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On Broadway: Our walk from Wall Street to Harlem | Manhattan, NYC

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broadway map manhattan 13.3 miles
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 – watching 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.broadway signSpoiler: 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.

The day begins:

new york broadway number oneWe actually 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 broadway statues native-indian museumnew york broadway statuesThe Financial District

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

new york broadway & wall streetnew york broadway stone sculpturesnew york broadway 195 doorsnew york broadway cemeterynew york broadway mcdonaldsNoho

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 (where the name comes from).

broadway nohonew york broadway buildingsbroadway noho taxinew york broadway bumBroadway crowdsUnion Square

By midday this area 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 broadway union square buildingsnew york broadway union square strawberriesMadison Square

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 new yorkFlatiron Building New York CityKorea 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 broadway eggplant parmigian sandwichTimes Square

I love Times Square, I don’t know why. 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!

new york broadway duffy square times squareTimes Square New York CityOn 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 as helicopters packed with news crews thundered overhead. We later heard they survived. The whole thing felt like the scene right out of a movie.

times square billboards new york citynew york broadway mamma mia theatermovie scripts new york broadwaynew york broadway jess and jaimeCentral Park / Columbus Circle

It felt like a huge accomplishment once we 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…

new york broadway columbus circlenew york broadway columbus circle globeThe Upper West Side

This 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?

new york broadway upper west sidenew york broadway westside marketnew york broadway upper west side taxisColombia 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!new york broadway harlemHarlem

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. In the same way that the tourists began to disappear and we reached a more neighborhood 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 on Broadway!

new york broadway apartment blocknew york broadway and 125thNext Time

That’s right – there will be a next time. We will finish this walk from 125 St all the to Broadway and 220th and the river!

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Love lockdown on the Brooklyn Bridge

brooklyn bridge lovelocks

On our first ever visit to the Brooklyn Bridge in 2009, there were no locks hanging off every hook and in every nook along the bridge like there are today.
brooklyn bridge new yorkThis isn’t because it was illegal to lock your love up on the bridge then and that it is legal now. In fact, the rules haven’t caught up to the trend here in New York or around the world. Over the past few years love locks have been popping up on bridges and fences in major cities everywhere. We most recently wrote about an entire fountain covered in love locks we spotted in Montevideo, Uruguay.

But New York is a city that has our hearts, which meant it was most fitting for us to lock our love up right here, on the Brooklyn Bridge.

dani and jess lovelockThe trend seems to have taken off first in Italy after the release of the 2004 movie, Tre Metri Sopra il Cielo, based on a 1992 novel by Federico Moccia. The film included a scene where a couple ‘locked’ their love forever by locking a padlock on a bridge and tossing the keys into the river below to symbolize their eternal love. This took place on the Ponte Milvio bridge in Rome, which then immediately became a popular meeting point for couples making their own eternal declarations of love.

brooklyn bridge new york love locksNot long after, love locks started to appear in other places from Korea to China to Australia, Germany or Serbia. We came across them for the first time when we hiked in Cinque Terre in northern Italy, where ‘The Path Of Love’ is covered in love padlocks from couples from all around the globe. Interestingly, Wikipedia has an entry listing all of the world’s popular love lock spots.

Brooklyn Bridge Love LocksIn Paris, the city of romance, the Pont des Arts bridge has evolved into a popular destination for proposals, engagement photo shoots and newly-weds, with the couples adding a love lock to the bridge on their special day.

brooklyn bridge new york love padlocks dir gehoert mein herzIt didn’t take long until the trend had reached North America – the Brooklyn Paper reported about the love lock appearance for the first time in April 2010, just a year after we had walked over the Brooklyn Bridge for the first time.

brooklyn bridge new york love locks and skylinebrooklyn bridge with lovelocksAlthough New York might not hark of the romance of Paris, the phenomenon has most definitely spread and couples are marking their engagements, wedding and declarations of eternal love by locking their own padlocks to this famous landmark.

Brooklyn Bridge Love Padlocks New YorkThe locks themselves range from ordinary padlocks to colorful ones with engraved dates and names.

brooklyn bridge new york love lock steffi danielSo far, the padlocks on the Brooklyn Bridge haven’t reached an extreme like on Cologne’s Hohenzollern Bridge, which holds over 40,000 (!) love locks. But there are at least a few hundred now.

Brooklyn Bridge Love PadlocksWhile this love lock gesture is utterly romantic, it’s not quite legal. Supposedly there is a sign on each end of the sidewalk over the bridge that says “Attachment of any sorts to this bridge structure shall not be allowed.”

brooklyn bridge new york love padlocksWe have crossed over this bridge several times now and neither of us have seen the sign – otherwise we might not have added our very own padlock to the collection. While it seems as if the authorities turn a blind eye to the locks on the pillars, benches and railing, the many locks that are added to the street lights are removed regularly, to ensure the safety of the drivers who pass below the lamps. You can see how this lamp poll was pulled down by the weight of love…

brooklyn bridge new york love locks lamp poleA lamp pole being overloaded with love locks has happened before – at the most famous of the love lock bridges, the Ponto Milvio in Rome. The lamp post that was covered in locks partially collapsed in 2007, which resulted in the removal of the locks and the introduction of a €50 fine for anyone trying to add a padlock to the bridge.

brooklyn bridge new york love locks lamp poleWhile there might be some naysayers who feel that the locks disrupt the natural look of the bridge, the two of us, romantics that we are, think that it is a beautiful gesture for lovers to promise everlasting love to each other in such a simple, yet public way.

Love Locks Brooklyn BridgeSymbolic gestures of love seem to appear less and less today with people acknowledging anniversaries in status updates on Facebook and e-cards replacing thoughtful love letters. That’s why we personalized our own padlock with Dani & Jess on the front and our nicknames on the back, locked it on the Brooklyn Bridge and threw the keys into the water below.

Brooklyn Bridge Love Lock GifHow do you feel about love locks – do you think they are cheesy or a meaningful way to seal your love?

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Photo Essay: A stroll through Montevideo

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Touching in down in Montevideo, the two of us city girls were giddy with excitement. Six weeks of traveling through barren landscape of Patagonia and the green spaces of Chile and Argentina’s Lake District had been unlike anywhere we had ever been, but we missed the buzz of a big city: culture, people, diverse food, art. After such great experiences in Buenos Aires and Santiago de Chile, we also had high expectations for Montevideo, our third South American capital and Jess had even harbored some ideas about living there for a few weeks at one point. When we walked out of a gleaming, futuristic airport terminal to catch our bus into the city, we were convinced that Montevideo wouldn’t disappoint.

A few minutes in to the ride, however, and we had passed the first of many horse carriages and dirt roads. We wondered if maybe Uruguay’s capital wasn’t as modern as its airport had teased?

horse carriage in montevideoWe started our exploration in Ciudad Vieja, the original colonial part of town. As we explored around our hotel, we discovered historic colonial buildings either in a charming state of disrepair or beautifully restored.

montevideo old buildingmontevideo confiteria montevideo architecture lionmontevideo vw beetle greenmontevideo sheep sculptureThe Mercado del Puerto, the port market, was originally built in 1865 to be a train station. This wrought-iron construction now houses an array of restaurants that specialize in meat and seafood dishes. While there wasn’t much for us vegetarians to try, people rave about the restaurants in this market.

montevideo mercado del puerto We loved the little restaurants,cafes and shops in the old town, and the old-fashioned fruit and vegetable stores.
montevideo booksmontevideo ciudad viejamontevideo vegetable store montevideo street signThis charming antique flea market sprawled out on the tiny Plaza Constitución, the oldest square in all of Montevideo.

montevideo flea marketmontevideo flea market glassesLined by beautiful grand buildings and a fountain in the center, the plaza made for a great place to sit down and (crazy) people watch for a while.

montevideo fountain angels and fishmontevideo plaza constitucion arch and lionThough it seemed impossible at first, Uruguayans are even more obsessed with drinking their mate, a South American herbal tea drink, than in Argentina. While we saw people walking around with mate gourds in Argentina occasionally, it seemed that everyone in Uruguay was bringing their mate gourd and a thermos with hot water with them, where ever they went.
montevideo couple in the parkmontevideo mate gourdsDrinking mate out of hoofs seemed to be particularly trendy.

montevideo mate hoofsOn our walk through Ciudad Vieja, the ornate and restored buildings were contrasted often with a bit of an edge, including street art in many areas.

street art montevideomontevideo restaurant signmontevideo street artThe historic Teatro Solís is one of the most elegant buildings in Montevideo. Renovations only finished in 2004, six years and US $110,000 columns designed by French designer Philippe Starck, later.

montevideo teatro solismontevideo teatro floorOur next stop was the Plaza Independencia, Montevideo’s most important square, which separates the old town from the commercial downtown center.
montevideo plaza independencia with sculptureThis modern office tower right on the square, the Executive Tower, is the workplace of José Mujica, the current Uruguayan Head of State.
montevideo glass towermontevideo plaza independencia buildingThe Palacio Salvo is the most impressive building on Plaza Independencia, however, with its 100 meter tall ornate tower (below on the right), designed by the architect Mario Palanti, who designed a similar building, the Palacio Barolo, in Buenos Aires.
Historic buildings in MontevideoPalacio Salvo marks the beginning of the Avenida de 18 de Julio, Montevideo’s most important shopping street which is also filled with gorgeous art deco buildings and old-fashioned shops and restaurants.
montevideo opticianMontevideo Uruguaymontevideo door with stone lionsmontevideo clock towermontevideo bar grillWhile shoppers go about their business, there are always groups of men playing chess on the sidewalk.

montevideo chess playersThe smell of roasted peanuts hangs in the air, wafting from several stands where they cooked them fresh along the avenue.

montevideo peanut vendormontevideo peanutsIt is no secret that I am obsessed with love padlocks on bridges (and we even put our very own one on the Brooklyn Bridge!), so I was beyond excited to stumble upon an entire love lock fountain!

montevideo love lock fountainmontevideo fuente de los candadosmontevideo fuente de los candadosThe fountain says: “The legend of this young fountain tells us that if a lock with the initials of two people in love is placed in it, they will return together to the fountain and their love will be forever locked”.
Love locks MontevideoWe loved the Diego y Jose lock – and were surprised to learn that the country is actually very gay-friendly, having recently passed a bill that will make same-sex marriage legal in Uruguay as of 1 August 2013 – making it only the 14th country in the world to legalize gay marriage. The Old Town even has a dedicated Espacio Libre de la Diversidad Sexual Montevideo, a square dedicated to sexual diversity!
montevideo love lock fountainAnother thing we loved about Montevideo were the many tree-lined boulevards everywhere.

montevideo streetThe trees seem to form a natural arch over the streets.
tree-lined street montevideomontevideo french windows

montevideo facade with womenmontevideo angel balconyAfter marveling at some more of the city’s extraordinary architecture, it was time for us to hit the beaches. Montevideo has over 13 kilometers (8.1 mi) of sandy beaches. We rented bikes, but you can walk or even just drive along the Ramblas, the coastal road, for over 20km of beach after beach after beach.
montevideo beachmontevideo beachPlaya Pocitos is the best-known beach in the city, lined by luxury apartment buildings in this upscale part of town.
montevideo beachMontevideo does have all the ingredients of what makes a great city, but this particular recipe just didn’t impress us much. We weren’t captivated the way we were in Buenos Aires or even Santiago, which took longer to win our hearts. We might be biased because of the attempted robbery, but overall we felt that the city is a bit rough, lacking in much diversity and just doesn’t have the interesting, laid-back vibe that makes the rest of Uruguay such a great destination.

Door with ironHave you been to Montevideo? We’d love to hear your thoughts on the city in the comments below.

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Sculptures of Santiago – A photo essay

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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 unfinished Gran Torre de Santiago, which will eventually be 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 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.

Join us on a tour of our favorite sculptures in Santiago – 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 plaza de armas sculptureI loved this bronze sculpture on the Pedro de Valdivia bridge in the Providencia neighborhood:
Santiago female body sculpturesOther bronze favorites included the ‘kissing couple’ and the ‘women’s legs’.
Santiago de Chile sculpturesA unique sculpture in Santiago’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 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!

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Goodbye 2012: Our year of travel in pictures

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2012 was an intense year of travel, filled with ups and downs for us like never before. We ‘only’ traveled through 10 countries this year in an attempt to better balance the travel with the work that keeps us on the road. We made countless new friends, spent months on the beach and discovered places that will forever have a special place in our hearts – check out our top 5 destinations in 2012 and top 5 beaches in 2012 if you missed an inside look at those. Above all else, it was the year of the beach housesit for us, with six housesits in six different countries and we even published a book about it to help others Break Free in 2013.

It’s still hard to believe we are still on this great adventure, so as we did in 2010 and 2011, we wanted to highlight our year of travel in pictures of our third year as nomads!

January

We started the new year in