At 2100 meters above sea level, and one hour from the capital city of the state of Chiapas, lies San Cristobal de las Casas. This iconic Mexican city is seated at the center of an ancestral Mayan region hence why there is a high density of the Tzotzil and Tzeltal peoples. The city is even still known by its indigenous Tzotzil name, Jovel.
San Cristóbal de las Casas was first established as a settlement in 1528 by the Spanish conquistador Diego de Mazariegos, who named it Villarreal de Chiapa. The city still preserves its stunning and unique colonial architecture, narrow cobblestone streets and roofs covered in red clay tiles, pedestrian only streets, bright and colourful houses, and its singular 16th century baroque cathedral which overlooks the main square in the centre of town. This cathedral has an unique façade, broad mishmash of architectural styles, and has become a symbol of this city and the state of Chiapas. Anyone who has grown up in this corner of the world will know they are home at this the yellow and red sight.
Making road trips manageable require making some stops to stretch the legs. In this side of the world a variety of flavours for snacks is also important… as snacks are non-negotiable.
Half way between Jervis Bay and Mollymook , a favourite holiday destination attracts families, fans of watersports and fishermen and women alike for the varied activities in the small area: great swimming, fishing, prawning, worming, wildlife and water sports. A beautiful area in the Shoalhaven region that has been described as “an aquatic playground, with crystal clear waters”.
Lake Conjola stretches about six kilometres back from the tidal entrance at Cunjorong Point, on the South Coast of NSW, just north of Ulladulla. The lake is home for many fish species that originally attracted fishermen. Amongst the fish that once upon a time could be caught are bream, whiting, tailor, flathead, black fish, leatherjackets and jewfish. Nowadays there are fishing platforms and small jettys that run along the park’s lake-side. Ideal for weekend tourists and opportunist cormorants.
Bendalong is the ideal south coast seaside weekend village. Just a few hours drive south from Sydney, Boat Harbour Beach, is one of several beaches in Bendalong. This is an area with awesome beaches and whilst many little Aussie coastal villages can boast a great beach or maybe two, Bendalong has seven of them.
“Boat Harbour” is a 320 m long beach with waves averaging 0.5 m right next to Washerwomans Beach. The beach faces north and is pretty sheltered meaning it’s a good place to stand-up paddle board, kayak, swim or snorkel.
Additionally, Boat Harbour beach boasts a boat ramp located toward the eastern end. Thanks to this ramp, the beach has become famous for the large local sting rays that come in close to shore to feed on the scraps thrown to them by the fishermen. You can stand in the shore and let the rays come near to gently pat them or venture for a snorkel with these magnificent creatures on a weekend away.
Southwest of the Crozon Peninsula, Pointe de Pen-Hir is one of the most magnificent natural sites in the Brittany region with its cliffs 70 meters high that flow into the sea. Part of the natural park d’Armorique, the site has a series of offshore rock stacks called Tas de Pois (Heaps of Peas), plenty of short walks and small beaches.
These sandstone walls, exposed to the adversity of the sea, are the ideal place for climbing enthusiasts. But the alpinists will have to be careful if they don’t want to be helped by the local emergency authorities.
The Château des ducs de Bretagne could well be the inspiration for most fairy tales: a turreted and moated castle in the city centre of Nantes, with buildings dating from the 15th and 17th centuries. It was built by the last Duke of an independent Brittany, with the idea of serving a dual purpose: a military fortress to act as a defence against the King, and the principal living quarters of the ducal court.
The castle was used as the living quarters of the kings of France when they visited Brittany, later military barracks, an armory, a prison and nowadays a museum.
You can explore the courtyard and walk the walls for free looking out on the cathedral, the old town and where the Loire flows.
As part of that entry price is a random experience. Around the castle a 50 metres (164 ft.) steel slide wraps around the contours of the outer wall naturally complementing the hewn stones of the fortification wall. The slide is hanging above the Castle’s moat, and it never touches the castle but it does provide a different viewpoint. Giving all its visitors the unique opportunity for an adrenaline rush and a random experience.
A perfect day trip to escape the busy city of Barcelona or to walk along ancient walls, to lose oneself in a maze of narrow alleyways, stairs, small corners and courtyards or just to see Braavos, from the famous Game of Thrones, is Girona. Or as it was originally known to the romans, “Gerunda”. Northeast Catalunya and only about 100km from Barcelona sits this ancient medieval city which was built during the Roman period in the 1st century BC. The city once served as a meeting point for trade during the height of Jewish rule in medieval times which explains its Jewish importance and abundance. All around Girona, the famous wall or “Passeig de la Muralla” offers a great walk and way to see the city and surroundings.
After the walls take time to find the quiet streets and sample some of the local snacks and delicacies.
Carballiño (literally meaning the little oak), a little town in Galicia has celebrated, since 1969, on the second Sunday of August, “La Festa do Pulpo”. This is a culinary party with an estimate of 80 to 100 thousand guests who consume around 50 thousand kilos of “pulpo a la gallega” during the event.
It is said that the festival started as the fishermen of the area were obliged to pay a tax in produce to the frays. Amongst their catch there was the octopus, plentiful in Pontevedra. With the quantities they were receiving, the frays had to commercialise it and the festival began.
The “polbeiras” or “pulperas” (women who cook the octopus) cook this animal in copper pots. The octopus has to be ‘scared’ and is introduced into boiling water for a few seconds and taken out again a few times. This technique helps the octopus keep its skin once boiled for longer amounts of time. After its boiled, the octopus is cut in slices and served with olive oil and cayenne pepper sprinkled in the top. Perfect to pair with a local brew or wine.
Once a fruitful town that housed more than a thousand people, the Malta knights amongst them, now it struggles to reach one hundred. Pazos de Arenteiro is a town that almost disappeared near the rivers of Arenteiro and Avia. A disease struck the grapes of the region which declined the (fruitful) wine making business and took almost every vine to its death. But now, a passionate galician has the dream of restoring this little town to its former grandeur attracting tourists and locals to stay or give them a homemade meal as good as any high end restaurant in a big city.
This tiny village has plenty to offer: a XVI century church you can visit and tracks to stretch the legs. One of the walks will take you through an abandoned village, a medieval bridge and the vegetation of the area.
The Sitges county has around 17 beaches. All small but with their own character and personality. Platja del Garraf is only 380 meters long and around 28 meters wide but it has 33 little green and white houses that were once built for the workers who built the train tracks and fishermen. Only 30 kms south of Barcelona, this beach is a perfect trip for a picnic and a swim.