Water Management in the Netherlands – Het Kristalbad

Kristalbad, the Netherlands (©photocoen)

“The Miracle is not to walk on water. The miracle is to walk on the green earth, dwelling deeply in the present moment and feeling truly alive.” ~Thích Nhât Hanh

A couple of years ago, when visiting my parents, my father asked me to join him for a bicycle ride. The region I grew up in, in the east of the Netherlands, is characterized by lots of green and even today still has a sense of space. The latter is not evident: the Netherlands is one of the most densely populated countries in the world with an average of 500 inhabitants per square kilometer (for comparison: the U.S. has 35). Continue reading

How Can Birds Remind You of the Airlift in Berlin?

Fishermen in Puerto Lopez, Ecuador (©photocoen)I can’t remember the name of the book but it was a fiction novel about Germany right after the war. In high school, World War II had been a major topic in our history classes so I thought I knew quite a bit about it, yet when reading this novel a couple of years later, it was the first time I heard about the Airlift in Berlin. Continue reading

5 Top Travel Destinations in French Guiana

Top travel destinations: watching the hatching of sea turtles (©photocoen)Why this tiny piece of land called French Guyana offers top travel destinations:

  1. May be a little-visitedt territory, but if you care for nature and/or wildlife spotting, it is a top travel destination and you shouldn’t miss it. You can easily spend a 3-week holiday here. Okay, we spent closer to 3 months (over various visits), but Coen and I have the tendency to not being able to leave once we fall in love with a place.
  2. Has been one of our big surprises on our South America journey. This overseas department of France lies north of Brazil and east of Suriname. It has few people, lots of Amazon rainforest, a bit of savanna and a long and easily accessible coast along the Atlantic Ocean.
  3. Offers a diversity of trails for hikers, fun outings for families with kids, and has numerous spots for birding, watching sea turtles or other wildlife. Having said that, it is not a country for those who seek large or imposing museums or suchlike cultural places of interest. Continue reading

Sightseeing in Buenos Aires – 5 Hidden Corners

Sightseeing in Buenos Aires: Banco de la Provincia de Buenos Aires, Argentina (photocoen)

Banco de la Provincia de Buenos Aires: detail of a bronze door

Sightseeing in Buenos Aires, let me think for a sec. Okay: taking tango lessons, eating slabs of beef, visiting the Recoleta Cemetery, strolling around Palermo, checking out the football stadium in La Boca…

All activities worth undertaking and places worth seeing. So, Coen and I did all that and more on the typical must-see-cum-do list for Buenos Aires. Then part two of the fun started, finding the city’s quiet yet charming spots, hidden churches, local restaurants, and anything else worth exploring outside guidebooks.

Continue reading

5 Off-the-Beaten-Track Attractions Around Lake Titicaca

Toritos for good luck in Atuncolla.

Toritos for good luck in Atuncolla.

Our journey in Peru started around one of the most bewitching places in South America: Lake Titicaca. As usual I had a general idea of the places I wanted to visit in Peru; also, as usual as well, we got a couple of surprises on the way. Peru’s Lake Titicaca turned out to offer much more than just a stop in Puno and a visit to the floating islands. Continue reading

5 Museums in La Paz, Bolivia

18th century houses in Calle Jaen.

It was one of these beautiful days: a dark-blue sky, sunrays warming me, and an empty to-do list. I strolled through La Paz’ city center and ambled uphill on the northeastern side of El Prado, the city’s main avenue to visit five of La Paz’ museums, conveniently located in one street, called Calle Jaen. It was a long walk, but as I wasn’t in a hurry it didn’t matter. Continue reading

Día del Mar – Bolivia Commemorates the War of the Pacific

Día del Mar in La Paz, Bolivia (©photocoen)One of Bolivia’s important days of commemoration is Día del Mar. During this ‘Day of the Sea’ the country remembers the War of the Pacific in 1879, during which Bolivia lost its access to the Pacific Ocean. In La Paz the occasion includes a daylong parade of military units, government departments and youth bands. Continue reading

El Cafetal’s Coffee Plantation

Young Coffee Plants (©Coen Wubbels)

Bolivia is one of the world’s producers of Arabica coffee. While the Yungas (north of La Paz) is Bolivia’s traditional and principal coffee growing region, the country’s largest exporter is situated in the department of Santa Cruz – in Buena Vista, to be exact. A friend suggested to check out Hacienda El Cafetal, to visit the coffee plantation and factory and, of course, to taste some high-quality, organic coffee. Continue reading

The Remains of What Once Was the Largest Sawmill in the Caribbean

We had been driving all day through the rainforest and couldn’t find a place to camp because there weren’t any clearings. Until we came upon a fork and, in the distance, saw an antenna, which indicated habitation. We drove there and arrived at Anarika, which turned out to be a logging concession. We asked for permission to stay, which was granted, and were shown around by the passionate guard Owen. Continue reading