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  • Photo: Gallery Peru

    A Foodie’s Photo Gallery Peru

    Professional food photographer Matt Armendariz recently visited Peru with fellow foodies Gaby Dalkin and Adam Pearson. While Matt certainly captured the mouth-watering beauty of Peruvian cuisine, he didn’t limit his subjects to what was on the plate. Matt also snapped a cornucopia of Peruvian ingredients, where they’re grown and the breath-taking Peruvian landscape. We hope you enjoy Matt’s work, it’s clear he does.

  • Exploring an Outdoor Art Gallery in Buenos Aires

    Living in Buenos Aires is like living in an open-air art gallery where the exhibitions don’t change – they simply accumulate, slowly crowding the city walls with larger-than-life murals and bold stencils that seem to appear overnight. On a recent tour with Buenos Aires Street Art, our guide, Sophia, explains the phenomenon in the simplest terms: “It’s really easy to paint here,” she says. “It’s really easy to get a wall.”

  • Photo: Spectacularly original rooftop show that uses the towering walls in Buenos Aires buildings

    A Breathtaking Rooftop Show in Buenos Aires

    If there’s one thing you shouldn’t miss in Buenos Aires right now, it’s this. Al Ver Verás / Música Para Mirar (Music to Watch) is a spectacularly original rooftop show that uses the towering walls in Buenos Aires buildings as blank canvases on which to project images and animation set to live music performances and DJ-spun tracks. Hard to picture? That’s what I thought, too. But it’s magical: you just have to see it for yourself.

  • Photo: Embratur

    Charming Cobblestones: Brazil’s Sleepiest Colonial Towns

    The Portuguese left an indelible mark on Brazil when they finally got out of town in 1822. There are number of charming colonial towns built by the Portuguese throughout the country. These sleepy towns and villages, flush with whitewashed architecture accented by a kaleidoscopic array of flash and color, are the perfect spots to kickback with nothing to do but wander the stuck-in-time cobblestoned streets. No photographic skills necessary, these gems do all the work for you, around each and every turn a new postcard Brazilian moment.

    If you visit any of these sleepy Kodak-moment towns, you can impress the locals with your knowledge of the local vernacular. The word for “cobblestones” is one of the most entertaining words in Portuguese: Paralelepípedos.

    Good luck with that!

  • Photo: Terra Hall

    Channelling Andy Warhol: Lima “Pops” with Two Temporary Modern Art Exhibits

    Walk down any street in Peru’s densely populated capital and you’re sure to become enveloped in this city of contrasts. Modern skyscrapers neighbour colonial mansions with Spanish tile roofs. Restaurants serving ancient Peruvian recipes like anticuchos also dish up new fusion-style cuisine. And museums abound, some with artifacts from another era, others with contemporary art from some of the 20th century’s most influential photographers.

    Such examples of this can be found in Barranco’s two art museums where haute couture fashion photographers’ work is currently on display in both permanent and temporary exhibitions. 

  • Sunday Funday in Liberdade

    São Paulo’s Liberdade neighborhood is the epicenter of what is said to be the largest Japanese population outside Japan. Brazil is home to an estimated 1.5 million Japanese-Brazilians, many of them living right here in this bustling neighborhood 1km south of Centro, with a tad bit of Chinese and Korean sprinkled in for good measure (some of the city’s best Chinese restaurants are here and South Korea’s Melona honeydew melon-flavored popsicles are wildly popular in the streets as well).

  • Buenos Aires From Above: Galería Güemes

    I’ve been trying to get up to the top floor of Galería Güemes for some time now. That’s because the century-old building, located on Florida street in downtown Buenos Aires, offers the chance to explore three of my personal interests: wandering around inside glamorous art nouveau landmarks, staring down at cityscapes from unusual viewpoints, and creeping around the one-time stomping grounds of great writers.

  • What to do in January: Buenos Aires

    Lots of travelers plan trips to Argentina in January – a few weeks that happen to be the hottest (and quietest) of the year in Buenos Aires. But there are benefits to spending a few days in the capital city this month: since many locals are away on vacation, there’s lighter traffic and shorter wait times at popular restaurants. Here, a few ideas of where to go and what to do in January to take advantage of an emptier-than-usual city.

  • Terra’s Top Travel Resolutions for 2015

    January — it’s a month of new beginnings, a time when people vow to better their lifestyles, kick a bad habit to the curb and become more productive. The problem with these New Year’s resolutions is that they rarely stick. Busy lives get in the way or people discover that their goals were a bit too lofty. Whatever the reason, many people fail at resolving their resolutions.

    That’s why this year, I vowed to make my resolution one I can look forward to beforehand, enjoy while I’m actually doing it, and look back on with fond memories. My resolution is to see more of Peru and I am inviting you, dear Only in South America readers, to join me.

  • Photo: By Carla Peirano, in Magazine Photos by: Stefan Schmeling Young, sophisticated and laid-back. That’s Vila Madalena, São Paulo’s hippest neighborhood, a vibrant place where fashion, art and design co-exist with graffiti and a stylish crowd. It’s a sunny Saturday afternoon in winter here in São Paulo, Brazil. I can observe everything and everyone from the strategically located Amüse Food Store, on the corner of Girassol and Aspicuelta. While I wait for my iced tea, I observe the passers-by, most of them women united by their fashion sense and their desire to shop. You sense a certain self-satisfaction in the way they walk. Unlike other São Paulo neighborhoods, this neighborhood in the western part of the city is fashionably chic, but in an unpretentious way. Folks around here obviously pay attention to their look, but there’s a personal stamp in the way they dress. It’s quite different from what you see on Rua Oscar Freire, for instance, where the fashion parade is legendary and most pedestrians look like they stepped straight out of a fashion magazine and into this endless metropolis. It’s no accident that style lovers flock to the winding streets of Vila Madalena. This bohemian neighborhood began its transformation in the 1970s, when young students of art and fashion began to rent and share large houses. Over time, these homes were converted into art galleries, studios and casual restaurants, a chaotic and spontaneous process that nurtured the spirit so evident in the neighborhood today: bohemian, vibrant and full of color. Welcome to Vila Madalena A style all its own. That’s what you’ll find on the streets of Vila Madalena. It’s the perfect place for folks who want to be seen as well as those who would rather people watch, taking in trends, styles and bold statements in clothing and colors. When I stroll the streets here, I am constantly looking around, admiring these well-turned-out fashionistas. I’m struck by the way they’ve managed to achieve such a casually sophisticated look. It seems spontaneous, unplanned and, as result, totally authentic. As I sip on my iced tea, I talk with some girls who are next to me. They tell me they’ve come on a shopping tour of the local stores. They share some addresses and recommendations that I try to memorize as though they were secret formulas. They tell me that my best bet is to start my tour on the nearby street of Girassol. They leave with complicit smiles, as though they’ve helped out someone in dire need. I’ve finished my tea, so there’s nothing left for me to do but immerse myself in Vila Madalena. I walk down Girassol, and before long, I come across Uma, a surprisingly sophisticated store, with a collection dominated by clear and simple lines. Suddenly, I feel like I’m shopping in Tokyo, not São Paulo. I keep walking until I reach the store of Juliana Bicudo, a local shoemaker who designs handmade footwear. Her eponymous shop is both elegant and colorful, and the collection is divine. I adore these shoes because they can be worn to formal and informal events alike, depending on the rest of your outfit. She even has a wedding line with custom designs to accommodate the style of each bride. Crossing the street, I encounter the metallic blue suede and classic lines offered by Luiza Perea, another gifted shoe designer. This shop looks more like a living room. It’s a real delight. I’m barely through the door before they invite me to sit down and have something to drink. The designs are terrific. You can really see the dedication and care in the creations. The two women who make the shoes are usually in the store, so any questions you have can be answered by the shoemakers themselves.   Unlike other São Paulo neighborhoods, Vila Madalena is all about fashion but in an unpretentious way. Peixaria, a stylish but authentic restaurant, offers a taste of the beach in the middle 
of the city. Style on the Sand My tour continues. I soon come to La Cervecería, where the fun atmosphere, conversation and clinking of beer mugs is impossible to resist. When I’ve finished my chope (draft beer), I leave on the heels of two attractive women. They tell their friend who’s parking her car that they’ll meet her at Mocambo. I wonder what kind of clothing they sell there. As my imagination is busy at work, I arrive at a tiny space dedicated to… tattoos? I’m a little disconcerted. All of a sudden, I’m surrounded by rough-looking types straight out of a motorcycle magazine. The owners tell me they only do custom tattoos, one-of-a-kind designs for each client. Maybe that’s why the cool girls who led me here are so excited about a place that seems tailor-made for tough guys. In the small, dark space, they give me some more tips to continue my tour. One of their more interesting suggestions is Chapéu, a heavenly bathing-suit shop. I’m told it’s one of the most popular stores of its kind in São Paulo. And in a country where beach life is an institution, that really says something. The collection of bathing suits is varied and elegant. The designs and styles seem intended for a social event rather than the beach. I envy the women who can pull them off, but I’m afraid that on other Latin American beaches, they’d be more cause for gawking than admiration. I’m fairly certain that you have to be Brazilian – and be in Brazil – to wear them. I leave Chapéu and head down Rua Mourato Coelho. I spot the window of the shop Tonus, and I’m transfixed. I decide to go in. The clerks explain the ideas behind the designs. The back part of the shop features the workshop where designer Sergio Tonus comes up with his creations. Tonus himself explains the production process to me. His designs from the shop’s nine years of existence are carefully displayed on hangers.   The many worlds of Vila Madalena: 
tattoos at Mocambo and rockabilly style 
at Barberia 9 de Julho. With no set destination, I wander through Vila Madalena. Eventually, I come to Barberia 9 de Julho, a barbershop with the air of a rockabilly club. The parking spaces outside are taken up entirely by motorcycles. There’s also a dog sporting a bandana, patiently waiting for his owner. I continue along with no end in mind, accompanied by the impressive graffiti that adorns the walls, shops selling Japanese products, ceramics studios, art galleries and a few eateries. I’m hungry, but all the clothing and design stores keep distracting me. One highlight is the shop owned by Fernanda Yamamoto, who specializes in creations made with patterned fabrics. Best of all, there’s an outlet section with clothing from past seasons at reasonable prices. Another great place is Trash Chic, a mix between a fashion museum and a Buddhist temple. They even have a small altar in honor of Coco Chanel. The collection includes pieces by Valentino, Nina Ricci, Prada and Chanel. It’s the finest vintage store I’ve seen in my life. Finally, I end up at Peixaria. This beach-inspired restaurant is full of grilled seafood, endless caipirinhas and infectiously cheerful people. It turns out to be an excellent choice and a great way to end my adventures in Vila Madalena. in    

    A Fashionista in São Paulo

    By Carla Peirano, in Magazine
    Photos by: Stefan Schmeling

    Young, sophisticated and laid-back. That’s Vila Madalena, São Paulo’s hippest neighborhood, a vibrant place where fashion, art and design co-exist with graffiti and a stylish crowd.

  • Cartagena Re-writes Itself

    By Carlos Serrano, in Magazine
    Photos by: Alvaro Delgado

    With a cool, new vibe that has earned it the nickname “JetSetManí,” this neighborhood represents the best and most cosmopolitan aspects of the city where Gabriel García Márquez wrote some of his most memorable stories.

  • Buenos Aires for Francophiles

    Paris is almost seven thousand miles away from Buenos Aires. But French cultural roots run surprisingly deep in Argentina. That’s because, after Spanish and Italians, French make up the third largest ancestral group in the country: according to the official records, around 261,000 French people immigrated to Argentina between 1857 and 1946. (One of the most notable? A two-year-old boy named Charles Gardes, who left France with his mother in 1893 – later known as Carlos Gardel, the greatest tango legend of all time.)

  • Photo: Linda Paul

    The Boleto Turístico: Everything You Need to Know About Peru’s Tourist Ticket

    Even before Peru became a nation, Cusco was an important city. Five centuries ago, it was the heart of the Incas. During its prime, the Incas used Cusco as the capital of their ever-growing empire and actually viewed it as more important than Machu Picchu. It is where the Spanish established their power which lead to the decline in the Inca empire and the rise of Spanish control over Peru. Nowadays, Cusco is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a place that nearly two million visitors embark on each year.

    For these reasons Cusco, and the surrounding area known as el Valle Sagrado, contain a wealth of history, museums and archaeological sites. 

  • Valledupar: The Birthplace of Vallenato

    Colombia is famously a nation of distinct regions – and perhaps even more famously a nation of strong musical tradition. Every part of the country has given rise to or adopted its own distinct musical style, from cumbia on the Caribbean coast to the piping Andean melodies in the southwest. But perhaps no place takes its musical birthright as seriously as the northern city of Valledupar, the proclaimed cradle of the folk style known as vallenato.

    If you go to Valledupar looking for something other than vallenato, you may run out of activities fairly quickly, but there’s a certain charm to taking a long lunch – and then maybe a nap to avoid the brutal midday heat – and relaxing in the central plaza with a cup of icy pineapple juice. 

  • Street Art is Alive and Well in Bogotá

    Bogotá is quickly becoming a major player on the street art scene, drawing international artists as well as creating plenty of homegrown talent. The central Candelaria neighborhood and the major thoroughfare of Calle 26, as well as many other neighborhoods, are living canvases, constantly evolving and adding new works.

    Visitors and locals alike have long marveled at the innovative works coming out of the Colombian capital, and the international community is finally starting to take notice as well, with Bogotá popping up on lists of the world’s best cities for street art. With a long history, plenty of cause for social commentary and ever more buildings springing up across the city, local artists are unlikely to run out of inspiration – or canvas – anytime soon!

    Here are some of the best places to see Bogotá’s best free art, and a few of the big-name artists to look out for. Who knows – one of them could be the next Banksy!

  • Day Trips from La Serena

    With long white sand beaches, and a tranquil vibe throughout most of the year, La Serena is one of Northern Chile’s most popular beach vacation spots. For Santiaguinos and foreigners alike, the city’s location on a long beach with swimmable warm waters makes it ideal for a couple of days’ stop on a longer trip, or as a destination unto itself.

    Once visitors have seen the sights in town, which include the beach, the local market and the lighthouse, many choose to head out of town to do some exploration. In nearby Coquimbo are both the Cruz del Tercer Milenio, a monument in the form of a giant cross (visible from La Serena, and you can go inside for great views over the bay) and the mosque. There is also a very lively fish market. But there’s no reason to limit oneself to Coquimbo, either. The area is full of day trip possibilities, some of which are detailed below, so when you find yourself traveling through Chile, check them out.

  • A Day North of the Mapocho River in Santiago, Chile

    Tourists visiting Santiago usually divide their time among uptown, downtown and out of town, where out of town includes the wine country, the coast, the mountains, or a combination of all three. But there’s another way to think of the city, which is to use the Mapocho River—which runs down from Cajón de Maipo through the city—as a dividing line between north and south.

  • Photo: Embratur

    Weekend Getaway: Salvador

    Easily Brazil’s richest capital for history and culture, Salvador is the big and bountiful jewel of Bahia, arguably Brazil’s most vivid and beautiful state. The city’s history, steeped heavily in Afro-Brazilian culture, manifests itself in many ways, namely in the colorful colonial center of Pelourinho and, most importantly (in my humble opinion, anyway!), the food, but also in the religion (Candomblé is strongest here), the sport (this capoeira central) and the deeply African-influenced habits, customs and appearances of the population. A weekend in Salvador is a journey through all that makes up the diverse recipe called Brazil in one immensely cinematic city. And just to spice things up a bit, everything here is hot – the people, the weather and the food.

  • World Tourism Day: 9 Reasons to Visit Peru Now

    People around the world are in the midst of celebrating my favorite pastime and ultimate passion – travel. Commemorated each year on Sept. 27, the United Nations created World Tourism Day back in 1980 as a way of recognizing the positive contributions travel makes to local economies, cultural preservation, environmental protection and personal growth and enrichment.

    Our planet is a big place, full of majestic destinations to discover. While there are a heap of world wonders to uncover, this amazing Andean nation should be toward the top of your list. Here are the nine reasons you should visit Peru now!

  • First-Time Collecting: Where to Buy Art in Buenos Aires

    Buying art is intimidating. But there’s no better place to get started than the Argentinean capital. Buenos Aires is a breeding ground for creative types, and the city imposes few restrictions about where and how art can be displayed – which is why the quickly developing street art scene is one of the most exciting in Latin America.

    Where to pick up a piece for your own collection? If money’s no object, of course, you can just go straight to the long-established art galleries of Retiro and Recoleta. But if you’re a first-time buyer, check out these modern galleries and art events with a youthful edge – offering excellent value on contemporary and small-format works that will likely fit right into your suitcase.

  • Photo: Terra Hall

    Andean Weavers: The Thread that Ties Peru’s Past to the Present

    While Cusco has become a cosmopolitan hub – one that overflows with jet setting travelers, luxe hotels and restaurants owned by renowned chefs – the mountainside that surrounds the former Inca capital tells a completely different story. There, life has changed very little during the last several centuries. Villagers still live off of the land, growing and raising nearly everything they eat. And, men and women still shepherd their sheep, llama and alpaca through verdant fields, cook meals over an open flame and participate in a tradition as old as the civilizations that make up Peru – Andean weaving.

  • Spending a Day in Viña del Mar

    Viña del Mar is Santiago’s weekend and summer getaway, a coastal city with a long beach walk, museums, a castle, a large park, interesting architecture, a famous casino and of course, wide expanses of the Pacific Ocean to look at from many points of the city.

    Below are some places and activities to interest visitors of all ages to this sunny city that’s just 15 minutes from the UNESCO-listed Valparaíso, and about an hour and a half from Santiago.

  • Photo: Jinx!

    The “Gabo Trail”: García Márquez’s Colombia

    When Nobel-prize-winning author Gabriel García Márquez passed away on April 17, it felt like Colombia as a whole went into mourning. Though Gabo, as he was affectionately known, had lived in Mexico City for years prior to his death, Colombians still felt a strong connection to the grandfather of magical realism. He was a beloved figure among Colombians of all ages – upon his death, Colombian President Santos described him as “the greatest Colombian who ever lived.”

  • Off the Street and into the Gallery

    In a city known for its vibrant, rapidly evolving urban art scene – picture garage doors enlivened with splashy color, tall buildings covered in dreamy murals, brick walls tattooed with politically charged stencils – graffiti is no longer relegated the outdoors. The street art enthusiasts behind Graffitimundo have opened UNION, a new gallery and project space dedicated to exhibiting the work of prominent urban artists in Buenos Aires and beyond.

  • Tigua Art: Artist Julio Toaquiza

    You’ll find Tigua Art everywhere in Ecuador. It’s a staple of artisanal markets, craft stores and souvenir shops. But, what is Tigua? The word could come to mean a style of quintessentially Ecuadorian naïve painting, at least that is what most people equate it to today: strikingly colorful landscapes with hills and mountains, rural farmland, patchwork valleys, straw huts, maize fields, an occasional snow-peak (namely Cotopaxi) and Andean regulars such as the Condor, the Llama, the Masked Dancer, the Potato Picker, the sheep, the poncho-clad farmers …

  • Bogotá Day Trips: Zipaquirá

    It’s nearly impossible to spend more than a day in Bogotá without being peer-pressured by locals to make the trek out to the nearby town of Zipaquirá. The main attraction in town is the Salt Cathedral, a somewhat peculiar, religiously-inclined sort of museum inside a massive salt mine – however, the city is also a lovely example of a typical central Andean village, and there’s plenty to see in addition to walking through the Stations of the Cross in an underground salt mine.

  • A Hidden Treasure: Old Cathedral in Cuenca

    Parque Calderón, Cuenca’s main square, is dominated by the view of spectacular Catedral de la Inmaculada, also known as Catedral Nueva (meaning New Cathedral), the enormous monument that impressed Pope John Paul II to the point of déjà vu. “I feel like I’m in Rome,” he apparently told a crowd of thousands when standing in front of it for the first (and only) time in his life. This emblematic brick-laid ‘beast’ was meant to replace the smaller, much less impressive original temple, today commonly known as the Old Cathedral (Catedral Vieja), found across the park on Calle Benigno Malo.

  • A block in My Neighborhood: Borges in Buenos Aires

    ‘And the city, now,’ wrote Jorge Luis Borges of Buenos Aires, ‘is like a map of my humiliations and failures.’ Argentina’s foremost literary hero had a complicated relationship to his hometown. The writer was, as his poetry suggests, at turns enchanted and discouraged – seduced and repelled – by the city where he spent his life.

    I find myself thinking about those complexities some days as I run to the subway or walk to the market to buy milk – walking along the Palermo street where Borges used to live as a boy, a street that has since been named after him.

  • Black Clay Pottery

    The Encalada family house, in the neighborhood of Convención del 45, has become one of my favorite off-the-beaten-track recommendations in Cuenca. The picturesque one-story house at Mariscal Lamar 24-90 y Paredes, with its very own Colonial-style tiled roof and adobe walls to fit, is the humble abode of one-and-only ‘black clay’ pottery, an Encalada-family signature product that I, for one, believe hasn’t enjoyed the spotlight time it deserves on the Ecuadorian arts-and-crafts stage.

  • Quito: What Makes a World Wonder

    Quito was the first city in the world, together with Krakow (Poland), to be recognized as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site in 1978. It is, of course, a little like calling Quito a ‘wonder city’ – coincidentally, we might add, Quito has also been considered a finalist in the 7 Wonder Cities of the World shortlist – and attests to the fact that its uniqueness makes it one of the most special urban centers on our planet. Here are only some of the reasons:

  • Forget Florida, Try Cuenca

    Everyone seems to love the year-round spring-like-weather of the southern Ecuadorian Andes… and when I mean everyone, I mean everyone. And to such a degree, that a good number will leave their first and second-world hometowns behind – their friends, their family, their creature comforts, their ability to communicate with everyone – to move there!

  • Photo: Terra Hall

    Shopping for Lima’s Treasures from the Past

    A knickknack for grandma; a t-shirt for dad; a handful of key chains for the coworkers; and of course a bounty for yourself. Shopping is one of many vacation pastimes, but when in Lima there’s no reasoan to limit it solely to souvenir shops or the Inka Market. Sometimes, venturing beyond the obvious places can mean finding a unique treasure that has more meaning and a better back story than Peruvian-themed shot glasses or woven llama magnets.

  • San Francisco Church in Quito

    One Friar Jodoco Ricke, a Flemish priest who arrived in the city shortly after its foundation, would eventually begin construction of San Francisco Church in the mid-1500s. Together with another Flemish priest, Friar Pedro Gosseal, a painter, they would create the San Andrés art school for native artisans. The school would be essential to the development of what is known today as the Quito School (Escuela Quiteña), one of the most prestigious religious colonial art legacies in the Americas.

  • Photo: EMBRATUR

    Navigating Brasília: How to Tackle Brazil’s Befuddling Capital

    Architects notwithstanding, Brazilians don’t tend to be too impressed with their space-age capital, carved out of nowhere in the 1950s by then-President Jucelino Kubitschek, architect Oscar Niemeyer, urban planner Lucio Costa and landscape architect Burle Marx.

    Most think it’s boring (it’s not), too hot (that’s true), too confusing (only at first), tourist-unfriendly (it doesn’t have to be) and an urban symbol of the country’s ills – corruption and bureaucracy, for example – and not the futuristic capital of the country of the future it was built to symbolize (well …). Most tourists (who aren’t architects or budding architects) dismiss it as skippable (it’s hard to tear yourself away from those beaches, after all) and that’s a shame. For as confusing and polarizing as Brasília is, it’s nothing if not fascinating.

  • Photo: rafa-alves

    Day and Night: Santiago’s Bellavista Neighborhood

    Every day of travel brings something new. But most people like to try to fit in a bit of food, drink, activity, culture and shopping in there somewhere. The problem is planning on getting to the places where these things can be had at exactly the right time.

    Enter Santiago’s quirky Bellavista neighborhood. Sandwiched between the Mapocho River to the south, and the towering Cerro San Cristobal to the north, this area has something to offer in all of the above categories with something to suit every budget and taste, from backpacker to luxury.

  • Take a Vega Home

    Speaking of heritage artwork in Ecuador that you may want to take back home with you, I’d like to introduce to you a certain Eduardo Vega. One of the country’s foremost potters, Eduardo Vega is sure to impress you on your visit to Cuenca, or so I’d like to conjecture. Here, you’ll be able to discover the master’s gallery and workshop, located in his own home, which incidentally is only a few steps away from a nice sightseeing stop, Turi Church. The lookout point offers the most spectacular view of the city of Cuenca.

  • 6 Things to Bring Back from Ecuador

    Of course, this list is completely arbitrary. I’ve also tried not to be too mainstream. I don’t want to be like everyone else out there, so I’ve decided to ignore Otavalo for now (I shall revisit, worry not) and speak of signature items that represent Ecuador’s exciting cultural heritage in a more contemporary, off-beat way. Each item is from a different corner of the country.

    Six is a short list, but hey, it’s a good start!

  • Colombia’s Colonial Treasures: Villa de Leyva

    Let’s cut to the chase here – this is not an unbiased post. I have repeatedly and publicly stated, to pretty much anyone within earshot, that Villa de Leyva is one of my favorite places in Colombia. However, I’m hardly alone in this opinion – in fact, I don’t know a single person that has visited Villa and failed to fall in love with it. Cartagena may be Colombia’s most romantic city, but Villa de Leyva seems designed to capture the heart of any visitor, as long as they don’t mind a few cobblestones underfoot!

  • Photo: poirpom

    Trekking to Cuidad Perdida: Colombia’s Own Lost City

    Step aside, Machu Picchu – Colombia has its own arduous hike to a stunning lost city, with some extra Caribbean coastline thrown in.

    Far less famous (and less frequently visited) than the Inca Trail, the five-to-six-day trek to the site of Ciudad Perdida (the Lost City) is a challenging but rewarding hike along Colombia’s Caribbean coast and into the beautiful Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. The almost 47-kilometer hike leaves from the small village of Macheté and winds through the tropical forest, making almost two dozen river crossings and ascending and descending steep inclines before arriving finally to the Lost City itself. The temperature is significant hotter than in the Peruvian Andes and the terrain can often be challenging – it’s certainly not a trek for beginning hikers and it helps to be in good physical condition, but no matter how you get to the end, the spectacular views are worth it!

  • Beyond Christo and Copacabana: Rio de Janeiro Off the Beaten Path

    It’s no short order to escape the tourists in Rio de Janeiro. The city easily finds itself near the top of almost everyone’s to-visit list. And as one of the most beautiful and exotic urban landscapes on the planet, rightfully so. According to figures from Brazil’s Ministry of Tourism, over 9.2 million tourists disembarked in Brazil in 2012 – and almost every single one planted their toes into Rio’s remarkable city sands.

    The allure of the Cidade Maravilhosa is, in fact, too powerful to ignore for some, who find themselves back on their favorite air travel search site a few months down the line, frantically playing with dates and routes to find the most economic way in which they can return to lap up even more sun, sand and samba. Those folks have already visited Rio’s 5-star attractions – Christ the Redeemer, Pão de Açúcar, Copacobana, Ipanema, Santa Teresa etc. – and are looking to escape fellow nomads and go a little more local. The good news is it’s not an impossible wish, but you’ll need to be committed to the effort. Here are a few places in Brazil’s most visited city where you can (maybe!) escape most fellow foreigners …

  • Visiting Iquique in Chile’s Norte Grande

    Iquique is one of the emblematic cities of the Chile’s Norte Grande, the vast northern part of Chile that crosses the Atacama Desert, which is the driest in the world. Iquique is a modern city sandwiched between dramatic cliffs and the Pacific Ocean, and has an interesting history as one of the opulent cities in Latin America up until about the 1930s, to the end of the nitrate boom, which had fueled the city’s growth for many years. The well-preserved architecture from that time makes for good sightseeing at any time of year, with sunshine nearly assured, and temperatures never dropping below about 45, nor climbing above about 85 degrees.

  • A Mid-Summer Cultural Calendar

    Time to play catch-up: I’ve just arrived back to Buenos Aires after weeks of travel in Mexico, Peru, and the USA. Here’s my to-do list for the hot weeks of summer ahead (well, the cultural events, at least, I doubt anyone’s interested in hearing about getting my air-conditioner fixed or trying to get invited to a friend’s swimming pool.) Art, film, telescopes, acrobats, let’s do this.

  • Ingapirca: Temples of the Sun and Moon

    One of my favorite aspects of Ingapirca, one of the most important and impressive archaeological complexes in Ecuador, is its lunar and solar “calendars”.

    On one hand, we have the lunar calendar: seemingly rudimentary boulders laid around in a haphazard semicircle, carved along the top with a series of small holes. They belonged to the Cañari civilization that existed in the area before the arrival of the Incas, a civilization that based its belief system on the Moon.

  • Photo: Loretin

    Santiago a Mil: Summer Performance Festival

    Santiago is Chile’s cultural center, and there’s no better time to check out international and national performances on offer than during the annual Santiago a Mil festival that takes place from early to mid January. The festival was started in 1994, and has grown tremendously since then, both in terms of the performances, and the audience that attends.

  • Argentina Captured on Film

    Whether you’re in the middle of an ice storm in New York or suffering through an ongoing heat wave in Buenos Aires, it’s a good time to curl up with a good movie – in front of the fireplace or air conditioner, as the case may be – particularly one that inspires future travel. Here’s a short list of recommended films shot in Argentina.

  • Casa Gangotena: Quito’s Heritage in Form and Flavor

    Casa Gangotena, the residence, has for centuries shared the square with Quito’s oldest Spanish construction, the awesome San Francisco church complex. A 3.5-hectare enclosure is probably the largest in South America (or close to it). It was born only days after the city’s foundation in 1534. A handful of years ago, the Franciscan Order’s next door neighbors sold their heritage home, which would be restored and turned into a glorious hotel that (talk about location!) looms over Quito’s very first square, very first church, very first water fountain, very first streets… this is the heart of Spanish America. So staying at one of Casa Gangotena’s 31 unique rooms is a treat with a deeper historic premise.

  • Free Museums in Bogotá

    Bogotá isn’t called the “Athens of South America” for nothing. In addition to its apparently endless supply of used books, Colombia’s capital city hosts a non-stop calendar of theater, music and other cultural events. But beyond the visiting events and performers, Bogotá also has a wealth of permanent artistic offerings on display in dozens of museums as well as stellar libraries, which function as small museums in their own right. In an effort to make these spaces accessible to as many people as possible, the government funds several of the city’s best museums, ensuring admission is free for all visitors, regardless of age, educational status or nationality. Many other museums that typically charge admission (which is still relatively inexpensive, almost always less than $5) offer free Sundays, when the public can enter for free. You could easily spend a full week just exploring the museums in the city center, but if you’re tight on time or your budget, here are a few of the best locations offering free glimpses of art.

  • Photo: Rafa Alves

    Visiting Pablo Neruda’s Three Houses-Turned-Museums

    Pablo Neruda is one of Chile’s favorite, and best-known poets, and also served as a diplomat in Argentina, Spain and Mexico. He was born in 1904, won a Nobel Prize for Literature in 1971 and died shortly after Chile’s coup d’etat, in 1973. His poems range from historical epics to love poems, surrealist writings and whimsical odes, including one to an artichoke. He is well known internationally and his time in exile in Sicily (for political reasons) was fictionalized in the movie Il Postino.

  • Artesanías: Southwestern Colombia and the Pacific Coast

    Since there was just too much art to fit into one post, it’s time for Part Two of our introduction to Colombian traditional artisan work and handcrafts – just in time for the holiday season! These pieces and traditions come from the western and southern parts of the country, where the strong influence of Afro-Colombian and Andean indigenous communities is clearly visible in the art. As with most other traditional handcrafts, the legitimate versions of these artesanías are created by hand over days or even weeks by local artisans, who often learned the craft from previous generations of their family. They serve as beautiful decorative pieces and accessories, but even more than that, these crafts are a way to preserve and transmit the unique traditions of some of Colombia’s oldest cultures.

  • Artesanías: Caribbean and Central Colombia

    Colombia’s diverse landscape and cultural influences have inspired thousands of different artisans across the country to create stunning handcrafts and pieces of art. These artistic products are seen as vital expressions of the country’s talent and diversity, and represent the different groups of people and regions that make Colombia what it is. From the colorful handmade mochilas of the indigenous Wayuu people in La Guajira to the carved wooden instruments of the Amazon, each region of Colombia produces its own beautiful, unique creations. Because there’s too much ground to cover and too much to see for just one post, we’ll start at the Caribbean coast and work our way south, saving the Pacific for next week.

  • 5 of Colombia’s Most Magical Experiences

    Building on our magical realism theme from last week, we’re going to move beyond the (very pretty) superficial level and take a look at some of the most magical experiences visitors can have in Colombia. Of course, you can find magic just about anywhere in this country, but the destination or activity that catches your fancy will depend on your style. The outdoorsy types might find their happy place hiking through the páramos and national parks of the Andes, while others will be completely context luxuriating on a roof deck soaking up the Cartagena sun. Still, whatever your travel goals, these five experiences are sure to give your time in Colombia just a little more pizzazz:

  • 5 of Colombia’s Most Magical Places

    Sometimes, I suspect that the Colombian government is paying every single citizen of this country to act as an undercover tour guide. It seems like everyone here, from office workers to taxi drivers, is willing and able to offer an opinion on the best spots for weekend getaways, must-see locations in different cities and all of the food visitors absolutely have to try while here (often physically leading said visitor to the closest place selling that particular delicacy).

  • Bares Notables of Buenos Aires

    Borges wrote and took his afternoon coffee at these café tables; famous tangos were inspired here in the 1940s. The city’s bares notables, or historic bars, remain the beating heart of old Buenos Aires.

    I’m surprised by how often people ask me to name my favorite thing about Buenos Aires. If I’m in the mood for a more philosophical conversation with the taxi driver or inquisitive traveler who’s asking, I’ll say, ‘listen, it’s a huge and complicated city, filled with dark and light – there’s plenty to love and hate, depending on the day.’ But if I need an easier answer, I’ll simply say ‘the bares notables.’

  • Photo: photo courtesy of Natalie Southwick

    Bogotá’s Growing Art Scene

    With its long tradition of regional art, world-class museums and rising street artists, Colombia is making a name for itself in the international art scene. Artists like Fernando Botero have been well-known for decades, but the country’s artistic soul goes far beyond paintings and sculptures of larger-than-life figures. The major cities have been expanding their artistic offerings in recent years, and none more so than Bogotá, which seems to have decided that the end of the year is all about art. There are artsy events taking place just about every week, but the creative folks get especially busy toward the end of October, and will stay that way into the holiday season. A few past, present and future highlights of the capital city’s artistic months:

  • Colombia in Costume

    With Halloween coming up, people across the country, especially in Halloween-crazy Bogotá, are preparing for a night of disguises. But October 31st isn’t the only time Colombians hide behind masks. In fact, the year is full of festivals and carnivals celebrating the country’s history, traditions, folklore and mythology with elaborate costumes and outfits. Here are a few examples of Colombia’s dressiest days:

  • Photo: Kevin Raub

    Dining Out in Tiny Tiradentes

    It’s certainly no news flash that Brazil is a wonderful place to eat (check out our breakdown of Brazil’s finest dish), and the country’s biggest city, São Paulo, is certainly home to the biggest concentration of culinary wonders in South America, but Brazil’s holds a culinary secret deep in its interior that folks might not consider when planning their gastronomic itineraries. World: Meet Tiradentes.

  • Buenos Aires From a Different Point of View

    Nothing against the fleet of bright red double-decker sightseeing buses barreling at full speed around Plaza Congreso – but you’re unlikely to experience much of the charm of Buenos Aires when you’re listening to generic tourist information through a headphone set. Discover the allure of the Argentine capital with an alternative sightseeing option, from an ‘iPhoneography’ class to tours focused on architecture and street art.

  • Colombia and Cinema: The Bogotá Film Festival

    When discussing cinema-friendly cities, Cannes, Venice or Park City might spring to mind. Bogotá is probably not on the radar of many cinephiles, but for at least one week in October, the city aims to change that. The Bogotá Film Festival, now in its 30th year, is the most important annual event for the capital city’s growing film community, bringing in directors, actors and industry representatives from across the country, the continent and the world. With affordable ticket prices and showcases for many up-and-coming Spanish-language directors, it’s one of the season’s cultural highlights in Bogotá and a necessary addition to the to-do list for any film fan.

  • Photo: Kevin Raub

    Favelado for the Weekend

    Anyone who has been to Rio de Janeiro has seen the colorful brick-and-mortar mazes precariously climbing up the lush mountains in all directions from most vantage points of note in Zona Sul: The favelas. Or shantytowns. Or slums. Or whatever the slur of choice is for a lot of underprivileged people stuffing themselves into illegal housing stacked on top of each other because the socioeconomic realities deem it so. They have traditionally been associated with violent wars between the police and drug lords, the latter of whom traditionally controlled them. Wandering into them if you were Brazilian was a scary no-no and an enlightening if not controversial good time for foreigners, who have taken the Jeep and van tours that have been operating since the ’90s.

  • European Architecture in Santiago

    Many travelers know Santiago for the sleek, uptown neighborhoods of Las Condes and Vitacura, with glassed-in towers, an area referred to as “Sanhattan,” and the brand new Costanera Center, which at 300 meters (nearly 1,000 feet) is the tallest building in South America, and home to a new, multi-level mall.

    And while what’s new in Santiago can keep you busy for a pleasant afternoon, the city’s history is far older than that, and digging a little deeper gives travelers a look into the history’s regal past, when palaces and little enclaves were built into what is now the bustling downtown.

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