Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay: Latam 2016 Last Stop and Highlights

Colonia del Sacramento in Uruguay was the last destination of our Latam 2016 trip. To be completely honest, we chose it for three reasons: 1) we were nearby, 50 km across the Narrow Sea; 2) we had never been to Uruguay (and did not exactly see ourselves coming back to Latin America just to visit it) and 3) visiting three countries on a new continent did sound exciting. Plus, Colonia del Sacramento is listed as UNESCO heritage, travelers’ photos were gorgeous, so it all got us fired up to go.

IMG_4555.jpg

Was it a good idea?..

Continue reading

Iguazu: Argentinian Side And Some Travel Tips

It’s the first weekend home for me in a very long time, and it means that I can go back to my Latam story. For many reasons, travel and personal ones, this trip has become so meaningful to me that coming back to it is always a joy.

I have already written about the Brazilian side of Iguazu Falls, a series of amazingly spectacular waterfalls at the border of Brazil and Argentina. I still hold my breath looking at their pictures, amazed by the majesty of nature (and by the capability of my camera to take great photos without me really knowing what I was doing, at the time). At 26, I was impressed like this by the skyscrapers of New York.

The Argentinian side of the Falls is equally impressive, yet in a very different way. The Brazilian experience we had was very private. Waking up with the sun at 6 am. Exploring the Natural Park, closed to the general public, at 8 am. Running down the rainforest paths surrounded by coati. Dining at a very, very good restaurant of the hotel. Watching the evening sun dissolving in the velvet water of the pool. And then you come to Iguazu from the Argentinian side, and it is like Disneyland.

IMG_4060.jpg

Continue reading

Birds’ Park (Parque das Aves), Brazilian side of Iguazu Falls

Time to go back to my Latam adventure. My story about Iguazu Falls from the Brazilian side would not be complete without Parque das Aves, The Birds’ Park. 

I remember us visiting it on the last day of our stay at Iguazu, on our way to the airport. It took us around 2,5 hours to visit (which was not enough to take the iconic photo with a parrot in the end of the visit, for which, it seemed, the entire park was queuing for). I did not exactly remember what I have from that day on my camera and first thought that The Birds’ Park visit might make a boring topic for a post. To my sheer delight, I found not only tons of amazing shots of tropical birds but also a series of flamingo’s love making scenes. (Several weeks’ journeys tend to blur the impressions into a rotating kaleidoscope. Travel photography allows you to keep the precious moments. So TAKE PHOTOS).

I’ll start with the flamingos because I am sure you all want to know (well, don’t you?).

Difference in male and female psychology. I was (taking photos and) thinking: “Wow, he takes off with such a grace. Should be uneasy with this long and awkward body”. Louveteau watched silently, took a reflection pause and said: “My friend, I don’t want to sound judgemental but it was a little bit short”. While I was preparing this post, the subject started trending, and we have almost scientifically established in a wide circle of MBA/ Masters’ that in the animal kingdom, only pigs can boast about long love making sessions with as much as 9 orgasms in a row. Talk about the value of education.

Continue reading

Iguazu, Brazil

Today is a public holiday in France, and that makes a room for one more post this week before I hop on a train to London tomorrow to take a trip down memory lane and to celebrate Louveteau’s birthday. I am going to share with you the memories of one of the happiest days in my life, and my heart is full of radiant anticipation and gratitude to life for having experienced all that.

As you might have noticed, I travel a lot and have been doing that for quiet a while. With every picture I sneak, every city break I carve out in my schedule and every new country I pin on my Travel Map, I get increasingly more and more difficult to surprise, overwhelm and amaze. Iguazu scraps all that luggage of travel experience and resets my ability to be blown away to zero. Once again, I am a kid who crosses the geographical boundaries for the first time and steps in the unknown. 

Iguazu can not be compared to absolutely anything you have experienced before (I am saying “experienced” because this place is constantly engaging all of your five senses, and sometimes even the sixth and the seventh ones). For starters, that’s the first thing you see when you enter the park: the flocks of friendly coati! Have you even heard about coati before?

IMG_3656

Coati, numerous inhabitants of Iguazu National Park

We booked Iguazu free of any expectations and we going to stay for two nights, just in case. Ele has recommended us Belmond Hotel das Cataratas because it is the only hotel located on the territory of the Iguazu National Park. At least, from the Brazilian side (Argentinian side is much bigger and has its own hotels, Sheraton among them, for SPG lovers). Our stay would not have been that magical had we picked a different place.

We made it to Iguazu late in the day (I am sparing some drama about a missed flight from Rio and some vivid flying/ landing impressions). The day was still on, so we parked our bags and rushed along the sightseeing route. That’s what we saw. 

We ended the day in the huge open swimming pool of the hotel, watching the sun glares dissolving in the velvet water and listening to the murmuring sounds of the rainforest as the night was stepping into its rights.

Continue reading

Gringokids 2016: How It All Started

Last thing I was planning to do in the end of 2015 was going to Latin America. I mean, Rio has always been my dream, sure. And sure, with my travel map being almost completely painted in Europe and Asia being my parents’ place, Latam seemed an absolutely exciting place to explore.

There were no upcoming signs.  In early November, I just broke up with my French boyfriend of almost a year and invited all my best friends over to Paris. I was wholeheartedly anticipating the holiday season in my newly free status and planned back-to-back business trips and weekends in European capitals to fill the waiting time. A few weeks after, I was at La Maison Blanche, casually playing 36 Questions to Fall in Love. Falling in love was the last item on my agenda, along with the trip to Latam, but I read about this game in The New York Times and was finding this experiment entertaining. I was cheating when playing, of course (it was my game, after all): always asking the questions first, listening to Louveteau’s answers and only then giving mine (in theory, partners should take turns). Somewhere between the main and the dessert, Louveteau said: Can I ask you a question as well? How do you see the development of this relationship going forward? Going forward. 

Next thing I know, we landed in Rio. Together.

In short, our trip looked like that: Paris –> Rio –> Iguazu (Brazilian side) –> Iguazu (Argentinian side) –> Buenos Aires –> Colonia, Uruguay –> Buenos Aires –> Rio –> Paris

Continue reading

What I learnt from travelling to 37 countries (and living in 9)

I have recently posted a teaser on stepping out of the comfort of the place you come from and setting a foot to wander the world. Here is my learning on what happens when you actually do.

Credit card, passport, phone. You will probably forget something somewhere. And most likely, more than once. As practice has it, any travel gap can be covered by a credit card, passport and a phone or a combination of the three. So make sure you hold on to these fundamentals. Everything else is replaceable. It is still useful to pack as few valuable as possible (and in some case, like when travelling to Brazil, to avoid taking any at all), to lock the few you take with you in a safe and to check the room before leaving the hotel for good. Knowing what is enough though will save you a lot of time (and peace of mind) when packing.

Follow your (photo) hunch. Places make first impressions, too. And these first impressions matter. So take pictures of whatever catches your eye. The palm trees will become a usual part of the scenery after a few days on an island, the magic of the Mediterranean sunsets will fade away after a few nights, so keep the memories of the things as you first see them. And remember: imperfect photo is better than no photo at all. In a few months, you might find things that you hated in this picture less dramatic. In a few years, they might become a source of a great story.

Some of the best travel memories happen at 6 am. I learnt it the hard way: waking up that early is the last thing I want to do on vacation. And it can be oh so worth it. My trip to Iguazu falls would never be even nearly as amazing without a 6 am plunge into the smooth surface of the swimming pool followed by the breakfast in the sunrise rays (and a walk to the falls in the only company of coati). One of my best pictures from Rio is its sunrise, which Louveteau and I captured on our last day in Latam when we could finally catch the sun after several days of clouds at the dawn.

Continue reading