Galapagos Islands in a few words.

When we arrived, I apologyzed. Couldn’t find the right words to describe the place nor my feelings about it. Back home, I must confess that the whole week I have been trying, looking up for new words on the dictionary, watching over and over pictures and videos of the trip – which has been counterproductive because with each image I am left speechless again. So I have decided to write only the few thoughts that coherently I can articulate, and let the pictures tell the rest of the story.

 

Galapagos is not a place, is a time space. You arrive by plane or ship from continental Ecuador, but seems like you’ve traveled in a time machine to a parallel universe. To a place where for some reason time doesn’t goes by at the same pace. Or perhaps hours and days go by, but not years? I am thinking that maybe in Lewis Carroll’s world or at a Kubric’s movie some of this makes sense.

Nirvana,  that stage of complete bliss and enlightenment, that some religions have as the ultimate state to achieve, is the word that comes to mind. I felt like that, as if every cell of my body was full of oxygen and nutrients. As if everything was perfect, lacking nothing. Felt like a millionaire of life.

 

Galapago’s animals seem like Saint Francis of Assisi trained them. They don’t fear humans or vice versa. Sharks and penguins swim close, with the confidence that gives them the fact of have never been harmed. Sea lions take naps on the pier or on boats, while black iguanas lay back in the sun careless. Once in a while, a stingray flies out a bit just to get noticed.

 

Nature looks intact, unchanged from what it probably looked like for thousand of years.

Humans that inhabit there (very limited numbers) seem to be fully aware of their blessings and take good care of the islands. Visitors understand it very soon  too.

In case you have plans to go, here is a list of hotels and restaurants that I love:

Best Hotels

www.finchbayhotel.com

www.angermeyer-waterfront-inn.com

www.pikaialodge.com

http://www.royalpalmgalapagos.com

Best eats:

La Garrapata: Restaurant and bar

Il Giardino: Restaurant and Gelateria

 

 

Angermeyer Cafe:  The food is delicious, cocktails are great too; but the view is priceless. Great place to watch the sunset.

I’m Galapagos’s obsessed now. Since I left, I only want to go back.

 

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

Top 10 Reasons to Visit London in Summer:

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London is undeniably a great destination always. An amazing city that will please even those hard-to-please travelers. But if given a choice, mine will be to visit during summer. In the northern hemisphere some cities become too hot for pleasurable walk, but not London. Plus the fact that it’s longer days allow the visitor more time to enjoy it.

  1. Wimbledon: Even if you are not a tennis fan, the energy of the city during the tournament is special. Londoners become friendlier with visitors the city feels more welcoming. Restaurants, hotels and bars, find their decor inspiration in the tournament . Pubs are crowded with people that share a beer while watching the daily matches. Around town streets and parks display gigantic screens. Strangers riding the tube share their opinions about the latest developments.
  2. Roof Top Bars: I have a particular affection for them, don’t know why. Whenever I visit a new city try to explore a few. In London the fact that at 11pm at night in summer the sun still shines, makes it even more appealing. The views of the city from up there are beautiful and allow you to see it from a different perspective. A calmer one. My favorite roof top bars in London are: “Radio Bar” at the ME Hotel, “Aqua Spirits”, “The Roof Gardens”, “Boundary” y  “The Lost Format Society”.
  3. The Hampton Court Flower Festival: The biggest floral exposition of the world: 50 gardens exhibit here including the marvelous water gardens. One of my favorite ones is the tent dedicated to roses, as well as visiting the innovators in conceptual gardening.
  4. Picnics : English love their picnics indeed. As soon as the weather is nice they run for their lifes to one of the many parks, with baskets full of goodies in hand. Places like “Harrods” and “Fortnum and Mason” have a wide variety of them ready for purchase and delivery. Some hotels also offer the picnic basket as part of their services. In my opinion the best parks for a picnic are: Primrose Hill Park, Greenwich Park and Richmond Park.
  5. Sales: June and july are the best time for bargains in Europe. It’s true that some stores can be too crowded at times but I think the wait is worth it, reductions can go as far as 70% off. Even the designer brands that traditionaly don’t offer discounts, do it in summer.
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  6. Open Air Theater: What about watching Shakespeare under the light of the moon? In summer you can, many places offer open air theater, Regent Park is probably the most famous, but there are other venues like St Pauls Church in Covent Garden and The Globe Playhouse .
  7. Dinner with a View: Foggy London can’t always offer this. But summer is your best bet. The restaurants that I would recommend are: “Fenchurch at Sky Garden”, “Duck And Waffles” and “Serpentine Bar and Kitchen”
  8. Street Markets: If you have read me before you know I “have a thing” for markets. In London there are many and the weather in summer is perfect for visiting them. One of the most alluring ones for me is the Portobello Road Market, walking it is a pleasure and make sure you keep your eyes opened for The Humming Bird Bakery http://www.thehummingbirdbakery.com that offers the best chocolate cake in London.
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  9. Music Festivals: Can’t expect less from the birth land of The Beatles, Adele, Amy Whinehouse and Coldplay. The amount and variety of them is huge, from the famous Festival at Sommerset House to the Eastern Electrics Festival,  ideal for the electronic music fanatics.
  10.  Sundance Film Festival: Since 2012 this wonderful festival that takes place on January in USA comes to London in June, which allows the cinema fans from the other side of the ocean to enjoy it.IMG_0359

Oaxaca for Foodies

OAXACA FOR FOODIES:

 

CRIOLLO:

If you are a fan of super famous Mexican Chef Enrique Olvera, ask for reservations well in advance. More  than a traditional Mexican Cuisine, this restaurant that is a Oaxacan Food Lab owned both by Olvera and Luis Arellano (oaxacan born).

Don’t look for a menu, because its 6 course,  changes daily according to their  freshest finds at the market.  [SSSS]

http://www.criollo.mx

LOS DANZANTES:

This famous restaurant that has various locations around Mexico, offers a great Cocktail Menu featuring of course all sorts of mezcal based drinks.Signatures  dishes include the octopus tostada with peanut sauce and the chile relleno with huitlacoche, grasshopper puree, and plantain. The rustic architecture provides a serene backdrop for sipping mezcals with an entree on the side. [$$$]

http://www.losdanzantes.com

PITIONA:

With a brand-new terrace overlooking Santo Domingo’s majestic 17th-century cathedral, Pitiona is the work of chef José Manuel Baños, highlighting his personal take on Oaxacan regional cooking. Its ever-changing six- or nine-course tasting menus are a chance for diners to relax and let Pitiona work its magic. There’s also an a la carte menu, which features gems like suckling pig tacos and brisket gorditas (thicker, corn-based sopes). [$$$]

http://www.pitiona.com

CASA OAXACA:

Fresh salsa mixed tableside and warm Mexican hospitality are the trademarks of this critically acclaimed restaurant from chef Alejandro Ruiz, who celebrates the traditional flavors, recipes, and heritage of his home state with a menu that soars from start to finish. Find mole negrocoloradito, and manchamanteles (three of Oaxaca’s most iconic dishes) cooked from scratch with ingredients sourced from eight of Oaxaca’s own distinct culinary regions. [$$$$]

http://www.casaoaxacaelrestaurante.com

LA COCINA OAXAQUENA COOKING CLASES:

 

A family business where you get to learn to cook directed by chef Gerardo Aldeco.

 

The day start with a visit to the market, not the touristy one, but the one where locals shop daily. Its followed by a cooking lesson and ends cheering with their own crafted mezcal.

 

www.cooking.com.mx

 

TACOS DE COMAL PLAZA DEL CARMEN:

 

This is one of the most famous street stands in all of Oaxaca City and a perennial favorite among local chefs and cooks. The family-run operation cooks up unparalleled versions of empanadas de amarillo (big corn quesadillas filled with tomato and chicken stew) and tacos de chile relleno, among other cooked-to-order bites. Start your morning with authentic tacos and empanadas prepared with fresh corn dough and cooked on the traditional Oaxacan clay comal (large pan). ($)

 

 

LIBRES TLAYUDAS DONA CARMEN

 

Tlayudas are Oaxacas classic dish. The giant, ubiquitous crisp corn tostadas come topped or filled with an array of local ingredients, including asiento (burned pork fat), beans, cheese, cabbage, chorizo or tasajo (dried steak). You can find them in just about every restaurant in Oaxaca day and night. Libres Tlayudas Doña Martha has been the go-to option for locals for over 25 years, famous for the quality of their ingredients. ($)

http://www.tlayudaslibres.com/principal.htmx#

NIEVES AT JARDIN SOCRATES

 

These icy sweet treats are such a traditional dessert in OAXACA,  that can be found in many places, but the ones at Jardin Socrates are the best.  Try their Leche Quemada or the Cactus flavors. [$}