’s a lot of time in the car for a day trip, but it can be done, if you are pressed for time.glacier lagoon icelandWhen you visit Jökulsárlón, take into consideration though that in the winter time daylight is limited to six hours, so you’d be driving in the dark for most of the time, and roads can be icy. In the summer months you’ll be driving back to Reykjavik in daylight even if its 9 or 10pm! Also remember that in Iceland the weather is extremely unpredictable and can change rather quickly. jokulsarlon iceland diamond beachOther things to consider: Be careful when you photograph the icebergs right by the water – the waves can be quite high and unexpected, and several people got their cameras wet (I almost lost my phone when a wave caught me unexpectedly, and both of us got wet feet!)iceland's diamond beachDuring the summer months, you can take a boat ride across the lagoon. That’s something I’d definitely want to do when I return to Iceland (I will visit Jökulsárlón again, no question!). There are two kinds of boat rides – an amphibian boat (35-40 mins, ISK5,000/US$40), and a zodiac boat (45 mins, ISK8,500/US$69), that goes almost all the way to the glacier.jokulsarlon icelandThere is a small café in the car park of the glacier lagoon – after a couple of hours of photographing or simply marveling at the lagoon and the ice bergs on the beach, it’s nice to be able to warm up with a cup of coffee or a hot chocolate.iceland diamond beachAllow about two hours to visit Iceland’s Diamond Beach and Jökulsárlón. If you’re a photographer, you’ll probably want to plan even longer than that. Make sure to dress accordingly, there’s an arctic breeze here, especially on the beach, that’s quite chilly.

dani diamond beach iceland
This would be an example for what NOT appropriately (i.e. warm) dressed looks like!

It is possible to visit Jökulsárlón without a car! If you don’t feel comfortable driving yourself, there are several tour companies offering tours to Jökulsárlón. Check out these popular tours:

 

All images were taken on the Highlights Of Iceland self-driving tour by Icelandic Farm Holidays. Icelandic Farm Holidays provides you with a rental car and an itinerary for every day, but you can decide individually how much time to spend in each suggested stop, or add additional ones. Accommodation is provided in a mix of Icelandic farm houses, B&Bs and hotels.

PIN IT!

visit Jökulsárlón

read more

Road trippin’ in Southern Israel: Masada and Timna Valley

wadi zin sde boker israel

The 4am wake-up call was painful. What had I done? Was it really worth getting up in the middle of the night to watch the sunrise from a mountaintop? But everybody told me I had to visit Masada on a trip to Israel, and apparently heading there to see the sunrise meant seeing Masada in the best light. It also meant we’d had time to continue our road trip further south and visit Timna Park, which was apparently one of the most scenic places in all of Israel.dead sea view before sunriseNot only did I have to crawl out of a bed at 4am, but I also had to climb up a steep mountain in the dark until I’d get to reap the benefits of this arduous undertaking. I was tempted to turn around under my warm, soft blanket and turn off the snooze function on my alarm.dead sea just before sunrise israelBut what was awaiting me on top of the mountain was enticing enough for me to shed off my comfy blankets and get out of bed: Seeing the sun rise over the Dead Sea.
dead sea sunrise from the mesadaI arrived at the bottom of Masada after a 1.5 hour drive from Jerusalem and looked up to the plateau I was about to hike up via the infamous Snake Path (not named for snakes, but for the many curves), in the pitch black darkness. Only the moon and the stars were illuminating the desolate landscape around me. I was late. The sun was due to rise at 6.30am, the climb was supposed to take an hour and it was already 5.40am when I finally got out of the car and started the hike.snake trail before sunrise masada israelThe rock on which Masada sits is 1,300 feet (400 meters) high, and since the beginning of time it has been difficult to reach the top on foot, and even more difficult to capture.masada plateau at sunriseMasada means fortress in Hebrew, and that’s exactly what Judean king Herod the Great built up on the plateau between 37 and 31 BC. The fortified complex of palaces, storehouses, bathing houses and armories was supposed to be his winter residence.masada just after sunriseThanks to its extraordinary setting and great condition of the palace ruins, Masada was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001.masada israel palaceToday, the rock is one of Israel’s most popular tourist attractions (rightly so), especially during sunrise, but when I climbed the steep slopes of the dirt path at dawn, nobody else was there. Because I was late, I walked much faster than I usually do (especially uphill!) and finally passed a couple of other hikers on my way to the top. It turned out that I wasn’t the only one who’d visit Masada for sunrise, I was just the last one who had started the hike. (Side note: You don’t have to hike to visit Masada – you can also take the cable car. See below for more information & tips for visiting Masada.)snake trail before sunriseThe path is only about 1.3 miles (2km) long, but has more than 700 stairs and covers an altitude difference of 1,150 feet (350 meters). It might not seem like a long walk, but the winding path is quite challenging.snake trail after sunriseWhen I reached the top, I was soaked in sweat and breathing heavily, but the sun was just starting to show itself, starting to paint the sky bright red behind the Jordanian Moab Mountains on the other side of the Dead Sea – I had made it in time.dani watching the sunrise over the dead seaI walked around the deserted plateau, looking for a good spot to watch the sunrise and settled for a part where the ancient stone walls were still pretty much intact. I sat down and began to wonder what this place must have been like thousands of years ago when Herod used Masada as his winter getaway.visit MasadaThe story Masada is most famous for is more gruesome than glorious, however: the Siege of Masada at the of the First Jewish-Roman war which ended in the mass suicide of over 900 Jewish rebels and their families. Herod the Great had been dead for 75 years when the revolt of the Jews against the Romans began. After the fall of Jerusalem, a group of Jewish rebels fled to Masada and held out on top of the mountain for three years. Eventually, thousands of Roman troops marched against Masada with the Tenth Legion and constructed a rampart against the fortress, moved a battering ram up the ramp and breached the fortress’ wall. When the Jewish defenders realized that there was no way they could besiege the Romans, their leaders decided that they all should commit suicide rather than being killed by the Roman attackers.masada israel and judean desertBecause of its isolated and safe location, Masada stayed in a fairly good condition over the centuries, pretty much untouched by humans for about two millennia!masada israel2It was only excavated between 1963 and 1965 – fairly recently. I was amazed to find so many mosaics, bathhouses and frescoes in good condition. Masada is the most complete and biggest Roman siege camp that still remains today.masada israel mosaicI took a couple of hours to properly explore the buildings and the palace, marveling at the mosaics and the well-restored buildings, trying to imagine life up here 2,000 years ago.visit MasadaWhile rain water was collected in big cisterns which are also still intact, it is still a hard place to live with the harsh, lifeless desert surrounding the rock.masada at sunriseI could see why Herold chose this place as his winter residency though: These magnificent views! The breathtaking vista towards the Dead Sea in the east, and overlooking the Judean Desert towards the West.judean desert in israelThe scenery around the Masada is just spectacular.masada cable car with sunriseWalking around the plateau I got to take in the views in all directions, and I was almost tempted to do another hike in the Judean Desert, but I had other hiking plans already: Exploring Timna Park.judean desert after sunriseThe best thing about a 4am start is that you can fit in a lot in your day – and visiting Masada was only the beginning of a day filled with incredible landscapes and hikes.Road trip israelAfter a coffee in the coffee shop at the bottom of the Masada, we hopped into the car and followed Route 90 further south. Our final destination was Eilat for some beach time and snorkeling in the Red Sea, but on the way, we’d planned to stop in Timna Valley, a desert area known for its spectacular limestone and rock formations.timna park mushroomWe had 136 miles (220 kilometers) of a scenic drive along the Dead Sea and through the desert ahead of us. Anyone who knows me knows how much I love the desert, and I was happy to sit in the passenger seat, being able to stop anytime and snap some photos along the way.timna park israelWe arrived in Timna Park about two hours later, and even though it wasn’t noon yet, we were met by an extreme heat when we left the car to buy our tickets for the National Park. When we opened the doors of the air-conditioned car, it felt like we were inside an oven!timna park hikeTemperatures easily exceed 105 °F (42 °C) in the summer months, and we were about to set out on a hike in the hottest hours of the day, with no shade to protect us.timna park rock formationsThe lady who sold us the tickets to the National Park made sure that we had enough water, advising us that there was no water anywhere in the park. Just sand, rocks, and limestone pillars.timna park rocksArmed with a map of the park we drove down the narrow road that led straight towards the rocks ahead of us.visit timna park israelThe valley, rich in copper, is famous for its ancient copper mines, which date back to the 5th millennium BC, and remnants of these mines can still be seen in various locations throughout the park, but what I found even more sensational was the natural beauty of the place.timna park israel hikersThe massive, multi-colored rocks, ranging from orange to red to black, reminded me of the canyons and arches in my beloved Southwest of the U.S., and also of the desolate desert of Bolivia’s southwest, even though that one is located at 13,000 feet and much cooler than this place. The erosion there managed to create some strikingly similar rock formations, however.timna park israelI didn’t care that it was unbearably hot, I had to explore all the formations that Timna Park is famous for.timna park israel rockThere is the mushroom, a giant red sandstone monolith that has been formed into the shape of a mushroom by sand and wind, rising high into the desert sky.timna park mushroomAfter a few stops at other formations, we reached the Arches, another famous rock formation in Timna Park, and you can hike up and even through the arches, from where you have a fantastic view over the valley.visit timna park israelI loved how moon-like this area felt; if you had put me down there and told me I was on Mars, I would’ve believed it. There was barely any life here – the bushes were dry and brown, there was no green at all.timna park desertscapeWe also stopped to see the Chariots, impressive rock drawings by the Egyptians, left many thousands of years ago when the Egyptians passed through this region.timna park israel cave drawingsThe Solomon’s Pillars were the perfect way to end our 4-hour tour of the park: three massive sandstone pillars that are towering 50 meters tall above me, definitely a highlight.timna park solomons pillarsThe night before, an Israeli singer had held a concert there, and while I was watching the crew pack up the stage, I could only imagine how staggeringly beautiful it must have been to listen to the music in this awe-inspiring setting.timna park solomons pillars israelI wish I would’ve had the chance to take some of the longer hikes, but it was just too hot. For my next visit to Eilat (and there’s no doubt that there’ll be a next time!), I know that I’ll be visiting Timna Park in the early morning when it is less hot.timna park mushroomSo far, this was one of the most memorable days in Israel: breathtaking views, a rewarding hike, thousands of years of history and stunning landscapes.visit timna park

Practical Information: How to road trip to Masada and how to visit Timna Park

Visit Masada

  • You can visit Masada independently if you have a car or as part of a tour if you don’t have a car.
  • If you decide to hike up, start early. It gets incredibly hot in this region of Israel, especially in the summer months (up to 109°F /43°C!). The Snake Trail takes about an hour to hike, firm shoes are recommended since the path is rocky and steep, and there are many stairs. Make sure to bring enough water. If you hike up for sunrise, the cafeteria at the bottom of the rock will be open upon your return (it opens around 8am).
  • You can also take a cable car up to the top, if you feel less active. Admission with cable car (two ways) is NIS76 (US$19)
  • If you climb, and don’t take the cable car, admission via the Snake Path is NIS29 (US$7.32), but you can also hike up and take the cable car back down. Admission with one way cable car is NIS57 (US$14.42)
  • The cable car is open from 8am till 4pm (check the website for reduced hours on Holidays before your visit).
  • It is possible to visit Masada via public bus from Jerusalem, but the bus lets you off at the Masada Junction on Route 90 and you’ll have to walk to the entrance. The bus is #486, and it runs five times a day. The ticket from Jerusalem is NIS42 (US$ .
  • Abraham Tours runs a Sunrise Masada Tour from Jerusalem which also includes stops at Ein Gedi and the Dead Sea. If you can’t be bothered to get up early to see the sunrise, Abraham Tours also offers a tour with a later start (7am) to Masada, Ein Gedi and the Dead Sea. Both tours are offered three times a week and cost NIS280 (~US$80).

visit Masada

Visit Timna Park

  • It is not possible to visit Timna Park without a car. If you don’t have your own car, you can book a tour from Eilat. The tours are pricey though (nearly US$100), and if you are a group of three or four people, it’s cheaper to rent a car for the day. That way you’ll also be more flexible.
  • It is easiest to visit Timna Park from Eilat, as it is only 17 miles (25km) north of the seaside resort. It will take you about 30 mins by car to get there.
  • Allow at least four hours for your visit; the park is spacious and the main attractions are spread out. If you’re planning to go on hikes, plan in at least six hours.
  • Make sure you bring enough water, sun screen and snacks. Nothing is available for purchase inside the park.
  • Be prepared for extreme heat, especially between May and September. 110°F /45°C around noon are not uncommon.
  • Admission to Timna Park is NIS49 (US$12.40)
  • The park is open from Sunday to Thursday and on Saturdays 8am to 4pm, on Fridays from 8am to 3pm; and in July and August as well as on Holidays from 8am to 1pm.

visit Timna Park

read more

Mermaids, sailors and pirates: Coney Island’s Mermaid Parade

coney island mermaid parade 2014 girls

Mermaids, sailors, pirates and lots of naked skin?

I had been fascinated by the Mermaid Parade in Coney Island ever since the first time I heard about it a few years back. And this summer, I finally happened to be in New York when the iconic parade took place. There was no way I’d miss it (even if that meant not watching Germany’s second game in the soccer world cup).

coney island mermaid parade 2014 seamenconey island mermaid parade 2014 marineA parade with wacky costumes, right by the ocean and in the summer – to me it seemed like this was Brooklyn’s very own version of Halloween and Mardi Gras, all mixed together. Some of the costumes actually reminded me a lot of Mardi Gras – although overall the costumes were less political and more provocative.
coney island mermaid parade costumes popeyeconey island mermaid parade 2014 costumes‘You’ll get to see lots of boobs!’ my friends kept telling me before the event, but obviously that wasn’t the only reason why I was eager to check out the parade 😉

coney island mermaid parade bodypaintingThe Mermaid Parade was introduced in 1983 to celebrate the arrival of summer and to bring to life the mythology behind street names such as Mermaid and Neptune, which are among the main roads in Coney Island. Plus, it was supposed to encourage the locals to express themselves in an artistic way.

coney island mermaid parade 2014coney island mermaid parade 2014coney island mermaid parade 2014 mermaidsSeeing that this June the Mermaid Parade marched down Surf Avenue and the Coney Island Boardwalk for the 32nd time, it seems like Coney Island’s artsy residents have made this celebration a fix institution in their annual event itineraries.
coney island mermaid parade 2014 guysBut not only Brooklynites – over the years, the parade has evolved in much more than a little local festivity, with participants and spectators arriving from neighboring states and far away neighborhoods like the Upper West Side (which feels like it’s a journey from another country, let me tell you.)

golden girl coney island mermaid parade 2014The best thing about the parade is that literally anybody can register to march in it – you don’t need a group or a float, you can just walk by yourself, as long as you have a costume. And oh boy, do people get into their dresses!! Understandably so, because there are several categories for best costume prizes.

coney island mermaid parade whacky costumesBecause anyone can participate, the Mermaid Parade has grown to over 1,500 people marching, making it the largest art parade in the U.S.

coney island mermaid parade mermaidsconey island mermaid parade 2014 sailorconey island mermaid parade mermaid costumesWhile the overall theme of the sea and its inhabitants was prevalent, I noticed that many people also just dressed up in a random costume of their choice.

coney island mermaid parade 2014 marilynconey island mermaid parade CostumesThat’s why there were Transformers…

coney island mermaid parade 2014 transformerZombie-Mermaids…

coney island mermaid parade walking dead…and some costumes I wasn’t sure what they were supposed to be…
coney island mermaid parade 2014 doggieSee that little dog above? There were actually quite a few dogs in the parade:
coney island mermaid parade dogsAnd I spotted several parrots.
coney island mermaid parade 2014 parrotEven the mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio, joined the parade with his wife and children, and so did Uncle Sam!

Coney Island Mermaid Parade Mayor and Uncle SamThat was another aspect I really liked: lots of families with children were walking in the parade. Knowing how much fun I had dressing up as a kid, I can only imagine how cool it must be for them to actually be in the parade. Right away, I began to hatch a plot to get my little nieces over here one year – no doubt that they’d have a blast walking in the parade dressed up as mermaids.

coney island mermaid parade 2014 little girlsI love how much detail most people put into their dresses – some people spend months tailoring their handmade and self-designed costumes.

coney island mermaid parade 2014 girlsThe mermaid in pink pictured below (on the left) took the prize for ‘Best Mermaid Costume’!
coney island mermaid parade floatsWhile there were some family-friendly costumes, I also saw quite a few provocative costumes.

Coney Island Mermaid Parade Butt*Attention.. the following photos are rated R*

coney island mermaid parade 2014 boobsI loved the eclectic mix of people in the parade – seniors, families, young lovers, queer couples,… and everyone was having a great time.
coney island mermaid parade topless girlsI learned that it is legal for women to walk around topless in the state of New York.
coney island mermaid parade topless mermaidsSo why not embrace our natural beauty 🙂coney island mermaid parade 2014 topless mermaids1coney island mermaid parade 2014 topless lady

Tips for attending the Mermaid Parade:

Don’t forget water, sun screen and your camera! Especially sun screen because there is barely any shade.

coney island mermaid parade Don’t come hungry. I made the mistake of not eating before heading down there and had to put up with the sub-par fast food options around there (if you love Hot Dogs though, make sure to try one of Nathan’s world famous hot dogs!)

I wish I would have dressed up for the parade! Many of the spectators were also wearing costumes

Come early to get a good spot. It took us about 90 minutes to get from Midtown Manhattan down to Coney Island. The parade started at 1pm this year, and we arrived about half an hour before it started – and snagged about the last two first-row places along the parade route.

coney island mermaid parade BoardwalkThe next time I go, I’ll watch the parade on the boardwalk – I just feel like it is a prettier backdrop for it than Surf Ave.

Check the official website for the detailed route and starting time.

Bring a beach towel and stay at the beach for a couple of hours after the parade. We loved the festive vibe and had a blast sunbathing with all the mermaids and other participants.

If you are looking for other fun summer activities in NYC, check out these 28 cool things to do in New York City in the summer, compiled by yours truly.

dani at the beach

 

read more

Walk the entire length of Broadway | NYC

new york broadway sign
walk the length of Broadway
Broadway in Manhattan

When I told Jess, “I want to walk the length of Broadway,” she looked at me like I was crazy.

I know it sounded crazy, but I meant it. This wasn’t an impulsive declaration. Broadway splits Manhattan north to south 15 miles (24km), and when I looked into it further, Broadway actually runs through Manhattan, and then an additional 18 miles (29km) across the Harlem River through Yonkers up to the town of Sleepy Hollow in Westchester County.

What better way would there be to really absorb New York, I thought, than to walk at least the 15 miles south to north to the top of Manhattan, walk Broadway from its southernmost beginning all the way to the northernmost tip of the island? Along the way, we’d watch the neighborhoods, people, architecture and overall vibe morph and shift throughout the day. I thought this was an amazing idea, genius in fact. Jess wasn’t entirely convinced. Luckily our friend Jaime came to town and he thought the idea was as perfect as I did! So, that settled it.walk the length of BroadwaySpoiler: We didn’t exactly make it the whole way. We started from 1 Broadway at 10am and ended at 125th and Broadway in Harlem seven hours and 13.7km (8miles) later. Join us visually on our attempt at walking the entire length of Broadway:

Walk Broadway from Bottom To Top

Walking Broadway begins at Number One Broadway:

Number One BroadwayWe started at our walk at the gorgeous statues at the grand entrance of the National Museum of the American-Indian south of Bowling Green.

new york statues native-indian museumnew york broadway statues

The Financial District

We still bounced full of energy in the Financial District, past ornate buildings and modern skyscrapers, Wall Street and the World Trade Center. This felt ‘so New York’ to us all!

Walk Broadwaynew york broadway stone sculpturesnew york broadway 195 doorswalk Broadwaynew york broadway mcdonalds

NoHo: North Of Houston Street

20-odd blocks later, and we ended up in Noho, an area of trendy lofts and great shopping. We may have slipped in to a few stores and shopped for a half an hour here and possibly bought shirts, shorts and shoes which we then carried 100 blocks north to Harlem. (We got a couple of great deals!) Plus we got some fabulous pictures of the wrought iron fire escapes and intellectual graffiti in this trendy area North of Houston Street (where the name comes from).

broadway nohonew york broadway buildingswalk the length of Broadwaynew york broadway bumwalk the length of Broadway

Union Square

By midday Union Square is pulsing with as many break dancers as businessmen, and those poor survey takers jumping out in front of camera-toting tourists like us with their ‘excuse me, miss, do you have a a minute?’ line. The farmer’s market here is excellent, but we didn’t want to carry anything else.

new york union square farmers marketnew york union square farmers market

Madison Square Park

Arriving here after hours of walking through New York, it was amazing how this part could feel like we had somehow now arrived to the quintessential part of New York City. Yellow cabs, traffic, and of course, the Flat Iron building, which Jaime and I spent ages here photographing.

madison square park new yorkFlatiron Building New York City

Korea Town

Now a three hours in to our Broadway walk, we stopped for pizza and an eggplant Parmesan sandwich, ironically near Korea Town, as we knew, without a doubt, restaurant prices would double as soon as we reached the next section of Broadway:

new york broadway koreatown shopnew york eggplant parmigiana sandwich

Times Square

I love Times Square, I’ll admit it. I am still wowed by the lights and the chaos and the fact that it feels ‘so New York’ even though there are only tourists here. For all those reasons, Jess can’t stand Times Square, but we had fun taking crazy photos of the naked cowboy and cowgirl and other oddities that you can only find here!

duffy square times squareTimes Square New York City

On Broadway…the Theater District

Surrounding Times Square is the famous Broadway Theater District, but we ended up being distracted here by a bit of New York drama. The platform holding two window washers, high up at the top of a building just off Broadway, split in two. A crowd of confused tourists (which we joined) stood and looked up, commenting, questioning and actually talking to each other as helicopters packed with news crews thundered overhead. We later heard they survived. The whole thing felt like a scene right out of a movie.

times square billboards new york citynew york broadway mamma mia theatermovie scripts new york broadwaywalk broadway

Central Park / Columbus Circle

It felt like a huge accomplishment when we finally made it to the corner of Central Park. I thought back past Times Square, the Flat Iron Building, Union Square, Noho and Wall Street, it felt amazing how far we had come and now finally we were getting to an area of Manhattan we hadn’t spent much time in…

new york broadway columbus circlenew york columbus circle globe

The Upper West Side

The Upper West Side is where Manhattan and the scenes along Broadway slowly but completely changed. There were no more obvious tourists, the road has more trees, it widens out, the buildings turn into elegant condos and there is more of a calm, sophisticated neighborhood feeling. Our feet ached, time was running, and I had to accept we weren’t going to make it to the top of Manhattan. But would we make it to Harlem?

upper west sideUpper West Side westside marketupper west side taxis

Columbia University

There was a bench where Jess and Jaime sat down, if just for a minute, to rest their feet. I knew we needed more of a break, but I was suddenly completely re-energized at just how far we had come. So I gave them my best ‘stern’ look and got them to their feet. Onward to Harlem!Morningside Heights

Columbia University to Harlem

Unlike much of the walk which changed progressively along the way, the shift between the university and reaching Harlem was much more pronounced. Although this had to do with the time of day – rush hour had now begun and people were rushing back and forth in what felt like a frenzy compared to the sleepy feeling of the upper west side, there was a complete shift in demographics. new york harlem apartment block

In the same way that the tourists began to disappear and we reached a more neighborhood-y vibe after Central Park, these last 10 blocks had a much more mixed population similar to Brooklyn than the whitewashed feeling from whence we had just come. Black, white, Latino, and hipsters pounded the pavement here to get home. As for us? Jaime and Jess hit a huge wall and got super giggly, while I was both sad that we still had 100 blocks left until the end of our walk and relieved that we could head home and finally have a nice cold beer after a long summer day out walking Broadway!

walk the length of Broadway

Walk the entire length of Broadway: TBC…

So yes, we failed. We didn’t manage to walk the length of Broadway. Not this time. But – there will be a next time! We will finish this walk from 125 St all the to Broadway and 220th and the Harlem River, so stay tuned for another photo post…

read more

Sculptures of Santiago – A photo essay

santiago sculpture bike riders2

In our Santiago quick guide, we talked about how Santiago is the kind of city that takes awhile to reveal itself, lacking any real landmark attractions outside of the Cathedral and the Plaza de Armas, and the Gran Torre de Santiago, South America’s highest skyscraper. However, there are so many interesting, if less obvious, charms to Santiago. For example, just down the rushing Maipocho River from the tower, set in a long, wide green space between one of the city’s main avenues, is a sculpture park with dozens of intelligent pieces. The park is subtle, yet, in true Chilean style, impeccably carried out. But we found beautiful stone, wooden and bronze sculptures in Santiago de Chile that aren’t mentioned in any travel guides. There’s public art basically in every neighborhood throughout the city, not just in the sculpture park – and some of the best were even just along the bike path where we walked the dogs every morning.

santiago sculpture woman

Join us on a tour of our favorite sculptures in Santiago de Chile – starting at the city’s main square, the Plaza de Armas, where you find this giant carved stone face, a testament to Chile’s Indigenous populations.
santiago de chile sculpturesI loved this bronze sculpture on the Pedro de Valdivia bridge in the Providencia neighborhood:
santiago de chile sculpturesOther bronze favorites included the ‘kissing couple’ and the ‘women’s legs’.
Santiago de Chile sculpturesA unique sculpture in Santiago de Chile’s Bicentennial Park:
santiago sculpture bike ridersThe sculptures at the city cemetery’s main entrance are darker:
santiago sculptures cemeteryThe Santiago Sculpture Park had some great pieces, like the muscle man hanging from a steal rope and the standing needle:
Santiago de Chile sculpture parkAnother sculpture in the sculpture park:
santiago sculpture park metal sculptureThroughout the city there are many sculptures of faces…
santiago sculpture face…and I particularly liked this one:
santiago sculpture headA fountain with standing figures in Barrio Brasil:
santiago fountainThe best animal sculptures included a horse by Fernandero Botero and a dog on Cerro Santa Lucia:
Santiago animal sculpturesThe art in the Providencia neighborhood matched the contemporary vibe in the area:
santiago sculpture black and white figuresOther sculptures that caught our attention:
Santiago sculptures santiago sculpture shapes
santiago sculpture woman in chair santiago sculpture bicentennial park Santiago bike sculpture santiago sculpture flute players

Which one is your favorite? Let us know in the comments below!

read more
1 2 3 4 5 6
Page 3 of 6