Floating in PALOMINO – Take Me to the River, Drop Me in the Water

Floating in Palomino: The former fishermen’s village is booming! Because it has one of Colombia’s nicest beaches and a river with a major fun factor.

Floating on Rio Palomino
Floating down on the shallow waters of Rio Palomino.

So floating is what we did today. Not only in time, but on the long and winding Palomino river.

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Guide to PARACAS and the ISLAS BALLESTAS

Here comes a guide to Paracas which is actually only a short promenade along the shore. However, it’s a great gateway to natural treasures like the Islas Ballestas, Peru’s Galapagos Islands.

Every morning, the tour boats leave the village and show the visitors the undisturbed wildlife on these rocks. Sea lions, flocks of different birds, and even groups of penguins are greeting from the shores.

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Guide to FIGUEIRA da FOZ – a Charmingly Old Fashioned Seaside Resort

Let me guide you to Figueira da Foz, a charmingly old fashioned seaside resort. It is the epitome of a South European vacation destination, indeed.

Beach Tents at Figueira da Foz Portugal
As if the beach wasn’t desert-like enough, they have these makeshift shelters that remind me of Beduin tents.

For about ten years, I hadn’t been to a European beach. I was thinking that Asia or Latin America were the places to be(ach). Arriving at Figueira da Foz, about two hours south of Porto and the second stop on my rail-trip along the Portuguese west coast, I stood so corrected.

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A Day in Sophisticated ESTORIL and CASCAIS

Another very popular day trip from Lisbon is a short train ride to the very popular beaches of Estoril and Cascais. Albeit not really dreamy, especially on hot summer days, a day in these sophisticated retreats on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean can be the perfect break from Lisbon’s big city life.

Wild waters on the shore of Estoril, in the community of Cascais.
Estoril is not only this sophisticated beach retreat. It’s also prone to the forces of nature.

If you spend more time in Estoril, you should stay away from the beach and go on a day trip to Sintra. Even by public transportation, this town of palaces is less than an hour away.

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Guide to PULAU LANGKAWI – More Than Just a Beach

Guide to Pulau Langkawi, Malaysia’s northernmost island and actually geographically closer to its neighbor Thailand. Hence, it’s the same turquoise waters, white sands, swaying palms, and enchanting long tail boats as in Krabi and on the Andaman islands.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Guide to Pulau Langkawi - Pantai Cenang
Lots of space for anyone on Pulau Langkawi. 

But there are so much fewer tourists that you can actually enjoy it.

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Complete Guide to PLAYA SANTA LUCIA

(Update October 2018)

In Santa Lucia, like in Camagüey, I ended up at a Casa Particular that I’ve never booked, hence I cannot tell you the people’s name.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Cuba Playa Santa Lucia Camagüey
Secluded and very, very nice: Playa del Coco.

This happened to me a couple of times although I’ve booked every accommodation by Email weeks ahead.

I have the impression that people just take everybody in who shows up at their door step and transfer the people that were booked for that period to their relatives or neighbors. Since the legal casas are strictly controlled and all the owners are nice, this is not a problem (and you certainly don’t end up squatting on the street), but it is a peculiar practice.

Anyway, this casa was located at the entrance to Santa Lucia where there is basically nothing, and the beach is not very well maintained. But of the two days there, I spent one on Playa del Coco. Now this beach, although not very long, is synonymous for paradise; very, very beautiful. You have to drive about 10 miles along a bumpy dust road, though, so it’s not so easy to reach, but absolutely worth it!

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Cuba Playa Santa Lucia Camagüey
Oh, these colors! Ah, this water! Don’t let the big tourist companies spoil Playa de Coco!

The second day I’ve spent on the beach in front of the touristy hotel Villa Coral Club. This is an ok beach, not comparable to the secluded paradise of Playa del Coco, but still nice.

And that’s it for Santa Lucia: If you want to stay only for a couple of days on the beach, go diving and have a cocktail at one of the hotel bars, this is a good spot since you get here by Viazul from Camagüey in under two hours. It’s not suitable for an all beach vacation, but I find that an all beach vacation in an interesting, inspiring place like Cuba is a waste of time, anyway. paradisic days

A little tip: If you need to do your banking or intend to buy a scratch card for the internet, do it here. Since all the tourists (mainly Canadian) seem to stay at their all inclusive hotels, there are neither queues at the bank or ATM nor at the Etecsa office (on the main road close to the hotels).

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Cuba Playa Santa Lucia Camagüey
Until this day I’m not sure if I was supposed to stay with these people and if the other ones, where I actually had booked a room, aren’t still waiting for me, my hosts were really lovely and sweet  –  and so was the farewell-cake they made for me and the lovely couple from Chile that stayed there with me.

Do you want to read about all the other beautiful places I’ve visited in Cuba? 
Then go to the main post and take your pick!


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bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Cuba Playa Santa Lucia Camagüey


bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Cuba Playa Santa Lucia Camagüey


Complete Guide to BARACOA

(Update October 2018)

I was very glad that Baracoa was my last stop in Cuba. Although it was Cuba’s first Spanish settlement – some say in 1511, some 1512 – and even used to be the capital from 1518 to 1522, until today it’s totally secluded and cut off from the rest of the island by a mountain range with only one road.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Cuba Baracoa
View of Baracoa and the Bahia de Miel, the Honey Bay, from the Hotel El Castillo.

Wrapping me in its relaxed, homey atmosphere, Baracoa would have spoiled me for the rest of Cuba.


It is located on the westernmost tip of the island in the infamous region of Guantánamo.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Cuba Baracoa
I presume you don’t blame me for having spent every day at a couple of hours on this beach.

It’s this mix of local everyday life, some mildly touristy facilities and lots of time and space to create your own blissful vacation.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Cuba Baracoa
Lobster overlooking the ocean where the good people of Playa Maguana caught it just minutes ago.

The village itself is nice, but of course not very exciting.

But the surroundings are just exquisite: the ocean, mountains, rivers, wild beauty of nature.

Baracoa has a city beach which is not very nice, but as you keep walking east, you get to the pretty secluded Playa Blanca.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Cuba Baracoa
Beats me why they call a beach full of black rocks Playa Blanca.

But first you have to cross a bridge over a river – which is incomplete, so that there is a boat waiting at one end of the rotten bridge, picking up passengers and taking them to the other side. Quite fun – and very Cuban.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Cuba Baracoa
Necessity is the mother of invention – I assume this slogan was created in Cuba.

Although everything is nearby, due to the terrible dust roads with huge potholes it takes a while to get for instance to paradisiac Playa Maguana or the Parque Alejandro de Humboldt.

To get there, just take a jeep at the Parque Central. There are also travel agencies organizing trips – whereby ‘organizing’ isn’t the correct word. Since these agencies are government owned, the employees are not…overambitious. While in Cienfuegos my day trip with Cubanacan was just great, in Baracoa there either was nobody at the office or for some reason they were not able to book anything or….finally I organized my rides and trips with the guys hanging around the main square.

As a matter of fact, the son of my hosts in Baracoa is a biologist and offers tours to the Parque Alejandro de Humboldt. If you want to check with him, please refer to this post’s rating section where you find all the contact details I was able to get.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Cuba Baracoa
 Alejandro de Humboldt overlooking the Parque Nacional that the good people of Baracoa named after him

Serious hikers will enjoy a tour on the 575 meters high mountain El Yunque – located about seven kilometers west of Baracoa.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Cuba Baracoa
View of El Yunque…from where you have a grand view.

A very nice day trip goes first to a cocoa finca; cacao, coconuts, and bananas are the main products from this region. On the finca, you get to see how cacao grows and how it is proceded. You can also stock up on cocoa products like beans, powder, cream, and of course chocolate. Unfortunately, I must say that I got to use only the beans that I did grind together with coffee beans which give the brew a chocolaty taste. The rest rotted pretty fast, even chocolate stored in the fridge had some sort of parasites in it. But maybe it was just bad luck.

Another good option to try chocolate from Baracoa is in the town center: At the Casa del Chocolate on calle Maraví you can sample it in drinks and foods – but don’t expect a smile or ambitious service: It’s a government-owned place.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Cuba Baracoa
Cocoa fresh from the tree.

The trip continued to Río Yumurí where a boat took us to some small islands where we were floating with the current of the clear, ice cold river.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Cuba Baracoa
Floating in ice-cold waters certainly was refreshing.

At sunset, there’s no better place to be than at Hotel El Castillo way up high over Baracoa. The food is…sorry to repeating myself: it’s a government-owned restaurant…not good. But have a mojito – as always for 3 CUC – and just enjoy the view.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Cuba Baracoa
Buenas Noches, Baracoa!

It takes about four hours to get to Baracoa from Santiago, and it takes an entire day to get from Baracoa to Havana. But there are domestic flights from the Gustavo Rizo airport. However, if you have an international flight from Havana, I recommend to include a time buffer of at least 24 hours; at least. I had two nights before my flight out: I got to Havana in the morning, left my stuff at the Casa Particular, spent the day on one of Playas del Este, had a nice dinner and a last mojito and left the next morning. If for any reason the flight was canceled, I’d had more than 24 hours to make it to Havana by bus or by cab.
Actually, I’m sticking to this timing anywhere in the world – and definitely in Cuba.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Cuba Baracoa
A truly tropical journey from Aeroporto Gustavo Rizo.


This map should show you all the places worth visiting and mentioned in this post:



Do you want to read about all the other beautiful places I’ve visited in Cuba? 
Then go to the main post and take your pick!


If you choose to pin this post, please use these pictures:



bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Cuba Baracoa


bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Cuba Baracoa



ISLAND HOPPING in THAILAND: Koh Phi Phi, Koh Lanta, Koh Jum

Reportedly, there are about 1430 islands in Thailand – obviously not all of them inhabited, but sadly, many of them crowded. Charmingly, some of the Thai islands come in clusters and are therefore easily accessible when island hopping.

Andaman Sea in Thailand

The most idyllic way of island hopping is done by the traditional longtail boats.

While formerly, most of Thailand’s islands were uninhabited, more and more have been developed for tourism. However, since the most famous and popular ones are not automatically those that have the most beauty and serenity in store, with a little research – and a tip from me – you can still find your tropical paradise far from the party crowds.

 

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CUXHAVEN – walking on water

“The sun reflects strongly off the puddles, so don’t forget to put sun protection on your knee pits”, orders Ute pointing at my bare legs. I already did, but under her strict eyes, I repeatedly do as I am told. I do everything Ute marshals: The next four hours, she will guide me together with about two dozens other hikers into the tideland off the shore in Cuxhaven. My life will depend on her knowledge and sense of orientation.

We will be sort of walking on water – so I better listen to my leader.

A group of people walking on water from Cuxhaven to Neuwerk
Crossing the mudflat from Cuxhaven to the Neuwerk island. About twelve kilometers laid ahead of us.
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