If you’re reading this blog on a cold, gray winter day, you might find yourself wishing there was a little more color in your life. Well, we have the answer – put on your shades as we take you on a dazzling virtual tour of some of the most colorful places in the world!
Bo Kapp, Cape Town, South Africa
The Bo Kapp district is one of the oldest residential areas in the “Mother City” and it’s certainly the most vivid. Long lines of house ascend steep roads, and no two are the same. Vibrant pastel shades of purple, green, pink and yellow dominate. Cobbled streets and minarets complete the scene – this is where the city’s Cape Malay community is centered. They’re descended from (mostly) Indonesians who were forcibly resettled in the Cape in colonial times and have become part of Cape Town’s rich social fabric. So too has their spicy food, with dishes such as bobotie now enjoyed everywhere. As for why the houses are painted so beautifully, it is believed that this was a reaction to the end of apartheid when people who had been marginalized and oppressed were finally able to express their creativity and individuality. Today Bo Kapp is the ultimate representation of the Rainbow Nation!
The island of Burano – easily reached by a vaporetto water taxi from Venice – attracts almost as many visitors as its even more famous neighbor. That could be because of the canals, bridges, and outdoor cafés… But it might just have something to do with the brightly-painted fishermen’s cottages. Almost every home on the island is painted, and a stroll along the canals feels like wandering through an artist’s paint box. That shouldn’t be too surprising – Burano’s unique houses have been inspiring painters for generations (including Matisse and Miró). The colors may seem random, but in fact, they are carefully regulated by the local authorities according to a strict system which assigns different colors to each district. If you’ve just splashed out for a house in Burano, don’t open that tin of paint without getting permission, or you could be in for a brush with the law!
We’re heading back to South America now, and specifically the city of Cartagena on Colombia’s Caribbean coast. Cartagena has something of a murky past, as some of its wealth was generated by the slave trade. Today, it is celebrating the happier aspects of its past, and it’s putting on quite a show. You’ll find color everywhere you look, from the tropical fruits in the street markets to the clothes of the traders themselves. Cartagena is an irresistibly seductive city – it won’t take you long to fall in love with its restored colonial mansions (some of which now have a second lease of life as boutique hotels). The hot, humid air makes siestas especially appealing, and you sense that behind every door is an almost forgotten family secret. It is perhaps the mansions – and their distinctive wooden balconies – that provide the most color, so take a stroll and absorb it all.
Rainbow Mountains, Peru
So far, we’ve been looking at manmade colors, but you won’t be surprised to learn that Mother Nature also has a lot of artistic flairs. One of her masterpieces is undoubtedly the Rainbow Mountains of Peru (or the Ausangate Mountains to give them their proper name). They are considered sacred by the local Quechua people, who undertake annual pilgrimages to these amazing peaks. Their colors – think candy stripes in pinks, blues, yellows, and reds – are due to different mineral layers being weathered away. Geology lessons aside, these mountains are a must-see, and one of Peru’s most rewarding sights. Given how beautiful the entire Andes region is, that’s high praise – but it’s deserved. Reaching the Rainbow Mountains requires a multi-day trek, but this is as uplifting as it is challenging as you’ll be hiking through more glorious mountain scenery en route. Just be sure to let us know if you find that pot of gold!
Cuba is just 90 miles from Key West, but it’s also a world away. The rules for Americans traveling to Cuba have recently changed again, making travel trickier than it had been, but it’s still possible to go (especially as part of an organized tour) – and very definitely worth it. If you do travel to Cuba, you’ll want to spend several days exploring the capital, Havana. It’s a city that seems stuck in a time warp, due to decades of economic isolation. Classic car fans will get a thrill from the 1950s Buicks, Plymouths and Chevrolets which are still a common sight – many of them lovingly restored. Chrome and paintwork are not the only colors here – Havana’s old mansions, with their wrought-iron balconies and air of genteel decay, are typically painted in sun-faded pastel shades that contribute to a sense that this is a city where things haven’t really changed in years.
Lake Hillier, Australia
Lake Hillier is a small lake in Western Australia, very close to the ocean from which it’s separated by sand dunes. It’s not especially large (just 2 000ft by 800ft) but it’s become something of a landmark. That’s thanks to its brilliant bubble-gum pink color – the entire lake is pink, and from the air, it can be spotted from miles away. The unexpected, striking pink coloration of the water is a real contrast with the surrounding dark-green vegetation and is apparently due to the presence of a micro-organism which is one of the very few species living in the lake. It combines with the salt in the water to create this natural but surprising hue. Another remarkable thing about Lake Hillier – it’s almost as salty as the Dead Sea, which means you can safely float in it.
La Boca, Buenos Aires, Argentina
The capital of Argentina is famous for many reasons – not least being the spiritual home of the tango. It’s also the location of our last colorful destination – the waterside La Boca district. This working-class barrio or neighborhood has a history almost as colorful as its houses, and there’s a slightly anarchic energy that underlies the painting. It’s not perhaps quite as harmonious as some of the other colorful destinations we’ve visited for this blog, but it has an exuberance and a joyfulness that can’t fail to make you smile. You’ll see individual houses block-painted in primary colors, and on some streets, even the individual cobbles are painted – each one a different shade. Stroll along the famous Caminito pedestrian way to watch the tango artists and enjoy excellent Italian-style meals. To experience some of the emotion for which Argentina is also renowned, see if you can attend a Boca Juniors soccer match. It’s the former club of the legendary Diego Maradona, and the fans are passionate, to say the least!
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