Classic Cuba – Globetrotter Girls

Author: , May 10th, 2017

Classic Cuba

I have so many thoughts and emotions about my Cuba trip, I am still processing everything I’ve seen and experienced on this spellbinding little island. Visiting Cuba turned out more challenging as I thought it would be, but it was so worth it. I have yet to go through the thousands of photos I took and sort my thoughts, but I’ll be sharing a number of Cuba articles shortly.

For now, let’s just say that Cuba isn’t like any other country I’ve ever visited, and yet, it felt strangely familiar. Why is that, you wonder? I grew up in East Germany, a Communist country, just like Cuba still is. In fact, Cuba was one of our socialist allies, and while with the collapse of the Communist bloc, life for me and 16 million other East Germans took a huge turn (for the better), Cubans still live so many aspects of the life that I remember from my childhood.

Before this little teaser for my upcoming Cuba content becomes too much of a ramble (I’ll be talking about this ‘walk down memory lane’, which this trip inadvertently turned into for me, in an upcoming article) – for now I just want to say that I was fascinated by the spirit of the Cuban people, the lust for life, their ability to find joy in the little things, and about seeing how life spills out into the streets everywhere.

By Dani – Full Story at Globetrotter Girls

Cuba Gay Travel Resources

Cato Jutias, Cuba – Globetrotter Girls

Author: , May 9th, 2017

Cayo Jutias - Dani

Even though Cuba is a Caribbean island, whenever I thought of Cuba, a Caribbean vacation was not what I had in mind. Instead, I pictured Spanish-colonial colorful towns, lush green tobacco fields and the crumbling facades of Havana’s grand buildings. What I wasn’t thinking of were turquoise, crystal clear waters and pristine beaches fringed by palm trees. But of course, there are lots of exactly those in Cuba, and I am glad that I got to include a couple of them into my packed Cuba itinerary.

The first beach we went to, Cayo Jutias, happened to be a beach that is one of Cuba’s most stunning beaches (nearby Cayo Levisa on a tiny island off of the coast is supposedly the absolute best beach in Cuba. And yes, every beach we saw afterwards looked just.. uh.. nice.. in comparison (but those were still Caribbean beaches..!).

Cayo Jutias doesn’t have any hotels, only a couple of restaurants. Other than that, it is just miles and miles of untouched, picture-perfect beach. And the best thing? Since Cayo Jutias is fairly difficult to get to – located on the northern tip of the island, a bumpy 75-minute ride on a pothole-filled country road from the small town of Viñales – there aren’t many tourists there.

By Dani – Full Story at Globetrotter Girls

Cuba Gay Travel Resources

Colonial Beauty in Cuenca, Ecuador – Globetrotter Girls

Author: , May 3rd, 2017

Cuenca, Ecuador

When my mosquito bite count reached one hundred and my laptop’s cooling fan started making noises as if it was trying to tell me ‘I can’t deal with this heat anymore‘, I decided that it was time to get away from the beaches for a while and give both my laptop and my itching limbs a break. The beach had been nice, but I needed to get somewhere high enough for the mosquitoes to not get there. And so I headed to Cuenca, at 8,370 ft (2,550 meters) too high for mosquitoes to continue to feast on me and cool enough for my laptop not to overheat.

Cuenca is a popular expat destination, with 5,000 mainly North American expats living there, and it is easy to see why. Life in Cuenca is pleasant, cheap and tranquil. Mountains surround the city, and you can walk everywhere in the center. Cuenca has 52 churches and the best preserved colonial architecture in Ecuador, so much so that UNESCO declared the city center a World Heritage site. It was a city that I liked immediately – the first time I had this feeling during my time in Ecuador!

Without many ‘must see’ landmarks, I adapted to Cuenca’s slow pace and got into a nice routine of a daily morning run along the river, followed by a tasty breakfast in one of the coffee shops in the city center. I’d work for a few hours on my laptop and then head out and just wander the streets, curious to see what I’d find. I stumbled upon gorgeous colonial buildings, quaint plazas and plenty of good restaurants. After eating mostly Ecuadorian food for the past few weeks, I was delighted to find Thai, Indian, Middle Eastern and tasty Italian food, including pizza (and I am a hard-to-please pizza snob!).

By Dani – Full Story at the Globetrotter Girls

Ecuador Gay Travel Resources

Life Lately & Upcoming Travels – Globetrotter Girls

Author: , April 7th, 2017

Dani - Globetrotter Girls

Let’s start with where I am right now: in Mexico! I started the month in Ecuador, assuming that’s where I would also end it, but as so often, my plans changed completely (throwback to March of last year when I started the month in Colombia and ended in Mexico, too – also completely unexpectedly.)

Three countries, and twelve different beds. I thought this would be a slow travel month with a week in each place, but once I made the decision to leave Ecuador early, I sped up my travels to still see all the places I wanted to visit.

So how did I end up in Mexico?

After my trip to the Galápagos Islands, I spent a few days in Guayaquil followed by a week on Ecuador’s coast. I noticed that while I didn’t have a terrible time, I also didn’t love anywhere I’d been so far in Ecuador – with the exception of the Galápagos Islands. Quito was meh, Guayaquil was nothing special, and the beaches were only okay (I know, I am spoiled!). I had planned to spend all of March in Ecuador before flying to Central America in early April to meet up with one of my favorite people in the world for another epic road trip together. But did I really need to spend all of March in Ecuador? I started to look into alternatives while starting to plan our Costa Rica road trip. And nothing came together the way I had hoped.

Flights to Costa Rica were outrageously expensive – both from the States and from South America. I was unsure if I should head south to Peru or north to Colombia. I wondered if we should even travel to Costa Rica given the challenging travel planning, also considering it’d be during Semana Santa, Easter Week, which happens to be one of the busiest travel weeks in Latin America.

By Dani – Full Story at Globetrotter Girls

The Swing at the End of the World

Author: , April 6th, 2017

Baños Ecuador - Dani

Baños is known as Ecuador’s adventure capital, and I knew there were a bunch of activities I could do here that would give me a nice adrenaline rush – rafting, paragliding, mountain biking, zip lining and canyoning, to name just a few.

The one attraction that gave me sweaty palms though? The infamous ‘swing at the end of the world;, where you dangle from a tree house over a cliff, high up in the mountains over Baños. It’s one of those places that you see a picture of and know you have to go there. Or is that just me?

For years, this was one of the only places I knew about in Ecuador. I knew about the Galápagos Islands, I knew about Quito, and the Swing At The End Of The World.

Since this was the thing I was most excited about doing in Baños, it was where I was headed to first. Initially I attempted hiking up the mountain, but when, after walking for an hour, I still hadn’t even made it to the bottom of the mountain on top of which the swing sits, I changed my mind and took a Chiva instead, a truck that’s converted into a tourist shuttle with benches in the back.

By Dani – Full Story at Globetrotter Girls

Ecuador Gay Travel Resources

Cuenca, Ecuador – Globetrotter Girls

Author: , April 1st, 2017

Cuenca - Dani

When my mosquito bite count reached one hundred and my laptop’s cooling fan started making noises as if it was trying to tell me ‘I can’t deal with this heat anymore’, I decided that it was time to get away from the beaches for a while and give both my laptop and my itching limbs a break.

The beach had been nice, but I needed to get somewhere high enough for the mosquitoes to not get there. And so I headed to Cuenca, at 8,370 ft (2,550 meters) too high for mosquitoes to continue to feast on me and cool enough for my laptop not to overheat.

Cuenca is a popular expat destination, with 5,000 mainly North American expats living there, and it is easy to see why. Life in Cuenca is pleasant, cheap and tranquil. Mountains surround the city, and you can walk everywhere in the center.

Cuenca has 52 churches and the best preserved colonial architecture in Ecuador, so much so that UNESCO declared the city center a World Heritage site. It was a city that I liked immediately – the first time I had this feeling during my time in Ecuador!

Beach Sunset In Montañita, Ecuador – Globetrotter Girls

Author: , March 31st, 2017

Montañita, Ecuador

After my week in hot and sticky Guayaquil I couldn’t wait to get to the beach for a fresh ocean breeze. I had heard great things about Montañita, a small village on the Santa Elena Peninsula on Ecuador’s Pacific Coast. Montañita is the country’s number one surf spot, and, as I learned when I arrived there, a prime party destination for people from all over South America.

Think South America’s answer to Ibiza, only with less mega clubs, but with loud music right on the beach instead, blasting from several discos right along the shore.

The problem with that? I was just not in the mood for a mega party, and I had also been warned about walking around town at night by myself. A couple of backpacking girls from Argentina were brutally murdered in Montañita less than a year ago, and I didn’t get a good vibe from the village. The beach was okay, but nothing special, and the waves were so insanely high that there was a red flag on the beach every day, warning people that the surf was intense and the current was strong.

By Dani – Full Story at Globetrotter Girls

Ecuador Gay Travel Resources

A Date With Ayahuasca – Globetrotter Girls

Author: , March 29th, 2017

Ayahuasca - Dani

I held the little bamboo cup with both hands and quickly gulped down the thick, dark liquid – Ayahuasca. The bitter taste in my mouth was repellent, and I tried to wash it down with some water as soon as I sat back down on the wooden floor of the ceremonial hut in the Colombian Amazon.

“You should be feeling the effect of the ayahuasca in about twenty minutes,” the shaman named William told us in Spanish. “If you don’t feel anything then, I’ll give you some more.”

He then pointed to my left, where on one side of the hut, the wooden wall was only chest high, above that it was open until the ceiling, like a window, but without glass.

“You’re very likely to throw up when the ‘medicine’ begins to work. If you feel it coming, throw up out the window.”

He then turned his headlamp off, the only source of light in the hut, and the four of us were suddenly sitting in the pitch black dark, cross-legged, waiting for Ayahuasca, the ‘medicine’, as William called it, to work.

By Dani – Full Story at Globetrotter Girls

Colombia Gay Travel Resources

Santa Rosa and Sonoma Wine Country – Globetrotter Girls

Author: , March 27th, 2017

Sonoma - Dani

Sonoma Wine Country is a popular couples’ weekend getaway, but what about LGBT couples? The LGBT hot spot of the West Coast, San Francisco, is only 55 miles (just over an hour) away, which makes Sonoma, and its largest city, Santa Rosa, perfect for a romantic weekend break.

In fact, Sonoma County was named as one of the top 20 tourist destinations for LGBT travelers in the entire U.S., and Huffington Post included it in its Top 10 LGBT Honeymoon Destinations.

I went to Santa Rosa and Guerneville to find out what Sonoma Wine Country has in store for queer travelers, from LGBT-friendly places to stay, things to do and which events are worth a trip.

This region of Northern California is primarily known for its many vineyards and wine tastings, but there’s a lot more to Sonoma County than just that: the Pacific Coast Highway, Redwood forests, river adventures, quaint little towns and beautiful beaches.

By Dani – Full Story at Globetrotter Girls

Sonoma Gay Travel Resources

Colombia’s Lost City – Globetrotter Girls

Author: , March 23rd, 2017

Colombia's Lost City - Dani

The first time I heard about the ruins of the Ciudad Perdida, an ancient city hidden deep in the jungles of northern Colombia that is only accessible on foot on a strenuous four-day hike through the mountains, was in 2010, during my first visit to Latin America.

“You have to do this trek,” a fellow traveler who was making his way north towards Mexico as I was making my way down towards Colombia through Central America, urged me, “it’s an adventure of a lifetime.” Back then I was skeptical, even though I was intrigued by this Indiana Jones-like adventure. But I had never done a multi-day trek, let alone in the jungle, let alone in the Colombian jungle. I didn’t even know if I could walk that far: a 32-mile (52-kilometer) round-trip.

Fast forward six years and I found myself walking on a dusty unpaved road, braving the 90% humidity and heat of the Caribbean coast a few miles north of the starting point of the trek to the Ciudad Perdida, the Lost City. A mere fifteen minutes after leaving the village where we started the trek, we made our first river crossing – the first of about twenty river crossings along the way. Luckily I wasn’t doing the trek during rainy season, when the water can reach up to your waist. One hour into the hike, as I felt the sweat running down my arms, my stomach and my back, I was already regretting my decision.

Even though now, a few years later, I had a few multi-day treks under my belt, I still wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to make it all the way to the ancient city. The river we were walking next to looked inviting, and just as I was fantasizing about jumping in for a refreshing dip, our guide announced “We’re stopping here for a quick swim break. After this, the real hike starts.” All of us stripped down immediately and jumped into the water, slowly starting to get to know each other while cooling off.

By Dani – Full Story at Globetrotter Girls

Colombia Gay Travel Resources