SANTA MARTA: THE DOOR OF THE SIERRA NEVADA

Santa Marta is located in Magdalena department, on the Caribbean coast in the north of Colombia, between Barranquilla and Riohacha.

The city is a good place to stop off if you are doing a tour of the country and you want to go in the Sierra Nevada or to the Guajira Department.

It is one of the most tourist-focused cities on the coast. Its location between the Sierra Nevada and the Caribbean coast makes this city very attractive, especially considering the variety of fauna and flora to be found there.

 It is important also for the historical and cultural heritage, Santa Marta, was a colonial city, where you can admire the colonial architecture and monuments such as the Basilica of Santa Marta, which is a one of the biggest tourist destinations on the Caribbean coast.

As a Caribbean city, Santa Marta has suffered from repetitive British, French and Dutch attacks. The city is steeped in history and legends. One of them, says that Santa Marta´s Cathedral contains the heart of the famous Simón Bolívar, hidden somewhere. In fact Bolivar spent his last part of the life here.

A walking tour is the perfect way to orient yourself within the city and learn about its history and culture with your guide: follow your guide along the beach, check out top landmarks such as the Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino, and end your tour with a prime spot for watching the sunset.

I was in Santa Marta as starting point for the “Ciudad perdida” I was by trekking! The Lost City, or Ciudad Perdida, is the archaeological site of an ancient indigenous city in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. It has been a commercial center around 700 A.D., and its population probably ranged between 1,400 and 3,000 inhabitants. Hidden in the jungle for over a thousand years, the Lost City was found in 1972 when treasure hunters followed a series of stone steps leading up to an abandoned city.

From Santa Marta tour operators offer three- to five-day guided treks to the Lost City which include transportation, lodging, food.

Read more about the city!

 

GDANSK: THE PEARL OF THE NORTH

Gdansk has a long story, that many people sometimes forgive… it was crucial during the Second World War and a milestone of the labour union fights. It was exemplar for the last point, as the polish people fought with energy against the system and against the established rules to let workers have a better life and recognize their dignity and value. Many cultures, nationalities and denominations you will find here, the city of the Amber, for me special of course…my name says everything…

The location was also crucial because it is at the crossroads of important commercial and communication routes, an extensive port and mercantile traditions.

The dynamic development of trade, fishery and craft guilds and more had their best period in the 14th – 15th century: the "golden age." During this time Gdańsk was one of the wealthiest and most significant cities in Europe.

Furthermore, the religious freedom gained in the 16th century turned the city into a true melting pot of nationalities and denominations, giving it yet another stimulus for development, thanks to the specific "community of differences." It was one of the few such places in the world at the time.

We need also to remember that after the Swedish wars and partitions of Poland in the 18th century, the city was cut off from Poland and in 1793 it was annexed to Prussia.

What followed was a period of decline till Napoleon arrived here. In 1919, the Free City of Gdańsk was established under the Treaty of Versailles, which brought the city back to the elite of European ports.

After that Gdansk started again to be famous… not for a good fact… Unfortunately, in 1933 Nazis took power and fascist terror started to escalate in the city. On 1 September 1939, it was here, in Gdańsk, that the Second World War started with shots fired from the battleship Schleswig-Holstein.

Here the people of the city started to be fighter against a bad destiny. The heroic fighting in Westerplatte and the martyrdom of the defenders of the Polish Post Office opened a new, tragic chapter in the history of Gdańsk. Te city were destroyed and the reconstruction were long and difficult…. . For the whole world, the city was becoming a synonym for the liberation aspirations of Poles.
The tragic December 1970, and then August 1980 and the martial law period are the successive dates symbolizing the fight of the citizens of Gdańsk against the prevailing communist regime. Gdańsk became the cradle of "Solidarność" which was to transform the then map of Europe. History has come full circle. Contemporary Gdańsk - a half-a-million, dynamically developing agglomeration - is vibrant with life as before and again deserves to be called "the Pearl of the North."

 

 WHAT TO SEE

 Street art

If you like street art, Gdansk is perfect! Just four stops from Gdansk Glowny is the Gdansk Zaspa district. This largely residential area may not have many traditional “attractions”, but the facades of its communist-era tower blocks are painted in intricate and often colourful murals.

Visit the museums: “Solidarnosc” Museum and the second World War Mesuem

Gdansk has some of the best museums in Poland and I think in Europe too. Especially because here you will find theSolidarnosc” Museum (ECS: European center of Solidariety) and the second World War Mesuem.  The European Solidarity Centre tells the story of a steelworkers’ strike, which set in motion a cultural movement that spread around Poland and ultimately led to the fall of communism. What you will feel inside is incredible, there are also free auodio guide that will help you to live again those events or at least, if you are too young to understand what really this population passed during the last decades and how the people that really fight for their rights and their freedom act. Nothing compared to the politicians of today…. Both the Museum are modern and opened not so many years ago…. So you will really appreciate the style of those Museums.

Explore the Old Town

It is the most touristy (and busiest) part of the city, but Gdansk Old Town is beautiful and a walk around is an essential part of any visit. Each building carries a story, from the seemingly “medieval” facade close to the Golden Gate (which was actually painted by Soviet authorities), to the statues atop buildings rebuilt after the Second World War. A walk alongside the marina is a must if the weather is good, and the historic Soldek ship is also worth checking out.

Not forgive to pass in Ulica Mariacka, in the city centre retains its pre-Second World War terraces and is now home to a number of artisan shops selling amber jewellery, for which Gdansk is famous.

The sea in Poland!

As I stayed 2 days I decided to go to the sea….. I arrived by fly and I have to admit I was not thinking of long beaches in Poland… my fault…. If you have time just go, take a normal tram ticket and arrive to the end in Brzezno, and from there you can walk to Sopot, the best place to stay at the sea!

 

 

 

 

KARMOY ISLAND: BEAUTIFUL BEACHES IN NORWAY

Someone said about Karmoy:

“Great and rich your verdant pastures,
Stout against the sea you face,
Karmoy praise your hardy coastline!” (cit: Nils AAroy)

Norway is not only fjords but also beautiful beaches and I was in some of them. With rocks and skerries protecting Norway from the raging sea in the West, Karmoy was historically important for Vikings but also during the Second World War.
What I found there were long, silky-smooth, sandy beaches in bays and inlets and with eternal swells pounding the coast.
Karmoy is also maritime culture, ocean, silvery fresh fish and a vibrant heritage. You can walk in the footsteps of Harald Fairhair who first united Norway in a single kingdom.

An important note to leave you is the origin of Norway: why this Country has this name? Norway was the Way to the North starting from the Vikings considered fundamental for the fishing, commerce and other activities of this places: an historic landscape with views across the narrow strait that brought you to the north…

The Karmoy countryside is both inviting and diverse offering a range of pursuits in the great outdoors, communion with nature and relax. You can just prepare your pic nic stuff and go to discover the island!

AVALDSNES – the first Royal Throne of Norway
Harals Fairhair chose this as the site of his Royal manors. Here you can feel the revival of the ancient facts about the legendary first Norway king that appears often in sagas and songs. The chieftains and kings who controlled the vital “Northern Way” left till today a church that is a history centre and in the East, a reconstruction of a Viking Farm.
Just as info, the Viking era ranged from AD 750 to AD 1100 when people from Norway, Sweden and Denmark made their mark to Europe. The Vikings are mostly known as pirates and warriors, but they were also traders, craftsmen, farmers, fishermen, poets and discoverers. The nation of Scandinavia were established in those times.

VISNES – momentous industrial heritage
This location was a mining community in the 1800s and here lived the most modern and known copper workers of Northern Europe. The Statue of Liberty in New York is made from a copper produced here!

AKRASANDEN BEACH
It was voted as the Norway’s finest sandy beach! I have to say this place surprised me a lot. You can find them discovering the coast between Akrehamn and Ferkingstad. During the year it is possible also to do surf here.. .and if you look for historic things…. You can find some small holes and bunker of the Second War War, just ask them to local people and they will teach you!

SKUDENESHAVN – A charming town
It is located on the outermost southerly tip of Karmoy. It is a place where you can wander about in peace and quiet surrounded by beautiful architecture, taste freshly-made waffles in cozy cafès, shop for antiques and other treasures, or discover great hiking areas and sandy beaches.

CHENNAI: THE CAPITAL OF TAMIL NADU

Anciently known as Madras, Chennai is the capital of Tamil Nadu. Lots of Tourists don’t stop here when they arrived in the Indian State but decide to go further and leave early the big city. Yes, it is not so peaceful but it worth to pass 2 days in town.

A journey in South India and in particular to admire the majestic temples of Tamil Nadu can start from Chennai. In reality the metropolis hides a temple very charming and many districts in which you can do a jump in the daily life of a great Indian city.

First things arm yourselves with patience, it is caos! Think not moving on foot from one place to another but learn to leverage its public transport or the tuk-tuk, but remember to bargain before the ride will start…. It is a basic rule in India! A ride is normally between 2 to 4 km and it takes 70 rupees.

The public transport is economical (5 rupees a trip). In fact, the fastest way to get around the city is the Chennai suburban railway (here the map of stops and lines), a sort of underground but that travels on the surface of the city.

You can also choose for a “uber” style App: Ola Cabs if you preferred, you will book your taxi or a tuk tuk at good price!

The continuous recall of the hawkers, the smells of food into the air… let you discover India and go without fear, without the frenzy to pass from a museum to a temple in a hurry… Only in this way can you get in tune with this metropolis of over 6 million inhabitants where each district is a world unto itself.

WHAT TO VISIT

Marina Beach

Together with T-Nagar this is one of the favorite places by the inhabitants of Chennai to spend an afternoon among friends or with your family. At Marina Beach, you will not see people in bikini… it is not for sunbathing but you can have a bath in the Indian Ocean with the clothes.

At your arrival you will find hundreds of Indian stops to admire the sea and many, hand in hand, to get wet by the waves… around you it will be full of hawkers, horse owners (for rides on a romantic walks nearby the sea) and families that eat something. Marina Beach is probably the best place in Chennai to go to understand the uses and customs of the locals during their free time.

You will find a very interesting area of open Market: a series of stalls that from the road crosses the entire beach and ends almost in water. Continuing walk north you will find two memorials, including one dedicated to M.G.R., a very important political actor disappeared in 1987.

Enjoy a natural juice or a fresh coconut, one of the best things of this part of India is the  fruit they have! Incredible colors, tastes,variety at a really cheap price!

ELLIOT'S BEACH

Less famous Elliot's Beach is quieter and less crowded. The atmosphere is similar: dozens of friends and families who are chatting, make a subspecies of bathroom and eat every type of snacks. Here, search for the Ashtalakshmi temple that is located on the beach, adjacent to a slum where fishermen live: If Chennai is your first stop in Tamil Nadu, it will make you effect to see a temple that directly overlooks the sea! The Hindu temple is dedicated to Lakshmim, the wife of Vishnu, goddess of health.

GEORGE TOWN BAZAR (AKA Black Town)

This giant outdoor market born at the end of 1600 to manage trade with the near Fort Saint George. Over the centuries the bazaar is enlarged, has evolved, it is now filled with churches and temples. This is one of the more interesting districts of Chennai, between tracks dedicated to selling flowers, other fruit and vegetables, small electronic districts, spices and much more.

KAPALEESHWARAR TEMPLE

It is a temple of Shiva in Mylapore neighborhood. One of the biggest of the city and important for the city. Kapaleeshwarar temple was built in 7th century CE by the Pallavas. The original Kapaleeshwarar Temple was built where Santhome Church is located currently in Chennai. This original temple was demolished by the Portuguese and the present temple was built in the 16th century by the Vijayanagar Kings. Buy some flowers and offer them to the God!

Nice to visit!

THE SUNSET AT THALANKUPPAM PORT

The most beautiful place where to see the sunset in Chennai is the Thalankuppam Pier (AKA Nettukuppam Pier): do not imagine, however the classic romantic port. The Thalankuppam Pier is fascinating because it has become a surreal postmodern and post-industrial place.

A bit of history: when in India was still dominated by British and Chennai, which at that time was called Madras, was not extensive as it is today, Thalankuppam was a small fishermen village almost twenty kilometers from Fort St. George. The legend says that from here the best seafood in the area could be caught. Now is simply a suburb to the north of the capital of Tamil Nadu where some villages overlook directly on the beach and many live on fishing.

On the banks of the river Thalankuppam, that here plunges into the sea, rose gigantic factories: you can see on the horizon high chimneys and boats of fishermen who try to earn the dinner, sitting on huge iron pipes… It is an experience fascinating

MORE IN THE CITY: THE ST. GEORGE FORT: THE COLONIAL TIME

The fort was built in 1653 by the British company of the West Indies that started to develop Chennai (which at that time was called Madras). Despite his undoubted historical value and in spite of many tours that include it among the fundamental stages, the Fort St. George today is nothing more than a collection of government buildings.

See other articles on India: click here!

3 DAYS IN BARCELONA: A PERFECT LONG WEEKEND!

3 days are the perfect time to experience Barcelona at your first visit, you could see most of the city’s main tourist attractions and even get a little bit more! The city, widely considered one of Europe’s is one of the most vibrant cities in the world, with unique mix of culture,and energy. Here’s some tips on how to spend 3 days in Barcelona!

FIRST DAY:STARTING TO GO AROUND...

If you want start from the heart of Barcelona, you can have a great start with a walk on the Rambla and go to visit its most iconic market: the Boquería Market (La Rambla, 91). Today it has become a bit touristic but it’s still a must-visit in Barcelona. Better to go in the morning before it will be too crowd. You can you’re your breakfast there from one of the stalls and do some morning grocery shopping.

After your good breakfast, continue to the Paseo de Gracia, where you’ll find two of Barcelona architect Antoni Gaudí‘s most famous works. First, Casa Batlló: go inside to fully understand Gaudì prospective!

Following you will arrive to the nearby Casa Milá, Gaudí’s last work. Known as “La Pedrera” (“the quarry”), the interior is quite fascinating as well. The nice thing is to go on the spectacular rooftop terrace for some of the best views in Barcelona and take some pictures.

There, go around the neighborhood: Gracìa was a little village before being completely absorbed by the sprawling metropolis becoming part of Barcelona! Take your time to admire its picturesque, narrow streets and see where they take you.

You can end your day having some good Tapas there and after that see what the night will bring you!

SECOND DAY: SAGRADA FAMILIA Y PARC GUELL

The second day can start with the visit to the most beautiful church I ever see in my life: the Sagrada Familia, another Gaudí masterpiece. The building began to be constructed in 1882 and today is still uncompleted! Gaudì died before finishing this amazing pace of art and the legend says He was almost obsessed of it…. Actually He died in the meanwhile He was admiring the uncompleted construction mashed by a carriage and anybody recognized him in that moment. After few days people started to ask where He was, and finally they discovered He was dead….

The Curch is built thanks to the tips and the entrances the tourists pay to visit it!

The interior is reminiscent of a magical fairytale forest, with its towering tree-like columns and glittering light produced by the stained glass windows. Tip: book your entrance before going to Barcelona, there is difficult to find free places!

After the visit you can relax yourself in the park and have lunch.. Maybe not closed to the church, there is more expensive.

A must-stop in Barcelona is the Park Guell. The famous architect originally intended to build an upper-class housing development. That vision never came to pass, but the public areas of the development were completed and turned into a whimsical park.

Closed to there you can visit also the Carmel Bunkers (Carrer de Marià Labèrnia) located to the north of Park Guell. It is an abandoned military structures left over from Spain’s Civil War in the 1930s might be Barcelona’s best-kept secret. It’s a spectacular place to watch the Barcelona sunset!

For the night you can go around the “Barrio Gotico”. There take some cervezas or cocktails and enjoy the Barcelona nightlife!

THIRD DAY: VISIT THE GOTHIC BARRIO AND CILL IN BARCELONETA

The last day, you can visit the storied Gothic Barrio that maybe you saw during the night the day before. With over 2,000 years of history lining its streets, there’s no shortage of things to see and do here. Step into the shoes of Gaudí or Picasso, relax in a picturesque plaza or get lost in the winding streets of the old Jewish Quarter. The Gothic Quarter is full of magic just waiting to be discovered.

You can also visit some museum, for example the one of the Spain’s most iconic artist, the Picasso Museum (Carrer Montcada, 15-23), or enjoy the Gaudí’s works at the Gaudí Exhibition Center (Pla de la Seu, 7). After that you can stop to the cathedral!

The long walking day can continue on the beach of Barceloneta, so relax take some sun and drink a good mojito there…..

In alternative you can go for a tour of the street art of Barcelona, in that case see my article: BARCELLONA: STREETART WALK – THE POBLENOU

You can do so many more things in Barcelona… this is just a part of them so be ready to go back to this amazing city!

 

 

 

SITGES: A QUITE TOWN OUTSIDE BARCELONA

I passed 5 days in Barcelona at th end of June and as I know the city and I was with a frind we decidd to stay in the city 2 days and pass the other ones outside of it, more in the nature and in a quite sea place. We decided to go to Sitges, a beautiful coastal town in Spain towards the south of Barcelona. The small town is full of exotic beaches and leisure promenades, and in summer it becomes a tourists’ paradise.

We stayed in a camping, “Camping Sitges” that is 2km from the center of the town. You can easily find it on the main road that leave the city towards “Vilanova I la Geltru”. The price were very good, it is cheap: e paid for 2 people and the camping tend for 2 nights 36€.

To start you day you can go in a bar in front of the beach or take your breakfast with you and sit down in the sand and enjoy it! The entire passage is flat and easy to walk on. As you stroll down it, you can take in the beautiful view of the beach as well as many other sights available in the city.

If you like to go by bike and not walk, “Bikes Sitges” is a bike rental available. You can rent the bike you want to and then go out on a ride- a good soothing ride through the streets of Sitges or hills near the city. This is recommended to all those who love ‘long’ drives or rides. I found a bike rent also in the camping we stayed, so you could rent also there your bike!

The town is really nice, one of the attractiveness is the Church of Sant Bartomeu & Santa Tecla, which is present near the place of a British invasion of Barcelona. It hosts an ossuary which is as old as the 1400s, making it an excellent spot for history lovers and from there you have a nice view on the beaches.

Among the beautiful beaches there are:

  • The Playa de Sant Sebastia: it has got some good cafes and bars near the sea front which make it ideal for an amazing beach day and end it up with a big mojito in your hands watching the sunset. It is not so crowded beach so you can dive into the water and have lunch quietly. It is quite near the main church too. it offers the best mixture of fun, leisure and affordability.
  • Playa del Hombre Muerto is a secluded beach at the end of the promenade in Sitges. It is a clothing optional beach. The beach is nice and clean and there are cafes to provide you with food and drinks. The only way you can reach the beach is by walking. Another amazing beach present in the city! It is an urban beach situated near the Sausalito beach, wider and less crowded.

Sitges is an cute city full of amazing beaches, with a rich cultural background and an immersive nightlife.

ROUTE TO WALK OUTSIDE THE CITY

As my friend and I love hiking we decided to ask for a nice route to do. Among the ones we saw on a brochure the tourist info gave us, some were not accessible without a car (for what they said… I have to complain because the touristic guides were not so informed on the transportation and the attractiveness outside the city) so finally we had to choose an excursion of 10 km for 3 hours. The itinerary was the following: from San Pedro de Ribes we walk through the castle, nice to visit to the Montgrós, and from there we came back. The type of exit: circulate; Difficulty: easy. The only issue was we started at 1 pm so the sun was very high… but it was our mistake!

GOA: NOT CONVENTIONAL INDIA

Goa is not a city …. It is a  part of the incredible India!

India is recognized as the largest democracy in the world. The Constitution came into force on 26 January 1950. The principles of equality, liberty, justice and fraternity are the roots of India. The people from any caste, creed, sex, religion, and region can vote and choose their representatives. In India, there is a federal form of government that means there is a government at the center and at the state.Therefore, Goa is part of all of this and is the smallest state.

The “country” changes fast but the magic still is there. You can go to India just for a month but you need more time  to live India and the incredible culture it has.

Goa's attractiveness lies in the beautiful beaches , each with its own appeal. You can visit 30 beaches strung out along the coastline and each of them is different. You have to take care in the months of October and November when the seabed is still settling after the monsoon. While Goa's reputation as one of the most liberal Indian states means that sunbathing in a bikini is entirely accepted, but remember that topless is illegal and wearing flimsy shorts or a bikini anywhere other than the beach is extremely disrespectful. When you will be there , please respect the culture and what it means for Indian people.

The northern beaches are generally considered to be the most dynamic, developed and tourist populated. Calangute and Baga, for example, are quite touristic but you have to know that these beaches lacks much authentic Indian charm. It depends on which experience you want to live in India.

One of the place I was is Anjuna beach, the original hippy hangout, that has changed dramatically since its original days but retains a touch of the unconventional.

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In the northest part of Goa and you'll find peace again on the beaches of Mandrem, Asvem and Arambol – broad sweeps of fawn sand, backed by thickets of palm trees and casuarina pines.

In the south there is another nice place is Palolem. With postcard-perfect views, lazy beach life and a chilled-out nightlife this broad bay has little in common with the more commercialized northern beaches. For something even quieter, wander south to the next beach along, Patnem. Go to eat curry fish, it is an amazing typical dish!

How can  I know so much? I rent a moto and I was just flowing from a place to another in Goa territory.

Party like no where else

Goa is recognized as a party destination. It was began to be established when it was a Portuguese colony, providing a liberal bolt-hole in a conservative nation. Young Western backpackers began to mix all togheter in Goa and the state became a venue for all-night raves.

There are, the three-day "underground" trance parties. The best place to begin is at Vagator beach. After this you should ask for the jungle location where that evening's party will take place.

However, since the police have started to crack down on these unofficial all-night raves, mainstream club started to fill the gap.

In the middle of the day, the pace of life in Goa slows substantially.

Yoga in Goa

Yoga is a usual activity you will do in Goa, the smallest India state. Visiting several beaches I was looking always for a Yoga class and it is so easy there to find one. Just go around and find the best practice for you!

I used to do Yoga early in the morning, when the sun come up and gentle tell you that the day starts…

Do yoga in India is different than do it in Europe. All around you, remember that this is a philosophy, not just a practice. You need to focus with all your soul and your mind and feel as you are part of something bigger than you.. The nature and the world itself!

PLAYA BLANCA: THE CARIBBEAN CORNER OF CARTAGENA

Playa Blanca is the closest beach on which to spend some days far from the noise of the normal life. It is on in Baru, closed to Cartagena. It was originally a peninsula, but it was separated from the city during the construction of the Canal del Dique, and is now an island.

The life in Baru is easy, about 20,000 native people live there who make their living from fishing, tourism, and the sale of handicrafts on the beach. In recent years, the growth of hotels, eco hotels, and hostels has continued to increase, as has the demand from visitors in search of one of the best beaches near Cartagena.

Baru has many beautiful beaches, but only a few of them are open to the public, including Playa Blanca (the most popular. Other playas are Playa Bobo, Punta Iguana, Puerto Naito). The others, sadly, are either private beaches, or they belong to hotel complexes. Playa Blanca is perfect if you want a simple experience. For what I saw, no big hotel buildings till now, just small huts and a lot of hammocks … For me a paradise!

HOW TO GET TO PLAYA BLANCA BY LAND

You can arrive to playa Blanca easily, There are many ways to reach this land. You can go on your own by taking a bus that leaves from the statue of the India Catalina in the centre of Cartagena and goes to the town of Pasacaballos. From here, you can take a motorcycle taxi that will take you directly to Playa Blanca for about COP$10.000 (3 Euros). If you are only planning to stay at Playa Blanca for the day, you can coordinate your return trip back to Cartagena with the drivers that brought you in.

Another option can be to go by a shuttle bus. You can book it and it will picks you up in your accommodation in Cartagena and takes you to Playa Blanca.

WHAT TO EXPECT AT PLAYA BLANCA

Before Playa Blanca was connected by a bridge to the Pasacaballos small town it was an undiscovered place of pristine, untouched beaches (5 years ago). Now, the area has turned into a very popular destination in Cartagena with a wide variety of accommodation with prices that start at just 4 Euros a night. The place is still really nice and not full of huge hotel buildings.

One of the negative aspects of Playa Blanca are the beach vendors. They will continue to address tourists trying to sell stuff. But it depends on how much effort you will put in find the right place for you. I walked over all the beach to find a good hut without a lot of people, at a good price and with free beach in front of it, so no lots of people that wanted to sell things!

The truth is that those people are only looking to make money for their families and they see visitors as an opportunity to bring food into their homes by doing honest work. I’m not justifying their behaviour, as in some cases they really are annoying, but I believe that saying a simple and convincing “No Thank-you” is enough to keep them away. Or sometimes you can just speak bit with them and they will appreciate it even if you will not buy anything.

A very practical advice is to ignore the oyster vendors. The vendors will come over to you saying that the first one is free, however, this is a lie. Nothing is free, and if you actually want to eat them, you should establish a price for how many you want to eat first. If not, you’re likely to return to Cartagena with empty pockets.

The local women are usually responsible for giving massages on the beach, and they will also try to persuade you and charge you excessive prices. Some treatment as for the oysters. They tell you that they will give you a “free trial” of their work. Again, this is a way to trick you.

In Playa Blanca you could buy lots of Tours, to reach the others iland, to go snorkeling or other activities you preferred. The prices are not high and you can also bargain, so all on you!!

Playa Blanca was perfect for me. The white sand and warm, sky blue sea provide the perfect Caribbean image that that I had the previous year in Cuba.

TRINIDAD DE CUBA: THE COLONIAL TREASURY

You know the famous pastel colored buildings that Cuba is known for? Yeah, that’s Trinidad! Trinidad has a cute array of colored housing and here the casas particulares are unreal! Many of these homes are beautiful colonial jewels with stunning gardens. You can walk cobblestoned streets, listen to live music in the plaza, cool off with fresh sugar cane juice, hop into a horse-drawn carriage, chat with locals, or visit fascinating colonial museums spread about town. You will not loose your time in Trinidad. Trinidad is a place where new mixes with old to create a jumble of sights, sounds, and smells.

It’s certainly a tourist town though — but even with other travelers around, Trinidad doesn’t lose its charm.

 

 

 

A BIT OF HISTORY

Trinidad, is also began an UNESCO World Heritage site in the center of the island in the province of Sancti Spíritus. Trinidad is Cuba’s best preserved colonial city, a unique mix of 1850’s architecture & 1950’s cars that feels frozen in time.

Trinidad was one of the first Cuban towns founded by the Spanish, and it quickly grew wealthy from the production of sugar cane, cattle, and tobacco due to the importation of African slaves.

The town’s wealth funded extravagant palaces, large plazas, and colorful colonial homes for rich plantation owners.

WHAT TO DO

Plaza Mayor is the true heart of Trinidad, a large plaza comprised of raised gardens, walkways. Historic buildings from the 18th & 19th centuries still surround the plaza. Many of them are painted in pastel colors, topped with red terracotta roofs. The plaza was built when the region was rich and you’ll still find the same churches and mansions previously owned by sugar barons — restored and transformed.

Life is simple, grab a seat on one of the cast-iron benches, and enjoy the gardens and the buildings nearby. You can order your drink and the waitress will bring it to you. But taking a long walk down some of Trinidad’s side streets until you get completely lost is one of my favorite things to do. You’ll get a glimpse of what life in Trinidad truly looks like. You may see games of dominoes, deep conversations, bird cages hanging from porches. Don’t be afraid to ask some questions too. Most people will be happy to chat!

If you want to dance,  in Cuba you can stay sitting down or don’t move any of your mussels as you will have always music around you, every evening at Casa de la Música there is an outside show which travelers can enjoy. Here expect to pay 3 CUC  / $3 / £1.96 for a cocktail.

One good place is the Canchánchara where you can have good cocktail of rum, honey, lemon, and water, it’s the simple things in life in Cuba that matter. Don’t be alarmed when live music explodes! It is Cuba mood..

SURROUNDING

The nearby Playa Ancon deserves a shout out too because it is a postcard perfect beach. This beach is perfection, it’s exactly what you would expect of Cuba with its blue waters, white sand and palm trees.

In attempt to miss the strong sun, I hired a bike in Trinidad at 9 a.m. (5 CUC / $5 / £3.27 each). With the bike I rode till the beach and passed all the day chilling there.

To know more about Cuba, see the other articles on this amazing country!

PUNTA GALLINAS: THE NORTHEAST CORNER OF SOUTH AMERICA

Punta Gallinas is desert, is the extreme northern corner of South America. It can be seen as the beginning of a continent or the ending: the point where the immense land of South America meets the ocean and just finished; it is almost poetry, where Colombia becomes desert and then becomes water…

If this all sounds nice for your ears, you have to go to Punta Gallinas: when you arrive it seems to be on a movie set, a forgot place, in many ways! If you are planning a trip to Colombia and want to include La Guajira (or the Caribbean coast in general), you really should be planning a visit to Punta Gallinas. Sure, Cabo de la Vela is lovely, and easy to visit, but Punta Gallinas is where the Guajira peninsula gets truly unreal and otherworldly.

The experience if you go on your own is far more rewarding culturally, and you have the freedom and flexibility to choose what you do and where you stay. In addition: it’s cheaper to travel to Punta Gallinas this way!

HOW TO GET THERE

I traveled to Punta Gallinas in August and it was hot but the place is so peacefull; I planned my trip to Punta Gallinas in Cabo de la Vela. I divided the costs with another traveler with whom I organized the transport. Although hardly overwhelmed by tourism, Punta Gallinas is now a regularly scheduled trip from Cabo, with daily departures and a steady stream of travelers making the journey.

 

You can also do a different road; there are also private tours available from Santa Marta and Riohacha: everything is taken care of for 4 days and 3 nights or 3 days and 2 nights, for a high cost. I would strongly recommend traveling La Guajira independently.

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You can reach Punta Gallinas by boat or car (4×4 vehicle). Both cost the same if organized from Cabo de la Vela: I paid 75.000 COP for the transportation and 45.000 for the night there. This cost is for return transport and the day-tour activity once you get to Punta Gallinas (more on that later). Bargain the price and you will not pay a lot!

I had the food included too (one dinner, one breakfast and one lunch). Normally the trip is 2 days with one night but if you decide to stay more than one night just let the driver know when you are planning to leave in advance so he can schedule to collect you on that day.

Organizing the trip is easy: most accommodation in Cabo de la Vela ask you pretty much straight away if you want to visit Punta Gallinas, and there are drivers leaving on a daily basis. The only thing to remember is to have the cash when you go to Cabo the la Vela.

ACCOMMODATION

There is really only one place to stay in up here: Hospedaje Alexandra. The car or boat just takes you straight there. The set-up for sleeping are hammocks and chinchorros. If you did not book before, a hammock will set you back 15.000 COP per night, and a chinchorro 20.000. A chinchorro is a large Wayuu hammock, with room to lie diagonally and flat. There are also a limited number of basic private rooms, which run to 30.000 per person.

When you arrive, you see a row of hammocks, all strung up in several little outdoors areas, open on all four sides, but with a roof over the top: you will generally be put with the same people you came in the vehicle! I was with the friend that travelled with me and 4 English guys that unfortunately hadn’t money with them…. We helped them to buy food and drinks!

The first day you will arrive, you will do the included tour you buy with the accommodation and the transportation; the extra day you can pass here gives you the chance to explore the area in a more independent manner, away from the prescribed itinerary of the day 1 tour. I took a walk across the desert to the north coast, meeting some local Wayuu people on the way, and enjoying the surprising variety of plants and animals. I passed the afternoon on the beach, chilling and relaxing. Later that afternoon, I took the boat to go back to Cabo the la Vela.

it’s definitely worth the money you will spent.