Mexico!

Huatulco, Mexico - Designerella

Huatulco, Mexico - Designerella

¡Hola! from Huatulco, Mexico. What better way to celebrate being in Mexico than attending a Mexican Fiesta Folkloric show? The colorful costumes of the dancers dancing to the  rhythmic Mexican beats from the band La Bamba. Following the rhythmic beats of the tamboras, the dancers twirl and flaunt their colorful skirts.

Huatulco, Mexico - Designerella

Huatulco, Mexico - Designerella

Huatulco, Mexico - Designerella

Huatulco, located on the Pacific coast in south Mexico, is a tourist destination because of the great beaches, fabulous resorts and beautiful blue waters. The region typically has 330 sunny days a year and its dry season corresponds to the cold winter months in the United States and Canada. People looking to escape those cold, gray days can find relief here under the warm Mexican sun.

Huatulco, Mexico - Designerella

Huatulco, Mexico - Designerella

Huatulco, Mexico - Designerella

Before the tourist flocked here, the only flocks were the sheep. Today wool is still gathered, processed, spun and woven using traditional methods. Even the dyes are applied in a traditional way by grinding natural materials.

Huatulco, Mexico - Designerella

Huatulco, Mexico - Designerella

Huatulco, Mexico - Designerella

Huatulco, Mexico - Designerella

Unlike many resort towns, this is actually a place where locals live. Walking around town you see the locals going about their daily activities. But you will also see many things, like sombreros, that remind you of Mexico.

Huatulco, Mexico - Designerella

Huatulco, Mexico - Designerella

¡Chau!

The Panama Canal!

Hello from the Canal de Panamá (Spanish)!  The Panama Canal which connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans through the country of Panama is one of the world’s busiest shipping canals. It drastically shorts the trip for ships no longer have to navigate the long and treacherous route around the southernmost tip of South America. The construction of the canal across the isthmus of Panama was one of the largest and most difficult engineering projects ever undertaken.  Amazingly, the construction took only 10 years. In 2014 the canal will celebrate its 100 year in operation, and construction on expansion of the canal system is being done in conjunction with the celebration.

The transit through the Panama Canal requires a full day. It is quite remarkable to see these large ships navigating the narrow stretches of the canal and smaller tug boats weaving around and between them. Below are a few highlights of passing Gamboa, arriving and the clearing the Pedro Miguel Locks.

Panama Canal - Designerella

Panama Canal - Designerella

The Centennial Bridge, opened in 2004, connects North and South America through the Pan-American Highway. It is one of two bridges that connect the two continents.

Panama Canal - Designerella

Panama Canal - Designerella

To shorten the length needed to be dug, the canal passes through the Gatun Lake. However the lake is 85 feet above sea level, so a series of locks were needed to raise the ship from sea level to this elevation and then back down. Each lock holds nearly 9-million cubic feet of water, or about 65,800,000 gallons.  It is estimated that the amount of water consumed in the operation of the Panama Canal in one day would keep the city of Boston supplied for 2 weeks.  Amazingly no pumps are used in filling the lock chambers.  The principle action involved is simply that water seeks the lowest point. The lock gates at each end of the chambers are steel structures 65 feet wide 7 feet thick which carry in height from 47 to 82 feet and weigh between 390 and 730 tons. The illustration below shows how the locks are essential to the process.

Panama Canal Illustration - Designerella

Panama Canal - Designerella

Panama Canal - Designerella

Panama Canal - Designerella

Panama Canal - Designerella

Panama Canal - Designerella

Panama Canal - Designerella

Panama Canal - Designerella

Panama Canal - Designerella

Onward to the Pacific!

Colorful Colombia!

Cartagena, Colombia - Designerella

Hello from Colombia’s north coast city of Cartagena. The Colombian flag, which is bright yellow, blue and red, definitely represents the bold colors found throughout this city. The clothes, fruits, flowers and buildings are all found in bright colors.

Cartagena, Colombia - Designerella

Cartagena, Colombia - Designerella

Cartagena, Colombia - Designerella

Cartagena, Colombia - Designerella

Cartagena, Colombia - Designerella

The stalls in the plazas showcase even more color. Colorful jewelery, fine-painted maracas and leather canteens are commonly sold on the streets. Fresh fruit, especially coconuts, are also seemly sold at every corner.

Cartagena, Colombia - Designerella

Cartagena, Colombia - Designerella

Cartagena, Colombia - Designerella

Cartagena, Colombia - Designerella

Cartagena, Colombia - Designerella

Cartagena, Colombia - Designerella

Many of the building are of a colonial style. Above the streets are porches that are painted to contrast the bright colors of the buildings. The elevated porches capture more of the cool breeze coming off the nearby Caribbean Sea than at street level.

Cartagena, Colombia - Designerella

Cartagena, Colombia - Designerella

Cartagena, Colombia - Designerella

Cartagena, Colombia - Designerella

La Popa Monstaery sits atop a 435-foot-high hill.  In addition to providing spiritual experiences for many, it provides breathtaking views of the entire city.  I had many thoughts and prayers of my friends and family during this beautiful moment in Cartagena.

Cartagena, Colombia - Designerella

Cartagena, Colombia - Designerella

Cartagena, Colombia - Designerella

Cartagena is a colorful and hidden gem of the Caribbean and South America.

Rafting in Jamaica!

Montego Bay, Jamaica - Designerella

Montego Bay, Jamaica - Designerella

Montego Bay, Jamaica - Designerella

Hello from Jamaica!  Montego Bay is on the north shore of this Caribbean Island.  Tourist from all over come here to enjoy the beaches and soak up the sunshine. The beach is not the only cool tourist attractions to experience here.  Just east of Montego Bay is the Martha Brae river and it is known as a “rafting” river.  The rafting is not white-water rafting, instead it is a leisurely ride on a raft made of bamboo. The rafts are up to 30-feet long and can seat two people while the captain navigates. The captain also tells you the several folklore tales about the river and the area. I found it enjoyable to relax and watch the lush green river banks go by as we glided down the tranquil river.

Montego Bay, Jamaica - Designerella

Montego Bay, Jamaica - Designerella

Wild Florida!

Fort Lauderdale, Florida - Designerella

Hi ya’ll (a Southern greeting)!  Fort Lauderdale, Florida sits on the Atlantic coast of the Sunshine state. This time of year many Northerners come south for the beautiful, sunny Florida weather.  Florida is one of my favorite places in the states and, instead of doing the usual beach visit and shopping, a trip to Everglades National Park was on deck. While some may simply refer to this area as a simple swamp, it is a magnificent subtropical wetland ecosystem that is home to an amazing number of plants, birds and, of course, reptiles. Even small reptiles terrify me, so the large alligators which grow to 13 feet long and 800 pounds that are found all around the park kept me always on guard. There was times where I felt I was in an action movie scene about to be devoured by the reptiles.  When not being completely petrified, I did manage to snap some pictures of the of these wild beast.

Fort Lauderdale, Florida - Designerella

Fort Lauderdale, Florida - Designerella

Fort Lauderdale, Florida - Designerella

Fort Lauderdale, Florida - Designerella

But there is much more to the park than the alligators. Many variety of birds are found in the park. While the beautiful flamingo may be the most famous, the park is home to many types of birds. From egrets, to storks, to pelicans, to herons, to ibis, waterfowl are everywhere in the park.

Fort Lauderdale, Florida - Designerella

Fort Lauderdale, Florida - Designerella

Fort Lauderdale, Florida - Designerella

The anhinga is another bird that is commonly found in the Everglades. They hold their stretched out wings in an attempt to capture more of the warm Florida sun.

Fort Lauderdale, Florida - Designerella

The beautiful egrets, both the snowy and the great, have the most fantastic white color. It is these beautiful plumes that were widely used for women’s hats. Hunting nearly drove these birds to extinction. That development helped to justify the creation of the Everglades National Park. Now egrets are found throughout the park.

Fort Lauderdale, Florida - Designerella

While the Florida beaches are amazingly beautiful, the interior of sunshine state is also a treasure. In Europe it is often historic buildings that serve as landmarks of the country. In America is it the natural wonders, many that are protected in the National Parks, that serve as landmarks of the various states. The Everglades really is the jewel of Florida.

A Sail into New York City

New York City - Designerella

There really is no place like home.  It took eight days to cross the Atlantic Ocean, in a much more luxurious experience than the millions of immigrants who made the same voyage from England.  The first thing the immigrants saw was the Statue of Liberty. I needed to rise at 4:30 in the morning to catch our nearest transit in front of the beautiful Statue of Liberty.

New York City - Designerella

New York City has gone through so many tough times lately, but it always makes it through. Being overseas for quite some time, I realize how everyone would love to visit “the Big Apple”. I really have come to appreciate all the opportunities we have in the United States of America and especially this amazing city. I feel extremely lucky to consider this beautiful land my home.

Bruges, Belgium

Bruges, Belgium - Designerella

Brugge is one of my favorite cities in Europe and I had one last chance to cherish it before leaving Europe. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so let me save the words and let these pictures express how great Bruges is.

Bruges, Belgium - Designerella


Bruges, Belgium - Designerella


Bruges, Belgium - Designerella


Bruges, Belgium - Designerella


Bruges, Belgium - Designerella


Bruges, Belgium - Designerella


Bruges, Belgium - Designerella


Bruges, Belgium - Designerella


Bruges, Belgium - Designerella


Bruges, Belgium - Designerella


Bruges, Belgium - Designerella


Bruges, Belgium - Designerella


Bruges, Belgium - Designerella


Bruges, Belgium - Designerella


Bruges, Belgium - Designerella


Bruges, Belgium - Designerella


Bruges, Belgium - Designerella

In Bruges there is more than just beauty for the eyes, there are amazing things to smell and taste.

Bruges, Belgium - Designerella


Bruges, Belgium - Designerella


Bruges, Belgium - Designerella

Vaarwel (Flemish goodbye)!

Hamburg, Germany

Hamburg, Germany - Designerella

Guten Tag! from Hamburg, Germany.  The last blog posting from Hamburg celebrated the Hamburger Weihnachtsmarkt, or Hamburg’s Christmas Market.  After the holidays the decorations come down, it becomes the after holiday sales shopping season. One spot where there is noticeable change is in the Rathaus, or town hall, plaza. Before it was filled with little chalets selling Christmas treats, now the square under the clock tower is empty.

Hamburg, Germany - Designerella

Near the Rathaus is the Hauptkirche St. Petri, or main church of St. Peter. The church has a tall steeple, which provide excellent views of the city of Hamburg.

Hamburg, Germany - Designerella

In the German language compound words are common, creating words that never seem to end. Take for instance Stadtrundfahrt. Stadt means city, rund means around and fahrt means trip. Put them together and you have a sightseeing tour around the city.

Hamburg, Germany - Designerella

German public squares are an excellent place to hang out and people watch. It is something that I always look forward to when visiting Deutschland. Tschüß!

Hamburg, Germany - Designerella

Just Another Day In Spain…

Vigo, Spain - Designerella

Buenos días! from the wonderful country of España. Spain is a country that offers many different and exciting experiences for tourist. The Atlantic port town of Vigo is located just 20 miles north of Portugal, it is a location that provides a great Iberian experience.

A great place to begin exploring the town is from La Guia Hill. The hill is located to the east of downtown Vigo, in the suburb of Teis. At the top of the hill is a nice park that provides wonderful views of the city and the Ria de Vigo. Also atop the hill is a beautiful shrine Ermita de Nosa Señora Da Guía. The spire can be seen from most locations in Vigo. From here looking west provide wonderful views of the city and port. Looking east provides an excellent view of Ponte (bridge) de Rande. In both directions breathtaking panoramic views stretch out over the Galician countryside. And a close look into the waters shows rectangular structures which are mussel farms.

Vigo, Spain - Designerella

Vigo, Spain - Designerella

Vigo, Spain - Designerella

Just south of Vigo is O Pazo Quinones de Leon. This palace was built in 1620 recently restored to become Quinoes de Leon municipal museum that maintains the buildings and the gardens. This palace is sitting on a 17th century Castrelus Park which has stunning French gardens and fountains surrounding the palace. While pictures are not allowed inside the palace, the views are memorable enough not to need pictures. The furnishings in each room are remarkable with pieces coming from all-around the world. The alterpiece located the chapel is truly remarkable piece that should not be missed. Outside the gardens are well manicured and serve to make the outside space a continuation of the interior.

Vigo, Spain - Designerella

Vigo, Spain - Designerella

Vigo, Spain - Designerella

Every time I visit Spain I enjoy the sunny skies and wonderful hospitality. The town of Vigo, Spain provides a true Galatian experience.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year from Funchal on the island of Madeira, Portugal.  Funchal puts on a magnificent firework display to celebrate the New Year.  While I was watching the fireworks I was thinking about my friends and family back at home.  I would like to wish you all an enjoyable, peaceful, healthy, and happy 2013!

Madeira, Portugal - Designerella