Go See Do Photography

A Lot of Travel, A Little Bit of History, and a Whole Bunch of Photos

Category: Travel (Page 1 of 17)

Wordless Wednesday: Costa Maya

Wordless Wednesday: Mayan Steps

Exploring the Chacchoben Ruins

While planning our cruise, I knew that I wanted to see some Mayan ruins. Through my research, I learned that that was an option at several ports. I examined the shore options in all the ports and decided the best option was to see the Chacchoben ruins in Costa Maya. This was a short port day for us; the all aboard time was 1:30, so I knew we didn’t want to risk this excursion through an outside company, especially because a lot of the shore excursion companies had the all aboard time as later in the day. Even though it was more expensive, we booked this one through Norwegian. As soon as the ship docked, we were off to meet our bus for our hour long drive to the ruins. This was one of the most popular excursions from Costa Maya and it was great to hear the history of the Mayans from our knowledgable guide, Alejandro.

Chacchoben is Mayan for place of the red corn. The Chacchoben ruins are a fairly recent archeological discovery. Discovered in 1972 when an American archeologist noticed some hills that didn’t fit in with the local landscape. Excavation began in the mid 90’s and the park opened to the public in 2002.

One thing our guide told us is that the Mayan people did not disappear as many people think. If you explore the area the Mayans are still around and the Mayan language can still be heard in the area around the ruins. It is believed that between 1000 AD and about the 1800s there was a draught that it made it impossible for the agrarian Mayan society to continue so the people dispersed and joined the other neighboring communities.

“I recently learned the phrase ‘correlation does not imply causation’. Every time I say ‘Monkey’, someone falls down”. – Alejandro, our tour guide at Chacchoben

Alejandro also explained the Mayan numeral system which made my head hurt. I think they should teach this in school instead of Common Core math. Future generations would have a much greater understanding of math if they could figure that out!

This visit really made me want to explore some more Mayan ruins. I am hoping to return to Mexico some time in the future to explore Chichen Itza or Tulum. Our guide in Belize explained that many of their Mayan ruins are still open for climbing, while many of the Mexican ruins are more protected. He also told us that the old Mayan buildings are some of the tallest buildings in Belize today, which is pretty unbelievable.

Anyway, if you cruise to Costa Maya, I highly recommend taking a tour of Chacchoben. It is great to get a taste of the history and the guides are incredibly knowledgable. Yes, there is a pool and a beach right at the port, it is good to get out an get a taste of Mexico’s history.

Thanks for stopping by! To read more about our cruise, click here. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram, and Flickr! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page. For information about our new Guided Photography Tours, visit GuidedPhoto.com.

Wordless Wednesday: Belize Sign

Harvest Caye: A Day at the Beach

With 4 port days in a row on this cruise, we knew we were going to need a day to just sit back and relax. Harvest Caye, Norwegian’s new private island off the coast of Belize, was the perfect port for that!

Like many private islands, Harvest Caye is full of beach chairs. They also rent kayaks, paddle boards, and small boats that you can take around the lagoon. They also have a zip line that is housed in a lighthouse (above). You can see Macaws and Toucans as well as butterflies and Belizean flora in the nature center. I had never seen a Toucan before so that was pretty cool. They also offer a ferry to mainland Belize (Placencia) for guests to do excursions on their own or arranged through the ship. One way that Harvest Caye is different from Great Stirrup Caye, Norwegian’s other private island in the Bahamas, is that the ship docks at the island so you don’t have to take a tender in. Because of this, you can go back to the ship to get food and drinks. Your ship card does not work on Harvest Caye.

One thing I had heard about Harvest Caye before sailing is to be careful in the beach because jellyfish are prevalent. The purple flag in the photo on the right means dangerous marine life is present, so I stayed out of the water. If you want to avoid jellyfish, Harvest Caye also has a pool. The chairs fill up fast though, so if you want a spot around the pool, get there early. Since we had a $50 per port shore excursion credit, on Harvest Caye we were able to rent a clamshell on the beach for free. It was a nice way to have a designated, shady spot on the beach.

Harvest Caye was very much like what a Caribbean cruise port would look like if it was designed by Americans. Everything was very clean. There were no pushy salespeople. The restaurants are all a part of the Margaritaville brand. There’s nothing wrong with this. Its just very inauthentic. Would I seek out another cruise with a stop at Harvest Caye? Probably not. But, I enjoyed our day here as a way to relax and spend time in the tropical sunshine!

Thanks for stopping by! If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram, and Flickr! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page. For information about our new Guided Photography Tours, visit GuidedPhoto.com.

Wordless Wednesday: River Rocks

Cave Tubing in Belize

While planning our cruise, I was really torn with what to do with our stop in Belize City. All of the options were very outdoorsy or consisted of laying on the beach. I knew we were planning to relax the next day when we were at Harvest Caye, so I really wanted to get out there and explore the Belizean jungle. Cave tubing seemed like the perfect way to do that, so we booked it through ShoreExcursioneer.com to save a little money.

Belize City is a tender port, meaning there is no dock so to get ashore, people have to take smaller boats, called tenders, to take them from the ship to the cruise terminal. For whatever reason, it took a while to get the tenders started but we followed the directions on our ticket and took the first tender off the ship. Once we made it to land we went inside the shopping area, called the tourism village, to meet our tour. We were only the second group in line for our tour when we headed out to the buses.

After a little bit of drama with broken seats and another bus filling up and heading out, we made the hour long drive to the Nohech Che’en Archeological Preserve. During the drive our guide, Barry, told us a lot about the Belizean culture and the economy.

Once we made it, we got our life jackets and helmets and began a short walk through the jungle with many stops along the way to check out the local flora. I was excited to finally get in the water and begin our journey through the caves. Our other guide, Carlos, was handy with the flashlight, pointing out formations in the caves and telling us about the history. The water was moving very slow and frequently our guides had to get out of their tubes and pull us or swim to keep the group moving. It was kind of a strange experience, almost like being pulled by a human horse.

The ancient Mayans believed that the caves were the entrance to the underworld, called Xibalba or Place of Fright (MyBelizeExperience) and after floating through them, it is understandable why they thought that. It was a little eerie! I was glad I had my headlamp to see the cave formations and several bats.

After we got out of the water, they took us back to their office area where they had lunch of beans and rice, a Belizean specialty, waiting for us. Af this point, we were cutting it close to making it back to the port for the last tender. In the end, we made it back 15 minutes early. We didn’t have time to shop like some people were hoping, but I was just glad we didn’t miss the ship!

Overall, I am very glad we did this excursion. It was unlike anything else I’ve ever done! If you are cruising to Belize City, I highly recommend you check it out! To read more about our cruise, click here. Thanks for stopping by! If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram, and Flickr! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page. For information about our new Guided Photography Tours, visit GuidedPhoto.com.

Wordless Wednesday: Cozumel from Breakaway

Cruising Through Spring Break: Cozumel

Docked Punta Langosa pier in Cozumel

After spending a day at sea, we arrived in Cozumel. While it wasn’t my first time in Mexico it was my first time in probably almost 20 years and I was in awe of the turquoise waters. The Bahamas and other Caribbean ports we have visited lately just don’t compare. I was glad that we had planned a snorkeling excursion to spend some time in that beautiful water!

Our excursion left early so shortly after the ship docked, we got off and made our way down the pier to meet our group. It was a short ride to the park and shortly after we arrived, we got in the water. For shore snorkeling, I was surprised at how much we were able to see. We saw a lot of different types of fish and even three stingrays. Honestly, this was some of the best snorkeling we have ever done! It was great!

One thing that surprised me about the NCL excursion was just how organized it was. Even though it was crowded, I was glad we did the snorkeling as a group, because our guides were able to point out things I would have missed otherwise. But, beyond that it was very structured and we didn’t have much time just to relax on the beach.  I really didn’t need the guacamole demonstration. There was the option to stay later but then we would’ve had to get our own transportation back to the ship and it sounded complicated to we opted to just relax back on the ship.

Honestly, I didn’t expect much going to Cozumel but it blew me away. I was expecting it to be like Nassau, but it was much cleaner and there was a nice little shopping area right at the end of the pier. Since we’ve been back, I’ve been trying to figure out how to get back to Mexico and spend time in that amazingly blue water!

Thanks for stopping by! If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram, and Flickr! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page. For information about our new Guided Photography Tours, visit GuidedPhoto.com.

Cruising out of New Orleans

One of the reasons we chose this cruise was because it sailed out of New Orleans, and even though I had been to Louisiana several times, I had never made down to the Big Easy. We only had one day to explore the city and there really is so much to see.

Beignets from Cafe Beignet

We got up early (not early by our standards, but early by NOLA standards) and headed to the French Quarter. The line at Cafe du Monde was already around the block so we decided to try Cafe Beignet instead. The beignets were pretty good, but I didn’t really get the hype. After getting off the ship, we went to the Cafe du Monde in the river walk, which is right by the cruise terminal, and I understand it now. You really have to try them to get it!

Before we left on this trip, we decided that with so little time to explore the city, we wanted to take some kind of guided tour. There was only one tour that I found that took you around the whole city and that was the Hop on Hop off Trolley tour. The tour was very fragmented that day because of various events happening around the city. It wouldn’t have been a big deal if we were going to be there for three days, but with only one day to see the city, it was frustrating that the tour was cut short in the French Quarter because of the St Joseph’s Day parade. Apparently this happens a lot in parade season (January-March) so be prepared for that. The tour that we got was very interesting, talking about the early history of the city, Katrina, and Madrid Gras. Honestly, I’m torn over whether or not to recommend this tour. If you’re visiting outside of parade season or have several days to use your ticket, this may be a good tour for you.

Live Oak at the New Orleans Museum of Art

We also made the trek over to the New Orleans Museum of Art. The museum is located in a beautiful building next to City Park. Their collection is relatively small, but they have a lovely sculpture garden that was beautiful at the end of March. I could’ve spent a lot more time there, but it was under construction.

Everything I read about New Orleans said you don’t have to rent a car in New Orleans. I’m going to take that a step further and say DON’T rent a car in New Orleans. People drive like crazy and the pedestrians are no better! I watched a lady walk in front of a moving bus! It is a very walkable city and there is a good public transit system. Uber and Lyft are all over too so you can watch a professional get frustrated with the traffic. Honestly, I don’t know how they do it.

I will have to return to NOLA another time because there was still so much we didn’t get to see. I wish we would’ve had more time to explore the garden district. I also would’ve liked to check out the a World War II museum. We thought about taking a riverboat ride, but then I realized we were going to be taking a large boat down the river the next day.

Thank you for stopping by! Be sure to come back next year as we board the Breakaway and head south to Mexico! To read more about our trip, click here! If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram, and Flickr! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page. For information about our new Guided Photography Tours, visit GuidedPhoto.com.

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