Marrakech, Morroco

On April. 14, 2019 we arrived in Marrakech, Morocco. Our flight was so early that we hadn’t even had breakfast. We arrived from the airport by a taxi that was connected to the riad where we were staying A Riad is what they call a small hotel that used to be large family houses with a courtyard, in the old town (medina quarter) in Marrakech – they are like a larger bed and breakfast. Once he dropped us off in the middle of the main square (Jemaa el-Fnaa) a man had a cart that we put our bags in and he led us through a big market area (that we did not know our way around and kind of felt like a maze). Once we got to our riad, called Riad Ba Sidi we were welcomed in and had a welcome cup of tea (Tea is very popular in Morocco).

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That morning, we had breakfast at Riad Ba Sidi. Then we started to wander around the city. One thing that we all thought was going to be really bad was the fly catchers (random people that come up to you and start asking you questions to “help” you so that at the end they can get you to pay them for helping (or to get rid of them), when really you never wanted or needed help). I am not sure if this is something that has actually changed or if we were just lucky. There were aggressive vendors, but nothing too bad.  So we were able to walk around rather peacefully. But, the medina was very active.

Later in the day, we went on a city walking tour. The name of our guide was Usaff. The tour was organized by the place that we were staying at (Riad Ba Sidi). The most interesting thing that I learned during the tour was that each section of the old city has 5 things: a baker, a mosque, a water source, a school and a hammam. It is interesting that there is one baker in each area, residence bring their dough to them in the morning and they will bake the bread. A hammam is a bathhouse, they are public areas where locals go to bath weekly for a deep scrub.

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The next day for dinner, we joined a food tour (that I organized for us to join). Our guide’s name was Omar. In the food tour we stopped at little spots around the market and in the medina. Everything that we tried was classic Marrakech cuisine. In the tour we ate a traditional soup in the market. We stopped at an olive stall for a tasting.

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Tagine, (a VERY popular dish of meat in Marrakech cooked over fine in a clay pot) the chef who cooked the tagine used to be the chef of the king. The next stop was the neighborhood baker (they don’t cook it at home because they don’t want their houses to get to hot inside). And more, for YOU to discover.

The day after that, we started our journey to the Sahara desert (for a 3 day trip). Most of the day we drove around the Atlas mountains. We also had a few stops to see cool views and attractions (as well as lunch).

Later, we had dinner at the place that we were staying at which was good. At dinner we enjoyed some local food (surprise – tagine). We also had a view of the hotel pool and garden at dinner. The hotel was nice but nothing special.

The next day we continued our drive into the Sahara desert. It was VERY windy, which started to make us worry. Luckily the views were still beautiful as we entered the dunes. As we entered the Sahara we could see amazing views and passing wild camels.

Once we fillaly got to our ‘luxury’ camp in the desert the wind did die down some. We got checked in and relaxed some, while looking out at the endless dunes. The Sahara desert is the same size as the ENTIRE United States! Once we were all freshened up a bit, my dad and I went outside to try sand surfing on the dunes. I was a bit scared so I would jump off the board after three seconds of going down. But my dad was pretty good. Then my mom came so we put away the boards and walked out to dinner at the close camp behind a dune (the camps where owned by the same person. Just the other camp had people sleeping in canvas tents sharing one bathroom and our ‘luxury’ room was in a “cave or hut” thing). Dinner was served family style. After dinner (before sunset) we went on a private camel ride through the dunes. Where a guide led us by foot. AMAZING.

 

After returning, we chatted with other guests. Then we noticed that it would be sunset soon so we started to climb the dunes (it was hard, with each step in the sand your foot sinks down). We were told in many places and from many people, that this is one of the most beautiful things that they have ever seen in their life. The view meet our expectations very well and we loved the view.

 

If you go to the Sahara, or any other dessert then I definitely recommend that you know that sand gets into EVERYTHING! (luckily nothing bad happened to us) I do recommend for this problem that you get a ziplock or another kind of plastic bag, so you can put things in it so that they don’t get sand in them, like we used them for our camera and phones.

One of the most amazing things about staying in the desert is seeing the stars. So, we put a plan in place. That night, I had agreed with my mom that she would wake up in the middle of the night to see if the stars were out. If they were, she was to wake us. Unfortunately we slept through the night. We did all wake up to watch the sun rise and there was no wind. After breakfast we loaded up in our SUV and made the long drive back. We drove for hours through the middle of the desert before even seeing a road. Fortunately the views were great and we made a few stops. One was a tiny (like 15 people) village where we saw a local school and how the nomads lived.

That evening, we arrived at our very nice hotel for some peaceful dinner. Our hotel room was HUGE and included two buildings and a courtyard (for just our room!). The place was called Adama Resort. The place was very nice, it had fresh food and a super big pool. It also had clubs like an adult and a kid disco as well as yoga and sports (I did yoga with my mom and then kids volleyball).

The next day, we headed to a Country Club called, Beldi Country Club. The Country Club was fantastic and I wish that we could have gone for way longer. The place had so many things to do that sounded sooo fun. Like, pottery making for kids (I did but I had to leave mine since we were not there long enough for it to dry. So I made it and then they gave me some non-professionally made pieces that were similar.), bread making, cooking, etc. They even had 8 POOLS!!! Can you believe that, 8 pools at one resort?!? The resort was like an old city farm. There were several restaurants around the gardens. We enjoyed swimming in the greenhouse pool. That evening, there was a beautiful local wedding. It was fun to see the decorations and guests all dressed up. It was great!

Morocco, 5 stars out of 5!

Zagreb, Croatia and Slovenia

On February 23 my dad and I arrived in Zagreb, Croatia. We went to see my uncle and to be tourists in Croatia and Slovenia.

When we arrived we went to my uncle’s house, picked him up, and then started our drive out to the Dalmatian coast.

When we arrived we found our rented house and dropped of our stuff (with an easy arrival) and then head out to find a restaurant, because we where hungry. We looked on our digital map and found a close restaurant called, Bistro Marin (Posedarje, Croatia). When we arrived it was fairly late at night and it was dark. When we entered we realized that we where going to be the only ones in the restaurant. We went and had some traditional Croatian food.

The next day, after a good sleep. We headed off to see Zadar and the coast. Our main goal was to drive around and see the water organs. Our first stop was the water organs. We had fun playing music and walking on the “shore”. The organ is a long area of the boardwalk where waves rise and fall pushing air through pipes to make different sounds.

Then we headed off to our second stop of driving around the coast. We loved the views and the water. Here are some beautiful pictures that we took, at the island that we made it to, able to drive via a bridge (the island was called Krk).

For dinner, we had a frozen pizza from the local grocery store. Along with a relaxing game night.

The next day we drove up the coast and then went back to Zagreb and stayed at a airbnb to get to see a different part of Croatia (Zagreb). Which is also the location of where my uncle works (Rimac). (Rimac is a Croatian brand that makes cars and has made the fastest car in the world, that is also electric.)  So, my dad and I visited the Rimac headquarters with my uncle. My dad was able to ride their electric bike (Greyp). That in my mind was a motorcycle that was made to look like a bike.

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My uncle stayed at work while my dad and I headed of towards a dinner spot, called Gabreku 1929. When we arrived we were very  surprised to see super Mario brothers decorations all around. We thought that a birthday party was happening or going to happen. After we got situated with a table we ordered. (If you go, the soup portions are VERY large.) This is the desert that I had. It was scrumptious.

The next day, my dad and I left to go to Slovenia for 3 nights. (On our drive to Slovenia we had lots of border issues; parking ticket, wrong boarder crossing, and then a speeding ticket that we were able to avoid paying.)

Once we arrived at our place (1 hour late) we rushed to our meeting point for a food tour that we had planned. The food tour was called LjubljanaNjam food & drink walks. Our tour guide was called Meta. Meta was very nice and brought us to many delicious stops. My favorite thing that we ate was homemade gnocchi with Istrian beef Boškarin and homemade apple juice at the restaurant Altroke. Another stop that I really enjoyed was at Lajbah where we ate pumpkin oil tapas with pumpkin oil degustation (or small samplings).

For dinner we wanted something simple and close and easy. We decided to return to a spot Meta showed us on our tour, Lajbah, it had small and yummy bites.

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The next day, we joined in to a free walking tour with a tour guide called Tina. She was nice and taught us lots of great little facts of the city. At the end of the tour Tina recommended to us some close museums and activities that we might possibly want to join. We ended up visiting the illusions museum and I think that it was very interesting and interactive.

Then, we returned to our apartment to clean up. Before our fancy 7 coarse dinner at the castle on a high hill. The restaurant was called Strelec. We LOVED the food! It was so yummy. We had 7 coarses. I loved the spread for the bread. It was AMAZING (if you go here you MUST try it.

The entire meal was very fancy and yet super yummy. The service was also very good, personal and kind.

The next day, we started of with a vegan breakfast at a bistro called Bazilika bistro. It was good, enjoyable and fresh. I recommend their Quiche (it was delicious). We liked it so much that we went again the following morning.

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Then, we continued our day by driving down to Lake Bled which is a very popular spot in Slovenia if you search it up. We went inside their castle looking out over the lake and it  had a great view and was cool to look in. At the castle you can do some things that you pay for where YOU get to make it. We decided to get my uncle a bottle of wine as a gift. I was able to fill the bottle from the cask, then put in the cork, then dip the top in wax, and lastly put the label. The monk made a certificate to along with the gift. Then, we walked around the lake that circled the church.

That night we went to another fancy dinner. The restaurant was called  Monstera bistro. At Monstera we had a 7 course meal. Everything was very good and I just can’t pick a favorite.

The food was assembled very well and looked scrumptious. They also had a famous chef there who cooked our meals.

The next day we started our drive back to Croatia.

After we arrived, we picked up my uncle. We realized that we where all hungry so we looked on maps to find some close restaurants. We found one that we had been to before in our last trip to Croatia. It was called the witch of the grich. We loved it just like last time and it was relaxing and yummy. It was a restaurant of local foods with local people.

 

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Next we went to the the museum of broken relationships. This was an  interesting museum filled with break up storeys and objects from the break up. Some where funny and some where sad.  

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I had wanted to go to a certain sushi spot ever since I saw it the year before in the magazine (because as you may know, I LOVE sushi). So I convinced my uncle and dad to go to Tekka (the sushi restaurant) with me. It was not as good as I thought that it was going to be and I was a little disappointed. It looked very appetising.

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But it just wasn’t good enough quality for my taste (especially for the cost).

On our last day of Croatia we all went on the Zagreb free walking tour, for 2 hours. I liked the tour guide for her humor and stories. She showed us many good stops for ice cream on the way. She also told us many great stories about the square and statues that we passed. Like for example she said that the fountain in the square used to not be there and the town was struggling to find water and everyone was dehydrated. But a man kept trying and eventually he found a water source underground (the fountain) and saved everyone from dehydration.

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The next day, we started our journey back home, to Amsterdam. And we knew that we couldn’t wait for our next travel adventures.

Southampton, England

On Thursday night (Jan.17) my mom, dad and I arrived in Southampton, England. The main reason we went to Southampton was to see the football/soccer match.

When we arrived we headed to our airbnb, which was a boat! It was very nice and spacious. The only annoying thing was when the boat rocked at midnight and woke me up. The motorboat had two bedrooms, two bathrooms, and had nice living spaces both inside and outside. Too bad it was too cold to enjoy the outside areas. My room was small but cozy.

Since it was late we were quite hungry, we quickly found an Italian restaurant. This restaurant was told to have the best Italian food around. The place was called Ennio’s. It was definitely not the best I have had (because as you may know I have been to Italy many times). Here is what we had and how good it was. We started with a scrumptious shrimp that was nice to snack on. Next we had melon with prosciutto as a starter. It was good, but not really in season. The last thing I want to mention is the tagliatelle with red sauce which was good.

For dessert my dad had a caramel popcorn cake. I didn’t like the cake but I couldn’t stop stealing his caramel popcorn.

The next morning we had a day tour arranged with a  guy called Geoff. His brand was: http://www.executiveconnection.co.uk Geoff was very nice and funny. I definetly recommend Robert as a tour guide.

Our first stops were Bluehenge and Woodhenge. This is a sight similar to the more famous Stonehenge, but they helped to better understand the area.

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As we drove through the forest with wild horses, we saw a huge estate. Turns out that it was Sting’s (from The Police) house. This was fun since I am learning to play/sing Every Breathe You Take for my spring guitar recital. 

Our next stop was in Salisbury to see the famous church, the Salisbury Cathedral. The church was very pretty and we enjoyed learning lots if history. One of the highlights here was seeing the original Magna Carta and the first clock dating to 1386. The Magna Carta was agreed to in 1215 between King John of England and the people. It is a very key part of history as it provided basic rights to the common people and limited the rights of the Crown to simply throw people in jail whenever they wanted or to demand payments. 

Something that I thought was very interesting was that for paper they used animal skin and it was VERY expensive. So people wrote as small as they could (very small) so they didn’t waste any space.

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At the church we had a snack/bite/small lunch. I enjoyed a fresh English scone and a fresh smoothie.

The next stop was the famous Stonehenge. When we got there we had a snack of a verity of fresh bakery items. Before we saw the actual rocks of Stonehenge we went through an exhibition to learn about the area and why it was important. Then we saw the houses/huts that people would have lived in.

The area was developed 5,000 years ago! Think about that, 5,000 years is a long time ago to be able to design, move, and contruct such large rocks. Stonehenge is still mostly a mystery today. Who put these stones here? How did people get these rocks? Why are these rocks here?

After the exhibition we took a bus to Stonehenge. It was beautiful (but cold and windy). While not the most exciting to see some large rocks, it was fun to let your mind think of life 5,000 years ago and what this all meant.

After that we ended the tour, Geoff brought us back to our boat.

For dinner we went to a place called Dancing Man Brewery. It was very good. When we walked in we where a little worried that it was only a brewery. After we asked for dinner, they showed us their upstairs which was were they served dinner. The food was delish! We got two very filling and tasty English pies. I got a great fresh hamburger.

The next day was the football/soccer match. We had the morning free to see the city, so we went to some museums. However, we had to get fueled up first, so we searched for a place to go for breakfast. We found a place called The Docks. I enjoyed it. We got a freshly baked cinnamon roll. My dad was happy to get the “Full English breakfast” there, which was good because he kept talking about wanting that. 

The first museum we went to was called the Solent Sky museum. Here a guide let us go in side a few small planes. He also let us go in the flying part of a large sea plane. We were not sure why he picked us, but we were the only ones permitted to these areas. 

The next stop was the football/soccer match. At the match we got special priority because my mom works at Under Armour which sponsors the Southampton football club. Prior to the match, they offered a sheet that you could fill out and guess the final score. My dad managed to guess the right score but we were sad to find out that after you get it right they pick a name from a hat and my dad wasn’t picked which was sad. The food was very good they had 3 good courses. I really enjoyed the hamburger and the cheese plate. On the cheese plate they had a delicious cheese called Munster.

20190119_135352We enjoyed the game!

The next day we went to a museum called Sea City Museum. It was based on the famous Titanic. The Titanic set sail from Southampton for its first trip to New York. However, the ship hit an iceberg and sank. We had all heard of the story before, but it was a great exhibit explaining everything in more detail. Something we hadn’t considered was how many people local to the city tried so hard to get work on the ship, only to not survive. My favorite part was where I could sail the titanic in a video game (I was great and didn’t sink, they should have hired me).

After the museum I enjoyed shopping at a stationary store called Smiggle. All of Smiggle’s stuff is scented. Spending time at a shopping mall may not have been the highlight for my paretns, but I sure enjoyed it.

We enjoyed a sunny walk over to a fancy ‘roast’ at the Harbour Hotel. We hoped to find a classic English roast. But that it was not. It was quit fancy, but we where still very happy.

At the end we where full.

From there we flew back to Amsterdam.

Tanzania, Africa

On Dec.19, 2018 my mom, dad and I went from Kenya, Africa to Tanzania, Africa. We went to Tanzania to go on safari for 8 days.

When we flew into Tanzania we arrived at Kilimanjaro airport. Our guide there drove us an hour to our hotel in Arusha called Four Points, Sheraton.

The Four Points, Sheraton hotel was very nice. When you walk in there is security (metal detectors like at the airport), we have not had that before. However, they just let us walk around them. There was a pool and a gym. There was also an included breakfast, lunch and dinner buffet. We had dinner and breakfast there.

The first lunch we had, was at a place called Themi Living Gardens. It was out doors (kind of like a picnic) surrounded by nature. The food was local Kenyan food. There where not many people but we were there after lunch time. The food was fine (my favorite food was the lentils). It felt like the kind of food you would have if a local invited you to their house. While we were on our way to this lunch spot we noticed that in the town there are people known as fly catchers. These people try to “be helpful” to get some money to go away. It is hard to just ignore them rather than being nice and saying hi. So tiring.

In the afternoon we visited the nearby Maasai Market. Here it was almost like everyone was a fly-catcher. Everyone wanted us to come in and see all the things that they “spent so much time on”. The funny thing was despite being a large market, many stands had the same stuff. Also, all the prices were very flexible. 

For dinner we went to a restaurant called Spices and Herbs Ethiopian Restaurant. It was very nice. My dad had a traditional injare (a flat crepe like bread that you use to eat with your hands) and lentils. It was a relaxing and good place to try.

We had a slow morning and then got picked up by our driver. We headed to The Tanzanite Experience to learn about the history of the rare stone. They say that tanzanite is 1,000 more rare than diamonds and only found for one generation in Tanzania. The museum was fun. My favorite part was when we got to go in a cave exhibit to get a sense of what it was like to be a miner and see what they would see inside the mountains. 

After the Tanzanite tour we headed towards Rivertrees, which is a lodge outside of Arusha. The lodge was very nice with monkeys (blue, black, and the long-haired black and white) swinging in the trees, a pool, and a delicious restaurant. You could also enjoy a walk thru their nature trails that passed aside a creek. In the restaurant they had a big wood burning pizza oven. Guess what I had for dinner? It was great. The ham and pineapple was fresh and tasty!

The next day we left for our 8 day safari. We met our safari driver, his name was Felix and I could tell he was going to be fun and funny. I was falling off my seat in anticipation!

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On the drive to our next camp, we passed thru Tarangire National Park. This is where we saw our first wild animals. I saw giraffes, zebras, baboons, warthogs, impalas, gazels and dik diks (they were like fairy sized deer). We were so excited to see EVERYTHING! That night we arrived at Maramiboi Tented Camp. Here’s the link: http://twctanzania.com/en/accommodation/maramboi-tented-lodge/

It was awesome! The minute we arrived I could see wildlife everywhere Zebras, wildebeests, impalas, and warthogs. We were welcomed with fresh juices and homemade cookies. Our sleeping tent overlooked a private safari. That evening we went to their pool overlooking a beautiful sunset. During our pool time we also had a happy hour of drinks and snacks, which they have once a day.

After dinner, it is required that someone from their staff walks you back to the tent. Good thing! There were over 100 zebras and wildebeests all over the path to tour tent. When we got inside, you could hear them running right outside the windows and playing around.

The next morning we woke up early for a great day of safari.

On day 3 of our safari we toured Ngorongoro Conservation area. The next place that we stayed at was called Ngorongoro Farm Lodge. When we arrived we were welcomed with a variety of drinks and cookies. While my dad went on a coffee tour, my mom and I went to our cottage to get settled. While my dad was still on the tour, we went to the pool and had a relaxing swim all to ourselves.

That evening, right before dinner, we joined a dancing show that was run by the coffee tour guide – who was also the chief of the local tribe. He brought in several others from his tribe to perform local dancing, which we all participated in. It was a very good dance, but it was hard to follow along and we definitely were not masters! 

The next morning (Christmas Eve) for safari we went to a new park inside the largest crater in the world. Here we saw even more animals, such as zebras, wildebeests, hyenas, buffalos, hippos, rhinos, and lions.

We stopped for a picnic lunch at the reserve. When we got there, we saw several monkeys under a tree watching us. We started eating our boxed lunch, when a monkey suddenly attacked my dads lunch box and stole his samosa and banana! What a naughty monkey! He was probably happy with his achievements. Not only did he get a good snack, but he also got attention. Next thing we knew, we were moving to the caged lunch area so no monkey’s could get us!

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When we got back from a long day of safari. We had dinner and went to bed. In our lodge my mom surprised me with our stockings. I was so happy that she brought them. We put them next to the fireplace with a card that I picked up from the airport and some American Christmas cookies that we also put out. That night I wished that Santa would still come under such short notice.

The next morning I awoke with excitement to see if santa had come. He had come! I was relived.

That day for safari we went back to the crater (the biggest dry crater in the world) again and saw more awesome animals. At noon we went to where one of the tribes lived (called Maasai Tribe). They preformed a dance for us – it was a traditional ‘jumping dance’. Then our guide showed us their market, then their houses and last their school/kindergarten. The market was quit expensive so that effected what we bought. We still got a few things because we liked it and most of all we knew that it was helping.

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The next day we left for the Serengeti safari park and we stayed at Camp Kati Kati. The park was great in my top 2 out of four. I loved the variety of animal, but I recommend that you don’t go here first because it does not have the first safari felling. Camp Kati Kati was nice but a lot like camping.

The camps were ‘mobile’ camps that could be taken down and moved around throughout the year. It was great to be inside the park. Since we were inside the Serengeti, there were lots of animals closely watching you (like hyenas and cape buffalos). One night a hyena attacked our tent and chewed a bit of a fabric washer that was on the porch. There where no stories of anyone getting hurt, which helped us relax. Also that night our guide said he heard some animals fighting.

There where quit a few bugs at dinner one night and they where everywhere. But the second night was much better, with much less bugs. It was actually really nice to have a good meal in the middle of such a remote and beautiful place.

Something we noticed during the whole safari is that there are small flies, called Tsa tsa flys that are like mosquitoes but don’t itch and only come out in the rain. These flies got to be very annoying at times.

On the last day (the day we left for  the airport) we saw something amazing. It was a fight between about 30 cape buffalo and pride of 20 lions. The lions where ahead for a while, bringing buffalos towards them. Just when I thought that the lions had definitely won,  the buffalos charged back and won this battle with no deaths. As the loins stalked the buffalos, they were walking right next to us, like within 1 meter of our truck!

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From the middle of the Serengeti we took a flight in a very small plane back to Arusha. We stayed in Arusha for our last 2 days. During the flight we got a gorgeous view of mount Kilimanjaro.

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We arrived at a wonderful lodge called Mount Meru Game Lodge and Sanctuary. At the lodge they had a (cold) pool, a space for rescued animals and a nature walk that you could take around their lodge. Here they also had a few walks that you can take with a guide. We went on one that was a city walk. We learnt some stuff, but not much special. Our guide was the mayor the village and shared the information that was needed, but not too much. Over all this tour was fine and a good way to spend time. It was pretty eye-opening to see local life.

At the lodge the have a wonderful restaurant. At the restaurant they have a wood burning pizza oven, which convinced us to get 2 pizzas (they where scrumptious). For a drink I got a passion fruit mojito, also delicious! It had chunks of passion fruit seeds. For the rest of the stay I always ordered their passion fruit mojitos. The rooms/mini houses where well sized with 3 beds and a bathroom.

From there we left, and went back to Amsterdam.

Over all the safari These are the animals that we saw:

  • Golden jackal
  • Elephant
  • Giraffe
  • Impalas
  • Zebra
  • Vervet monkey Turtle baby
  • wildebeest
  • Water buck
  • Dik-dik
  • Colobus monkey
  • Goat
  • Cow
  • Warthog
  • Grand gazelle
  • Lions, babies, males and females
  • Olive baboon
  • Ostrich
  • Secretary bird
  • Dung beetle eating elephant poop
  • Camel
  • Ground horn bill bird
  • Tortoise
  • Dwarf mongoose
  • Banded mongoose
  • Slender mongoose
  • Blue monkey
  • Cape buffalo
  • Hippos
  • Flamingos
  • Termites
  • Pelican
  • Hyenas
  • Rhinos
  • Eland
  • Tse-tse fly – wish we hadn’t seen these
  • Gazelle
  • Baboon
  • Jumping spider
  • Crocodile
  • Vulture
  • Eagle
  • Egyptian mongoose
  • Heart beast
  • Serval cat
  • Silver back jackal

 

 

Kenya, Africa

On December 14th my Mom, Dad and I arrived in Nairobi, Keyna, Africa for Winter/Christmas break. Our driver (John) talked to us during the drive, and he told us that “Nairobi is the only place in the world with a National park in the city!” While driving I also noticed that the Kenyans drive on the other side of the road (and later I found out that Kenya is not the only ones in Africa that do this). There was also lots of traffic on week days. It is surprising, but you see people everywhere at all hours.

We arrived at our cottage called Saverine late that night. At Saverine a delicious breakfast was included. There I meet a great friend called Saverine. Her mom owned the cottage so it was named after her. It was so fun to find a friend to spend the evenings with.

One our first day we went on a relaxing coffee tour. The place was called Mbumi Coffee Estate. Here are some things we learnt on the tour thanks to David, our tour guide. We learned that it takes 20-25 years to make good quality coffee. It even takes 8-10 years to start getting coffee. Good quality coffee will produce heavier beans. There are two diseases possible for coffee trees such as yellow fever and rustDuring the process of growing coffee you can see all the colors of the Kenyan flag; green, then red, then black.

Coffee was first made (invented) in a country close to Kenya called Ethiopia. There are many (by many I mean many) different grades of coffee (not like in school grades) like PB, AA, E, T, AE, AB. These growers focus on only the premium grades. There are also different roasts like light, medium, dark and french. At the coffee farm we walked around ND their 350 acres of land. Coffee beans look like a type of fruit, they have a sweet and sugary flavor before the berries are picked one by one by hand. Only the red berries are harvested.

And what I thought was the coolest thing to learn was that most Kenyans themselves don’t actually drink coffee and much more prefer tea (British influence). At the end of the tour we enjoyed a snack overlooking the coffee farm. My parents enjoyed a good tasting of coffee. Last but certainly not least we made our own coffee :-). My dad was able to roast his own batch of beans and take them home.

On December 14th we also went to the famous Giraffe Centre. We truly enjoyed the centre. We were allowed to take pellets for free and hand feed the giraffes. The giraffes where very sweet and gentle when we where feeding them, they would like one pellet at a time from your hand. Some people even put a pellet in their lips!

They would try to get the pellet from you with their long tounge. There where two main giraffes that we could interact with. One was a teen and the other was an adult. There was also a small expedition that was free to look at. There was a gift shop that was very dark (we got a wooden ornament of a giraffe in criss-cross).  This was a great well-known stop.

The next day we went to an Elephant Nursery. It was called “The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust”. It is open 1 hour (11:00 – 12:00) every day. The first thing we saw was a cute little baby white rhino, it was less than four weeks old and the mother left it stuck in the mud. They told the story of him and how he was rescued.

Next we saw a group of (funny, silly and cute) elephants. The workers said that all their animals where orphans. They followed by telling a story for each and every animal. In total we saw 18 elephants. When the elaphants came the first thing they did was drink milk from large baby bottles.

All the animals were raised to be put back in the wild at age 8 to 10.

After that we went to a lunch spot called Boho Eatery. There they had cool cottages you could stay at, they were like huts biult on posts. I recommend the pulled pork sandwich.

Next we went to the Karen Blixen museum. The city we where in was named after her. We got a personal guide (student guide) that gave us our tour. I was never quite sure what made Karen Blixen so famous. I would recommend going here if you would like to know about the person who the town was named after.

For dinner that night (Dec.16) we ate at a restaurant called Carnavor. It was well known and super fun. The waitresess would walk around with a tray full of food and you would have to let them know if you want the food or not. Here they had lots of meat.

Even some crazy meats like crocodile, ox balls and ostrige. My favorite was the crocodile, my parents liked the ostrige most.

The next day we went on a tour of the Kawangware slums (VERY poor people). We did this tour with a shop that sells stoves and ovens to the slums. All of the sales people live in the slums. The brand was called Livelyhods.

We started of the tour by going to Livelyhods headquarters. We were the only ones on the tour and we started off by watching them have a meeting on their company to see who sold the most and who made the most money.

In the beginning I didn’t realize why we had to learn about their business and how much they sold because it was a tour on the slums not their business but then I realized that basically we are being put into their business for one day to see what it’s like to be in their business and go around selling to the slums. The slums we visited had about 150,000 people and the larger slum (biggest in the world) has about 250,000 people.

After a little bit or planning the day we stopped and everyone (including us) had a snack. There was this pancake bread (chapati) and tea. Then we started the tour. On the tour we had 2 people who worked at Livelyhods walk around with us. It was very interesting to see the slums and how they lived. During the tour we got to see what a slum house looks like inside. Each house was basically a metal she’d which was extremely small and there was no kitchen and no bathroom – just the bed.

While my parents continued talking with the lady that let us into her house, I went outside to hangout with some local kids and we played some fun games. They seemed like even though they were very poor, they were still very happy. They were always smiling and having fun. We heard “hello, how are you?” With a smile and wave so many times. People would just yelled out to us.

The next day (Dec.18) we did a beading (bracelet making) class. The organization we did it with was called Spinners Web the workshop is Weza4life. Here we were taught to make jewelry (bracelets, necklaces and earings). It was a great experience. We found out that the women that worked there all had AIDA. We also learnt that it was a non-profit business and they used all the money to buy school books to help kids go to school. At the end we got to bring home everything we made, plus my mom and I bought a few extra things from their shop.

For lunch that day my mom, dad and I went to a restaurant called Arbor Place. Like most places here, we enjoyed lunch outside in a beautiful garden. From here I remember the great spring rolls, My refreshing strawberry lemonade and my scrumptious Arbor Burger (I definitely recommend).

Later for dinner we went to a restaurant called Tailsman. Here I loved their idea of having a fire-place for every table. As the sun set, it got cool. So, each person who wanted a little portable frog fireplace, had one brought to them, to keep warm. So cozy. Here I got homemade mozzarella, miso soup and a sushi platter. Good place, but not favorite. It was a place with a lot of expats and tourists.

On the last day in Kenya (Dec.19), we started off by going to a place called Langata. Langata was a few little shops that where all connected. There was also a bank and a food stand which we did not try. It was fun but there where no special memories taken.

Later in the day for lunch we went to  a Tea Plantation on our way to the airport. During the plantation we learnt that Kenya is the 3rd biggest exporter of tea in the world.

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Kenya is the number 1 biggest exporter of tea in Africa. Our guide’s name was Fiona and she owned the farm. She inherited it from her grandfather. On the farm there were 35 acres of land. We took a walk trough their forest and saw many monkeys who liked avocados and bananas of course. After the tour we enjoyed a 3 course buffet (very delicious) on their front yard. For dessert we enjoyed handmade ice cream from their cows in flavors chocolate and vanilla.

Over all it was a great experience with a great lunch.

Paris

My Mom, Dad and I arrived in Paris on the 8th of November in 2018. We took a taxi to our Marriott hotel. When we arrived we were hungry so after we settled in to our room, we headed down to the Marriott VIP lounge (my mom travels a lot). We were a little disappointed when we didn’t find many snacks there. After about 15 minutes our friends from Baltimore showed up. We then all headed down the street to a dinner spot, a cute little French bistro. There I got foie gras with quince paste, almond bread and a small salad. Time passed by as we chatted and caught up with our friends. Before we knew it, it was 10:00 PM. So we headed back to the hotel to get some sleep.

The next day after breakfast (a basic croissant with eggs) my Mom, Dad, I and our friends headed down to the catacombs of Paris. The bones were piled up and looked awesome. It was AMAZING how many bones there were. We walked in the tunnels for about 45 minutes and only saw a small portion of the tunnels. 20181109_121439

We then started our adventure from Paris to Reims. It is the area known for Champagne and about an hour away. We arrived and checked into our apartment. Then, we all walked the city a little and found a place for a snack. We all had croque monsieur, or as I call it a ‘ham and cheese sandwich.

After lunch we returned to our Airbnb for some play time. That evening my parents had a chef instructor come to our place and cook us all a classic French dinner. It was perfect to be able to play ‘at home’ while dinner was being prepared. It turned out to be so good as well.

After the champagne house we went to a great little French Bistro called Cafe du Palais. We all had a classic French lunch in a place with a lot of French style. They made some cute plates for the kids. I ate pasta in a funny face with cucumber eyes with half a grape in the middle for the pupil, a big slice of tomato for the mouth, half a cherry tomato as a nose, cut salmon sprinkled on top and dill for hair.

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Later in the afternoon, we all took a taxi Uber to the Independent Wine Festival. At this Independent Wine Festival there were many many different wine vendors crunched in the busy room. It seemed like our parents enjoyed this stop more than my two friends and I. The stands had free wine to give you as a tasting. The wine makers would tell you the story of their vineyard and their wine. They also hade a few stands without wine. Like meat (salami), cheese, dried fruit and nuts. 20181110_170901

Sunday morning our friends had to leave us to return home. My family stayed another day. We did return to Paris and checked into our hotel, then braved the weather to try to visit the Palace of Versailles. Not only was the weather not good, but it turned out to be the 100 year anniversary of the end of World War I. So, the Palace was closed. It did look pretty spectacular from the outside though.

The great thing was that we looked for a place to get out of the rain and entered the Palace Horse Stables. With no time extra, we were able to enter the rare performance. It was crazy how they riders could make the horses dance. It was like the horses knew ballet. We learned that they only do the show for 4 weeks, once a week each year.

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This trip was very fun and my family and me really enjoyed it.

Poland Day Adventure

On 24-25th of October My dad and I drove to Poland from Lithuania. The trip took some time for only one night, but it was good to see another country. Also, my mom’s side of the family has some Polish heritage. They don’t use the Euro there, their money is called the “Polish zloty” and one zloty is about 0.25 euros.

Before we left Kaunas,we went to a cute and cosy breakfast place. The place is called. We had mini panckes, eggs and a snack of bread.

We drove about 3.5 hours in the middle of the day. We arrived in city of Bialystok. I had to try and select a place for lunch with my dad, but he won and we were on the search for perogies.

We found a Polish restaurant near our hotel. The place was called Restaurant Babka. We got 2 types of perogies and the flavors where delicious (they both had bacon on top). One was wild boar and the other was deer. We also tried a “Hot pocket” that was breaded dough with bacon and mashed potatoes inside. Last we got a pig heart with a side of mashed potato and col slaw. While lunch was good, I think that my dad enjoyed it more than I did.

After lunch, we walked around the old city. We didn’t go inside, but walked the grounds of the Branicki Palace. It was a stunning building that does have tours, but also now part of the university.

For dinner we went to a restaurant inside our hotel, it happened to be the best restaurant in the city. We stayed at Hotel Cristal and their great restaurant was cleverly called Restaurant & Bar Cristal. It was very fancy food. We had a starter of pumpkin soup, buffalo tartar, and a few big chunks of foil gras. Next was a gnocchi with steak and a goat cheese salad. And as a last we had a musherum soup. (We where too full from lunch still for desert.) We loved this restaurant and would love to go back to it.

In the morning, we enjoyed a massive buffet brunch at the hotel. It is so much fun to try small bites of so many things. I really enjoyed the waffle station and fresh juices. However, there was a fitness competition in town and the super fit girls kept looking longingly at my plates of waffles and pancakes :o)

We then headed back north to Lithuania for one last night and the end of our October trip.

Latvia, Riga

On 22 of October My dad and I drove up to Riga (Latvia) from Vilnius (Lithuania). The drive was about 3.5 hours of pretty flat countryside.

For lunch we went to a non fancy lunch spot which was a sushi spot called “Tokyo City”. Tokyo City had good sushi but not great. It was also a little expensive for what they served. I would give Tokyo City a 3 star rating.

That afternoon, we returned to our Hotel Spa. We both had an hour message to get relaxed and then swam in the large wave pool. While ‘fancy’ I must admit that I’m not yet into it. I found it a bit weird.

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Spa time

For dinner we went to a medieval dinner place that was very cool. All the waitresses were dressed up in olden day costumes. The restaurant had candles and the felling of an olden day restaurant. I was a little disappointed with the main meal that we ordered, but the starter of soup was very good. This restaurant is called “Rozengrals”. The experience was great. I would give this restaurant 4 stars.

The next morning we decided to see the city of Riga. We went to the top of St. Peters Church. Built in the 15th century the top of the steeple is 123 meters. At the top we were not very happy, because it was very cold and just started to hail. I started to open my umbrella at the top and almost turned into Mary Poppins and blew away.

Soon later we, went on a free Riga tour. it was very interesting, but it was raining, and a quarter through the tour our umbrella exploded because of the wind. It was funny how it just flew into a bunch of pieces. The tour was given by a nice local man and he shared the highlights of the city. It was interesting to learn about how the Russians held control of the country for most of the last century.

That evening we went to a fancy place for dinner which was a sushi restaurant called ‘The Catch’. We got a bowl of rice with tuna and avocado, A plate with toro (tuna) Tuna sushi, Some rolls, a yummy lemonade, Tuna and avocado dish, Miso tuna, Shrimp salad and fried brocoli. I always talk my Dad into getting toro, it is the fatty belly of the tuna. It was delicious. By the time dinner was over, the rain stopped. We enjoyed a 20 minute walk home through the city, parks, and shopping.

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toro (tuna)
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rolls and tuna sushi
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My lemonade
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rice, avocado and tuna

That is where our trip ended.

Lithuania From Izzy’s Perspective

On Oct. 20, 2018 my father and I left to the Baltics, we started in Lithuania. It was a Saturday evening when we arrived. That evening my father and I had a food tour planned with a company called ‘Small Group Food and History Walking Tour’. During the Small Group Food and History Walking Tour we used the transport of walking, it turned out that we were the only ones on the tour. During our walk we saw this cool wall decorated with artworks for people around the world who have a connection with Lithuania.

One stop was, a fancy-ish restaurant. What where we got fish, basil, potato, little shavings of cheese, cooked crunchy lettuce, strawberry, egg with smoked eel and cool black bread. We also learned  about  black bread. It was so delicious. Plus a side of multicolored peppers and dips to go with it. We also went to other stops like an old grocery shop. At the old grocery shop they had a large cheese and charcuterie plate ready for us, again with the black bread. The last stop was going to be some sort of fancy desert place but instead we went to a popular cheese shop with their local cheese (tasted like parmesan) and a few crazy ice cream flavors. Like their aged cheese flavor with fig.

The next day we went on a free walking tour. Right before, despite being cold, we went to an ice cream shop which was great. It was called Soprano. I give it 5 stars.

The brand of this tour was Vilnius Free Walking Tour. The first thing we saw was a cool walk way. It looked like this. img_0839-1During the tour we learned some cool things about the city and the architecture.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is an old church that we saw and learned about. It is St. Anne’s Church with bricks from 1500s.

Fact: It is Lithuania’s 100 year anniversary a few months before we arrived. They were all celebrating a hundred years of being their own country after separating from Russian control.

At the end of the tour my father and I asked the tour guide to give us a recommendation for lunch. She gave us a few different recommendations. The one we ended up going to was great. We over did it by ordering way too much food – but we had to try the many different (potato based) dishes.

Fact: Potatoes were first introduced to the area because of their pretty flowers. Only after some time did someone finally decide to eat the odd thing growing below ground.

This is a view of the city during sun set that we saw. We saw this view from the Gediminas Castle Tower (originally part of a castle constructed in the 15th century). In this view we also saw the hill of Three Crosses.

We had a road trip around the country and despite being really cold, we stopped at the “Hill of the Crosses”. They say that there are 100,000 crosses. However, to me, it seemed like there was over a million.

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That day we arrived in Kaunas. We had a really run ‘tiny house’ for our stay. It was perfect for the two of us. We walked about the city for about 2 hours and saw the Kaunas Castle (built on the Nemunas and Neris rivers in the 14th century).

For dinner we ate at Uoksas, it was a fancy 6 course menu. The evening was my favorite from our week trip. For a starter we both got a dish with mini loaves of bread and butter. After that we got an amuse-bouche from the chef. It was a fried twig, that tasted like a chip with barely any flavor. To drink I had a fancy homemade sparkling lemonade. Then we got a couscous, fish and crunchy onion dish. Next was another amuse-bouche with was a circled cracker with basil dip on it. Next was 2 fish ‘bitterballen’ with a jelly jam on top. Served on a plate filled with pine needles. After that was a fish platter with a creme underneath.  Next was a nut thing with meat on top and a white creme to the side. For dessert we had an artichoke ice cream with meringue on it and sticky jelly on the side. The next dessert was a pumpkin with pumpkin sorbet inside and mascarpone with candied fruit and candied carrots stuck in. All served on a plate with autumn leaves.

For our last night of the trip, we drove back near Vilnius to a resort town called Trakai. There, the highlight was the Trakai Island Castle on Lake Galve. The first stones were put in place in the 14th century and the major work was completed in 1409.

For dinner we ate at our hotel; Apvalaus Stalo Klubas. The restaurant was a pretty fancy place where we were the only ones dining! The first thing we got was an amuse-bouche (a small one bite gift from the chef) which was very good. For a starter we had mushroom soup. The soup was delicious, it was a creme soup. Then I had a fancy mixture of vegetables. While my dad had an asparagus and smoked eel dish. (The smoked eel was really good). Then we got a salmon and cream plate. For dessert I got a dish called “the snow ball”. It was a big cotton candy ball with yummyness hidden inside. My dad had a dish called “river side”. The “river side” was chocolate rocks with granola pieces.

 

Berlin, Germany Sight Seeing

On October 5th, my mom, dad and me left to Berlin, Germany. We took a 6 hour train ride over to Berlin from Amsterdam. The day we arrived we went on a food tour called Secret Food Tours Berlin. The tour was excellent! We tried local foods and learnt about the history of Berlin. The diner kebab was my favorite stop. It was the first stop and it was great, it was juicy and fresh. There where a few different kebabs passed around but I love the kebab that I got. There they also had a version of Cola but it was called Fitz-Kola (pronounced, fits-cola). It was like a normal Cola, but less sugary.Our next stop was a delicious restaurant called BlechBlinderBar. Here’s the link https://www.blechbilderbar.de/. At the BlechBlinderBar we ate a very good flatbread (pizza) with onion, bacon, etc. The pizza had a thin crust. The stop after that was a small and quit busy shop. The shop sold nuts, dried-out fruits and fruits covered in chocolate. Later, we tried German Currywurst’s at a food vendor. Our tour guide said that usually you are either a currywurst fan or not. I was in the middle though. Most liked it. If you are in Germany then I recommend that you try the currywurst. It doesn’t matter so much where as most places selling currywurst are similar.Last, we we stopped at a place with very good schnitzel. Our tour guide also had a local dessert with him that he shared with all of us. But I will keep the type of dessert a secret in case you ever do the tour 😉

The next day my family and I went to an “Oktoberfest”. It was more of a carnival but it was still fun. My favorite thing at the Oktoberfest was a game where you buy coins and then you drop them in a box and eventually they push more coins and prizes off the board for you. Here’s a picture of my mom and I all dressed up for “Oktoberfest”. (Barely any people where dressed up. We all learnt that Oktoberfest is really mostly celebrated in the southern part of Germany.)