Angkor Thom’s Main Temple: Bayon

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While Angkor Wat is the better known of all the temple complexes in Cambodia, there are others that are a must.  Bayon is one of those.  It is imposing and a veritable maze, making it fun to explore.  Bayon (built in the 12th-13th century period) sits in the middle of Angkor Thom which was the capital of the Khmer Empire back when (it is said between 80-150K people lived there at its peak back then).  Bayon was at the center of that capital city as its most important temple.  If you look at a map, the moat around Angkor Thom is much larger than the one around Angkor Wat.  (All these sites got “lost” in the early 1600s for a few centuries.)  Movies like Lara Croft:  Tomb Raider have had scenes shot at Angkor Thom.

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Bayon (Angkor Thom is the larger square around it) in relation to Angkor Wat

We approached Angkor Thom and had a great view of the wall around Angkor Thom and a bridge (or causeway) decorated on either side with sitting statues.  One drives through a gate that towers at the end of the bridge with each side of the tower carved with the face of a divinity.  I believe we went through the south gate.

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Causeway entering Angkor Thom from the south

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View across the causeway of the south gate

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Statues on the causeway

Angkor Thom, Bayon, temple, Khmer, Cambodia, Camboya, Cambodge, travel, explore, adventure, tourism, photo, samsung Galaxy, S7, gate

The south gate

In any case, one approaches the main temple at Angkor Thom, Bayon, among a green field with palm trees.  Having first seen Angkor Wat with its dramatic towers and monumentality, Bayon felt a little less imposing yet so different it looked magnificent.

Angkor Thom, Bayon, temple, Khmer, Cambodia, Camboya, Cambodge, travel, explore, adventure, tourism, photo, samsung Galaxy, S7

Approaching Bayon – majestic!

From then we walked around different former hallways and around many towers and carvings.   It is said Bayon is more baroque while Angkor Wat is more classical Khmer style.  I am not an expert but certainly can tell that Bayon was much more loaded with carvings and more elaborate.  Bayon is certainly striking due to the many towers carved on four sides with faces of deities or other figures but it lacked the big open spaces within it that Angkor Wat had.

Angkor Thom, Bayon, temple, Khmer, Cambodia, Camboya, Cambodge, travel, explore, adventure, tourism, photo, samsung Galaxy, S7

Imposing

Angkor Thom, Bayon, temple, Khmer, Cambodia, Camboya, Cambodge, travel, explore, adventure, tourism, photo, samsung Galaxy, S7

The explorers look diminutive as our guide tried to capture it all

Angkor Thom, Bayon, temple, Khmer, Cambodia, Camboya, Cambodge, travel, explore, adventure, tourism, photo, samsung Galaxy, S7 Angkor Thom, Bayon, temple, Khmer, Cambodia, Camboya, Cambodge, travel, explore, adventure, tourism, photo, samsung Galaxy, S7, carving Angkor Thom, Bayon, temple, Khmer, Cambodia, Camboya, Cambodge, travel, explore, adventure, tourism, photo, samsung Galaxy, S7, Buddha

Angkor Thom, Bayon, temple, Khmer, Cambodia, Camboya, Cambodge, travel, explore, adventure, tourism, photo, samsung Galaxy, S7

Interesting things no matter where you look

As in many places, it is fun to watch other tourists engage with the site – and take their photo while they do so 🙂

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Strike a pose!

Angkor Thom, Bayon, temple, Khmer, Cambodia, Camboya, Cambodge, travel, explore, adventure, tourism, photo, samsung Galaxy, S7, ilivetotravel

One of the many tourists 🙂 (thanks, Phil I. for snapping this winner!)

While Angkor Wat is overall more imposing, Bayon is definitely different enough to warrant the time to explore it – hope you get to do so!

Visiting Temples in Bangkok – Wat Pho?

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One of the neatest things for me about visiting Bangkok was seeing Buddhist temples everywhere.  I am no student of their faith and much less of all the specifics of the architecture of these temples but they are impressive and that’s why I am glad I made the time for a stop -however brief- in Bangkok as I traveled between Bali  and Cambodia.  Time was short so we had to keep it only to the main temples in Bangkok (plus the one we visited during our bike tour of the countryside).

Once we finished our bike ride outside of Bangkok after lunch that day, we headed into the heart of Bangkok to visit Wat Arun and Wat Pho. (Be careful with this latter one as asking about it may lead your fellow traveler to think you are messing with him and almost earn you a fist to your face!  Remember “Who is on first?“, etc.  Yea, that.)

I will not try to tell you the story of these two places as there are plenty of resources out there for that. These temples are very colorful thanks to what seem to be porcelain tiles and mosaics everywhere.  It is great to admire from a distance but getting up close allows one to see the details of the decorated exteriors.  Also, know that these are the very abbreviated names for these temples (which are really each a temple complex on its own) – names there can be quite long!

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Ferry on the Chao Phraya River

Wat Arun – Temple of the Dawn

Wat Arun dates from the 17th century but the main towers one sees are much more recent.  We started our temple visits by arriving here but crossing it quickly to get to the ferry to first visit Wat Pho on the other side of the river.  Once we finished with Wat Pho, where we spent most of our time, we crossed the river back to check out Wat Arun.

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Wat Arun temple complex

Wat Arun, Bangkok, Thailand, temple, Asia, travel, photo, explore, Samsung Galaxy

Greeted at the entrance by some warrior

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Sitting Buddhas

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Mosaic details

Wat Arun, Bangkok, Thailand, temple, Asia, travel, photo, explore, Samsung Galaxy

Around Wat Arun

Wat Arun, Bangkok, Thailand, temple, Asia, travel, photo, explore, Samsung Galaxy

Around Wat Arun

The highlight for me happened rather unexpectedly.  We walked into one of the temples.  There was a monk sitting near a box where one could drop a coin and he would pray over you.  Not certain how this all worked, I walked away to a donation box not close to him.  As I walked back to the back of the temple, the monk called me over to him and signaled for me to sit on the floor.  He proceeded to give me a blessing.  Unbeknownst to me, my friend Phil started video’ing the whole thing and I ended up with a neat ‘souvenir’ from this random event!

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The main temple

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Being blessed by a monk

Wat Pho – Where the Reclining Buddha is

The Reclining Buddha may be what makes this temple complex most famous but it is quite an impressive site.  But first, the Reclining Buddha is not just napping – he has reached the ideal state and the posture signifies that (vs. a sitting Buddha or a standing Buddha).  The Reclining Buddha is very long (46 m; 150 ft) and based on how it is housed within a building, one can’t just stand in front of it and capture it head to toes in a nice, clean photo.  Which is kind of cool, come to think of it.  This unique piece was built close to 200 years ago and it impresses.

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No easy way to photograph

Wat Pho, reclining Buddha, Bangkok, temple, Buddishm, tourism, travel, adventure, Samsung Galaxy, photo, S7, Asia

Rather large feet

Wat Pho, reclining Buddha, Bangkok, temple, Buddishm, tourism, travel, adventure, Samsung Galaxy, photo, S7, Asia

Good angle from the headrest down

But Wat Pho is much more than its famous resident statue.  Pagodas (towers) built by different kings which house their own Buddhas and other parts related to the monastic complex are worth exploring (there are well laid out signs to explain to the visitor the complex and its contents).  The ceramic tile-work on the roofs are different depending on the king or period in which the structures were built.

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What to know

  • You can go way more off-the-beaten path than what we got to see.  But these two are a must!
  • You can use ferries/boats up and down the river in Bangkok to move between the temples.  No need to just suffer city traffic.  Plus, at some point or another, you WILL need to cross the river!
  • Temples do close earlier than a tourist may expect.  Know the times or use a local guide.  We went for the latter as we didn’t have to think about anything plus he knew a few other things (like best photo spot at a given temple, etc.).
  • Temples are about someone’s faith.  They ask that you do not wear shorts or sleeveless shirts.  It was sad to see how many people showed either ignorance or disrespect.  One doesn’t have to subscribe to the beliefs of the locals, but one should respect them.  Yes, it is hot and humid.  Wear a wicking t-shirt and some hiking pants that convert to shorts and one will be alright in that weather!

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Trekking the W Circuit at the Torres del Paine: Day 5

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After the fun of day 4 with all the wind and beautiful views of the lakes and the Torres del Paine, the big day finally arrived:  no, not because it was the last day of hiking but because it was the day we were trekking up to the lagoon to see the peaks close and personal.  But it would all depend on the weather as there could be rain or cloud coverage over the iconic conical (alliteration!) peaks.  The morning light showed everything looked good – and majestic!

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View of the top of the range

About an hour later, the light had changed and a rainbow appeared.

Torres del Paine, mountains, Patagonia, Chile, sunlight, morning light, Samsung Galaxy, photo, trekking, travel, rainbow

Rainbow nicely framing the massif

The Refugio Chileno

Trekking from the Refugio Chileno, where we had stayed overnight, back to our exit point at Hotel Las Torres would be about 9 kms.  But before starting on that, we would go up to the Mirador Las Torres, about 4 kms away and mostly going up about 380 m to reach the lagoon at around 875 m above sea level.  So, in total, this day would be 17 kms worth of distance covered.

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The main lodge at the refugio (nearest to us, the dining room)

Torres del Paine, mountains, Patagonia, Chile, sunlight, morning light, Olympus, photo, trekking, travel, Refugio Chileno

The refugio also offers space for camping, if that’s your thing!

I have not mentioned how the refugios work.  They usually have rooms with several bunk beds (stacks of 2 or 3), shared bathroom facilities (with private showers), and communal dining (usually scheduled as not everyone fits at once).  I am not saying they are super clean but they were generally better than expected.  The meals were acceptable if not good and wine and beer were always available.  I gained weight in this 5-day hike!

Getting to the Mirador Las Torres

Alright, back to the hike.  The route up was not always a nice path, there were a couple of spots with makeshift wooden bridges to cross small streams.  But that all added to the fun of the climb.

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Rickety bridge…

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Another bridge

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Enjoyed all these bridges!

Of course, going up was more fun due to the expectation of arriving to the top mirador (viewing point), of getting as close to the Torres as possible.  Returning to the Refugio Chileno, by comparison, was slightly less exciting but probably more tranquil.

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Peaceful trails

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Roaring waters

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A very unique tree

So, while the weather had been iffy in the morning, it improved as the climb up happened.  Sadly, we did have some cloud coverage at the top of the towers as you can see in the photos.  We heard that they cleared up later – just the nature of the weather down in Patagonia:  you never know!  Though mildly disappointed, it was still a great feeling to make it up there.

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For those who may need coordinates…

hiking, Mirador Las Torres, Torres del Paine, Patagonia, Chile, Olympus, photo, trekking, travel

The beautiful lagoon and cloud-covered peaks of the Torres del Paines

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My roommate Dave and I – ’til the next trek!

And then leaving the Torres del Paine National Park…

Once we returned to the refugio, we did the usual (pit stop, eat something, etc.) and then picked up our stuff and started to make our way out of the park and our phenomenal 5-day hike of the W circuit of the Torres del Paine.  The vistas continued to be breathtaking all the way until the end of the hike, pretty much.

Torres del Paine, mountains, Patagonia, Chile, sunlight, morning light, Olympus, photo, trekking, travel, Refugio Chileno

Looking along the creek/gorge near the Refugio Chileno

Torres del Paine, mountains, Patagonia, Chile, sunlight, morning light, Olympus, photo, trekking, travel, Refugio Chileno

Just beautiful!

Torres del Paine, mountains, Patagonia, Chile, sunlight, morning light, Olympus, photo, trekking, travel

Leaving the gorge area

Torres del Paine, mountains, Patagonia, Chile, sunlight, morning light, Olympus, photo, trekking, travel

One final bridge and it is over… 🙁

Torres del Paine, Patagonia, Chile, sunlight, morning light, Olympus, photo, trekking, travel

Looking back before the final short stretch…

I was on the front group and I ran into the Hotel Las Torres, where the bus was picking us up, to make a pit stop when I spotted the bar.  And that’s when I remembered how, upon finishing descent from Mt. Kilimanjaro, one of my fellow trekkers, Len Stanmore, and I grabbed a beer (I wish I could have added “cold” as an adjective but it wasn’t…) to celebrate.  So I ordered a beer for me and fellow trekker Paula who was there with me and we celebrated completing the W circuit in proper form!

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Done and cheers!

With this, I end the series of the hike in the Torres del Paine National Park.  It is as beautiful a landscape as there exists in this planet:  the Chilean Patagonia.  I have been blessed with seeing it once as more of a tourist (in 2010) and again, fulfilling a wish I had since 2010, of returning to trek the W circuit so I could see everything further up close than in 2010.  I am lucky guy indeed.

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A happy trekker

 

Go back to day 4 of this Patagonia trek!

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Trekking the W Circuit at the Torres del Paine: Day 4

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A windy night at Refugio Los Cuernos

I woke up around 7 AM on day 4 after a night thinking the place we were staying at was going to blow away at any moment.  On top of that, something right outside our window kept hitting the window on and off throughout the night (we discovered in the morning that the window was perfectly shut and it was making the noise).  I am told the gusts we experienced overnight were between 80-100 km/hr!  I wanted to go outside to look at the lake as the wind was howling to perhaps take video or a photo – I did but ran back inside!  A little later, the skies cleared a little and we were rewarded with a view of the cuernos (towers) of the Torres del Paine graced by a rainbow!

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Rainbow over los cuernos

It was still very windy…

The wind along Lake Nordenskjold howled

But, it wasn’t just the refugio!  We started our hike and it was windy for a good bit of the first half of the hike along Lake Nordenskjold!  We could see white top waves on the surface of the lake.

Lake Nordenskjold,Torres del Paine, national park, Chile, Patagonia, nature, outdoors, photo, Olympus

The white tops of the lake’s waves

Lake Nordenskjold,Torres del Paine, national park, Chile, Patagonia, nature, outdoors, photo, Olympus

The wind created some beautiful sights

Lake Nordenskjold,Torres del Paine, national park, Chile, Patagonia, nature, outdoors, photo, Olympus

And with a rainbow to boot!

Until we turned a corner around a small peninsula.  Then that part of the lake was flat as it could be!

Lake Nordenskjold,Torres del Paine, national park, Chile, Patagonia, nature, outdoors, photo, Olympus

On the top and right of the lake in this photo, you see the wind’s effect. The rest is flat!

Lake Nordenskjold,Torres del Paine, national park, Chile, Patagonia, nature, outdoors, photo, Samsung Galaxy

From then on, nice and flat!

The winds and gusts along the way were so strong that they would throw you off balance.  We learned to crouch quickly at the first hint of a gust (or after it hit others first!).  I believe one of our guys was lifted up an inch even with his backpack!  It was surreal.

Refugio Chileno, lodging, Torres del Paine, national park, Chile, Patagonia, nature, outdoors, photo, Samsung Galaxy

Not even the wind can stop my friend Bridgit!

Maybe a tiny bit scary but, actually, more thrilling than scary (except when it threw me sideways once…).  Don’t believe me?

Check out this one minute video I took at the refugio and along the way!  (turn down the volume as it is noisy but don’t mute your speakers!)

Despite the winds (constant at around 40-50 km/hr with gusts exceeding that), hiking along the lake was quite a neat experience.  It was just beautiful! Lunch was shredded chicken sandwich on bread that was actually “stamped” with the name of the refugio we had left, “Los Cuernos“!

sandwich, bread, Los Cuernos, Torres del Paine, Chile, food, photo

An authentic “Los Cuernos” sandwich!

Past the wind and on to the Campamento Chileno!

The hike (about 15km / 9mi) took us about six hours counting our stops and towards the end got away from the lake and went through some private lands.

Refugio Chileno, lodging, Torres del Paine, national park, Chile, Patagonia, nature, outdoors, photo, Samsung Galaxy

Two of my fellow Morocco/Camino trekkers: Always good to see friends!

Refugio Chileno, Torres del Paine, national park, Chile, Patagonia, nature, outdoors, photo, Olympus

I guess we have to be careful, Mick Jagger may be around!

Torres del Paine, national park, Chile, Patagonia, nature, outdoors, photo, Olympus

The massif

Lake Nordenskjold,Torres del Paine, national park, Chile, Patagonia, nature, outdoors, photo, Olympus

Plenty of photo opps along the way!

Torres del Paine, national park, Chile, Patagonia, nature, outdoors, photo, Olympus

Cool bridge – right before our lunch stop!

The final stretch of the trail heading to the Campamento Chileno was gorgeous, along what I would call a sort of canyon or gorge (but maybe not as narrow as a gorge?) but it had some very steep hills toward the end!  I will end this post with photos after we left the shores of the lake and heading inland to our refugio for the night!

Refugio Chileno, Torres del Paine, national park, Chile, Patagonia, nature, outdoors, photo, Olympus

Leaving the lake behind

Refugio Chileno, Torres del Paine, national park, Chile, Patagonia, nature, outdoors, photo, Olympus

Neat landscape

Refugio Chileno, Torres del Paine, national park, Chile, Patagonia, nature, outdoors, photo, Olympus

The canyon or gorge looking towards the Campamento

Refugio Chileno, Torres del Paine, national park, Chile, Patagonia, nature, outdoors, photo, Olympus

The canyon or gorge looking towards the lake

Refugio Chileno, Torres del Paine, national park, Chile, Patagonia, nature, outdoors, photo, Olympus

The canyon or gorge looking towards the lake

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Back to day 3.

And on to the last day:  day 5!

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Exploring Old Philadelphia – Liberty and Independence

Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, travel, photo, Samsung Galaxy

This past January I traveled to Philadelphia to visit family.  It was BITTERLY cold but that did not stop my uncle from taking me around.  It had been a couple of decades since I had last seen Liberty Bell and my uncle told me the whole place had been re-done so off we went, from the Broomall area east towards the city.

Philadelphia grabs a hold of my imagination for two very important reasons:

  1. The history of this country is anchored to this city.  Just thinking of all the important conversations and events that happened leading into our independence and afterwards is mind-boggling.  The downtown retains some key spots that are just as they were but, of course, progress also has erased some of it.
  2. My family ended up in Philadelphia for a few years after leaving Cuba in the early 1960s.  I was born after they left Philly but the city plays a key role in my family’s history so, though I didn’t live there and have only visited a few times, it is close to my heart.  Just thinking all that my family must have gone through as recent immigrants moves me to no end.

Liberty Bell

The entire “mall” area around Independence Hall has been re-worked with the construction of a new visitor center and the National Constitution Center.

Independence Hall, snow, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, travel, photo, Samsung Galaxy

Independence Hall and its more modern neighbors

Constitution Center, snow, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, travel, photo, Samsung Galaxy

The National Constitution Center

But the belle of the ball is still Liberty Bell.

Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, travel, photo, Samsung Galaxy

Here she is with Independence Hall behind it

It is housed at the visitor center as opposed to its former home – originally the Pennsylvania State House which is now known as Independence Hall (thanks in no small part to the fact that Philly is no longer the capital of Pennsylvania!).  The visitor center is not overwhelming, in fact, it is very well designed and very informative.  It is not the type of place you speed through the space to just get to the star of the show (well, maybe some do it…).

Independence Hall, visitor center,Liberty Bell,, snow, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, travel, photo, Samsung Galaxy

The latest home of Liberty Bell

Independence Hall, visitor center,Liberty Bell,, snow, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, travel, photo, Samsung Galaxy

Well laid out and open space at the center

Independence Hall, visitor center,Liberty Bell,, snow, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, travel, photo, Samsung Galaxy

Many informative displays

The bell, which weighs slightly more than 2,000 pounds, dates from the 1750s and is famous not only for being a key symbol of the United States’ nationhood but also for its crack.  It earned it first crack when it first was rung after arriving in Philly… not an auspicious start but goes to show that you can’t go by first impressions!  Anyway, the bell was recast to try to fix it but it cracked again in the 1800s and kept cracking over the years.  We sure hope that crack is stable by now!

Independence Hall

This building has had quite a life.  Built between the 1730s and the 1750s to serve as the colony of Pennsylvania’s legislature, it hosted the Second Continental Congress during which the Declaration of Independence was adopted.  Later it is where the constitution was drafted and signed.  Both documents were signed in the Assembly Hall which is set up as it was back then.   The building certainly has a special place in the history of the United States.

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Assembly Hall

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Court Room in Congress Hall

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House of Representatives Chamber at Congress Hall

Senate Chamber, Congress Hall, Independence Hall, Philadelphia, US history, travel, museum, photo

Senate Chamber in Congress Hall

Senate Chamber, Congress Hall, Independence Hall, Philadelphia, US history, travel, museum, photo

Senate Chamber in Congress Hall

Today, a good bit of what is there are reconstructions.  The central part of the building is original but the steeple and side wings are not.  The wings were last re-built in 1898 – a little disappointing that it is not the original space but inevitable in many ways.

There are many more sites in downtown Philly to review our past and celebrate our nation.  Make sure you make the time to explore one this birthplace of the United States’ birth!  Happy 4th of July!

Trekking the W Circuit at the Torres del Paine: Day 3

Torres del Paine, national park, Chile, Patagonia, nature, outdoors, photo, Olympus

Day 3 started with me looking out the window from my room at Refugio Paine Grande to the tents that some slept in.  It is incredibly hard to believe anyone could sleep in those with the high winds experienced.  But, some did!

Refugio Paine Grande, Torres del Paine, Chile, hiking, trekking, Patagonia nature, adventure, photo, travel, Olympus

The campsite at Refugio Paine Grande on a wet morning

It was a nice start to the day though it would not remain so for the entire hike that day.

Refugio Paine Grande, Torres del Paine, Chile, hiking, trekking, Patagonia nature, adventure, photo, travel, Olympus

Sun rising…

Refugio Paine Grande, Torres del Paine, Chile, hiking, trekking, Patagonia nature, adventure, photo, travel, Olympus

Looking towards the torres at Refugio Paine Grande

Refugio Paine Grande, Torres del Paine, Chile, hiking, trekking, Patagonia nature, adventure, photo, travel, Olympus

Looking at one wing of the refugio

Headed to the Campamento Italiano and the French Glacier

We left camp around 9:15 AM.  Our next meal would happen about 3 hours later…

Skottsberg Lake, Torres del Paine, Chile, hiking, trekking, Patagonia nature, adventure, photo, travel, Olympus

Walking along Skottsberg Lake headed to Campamento Italiano

The main attraction for the day would be to see the valley of the Glaciar Francés (French Glacier).  To get there, we would detour from the main route taking us from Refugio Paine Grande to our destination for the night:  Refugio Los Cuernos.  It would imply a very long day of hiking to the Campamento Británico (British Camp) and back out requiring a steep climb.  I was not sure I would have the energy for the very long day that would result from the hike (a total of 15 miles in about 10 hrs) but was not going to miss it if the group went (always a good motivator!).  But the weather made the decision for us.  Visibility was going to be too low for the trek to the valley to be worth it.  However, our leads suggested that we hit the “mirador” spot from which one could, at least, see the glacier.  After a lunch stop at the Campamento Italiano (Italian Camp), we left for the mirador, despite slight rain, and it was a nice compromise worth the trouble (about an hour roundtrip – not bad!).  We also saw the Paine Grande Glacier above the French Glacier.

Campamento Italiano, Torres del Paine, Chile, hiking, trekking, Patagonia nature, adventure, photo, travel, Olympus

Arriving at the Campamento Italiano

Campamento Italiano, Torres del Paine, Chile, hiking, trekking, Patagonia nature, adventure, photo, travel, Olympus

Upon arrival at the Campamento Italiano

ilivetotravel, Glaciar Frances, French glacier, Torres del Paine, national park, Chile, Patagonia, nature, outdoors, photo, Olympus

The view of the French glacier

rocks, Torres del Paine, national park, Chile, Patagonia, nature, outdoors, photo, Olympus

Beautiful smooth rocks

On to Refugio Los Cuernos

The remainder of the hike went smoothly though the weather was not spectacular.  It was very muddy at spots and there were a few places were boards had been placed to walk on since it got too muddy.  On one of those, I lost my balance as the planks were not quite horizontal and I fell off.  Luckily for me, I nailed the landing (2 ft down).  Wish there were a video of it!  Still we enjoyed the closer views of the torres as we headed to our resting place for the night (and a hot meal!).Torres del Paine, national park, Chile, Patagonia, nature, outdoors, photo, OlympusTorres del Paine, national park, Chile, Patagonia, nature, outdoors, photo, OlympusTorres del Paine, national park, Chile, Patagonia, nature, outdoors, photo, Olympus

And finally… at the Refugio Los Cuernos!

Towards the last part of the hike, we hit Lake Nordenskjold and by 4 PM, we made it to the refugio.

Refugio Los Cuernos, lodging, Torres del Paine, national park, Chile, Patagonia, nature, outdoors, photo, Olympus

Welcome to Refugio Los Cuernos!

We enjoyed white fish for dinner, wine and games.  I was out like a light before 10:30 PM!

Refugio Los Cuernos, lodging, Torres del Paine, national park, Chile, Patagonia, nature, outdoors, photo, Olympus

Typical room at the refugio

Refugio Los Cuernos, lodging, Torres del Paine, national park, Chile, Patagonia, nature, outdoors, photo, Samsung Galaxy

Dinner was always a good time to chat!

Refugio Los Cuernos, lodging, Torres del Paine, national park, Chile, Patagonia, nature, outdoors, photo, Samsung Galaxy

Outdoors at the refugio – it was very windy!

We were one happy bunch, and not forgetting why we were doing this:  for the kids!

nature, outdoors, travel, photo, Refugio Los Cuernos, lodging, Torres del Paine, national park, Chile, Patagonia, nature, outdoors, photo, Samsung Galaxy, Torres del Paine

Trekkers and the supporting crew

——–  Read more about the trek ———

Day 1 at Torres del Paine

Day 2 at Torres del Paine

On to day 4 at Torres del Paine!

Hiking around Fitz Roy in Argentina

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Great Drive Series – Along the Columbia River in Oregon

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Oregon has been a place I have always been wanting to go.  When the opportunity to go on a business trip to Portland arose, I was thrilled.  Though I was not able to append a weekend on either end of the business trip to get to explore more, I did have a Sunday afternoon and the hours after office hours to check some of the area.

My favorite part was driving along the Columbia River Gorge.  I had not read up much about the area before going and it surprised to discover there was a gorge along parts of the Columbia River, near Portland.  I discovered it by looking outside my seat window as we were close to land in PDX.  I was very lucky to have picked a window seat (I am a serial aisler) and that it was on the right side of the plane which not only afforded me the opportunity to discover the gorge but also to see Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Adams.  (Clearly, the airplane’s window was a little dirty and, seemingly, so was the air right above – notice the brownish line killing my clear view of the top of Mt. St. Helens).

Mt St Helens, Mt Adams, Columbia River, Columbia River gorge, airplane view, travel, photo, Samsung Galaxy

Mt. St. Helens on the left, Mt. Adams on the right; the Columbia River and the gorge in the middle

Mt St Helens, Mt Adams, Columbia River, Columbia River gorge, airplane view, travel, photo, Samsung Galaxy, Portland, Oregon

Close up of the mountains (and the window smudge!)

Getting to the Columbia River Gorge from Portland was very easy.  Just take I-84 East.  To visit the most famous of the waterfalls, Multnomah, one doesn’t even really have to get off the interstate:  there is a parking area in the middle of the interstate (a rest area) and a tunnel under the lanes to get to the waterfall.

Portland, Columbia River, Oregon, Multnomah Falls, gorge, scenic, nature, outdoors, Samsung Galaxy, photo, travel

At the top of the photo, you can see the rest area

But it is nicer to get off earlier (at Troutdale or Corbett) and then do the scenic route, passing other waterfalls along the way.  The scenery is beautiful.Portland, Columbia River, Oregon, Multnomah Falls, gorge, scenic, nature, outdoors, Samsung Galaxy, photo, travel Portland, Columbia River, Oregon, Multnomah Falls, gorge, scenic, nature, outdoors, Samsung Galaxy, photo, travel Portland, Columbia River, Oregon, Multnomah Falls, gorge, scenic, nature, outdoors, Samsung Galaxy, photo, travel Portland, Columbia River, Oregon, Multnomah Falls, gorge, scenic, nature, outdoors, Samsung Galaxy, photo, travel

The first main stop is phenomenal:  Vista House on the Crown Point Scenic Corridor.  You enjoy great vistas up- and down-river of the Columbia River from this high vantage point.  I wish I had been there for sunrise or sunset (or both) – bet the view would have been even better!Columbia River, Portland, Oregon, gorge, Vista House, nature, outdoors, travel, Samsung Galaxy, photoColumbia River, Portland, Oregon, gorge, Vista House, nature, outdoors, travel, Samsung Galaxy, photo Columbia River, Portland, Oregon, gorge, Vista House, nature, outdoors, travel, Samsung Galaxy, photo Columbia River, Portland, Oregon, gorge, Vista House, nature, outdoors, travel, Samsung Galaxy, photo Columbia River, Portland, Oregon, gorge, Vista House, nature, outdoors, travel, Samsung Galaxy, photo, vista

After Vista House continuing eastbound, a series of waterfalls come before getting to Multnomah Falls, the tallest falls in the state.  There are several trails available to get out and walk.  I reserved my limited time to go up the Multnomah Falls which rises over 600 ft.  Multnomah, falls, waterfalls, Oregon, Columbia River, gorge, scenic drive, outdoors, nature, travel, photo, Samsung Galaxy

I did the round trip up and down in slightly less than an hour.  It is nice they numbered the switchbacks going up but it certainly made me anxious to get to the last one – I’d rather not know how many I have left!

Latourell Falls on the left and Multnomah Falls on the right

Latourell Falls on the left and Multnomah Falls on the right

Multnomah, falls, waterfalls, Oregon, Columbia River, gorge, scenic drive, outdoors, nature, travel, photo, Samsung Galaxy Multnomah, falls, waterfalls, Oregon, Columbia River, gorge, scenic drive, outdoors, nature, travel, photo, Samsung Galaxy Multnomah, falls, waterfalls, Oregon, Columbia River, gorge, scenic drive, outdoors, nature, travel, photo, Samsung Galaxy

Multnomah, falls, waterfalls, Oregon, Columbia River, gorge, scenic drive, outdoors, nature, travel, photo, Samsung Galaxy

At the top of Multnomah!

Multnomah, falls, waterfalls, Oregon, Columbia River, gorge, scenic drive, outdoors, nature, travel, photo, Samsung Galaxy

Yikes, close to the edge!

I do wish I had had time to go to the coast and visit the Lewis & Clark National Wildlife Refuge.  I enjoyed reading the story of Lewis & Clark a few years ago and would have enjoyed seeing where their journey ended where the Columbia River meets the Pacific Ocean.  Next time!

Trekking the W Circuit at the Torres del Paine: Day 2

Grey glacier, Chile, Torres del Paine, W circuit, glacier hike, Olympus

After a successful day one in the Torres del Paine National Park, in southern Chile, we were ready to embark on day two.  Our group got split into two groups and I, sadly, got assigned to the group that was leaving earlier that morning…  The good news was that part one of our day was going to be a glacier hike!  Yes, we were going to go by small boat to the Grey glacier, climb to it from the moraine, and then walk all around it.  Well, not ALL around it but a portion of it.

Hiking at Grey glacier in the Torres del Paine National Park

I woke up 30 minutes earlier than I needed to, not on purpose.  Lights had not come on at the refugio and I had not expected this so had not let with headlamp out so I tumbled my way to the restroom down the hall…  Fun times!

The boat ride was uneventful, very short – around 20 minutes.  Getting off the boat was tricky as there was a big gap and we had to jump to a narrow ledge on the rocks.  No accidents in either group, glad to report!  From there, I began the hike along the moraine to get to the glacier proper.  It took about 2 hours under a constant drizzle.  It made me nervous that the rocks were wet with the soft rain so I probably went slower than my normal.  But it was slate which was surprisingly not slippery but the mistruster in me wouldn’t take risks 🙂  I did not get to appreciate how beautiful this part was until the return hike back to the boat when I was more awake, it was not raining, and I was riding high after the time on the glacier!

Grey glacier, Chile, Torres del Paine, W circuit, glacier hike, Olympus

Our group after making it to the edge of the icefield

In any case, we got to the glacier and we were excited to get to the spot where we would enter the ice field.  At that spot, the gear was waiting for us and a brief class on how to walk on ice and not die.  We put on the crampons (mine looked like Peary or Amundsen used them over 100 years ago…), learned to use the ice pick, and climbed onto the ice.

Grey glacier, Chile, Torres del Paine, W circuit, glacier hike, Olympus, crampons

My crampons – antiquess!

It had stopped raining shortly before getting to the ice which was nice as we had no rain throughout the rest of our glacier hike and the sun was out most of the time.  We greatly enjoyed looking down crevices and watching pools of water on the ice that look like mirrors.  We spent somewhere between an hour and hour-and-a-half doing that at it was really enjoyable and a great experience.

Grey glacier, Chile, Torres del Paine, W circuit, glacier hike, Olympus

My friends Mira and Kim – real explorers!

Grey glacier, Chile, Torres del Paine, W circuit, glacier hike, Olympus

Beautiful colors!

Grey glacier, Chile, Torres del Paine, W circuit, glacier hike, Olympus

Posing with all my gear on

Grey glacier, Chile, Torres del Paine, W circuit, glacier hike, Olympus

Trekking along the glacier

Grey glacier, Chile, Torres del Paine, W circuit, glacier hike, Olympus

Coming off the ice field onto the moraine under MUCH better weather!

I couldn’t help but compare it to my helicopter ride onto the Franz Josef glacier in New Zealand.  On the one hand, flying the heli to the glacier saved time and we spent more time on the glacier.  On the other hand, climbing the moraine was a neat experience.  However, I have to say I’d prefer doing Franz Josef over this one as we got to crawl in ice caves and do things like that over there.  But I enjoyed this hike nevertheless because glaciers are amazing and I was with good friends!

glacier hike, blue ice, outdoors, adventure

Fun at the Franz Josef glacier

Making it from Refugio Grey to Refugio Paine Grande

We made it back to the Refugio Grey to have some lunch prior to getting going on part two of our day:  hiking back to Refugio Paine Grande, where we had landed by boat the day before.  The lunch was a delicious plate of spaghetti and meatballs as you can appreciate from the picture below!

spaghetti, Refugio Grey, lunch, Chile, Torres del Paine, trekking

Delicious!

We started off at 3 PM.  It rained a good bit so I did not take many pictures that day (the good news was that the rain was hitting us from behind vs. the front).  It was not a big disappointment, though, because we were on the same trail we had walked the day before in the other direction.  It finally cleared up when we were getting to the end point (around 7 PM) which was nice.  I got a couple of pictures in…

Torres del Paine, Chile, trekking, hiking, South America, Olympus

Not ideal weather but it was not hard rain either…

Torres del Paine, Chile, trekking, hiking, South America, Olympus

The weather was beginning to clear up…

Torres del Paine, Chile, trekking, hiking, South America, Olympus

My hiking partner that afternoon was Mira. We were thrilled to see the refugio ahead and blue skies!

Day 2 was one for the books and, in spite of the rain, was pretty incredible!  And after a great meal (meat with mashed potatoes and red wine and a brownie!), time to rest!

Torres del Paine, Chile, trekking, hiking, South America, Olympus

My bed was the bottom one!

——–  Read more about the trek ———

Day 1 at Torres del Paine

Day 3 at Torres del Paine

Hiking around Fitz Roy in Argentina

Fitz Roy and Glacier National Park: Nature at Its Best

Patagonia, El Chaltén, Argentina, Fitz Roy, Piedras Blancas, glacier

My recent trek with Trekking for Kids in Patagonia, the southern part of the continental Americas, had two components:

  1. A day hike and a glacier visit in the Argentinian side of Patagonia, and
  2. A 5-day hike in the Chilean side of Patagonia, including a glacier hike.

Here, I will cover the day hike in Argentina.  A later post will cover the glacier visit to Perito Moreno glacier and further posts will cover the 5-hike along the W circuit in the Torres del Paine Park in Chile.

Hiking in Argentina:  Fitz Roy and its siblings

The day hike in Argentina took us to a beautiful setting north of the town of El Calafate in the large southern provide of Santa Cruz:  the National Glaciers Park and Reserve (Parque y Reserva Nacional Los Glaciares).  After landing in El Calafate from Buenos Aires (about 3 hour+ flight time), we headed to the small town of El Chaltén (established in 1985 mainly to serve as a border town and entry point to the area we were going to hike in).  From El Chaltén we would start our day hike anchored on the majestic Fitz Roy peak.  What makes this area magnificent is not just Fitz Roy (which used to be called El Chaltén) but the series of peaks that go with it along the glaciers that sit in the spaces in between.

Fitz Roy, Chaltén, glacier national park, parque nacional glaciares, Patagonia, Argentina, hiking, trekking, photo, travel, Samsung Galaxy, mountains, clouds

The peaks and the town of El Chaltén as we approached at the end of a day

Approaching Fitz Roy taking Senda El Pilar

We left our hotel, El Barranco, on a vehicle to take us to the entry point for our hike.  It was not the typical entry point as we had to cut through a small hotel (Hostería El Pilar) that sits right by one of the entrances to the park (we had permission to do so!).  We reached the trail we were looking for, Senda El Pilar, which we took and followed the Río Blanco facing first Torre Eléctrica and its glacier, then moving on to see the Marconi glacier.Fitz Roy, Chaltén, glacier national park, Senda el Pilar, Patagonia, Argentina, hiking, trekking, photo, travel, Olympus,

Fitz Roy, Chaltén, glacier national park, Patagonia, Argentina, hiking, trekking, photo, travel, Samsung Galaxy, Torre Electrica

Torre Eléctrica initially blocks full view of Fitz Roy upon starting the hike

There are quite a few spots to stop for great pictures but Fitz Roy and its siblings are ever-present.  In no time, we got to a point with a great view of Fitz Roy and the Piedras Blancas (“white rocks”) glacier:

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One of the great views from Senda El Pilar

Fitz Roy, Chaltén, glacier national park, parque nacional glaciares, Patagonia, Argentina, hiking, trekking, photo, travel, Samsung Galaxy, mountains, blue sky

Gotta play with the camera’s features sometime…

Fitz Roy, Chaltén, glacier national park, parque nacional glaciares, Patagonia, Argentina, hiking, trekking, photo, travel, Samsung Galaxy, mountains, blue sky

Headed to Poincenot camp

Fitz Roy, Chaltén, glacier national park, parque nacional glaciares, Patagonia, Argentina, hiking, trekking, photo, travel, Samsung Galaxy, mountains, blue sky

Enjoying a break and the view (Fitz Roy is the tallest and Poincenot peak second tallest)

Soon after that, at Poincenot camp, Senda El Pilar would end and we would then turn to take Senda Fitz Roy to return to El Chaltén.  Poincenot has camping grounds that have latrines if people prefer using those.  From Poincenot, trekkers can go up to Laguna de los Tres but we did not do that portion.

Fitz Roy, Chaltén, glacier national park, parque nacional glaciares, Patagonia, Argentina, hiking, trekking, photo, travel, Samsung Galaxy

Markers were strategically placed along the route

We proceed to take Senda Fitz Roy for the second and longer part of our hike.  On that trail, we hit the Capri Lake where some enjoyed cooling off their feet – or even a quick dip!

Fitz Roy, Chaltén, glacier national park, parque nacional glaciares, Patagonia, Argentina, hiking, trekking, photo, travel, Samsung Galaxy, mountains, blue sky

Lake Capri and the peaks behind it

This was one of the last great vantage points for admiring the peaks and glaciers.  We entered different terrain as we proceeded to the last part of our hike.

Glacier National Park, Patagonia, Argentina, trekking, hiking, photo, travel, Olympus, El Chalten

Along Senda Fitz Roy

Glacier National Park, Patagonia, Argentina, trekking, hiking, photo, travel, Olympus, El Chalten

Along Senda Fitz Roy

Glacier National Park, Patagonia, Argentina, trekking, hiking, photo, travel, Olympus, El Chalten

Along Senda Fitz Roy:  these rocks are much taller than they appear – we saw rock climbers on it

Once we finished the trail, we just walked right into town!

Argentina, Patagonia, El Chaltén, Senda Fitz Roy, trekking, hiking, Olympus, photo

Senda Fitz Roy leads us back to El Chaltén!

Our hike had been around 15 kms and it took us around 7 hours with a few nice stops along the way.  I highly recommend this hike – not strenuous but moderate and with the amazing views I have shown you here (and others I did not!).

Panther Creek: A Challenging and Rewarding Hike in North Georgia

Panther Creek, trail, hiking, Georgia, cascade, waterfall, nature, outdoors, photo, Olympus

I was looking for a hike that I could do within 4 hours that was not right on the outskirts of Atlanta.  A friend and I were looking for a more challenging hike than the usual so after selecting a few finalists, we settled on Panther Creek, about an hour and a half north of Atlanta.  We decided to hike 3.5 hrs in to the larger waterfalls and then back.  The entrance to the trail on Panther Creek is on Old Historic 441 in north Georgia, northwest of the town of Ellijay.

Soon after entering the trail, you go under the new 441. After that, you leave hearing highway noise and slowly, but surely, start hearing water running sounds…  The trail is more natural (read, not groomed) and that makes it quite a neat trail to hike.

Panther Creek, trail, hiking, Georgia, cascade, waterfall, nature, outdoors, photo, Olympus

Towards the start of the Panther Creek trail – love the woods

Panther Creek, trail, hiking, Georgia, cascade, waterfall, nature, outdoors, photo, Samsung Galaxy

Lots of rock outcrops where one can imagine people ages ago taking shelter under them

You go down a narrow path and slowly go downhill. Eventually you are closer to creek level and closer to the creek itself.

Panther Creek, trail, hiking, Georgia, cascade, waterfall, nature, outdoors, photo, Olympus

Beautiful colors at the time of the year I visited

Panther Creek, trail, hiking, Georgia, cascade, waterfall, nature, outdoors, photo, Samsung Galaxy

Panther Creek, trail, hiking, Georgia, cascade, waterfall, nature, outdoors, photo, Olympus

More beauty

Panther Creek, trail, hiking, Georgia, cascade, waterfall, nature, outdoors, photo, Olympus

Still waters

There are several low wooden bridges to cross and then one arrives to a first set of cascades with a space that is perfect for camping overnight.

Panther Creek, trail, hiking, Georgia, cascade, waterfall, nature, outdoors, photo, Samsung Galaxy

One of the bridges crossing the creek

Panther Creek, trail, hiking, Georgia, cascade, waterfall, nature, outdoors, photo, Samsung Galaxy

Love these cascades

A couple of times the markers for the path were not visible and we proceeded trusting that the wild we saw in front of us was just an overgrown trail (and, mercifully, we were right!).

Continuing on from that spot, another 30-45 minutes or so depending on pace, one arrives at the upper waterfalls with a sort-of sandy beach to camp overnight or just recover from the hike in. Right before arriving at this waterfall, the terrain becomes a little more challenging and fun. One has to hug the big rocks holding on to the steel-cable handrails. These handrails are anchored on posts, some of which are sturdy and some of which have come loose and are floating, being kept alive by the two neighboring posts! One does need to proceed with care as falling from this rock outcrop would not be fun.

Panther Creek, trail, hiking, Georgia, cascade, waterfall, nature, outdoors, photo, Samsung Galaxy

The steel cable handrail itself is precarious!

Panther Creek was both rewarding and challenging. The raw feel of the trails was a welcome change from some of the other trails I hike in north Atlanta (which are quite nice but well groomed). I highly recommend doing this trail – I sure hope to do it again!

Panther Creek, trail, hiking, Georgia, cascade, waterfall, nature, outdoors, photo, Samsung Galaxy

A nice break after 3.5 miles!

—————————————————————————————————————

Read about these other great hikes in Georgia:

Sope Creek

Sweetwater Creek

Island Ford

Tallulah Gorge

… and more to come!

On the Camino de Santiago: Day 1 from Sarria to Barbadelo

Camino, Santiago, Compostela, trekking, hiking, pilgrimage, Spain, yellow arrow, kilometer marker, travel, photo, Olympus

As I explained in an earlier post, my time to do the Camino de Santiago was limited so we started in Sarria, west of León, 110 kms from the end point in Santiago de Compostela.

Camino, Santiago, Compostela, trekking, hiking, pilgrimage, Spain, yellow arrow, kilometer marker, travel, photo, Olympus

The first marker of our hike: the 110 kilometer marker!

The itinerary though had us visiting O Cebreiro and Samos prior to starting the hike so that didn’t leave us much time on Day 1 to hike.  So we hiked a very short distance that day going from Sarria to Barbadelo, a small town with a very nice small hotel “Casa Barbadelo.”

Camino, Santiago, Compostela, trekking, hiking, pilgrimage, Spain, yellow arrow, travel, photo, Olympus

Our group in Sarria, about to start the Camino!

I am certainly glad to have seen O Cebreiro and Samos but it made for a long day on the road and I was, along with my fellow trekkers, eager to get on the Camino for real.  Though the hike that day was very short (1.5 hours or so), it was a good warm-up.

Camino, Santiago, Compostela, trekking, hiking, pilgrimage, Spain, yellow arrow, travel, photo, shell, Samsung Galaxy

The ever-present shell of the Camino – you see it anywhere in Europe where the Camino goes through!

Camino, Santiago, Compostela, trekking, hiking, pilgrimage, Spain, yellow arrow, travel, photo, Olympus

The way forward marked by the sign and the yellow arrow!

The terrain we crossed went by some major highway but it was very rural and lush, crossing farms along the way.

Camino, Paredes, Santiago, Compostela, trekking, hiking, pilgrimage, Spain, yellow arrow, travel, bridge, photo, Canon EOS Rebel

Highway near Paredes

Camino, Santiago, Compostela, trekking, hiking, pilgrimage, Spain, yellow arrow, travel, photo, Canon EOS Rebel

Very lush lands between Sarria and Barbadelo

The highlight was crossing a 12th century bridge named the Aspera bridge that crosses the Celeiro River.

Aspera, bridge, Ceileiro, river, Camino, Santiago, Compostela, trekking, hiking, pilgrimage, Spain, yellow arrow, travel, photo, Olympus

The Aspera bridge (and the ever-present yellow arrows!)

We did enjoy arriving at Casa Barbadelo where we shared 3 rooms among eight of us.

Barbadelo, Camino, Santiago, Compostela, trekking, hiking, pilgrimage, Spain, yellow arrow, travel, photo, Samsung Galaxy

Approaching Casa Barbadelo

The rooms were basic but spacious and the buildings in Casa Barbadelo were quite new.  The grounds were quite nice and the place even had a pool.

Barbadelo, Camino, Santiago, Compostela, trekking, hiking, pilgrimage, Spain, yellow arrow, travel, photo, Samsung Galaxy

The front yard of Casa Barbadelo – note the outdoor seating area on the right

We enjoyed a GREAT meal and lots of good laughs that night accompanied (or triggered?) by one or two glasses of sangria.  A perfect ending to a long but short (does that make sense?!), easy first day on the Camino!

Landing in San Juan, Puerto Rico – A Great View!

Puerto Rico, airplane, window seat, San Juan, landing, ocean, blue sea ,El Morro, Old San Juan, travel, photo, Samsung Galaxy

I moved to the Isla del Encanto, Puerto Rico, when I was two years old and lived there until I finished high school.  During my many trips back to the island, I have always enjoyed the landing as I get a great view no matter on which side of the airplane I sit on (though the ocean side is more colorful as you can see!).  I thought it may be cool to share the view from my window seat as the plan crosses over land near Cataño, just west of Old San Juan.  Enjoy the pictures of this, one of the prettiest landings ever!

Puerto Rico, airplane, window seat, San Juan, landing, ocean, blue sea ,El Morro, Old San Juan, travel, photo, Samsung Galaxy

Approaching Cataño (Old San Juan on the background)

Puerto Rico, airplane, window seat, San Juan, landing, ocean, blue sea ,El Morro, Old San Juan, travel, photo, Samsung Galaxy

Flying over Cataño, heading to the San Juan Bay (top right)

Puerto Rico, airplane, window seat, San Juan, landing, ocean, blue sea ,El Morro, Old San Juan, travel, photo, Samsung Galaxy

Flyover near the Bacardi Distillery, getting a lil closer to the San Juan Bay! Isla de Cabras towards the top left.

Puerto Rico, airplane, window seat, San Juan, landing, ocean, blue sea ,El Morro, Old San Juan, travel, photo, Samsung Galaxy

Looking down on El Morro and its beautiful grounds, where I used to fly a kite as a kid!

Puerto Rico, airplane, window seat, San Juan, landing, ocean, blue sea ,El Morro, Old San Juan, travel, photo, Samsung Galaxy

Old San Juan, on the left, with the Isla Grande airport to the right (built by the U.S. Navy prior to WW II)

Puerto Rico, airplane, window seat, San Juan, landing, ocean, blue sea ,El Morro, Old San Juan, travel, photo, Samsung Galaxy

The port of San Juan and the Puerto Rican Capitol almost on the center

Puerto Rico, airplane, window seat, San Juan, landing, ocean, blue sea ,El Morro, Old San Juan, travel, photo, Samsung Galaxy

The old and charming neighborhood of Miaramar in the front, with the Condado hotels on the background

Puerto Rico, airplane, window seat,Condado, Miramar, Santurce,  San Juan, landing, ocean, blue sea ,El Morro, Old San Juan, travel, photo, Samsung Galaxy

Crossing from Miramar on the left to Santurce

Puerto Rico, airplane, window seat, Condado, Miramar, Santurce, San Juan, landing, ocean, blue sea ,El Morro, Old San Juan, travel, photo, Samsung Galaxy

Condado hotels in the background and my school by the blue little spot in the middle!

Puerto Rico, airplane, Santurce, Barrio Obrero, window seat, San Juan, landing, ocean, blue sea ,El Morro, Old San Juan, travel, photo, Samsung Galaxy

Moving from Santurce on the left to Barrio Obrero on the right

Puerto Rico, airplane, window seat, San Juan, landing, ocean, blue sea ,El Morro, Old San Juan, travel, photo, Samsung Galaxy

Final final approach, parallel to the Baldorioty de Castro highway

Puerto Rico, airplane, window seat, San Juan, landing, ocean, blue sea ,El Morro, Old San Juan, travel, photo, Samsung Galaxy

Cemetery

Puerto Rico, airplane, window seat, Isla Verde, San Juan, landing, ocean, blue sea ,El Morro, Old San Juan, travel, photo, Samsung Galaxy

Laguna San José and some of the awesome Isla Verde high rises by the beach

Puerto Rico, airplane, Isla Verde, window seat, San Juan, landing, ocean, blue sea ,El Morro, Old San Juan, travel, photo, Samsung Galaxy

The cemetery where my grandparents and great grandmother are buried…

Puerto Rico, airplane, Isla Verde, window seat, San Juan, landing, ocean, blue sea ,El Morro, Old San Juan, travel, photo, Samsung Galaxy

And the final photo with the entrance of the airport and Isla Verde high rises and hotels in the background

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