It's been a little over a year since our last big trip to Thailand and Cambodia and we are itching for some exploring and gastronomic globe trotting. Up next...Ecuador & Peru! We're heading to South America for a little over 2 weeks on our very first organized/guided trip. We typically like to do our own thing and create our own itineraries, but since the focus of this trip is two activities that you are required to have authorized guides for, the Galapagos Islands and hiking Machu Picchu, we figured this was the right trip to try out a guided tour. So we did some research and booked this tour with G Adventures. A few of our friends have vacationed with G Adventures in the past and they have a sustainable and local flavor focus, so it sounds like a good fit for us...fingers crossed!
In case you're interested in following along on our adventure, a high-level itinerary is below. I'll get into the good stuff, all of the local cuisine that we are going to try to hunt down and try during the little bit of free time that we have, when I return. All of the foodie related activities that I have on my list are recommendations from my fellow T-Bird alumni who are either from Ecuador or Peru or have lived there for extended periods of time...so I trust they'll be spot on, but I'd like to try everything for myself and have photos before recommending any food to you...
This, was an amazing day. We were nearing the end of our two week trip to Cambodia and Thailand, at our last Thai beach destination before heading to Bangkok and then home. We had spent the previous 3 hours on a boat getting ferried from Koh Pi Pi island to Railay Beach in Krabi. The ferry ride alone was spectacular...the turquoise blue sea streched out as far as the eye reached, dotted with craggily formations and clusters of islands. This is what you see in the movies...and I sat like a child for 3 straight hours soaking it all in. Legs hanging off the side of the top deck, face resting on the railing, and a huge grin plastered to my face.
This, my friends, is why we live in California. I mean really does it get more serene and beautiful than this? The day of this photo was an interesting one...near the start of a true life experience. It was Day Two of the Brita California Climate Ride, a ~350 mile ride from Eureka to San Francisco. Since Brita was the title sponsor and I worked at our headquarters out here in the Bay Area, a co-worker and I came up with the idea of forming a team and doing it. The twist? Christian and I didn't even own bikes at the time of this brilliant idea.
The time: 9am.
The temperature: a sweaty 90°.
The mood: hungover, hungry and excited for this part of the trip we've been looking forward to but sad it's our last day in Chiang Mai.
Hence Christian getting a bit randy with the cleaver he is handed by our instructor. There were a lot of emotions swirling around that morning. We had been out a bit late with some new friends the night before and the Tuk Tuk for class arrived at our hotel bright and early at 7:30am. Of course we were the first people to be picked up so we had the joy of jostling around the back of the oppressively hot Tuk Tuk for the next 45 minutes while slowly meeting those who would be our fellow classmates for the next 4 hours.
Ah, the French Riviera and countryside...in January. Not exactly high tourist season, but Christian's sister and husband were living in Juan-les-Pins, France for 6 months so we took the opportunity to head over while we had a free place to stay and local-like tour guides. The whole French Riviera was sleepy and quiet, which made for perfect exploration and minimal crowds which was idyllic. The weather, not so idyllic. This was 2009...you know, that record breaking winter in Europe where people were actually freezing to death, yeah, it was cold.
The cold, however, didn't slow us down...we wanted to see as much of the French Riviera as we could, and that included a snowy day-hike into the mountains and then lunch in the mountain city of Vence. Vence is a medieval walled city that dates back to the 3rd century. It's one of those cities that has you walking around in awe, tripping over ancient upturned cobblestones as you gawk at the beauty and architecture. It was as we were doing this, right around sunset, that we stumbled upon this incredibly old but magical feeling cemetery right outside of the walled city.
What first attracted me to the cemetery, was actually the image that you see below. Light of the rapidly setting sun casting a shadow of the tombstones on a nearby wall. It was ethereal and moving, so I worked rapidly to capture a shot. Then, when I turned around I was surprised to see an equally beautiful view...the one that you see above. To be clear, I'm not a religious person at all. So the beauty didn't come from the religious meaning of the moment, but more the haunting and silent beauty surrounding us all. We were alone in the cemetery with the noise of the nearby town completely blocked by the wall and streams of smoke billowing up from the homes in the valley below...a moment where you don't have to be religious to connect spiritually. That, to me, is my postcard from Vence.
This is the first post in my new SavoryGirl series, Postcards, which is described a bit here. Let me know what you think? Good addition to the site? Interesting? Hate it? Feedback encouraged!