Escaping the everyday life with photographs from my travels
The Iguazu Falls at the boarder of Argentina and Brazil are such an overwhelming natural spectacle, that I had to look up everything in the internet to somehow understand, what on earth is happening there.
The Iguazu River and the Paraná River confluence to an enormous river before 1,756 m3 water per second crash down the edge of 2700 m of the Paraná Plateau in 275 falls of 60 to 85 m hight. At the U-shaped edge of 150 m – the “Garganta del Diabolo” (engl. devil’s throat) – half of the river’s flow drops down. Standing at this edge, it is unimaginable, that these masses of water never ever stop running down this edge. The power and speed of the water is like a meditation. A natural spectacle which disables your brain to think about anything else, but what you see and here in this very moment. Looking at this masses of water running down the edge, it is hard to just know, that – unless the source of the river dries – the waterfalls will never run out of water. It’s just such masses of water per second, that you cannot picture, these falls have been running for hundreds of years and probably will be four another couple of hundreds. It is one of the times when reality is beyond imagination.
If you ever plan to visit this place, I can highly recommend to spoil yourself with a stay at one of the beautiful apartments of the Jungle Lodge in Puerto Iguazú.
As much as I hated going for a walk or tracking when I was young, I am loving it today. Maybe I did not have to trick my body with a challenging workout and a breathtaking nature, to stop thinking things over and over. Kids still hold the precious gift to live here and now – neither wasting their thoughts with the past nor the future.
If you wish to stop thinking for a couple of days and happen to travel northern Argentina, I can really recommend a unique 2 day track crossing the picturesque mountains of the Salta area. Iruya is the village you want to start from. Situated at the end of a two hours dirt road ride in the mountains, you will feel as if you were at the very end of the world. From here you can find a local guide, who will help you track the tiny paths over the mountains to San Juan (a village with no electricity and 50 people) to San Isidiro (electricity since 2010 and 250 people).
The paths are steep and tiny, so you will mostly have to really watch every step – and at times might need your guide’s hand to help you cross more difficult paths. As it is between 2700 and 3500 m hight, everything is “muy despacio”. People walk and act very slowly. There is no hurry, no schedule but endless time and views. You will feel the energy of the earth which once created the mountains and craters and inhale the unbelievable colors of the mountains which seem to be painted red, yellow, green, pink and blue.
If you look for a perfect place to spoil yourself before and after the track, you might want to check out Hotel Iruya overlooking the entire village.
Traveling Brazil I saw toucans for the first time in the wild. It’s fascinating and wired as it seem as if they just escaped from a Walt Disney cartoon into reality. They make a funny noise which makes it easier to spot them and have a gentle and unique style of flying or rather gliding through the air.
The romantic admiration got smashed the second I saw this “lovely” bird attacking another bird in flight. I guess I forgot, that they were not equipped with this bill for no reason…
Angkor in Cambodia is one of the most stunning areas I traveled. Angkor means “city” in the Khmer language and is famous for its numerous wats (engl. temples) which were built in this area. The most famous temple – Angkor Wat – is a mayor symbol in Cambodia, pictured in the national flag and various bills.
Besides the size of the area, the tiny designs on each temple are breathtaking. Even today it is hard to imagine how all the carvings ,which are still there, were made. Yet, to picture what the temples looked like years ago, before most of the temples were destroyed, is absolutely beyond imagination.
Since Angkor is built in the jungle area, nature is about to fight back its territory. Large fig trees seem to embrace the temples and bring them back to a mystic place – pictures which have become famous around the globe. This scenery which seems between myth and reality has inspired the producer of Tomb Rider to produce parts of the movie there. Tomb Rider and Angelina Jolie made this place even more famous and the people of the area are proud to talk about these days.
For years different, projects continuously restore the temples and also make sure that nobody pretends to be Lara Croft, climbing the temples.
If you ever plan to see this area – take your time. It’s huge and exhausting as it can be really really hot. I’d suggest to spend at least three full days here – preferably more.
Still today, lighthouses somehow give me the same smile and energy like they did when I was a child. I am excited, I am loving it and …. I feel tiny. I love lighthouses, since there is a special romance to them… in the morning, in the daytime and at night. Any Season. Always.
Kapalai Resort is a breathtaking place in the midst of the Celebes Sea close to the northern part of Borneo. Since we knew it was built on a sand bar, we expected something like an island. Yet, erosion took the sand bar down and Kapalai became a water village. It is a perfect spot for divers since it is only 15 minutes away from Sipadan – one of the top 10 dive spots in the world.
Kapalai seems to be an unreal place as it is surrounded by nothing but turquoise water and an endless sky. No noise except for some boots bringing new people to the resort twice a day. Apart from diving and snorkeling there is really nothing to do but relaxing and enjoying the beauty of the place.
Besides being super lucky to get a dive permit for Sipadan during my stay (make sure you arrange this in advance!!) I absolutely loved my bath tub. As the picture shows, I could see the ocean around me, feel the breeze of the ocean while sitting in a hot bath. It was by far the best bathing experience ever.
So if you are still looking for a perfect honeymoon spot… that’s the one. And even without a honeymoon, it feels as if, I can tell :-).
There are special views in every city, those which give us a deep breath and an endless view. They feel like home to your souls. Sometimes we have to give up these places… yet we will never forget the feeling we got from it.
Since I had to give up that beautiful view for ever lately, I decided to write a commemorial post to my friends balcony-view, where me and my friends spent lots of joyful evenings of friendship, wine & delicious meals.
The history of the world famous Casinos of Monte Carlo goes back to 1854, when Monaco’s government had to come up with a plan to fill up the little state’s treasury. Nine years later, prince Charles III. had managed to find the right people and location to build a casino. This is why the area around the casino was named after him – Quartier de Monte Carlo.
Two James Bond movies took place in the casino of Monte Carlo (“Never Say Never again” and “Golden Eye”) as well as the Alfred Hitchcock movie “To Catch a Thief” with Grace Kelly as an actress. This movie shows a “faithful” scene, with Grace Kelly pacing her car dangerously along the costal road – a scene which would be repeated years later in true life, when Grace Kelly died in a car accident on one of these costal streets.
Before the disastrous news had been public, the people of Monte Carlo could feel that something dreadful had happened, since for the first time ever the lights of the casino were turned off.
A lot of times when I am back home working, I realize how hard it is, to enjoy the very moment. To stop thinking about future challenges, endless “To-Do” lists or to re-think the past.
Traveling different countries, I often see (mostly) men sitting in the streets and fields doing nothing, but sitting somewhere enjoying the very moment. Like this Mexican man, reading the newspaper in the morning sun of Tuxtla.
It reminds me, that at times we have to stop the wheel and get back to doing just one thing at a time. Just be with friends, just talk over the phone, simply get from A to B, etc. , but not to do it all at once. It is a challenge to stop the pace and it is a gift to get back the inner peace. It is really an achievement to get rid of external distractions and temptations, in order to simply do and enjoy what we are doing right now.
Although every season has it’s own beauty, summer feels most comforting to me. Everybody is enjoying things he or she has been waiting for throughout the cold days of the year. The ladies are finally wearing skirts and sandals, people are jogging in shorts and T-Shirt and the city is full of bikes and smiling people. Cafes, Beach Clubs, parks or any kind of waterfront are full of smiling people bathing in the warmth of the sun like reptiles rebooting their energy.
To me summer, in Hamburg starts when I see all the charming white sailing boats on the river Alster in the middle of the city. With the wind in their sail they gently cross the river and draw a beautiful picture on the city. Sitting at the water’s edge with a drink watching the sun set seemed to be one of the most relaxing things to do.
I am sure everyone has several summer spots in his or her city which feel like the perfect spot to reboot energy. To me these locations are vacation spots in my beloved home town.
Palio di Siena is one of the most dangerous horse races in the world. Twice a year 10 out of 17 “contrades” (districts of Siena) compete against each other on the Piazza del Campo in Siena, Italy. 10 jockeys race bareback in the traditional dresses three laps on the sand covered ground of the piazza.
The night before, people are eating and drinking together in their districts on the streets. The next morning, the horses are blessed in the churches and the contrade’s people walk through the streets of their districts to the piazza. After various celebrations it took around 45 min just to start the horses, since the jockeys were playing back and forth with their competitors’ and their horses’ nerves.
The winner will be the contrade, whose horse is first, after 3 laps. It doesn’t matter, if the jockey is still on the horse’s back or not. You will see in the movie, that two horses lost their jockey
Friends of mine stayed at agritourism places in Sardinia, tasting Italy’s best food and wine every day. They were overwhelmed, when they came back. Ever since, I was looking far a vacation like that. Finally my boyfriend came up with the idea, to travel Tuscany, Italy, just for a few days and stay in a agritourism place. We found Villa il Castagno – just a 10 min car-ride outside Siena – on the internet and enjoyed every single minute at the place. Ana, the renter is a lovely and caring person, organizing anything we would ask for.
In the mornings we went running through the vineyards and Tuscan villages, in the afternoon I stayed at the pool for hours reading books, which I had not done for too long. Around me fields, flowers and a blue cloudless sky. In the evenings we enjoyed the chef’s lovely food and very tasty Chianti vine.
If you ever need a “time-out” and really need to relax for a couple of days, I felt this was one of the best energizers I could think of.
Lago de Atitlàn is a lake in Guatemala which I visited with a friend of mine on a six weeks trip. Somehow we felt quite insecure in that region, since we had heard some cruel stories, which had happened recently.
One day we were sitting on the shore of the lake when a priest came along and started telling us crazy things about airplanes flying into skyscrapers… We thought he was pretty wired. After a while we went to an internet cafe and saw people starring at the TV screens – very slowly we realized, what had happened. It was 9/11.
All of a sudden we started to realize that any place can be dangerous. Yet, all we can do, is follow our instincts and leave as soon as we have an awkward feeling in our stomach.
Ever since this day, times have changed. We grew up knowing, that things like that can happen any time. We can no longer count on “safe” places. There are people full of hate, desperation and cruelty planing
and undertake such horrifying massacres.
Everybody has his personal 9/11 story and I bet 90% know, where they spend this day.
I believe, that this cruelty has formed a connection between many many people from hundreds of different cultures who do their very best for a peaceful and respectful living and being of humans on this planet.
I found this picture in my photo album from a trip to Portugal in 2000. Looking at the picture, I see pure freedom. I feel the heat on my skin and the wind in my hair standing at the cliff; the view to the endless ocean.
To me it’s a perfect weekend-escape and it could be anywhere. Some weekends I just feel like packing a small bag, get a car or my bike and go somewhere. Leave things behind and go, where I can breath tons of fresh air and enjoy an endless view as the wind blows around me.
For this escape, I don’t have to book a trip to Portugal, I simply works out with the “Portuguese Weekend Escape” in mind.
I have always loved this flower, which we call “Tränendes Herz” in German (translated to Engl. watery heart), since it just looks lovely and the name is charming and absolutely perfect.
Only today I learned, that in English it is called “Lady in a bath” since if you turn the flower around after it opened up a bit, it looks exactly as if a graceful lady arose from her foamy bath.
It is hard to say, which name suits this admirable flower best…I guess it is a matter of perception. To me the two names make this flower even more special. I’m lovin it :-)
… Thanks to Bebs’ comment I learned, that it is commonly called “Bleeding Heart”, … I guess I prefer to just turn all the flowers upside down, to see many many gentle ladies enjoying their playful foamy baths.
Three years ago, my boyfriend and I stepped into an art gallery in Como, Italy, and got caught of a woman looking at us with her water-like blue eyes from an almost 2 x 2 meter painting. Talking to the gallery owner, we got to know, these expressive paintings were created by Harding Meyer, a German artist born in Porto Alegre, Brazil.
Looking for him online, we learned, that he has been painting loads of different faces with his very unique technique (most of them oil on canvas). Getting in touch with him online, we found out, that he lives just 10 min away from my parents’ house. Isn’t it fascinating how things come together at times?
This morning we got on our bikes and went to see him in his studio and living house. Stepping into his house, felt as if we stepped into another world with him as a personal guide taking us by his hand through his art life and art pieces. The world around us stopped as we immerged into an intense conversation about the evolution of several peaces. I felt overwhelmed by all the art pieces made by him. All this faces looking at me, as I turned around in the studio. Every face with a story I didn’t know. Strangers, which did not really feel strange.
This really made our Sunday. Thank you Mr. Meyer.
Coober Pedy is a fascinating place. This tiny village of just around 1700 inhabitants is the world’s largest opal resource. It is located along the famous Stuart Highway of 2700 km length, connecting north and south of the country.
To me, driving through the Outback with a non-air-conditioned Mazda bus was a great adventure. Some people say, there is nothing to see in the Outback… but I just loved it’s colors, slightly changing landscapes and the endless 360 view. It’s a perfect opportunity to calm down mentally, since your eyes and ears get the rare chance to really relax.
Coober Pedi derives from the Aboriginal word “kupa piti”, meaning white “man’s whole”. Due to the heat, people live an work in underground residences, which are called “dugouts”. You will even find a the below-ground church in this very special town.
Hopefully, the area was and will be able keep it’s charm – which I got to know when I was there 10 years ago – despite the tourists coming along.
I just found this picture, which my lovely friend Conny took on a trip in Tanzania. After a couple of weeks on vacation, I usually get back the energy and the playfulness of a child. This picture reminds me of the fact, that we should never stop playing around and instead enjoy doing things that don’t really matter. Just for the fun of it.
In my everyday life I have to create these playful moments, since sometimes I forget to step out of my fully scheduled days. Looking at this picture, I get back the energy and freedom I felt, jumping of that piece of wood.
A couple of weeks ago, I went on a beautiful spring walk along the river Elbe in Hamburg, when the cruise ship Queen Victoria left the harbor. It was a silent, sunny and imposing atmosphere, when the huge vessel passed by.
Waving “goodbye” to people I did not even know and seeing them waving back at the cruise’s rails, was a touching moment. Maybe because I myself love the moment of leaving for a traveling adventure.
But also, since it seemed as if I could see them smiling. It reminded me of myself, when I was a little girl, waving at foreigners out of my parents’ car to raise a smile on their faces and to make them wave back.
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