A Mountain Full of Magic by @robinski_

There is a country in the middle of the world called Ecuador, and there is a volcano in the middle of Ecuador, called Chimborazo.

Northwest of Riobamba, the Chimborazo rises. The majestic, imposing and eternal watchtower of the Universe. Covered with perpetual snow. It always shines at sunset and glows with the moonlight.

With a height of 6263.47 meters above sea level, it’s the furthest point from the center of the earth and the closest to the sun.This extinct volcano, has two shelters on its way to attempting summit. The first at 4850 m. and the second one at 5000 m. If you pass the second shelter, there is a magic lagoon in the middle of the glaciers called “Cóndor Cocha” at 5100m., which means “Condor Lagoon”. If you don’t know your way around this place and you don’t want to get lost, the safest way to get up there is with a local guide.

At the foot of this volcano you’ll be able to see some vicuñas and andean foxes. And at night, you may be lucky enough to appreciate the most beautiful starry skies you’ll ever get to see. If you love stargazing, this is the place for you. Having the Milky Way stretched out across the sky, while enjoying the stillness of the night and the freezing winds hitting your face, is a feeling like no other.

There are many legends about the Chimborazo, so I’ll tell you one of my favorites:

“The Children of Father Chimborazo” is an original legend of the central highlands of Ecuador. Among the indigenous and mestizo population of this area, there is a belief that the Chimborazo, commonly fecundates women who fall asleep at foot of the volcano, or urinate within its territory; and at the moment of giving birth, babies are born albinos: white skin, golden hair and ivory bones.

The story says that a long time ago, Mother Tungurahua -a volcano believed to be female- reproached her husband – the Chimborazo- for not giving her children as white as him. She was full of anger and as a way of revenge, she would spit on his face the ash and mud that boiled inside her belly.

To avoid the rebukes of Mother Tungurahua, the legend tells that he let a beautiful shepherdess pass by his downhills in pursuit of one of her lost sheep, there she found a beautiful white-skinned bean, lovingly picked it up and kept it between her waist and her womb.

It is said that from that moment on, the beautiful girl’s belly became bigger every day, month after month; until after nine moons she gave birth to a beautiful baby with white skin and golden hair, like an Apu -a mountain spirit- and very similar looking to Father Chimborazo. The baby became his firstborn.

Because of this legend, the population in the region calls the children born with these physical characteristics “The Children of the Hill or the Mountain”. Since then, it is believed that the albino babies are children of the Chimborazo.

 

 

Buenos Aires Best Coffee shops.

Birkin : It takes its name in honor of Jane Birkin , and has a retro decor with squared black and white floors, which gives it a New York look . This, added to the fact that Colombian coffee is prepared with excellence, has made it one of the most fashionable places in the city.
The menu consists of sandwiches and delicious cakes. For dessert, I suggest the spongy Chocotorta , stuffed with a lot of dulce de leche, how could it be otherwise. 3061 Republica Arabe Siria.

Café Cortazar : This cafe / bar installed in San Telmo in a building of 1889, in honor of the famous Argentine writer ; It is an indispensable destination for literature fans. In addition to the delicious food, it is a place where art exhibitions, literature talks, live music, etc. are held. Cabrera 3797

Salvaje Bakery : A very particular bakery, its founder says he wants to return to making bread in the traditional way. Thus use for its dough-less, not so common, ingredients : like rye and buckwheat. Then he lets it ferment, it ends up baking it in a floor oven with shovel. The results are extraordinary: an old bread, a bread that feeds.
Its menu of desserts and cakes , varies frequently and is different from everything offered by the city, among the highlights are the various types of cinnamon rolls and matcha pudding . Dorrego 1829. Palermo.

LAB: They call themselves: “Coffee Roasters”. If you are a connoisseur of coffee, this is the place to go. They have 6 filtering methods and use coffee beans from the best origins in the world. They are also sold in bags to take home.
In addition to cafeteria, they offer tastings and courses for amateur baristas. www.labcafe.com.ar

Florida Garden: It is on the list of “Notable Bars” of the city, due to its outstanding history. Located in the street Florida, this cafe frequented by Jorge Luis Borges and other notable artists, maintains the attitude of the 60s Upon entering, I try to imagine, which of these tables, was his favorite to sit and read, enjoying a coffee and some croissants. www.floridagarden.com

Ninina : A very fashionable cafeteria in Buenos Aires , that already has three stores because since it opened it maintained the quality of its products with excellence.
It is ideal for brunch, since the menu of coffees and teas is extensive and includes “Cold Brews”. They also have an interesting wine list and a wide menu that includes waffles , eggs Benedict and “Avocado Toast “. But what does it for me are the desserts, for me the best in the city, they are always freshly made and exhibited at the counters , as to increase the temptation to try them. www.ninina.com

Full City Coffee House : Its owners are a couple, formed by a British and a Colombian, which is why this cafe has a different menu, not only use Colombian coffee beans for their preparations, but also offer a variety of dishes inspired by their countries – no it isn’t common to find arepas in Buenos Aires.
They also offer roasted coffee beans, to go. www.fullcitycoffeehouse.com

Coco Café: Upon returning from Birkin , you find this pleasant little coffeeshop  / restaurant. With large windows and outdoor tables is a good place to see the comings and goings of passers-by in this beautiful area of ​​Palermo.
The menu features salads, sandwiches and cakes as well as the classic Argentinian desserts alfajores de nutella or dulce de leche , rogel de dulce de leche with merengue and lemon pie. www.cococafe.com.ar

Vancouver, a West Coast Treasure.

by Ma. Paula Serrano @mpso_photography

From breathtaking mountain and glacier views to beautiful sandy beaches, Vancouver’s natural scenery is enough to amaze even the savviest of travelers. Not having visited Canada before, I didn’t really know what to expect from it. When you travel more to the United States than anywhere else as a kid, like I did, perhaps you miss out on the wonders that other parts of America have to offer. The usual comment that I received from people when I said that I was traveling to Vancouver was “Oh, Canada! You’ll freeze”, but believe me, the weather is not what calls your attention, or at least not the only thing…

Whether you’re a nature or city person, the range of activities that the city offers is plenty. Outdoor adventures, cultural experiences, or gastronomical delights, you can truly find it all. Although my stay in Vancouver was short (5 days) I got to know certain places that I absolutely recommend for travelers seeking to visit this gem:

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  1. Whistler

The first place I’ll recommend is for the adventurous ones. Whistler, located about an hour and a half from Vancouver, is a small ski-village for the reckless athletes seeking adrenaline. On the way to the ski-resort stop by Lions bay, as I did, to enjoy a cup of hot chocolate and a nice view. In whistler there are some good places to eat like Earl’s bar and grill, and later you can walk around and explore some of the cute shops which sell hand-crafted souvenirs at reasonable prices.

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2. Stanley Park

Stanley Park is a must-go, I recommend it to all tourists but especially to my fellow photographers. Even if you only stay in Vancouver for a couple of days, you can not miss out on it, besides, it doesn’t require much of your time. You can easily plan one activity in the morning and leave Stanley Park for a late afternoon walk to relax and enjoy the sunset. The park has an extension of 100 acres and is formed by three main gardens: The Ted and Mary Greig Rhododendron, The Rose and Floral display, and the Shakespeare garden. Within the park you can find around 3,500 rose bushes, 45 species of trees, and if you visit on spring you can witness a variation of colored cherry blossoms. For the more active tourists, bicycles are available (for rent) to go on a nice ride along the lake.

 

  1. Granville Island

Just when you thought Vancouver could not be as diverse as people say it is, you visit Granville Island. Located next to downtown and only 15 minutes away from several residential neighborhoods, this urban oasis has many attractions. It is the perfect place to visit if you are an avid shopper as there are several small stores that sell from beautiful photographs and paintings which feature the city’s highlights to jewelry and home decorations. If you like pets and animals, there are some cute little pet shops for our beloved companions to become even more spoiled. However, the best part of this island is not the shops but the relaxing and artistic vibe that you get when you stroll around it, as it is usual to find artistic performers attracting small crowds.

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  1. Gastown

And of course, because it is important to visit the historical sites of any city on a trip, I recommend Gastown. Gastown was Vancouver’s first downtown core named after the Yorkshire seaman Jack Deighton “Gassy”. The town, which more than a century ago functioned as the city’s seaport and center of trade, now stands as a “trendy mix” of fashion boutiques, tourism businesses, restaurants, and nightclubs. Taking a walk here is getting to know one of the city’s highlights.

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Vancouver is also the perfect destination for healthy foodies. Being a celiac myself, I know how challenging it can be to find gluten-free options, or for that matter, healthy options. Below I give a list of three restaurants that were beyond delicious, and had options for all (Vegan included).

 

  • “Meet” on Main

If you’re a vegetarian or vegan on a budget, this is the perfect spot for you. The restaurant’s menu ranges from delicious appetizers (shareable sizes), to healthy hamburgers and creative desserts. Choose the Nachos and hummus, or the garlic fries and you won’t regret it.

 

Address: 4288 Main St, Vancouver, BC V5V 3P9, Canada

 

  • The Sandbar

Located in Granville island, this place offers the best seafood you can get. The restaurant’s ambient is really nice, as there are piano performances most days a week. The service is really good, and if you have any allergies or food-preferences the waiters will help you feel completely safe. Take a pick on the wood-grilled halibut, one of the best seafood dishes I have ever had. I will say that the restaurant is not budget-friendly, and you should expect the plates to be kind of pricy.

 

Address: 1535 Johnston St #102, Vancouver, BC V6H 3R9, Canadá

 

 

  • Ten Ten Tapas

Although I enjoyed the two restaurants detailed above, this was by far my favorite. Ten Ten Tapas is located on beach avenue, on a beautifully-lighted peer with a view of the sea and downtown Vancouver. The location is only the first thing to appeal to the eyes, but the food will leave you wanting to come back. As it is a Tapas place I think it is better to go at night for a somewhat light dinner with friends/family. Despite the small size of the plates and the somehow high prices, the food is absolutely amazing and worth it. Hands down to the Chef for making a delicious and creative chocolate mousse mixed with pieces of mandarin.

 

Address: 1010 Beach Ave, Vancouver, BC V6E 1T7, Canada

 

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Tokyo, a City Made for the Ultimate Foodie.

Written by: @cazadordelomejor

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Japan is the ultimate foodie experience. Being one of the biggest food-experience seekers there is, I knew my next big trip had to be somewhere far, somewhere different and somewhere with a strong food culture. One step into Narita International Airport and I was already dreaming of what I’d be having for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

 Tokyo is a city with a huge food palette. You can scour the various neighborhoods and alleyways for the tastiest Ramen, Yakitori, Izakaya, Sushi, Tempura, Udon, Okonomiyaki, and Soba. You’ll find that many restaurants specialize on only one type of dish – it’s perfected from generation to generation.

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 Here is my breakdown of Tokyo’s six main districts and the food that can be devoured in each:

 Tsukiji & Ginza

 Home to the renowned Tsukiji Fish Market, you cannot leave this area without enjoying a traditional sushi omakase at Sushi Daiwa. This hole in the wall sushi joint opens up at 5:30 AM, get there early to get a seat. Then head to the inner market at Tsukiji which opens up to the public at 10:00 AM and navigate the enormous halls of the biggest seafood market in the world.

Highlights:

Sushi Omakase at Sushi Daiwa

Lunch menu at Sushi Tokami

Tori Paitan with an Egg at Kagari Soba

Japanese Confectionaries at Higashiya

House Blend at Cafe de L’Ambre

Seasonal Cocktail at Ginza Music Bar

Yakitori at BirdLand

Harajuku & Aoyama

Bursting with restaurants, coffee spots, shops, boutiques and vintage stores, it is one of the best neighborhoods to get your shopping and eating game on. Stroll along Omotesandō Street and see shops converted into architectural destinations. There’s something special about Aoyama that kept me going back every other day – to sample a dessert at the newly renovated Pierre Hermé, try out the Mr. Roboto pastry sold exclusively at Dominique Ansel Bakery in Japan, or enjoy a cold brew at Blue Bottle.

Highlights:

Order the entire menu at Harajuku Gyoza (a few doors down from Harajuku Gyoza is a small takeout window serving one of the best Chicken Karaage I’ve ever tried)

Raspberry-Rose Madeleine at Pierre Hermé

Mr. Roboto and a Seasonal Cronut at Dominique Ansel Bakery Japan

Salmon-Avocado Pancakes at Rainbow Pancake

Cold Brew at Blue Bottle Coffee

Asakusa

A calm neighborhood where Buddhist temples are nestled between streets full of tempura restaurants. Its main attraction is the Senso-Ji Buddhist temple, an architectural beauty that is best to be visited when there is absolutely no one around, early in the morning or right at sundown to snap some National Geographic worthy shots.

Shinjuku

Exactly what you imagine Tokyo to be. Tall skyscrapers, colorful billboards, enormous crosswalks, and futuristic department stores with incredible underground food halls (Depachika) that must be visited. One of the highlights of my trip was drinks and live jazz at the New York Bar, high above Tokyo. Get a table right in front of the stage to create an unforgettable experience. A contrasting part of Shinjuku that makes it so special is Golden Gai, a small and cozy nightlife district where you’ll stumble across tiny bars, each with its own charm.

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Highlights:

Albatross Bar

New York Bar, Park Hyatt Hotel

Isetan Depachika

 Close by:

Cocktail Omakase at Gen Yamamoto (Minato Area)

Multi-Course menu at Narisawa (Minato Area)

Tsukemen at Rokurinsha (Tokyo Station)

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A trip to Japan involves a lot of eating, walking, discovering, interacting with locals (they love foreigners), and will leave you wanting to move there as soon as possible, or at least that’s what happened to me. If you’re flying out of Narita, don’t forget to grab a farewell sushi at Kyotatsu.

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Tips for first-time travelers to Japan:

 

  • Pocket Concierge is a great platform that will help you secure reservations for Michelin starred restaurants
  • Be sure to pick up a Suica Transit Card upon arrival at the airport to navigate local public transit
  • If you plan on travelling outside of Tokyo, be sure to purchase a Japan Railway Pass, it provides bullet train transportation at a great price
  • Pocket Wi-Fi is a necessity in order to use Google maps and make navigating around Japan easy, these can be rented at the airport

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Follow along on my food experiences @cazadordelomejor on Instagram – Boston is up next!

Who is Iceland?

She. The one I’ve been dreaming of for years. As everything you dream of, eventually I started inventing her a little… later a lot.

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She is the one Borges called “ Iceland of the Seas”, the youngest geological formation of our planet  (so young she is only 25 million years old). Has the North Pole as a neighbor. Though been a part of Europe,  she really isn’t because floats far away. Remote. Forgotten by many – even by me- until made myself a promise to remember her.

Called “The Land of Ice and Fire”,  honestly I don’t think there is a better way to describe her. Land of contrasts, where the unexpected is expected. More than 200 volcanoes, 10000 miles of glaciers, 800 thermal areas and geysers, surrounded by fjords, spectacular waterfalls, translucent lakes, tectonic plates that leave cracks as evidence, fantastic caves; all of them conform such a unique landscape, that will surely mesmerize every visitor.

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Declared also: “Last Natural Paradise in Europe” honor that comes with the responsibility to conserve her intact.

UNESCO declared  Reykjavik  “ City of Literature“ because of the enormous contribution she has made to literature. Birthplace of a Nobel price and creators of two literary genders: Edas and Sagas. Their gift to humanity also includes documenting  the Germanic Culture of the X century.

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Bold and Fearless are the words that come to my mind to describe her. Resilient to the extreme. Life’s pulse can be felt in Iceland, that need to flourish from dirt and rocks is not just an allegory here, it is for real. With only 11% of the land good for farming  and long and dark winters, life in Iceland was probably very hard before electricity. Cold and famine lethal.

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Iceland is also the land of democracy and peace. They brag about been the first democracy of the world, their parliament was founded more than 1000 years ago. Without having an army of any sort they became independent  from Denmark in 1944 and the only thing they asked back was their most precious treasure: The Codex Regious and their Manuscripts.

My theory is that adversity has turned them into a very special society, mature and wise.

Visiting her is a pleasure, a visual adventure. Getting to know her is a once in a lifetime experience that we all deserve to enjoy.

My next post will be an Iceland Guide, so you will be really tempted to pack your bags and go.