Through My Lens

Exploring the World Through Photography

Park Güell In Barcelona, Spain: Attractions you Should See

In the Northern part of one of my favorite European cities, sits the  strange and beautiful Park Guell, the brainchild of famed Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi. While Barcelona itself is…

In the Northern part of one of my favorite European cities, sits the  strange and beautiful Park Guell, the brainchild of famed Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi.

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While Barcelona itself is pretty much Antoni Gaudi’s city, his crowning achievements are Park Guell and Sagrada Familia. Park Guell was built between 1900 – 1912 after Guadi bought a house in the failed housing development and started to create works on the land. The house he lived in for 2o years is now the Guadi House Museum, as for the park, here are the sites you must see.

  • Cost – 8 Euro

The Gate Houses (Porter’s Lodge Pavilions)

Barcelona

The first thing you will see as you as you enter are the two crazy looking buildings that sit on either side of the entrance. I often liken them to those of your favorite childhood stories with their free-flowing roofs and palette of colors and styles. One is also a lot taller since it has a massive spire with a cross on the top.

The Dragon

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This very popular piece, right as you walk through the entrance, is known as “el drac” (the dragon) and is a unique fountain that greets the visitors while they walk up the stairway. It is heavily watched by guards after it was vandalized a decade ago and they will even yell at you if you take to long posing for your picture to “move along.” It is a great spot for a photo opp though and you will see this famous piece in tourist shops all over Barcelona.

Hypostyle Room

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Right under the nature square is the Hypostyle Room, complete with 84 stone columns and a meticulously decorated ceiling. It is a good place to escape the heat or just to wander around while looking up at the ceiling. This room also funnels rainwater down to an underground tank and the excess water is what comes out of the dragons mouth.

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Nature Square

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One of the main attractions in this park is that of the Nature Square. This large dirt field sits atop the Hypostyle Room and provides an excellent vista point of the gate houses and the city below. It was designed to house concerts and other events but that has never really happened. It also features an exceptionally long sea serpent bench that extends around the entire interior and provides a place to sit and bask in the beauty and colors of the inlaid stones.

The Birds Nests

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These rock and clay sculptures look much like the bird’s nest you would see in a common tree, yet they are 10 times the size. I was also told that they are designed to look like the trees that were planted in them, a collection of shrubberies and palm trees and you can see the resemblance.

The Laundry Room

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This walkway, called the laundry room, which leads to another set of gardens is designed to look like a wave slanting out on top of the columns. It is a great place for a stroll and to understand a little more on the architecture of the area.

The Austria Gardens

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One of my favorite spots in the park, this collection of gardens are lush and overflowing with plant life. From here you can see the clay and stone walkways that will lead you up to the top of the park. I love the way these look, they are perfect for photography. The stones that make up the columns were taken from the site itself when they were built.

So there you have it, my favorite spots in the park, let me know yours in the comments and check out the pictures below.

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New Navajo Falls in Havasupai, Arizona

In the upper part of Arizona, just outside of Grand Canyon National Park, sits an Indian Reservation that houses some of the best waterfalls the world has to offer. They…

In the upper part of Arizona, just outside of Grand Canyon National Park, sits an Indian Reservation that houses some of the best waterfalls the world has to offer. They are only accessed by an 8 mile hike down from the canyon walls into the small reservation (the last place in the United States that still sends mail via horse) and you must have a permit to make the hike. There are a series of four waterfalls on this trail and the first that you will get to is arguably my favorite, New Navajo Falls. It has two distinct sections, Upper and Lower Navajo Falls.

Upper Navajo Falls

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When walking the main trail to the campground you will want to watch for a spur about 1.5 miles from the town. This is the spur that leads to upper New Navajo Falls and since it is easy to miss it is often less crowded then the other falls.

Navajo Falls

This waterfall looked a lot different before a flood came through the canyon and made it into what it is now only a decade ago.It is now is a 150 foot wide majestic falls that cascades over jutting rocks and fills pools of all sizes at its base. To this day it is one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. You can swim in its water, head under some parts of the falls to find little caves, and just bask in the beauty that it creates for days without getting tired of it. The blue-green water that flows from it is a marvel in and of itself.

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Lower Navajo Falls

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About a forth of a mile down from New Navajo falls is lower Navajo Falls. While not as striking at its brethren, this waterfall houses a secretive back area that you can swim up to and climb into. It is a perfect place to watch the crazies cliff jump from above, as this is a popular cliff jumping spot, or to just find some peace and serenity while indulging in the sound of the water as it careens into the pools below.

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You can see how far the two falls are from each other in the picture below. Be sure that if you make the trek in that you get a campsite or a room at the lodge as you want to make sure you have time to see these falls plus the other three.

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This place must be seen to be believed and is one of my favorite places in the United States. Check out the other waterfalls here and make sure to leave a comment.

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Grey Whale Migration off the Coast of Cabo San Lucas & How to See it

If you travel to the tip of the Baja Peninsula from the months of December to March you really cannot leave without experience one of the most amazing sea life…

If you travel to the tip of the Baja Peninsula from the months of December to March you really cannot leave without experience one of the most amazing sea life migrations on the planet. Just standing on the cliffs in Cabo allows you to see whales multiple times per day out in the big blue ocean. However, if you are looking to really experience it you must do it up close, and here are the details.

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Boat or Catamaran

The two main ways people get out to see the whales are from small speedboats or large catamarans. The catamarans are usually cheaper and often come with free booze but if you are looking for the best experience, a boat is the way to go.

There are many companies that will set you up with a tour, but I like to just head down to the marina and book with someone right there on the docks, the water taxis can be had for a lot cheaper, are faster and are committed to providing a good time in hopes of a good tip (if you have fun make sure to tip). I booked a two-hour trip in the marina for about 40 dollars USA and had an amazing experience.

On the Boat

If you book with a taxi or some of the other small companies on the marina you can also get them to take you out to Lands End on the way to see the whales. Here are some of our stops, all of which I recommend and seeing them only takes about 15 minutes off your trip time.

Lovers Beach

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Pelican Rock

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The Arch

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Sea Lion Rock

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Lands End

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After seeing all of these spots you will proceed out to where all the boats are congregating (usually means there is a whale). When we arrived there was one coming up and down who was surrounding by 8 small boats and a catamaran.

Grey Whales Cabo 1

I talked to our water taxi driver and asked if we could go explore and find our own without having to battle the 8 boats so off we went.

It was the best decision we made as after 15 minutes of full bore boating we came across a whale all by ourself. This was amazing as he breached multiple times and even slammed his tail.

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After following along we came across two more whales and the invigorating  continued. There were whales coming out of the water, tails smacking and the collection of 4 boats that were now around us all got an amazing experience. After just watching and taking it all in for a good 30 minutes, seeing at least 5 to 6 gentle giants, our taxi driver said “bye bye whalies” and we were on our way back.

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If you are in Cabo San Lucas when the whale migration is happening you have to check it out, you wont regret it (assuming you see whales). Make sure to leave a comment if you have suggestions.

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Glass Palace (Palacio de Cristal) in Madrid, Spain

This beautiful structure, located in the South side of the Buen Retiro Park in Madrid is one of my favorite sites I saw in the famed city. It is nestled…

This beautiful structure, located in the South side of the Buen Retiro Park in Madrid is one of my favorite sites I saw in the famed city. It is nestled in between massive oak tress across a green pond with a fountain and every angle you look at it from shows you something new. The glass palace is made mostly of glass with the foundation and framework from a strong iron. It is a sight to behold and one that you will have a hard to finding anywhere else in the world on this scale.

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The history of this building is that it was constructed in 1887 from a design created by Ricardo Velazquez Bosco and erected to be a home for plants from the Philippines during an exhibition that was taking place in this massive park right. The palace was built so that it could be relocated but that has never happened and it still stands in the same place today.

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When I was there I marveled at how well maintained and beautiful it was as well as how much work it must take to clean. There is nothing actually inside of the palace now but a blank floor and a small staircase to a bathroom. However they do have art exhibits that are shown in the palace. When I was there an art exhibit was going on that took colored circles and placed them in the palace. This neither added nor took away from the charm for me.

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One thing I didn’t consider before going there was all of the birds that would be trapped inside. As you can imagine, if a bird flies in it has a really hard time getting out as everything looks like an exit to them, so I heard many birds flying around the top of the palace.

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This location is free and is a must visit in Madrid, as is the entire park in which it is a part of. Please leave a comment below with your thoughts.

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Guide to Exploring the Havasupai Waterfalls: Hiking, Camping & Exploring

With the new year already begun, it seems like summer will be here before we know it. Lots of people I know are already trying to plan their trips for…

With the new year already begun, it seems like summer will be here before we know it. Lots of people I know are already trying to plan their trips for the year and a lot of them are asking me about our trip to Havasupai last year. You can see a big list of posts and links you should check out at the end and hopefully this post answers your questions on this amazing trip.

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Permits & Registration

First up is the not fun stuff, permits and registration.This is always subject to change, but here is how it went when we booked the trip last year.

Lodge

If you are looking to book your stay at the lodge then you will need to call at least a couple months before to get a spot. I called around the middle of February and was able to secure the weekend I wanted in the middle of June, but I would say to call as soon as you know, they don’t always take reservations that early but will tell you when to call back. The lodge is about a mile from the first waterfall so you will have to walk at least a mile each way, but you are in the small town so you can easily get food and supplies.

Lodge Costs and Info

Camping

The same is true for the campground, if you know when you are going then just call and secure the spot. Understand that this is not a tourism board, there is the chance you will have to call multiple times before someone picks up sometimes. Be patient and be prepared to pay for at least some of the charge upfront. The campground is about a mile and a half from the town so about 9 miles from the trail head. It is between Havasu and Mooney falls in an amazing area, but the walk is a lot longer to get food at the small store so be prepared.

Camping Costs and Info

Hotel the Night Before

There is really not a lot of close options for staying near the trail head the night before your hike starts. I would recommend Peach Springs which is the closest to the trail head but is still about 65 miles away. Google Maps will tell you that it is 2-3 hours drive from here but when we went the road was a two lane highway and it was in good shape so that drive took a lot less then we had planned.

Here is a link to the Hualapai Lodge that we stayed at.

Also there is not a lot in Peach Springs so don’t assume you will be able to get coffee or gas if you leave early in the morning as a lot of places are not open.

Getting to Supai

Hiking

So now you have your reservation, have a hotel for the night before, now you need to think about getting to Supai. This little town, down in the Grand Canyon is located about 7 miles from the trail head. It is not to hard on the way down as you will drop about 3,000 feet of elevation but on the way back up it can be brutal, especially during the summer if it is hot, so plan accordingly for your own personal hiking time. We ended up leaving at 4:30 from the lodge to get out before the sun and the campground is an extra mile and a half past the lodge so you may need to leave even earlier.

Mules and Helicopter

If hiking is not your thing you can still get to Supai via other means. There is a helicopter ride available and horses or mules that you can rent for yourself or for your gear. I do not have a ton of information about these as I did not use either but I know they are available as I heard the helicopter and watched it land in the city many times each day.

Here is some info

Food & Postcards

I would recommend that you bring a decent amount of snacks for the hiking and for your time at the falls even if you are staying at the lodge. You would not want to miss when the store is open and end up with no food. With that being said there is a small restaurant that has everything from hamburgers to burritos and is decent food. There are also two small stores that sell everything from water to snacks, so there is a lot available for you in that regard. If you are camping though the walk to the town is about a mile and a half each way so you would be better off to bring your own food. From the lodge the walk is less then 5 minutes.

When you are in the town make sure to mail yourself a postcard as this is the only remaining place in the United States that still sends mail by mule out of the canyon so it is a fun souvenir.

Waterfalls

So now that you have made it to Supai you are ready to play in the waterfalls, which are even more amazing in person then they are in photos. It literally is one of the most amazing things I have ever seen. Here is a little info on each, in the order you will see them.

New Navajo Falls

Navajo Falls

  • Least busy of the falls
  • Two falls, upper and lower
  • Lots of people cliff jump off the lower but be careful as this is not recommended
  • Read my post

Havasu Falls

The most photographed and a beautiful and intense waterfall that splashes into pristine blue water.

Havasu Falls 1

Mooney Falls

The tallest of the falls, this one is pretty breathtaking but do not underestimate the walk down.

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  • Requires climbing to reach the bottom on a pretty intense slope
  • Can continue down the water to see other falls and beautiful areas
  • Read the post here

Here is a video on the descent.

Best Time to Go

As we said above this is Arizona so the summertime can be VERY hot. Of course that is great for when you are at the waterfalls but it if you are hiking in or out during the afternoon it can be pretty rough. May or June are usually good months to go as it should still be warm but not hot like July and August.

Hopefully this post sets you on the right path for your own trip down here. If you have more questions please let us know. Lastly, make sure to respect the people and the culture of Supai when you are there.

Resources List

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