Why Brussels?

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One of my favorite European cities visited yet, has to be Brussels. Having arrived into the city from Paris, perhaps a change in location was much anticipated due to the less dense population of Brussels compared to Paris. Having visited the city twice already, some of the things I always look forward to when in Brussels are; Belgium waffles, chocolate and trying out one of the many choices of Belgian brewed ales.

Some attractive touristic activities offered by Viva Tours, a non profit organization, are the free and alternative walking tours. Tours are either free or paid for. They offer plenty of insight into the political history, culture and lifestyle of the European Capital. Tour guides are highly knowledgeable and very friendly; providing a fantastic service which, according to the tour you sign up for, can come for free; whilst leaving the participant the option of tipping the tour guide at the end of each session, and this all from your own judgment of how good the tour was.

Leopold Park

Leopold Park

Four (4) languages are known to diversify Belgium; French, Dutch, English and German. Thus language barrier is hardly an obstacle when in Brussels. If you book a tour and head out to meet up with the tour guide and the rest of the group, look for an orange umbrella – the tour guides are always carrying those to make it easier for participants to locate them.

Here are some of the tours that my friends and I took part in, on this particular visit:

City Center Tour

Grand Place

Grand Place

  • The grand place – central square of Brussels
  • Manneken Pis & Janneke Pis
  • Yellow Waffle Van  [Waffles from the yellow vans are freshly made upon order)
  • Royal Galleries of St. Hubert. [best chocolates are from Pierre Marcolini, Passion Chocolat.]

 

Tour of the European Quarter

  • Matonge District (Congolese Neighborhood)
  • European parliament
  • Leopold park
  • European Commission
  • Cinquatenaire park
Cinqauntenaire Park

Cinquatenaire park

Beer Walking Tour

Kwak Beer

Kwak Beer

  • Strong Beers: Westmalle Triple, Chimay Blue, Orval
  • Favourited: La Chouffe, Barbar, Triple Karmelief; Kwak
  • Light Beers: Hoegaarden Wit, Zinnebir

 

Because of the proximity, and if not; the plenty of attractions along the way – maneuvering the city center is easily done on foot. This will get you plenty of exercise, as well as save you from transport fares.

 

Spain | Bold Strangers

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My guess is that we as people are much bolder at making romantic advances towards complete strangers, especially foreign strangers, because the likelihood of ever seeing them again is close to nil. I mean, what’s the harm right? You get to enjoy each other’s company in whichever way you choose, to end up parting ways with no strings attached, should that be choice.

But, let me ask this; is there some initiation ritual of vetting a person into bed? May I compare it to using social graces with the intend of speeding up the process of getting someone to a certain comfort level; or the display of wooing a woman – showing us your gentlemanly side, so that you may feel entitled to the savage ego that may follow when things don’t go your way. This is by no means a widespread profile on the male species, but in this particular story, it’s a profile that well describes the gentlemen approach I received on one particular visit to Spain.

Only too often do us ladies fall for the wooing trap, either as a result of pure ignorance because we are simply eying the gains, or as a result of naiveté and a faint wish in the direction of the situation just being an opportunity to socialize and make new friends in a place foreign to us. The reason for accepting such advances is usually not of mutual interest – one party may approach at a snail’s pace, whilst the other train-speeds to the very end of such an encounter. Motives are often hidden as the master players kick off conversation pleasantries to find common grounds; just for the victim to end up thirst-trapped in an unpleasant ambiance of sexual innuendo and a black swamp of social awkwardness.

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One afternoon, as we bathed in the cool waters of the hotel pool, we were approached by two gentlemen who invited us for a soirée. Later that evening, in conversation, they put forth their case of being on vacation for a couple of days in the Spanish Islands, and that they were scheduled to depart the coming morning.

At first I was startled by their forwardness, but later dismissed it as an innocent approach seeking inter-cultural exchange and mingling. Their attention to detail was indicative of habit. Prompting me to remember that, for some, an intimate encounter with an absolute stranger is without question the ultimate memory of a getaway vacation. At first, the evening was rather stimulating as we exchanged talk on career, origin, culture, shared music and dance moves.  The tables turned somewhat abruptly as our hosts decided to make their move and go for the kill.

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Now, it’s only fair to give people the benefit of the doubt – all within safe and wise parameters of course! This was one of my “male-female cultural-shock experiences”. The ease with which these gentlemen anticipated an intimate night to result from their invitation to a soirée, the situation was laughable. They then went on to stress their upcoming early morning flight, perhaps to justify their approach to leaving no stones unturned that night. After seeing that we were by no mean going to comply, their egos kicked in. Shocked at their ability to continue defending their position, we gladly left them to their own company.

Needless to say, approaching “inter-cultural” or just even “opposite-sex” encounters, especially those of a sensitive nature, with cautious respect rather than pre-conceive stereotypical assumptions is way better. Get to know people as individuals, not as a cultural-stereotype. Be vigilant with social encounters. People may approach you on some familiar ground on which you may connect, just to contrive you into unwarranted activities.

Don’t allow curiosity to lead you astray – safety should come first, always!

Namibia | Conserving & Preserving

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The raw essence of Namibian sceneries is one that many writers attempt to put into words, and always end up falling short in doing it justice; myself included. But even so, the rising global awareness that speaks to the importance of preserving natural environments & maintaining equilibrium within ecosystems has shifted a deeper appreciation in the direction of the unspoiled habitats of Namibia’s dry-lands.

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Sands of Time | Sossusvlei, Namibia

Never have I been so excited about the nature of a place and the purity it retains. 

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Deadvlei | Over 2000 year old skeletons embedded in a white clay pan
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Many have gone and left their footprints exploring this masterpiece. In time, nature too shall erase their footprints – continuing to shape the masterpiece for generations to come; for we are but mere visitors on the time-line of existence.

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Though a tar road runs cross-country throughout Namibia, a majority of places still remain accessible only by gravel road.

The country’s climate is hot & dry. To maximize vegetation, stored water is often used because the sun shines often and the rain falls rarely.

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This little accommodation was maximized for comfort, but also for preservation.
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The Khoisan tribe, living in tune with mother nature amidst the country’s arid conditions

Wildlife resorts are found across the country, operating both within the public and private sectors.

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Namibia is home to the largest canyon in Africa, the Fish River Canyon, and also to some of the worlds magnificent sunrises and sunsets.

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A primitive beauty, crafted by the force of nature through the hands of time.

Synchronizing fitness, health & travel

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Sleep, fitness training & meals are activities around which many of us build indispensable routine. Seeing as to how we are creatures of habit, traveling can take a toll on us and leave us in a frenzy. Different time zones, inability to prepare healthy meals at will or attend gym as per schedule; I myself have gotten trapped in this cycle only too often, taking 2 steps forward staying on schedule and one step back whenever I traveling. But enough excuses! Being on vacation, taking pleasure in foreign delicacies or sleeping in after long nights of partying is no reason to stall fitness progress or healthy eating habits.

Below, I share with you easy to follow tips on keeping afloat & up to date with fitness & health schedules while travelling, be it for business or pleasure – even carefully planned out routines can get thrown off track.

In the case of pleasure; travel is usually a means of escape, a time to laze ourselves into relaxation & overindulge on local cuisine. In case of business, one is often operating on tight schedules & hardly has time to catch a breath. Sticking to normal routine may prove difficult. What we want is to be able to substitute & swap unhealthy & impulsive habits with easy to do exercises & healthy, easily available food options, as we navigate our travel planners.

Listed below are tips on how you can combine your fitness, health & travel. Some of these can be done before daily activities begin, so my suggestion: work out first thing in the morning!

STAY ACTIVE

Equipment free & travel activity related

  1. Do a gluts & core workout before taking a shower
  2. Jog around the block or on the beach to familiarize yourself with the scenery. Take care to take safe routes with good lighting.

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  1. Go swimming, if your place of accommodation has a pool or you leave near the beach.
  2. Walk it off or go hiking: step count during sightseeing activities & take the stairs whenever possible.

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3. Rent a bike & cycle the city

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Self-train with a portable gym

  1. Travel with workout gear. Easy to pack are: Jumping ropes, yoga mats, flexi-stretch bands.
  2. Use fitness apps and get into action with easy to do movements and trainers that guide you through every step
  3. Get on YouTube and search for workout videos.

Gym studio attendance

  1. Drop into a nearby gym or outdoor yoga class. First time visits are often free or discounted
  2. If you’re a member of a brand name gym, find out if your gym has an affiliate in the location you’re traveling to.

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Use the hotel gym

  1. When booking accommodation, ask about gym facilities. Most hotels usually have a guest gym. Cardio it out or weight lift in the early morning hours before breakfast. This will leave you with more energy for your planned activities.

EAT CLEAN

Carry healthy snacks

  1. Plan ahead & make sure you always have healthy snack options to fall back on.
  2. Hunger comes quick when you’re exploring a city all day & the impulse to purchase junk along the way may seem feasible. Bring along Fruits [fresh/dried] , nuts, protein bars.

Eat smart

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  1. Kickstart the day with a big & healthy breakfast, stay mindful not to over-indulge.
  2. Yogurt & smoothie bowls are easy to make and filled with nutrients. Ingredients can be cheap & they are filling!

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  1. Beware of liquid calories: opt for fruit & veggie smoothies, as opposed to soda, sweet juices or alcoholic beverages. If you carry water with you, stick to that instead.

MAINTAIN HEALTHY HABITS

Prioritize hydration

  1. Both for fitness & health, it would do you good to start your day of with a cup of water or green tea. Green tea is filled with antioxidants & water provides the much needed fluid intake following overnight digestion.

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  1. Purchase from a supermarket & keep in your accommodation bottled water enough for the length of your stay, otherwise use a self-filter water bottle to purify any unbottled water you may drink.
  2. Carry a filled water bottle when out sightseeing, this will prevent you from splurging on beverages as well as keep you easily hydrated.

Keep well rested

  1. Ensure that you get enough rest to take on activities for the following day.
  2. Jet lag can take its toll, so get enough rest & go easy on workouts, but work out you must as it can reduce stress & feelings of low energy.

Tract your progress

  1. If the goal is to do better today compared to yesterday, tract your progress. It can be difficult to aim for better today if you don’t know how you did yesterday.

 


Don’t justify taking breaks from good habit by thinking that you’ll pick things up upon your return from trips, make fitness and health a constant & you’ll easily be able to find ways in which you can synchronize your schedules to fit everything in. Eat for health not just for pleasure or out of pure necessity, don’t postpone workouts, drink plenty of water and stay active!

 

Travel Namibia on a budget

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Had I been asked to compile a bucket list before my wanderlust years kicked-in, Namibia would not have been anywhere near the top of my list. Exploring home had always been at the back of my mind, but never had I sat down to draw up a plan of action or considered extending surplus funds on such travels.

It took me far & long explorations of foreign lands to draw my interest back home. It took comments such as “You come from such a beautiful country, have you visited the Fish River Canyon?” “What attractions are unique to your country?” “My wife & I are planning to visit Namibia, what would you consider top-of-the-list places to see?”

I neither saw the haste nor the glam in exploring a country indigenous to me, it did not appear as exotic as other faraway lands that were so lavishly highlighted in tourism geography & mass media markets.

With time, I grew curious as to what this beauty could be that it was so highly anticipated by outsiders. I then took to the internet to see places I hadn’t travelled to & often found this beauty to be hidden amongst website pages of Namibian lodge accommodations mainly advertising to foreigners, Instagram pages of foreign travellers to Namibia, foreign travel agencies & bloggers; all advertising the unspoiled open landscapes of our motherland.

I came to find but a few amongst our own media pages & realised that I, along with so many other Namibians lack the culture of getting excited about our own spaces – about drawing people to what is ours & representing it with utmost dignity.

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I found Deadvlei & Sossusvlei to be raw artistry & rare sights of nature’s very own primitive masterpieces!

In the summer of 2017 I relived a few truths about my country;

(1) not even the heat can keep us indoors, (2) a majority of the country remains accessible only by gravel road & (3) with sceneries so rich, any adventurer would welcome the challenges of minor inconveniences.

Namibia needs no authentication – it needs only to be seen, to be understood.

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Canyon Lodge

Listed below are 10 Budget friendly hacks to take any aspiring adventurer across Namibia, on a discount.

[1] Identify the kind of travel you want to do; so you may know where to allocate your hard earned cash & save your cents.

  • Adventure & Sightseeing
  • Relaxing
  • Event celebrations & group entertainments
  • Visiting

[2] Account for the 4 indispensable expenses (the rest are optional).

Transport

Public transport is close to non-existent in Namibia, so if your destination is off the tarred roads you’ll have 2 options:

  • Join a group tour or
  • Own/hire a 4×4 vehicle conducive for the gravel roads ahead.
  • This is highly dependent on the area you’re visiting
  • Learn how to change a tire & if possible, avoid night driving.

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Namib desert drive between Sesriem & Sossusvlei

Public transport

  • Book your trip during off-seasons & buy a return ticket if possible. http://www.intercape.co.za
  • Contact travel agencies & tourist offices for promotional discounts on group tours

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Erindi game drives

Private transport:

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Accommodation

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Namib Desert Lodge

Food

  • Bring your own food (inexpensive & healthy snacks will get you through any trip until a decent meal comes along)
  • avoid restaurants near major tourist attraction sites (they may be a little pricey)
  • You don’t always have to eat at your place of accommodation – head for the supermarkets

Backup funds – emergency cash is highly recommended, as ATMs occasionally are out of order & not every shop accepts electronic payments.

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I found Deadvlei & Sossusvlei to be raw artistry & are sights of nature’s very own primitive masterpieces!

[3] Seek out vacation packages & promotions

  • All-inclusive packages usually include: transport, accommodation & on-sight activities. Some packages may include food & drinks from your place of accommodations.

[4] Invest in a “Gondwana Collections” discount card: they offer discounts on food & accommodations. Find out more here  http://www.gondwana-collection.com/about-us/the-gondwana-card/ 

[5] Invest in a Namleisure [Namibia Wildlife Resorts] discount card: they offer a range of discounts for member guests: find out more here  https://www.nwr.com.na/namleisure-cards

[6] Plan expensive activities ahead

  • Get a map, circle all activities you would want to engage in & places you’d want to see (find out: opening & closing hours, entrance fees, etc.)

[7] When flying: travel light, carry a hat & don’t spare the sunscreen!

  • Take a carry-on cabin-sized suitcase & save on checked luggage fees. This will also spare you from waiting at airport baggage carousels upon arrival.

[8] When visiting touristic areas or accommodations, ask about free guest activities/entertainment such as music bands, walking /sightseeing tours & museums. Be ready to wander off on your own, bring your map along!

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Experience Namibia’s nature reserve sanctuaries

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We are home to the largest Canyon in Africa – Fish River Canyon, Namibia

[9] Stick to local products: be it alcoholic beverages or food products (they’re often cheaper than foreign imports)

[10] Be flexible & on a look out for better rates through research (Google it, ask Siri, pick up a phone & inquire).

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Indulge in culture – Khoisan people.

Cut back on unnecessary expenses, spend money on activities that add value to your experiences & follow the trails of beautiful destinations across Namibia on a discount budget.

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Slow down for golden sunsets

 

15 Pass Time Entertainment Ideas for Your Travels.

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Travel entertainment on the go is easy if you plan ahead and prepare for the hours unattained for waiting to connect on flights, trains or carpooling; spending time on overnight buses; or simply awaiting the rest of your crew to get ready for the next meet up.

I embarked on a connecting flight from Frankfurt to Warsaw in early January and was taken aback by my surprise at seeing a Polish “Pani” reading a hard copy novel. The first thought that came to mind was, “how does she feel carrying such load when she could alternatively carry a device that is able to hold multiple books at once, and one that is probably lighter than the book she’s reading?”

I felt a sense of disturbance as that thought crossed my mind. These means of travel entertainment (hard copy: books, newspapers, magazines), is that all a thing of the past in my mind then? I felt a discomfort from this notion as I remembered all the hard copy books I myself owned and kept at home.  My sense of discomfort was an indication that I was less likely to travel with a hard copy source of literature ever again, unless the situation so demands.

In todays digital age of fast paced, user friendly & convenient technological interfaces that are intended to unburden our day-to-day lives, hard copy literature not only dims in comparison to digital libraries & audio-books, but its usage heavily depands on the unavailability of an Internet connection &/or power outlet.

Entertainment is quite a vital part of any trip. Like most people, I loath being bored & do not take kindly on time wasted. For this reason I’ve made it a priority to always travel with a digital library, making it feel as if the whole world is in my hands – and who wouldn’t want to dive into that!

Below I’ve listed a few ideas for entertainment on the go. You may pick & choose from this list depending on the length of your trip, the intensity of your schedule, as well as what you find interest in:

  1. Reading (digital or hard copy) – become well-versed in your topics of interest. In a world where we’re bombarded with information 24/7, it’s a nice change of pace to cover more than just a few fleeting details of a subject that catches our interest. Don’t simply learn things by accident or coincidence – take time, dive into topics & become an expert about the things that interest you.
  2. Audio books – an invention fast revolutionizing the time & speed of learning.
  3. Music – indulge, catch up & create new play-lists according to your mood & activities
  4. Socialize – meet & make local friends. Ask for direction, explanation or recommendations as a conversation starter.
  5. Food feast – try out local dishes at popular spots. Alternatively; visit a market, pick up some groceries & prepare local dishes with the help of your local friends.
  6. Theatrics – visit a cinema or theater at your travel destination.
  7. Relax – spent some time in the gym, sauna or spa.
  8. Gaming – Board games, card games, tech games
  9. Photography: capturing images, unloading memory cards or editing pictures on a trip – could rid you off the burden of having to do so upon completion of a trip.
  10. Journal – If you are a travel blogger like I am or you simply enjoy keeping records of trips taken, take time to jot down your travel experiences in preparation for the blog you will right or just for keepsake.
  11. Conversation – A simple conversation goes a long way. Choose a topic of discussion & set direction for the flow of conversation.
  12. Geocaching – Local people often place geocaches in places a casual visitor would not readily know about. Geocaching is a great way of discovering places of local significance, viewpoints, walks, landmarks and areas of cultural and historical value.
  13. Equip yourself for your trip – study the local language, culture & cuisine.
  14. Walk & explore your neighborhood – this allows you to put in any extra hours of exercise you may sacrifice on you trip away from home. Remember to inquire about safety before embarking on a stroll & whenever possible, ask a friend to tag along.
  15. TV time – I often find this to be the last resort. It is the easiest option available to you almost anywhere you go.

Why you may need to prepare pass-time entertainment for your trips

Your itinerary may schedule end-on-end activities for you, but if you find yourself uninterested in certain group activities or not relating to the crowd in your immediate surroundings, what then do you do? Having your own sources of entertainment readily available could allow for better flexibility in how you spend your time and this way, you can make sure it is not wasted.

I climbed aboard an 11 hour flight one night and the majority of the flight’s entertainment screens where out of order. A lot of passengers found this to be a show of incompetence from the airline, but unfortunately the problem could not be solved during the course of our fight. This scene had me thankful I had with me a digital library I could use to pass time – I intensely dived into a book & was up reading for most of the night.

One could optimize the use of Travel time by doing things not normally scheduled for in a day-to-day routine, hence I urge you to find some “Me” time, pamper yourself & find pleasure in the small things to pass-time as you travel.

 

Stockholm, Sweden | A Scandinavian Summer

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My summer plans where clearly defined before summer 2017 came around, as there was no room for error in my already shortened summer break from Varsity. Stockholm was at the top of my list, as my person and I had been invited to a 70th birthday party by a sweet friend based in Stockholm. The party was to be at the beginning of August, and I thought to myself “what a delight it would be to catch some sun!”. This thought was a result of the cloudy & rainy days I was experiencing in Poznan then.

Having visited the island of Majorca in Spain at the end of June and taken in a bit of sun for about 4 days, I was hoping the weather would have warmed up upon my return to Poznan at the beginning of July. Unfortunately this was not the case and I had to sit through 4 weeks of summer training before I could escape the cloudy and gloomy weather that more often than not came with rain.

Four weeks later, I was just about ready to skip town as I made my way to Stockholm. My person and I planned on linking up at the Arlanda Airport because my flight was scheduled to arrive first. Having made arrangements for Per & Ingalill to pick me up from the airport, I then asked that those arrangements be canceled, as I wanted to meet him at the airport.

The Arlanda Airport was easy to navigate. I had with me a small carry on suitcase & therefore did not need to collect luggage upon disembarking my flight. After making my way to arrivals, I then headed for the bureau of exchange for some Swedish Krona. The Swedish Krona is not so expensive on the currency exchange, but mind you, the standard of living is quit high! It cost me about 60 Swedish Krona (approximately 6 Euros) for a decent cup of coffee in one of the Airport’s fine cafés. According to expats, Stockholm is 19% cheaper than London, 20% cheaper than Oslo & 21% more expensive than Berlin.

One of the waitresses at this café happened to be a young black woman who was quit interested to know where I was coming from & what it was I was doing in Stockholm. She started by asking me where I was from, to which I responded “Namibia”. I watched her as she paused in disbelieve, pen in hand as she took my order. Telling her I was in town for a birthday party sounded even more unbelievable!

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About an hour later, my person finally arrived and we made our way to the metro to get a train into the city. We were scheduled to check into “Hotel With Urban Deli”. Seeing as to how my person had visited Stockholm before on several occasions, we could easily get around.

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Central Stockholm

Arriving at “Hotel With Urban Deli”, the atmosphere was chilled, harmonious and comfortably welcoming. The hotel had a modern hip & colorful interior decor, including a good number of though provoking pieces of wall photographs. The hotel is centrally located. It has an inbuilt restaurant, a fresh food Deli & a rooftop garden bar. The atmosphere was filled with zest as people moved in and out of the hotel creating a vibrant, but yet relaxed & casual ambiance.

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Hotel With Urban Deli: wall photograph

We checked in and were directed to the elevator by the concierge. The bedrooms were simple and beautifully set-up. Considering the limited space which was available for set-up, I did not feel overwhelmed by the size of the room & rather found it to be cozy & conveniently arranged. The only down-side I found was when I needed to iron, I then needed to find the ironing room which was tucked away in a corner two to three turns away from the bedroom.

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Hotel With Urban Deli: Interior Decor

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Brunkebergs Tunnel in Norrmalm: A 231 meter long shortcut for cyclists & pedestrians through a ridge in the city center

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Crystal Plaza

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Swedish Summer House: come June, Swedes tend to abandon the cities and head to their summer houses for rest, relaxations & a touch of nature.

We paid a visit to the country side to get a feel of the Swedish summer houses. The drive to our destination was tranquil & clouds threatened rain. A look out the window showed vast open lands of nature enveloped in green! Drizzles of rain met us as we arrived at our destination and we quickly ran inside to take cover from the passing rain.

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Swedish Summer House

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Skansen: the first open-air museum & zoo in Sweden, located on the Island Djurgarden in Stockholm. Opened in 1891 by Artur Hazelius.

On this visit to Stockholm we managed to see Skansen, it was quite beautiful with plenty of animals to be seen; from snakes, to squirrels, to seals and so much more. We encountered traditional displays of Swedish women sitting outside their homes drinking tea and sharing stories.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Seglora Church: The old wooden church in Seglora village was due for demolition when it was saved and moved to Skansen in 1916

Whilst in skansen, the weather got bad at some point and it started to rain. Since none of us had brought an umbrella, we managed to find shelter near the roof of one of the housing structures in the Skansen Park. It was truly a wonderful place to be, serene and peaceful. We grabbed some hot dogs & fries before heading out of the park.

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Bredablick tower:  30 meters high, located in Skansen

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Maypole in Skansen: the maypole must be decorated before it is raised. Swede folk dancers enter the park area around the maypole and invite visitors to sing & dance alongside them

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Stockholm city view

Upon our return from Skansen, we headed to some ferries which were parked affront the Royal National Theater.

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The Royal Dramatic Theater: Sweden’s national stage for “spoken drama”.

On the same day of our visit to skansen, we had also arranged to go on the archipelago, to visit the Stockholm islands. Did you know that Stockholm is made up of 14 Islands, connected by more than 50 bridges, which basically make up the whole city? Well now you know. Stockholm was beautiful, conveniently set up and not too overpopulated at that the time of our visit.

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Grona Lund: Amusement park on Djurgarden Island

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Riding a ferry, exploring the Stockholm Archipelago [which happens to be the largest in Sweden]

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Viking waters 

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Typical color (Falu Red) & architecture for Swede summer homes. Falu red is a dye used in deep red paint, well known for its use on wooden barns & cottages throughout Sweden.

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Restaurant & Cafe Rokeriet: located at Fjaderholmen 12, Stockholm. A Seafood restaurant.

That evening was going to be the birthday party that primarily brought us into town, so we headed back to “Hotel With Urban Delhi’ to prepare ourselves accordingly for the night.

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City View: from Münchenbryggeriet conference center [A waterside event center housed in an iconic old brewery building] located at Torkel Knutssonsgatan 2, in Stockholm.

The party was to be held at Münchenbryggeriet conference center but before heading there, we were to meet up with some friends at Ingalill’s apartment, so we could head over to the party together.

Arriving at the party venue, coats where given to the concierge and table numbers were randomly assigned. The theme was rather interesting, it is one I quite hope to use someday as well. The tables where given the names of capital cities of countries that the birthday lady had lived in or visited over the course of her life up to her birthday date, and guests were randomly assigned their seat numbers so as to make sure that everyone sat with people they were not totally familiar with. This gave everyone an opportunity to network & socialize and thus, there was never a dull moment in time.

 

 

 

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As the event began: Ingalill’s 70th birthday

To be frank, everyone on my table of 6 to 7 people hailed or was residing in a different country. To make matters more interesting, I found myself being the youngest member at the table that night. I asked a lot of questions and got a lot of feedback with regards to travel, life, careers & family. I received a fresh perspective from a number of people who seemed to have had quite a good run in live. Their take on the topics discussed at the table was rather refreshing, as they approached the conversation with the mentality of living nowhere & everywhere all at once.

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City View-Point: the venue allowed for a wide-spread view of the distanced city. A touch of magic added as the sunlight slowly dimmed and the city lights came on.

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Sapphire blue sky & waters adorned by a chain of golden lights

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Old Haymarket Square, Stockholm 

Ultimately, Stockholm left a great impression on me. The basic necessities were conveniently availed and people adhered to rules and regulations accordingly. I remember this one time we called a taxi and failed to specify that we were with 2 children. The taxi showed up, and though it had no awaiting customers, the driver refused to take us to our destinations as he did not have the children’s car sits as is legally mandated.

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Crowds gathered to watch the LGBT ’17 parading parties

Whilst in Stockholm, we also witnessed an LGBT/GLBT parade. My first time ever baring witness to such and I thought to myself “what freedom!” And how patriotic it was to have other citizens openly support the cause, in the name of those who identified themselves as a part of this group.  We stood amidst the crowd on the side-lines as the parading parties took up the road on King’s street!”

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Amidst the crowd was I.

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Stockholm was a fresh of breath air. Seeing how conveniently their country runs gives me hope for my own country which is still in the infancy of setting up and rectifying  systems for the convenience of public use.

For more amazing pictures from stockholm, check out  http://www.justimagephotography.com

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The King’s Towers in Kungsgatan [King’s Street] downtown Stockholm.

Poland | 99 Years of Independence

TRAVEL

Poland has plenty of public holidays. A consequence of these holidays is that all shops, malls & most restaurants close their doors to join in celebrations – bringing business to a halt.

This was the case on November 11th 2017 when Poland celebrated its National Independence Day to commemorate the recovery of Poland as a sovereign state.

Taking a brief look into the history of Poland; the First Polish Republic [Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth] lasted a period of 226 years before 1795. The First Republic was a dualistic state [bi-confederation of Poland & Lithuania] ruled by a common monarch.

A Partitioned Poland existed from 1795 to 1918 [123 years], partitioned amongst the Russian Empire, the Kingdom of Prussia as well as Habsburg Austria. Four years towards the end of this period, World War 1 commenced and ended with the cessation of a Partitioned Poland.

From 1918 to 1939 the Second Republic of Poland [Polish People’s Republic or inter-war Poland] was in session, until the Second World War took place in 1939 to 1945.

A Communist Poland took up reins in the aftermath of World War 2, from 1945 to 1989.

Post 1989, Poland’s government ended its 44 years of “one – party rule” as per the Second Polish Republic, and began a democratic transition which led to what we now know as the Third Polish Republic [Post Communism – Democratic Republic of Poland].

To answer the question of when Poland gained its independence, it was in the year 1918, making the country one year short from a century of independence on November 11th 2017.

Saturday November 11th was a wet and cold day that had me in bed blogging away, waiting on the hour that my friends and I had planned to go and watch the Independence parade in Poznan’s Plac. Mickiewicza and despite the harsh weather, people were out in numbers.

To try and keep warm, my friends & I headed for the Zamek, a castle cultural center were we viewed photographs and historic depictions of Poland’s history. In the process of touring the Zamek, we stumbled upon a group of people getting ready for the parade.

Our first contact was with some lovely ladies robed in white gowns & red capes, both colors a representation of the bi-colored Polish National flag.

The moment was so intriguing I asked whether I could take picture of them. Upon agreeing, they suggested we join the group pictures and ultimately offered to dress us as they were dressed.

After completion of costumes and once it had been decided that we too would partake in the parade, we went ahead to see soldiers adding finishing touches to their costumes and chanting amongst themselves. They were to parade a historical reconstruction of Polish soldiers who had fought in the war that led to the country’s independence. It was a delight to be in the midst of such a joyous celebration.

The parade began.

Stepping into the drizzling rain, the crowd was enormous! They waved and smiled as the parade party passed by. The experience was exhilarating – celebrating the National Independence Day of Poland alongside the Poles, waving to children in the crowds and taking so many pictures along the way.

The day could not have been any more special, all thanks to the lovely ladies in white gowns and red capes.

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View of the Zamek Castle Cultural Center from Plac. Mickiewicza

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Statue performer

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Wall art depicting a time-line of Polish history | Zamek Castle

 

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Getting ready for the parade

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It was a joyous occasion!

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A historical reconstruction of Polish soldiers who fought the war towards the country’s independence

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Red capes and white gowns

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Polish street cuisine

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Poznan, Poland | City Blog

TRAVEL

A question I’ve often found repeatedly directed at foreigners residing in Poznan is; “How do you find it?” And so often I’ve come to find that not only do I give the same response with the change in inquisitors, but I also receive the same answer whenever I extend the same question to other outsiders.

Poznan is a city on the Warta River, in Greater Poland. This city is best known for its renaissance old town and is amongst the largest & oldest in Poland. It has been my home for just over three years now, and O’ so often I’ve answered the above question with “It grows on you”, and this is true.

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I had no previous knowledge of Poland before settling to study in Poznan, let alone the culture or cuisine of the Polish people. The detail I was certain of, which seemed to have given me false confidence concerning geography, was that I could easily locate the country on a map & like most people I had often confused it with Holland [the Netherlands].

Appreciation & understanding of a place, I believe arises from ones views & knowledge of where they come from, as well as knowledge of the place they’re trying to gain an understanding and appreciation for.

Places are uniquely different. Molded by historic influences on culture, economy, architecture and so forth, I’ve often found that society progresses and builds itself to make provision for dominant habits whilst attempting to stay rooted in cultural norms. Certain differences may prove inconvenient, while others may proof beneficial to outsiders.

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Stay long enough in a place and you’ll soon come to see the cracks & imperfections in systems. You will get critical as you get accustomed. On the other hand, I’ve come to realize that the things I most appreciate about living in this city have remained a constant over time.

Poznan is bigger than I’ve explored. In the little corner of the city where I live, which is the Grunwald dzielnica or neighbourhood, silence and lack of disturbances in the neighbourhood is what I’ve come to appreciate the most.

Coming from a country where simply carrying your purse the wrong way or leaving it unattended could have it snatch in the blink of an eye, I’ve quiet grown accustomed to my mother’s constant reminders of holding my purse close to my chest anytime I walked the town. Living in Poznan, I’ve noticed that there are times when chivalry shows up. I’ve come to appreciate this notion the day I unknowingly climbed aboard a tram with an open handbag and had somebody lightly tap on my shoulder and advise me to close my bag. Mind you, I’m on no attempt to paint a perfect picture of this centrally located polish city – as there are things I often observe in Poznan, that are not common where I come from. Second hand public smoking is something one often runs into more often than not. You’re likely to find yourself walking behind someone strolling with a cigarette in hand ahead of you.

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Old Market Square

One thing I can comment on, for both the city I hail from (Windhoek) as well as for Poznan, is the beauty in their sunsets. Now, of course this sunsets are subject to seasonal change – but when the opportunity presents itself and one takes a glance at the horizon from a good point of view, you are bound to find an astonishing sunset that will make you appreciate the dance of colors from lighting produced by sun beams during the summer & autumn seasons.

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Old Market Square

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Plac Wolnosci

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Fredry Street

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Jordan Bridge | Most Biskupa Jordana

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Archcatherdral Basilica of St.Peter & St.Paul

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Lake Malta

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