close

Polaroid of the Week

Polaroid of the week: Going back in time in Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay

polaroidoftheweekphoto11

polaroid of the week uruguay colonia del sacramento
Leave it to us to be contrarians. While most people start their Uruguayan adventures in Colonia Del Sacramento, we saved this little gem for last.

Just a quick 1-hour ferry ride across the Rio de la Plata from Buenos Aires, Colonia is often a short trip, sometimes even a day trip, from Argentina, but it couldn’t be more different to the rest of sleepy, spread out beach and river towns of Uruguay. he little colonial town was our last stop before returning to Argentina. The Portuguese first settled here in 1680 and while the city has expanded considerably since then, parts of the old town look as though nothing has changed since back then. Old wooden horse carts parked out front of rickety colonial houses with faded facades lining centuries-old cobble stones transported us back in time.

This week we feature the most famous of these historic heritage streets in Colonia: La Calle de los Suspiros, or ‘the street of sighs’. There are many legends about how it got its name. One legend has it that this street was lined with brothels in the 17th century, and the sighs came from sailors arriving in port sighing and fainting at the sight of pretty girls offering their services.  Another more romantic (and tragic) tale talks of a young girl who was waiting for her lover and suddenly stabbed, her farewell sigh heard throughout Colonia. An even darker version of the name’s origin comes from prisoners condemned to death being led along this street to be drowned in the river.

Sounds like there was quite a lot of trouble on this street centuries ago, but today it’s a simple cobblestone street perfectly preserving a bit of architectural history in time and the ‘sighs’ come from the tourists gasping either at its beauty or at how difficult it is to walk on the jumbled old cobblestone road!

read more

Polaroid of the week: Floating in the Dead Sea

polaroidoftheweekphoto11

polaroid of the week israel dead seaI spent most of the last week road tripping around Israel, crossing the country from the Lebanese border in the north to the far south, where I saw both the Egyptian and the Jordanian borders on my morning runs through Eilat, Israel’s Red Sea resort town. This road trip came with so many highlights – it was hard to pick one single moment for this week’s Polaroid! I loved the blue grottoes of Rosh Hanikra which are right on the border to Lebanon, the ancient fishing village of Akko and the spectacular  Bahá’í Gardens in Haifa. From there, my friend and I made our way south to the Dead Sea, where I hiked up the Masada, an ancient fortification located on top of an isolated rock plateau, with stunning views over the Dead Sea (I hiked up there at 5.30am to see the sunrise over the Dead Sea), climbed up to the waterfalls of Ein Gedi, a desert oasis, and finally returned to the Negev Desert where I hiked in Timna Park, a desert area with unusual red rock and stone formations that blew me away (and nearly killed me, thanks to the 100°F/37°C temperatures). I loved my time in Eilat, where I snorkeled on the coral reef that is closer to the beach than any other reef I’ve been to, and the many colorful fish I saw made me wish I’d bought the underwater camera I was eying with this past summer in New York. After that, the road trip came full circle when we drove back north via Mitzpe Ramon, where I got to see the giant crater (25 miles long and up to 6 miles wide) and stopped in Tel Aviv for a dose of big city life before returning to northern Israel for a typical Rosh Hashana (Jewish New Year) family dinner. I must have taken around 2,000 photos on the road trip alone and can’t wait to show you all of Israel’s natural beauty.

The most unusual stop on the road trip was without a doubt the Dead Sea, where the strange sensation of floating in the water was certainly an incredible and unforgettable experience. The Dead Sea, 1,401 ft/427m below sea level, is one of the most fascinating places in the world. I didn’t think I’d be floating that much, but I couldn’t get my feet on the ground at all! Which wasn’t a bad thing after all, because I learned that the Dead Sea is 1,004ft/306m deep, and deep bodies of water freak me out (which is why I don’t think I’ll ever try diving). With 34% salinity it isn’t just one of the saltiest bodies of water in the world, it is also ten times saltier than the ocean. Tip: Don’t rub your eyes!! (I learned that the hard way.) It is impossible for anything, animal or plant, to survive there. The landscape around the Dead Sea is very barren as a result, but oddly beautiful. Even though nature is basically dead in and around the Dead Sea, it is filled with healing minerals and hugely popular for treatments of all kinds of sicknesses, ranging from skin diseases to osteoporosis and arthritis. My skin felt amazing after my bath in the Dead Sea and the mud mask I gave myself there. Sadly, the countries bordering the Dead Sea (Jordan and Israel) have caused a lot of environmental damage, causing it to shrink rapidly. There are plans to replenish it, an initiative especially driven by Jordan. I hope that both Israel and Jordan will work together on this project, to guarantee the conservation of this unique natural wonder for future generations.

read more

Polaroid of the week: Conquering a mountain in Argentina’s Quebrada De Las Conchas

polaroidoftheweekphoto11

polaroid of the week argentina quebrada de cafayateAfter a few days in Salta, the second biggest city in the north west of Argentina, we headed to Cafayate, a tiny village four hours to the south. Known mainly for its wineries and vineyards, Cafayate is set in a beautiful green valley, surrounded by red mountains on all sides and while most people come here to enjoy the outdoor adventures out of town, we fell in love with the little village itself.

We had what we thought were the best empanadas in all of Argentina (including Quinoa-filled ones!), explored the quiet tree-lined streets and had a cone of the famous Torrontes white wine ice cream, which was…interesting, and enjoyed cycling to the nearby vineyards – gorgeous!

The main attraction though was the Quebrada de Cafayate, the mountain range which runs between Salta and Cafayate. The bus passed right through here on the ride down, one of the most stunning bus rides we have ever taken, if slightly nauseating, through winding mountain roads lined with bright red rocks that reminded us of Sedona and even the Grand Canyon. We hopped on a tour to explore more of the mountains and were shown one impressive place after another. We climbed into and around rocks that felt like being on the moon, were fascinated by rock formations, gorges and got the goosebumps listening to a man sing a desperate love song in an all-natural rock amphitheater with the best acoustics we’ve ever heard!

read more

Polaroid of the week: Dinner plate decorations on the Santa Lucia, Suchitoto

polaroidoftheweekphoto11

We spent the weekend in a beautiful town called Suchitoto in the north of El Salvador. The main sight is the Iglesia Santa Lucia, a white church that has a stunning façade with six ionic-style columns and three towers on top. After posting a picture of Santa Lucia on our Globetrottergirls Facebook Page, Juergen from Dare2go.com made us aware of the dinner plates on the roofs of the three towers, which we had not seen. So we went back the next day to take a closer look – the roofs are indeed covered by dinner plates! Apparently, the plates were donated by a bride who was married in the church as a sign of appreciation.

read more

Polaroid of the week: A castle in the Alps

polaroidoftheweekphoto11

.polaroid of the week Germany German Alps Street Castle

It was just an average day in Europe. There we were, ‘speeding’ along the Autobahn in our rented Smart car during the hour and a half journey from Innsbruck, Austria back to our housesit in the Bavarian mountains. Suddenly, blink and you’ll miss it, out of nowhere, this castle appeared. We snapped it before it disappeared from view.

Not quite as high as a castle in the sky, you could call this our idyllic castle in the Alps. Or, our drive-by shooting for the day. Polaroid shooting, of course!

read more

Polaroid of the week: Young girl, Hmong New Year’s Celebrations in Phonsavan, Laos

polaroidoftheweekphoto11

 

polaroid of the week laos phonsavan hmong girl with umbrella

Sometimes, when you travel, you go on gut instinct alone. We had heard of the Xieng Khouang province of Laos around the city of Phonsavan, booked a ticket and endured the ten hour bus ride only to bounce into town just in time for the Hmong New Year’s celebrations.  The Hmong people, an ethnic group that originated from South Eastern China, were forced to settle in Thailand, Laos and Vietnam as a result of several wars throughout the years.  Now the Xieng Khouang province is home to one of the biggest groups of Hmong people, who, during the New Year’s celebrations (after the harvest in late November/early December), dress in their traditional costumes, dance and eat great food – for up to 40 days in most regions!

The most interesting aspect of the celebrations is the pov pob, the Hmong game of love. Unmarried boys and girls, men and women line up facing each other and toss a tennis ball back and forth – hoping that the girl or boy they like throws the ball back. If the ball drops, that means there’s no interest.  Both the girls and boys dress up in intricate costumes  which represent their clan – and they must find someone from outside of their clan to marry.

We were invited to take part – several times – but politely declined in favor of observing this adorably innocent ritual of teen flirtation. During the Pov Pob, the teens took the time to stop sending text messages and playing music from their phone’s speakers. In one sense teens are the same all around the world nowadays, so it was particularly interesting to witness the willing practice of their traditional culture as well.

read more

Polaroid of the week: Coconut overload in Battambang, Cambodia

polaroidoftheweekphoto11

polaroid of the week cambodia battambang coconut vendor

We arrived in Cambodia last weekend and spent the first few days in the town of Battambang in the north of the country. A charming riverside town with crumbling French-colonial houses, Battambang is skipped by many travelers who head straight to the famous Khmer temples of Angkor Wat near Siem Reap. We are so happy we spent time here, observing the vibrant town life from the balconies of colonial-style cafes.

The market is the commercial center of Battambang, and farmers from the nearby villagers arrive at all times with their freshly picked fruits and vegetables, like this young man with his coconuts. Cambodia, it seems, is nuts for coconuts. Hanging from palm trees in fields, backyards, even right in the city…and they are cheap, too!

Knowing that we’ll be leaving South East Asia soon, the thought of a time when we won’t have coconut water every day makes us sad (yes, poor us, we know). We now take every opportunity to sip ice-cold water out of  heavy green coconuts, so we sure were happy to see this guy arrive at the market the other day.

read more

Polaroid of the week: Panama City’s Skyline

polaroidoftheweekphoto11

.

After so many months rambling through colonial city after colonial city, imagine our surprise when we arrived in Panama City and saw this impressive skyline! Dozens of skyscrapers line the Pacific shores and make for Central America’s most spectacular skyline (by far!). This skyline could be anywhere in the U.S. and shows how much the city benefits from the world-famous Panama Canal.  As a growing international trading & finance hub, many  banks, insurance firms, shipping companies and hotel chains have built large high rises in Panama City (including a new Trump hotel opening this June). Most of the skyscrapers have been built since 2000, and several stood unfinished during our time there this March.

read more

Polaroid of the week: Was Napoleon a gelato lover, too?

polaroidoftheweekphoto11

;polaroid of the week france corsica ajaccio napoleon gelateriaDuring our Mediterranean cruise last week we stopped at the French island of Corsica, birthplace of France’s great emperor Napoleon Bonaparte. Despite never returning to his home island of Corsica, Napoleon is still the island’s most famous son. Especially in Ajaccio, the town where his birth house can still be visited, his likeness is used to market almost anything! There are museums, monuments, statues, and not to forget all the souvenirs that carry his name or face. Hotels and restaurants also like to use his name, like the ice cream place that has him selling gelato. So did Napoleon really like Gelato? We are sure that even with his many ‘complexes’, he did!

read more

Polaroid of the week: Buddhas galore in Bangkok, Thailand

polaroidoftheweekphoto11

..polaroid of the week thailand bangkok buddhasBetween the blaring horns, speeding scooters, whizzing tuk-tuks on the buzzing streets and the overall constant bustle of Bangkok, the Buddhist temples (and there are hundreds of them) provide perfectly peaceful havens to escape it all.

After six months traveling in North America and Europe, our arrival in Thailand’s capital city slapped us with quite a bit of culture shock at first, but we adapted quickly by jumping into a tuk-tuk and touring a few of Bangkok’s beautiful temples, or wats, as they are called in Thai. We would whip along main roads and around back streets in the open-air tuk tuks, only to arrive minutes later to near-silent temples with spectacular golden Buddha statues, known as Buddharūpa, which means Form of the Awakened One. Some wats have a particularly large golden buddhas, as high as 32 meters, either standing or reclining, while others instead have a number of buddhas lined-up together in the cross-legged lotus position, like the ones pictured above.

Watching the Buddhists paying respects and bringing offerings at any hour of day, and witnessing the monks collecting the alms in the early mornings has been like a very easy crash course to this fascinating culture and a great way to begin our travels through Asia.

read more
1 2 3 36
Page 1 of 36