Last year, I meant to enter the Capture the Color Contest, but I didn’t really have a blog. Or knew enough people to nominate. I chickened out, essentially. But this year, I have a WAY better computer, and TONS of people I can nominate to participate in this kickass photo contest. Capture the Color offers travelers, photographers, and hybrids the chance to show off their favorite red, blue, green, yellow and white-themed photos. The subject matter is pretty open to interpretation, which is cool because it means that everyone can get involved!
Red. In Ghana, it is traditional for young women to wear belly beads. Someone else from your village ties them on for you, and they are only allowed to be taken off once you are married. This photo was taken in the bead market of Accra. The shop girl and I had a great cross-cultural conversation about our female lives. At the end, I asked if I could have her photo against the backdrop of the beads. Her smile is so natural and relaxed. This is probably one of my all-time favorite photos.
Blue. Vienna, Austria is a place where you can simultaneously step back in time, and forward into the future. I think this entry precisely shows that. Everywhere you look in the city, influence from the Hapsburg empire neighbors modern buildings, making this city one of the most architecturally diverse in Europe.
Green. Costa Rica is known for its adventure activities, and some of the best include hanging bridge canopy walks. My boyfriend and I skipped out on the overcrowded Monte Verde site, opting instead for a set of bridges developed by ten local families in the Heliconias rainforest. They were rickety, and swung back and forth, enticing an insane adrenaline rush as we walked above over 100 feet of Costa Rican rainforest. They told us “Don’t look down,” but how could I resist?
Yellow. I visited the Szechenyi Bathhouse of Budapest, Hungary in the dead of winter, when the sun set at 4pm, and piles of snow surrounded the outdoor whirlpools. Yet, the locals were still there, despite the below-zero temperatures. It was warm inside the natural hot spring pools, and you could stay out there for hours as the steam freshened your face against the chill.
White. While volunteering in Žilina, Slovakia, I was assigned to help execute an exhibition commemorating Prague Spring, and the fall of Communism. What is on this wall is everything that happened between 1968 and 1988 – together, my co-photographer Dusan and I went through hundreds of old photos taken during Czechoslovakia’s Communist era. We set up an interactive film of Žilina residents talking about their lives during “The Gray Period,” when moral was low, but hope for a democratic society was high. It’s a side of history people never really get to learn about, unless they talk to someone who lived through it.
There’s still plenty of time to enter the Capture the Color contest! Here is a list of travel bloggers I’d love to see interpret the different color schemes:
- Spencer Spellman (The Traveling Philosopher) – he’s always going to Hawaii where it’s rainbows and sunsets all of the time.
- Miret Padovani (Flânerie Féminine) – her gorgeous photos of food send me into sensory overload!
- Jessica Festa (Jessie on a Journey) – another blogger who travels and has a vested interest in food, she’s got an eye for color and composition.
- Josh Johnson (Joshy Washington) – I LOVE his Instagrams that capture color so well!
- Mickela Mallozzi (Travel Bare Feet) – as a traveling dancer, I’m sure she’s seen her fare share of folk and otherwise costumes that burst with color.
Good luck everyone!
Restauracja Stylowa is anything but a “stylish restaurant,” but it’s the only place to grab a bit in the suburban district of Nowa Huta, just outside Krakow, Poland. I think the owners had opened the place in the 1980s, closed it, and reopened it for our group in 2008 – the interior matched something that might be found on the set of Dallas. Intricately cut mirrored panels, lavender and mint green painted walls, plastic tablecloths, plastic ferns and gaudy gold lame curtains evoked within me a time when Communist big wigs sat around and tried to figure out how they could hold their precious government together in the midst of revolution.
We are the only ones in the place. Our waiter speaks no English. We speak no Polish, but Czech is very similar, and we get by. They don’t have enough food for all of us, so only some people can get pirogis, only some people can get salad. Argentinian steak is listed on the menu, but I doubt it is even available, much less actually from Argentina.
Our waiter places a statue of Vladimir Lenin in the middle of our table. “If you rub his head, he will bring you good luck.” Sort of like a skinnier, more volatile version of Buddha, I suppose. I rub his head furiously while downing my glass of beer. Why not? I need all the luck I can get. In two month’s time, I return to the United States, to an unknown future.
Lenin, hear me out on this.
I’d never been to Harlem until Dana had decided to bunk there during an improv festival in New York City. We were volunteering there, and my shift was at 7:00am. I decided to stay the night with her because waking up and taking the train at 6:30am is a lot easier than waking up at 5:00am to catch a train from Long Island at 6:00am that would probably get me there late anyway.
Harlem is a place where people say you’ll get stabbed for looking at the sidewalk too long. This is white-person speak for “multi-ethnic.” At first I was hesitant to head beyond Columbia University, but then I thought to myself “Honestly, this is New York City, not a slum. There are lights and people everywhere. If I keep my wits about me, I should be fine.”
And it was true – everything was fine. I found Dana’s guesthouse right near the subway, and I was pleasantly surprised – it was an old, turn-of-the-century Brownstone divided into several rooms. Her own lodging had a little kitchenette and a bathroom, and luxurious furnishings, including a settee and a chandelier. I wanted to stay for longer just so that I could take advantage of the spiral staircase, whose stained-class skylight was something to look up to.
In Puerto Vallarta, the horizon goes as far as the eye can see. From ziplining in the Sierra Madre mountains, to jet skiing on the beach, there is always something further to look out at. That’s also the way it felt to vacation in Mexico – always something more to discover, always somewhere new to go, someone new to talk to.
I’m not really one for passive, relaxing vacations. Trips where I’m involved in a lot of things, up from morning until midnight, with itineraries and arrangements made in advance – that’s how I like to travel. Squeeze in as much as I can because who knows when I’ll be back? But vacationing in Puerto Vallarta was different. It felt nice to kick back and lie on the beach with as much alcohol as I wanted. I loved swimming in our private plunge pool and admiring the Mexican landscape. I felt like I was in another world…
Our resort included excursions as well. We took advantage of the sunset cruise out of the harbor. It was a nice, intimate group and the sailing was so much fun. We drank margaritas at sunset and posed for photos. The Bay of Banderas is absolutely stunning and we felt like we were the only boat in the ocean that day. I will never forget that sunset – thank god it didn’t rain!
The icebergs that drift on the shores of Iceland’s black beaches look like diamonds shimmering in the sun. They float downstream into the ocean from the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon on Iceland’s southeastern coast. You’ll find large chunks and small pebble-sized bits that will melt at the touch of your hand.