San Antonio and the Missions

An angel fixture at Mission San Jose in San Antonio

An angel fixture at Mission San Jose in San Antonio

For 4th of July weekend this year I took a road trip to San Antonio and Austin. The weather was incredible and I had a lot of fun driving through the Texan farmland. I went to San Antonio first and visited the Alamo and other missions, all of which encompass a UNESCO world heritage site. The architecture is incredible and entrance is free to all the sites.

In addition to the Missions, San Antonio has amazing Mexican food and crafts centers. It was definitely worth the detour on my way to Austin to spend an afternoon there.

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Historic Ross, Tasmania

Ross Bridge at sunset

Ross Bridge at sunset

I took a pretty big detour to head up to Ross, which is nearly in the middle of Tasmania. I had seen pictures of the famous convict-built bridge and wanted to see it. I definitely wasn’t disappointed. The tiny town (pop. 272) feels completely different from anywhere else I’d been in Tassie and there is loads of history to see. I stayed at the Man O’Ross hotel, which was built in 1825, and it definitely added to the atmosphere.

The bridge is certainly a highlight of the town. It was built in 1836 with excellent craftsmanship and intricate carvings. There are also lovely churches and bakeries.

On my way back to Hobart I stopped at Oatlands, which is home to the Callington Mill. Built in 1837, the mill is still operational today and is the only tower mill of its kind in the southern hemisphere.

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Melbourne: A Photo Essay

The iconic Flinders Street train station in Melbourne's CBD

The iconic Flinders Street train station in Melbourne’s CBD

I have spent the past month in Melbourne, the capital of Victoria. I wanted to begin my year in Australia here because I had heard so many amazing things about the city – how it embraces culture and the arts, the booming street art scene, great food, lots of neighborhoods to explore, a young demographic because of all the universities. I certainly haven’t been disappointed.

One of the best things to do in Melbourne is to visit museums. Nearly all the museums in town have free admittance to their permanent exhibitions: the National Gallery of Victoria, the Australian Center for Moving Images, the Grainger Museum, the State Library of Victoria. You could fill days and days just museum hopping and not spend a penny!

Another highlight of Melbourne is all of the gardens – acres and acres of well tended trees and flowers to explore. There are free tours in both the Fitzroy Gardens and the Royal Botanic Gardens, or you can just wander on your own. There are also free walking tours with I’m Free, which is a great way to get introduced to the history of the city and its layout.

There are still so many things left to do in Melbourne – visit the Victoria Market, explore Footscray and other outlying suburbs, go hiking out at the Dandenongs. I could definitely see myself living here for several more months, and perhaps after I get some travel out of my system I’ll come back!

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Photo Essay: Santiago, Chile

An old theater in Barrio Brasil

An old theater in Barrio Brasil

I spent over a week in Santiago and enjoyed it much more than I thought I would. I had heard from other travelers that the city was terribly boring, crowded, and polluted, but found only the latter to be true. The past ten years – as the country has continued to recover from Pinochet’s regime – has brought a cultural resurgence to the capital city and there is tons to see, do, and eat.

If you go, definitely take advantage of the free walking tours from three companies: Free Tours Santiago, Tours 4 Tips, and Spicy Chile.  I took one walking tour with each and they were all informative and enjoyable.

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