Not So Touristics Places in Tennesse

As many of you, I had the idea that people in the south of the United States would be a racist, white, gun shooters.  Until I met a Tennessean in Czech Republic, (long story short) we became really good friends and decided to visit her.

After she picked me up, first thing I see is a possum, animal popularized as redneck food thanks to jokes like “How many rednecks does it take eat a ‘possum? Two. One to eat, and one to watch for cars”.  My friend certified this information as true.

For those who have never seen a possum google it! I tried to put a picture here but really don’t like those guys. It also reminds me of them playing dead on the roads.

It was my first time in Tennesse and as always, I didn’t want to go to the toursitic traps.

So these are some of the places I visited during my trip to Tennesse.

  • Twin Lakes Catfish Farm: A family owned Restaurant where the main atraction is to catch a Catfish, you can either take it home or they will prepare it for you at the restaurant.

  • Burgges Falls: Beautiful waterfalls accesible after an easy two miles hike (roundtrip). Located only 20 mins from Cookeville (East Tennesse).

  • Window Cliffs: A 5 miles hike located also aproximately 20 mins south from Cookeville near Burgess Falls Natural Area. In order to finish this hike you need to pass 9 stream waters, so better be ready!

At the top of Window Cliffs

After two days around Coookeville, we decided to go to Chattanooga which to be honest now happened to be one of my favorite cities in the US; the city is green and very well organized. If you google what to do in Chatanooga the first things that will appear are Rock City and Ruby’s Falls, which I didn’t visit but instead found this hidden gema call Lula Lake located near Lookout Mountain, 20 mins away from Downtown.

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Downtown Chatanooga has lots of cool restaurans and bars worth to check out and counts with couple of parks to relax in the middle of the city.

View from Coolidge Park

 

 

Driving around the city was a lot of fun we could enjoy the diffferent graffitis and mix of old and new architecture.

Also this little city offers you the opportunity to practice different extreme sports like, hang gliding, rafting, and rock climbing to name few. I tried rafting myself with my friend in the Ocoee river. “Best decision ever”

Then it was time to visit Nashville. Big Advice: If you go by car I strongly recommend you park as far as possible from downtown. Parking fees around the city range from $18 to $15 for 2 hours.

 

 

Once in Nashville, 2 things you can’t miss out, The Parthenon that I don’t know what is there is not that Nashville has strong ties to Greece and Broadway Strip. Seriously, I had one of the funniest nights of my life in this city.

  • The Parthenon: Originally built for Tennessee’s 1897 Centennial Exposition, it is a replica of the Parthenon in Athens, Greece. It is also an art museum.

Nashville itself is a great city with a lot of things to offer. It has tons of museums, restaurants and parks. Just be prepared to pay for expensive entrance fees at the museums, the prices range from $25 to $18 an entrance.

Nightlife is completely different to what I was used to, I’ve never been a huge fan of country music but after my visit I can’t stop listening to it. It reminds of all the amazing bands I saw in this city. Every bar I got into had these amazing bands with great singers.

Broadway Strip

Oh and about the southern people I can just say all those stereotypes might be true only for a minority. My experience in this area of the States was amazing everyone wanted me to feel welcome and show me their culture. And yes I shot a gun but because I asked for it…

P.S. Eat fried pickles! They will change your life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Eastern California Sierra Nevada

California never stops surprising me, I thought I knew all the most interesting landmarks of the state (I’ve been all the way from San Diego to the Washington state). Besides Lake Tahoe I never considered traveling to Eastern California, until a friend told me about a place called North Palisades, when I first saw the Google pictures I couldn’t believe it was in California near a desert..

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Trail

A little intro.. North Palisades is the third highest peak in the Sierra Nevada range topping at 14249 feet within the John Muir Wilderness. It also has it’s own proglacial lake, which appears turqouise due to the glacier powder suspended in water.

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First Lake

The glacier and/or the Big Pine Lakes can be visited by a fairly strenuous day hike of between 10 and 20 miles, and an elevation gain of up to 4,000 feet. It took us around 4 hours to get to the second lake (we got hit by the altitude sickness). Anyways after some research we found out that the second lake was the biggest and most beautiful. There you can visit up to 7 lakes.

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Second Lake

Mobile signal is very good along the road but in case something happens getting there it’s pretty easy… From the US Highway 395 in the center of Big Pine, CA turn west at Crocker street (You’ll see a sign and a gas station). Follow the the road for about 20 mins, past the campgrounds and the overnight parking. At the end of the road you’ll find the trailhead for the North Fork Big Pine Creek Trail.

We had one more day to kill so we wanted to explore more, our first option was Sequoia because it seemed so close in the map, when we checked it was 5 hours away!! We kept looking until we found Mono Lake which is hour and a half away from Big Pine, I visited this northern part of this lake before and it didn’t amused much but this time we went to the south tufa formations; which are pretty amazing. About the tufas “These unusual spires and knobs are formed when calcium-bearing freshwater springs well up through alkaline lake water, which is rich in carbonates. The calcium and carbonate combine, precipitating out as limestone. Over many years, a tower forms around the mouth of the spring. This tufa forming reaction happens only in the lake itself. As the lake level drops and exposes the tufa towers, they cease to grow” 

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After visiting the lake of course we needed to find a place to sleep, so again we used our google maps to find a campground, we noticed that 20 mins south west are lots of lakes (with campgrounds of course), these lakes are beautiful. Again I am surprised with this area in California it is so beautiful and so diverse not only  the landscapes but the towns are beautiful.

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Silver Lake near Lee Vining

If you live in California I encourage you to visit these places, they are close to Southern California and are less popular than the main parks like Yosemite or Sequoia but the experience is as rewarding as it is in those places.

Thank you for reading!

Delta del Orinoco

In the Eastern part of Venezuela there is a state called Delta Amacuro, in this state you can find the Orinoco Delta which is a landform that forms from deposition of sediment carried by the Orinoco River. This delta is the second biggest in the continent.

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In this part of my country you can find endangered species like river dolphins, giant river otters, jaguars and Orinoco crocodiles. Not only that, once you are there you can hear the roaring howler monkeys welcoming the dawn at 3 in the morning (to give and idea they sound like lions fighting in the middle of the night).

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River dolphin also known as pink dolphin

This place is not only interesting for the amazing landscapes and its fauna, it is also home of the ‘Waraos’ , also known as the “boat people” because of their intimate connection to the water. Babies in this community learn how to swim before walking. Going there and having contact with the Warao people is like going hundreds of years back in time (by the way this community have been around for more than 9000 years). These people barely speak spanish they have their formal dialect. Once you get in contact with this community you gotta be open minded enough.  Waraos do things in a whole different way, for example they don’t have knowledge of numbers or time, and they guide themselves by using the positions of the starts and the level of the water.

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Typical Warao home – an open sided hut on stilts.
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Inside a Warao home

Also they truly believe in black magic and shamanism.  Actually, the dad of one of the families we visited told us the story about how his son died; the shaman living across the river kills Warao kids with black magic when he is envy of their youth. To be honest I don’t think this can be possible. There are many reasons why these kids can die like their exposure to parasites, lack of health care and contact with foreigners that bring new illnesses. As an example during colonization the contact with the white man was one of the main reason why many of the indigenous died.

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‘Warao’ family riding a ‘curiara’ during sunset time.

 

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The river gives the Waraos everything they need, their diet consist mostly on fish and everything they can take out of the moriche palms tree like it’s fruits, worms and flour.

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Typical Warao food

If you ever decide to visit Venezuela and are wondering how to get to this remote area, no worries, it is very easy and many tour agencies offer 3 days tours with their own camps for about $150-$200 (prices might change due to the country’s inflation).

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Orinoco Camp

I know Venezuela is going through tough times right now, but when everything gets better I encourage you to live this experience. I assure you that after this you will be wondering if everything what you worry in your daily life is worth the stress, because this place and specially these people give you a whole new perspective on how to live and has you realize that you don’t need much to be truly happy.

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Thank you for reading!!

 

 

Visiting the End of the World

Ever wonder what is down south? Maybe you have heard of Argentina which is famous for it’s meat and Tango but there is much more. The touristic attractions not only are in Buenos Aires. In the south close to the Antartica is this beautiful town called USHUAIA located on the Tierra del Fuego archipelago, the southernmost tip of South America, nicknamed the “End of the World.” This lovely town is surrounded by the Martial Mountains and Beagle Channel.

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What to do in Ushuaia?

Now let’s get down to business… What can you do there? First of all, the town is small and the locals are nice. They usually offer rides to the tourists at no cost.

Before our trip we heard about the famous seafood in Ushuaia so as soon as we got to the town we enter the first restaurant we saw and order a plate with centollas. Every restaurant in Ushuaia offers this type of food, a plate costs around 20$.. Yes, Ushuaia is not that cheap but it is completely worth it you will never in your life try something like it.

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They taste better than they look!

Then there is the Bagel Channel, where you can book a tour in one of the tour offices located near the waterfront, this catamaran trips will take you around the Beagle Channel and give you nice views of the mountains, cormorants, penguins, orcas, seals, sea lions and Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse.

Beagle Channel

On our second day, we decided to visit Tierra del Fuego National Park. We got lucky on this one because a local we met the day before gave us a private tour. She also told us that the reason she moved to Ushuaia was that park, and I don’t blame her; it’s landscapes are breathtaking. The park is located 22 minutes west from the town over the borderline with Chile. If you want you can camp inside the Park but the best option is the town itself.

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Last but not least is the Esmeralda Lake with it’s turquoise water is one of the most beautiful lakes I have ever visited in my life. It’s muddy trail takes you to different landscapes where you can see lots of beavers’ dams (Beavers were introduced by humans in 1946. The beavers already threaten around sixteen million hectares of indigenous forests)

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Depending on the trail conditions the walk is about 2 hours without much elevation. To get there from the town you can simply hitchhike or take a bus from the downtown.

Finally after 2 hours this is what you’ll find!

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Credits: Genius behind the camera Kevin Leverenz

Couch Surfing as a Solo Female Traveler

Every time I travel people usually ask me… How do you do it? (Financially) the first answer that comes out it’s well I use Couchsurfing so I don’t have to pay for accommodation… The questions keep on and on being the most relevant Is it safe?.

I’ve been an active member of CS since 2011 I have hosted back in Venezuela, assisted to meet ups , surfed and never anything bad has happened to me. The only awkward situation I can recall is while traveling in Colombia my host and his girlfriend were giving me signs for a threesome, as soon as I realized it I decided to go for a walk and didn’t come back until midnight.

That is one of the most important things while surfing in CS be aware! Read the references, check all the pictures, read the profile throughoutly, that is what I do. Besides the incident mentioned before nothing else has happened to me I’ve only had good experiences. Actually several people I met through CS are my current friends and we are in constant communication.

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Death Valley with Californian CSurfers

The other day I was reading the article

Couchsurfing’s Sex Secret: It’s The Greatest Hook-Up App Ever Devised

with opinions like “I simply do not know of an easier way for a guy to get laid with exotic women in exotic countries. Long live Couchsurfing!”

Not only that but usually I hear from male couchsurfers things like It’s hard to get a host when you are a guy. Luckily for myself I am a girl and yes is very easy for me to find hosts everytime I travel.

I can also say that nowadays more than before I receive more and more messages from guys saying that they just want to meet up, maybe some of them do, but you can tell their intentions when most of them finish their messages with winky faces (if you know what that means) that is not what CS is about if you want to hook up just download  Tinder, for all those women reading this, do what you feel comfortable with.  If you see something out of place while surfing just keep a plan B like a hostel or a second host. Keep in mind that you don’t need any kind of requirements to become a host in CS. Also culture plays a big role in how your hosts will treat you (Latin America and Western Europe) have given me the best experiences.

This website came out of kindness and connections between travelers sometimes just follow your common sense. There is nothing better than staying in an unknown city with a local, they are the ones who know the best spots and things to do.

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CS meet up in Germany

 

 

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In Argentina with good friends and CSurfers