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Monday, October 31, 2011

Zambia, Jollyboys And Shopping.

 

My check in at Jollyboys www.backpackzambia.com is straightforward and simple especially since I do not have any luggage. For US$12 per night I will be sharing a quad bed dorm style room.

 

SAM_0414Jollyboy is a comfortable and safe facility with a restaurant, bar, pool and lots of areas to lounge around and relax.

It is located just behind the Livingstone Museum and is a short walk from most of downtown Livingstone activities.

 

 

 

 

SAM_0447Jollyboy’s Pool And Bar Area

 

Having made reservations for a Sunset Cruise on the Zambezi River (US$55 including snacks and an open bar), with a simple map in hand, I set out to do some shopping. For me it is still bright and hot as I walk on dusty sidewalks and streets to a strip mall. At the local department store, “PEP”, I find a few clothing items on sale. Shorts for $19,000 and toiletries varying from $4000 - $6000.

In looking for sandals, I discover that Zambian men shoes at PEP only go up to a size 8. However, I am sure that is no reason to draw any unfounded conclusions.

For about $82,000 (kwacha), I have all the items I think I will need to last me a day or two until hopefully my missing backpack shows up.

 

 

SAM_0466One purchase that I am excited about is a ¾ length powder blue pants that matches the color of the local taxi cabs.

Now,  I may just have Zambian modeling career ahead of me.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Zambia, To Livingstone

 

Although I typically travel with just a carry-on backpack and camera bag, my trip to South Africa is a little different. My concern for malaria prevention has me traveling with two bonus size (Get 30% More!) cans of a 25% DEET product which requires me to check my backpack.

It is my first time flying South African Airways and I arrive at the airport in plenty of time to check in for my 10:40am flight. Our flight leaves the gate on time and it is not long before I am airborne with about fifty of my closest friends for Zambia.

 

SAM_0405Looking out my window after landing,  I am delighted to see a truck with a set of stairs moving towards us as the airplane is being maneuvered towards the terminal building.

 

 

 

I like flying in and out of these types of airports as they give me an Air Force One, Presidential kind of feeling. Of course, minus the Red Carpet treatment and extra security detail.

 

SAM_0403Leaving the comfort of the airplane it feels as if I have been hit in the face with a blow torch as I begin to descend the stairs towards the tarmac.

 

 

 

 

It is hotter than a “Bubba Firecracker” in Arizona during August and probably just as dry. I imagine the temperature is at least in the mid 90's.

 

 

SAM_0404Headed to the terminal many of us pose for pictures as our bags are being unloaded in the background.

A quick glance at the unloaded baggage and I get a suspicious sinking feeling. With only about fifty passengers there is only a small amounts of bags.

 

 

However, my bright red backpack does not stand out among the ones that have been unloaded.

A quick processing by a friendly Immigration official and my anxiety is beginning to grow. Are you sure all the bags have been unload I ask an airport employee. With only about fifty passengers on my flight, before he speaks I already know the answer.  

I think this is only the second time in all of my airplane traveling that I face questioning by the Baggage Recovery Police (BRP).

What color is the suspected bag? Can you pick it out of a line up?

Don't call us we'll call you.

Changing some rands for local currency, I leave the airport a bit frustrated while shelling out $40,000 (Ok, It’s only about US$8) for a cab ride to my accommodations (Jollyboys) for the next few nights.

So far, my time in Zambia is not off to a good start. Before long an old  African phrase from childhood days come to mind and I now know exactly what I need to do. Hakuna matata.

It’s time to go shopping, Zambian style!

Friday, October 28, 2011

South Africa, My First Night

 

The promised evening rain is feverishly tap dancing on the roof of the walkway as I make my way to the City Lodge Hotel. Through glass windows I can see the lights of buildings and cars reflected on the now wet shiny surfaces below me.

It just about 7pm and while checking into City Lodge I am served a delightful glass of sherry. Even with the rain falling I am not ready to retire for the evening as I am excited to see and experience more of South Africa than O.R Tambo or City Lodge. A trip to Nelson Mandela Square is recommended and it sounds like a nice place to have dinner.

 

 

018A half hour later I am back at the airport to board a train for Standon. A R$115 fare and I am about twenty minutes away from my destination. Leaving the train station for the short walk to the Michelangelo Mall a light rain is still falling but the heavy thunder and flashes of lighting has passed.

 

 

 

 

022Nelson Mandela

 

 

On the lower level of the mall I walk out to an open square. Here, I am standing next to a man whose struggle help to shape what South Africa has become today. I say a silent thank you to a man that is a hero to me and a symbol of hope for many, Nelson Mandela. Like many others that have sacrificed to make their countries and the world a better place, I hope he and others are never forgotten.

From my position, I can see a lot of dining options but so far none of them strike my fancy. I'm in search of a South African culinary experience not Italian, Brazilian or Thai. Finding a mall security guard, I pose a question and hope the answer will point me in the right direction.

Where do you eat, I ask. His response, “KFC”. I have to smile. Rephrasing the question, I get pointed in the right direction and end up at Lekgotla, a South African restaurant.

 

 

028Lekgotla offers a regular dinner menu along with a buffet style dining.

The manager gives me a personal tour of the buffet and after just seeing the first few items I know my taste buds will be pleased.

 

 

 

 

Besides, having a great food selection, I am seated at a candle lit front table where a local jazz band with a great vocalist is performing. It is a nice comfortable dining atmosphere where I almost feel a sense of romance in the air. It is not long before that feeling moves to my stomach as I am delighted in the flavors of the food.

 

 

 

025A carrot, bean and zucchini dish seasoned with exotic spices, a smoky flavored type humus, grilled shrimp, venison sushi then some type of white corn couscous type dish, tasty breads along with various pot stews.

 

 

 

 

 

 

026Nice Mix Of African Food

 

 

 

 

027All of this followed by desert and I am convinced that if the way to a man's heart is through his stomach then I am going to need a bigger heart and a bigger stomach.

 

 

 

 

 

With my first South African experience over, I must now roll my way back to City Lodge Hotel. Unfortunately, the last train from Standon to the airport leaves at 8:15pm which leaves a taxi as my only alternative. Extending more South African hospitality, the manager of Lekgotla walks me to taxi cab area while sharing with me a little about South Africa.

It is a R$400 fare back to City Lodge compared to R$115 for the train but the difference was well worth the experience for my first night in a country that has a world to offer.

 

 

 

South Africa, Arriving Johannesburg

 

It is a rough ride as we prepare to arrive at OR Tambo International Airport. We have been told that temperatures are in the 80's with the forecast for local heavy showers this evening. I think this is just a part of the local weather pattern here this time of the year.

Other than the bumps on arrival, my 14 hour and 42 minute flight from Atlanta was pleasant and uneventful. I am sure been able to sleep most of the way was helpful.

In planning my trip to South Africa, one of the things I considered was a side trip to Victoria Falls (Zambia) as a part of my self-drive experience. As the crow flies it is only about 800 miles from Johannesburg.

I have calculated that this would require about two days to complete one way. However, I am told by locals at the airport that it is at least 8 hours to reach the Zimbabwe border and then who knows how long from there. Also, the road conditions outside of South Africa can be questionable.

Apparently,the crows fly a little differently here.

Using that good bit of local intel like a CIA operative, I move onto my next option, a flight to Livingstone, Zambia.

 

017With just one flight available but not until tomorrow morning, I head to the City Lodge Hotel for the night.

Located on the airport property it is less than a ten minute walk from the terminal.

 

 

 

 

For about $100 I'll delay my self-drive a few days and be able to get a good night's sleep.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Denmark, Eureka

 

Ironically it is not until I am leaving Copenhagen that I discover “The Great Danish”. While waiting at Kobenhavns Lufthavn Kastrup just pass Duty Free shopping, I meet a Danish and fall in love.

 

 

SamSep22 099 Filled with custard and surrounded by a light soft tasty butter flavored crust drizzled with icing,

I have found one more reason to come back to Denmark again and again.

 

 

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Denmark, What A Scream

 

I am still in search of a “Great Danish” as I leave Nyhavn and head towards Tivoli. Tivoli is the famous Danish amusement park founded in 1843.

 

 

SamSep14 063 Along Stroget Street I stop at a Mediterranean style restaurant for an early evening snack before continuing on toward the central train station.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SamSep14 065 Copenhagen Central Train Station

 

The night air has a nice chill to it and the sky has taken on a sunset blue that provides a magnificent backdrop for the surrounding buildings.

Strolling through the train station, I think I have come close to ending my "Great Search", at of all places a 7-11.

 

 

SamSep14 067 For about US$3, I have one of the best cinnamon rolls I have ever tasted.

However, I am not sure if it counts as a danish. In fairness to my extensive culinary and scientific research, I decide more data is required and continue my quest.

 

 

 

 

SamSep14 094 Again using my cOPENhagen Card, I enter Tivoli. Since it is later in the evening the park is mostly deserted. However, this allows me to leisurely stroll and enjoy the area. With colorful rows of lights and dancing fountains, the grounds are picturesque.

 

 

 

 

 

SamSep14 079 Tivoli

 

As I am walking around I am drawn to the international sounds of fun and excitement. Screams and laughter can be heard in the distance as I enter the rides section of the park. It brings a smile to my face to see and hear others having so much fun even if I cannot understand their spoken language.

 

 

SamSep14 091 Tivoli offers a diversity of carnival games, rides, food vendors and exhibitions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I find the electrical exhibition interesting. Here I discover I can temporarily generate about 80 watts of power but it is exhausting. I produce just enough power to turn on a laptop but no Googling or Facebooking.

 

 

 

SamSep14 092 About to leaving the park I catch the closing act of one of the many performances put on by the park.

 

 

 

 

 

 

With all that Tivoli offers including "Friday Rock" concerts, it is definitely worth the visit to the park especially if you have a cOPENhagen card.

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Denmark, A Waterbus Tour

 

I am up from my afternoon nap just in time to take a short stroll to Nyhavn (New Harbor) for the last Waterbus Tour of the afternoon. With my cOPENhagen Card the tour is free!


Once the “Red Light District” of Copenhagen and home of The Little Mermaid author, Hans Christian Andersen, Nyhavn has now become one of Copenhagen’s hippest and most expensive neighborhoods.

 

 


SamSep14 043 Brilliant yellows, light blues and rich browns highlights the high-priced buildings and restaurants that line the canal as we begin our tour.

 

 

 

 

One of these buildings was Hans Christian Andersen former residence.

 

 

 

SamSep14 044 The Opera

 

 


Leaving the protected canal we enter an open harbor that has a brisk wind blowing across it. Passing The Playhouse we head towards The Opera which designed and built to resemble the a historical harbor loading dock.

A turn down another canal and we are cruising by million dollar condominiums that were converted from an old shipping yard, very cool. Too bad I don't have a million dollars. Can you spare me some small change?


Back from The International Expo in Shanghai, China, The Little Mermaid sits alone along the waters edge that fronts a local park. She has had a tough life here having lost her head twice and being painted red. There is an under current to give Ariel a more promising future the size of the Statue Of Liberty in New York but the Danes are still undecided.


 

SamSep14 048 Facing The Opera is the Amalieborg Castle, The Royal Family's home.

Not as impressive from my perspective but we are told Her Majesty gets up with a fantastic view.

 

 

 

 

 

 

SamSep14 049 Christianborg

 

 

 

Next, we are touring through Christianborg another spectacular neighborhood that houses the Danish Parliament and The Old Stock Exchange.

 

 

 

SamSep14 056 The Old Stock Exchange.

Used by the countries of Denmark,Sweden and Norway.

 

 

 

 

 

 

This area of the tour has us navigating below many low bridges some requiring us to be careful to not lose our heads like Ariel.

 

 

SamSep14 052At one point it seems like we will become stuck. However, our tour guide promises we'll get home tonight.

The captain does a nice job navigating the low and narrow canal.

 

 

 

 

 

We return to Nyhavn with some daylight remaining and my search for a “Great Danish” continues.

 

 

 

 

 

Friday, October 14, 2011

Denmark, A Nice Welcome

 

 

SamSep14 039 Leaving an Internet Cafe, I set off on a walk to Generator Hostel, my bed for the night. Passing Tivoli which I plan to visit later in the day, I cross Town Hall Square and join Stroget Street.

 

 

The earlier winds have now been silenced and the air has warmed up from the afternoon sun. The weather could not be much better for an afternoon stroll as white whisper clouds look down from above on this vibrant city.

Stroget Street is said to be the longest pedestrian shopping street in Europe. I have no doubt as it is lined with intriguing shops, restaurants and bakeries. The street is narrow in some areas then opens to small squares. Some squares with simple benches while others offer relaxing water fountains.

 

 

SamSep14 040 Colorful Copenhagen Side Street

 

 

 

In one area, I stop to enjoy a solo musician playing a violin. Combined with the beautiful surroundings, colorful buildings and Danes out enjoying the afternoon, it is an experience that I do not want to end.

 

 

 

SamSep14 042 The effects of jet lag is beginning to catch up with me and I press on to Generator Hostel.

There an early afternoon nap is welcomed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Denmark, In Search Of A Great Danish

 

 

NWA DC10 Schipol From Amsterdam Schipol Airport I am in within striking distance of discovering a Great Danish and jump at the opportunity.

 

 

 

After boarding an SAS flight, I touch down in the Danish Capital, Copenhagen in less than two hours.

The arrival process in most European airports is such a pleasant experience and Copenhagen is no exception. In less than twenty minutes I have cleared Immigration and Customs and I am standing at the Tourist Information booth.

With a tourist map and a cOPENhagen Card (229DKK, about US$43) which allows free admission to many attractions and free city transportation, I head for the fastest way from the airport to the City Center.  It is a beautiful late summer day as fresh scenery moves pass me at about forty miles an hour. I am onboard the Copenhagen Metro and faster than I imagined we arrive at the Central train station.


SamSep14 036 I am still getting my bearing in the city but must first accomplish an important task before I set out exploring.

I need accommodations for two nights.

 


Exiting the train station, a chill is in the air as the wind is howling down the streets. With temperatures in the low 60's, away from the shadow of the train station building, the warmth of the sun rays is welcoming.


At the Visitor's Center, I am disappointed to learn that there are just a few rooms left in the city because of a big biking event in town this weekend. The available rooms along with a booking fee seem overpriced and I leave the center in search of an Internet Cafe.


Twenty minutes later, I have secured my accommodations online at a relatively new hostel, Generator, for 150DKK per night about US$28 and without a booking fee.

 

 
SamSep14 037 I am now free to continue my search for a "Great Danish" with a few distractions and detours along the way.

 

 

 

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