Santorini is one of the many Greek islands in the Mediterranean, and is arguably the most beautiful place I’ve ever visited. The locals are friendly; the tourists are relaxed and there to have a good time, and the scenery is just unbelievable. You literally have to be there to soak in all of the island’s uniqueness.
The only drawback is that the island is really hard to get to. But isn’t everything that’s good in life?
If this isn’t Paradise, I don’t know what is.
One of the most beautiful places I’ve ever visited is Queenstown, New Zealand. The town calls itself The Adventure Capital of the World, and rightfully so. There are so many adrenaline-pumping activities available, the hardest part is choosing which ones to partake. My personal favorite was the Shotover Canyon Swing, but that’s a whole other discussion by itself.
I visited Queenstown during their winter, when The Remarkables was covered in white powder. The weather was chilly, but comfortable, and the air was the freshest I’ve ever breathed, especially after it rained. Having lived in smog-filled cities all of my life, the Queenstown experience was as refreshing as can be.
I broke off from my tour one morning and went to the lake while the sun was still waking up. I walked around the dock and saw this interesting steam ship. It turned out to be the TSS Earnslaw, one of the oldest tourest attractions in the area. It was getting ready to haul a bunch of passengers on another day’s worth of memorable journeys.
I loved how it was the perfect foreground for The Remarkables. Or is it the other way around?
One of my best travel memories was when I took a tour of Spain. Having been to Europe several times, country-hopping across so many different cultures in a short period of time, it was nice to stay in one country for a change. Not that the various cities across Spain were all the same; in fact, far from it. It was just good to see so much of one country during the same trip. Anyway, I digress.
I got into Spain a day early and roamed around Madrid aimlessly. Whenever I have all day in a new city with no set timeline, I tend to just grab a map and go. Since the whole city is foreign to me, I figured if I get lost, so be it. I might end up being pleasantly surprised. That’s how I felt when I stumbled upon the Parque del Buen Retiro. Now, it’s not like the park was hidden in some back alley, so I probably would have found it eventually, but it was still nice to see it while having no expectations whatsoever.
The park reminded me of Central Park in New York. First of all, it’s huge and in the middle of a dense city. Also, it has a lake that you can row boats on during the summer time. It’s just a very relaxing atmosphere where friends and family take a time out from the city and enjoy life. It also didn’t hurt that the Banda Sinfónica de Madrid held a free concert during my visit.
I’d have to say my trip got off to a good start.
Row Boats at the Park
When you think of San Francisco, what is the first image that pops into your mind? If you’re like most people, you immediately picture the iconic Golden Gate Bridge. It’s no secret that visiting the bridge sits on top of pretty much every San Francisco “must do” list.
Having lived in San Francisco for quite a few years, I always took the bridge for granted. I’d get there eventually, I’d say. After all, I’ve driven across it countless times. In reality, it wasn’t until I moved away from The City that I wanted to spend some time on a photo opp of the bridge.
This photo was taken atop the Marin Headlands, just north of the bridge on the Marin County side. The hardest part wasn’t even taking the photo, but fighting through traffic, parking, and all the tourists trying to get a glimpse of the bridge at sunset. To be honest, I had never been at that location before and didn’t know what to expect, then almost made the rookie mistake of leaving too early. The wind was blowing hard, tipping over my crappy tripod (my new tripod is 10x better, thank goodness) and making life miserable. After a while, I decided I had enough and headed back to my car, but on my way out I passed by some people carrying full camera gear. Sensing they weren’t novices, I begrudgingly followed them back up the hill.
Once the sun went down and the bridge lit up, I saw the light.
That’s when I fell in love.
One of the greatest perks of living in LA is definitely the weather. While the rest of the country get snowstorms during the winter, we complain about 50 degree cloudy days. We do, however, pay for this privilege in the form of REALLY high taxes on pretty much everything.
Having been spoiled by the sun for most of the year, I hadn’t hiked much during the “winter” months, so I decided to go up to the Griffith Observatory last week. For those of you that are not from LA, the Observatory is a very well known destination here. Not only are its exhibits about the planets and stars well worth checking out, it is also high above the city, which can only mean great views of all of Los Angeles. The only variable is the smog that seems to hover above at all times.
I took this picture on Tuesday, when the Observatory was closed, and there were still loads of people there hiking, picnicking and enjoying the sunset. If you go on a weekend afternoon, expect to spend more than a few minutes trying to find a parking spot. I’ll take a picture next time right after a shower or windstorm. It’ll be interesting to see if downtown LA in the background clears up.
Downtown LA in the background on a smoggy / cloudy day