Archive for October, 2008
I’ve just put together a new photo album from beautiful Argentina. Personally, I think it’s one of the best/most pretty so far. But then again, that’s just me…
Have a look!
(Photos to come)
(Photos to come)
(Photos to come)
I´ve picked some (82) of the best photos from Chile, a country that I´ll definitely go back to some other time. I spent just around 2 weeks in Chile (+ 8 days on Easter Island), most of which I was staying with my good friend Paola and her family in a Santiago suburb. Crossing the Andes was a highlight and quite a challenge.
It´s a world full of opportunities, so there are 3 ways to see the photos from Chile;
I hope you enjoy!
Nicolai (La Paz, Bolivia – 21OCT2008)
Tune of the Day: Say a Little Prayer – Aretha Franklin
(Photos to come)
Going out the last few nights hasn’t purely been one massive diabolic drinking fête (but close, really). Thus, times spent in bars and discos have given me the opportunity the make an anthropological (sort of) reflection on the drinking habits of the different nationalities I’ve met on this and previous travels. Some people really know how to throw a party, how to bottom (up) those Bock beers and drinks. To me (and I’m sure I’m not the only one) the Irish people will forever be on top of this drinking, party-loving list. They know it. They’re proud of it.
Top 10 Party People of the World
5. New Zealand
8. United States
I feel alive today. I walk the endless streets of La Paz, just sucking in the atmosphere created my thousands of Sunday relaxing Bolivians.
There are loads of parades on the main drag through the city. Very carnivalesque, very colourful, very impressive, very crazy. Seeing the cholitas, the pony-tailed, aymara and quechua speaking indígenas with bowlerhats and short skirts drinking beers like there was no tomorrow and hugely enjoying themselves, is a happy sight.
This is La Paz, Bolivia and I love all bits of it.
The lowlight of the day is the a visit to the movies. The Bolivian/US made production called Nocturnia is such a crappy movie with a stupid out-of-control ending that didn’t make sense to me at all (admittedly, I probably wasn’t firing on all cylinders after 3 heavy nights out in a row!). 2 hours of total waste + money. Don’t go.
In the evening I randomly run into my Swiss dorm mates, Andrea & Martina and we decide to go out for a big steak dinner. Our bodies are all craving for something just a little more substantial than cerveza.
T-bone, Coke Light and cosy times it is then…
Tune of the Day: Crosses – José Gonzáles
It’s payback time for my nocturnal excesses today. Apart from a little cruise around town I stay in my 8 bed dorm room most of the day, crashing and recovering. There are now 3 Israelis in my room. On all demographic grounds and considerations (and without intentionally hurting anyone) that’s got to be enough.
It’s Saturday and because of the general consensus that we are here to have a good time, Saturday means more alcohol and drinks. It’s a great concept for now. I feel like 21 again.
This is good. La Paz has taken me by surprise already. The bustling city is full (as in FULL) of street vendors, small interim, ramshackle stalls selling whatever anyone would possibly need. Including plastic bags with drinking water (0.5L) at just 8 US cents/bag – a much needed offer after yesterday’s drinking bout in the classy, colonial bar (the old ball room) at the great Loki Hostal packed with international, fun-loving travellers.
For hours I walk around the busy streets of the capital, wathcing, smelling, listening, filming, snacking (a beautiful fruit shake go for just 45 US cents, so why not take two?).
On a more interesting note, I met what was most likely my first street bandit today. A suspiciously looking figure was following me in one of the crowdier backstreets. I stopped to see what he was up to, he did the same a few seconds later, looking down and around secretly checking up on my whereabouts.
I instinctly knew something wasn’t right, so I decided to confront the bugger and went right next to him staring at him trying to indirectly show him that I knew what kind of bad fella’ he was and that it’d take a more cleverly configured masterplan to trick me. My beloved Canon SLR was not going to change ownership just now. I think the bugger got the message and soon left the place, head down.
Since I arrived in Sucre a few weeks ago, going out, meeting people, having a few stubbies has become an increasingly important part of the journey at this stage. Partly because I now feel that I can afford it, and partly because sharing stories, laughing, communicating and other important ingredients in the social fabric called life, really is what matters when it all comes down to it. You can take (and be impressed by) only so many waterfalls, canyons etc. but the social life, sharing perspectives on this and that never stops impressing me.
And Loki Hostal is a great place for just that. It is to be a wild and crazy night out with handfuls of newly made friends from New Zealand, Switzerland, Australia, Germany, Ireland, the UK, Brazil, Bolivia at the Loki Bar and (in the wee hours) the nightclub Orange.
Following is a highly biased and subjective list of the world’s most beautiful cities. The criteria are: A) a population of minimum 100.000 and B) minimum a few days of personal exploration.
As with human beings, beauty is a questionable concept that has many different sources. Some, like #1 and #2, are just blessed with the most stunning setting imaginable. Others, like #5, #8, and #9 find beauty in their majestic magnitude and historical grandeur. Others again, like #4, #11, and #18 holds a certain socio-cultural attraction that make those places beautiful in my eyes.
To make it clear(er) where I find the beauty of these cities, I’ve added a few parametres, plus the year of the visit(s).
N = Natural setting
M = Monuments and buildings
C = Cultural interest and beauty
H = Historical depth and beauty
Top 25 World’s Beautiful Cities
1. Sydney, Australia [N – 2008]
2. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil [N – 1998, 2002]
3. Istanbul, Turkey [N, M, H - 2006]
4. Marrakech, Morocco [M, C – 2005 (x2)]
5. Rome, Italy [M, C, H - 1994]
6. Copenhagen, Denmark [N, M, H – 2001-2006]
7. Cusco, Peru [M, C, H - 1998]
8. Madrid, Spain [M, H – 1999, 2004]
9. Paris, France [M, C, H - 1993]
10. Chiang Mai, Thailand [M, C, H – 2000, 2007]
11. Samarkand, Uzbekistan [M, C, H - 2006]
12. Melbourne, Australia [N, C - 2008]
13. Oaxaca, Mexico [M, C, H - 1998]
14. Sucre, Bolivia [N, M, C - 2008]
15. Granada, Spain [M, C - 1999]
16. Krakow, Poland [M, H - 2006]
17. Salta, Argentina [M, C, H - 2008]
18. Potosí, Bolivia [N, M, C, H – 1998, 2008]
19. Aarhus, Denmark [N, M, H – 1998-2001]
20. Lisbon, Portugal [N, M, H – 1999, 2001]
21. Luang Prabang, Laos [N, C – 2000, 2007]
22. Bukhara, Uzbekistan [M, C, H - 2006]
23. Hanoi, Vietnam [M, C, H - 2007]
24. Granada, Nicaragua [N, C - 1998]
25. San Cristóbal de las Casas, Mexico [M, C, H - 1997]
Comments are always welcome!
A brief note here from Cochabamba (approx. 610.000 inhabitants) – the City of Eternal Spring – in Central Western Bolivia.
I got here on Wednesday late afternoon after 3 very long and hard cycling days from Sucre (see log). 24 hours of tough and hilly pedalling in 3 days. The roads were a great mix of smooth asphalt, concrete blocks (smooth as well), potholed asphalt, cobbled roads (bad and agate-shaking, yes!), gravel. Bolivia is diverse!
Meanwhile, I’ve been trying hard to catch up with all the caipirinhas & cervezas that I haven’t been drinking lately due to the rough cycling here in Bolivia. I randomly ran into a Danish guy, Christian at the fruit market stalls the other day. Such a great thing! Christian is an anthropologist (to-be) and is here in Bolivia to do his field work. We’ve been hanging out for the last few days and it’s just been fantastic to catch up on my Danish again and to enjoy the luxury of great company.
Haven’t done much during the last days here; eating well, listening to Band of Horses (I’m totally lost in this song on Youtube – check it out!) in the cheap internet cafes, hanging out in parks and in the sunny streets of Cochabamba – yet another great, great Bolivian city. A the lures of the good night life here has turned me into an ad hoc nocturnal beast for now. It’s hard on the liver but it’s good fun.
A few photo updates in the diary…
More to come soonish…
Another sort of update from the automobile corner…
Realizing that it’s just 400 km on smooth asphalt (crossing a altiplano high pass in nearly 4.500 m) before I hit the administrative capital, La Paz and from there some 100 km to the Peruvian border has made me slow down a bit for now (meaning: chilling out in cities just a bit longer). I’m not really in a rush to leave Bolivia that (as expected) has been fantastic in many ways – culturally (lots of photogenic aymara and quechua indians), gastronomically (great, filling, cheap food stuff around), socially, naturally, economically (dirt cheap).
Thanks for your support out there. I hope all is good with everyone.
I’ve made a panorama photo from the Argentinian village Purmamarca. From a hill top lookout there was a great 360 degrees view of the city and the Piedra de Los Siete Colores (The 7-coloured Rock) that’s Purmarca’s claim to fame.
(Click on the photo in the link for a better resolution)
Yesterday’s attempt at trying to catch up with some of the beers and social times that I’m not always able to access when on the road, well, it was successful.
I just cruise around town today. Cochabamba has quite a bit of a big city buzz but is still a very pleasant city on a sunny day.
Tune of the Day: The End’s Not Near – Band of Horses
Tonight’s another big night out with for the Danish vikingos. ‘Cos that’s really how we feel, being blond and tall and in Cochabamba. Tres dangereux…
Pigeons gotta be on the list of the most simple and stupid creatures around. I’ve studied a lot of pigeons in all parts of the world, in rural and urban settings, and it’s the same thing every time: Eat and screw, eat and screw, eat and screw. That’s really all it takes to be a pigeon. And these were no different.
Chance has it that I meet a fellow Dane today at the fruit market in Cochabamba. Christian is here in Bolivia to do his anthropological fieldwork for some 4-5 months. We spend most of the afternoon speaking Danish at the fruit market. Haven’t really felt that kind of understanding for a long, long time and it feels great.
Totora -> Cochabamba (hostal)
Distance (km) : 143
Time on bike : 7h 41m
Brutto time: 09.15 – 18.30
Avg : 18.6 km/h
Max.speed: 72.8 (!)
Total (km) : 35.831
Altitude (end of day): 2.550 m
Do you have something for breakfast?, I asked the lady in the little eatery this morning.
Yes, we have steaks, chicken and pork, the answer was.
OK, but do you have something without meat? [It was 8AM and my stomac and mind was set on something more normal like bread and coffee]
Yes, we have egg and rice.
I’ll have one of those then…
A man at the table next to mine (who just got their massive steaks) addresses the gringo:
Don’t you like meat?
Yes, I do, but I prefer something without meat for breakfast.
He laughs at me. The kind of laugther that leaves no doubt that this was not behaviour according to the cultural do´s and don’ts in this Bolivian village. A laugh that made it clear who was the cultural oddity in this case.
Later I ask for something to drink to my rice and fried eggs but this question just confirms the fact that I’m a stranger not aware of how things work here in Totora. They have nothing to drink at all. Obviously!
My Western thinking, my Eurocentric conceptualization of the world, its people and the connection between the two, of the cultural and social stuff that constitutes being human is constantly challenged and transformed in the meeting with other worlds with others sounds, rhythms, norms. For me this is one of the most important ingredients in the dish called travel. I simply love it (though I probably would’ve prefered my coffee and bread instead of those boiled potatoes for breakfast…)
10½ non-stop sleep. That’s how much my body demanded after yesterdays’ tough 75 km of cycling on roads paved with cobblestones. Today is to be another marathon day in the saddle.
The first 25 km from Totora is fairly flat and goes through gum trees lined farmland with that beautiful smell of eucalyptus that will forever remind me of Australia. There’s even colourful parrots in the tree tops.
Next up is 4 hours of almost constant uphill, from 2.500 m to 3.600 m, all on smooth asphalt and with a nice tailwind for a change. Cloudy, 8C.
From the col at 3.600 m a god-blessed downhill meets me. The landscape is beautiful, green hills, the sun finds it way through the clouds and the speed (up to 72.8 km/h) is thrilling. As usual the dare-devil fun is over way to early and I reach the flat Cochabamba Valley and push on the last 40 km to Cochabamba.
For three days I’ve been cycling through some of the poorest Bolivia, I’ve been cycling through tiny settlements of primitive adobe houses, donkeys and goats everywhere, through green valleys, across semi-dry river beds…and then suddenly I’m in Cochabamba (Bolivia’s 3rd city, 610.000 inh.), sitting in an Italian restaurant (aptly named Don Corleone), watching a Sting DVD concert on the flatscreen, waiting for my huge pizza (I do deserve it!), drinking cold beer. The beauty of cycling.
Sucre -> Aiquile (hostal)
Distance (km) : 144
Time on bike : 9h 11m (!)
Brutto time: 09.15 – 20.05
Avg : 15.6 km/h
Total (km) : 35.612
Altitude (end of day): 2.250 m
(Photos to come)
Well into my third year of cycling around the world, there’s been so many special, visually (among other levels) beautiful moments. Amazingly photogenic days that seriously help making this travel life highly addictive. Days that often leave me feeling satisfied wow!-like for a few days (until the next pangs of hunger for the beauty of the world strikes again, that is).
Here’s a chronological list of 60 of these days of visual beauty (be it naturally, culturally, or otherwise). In any case, days that showed me the incredible visual feast that is the world. And another beauty of it all is that it is all out there. All we have to do is to choose the world, open the eyes and the mind, stop for a while, and push the release button.
Here we go…
1. Sighisoara, Romania
2. Istanbul, Turkey
3. Cappadocia, Turkey
4. Kazbegi, Georgia
5. Ashgabad, Turkmenistan
6. Bukhara, Uzbekistan
7. Samarkand, Uzbekistan
8. Margilan, Uzbekistan
9. Osh, Kyrgystan
10. Kochkor, Kyrgystan
11. Kashgar, China
12. Darchen, Tibet (China)
13. Kathmandu, Nepal
14. Battambang, Cambodia
15. Angkor Wat, Cambodia
16. Sa Pa, Vietnam
17. Luang Prabang, Laos
18. Chiang Rai, Thailand
19. Chiang Mai, Thailand
20. Ayutthaya, Thailand
21. Koh Tao, Thailand
22. Georgetown, Malaysia
23. Pulau Tioman, Malaysia
24. Tanjung Pinang, Indonesia
25. Bandung (daytrip to Kawah Putih), Java, Indonesia
26. Tasikmalaya (daytrip), Java, Indonesia (DK text)
27. Yogyakarta, Java, Indonesia
28. Solo, Java, Indonesia
29. Mt. Bromo, Java, Indonesia
30. Bali, Indonesia
31. Gili Trawangan, Indonesia
32. Sumbawa Island, Indonesia (or here or here)
33. Katherine, NT., Australia
34. Outback, SA., Australia (or here)
35. Barossa Valley, SA., Australia
36. Twelve Apostles Nat. Park, VIC., Australia
37. Tasmania, West Coast, Australia (and here)
38. Tasmania, East Coast, Australia
39. Mornington Peninsula, VIC., Australia
40. Sydney, NSW, Australia (or here)
41. Milford Sound, New Zealand
42. Mt. Cook Nat. Park, New Zealand
43. Queenstown, New Zealand
44. Glacier Country, South Island, New Zealand
45. West Coast, South Island, New Zealand
46. Tongariro Crossing, New Zealand
47. Wai-O-Tapu Wonderland, New Zealand
48. Coromandel Peninsula, New Zealand
49. Foa Island, Ha’apai, Tonga
50. Moorea (daytrip), French Polynesia
51. Easter Island, Chile
52. Santiago, Chile (or here)
53. San Juan Province, Argentina
54. Chilecito surroundings, Argentina (and here)
55. Cafayate, Argentina (and here)
56. Salta, Argentina
57. Purmamarca, Argentina
58. Villazón, Bolivia
59. Tupiza, Bolivia (and here)
60. Potosí, Bolivia
(to be continued)
Nicolai (Sucre, Bolivia)