Since I live close to Albuquerque in New Mexico, I was also curious about the original Alburquerque in Spain (it is still spelled with an ‘r’). The Spanish Alburquerque is located close to Portugal, not far from Lisbon.
It looks similar to Mexican towns, with one big difference: there is an old castle on top of the town.
I was told that they get many visitors from Albuquerque in New Mexico. Compared to this small town, the New Mexican Albuquerque is a huge city.
Since I live close to what is often called the “Lourdes of the United States”, namely Chimayo in New Mexico, I was curious what the actual Lourdes in France looked like.
It is located in the foothills of the Pyrenees Mountains in Southern France:
Andorra is located in the Pyrenees mountains between France and Spain. There is literally only one small road leading into it and one out.
On the way from the Mediterranean coast to Andorra, the road is winding along the mountains much of the way:
Then these roads go through high mountain passes:
The capital – called Andorra La Vella – is in a narrow valley.
I stayed in an excellent four star hotel in downtown Andorra La Vella. It is called “Exe Principe” and was just 45 Euros in February. On the other hand, parking downtown costs an additional 15-18 Euros per day.
Andorra seems to be a popular winter sports destination. At least on Saturday it was just one big traffic jam in both directions:
On the other hand, during the week, there was hardly any car on the road.
On the second leg of my car trip from New Mexico to Florida I went down to the Florida Keys. Overall, the Keys stretch out over 100 miles, connected by the US Highway 1 over many bridges.
The longest one is the Seven Mile Bridge right after the town of Marathon.
The Sombrero Beach in the town of Marathon is one of the largest beaches in the Florida Keys. Marathon is stretched out over several islands more or less in the middle of this island chain.
I went to the oldest restaurant in Marathon – called “Castaways” – and had an Alligator Tail. It tastes like chicken – well, not quite, but it is good:
I didn’t stay in Key West for long, but it is an interesting town with lots of older architecture in its Western part:
Before and after going to the Florida Keys I stayed in Florida City, which is located on the Southeastern tip of Florida – just North of the first Florida Keys. It is quite a regular town, but I really liked it. The Econolodge hotel there was also inexpensive and very nice.
After the Florida Keys, I went to the Everglades and stopped at the short Kirby Walkway into the jungle:
After driving through the Everglades, I visited Marco Island – a town on the Southwestern tip of Florida. The beach there is pretty nice, however you need to stay at one of the hotels there or pay between $8 – $10 a day to use it.
Here are a few pictures of the Eastern coast of Florida from the air:
In late August I traveled from New Mexico down to Corpus Christi in Texas and then from there to Florida.
Here are some pictures of a typical Gulf Coast beach somewhere between Houston and New Orleans:
My favorite place was Waveland/Gulf Port in Mississipi. It has great Florida-style beaches and pine tree forests, while at the same being very affordable.
Gulf Port and Waveland are right next to each other on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi.
I stayed in what is probably by far the best Motel 6 hotel I have seen so far. The hotel was right on the beach in Gulf Port. It was very cheap at $49 a night and the rooms reminded me of Las Vegas hotels with their modern style.
Here is a view from the hotel towards the ocean:
Jaco Beach is a small town on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica. It is about 1.5 hours away from the international airport in San Jose, which is the biggest city in Costa Rica.
The temperature and humidity is much higher close to the ocean – compared with the higher altitude of Costa Rica’s capital San Jose.
The beach sand is somewhere in-between white and dark:
For some reason, the beach was almost empty when I was there in June. Maybe it fills up more in the winter time when people flee the cold in North America. The main street was more lively usually:
I stayed in the Blue Palms hotel which is about one half mile away from the beach. It is the cheapest hotel in town other than the hostels which are closer to the beach and cheaper.
I ate at a restaurant close to where the locals usually eat – which was very good and cheaper than the restaurants on the main street. Here you can see people watching the World Cup 2014 in Brazil:
Unlike many other places in Costa Rica, Jaco can be reached on a new and fast highway. The best way to do it is by taking the local Interbus shuttle service, which is about $40 one way.
The island of Phuket in the south of Thailand is probably one of the most popular places for beach holidays in all of Asia.
I stayed in the town of Patong Beach. It is itself the most popular destination on Phuket island. I took the pictures in the early morning when almost no-one was there yet:
The traffic in Phuket is not quite as crazy as in Bali and the streets are wider. But of course, they also drive on the left side as in most of South-East Asia.
The prices for hotels are not as low as in Bali, though I did find one for less than $20 a night.
This mosque was close to my hotel in Phuket and on the way to the beach:
Here is a picture of a Buddhist shrine close to the beach:
Restaurants and nightlife in Patong Beach on Phuket Island
Patong Beach has an impressive collection of all kinds of restaurants, night life and a very large shopping mall.
I enjoyed the all-you-can-eat buffets – first in the Japanese-style ‘Shabushi’ restaurant chain that offers sushi and shabu-shabu – meaning meat, vegetables and mushrooms you can quickly cook on the table in front of yourself in the restaurant.
Later I went to a Thai-style “shabu-shabu” which was simply called BBQ Buffet, but had the same general idea of selecting foods and quickly cooking them on the table in front of you.
The food is a bit cheaper in Thailand when compared to Bali. The all-you-can-eat buffets were between $7 and $11 while a normal meal can be as cheap as $2.
After two months in Bali, I decided to check out Thailand.
The tickets from Bali to Bangkok were surprisingly cheap. A one-way ticket for the 4-hour flight was just $140 with Air Asia. That is not much more than the $99 flights within Thailand itself.
I was in Bangkok only for a few days, so I stayed in the central part of town.
First, I visited the Pillar of the City – a small Buddhist shrine symbolizing the center of Bangkok:
Then I went to the Grand Palace where the King of Thailand and his family used to live. Inside the palace, there is collection of very beautiful Buddhist temples:
This next building is right next to the temples. It is a mix of Dutch and Thai style and is currently the place where meetings with foreign heads of state take place:
My next stop was the Golden Mount – a Buddhist temple that is regarded by some as the most important one in all of Thailand. It is located on a small hill with steps leading all the way up to the top. There are waterfalls and statues in many places as you go up:
Then there is a row of bells about half-way up…
… and finally the temple itself on top:
The view from the top encompasses all of Bangkok:
Here is a picture of one of the river channels in Bangkok and a typical street:
Overall, Bangkok is not too different from other large cities around the world. They do have Buddhist temples and a few Thai-style buildings, but for the most part it looks pretty much like any other large city.