Amsterdam: Europe’s crazy storm, Twitter threats & Dutch speaking pigs

KLM

So here is the situation, there is a big storm and it has messed up everything, I mean everything. I arrived in Amsterdam on a rather bumpy note, no worries, not the first time and hardly the moat interesting thing about my arrival.

Things get more interesting due to the storm (in case you missed it there is a storm): KLM can’t open the cargo hold to get the baggage out, so it sends us on our merry way saying hopefully our luggage will arrive by morning, yes 24 hours.

You can imagine what this means for all the travellers that just go to the country. One woman voiced her disapproval and yelled at the poor KLM customer service lady who was just the messenger, accusing her of trying to steal from her luggage. Her justification for this? She travels through Africa a lot and “people always help themselves to things” and she was certain that KLM would help themselves to her precious nuts in her bag. Seriously? Then she went on to threaten the poor KLM lady, who I think handled the whole thing rather gracefully, with Twitter.

“If one thing goes missing in my bad, it will be all over Twitter and in all the newspapers,” she says to the KLM lady. “I understand ma’am,” KLM lady responds.” “Are you SURE YOU WON”T STEAL ANYTHING FROM MY BAG?” the lady asks for the 10 millionth time.

Yes lady, because the staff at KLM engineered a storm just so they can steal your nuts.

So after all that drama, which I had front row seats to as I was behind her in the queue, I finally left the airport: no bags, which means no clothes, nothing, so I need to go buy myself stuff. Sure I can deal with that, 24 hours right? Well I could deal with that expect that the bloody trains aren’t working due to, you guessed it, the storm! And from where I am getting a bus is as easy as walking the 10 kilometers I need to go.

So I have been stuck in a hotel room since I arrived, the wind and rain beating against my window and Dutch speaking pigs for entertainment (don’t ask). This is going to be fun! But I have faith, tomorrow my conference starts and hopefully all will be well.

PS if you happen upon this and have gotten your luggage from KLM please let me know.

A passport doesn’t show you the world, means and desire does

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While many, many people will have you believe that seeing the world is everyone’s right and that those who don’t use that right are plain wasteful, I am here to tell you it is all false. I once heard somewhere that being in possession of a passport meant that the world is your playgorund and you can now play in it. True as that may be is not all the way absolute. Yes a passport gives the freedom and license to see the world but it does not give you means.

Greenbacks, muchos dineros. Money. Seeing the world is an expensive luxury and unless you have the means to do it, you won’t. There are many ways to explore our beautiful planet cheaply but without capital to get from point to point be, own a passport is pretty much useless.

I read an article once that challenged the non-travelled and questioned their excuses for not expanding their horizons, issues of work responsibilities, loan repayments and a family to take care of. These are not trival things, and are worth the consideration that people give them. However, as an avid traveller myself who is perpetually broke and in Constance wait for payday most days it worth single digit bank balance when I think of the things I have seen. I can get by this week on noodles because last week I took breath at the top of the Empire State building, it’s ok that I can’t enjoy a nice dinner out or that my electricity may be running out because in three days time I will wake tranquil waters of Fiji. At times like that it makes sense to me that my 20-something years were spent meeting new people and learning the way of the world from its citizens, while still living paycheck to paycheck.

“I just can’t afford it right now,” a friend once said to me. Perhaps, but the desire to see the world is a magnetic pull that never lets up. Ever since he was a child my father had always wanted to see the Alps, after reading about them in a book, the minute he had the means he found his way up there.

Having a passport will not show you the world, it will give the freedom if you have the means to go the rest of the way. So go forth and airport hop.

Hiking Petra: Four hours of beauty and awe

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If you ever find your way to Jordan, make sure you go to Petra. The ruins of the ancient city of is perhaps one of the most breathtaking and humbling sights I have ever seen, seriously.

Quick history lesson: Petra is a historical and archaeological city in the southern Jordanian governorate of Ma’an, that is famous for its rock-cut architecture and water conduit system.

Back to the fun stuff…

Located about three hours from the capital city of Amman, Petra is a tourist trap, but it is one that is well worth the visit just be prepared. The best to go is early: at 7am as it opens. You will appreciate exploring the city in its most still moments. Trust me when all the tourist show up it is a game of get through the crowds to see everything.

The city is vast so you can navigate away from the crowds by taking different paths but wouldn’t you rather enjoy it without the distractions?

Comfort is key at Petra, so dress for it. A four hour hike, the city expanse is rocky and full of hills and great heights to climb. It is advisable to have water and if possible a snack. If you are not the walking type, don’t worry you can hire a horse drawn buggy that can take you around the ancient city and the drivers tell you its tales.

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My favourite thing about this place was just the amount of history it had to offer, homes of its past inhabitants their story still alive in the walls and the memories they left behind. Within the city walls merchants await the tourist to sell them a piece of Bedouin history and culture. You can get anything from the people here, jewellery, pottery and tea. This part can actually get annoying.

There is so much to see that even the four hours it takes to cover the city doesn’t seem to be enough time. The good thing is once you buy your ticket you can stay in the city for as long as you want. You don’t need a guide to tell you about the ruins, plaques at designated points tell the you the story of what you are looking at, the people who walked the paths you now follow.

Everyday people from all over the world come in the hundreds to see the ruins of Petra, a true marvel of the ancient world.

Lagos, the city that surprises no matter what you think

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This year I have visited Nigeria more times than I thought I would. Lagos and I have had a courtship that I never thought possible, trust me if you have seen photographs of Lagos in the news you’ll understand. However I have come to love this city and I am itching for my next trip.

When you arrive at Lagos airport it’s quite the adventure, busy and unorganised but make it through immigration and get out and you are almost home free.

First the heat and humidity will hit you into a fog of confusion, if you have ever visited Dubai you will understand what I mean. Then there is navigating the almost never moving traffic to get out of the mainland and hit the Islands. Once you achieve this then it’s a whole new world and experience. Welcome to a world of opulent wealth, a lifestyle so full of luxury and scenes so beautiful who want to be there forever.

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Traffic is a bitch. That’s the truth, if you think your city has a traffic problem that’s child’s play compared to what you will experience here. You can wait somewhere between five to six hours to advance five kilometers in the worst of it or the best of it somedays in some locations. The residents of Lagos are used to this, it’s just another price they are willing to pay to live in a city they consider to be the greatest in the world.

The people are insanely kind. Seriously! Everyone wants to help. Airport security called my ride for me because they were late and waited with me till they arrived. The lady even bought me a cold drink because it was hot and I hadn’t had time to change my money yet. The people make this city.

Nigerian cuisine overlooking the bay

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I got to enjoy delicious Nigerian cuisine overlooking the beautiful bay of Lekki. It’s like something out of an exotic travel magazine when you look at it from the Island angle. The world is so different, expats running around trying to navigate the complex yet simple terrain of the Nigerian market. Tech is big here and so is everything else. A country full of promise and a city where everyone wants a bit of that promise — things can get interesting.

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I asked the waiter that served me what his favourite thing about this city was: “that’s easy,” he says with a lazy smile. “When the sunsets and Lagosians come out to play,” his tone knowing. He is right of course as I discovered, no one parties like the people of Lagos and for them as long the drinks keep flowing and the dance floor is available it’s all good.

Take it from me, if you end of in Lagos, ignore the superficial veneer and take a trip into one of the Islands and enjoy a fish barbecue, some fried plantain, a bit of pepper soup and some much indeed carousing at Club 10 in Victoria Island.

Eating my way through New York

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I love New York City, and I love eating in New York. Yes it is an expensive city but there are places I am willing to pay for and there are places that are just worth it.

When people think of New York they think pizza and getting New York style pizza slices, they also think of steak and also cheese cake!

The following places I enjoy eating at when I am in New York, I like them for the food, the atmosphere and the just because they are great places.

Sarabeth’s East

Sarabeth’s on the Upper East located on 1295 MADISON AVE. AT 92ND STREET is pretty cool. Well Any Sarabeth’s is quite cool. It’s a great spot for breakfast, lunch and dinner to be honest but I go there for the dessert.

According to Sarabeth’s it has “legendary weekend brunch with specialty drinks such as the Four Flowers Mimosa and Pickled House Bloody Mary.”

My favourite thing to eat: the peach crumb pie. To die for. 4/5 only because it doesn’t have wifi, free or otherwise.

Once Upon a Tart

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This Soho a gem is pretty much a sandwich.tart place. It’s not really all that proper sit down thing and order hot meal but you can have a great sandwich or a great tart. At its core it is a bakeshop cafe that offers a variety of sweet and savoury tarts and cool almost hipsteresque atmosphere.

I love the Zucchini Tomato tart, just yum. 4/5 no wifi — seriously New York?

Serendipity 3

This is already a tourist trap and you don’t need me to tell you about it but seriously if you haven’t gone and tried their frozen hot chocolate then you really should.

It’s fun and the atmosphere is quite cool and aside from the famous sundae there are actually really great things on the menu to have.

The High Heel Pump sandwich is out of this world. Then there is that Big Apple pie. Just go even just to say you have been. 4/5 no free wifi

‘Essen

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So obviously I am kinda obsessed with desserts but ‘Essen isn’t a dessert place, I am sure you can get dessert there but it’s kinda health. A Delicatessen around Madison Square Park, this spot offers a lunch time buffet that will change your life — true story.

The Spinach rice is to die for, I would eat that all day. Seriously walk around Madison avenue then grab your take away lunch then sit at Madison Square Park and enough the atmosphere or stay at ‘Essen and enjoy their free wifi. 4/5 because you its elf service.

Lido in Harlem

A friend introduced me to this place for brunch. Located in Harlem this places is brimming with chatter and the brunch crowd. The menu is quite interesting and everything has an italian twist.

Do me a favour order the Farm Fresh Poached Eggs with Veal Meatballs. It will surprise and that is all I am saying. It is a good surprise but yes. And they have free wifi! 4/5 because getting a 5/5 is something special 😉

Grimaldi’s Pizzeria — Under the Brooklyn bridge

I can’t talk about eating my way through New York without Pizza. Arguably the bets Pizza you will every have, no jokes. You can tasted the difference in their coal-fired brick over pizza.

My favourite toppings: Cured Black Olives, Italian Sausage and Mushrooms with lost of cheese! Do not miss this you find yourself in New York. They have locations around the city, Manhattan and Hoboken New Jersey. 5/5 because I love their pizza!

When in transit: Rather explore than stay stuck

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I have had the unfortunate pleasure of having many long layovers. When I first started travelling it was awful, I would be stuck in some random city for hours with nothing to do expect walk around an airport that doesn’t have much to offer.

So as I have trotted about more I learnt that rather make the most of the time rather drain your battery playing Angry Birds because let’s face it some airports still don’t offer free wifi. Depending on the airport you it might actually offer enough entertainment to while away 4 or even 5 hours but can an airport entertain you for 8 or 10 hours?

Try get a visa for the place you are and use the opportunity to explore a new place before you head off to your destination. Not only will the fresh air do you good but you get to add a new location to your list of visited places. You might actually be lucky and get all this for free.

I recently had a 9 hour layover in Dubai, if you are every going to be stuck anywhere this is a great place trust. Emirates airlines bless their hearts, gave me a complimentary hotel room and visa, paid for a dinner and transportation to and from the airport.

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Instead of just sitting at the airport I used to opportunity to go see Dubai, be it s very short visit and I was kinda exhausted it made for a difference and I also got grab about tow hours of sleep before I faced the next leg of my journey.

Someone asked me why Emirates would do this? Easy customer loyalty. The company has achieved two things about giving 5 hours to play in the city: for someone hasn’t been to Dubai before they get a glimpse into a great city. It really is, hot but pretty cool. Two, if this was the first this customer was flying Emirates they have made a loyal customer out of that person because let’s face it if I am booking a flight that may result in a long layover I rather go with the people who will consider my needs that the ones that just want my money.

Getting lost in New York City can lead to a great adventure

Subway

If there is one thing you must do in this city ride the subway. It’s a scary place but it can lead to endless wonder.

I wanted to go to Central Park and pop into Sarabeth’s, take a photo and ask my best-friend if she would like to have coffee ( long story). I got on a train and somehow ended up at the World Trade Center. Needless to say my subway navigation is a little rusty. But when in Rome. So I thought go see the 9/11 memorial, well that closes like at 5 or something.

Next stop adventure town.

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So I decided to get on the Staten Island ferry to watch the sunset over the city and what a great choice that turned out to be. I love the Staten Island ferry, for one it is free and another it is a wonderful 20mins cruise that take you right in front of Liberty Island, you can see the statue and then back to the city. You can see the city’s skyline at its best and they way the sun kisses the horizon at sunset will take your breath away.

What does one do after watching a great sunset? Easy Times Square. Lights, tourist shops and a chai latte at Starbuck because after all that walking you will need something.

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Hello from New York

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I am in New York this week. A very busy and hopefully adventure filled week.

I love this city. To be honest it’s hard not to. This is one of the greatest cities on earth and it never fails to let you know why.

I am hopping about New York this week and it’s already off to a great start. With some great subway adventures and bus mishaps.

I ran into a man in the subway with morning who asked me if I was ready. Ready for what, I ask. For him to blow my mind. Really New York? This is the man you send to me on this day.

It hasn’t been all cheesy but I am sure more cheese will come. I took walk this morning and managed to catch the city from the Hudson river, Jersey side, it was breathtaking. The sun hung in the sky and New York city bid the day hello.

There is tons to do here and everyone can join in the fun. From art at the MOMA to hot dogs in central park and the best pizza in the world at Grimald’s in Brooklyn. Get ready New York because I am about to blow your mind, oh wait is that the other way round?