How I Enjoy a Good Photo – and a Post-Christmas Giveaway!

UPDATE (16 Jan 2013):  Congratulations to “Kelley” for winning the 8″ by 10″ canvas print courtesy of Printcopia and ilivetotravel!!  And thank you all for your interest – wish I had had a couple more to give away.

As you may know from my blog, I love photography.  Admittedly, I am not the most technical photographer.  However, I love finding unique shots to remember the places I have been to and share the sights I’ve seen with others who like to see the world in person or via blogs like mine.  Check out some of my photo essays, like the one of the tiles of Dubrovnik or, the one about the street art of Barrio Bellavista in Santiago, or of the one of the  churches and monasteries of Moldova to see what I mean about my photos.   Though the space to hang photos in my house is limited, I do have my favorite ones enlarged and on display (hmm… maybe I should show in another photo essay the ones I have on display at home!).

Of all the photos displayed in my house, only one has been printed on canvas so far.  I really enjoy the texture the canvas print adds to the picture.  So it is rather fortunate that offered me a complimentary canvas to test their offering.  It is a great opportunity to review all the photos from the last year and pick another to add to my “display gallery” while checking out their service for future reference.  I picked the following photo from my trip to Curacao where the architecture was so charming.

Otrobanda neighborhood of Willemstad, Curacao

A giveaway is born

In addition, Printcopia offered me a choice of one of their products to give to one of my readers as a thank-you for following ilivetotravel and enjoying my stories and photos.  I decided to pick a free 8″ by 10″ canvas print since I can vouch for the product from my own experience.

Getting my photo canvas

I was very pleased with the incredibly easy-to-use website.  Easy not only to place the order but also to fine tune the design of the canvas (good details like how the sides of the canvas should appear).

The website was very easy to use (I have used various websites in the past for different photography-related products) and the canvas print was really nicely done.  I hope whoever wins this giveaway finds their experience with Printcopia as good as my own!

Here is how the canvas came packaged:

A canvas print comes shipped in a box

The actual canvas!   Looks great!

Canvas print of a photo from Willemstad, Curacao

The detail of the wrap-around print – awesome touch!!

Canvas print detail - wrap-around print

Now to how to enter to win!

What do you have to do to win?  VERY simple.  Both items below must be completed by midnight Eastern time (end of day of) Tuesday, January 15th, 2013.

  1. Like my Facebook page at
  2. Leave a comment on THIS post and share what photo you would make into the canvas should you win the giveaway.  (Make sure I can match your comment here and your Facebook account!)

I will pick a winner at random from those I can match.  Only one entry per person and, unfortunately, this offer is only possible for addresses in the 48 continental states of the U.S.

I will email the winner shortly thereafter and the winner will have forty-eight (48) hours to respond or else the winner forfeits and I will pick another person at random.  Once the winner responds, I will connect the winner with Printcopia and from there, the winner will work with Printcopia to order and get their free canvas!

That’s it and good luck!


Final fine print…  By entering, you agree with these!

  • All decisions by ilivetotravel on the giveaway, picking the winner, etc. are final and at the sole discretion of ilivetotravel.
  • Any and all matters related to the prize and its delivery are between the winner and Printcopia.

Curacao Photo Essay: Art, Architecture and Some Very Dark Skies

I enjoyed food, music and sun in Curacao but I also enjoyed admiring the art and architecture in this amazing island!  High kudos to the Hotel Kura Holanda for preserving the beautiful architecture and allowing visitors to walk through it!

No better way than sharing pictures to help you see what caught my eye. 

Click on the picture to see a full version of the photo, not just a cropped thumbnail version!  Then leave me a comment telling me which is your favorite (you can refer to the number in the caption).

Having a Good Time in Willemstad, Curacao: Beach, Food and Music

Last year, I visited Curacao, formerly part of the Netherlands Antilles, with a couple of friends after spending a few days in Trinidad and Tobago.  Curacao is an interesting place – the Netherlands in the Caribbean, for sure, but also an incredible melting pot – many folks speak Spanish due to its proximity to and semi-shared history with nearby South America.  Yet it also shares a lot with the other Dutch islands in the hood as well with Surinam, another former Dutch colony.

Curacao, license plate

Even the license plate shows off the beautiful architecture

There is much to write about this island.  I struggled with how to not write about it all in one long post.  So this post will focus on the food, fun and beach as I experienced in a very short visit.  I did not get to scratch the surface of what Curacao has to offer so I will, upfront, tell you that and then challenge you to discover Curacao yourself and perhaps share back with me what you discovered!

An upcoming post will focus more on the incredible charming architecture of this island.  Enjoy!

My hotel

First, Curacao’s capital, Willemstad (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), has two sides along the canal that splits it:  Punda and Otrobanda.  Punda is the better known side with the pretty pictures folks normally see whenever Curacao is mentioned (more on this in the next post!).  Otrobanda is or was the poorer side though it contains some neat/charming architecture too.

I chose the Renaissance in Curacao (part of the Marriott family) as my hotel, located in Otrobanda right by the canal entrance.  While the hotel was not an all-around knock-out (e.g., the confusion at breakfast on what was included in my rate and what was not), there were a couple of things that hit it out of the ballpark.  One was the upgrade they welcomed me with.  A corner suite was definitely a great way to greet a Platinum guest.  Thank you for that!!  I wish I had had others sharing the room with me but that was not the case so the space was not taken advantage of.  But what I did greatly enjoy was the humongous bathroom!  Larger than my master bedroom at home!

A cruise ship passes my hotel room at the Renaissance in Willemstad, Curacao

The view from my room includes passing cruise ships!

But what really blew me away was the infinity pool.  Now you may say “seen one, seen them all” but, my friends, this was no ordinary infinity pool:  it was a beach on an infinity pool!  You walked into it as you would on a beach from the sand and the beach chairs.  It was huge and at the far end, the wall dropped down to the rocks by the sea.  When I first exited the hotel and looked at the pool, it seemed the sea was part of the water in the pool – I did not realize it was a pool at all!!   Bravo, Renaissance!

Infinity beach pool at the Renaissance hotel in Willemstad, Curacao



Curacao has lots of beaches to choose from, 38 or so.  Some of the best are on the west end of the island.  Beaches in Curacao are not the typical long stretches of sand and surf that we typically envision.  Instead they are smaller, less obscenely huge places to enjoy the sun and surf!   We picked Mambo Beach just for being convenient to us as we were staying in Willemstad and had not rented a car.  I imagine it is far from the best beach but it was definitely enjoyable.

Map showing Mambo Beach, Curacao

Food and Entertainment

We ate at a couple of places that also doubled as entertainment with live music.  I could have kept returning to these places except I ran out of nights!

On our first night, we decided to watch sunset at a high vantage point on the fortress walls in Otrobanda at the entrance to the canal leading to the bay/port.  It was very near to the hotel and these places offered the right angle at sunset to look -or stare- at beautiful Punda!

View of Punda at sunset from Otrobanda in Willemstad, Curacao

Beautiful Punda at sunset

Wine as we enjoy the view of Punda from Otrobanda in Willemstad, Curacao

Wine sets the right mood…

Along the fortress wall in Otrobando in Willemstad, Curacao

Along the city wall we were lounging at

Later that night, we went to Avila Blues Bar for both dinner and entertainment.  The hotel is well known for hosting the Dutch royal family (allegedly, the heir to the throne comes to play here, wink, wink).  The blues bar is on a pier by itself so you are sitting above the sea.  The band plays on a loft-like second story above the bar.  The food was great and so was the music.  More importantly:  great atmosphere!

Avila Hotel Blues Bar by the sea near Willemstad, Curacao

For lunch one day, we sat at one of the average cafés right by the canal that is the entrance to large bay (St. Anna Bay).  While the food was not spectacular, watching people, ships and the movable-floating bridge (aka, Queen Emma Bridge) was fascinating or, at least, entertaining (notice the mist in the picture below coming out under some umbrellas).

Waterfront cafes and restaurants in Willemstad in Curacao by the entrance to the bay

Curacao floating bridge in Willemstand

The floating bridge passes us by as we ate lunch

The Queen Emma "floating" bridge in Willemstand, Curacao is for pedestrians

When not pulled away to let boats pass, the Queen Emma “floating” bridge is for pedestrians

Another night, we went to a Cuban place near the old fortress walls in Willemstad called Mr. Congas.  Its owner is a friendly but serious Cuban guy – the music is authentic (take it from this son of Cubans!) and the food is decent (but I have had and can cook it better!).  The place has an indoor space built into the former fortress walls and an outdoor area where the live music plays.  It was a great evening to sit outside, listen to music (dance for those so inclined), eat, and have a few drinks!

Live Cuban music at Mr. Congas in Willemstad, Curacao

Cuban food at Mr. Congas in Willemstad, Curacao

Cuban food at Mr. Congas in Willemstad, Curacao


Curacao has a lot to offer – much beyond beaches.  Beautiful architecture, sun, surf, food and a lively entertainment scene.  It is a definite must-see in the Caribbean!

Couple enjoying the view of Punda across from Otrobando in Willemstad, Curacao

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