LEAVE THE RESORT FOR DOWNTOWN NASSAU AND ARAWAK CAY

Wrench yourself from the beaches for a half or full day and meander around the small downtown of Nassau. Finish the day at Arawak Cay a/k/a Fish Fry and you will see the pastel colored buildings which decorate this souvenir filled corner of the world and you will take notice of how the kindness and charm of the locals will refresh you in the heat. Be aware though that here in Nassau there are a number of dilapidated properties as of late.  Admittedly, it made me a little sad to see them looking so forlorn and lonely until I saw what some of the locals want to do with the buildings 😉 (See below.)

So without further ado, stop in the following few places on your day into town and you will get a much better feel for what Bahamian life is all about and pick up a little history lesson or two.

Continue reading “LEAVE THE RESORT FOR DOWNTOWN NASSAU AND ARAWAK CAY”

FOUND MY LOST SHAKER OF SALT IN SALAR DE UYUNI BOLIVIA

Salar de Uyuni a/k/a the Salt Flats is at an elevation of about 3,663 meters and is an UNBOLIVIABLE must see when traveling to Bolivia.  Depending on the time of year i.e. wet or dry season, you can not only get the wildly popular photographs and videos circulating around the worldwide web (some of which are really creative) but also get mirror image photos to die for where the reflection is so perfect in the still waters on the salt flats, it is like seeing two skies one on top of the other. And when I say skies, I want to point out that Bolivia brings all new meaning to the color blue when it comes to her skies.

So how do you get here?  My advice is that you call Richard at All Transport Tours as he will ensure you have everything you need from flights to Uyuni, a qualified English speaking guide like Tato, some photo props, unlimited potable water and food.  You just need to bring your own unique photography props, your imagination and some sunscreen! You may also want to bring flip flops for wading in the salt water and a light jacket as it can get chilly when the sun goes down.  The price for this excursion is $236 USD plus your flights which can run from $98USD one way up to $136USD on Amaszonas depending on when you book.  There are several packaged tours from 1 day to 2 days or even 3 days and either ending in Uyuni or San Pedro de Atacama across the border in Chile or you can go the other way and begin in San Pedro de Atacama, Chile and end in Uyuni.

So now that you know who to hire to take care of  you, what to bring with you and how much it will cost, I would like to share what you are likely to see and experience on your tour of Salar de Uyuni without, hopefully, giving away too much of the surprise.

The flight from La Paz is about 45 minutes to an hour and you arrive at a small airport in Uyuni.  From there you can take one of the many taxis available over to Red Planet (All Transport’s partner) to meet your group and your guide. You should hurry out of the airport just to ensure you get one of the taxis. Otherwise, you may be waiting for awhile.  The cost is 30BS for the taxi so it is best if you can find some other travelers at the airport to split the cab with you like I did so I only had to pay 10BS. The flight I took was early in the morning so I could go straight to Red Planet  and start the tour at 11:00 a.m. as opposed to flying in the night before and finding a place to stay in the small town of Uyuni. If at all possible, you want to ask if you can have Tato as your guide as he is a gifted photographer that can help you with your once in a lifetime perspective shots to show off on social media and to all your friends.

Unfortunately, my 3 day 2 night tour was cut short to a one day tour because of political and civil unrest among the communities further south. As such, I did not get to see the Arbol de Piedra (the Stone Tree), the Polques Hot Springs, the geysers, the Red Lagoon or Green Lagoon nor did I get to see the wildly popular flamingos as, apparently, the preferred method of warfare among the aforesaid communities down south was exploding dynamite, if you can believe it, and therefore, it was “unsafe” for the tour company to go to this area or to cross the border into Chile. Better safe than sorry I guess. But, please, I want you to hear me about going through All Transport to book this tour instead of directly through Red Planet and I will tell you why. Richard at All Transport reimbursed the tour fees except for the first day and immediately worked to get me on a return flight back to La Paz which he paid for out of the reimbursed fees whereas the very rude and difficult woman at Red Planet refused to reimburse some of the people their tour fees which shocked me to no end.

In any event, we had a lovely day first stopping at the famed Cementario de trenes a/k/a the Train Cemetery where salt and wind has eroded away these giant steel engines, train cars and train tracks.  It’s like a little playground for the dead filled with these deserted locomotives but, you can climb in and on these rusty trains as if you were a kid again. My new friends and I got a kick out of this little section of the tour not to mention some cool photos.

After the Train Cemetery, Tato proceeded to take us to Colchani where we learned a bit about the salt flats, how the salt hotels and homes are built and had a fantastic home cooked meal prepped by the tour company sitting on salt stools eating at a salt table in a salt building followed by a little shopping in the salt market. Would you like a little lunch with that salt, was my question!

 

Hands down the best part of the day was watching my boys, Jared, Nicco and Dylan, strip down to their tighty whities and button down green shirts to re-enact a scene from Breaking Bad before trying to capture some other scenes from the movies such as the Last Jedi, Game of Thrones and Spiderman and having a Swell Moment or rather a Swell shower! We spent hours in this photographer’s paradise a/k/a Salar de Uyuni and I am certain you will be mesmerized by it as well.

 

We also saw the Salt Hotel which is now more like a museum with flags from around the world promoting peace amongst nations protruding from the salt.

We saw where the Dakur Rally is now being held at least for the next couple years.

And as the salt desert chill began to infiltrate our worn out bones after a long day, we cozied up next to a salt water lake, had a little something something to drink and some light snacks while watching the sunset over the salt flats. Stupendous close to a stupendous day!

That’s all for now so send your questions and comments if you have any and then stop wondering and start wandering and go Unlock the Travelirvana in You.

 

 

São Paulo, Brazil: Day 1

The first day in a new country is always a bit tricky especially if you flew in from another part of the world to get there and especially if it is a huge city like São Paulo of 11.3 million people. Be good to yourself and take time to acclimate on every level including physically. Drink tons of water and get plenty of rest because jet lag can take hold and last through your vacation if you don’t conquer it immediately. So lots and lots and lots of water. Avoid alcohol in route and other things that further dehydrate you.  Also try and stay awake until it is the new time zone’s bedtime. Fit in a massage if you can to get the blood flowing in your body and the tension out of your muscles. It is much better to take a day off from the hustle and bustle of sight seeing and relax on day one so you can enjoy the remainder of your time traveling to the fullest extent.

Moreover, take an umbrella every where you go here because in São Paulo and other parts of Sude America the weather can change in the blink of an eye. In fact, the old adage “when it rains it pours” may have come from this continent!

On another note, Brazil is not cheap so far. A water, red bull and sandwich was 58,000 Real on Avenida Paulista which is $17 USD! The hotel for five nights in Jardins totaled $808 and the flight was outrageous at almost $1200.00. The taxi from airport was $150,000 Real. You only get 900 megabytes of data on your Brazilian SIM card for 70,000 Real. And the exchange rate was awful at GRU airport as it cost $25 to exchange $100USD so stay away from there.  Not that the ATMs are great either as each transaction is 30,000 Real. This place so far is a pocketbook burner. There has got to be a cheaper way so after the Grand Prix in São Paulo and after the helicopter ride and/or paraglide around the Christ Redeemer in Rio, I will set out to do this better and more cost effectively. The first part of that will be to get out of the big cities.

Something tells me however not to worry as it’s just another adventure.