So as the title mentioned, here are some photos from Amsterdam. That's in the Netherlands. It's on your bucket list. And now the photos:
HoliDaze Guide Amsterdam's Top Offbeat Activities
Most people who live in places considered to have a 'normal climate' often long to the south. Yes, sure enough 'south' often has it all, cheap drinks, temperature, beaches, cheap food, cheap hotels, cheap flights...
But what many of these places lack is sights and adventure! And even if they have a bit of that, not too many of us normal people enjoy hiking in the mountains in 40° C (or more!) heat. Most of us at some point get a little sick of the same old thing, even if the beaches on Costa Del Sol might not be exactly like the ones on Gran Canaria, the concept is the same -- Warm, sandy and sunny. As a Norwegian, and particularly a Northern Norwegian, I know all about longing for the southern parts of the world. I may not have been to too many exotic places, but I have spent my fair share of time in Southern Europe, on the beach, flat out, frying in the heat. Now I've "re-discovered" my own country and region that I have gotten a little older.
I moved to the town of Tromso in Troms County, Norway. I moved here predominantly to study, but I fell in love with the town. The town has many positive aspects, firstly during summer time, it never gets dark due to the midnight sun, and during summer there are numerous festivals and activities going on, during the winter, the northern lights dance across the sky almost like magic. The town is located on an island, in the middle of a strait leading up to a fjord. The airport is located in the middle of the island, 5 minutes away from the city centre. The airport has daily flights to other destinations in Norway such as the capital, Oslo, but also international flights linking it to world cities such as London. During my time in Tromso, I worked for three hotels, all at a different end of the scale. The town offers everything from good value 3 star hotels, to high end 5 star hotels. There are major chains located in the city such as Scandic, Radisson BLU and Choice Hotels, yet also smaller chains and independent hotels all offering something unique to the city. As the largest city in Northern Norway. Tromso offers a vibrent night-life, a multitude of shops and leisure, as well as great sights.
My first trip to Egypt was when I was 19 on my school holidays in Britain. It was a tour package which included hotels, the famous museums, camel riding around the pyramids and Abu Hawel (Sphinx), Luxor's attractions, a falucca ride down the Nile River in Aswan, Abu Simbel, all the food and and a comfortable train ride.
The price was very reasonable, but I saved even more when I booked my own flight to Cairo, using Tarom Romanian Airlines, via Bucharest. (Romania was still under socialism then and prices for those kinds of airlines were a bargain.)
I am much older now and this time came to Cairo by myself, avoiding the tourist scene almost completely and really discovering intimately a taste of "real" Cairo.
Able to struggle again using my broken Arabic, travelling by using public transport (Cairo has an excellent and cheap Metro!- The young sporty guys who were on the train were giving hungry looks making the train like a big cruising place! ), wandering around back roads and alleyways, an Cairo neighbourhood called Old Islamic Darassa, and elsewhere- I fell in love with Cairo, and love the relationships I made with the gracious people (sitting and talking together over tea/qahwa) and discovering that not everyone wants "baksheesh", but lovingly hold your hand and guide you through their (frustrating but rewarding) system of things in their city. My short but sweet experience put Cairo in my heart and now I want to return and discover it again and again!
I wandered out from my guest house in Darassa's old back streets hoping to find some sweets to nibble on before trying to go to bed when a bunch of older men were playing cards and watching a game on the telly. One of the men shouted for me but I gestured and pointed in a direction suggesting that I wanted to continue walking on, but they insisted I come in to their man den and join them all for some tea and conversation, smoke filled the room as the sports programme on the TV competed with our small conversations. I also saw a small shop with a showcase of Hummus beans. The guy behind the counter was flirting with me and the other men in the shop were smiling with him. I didn't get any hummus but I do remember all those smiles!
These small encounters and are precious to me and the feelings are unforgettable. Moments like these are the highlights of visiting Cairo and other cities in Egypt and not just the pyramids and tourist saturated places like that. I hope on another trip to Cairo I will be invited to a home and experience Egyptian hospitality like I have in other places in the world.
Featured photo by Ronald Woan via Flickr.
Freshly made kesong puti (native cheese) for breakfast is one of the perks whenever I travel to Laguna and Tagaytay. Paired with pandesal that is still hot from the oven or pugon with kapeng barako will surely perk me up even amidst chilly air. My trip to Cavite City introduced me to another version of kesong puti. Caviteños call it quesillo. This raw cheese made from carabao’s milk and wrapped in fresh banana leaves has a creamy texture just like the kesong puti I have been accustomed to. I was able to buy quesillo at P. Burgos Street in Cavite City just a block away from the Mercado del Ciudad de Cavite (Cavite City Public Market). To my dismay, I have forgotten how much it costs as I was too eager when buying. This article was initially published at my food blog Eat To Your Heart's Content
Be careful if saying that exotic things are the prerogative of remote from Europe lands, somewhere in Asia or in Latin America. The Portuguese can be truly offended and, in particular, will be right to remind you of Madeira, nicknamed by many "The Passion Fruits Island." The idea itself reflects this fruit is widely grown and used over the area, and if surfing over the internet pages or talking to locals, it is very likely to learn about passion fruit wine, passion fruit pudding, passion fruit liquor, etc. Doesn't it sound exotic? Yet, it is not the only cracy thing Madeira can offer to visitors. To enjoy special and contrasting Old World nature and culture one should definitely head to the island, one of the top places to go in Portugal.
Besides passion fruits in their pure form, so to say, cultivated on other corners of the world as well, it is quite possible to get alike yet no less interesting gifts of Mother Nature on Madeira markets. On Mercado dos Lavradores in Fucnhal, for instance, crowds of tourists are usually excited with the variety of fruits and vegetables, although their taste often does not suit each and every. Among the extraordinary "exhibits" one can notice passion fruit bananas: they resemble bananas in shape, but under thick green cover one will discover juicy passion fruit seeds! The view is indeed very amazing!
Enthusiastically, people also turn their heads to passion fruit tomatoes: they are very alike to common tomatoes, but, being cut, hit with saturated magenta color and a characteristic, rather sour, taste. Passion fruit melon is another story. It is the biggest of all, carries lemon yellow color, gets huge in sizes and its taste is in very deed delicious. The row of passion fruit fancies might be finished up with ananas (known as pineapples). They are treated as the most exotic on the island of Madeira. Outwardly, it is hard to find a matching fruit to describe, as this one does not look like any. This is a green bump of right cylindrical shape and about 20 centimeters at length. It is important to add that no hybrid fruits are sold on Madeira food markets, as skeptics can think. The fruits were not scientifically designed, although the merchants cannot but use this myth to attract buyers!
The idea of exotic fruits might be followed with the other one associated with various vivid flowers and trees, also grown on Madeira. Local guides, as well as those working in Madeira botanical gardens, will tell you that since Portuguese island discovery in 1419, sailors started to bring various unique species from abroad. Local villagers have been eagerly cultivating them for centuries and tried their best to make plants adapt to climate and weather of the neighborhood. The results might be examined at present, especially if attending Montepalace Tropical Garden, Madeira National Reserve, Orchid Garden and many others. Furthermore, you'll be really lucky to arrange your visit during Madeira Flower Festival, usually held right after Easter celebrations. Well, as of today you have a couple weeks to consider this idea and realize it. Frankly, Madeira is really worth it!
The title of the most romantic city in the world without a doubt belongs to Paris. The atmosphere oozes love and passion as it is home to many wonderful and picturesque places as well as lots of wonderful bars and restaurants to enjoy with a loved one.
Many people visit Paris on mini breaks with their partner and quite often to pop the question. Where better to propose than in the romance capital of the world. Here are some of the best places to get down on one knee, all within easy reach of top quality Paris hotels.
Notre Dame is one of the most romantic spots in Paris and the cathedral is simply stunning. The best time to propose here is on a clear night as the building is lit up beautifully and you can see stars in the sky.
For art lovers there is no more perfect proposal spot than the Louvre. Depending on your prospective spouse, choose from either inside one of the galleries, or outside by the glass pyramid made famous in recent years by the film The Da Vinci Code.
There are very few people on Earth who would not recognise the Eiffel Tower and its position overlooking Paris makes it a great place to pop the question. Travel up to the top and ask when in up high for maximum effect.
Another monument you can go to the top of is the Arc de Triomphe. This is often the first thing you see that let’s you know you have arrived in Paris, and the view from the roof is spectacular.Proposals are something you both will remember for the rest of your lives. Make it spectacular by taking your loved one to Paris to say those four magic words. For added wow factor try visiting one of these places at sunset in the summer. Book a hotel now and start practicing delivering that all-important line.
Arc de Triomphe photo courtesy of thausj on Flickr.