23.6.07

Endless Summer Travels in Four Parts

After graduation, I embarked on a series of trips designed to compensate for the 17 vacations days a year I will have to work with now that I've started my new job. My itinerary for the summer of 2007 was as follows:


Western Europe: Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg and Spain

South America: Colombia & Ecuador including the Galapagos Islands

Visiting friends and family in Southern Calfornia: San Diego and Los Angeles

Bus tour of the Southwestern United States: Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Colorado and California


Here are the pictures in that order.

--


I first went to Brussels and stayed with Eric & Didier. I also saw my friend Severine.



While I was there, I took a couple of short trips: one to Paris to meet Camelia and her friend Andrea, and the other to Cologne to see Adrian from Brazil. In Paris, we hit Sacre Coeur, Notre Dame and Versailles.



Adrian showed me old Cologne



On my last weekend, I went to the Ardennes, a forested area in SE Belgium, visiting Durbuy, La Roche & Bastogne with Eric and his dog Astrid on Saturday.



On Sunday we went with Eric's downstairs neighbors to Luxembourg for the afternoon.



In Spain I visited my host family from my high school exchange in Cadiz and friends in Madrid.



On June 12th I went back to NYC, and on the 13th left for Bogota, Colombia.

I visited my friend Roberto, and met a friend of my friends in NYC named Juan Diego. Through Juan I met Juan Guillermo and Roberto and spent a couple nights at their farm in Villeta, about 1.5 hours from Bogota. From Bogota I went to Cartagena de Indias on the Caribbean coast for three days. It is similar to Salvador, with a strong African component and beautiful historic colonial downtown.

Colombia is excellent!




From Cartagena, I went to Quito and stayed with my friend Jose Luis. We hung out in Quito several nights, and then went with his friend Fidel to the osteria (inn) he manages in Cotopaxi, 2 hours from Quito. On the last day we went to the Mitad del Mundo (Half of the World), or about 0 degress latitude. The true equator is near there, and holds amazing properties over gravity...objects don't fall! After Mitad del Mundo we had cuy (guinea pig)for lunch. I didn't like it...it wasn't very meaty.



I departed from Quito to Baltra, the island airport that serves Santa Cruz, the island with the largest population and the center of tourist activity in the Galapagos Islands.

I stayed in Santa Cruz for several nights, and the moved over to Isabela, the largest island. All the time, I encountered lizards, iguanas, turtles of all sizes (each island has its own species, usually identifiable by the markings on its shell), some cool birds including blue foot boobies, sea lions and penguins.

Most of the wildlife lived from the sea, as the island is volcanic. Thus the terrain is rather rugged and inhospitable apart from the many lovely beaches. The weather is overcast for the most part during the Northern Hemisphere's summer, and they say the best weather is later in the year. I met some cool Israeli and English people over the last days in Isabela. The last day in the Galapagos I snorkled with sea lions that swim with you and stare at you and they're so cute. Here are some of the pics.




From Ecuador, I flew back to New York where I spent the 4th of July.

From there I went to San Diego and LA, visiting family and friends in both places.




From San Diego, I went to Phoenix to rendez-vous with Didier to accompany him on a tour of the southwestern United States.

We visited AZ, CO, NV, UT & CA over 12 days, stopping at the Grand Canyon, Lake Powell, Mesa Verde, the ruins at Chapin Mesa, Monument Valley, Moab, Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, Desolation Point, Dixie Forest, Bryce Canyon, Zion Canyon, Las Vegas, Death Valley, San Francisco, Santa Barbara, Monterey, Carmel, later finishing in Los Angeles.

My friend Michael and his fiancee Kira met me in Utah, too. I stayed in Didier's room in almost every hotel and blended in with the group meal almost everywhere so the whole trip was practically free!



video


This is part of the San Andreas fault line.



In early August, I moved back to NY, found an apartment in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and began working.

Certainly, it was a summer to remember.

1 comment:

Linda said...

Lovely photos. Great souvenirs of your travels!