Weekly Travel Photo: Towering Over Dusseldorf, Germany

I’m back in Europe now, so I thought I would show a photo from the beginning of my Africa road trip.  My brother and I flew to Johannesburg from Dusseldorf, Germany.

One of our oldest friends was living there as an expat, so we were fortunate enough to spend the night with him and get a tour of the city.  (Or should I say, the city’s brewhouses!)

The highlight was the view from the top of the Rheinturm (Rhine Tower), a 240.5 m high telecommunications tower.  It’s a lovely city with a relaxed vibe.  Hopefully I’ll return someday.

Weekly Travel Photo: Langa Township, Cape Town

This week, my brother and I are finishing up our three-week self-driven road trip through southern Africa.  We’re in Cape Town at the moment, and today we spent our final day visiting some of the townships here.

The first photo was in Langa township at a shack that acts as a shebeen.  Here they serve umqombothi, a maize beer that the owners brew themselves.  A fire just outside the entrance was maintained to brew the beer, and the smoke seeped in while we drank.  This place is especially popular on the weekends, when crowds of men will sit here to drink and dance.

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Photo Friday: Street Art in Valparaíso, Chile

Photo Friday: Street Art in Valparaíso, Chile

If you’re looking for quality street art in South America, there are three stops you must add to your itinerary: Bogotá, Buenos Aires, and  Valparaíso.

Tucked on the coastal hills of central Chile, “Valpo” — as it’s affectionately known — is one of Chile’s oldest and most important fishing and shipping ports.  For tourists, it makes an attractive day trip or long-term backpacker hangouts.  Valpo is filled with hostels, small boutiques, and plenty of restaurants, (including many healthy options).  But the main draw of the city is its colours!  Valpo is filled with street art, and even most of the residential houses are brightly painted.  One of the best ways to spend your time there is to take a long walk through the hills to admire all of surrounding artwork.

Make sure you take a stroll past Pablo Neruda’s Valparaíso home.  It’s one of the three residences that the poet maintained in Chile.

 

Photo Friday: Funicular in Lisbon

Photo Friday: Funicular in Lisbon

A year ago today, I was wandering the colorful alleyways of Lisbon.  It’s the kind of city in which you can spend the entire day just exploring; there is so much to see and so much going on all the time.

One of the unique features of the city is its tram and funicular system.  There are three funiculars in the old town, which lead up to various miradores (lookout points).  This funicular is the Gloria Funicular.  It began operation in 1885 and links the downtown area with Bairro Alto (an old, but now trendy neighbourhood full of bars and restaurants).

 

Photo Friday: St. Patrick’s Day 2012

Photo Friday: St. Patrick’s Day 2012

One thing on everyone’s bucket list (at least anyone from a Commonwealth country) has got to be celebrating St. Patrick’s Day at its roots.

Since we’re more than just a hop across the pond, we Canadians have to improvise.  We dress in green (and pinch anyone who can’t prove that at least their underwear has a hint of the colour), and flock to the local pub.  Whether it’s Kelly’s, O’Malley’s, O’Byrne’s or the Druid, there is no shortage of Irish watering holes.  These places are packed with people sporting “Kiss Me, I’m Irish” buttons and downing pints of green beer or Guinness.

Yet last year I had the opportunity to test out the real experience.  I flew to Dublin on the afternoon of March 17th, and arrived in the middle of all the madness.  At least I was already wearing green, but I was at least four or five pints behind the person I had come to meet!

That however, is a story for another day (Sunday… just you wait).  Today’s photo comes from the aftermath of it all: unwinding and recovering from a hangover while hiking along the cliffs of Howth peninsula, an area that’s a suburb of Dublin.

Every wild party deserves a peaceful, beautiful ending!

Photo Friday: Iguazu Waterfalls, Brazil

Photo Friday: Iguazu Waterfalls, Brazil

There’s not much to say about my photo of the week this week; I think it speaks for itself.  I took this panorama in May on the Brazilian side of Iguazu Falls.  The waterfalls are situated between three countries: Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay.  In my opinion, the Argentinian side is the most impressive, but this side gives you an overall impression of the park.  If you have time, I highly recommend spending a day on both the Argentinian and Brazilian sides.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Valentine’s Day.  To my Canadian (Albertan) followers: enjoy your Family Day long weekend!

As for me, time to shut off my computer and head back to work…

 

Photo Friday: Team Laundry Day — Lisbon, Portugal

Photo Friday: Team Laundry Day — Lisbon, Portugal

It’s not the Eiffel tower, nor the Taj Mahal.  It’s not Times Square, nor the Mall of America.  No, it’s the little things that make travel interesting.  It’s those signs that, everywhere, people live.  They go to school, work, marry, have children, and between all of that — they play.

I fell in love with Lisbon because it doesn’t try to be something it’s not.  While it has its share of monuments, ruins, and churches, it also embraces its identity as a centuries-old port city.

As I wandered through the steep, winding alleys of Bairro Alto, I lost myself in another world.  I passed colourful, crumbling walls, hordes of cats, and windows filled with old senhoras hanging out the day’s laundry.  It gave me the feeling that time was simultaneously standing still, and chugging forward at the same, familiar pace.

 

Photo Friday: Escape — Cancun, Mexico

Photo Friday: Escape — Cancun, Mexico

I took this photo on the shores of Isla de las Mujeres in Cancun back in October.  I was saving it for the coldest, most miserable week in January, knowing that it would be the perfect mental escape from the bitter Canadian winter.

It seems like this has been the right week for it.  Two days ago, I woke up to a wind chill factor of -43 Celsius.  

My poor brother had to arrive home from Thailand in this weather, a temperature change of an astounding 80 degrees.

The last couple of days, I’ve trudged through piles of snow, cursed the car that refused to start, and ran as fast as I could from the bus stop to the front door.  Yet at that same time, I’ve gone to dance class, to job interviews, and watched everyone around me continue on their normal routine.  I even still watched a crowd of smokers huddle outside the library and puff on cigarettes that struggled to stay lit.

When you’re Canadian, you may complain about the cold, but you still live through it.  You may desire a break from it all, a chance to jet off to Mexico or Cuba or the Dominican.  Maybe you actually will.

But, if you are “stuck” at home, don’t worry.  There are still opportunities for your own winter escape, right in your backyard.

For some stunning footage of our own Canadian paradise, check out this video below with footage from Banff, Kootenay, and Yoho National Parks.

*****

Mountains in Motion: The Canadian Rockies from The Upthink Lab on Vimeo.