Tag Archives: Tourism

Hacienda El Roble, home to an award-winning Geisha.

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As a coffee lover and drinker, I feel very fortunate to haven been able to learn about the coffee growing process and to have come in contact with the best coffee bean in the world.

This pleasure came courtesy of the El Roble Coffee Farm in La Mesa de Los Santos, Santander, Colombia.  El Roble can boast about having its very own Geisha, that is, the best coffee variety in the world as voted by the Grounds for Health 2013 auction in the US.  Sold under the brand Café Mesa de Los Santos,  El Roble’s coffee is not only 100% organic but it is a delicacy.

A tour around the farm will set you back US$15 and includes a guided walk through the Coffee Garden/Museum, a look at the different varieties of coffee plants, a detailed explanation of the coffee growing process and of course a tasting session of the Geisha and other exquisite varieties.

I highly recommend you add this to your travelling plans on your next visit to Santander.  Being only a 40-minute drive from the city of Bucaramanga, El Roble is the perfect chance to learn about the drink that Juan Valdez has made famous all around the world.

The land of the Guane awaits!

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Siendo un amante y fiel consumidor de café, me siento muy afortunado de haber podido conocer el proceso de cultivo de café y de haber estado en contacto con el mejor grano de café en el mundo .

Este placer fue cortesía de la Hacienda El Roble, ubicada en La Mesa de Los Santos , Santander, Colombia .  La Hacienda El Roble puede presumir de tener su propia Geisha, siendo esta la mejor variedad de café en el mundo según la votación en la subasta Grounds for Health 2013 en los Estados Unidos.  Vendido en el mercado local bajo la marca Café Mesa de Los Santos , el café de El Roble es no sólo 100 % orgánico,  sino también un verdadero manjar.

Un recorrido por la hacienda le costará US$15 o $35.000 pesos e incluye un paseo guiado por el Coffee Garden/Museo , una mirada a las diferentes variedades de plantas de café , una explicación detallada del proceso de cultivo del café y por supuesto una degustación de la Geisha y otras variedades exquisitas .

Le recomiendo agregar este tour a sus planes de viaje en su próxima visita a Santander.  Al estar a sólo 40 minutos en carro de la ciudad de Bucaramanga, El Roble es la oportunidad perfecta para aprender sobre la bebida que Juan Valdez ha hecho famosa en todo el mundo .

La tierra Guane te espera!

For more information follow the following links:

 http://www.cafemesa.com

Tokyo’s architecture, a seamless fusion of beauty, simplicity and attention for detail

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Strolling along the streets of Tokyo, it becomes clear that this city is all about the details.  The details in its food, the details of an organized transportation system, the details of its history, and the details in its architecture.  It was Tokyo’s architecture and its seamless fusion of beauty and simplicity what capture my admiration and provided the biggest joy while exploring this unforgettable city.  I enjoyed the harmony of irregular shapes, the uniformity obtained from the combination of unique designs, as well as the modernity of the construction while maintaining a calming balance with the buildings’ surroundings.  Here’s is a small sample of one of Tokyo’s greatest virtues.

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Paseando por las calles de Tokio, se hace evidente que esta ciudad tiene mucho que ver con los detalles. Los detalles en su comida, los detalles de un sistema organizado de transporte, los detalles de su historia, y los detalles en su arquitectura. Fue precisamente la arquitectura y su perfecta fusión de la belleza y la simplicidad lo que capturó mi admiración y me brindó la mayor alegría, mientras exploraba esta ciudad inolvidable. Disfruté de la armonía de las formas irregulares, la uniformidad obtenida de la combinación de diseños únicos, así como la modernidad de la construcción de sus edificios sin olvidar un equilibrio con el entorno urbano. Aquí les comparto una pequeña muestra de una de las mayores virtudes de la hermosa capital Nipona.

A bit of Paris in Tokyo at Quatre Café.

If you happen to be in the beautiful and mind blowing Tokyo, are feeling overwhelmed with the crowds, dazed from the culture shock, and in need of a delicious cup of coffee, then take a breather and head over to the welcoming  and intimate Quatre Café.  This jewel is tucked into the 4th (hence the name) floor of a not so attractive business building.  The atmosphere alone will make you want to spend the whole afternoon chatting up with someone special as you try the many delicacies on offer.  From Shibuya station, head up the Miyamasuzaka about three blocks.  On the left hand you will find Quatre…and you’ll be glad you did.

Address: 〒150-0002 東京都渋谷区渋谷1丁目8−5

For more information on Quatre Café you can visit their website:

http://ctn139.com/shopmap.html

Other links:

http://tabelog.com/tokyo/A1303/A130301/13024336/

Si de casualidad te encuentras en la hermosa y alucinante ciudad de Tokio, te sientes abrumado con las multitudes, aturdido por el choque cultural, y con el deseo de beber una buena taza de café, toma un descanso y  prueba el acogedor e íntimo Quatre Café.  Esta joya está escondida en el cuarto piso (de ahí el nombre) de un no muy atractivo edificio de negocios. El ambiente solo hará que desees  pasar toda la tarde conversando con  alguien especial en compañía de las muchas delicias que aquí se ofrecen. Desde la estación de Shibuya, sube unas tres cuadras por  el Miyamasuzaka. A mano izquierda se encuentra Quatre … y sin duda alguna haberlo encontrado te hará muy feliz.

Dirección: 〒150-0002 東京都渋谷区渋谷1丁目8−5

Para mas información puedes visitar la página web de Quatre Café:

http://ctn139.com/shopmap.html

Otros enlaces:

http://tabelog.com/tokyo/A1303/A130301/13024336/

Connecting spiritually with Japan at Ise Jingu

Welcome to the Ise Grand Shrine, also know as Jingu.  Without planning it, the visit to this very spiritual place ended up being one of the best highlights of a recent trip to Japan.

Jingu is located in the city of Ise, in Mie prefecture.  This is a massive complex of shrines spread out over 5500 hectares of land filled with the calming greenery of ancient forests.  Geku and Naiku are the two main shrines and the principal reason thousands of japanese make the pilgrimage to Ise.

I was fortunate to visit during the Shikinen Sengu (Year of Renewal) ceremony which occurs every 20 years and in which the old shrine is dismantled only to be build on an adjacent site.  It was wonderful to see the simpleness and humbleness of the japanese devotion to Shinto.  No matter what religious belief one might have, Ise Jingu is the perfect place to connect with your spiritual side while getting in touch with nature and its greatness.

If you are planning a visit to Japan please add this to your list…I guarantee you will not be disappointed.

For more information on the Shinto religion and Ise Jingu please visit http://www.isejingu.or.jp/shosai/english/index.htm

Mata ne!

Citi Biking the Big Apple

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When one thinks of visiting New York City, one of the first things that come to mind is how to get around this populous urban centre, and how to do it in the most practical way so as to enjoy all the excitement the Big Apple is famous for.  One option is to ride the subway.  It is fast, affordable, convenient, and can get you pretty much anywhere worth seeing.  However, being underground prevents you from experiencing the hassle and bustle of the city.  Another option is to walk around the eclectic and exhilarating neighbourhoods often showcased in many hollywood films.  Walking around town you can people-watch, window-shop until you drop, and take as long as you feel it is necessary to discover its charm.  Although this is one of the most popular ways to venture around NYC, it is a bit time consuming and not very practical if you are in town for just a few days.

A third option which until recently seemed to be reserved for locals (…or daredevils), is biking.  At first, it might feel like a very risky proposition for a city like New York, but if you can get your head around biking along side hectic traffic, having the bike lane blocked by every imaginable obstacle (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bzE-IMaegzQ), or sweating it up on your vacation, this is one of the most thrilling experiences that NYC has to offer and a very fun way to get around while basking in on the endless beauty. Biking around the wide streets of New York you will enjoy gazing at the historic buildings, being surrounded by the collage of skyscrapers, coming up close to the diversity of the people and the neighbourhoods.   While on a bike, you will be able to hop on and off easily, get lost in Central Park, and visit the Union Square farmers’ market along the way. Riding down the iconic 5th avenue or over the cobblestone streets, you will feel part of the city and its magic.

If you are sold on the idea, you should consider renting a “Citi Bike”…

Citi Bike is a bike sharing system that provides an easy and affordable option to get around the city.  Renting a Citi Bike for 24hrs will set you back $9.95 plus tax.  This fee includes an unlimited amount of 30-minute trips on a rugged and easy-to-use blue bike.  If you keep your rides within the time limit you will not pay a penny more, but if you take longer, overtime charges will apply.  You can pick-up and drop-off the Citi Bike at any of the 330 locations around the city;  definitely a very convenient service.

So next time you are in the Big Apple, why not let your wild side take over?  Hop on a bike and experience NYC like the locals do.  Many thrills await so enjoy…and share your experience, let me know what you think about biking in NYC.

For more information on the Citi Bike system you can visit  http://citibikenyc.com/how-it-works

Market Saturdays

 

Saturday has arrived again and with it a new chance to visit one of my new favourite places, the farmer’s market!  Although I have been visiting these markets for a while,  only until recently have I started to fully appreciate the beauty of the community gathering, the freshness of the produce, and the excitement of indulging on a new treat never tasted before.  I recall how much of a hassle it was, as a kid in Colombia, having to stop playing with friends to accompany my grandmother to the market…fortunately I have grown up!

Today I would like to share with you a small collection of photos from some of the recent farmer’s market that have caught my attention:  The “Mercado Municipao” in Sao Paulo, Brazil, with its electric atmosphere and filled with perfectly displayed product.  The Farmer’s Market at Union Square, being an oasis of freshness in the middle of bustling Manhattan.  And, the more quaint and historic St. Jacob’s Farmer’s Market, with the special touch of the mennonite tradition.

More markets to come…stay tuned!

White Holiday

 

So after 15 years of living in Canada, of which many holidays have been spend down in South America, I have finally come to the realization that winter  in Canada is definitely better with a good dose of snow and winter sports.  Although I have skied in the past, it took a 6 hour drive to Mont Tremblant, enduring -25C degree temperatures, a couple of bruised ankles, and all the powder snow I had dreamed of, to appreciate the beauty of skiing and getting away from it all “‘à la Canadien”.

Here are some photos of my recent trip to Mont Tremblant.  This was my first visit to the Laurentians in Québec and I know it will not be the last.  From the scenery and the great skiing, to the great atmosphere at the mountain and the friendly people, Mont Tremblant is by far my best experience of a white holiday in Canada.  Set your eye on this destination and go visit, you won’t regret it.

A la prochaine!

Después de 15 años de vivir en Canadá, durante los cuales la mayoría de las vacaciones de fin de año incluyeron calor, brisa y mar en Suramérica, finalmente llego a la conclusión de que el invierno en Canadá es muchísimo mejor con una buena dosis de nieve y deportes de invierno.  Aunque he esquiado en el pasado, fueron necesarias 6 horas de viaje por carretera hasta Mont Tremblant (Québec), un par de noches de  -25 grados centígrados, un par de contusiones en los tobillos, y toda la nieve polvo con la que he soñado, para poder apreciar la belleza de esquiar y escaparse de la rutina al estilo canadiense.

Aquí les comparto algunas de las fotos de mi más reciente viaje a Mont Tremblant, Québec.  Esta fue mi primera visita y seguro no será la última.  Desde los paisajes y una esquiada inolvidable, hasta el buen ambiente y la amabilidad de la gente, Mont Tremblant es sin duda alguna la mejor experiencia que he tenido de una navidad blanca en Canadá.  Que esperan para visitarla?

Hasta la próxima!