Places That Make Us Come Alive

Ten of the Best Hole in the Wall Places for Coffee In The World

When I travel I always do four things... visit museums, find farmers' markets to explore, discover a chocolate shop and find great cafe's with good coffee, good people watching, a place where I am not rushed and write in my journal or review my day's photographs on my iPhone.

Here are some of the best coffee places in the world. Some I have visited. Some are on my bucket list. Click links to go to their website or FaceBook page.

1.   When I lived in San Miguel de Allende Mexico, I visited the Inside Cafe 2 or 3 times a week. It's run by a delightful young couple. The coffee shop is on the bottom floor. The restaurant is on the terrace. Look for the turquoise door. FYI you have to climb stairs to get inside.

2.   Padaria Sao Roque, Lisbon Spain, is always mentioned in the best of Lisbon sites as a beautiful pastelaria with great cappuccinos and espressos. It looks absolutely gorgeous.

3.  Cafe Portrait is located outside of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh Scotland. They serve coffee, hot chocolate, tea and an assortment of tarts, scones and biscuits. Portraits are hung on the walls.

4.   Caffè Florian in Venice opened its doors in 1720. Most tourists sit outside in the piazza to watch the Venetian world go by, although the atmosphere inside is a must see and perfect for chilly days.

5.   Cafè La Habana, Mexico City Mexico has been around since 1952. Rumor has it that this is where Fidel Castro and Che Guevara planned the Cuban Revolution and where exiled Colombian author Gabriel García Márquez wrote some of his 1967 novel One Hundred Years of Solitude. 

6.   New York City's Caffe Reggio's claim to fame is to be the original cappuccino bar in the United States. Located in Greenwich Village, this classic cafe has been open since 1927.

Ten of the Best Farmers' Markets in the World

Whenever I travel I always make a point of asking if there is a farmers' market nearby. Photographing food markets is one of my favorite pastimes. I like to get up early to watch the vendors carefully  display their produce and to see the market come alive. 

Not only do I get mouth watering photographs, but I have fruit, vegetables, cheese, freshly baked bread and flowers to take back to my hotel room.

I have been to farmers' markets all over the world, including Cuba, France and Brazil. There is something unifying about them. They are all different and yet all the same... women walking along with their market baskets, neighbors greeting neighbors, flowers alongside produce, happy friendly faces.

Note because of COVID-19 hours and openings are currently changed.

Here are ten of the world's best. I haven't been to all of them but they are on my must see list.

1.  Ferry Plaza Farmers Market - San Francisco, California
     I would often go here on Saturdays when I lived in San Francisco. It is also where many of the city's best chefs shop. Tuesdays and Thursdays 10 - 2, Saturday 8 - 2.

2.  Marche Bastille -  Paris, France
     This popular market is open on Tuesdays 7 - 2:30 and Sundays 7 - 3. There are over 100 food stalls and is a good source for local cheeses, fish, fruit, crepes and olives. On Saturdays the stalls are taken over by artists. I loved visiting the markets of Southern France, but the Marché is a real treat.

3.  Rialto Market - Venice, Italy
     Near the north-west base of the Rialto Bridge, this market has been around for seven centuries. It is filled with seasonal food including peaches, cherries, baby artichokes, white asparagus and fish. It is a great place to stock up for a picnic and is open daily except Sundays and Mondays 7:30 - noon.

4.  Vero - O - Peso - Belém, Brazil
     This market, located along the Guajará Bay, is a great adventure. I went there before heading up the Amazon River. Vero - O - Peso is the largest outdoor market in Latin America. It is known for its fish, exotic fruits including açaí berries and medicinal herbs from the Amazon. Helps to have a Portuguese speaking guide along. 

5.  La Boqueria Market - Barcelona Spain
     This is also on my must visit list. This indoor market dates back to the 1200s. It is open Monday - Saturday 8 am to 8:30 pm (although some stalls shut down as early as 2:00). La Boqueria has fruits, vegetables, ham, fish, chocolates, flowers, olives, cheese, empanadas, fruit juice and more. It even has tapas bars for Catalan dishes and drinks. Arrive early if you don't like crowds.

6.  Pike Place Farmers' Market - Seattle, Washington
     I love this market. Opened in 1907, the market overlooks the Elliott Bay waterfront. It is actually five markets. You can taste local Washington apples and peaches. There are also bars with local beers and fish tossing. Open daily except Friday 9 - 6. And Pike Place is the home of the original Starbucks.

7.  Borough Market -  London, England
     Located on the southern end of the London Bridge, the Borough Market was first mentioned in 1276 but is believed to date back to 1014. This market is known for its paella, pastries, spices, bread, fresh produce and other gourmet items. You can even get glasses of prosecco. The retail part of the market is open Monday to Thursday 10 am - 5 pm, Fridays 10 am to 6 and Saturdays 8 am to 5 pm. The wholesale market is open weekdays from 2 am to 8 am.

8.  Edinburgh Farmers' Market - Edinburgh, Scotland
     Once the COVID-19 sheltering in place is over, I hope to visit Ireland and Scotland. The Edinburgh Farmers' Market is on my "must see while in Scotland" list. Now closed because of the virus, it is usually open all year round from 10 am to 2 pm on Saturdays. Known for its beef, chutneys, cheese, freshly baked bread, homemade chocolates and organic beers, this market is located "under the backdrop" of Edinburgh Castle.

9.  St Lawrence Market - Toronto, Canada
     Named the best food market in the world by National Geographic in 2012, the St. Lawrence Market has been a Toronto institution since 1803. The three main buildings sell fresh produce, baked goods, spices, prepared foods, seafood, chocolates and handmade mustards. The market is open daily except Sundays and Mondays. An antique market runs on Sundays.

10. Amphawa Floating Market - Near Bangkok, Thailand
      As a photographer I have always wanted to photograph a floating farmers' market. The Amphawa floating market is often referred to as one of the most authentic, in the many reviews I have read. This small village is 50 km from Bangkok and dates back to the mid 17th century. The wooden boats are known for their freshly grilled seafood and noodles. Along the river there are also restaurants and small shops selling souvenirs and ice cream. Get there early.

Ten of the Most Beautiful Gardens in the World

So are you wanting to buy a ticket to someplace wonderful once you can leave your house and get on an airplane? Well here is my list of ten of the world's most gorgeous public gardens. I could have listed many many more (and actually did mention an 11th because I could not leave it out.) But this will get us started on our wish list. 
Click to see the list... with links to the gardens websites. Many are closed now but have virtual tours.

The Rainbow Atlas

Do you love color? Do you love to travel?

I bought the book The Rainbow Atlas: a Guide to the World's 500 Most Colorful Places, in the hopeful belief that someday we will be able to leave our homes and once again travel. 

Since moving to Mexico I have a whole new relationship with color. I love having it all around me. The Rainbow Atlas feeds that craving. It does not disappoint. Seven bloggers contribute stories of their most colorful travel experiences.

"The entries in this book are arranged by longitude, starting in Alaska and traveling around the globe to New Zealand." Each entry includes a colorful photograph and recommends the best time of the year to visit for the best weather and the most color. The bloggers cover what's most colorful in the world in nature, urban art, festivals, built environments, leisure and culture and places of worship.

The entries are brief, (there are 500 after all) but contain just enough information to pique your interest and inspire you to once again want to get on an airplane.

So what's on my wishlist from this book? There's a lot, but here are my top ten.

#8 BLOOM, The Abbotsford Tulip Festival in Abbotsford Canada, where you can meander through 2.5 million tulips.

#10 Chihuly Garden and Glass in Seattle Washington, U.S. This has been on my travel list for awhile now. This is the 1 ½ acre  indoor/outdoor exhibition of glass-artist Dale Chihuly.

#35 Guanajuato, Mexico where colorful homes cover the hills.

#36 Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque New Mexico, U.S. This is the largest hot air balloon festival in the world.

#40 Trajineras, Xochimilco, Mexico CIty, Mexico. Xochimilco is a borough south of Mexico City with an extensive canal system. The trajineras are colorful flat bottom boats that travel the canals.

#61 Isla Mujeres, Quintana Roo Mexico. This is a 4.3 mile, quiet island filled with colorful homes and shops.

#62 Northern Lights, Nunavut Canada. Seeing the northern lights has been on my wish list for a long time.

#172 Kelburn Castle, Glasgow Scotland. An old castle nestled in the Scottish woods painted by four Brazilian graffiti artists.

#173 Hidden Lane, Glasgow Scotland. A "charming little lane painted in every color of the rainbow" and home to artists, designers and musicians' studios.

#178 Victoria Street, Edinburgh, Scotland - the inspiration for the Harry Potter novels.

The Rainbow Atlas is a wonderful gift for yourself, for your mom for Mothers Day, for a recent graduate or just for a friend that is sheltering at home and is missing being out and about in the world.