EL CALAFATE & EL CHALTEN – Argentina’s Winter Wonderland

A couple of months ago, a friend of mine posted a photo on her facebook-timeline: A small boat floating on a light turquoise lake in front of a high wall of ice.

Couple taking pictures of the Perito Moreno Glacier close to El Calafate in Patagonia, Argentina
…and this is only a fraction of the gigantic glacier Perito Moreno!

What a mesmerizing sight!
It just sucked me in.
Just looking at this picture, I felt the cold crawling up my spine. I was convinced I could see my breath if I exhaled.
This place must be a mysterious place, a world of its own, governed by some beautiful, chilled ice-queen.

It was the National Park Los Glaciares in southern Patagonia.

I had to see this place for myself. As soon as possible.

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LOS ANTIGUOS – borderline serenity

Argentina is Latin America’s second-largest country and shares with Chile one of the world’s longest international borders. From North to South, those two countries snuggle on about 5,300 kilometers!

Lago Buenos Aires at sunset in Los Antiguos
The sun is tenderly setting over Lago Buenos Aires.

Unless you are flying, these dimensions can make travelling a bit challenging. Routes can be very long, trips of about 15 hours are not unusual.

An invitation to include some stops – for instance in the border-town of Los Antiguos.

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BARILOCHE – a Swiss Vacation on the Opposite Side of the Globe

Dramatically jagged mountains, covered by a picturesque layer of eternal snow overtowering fir-covered hills.
Trouts jumping in ice-cold turquoise waters of glacier lakes, rivers, and creeks.

Renata Green standing on the shore of Lago Puelo close to El Bolson
Embracing Beauty!

Not Swiss enough?
Well, the town of San Carlos de Bariloche cranks it up a notch by manufacturing some of the world’s best artisan chocolate and making you pose with a Saint Bernard dog – including the small barrel of rum around the neck; his neck, not yours.

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BUENOS AIRES – from the must-sees to the hidden gems

Buenos Aires and me – it was love at first sight. The stately baroque architecture like in Madrid, the elegant cafés – even a bit more charming than those in Paris. Old fashioned gelato parlors like in Rome. The powerful street art of Bogotá next to the picturesque decay of old Havana.

This city simply has it all.

Couple dancing Tango at the Cafe Tortoni in Buenos Aires, Argentina
Tango – that’s what Buenos Aires stands for. But it’s only a fraction of what Argentina’s capital has to offer.

The beauty and energy of Buenos Aires took me by storm – and was definitely the highlight of my first trip to Argentina.

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Rocking it in METEORA

I must admit that till the moment I began to plan my trip to Greece, to me, Meteora was the name of my favorite CD by one of my favorite bands – Linkin Park.

Holy Trinity Monastery at Meteora, Greece
The Holy Trinity Monastery is not the largest of the six remaining cloisters, however, the most picturesquely positioned one.

Since last Christmas, I know better; much better: Meteora is a rock formation in central Greece, about 350 kilometers north of Athens. It is famous for one of the largest complexes of monasteries.

So my initial rock-band reference was not that mistaken, after all: Meteora is rocking – big time!

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ATHENS for First-Timers – Beyond the Acropolis

Yes, I’ve travelled the seven seas – at least metaphorically – yet never made it to Greece. Which is ironic since basically all of Greece is located on the seaside: with 13,676 kilometers of coastline – that’s roughly the little something of 8,498 miles – and 3054 islands and islets, Poseidon definitely is boss.

Not the only amazing facts: Next to Golgota and the Capitol, the Acropolis in Athens is one of the hills on which Europe was founded. Therefore, there is no excuse for having not yet visited the cradle of our civilization.

Cat at the Acropolis in Athens, Greece

Although Greece is basically sea-girt, besides lots of water, there are many rocks. As well as cats.

So as we got nearer to Christmas and the holy days became holidays, the question of where to spend them was quickly answered: Athens – for the first time.

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The Ski Instructor of Sri Lanka

I’m often asked how it is to travel by myself. If I’m not scared. If I don’t get lonely. If I’m not afraid that the sky may fall on my head tomorrow.

A Ski Instructor by himself in a snowy landscape
No, Sri Lanka looks nothing like this. Definitely not.
(Photo: Sondrekv, Påske, detail, cropped to 2:3, , CC0 1.0)

The answer has always been no – and meeting Sri Lanka’s only ski instructor was clearly another proof that travelling solo is a great chance to come across people that open up to you in a blink of an eye.

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JAPAN for First Timers: An Adjustable Guide

Are you planning on going to Japan for the first time?
Being all excited?
Wondering what to expect?
Having a million questions?
Well, I recently came back from my first big Japan-adventure and let me tell you: It was just overwhelming; in a good way!

Geisha with phone in Kyoto
Beautifully dressed up for Japan.

As I had the chance to travel for three weeks, I know that not everybody has the opportunity to leave for so long. Therefore, based on my itinerary, I put together a travel guide. You can adjust it individually to your personal trip – for one, two, or three weeks in the Land of the Rising Sun.

日本へようこそ – Nihon e yōkoso – Welcome to Japan!

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TOKYO – introduction to 10 extraordinary neighborhoods

Tokyo – my first encounter with Japanese everyday life and culture – left a good impression and prepared me for more to come.

Students at Tokyo in Japan
A warm and fun welcome to Tokyo by these sweet ambassadors.

Tokyo – the first cut is the deepest. However, this one didn’t hurt at all. So let me introduce you to 10 extraordinary neighborhoods.

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KAWAGUCHIKO – taking a shot at Mount Fuji

I’ve heard that there are people travelling periodically to the region west of Tokyo just to take a good shot of Mount Fuji.

A shot of Mount Fuji seen from Kawaguchiko in Japan
This is the picture I wanted to shoot. I didn’t. The person credited below did. (Photo: Kpravin2, Mount Fuji Japan with Snow, Lakes and Surrounding Mountains, CC BY-SA 4.0)

This majestic, perfectly shaped volcano – that erupted lastly in 1707 – seems to be hiding behind clouds most of the time. Therefore, it can be a challenge – or a hobby – hunting the best view. Or at least a glimpse.

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