Paris is always a good idea. (Almost) everyone knows that. (Most) everyone agrees. I was so excited to see this gem again, and this time, with my sister in tow! To celebrate her birthday, we splurged at Four Seasons Paris which included my favorite meal of the entire year! The critically acclaimed restaurant of Le Cinq wined and dined us until we were fat, happy, another year older and ready for bed.
I have so much to say about this country. Underdeveloped but holding the most beautiful landscapes I’ve ever laid eyes on, Bolivia is a land of pure magic. I completed a bike ride on the World’s Most Dangerous Road outside of La Paz where I was eaten alive by sand flies. I rode a 12 hour bus to get to the world’s largest salt flats. I slept in some of the most run down areas I’ve ever stepped foot in. Throughout all of this, it’s one of my favorite locations on the planet.
And I thought Uyuni, Bolivia, was hard to get to. Chapada Diamantina is located north of Rio de Janeiro and about 250 miles from Salvador, the capital of Bahia. My boyfriend and I took an eight hour bus ride from Salvador to arrive in Lençóis to embark on the journey. We hiked for three days straight seeing the most incredible landscapes, such as Poço Azul pictured above.
I’ve visited Torres del Paine National Park three different times now, and I’ll never grow tired of the view. People always asked me what my favorite location around the world is. Albeit a tough question, if I had to choose, I’d choose right here! Truth be told, it’s a pain in the ass to get to, but nobody said arriving to Paradise was easy. The best way to get here is to fly into Punta Arenas and drive the four hours to the park. Adventure begins at the end of the world!
Experiencing Israel this year was one of the most unique experiences. I was a bit apprehensive due to the numerous political, cultural, and religious tensions that exist between Israelis and Palestinians. I felt very safe while traveling through Tel Aviv, Haifa, Caesarea, Akko, Tiberias, Masada, the Dead Sea and Jerusalem. I saved the best for last, as nothing could prepare me for the religious insight and emotional journey I had while in Jerusalem.
The city of Ubud engulfed me as I drove into its lush greenery. Street markets, narrow roads and traffic jams are common here, making me antsy as I inched towards my destination, all the while scooters and bikes flying past. Then the shopaholic in me emerged. I saw a gallery of handcrafted wooden chairs, distressed doors, Buddha heads and metal sculptures and thought, “Now where could that go in my house?” To the plethora of House Hunters and Property Brothers episodes I’ve seen, this is your fault.
Upon landing in Singapore, it’s impossible not to notice the immaculate and grand Changi Airport and cleanliness that exists everywhere in the city. It amazes me that with a population of 5.5 million and with so much foreign foot traffic, this place is so well maintained. I’ve never experienced a more efficient city in my life. Underground walkways have been built for pedestrians to utilize so as not to disrupt traffic on the streets. Gum isn’t sold here, so you won’t be stepping in it – score! And a warning to all the drug traffikers out there: if caught here, you’ll be punished by death.
I’ve never seen anything like it. The water was bluer than blue. It was as if I was living in a saturated screen saver full of ceruleans, cyans, azures and turquoise – enough colors to exhaust a portion of the color wheel. A few hundred miles south of India and Sri Lanka, the Maldives is known as the lowest country on the planet with an average ground level elevation of five feet above sea level and a peak elevation of eight feet – the major factor of why it’s a collectively sinking ship. Literally, the Maldives are sinking thanks to global warming. Scientists predict the country will be gone before the end of the century. Go now before this paradise is under water!
The most tranquil place I’ve visited to date exists in an exotic bamboo jungle where elephants rule the land, a land that conjoins three countries into one mystical place – The Golden Triangle of Myanmar, Laos and Thailand. It’s a scene straight out of The Jungle Book, a once-in-a-lifetime adventure that left me craving lush greenery, fresh air, and mind-blowing scenery – the bare necessities of life. My Nikon and I had a three-night date with the surroundings. And, of course, the real inhabitants of the land: the gentle giants.
Few cities evoke such glamor, history and promise than Shanghai, China’s largest city and global financial hub. At its heart is the Bund, the popular waterfront lined with colonial buildings. Opposite the river are Pudong’s most futuristic skyscrapers, such as the Oriental Pearl Tower and my personal favorite, a building that looks exactly like a bottle opener. The city screams energy with young people buzzing about with a common sense of purpose. The shopping, creative architecture and culinary scene have locals and travelers straight spoiled.
Note to self: Norway is cold even in the summertime. My blazers and scarfs weren’t exactly cutting it, but I warmed up just fine as I walked the city with my guide. Expensive, sure, but the expenses were definitely worth the charge – who knew when I’d be back! I spared no expense as I zip-lined down the Holmenkollbakken, a large ski jumping hill that poses as a modern attraction of steel and concrete where many athletes have tried their skills.
You probably know this lovely locale for the Matterhorn, and rightfully so. It’s the famous mountain straddling the Swiss and Italian Alps. The area has only 6,000 locals but come winter and summer peak times, the place lights up with tourists to bask in the wintery mix and fresh mountain air. You can ski year-round in Zermatt as the tip top slopes have ski on them 365 days of the year. The area is also car-free, adding a sense of peace and serenity as people meander about as they please.
To say that I’ve now seen Cuba, understand its people, or can offer anything but a glimpse would be insulting. What I can say is just go. Go see, speak, smell, and experience it yourself. Just like any other foreign travel, expect to get frustrated and tired, craving normalcy and routine. In the end, you’ll be incredibly glad you’ve seen this piece of paradise that’s been locked away for far too many years.
I fell in love with New Zealand due to its pure amount of adventure activities. Skydiving, bungee jumping, paragliding, skiing, kayaking, zorbing – you name it. They have it. A few friends and I embarked on a road trip from Christchurch to Queenstown over a four day period. We saved the best for last when we decided to skydive in Wanaka to only drive one hour to Queenstown to bungee jump. I think my adrenaline levels are still depleted.
I grew really tired of seeing photos of the Great Barrier Reef, the beautiful monstrosity off the coast of Australia that tugs at the hearts of photographers, videographers, adventurers and bloggers alike. I got so tired of seeing other’s photos that I decided I’d go take my own! Tip: Splurge for a helicopter ride. You won’t find a better view on planet earth.