Everyone Needs a Diversion

Like everyone else, our days are quite hectic with work and family life. If we didn’t find something to divert ourselves from the day-to-day doldrums, we would likely find ourselves battling depression. We use planning travel as our way to escape the daily routines. We have finalized our travel plans for our trip to Ecuador, so what do we do now? Start thinking about our next trip of course. Even though we are still three weeks away from boarding the plane to South America, we have started to consider where we want to go next. We can’t afford to constantly travel, although we wish that we could, so our next trip will likely be in November. For that trip, we are contemplating something completely relaxing, vacationing as opposed to travel. A trip to the beaches of Mexico and escaping the cold of Colorado seems like an ideal break, so that is what is on our minds at the moment. For this week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge, Ooh, Shiny!, we are sharing a few photos from previous trips to Mexico. The thought of sitting on a beach with a cold drink is definitely enough to take our minds off of the tasks at hand.

IMGP6028

IMGP6106

Boats on the Water in Cabo

IMGP1833

The Arch at Cabo San Lucas

DSC00244

Ship Sailing into the Sunset in Puerto Vallarta

Advertisements
Posted in Mexico, Photo Challenge | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Shopping in Europe is Different

DSC_2794

The Apothecary on Our Street

When we moved into our apartment in Frankfurt, one of the things that we had to get used to was where to go to buy certain things. In the United States, we are used to large chain stores that carry anything and everything that you need. That isn’t necessarily the same in Europe, at least where we were staying. If you need medicine, you went to the apothecary. If you want fresh meat, you went to the local deli. If you want fresh baked goods, you went to the bakery. During our last few days in Germany, we took some photos of the walk along the sidewalk from our apartment to our favorite restaurant.

DSC_2788

Our Apartment Building in Frankfurt

DSC_2900

Apothecary Entrance

DSC_2793

Our Deli

Another thing that we got used to during our time in Frankfurt was having an aperitif after our meals, something that we don’t see too many people doing here in the States. This week’s Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge is photos of things that start with the letters AP. Here are some pictures of our apartment building, the apothecary on the corner of our street, and the aperitifs that accompanied our meals.

IMG_5225

Aperitifs

DSC_2815

Sidewalk Leading to the Opera House

IMG_4243

Another Aperitif

Posted in Germany, Photo Challenge | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Have You Taken a Cooking Class in a Foreign Country?

We have often heard about people taking cooking classes during their travels, but we have never done that ourselves. We truly enjoy eating like a local and have been trying to replicate some of our favorite meals over the past few months. As we make our final preparations for our trip to Ecuador in three weeks, one of the things that we are considering is taking a cooking class while we are there. If we do take the class, we will eat a variety of local favorites and end by making our own empanadas using fresh, local ingredients.

IMG_2115

Ceviche

IMG_0263

Seafood Risotto

We enjoyed the variety of foods that we ate during our trip to Bolivia last year and look forward to tasting the cuisine of Ecuador. We are expecting them to be rich with starches and have a variety of pork and beef dishes. Have any of you taken a local cooking class during your travels? Would you recommend it?

IMG_2337

Fried Duck

IMG_2328

Chicken and Pasta

Posted in Recipes, South America | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Climbing to the Summit of Pikes Peak

One of the most difficult hikes that we have ever done was our hike from the base of Pikes Peak to the summit. The entire hike is over twelve miles and has an elevation gain of over 7,000 feet (2,100 meters) to the peak, which is at 14,114 (4,301 meters). It certainly is not a hike for novices and was very much a challenge for us and we hike on a routine basis. Barr trail starts in the town of Manitou Springs and quickly ascends into the Pike National Forest. It was important to time when we did the hike because even in the middle of summer it can snow on the top of Pikes Peak, so we hiked in August on a day when we knew that the temperatures would be fine at the base as well as the summit.

DSC01090

Early in the Hike

DSC01099

Sign on Barr Trail, about 3 miles into the hike

DSC01100

View of Pikes Peak from Barr Trail

DSC01101

Lower Barr Trail

The hardest part of the trail was when we reached the tree line at 11,000 feet (3,350 meters) and the air thins out. The Summit House sits on top of Pikes Peak and is a restaurant and souvenir shop, which is visible from the base on a clear day. Once you reach the tree line, the point where the air is too thin for plants to grow, the Summit House seems like it should be close, but it is still a couple of hours away. The total hike took us about 8 hours, although we took our time and paced ourselves.

DSC01107

Steep Hike at Points

DSC01121

Barr Trail at Tree Line

DSC01122

So Close and Yet So Far

DSC01118

View from Barr Trail, Garden of the Gods at the Base of the Mountain

For this week’s Cee’s Which Way Photo Challenge, we thought that we would share a few photos from that strenuous hike. As we prepare to return to South America and hike in the Andes Mountains, our minds have returned to this hike several times.

DSC01115

Sign for the Summit

DSC01114

Middle of the Hike

DSC01127

Standing on Top of Pikes Peak

DSC01133

We Were Exhausted When We Reached the Summit

Posted in Colorado | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Cologne Cathedral (Kölner Dom)

There are many cathedrals in Europe that were built in the gothic architecture and the Cologne Cathedral in Germany is definitely one of the more stunning examples. To say that the cathedral dominates the skyline of Cologne would be an understatement as it is clearly the focal point from wherever you are standing. If you enter or pass through Cologne via the train, you certainly can’t miss the cathedral as it is literally a few hundred meters from the train station. It is the tallest twin-spire church in Europe and draws thousands of visitors from around the world on an annual basis.

IMGP0643

Beautiful Gothic Architecture

IMGP0440

Amazing Details

IMGP0662

Looking Up at the One of the Spires

The cathedral is currently undergoing renovations as the stones of the church had turned black over time, but are now being renewed to their original luster. The details of façade are overwhelming as there is so many interesting features to see as you walk the grounds of the cathedral. Although the city has put height restrictions in place to ensure that the cathedral remains the highest structure in the area, the Museum Ludwig sits very near the cathedral. It is a strange juxtaposition between the historic cathedral and the modern buildings that house contemporary art.

IMGP0644

Cathedral and Museum

IMGP0464

Dominating the Skyline

IMGP0654

So Much to See

Construction began on the cathedral in 1248, but was not fully completed until 1880. There was no work done on the cathedral between the late 15th century and the 19th century, but when construction resumed, it was completed based upon the original plans. It is currently a UNESCO World Heritage site and certainly one of the most magnificent cathedrals in all of Europe. During the evenings, the sides of church are lit up so that it virtually glows against the night sky.

IMGP0581

Cathedral at Night

IMG_3077

Lit Up Against the Black Sky

IMGP0441

Looking Up at the Cathedral

There are many reasons to visit Cologne with its medieval old town, museums, and waterfront district, but the Cologne Cathedral or Kölner Dom is most certainly the highlight of any visit. Viewing the gothic architecture, the stained glass windows, and impressive buttresses is something that you will never forget. The Cologne Cathedral is certainly one of the finest examples of a medieval church to be found anywhere in the world.

img_3086_cropped

So Many Amazing Windows

IMG_3084

Main Entrance to the Cathedral

IMG_3085

Gothic Details

IMGP0442

Buttresses

Posted in Germany | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Copacabana – An Oasis in Bolivia

IMGP9284

View of Copacabana from Lake Titicaca

Much of what we saw during our time in Bolivia was harsh, wild, and rugged. The exception to trekking the Amazon rainforest or scaling the heights of the Andes mountains was our trip to Copacabana on the shores of Lake Titicaca. Copacabana is a resort destination for tourists and locals alike. Having seen the relatively poor living conditions for most of the citizens of Bolivia, seeing the upscale, boutique hotels on the shore with the boats in the water was quite a juxtaposition to the rest of our experience in Bolivia.

IMGP8990

View of Copacabana

IMGP9070

View from Our Room

IMGP9297

Restaurants on the Beach

To be fair, most of the boats are tour boats to take tourists out to Sun Island and Moon Island and not necessarily pleasure boats. There were paddle boats shaped like swans to rent and tour around the harbor. The main street of Copacabana is lined with tourist stores and small, family-owned restaurants. We watched as ferries arrived from Peru dropping tourists off to start their journey into the heart of Bolivia. One look at that unpaved main street and there was no mistaking that we were still in Bolivia, despite the relative luxury of the hotel where we were staying.

IMGP9299

Main Street of Copacabana

IMGP9294

Walking from the Beach to Town

IMGP9302

Baby Alpacas and Swan Boats

Besides people coming to enjoy the sun and beach, the other main reason for people from Bolivia to travel to Copacabana is to have their new car blessed at the Basilica of Our Lady of Copacabana. Vehicles are dressed up with rings of flowers and party hats on the roofs. Vendors line the street outside of the Basilica to sell a variety of trinkets as it has a cobblestone road and is where all of the buses line up to pick up the tourists arriving on the ferries.

IMGP8997

Vehicles Being Decorated, Check out the Hats

IMGP8994

Church in the Main Square

IMGP8995

Market by the Church

Staying in our hotel was like stepping out of Bolivia into a Mediterranean resort. The lawns are manicured, the restaurant was first class, and the room was spacious and comfortable. The hotel was part of the tour package that we had booked to visit the Incan ruins on Lake Titicaca and we were definitely pleasantly surprised. We ate lunch at a restaurant on the beach before heading back to La Paz that had an outdoor patio and definitely catered to English tourists. We usually choose less touristy type places, but the food was authentic and delicious.

IMGP9020

View from the Resort

IMGP9019

Our Room

IMGP9031

Sunset from Our Room

All-in-all, the time in Copacabana was almost surreal compared to the rest of our time in Bolivia. If you are going to visit Lake Titicaca, taking the time to spend a night in Copacabana is well worth the extra time. Compared to how hectic most of our nineteen days in Bolivia was, sitting on our balcony and watching the sun set over Lake Titicaca was completely relaxing and refreshing. Copacabana was certainly one of the highlights of our time in Bolivia.

IMGP9300

Manchester United Restaurant

IMG_2414

Pollo Macho for Lunch

imgp9046

Sunset over Lake Titicaca

Posted in South America | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

The Forces of Nature

As you travel and see different parts of the world, seeing the way that nature has shaped the land that we live on is amazing to see. Water shapes the land through erosion both from rivers as well as the oceans. Volcanos add new land where there once was nothing. Mountains are formed over time, rising ever higher towards the skies. The sun beats down on the deserts, leaving scorched earth and drought for those who live in those areas. This week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge is Elemental, observing the effects of earth, air, water, and fire. We have chosen a few photos representing the forces of nature from different locations that we have visited.

IMGP1798

Arch at Cabo San Lucas

IMGP4876

Garden of the Gods

IMGP9353

Andes Mountains in South America

DSC_0101_day2

Geysir Bubbling Up in Iceland

IMGP4026

Cavern Carved by Water in Morocco

Posted in Photo Challenge | Tagged , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Life is a Series of Transitions

Everyone is constantly evolving, growing, and changing. Whether transitioning from adolescence to adulthood, from being a student to working on a career, from working to retirement, or from being a tourist to becoming a traveler. Every phase of life has its own unique challenges and opportunities. It doesn’t matter how young or old you might be, life is always in flux. We are going through our own transitions at the moment and there are days that it invigorates us and other days when the stress seems to wear us down. This week’s Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge is Tombstones and Cemeteries, which is obviously the ultimate transition. Hopefully we won’t be making that transition for a long time to come, but we do find historic cemeteries to be fascinating to see.

IMGP1888

Ancient Cemetery in Ireland

IMGP1802

Cemetery in Brasov, Romania

SCAN0351

Historic Tombstone in Arlington National Cemetery in Washington DC

DSC_0090_day3

View from the Cemetery in Iceland

IMGP1891

Irish Cemetery

IMGP1799

Snow Covered Cemetery in Romania

SCAN0350

View of Arlington National Cemetery

IMGP1801

Path through the Cemetery in Brasov

DSC_0091_day3

Frozen Cemetery in Iceland

Posted in Photo Challenge | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Sampling Food in Steamboat Springs

As per usual, we mostly ate small bites while we were in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, over the weekend. There are so many restaurant options and food styles that choosing a restaurant to visit wasn’t easy. When dining in a resort area in Colorado, regardless of how upscale the restaurant may be, dress is usually casual. It is not uncommon to go to even the most expensive of restaurants and see people in jeans and sports coats, about as dressed up as people get.

IMG_5777

Casual Dining

IMG_5771

Deviled Eggs with Pickled Okra

IMG_5781

Red Curry Mussels

We enjoy finding places with different takes on classic dishes or food that we can’t necessarily find in other places. Colorado is known for its steaks and burgers, but we didn’t want anything that heavy, so we chose some simpler options. We found a restaurant that served American classics with a southern flair. The jalapeno cheese cornbread and deviled eggs with pickled okra were definitely different and certainly hit the spot.

IMG_5782

Chilled Glasses and Beer on Tap

IMG_5770

Jalapeno Cornbread

IMG_5784

Western Influenced Artwork

Colorado is also known for southwestern food, which is Mexican inspired. We enjoyed a zippy southwestern cheesesteak sandwich with sautéed poblano peppers. They also featured a variety of dishes with international influences and we enjoyed a bowl of red curry mussels that had a nice, mild heat. Sticking with the southwestern theme, we enjoyed a pork con carne burrito that was definitely large enough for the tow of us to share.

IMG_5796

Con Carne Burrito

IMG_5783

The Red Curry Sauce

IMG_5773

Relaxed Atmosphere

Unfortunately, we only had a couple of days in Steamboat Springs, so we will have to return to enjoy more of the food options that are available. There is nothing like eating food in a relaxed atmosphere where people are on vacation and no one is in a hurry to finish their meal.

Posted in Colorado, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

When is a Trail not a Trail?

IMG_2195

Walking through the River

The answer… when it is a stream, but you still have to hike through it. When we did our canopy tour in Bolivia, we had to hike through a stream and climb a waterfall just to get to the start of the zip-lining course. As far as we know, there wasn’t anything in the water that we needed to worry about, but then again, no one really talked about it. We didn’t have any other shoes with us and we were going to be trekking in the jungle the next day, so we weren’t particularly happy that our shoes were drenched with water. When we returned to our eco-lodge later that evening, we removed our shoes and our guide came up with a creative solution. There were no laundry facilities at the lodge since we were in the middle of the Amazon rainforest, so our guide took our shoes and placed the by vent of the freezer.

IMG_2215

Climbing Up

IMG_2190

The Hike Begins

We walked back to our room wearing our socks and when we got to our room, we looked down at our feet to see them covered with ants. Certainly not a pleasant sight and getting them off of our socks was not easy as they clang to them with their sharp legs. The following morning we were relieved to find that our shoes were no longer dripping wet. Considering the heat and humidity of the rainforest, our shoes would not have dried without the heat from that vent.

IMG_2212

Climbing up the Waterfall

IMG_2209

Staying in the Shallow Water

You can’t head into the jungle without expecting a few interesting stories to come from the adventure. We are hoping to return to the jungle during our trip to Ecuador that starts one month from today. For Cee’s WhichCee’s Which Way Photo Challenge Way Photo Challenge, we have chosen to share these photos of our hike through the stream in the Bolivian jungle.

Posted in Photo Challenge, South America | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments