I love that Emerson quote: “Life is a journey, not a destination.” As a Cultural Purist, nothing thrills me like unexpected adventures and those unplanned moments that happen during my journeys. I love diving into authentic cultural experiences, never knowing who I’m going to meet or what’s going to happen next. Over the years, my travels have taken me from the raw beauty of Mexico and Nicaragua to the streets of Paris, and here I share with you 10 of my most memorable moments.
Mexico – Oaxaca
I hitchhiked to Oaxaca with a friend, and we met a nice group of people who showed us around. They took us to archaeological sites and introduced us to some traditional art forms, like alebrijes, intricate, brightly painted carvings. We also learned that in contrast to the rest of Mexico, Oaxaca has a really diverse range of indigenous cultures whose origins date back centuries.
Spain – Barcelona
One of my favorite Barcelona experiences was walking through this neighborhood street fair known as Festa de Gràcia. During this week-long festival, neighbors in Gràcia decorate their streets in a certain theme using recycled materials. Bars open their doors and sell different drinks in plastic cups so people can enjoy them as they stroll around.
Nicaragua – Ometepe Island
Here, I was waiting for the ferry to take me back from a day spent on Ometepe Island. The island is formed by two volcanoes, one at each end. There’s wonderful hiking and this amazingly clear water that’s great for swimming. I loved the relaxed, “away from civilization” atmosphere of the island.
Netherlands – Amsterdam
Amsterdam is super flat and great for biking. In fact, there are over 2,400 miles of cycling paths and pretty much everybody gets around on two wheels. A boat ride along the canals that wind through the city is the best way to get a feel for Amsterdam’s distinctive 17th-century architecture.
Mexico – Real de Catorce
I visited this tiny mountain town called Real de Catorce. It’s 9,000 feet above sea level and difficult to get to, so we used horses to explore the area. It used to be a silver mining settlement with about 40,000 residents. Now, it’s an authentic ghost town with less than 1,000 people. I loved the town’s remoteness and tranquility, and the incredible mountain views.
Italy – Rome
I visited friends in Italy and enjoyed exploring the historic sites, bustling piazzas and open-air markets. And the food! I ate in some great neighborhood trattorias and there are gelato bars on practically every corner, so I did plenty of sampling. Now that I’ve tasted the real thing, I don’t think I can ever go back to the kinds I ate before.
Mexico – Morelia
I participated in Morelia’s two-day Día de los Muertos festival to celebrate the dead. The altars created to honor passed family members are colorful and filled with calaveras (skulls), fruit, the deceased’s favorite treats, and lots of marigolds and incense. The people believe the aromatic fragrances guide the dead to the location of the feast being held in their honor.
The Bahamas are surrounded by some of the world’s most breathtaking waters. It was great to catch this perspective of the Atlantic’s amazing color, and aerial views of the main island with its surrounding islets and cays, as we flew over them in a small plane.
USA – California
Driving the 450-mile stretch from Los Angeles to San Francisco offers fabulous uninterrupted views of mountains and the Pacific. And here’s proof making that stops can be much more than a way to break up a long drive. It was incredible to stumble upon this beautiful hidden beach right off the side of the road.
France – Paris
On an early evening walk with some Parisian friends, I witnessed the city’s magical transformation from day to night. My favorite way to watch a Paris sunset is from one of its many bridges, or during a stroll along the banks of the Seine. The whole experience is enhanced because you’re surrounded by Parisians relaxing, having drinks and playing music.
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