Wonders of Turkey – Part 1

This blog is entitled “Wonders of Turkey” – partly in reference to the name of the tour I just undertook with @TrafalgarSA but more so because Turkey is just a wondrous country filled with incredible wonders to explore.

Blue Mosque

Blue Mosque

I have just returned from this incredible country which left me speechless at times. There is so much to awe you from it’s incredible history, to the once in a life time sights that you will never see anywhere else in the world.

Turkey is the only country that happily straddles two continents, Asia and Europe and it tells. Not quite Asian, not quite Europe but an eclectic and wondrous mix between the two. This makes Turkey a worthy and unique destination and one I have long since wanted to explore.

Wow, where do I begin…..

First we visited Topkapi Palace, the view from there shows perfectly the mighty Bosphorus dividing the continents between Asia and Europe.

Europe on the left, Asia on the right. View from Topkapi Palace,

Europe on the left, Asia on the right. View from Topkapi Palace,

Topkapi Palace itself is something to be marveled at. The grandeur of it is incredible, gold leaf and Mosaic painstakingly placed everywhere to create the most beautiful art.

Topkapi Palace

Topkapi Palace

Domed Ceiling - Topkapi Palace

Domed Ceiling – Topkapi Palace

Just look at the designs!

Just look at the designs!

Golden ceiling, can you imagine the hours that took!?

Golden ceiling, can you imagine the hours that took!?

 

After Topkapi Palace I went to Hagia Sophia, first a church, then a mosque now a museum.

After the church was taken over and converted to a mosque the Christian symbols were covered up. Thankfully it was only covered up and not destroyed and now the government has commissioned the restoration of the Christian art to make it visible to visitors hence the scaffolding in the Hagia Sophia museum.

Hagia Sofya

Hagia Sophia

The sheer volume is incredible!

The sheer volume is incredible!

Hagia Sofya

Hagia Sophia

Uncovered Angels surround the dome

Uncovered Angels surround the dome

Partially uncovered Christian mosaic. Done with tiny tiles the size of your pinky nail. Incredible!

Partially uncovered Christian mosaic. Done with tiny tiles the size of your pinky nail. Incredible!

After vising the incredible museum of Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace we came across this freshly squeezed pomegranate juice. Well known in Turkey and available almost everywhere. It is really quite tart and not everyone’s cup of tea, but it was cold and delicious and certainly helped on an incredibly hot day in Istanbul.

Freshly Squeezed Pomegranate juice. Yum!

Freshly Squeezed Pomegranate juice. Yum!

The next stop on a very full day in Istanbul was the famous Blue Mosque, so named for the incredible interior covered in blue ceramic tiles. Here you may not enter with your shoes and get given plastic bags to put them in. You also need to be appropriately dressed, long pants for guys and ladies need to have their legs, shoulders and heads covered at all times. This is after all a mosque and is used for prayers daily. Pull on pants, tops and head scarves are available to borrow at the entrance but know that thousands of other people may have used that head scarf before you. Your decision.

The interior of the incredible Blue Mosque

The interior of the incredible Blue Mosque

Blue Mosque

Blue Mosque

 

Street scene in Istanbul

Street scene in Istanbul

We then took a visit to the frenetic Grand Bazaar, one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world. It comprises of 61 streets and, reportedly, over 4500 shops. It’s hectic, chaotic and an absolute must do when in Istanbul. Beware shopaholics, you may spend your entire budget on the first day! The Spice Bazaar is quieter and nicer, in my opinion, but more of that in a later blog.

Apologies for the poor quality photo here but there is so much movement my camera cant focus. It’s just to give you an idea of the scale of it. It is extremely busy and every shop owner is trying to sale his wares. A polite “no” worked every time, so I’m not sure about the stories I heard of the shopkeepers being persistent to the extreme. May be different for ladies though I don’t know but I didn’t see anything untoward.

Grand Bazaar, 61 streets, 4500 shops!

Grand Bazaar, 61 streets, 4500 shops! Shoppers heaven!

 

Grand Bazaar entrance

Grand Bazaar entrance

The day was then capped off with a meal and a belly dancing show at a great restaurant in Istanbul. A fun night to end an absolutely incredible day in Istanbul and this was only day 1! Whew what a start!

Belly dancing moves. Great evening!

Belly dancing moves. Great evening!

I honestly did not consider the fact that this blog would need to be in separate parts and going on what I achieved today, it’s going to be many parts! I hope you’ll join me for the ride and my next blog, coming soon.

Istanbul is incredible, I doubt I’m done with this wonderful city.

I leave you, as always with some inspiration to make your own dreams come true.

“Change your location and you may just change yourself” – Eric Weiner

Till next time,

Cheers,

Wayne

xxx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Liebster Award: Discover new Blogs

So today I got the greatest email on arriving at work that my awesome friends from http://thesmartwayround.com , Natalie and Dean – well travelled friends who I aim to be just like one day when I’m big – having nominated me for a Liebster Award! Check out their fantastic travel blog which not only covers the most incredible destinations but, as an added bonus, also provides great tips for travellers.

Liebster

The Liebster Award was created to recognise and discover bloggers – it’s a great gesture to recognise someone’s efforts and helps bloggers to connect with one another and also helps expose those bloggers to new audiences. So thanks to The Smart Way Round for this gracious gesture. You can ask 11 questions of other bloggers to keep the chain going.

Here’s to getting to know many more bloggers out there and here’s some more info on Wayne Central as per the questions posted by http://thesmartwayround.com

1. What three things can you not go travelling without?

Lipbalm, it’s a requirement (addiction?) since my army days many, many moons ago. I take extra just to make sure I’m never without it. Headache tablets, I always, but always get headaches from flying and lastly my trusty Dri-mac jacket. Thin enough to fold into a small ball in my backpack but keeps me both dry and warm in any weather. A must have when travelling in Europe.

2. If you could only visit one more place in the world where would that be?

Right, I know this was not the intention of this question but if I could only visit one more place in the world it would undoubtedly be a return to Italy. It is such an incredible country and my first two week trip to this wonderful country was only scraping the tip of the iceberg. I’m sincerely hoping to return for a milestone birthday year in 2018, if I could have my way, for 3 months to really discover every nook and cobblestoned cranny of this remarkable country.

3. What is the most unusual food you have tried on your travels?

I am very open to trying new food and live by the adage that I will try anything once. I am an adventurous eater but sadly havent been offered anything very adventurous on my travels. The most unusual for me was probably a north African stew in Zanzibar, Tanzania. However coming from South Africa we have our share of unusual food and ‘Mopanie’ worms would top most unusual for me. Dried worms crispy on the outside but a bit chewy on the inside tasting much like a peanut (except for the chewy part!), wouldn’t try it again though.

4. Are you a luxury traveller or more of an adventure traveller?

Oh anyone who says that they dont like a little luxury is just plain lying. I would not say no to a luxurious 5 star retreat one day but I must admit for me it isnt a priority. All I need is a bed, shower and working plumbing as I really dont intend spending long times in a hotel room in any event. For me travelling is getting out there and doing, discovering and expereincing stuff. I can sleep when I’m back home. I’m sadly not the type to jump off of or out of things though so enjoy my adventure a bit milder.

5. Who inspired you to travel?

Travel has always been a lifelong goal of mine but for a South African with one of the weakest currencies in the world a very difficult prospect. It takes a lot of sacrifice to be able to afford international travel in my country however I have always made it a point, thanks to my parents, to travel within SA every single year since I can remember. We didnt have much in the way of luxury but I can still remember those trips in vivid detail, we had so much fun going to Cape Town and Durban etc every year. My brother and I still do that by returing the favour to my elderly parents and taking them away at least once a year, on us! My first international trip was to Italy, inspired by a book I had read called ‘Beach Music’ by Pat Conroy – the man has an incredible way with words which made me feel as if I was walking the streets of Italy while reading that book. I still have it and Italy was a revelation and a must do!

6. What is your biggest travel regret?

I ensure I always live my life with no regrets and I travel in the same manner. Doing everything and anything I’m offered when I travel. I will go on all the experiences even if my feet fall off from all the walking but I wont go home wishing I had doen something. I do however have one regret, not lathering my legs with sunscreen during a tour in Zanzibar. I’ve never known that one can burn your legs while walking, not lying in the sun, walking! My tip for anyone going to Zanzibar, put sunscreen on your entire body when you get out of the shower in the mornings, you wont regret it.

7. What is the coolest thing to see in your hometown?

Our City Sightseeing Hop-on-Hop-off bus is an absolute blast: http://www.citysightseeing.co.za/joburg.php – it’s a fun opentopped bus taking you to all museums and places of interest in Johannesburg. You can literally hop on and hop off when you want to and catch the next bus to the next stop whenever you are ready. It’s great fun and a wonderful way of seeing our city.

Image courtesy of City Sightseeing Red Bus

Image courtesy of City Sightseeing Red Bus

 

 

8. Share your favourite travel photo and why is it your favourite?

Only one!? That’s hard, ok…

The Island of Burano - Venice, Italy

The Island of Burano – Venice, Italy

The Island of Burano, Venice, Italy – during my tour of Italy it was one of the quietest places I had visited and believe me in Italy that is quite a feat. It really did not have a lot of tourists at the time I was there and I really felt like I was immersed in every day life on this great island. Children playing in the street, old ladies sitting outside their homes having a chat, just normal Italian life. Walking these streets was absolute bliss and I choose this photo not so much how it looks but rather how it made me feel.

9. What is the worst souvenir you have ever bought?

I try really hard to buy souvenir’s that are not your average tourist fare but rather something that can stand the test of time such as original paintings of major sights of the countries I visit or T-shirts that are embroided, painted rather that plastic stuck on the front etc. In Italy I just could not resist buying a small cement replica of the Coloseum, yes it’s terrible and mass produced but will forever remind me of my tour of this majestic structure.

10. If you could live in any country which country would that be?

I guess by this time you could guess a recurring theme here, definitely Italy. I could live there tomorrow (anyone offering jobs?) – the food, the culture, the people and of course that language that makes my knees weak when I hear it spoken, yes definitely Italy.

11. What do you most enjoy about travelling?

Discovering new culture, food and history tops my list of joys when travelling. I must say the planning is also super exciting but nothing tops just experiencing every moment with an open mind and an open heart and of course I make it my mission to discover delicious food, coffee and wine not necesarily in that order!

Wow, this was fun! Thanks Dean and Natalie for the nomination.

Now the hard task of nominating others, I hope you all take up the challenge!

My nominees for the Liebster Award are:

Vanilla Blonde – http://www.vanillablonde.co.za/

The Incidental Tourist – http://theincidentaltourist.com/

Mzansi Girl – http://www.mzansigirl.com/

Jozilicious – http://www.joziliciousblog.co.za/

Duff’s Suitcase – http://duffssuitcase.com/

Your task, is to answer the following 11 questions and nominate as many bloggers as you want with your own list of 11 questions to keep the awards going and to get bloggers connected.

1. What’s your best Travel memory and what made it so memorable?

2. What’s the most exotic/memorable experience you’ve ever had?

3. What are the top three destinations on your Travel Bucket List and why?

4. What is your favourite experience to have in your own country/city?

5. Name three things to convince tourists on why they should visit South Africa?

6. Describe a normal day in the life of… (you).

7. Name three favourite destinations to visit in South Africa but not where you live and why?

8. If you could learn a new language what would it be and why?

9. Share your favourite photograph of anything and tell more about what makes it special to you.

10. What talent do you always wish you had?

11. If you could do anything for a job/career other that what you are currently doing what would it be and why?

Have fun and share with other bloggers. Here’s to making many more friends on the bloggersphere.

Cheers,

 

Wayne

 

 

 

 

 

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Take a break in Zanzibar

Here’s the third and final part of my short but incredible trip to the gorgeous island of Zanzibar.

As I last mentioned the day I decided to do a full day tour I also did the Spice tour. This was incredibly interesting and insightful but unfortunately it makes for very boring pictures I’m afraid. All the photo’s would simply be of trees or bushes!

It was, for me, very insightful though to see what all the spices etc. look like in their natural form from cloves to vanilla (my favourite). The clove tree is the pride and joy of Zanzibar and highly governed. Each family is given a clove tree by the government and it is highly illegal to chop down a clove tree.

There were only three of us on the tour the day I went, a very recently married couple on their honeymoon joined me. They had just gotten married only a few days previously!

Decked out in our gifts!

Decked out in our gifts!

The locals are expert weavers and they made us these gifts of hats/crowns and ties for the guys and a handbag for the ladies. They were awesome and so well made. I gave mine to a tiny little boy in Stone Town who took my hand and asked serenely for it, I simply could not refuse him. I was so enthralled by the cute little tyke I never took his photograph, but the locals are not fond of it and seldom allow photo’s anyway. And since there was no adult in sight I couldn’t ask in any event. I felt good anyway…

We then went for a delicious lunch at the harbour in Stone Town before exploring the World heritage sight that is this amazing city.

Stone Town is incredible, it’s like nothing I have ever seen before. The buildings are basically falling down around you in very narrow streets and then you get these intricately designed wooden doors that are simply beautiful. On the streets are just shops after shops with extremely friendly shop keepers welcoming you inside their store.

Narrow Streets

Narrow Streets

Stone Town

Stone Town

Intricate Doors - a sure sign you're in Zanzibar

Intricate Doors – a sure sign you’re in Zanzibar

I’m not sure how many people know this but Freddy Mercury from Queen was born in Zanzibar.

Mercury House

Mercury House

Another door

Another door

The House of Wonders is best viewed from the Forodhani Gardens on the old town’s sea front. It is so named because it was the first building in Zanzibar to have electricity and also the first building in East Africa to have an elevator.

House of Wonders

House of Wonders

IMG-20140924-00834

Zanzibari scaffolding

Zanzibari scaffolding

I really had such a laugh at the above picture, yes those are simply wooden poles tied together with twine used as scaffolding in Zanzibar. They build these themselves as needed and simply climb up and do what is required. You would not catch me dead on those precarious poles!

Now for what Zanzibar is famous for, sea, sand, surf. Enjoy!

Sunset

Sunset

Fishing boats

Fishing boats

Sand, sea

Sand, sea

Cool, clear water

Cool, clear water

Beautiful

Beautiful

Zanzibar is really an incredible island, there is much to see and do or you can simply do nothing at all.

I had a fantastic time and once again I need to thank Sure Travel for suggesting this incredible experience. I honestly cannot wait to go back!

It is the four day Easter weekend this weekend and here’s wishing everyone happy and safe travels!

Take care, till next time….

“The most beautiful thing in the world is, of course, the world itself.” – Wallace Stevens

Cheers,

Wayne

 

 

 

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Karibu Zanzibar!

As my last blog was all about the experience and practicalities of visiting Zanzibar so this one is all about what an awesome and wonderful part of the world this friendly island is.

As this was my first island experience I really have no authority in saying this but there is just something about an island in Africa. It feels so far removed from Africa, yet is so close to it.

Zanzibar is by no means a wealthy nation but you wouldn’t know it by the people who are possibly the most friendly I have ever encountered. At the end of the day you are practically exhausted of saying “Jambo” to every single person you pass. ‘Jambo’ means hello and every one you pass will say it to you, every time.

I stayed at the Double Tree Hilton hotel in Nungwi. The town (and I use this word very lightly) is essentially a fishing village but you do go to Zanzibar to relax after all.

The island also has incredible things to do from visits to Prison Island where the giant tortoises are to visiting the world heritage sight that is Stone Town. The island is steeped in history which is exactly why I chose it.

The Double Tree Hilton is in the very North of the island. I’m told that this is the best part of the island as the tide does not go as far out as the rest of the island. The hotel was really outstanding, I opted for the All Inclusive package and it was definitely worth every cent. The service is incredible, the food absolutely delicious and too much, the rooms are gorgeous and you don’t have to think about a thing while you are there because everything is included except of course any tours you’d want to do or the Spa.

The reception of the Double Tree Hotel

The reception of the Double Tree Hotel

On arrival they give you the most delicious chocolate chip cookie and an ice cold iced tea while you wait for your room to be allocated.

My gorgeous room with not one, but two full queen sized beds!

My gorgeous room with not one, but two full queen sized beds!

Double Tree by Hilton

Double Tree by Hilton

Pool Bar and pool

Pool Bar and pool

Double Tree by Hilton at night

Double Tree by Hilton at night

Early morning pool view

Early morning pool view

The beach - I spent many hours under those Tiki huts

The beach – I spent many hours under those Tiki huts

Spectacular view

Spectacular view

You can get drinks and snacks delivered to you right on the beach!

Cocktail time!

Cocktail time!

Local Tanzanian Beer

Local Tanzanian Beer

I was, sadly, only there for four days and my sole purpose of going to Zanzibar was to relax but I also wanted to see the sights. So I took one full day and did all the tours in one day. This was so that I could maximize my relaxing time on the rest of the days. I went to Prison Island  – not so called because of prisoners as no prisoners were actually housed there, now home to giant tortoises. I also did the Spice Island tour and of course a tour of Stone Town, a World Heritage sight.

On the boat to Prison Island

On the boat to Prison Island

Approaching Prison Island

Approaching Prison Island

Look how blue that sea is, absolutely gorgeous!

Feeding the Giant tortoises.

Feeding the Giant tortoises.

Big guy!

Big guy!

These tortoises can grow to be hundreds of years old.

From Prison Island - Zanzibar in the distance

From Prison Island – Zanzibar in the distance

The beach at the hotel at low tide, notice the seaweed.

The beach at the hotel at low tide, notice the seaweed.

That’s all I have time for today. In a few days I will tell you about the rest of the tour on the Spice Island and Stone Town tours.

I leave you with this apt quote…

“The tans may fade but the memories will last forever” – unknown

Cheers,

 

Wayne

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Zanzibar, all part of the experience!

Karibu Zanzibar!

I don’t know why, but I never thought of myself as an Island person, the thought of sitting on a sandy beach all day in the hot sun just does not appeal to me (yes, crazy I know!). I’m just more of a mild weather kind of person and I overheat quickly and being hot, hot, hot, just isn’t my cup of tea. I also love history, something with historical significance is like a drug to me. I want to know the stories that make a country unique and I want to see something vastly different from my own country when travelling.

When I was looking for a place to relax after my tour of Europe I was really thinking somewhere local just to rest, rejuvenate and relax but my Sure Travel agent had something more exotic in mind. The minute Doriane mentioned Zanzibar, an island just off the coast of Tanzania, and knowing me well enough to mention it’s history, culture and things to do but also plenty of time to just ‘be’ and rest, well I was hooked! I was about to be converted….

So much about this place appealed to me, there was much to see and do OR I could just do nothing, it is also a quick three hour flight from South Africa and you are in paradise. I must admit that the All Inclusive package I took was also appealing and in my opinion is a must do/take. You literally have to worry about nothing. Ok, I digress, let’s give you something to look at before you lose interest…

The photo’s below were taken from the Mango flight to Zanzibar – just look at how blue the ocean is, rare in South Africa and ever rarer for a resident of the land locked city of Johannesburg.

The Tanzanian Coast line

The Tanzanian Coast line

A tiny island

A tiny island

Another Island

Another Island

Zanzibar Coastline

Zanzibar Coastline

Zanzibar Island

Zanzibar Island

Soon after the above photo, we landed in Zanzibar. The first thing you notice on landing is the oppressive heat, it literally smacks you off your feet as soon as you step out of the plane. I must admit, my first thought was, “Oh gosh, what have I done? This heat is going to kill me!”. It was a misplaced thought, but still the heat is something else.

Now, on arrival in Zanzibar the last thing you need to expect is to see a large international airport like the one’s I’m now used to in Europe. Zanzibar airport is, well, quaint to be fair. Everything is basically done by hand, baggage claim is a slab of granite on which your suitcase is unceremoniously dumped and you basically climb over everyone else’s baggage  once you spot your suitcase to go get it yourself.  It has arrived off the plane by a couple of men dragging the cage they put it in to where you are waiting at the ‘baggage claim’. Quite an experience and one which had me in stitches, it’s all part of the fun. In their defense,  everything is much quicker that in those larger airports. It took less than 30 minutes to get through everything and be out of the airport.

One thing I need to mention here, there are guys who will insist on assisting you with your luggage to your hotel transfer and will negotiate a fee, try and get that as low as possible or perhaps not pay at all. They are actually not allowed to request a fee (signs all over) and the hotel transfer is literally about 20 steps away! Yes I, sadly, got caught at this as I was not aware of this arrangement BUT I did argue him down from $20 to $5 which for a South African is a lot of money to push my wheeled suitcase 20 steps!  I felt much better knowing I didn’t get duped out of $20! Anyway, again part of the experience.

Also when leaving Zanzibar, you will queue with quite a lot of people to scan you luggage, most of whom are South Africans. Flights are Tuesdays and Saturdays in and out of Zanzibar from South Africa on Mango Airlines. There is only one scanner and all your luggage has to go through it, be it carry on or your large suitcase. The airport is also not air-conditioned, made of glass and hotter than a pie in an oven! My suggestion is to go to the gift shop and stay there until you have to board, they have great stuff to buy and best of all, it is air conditioned and cool. The snack bar is also very expensive as you are literally buying stuff imported from South Africa at imported prices. I really had to laugh at that one, oh and it’s all in US$. Yes, yes, part of the experience…..

Zanzibar Airport queues - we are all queuing for the one and only scanner!

Zanzibar Airport queues – we are all queuing for the one and only scanner!

Boarding passes are handwritten, the seat you get on the plane is a lucky dip and not the one you booked and paid for but yes, yes, all part of the experience. You are also required to get on a bus to board the plane, it only drives for about 20 seconds and then deposits you some distance from the plane anyway. I cant understand that part but hey, when in Zanzibar…….

Walking to our Mango flight home

Walking to our Mango flight home

IMG-20140927-00878

Oh don’t get me wrong, I loved every second of this. When I travel I am carefree, whether it be missing connecting flights in Munich, Germany or being ripped off by a local in Zanzibar, for me it’s all a joy, all part of the experience!

When I arrived at my hotel transfer, my luggage was shoved through the back window of the mini-van where it would be stored for our trip to the hotel. They hand you an ice cold bottle of water, free of charge, and the mini-van is heavily air-conditioned, what bliss!

I stayed at the Double Tree Hilton Zanzibar which is about an hour’s drive from the airport, long I know, but I loved it as it gives you a chance to see the island and the people that live there. Also since the mini-van is air-conditioned, the drive is cool and pleasant.

They mostly use US$ in Zanzibar but I suspect we are paying a lot more for things this way. I would suggest you try and convert your $ to Tanzanian Shillings as soon as possible but US$ are accepted everywhere.

Anyway, I realize that this posting of my Zanzibar trip is becoming long winded, so I will have to split it into separate blogs.

I hope this blog has helped a little and given you a taste of what to expect when going to Zanzibar.  It is paradise but it is also Africa but my advice is don’t sweat the little things, the heat will take care of the sweating for you!

I leave you with a little taster below….

Paradise!

Paradise!

I’m off for about a week, going to have some fun, rest, relax etc. in a little town in the mountains called Clarens in the eastern Free State, South Africa which I love, so no blog next week.

I’ll tell you more about Zanzibar in my next blog, till then…..

“To travel, to experience and learn: that is to live” – Tenzing Norgay

Cheers,

 

Wayne

 

 

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To memories made

After visiting Salzburg in Austria I headed back up to Munich, Germany from where I would fly back home to Johannesburg, South Africa. My Imperial city tour of Europe had come to an end.

Strangely, for South Africans anyway, all the shops etc. were closed in Munich on a Sunday, the day my tour ended. I felt it was quite a wasted day and spent most of it in my hotel room and the hotel restaurant. The hotel graciously allowed late check-out which was really helpful. The weather was also absolutely terrible on the last day which made going out quite an ordeal anyway.

It was somewhat of a disappointment for me not being able to do much on my last day. My trip to Italy the previous year spoiled me as I did a tremendous amount of shopping on my last day there in Rome which was wonderful!

Cute houses near the hotel in Munich

Cute houses near the hotel in Munich

 

Munich

Munich

Absolutely pouring with rain!

Absolutely pouring with rain!

I had an absolutely incredible trip which I did not want to end. I wanted to go back to Budapest and eat myself sick on cabbage rolls. I wanted to go back to Prague and walk those old streets slowly with no purpose or destination in mind. I wanted to eat, drink and be merry some more in Munich and get more culture in Vienna. I wanted to go back to that street café in Salzburg and people watch some more while enjoying a big Stiegl beer. This was a great tour and I loved every minute, memories that I will cherish forever with a  big smile on my face.

Stiegl Beer in Salzburg, Austria. Yum!

Stiegl Beer in Salzburg, Austria. Yum!

Thanks again to Trafalgar  – http://www.Trafalgar.com/sa – , my wonderful agent at Sure Travel Scene (Doriane you rock!) – http://www.SureTravel.co.za or info@TravelScene.co.za or Doriane@Travelscene.co.za for personal service.

A few weeks before leaving for Europe, I decided that I needed some relaxing time before getting back to the grind of daily life. Europe is such a big place to visit that to see all the sights etc. can be super hectic, there can be little time to simply relax, which is great, but I felt I needed a few days afterward to just rest before heading back to work, life etc. I enquired by my Sure Travel agent on some suggestions of a relaxing couple of days and they kindly suggested Zanzibar! A small island off the coast of Tanzania, Africa.

After that suggestion was made, I must confess, my mind would not go anywhere else. Just imagine, tropical island, sea, sand, cocktails and historical significance to boot? Sounds like paradise to me! Suddenly, my Europe trip ending wasn’t so bad after all! Zanzibar really appealed to me, a place to absolutely relax but also with sightseeing and a great history that belies this tiny island and only a three hour flight away, I couldn’t wait!

But, I’m afraid, you will have to……

Read all about my Zanzibar trip in my next blog, in a few days time.

Hope to see you there, till then…….

No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow” – Lin Yutang

Cheers,

 

Wayne

 

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Von Trapped in Salzburg

The next leg of my incredible Europe tour was Salzburg and what an incredibly picturesque area this is. In the mountains with absolutely beautiful scenery everywhere.

Also it is the home of the musical “The Sound of Music” and I was even lucky enough to stay in undoubtedly the best hotel during this entire trip, the Hotel Schloss Leopoldskron where scenes from the film were shot. Breakfast was served in the actual palace! What a treat, and again only something that could be achieved by Trafalgar tours, yet another ‘insider experience’.

Schloss Leopoldskron

Schloss Leopoldskron

 

The views from the magnificent hotel were, well, magnificent!

 

Views over the lake

Views over the lake

 

In the grounds of Schloss Leopoldskron

In the grounds of Schloss Leopoldskron

 

We also went to the city which was a really awesome city. We visited the house where Mozart was born. I was also a bit shopped out by this point so I found an out-of-the- way street café and sat doing some people watching for a couple of hours. It was incredibly relaxing and I really felt like I was mingling with the locals.

The house where Mozart was born

The house where Mozart was born

 

The food stalls in the city were also quite incredible. If you thought the pretzels in Germany were something you haven’t seen the one’s in Salzburg. They even have one’s covered in chocolate!

 

Meat in every form imaginable

Meat in every form imaginable

 

Pretzels, every which way. Chocolate covered are so decadent!

Pretzels, every which way. Chocolate covered are so decadent!

 

I mentioned we had breakfast in the opulent palace. I literally almost forgot to eat I was so awestruck by the opulence!

The dining room in the Schloss Leopoldskron Palace

The dining room in the Schloss Leopoldskron Palace

 

The view from the Palace balcony

The view from the Palace balcony

Beautiful!

Beautiful!

 

We also took a day trip into Germany from Salzburg to visit Hitler’s Eagles Nest, while I cannot fathom why someone didn’t think to throw him off it, it was certainly breathtakingly beautiful.

The man himself was terrified of heights and actually only visited a few times even though it was a gift to him for his 50th Birthday. Construction was completed in a record 13 months, I can only imagine how badly the workers were treated to work this quickly even in the dead of winter. It was completed in 1938.

You get to the top with specially adapted buses that travel along breathtaking scenery on a long and winding one track road, go through an underground tunnel in the mountain and then get in a lift which travels 124 meters directly up into the mountain. Quite a journey but the views are certainly worth it!

Underground tunnel to the elevator. Very cold and wet.

Underground tunnel to the elevator. Very cold and wet.

 

Hitler's Eagles Nest

Hitler’s Eagles Nest

 

Views from the Eagle's Nest

Views from the Eagle’s Nest

 

Breathtaking

Breathtaking

 

So that was my time in Salzburg and I loved it. Probably the most picturesque city on this tour, in the mountains with incredible scenery.

I say goodbye this week with my customary travel quote.

“I don’t know where I’m going, but I’m on my way” – Carl Sagan

 

Cheers, till next time.

 

Wayne

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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