Forty-six snapshots of the world

I couldn’t pick just one, so here are 46 of my favorite snapshots from around the globe! I hope these photos ignite a sense of wanderlust and adventure for you.

Mostly taken with a Canon Rebel T2i or iPhone 4S.

Share with me your favorite! Enjoy.


Brugge, Belgium
“Swan Lake” or something like it. 

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Santiago, Chile
The Andes from the top of Cerro Santa Lucia.

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Santiago, Chile
Quiet moments at the top of San Cristobal Hill.

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Santiago, Chile
A hum bird in action.

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Toledo, Spain
In the rain.

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Biarritz, France
Where nude moms play sand volleyball with their kids.

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Biarritz, France
House on a rock.

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San Sebastián, Spain
One of the most beautiful places on Earth.

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Niagara Fallas, Canada
A different perspective. 

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Toronto, Canada
The harbor looking a little Eerie. 

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Beijing, China
Bright skies void of smog at the Temple of Heaven.

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Beijing, China
The farther you hike, the less people you encounter.

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Guangdong, China
Stellar sunflowers at the Kaiping Diaolou Watchtowers. 

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Hong Kong
Ten Thousand Buddhas monastery where there are really 10,000 buddhas. 

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Hong Kong
The linear view from the 34th floor. 

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Hong Kong
Neon lights and taxi cabs.

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Sooke, Canada
Sunsets in Sooke. 

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Belize City, Belize
An oldie but goodie.

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Tarifa, Spain
Stereotypically Spanish on Bolonia Beach.

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Tarifa, Spain
Baby bulls on the beach. I repeat, baby bulls on the beach.

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Tarifa, Spain
The windiest place on Earth.

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Tarifa, Spain
Windblown.

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Gibraltar, United Kingdom
A baby macaque at the top of the rock.

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Valencia, Spain
#canon

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Tenerife, Spain
Tranquility at its finest.

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Tenerife, Spain
Want to go for a swim? Portugeuse man o’ wars in the Atlantic Ocean.

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Tenerife, Spain
My happy place involves happy pilot whales.

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Madrid, Spain
Home is wherever these flats are. 

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Marrakech, Morocco
Peaceful places in the chaotic city.

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Marrakech, Morocco
Nesting at the Badi Pali

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Howth, Ireland
Dublin’s best kept secret.

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Howth, Ireland
Seals & seagulls.

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Oranienburg, Germany
Sachsenhausen concentration camp. “Work makes you free.”

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Berlin, Germany
A twisted tale of an abandoned amusement park.

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Prague, Czech Republic
Czech out these night lights.

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Prague, Czech Republic
Arrive to Prague at 6 a.m. on Christmas Eve and you can find something like this.

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Paris, France
I highly recommend Paris at Christmas time.

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Paris, France
Louvre it.

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Paris, France
No matter how many pictures you’ve seen, there’s nothing like seeing this in person for the first time.

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Paris, France
My camera loved Paris, especially the Basilique du Sacré Cœur.

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Cabo da Roca, Portugal
The westernmost point in continental Europe.

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Sintra, Portugal
It’s like Disney Land for adults. 

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Singapore, Singapore
Watching the sunset from the top of the Marina Bay Sands Resort.

Singapore skyline

Penang, Malaysia
Spoiled by local Malaysians.

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Maho Bay, Saint Maarten
Incoming!

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Saint Maarten
Boats and beaches.

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Brugge, Belgium: Finding a stranger in my bed

Brugge is a dream. A waffle, french fry, beer, and chocolate filled Belgian dream. And at Christmas time, it is the setting depicted in every magical Christmas story ever told. It was absolutely picture perfect and I was immediately smitten with the little town. 

Our hotel was fabulous… a balcony view right on the canal! Our digs seemed too good to be true for our backpacker budget, but I scored a steal-of-a-deal online and we weren’t complaining.

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The little white section with the pinnacle was our charming room!

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The view from our balcony

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The view from our balcony

After arriving, we merely wandered and absorbed the picturesque town… swans glided through the chilly canals, horse hooves echoed on the cobble stone streets, Christmas trees illuminated the plazas and the scent of sweet waffles whirled through the air.

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The following morning, we ate a divine lunch at the Ginger Bread Tea Room and then took a tour of De Halve Maan brewery and sipped on some delectable brews.

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The “bunny” I ordered for lunch. One of the best meals I’ve ever had!

My brewery tour fun fact: St. Arnold was appointed the patron saint of beer because when the plague brutally attacked Europe, he encouraged people to drink beer rather than the contaminated water, which in turn, saved millions of lives. 

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The view from the top of the brewery

After a flawless afternoon, we were feeling so keen on our Brugge experience.

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We wanted to swing by our cozy canal side room to freshen up and find a nice place for dinner. We practically floated through the lobby of the hotel and out to the courtyard where our room was.

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We were sharing our favorite parts from the day, agreeing that Brugge was definitely one of the most beautiful places we had ever seen and how this had been the best start to our Christmas vacation.

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Spencer put the key in the keyhole, turned the doorknob and suddenly we heard a shriek!

“Excuse me!” she shouted. “Heeeello, can I help you?!”

Oops! We must have caught the maids by surprise, I thought.

But then I saw her. I couldn’t see much since the sun sets at an ungodly hour during a European winter, but I could see a surprised and tired looking blonde woman emerging from our canopy bed, covering herself with our bed sheets.

“This is our room!” I shouted. “What are you doing here?!”

“See, we have the keys,” Spencer added.

“I checked in today at noon and this is the room they gave me,” she argued.

“Where’s all of our stuff?!” I demanded, like she was holding it hostage or something.

“NOT HERE!” she replied.

We slammed the door shut and ran to the front desk. My hands were trembling and I was boiling over with anger. We had to ring a doorbell and wait for a man to meander out from an office.

“Can I help you?” he asked.

“Yes, someone is in our room!”

“Ah, yes you were supposed to check out today at noon,” he calmly responded.

“No we weren’t,” I insisted. “We leave tomorrow! And where are all of our things?” I couldn’t believe this. How could this hotel make such a stupid mistake?

I slammed our reservation confirmation papers onto the desk and pointed at the dates.

“SEE!”

“Yes, I see. It says one night, checking out today at noon,” he calmly contested.

OH MY GOSH. He was right. We never had a “steal-of-a-deal” after all.

“Well, sorry,” he said unsympathetically. “We’re fully booked so you can’t stay here tonight. Your stuff is in the laundry room.”

The big, burly man led us to the laundry room to collect our belongings. I was shaking and fighting tears and scared to death. It was the peak season in Brugge, almost 6:00 p.m., we were about to lose our Internet access, and we didn’t have phone service. How were we ever going to find another place to stay?

I was imagining us wandering up and down those cold cobblestone streets, dragging our suitcases behind us, asking every hotel and hostel for an available room. I just knew we would be sleeping on the street that night. I wondered how I could convince the swans to snuggle with me for extra warmth. I felt like Tiny Tim’s less optimistic older sister.

We organized our suitcases and did a walk of shame out of the hotel and into the cold.

We trudged toward a hotel just across the street. I waited outside and pouted with the bags while Spencer inquired about a room.

After several minutes, he came outside and told me the price. Just surprised that there was availability, I yelled, “LET’S TAKE IT!” It was a Christmas miracle!

We both went inside, paid and hiked up to our new room. I opened the door and I couldn’t believe what we had just paid for.

There was graffiti-like writing on the headboard and a strange smell floating through the air (and no, it wasn’t waffles, trust me). Still trying to feel thankful to have a place to stay, I connected to the Internet and jumped on trusty TripAdvisor.

According to TA, we began our adventure staying in the third best hotel in the city. Of 102 hotels in Brugge, we ended our adventure at the hotel ranked 97th.

We hesitantly hopped into bed, which was actually just two twin beds pushed together, only to find some Euros hiding in the scratchy sheets.

Needless to say, I didn’t sleep well that night, but we were warm and we were safe and we were three Euros richer.

Regardless of the ending, Brugge was still a win in my book and I would return in a heartbeat, but next time, I’ll double-check every single detail before arriving.

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My Brugge recommendations: 

Accommodation: Turns out, it’s not in our backpacker budget, but the Canalview  Hotel Ter Reien was just gorgeous and they didn’t charge us a late checkout fee.

Lunch/brunch: One of the best meals I’ve ever had was at the Ginger Bread Tea Room. Order the bunny! (reservation is a must)

Dinner: An affordable and delicious menu accompanied by a friendly and helpful staff, I definitely recommend de Verbleeding for a cozy dinner!

Drinks: We never wanted to leave Brugs Beertje. A wide selection of beers and a kind staff made for a memorable evening.

Tour: Don’t miss the de Halve Maan brewery tour! Very informative and you get a fabulous panoramic view from the top of the brewery. 

A nutty neighbor named Valentina

A few weeks after moving into our apartment complex, which actually seems to double as a retirement home, we were greeted by a delicate little old lady. She spoke Spanish at an unsympathetic speed and the only thing we could really grasp was her name, Valentina. She lives on the floor below us, meaning she has to hike about 60 stairs to reach her apartment. She can often be found standing outside her apartment looking at the plants, knocking on her neighbor’s door or sweeping in her pajamas.

One day in October we passed her on our way back from lunch. For the first time, she stopped us to chat and we desperately tried to comprehend what she was saying, giving lots of head nods, “si-s,” or “no entiendo-s.” Although there was a huge language barrier, she had this knack for sucking us in, providing no opportunities for escape.

We understood that she wanted to invite us in for lunch and we tried to explain that we had literally just eaten. Either she didn’t understand or this didn’t matter, because we quickly found ourselves being pulled into her apartment by our wrists.

She made us a place at her table and went to the kitchen to finish preparing the cocido, a traditional dish from Madrid.

She came back to the dining room a little panicked as she tried to explain that she had forgotten bread. We didn’t understand what the problem was, but she quickly disappeared out the door, wearing only her bathrobe and pajamas, leaving us alone in her apartment.

Spencer and I sat there with her talkative bird named Cholo wondering if this is what the Spanish version of Hansel and Gretel would look like. Should we try to escape? Would Cholo rat us out? Or should we just stay and risk being shoved into the oven?

After about 15 minutes, she returned with the bread, ready to serve us our second lunch of the day.

I had no idea what cocido was, but as soon as I saw it, I pathetically realized it was my worst nightmare. It was one of those situations where I needed to claim I had food allergies or just suck it up and eat it. I wasn’t even the slightest bit hungry and it contained beans, apples and chunks of unknown meat in stew form–just a few of my favorite things. I know this is pathetic, but I’m a huge baby about food and I just didn’t know how I was going to swallow this,  but I also I didn’t know how to express fake allergies in Spanish, so I ate it, only gagging a little into my napkin.

Just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, she took my full glass of water and poured it into one of her plants, replacing it with Sunny-D. I hate Sunny-D and I never wanted Sunny-D. I chugged the glass, then replaced it with water again. I guess Valentina thought I was still a little short on my vitamin D intake for the day because again, she took my water and dumped it into her plant. This was a battle I was never going to win.

As Valentina fired off in Spanish sometimes speaking to us and sometimes to Cholo, we were never really sure who the conversation was directed toward, I couldn’t help but notice the scene unfolding on her television screen. We were surrounded by religious figurines and Jesus dolls, but on the TV was a terrifying movie full of nudity and sex. When I wasn’t gagging, I couldn’t help but giggle at the situation. Spencer and I exchanged several glances at one another, wondering how we were ever going to escape this situation.

After lunch, she pulled out some “gummy” candies. They may or may not have been as old as her, but they were solid as a rock and she insisted that we eat them. You just don’t say “no” to Valentina.

After some really compelling conversation (Valentina doesn’t speak a lick of English… I seriously can’t imagine we were very entertaining lunch guests), she invited us back over for dinner. She also said if we ever have visitors in Spain, they could stay in her apartment with her. The more the merrier, or something like that.

And after a solid two hours we were free.

We have since been dragged back into the apartment by our wrists one or two more times. I definitely played the allergy card one time, but she accused me of not wanting to get fat. Although our Spanish has improved, she is still wildly difficult to understand, and we just wave and run when we see her now. Sometimes, she even comes and knocks on our door to ask for various things… including money.

More recently, I encountered Valentina downstairs with a group of six other elderly ladies. I was slightly uncomfortable as I watched an intense situation unfold. Lots of shouting and hand gestures and I was sure it was all directed at little old Valentina. But as I continued to observe the situation, I realized they weren’t fighting. They were just trading hair dyes.

Maybe just a lonely little old lady, I hope we made her day by sharing lunch with her. I wish we could provide her with more compelling companionship, but until then, we’ll just continue to smile and wave and run up or down the stairs.

Should we escape?!

Should we escape?!

Cocido.......

Cocido…….