Discover Utah of United States

Hey guys, I am finally back with new places and spaces for you to discover.

While recently visiting a friend in Los Angeles I wanted to do something different. My friend and I deciding to go somewhere off the beaten track hopped on a plane and headed to Utah to see what the state had to offer. Here were our highlights...

Salt Lake City

The capital and economic centre of Utah, Salt Lake City is one of the most intriguing cities in the US. Located in the middle of a vast desert that is hot in summer and cold in the winter, with few natural elements to curb the biting wind, it is a city of extremes both in climate and culture.

Salt Lake city is home to the Latter Day Saints, LDS for short and formerly known as Mormons, as well as entrepreneurs and professionals who are moving to more affordable American cities with more opportunities. Salt Lake City has thriving Latin and Asian communities and welcomes visitors from around the US who come to their state to ski in towns like Park City.

The wide avenues of Salt Lake City - so wide you can fit two smaller streets within them - were flanked by expensive car dealership and tattoo parlours. Utah State Capitol on a hill overlooking the city, the church on Temple Square, the grand hotels and vast government buildings of glass reminded me of Washington DC. I had the impression that Salt Lake City wanted to be considered a capital city of sorts.


Temple Square

The centre of the faith of the Latter Day Saints, Temple Square is in downtown Salt Lake City. It is a pristine and beautiful area where tours of are given on the hour by members of the Church or LDS. We were taken through the grounds of the square, visiting the Tabernacle with its vast organ and seeing the Assembly Hall. The one place we could not visit was the Temple with its 177 rooms. To enter it even members of the Church of LDS need a recommendation from their bishop that is valid for two years.


West Wendover, the Salt Flats and the Great Salt Lake

We drove the hour and a half each way to see the salt flat. When we got there we discovered that the salt flats were covered in water due to recent rain. Even though we could not walk on them, the views and reflections of the mountains were spectacular. It was a typical American scene: vast, seemingly endless flatlands that surrounded us in every direction.

The salt flats are located at the very edge of Utah and so we drove 10 minutes to West Wendover in the neighbouring state of Nevada. It felt like a frontier town and was filled with casinos, which are illegal in Utah. We stopped at the obligatory landmarks of Wendover Will, a huge statue of a cowboy that is lit up by neon lights at night and the border demarcating the states of Utah and Nevada.

We drove back to Salt Lake City along the Great Salt Lake, taking in the mountains as dusk fell. We made one wrong turn and ended up on a mountain peak and discovered it to be full of horses grazing. They were friendly and approached us, thinking we were there to feed them.


Ogden

An hour’s drive north of Salt Lake City, along the Great Salt Lake, is Ogden which is perhaps Utah’s hipster city. It’s main street, called 25th Street, leads to the city’s train station and the museums within and around it. 25th Street is filled with quirky cafes, restaurants and shops. One particular shop sold just socks which seemed bizarre to me until I realised that out-of-towners come to Ogden to ski and need warm socks. It was so cold in fact, that even I stocked up on warm socks. We found ate beignets (fried dough, powdered sugar, with blueberry lavender jam) at ‘A Pig and a Jelly Jar’ and browsed through the bookshop ‘Booked on 25th’.


Park City

The vibe of Park City is completely different from Salt Lake City which feels more religious and business-like, and Odgen which is very hipster. Park City is a home away from home for the trendy, out-of-towners, who fly in for long weekends of skiing. Just over a 30-minute drive east of Salt Lake City, Park City hosted the 2002 Winter Olympics and the large chalets and state-of-the-art pistes prove that there is world-level ski culture there.

Even though it was mid-March, in Park City it felt like it was mid-December. It was bright and sunny and snowed over, perfect for skiing or drinking champagne or mulled wine outdoors with friends in trendy restaurants… that is if people weren’t skiing.

The branding for Park City was everywhere; on t-shirts and bumper stickers, on mugs and on posters. Walking around town, we weaved our way through coffee shops, art galleries, posh souvenir shops and restaurant where east coast Americans came to party at 3pm on a Friday afternoon with long lunches before hitting the slopes.

Urban Stripes: An architectural 'oasis' in Athens

The area ‘Koukaki’ has been named as one of the most ‘‘cool’’ areas of Athens. In the same area two major architectural modernistic build examples exist. The first is the Fix building by Takis Zenetos and the new museum of Acropolis by Tchumi. Now has one more reason for its -trendy- tittle.

Urban stripes has been an architectural ‘oasis’ in the grey of Athens.

Klab Architects have used elements of both statements buildings of the area to produce a new facade for an apartment building. The generic typology of a "polykatoikia" facade that exist in linearity of their balconies and the same position of the windows in every floor comes in severe conflict with the seemingly randomness of the linearity of the windows that create the facade.

Best of Bali


Bali and the Balinese

Upon exiting the airport the first thing I heard was the Muslim Call to Prayer. It was Ramadan and the Mosque near the Bali’s principle airport was calling out to all devout Muslims. Though Indonesia is predominantly Muslim, (and is the world’s most populous Muslim country), Bali is different, with only 10% of Bali being Muslim and the 90% being Hindu.

The island is dotted with Hindu Temples and small shrines along the road. I am not exaggerating by writing that there are Temples everywhere: next to garages, on the roof of people’s homes, squashed between souvenir shops and hotels or taking up blocks and blocks of the city.

For such a small space there are different vibes to Bali. Denpasar is the hustling and bustling capital city. Kuta is a party town. Ubud is the cultural capital and the north of the island feels more remote with mountainous and lakes… and Temples!

Denpasar Museum

Denpasar is the capital of Bali. Most tourists choose to bypass the city for the hotel resorts, the parties of Kuta or the culture or Ubud. But not to be missed is the Denpasar Museum; a gem of a building located in the centre of the city.

There, you can learn about the kingdoms of Bali and the island’s culture and heritage. There is a stunning room of gold and bright light that displayed the various Balinese traditional dresses. By making our way through the courtyards we could not help but take a few snaps of a newlywed couple; the bride’s train seemingly taking up a large part of the garden.

Religion

As mentioned, Bali is overwhelmingly Hindu with Temples dotted everywhere. Stopping near one Temple was an exhibition; mostly for tourists it seemed; where for a dollar, we could see a pantheon on Hindu gods. Some were truly terrifying, while others were warrior gods fighting demons. I found myself asking ‘is he good or bad?’ to which the guide indulged my questions.

The Monkey Forest

True story: While we were in the Monkey Forest, a monkey jumped on my partner’s backpack. A small crowd had gathered, watching as a tall Norwegian tolerated a monkey hanging onto his bag. The monkey took the bottle of water and drank it. As we oohed and aahed the cute monkey then opened the front zip of the backpack, reach inside and take the hand-sanitizer. It then proceeded to bite into it.

‘But it is full of chemicals’ I said becoming concerned that the monkey might be harmed. I picked up the empty water bottle and tried to goad the monkey into trading it over for the water bottle. The monkey hissed at me, which roused the attention of a larger monkey that ran up to me and confronted me by baring its teeth.

Afraid, I walked away briskly only for them to chase me. I broke into a run and so did they.

‘Stop. No! Stop!’ I said, actually speaking to the monkeys. They hissed at me, ready to pounce. I ran away as tourists watched. Eventually they stopped chasing me.

‘You did everything you shouldn’t have done’ my partner said. ‘You pointed at the monkey. You looked it in the eyes and you ran away. Plus you shouted at it! Big mistake.’

‘You’re right. I shouldn’t have shouted. It probably does not understand English.’

Uluwatu Temple

‘Pura’ means Temple. ‘Ulu’ means edge and ‘Watu’ means rock or cliff, so Pura Uluwatu literally means the Temple at the Edge of the Cliff. The complex of Uluwatu, located on the southern tip of the island, has a number of Temples, clusters of copses and balconies that overlook the Indian Ocean. Like the Monkey Forest there are monkeys there too, which have a tendency to snatch people’s water bottles and trendy sunglasses. It is one of the major points of interests in Bali and not to be missed.

Must see:

The Rice Paddies: if you’re driving in the countryside stop when you see them, although they keep getting better and more beautiful.


Tanah Lot: a Temple by the sea. The rock, on which the Temple is built, has been eroded by the sea leading it to become an arch.


Ulun Danu Beratan Temple: located on a lake in the mountainous north of the island.

Note to Travellers

Bali is a stunning and unique place. You will find so much in such a small space and there is something that appeals to everyone; adventure tours, Temples, cultures, parties and international and local cuisine. But since there is something for everyone, everyone wants to visit Bali.

In addition to the 2.5 million Balinese on the island there are lots of tourists such as; partying Australians, French backpackers, Brits on a gap year, yoga enthusiasts always in their yoga pants, Indian families on a cultural tour, Chinese tourists getting on and off buses with their selfie-sticks, and I even spotted a party of beautiful Korean models and soap-stars who made too way much noise chatting and shouting at lunch.

Therefore since everything is so close and since everyone is there, there is traffic. Be organised with your time and plan ahead, starting early will not only allow you to avoid the crowds but see and do much more.

In Barcelona with El_Isleño

Architect and model Valandis Kallis can’t get enough of Barcelona. The spicy Greek Cypriot lad is 'falling in love' with travelling every summer, and here he reveals his favorite places from Barcelona; go-to beach, clubbing, site seeing and more.

His favourite area to stay is the Eixample of Barcelona. "Grab a coffee, a fresh bocadillo and press play on your ipod. Enjoy a long walk starting from Rambia de Catalunya, skipping the croud of Las Ramblas and get lost in the old streets of Raval" he noted.

Valandi's favourite destination is always the sea, and in Barcelona he had the opportunity to walk across the coastline and feel the vibe of the beach life.  "Final stop of my long walk was the W hotel where I stopped at the beach next to it. After that the steps are simple. Shoes off,  walk on the gold sand and relax by enjoying a glass of cold tasty sangria." 

El Isleño ( his Vlog name and Instagram ) has recently started vlogging and we can't stop watching his latest video from his trip in Barcelona.


Santa Marina: Mykonos' five star hotel destination

Located just ten minutes from the Chora, Santa Marina is perfect for enjoying all the benefits of Mykonos without the hustle and bustle. Inaugurated in the 70s, the hotel was the first on the Island to be awarded 5-stars, and has remained at the top of the sure-shots list ever since.

Travellers seeking luxurious serenity will choose from the hillside compound’s 101 rooms (including 9 suites with private swimming pools), or settle into one of the 13 villas, with their particularly lofty beds and sweeping views of the Aegean. Designer Sylvina Macipe Krontiras oversaw a three-year renovation that saw immaculate walls, noble wood panelling and clean lines come together in fine balance of unabashed luxury and Greek tradition.

From the private beach to the swimming pools and from the stylish experience in Reef Boutique to organizing a memorable and ultra-romantic wedding, the Santa Marina Resort & Villas still is a premier accommodation choice in Mykonos that combines cosmopolitan lifestyle with modern comforts and uber chic aesthetic.

Santa Marina Mykonos, Ornos 846 00, Greece, open until October 15, 2018, reopening mid-May 2019.

Source: santa-marina.gr

Non-awkward ways to meet people at your next destination

Arguably the biggest anxiety for the first-time traveller is the thought of being lonely – visions of cold evenings curled around a flickering bedside lamp sobbing into a dog-eared copy of Eat, Pray, Love as a soundtrack of general debauchery from the downstairs party reverberates through the walls.

It’s a fear born of fallacy: travellers, after all, tend to be a social breed, but to guide you through the often intimidating ice-breaker stage we’ve devised a list of simple ways to cultivate companionship on the road.

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Join a walking tour

Not only is this a great (and often free) way to acquaint yourself with a new city, but the nature of walking tours lend to easy conversation. If the group isn’t too large, a good host will ask everyone to say their name and where they’re from, which gives you an easy ‘in’ for striking up conversation with other participants along the way. Stopping for a group meal or drink also presents a great opportunity to socialise.

Connect online

Over recent years there has been a surge in apps designed to help travellers connect on the road. Chief among them are Tripr and Backpackr, which help you meet people ahead of time who will be travelling to the same destinations. EatWith meanwhile, allows you to attend a dinner party hosted by a local chef, and Sofar Sounds connects you with musicians hosting intimate gigs in informal venues.

Embrace hostels

Hostels are an essential asset for the sociable solo traveller (and not all are bland, soulless boxes!). Close-knit sleeping quarters foster conversation – or, more frequently, arguments over air conditioner settings – while cool communal spaces provide an ideal platform to bond with fellow travellers over a beer. If you’re not staying at a hostel, check larger hostel websites for event schedules – many host tours, dinners, pub crawls and other events available to non-guests.

Rent a room

Whether it’s Couchsurfing or renting a room through Airbnb, stay at a spot where you can engage with your host. Locals who are willing to share their homes are usually gregarious individuals keen to connect with their visitors and offer local insights that enhance the travel experience. How affable your host is likely to be can often be discerned from the advert, as well as reviews from previous guests.

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Take your meal at the bar

Choosing to eat at a restaurant’s bar not only allows you to bypass a potentially awkward ‘table for one’ dining scenario, but it also gives you an opportunity to chat with diners either side of you (who may very well be eating alone), punters ordering drinks or with the bartender; staff often make an extra effort to chat to solo patrons – and there’s always a chance of a complimentary cocktail.

Join a local meet-up

From cooking courses to tango lessons, classes aimed at visitors offer an opportunity to bond with other travellers over a shared interest, or – depending on the obscurity of the activity – how incompetent you are at it. If you’re struggling to find something that appeals, the Meetupcommunity has almost 30 million members in 184 countries, so there’s a good chance there will be an event of interest during your time abroad: whether you’re after photography tips or a philosophical debate.

Just say hello

Travelling is perhaps the only situation in life where almost everyone you meet will be actively looking to make friends. Other solo travellers are detached from friends and family and are likely to be seeking sociability. The human species has survived for 200,000 years because of our ability to communicate with one another. You’re in a foreign place, nobody knows you; go grab a drink from the hostel bar, slide into that empty seat and say hello to the lonely figure staring haplessly at their smartphone. What have you got to lose?

Photography & source lonelyplanet.com