It’s been a long time since I did a trip like this…since my last post I have been to many places that deserved a post but sadly I didn’t get around to writing about all of them..it’s on the to do list though!

So..Tanzania…a beautiful East African country that has so much to offer..its motto is ‘Uhuru na Umoja’ in Swahili translated is Freedom and Unity. Over 100 different languages are spoken in the country making it the most linguistically diverse country in East Africa. Tanzania is mountainous and densely forested in the north-east, where Mount Kilimanjaro is located. This was the main purpose of our visit…to Kill the Kili!

Having done Mount Toubkal- North Africa’s highest point in 2015- I have always wanted to reach Africa’s highest point, Mount Kilimanjaro! And as I usually do these activities with groups I had not known before I decided to do this differently and find likeminded friends/clients who are up for an adventure! And boom, before I had known it I had 10 people ready to rock & roll!

Our company Sirikwa Travel was fantastic throughout the whole process of organising the trip, flexible, great communication.

The fun started on 22nd February with Kenya airways, all of us on the same flight to Nairobi and from here we took a smaller plane to Kilimanjaro airport. The first drama started here with 2 suitcases not arriving. But JV and Anna remained calm and collected..what is the worst that can happen? They climb the mountain in a T-shirt and trainers? They wouldn’t be the first ones…sadly some of our porters had very basic clothing for themselves.

We arrived at our hotel in Moshi, and had our first briefing. Met our guides, and went for a wonderful Indian meal.

Oinoth, CEO of Sirikwa did his best to pick up the suitcases next day and bring them close to the gate so that the content can be transferred to a duffel bag and we were all ready to start our adventure. The second drama- my own personal one- was spraying 100% DEET in my right eye on the morning of the climb. Having feared Malaria (we decided with Richard not to take any anti-malaria tablets) my only prevention was mosquito repellent but sadly my aim was not the best. So after washing it a million times and not having been able to open it for 2 hours it got better in the end but not the best start!

In terms of gear for Kilimanjaro this is the recommended list:

Technical gear:

1 – Waterproof Jacket, breathable with hood
1 – Insulated Jacket, synthetic or down
1 – Soft Jacket, fleece or soft-shell
2 – Long Sleeve Shirt, light-weight, moisture-wicking fabric
1 – Short Sleeve Shirt, light-weight, moisture-wicking fabric
1 – Waterproof Pants, breathable (side-zipper recommended)
2 – Hiking Pants (convertible to shorts recommended)
1 – Fleece Pants
1 – Shorts (optional)
1 – Long Underwear (moisture-wicking fabric recommended)
3 – Underwear, briefs (moisture-wicking fabric recommended)
2 – Sport Bra (women)
Equipment
1 – Sleeping Bag, warm, four seasons
1 – Sleeping Bag Liner, for added warmth (optional)
1 – Trekking Poles (recommended)
1 – Head lamp, with extra batteries
1 – Duffel bag, (waterproof recommended) for porters to carry your equipment

1 – Daypack, for you to carry your personal gear
Handwear
1 – Gloves, warm (waterproof recommended)
1 – Glove Liners, thin, synthetic, worn under gloves for added warmth (optional)
Footwear
1 – Hiking Boots, warm, waterproof, broken-in, with spare laces
1 – Gym Shoes, to wear at camp (optional)
3 – Socks, thick, wool or synthetic
3 – Sock Liners, tight, thin, synthetic, worn under socks to prevent blisters (optional)
1 – Gaiters, waterproof (optional)
Accessories
1 – Sunglasses or Goggles
1 – Backpack Cover, waterproof (optional)
1 – Poncho, during rainy season (optional)
1 – Water Bottle (Nalgene, 32 oz. recommended)
1 – Water Bladder, Camelbak type (recommended)
1 – Towel, lightweight, quick-dry (optional)
1 – Pee Bottle, to avoid leaving tent at night ( recommended)
Stuff Sacks or Plastic Bags, various sizes, to keep gear dry and separate
Headwear
1 – Brimmed Hat, for sun protection
1 – Knit Hat, for warmth
1 – Balaclava, for face coverage (optional)
1 – Bandana (optional)
Other

Toiletries
Prescriptions
Sunscreen
Lip Balm
Insect Repellent, containing DEET
First Aid Kit
Hand Sanitizer
Toilet Paper
Wet Wipes (recommended)
Snacks, light-weight, high calorie, high energy (optional)
Pencil and Notebook, miniature, for trip log (optional)
Camera, with extra batteries (optional)

There are several routes available to hike but I chose the one that has the highest % of success rate, the Lemosho route. The idea here is to spend a day or two extra between 3-4000m for proper acclimatisation.

The funny thing was that the Comic Relief Team started their trip one day before us so we were on the mountain at the same time as them  but on different routes.

DAY 1

After the registration process started our climb steadily through the forests of the Lemosho glades to reach BigTree camp where we spent the first night.
Distance covered: 7km / 4.3mi
Approx. time taken: 4 hours
By the time we arrived at the camp, our tents were up, our dinner was cooking, we learnt how to use the toilet, and started getting to know each other better. We always gathered in a big mess tent for our meals and the excitement in our eyes when the waiters appeared with the food was indescribable.

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Group hike

DAY 2

Big Tree Camp (2780m) To Shira 2 Camp (3900m)
We trekked across a plateau of grassy moorland and heather scattered with
volcanic rock formations. Our destination for today was meant to be Shira 1 Camp but our guides decided to go to Shira 2 as our pace was good. We gained a reasonable
amount of altitude on this day and parts of the route were fairly steep. As the guides called it…the elephant. Very scenic beautiful walk. This was the first time when some of us got really overwhelmed and emotional with the difficulty of the hike. This was also the time when we first saw the summit. By now we really felt the mountain..the outside world was distant..we were in the bubble. We had a little rain on this day but where there is rain there is also a rainbow!
Distance covered: 15.5km / 9.6mi
Approx. time taken: 10 hours

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DAY 3

Shira 2 Camp (3900m) to Barranco Camp (3960m)
Our trek started with an ascent with far-reaching panoramic views, walking in to the
climatic zone of the upland desert and on the lava ridges beneath the glaciers of the
Western Breach. We reached the distinct pinnacle of the Lava Tower (4640 m), our
high point for the day and a great place to enjoy our lunch. In the afternoon we made
a steep descent to our camp for the night, located in the base of the Great Barranco
Valley (3960 m), sheltered by towering cliffs but with extensive views of the plains
below. Our crew was waiting for us with cheerful songs and dance which immediately made us forget the difficulty of the day.
Distance covered: 10km / 6.2mi
Approx. time taken: 7 hrs

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group

DAY 4:

Day 6: Barranco Camp (3960m) to Karanga Camp (3963m)

When I woke up this morning I felt sick. Sadly the altitude sickness kicked in and I know exactly why. I didn’t drink 3l water the previous day as we were told to do. I had a very bad sleep during the night, woke up with a headache and felt lightheaded. As we left the camp I started to feel better and I made sure that I drank enough going forward.
Our day started by descending into the start of the Great Barranco, a huge ravine. We
then exited steeply, up the Great Barranco Wall, which divided us from the southeastern
slopes of Kibo. It’s a climb over rock, not technical but long and tiring. Passing
underneath the Heim and Kersten glaciers, we headed towards the Karanga valley. From
here we had a steep climb up from Karanga valley to our night’s camp at Karanga
camp, set at 3963m.  Upon arrival we went for acclimatisation trek up to around 4200m before descending back to camp for the night.
Distance covered: 5.5km / 3.4mi
Approx. time taken: 5 hours

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Day 5: Karanga Camp (3963) to Barafu Camp (4640m)
After a good night’s rest and breakfast, we set off on our walk to Barafu camp at
4640m. The climb took us across desolate scree slopes with no vegetation around
us at all. It was a tough steep walk made more difficult by the altitude. Somehow I was more energised on this day than the previous ones.

On arriving at camp we ate and spent the afternoon resting as we prepared for a long night and day ahead. I wanted to sleep in the afternoon but we just ended up resting. We had an early dinner, briefing about the summit night and then rest again. The group was divided into 2, group one left at 11pm and group 2 at 1am. We had tea and biscuits before.
Distance covered: 3km / 1.9mi
Approx. time taken: 3 hours

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DAY 6:

It was hard to put 6 layers on you because as soon as you moved you felt hot and bulky. We really looked like Michelin men. Before we set off we sang our motivational song:

HIP HIP, HOP HOP

NON STOP, TO THE TOP

ONE TEAM, ONE DREAM

ONE DREAM, ONE TEAM

RAAAAAAAAAAAAA

And here it started a painful 7hour – for some people 9- ascent first to Stella Point (5756m) then to Uhuru Peak (5895m). How could I describe this night…definitely the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Endless line of torches going up…in pitch black, step by step- or in Swahili POLE POLE.

My water froze after 2 hours..my head was exploding…I was hot then cold, then hot, then cold..I was exhausted and I just couldn’t see how I can walk hours more in these conditions. I felt nauseous, just wanted to sit down and have a little rest but we couldn’t. If you spend too much time sitting, you will never get up due to the freezing temperatures. I was on the verge of giving up..several time. But my hero, our Chief Guide Mudi did not let me. He reminded me, as a leader of this group I needed to show example. There was no other option but to get up and go. After 4 hours we reached the first group, Richard and Karen were in that group and that’s when the emotional element came in. All of us in tears..desperate to reach the top..in the end we all made it. At Stella we got a new source of energy. Our guides and summit porters were literally our foundations..the rock solid pillars carrying our bags, carrying hot tea for us and keeping us alive on this gut-wrenching mission to get to the roof of Africa. When the sun came up….that was the moment of hope.

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Throughout the whole climb we were ‘chasing’ the Comic Relief group and we ended up summiting the same time as they did 🙂 BBC crew, Red Nose Day outfits…we all went through the same feelings at the same time. Having watched their programme after arriving home…it didn’t do the climb justice. 

The descent back to base-camp was not a relief, running down in shale was not fun for already tired legs. Incredible that we made it down in just under 2.5h back to Barafu camp. I felt exhausted. Even food could not get me excited. I skipped lunch, went to my tent and slept. But not for long as on the same day we had to leave the base camp and head to Mweka Camp for a long well-earned rest.
Distance covered: 16.4km / 9.6mi
Approx. time taken: 13hours – 15hours
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DAY 7:

A gentle trek took us down through the rainforest to Mweka Gate, where we
completed park formalities. We played some games along the way down, and really felt a sense of achievement (it only took us 24h to finally have this feeling!!!)
Distance covered: 9.1km / 7.5miles
Approx. time taken: 6 hours

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On the way to the hotel…at a random petrol station…3 cars pulled in….and there they were..THE CELEBRITIES! :)) And a selfie with my ultimate favourite Dani Dyer:)

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The climb for me was an incredible experience. It was so much harder than I expected due to a combination of continuous walking every day, lack of sleep, being cold and out in the wind and cold during the night in the tent along with the impact of the high altitude and lack of oxygen. It was wonderful to share the journey with our group and we became excellent friends throughout the week sharing jokes and conversations about topics we would never have raised at home.

As we finished the trek one day before planned we arranged a safari for the day after! Everyone was so enthusiastic and happy as some of us had never been on a safari before and this was a true bonus! So after the well deserved celebratory night at Masailand hotel in Arusha next day we got picked up at 5.30am and went on a fabulous day safari to Tarangiri National Park. We were super fortunate to see a pride of lions devouring a warthog and elephants eating from a tree.

Just a few picks of what we saw….

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In the afternoon we had a pool party in our hotel, and some drinks to celebrate our fantastic trip. Oinoth came and distributed our certificates, we said emotional goodbye to each other and some people flew home the next day, some of us went to Zanzibar and Pemba. So the next 6 days were very different, Richard and I stayed in this beautiful place, paradise on Earth called Manta resort. The journey here is worth to elaborate a little. Kilimanjaro airport- Zanzibar- normal plane, Zanzibar Pemba: a 12 seater little plane. My personal favourite..flies 4500m high and with a little wind could be the worst nightmare of your life….

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A few pictures on our paradise:

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We did some diving but sadly the Manta rays are avoiding Pemba as in the past the locals hunted them down…I’m still upset about this…hopefully an education programme is being prepared for this part of the world on protected sea life!

On this resort you really don’t need to worry about much, all- inclusive, spa treatments included, wonderful meals being served, top service with the local people’s charm. Our fundi was Lucas. We really bonded with him. Always smiling, always funny! Lucas is the BEST! We also met some wonderful people on this resort, an Italian couple who came here for their 25th Wedding Anniversary.

We also used an outdoor gym where the weights were made out of local products including concrete mass in sand buckets.

The real splurge of the trip was staying for one night in the resort’s underwater room. Wow. This was something special. 24h you live in a luxurious aquarium and can enjoy an underwater show! But the beauty was not just this…the sunset dinner, gazing stars at night from the sun deck,  watching the local fishermen’s everyday life. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to have a trip like this. Take every chance you get in life, because some things only happen once.

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I am organising another trip to Kilimanjaro in 2020. For more information visit:

https://www.lizstyleliving.com/climb-kilimanjaro

 

I hope that the title of this post will catch your attention and you will read it from the beginning to end because in this post, beyond my own experiences I am going to write some information that you can use to make your life better.

Let me give you a bit of a background to this holiday first. I have been regularly exercising since I was 18; yes exercising, going to the gym, dancing etc. People would say that I was always doing something, moving and therefore I have always been fit, and I was happy with my level of fitness. I could have looked better, ‘one should always put up their limits high enough and never settle lower.’ I could have had a more stable body instead of gaining weight and then losing it just because I was running more or doing more cardio but overall I was ok with myself. During my travels I became a bit more chunky than before and I was determined once I settled back into the London life that I would lose the excess fat. I started working for Gamesys and with this joined the gym where they offer corporate membership called The Third Space. I remember when I walked into it the first time I saw this super fit guy (even his name has the word FIT in, he’s called Fitz Gaynes) shouting at people on the glass floor.  It looked like he was training an army and people were still smiling. I promised myself that I would go into one of his classes and either die or come out stronger. So on the next occasion I went with my good friend Zara to his Legs Bums and Tums class. I wish I had a bit of an introduction or warning before, but sadly on that one occasion when I went to his class for the first time he did not ask if there was any ‘fresh blood’, so I was believed to be one of his’regulars’. If you have done legs bums and tums class before you would expect something like this:

Instead, we did about 300 squats in different combinations on a 45 minutes class that started with a 10 minutes dance routine.  I remembered Fitz even on the 3rd day after I did the class as coming down the stairs had become a bit of a nightmare! That was it, I knew I was working hard and would get results. I returned to the class the week after and after and I found myself becoming more and more curious to see what other classes he was  teaching. I tried his spin class, which is equally not the classic spin class that is normally taught.  The bike is just a tool that we use to do strength training to the heart.  Finally after a few months I tried one of his late Tuesday night classes, the LST weights class. This is when the whole logic behind his teaching started to come altogether, back to the simple logic, sit, stand, push and pull. That’s all you need to do.  I’ll tell you more about this through this post but if you want to check out his site and learn a bit more here it is: https://fitzlifestyletraining.com

So this January an opportunity arose to go on an LST holiday through him to Turkey.  I had pretty much booked all of my holidays for the year with the wedding and honeymoon approaching so first I thought that I couldn’t go,  although I really wanted to. So another proof that if you really want something, make it happen. I booked it.

I knew some people from the classes but mostly just by face however deep down I also knew that I loved meeting new people so knew we would get on:) Fitz flew out a couple of days before to prepare everything for us and the group flew on Sunday the 20th March.

The place we went to is called Ali Bey Manavgat and it’s in Antalya, about 1 hour and 20 mins away from the airport.

It was so nice to arrive in the summer, Fitz welcomed us, everyone checked in, unpacked and we met at the bar then went for the first dinner with champagne at the table. This was  a great bonding night. The food was lovely, everyone was chatty, already loved it. The timetable of the week was the following:

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I couldn’t wait to get out there early in the morning and look around, greet the sea and look into the horizon as the sun rises. I took my camera and went to explore, then to breakfast.

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Everyone went to breakfast at similar times, earlyish so that the food could go down a bit by 10am when the training starts. We had a little welcome session at the Fitness First gym, got a Fitz T-shirt and a notebook, and the fun started with an hour of weights class. I took my tripod with me so that I could record most classes, as well as my GoPro and DSLR camera.

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After the weights class we had a heart strength training (spin) class. Watch this space to get a taste:

Straight after this class we went to the pool for a Q &A session, which taught me the following.

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Conclusions:

  • High intensity interval training has nothing to do with endurance. Once it’s low intensity it becomes endurance training.
  • Diets don’t work, once you stop it the fat comes back (yo-yo) DIET: Delay Internal Extreme Termination
  • Detox? Save your money and drink water
  • Want to look good? Change your lifestyle. Long term results require long term lifestyle changes.

After the Q & As everyone was starving and looking forward to dinner time!

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Considering that we were in an all-inclusive hotel the nights were pretty short. Simply because our focus was on our training as opposed to drinking or partying. Saying that I probably stayed out the most with my partner in crime Cat, not sure why she did not get the ‘raver’ title along with me!

The next day we played an ‘exciting’ card game called Lucky Dip!

Fitz cards

It was a body conditioning class. You combine the following in this card game:

Alternate Leg Thrusts, Star Jumps, Press Ups, Crunches and Squats.

The numbers go from 2 to 20 in each section and you never know what’s the next card. Could be the joker which is 20 reps of each, that’s a 100, without any break. Good luck! 🙂

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Ok, this game is a hell! And Fitz represents the devil!

After Lucky Dip we had another seminar by the beach and listened to Fitz’s words of wisdom.

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Every afternoon there was a bit of time to relax and enjoy the sun and a bit of reflection…

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We still had an LST combo and active recovery left for the afternoon.  It was a tough day and Wednesday did not look any easier. However Wednesday was my favourite day for several reasons.

We started with the LST Heart/ running hour. This was a challenge for most of us.

Here is a taster:

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Food was well needed. When your body is working on 85-95% intensity you need fuel!

An LST weights class and another Q&A was left for the day..

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The Q& A was about food this time and what’s right and what to avoid. There is no ‘sample’ or pattern that you can copy. Everyone is different, everyone’s body and metabolism is different and everyone is on a different fitness level. This group worked so well together despite the different age/fitness capabilities. Susie shared some great experience about her food habits but she is miles away from any of our fitness levels and she is a WBFF Pro Diva Fitness Model but everything she said could be applied to anyone.

Susie has been training with Fitz for 6 years and achieved some incredible results over the years. Truly inspirational and supports the logic behind Fitz’s LST theory. She is a perfect example of the statement that Fitz says to all of us when we are about to give up and collapse: ‘What the mind don’t do, the body won’t do’. This girl has it all, control, mind power and beauty:

Susie

Some of us stayed out for a bit after dinner, but most of the people went to sleep. Great evening!

On Thursday we started with weights/strength training at 10, then a seminar about why short dumbbells are more ‘lifestyle’ than long bars for weights training. And finished off with a heart strength training.

I think by this day most people were tired by default, but in the evening everyone was up for a game of Cards Against Humanity which contributed to the stories we left Turkey with.  Again, what a group! 🙂

Some of you might think, I don’t need to go to the gym, I play football, it’s enough. No! It’s not enough. Sport is a choice, lifestyle training is essential for everyone. Once your training is in place you can specialise in any sports because you will have the strength to do them! Remember when you get old you will regret not having built up those muscles at young age. Never too late to start! One of our group, Sakino, was 67, and kept up the pace all week and even set and example to the group on how to ‘plank’.  Get down to the gym and pick up those weights!

Friday we did an LBT class in the morning and LST combo in the afternoon.

Watch this cruelty on these guys here:

Fitz set a challenge for us for the week. A little dance routine! Now this made my week at the very beginning cause I absolutely love his music choices and the dance choreography that he teaches on the Thursday classes in London. Every day we had 30 minutes of dancing, and what have we achieved by the end? This:

And while learning it we had the best time!

On Friday we had our Gala dinner where we gave Fitz and Susie a little present for all the hard work they put in making this holiday happen and with that we are all officially the LST Pioneers!

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On Saturday we had an LST celebration or so called TRI class. Running, conditioning, weights. 3 groups of people.

Fitz then said something of everyone’s achievements, apparently my motto on this trip was, Train Hard, Party Hard, Sleep None! 😛

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After lunch we put on our uniforms, the ‘FITz LST t-shirt’ and performed our dance in 2 different places which then resulted in the fab video that Ben put together above.

This holiday was like a drug for me.  It was hard to get back to reality and I am still getting energy from it 2 weeks later.  I made some really good friends as well and it would have been my biggest regret if I didn’t go.

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So people reading this blog and wanting to get involved, there is another holiday coming up in October and there are still some spaces left. Let me know if you are interested in going.  You will not regret it 😉

Pioneer hols

 

Well overdue post from November last year when I surprised my mum with a trip to the ‘Eternal City’. It has always been her big dream to visit Rome at least once in her lifetime. I have been several times when I was younger and am passionate about Italy and the Italian culture so I knew Rome quite well and what’s a better occasion to show this stunning city to Mum than for her 60th birthday.

I flew there from London, she flew from Budapest and luckily I managed to choose flights that arrived at similar times. I was there first and couldn’t wait for her to get there and be overwhelmed. I booked a flat through AirBnB, very close to the Colosseum which was very convenient as next day we could start there nice and early to avoid the crowd.

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Mum was very emotional..a dream came true. I like making people happy.

The next obvious sight was the Forum Romano. It used to be the centre of Roman public life.  We also visited the Palatine and Capitoline Hills.

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After the Forum we headed to the Victor Emmanuel II Monument. This is the sight that Romans respect the most, you are not allowed to sit down on the stairs or do anything that is disrespectful. We went up to the top and had a stunning view. It was very warm on those 3 days we were in Rome, about 20 degrees, which for November is great.

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One of the best scenes from the Roman Holiday with Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck was by the ‘Bocca della Verità’ or Mouth of  Truth. The material  of the round medaillon is Pavonazzetto marble. This marble comes from Docimium in Frigia (today’s Turkey). The weight is 1,200kg and it’s 2,200 years old believe it or not.

The most famous characteristic of the Mouth, however, is its role as a lie detector.  Starting from the Middle Ages it was believed that if one told a lie with one’s hand in the mouth of the sculpture, it would be bitten off. I can confirm we both arrived back home with 2 hands:)

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After these we just got lost in the little beautiful narrow streets or ‘stradine’ of Rome.

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I think I made mum walk at least 15km per day, but that’s the best way to discover the city.

And of course we fuelled up with the tasty food that the Roman cuisine offers.

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In the evening we walked around Piazza Navona.

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The next day, all recharged, we went to the see the Vatican. I think this was the highlight for Mum.

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The other beauty is the Castel Sant’Angelo, just at the end of the Passetto from the Vatican. It was initially commissioned by the Roman Emperor Hadrian as a mausoleum for himself and his family. The building was later used by the Popes as a fortress and castle, and is now a museum. The Castel was once the tallest building in Rome.

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On the last day we visited Campo de’ Fiori (Field of Flowers). The name was first given during the Middle Ages when the area was actually a meadow. Campo de’ Fiori has never been architecturally formalised. The square has always remained a focus for commercial and street culture: the surrounding streets are named for trades—Via dei Balestrari (crossbow-makers), Via dei Baullari (coffer-makers), Via dei Cappellari (hat-makers), Via dei Chiavari (key-makers) and Via dei Giubbonari (tailors).

It’s an overpriced market now, a bit of a tourist trap but the shopping in Giubbonari is great (not Gucci and Armani type of brand shopping but affordable everyday clothes and shoe shopping).

At night, Campo de’ Fiori is a meeting place for tourists and young people coming from the whole city. In the years after 2000 it has turned into one of the most dangerous places of the city during night, with reports of repeated assaults and affrays by drunk tourists and soccer supporters.

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As Mum was leaving in the afternoon we did another little stroll around Piazza Navona and the Pantheon, I gave her another little surprise – a Swarovski necklace and earring set that she was very happy with. The necklace chain was too short but luckily we could change it in the Swarovski store in Rome.

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She then left and I spent an evening shopping 🙂 In the evening I went out for a superb meal and tried the famous carciofi alla giudea at a restaurant called Ba’’ Ghetto in the Roman-Jewish Quarter.

The next day I flew to Malta for a gaming conference.

I think it was an unforgettable trip for both of us; Mum certainly remembered as her feet hurt for a few days after the marathon walking she was not used to.

Egypt

Posted: April 3, 2016 in Uncategorized

A slightly delayed post from our trip in October 2015.

Egypt was the 56th country I visited in my life. It is a very popular destination for English people, however I might change this statement to past tense and leave the present for Russians.

My main attraction to Egypt was the Red Sea and diving hence why we chose Sharm el Sheikh to visit over Cairo and the Pyramids.

We booked the trip through Regal Dive as I could not find a straight forward way to book diving, flights and hotel separately.

Since it was Richard’s first dive livaboard experience we chose a mini safari (3 day trip) over a full safari (duration: a week).

We flew with Monarch to Egypt on the 4th October and once we arrived at the airport our driver picked us up and drove us directly to the port where the SNEFRO 6 fleet waited for us.

We were looking forward to this trip and hoped that we would have a great group, which we did! The group was small which is always a bonus, 4 guests in total, Richard and I plus 2 guys, Martin and Callum.

Our divemaster Basem was Egyptian and super friendly.

Few pics of the boat:
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The whole experience reminded me of my first liveaboard in Thailand around the Similan Islands. The staff were superb! The food was exceptional..we were properly spoilt.

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We sat down on the first night and tried out our equipment, then discussed the itinerary and the courses we wanted to do. Richard planned to do his Advanced course and beyond that the opportunity arose to do the Nitrox course so we both decided to do it.

The days began with very early starts, up at 6am and ready to dive by 6.30am.

We did the following dive sites on the first day

  1. Temple
  2. Stingray station
  3. Sha’ab Surur
  4. Sh’ab Ali Lagoon- night dive

We saw Lion fish, Masked Puffer fish, Giant Clam, Napoleon fish, Angel fish, Blue spotted stingray, Scorpion fish, Banner fish, Butterfly fish, Moray eel and Trigger fish.

Unfortunately my computer let me down on the first dive, the battery died which I did not expect at all and it’s not something I could check as it switches on underwater at around 2m depth. It was not a major issue though because at least I could use Basem’s Suunto computer.

The second important item that let me down was my GoPro..it kept freezing underwater which made me incredibly angry especially because I had just bought a macro red filter before the trip to enhance the quality of the video and pictures.

The next day we did the famous Thistlegorm wreck that sank on 6th October 1941. It was super impressive, with all the motorbikes still inside, rusted with corals around them, pieces of rubber tyres, guns, rifles. We did this dive with Nitrox.

There was another dive around this wreck ..just because you cannot have enough of it:)

The afternoon and night dive was at the same dive site called Beacon Rock. Now that night dive was one of my highlights ever. I saw a Spanish dancer …dancing! It’s fairly rare to see them at all let alone dancing.

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In the evenings we had great banter between studying EON and Richard his advanced course book.

On the third day we finished off with 2 dives only and some chilling on the boat. Then there was the time of truth; the exam. We had to sit separately with Basem marking our work. Of course Richard copied the whole EON exam off me therefore we had 2 identical mistakes! Back to school…..

The last 2 dives were at:

  1. Dunraven
  2. Shark & Yolanda Reef- 38m depth and current – very impressive dive site.

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After the magical 3 days living on the sea we returned to Sharm to our hotel…which was a big disappointment. Falcon Naama Star Hotel is one to avoid! Not clean, not by the sea..the staff were very nice but considering the number of options in hotels it is on the lower end of the range.

On the first evening on ‘land’ we got a little taste for Sharm’s charm..the hassle, the constant, ‘hey my friend, do you remember me?’

Therefore we quickly realised that we wanted to plan things to do for the remaining 3 full days.

The next day we booked a fantastic 4×4 safari trip to visit the Coloured Canyon and Dahab. Highly recommended!

We had a super fun guide, spoke about 15 languages! But 2 for sure, English and Russian. After racing through the desert we walked through this beautiful canyon:

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Then we made our way to Dahab and snorkelled the Blue Hole where lots of divers have died over the years. It’s a stunning crystal clear hole with colourful corals and beautiful fish.

After the snorkelling we had lunch from a restaurant with view across the Red Sea and the surrounding mountains. Fresh juice is always a must in tropical countries!

After lunch we did a 20 minutes camel ride along the sea..again..the guide was superb! We laughed so much!

IMG_8863The trip ended in a dodgy perfume shop where we had the opportunity to buy our favourite fragrance for a fraction of the original price.

Early night after the action packed day as for the next day we had booked a day trip to Jordan. We got picked up at 2am (!) from our hotel and we had a 8 hour journey waiting for us (4 h bus + 1 h boat + 3 h bus again). When we got to Petra we had about 3 hours to explore. 2 h guided and 1 h free. When I saw one of the 7th Wonders of the World it was just incredible! It was the 6th that I have seen…1 to go, the Great Wall of China, which I am planning on visiting in the next year or so.

With Petra my only issue was that in order to get to the Treasury (the main attraction) you can rent a horse with a carriage. The pavement is mainly stoned therefore the animals suffer a lot. The locals seem to ignore this and they encourage them with the whip to go even faster…my heart was breaking. People visiting Petra, please do not encourage this service by taking it!

Here is a map of Petra. It’s huge and I recommend that you leave at least a full day to explore it.

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The penultimate day in Sharm el-Sheikh was fun:) I found an excellent snorkelling spot without needing to take a tour..well at least that’s what I thought. We packed our snorkelling gear and took a taxi to the Hyatt Regency. When we got there it was clear that this is not a common route that tourists take to go snorkelling…given that you need to go into the hotel and be on their private beach to access the reef. But I felt that I was so close  that I didn’t care:) We went through a security check before entering the hotel- like a conveyor belt and proper door men etc. first obstacle done. Then confidently walked into the hotel, through the lobby out to the pool area (removed our existing hotel bracelets and were happy to notice that in the Hyatt Regency people did not wear a bracelet). Finally we got to their amazing private beach..wow. It was great! The only problem was that we did not have matching towels to the rest of the people there so at the beginning we felt quite uncomfortable that we would be thrown out of there at any minute:) I threw myself into the water and spent most of the day there looking at the lovely Coral Garden. I saw a cuttle fish, tons of clown fish, barracuda, and an eel. It was fantastic! We had a great lunch at the hotel restaurant then back to sunbathing and snorkelling. That’s how we spent a day at a 5 star all inclusive hotel without any booking:)

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The last day we spent on the public beach, having a massage, with shisha and drinking cocktails. It was a great holiday and I truly hope that the political situation will allow us to go there soon without any threat or fear.

One week after we left ISIS took out the Russian plane so we timed our departure well.

I looked at my blog the other day and realised that the last post is from April last year! Gone are those days when I posted after every country I visited! But…better late than never.

Let me share with you my adventure last August in Morocco. First of all, this trip and update would not have been written without my dear friend Sasha, who had this amazing idea last January to do a challenge, namely a 4167m mountain, North Africa’s highest peak: Mount Toubkal.

I said without hesitation that I would like to do this with her! It was an  amazing idea, and it sounded like a mini travelling trip. Climbing a mountain with a backpack and a group!

She was surprised herself how many of her friends were interested in doing this summit with her, so we formed a little group of 9 people : Sasha and her friend Nuno, Amanda, Julia with her 18 year old son, Will, Joy with her 12 year old called Hugo, my friend Jodie and myself.

They arrived at Marrakech in the morning of the 27th August, me and Jodie arrived late afternoon. They all waited for us at the airport. As I came out of the plane that tropical heat hit me and I felt I was in paradise…

We got through immigration ok, got a nice stamp in the passport, found Sasha and the others, and drove in 2 cars to the starting point of the trek, Imlil. Imlil is a small Berber village, 1740m above sea level. The Film ‘Seven years in Tibet‘ was partly filmed in the village.

We were greeted with Berber tea in a mansion by one of our guides, Rachid. The architecture in Morocco is stunning!

We got the closest room downstairs with Jodie and Sasha and the others occupied the rest of the mansion..the real paradise opened up when I went up to the terrace at the top, and saw this:DSC_8170

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It was again the same pair as on my travels..the nature and I!!  Bright stars shining up there, light breeze and the smell of a new land, and soon dinner!

We had lovely first meal, lots of small dishes on the table, tagine, chicken, couscous, salads.

We spent the evening chatting to our guides and getting ready mentally for the challenge.

The next morning after breakfast we divided our belongings into 3 groups. One that we did not need for the 3 day trek, one that we did need but only when we arrive at the camp in the afternoon- this was carried by the mules- and the smallest pack was what we needed for the walk. Water, snacks, toilet paper etc.

Some people hired walking sticks. The tent was provided by Jamal’s company, I took my own sleeping bag which I specifically bought for this trip.

When I put on my walking boots I remembered all those miles that they walked on different terrains and lands…sweet memories!

So the first day was superb! Beautiful landscapes with some challenging parts. I think everyone can agree with me when I say that beyond the  scenery and the physical challenge, the ‘al fresco’ lunches and dinners were the  highlights! Absolutely beautiful presentation of food and incredible tastes…and what never missed from the table, the well deserved Moroccan fresh mint tea! The name of the place where we had lunch was Tizi Mizik at 2489m. On the way to Tamsoult refuge (2250m) there were loads of goats. Nuno connected with the goats and learnt their way of communication which still haunts us..that very specific sound effect…’BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE’.

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Now the first night’s accommodation is something I will not forget for a while. I think it’s an understatement that we had adverse weather conditions. Strong stormy wind, rain and cold!

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It was Joy’s 50th Birthday so the guides prepared a lovely cake for her and we all sang and celebrated with her. It was a very special moment.

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Nuno, Sasha and Jodie decided to take the challenge that the weather has thrown in front of them and sleep in tents instead of the room that looked rather like a horse stall with some mats on the floor.

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In the morning we shared our stories during the night. I don’t think anyone slept more than 4 hours.

After breakfast we had a morning hike to the waterfalls

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But then we turned around and the guides delivered the bad news that we were unable to continue our way towards Toubkal because of the bad weather. Everyone was disappointed as we all wanted to experience altitude, but instead the guides decided on a more ‘cultural ‘ route.

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The plan was to head to another lodge for lunch.  On the way we passed little villages: Tizi Oussem at 2,350m and Eid Isa at 1700m and stopped for lunch.  Our guide then informed us that he got a call from another tour group that nobody could ascend that day due to bad weather.

This was a bit of a consolation for us and then we all cheered up and the group was very united and content.

By 4:30pm we were close to our next camping spot.  While some rested under the tree, Will, Joy, Hugo, Sasha and I climbed one of the surrounding mountains (2400m) for fun and took photos at the top surrounded by the rest of the atlas mountain range.  The rest of the group went to the camp-site at 2100m.

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Me and Rachid waited for the sun to settle then walked to the camp. The camp site was lovely and open, weather was great and as the sun set, a full moon appeared. It was the best night!

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Next morning..we woke up knowing that it was out last day in the mountains. We packed and started walking towards Imlil where we started the trek.

Going downhill was a lot easier and we played games along the way. As we descended one of our muleteers told us that another group lost a mule off the edge of a cliff due to high winds. This was the breaking news in the mountains! This is when we realised how nice it was being without television, iPad, phone etc. We truly connected with nature on this trip.

We stopped by a creek to have lunch and soak our feet in the stream and I think this made everyone realise how great it would be to have shower after 3 days in the wild! On our way back we stopped by an argan oil co-operative and watched women extract argan oil and various products made from it. I did a bit of shopping I have to admit:)

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Once the lodge was in sight, Amanda was the first to break from the group desperately wanting a shower.

We all then arrived one by one and got cleaned up and went through everyone’s photos to re-live the whole experience again.

Most of the people had their flights next day from Marrakech. Jodie and I  had our hotel booked there from next day as well but I was not ready to leave nature! I managed to convince Jodie to try to do the summit in 2 days, which would have still left us with 2 days in Marrakech. Unfortunately Rachid had another group waiting for him but Omar did take us up for £90 which was an excellent price for the extension.

Sasha left her boots with Jodie which was amazing because otherwise Jodie wouldn’t have had comfortable enough shoes to do the walk, and also like this at least the boots made it to the top even if Sasha couldn’t. We both hired walking sticks and next day we started the walk.

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It was a superb bonding walk for us..time flew as we chatted and we headed along the Mizane Valley, first towards the village of Aremd and then onto the shrine of Sidi Chamarouch.

Built on a moraine spur overlooking the valley floor, Aremd is the largest village in the valley and provides an interesting mix of traditional terraced farming, gites and streets that seem to be permanently gridlocked by goats and cattle. For generations the local Berber villagers have worked these lands, producing corn, potatoes and walnuts from the harsh landscape. Continuing east and crossing the flood plain our route took us along mule tracks and up into the high rocky cliffs above the valley. Crossing the river we eventually came to the pastoral shrine of Sidi Chamarouch, which attracts tourists and pilgrims alike (although only Muslims are allowed to cross the stone bridge to visit the marabout shrine itself). The village sits besides a small waterfall, a jumbled cluster of houses that seem to melt together into an anarchic mass. From here the trail continued to climb steadily, snaking and zigzagging its way up to the
snowline and the Toukbal Refuge (3206m), our stop for the night. Approx 5hrs walking.

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The night was fun! We had a shower which we did not expect at all after the first 3 days’ experience. We also had a very cosy dinner. Only our guide, our cook, Mohammed and a fellow climber, Jodie and I.

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We planned our big next day and set the starting time to 2am! Now this sounds scary but we both thought that getting there for sunrise is the way to go!

I will remember this walk forever! 4-5 different terrains and the only light you have is the moon light. We all decided not to use our little head torch because the moon light was perfectly enough and romantic. After 3 hours walking the altitude kicked in which made some parts difficult.

Finally around 6.15am we found ourselves on the plateau, from where it was a short walk to the summit and the vistas out across the surrounding landscape were quite breathtaking. From here there were unrestricted views in every direction, from the Marrakesh Plain to the High Atlas in the north and as far south as the Anti-Atlas and the Sahara. Pliny, the great Roman scholar, once described the High Atlas Mountains as “the most fabulous mountains in all of Africa” and from our vantage point high above the valley it is easy to understand why.

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It was freezing. Omar did not want to wait 30 minutes for the sunrise but Jodie and I did ..we were the only ones at the top which made the whole experience magical!

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Omar left us there and started making his way down. He waited for us at certain ‘stones’ to show us the way. The descent was hard, slippery and tiring. Once you saw the main attraction you just wanted to be easy on your knees and get down.

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After a few hours of ‘sliding down’ we reached the base camp, had some food, packed our bags and continued descending. We did not go back to Imlil – the transport came to pick us up at a different village. We said goodbye to Omar and Mohammed and made it safe but tired to Marrakech.

Marrakech was a big shock after spending 5 full days in the nature. Motorbikes, mopeds everywhere, the old town was rather a shock as it was not very developed but the hotel was very nice and people there were friendly. I cannot really say the same thing of people in Marrakech working in ‘tourism’ (that includes scammers). If you did not buy from them on the souks they would tell you to go back where you came from and similar nice things.

Of course we met lovely people as well – every country has good and bad people. The souks were amazing. I got lost with Jodie in the world of bargaining, Moroccan lamps, jewellery, tea pots, rugs and other traditional hand made (or made in China) items.

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We visited Yves Saint Lauren’s garden outside the old town which was beautiful.

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We also had a very traditional hammam experience..no pictures to show here:)

Overall the trip was amazing and I’d like to say massive thanks to my friend Sasha for organising it for us. I am very grateful for sharing this experience with all the lovely people in our group. Since the trip we had a catch up in Souk Medina in London and I hope we will keep in touch in future!

 

April has always been my favourite month..not just because it’s my birth month, but also, because not one year has passed when I did not pull a prank on someone on April’s Fools day:)

This particular year I was looking forward to April even more..as we decided with Richard to choose the USA as our holiday destination in April.

As a child I have always dreamt about visiting New York..and as strange as it sounds after all these travelling NYC was still on my list. I think I wanted to give New York a special time..when I can fully enjoy it as an individual trip with enough money in my pocket, that’s why I waited until now…and after what happened here, I don’t regret the decision for a minute as New York City  is in my heart forever…

We  left Heathrow on the 9th April around 11am on a BA flight to JFK. It was just under 9 hour, and fairly smooth, with the exception of an unexpected announcement above the Atlantic ocean half way between the two continents : ‘ATTENTION, ATTENTION! PLEASE PUT ON YOUR OXYGEN MASKS WITH IMMEDIATE EFFECT’. I was day dreaming and Richard was sleeping when this message echoed in the plane and my first thought was: ‘I knew..this moment had to come..this is my last day, but at least I will die while travelling’ 🙂 I was thinking of Lubitz and the German Wings catastrophy..I was thinking of those poor passengers having to live that 10 minutes terror when they knew they would die..at least it should have happened suddenly but no..they had 10 long minutes to think over the best things that happened to them in their short lives…I guess there was no need to think about the worst..

Anyway..my thought funnel was ended by another announcement by the captain apologising to everyone and confirming that there is no need to use oxygen masks as the automatic announcement has been made in error.

We made it safe to New York and passed security fairly quickly, hopped in a taxi and around 4pm we were in the flat we booked from home a corner away from the Empire State Building.

Here is the view from the lovely room:

NYC Apartment 35th 5th View from flat

The owner, Serrana greeted us nicely and explained the house rules, we then went out to make the most out of the afternoon and evening. Saw the Public Library, Grand Central Station, walked up to the edge of Central Park and on the other side back on Broadway and through Time Square. Just as I imagined..it was still fairly cold but luckily one of my pre-birthday presents from Richard, a pair of EMU ear muffs kept me warm. After our walk we met my colleague, Danielle who works in the New Jersey office and came into Manhattan just to meet me. She came with her friend Talia and we had a few drinks, chatted a bit, then around 11pm I was out..jetlag and general tiredness.

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On the second day we pre-booked from home a 6 hour walking tour around Downtown, 9/11 ,Soho, Little Italy and China Town, finishing up in Greenwich village and Chelsea market.

Our guide Onel was fantastic, originally from Puerto Rico living in Brooklyn. His enthusiasm and quirky comments made the trip amazing! What was even more special to it is that he discovered at early stages my keenness on the Sex and The City series therefore we made an extra stop at 66 Perry Street- Carrie’s apartment and the Magnolia Bakery:) I had shivers when I was standing by the stairs..where Mr Big was always waiting for her….oh..I forgot to mention that the day before in the Public Library I had similar feeling when I saw the staircase and remembered of Carrie running down the stairs when Big stood her up on the wedding!

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9/11 Little Italy China Town Gay movement starting point 66 Perry street- SATC That famous staircase.. Chelsea market

After the walking tour we went to the Museum of Modern Art (MoMa) – it’s free on Friday afternoon therefore queues were inevitable.

You cannot leave New York without watching a Broadway Show…the last program for the day was to watch Chicago. It was very entertaining and superb!

On the next day we picked up the remaining tickets we needed which was tickets to the Empire State Building, as we bought these combined with Sunset Cruise tickets around Manhattan. Once we got them we took the subway to Downtown and walked through the Brooklyn Bridge…this was one of my favourite parts. Lovely sunny day..and breathtaking skyline….

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We spent the whole day in Brooklyn. First we walked on Brooklyn Heights to get a perfect view on Manhattan, then we went to the Brooklyn Flea market where we had a snack, then went to Williamsburg to have a pint of the famous Brooklyn beer and go around the quirky shops and take pics of the graffities.

In the evening we found a lovely restaurant, had dinner and headed to the night bazaar open from 7pm-1am. We got home around midnight…perfect day!

Brooklyn Flea Market Those amazing walls.. ...and shopping... Sunset in Willisamsburg Night bazaar

On Sunday we started in Central Park. Again weather was beautiful and the park was stunning. If we had a bit more time I would have loved to go for a run there. We then headed to Bloomingdales and I bought some lovely dresses and shoes..<3 awwww New York shopping:)

Central Park Ice rink in Central Park

 

Central Park

After this little shopping we went for more shopping to a camera department store called B&H. It’s a 3 level department store …if you can’t find the perfect accessory for your photographs it does not exist.

I got a flashgun and GoPro for my future diving here. Then we popped all the shopping home so that we do not need to carry it with us to the Empire State Building and on the boat.

It was handy having the flat right in the centre as we could have a 5 minutes break and unload all the stuff. Serrana was always smiling as she never saw us. We literally just went home sleeping hence why the flat was a very good deal.

The Empire State Building was one of the highlights….perfectly clear sunny weather and incredible views..wow!

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By the time we finished..I was very tired..all I wanted was a coffee and a chair. But I only had 5 mins as we had to be at the pier to catch the sunset boat by 6.45. It was 6.20. After a bit of struggle we managed to get a taxi..we realised it was a bit late. What we did not expect was that a supposedly 10 minutes taxi ride will be 40! We got stuck at every red light..I was already pretty disappointed as I could see us missing the boat.

When we were about 500m away Richard jumped out of the cab and started running giving me the instructions to wait in the taxi till we arrive and he would hold up the boat. So I sat there nervously and almost crying when I saw a group running on my left on the pavement. So I jumped out of the taxi, paid and ran with the group the last 300m. The funny thing was that the taxi driver waved me when i arrived to the pier as we arrived the same time! damn it!:)

Richard came up to me smiling..he said we made it! And it was only because that group did not turn up in time.

So we got 2 seats..probably not the seats I would have chosen but the rest were taken and then the boat left. Manhattan in the sunset is stunning…our tour guide gave us a very comprehensive description of the main buildings.

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When we came up to the turning point, we had a little break…when Richard suggested that I put down my camera and enjoy the moment for a bit…he stood up in front of me, then went down on his knees and told me:

‘Aliz, I know I have been chasing you today so that we can make the most out of it..but now I hope you understand what was the main reason….I wanted it to be perfect. Would you marry me?’

I felt so overwhelmed….I cannot describe the feeling of having your love on his knees in front of you (and other 100 people) asking you to spend the rest of your lives together….I said YES! The experience was enhanced by the other participants of the trip bursting out in cheering and applauding.. what a proposal!!!

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I do not remember much from the boat trip after this..as I was mainly crying of joy and looking at him..trying to understand what happened and how it happened.. it was a proper movie scene..I was living the Sex and the City story in New York! So people, who told me in the past that do not imagine New York as it is in the movies I have to say you were wrong. My experience there was EXACTLY how it is in the movies…LOVED IT!

After the boat we went to celebrate with a lovely meal at Sushi Samba..Having been previously in the London one, I have to say in New York the place was not as glamorous as here in London. It was for me though. Free champagne and food was our engagement present from them.

Post engagement dinner

On the last day we checked out the Chrysler Building’s lobby, then went to Woodbury Common, a fantastic shopping outlet about an hour and half bus ride away in Jersey state. We went early in the morning ..and we did it so well as we spent the whole day there..incredible prices of the big brands…highly recommended to every shopaholic wanting to buy great brands for affordable prices.

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When we got back to our flat it was late, we packed and next morning left for the Bahamas.

We flew to Miami first as we decided afterwards that it would be amazing to spend a few days in the Bahamas as well given that it’s about 45 mins away on a jet plane.

We got to our hotel, the Compass Point Resort in Nassau around 5pm on Tuesday, it looked just like on the website. We could even see the little huts from the plane when we flew into the island.

Compass Point The colour...

The room

The horizon...

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For the next day we booked diving as this was the only day we could do it (cannot fly for 24 hours after). We dived with Stuart Cove and we did not regret it. Saw some impressive shipwrecks, one was a scene in a James Bond movie. I would say it was a typical Caribbean dive site…I have done more than 50 dives in the Caribbean and it never disappoints me:)

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Stuart Cove

After 2 morning dives and 2 afternoon dives we were literally wrecks, went back to Compass and indulged in the food. Bahamian people are very nice…friendly and open.

On the last day we decided to just chill..We did an hour island trip on the local bus, then Richard treated me with some manicure and pedicure at the hotel, and in the afternoon we had a happy hour bucket to enjoy the sun!

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We had a lot of fresh fish and seafood ..yumm! So healthy.

It was time to leave the next day to the last destination of this trip, Miami! We got there on the 17th April, in a lovely hotel (Miami Beach Spa Resort)

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In the afternoon we did an ‘art deco’ walking tour in South Beach and booked a trip for my birthday to the Key West. The South Beach is tacky according to many people. I did not find it tacky at all. It’s a great day and night party scene..people dare to express themselves, money shouts at every corner, Lamborghinis and Ferraris and luxury! But it’s fun!

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Giant cocktail

Next day..the Key West…6am start. It’s a 145 miles trip on a narrow road into the Caribbean towards Cuba..4 hour trip there and 4 back. On the Key we went snorkelling to the third biggest reef in the world..it was brilliant! On the way back happy hour on the boat..the breeze, the turquoise colours of the sea…my fiancé …there is not much more than one can wish for really. Perfect birthday! When we returned to the land we literally had to run to grab some lunch..lobster roll yumm! And then to check out the Southern Most Point of the USA where we were actually closer to Cuba (90miles) than to Miami…

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The heat was incredible…only 29 degrees but the humidity made us feel as if it was 40!

Upon return to the hotel around 9pm we had some dinner and passed out.

Last day…but full day with an evening flight, the 19th April. We decided that Miami has so many parts, the best thing to do is to get a hop on hop off ticket and see the whole city with a few stops. It was a great way of seeing how it’s structured. We stopped at a lovely house that used to be owned by a Chicago business man called Vizcaya house and then in Little Havana….now that was like being back in January 2014..cigar, mojitos, lobster lunch, domino park and lots of Cubans! 70% of Miami are immigrants, mainly from Latin- America…probably that was one of the reasons why I absolutely loved Miami 🙂

Vizcaya Garden

Vizcaya House

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Miami

Little Havana

Little Havana

Calle 8

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lobster

The flight back was quick and easy, upon arrival a fully decorated room was waiting for me along with Sasha and Claudia, my Colombian friend! And I had an extra week with her to celebrate. On Sunday we went to Richard’s parents for some more celebration, my mum was super delighted for the news as well.

April was a fantastic month for me..and I shall never forget it. Thank you all who made it special and especially thank you Richard for making me the happiest girl!

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2014 in review

Posted: December 31, 2014 in Uncategorized

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 6,800 times in 2014. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 6 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.