Sunday Special – Xalapa, Mexico

We are nearing the end of the alphabet and are up to the letter “X”. Today we will go to the “birthplace” of the ever-popular jalapeño pepper: Xalapa(pronounced ha la pa) in the Mexican state of Veracruz. Yep, that spicy pepper has been cultivated  in this highland state capital since the Aztecs. Used widely in its cuisine this mighty pepper has left its impact on the city (and the world). Though there is more to see and learn about than just the jalapeño.

The state of Veracruz is rather hot and humid though due to the higher elevation of Xalapa it has escaped the searing heat, offering cooler temperatures. It is located below the now extinct Cofre de Perote volcano, approximately 101 km / 63 miles northwest of town of Veracruz. Being in such a location gives it its milder temperature and at times brings about abrupt weather changes. Although a sprawling city with no seeming logic to its layout  and notable traffic congestion it is still considered by many to be a very attractive city. Culture thrives here with many forms of music, art, theatre, and history. Street art and performing musicians thrive alongside anthropological museums and classical symphonies throughout the city. Fine dining and trendy bars are in abundance. As a university city the has a pulse all its own. This Mexican city does seem to be a great place to get lost in. Wander on!


Xalapa Cathedral or Catedral Metropolitana de la Immaculada Concepción de Xalapa – Photo credit: SoundtrckkCatedral Metropolitana de XalapaCC BY-SA 3.0


Cofre de Perote volcano seen from Juarez Park in Xalapa– Photo credit: nAShE, Cofre de Perote desde XalapaCC BY 2.0


Fried Jalapeno peppers – Photo credit: KoffermejiaChiles xalapeños capeadosCC BY-SA 4.0


Sunday Special – Brisbane, Australia


Brisbane at night – Photo via Wikimedia Commons – Photo taken and owned  By wirepic (Flickr) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

Brisbane is the capital city of the Australian state of Queensland and the third largest city by population in the country. A contemporary city that lies along the Brisbane River in southeast Queensland, it is a vibrant urban locale with plenty of activities to take part in. What can you expect in this sunny urban destination? It appears to me that there is so much to partake in that you’d have to schedule a rest day! 

Fancy a climb? How about heading up Story Bridge? Take a 2-hour climb to the top of this landmark bridge to take in amazing views of the city. After climbing and seeing the river you can go and play on it. Activities such as kayaking or standup paddle boarding are popular. You can also cross the river in a City Cat Ferry.  Should you need a break from the hot sun then head to one of the numerous museums found around town. Notable ones include Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) and Queensland Art Gallery (QAG) which happen to be located beside each other.  Another option is the Museum of Brisbane that showcases the history of Brisbane and a variety of exhibits. Meandering through South Bank will show you parks, restaurants, cafes, beaches, the Wheel of Brisbane, family-oriented fun, and cultural sights.  A day away from the city can be accomplished with a visit to Moreton Island, a large sand island that is accessible via ferry.  Rent a 4WD vehicle to traverse the sands across the island or sand toboggan down some dunes. You can take a dip in the Champagne Pools’ crystal clear waters or snorkel with marine life and see shipwrecks. Explore and see aboriginal cultural sites and World War I and II relics. Hiking, surfing,  beaches, and flora and fauna are part of the experience as well. 

I don’t doubt that Brisbane is a fun city with much to see and do. The above is only a short list of what I have found. I imagine that Brisbane is a great place to visit.


South Bank and Brisbane Wheel – Photo via Wikimedia Commons – Taken and owned By Brisbane City Council (28 – South Bank Parklands) [CC BY 2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

Story Bridge Panorama

Story Bridge, Brisbane – Photo via Wikimedia Commons – Taken and owned By Cyron Ray Macey from Brisbane (-27.470963,153.026505), Australia (Story Bridge Panorama) [CC BY 2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons






My Top 5 Cities to Wander

The Internet is riddled with Top 5 lists or whichever number is trending so I figure I will post one too. Where does this wanderer like to wander? Aside from just about everywhere I do have some faves. As I continue to traverse the globe I suspect this list will change though this is the list currently. 

It’s all about the cities. I have to say I prefer cities and the energy found within them. Of course small towns and nature are phenomenal and even entire countries I find amazing, though today it’s about the urban landscape. 

Here they are:

  1. PARIS – Paris! Paris! Paris! Arguably the most beautiful city on the planet, I always find wandering in Paris a joy. The art, the history and vibe. 
  2. ISTANBUL – An extremely close second, Istanbul took my breath away with its history, architectural beauty and culture.
  3. CHICAGO – Not only did I have a fab time in the Windy City I adored its arts, buildings and that deep dish pizza
  4. BUDAPEST – Not only does Budapest offer a gorgeous and clean city there is much to do.  Caving nearby, history, ruin bars & thermals baths makes for a very fun city!
  5. GEORGETOWN (a.k.a. Penang) & BELGRADE – tied for 5th as I was unable to decide. Both so different yet equally cool. Penang’s street art and street food within a chill atmosphere compared to Belgrade’s history, great people and fun nightlife made it a definite tie. 

There you go. My current top 5 cities. Next up will be my fav countries. 

All photos taken and owned by Eeva Valiharju / Wanders the World 


Top row (L – R): Paris, Istanbul, Chicago
Bottom row: Budapest, Belgrade, me on boat in Belgrade, Georgtown (Penang)




Do you have a nickname? Something someones calls you affectionately? Un-affectionately? Something that has stuck with you since you were a kid? A shortened version of your name? Something you’re known for? Many of us do, myself included. And so do cities. Some of them so famous that you know exactly which city is being referred to by its famous moniker. I have decided to compile a list of city nicknames that I know of (and plenty I’ve taken from Wikipedia and online searches). The ones I am familar with are listed first and then are the ones I have looked up:

Vancouver, Canada – No Fun City, Lotus Land, Van City
Toronto, Canada – T.O., Tronna, T. Dot
Winnipeg, Canada – Winter-peg, The Peg
Thunder Bay, Canada – The Lakehead, T Bay, Tunder Bay (w/ a Finnish accent!)
Sault Ste Marie, Canada – The Soo
Chilliwack, Canada – The Wack
Fort McMurray, Canada – Fort Mack
New York City, USA – The Big Apple, The City that Never Sleeps, Empire City
New Orleans, USA – The Big Easy
Philadelphia, USA – The City of Brotherly Love
Reno, USA – The Biggest Little City in the World
Los Angeles, USA – The City of Angels
San Fransisco, USA – The City by the Bay
Detroit, USA – Motor City
Chicago, USA- The Windy City
Boston, USA – Beantown
Hollywood, USA – Tinsel Town
Las Vegas, USA – Sin City
Paris, France – The City of Lights & Bridges, The City if Love
Beijing, China – The Forbidden City
Rome, Italy – The Eternal City, The City of Seven Hills
Jerusalem, Israel – The Holy City

Nairobi, Kenya – Green City in the Sun
Havana, Cuba – City of Columbus
Venice, Italy –  City of Water, City of Masks, City of Bridges
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – The Wonderful City
Lima, Peru – The City of Kings
Mumbai, India – The City of Gold, Bollywood
Hong Kong, China – Pearl of the Orient
Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam – Pearl of the Orient -yep, same as HKG
Buenos Aires, Argentina – Paris of Latin America (only in early 1900’s), The Port City
Seattle, USA – The Emerald City
Adelaide, Australia – The City of Churches
Sydney, Australia – The Harbour City
London, England – The Square Mile
Budapest, Hungary – The Pearl of the Danube
Prague, Czech Republic – The Golden City
Saint Petersburg, Russia – The City of White Nights

Now by all means this list is not extensive – it would be too long to post. Of course locals have their names too, as you may have guessed from some of the Canadian cities I listed. If you have any city nicknames to add, please do so in the comments section!

Cheers! Eeva

P.s.  Over the years I have had about 7 nicknames….some I don’t like & some I love! Eval Kneval signing off (hated that one when I was a kid cuz it was based on a mispronounciation if my name). :-p