Hacienda Vacation: Horses, Cows, Llamas, & Condors

Hacienda Vacation: Horses, Cows, Llamas, & Condors

Still passing the time at home going through vacation pictures and making photo albums. Clicking my heels today and traveling back to our hacienda vacation, located in the Andes Mountains of Ecuador.

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A place I never knew existed or ever imagined visiting!

Over 450 years ago, and after defeating the Incas, a Spanish conquistador took over the land and ruled the area that eventually became Hacienda Zuleta. In Spanish speaking regions, a “hacienda” is a large estate or plantation with a dwelling.

Today, the 17th century hotel and working-farm belongs to the family of two past presidents of modern-day Ecuador. Set in a lush setting, Hacienda Zuleta offers beautiful antique rooms, delicious home-grown Andean cuisine served family style, and a variety of activities.

Over a four day stay, hubby and I enjoyed seeing mountain vistas, herds of dairy cows, pre-Columbian archeological pyramids, and llamas. All while riding on the hacienda’s own breed of horses. We also had the rare opportunity to see and learn about the endangered Andean Condor.

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Galapagos Trip Sea Lion Colony Encounter, Part 3

Galapagos Trip Sea Lion Colony Encounter, Part 3

Finishing up my Galapagos trip series, with our final day’s heartwarming wildlife encounter. Since I’m pretty much stuck at home during the virus case surge, I thought it would be therapeutic to virtual travel together.

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For our final excursion we headed to Mosquera, one of the smallest islands in the archipelago. Located between North Seymour and Baltra Islands, we had basically circled back from where we started our Galapagos trip five days earlier.

Mosquera is a reef of rocks and coral (the result of a volcanic uprising), with a beautiful, white sand beach. Most importantly, the inlet is home to a large colony of sea lions.

Before we even got out of the pangas (motorized, hard-bottom raft), we could see them clustered in small groups across the sand, vegetation and rocks. And as we waded onto shore for a wet-footed landing, several playful sea lions frolicked around us. Talk about a welcoming committee!

We spent a wondrous couple of hours on the small inlet, while trying to maintain an appropriate distance from the more curious sea lions.

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Galapagos Vacation Adventure, Part 2

Galapagos Vacation Adventure, Part 2

When I left you in Galapagos Islands Cruise: Nature Wonderland, we had just finished a second full day of snorkeling, and both wet and dry foot landings. Today, we continue the Galapagos vacation, exploring more islands, bays, and beaches.

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But, as incredible as it was to see the various volcanic landscapes and lava formations, it was the close encounters with wildlife that made the Galapagos vacation such a marvelous adventure.

There were countless species of birds and marine life, including; pelicans, crabs, sharks, rays, iguanas, lizards, fur seals, and sea lions.

Today, I’m sharing some of the amazing creatures we saw from the panga motorized raft, kayak, and while either on foot or snorkeling. I was hard-pressed to narrow down my photographs to just this sampling!

Continue the virtual Galapagos vacation with me, and you’ll get to see close-ups of famous indigenous species like the giant tortoise and blue-footed booby.

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Galapagos Islands Cruise: Nature Wonderland

Galapagos Islands Cruise: Nature Wonderland

While being mostly homebound, one of my projects has been to go through and organize past vacation photos. I’ve finally just finished editing hundreds of pictures taken during an amazing Galapagos Islands cruise.

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The five-day cruise was the grand finale of a three-week, bucket list trip to South America. We started in Peru, first Touring Lima and the Sacred Valley, and it’s Ingenious Inca Legacy. My dream-come-true was Exploring Magnificent Machu Picchu.

Although I had been looking forward to the Galapagos Islands cruise, it far exceeded my expectations. It felt like being a part of a National Geographic or Jacques Cousteau documentary!

Lying six hundred miles off the coast of Ecuador, the volcanic islands of the Galapagos are famous for a wealth of unique plants and animals found nowhere else in the world. It is also one of the few places without an indigenous population.Today, the source of Darwin’s theory of evolution remains a priceless living laboratory.

Travel with me to a part of the planet that is as God created it. A pristine world where a Galapagos Islands cruise is like traveling back in time. A reminder of the beauty in this world. Nature perseveres and so will we.

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Santorini, Greece: Gem of the Aegean

Santorini, Greece: Gem of the Aegean

Easter is in the rearview mirror and I’m feeling a bit blue over the prospect of weeks or months more in virtual lockdown at home. So, today I’m clicking my heels together and returning to spectacular Santorini.

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It’s the final of six travel log installments of a dream vacation in Greece and Turkey.

Our odyssey began in Amazing Ancient Athens, with a side trip to Delphi Home of the Oracle. Then, we embarked on a 10-day small ship cruise that included visits to Nafplio, Mykonos, Ephesus, and Patmos.

Santorini, or Thira, is one of the Cyclades islands in the Aegean Sea. It is the remnant of a devastating volcanic eruption that took place about 3,600 years ago. A popular theory is that the clataclisplic event was the source of Plato’s tale of Atlantis.

Popular as a cruise ship and travel destination, Santorini attracts thongs of tourists and honeymooners who navigate the narrow, crowded streets of its two principal towns — Fira and Oia. Picturesque whitewashed houses and blue-domed churches overlook the sea; clinging to cliffs high above the huge underwater caldera.

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Charming Old Telluride Mining Town in Winter

Charming Old Telluride Mining Town in Winter

Last week I shared a recap of our Terrific Telluride, Colorado Ski Vacation. Today, I’m taking you from the snow covered slopes and mountain views, to a stroll through the historic valley town loaded with wonderful foodie options.

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While we are all cooped up inside, wouldn’t it be nice to take a virtual trip as a little distraction?

Plus, visiting old Telluride is a little like time traveling back to the 1800s, when the charming town was a prosperous community during the silver and gold mining boom. It’s like an architectural time capsule.

Main street is incredible wide, with original buildings from the period that include a hotel, banks and government edifices. Many businesses, shops, restaurants and bars are in buildings with Old Western style facades. Surrounding streets include Victorian era homes and cottages; like the rental property we stayed in.

Unfortunately, it was gray, cold and blustery on the day we spent exploring old Telluride. By far the worst weather of our entire vacation. Temperatures were only in the single digits, with gusty blasts of wind. However, it was the best day not to be on the slopes. We were fortunate it fell on our already planned off-day of skiing.  So, after enjoying a leisurely morning with a big cooked breakfast, the four of us bundled up and braved the weather.
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