A Travellerspoint blog

Fairbanks - Alaska

sunny -25 °C

Alaska is often referred to as the final frontier and no wonder, it is one of the northern most extremities on earth. For a traveller, what you see and experience is greatly determined by the time of year you go. In the summer it's green with blue skies, very long days and it can even be warm. Winter on the other hand is completely different, short days, ice, snow and it's cold - very cold! The main draw card for winter travel to Alaska is the Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights. A natural light display in the sky caused by the collision of energetic charged particles with atoms in the high altitude atmosphere.

The Aurora was the main driver for this trip. A trip that took some deciding on where to go and even whether to go. There are quite a few options in North America, Yellowknife and Whitehorse are both renowned viewing points in Canada. Anchorage in southern Alaska is also a good base as is Fairbanks further north. To see the northern lights, you ideally need to go between September and March, when the sky is darker. The moon position is also important, a full moon can be too bright meaning the aurora may not be seen. Therefore it's best to go when the it's a new moon. Whether or not you will see the northern lights depends on a few factors, the Aurora Borealis can vary greatly in strength. This changes dailiy, sometimes it is weak meaning it cannot be seen, and other times it's strong and therefore very bright lighting up the sky with shades of green, yellow and even red. The other factor is the weather. If there is heavy cloud, you won't see anything.

So, it's dark, extremely cold and you may not see anything. Plus the flights are expensive. Will it be worth it? There's only one way to find out! Fairbanks was decided due to it's superior position compared with Whitehorse and Anchorage and it's affordable accommodation options compared with Yellowknife. Plus the flights were on sale, I therefore booked the flight and flew from Seattle.

Was it worth it? Wow, yes. I couch-surfed at the University of Alaska which was convenient as it's the best area in Faribanks to view the lights due to the light pollution throughout the town. The university is set on top of a hill away from the city. After landing at midnight, I quickly disappeared into the night of the forest in hope to get a sight. The Aurora forecast was low however I was able to view an amazing green glow far away on the horizon, a fascinating sight. It constantly moves and can disappear at any moment.

large_Alaska_Fairbanks.jpg

Day 2 was spend exploring the town, including the Chena River and Pioneer Park which is a wonderful open air museum. This was followed by a trip to the Chena Hot Springs. The natural hot springs are 60 miles away and are home to an ice museum, restaurant, aurora viewing point and the hot springs. As the Aurora wasn't out, the hot springs were the highlight, soaking in the warmth, surrounded by icy trees and rocks, staring at the ultra clear skies all with frozen hair!

The next 3 days and nights were all cloudy with loads of snow, however there was still plenty to see and do. The Animal Research Farm was great, with Elk and the huge arctic animal - the muskox! The nearby town of North Pole was also good to see. This is where Santa Claus lives, he was busy but I was able to say hello to the reindeer.

On the final night the forecast was cloudy and the Aurora strength low...so I was now thinking that that first night was going to be the only sighting I'd have. On the walk back to the University at about 11pm however, I saw the moon. If there's cloud, I shouldn't be able to see the moon...there was only one thing for it, layer up, go for a hike, stare up into the sky and wait.

After looking for about 3 hours, the cloud started to clear and there it was. The show started. It wasn't super bright but it darted from far on the horizon to above my head and dazzled for hours. Utter silence, no wind and -25 Celsius. A captivating experience, it was breathtaking. I had to drag myself away to be back at the University by 6am, to pack and walk 1 hour to the bus, to ensure I got to the airport on time. Walking fast with a loaded pack, on ice, without sleep wasn't easy but I smiled every step of the way. What an experience.

large_Alaska_Fairbanks2.jpg

Posted by TheNomadWay.com 06.02.2014 16:00 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Canada - Three Valley Gap to Vancouver

overcast 18 °C

We were edging closer to the end of our road trip but we were still in for a treat. The Three Valley Gap town has a very good open air museum with original buildings and artifacts from British Columbia's early settler days in the 1800's. Trains, cars, old stores, workshops, you name it. A great stop off.

large_Three.jpg

After a night in Kamloops we headed back to Vancouver via 'Hell's Gate' with some spectacular scenery on the way. It's much drier in this part of British Columbia, so very different to the Rockies. The Thompson Canyon was very impressive and so was the meeting of two rivers in Lytton (check out the photo). Further along the Fraser River we arrived at Hell's Gate. A narrow passage which has been a popular salmon fishing ground for Aboriginal communities for centuries. In 1914 a large rock slide triggered by construction fell into the river at Hell's Gate, obstructing the passage of Pacific salmon needing to swim upstream to spawn. To help with this a fish way was built in 1944. Now there are huge volumes of salmon that travel 1,400km upstream from the Vancouver area! There is a cable car which unfortunately was closed when we arrived but we were able to scramble down via a trail to check out the bridge. Luckily this was the salmon spawning season so we could see up-close the masses of salmon swimming against the raging rapids. Quite a sight!

large_Hells_Gate_.jpg

We checked out the 91m long Alexandra bridge built in 1863 which was nearby and Yale before grabbing a bit to eat in Hope. Before long we found ourselves back in Vancouver. A great trip that we highly recommend!

Posted by TheNomadWay.com 09.09.2013 16:00 Archived in Canada Comments (1)

Canada - Golden to Revelstoke

sunny 18 °C

The weather was starting to turn as we departed Lake Louise and ventured towards Golden so our stop at Takakkaw Falls was a wet one! The third highest waterfall in Canada at 260m, a huge amount of water was gushing out of a fairly small spout creating masses of spray to ensure we were fully soaked. Arriving ravenous in Golden we stayed at the cosy Kicking Horse hostel and devoured a delicious meal at the very nice 'Island' restaurant. It was a fairly quick stop in Golden so we pushed on after checking out the famous Kicking Horse pedestrian bridge. There are mountains all around so it would have been great to get some mountain biking, perhaps another time! Skiing in the winter is also meant to be very good.

large_Golden.jpg

Next up was the Glacier National Park. Very very scenic. The visitor centre was excellent, showcasing some of the large local animals and we learnt about some of the railway history in the area. It was a huge task to build the railway a century ago, over and around these huge mountains with the constant danger of avalanches. We did a few short walks that start along this stretch of road checking out the original railway on the 'Loop Brook Trail', loads of boulders on the 'Rock Garden Trail', and an old growth forest at 'Hemlock Grove'. Very nice.

We rolled into Revelstoke late in the afternoon and stayed at Poppi's Hostel - a very comfortable private room hostel which is more like a B&B. An historic town we had two nights in Revelstoke, wandered the streets and checked out the wetlands by the Columbia River where supposedly hundreds of birds can be spotted - all we saw was a snake! The railway museum was very cool packed with old steam locomotives and other trains, along with old-timers who use to drive them that now volunteer their time to explain what life was like.

On our final day we went to the Revelstoke National Park and drove to the summit of Mt Revelstoke for some fantastic views. There are loads of walks up there, a great place for lunch with a view. Even better? The 26km downhill ride back to town on the mountain bike, 1,200m altitude decent - brilliant!

large_Revelstoke.jpg

Posted by TheNomadWay.com 08.09.2013 16:00 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Canada - Lake Louise

overcast 13 °C

Lake Louise is perhaps the most photographed place in the country and rightly so, it is stunning. Typically most travellers stop for a quick look, en route to Banff or Jasper but thanks to a few tips from travellers we met along the way, we booked a night at the Hi Hostel in town. Well worth it, the hostel was again more like a fancy ski lodge and this place deserves more than just a glance.

The nearby Moraine Lake is arguably more impressive than Lake Louise. The turquoise coloured glacially-fed lake is bright blue due to the refraction of light off the rock flour, which is constantly deposited into the lake. Lake Louise on the other hand is emerald in colour as it contains more rock flour. You can canoe in both and make sure you climb up the rocks at Moraine Lake to see the turquoise stand out. We saw them both on overcast and rainy days...they still looked amazing.

The other highlights here are the hiking trails, in particular the 'Plain of Six Glaciers' trail. Walk to the end of Lake Louse, and just keep going. You'll climb and climb some more up to a view of six surrounding glaciers and towering mountains. You'll get a view back down the valley to Lake Louise which looks no bigger than a puddle. Yes it was raining, yes it was cold but that just made it more fun. Plus perched near the top is the 'Plain of Six Glaciers Tea House' (summer only) - a self sufficient tea house serving tea, coffee, hot soups and lunch right by an open fire. Brilliant!

large_Lake_Louise.jpg

Posted by TheNomadWay.com 05.09.2013 16:00 Archived in Canada Comments (1)

Canada - Banff

sunny 23 °C

Part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Banff epitomises the classic travellers adventure to Canada. A quaint town that is surrounded by mountains, forests, rivers and lakes. Breathtaking views are available just about anywhere. If you're travelling on the cheap, be cautious in this part of the world (perhaps bring a tent). Hostels are pricey however they aren't really hostels...Hi Hostel Apline Centre is more like a very good ski lodge with loads of facilities.

Banff has a ski village feel with endless gift shops, cafes and hotels - perfectly setup for the 'Trafalgar Tour' crowd! We jumped on the bikes and explored the surrounding area - the Fenland Trail leads to the three Vermillion Lakes with an abundance of wildlife. In the other direction Bow River runs through the town, brilliantly blue and leads to Bow Falls which has the towering Fairmont Hotel as a backdrop. The 'Cave and Basin' natural hot springs were fascinating, with bubbling muti-coloured water and that wonderful sulfur smell!

large_7F5AE7022219AC681724F261F76477C3.jpg

On day two we took the Banff Gondola climbing up 698m to an elevation of 2,281m for some of the best views in the area. We were surrounded by mountains with great views of the town and Bow River. The mountain ridges and valleys can be seen for miles! The raised boardwalk across to Sulfur Mountain was also very 'Trafalgar' friendly, well worth it! It would be fascinating to go back in winter and see the whole area covered in snow. After checking out the Cascade Gardens we settled in for some tasty food on the balcony overlooking the main street at Athena Pizza (quality food).

If mountains and adventure float your boat, get yourself to Banff.

large_Banff2.jpg

Posted by TheNomadWay.com 04.09.2013 16:00 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Canada - Jasper to Banff

sunny 19 °C

From one national park to another, this region of Canada just keeps on giving! We made it to Alberta in Jasper National Park, an area renowned for it's wildlife including bears, elk, moose, caribou, beavers and more! What was the first thing we saw before reaching the town? No less than 3 elk hanging out by the side of the road. We were in for a treat.

The Hi Hostel Jasper was....adequate, but when you're tramping the rockies with your Mum, a 40 bed dorm is probably not ideal. It was a long weekend, accommodation in the whole town was limited, the 2 twin rooms in the hostel - booked out. Sorry Mum - but here's an experience for you! A tip, book well in advance (more than 1 month).

Jasper's a great little town, with nice cafe's, restaurants, shops and outside of all this is an abundance of mountains, lakes and loads of wildlife. We took bikes north of the town and explored Cottonwood Slough and the stunning Patricia Lake before cruising back to south of the town where there are paths that run by a myriad of waterways. The Fairmont Hotel and golf course (scattered throughout Canada) was also nice to check out. We rode deeper into the addictive wilderness - despite the bear warning signs!

large_Jasper_Banff.jpg

Having the car allowed us to spend day two visiting some really cool sights:
- The Maligne Canyon with sculpted rock formations which in winter has many frozen waterfalls.
- Medicine Lake, which baffled locals for centuries. It fills up during winter then empties during summer - without any connecting visible streams or rivers. It turns out, it actually drains like a bathtub through the world longest underground stream.
- Maligne Lake, most likely any post card from Jasper will feature this lake. We were lucky enough to spot more elk as well as a large grizzly bear feasting on some berries!

The road from Jasper to Banff is often referred to as the most beautiful drive on the planet, National Geographic rated it in their top ten. Our view? They were right. We probably stopped 50 times along the way, endless mountain ridges, valleys, waterfalls, mountain goats. Incredible stuff. Some gems were:
- Athabasca Falls
- Sunwapta Falls
- Columbia Icefields - for some glacier trekking!
- Peyto Lake

If you get a chance, just go.

large_Jasper_Banff_Canada.jpg

Posted by TheNomadWay.com 01.09.2013 16:00 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Canada - Kamloops to Mt Robson National Park

overcast 14 °C

The next leg of our two and a bit week trip wound north of Whistler towards Mt Robson National Park with a night in Kamloops. We thought renting a car was the best way to do it and considering the dozens of stops we did along the way we were right! Across the South American continent bus travel is extensive, cheap and very frequent...Canada? Not so much.

Renting, buying or loaning a car really is the only option. You can go where you want, when you want and stop as often as you like. There were some really great things to see along the this route including Nairn Falls, Joffe Lakes (stunning), Duffey Lake, Hat Creek Ranch before we arrived in Kamloops. The mountains, lakes and viewing points were around every corner, breathtaking stuff.

large_CanadaJoffre.jpg

Kamloops Guesthouse was the best budget option in the town and Gary was a great host who gave us plenty of info for the next leg. The rain eased up as we wound our way further north into Wells Gray Provincial park and explored Spahats Falls. The viewing point allows you to peer over the 80m sheer drop and horseshoe shaped canyon. The falls themselves at at around 60m and pour there way through a small opening in the canyon. Well worth checking out, and their only 10km off the main highway.

Good pub food and a night in a tipi at Blue River Campground was a new experience and the following day we made it to Canada's highest peak...Mt Robson which sits at 3,954m. Draped in glaciers, it towers above anything else in the region and it would have been great to hike the Berg Lake trail all the way to the Berg Glacier but it was 21km one way...42km in one day? Not happening! The 12km return hike along the Robson River to the calm blue Kinney Lake was fantastic, especially with Mt Robson's reflection. The rainforest is actually the worlds only inland temperate rainforest, a wonderful place. You should go if you can!

large_CanadaMtRobson.jpg

Posted by TheNomadWay.com 29.08.2013 17:00 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Canada - Whistler

sunny 24 °C

Since arriving in Canada we've explored in and around Vancouver as well as some of Vancouver Island and when family came over it was time to see what else was on offer in British Columbia and the Rockies in Alberta! It has involved two trips to Whistler, which most noted for it's fantastic skiing...we hit it up in summer and found that there is still loads to do.

It's a resort town only about 2 hours north of Vancouver, home to many of the winter Olympic events from 2010. It has a great feel with loads of restaurants and bars - a popular destination for Vancouverites and always seems to have a real buzz about it. Modern buildings and facilities in a stunning setting, flanked by Whistler Mountain, Blackcomb and others - very impressive. Summer activities could keep you busy for weeks, there's an info book which actually lists 99 things to do in Whistler - unfortunately we couldn't pack them all in. Some highlights:

- Taking the chair lift to the top of Blackcomb mountain, followed by the new 'Peak to Peak' gondola which stretches all the way across to Whistler mountain. It holds the record for the longest free span between towers and the highest point above the ground - 465m!
- Hiking the High Note Trail, which loops around Whistler mountain for 360 degree views of the entire area including Cheakamus lake.
- Mountain Biking on the wide range of trails around Lost Lake, world class!
- More mountain biking at Whistlers Mountain bike park which has over 200km of lift serviced gravity fed downhill mountain biking! Well worth the lift pass, just make sure you have the right gear! (Paul looked slightly out of place going up with an old school bike, lack of armor and regular non-full face helmet!)
- Emerald lake, picturesque and very emerald!

All that plus the plethora of dining options and the hostels are good too. We stayed at Fireside lodge which was great and the Hi Hostel was home to the Olympic Athletes when they competed in 2010. Hope we can get back to see what it's like in winter...

large_Whistler.jpg

Posted by TheNomadWay.com 26.08.2013 17:00 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Life in a new country, living in our International House

sunny 23 °C

This happened the other day...

Scene: sitting on the deck about to share some pasta for dinner, and we had just baked some muffins.

Pietro: "What's a cup?"
Paul: "You mean where's a cup? Over there"
Pietro: "No what is a cup?"
Paul: "This" (holding one)
Pietro: "Yes but what is it?"
Paul: "A cup?"
Pietro: "How much is it?"
Paul: "A few dollars...why?"
Pietro: "No how much is it? Is it different to a bowl?"
Paul: "I've no idea what you mean, probably the same price"
Pietro: "We don't have cups in Italy"
Paul: "Yeah you do, maybe you just call them glasses or mugs?"
Pietro: "No, we only use grams"
Paul: "Grams? What do you mean??"

Pietro was actually wanting to know how many milliliters a cup is, for cooking! Just one example of many that always lead to a laugh.

What is one of the great things about travelling and living in a foreign country? The people you meet. Vancouver'ites are great and a very international bunch and the share-house we've landed in has been full of people from across the globe. We've had a great few months with housemates from Colombia, Italy, India Canada and Korea. We'd all have a conversation in English yet due to the varied accents (and varied levels of knowledge of the language) we'd often come to a completely different conclusion as to what the conversation was actually about!

9366602351_72edaa99cc_b.jpg

It's amazing how you can spend years at home, have pals and meet people yet it's not that often you 'click' with people who become long-term friends. Travellers who meet other travellers generally seem to click and you can make life long friends over the space of a few weeks or even a few days.

Our varied background and thirst for exploration fueled our passion for exploring. We had a great time visiting the local watering holes, climbing mountains, cycling, kayaking and becoming 'pro's' at ultimate Frisbee. With different eating habits, we also experienced new ways of cooking and sampled food you just don't get everyday.

We've settled into the Vancouver life pretty nicely. Summer is here - long warm sunny days and there seems to be so much going on in the city. Canada Day, Gastown Bike Grand Prix, Latin America festival, the Vancouver Folk Music Festival, Italian Day - the list goes on. The city has come to life and the Canadian's just love getting out and exercising however they can, biking, long boarding, jogging.

It's rewarding to share time with people from a completely different background which has given us a refreshed perspective on life. You learn first hand about other cultures, their history, up-bringing, their passions and sports.

Travelling to a new country, greeting tourist information, a hostel receptionist, meeting a few other western travellers and sightseeing just scrapes the surface of how rewarding travelling can be. So get in amongst it where you can! Look up Couchsurfing and Airbnb to have a surefire way into meeting locals!

And to our house buddies, thanks Peitro, Adeeb & Byeongsu! Live life The Nomad Way.

9369381536_43337d4da0_b.jpg

Posted by TheNomadWay.com 25.07.2013 22:52 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Vancouver so far...

sunny 18 °C

Well we're 3 months into life in Vancouver, the weather has changed from raining and cold to long and sometimes sunny days and it is quite spectacular. The ocean, the harbour, waterways, the snow capped mountain backdrop and the city itself. Manicured green lawns and gardens, it's all very modern, clean and completely livable.

If anything it may be too neat and does lack the culture of some other cities. Everything is pretty tame and we haven't yet found the real heart and vibe of the city - after spending a year in Latin America it's quite a contrast. The most popular thing to do is walk, run, cycle or do yoga - everyone seems very healthy and fit.

We have moved twice and are now getting settled after spending the first two months in a short term share house. We've stayed with people from Japan, USA, Switzerland, Germany, UK, Colombia, Korea, India, Canada and Italy! One of our faves was a 60 something year old French Canadian Orthodontist who we cooked up big Sunday roasts with - a food and culture we've missed!

large_Canada3.jpg

We've both got ourselves a bike - the best way to explore Vancouver which is a very bike friendly city. We've taken some time out from the job hunt, which for Paul has included time back behind a coffee machine pumping out Canadian style latte's (BIG!) and some freelance marketing. There's a great coffee culture here, more than any other Canadian city and similar to our hometown of Melbourne.

We had a great trip to Vancouver Island over Easter, where we were put up in a beautiful hilltop apartment by a friend we met travelling (thanks Marie). The scenery is a world apart - rugged pebbled ocean fronts, towering green pine trees, we were only 100kms away from where the Twilight movies were filmed - so imagine that sort of scenery, I felt like I was about to come across a vampire or ware wolf in the misty forest!

We have, of course, visited the Canadian mega chain café Tim Hortons - who can say no to a tasty soup and bagel on a cold day? This chain along with Starbucks is on almost every other corner of downtown! The accent?? Well I think we've almost got used to it, and the fact that Vancouver is made up of a whopping 52% of foreigners means we've got to meet people from loads of other cultures.

As the year progresses we hope to explore more of this new country and we're looking forward to popping over the boarder to Seattle to experience our first time on American soil in the coming months!

large_Canada4.jpg

Posted by TheNomadWay.com 27.05.2013 23:24 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Hello Vancouver!

overcast 7 °C

We've made it to Canada, and it's great! After the last 13 months on the road, living out of backpacks, catching hundreds of buses over roads we never want to see again, sleeping in a multitude of hostels/guesthouses/couches/tents/boats/hammocks and having fried bread with cheese as the staple food on offer it's a welcome change to be in western civilisation again. Although the many people we've met and adventures we've had along the way will never be matched. I think Paul could keep travelling forever, but for me, I'm enjoying being in the one place for a while.

Whilst choosing which part of Canada to live in, there are obviously loads of options but the most common recommendation we had? Vancouver. Better climate than the freezing east of Quebec and Toronto, we don't need to speak French. Vancouver has an easy going, active lifestyle, incredible scenery, and it is situated right on the ocean with surrounding islands and flanked by a huge array of mountains and national parks to explore.

large_DSCN8705.jpg

I'm still smiling thinking of the house we're staying in (booked on airbnb.com) with a clean bathroom, HOT water for showers, central heating and we can drink the water from the taps - luxury! What's more, the WiFi is actually fast enough to use the Skype camera to video call home (for the first time on our trip!). It's also the first time in 13 months that we have been in an English speaking country, imagine just being able to go up to someone and ask a question, without having to pre-think it out in Spanish, and get it wrong anyway! Life has suddenly become much simpler.

The thing that has given us the most amusement is, when we have been waiting to cross the road (pedestrian crossing or not), cars are actually STOPPING to give way to us! Even if there was a pedestrian crossing in South America, it was never a given that the cars would stop – you just had to pick the best time to run across.

Vancouver is a modern city, surrounded by water and looming snow-capped mountains to the north. This side of Canada is just thawing out from the winter, and we're look forward to getting into the Canadian way of life and exploring the great outdoors when the weather is a little warmer. However for now, our focus is on finding work to build up the bank balance again...the job hunt BEGINS!

large_Canada.jpg

Posted by TheNomadWay.com 16.04.2013 12:54 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Mexico - Mexico City

sunny 24 °C

Our last Latin American city! We both have mixed feelings and like anything amazing, we don't want it to end. However, it has been a long time on the road, so some routine will be nice as we venture to a new city to look for work and live in Vancouver, Canada.

Mexico city is massive. One of the largest cities in the world and we had just 3 days to explore it. It's safe to say we jammed loads into our 3 days and despite being completely wiped by the end, loved Mexico City. We stayed in Mexico City Hostel, a great hostel in a large, restored old building situated on the corner of the main plaza of the old town. Our first day was spent wandering the old town and tucking into some famously tasty soft tacos. They city surprised us by being very clean and full of fantastic old colonial architecture. The Cathedral Metrapolitano was impressive and the largest we've seen on this entire trip, the old post office was also beautiful, and the building of education, with it's walls inside covered in all sorts of murals.

large_Mexico.jpg

We booked in a couple of day trips through our hostel to visit some of the sights on the outskirts of Mexico City. The first was to the Mexican "Pyramids." The vast Teotihuacan ruins are comprised of two large pyramid structures, amongst ancient houses and large roads. It was constructed around 250AD, from red volcanic rock and was once home to over 100,000 people. The altitude and dry weather this time of year in Mexico meant it was hard work climbing the pyramids, but well worth it for the great views out across the ruins.

Xochimilco was contrastingly different trip which we took on our final day in Mexico. We discovered that Mexico city used to be a large shallow lake, drained by the Spanish invaders 500 years ago, which explains why a lot of the city is slowly sinking! There is a small area which remains as a network of canals, 80km long that you can float down in a colourful wooden boats whilst being served traditional Mexican food and Corona beers of course. The rivers are used by many locals and are a lovely place to spend a few quiet hours. We also visited Latin America's oldest university and the Olympic stadium.

On the way to Xochimilco we stopped off in the suburb of Coyoacan - which used to be a small town, but has now been engulfed into the sprawling Mexico City. It was full of gorgeous cobbled streets and plazas, and we visited the Casa Azul (Blue House) which belonged the famous Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. The house has been turned into a museum honoring the memory and work of the artist, a great place to spend a couple of hours.

The view from the 44the floor of Torre Latinoamericana was a great way to see just how big Mexico City is. We loved the view at sunset, and after the sun went down we got to watch the city light up beneath us.

large_Mexico_.jpg

Posted by TheNomadWay.com 19.03.2013 10:29 Archived in Mexico Comments (1)

Cuba - Varadero

23 °C

Varadero is on the north Caribbean Coast and draws tourists visiting Cuba on pre-packaged holidays to relax in the sunshine and resorts. Although there is a beautiful beach and many nice resorts, Varadero doesn't have much else going for it except for the weather. And yes you've guessed it, the day we arrived it turned stormy and rained constantly, so we didn't see a glimmer of blue Caribbean sea. We were confined to the hop on hop off bus which took us down the long peninsular, lined by numerous complexes and resorts.

Sally and I headed to a great salsa class, where we learnt some moves with our very enthusiastic instructor. Meanwhile Paul went to explore some caves on the peninsular where he discovered hundreds of bats hiding out! In the evening we headed into a nearby resort and enjoyed a cabaret show and some ridiculously cheap cocktails...mmm! On our way back to Havana Paul stopped off at Matanzas to explore, where he was lucky enough to stumble across a local baseball game which he loved watching with some enthusiastic supporters.

We then returned to Havana for our last couple of days in Cuba. We stayed in a different Casa Particular, with another friendly family and explored the city a little more, including some restaurants, live music and lots of trips in the old car colectivos – 50 cents to go anywhere in the city they're headed!

It's been a great few weeks in Cuba with Paul's sister joining us on the road! However, we're pretty excited about getting back to modern-day conveniences and our next few days in Mexico City...

large_Varadero.jpg

Posted by TheNomadWay.com 19.03.2013 10:17 Archived in Cuba Comments (0)

Cuba - Santa Clara

26 °C

We headed back west again, and to break up the journey we stopped for the night in Santa Clara. This town is the place where Che Guevara took down an ammunition train, and therefore began the control of the Cuban Revolution along with Fidel Castro. Although this happened a good 50 something years ago (in December 1958), it is a hugely important part of Cuba's history, as they continue to be governed by Fidel Castro's brother Raul. The majority of Cuba's population are living on extremely low wages and rely on ration shops for the bulk of their food.

We were able to visit the site of the train derailment and battle, which has been turned into a place marking the uprising of the Cuban Revolution. Next we took a horse and carriage to the other side of town, which is one of the main modes of public transport in Santa Clara. We jumped out around the corner from the Che Guevara Monument and Mausoleum, and we visited the interesting museum which is housed underneath the statue.

We were also in luck when looking for a place for dinner, and got directed around corner and up a few flights of stairs by a friendly foreigner living in Santa Clara. We found ourselves on a small terrace overlooking the town in a restaurant called El Sol, where we had some of the best food we'd had since arriving in Cuba.

After a few days of sunshine we decided to head to coastal town of Varadero to check out the Caribbean coast.

large_Santa_Clara.jpg

Posted by TheNomadWay.com 19.03.2013 10:16 Archived in Cuba Comments (0)

Cuba - Camagüey

28 °C

A few more hours on a bus and we arrived Camaguey, as far east as we were going in Cuba. Camaguey is a beautiful bustling town with old buses puffing out fumes down the narrow windy streets. We took a cyclo ride to explore the maze of streets, and our friendly driver Christian showed us around the numerous hidden plazas, winding streets and parks in Camaguey. Although it is inland, the complex streets were designed to confuse invaders, in case the town was taken over by pirates (as was the case with many coastal towns at the time!)

large_Camaguey1476317878.jpg

The house and art gallery of Joel Jover and his wife Ileana Sánchez, on the main plaza (Parque Ignacio Agramonte) was a nice spot to pop into, and the large church on the opposite side of the plaza was a peaceful spot to sit and relax amongst the bustling town.

One night we unassumingly bought tickets to the theatre, with no idea of what was actually on, it turned out to be one of Cuba's largest pop stars (Carlos Varela). The theatre turned into a pumping venue full of young Cuban music fanatics. The band was great, with some very skilled musicians, including his astonishing pianist (see video clip below)!

Posted by TheNomadWay.com 05.03.2013 13:51 Archived in Cuba Comments (0)

(Entries 1 - 15 of 104) Page [1] 2 3 4 5 6 7 »