5 Things to do in Rome for 2015 AKA Italy is still Amazing!

chrisquiroz.comRome is one of those cities you could visit for a month and still feel like there is too much to do! The architecture, the history and the food are just the starting points! My wife and I spent about 10 days in Rome, and it was one of the highlights of our trip around the world! Here are 5 things you should be doing if you are planning on visiting: Continue reading

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Winter in Ottawa, Canada AKA Snow, Cold Weather and Hot Chocolate!

This weekend my wife and I rented a car and decided to go to Gatineau Park for a hike and a picnic, before the winter chill came (I’m a little bit of a baby when it comes to cold weather!). Of course I decided that being in the forest would be the perfect opportunity to take a few pictures, and it wasn’t long before I found a nice little creek!

first snow ottawa winter 2014_0003 Continue reading

Surprising my Wife in Penticton, BC AKA Traveling to the Okanagan Valley!

thanksgiving penticton

For Thanksgiving, my wife decided to visit her family in the Okanagan Valley to spend some time with them. She wanted me to go, but I had a lot of work at the time and told her that it would be pretty hard to get the time off to be able to fly out west, and that I would have to sit this one out. Little did she know that I bought my tickets a little bit after her and decided that I was going to surprise the bejesus out of her!

Once she left, I found myself with a lot of time on my hands (husbands will know lol) and wanted to do something creative and fun! At the same time, my boss had started this challenge of waking up at 5am everyday in order to get more done, and I had followed suit (for the record, that ended after exactly 2 weeks!) with the intention of capturing a few timelapses around Ottawa. Continue reading

A look at the Rocky Mountains from Banff aka The first time I saw real mountains

We went to Banff for a wedding. Did not imagine the mountains to be this amazing!

We went to Banff for a wedding. Did not imagine the mountains to be this amazing!

Growing up in Mexico, I had only ever seen the mountains out west through pictures in one of those coffee table books my mother had laying around the house, and living in Ottawa, our mountains are like small hills when you compare them to the Canadian Rocky mountains! It’s almost impossible to grasp their size, beauty and the feeling of overpowerment you get the first time you see them with your own eyes. If you have never been out west, and have never experienced these beautiful mountains, then all I can offer you are a few pictures in a feeble attempt to make you feel the way I feel! Enjoy! Continue reading

Of Paris and Art

While travelling through Paris, my wife and I stayed at a friend’s apartment, and every day we would walk down a street to get some bread from a bakery. On the way, I would always notice what appeared to be a vandal drawing at first, but when looked at closer, was a small mural made up of mosaic squares. I was impressed because it reminded me of the old days of video games when everything was pixelated, and because the artwork was based off of the MegaMan series!

Space

As we explored Paris, we started noticing that these mosaics  were popping up everywhere. A quick Google search told us that the artist goes by the name of “Invader”, who continuously places his urban art all over Paris, along with other cities around the world (Tokyo, LA, Bangkok, Amsterdam, Berlin etc). I enjoyed the idea of trying to find these mosaics while touring the city, so whenever I found one, I took a picture of it, like a trophy!

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MY 7 FAVORITE PLACES AROUND THE WORLD!

When you come back from a vacation, or traveling, the most popular question people inevitably ask is always “What was your favorite place?” It’s a very hard question to answer, because there are so many places I traveled to, and each one brought something different to the table. However, in the spirit of trying, I have made up a list of 7 places that truly captivated me! This list is in no particular order, since anyone who has traveled extensively knows that it’s impossible to do. 

1 PARIS

 

I’d wanted to visit Paris since as long as I can remember. I had built it so much in my head that I arrived expecting to be a bit disappointed. I was very wrong, and it was fantastic! Everything they say about Paris is true. The lights, the buildings, the wine, the romance, the charm and the snobs! The Eiffel tower is a wonderful sight to admire, especially at night when it does it’s light show! My wife did not enjoy the catacombs, but I was amazed that underneath the city streets there are kms of trails full of skeletons and bones, neatly stacked up into shapes and walls! It rained on us a couple of times, but that just made for some great photography. After all, clouds in the sky add something to a picture! The food is delicious, the people were very friendly, and the city breaths life at all hours. 

2 KO PHI PHI

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome to Ko Phi Phi, one of Thailand’s best islands! The water is crystal blue when looked at from a distance and clear as glass when you want to go snorkeling, or scuba diving, or swimming or cliff diving, or turtle watching. I guess my point is that there is ALOT to do in Ko Phi Phi. Some days we would just sit on the beach and watch the monkeys play fight and attack tourists (myself included lol) when they got too close to them. Other days we would go for a walk in the jungle, and sometimes we enjoyed the nightlife of the island, complete with buckets full of vodka and Redbull. There’s always a restaurant open so you will never go hungry (which is good because the food is amazing!) and everyone is there to have a good time! Maya Bay is especially impressive, although I recommend going very early as it gets packed by noon! We planned on staying a couple of days and ended up staying a week and a half. It’s hard to leave when your hotel is a bamboo hut overlooking the town and the ocean!

 

3  CAMERON HIGHLANDS

 

 

Cameron Highlands was a very different treat for me. We had been going from one island to another all over Thailand and through part of Malaysia, soaking up the sun on all the different beaches. So when we decided to take a bus, through a very windy road, up a mountain, to a small town, that was at least 10 degrees colder than what we were used to, I was not impressed with the idea lol But this place is beautiful. The scenery is spectacular, from the waterfalls, to the 3 hour trek through the jungle, to the vast fields of tea plantations. It was a surprisingly welcome break to the beach life that we had begun to get used to.  For anyone who actually has read some of my other posts, this is the place where my camera broke for the first time! If you have the time, go to the cloud forest! It is an entire forest covered in moss. The trees, the bark, the floor. Everything is covered in it! A really unique experience!

 

4 CHIANG MAI

 

Chiang Mai is a city that feels like a town. A very intimate town. With 1000 temples to visit. The city was very welcoming and friendly! I visited many temples, spoke to a monk, saw traditional dances, had fun with my camera and ate like a king.  It is one of the most culturally important places in Thailand, and you would be a fool not to go if you got the chance. Go out for a walk and get lost. It’s amazing what you can find when you don’t have a destination! We also rented some scooters to go to a temple up the mountain, but if you keep going, get ready for some amazing panoramas of the city!

 

 

 

5 ROME

 

Rome is in ruins. As in, every 2 blocks there is another piece of architecture, or statue or fountain that is 2000 years old. You can’t walk for more than 3 minutes without stumbling into something ancient and amazing! There is so much to see in Rome that anything less than a week won’t cut it! Surprisingly, I felt that the Colosseum was in pretty bad shape considering that it’s one of the main attractions. But it was still fantastic to be in a place with so much history. I could almost hear the crowds shouting from the stands, until I realized it was a group of children lol The Trevi fountain is beautiful, and I would highly recommend you go early in the morning (7ish) to avoid the enormous crowds that gather during the day. I’ve counted the Vatican as part of stuff to do in Rome, because seriously, who goes to the Vatican without visiting Rome? No one, that’s who. 

6 LONDON

 

It’s like I stepped into a Harry Potter movie. And I loved it! The city is rich in history, and apparently wealth, because all the museums are free! Big Ben, of course, is a wonderful sight, as is the London eye, especially at night! We even tried to locate some of Banksy’s graffiti art! Sadly, we only found 3. London is amazing, with lots of culture and fun people! The mall before reaching Buckingham Palace is fantastic, as is Buckingham Palace of course. Funny story, this is the place where I lost my wife for over an hour. She went chasing a horse (taking pictures of it) and disappeared! I was starting to actually worry after a while, but we found each other at the mall!

 

7 SIEM REAP

 

Enjoy getting lost in temples? This is the place for you! Siem Reap is the entrance city to all the Angkor temples, and trust me, you want to visit them. After travelling through many cities in south east Asia, you can get a little templed out, and when we came to Siem Reap, we kind of thought that it was going to be more of the same stuff. But these temples have so much character, so much history and so much beauty, that when someone asks me about the temples on my travels, the first ones that come to mind are these ones. The city itself is also fun, with lots of bars and restaurants, and a bit on the outskirts there are lotus flower plantations, which are amazing to see during a sunset. You may be told about going to Angkor Wat early in the morning to see the sunrise and wonder if it is worth it, and the answer is yes for 2 reasons. One- Seriously? How many people get to see the sun rise at a 900 year old temple? And two- once the sunrise is over, the temples are almost empty, so you can take your time and really soak up the importance of these places. Get a book explaining the carvings and structures, they sell them outside, and if you know how to haggle, you can get it for as low as 5 dollars ( I paid 10 and my tuk tuk driver told me I got ripped off! The same book is worth 20 Dollars at a book store) 

So there you have it. 7 different places I loved. I could have done an article about 20 of them, but I don’t have that much time on my hands! If I could give you one piece of advice from all of this, it would be to stop making excuses and just go out and travel! It brings adventure to your life, knowledge to your mind, happiness to your stomach and excitement to your body. Trust me, I’m a doctor (got my diploma from a guy who printed it out right in front of me in Thailand for 20 bucks lol) 

 

We Live in a Beautiful World

I’m home. After 7 months, 15 countries, 49,000 pictures and countless adventures, I’m finally home. It took almost 2 full days to travel from Tokyo to Ottawa (when you buy really cheap plane tickets, the price is time!), and I’m writing this post at 3am because I probably have some jet lag, but I’m finally home.

I haven’t had too much time to reflect on everything I have experienced through my travels this year, but whenever I try, my thoughts inevitably end up in the same sentence. We live in a beautiful world.

It’s everywhere you look, from the crystal clear oceans in Thailand, to the 10,000 tons of metal that makes the Eiffel tower in Paris. I saw breath taking landscapes in Ireland, played with wonderfully kind elephants in Laos, explored magnificent ruins in Cambodia, ate the best pizza of my life in Italy (surprise surprise!) and got caught up in the excitement of sumo wrestling in Japan.

    

    

I met some fantastic people along the way. Some opened up their homes to us, others opened a beer bottle. Some climbed mount Vesuvius with us, while others partied in Xochimilco with us. We bathed in jaw dropping waterfalls with some, and learned how to cook with others. 

It helps when you travel with your best friend, who also happens to be my wife. Somehow, these experiences seemed more meaningful with her by my side, and I feel blessed to have been able to share these experiences together. In 7 months, the most time we spent apart was when we lost each other an hour in London. Some people wonder how you can spend so much time with someone and not go crazy, but she always helped me see the world in the best light there could be, and I love her to death for it.

This world is beautiful. Whether you are watching the sky burn as the sun disappears into the horizon at a beach in Malaysia, or are watching the Parisian streets turn to life early in the morning, it’s beautiful. I am lucky to have been able to see first hand how beautiful this world truly is. It’s very easy to forget when you read or watch the news, or are stuck in a rut at work, or having problems with life in general, and sometimes it feels like we don’t have the time to appreciate just how lucky we are to live here, but hopefully this post will remind you, if only for a couple of minutes, that we live in a beautiful world.

Chris Quiroz