Category Archives: Travel

Budapest in water

 

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This was a trip in panic.I work for a company that have some contacts and work in Hungary and last Spring we needed to go and help out with some things in Hungary. And suddenly I was told: “Two more weeks, you need to go!” And I went. I spent two weeks in a little town about 1 hour outside Budapest returning home for the weekend, since it was a holiday. The last day and a half of the second week we had time to go and see some of Budapest. It was really an express visit that made me just want to see more of it. Just a first taste.

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It was in Spring, just after flooding in Hungary and Danube slowly started to sink. Slowly. When it was as highest it was 9 meters above its normal level, so some streets, pavements and some parts of the tram were under water. We don’t have much protection against nature, so when it wants to let us know who is the boss we are very much made aware of it. Wandering around the town we were made very aware of the situation as soon as we got closer to the water. There was lots of water, even if it was not as much as few weeks earlier.Shouls I call it luck? I don’t know.

One evening and one morning go by pretty fast. We checked in to our hotel, in the middle of Budapest, had some quick gin and tonic and went out for a walk, me and a colleague.The other guys set out for drinks and planned a party night. That doesn’t really appeal to me. I prefer nature, culture and sightseeing. Call me boring or snobbish, but that’s the way I am.

 

 

 

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We walked trough some tourist street, looking at cute shops and restaurants. Almost every place was serving gulash and other Hungarian specialties. I like food in this country. I really do. When you go out to a restaurant you get lots of it and it is  very good. You never walk hungry in Hungary. Besides gulash there are all different sausages, pork, beef, lamb. There are all different sorts od pepper, some very spicy, some very mild and everything in between.

We also passed different sculptures, some more modern, some more classical. I guess, like in every city. Walking through a city is always better then taking the bus, since you get closer to it, you can explore better, you can watch people. And of course stop for an ice cream. That day in Budapest was perfect for that, since it was a wonderful and warm spring day.

 

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We crossed one of the bridges to the Buda side, after a while. We saw the Zero kilometers sculpture stone, located just beneath the castle hill. Well, it’s interesting in theory, but in reality it was just some kind of modern stone sculptureand not much.

We, of course took the mountain train up to the castle. We didn’t go in, but we walked around and looked at the view. Beautiful! I have to come back here, for sure!

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After viewing the beautiful surroundings, we walked down, crossed the flood and met our workmates for a drink. Danube felt a little more friendly, compared to other floods. There were some restaurants close to it, maybe still not perfect, but better.

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After the drinks we had some food, pretty good Hungarian food with peppers and Hungarian wine. Happy! The place was nice, staff friendly and we sat outside in the mild evemimg. We talked mostly about our job, but that’s fine.

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The following day we visited the market looking at places selling all different kinds of sausages, spices and other traditional stuff. I bought some salami and spices of course. And it was time to go back home. Did I like this place? Yes!

Link? Budapest, including the Banks of the Danube, the Buda Castle Quarter and Andrássy Avenue

Grade? Three, maybe four. Three, for this time.

GlobeGlobeGlobe

//Monika

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Namib Desert and Sea, keep your heart warm

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Welcome back! I missed our blog while I enjoyws the summer and vacation. Any new sites I visited? Actually only one, Edinburgh. We went to Scotland with Edinburgh, Glasgow an Islay. More about that trip later, now let’s look at Namibian desert and sea. It’s a new UNESCO world heritage site and one of my favourite on the list.

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Desert has its creatures, this is desert zebra

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Where the desert meets the sea

I visited Namibia together with a friend during three weeks in December 2010 and January 2011. I’ve written about it in three -part story in following posts: part one, part two, part three. This part is only about Namibia, its desert, its sands, its sea, its wonderful nature and its great people. Namibia welcomed us with warmth and calmness and during the entire time in Namibia I felt calm and happy.

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Sand, sand, sand, where doeas desert end and the beach begins?

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Definetly the beach, or desert

We saw and visited different kinds of deserts here. Grey sand, yellow sand, red sand, white sand. We saw sand dunes and rock desert. In Swapkomund, on Africa’s East coast we saw the sea and its creatures. We saw few flamingos, other water birds, playful seals, we ate shrimps and sea food and we interacted with local people, among them women traditionally dressed in cow-hats.

Going to Swapkomund was interesting. We travelled through the desert for hours. suddenly the desert became a beach, just by the sea. Where is the border? What is the desert? What is beach?

We also saw Himba people, that live closed to the nature, keeping their old traditions and customs. We actually visited a Himba-camp and were welcomed there by the people living there. We were shown their way of living and their customs. Some guys in our group found this quite disturbing and uncomfortable, like going to a zoo with people, but I see it as a wat to connect and actually understand that the other people might be different, but are also people, like everybody else. Understanding and connecting.

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Desert is not as deserted, as you think

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Fish River Canyon, no sea, only desert

On the New Years Eve we visited Fish River Canyon, worlds second largest canyon after Grand Canyon. The desert here was more stony, but still very dry and very, very beautiful. T first there was cloudy and rain in the air, we almost gave up the thought of a sunset, but then the clouds just split and we got to view the most magical sunset over the canyon.

Some of the places we visited actually had some rain, like Fish River Canyon. Others haven’t had any rain since lat year in February and others for the last five years. But even if there was no rain the desert was very much alive. There were insects, spiders, lizzards and snakes. We went out with a guide and watched different signs of desert creatures.

The desert was also filled with all the different plants. There were trees with just few small leaves on top, there were bushes that were poisonous and other bushes that moved with the wind. We saw dry plants that opened up and spread their seeds when they were hit buy a drop of water and then went to sleep until the next rain. Desert is very much alive.

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Dune 45

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More dunes

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Dune 45 again

We also visited the red sand dunes and climbed up on Dune 45. They are numbered in order and they actually move in the wind. They change shape and position a little sometimes. Climbing the dunes is not easy. For every step up you glide two steps down. It’s easier without the shoes. Finally we made it and saw a magical sunrise.

By the dunes we saw huge crows. They were black with white collars and were waiting for food from tourists probably.

In the desert there are also some mammals. There are desert elephants that live here. We haven’t seen any, but we saw few desert zebras. They are a little bit different that the usual zebras. I’m not sure if I could see the difference, but our guides could.

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Desert, no rain here

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Evening in the desert

We visited a part of Namibia called ;oon landscape. It was a stony desert, a bare landscape, that is pretty big, pretty amazing and very pretty. It’s like being on a different planet.

All the different parts of Namibia were like different planets, many different planets.

We met another people group in the desert, Bushmen. They communicate with click-sounds and live in small huts out in the desert. They live of what the desert gives.

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Beautiful desert

We saw sand, mountains, rock, beach and sea. The desert showed us that it’s alive, just as the sea is very much alive. I’m impressed with Namibian desert it gave me warmth, live and happiness. The fesert is alive.

Link: Namib Sand Sea

My grade is five, five, five.

GlobeGlobeGlobeGlobeGlobe

//Monika

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New inscriptions and extentions in the UNESCO’s world heritage list

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Namibian desert, Dune 45

It’s that time a year, new sites apperon the list, some old sites are updated and extended. Here you can read all about then on UNESCO’s own site. I’m excited, especially when I see some sites I’ve already visited. Some I’ve written about, some are still to come. And more travels will come, thats cool!.

Here are the new inscriptions and exrensions:

New sites

Extensions of earlier sites:

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Namibia, Fish River Canyon, not a site, yet

Political or not

There have been critical voices saying that many of the nominations and chosen sites are very much political and there are other sites that drserve more the list, but don’t matter that much politically. I might agree that some of the sites seem to have been chosen mostly of political reasons, but many are not. I hope that maybe this might be a way to keep people visiting the sites and realize hiw beautiful our world is. If the politics have to be involved to protect our world, it’s environment and peoples freedom, why not, but if the reason is making money by attracting more tourists, I’m not so sure.

Well, that’s all for now. Keep travelling and keep visiting amazing places!

//Monika

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Water Flowing through Amsterdam

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Welcome back to this travel blog! It’s been some time. We’ve had bathroom renovation in our place, what a mess! We stayed at my mom’s during the ten messy weeks, while she was in Poland. Otherwise we would have to pee in a bucket in the kitchen, take a shower in a shed in the yard and cook… no, no cooking. So we took the cats, some clothes, cameras and went exile. It was better then the staying at home option, but not sleeping in your own bed for over two months is not nice. And when we got back, the internet was dead. What a joke!

Now we are back, the internet is back and the bathroom and fresh, new and nice. Pretty good. And I’m back on the blog! Have we been travelling, while on exile? Have we seen some world heritage sites? Oh, yes! We went to Amsterdam and visited several sites in Holland and I was to Budapest with my work for a day. So let’s go!

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Water everywhere

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City of cheese

Amsterdam, what a city. We went there quite early this Spring, considering Spring being pretty late this year. I think it was the first weekend with sunshine and you could actually eat outside and just enjoy the warming rays of the sun. With a jacket on, but still. We decided what we wanted to do and see, we bought a flight ticket and friends told us where to stay. And all the nice, cozy and cheap places where crowded, booked, finito. It was some kind of youth event in town and some concert. And all the cheap hotels? Forget it! But after some searching we fond a five-star hotel close to the train station with one cheap room left. It was supposed to be a small room, a shead, but still a room.

When we arrived at the hotel we were told: “We’re really sorry, your room was taken we have to upgrade you to our luxury site. No extra cgarge”. To bad breakfast was not in the price. But minibar was with free refills. And Nespresso machine with as much coffe as we could drink. Pretty good deal.

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Pretty city

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City of bikes

We started out with visiting the tulip fields. I’ll write another post about it. In Amsterdam we strolled around a biit. We had some beer, coffee and food. Mostly meat, nothing special and the most wonderful pancakes. And more beer. One night we found an African restaurant and had kudu and springbock and Savanah Dry. Oh, how I long for Africa! We passed several shops with cgeese and had to try some. Great cheese!

In Amsterdam there were bikes everywhere. The city is pretty flat, so it was easy to ride a bike, but we didn’t. We walked. And walked, and walked. It was a very cute city with old buildings and smiling people. The building were often leaning and were not straight at all. I wonder why?

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City of channels

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City of weed

We took a boat tour, of course. We saw the city from the water, going through the channels, exploring the city. We looked at the leaning houses, beautiful places and seeworthy museums. Places to visit on foot and places that could be good. The tour was very nice and we met an American couple, that was travelling around Europe. Some people say that Americans are stupid that go to several European countries in a few weeks, but I think that’s a perfect thing to do. If you don’t have much time, you should still make the best of it. Take all the best gems, the rest is for later if more time and money would show up. All my respect to these eople!

More walking in Amsterdam took us to the red light district that was more sad then happy, coffee shops and shops with weed. Maybe I’m too old but I was not impressed. I was not really impressed by people that was stoned and gone. And the smell of weed was not so nice either.  Some things are magnets for wrong kind of people and that’s nothing to be proud of. That’s my opinoin.

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Gay city

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Amsterdam by night

We visited also a cat gallery. It was a wonderful place with paitingsof cats, sculptures of cats and three living, attention demanding cats. So cool! We didn’t visit any more museums. It was just a lazy weekend. We walked across the town day and night. We walked across the channels, streets and squares. The city made us feel good and embraced us, made us feel welcome. We found gay streets with rainbow flags in every shop, pub and hanging from every house, showing that everyone was welcome here, no matter who he or she liked.

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Another night view

Amsterdam is a pleasant city. You can walk or hire a bike and public transportation is cgeap and every where. I liked it!

Link: Seventeenth-century canal ring area of Amsterdam inside the Singelgracht.

Grade for the Amsterdam channel system:

GlobeGlobeGlobeGlobe

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Making Swords for the Army at Wira

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Some time ago I wrote a post about Engelsberg iron works, that is a world heritage site in the middle of Sweden. I mentioned another place in that post, namely Wira iron works, which I find as nice as the former one. So why is the former a world heritage site, but no the second one, nor the other places just like these two, that must also exist.

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Green surroundings

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Museum

Wira bruk or Wira iron works is a village and an historic iron works in Österåker, near Stockholm in Sweden. Wira bruk was founded around 1630. On the basis on a monopoly granted by a royal privilege it manufactured most of the rapiers and swords for the Swedish army into the mid 19th Century.

The royal privilege lasted until 1775, but the forge continued to supply weapons to the Swedish armed forces into the 19th Century and later manufactured civilian products, such as axes and scythes, into the mid-20th Century. Wira bruk is now a museum.

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Inside the smithy

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Inside the smithy

Sounds pretty much like Engelsberg, maybe even better, so why is only Engelsberg mentioned like special and unique? Is it because Wira is too close to Stockholm and someone wanted to spread the special places? I agree that today Engelsberg is better preserved, maybe due to the place being a wUNESCO World Heritage site. But back in the days life and work here were pretty similar.

The village looks pretty similar, they both have dark red houses where worker lived, both have a small museum, although the one at Wira is as interesting, both have an old smithy. The one at Wira is older and more destroyed by time, but you can visit it. Engelsberg have a mansion that is private and not possible to visit and Wira has iron workshop, where you can buy real iron stuf. From small hooks and can openers to larfe grills.

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Mysterious grave inside the smithy

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The water wheel

The both places are located by water and both places have water wheel. The mosquitos where larger at Engelsberg and we saw more frogs there, at least when we went there and Wira had more ducklings in the lake.  Wira have also Wira games at the end of each summer with dance, song and old music.

While being in Wira smithy we discovered an old, mysterious grave. Why is it here? Who was he? Why was he burried here and not, as others, by the church? Did he do anything wrong? It’s interesting, disturbing and I’ve been trying to find answers. Maybe one day I will find out.

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Beautiful red smithy

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In the village

I have no idea why the one is a world heritage, but not the other. I mean there is another site that contains over hundred old houses in another part of Sweden, several miles apart, so why not these?

I’ve been to Wira several times at least. It’s cute, picturesque and beautiful place. It’s perfect for a summer excursion with or without picnic and the museum is really interesting. Last time we were here we saw a family of duckling with mother duck and the previuos time we saw cows in the field behind Wira. So near city and in the nature.

//Monika

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