Discovering Soufriere, Saint Lucia

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In the month of August, Saint Lucia celebrates the two most beautiful flower festivals in the Caribbean region.  The Feast of La Rose originated from the seven years that Saint Lucia was fought over by the British and The Feast of La Marguerite was named after the French who also fought for this island for seven years.  Of all the things I enjoy the most about this beautiful island of Saint Lucia, I am always charmed by the indigenous flowers and plants found in gardens everywhere.  From Jade Vine to Torch Ginger, all 238 square miles are dotted with such a delightful variety of flora.

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In celebration of the flower festivals, I went on a tour to the most decorated town on the island, the town of Soufriere.  Soufriere played host to the flower celebrations this year and is also one of the most spectacular areas on island.  Before the parade began, I drove to the magical Botanical gardens which is where many of the plants are exclusively found in Saint Lucia. As I ventured further into the gardens I discovered the Diamond Falls.  This amazing waterfall is part of the world renowned Sulphur Springs which are a product of the worlds’ only drive in volcano.  Tourists and locals alike, travel specifically to this region to bathe in the healing waters of the Sulphur Springs and to experience their rejuvenating effects on the body.  The Sulphur Springs from which the town of Soufriere got its name, came into formation due to weak spots in the crust of an enormous collapsed crater, the result of volcanic eruptions of gigantic proportions that took place some 410,000 years ago.

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Similar hot springs feed the mineral baths into the Diamond Falls located on the Diamond Estate built originally in 1784 for the troops of King Louis XVI of France so that they could benefit from the therapeutic waters.  I was amazed at the thought that the springs contained healing properties and was really tempted to jump in.  On my way back to watch the parade I looked up to witness the most mesmerizing view of a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the twin pitons.   These two volcanic spires, Gros Piton and Petit Piton are one of the main reasons why people visit this beautiful island.

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After enjoy the view, I returned to town just in time to see the denizens of Soufriere in colorful cultural wear as they  put on an event of pomp and pageantry, celebrating the island’s mixed heritage of English and French.  As the event continued with cultural  folk dances such as the Quadrille, the Mappa and the Belair, I could not help but be once again impressed by the beauty and energy of Saint Lucia.

creole-wearIf you are in Saint Lucia during the month of August, be sure to ask your Capella Marigot Bay Personal Assistants about the flower festivals, Feast of La Rose and Feast of La Marguerite.  And even if it isn’t August, make sure to make time to visit Soufriere, one of the many magical towns here in Saint Lucia!

 

Trips Around Ixtapa: Pátzcuaro, A Small Colonial Gem

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If the explorer within you wants to live a full experience while on vacations, see many new things and discover new places, I have a recommendation for you!  Pátzcuaro, a small colonial gem in the State of Michoacan is just a 3 ½ hrs drive from Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo and Capella Ixtapa, making it a great day trip for those wanting to explore further into Mexico.

The Michoacan’s countryside is beautiful.  Volcanic activity and rich soil supports lush jungle-like vegetation, with spectacular mountain landscapes, rolling hills, deep lakes, winding rivers and green valleys.  Pátzcuaro is located on hills above the Lake Patzcuaro.

PatzcuaroToday Pátzcuaro is considered a cultural and artisan center of Michoacan.  It’s original name “Tzacapu-ansucutinpatzcuaro” means “door to heaven” or “the place where the blackness begins.”  In 1533 the Spanish founded the city, when Vasco de Quiroda moved the capital of the state from Tzintzuntzan to this mountain city.  The town is well known for fountains, churches, plazas and shrines, which adorn the city, and make it a great historical destination.  It is rich in Spanish colonial and indigenous heritage, which you will be able to experience at each step.

Patzcuaro 2The first thing I noticed on my visit to Pátzcuaro was the smell of pine and wood-smoke.  The aroma comes form a thick pine, oak and eucalyptus forest, surrounding the city.  The cobblestone streets are lined with traditional whitewashed adobe buildings roofed in moss-covered tiles.  I love the colonial setting of the city, with lovely sidewalk cafes and restaurants, from where you can observe the happening on the streets and plazas.  Of course there are a variety of markets around town where traditional handcrafts can be purchased.

There is also an archaeological site along Lake Patzcuaro that showcases the pyramids of Ihuatzio  – Tzintzuntzan.  It’s only a short ride away from Pátzcuaro and is a must see for the history lover.  Tzintzuntzan was once the capital of Purepecha Empire and is now a handcraft center and the site of a 16th century Franciscan convent.

patzcuaroIf you are looking for more trips around Ixtapa, read about my visits to Taxco, Troncones, Pie de la Cuesta, Morros de Potosí, Petatlán and Barra de Potosí – all great day trips from Capella Ixtapa!

Images via http://www.patzcuaromexico.com.

Viajes Alrededor De Ixtapa: Pátzcuaro, Una Pequeña Joya Colonial

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Si el explorador que llevas dentro quiere vivir a pleno durante tus vacaciones, ver y descubrir nuevos lugares, ¡tengo una recomendación para ti! Pátzcuaro, una pequeña joya colonial en el estado de Michoacán, y a tan sólo 3 1/2 horas manejando de Capella Ixtapa, lo que lo hace una gran opción para un tour de un día completo para aquellos que quieran visitar más a fondo México.

El paisaje de Michoacán es hermoso. La actividad volcánica y los suelos ricos en nutrientes mantienen una vegetación selvática abundante, con paisajes montañosos espectaculares, serpenteantes ríos, grandes lagos y verdes valles. Pátzcuaro se ubica en los cerros que rodean el Lago del mismo nombre, Lago de Pátzcuaro.

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En la actualidad se le considera a Pátzcuaro el centro cultural y artesanal de Michoacán. Su nombre original “Tzacapu-ansucutinpatzcuaro” significa “puerta al cielo” o “el lugar donde la oscuridad inicia”. En 1533 Vasco de Quiroga trasladó la capital del estado de Tzintzuntzan a esta ciudad en los cerros. El lugar es famoso por sus fuentes, iglesias, plazas y templos que adornan la ciudad y hacen de ella un gran destino histórico. Pátzcuaro es rico en herencia colonial e indígena y esto es palpable a cada paso que damos en la ciudad.

Patzcuaro 2La primera cosa que note durante mi visita a Pátzcuaro fue el aroma a pino y madera ahumada. El olor viene de un denso bosque de pinos, robles y eucaliptos que rodea la ciudad. Las calles empedradas se alinean a tradicionales edificios de adobe cubiertos de teja llena de musgo. Me encanta el ambiente colonial de la ciudad, con cafés y restaurantes que invitan a sentarse y observar lo que sucede en sus calles y plazas. Desde luego existen también una gran variedad de mercados donde podemos adquirir artesanías tradicionales locales.

Existe un sitio arqueológico cercano al lago de Pátzcuaro que exhibe la pirámide de Ihuatzio. Tzintzuntzan está muy cerca de Pátzcuaro y no se la pueden perder los amantes de la historia ya que esta ciudad fue capital del Imperio Purépecha y es hoy en día un centro artesanal y hogar de un Monasterio Franciscano del siglo XVI.

patzcuaroSi buscas más sitios que visitar cercanos a Ixtapa, puedes leer sobre mi visita a Taxco, Troncones, Pie de la Cuesta, Morros de Potosí, Petatlán y Barra de Potosí, todos excelentes opciones para visitar por un día desde Capella Ixtapa!

Fotos cortesía de: http://www.patzcuaromexico.com.