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Chichen Itza

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The last two times I was in the Yucatan Peninsula, I visited some Mayan ruins but not Chichen Itza - one of the new seven wonders of the world.  Last month, I had the opportunity of visiting Chichen Itza while in Cozumel. So I looked into joining a tour to Chichen Itza from Cozumel, but the only tour available was a flight tour that cost almost $500.00.  It was not affordable for me so I left the tour desk disappointed.  But as I walked into an elevator, I overheard someone talked excitedly about his impending tour to Chichen Itza. So, I asked if he was going on a flight tour. 
He said, “No, I’m going by bus”. 
My immediate reaction was, “What? there’s a bus tour from Cozumel?” 
Luckily, I was able to get on the same tour for a fraction of the price. Our day began with a forty-five-minute ferry ride to Playa del Carmen, and a two-hour bus ride (not really a big tour bus, but a van) from Playa del Carmen to Chichen Itza. As part of a small group, I did not have to deal with the entranc…

Ocho Rios, Jamaica: Climbing Dunn's River Falls

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I had the most fun climbing waterfalls in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. At 180 feet high and 600 feet long with clear and very light blue waters that flow through travertine terraces or giant natural stairs and empty into the white sand beach and aqua blue Caribbean sea, Dunn's River Falls is one of the most visited natural features of the country.


My original plan was just to take photos of the waterfalls and hang out at the beach later, so I was not totally prepared.  When I found out that climbing Dunn's River Falls is one of the most famous activities in Jamaica, I could not pass up on the opportunity to experience it. Although I was wearing my swimsuit I did not have water shoes, which was one of the requirements for climbing the falls.  But as they say in Jamaica, "No problem man".  On the drive to Dunn's River Falls, our driver pulled over so we could buy water shoes from a vendor on the roadside.

I did not find out until we were in the park that we would totally g…

The Lost Caribbean

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My first trip of the year is usually spent on active travel and getting back into nature. I spent a few days in the Caribbean snorkeling and walking in the rainforest in Honduras, river-tubing in Belize, and swimming with the dolphins and yes, with the 7-mile sandy beach and turquoise water of the Grand Cayman, it's sacrilegious not to spend time at the beach. Not much of story here, so I put together little videos shot on my iPhone.

Snorkeling in Roatan, Honduras Enjoyed walking through the Gumbalimba Preservation Park and saw lots of wildlife including monkeys, and colorful macaws, and plenty of iguanas. After interacting with the monkeys I spent time at Tabyana Beach, said to be the lost Caribbean, and snorkeled in the shallow clear waters with beautiful corals and plenty of fish.




River Tubing in Belize I joined a river tubing adventure in Belize. I expected a rough and invigorating adventure, so I left my iPhone and camera behind. As it turned out the water was soooo calm that…

Anchorage, Alaska: Exploring the Chugach

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Exploring the Chugach Locals often say “it’s only a 20-minute drive to nature from Anchorage”.  Anchorage has access to one of the biggest state parks, the Chugach State Park and Chugach National Forest. There are tons of hiking trails for all different types of fitness levels and there is something for everyone.

Here are some of the popular hikes and trails in the Chugach.

1. Bird Ridge About a 40-minute drive south of Anchorage is one of my favorite hikes. It’s about 2.3 miles one way and you gain a little over 3,200 feet of elevation. Though it is one the most challenging hikes it rewards you with instant views of the Turnagain Arm and surrounding mountains. Even if you only hike up halfway, you are greeted with 360-degree views. On this hike, you can view the bore tide which happens twice a day where you see one continuous wave cross the Turnagain Arm. In the summer, you can find locals surfing the wave. You will have to check tide charts to see when the bore tide occurs. 

2. Eag…

Auschwitz

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Last month, I visited Auschwitz, the site of the most notorious extermination camp in human history. Finding the right words to describe how I felt while standing in the spot where millions of people were murdered was very hard. It was beyond comprehension. I just got to sorting the pictures and videos I took from the trip when the shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh happened. So, imagine how I felt when I heard about the senseless killing in the United States. I kept going back to the sights I saw in Auschwitz and the words of George Santayana, “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”  So, if you do have the opportunity to visit Auschwitz, you should. But I understand that not everybody will have the opportunity, so I just wanted to share some insight from my trip.

Auschwitz I - The Main Camp
In 1940 Himmler, the head of SS ordered a former garrison site in the town of Oswiecin (Auschwitz in German) to be taken over and held as a concentratio…

Poland: The Wieliczka Salt Mine

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One of the most spectacular UNESCO World Heritage Sites I visited this year was the Wieliczka Salt Mine near Krakow, Poland. It was founded in the 13th century to mine the rich deposit of salt. Salt mining stopped in 1996 when the low price of salt on the world market made it too expensive to mine and the mine was slowly flooding. But miners did more than just extract salt. They left behind them a breathtaking record of their time underground in the shape of statues of mythical, historical and religious figures.  Part of the salt mine became an art gallery, chapels, cathedral, and underground lakes. Today, Wieliczka Salt Mine is one of the most visited National Monuments in Poland.

For safety reason, less than one percent of the mine is open to visitors, but even that is almost four kilometers in length. There are 20 chambers to visit and 800 steps to climb of which 350 at the beginning take you down into the mine. You can’t just visit and wander around on your own. All of the visits …

Latvia: A Walk in the Forest

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On a recent trip to the Baltic, I had the chance to visit the Ethnographic Open-Air Museum of Latvia, one of the oldest and largest open-air museums in Europe. It’s located on the banks of Lake Jugla and just 30-minutes drive from downtown Riga. The museum was established in 1924 and had collected 118 historical buildings from all over Latvia. Information as to when and where the building was built and when it was added to the museum is posted on each building.

On a beautiful clear day, with blue skies and fresh air in abundance with temperature in the mid-60s Fahrenheit, I expected a few visitors around, but there seemed to be no other visitors but our group. Which is strange since there were lots of tourists in the Old Town, Riga about eighteen kilometers away.

After the museum entrance, we entered the first building - a barn with a collection of ancient wooden carriages on display. But the information posted on the building describes it as Roadhouse Pub built in the district of Ba…