Category Archives: Dream Travels

Travels: past / present / future

Dreaming of: Yelapa, Mexico

Yelapa, Mexico

Yelapa, Mexico

Loving these gorgeous photos of Yelapa, Mexico by talented, Mexico-based photographer, Jillian Mitchell.  These are from a wedding she photographed last fall and I’ve been obsessed since stumbling upon them.  Yelapa is a tiny, remote fishing village just 20 miles south of Puerto Vallarta.  Located in a small, mountainous inlet, the village has no roads, no cars and is most easily accessed by a 45 minute boat ride.  Though it may not have the best beaches in Mexico, the mountains cascading down to the water front make for a beautiful view and much of the charm comes from its remoteness.  This is likely what initially drew the likes of Bob Dylan and Dennis Hopper to its rocky shores and secluded villas.  The wedding took place at Verana, a gorgeous boutique hotel perched up in the hills overlooking the sea.

If you enjoy the photography, be sure to check out Jillian’s tumblr as well.

Yelapa 1

Yelapa 3

Yelapa 5

Yelapa 6

Yelapa 2

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Dreaming of: Salvador de Bahia, Brazil

Salvador is the capital of the northeastern Brazilian state of Bahia.  Bahia is one of Brazil’s largest, most populous and most diverse regions.  It is also one of the country’s poorest states and has been at the whim of Sao Paulo politics for decades.  That said, Bahians have a distinct cultural and regional identity, especially as a heart of Afro-Brazilian culture, that they have fought tooth and nail to mantain and thus it is one of the best places to experience Brazil’s famously vibrant yet insouciant lifestyle. Salvador was the Portuguese capital of Brazil until the late 1700’s and has retained much of it’s European architecture in its historic center.

Salvador de Bahia (Brazil 1976) by Franco Rattazzi

Salvador de Bahia (Brazil 1976) by Franco Rattazzi

An old woman looks out her window in Salvador. By Terenzio Lodadio

An old woman looks out her window in Salvador.
By Terenzio Lodadio

Salvador Dancers By Nelson Oliviera

Salvador Dancers By Nelson Oliviera

Bahia Woman By Francesco Ramon

Bahia Woman By Francesco Ramon

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Snapshots / Travel Update: Macau

Much to my surprise, I LOVED Macau.  Initially I was expecting just a little bit of Portuguese heritage buildings and a lot of gaudy casinos.  Yes, the casinos are definitely there, but the historical district is largely removed so its easy to forget that you’re in the city that turns out the world’s largest gambling revenue (yes, even higher than Vegas).  I spent a day and a half just wandering the (extremely) narrow, winding streets and exploring 18th century Portuguese churches, theaters  libraries, etc.  I was really struck by how well the city has retained its colonial architecture and that the Portuguese presence is still keenly felt.  All the streets are marked in both Chinese and Portuguese, wines from Portugal are featured on every menu and every block has a small Portuguese bakery with delicious shortbread style cookies and famous egg tarts.

My first impressions of Hong Kong on the other hand… have been a little less luminous.  Thus far to me it feels very, for lack of a better word, corporate.  That said, it was also raining yesterday and I spent all day riding the tram downtown and mostly exploring Causeway Bay and Central.  A plus side however, is that I have been blown away at how friendly and welcoming Hong Kong-ers are.  Despite being in a hectic, fast paced business district people have been eager and willing to help me with directions and strike up a conversation.

Today’s goal is to find some charming local districts and of course do the whole Victoria Harbor shindig.  And to eat copious amounts of DIM SUM.

Cheers!

Old Chinese Shophouse

Old Chinese Shophouse

Flower Shop

Flower Shop

A former retreat of a wealthy Hong Kong business man that is now a gorgeous public library.

A former retreat of a wealthy Hong Kong business man that is now a gorgeous public library.

Macau Highrises

Taipa Island High-rises

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Travel Update

To anyone out there who follow this blog (haha, I know there are a few of you) I’ll be traveling in Hong Kong and Sri Lanka for the next few weeks so my posts may be a bit sporadic.   I’m bringing my computer though, so I’ll do my best to keep up with it.

Also, to those of you in the blogosphere that have been to either of these places, I welcome your tips 🙂

Hong Kong Cityscape

Hong Kong Cityscape

 

Hong Kong high rises by Matt Mawson

Hong Kong high rises by Matt Mawson

 

A fisherman off the coast of Sri Lanka

A fisherman off the coast of Sri Lanka

 

The luscious hills of Sri Lanka.

The luscious hills of Sri Lanka.

 

Train riders in the Sri Lankan highlands.

Train riders in the Sri Lankan highlands.

 

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Dreaming of: Taxco, Mexico

When I was a sophomore in high school I attended an international Model UN conference in Mexico City.  Afterwards I stayed behind and my mother and brother joined me for a bit of spring break exploration of the city and surrounding areas.  I loved Ciudad de Mexico, with its seamless fusion of elegant old world tradition, cutting edge contemporary culture and chaotic urbanization.  However, it was a small town just outside the city and up in the mountains called Taxco that truly captured my heart.  Apparently my late grandmother (the first real traveler of my family) explored Taxco during its heyday as the center of Mexico’s silver production and trade.  In fact one of the few things I inherited when she passed away years ago is a beautiful Mayan silver pin-turned-necklace that she picked up while there.  Later when my father was working in Mexico City in the 80’s he and my mother would take weekend trips up there when she visited.  So when we returned in 2005 it was truly a walk down memory lane for her.  Although the last silver mine will be closing soon, the town is still heavily associated with silver craftsmanship and roughly half of its residents still work with silver in some capacity.  As a visitor though, much of the appeal of visiting Taxco is in wandering through the narrow cobblestone streets through white Spanish shophouses that swell over the hilltops.

As you can see, its hard not to be charmed by la bonita y encantadora ciudad de Taxco

Taxco, Mexico by David Bank

Taxco, Mexico by David Bank

Plaza Borda y Templo de Santa Prisca by Jose Mazcona

Plaza Borda y Templo de Santa Prisca by Jose Mazcona

Secreto de amor by Domingo Mery

Secreto de amor by Domingo Mery

Untitled by Sam Grant

Untitled by Sam Grant

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Dreaming of: Senegal (and Gambia)

Lately I’ve been dreaming of living and working in French West Africa.  I’m not sure if this is my subconscious telling me I need to get back to Africa or if I’m just trying to indulge my infatuation with French post-colonial countries.  There is something about the French legacy that I find enchanting.  Phnom Penh features some of the best preserved remnants of French Indochina and I’ve become enamored with the cross section of cultures visible everywhere.  Its the same reason I loved Vientiene, Laos and Hanoi, Vietnam.  Maybe its the fusion European architecture left behind (god I’m a sucker for shutters), maybe its the fresh baguettes and croissants you can find everywhere in the former empire, maybe its because I love the French language.  Regardless, I am well aware that I am over-romanticizing and exotifying this supposed legacy and colonialism is obviously not something one wants to adulate in sentimental nostalgia.  Colonialism was unjust and brutal on all accounts, especially in Africa.  But it is still an irrevocable part of these countries’ histories and I’ve always been captivated by places where you can trace their history simply by walking through their streets.  This is something not particularly evident in the western part of the US where I grew up and perhaps that is why I chose to go to university in the historic Northeast and have found myself seeking out places that wear their history on their sleeve.

Of all the countries in West Africa, apparently Senegal has most retained elements of its French past.  The Gambia inevitably must be included as this tiny sliver of a country is completely enclosed by Senegal and reportedly boasts some of West Africa’s best beaches.  Thus here I begin.

Senegal:

Dakar

Dakar

Dakar:  described in equal parts as both elegant and frenetic, as the capital, virtually all visitors to Senegal pass through this vibrant city.  I’ve heardDakar has some of the best food in the region and it also is home to an incredible art and music scene.  Youssou N’dour is Senegalese as is French-Senegalese rapper MC Solaar and, believe it or not, Akon.  Check out this awesome song by The Pleb:

Ile de Goree

Ile de Goree Alleys

Île de Gorée:  a small island off the coast of Dakar that served as a transfer point through the transatlantic slave trade.  However, it is apparently also a quietly beautiful town, described by Lonely Planet as having “narrow alleyways with trailing bougainvillea and colonial brick buildings with wrought-iron balconies.”  Need I say more?

Saint Louis Colors

Saint Louis:  a coastal city north of Dakar, Saint Louis was the old French colonial capital.  Not surprisingly, this city is home to some of the best preserved colonial architecture in the region.

Casamance Beach

Casamance Mangroves

Casamance:  a small region south of Gambia that has an organized successionist movement an has experienced periodic unrest since the post-colonial transition.  However, it is also known to have some of Senegal’s best beaches and wildlife reserves.  Inland from the coast are mazes of mangroves that would be incredible to explore.  So in times of peace, this is definitely a place to visit.

Fajara Beach, Gambia

Gambia:  beaches and national parks are what this tiny country is known for, and with good reason.  Europeans have long been in the know about the beaches, but just recently Kiang West and the River Gambia National Parks have gained much more attention.  They also supposedly have baboons and giant anteaters, so count me in.

... except I can't tell if it has two heads

AWESOME

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