Caption: Me at the Old Book Market in Havana.
When I left my home country, Cuba, I had no notion of what the real world was going to be like. I was very naive, mostly, due to the fact that I had lived on a closed island without the influence of the capitalist world.
I strongly wanted to travel, I had a deep desire for changing my reality, for seeing all the fantastic things I used to read about in books - I was an avid reader, I mainly read classic novels and this, to some point, distorted my perception of reality. At the end, we all create our own realities.
Despite the fact that Cuba is a country of emotional and open people I managed to spend quality time by myself very often. I lived omnisciently, trying to see the world from outside my body, observing and analyzing everything that was new to me. I found, and still find, life so mysterious and interesting!
When I look back to what my life in Cuba used to be, and the lifestyle I have had in other countries, it is all so different. Yet, I wouldn't change any of the experiences I had in Cuba.
Watch this video I made during my trip to Havana last year and feel the essence of the island.
Video: A day in Havana: Excitement, cars, food, great weather, music and magic!
Caption: Cubans celebrating at Cabaña del Morro, during the International Book Fair.
There are things I did in Cuba that I doubt I could do anywhere else in the world. For example, going to an evening event for elderly people by myself, listening as they sing Carlos Gardel songs; or walking up and down the tiny streets of Santiago de Cuba, feeling the hotness, the African background and the music under my skin.
Caption: Cuban souvenir made of wood.
What about the day I went on an adventure with a friend on a motorcycle to Gibara, in Holguín, the city where I was born. We were stopping by each rural house we found on the road, having conversations, taking pictures, drinking coffee, we even had "instant" coconut water because the owner, a young guy, of one of the houses we dropped in, insisted we waited for him to get some coconuts from the tree. I was terrified when I saw him climbing so high. The most beautiful part is that he didn't expect anything in return.
This is how Gibara, well known for the International Film Festival of Cine Pobre, which means, "poor film", welcomed us in such gracious way.
The small city has a ruined fortress that speaks for itself. Gibara is a coastal fishing town and used to be a major trading port. Today it is populated by friendly people.
Caption: View of Old Havana.
Every single city in Cuba has its particularity but none like Havana, the Capital, where people disavow the word "bored"; where time seems to have frozen for over five decades and you can still drive around in an old car, perhaps smoking one of the finest cigars in the world, listening to music and breathing the fresh air that arises from Malecón.
Caption: Another View of Cabaña del Morro, with the Canons.
Despite the ambiguity of the country, which we all know about, the controversial old Havana, which is falling apart, has been declared a world heritage site by UNESCO. The safety of the country and at the same time its lack of freedom, and the admirable humble way of Cuban living make it all a phenomenon.
Caption: One of the main Roads in Old Havana.
Caption: Mike and I on a tour in this authentic old car.
Caption: Mike having Breakfast in our casa particular (private house) & me drinking a tasty Mojito.
Caption: Mike buying food at Agro-Mercado in Vedado.
Caption: Having some coconut water in Old Havana.
Caption: Photographer in Old Havana with and old hand-made camera.
Caption: Hotel Nacional de Cuba, Patio.
Because of my desire to know the world and to experience different realities I left my native Cuba, however, I'll always return. As Nelson Mandela said:
“There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.”
If you would like to know more about Cuba, perhaps some tips for those who want to visit it, please, let me know in a comment bellow. I'll make sure to include an answer in my next post about the island.
Caption: Mike making a heart with his hands over the background of a fantastic sunset in Havana.
Tell us one interesting story about your country, we would love to hear from you!
Tons of Love,
Today is the international women's day. A day to celebrate our strength, caring and loving nature, our passion and dedication for people we love. It's a day to remember how precious we are. This is why I decided to share this remarkable poem with you. Once you have read it, share your thoughts. What do you think Maya wanted to articulate with this powerful words. I'll love to hear your opinion. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. One of my favorite poems of all time.
“Phenomenal Woman” by Maya Angelou
Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
It’s in the reach of my arms,
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them,
They say they still can’t see.
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman
Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing,
It ought to make you proud.
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need for my care.
’Cause I’m a woman
Maya Angelou, “Phenomenal Woman” from And Still I Rise. Copyright © 1978 by Maya Angelou
Hola amigos! Pura Vida! Life is beautiful!
“Your paella, señor!”
Today I want to write about Madrid. My story of visiting this wonderful city. What travelers can find and enjoy here.
I love to travel all around Europe, especially to Italy, but Spain, amigo mío – it's an incredible country! Spain is passion, crazy love, no lyric on the streets – it's a holiday!
In half of a day, I completely fell in love with Madrid- sun, beautiful weather in the middle of December, which make you feel warm.
I am walking on the street with coat and sunglasses! And I am not alone, we are all together! The underground is spacious, trains are not full and the most important fact – people are smiling! This is life, this is freedom!
I start my trip from king’s palace.
Near King's Palace you can see Almudena Cathedral. This is the saint of Madrid. You can go inside for free or buy a ticket to visit the top of the building for 6 euros and enjoy the amazing panoramic view!
It's a delight to walk in the historical centre of Madrid – temperature +15, a little bit windy, and there is no even a cloud in the sky. Though, this is in the middle of December.
Near the king’s palace is located 'El Real' – the most stunning and well-known theatre in Madrid, which showcase contemporary plays and operas. Very interesting. Totally different than in Italy, in which country they take performing a classic piece very seriously. In Spain, they are not afraid to experiment.
For instance, I went to see the Opera, “El elixir de amor”, set in the 19th Century. I expected the performance to be based on that Century– that wasn't the case. It is Spain! It is party time! In the Spanish version, the story is happening in Ibiza, on the beach, party time! “El elixir de amor”. This is Spain!
You can buy tickets for the theatre here.
In Madrid there're lots of museums – I went to Prado. There are many pieces of art from Spanish painters – Velazquez, Goya, Tizian. The entrance cost 12 euro. If you like galleries, you will definitely enjoy it.
Near Prada museum, you can see Retiro Park – The atmosphere is very relaxing and sweet to the eyes. Here people practice sports and do activities such as running, walking, taking boats in the lake. You can lay on a bench when it's warm.
From park Retiro we go straight to railway station Atocha – it is a historical part of Madrid too! It's famous for the amazing green garden inside. It is a very beautiful place.
From Atocha, you can go to Toledo Madrid's Countryside. But I decided to go to Segovia, also part of Madrid's countryside. You can go there in 30 min by high-speed train from another railway station called Chamartin. It cost 10 euro one way.
The best time to travel by trains: 8:00, 9.30am, 10.30, 11.30, 12.30 in the morning. There is no sense to go after that time if you are planning to return in the evening. You can check here the accurate train schedule for your way back.
There is not much to do in the evening in Segovia – only to sit in a café and enjoy nature.
So we are at Segovia station.
You should take the bus for 1 euro and go to the city. It goes every 30 min. It takes 25 minutes. You should plan your trip carefully if you want to go for a day only. The bus will bring you to the 1st place of interest – Aqueduct.
Apart of Aqueduct, there are 2 more places of interest here – The Cathedral. The entrance cost 3 euro. Very beautiful from the outside, not so impressive in the inside, that's my opinion.
The landscapes here are amazing. Is easy to walk around while enjoying the view of the mountains. Life is stopping at this moment! You can feel the nature.
After returning back to Madrid from Chamartin railway station you can go 2 stations more by underground and visit the stadium of real Madrid. The entrance cost 18 euro.
Now I am going to share places which I enjoy most of all!
Corral de la Morería, the most incredible Flamenco stage! Full of energy, passion, love!
The place is extraordinary, you should book a table in advance. You have the option to book for a show with dinner or without. I booked a table for 21.00 pm and stayed for the second show at 22:55 pm. It was that good! Every show is different. The duration of each show is one hour and twenty minutes.
One more interesting place in Madrid –Botín Restaurant– the oldest restaurant in the world. The place located in the heart of the city. There are lots of people there and is very easy to find. The place is very touristic but prices are fair. My favourite dish there was 'el cochinillo asado', the baby pig from the chef, for 40 euro. This is another place you need to book in advance.
Last but not least, If you love chocolate and you will be searching for tasty breakfast in Madrid – let yourself enjoy churros with hot chocolate! It is so tasty!
And don’t forget - travelling in amazing chance to open something new. Chance to find yourself, chance to enjoy and rest! And always travel in a good company!
What is your impression of Madrid and Spain in general. Have you already visited Spain? How was your experience?
I'll love to hear your story. Leave your comment down below and inspire other readers to travel and to dream.
Post written by Mikhail
How does not visiting the beach for a year feel like when you were born on an island?
It feels antinatural. The body feels thirsty. Deep down, one knows it's not possible to give up the pleasure one was once used to.
This has been my case. As I wrote in one of my previous post, I had real difficulty adapting to the Moscow weather. I even experienced the Blue Winter (seasonal affective disorder). I found myself in a situation in which I had no option other than packing my suitcases and flying off to Costa Rica in order to recover.
After all, being healthy is very important. We can't give much if we lack energy and emotions.
“Recognizing that you are not where you want to be is a starting point to begin changing your life.”
I realized I wasn't where I wanted to be, my body desperately craved those rays of light that usually make me smile, feel alive, awake, ready to do more than just expect someone to fill the emptiness that some circumstances provide.
E voila! Now that I am in Costa Rica, I spent the weekend on one of the beaches I hadn't visited in years. It felt like heaven. Despite it not being the most beautiful beach in the country, it does have incredible sunsets! Sunsets to dream of for years after.
I want to share with you the images I captured, as I am sure words can't describe its beauty!
However, before that there's one thing I want to tell you:
If you feel unhappy that you are not in the right place; if your heart is telling you that something needs to change for you to have the energy and enthusiasm for life that you deserve, please, don't be afraid to make a change. This is your life, you are one of the lucky ones that made it to this unique adventure that we call life. Only you know how you want to live it. And how you will live it will depend on what words you tell yourself, what reality you create.
You will never be alone no matter the choices. I repeat: you will never ever be alone if you believe so. Go for your dreams! Go for what gives you energy!
Now, enjoy the images, share your thoughts in the comments bellow and thank you very much for being part of the journey.
Playa Hermosa in Puntarenas, located just 8 kilometres from Jaco, is one of the best surfing spots for pros, offering one of the most reliable surfing experiences in the world.
Unfortunately, it is not the most recommended beach for swimming due to the strong waves; however, lying under a palm tree is always a taste of heaven.
One advantage of Playa Hermosa is that it's located at a short distance from the Capital, San Jose.
Waves at Playa Hermosa reach up to 13 feet in height, which is why, the beach hosts the International Quicksilver Surfing Championships every year in August, which attracts hundreds of expert surfers from all over the world.
In terms of accommodation, many people stay at Jaco beach and travel to Playa Hermosa, since there are more and cheaper options in Jaco, starting from hotels to restaurants and shops.
As for myself, I prefer to stay far from the crowd, enjoying the white sand beach of Playa Hermosa. A perfect place to watch the sunrise & sunset, and to lay down for some meditation.
I really hope you have enjoyed the pictures!
Which Beach in Costa Rica do you want me to write about in my next post? Leave your comment on the section down below and again, thank you for being the source of inspiration. Yes! you! the one who appreciate beauty!
Tons of love,
A week ago I took a trip to La Fortuna, Arenal, in Costa Rica. I was on my challenge to improve my body and mind and I didn't take a break to relax. To give to me permission for little pleasures. I thought then, 'it's time for a trip'.
I hesitate every time I have to take a bus. I don't drive in Costa Rica, for this reason, my only option available was to take the public bus. I must add that I wanted to go on a budget, to spend a couple of days there.
What I actually wasn't expecting was the endless hairpin curves. I was lucky I was sitting on the front row of the bus.
The trip took in total 5 hours. I had to take 2 buses. From San Jose, the Capital, the bus take around 4 hours. The price is around 5 US Dollars. This bus doesn't go direct, it stops to pick up passengers during the entire trip. (Check info for public buses here)
After such a long day, all I had in mind was to go to the Springs, to immerse my body in their hot thermal waters and to relax, to renew myself.
The hotel I chose was decent enough, very centric, which made it easy for me to find out how to go to the Springs and take advantage of the rest of the time remained, since the Hot Springs Resort closes at 10:00 pm.
There is a great variety of Springs in Arenal, this time I chose Baldi Hot Spring & Spa. It was close to the hotel and it was as beautiful as other famous such as Tabacon. I jumped like a kid as soon as I saw the different springs, nature, the relaxing ambient, it was without any doubts, heaven!
The next day in the morning I enjoyed a good cappuccino at a near Cafe called 'My Coffee', (where later on I also had lunch, very tasty lunch by the way). After my coffee, I took a taxi to the Waterfall. Visiting this part of Arenal is very exciting. Again, you are in direct contact with pure nature, and you have to hike basically to arrive at the Waterfall, which is an extra activity. As usual, thanks that I am Costa Rican citizen, I didn't pay much for the entrance, foreigners pay 15$ US Dollars.
Once you arrive at the Waterfall, you are allowed to go inside the river, there is a lifeguard there, taking care of people. I myself, jumped in the water, of course, it was frozen but it was fun. It can be quite dangerous, though, as long as you follow the instrucción of the lifeguard, then you will be ok.
“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.”
― Helen Keller
By the end of the afternoon, I though I already had a lot of adventure, perhaps it was time to go back to normal life, to my projects. This is exactly what I did.
I took the bus back to San José. This time I found the trip to be too long and even more difficult because there was a big traffic jam. Costa Rican's roads are limited and there is always something going on with the traffic but hey, I didn't want to complain.
A girl next to me threw up multiple times, I was holding myself not to do it, I know it's not a beautiful image to picture. It was a hard trip. Deep down I knew it was worthy. I arrived home late at night and I slept like a baby and my mind still held the images of the gorgeous nature, the Waterfall and the Springs.
I made new friends. I changed of air, I recharged my spirit to start a new journey. I had a new story to tell. (Read here my crazy adventure to Poas Volcano in Costa Rica).
When was the last time you took a sudden decision to travel in order to change your state of mind?
I'll love to hear your story. I am sure it's very interesting and exciting.
If you will like me to provide you with any particular information about Arenal, please, feel free to ask.
Check the video I made with my phone & Leave a comment in the section below. I look forward to reading you.
Tons of love