Copyright Piacere - Food & Travel without rules! 2020 - Theme by ThemeinProgress
The country with its dramatic landscape, lakes, rain forests, jungles, volcanoes, markets and welcoming people is in transition. Its colonial cities such as Granada and Leon are colorful, a photographers paradise.
The population is 95% catholic and there are many churches; a colorful country with buildings, doors and dwellings painted in bright tones. Tourist are discovering the culture and beauty of the country and there is a transition under way.
Those who are not afraid to experience adventure, traveling the country by car can be very rewarding. The landscapes with cone shaped volcanoes, lakes, beaches and pastures are dramatic.
Although the infrastructure is only just beginning to be developed, there are a few good highways and many of the roads are challenging but drivable. We traveled from the North-west to the South-west of the country, parallel to the Pacific Ocean coast line, visiting the major inland cities.
Although the driving is slow it also allows you to see rural life and stop at the small food stands along the way. I highly recommend renting a car and experiencing the country and culture.
It should be said that speaking Spanish is a must. Although you can find a few people in the cities, particularly in the hotels that can speak English.
I can’t say enough about the warm nature of the people. In general they live in dwellings that are built from any type of material that can be found, many with dirt floors and within their property they are cleaning and sweeping to maintain an orderly environment constantly.
Their dwellings are often built in the jungle under trees for shade, smoldering fires are lit to keep bugs away. They are friendly, and more then willing to engage in an attempt to converse, or have you take their photo.
They love music, dancing and being together with family. Their neighborhoods are a close community of people and they are hard workers.
It also must be said that the common areas are filled with trash and my guess is that the country doesn’t have the infrastructure to handle trash removal. The beaches, crowded with locals all the time, are not well maintained. High-end condos for foreigners are in the process of being constructed along the coasts, but the small villages, small hotels, restaurants and roads are inadequate to handle large numbers of tourist.
Having said this, we ate in the local restaurants and found the food to be not only delicious and fresh, but we totally enjoyed everything about them including all the local activity and entertainment.
It was fun to spend time being locals for a little while. The food is very inexpensive and there is no need to eat at higher end restaurant. We visited cantinas, small little eateries, beachfront restaurants and the local markets and never had a problem.
It is always best to be aware of eating in local places, it can be risky, but although we brought along all the medication we needed, we never had the need to use them.
Adventure travelers will find hiking, volcano sliding, zip lining, surfing and many other sporting adventures to explore. There are 25 volcanoes, 9 of which are active. Hiking them opens dramatic panoramas in every direction.
It is time to visit Nicaragua now and enjoy this interesting country before progress changes it.
Two of my photo’s were accepted in the juried contest of Johathan Dickinson State Park in Hobe Sound Florida.
June 20th – July 21st
Entry Fee $5
If you enjoy outdoor sports, this is a wonderful park for biking, equestrian, hiking, water sports, fishing and camping. It has a very interesting history and some remnants of its roll in WWII are still evident.
There are wonderful photography opportunities of the train track and expansive views from the lookout tower.
Johathan Dickinson State Park
Kimbell Education Center
16450 SE Federal Hwy
Hobe Sound, FL 33455
Florida has thousands of parks and reserves that offer magnificent opportunities to view wildlife and enjoy sport activities. Riverbend is located in Jupiter, (Palm Beach County), and is 680 acres of subtropical terrain, waterways and miles of trails.
The park offers wonderful hiking, bicycling, horseback riding as well as water sports like canoeing and kayaking. Riverbend is a unique blend of outdoor activity opportunities lending itself to both young and seniors.
The self-guided trails are easy to follow and you will want to stop along the way to take in the beautiful views and reflections along the Loxahatchee River and the bird life that make it their home.
There are Chickee huts with picnic tables and grills available for your picnic outings. The park is open everyday from sunrise to sunset and has a visitors center equipped with trail maps and equipment.
If you are a visitor or longtime resident of Florida, visiting Riverbend Park is a wonderful blend of nature and sporting activities.
As we flew over Iowa and I looked down at the patchwork of cornfields, I wondered what would keep our interest on our drive back to Atlanta.
The harvest was a few weeks away so the farms were devoid of activity and people as is often the case in farm regions I have been in. I had my ITunes ready for a long drive with my favorite music.
We picked up some fruit, fresh bread and pastries at a wonderful and very large farmers market in Des Moines and purchased cold cuts and drinks at a local market for a picnic lunch. We might not find a restaurant on the way back and we thought we would find a nice area to stop for lunch. As it turned out we drove down a small country road and enjoyed our lunch along side a corn filed. Well how appropriate was that.
Surprisingly, it wasn’t as dull as I had expected. The beauty of the barns, silo’s and movement in the sky was mesmerizing. As in other trips where we encountered farmland or vineyards, it is quite, peaceful and farmers have meticulous respect for the land. The clean shiny silos and white barns provided breaks of interest as well as the human element that sometimes gets lost in long distances of endless landscape.
The striking difference from the farmland I’m use to seeing in Switzerland, France, Germany and even Italy was the flat the terrain. Yet the deep green corn reaching for the sun, white barns with silver metal roofs glistening in the sunlight, and round metal silos created unique images.
Life seems timeless, as if nothing had changed.
Yet we know that these farms are hi-tech and provide food around the world. Iowa produces more corn than most countries and corn can be found in many products such as animal feed, starches, oils, sweeteners and even ethanol (Iowa Corn Growers Association).
I have found that if you look hard enough, you often find beauty in unexpected places.
Surrounded by Pilatus, Birgenstock, Stanserhorn and Rigi mountains, Lucerne is the capital of the Canton of Lucerne. Steamboat traveling along the lake float by deep green hills, villages with half-timbered-houses and grand mountain views. Ancient guildhalls, churches and frescoed buildings create a romantic and colorful cityscape.
Covered bridges span the River Reuss that flows through the town. The most famous being the medieval Chapel Bridge, the pride of the city and one of the oldest covered wooden bridges in Europe. In the summer white pink and red geraniums run along the entire bridge on both sides and swans swim gracefully along making even the tourist activity and bustling city seem moody and peaceful. The bridge was restored to its original state after a fire destroyed some of the medieval paintings that adorn its wood ceiling.
The Swiss Museum of Transport (Verkehrshaus) is one of the largest transport museums in Europe. Switzerland is well known for its efficient transport system and the history of it can be viewed in this modern attractive museum. It offers many hands on activities for children both inside and on the grounds. Next to the museum, in the same complex, is the Hans Erni Museum, one of Switzerland most prominent artists. He celebrated his 100th birthday in 2009 and is still painting. I have heard that sometimes he can be seen strolling around talking to visitors.
Cafes are scattered all along the cobble stone streets of the city and the lake, a favorite place to have lunch or dinner in the summer time. We ate at the Old Swiss House known for its schnitzel cooked in a pound of butter. I was reluctant to order it, as I’m not a fan of butter, instead I ordered venison, which was outstanding. After tasting my husband’s schnitzel, I knew that I would have to go back. It was tender without a strong butter flavor, fresh farm butter makes a difference. The restaurant was built in 1858 and the interior is cozy and formal with carved wood, stained glass and paintings. The prices are steep, but the quality is worth it. www.oldswisshouse.ch
Lucerne with its ancient buildings is a modern city hosting many business events in its large conference center. It has an active nightlife with bars and restaurants offering entertainment with international, as well as traditional menus. Restaurant prices run the gamut from very expensive to reasonable.
Only about 1 hour from Basel and Zürich, it can be a day trip or better yet stay a few days to get the full experience of this stunning city.
Hiking in the mountains is invigorating as we pass people parasailing, white water rafting, motorcycling, mountain biking, horse back riding, all taking advantage of the cool days in the mountains during the summer.
The sunsets paint the sky in tones of red, orange and yellow. Thunderstorms echo throughout the mountains and when they leave they seem to say “I’m sorry for making such a fuss, so I’ll leave you with a rainbow”.
The valleys spring into life as flowers turn the hills and meadows into shades of blue, yellow, red and white and their sweet aromas penetrate the air. Restaurants are crowded with guests enjoying eachothers company surrounded by flower covered houses. The Summer!
In the Autumn the trees turn yellow and orange and the cows are escorted down to the valley as the air becomes crisp and snow threatens.
Farmers rush to sickle down grass and stack the hay in barns for the winter. Cows, sheep, goats and horses are now grazing in the valley, their last chance to roam free.
The vines are heavy with deep blue and yellow grapes ready to be harvested. The wine fests begin!
I love looking out over Serneus as I hike down from the mountain and the Summer gives way to Autumn colors. I think this might be my favorite time of the year. The Autumn!
At the first sign of snow the villagers move into action preparing for the arrival of the ski season. Anticipation builds up to the lifts opening. I’m sorry to see the Autumn come to a close, but one of my favorite seasons is around the corner.
My favorite moment is when I walk out of my bedroom in the morning and view the light snow peacefully falling over the village from my picture window. The church steeple reaches out to greet the soft flakes and the ski run begins to take shape behind it.
Klosters turns from green to white with ice clutching the edges of the mountain streams.
Thoughts of skiing alone down wide open slopes with views that carry you to the ends of the earth begins to sweep over me. The Winter!
In early Spring the snow covered peaks provide a backdrop for the green rolling hills against a deep blue shy and the contrast is amazing, yes this is my favorite season.
The blue and green colors of the lakes are translucent as the sun penetrates the water.
Mountain streams are swollen as rushing water flows from the glaciers. Deer can be spotted along the hills nibbling at the new grass after a long winter. Spring is one of my favorite seasons. The Spring!
I can’t quite make up my mind which is my favorite season.
Devils Garden is about 17 miles southeast of Escalante, Utah. Formations of sandstone worn down by the ages are called hoodoos. They create an unreal landscape in tones of red and terra cotta surrounded by white cliffs.
We stayed at a bed and breakfast in the small town of Escalante that was very nice and well-appointed. The owner provided us with hand drawn maps and suggestions of where to go, what time to be there and what we would see. We may have missed this wondrous sight if it were not for him.
Driving to Devils Garden in itself is an experience. The road winds down steep cliffs with hairpin turns without guard rail protection down to flat plains. Having lived in Switzerland for a long time, you might think I would be use to traveling on roads like this, but I was holding my breath all the way.
We left before sunrise after it had rained with dark clouds hovering over white cliffs. I was already getting anxious at what we might find. The drive was harrowing until we came to a long gravel road. We stopped and got out of the car to take in the view before us. Dark clouds hung over a very desolate but unique landscape. We came upon a small parking lot, and just behind it, stretched out before us was an amazing sight. We were in Devils Garden, looking out at hoodoos in varying shapes and sizes.
The rain had left the earth smooth and glistening. The clouds opened up and closed from time to time looking very threatening and the landscape stretched out as far as the eye could see. According to Wikipedia the gardens are estimated to be about 166 to 174 million years old. Dinosaurs fossils and tracks have been discovered and you can imagine them roaming around this surreal scene. It looked like the creation of visual effects artists.
At first we stood motionless in amazement, feeling like we were on sacred ground. It was so quite, we were alone, and it took a few minutes to acclimate ourselves to this strange sight. We began to walk around the arches and stone formations. They are shaped by erosion and wind sandblasting the surface creating smooth rounded shapes. As we walked, we felt as if we were on another planet and our lonely foot prints were the first to travel this ground. Our landlord for the evening had given us good advice to arrive very early in the morning to see the sunrise, except maybe we were even luckier to have arrived after a rainfall.
The Limmat Quai runs through the city flowing out of the Lake of Zürich. Lined with swimming areas and restaurants it is the playground of the city where people meet in beer gardens and cafes. The city is sophisticated, elegant, spotless and yet it seems like a beachfront with people sunbathing along the river and lake. Motorboats, sail boats and steamboats move along the lake in a frenzy of activity while people dinning in the restaurants enjoy their champagne brunch. During summer, the lake promenade is a relaxing way to spend the day or evening enjoying the beautiful views and feeding the swans that gather around the shore.
This is the center of Switzerland’s famous financial services, an important international business hub. It looks more like a resort then a business center. But then you walk down the Bahnhofstrasse and you are in another world. Banks, insurance companies, trading companies stand side by side with exclusive shops.
Zürich is the largest city in Switzerland and offers the traveler more then 2,000 restaurants and some of the most luxurious hotels in the world. People stroll along the Bahnhofstrasse window-shopping at spectacular jewelry, art galleries and elegant boutiques. Smartly dressed people stop at Sprüngli’s for an espresso and decadent desserts. Sweets are not just for special occasions here, they are an important part of the lifestyle and you cannot pass by without experiencing some of the luscious chocolates beautifully displayed to excite your taste buds. My internal navigation system is permanently set to take me to the Paradeplatz; if not to indulge myself in chocolate truffles, griotte, and tarts, but to also take in the visual experience of Sprüngli’s and Teuschers’ chocolate concoctions. It is said that the average Swiss eats approximately 22 pounds of chocolate per year.
Zürich has the biggest techno parade in Europe, and has the Züri Fäscht, a fest with spectacular fireworks to music that sprawls along the entire harbor side and held every 3 years. Zürcher Theater Spetakel, an outdoor cinema and live musical programs fill the summer schedule with entertainment.
Many political refugees lived in Zürich shortly before and during the two world wars of the last century. They gathered in the Odeon Café at the Bellevue, among them Trotsky, Lenin before the Russian revolution and many artists and writers during the Nazi period, such as Berthold Brecht. Even today it is a place where intellectuals gather.
Visit the Grossmünster, a Romanesque church and the Fraumünster. The old Gothic church has windows created by Marc Chagall. Kunsthaus, one of the major Swiss art museums and many more are mostly free entry.
This civilized city somehow seems to be in slow motion and still in high gear at the same time. It is like everyone’s back yard yet there is serious business going on in the majestic buildings. The intermingling of young smartly dressed business people in suits lunching at the many ultra modern bars and the serious looking bank buildings are a stark contrast to all the activity surrounding them.
The Niederdorf can’t be forgotten. This is the Old Town, and here like in many cities it coexists with jazz clubs, exotic shows, small theaters, restaurants, clubs, galleries, jewelry shops and boutiques. This is the place to go at night and during the day for a bit to eat in one of the many restaurants. Here you find people elegantly dressed on their way to the Opera or pre-opera dinning or enjoying jazz at the many clubs. This is not the typical seedy part of town, but the entertainment district for all to enjoy. It is buzzing from late afternoon into the early morning hours. Fourteenth century buildings and small cobblestone streets offer apartment living and city getaways for people living in the suburbs.
Switzerland has a fantastic transport system, not only can you tour the city by tram, but you can also take restaurant trams enjoying lunch as you go. In a very short time you can be in the Pre-alps or even in the Alps. Steamboats take you on slow lazy cruises along the villa-lined lake with the alps looming in the background, and during the Föhn (warm air coming from over the alps from the south) seem to be touchable. The contrast of the countryside is stunning as you very quickly go from this alluring city to the peaceful awesome views of the green rolling hills to the alps. Travel by train along transparent blue glass like waters of the many lakes. Buy tickets at ticket machine before boarding or from one of the kiosks. Tickets are sold for the day or multiple trips, or tickets that offer you all forms of transportation.
Zürich is as complex as the Swiss themselves – a reflexion of the Swiss personality. Complex, reserved, conservative, hesitant, precise and even reluctant and yet there is an underlying energy, bursts of excitement and curiosity. These traits create an innovative and courteous place that typifies the city and the people who live here. It is stunningly beautiful.