I hiked 11 miles with a 40 pound backpack in 100 degree weather. I think that makes me officially crazy.
I hiked to Havasupai, one of the most isolated villages in the world….and I lived to tell the tale.
I hiked to Havasupai, one of the most isolated villages in the world….and I lived to tell the tale.
Research has found that you’ll remember something better if you don’t take a photo of it. According to a recent study, photographing your travels can actually diminish your memories of them.
Photos from my weekend at Zion National Park.
I’m in a New York state of mind.
Ok, so I’m sorry for neglecting this blog over the last few weeks but I have a great excuse: I’ve been maddeningly busy! It’s true. Here’s the photographic evidence.
One of my friend’s from high school and I went to Austin this past weekend. She’s one of the few friends I have left who is still single and childless and therefore has the time and money to take off on weekend adventures with me (plus she’s a pretty cool chick!). Last year we went to Hawaii and Jamaica together. This year we ventured into the land of hipsters, live music and a food truck on Sixth street that sells the best hot dog I’ve ever eaten.
I know this isn’t the best photo. But it was dark and I was trying to be stealth ninja about it so I wouldn’t get caught using my phone during the movie. But as you can see (maybe?) the chairs are normal movie theatre-style seating. The only difference is that in front of each row of seats is a built-in table/bench with menus and a pad of paper and pen for you to write down your order for the waiter.
It’s called the Alamo Drafthouse and is located in the center of the city on 6th street (although they screen current films, they also show films from the 80s and 90s as well as movie musical ‘sing-alongs’ and according to a girl in my hostel, “Filipino pornos”. She was sort of drunk when she went though, so she might have been confused?).
To know me is to know I love me a clever sign. Or even a failed attempt at a clever sign. Japan was full of them and it was hilarious. I give Austin props for making the effort.
Note the bit at the bottom that reads “Taking a picture of this sign without coming in for a shot is cheating”. I totally cheated.
I must warn you, drinking too much of the “soup of the day” can result in wandering around lost at two in the morning and then losing your hostel key four times in a row (though I, of course, wouldn’t know anything about THAT).
Last year, East Austin was number seven on Forbes list of Top 20 “Hippest Hipster Neighborhoods” in the US. I could certainly see why. It IS a pretty a hip, young city and it wasn’t nicknamed “the live music capital of the world” for nothing.
It didn’t feel at all pretentious though (like certain neighborhoods in Brooklyn or San Francisco do). Everyone seemed really friendly and down to Earth.
Apparently one of the signs are that you’re a hipster is that you love cupcakes…but c’mon…Who doesn’t love cupcakes?!
There’s this place in Austin called “Castle Hill”, where the entire side of the hill has been spray-painted with graffiti art. It’s near the Whole Food world headquarters (anyone else surprised to learn that Texas birthed the organic food trend?) and it’s a cool spot if you’re looking for a unique backdrop for photos.
Every evening, right around dusk, hordes of picnicking tourists gather under a bridge to wait for the thousands of bats to awaken from their daytime slumber.
Sitting in the grass waiting for the bats to wake up felt a lot like waiting for a concert or fireworks show to begin. Vendors sold ice cream and sodas, little kids waved glow sticks and photographers fiddled with tripods and zoom lenses. Everyone was earnestly staring at the
stage bridge, video cameras in hand, waiting for a sign the show was about to begin, and I half expected a mic’d MC to step out of the bushes and shout something to the effect of, “Ladies and Gentlemen! Boys and Girls! Put your hands together for the Austin bridge bats!”
You know you’ve made it when you get your own fan site and hashtag.
These signs were everywhere…which I found funny. Apparently these “bat-lebrities” aren’t into signing autographs, interacting with their fans or being “handled”.
Here’s a couple “grounded bats”. Um…cute?
When the bats finally made their appearance, it was a little underwhelming. I don’t know what it was I was expecting exactly. Maybe I was hoping they’d do some aerial tricks? Dive bomb into the crowd of tourists? Or that a few of them would morph into vampires and saunter into the crowd and bite someone? I think I definitely was hoping for, at the very least, some live music. SOMETHING.
Instead I got this:
Annnnnnd…..there they go! Flying off into the sunset.
Besides the bats, the other thing everyone (the guide book, the receptionist at the hostel…EVERYONE) kept insisting we go see was Barton Springs. Barton Springs is in the middle of a park and seems, upon first glance, like any ol’ rec center pool. There’s a three dollar cover charge to get in, a diving board, smelly bathrooms and a half a dozen lifeguards strutting along the concrete sides of the pool blowing their whistles and yelling at swimmers for backflipping or sneaking their innertubes into the wrong side of the pool.
But then you look closer and you see weeds growing where you’d normally see sky-blue concrete and moss growing along the pool ladders and walls. That’s because it’s not a chlorinated pool but rather, a natural spring. And a freezing cold one at that.
Probably the most interesting thing about Barton Springs is that outside the life-guarded portion of the springs is the free, ghetto version (the only thing that separates the two is a chain-link fence).
The ghetto version of the springs has everything the official version doesn’t, including dogs, beer, drunk people, pot smokers and nudists. And at least one crazy dude with a studded neck piercing who told me that he was missing his “vampire eyes”.
Yeah, it was a weird place. But then again, so is Austin.
To see more photos from my trip, click here:
Have you ever been to Austin? What did you think?
The Arizona Hot Springs, located in Arizona near the Hoover Dam, are about 45 minutes outside of Las Vegas. They’re one of two local hot spring locations (the other one is called Gold Strike Hot Springs) and can be reached either by boating down the Colorado River or by hiking along a dry riverbed. Calling it a ‘hike’ is misleading, however, as the trail is mostly flat, so even though it’s approximately three miles long, the walk isn’t strenuous. You can walk there even if you’re not in great shape.
The Colorado River
The red, blue and purple canyon walls are what make this a particularly gorgeous hike.
There’s a little bit of scrambling is involved as you get closer to the springs.
To get to the hot springs, you have to climb up a ladder.
There are two pools. The one pictured above is the milder of the two, the other one is too hot in my opinion (you can only sit in it for a few moments before you start to feel light-headed).
Fairytales may not be real but the eight whimsical vacation destinations on this list are. Read on to discover where to go when you’re craving a novel-worthy escape from reality.
Discovered in the 1920s, Goblin Valley earned its unusual name thanks to the thousands of mushroom-shaped rock formations scattered along the hillsides, some of which, under the right light, appear to have monster-like faces. Though these sandstone rocks, called “hoodoos”, may look otherwordly, they’re actually the result of entirely earthly causes: thousands of years of weather erosion.
If you visit Goblin Valley (located near Green River, Utah), go at sunrise or sunset when the rocks are cast in dark shadows and take on an especially eerie look.
Goblin from the 1986 film “Labyrinth”.Photo by Frank Kovalchek
Though this resort in Lapland, Finland, has 40 log cabins, the world’s largest smoke sauna, and a bar and chapel made entirely of snow and ice, what makes this hotel famous is its snow and glass igloos. Though the glass igloos have see-through ceilings (making them ideal for viewing the Northern Lights), they’re heated, so guests can enjoy the cold without actually being cold. Igloo Village is open from December until the end of January.
Photo by: Visit Finland
Photo by Visit Finland
With it’s volcanic hot springs, fields of lava rocks and thousands of waterfalls, the fantasy film-worthy landscapes of Iceland makes a fitting location for a school that educates its students on the habits and behaviors of magical creatures.
According to a study conducted by University of Iceland, while only 8 percent of Icelanders claim to believe in elves with full certainty, 54 percent of Icelanders concede that it’s possible or likely that they may exist.
Given the results of this study, perhaps it is then unsurprising that a place like The Icelandic Elf school exists. The school (which mostly attracts tourists) teaches its students about the 13 different types of elves that purportedly live in the rocky terrain of this volcanic island nation. In addition to earning a diploma in “elf studies”, students can also learn about other key characters in Icelandic folklore, such as fairies, gnomes and spirits.
Photo by: Trey Ratcliff
Photo by Shadowgate
The Treasure Island Hotel and Casino, built in 1993, is one of the most recognized Vegas hotels on the strip. Though not nearly as pirate-themed as it once was (in an effort to move away from it’s kid-friendly image, the hotel has been repainted and its signage changed to reflect a sleek and more modern image), Treasure Island still retains some of it’s campy appeal in its nightly show, “The Sirens of TI”.
Performed in the man-made lagoon in front of the hotel, the show features explosions, a battle between pirates and nearly nude “sirens” and a finale that includes a sinking pirate ship.
Photo by Paul Mannix
Though the 30-acre “Garden of Cosmic Speculation” is located at the private residence of a landscape architect in Scotland, the garden is open to the public on a select few days a year.
Two hours from Auckland, in Waitomo, New Zeland, sit the Waitomo Glowworm Caves. Glowworms the size of mosquitoes, thousands of them, twinkle from the limestone above the freshwater Waitomo river. Visitors can see the glowworms by taking a riverboat tour to the Glowworm Grotto, where the cave ceiling resembles a starry night sky.
Photo by Neverunprepared.
Built in the 1860s in Bavaria, Germany, the Neuschwanstein castle was once the private residence of a German king. If the castle looks familiar, it’s because Sleeping Beauty’s castle (which exists in Disneyland in California) was modeled after Neuschwanstein.
According to Wikipedia, Neuschwanstein attracts 1.3 million visitors per year, with up to 6,000 per day during the height of the tourist season.
Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disney Land. Photo by Andy Castro.
Photo by Luis Miguel Justino
Take a stroll down the cobblestone streets of the French town Comar and you may feel as though you’ve stepped back in time to medieval Germany or perhaps, Venice. Located minutes from the German border, it’s not uncommon to see Colmar’s citizens speaking German or snacking on some schnitzel as they stroll down the town’s cobblestone streets. Colmar is also known as “Little Venice” due to the city’s canals and waterways. On Friday and Saturday nights, the city’s churches, fountains and squares are lit up with blue, green and red lights, which further add to the fairy tale-quality of the city, especially on snowy nights when icicles twinkle like dangling blue sapphires.