Don’t you love the feeling when the music from your earphones matches the setting around you? Don’t get me wrong, I also love hearing the actual sounds of your surroundings. I wouldn’t walk through the peruvian jungle or a Souq in Marrakesh listening to my favourite music, missing out on all the new interesting sounds around me. I love hearing languages that are new to me or the murmurs of the crowds, but then again sometimes there is nothing better than the right song at the right time. Here are some of my all time and some of my current favourites:

Rocket Man – Elton John20130308-001807.jpg

Angus & Julia Stone – Paper Aeroplane 

The Kills – Future Starts Slow 

K’naan – In the Beginning

The Lumineers – Ho Hey 

Popkulies & Rebecca – La vie est belle

Bloc Party – This Modern Love

Belle & Sebastian – Piazza, New York Catcher

Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros – Home (I just found this heartwarming video of the song) 

Nicolas Sturm – Idealist 

Bloc Party – Sunday

Last but not least a song that always makes me think of all the beautiful, funny, interesting and smart people I met along my way, with whom I had some of the best of times:

Rise Against – Swing Life Away

“I’ve been here so long, I think that it’s time to move
The winter’s so cold, summer’s over too soon
Let’s pack our bags and settle down where palm trees grow.

I’ve got some friends, some that I hardly know
But we’ve had some times, I wouldn’t trade for the world
We chase these days down with talks of the places that we will go”

One thing I always do which brings me a lot of strange looks is that I start dancing when I hear good music… So always remember when you dance around with your earphones on: you are the only one who can actually hear the music, but since I can’t seem to stop it, I’d say I’ll just keep on dancing and I would appreciate if others would do the same. Thank you.

On my way to my long weekend in Valencia I had a 4 hour layover in Paris. Yes, that’s what happens when you book the cheapest flights.

Fortunately, Paris airport isn’t the worst place to spend some time waiting to travel on. Most of the shops are way to expensive for a student like me, but luckily window shopping is for free. Of course I wasn’t able to resist to spend some of the money I saved up for my Valencia trip on the lovely things they sell. After I saw the delicious Macarons from Ladurée Paris I got a little “hungry”, what can I say? Especially the beautiful outside of the shops made me stop. But take a look for yourself:IMG_0557 IMG_0558 IMG_0559

I bought the smallest box with six little pastries for a crazy Price and I did even manage to save some for my friend in Valencia.IMG_0567 IMG_0568 IMG_0569

I found that the Macarons were too expensive but also a very nice present to bring home to the loved ones. Maybe next time I’ll succeed in bringing them all to my friend so we can share them together.

Help! Ayuda! Hilfe!

I am going to Valencia at the end of the month to visit one of my best friends from Cape Town. She is doing a semester abroad and I am really looking forward to seeing her. She just arrived a month ago and said she hasn’t really done anything so far, so any recommendations what to do?

Foto (12)

In early December my best friend and I decided that it was time for a short trip to Amsterdam again. For last years we have been going to Holland twice a year, because we absolutely fell in love. We don’t go there to party hard or smoke weed, we just think that Amsterdam has a lot to offer. This time we had even made a plan for our limited amount of time.

165106_476555975484_7919749_nAfter sleeping in very dodgy hostels at our last stays, we even put an effort in finding us a cool place, in a very nice area called “De Pijp” in “Amsterdam Zuid”. Our hotel is called “Bicycle Hotel Amsterdam” and as we made our way from Amsterdam Centraal we were very pleased with the location. The room with two beds was small, but nice and we had our own sink, but shared toilets and showers, which was completely fine with us, because that way we only had to pay around 60 Euros per night for the room (which is a good price for Amsterdam, I can tell you). Breakfast was included and we were very thankful for the coffee every morning. You can also rent bikes in the hostel, but even IF the weather would have been nicer, me and my friend are to scared to ride a bike in Amsterdam. We aren’t just scared of the cars, but mostly of the other bikers who can very mad if you don’t follow the rules, whatever they are.

Foto (10)Of course, because that’s how it goes when I am travelling in Europe, it was raining cats and dogs for two straight days (which resulted in a lack of photos). Smarty pants that we are, we did bring an umbrella and went for a walk, right after we arrived. We took a walk on the Albert-Cuyp-Market, which is just around the corner, where you can buy anything really, on our way to the Emaillekeizer. I love old enamel stuff, that you find on flea markets (for example the bread box and the mug with the hearts on the picture). But I discovered that the new stuff from Emaillekeizer is just as precious. The shop is packed with pots, mugs, plates, teapots, signs and everything your kitsch heart wishes for. And since my birthday was coming up, I was allowed to pick a present from my friend.

We brought our newest acquisitions back t the hotel and walk into the city centre, because we were hungry and thirsty. We ate a quick falafel and went straight on to our favourite bar in Amsterdam, that we found the last time we were there: Cafe ‘t Mandje – one of the first gay bars in Holland. It opened in 1927 for the first time and was reopened in 2008. For more information about the Bars history, check out their website.  The bar isn’t the hippest place in town or one where we made good friends or anything, but we feel at home when we go there. No one is uberfriendly, no one pisses you off, you can sit and have a good talk with your friends or someone else, and you can also dance… we love ‘t Mandje and it is our only real constant in Amsterdam, as we experience so many new things, every time we visit.

On our way home we decided to have another drink. First we went to Pilsvogel, which looked nice from the outside, but turned out to be a bit to snotty for us, so we went on to Café Krull instead (also on our way home), were we sat and talked into the morning hours.

165603_476555560484_6983327_nNext day was Saturday and one of the reasons I wanted to come to Amsterdam again is beautiful talented Angelique Houtkamp, a tattoo artist, who owns Salon Serpent. Every Saturday she does Walk-Ins, where she tattoos drafts that she and her team have been preparing during the week. I don’t think I have ever seen a drawing by Angelique that I didn’t like, so I am indeed a really big fan. I wanted to get a tattoo that day and on the unlikely case that I didn’t like the one-of-a-kind-drafts I wanted to make an appointment. But guess what? I chickened out. And I wanted it for so long… of course I regret it now, but maybe I’ll eventually get myself to make an appointment and just do it the next time I am there. We will see. But I can tell you, her parlour looks beautiful and she and the other artists are extremely talented. So go and check her out and remember the Walk-In Saturdays, because she is very busy and booked out up to 6 months in advance.

That day we visited the Anne Frank house, which was long-overdue, because we wanted to do it every time we were in Amsterdam. You learn a lot about the brave girl, her family, the people who lived with them and their helpers. I don’t want to go into detail about Anne Frank, because I could not do justice to their story and their lives in an article like this.

After leaving the Anne Frank house we had to rest for a bit, so we went for a coffee and dropped by Kitsch Kitchen in Rozengracht 12, where we spent an hour touching and playing with everything in the huge shop full of kitsch. But  reasonable as we sometimes are, we didn’t buy anything and went on to the next thing on our list.

164156_476555885484_2479996_nAfter getting lost and walking for 45 minutes through Amsterdam’s alleys, we finally made it to the PIC Amsterdam (the Prostitution Information Centre) with whom we wanted to take a guided tour through the infamous red light district. Our guide, a historian, with a focus on Amsterdam history of prostitution, was a lot of fun and she explained to us how the system works and why Amsterdam’s red light culture is as distinctive as it is. A very interesting tour, that lets you see the area from a  from a different perspective.

68232_476556475484_5536486_nSince it hadn’t stopped raining and we were very wet, we went to grab a bite to eat, before we went to Café ‘t Mandje again. It was the 1st of December, the World AIDS day and the bar was crowded. The proceeds from the candles they sold that night, went to a national AIDS foundation. Before going to bed we stopped at Casablanca, a karaoke bar, that is also located on Zeedijk. But the singing really hurt our ears, so we went back to Café Krull for one last drink.

After a good night of sleep and a coffee in the morning we started our last day with a visit of Amsterdam’s zoo, which is ridiculously expensive, but my friend loves zoos, so we went. The zoo is okay, but as every zoo, it does have deficits with to small enclosures. The best thing was that after a rainy couple of days and a rainy morning the sun eventually came out and we were finally able to drink one last coffee in the sun before we went homewards…IMG_0085

All said and told, another wonderful weekend in one of my favourite european cities.

(Some of the pictures from this post weren’t taken on the weekend I was writing about, because the weather was just to bad for good photographs).

As I am trying to review my travels of the past years, my post history might appear to a bit chaotic. Well that’s because there is no order behind it and since I am not travelling (but writing my bachelor thesis and exams at the moment) my life isn’t the craziest travelwise anyways. You will have to put up with me being reminiscent of former adventures. Forgive me if I sound a bit melancholic at times, but writing about travelling and not actually travelling but studying can be a bit depressing.

IMG_4713-vertRouteToday I’ll tell you about a rather spontaneous road-trip I went on with my boyfriend two years ago. On our first day we drove to Paris, where we parked right next to the Eiffel Tower and went on a 5 hour walk through the city. We walked to the Arc de Triomphe, down beautiful Champs Élysées to the Palais du Louvre, then passed the “Pont Neuf” (the bridge from one of my favourite movie “Les Amants du Pont-Neuf”) and finished our walk at Notre Dame. Et voilà, we made it through Paris in one day. No of course we didn’t see a lot, but it was just the right amount of time at that point, because we wanted to do some serious camping and we had to stop on our way down to the Atlantic coast. We spent the first night in a very cheap and not very nice hotel in Orléans and after wandering around the city, we were off to our first campsite on the seaside.

Beautiful old houses in Orléans

Beautiful old houses in Orléans

Next stop was Hourtin, where we found a campsite, that was situated in the pine woods and a ten minute walk from the sea. Of course that was the first thing we did. We went to the beach, with a bottle of french red wine and bought a pizza on the way. Our Campsite “Cote d’Argent” was ok, but a bit to much of a family campsite for us.Hourtin2

We left Hourtin behind and were off to Biarritz. Fancy huh? Living the life of the rich and famous, drinking champagne, gambling and so on? Nah, not really our lifestyle. But because we were already off-season, the tiny charming “Camping Biarritz” Campsite was only 15 Euros for the two of us, our tent and our car all together and it was located only a 15 minute walk from the beach. We fell in love with this place immediately, spent a lot of time sunbathing, surfing, reading and eating and when we had enough of that we went to Biarritz and the beautiful Bayonne, which is also close by. But since we had planned on going to Spain as well and we didn’t have an unlimited amount of time, we were off to San Sebastián after 3 nights, which is only about an hour away.

Beach near Biarritz

Beach near Biarritz

San Sebastián has a very special atmosphere. We spent the day walking around La Concha Bay and the historic centre of the city. We ate “Pintxos” (the basque version of tapas) and “Chocolate con Churros” (like a spanish doughnut with thick hot chocolate). We watched pelota players and visited the Basilica of Saint Mary of the Chorus in the “Parte Vieja”. After exploring San Sebastián the whole day, we went up Monte Igueldo right next to the city, following the campsite signs. We had an amazing view of the city on our way there and the campsite was nice and not too big.SanSebastian

On our trip we had heard about a really good surf spot on the Golf of Biscay near Mundaka and Gernika, but that apparently it wasn’t the best time of the year for surfing and our campsite was a disaster as well, that’s why we left for Bibao on the next day already.

Making friends on our way to Bilbao

Making friends on our way to Bilbao

In Bilbao we visited the famous Guggenheim Museum, walked around the historic centre and saw the beautiful old central station, but we didn’t spend the night.Bilbao1

We drove through the stunning countryside of the Basque Country and Navarra until we got to “Puente la Reina”. We found the campsite “El Molino” which is located next to a little lake and cheap. What we really enjoyed that there weren’t a lot of people and you could choose where you wanted to set up your tent. Next day we got up really early in the morning and had breakfast at the bridge to watch the pilgrims on the way of St. James.

On our way from Bilbao to Puente la Reina

On our way from Bilbao to Puente la Reina

Pamplona

Promoting the San Fermines, the Running of the Bulls, what I find to a animal-despising tradition, that should be banned.

Next stop on our way was Pamplona, where we followed Hemingway’s footsteps, what we had actually already been doing for quite a while, since we were reading Hemingway’s “Fiesta”, that takes place in a lot of the cities we had been to on our journey.Pamplona2

We still had some time left and to be honest, we were exhausted. We wanted to relax and we lost our heart to the little cheap campsite in Biarritz, so we packed our stuff and rushed back there. We spent some relaxing last days being happy about our life and our love.

Sunny day at the beach near Biarritz

Sunny day at the beach near Biarritz

Our best plan, was to have no plan. We were lucky we had enough time, we didn’t have to rush (not taking the highways, saved us a lot of money, as did cooking for ourselves every day). One of the best vacations of my life ❤

As I said in the last post, I like taking disposable cameras with me and the last time I did that was at Rocking the Daisies Festival 2012 in Darling / South Africa, because I knew I would probably lose my cellphone or DSLR, as some of my friends actually did. So I was happy to capture some of the moments on this beautiful festival.

Main stage

Main stage

This festival was special to me, because I spent, what was supposed to be last night in South Africa there. After two months, it was time to leave and on Saturday the 6th of October I headed off to Nairobi for a week. Bloc Party, my favourite band since forever, was playing and I knew that I was not going to be able to see them, but I still wanted to go… and it was so worth it.

Thursday night, the first night of the festival, only two stages were open. One was the campsite stage, where local heroes like Woodstock Mafia and Goodnight Wembley played, who I had already seen in Zula Bar on Long St. at “Sowing the Seeds”, the Prequel for “RTD”. My best buddy was stage surfing, we explored the area – it was a fabulous first night. Next day in the afternoon the rest of my friends arrived from Cape Town, as they didn’t get off from work like me. The whole day was full of sunshine, dancing, love, friendship and music.

The campsite

The campsite

The lake on the estate

The lake on the estate

If you ever go there, make sure you bring a bathing suit (South African spring offered us the best possible weather anyone could ask for), bring food (accompanied by a pot and a camping cooker) and drinks (no glass bottles). Even though food and drinks are relatively cheap (compared to european prices at festivals), the queues are terribly long and believe me, there is better things to do than standing in a queue. Also bring instant coffee, the coffee you can by there is instant coffee as well (and remember the queue). If you are a tourist and you don’t have any camping equipment, rent it. We borrowed out tent from a southafrican friend and it was the worst tent ever… it took us about an hour to put it up and there was three of us. If you don’t have a cooker and kitchenware, become friends with the neighbours on the campsite. As did we and we hung out with them the whole weekend and believe me, they were well prepared for camping.

View from my tent waking up. All the zippers were broke, so we couldn't close it, but I had the nicest view on  one of the beautiful southafrican sunrises.

View from my tent waking up. All the zippers were broken, so we couldn’t close it, but I had the nicest view on one of the beautiful southafrican sunrises.

Decoration

Decoration

If you happen to be in the Western Cape area in the beginning of October, RTD is worth the drive to Darling. The Three day ticket was about 500 Rand which is quite cheap compared to european Festivals but obviously still too expensive for most People in SA.

To sum it up, my last two days in SA couldn’t have been any more special. Next day a friend of mine drove me to the airport and I was exhausted after two days with almost no sleep and bad food and I was exhausted of the crying (I had a really hard time saying my Goodbyes). I got on the plane, landed in Joburg, found out my plane to Kenya was late and because of the ban on nighttime flights we couldn’t fly at all. The next plane to Nairobi was at 10am and because I really wanted to get on the first one, I decided to stay at the airport, since it was already 4 am when we were finally ready to head to a hotel…

As I was supposed to meet my brother and Dad in Nairobi at 5 o’clock in the morning to head off to Maasai Mara and I hadn’t slept in 3 days by then, I was close to a nervous breakdown. When I reached them on the phone and I told them that I wouldn’t make it in time, they decided to go without me and that I would have to spend the night in Nairobi to catch a flight to Maasai Mara the next morning. When I arrived, the airline had lost my luggage (I got it back, 3 days after that). It was a shitty shitty trip from SA to Kenya – the only thing I could think about was: I could have just spent another night with my lovely friends a RTD and I could have danced to Bloc Party all night, instead of lying on the airport floor alone…

Is there anything you always carry around whilst travelling? Besides a good book (even though you think you might not find the time to read, bring one just in case), I always bring a little note-book and the leather wallet from my grandma, that fits my passport / ID and other important documents perfectly. I also like to bring my pocketknife, not as a weapon of course, but as a handy tool, to peel fruits,  to open bottles and cans or to carve me and my boyfriends name into a tree (Not). I always bring my iPhone, but I tend to leave it in the Hostel / Hotel. I do that because I like taking a vacation from my Smartphone not primarily because someone could take it from me. That is why I also bring my precious old Nokia cellphone. When I stay in a country for more than 2 weeks I buy prepaid cards, to stay in touch with the people I meet and for emergencies. They are very cheap most of the time and so useful, when it comes to making friends, who don’t sleep in the same hostel room. I also take photos with one of my Lomos or with a disposable camera, because I don’t like carrying my DSLR Camera around all the time and developing pictures and holding them in your hands for the first time, always feels like unpacking presents under the christmas tree.

Equipment

  1. Pocket Knife by Victorinox Schweizer Taschenmesser
  2. Cheap torch with LED lights
  3. Granny’s wallet
  4. Old funny looking Nokia phone
  5. Red Note book “Eco Journal” by Inspirit
  6. Pen and Pencil
  7. Flip Flops by Flip*Flop
  8. Lomography Fisheye One by Lomography
Street Art - Buenos Aires / Argentina, 2010

Street Art – Buenos Aires / Argentina, 2010. Photo taken with the Fisheye Cam above.

Expo Area, Lisbon, 2010. Taken with my Lomography Action Sampler.

Expo Area, Lisbon, 2010. Taken with my Lomography Action Sampler.