Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Walk like a beast in Hamburg

We were quite surprised with the size of Hamburg. I did not realize how big this city is, until arriving there and feeling tiny on those large streets. After dedicating some time to reading about it, we found out that Hamburg is actually the second largest city of Germany with a population of around 1.8 million.
The cultures are incredibly diverse everywhere. A true melting pot of not only different nationalities but also of cultures.This reflects in the shops, in the arts, in the restaurants, in the atmosphere in the street.

Our goal was to have a nice weekend as a couple's celebration of Easter. It was a get away programme that would suffer a bit having shops closed for 2 of the 3 days we would pass there. That would actually end up fine, as there are long walks to have in Hamburg with beautiful views a and so much to do.

We stayed at Novum Style Hotel in a very diverse area, with many Turkish, Arab, Syrian restaurants. The movement of people in the streets is a constant, and that made it so vibrant. The hotel had a small but cozy bedroom. We decided not to take the breakfast, as we knew we would have lots of choices around. The location is excellent as we could walk to the centre in 15 minutes, passing the impressive train station, aways so busy, and so gigantic inside. Take a coffee and stop to realize the different people around.

The busy comercial street Monckebergstrasse i a beutiful open avenue of amazing buildings with the most popular shops. The intensity of the city is mostly felt in here, where people are rushing everywhere. Time for a german beer and enjoy the nice terraces in the sun.

Although distance appear short, you end up walking a lot. We took the direction of the Townhall and it is impressive the square. The size of it is impressive. Take your time to realize the details of the building and adventure to go inside. It is impressive neo-renaissance style.

Take a sandwiche and enjoy the view in Binnenalster where hundreds of people are sitting and relaxing.

I advise to do the following route in the end of the afternoon, when the sun is almost ready to set. Head south in the direction of Elbphilharmonie building. The streets across the water canals are so nice and calm at this hour.

The Elbphilharmonie is a monster building! I did not know about it until I have seen it. It is considered one of the most advanced acoustic Concert Halls in the world. I will be back for sure to take a chance a see an orchestra show. It cost nearly 800 million euros, so I think it's not so bad to pay a ticket and realize how it sounds. Outside it is a wonder!

We took the direction of St. Pauli with the sunset.... The colors are impressive. A golden blue with a very calm and relaxed atmosphere. The city starts to glue with the water and it is quite cinematic with the metro on top of us.

St. Pauli is where a big fair is standing. A gigantic funfair and a street full of nightclubs. It is quite embarrassing, but after 15km walking, we decided to not go thru a nightclub. Next time we will!

Don't miss the urban street art of Hamburg. There is no reason to buy a museum ticket when you can just admire outside and paying no fee for amazing displays of art. The neighborhoods are around St. Pauli.

You also can't miss the boat trip that will come for cheap. The HVV ferry will cost a ticket of public transportation and will take you around a 50 minutes experience. Look for Landungsbruecken ferry number 62 and buy your ticket outside in the machines or just inside the goat. It usually crowded but it is a very small price to pay. The view is impressive and you can enjoy and rest your legs with the sea grease.

Friday, April 12, 2019

Support local in Gambia

Sometimes the destination offers more than you are expecting.Looking for a warm, sunny location in the middle of February is a challenge, when you expect not so spend too much money and when you only want to spend a week.

In the cold, rainy Europe you can look up in Central America, but the costs are too high. Cabo Verde was actually my first thought. That didn't happen, as my girlfriend quickly explored (as a real Dutch does) the weather conditions. Even though from Europe a temperature of 23 degrees Celsius may seem inviting, that didn't feel enough. The name Gambia came up, as there are many Dutch travelling agencies that can support a trip there.

This is how Gambia looks:

A very small country in about 7 hours flying from Schiphol Airport. The trip was not the most comfortable as the plane is not the biggest one. Landing in Africa has proved to always be a challenge, as I always get some crossed winds. Still, nothing could take my eyes from the beautiful landscape, painted by a warm sun.

Feeling the hot sun on your body after a few months of intense cold is one of the best moments. The smell of Africa proves to be what we imagine. Amazing!

The Bungalow Beach Hotel is located right next to the beach. Not a luxurious place, exactly how you should have in Africa. You can just watch the ocean from your balcony. Your breakfast consists of a one only deliver of butter, jam, coffee in a can, milk, orange juice that you will keep in the fridge of your small kitchen. The fresh bread is delivered everyday. Two nice baguettes that have a special taste every early morning.

Our plan was to be able to enjoy the beach, and.... how we did. It is true that as soon as you step on the thin sand and feel the hot sun on your skin, you are immediately approached by the locals . It may seem a bit too forward and pushy, but with time you get used to it. They try and do it on the first day to get you committed with them for a tour. They do their job. There is a technique we were told to do, and it works. Just step into the water They would not want to put their shoes wet! And the ocean... water is beautiful, warm and clean. There are some drafts you need to be careful with and Gambian people are not very good swimmers we were told, so just take some precautions. But don't make a big fuss.

Take your time to walk...the sand feels so soft....

This one I have to post here. We were trying to find a way to the "Las Vegas Strip" of Gambia, but many people coming to us as taxis that we were just confused. So we decided to walk a bit more and we meet Almami! Almami is still on my whatsapp sending me messages from time to time. We started by negotiating some prices to take us to the center and.... well Alamami is too good to be true. Took us to the center and then he was always there for us. At this moment it is a friendship talking, but also the best advise. Use this guy as your guide. He has an amazing van where I think he can fit around 7/8 people. He can take you everywhere and he will take care of you. We had a wonderful time with Alamami and... we miss him.

Crocodile Pool

Markets are always our favorites. Visit Serrekunda market! This is the perfect place to feel the Gambia people. It can be a little bit scary with so many people and so much happening at the same time, but it is worth it. And you can take your guides to do it. It is very hard to take photos, as people there do not like it. I have a hidden video I did. I will try to post it in the future.

Take a moment and check the Cattle market.

Lamin Lodge for a true Indiana Jones like experience. Don't get confused with the cracked oisters....

And please.... visit this guys. They have the most amazing smile. You are asked to take some sweets. We refused. We wanted them with this white smiles. Take what you think it is better. We left money with the family. Be powerful, otherwise they will keep you there. So much love that it is hard to leave....

Have some lunch before you see the fight at Paradise Beach!

A nice and short visit to this "fight" show. Next to the most amazing beach.

Check the Tanje Fish Market. This is the most inspiring place, where Gambia has it heart on.

See you soon Almami! We miss you!