Cuba has one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. It is known for its white sands, clear blue ocean and amazing places for snorkeling. Hot weather and extremely nice resort staff makes it one of the most desired destinations in the Caribbean. Oh and almost forgot about the rum... Have a look at the pictures and judge for yourself.
It is a cold winter in Toronto this year with -30°C outside tonight. It made me want to go through my old pictures from Cuba. Looking through them makes me feel warmer.
During our stay in an all inclusive resort in Cuba we visited some nearby cities. The first trip we took was to the city of Holguin. It is the third largest city in Cuba with population of nearly 350,000. It is located in the eastern end of the country close to its northern shore. We had wondered the streets of the city trying to catch as many sights as possible. On almost every corner people greeted us and tried to start conversation. It was not that easy considering our knowledge of Spanish was as close to zero as it gets. Regardless of that we would exchange some information. They knew where my homeland, Poland is and that it used to be a communism country. They knew John Paul II, Fiat or sometimes even Walesa. They would talk to us about Che Guevara or Fidel Castro.
While looking at the bas-relief on the facade of one of the buildings, we were approached by the English teacher from the local University of Holguin. He decided to give us a short lecture about the history of the city and the country as it was depicted on the bas-relief. That was the best history lesson I ever attended. We almost missed our bus.
We next headed to Gibara, also known as the White Town (Spanish La Villa Blanca). It is a fisherman’s village located in Gibara Bay. It is the same bay in which Christopher Columbus landed in 1492. He described it as "the most beautiful land human eyes had ever seen". It is partly because of the beautiful colonial architecture reflecting almost two centuries of history. Gibara was declared a National Monument in 2002. The city is known for its friendly people and it is becoming more popular tourist destination these days.
Town of Guardalavaca was just 5 kilometres away from the resort we stayed in. It is a small tourist town known for its souvenir market. You can get there a lot of unique local crafted treasures like jewellery, various accessories, local art work, postcards, clothing or swimsuits. Guardalavaca has a beautiful public beach, where you can meet some local people chilling at the bar or just enjoying the day by the ocean.
It was my first trip to Cuba and it will always be special in my memories. I remember Cuba as a country of happy people, as if they got too much vitamin D. Beautiful beaches with palm trees and turquoise ocean are absolutely one of the best places for relaxing vacation, but what’s really beautiful about Cuba are its people. It was so refreshing and positive to see people just genuinely smiling, saying ‘hola’ or starting conversation, just to find out what brings you to their country or to share their story. Their joyful outlook was very energizing. I hope the pictures reflect at least some of that energy.
Here is a short video from our trip to Jasper, that Peter put together. Enjoy :)
Marmot Basin was our 2013 snowboarding destination. We got there in the first week of December. It was very early in the season and unfortunately we were not too lucky with the snow. The cover was still very low and only part of the mountain was open.
In addition the first three days were extremely cold, with temperatures holding steady below -25° C, reaching up to -40° C with a wind chill. But thanks to that we were among about 20 people skiing or snowboarding on the entire mountain. We had not seen a line up to a lift for entire week. It was quite nice to have the runs just to ourselves.
Last three days were a bit softer in terms of snow and temperatures. We got some fresh powder which was much needed. I didn't get to enjoy the snowboarding in it, because of my injury on the third day, but I got to enjoy the views. I love snowy days; they bring the true magic of winter.
We were lucky to see both the sunrises and the sunsets from the mountain. The base elevation of the ski area and location of the main lodge is 1,700 meters. It was a perfect spot to watch the beautiful views while enjoying my morning coffee. These must be some of my favorite moments of the trip. And I’m afraid the pictures don’t do it justice.
Town of Jasper is the heart of Jasper National Park, located in the Canadian Rockies in the Athabasca River valley. It is approximately 360 kilometres west of Edmonton. We arrived from Edmonton airport by a local shuttle bus. The trip was about 5 hours.
From the first conversation with the driver we knew we are heading to a special place. He moved to Jasper twenty some years ago and loves the place he lives in. Throughout our stay we heard similar stories over and over again. People moved to Jasper at some point of their life, from different corners of Canada, some just came for the season, but they all stayed and don't even think about moving anywhere else. What they all have in common is their love for the mountains and the great outdoors. They are all very in tune with nature and love sharing this beautiful corner of Canada with tourists. Thanks to the locals we got to see some amazing wildlife and eat the best steak ever, at the best price as well.
Because the city is surrounded by the national park there is a lot of wildlife around. It is fairly common to spot bears, coyotes, elks, moos, deer, wolves and other animals around the town or in the town itself. We were lucky to see elks on multiple occasions. They were coming to town every evening to have some of the soft and juicy grass. We saw them feeding on the soccer field, in the front yards and city lawns. They didn't really mind passing cars or people walking by as long as no one bothered them and kept their distance. It is pretty amazing to see how people and the animals live in symbiosis and do not really mind each other, maybe beside the fact that all houses were fully fenced to save the vegetable gardens.
The city has a great choice of good restaurants, bars with live local music, souvenir and specialty stores and various options for outdoor adventures. It is located in one of the most picturesque locations in Canada and is definitely worth visiting. One thing to consider is the time of the year. I can imagine it must be absolutely beautiful here anytime during spring, summer or fall. However winter, which is my favourite season, might be very chilly. We have experienced temperatures between - 26 to - 40 degrees Celsius three days in a row and all ended with frostbites on our noses. Days are also very short, especially in December, which doesn't leave much time for sightseeing (9:00 am - 4:30 pm). I would recommend coming here towards the end of the winter in February or March, when there is plenty of snow for all types of winter activities and days are longer. We are planning to come back to Jasper during spring or summer months to see the green side of this beautiful and charming place. See you soon Jasper!
Lion's Head is located on the Bruce Peninsula about 80 kilometres north of Owen Sound. This area of the Niagara Escarpment is well-known for its rock formation that from a distance resembles the profile of a lion. Some 400 million years old, these Cabot Head, Amabel, and Guelph formations of bedrock are exposed in the cliff face. Glacial outwash and eroded potholes lie on top of the escarpment, while mounds of rock debris overgrown with vegetation, lie along the bottom.
The cliffs of the Niagara Escarpment, including those at Lion's Head, support one of the most ancient and least disturbed forest ecosystems in North America. Of particular interest are the ancient white cedars found along the cliff's edge. The park is also known for the presence of both nationally and provincially rare plant species. [Description from http://www.trailsandtamaracks.ca]
We took the hiking trail starting from the parking lot at McCurdy Drive, went to Lion's Head Point and made the loop back to the parking through Moore Street side trail . It took us approximately 3.5 hours but we stopped for a lot of picture breaks. The wind was very strong that day with some rain which was extremely felt on all the lookout points. You will notice the rain drops on the lens on some pictures. The hike was very scenic. I personally love the forest on Bruce Peninsula. It is very magical. A lot of bright green moss covering stones and tree trunks, tree roots and rocks diversifying the trails and beautiful lookouts over Georgian Bay, not too mention the turquoise waters. You will be able to say from the pictures how much I enjoyed this hike :).
I love long weekends. Even though it is just one extra day off work it makes me feel like I get so much free time I have to do something useful with it. So we did. We planned a trip to Bruce Peninsula. It was special because our friend Madzia was celebrating the 30th birthday with some of her friends. We were all camping on the private land somewhere half way between Sauble Beach and Tobermory. The scenery was magical. It felt like a little private festival in beautiful cedar forest, with huge bone fires in the evenings, djs playing some great tunes all night long, and a great chilled crew to relax with. Nearby there was a very unique rock beach where we spend all days until sunsets. The beach had a moon feel to it because of the rock formation with thousands of little pores and cracks in it. The water was crystal clear and perfect for snorkeling. The rocks under water were flat and reddish in color which reminded me of a Mars surface with fish levitating above it;) It is one of these unique spots you want to keep to yourself as a secret place so it never becomes too popular and overcrowded.
We went to Algonquin Park on Thanksgiving weekend. It was a middle of fall and we decided that was the best time to explore this wild bear country of Ontario. We couldn't be more lucky with the weather. It was sunny and hot all weekend long. We were lucky we took shorts and tank tops. On first day we went for a 8 km hike by Rain Lake which is a west gate to the park.
Our one day trip to Tobermore, Ontario, probably the most amazing place in this part of Canada! It is such a beautiful corner of Bruce Peninsula that you forget you are in Canada and think its somewhere closer to Carrabeans :) We had a blast and visited some neat corners of the provincial park. We will definitely come back there, cause there is so much more to see! On below pictures you can see Little Cove and Grotto and the best long weekend crew ever :-D
Here are some pictures captured during our best snowboarding trip of the 2010/2011 season. The weather was just wonderful all week long and I couldn't resist not to take the camera on the slopes with me. Below are some captures of beautiful scenery of Mont Tremblant :)