Pathfinder Pics: Havana, Cuba

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Yasmine Awwad, Lonely Planet Pathfinder and the face behind Peeking Duckrecently took a trip to Cuba to experience the sights and sounds of Havana. Here are some of her favourite sights she snapped during her trip.

‘Life in Havana is lived on the street. Habana Vieja is the historic centre and the city’s most vibrant and colourful neighbourhood with a mixture of pristine colonial buildings and crumbling facades. Children play baseball on the street, men smoke cigars on their front steps and chat to their neighbours, and locals spill out of the small open-fronted shops with their ration books in hand. Walking around this area gives you a glimpse of Cuban life that’s endlessly fascinating.’

Where old meets new

A photo posted by Yasmine Awwad (@peekingduckco) on

‘After a huge renovation project in the 1990s, Plaza Vieja, in the heart of Old Havana, has now been perfectly restored. As well as being architecturally interesting, it’s also a good place for people watching. For a birds-eye view, visit the Camera Obscura on the northeastern corner of the square.’

The simple things

 

A photo posted by Yasmine Awwad (@peekingduckco) on

‘We started each morning in Havana with a strong cup of Cuban coffee at one of Plaza Vieja’s outdoor cafés (Café El Escoril was our favourite) and did some route planning with our guidebook – all while watching the comings and goings of the square.’

A window into Cuban life

A photo posted by Yasmine Awwad (@peekingduckco) on

‘People leave their windows and doors open in Havana, offering a glimpse into the lives of the city’s residents. My favourite spot was this classroom on Obispo, one of the busiest streets in Habana Vieja, filled with children quietly studying.’

It all happens in the street

 

A photo posted by Yasmine Awwad (@peekingduckco) on

‘Auto shops are essential to keep the city moving, and as with many things in Havana, they’re right on the street. The majority of Havana’s cars are vintage models from the 1950s – Chevrolets, Buicks, Plymouths – which add to the city’s charm.’

shopping with the locals

A photo posted by Yasmine Awwad (@peekingduckco) on

‘Although the situation has improved in recent years, it’s not always easy to buy things in Cuba. While supermarkets often have long queues spilling out their doors, food stalls can be found around the city with piles of fresh fruit and vegetables for sale.’ 

Around town

 

A photo posted by Yasmine Awwad (@peekingduckco) on

‘With relatively little traffic, aside from the odd rickshaw and roaming avocado seller, Habana Vieja’s quiet backstreets are a great place for children to play and practice Cuba’s hugely popular national sport – baseball.’

Do you love to write about your travels? Or perhaps Instagram is your thing? Find out more about our Pathfinders programme and how you can contribute to Lonely Planet here.

LP Pathfinders: top Instagrams from January 2016

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From the stark whiteness of Iceland in winter to the vibrant greens found in sun-kissed Bangladesh, it was all about colour in this month’s roundup of our Pathfinders’ top Instagrams.

Every month we share the most eye-catching and interesting captures from our Pathfinders community. Here are our selections for January.

Istanbul, Turkey

‘Taken just days after the bombings in Istanbul, this is the everlasting beauty of the Blue Mosque, one of those places that you’ve just got to see with your own eyes regardless of what’s going on around you.’ – Macca, A Brit and Abroad.
 
Why we like it: We love the angle of this shot, and the way it captures the contrast of the warm glow of the lighting against a backdrop of moody shades.

Thingvellir National Park, Iceland

 

Iceland at the start of the new year was a blanket of snow. I thought it might wash the photos out but the beautiful blues of the rivers make for a stunning contrast.’ – Daniel, Dan Flying Solo.
 
Why we like it: There’s no doubt that Iceland has some epic landscapes to its name, and this aerial shot showcases just one of them. We like how the contrast in the deep blues against the stark whites help depict the full force of nature. It also makes us feel a little chilly!

Black Rock City, Nevada

A photo posted by A:M (@violetspring) on

‘Amidst this grape-like haze, this magical moment was captured at Burning Man 2015. During this event, as dusk laid its blanket across the sky it would personify the calm before the storm- allowing moments of beautiful, quiet reflection before nights laced with wickedly wonderful behaviour. It was a personal and spiritual experience that will stay with me always and has taught me the essence of being completely consumed by the moment.’ – A, TRPN.
 
Why we like it: We love the shades of colour captured in this photo and how they progressively deepen, which gives us a sense of calm amidst the busy event.

Andalucia, Spain

‘There is some magic in finding the right spot for sunset when you are road tripping your way around a new region. Gibraltar’s presence, a unique UK redoubt in the Southern tip of Spain, stands out as lights dim. So close and yet so far.’ – Inma, A World to Travel.
 
Why we like it: The contrast in the busy Spanish road against the darkness of the mountains and the (very still) rock of Gibraltar in the background, all bought together under a tremendous sunset. The colours really pop out of this shot.

Hum Hum Waterfall Park, Bangladesh

As we waded knee deep through the fresh waters of the park with our guide, our journey was full of joyous moments as the sun kept popping through the trees’ leaves in the sky. I kept back from the group for a minute to soak the natural beauty of Bangladesh up and snap this uplifting shot.’ – Alice, Teacake Travels.
 
Why we like it: This capture makes us want to reach for our passports, immediately. We love the way the sun filters into this shot which brings out out the gorgeous greens of the lush forestry and an overall element of fantasy.  

For your chance to be featured in our next round up, sign up to Lonely Planet Pathfinders – our programme for travel-loving bloggers and social content creators. In the meantime, you can get more Instagram inspiration by following @lonelyplanet.

Byron Bay

IMG_5267 - Byron Bay lighthouse - 270◄ The Byron Bay lighthouse marks the most easterly point of Australia. With a group of friends I head off somewhere in Australia for a week in January or February each year. This year Byron Bay was the destination, the LP Australia guide suggests it’s the place where ‘that coastal surf culture flows into the hippie tide washing down from the hinterland, creating one great barefooted, alternative-lifestyle mash-up.’

All true although Byron has also just installed a truly draconian parking meter system – it covers an extensive area, it operates seven days a week, it’s big city expensive at $3 an hour and after hours it morphs (admittedly at 1 am) into a total lockout. All of central Byron Bay becomes a no parking clearway until dawn. That’s to keep those old style hippies from sleeping in their cars.

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Never mind, the town is still laid back, the shops are busy, the coffee is excellent, the restaurants are numerous, the whales and dolphins still swim by (but these days so do the sharks) and there’s good surfing and scuba diving (just avoid the sharks). Beaches run north and south from that lighthouse-topped headland. Here’s Tallows Beach to the south. ►

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▲ When you get tired of Byron you can head inland to Nimbin where the hippie vibe is still as strong as ever. It had been a long time since my last Nimbin visit and I was pleasantly surprised to discover Australia’s hippie epicentre can still be fun. The boys in my group – me included on the left – all felt obliged to buy Nimbin T-shirts.

IMG_5363 - Minyon Falls - 270I’ve already reported on our ascent of Mt Warning. I also made a flight over Byron Bay and the coast in a nearly ’70 year old Tiger Moth biplane, a report on that little flight will follow soon. Plus we visited the Minyon Falls in Nightcap National Park, amazingly impressive, I was surprised I didn’t know about them before.

◄Minyon Falls

Quiz: Which Best in the US destination should you visit in 2016?

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It’s the start of a new year, with all of your travel dreams ahead of you. Is an American vacation in the cards for you this year? Whether you’re looking for a trip into America’s past, a glimpse into its future, or just a big ol’ plate of barbecue, our Best in the US 2016 list has something for you, hand-picked and road-tested by Lonely Planet authors.

Lonely Planet’s Best in the US quiz is sponsored by Turkish Airlines

Pathfinder pics: Geneva, Switzerland

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Lonely Planet Pathfinders Peter and Kia of Atlas and Boots recently embarked on a road trip from France through to Geneva in Switzerland. Here’s a round-up of their favourite sights.

Geneva is the very definition of a global city. With nearly half the city’s population made up of foreign nationals, it seems only right that the municipality is home to the UN headquarters, as well as a further 20 international agencies. It was here that the Geneva Conventions were signed and today the city is a symbol of progress with CERN, the largest particle physics laboratory in the world, within its city limits. From a charming and historic city centre to world-famous international landmarks and institutions, we found Geneva to be emblematic of modern 21st century Europe.’

The big sights

‘The Palace of Nations (Palais des Nations) has served as the headquarters of the United Nations and its precursor, the League of Nations, since 1936. Overlooking Lake Geneva and the Alps, the Palace of Nations hosts thousands of intergovernmental meetings every year.’

Meeting the experts

 

‘We brushed up on our particle physics before our visit to CERN, but despite the efforts of our tour guides (who are also nuclear physicists), we didn’t really understand much! Scientists here operate the largest particle physics laboratory in the world and are probably the smartest people we’ll ever meet.’

Scenic city

‘We spent a romantic evening wandering the banks of Lake Geneva looking out across the Jet d’Eau (before indulging at one of Geneva’s many gelaterias). It’s one of the city’s most famous landmarks and reaches a height of 140 metres, making it visible throughout the city.’

Museum meandering

 

‘We visited the fascinating Red Cross museum and explored its permanent exhibition, The Humanitarian Adventure, as well as a temporary exhibition about Gandhi. The main exhibition explores three major challenges in today’s world: defending human dignity, restoring family links and reducing natural risks, while simultaneously conveying a unique history of humanitarian action.’

Swiss time

‘This was once the largest flower clock in the world. Unfortunately, it holds the title no longer but it does still have the world’s longest second-hand at 2.50 meters! The icon was created in 1955 as a symbol of the city’s watchmakers and a dedication to nature. Unmistakably Swiss!’

Where it all happens

 

‘In an international city like Geneva, you’re never far from a world map or iconic emblem. With a beguiling mix of modern and classic architecture, international institutions and engaging museums, this important and historic city makes for a perfect city break. We loved it.’

Are you an aspiring travel writer? Or is travel photography more your bag? Find out more about our Pathfinders programme here.


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