Showing posts with label wanderlust. Show all posts
Showing posts with label wanderlust. Show all posts

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Hong Kong

Talk about a distracting city! If you don't have ADD, you will while you spend time walking around the streets of Hong Kong. We were only there for a few days but we were able to squeeze in a lot.

|*| We stayed at the Grand Hyatt Hong Kong (snazzypants, but we found a certificate online that gave us a great rate) We had great views overlooking Victoria harbor and into Kowloon

Kowloon across the harbor
rough monday morning

|*| Wandering the streets of HKG without a plan is both overwhelming and exhilarating.
Make sure to check out the parks you stumble on!

|*| Take the Peak Tram up to the top of Hong Kong island for some amazing views
of the urban landscape

|*| If you're starting to get claustrophobic in the city, spend the morning
visiting Big Buddha and the Po Lin Monastery  (you can grab lunch here too!)

|*| After you visit the Big Buddha, do some shopping at the nearby Ngong Ping Village (we picked up a great chopstick set). If you're looking for a fun way to get back to the city, 
take the glass bottom cable car!

yes, I had too much fun in this thing

|*| And lastly, make sure you get a great spot for the evening Symphony of lights. 40+ buildings on both sides of the harbor light up synchronization with the music and it's a fantastic show :)

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

So. Much. Snow.

Even when going about my (what turned into extremely busy) day, I do my best to keep up with twitter (I hate being out of the loop!). This tweet by Capital Weather Gang immediately caught my eye...

Monday, February 4, 2013

Blue Lagoon

Ah, the Blue Lagoon. Thus far I'd say it's been my favorite spot in the world and I hope to one day go back. Luckily, it's close enough to the airport (8 miles away) that you can book a tour that picks you up and drops you off at the airport. So maybe one day I'll make it back?

If you spend any time on pinterest, you're likely to have seen snapshots of this place and for good reason! The fog coming off of the water provides some pretty beautiful photos. Nearby the Blue Lagoon is a geothermal power plant (most of Iceland runs off geothermal power) and after it's done with the hot water, it's channeled into the Blue Lagoon. This keeps the water at a deliciously warm 100 degrees. All around the lagoon there are buckets of silica that you can slather onto your face for a nice face mask (and of course you can then buy it, which yessss, I did, and no, I don't regret it!)


Over the past couple years I've had my (more than fair) share of trips so I'm often asked, "where was your favorite?". The answer is easily Iceland. In 2012, only half a million people visited this magical location. I use the word magical as the Icelandic Tourist Board claims that 80% of Icelanders are willing to believe in fairies or elves. I'm telling you all of this because after going to Iceland, I see where they're coming from.

Iceland is the root of my wanderlust. Before Iceland I had been to a few places but they all felt comfortable and predictable. Iceland was the first experience I had where I was blown away by what I saw. The landscape went from lush to volcanic in only minutes.  Iceland is often overlooked for more exciting and popular locations but I can promise you no time you spend in Iceland will be a waste!

Getting There
We flew IcelandAir into Keflavík International Airport (KEF) and easily booked a seat on the bus to Reykjavík which dropped us off at our hotel, Icelandair Hotel Reykjavik Natura.

we saw the northern lights from the airplane,
unfortunately, that's the only time we saw them =(

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Peru - Part 3 (Cusco)

As Frank Sinatra sings, 'come fly with me, let's float down to Peru'. I'm not sure why he uses the word down, as the elevation in Cusco is 11,200 ft (higher than Machu Picchu I was surprised to learn).

left: mr A taking a break, the altitude differential hits you as soon as you walk off the plane
right: the common Peruvian cure? coca tea

The city of Cusco is very pedestrian friendly and I suggest putting a day aside to just roam the streets. There are many local vendors (I got a great wool sweater) that sell everything from art and clothing to touristy knick knacks.

A note on the altitude: I was personally very worried about how I would react to the altitude given that I also have asthma. I spoke with my doctor and received pills (Diamox) specifically designed to aid with altitude sickness. The best way I can describe the effects is that you feel a little drunk, and winded after walking around a bit (doesn't help that Cusco is hilly!) A common Peruvian treatment for altitude sickness is coca tea. This works since the coca leaf is the base for making cocaine. Pro Tip: If you have any sort of job in the security/government realm, I suggest checking with your security officer before indulging.

Viva El Peru!

Cathedral of Cusco located in Plaza de Armas

mr OMG and I at Plaza de Armas

streets of Cusco

From Cusco, you can take many day trips to the sacred valley nearby

you get beautiful views from every angle

factor in lots of stairs for any Inca ruin

our group <3

there's a lot of Peruvian culture going on in this pic

One of the best views of Cusco is from the Cristo Blanco. It's easily accessible by cab.

Getting a cab: You're cab driver can easily become your guide to the city. If you find a cab driver you like, ask him to show you around to a few of his favorite places! They'll likely wait while you explore whatever locale you're at so it's like hiring a personal drive (for way less!)

Cristo Blanco

Cusco at night as seen from Cristo Blanco

After exploring the city, seeing the nearby ruins, and talking with other we meet along the way, we were so ready to go to Machu Picchu.

Part 1: Haucachina Oasis, Nazca Lines & Paracas National Reserve
Part 2: Puerto Maldonado/Amazon Rainforest
Part 3: Cusco
Part 4: Machu Picchu
Overall Trip Guide

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Peru - Part 1

First off, let me just say, if you think the only thing to do in Peru is hike the Inca trail and see Machu Picchu you couldn't be more wrong! A group of us went in April 2012 and we spent one day at Machu Picchu, and nine days exploring the vastly different terrains that Peru has to offer. Because of this there is no way I can tell you everything in one post so I'm going to split it into four different ones.

Part 1: Haucachina Oasis, Nazca Lines & Paracas National Reserve
Part 2: Puerto Maldonado/Amazon Rainforest
Part 3: Cusco
Part 4: Machu Picchu
Overall Trip Guide

We were picked up from the airport early in the morning and started through Lima to the Oasis at Haucachina. On the way there we stopped at a few villages that specialize in Pisco, a grape whiskey made in the wine making regions of Peru. It's also the liquor needed to make the national drink of Peru, the Pisco Sour!

left: old way of storing pisco to ferment
center: pisco for sale (we left with a couple)
right: pisco sour (pisco, simple syrup, lime juice, and an egg white on top)

After getting a morning buzz on Pisco Sours, we arrived at the Haucachina Oasis. Good News: It looks absolutely beautiful (minus all the tourist-y shops and restaurants)! Bad News: 20 or so years ago the lake emptied due to the nearby town, so the water is now artificially pumped in to keep the oasis look up. In Haucachina there are about three things to do: boozing, buggies, and 'boarding (sand boarding that is)

left: having a drink while watching the sunset over the dunes
center: dune buggies!
right: sandboarding

view of the oasis from the top of the dunes

sunset over the dunes

Nearby the Oasis is Nazca, home to the Nazca lines. No one knows exactly how these (extremely straight) lines and creatures were created, and the best way to see them is from the air.

TIP: these tiny, vomit-inducing airplanes are not for the easily motion sick. trust me.

left: astronaut
center: straight nazca lines
right: hummingbird

On the way back from Nazca we stopped a small workshop that specialized in traditional Nazca pottery. These native pots were still being made the old school way by one of the most life-loving people I've ever seen. Toby walked us through the process of making them (he uses oil from his face to add the shine to the pots) and we (of course) all walked out with a few souvenirs

Next we went onto the Paracas National Reserve which was established in 1975 and is the oldest marine reserve in Peru.  I can't nearly describe all the playful animals we saw, so here are a few of my favorite pics!

Ballesta Islands, each rock was COVERED in birds


plenty of seals tanning themselves, I liked this ones expression!

landing in the water

I swear this guy wanted to eat me

the contrast of the red sand (from the red cliffs nearby) against the yellow-y rock was beautiful
I would easily say no trip to Peru is complete without a trip to the Paracas Natural Reserve, this is especially a must if you love animals! Another most do if you're an animal lover is visiting the Amazon, which takes us to part 2

Thursday, January 24, 2013

To Russia (with my love!)

T-21 days until Moscow! So you'd think me and mr A would have more figured out but alas, we've dropped the ball. I've done plenty of girly preparations,  buying a new coat and new snow boots, but we've done little in the way of confirming anything besides our hotel and airfare.

Luckily being the shortie that I am, the coat goes down past my knees. Although, the best part is definitely the hood!

While in Moscow, we'll be staying at the Ararat Park Hyatt which is located thisclose to red square. The hotel looks decadent and offers amazing views of some of the most historic and recognizable buildings in Moscow. Check out the view from the Conservatory Lounge & Bar!

I can't wait to wander the square and I'm hoping for a little bit of snow (I know, I'm crazy!). Here's a run down of the places I'd like to see while we're there:
  • ST. BASIL (candy mountain!)
  • Red Square
  • Kremlin
  • Russian Metro Stops (known for their beautiful artwork)
  • Bolshoi Theater (unfortunately no ballet, but they arere showing a German opera while we're there)
  • Space Monument and Memorial Museum of Cosmonautics (mr A majored in astrophysics in undergrad)
  • Bunker-42 on Taganka, a cold war museum

We're still working on figuring out all the details (okay, any details), but I'm sure we'll have a great time even if we do wait until the last minute!

до свидания! (goodbye! in russian)