A Travellerspoint blog

South America

brazil Guyana Argentina

sunny 28 °C

VISITING BRAZIL

BEFORE I LEFT FOR GUYANA AND BRAZIL , I HAD TO TAKE A VACCINE CALLED ,YELLOW FEVER'? MY SPECIALIST TOLD ME THAT BECAUSE ITS HIGHLY RECOMMENDED BEFORE TRAVELLING TO SOUTH AMERICA AND THEY DONT LET ANYONE INO THE COUNTRY UNLESS YOU'VE GOTTEN THE SHOT. IT WAS A REALLY GOOD THING THAT I LISTENED TO MY DOCTOR, OTHERWISE I WOULD HAVE BEEN STCUK AT THE AIRPORT AND WOULD HAVE HAD TO HEAD BACK HOME.
AS I ARRIVED IN BRAZIL, I ENCOUNTERED SOME DIFFICULTY. I HAD SOME TROUBLE UNDERSTANDING WHAT THE AIRPORT WORKERS WERE SAYING TO ME, EVEN THOUGH I WAS PRACTISING MY SPANISH ALONG THE WAY ON THE PLANE. I CLEARLY HADNT STUDIED ENOUGH , I THINK I WAS TOO CAUGHHT UP IN ALL THE EXCITMENT OF TRAVELLING. ANYHOW THE BEAUTIFUL CLEAR SKIES OF BRAZIL EXCITED ME AND ALTHOUGH IT WAS 9 PM, THE NIGHT HAD FELT SOO YOUNG SUNSET WAS AT 9:00 PM AND I ALSO GOT TO WITNESS A WEDDING RECEPTION GOING ON AT THE FORT COPACABANA, IN RIO DE JANEIRO WHERE THERE WAS A BEACH. I HAD BEEN TALKING TO SOME PEOPLE CLOSE BY ON THE BEACH AND THEY HAD SAID THAT FORT COPACABANA IS A MILIRATRY BASE THAT WAS BUILT TO PROTECT THE BEACHA ND THE ENTRANCE OF RIO DE JANEIRO. AFTER HEARING ABOUT THE HISTORY OF THIS PLACE I HAD TO GO AND VISIT REAL SOON! SO I HAD ASKED THE MAN FOR HIS NAME AND HE SAID HIS NAME IS CARLOS, HE GAVE ME HIS NUMBER AND WE ARRANGED TO MEET UP AT THE NEARBY CAFÉ SO HE CAN SHOW ME AROUND AND BRING ME BACK TO THE MUSEUM. CARLOS HAD SAID THAT HE WAS A FROMER SOLDIER IN THE ARMY IN THE YEAR OF ENTERING THE MUSEUM WAS AWESOME, I SAW THE LARGE ARTILARY GUNS AMD MACHINES THAT THE ARMY USED DURING THE WAR. IT WAS TRULY A CAPTIVATING DAY, FOR I HAVENT EVER GOTTEN TO WITNESS SUCH REAL GUN.

VISTING GUYANA

DAY1:
FIRST ARRIVING AT THE CHEDDI JAGAN NATIONAL AIRPORT, ALL I COULD THINK WAS BOY, THIS PLACE IS HOT! AND IT ALMOST FELT LIKE A HEAT WAVE.
SHORTLY AFTER MY BAGGAGE CLAIM , WE TOOK A MINI BUS ALL THE WAY TO NEW AMSTERDAM AND THE DRIVE WAS ABOUT 4 1/2 HOUR DRIVE. THE BREEZE WAS COOL AND IT FELT SO GOOD BECAUSE THE MINI BUS IS KINDA MINI. AND NOT MANY PEOPLE ARE ABLE TO FIT IN IT. BUT, MY SISTER AND I -ALONG WITH 8 OTHER PEOPLE WERE COMFTERABLY SEATED. WE WERE QUITE EXCITED BECAUSE WE WERE LOOKING FORWARD TO SEEING OUR FAMILY IN NEW AMSTERDAM. FINALLY WE ARRIVED IN BERBICE,NEW AMSTERDAM AT MY COUSINS HOUSE. OUR DAY STARTED OFF AT 6 AM IN THE MORNING WHILE THE SUN WAS RISING. IT WAS EARLY AND I COULD SEE ALL THE PEOPLE OF THE TOWN OUTSIDE ALREADY STARTED THE DAYS WORK, MINING CATTLE, HENS AND DOGS AND HEADING TO WORK. THE ROADS STARTED TO GET BUSY WITH WALKERS WHO SEEMED TO BE TRAVELLING AFAR WITH THEIR BAGGAGES AND WHATEVER ELSE NEEDED TO COME ALONG. THE ROADS ARE LIKE BROWN AND DUSTY DIRT, THERE'S NOT MUCH OF CONCRETE ON THE STREETS . AND THE CONDITION OF MIOST BUILDINGS ARE OLD AND IN NEED OF SOME KIND REPAIRING. OUR FIRST TRIP WAS JUST AN ADVENTURE WALK TO THE LOCAL MARKET, TO GET SOME FOOD AND FRESH FOOD FOR OUR THREE DAY STAY. WHAT WE GOT WAS MAGOES, PEARS, STAR APPLES AND GUAVA. THE FRUITS WERE SO FRESH THAT I COULD SMELL THEM FROM A BLOCK BEFORE THE MARKET. THE WEATHER IN GUYANA IS SUNNY AND A BIT RAINY, WHICH MAKES IT PERFECT WEATHER FOR CROP TO YIELD YEAR -ROUND. NEXT WE WENT TO THE SUPER MAKET AND I HAD TO PICK UP A CAN OF MILO, BECAUSE I LOVE IT AND I JUST HAD TO TRY IT HERE. I HAD NOTICED THAT THE CONTAINER LOOKED A LITTLE DIFFERENT SO I READ THE FINE PRINT AND REALIZED THAT MILO IS IMPORTED FROM DIFFERENT COUNTRIES WITH ONE OF THEM BEING GUYANA. AFTER THE MARKET MY AUNT TOOK US TO THE BERBICE RIVER THAT WAS 23 MINUTES AWAY FROM WHERE WE WERE STAYING. THE DRIVE WASNT THAT LONG , SHORTLY WE ARRIVED AND THE WATER WAS BROWN, YET I COULD SEE THROUGH THE WATER. THE RIVER IS CLEAN AND THERE ISNT REALLY MUCH LAND FILL IN IT, ALTHOUGH THE COLOR OF THE WATER IS BROWN, IT STILL IS FAIRLY CLEAN. MY AUNT HAD SAID THAT IT GETS ITS COLOR FROM THE TREES AND THE SUN. IT WAS QUITE COOL TO SEE THAT. WE TOOK A SWIM AND JUST RELAXED IN THE SUN, SIPING ON SOME MALTA FROM THE SUPER MARKET, AND OUR DAY ENEDED THERE.

DAY 2:
WAKE UP TIME WAS AT 7 AM. I USUALLY DONT WAKE UP THIS EALRY , BUT I COULDNT SLEEP IN ANY MORE TIME PAST THAT BECAUSE THE CHICKEN WOULD BE CROWING BY 5 AM, AND EVERYONE WAZS ALREADY UP DOING THEIR HOUSE CHORES AND LEAVING FOR THE ROAD. ONCE I WOKE UP AND GOT DRESSED , I REALIZED THAT IT WAS SATURDAY AND THINGS STILL NEEDS TO GET DONE EVEN ON THE WEEKEND. I SAW THIS LITTLE BOY HELPING HIS GRANDAD SELLING SWEET MANGO AND BAG JUICE AT THE SIDE OF THE ROAD WHILE APPROACHING PEOPLE TO HAVE A CASUAL CONVERSATION AND HOPEFULLY BUY A SNACK OR TWO. SEEING THE BUY , I PULLED OUT $2000 DOLLARS NOT REALLY KNOWING WHAT IT COULD BUY ME , BUT I GAVE IT TO THE BUY AND HE GAVE ME A PACK OF COOKIES AND HE SAID ' THANK YOU MA'AM ' HAVE A NICE DAY!' I WAAS TRULY WARMED BY THE SMILE THAT WAS ON HIS FACE AS HE WENT TO REACH FOR THE SNACK THAT HE WANTED TO GIVE ME. TRAVELLING BY FOOT WAS OUR MAIN WAY OF TRANSPORTATION THROUGHOUT THE LAST TWO DAYS ; BUT, SINCE WE WERE GOING INTO THE TOWN WE TOOK THE MINI BUS. ON OUR WAY TO GEORGETOWN , THE BUS PICKED UP SEVERAL PEOPLE AT DIFFERENT STOPS THROUGHOUT THE JORNEY. 2 HOURS PAST AND , CURIOUSNESS AND EXCICTMENT FILLED MY MIND , SO I BEGAN TO ASK QUESTIONS TO THIS MAN BESIDE ME , HOPING HE OULD ANSWEER ALL OF MY QUESTIONS . BY THE TIME I HAD REACHED THE 4 TH QUESTION ALL I COULD HEAR WAS MANY PEOPLES VOICES TALKING AND YELLING 'GT,GT'. I GUESS THATS A WELCOME FOR THE CITY. MANY BUILDINGS AND SHOPS SURROUINDED THE PEOPLE . IT ALMOST SEEMED LIKE BUSINESS CENTRAL TO BE HONEST; WITH ALL THE HUSTLE AND BUSTLE. ANYHOW TO KIND OF GET AWAY FROM ALL OF THE NOISE WE WENT TO THEN SEA WALL WHICH IS THE ATLANTIC OCEAN. ALONG THE SEA WALL THERE ARE MINI PICTURES WITH TEXT INFORMATION ABOUT THE SEA SUCH AS ITS SEA AND LAND CREATURES. WHAT WAS COOL WAS THAT SOME PEOPLE BRING THEIR PETS, AND THE CRAZY THING I SAW A GUY WITH A HUGE SNAKE AROUND HIS NECK!! THE SNAKE LOOKED HEAVIER THEM HIM. I WAS SO CREEPED OUT AND TERIFIED IM LIKE 'GOTTA BALST'. THE BET PART ABOUT THE SEA WALL IS THE BREEZE, ITS AWESOMEE . IT INSTANTLY COOLS YOUR BODY HEAT DOWN. AFTER SPENDING THE WHOLE DAY THERE, WE JUST WRAPPED IT UP WITH SOME ICE CREAM FROM A SHOP AND TOOK THE MINI BUS BACK TO BERBICE.

VISITING ARGENTINA

IN ARGENTINA I WENT TO A FOOTBALL GAME. IT WAS AT THE TOMAS ADOLFO DUCO STADIUM IN BUENAS AIRES. THE TEAMS PLAYING WERE THE HURACAN VS THE LOS ANDES. THE GAME STARTED AT PM IN THE AFTERNOON AND THERE WERE MANY PEOPLE OUTISDE OF THE STADIUM WHO COULDN’T AFFORD TO PAY THE ADMISSION PRICE SO THEY STOOD AT THE FENCES WATCHING AND CHEERING. WHEN WE FIRST GOT INTO THE STADIUM WE FOUND OUR SEATS AND BOUGHT SOME SNACKS LIKE EMPANADAS AND TORILLA CHIPS. AS WE WERE MAKING OUR WAY BACK INTO THE STADIUM , WE HEARD THE NATIONAL ANTHEM OF ARGENTINA BEING SUNG AND IT WAS A LITTLE GIRL AND HER MOTHER WHO MUST HAVE BEEN ONE OF THE FOOTBALL PLAYERS’ DAUGHTER AND WIFE. THE GAME WAS A TIE, AT HALF GAME. AT THE END – HOME TEAM WON BY THREE POINTS! OVERALL IT WAS A FUN GAME TO WATCH AND THE ARGENENE PEOPLE WERE VEY LIVLEY, ROOTING FOR THEIR TEAM IN SPANISH. SPENDING A 5 DAYS IN BUENAS AIRES WAS FUN, WE WENT HIKING AT THE CAMINO AL ARBOL DE CRISTAL MOUNTAIN. HIKING WAS VERY FUN BUT WHEN ER GOT BACK IN AFTER THE NIGHT, I WAS THINKING OF ALL THE POOR PEOPLE ON THE STREETS WHO HADNT HAD A PLACE TO LIVE BUT THE STREET . I WAS DISSAPOINTED BECAUSE I HAD NO IDEAD THAT POVERTY IN THIS COUNTRY WAS THAT BAD. I ALSO NOTICED THAT THE PEOPLE HERE WOULD HELP OUT THEIR OWN; BUT IT WAS COMPLETLEY DIFFERENT. THE TREES WERE VERY OLD AND ALL I COULD SEE IS DIRT AND FLAT PLANES ALL AORUND AND NO HIGH MOUNTAINS TO CLIMB WHATSOVER! WE STAYED AT A HOTEL CALLED ALTUEN SUITES AND SPA IN SAN CARLOS. THE LOCATION OF THE HOTEL OVERLOOKED LAKE NAHUEL HUAPAI WHICH WAS SO BEALUTIFUL AND IT WAS ALSO CLOSE TO A BEACH CALLED PLAYA BONITA , WHICH MEANS BEAUTIFUL BEACH! BY 12 NOON WE TOOK A TRIP TO THE SPA AND THE LADIES GAVE US AMAZING SERVICE WITH A PARIFIN HAND MASK , BACK MASAGE AND A FACIAL. WE DIDNT HAVE TO PAY ANYTHING FOR IT UNTIL THE END WHEN WERE LEAVING, LUCKILY ENOUGH THE HOTEL WAS CLOSE TO THIS COUNTRY REMINDS ME OF GUYANA! ALL OF THE PEOPLE THERE ARE SO FRIENDLY AND ALWAYS HAVE ENCOURAGING TO SAY.

Posted by DrucillaC 20:58 Archived in Argentina Tagged landscapes sunsets_and_sunrises people trees # Comments (0)

ASIA

Cambodia, Malasia, Indonesia

sunny 28 °C

Cambodia
WE STAYED IN THE CAPITAL CITY -PHNOM PENH AT A HOTEL NAMED AMANJAYA PANCAM. FIRST ACTIVITY WE DID UPON ARRIVAL WAS VISITING THE NATIONAL MUSEUM OF CAMBODIA. IT WAS NORTH OF THE ROYAL PALACE. THE BUIDLING TOOK THREE YEARS TO BUILD FROM 1917- 1920 , AND THE BUILDING HAS THIS COOL LOOK OF AN OLD TRADITIONAL DESIGN. THERES ALSO POTTERY AND BRONZES FROM CENTURIES AGO. BUT NO PHOTOGRAPHS WERE ALLOWED TO BE TAKEN, ONLY OF THEN GARDEN SO I TOOK AS MANY SNAPS OF THE COURTYARD AS I COULD NECAUSE IT WAS SO WELCOMING TO THE WHOLE MUSEUM. NEXT VISIT WAS TO THE JUNGLE! I'VE ALWAYS WANTED TO GO TO A JUNGLE. ITS CALLED BOENG YEAK LOM. BEAUTIFUL CLEAR WATER MAKES IT PERFECT FOR SWIMMING. I HEARD THAT PEOPLE BELIEVED THAT A METEROITE HIT IT AND THAT'S HOW IT GOT ITS PERFECT CIRLCLE SHAPE . BUT I DONT BELIEVE THAT BECAUSE I KNOW THAT GOD CREATED THE EARTH AND NOTHING WAS JUST PEFRECTLY PUT HERE BY A METEORITE OR ANYTHING ELSE FOR THAT MATTER. SO I HAD BEEN TELLING THE TOURIST THAT BROUGHT US AROUND WHAT I BELIEVE AND AT THAT I TIME I GOT TO WITNESS TO THEM ABOUT THE LOVE OF JESUS CHRIST. AT FIRST THEY WERE SKEPTICAL BUT TWO MEN AND A LADY WERE WILLING TO GIVE THEIR HEART TO THE LORD. IT WAS TRULY AN AMAZING DAY SWIMMING IN THAT BEAUTIFUL LAKE AND SEEING THE VIEW OF THE JUNGLE WAS BREATHTAKING.

MALASIA
We did it!! After three failed attempts in the last year, we put The 3 countries of the noodles and rice.
And some will wonder, as we ourselves have asked: "Why return home, rather than continue the journey suspended for South" But we could not find a logical answer, the answer is rather physical, it is what the body asked us. I am having spent 11 months traveling the land we had been engaged and we longed to return. Speaking with friends with our same disease we agreed that maybe it is because of its people and contrasts, but the truth is that we all keep the same feelings towards this continent.
A single ticket to Kuala Lumpur on June 15 th made all "could" become "will", & here we are again on the other side of the world!
We had been in Kuala Lumpur in the previous trip, but we will not leave reflected in the blog. It was the starting point of Southeast Asia and now we have become the entry point. So the feeling when walking those familiar streets and adopt these customs also family was as if we never had been, as if these 2 years and 2 months in Spain had been a parallel reality. While at the same time we could not for of repeating "Oh my God, it's true that we are here!"
We spent about five days in this great city because we had to arrange a visa for what will be our country over the next 6 months: Indonesia. During those days took the opportunity to do what best gives us try all kinds of food, and for that Malaysia is the ideal country because the mix of Malay, Chinese and Indian, the result is a cuisine very interesting.

Indonesia
Visiting Flores

My sister and I were lucky enough to really get off the beaten track on our recent trip to Indonesia. The archipelago has an experience for everyone, from stays in traditional villages with no hot water to luxurious five star hotels - plus hidden-gem boutique hotels that only a handful of people know about (and want to keep that way!).

We started in Maumere, on the island of Flores, and worked our way to the more well-known Labuan Bajo. Our first outing, a visit to the illuminous volcanic lakes at Kelimutu, began before dawn. After catching the sunrise, we hiked our way to the traditional village of Belaragi, where we were welcomed with open arms (despite being a bit sweaty on arrival!). By evening, we were sipping on Arak, a traditional alcoholic drink made from palm sap, under the full moon. With the occasional 'oink' from a pig or bark from one of their dogs, we really felt the remoteness of our location. The villagers sacrificed a chicken for our dinner (an experience perhaps not for the faint hearted), which was then cooked over the open fire and served with delicious rice and green vegetables.

Ruteng

In the morning, we headed onwards to Ruteng, where we shared our accommodation with nuns in the local monastery. Despite being comfortable, the nuns had a strict rule that everyone must be in bed before 9pm, so (no arguing with Sister Ruteng!) we ate our dinner at a local restaurant early and were tucked up by nine.

komodo-island-beachkomodo-dragonkomodo-island-sailing
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Dragon-spotting on Komodo Island

Posted by DrucillaC 19:21 Archived in Indonesia Tagged skylines #sisters4life Comments (0)

Afrcia

Madagascar, South Africa, Morocco

semi-overcast 23 °C

ARRIVING IN MADAGASCAR WAS THRILLING BECAUSE ALL I COULD HEAR WAS THE SOIND OF THESE COOL BIRDS MAKING COOL MUSIC.
THE WEATHER WAS WARM AND IT RAINED A BIT , BUT IT WAS ALSO BREEZY. THE TOURIST THAT TOOK ME AROUNDS' NAME WAS CLARIEN AND SHE TOLD US THAT HER MOTHER GAVE HER THAT NAME WHILE SHE WAS ON THE JOURNEY TO FUFILLING HER CAREER PATH BECAUSE SHE FINALLY IT WAS CLEAR TO HER. THROUGHOUT THE MORNING WHILE DRIVING CLOSE TO THE COAST , CLARIEN HAPPILY SHARED PERSONAL STORIES OF WHERE SHE GREW UP AND WHAT IT TOOK TO GET HER THIS FAR. AFTER THE LONG DRIVE CLOSE TO THE EAST COASTLINE OF MADAGASCAR WE WENT TO THE LLE SAINTE MARIE . ILLE SAINTE MARIE IS SO BEAUTIFUL, I LOVE THE VIEW OF CLEAR BLUE WATER STRECHED ACROSS THE BAY. IT WAS THE PEFRECT BACKGROUND SETTING FOR PICTURES! SO WE TOOK SOME ON THE SAND SHORE AND IN THE WATER. THE WATER WAS AMAXING , UNLIKE ANYTHING IVE EVER SEEN. SNORKELLING UNDERWATER AND WRECKS OF SEVERAL PIRATE SHIPS ARE ONE OF THE ACTIVITIES THAT CAN BE ENJOYED WHILE HERE, I WAS LUCKY ENOUGH TO EXPEIENCE UNDERWATER SNORKELLING . I SAW AN ARRAY OF FISH FROM THE SIZE OF MY THUMB TO THE SIZE OF MY BODY. I HAVE TO ADMIT THAT I WAS A BIT SCARED BECAUSE BEING SO UPCLOSE WITH THEM DIDNT EVEN FEEL REAL AT ALL .

THE NEXT DAY IN MADAGASCAR WAS AN ADVENTURE I WONT EVER FORGET. IN THE MORNING AT 5 AM, MY TOURSIT CALLED ME TO SAY THAT SHE HAS SOMEWHERE TO TAKE ME, SOMEWHERE LIKE A ZOO ; BUT NOT EXACTLY. SO I GOT UP ATE BREAKFAST AND GOT DRESSED! I PACKED MY CAMERA AND MY 1 LITRE WATER BOTTLE FOR THE ROAD AND I WAS FINALLY READY TO START MY DAY. THE NAME OF THE PLACE WHERE WE WENT TO IS CALLED RANOFAMANA NATIONAL PARK. THE LANDSCAPE IN RANOFAMANA IS PHENOMINAL , FROM THE LARGE MOUNTAINS TO THE DENSE FOREST TREES THE SIGHTING WAS BETYOND IMAGINABLE. WE EVEN WITNESSED THE HOT SPRINGS THAT'S CLOSE BY THE AREA, ALONG THE TRAILS. I WISH I WOULD HAVE PACKED SOME BINOCULORS!! OH YES , THE WATERFALLS SEEMED LIKE A GUM COMMERCIAL, THE LIGHT MIST OVER US GAVE US THAT FRESH MYSTICAL LOOK - AS THE ONES YOU WOULD SEE ON TV . IT WAS PRETTY FUNNY AND COOL TO EXPEIENCE THAT. AFTER A COUPLE HOURS AT THE NATIONAL PARK, MY STOMACH STARTED TO GROWL AND MAKE LOTS OF NOISE MY TOURSIT AND I WENT TO DINE AT THIS RESTURANT CALLED 'MAD ZEBU' IT WAS QUITE FAR AWAY BUT CLARIEN INSISTED THAT I TRY THEIR FOOD. I WAS IMPRESSED WITH THE DISHES CAUSE IT WAS TOP NOTCHT AND SERVICE WAS GREAT.

FINAL DAY IN MADAGASCAR ENDED WITH A TRIP TO THE BEACH AT NOSY BE, THE PRICES FOR THE ROOMS AT NOSY BE IS EXTREMLEY HIGH BUT IT WAS DEFINITLEY WORTH THE MONEY. SCENERY AT NOSY BE IS INCREDIBLE, THERE'S LARGE VOLCANOES LAKES AND WILD ANIMALS. BUT THERE'S ALSO NOT MUCH BLING ON THE STREESTS ,LIKE THE STREETS OF TORONTO. IT MORE LOOKS LIKE AN OLD TOWN THAT NOT EVERYBODY WOULD ENJOY. BUT, ONLY THE PEOPLE WHO LIKE TO FEEL ALWAYS RELAXED AND OCCUPIED BY THE NATURE OF EARTH WOULD APPRECIATE IT. ENOUGH RAMBLING NOW! SO ANYWAYS THERES THIS DISTILLERY IN NOSY BE WHERE THEY MAKE OIL FROM YLANG, YLANG TREE FLOWERS. YLANG YLAND LOOKS LIKE A LEAFY GREEN TREE WITH BRIGHT YELLOW FLOWERS SORTA DROPPING DOWN. I'LL ADD A PICTURE OF THE TREE. THE SMELL IS SO FRANGRANT , FROM WHERE WE WERE AT THE BACK , THE SMELL JUST TRAVELLED AND THE AROMA WAS LIKE OF AN ORCHID OR SOMETHING!!AFTER THEE BEACH WE WENT TO THE MALL TO GRAD LUNCH. I WAS REALLY TRYING TO AVOID MALLS BECAUSE OF HOW MUCH I GO BACK HOME BUT, IT WAS THE CLOSEST PLACE TO GET FOOD. SURPRISINGLY THE MALL WAS NOTHING LIKE I EXPECTED IT TO BE, CAUSE IT WAS MORE OF A MARKET THEN OUR STANDARD SHOPPING MALL. SO WE GOT FRESH FRUITS AND A HOT PLATE OF CHICKEN AND RICE. I ENJOY THE FOOD HERE , ITS PRETTY GOOD AND NOT THAT DIFFERENT FROM HOME . ANYWAYS THIS IS THE END OF MY JOURNEY AT MADAGASCAR! CLOSING, ID LIKE TO SAY THAT ID DEFINITLEY COME BACK HERE NEXT TIME TO VISIT TSIRIBIHANA RIVER

South Africa
Visiting Somerset West

Visiting Morocco

Just about 50 kilometres from Cape Town and its world-famous attractions (including Table Mountain, the V & A Waterfront and Robben Island) is the ever-growing historical town of Somerset West. As an integral part of the Helderberg, Somerset West is, technically, part of the municipality of Cape Town, but has an entirely different vibe and atmosphere to the Mother City. Somerset West remains quiet and community-oriented; home to retirees, young families and regular holiday-makers. It exudes the air of being a vacation hotspot.
Surrounded by the magnificent Helderberg Mountain Range, Somerset West boasts breath-taking views of the some of the most beautiful part of the Western Cape. In the clear, warm air of the South African summers, these mountains and the extensive coastline of this part of the country really are nothing short of spectacular.
Somerset West has a number of exciting attractions, many of which take advantage of the natural splendour around the town. Some of the most popular of these include:
The Cape Winelands and the Helderberg Wine Route
The Cape Winelands lure people from all over the world to visit the Western Cape and sample its superior wines. The Helderberg Wine Route is part of the greater Winelands and represents the wines that come from this unique soil and climate. Stroll through the vineyards, take formal tours of the cellars, learn about the wine-making process and taste some of the finest wines in the country, even the world. These include reds, whites and rosés, as well as sparkling wines. Most of the wine farms are suited to families with children, as there are restaurants and beautiful areas in which to be relaxed and refreshed. The Vergelegen Wine Estate is an opulent one that is situated on the cusp of the Somerset West’s town boundaries. The original farm house remains as a museum, and the wines are exquisite.
The Helderberg Nature Reserve
The gorgeous flora of the Western Cape is showcased to perfection in this 402-hectare reserve. The natural abundance makes for the ideal habitat for well over 100 different bird species, which attract bird-watchers from all over the world. This is also a fabulous attraction for those that enjoy hiking and walking trails, and self-guided paths that invite them to explore the area, savour the scents and feel the warm air on their faces. Significantly, of the more than 600 plant species in the Helderberg Nature Reserve, 13 are threatened. The picnic area means that, after completing one of the local rails, experiencing the fauna and flora, and taking great pictures, families and friends can relax and enjoy delicious treats in gorgeous surrounds.
Somerset Mall
With more than 200 different shops, this sizeable mall promises endless shopping opportunities and plenty of entertainment. This is one of the largest shopping centres in the province and includes eight movie houses, a large bowling alley, games arcade, boutiques stores, popular chains, and an extensive variety of food. The facilities are fantastic, and this mall is close to both Cape Town and Somerset West. It is suited to those using wheelchairs.

The Koutoubia is the city’s most important mosque, and by far its most significant landmark. It was built in one year, 1162, by the Almohad ruler Abd el Mumin, and is held to be an exemplary building of Almohad art at its best—a cathedral mosque of classic simplicity and perspective.

The construction was quite a feat, as normally a mosque of such grandeur and architectural perfection would take centuries to build. It did take the Almohad ruler two tries, however, and the ruins of the first attempt still remain beside the present Koutoubia. The first structure was almost perfect, except the focus point or prayer niche (called the mihrab) did not face Mecca. Whoops!

The minaret is the Koutoubia’s principle feature—all 67.5 metres (221 feet) of it. It is composed of six rooms, one on top of the other. The cupola on top of the minaret is a symmetrical square structure topped by a ribbed dome and three golden orbs. These are alleged to have been made from the melted-down jewellery of Yaqub al-Mansur’s wife, in penance for having eaten three grapes during Ramadan—a time when Muslims should be fasting. I learned a lot about Islam and how different religions have their beliefs and their similarities. I was glad that I learned to be open minded about many cultural things throughout the trip.

Posted by DrucillaC 16:26 Archived in Madagascar Comments (0)

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