The end of 2012 is rapidly approaching. On top of that, the second anniversary of Tanama Tales is around the corner. What better way to celebrate than remembering some of the best adventures of these past two years?
Today, I bring you a recount of the Top Charming Cities and Towns we have visited.
Not every day you walk into a town where residents are wearing traditional clothing (huipiles), carrying goods in carts and speaking the language used in the area before the Spaniards arrived. In addition, Valladolid is full of colorful buildings and old monasteries. It is located between Merida and Cancun and it is the perfect place to stay if you want to arrive to Chichen Itza in the early morning.
It doesn’t make any sense to find a Danish town in a Californian wine region. In 1911, a group of Danes founded Solvang in the Sata Ynez Valley in an attempt to escape the Midwestern harsh winters. The buildings in town where constructed in a “Danish Provincial Style.” Windmills, replicas of Danish symbols and pastry shops are also part of the character of the town. There are plenty of things to do in the area. Remember to visit the San Ynez Mission and the ostrich farm.
Tlaxcala is the smallest state of Mexico. The capital of the same name is so sleepy that most businesses are closed by 8:00 p.m. The place gets livelier during the weekends when visitors from the Federal District flock in mass. Anyhow, the city shelters a beautiful historical center and great restaurants. The ruins located close to the capital (Cacaxtla) are worth a visit too.
What can I say about Puebla? The city really surprised me and I want to go back so bad. Puebla is a city of contrasts. On one side, it has a huge historic center with about 5,000 catalogued buildings. On the other side, it is the fourth largest metropolitan area in Mexico. I don’t know how they do it but they have a marvelous way to balance old and new, classic and modern. Puebla has gotten a lot of international publicity this year. So, what are you waiting to visit?
Ataco, El Salvador
The small town of Concepcion de Ataco is located in the western mountainous area of El Salvador. Some years ago, residents gave the town a total facelift in order to enter a contest designed to pick the most picturesque towns in the country. Their effort paid out because the town has been flooded with colorful murals, restaurants serving international food, craft shops and coffee sellers. It is hands down my favorite town in El Salvador.
Casco Viejo, Panama
Panama City has a convoluted story. Its first settlement was destroyed by corsair Henry Morgan. That ruined part of town is known as Panama La Vieja. After the defeat, the Spaniards built the town again but in the area known as Casco Viejo. This is where the colonial buildings are located nowadays. Then, there is the latest incarnation of the city that resembles a little New York City in Central America. Anyway, visit Casco Viejo to get the maximum charm factor. Visit the other two Panama’s too if you have time.
Rio de Janeiro gets all the glory and I understand why. The natural setting of the city is just gorgeous. However, if you want to enjoy the beauty of Brazil at more affordable prices, head to Parati. The city not only has a historic center free of cars. The bay where the place is located is surrounded by 65 islands. Plus, a mountain range full of wildlife and waterfalls is easily accessed from town. I can’t think about Parati without smiling.
I still have a lot to write about Oaxaca. So, you will have to trust me on this one. It has become my favorite city in Mexico. It is impossible not to get soaked in its markets, archeological areas, food, buildings and lively plazas.
Many like to call Antigua “Little America.” They affirm the city has been negatively affected by the high number of expatriates who call it home. But you know, that is not the feeling I got when I visited. Since the shuttle from Guatemala City left at the main plaza, I felt attracted to the city. I saw too many beautiful sights. I talked to too many lovely people. The lady attending the hotel was so nice. I have saved all this experiences in my heart and this why Antigua is almost at the top of my list.
The post about Luzhi, a water town located close to Shanghai, caused sensation when I published it. People were surprised because of the waterways, stone bridges and trees in different color shades. It is like time stopped for the people living in the town.
What is your favorite city? Let me know in the comments section below.