Tripping diary, travelling stories of people and places far from mine

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Roadtripping Jamaica

I came on business to Kingston, I don't know why I expected a first world city. Instead I've found an emerging economy.

The most remarkable thing about Jamaica imho is their people, the Jamaicans. Really warm, and friendly people. Okay, and there's the weather, and the beaches, and beachside resorts, but you can find that elsewhere.

I'll let the pictures do the talking.



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Friday, July 07, 2006

Rome, Italy

Rome, Italy
Backpacking in europe, the sort of trip were you spend a couple of days in each major city. This is about the Rome, Italy chapter. Four days in Rome, Italy, we spent, like most european cities we found it quite expensive. The place is all about ruins, and an empire that changed the world.

We stayed in a very, very cheap hostel near station Roma Termini, which was full of 20 year old american teenagers flirting around, sleeping until noon. We shared our room with around 8, or 10 other guys. The last thing I can remember about that place was listening to some american singing loud from the bathroom "GASOLINA" (reggeton hit), in a very strong accented spanish, while he was taking a shower (I still have nightmares about it ;)

The city itself is amazing, loads of history everywhere we would turn to. Like most tourists I guess, we spent lots of time trying to visualize the ruins in the Roman Empire Golden days, travelling back in time in our minds. The exercise was succesfull, the atmosphere could be reached for seconds, in some places like the roman forum, and the Colosseum where you are literally surrounded by history.

The Roman Forum was breathtaking, no wonder when people would come from places where they lived in huts, Rome would be like THE first world to them. It impressed me the size of the ancient baths that would host hundreds of romans, laying there, just cleaning themselves, and talking about politics and gladiators.I would always get the feeling that in order to really appreciate everything I was looking to, every ruin, every sculpture, I had to know more history than I knew.

By the way traffic is mad, bikes are very popular, pedestrians not that much.

This is my video recopliation about our four day visit to Rome, Italy (the video was made with Microsoft Photo Story 3), hope you like it ;)

And this is vatican city, enjoy.

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Friday, June 23, 2006

Seattle, USA

Seattle Space Needle

You are going to Microsoft offices in Washington they told me. USA states geography not being my forte I thought: Great! maybe I'll get to see the Lincoln memorial and stuff. Later than sooner I discovered that Washington state is something very different, and far from the city of Washington, and that I had to cross all the country from Miami, florida, to dallas, to tacoma, all the way to the top of the west coast, close to the border with Canada. Longest trip I've ever made, flying time plus airport waits were more than 20 hours, go figure.

Seattle City Space Needle view

The first thing that surprised me, was that everybody seemed to understand spanish. In Miami I took it for granted, but then in Dallas it happened again, and even in Seattle I would find lots of people speaking spanish, and stores managed by hispanics (like me;) mostly mexicans I guess. So the first feeling was something like, the country is being taken over silently by hispanics, poetic justice?.

The next thing I sensed was that I was inside a movie. This is a weird feeling that may even be difficult to understand for americans. If you were born outside the states, the most likely thing is that you may have grown up watching american films and series, where you'd get to see everything about the usa culture&places. So when faced in 3D with all that, my brain started mapping everything I was looking at with movie memories.

Seattle Hooter's

Everything was a cliche, everything felt stereotyped, like going to blockbuster and being attended by a nerdy looking, fat guy with a blockbuster hat, or seeing black people dressed hip hop styled every now and then, or entering hooters while "The power of love" (back to the future soundtrack) was playing, and I could go on...

People seemed nice everywhere. Every store I would walk into someone would say "hey there", or "hi, how are you doing", like in a very informal and friendly manner, not at all what am I used to in Uruguay. It was really weird, since where I come from if someone asks me "how am i doing" it's usually to start a meaningful conversation, it's not used in day to day store paying social protocol, here it's more formal, like: good day, good afternoon, and stuff like that. At the same time while I in airports I was reminded every now and then by the sight of a marine that the country is on a war state. My mind is getting confused by now, I'm trying to figure how come this nice-people-country doesn't have a problem with going to war every now and then, killing people around the world. Weird.

As a side note and funny fact, some downtown buildings play classical music to keep homeless off their entrances, or so they told me. Seems it's as if they were alergic to it.

I tried a dulce de leche cheesecake, bought in Seattle's downtown, in some place called "The cheesecake factory". They label it an argentinean flavor, never mentioning Uruguay, I'll never get used to stuff like that.

Pike Place Market

I went on a sunday morning to the Pike Place Market this market by the sea (lake/river/ocean/whatever), which I really enjoyed, it's a nice place to take a walk and just look at a nice diversity of stuff for sale (I even found yerba), and of people browsing it and walking by. There was this fish store where the guys would sing and yell, and fish would fly, quite the spectacle.

Pike Place Market
PD: Refill rocks!
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Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Toluca, Mexico

Tolcua Mexico
First time in Mexico, Toluca, being no turistic spot, I had no idea what to expect. The city is an industrial zone, and a dorm city for lots of people working in mexico city. Height is about 2,600 meters high, which for someone like me, used to sea level height is like the everest, with a constant reminder everytime I would walk up some stairs.

My first shock was to learn from the cab driver when we arrived that he considered the traffic to be light (40% due to him) when there were cars in every lane, separated by about ten meters distance, one from the other. No point of comparison with Uruguay I guess, where the same thing is considered rush hour.

Mexico TolucaOn the way from the airport I could see people going on bike after some truck with the image of a virgin. The cab driver told us that it was a pilgrimage to some church. Afterwards we saw people riding horses with cowboy hats, also riding behind a virgin's image. Welcome to mexico I thought, that's a sight I'd never seen before.

Toluca's downtown I found to be beautiful, with lots of colorful churches, pouring people out on sunday morning. There also was this indoor garden with spectacular vitreauxsss. The city is not a rich one, but it's very colorful with again it's very different from where I come from, which is much more gray :(

Toluca MexicoPeople seems nice everywhere, but the sense of insecurity is high, mexicans always telling us to be real carefull, to watch out, you end up a bit paranoid. News tv programs were all about ransoms and street violence.

I also visited the Monte Nevado de Toluca (the snowed mount of toluca), with no snow though. Nice, the highest place I ever been at 4.200 meters high.

I did a little test with every cab driver I got to talk with (two per day, for three weeks) I always asked them the same three questions. First, how high is Toluca?, second how much is it's population, third do you know where Uruguay is? The last one, was almost retorical I knew I had no chance. Anyway, the results of my little survey were that taxi drivers in toluca had very little cultural backgrouns, even about the regional data. I kinda dissapointed me, I expected more I guess, it's kinda sad.

On and all the three week stay was a little too much time to spend in toluca for me, but knowing places is always good, right?

Toluca Mexico
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Wednesday, December 28, 2005

France, Roscoff

Roscoff, house over hill in a cloudy weather
Roscoff is a little fishermen's town to the north of la bretagne. Beautiful architecture, quiet, and quite cold in winter. Not much nightlife, at least in weekdays.

Roscoff, France, bretagne style churchThis is a typical church "a la bretagne".

Roscoff, boats, bretagne, low tideOne remarkable thing about Roscoff is the noticeable difference in the water height when the tide changes. When the tide chanegs, it reaaally changes. On low tide the bay empties of water, and boats rest on the floor.

Roscoff, France, bridge to nowhereThis is a bridge that has no sense when the tide is high, the place it leads to is covered in water in high tide, but when is low it arrives to a big stone if i recall well.

Roscoff, house on a hill, on stormy weather
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Monday, December 26, 2005

France, The island of Ouessant

Island of Ouessant, flowers, and lighthouse
I was invited on a trekking weekend trip to la Île d'Ouessant. Somehow an uruguayan like me ended up in the island farther to the west of france, in the french department of finistère, the end of the earth, as once they thought it to be, beyond that only sea.

Island of Ouessant, France, travel by boatBeforehand I had no expectations, I knew it was an island we where going to, and that we would walk like there's no tomorrow (I guess that's trekking) but nothing else. I found myself in the charming company of around 20 or 30 french of an average age of 50, myself being 26 at the time. The whole experience turned out to be very different, but in a positive kind of way. The adventure started travelling to the port in Brest where you take the boat to reach the island.

Island of Ouessant, France, trekkingAfter almost an hour of travelling by boat on a rather uncalm sea we arrived to the island. I was completly wet, drenched in salty water, as I decided to stay outside the boat to appreciate better the landscape and every now and then a wave crashing to the boat rained over me. It may sound silly but I don't regret it.

The rather small demi desserted island has some romantic mystic to it. The place is a grassland with almost no population, surrounded by lighthouses planted every now and then. They told me that the most powerfull lighthouse in the world "lives" there.Island of Ouessant, France

We walked around 20 kilometers per day, around the perimeter of the island. I found the place the perfect spot to retire on a book reading and mind resting holiday since it's as calm as it gets, the presence of the sea is everywhere providing that feeling of solitude and calmfulness that a sea horizon and the sound of the waves can provide, and you are sourrounded by that.

Island of Ouessant
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Friday, December 16, 2005

France, Rennes

Marche d'lis, Rennes, France
I spent four months living in this city, and I grew very fond of it. It is actually a beautiful place to live, very neat and secure, the only thing I missed was having a beach in the city, but other than that the place is in several way the perfect place to live.

There are two universities in the city, having thus a very young population, and very good nightlife, with lots of places to have a good beer (very good beer also), and the typical beverage of the Bretagne region, cider, great cider.

I had the time of my life there, met wonderful people; I guess I’ll just let the
pictures do the talking.
Urban landscape of Rennes, good graffiti.
Graffiti, Rennes, France
Place du St Anne.
St Anne, Rennes, France
On the way to St Anne.
Rennes, France
Republique, and the river that crosses the city.
France, Rennes, Republique
Rainy day chez alfredo.
France, Rennes, rainy day
Parc du thabor, beautiful place to have a walk.
Parc du Thabor, Rennes, France

Cheers! Rue d'la soif, Rennes, France
Rue de la soif, sante! (street of the thirst! cheapest beer in all rennes)
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France, Mount Saint Michel

Mount Saint Michel France
This is another place which came straight out of a fairy tale. While standing in front of it I couldn’t help thinking it had fallen from the sky, as it is one really big piece of rock standing alone in the beach, surrounded by a plain of sand and water to one side and grassland to the other. The place is just amazing, breathtaking.Mount Saint Michel France

The legend goes that the archangel Michael revealed himself to one monk around the year 1000 and told him to build a house for God on the top of the mount in the beach. The place has seen it’s share of history pass by. One of the most amazing thing to learn was that it went through a 30 years siege, and didn’t fall, unbelievable!. I guess supplies coming from the sea are the explanation for it. It used to be an abbey for a very long time, it has about three different architectural layers, from Romanic to gothic, I believe.Mount Saint Michel France

The place retains that gothic mystic to it, which can be experienced while wondering in the stone chambers that used to shelter a host of monks. It was amazing to see such a big fireplaces where I could walk beneath it without my head touching the ceiling of it. By the way if you go there in autumn or winter take gloves as it's freezing cold, my fingers went numb and taking a picture was a decision not taken lightly.

There are a couple of days in the month when the tide rises and the whole place gets to be surrounded by water leaving only the road leading to the abbey uncovered. I didn’t see it but they say the sea rises around half a kilometer in half an hour, which is an amazing thing to presence. Mount Saint Michel France

They told me the French, in particular the normands of the zone amuse themselves by watching the restricted parking as it floods totally these days in the month when the tides rises, and from time to time they get to see the naïve tourist’s car drowned.

Mount Saint Michel France

After visiting it, it came as no surprise to find out that it's actually the second most visited place in france, after paris, and in particular by japanese tourists. Who would have said it?

Mount Saint Michel France
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