A day in Amsterdam

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Last weekend one of my best friends  from Belgium visited me, besides some fun in my neighbourhood, I decided to show him a bit of Amsterdam. Normally when I go to Amsterdam it’s mainly for shopping, so I’d never seen Amsterdam through the eyes of a tourist and I decided that it was about time. So this is how I had a blast doing touristy things in Amsterdam.

In the morning we took the train from the town next to mine, to Amsterdam. In about 1,5 hours we arrived at the always crowded station of Amsterdam Central. One of the things that had always peaked my interest when visiting Amsterdam, was the sexmuseum. Which sounds a bit like a strange sight for a city, but it is one of the main ones. And the entrance fee was only 5 euros, so naturally we decided to visit it. The only thing I really have to say about the museum is that it was quite odd and rather shocking, but what do you expect from a sexmuseum, and I would still recommend it.  After the museum we just did a little bit of a city tour, we walked along the canals, through the red light district which was rather empty since it was a Monday morning. After that we walked around on Dam Square, through the abundances of pigeons, and after that of course I also had to show my Belgian friend the shopping street. When we finished the walking tour it was lunch time, for lunch we ate some classical Dutch fries, meaning that they are served in pointy paper bags with peanut sauce on it (makes sense right?), served with a snack you get out of the wall (aka a fending machine placed in a big wall that serves hot snacks, again makes sense). After lunch and all the half-naked bodies we had seen  that morning, we decided to go for something fun and bubbly, so we went to Artis, Amsterdam’s city zoo. Artis I one of the things I would highly recommend when visiting Amsterdam, even though almost every place has a zoo. Artis is definitely one of the best ones I’ve ever visited, it’s not only the oldest zoo of the Netherlands, but it also has a galore of animals, and it’s very spacious, for both animals and humans. And above all Artis is really big on education, which I always appreciate in a zoo. For example in the aquarium they portray the fish life in Amsterdam, and how littering has an effect on animals and the envirionment. We had spend much time in the zoo that afterwards it was dinnertime already, we bought some snacks at the Albert Heijn To Go (city-supermarket) and ate them at the side of one of the canals.

So yeah, that’s basically how I tried being a tourist in my own country. I hope it brought you some inspiration to do touristy stuff close to your home, or just some ideas of what to do when you visit the beautiful city of Amsterdam!

-Until next time-

Brit

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Day 9-15 Namibia

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Day 9

On the ninth day we went for a second time to Etosha national park, after a breakfast just as exquisite as the dinner at our accommodation we left to continue our way through the park. Re-entering through the Anderson gate at sunrise hoping to spot as much animals as we could at the crack of dawn. Right away after we passed through Okaukuejo camp we got lucky by seeing a hyena on the sight of the road. Now looking back on our trip through Etosha that hyena made the most impression on me. Of course, I mean, I was already stunned at the sight of elephants and  giraffes, massive animals that they are. But such animals can be spotted at the zoo, in children’s books, postcards. Not saying that any of those things come close to seeing them in the wild. But a hyena, I had never seen I hyena before, sure like on the Lion King depicted as awful creatures, or maybe they popped by on an image somewhere. But in real life, I was so impressed by that single hyena I saw standing on the sight of the road, half bear- half dog like. After we spotted the hyena, we continued our way from water hole to waterhole, honestly not spotting much more then zebra’s.  Until at a certain point a congestion of cars appeared, and being a wild park, if there are a lot of cars there is something special to spot. And yes there was, a rhino was hiding in the bushes just on the side of the road, 2 out of the big 5, check.  After the rhino we went to our last waterhole, we made our way back to Okaukuejo camp for some lunch. The lunch was not that great, besides Okaukuejo being overcrowded the food was also real bad. We paid about double the price we would pay at any other buffet in Namibia, and there was only choice out blank white rice, potatoes and salad. I mean, again I have nothing to complain Namibian buffets had been great so far, but it was just a bit of a disappointment. After lunch we went to the small museum at the camp, and after that we went back to our accommodation. Where again we chilled at the pool, and of course I had to go for a hike again.  I hiked past the viewing point I had been the day before and walked up to a small hideout. The hideout was great besides a small family of warthogs, there were hundreds upon hundreds of small birds. They were flying around in big flocks stopping at different trees, the only sound you could hear was all our their tiny wings flapping in the air, it was truly wonderful. We stayed in the hideout for a while watching all the birds, when we walked back I started getting dark so we went to the bar for a bit and after that we had delicious dinner again.

Day 10

Day 10 was going to be our third day in the park, once more we drove through the Anderson gate. Making our way to our next destination Halili Camp. Yet again we drove from waterhole to waterhole, spotting plenty of animals, slowly the once majestic giraffes and elephants grew to be like cows in the field. I was still fine with driving around and seeing all the different animals, but my fellow travellers were a bit sick of siting in the car all day. Since you can’t exit the car because of dangerous animals. You could only exit at rest stops, which I still find a bit strange, because why wouldn’t there be dangerous animals at rest stops. But anyway the mood was a bit down that day. We were almost at our last stop, when we saw number 3 out of 5. At a waterhole we didn’t wanted to stop at first, we spotted some female lions. Of course the whole places was crowded with cars, but we still had a front row seat at a female lion drinking from the waterhole. I must say it was pretty cool and fortunately it brought the vacation spirit back in our car. After that waterhole we went to our accommodation in Halili Camp. Again it was a bit overcrowded, but what did I expect when it was high-season and one of the major accommodations in the park. They however had a beautiful waterhole where is spent my afternoon reading, since hiking wasn’t an option. In the evening we had dinner at the camp, which wasn’t that great, but at least better than in Okaukuejo. After dinner we went the waterhole at the camp, like all the camp guests. Because it was dark just after sundown it was the best place to spot animals. The main act were three rhinos, walking around the whole evening quarreling with each other. Besides that also some hyena’s came to the waterhole (yay). And later that evening a whole herd of elephants appeared, small ones, big ones, pretty majestic.

Day 11

Day 11 was our last day in the park, we mostly just drove pretty quick through it. Still spotting some lions, also a male one this time. And once more we spotted a big herd of elephants, this time in day light so that was very fortunate. We arrived rather early at our next accommodation which I found to be quite a shame, since around the place, there wasn’t much to do. It was still a great place, with a lovely dinner.

Day 12

Since we kind off had wasted the day before, this day we decides to do some classical sightseeing again. So we visited the Hoba-meteorite, it was a fun visit, but at the end of the day it was just a massive rock that didn’t feel like much special. After our visit to the meteorite we went to the city of Otjiwarongo, where we first had some lunch and some drinks, and afterwards we visited the famous crocodile farm it the city. I had never been on a crocodile farm before, so it was a nice experience. It was especially great to get some information about the Nile crocodile, their history and such. It was a fun visit but wouldn’t necessarily recommend. Afterwards we went to our accommodation, gorgeous lodges in the middle of nowhere, with a great restaurant.

Day 13

On the thirteenth I was literally stoked because we had planned to visit the Cheetah Conservation Fund. The Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) is a non-profit organization that basically, well the name already says it, helps with the conservation of cheetahs in Namibia. Since Namibia has the highest population of the cheetahs in Africa, and they are endangered by farm life and bigger cats . At the fund we booked a tour to drive around on the plot, visiting the cheetahs that couldn’t  be released in to the wild anymore, and we also visited a new project they have been working on with dogs. It made up for a pretty fun morning activity, and I loved seeing cheetahs up close like that, and of course the money you spend goes to a good cause so that was also pretty nice. In the afternoon we drove to the Waterberg Plateau park. In the park itself we had some lunch, and after that we went for a hike up to the plateau. It was marked as an “easy hike” but it literally felt more like rock climbing. Nonetheless it was an amazing hike, albeit a rough one. Right at the start of it we saw a dikdiks in the grass, the cutest and perhaps silliest animal ever. A dikdiks is the smallest antelope if I remember correctly but to me it looked more like a big rabbit than an antelope. Along the hike we also saw some babboons in the distance but we didn’t spot any wildlife besides that. The hike itself was truly gorgeous, and the view at the end of it was also totally worth it. The hike back was even worse than going up we accidentally went on a steeper path down, then the original hiking route. But still, I love me some hiking, so totally worth it. Afterwards we exited the park, and we went back to our accommodation. After dinner we played some cards and then we made our way to bed.

Day 14

On the 14th day, sadly enough we had to make our way back to Windhoek, since we were going to leave the day after. We left our beautiful accommodation, and we went for a last morning activity. Since the CCF was such a success the day before, we decided that we also wanted to visit Africat which is another non-profit conservation organization, they not only help with the conservation of cheetahs, but also support lions, leopards an wild dogs in Namibia. Again we went on a small tour, to different cheetahs enclosures. And they showed us their healthcare facilities and they gave us a small tour through a museum. After the tour we ate some lunch at Africat, and we got back on the road again to go to Windhoek. We arrived at the end of the afternoon in Windhoek, we packed all our stuff and with we went for a last meal. We wanted to go back to Joe’s beer hut from the first evening but unfortunately it was fully booked, so we ended up at an Italian restaurant.

Day 15

Our last day was basically just waking up, eating our last Namibian breakfast, and making our way to the airport. I had quite a hard time saying goodbye to this beautiful country, I had truly I blast travelling around in it, and I hope to visit it once more in the future.

-Until next time-

Brit

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At CCF
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Crocodile Farm
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The gang just chillin’

Day 5-8 Namibia

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Day 5

On the 5th day it was unfortunately time to head back to a city-life, after an again wonderful breakfast at the neighboring lodge, we made our way to the city of Swakopmund. Starting our driving a little later than usual, since we woke up early every day since we had arrived. Our first stop was at the “village”, I guess you can call it, of Solitaire. Solitaire is the only place on a long stretch of road where we could stop to tank and to get some food, so naturally we stopped there. We first went to the bakery of solitaire, where they had all kinds of delicious treats. The bakery also had, hold on, the first real coffee machine we had seen so far, so of course we indulged ourselves with some delicious cappuccinos for the first time since we’ve landed. After the small break we went over to the petrol station to fill up our car, when we discovered that the hood on the back of our 4×4 Range Rover had partially broken off (terrific explanation, basically just car trouble). Lucky for us they could kind off repair it at the garage next to the petrol station, bad luck for us the reparation took about 1,5-2 hours which meant that we had lost quite some time that day. But that didn’t ruin our spirit, still full of excitement did we make our way to Swakopmund.The drive to Swakopmund was absolutely gorgeous. The first stop we made was at the all famous Walvis Bay, which turned out to be quite a disappointment. We drove around for a bit in the city itself, until we made our way to the shore to spot some birds, but since it was quite foggy there wasn’t much to spot. We also could only stay there for a short while because of the time lost in Solitaire, and we wanted to be at our hotel before sundown.  So, we left Walvis Bay behind us and entered the city of Swakopmund. We stayed at a hotel near the beach with a beautiful view, once we arrived at the hotel we went for a little beach walk, and in the evening we ate at this fancy restaurant called The Tug, which was rather nice but still couldn’t live up to the previous dinners.

Day 6

After a small breakfast we left the city again to our next destination, Day 6 was a day of long drives, because we wanted to take a scenic drive so we could pass by the Spitzkoppe. Our first stop that day was at a little government operated gem market , where the locals could sell their gems (that were dug up in the surrounding area), in the form of necklaces, bracelets, you name it. It was I quite nice place to get so souvenirs.  After that we just made our way to the accommodation, only stopping for petrol stations. We stayed in the Erongo mountains, in Hohenstein lodge, which had the most beautiful view so far. When we arrived we booked a sundowner game drive for the afternoon, and before that we went for a small hike to a bird spotting point. The game drive was quite nice although we didn’t see many new animals, however we saw a baby giraffe which was pretty amazing. Also watching the sunset in the Erongo mountains from the safari car with of course a Windhoek lager, was totally worth it. After the drive we had dinner at the lodge, a set and included dinner menu.

Day 7

The 7th day was again, you’ve probably already guessed it, a day of long drives. This day was a bit of a downside to the whole trip. Since we only had two weeks in Namibia, and we wanted to see as much as possible, which meant staying in the car a lot. This day we were just fed up with staying in the car the whole time, also because this day there wasn’t much to see, the day was just a drive/no sightseeing day only. Which ruined the mood a bit. The only stop we made was at a village to eat our lunch and to get some coffee. We had received lunch boxes from the previous place,  and they gave us the strangest lunch ever. Maybe it was just something I had never seen before, but it was just odd. They gave us schnitzel on cake? Like literal cake. Maybe it’s a German thing that stuck around in Namibia, or just an open-minded cook that had prepared our lunches. Anyway it was still a fine meal. Also the coffee that day was odd, the waitress just gave us boiled water with coffee pads inside of it, again it was fine but just odd. Besides the strangeness of our meals that day not much excitement happened. We arrived at our lodge, Rustig Toko Lodge, the place was pretty nice. A lot of the locals (among them Herero’s fully in traditional clothing) also came to the Rustig Toko Lodge to have dinner, and to sit around the camp fire watching the sunset. It was nice to sit with locals for a change, because a great deal of the places we stayed at were just tourists. For dinner there was again a little buffet, which was fine. After that we played card games as usual and made our way to bed.

Day 8

Moods completely restored, because today was going to be an exciting day. From Rustig Toko we made our way the famous Etosha Park. We entered the park through the west gate, Galton gate. After some necessary paperwork we could finally enter the gates. If you are unfamiliar with Etosha Park, it is the biggest and most famous wild life park in Namibia, the best place to spot the big 4 (because number 5 is not to be found there). Throughout the park you have different waterholes, just like at the accommodations, where you can spot different animals. When we entered the gate we took an immediate turn to the first waterhole. And the first waterhole was just a-m-a-z-i-n-g, while the days before we had struggled to just even spot a hartebeest in the distance, this waterhole was just jam-packed with an abundance of animals. It was just crazy, hundreds upon hundreds of zebras, springbok, oryx, eland, wildebeest even giraffes in the distance. We stayed at the waterhole for quite a while, just staring at how stunning it all was. After that first waterhole we just hopped on from waterhole to waterhole spotting different species along the way. We stopped at the Dolomite camp, and after that at Olifantrus to eat our lunch that we had bought at a supermarket.  After Olifantrus we didn’t spot much for a while, until at a certain point we stopped at an abandoned  waterhole. Right before we turned around to go back to the main road, I squinted my eyes and thinking I saw something in the distance. I instantly grabbed the binoculars, and saw the gigantic (in my opinion) king op the savannah. A massive male elephant was just slowly walking up to us, casually like it was nothing. He just walked by, relaxed, took a look at the waterhole , where we just were parked in front of, no biggie, and walked on disappearing into the distance. The first elephant we saw was just a breathtaking experience. It is crazy to see an animal you always see on tv or in a zoo, to see such an animal up close, right in front of your car. After the elephant, we soon reached our last on the way stop of that day, Oukaukuejo camp. We just parked our car there, ate some icecreams, wrote some postcards and we moved on to our next destination. Right out of the Andersson gate, we stayed at Etosha Taleni Village. The best accommodation yet, I know I keep saying how amazing the places I stayed at are but they really just keep surpassing the previous accommodations, and the keep surpassing my expectations.  Before dinner I, of freaking course, did a small hike with my brother. We hiked to a viewing point where we spotted some zebras. After that we had dinner, best buffet ever. Taleni village is from the same lodge chain as the Sossusvlei lodge we used to eat at (the place of the chickenbirds, and also an amazing buffet). So for the dinner part my expectations were rather high, and oh were those expectations met. Just delicious. Later I found out that this place is known for the best buffets of Namibia, and what can I say it’s true!

More days will follow, and as always

-Until next time-

Brit

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Reaaaaal close
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Afrikaanse road signs
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oryx in action
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Scenic drives

Namibia 2017 day 1-4

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It has been a couple of days since I’ve landed in breathtaking Namibia, and so far it has truly been an epic experience. In my first four days I’ve already seen amazing things.

Day 1

After a long twelve hour flight with a stop in Luanda, Angola, we finally landed. Right when we came out of the airport, we already got lucky by spotting some wildlife (or game as it’s called) along the highway, several baboons were playing in the grass, hopping from fence to fence. When we arrived at the accommodation we just relaxed for a bit. After that we headed into the city for some good old sightseeing, we went to all the different sights bought some cliché souvenirs. After the tour throughout the city we went to this place called Joe’s Beerhouse where I had my first try at some springbok meat (which was kind of scary to try, but oh boy so delicious) and I paired the springbok meal with (of course) some Windhoek Lager. Overall I must so even though I rather enjoyed Windhoek, it’s quite a small city with only a few sights, still worth a visit but the one day we had there was more than enough.

Day 2

On the second day we made our way out of the city heading to the Kalahari Desert. This day existed mainly out of driving but we made a few stops on the way. For our first stop we made a quick break in the city of Rehoboth, we had some lunch there just before heading into the city, that’s when the Namibian poverty first hit us, while we were enjoying our lunch we had several people coming up to us asking for money, which I mean is quite understandable, in Namibia there is unemployment of 50% which made us, as “rich” tourists the money income for the unemployed. Also when we drove through the city of Rehoboth it was rather shocking to see all the people in their self-made homes. We also fueled up in Rehoboth, at the petrol station there was a small kind of “museum” outside where you could read about the history of Rehoboth which was very interesting, because it gave more information about the city then any of the travel books we brought with us. After our short stop we made our way to the Kalahari Dessert, where we stayed at truly gorgeous  lodges in de middle of nowhere, called Kalahari Anib Lodge. Once arrived me and my brother and I did a small hike near the lodges, where we spotted our first warthog ( aka Pumba) in the distance, truly a silly animal when it ran away from us, with its tiny tail wagging in the air. After the hike we sat on the edge of the swimming pool, watching the sundown near the waterhole. As the evening slowly grew darker several animals made their way to the the waterhole, and we spotted the greater kudu, some oryx and springbok. After that we had some wonderful dinner at the lodge, buffet style.

Day 3

Before we left the Kalahari Desert to head on to our next destination, we had our first game drive in the morning. Game drive is where you sit in a safari car, and drive around to see if you can spot different animals. We drove around on the plot of the Anib Lodges, I slightly expected to see some more warthogs and springbok, maybe even an oryx if we got lucky. But oh boy was I wrong, we did not only see the ones as mentioned above, but we saw zebra´s, blue wildebeest and kudus. At a certain point we went out of the car for a small hike so the tour guide could show different plants and trees, and I asked him if there were any giraffes on the plot as well, he told that there were but that they are really hard to spot. But of course again we got lucky, when we went back into the car to head back to the lodges we spotted some giraffes, eight, nine maybe even ten of then all eating from the same tree just on the side of the road. It was extraordinary to see such an animal, an animal that you see in the zoo or in movies, to see such an animal in real life, in the wild. Full of amazement we came back to the lodges where we packed our stuff and went off to our next destination, Sesriem. When we left we received lunch packages, which is a very handy thing to order at your accommodation if you´re up for a long drive, because you never know how far away your next meal is going to be. After we left we just drove straight away to our next accommodation, well straight away, we did get lost at one point, but fortunately we found the right way soon enough. When we arrived at our accommodation, Desert Quiver Camp, we unpacked our stuff, chilled at the bar for a bit and we went to the lodge near us for some dinner. Again dinner in buffet-style, but this time with added barbecue elements, there were several chefs outside where you could pick any kind of meat (even crocodile, I mean CROCODILE) and they would grill it for you. Best dinner so far, also beautifully located, outside just in front of the waterhole. After dinner we sat at the bar for a bit to play some good old card games, while playing card I discovered this delicious soda, totally not Namibian probably available in a lot of other countries, but anyway it became my Namibian holiday drink: Schweppes Lemonade (also nicely paired with vodka).

Day 4

Day four was a rather exciting day. Well, all the other days had been exciting so far but this day we didn’t have to drive as far as usual since we stayed at the same accommodation for two nights. So that meant a whole day of exploring and hiking. We started the day off with an very very early breakfast at the same place as we had dinner. The meat grilling was switched to egg frying, and the breakfast buffet was just as glorious as the dinner buffet. While we were having breakfast, these silly birds were running around outside, later on I learned that they are called helmeted guinea fowl, and that they are literally everywhere, but from that moment on I just called them chickenbirds, because they looked like failed chickens to me, still beautiful, but failed. After breakfast we drove to the Sossusvlei, an extremely popular sight, that my dad called the Eiffel tour of Namibia, which is don’t think does it justice. The Sossusvlei is part of this enormous desert, which exists mainly out of picturesque dunes and valleys. While we drove through we climbed one of the most famous dunes, called dune 45. Not only did the dunes look spectacular, several 100 meters high, with a sharp cartoonish line in the middle, but also the view from dune 45 looked extraordinary. With bare feet we climbed up the dune, and we went back sliding down the sides. After we climbed it, we drove on to the valleys, first we drove on the usual gravel roads, and after that we had to drive through mule sand which was quite an adventure since a few cars got stuck. After that we reached the famous deadvlei which looked straight out of a Salavdor Dalí painting, white plain field full of dead trees and vultures, surrounded by the sky-high dunes. It was a breathtaking scene. Unfortunately we couldn’t stay to long, since it was almost noon which made the weather too hot to stay. Just before exiting  the park we stopped for some lunch, and we ate some classic American burgers the Namibian way, with of course some lemonade. After lunch we went to Sesriem canyon inside the park, the canyon is actually how the town of Sesriem got its name. The farmers who used to live there needed six (ses) belts (riems) to get the water out of the canyon, that’s why it’s called Sesriem. The canyon made up for a great and short hike, and also great views. Afterwards, since it was getting too hot, we headed back to the camp, where we relaxed at the pool while watching the sundown. In the evening we went back to the other lodge for some delicious dinner. While finishing up with dinner we met Patty, Patty is the “house” oryx that lives on the plot of that lodge, which meant we got to see an oryx up really close which was a pretty special end to our stay in Sesriem.

So far I’ve already fallen in love with this country, the rest of my journey will be coming up soon on my blog. And as well ways

-Until next time-

Brit

 

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Escaping in a Dalí landscape, picture doesn´t do it justice.
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My new favourite animal: oryx
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Impressive dunes
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Osterich, on the Kalahari safari

Preparing for a journey: Namibia

 

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My next trip is all planned out, I’m going to Namibia. My very first time going to the African continent, and my first time going to really discover the unknown. Of course I’ve been to other countries, continents and so on, but it was all still so, I don’t know, western I guess. Africa is just something so different, it’s been for me always one of those places you see on a picture or on a TV, but not imaginable in real life. And now I’m really going, I’m leaving this Tuesday evening for a twelve hour flight to Windhoek, the capital. And oh boy I’m excited. I will be staying in Namibia for 16 days, starting in the capital and taking a road trip through the country together with my family. I hope to be writing about my experiences afterwards, but for now I would like to share with you how I/we kind off prepared for this different kind off “family vacation”.

Research

First of all of course the most important thing to do is to now your stuff. Something that I’ve experienced by booking this trip I actually how little I know about the African continent, let alone Namibia. For me it was always kind of like yeah Morocco and Egypt on the top, and South-Africa at the bottom. Of course I had some knowledge about the other countries, names, some capitals, religious backgrounds etc. but I’ve never really looked into them individually. So, naturally you have to research a country before you visit it. I did, and  I learned so much. For example some general background information about Namibia past, languages etc. but also more important information about safety, like getting the right injections, malaria pills,  but also how to handle different situations concerning the wild life.

Supplies

The next step is to get your stuff together. Part of the research is gaining the right supplies. For Namibia it´s for example handy to have your own mosquito net, mosquito socks, mosquito you name it. Also so good hiking shoes can be of great importance.

Besides packing and such that’s a little bit how I prepared for this exciting journey, I hope you like this small article and that it´s somehow useful for you, or just a fun read. Anyway I can’t wait to write about my actual experience in Namibia. And as always

-Until next time-

Brit

4 hours in Seattle

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Whenever I go on a trip  I like to beat the clichés, discover the unknown. Now being an inexperienced traveller this can be quite hard, often it’s just easier to follow the mainstream. Something I experienced when I had exactly four hours to spent in Seattle. How did I ended with such a short timespan you might ask? Well it was a daytrip with a travel organisation from Vancouver, the only way I could go there for a short time in a cheap way, being carless and driver’s license less and all.  So, being curious as I am of course I had to see as much as possible in my short 4 hours. And I ended up at the clichés, learning that the clichés can also be quite fun.

Space needle

Of course out of all the attractions I had to stop at the space needle, just to see it, just to say I’ve been there. But due to my time plan and little money that I had, I decided not to go up there. At the end I think that was the best decision, I’ve been there I’ve seen it, and at the end of the day it’s just another viewing point, am I right? But still a great one.

First starbucks

For y’all not basic white girls or coffee fanatics out there, Starbucks originated in Seattle. So naturally the first Starbucks can be found downtown the city of Macklemore and Jimi Hendrix. Every once in a while I do enjoy myself a Starbucks so it was quite fun to see where it all started. To see the mermaid logo as a whole. Also quite convenient is that the first Starbucks is near to all the other popular tourist attractions, so you can just pop by it on your way to the other things .Of course if you’re a diehard fan you have to go inside, but then again time.

Pike place market

So then we moved on, across the street of the first Starbucks is the famous Pike Place market. Nice to walk around, seeing people throwing fish in the air and to have the lunch of the day ( some traditional fish and chips). Spent quite a lot of my 4 hours here, and there are no regrets. If you take your time to walk around you will discover these funky nooks and shops. Which are always fun in my opinion. Also the place to get your ingredient for the next attraction: chewing gum.

Gum wall

Might be the most disgusting Instagram hotspot of the world, walls and walls covered in colorful gooeyness. And of course you have to help to build the wall, leaving a piece yourself behind. Although I found the Gum wall overall quite disturbing, with the colors overall it was still kind of beautiful, and the thought behind it that wherever you come from, whatever you look like you can just put a piece of gum on the wall and be part of a whole. Like many many people did before.

Seattle great wheel

The last attraction we visited was the great Seattle wheel, another viewing point yeaah. With some time left on our hands we decided that the wheel would be the perfect last attraction to visit, so we would still get some view over the city, while all cosy in a cabin and without paying the maximum. It was actually quite nice, although it was a gloomy and rainy day the view was still tremendous.

After that with some spare minutes we still ended up at a Starbucks scoring a coffee. I had glorious fun that day visiting the clichés, seeing what all the hype was about. I guess staying on the beaten path can also be refreshing. My only regrets are not having enough time to visit the Museum of Pop Culture, but who knows what the future holds, maybe I will be back.

Hope you enjoyed, and as always

-Until next time-

Brit

A complete guide to Santorini

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Santorini, the most romantic Instagram picture-worthy Greece island there is. Besides the hype around the place you will discover that it’s much more than a new Instagram feed. I visited the place last year, just as a random pick between the Greece islands. I wanted to visit Greece since it’s such a beautiful but above all cheap summer destination to go to. I looked for a small island, with both culture and beautiful nature and I landed on Santorini.

Background information

If you don’t have time to look it up on Wikipedia here is some basic information about Santorini: Santorini is one of Greece’s many islands, and it belongs to the Cyclades island group. The Island exists out of three main parts: the main island with its capital Fira, a volcano and a smaller island called Therasia. The island is all that’s left of a big volcanic eruption a looong long time ago. The island is quite small with its 15.000 habitants and with a surface about 105km² big. Without further ado let’s get into the places you should definitely look out for when visiting this picturesque place.

Fira

The first place I visited when I came on the island was the capital: Fira. Besides of course the touristy shops and things that every capital has, Fira’s main attraction is the old port. You can walk down to the old port on the famous donkey trails. You can do this by foot manoeuvering your way through the donkeys, or for a few euro’s you can take the trip down on the back of a donkey. If you are down at the old port and you don’t want to walk or donkey up again? No problem, for a couple of euro’s you can take the cable cart going up again, while enjoying the beautiful view.

Beaches

While beaches may sound like a relaxing and lazy part of this trip, they don’t have to be. The two most famous beaches of Santorini are Red Beach and Black Beach, and like the names already say these beaches are black and red. While you can of course relax and swim at these beaches they are also perfect for a beautiful beach stroll, or snorkeling.

Historical sites

Of course being Greece the island also comes with some historical sites, dating way back to the old times. Akrotiri is the main historical place, easy to combine with visiting Red Beach. The entry can be quite pricey since it’s about €15,- for not much to see , however there are special prices for students and you can also buy a pass that will allow you visiting all the historic sites of the island.  For all of you hikers out there, there is also an archeological site at the top of a mountain on a hiking trail between Perissa beach and Kamari beach (both black beaches). This site was in my opinion the  most worth visiting, since I can’t resist a good hike, the price to enter was way below the price of Akrotiri and this side was also in the open air unlike the Akrotiri site.

Oia

The other “big” city on the island is Oia, also know for an old port with donkeys. Oia can also be combined with another popular hike of the island. There is a 10 kilometre trail between the capital of Santorini and Oia, a breathtaking trail along the coast line, with beautiful scenic views and little chapels on the way. The beginning of the trail is quite hard to find, but there are always people who are willing to help you, and once you’ve found it the path becomes quite clear. There are also a few fruit stands and places to drink on the way. Once you’ve reached the city of Oia I would higly recommend to go down to the port and enjoy the sunset, something Oia is famous for. Down there you have plenty of restaurants but you can also bring your own food and have a little picnic in the rocks. Also in the city itself you have restaurants that can give you a beautiful view over the sea and the sunset, and they may seem like more expensive places but the price difference between a restaurant with view and a normal one is minimal.

Volcano

Another thing that I found quite exciting was to visit the volcano of Santorini, Which you can reach by boat. Me and my friend booked a trip on a sail boat which was about €30,- I would say, at Caldera’s boats.  We had to book it a day in advance. On the day itself we got picked up by a bus, near to our hotel, that brought us to the harbour. On the harbour we entered the sail boat. Our first stop were the hot springs, the hot spring are naturally heated by the volcano, part of the water with a lot of mud.  They gave us some time to swim around and to cover ourselves in mud and after that we were off to the volcano. On the volcano we had time to explore and to walk around, and they gave us a tour with background information of the volcano. After that we went to the island of Thirassia for some lunch, a nice small island and great to visit for lunch only. At the end of the trip they stopped at Oia for us to get off the boat and to enjoy the city.

Cinema

Something fun to do in the evening is going to the cinema, not just your basic old cinema, but Santorini has an open air cinema in the city of Kamari. The cinema both displays new and older movies depending on the day. Sit back relax in a beach chair and order your classic popcorn with a tropical cocktail.

Public transportation

All over the city are bus stops, provided with timetables. Also in most of the hotels they will provide you with the timetable of the bus and otherwise you can always find it on the internet. Although its always good to have a timetable don’t expect the bus to always be on time, in Greece coming late is quite a habit. The bus will cost about two euros depending on the destination. Another thing you can do to get around is renting either a scooter or a quad, renting places are to be found all over the city.

These are all the things I did during my stay in Santorini, things that I would surely recommend. Everything took about 5 days, which I would say is the perfect time for staying on Santorini since it’s quite small. Hope you enjoyed and that you will consider Santorini as your next destination! And as always

-Until next time-

Brit

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Red Beach
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Donkeysss!
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Thirassia
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Fira – Oia hiking trail